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

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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 www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Early medieval carved stone of a warrior figure found in Glasgow

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Archaeologists excavating the grounds of Govan Old Church in Glasgow, England, have discovered an early medieval carved stone figure dubbed the “Govan Warrior”.

Govan Old Church is the home of the Govan Stone Museum, a collection of early medieval and Viking-Age sculptures found in the grounds, including 30 sculptures from a lost kingdom of Old Welsh-speaking Britons known as the Ystrad Clud who dominated the Clyde valley from the 5th to 11th centuries AD.

Excavations have been conducted by the University of Glasgow and Clyde Archaeology, in which a carved stone of a warrior was uncovered during a community fun day organised as part of the Glasgow Doors Open Days Festival.

The carved stone depicts a man standing side on and carrying a round shield and a shaft. According to the researchers, the discovery dates from around 1,000-years-ago and is unlike any of the other carved stones found at Govan Old.

According to a press statement by the University of Glasgow: “The Govan Warrior is unique within the existing collection due to its stylistic characteristics, which has drawn parallels with Pictish art and carvings from the Isle of Man. Unlike the other stones in the Govan collection, whose chunky style of carving is so distinctive that it has been described as a school of carving in its own right (the ‘Govan School’), the Govan Warrior is lightly incised, which may bring parallels with famous Pictish stones like the Rhynie Man from Aberdeenshire.”

Professor Stephen Driscoll said: “It’s a style that makes us think both about the Pictish world and also about the Isle of Man and it’s interesting that we are halfway between these two places. Govan is the ideal place for these two artistic traditions or styles to come together.”

University of Glasgow

Header Image Credit : Govan Heritage Trust

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Archaeology

Iron Age port discovered on Baltic Sea island of Gotska Sandön

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An excavation project, in collaboration with archaeologists from Södertörn University, Uppsala University’s Campus Gotland, Gotland Museum, and the Swedish National Heritage Board, has led to the discovery of an Iron Age port on Gotska Sandön.

Gotska Sandön is an island and national park in Sweden’s Gotland County, situated 24 miles north of Faro in the Baltic Sea.

Earlier in 2023, archaeologists found two 2,000-year-old Roman coins on one of the island’s beaches. Both coins are made of silver, with one coin dating from AD 98-117 during the reign of Emperor Trajan, and the other coin dating from AD 138-161 during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius

In the latest excavations, archaeologists have now discovered evidence of twenty hearths on the same beach as the Roman coins discovery.

According to Johan Rönnby, a professor of marine archaeology at Södertörn University, the site is an Iron Age port, not in the sense of quays we imply in the modern era, but instead a place where Iron Age people regularly landed their boats and formed an encampment.

Although the purpose of the encampment is speculated, the researchers suggest that it may have been linked to an emerging seal hunting industry.

“Seal hunters may have come from the island of Gotland and landed on Sandön to boil seal blubber. This could have been what the hearths were used for, but we don’t yet know – there may be other reasons why the site looks like it does, such as it being a trading post,” said Rönnby.

Excavations and carbon-14 dating of one of the hearths has indicated that they also date from 2,000-years-ago, suggesting a possible link between the encampment and the Roman coins.

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Header Image Credit : idw

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