Stories tagged ancient Romans

Jun
17
2011

An explorer of the past!: But aren't we all?
An explorer of the past!: But aren't we all?Courtesy cobalt123
Beneath the remains of a Roman-era, three-story apartment building in the destroyed city of Herculaneum, archaeologists have found a king’s ransom in brown gold.

(Herculaneum, by the way, was a neighboring city to Pompeii, and it was likewise destroyed and buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.)

I don’t want to get in trouble for corrupting young minds (again), so I can’t tell you straight out what the “brown gold” is. But let it be known that this rich seam is telling archaeologists a lot about what the ancient residents of Herculaneum ate. Also, it rhymes with “trap.”

Recovered from an 86-meter-long septic tank-like section of sewer, the ancient, compacted gold fills over 770 bags, and seems to indicate that the buildings’ former residents, despite their low- or middle-class status, had a surprisingly varied diet. They ate fish, vegetables, fruit, eggs, olives, walnuts, sea urchins, and lots of figs. Also, they ate dormice, which is simply adorable.

Archaeologists working at the site say that it’s lucky that the gold wasn’t discovered before, because the technology for analyzing the material wasn’t available until relatively recently. Also they just didn’t appreciate this sort of thing back then.*

*This last statement is based on how I imagine my grandmother would react if I explained the discovery to her. Fortunately she’s dead, so it probably won’t come up.

May
15
2007

Israeli archaeologists think they've discovered King Herod's tomb. (The original article has video and a map.)

Herod, elected "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate, was a prolific builder. He expanded the Jewish Second Temple in Jerusalem. But he's also, according to the New Testament, the king who ordered the slaying of all infants in Bethlehem.

No skeletons or other remains have been found, but the archaeologists did uncover a sarcophagus--smashed to pieces by ancient vandals. The scientists think that Jewish rebels--in an act of symbolic vengeance against the Roman rulers they came to hate--probably destroyed the tomb some 70 years after Herod's death.

Check out the May "Object of the Month"--it's a Roman glass bottle found in Caesarea Maritimas, in Israel. (You can see photos of the ruins, and a map.) Caesaria was one of several cities built by King Herod