Archive for December, 2020

Restored Mausoleum of August opens in March

Sunday, December 20th, 2020

On March 1st, 2021, the Mausoleum of Augustus will open to the public again after 14 years of closure, decades more of neglect and centuries of assorted mutilations. Visitors will have to reserve their slots online (advanced bookings can be made starting Monday) and entry will be free until April 21st, Rome’s birthday. For residents of Rome, entry will free for all of 2021. Starting April 21st, visitors will enjoy new VR content added to the tour. If it’s anything like as good as the VR experience at the Domus Aurea, that will definitely be worth waiting for, particularly since so much of the ancient structure and contents are lost.

At 295 feet in diameter, Augustus’ Mausoleum was then and is still today the largest circular tomb in the world. More than 135 feet high at its peak, it towered over the Campus Martius, even eclipsing the height of the nearby Pincian Hill. It was the first dynastic tomb in Rome and the only one until Hadrian copied his predecessor and built what is now the iconic Castel Sant’Angelo.

Augustus buried a lot of his family in the new tomb before his remains joined them in 14 A.D. Claudius was the last of the Julian-Claudian emperors buried there in 54 A.D. The last emperor whose remains were honored with inclusion in Augustus’ mausoleum was Nerva in 98 A.D. (Vespasian was in there for a second but only temporarily.) The tomb was one of Rome’s most important landmarks until it was looted in 410 A.D. when the Visigoths sacked Rome.

In the centuries after that it was stripped, fortified, burned, excavated, landscaped, converted into an arena for animal fights and a theater for Rome’s orchestra conducted by Arturo Toscanini. Mussolini tore all of that down in the misguided attempt to return the mausoleum to its original state, only of course he didn’t know what he was doing and ended up damaging it far more than the Visigoths and buffalo fights ever did. By the 70s it was so structurally unsound that it had to be closed off and the piazza was used as a bus terminus.

As ever in Rome, plans for restoration were bandied about for years before they finally became reality in 2017. At that time the projected completion date was 2019. That came and went. Then this year did the thing this year did, so really it’s something of a miracle that the Mausoleum of Augustus will open in early 2021. The last step the city has to take to complete the plan for the piazza is to move the bus terminus elsewhere. Once that’s done, Piazzale Augusto Imperatore will be pedestrian only and Augustus’ tomb and the Ara Pacis next to it will be a comfy stroll.

The mausoleum website has a misnamed “virtual experience” that will have to do for the rest of us right now. It’s the history of the tomb arranged in chapters against the backdrop of a few barely-animated models of the mausoleum at different times in its history. The content can be accessed by dragging your mouse around a lot or via menu in the upper left of the screen and dragging your mouse around a little. Within the chapters you can navigate using the Previous and Next buttons.

Chapter 1 is a truncated mini-bio of Augustus with brief blurbs about his childhood, his adoption by Julius Caesar and the appearance of a comet considered a portent of Caesar’s divinity. Chapter 2 is about the construction of the mausoleum. It’s short on detail, but it does effectively explain how Augustus started work on it when he was just 30 years old in the wake of his victory over Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium. It was a declaration of Augustus’ undying loyalty to Rome, in contrast to Antony’s final direction in his will that he be buried with Cleopatra in Alexandria.

Highlights of the rest of the “experience” are Chapter 3 about how the tomb and Ara Pacis defined this area of the Campus Martius in the Imperial era, Chapter 7 which covers the wrongs done to it in the Middle Ages (eg, Tiberius’ urn was used as a water bucket by monks), Chapter 9 about its conversion into an arena, and Chapter 11 about its transformation into an Art Nouveau theater in the early 20th century. There are a couple of great photographs of its interior that I had never seen before.


Oldest place name sign deciphered

Saturday, December 19th, 2020

An inscription on a rock from the late fourth millennium B.C. has been discovered to be the oldest known place name sign. The four hieroglyphs read “Domain of the Horus King Scorpion,” whose name was used in vain in several The Mummy spinoffs in the early oughts. The four symbols are a leafy plant, a scorpion, a solar disk and two concentric circles on the right. The circular hieroglyph is what marks it as a place name.

The inscribed rock was discovered two years ago in the Wadi Abu Subeira, the bed of an extinct river in the desert east of Aswan. The site is known for its profusion of Late Palaeolithic petroglyphs and is under constant threat from erosion and mining activities. Archaeological exploration of the location is still in comparative infancy. University of Bonn researchers led by Egyptologist Dr. Ludwig D. Morenz have been working with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities for several years to document ancient and prehistoric rock carvings.

There are very few sources about the political, social and economic conditions under which people lived more than five thousand years ago. “This is precisely why the new discovery of the rock inscription is so valuable,” says the Egyptologist. The very early use of the cultural practice of writing in this rather remote place is unusual for the fourth millennium B.C. Despite its brevity, the inscription opens a window into the world of the emergence of the Egyptian state and the culture associated with it. Morenz: “For the first time, the process of internal colonization in the Nile Valley becomes more visible by writing.”

According to the researcher, Egypt was the first territorial state worldwide. “There were already ruling systems elsewhere before, but these were much smaller,” says Morenz. It has been known for some time that the north-south extension of Egypt at that time was already around 800 kilometers. “In fact, several rival population centers merged into the new central state,” says Morenz. Royal estates, known as domains, were founded on the periphery of the empire in order to consolidate the pharaonic empire. […]

Various names of economic entities (domains) are already known from smaller text carriers such as labels for goods deliveries, cylinder seals and container labels. The rock inscription makes such a royal domain tangible as a concrete archaeological place for the first time. In addition to various rock carvings, other early rock inscriptions were discovered here and found together with pottery from this period. “This area is still in the early stages of archaeological investigation,” says Morenz. The researchers see this as an opportunity to take a closer look at the momentous process of the world’s first state emergence. This included the expansion and securing of the dominion at the edges in the Nile valley and the consolidation of the then new kind of kingship.


Roman lady is London’s highest-status burial

Friday, December 18th, 2020

Spitalfields market in London’s East End was excavated between 1991 and 2007, an ambitious undertaking that opened the largest area of London ever to be archaeologically explored at one time. Finds ranged in date from Roman London to the late 19th century, and it has taken another 13 years to fully document, conserve, research and publish the more than 6,000 artifacts, 174 Roman burials and 10,500 medieval burials unearthed at the site during the 16 years of excavations.

In the Roman era, what would become the Spitalfields area was a burial ground outside the city walls now known as the northern cemetery. A total of 493 burials have been documented at the cemetery. One burial, unearthed in 1999, was an immediate standout: a stone sarcophagus containing a lead sarcophagus which in turn contained the remains of a young woman from the late 4th century. It was the first unopened sarcophagus to be discovered in London for more than a century. That it held a second coffin, an extremely rare lead one at that, made it even more significant.

The stone sarcophagus, seven feet long, four feet wide and weighing two tons on its own, was transported with all its contents to the Museum of London. It was opened to reveal the lead coffin elaborately decorated in a pattern of scallop shells set in triangles and diamonds created by crossed beaded straps soldered to the lid. Grave goods of fine blown glass unguentaria (perfume vessels) of continental manufacture were buried with her between the lead coffin and the stone sarcophagus. One is a double conical shape (what looks like two long tubes that widen to conical shapes sealed together at the wide ends); the other is an extremely fine light green glass cylinder with a unique zig-zag decoration of glass strands. No others of its kind have been found before anywhere else in the Roman Empire. Other grave goods include a long jet rod which was the dipstick for the cylindrical glass unguentarium, a jet box and jet rings, all likely part of a cosmetic kit.

The deceased was 5’3″ tall and of petite build. Isotope analysis of her teeth traced her early childhood to the city of Rome. As a child of around four or five years old, she was struck with a serious illness that interrupted the growth of her tooth enamel. She was in her early twenties when she died. The likeliest culprit is childbirth, but there is no direct evidence of what killed her.

Organic remains in the lead coffin indicate her head was placed upon a pillow of fresh bay leaves imported from the Mediterranean. She was embalmed with fine oils and pine and pistachio resin were used as air fresheners in the coffin. Analysis of clothing fragments in the lead coffin found she was laid to rest in the most luxurious garment made of Chinese damask silk and 97% pure gold thread. Wool bands that are now dark brown were probably originally purple and experts believe it was the famous Tyrian purple made from the Murex sea snail.

The ultra-high status nature of her funerary clothing, the probable purple dye, her stone sarcophagus, her grave goods and the fact that she was brought up in Rome, all suggest that her family was probably of senatorial or equestrian rank.

Her grave is by far the most high status ever found in Roman Londinium. In late Roman London, there would have been only a very limited number of individuals of that sort of background.

It is therefore conceivable that she was either the wife of a governor of Flavia Caesariensis (the British province covering what is now the English Midlands, East Anglia, and southern England, north of the Thames) or, possibly, that she was the wife of one of the overall bosses of late Roman Britain (a so-called vicarius Britanniarum – Britain’s imperial “viceroy”).

The style of her grave goods and other evidence reveals that she almost certainly died in the four or five decades after around AD360.


Huge trove of antiquities seized from French looter

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

A total of more than 27,400 ancient coins and artifacts have been seized from a French metal detectorist. The collection of objects stolen from heritage sites in France is so enormous it makes him one of the greatest one-man looting operations in European history.

The story starts in September 2019 when a French national identified only as Patrice T declared to Belgian authorities that he’d discovered Roman coins while scanning an orchard he’d recently acquired in Gingelom, 40 miles east of Brussels. Flanders heritage agency archaeologist Marleen Martens expected him to present a handful of pieces. When he pulled two large plastic buckets filled to the brim with what turned out to be 14,154 ancient coins out of the trunk of his car, Martens’ spidey sense started tingling.

Initial examination of the contents of the buckets found a wide array coins dating as far back as the 1st century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D., a variety and significance that made the man’s orchard story highly implausible, to say the least. She inspected the supposed find site and found hard evidence that the story was a lie: the pit that supposedly held more than 14,000 Roman coins had been dug in a soil layer formed in the Middle Ages.

He had at least one glaring reason to conjure up a fairy tale discovery. Belgium’s cultural heritage laws allow landowners to keep any archaeological material unearthed on private property. Under French law, these types of finds are considered national patrimony and therefore property of the state.

Flanders heritage authorities reported their suspicions to the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (DRAC) who relayed them to the investigation branch of French customs (DNRED). Under questioning, the Frenchman confessed that he had in fact illegally excavated the coins from archaeological sites in eastern France over the course of years, that he had acquired the orchard in Belgium to launder his loot.

After a year-long investigation, DNRED agents accompanied by DRAC archaeologists raided the man’s house and discovered an unexpectedly diverse and valuable group of artifacts including Bronze and Iron Age bangles and torques, Roman fibulae, Merovingian, high Medieval and Renaissance belt buckles, pieces of statues, more Roman coins plus Gallic coins that can only have been looted from certain known archaeological sites. This guy even got his grubby hands on a Roman dodecahedron, an extremely rare artifact (only 100 are known to exist) whose purpose remains an archaeological mystery to this day. A total of 13,246 artifacts were seized in the raid on his home and from several safety deposit boxes he rented in Lorraine.

The man is now awaiting trial in the French courts. He could be sentenced to hundreds of thousands of euros in customs fines as well as prison time.


Lost Great Pyramid artifact rediscovered

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

One of only three Egyptian artifacts ever found inside the Great Pyramid of Giza has been rediscovered after going missing for 70 years. The piece of cedar wood, now broken into several fragments, was recovered by Egyptian archaeologist Abeer Eladany in the Asia collection of the University of Aberdeen. She came across a small box bearing the former flag of Egypt during a curatorial review of objects in storage. She cross-referenced it with the records of the University’s Egyptian objects and recognized it as the long-lost Great Pyramid cedar, misplaced for decades in the wrong collection.

The cedar was found in the “Queen’s Chamber” (a misnomer as Khufu’s wives were buried in their own pyramids in the complex; a niche in the east wall may have held Khufu’s ka statue, eternal resting place of the pharaoh’s soul) by British shipbuilding engineer Waynman Dixon in 1872. He was looking for shafts that connected the chamber in the center of the pyramid to the outside walls like the two that go up in a v-shape from the King’s Chamber. He almost succeeded, finding two air shafts in the same v-shape, although they don’t quite reach the outer walls. In one of the shafts Dixon found a spherical pounder of black diorite, a copper forked implement shaped like a swallow’s tail and a wood board.

It’s not clear what uses they were put to and why they were left in the shaft. The copper object has organic remains suggesting it once had a bone handle. They may have been tools used in construction of the pyramid left behind by builders, or they may have been deliberate deposits with ritual purpose.

These sole survivors of centuries of looting of the Great Pyramid made headlines at the time of their discovery. In the 1972, the pounder and the copper tool were donated to the British Museum. The cedar plank was donated to the University of Aberdeen in 1946 by the daughter of James Grant, a medical doctor who had worked with Dixon on the exploration of the Queen’s Chamber shafts.

The rediscovery of the cedar is of special interest because it can be radiocarbon dated. Testing was delayed by COVID, but is now complete and it has revealed that the cedar wood fragment is so ancient it makes the Great Pyramid look like a baby. It dates to between 3341-3094 B.C, at least 500 years before construction of the pyramid which was completed around 2560 B.C.

Neil Curtis, Head of Museums and Special Collections at the University of Aberdeen, said: “Finding the missing Dixon Relic was a surprise but the carbon dating has also been quite a revelation.

“It is even older than we had imagined. This may be because the date relates to the age of the wood, maybe from the centre of a long-lived tree. Alternatively, it could be because of the rarity of trees in ancient Egypt, which meant that wood was scarce, treasured and recycled or cared for over many years.

“It will now be for scholars to debate its use and whether it was deliberately deposited, as happened later during the New Kingdom, when pharaohs tried to emphasise continuity with the past by having antiquities buried with them.”


Oldest gynecological treatment found on Egyptian mummy

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

Scientists have discovered the oldest physical evidence of a gynecological treatment in an Egyptian mummy from the Middle Kingdom. A team of researchers from the University of Grenada in Spain and the University of Jaén in Aswan studied the mummy of an adult woman found in a shaft and chamber tomb at Qubbet el-Hawa on the west bank of the Nile opposite Aswan in 2017.

Radiocarbon dating found the woman died between 1878 and 1797 B.C., the late 12 Dynasty. While people buried there where from the upper echelons of society, mummification of this period at Qubbet el-Hawa tends not to preserve a great deal of soft tissue. The remains of the woman wrapped in layers of linen bandages were skeletonized. The outer coffin has suffered extensive termite damage, but enough survived to identify her by name as Sattjeni A. Archaeologists believe the initial was added because Sattjeni was a popular name among upper-class women of her time, so the A was necessary to distinguish her from all the other Sattjenis.

Osteological examination of her remains discovered a fracture in her pelvis, perhaps the result of the fall, severe enough to have caused her a great deal of pain and sterility. Medical texts dating to this period prescribed fumigations to heal gynecological injury. A hemispherical drinking cup placed between her bandaged legs was found to contain the burned remains of organic material consistent with the fumigation treatment described in 12th Dynasty papyri.

“The most interesting feature of the discovery made by the researchers from the University of Jaén is not only the documentation of a palliative gynaecological treatment, something that is quite unique in Egyptian archaeology, but also the fact that this type of treatment by fumigation was described in contemporary medical papyri. But, until now, there had been no evidence found to prove that such treatment was actually carried out,” explains the UJA’s Dr. Alejandro Jimenez, an expert in Egyptology and director of the Qubbet el-Hawa Project. This work has now been published by one of the most prestigious academic journals in Egyptology, Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Spracheund Altertumskunde.


Galloway Hoard cross revealed in its original glory

Monday, December 14th, 2020

An Anglo-Saxon silver cross from the Galloway Hoard has been revealed in all its intricate glory after being cleaned and conserved by experts at the National Museums Scotland (NMS). The Greek cross is decorated with black niello enamel and gold leaf typical of Late Anglo-Saxon design. Each arm bears the symbols of the four evangelists (Matthew’s divine man, Mark’s lion, Luke’s cow, John’s eagle) with floral swirls and knotwork surrounding them. It was made in Northumbria in the late 9th century and is extremely rare. Only one other Anglo-Saxon pectoral cross from this period is known, and it is nowhere near as elaborately decorated.

“The cleaning has revealed that the cross, made in the 9th century, [has] a late Anglo-Saxon style of decoration.This looks like the type of thing that would be commissioned at the highest levels of society. First sons were usually kings and lords, second sons would become high-ranking clerics. It’s likely to come from one of these aristocratic families.”

The pectoral cross has survived with its intricate spiral chain, from which it would have been suspended from the neck, displayed across the chest. The chain shows that the cross was worn.

[Dr Martin Goldberg, NMS principal curator of early medieval and Viking collections,] said: “You could almost imagine someone taking it off their neck and wrapping the chain around it to bury it in the ground. It has that kind of personal touch.”

When the hoard was discovered in 2014, the cross was in the top layer. It was caked it dirt, as was the spiral chain wound around the junction of the bars. The thin silver wire of the chain is less than a millimeter in diameter and was coiled around an organic center. The core was preserved and analysis identified it as animal gut. Cleaning the tightly coiled spiral and the enameled grooves of the cross posed a challenge. Conservators used a porcupine quill and scalpel to remove the dirt as carefully as possible without damaging the metal.

Cross before conservation. Photo courtesy National Museums Scotland.

Anglo-Saxon cross during conservation. Photo courtesy National Museums Scotland.

Anglo-Saxon pectoral cross after cleaning and conservation. Photo courtesy National Museums Scotland.

The National Museums Scotland acquired the hoard in 2017 after a successful fund-raising campaign with donations from the public, non-profit heritage organizations and the government of Scotland. Museum conservators have been working ever since then to clean and conserve the objects in the hoard — more than 100 pieces from jewelry to ingots to a Carolingian pot — and preserve its extremely rare organic elements, like the cord in the spiral chain and textiles found inside the pot.

It has been dubbed a Viking treasure — the largest Viking hoard discovered in Scotland since 1891 — but the new exhibition that opens at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh on February 19th is pointedly entitled Galloway Hoard: Viking-age Treasure, emphasis on the age. The important Anglo-Saxon objects like the cross in the hoard underscore that while it was buried in the Viking era, its contents are multicultural.

Goldberg said: “At the start of the 10th century, new kingdoms were emerging in response to Viking invasions. Alfred the Great’s dynasty was laying the foundations of medieval England, and Alba, the kingdom that became medieval Scotland, is first mentioned in historical sources.

Galloway had been part of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, said Goldberg, and was called the Saxon coast in the Irish chronicles as late as the 10th century. But this area was to become the Lordship of Galloway, named from the Gall-Gaedil, people of Scandinavian descent who spoke Gaelic and dominated the Irish Sea zone during the Viking age.

“The mixed material of the Galloway Hoard exemplifies this dynamic political and cultural environment,” Goldberg added.


Celtic bronze with golden eyes found in Slovakia

Sunday, December 13th, 2020

An Iron Age figurine of a man with golden eyes has been unearthed at Jánovce, northern Slovakia. The small bronze depicts a nude male wearing a very thick torque around his neck. The wide eye sockets are filled with gold that shine brightly in contrast with the dark patinated bronze. It was created by the Celtic La Tène culture which dominated the area until it was conquered by Rome in the 1st century B.C.

The town of Jánovce was founded in the Middle Ages — the first documented reference to it was written in 1312 — but it has been known since the 19th century that it was replete with archaeological material from the La Tène period. That has made it a target for looters and while there has been some archaeological excavation work in the area, Jánovce hasn’t been systematically excavated in a targeted fashion. A team of researchers from the Spiš Museum has been doing a preliminary archaeological survey to get an idea of the site’s potential. There was no excavation. All they did was collect objects churned up to the surface by agricultural activity, and over their work in the spring and fall of this year, they recovered more than 800 artifacts from prehistory to the modern era.

Most of the finds were from the La Tène period overlapping with the Roman Iron Age (ca. 3rd – 1st century B.C.). The artifacts include Celtic coins, bronze fibulae, ceramics, glass beads and jewelry. These were luxury objects, and an enormous density of them has been found in the Spiš area, with a particularly high concentration in Jánovce. The richness of the finds indicate the Celtic settlements of the La Tène period were exceptionally affluent, far more so than in another regions of what is today Slovakia.

All of the objects recovered from the ploughed soils of Jánovce are now at the Spiš Museum where they are being documented, cleaned and conserved. Aided by experts from the Department of Archeology, Faculty of Arts, University of Constantine the Philosopher in Nitra, the museum plans to put some of the finds on display next year in a new exhibition. The golden-eyed figurine will be the foremost among them.

Left side view of figurine. Photo by Milan Kapusta, TASR. Right side view of figurine. Photo by Milan Kapusta, TASR.


Weeding uproots Tudor gold coin hoard

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

A little lockdown weeding has unearthed a Tudor-era hoard of 63 gold coins and one silver coin in a backyard in New Forest, Hampshire. The family was turning up soil to clear weeds when the gold coins sprang from the ground. The coins range in date from the late 15th century to the early 16th and were issued during the reigns of Edward IV (r. 1461-1470), Henry VII and Henry VIII.

Most of the coins are of a type known as “angels” for the design on the obverse of the archangel Michael slaying a dragon (ie, satan) with a cross-shaped spear. First minted under Edward IV in 1465, angels were the standard gold coin in Britain for two centuries. The dates of the coins in the hoard suggest they were buried around 1540. The total value of the coins in 1540 was £24, which was much more than average annual wage in the Tudor era. On the auction market today, the coins would be worth around £220,000.

John Naylor, from the Ashmolean Museum, said the hoard was likely to have been hidden either by a wealthy merchant or clergy fearful of Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, in which he took control of many of the religious community’s assets.

Mr Naylor said: “It is likely that there are two options of who may have buried a hoard like this. It could be a merchant’s hoard. There was a lot of wealth in that part of the world. The wool trade was still very important. The New Forest is also very close to the coast and very close to some major ports so it is entirely possible it could be someone involved in maritime trade.

“On the other hand though, you also have this period in the late 1530s and 1540s where you have the Dissolution of the Monasteries. We do know that some monasteries and some churches did try to hide their wealth hoping that they would be able to keep it in the long term.”

Four of the gold coins are of particular note: they bear the initials of three of the wives of King Henry VIII. The first three of the six, to be precise — K for Catherine of Aragon, A for Anne Boleyn and I for Jane Seymour. The one with Jane’s initial is the earliest coin in the hoard dating to 1536 or 1537. Henry’s choice to give his wives cameos on his coins was unprecedented at the time and his motivation for it remains unknown. After Jane died giving birth to his obsessively-wanted heir, Henry stopped putting his temp spousal staff on the coinage.

This year has seen a rise in backyard finds reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme as the pandemic has kept people at home. More than 47,000 finds have been reported this year in the UK, 6,251 made during the first lockdown when metal detecting was prohibited and people turned to their own properties for fun and profit. Last year the number of archaeological find recorded by the PAS was 81,602, a leap of 10,000 from 2018. Obviously people’s backyards don’t provide quite so rich a terrain for archaeological prospecting as, you know, the whole country.


8th c. B.C. Phoenician moat found in Spain

Friday, December 11th, 2020

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of an ancient moat at the Phoenician site of Cabezo Pequeño del Estaño in the southeastern coast of Spain. The moat is about 10 feet deep and 26 feet wide at the top and was part of the defensive systems of the 8th century B.C. Phoenician citadel. It is the only Phoenician moat from its age known to exist in the western Mediterranean. The only other comparable structures are in Phoenician cities like Tel Dor, Israel, and Beirut, Lebanon.

The site was founded in the 8th century B.C. by Phoenician merchants who traveled from the Mediterranean up the Segura River. They built a citadel on the banks of the river in around 770-750 B.C., following a well-planned urban template seen in other Phoenician colonies. Excavation of the settlement area has revealed the presence of commercial concerns — storage structures, warehouses, metallurgic workshops, forges, furnaces — and residences — a large roundhouse with adobe benches, other dwellings.

A multi-disciplinary team from the University Institute for Research in Archeology and Historical Heritage (INAPH) of the University of Alicante and the Archaeological Museum of Guardamar (MAG) have been excavating the site since 2013, focusing on getting a wide picture of the defensive structures, long obscured by sedimentary deposits, natural erosion and damage wrought by a quarry that destroyed much of the town in the 1990s.

Aerial photography first detected evidence of a moat running parallel to the citadel wall. This year’s excavation confirmed it was indeed a defensive moat, painstakingly cut out of the living rock by hand. Chisel marks are clearly visible in the substrate.

This exceptional find confirms the challenges encountered by Phoenician settlers on the Iberian coast. They encountered enough hostility from the locals to justify the massive effort expended in carving out and building a heavily fortified settlement at Cabezo Pequeño del Estaño. The natural resources of the area, primarily metal mining (Cabezo Pequeño del Estaño means Little Head of Tin) made it worth their while. For a few decades, at least. The town was abandoned around 700 B.C.





December 2020


Add to Technorati Favorites