Monday, August 25, 2008

Archaeologists may have discovered the capital of Dacia Malvensis in Romania

Archaeologists digging near the town of Cioroiu
Nou, in Dolj country in southern Romania, have come across a Roman fort
that might have been the capital of the province of Dacia Malvensis.

"We've made some important discoveries. We're almost certain that we've
unearthed the capital of Dacia Malvensis, something archaeologists were
searching to find for hundred of years," Mihai Fifor, director of
Oltenia Muzeum, told the local press agency NewsIn.

Dolj country is located in southern Romania and almost two millennia ago it was part of the Roman province of Dacia Malvensis.

Until now, it was believed that the province got its name from its capital
Malva, like Dacia Porolissensis which was named after its capital
Porolissum, but archaeological evidence could not empower the theory.

"We're waiting for a confirmation that it really is Malva. Our experts from
the University of Craiova are currently analyzing an inscription we've
found. It is the first time an inscription bears the name of this Roman
city," said Fifor.

Due to the outbreak of the Marcomanic Wars, when German tribes forced the border of the Roman Empire, Emperor Marcus Aurelius split the Dacian province in three financial districts, Dacia Porolissensis, Dacia Malvensis and Dacia Apulensis and added
another legion to the one already present in Dacia.

Other important findings have been reported near the town of Cioroiu Nou.

Archaeologists have discovered a temple, a necropolis, administrative and military
buildings all suggesting the presence of a Roman fort. Additionally,
statues, coins, weapons and ceramics were discovered. - Daily India

Possible Home of Allectus found on Isle of Wight

Mosaic inside the Brading Roman Villa

Remains of a Mosaic inside the Brading Roman Villa discovered at the site in 1879
Photo: Clara Molden

The discovery is one of the largest and best-preserved Roman villas yet discovered in the country.

Shaped like a church, the building was discovered on the Isle of Wight, and has been likened to a medieval hall.

remains were discovered at the site of another Roman villa in Brading,
and are believed to have been constructed 150 years before the other

The later Brading villa's remains had disappeared from
sight until 1879 when a couple of local men stumbled across them by

Its ornate decorations are unrivalled in Britain and the
building may have belonged to Allectus, who in AD293 murdered his
predecessor Carausius, a Roman army commander who had proclaimed
himself Emperor of Britain. -

Sagalassos Dig Yields Marcus Aurelius Statue

Parts of a giant, exquisitely-carved marble sculpture depicting the
Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius have been found at an archaeological site
in Turkey.

Fragments of the statue were unearthed at the ancient city of Sagalassos.

So far the statue's head, right arm and lower legs have been discovered, high in the mountains of southern Turkey.

Last year, the team led by Prof Marc Waelkens, from the Catholic
University of Leuven in Belgium, uncovered fragments of a colossal
marble statue of the emperor Hadrian in the rubble.

This month, the researchers found a huge marble head belonging to Faustina the Elder - wife of the emperor Antoninus Pius.

Archaeologists now think the room hosted a gallery of statues
depicting the "Antonine dynasty" - rulers of Spanish origin who
presided over the Roman Empire during the second century AD.

Foot of Marcus Aurelius statue (Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project)
The emperor wore army boots decorated with lion skins

Early on 20 August, a huge pair of marble lower legs, broken just above the knee, turned up in the room's debris.

They also found a 1.5m-long (5ft-long) right arm and hand holding a
globe which was probably once crowned by a gilded bronze "Victory"

But it was the giant marble head which identified this statue
as the young Marcus Aurelius. The colossal head, which is just under 1m
(3ft) in height, is said to bear his characteristic bulging eyes and

Prof Waelkens said the pupils were gazing upwards "as if in
deep contemplation, perfectly fitting to an emperor who was more of a
philosopher than of a soldier".

He added that this was one of the best-known depictions of the Roman ruler.

The emperor wore exquisitely carved army boots decorated with a lion skin, tendrils and Amazon shields.

The torso was probably covered in bronze armour filled inside
with terracotta or wood. When the niche's vault collapsed in the
earthquake, the torso would have exploded. - BBC News

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Head of Faustina Found in Sagalassos Frigidarium

Archaeologists digging in Turkey have found the colossal marble head of a Roman empress.

It was discovered in a rubble-filled building where parts of a huge statue of the emperor Hadrian were unearthed last year.

The discovery, at the ancient site of Sagalassos, is thought to show Faustina the Elder, wife of Roman emperor Antoninus Pius. Sagalassos was once an important urban centre. It was abandoned after being hit by several strong earthquakes.

A team led by Marc Waelkens, from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, has been excavating the site since 1990.

The head of Faustina was lying face down in rubble that fills
the ruins of a bath house that was partially destroyed by an earthquake
between AD 540 and AD 620. It was unearthed just 6m from the spot where the Hadrian statue was found, but was sitting higher up in the rubble.

At first, exacavators thought they had found a statue belonging
to Hadrian's wife, Vibia Sabina, who was forced into a marriage with
the homosexual emperor at the age of 14.

But when they turned it over, the face was very different from
the usual depictions of Sabina. This was a more mature woman with
fleshy lips and a distinctive hairstyle.

The building in which the statues were found at Sagalassos was
probably a "frigidarium" - a room with a cold pool which Romans could
dip into after a hot bath. It is part of a larger bath complex that is being carefully uncovered by archaeologists.

The fragments were found not on the floor of the frigidarium -
beneath the rubble from the earthquake - but higher up in the debris
pile. This suggests they did not originally stand in this room, but
were hauled there from elsewhere in the bath complex - probably from
the "Kaisersaal", or emperor's room. They speculate that the Kaisersaal once hosted statues of
Hadrian, Faustina the Elder and other members of Rome's so-called
Antonine dynasty - many of whom belonged to a Spanish or southern
French provincial aristocracy. The Hadrian statue was probably brought to the frigidarium
either to remove its gilded armour or to be burned to cement in a
nearby kiln.

If this is the case I'm so glad the workman were somehow interrupted. I shudder to think of all of the magnificent art that was destroyed just to provide common building material.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Roman Temple Unearthed in Zippori

"Ruins of a Roman temple from the second century CE have recently been unearthed in the Zippori National Park.The discovery indicated that Zippori, the Jewish capital of the Galilee during the Roman period, had a significant pagan population which built a temple in the heart of the city center. The central location of the temple which is positioned within a walled courtyard and its architectural relation to the surrounding buildings enhance our knowledge regarding the planning of Zippori in the Roman era.

The building of the church on the foundation of the temple testifies to the preservation of the sacred section of the city over time. This new finding demonstrates not only the religious life, culture and society in Roman and Byzantine Zippori, but also that this was a city in which Jews, pagans and later Christians lived together and developed their hometown with various buildings.

The newly discovered temple is located south of the decumanus - colonnaded street - which ran from east to west and was the main thoroughfare in the city during the Roman through Byzantine period. The temple, measuring approximately 24 by 12 meters, was built with a decorated fa├žade facing the street. The temple’s walls were plundered in ancient times and only its foundations remain.

No evidence has been found that reveals the nature of the temple’s rituals, but some coins dating from the time of Antoninus Pius, minted in Diocaesarea (Zippori), depict a temple to the Roman gods Zeus and Tyche. The temple ceased to function at an unknown date, and a large church, the remains of which were uncovered by the Hebrew University excavation team in previous seasons, was built over it in the Byzantine period.

North of the decumanus, opposite the temple, a monumental building was partially excavated this summer. Its role is still unclear, although its nature and size indicate that it was an important building. A courtyard with a well-preserved stone pavement of smooth rectangular slabs executed in high quality was uncovered in the center of the building, upon which were found a pile of collapsed columns and capitals - probably as a result of an earthquake. The decoration on these architectural elements was executed in stucco. Beyond a row of columns, an adjacent aisle and additional rooms were discovered. Two of them were decorated with colorful, geometrical mosaics."