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Grand armoury of the Roman Legions reveals more

Novae was one of the few great Roman legionary fortresses along the empire's border, forming part of the defences (limes Moesiae) along the Danube in what is today northern Bulgaria. The settlement later expanded into a town in the Roman province Moesia Inferior, later Moesia II. The fortress is one of the few along the limes to have been excavated and now open to the public. At present mainly the central part of the site hae been excavated and restored.

Grand armoury of the Roman Legions reveals more
Excavation site-aerial-view [Credit: Dr. Andrzej-Biernacki, AMU]
The first traces of the monumental stone structure of the armoury of legionary camp housing the Roman soldiers of  Legio I Italica were on recently discovered by AMU archaeologists from the Faculty of Historical Studies  a few years ago by Dr. Elena Klenina and Dr. Andrzej B. Biernacki. Only last year, however, were they able to determine that this structure was in fact an arsenal – armoury. This year’s excavations have yielded more information about the subsequent history of the site.

The structure built by the Roman soldiers was massive, occupying about 1800 square metres. It was constructed during the first half of the second century. Its base consisted of six monumental rectangular pillars arranged in two rows. They were made of precisely matched, hexagonal blocks of limestone. In the opinion of the researchers, it is the largest building yet discovered in all the known legionary camps along the Danube River.

Grand armoury of the Roman Legions reveals more
Excavations at the Novae site [Credit: Dr. Andrzej-Biernacki, AMU]
“At the end of the 4th century the structure was rebuilt and then it also changed its function: instead of military installations, it started to store grain and other foodstuffs necessary to keep the legion stationed here”, said Dr Klenina, head of the International Interdisciplinary Archaeological Expedition “Novae” of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań.

Within the structure archaeologists found numerous artefacts, including over a hundred bronze coins. They were minted in the first quarter of the fourth century AD and a dozen or so coins also date from the times of Emperor Licinius I (308-324 AD).

A limestone sculpture of a head depicting a syncretic deity - Dionysus-Sabazios - was also recovered. According to Dr. Biernacki, an AMU archaeologist who has been involved in work at Novae for many years, the artefact may indicate the arrival of settlers from very distant regions. From an artistic side, the sculpture exhibits distinctly middle-eastern influences with elements of Greek art of the 1st or 2nd centuries AD.

Source: Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań [August 24, 2018]


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