Archive for March, 2022

Visit Henry III’s toilet at restored Clifford’s Tower

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

Clifford’s Tower in York is the only structure remaining from York Castle. The original structure on the site was a timber Norman motte-and-bailey castle built by William the Conqueror in 1068. The wooden keep was burned down in 1190 in a horrific anti-Semitic riot where the 150 members of York’s Jewish community had barricaded themselves inside the tower from the wrath of the mob. Under violent attack from knights, a siege engine and the rioters, the Jews inside the keep killed themselves and set fire to the tower. The few who opted out of suicide and managed to escape the tower were massacred by the mob.

The present Clifford’s Tower was constructed on the ashes of this tragedy. Reconstruction began in the early 13th century, but the new stone keep would not be completed until the end of the century. York Castle would mainly be used for administrative purposes — prison, mint, briefly as headquarters of the Exchequer — not as an actual royal residence. It was not well-maintained. Accounts from the 15th century already report some of the buildings were in ruins, and there was a scandal in the 1590s around the gaoler of the castle purportedly trying to demolish the tower to sell the stone.

Clifford’s Tower saw real action in the English Civil War. Queen Henrietta Maria had it restored and a new wood roof put on in 1643 just in time for it to be taken by Parliamentarian forces in 1644. After the Restoration, the tower was garrisoned by troops who were notorious carousers. On April 23, 1684, they fired a ceremonial salute indoors and set the place on fire again. The fire gutted the wooden interiors and Henrietta Maria’s roof and the tower fell to ruin. Occasionally people used it as a stable or barn.

Finally it became property of the state in the 1915 and it was repaired and stabilized in the 1930s so it could be opened to the public for the first time in centuries. It was sort of a look-in attraction, however, a 15-minute visit at most to walk up the stone circular staircase to see some great views of York, including the Minster. There was no signage to speak of, limited information panels, and nothing to do inside but look up at the sky.

Now English Heritage has invested £5 million in a total transformation of the tower’s interior. Timber stairs and hanging walkways criss-cross up the tower walls, giving visitors access to long-hidden spaces like Henry III’s garderobe, ie, his toilet. It was a high-tech bathroom in the 13th century, complete with a built-in toiletries cupboard, a flushing spout that ran water down the lavatory hole all the way down and out the tower. Visitors who Escher their way up the walkways will reach the new roof deck with spectacular views of the city.

The new interior and roof deck at Clifford’s Tower has been designed by Hugh Broughton Architects, a leading contemporary architectural practice. Supported by four slender wooden columns, the ingenious structure sits on a raft foundation, which spreads the load without impacting on the archaeological remains beneath the tower. The practice has worked closely with conservation specialists Martin Ashley Architects to produce a scheme which sits respectfully within the heritage structure.

New interpretation will help place the tower in the context of both the historic York Castle and the city of York itself as well as introducing visitors to the tower’s long and turbulent history. Visitors can explore the castle’s founding by William the Conqueror, the tower’s role as the site of the tragic 1190 massacre and suicide of York’s Jewish community – one of the worst anti-Semitic episodes in English history – and the role of the castle as both a medieval royal stronghold and a garrison during the Civil War.

Integral to the new scheme is its soundscape. Layers of background sound will take visitors back in time, allowing them to experience the tower as it would have been at various periods in its long history. Visitors can engage with five key moments in that history with the help of the voices of local residents who bring the stories of fictional characters to life, each representing a different chapter in the tower’s past.

Clifford’s Tower reopens Saturday, April 2nd. Here’s some cool drone footage of the new roof deck:

Versailles restores Royal Tennis Court as Museum of the Revolution

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

The Tennis Court Oath was one of the pivotal moments of the French Revolution. The day was June 20, 1789. The deputies of newly-formed National Assembly, a little too heavy on the Third Estate, too light on the Clergy and Nobility and way too keen to make France a constitutional monarchy for King Louis XVI’s taste, arrived at the meeting place of the Estates General only to find the doors barred and the premises occupied by troops. So they regrouped a few streets over inside the Royal Tennis Court Louis XIV had built a hundred years earlier to play the “jeu de paume,” a precursor to tennis, on the recommendation of his physician.

Deputy Jean Joseph Mounier proposed that in response to this insult to their rights, the nation’s representatives take a solemn oath in defense of the public good and national interest. The proposal was received with thunderous applause and the Assembly quickly drew up a decree:

The National Assembly, considering that it has been called to establish the constitution of the realm, to bring about the regeneration of public order, and to maintain the true principles of monarchy; nothing may prevent it from continuing its deliberations in any place it is forced to establish itself; and, finally, the National Assembly exists wherever its members are gathered.

Decrees that all members of this assembly immediately take a solemn oath never to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the realm is established and fixed upon solid foundations; and that said oath having been sworn, all members and each one individually confirm this unwavering resolution with his signature.

The deputies then each “signed” by swearing:

We swear never to separate ourselves from the National Assembly, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the realm is drawn up and fixed upon solid foundations.

This was the first direct confrontation between the revolutionaries and the king. They were still on board with a monarchy, but only as bound by the will of the people. By this oath they declared to Louis XVI that the National Assembly was in service of the public and national good, not the king.

A year after the momentous event, oath-taker Edmond Dubois-Crancé asked his friend painter Jacques-Louis David to commemorate the anniversary with a monumental painting that would put the Tennis Court Oath on the same plane as David’s famed historical works like 1784’s The Oath of the Horatii. David exhibited a preparatory pen-and-ink drawing of his planned painting in 1791, hoping to sell engravings of the drawing via national subscription to raise the 72,000 pounds he needed to complete a painting 33 feet long.

Unfortunately for David, the France of 1791 was very different from that of 1789. Constitutional monarchists were very much not in favor anymore and many of the 1789 heroes were either fired, disgraced or, well, dead, by 1791. The subscription model failed because the public had no interest in celebrating the event. David never finishing the painting and kept it in his workshop until his death in 1825. The unfinished work was cut up into three pieces by his heirs. The largest portion was sold to the state and is now on display in the Chimay attic at Versailles.

The Tennis Court itself became property of the state in 1793 and was closed to the public in 1798. It was used for random purposes — storage, workshop, painter’s studio — for a while and listed as a national historic monument in 1848. Come the Second Empire, the Royal Tennis Court was neglected, its associations no longer appreciated by the powers that be.

The idea of celebrating the Tennis Court Oath came back into favor a century later under the French Third Republic which embraced its revolutionary antecedents. In 1880, July 14th, Bastille Day, was declared the French National Celebration, and the government began to plan for a museum of the Revolution. In 1882, the old Royal Tennis Court, abandoned for decades by that point, was chosen as the spot for the new museum.

It was refurbished by the architect of the Palace of Versailles, Edmond Guillaume. The French government also commissioned a new artist, Luc-Olivier Merson, to make a painting of the Oath based on David’s drawing and unfinished canvas. Ninety-four years to the day after the deputies of the National Assembling took the Tennis Court Oath, the new Museum of the Revolution opened in the Royal Tennis Court complete with a statue and portrait busts of the most important signatories. Above the busts is a band painted on the walls containing the names of all signatories. Beneath the band the walls were painted in rich Pompeian red.

This new vision of the Royal Tennis Court also faded quickly. After the centenary of the oath in 1889, the court was just maintained but not handled with the care it required. There was even talk in the 1930s of converting it into a ping pong room for Senate functionaries who worked at Versailles.

Last year, Versailles undertook a comprehensive restoration program to return the Tennis Court to its 1883 condition when it was reborn as the Museum of the Revolution. Over eight months of work, restorers were able to restore the black cement floor, the Pompeian red wall paint, the names and laurel wreaths and decorative borders on the band, and Merson’s monumental painting.

The room is reopening on Friday after eight months of work, giving the public “a forgotten part of our history,” Catherine Pegard, president of the palace’s public administration, told AFP.

It is dominated by a monumental canvas, also restored, which was based on the famous unfinished work by Jacques-Louis David depicting the signing of the oath.

6th c. grave full of beads found in Basel

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

Infrastructure work around the Wettsteinplatz district of Basel, Switzerland, has unearthed the richly-furnished 6th century grave of a 12-year-old girl. Since work began in 2021, the remains of several early medieval graves have been discovered, but they had been badly damaged by earlier construction and only a few bones could be retrieved. The little girl’s grave, on the other hand, was well-preserved and replete with grave goods including an iron purse clasp, an iron belt buckle with inlaid stripes of gold and many, many beads.

When the archaeological team realized there were artifacts in the burial, they removed the entire grave in a soil block so it could be excavated in laboratory conditions and without time pressure from the construction schedule. The excavation revealed a dizzying array of glass and amber beads, more than 350 of them in total.

Not only is the large number extraordinary, but also the fascinating variety of types, shapes and colors. Segment beads with inlaid gold and silver foil, for example, testify to a particularly high level of craftsmanship. It can be assumed that the beads were not placed in the tomb individually, but may have belonged to a complex beaded collar or once formed several necklaces. It is also conceivable that individual beads were sewn onto the robe or an enclosed bag.

The 6th century was a busy time for Basel. It had been conquered in the early 5th century by the invading Germanic confederation of the Alemanni, and a century later the Franks took over, but both Alemanni and Frankish settlers prospered in Basel. The city grew in population and influence from that point, overtaking the former Roman provincial capital of Augusta Raurica 12 miles to the west in the 7th century.

There are no written records surviving from this period in Basel’s history, and very little archaeological material, so this one girl’s grave is of oversized significance because of its density of artifacts. There are indications that there are additional graves near the ones that have already been found, so archaeologists hope to uncover more remains as excavations continue to shed new light on the development of early medieval Basel.

Farmer plows up unique Hittite gold bracelet

Monday, March 28th, 2022

A 3,300-year-old Hittite bracelet plowed up by a farmer in Çitli village in north central Turkey’s Çorum Province is unique, the first example of a Hittite bracelet made with precious metals that has figural depictions. This is also the only Hittite bracelet with an elliptical bezel, a shape previously only found in Hittite ring seals. After extensive restoration, the bracelet is now on public display for the first time at the Çorum Archaeological Museum.

The farmer discovered the bracelet in 2011 and realized it could be an archaeological artifact. Its advanced age and rediscovery by heavy agricultural machinery had left it in parlous condition. The bracelet was misshapen and in several pieces. He collected all the parts he could find and brought them to the museum in Çorum. Museum experts were able to identify it as a Hittite-era bracelet in the preliminary examination before it was catalogued and conserved. The exact find site was unknown as the farmer had plowed five fields that day and a subsequent archaeological survey of all five of them found no additional artifacts.

The bracelet is made of an alloy of copper, tin and arsenic, and measures 7.1 cm (2.8 inches) in diameter at the widest point. It is formed of a band moulded into an elliptical shape with the tips bent backwards and forged together to make a ring. An electrum plate mounted to the ellipse is ornamented with a relief scene of figures done in the repoussé technique. Framing the scene is a border of semicircles between lines. The plate was broken into four pieces when found; a section of the plate in the center is missing.

The repoussé relief depicts the goddess Ishtar at the center of a libation procession moving inwards from both ends of the plate. The first thing on both the left and right ends of the plate is a small table or altar with curved legs terminating in an animal paw. The tables are draped with a cloth that covers the offerings they bear.

On the left side, the table is followed by two female figures with no facial features processing towards the right, their right arms bent upwards and their left carrying something. Facing them is another figure with more defined features. Her legs are in profile heading rightward, while her torso is positioned frontally. She wears a two-piece garment of skirt and mantle and on her extant right shoulder is a wing. Some of this figure is missing, but the clothing, wing and the two women following her are sufficient to identify her as Ishtar and the two female figures as her attendants Ninatta and Kulitta, a scene that has been found before in Hittite seals and rock reliefs. After the missing section are two more female figures (only the back of the head remains of one of them) facing Ishtar from the right.

Hattusa, capital of the Hittite Empire between 1700 BC and 1200 BC., is 70 miles southwest of the find site. It reached its greatest geographic and population peak during the reign of Suppiluliuma I (ca. 1344–1322 B.C.) right around the time when the bracelet was made.

Iron Age gold neck ring found in Denmark

Sunday, March 27th, 2022

A one-of-a-kind gold neck ring from the Germanic Iron Age (400-550 A.D.) has been discovered near Ilsted in southern Denmark. The necklace is heavy at 446 grams, a fraction under a pound, and is eight inches wide at the widest point. It is made of one long rod-shaped piece of gold folded over itself at the terminals to create a ring shape. The ends overlap about 1/3rd of the length of the necklace, and a gold plate is soldered to the back of the two rings to create a third canvas for decoration between the two rings.

The overlapping ends of the rod are decorated with crescent-shaped depression  stamped into the gold. The decoration is so meticulously detailed that the crescent shapes on the two rings are ever so slightly different: the crescents on the outer ring have eight decorative divots inside them, the crescents on the inner ones have six. The gold plate has six ribbed gold threads at the bottom,  plaited together two-by-two to create a chevron effect. A spiral twisted gold wire runs down the middle of the plait.

Only ten comparable gold necklaces with stamped embellishment have been found in Denmark, and this is by far the most elaborate, most finely worked of them. It is the only one with a soldered plate with intricate gold thread decoration.

It was discovered by metal detectorist Dan Christensen in October 2021. Christensen works as an archaeological scout for the Southwest Jutland Museums, so when he found the neck ring, he immediately alerted museum staff.  In the week following the discovery, the entire field was scanned with metal detectors in case the ring had been part of a larger grouping of precious objects scattered by agricultural activity. (Previous examples of neck rings from this period have been found in pairs.) Nothing turned up.

A subsequent full excavation of the find site revealed evidence of a settlement under a thin layer of plow soil, including roof-bearing post holes from multiple three-nave longhouses dating to between 300 and 600 A.D. The neck ring was found inside one of the longhouses. It was recovered from below the plow layer, so archaeologists believe it was buried where it was found.

This is an unusual context for gold neck rings, as most of them have been found in wetlands where they were deposited as votive offerings to the gods. The find site is on a promontory surrounded by bogs on three sides, so the fact that this necklace was buried inside a longhouse when wetlands were available a few steps away in every direction suggest it was being deliberately hidden to keep it safe during a period of danger or unrest but the owner was never able to retrieve it.

1,000-year-old surgical kit found in Sican tomb

Saturday, March 26th, 2022

A funerary bundle discovered in a tomb from the Middle Sicán period (900-1050 A.D.) at the Huaca Las Ventanas archaeological site in the Lambayeque region of Peru, has been found to include a set of surgical tools indicating the deceased was a surgeon. This is the first such find ever made in Lambayeque or in northern Peru.

Funerary bundle No. 77 was unearthed by archaeologists from the Sicán National Museum in a 2010-2011 excavation of the southern necropolis of Huaca Las Ventanas. It was removed along with its soil and sand context to protect it from being eroded and washed away in flooding from the adjacent La Leche River.

The recovered material was transported to the museum where it was stored for later excavation. That turned out to be much later, a decade later, to be exact, when a National Geographic Donation Fund grant made to the museum in 2021 made it possible to fully explore Bundle No. 77.

The excavation took place between October 2021 and January of this year. Inside the bundle was a gold mask painted with cinnabar, a large bronze pectoral, gilt copper bowls and a poncho-like garment with copper plates. Under the poncho was a pottery vessel with a double spout and a curved bridge handle with a small figure at the apex representing the Huaco Rey (Huaco King).

The surgical kit was of particular interest to archaeologists. It is large, containing a full set of awls, needles and knives of various sizes and configurations. There are about 50 knives in total, some with a single cutting edge. Most are a bronze alloy with high arsenic content. Some have wooden handles. There is also a tumi, a ceremonial knife with a half-moon blade. By the tumi was a metal planchette with a symbol associated with surgical instruments. Two frontal bones, one adult and one juvenile, were found next to the planchette. Marks on the bones indicate they were deliberately cut with trepanation techniques. This confirmed that the tools were intended for use in surgery.

While the tools are unique for the region, a similar find was made in Paracas in 1929. The tools are made of different materials, however. The blades in the Paracas set were made with sharpened volcanic obsidian.

“It is the first discovery of this type here in Lambayeque and in the north of the country. It dates from the year 900 to 1050 after Christ, of Middle Sicán cultural affiliation, which speaks of the specialization and expertise that existed at this time. We are not only documenting elite cult figures linked to metallurgy but also specialists and surgical interventions”, [Sican National Museum Director Carlos Elera] highlighted.

A piece of bark from an unknown tree found in the bundle may have been used for medicinal purposes as an analgesic or anti-inflammatory infusion the same way white willow bark makes what is basically aspirin tea.

“This will be investigated to find out what species it belonged to and what use is currently given. We have to make a detailed typology of the surgical instruments to compare them with the Paracas instruments. There are some that coincide and some that don’t, but what is interesting is the case of Lambaye, where an object has the auction of the God of the Mask with Closed Eyes always present”, he mentioned.

Muskets from Revolutionary War shipwreck restored

Friday, March 25th, 2022

Three muskets recovered from a Revolutionary War-era shipwreck off the coast of St. Augustine, Florida, have been liberated from thick layers of concretion to reveal intact stock, lock, and brass furniture. The hardened outer layer of corrosion, sediment and marine life took years of painstaking conservation to remove.

The muskets were recovered from a site known as the Storm Wreck which was discovered in 2009 and excavated by marine archaeologists, students and volunteers with the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program between 2009 and 2014. The wreck was one of a fleet of more than 130 British ships, Royal Navy and private, that were enlisted to evacuate Loyalists from Charleston, South Carolina, to the safety of British East Florida in December 1782. They succeeded in fleeing the threat posed by the Continental Army, but for the Storm Ship, the topography of British East Florida itself would be fatally dangerous. The ship ran aground on the treacherous sandbar of St. Augustine on New Year’s Eve, 1782.

Hundreds of artifacts have been recovered from the site, including two British cannons stamped with the date 1780, buttons from regimental uniforms of the Royal Provincial, the 63rd Regiment of Foot and 71st Regiment of Foot, a gentleman’s pocket pistol and the ship’s bell, which is unfortunately devoid of markings so we still don’t know the name of the ship. There are no Royal Navy motifs, so it may have been privately owned.

Many of the recovered objects were obscured inside “rocks” of massed concretions. Conservators took x-rays of the concretions to map out the artifacts within and develop a plan to remove the layers while replacing the salts that will eat away at the object as soon as it is exposed to air. An x-ray of one of the Brown Besses revealed a lead shot that looked like it was in the barrel but was actually to the right of it embedded in the concretion material.

Conservators removed the outer layer of corrosion to reveal the muskets, complete with intact stock, lock, and brass furniture. The stocks were preserved in polyethylene glycol, to bulk and support the waterlogged wood cells as they dried.

The brass furniture included the ramrod pipes, side plate, wrist plate, trigger guard, and trigger plate, all conserved using electrolysis and later affixed to the dried stock. The locks were partially corroded away and partially preserved; leaving an intricate shape that required step-by-step casting and removal of the corrosion. The locks were the last feature added back to the stocks, which completed the treatment and readied the muskets for eventual display at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.

Phoenician “harbor” revealed to be sacred pool

Thursday, March 24th, 2022

A monumental basin on the island of Motya off the western coast of Sicily that was long believed to have been a Phoenician harbor has been revealed to have been a sacred freshwater pool.

Occupied since the Bronze Age, the island of Motya has an excellent protected natural harbor and its strategic location between the coasts of North Africa, Iberia and Sardinia drew the attention of Phoenicians who settled on the island in the early 8th century B.C. The island grew into an important port for the trade networks of the Mediterranean.

Motya’s success made it a plum prize for its Phoenician cousins from Carthage. In the middle of the 6th century B.C., Carthaginians attacked and destroyed the city-island. It was rebuilt on a grander scale with a massive defensive wall and two monumental religious complexes. The monumental pool, originally a natural pond with a stone block side, was built during this reconstruction period.

The rectangular, stone-lined basin was first explored archaeologically in the early 1900s by  archaeologist Joseph Whitaker. He identified a channel of water as a conduit linking the basin to the Mediterranean. He dubbed it a “Kothon” after the Greek name for Carthage’s artificial ring-shaped harbor. It wasn’t the strongest of hypotheses. The pool was relatively small for a harbor (37×52.5 meters), and the water level of the Mediterranean was much lower than it is today, so the basin was further away from the sea. Later archaeologists revised the Kothon interpretation, proposing that it wasn’t so much a harbor as a dry dock for the maintenance and repair of ships.

Recent excavations by a team from the Sapienza University of Rome unearthed a large Temple of Ba’al next to the basin. The temple was very ancient, in use from 800 to 397/6 B.C., and at some point it had been enclosed with a temenos wall that also enclosed the Kothon. A second temple, dedicated to the goddess Astarte, and a third dubbed the “Sanctuary of the Holy Waters” were also found within the temenos. This strongly suggests that the basin’s purpose was also religious. A stone platform in the center of the pool may have been a podium for a statue of a deity, perhaps Ba’al, judging by a dedication to “Belios,” (the Greek name for Ba’al) found in a votive pit in the corner of the basin.

The doom of the harbor theory was finally sealed when the pool was drained for full excavation. The team discovered that the basin was fed by three natural underground freshwater springs, not by a channel from the sea, and that it was very shallow, just five feet at the deepest point. No Phoenician warship or merchant vessel was tiny enough to dock in five feet of water.

Excavation and survey work allow us to identify the planning concept behind the sacred complex, and the functional and symbolic nature of its various alignments. The arrangement of buildings, stelae, altars, bothroi (pits), votive offerings … and other features within the enclosure, suggest a place of religious activity dedicated to the sacred waters, the sky and the associated gods—all key elements of Phoenician religious beliefs.

The sacred pool was put to practical use by the Romans who farmed fish in it and used it in the production of lime. It was repurposed again between the 16th and 18th centuries as a salt pan. It was during this latter use that the channel was dug connecting the pool to the Marsala Lagoon and the sea.

The recent discoveries at Motya have wide implications, especially in connection with the origins of the Phoenician settlement, its transformation into a city and the function of some of its major monuments. The cultic and astronomical role played by the sacred enclosure and pool in the origins and development of Motya, advanced here, adds another element, showing that Motya was open to cultural interactions and hybridisation, counterbalancing Carthage’s growing political and economic domination. Consequently, Motya was a site quite different from the rising western Phoenician power of Carthage. It remained a flourishing free-port and, in time, developed an open attitude, especially towards Greece and the Greek cities of Sicily. Carthage’s disappointment with this attitude, however, was the cause of a delay in help for Motya, when the tyrant Syracuse Dionysius placed the city under siege and then destroyed it in 397–396 BC.

Five tombs of pharaonic officials found

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

Archaeologists have discovered five tombs of senior officials in pharaonic administrations from the Old Kingdom and First Intermediate period in the necropolis of Saqqara, 15 miles southwest of Cairo. The walls are covered in paintings of high quality in excellent condition, the colors still vivid after 4,000 years.

The tombs were found earlier this month by the pyramid of Merenre Nemtyemsaf I (built ca. 2490 B.C.). They are hard to reach — reporters had to be lowered into the deep burial shaft with a rope on a winch — which has helped preserve them. The walls are painted with images of sacred animals, ritual materials like the seven sacred oils, food offerings and  hieroglyphic inscriptions.

[T]he first tomb comprises a deep burial shaft and a chamber decorated with images that included altars and a depiction of the palace, as well as a sarcophagus carved from limestone.

Researchers believe they have matched the second tomb to the wife of a man named Yaret.

The third tomb is believed to have been the resting place of Pepi Nefhany, who served as a priest and supervisor, while the fourth tomb held the grave of a female priest of Hathor named Petty.

The fifth tomb was built for Henu, who researchers say served as an overseer and supervisor of the royal house.

Petty was also a royal stylist. Inscriptions record that she was responsible for the pharaoh’s beauty regime.

Inside the tombs archaeologists found more than 20 sarcophaguses all together, plus numerous figurines, wooden boats, ceramics, masks and other artifacts. Excavations of the tombs are ongoing, and Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, believes more tombs from this period will be found at the site.

This video features footage of the interior of the tomb, and, entertainingly, the winching of journalists.

Urn-in-urn cremation burial found in France

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

Archaeologists have unearthed two cremation burials from the 1st century A.D. and 15 tombs from Late Antiquity at the site of planned school construction in Suze-la-Rousse, in southeastern France. One of them is in an unusually fitted urn-inside-a-larger-urn configuration.

The cinerary remains were discovered along the western side of a rural road edged with sandstone blocks and topped with packed gravel. It is 13 feet wide and must have been well-trafficked as there are wheel ruts worn into the surface. The slab edge didn’t just make for a sturdy road; it also protected the burials beneath the road from sedimentation. This left the soil in the burial layers comparatively undisturbed, particularly in the southern part of the burial ground.

The two cremation burials both consist of ossuary urns with secondary ritual deposits. The first was unearthed during the initial survey of the site in 2020. The cinerary remains of a young adult around 19-20 years old were deposited along with a small glass balsamarium in a cylindrical lead urn. The lead urn was then placed in a larger cylindrical stone urn and topped with a stone lid, now broken. Offerings were deposited around the urn, including ceramics, a plate and cup in terra sigillata, an oil lamp and a food offering of pork. It dates to between 20 and 60 A.D.

The second burial features a glass inside a sandstone slab formwork. It too contains secondary deposits of ceramics, terra sigillata plate and cup, a glass balsamarium and an oil lamp. Archaeologists believe it dates to the same period as the other cremation burial. The two pyres underneath the burials contained a smattering of charred bone fragments and ceramic deposits in excellent condition.

Just south of this small High Empire funerary site is a burial ground that dates to between the 5th and 8th centuries A.D. Unfortunately this ground was not protected by sandstone pavers, and agricultural work over the centuries has heavily churned up the archaeological layers. Only the very deepest burials and those located in an area that is now wooded were spared destruction, but judging from the density of the surviving burials, the cemetery was large and busy. The tombs that have managed to avoid the plow are of mixed types, including rectangular tile formwork, slate formwork and a combination of stone, tile and wood formwork.





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