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Chester Amphitheatre Project Blog


Welcome to the official Blog of the Chester Amphitheatre Project.

Monday, July 31

Roman Find: intaglio

This intaglio or gem, found whilst we were wet-sieving the fills from the Roman cesspit, measures just 10 mm by 8 mm and shows the mask of a young satyr, a Greek god of the woodlands. It has been carved into a piece of chalcedony which is a type of quartz.

Gems such as this were set into rings worn by both men and women. As well as being decorative they were used to make an impression in wax to secure correspondence and items of value, as a way of representing a personal signature.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 15:21


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The Latest News from the Trench ...

Last week the bottom of the Roman cess-pit was finally reached. We were not able to excavate the whole pit as it disappears under the edge of our excavation trench and underneath the adjacent public highway. However, we have wet sieved all of the fills we have removed from the pit, and we are still sorting through the drying residues for all manor of artefacts and ecofacts. This process is proving to be highly rewarding as we are retrieving large amounts of fish bone and some intact coprolites. We are also finding some really small objects such as individual iron chain links from a mail shirt and a finely carved intaglio.

The bulk of the work has involved the removal of the remaining deposits associated with the cavea (seating bank) of the first amphitheatre. Due to the really hot and dry weather we’ve been having for the past few weeks this is proving a very arduous task as the clay is baked solid. Very few artefacts have been recovered from this exercise to date.

The area of the site where the footprints have been discovered has been temporarily covered over for short term protection as we are hoping to have the footprints and animal tracks recorded by laser scanning. We are hoping to be able to show you the results from this work on the website later in the summer.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 10:21


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Wednesday, July 26

Having a Knap

As a part of National Archaeology Day Jason - a member of the Chester Amphitheatre Project team - carried out a very interesting and informative demonstration on the art of flint knapping. Why, you may ask, are we demonstrating flint knapping at a Roman amphitheatre site. Well, we have been finding quite a number of stone tools and it is causing some excitement. So we thought that you might like to see a selection of the flints that have surfaced to date ...

From left to right: A Mesolithic bladelet core; A late Neolithic hollow-based arrow-head with a single barb; A late Neolithic to early Bronze Age thumb nail scraper for preparing animal hides; A Mesolithic piercer for leather working; A late Neolithic to early Bronze Age blade.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 12:13


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Tuesday, July 25

Roman Find: glass beaker

Part of the rim of a glass beaker which has been decorated by cutting out oval-shaped facets from the surface of the glass.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 16:35


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For Everyone Experiencing Problems with the Web Camera ...

... please try again, our web team discovered a script error when using Internet Explorer that has now been fixed. You may need to re-install the Axis software, there should be a link in the image space or please try the link below:

Then click the link described as - AXIS Media Control (AMC)

AXIS Media Control is the recommended method for viewing video images in Microsoft Internet Explorer. It installs automatically on first use, after which it can be configured by opening the AMC Control Panel applet from the Windows Control Panel.

I hope you can now access our web camera.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 16:11


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Monday, July 24

What Do You REALLY Want to Do?

The BBC recently paid a visit to the Chester Amphitheatre Project to record footage for a new television series called What Do You Really Want to Do. This series will feature the countries Top Ten Dream Jobs. David Vaughan - one of our Chester Amphitheatre Project team - was selected to take part having made a major personal life change by giving up a lucrative career in Marketing to pursue a career in archaeology. David has just gained a 1st Class Degree in Archaeology from the University of Birmingham! Do you want to know where archaeology came in this top ten? Well, were not telling you, but it did appear pretty high on the list :o) Keep a look out for the programme which will be broadcast in early September 2006.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 12:40


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Friday, July 21

Roman Find: pottery bowl

A fragment from a pottery bowl which has been glazed. Pieces of Roman glazed vessels are very rarely found, but we do have evidence that they were made at Holt, 12 miles (7 km) from Chester in the late first and early-second centuries. The colour of the glazes varied from light yellow to green and dark brown.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 15:32


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Thursday, July 20

Roman Find: The Wild Man of Chester

This small copper-alloy stud with a stylised face may have been used to decorate a soldier’s belt or ‘apron’ - a series of vertical leather straps which hung from the belt. It is thought that these ‘aprons’ were worn for protection or possibly represented a mark of status.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 13:14


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Stepping Into the Past ... A rare survival

On the south-western edge of the excavation a shallow hollow in the pre-Roman ground surface has been uncovered which may indicate the location of a large underlying feature such as a ditch. This hollow appears to have been wet and muddy shortly before it was covered by construction deposits associated with the building of the first amphitheatre as we have found the impressions of footprints that have been pressed in to the pre-Roman ground surface. So far we have been able to identify several small human footprints which may belong to a child or small adult - apparently walking around the hollow in bare feet. Several of the footprints may be animal tracks but identification will require further excavation. This sort of survival is very rare in the archaeological record and is usually only identified on coastal sites such as the Severn estuary or more locally on the shoreline at Formby. We will be taking plaster casts of the best preserved footprints over the next couple of days.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 10:21


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Wednesday, July 19

National Archaeology Weekend at the Amphitheatre an Outstanding Success

In glorious sunshine July 2006 saw the return of gladiatorial combat and military displays to the arena. As part of National Archaeology Week the Amphitheatre hosted a fun packed event with a variety of entertaining and educational attractions.

The stars of the day were, undoubtedly, the Deva Victrix Leg XX v.v re-enactment group who staged several bouts of fierce combat and military prowess in the arena ...

New recruits were enlisted into the (Children's) Roman Army ...

The crowds were particularly impressed by the skills of one raw recruit, Shorticus, who soon had them eating out of the palms of his hands ...

More images from National Archaeology Day to follow, so watch this space ...

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 11:31


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Monday, July 10

Watch out watch out there's an archaeologist about

If you are ever at Chester's amphitheatre do keep your eyes peeled for the archaeologist wearing this funky top ...

as they will be giving ...

Free Guided Tours:
Tuesday to Saturday at 11:00am and 2:30pm
Meeting by the A-Frame on the walkway

Group bookings by arrangement only
phone Jane on 01244 402009

They will also answer any of your questions about the amphitheatre:
Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30am until 4:30pm

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 16:36


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Friday, July 7

Latest news from the trench ...

Most of our efforts for this week have been concentrated on finishing off the excavation of the construction trenches for the timber beams (the grillage) which supported the timber staging for the seating in amphitheatre 1a. We will then be moving on to the removal of the remaining deposits that survive against the 'concentric wall' associated with the seating bank to amphitheatre 1. There are very few artefacts coming up at the moment. The only productive part of the site (in terms of artefacts) is in the south-western corner of area A where we think we are starting to uncover a large Roman cess-pit. A series of soil layers that appear to have slumped in to the top of this pit have produced the usual gamut of Roman finds including grey ware, orange ware and samian ware pottery; also a diverse range of animal bone including some very small bird bones and a piece of deer antler that has been sawn in several places. Hopefully, we will get a lot more from this area over the next week or so ...

So watch this space

PS IT are still trying to find out the cause for the breakdown in transmission from the Webcam, sorry for any disappointment this is obviously causing

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 14:13


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