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Chester Amphitheatre Project Blog

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Welcome to the official Blog of the Chester Amphitheatre Project.

Sunday, September 18

The Latest News from the Trenches...

A big event this week has been the study of the square stone block, which was uncovered last week in Area C. It has recently been related to a mosaic at Bignor Roman Villa, in West Sussex. In the mosaic (which you can see at http://www.romansinsussex.co.uk/dbase/images/detail/biglads.jpg ) there is a square stone block, similar to the one we have uncovered in Trench C, situated between two fighting gladiators. In Roman Amphitheatres in England and Wales, by Roy Wilding, the mosaic is depicted and labeled as an 'apprentice stone' to which unwilling gladiators were chained. At the moment, our site directors are still looking for other examples of this type of stone, ideally featured in mosaic form as well. Also in this area a number of stone lined post-holes seem to represent a small building. Beneath this there are many other cut features. This suggests that there has been intensive use of the arena for post-Roman occupation. All of these features pre-date the earliest "cultivation" soils in the arena, which date to the 12th century. Watch this space for more details!

Area B continues to provide surprises. The robber trenches of the amphitheatre walls are 2m deep, and the robbing seems to date to the 11th century. The amphitheatre was probably plundered for stone during the construction of St John's church at that time. Excavation in Area B is going fast and vast amounts of soil are being removed everyday. Hopefully, by the time we close for the season we can uncover much more of the Roman and pre-Roman layers.

In Area A, the finds keep coming fast and thick from the layers of sand in between the concentric and exterior walls of the amphitheatre. So far this week we have discovered some intriguing and rare Roman cut glass, samian ware, copper-alloy pieces, part of a copper-alloy brooch, and an interesting piece of lead shaped like a coin (but possibly a token to get into the amphitheatre). Also found were two intaglios (like the one found last year in the picture to the left)--pieces of cut stone (often reddish-orange carnelian) with engravings of gods, goddesses, or just emblems such as weights and scales. Intaglios (Italian for 'carving') were often used as a stamp or a seal and were pressed into clay or wax to create a raised impression. They were often set into rings or other types of jewelry; however, in this case the intaglios were found on their own.
It is important to note that some of these small items, like an intaglio, are found not only through excavation but through the processes of flotation and wet-sieving as well. To put it in perspective--the intaglios that we have found are only a bit bigger than a thumbnail.


--The Archaeologists

posted by InfoArch at 10:00

Comments?

2 Comments:

Anonymous Kirsty, Liverpool Uni said...

I worked on the amphitheatre a few weeks ago, and it's great to be able to come on this web page and get updates, especially as I really didn't want to stop digging!I'm really interested to find out what the stone block is about as well. This experience has utterly convinced me that archaeology is the career for me and that I chose the right path two years ago. I learnt so much in the space of two weeks, many of it practical archaeology, but I also learnt the value of working with people who share an interest and passion for the same thing as me. Good luck for what is left of the season you guys, and thank you for this opportunity.

1:53 PM, September 20, 2005  
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12:31 PM, February 13, 2007  

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