Thursday, December 18, 2008

Farmer uncovers pre-Roman sanctuary near Aprilia

I wonder how many artifacts the farmer managed to pass on to the black market before he was discovered!

"A farmer working his land south of Rome dug up hundreds of artifacts from a 2,600-year-old sanctuary, but ran afoul of police when he tried to sell the ancient hoard, officials said Wednesday.

After spotting fragments of pottery in soil dug up by the farmer, authorities searched his home last month and seized more than 500 artifacts, including perfume vials, cups and miniature vases used as votive objects.

The art squad of the Carabinieri paramilitary police said the farmer was placed under investigation for allegedly trafficking in antiquities. Ancient artifacts found in Italy are considered state property, and finds must be reported to authorities.

Archaeologists said they will continue to excavate the sanctuary, which dates back to the 7th-6th century B.C. and is located outside the town of Aprilia, near a small lake some 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Rome.

The find could expand knowledge about the area's history in pre-Roman times, when it was inhabited by Latin-speaking people under the influence of the Etruscan civilization that dominated central Italy, experts said.

The pottery, some of which was imported from Greece, was offered to a deity probably connected to the lake, said Stefano De Caro, director of archaeology at the Italian Culture Ministry." - More, GMA News.TV

Gynecology exam depicted on Roman lamp

The Romans seemed to have absolutely no taboos when it came to depicting daily life on such common objects as oil lamps. I guess this is a prime example:

A group of archaeologists has found in the northern Spanish region of Leon a ceramic lamp dating from the beginning of the 1st century that shows a representation of the gynecological exam performed on a sick woman.

Archaeology professor at Madrid's Universidad Complutense Angel Morillo, told Efe that this is a "unique find without parallel in the Roman world."

Morillo on Tuesday night in Leon city will present the results of the investigation that has lasted six years during a conference entitled "From the Legions to the Barbarians: New perspectives on Roman Archaeology."

The find is of an oil lamp, "an exceptional piece that illustrates the presence of doctors in the city," and - specifically - a military hospital, the expert said.

On the lamp's surface "appears a very slender woman, possibly affected by a serious illness, like cancer, and a doctor who is performing a gynecological exam with a vaginal speculum," Morillo said.

Possibly the image is of a specific examination that one of the Roman doctors performed, he said - More: Latin American Herald Tribune

3rd century Roman Battlefield uncovered in northern Germany

Well, it seems that Arminius didn't have the last laugh in northern Germania after all!

[A knife case binder. Photo: C.S. Fuchs]

ARCHAEOLOGISTS say the history books about Roman legions in Europe will have to be revised following the "sensational" discovery of a battlefield in northern Germany this week.

Arrowheads, axes, catapults, spears, coins and lucky charms of the centurions of Rome

who clashed with the Hun tribesmen in the 3rd century AD have been found in a forest. The clash of arms, say experts, would have resembled those portrayed in the Russell Crowe epic Gladiator.

Six hundred artefacts have been dug up so far in what archaeologists are calling "the find of the century".

The detritus of war lies in a patch of land near Northeim, about 50 kilometres from Hanover. The spear tips and arrowheads have the DNA of their victims on them, centuries after they died in a ferocious battle.

What makes the find unique is that it shows Roman armies in action long after the last clash — the great battle of the Teutoburg Forest in AD9 when Arminius annihilated three of the seven legions of Rome — was thought to have occurred.

"Evidently the Romans and Germans fought a bloody battle in the third century AD," said archaeologist Petra Loenne. "Some 1000 Roman legionnaires may have been involved in the fight."

Intriguingly, the find includes more than 300 iron projectiles that were fired by powerful Roman torsion weapons known as scorpions, which could catapult heavy darts with a high velocity and deadly accuracy.

It had a range of 300 metres and was portrayed in the opening battle scene of Gladiator.

"The bolts were found densely clustered," said archaeologist Henning Hassmann.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Source of ancient Fortis oil lamps and lead bullets found in Modena (Mutina)

The Big 'Brands' in Oil LampsItalian researchers have discovered the pottery center where the oil lamps that lighted the ancient Roman empire were made.

Evidence of the pottery workshops emerged in Modena, in central-northern Italy, during construction work to build a residential complex near the ancient walls of the city.

"We found a large ancient Roman dumping filled with pottery scraps. There were vases, bottles, bricks, but most of all, hundreds of oil lamps, each bearing their maker's name," Donato Labate, the archaeologist in charge of the dig, told Discovery News.

Firmalampen, or "factory lamps," were one of the first mass-produced goods in Roman times and they carried brand names clearly stamped on their clay bottoms.

The ancient dumping in Modena contained lamps by the most famous brands of the time: Strobili, Communis, Phoetaspi, Eucarpi and Fortis.

All these manufacturers had their products sold on the markets of three continents. Fortis was the trendiest of all pottery brands and its products were used up to the end of the second century A.D.

The ancient dumping contained other important objects, such as a fine terracotta statuette depicting Hercules as he captures the Erymanthian Boar, and 14 lead bullets which were probably used in the Battle of Mutina in 43 B.C. During that battle, Decimus Brutus, one of Julius Caesar's assassins, defeated the besieging Mark Antony with the help of Octavian, the future Roman Emperor Augustus.

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