Citanda: When Roman Statues Play Pranks

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Souren Melikian writes in the New York Times on the unbelievable prices reached by a couple of antiquities with interesting stories at Sotheby’s latest (including that Serpents and Satyrs piece we pondered for a while):

Digging Idalion

A press release from Cyprus’ Press and Information Office:

The Ministry of Communications and Works (Department of Antiquities) announces the completion of the twentieth excavation season of the Department of Antiquities’ systematic excavations at the site of ancient Idalion. Excavations at the site began in 1991 and continue until today under the direction of the Director of the Department of Antiquities Dr. Maria Hadjicosti who is assisted by Senior Technicians S. Lagos and K. Kapitanis. Five young archaeologists from Greek Universities and the University of Cyprus also took part in the excavation this year.

Throughout the twenty-year investigations a total area of two thousand square meters has been investigated on the foothills of Ampileri hill, which was the west acropolis of ancient Idalion.

In this area, a large-scale fortified building complex has been excavated, which could be interpreted as the Palace of ancient Idalion or its Administrative Center. This building complex contains a triple olive-press (unique in its kind throughout the eastern Mediterranean), roads that lead to the complexes’ courtyards from the external gate, towers and impressive storage buildings, houses and military installations.

The Idalion fort is considered to be the largest palace or administrative center identified so far in Cyprus. It is strictly defensive in character with interior towers that control the interior streets and the large rectangular courtyards. Wings with two-storey rooms surrounded the courtyards. The ground floor rooms had storage areas were large storage vessels (pithoi) were kept for the storage of wine and olive oil, the area’s main products. Inscriptions that record tax collecting in kind from the ancient city’s inhabitants have been found in many of these storage rooms.

The abovementioned inscriptions (more than three hundred have so far been found) are part of the Phoenician Archive and indicate the methods used for the collection of taxes by the Phoenicians, who governed the ancient city of Idalion for 150 years, from the middle of the 5th century until the end of the 4th century B.C. The inscriptions are written in ink on marble slabs and pottery sherds.

During this year’s excavations, the investigations extended higher up the hill, where two new building complexes were discovered. These complexes are attached to the eastern and western side of a large interior tower. The complex situated to the east of the tower constitutes the south wing of the storage rooms’ large courtyard. The rooms’ walls survive to a maximum height of three meters. Inside the rooms, pithoi were found as well as other large vessels, inscriptions and pieces of a bronze shield along with other metal weapons that had fallen from the second floor when it collapsed. The second building complex was found to the west of the large tower and it is also comprised of six rooms which are linked up to each other and that also communicate with the two large roads to the north and the west. The complex may have been used by the soldiers who guarded the tower.

With the completion of this year’s investigations, the archaeological site has extended to such an extent that it is now ready to be open to the public. The necessary plans are being prepared in cooperation with the Municipality of Idalion. The archaeological site will thus be joined with the Local Museum of ancient Idalion, which opened to the public in 2008. The footpath that links the museum to the site as well as the parking space near the museum have both been completed. All the above works were realized in close cooperation with the Municipality of Idalion, which has performed exemplary work as far as the promotion of the area’s cultural heritage is concerned.

More coverage:

Roman Post Hole in Jersey

A few days ago it was Berkeley, now it’s Jersey … still not in North America, though. Brief item from the BBC:

Excavations were made at Grouville Church as part of work to extend the building, when archaeologists were called in to monitor the work.

The Reverend Mike Lange-Smith, rector of the church, said a post hole of a Roman period building was uncovered with pottery remains.

He said the finds had been sent to England for dating.

Mr Lange-Smith said the discoveries change the understanding of the church’s history as the earliest known record of the church building had been 1035 AD.

The excavations have now been covered up so work on the new vestry can continue.

The Wikipedia article on Jersey suggests that scattered Roman bits have been found previously, but no evidence of a permanent settlement …

Roman Remains in Sofia

AFP seems to be the only one covering this … I can’t find that we’ve mentioned anything about this before either:

The remains of an ancient Roman town were on Thursday unveiled to the public in the centre of the Bulgarian capital Sofia.

Excavation of the site — which currently includes a Roman palace, baths and burial sites, as well as a more recent 13th century church — began several years ago.

It is hoped that the remains will be preserved as a major heritage site and tourist attraction.

Archaeologists believe the site — which formed the intersection of the two major streets of the ancient Roman town Ulpia Sedica — could prove even more extensive, with at least two more Roman palaces waiting to be uncovered.

Debate has raged for years over the fate of the site as the excavations notably proved a major headache for plans to extend the Sofia underground, with a major station situated right below the historical site.

But the authorities finally opted to preserve the remains where they were.

The total cost of the ambitious project, which will entail a complete reconstruction of central Sofia and is scheduled to be finished in 2011/2012, is an estimated 20 million leva (10 million euros, 12 million dollars).

“It’ll be a perfectly preserved underground museum covering an area of 1.9 hectares,” said Deputy Culture Minister Todor Chobanov at a tour of the site for the media.

“This could put Sofia on par with other major cultural heritage sites such as Rome,” Chobanov said.

With the help of EU money, “this huge space can be used as a centre for exhibitions and performances, which is something that Sofia did not really have until now,” said chief architect Petar Dikov.

An ancient Thracian settlement, Bulgaria’s capital was conquered by the Romans in the first century BC and renamed Ulpia Serdica.
Parts of the Roman fortress in the area close to the current excavations site and an adjacent church dating back to the fourth century have already been excavated and fully reconstructed.

via AFP: Spectacular Roman remains unveiled in Sofia | AFP.