Roman writing-tablets discovery in London, England


This video from England says about itself:

31 May 2016

Archaeologists from MOLA found 400+ fragments of ancient Roman writing-tablets on the site of the new Bloomberg London building. The discovery was the largest and earliest collection of its kind in Britain. The tablets were used for note taking, tallying accounts, correspondence, and legal matters.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Britain’s oldest hand-written document unearthed in London dig

Following excavation of the site for Bloomberg’s new European headquarters, archaeologists in London have revealed a dizzying array of Roman-era, handwritten tablets.

By Jason Thomson

June 1, 2016

Archaeologists in London have announced the discovery of a trove of ancient documents, including one from 57 AD, the earliest recorded example of a handwritten document anywhere in Britain.

The artifacts, dating from the earliest days of Roman London, were found during excavations for Bloomberg’s new European headquarters, and they have already more than quadrupled the number of legible Roman writing tablets ever unearthed in the city, with hundreds yet to be analyzed.

While the tablets may be the most exciting find, they represent the tip of a rich archaeological iceberg, excavators from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) having uncovered 50 Roman buildings and 15,000 Roman artifacts.

“You never know quite what you’re going to find with archaeology,” said MOLA’s Sophie Jackson in a video chronicling the find. “We were hopeful with the Bloomberg site because it’s right in the heart of the city of London…. What we actually found completely blew us away.”

The site yielded 405 writing tablets. Originally, the tablets comprised blackened beeswax nestled into recesses in wooden frames. The wax has long since decomposed, but the wood, against expectations, survived.

Normally, such ancient wood rarely survives burial in the ground, but rotting was prevented by the wet mud of the Walbrook river, a river now buried but visible to Londoners of the Roman era.

As such, these wooden segments can reveal letters that made their way through the wax as they were inscribed, leaving impressions in the underlying wood. Previously, only 19 legible tablets were known to have been found in London, but the Bloomberg find has already added 87.

One of them, dated to 65 AD, is “the first time we have London mentioned, ever, in history,” as Ms. Jackson describes it. London was initially founded only a couple of decades earlier, after the Roman invasion of 43 AD, then destroyed in a Celtic rebellion headed by Queen Boudica in 61 AD.

As this tablet illustrates, talking of mundane financial matters only four years later, the city wasted no time in rising again from the ashes of destruction.

The task of deciphering the tablets is painstaking. First, multiple photos are taken at various angles, each trying to tease out shadows from the vestiges of letters. These pictures can then be layered on top of one another, creating an image with as intricate a portrayal of the letters as possible.

It then falls to Roger Tomlin, an expert in Roman cursive, to analyze the shapes and discern meaning, if any is to be found.

“You must have an imagination,” explains Dr. Tomlin, in the same video, “but you must control it rigidly.”

The tablets have been conserved by MOLA specialists, employing a mix of polyethylene glycol – also used to preserve the Tudor flagship, Mary Rose – and freeze drying.

More than 700 artifacts from the dig will be on display in an exhibition within the new Bloomberg building, once it opens.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

British ex-abbot, suspected of child abuse, arrested


This 14 May 2016 video is called Accused UK priest held in Kosovo.

From the BBC today:

UK priest wanted over sex abuse claims held in Kosovo

1 hour ago

A British former Catholic priest wanted over child sex abuse allegations has been arrested in Kosovo, local police sources say.

Lawrence Soper was being hunted over sex offences allegedly committed at St Benedict’s School in Ealing where he taught in the 1970s and 80s.

He was arrested in 2010 and bailed, but failed to return to a London police station in March 2011.

A European Arrest Warrant was issued for him in 2012.

After teaching at St Benedict’s, Mr Soper became abbot of Ealing Abbey, which had founded the school and supplied monks to teach there. …

In June 2010, a man then in his 40s made an allegation of sexual assault at St Benedict’s School in Ealing, west London, that was also attended by actor Andy Serkis and comedian Julian Clary.

From the Daily Telegraph in Britain today:

In March 2011, F[athe]r Soper was believed to have been living in a monastery in Rome and was due to return to London to answer bail.

However, he failed to show up, sparking an international search.