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Archaeologists discover “completely unique” Roman mosaics in London

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A team of archaeologists, led by the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), on behalf of Landsec and Transport for London (TfL), have discovered Roman mosaics in London described by experts as “completely unique.”

Archaeologists also unearthed the well-preserved remnants of a mausoleum, a grand tomb structure with intact walls, interior flooring, and a captivating mosaic at its centre. Surrounding the mosaic is a raised platform where the burials were once laid to rest. The extraordinary level of preservation establishes it as the most complete Roman mausoleum ever unearthed in Britain.

The mausoleum underwent significant modifications during its lifetime and archaeologists uncovered a second mosaic directly beneath the first – indicating the floor of the structure was raised during its lifetime. The two mosaics are similar in design, with a central flower surrounded by a pattern of concentric circles set within a pavement formed of small red tiles.

The walls of the structure underwent extensive dismantling, likely occurring during the Medieval Period, with the intention of re purposing the materials elsewhere. Nonetheless, the available evidence strongly suggests that this was originally a substantial edifice consisting of two stories.

Image Credit : MOLA

Antonietta Lerz, Senior Archaeologist at MOLA, said: “This relatively small site in Southwark is a microcosm for the changing fortunes of Roman London – from the early phase of the site where London expands and the area has lavishly decorated Roman buildings, all the way through to the later Roman period when the settlement shrinks and it becomes a more quiet space where people remember their dead. It provides a fascinating window into the living conditions and lifestyle in this part of the city in the Roman period.”

Londinium is the name given to the Roman city, now occupied by the City of London that contains the historic centre and the primary central business district of London. The site was established in AD 47 (confirmed by a dendrochronological study) around a narrow point on the River Thames that enabled the construction of a bridge crossing, but deep enough to allow seagoing vessels to navigate the tidal river channel.

Image Credit : MOLA

By the end of the 1st century AD, Londinium had expanded rapidly and quickly became one of the largest cities in Roman Britannia, replacing Camulodunum (Colchester) as the provincial capital.

During the 2nd century AD, Londinium had reached its peak with around 45,000-60,000 inhabitants, covering an area of 330 acres north of the River Thames. The city contained a large forum and basilica (one of the largest in the Roman Empire north of the Alps), several bathhouse complexes and temples, an amphitheater, the Governors Palace (Praetorium), and many townhouses (domus).

Londinium’s status began to decline during the 5th century AD, with many public buildings falling into disrepair and communication with the rest of the Roman Empire beginning to weaken due to the barbarian incursions into Gaul and Hispania.

In addition to the discovery of the mosaics, the mausoleum featured a raised platform constructed from tiles bonded together with a durable and water-resistant pink mortar called opus signinum. This platform served as a delineation for the burial areas, arranged in a parallel fashion along three sides of the structure and aligned with the walls.

The mausoleum’s purpose was likely reserved for affluent individuals within Roman society. It might have served as a family tomb or possibly belonged to a burial association, where members contributed a monthly fee for the privilege of being laid to rest within its confines.

MOLA

Header Image Credit : MOLA

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Archaeology

Archaeologists discover traces of Roman circus at Iruña-Veleia

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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 www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeologists make new discoveries at Bodbury Ring hillfort

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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 www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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