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Archaeologists uncover Roman mosaic depicting Medusa

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Archaeologists excavating in the La Huerta de Otero Archaeological Zone, located in Mérida, Spain, have uncovered a mosaic from the Roman period with a depiction of Medusa.

The La Huerta de Otero Archaeological Zone is located on the western side of Mérida which was part of the Roman city of Augusta Emerita.

Augusta Emerita was founded in 25 BC by Augustus to resettle Emeriti soldiers from the veteran legions of the Cantabrian Wars. The city emerged into one of the largest Roman centres in Hispania and the capital of the province of Lusitania, covering an area of over 20,000 square kilometres.

Recent excavations in the La Huerta de Otero Archaeological Zone have revealed a large mosaic in the main room of a Roman domus depicting Medusa, one of the three monstrous Gorgons from Greek mythology.

Image Credit : Merida City Hall

According to the researchers, the depiction is a prophylactic representation to protect the domus inhabitants, similar to other Medusa depictions found in numerous artefacts and mosaics from throughout the Greek and Roman world for protection.

The Medusa image is framed in the centre of an octagonal medallion, surrounded in all four corners by peacocks that embody the four seasons. The overall mosaic measures around 30m2 and also contains geometric patterns and images of floral and animal motifs such as birds and fish.

Image Credit : Merida City Hall

Félix Palma, Director of the Monumental City Consortium commented that this site “is of an exceptional nature due to the level of conservation of the remains and, above all, due to the ornamental apparatus that decorates the well-preserved house: not only the mosaic but also paintings and sculptural motifs”.

Excavations have also revealed a 40 metre section of the Roman wall that defended the city, and the remains of a road running in parallel on the interior.

Merida City Hall

Header Image Credit : Merida City Hall

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Archaeology

Excavation of medieval shipbuilders reveals a Roman head of Mercury

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Excavations of a medieval shipbuilders has led to the discovery of a Roman settlement and a Roman head of Mercury.

The discovery was made at Smallhythe Place, a late 15th or early 16th century property managed by the National Trust near Tenterden in Kent, England.

Prior to the decline of the port and shipyard at Smallhythe during the 16th century, the local community played a crucial role in the shipbuilding industry, crafting vessels for notable figures, including members of royalty.

As part of a project funded by several UK institutions, over 60 volunteers from the National Trust participated in the excavation, along with professional archaeologists, students, and members of the Hastings Area Archaeological Research Group.

The excavation has revealed traces of a Roman settlement that was occupied between the 1st and 3rd centuries, including an incredibly rare figurine made of pipeclay that depicts the god, Mercury.

Mercury was a major god in the Roman pantheon and was associated with financial gain, commerce, eloquence, messages, communication (including divination), travellers, boundaries, luck, trickery, and thieves. He also served as the guide of souls to the underworld and was the messenger of the gods.

According to a press announcement by the National Trust: “This complete figurine probably would have depicted Mercury standing, either draped with a chlamys (a short cloak), or naked, holding a caduceus (a staff with two intertwined snakes).”

The team also unearthed thousands of artefacts, providing evidence of the evolution of Smallhythe Place from a Georgian farm to a midden dump, a shipbuilding site, and a brickworks.

The National Trust said: “To support our investigations, we received grants from the National Trust’s Inclusive Archaeology, Robert Kiln and the Roman Research Funds and from the Royal Archaeological Institute. During 2023, our project has received funding from the Society of Antiquaries and the William and Edith Oldham Charitable Trust.”

Header Image Credit : James Dobson

Sources : National Trust – Exploring Smallhythe Place: Archaeological Investigations by the River Rother

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

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Researchers find that Żagań-Lutnia5 is an Iron Age stronghold

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Archaeologists have conducted a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey of Żagań-Lutnia5, revealing that the monument is an Iron Age stronghold.

Żagań-Lutnia5 was first discovered in the 1960s near the town of Żagań in western Poland, with previous studies suggesting that the monument could be associated with the Białowieża group of the Lusatian urnfield culture.

The Lusatian culture existed in the later Bronze Age and early Iron Age (1300–500 BC) in most of what is now Poland. It formed part of the Urnfield systems found from eastern France, southern Germany and Austria to Hungary, and the Nordic Bronze Age in northwestern Germany and Scandinavia.

A recent study led by Dr. Arkadiusz Michalak on behalf of the Archaeological Museum of the Middle Oder River has revealed two parallel sequences of magnetic anomalies at Żagań-Lutnia5 that represent the remnants of earthen and wooden fortifications.

The course of the fortifications were recorded in the northern, western and southern parts of the study area, however, a study of the eastern section was limited due to a sewage collector built in the 1990’s.

Exploratory excavations found four cultural layers with remains of huts and hearths, in addition to a burnt layer from the last phase of occupation that suggests a period of conflict.

According to the researchers, the monument was likely built by the same people who constructed the stronghold in Wicin and a number of verified defensive settlements within the area of the Elbe, Nysa Łużycka and Odra.

As a result of the study, Żagań-Lutnia5 has been added to the catalogue of verified Early Iron Age strongholds located in today’s Lubusz Voivodeship.

Header Image Credit : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments

Sources : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments – Archaeological research at the site of Żagań-Lutnia5

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

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