Ruts in the Roman (?) Road at Ipplepen

From the University of Exeter:

The excavation at Ipplepen, run by the University of Exeter, is back on site following the discovery of a complex series of archaeological features thought to be part of the largest Romano-British settlement in Devon outside of Exeter.

Wheel ruts found in the newly excavated road surface are thought to be like those at Pompeii caused by carts being driven over them. This is cause for excitement according to archaeologist Danielle Wootton, the Devon Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme. She said:“The road must have been extensively used, it’s intriguing to think what the horse-drawn carts may have been carrying and who was driving them. This is a fantastic opportunity to see a ‘snap shot’ of life 2000 years ago.”

The geophysical survey and a significant number of Roman coins found when the site was first discovered highlighted the importance of this extensive site and its potential to explore the relationship between the Romans and Devon’s native population.

This year’s dig, directed by Dr Imogen Wood has uncovered a few more Roman coins, two of which date from between AD 43 to AD 260 and around six late Roman 4th century coins. One can be accurately dated to AD 335 – 341. However, the location of personal artefacts, such as the newly discovered Roman hair pin , brooch and bracelet are equally as thrilling for the archaeological team.

The pin would have been used to hold the hair together much in the same way similar items are used today. Danielle Wootton said:“Roman women had some very elaborate hairstyles which changed through time like our fashions do today. Hairpins were used to hold complex hairstyles like buns and plaits together and suggests that Devon women may have been adopting fashions from Rome. This period in history often gets flooded with stories about Roman soldiers and centurions; this is interesting as they are artefacts worn by women.”

Green and blue glass beads have been unearthed, which suggests that colourful necklaces were also worn. Two amber beads have been discovered which are likely to have travelled many miles possibly from the Baltic coast to their final location at Ipplepen in the South Devon.

Wootton explained:“During the Roman period amber was thought to have magical, protective and healing properties. These very personal items worn by the women that lived on this site centuries ago have enabled us to get a glimpse into the lives of people living everyday lives on the edges of the Roman Empire.”

Pottery has also been discovered by the Archaeology Department’s students and local volunteers on the excavation. Dr Imogen Wood, University of Exeter said:“The pottery recovered suggests people were making copies of popular roman pottery for cooking and eating, but also importing a small amount of fine pottery from the continent such as drinking cups and Samian bowls for dinner guests to see and envy.”

The excavation is being carried out until the end of July and is likely to reveal further exciting finds which will help to further our understanding between Roman Britain and its native population. […]

Hmmm … I wonder if this is a Roman road we’re talking about; we certainly seem to be expected to infer that. I also wonder, given how frequently wheel ruts in a Roman context are linked to other things, whether we should be taking bets on how quickly we see the Railroad Gauge Canard again?

 

Alternate/Derivative sources:

Our previous coverage of the site and its finds:

… and possibly this:

Jewish Epigraphy Workshop Materials Online

Margaret Williams of the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins recently conducted an epigraphy workshop which consisted of a couple of half-day seminars which provide a really useful overview of what is currently known in regards to Jewish epigraphy in Hellenistic/Roman times. Even better, all the materials (handouts, audio, powerpoints) have been made available online. This seems to be a useful model that other talks/seminar/paper sessions might want to emulate. In any event, details and links available here.

Pyramid of Cestius Restored, More or Less

Back in 2011 we first heard of a Japanese businessman’s plans to fund the restoration of the Pyramid of Cestius. The work is apparently done (perhaps just the first phase? It does seem like more work is coming). An item from AFP via Channel News Asia:

A Japanese businessman whose donation helped restore an ancient Roman pyramid said it was a way of thanking Italy for his success, as he toured the monument with Italy’s culture minister on Tuesday.

Dressed in an impeccable white suit, the wavy-haired fashion importer Yuzo Yagi admired the work due to be completed within months thanks to his two-million euro (US$2.7 million) gift.

“It’s an act of gratitude. Our company has grown thanks to Italy,” he told AFP at a ceremony on the site — three years after the agreement with Rome authorities was signed.

Asked about the duration, he quipped: “When Italians give a time for finishing, it is never in time. But the first phase is being finished five months ahead of schedule.”

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said he hoped the project would encourage more private donations for restorations — especially from Italian businesses which can now get major tax breaks.

“This should serve as an example,” Franceschini said.

When Yagi was taken to the frescoed funeral chamber inside the pyramid that once housed the remains of the wealthy Roman it was built for, he appeared puzzled.

“Where is the treasure?” he asked restorers, who quickly explained that Roman tradition at the time shunned ostentatious displays of wealth but that a search was underway for a possible hidden second chamber.

“So there was no treasure in Roman pyramids!” he exclaimed.

Outside, he joked with workers cleaning up the pyramid’s Carrara marble blocks saying: “Is that really white?”

The 36-metre high pyramid was built in 18-12 BC for Gaius Cestius and stands at the centre of a busy road junction. It was built following Rome’s conquest of Egypt, which started off a trend for ancient Egyptian style.

“This is an amazing construction. It has really stood the test of time,” said Giuseppina Fazio, a senior restorer, pointing to some World War II bomb and bullet scars visible from scaffolding on the 2,000-year-old monument.

I’m curious whether there really is a search for a “hidden second chamber” …

Additional coverage:

 

Mosaic from Sweida … Seriously?

A very strange, brief item (to me, anyway) from Syrian TV:

 Sweida Antiquities Department said that parts of mosaic representing geometric shapes and dating back to the end of the Roman era and the beginning of the Byzantine era were discovered at a house in Shahba city in Sweida.

Head of Sweida Antiquities Department Hussein Zaineddin told said that the unearthed parts are 6 meters long and 4,5 meters wide.

Zaineddin added that the unearthed parts will be joined to the picture which was discovered in 1970. The previously discovered picture is 3,5 meters long and 4,5 meters wide .

He pointed out that the picture to be displayed later at Sweida or Shahba museums after restoring it.

The original article is accompanied by a less-than-useful photo which doesn’t really add any veracity to the report. Apparently — given all that’s going on in Syria right now — that archaeology is proceeding normally. I’m not really sure what “discovered in a house” means (was the mosaic removed from a site? was it in situ?)  and find it strange that we aren’t told where the “picture” portion is. I’m not sure we can lend any credence at all to this report.

Plans to Rebury “Parthenon of Thessaloniki”

From Greek Reporter (I’m not sure this is news; I could have sworn we’d heard about this before):

Local residents of Thessaloniki in northern Greece are outraged by a decision to build an apartment block on top of a recently discovered ancient Greek temple in the heart of the city. The temple of goddess Aphrodite, which was brought to Thessaloniki from the city of Aenea in the 6th century B.C., is said to be priceless in value thus the locals named it “Parthenon of Thessaloniki.”

The temple lies in an area now called Dioikitirio (administrative centre). In Roman times the area was known as the Square of the Sacred Ones, as most of the city’s temples were concentrated there.

The ancient Greek temple was brought to light in 2000 after the demolition of a two-storey building. The archaeologists found the eastern part of the temple’s krepis, statues of Greek and Roman times, and numerous fragments of architectural parts.

While most of the temple remains in Dioikitirio, some parts including the columns of the temple, as well as many of the other remains, are currently being exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.

According to the school of Architecture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Antigonidon square can be reformed in two levels, so that the temple would be rebuilt and become visible in its entirety.