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Stone head found in Lake Nemi may be from Caligula’s Nemi ships



A stone head found at the bottom of Lake Nemi in Italy’s Lazio region may be from Caligula’s Nemi ships.

The discovery was made by the Municipal Civil Protection of Nemi during reclamation works to clean the lakebed.

The Nemi ships were two gigantic vessels built in the 1st century AD during the reign of the Roman emperor Caligula on Lake Nemi. Although the purpose of the ships is speculated, it is suggested that they were floating pleasure palaces or had a religious significance as the lake was considered sacred.

Local fishermen had long been aware of the existence of the wrecks, but they were first investigated in 1446 by Cardinal Prospero Colonna and Leon Battista Alberti. The depth of the wrecks at this time made them too deep for salvage (18.3 metres), and attempts at their recovery by Colonna and Alberti led to significant damage to the preserved timber.

In 1927, the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, ordered that the lake be drained to reveal the wrecks, however, mud eruptions and subsidence in the lake floor meant that they weren’t fully recovered until 1932.

The first ship recovered, named Prima nave, was 70 metres in length with a beam (width) of 20 metres. The second ship, named Seconda nave, measured 73 metres in length with a beam of 24 metres. Both ships were protected by paint and tarred wool on the topside timbers, and were decorated with marble, mosaics, and gilded copper roof tiles.

In an account by the Roman historian, Suetonius, he describes the ships as having “…ten banks of oars…the poops of which blazed with jewels…they were filled with ample baths, galleries and saloons, and supplied with a great variety of vines and fruit trees.”

In 1944 during WW2, the museum where the ships were being stored was struck by allied shelling aiming at an adjacent German artillery post. The museum and Nemi Ships were engulfed in flames and destroyed, with only the bronzes, a few charred timbers, and some materials stored in Rome having survived the fire.

Investigations of the stone head are in their early days, but it has been suggested that it dates from the 1st century AD around the time of Caligula’s reign. According to a report in El Debate, the Nemi City Council stated:  “We have notified the competent bodies to make the appropriate assessments and see if it is an original piece.”


Header Image Credit : CASTELLI NOTIZIE

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Maya tomb with funerary offerings found during hotel construction




A tomb with funerary offerings has been uncovered during the construction of the Tren Maya Hotel, in Palenque, Mexico.

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) conducted rescue excavations following the discovery, revealing skeletal remains associated with the Maya city of Palenque.

Palenque, also known as Lakamha in the Itza Language (meaning “Flat-Place-River”), is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

The city dates from 226 BC to AD 799, with most of the major construction works representing a rebuilding effort in response to attacks by the city of Calakmul and its client states in AD 599 and AD 611.

The population declined during the 8th century AD, instead becoming an agricultural population that led to the abandonment of the city zone. By 1520 following the Spanish conquest, contemporary Spanish accounts record the entire region being sparsely populated.

Excavations uncovered a stone lined funerary space sealed with limestone slabs, in which the researchers found the remains of a high-status individual who likely lived in the periphery of Palenque in a small settlement.

The burial is located at a depth of four metres, and also contained ceramic vessels and beads deposited as funerary offerings.

“The individual was placed face up with his legs extended and his head facing north,” said Diego Prieto Hernández from INAH.

The discovery was announced in a press conference reporting on the progress of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones (Promeza) in Palenque, Moral-Reforma and El Tigre, the three heritage sites that are served within Section 1 of the Mayan Train Project.


Header Image Credit : INAH

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Archaeologists unearth possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle




Archaeologists from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust may have discovered the possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Pembroke Castle was founded during the 11th century by Roger de Montgomerie, the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.

In 1452, Jasper Tudor was presented both the castle and the earldom by his half-brother, King Henry VI. In 1457, Henry VII was born at the castle, the only child of Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond.

Following Edward IV’s ascension to the throne in 1471, Henry VII endured 14 years of exile in Brittany. He eventually claimed the throne after his forces, with backing from France, Scotland, and Wales, emerged victorious over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, marking the climax of the Wars of the Roses.

Henry VII’s reign is credited with many administrative, economic, and tax reforms, having ruled for nearly 24 years until his death in 1509 at the age of 52. Henry VII was succeed by his second son, Henry, Duke of York, who ascended to the crown as Henry VIII.

Historians have long assumed that a 13th century tower on the outer ward (known today as Henry VII Tower) was the birth place of Henry VII. However, a recent study by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust has uncovered evidence of a late-medieval winged hall-house, broadly dating to the 15th century.

The walls of the structure extend to around 25 metres, with comparisons being drawn to medieval buildings found in England and East Wales, such as Penallt Mansion in Kidwelly. Historically, Pembroke Castle was situated in the English-speaking portion of Pembrokeshire, often referred to as “Little England beyond Wales.”

Speaking to the Western Telegraph, Neil Ludlow, a consultant to Pembroke Castle, said: “All our indications are pointing to a late-medieval building which was clearly of high status within Pembrokeshire, and it looks as if it was at least two-storeys, which possibly makes it a better candidate for the birthplace of a king rather that the tower that currently bears his name.”

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