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Roman military camps and evidence of silver mining found in the Bad Ems area



Archaeologists from the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main have uncovered two Roman military camps near the town of Bad Ems, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

Evidence of subsurface features were first identified in 2016 from a series of crop marks, leading to a drone photography survey of the site and geomagnetic prospecting.

The survey revealed a military camp covering an area of 19.7 acres, that could house up to 3,000 garrisoned soldiers living in tents during the duration of when the camp was occupied.

Within the interior is a building consisting of a warehouse and storeroom intended as a solid build, however, evidence of burning suggests that the site was only occupied for a few years and was never completed.

The researchers have also identified a second camp 1.2 miles away on the opposite site of the Emsbach Valley, which has a defensive construction of sharpened wooden stakes surrounded by a tapering perimeter ditch.

Camp 2 – Image Credit : C. Mischka, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg

The site of the second camp was first explored in 1897, revealing evidence of processed silver ore, wall foundations and metal slag, that led to the assumption that a Roman smelting works was once located there.

New excavations have determined that the supposed furnace is actually a watchtower, belonging to a small military camp that could hold a garrison of around 40 soldiers.

In the writings of the Roman historian, Tacitus, he describes how the Roman governor, Curtius Rufus, had failed in an attempt to mine silver ore in the area around AD 47, possibly because the yield returns of silver were far too low to warrant the mining operations.

The researchers have confirmed the historical narrative by the discovery of a shaft-tunnel system for exploratory mining. The tunnel falls short of the Bad Ems passageway by only a few metres, a large deposit that in modern times has yielded 200 tons of silver.

The proximity of the camps to the mine suggests that they were constructed to provide security to the mining operations of the region, but once all mining was abandoned, the camps were burnt and the soldiers stationed elsewhere.

Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Celestial reliefs depicting the heavens uncovered in the Temple of Esna




A team of researchers from the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and the Universitaet Tübingen, have uncovered a collection of ceiling reliefs during restoration works in the Temple of Esna.

The Temple of Esna, also known as the Temple of Khnum, is a temple complex dedicated to the Ancient Egyptian god, Khnum, and his consorts Menhit and Nebtu, their son, Heka, and the goddess Neith.

The temple was constructed during Ptolemaic times in the Egyptian city of Esna, which during antiquity was known as Latopolis.

During restoration and re-colouring works, the team found a representation of the heavens that depicts the signs of the zodiac, several planets such as Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, in addition to a number of stars and constellations used to measure time.

Image Credit : Ahmed Emam, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Over the centuries, the reliefs and their vibrant colours became covered by a layer of dirt and soot, preserving them for nearly 2,000 years.

Christian Leitz, Director of the Department of Egyptology at the University of Tübingen said: “Representations of the zodiac are very rare in Egyptian temples. The zodiac itself is part of Babylonian astronomy and does not appear in Egypt until Ptolemaic times.”

The archaeologists suggest that the system of zodiac signs and their related constellations didn’t appear in Egypt until they were introduced by the Greeks, which were then used to decorate private tombs and sarcophagi. The zodiac was also of great importance in astrological texts, such as horoscopes found inscribed on pottery sherds.

Image Credit : Ahmed Emam, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

“It is rare in temple decoration: Apart from Esna, there are only two completely preserved versions left, both from Dendera,” added Leitz.

The team also found images of various creatures, including a snake with a ram’s head, a bird with a crocodile’s head, the tail of a snake and four wings, and depictions of snakes and crocodiles.

University of Tübingen

Header Image Credit : Ahmed Emam, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

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Maya burial chamber containing green figurines found at Palenque




Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have discovered a burial chamber at the Maya city of Palenque.

Palenque, also known as Lakamha in the Itza Language (meaning “Flat-Place-River”) was a Maya city state located in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

Much of the history of Palenque has been reconstructed from hieroglyphic inscriptions on the monuments, revealing a sequence of the ruling Palenque Dynasty from the 5th century till the 8th century AD.

Palenque is a medium-sized site, smaller than Tikal, Chichen Itza, or Copán, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings that the Mayas produced.

Image Credit : INAH

Archaeologist from INAH have been conducting restoration works as part of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones, funded as a government led initiative by the Ministry of Culture.

During excavations of a structure designated CP3, the researchers uncovered a burial chamber containing a skeleton placed in a face-up position and orientated to the north, a typical funerary custom of the high-status inhabitants of Palenque.

Several large ceramic bowls were placed in the chamber as offerings, which according to Maya funerary beliefs would nourish the deceased both in life and death.

The remains of a woman and a skull was also found in a secondary burial deposit, in addition to green figurines made from jade that are often related to rulership and authority, wealth, water, maize, and centrality, or may represent a member of the Maya pantheon of gods.


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