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Archaeologists find Roman defensive wall built to trap Spartacus

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A team of archaeologists, led by Dr. Paolo Visona of the University of Kentucky, have discovered a Roman defensive wall built to trap Spartacus in south-central Calabria, southern Italy.

Most historical accounts of Spartacus comes from the writings of Plutarch of Chaeronea (AD 46 – 119 AD) and Appian of Alexandria (AD 95 -165). According to their texts, Spartacus was an escaped slave and former gladiator, who led a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic.

The seeds of the uprising began in 73 BC, when Spartacus and a group of gladiators escaped a gladiatorial school (ludus) somewhere near Capua in the region of Campania. They roamed the surrounding countryside and freed slaves to swell their ranks, amassing an army of around 70,000 people.

The rebellion posed a significant challenge to Roman authority, forcing the Senate to send a force of eight legions led by Marcus Licinius Crassus. Spartacus’ forces were defeated in 71 BC in the Senerchia region, which at that time was part of Lucania.

Plutarch and Appian both state that Spartacus died in battle, however, Appian also adds that the body was never found. In the aftermath of the revolt, 6,000 surviving rebels were crucified along the Appian Way, serving as a stark deterrent against any further thoughts of rebellion or sedition.

A recent study of the Dossone della Melia forest in south-central Calabria has uncovered a stone wall and earthwork extending over 2.7 km. Additionally, traces of a Roman fossa (defensive ditch) and an agger (double rampart or embankment) system have also been identified.

According to a statement by the Archaeological Institute of America: “The wall has now been conclusively identified as part of the structures built by the Roman general Marcus Licinius Crassus to contain the slave revolt leader Spartacus and his forces.”

Spartacus’ death by Hermann Vogel (1882) – Public Domain

Excavations have also unearthed numerous broken iron weapons, sword handles, large curved blades, javelin points, a spearhead, and other metal debris, indicating a pitched battle at the site between the Romans and Spartacus’ forces to break free of the trap.

According to Dr. Visona: “The discovery was made possible by a tip from a local group of environmentalists who knew of the wall’s existence but were puzzled as to what it could be. The team investigated the wall and ditch using Ground-Penetrating Radar, LIDAR, magnetometry, and soil core sampling.”

Header Image Credit : Archaeological Institute of America

Sources : Archaeological Institute of America

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

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Archaeology

Gold foils discovered in Ancient Egyptian tombs

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Archaeologists from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities have discovered rare gold foils during excavations at Tel El-Dir.

Tel El-Dir is a burial complex in the area of Egypt’s Damietta Governorate. The site contains various burials and tombs from the 26th Dynasty (664 BC to 525 BC), the last native dynasty of ancient Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC.

Excavations of 63 mud brick tombs and pit burials have revealed a large collection of funerary offerings, including rare gold foils depicting Ancient Egyptian deities, and foils shaped like symbols associated with good fortune and protection.

The team also found foils in the shape of tongues, a tradition that enabled the deceased to speak before the court of Osiris in the afterlife.

Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

The discovery follows on from a previous haul in 2022, where archaeologists excavating at Tel El-Dir found gold foils depicting Isis, Bastet and Horus (in the form of a winged falcon), as well as foils in various shapes.

According to a press statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, many of the tombs contained funeral pyres, imported and local ceramics, and Ushabti statues (figurines placed with the deceased to serve them in the afterlife).

The excavation has also yielded a large number of funerary offerings, such as protective amulets, figurines, coins, and a mirror.

Speaking on the finds, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities explained that the objects confirm that Damietta was a centre of trade during ancient times, and provides new insights into the burial practices during the 26th Dynasty.

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Sources : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

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

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Archaeology

New findings at world-famous Mesolithic site of Star Carr

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A recent study by archaeologists from the University of York and the University of Newcastle has revealed new insights into the domestic activities of the Mesolithic inhabitants of Star Carr.

Star Carr is one of the most significant and informative Mesolithic sites in Europe, which during prehistoric times was situated near the outflow at the western end of a palaeolake known as Lake Flixton.

Today, Star Carr lies at the eastern end of the Vale of Pickering near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England.

Using microscopic evidence from the use of stone tools, the researchers found that a range of domestic activities took place in three previously excavated structures. This includes activities related to working with bone, antler, hide, meat, and fish.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, used a combination of spatial and microwear data to provide different scales of interpretation: from individual tool use to patterns of activity across the three structures.

Dr Jess Bates, from the University of York’s Department of Archaeology said: “We found that there were distinct areas for different types of activity, so the messy activity involving butchery, for example, was done in what appears to be a designated space, and separate to the ‘cleaner’ tasks such as crafting bone and wooden objects, tools or jewellery.

“This was surprising as hunter-gatherers are known for being very mobile, as they would have to travel out to find food, and yet they have a very organised approach to creating not just a house but a sense of home.

“This new work, on these very early forms of houses suggests, that these dwellings didn’t just serve a practical purpose in the sense of having a shelter from the elements, but that certain social norms of a home were observed that are not massively dissimilar to how we organise our homes today.”

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : Bates J, Milner N, Conneller C, Little A (2024) Spatial organisation within the earliest evidence of post-built structures in Britain. PLoS ONE 19(7): e0306908. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0306908

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

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