The Archbasilica of St. John Lateran doesn’t quite look its age. The basilica, where the Pope presides in his role as Archbishop of Rome, was already ancient when it was rebuilt in the 1650s. Its walls still hold some of the original material used to build the cathedral under Emperor Constantine in 312 CE. And beneath the modern church lies the original Roman foundation. Excavations since the 1700s have opened up a network of dark, cramped spaces called scavi beneath the four-hectare site of the cathedral. Centuries of Roman history lie buried in the darkness in layers stretching down to 8.5 meters (27.89 feet) below the modern floor of the cathedral, and the subterranean archaeological sites are like a honeycomb through the city’s Caelian Hill. Now, using a combination of laser scanning and ground-penetrating radar, archeologists have made a complete map of the site. Basilica, now in 3D Much of what’s in the scavi has been excavated and studied before, but Lateran … [Read more...] about Archaeologists map centuries of history beneath world’s oldest cathedral
Ask many successful entrepreneurs who they count as their idols, and you might expect to hear answers such as Bill Gates or Sir Richard Branson. But Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire boss of Facebook, has revealed a different source of inspiration: the Roman emperor Augustus. In an interview with The New Yorker, Zuckerberg, 34, labelled Rome’s first imperial leader “fascinating”, and noted that “a really harsh approach” taken by Augustus had eventually led to peace in the empire. “You have all these good and bad and complex figures. I think Augustus is one of the most fascinating,” Zuckerberg said when talking about his intense interest in Roman history. “Basically, through a really harsh approach,... Register or log in to view this and other Technology Intelligence articles. It's free and easy to do. Access brilliant stories, features and analysis Sign up to our exclusive Technology Intelligence daily newsletter Become part of … [Read more...] about Mark Zuckerberg ‘fascinated’ by Roman emperor Augustus
Buried beneath the snow on Greenland’s surface, ancient layers of ice hold deposits of lead that originated at mines and foundries in ancient Rome. Fluctuations in the amount of ancient lead pollution that reached Greenland turn out to be a remarkably accurate way to trace the economic impact of wars, plagues, and imperial expansion in Classical Europe. Lead might seem unexciting, but the classical world’s economy ran on it. “The Romans made extensive use of lead for water pipes and other elements of plumbing, weights, soldering clamps between ashlar blocks or columns in architectural construction, sheathing the hulls of some ships, etc.,” classical archaeologist Andrew Wilson of the University of Oxford told Ars. The lead economy In a much more direct way, the economy ran on silver: Roman currency was minted in silver coins called denarii. When smelting silver, adding lead to the crushed ore helps concentrate the silver. High-temperature smelting at around … [Read more...] about Greenland ice cores track Roman lead pollution in year-by-year detail
Tens of thousands of artefacts were dug out of sand and clay near the Rhine, archaeologists in Krefeld announced in April. A recent 10-month excavation along the Rhine revealed a wealth of previously-unseen Roman ruins, including hundreds of coins, weapons, horse skeletons, jewellery, helmets, and the artfully decorated belt buckle of a soldier. Packed in boxes, the relics span over 75 cubic metres. In the small town just outside Düsseldorf, nearly 6,500 graves were found dating from between 800 BC and 800 AD, which often contained valuable burial objects. It is one of the largest ancient cemeteries north of the Alps. "It took years before we could work through this," said archaeologist Jennifer Morscheiser proudly, who was a member of the team that discovered the Roman artefacts. These relics point to a part of Roman history that is tied with Germany’s Rhine-region, including a bloody uprising and subsequent Roman military … [Read more...] about Roman relics found in Rhine region show evidence of bloody uprising
Throughout humanity's long and often-bloody history, there have been battles in which one side gained ground and promptly lost it again. And victories have often been marred by the sobering reality of heavy casualties on both the winning and the losing sides. Many military clashes seem like a waste in retrospect, but are there any battles that stand out for their sheer futility? There are, sadly, many contenders. Some were poorly planned and executed, such as the botched Dieppe Raid of Aug. 19, 1942, in which undersupported Allied forces lost more than 3,000 soldiers while attempting to take a French port under German control during World War II. Other battles flared over astoundingly trivial slights, such as the so-called "Pastry War" of 1838. This altercation between France, Mexico and the U.S. erupted when a Frenchman demanded restitution for his lost property in Mexico — a pastry shop that Mexican forces had destroyed and looted the previous year, according to Encyclopedia … [Read more...] about What Was the Most Pointless Battle in History?