Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ancient Female Skeleton Found in Rome

Ancient Female Skeleton Found in Rome: "Archaeologists said Tuesday they have dug up a woman skeleton dating to the 10th century B.C. in an ancient necropolis in the heart of Rome.

The well-preserved skeleton appears to be that of a woman aged about 30, said Anna De Santis, one of the archaeologists who took part in the excavations under the Caesar's Forum, part of the sprawling complex of the Imperial Forums in central Rome.

An amber necklace and four pins were also found near the 5.25 foot-long skeleton, she said."

"Alessandro Delfino, another archaeologist who took part in the excavations, said Monday's discovery highlighted a "social change" in the funerary habits of the people who dwelled in the area, from incinerating to burying the dead.

Experts have said the necropolis was destined for high-ranking personalities _ such as warriors and ancient priests _ heading the tribes and clans that lived in small villages scattered on hills near the area that later spawned one of the world's greatest civilizations."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Is Boudicca buried in Birmingham?

BBC NEWS: "The burial ground of Queen Boudicca could be next to a burger restaurant in Birmingham, it has been claimed.

An excavation is to take place at the site in Kings Norton after evidence it has Roman remains buried there.

Queen Boudicca, who led ancient tribes in battle against the Romans, died in 62 AD, possibly in the Midlands.

Dr Simon Esmonde Cleary, an archaeology expert from Birmingham University, was sceptical about the Boudicca claims.

He said: "The short answer is we don't know where the battle took place, anybody's guess is as good as anyone else's.

"The last time we had Boudicca was in what is now Hertfordshire. We know the Roman Army was coming down from Wales."

He said the battle could have taken place anywhere in between."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

SUR in EnglisSixth century human remains and artefacts found at Arroyo Vaquero burial ground

SUR in English: "Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Muslims have all left their mark on Estepona. A small part of the municipality?s history lies at Arroyo Vaquero, the site of a Roman settlement. It is two decades since the first remains of a Roman villa were discovered at the site surrounded by several tombs. At the time the land was placed under a protection order so that urban development did not encroach on the town?s cultural heritage. All excavations on the land were brought to a standstill until a developer bought it with a view to building on it. It was when construction work started that more archaeological remains appeared.

The most recent finds consist of about 50 tombs with human remains dating from the sixth to the seventh century AD. Among the artefacts are Visigoth jars made of pottery, rings, a buckle and several Roman coins from the fourth and fifth century. ?The remains are in very poor condition due to the ravages of time and the characteristics of the land, but the utensils are unique?, said the municipal archaeologist, Ildefonso Navarro. Recent excavation work on the Palaeo-Christian necropolis started six weeks ago. When the first part ends the Town Hall will send a report on the remains found to the Andalusian Government. Then a provincial commission will be set up by the regional Department of Culture to determine whether the burial ground is to be preserved or whether the items are to be removed from the site and put on display in a museum.

The councillor for Culture, Asunción López, said: ?If nothing more important appears the site will be developed and the green area where the Roman villa stood will be used for displaying the remains?."

Egypt to excavate submerged Roman city "The Egyptian authorities have given the go ahead for the underwater exploration of what appears to be a Roman city submerged in the Mediterranean, Egypt's top archaeologist said yesterday. Zahi Hawass said in a statement that an excavation team had found the ruins of the Roman city 35 km east of the Suez Canal on Egypt's north coast. Archaeologists had found buildings, bathrooms, ruins of a Roman fortress, ancient coins, bronze vases and pieces of pottery that all date back to the Roman era, the statement said. Egypt's Roman era lasted from 30 BC to 337 AD. The excavation team also found four bridges that belonged to a submerged castle, part of which had been discovered on the Mediterranean coastline in 1910. The statement said evidence indicated that part of the site was on the coast and part of it submerged in the sea. The area marked Egypt's eastern border during the Roman era."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Budapest Celebrates Ancient Pannonian Roots

The Budapest Sun Online: "IT looked like a scene from The Gladiator, as thousands of spectators joined with the colorful, authentically costumed Roman citizens marching in procession, through the streets of ancient Aquincum, some three kilometers north of Obuda, on the morning of May 6.

The occasion for the gathering was to celebrate the 1,900th anniversary of the Emperor Trajan's elevation, in 106 AD, of the ancient Roman settlement of Aquincum to the rank of capital of the colony of Pannonia.

With its strategic location on the east-west and north-south trajectory, and its rich natural resources, the colony flourished to such an extent that Trajan's successor, the Emperor Hadrian soon decreed Aquincum the Capital of 'Lower Pannonia, Colonia Splendidissima.'

As was wont in ancient times, the celebrants gathered in the Roman Forum of Aquincum, around the tall, distinguished patrician figure of the Macro Magister Budorum, the Highest Governor of Buda the master of ceremonies, played by an actor of the Vidám Színpad (Comedy Theater). He looked perfect in the part, in his purple toga, thonged leather sandals, and a freshly braided laurel wreath on his head.

He set the scene perfectly, literally becoming the personage he was playing, as did the three squadrons of gladiators (including two females), the belligerent Celts - a group of tall, slim, blond young men, their faces painted with blue war paint, their hair streaked with clay, all wearing plaid homespun.

Other peoples of the Empire - Thracians, Parthians, Scythians, and Germans - gathered for the inaugural rites offered by the 'high priest and vestal virgins.' A horse-drawn chariot carrying the gods Jupiter, Hera, Pallas Athena, Cupid, and Bacchus, along with singers and comedians, reenacted the ancient rituals celebrating the coming of spring, from the days when Aquincum was a living, throbbing Roman provincial capital.

After the required sacrificial offerings had been made, the crowd, led by the governor general, proceeded from the forum, following an ancient pathway along the remains of the aqueducts, through freshly sprouted green underbrush and woods, the verdant greenery hiding the 20th century's ugly concrete high-rise houses between which our path led, to the Civic Amphitheater for the high point of the celebrations, the gladiatorial games.

The spectacularly clad gladiators of the "Familia Gladitoria Pannonia" set the pace of the procession, marching to the stern voice of their towering Commander: "uno, duo, tres, kvatro, uno, duo, tres, kvatro," the only thing to bring one back to our 21st century was this slight Hungarian twist to the Latin pronunciation of quattro. The credibility of the setting, characters, and sounds plunged us back into the first century AD, into the living reality of ancient Pannonia."

Ancient Etruscans are unlikely the ancestors of modern Tuscans, study finds

Ancient Etruscans are unlikely the ancestors of modern Tuscans, study finds: "For the first time, Stanford researchers have used novel statistical computer modeling to simulate demographic processes affecting the population of Tuscany over a 2,500-year time span. Rigorous tests used by the researchers have ruled out a genetic link between ancient Etruscans, the early inhabitants of central Italy, and the region's modern day residents.

The findings suggest that something either suddenly wiped out the Etruscans or the group represented a social elite that had little in common with the people who became the true ancestors of Tuscans, said Joanna Mountain, assistant professor of anthropological sciences.

'Very often, we assume the most simple explanation for something,' said Mountain, an expert in anthropological genetics. 'So when you find in a particular location the archeological remains of people, the simplest explanation is that those people are ancestral to whoever is living there now. How often do you get a chance to check that? Very rarely.'

The research advances the field of anthropological genetics by moving beyond simple storytelling about an ancient people to rigorous testing, using genetic data analysis, of a set of anthropological hypotheses, Mountain said.

The findings are documented in 'Serial Coalescent Simulations Suggest a Weak Genealogical Relationship Between Etruscans and Modern Tuscans,' published May 15 in the online version of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Uma Ramakrishnan, a former Stanford postdoctoral fellow, and Elise M. S. Belle and Guido Barbujani of the University of Ferrara in Italy co-authored the paper with Mountain."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Experts Rocked by Ancient Stones

Yorkshire Post Today: "Residents of a North York Moors village will be looking around them with fresh eyes after an unusual 'antiques' show offered them a new perspective on their surroundings.
A panel of eminent historians and archaeologists shared its expertise at the 'stone show' in Lastingham, where villagers raided their gardens and farm walls to bring peculiarly-shaped rocks and carved and weathered stones for identification.
Almost 50 specimens were produced, some travelling in pockets but others requiring rather more effort to lug along to the village hall.
The smallest items ? diminutive prehistoric axe hammers found in a field on the edge of the village ? were possibly the most exciting finds, along with a foot-high stone pillar identified as a Roman incense burner.
Other ancient pieces of stone were shards of flint discarded by Anglo-Saxon arrow makers with more recent examples including 18th and 19th century garden statuary.
But villagers were intrigued to hear that carved chunks of limestone which had graced their gardens might be surviving fragments of 14th century window frames from a grand building."

Archaeologist Flummoxed By Roman Burial Site (from Oxford Mail)

(from Oxford Mail): "Oxford archaeologists have discovered a large and significant Roman burial ground on the site of a gravel quarry.

Stunned experts had hoped to find a small farmstead at the site near Fairford, Gloucestershire, but instead discovered more than 100 graves.

Dr Alex Smith, of Oxford Archaeology, who is leading the excavation of the site, said it was a "very significant" discovery.

The burial ground is divided into two, with separate sections for adults and children a common practice in late Roman times. He said the site believed to date back 1,700 years was one of the biggest in the region and was exciting because of its sheer volume."


Archaeologist Flummoxed By Roman Burial Site (from Oxford Mail)

(from Oxford Mail): "Oxford archaeologists have discovered a large and significant Roman burial ground on the site of a gravel quarry.

Stunned experts had hoped to find a small farmstead at the site near Fairford, Gloucestershire, but instead discovered more than 100 graves.

Dr Alex Smith, of Oxford Archaeology, who is leading the excavation of the site, said it was a "very significant" discovery.

The burial ground is divided into two, with separate sections for adults and children a common practice in late Roman times. He said the site believed to date back 1,700 years was one of the biggest in the region and was exciting because of its sheer volume."


Friday, May 12, 2006

Sabine chariot rewrites history "An ancient king's war chariot found in a tomb near Rome has helped rewrite the history of the Romans and their Sabine rivals .

"This chariot is an exceptional find," said archaeologist Paola Santoro .

"It shows that the city of Ereteum remained independent long after the Sixth Century BC." "In other Sabine cities like Custumerium, conquered by the Romans, the custom of putting regal objects in king's tombs had died out by that time" .

"We can say that Eretum kept its independence until the Fourth Century BC." Santoro said her team had recovered all the metal parts of the bronze-and-iron decorated chariot and had used echo-soundings to trace the imprints of the long-decayed wooden parts .

"This will enable us to reconstruct the whole chariot," she said .

The chariot, which accompanied the king on his last journey, was placed at the entrance to the tomb, the largest chamber tomb ever found in Italy .

Santoro's team have also found an Etruscan-style terracotta throne - "a metre high, worthy of the king's stature" - and four large bronze cauldrons with bull-hoof supports .

Less than a dozen of this type of cauldron had been discovered before, Santoro said .

The tomb was found in the main room in the three-room complex, next to a wall recess where a wooden coffin containing the king's ashes would have been placed .

The horses that had drawn the chariot would have been sacrificed at the entrance to this room, Santoro said .

Ancient Burial Chambers Unearthed in Rome

Ancient Burial Chambers Unearthed in Rome: "An unusual network of burial chambers was recently excavated and more than 1000 elegantly dressed corpses were uncovered. The chambers were found in 2003 when archaeologists were repairing one of Rome's catacombs that is closed to the public, the Catacomb of Sts. Peter and Marcellinus. The chambers, a series of large rooms, are believed to be from the second century and may be an early Christian burial place. Experts also think that the deaths may have been caused by an epidemic or natural disaster because of the large number of bodies buried during a short period of time. The bodies were dressed in nice clothing with gold threads and were neatly wrapped in sheets."

These burials sound verty intriguing. I don't remember reading anything about them in 2003. I wish there had been a link to earlier related articles.

Further searching brought me to another article in Catholic online. It added:

"Balsamic fragrances were also applied, according to Raffaella Giuliani, chief inspector of the Roman catacombs, who spoke with Vatican Radio May 1.

The archaeologists discovered a large room behind one of the painted walls of the catacombs, then a series of similar rooms.

"These were not galleries or cubicles, but big rooms completely full of skeletons. We had to work very carefully to excavate them without destroying them," Giuliani said.

"We were amazed at the high number of individual corpses found in these rooms," she said. The rooms appear to predate the catacombs, which were built in the third century.

Giuliani said the experts believe they were Christian burial places, in part because Christians of that time dedicated great care to burial. Early Christians buried rich and poor with great dignity, in expectation of the resurrection of the dead..."

Exquisite Treasures of Roman York unearthed

Yorkshire Post Today: "A gold ring and a carved jet pendant were found together as staff from York Archaeological Trust investigated a city centre site before it was redeveloped.
Both are thought to date from the fourth century and archaeologists were delighted to find two such pieces in the same place.
The gold ring is set with an oval stone, probably a carnelian, and is decorated with beaded wires, with decorative pellets in the bezel in which the stone is set.
'Carnelians were favoured by the Romans because of their blood-red colour,' said the trust's finds researcher Nicola Rogers.
'This ring is thought to be late Roman, probably from the fourth century.'
The jet pendant is an animal, possibly a bear, about one inch tall and standing on a small platform.
'He is almost identical to a find made in 1845 in Bootham where a group of Roman graves were uncovered,' said Ms Rogers."

Augustan head found in villa well in Italy

United Press International : "A marble, bas-relief, head of the Emperor Augustus has been found at a large and well-appointed Roman villa site near Rome.

The head, showing the emperor in profile in his middle years, is to be displayed at the Roman Antiquities Museum at Palazzo Massimo,"

Monday, May 08, 2006

Archeologists excavate 2,000-year-old road - Science - "Deep beneath pavement pounded by tourists on Paris? Left Bank lies an ancient path ? a 2,000-year-old Roman road recently excavated during construction work.

Remnants of private houses rigged with baths and ingeniously heated floors were among the findings, now on view in a stunning dig. Over the next few weeks, however, archaeologists will rip up the ruins to make way for a research center.

Archaeologists said it was the first such site discovered in the city ? known as Lutetia in pre-Roman and Roman Gaul ? from the reign of Roman emperor Augustus (63 B.C.-14 A.D.).

Items from daily life such as flowerpots, ceramics, bronze chains and drawer handles were dug out and will soon be exhibited in museums.

?We are trying to find out about the foundation and founders of the city,? Busson said, adding, ?It is exceptional that a Parisian site be so well-preserved.?

Archeologists are divided over the background of this neighborhood?s builders. Most contend that a Gallic aristocracy, recruited by the Roman army to fight in their civil wars, probably came back from the battlefield and settled in the area.

The Romanized returnees built the city according to Roman norms, but used local materials. They were wealthy enough to own a private Roman bath ? the jacuzzi of the era ? found in one of the houses discovered beneath the university.

The neighborhood stands on the old ?cardo maximus,? the Roman main street, which was originally paved for the Romans to cross the nearby Seine River and is today the Rue St. Jacques in Paris? chic 5th arrondissement, or district."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

UK museums, treasure hunters agree code of conduct |

UK museums, treasure hunters agree code of conduct | "Museums, metal detectorists and archaeologists in England and Wales on Tuesday agreed a code of conduct to try to protect the country's buried treasures from being plundered by the unscrupulous or the unaware.

The voluntary code follows the massive looting of the Roman-Celtic temple at Wanborough in Surrey in the mid-1980s and with customs officers seizing increasing numbers of undeclared historical artefacts being smuggled out of the country.

'This code represents a major step forward,' Mike Heyworth of the Council for British Archaeology told reporters at the British Museum.

'Most detectorists are only interested in finding and preserving local antiquity ... and make a positive contribution to our historical knowledge,' he said. ' There are just a few illicit detectorists motivated solely by profit.'

In recent years amateur metal detectorists have unearthed, declared and been rewarded for some invaluable ancient artefacts like the Ringlemere Gold Cup, the Winchester Hoard of Iron Age jewelry and the bronze Roman Staffordshire Moorlands Pan.

Under the code, detectorists must get permission to search, join a recognized detectorists club, log the precise location of any find and report it to the landowner -- who has a share in any valuation -- and the portable antiquities scheme."

I hope this code of conduct works. I know when I was in Britain recently I purchased a certified 4th century Roman military cloak brooch from an established antiques center in York so I hope it was properly recorded and offered for sale legally.

A large Roman-era villa is discovered

A large Roman-era villa is discovered: "Italian archeologists have reportedly discovered the remains of a huge Roman villa near Florence -- the first ever in the popular tourist area.

'Villas like these were fully fledged factories for the production of wine, olive oil, meat, corn and other products,' said archaeologist Fausto Berti, who led the dig at Montelupo Fiorentino.

'We`ve found big animal pens, warehouses and even a workshop for making ceramic vases. The owners were self-sufficient,' he told the Italian news service ANSA.

The 500-meter-square villa has fully equipped baths with all the areas Romans used to produce various levels of heat, warm water and steam -- and a cooling area.

The Montelupo villa is open to the public during weekends but reservations are required."