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Archaeologists excavate Roman townhouse in ancient Melite



A team of archaeologists from the University of South Florida (USF) have excavated a Roman townhouse in the ruins of ancient Melite, located in present-day Mdina on the island of Malta.

Melite came under Roman rule during the Second Punic War, when Roman consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus, sailed a fleet to capture Malta from the Carthaginians in 218 BC.

Very little is known about Melite’s urban layout from the Roman period, and various architectural elements from the city ruins were taken to be repurposed in more modern buildings from the late 17th to the 19th centuries AD.

Today, the most substantial remnant of Melite is the Domvs Romana, a domus that dates from the 1st century BC until it was abandoned sometime in the 2nd century AD.

The domus was likely used as a residence by a representative of the emperor or some very wealthy individual very close to the imperial court, and was decorated with Pompeian style mosaic floors, wall frescoes and marble.

Near to the Domvs Romana, USF archaeologists have uncovered a roman townhouse with 10-foot-tall walls, a height that is unusual for Roman buildings in this part of the Mediterranean.

According to the researchers, the discovery will provide a better understanding of the urban fabric of ancient Melite and the area’s spatial configuration, a process that explains the human experience and behaviour based on the surrounding structural environment.

Excavations of the townhouse indicate that it was high status and was likely decorated with terracotta floor tiles and frescoed plaster. The team have also uncovered an ancient waste disposal system full of fragmented pottery, glass vessels, animal bones and charcoal.

Davide Tanasi, professor and director of USF’s Institute for Digital Exploration (IDEx), said: “It was literally the garbage disposed by whomever lived in the house,” Tanasi said. “By studying this deposit, we will learn a lot about the life of who lived in the house. It is surprising how much you can learn about people from their garbage.”


Header Image Credit : Davide Tanasi

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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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