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Archaeologists excavate Roman townhouse in ancient Melite

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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.”

USF

Header Image Credit : Davide Tanasi

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Archaeology

Excavation uncovers traces of the first bishop’s palace at Merseburg Cathedral Hill

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Archaeologists from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) Saxony-Anhalt have uncovered traces of the first bishop’s palace at the southern end of the Merseburg Cathedral Hill in Merseburg, Germany.

Construction of the early Romanesque Merseburg Cathedral was begun by Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg in 1015.

It was consecrated in 1021 in the presence of Emperor Heinrich II (Henry II), however, following a series of collapses in the eastern part of the structure, the cathedral wouldn’t be formally consecrated and opened until 1042 by Bishop Hunold.

The Merseburg Cathedral of St. John and St. Lawrence is today considered one of the most important cathedral buildings in Germany.

The LDA team were excavating the basement of the so-called Martinikurie, a two-story residential building from the Baroque period. Excavations revealed the remains of the first bishop’s palace, dating from from the time of the second consecration of Merseburg Cathedral.

According to the LDA: “We found the almost completely preserved basement-like lower floor of a hall building, whose 1.75 metre thick foundation walls are still preserved up to a height of 3.40 metres. Steps in the masonry and a pillar from the time of construction inside the building prove that at least one hall-like upper floor once stood on top of this.”
The palace was constructed by Bishop Hunold, who headed the diocese of Merseburg between 1036 and 1050.

“This finding makes it possible to locate one of the most important buildings of the episcopal see in Merseburg – a building that, with its location and size, clearly expresses the self-confidence of the diocese, which was re-founded in 1004 by King Henry II of Germany” added the LDA.

Header Image Credit : LDA

Sources : State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA)

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

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Archaeologists find ancient papyri with correspondence made by Roman centurions

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Archaeologists from the University of Wrocław have uncovered ancient papyri that contains the correspondence of Roman centurions who were stationed in Egypt.

The papyri were discovered in Berenice Troglodytica, an ancient seaport of Egypt on the western shore of the Red Sea. The city was founded by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246 BC), who named it after his mother, Berenice I of Egypt.

During the Roman period, Berenice Troglodytica was one of the main waystations for the trade in war elephants and exotic goods, imported from India, Sri Lanka, Arabia, and Upper Egypt.

Excavations of an animal cemetery located on the western outskirts of the city have uncovered an accumulation of ceramics originating from the Mediterranean, Africa and India.

Image Credit : Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Among the accumulation, the team found Roman coins, a fibula, ostracons (fragments of texts on ceramics), and several papyri.

The papyri contains the correspondence of centurions, naming Haosus, Lucinius and Petronius. Centurions were soldiers who were promoted to command a centuria or “century”, a military unit consisting of between 80 to 100 men.

“In the correspondence, Petronius asks Lucinius (stationed in Berenice Troglodytica) about the prices of individual exclusive goods. There is also the statement: “I am giving you the money, I am sending it by dromedarius (a unit of legionnaires moving on dromedaries). Take care of them, provide them with veal and poles for their tents.”

Dr. Marta Osypińska from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Wrocław, said: “For Egyptologists and other scientists dealing with antiquity, this is an extremely rare and high-calibre discovery.”

“In this part of the world, there are very few sites from the Roman period. The Egyptians tend to leave little historical accounts from this time in history, because it is the moment when they were conquered.” added  Dr. Osypińska.

Header Image Credit : Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Sources : PAP

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

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