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Excavation reveals new insights into last moments before Vesuvius eruption

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Archaeologists conducting excavations in the Villa San Marco, a high status Roman villa on the outskirts of Stabia, are revealing new insights into the last moments before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Stabiae was an ancient Roman town and seaside resort near Pompeii on the eastern end of the Bay of Naples. Like Pompeii and Herculanium, Stabiae was largely buried during the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius in thick tephra and ash.

Pliny the Elder, a Roman author who wrote the encyclopedic Naturalis Historia (which became an editorial model for encyclopedias died at Stabiae during the eruptions, but many of the town inhabitants were spared and resettled. Publius Papinius Statius recites in a poem to his wife – “Stabias renatas”, meaning Stabiae reborn.

Recent excavations at the Villa San Marco, a large Roman villa complex which covers more than 11,000 square metres, have been investigating the previous building phases of the site to further understand the chronology and extent of the entire structure.

Image Credit : Pompeii Sites

The villa’s original construction dates back to the Augustan Age and was focused on a tetrastyle Ionic atrium. Later, during the Claudian period, expansions incorporated a panoramic garden and a swimming pool that were enclosed by a three-sided portico, topped with a colonnade featuring spiral columns.

As a result of these additions, the layout of the villa underwent significant changes, shifting away from the previous axial plan and decentralising the entrance and the original core.
The main entrance, now buried, used to open onto a porticoed courtyard that provided access to the tablinum. From there, one could proceed to a tetrastyle atrium, leading to four small cubicula. Additionally, the thermal baths were accessible from the atrium, but their alignment deviated from the villa’s main axis due to their connection with the pre-existing street running in front of the structure.

Since March 2023, archaeologists have excavated the end part of the upper portico, revealing paintings with seated figures and large parts of the collapsed walls. The portico was buried in lapilli tephra (volcanic rock), allowing the paintings to be preserved along with a flight of the spiral columns.

According to a press announcement: “Following the story provided by the stratigraphies of lapilli and collapses, and by the sequence of pyroclastic flows, it is also possible to reconstruct the last hours of the villa’s life.”

“Despite the dramatic destruction, the life and luxury of the villa resurface in the chromatic ranges of the paintings on the walls and ceilings, in the stuccos, in the capitals, in the precious coatings and crowning of columns and roofs,” added the researchers.”

Pompeii Sites

Header Image Credit : Pompeii Sites

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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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