Hidden beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, archaeologists have discovered a 1,700-year-old Roman cemetery that seemed to show no religious bias.
The new discovery, found at the junction of Newarke and Oxford Streets, includes numerous burials and skeletal remains from 13 individuals, both male and female of various ages. The cemetery is estimated to date back to around A.D. 300, according to University of Leicester archaeologists who led the dig.
I’ve been trying to think of reasons there would be cemeteries under parking lots and even if they are so preferentially. They could be since land use is often fairly consistent across time, with people building where older buildings were and leaving land flat and unbuilt where it was flat and unbuilt before. Very often cemeteries (at least in the US) were placed on the outskirts of settlements and on sloping land that was otherwise ill-suited for agriculture or on cruddy land. But just speculating, I’m not sure the current raft of parking lot cemeteries is anything other than coincidence.
Scores of archaeologists working in a waterlogged trench through the wettest summer and coldest winter in living memory have recovered more than 10,000 objects from Roman London, including writing tablets, amber, a well with ritual deposits of pewter, coins and cow skulls, thousands of pieces of pottery, a unique piece of padded and stitched leather – and the largest collection of lucky charms in the shape of phalluses ever found on a single site.
Sophie Jackson, of Museum of London Archaeology, said: “The waterlogged conditions left by the Wallbrook stream have given us layer upon layer of Roman timber buildings, fences and yards, all beautifully preserved and containing amazing personal items, clothes and even documents – all of which will transform our understanding of the people of Roman London.”
That is actually very cool: it’s a waterlogged and, presumably, anoxic site so there’s organics of all sorts.
Sometimes called The Other Pompeii, Herculaneum is a vast site nestled in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius in Italy.
It too was destroyed by the volcano in the year 79 AD, and later excavated and it has now thrown up a treasure trove of secrets.
Among them, findings that the poor there lived a rich and varied life – richer, in fact, than many Italians do today.
Nice little video, too bad it’s not longer. But it’s promoting a TV show. I vaguely recall linking to this at some time in the past, or something very like it. Interesting that it was thought that the poor survived largely on bread, wine, and olive oil. I suppose the same could be said of, say, the Egyptian hoi polloi, although even there we find that most households maintained gardens where they grew some of their own produce. Actually, I argued in my dissertation that even a site that seems to have close ties to the central government probably participated in the local economy to a great extent which would have entailed buying local produce and other foodstuffs.
Baby bones found scattered on the ground at a seventh century workshop have hinted at an unexpected callousness towards child deaths among Romans.
Two bones and skull fragment were found lying on the floor among the remains of pigs, goats and sheep.
Another bone, that of a baby’s arm, was simply swept up against a wall along with all the other debris being brushed away from the ground around a villa.
The fact that only fragments have been found make me wonder if they got there more due to taphonomic reasons than actual burial practices. Certainly a lot of infant burials weren’t all that ceremonial — at Kom el-Hisn many of the infant and child bruials were just placed against walls and covered with trash debris — and I suspect that infant mortality was fairly high which could well cause the value placed on children to be fairly low until they reached a certain age. We don’t know anything about the infants though, so it’s all really speculation.
Italian archaeologists in Rome recently announced the discovery of “the biggest find in Rome since the Forum was uncovered in the 1920s,” according to Arts Beat. A 900-seat arts center, where 2nd-century rhetoricians, lawyers, and writers were believed to have recited their works under a 13-meter-high arched ceiling, was discovered a mere 18 feet below the busy Piazza Venezia circus by city workers digging for Rome’s third underground metro line.
I vaguely recall posting something about this or something similar in the recent past. Essentially any excavation in Rome will uncover something.
Ostia was a harbor city situated at the mouth of the river Tiber, some 18 miles (30 km) to the west of Rome. It was founded by Ancus Marcius, the legendary fourth king of Rome, around 620 BC. The settlement is supposed to have aimed three goals: to give ancient Rome an outlet to the sea, to ensure its supply of wheat and salt, and finally, to prevent an enemy fleet to ascend the Tiber.
“Ancus Marcius built a city at the mouth of the Tiber, and settled it with colonists,” Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote in De Re Publica (II, 18, 33).
Archaeologists have unearthed many ancient buildings and main roads in Ostia, but the location of the river harbor remained unknown.
If you search on “ostia” here there are a couple of other items on it, including the finding of a portion of a ship. The photo there only shows to core locations, I wonder if that’s all they did? Seems like a lot from only two cores. I also am interested in the bowl shape outlined in the aerial. I had immediately thought that it outlined the harbor area, but I suppose it didn’t have to be that large, and the only borings are much closer to the water. Pretty cool though.