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Archaeologists find forum from unknown Roman city

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Archaeologists from the University of Zaragoza have uncovered a Roman forum at the La Cabañeta archaeological site in the Zaragoza municipality of El Burgo de Ebro, Spain.

The forum was the civic centre of a Roman city (the name of which is unknown), however, the researchers suggest that it may have been Castra Aelia that the Roman historian, Titus Livy, cites when recounting the 77 BC campaign of General Quintus Sertorius through Hispanic lands.

In a brief fragment of book XCI of the History of Rome, Titus Livy describes Castra Aelia as being an oppidum where Sertorius installed his winter quarters after the successful siege of the Celtiberian city of Contrebia during the Republic Era.

Castra Aelia was founded around 200 BC and was destroyed during the Sertorian War, a military campaign undertaken against Sertorius, loyal to Gaius Marius, by the generals Metellus Pius and Pompey the Great.

Speaking to exibart, Borja Díaz, said: “It was a city laid out according to a clear orthogonal urban planning. Furthermore, a significant number of Latin inscriptions made on ceramics and stone were found. which demonstrates that the people who lived there wrote and spoke in Latin.”

Situated in a strategic position, the city at La Cabañeta may have been an entry and redistribution point for goods arriving across the river, however, around the year 70 BC (corresponding with the period of the Sertorian War), the city was raised to the ground, evidenced by a context layer of burning and destruction.

According to the researchers, very few Roman cities from the Republic Era offer a clear image of Roman urban planning, however, the forum discovery at La Cabañeta provides valuable insights into the formative phase of the urban model that would later become the standard for Roman cities.

Header Image Credit : University of Zaragoza

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Archaeology

Early medieval carved stone of a warrior figure found in Glasgow

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Archaeologists excavating the grounds of Govan Old Church in Glasgow, England, have discovered an early medieval carved stone figure dubbed the “Govan Warrior”.

Govan Old Church is the home of the Govan Stone Museum, a collection of early medieval and Viking-Age sculptures found in the grounds, including 30 sculptures from a lost kingdom of Old Welsh-speaking Britons known as the Ystrad Clud who dominated the Clyde valley from the 5th to 11th centuries AD.

Excavations have been conducted by the University of Glasgow and Clyde Archaeology, in which a carved stone of a warrior was uncovered during a community fun day organised as part of the Glasgow Doors Open Days Festival.

The carved stone depicts a man standing side on and carrying a round shield and a shaft. According to the researchers, the discovery dates from around 1,000-years-ago and is unlike any of the other carved stones found at Govan Old.

According to a press statement by the University of Glasgow: “The Govan Warrior is unique within the existing collection due to its stylistic characteristics, which has drawn parallels with Pictish art and carvings from the Isle of Man. Unlike the other stones in the Govan collection, whose chunky style of carving is so distinctive that it has been described as a school of carving in its own right (the ‘Govan School’), the Govan Warrior is lightly incised, which may bring parallels with famous Pictish stones like the Rhynie Man from Aberdeenshire.”

Professor Stephen Driscoll said: “It’s a style that makes us think both about the Pictish world and also about the Isle of Man and it’s interesting that we are halfway between these two places. Govan is the ideal place for these two artistic traditions or styles to come together.”

University of Glasgow

Header Image Credit : Govan Heritage Trust

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Iron Age port discovered on Baltic Sea island of Gotska Sandön

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An excavation project, in collaboration with archaeologists from Södertörn University, Uppsala University’s Campus Gotland, Gotland Museum, and the Swedish National Heritage Board, has led to the discovery of an Iron Age port on Gotska Sandön.

Gotska Sandön is an island and national park in Sweden’s Gotland County, situated 24 miles north of Faro in the Baltic Sea.

Earlier in 2023, archaeologists found two 2,000-year-old Roman coins on one of the island’s beaches. Both coins are made of silver, with one coin dating from AD 98-117 during the reign of Emperor Trajan, and the other coin dating from AD 138-161 during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius

In the latest excavations, archaeologists have now discovered evidence of twenty hearths on the same beach as the Roman coins discovery.

According to Johan Rönnby, a professor of marine archaeology at Södertörn University, the site is an Iron Age port, not in the sense of quays we imply in the modern era, but instead a place where Iron Age people regularly landed their boats and formed an encampment.

Although the purpose of the encampment is speculated, the researchers suggest that it may have been linked to an emerging seal hunting industry.

“Seal hunters may have come from the island of Gotland and landed on Sandön to boil seal blubber. This could have been what the hearths were used for, but we don’t yet know – there may be other reasons why the site looks like it does, such as it being a trading post,” said Rönnby.

Excavations and carbon-14 dating of one of the hearths has indicated that they also date from 2,000-years-ago, suggesting a possible link between the encampment and the Roman coins.

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Header Image Credit : idw

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