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Lump of Tyrian purple uncovered at Carlisle excavation

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Archaeologists from the Uncovering Roman Carlisle project have discovered a rare lump of Tyrian purple at the grounds of the Carlisle Cricket Club in Carlisle, England.

The project is a community supported excavation by Wardell Armstrong, focusing on uncovering a Roman bath house found in 2017.

The bath house is located near the Roman fort of Uxelodunum (meaning “high fort”), also known as Petriana, in the Carlisle district of Stanwix.

Uxelodunum was constructed to control the territories west of present-day Carlisle and an important crossing on the River Eden. The fort was garrisoned by the Ala Petriana, a 1,000-strong cavalry unit, whose members were all granted Roman citizenship for valour on the field.

Previous excavations at the bath house have discovered colossal sandstone heads depicting Roman gods, in addition to engraved gems known as intaglios, figurines, animal bones, and imperial-stamped tiles.

During the latest season of excavations, archaeologists found a mysterious lump of a soft purple substance. The substance was tested by researchers from Newcastle University, revealing that it contained levels of Bromine and beeswax.

According to the researchers, the substance is Tyrian purple, a coloured dye associated with the Imperial Court in the Roman Empire. Tyrian purple is secreted by several species of predatory sea snails in the family Muricidae, rock snails originally known by the name Murex.

Frank Giecco, Technical Director at Wardell Armstrong, said: “For millennia, Tyrian Purple was the world’s most expensive and sought after colour. It’s presence in Carlisle combined with other evidence from the excavation all strengthens the hypothesis that the building was in some way associated with the Imperial Court of the Emperor Septimius Severus which was located in York and possibly relates to an Imperial visit to Carlisle.”

“It’s the only example we know of in Northern Europe – possibly the only example of a solid sample of the pigment in the form of unused paint pigment anywhere in the Roman Empire. Examples have been found of it in wall paintings (like in Pompeii) and some high status painted coffins from the Roman province of Egypt,” said Giecco.

Header Image Credit : Wardell Armstrong

Sources : Wardell Armstrong

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

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Archaeology

Study reveals new insights into life at “German Stonehenge”

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Excavations of the Ringheiligtum Pömmelte, nicknamed the “German Stonehenge”, has revealed new insights into domestic life from prehistory.

Ringheiligtum Pömmelte is a late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age henge from the late third millennium BC. The monument features seven concentric rings made of palisades, ditches, and raised banks, each containing a series of wooden posts.

The site was discovered in 1991 through aerial photography near the present-day village of Pömmelte in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.

From 2018 to 2022, archaeologists have excavated nearly 140 ancient dwellings dating from 2,800 BC to 2,200 BC. The older dwellings are linked to the Corded Ware and the Bell Beaker culture, while the more recent ones are associated with the Únětice Culture.

In a recent study conducted by the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) of Saxony-Anhalt, archaeologists are employing various scientific methods to offer new insights into the site’s ritual and settlement landscape.

The study has identified house locations of the Corded Ware culture (26th to 23rd century BC), and an associated settlement pit containing ceramic sherds, an axe head and flint blades. Until now, Corded Ware settlement could only be attributed to individual finds that had been relocated, and not to actual structures on the site.

Also associated with the Corded Ware culture is a storage area with 78 grain silo pits that held various types of gain, including wheat, barley, and spelt. Archaeologists already know that Corded Ware people lived on a balanced diet with animal products, further indicated by drinking vessels from burials at Ringheiligtum Pömmelte that contained traces of dairy products.

While the scientific analyses and the interpretation of the results with various specialists continue, excavations at Pömmelte will last until mid-July 2024.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt

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

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Archaeology

3,400-year-old shipwreck found with cargo mostly intact

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Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit have discovered a 3,400-year-old shipwreck with the cargo mostly intact.

The site was first identified during an underwater survey by Energean, an energy company searching for natural gas deposits beneath the Mediterranean Sea Floor.

This led to the discovery of the shipwreck and its cargo at a depth of 1.8 kilometers, along with its cargo that consists of Late Bronze Age Canaanite storage vessels.

IAA archaeologists, in collaboration with Energean, have used the deep sea exploratory vessel, “Energean Star” to conduct a visual inspection of the wreck site. This has revealed hundreds of ceramic vessels on the seabed, and a muddy layer which likely conceals a second layer and the wooden beams of the ship.

Jacob Sharvit, Head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit, explains, “The ship seems to have sunk in crisis, either due to a storm or to an attempted piracy attack – a well-known occurrence in the Late Bronze Age. This is both the first and the oldest ship found in the Eastern Mediterranean deep sea, ninety kilometres from the nearest shore.”

Image Credit : IAA

Only two other ships from this period have been found – the boat from Cape Gelidonya and the Uluburun boat; both found off the Turkish coast. Both ships were found near the shore, suggesting that shipping routes followed the coastline between ports. However, this new discovery changes the understanding of ancient marine trade, demonstrating that ancient shipping also extended into deep waters.

“The ship is preserved at such a great depth that time has frozen since the moment of disaster – its body and contexts have not been disturbed by human hand (divers, fishermen, etc.); nor affected by waves and currents which do impact shipwrecks in shallower waters,” added Sharvit.

Header Image Credit : IAA

Sources : Israel Antiquities Authority

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

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