Roman Cemetery in Tunisia

From AllAfrica … hopefully we’ll get some more details:

A chance discovery of around 100 Roman graves was made recently near el Kantra – located in the island of Djerba’s southern region.

Employees working for the STEG (the Tunisian Society of Electricity and Gas) as well as employees from the Ministry of Equipment and Housing uncovered the graves while they were carrying out work in the region.

An employee from the STEG, who was present when the discovery was made, confirmed that while the staff was digging to repair a gas pipeline they discovered fragments of marble, pottery, clothes, coins, and human bones. The employees did not recognize that the area was a cemetery until they invited archaeologists to investigate the site.

Youssef el Cherif, a Tunisian archaeologist, confirmed that the graves discovered in “el Kantra” appeared to be connected to the archaeological site of Meninx.

Originally a manufacturing center established by Phoenicians as early as the 10th Century BC, Meninx developed into an important and prosperous economic city under the Romans thanks to its strategic position at the geographical crossroads of ancient trade routes. At its peak Meninx was the capital of the island and boasted thermal baths, an amphitheater, a theater, a basilica and possibly a forum.

A team of archaeologists will begin a more detailed investigation of the new discovery in the coming days.


A Wellcome Etruscan Uterus?

Last weekend we posted a link to Caroline Lawrence’s post about her visit to  the Wellcome Collection. Serendipitously, the Wellcome Collection’s own blog also has an item of interest under the title Ancient objects shed light on how people once understood their bodies. It includes this photo from the collection:

… and we are told it’s an Etruscan depiction of a uterus. The post correctly notes:

This observational understanding of medicine provides an interesting perspective when looking at the votives we have in the gallery. The knowledge of what was going on inside the body was limited, so what couldn’t be observed would have been assumed. If we take the votive uterus pictured above as an example, we can see that there was little knowledge of what the organ actually looked like. Autopsies would not have been carried out at this time; there are isolated cases in third-century BCE Alexandria, but these are not the norm. The form of this votive is based on assumptions and what observation could have been made.

… so how do we know it’s supposed to be a uterus? There’s another one here (it might be the same …), also identified as a “female uterus” (to distinguish it from the male version, of course) … and another … I’m curious about the identification …

ADDENDUM (a few days later): in a similar vein, see Kristina Kilgrove’s very interesting post: Using Votives to Visualize Reproductive Anatomy in Antiquity

Further Thoughts on that Bulgarian Site Near Bourgas

It’s amazing how finally finishing report cards allows the rogueclassicist side of my brain to start working again. As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I realized that the  ‘last page’ as it were, of our pre-wordpress version of this venture actually makes a reference to Bourgas. Specifically, an item entitled Remains of Ancient Bourgas From Bulgaria mentions a ‘sign’ which had been found there (along with remains of a fortress … the original article is still available, by the way), the gist of which apparently was:

The text states that in Roman times many fortresses had been built along the frontier of the Roman colony Deultum. Deultum was established in the last years of the reign of Emperor Vespasian (69-79 AD).

… so it doesn’t seem to be much of a stretch (given Deultum’s connection to Bourgas, apparently) that what has been found recently is likely one of these fortresses, no?


This Day in Ancient History: ante diem xv kalendas martias

ante diem xv kalendas martias

  • Parentalia (Day 3) — the festival for appeasing the dead continues
  • Lupercalia
  • 44 B.C. — Julius Caesar is offered — and declines — the title of rex and the diadem to go with it
  • 1515 — death of Aldus Manutius