Roman village discovered in London suburb

Roman London Archaeology
Archaeologists working in the west London suburb of Brentford have discovered a Roman village.

The 2,000 year-old village was along a road leading out of London (called Londinium back then) to Silchester, another Roman settlement. Archaeologists found several houses, a stretch of the original road, plus numerous burials and artifacts. The site is located on the grounds of Syon House, the stately home of the Duke of Northumberland.

This isn’t the first find on the Duke’s property. For the past six years an archaeology team has been excavating a medieval abbey there.

The excavation that found the Roman site was done to clear the way for a new Waldorf Astoria hotel. Some of the artifacts will be on display at the hotel once it opens later this year.

Despite being a massive city that’s been built, burned, rebuilt, bombed, and rebuilt again, London has managed to retain some remnants of its Roman past. A mithraeum, a temple dedicated to the god Mithras, is right downtown at the corner of Queen St. and Queen Victoria St., as you can see in the above picture. There are stretches of Roman wall nearby and an excellent display of artifacts in the Museum of London.

Strangely, the announcement of this discovery came at the same time as an announcement by Egyptologists of a discovery of a sphinx-lined road under an apartment complex in Luxor, Egypt. Makes you wonder what’s underneath your basement.

Roman ruins in Turkey to be flooded by dam project

One of the most important Roman archaeological sites in Turkey will soon be underwater.

The Roman spa town of Allianoi will be submerged beneath a reservoir once the nearby Yortanli dam becomes operational. The town was built in the second century AD near Bergama (ancient Pergamon) and has remained remarkably preserved. Archaeologists have uncovered baths, sculptures, artifacts, and elaborate mosaics that are giving them insights into Roman medicine and culture.

The site has become a battleground between archaeologists and European Union cultural officials on one side, and the Turkish government and farmers on the other. Local farmers are eager to see the dam finished because it will irrigate almost 20,000 acres of land. The EU has weighed in on the controversy because Turkey hopes to become a member state, yet the construction goes against both EU and Turkish heritage preservation laws.

Ironically, the site was only discovered because of an archaeological survey conducted in anticipation of the dam’s construction.

Only a quarter of the town has been excavated so far. Workers are currently burying the site in sand in order to protect it when it gets inundated.

[Photo courtesy Cretanforever via Wikimedia Commons]

GadlingTV’s Travel Talk – Ancient Rome

GadlingTV’s Travel Talk, episode 24 – Click above to watch video after the jump

Well, we got to Rome in style and now it’s time to hit the streets & explore. The city’s history spans over two and half thousand years and it seems like everywhere you go, there’s something interesting to discover.

This episode, we’ll take you on a whirlwind tour of some of Rome’s most iconic monuments & show you one of the city’s best kept secrets: the American Academy in Rome. On the couch, we’ll do an impossibly brief look at city’s history as the capital of three major eras; the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. So put on your tourist hat (we won’t tell), get your running shoes on and come check out Rome!

If you have any questions or comments about Travel Talk, you can email us at talk AT gadling DOT com.

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Learn more about the exclusive American Academy in Rome right here.
Did we get an exclusive sneak peek at an archeological milestone? Read up on the Lead Burrito.
Check out our fancy digs! The Regina Baglioni in Rome.
Need a tour group? Check out I.C. Bellagio – our gracious guides to Rome’s rich history.

Hosts: Aaron Murphy-Crews, Stephen Greenwood

Produced, Edited, and Directed by: Stephen Greenwood, Aaron Murphy-Crews, Drew Mylrea

More Egyptian pyramids to open to the public

Visitors to Egypt have always flocked to the pyramids of Giza and Saqqara. Many people don’t realize, however, that these are only the most famous of more than a hundred pyramids in the country. In fact, there’s a whole “pyramid field” to the west of Cairo that includes Giza, Saqqara, and numerous other groupings across a long swath of desert. Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities is now opening some of them to visitors for the first time.

At Dahshur, more than a dozen pyramids give an interesting lesson in pyramid construction. The largest of these were built in the Fourth Dynasty (c. 2613 to 2494 BC) just prior to those at Giza. The founder of this dynasty, the Pharaoh Sneferu, was quite the pyramid builder. His first attempt was at Meidum, 100 km (62 miles) south of Cairo. It collapsed, and he moved his workmen to Dahshur for his next try.

This was the famous Bent Pyramid, pictured above in a photo from Jon Bodsworth’s excellent collection at the Egypt Archive. Check out the gallery below for more of his work. The architects started building the pyramid at a 55 degree angle, but when the structure showed signs of weakness they chickened out and built the rest at a more stable angle of 43 degrees. This gives the pyramid unique appearance. The pyramid’s two interior passages will open for the first time to visitors in December. A third passage leads 25 meters (82 ft) to a nearby smaller pyramid of Sneferu’s queen so the two could have conjugal visits in the afterlife. His third try was the Red Pyramid, built at the safer 43 degree angle. It held up nicely and is the third largest pyramid in Egypt at 104 meters (345 ft) tall.

Other pyramids at Dahshur include smaller examples from later dynasties. They aren’t nearly as grandiose as the earlier ones, perhaps because later rulers couldn’t command as much authority or they simply had other things they needed to spend their money on. The Black Pyramid of Amenemhat III (c. 1860-1814 BC) makes for an odd photo. To save money, the architects only used stone on the outside, and when later generations stole it for other building projects, the mud brick interior was revealed. This has been weathering away for the last four thousand years and now looks a bit deflated, although it’s still impressive.

%Gallery-97617%Between Giza and Saqqara lies the royal necropolis of Abusir, home to 14 pyramids that will open to the public this month. The necropolis on the outskirts of modern-day Cairo was started in the fifth dynasty (c. 2494 to 2345 BC) after the previous dynasty had filled up Giza with pyramids and temples. Abusir’s pyramids are smaller than those at Giza, and some have all but disappeared after millennia of weathering, but the site is still worth visiting. Most are step pyramids like the famous one at Saqqara, not flat-sided “true” pyramids like those at Giza. Some have smaller pyramids next to them to house the pharaoh’s queens.

One pyramid, that of the pharaoh Neferefre, was never finished, and has given archaeologists a glimpse at the construction techniques that went into building these behemoths. Some people like to think the pyramids were built by aliens or people from Atlantis, but archaeological evidence and the Egyptians’ own written records prove they built the pyramids themselves.

These “new” pyramids are just a few of the large number of Egyptian attractions opening in the next three years. Several museums are under construction, and the area around the Pyramids of Giza has been cleaned up. This month the famous Avenue of Sphinxes between the temples of Luxor and Karnak is opening, with about 900 statues and a recently excavated Roman-era village nearby.

Note to budding Egyptologists: this article is way too short to cover all the various theories and discoveries at Abusir and Dahshur. You need a few books to cover all of them! A good start are the works of Miroslav Verner, including The Pyramids: The Mystery, Culture, and Science of Egypt´s Great Monuments and Abusir: The Realm of Osiris.