Monday, January 31, 2005

Give us back our chariot, Umbrian villagers tell the Metropolitan Museum

Telegraph : "A tiny Umbrian village is taking on the mighty Metropolitan Museum in New York, claiming that one of its most exalted exhibits, an Etruscan chariot, was illegally exported from Italy 100 years ago.

The sixth-century bronze and ivory chariot, the pride of the museum's Etruscan collection, was originally sold to two Frenchmen by a farmer who dug it up in a field at Monteleone di Spoleto, near Perugia, in 1902.

According to family lore, the farmer received two cows in exchange. The local mayor, Nando Durastanti, believes that he actually swapped the chariot, one of the world's greatest antiquities, for 30 terracotta tiles. It was later dismantled and illegally exported from Italy, concealed in a grain shipment.

Said to be the only Etruscan chariot ever found intact, the 14ft by 4ft vehicle, showing scenes from the life of Achilles in relief, was part of a burial treasure.

It was found with the remains of two humans still sitting inside, along with two drinking cups, which helped date it to 530BC. The farmer, Isidoro Vannozzi, is said to have stumbled across it while digging a wine cellar. He hid the treasure in his barn, fearing that the authorities would confiscate it."

The Scotsman - International - New broom to make togas the Roman way

The Scotsman - International - New broom to make togas the Roman way: "RESEARCHERS in the ancient Roman town of Pompeii are attempting to revive 2,000-year-old traditions to reproduce imperial cloth used to make togas and uniforms.

The project follows successful production of Roman wine two years ago using methods that would have been employed in vineyards buried by a devastating eruption from Mount Vesuvius in AD79. Historians at the archaeology department in Pompeii are experimenting with wild broom as the base product to make the textiles.

They will be using the writings of ancient Roman scholars such as Pliny and Columella to make the cloth as well as relying on materials discovered within Pompeii in buried workshops."

Friday, January 28, 2005

Ancient Roman Rest Stop Provided Surprisinly Modern Amenities

Discovery Channel: "Underneath a German bus terminal, archaeologists have found the remains of a 2,000-year-old Roman roadside rest stop that included a chariot service station, gourmet restaurant and hotel with central heating.

Upon arrival, travelers would have entered a forecourt, where mechanics stood by at a chariot service station. Hay and water troughs would have given the horses a nibble and a drink while their owners dined on a variety of foods, including ethnic cuisine.

"We haven't found any brown sauce sachets, but we have uncovered many ceramic plates, pots, and pans," Sabine Sauer, an archaeologist for the city of Neuss, told the Telegraph newspaper in London. "We have found the rubbish tips - and although much of the organic waste has long since rotted away, we have clues as to what they ate from discarded pottery. There were spice jars containing garum sauces from North Africa, similar to what one might find in a Thai restaurant today."

She added, "We know from the bones that they ate a lot of meat - chicken and pork - as well as bread, rice, lentils and fruit. There were desserts of sweet cakes, cooked with sesame seeds and almonds. There must have been a flourishing trade; there were many fragments of wine amphora and broken plates."

After the big nosh, travelers would have had the option of staying for the night at the hotel, which was made of slate and bricked with narrow joints.

The foundation was raised to allow for a wood-fueled furnace at the bottom of the structure. Hot air from the fire would have risen naturally to fill chimneys located within the guest rooms. The hot air also warmed the walls, which were made of partially hollowed-out bricks.

Sauer said the complex was energy efficient, since the forests around Neuss already had been mostly depleted before the inn's heyday. In addition to the underground heating system, a slate roof on the building captured the sun's heat, somewhat comparable to how solar panels operate today."

Augsburg: Roman, Medieval and Rich

Deutsche Welle: "
Augsburg, Germany was shaped by the trade in salt and silver in Roman and medieval times. The ancient Roman Empire has left its traces in many parts of Augsburg, and its legacy is a continual source of amazement. Urban construction projects, for instance, often end up becoming more like archaeological digs since the most remarkable things turn up like a stone from a grave showing a wine transport.

Of course, historical artifacts are fairly common to Augsburg which was situated along the 'Via Claudia,' the road leading from Germania to Rome. Over the centuries, the route developed into a main trading route linking several major cities. "

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Roman work tossed in Athens stream "A first-century-AD work that is a Roman copy of a fourth-century-BC classical original and possibly represents Apollo Lykeios has been found in a stream in Athens. Yiorgos Steinhauer, head of the Culture Ministry?s local antiquities department said the statue could have been recently discovered by builders during construction work, and dumped in the streambed for fear archaeologists might stop the works if alerted to the find."

Friday, January 21, 2005

Malls pioneered by rich Romans

Telegraph : "The luxury housing estate and out-of-town shopping centre may need to be added to the long list of what the Romans did for Britain.

Work in Bath suggests that rich Romans were so keen to live close to city centre attractions that they abandoned the empire's traditional habit of building lavish villas in the countryside, well away from the neighbours and commerce within the city walls.

Excavations in Bath reveal that at least half a dozen elegant homes existed near each other and within easy reach of leisure areas. One villa was found while sprinkler pipes were being laid across a golf course. A second villa with mosaic floors was found a few hundred feet away."

Large Mosaic discovered in Domus Aurea excavation

MSNBC"A large mosaic, more than 9 by 6 feet, showing naked men harvesting grapes and making wine, a typical illustration for a Roman palace of the time has been unearthed by continuing excavations of the Emperor Nero's "Golden House" in Rome. Three of the men are stomping on grapes in a vat. One plays a double flute. They all seem to be having fun.

The mosaic adorns a giant arch buried in Colle Oppio, the hill on which Nero's palace stood. The mosaics were found more than 40 feet below the ruins of the Trajan Baths, a large structure built over the Golden House more than half a century after Nero's death by suicide. Experts are split over whether these artworks were part of Nero's estate or dated from an earlier building that he knocked down to make way for his mansion.

Falcons Fly to the Rescue of Ancient Herculaneum

Yahoo! News: "After being buried in boiling mud when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, the ruined ancient city of Herculaneum is now being deluged with acidic pigeon droppings.

The situation has got so bad that archaeologists have called in three falcons to scare away the hundreds of pigeons that have set up home in the once-vibrant Roman town."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Chariot Race Track discovered in Colchester

ThisisLondon: "Historians believe they may have discovered the world's biggest Roman chariot-racing track outside Italy ... in Essex.

The track was unearthed by archaeologists at the site of the Army garrison in Colchester. The 209-acre site was part of the Army base there."