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Rich Roman haul surprises Dutch archaeologists


Archaeologists digging at a site in Tiel in the province of Gelderland, have found a rich haul of Roman artefacts, among which a statue of the god Jupiter, a grave stone inscribed DEAE (to the goddess), 2,500 bronze objects and a unique ointment pot.

Rich Roman haul surprises Dutch archaeologists
Archaeologists excavating a Roman grave [Credit: ADC ArcheoProjecten]
The dig is one of a number of archaeological activities taking place on an 80 hectare site which is projected to become part of the adjacent Medel industrial estate.

Rich Roman haul surprises Dutch archaeologists
Limestone statue of Jupiter [Credit: ADC ArcheoProjecten]
Rich Roman haul surprises Dutch archaeologists
Altar fragment with DEAE inscription [Credit: ADC ArcheoProjecten]
As with any major construction work, archaeologists are invited to investigate what is in the ground before any building is done. The area has yielded treasure before.

Rich Roman haul surprises Dutch archaeologists
A Centaur cameo ring [Credit: ADC ArcheoProjecten]
Rich Roman haul surprises Dutch archaeologists
A wine seive [Credit: ADC ArcheoProjecten]
In November last year archaeologists found numerous artefacts dating back some 6,000 years, and a Roman funerary urn with a small glass bottle inside it.

That in itself is not surprising, archaeologist Jan van der Velde told broadcaster NOS. In the four centuries the Romans dominated Western Europe, Gelderland was part of a border province of the Roman empire.

Rich Roman haul surprises Dutch archaeologists
Earthenware service [Credit: ADC ArcheoProjecten]
Rich Roman haul surprises Dutch archaeologists
Glassware [Credit: ADC ArcheoProjecten]
The surprise is that the find includes such valuable and sophisticated objects when the area was lived in mainly by Batavian farmers in simple wood and mud houses.

‘A statue like this, or the ointment pot, would not be out of place in a rich Roman city like Nijmegen, and even there they would be pretty rare. This tells us more about the Batavians and how they developed. Perhaps a number of them were more Romanised then we thought,’ Van der Velde told the broadcaster.

Rich Roman haul surprises Dutch archaeologists
Roman balsamarium with Eros figures found at the dig site [Credit: ADC ArcheoProjecten]
Rich Roman haul surprises Dutch archaeologists
Roman balsamarium with Eros figures after cleaning [Credit: ADC ArcheoProjecten]
Villa or temple Van der Velde has two theories. ‘The owner of the artefacts could have been an important Batavian who wanted to recreate a piece of Rome in his villa by surrounding himself with expensive and rare objects. But perhaps we have stumbled on a temple. Almost all the bronze objects were found in a square of 20 by 50 metres, so it may well have been a sacrificial site.’

The dig will have to shut down for the next few months to give the present-day farmer a chance to sow and reap his harvest.

Rich Roman haul surprises Dutch archaeologists
Roman pot in situ [Credit: ADC ArcheoProjecten]
Rich Roman haul surprises Dutch archaeologists
The excavatiion site [Credit: ADC ArcheoProjecten]
Van der Velde will then try to discover a floor plan so he can determine the presence of a villa or temple.


Van der Velde says the foundations of any building should be left in the ground. ‘Whatever is dug up is gone. We have seen a lot of destruction lately with the construction of roads and industrial estates. The same thing may happen here. But if we know what exactly we are dealing with here it could help Tiel city council make a decision about building a new industrial estate,’ NOS quotes him as saying.

Source: Dutch News [March 30, 2017]
TANN

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