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Operation to prevent looting has led to discovery of burial caves



A joint operation to prevent the looting of antiquities by the Kafr Kanna Police and the Israel Antiquities Authority Theft Prevention Unit has led to the discovery of a burial caves near Kafr Kanna in Galilee, Israel.

The team investigated a plot near the village of Mashhad where they recovered stone ossuary’s (small burials chests) and found a burial cave from the Roman period that was entirely destroyed by large scale construction works.

Upon further inspection of the site, the removal of earth revealed a second rock-hewn burial cave with niches and decorated stone ossuary’s, although the cave has also been partially damaged by the construction works. The ossuary’s were found empty and moved from their original location, suggesting that the cave had recently been looted.

The ossuary’s are small rectangular chests carved in soft limestone that were used for the secondary burial of human bones after the body tissue decayed. The custom of secondary burial in stone ossuary’s was a Jewish practice carried out in Judea and the Galilee area in the Early Roman period from around the first century BC.

Image Credit : Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority

A closer inspection of one of the ossuary’s shows an inscription depicting a mausoleum in Greek or a “nefesh” in Hebrew. Another ossuary is carved with a circular wreath in which holes were drilled, thought by some to symbolise the victory of the deceased over death.

All construction work has been stopped and several workers have been summoned to the local police station on suspicion of damaging antiquities and failing to report the discovery to authorities.

In Israel, there is a legal obligation to report chance finds of antiquities to the Israel Antiquities Authority, and damaging antiquities is a criminal offense punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

According to Amir Ganor, Director of the Theft Prevention Unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority: “The original details of the destroyed cave cannot be reconstructed, and almost two-thousand-year-old cultural assets are lost forever. Thanks to the vigilance and determination of the Kafr Kanna Police, and the successful cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority, one of the caves was mostly saved.”


Header Image Credit : Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority

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Archaeologists discover traces of Roman circus at Iruña-Veleia




Archaeologists from ARKIKUS have announced the discovery of a Roman circus at Iruña-Veleia, a former Roman town in Hispania, now located in the province of Álava, Basque Autonomous Community, Spain.

The town was an important transit centre on the Ab Asturica Burdigalam (Roman road), with a peak population of around 10,000 inhabitants.

In a recent study using aerial photography and light detection and ranging (LiDAR), archaeologists have found a Roman circus and previously unknown urban areas of Iruña-Veleia.

A Roman circus was a large open-air venue used mainly for chariot races, although sometimes serving other purposes. Chariot racing was the most popular of many subsidised public entertainments, and was an essential component in several religious festivals.

Image Credit : Shutterstock

Chariot racing declined in significance in the Western Roman Empire following the fall of Rome, with the last known race held at the Circus Maximus in AD 549, organised by the Ostrogothic king, Totila.

According to a press statement by ARKIKUS, the circus is an elongated enclosure that accommodated up to 5,000 spectators, and measures 280 metres long by 72 metres wide.

Until now, only a handful of Roman circus’s are known in the northern half of the Iberian Peninsula, emphasising the importance of Iruña-Veleia during the Roman period.

The study also revealed a Roman street system, evidence of buildings with porticoed areas, and a linear feature indicating the route of the Ab Asturica Burdigalam.

Header Image Credit : ARKIKUS

Sources : ARKIKUS

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeologists make new discoveries at Bodbury Ring hillfort




Bodbury Ring is a univallate hillfort, strategically located at the southern tip of Bodbury Hill in Shropshire, England.

Hillforts in Britain are known from the Bronze Age, but the main period of hillfort construction occurred during the Celtic Iron Age.

Hillfort fortifications follow the contours of a hill and consist of one or more lines of earthworks or stone ramparts, with stockades or defensive walls, and external ditches.

Archaeologists from Time Team and the Universities of Chester and York, recently conducted a study of Bodbury Ring using light detection and ranging (LiDAR).

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is a remote sensing technique that employs pulsed laser light to measure distances to the Earth. By analysing variations in the return times and wavelengths of the laser pulses, this method can generate a detailed 3-D digital map of the landscape.

The study has revealed that Bodbury Ring is six times larger than previously thought and is part of a much larger hillfort which enclosed the entirety of the ridgetop on Bodbury Hill. This larger hillfort shares some characteristics with examples known to have originated in the Late Bronze Age.

Professor Ainsworth from Time Team said: “The earthworks of Bodbury Ring, it seems, were constructed to form a small, more easily defended fort at the southern tip of the original hillfort, possibly in the Middle Iron Age.”

“This prehistoric ‘downsizing’ may have resulted from increased tension in the region, reflecting possible changes in the geopolitical landscape of the times. Close by, on the northern side of Bodbury Hill, the remains of a probable Roman Iron Age enclosed settlement have also been identified for the first time,” added Professor Ainsworth.

Header Image Credit : University of Chester

Sources : University of Chester

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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