Sicily was famed in antiquity for its agricultural prosperity. An eloquent witness of its late Roman wealth is provided by the great villa near Piazza Armerina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, but the villa, built c.AD 320/330, is not unique in Sicily. Tucked away in the south-east corner of the island in the province of Syracuse, 5km south of the wonderful baroque town of Noto, is another rich Roman villa. It is not as large, but it was also constructed in the 4th century and also boasts fine mosaics. The site is little known, however, and barely gets any visitors at all.
A Viking ship burial has been discovered at the site of Gjellestad in south-eastern Norway. It was first identified during a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey, and is now being excavated by the Museum of Cultural History, Oslo.
The Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha was obsessed with defending his ‘paradise on earth’. He feared invasion by NATO troops using a combination of amphibious landings and parachutists. As a result, he covered the country with thousands of mushroom-like bunkers, concealed trenches, and anti-aircraft guns. From the sea to the mountains, Albania became a fortress. This extraordinary martial investment had one unexpected outcome. During construction of an anti-aircraft installation close to Fshati i Vjetër, ‘The Old Village’ high on Mount Mile, overlooking Butrint, ancient Buthrotum, and the Straits of Corfu, an exquisite bronze statuette of the god, Pan, came to light in 1981.
Since its discovery by the British officer Tony Clunn in the late 1980s, the German site of Kalkriese in Lower Saxony, north of Osnabrück, has been considered the scene of the AD 9 Varus Disaster, so impressively described by ancient authors such as Tacitus and Cassius Dio.
A study of the architecture of ancient Greek temples and sanctuaries dedicated to healing has determined that these spaces were deliberately made accessible to individuals with impaired mobility.
When hotel construction work unearthed extraordinary mosaics, the owners decided to create a new archaeological park. It showcases what is believed to be the largest known surviving Roman mosaic, as well as some stunning mythological scenes. Anthony Beeson puts us in the picture.
The site of La Hoya in north-central Iberia was a thriving political, social, and economic centre in the Iron Age, but this success was brought to an abrupt end by a violent attack, which took place at some point between the mid 4th and late 3rd centuries BC.
What was it like for a barbarian to become Roman? In the book that I am writing in my retirement, or semi-retirement, on how Greece and Rome became predominant, I have reached one of the most interesting chapters, – and one of the most difficult to write: that of the golden age of Rome in […]
Journeying south from the Serbian Danube presents an opportunity to revel in Roman opulence, as Oliver Gilkes reveals. The Danubian provinces of the Roman world do not get much of a look in as far as history goes. That is not to say there is no history – there is a lot – but seeking out modern accounts is not so easy.
Italy is in lockdown as I write and it feels like Christmas Day, such is the silence. Yet the cuckoos have dodged passport control and are here to herald each day. The fields, incidentally, are now flush with spring flowers. The government decree forbids travel, so I resort to assembling reports on old excavations for a new tome and, as it takes shape, I dwell on whom to dedicate it to. Archaeology is as much about people as it is about the past. So, just as I rework interpretations about past discoveries with each new piece of evidence, so I inevitably revise my thinking about people.
High on a hilltop near the village of Ploçe, Albania, lie the ruins of the ancient polis of Amantia. The city was founded in the 5th century BC and is first mentioned in ancient sources around the middle of the 4th century. It experienced an economic and cultural boom during the Hellenistic period, and from 230 BC started to mint its own coins.
Oliver Gilkes tours the Danube, in the first of a two-part exploration of Serbia’s archaeology. The mighty Danube runs for almost 2,000km from southern Germany to the Black Sea. It forms the backbone of central-southern Europe and was for millennia not only a trade and communications artery, but also a frontier and barrier. Last year, […]