Thursday, January 26, 2006

Unearthing history in the heart of ancient Rome. by Derek Wilson. Wanted in Rome

Unearthing history in the heart of ancient Rome. by Derek Wilson. Wanted in Rome: A cremation tomb that has been identified as going back to the 11th or 10th century BC, long before Romulus and Remus appeared on the scene has been uncovered in the Roman forum.

"Looking down into the forums from Via dei Fori Imperiali on the way to Piazza Venezia, the well-tomb, a perfectly circular hole in the ground, lies just to the right of the senate house in the Forum of Caesar. This forum was the first to be built, carved out of a former saddle between the Quirinale and Capitoline hills in 46 BC, and is thus on top of the tomb, which is suspected to be the first trace of a whole yet undiscovered ancient necropolis in the area.
Speaking to reporters, a jubilant Eugenio La Rocca, head of the Rome council?s cultural heritage department, dated the tomb to somewhere between the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age. ?It was a real surprise to find rich furnishings inside it,? he exclaimed. The findings included a funeral urn and eight hand-worked, patterned vases in terracotta. They contained tiny bronze miniatures of weapons, and elsewhere what seemed t o be the bones of a bird, placed there, La Rocca presumed, to accompany the deceased on his journey to the beyond, as was the custom. The riches were found after first rolling back the tomb?s cover, a weighty round slab of tufa, and then removing its seal, a container in the stylised shape of a hut, a model akin to real huts found much later on the Palatine Hill.
La Rocca and the director of the dig, Roberto Meneghini, both deduced that such a rich tomb must have been that of the head of a clan, a patriarch ruling over one of the scattered groups of families, or settlements, that had gathered around a fording point on the Tiber when the future Rome was still only a wild place of heavily wooded, isolated hills interspersed by tricky marshes."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Roman artifacts thought to come from 1929 dig

"The discovery of Roman artifacts, possibly from JRR Tolkien's dig at the Lydney Park Estate, is proving far from an open and shut case. An early 20th century suitcase containing ancient pottery has been handed to the county council after it was found at a quarry near the Severnside town.

County archaeologist Jan Wills said the finds were a mystery. She said: 'It looks as if it could belong to Lydney Park. I'm in contact with them as we believe it was found on estate land.'

It is thought the case could relate to the dig around the Roman temple site on the estate in 1929 by eminent archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler. One of his assistants was The Lord of the Rings writer Tolkien."

Ancient 'Cyclops' wall collapses "Part of a massive wall started in around 600 BC around the central Italian town of Amelia collapsed on Wednesday morning for reasons still unclear .

The so-called Polygonal walls around Amelia are famous not only for their age but also their size. Built out of huge polygonal stones, they are 8-10 metres high and about 3.5 metres thick .

The 800-metre long wall, which now has a breach in the section to the right of the old city gate, has always impressed archaeologists for the skill with which it was built .

According to local legend, it was constructed by the Cyclops, the one-eyed monster encountered by Greek hero Ulysses .

Amelia was founded by Umbri king Amero who gave it his name .

Roman era rock tombs unearthed near Develi in Turkey

An archaeological exploration of the Adana region in Turkey originally launched by Cukurova University in 2002, has uncovered a wealth of ancient settlements in the area once known as Cappadocia.

"Among the archaeological finds in Develi are numerous tumuli, ancient settlements, wine production facilities where famous Cappadocia wines were produced, underground cities, sacred places and Roman-era rock tombs."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Alexander, Piece by Piece

I was so excited to read about the effort to recreate the famous Alexander and Darius mosaic. It is one of my favorite mosaics and I would have loved to have seen it in situ in the House of the Faun when I was in Pompeii this Spring. I hope it won't be too many years before I get a chance to return to Pompeii and see both the original in the Archaeological Museum of Naples as well as this new one.

Alexander, Piece by Piece: "In 2003, a team of artists from the International Center for the Study and Teaching of Mosaic (CISIM) in Ravenna, Italy, made an ambitious proposal to the archaeological superintendent of Pompeii: create an exact copy of the Alexander Mosaic and install it in its original home. More than two years, 16,000 hours of work, and $216,000 later, the most famous mosaic to survive from the ancient Roman world once again adorns Pompeii's House of the Faun.

One of the iconic images of the great Macedonian leader, the mosaic depicts a confrontation between Alexander and the Persian king Darius in the fourth century B.C. Since 1843, the mosaic has hung on the wall of the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, safe from the feet of Pompeii's two million plus yearly visitors, as well as from the rain and sun that have damaged the whole site. So why bring Alexander back to Pompeii? The House of the Faun was once Pompeii's biggest and most impressive urban villa, filled with simple but elegant decorations designed to demonstrate the vast wealth of the house's owners. But today, although the sheer size of the house is still clear, the brightly colored paintings and mosaics, the gleaming marble and bronze statues, the fountains, and the hustle and bustle of a palatial villa are gone. Superintendent Pietro Giovanni Guzzo wants to change that. 'I want visitors to have the impression that they are entering the same luxurious house in which the ancient Pompeian owners lived before it was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.'"

Ancient Roman Lighthouse May Have Been Destroyed by Tsunami

Turkish Daily News - Traces of tsunami in ancient city of Patara - Dec 27, 2005: "Archaeologists claim that an ancient lighthouse located in the ancient city of Patara on Antalya's Mediterranean coast might have been destroyed by a tsunami that hit the region in ancient times.

The ruins of the lighthouse were discovered two years ago during excavations that are still under way in Patara.

Professor Havva ??kan I??k, head of Akdeniz University's archaeology department, which is conducting studies in the ancient city, said they believed the lighthouse was destroyed by a tsunami since a human skeleton was found among the ruins.

I?ek said the skeleton could belong to a lighthouse keeper who was trying to escape a tsunami but was crushed under the lighthouse's stone blocks.

A bronze inscription the team discovered indicated that the lighthouse was built by the Roman Emperor Nero between A.D. 64 and 65."

Roman arrowhead among artifacts found in Temple Mount rubble

Arutz Sheva - Israel National News: "Archaeologists have discovered hundreds of coins and artifacts in Temple Mount rubble removed by Arabs who are building a huge underground mosque. Among the finds are a seal that was used to close sacks of silver at the time of the prophet Jeremiah, shortly before the destruction of the First Temple. The seal bears a name that suggest the owner may have been a brother of a priest named in Jeremiah's writings, according to Bar Ilan University Prof. Gabriel Barkai.

Also found was an iron arrowhead with a shaft used by the Romans in their attack on the Second Temple almost 2,000 years ago. Other finds date back to the Middle Ages and 'testify to large attendance at the Temple Mount during the Christian conquest and rule during the 11th to 15th centuries,' Prof. Barkai added."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Cache of Bronze Age Tools uncovered near Somerset

Edinburgh Evening News - UK - Legal history as mum faces killing charge: "Archaeologists have uncovered hundreds of Bronze Age tools at a construction site in Somerset. Some 800 pieces were found at the former hunting site that was in use 4000 years ago."

Mole family uncovers Roman villa

CBBC Newsround | UK | Mole family uncovers Roman villa: "A group of busy moles has been credited with helping archaeologists find a Roman villa in Gloucestershire.

Fragments of ancient tiles from the villa were found in molehills and are believed to have been pushed above ground by the creatures' burrowing.

The discovery was made in the Cotswold village of Withington where several other Roman villas have recently been uncovered."