Monday, February 28, 2005

Roman coin hoard found in Norfolk

Roman coin hoard revealed: "A collection of 963 Roman denarii, including coins from 270 years of early British history, have been found by hobbyists near Norfolk. Most of the coins were found in a ceramic pot buried 14 inches down.

The earliest coins date from 32BC and feature Cleopatra's consort Marc Anthony. The most recent are from 240AD and the short-lived reign of teenage emperor Gordian III."

49 Headless Roman skeletons unearthed

Times Online - Britain: "ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed a Roman cemetery in York with the skeletons of 49 beheaded young men.

Experts from the York Archaeological Trust have yet to explain why the men had been decapitated. One of the victims was buried with thick iron rings around his ankles that had been forged on to him while he was alive.

There are also skeletons of seven children, though their bodies were not mutilated. Dr Ottaway believes that the men were beheaded as part of a ritual in order to ensure that they could not haunt the living.

The skulls were removed after death and placed in the grave by their feet, legs or pelvis. Analysis of the bones has suggested that all of the adult skeletons were young men under the age of about 45.

The skeletons date from about AD200, roughly when Emperor Septimius Severus came to York with an army to fight in Scotland."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Tomb of Saint Paul Found?

Discovery Channel : "A tomb that may contain the remains of Saint Paul, one of the Christian church's most important leaders and the author of much of the Bible's New Testament, has been unearthed in Rome, according to a Vatican Museums archaeologist.

"The tomb that we discovered is the one that the popes and the Emperor Theodosius (379-395) saved and presented to the whole world as being the tomb of the apostle," Filippi said, as quoted by the Catholic World News (CWN).

Filippi explained that the tomb was found at the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. This basilica was erected in the 4th century on order of Roman emperor Constantine in 386 A.D. Before Constantine's rule, Rome's leaders both shunned and persecuted Christians, who were forced to hide important tombs and relics. Ancient Rome also had a decree that no individual was to be buried within the main city confines.

Archaeologists discovered the sarcophagus on what would have been the ground floor of the 4th century basilica. It was found under the altar next to a marble plaque that reads, "Apostle Paul, martyr."

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Roman coffin found intact in London

Times Online - Britain"A ROMAN wooden coffin has been unearthed in London, the only example of its kind found in Britain.

Archaeologists expressed excitement that it had survived intact, centuries after other examples had disintegrated without trace. In dating from AD120, the new find is an unusually early example of a Roman burial.

It was not until the 3rd century AD that the Roman Britons generally buried their dead. Prior to this they usually favoured cremation. The skeleton belonged to a man over the age of 25, at a time when only 10 per cent lived beyond the age of 45.

The coffin, which went on display yesterday at the Museum of London, was found during building work in Holborn, on a steep side of the River Fleet, one of the many rivers that flow beneath London?s streets to the Thames.

Although the coffin was made of re-used old oak and included only a modest wine flagon, it does not necessarily reflect a low status. The skeleton shows a degeneration that tends to indicate a high-calorie diet. "

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Roman mosaic of naked harvesters is revealed under Trajan's Bath

Roman mosaic of naked harvesters is revealed under Trajan's BathA well-preserved, nearly 2,000-year-old mosaic depicting five frolicking naked men in a grape harvest scene is Rome's latest new, stunning find from digs into layers of history under the city's modern-day surface.

So far, the only ones to come face-to-face with the underground marvel is a team of cave explorers who lowered themselves into a space under the ancient Baths of Trajan, in the bowels of the Oppian Hill, one of the city's seven ancient hills.

"Having found a polychrome mosaic of such a size and quality when we didn't expect to find anything so prestigious is an exceptional thing which gave us indescribable emotions," said Marco Placidi, who lowered himself 42 feet into the earth to inspect the decoration.

The team of speleologists was brought in to get a full look at the 10-foot-long and 6-foot-high mosaic, which was first spied in 1998 by archaeologists who were digging through the subterranean structures of the Baths. They saw only a small detail of it by peeking with a tiny camera through a hole.

Archaeologists said Friday that the mosaic is believed to date between A.D. 64 and A.D. 100 and is likely part of the wall decoration of what was a large hall beneath the ruins of the hill, part of the sprawling grounds where Emperor Nero built his fabled Golden Palace, or "Domus Aurea."

"For its particular subject and quality, we believe this mosaic has set a model for other similar artworks" of the ancient past, said Giovanni Caruso, an archaeologist who supervised the excavation.

One of the five men depicted in the mosaic is picking bunches of grapes from a vine while another, portrayed from behind, is playing a double flute. The other three men, wearing leafy crowns, dance on harvested grapes in a rectangular vat.

Experts theorized that the mosaic decorated part of the extensive urban structures that were built in the area during the reigns of the seven emperors who came between Nero's rule (A.D. 54-68) and Trajan's (A.D. 98-117).