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'Entire streets' of Roman London uncovered

An archaeological dig in the heart of the City "will transform our understanding" of Roman London, experts claim.

'Entire streets' of Roman London uncovered
Experts uncovering a 2,000-year-old Roman tiled floor
[Credit: Museum of London Archseology]
About 10,000 finds have been discovered, including writing tablets and good luck charms.The area has been dubbed the "Pompeii of the north" due to the perfect preservation of organic artefacts such as leather and wood.One expert said: "This is the site that we have been dreaming of for 20 years."

'Entire streets' of Roman London uncovered
The site is providing fresh insight into the religious and mystical practices of London's early residents. Amber was an expensive imported material and was thought to have magical powers and this amulet, in the shape of a gladiator’s helmet, may have been used to protect children from illness [Credit: Museum of London Archseology]
Archaeologists expect the finds, at the three-acre site, to provide the earliest foundation date for Roman London, currently AD 47. The site will house media corporation Bloomberg's European headquarters.

'Entire streets' of Roman London uncovered
The "lost" river of Walbrook, which once ran through London, flooded the site, and created a rare preservation area which was devoid of oxygen. Organic materials such as wood and leather were kept unblemished, including this section of Roman oak fencing, which survives to shoulder height [Credit: Museum of London Archseology]
It contains the bed of the Walbrook, one of the "lost" rivers of London, and features built-up soil waterfronts and timber structures, including a complex Roman drainage system used to discharge waste from industrial buildings.

'Entire streets' of Roman London uncovered
View to northwest of the Bloomberg Place site, recording a 4th century Roman timber well 
[Credit: Museum of London Archseology]
Organic materials such as leather and wood were preserved in an anaerobic environment, due to the bed being waterlogged.

'Beautifully preserved'

Museum of London archaeologists (MOLA), who led the excavation of the site, say it contains the largest collection of small finds ever recovered on a single site in London, covering a period from the AD 40s to the early 5th Century. 

'Entire streets' of Roman London uncovered
A Roman woven straw basket, found preserved within a pit
[Credit: Museum of London Archseology]
Sadie Watson, the site director for MOLA, said: "We have entire streets of Roman London in front of us." At 40ft (12m), the site is believed to be one of the deepest archaeological digs in London, and the team have removed 3,500 tonnes of soil in six months.

'Entire streets' of Roman London uncovered
Ten thousand small finds have been unearthed in a three-acre site in the City, dubbed the "Pompeii of the north". Finds include items such as this Roman carbatina shoe, made from a single piece of leather and dated between the late 1st Century and early 2nd Century AD [Credit: Museum of London Archseology]
More than 100 fragments of Roman writing tablets have been discovered. Some are thought to contain names and addresses, while others contain affectionate letters.A wooden door, only the second to be found in London, is another prize find.

'Entire streets' of Roman London uncovered
An amber amulet in the shape of a gladiator's helmet was discovered 
[Credit: Museum of London Archseology]
MOLA's Sophie Jackson said the site contains "layer upon layer of Roman timber buildings, fences and yards, all beautifully preserved and containing amazing personal items, clothes and even documents."

'Entire streets' of Roman London uncovered
The site has supplied the largest quantity of Roman leather ever to have been unearthed in London, including this upholstered leather object with stitched decoration, which shows a warrior fighting mythical creatures. It may have come from a piece of furniture or the interior of a chariot [Credit: Museum of London Archseology]
The site also includes a previously unexcavated section of the Temple of Mithras, a Roman cult, which was first unearthed in 1954.

'Entire streets' of Roman London uncovered
More than 100 fragments of wooden tablet have been preserved and they contain fascinating information about Roman life. This tablet is a letter to a friend. Tablets of this sort were used for everyday correspondence and even shopping lists or party invitations [Credit: Museum of London Archseology]
The preserved timber means that tree ring samples will provide dendrochronological dating for Roman London, expected to be earlier than the current dating of AD 47.

'Entire streets' of Roman London uncovered
A gold Roman brooch is just one of the 'treasures' discovered under the streets of London 
[Credit: Museum of London Archseology]
The artefacts are to be transported back to the Museum of London to be freeze-dried and preserved by record, as the site will eventually become the entrance to the Waterloo and City line at Bank station.

'Entire streets' of Roman London uncovered
These 4th Century pewter bowls and cups are examples of fine tableware and were thrown into a timber-lined well as part of a ritual offering, along with some cow skulls. Once experts have managed to record all the finds, they will form part of a public exhibition in the new building [Credit: Museum of London Archseology]
Once Bloomberg Place is completed in 2016, the temple and finds from the excavation will become part of a public exhibition within Bloomberg's headquarters. 

Source: BBC News Website [April 09, 2013]

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1 comment :

  1. I wonder if these archaeologists have been to a sports event,children have a tendency towards wanting anything to do with their hero's and the event big foam rubber fingers ,hats shaped like cheese, why I have actually seen them wearing football helmets of their favorite teams as pendents on a chain around their neck. I really don't think they wear them as an amulet of protection.I do however believe that we often try to attribute supertious and ritualistic reasons where there are none to relics from the past.


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