Category Archives: EUROPE

Sunken 17th-Century ‘Pirate Ship’ Discovered in Cornwall coast of England

Sunken 17th-Century ‘Pirate Ship’ Discovered in Cornwall coast of England

The two hand grenades.
The two hand grenades.

Hand grenades and cannons from the pirate ship’s wreck were found along the Cornwall coast in the United Kingdom from the 17th century.

Divers spotted artifacts from the wreck of the Schiedam, which sank off the coast in 1684 after some storms disturbed the sand that covered the objects on the seafloor.

According to Live Science, the Schiedam, originally a Dutch merchant ship, was taken by Barbary Pirates as a prize in 1683 and was subsequently seized by the Royal Navy and used for transport.

IFL Science reported, “The last of her days were spent as a transport vessel in the English Royal Navy before sinking to the seabed amid a storm on April 4, 1684, while loaded with ammunition from a failed British colony in North Africa.

It’s believed locals looted most of the wreckage, however, evidently, some of its treasures remain.”

A Sea Fight with Barbary Corsairs by Laureys a Castro, c. 1681.
A Sea Fight with Barbary Corsairs by Laureys a Castro, c. 1681.

The wreck was rediscovered about two years ago.Local historian and author Robert Felce told Fox News that he found one hand grenade in November 2018 at Dollar Cove on Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula.

Felce found a similar grenade at the site in May 2017.“I don’t use a metal detector – I use sight,” he explained. “I have become accustomed to what a lot of these things look like.”

The two 17th century hand grenades each consisted of a hollow iron shell filled with gunpowder.Felce told Live Science that he was a frequent visitor to the beach, which is exposed to strong waves from the Atlantic.

Both objects were heavily encrusted after lying on the seafloor for more than 300 years, and “Felce said he at first thought the latest grenade was an ordinary rock until he slipped and dropped it, and it broke open, revealing the two halves of the metal weapon and the explosive powder inside.”

Although the gunpowder in the grenade was damp and centuries’ old, he reported the find to the local police, who called in bomb-disposal experts from the Army to ensure that it was safe to handle.

The Schiedam was first discovered in 1971 by divers near the coast of Cornwall at a depth of 13 to 22 feet. Previous dives revealed an arsenal of weapons in the wreck, including numerous iron canons and carriage wheels.

A magnetometer survey in 1985 suggests that as many as 15 iron cannons may be buried under the sand.

David Gibbons of Cornwall Maritime Archaeology recently snapped a series of 3D photogrammetry images of the rediscovered wreckage.“The Schiedam is a fascinating wreck because it was carrying goods back in 1684 from the English colony of Tangier [Morocco], which had been abandoned to the Moors,” Gibbons told Cornwall Live.

“It represents a pivotal moment in history because the failure of Tangier led the English to look to Bombay instead.”Gibson continued: “Had the English succeeded in carving out a commercial enclave in North Africa and focusing their interests in the Mediterranean instead of in India, then the world would have been a very different place today.”

When the ship ran aground, there were no fatalities, which was unusual.“Because it was a government-owned ship by this time, they wanted to get as much of the cargo off, because it was ordnance,” Felce said in an interview.

“They had to draw on companies [of soldiers] from [the neighboring county of] Devon. These people salvaged as much as they could.”

3D photogrammetry of timber and stone from the ship’s wreck.
3D photogrammetry of timber and stone from the ship’s wreck.

Eight-year-old Swedish-American girl pulls pre-Viking era sword from lake

Eight-year-old Swedish-American girl pulls pre-Viking era sword from lake

Saga with the sword.
Saga with the sword. 

An 8- year – old girl on vacation with her family discovered a  pre – Viking Era Sword in a Swedish lake, leading to locals jokingly naming her the “Queen of Sweden.”

The ancient artifact was found by Swedish – American Saga Vanecek while playing in Vidöstern lake near her family’s holiday home.

Museum experts estimate that the sword is about 1,500 years old. A museum expert said that the sword is about 33 inches long and “exceptionally well preserved.”

It even has a sheath made of wood and leather.“I like to walk around finding rocks and sticks in the water and then I usually walk around with my hands and knees in the water and in the sand,” Saga told Radio Sweden in an interview.

As she was exploring the lake, she felt something “odd” beneath her hand and knee.“I picked it up and was going to drop it back in the water, but it had a handle, and I saw that it was a little bit pointy at the end and all rusty.I held it up in the air, and I said ‘Daddy, I found a sword!’ ”

“I’m not sure you should be touching it anymore,” her father responded. “It looks fragile.”

The sword found in Lake Vidöstern is estimated to be around 1,500 years old.
The sword found in Lake Vidöstern is estimated to be around 1,500 years old. 

The sword was initially reported to be 1,000 years old, but experts at the local museum now believe it may date to around 1,500 years ago, said the BBC.

“It’s not every day that you step on a sword in the lake,” said Mikael Nordstrom, head of the cultural heritage department at the Jönköpings County Museum.

Officials believe that no one found the sword until now because a drought lowered the level of the water.

Saga’s discovery led the museum and local council to carry out further excavations at the site.

They asked the family not to tell anyone about the discovery until they’d checked to see if there were other items of historical interest.

The finding of the sword was made public in the first week of October.

Anyone hoping to see the sword will have to wait at least a year, Nordström told The Local, explaining: “The conservation process takes quite a long time because it’s a complicated environment with wood and leather, so they have several steps to make sure it’s preserved for the future.”“Why it has come to be there, we don’t know,” he continued.

“When we searched a couple of weeks ago, we found another prehistoric object; a brooch from around the same period as the sword, so that means – we don’t know yet – but perhaps it’s a place of sacrifice.

At first, we thought it could be graves situated nearby the lake, but we don’t think that anymore.”

After a further search of the lake an Iron Age brooch was also found.
After a further search of the lake an Iron Age brooch was also found. 

The sword prompted teams, which included museum staff, to carry out more searches, though none have resulted in such an important find.

The first led to the discovery of the brooch but the oldest object found in the second search was a coin from the 18th century.

Saga’s father said in an interview with The Local that several friends in the community joked that this discovery made Saga the new Queen of Sweden. The press soon took up the anointing of Saga.

On social media, the news has led to people posting things like “She’s the chosen one!” and “Well that’s it then, she’s the new ruler. We all must pledge our fealty.”

In Arthurian legend, only the king could draw a sword from the stone — and later the Lady in the Lake gives Arthur his sacred sword: Excalibur.As for Saga, she said this discovery hasn’t made her want to pursue a career in archaeology.

She said instead she hopes to be a doctor, vet, or an actress in Paris, although she does enjoy learning about “old stuff.”

Source: thelocal

British Soldiers Find The Remains And Sword Of A Rich Saxon Warrior

British Soldiers Find The Remains And Sword Of A Rich Saxon Warrior

Salisbury plains on a stormy summers day, Wiltshire, England.

Salisbury Plain is a large, open land area in Wiltshire, England covering approximately 300 square miles (775 square km).

In addition to being the British Army’s largest training ground, Stonehenge is also home to one of the UK’s most famous sites.

But Salisbury Plain also bears many other ancient sites, including Barrow Clump, which recently found the remains of ancient inhabitants.

About 3.5 miles from Amesbury, Barrow Clump is only one of what were once several barrows that made up what is called a bowl barrow.

It was built in the Bronze Age but was later re-used as an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in the 6th century. Barrow Clump is the only surviving barrow, the others having long since been ploughed over.

Saxon spear from the burial.
Saxon spear from the burial. 

Recently, an archaeological dig was conducted in the area. What makes this dig particularly interesting is that is was done as a part of Operation Nightingale – an initiative by the military that uses archaeology to assist in the recovery of service personnel who were injured in recent conflicts such as Afghanistan.

Salisbury Plain is an important ecosystem, but also an incredibly significant historic site, and Wessex Archaeology has been working with the Defence Infrastructure Organization to protect it.

One of the major threats to the archaeological remains on the plain is not necessarily military exercises, however; it is burrowing animals, of which there are many, especially badgers.

This was the case at Barrow Clump, where the burrowing of these animals was bringing bones and grave items to the surface, and which would eventually lead to the destruction of the site altogether.

Wessex Archaeology was invited by the Defence Infrastructure Organization to oversee an excavation at the burial ground, the aim of which was to record and recover the Anglo-Saxon burials that were at risk, and investigate what Bronze Age burials were still there.

30 military personnel were involved in the dig, and 75 Anglo-Saxon graves were excavated – including that of an Anglo-Saxon warrior, found on the last day of excavation.

A skull excavated at Barrow Clump in Salisbury Plain.
A skull excavated at Barrow Clump in Salisbury Plain.

It was evident immediately that the remains were those of a warrior. He was found with a spear by his side, and a sword in his arms, which was actually still in one piece and included traces of the wood and leather scabbard.

His possessions included a belt buckle, knife, and tweezers, which were in a rather good condition despite having been underneath a military pathway. Also found with him were pattern-welded swords, which were indicative of the warrior once having a high status among his people.

Those who found him – participants in Operation Nightingale – were moved, as they felt they might have had some shared experiences.

According to Richard Osgood, senior archaeologist with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, “It was a classic last day of the dig find – there was such a buzz across the site, the soldiers definitely had a sense of kinship.”The warrior was found by using a metal detector for a final sweep of the site and gave off an unusually strong signal.

Osgood has stated that the site was generally better preserved than the ploughed fields outside of the army area: “We found one grave directly below the track, and the skull, only five centimeters down, hadn’t even been cracked – so from a curatorial point of view that was very reassuring.”

Remains of a young boy
Remains of a young boy

Together with the warrior, the excavation uncovered many other Saxon burials, including men, situated around the edges of the site, with women and children in the center.

Grave goods were also recovered, including weaponry, jewelry, and a large amber bead, buried with a young girl.

One of the graves without any other items simply and poignantly contained the remains of a young boy, curled up as if sleeping.

Osgood believes those buried at the site came from a settlement in a nearby valley: “It’s that Saxon thing of looking up the hill and knowing your ancestors are up there on a site that was already ancient and special.”Operation Nightingale has been so successful that several of its veterans have retrained as professional archaeologists.

The finds from the dig have been taken by Wessex Archaeology for more study and conservation, and will eventually find homes in the Wiltshire Museum in nearby Devizes. The Badgers are, according to Osgoode, “happily back in residence in the barrow now.”

Source: realmofhistory

Traces of Roman engineering found in ancient port town

Traces of Roman engineering found in ancient port town

Some two millennia ago, Lechaion, one of the ports of the ancient city of Corinth, occupied a special place on the map of southern Greece.

It was a strategic point that easily connected to a number of significant trade routes that snaked through the Mediterranean and led to Italy, Turkey, and Tunisia, among other territories, helping Corinth to prosper.

For the past five years, archaeologists have been busy with underwater excavations to locate this lost ancient trade port, but it was not until 2017 that they came across some ground-breaking findings.

As a strategic center on the south coast of Greece, Corinth was initially diminished by the Romans in the 2nd century B.C. However, a century later, the Romans had gone after recolonizing Corinth, so the place was resurrected in 44 B.C. under none other than Julius Caesar himself (the same year of his death).

The famed ruler even named the colony after himself: Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis.

The recent underwater surveying and exploration of the area have been conducted within the Lechaion Harbor Project, which commenced as early as 2013.

Activities have been led by both Danish and Greek researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities. Some of their findings feature remarkably preserved remains of the 1st century A.D. harbor, while a portion of the underwater artifacts dates to five centuries later.

The quest to locate the harbor has paid off in any case, revealing remarkable examples of ancient Roman engineering, included remnants of an island monument, which archaeologists believe served religious purposes, amid the restoration efforts of the entire Corinth.

 The identification and dating of Harbour Basin 1 and the identification of Harbour Basin 4 were carried out by geoarchaeologists Antoine Chabrol and Hugo Delile of la Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée in Lyon with deep geological drills and 3D drone-scans of the area Drone
The identification and dating of Harbour Basin 1 and the identification of Harbour Basin 4 were carried out by geoarchaeologists Antoine Chabrol and Hugo Delile of la Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée in Lyon with deep geological drills and 3D drone-scans of the area Drone

“The mysterious inland monument in the middle of Harbor Basin 3–an area of the Inner Harbor–was dated to the early 1st century A.D. It was likely built as part of a Roman building program designed to help restore Corinth,” stated Bjørn Lovén from the University of Copenhagen, a co-director of the Lechaion Harbor Project.

It is the larger basin found in the outer parts of the harbor by Lovén’s team that was traced back to the 6th century A.D., while remnants identified in the inner parts of the port reveal clues that they belong to the 1st century.

There, they have also identified the foundation of what had probably once been a lighthouse. Lovén said: “We have excavated archaeological layers where almost everything is preserved.

Consider the pristine preservation of the roughly 2000-year-old-wooden post (see video) and imagine how well preserved wood and other organic materials that still lie at the bottom of this harbor.”

According to archaeologists, the wooden post likely fulfilled a function to support other structures, or perhaps it helped with the navigation of vessels within the harbor.

While stone blocks undoubtedly count as astounding examples of Roman engineering work, not the least striking seem to be the elements made of wood such as the wooden post itself. Typically, wood works would not endure such extensive periods of time underwater, but they would diminish.

There are other interesting findings, such as different types of seeds and bones. Though organic, these leftovers from the ancients have remained intact as they had stayed buried in deposits underwater.

A DNA analysis of these artifacts, still to be conducted within the framework of the research project, will enable researchers to tap into a sea of information regarding life in this coastal part of Greece.

In the words of archaeologists, such DNA tests will make for an “attempt to reconstruct the past environment genetically.”It will allow them access to data about life in different eras of antiquity, including the days of the ancient Romans, and they will even get to see what kind of flora and fauna thrived in the regions 2,000 years ago.

As archaeologists explain, analyzing wooden elements in the labs will potentially reveal many more details about the construction efforts of the Romans than what can be retrieved as data from stone remnants.

Lovén commented in this context, “I was joking that I would rather find a wooden spoon than a statue, and we did find archaeological layers where almost everything is preserved.”More findings from the underwater surveying include leftovers of everyday life in the ancient port, including pieces of pottery that give additional clues about the trade conducted between Corinth and other ancient seaside cities across the Mediterranean.

The underwater explorations have taken place in areas that are not at significant sea depths, but also areas that still count as quite active when it comes to the marine environment.

Researchers continually had to deal with relentless waves that would quickly bury with sediment their freshly made excavation trenches. However, they have used drone surveying, one of the few methods that have helped them in tracing terrain changes in the coast area quickly.

The use of such techniques has helped them locate the new harbor basin. As much as Lechaion flourished in many aspects, its glory did not last for very long.

A severe earthquake hit the area soon after it was restored under Caesar, destroying almost everything on the coast and lifting the surrounding area around Lechaion by over three feet.

Pompeii ‘fast food’ bar unearthed in ancient city after 2,000 years

Pompeii ‘fast food’ bar unearthed in ancient city after 2,000 years

Because of its tragic demise, Pompeii’s ancient Roman city remained in a remarkable state of preservation, serving as one of the world’s most important archeological sites to this day.

From people immortalized in volcanic ash, to frescoes that would never have survived for so long if there wasn’t for their magma sarcophagus, Pompeii has provided scientists with unprecedented insight into the daily life of this historic civilization.

The recent unearthing of a “thermopolium” counter decorated with frescoes is already being hailed as a game-changer in the quest of re-enacting the cuisine and diet of ancient Romans who perished under the wrath of Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Thermopolium, dolias (jars) detail, of archaeological remains of the street Via Stabiana at Ruins of Pompeii. The city was an ancient Roman city destroyed by the volcano Vesuvius. Pompeii, Campania, Italy.
Thermopolium, dolias (jars) detail, of archaeological remains of the street Via Stabiana at Ruins of Pompeii. The city was an ancient Roman city destroyed by the volcano Vesuvius. Pompeii, Campania, Italy.

Thermopolia were at the epicenter of Roman street life, by providing pre-prepared meals for a low price. The word itself literally means “a place where (something) hot is sold.”

The counter of one such thermopolium was discovered in March 2019 in the sector designated Regio V, located to the north of the Pompeii archaeological site in an area not yet opened to the public. The news of the discovery first came via Instagram, where it was shared by Massimo Ossana, the superintendent of the site.

A thermopolium was a place where it was possible to purchase ready-to-eat food during the times of ancient Rome
A thermopolium was a place where it was possible to purchase ready-to-eat food during the times of ancient Rome

According to the Guardian, there were around 150 thermopolia fast food joints in the city of Pompeii, which served as a lifeline for the poor who often couldn’t afford to own a kitchen.

Some 2,000 years ago, the daily menu included easy-to-make specialties like coarse bread with salty fish, baked cheese, lentils, and spicy wine.

The counter is decorated with a fresco featuring earthenware jars, known as dolia, used to store foodstuffs such as dried meat. The fact that this thermopolium is adorned with a fresco implies that it was most probably owned by a well-off person, as such decorations were considered a luxury.

Roman kitchen of a thermopolium in Via Consolare at Ruins of Pompeii, Campania, Italy

Roman upper classes usually avoided and often scorned such places, considering them unworthy of their pedigree.

Nevertheless, fast food restaurants like this one were all the rage in Pompeii, as well as other huge trading centers of the Old World.

They were the vibrant social meeting places, and much like taverns, they were often the spots where business deals were closed.

The discovery of the thermopolium counter comes in a series of recent excavations in the Pompeii archaeological park.

Dolias (sunk into the counter) and fresco detail of archaeological remains of thermopolium of Vetutius Placidus, at Ruins of Pompeii, Italy
Dolias (sunk into the counter) and fresco detail of archaeological remains of thermopolium of Vetutius Placidus, at Ruins of Pompeii, Italy

In December 2018, well-preserved remnants of a horse with saddle were found in the park area, as well as another magnificent fresco that was unearthed in February 2019, in the remains of a villa.

The fresco features Narcissus, the mythological hunter who became infatuated with his own reflection in a pool of water.

Along with the fresco, human remains of two women and three children, all huddled together during the moments before their death.

The discovery of this group of skeletons reminded us once again of the proportions of the tragedy that was the eruption of Vesuvius, which killed more than 2,000 people and left an ancient city forever frozen in time.

Apart from Pompeii, the neighboring townships of Herculaneum, Stabiae, Oplontis, and Boscoreale also suffered greatly from the eruption which constitutes one of the worst known natural disasters of the ancient world.

Source: theguardian

Archaeological report on findings from Roman fort at Hadrian’s Wall

An archaeological report on findings from Roman fort at Hadrian’s Wall

Segedunum Roman Fort and Museum—A new archaeological report hailed as the definitive full account of the excavations of Hadrian’s Wall at its eastern end has just been published.

Hadrian’s Wall at Wallsend is written by Paul Bidwell OBE, former Head of Archaeology at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), and encapsulates the knowledge gleaned from 28 years of intermittent excavations around Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend in North Tyneside. 

Taking place between 1988 and 2015, these digs culminated in the Treasury-funded project that saw the rediscovery of the fort’s baths as well as the public display of the full stretch of Wall remains.

The Hadrian’s Wall at Wallsend report represents an account of one of the most comprehensively excavated sections of Hadrian’s Wall anywhere along its 73-mile length.

Paul Bidwell, author, and President of The Arbeia Society said: “It has been a privilege to draw together the results of so many years work by so many people.

The results are a great advance in our understanding of how Hadrian’s Wall was built and of its later history.

They also show that the remains of the Wall in urban Tyneside are just as important as the better-preserved lengths in rural Northumberland.”

Paul Bidwell was Head of Archaeology at TWAM until retirement. He has led and published excavations in Exeter and along Hadrian’s Wall, including at South Shields, Vindolanda, Newcastle, Chesters and Willowford; and has been a contributor to many other publications on aspects of Roman Archaeology, including Roman ceramics.

The driving force behind one of the UK’s most ambitious and controversial reconstruction projects at Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fort, 31 years ago Paul Bidwell led the charge to recreate a fort gate house in its original foundations.

The report has been published by TWAM with The Arbeia Society, a registered charity established in 1992 to support research into and promotion of Roman archaeology in North East England.

North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn CBE, said: “We welcome the publication of this report.

It is a significant achievement by Paul and one that will help to enrich our knowledge and understanding of one of our most precious heritage sites.” Iain Watson, Director of TWAM said: “This is a very significant contribution to the body of knowledge of Hadrian’s Wallsend, a huge undertaking, bringing together and translating into contemporary context 28 years of archaeological findings.

We congratulate Paul and look forward to the report’s reception.”Segedunum Roman Fort and Museum is now a visitor attraction incorporating a museum and an extensively excavated Roman ‘archaeological park’ fort site, overlooked by a 35m viewing tower attracting around 50,000 visits a year.

1,900 years ago it was the edge of the Roman Empire, the very cusp of the eastern end of the Empire’s northern frontier. Segedunum – meaning ‘strong place’ – sat on a plateau overlooking the north bank of the River Tyne, the spot was chosen strategically to command views east down the river to the coast at South Shields and 2 miles up the river toward Newcastle upon Tyne.

The 73-mile wall, now a World Heritage Site, was constructed on the orders of Emperor Hadrian in AD122 and originally ended at the River Tyne’s lowest bridgeable point – Newcastle upon Tyne – until 2 or 3 years later when it was extended to Wallsend.

Only 7% of the original wall is visible today and only about 0.5% of its entire length has been excavated using modern archaeological techniques, though much more can be seen of the forts, milecastles, turrets, and bridges along its line.

The 80 meter stretch at Wallsend that has been scrutinized by archaeologists over the years lies 50 meters west of the Segedunum fort. Its first contemporary digs were led by the late Charles Daniels of Newcastle University in the mid-1970s. The Wall at Wallsend, 2.26m wide, was built without mortar but with carefully-laid courses of stonework.

Separate groups of legionaries built lengths of 30 Roman feet (about 9m). They were also tasked with building an aqueduct which ran through the Wall and supplied the baths outside the fort.

Markers for building plots running up to the back of the Wall were also found. They show that a settlement containing civilian and some military buildings were laid out at the same time that the Wall and the adjacent fort were built.

In the early 3rd century, the Wall at Segedunum was destroyed by a catastrophic flood which also washed away part of the baths and undermined the fort wall.

The aqueduct was replaced and the Wall rebuilt, probably on the instructions of Septimius Severus in about AD 208; this emperor, rather than Hadrian, was credited by late-Roman writers as the original builder of the Wall. Shorter lengths of the Wall collapsed and were rebuilt on three subsequent occasions. One of these later reconstructions reused masonry from various buildings, including one of the fort gates, a temple possibly dedicated to Diana, and a bathhouse.

The volume also includes an account of the building of the replica section of Hadrian’s Wall at Segedunum, constructed in 1996.

Wallsend Culvert taking aqueduct channel through the wall in 2000.
Wallsend Culvert taking aqueduct channel through the wall in 2000.

Ancient Rome — Construction Workers Find Rare Intact Roman Tomb

Construction Workers Find Rare Intact Roman Tomb

‘The Tomb of the Athlete’ includes four bodies, a coin, offerings of chicken, rabbit and lamb and strigils, the symbol of Roman sportsmen

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/construction-workers-find-rare-intact-tomb-rome-180969247/#49AkMEfdgbeVZkRc.99
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‘The Tomb of the Athlete’ includes four bodies, a coin, offerings of chicken, rabbit and lamb and strigils, the symbol of Roman sportsmen

It is a rare day when archeologists find an ancient burial that has not been destroyed by natural processes, ravaged by war, or plundered by hunters of artifacts.

It is why King Tut’s untouched tomb was so significant and why archaeologists are going gaga over the tomb of a Greek warrior discovered in Pylos.

Add another to the list; archeologists uncovered an untouched Roman tomb in Rome several weeks ago that they call the Athlete’s Tomb. Local Italy reports.

The tomb was found in the Case Rosse area west of the center of Rome by an earthmover working to extend an aqueduct about 6 feet underground.

Inside lay the undisturbed remains of 4 people, including a man in his 30s, a man in his 50s, a man between the age of 35 to 45, and a woman of undetermined age.

Francesco Prosperetti, who oversees archaeology in Rome, tells Elisabetta Povoledo at The New York Times that finding the tomb was sheer luck. “Had the machine dug just four inches to the left, we would have never found the tomb,” he says.

The discovery also unearthed an assortment of jugs and dishes, a bronze coin, along with dishes of chicken, rabbit and another animal believed to be a lamb or goat, likely offerings to sustain them in the afterlife.

Among the trove were two strigils, blunt hooks that Romans used to clean themselves and wipe off oil while bathing and that athletes used to scrape away sweat.

In fact, the strigil was considered the symbol of an athlete in the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.

Still, calling the find the “Tomb of the Athlete,” is more or less a marketing move, Fabio Turchetta, one of the archaeologists working on the site, tells Povoledo since all the men inside are over 35 and would have been well past their prime by classical standards. “To say there was an athlete is a bit of stretch, but it works journalistically,” as he puts it diplomatically.

Based on the coin found in the tomb, which includes an image of Minerva on one side and a horse head with the word “Romano” on the other, the tomb dates between 335 and 312 B.C.E. during the heyday of the Roman Republic.

Researchers have begun the process of removing the bodies from the tomb, which will be sent to the laboratory for analysis and DNA testing to determine if they are a family.

A paleobotanist also collected samples of pollen and plant material to help figure out the flora of the area when the tomb was constructed.

The structure itself has been documented by a laser scan and will be sealed up once excavations are complete.

Turchetta tells Povoledo that the area the tomb was found in has been heavily surveyed and excavated in the past, so finding the intact chamber was surprising and emotional.

This isn’t the first time that construction in Rome has uncovered amazing finds. Just last year, while expanding the metro system, archaeologists found that the bones of a dog inside the remains of an aristocratic home that burned down during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus in the 2nd century C.E.

The same construction project also uncovered the military barracks of emperor Hadrian’s Praetorian Guard.

Source: realmofhistory