Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Archaeology Classes on the Oxford Experience summer school 2024

Tom Quad, Christ Church, Oxford University – image David Beard

The Oxford Experience summer school is held at Christ Church, Oxford. 
Participants stay in Christ Church and eat in the famous Dining Hall, that was the model for the Hall in the Harry Potter movies.

This year there are twelve classes offered in archaeology.

Monday, January 29, 2024

‘Their heads were nailed to the trees’: what was life – and death – like for Roman legionaries?

‘It was killing fields as far as the eye can see’ … the Latin-inscribed slabs crossing the site of the battle, which features in the British Museum show Legion.
Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

‘Their heads were nailed to the trees’: what was life – and death – like for Roman legionaries?
It was the defeat that traumatised Rome, leaving 15,000 soldiers slaughtered in a German field. As a major show explores this horror and more, our writer finds traces of the fallen by a forest near the Rhine

It is one of the most chilling passages in Roman literature. Germanicus, the emperor Tiberius’s nephew, is leading reprisals in the deeply forested areas east of the Rhine, when he decides to visit the scene of the catastrophic defeat, six years before, of his fellow Roman, Quinctilius Varus. The historian Tacitus describes what Germanicus finds: the ghastly human wreckage of a supposedly unbeatable army, deep in the Teutoburg Forest. “On the open ground,” he writes, “were whitening bones of men, as they had fled, or stood their ground, strewn everywhere or piled in heaps. Near lay fragments of weapons and limbs of horses, and also human heads, prominently nailed to trunks of trees.”

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Link found between cold snaps during Roman Empire era and pandemics

Schematic drawing of the relationship between climatic change and sociological, physical, and biological factors influencing infectious disease outbreaks.
Credit: Science Advances (2024). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adk1033

A team of geoscientists, Earth scientists and environmental scientists affiliated with several institutions in Germany, the U.S. and the Netherlands has found a link between cold snaps and pandemics during the Roman Empire.

In their project, reported in the journal Science Advances, the group studied core samples taken from the seabed in the Gulf of Taranto and compared them with historical records.

Researchers learn about climatic conditions in the distant past by analyzing sediment built up from river deposits. Tiny organisms that are sensitive to temperature, for example, respond differently to warm temperatures than to cold temperatures and often wind up in such sediment. Thus, the study of organic remains in sediment layers can reveal details of temperatures over a period of time.

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Thursday, January 25, 2024

Mystery of 'unusual and largest ever' Roman hoard discovered in UK town finally solved


While the Knaresborough Hoard, as it came to be known, was found way back in 1864, never has there been a detailed analysis of the items included in it.

The people who found the hoard, in the tiny Yorkshire town, were also unsure about the story behind the hoard. All they knew was that it dated to the Roman period.

That has all changed after archaeologists at Newcastle University carried out the first comprehensive study of the collection, something that has finally 'revealed the mystery' after all this time.

Exactly 30 items make up the hoard, most of which are now on display in the Yorkshire Museum in York.

They were donated to the museum in 1864 by Thomas Gott, an ironmonger who was also a Town Councillor and lived in Knaresborough — though he was reluctant to reveal where they had been found or who owned the and from which they were pulled.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Spicy wine: New study reveals ancient Romans may have had peculiar tastes

Buried Roman fermentation jars (dolia) from Villa Regina, Boscoreale. 
Credit: E. Dodd, courtesy of the Ministero della Cultura – Parco Archaeologico di Pompei

It's no secret that the ancient Romans were lovers of wine. So gripped by the grape were they, that they even worshiped a god—Bacchus—devoted to wine and merriment.

But, little is known about what their wine actually tasted like. Was it bitter or sweet? Fruity or earthy? According to a pioneering new study, it was rather spicy and smelled like toast.

The study, published on Jan. 23 in the journal Antiquity, analyzed Roman clay jars, known as dolia, which were used to manufacture, ferment and store ancient wines.

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Roman Villa Associated with Pliny the Elder Discovered in Naples

Researchers in Naples have discovered an ancient Roman villa on the seafront thought to be the place from where Pliny the Elder watched Mount Vesuvius erupt.

Archaeological assistance sought during an urban regeneration project in the vicinity of Punta Sarparella in Bacoli, Naples, has led to the uncovering of the remains of a monumental Roman villa, dating back to around the 1st century AD.

The Structure, built using diamond-shaped cubilia in the opus reticulata form (decorative Roman wall facing), is comprised of ten large rooms in various stages of construction, and extends all the way to the beach from the site.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2024

See the Face of Roman Britain’s Only Known Crucifixion Victim

Only one victim of crucifixion has ever been identified in Roman Britain: The man’s skeleton—with a two-inch nail driven through its heel bone—was discovered during a dig in Cambridgeshire in 2017. Now, researchers have released a facial reconstruction showing what he may have looked like 2,000 years ago.

As Joe Mullins, a forensic scientist at Virginia’s George Mason University, says in the new BBC Four documentary The Cambridgeshire Crucifixion, “I am staring at a face from thousands of years ago, and staring at this face is something I will never forget.”

Mullins’ work usually involves working with law enforcement to reconstruct the faces of modern-day crime victims, according to a statement from George Mason. As he tells BBC News’ Katy Prickett, the ancient victim possesses “by far the most interesting skull I’ve worked on in my career.”

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