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Archaeology

Mosaic discovered in ruins of submerged Roman town

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A team of underwater archaeologists have discovered a mosaic in the submerged ruins of Roman Baie.

Baiae is a partially submerged Roman town on the shore of the Gulf of Naples in the present-day comune of Bacoli, Italy. The town grew into a popular resort, gaining a reputation for a hedonistic lifestyle, which according to the Roman poet, Sextus Propertius, was a “vortex of luxury” and a “harbour of vice”.

Many notable figures from Roman history visited frequently, including Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (also known as Pompey the Great), Julius Caesar, Gaius Marius, Lucius Licinius Lucullus, Hadrian, and Septimius Severus.

The most significant remains of the town consist of various high-status luxury villas, several dome-like temple structures, and the Parco Archeologico delle Terme di Baia. Some of the temples include the Temple of Diana, the temple of Mercury, and the Temple of Venus – which has since sunk 3 metres beneath ground level.

Image Credit : Edoardo Ruspantini

Due to the position of the town on the Cumaean Peninsula in the Phlegraean Fields, an active and volatile volcanic region, local volcanic bradyseismic activity raised and lowered the geology on the peninsula that resulted in the lower parts of the town being submerged.

Underwater archaeologists from the Campi Flegrei Archaeological Park have been conducting a survey of the Terme del Lacus area, revealing an ornate mosaic containing white, blue and red tesserae, dating from around 2,000-years-ago.

The mosaic was found in situ in the remains of a Roman structure and consists of psychedelic intertwining geometric lines, crossing braids, and hexagons with concave sides. Archaeologists suggest that the mosaic is similar to designs found in Tunisia, where Carthage, the ancient rival of Rome was conquered in 146 BC during the Third Punic War.

The survey also recently found the remains of a block of structures covering 60 metres in length, stone colonnades, marble columns, and a large piece of marble opus sectile flooring with portasanta and white marble in a chromatic alternating pattern.

Parco Archeologico Campi Flegrei

Header Image Credit : Edoardo Ruspantini

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Archaeology

Clusters of ancient qanats discovered in Diyala

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An archaeological survey has identified three clusters of ancient qanats in the Diyala Province of Iraq.

A qanat, also known as a kārīz, is a system for transporting water from an aquifer or water well over long distances in hot dry climates without losing water to evaporation.

Qanats use a sequence of vertical shafts resembling wells, linked by a gently inclined tunnel that serves as a conduit for channelling water. Qanats efficiently transport substantial volumes of underground water to the surface without requiring pumps.

The water naturally flows downhill by gravity, with the endpoint positioned at a lower level than the origin. When the qanat is still below ground, the water is drawn to the surface via water wells or animal driven Persian wells.

Image Credit : State Board of Antiquities & Heritage

Some Qanats are divided into an underground network of smaller canals known as kariz, functioning similarly to qanats by staying beneath the surface to prevent contamination and evaporation. In certain instances, water from a qanat is stored in a reservoir, usually with nighttime flow reserved for daytime usage.

The technology for qanat’s first emerged in ancient Iran around 3,000-years-ago and slowly spread westward and eastward.

A recent survey within the Diyala Province has discovered three clusters of qanats stretching between the areas of Jalulaa and Kortaba. Initial studies dates the clusters to around AD 1000, a period known as the “Iranian Intermezzo”, when parts of the region were governed by a number of minor Iranian emirates.

The first cluster consists of 25 wells on a linear alignment connected to an adjacent 10 metre deep water channel. The second cluster also has 25 wells and is connected to a 13 km long hand dug channel, while the third cluster consists of 9 wells connected to water canals dug on both sides.

Header Image Credit : State Board of Antiquities & Heritage

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

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Archaeology

16,800-year-old Palaeolithic dwelling found in La Garma cave

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Archaeologists have discovered a 16,800-year-old Palaeolithic dwelling in the La Garma cave complex, located in the municipality of Ribamontán al Monte in Spain’s Cantabria province.

The La Garma cave complex is a parietal art-bearing paleoanthropological cave system on the southern side of the La Garma Hill.

The cave complex is noted for one of the best preserved floors from the Palaeolithic period, containing more than 4,000 fossils and more than 500 graphical units.

A project led by Pablo Arias and Roberto Ontañón from the University of Cantabria has recently announced the discovery of a Palaeolithic dwelling within the cave system, described as “one of the best preserved Palaeolithic dwellings in the world.”

The dwelling is an oval space and is delimited by an alignment of stone blocks and stalagmites that supported a fixed structure of sticks and skins leaning against the cave wall. The total area of the space is around 5 square metres that centred on a camp fire.

Archaeologists also found vestiges of various daily activities associated with Magdalenian hunters and gatherers at the dwelling, including evidence of stone manufacturing, bone and antler instruments, and the working of fur.

In total, over 4,614 objects have been documented, such as dear, horse and bison bones, 600 pieces of flint, needles and a protoharpoon, shells of marine mollusks, as well as numerous pendants worn by the cave dwelling inhabitants.

Additionally, the researchers also found a number of decorated bones, including a remarkable pierced aurochs phalanx engraved with a depiction of both the animal itself and a human face—a distinctive artefact unique to the European Palaeolithic era.

Due to the national importance of the discovery, the team used innovative non-intrusive techniques in their study of the dwelling. This includes continuous tomography of the soils, 3D cartography, the molecular and genetic analysis of soils and Palaeolithic objects, mass spectrometry, and hyperspectral imaging.

Header Image Credit : University of Cantabria

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

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