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Rare textiles, basketry and cordage discovered at submerged Neolithic settlement

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Underwater archaeologists excavating at the submerged La Marmotta settlement near Rome, Italy, have uncovered textiles, basketry and cordage from the Early Neolithic Period.

La Marmotta was first discovered in 1989 beneath the waters of Lake Bracciano, a Circum-Alpine Lake of volcanic origin in the Italian region of Lazio. The lake owes its origin to intense volcanic and tectonic activity, resulting in the collapse of the magma chamber that created a depressed area now occupied by the lake.

During the Early Neolithic Period, a lakeshore settlement was established which today lies approximately 300 metres from the modern shoreline, submerged at a depth of 11 metres.

Underwater surveys of the settlement have documented several thousand wooden piles or support posts on the lakebed; the spatial distribution of these piles permits the identification of a minimum of 13 house structures arranged parallel to one another on the Neolithic shore.

The archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological finds indicate a community practising a well-developed farming economy, with previous studies finding remains of goats, sheep, cattle, pigs and dogs, and several wild mammal species including red deer (Cervus elaphus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), aurochs (Bos primigenius) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes).

Excavations of the settlement is ongoing, and it is currently estimated that around 25 percent of the site has been explored. However, further investigation is required to accurately determine the complete extent of the remaining archaeological remains.

The potential cause for the abandonment of the settlement is believed to be linked to a rapid increase in the water level of the lake. Regardless of the exact reason, the inhabitants departed hastily, leaving behind their belongings, such as tools, food-preparation vessels, and even their canoes.

In a study published in the journal Antiquity, archaeologists have uncovered a rare assemblage of basketry, cordage and textile remains, and some of the tools used to manufacture them. According to the researchers: “The assemblage paints a more complete picture of the technological expertise of Neolithic societies and their ability to exploit and process plant materials to produce a wide range of crafts.”

The textile fragments are currently being analysed by a team from the University of Copenhagen which are believed to have been made using plant fibres. A closer examination using a binocular microscope indicates flax fibres, a common material used by ancient cultures for making textiles until the 19th century AD.

In total, 28 fragments of cord and two lengths of thread have also been identified, in addition to 43 fragments of basketry, some of which still contain food residue.

Further evidence of textile production is present by the discovery of 78 loom weights, three spindle whorls, and 34 complete or fragmented wooden tools that were likely used during weaving to ensure that each new weft thread was tightly packed down.

The study authors concluded: “The limited extent of the picture that we can usually reconstruct is made clear by the settlement of La Marmotta. Here, the excellent preservation of wooden structures and objects of various perishable materials creates a much fuller understanding of the technical complexity of these early farming societies, perhaps even pointing to the existence of craft specialists.”

Antiquity

https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2023.21

Header Image Credit : Museo delle Civiltà-Mario Mineo

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Archaeology

Trove of Roman objects linked to feasting found at Ostia antica

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Archaeologists have uncovered a trove of Roman objects linked to ritual feasting at Ostia antica.

Ostia Antica is an ancient harbour town located at the mouth of the Tiber River. The harbour served as the main port for Rome, transporting goods and people from the coast along the Via Ostiensis.

Archaeologists recently excavated the area of Regio I – Insula XV, a “sacred area” or precinct housing several temples and sanctuaries. At the centre is the temple of Hercules,  a 31 x 16 metre monument which dates from the Republican Era.

Excavations have revealed a substantial well situated at the base of the temple of Hercules. Upon draining the well, it was discovered to hold a significant collection of objects dating from the 1st to 2nd century AD.

Among the objects are various ceramics, miniatures, lamps, glass containers, fragments of marble, and burnt animal bones (pigs and cattle). According to the archaeologists, the trove corresponds with ritual feasting associated with cult at the temple.

In a press statement by the Ministry of Culture: “The discovery of burnt bones confirms that animal sacrifices were carried out in the sanctuary, while the common ceramics, also bearing traces of fire, indicate that the meat was cooked and consumed during banquets in honour of divinity. The remains of one or more ritual meals were thrown into the well, the last ones probably when their function had ceased.”

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Culture

Sources : Ministry of Culture

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

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Archaeology

Labyrinthine structure discovered from the Minoan civilisation

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Archaeologists have discovered a monumental labyrinthine structure on the summit of Papoura Hill in Crete.

The discovery was made during the installation of a radar system in preparation for the construction of a new airport in the area.

According to experts, the structure dates from between 2000 to 1700 BC shortly before or at the start of the palaeopalatial Minoan period.

The Minoan civilisation was a Bronze Age culture that emerged on the island of Crete around 3100 BC. The culture is known for the monumental architecture and energetic art, and is often regarded as the first civilisation in Europe.

Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

The chronology of the Minoans is characterised into three distinct phases – Early Minoan (EM), Middle Minoan (MM), and Late Minoan (LM).

The palaeopalatial structure is part of the MMI – II grouping in the Middle Minoan, a period in which the first palaces were built and saw the development of the Minoan writing systems, Cretan hieroglyphic and Linear A.

The structure comprises of 8 concentric stone rings that converge on a central circular building. The entire diameter of the complex measures 48 metres and covers an area of approximately 1800 square metres.

Within the central structure are four designated zones in which radial walls intersect vertically and form a labyrinthine structure. Zones A and B appear to be have the main concentration of human activity, evidenced by the presence of large amounts of animals bones.

According to the experts, this residential area likely had a truncated cone or vaulted appearance and is the first monument of this type excavated in Crete. It can perhaps be paralleled with the elliptical MM building of the Chamezi Archaeological Site, as well as with the so-called circular proto-Hellenic cyclopean building of Tiryns.

The Minister of Culture, said: “This is a unique and highly significant find. Solutions are in place to ensure the completion of the archaeological research and the protection of the monument.”

Header Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

Sources : Greek Ministry of Culture

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

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