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Daily life “frozen in time” at Roman villa after the Vesuvian eruption of AD 79

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Archaeologists have made new discoveries during excavations of the Civita Giuliana, a large villa complex in the suburbs of Roman Pompeii.

Pompeii was a Roman city, located in the modern commune of Pompeii near Naples in the Campania region of Italy. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum, and many villas in the surrounding area were buried under 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) of volcanic ash and pumice by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

The eruption spewed forth a deadly cloud of super-heated tephra and gases to a height of 33 km, ejecting molten rock, pulverised pumice and hot ash at 1.5 million tons per second, ultimately releasing 100,000 times the thermal energy of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Civita Giuliana is located northwest of Pompeii in an agricultural suburb that produced oil and wine. The villa was first excavated during the early 20th century, where a team led by the Marquis Giovanni Imperiali, uncovered numerous residential rooms and parts of the complex used for food processing. In 2021, archaeologists uncovered the remains of a preserved Roman chariot and a domestic room used by slaves that served the villa inhabitants.

Image Credit : Pompeii Sites

Recent excavations at Civita Giuliana have been conducted to stabilise the site, due to an extensive network of tunnels made by grave robbers that undermined the land.

Archaeologists have unearthed a collection of crockery and ceramic bows placed upside down along the walls of a servants’ quarters, revealing a snapshot of daily life frozen in time following the Vesuvian eruption.

It is assumed that the crockery and ceramics were left in situ at the time of the final phase of the eruption, which serves as a datum for the stratigraphic investigation of the villa complex.

“These finds demonstrate the commitment and ability of the State to stem the scourge of clandestine excavations and the trade in archaeological goods and constitute an important response to the havoc perpetrated over the years by grave robbers,” said the Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano. “Pompeii is the pride of Italy and it is our intention to further defend and promote a heritage that is unique worldwide”.

POMPEII SITES

Header Image Credit : Pompeii Sites

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Archaeology

Post-medieval township discovered in Scottish forest

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Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a pre-medieval township in the Glen Brittle Forest on the Isle of Skye.

The discovery was made during an environmental survey before the harvest of a mature conifer plantation.

AOC Archaeologists have found traces of 28 buildings, consisting of houses, byres, barns and corn-drying kilns, which are surrounded by fields and stock enclosures that traditionally formed a small clachan (or township).

An early 19th century map surveyed by John Thomson in 1832 names the site as the township of Brunell, a small agricultural township which dates from the 17th and 18th centuries.

A passage in the Parish of Bracadale on Skye describes Brunell as: “The parish produces black cattle, sheep and horses. Black cattle is the main staple… from the returns of which the people pay their rents and supply themselves with necessities. There are small quantities of sheep on each farm, but there is no farm laid out entirely to sheep pasture”

During the late 18th century, the township experienced a decline due to farms consolidating land for sheep-grazing and reduced the need for labour, consequently displacing and leaving the small tenants adrift.

By the Ordnance Survey of 1881, the town had dwindled to merely two roofless buildings and several fields, suggesting that the entire population had abandoned the township by this time.

According to Forestry and Land Scotland, the survey data was used to guide machine operators during tree harvesting, ensuring they could fell trees without causing harm to any archaeological features.

Header Image Credit : Forestry and Land Scotland

Sources : Forestry and Land Scotland – Dig deeper: revealing the ruins of Brunell Township.

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Geophysical study finds evidence of “labyrinth” buried beneath Mitla

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A geophysical study has found underground structures and tunnels beneath Mitla – The Zapotec “Place of the Dead”

Mitla is an archaeological site associated with the Zapotec culture, located in the Oaxaca Valley in the present-day state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.

The Zapotec civilisation emerged in the late 6th century BC, originating in the Central Valleys of the Etla. The culture was centred on the settlements of Oaxaca, San José Mogote, and Mitla, with the city of Monte Albán serving as the civic-ceremonial centre.

At its peak, the Zapotec had a population of more than 500,000 inhabitants, having developed sophisticated construction techniques, a writing system, two calendar systems, and complex agricultural cultivation.

In 2016, the Lyobaa Project, an institutional collaboration led by the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) employed ground penetrating radar (GPR), electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), and ambient seismic noise interferometry (AIRSA) to explore potential archaeological features beneath the San Pablo Apóstol church, built atop the Zapotec ruins in Mitla.

Image Credit : Lyobaa Project

According to local legend, the church was constructed on an entrance way to an underground labyrinth, serving as a passage between the realm of the living to the realm of the dead, referred to as Mictlán in Nahuatl, meaning the “place of the dead” or “underworld.”

In 1674, the Dominican chronicler, Francisco Burgoa, described Spanish missionaries entering the labyrinth: “Such was the corruption and bad smell, the dampness of the floor, and a cold wind which extinguished the lights, that at the little distance they had already penetrated, they resolved to come out, and ordered this infernal gate to be thoroughly closed with masonry.”

As part of phase two of the Lyobaa Project, the researchers have identified buried architectural complexes and a series of corridors during a study of the Calvario, Arroyo, and del Sur groups within the archaeological zone.

The Arroyo group, located in the central area of the site has three quadrangle features connected by tunnels that likely date from AD 1200 during the Late Postclassic period.

The project also conducted a survey of the quadrangular plaza where the San Pablo Apóstol church was constructed on the remains of a pre-Hispanic temple. Beneath the plaza the researchers found that there are four mounds with clay internal cores.

Archaeologist, Denisse Argote, said: “We were able to determine that, although the core of the stepped structure is solid, the foundation of the historic church requires short-term intervention to guarantee its conservation, so measures must be taken to ensure its structural stability.”

“There are cracks in the historic building, since it does not have a foundation and, underneath, in what corresponds to the remains of the pre-Hispanic building, it seems that there are areas with small cavities,” added Argote.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : INAH

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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