Monday, February 18, 2008

Possible Druid grave unearthed near Colchester

"A series of graves found in a gravel quarry at Stanway near Colchester, Essex, have been dated to 40-60 A.D. At least one of the burials, it appears, may have been that of a Druid, according to a report published in British Archaeology.

Within the wooden, chambered burial site, researchers have excavated a wine warmer, cremated human remains, a cloak pinned with brooches, a jet bead, divining rods (for fortune-telling), a series of surgical instruments, a strainer bowl last used to brew Artemisia-containing tea, a board game carefully laid out with pieces in play, as well as other objects.

Archaeologist Mike Pitts said the collection mirrors basic medical tools from other parts of the Roman world.

The board game and its arranged pieces, however, are anything but common. None other like it has ever been found at Roman-era sites in Great Britain.

Surviving metal corners and hinges from the board allowed Pitts to reconstruct it as an 8-inch by 12-inch rectangle. Raised sides suggest dice might have been used. The white and blue glass counters were positioned with care. Some were straight across the sides, another in a diagonal line and one white marker close to the board’s center.

Pitts believes the game may have been another “divination tool,” along with the rods, jet bead and scent bottles also excavated at Stanway.

Philip Crummy, director of the Colchester Archaeological Trust, told Discovery News that the person in the burial could very well have been a Druid “given the healing and divination attributes..."

"He is, however, not yet convinced the person was Celtic, since the medical kit was “fairly Romanized” and the individual may have acted “like a Roman surgeon/doctor would have done.”

“Divination was widely practiced in the Roman world too,” he added.

Because of site’s age and location, Pitts is more inclined to believe the person was indeed a Celtic Druid and could have been closely related to Cunobelin, a chief or king of the Catuvellauni tribe."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Historical Staunton England may be site of Roman town

ROMAN artefacts and wreckage from a Second World War plane found in Staunton will take pride of place at this year's Snowdrop Sunday. The Roman artefacts and the wreckage are being exhibited thanks to retired Staunton farmer Sid Baggaley. Mr Baggaley, who died in 2000, ploughed the fields of Staunton for 40 years, keeping Roman artefacts he found in his barn.

The finds only came to light after he met keen local archaeologist, Di Ablewhite.

Mrs Ablewhite, of Long Bennington, said: "Mr Baggaley farmed the Staunton estate for 40 years and while ploughing he would stop when he found something interesting and he would dig it up.

"He found a lot of pieces of Roman pottery and kept it all in his barn. Only after talking to myself did he try and find out more.

"The finds cover most of the Roman era from the first century to the fourth."

The field where the artefacts were found was given ancient monument status this month, giving Mrs Ablewhite of Farndon Archaeological Research Institute (FARI) more time to investigate the site.

Initial geophysical surveys have indicated the presence of structures beneath the ground.

Mrs Ablewhite said: "We should be able to do a survey to see if there are any buildings there. We will start this summer."

Friday, February 01, 2008

70 Sicilian tomb raiders to face judgment day

"Seventy tomb raiders will face a judge for a preliminary hearing in Gela, in southwest Sicily, in February, the Art Newspaper reports.

The defendants were caught by Operation Ghelas, which has dismantled a major Italian antiquities smuggling operation across Western Europe. Carried out by the Italian Cultural Patrimony Protection (TPC) squad, the operation concluded last summer with an unprecedented 85 indictments and 52 arrests. Fifteen tomb raiders have already pleaded guilty to various charges.

More than 2,000 antiquities were recovered, such as amphorae, statues, and coins from major archaeological sites in Sicily."

I wonder what sentence those pleading guilty received? I wonder what percentage of antiquities the tomb raiders handled were actually recovered?