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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2003 10:00 pm
by Quintus Aurelius Orcus
wasn't the modern image of Caligula created by such writers like Robert Graves, whom i been told wrote I, Caligula?
Anyway doesn't anyone has more info on the newly discovered Roman site in Spain where they supposdly found the third largest Colloseum?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2003 1:20 pm
by Tiberius Dionysius Draco
Salve Romule,

I've searched the internet and went through several newspapers but I couldn't find any information about this find. Where did you hear about this?

And about Nero, why exactly are they accusing him of being mad? But maybe we should discuss that in a seperate thread.

*EDIT*: You can post your thoughts and comments about this subject in the thread I created.

Vale bene,

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2003 8:57 pm
by Quintus Aurelius Orcus
Salve Tiberii
I have heard of it through a local newspaper in Ghent, a couple of weeks ago.

Aelius Draco's Souvenir

PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2003 8:40 pm
by C.AeliusEricius
Old soldier's souvenir of service in Britannia found. Here's some links [from Explorator].

C Aelius Ericius.

Big news this week of the discovery of a Roman patera inscribed
with names of fortresses (and other things) near Hadrian's wall: (Telegraph) ... 25,00.html (ABC)

Roman bathhouse unearthed at Nazareth

PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2003 12:54 pm
by Tiberius Dionysius Draco
Roman bathhouse unearthed at Nazareth

Elias Shama's small souvenir shop in Nazareth, the town of Jesus's childhood, barely catches the eye. Tourists usually pass by it on their way to the neighbouring Mary's Well church, claimed by the Greek Orthodox church as the site where the Archangel Gabriel revealed to Mary that she was carrying the son of God.

This summer, Shama's shop, Cactus, attracted a team of forensic archaeologists and biblical scholars whi have been poring over a network of tunnels Shama unearthed under his shop several years ago. They believe he has made a discovery so remarkable it will rewrite the history books, changing our understanding not only of the Holy Land but of the life of Jesus himself.

Shama began excavating the tunnels after he and his Belgian wife, Martina, bought the shop in 1993, and found a series of 4ft-high passages, separated by columns of small bricks supporting a white marble floor. In one corner they found a walled-off room where a residue of wood ash revealed it once served as a furnace.

The American excavators are convinced that what Shama has exposed is an almost perfectly preserved Roman bathhouse from 2,000 years ago - the time of Christ, and in the town where he was raised. In a piece of marketing that is soon likely to be echoing around the world, Shama says he has stumbled across the "bathhouse of Jesus".

By radar and ground-penetrating surveys the team carried out showing the floor of another, older bathhouse under the one excavated by Shama. He hopes to use carbon-dating to establish whether the upper or lower bathhouse is Roman.

After originally identifying the site as Ottoman, dating back only 150 years, Israel's antiquities authority has now admitted that the bath's design means it must be much older. The hypocaust (an underfloor system of heating channels) and frigidarium (cold room) are typical of Roman bath layout. "What we are looking at now is probably Roman but even if it proves to be from a later period, then the bath underneath certainly is Roman," says Freund, head of the team. "Either way, we know that under the shop lies a huge new piece of evidence in understanding the life and times of Jesus."

Freund says the discovery means that historians will have to rethink the place and significance of Nazareth in the Roman empire and consequently the formative experiences of Jesus. It has been assumed that the Nazareth of 2,000 years ago was a poor Jewish village on the periphery of the empire, where local families inhabited caves on the hillside that today contains the modern Israeli-Arab city. On this view, the young Jesus would have had little contact with the Romans until he left Nazareth as an adult.

But the huge scale of Shama's bathhouse suggests that Nazareth, rather than nearby Sephori, was the local hub of military control from Rome. The giant bath could only have been built for a Roman city or to service a significant garrison town. That would mean Joseph and Mary, and their son Jesus, would have been living in the very heart of the occupying power. This is likely to have huge significance for New Testament scholars in their understanding of Jesus's later teachings.

Even more significantly, the bathhouse opens up the possibility of discovering a treasure trove of artifacts from the time of Jesus in his hometown. Surprisingly, given its central place in Christian heritage, Nazareth has been little mined for archaeological evidence in recent times. Israeli officials, possibly intimidated by the thought of trying to dig under an overcrowded city of 70,000 Arabs, have mostly sealed up and forgotten its subterranean world of secret passages and tombs. Other areas, including around the Cactus shop, have never been properly excavated.

Freund is sure that plenty remains to be found under and around Shama's shop. "We are talking about relics lying untouched, buried under the ground, for 2,000 years at the place where Jesus lived, and from the time when he was living here. It doesn't get much more exciting than that."

Further excavation of the site, however, is not yet assured: Shama's discovery is mired in financial difficulties and the sectarian acrimony that has blighted the Middle East for centuries. Given the find's significance, it is surprising to learn that Shama, a Christian Arab, is receiving no outside support, even from the state. Since he and his wife sank the last of their life savings in excavating and developing the site, the shop is close to collapse - and with it perhaps the bathhouse project.

The most powerful player in the Christian world, the Vatican, has so far refused to throw its weight behind the dig, possibly fearing that Shama's find threatens its own dominance where tourism in the city is concerned. Its Basilica of the Annunciation, the Middle East's largest church, is on the other side of town from Mary's Well. There has been a long-running dispute between the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches about whose church is on the true site of the Annunciation.

The Catholics claim the Basilica is built over a grotto that was Mary's home; the Orthodox, basing their tradition on an alternative Gospel that Mary was drawing water from Nazareth's well when she was visited by Gabriel, say their Mary's Well church, half a kilometre away, is located over the original spring. Shama's bathhouse, next to Mary's Well church, poses a double threat to them: it strengthens the claim of the Orthodox church to be the true site of the Annunciation, and it will make the Mary's Well area the main tourist attraction in Nazareth.

Despite his financial difficulties, Shama has big dreams for the bathhouse. He hopes one day to be able to fill it, or a replica, with water drawn from the spring at Mary's Well. "It can be done," he says. "We will make the bathhouse of Jesus live again, just like it was 2,000 years ago."



PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2003 8:59 pm
by Horatius Piscinus

The authors of the Christian gospels are noted for not having had a clear idea of the geography of Palastine. Helena was quite upset when she visited the area to learn that there was no town known as Nazareth. She complained to her son, the emperor Constintine, and he obligingly built her a Roman city. That is perhaps confirmed in the fact that Josephus, leader of the Jewish forces in Galilee during the Jewish revolt, makes mention of every other town and village of the area, but never mentions a Nazareth. He also mentions a few people by the name of Jesus, but not really the Christian Jesus. The other major cities in the area do not show much of a Roman presence at all. One reason perhaps why archaeological digs in Nazareth are not readily sponsored by Christian organizations is that they pose disproving the entire myth of Jesus having lived in the town of Nazareth, or at least where Nazareth is located today. If this bath house does prove to be Roman, it will likely also prove to be later than the time claimed to be in the "lifetime of Jesus" and that will prove nothing on either side of the argument of where or how Jesus may have lived. Poor Shama I am afraid is in for a major disappointment.


'Little Rome' discovered

PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2003 1:15 pm
by Tiberius Dionysius Draco
Salvete Romani,

After 10 years of digging, "Little Rome," as the great Roman orator Cicero called it, is coming to light near Naples, in what could be the most important discovery of an ancient Roman town since the excavation of lava-entombed Pompeii and Herculaneum in the 18th century.

The ancient town of Puteoli, once one of the major trading ports of the Mediterranean, has been found under Rione Terra, a stout promontory in Pozzuoli, just 8 miles west of Naples.

Pozzuoli is a pleasant seaside resort surrounded by volcanic hills. But under palaces and hotels lies an ancient city with streets, temples and exceptionally preserved buildings — in no way inferior to those of Pompeii and Herculaneum, buried by the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

"Puteoli lies encased in the foundations of the city built in the 16th century by the Spanish, who at that time ruled the kingdom of Naples. Bringing it to light is a very difficult task. As we excavate, we need to use steel beams to support the new buildings on the top level," chief archaeologist Costanza Gialanella told Discovery News.

So far, the archaeologists have unearthed a street network from 194 B.C. and buildings dating to different periods, mainly related to the rule of emperors Augustus and Nero.

Remains of the ancient town walls, stretches of the decumani and cardines (avenues and streets) flanked by tabernae (inns), small private altars, flour mills, deep wells, vaulted storage rooms, as well as various findings including stone heads used to decorate fountains and splendid statues, have emerged.

Located on the ground floor of residential buildings, inns are one of the most frequent sights in the ancient town. Most of them date back to the rule of Emperor Augustus in the first century A.D., Puteoli's golden age.

"Basically, this town was the port of ancient Rome. Travelers did not stop at the tabernae only to eat. Music and dances, dice gambling and even love encounters were arranged by the inn's owner," Gialanella said.

The most imposing and spectacular find is the temple of Augustus, a white marble temple built by the architect Lucius Cocceius Auctus on the site of the ancient Roman colony's Capitolium.

Archaeologists have fully brought to light the temple's beautiful Corinthian columns and walls, on which excavation began in 1964. At that time, a fire destroyed the Baroque church that the Spanish built over the temple, revealing parts of the ancient structure.

The fire wasn't Pozzuoli's only disaster. Replaced by Ostia as the main trading port of Rome in the second century A.D., the town began its decline in the following centuries.

In 1538, the Monte Nuovo volcano erupted, swallowing up the nearby village of Tripergole and scaring away Pozzuoli's population. This gave the Spanish rulers the opportunity to build a new city, in their own style, on top of the ancient Puteoli.

Repopulated, Pozzuli was again abandoned in 1970, when the bradyseismic activity of the volcanic Phlegraean area caused the ground to rise and fall.

Again repopulated, Pozzuoli could become a major archaeological attraction in years to come.

"The next step will be to unearth the ancient residential area," Gialanella said.

A little part of Puteoli is already open to public, who can visit it during the weekends.

"It is a brilliant archaeological work, really unique. We get to know a town with intense building activity, rather similar to modern cities in which shops are on the ground floors of residential buildings," Fausto Zevi of La Sapienza University in Rome and an authority on Pozzuoli, told Discovery News.


Valete bene,

Crete's Minoan ship goes to sea

PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2004 12:42 am
by Tiberius Dionysius Draco


Sprinkled with holy water and to a fanfare of trumpets from a white-helmeted naval brass band, a newly built, 17-metre-long Minoan-style open rowing vessel slid sweetly down the slipway in Hania's old Venetian harbour at noon on December 1. President Costis Stephanopoulos had cut the blue-and-white ribbon tying her up, broken a bottle of champagne and announced her name, Minoa.

Hordes of schoolchildren were among the enthusiastic Haniots crowding the quaysides, the Venetian mole embracing the harbour seawards and lofty vantage points to watch the ceremony. As if in benign blessing, the sun shone through the clouds after a morning of intermittent rain beginning ominously before dawn with window-rattling claps of thunder.

"To pio paraxeno karavi sto limani" (the strangest boat in the harbour), said a bearded old salt gazing at the vessel rocking in the sheltered water by the stone quay in front of the sole surviving operational pair of vaulted Venetian neoria (shipbuilding premises) where the boat has been taking shape since December last year.

Under the aegis of the culture ministry and the expert supervision of Vice-Admiral Apostolos Kourtis, the vessel has been constructed to be as exact a replica as possible of a Bronze Age Aegean vessel of about 1500BC. Ancient building methods have been observed and materials identical to those of antiquity have been used. Advising Kourtis in the design have been seven other members of the Ancient Shipping and Technology Research Institute and the Naval Museum of Crete.Invaluable practical boatbuilding input to the project has come from Hania's last living master boatbuilder, Haralambos Kokkinakis.

Cypress trees were felled in the village of Anoskeli, about 25km from Hania, using a Bronze Age type of serrated, two-handled saw. The central beam (tropida) is from a single 22m cypress tree given a gentle curve by the warmth of a suitably distant fire. Overlapping timbers were put together using bronze tools: a bow-drill (toxotrypano), hammers and chisels.

To make the vessel watertight, a mixture of lard (from cows) and resin (from pine trees) was applied to the timbers like varnish, then covered with linen canvas, the whole plastered with lime. The timbers are expected to swell as the vessel lies moored in the harbour over the winter, awaiting spring weather next year to embark on her maiden voyage via Kythira and Monemvasia to the Saronic Gulf. The Minoa will skim over the sea powered by a crew of two dozen rowers clad in the dark-blue and white Greek Olympic Games uniform. Helmsmen will stand on either side of the skipper seated in the stern in an enclosure protected up to shoulder level by animal hides. As in antiquity, the vessel will stick as much as possible in sight of land and confine sailing to daylight hours.

A hope is that the Olympic flame en route from Olympia to Athens might be carried aboard the vessel on visits to some of the Greek islands. The Minoa's maiden voyage is being billed as part of the cultural build-up to the Olympic Games. Historians are clear that the Minoans of Crete were the earliest naval power in the Aegean. "The first person known to us by tradition as having established a navy is Minos," wrote Thucydides in the late 5th century BC. "He made himself master of what is now called the Greek sea, and ruled over the Cyclades, into most of which he sent the first colonies, expelling the Carians and appointing his own sons as governors."

Today's inhabitants of Hania - Kydonia of Minoan times - are joyfully confident of the truth of this tradition. An exhibition of magnificent photographs recording the building process is being held in the huge old neorio where the vessel was built. Admiral Constantine Manioudakis, chairman of the Naval Museum's board of directors, stood there surrounded by swarms of eagerly questioning, exuberant small children, delightedly explaining the details to them.

Out on the quay, the limniotes (harbour folk - sailors and fishermen) strolled up and down all day admiring the handiwork. Rain came again, but the town is full of exhibitions for the week celebrating the Minoan ship, and December 1, in any case, was festive for the 90th anniversary of Crete's union with Greece. Just before sunset, nature smiled again: the sun burst from behind clouds and a complete rainbow soared almost to the zenith of the sky above Halepa and craggy Akrotiri - a fitting climax to a memorable day in one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns on earth.


A heart-warming modern day archeology story. It must have been beautiful to have seen that ship.



The Romans discovered America

PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2004 5:58 pm
by Tiberius Dionysius Draco

- Titillating Trivia -
"The First Europeans to Reach the New World"
By Gary Fretz

Q. With all of the new technology available today, we should be able to know precisely when the first European ships reached the New World. What is the latest news? It was a group of Vikings who made landfall around 900 A.D., right?

A. Wrong! It is now confirmed that a Roman ship reached Brazil around the year 19 B.C.! Here is the whole story ...

Two thousand years ago, the most valuable commodity "known to man" was salt. This is because most fresh meats and fish were preserved by packing in salt. The Romans had a large salt production facility on Ilha do Sal (Salt Island) in the Cape Verde Islands, which are 350 miles off the coast of West Africa. This location is directly in the path of the hot, dry winds of the Sahara Desert, which can easily blow 60 knots from the east. It is believed that this Roman merchant vessel was heading for Salt Island to pick up a load of salt and to provision the local army garrison when a fierce Sahara storm started. Roman ships were clumsy by modem standards and would have no choice but to lower their sails and to run with the winds to avoid capsizing. The Sahara winds can blow for many days and the Salt Ship was carried to Guanabara Bay (near Rio de Janeiro) in Brazil. In the middle of the Bay is a large submerged rock lying 3' below the surface called Xareu Rock. The ship appears to have been travelling at a high rate of speed when she struck the rock. She broke into two pieces and settled in 75' of water near the base of the rock.

In the late 1970's, a local fisherman using nets around Xareu Rock kept "catching" some large (3' tall), heavy earthen jars which tore his nets. He mistakenly thought these were "macumba" jars, which are used in local voodoo ceremonies and then thrown into the sea. So, as the jars were hauled up, he smashed them with a hammer and threw the small pieces back into the water in an attempt to prevent tearing his nets in the future. If he had only known what treasures he was destroying! In recent years, a scuba diver was spear fishing around Xareu Rock and found eight similar jars that he took home. He sold six jars to tourists before the Brazilian police arrested him with the two remaining jars for illegally selling ancient artifacts. Archaeologists immediately identified these as Roman amphorae of the 1st century B.C These containers were originally used to carry water, grain, salted fish, meat, olives, olive oil and other foods necessary to feed the ship's crew and to provision Roman outposts. One of the world's foremost authorities on Roman shipwrecks, Robert Marx, found more artifacts and confirmed this as an authentic Roman shipwreck. The world's foremost authority on Roman amphorae analyzed the clay in the jars and confirmed that these were manufactured at Kouass which was a Roman seaport, 2000 years ago, on the coast of modem-day Morocco. The Institute of Archaeology of the University of London performed thermo luminescence testing (which is a more accurate dating process than Carbon 14 dating) and the date of the manufacture was determined to be around 19 B.C. Many more amphorae and some marble objects were recovered, as well as a Roman bronze fibula (a clasp device used to fasten a coat or shirt).

So, why haven't we heard more about this fantastic find? One would think this news would make headlines around the world... The short answer is "politics". At the time the amphorae were confirmed to be "Roman", the large Italian faction in Brazil were extremely excited about this news. The Italian ambassador to Brazil notified the Brazilian government that, since the Romans were the first to "discover" Brazil, then all Italian immigrants should be granted immediate citizenship. There are a large number of Italian immigrants in Brazil and the government has created a tedious and costly citizenship application procedure for Italians that does not apply to Portuguese immigrants. The Brazilian government would not give in and the Italians in Brazil staged demonstrations. In response, the Brazilian government ordered all civilians off the recovery project and censored further news about the wreck hoping to diffuse the civil unrest. The Brazilian Navy continues to excavate the wreck in secret. We only know about it because of what Robert Marx learned before he was dismissed and what the University of London has leaked. This shipwreck may help explain some other intriguing Brazilian finds:
- Several hundred ancient Roman silver and bronze coins were unearthed near Recife, Brazil. Did these once belong to the castaways of the Salt Ship?
- A tribe of white, mostly blonde haired, blue-eyed "Indians" has been found in a remote region of the Amazon jungle. Could these be the descendants of the shipwrecked sailors of the Xareu wreck? DNA analysis of these "Indians" will surely bring some interesting facts to light!

Stay tuned for more "Titillating Trivia&".....

Did anybody else know about this? It is quite shocking, no? Not that it changes much though, it's as the title says: a trivia.



PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2004 10:09 pm
by Quintus Aurelius Orcus
For those who ever watched Xena, knows that at one point she went to Brittain to fight against the Romans with Budicca. Well it turns out that remains were found of a six foot tall woman in Brittain that suggest that women did fight alongside men. Here is the url:

Tap, tap...

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 1:28 am
by Aldus Marius
Avete amici...

Well, well, now I know. I'd been hearing bits and pieces of the Romans-in-Brazil story over the last decade, but never seen it all put together. I will reserve final judgement until I am more certain of where these salt-works were exactly--I don't think the ancient Romans ever reached south of the Sahara except by accident, and I have trouble picturing a wind north of that great desert that would blow anybody south and west. But then, I am no sailor. It's something to check out.

The greatest weak spot is in the description of the so-called "Indian" tribe. There are far more Asian Indians fitting that description than there are either South American Indians or Romans. Romans were only rarely "white, blonde and blue-eyed", if at all (no matter what Hollywood says). Blondeness in particular was considered so exotic that there got to be a brisk little industry in the City in the shorn locks of captured German women. To be blonde has been desireable for many millennia now; a thing that would not be true if it were very common. But the Roman phenotype in general trended towards olive skin, dark hair and eyes, strong features, and no great height. As always with a large population, there were certainly exceptions, and moreso as more northerly populations jumped into the gene pool. But we were Southern Europeans before anything else--not the classic Caucasian variety, and consequently, just as often looked down on as the Spaniards and Italians who most resemble us among our descendents.

I dare say a group of stranded Romans would blend right in, appearance-wise, with a band of Brazilian Indians. It is in custom and tech level that the greatest disparity would lie between them.

Mea sententia,

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 2:26 am
by Gnaeus Dionysius Draco

The white-haired indians story has another origin. And the indians in question are not blue-eyed. In fact, "true" indians never have white hair. It's often believed this tribe of indians that has white hair as they grow old descends from shipwrecked Chinese mariners. Not Europeans. How on Earth would Europeans have ploughed their way through the Amazone forest, by the way, without being killed? Highly unlikely. Chinese people however, coming from the other side, would be more likely.


Re: Tap, tap...

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:30 pm
by Publius Dionysius Mus
Salvete amici!

Marius wrote:Avete amici...

Well, well, now I know. I'd been hearing bits and pieces of the Romans-in-Brazil story over the last decade, but never seen it all put together. I will reserve final judgement until I am more certain of where these salt-works were exactly--I don't think the ancient Romans ever reached south of the Sahara except by accident, and I have trouble picturing a wind north of that great desert that would blow anybody south and west. But then, I am no sailor. It's something to check out.

There is indeed a problem with these winds: around the Equator there is a large windless zone between 5° north latitude and 5° southern latitude, and it was not until the sixteenth century that technology allowed to cross this zone. I can also not imagine a storm blowing so hard it could take a ship over the Atlantic Ocean. Besides, the Roman ships, being nothing more than little nutshells about 10-20 metres long and 5-10 metres large, does not seem capable to me of such journeys.

It is also very difficult to cross the Atlantic Ocean on the ocean currents. As you can see on this map, there are two circular currents in the Atlantic Ocean. One in the north clockwise, and one in the south counterclockwise. And their is also the Guinea current which is very strong and which pulls ships towards the African coast.

With these currents, and with the windstill zone around the equator, it seems very unlikely to me that a Roman ship crossed the Atlantic from Cape Verde and reached Rio de Janeiro. I would await scientific research and publication of this shipwreck.

However, I will try to get some information on this from some classical archaeology professors at the university here.


Re: Tap, tap...

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 8:38 pm
by Tiberius Dionysius Draco

Marius wrote:The greatest weak spot is in the description of the so-called "Indian" tribe. There are far more Asian Indians fitting that description than there are either South American Indians or Romans. Romans were only rarely "white, blonde and blue-eyed", if at all (no matter what Hollywood says). Blondeness in particular was considered so exotic that there got to be a brisk little industry in the City in the shorn locks of captured German women. To be blonde has been desireable for many millennia now; a thing that would not be true if it were very common. But the Roman phenotype in general trended towards olive skin, dark hair and eyes, strong features, and no great height. As always with a large population, there were certainly exceptions, and moreso as more northerly populations jumped into the gene pool. But we were Southern Europeans before anything else--not the classic Caucasian variety, and consequently, just as often looked down on as the Spaniards and Italians who most resemble us among our descendents.

I myself was quite sceptical about this too but then I thought that maybe there were a few slaves on that ship as well. Who knows.

Ah yes, indeed, Gnaeus raises an interesting question. How could those Romans have gotten throught the Amazone forest? Well it sounds a bit fantastic when you think about the following:

- how long does it take to get across? Wouldn't half (or more) of the crew have died of vitamin shortage, dehydration, starvation, diseases, ...?
- they crash against the rock, how many die when that happens?
- they go through the Amazone forest and again, how many died?

And still, even if they did reach it, have a few Roman sailors really got the power to change the look of an entire Indian tribe?

However, we must also realise that once upon a time, a couple of Spanjards did the same thing and even conquered a civilization while they were there. So it's not entirely impossible. Who knows?

Valete bene,

PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2004 2:30 am
by Gnaeus Dionysius Draco
Romulus Aurelius Orcus wrote:Salve
wasn't the modern image of Caligula created by such writers like Robert Graves, whom i been told wrote I, Caligula?

Just something I notice here now. You mean "I, Claudius", not "I, Caligula", which I don't think ever existed ;).


PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2004 7:17 pm
by Publius Dionysius Mus

A web search gave the following articles on the strange topic of Romans in Brazil:

A discussion around the previous article:

Another small article: ... ack_id=704

The man who claims to have discovered some fragments:

I spoke to one of the classical archaeologists at the university today, and he also thinks it's highly unlikely that Romans should have crossed the Atlantic to Rio. He said the most frustrating with these articles is that none of the show pictures of the wreck, or the exact location where the ship lies.

It has been suggested that the amphorae found (which is the very basis of the whole theory) could be simply jars that *look* like Roman amphorae.

Everything is however speculation, and I will keep searching the web for good proof on this theory.

Valete bene!

PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2004 11:12 pm
by Tiberius Dionysius Draco


Ancient Port found below Naples

Italian archaeologists have discovered the ancient port of Neapolis during excavation work for a new subway in Naples, they announced at a news conference this week.

Extending into the heart of present-day Naples, the second-century port was found 13 meters (43 feet) beneath one of the city's main squares, not far from the 13th-century Maschio Angioino fortress.

Evidence for the ancient Mediterranean port included a 10-meter (33-foot) ship, wooden pieces belonging to piers, and various items.

"We have gathered hundreds of them, all very well preserved. They had probably fallen off the ships while being unloaded. These objects will help us to shed light on the ancient city's everyday life, not to mention the possibility of studying the circulation of goods. We have found ceramics from various areas in the Mediterranean," Daniela Giampaola, the archaeologist in charge of the excavation, told Discovery News.

Among the items are coins, glass bottles still uncorked with the organic material perfectly preserved, intact amphorae and soles of seafarers' shoes, probably tossed away when they were no longer good.

Also found by the ship were seafarer's tools, such as needles to darn the nets, ropes, nails, hooks, stone anchors, and ancient lamps to attract fish at night.

Sand gradually covered Neapolis' port until it disappeared in the fourth century. Trapped in mud, the ship seems to be in excellent condition, thanks to the silt that, producing an airless environment, prevented decomposition.

"Most probably, the ship sank due to storms and floods. It will take at least six months to take it out of the mud, " Giampaola said.

Hoping to come across other important discoveries, in the next months Giampaola's team will follow the subway work and excavate deeper.

Indeed, the subway project has revealed other important findings elsewhere in the city, such as the remains of a building also dating to the Roman Empire, and a 12th-century fountain.

"We know that Naples was an important harbor, but till now have not been able to recover any physical evidence. The discovery of a sunken ship with its cargo is exciting, and it is to be hoped that more evidence of the port will emerge from future work," Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, director of the British School at Rome, an authority on ancient Roman history, told Discovery News.

[source also includes photographs of the archeological site]


biggest Roman sanctuary in the Netherlands discovered

PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2004 12:02 am
by Publius Dionysius Mus

"In the Netherlands, near the village of Kessel on the river Maas, the remains of the biggest and most monumental Roman sanctuary ever in the Netherlands have been found. This is the conclusion of researchers from the Archaeological Centre of the University of Amsterdam after studying a large part of the Roman architectural material. The researchers were able to reconstruct most of the sanctuary wit the help of the building rules written down by the Roman architect Vitruvius. The sanctuary is most likely built around AD 100. It is until now uncertain which god(dess) was worshipped there."

Translated from - Original Dutch text:

Nederlands grootste Romeinse heiligdom

In het Nederlandse Kessel zijn aan de Maasoever resten gevonden van het grootste en monumentaalste Romeinse heiligdom dat ooit in Nederland is aangetroffen. Tot die conclusie komen onderzoekers van het Archeologisch Centrum van de Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam na het bestuderen van een grote hoeveelheid Romeins steenbouwmateriaal. De onderzoekers hebben het heiligdom grotendeels kunnen reconstrueren dankzij bekende bouwregels van de Romeinse architect Vitruvius. De tempel is vermoedelijk gebouwd 100 jaar na Christus. Welke godheid er werd vereerd valt niet met zekerheid te zeggen.

Valete bene

PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2004 7:56 pm
by Q. C. Locatus Barbatus
Vandaag stond er ook nog een artikel over in de Morgen met ongeveer dezelfde inhoud.

[moderator edit:] Today there was also an article about it in the newspaper "De Morgen".[/moderator edit]

Either you misposted (Belgica Forum) or you forgot to write it in english. tsk :P

PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 5:28 pm
by Tiberius Dionysius Draco


What future for a sleeping giant?

The Roman town of Venta Icenorum lies slumbering beneath the Norfolk countryside. Now the county faces a conundrum – should it awaken this "Crown jewel" of our heritage and turn it into a modern visitor attraction or let the past sleep in peace?

Once it was the most important Roman town in our part of East Anglia. Today it is hidden beneath the grass of the Tas Valley.

But as to tomorrow? The future of Venta Icenorum, the Roman town at Caistor St Edmund is still to be decided upon.

Should it be developed as a major attraction to allow potentially tens of thousands of visitors every year to discover more of what life was life in Roman Britain?

Should it be left as it is, protected from possible damage and part of a beautiful rural setting?

Or does the way forward lie perhaps in a middle way, a small-scale venture, more information for the public and some excavation?

It is a decision which lies in the hands of the Venta Joint Advisory Board (JAB), a group that brings together those championing the site's historical value, local residents, councillors and representatives of the many other interested parties.

But even within the group there are differing views on the road ahead for the site. While some might consider the Caistor site to be South Norfolk's Sutton Hoo, a fantastic historic find that warrants a higher public profile, others feel it is best left as it is, simply with its interpretation boards that tell the story of the "market place of the Iceni".

And this has been reflected too in the results of a recent major public consultation on the site's future.

The feelings of the hundreds of people from throughout Norfolk and as far afield as Australia who responded to the consultation varied from those who felt it was an undervalued resource to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school of thought.

Comments for development included "It's about time something was done to stop this site going to waste", "Conservation and education facilities are overdue" and "Presently it feels overlooked and does not reflect its importance".

Against development though, people said "One person's improvement is another person's vandalism", "Any improvements would spoil the site" and "Don't ruin a perfectly lovely site . . . stop concreting over England".

The public was invited to vote on four schemes that had been put forward by specialist consultants Strategic Leisure.

Option One would see Caistor Roman Town remain much the same as it currently is.

Option Two included a small information building and toilets near the existing car park, as well as disabled access and enhanced interpretation panels. There was also the possibility of excavating parts of the site.

Option Three was more extensive, including the possibility of a new access road to a different car park site and possible guided tours round the area.

Option Four is the major scheme which encompasses the others plus a new visitors' centre containing exhibitions, possibly a museum, education room, restaurant and toilets on a hill overlooking the valley.

The result of the vote was also quite definitely split –Option Four gained 162 votes, just beating Option Two which got 160 votes. The other two options were also well supported.

As public consultation report noted: "The main conclusion to be drawn from the results of this consultation is that the people of South Norfolk and beyond care about Venta and although their visions for the future of the site may differ wildly, this can only be viewed as a positive outcome of the consultation."

The mixed result of the vote was somewhat unexpected for Mike Bentley, countryside and heritage manager of South Norfolk Council, who is on the JAB.

"I think everyone was surprised that it was so level between a major and a minor scheme," he said. "I think there was clearly the feeling that everybody has an opinion about what should and should not be done about Caistor. But to come out with the results that the consultation did was a surprise to us all."

It also came as something of a frustration to certain members, such as Norfolk Archaeological Trust's Peter Wade Martins.

The trust was bequeathed the core of the site in 1984 by landowner Edith Hawkins. In the years that followed, the trust negotiated with other owners of neighbouring land, so that in 1992 it was able to purchase the rest of the present site.

This was immediately grassed over to protect it from damage caused, for instance, by ploughing, and it was officially opened to the public the following year.

Around that time, the trust was delighted to find a nearby barn that would make an ideal visitors centre. An architects' competition was held to find the most suitable design, and everything was ready to roll when the barn was unexpectedly sold to another buyer.

A year later a scheme was floated to build a visitors centre near the present car park, but this met opposition for its possible effect on the landscape, and the scheme was dropped.

In its place, the trust came up with the Caistor Project, a new plan that included a small interpretation building and toilets near the present car park, a thorough investigation of the site and important conservation of the walls.

Also included in the project was re-excavation of the sites that were looked at during the 1930s and covered over again. These include the Forum and the South Gate.

Dr Wade Martins explained: "There are those who feel we have done enough by making it accessible to the public, interpreting it well and saving it from further damage. But there has been quite a lot of pressure from councillors in South Norfolk to do something more - but no-one knows quite what that something more should be."

By now the JAB was in place, consisting of representatives from South Norfolk Council, the Norfolk Archaeological Trust, Norfolk County Council, Caistor Parish Council, Caistor parochial church council, Norfolk Museums and Archaeological Service and Norwich Fringe Project, with a role to oversee management and development of the site.

It was decided that before any progress was made a new review of possibilities for the site should be made.

The Strategic Leisure report was the result and the public consultation has been carried out on its suggested options.

However, despite the public coming down slightly in favour of the major scheme, JAB believes the best option would be Option Two with some added aspects of Option Four.

Various costings, expert opinions and other information are now being put together on the possibilities up for discussion.

Mike Bentley explained why such care and time was being taken: "The board has trod very carefully over the past 10 years and now things are gaining a momentum. Everyone on the board is more than aware that the decision has to be right.

"Both locally and nationally it is incredibly important because it is one of only three Roman regional capitals that have been totally undeveloped (the other two being Wroxeter, and Silchester).

"We aim to make a very good qualified decision that most people should be pleased with, but possibly we will not get everyone satisfied. We intend to make more people pleased than upset!"

It is a decision-making process that the people of Caistor St Edmund itself have been watching closely.

Nigel Orme is the Caistor St Edmund Parish Council representative on the JAB. He said: "Locally there is a feeling that the local community has not been as involved as it might have been. That stems from the Strategic Leisure report which did not do a very good job in terms of consulting locally and that rubbed up a lot of people the wrong way.

"It put forward a lot of very unrealistic suggestions and to use it as a basis for moving ahead into the future is a worrying thing.

"The increase in visitor numbers is one of the big problems. It is unrealistic to imagine that the numbers of visitors that Strategic Leisure project would materialise unless you give them something to see when they get there," he continued.

"In order to give added value, funding and permission would have to be sought for some sort of archaeological dig there which would be fraught with problems.

"Of course, as a local resident, I personally feel that it would be very interesting to see a dig go on there. But I have been told that it is not going to be the most interesting of sites in terms of things that could be found there.

"The majority of buildings would have been wooden, so you would be looking at dark patches of ground where the houses had been rather than stone walls.

"A lot of local people do use the site, but not particularly for its historic value. It is quite nice to think of times gone by if, for instance, you come across an oyster shell that has been kicked up by a mole and it makes you think that it could have been part of someone's meal 2000 years ago.

"But locally, people appreciate it for the tranquillity, peace and atmosphere that it has, and that is one of the things that people fear will be affected.

"I feel we need to go through an awful lot more talking and looking at options. The site has been there 2000 years and it is not going to go anywhere."

Mike Bentley agreed that it was not a decision that could be rushed. He added: "The most important thing is not the time frame, it is that the decision is right and that we make the right choice on the development.

"If it takes longer to make the right decision it is far better than feeling the pressure of time and making a decision we live to regret."



Ancient Indo-Roman site in Kerala

A historical mystery surrounding Indo-Roman trade routes may have been solved, says a report by Southampton University archaeology research fellow Roberta Tomber.

Armed with an Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) grant to investigate Indo-Roman trade, and with the guidance of David Peacock who heads Archaeology at the University of Southampton, Tomber worked with local archaeologists in Kerala where she identified the first fragments of Roman wine amphorae found on the south-west coast of India.

The striking archaeological evidence suggests that the legendary seaport of Muziris, which was a bustling Indo-Roman trading center during the early historic period between the first century BC and the fifth century AD, could have been located at Pattanam, near Paravur on the south of the Periyar river delta.

"These were found in Pattanam, north of Paravoor. The whole area is strewn with pottery samples. Though many of them are of Indian origin, a few pieces of Indo-Roman era were also found. A detail exploration of the area will alone help establish this fact," said Dr K.P.Shajan, who chanced upon the evidence during a geological survey.

What led Shajan, geoarchaeologist, and his team to Pattanam was clear geological evidence which suggested that the river Periyar had shifted its course from the south to the north over the millennia. A branch of the Periyar, called the Periyar Thodu, runs close to Pattanam and satellite imagery indicates that the Periyar delta lies on the southern side and the river could have flowed close to Pattanam about 2,000 years ago. This would place the ancient site alongside the Periyar in keeping with the descriptions in literary sources.

The site covers an area of about 1.5 sq km and the deposit is about two metres thick. It has produced fragments of imported Roman amphora, mainly used for transporting wine and olive oil, Yemenese and West Asian pottery, besides Indian ware common on the East Coast of India and also found in Berenike in Egypt. Bricks, tiles, pottery shards, beads and other artefacts found at Pattanam are very similar to those found at Arikamedu and other early historic sites in India.

According to the University of Southampton report, the most striking finds from Pattanam are the rim and handle of a classic Italian wine amphora from Naples which was common between the late first century BC and 79 AD, when pottery production in the region was disrupted by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Islamic glazed ware from West Asia indicate that the site remained active beyond the early historic period

Archaeologists have long believed in the existence of the ancient port of Muziris in this area, where Romans traded for pepper and other spices from India and even further East, but its location was still unknown. 'We now have for the first time archaeological evidence of where Muziris was located,' she said. 'It was a very important port for the Romans and would repay careful excavation. I hope to be involved in this work in the future.'

Tomber claims that the pottery pieces found by Shajan, a marine geologist, from Pattanam near Paravoor, are parts of Roman wine amphora, Mesopotamian torpedo jar and Yemenite storage jar. "It is the first time that we have found evidence in Malabar coast. The clay is very different from what was used in India during the same period. A lot of black minerals are present," she says.

If this claim is true, then the pieces are the first evidence of Roman pottery to be found in Kerala. It also strengthens the theory that the port of Muziris was in the belt of Kodungallur-Chettuva.

Tomber suggests there are several factors that strengthen the belief that these are remnants of first century Roman trade. "Pottery is considered a very important evidence to solve an archaeological enigma. Here we work on typology. Such examples have also been found during excavations in Egypt," says Tomber.

Tomber has extensive experience of working on Roman sites at the Red Sea ports of Quseir al-Qadim (ancient Myos Hormos) and at Berenike, both in Egypt, with Professor David Peacock. Now, with David Peacock, she has an Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) grant to investigate Indo-Roman trade.



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