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

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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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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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