Late Roman treasure discovered in the Netherlands


One of the gold coins found

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

‘Unique’ fifth century gold treasure found

Today, 13:35

Archaeologists from the Free University of Amsterdam and the National Service for Cultural Heritage have excavated a gold treasure from the fifth century in the Betuwe [region in Gelderland province].

The scientists speak of a unique finding and call it a key piece of knowledge about the final phase of Roman authority in the Netherlands. They think that the treasure was buried around 460 AD, not long before the final fall of the West Roman Empire in 476.

Museum of Nijmegen

Hobbyists found the gold with metal detectors in an orchard in the Betuwe. Subsequently, the excavation work was done by professional archaeologists.

The researchers will come this Friday with more information about the treasure. Soon gold the will be exhibited in Het Valkhof museum in Nijmegen, which will receive the pieces in loan.

See also here.

Emperor Nero gold coin discovered in Jerusalem


Emperor Nero gold coin from Jerusalem

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Gold coin, 2000 years old, has been found in Jerusalem

Today, 21:48

In Jerusalem, archaeologists have made a remarkable discovery. They found a rare gold coin, which is about 2000 years old.

The coin was probably made in the year 56 or 57 AD, CNN reports. The Romans had conquered Jerusalem more than a century earlier . “The coin is noteworthy because it is the first time that such a coin has been found at an excavation,” says archaeologist Shimon Gibson. “Coins like this are usually found in private collections and it is unclear then where the money originated.”

One side of the coin features a portrait of the Roman emperor Nero. Around the portrait it says “Nero Caesar AVG Imp.” At that time, Roman rulers called themselves Caesar in order to indicate that they were emperors. On the side of the coin is ‘EX S C’ and ‘Pontif Max TR P III’. Based on these letters archaeologists were able to determine how old the coin is.

24K

“Because it is a gold coin, there is no rust. Therefore, you can still see everything very well,” said a professor of archeology. “The gold is also of very good quality. We are talking about 24 carats. 99 percent of that coin is gold.”

The location of the find, south of the old town of Jerusalem, suggests that rich people lived in that place at the time of the Roman occupation.

Roman bathhouse discovery in Dutch Limburg


This 2011 video is called Netherlands, Roman Period.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Large bathhouse discovered at luxury Roman villa in Meerssen

Today, 21:35

At a Roman villa in Meerssen after new research traces have been found of a large bathhouse. Luxurious Roman villas used to have private baths more often, but only the largest and most important ones had separate buildings for them.

The research was done using electromagnetic measurements and radar. It can be deduced according to 1Limburg that the bathhouse was 26 by 13 meters. …

Very luxurious villa

The villa in Meerssen was discovered in 1865 by priest and state archivist Joseph Habets. He thought he had found a double bath. Archaeologists now think that it was not a bath, but an ornamental pond. Such ponds were rare, but did occur in very luxurious villas.

This shows, according to the investigators that it was one of the most important Roman villas of the country.

In the South Limburg hills the Romans constructed large farms, supplying grain to cities such as Nijmegen. There are 32 sites of Roman villas protected as national monuments, seventeen of them in South Limburg.

Big Roman coins discovery in Devon, England


This video from England says about itself:

Seaton Down Hoard – 22,000 Roman Coins unearthed in Devon

26 September 2014

The moment Laurence Egerton discovered 22,000 Roman coins on Clinton Devon Estates land.

Read the full story on our website here.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Roman coins unearthed in Devon prompt historians to redraw map of the empire

An archaelogical site in Devon suggests the southwest of England was ‘less backward’ and more influenced by Roman culture than previously thought

Jess Staufenberg

23 June 2016

The boundary of the Roman Empire and its influence in Britain are being re-thought as the full significance of a discovery of coins in Devon begins to sink in.

The southwest of the country, which was previously thought to have rejected Roman influence, may actually have been intricately involved with Mediterranean culture given the presence of the Roman currency denarii, brooches, pottery and a Roman road.

Because the site at Ipplepen, 20 miles from Exeter, has only been excavated during one period every year since its discovery in 2009, archaeologists are only now confident of the significance of the site’s secrets.

In an interview with The Independent, Stephen Rippon, professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Exeter and leader of the excavation, said the site’s 1,000-year history challenged the idea that Devon had been mostly isolated from the Romans.

Instead, natives enjoyed wine and olive oil from eastern Mediterranean amphorae, as well as pottery from northern France and western Germany.

And a road, which suffered from pot holes and was re-surfaced four times to keep it in working order, has also been unearthed and likely continued 12 miles to nearby Totnes.

“The southwest peninsula has always been seen as this backward and remote region of Britain during the Roman Empire ‒ but actually it wasn’t,” Professor Rippon told The Independent.

“What we’re seeing is that these people at Ipplepen were clearly picking and choosing elements of the Roman life and Roman identity that they liked. They have acquired a taste for a Romanised life.”

Prior to this, archaeologists thought Roman influence stopped in Exeter, and the native British who took up its culture were those with Roman style-villas in Dorset and Gloucestershire.

But this Iron Age settlement in Devon proves that Roman trade and culture was seeping into this remote part of England by about the 50s AD under Emperor Claudius and through invasion by the renowned general, Vespasian.

Professor Rippon, however, said that the residents at Ipplepen retained their traditionally circular buildings and did not adopt Roman-style houses.

“One of the aspects of the site that I love is that you get these insights into daily life,” he said.

“The road had ruts in it, for example, which shows they were using horse-drawn carts around here.”

The team of archaeologists have also excavated a post-Roman era cemetery dated from the sixth to eighth century when Christianity had begun to spread across Britain.

The colossal discovery was made after two amateur metal detector enthusiasts, Jim Wills and Dennis Hewings, found a number of silver denarii and entered their findings into a large database called the Portable Antiquity Scheme.

Mr Wills said in 2012 it was “the find of a lifetime”.

“”I found the first Roman coin,” he told the Torquay Herald Express four years ago.

“It was a small silver coin called a denarius. The coin was minted in Rome and was probably brought here by the Romans when they invaded in 43 AD.”

Research into the site, which is being done by the University of Exeter, Portable Antiquity Scheme, the British Museum, Devon County Council and Cotswold Archaeology, will continue into next year.

Members of the public can also help with the excavation by applying at the local visitor centre, according to funding bodies.

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.

Roman shipwreck discovery in Mediterranean


This video says about itself:

Divers Discovered a Spectacular, Ancient and Important Cargo of a Shipwreck – Caesarea

16 May 2016

Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists diving in the ancient harbor in the Caesarea National Park recovered beautiful statues, thousands of coins 1,600 years old and other finds from the seabed. This is the largest assemblage of marine artifacts to be recovered in the past thirty years.

From the Israel Antiquities Authority:

Divers Discovered a Spectacular, Ancient and Important Cargo of a Shipwreck

Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists diving in the ancient harbor in the Caesarea National Park recovered beautiful statues, thousands of coins 1,600 years old and other finds from the seabed.

A fortuitous discovery by two divers in the ancient port of Caesarea in the Caesarea National Park before the Passover holiday led to the exposure of a large, spectacular and beautiful ancient marine cargo of a merchant ship that sank during the Late Roman period 1,600 years ago.

As soon as they emerged from the water divers Ran Feinstein and Ofer Ra‘anan of Ra‘anana contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority and reported the discovery and removal of several ancient items from the sea.

A joint dive at the site together with IAA archaeologists revealed that an extensive portion of the seabed had been cleared of sand and the remains of a ship were left uncovered on the sea bottom: iron anchors, remains of wooden anchors and items that were used in the construction and running of the sailing vessel. An underwater salvage survey conducted in recent weeks with the assistance of many divers from the Israel Antiquities Authority and volunteers using advanced equipment discovered numerous items that were part of the ship’s cargo.

Many of the artifacts are bronze and in an extraordinary state of preservation: a bronze lamp depicting the image of the sun god Sol, a figurine of the moon goddess Luna, a lamp in the image of the head of an African slave, fragments of three life-size bronze cast statues, objects fashioned in the shape of animals such as a whale, a bronze faucet in the form of a wild boar with a swan on its head, etc. In addition, fragments of large jars were found that were used for carrying drinking water for the crew in the ship and for transportation at sea. One of the biggest surprises in particular was the discovery of two metallic lumps composed of thousands of coins weighing c. 20 kilograms which was in the form of the pottery vessel in which they were transported.

This discovery comes a year after the exposure of a treasure of gold Fatimid coins by divers and the Israel Antiquities Authority, which is currently on display for the public in the “Time Travel” presentations in the Caesarea harbor.

According to Jacob Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Dror Planer, deputy director of the unit, “These are extremely exciting finds, which apart from their extraordinary beauty, are of historical significance. The location and distribution of the ancient finds on the seabed indicate that a large merchant ship was carrying a cargo of metal slated recycling, which apparently encountered a storm at the entrance to the harbor and drifted until it smashed into the seawall and the rocks”. A preliminary study of the iron anchors suggests there was an attempt to stop the drifting vessel before it reached shore by casting anchors into the sea; however, these broke – evidence of the power of the waves and the wind which the ship was caught up in”. Sharvit and Planer stress, “A marine assemblage such as this has not been found in Israel in the past thirty years. Metal statues are rare archaeological finds because they were always melted down and recycled in antiquity. When we find bronze artifacts it usually occurs at sea. Because these statues were wrecked together with the ship, they sank in the water and were thus ‘saved’ from the recycling process”. Sharvit and Planer added, “In the many marine excavations that have been carried out in Caesarea only very small number of bronze statues have been found, whereas in the current cargo a wealth of spectacular statues were found that were in the city and were removed from it by way of sea. The sand protected the statues; consequently they are in an amazing state of preservation – as though they were cast yesterday rather than 1,600 years ago”. The coins that were discovered bear the image of the emperor Constantine who ruled the Western Roman Empire (312–324 CE) and was later known as Constantine the Great, ruler of the Roman Empire (324–337 CE), and of Licinius, an emperor who ruled the eastern part of the Roman Empire and was a rival of Constantine, until his downfall in a battle that was waged between the two rulers.

According [to] Sharvit and Planer, “The range of finds recovered from the sea reflects the large volume of trade and the status of Caesarea’s harbor during this time, which was known as period of economic and commercial stability in the wake of the stability of the Roman Empire. The crew of the shipwreck lived in a fascinating time in history that greatly influenced humanity – the period when Christianity was on its way to becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire. It was at this time that Emperor Constantine put a halt to the policy of persecuting Christians, and the faithful in Caesarea, as well as elsewhere in the Roman Empire, were given the legitimacy to practice their belief through the famous Edict of Milan that proclaimed Christianity was no longer a banned religion.”

Many Roman coins discovered in Spain


Some of the Roman coins found in Sevilla, photo © Gogo Lobato / AFP

From the Olive Press site in Spain:

Jackpot: Historic 600kg haul of ancient Roman coins unearthed in Sevilla

The haul is said to be worth at least several million euros

By Laurence Dollimore (Reporter)

29 April, 2016 @ 10:06

LAST UPDATED: 29 April, 2016 @ 11:09

MORE than 600kg of Roman coins worth at least ‘several million euros’ have been unearthed in Sevilla.

The haul was discovered during routine building works close to Zaudin Park in Tomares, and feature emperors Maximian and Constantine on one side and roman allegories on the other.

They are thought to have been payments destined for the army or civil servants and date back to the late third and early fourth centuries.

Builders found the coins, which seemed almost untouched, stored in 19 Roman jars.

Researchers believe they did not make it into circulation owing to the lack of wear and tear.

Building has been suspended so the site can can excavated.

See also here.

Roman coins found under Swiss molehill


This video says about itself:

19 November 2015

A Swiss farmer has discovered a huge trove of ancient Roman coins in his cherry orchard.

The stash of more than 4,000 bronze and silver coins is believed to have been buried some 1,700 years ago.

Weighing around 15kg (33lb), he discovered the coins after spotting something shimmering in a molehill.

The regional archaeological service said the coin trove was one of the biggest such finds in Swiss history.

The trove was unearthed in July in Ueken in the northern canton of Aargau.

Since a Roman settlement was discovered in the nearby town of Fick, just a few months before, he suspected the coins might be of Roman origin.

The farmer contacted the regional archaeological service who, after months of careful excavation, announced on Thursday that 4,166 coins had been found in excellent condition.

Some of the coins date from AD 274 and the rule of Emperor Aurelian. The find also included coins from the time of Emperor Maxim[i]an in 294.

Swiss archaeologist Georg Matter, who worked on the excavation, said what they found within the first three days “exceeded all expectations by far”.

“As an archaeologist one rarely experiences something like this more than once in your career,” he told Spiegel Online.

Coin expert Hugo Doppler said the coins were in such good condition it was clear they “were taken out of circulation right after they were minted.”

He believes the owners hoarded the coins because “the the silver contained in them guaranteed a certain value retention in a time of economic uncertainty.”

Big Roman army camp discovery in north Germany


Roman coin, discovered near Wilkenburg

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Big Roman camp discovered in Germany

Today, 16:27

German archaeologists have south of Hannover discovered traces of a large Roman encampment. The temporary camp near Wilkenburg village dates from around the year 0

That year does not exist in usual calanders. After 1 BC comes immediately 1 AD. However, there is a year 0 in some astronomy.

and could house at least 20,000 soldiers. “It is one of the largest Roman camps on the right bank of the Rhine” says researcher Salvatore Ortisi of the University of Osnabrück.

The scientists were studying aerial photos and started to suspect that there must have been a camp at that location. For science the discovery is of great importance since it is the first known Roman encampment on the North German Plain. It is tangible evidence of the Roman presence in this area.

Excavations have found nails of sandals and copper money, in which the soldiers were paid. Around the camp a canal was dug which became narrower towards the bottom. Also, the location of the entrance has been found. According to Ortisi the camp has been in use at most for three days. Then the army would continue, bivouacking again.

Ermelo

Ermelo [in Gelderland province in the Netherlands; also north of the official Roman empire border] also had a Roman marching camp. Dating back to the second century that camp also had a V-shaped moat. The camp in Ermelo had space for 5,000 soldiers.

Roman mosaic discovery in Italy


This video says about itself:

14 January 2008

A short film about Roman mosaics. The film shows a series of Roman mosaics and information about their construction.

From Discovery News:

Ancient Roman Mosaic Found in Tuscany

Oct 6, 2015 02:30 PM ET // by Rossella Lorenzi

Italian archaeologists digging in a small Tuscan village have unearthed part of what they believe is a large and impressive ancient Roman mosaic.

Laying in a private property next to a local road in the village Capraia e Limite, the mosaic features two different designs. One, dating to the second half of the 4th century AD, features geometric patterns framed by floral motifs, the other, dating to the 5th century AD, boasts octagons decorated with animals, flowers and a human bust.

The large mosaic graced the floor of a luxurious Roman villa that stood in the Tuscan countryside for four centuries, from the 1st to the beginning of the 6th century AD.

“Evidence of this villa was first found in 1983, when workers digging to build an orchard unearthed some black and white mosaic fragments and, most interestingly, an inscription mentioning one of the owners of the complex,” Lorella Alderighi of the Archaeological Superintendency of Tuscany, told Discovery News.

The inscribed slab of stone referred to Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, one of the most famous pagan senators of the later fourth century AD. He came from an ancient and noble family and died in 384 while serving as the praetorian prefect at the court of Emperor Valentinian II.

It is well known that Vettius Agorius Praetextatus owned villas in Tuscany — and liked them very much.

“The Roman statesman and orator Quintus Aurelius Symmachus even complained in his letters that Vettius enjoyed too much opium in his estates in Etruria, instead of dealing with politics in Rome,” Federico Cantini, the archaeologist of the University of Pisa who led the dig, told Discovery News.

Built in the first century, the villa in Capraia e Limite had its most glorious time in the 4th century AD, when Vettius Agorius Praetextatus rebuilt it according to luxurious standards. By the beginning of the 6th century AD it was completely abandoned and plundered.

“Luckily, they could not remove the mosaics,” Alderighi said.

Excavations in 2013 brought to light a stunning oval mosaic with a wild boar hunting scene which dates to the second half of the 4th century AD.

Because of legal issues and lack of funding, the mosaic was covered soon after its discovery in order to preserve it. The finding prompted new archaeological investigations.

“We speculated the mosaic floor extends further, thus we tested the hypothesis with a survey dig,” Cantini said.

The excavation proved Cantini and his team were right.

Parts of two floor mosaics came to light. The older one consisted of geometric patterns framed by red decorations with acanthus and vine leaves in various shades of grey, blue and black. The other displayed scenes with animals, flowers, geometric patterns framed by octagons. Catching the attention at the center of one of such octagons, is the bust of a man with a tunic and large eyes.

“We believe it is not a portrait, but just a decoration,” Alderighi said.

According to the archaeologists, the investigated portion of the villa had an hexagonal structure with rooms opening onto a central hall.

“We estimate the size of the floor mosaic to be about 300 square meters (984 square feet). We only have unearthed one-eighth of it,” Cantini said.

Unfortunately, most of the mosaic lies beneath an industrial shed. Although the archaeologists believe the artwork is still intact, it is unlikely it will be brought to light in the near future.

The newly unearthed mosaics have been already covered for preservation — just like the mosaic with the hunting scene.

“Our goal is to open these beautiful artworks to the public. We are working to make this happen,” Alessandro Giunti, mayor of Capraia e Limite, said.

He added that the first mosaic to be restored and displayed will be the one showing the wild boar hunting scene.