Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The ‘Ephesus’ of the Black Sea to be unveiled - Turkish Daily News Jul 24, 2007

The ‘Ephesus’ of the Black Sea to be unveiled - Turkish Daily News Jul 24, 2007: " The remains of an ancient city on the Black Sea coast will be unearthed for the first time next month. Archaeologists are beginning excavations and underwater dives with the aim of unveiling the architectural plan of Teion (or Tion), located in Zonguldak's Filyos district.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, archaeologist S�mer Atasoy said the excavation team conducted surface research last year but that the major digging will start in August with a 30-member excavation team.

He said they had outlined an aqueduct, a theater, defensive walls, a breakwater, a port and port walls by examining remains close to the surface. �The ancient city hosted many civilizations including Persians, Romans, Genoas and Ottomans. The work, which was carried out for the first time on the Black Sea coast, indicates that the ancient city was an important trade center in the region. Its inhabitants sold forest products and bonitos. We uncovered an ancient Roman theater with a 2,000-person capacity as well as marble and bronze statues.�"

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hadrian-era bath complex found inRome

A large 2nd-century bath complex believed to be part of a wealthy Roman's luxurious residence has been partially dug up, archaeologists said Thursday.

The exceptionally well-preserved two-story complex, which extends for at least five acres, includes ornate hot rooms, vaults, changing rooms, marble latrines and an underground room where slaves lit the fire to warm the baths.

Statues and water cascades decorated the interiors, American archaeologist Darius A. Arya, the excavation's head, said during a tour offered to The Associated Press on Thursday. Only pedestals and fragments have been recovered.

The complex was believed to be part of a multi-story villa that belonged to the Roman-era equivalent of a billionaire, a man called Quintus Servilius Pudens who was a friend of Emperor Hadrian, Arya said. It was unclear whether the baths were open to the public or reserved for the owner's distinguished guests.

800-year-old Roman grave in Veroia, Greece

Four 1800-year-old Roman graves have been uncovered during road works in the northern Greek city of Veroia, the Culture Ministry said Friday.

A statement said two gold earrings, a copper coin and ceramic pots were also found at the site, were municipal workers had been laying paving stones and upgrading the water supply network.

The graves are believed to be part of a Roman cemetery discovered in the 1960s outside the city's ancient walls.

Last original Roman arch in Britain?

CORBRIDGE could be sheltering the only original Roman arch left in England, says an architecture enthusiast.

The arch within St Andrew’s Church has long been thought a reconstruction using stone from the nearby Roman garrison settlement of Corstopitum.

But retired architect’s assistant Fred Bowler contends it is too well made to be a reconstruction.

“The church was built by the Saxons, who used to bodge things together,” he said.

“But the arch is perfect and has several decorative features, unlike the rest of the 8th century church tower above it.

“Whoever built that knew what they were doing.”

The arch is typically Roman in design, with spring stones that stand proud of the main wall and shaped arch stones that rise in a semi-circle to a definite key stone, he added.

“The arch is very similar to examples found elsewhere in the Roman empire, including France, Germany and Greece.

“But there are no other original examples in England – I think this could be the only one.”

He felt his theory was confirmed by the presence of worn stonework at the bottom of the arch, and indications on old maps that a road had once led straight up to it.

He now believes that the arch is all that remains of a Roman granary, or perhaps a small amphitheatre or coliseum.

“It looks like the stone has been worn away by wheels, probably on carts, going through the arch.

“There is a road marked on old maps, including one dated 1770 in Corbridge library, that goes in a straight line from Corstopitum to the arch.

“Who would build over an existing road? The archway must have been there first, before the Saxons built the church tower.”

Friday, July 13, 2007

Roman coins found on Western Isles

Ancient coins have been found on a beach in the Western Isles giving new clues to the far reaching influence of the Roman Empire.

Archaeologists believe the pieces of copper alloy date from the middle of the 4th Century. They were found in a sand dune, but the location in the Uists has been kept secret to protect the site.
Archaeologists said it was a "lucky find" as the coins were at risk of vanishing in a high tide.

Just seven other Roman coins have previously been found on the isles. A Roman brooch and pieces of pottery have also been uncovered in the past.

Kate Macdonald, an archaeologist who has lived on the isles for three-and-a-half years, said the new find was exciting.

She said the coins dated from the Iron Age in Scottish terms, but in England would be considered to be from the late Roman period.

The isles were a "hub of development" throughout pre-history because travel was easier by sea than land at that time, said Ms Macdonald.

However, she said it was likely to always remain a mystery how the coins arrived on the islands.

They were either brought back by islanders from the mainland, or by Romans.

Augustan Ruins Draw Visitors to Side, Turkey

Side is an ancient maritime city in Pamphylia, the region from the Mediterranean to Mount Taurus. Located near the Mediterranean villages of Manavgat and Selimiye in Antalya, this city was the seat of some of the most important ancient civilizations. With a visit to Side today, you will discover not only this history but also the striking natural beauty of this region.

The ruins of ancient Side include a Roman-style theater complex which was used for gladiator fights and later as a church; well-preserved city walls; a monumental gate dating back to the second century; old Roman baths; an agora where pirates used to sell slaves; the early Roman Temple of Dionysus next to the theater; a fountain and the remains of a Byzantine Basilica.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Bulgaria yields more Roman finds The excavations of Bulgaria's best-known archaeologist Georgi Kitov near Sliven have yielded yet more artifacts, this time from the Roman era, state radio BNR reported on Saturday.

The latest finds include two pairs of gold earrings, five rings, a ritual coin and a semi-precious stone, all found in a tomb dating to the first century AD, at the earliest.

All the items were found in the second of the 14 tombs Kitov plans to excavate this summer near the villages of Topolchane and Kaloyanovo in the Sliven region, southeastern Bulgaria.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Italain Carabinieri make dent in number of tombaroli

Pietro Casasanta had no Indiana Jones-type escapes from angry natives or booby-trapped temples. He worked undisturbed in daylight with a bulldozer, posing as a construction worker to become one of Italy's most successful plunderers of archaeological treasures.

When he wasn't in prison, the convicted looter operated for decades in this countryside area outside Rome, benefiting from what he says was lax surveillance that allowed him to dig into ancient Roman villas and unearth statues, pottery and other artifacts which he then sold for millions of dollars on the illegal antiquities market.

"Nobody cared, and there was so much money going around," he recalled in an interview with The Associated Press. "I always worked during the day, with the same hours as construction crews, because at night it was easier to get noticed and to make mistakes.”

Casasanta was the prince of the tombaroli, as the looters are known in Italy – and some of his finds are priceless.

But the tombaroli are dwindling.

Police and prosecutors believe they are beginning to see results in efforts to combat the traffic of stolen or illegally excavated antiquities which they say made their way to the world's top museums and collectors.

Gen. Giovanni Nistri, who heads the art squad with the Carabinieri, Italy's paramilitary police, said that in 2006 his unit discovered fewer than 40 illegal digs. In the late 1990s that figure could soar to more than 1,000 a year.

Will Hadrianoupolis Become Next Big Tourist Site in Turkey?

This article caught my attention because of the reference to mosaics as beautiful as those in Zeugma Mosaic are one of my favorite Greco-Roman art forms.

"Hadrianoupolis, or Paphlagonia in ancient times, was established in the first century B.C. and was inhabited until the eighth century A.D. The site was the region's largest province of the period. Last year's excavation works, which focused on four major areas called Bath A, Early Byzantine Church A, Byzantine Church B and Rome Tomb, uncovered 13 main sections of a Roman period bath as well as unique mosaics featuring many animal figures, such as horse, elephant, panther and deer. The mosaics are considered to be as magnificent as the mosaics unearthed in the ancient city of Zeugma in Gaziantep. The depictions of animal figures on mosaics, on the other hand, reflect unique samples of mosaic art from the late Roman period.

Excavations started four years ago and are scheduled to run through September 1. Short-term excavations will continue until the ruins have been fully uncovered. An archaeologist Ergun Laflı, the head of excavations in Hadrianoupolis who is also an academic at İzmir-based Dokuz Eylül University, and his team will conduct the excavations." - Turkish Daily News

"The archaeology of this region has been done very unevenly: the south coast has hardly been touched by comparison with the century and more of sustained excavation and survey on the other coasts. Inevitably the archaeological picture of these coasts in Antiquity looks strangely unbalanced, even though our literary texts offer moments of insight to the Classical Antiquity of Turkish Black Sea, spread across centuries and driven by a range of authorial agendas, e.g. Xenophon’s Anabasis, Strabo’s Geography, Arrian’s Periplus. Centuries later, the whole of Turkish coast of Black Sea is a live archaeological region, and the ongoing discoveries help shed more light on the facts of the past and on the incredible ancient prosperity of this region.

Beside local coarse wares the numbers of the so-called Pontic Sigillata found in the northern Aegean and Black Sea area may suggest a possible source in southern coast of Black Sea. There is good reason to believe the great potential in Roman field and nautical archaeology conducted in the region because of the existence of numerous discovered sites and ship wrecks with enourmous ceramic contents that will be helpful not only in explaining their production, but also ancient economy of Turkish Black Sea coastline.- Paphlagonian Hadrianoupolis Project

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Roman fort Galerius in Serbia added to World Heritage list

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee finalised this year's additions to the coveted World Heritage List at a meeting in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. The list now includes the Roman fortified palace of Galerius or Gamzigrad-Romuliana in the east of Serbia.

"The Late Roman fortified palace compound and memorial complex of Gamzigrad-Romuliana, Palace of Galerius, was commissioned by Emperor Caius Valerius Galerius Maximianus, in the late 3rd and early 4th century. It was known as Felix Romuliana, named after the Emperor's mother. The site consists of fortifications, the palace in the north-western part of the complex, basilicas, temples, hot baths, memorial complex, and a tetrapylon. The site offers a unique testimony of the Roman building tradition marked by the ideology of the period of the Second Tetrachy. The group of buildings is also unique in its intertwining of ceremonial and memorial functions. The relation between two spatial ensembles in this site is stressed by the tetrapylon which is placed on the crossroads between the worldly fortification and palace on the one side and the other-worldly mausoleums and consecration monuments on the other."

Temple of Orpheus to be restored

Officials announced that Bulgaria and Greece are planning a joint project to rebuild the Temple of Orpheus. The Temple, in the Rhodope Mountains and dated to 6,000 BCE, predates the great pyramids of Egypt. Over the centuries it was the scene of many religious pilgramages but was burned by the Thracian Odrysian tribe in the second century. It was later rebuilt by the Romans.

Anthropologist offers alternate origin of Masada bodies

It looks like now an anthropologist is challenging the findings of the 1960s excavation at Masada:

"An Israeli anthropologist is using modern forensics and an obscure biblical passage to challenge accepted wisdom about mysterious human remains found at Masada, the desert fortress famous as the scene of a mass suicide nearly 2,000 years ago.

A new research paper published Friday takes another look at the remains of three people found at the site and given a state burial by Israel as Jewish heroes. The remains, the study says, could actually be those of the Jews' Roman enemies.

The remains of two male skeletons and a full head of woman's hair, including two braids, were found in a bathhouse by archaeologists in the 1960s. They were long thought to belong to a family of Zealots, the fanatic Jewish rebels said to have killed themselves rather than fall into Roman slavery in A.D. 73, a story that plays an important role in Israel's national mythology.

Along with other bodies found at Masada, the remains were recognized as those of Jewish heroes by Israel's government in 1969 and given a state burial, complete with Israeli soldiers carrying flag-draped coffins.

But anthropologist Joe Zias and forensics expert Azriel Gorski write in a paper in the June issue of the journal Near Eastern Archaeology that the remains buried with honors may not have been those of Jews at all, but of Romans.

The paper focuses on the hair, noting the odd absence of a skeleton to go with it. The researchers' new forensic analysis showed an even stranger fact — the hair had been cut off the woman's head with a sharp instrument while she was still alive.

Zias' attempt to explain the discrepancy led him to the Old Testament's Book of Deuteronomy, where a passage says that foreign women captured in battle by Jews must have all their hair cut off, apparently an attempt to make them less attractive to their captors.

Zias concluded the hair belonged not to a Jewish woman but to a foreign woman who fell captive in the hands of Jewish fighters.

In his scenario, the woman was attached to the Roman garrison at Masada in A.D. 66 when the Zealots seized the fortress and killed the soldiers. Jewish fighters threw two Roman bodies into the bathhouse, which they then used as a garbage dump, judging by other debris found inside. The Zealots treated the woman captive according to Jewish law, cutting off her hair, which they threw in with the bodies."