Thera and Iasos

A rather confusing item from Hurriyet:

Archaeologists working on Iasos on Turkey’s Aegean coast have recently discovered that the ancient city was buried under a mountain of ash caused by the explosion of Mt. Thera on Santorini 3,600 years ago.

Excavation works have also revealed a sewage system that was in place in the 4,000-year-old city and tunnels to the city’s theater.

Excavations are being carried out by the world-famous Italian archaeology team of Studi Delle Tuscia University. The head of the excavations, Professor Marcello Spanu, is working with assistant archaeologists Emanuele Borgia and Şevki Bardakçı, Culture and Tourism Ministry official Selvet Karamahmut, 28 other Italian archaeologists, as well as university students who have recently unearthed new historic sites within the ancient city.

Spanu said columns that were found one meter underground provided vital information about the history of the city. “Following the explosion of the volcano Thera, which also caused the destruction of the Minoan civilization on the islands of Crete and Santorini, the ancient city was covered with ash and remained so for a while.

This is why its sewage system and tunnels to the ancient theater did not change. At the end of the excavation and restoration works, for which we spend nearly 100,000 Turkish Liras annually, I am sure that this place will be Turkey’s largest, as well as one of its most important, archeoparks,” Spanu said.

Plans to attract more tourists

But Bardakçı, the deputy head of the excavations and an official from the Mediterranean Civilizations Research Institute, lamented the poor state of the promotion of Iasos, as well as the historic and cultural heritage of the surrounding Kıyıkışlacık village, while noting that they would undertake new endeavors to draw in more visitors.

He said the excavation and restoration works had shed light on historic artifacts across a vast area and succeeded in providing key data about the region’s past.

“As a result of works that will be carried out in the agora, the Artemis and Astias holy area, the Zeus Mefistos area, the mosaic house, the acropolis, the western port castle and the port, which was constructed between 1481 and 1522, the region will become one of the richest ancient cities in terms of cultural heritage. We have prepared the exact location and a digital map of the ancient city with satellite photos. When the project is done, we expect that tourists will rush to the area. As of next year, we will be in negotiations with travel agencies and tour operators to promote Iasos by way of daily boat tours and jeep safaris,” Bardakçı said.

This is why its sewage system and tunnels to the ancient theater did not change. Are they suggesting there was a sewage system and theater at Iasos prior to the eruption of Thera? Or are they trying to suggest the destruction layer of the volcano helps to show that the archaeological remains didn’t ‘change much’?

Crossrail Roman Skulls Followup

Yesterday we had a BBC piece detailing the discovery of a number of possible Roman skulls in the Walbrook River area (Possible Pile of Roman Skulls) but today we see headlines connecting them with Boudicca, alas (dead Romans? must be Boudicca’s fault). Seems a passing remark by one of the archaeologists was given greater focus than he probably wanted: From a Reuters piece:

“This isn’t the first time that skulls have been found in the bed of the River Walbrook and many early historians suggested these people were killed during the Boudicca rebellion against the Romans,” lead archaeologist Jay Carver said.

“We now think the skulls are possibly from a known Roman burial ground about 50 metres up river from our Liverpool Street station worksite.”

… give the journos a name and they’ll take a rebellion. In any event, the Reuters piece is accompanied by a nice little video report:

… the horse jaw might suggest something more ‘Iron Age’ than Roman …

Possible Pile of Roman Skulls

The latest items of possible interest from the Crossrails project … from the BBC:

Archaeologists working with London’s Crossrail project have uncovered 20 skulls believed to be from the Roman period.

It is likely the bones were washed from a nearby burial site along one of London’s “lost” rivers – the Walbrook.

Since the Crossrail project began, about 10,000 Roman items have been discovered .

These latest finds could give new insights into the lives of Roman people.

Near-intact pottery artefacts were also found which probably travelled along the same route as the skulls. Other bone fragments would not have been washed as easily down the river.

Paved over in the 15th Century, the Walbrook river divided the western and eastern parts of the city, its moist muddy walls providing exceptionally good conditions for artefacts to be preserved.

The discoveries were found about 3m below ground and underneath the the Bedlam cemetery, a burial ground where hundreds of skeletons have been unearthed .

Though they have yet to be forensically dated, Nicholas Elsden from the Museum of London Archaeology said they were likely to be from the 3rd to 4th Centuries AD, as that was when Romans buried their citizens as opposed to cremating them.

“It’s relatively unusual to find so many concentrated [in one area] when you’re not in a graveyard. We’re 100 yards outside the Roman city walls.”

Roman law required burial outside the city, explained Mr Elsden, which meant there were burial sites circled around the town.

“What we’re looking at here is how the Romans viewed their dead. You wouldn’t imagine modern burial grounds being allowed to wash out into a river,” he told BBC News.

Don Walker, an osteologist also from the Museum of London Archaeology, said the skulls were probably buried in different environments, shown by their shades of brown and grey.

“Forensic studies show that when the body disintegrates near a watercourse, the skull travels furthest, either because it floats or it can roll along the base of the river.

“They were possibly buried in an area where there wasn’t much land available. At the moment it looks as though they’ve collected together through natural processes.”

From initial observations, Mr Walker said there was no evidence of any “foul play”, but details about their sex and age would only emerge through further investigations.

He added that chemical markers on the teeth could reveal where these people came from and what sorts of food they ate.

Archaeologists believe that the Crossrail Project will lead to further discoveries hidden beneath the streets of London and say it could transform our understanding of Roman London.

Other recent findings include several bodies believed to date from the time of the Black Death and wood thought to be evidence of a 3,500-year-old Bronze Age transport route through London.

Crossrail currently operates over 40 worksites and archaeological investigations are carried out at each site ahead of main construction works to build the central stations.

The project will connect 37 stations from Heathrow Airport and Maidenhead in the west, through central London and out to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east and is due to be completed in 2018.

Sourcing Trireme Lumber

From Greek Reporter:

Scientists from Greece and the US believe they are close to tracing the wood from which ancient triremes were made.  The scientists are searching in Pieria (one of the regional units of Greece, located in the southern part of Macedonia, in the Region of Central Macedonia) for the Macedonian fir and the pine tree of Olympus and Pieria, locally known as “liacha.”

According to Aristotle’s successor Theophrastus, this tree was used for the laborious process of constructing paddles and ships. Prints on the earth of this particular kind of wood, which has no knots but great resistance to salt water, were discovered during the archaeological excavations that started in 2003 in Methoni of Pieria.

This fact, after the announcement of the results of the findings at a scientific conference that took place in Thessaloniki in 2011, mobilized scientists from different sectors in Greece, Los Angeles in the USA, Britain and Ireland, who have ever since been working together to discover pure pieces of wood from the 8th century at the excavation site in Methoni that will continue its work in 2014.

“At this moment a big cooperation is in process, which started at the end of 2011 between the 27th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classic Antiquities, which is based in the capital of Pieria, Katerini, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) and the Archaeology Department of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA),” the President of the Philology Department of AUTH, Ioannis Tzifopoulos, explained.

He also explained that on the American side, the Greek-American professor John Papadopoulos, who for many years has led excavations in Toroni of Chalkidiki, in Epirus, as well as in Albania, shows particular interest in the object of the excavations in Methoni of Pieria.

The Golden Beer of Danish … Sussita??

Actually … this is an item about the dig season at Sussita … the inicipit of Ha’aretz’ coverage:

An unexpected discovery awaited a team of Israeli archaeologists in a drainage canal dating from roughly 2,000 years ago: an aluminum bottlecap. From a beer bottle.

No, the good people of ancient Sussita weren’t producing aluminum metal. The meaning of the startling discovery is that millennia after its construction, the drainage canal was still working, centuries after the city’s final destruction by earthquake

Made of aluminum and feather-light, the bottle-cap floated on rainwater that washed into the canal, says Dr. Michael Eisenberg, head of an Israeli archaeological team digging the site.

This canal, or less romantically – a sewer, passed beneath the floor of the public bathhouse being excavated in the city, which the Greeks called Antiochia Hippos. Its end was discovered several hundred meters away by Eisenberg and his team.

The archaeologists believe this remarkably robust sewage system drained effluent from a postulated public toilet near the bathhouse. If the sewer’s upper opening is found, the public toilet will be found as well, Aizenberg postulates.

Happily for historians, the Sussita sewer system contained not only a beer bottlecap but much more. For instance several hundred bronze coins, swollen and rusted from eons of exposure to urine, were also found inside.

Ten dice made of bone found near the coins provided further evidence of the sewer’s function: Eisenberg believes that the city’s inhabitants gambled with dice as they sat in the bathroom. Just as latter-day man accidently drops his phone into the john, thus the people of yore apparently let coins and dice fall into the sewer.

Now these artifacts are helping researchers to learn about the inhabitants’ customs.

Serious about exercise at Sussita

In this last summer digging season, the team unearthed a palaestra — a plaza surrounded by columns, where the city inhabitants exercised and which was part of the bathhouse.

The sewage canal passed beneath the floor of the bathhouse’s small pool, whose location shows the ancients also appreciated a good view: it overlooks the low-lying Sea of Galilee and the city of Tiberias on its western shore.

The pool was tiled with high-quality limestone tiles. Some of its walls were decorated with tiles of limestone and marble, and in other places the pool walls were plastered in bright shades of red. [...]

… only Arutz Sheva seems to have identified the brand of beer (Beer Cap Found Embedded in Archeological Excavation), hence my title.  That said, I’m not sure why we haven’t heard more from this dig:

Sekhmet from the Red Basilica ‘Restored’

From Hurriyet:

An almost nine-meter long lion-headed Egyptian goddess Sekhmet has been revived in the Red Basilica (Kızıl Avlu) in the largest structure of the ancient city of Pergamon in İzmir’s Bergama district, and opened to visits on Sept. 26. The statue has already drawn great interest from tourists in the area.

German Excavation Institute Chairman Ferix Pilson said it would contribute to Bergama’s inclusion in the UNESO Cultural Heritage list in June next year.

The Egyptian statue pieces found during the excavations since 1930 in the Red Basilica are among the most important statues from the Roman Empire. Among them, the lion-headed goddess statue was reconstructed thanks to the support of the Studiosus Foundation. The statue was raised last year for trial purposes and with further works, and it reached an impressive height of 8.5 meters.

… the original article includes a photo, which I have to include here because this is among the worst ‘restorations’ of any statue I’ve ever seen:

DHA photo via Hurriyet

… looks more like an Australian rules goal judge than a Romanized Egyptian goddess …

Head of Aphrodite from Antiochia ad Cragnum

From a UN-L press release:

Shoveling and sweeping to expose still-hidden portions of a 1,600-square-foot marble mosaic that dates to Roman times, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln archeological team this past summer unearthed a new treasure in southern Turkey.

Lying face down in more than a millennium of soil was a life-size marble head, the remnant of a sculpture of the goddess Aphrodite – still beautiful, though scarred by chips on its nose and face.

The sculpture’s body was missing, likely incinerated in a lime kiln many centuries ago.

By somehow escaping destruction, Aphrodite’s head provides yet another telling detail about how profoundly the region was affected by Greek and Roman culture during the first and second centuries, said project director Michael Hoff, Hixson-Lied professor of art history at UNL. Hoff returned to Nebraska in late August after spending nearly three months in Turkey.

The head, Hoff said, is the only piece of monumental sculpture recovered so far in an eight-year archeological dig at the site of Antiochia ad Cragnum (Antioch on the cliffs), an ancient Mediterranean city that once numbered perhaps 8,000 people.

Last year, Hoff’s team discovered a mosaic thought to be the largest of its type in the region. Archeologists believe it adorned an open-air plaza outside a soaring, 60-foot-high Roman bath house.

Aphrodite’s head was a highlight of a 2013 excavation that also uncovered the vestiges of what appears to be a temple, with a second marble mosaic covering its interior floor.

It is unusual to find a mosaic floor in a temple, Hoff said. His next step is to research other examples to learn more about how mosaics relate to temple architecture.

With assistance from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., and Ataturk University in Turkey, the project has excavated sites in a 200-square kilometer area where Antiochia was located. The project’s co-directors are Rhys Townsend, an art history professor at Clark University; Ece Erdogmus, a native of Turkey who is an architectural engineering professor at NU’s Peter Kiewit Institute in Omaha; and Birol Can, an associate professor of archeology at Ataturk University.

One of Erdogmus’ roles is to help reassemble the stones of another temple located not far from the site of the bathhouse.

The new discoveries add evidence that early residents of Antiochia – which was established at about the time of Emperor Nero in the middle of the first century and flourished during the height of the Roman Empire – adopted many of the trappings of Roman civilization, though they lived in relative isolation a thousand miles from Rome. In the past, scholars believed the region’s culture had been too insular to be heavily impacted by Rome.

Yet Hoff and his team have found many signs that contradict that belief.

“We have niches where statues once were. We just didn’t have any statues,” Hoff said. “Finally, we have the head of a statue. It suggests something of how mainstream these people were who were living here, how much they were a part of the overall Greek and Roman traditions.”

Before the city was founded, the region had been a haven for pirates, including the Cilician pirates who kidnapped Julius Caesar in about 75 B.C. Francis Beaufort, an officer in the British Royal Navy, identified Antiochia’s location in the early 19th century using a guide written by the ancient Roman geographer Ptolemy.

Time, and probably Christian vandals, erased much of the evidence of Antiochia. The bath’s vaulted ceilings may have collapsed in an earthquake. By the third century, Rome’s influence was disrupted by insurrections and rampaging armies. By the fourth century, the area was a key site in the development of Christianity – and Hoff suspects that radical Christians destroyed many of the marble statues and reliefs in an effort to eliminate pagan idolatry.

The archeological team has found evidence of lime kilns near the site, leading Hoff to believe many statues and marble panels were burned to make slaked lime used in concrete. It also appears that at about the same time, the sturdy floor created by the plaza mosaic was used as the base for a glass-blowing furnace.

The glass furnace dates to the late Roman period, which began in the middle of the fourth century, Hoff said. He is now convinced that the bath and temple and their mosaics date to the late second or early third century.

Only about half the plaza mosaic was excavated in 2012. The archeologists returned to the site this summer to excavate the its west half. Their efforts included clearing out a 50-foot long, marble-lined swimming pool in the center of the plaza. They found two stairways leading into the oval pool, as well as built-in benches along its inner sides.

The team turned its shovels toward a mound just south of the plaza, where toppled columns lay half-buried. Telltale signs in the layout make the archeologists believe the building had been a Roman temple, though that has yet to be confirmed.

“Everything about it is telling us it’s a temple, but we don’t have much in the way of to whom it was dedicated,” he said. “We’re still analyzing the finds. But the architecture suggests heavily that it was a temple.”

While the larger bath plaza mosaic features large patterned areas, the temple mosaic uses smaller tesserae to compose geometric designs, as well as images of fruit and floral images amidst a chain guilloche of interlocking circles. The temple mosaic measures about 600 square feet.

Though both mosaics are “spectacular,” the temple mosaic is definitely different from the much larger plaza mosaic, Hoff said.

“I don’t think they are connected,” he said.

The two mosaics likely were designed by different artists, with wealthy patrons of the region hiring itinerant contractors to construct the buildings for public use.

Conservators followed the archeological team to protect the mosaics from additional damage and to repair damaged areas with special mortar. Though the mosaics eventually will be prepared for public display, they now are covered with a conservation blanket and a thick layer of sand.

The rubble of the bath’s collapsed ceilings will be cleared during a future excavation season. Parts of the stone substructure of the bath’s walls have remained standing, their marble veneer long missing. Local lore was that treasure was buried at the site.

Hoff said the excavations have, indeed, yielded treasures – though perhaps not those anticipated by legend.

Some nice photos accompany the original article. There’s also this nice little video:

For some previous coverage of this dig:

Graecomuse also had a nice post this past June just prior to the digging, chock full of background and bibliography:

Back to Zagora

From the Australian:

BEFORE the first ancient Olympics, as Homer was writing his Iliad, there was a bustling early Iron Age city in Greece. And then it all but disappeared.

Australian archaeologists will try to solve the ancient mystery of why the city was abandoned and whether a lack of fresh water was the cause.

They’re off to Zagora, a city that was thriving with farming and industry on the island of Andros in the 9th century BC before it was inexplicably abandoned.

That was about the time of Homer and before Sparta and the Athenian democracy.

Australia’s first archaeological dig in Greece was at Zagora in the 1960s and 1970s and they managed to excavate about 10 per cent of the 6.5 hectare site but did not solve the riddle.

Now 50 Australians will begin working there again next week, hoping to finally explain why an entire population would leave a city at the heart of a major sea trading route.

Some things haven’t changed.

They’ll have to hike in and out to the isolated site each day and use pack mules to carry heavy equipment.

But some things are different.

Ground penetrating radar, satellite imaging analysis and multi-spectral treatment of those images might help, says one of the dig’s co-directors, Lesley Beaumont from Sydney University’s Department of Archaeology.

“What we are able to do now, which couldn’t even have been dreamed of back then, is to use subsurface testing methods … to look underneath the surface of the ground before even putting a spade into it,” she told AAP.

They are curious about whether hydrology might have something to do with the abandonment of the settlement that had been growing at an extraordinary rate.

“One of the ideas we are investigating is whether there has been an earthquake because the ground rock is layers of schist and marble, and marble can be permeated by water but schist can’t.

“If there was a shifting of the layers because of earthquake the water courses could have been altered and the site that was once able to have water may suddenly run dry.”

With three years of funding they began last year with big picture analysis and geophysical survey with help from a geologist. This year includes satellite imagery work, aerial photography and a full excavation season from September 23 until November 4.

“We have found a lot of metal-working evidence on the site, lots of houses had huge storage capacities so they were clearly farming very widely and storing their goods for surplus against hard times or for trade,” she said.

Another dig co-director, Margaret Miller, says Zagora is similar to Pompeii – a snapshot in time to a period we know close to nothing about.

“Archaeology so often only deals with royalty and the rich. Here we’re learning about ordinary folk, people like us, and how they lived,” Dr Miller said in a statement.

She said the site challenges stereotypes of what a city must be like.

There are no kitchens in houses, industry isn’t confined to one area, a question-mark hangs over religion and the most important aspect of the settlement appears to be the fort wall.

The dig overlooking the Aegean is sponsored by the Australian Archaeological Institute in Athens (AAIA), the University of Sydney and the Australian Research Council. It is also partly funded by private donations.

Next year’s dig will be directed by what they find this year.

We’ll add the Zagora Archaeological Project’s blog to our list …

Roman Theatre from Interamna Lirenas

From a University of Cambridge press release:

The head of a lion and griffin, believed to be part of the decoration of the theatre, as well as stone blocks with steps carved into them, are helping to further revise historical understanding about the site of Interamna Lirenas, founded by the Romans in the late 4th century BCE.

The town, which disappeared following its abandonment around 500 CE, was last year mapped by geophysical analysis and imaging undertaken by a team of researchers led by Cambridge archaeologists Dr Alessandro Launaro and Professor Martin Millett.

The discovery of the theatre remains follows the first-ever test excavation of the site this summer and adds new weight to the team’s theories about Interamna Lirenas’ growth and importance.

Dr Launaro said: “The discovery of the theatre remains is an important breakthrough. It bears witness to the social and economic dynamism of the town in a period when modern scholarship has for long believed it to be stagnating and declining.”

“The dating of the first phase of the building to the second half of the first century BCE prompts a serious reconsideration of the urban development of Interamna Lirenas.”

The forgotten remains of the town, which lies 50 miles south of Rome in the Liri Valley, were revealed using ground penetrating radar (GPR) and magnetometry – which measures changes in the earth’s magnetic field caused by different features beneath the surface.

Work at the site began in 2010 but the latest finds add new depths of understanding to a settlement that was wrongly believed by earlier scholars to have been a sleepy backwater of the Roman Empire for much of the 800 years of its inhabitation from 312 BCE to 500 CE.

Dr Launaro added: “The town plan was virtually unknown until we began work here with colleagues from Italy and the UK. But the presence of the theatre from the first century BCE points towards a major overhaul of the town at that time and is evidence of a thriving community – challenging all previous preconceptions of the town as a dreary and somewhat neglected outpost of the empire.”

Today, the site appears as an uninterrupted series of ploughed farmer’s fields, devoid of any recognisable archaeological feature. Before disappearing beneath the earth, the site is thought to have been scavenged for building materials in the years following its abandonment.

The original geophysical work revealed the location of the town’s theatre, marketplace and other buildings spread across the entire settlement which spans some 25 hectares. Dr Launaro and Professor Millett’s research is part of a project that aims to understand more about what happened in towns established by the Romans in Italy following her conquest. The research is led by the pair in collaboration with the Italian State Archaeological Service (Dr Giovanna Rita Bellini), the Comune of Pignataro Interamna (Mayor Benedetto Evangelista), the British School at Rome and the Archaeological Prospection Services of Southampton University.

Dr Launaro said: “Interamna Lirenas is an enticing case study because, in spite of its size, it was not re-occupied at the end of the Roman period, meaning that it retained much of its original shape and features.”

Researchers knew a town existed on the site but did not excavate it in the past as it was thought that all such settlements followed the same template.

Following the discovery of the theatre, the Cambridge team carried out a test excavation of the building to gather information about the nature of the structures, their chronology and level of preservation.

However, the team’s work is not just confined to the town itself, but also its hinterland. Here an intensive archaeological survey, carried out over the last three years, has recovered a varied archaeological evidence pertaining to settlement patterns (e.g. farms, villages, villas) over the period 350 BCE to 550 CE.

Remarkably, site numbers seem to peak precisely between 50 BCE to 250 CE, the outcome of a gradual growth which had originated with the foundation of Interamna Lirenas in the closing years of the fourth century BCE. More importantly, a preliminary comparison of the archaeological finds such as pottery recovered during the rural survey has shown a close overlap, suggesting a symbiotic exchange between town and hinterland as they grew together.

“The integrated approach is making it possible to fully appreciate the significance of transformations taking place within a Roman town by casting them against a wider horizon,” said Dr Launaro. “This and other issues will be explored by us in the coming years as we excavate new areas with geophysical prospection and archaeological surveys across the countryside.”

As mentioned above, they mapped the site a year ago: Mapping Interamna Lirenas

Intact (possibly Royal) Etruscan Tomb from Tarquinia

Extremely interesting item from Discovery News (and Rossella Lorenzi has provided better coverage than the Italian press!) … some excerpts:

The skeletonized body of an Etruscan prince, possibly a relative to Tarquinius Priscus, the legendary fifth king of Rome from 616 to 579 B.C., has been brought to light in an extraordinary finding that promises to reveal new insights on one of the ancient world’s most fascinating cultures.

Found in Tarquinia, a hill town about 50 miles northwest of Rome, famous for its Etruscan art treasures, the 2,600 year old intact burial site came complete with a full array of precious grave goods.

“It’s a unique discovery, as it is extremely rare to find an inviolate Etruscan tomb of an upper-class individual. It opens up huge study opportunities on the Etruscans,” Alessandro Mandolesi, of the University of Turin, told Discovery News. Mandolesi is leading the excavation in collaboration with the Archaeological Superintendency of Southern Etruria. [...]

Blocked by a perfectly sealed stone slab, the rock-cut tomb in Tarquinia appeared promising even before opening it.

Indeed, several objects, including jars, vases and even a grater, were found in the soil in front of the stone door, indicating that a funeral rite of an important person took place there.

As the heavy stone slab was removed, Mandolesi and his team were left breathless. In the small vaulted chamber, the complete skeleton of an individual was resting on a stone bed on the left. A spear lay along the body, while fibulae, or brooches, on the chest indicated that the individual, a man, was probably once dressed with a mantle.

At his feet stood a large bronze basin and a dish with food remains, while the stone table on the right might have contained the incinerated remains of another individual.

Decorated with a red strip, the upper part of the wall featured, along with several nails, a small hanging vase, which might have contained some ointment. A number of grave goods, which included large Greek Corinthian vases and precious ornaments, lay on the floor. [...]

Although intact, the tomb has suffered a small natural structural collapse, the effects of which are visible in some broken vases.

Mandolesi and his team believe the individual was a member of Tarquinia’s ruling family.

The underground chamber was found beside an imposing mound, the Queen Tomb, which is almost identical to an equally impressive mound, the King’s Tomb, 600 feet away.

About 130 feet in diameter, the Queen’s Tomb is the largest among the more than 6,000 rock cut tombs (200 of them are painted) that make up the necropolis in Tarquinia. Mandolesi has been excavating it and its surrounding area for the past six years.

Both mounds date to the 7th century B.C., the Orientalizing period, so called due to the influence on the Etruscans from the Eastern Mediterranean. [...]

Indeed, the two imposing mounds would have certainly remarked the power of the princes of Tarquinia to anybody arriving from the sea.

According to Mandolesi, the fact that the newly discovered burial lies a few feet away from the Queen’s Tomb indicate that it belonged to one of the princes of Tarquinia, someone directly related to the owners of the Queen’s Tomb.

“The entire area would have been off limits to anybody but the royal family,” Mandolesi said.

“In the next days we are going to catalogue all the objects. Further scientific tests will tell us more about the individual and the tomb,” Mandolesi said.

Discovery News will follow the archaeologists live as they remove the goods from the burial chamber.

The original article includes some video coverage and several photos …

If you want some of the Italian press:

Sacred Well from Portsmouth

From the News comes another tale of clumsy archaeologists:

Buried a few feet under a garden in the centre of Havant, archaeologists stumbled upon a Roman well filled with coins and a bronze ring with a carving of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea.

Perhaps most intriguing was the discovery of eight dog skeletons at the bottom of the well.

Experts believe the dogs, which were worshipped in some ancient religions, may have been dropped down the ‘sacred well’ as a sacrifice to the gods.

The excavation was done at Homewell House, a Georgian property behind St Faith’s Church that is undergoing renovation.

Dr Andy Russel, from Southampton Archaeology Unit, told The News: ‘I would say it’s a pretty amazing find.

‘We have done a few sites in Havant before and found Roman bits and pieces but nothing on this scale of a beautifully constructed well with coins, a ring and this strange deposit of dogs in it.

‘I’ve never come across a deposit of dogs down a Roman pit or well before – it’s intriguing.’

The well, dated at between 250 and 280AD, is made of stone from the Isle of Wight.

Dr Russel added: ‘We have found post holes where people have put up buildings in the posts. There’s no sign of stone buildings. This is not a Fishbourne Roman Palace. Wooden buildings probably made up the settlement.’

The dogs showed wounds that had healed, indicating they may have been used for dog fighting.

Archaeologists believe the ring may have been dropped down the well by a Roman sailor, perhaps praying for safe passage home on the stormy seas.

The original article includes a photo of the ring, and it seems kind of iffy to me that it is Neptune (as opposed to some guy with a stick). As for the dogs, Jacopo De Grossi Mazzorin and Claudia Minniti, “Dog Sacrifice in the Ancient World: A Ritual Passage?” have collected some earlier evidence which suggests their presence might have been some sort of expiatory thing associated with the closing of the well (paper at academia.edu)

Possible Praetorium from Balaklava

Interesting item from PAP:

Praetorium, Roman garrison commander’s property, has been discovered by found Polish archaeologists working in the Crimea, told PAP Dr. Radosław Karasiewicz-Szczypiorski of the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw, head of excavations in Balaklava, Ukraine.

Until now, researchers have speculated that this house was located at the citadel in nearby Chersonesus.

Archaeologists studied the building of unknown purpose in previous seasons. This year’s work allowed for its full exploration.

“At first we thought that we were digging up the common barracks or quarters of one of the officers – centurions. However, the structure turned out to be more extensive than we thought. We uncovered a large house with rooms surrounding a stone-paved courtyard from three sides. Analogies with similar Roman forts indicate that the house belonged to the garrison commander” – said Dr. Karasiewicz-Szczypiorski.

The commander of the garrison was a high-ranking officer (tribune), who probably only visited outposts, and had permanent quarters on the Lower Danube.

Best preserved was the last construction phase of the building, dating back to the turn of the second and third century and the first decades of the third century.

“Discovery of the praetorium in Balaklava suggests that, at least in the beginning of the third century, the quarters of the Roman army commander in Tauris (the ancient name of Crimea – ed. PAP) was the fort in Balaklava, and not, as previously thought in the nearby Chersonesus citadel” – said Dr. Karasiewicz-Szczypiorski .

Warsaw archaeologists first visited Balaklava in the 1990s. The excavations are carried out jointly with the staff of the local museum ” Chersonesus Taurica” in Sevastopol. The result of these studies include the discovery of the temple of Jupiter Dolichenus. The current project was carried out for three seasons with the funds from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

The relevant scholarly paper seems to be at http://www.archeo.uw.edu.pl/zalaczniki/upload1187.pdf

Roman (?) Finds from Alexandria

Extremely vague item from Egypt Independent:

Alexandria’s antiquities department has discovered a new archaeological monument in the eastern area of the city.

Archaeologists revealed several items, including cisterns, pottery remains, and a headstone. The items were transferred to Alexandria National Museum. All items belong to the Roman era.

Mostafa Rushdy, head of Alexandria and Beheira antiquities department, said the discovery was found during an archaeological field survey to get permission for building there.

Rushy added that the discovery reflects the greatness of Alexandria, which was the second biggest city after Rome during the Roman Empire.

The item is accompanied by a photo which looks like a burial of some sort with pots that may or may not be Roman. The article itself is a translation from MENA, but I can’t track down the original source, alas …

Mycenean Palace found Near Sparta

From Greek Reporter:

A new excavation in the Xirokambi area of Aghios Vassilios west of Sparta, in the Peloponnese, Greece, has revealed a richness of Mycenean artefacts in the area, including the remains of a palace, Linear B tablets, fragments of wall paintings, and several bronze swords.
The excavation, led by emeritus ephor of antiquities Adamantia Vassilogrambrou, was presented publicly at the biennial Shanghai Archaeology Forum at the end of August as one of 11 sites showcased from different parts of the world.

The Aghios Vassilios excavation began in 2010, after Linear B tablets were found in the area in 2008, pointing to the existence of a powerful central authority and distribution system. The deciphered texts were devoted to perfume and cloth production, the trade of which was controlled by a palace administration in the Mycenean era.

Evidence of a central palace administration was confirmed also by the architecture, which is dated to the 14th century BC, while contact with Crete was confirmed by the finding of a double axe, a feature of the island’s palace culture.

Artefacts found include seals, a multitude of ceramic and bronze vessels, and 21 bronze swords. According to the evidence, a sudden fire that broke out either at the end of the 14th century or the beginning of the 13th destroyed the three buildings on the site which were never rebuilt at the same location.

All the press coverage seems to have the same overhead shot of foundations … ANAMPA has a photo, however, of what is presumably a cup from the site (Mycenean palace and Linear B tablets discovered in Sparta area)

Intact Roman Sarcophagus from Alba Julia

From Agerpres:

A more than 1,800-year old sealed sarcophagus was discovered by archaeologists in Alba Iulia (394 km north-west of Bucharest) at the site where the city’s water treatment plant will be built.

Spokesperson for the Alba Iulia National Museum of the Union Liviu Zgarciu said that “this is the only intact sarcophagus discovered in the area, since most of them were broken by treasure hunters.”

The sarcophagus was unsealed and a man’s skeleton was found inside. The archaeologists will research to see if it also contains a funerary inventory.

Works on the archaeological site kicked off half a year ago, and two marble sarcophagi dating from the second or third centuries, the only of the kind found on the territory of former Roman Dacia, were very soon uncovered. Another eight sarcophagi were found near the one sealed with lime mortar, but they had all been robbed.

“The site is one of Alba Iulia’s most important in recent years, both by the constructions uncovered: structures, walls, buildings, and by the large amount of tiny pieces found, their numbers running into the hundreds, which will enter the heritage of the National Museum of the Union,” said archaeologist George Bounegru.

The findings date mainly from the third century.

Two necropolises were so far discovered in the former city of Apulum; the one at the site of the treatment plant suggests this is where the cemetery of the Aurelia Apulensis colony might have been.

The Roman fortress of Apulum was the largest city in Roman Dacia; its construction started under Emperor Hadrian, probably in 125 AD. For over one century without interruption Apulum served as headquarters for Legion XIII Gemina.

The article includes a strange sort of photo … there’s a better one here: Intact 1,800-year old Roman sarcophagus uncovered at Alba Iulia but it’s still not close enough to see any details (if any) that might be carved into the sarcophagus.

Major Bust/Discovery at Lanuvio

From the Gazzetta del Sud:

Police have foiled ‘tomb raiders’ looting an ancient Roman archaeological site near the capital that was previously unknown to the Italian authorities, investigators said on Wednesday. The site is located near the ruins of a temple devoted to Juno ”The Saviour” at Lanuvio, in the Castelli Romani (Castles of Rome) – a cluster of towns southeast of Rome. Investigators saved five marble elements from works of architecture, coins, the ruins of a number of buildings, and over 24,000 terracotta fragments attributable to the late Republican and imperial period. Investigators also found tools presumably being used for archeological theft, including metal detectors, two-way radios. The authorities commandeered 17,000 sq meters of farmland where the ruins of monumental walls were brought to light by the illegal excavation. Lazio regional authorities said the site and artifacts recovered were of great scientific interest due to the size of the discovery, the state of its preservation and the location, near an important Roman temple. Investigators noted that in recent months, 500 cultural works have been seized and five people charged in unrelated operations to protect Italy’s heritage.

The coverage in La Reppubblica downplays the theft side of things and seems to emphasize that this is a major new site … it also include a video of some of the items there: Lanuvio, scoperto sito archeologico La Finanza sventa il saccheggio

Spy Photos Reveal Roman Wall in Romania

Another genuinely interesting one … this version from the Ayreshire Post:

Declassified spy photographs have helped archaeologists uncover the lost history of a Roman wall dating from the second century AD.

Archaeologists studying images gathered during covert intelligence operations in the last century have identified a wall that ran around 37 miles from the Danube to the Black Sea over what is now Romania.

Built in the mid-second century, the barrier once stood 28ft wide and around 11.5ft high and included at least 32 forts and 31 smaller buildings along its course.

It is thought to have served a similar purpose to other Roman frontiers such as Hadrian’s Wall, built to defend the Roman Empire from threats to the borders.

Known locally as Trajan’s Rampart, it consists of three separate walls which were wrongly dated to the Byzantine or early medieval period.

The research was carried out by archaeologists at the universities of Glasgow and Exeter who believe that studying declassified photographs taken during covert surveillance may help uncover and identify thousands of archaeological sites around the world.

It is estimated that around 50% of all archaeological sites in the UK have been discovered from the air, but other countries are less well studied.

Tens of millions of images of Europe and the Middle East were taken by Allied and German air forces during the First and Second World Wars and are now held in public archives.

The recently declassified covert US Corona satellite intelligence programme of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s includes around 900,000 photographs from around the world.

The images are particularly valuable to modern archaeologists as they show landscape as it was before the industrialisation, intensive farming practices and urban development of the 20th century.

Bill Hanson, professor of Roman archaeology at Glasgow University, said: “We believe we have enough evidence here to demonstrate the existence of a chronologically complex Roman frontier system, and the most easterly example of a man-made barrier in the Roman Empire, serving to block an important and strategically valuable route-way.

“It is an incredibly important discovery for the study of Roman history.”

Ioana Oltean, a senior lecturer in archaeology at Exeter University, said: “Photographs from military surveillance are revealing more than those who took them could have imagined because now, half a century or more later, they are proving to be of enormous benefit in showing us our lost archaeological heritage.

“Thanks to such images, the landscape of this frontier zone is now known to have been as busy in the past as it is today. We hope that this discovery will provide stimulus for further examination of many more neglected frontiers.”

Wow … just wow.

House of Mosaics in Tripolis

From Hurriyet:

Archaeologists working on the ancient city of Tripolis in the Aegean province of Denizli have uncovered a 1,600-year-old house complete with a rich set of mosaics.

“When we removed the earth, we saw that the structures underground had survived. They are in very good condition. We have found the agora and a columned gallery as well as stores. Unexpectedly, we found a house covered with mosaics. The house is fully covered with mosaics, and they were very well-protected. There is little damage to the mosaics,” Denizli Gov. Abdülkadir Demir recently told Anadolu Agency.

Five of Denizli’s 19 ancient cities are in a flat area of the province, including Tripolis, he said, adding that excavations had been continuing in the ancient city for 15 years.

“More than 50 percent of the excavations and restorations have been finished in the agora. The works will be finished by the end of the year and the closed bazaar area in the agora will be opened to tourism,” the governor said.

Different from others

Tripoli was different from other ancient cities in that historic structures had been buried, thereby protecting them from the elements over the intervening centuries.

The head of the Tripolis excavations, Pamukkale University Professor Bahadır Duman, said they were currently working on the agora.

“The house has seven or eight rooms, and its floor is covered with colorful mosaics with herbal and geometric designs. This is why we think that a wealthy family of Tripolis was living in this house. Although it was constructed in the fourth century A.D., the house was also used in the fifth century A.D. People living in this house were not ordinary people; they were very influential,” Duman said.

Archaeologists, however, have determined that human settlement in the area dates back to the third century B.C.

The archaeological excavations have been carried out for two years by Pamukkale University in Tripolis, which was located at the junction point of Phrygia, Karia and Lydia in the Hellenistic period. The city was surrounded with walls in the early Roman period.

In last year’s excavations, geo-radar work revealed a marketplace in good condition. One of the most important findings in 2013 was a church from the early Byzantine period in the sixth century. The soil in the church has been removed, and its roof will be covered with a wooden material as per the original before being opened to visitors

No photos of the mosaics there, alas, but I did track down a video, which works most of the time:

Roman Amphitheatre from Hatay

From Hurriyet:

Researchers and local officials are hailing the discovery of a Roman-era amphitheater in the southern province of Hatay’s Erzin district, noting that the finding could help transform the area into a center of tourism.

“There is an Ephesus-style ancient city here. It will be revealed and this place will become a center of tourism,” said Erzin District Gov. İskender Yönden. “We plan to turn this area into an open-air museum.”
The Roman amphitheater was found during works carried out on a hill. So far, researchers have revealed the facility’s seats, while work is ongoing to unearth the theater stage.

“When the works are done, the district will become a museum area,” Yönden said, adding that the ancient city located along the Erzin-Dörtyol highway was being gradually unearthed. “We already knew about the existence of an amphitheater here and now we are beginning to see it.” Yönden said the excavation area was located at the site of a great battle between Alexander the Great and Persian King Darius.

A somewhat puzzling photo accompanies the original article … Archaeology in Hatay is somewhat confusing to me as I can never be sure where, specifically, they find things. A couple years ago, e.g., they found a huge mosaic in the province (Huge Mosaic Found in Turkey) at a to-be hotel construction site and now we read of this amphitheatre. Is it in the same area?

Still Waiting for that Kizilburun Column to be Delivered …

Interesting item from Hurriyet which is an update of sorts:

 

A 10-meter column, which was ordered 2,200 years ago for the construction of a temple in one of the three most important oracle centers in antiquity, Klaros, but went down when the cargo ship sank in Çeşme Kızılburun, will finally be delivered to its address. The column was discovered in 1993 by researcher and writer Cemal Pulak, and removed in 2007 by six archaeologists under the coordination of the U.S-based Underwater Archaeology Institute. Research revealed that the column was carried for the Apollo Temple in Klaros, in İzmir’s Menderes district.

The head of the excavations in the ancient center, Professor Nurdan Şahin, said that a team from the Texas A&M University had carried out works to determine the place of the column and found out that it was the sixth column of the Apollo Temple in Klaros Oracle Center.

“For the first time in the world, the address of a sunken ship was found. Following the cleaning process, the plan was to display the column in Çeşme Museum but we said that it would be more truthful to display it in its original place, Klaros,” she said.

We first heard about this column back in 2009: Kizilburun Shipwreck

Frigidarium from Bourgas

From the Sofia Globe:

Archaeological digs carried out this summer on the site of the Roman-era public baths in the Bulgarian city of Bourgas have found the first frigidarium – a cold-water pool – that was part of the the Aqua Calidae baths.

The digs are part of a conservation and restoration project by the Bourgas municipality, meant to turn the Aqua Calidae – Thermopolis site, which housed public baths during the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras, into a tourist attraction, the city hall said.

Found at a depth of about 4.6 metres underground, it has a length of 6.8 metres and is 6.4 metres wide. It had a brick floor that in some place did not stand the test of time and architectural features that have led archaeologists to believe that it was built in the second century CE, when the first public baths were built on the site by Roman authorities.

A frigidarium was the last pool that bathers would enter in the Roman baths (after the tepidarium and caldarium) and its temperature was kept cold to close skin pores.

The frigidarium in the Aqua Calidae was in the eastern part of the baths, which has been the focus of this summer’s digs under the supervision of professor Dimcho Momchilov, with archaeologists from the Bourgas and Yambol history museums joined by students from four Bulgarian universities.

The most significant finds of the season were 18 wooden combs, which appeared to have been preserved by the water in which they were found. The dig team believes that the combs date to the early medieval era, but required further study, given that construction of the Ottoman-era baths in the 16th century and the modern baths at the start of the 20th century caused some displacement.

Other finds included about 50 coins from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras, a golden ear-ring and a silver medallion, as well as other well-preserved wooden items.

A photo accompanies the original article. Bourgas (Dueltum) is a very well-covered site in the Bulgarian press and, of course, at rogueclassicism … here’s a smattering of our coverage (the search facility seems to be mixing things up a bit today):

On the Possible Origins of Rome’s “Architectural Hubris” at Gabii

Excerpt from an item in the New York Times:

[...] Any definitive insight into the formative stages of Roman architectural hubris lies irretrievable beneath layers of the city’s repeated renovations through the time of caesars, popes and the Renaissance. The most imposing ruin of the early Roman imperial period is the Colosseum, erected in the first century A.D.

Now, at excavations 11 miles east of Rome’s city center, archaeologists think they are catching a glimpse of Roman tastes in monumental architecture much earlier than previously thought, about 300 years before the Colosseum. They have uncovered ruins of a vast complex of stone walls and terraces connected by a grand stairway and surrounded by many rooms, a showcase of wealth and power spread over an area more than half the size of a football field. They say this was most likely the remains of a public building in the heyday of the city-state Gabii, or possibly an exceptionally lavish private residence.

The discovery was made last summer by a team of archaeologists and students led by Nicola Terrenato, a professor of classical studies at the University of Michigan and a native of Rome. At the end of this summer’s dig season, Dr. Terrenato said last week in a telephone interview from Rome, about two-thirds of the complex had been exposed and studied to “tell us more about how the Romans were building at that formative stage” — between 350 B.C. and 250 B.C.

Dr. Terrenato noted that the findings appeared to contradict the image of early Roman culture, perpetuated by notables like Cato the Elder and Cicero, “as being very modest and inconspicuous.” It was said that this did not change until soldiers returned from the conquest of Greece in the second century B.C., their heads having been turned by Greek refinements and luxuries.

“Now we see the Romans were already thinking big,” he said.

The Gabii dig site is a gift to archaeologists. Not only was the city close to Rome, with many ties, but most of its ruins were buried and never built over after the city’s decline in the second and third centuries A.D. The building complex is on undeveloped land in modern-day Lazio.

At the time, Rome had surpassed Gabii in size, but some historians think the neighboring city could have exerted an influence on the Romans. Previous excavations by the Michigan group, beginning in 2007, had uncovered a significant part of the city, including private houses, wealthy burials, city walls and a temple. Of possibly more importance, Dr. Terrenato suggested, the recent research shows that people were practicing some degree of urban planning at Gabii.

Scholars of ancient history and other archaeologists were either unfamiliar with the Gabii findings or cautious in their comments. Richard J. A. Talbert, a historian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and scholar of ancient geography in the Mediterranean world, visited the Gabii excavations last year. Dr. Talbert noted that in later Roman tradition, Gabii was seen as “a source of ideas and culture.” But he added, “We really don’t have enough evidence yet to say how influential Gabii was on Rome in these early periods.”

Christopher Ratté, the director of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at Michigan, said the excavation was part of a concentrated examination of the social environment in central Italy before the rise of Rome as a world power. “It has been quite a surprise,” he said, “to find that it was still possible to break new ground like this in a region that has been so well researched.”

The Gabii Project, supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and in collaboration with the Italian Archaeological Service, had explored and mapped the more than 170 acres of the ancient city, which was built on the slopes of an extinct volcano where the crater had become a lake. Then the archaeologists encountered the elaborate building complex. Dr. Terrenato said he was immediately struck by the size of the stone blocks in the retaining wall on the slope inside the complex. Each one weighed thousands of pounds.

“This was like Lego construction,” he said. “They were stacked one on top of each other without any glue binding them together. This is the only technique they had access to, and it must have been the desire for this kind of grand construction that drove them to the invention of mortar about 125 years later.”

The researchers also admired some of the architectural details: rows of stone pillars, courtyards and terraces covered in mosaic tiles in geometric patterns, a 21-step staircase cut into bedrock. They said this showed that the people were beginning to experiment with modifying their natural environments — cutting back the natural slope and creating a retaining wall.

“All this only whetted our appetites,” Dr. Terrenato said as he looked ahead to next summer’s continued excavations and a hoped-for extension of the project beyond 2014.

The The Gabii Project does have a website with some interesting stuff to augment this report (see esp. Fieldwork at Gabii: 2007-present). There’s far more to be found, though, at the Lapis Gabinus dig blog, which is possibly the best dig blog I’ve come across … weekly updates (the current season just ended) and plenty of photos. Definitely worth spending some time at …

Also worth a look is UMichigan’s press release which spawned the NYT piece:

Hadrian’s Tunnels at Tivoli

This item from the Guardian is genuinely interesting … here’s the first bit:

Amateur cavers have mapped a vast network of tunnels underneath Hadrian’s Villa outside Rome, leading archaeologists to radically revise their views of one of ancient Rome’s most imposing imperial retreats.

Lowering themselves through light shafts found in fields around the 120-hectare (296-acre) site, local speleologists have charted more than a mile of road tunnels – passages where, in the second century, oxen pulled carts loaded with luxury foods for banquets and thousands of slaves scurried from palace to palace, well out of sight of the emperor.

“These tunnels lead us to understand that Hadrian’s Villa was organised less like a villa and more like a city,” said Benedetta Adembri, the director of the site, who is planning, in the autumn, to open stretches of the tunnels to the public for the first time.

Never an emperor to do things by half – his idea of homeland security was to build a wall across the top of England – Hadrian built his country hideaway near modern-day Tivoli to escape the noise and crowds of Rome, but managed to take half the city with him.

Archaeologists have identified 30 buildings, including palaces, thermal baths, a theatre and libraries, as well as gardens and dozens of fountains.

“We think the villa covered up to 250 hectares but we still don’t know the limits,” said Abembri.

Abandoned after the fall of the Roman empire, the villa was taken apart piece by piece over the centuries, with one local cardinal stripping off marble to build his own villa nearby in the 16th century, leaving weed infested ruins.

That is where an Italian association of archaeo-speleologists, equipped with ropes, and remote-controlled camera mounted vehicles, has entered the fray, exploring the pristine tunnels under the site, as well as the nine miles of sewers and water pipes hooked up to the local aqueducts.

“What we are exploring is, to a certain extent, the real villa, because the tunnels will show us where the confines of the property really are,” said Marco Placidi, an amateur caver, who has led the search.

Although experts have long known that tunnels snaked under the property, Placidi’s team was the first to drop through light shafts to wander through them. They have mapped a main tunnel, 2.40 metres (7ft) wide, which runs more than half a mile to a circular spur, about 700 metres long which could been used to turn one-way carts.

A sea shell from the Red Sea, possibly used as decoration in the villa, is among the discoveries form the site.

Most importantly, the cavers stumbled upon the entrance to an uncharted tunnel, double the width, at five metres, that could accommodate two-way traffic. It is presently packed with soil almost to the roof.

“We have tried to squeeze in on our stomachs but we still don’t know where it goes and it could lead to buildings we know nothing about,” said Vittoria Fresi, an archaeologist who has worked with Placidi. [...]

The Telegraph coverage adds an interesting detail:

The newly-discovered underground passageway has been dubbed by archaeologists the Great Underground Road — in Italian the Strada Carrabile.

… and here’s the Il Messaggero coverage in case you want to read more from archaeologists:

This past November we heard about a Mithraeum among the tunnels beneath the baths of Caracalla (Mithraeum Reopening to the Public)

Another ‘Mass Grave’ from Pisidian Antioch

From Hurriyet:

Excavations that have been continuing for four years in the ancient city of Pisidia Antiocheia in the southern province of Isparta’s Yalvaç district have revealed a second well containing the remains of six people.

Last month, the excavation discovered a mass grave of five people in a well on the ancient city’s Cardo Maximus Street.

Along with the six human bodies, a pig jaw was also found in the well-shaped hole inside a Roman villa with a pool in its garden.

Süleyman Demirel University Archaeology Department head Mehmet Özhanlı said they were very surprised that they had found two mass graves in one excavation season. “While our works have been continuing on the western side of Cardo Maximus Street, we found five skeletons in a well in a structure. This time we found a well-shaped structure in a Roman house. There were six human skulls and a pig jaw. We have determined that the murdered people were randomly thrown into the well,” Özhanlı said.

I’m not sure whether the previous month’s find made it to the English press … there is a Turkist report at Antik kentte cinayet izi (Milliyet). Back in January, the head of the excavations was hyping the town planning at the site: Town Planning at Pisidian Antioch.

That Roman Ship With Intact Cargo? Yeah … About That …

There is a story kicking around right now about a shipwreck find near Genoa and my mind has been boggling to see it develop. So right now, pre-coffee, and seeing it in gaining ‘strength’, I’m basically at this point:

Okay, so here’s how it developed this past weekend.  For purposes of review, this seems to have begun with a brief UPI article, which was much-passed-around on the internet via twitter etc.:

An intact Roman ship from the second century B.C. has been discovered off the coast of Genoa in Italy, archaeologists say.

The vessel, which contains hundreds of valuable amphorae — earthenware vessels traditionally used to transport wine — was spotted by police divers roughly one mile from the shore of Alassio in 160 feet of water, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported Friday.

Police said they have been tipped off to the whereabouts of the ship during a year-long investigation into stolen archaeological artifacts sold on the black market in northern Italy.

“This is an exceptional find,” Colonel Francesco Schilardi, who led the police dive team, said. “Now our goal is to preserve the ship and keep thieves out. We are executing surveys and excavations to study the contents of the boat which is perfectly intact.”

Encased in layers of mud, the find promises to yield clues to Rome’s trade activity between the Italian peninsula and other areas in the Mediterranean, experts said.

The ship is thought to have travelled on trade routes between Spain and what is now central Italy and was loaded with more than 200 clay amphorae likely to have contained fish, wine, oil and grain.

… so the source seems to be ANSA, and here’s their report, just for comparison purposes:

An intact Roman ship from the second century BCE has been discovered off the coast of Genoa. The vessel, which contains roughly 50 valuable amphorae, was spotted by police divers roughly one mile from the shore of Alassio, 50 meters underwater. Police were tipped off to the whereabouts of the boat during a yearlong investigation into purloined artefacts sold on the black market in northern Italy. “This is an exceptional find,” said Colonel Francesco Schilardi. “Now our goal is to preserve the ship and keep thieves out. We are executing surveys and excavations to study the contents of the boat which is perfectly intact”. The culture ministry said the ship should prove vital in shedding light on Rome’s trade activity between the Italian peninsula, France and Spain.

Now here’s where it gets weird/frustrating … one of the phenomena of the news side of the internet is that search engines often ‘rediscover’ articles which have the same day and month date, but a different year. Interestingly/coincidentally/suspiciously enough … a year ago, the Age had an article which happened to pop up last week. I should note that, a year ago,  I didn’t deal with this directly at rogueclassicism per se, but did include it in my explorator newsletter. In any event, this is what the Age had on August 8, 2012:

FOR 2000 years the ancient and decomposing hulk lay buried in deep, muddy waters, off the Italian coast.

Everybody knew it was down there because for more than 80 years local fishermen had been collecting bits of Roman artefacts and pots in their nets.

Finds of this nature are not unusual in Italian waters, which are littered with treasures going back thousands of years.

But these artefacts told a different story, and it was good enough to attract the interest of the archaeological community and a police commander who heads an expert diving squad in the city of Genoa.

Lieutenant-Colonel Francesco Schilardi, the commanding officer of the police team that found the wreck, has been referred to as the ”Top Gun” of the oceans because of the secrets he and his team unravel by locating and recovering wrecks and long-lost treasures.

This time the team, including state archaeologists and historians, were so sure that the ocean, close to the town of Varazze, Liguria, was hiding something special that they went to a little more expense to find out what was down there. They used a submarine, a robot and sophisticated mapping and tracking equipment, along with the results of extensive historical studies of the area.

The efforts paid off, with a find described as ”one of the most important” of its kind.

They uncovered a 2000-year-old Roman vessel buried 70-100 metres deep and encased in layers of mud that promises to reveal secrets about the way of life in the 1st century AD, not only in Rome but in other regions that traded with the empire.

The discovery of the food transport vessel, with an estimated 200 clay amphorae on board – and with caps of pine and pitch intact – sent ripples of excitement through archaeological communities partly because the ship and its contents are remarkably well preserved.

”It is a relic of great value,” Lieutenant-Colonel Schilardi, told Italian newspaper La Repubblica. It goes back, he said, to the Roman republican and imperial age, when Rome traded with the Mediterranean countries, primarily Spain, and when the Ligurian Sea and the nerve centre, or the crossroads of Roman marketing and trade at the time.

The sea lanes in the area were used by the Romans to export food including honey, spices and wine from the late Roman Republican era to the beginning of the Augustan Age.

Lieutenant-Colonel Schilardi was also quoted in the Italian press saying the fact the containers were so well preserved might help to reveal important information about diet at the time and perhaps add to cultural and commercial profiles of the period. The fact the wreck was found at such depth, and encased in a bed of sandy mud that is typical of the area, helped ensure the vessel remained in a good state of preservation, he said.

Authorities have sealed off the area to prevent treasure hunters from plundering the site and the attention of the experts has turned to getting finance and state support to recover the wreck and its contents.

Meanwhile the search continues, with archaeologists excited by sonar readings that indicate the sand covering the vessel that may well contain further treasures.

… The discovery did get wide coverage, and what I did post at rogueclassicism was a list of the links: In Explorator 15.17

As you can see, the finds seem to be remarkably similar, differing primarily in the name of the town they are supposedly close to (Alassio v Verraze). But the UPI piece is talking about two hundred amphorae while the source ANSA piece mentions “50 valuable amphorae”, so maybe they’re different finds? Interestingly, though, the piece from the Age also mentions 200 amphorae.

Now just to further add to the confusion, the usually-reliable Live Science comes out with a piece which appears to be a mashup of the coverage from a year ago and the most recent … here’s the incipit:

For fans of Italian cuisine, the news of a well-preserved ancient Roman shipwreck — whose cargo of food might still be intact — will surely whet their appetites.

The ship is believed to be about 2,000 years old and is buried in the mud off the coast of Varazze, Italy, according to The Age. The mud kept the wreck hidden for centuries, but also helped to preserve it and its cargo, held in clay jars known as amphorae.

“There are some broken jars around the wreck, but we believe that most of the amphorae inside the ship are still sealed and food-filled,” Lt. Col. Francesco Schilardi, commander of the police diving team that found the shipwreck, told the BBC. [Photos: Shipwreck Alley's Sunken Treasures]

Local fishermen suspected there might be a wreck in the area, because pieces of pottery kept turning up in their nets. Police divers used a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to locate the shipwreck about 160 feet (50 meters) underwater.

“This is an exceptional find,” Schilardi said. “Now, our goal is to preserve the ship and keep thieves out. We are executing surveys and excavations to study the contents of the boat, which is perfectly intact.”

Using sophisticated technologies like ROVs, sonar mapping equipment and genetic analysis, marine archaeologists have had considerable success in recent years in recovering well-preserved artifacts from shipwrecks. [...]

… the article includes links, so you might want to check them out, but the editor is either unaware or doesn’t care that he’s linking to coverage from a year ago!

Whatever the case, I’d really like some clarification whether this is a new find or not or whether this is a followup investigation of some sort. More likely, it seems to me, some editor saw the same Age piece pop up in their daily search, didn’t check the date, and ran with it …