Ancient History News Roundup: April 4 2015

ancienthistory banner 2It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these! There’s a few things in the news lately that prompted me to make another history news post.

1000-year-old Salve Recipe Kills MRSA Cultures (link here)

You may have seen this one in your news feeds last week. What a cool thing to find! I love when history and science team up to do great things. Most interesting is that the ingredients for this recipe are fairly standard things – onions, garlic, bile, a copper bowl – which are not what we think of when we discuss ways to kill viruses!Saqqara-Tomb-Discovery

Two 6th-Dynasty Tombs Discovered Near Saqqara (link here)

The photos of these tombs are really great. I love the images of offerings that are painted on the walls. I haven’t studied funerary offerings too in depth but they are fascinating and I would love to see more focused photos of the artwork.

2,300-year-old Hoard of Silver Coins, Jewelry found in Israel (link here)

Some really neat handfuls of treasure, it looks like! I think ancient earrings are especially interesting to look at. This hoard was found in a cave by a club of cave explorers. It sounds like there were other finds in the cave too, like pottery that had been sitting so long, they have fused with the stalagmites! What awesome photos that would make! (None are currently online, unfortunately.)

Sturdy Roman Villa Unearthed in North Yorkshire (link here)

Archaeologists are digging up the foundations of a villa, and there sounds to be lots of excellent treasures around the site, too. Although, by treasure I mean bits of ancient construction material and glass, so maybe not a universal meaning. It also apparently had an underfloor heating system, which is a smart move for living in Yorkshire.

Archaeologists Unearth Ottoman War Camel in Austria (link here)

An interesting find, this camel is a hybrid of two other sorts of camel species. This made it larger and stronger for the purposes of the Ottomans. Not exactly a super-ancient story, but I think it is worth adding here.


Ancient History News Roundup: March 8 – 13

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Hello history lovers! We’ve got lots of interesting things happening in the news this week. Let’s take a look!

Paintings Discovered in Spain’s Aurea Cave (link here)

A cave in northern Cantabria, Spain, was discovered to have some Palaeolithic drawings inside! The illustrations are fairly basic, just a line and some dots, but are in a dark red pigment and quite interesting to look at.

Another Tomb Discovered at Al-Qurna (link here)Germany Ancient Pretzel

A beautiful 18th Dynasty tomb was found in Luxor! The paintings on the walls apparently show daily practices of the culture. From the photos, they look to be in beautiful colour. There was apparently another find recently that this is similar to but I didn’t hear about that! A link to the other article is in this one.

World’s Oldest Pretzel Found in Bavaria (link here)

Not exactly classical, I admit! But I thought this was a good headline. The baked goods were apparently burned and thrown away, and are from the eighteenth century.

Greek and Roman Coins Rediscovered in Buffalo (link here)

A Classicist found over 50 coins from the Romans and Greeks hidden in the library of the State University of New York in Buffalo. Apparently they were donated in 1935 and lost in the collections! They look to be in great condition!

Six of the best: operas about Roman leaders (link here)

In honour of the upcoming Ides of March, the BBC’s Classical Music Magazine has listed their six best operas about Roman leaders. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t listened to any of them! But I think this would be a good place to start getting into opera, for a Classicist.

Ruins of Roman Amphitheater in Mérida To Be Turned into Paddle Tennis Courts (link here)

The World Padel Tour 2015 is being hosted in Mérida, Spain, and they are turning an amphitheatre from 8 BCE into a tennis court. There are online petitions (link in the article) to protest this, and there are government party members that are vocally opposed to this plan. The use of an ancient site for a modern sporting event is certainly controversial. I can’t imagine that it would be able to avoid serious damage with that kind of traffic and abuse.

Lots to think about! Let me know if there’s anything I missed, and thanks for reading!

Ancient History News Roundup: Feb 28 – March 7

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Coming out a little later this week again! Like so many other historians, archaeologists and scholars, recently I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the damage done to Assyrian archaeological sites by ISIS. While I am still processing this information, I’ll include a handful of links on the subject for your perusal.

ISIS attacks Nimrud, a major Archaeological site in Iraq (link here)

Rundown of the situation at Nimrud by the New York Times, if they’re a source that you trust.

ISIS militants bulldoze ancient archaeological site in Iraq (link here)

Similar story, different sources.

Neolithic Town Unearthed at Greece’s Alepotrypa Cave (link here)

I think I reported before about the two skeletons found embracing each other dating approx. 6,000 years ago. This is a continuation of the story at that site, where they’ve now uncovered an ancient town and burial complex. The neolithic structures were built over by the Mycenaeans about 2,000 years later.TURVKHI-W094_1__TU_2333767f

Ancient Roman coins and artefacts discovered (link here)

Some neat Roman coins have been found by archaeologists outside of Tirupur in India. The images aren’t quite clear and the coins aren’t quite clean, but I’d be interested to see what was actually portrayed on them. This certainly adds to the interesting conversation about the trade routes East of Rome.

Parks and Occupation: Archaeology in the new security (link here)

Great article about archaeology being used as a political tool, particularly in Israel. Go read it.

2,700-Year-Old Osiris Statues, Small Sphinx Unearthed at Karnak (link here)

Some 25th Dynasty artifacts have been discovered in dig sites at Karnak. Some of the pieces are absolutely gorgeous (see the image below. Sounds like a pretty wide range of things discovered, including several statue inlay pieces. Can’t wait to see them all!

Be still my heart (click thru for article)

Ancient History News Roundup: Feb 21 – 27

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Short list this week, just a few things I wanted to include!

Medieval gold hoard in Israel (link here)

The largest hoard of medieval gold coins ever found in Israel has been uncovered. It was found by amateur divers, and it is suspected there is a shipwreck nearby to account for the find. The coins were in fantastic condition and apparently didn’t need any conservation when they were brought up.

Roman tombstone found in Cirencester (link here)

A tombstone belonging to a 27-year old woman named Bodica (or variations thereof) was found in situ. The skeleton close by is believed to be the one associated with the stone. Other burials in the plot indicate a family cemetery. It’s amazing that this piece is intact.

‘Rome in the Provinces’ show at Boston College (link here)

A new show at the McMullen Museum of Art aims to show the relationship between the city of Rome and the provinces of the empire. With exhibits borrowed from a number of institutions, it will explore whether Roman influence on provinces is reciprocal, and if there is visible evidence that the capital was just as influenced in return. This show is on until June 5th.

The Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence (Review) (link here)

More of a reference for myself than anything else, this is a short review about a chilren’s series set in Roman Ostia. I’d love to have a read of this, it’s apparently short (as it is for children) but no reason to not find it entertaining.


Ancient History News Roundup: Feb 14 – 20

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It’s been another busy week in history news. This post is a little Roman-heavy! Here’s the highlights:

How to build a Roman catapult in your backyard (link here)

Now, I don’t know too much about ancient warfare technology myself, but this seems pretty awesome! Over on Popular science this week you get a history lesson and a DIY project to create a little catapult for taking over tiny nations in your backyard. Looks like fun!

Roman cement (link here)

Now this is a topic I find interesting and have heard lectures on before, and this article seems to give a good peek in at the world of ancient construction. However, the author has a BA in chemistry, not classics, and doesn’t give any sources for his work, so I would advise readers to be skeptical, and if you are interested, do some research on this topic on your own!

Wroxeter Cookery Workshop. Photo by English Heritage.
Wroxeter Cookery Workshop. Photo by English Heritage.

Roman cookery workshop in Shropshire (link here)

A workshop is being run in the city of Wroxeter this spring to explore the world of Roman cooking. I love ancient food and this sounds like a great way to learn – interactive with snacks! The city itself has lots of Roman history, so I suspect would be worth exploring in addition to this program. Workshops are on the 25th of February and the 18th of March. If any readers are in the area, definitely consider checking this out!

Management tips from Roman slave owners (link here)

Now this is something I’d love to see some debate over. This article aims to find some common ground between the business practices of today and the structure of society in ancient Rome. It’s an interesting idea, and draws on a discussion from Jerry Toner, the director of classical studies at Churchill College, Cambridge.

Immigration: What the Romans can teach us (link here)

Along the same vein as the last article, this one looks at the issue of immigration. Written by a classics professor, this is a quick read that I think is quite interesting and worth a look. Also a good introduction to Roman citizenship, if that isn’t your forté.

Ancient glass collection + other antiquities donated to Israel Museum (link here)

An awesome collection of artifacts from the Late Bronze Age upward has been donated to the Israel Museum by New York collectors Robert and Renee Belfer. This collection includes glass pieces, vessels, mosaics, and tons of other cool pieces. It’s going on display in an exhibit called “A Roman Villa – The Belfer Collection” running from June 5th to November 21st.

11 Greco-Roman Papyri make their debut in the Egyptian Museum (link here)

Karanis Papyrus, from the University of Michigan

An exhibit of 33 Egyptian artifacts are going on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, including 11 Greco-Roman Papyri. From the article, the writing on these papyri seem really interesting and cast a look into everyday correspondences from the period. There are also a number of statues on exhibit. Would be great to see these!

The Fascinating World of Alcohol Archaeology (link here)

Archaeobotanists – love that title – are looking at the pollen spores left behind in ancient alcohol containers to determine the ingredients and origins of the drinks once stored in them. This obviously takes us outside of the Roman empire, as they were not partial to their grain-based alcohol, but an interesting brew has been made from a container found in a casket in Denmark!

Greek Double Burial (link here)

DNA analysis of a couple found back in 2013 has revealed that they are the skeletons of a man and a woman from approximately 6000 years ago. This makes them the oldest burial of their kind! They are said to appear in their mid-20s and died holding each other. No word on the cause of death for now.

That’s it for now! If you have anything to add, let me know in the comments!

Ancient History News Roundup: Feb 7 – 13

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Lots happening this week, especially in England…let’s do the run-thru!

Nighthawking at Hadrian’s Wall (link to article)

Not a phrase I was familiar with before reading this article, but apparently there is evidence of nighthawking (illegal digging…presumably at night) in the centre region of Hadrian’s wall. This is understandably upsetting, especially the National Trust (who owns the land) and the good folks at Vindolanda, not too far away. Metal detecting by ambitious amateur archaeologists does no good for the historical community, that’s for sure. Hope this doesn’t persist.

Roman Cemetery found in Ipplepen (link to article)

The crews from the University of Exeter have been working at a roadside Roman cemetery, where they’ve recovered fifteen skeletons. This seems to be the biggest cemetery of its kind in Devon, which is pretty awesome. It’s hoped that it will shed more light on the occupants of this region from the Roman period and onwards. The cemetery seems to have been in use after the Roman period, demonstrating continued occupancy. It’ll be interesting to find out the exact chronology of the site.

3300-year-old Mycenaean tomb holds cool stuff (link to article)

Mycenaean Tomb
Mycenaean Tomb

It’s been announced that a vaulted Mycenaean tomb has been uncovered near Amfissa, central Greece. It’s got a horde of treasures and seems to have been undisturbed. Amazing! The ceiling is collapsed but the walls are intact. There are tons of grave goods including painted pottery, jewelry, carved figures, weapons, and all sorts of fantastic things of the variety that we always hope to find in situ. The tomb seems to have been in use between 1300-1100 BCE. Great chance to find out more about the Mycenaeans.

“The Italians” by John Hooper (link to article)

Not the sort of thing I’d normally report on, but NatGeo had an interview with the author of this book and I thought it might be of some interest to readers. It discusses the relationship of modern Italy with the ancient, and I think it could be quite interesting. The author is a Brit so I really wonder how that impacts the work, though apparently he’s lived in Italy for some time. Perhaps something worth checking out, or at least the article.

Grave goods going on display in Aylesbury (link to article)

Metal detectorists strike again. The goods found in a field in Buckinghamshire last year are going on display in the Buckinghamshire County Museum. The grave had a wooden casket and an assortment of pottery and dishes, dated to the late 2nd century AD. Sounds like some pretty interesting finds!

Roman Mosaics found by treasure hunters (link to article)

Over in the central Anatolian province of Yozgat’s Sorgun district, a site with Roman mosaics have been found after being tampered with by illegal diggers. Legal action is underway to try and secure the site as an archaeological find. It looks like the diggers hoped there would be some good finds under the mosaic, and damaged it.

Dig in Brundall gardens hoping to find Roman settlement (link to article)

Cambridge University’s field school is working with local high school students to try and find evidence of Roman settlement. Not too much to report initially, but what a great initiative to get kids involved in archaeology!

Pottery found in Lawford Field (link to article)

From the Lawford site.
From the Lawford site.

A kiln and lots of bits of pottery have been found in a dig in Lawford by the Colchester Archaeological Trust. They’re scouring the area before it gets saddled with new housing developments. Not a fan of that news, but such is progress. The pottery is being taken in for cleaning, so it’ll be interesting to see what they find!

Did I miss anything that you thought was interesting this week? Let me know in the comments!

Ancient History News Roundup: Jan 31 – Feb 6

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Here’s what was cool or interesting in history news this week!

Landslide from heavy rain in Pompeii collapses wall (link to article)

Pompeii’s been getting some pretty heavy weather lately and all that rain led to a landslide that partially collapsed a wall in the garden of the house of Severus. This site was already closed to the public as it’s being excavated by a joint EU-Italian team, so it sounds like nobody was around when it happened. On the plus side, sometimes these sort of natural disasters reveal more cool things hidden in behind — but I bet that is of no comfort to the archaeologists who have been working there. Hope the dig gets back on the go soon.

Credit: Zita Project on the Archaeology, Anthropology and Ethnography of Southern Tunisia

Excavations in Tunisia resume this summer (link to article)

After a couple years of preliminary surveying and selective excavation, it sounds like the dig at Zita in Tunisia is starting some bigger work this summer. Areas of the Roman and Punic city have evidence of a Roman bathhouse, ceramic kilns, metallurgy, and a Punic tomb. This summer’s plans include mapping the area and target excavations, including the Roman Forum area. Interesting to see what they find!

Touring exhibit of Hellenistic bronze sculpture starts soon (link to article)

An international touring exhibit that includes about 50 ancient bronze statues is set to start its showings in March of this year. Going by the name of “Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World”, this show will start in the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, then go to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, then to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. There’s going to be work form the 4th century BC to 1st century AD. Very exciting!

Roman-era burial site in Poland being excavated (link to article)

A necropolis in the Karczyn, Kujawy area has been in the news as they reveal some of the unusual features of this site. The site, which existed continually over a period of 300 years (1st to 4th centuries AD) has been described as having two ‘princely’ graves, as well as burials for what look like soldiers, and some people with items identifying them from the Black Sea area. The funeral rites used are diverse and make for an interesting picture — this is the first tomb of its kind to be found in Poland.

Image from

Roman-themed watch has tiny adorable bust of emperor (link to article)

Do you have $52,000 to spend on a watch? Are you sure? Because this one from Christophe Claret not only is entirely Roman themed, but has a tiny bust of Marcus Aurelius in the middle. It’s apparently modelled after a gold bust of the emperor found in 1939 in Switzerland. The tiny reproduction is just 3 mm high.

Marble bust of Hadrian found (link to article)

A bust of Hadrian, in excellent condition, was revealed to the public yesterday after being found at the Los Torrejones site in Spain. Dated approximately to 135 AD, this adds to the rather large collection of known depictions of Hadrian. The dig on the site is still ongoing. I’ll refer you to the post about it on a favourite blog of mine, Following Hadrian, not only because it’s excellent but they did the translating of the news release from Spanish, which I was waiting for on this article! Thanks!

Reconstructions of early Egyptian houses (link to article)

3D modelling has helped Kacek Karmowski, a PhD student at the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, create his interpretation of Egyptian houses from around the Old Kingdom (2686 – 2181 BC). These houses were made will less durable materials such as wood and mud brick, and the recreations have had to rely somewhat on comparative modern constructions for elements such as the roofs, which are generally the most difficult part to estimate.

Egyptian mummies found floating in sewage (link to article)

Somehow, two Egyptian mummies wrapped in linens and still in their sarcophagi were found floating in a waterway near the city of MInya, south of Cairo. A third empty sarcophagus was also found. They’re dated anytime from the Greco-Roman era, and in pretty poor shape, with the sarcophagi not revealing too much about them. It’s suggested that they may have come to be there after illegal excavations.