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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

Megathrust earthquakes possible cause of Teōtīhuacān decline

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A new study, published in the journal Science Direct, suggests that a series of megathrust earthquakes led to the decline and possible abandonment of Teōtīhuacān.

Named by the Nahuatl-speaking Aztecs as Teōtīhuacān, and loosely translated as “birthplace of the gods”, Teōtīhuacān is an ancient Mesoamerican city located in the Teōtīhuacān Valley of the Free and Sovereign State of Mexico, in present-day Mexico.

The development of Teōtīhuacān can be identified by four distinct consecutive phases, known as Teōtīhuacān I, II, III, and IV.

It was during phase II (AD 100 to 350) that the city population rapidly grew into a metropolis and saw the construction of monuments such as the Pyramid of the Sun (the third largest ancient pyramid after the Great Pyramid of Cholula and the Great Pyramid of Giza), the Pyramid of the Moon, the Avenue of the Dead, and the Ciudadela with the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (also known as Temple of the Quetzalcoatl).

An analysis of several pyramids within the city has revealed evidence of Earthquake Archaeological Effects (EAEs), potentially linked to seismic loading. The study has focused on the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (Old temple and New temple), and the Sun and the Moon pyramids, in which visible EAE’s can be observed.

According to the researchers, the EAE’s are likely caused by megathrust earthquakes, for which five destructive ancient earthquakes have been estimated to have struck Teōtīhuacān between the Tzacualli – Miccaotli (AD 100–150), and Metepec (AD 600 ± 50) stages, by matching EAEs and archaeological dates.

Based on the spatial pattern of the EAEs and the orientation of the dipping broken corners (DBC) or chip marks, it is theorised that a series of seismic shocks struct the city from the SW to the NE, indicating a possible origin of a seismic source in the Middle American Trench caused by repetitive megathrust earthquakes.

At least, two strong destructive earthquakes (Intensity VIII-IX) affected Teōtīhuacān in antiquity that impacted the development of the architectural styles. The first one occurred between the years AD 1–150 (Miccaotli phase), and the second one occurred in AD 455 ± 50 (Late Xolalpan-Early Metepec phase).

This was followed by three further damaging earthquakes, for which the latter two occurred around AD 650 before the abandonment of the city the following century.

“This proposal does not conflict with other existing theories for the Teotihuacan abrupt collapse, considering that the sudden overlapping of natural disasters like earthquakes could increase internal warfare (uprising), and civil unrest,” said the study authors.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : Science Direct | Teotihuacan ancient culture affected by megathrust earthquakes during the early Epiclassic Period (Mexico). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2024.104528.

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

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Excavations uncover traces of Kraków Fortress

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A team of archaeologists conducting archaeological works at the S52 construction site have uncovered traces of the Kraków Fortress in the Polish city of Kraków.

S52 is a Polish highway being constructed in the Silesian and Lesser Poland voivodeships, which upon completion will connect the border of the Czech Republic in Cieszyn with Kraków.

Kraków Fortress refers to a series of Austro-Hungarian fortifications constructed during the 19th century. The fortress included the 18th century Kościuszko Insurrection fortifications, the medieval Wawel Castle, and the Kraków city walls. Of the over 50 post-Austrian forts in Krakow, 44 structures have been preserved in their entirety or with minor changes.

Excavations in the area of ​​the northern bypass of Krakow have revealed the remains of earthen structures related to the network of military units being established around the city, whose task was to turn Krakow into a modern border fortress.

The team also uncovered traces of earth embankments and moats, as well as the infrastructure for draining rainwater from the infantry entrenchment area and a wooden shelter from a dugout measuring 25 by 7.5 metres.

A press statement by the Republic of Poland, said: “During the research, objects related to the everyday life of soldiers were discovered. These include a tin enameled mug with a signature on the bottom depicting a double-headed imperial eagle with the inscription Austria and the initials H&C 1/2.”

“The preserved marking allowed us to determine that the mug is a product of the Haardt & Co. factory located in Knittelfeld, Austria. Enamellierwerke und Metallwarenfabriken AG. Founded in 1873 by Friedrich Wilhelm Haardt, the factory produced embossed enamelled dishes, including orders for the then Austrian army.”

Header Image Credit : Republic of Poland

Sources : Republic of Poland

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

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