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Colossal carved heads found at Roman bathhouse near Hadrian’s Wall

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Archaeologists conducting excavations at a Roman bathhouse in Carlisle, England, have uncovered two colossal carved heads near Hadrian’s Wall.

The Uncovering Roman Carlisle project has been conducting a community supported excavation at the Carlisle Cricket Club, where the team have been excavating the Roman bath house after its initial discovery in 2017 by archaeologists from Wardell Armstrong.

The bath house is located near the Roman fort of Uxelodunum (meaning “high fort”), also known as Petriana, in the Carlisle district of Stanwix.

Uxelodunum was constructed to control the territories west of present-day Carlisle and an important crossing on the River Eden. It was located behind the Hadrianic barrier, with the Wall forming its northern defences and its long axis parallel to the Wall. The fort was garrisoned by the Ala Petriana, a 1,000-strong cavalry unit, whose members were all granted Roman citizenship for valour on the field.

Image Credit : Stuart Walker Photography

Previous excavations of the bath house have revealed several rooms, a hypocaust system, terracotta water pipes, intact floors, painted tiles, fragments of cooking pots, and engraved gems known as intaglios from the late 2nd century or 3rd century AD.

During the latest community led excavations, archaeologists have found two colossal sandstone carved heads (3x the size of a human head) which would have come from sculptures measuring up to 12-15 ft (3.5-4.5m) tall. The carved heads date from around the 2nd century AD which the team believe may depict Roman gods.

Image Credit : Stuart Walker Photography

Cumberland Council’s portfolio holder for Vibrant and Healthy Places, Cllr Anne Quilter, said: “This is exciting news and is a real coup so early into the dig. It is a significant find and it is great to hear that they were unearthed by volunteers. Carlisle has a rich Roman history, and this further strengthens the city’s connection to that era. I can’t wait to see what else is found!”

Excavations have also uncovered several tiles stamped with the official Roman Imperial stamp. The IMP stands for Imperator, Latin for Emperor. A stamp such as this indicates a tilery and brick makers who had official imperial approval.

Cumberland Council

Header Image Credit : Stuart Walker Photography 

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Archaeology

Study indicates that Firth promontory could be an ancient crannog

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A study by students from the University of the Highlands and Islands has revealed that a promontory in the Loch of Wasdale in Firth, Orkney, could be the remains of an ancient crannog.

A crannog is a partially or entirely artificial island, typically built in lakes and estuarine waters of Scotland from the prehistoric period onward.

Crannogs were used as dwellings, taking advantage of the natural surroundings that may have served to provide a defensive purpose.

Despite significant variations in methodology, most crannogs on mainland Scotland were built by driving timber piles into the loch bed and filling the interior with peat, brush, stones, or timber to create a solid foundation.

In largely treeless regions like the Western Isles, these island dwellings utilised a diverse mix of natural, artificially enlarged, or entirely artificial islets.

The discovery was made by students from the UHI Archaeology Institute, who were conducting test-pitting on a promontory at the northern end of the Loch of Wasdale.

According to a press statement by UHI: “It appears as an islet on the 1882 Ordnance Survey map. Little is known about the site, but the fact the shoreside edges appear to show the remains of walling led to the suggestion it may be a crannog.”

In his Reminiscences of an Orkney Parish, John Firth (1838-1922) wrote that this islet was once home to a kirk: “During the Middle Ages several chapels existed in the district now known as the parish of Firth – one on the island in the Loch of Wasdale.”

The test-pitting revealed large quantities of cairn-like rubble, in addition to more structural remains or a stone surface, indicating that the entire promontory/islet is artificial.

Martin Carruthers, a lecturer at UHI, said: “A structure made up of some very large masonry seems to lurk at the heart of the cairn makeup. Constructing this ‘monument’ must have been a very substantial undertaking.”

“In terms of artefacts, apart from some later post-medieval glazed pottery, we recovered a single worked flint, probably a ‘thumbnail’ scraper, which is most likely later Neolithic in date,” added Carruthers.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : UHI

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

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Archaeologists identify the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II

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Archaeologists from Sorbonne University have identified the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II, otherwise known as Ramesses the Great.

Ramesses II was the third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty during the New Kingdom period.
His reign is often regarded as the most celebrated in Egypt’s history, marked by several major military campaigns and numerous monument construction projects.

Based on supporting historical accounts, most Egyptologists suggest that Ramesses II assumed the throne in 1279 BC and reigned until his death at the age of around 90 in 1212 or 1213 BC.

His remains were interred in a tomb complex (designated KV7) in the Valley of the Kings, located opposite the tomb of his sons (KV5), and near the tomb (KV8) of his son and successor, Merenptah.

During the reign of Ramesses III during the 20th Dynasty, the tomb of Ramesses II was looted by grave robbers. Ancient texts record that priests moved his remains to the tomb of Queen Ahmose Inhapy, and then to the tomb of the high priest Pinedjem II.

His final resting place was a tomb (designated TT320), located next to Deir el-Bahari, in the Theban Necropolis opposite Luxor. The tomb is a Royal Cache containing the mummified remains of more than 50 kings, queens, and other royal family members of the New Kingdom period.

The mummy of Ramesses II was discovered in TT320 during excavations in 1881. He was found placed in a simple wooden coffin, suggesting that this was meant as a temporary measure until a more permanent resting place could be determined.

A new study, published in the Revue d’Égyptologie, suggests that a fragment of a sarcophagus discovered in 2009 at Abydos was part of the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II.

The sarcophagus fragment was found in a Coptic monastery and has recently been re-examined by Egyptologist Frédéric Payraudeau from Sorbonne University.

According to the study author, the decoration and texts on the sarcophagus fragment indicate that it was first used by Ramesses II (evidenced by the cartouche of Ramesses II), and later reused by a high priest of the 21st Dynasty, Menkheperre (around 1000 BC) who likely had the sarcophagus transported to Abydos after KV7 was looted.

Header Image Credit : Sarcophagus fragment – Kevin Cahail

Sources : cnrs | Le sarcophage de Ramsès II remployé à Abydos – Published in the Revue d’Égyptologie.

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

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