Tag Archives: Classical Archaeology

Explore Life & Death of Pompeii & Herculaneum on your iOS Device Courtesy of the British Museum

© British Museum

© British Museum

The British Museum, in conjunction with its exhibit on Pompeii and Herculaneum, has released an iOS App for the iPhone  ($2.99) and the iPad ($5.99). The application allows users to explores the cities via interactive maps, view objects in high resolution and contextual detail, an in depth timeline, and the aftermath of the eruption (including the city’s later discovery and excavation). The application draws from archaeological discoveries, the remains at the cite, historical sources (specifically the account of Pliny the Younger).

Right now, the application is limited to iOS devices but an Android version is planned to be released in May 2013.

For more information on the exhibit and its resources, be sure to check out the British Museum’s online exhibition website.

Top 10 Archaeological Discoveries of 2012

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 12.24.08 PMToday, Archaeology Magazine has rolled out its “Top 10 Discoveries of 2012.” The list includes (in no particular order):

Maya Sun God Mask

Neanderthal Medicine Chest

First Use of Poison

Aztec Ritual Burial

Caesar’s Gallic Outpost

Europe’s Oldest Engraving

The First Pots

Scottish “Frankenstein” Mummy

2,000 Year Old Stashed Treasure

Oldest Egyptian Funerary Boat


New Research Suggests Carthage Baby Cemetery Not for Sacrificial Victims

One of the infamous characteristics of Ancient Carthage was, according to their Roman enemies, their prolific practice of child sacrifice. Many ancient historians mention the practice, the most colorful by Diodorus Siculus

Denis Jarvis; burial ground of Tophet

“There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus extending its hands, palms up and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire.” Hist20.14.6

New research suggests that the child burials of Carthage may not in fact be evidence of the practice (or at least of it being wide-spread). Rather, they are burial sites for infants and fetuses that died as a result of premature birth. Infant mortality was high in the ancient world (in some cases, 40% of children died before reaching their fifth birthday). The loss of a child during pregnancy or birth was also a common occurrence.

Jeffrey Schwartz, Ph.D. asserts that the majority of burials found here represent children that died of natural causes and not from the horrific murder of infants to the God Ba’al.

To learn more about these findings, read the article at MSNBC or purchase the more extensive Academic Journal Article at Antiquity.

Archaeologists Uncover Statues of the Children of Antony & Cleopatra

One of the most famous love stories of history, that of Antony and Kleopatra, has had a new piece to the puzzle added with the discovery of a new statue that archaeologists believe depict their children: Alexander Helios (the Sun) and Kleopatra Selene II (the Moon). The children, twins, were Kleopatra’s second and third child (having already given birth to Caesarion, the son of Julius Caesar). They would have a third child later, Ptolemy Philadelphus.

Caesarion, a potential and dangerous heir to rival Augustus, was put to death. However, the children of Antony and Kleopatra were actually given to Augustus’s sister, Octavia  (the Roman legal wife of Mark Antony) to raise and educate. Reportedly, she loved them deeply and grieved the loss of her adopted sons. Years later, the sons of Antony would disappear from history, but the daughter, Kleopatra Selene, was married off to King Juba II (a prominent Eastern King) and seemed to serve as co-regent.

To learn more about the discovery, see the article in Discovery News.

Construction Workers Find Largest Hoard of Roman Coins in England

Construction workers laying ground for a new hotel in the region of Roman Bath hit upon the largest hoard of Roman coins ever uncovered in England. The hoard contains more than 30,000 silver pieces dating to around 270 CE. This time period coincides with withdrawal of the Roman Empire from the frontier and waves of “barbarian” invasions on the island. In a time before banks, rapid burials of ones personal assets was common (and if the owner didn’t return for some reason, they are regularly found by construction workers and treasure hunters with metal detectors).

The coins at some point were exposed to extreme heat and are fused together – making precise dating and identification difficult.

“Conservators at the British Museum are taking a whole year to do the work. There are believed to be more than 30,000 coins, making this one of the fifth largest hoards ever found in Britain and the largest from a Roman town,”

To learn more about the discovery and its significance, read the blog post on Discovery News.

The Romans – in Ireland

Although the Romans never actually went to ireland, confining themselves to the Big Island (and only making a brief foray into Scotland), it turns out that the Irish occupants did in fact interact with the Romans.

A new Irish Archaeological organization called the Discovery Programme is beginning to research how much of the Romans impacted and interacted with the Irish (including investigations into the possibility of a Roman invasion). While Irish archaeologists have uncovered Roman goods (ceramic-ware, beads, jewelry, etc), until now there has been little investigation into Ireland’s “Roman heritage.”

To read more about new archaeological investigations and the new Discovery Programme, see this article in the Irish Times: “So What Have the Romans Ever Done for US?

The Search for Rome’s “Lost Aqueduct”

This edition of Archaeology Magazine highlights the quest of modern archaeologists and explorers in locating the original source of the famed Aqua Traina – built by the Emperor Trajan in the 1st century CE. Aqueducts were the key to sustaining the large population of the ancient city of Rome and even today, stand as a testament to Roman engineering and industrialization.

To learn more about the role of aqueducts, see the article: “How a Roman Aqueduct Works.”

To learn more about the quest to find the source of the Aqua Traina, see the article: “Rome’s Lost Aqueduct” at Archaeology Magazine.