Saturday, August 25, 2007

Roman soldier's footprint found in excavation of Hippos

Archaeologists have uncovered a footprint made by a sandal-clad Roman soldier in a wall surrounding the ancient city of Hippos.

"The print was made by a strappy, leather sandal of a type worn by the Roman military. Called caliga, the sandals of this time had iron hobnails hammered into their soles, which provided durability and traction as well as a weapon when kicking.

Other finds of the excavation project this summer at the ancient city of Hippos included the city's colonnaded street, extending 790 feet (240 meters), a marble-paneled bathhouse, a glass bottle with an embossed face and part of a statue of a Greek god. The archaeologists hope upcoming digs will reveal other pieces of the estimated 6.5-foot-high (2-meter) statue.

The sandal mark in the cement suggests the soldiers participated in the construction of the walls, the researchers say.

"This rare footprint, which is complete and well-preserved, hints at who built the walls, how and when," said researcher Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute at the University of Haifa.

Hippos, also called Sussita, overlooks the Sea of Galilee. It was established in the third century B.C. and flourished as a Greco-Roman city until the seventh century A.D. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in the year 749."

Temple of Jupiter and the Triad Capitoline unearthed in Sarmizegetusa Romania

"Romanian archeologists have found the Capitol of Sarmizegetusa, a temple in the ancient Roman province of Dacia, Rompres news agency reported Thursday.

"We were glad to confirm the suppositions we have been nourishing for 25 years, about the place where the Capitol lies, one of the most important temples of Roman Dacia," said Ioan Piso, an official of Transylvania National History Museum in central Romania.

"This is the temple of Jupiter and the Triad Capitoline, made of Jupiter, Junona and Minerva," Rompres quoted Piso as saying.

Such temples used to be erected in every Roman city, after the model of Rome, Piso said, noting the significance of the latest discovery to the history of Romania.

The Capitol of Sarmizegetusa is unique, because the dedication of the edifice meant that the cult of Jupiter had been officially brought to the Roman province of Dacia, Piso said.

"This happened around 150 AD and the temple's dedication day, May 23 by the Julian calendar, became one of the biggest feasts in Dacia," Piso added."

Roman coin hoard in Tamul Nadu region of India

I received a news alert that mentioned an area in India where a huge Roman coin hoard had been found recently. I didn't remember reading about it so I searched Google and found the following reference. This may not be the hoard they were talking about (is 1998 considered recent?). However, I found it interesting anyway.

"A team of archaeologists, which examined the Roman gold coins found recently at Nathampatti village near Srivilliputhur, was able to assess the exact date of the coins and the kings who issued them. According to a press release from Mr. C. Santhalingam, the Archaeological Officer of Tirumalai Naicker Mahal here, the three-member team comprising Mr. V. Vedachalam, Mr. C. Santhalingam and Mr. C. Chandravanan, under the directions of Mr. Natana. Kasinathan, Director of Archaeology, examined the coins. The coins were unearthed when the local people were engaged in laying water pipes. They were handed over to the police.

The team's findings pointed out that the nine coins had been issued by the Byzantine rulers. While five coins belonged to the period of King Theodosius II (402-450 AD), the other four belonged to that of King Leo I (457-474 AD). The team observed that all the coins have a same weight of 3.00 gms and 2 cm. diametre and are in good state of preservation.

The obverse of all the coins have same figures of a bust of richly dressed and well ornamented King with the legend denoting the name of the King DN Theodosius Augustus and DN Leo. On the reverse side, five coins have the standing figures of Victoria with winged shoulder and holding a cross in her right hand. The legend reads as VICTORIAAVVCCE. The other three coins have a seated King CONCORDI with cross and Sceptre in two hands. The other coins have some different figures and different legends like SALVS REPUBLIC AE and VOL NURI. The mint Constantinople where these coins were minted, is mentioned as CONOB. Seven coins have two holes which might have been used to insert strings to wear as ornaments. The rest two have no holes."

Many Roman coins were found in Kerala and the Kongu region of Tamil Nadu, which served as main resources of foreign trade. But most of these coins belong to the early period of Christian era (i.e.) 1-2 CAD. Roman coins were also found at one or two places in Tamil Nadu but meagre in number. Places like Alagankulam, Kulathupalayam, Mamallapuram had yielded Roman Coins of 4 CAD. Large amount of coins were collected from Madurai and Karur. They were all of copper. For the first time gold coins of 5 CAD has been found at Tamil Nadu. Scholars opined that Roman trade with Tamil Nadu almost ceased in the 2 or 3 CAD. But these new finds of gold coins had proved that the trade continued upto 5 CAD. Similar type of coins of King Theodosius II and Leo I were already unearthed in Akkiyalur hoard in Karnataka.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Intact 2,000-year-old Etruscan tomb discoverd in Civitella Paganico

Archaelogists have discovered a more than 2,000-year-old Etruscan tomb perfectly preserved in the hills of Tuscany with a treasure trove of artifacts inside, including urns that hold the remains of about 30 people.

The tomb, in the Tuscan town of Civitella Paganico, probably dates from between the 1st and 3rd centuries B.C., when Etruscan power was in decline, Andrea Marcocci, who led digging at the site, told Reuters.

"It's quite rare to find a tomb intact like this," said Marcocci, who had suspected one might exist in the area after work on a nearby road scattered pieces of artifacts.

Inside the tomb, a narrow corridor led to a small burial chamber, about 2 meters long and 1.79 meters wide, he said. It housed about 80 objects including vases and mirrors in bronze and ceramic. Urns holding human remains were also found."

Learn Etruscan phrases!

Team continues excavation of Visigothic remains at Marina Alta

"This summer dozens of students from all over Europe visited the Marina Alta town to toil in the sunshine as volunteer labour for the residential experts. Work took place on the slopes of the famous Penon de Ifach landmark -where remains of a 4th Century church has been discovered along with artefacts of a community dating back to 700 BC - and surrounding site of the Queen's Baths. However, it is the 5th Century church alongside the Roman baths and built over part of an extensive villa that has excited archaeologists. Ana Ronda, who is in charge of the dig, told Round Town News the church was constructed during the Visigoth Empire's spread into Iberia - after the once barbarian hordes converted to Roman Catholicism -and it was first identified in 2004.

"We have been very surprised at the sheer scale of the church and have yet to find the altar," she said. "However, we have uncovered the pool - the 'baptismo' - where people were baptised through total immersion. We are still trying to discover just how large the building is and so work continues." The dig has already identified 25 tombs, the graves unearthed inside and outside the walls of the church. Ana said skeletons were found in 23 of the graves. Discoveries from the project are taken to Alicante and housed in the MARQ archaeological museum. The Queen's Baths and Roman fish pools at Calpe were identified a number of years ago, along with a factory producing terracotta pottery. However, the huge villa alongside the baths and a Roman street and houses leading away towards the modern town are more recent finds."

Friday, August 03, 2007

Colossal statue of the emperor Hadrian discovered at Sagalassos, Turkey

This is truly a fantastic find. I always wondered what the colossal statue of Nero looked like that used to stand outside the Colosseum and of course we'd all like to know what the Colossus of Rhodes really looked like!

"A huge, exquisitely carved marble statue of the Roman emperor Hadrian is the latest find from Sagalassos, an ancient Greco-Roman city in south-central Turkey. Archaeologists estimate that the figure was originally between 13 and 16 feet in height (four to five meters). It is, says excavation director Marc Waelkens, one of the most beautiful portraits of Hadrian ever found.

The discovery was made by archaeologists from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), who, under Waelkens' direction, have been investigating the site since 1990. Last month a new excavation campaign started, and the Belgians resumed work at the Roman Bath, focusing on the southeastern corner of the complex.

On Sunday the first fragments of a over life-size statue, a foot and part of a leg, were unearthed. The foot is 31.5 inches (0.80 meters) long; the leg, from just above the knee to the ankle, is nearly five feet (1.5 meters). The elaborate sandal depicted on the footed indicated to the archaeologists that the fragments were from the statue of an emperor. On Monday, the almost intact head of the statue was discovered, revealing that the statue was of Hadrian, who ruled from A.D. 117 to 138. The head measures more than 27 inches (0.70 meters).

Construction of the bath complex in Sagalassos was started during Hadrian's reign, though the building was finished only several decades later. The bath complex is one of several major building projects at Sagalassos that can be dated to the time of Hadrian and the city had a sanctuary of the imperial cult dedicated to Hadrian and his successor Antoninus Pius.

The statue probably dates from the beginning of Hadrian's rule. For updates on the current excavation campaign, including any additional finds related to the Hadrian statue, see the Interactive Dig, City in the Clouds."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Archaeologists Excavate Ancient Roman Tannery

ROME -- Archaeologists excavating an ancient tannery believed to be the largest ever found in Rome said Tuesday they might need to move the entire work site, which is being threatened by railroad construction. The 1,255-square-yard complex includes a tannery dating to the second or third century, as well as burial sites and part of a Roman road.

At least 97 tubs, some measuring more than three feet in diameter, have been dug up so far in the tannery, archaeologists said.

The complex, located in the Casal Bertone area in the outskirts of Rome, lies between two tunnels of a high-speed railway being built to link Rome and Naples, said Stefano Musco, the director of the archaeological excavations.

"(Even though) there are only 109 yards of railway left to build, the archaeological complex has no chance of surviving," Musco told reporters during a tour of the dig. "Either it stays the way it is and the works are stopped or, if the railway must be built, these remains will have to be cut out and rebuilt entirely."

He said they might be moved to a nearby park.