Sunday, February 28, 2021

Archaeologists Uncover First Recorded Tier List in Ancient Rome

ROME — After reconstructing an ancient piece of pottery featuring various Roman gladiators categorized by their perceived strength, ability, and matchup spread, a team of archaeologists in Italy determined that they had unearthed the earliest example of a recorded tier list.

“It’s generally accepted that gladiator fights existed mostly to distract and placate the Roman citizens,” said lead archaeologist David Bradford. “Our discoveries this week suggest this distraction extended far beyond the coliseum, with some Romans wasting hours upon days debating whether such-and-such fighter was top 5 or just top 10. It’s incredible how much energy these ancient Romans wasted on these debates when they could have been working on improving their skills instead.”

Bradford’s team also discovered a series of broken tablets etched with the discussions and debates that lead to the creation of this tier list, which they have come to refer to as “the Smashed Boards.” Thanks to modern reconstruction techniques, many of these comments were able to be translated and preserved in a digital archive.

“There is no way Pollentius is A tier,” read one Smashed Board comment. “His spear’s range gives him the edge against heavy fighters, but he has a losing matchup against faster gladiators like Audacius, or Mordax the Swift. He’s B tier at best.”

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Pompeii: Archaeologists unveil ceremonial chariot discovery

Experts believe the chariot may have been used in ceremonies such as weddings HANDOUT VIA EPA

Archaeologists in Italy have unveiled a ceremonial chariot they discovered near the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

The four-wheeled carriage was found near a stable where three horses were uncovered back in 2018.

Experts believe it was likely used in festivities and parades, with the find described as "exceptional" and "in an excellent state of preservation".

Pompeii, engulfed by a volcanic eruption from Mount Vesuvius in AD79, is an archaeological treasure trove.

The volcanic eruption buried the city in a thick layer of ash, preserving many of its residents and buildings.

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Archaeologists find unique ceremonial vehicle near Pompeii

A detail of the decoration of a chariot, with its iron elements, bronze decorations and mineralised wooden remains, that was found in Civita Giuliana, north of Pompeii. Photograph: AP

Archaeologists have unearthed a unique Roman ceremonial carriage from a villa just outside Pompeii, the city buried in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD.

The almost perfectly preserved four-wheeled carriage, made of iron, bronze and tin, was found near the stables of an ancient villa at Civita Giuliana, about 700 metres north of the walls of ancient Pompeii and close to where the remains of three horses were unearthed in 2018, including one still in its harness.

Massimo Osanna, the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site, said the carriage was the first of its kind discovered in the area, which had so far yielded functional vehicles used for transport and work, but not for ceremonies.

“This is an extraordinary discovery that advances our understanding of the ancient world,” Osanna said, adding that the carriage would have accompanied festive moments for the community, such as parades and processions.

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Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Bredon Hills Roman Coin Hoard, Birmingham Museums: a window onto grassroots archaeology

Birmingham Museums On Demand (Photo: Press)

The story of the discovery of a stash of 3,800 Roman coins is part of a paid-for programme of talks available online from this month

Aside from ring pulls and rusty nails, metal detectorists in England and Wales each year unearth quantities of old coins, with the Bredon Hills Hoard one of the most impressive amateur hauls of recent times.

The story of this stash of 3,800 Roman coins, discovered in the Worcestershire countryside in 2011, launches Birmingham Museums On Demand, a paid-for programme of talks available online from this month.

In fact, Victoria Allnatt’s talk focuses on the role of Finds Liaison Officers like herself, archaeologists whose job it is to record and value artefacts found by members of the public while out walking, or digging the garden, but most often while using a metal detector.

These archaeologists work under the auspices of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, set up by the British Museum and National Museum Wales in response to the 1996 Treasure Act, to formalise procedures for people who unexpectedly strike gold.

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Thursday, February 18, 2021

A14 upgrade: Ancient relic engraved with giant phallus found by archaeologists

An ancient millstone engraved with a giant penis was found by A14 archaeologists 
(Image: Highways England)

An ancient relic engraved with a giant penis has been found by archaeologists working on the A14 upgrade project.

The team responsible for examining the finds unearthed on Britain’s biggest roads project were shocked to find a 2,000-year-old millstone decorated with an enhanced phallus.

"The phallus was seen as an important image of strength and virility in the Roman world," explained Steve Sherlock, Highways England’s Archaeology Lead for the A14.

He added that Roman fighters would often wear good-luck charms engraved with penises before entering battle.

The millstone, traditionally used for grinding grains, was recently pieced together by archaeologists MOLA Headland Infrastructure.

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Saturday, February 13, 2021

Arena similar to Rome’s Colosseum discovered in western Turkey

An unearthed section of the amphitheater in the Nazilli district of Aydın province, western Turkey, Feb. 12, 2021. (DHA Photo)

Archaeologists have unearthed an “arena,” or rather, an amphitheater, resembling Rome’s world-famous Colosseum, in Turkey's western province of Aydın. Authorities say the structure, which is mostly buried underground, is a unique example of Eastern Roman architecture in Turkey.

The structure, whose outer walls were dug up, was introduced to reporters at Mastaura, an ancient city in Aydın’s Nazilli district.

Umut Tuncer, head of the Directorate of Culture and Tourism in Aydın, said 80% of Mastaura was buried under soil over time, but even the small part uncovered by archaeologists was enough “to demonstrate the spectacular features of the city.” “This might be the only arena preserved in its entirety here in Turkey. The preservation was maintained as it was buried for years. The basic outline is visible now and we plan to unearth more this spring,” he said.

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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Archaeologists discover friends of Caesars inside Vatican City

Marble funerary shrine with the four-year old child Tiberius Natronius Venustus.
(photo credit: VATICAN MUSEUM)

So far, 250 magnificent burials of the Roman elite have been unearthed inside the walls of the Vatican City.

New burials discovered inside the Roman necropolis of Santa Rosa, standing under what is now Vatican City, have shed light on burials that housed the servants and slaves of the Roman Caesars.

So far, 250 magnificent burials of the Roman elite, servants and freed slaves from the Julio-Claudian era to the times of Emperor Constantin have been unearthed inside the walls of the Vatican City, revealing the life of the rich and poor in Rome.

The Roman necropolis stood on the current hill of the Vatican along the ancient Via Triumphalis. Until now, only a small area of about 1,000 square meters has been investigated by archaeologists.

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Archaeology dig at Caernarfon Castle offers new history insight

The year-long dig began in January 2019 CADW

The largest archaeological investigation at Caernarfon Castle has uncovered clues that will change understanding of the World Heritage Site's early history, experts say.

Among the excavation's finds included sherds of 1st century Roman pottery along with tiles and animal bone.

Researchers also uncovered clues to the history of the site before the castle.

Ian Miller, from University of Salford, said it has a "huge impact on the way we understand the history of the site".

The castle, which staged the investiture of Prince Charles in 1969, was built by Edward I in 1283 on the site of what was once thought to be a Roman fort.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Archaeology breakthrough as 'dark earth' at Vindolanda site discovers rich 'secrets'

Vindolanda: The ancient site held 'dark earth' which pointed to untold secrets
(Image: GETTY)

ARCHAEOLOGISTS were stunned by a patch of "dark earth that held untold secrets" about Vindolanda's rich post-Roman history.

The Roman Empire's conquest of Britain got underway nearly 2,000 years ago. Emperor Claudius led the charge, a move that would alter the path of this island's history forever. Invasion began slowly at first, with the number of Romans entering gradually increasing over the centuries.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Evidence of Roman reprisals in Essex?

More than 17 roundhouses were uncovered within a defensive enclosure at Cressing, near Braintree in Essex. CREDIT: Oxford Archaeology East

A recently revealed Iron Age settlement in Cressing, near Braintree in Essex, appears to have been almost completely destroyed during the second half of the 1st century AD. Dating to around the time of the Boudican uprising of AD 60/61, could this be evidence of Roman reprisals against local groups who had supported the rebel queen’s campaign?

The site of the settlement was excavated last year by Oxford Archaeology East in advance of residential development by Countryside Properties. Located on a prominent ridge overlooking the Brain Valley, the settlement’s position, along with some of the artefacts recovered from the site, suggest that it may have been of some regional importance during the late Iron Age and early Roman period.

A large enclosure appears to have been first constructed during the late 1st century BC, with more than 17 roundhouses built within its defences. The gullies of some of these roundhouses were over half a metre deep and probably would have enclosed buildings up to 15m in diameter. Aligning with the central roundhouse was a large avenue-like entrance leading from the enclosure.

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Monday, February 1, 2021

Climate Change In Antiquity: Mass Emigration Due To Water Scarcity

Buried forever by the desert: ruins of Soknopaiou Nesos, a village in the Fayum region
of Egypt that was lost in late antiquity [Credit: Bruno Bazzani/WikiCommons]

The absence of monsoon rains at the source of the Nile was the cause of migrations and the demise of entire settlements in the late Roman province of Egypt. This demographic development has been compared with environmental data for the first time by professor of ancient history, Sabine Huebner of the University of Basel - leading to a discovery of climate change and its consequences.

The oasis-like Faiyum region, roughly 130 km south-west of Cairo, was the breadbasket of the Roman Empire. Yet at the end of the third century CE, numerous formerly thriving settlements there declined and were ultimately abandoned by their inhabitants. Previous excavations and contemporary papyri have shown that problems with field irrigation were the cause. Attempts by local farmers to adapt to the dryness and desertification of the farmland - for example, by changing their agricultural practices - are also documented.

Volcanic eruption and monsoon rains

Basel professor of ancient history Sabine R. Huebner has now shown in the journal Studies in Late Antiquity that changing environmental conditions were behind this development. Existing climate data indicates that the monsoon rains at the headwaters of the Nile in the Ethiopian Highlands suddenly and permanently weakened. The result was lower high-water levels of the river in summer. Evidence supporting this has been found in geological sediment from the Nile Delta, Faiyum and the Ethiopian Highlands, which provides long-term climate data on the monsoons and the water level of the Nile.

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