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Posts posted by Viggen

  1. The initial Roman occupation of central Scotland was achieved relatively peacefully, perhaps with native consent, and it lasted up to 15 years - much longer than previously thought, according to new research.


    Recent evidence from the 'Gask frontier' - the earliest land frontier in the Roman Empire - indicates that it was established in the 70s AD rather than the mid-80s, before being abandoned sometime after 86. The frontier consists of a network of forts, fortlets and watchtowers between Stirling and Perth centred on the legionary fortress of Inchtuthil. Its purpose was to control the main route between southern Scotland and the north, where the A9 road runs today.


    In a series of excavations since 1995, the Liverpool University-based Roman Gask Project has produced large quantities of pottery and glass that clearly date to the 70s. Researchers have found that many sites saw major structural changes, suggesting lengthy occupation. At Cardean fort, for example, the granaries were rebuilt and the early barrack block was replaced by a possible stable. Every watchtower on the frontier was rebuilt at least once.


    In the traditional view, the frontier was established in the 80s through the campaigns of the governor Agricola. The theory was based largely on the writings of Tacitus, Agricola's son-in-law. According to Birgitta Hoffmann, deputy director of the project, the new evidence suggests the founder was more likely Petillius Cerialis, general and diplomat, and governor in 71-73/4.


    He appears to have been welcomed by the native population. Pollen evidence from settlements in the area shows no agricultural decline from the 70s - as would be expected if occupation had been achieved through conquest, as many native farmers would have been killed. Instead, it shows the intensification of grazing, with pastures supporting bigger herds.


    Evidence from the latest season's work at Coldoch, two miles from the Roman fort of Doune, suggests the natives may have started to grow wheat - a crop not generally grown in Iron Age Scotland - to trade to the Roman army and its camp followers, who may have numbered as many as 20,000. Fragments of 1st century Roman glass at the settlement proves there was contact between incomers and natives.


    'With the bigger cattle herds and possible evidence of wheat cultivation, it looks very much like the Romans were providing a market for the local population,' Dr Hoffmann said.


    A book by project director David Woolliscroft, 'The Roman Frontier on the Gask Ridge, Perth & Kinross' was published last year by BAR (vol 335).


    from the British Archaeology Magazine

  2. Although the Roman conquest led to the extinction of the Gaulish language 2,000 years ago, a half dozen rare, surviving Gaulish/Latin bilingual inscriptions have enabled scholars to trace the origins of the Celtic language and many other European languages.


    According to the study, Celtic branched in two directions from an Indo-European mother language around 3200 B.C. One version, Gaulish, which is also called Continental Celtic, stayed within the European mainland. A second, British version, referred to as Insular Celtic, moved in a single wave to Britain.


    via Discovery

  3. Christianity may have spread from outer space, according to a report on an impact crater published in this week's New Scientist.


    Created in the fourth or fifth centuries by an asteroid exploding "like a nuclear blast" in the Italian Apennine mountains, the hole could explain the legend of a falling star and the consequent conversion of Roman emperor Constantine to Christianity.


    It is said that Constantine (288-337 A.D.) converted in 312, alerted by an amazing vision in the sky. Right after, under the sign of the cross, Constantine won a crushing victory against the joint emperor Maxentius, who challenged his authority.


    more on His Forever

  4. Riddle of Colossal flooding solved?


    THE mystery of the flooded amphitheatre has puzzled historians and scientists for almost 2000 years. But now an Edinburgh engineer has come up with a theory for how Emperor Titus flooded the Colosseum in Rome at its opening in 80AD.


    A crowd of 87,000 cheering citizens and slaves had watched gladiators battle to the death in the arena that stood at the heart of the Roman empire. More than 5000 animals had been killed for sport.


    But the highlight of the 100-day inauguration was a series of naval battles re-enacted in the Colosseum, according to Cassius Dio, chronicler of ancient Rome, who said: "Titus suddenly filled this same theatre with water and brought in horses and bulls and other domesticated animals that had been taught to behave in the liquid element just as on land. He also brought in people on ships, who engaged in a sea-fight there, impersonating the Corcyreans and Corinthians."


    His account left historians with a colossal question, only now answered by Martin Crapper, lecturer in civil and environmental engineering at Edinburgh University : Was the giant arena flooded to stage the mock sea battles - known as naumachiae -or were the naval re-enactments actually staged elsewhere in Rome?


    Academics have long argued that holding sea battles at the Colosseum was impossible due to the underground tunnels used to spirit wild animals, slaves and gladiators to different parts of the arena.


    Tales of thousands of slaves and convicts drowning in the sea battles with ships built to scale were told by Latin poets such as Martial, but were dismissed as sycophantic works of fantasy written to enhance the reputation of the emperor.


    However, Dr Crapper believes he has solved the puzzle of the flooded Colosseum.


    His theories have been tested by a team of experts assembled by the American ABC Discovery Channel.


    Programme makers and archaeologists from the University of California spent a year creating a virtual reality simulation Colosseum to assess the logistical problems involved.


    Dr Crapper said the first challenge was to determine if it was possible to blast the millions of gallons of water needed for the sea battles into the Colosseum.


    "It's purely speculation but I believe a timber structure could have been used to transport water from the main aqueduct. However, the real constraints were not moving the water but ensuring it could flow through a series of inlet wells and concentric pipes beneath the seating area to actually reach the arena," he said.


    After detailed research, Dr Crapper was able to prove it was possible for the sluice gates to be closed off and for water pressure to reach the correct level for the arena to be flooded by four million gallons of water to a depth of five feet within seven hours.


    Other members of the research team used X-ray imaging to prove waterproof material had been used in some parts of the underground structure. Further work uncovered 18 sunken blocks used to hold wooden props which held up the arena's floor and which could be removed to allow the area to be used for both gladiatorial battles and naumachiae.


    from the The Herald