Roman Britain: New Findings & Discoveries

Cult_of_Mana

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Wow indeed! Modern biochemists are going to be panting to get their hands on this stuff (assuming it doesn't disintegrate within the next few days). This is truly an exceptional discovery.
 

rynner2

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The beeb link for the opening is here
As she opened it a strong sulphurous smell was released.

Ms Barham said: "If this is a sealed Roman container, those are Roman finger marks."

The discovery was unearthed in July by Pre-Construct Archaeology, whose managing director, Gary Brown, looking over Ms Barham's shoulder, said: "I'm astounded.

"We've been asked several times what to expect in there, but I don't think we could have expected that it would be so full, or that it would be some kind of cosmetic, moisturising cream or whatever it is.

"Clearly Roman creams of any type, paint or cosmetic, do not normally survive in the archaeological record, we don't know if it's unique, but it's pretty exceptional."

Francis Grew, curator of the museum, said it was known that the Romans used asses' milk as a face cream.

The religious complex is the first in London and one of the most important ever seen in Britain.

The site is rare evidence of organised religion in London 2,000 years ago and opens out a previously hidden district of the ancient city.

Two square, Romano-Celtic temples have been found, with a possible guesthouse all contained within a precinct.

The small to medium-sized stone temple buildings date to around the mid-second-century AD.
With a pic! Hooray!
 
A

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Fascinating.

My 4 years of Latin are coming back to me, but the only interesting fact I can recall is that their name for London was Londinium, which everyone probably knows.
 

Yithian

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We need Quincey

Ms Barham said: "If this is a sealed Roman container, those are Roman finger marks."


Its likely i'm entering the field of fantasy here but do fingerprints have inherrited qualities, 'family resemblances' so to speak? If so is there any chance that either through DNA traces or fingerprint comparissons they could (potentially) discover the modern decendents of the owner of this box? Unlikely? Yes. But is it possible?
 

Jerry_B

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I doubt that there is any recogisable DNA contained in the prints, and AFAIK each fingerprint is unique, so no way to trace it to any modern people.
 

Breakfastologist

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But with modern forensic techniques, we may be able to wrap up a few 2000 year old crimes that the Met have been working on :)
 

Yithian

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Interesting, the initial article doesn't give enough details of the context of the find to be sure about their conclusions though. Could this body be that of an actor perhaps accustomed to portratying women, this could even account for a burial in full drag? He could then have religiously chopped off his old chap, wear womans clothing regularly and still not be a transvestite as we understand the term. He may indeed have been castrated for a variety of other reasons. They may well be right in their guess, but the idea smacks of the Whigish model of history justifying and explaining the present.

In esssence i'm saying that the castration may have been incidental to his cross-dressing and not indicative of that rather modern invention of sexuality as a 'lifestyle choice'. Shouldn't make assumptions to rashly.
 
A

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The Yithian said:
Interesting, the initial article doesn't give enough details of the context of the find to be sure about their conclusions though. Could this body be that of an actor perhaps accustomed to portratying women, this could even account for a burial in full drag? He could then have religiously chopped off his old chap, wear womans clothing regularly and still not be a transvestite as we understand the term. He may indeed have been castrated for a variety of other reasons. They may well be right in their guess, but the idea smacks of the Whigish model of history justifying and explaining the present.

In esssence i'm saying that the castration may have been incidental to his cross-dressing and not indicative of that rather modern invention of sexuality as a 'lifestyle choice'. Shouldn't make assumptions to rashly.
modern ideas of transgender do not actualy apply in this case just as to call Sapho a lesbian is iffy.

Let's call 'he' she (it makes me feel easier) may have been castrated for a religious reason, or for a socal one. Perhaps they where 'transgender' in the way we understand it but since the term didn't exist during this persons lifetime then it would have ment nothing to them regardless of how they expressed their gender or how they felt about their own body.

You're right to say that modern ideas of gender expresion (when you said sexuality you where wrong but I'll let you away with it) have no bearing in this case and if we use them then we must be carefull not to limit the posibilities open to explain the individual involved.
 

Yithian

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The Virgin Queen said:
(when you said sexuality you where wrong but I'll let you away with it)
I'm not that au fait with today's sexual lexicon but, in my defence, 'twas late and my mind was slowing. Despite me not using the preferred nomenclature (shades of Lebowski!), you articulated what i meant pretty well. :cool:
 
A

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The Yithian said:
I'm not that au fait with today's sexual lexicon but, in my defence, 'twas late and my mind was slowing. Despite me not using the preferred nomenclature (shades of Lebowski!), you articulated what i meant pretty well. :cool:
glad I could be of assistance. :)
 

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I vaguely recall hearing accounts of a Roman emperor being involved with a male lover who wanted to be a woman, nothing solid is coming up on dogpile, in fact the only decent hit I got is this (look under Classical History), which sounds a little ULish:

http://www.hitfmtorget.nu/articles/shemale-history.htm

Caveat: I don't trust anything labelled 'shemale history' as far as I can throw it and there's a few things on this page that I know to be wrong, so take with a large pinch of salt


Also found out that apparently Roman citizens were forbidden by law to castrate themselves:

http://students.roanoke.edu/groups/relg211/zamesnik/CultPracticesandRituals.html

It's tired and I'm late, might see what else I can hunt out on this tomorrow...
 
A

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Roman cosmetic secrets revealed

The fashion conscious women of Roman Britain used a tin-based foundation to get a pale and appealing look.

The evidence comes from a sealed pot of ointment found at an archaeological dig in Southwark, south London, last year.

Bristol University scientists analysed the cream and found it to be made from animal fat, starch and tin oxide.

They tell Nature magazine that their own version of this second century AD cosmetic leaves a smooth, powdery texture when rubbed into the skin.






I remember when the jar was opened I took a sharp step backwards
Francis Grew, Museum of London


The plainly decorated pot was an extraordinary find. Just six cm across and five cm high, it was discovered in a drain at the site of a temple complex now known as Tabard Square.

Marks left by the last fingers to use the cream pot were still visible on the lid.

Modern counterpart

At first, guesses as to the cream's use included a cosmetic purpose, a possible toothpaste, a barrier cream and even something ritualistic that was smeared on goats before they were killed.

But the Bristol researchers are pretty sure the cosmetic explanation is the best.



"It's got this tin-oxide component which looks like it is a pigment - it's an inert material and when you rub it on your skin it goes white," biogeochemist Professor Richard Evershed told BBC News.

"We can't find any indications in the literature for medicinal properties - especially for an inorganic tin like this."

The team synthesised its own version of the cream made to the same recipe. When they rubbed it into their skin, the fat melted to leave a residue with a smooth powdery texture.

This quality was created by the starch - still used for this purpose in modern cosmetics.

Big stink

"I think probably we are dealing with quite a sophisticated thing," said Francis Grew, curator of archaeology at the Museum of London and a co-author on the Nature report.

"We do know from historical references that upper-class women in particular apparently spent ages dealing with their make-up, with their cosmetics."

It is known that white face paint was fashionable in Roman times and this colour would normally have been derived from lead acetate. But for Romans exploiting British mineral resources, the tin would have been a more than acceptable substitute.

The fact that the pot had survived nearly 2,000 years intact with the lid tightly sealed made the researchers work a good deal easier.

"I remember when the jar was opened I took a sharp step backwards. The smell was strong and pungent; it smelt of rotten eggs," Grew recalled.

London's name

Professor Evershed added: "It does start to intrigue you - the knowledge that they had of the properties of the materials that they were selecting.

"They weren't choosing materials by accident. They probably had years of observation and experimentation, mixing materials together to alter their properties."



The 1.2 hectare Tabard Square dig revealed the remains of two square, Romano-Celtic temples and a large piazza. It is rare evidence of organised religion in London 2,000 years ago.

Its other major discovery was a white marble inscription with a dedication to the god Mars Camulos. The relic refers to "Londiniensium", meaning "of the people of Londinium".

This is the earliest known reference to London's Roman name.

The Tabard Square site is being covered over by a large residential housing, retail and leisure complex.



Story from BBC NEWS:
news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3978775.stm
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Thu 24 Feb 2005

4:24pm (UK)

Archaeologists Baffled by Headless Bodies Find

By Nick Foley, PA

Archaeologists have been left mystified by the discovery of 36 decapitated bodies, it was revealed today.

Experts from the York Archaeological Trust unearthed the skeletons of 49 young men and seven children at a Roman cemetery they discovered in The Mount area of the city.

But they were stunned to find that most of the men had had their heads chopped off, while another was bound with iron shackles.

Dr Patrick Ottaway, the trust’s head of field word, said he was left baffled by the find because Romans had no tradition of decapitations or shackling men.

“One theory we are working on is that the men’s heads were removed after death with a very sharp implement through the cervical vertebrae.

“After removal their skulls had been placed in the grave by their feet, legs or pelvis as part of a burial ritual.

“Romans also believed that the head was the seat of the soul and they may have cut off their heads to stop them haunting the living.”

He said the men could have been foreign soldiers serving under Emperor Septimuis Severus in 200AD who were burying their dead according to their local tradition.

Dr Ottaway said he would be liaising with archaeologists abroad to see whether burial rituals from Rhineland, where many of soldiers in the Army originated, or North Africa, where the emperor came from, fitted the York deaths.

But the most puzzling discovery was the man found shackled with two iron rings around his feet.

“We haven’t seen anything like this before in Britain. The shackles may have been put on as a punishment or to stop the dead escaping.

“York has quite a reputation for ghosts and Romans were terrified of them and their influence.”

Researchers will carry out tests on the skeletons in an attempt to find out more about the men and why they had been decapitated.

Archaeologists also discovered pottery at the cemetery, during a three-month excavation at the site, which is being redeveloped by building contractors.

The Trust had targeted the area because it lays alongside the main Roman road leading to York from Tadcaster. Romans forbid burials near settlements so most cemeteries were located alongside roads.
Source

Mystery over decapitated Roman skeletons found under York street

by Andrew Hitchon


A MACABRE mystery from York's ancient past has been uncovered in a city street.

Experts from York Archaeological Trust have unearthed an "extraordinary" Roman cemetery near The Mount.

They found 56 skeletons, of 49 young men and seven children - perhaps not unusual in itself, since the Roman route which ran approximately along the present Tadcaster Road was lined with cemeteries.

But most of these young men had been decapitated - and one of those was bound with shackles, a find believed to be the only one of its kind in the Roman world. Now the skeletons, and other remains like pottery found with them, have been taken to be cleaned and analysed by the trust.

Archaeologists are beginning the task of trying to understand why the heads were removed. Were they executed or killed in battle? Was the decapitation part of a burial ritual, perhaps aimed at ensuring the dead did not return to haunt the living?

Patrick Ottaway, the trust's head of field work, said he believed the ritual theory was the more likely one, since the state of the bodies suggested the heads were removed after death.

He thought they dated from about 200AD, roughly the period that Emperor Septimius Severus came north to York with an army to fight in Scotland.

Dr Ottaway said one "line of inquiry" was to check whether the bodies could be those of members of that army. They would liaise with archaeologists abroad to see whether any burial rituals from the Rhineland, where many soldiers in Roman armies originated, or North Africa, where the emperor came from, fitted with this find.

Another intriguing find was that of a young child buried in a casket. It was unusual for children of that age to receive elaborate funerals, so this could be a much-loved child, or one from an important family.

But one of the strangest aspects of the find was the shackled body. "That really is odd. We've never had anything like that before, in Roman Britain or the Roman world," said Dr Ottaway.

The shackles consisted of thick iron rings, raising the question of whether this could also be a means of ensuring the dead stayed where they were.

Pupils from the nearby Mount School are in the process of setting up a website about the find, which was on a small plot of land at Driffield Terrace. The site will be used for schoolchildren from all over York.

Updated: 09:54 Thursday, February 24, 2005
Source

They claim decapitation is new but we already know the Romans did an awful lot to corpses:

Evidence, however, tells a different story. It points to religious and ritual killings in Roman Britain, infanticide, punishment burials and mutilation of bodies after death. Some of the evidence is very strange; and not all of it can be explained with certainty. But one thing is clear. The Romans in Britain did not always treat the dead as we would wish to be treated now.

........

Most Roman burials, of course, were carried out with respect for the humanity of the deceased. Key characteristics include care for the integrity of the body - by thorough cremation or well-protected inhumation - and concern for future well-being, especially on the immediate post-mortem journey. This was expressed in the provision of food, drink, light, money for the fare and boots for walking.

A substantial minority of burials, however, show a different and darker attitude to corpses. These rough burials are often written off as 'careless', but the patterns are too consistent across Roman Britain for simple negligence to be the explanation. These disturbing burials include bodies that are dismembered, mutilated, bound, buried face down, decapitated, with signs of violence other than warfare, or with evidence for defleshing and exposure. The two most common variants are prone (face-down) and decapitated burials.

Most cemeteries, especially in rural and poor urban areas, include a few prone burials. They tend to lie on the edge of cemeteries or just outside the boundary. Few have proper grave goods or coffins, though some are - in all other respects - apparently normal burials. One prone burial, for example, from Poundbury near Dorchester in Dorset, was found in a coffin with quite wealthy grave goods, though this in itself marked him out in this apparently Christian cemetery where grave goods were rare.

Some prone burials show definite signs of violence. They may for example be weighted down with large stones, be decapitated, or have hands tied behind their backs, outflung or in a pressing-up posture, as if the person was conscious when he or she was thrown into the grave. The newly-published cemetery at Alington Avenue in Dorchester, Dorset, contained a prone male whose lower right arm and hand had been hacked off around the time of death.

In London's Eastern Cemetery, where 14 bodies (three per cent of the total) were prone, two had large blocks of stone on their lower back, and another appeared to have her arms tied behind her back. At Butt Road in Colchester, two prone men outside the cemetery boundary appear to have been bound at the wrists, and their ankles bones had been gnawed as if their corpses had been left exposed.
And I agreew ith their conclusion:

One likely explanation may be the desire to prevent the ghosts of the dead walking among the living - especially where other signs of constraint are found. One congenitally deaf child at Poundbury, for example, had been laid prone with stone tiles over the coffin, seemingly to make sure there could be no escape from the grave.

..........

Decapitated bodies in Roman cemeteries suggest the same range of possible explanations as for prone burials - fear of ghosts walking, criminal execution, mutilation of a criminal's body after death, even religious sacrifice.

Yet the variations between decapitated burials are intriguing. Sometimes the head is placed back in its correct anatomical position; sometimes it is placed between the legs or near the feet. Occasionally an extra head is supplied for an otherwise completely normal burial. In some instances, the neck vertebrae show no evidence of cutting, suggesting that the head was removed from a skeleton that had been allowed to decompose fully. Again, a fear of ghosts walking may be the best explanation for burials that appear 'respectful' in all other ways.
Source (which contains a lot more examples of poena post mortem).

So it seems pretty likely this was part of their way of dealing with troublesome corpses which had the potential to turn into the restless dead.
 

Alexius4

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Good article :)

Poena post mortem reflected a classical concern with the well-being of the deceased being linked to their mortal remains; desecration was the flip side of that. Achilles' abuse of Hector's corpse in the Illiad and the tragedy that develops from Creon's decision to leave the bodies of the Theban rebels exposed in Antigone are key literary examples. It is interesting to see evidence of the practise making it into the furthest flung corner of the classical world.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Alexius said:
It is interesting to see evidence of the practise making it into the furthest flung corner of the classical world.
Its possible that it is in these far flung corners that these practices were more common. Things would be far less secure on the frontier and they'd be constantly confronted by danger and people who had the potential to come back and do you harm after they died. I'd imagine this probbaly crops up in places or times of stress - I have an interesting of prone burial from WWI for example.

See the "Native American Witch 'Killing'" thread for other details:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=19188
 

mrpoultice

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While decapatation is known from burial in Roman Britain, a couple of people at work yesterday made a fair point. Qouting a work colleague...


49 Romans is just over half a century. A cohort was about 480 legionaries. However the Romans practised decimation as an extreme form of military punishment which meant executing one in every ten soldiers. This could have been decimation of a whole cohort!

Mr P
 

Melf

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/mid/4727077.stm

Roman lead industry found in bog

Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a Roman lead smelting site in a peat bog in Ceredigion.


Dating back about 2,000 years, Cambria Archaeology said mines in the Borth area could have supplied the heavy, bluish-grey metal for production.

It added that blocks of Welsh lead may have even been transported to other parts of the Roman Empire.

Last year, archaeologists hinted they had found a Roman "industrial estate", but until now had little evidence.

In June last year, Cambria Archaeology, from Llandeilo, unearthed a medieval track on the edge of Cors Fochno (Borth Bog) in Llancynfelyn, near Borth.

It described it as the best preserved example of its type in Wales.


Carbon dating carried out on fragments of wood from the site dated back to 900 or 1020AD.

But further probing by archaeologists uncovered evidence of lead smelting underneath the track.

They returned to the site at the end of May with students from the University of Birmingham, who helped last year, and specialists from Lampeter University.

Now, after analysing data, archaeologists are confident they have stumbled across something significant.

"In Wales, this is of national significance. To find two key sites on top of each other is rare", said project leader Nigel Page.


"We've found a furnace and lead smelting base and although we have to do further scientific dating, we think it probably dates back about 2,000 years.

"As it is today, lead was an important commodity in Roman times and it's possible blocks or ingots were stamped with the legion identification and sent to other parts of the empire".

Mr Page said lead mines dotted throughout the area could hold further evidence of a Roman lead industry.

"There a number of lead mines in the area and it's possible these date back to Roman times and supplied lead for production," Mr Page added.

The smelting site has now been backfilled, although photographs have been taken of the find.

(c) bbc 05
 

rynner2

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Ancient body prompts new theories

A Roman sarcophagus discovered near Trafalgar Square could lead to the map of Roman London being redrawn.
The limestone coffin containing a headless skeleton was found during excavations at St-Martin-in-the-Fields Church, central London.

The find, which dates from around 410AD, lies outside what were the city walls of Roman London.

Archaeologists previously thought Westminster possibly contained Roman roads but not sacred buildings.

Taryn Nixon, director of the Museum of London Archaeology Service, said: "It means that perhaps St-Martin-in-the-Fields has been a sacred site for far, far, far longer than we previously thought.

"This gives us an extraordinary glimpse of parts of London we haven't seen before, particularly Roman London and Saxon London.

"All of a sudden we're having to rethink what Roman London really was. This work has literally stopped us in our tracks and given us a new phrase, Roman Westminster."

Sacred site

Vicar Rev Nicholas Holtam said: "I can't tell you how thrilling it is to have discovered these finds.

"St Martin's history tells us that the earliest church that we know of on the site was there in 1222, but these discoveries take us way before that.

"It's certainly a sacred site, possibly a Christian site, going right back into the late Roman period."

It is thought the skeleton's head was removed by workmen building a sewer during the Victorian period.

Excavations began at St-Martin-in-the-Fields in January 2006 as part of £36m renovations at the church.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6196972.stm
 

ramonmercado

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Roman "Curse Tablet" Discovered in England
Kate Ravilious
for National Geographic News

December 5, 2006
Archaeologists in Leicester, England, have recently uncovered a treasure trove of Roman and medieval artifacts, including a 1,700-year-old Roman "curse tablet."

Curse tablets were metal scrolls on which ancient Romans wrote spells to exact revenge for misdeeds, often thefts of money, clothing, or animals.



Such tablets have been discovered previously in Britain, often near ancient Roman temple sites, but this is the first one to be found in Leicester (see United Kingdom map).

The Leicester tablet, which was uncovered near the ruins of a large Roman townhouse dating from the second century A.D., was found unrolled. Curse tablets were typically rolled up and nailed to posts inside temples or shrines.

The newfound tablet appears to have been written by, or on behalf of, a man named Servandus, whose cloak had been stolen.

The writer inscribed a curse into a sheet of lead, asking the god Maglus to destroy the thief.

Measuring around 8 inches (20 centimeters) long and 3 inches (7 centimeters) wide, the tablet reads:

"To the god Maglus, I give the wrongdoer who stole the cloak of Servandus. Silvester, Roimandus … that he destroy him before the ninth day, the person who stole the cloak of Servandus …" A list of the names of 18 or 19 suspects follows.

Richard Buckley, co-director of the University of Leicester Archaeological Services, which is conducting the excavation, said the discovery provides crucial clues about life in Roman Britain. The names on the lead sheet are of particular interest, he noted.

"Some of [the names] are Celtic, and some are Roman. It helps us to understand the cultural makeup of the population," he said.

The tablets are thought to have been issued by ordinary people, rather than the wealthy, Buckley added, which helps explain why a missing garment called for action from the gods.

"If a cloak is all that you have, then it is pretty important," he said.
The excavations are part of a major dig involving a team of 60 archaeologists from the University of Leicester.




Over the last three years nearly 10 percent of the city center has been excavated prior to the construction of new commercial and residential development.

The dig has produced a wealth of artifacts from the period when the Roman Empire ruled Britain, from about A.D. 43 to 410.

In addition to Servandus' curse tablet, the Roman townhouse excavation has produced another curse tablet that has yet to be translated, along with thousands of shards of pottery, Roman weighing scales, coins, brooches, gaming pieces, animal bone, and hairpins.

At other sites in the city the archaeologists have uncovered medieval churches dating from the 11th to the 16th centuries, as well as graveyards with more than 1,600 burial sites.

The archaeologists also found a medieval street frontage of four properties, one of which had evidence of a brewery in its backyard.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... curse.html
 

synchronicity

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Thanks for posting this, it's fascinating!

But who--or what--is Maglus??? :confused: I know that the Romans and other pagans worshipped a large number of gods and goddesses, but Maglus is a new name for me! :shock:

I wonder if Maglus is perhaps a Celtic god (or goddess)?

Anyone got any ideas who this Maglus character is?

And I'm miffed at a few people at present--do you suppose if I "offered" them to Maglus that he could settle a few scores for me?? :mrgreen:
 

ramonmercado

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Lost roman settlements found

Roman and Iron age settlements have been discovered by chance during developments on a major road in North Yorkshire. Archaeologists, called to the site at the A66, found the remains of a Roundhouse together with square buildings, ditches and pits near the Melsonby crosrsroads. The A66 follows the route of a Roman road dating to the first century AD. It is thought that these finds might be related to a larger settlement on the other side of the road. "It's fantastic that we've been able to uncover all these settlements and artefacts ahead of these schemes.” Said Highways Agency project manager Lynne Biddles “We can now piece together the history of this area and preserve it for the wider community to enjoy."

(January 31st)
Charlie Cottrell

http://www.historytoday.com/dt_article_ ... ?gid=30039
 

bazizmaduno

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synchronicity wrote:
wonder if Maglus is perhaps a Celtic god (or goddess)?

Anyone got any ideas who this Maglus character is?
Interesting, this one!

From here
http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/manxnb/v10p061.htm

...What remains of the inscription reads Cunuamagli ma ... , thus:-

[pic of cuniform representation of Cunamaglima]

The letters ma are followed by parts of two of the digits for q, and the whole word was, doubtless, maqi, the ancient genitive of the word for 'son,' and this, in its turn, was followed by the name of the father or the mother of the person whose grave the stone served to mark. Now Cunamagli is easy to identify: I mean the name. not the person bearing it, for I have no notion who he was. Cunamagli, then, as a name is a genitive of the second declension, if I may be allowed to borrow an old-fashioned term of Latin grammar; and if it occurred in Roman capitals in Wales or Cornwall, it would be found written Cunomagli. The genitive actually occurs in the somewhat later form Conomagli, in the life of a Breton Saint, which mentions a man called Maglus Conomagli filius.-* Then we have the still later form Conmægl, given in the Saxon Chronicle, as the name of one of the Welch kings vanquished by Ceawlin, at the battle of Deorham, in the year 577. In modern Welch the name is reduced to Cynfael, and sometimes to Cynfal. Its corresponding late Irish forms are Conmal and Coitmhal: Etymologically it was entitled to have its a marked long (written á ) in compensation for the elided guttural. Similarly the simple Maglus is represented in Irish by Mál, which is said to have meant a prince or hero.
When on considers
...The inscription is currently being translated by a specialist at the University of Oxford. He notes that the Latin of the script reflects the spoken language in several ways. There are 18 or 19 names, a mixture of commonplace Roman (like Silvester and Germanus), Celtic (like Riomandus and Cunovendus), and 'Roman' names found in Celtic-speaking provinces (like Regalis). The god's name might be a title - 'prince' in Celtic.
I think 'Maglus' is a regional (dialectical, if you will) form for the newish 'God', Jesus Christ - or maybe Magdalen even :?:

on another point

Proto-IE: *meg'a- (/ *meg'ha-)

Nostratic etymology:

Meaning: big, great

...

Celtic: Gaul Magio-rīx, Are-magios, etc., dat. sg. Magalu (Göttername), Magalus PN, dat. sg. Maglo (Götter- und Personnenname); OIr sup. maissiu `maximus'; MIr maignech `gross' (?); maige `gross' (?), Poimp Maige `Pompeius Magnus'; mag-lord `Keule' < *mago-lorgā `grosser Knüttel', māl `Edler, Vornehmer, Fürst, König', mass `stattlich' (< *maksos); Cymr Macl-gwn, OBret Maglo-cune, Cono-maglus
from http://starling.rinet.ru/cgi-bin/et...=/data/ie/germet&text_number=+500&root=config

Maybe 'Maglus' was just some local big fat bloke who liked giving people a smack.
 

ramonmercado

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Coin shows Cleopatra's ugly truth

The images of Antony and Cleopatra are less than flattering
Antony and Cleopatra, one of history's most romantic couples, were not the great beauties that Hollywood would have us believe, academics have said.
A study of a 2,000-year-old silver coin found the Egyptian queen, famously portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor, had a pointed chin, thin lips and sharp nose.

Her Roman lover, played by Richard Burton, had bulging eyes, thick neck and a hook nose.

The tiny coin was studied by experts at Newcastle University.

The size of a modern 5p piece, the artefact from 32BC was in a collection belonging to the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle, which is being researched in preparation for the opening of a new Great North Museum.

The image of Cleopatra as a beautiful seductress is a more recent image

Lindsay Allason-Jones, Newcastle University

Clare Pickersgill, the university's assistant director of archaeological museums, said: "The popular image we have of Cleopatra is that of a beautiful queen who was adored by Roman politicians and generals.

"Recent research would seem to disagree with this portrayal, however."

The university's director of archaeological museums, Lindsay Allason-Jones, said: "The image on the coin is far from being that of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

"Roman writers tell us that Cleopatra was intelligent and charismatic, and that she had a seductive voice but, tellingly, they do not mention her beauty.


The Hollywood couple may have perpetrated a Hollywood myth

"The image of Cleopatra as a beautiful seductress is a more recent image."

The silver denarius coin would have been issued by the mint of Mark Antony.

On one side is the head of Mark Antony, bearing the caption "Antoni Armenia devicta" meaning "For Antony, Armenia having been vanquished".

Cleopatra appears on the reverse of the coin with the inscription "Cleopatra Reginae regum filiorumque regum", meaning "For Cleopatra, Queen of kings and of the children of kings".

The university hopes more forgotten treasures will come to light before the Great North Museum opens in 2009.

The Roman coin is on display in Newcastle University's Shefton Museum from 14 February.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/engl ... 357311.stm
 

GNC

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They had a great sense of humour, though.
 

ramonmercado

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Recycling in medieval times


One of the star exhibits at the British Museum has offered up clues to the recycling practices of medieval craftsmen. Investigations on the thirteenth century reliquary of St Eustace have revealed that the majority of gems decorating the artefact were carved from re-used pieces of Roman glass.

Louise Joyner and Ian Freestone of Cardiff University’s School of History and Archaeology used Raman microspectroscopy and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry to examine the ancient stones without causing them any damage or removing them from their settings. Their investigation showed that five of the gems decorating the reliquary, (a container constructed to hold holy relics) could be dated to the Roman period whilst two further gems appeared to be recycled from a different period. Only one glass stone was found to have medieval glass composition.

Together with British Museum curator James Robinson, Joyner and Freestone found that coloured glass gemstones were used widely in place of natural gemstones. “The glass used for these gemstones was found to be mainly of a Roman composition indicating that glass about 1000 years old was reused to make these coloured glass gems.” Said Dr Joyner. The reliquary is formed of two parts; a wooden carving in the shape of a man’s head in which fragments of a skull, thought to be that of St Eustace, were kept.

The second part is a metal crown of silver gilt onto which the colourful gemstones are set. St Eustace was a general under the Roman Emperor Trajan who converted to Christianity after seeing a vision of a stag with a luminous crucifix between its antlers whilst out hunting on Good Friday. The report Crowning glory: the identification of gems on the head reliquary of St Eustace from the Basle Cathedral Treasury is published in the latest issue of Journal of Gemmology. (February 26th)

Charlie Cottrell

Roman
 

rynner2

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Roman settlement found next to 'devil's hill'
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
Last Updated: 1:55am GMT 10/03/2007

Evidence of a Roman sacred site has been discovered at the foot of a man-made hill created thousands of years before the Romans arrived in Britain, it was announced yesterday.

English Heritage called the uncovering of the settlement a "startling discovery", and all the more so because it lies next to 5,000-year-old Silbury hill, which at 130ft is Europe's largest man-made prehistoric monument.

The original purpose and use of the Neolithic hill, which took an estimated 20 million man hours to make, still mystifies archaeologists.

Yesterday's disclosure indicates that a Roman community was equally taken with the Wiltshire hill and established a sacred settlement in its shadow, some 3,000 years after it was created.

The discovery of a settlement the size of 24 football pitches is "quite unexpected" said Dr Amanda Chadburn, an English Heritage archaeologist and team leader. "Although there were hints - the odd Roman coin kicking around - that the Romans were doing something around there we did not know what. This is an important Roman settlement."

The site straddled the Roman road from London to Bath where it crossed the Winterbourne River.

But it was more than just a way station for weary travellers. The Romans were as intrigued by Silbury as people are today, and there is even a tantalising hint of a temple.

"There are a lot of legends about it being built by the devil and you wonder what the Romans thought about it," said Dr Chadburn.
http://tinyurl.com/2kafzn
 

ramonmercado

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Roman York skeleton could be early TB victim

The skeleton of a man discovered by archaeologists in a shallow grave on the site of the University of York's campus expansion could be that of one of Britain's earliest victims of tuberculosis. Radiocarbon dating suggests that the man died in the fourth century. He was interred in a shallow scoop in a flexed position, on his left side.


The man, aged 26-35 years, suffered from iron deficiency anaemia during childhood and at 162 centimetres (5ft 4in), was a shorter height than average for Roman males.

The first known case of TB in Britain is from the Iron Age (300 BC) but cases in the Roman period are fairly rare, and largely confined to the southern half of England. TB is most frequent from the 12th century AD in England when people were living in urban environments. So the skeleton may provide crucial evidence for the origin and development of the disease in this country.

The remains were discovered during archaeological investigations on the site of the University's £500 million expansion at Heslington East. Archaeologists unearthed the skeleton close to the perimeter of the remains of a late-Roman masonry building discovered on the site, close to the route of an old Roman road between York and Barton-on-Humber.

The burial site is on part of the campus that will not be built on. The University is developing plans for community archaeology and education visits once the investigations are complete.

Detailed analysis of the skeleton by Malin Holst, of York Osteoarchaeology Ltd, revealed that a likely cause of death was tuberculosis which affected the man's spine and pelvis. She says that it is possible that he contracted the disease as a child from infected meat or milk from cattle, but equally the infection could have been inhaled into the lungs. The disease then lay dormant until adulthood when the secondary phase of the disease took its toll.

Heslington East Fieldwork Officer Cath Neal, of the University's Department of Archaeology, said: "This was a remarkable find and detailed study of this skeleton will provide us with important clues about the emergence of tuberculosis in late-Roman Britain, but also information about what life was like in York more than 1,500 years ago.

"A burial such as this, close to living quarters, is unusual for this period when most burials were in formal cemeteries. It is possible that the man was buried here because the tuberculosis infection was so rare at the time, and people were reluctant to transport the body any distance."

Malin Holst added: "There were signs of muscular trauma and strong muscle attachments indicating that the individual undertook repeated physical activity while he was in good health. There was some intensive wear and chipping on his front teeth which may have been the result of repeated or habitual activity. There was evidence for infection of the bone in both lower limbs but this appeared to be healing at death."

Investigation of the remains is continuing -- Professor Charlotte Roberts, of Durham University, with Professor Terry Brown at Manchester University, is now studying DNA from the skeleton as part of National Environmental Research Council funded research into the origin, evolution and spread of the bacteria that causes TB in Britain and parts of Europe.

Source: University of York

http://www.physorg.com/printnews.php?newsid=140777345
 

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http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/roman-invasion-beach-found-in-kent-949717.html

Roman invasion beach found in Kent

Archaeologists unearth landing point of legions – only now it's two miles from the coast

Independent Online. By David Keys, Archaeology Correspondent. Friday, 3 October 2008

Two metres beneath the Kent countryside, archaeologists have found the beginning of British history. Excavations at Richborough in east Kent have uncovered the original beach – now two and a half miles from the sea – where the Roman legions started their conquest of Britain almost 2,000 years ago. The site represents the moment Britain's prehistory ended and its history began.

The archaeologists from English Heritage have only exposed four square metres of the beach, but the discovery is already shedding new light on the earliest events of the conquest.

Until now, scholars had beendivided as to what orders the Romancommander, Aulus Plautius, first gave on landing in Britain in 43 AD. Some academics had interpreted a set of earthworks exposed by the latest excavation as a fort built to accommodate all or some of the 20,000 legionnaires in the invasion force. Other scholars believed those earthworks were a bridgehead defensive structure, designed to protect the boats of the Roman invasion fleet once they had been hauled on to the beach.

Now the discovery and excavation of the beach itself has pinpointed its geographical relationship to the earthworks, proving that the earthworks were a beachhead defence, protecting around 700 metres of coast. The site is now two and half miles inland because the bay that the Roman fleet sailed into has long been silted up.

Tony Wilmott, an English Heritage archaeologist who has been directing the excavations, believes the site was also a strategic transit point from which some ships set sail again, bound for Chichester, further to the west.

He argues that the Romans sailed first to Richborough (Rutupiae, a name of Celtic origin probably meaning "Muddy Waters") to establish a beachhead, and then waited for a change of wind so at least some could sail safely on to Chichester, where the local tribal ruler was enthusiastically pro-Roman.

For at least a century, the place was the main port of Roman Britain, linking the province to the rest of the empire. In the late first century AD, the Romans built a 25-metre high marble and bronze triumphal arch at Richborough to commemorate their invasion.
Puts a whole new light on the meaning of the 'Sands of Time.' :)
 

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Funnily enough, the reverse also happens in Kent. At Reculver on the north Kent coast, the large ruined twin-towered Norman church was once two or three miles from the sea; now, there is a massive sea wall below the ruins to protect it from high tide and storms!

Fortean link - Reculver Towers is alleged to be haunted. I myself have seen a ghostly light pass a window arch between the towers late at night - the single door to the stairs was firmly locked. Also, during bad weather, the cries of babies is said to emanate from the ruins - but this is probably an acoustic oddity.
 

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'Exceptional' Roman coins hoard

One of the largest deposits of Roman coins ever recorded in Wales, has been declared treasure trove.

Nearly 6,000 copper alloy coins were found buried in two pots in a field at Sully, Vale of Glamorgan by a local metal detector enthusiast in April.

After the ruling by the Cardiff coroner, a reward is likely to be paid to the finder and landowner.

It is hoped the coins will be donated to National Museum Wales, which has called the find "exceptional".

Two separate hoards were found by the metal detectorist on successive days, one involving 2,366 coins and the other 3,547 coins, 3m away.

The 1,700-year-old coins dated from the reigns of numerous emperors, notably Constantine I (the Great, AD 307-37), during whose time Christianity was first recognised as a state religion.

Edward Besly, the museum's coin specialist called it an "exceptional find".

He said: "The coins provide further evidence for local wealth at the time. They also reflect the complex imperial politics of the early fourth century."

'Time of danger'

It is thought the two hoards were buried by the same person, possibly two years apart. A similar find was uncovered in the area in 1899.

"There was quite a bit of Roman activity in the area at the time, southwards from Cardiff Castle, where there was a Roman fort, to the Knap at Barry where there was an administrative building and there were farms in the Sully area," said Mr Besly.

"There's a human story there somewhere but it's intangible, we can't really get to it but certainly somebody buried two pots of coins."

"It could have been they were buried for safe keeping, possibly at a time of danger."

It is hoped the coins will be given over to the museum for further study and to go on public display.

Also declared treasure by the coroner were two bronze axes from Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan.

Discovered in June 2008, they were buried together as a small hoard. The two complete bronze socketed axes have ribbed decoration and are examples of the south Wales type, dating to the late bronze age (1000-800 BC).

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/u ... 699953.stm
 
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