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Evidence of the 9th cohort of Batavians among new finds at Roman Vindolanda



Volunteer archaeologists excavating at Roman Vindolanda have uncovered evidence of the 9th cohort of Batavians.

Vindolanda (translated as “white field” or “white moor”) was a Roman auxiliary near Hadrian’s Wall that guarded a major highway called the Stanegate.

No less than nine forts were built of timber or stone at Vindolanda from between AD 85 to 370, creating one of the most complex archaeological sites in Britain and a unique cultural legacy of frontier life.

Today, Vindolanda is an ongoing active archaeological site, with previous excavations uncovering thousands of perfectly preserved shoes, textiles, wooden objects, and the Vindolanda tablets (the oldest surviving documents in Britain that date from the 1st and 2nd century AD).

Recent excavations have found a copper alloy lion head pommel that dates from AD 90 to 105 when the 9th cohort of Batavians were stationed at Vindolanda. The 9th cohort of Batavians were a mixed infantry-cavalry unit of about 1,000 men that came from a region close to the mouth of the Rhine near the modern day city of Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

Batavian soldiers were first brought to Britain during the conquest period in AD 43, and also fought at Ynys Mon in present-day Anglesey where they attacked the Druid stronghold in an amphibious assault.

Image Credit : Vindolanda Trust

Excavations at Vindolanda have also uncovered a bone handled knife that dates from around the same period as the Batavians, a sherd of a mortarium bow with indications that it was repaired using lead and copper alloy, a pit containing hundreds of nuts (mostly hazelnut) which dates from AD 105-108, and samian pottery depicting a hare.

This season has also seen the start of a groundbreaking five year project to excavate Roman Magna, a fort that predates Hadrian’s Wall which was constructed to guard the junction of the Maiden Way Roman road with the Stanegate.

Dr Andrew Birley, the Director of Excavations for the Vindolanda Charitable Trust said: “Magna has waited patiently for thousands of years to start to tell us its story and history and that time is now. The project is vital, as it comes at a time when the rapidly changing climate is having a devastating effect on the preservation of some of the most precious buried archaeological deposits. This threatens our future ability to explore and understand our past.”

Vindolanda Trust

Header Image Credit : Vindolanda Trust

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Gold foils discovered in Ancient Egyptian tombs




Archaeologists from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities have discovered rare gold foils during excavations at Tel El-Dir.

Tel El-Dir is a burial complex in the area of Egypt’s Damietta Governorate. The site contains various burials and tombs from the 26th Dynasty (664 BC to 525 BC), the last native dynasty of ancient Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC.

Excavations of 63 mud brick tombs and pit burials have revealed a large collection of funerary offerings, including rare gold foils depicting Ancient Egyptian deities, and foils shaped like symbols associated with good fortune and protection.

The team also found foils in the shape of tongues, a tradition that enabled the deceased to speak before the court of Osiris in the afterlife.

Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

The discovery follows on from a previous haul in 2022, where archaeologists excavating at Tel El-Dir found gold foils depicting Isis, Bastet and Horus (in the form of a winged falcon), as well as foils in various shapes.

According to a press statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, many of the tombs contained funeral pyres, imported and local ceramics, and Ushabti statues (figurines placed with the deceased to serve them in the afterlife).

The excavation has also yielded a large number of funerary offerings, such as protective amulets, figurines, coins, and a mirror.

Speaking on the finds, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities explained that the objects confirm that Damietta was a centre of trade during ancient times, and provides new insights into the burial practices during the 26th Dynasty.

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Sources : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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New findings at world-famous Mesolithic site of Star Carr




A recent study by archaeologists from the University of York and the University of Newcastle has revealed new insights into the domestic activities of the Mesolithic inhabitants of Star Carr.

Star Carr is one of the most significant and informative Mesolithic sites in Europe, which during prehistoric times was situated near the outflow at the western end of a palaeolake known as Lake Flixton.

Today, Star Carr lies at the eastern end of the Vale of Pickering near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England.

Using microscopic evidence from the use of stone tools, the researchers found that a range of domestic activities took place in three previously excavated structures. This includes activities related to working with bone, antler, hide, meat, and fish.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, used a combination of spatial and microwear data to provide different scales of interpretation: from individual tool use to patterns of activity across the three structures.

Dr Jess Bates, from the University of York’s Department of Archaeology said: “We found that there were distinct areas for different types of activity, so the messy activity involving butchery, for example, was done in what appears to be a designated space, and separate to the ‘cleaner’ tasks such as crafting bone and wooden objects, tools or jewellery.

“This was surprising as hunter-gatherers are known for being very mobile, as they would have to travel out to find food, and yet they have a very organised approach to creating not just a house but a sense of home.

“This new work, on these very early forms of houses suggests, that these dwellings didn’t just serve a practical purpose in the sense of having a shelter from the elements, but that certain social norms of a home were observed that are not massively dissimilar to how we organise our homes today.”

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : Bates J, Milner N, Conneller C, Little A (2024) Spatial organisation within the earliest evidence of post-built structures in Britain. PLoS ONE 19(7): e0306908.

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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