Category Archives: ROMANIA

Greco-Roman Era Tomb Found in Upper Egypt

Greco-Roman Era Tomb Found in Upper Egypt

A rock-cut tomb dating back to the late Pharaonic Graeco-Roman period has been discovered by Egyptian-Italian archeological mission working in the Aga Khan Mausoleum area in Aswan.

Mostafa Waziri, the general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, explains that the mission found inside the tomb parts of a painted wooden coffin.

Also discovered were fragments of another coffin adorned with a complete text that includes the name of the owner, identified as Tjt, and an invocation to the gods of the First Cataract; Khnum, Satet and Anuket, as well as Hapy, the Nile god.

Ayman Ashmawy, the head of the antiquities ministry’s ancient Egypt  department, told Ahram Online that the tomb consists of a stairway partly flanked by sculpted blocks leading to the funerary chambers.

The entrance was sealed by a stone wall found in its original place over the stairway.

Patrizia Piacentini, the head of the mission, said that the mission also found many amphorae and offering vases, as well as a funerary structure containing 4 mummies and food vessels.

Also found were 2 mummies, likely of a mother and her child, still covered by painted cartonnage.

A round-topped coffin was excavated from the rock floor. In the main room were around 30 mummies, including young children who were deposited in a long lateral niche.“

Leaning against the north wall of the room was an amazing intact stretcher made of palm wood and linen strips, used by the people who deposited the mummies in the tomb,” Piacentini told Ahram Online .

At the entrance of the room were vessels containing bitumen for mummification, white cartonnage ready to be painted and a lamp.

On the right and left sides of the door, many beautiful colored and gilded cartonnages, fragments of funerary masks painted with gold and a well preserved statuette of the Ba-bird, representing the soul of the deceased, still presenting all the details of the decoration have been found.

The mission has mapped around 300 tombs dating from the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD, located in the area surrounding the Mausoleum of the Aga Khan, on the west bank of the Nile in Aswan.

A Massive Roman Villa Has Been Found In Oxfordshire, England

A Massive Roman Villa Has Been Found In Oxfordshire, England

In Oxfordshire, the second largest Roman villa ever found in England, the remains of a huge Roman villa dating back to 99 AD have been discovered.

As part of a four-month excavation project, archeologists excavated the remains of the historic building, which is believed to be larger than the Taj Mahal mausoleum.

The foundation measures 278 feet by 278 feet. The findings so far include coins and boar tusks alongside a sarcophagus that contains the skeletal remains of an unnamed woman.

“Amateur detectorist and historian Keith Westcott discovered the ancient remains beneath a crop in a field near Broughton Castle near Banbury,” according to HiTech.

Westcott, 55, decided to investigate the site after hearing that a local farmer, John Taylor, had plowed his tractor into a large stone in 1963. Taylor said he saw a hole had been made in the stone and when he reached inside, he pulled out a human bone.

Broughton Castle.
Broughton Castle.

This was the woman’s body — experts believe she died in the 3rd century. The land previously belonged to Lord and Lady Saye and Sele, the parents of Martin Fiennes, who now owns the land.

The Daily Mail reports that Martin Fiennes “works as a principal at Oxford Sciences Innovation and is the second cousin of British explorer Ranulph Fiennes and third cousin of actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes.”

According to the Daily Mail, Westcott had a “eureka moment” when he found “a 1,800 year-old tile from a hypocaust system, which was an early form of central heating used in high-status Roman buildings.”

The 85m by 85m (278ft x 278ft) foundations date back to 99 AD and were discovered beneath a crop in a field near Broughton
The 85m by 85m (278ft x 278ft) foundations date back to 99 AD and were discovered beneath a crop in a field near Broughton.

Using X-ray techniques such as magnetometry, the walls, room outlines, ditches, and other infrastructures were revealed. The villa’s accommodation would have included a bath-house with a domed roof, mosaics, a grand dining room, and kitchens.

The largest Roman villa previously found in England is the Fishbourne Palace in West Sussex, which dates back to 75 AD.

Archaeological excavation
Archaeological excavation

The palace at Fishbourne was one of the most noteworthy structures in Roman Britain. Only discovered in the 1960s, the site has been extensively excavated, revealing that it was originally a military site. Lying close to the sea, Fishbourne was ideal as a depot to support Roman campaigns in the area.

Built on four sides around a central garden, the site covered about two hectares, which is the size of two soccer fields. The building itself had about 100 rooms, many with mosaics. The best-known mosaic is the Cupid on a Dolphin. Some of the red stones are made from pieces of red gloss pottery, most likely imported from Gaul.

Roman conquest of Britain.
Roman conquest of Britain.

The Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD, during the reign of Claudius. For the Claudian invasion, an army of 40,000 professional soldiers — half citizen-legionaries, half auxiliaries recruited on the wilder fringes of the empire — were landed in Britain under the command of Aulus Plautius.

Archaeologists debate where they landed. It could have been Richborough in Kent, Chichester in Sussex, or perhaps both. Somewhere, perhaps on the River Medway, they fought a great battle and defeated the Catuvellauni, the tribe that dominated the southeast.

By the middle of 3rd century AD, however, the boom was over, and the focus was defense. Walls were built around the towns, transforming them into fortresses. Inside the complexes, a slow decline began.

Public buildings were boarded up and old mansions crumbled. By about 425 AD at the latest, Britain had ceased to be in any sense Roman. Towns and villas had been abandoned, and barter had replaced the money.

Source: dailymail

Research project of £ 2.1 million to uncover the early medieval history of Rome

£2.1 million research project to uncover Rome’s early medieval history

Archeologists, historians, and other specialists are working together on an international project to examine Rome’s urban history between the 1st and 8th centuries AD.

The £2.1 million (2.4 million euro) project funded by the European Research Council will pioneer a radically new methodology designed to analyse complex urban landscapes, exploring buildings buried up to 10 metres below the modern ground surface.

Its focusses on a ‘forgotten’ quarter of Rome which, while omitted from most tourist itineraries, served as home to emperors and popes for generations.

Between the first and eighth centuries AD, many of the most powerful people on earth lived in and around the Caelian Hill in the south-east of the city.

The project is led by Newcastle University’s Professor Ian Haynes. Drawing together diverse strands of data to visualise the way this area changed over eight centuries, his team will examine in detail the character of its many features, from palaces and the world’s first cathedral, to fortifications, aqueducts and private homes.

Revealing in turn how these related to each other and to prevailing political, military and religious ideas, the project hopes to transform the way major shifts in the chronological, geographical and ideological history of Rome are understood.

Haynes has already directed archaeological investigations in the area around the Caelian Hill with Professor Paolo Liverani of the University of Florence for over 10 years.

He says, “It is a tremendous privilege to be able to take this work forward. This grant not only allows us to develop a new cost-effective methodology applicable to the study of many of the world’s historic cities, delivering vital information to planners, heritage bodies, civil engineers, historians and archaeologists, it also helps us understand better some of the major ideological shifts that formed the world we live in.

“Over the course of this five-year project, we will be looking at the interplay of ideas, architecture, and infrastructure in the Caelian quarter to make the first ever large-scale assessment of the political, military and religious regenerations that emerged in this forgotten quarter of Rome.

This matters because what happened here repeatedly shaped the development of Europe, the Middle East and north Africa.”

The project will involve colleagues from across Newcastle University, alongside the University of Florence, the British School at Rome and the National Research Centre for Italy’s Institute of Science for Cultural Heritage.

Involving extensive archival research, wide-ranging subterranean investigation, the largest geo-radar and laser scanning survey ever conducted in Rome, and using the latest digital 3D techniques, the Rome Transformed project will visualise five major transformations in the political, military and religious ideas that shaped ancient Rome over eight centuries.

Team members include archaeologists, architectural visualizers, botanists, computer scientists, engineers, geographers, geophysicists, historians, hydrologists, and topographers.

Oldest hand-written Roman document discovered in London

An oldest hand-written Roman document discovered in London

This tablet was found in a layer dated by MOLA to AD 43-53 so is thought to have been from the Romans' first decade of rule.
This tablet was found in a layer dated by MOLA to AD 43-53 so is thought to have been from the Romans’ first decade of rule.

Archeologists announced the findings of a dig in London as the first ever written roman record in a recent discovery. The record is handwritten and is Britain’s oldest written roman document discovered.

The nature of the contents of the documents was revealed after The Museum of London Archaeology undertook the project of deciphering the document; the record is dated January 8, AD 57. The discovery was made in a dig at Bloomberg’s new headquarters.

MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) has also claimed that a team of experts has successfully translated the documents with oldest reference to the modern city of London.

The dig at the Bloomberg’s produced some 700 big and small artefacts; including financial transactions and some schooling referencing. All artefacts and their translation will go on display by the Museum of London Archaeology.

The significance of the documents is paramount; according to MOLA these writings shed light on the early life of the London city. These documents also provide a detailed understanding of the mindset of the early inhabitants of the city who worked, lived and practically made the early London.

The recent findings containing the earliest reference to the city of London beats the Tacitus’ mention of London which was written some 50 years later from the Bloomberg’s documents.

he letters on this tablet show part of the alphabet: “ABCDIIFGHIKLMNOPQRST”

he letters on this tablet show part of the alphabet: “ABCDIIFGHIKLMNOPQRST” 

The director at MOLA Sophie Jackson said that the findings far exceeded the earlier expectations by the experts. She added that archaeologists now have a plethora of documents to form a framework of understanding about the early Roman Britons.

One of the most talked about and perhaps the most readable of all tablets, is thought to have been produced between 43-53 AD according to MOLA experts. It is also highly likely that it is from the first decade of the Roman’s rule over Britain and provides a glimpse into people’s behaviour towards financial transaction.

The documents is an excerpt of a letter perhaps written to a lender in which the scribe is warning the lender to be more mindful of the fact that he has given some loud mouth people loan for their business in the market; and that those people are now boasting around exposing his status.

Unlike the other ancient tablets, these tablets are mostly made of wood, which are then covered with blackened beeswax. The beeswax did not survive the wear and tear; however it did serve as a protection over the wooden tablets and leaving the marking of the writings over the wax on the wooden surface below.

Another factor that highly contributed towards the protection of the tablets was the fact that these were mostly buried under the mud created by the water from Walbrook River.

Over 400 tablets were found at the site, 87 of which have been deciphered

Over 400 tablets were found at the site, 87 of which have been deciphered 

After the initial excavation was finished, the tablets were kept in water for some period before they were thoroughly cleaned and freeze-dried; in order to get the better sight of the etching on the wood.

The head of the translation project at MOLA Dr. Roger Tomlin who translated most of the tablets expressed immense gratitude on eavesdropping on the lives of the earliest Brits. Members of the public could see these tablets on display along with their translation in The London Museum Exhibition in autumn 2017.

Decapitated bodies found in Great Whelnetham’s Roman cemetery in u.k

Decapitated bodies found in Great Whelnetham’s Roman cemetery in U.K

Archeologists excavating a Roman burial ground said it was a “rare find” to discover a series of decapitated bodies.

On a site in Great Whelnetham, Suffolk, a dig took place ahead of a planned housing development.

Of the 52 skeletons found, about 40% had their skulls detached from their bodies, many placed by their legs.

Archaeologist Andrew Peachey said it gave a “fascinating insight” into Roman burial practice.

The work has been undertaken on behalf of the Havebury Housing Partnership and was monitored by the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service

The work has been undertaken on behalf of the Havebury Housing Partnership and was monitored by the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service

The Roman cemetery, which dates to the 4th Century, includes the remains of men, women and children who had probably lived in a nearby settlement.

The fact that up to 40% of the bodies were decapitated represents “quite a rare find”, particularly having the “statistical anomaly of having so many decapitations there”.”

We are looking at a very specific part of the population that followed a very specific tradition of burial,” he said.

Roman Suffolk

The Mildenhall Treasure, a hoard of 4th Century Roman silver, including the Great Dish (pictured), was found in 1942
The Mildenhall Treasure, a hoard of 4th Century Roman silver, including the Great Dish (pictured), was found in 1942

The county of Suffolk was under the control of the Iceni tribe when the Romans invaded in the 1st century

From the mid 1st Century to the early 5th centuries AD it was an intensely populated area between the major Roman settlements of Colchester and Caistor, near Norwich

A hoard of 4th Century Roman silver, including the Great Dish, was found in Mildenhall in 1942.

One of the most significant Roman sites in Suffolk is the villa complex at Castle Hill in Ipswich, comprising several buildings, perhaps arranged around a courtyard

The Roman settlement Great Whelnetham may date back to the 1st Century

Mr. Peachey, of Archaeological Solutions, said he did not believe there had been executions.

The heads were likely to have been removed “carefully” after the individual had died, he added.

The team are analysing the bones to find out as much as possible about the population.

Great Whelnetham is a known Roman settlement and Roman burials were typically placed as we would place them, said Mr Peachey.

The skeletons will go to a museum archive.

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.

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.