Site for London Olympics yields Roman finds.

Roman all around the Olympic Park

11 December 2007 Newham Recorder
THE first evidence of the earliest Londoners and Romans has been discovered in the Olympic Park in Stratford.

Museum of London's archaeology team has unearthed the fascinating
finds. Digs on the site of the London 2012 aquatics centre have
revealed evidence of an Iron Age settlement.

Fourth century pottery and a Roman coin have also been found on the Olympic Stadium site.

finds will eventually form part of the Museum of London's collection,
and will provide a record of archaeological investigations that are
taking place as part of the programme of work to clear the site ahead
of construction.

None of the archaeological work is set to cause any delays to the programme.

Londoners lived in thatched mud huts on the site that will boast a Zaha
Hadid-designed aquatics centre. In the Iron Age it would have been a
small area of dry land in a valley of lakes, rivers and marshes.

lived beside – and fished in – what is now the River Lea. Parts of pots
they would have used to cook their fish have also been discovered.

aquatics centre will be beside the river, which is currently being
widened by eight metres as part of a programme to restore the ancient
waterways of the Lower Lea Valley.

The Roman coin and pottery were found buried behind a wooden river wall that may have been built and used by the Romans.

coin has been dated 330-335 AD, the time of the Roman emperor
Constantine II. One side of the coin features a picture of two soldiers
and two standards. The other has inscriptions representing Constantine
II, Caesar and Ilissimus.

Archaeologists are currently dating
the woodwork and trying to establish how the finds link to evidence of
Roman activity in the Hackney Wick area, which would have overlooked
the Lea Valley in the 4th century.

This is the first evidence of Roman activity associated with the rivers of the valley itself.

Delivery Authority (ODA) chief executive David Higgins said: “We are
taking this opportunity to tell the fascinating story of the lower Lea
Valley before it is given a new lease of life for the Games and future

“It is a story of change and transformation
dating back centuries. The archaeological work has been long planned in
conjunction with our programme and will not cause any delays.”

ODA has invited the archaeologists to look for evidence of the original
prehistoric Londoners. They are also studying Roman, Viking, medieval
and relatively recent industrial and military activity on the Olympic
Park site.

Investigators are also charting the topography of
the site to build a picture of how the land and waterways have
developed and how climate change has affected the area.

are being dug and investigated on the sites of the permanent venues and
infrastructure. Interesting remains will either be photographed and
recorded or removed to form part of the Museum of London's collection
from December 7.

Roman curator at the museum Jenny Hall said:
“These finds are amazing. I just couldn't stop grinning when I saw
them. In size and scale they are unprecedented. Nothing like this has
been found in London before – or anywhere else in Britain.”

visit for further details and opening hours.

Nicholas Ostler's book on Latin ciritcised

In a notice of  “Ad Infinitum”:

This is a fine book, but Mr.
Ostler doesn't have much fondness for Latin itself. Of a beautiful
Ciceronian sentence, its syntax expertly calibrated, Mr. Ostler
grumbles that the structure “is not really an aid to clarity of
thought. The whole thing is contrived, and its meaning disguised rather
than revealed by the form … [of] the sentence.” I could not disagree
more. Has Mr. Ostler read a newspaper or — I'm sorry to say this, but
since Mr. Ostler has cast this particular die I can't resist — some of
his own sentences? If only anyone still wrote like Cicero!

Livia's palace and frescoes open to the public from March 2nd

Roman emperor's home finally restored

From UKTV History

The ancient home of Rome's Emperor Augustus is opening to the public after 30 years of restoration.

The home of the first emperor of Rome is finally due to reopen to the public following three decades of restoration.

from around 30BC, the residence was home to Augustus before he became
emperor of Rome and the complex of rooms is covered in bright paintings
that are particularly well preserved.

The rooms are located on
the Palatine Hill in the heart of Rome and were first discovered in the
1970s, with a small studio on the upper floor thought to have been used
by Augustus for privacy. They were closed in the 1980s and millions
have been spent carefully restoring them.

Believed to have been
buried after Augustus moved higher up the Palatine Hill – when he
seized power after the assassination of his great-uncle, Julius Caesar
– the frescoes in the residence have been described as “extraordinary”
and many have been pieced back together from fragments.

rooms will be open from March 2nd 2008, along with the home of
Augustus' wife Livia, with visitors admitted in small groups to protect
the paintings.

The Palatine Hill has provided a wealth of ruins
and artefacts for archaeologists, including the discovery of an
underground grotto thought to be worshipped by Romans as the place
where Romulus and Remus were nursed by a she-wolf.


Special exhibition at Tullie House in Carlisle

Hadrian meets his wall

By Chris Story News and Star

ROMAN emperor Hadrian never got the chance to inspect the wall that bears his name.

But a bronze head of him will get closer than he ever did when a
special exhibition arrives at Tullie House in Carlisle next year.

The important historical piece, discovered in the River Thames at
London Bridge in 1834, will go on show as part of ‘The Face of an
Emperor: Hadrian Inspects the Wall’ from Friday, February 8 until
Sunday, April 13.

Its visit will help celebrate the city’s rich Roman heritage and is the
forerunner of a major exhibition – Hadrian: Empire and Conflict – which
will run from July 24 until October 26 at the British Museum in London.

“Part of that is to lend out one of the main pieces of the exhibition.
That’s where we come in,” said Cheryl Eastburn, Tullie House’s
marketing and audience development manager.

“We have got this bronze head coming to Tullie House on February 2, which is a precursor to the main exhibition in July.”

Historians believe Hadrian’s head comes from a statue that may have
been erected in London in about AD122 to commemorate his visit to

Cheryl said: “It is quite a large head – a stunning piece. Hadrian
never inspected the wall, but his head is coming back to see what has
been found so far.”

Hadrian’s Wall was, of course, built to keep the Scots out of England.

It was 80 Roman miles long – the equivalent of 73 modern miles – and
stretched from Wallsend on the Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in
the west.

Hadrian’s head will be included as part of the popular Roman exhibition at Tullie House.

Museum bosses have been working in partnership with staff from Hadrian’s Wall Heritage on the project.

The bronze head will also be shown at the Segedunum Museum in Wallsend between April 16 and June 8.

Norwich School Latin department's outreach

School proud of its Latin lovers
from Norwich Evening News

Dozens of youngsters at a Norfolk school are proving the Christmas
message has a universal appeal, no matter what language it is spoken –
or sung in.

at Brundall School have gone back to basics this term by studying Latin
so they can sing festive favourite O' Come All Ye Faithful in the
traditional tongue.

The 50 eight-year-olds at the Braydeston
Avenue school have had the chance of learning the 'dead' language as
part of an outreach programme delivered by the Latin department of the
Norwich School.

They have been learning the original Latin the
popular Christmas carol, which is called Adeste Fideles, to help boost
their language learning.

Rick Stuart-Sheppard, headmaster at Brundall School, said: “I have been delighted with the response from the children.

“During lunch last week I asked a child how their day way going and he smiled, gave me a thumbs up and said 'Optimus'.

“We have really benefited from working with the enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff from Norwich School.”

students have been taught using a comic-strip based Latin course
especially devised for children and which is set in Roman Britain.

Boyt, who teaches in the Latin department at the Norwich School, said:
“Our head of department, Simon Kettley, was a governor at the Brundall
School and he offered the headmaster the chance of the Year 3s learning
Latin as part of the Minimus programme which is a popular way to learn.

“This is based on the textbook by Barbara Bell which has been
successful nationwide. It helps with linguistics generally and we use
two puppets, Minimus the mouse and Vibrissa the cat to help the
learning process and to make it fun.

“For this age group
singing is a good way to learn and they have already managed to sing
Old Macdonald Had a Farm and the Brundall School Victory song.

the festive season approaching we thought it would be a good idea for
them to try their skills with the traditional carol, Adeste Fideles.”

Maria Wyke reviews Mary Beard's 'Triumph' in the Indie

The review is here.

It's a good review, but I suddenly thought on reaching this, near the end, that it would be impossible to turn these abstract sentences into convincing Ciceronian (or even Tacitean) prose. I shall be happy to publish any Latin version that proves me wrong!

Through the triumph, political discourses accentuate disruption or
continuity in Rome's institutions: territorial expansion, the impact of
Greek culture, the destruction of other empires, the growth of luxury,
the dissolution of the republic, the rise of imperial tyrants. Once its
supreme public ritual is recast in this way, Roman society is
correspondingly transformed.

Geophys of Caistor/Venta Icenorum reveals clear town plan

From Physorg
On the morning of Friday July 20, 1928, the crew of
an RAF aircraft took photographs over the site of the Roman town of
Venta Icenorum at Caistor St Edmund in Norfolk, a site which now lies
in open fields to the south of Norwich.

Now, new investigations at
Caistor Roman town using the latest technology have revealed the plan
of the buried town at an extraordinary level of detail which has never
been seen before. The high-resolution geophysical survey used a Caesium
Vapour magnetometer to map buried remains across the entire walled area
of the Roman town.

The research at Caistor is being directed by Dr Will Bowden of The
University of Nottingham, who worked with Dr David Bescoby and Dr Neil
Chroston of the University of East Anglia on the new survey, sponsored
by the British Academy. Around 30 local volunteer members of the
Caistor Roman Town Project also assisted.

The survey has produced the clearest plan of the town yet seen
confirming the street plan (shown by previous aerial photographs), the
town’s water supply system (detecting the iron collars connecting
wooden water pipes), and the series of public buildings including the
baths, temples and forum, known from earlier excavations.

However, the survey also showed that earlier interpretations of the
town as a densely occupied urban area — given by reconstruction
paintings — may be totally wrong. Buildings were clustered along the
main streets of the town, but other areas within the street grid seem
to have been empty and were perhaps used for grazing or cultivation.

Dr Bowden, a lecturer in Roman Archaeology, said: “The results of
the survey have far exceeded our expectations. It's not an exaggeration
to say that the survey has advanced our knowledge of Caistor to the
same extent that the first aerial photograph did 80 years ago.

“The presence of possible Iron Age and Saxon features suggests that
the town had a much longer life than we previously thought and the fact
that it's just sitting there in open fields instead of being under a
modern town means we can ask the questions we want to.

“For an archaeologist it's a dream opportunity to really examine how European towns developed.”

A new Roman theatre?

One of the most exciting new discoveries from the survey is what
looks like a Roman theatre. Clear traces of a large semi-circular
building have been found next to the town’s temples — the typical
location for a theatre in Roman Britain.

David Gurney, Principal Archaeologist of Norfolk Museums &
Archaeology Service, said: “This is a fantastic discovery, and it goes
to show that Caistor Roman town still has a great number of secrets to
be disclosed in the years ahead through surveys or excavations.

See also the Times report
And BBC News
Perhaps the University of Nottingham press release is fullest.
The South Norfolk Council site has the background