Monday, November 30, 2015

2,000 years of Cologne's lethal Roman mother

She married her uncle, killed him and gave birth to both the Emperor Nero and the city of Cologne. On November 26th, a special exhibition opens in the cathedral city's Romano-Germanic Museum. It's the 2,000th birthday of Agrippina, the infamous "Mother of Cologne."
"I've not written a biography of Agrippina," author Mario Kramp told Germany news agency DPA.
Instead, he's been looking into the legacy and myth of this infamous Roman empress. And his conclusion?
"Since the Middle Ages, most of Europe has agreed that Agrippina was a monster," he said.
But in Cologne, it's a different story.
"Here, she's regarded as the founder of the city – so she can't be labelled a monster."
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Friday, November 27, 2015

Early Roman era fort found on Welsh island

Archaeologists say they have made a ground-breaking discovery on Anglesey. Experts have found what appears to be a small Roman fort on land near Cemlyn Bay and close to the Wylfa power station,. 

An new Roman era 'fortlet' has been found on Anglesey  [Credit: Gwynedd Archeological Trust] 

The 'fortlet' is thought to date back to the first century AD and is surrounded by a circular ditch which has not been seen anywhere else in Wales. 

And the Gwynedd Archaelogical Trust says the discovery is particularly exciting because it is the first early Roman military site to be found on the island. 

The conquest of Anglesey was famously described two thousand years ago in lurid detail by the Roman senator and historian Tacitus.

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Hoard of Roman silver coins found buried in Welsh field

The haul has been declared treasure and described by experts as a 'significant' find

A hoard of coins issued by Roman general Mark Antony have been discovered in a Welsh field Photo: National Museum Wales/Wales News

A hoard of silver coins issued by Roman general Mark Antony, discovered in a Welsh field more than 2,000 years after they were buried, have been declared treasure.
The coins, which experts believe could be worth tens of thousands of pounds, were found by two friends out walking with metal detectors near the village of Wick, Vale of Glamorgan.
One of the pair, consultant psychiatrist Dr Richard Annear, 65, reported the find to curators who were able to lift a small pot containing the coins out of the ground, according to the South Wales Evening Post.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What did the Romans do for us?: Roman road unearthed under Dorchester car park

ARCHAEOLOGICAL excavations at a building site in Dorchester have uncovered remnants of the main Roman road through the town.
Experts have been digging at Bennett’s Court car park off Colliton Street, where two homes are being built as part of the redevelopment of the Stratton House former council office campus.
Mike Trevarthen, Peter Bellamy and their team from Terrain Archaeology have been working at the site for around three weeks and have discovered some fascinating traces of the town’s rich history dating back to its time as the Roman town of Durnovaria.
Mr Trevarthen said: “We have dug up the edges of what appears to be the main north to south street within the Roman town.
“We have got part of the road make up and several phases of road enlargement.
“We have also got the roadside drainage ditches.”
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Italy roadworks unearth frescoed Roman room

A 2000-year old frescoed room has been discovered under a busy Roman street. Photo:Archaeological Superintendency Rome

Routine roadworks to install a gas pipeline under a busy street in central Rome have brought to light a 2000-year-old room plastered with frescoes.

The find was made three days ago, when workmen started to dig a hole for the pipeline in Via Alfonso Lamora.
As they began to remove pieces of earth from the road, a large chasm opened up in the road extending down into the dark, four meters below.
At first, the workmen thought it was an ordinary sinkhole and called in speleologists - or cave experts - to investigate. However, when the experts reached the bottom of the large cavern they were surprised to find themselves standing in the frescoed room of a once luxurious Roman home.
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1,700-Year-Old Ring Depicts Nude Cupid, the Homewrecking God

An intricately carved gold ring containing a stone engraved with an image of Cupid — a god associated with erotic love — has been discovered near the village of Tangley in the United Kingdom.

In the engraving, Cupid (also known by his Greek name, "Eros") is shown standing completely nude while holding a torch with one hand. The ring dates back around 1,700 years, to a time when the Roman Empirecontrolled England. The ring was discovered by an amateur metal detectorist. Researchers who studied it say that it may have been worn by a man or a woman and is engraved with spiral designs that contain bead-shaped spheres.

The image of Cupid is engraved on a stone made of nicolo, a type of onyx that is dark at the base and bluish at the top. The image on the stone "depicts a standing naked adolescent with crossed legs, leaning on a short spiral column; the short wings which sprout from his shoulders identify him as Cupid," Sally Worrell, national finds adviser with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and John Pearce, senior lecturer in archaeology at King's College London, wrote in an article published recently in the journal Britannia. [6 Most Tragic Love Stories in History]

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4,000 coins found in Roman treasure trove in Swiss orchard

A trove of more than 4,000 bronze and silver coins dating back to ancient Rome, uncovered this summer in the orchard of a fruit and vegetable farmer, has been described as one of the biggest treasures of this kind found in Switzerland.
The huge hoard of coins, buried about 1,700 years ago and weighing 15kg (33lb), was discovered in Ueken, in Switzerland’s northern canton of Aargau, after the farmer spotted some shimmering green coins on a molehill in his cherry orchard.
He guessed the coins were Roman, following an archaeological discovery a few months earlier, of remains of an early Roman settlement in the nearby town of Frick. He contacted the regional archaeological service , which later labelled it one of the largest such finds for Switzerland.
On Thursday the archaeological service announced that after months of digs, 4,166 coins had been found at the site, most in excellent condition.
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Large Roman villa unearthed in Kent

A Roman villa twice the size of Lullingstone's has been unearthed in Otford. The incredible find – revealed by the Chronicle this week – was discovered by amateur archaeologists digging on land near Otford Palace. 

Excavation work has started on the Roman villa at Otford
[Credit: West Kent Archaeological Society] 

The villa is thought to be the second largest Roman find of its kind in Kent and would have been occupied by a man of wealth and importance around the time of the Emperor Magnus Maximus. 

Chairman of West Kent Archaeological Society, Kevin Fromings said he had been waiting half his "archaeological life" for such a find. 

"It is big. There is Darenth Roman villa at Sutton-at-Hone which was excavated in the 60s and 70s – but this is certainly the next biggest in Kent.

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Plongées archéologiques dans la Charente : l’Inrap réalise un diagnostic subaquatique à Saintes

Avant le projet d’aménagement d’un appontement pour une péniche-restaurant sur la Charente (à hauteur de la place Bassompierre), la municipalité de Saintes a effectué une demande de diagnostic archéologique. Sur prescription de l’État (Drac Poitou-Charentes - Service régional de l'Archéologie), une équipe de cinq archéologues-plongeurs de l’Inrap intervient donc du 16 au 27 novembre 2015 sur une zone de 760 m2.

Une zone au fort potentiel archéologique

Le projet d’aménagement est situé sur la rive droite de la Charente, à proximité immédiate de l’axe routier reliant dans l’Antiquité Lyon, capitale des Gaules, à Saintes, nouvelle capitale de la Gaule Aquitaine. 
L’arc dit de Germanicus, érigé dans les 20 premières années de notre ère, était alors situé à l’entrée du pont romain et marquait ainsi l’entrée de la cité antique de Mediolanum Santonum (Saintes), implantée sur la rive gauche. 

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DNA study finds London was ethnically diverse from start

A DNA study has confirmed that London was an ethnically diverse city from its very beginnings, BBC News has learned.
The analysis reveals what some of the very first Londoners looked like and where they came from.
These initial results come from four people: two had origins from outside Europe, another was from continental Europe and one was a native Briton.
The researchers plan to analyse more of the 20,000 human remains stored at theMuseum of London.
According to Caroline McDonald, who is a senior curator at the museum, London was a cosmopolitan city from the moment it was created following the Roman invasion 2,000 years ago.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Pieces of Roman building reunited after 2,000 years

Two pieces from a Roman building sign destroyed 2000 years ago, possibly by the legendary Boudica, have been reunited thanks to a remarkable discovery made by the University of Reading. 

Fragments of inscribed marble [Credit: University of Reading] 

During the last season of excavating Silchester Roman Town in 2013, Reading archaeologists found a fragment of stone inscribed with the letters ‘ba'. Expert analysis has now astonishingly revealed that this matches a piece with the letters ‘At' which was found at Silchester in 1891, and is now part of Reading Museum's Silchester Collection. 

Together these read At(e)ba(tum) -  'of the Atrebates' - the French tribe who likely founded Silchester in 1st Century BC.  The two pieces were found approximately ten metres apart in the SE quarter of Insula III, a block of the Roman Town. They are probably from a slab of marble from Purbeck in Dorset, which was either a sign commemorating the construction of a significant building, or a dedication to a deity.

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fragments of Roman building sign discovered at Silchester

The two pieces were found approximately ten metres apart in the SE quarter of Insula III. Image: University of Reading

Reading University archaeologists discovered a fragment of marble inscribed with the letters ‘ba’ during the final season of excavating Silchester Roman Town in 2013 (Hampshire, southeast England). This fragment matches another piece with the letters ‘At’ which was found at Silchester in 1891, and is now part of Reading Museum’s Silchester Collection.
Together these read At(e)ba(tum) –  ‘of the Atrebates’ – the French tribe who likely founded Silchester in 1st Century BC.  The two pieces were found approximately ten metres apart in the SE quarter of Insula III, a block of the Roman Town. They are probably from a slab of marble from Purbeck in Dorset, which was either a sign commemorating the construction of a significant building, or a dedication to a deity.
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Roman amphitheatre found in Tuscany

Italian archaeologists have unearthed remains of an oval structure that might represent the most important Roman amphitheater finding over the last century. 

The amphitheatre emerges in Volterra  [Credit: Paolo Nannini] 

The foundations of the amphitheater, which is oval-shaped like the much larger arena in the heart of Rome, were found in the town of Volterra and might date back to the 1st century AD. Amphitheaters like these were used during Roman times to feature events including gladiator combats and wild animal fights. 

The archaeologists estimate this structure measured some 262 by 196 feet, although only a small part of it has been unearthed.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Explore 4,500 British Museum artifacts with Google's help

The British Museum in London holds an array of beautiful and historically significant artifacts including the Rosetta Stone, which helped historians to understand the ancient hieroglyphics used in Egypt. Today, the organisation is teaming up with Google to bring its various collections online as part of the Google Cultural Institute. The search giant has been developing this resource for years by continually visiting and archiving exhibits around the world. With the British Museum, an extra 4,500 objects and artworks are being added to its collection, complete with detailed photos and descriptions.
The most important addition is arguably the Admonitions Scroll, a Chinese text which dates back to the 6th-century. The piece is incredibly fragile, so it's only visible in the museum for a few months each year. Through the Cultural Institute, you can take a peek whenever you like -- and because it's been captured at "gigapixel" resolution you can zoom in to see some extraordinary details. All of the objects are searchable on Google's site, along with a couple of curated collections about ancient Egypt and Celtic life in the British Iron Age.
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Archaeologists uncover Roman roads from ancient Cyprus

Using photogrammetric technology, archaeologists imaged the surviving remains of Neo Paphos' ancient theatre

A team of Australian archaeologists has uncovered evidence of Roman roads and colonnades in Nea Paphos, Cyprus' ancient capital city.
A team of Australian archaeologists led by the University of Sydney’s Dr Craig Barker has uncovered evidence of Roman roads and colonnades in Nea Paphos, Cyprus’ capital city during the Hellenistic and Roman periods (c.300 BC-400 AD).
The University of Sydney team has been excavating at Nea Paphos for two decades under the auspices of Cyprus’ Department of Antiquities.  In that time it has uncovered and studied a theatre used for performance and spectacle for more than 600 years until its destruction in AD 365.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

'Roman villa' site in UK saved from housing

Land thought to contain important archaeological remains has been saved from being used for housing after a mystery benefactor bought it for a seven-figure sum. 

The Roman villa was first discovered to the east of Southwell Minster  in the 18th century [Credit: Google/Infoterra Ltd/Bluesky] 

The site in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, is next to where remains of a Roman villa have previously been discovered. The land has now been given to nearby Southwell Minster, which will act as custodian. It can only be used for educational, conservation and cultural purposes. 

The acting dean Canon Nigel Coates said: "It's a benefaction we never anticipated and he or she has been extraordinarily generous in giving us this site. It's their wish to remain anonymous but we do hope that in the future the connection with Southwell and the person's identity will be made known."

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