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Ancient Greek temple discovery sheds new light on ritual activities in ancient Paestum

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Archaeologists excavating in ancient Paestum have uncovered a trove of artefacts, shedding new insights into ritual activities in a recently discovered temple.

Paestum was a major ancient Greek city on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea in Magna Graecia, located in present-day southern Italy.

The city was first settled by Greek colonists under the name of Poseidonia, which emerged into a major trading port and religious centre.

Paestum was renowned in the ancient world for its three temples in the Archaic version of the Greek Doric order, dating from about 550 to 450 BC. Two of the temples were dedicated to Hera (the goddess of marriage, women and family, and the protector of women during childbirth), and one temple was dedicated to Athena (the goddess of wisdom, warfare, and handicraft).

Image Credit : Archaeological Park of Paestum and Velia

The city was eventually conquered by the local Lucanians, and later the expanding Roman Republic, which renamed the city to Paestum. As Pesto or Paestum, the town became a bishopric (now only titular), but it was abandoned in the Early Middle Ages.

In an announcement by the Archaeological Park of Paestum and Velia, excavations first commenced in 2019 (postponed due to the COVID outbreak) have revealed a fourth temple along the city’s western walls.

The temple is doric in design with a stone base and a sacred sanctuary. Archaeologists found architectural features and terracotta figurines, including a dolphin statuette from the Avili family of ceramists and depictions of various deities and figures,

Several terracotta bull’s heads were discovered placed around the altar, which has grooves in the stonework for collecting blood during ritual ceremonies which involved sacrificing bulls.

Gennaro Sangiuliano, the Minister of Culture, said: “The discovery of hundreds of statues and altars in the small temple of Paestum confirms the extraordinary value of this site”.

Header Image Credit : Archaeological Park of Paestum and Velia

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Archaeology

Excavation of medieval shipbuilders reveals a Roman head of Mercury

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Excavations of a medieval shipbuilders has led to the discovery of a Roman settlement and a Roman head of Mercury.

The discovery was made at Smallhythe Place, a late 15th or early 16th century property managed by the National Trust near Tenterden in Kent, England.

Prior to the decline of the port and shipyard at Smallhythe during the 16th century, the local community played a crucial role in the shipbuilding industry, crafting vessels for notable figures, including members of royalty.

As part of a project funded by several UK institutions, over 60 volunteers from the National Trust participated in the excavation, along with professional archaeologists, students, and members of the Hastings Area Archaeological Research Group.

The excavation has revealed traces of a Roman settlement that was occupied between the 1st and 3rd centuries, including an incredibly rare figurine made of pipeclay that depicts the god, Mercury.

Mercury was a major god in the Roman pantheon and was associated with financial gain, commerce, eloquence, messages, communication (including divination), travellers, boundaries, luck, trickery, and thieves. He also served as the guide of souls to the underworld and was the messenger of the gods.

According to a press announcement by the National Trust: “This complete figurine probably would have depicted Mercury standing, either draped with a chlamys (a short cloak), or naked, holding a caduceus (a staff with two intertwined snakes).”

The team also unearthed thousands of artefacts, providing evidence of the evolution of Smallhythe Place from a Georgian farm to a midden dump, a shipbuilding site, and a brickworks.

The National Trust said: “To support our investigations, we received grants from the National Trust’s Inclusive Archaeology, Robert Kiln and the Roman Research Funds and from the Royal Archaeological Institute. During 2023, our project has received funding from the Society of Antiquaries and the William and Edith Oldham Charitable Trust.”

Header Image Credit : James Dobson

Sources : National Trust – Exploring Smallhythe Place: Archaeological Investigations by the River Rother

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

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Researchers find that Żagań-Lutnia5 is an Iron Age stronghold

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Archaeologists have conducted a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey of Żagań-Lutnia5, revealing that the monument is an Iron Age stronghold.

Żagań-Lutnia5 was first discovered in the 1960s near the town of Żagań in western Poland, with previous studies suggesting that the monument could be associated with the Białowieża group of the Lusatian urnfield culture.

The Lusatian culture existed in the later Bronze Age and early Iron Age (1300–500 BC) in most of what is now Poland. It formed part of the Urnfield systems found from eastern France, southern Germany and Austria to Hungary, and the Nordic Bronze Age in northwestern Germany and Scandinavia.

A recent study led by Dr. Arkadiusz Michalak on behalf of the Archaeological Museum of the Middle Oder River has revealed two parallel sequences of magnetic anomalies at Żagań-Lutnia5 that represent the remnants of earthen and wooden fortifications.

The course of the fortifications were recorded in the northern, western and southern parts of the study area, however, a study of the eastern section was limited due to a sewage collector built in the 1990’s.

Exploratory excavations found four cultural layers with remains of huts and hearths, in addition to a burnt layer from the last phase of occupation that suggests a period of conflict.

According to the researchers, the monument was likely built by the same people who constructed the stronghold in Wicin and a number of verified defensive settlements within the area of the Elbe, Nysa Łużycka and Odra.

As a result of the study, Żagań-Lutnia5 has been added to the catalogue of verified Early Iron Age strongholds located in today’s Lubusz Voivodeship.

Header Image Credit : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments

Sources : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments – Archaeological research at the site of Żagań-Lutnia5

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

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