Steamy discovery: 16th century feudal warlord's sauna unearthed in Kyoto



Remains of a sauna have been discovered at the site of famous feudal warlord Nobunaga Oda's 16th century residence, a local research body has announced.


The steam bath was found at the ruins of Nijo-Goshinzo residence in Kyoto's Nakagyo Ward, which belonged to Oda, one of the most powerful figures of Japan's warring states period.


An official at the Kyoto City Archaeological Research Institute pointed out that, "It's possible that the warlord welcomed his guests with a steam bath and tea ceremony back then."


The bathhouse was about seven by six meters in size. A U-shaped furnace and a stone foundation, measuring 1.1 by 1.7 meters and 1.5 by 1.8 meters, respectively, were also found inside the building. The furnace was dug down to around 50 centimeters below ground level and surrounded by stones.


Researchers determined the remains were from the 16th century based on the earthenware discovered along with the structure. They have also excavated a well and another furnace used for footbaths.


According to the institute, holding a tea ceremony after a bath was popular among upper class people of that time. The unearthed sauna reportedly has almost the same architectural features as those of the Okaku-dai, the nation's oldest bathhouse from the Azuchi-Momoyama Period -- now at Nishi-Hongan-ji Temple in Kyoto's Shimogyo Ward and believed to have been relocated from warlord Hideyoshi Toyotomi's Jurakudai palace.


The Nijo-Goshinzo residence was constructed by Oda in 1576, after he took over the land from the Nijo, a noble family of the time. The sauna was built at a point where the warlord could view his favorite garden. The residence was burned down six years later during the Honno-ji Incident, in which both Oda and his eldest son Nobutada were killed.


The remains of Ryuyaku Pond -- depicted in the Rakuchu-Rakugai-zu folding screens portraying sceneries of the ancient capital city -- were discovered in the garden in 2002; however, it is the first time that a part of the actual residence has been found.


The unearthed articles will be put on public display at Kyoto City Archaeological Museum in the city's Kamigyo Ward between May 1 and 16. The museum will be closed on May 6 and 10. Inquiries can be made at (075) 432-3245.



Ancient treasures set for auction in Indonesia



An ancient treasure trove salvaged from a 1,000-year-old shipwreck found by Indonesian fishermen is set to go under the hammer in Jakarta Wednesday with a minimum price of 80 million dollars.

Belgian treasure-hunter Luc Heymans said the haul was one of the biggest found in Asia and was comparable to the most valuable shipwreck ever found anywhere, that of the Atocha, a Spanish vessel which sank off Florida in 1622.

It includes 271,000 pieces such as rubies, pearls, gold jewellery, Fatimid rock-crystal, Iranian glassware and exquisite Chinese imperial porcelain dating back to the end of the first millennium, or around 976 AD.

"At the time there was a lot of trade going on between Arabia and India and coming down to Java and Sumatra," said Heymans, who led the salvage effort and subsequent battles with Indonesian officialdom to bring the treasure to light.

"But we think there must have been an ambassador on board because so many pieces are imperial Chinese porcelain."

Descending for the first time onto the wreck site north of Cirebon, West Java, in 2004, the veteran diver said he couldn't believe what appeared out of the gloom on the sea floor.

"The site was 40 metres (130 feet) by 40 metres and it was just a mountain of porcelain. You couldn't see any wood," he said.

And not just any porcelain. The pieces include the largest known vase from the Liao Dynasty (907-1125) and famous Yue Mise wares from the Five Dynasties (907-960), with the green colouring exclusive to the emperor.

Around 11,000 pearls, 4,000 rubies, 400 dark red sapphires and more than 2,200 garnets were also pulled from the depths by Heymans and his team of international divers.

It took 22,000 dives to bring it all up but Heymans said the salvage work, from February 2004 to October 2005, was the easy part. "All the major problems began after we got the stuff on shore," he said.

The police arrested two of the divers even though Heymans' company, Cosmix Underwater Research Ltd., and his local partner, Paradigma Putra Sejathera PT, had painstakingly arranged survey and excavation licences.

The divers spent a month behind bars before the mix-up was resolved.

There were also run-ins with the Indonesian navy, efforts by rivals to move in on the wreck, a year of litigation and two years of waiting while Indonesia drafted new regulations to govern such work.

Some of Heymans' backers who covered him to the tune of 10 million dollars began to worry that their investment would be lost at the bottom of the Java Strait, he said.

"I feel some relief now because so many people told me I would never be able to get the permits and get the stuff out of the country," he said. He adds, however, that it was one of the most difficult ordeals of his career.

By coincidence, officials last week said another treasure hunter who is well-known to Indonesia, Michael Hatcher, is under investigation for allegedly plundering valuable Chinese porcelain from a new wreck.

Marine and Fisheries Ministry official Adji Sularso said the probe came after authorities seized 2,360 items dating from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) which Hatcher was allegedly trying to smuggle out of the country.

The porcelain was loaded in two ships that were intercepted in waters off West Java in September, he added.

No charges have been laid but police said Friday that Hatcher was a fugitive and alerted border officials to block him from attempting to flee the country. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Hatcher, who was reportedly born in Britain but grew up as an orphan in Australia, is believed to have made 17 million dollars from auctioning gold ingots and 160,000 pieces of porcelain salvaged from wreck found in the Riau islands in the mid-1980s.

Under the terms of Heymans' arrangement with the Indonesian government, which declared some of his treasure to be of national heritage, the state will take 50 percent of the proceeds of Wednesday's auction.

The remainder will be shared among the salvagers.

The auction will be conducted by the Indonesian government, bidders will have to front up a deposit of 16 million dollars to take part and the artefacts will be sold as a single lot. The deadline for registration is Monday.

"We hope to get more than 80 million dollars -- it all depends on how the auction runs," Marine and Fisheries Ministry official Ansori Zawawi said.

Bidders are expected from China, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan, he added.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.



Excavations near Reading show evidence of Boudicca

Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Tuesday, 27 April 2010 12:26 UK


Evidence found at the Roman site of Silchester could mean it was the site of one of Boudicca's battles.

Professor Michael Fulford said that 13 years of excavations at Calleva had revealed evidence of the first gridded Iron Age town in Britain.

The site also bears the scars of possible early Roman military occupation, and evidence of later, widespread burning and destruction.

This suggests the site could have been destroyed at the hands of Boudicca.

Queen Boudicca waged war against the Romans in Britain from 60 AD after the Romans decided to rule the Iceni directly and confiscated the property of the leading tribesmen.

Boudicca's warriors successfully defeated the Roman Ninth Legion and destroyed the capital of Roman Britain, then at Colchester. They went on to destroy London and Verulamium (St Albans).

Thousands were killed. Finally, Boudicca was defeated by a Roman army led by Paulinus. Many Britons were killed and Boudicca is thought to have poisoned herself to avoid capture.

The site of the battle, and of Boudicca's death, are unknown.


Professor Fulford said that in excavations at Silchester they had found evidence of a major military occupation at Calleva (now called Silchester) in 40 AD, then destruction between 60 and 80 AD, including wells that were filled in at this time and burned buildings.

"The settlement is completely wiped out somewhere between 60 AD and 80 AD, and it starts again in 70 AD," he said.

Although Calleva is not mentioned in historical sources concerning Boudicca, it is known that she waged war at St Albans and London, just 50 mile away.

"Winchester became an important military location for the Romans and so was Silchester," said Professor Fulford, urging more people interested in Roman history to learn about the site.

"There's more to see at Silchester than there is at Winchester."

The University of Reading's Department of Archaeology has been excavating and researching a central area of Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester) since 1997.

Professor Fulford will be holding a free lecture at 2000 GMT on Tuesday 27 April at 2000 in the Palmer lecture theatre on the University of Reading's Whiteknights Campus. For further information please contact Laura Walsh at events@reading.ac.uk or by telephone on 0118 378 4313.




By Victoria Brenan

Last updated at 18:04, Friday, 30 April 2010


A 936-page report into the Millennium dig in the grounds of Carlisle castle in 1999 has now been published, detailing the 80,000 artefacts discovered and what they reveal about Roman life in the city.


Archaeologists dug five trenches on the Castle Green and Eastern Way and, over the following three years, unearthed a huge quantity of pottery, armour, weapons, and, unusually, wooden remains. They normally rot away but, because of the waterlogged soil, 2,000 large pieces of timber were discovered.


The dig, part of the Millennium project which led to the Irish Gate Bridge construction, also saw 2662 fragments of pottery – including 442 bowls from Gaul – 536 Roman coins, 30,250 bits of animal bone, 11 spearheads and 32 arrowheads recovered. Twenty one brooches, nine pieces of bracelet, 10 hairpins and 41 glass beads were also found.


But it is the extensive wooden and leather remains – which include posts, shoes and tents – that surprised the archaeologists, leading to a “wealth of evidence” about the structure of Roman buildings which does not normally survive.


“The survival of wooden structures is still uncommon in Britain and beyond,” the report by the archaeology team says.


“The data from this site has added significantly to the knowledge concerning the construction and appearance of Roman military buildings in the first and second centuries.


“The huge range of the finds demonstrates, on occasions quite startlingly, the very special nature of the archaeological deposits in Carlisle. The extensive waterlogging has preserved a wealth of organic objects that do not normally survive.”


Articulated armour never before found in the UK was also discovered, an event of “international importance,” according to John Zant, one of the team.


Mr Zant, of Oxford Archaeology North, spent years cataloguing, conserving and assessing the finds, and said they always knew they would find “extremely important material”.


He was also involved in the dig at the fort – believed to have been built in 72 or 73AD for around 500 soldiers – and described it as “one of the most significant excavations in north England with elements of national, even international, significance.”


The finds enabled archaeologists to work out, for the first time, how small pieces of wood were used in building construction and that the internal walls of the fort could be easily changed.


A picture of the everyday life of the soldiers also emerges, with finds showing how they hunted deer on a regular basis (270 bones were found), ate mutton rather than lamb (the sheep bones were too old to be young animals) and played a Roman version of draughts – ludus latrunculorum – as 12 black and white glass counters were found.


A wooden-soled bath shoe was found, suggesting there may have been a bath house nearby, possibly close to the River Caldew, but it has never been found.


Razor blades, combs and fragments of mirrors showed that the soldiers made an effort with their appearance. One of the combs even had a whole louse still stuck in one of the teeth.


Tim Padley, keeper of archaeology at Tullie House, said it built up a fascinating picture of an army “arriving in the back of beyond.”


“You have got to sleep somewhere, get things to eat out of, all that really brings it to life. All that may not necessarily be significant, but it’s really exciting. You’re dealing with the practicalities of arriving in a strange place.”


He described Carlisle as a “significant base” for the Romans. “The dig is important because we know what’s going on there,” he said.


“Carlisle as a whole is an important Roman town. North of Chester, it’s the only Roman town with official status – cibitas – a town which had a council. It was the only one in the north west.


“One of the most significant [things we have learned] is the position of the fort itself,” he added. “Thirty years ago there was a possibility it was under the cathedral.”


Tullie House is to open a new Roman gallery next July which will feature some of the finds but take a bigger, overall look at the Roman empire.


The archaeological report claims that Carlisle’s ‘value’ “can be listed alongside York, Chester and Newcastle as one of the dominant centres in the north in Roman periods.”


First published at 14:15, Friday, 30 April 2010

Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk



Rude Roman pots halt city revamp


WORK on the £11.6 million revamp of Canterbury's prestigious Beaney Institute has ground to a halt – because of Roman pornography.


Archaeologists are racing against time to recover lost evidence beneath the city's streets before the builders return.


Among the artefacts already uncovered are saucy carvings of couples having sex.


A spokesman confirmed: "We have found many personal effects and high-class pottery – known as samian ware – depicting hunting and erotic scenes."


A team from Canterbury Archaeological Trust is digging in shifts seven days a week to take advantage of the temporary halt in the building programme.


Trust Director Paul Bennett said: "We are grateful to the city council for allowing us the extra time.


"This is a vitally important site in the heart of Canterbury. What we have discovered is a unique glimpse of ordinary everyday life."


Among the discoveries is a well-metalled and cambered Roman road and a large masonry and timber-framed building.


Mr Bennett added: "The street frontage is flanked by a narrow timber-framed portico, supported on dwarf walls that are perfectly preserved, including scars and a 'void' for timbers that have rotted."


The excavation began in February and was due to end last week. But work has been extended for three more weeks.


Archaeologists believe they have stumbled on an extensive network of small shops, homes and lanes representing inner-city life nearly 2,000 years ago.


Nearby is a clay-floored workshop or shop containing bread ovens. There is evidence to suggest it burnt down and was rebuilt. The time team believe they have also uncovered stables.


The Beaney building in the High Street dates back to 1900. It is being extended to double its size to update the city's museum and library.



Archaeologists baffled over ‘bizarre’ Viking discovery

By Gordon Deegan



A TEAM of Irish archaeologists is puzzled by the "bizarre" discovery of a 1,150-year-old Viking necklace in a cave in the Burren.


Besides being the largest by far – up to 12 times longer than previous finds – the team is puzzled by how such a "high-status" Viking treasure came to lie in the Burren, an area never settled by the Norsemen.


The site where the necklace was found at Glencurran Cave was described by team leader Dr Marion Dowd of Sligo IT as a "treasure trove" for archaeologists.


The necklace is one of a number of major items discovered in the dig, funded by the Department of the Environment and the Royal Irish Academy.


Dr Dowd said yesterday: "The necklace is the largest Viking necklace to have been found in Ireland. Normally, Vikings necklaces that have been found have five to six glass beads, but this has 71 glass beads covered with gold foil."


A leading expert on Irish cave archaeology, Dr Dowd was puzzled by how such a "stunning piece of jewellery" came to rest in the Burren.


"There is no parallel for it in Ireland and it is puzzling on a number of fronts," he said.


Dr Dowd said that the Vikings never settled in the Burren, but that Limerick was one of the Irish cities that they did settle in and speculated that the necklace – dating from the mid 9th century – could have been the result of a trade with Vikings from Limerick and Gaelic chieftains in the Burren.


Already, the skeletal remains of a two to four-year-old child that were placed in the cave in the Bronze Age, about 3,500 years ago, were subject to ancient DNA analysis


In all, the excavation has discovered the remains of seven adults, two children and one baby. A 10,000-year-old bear shoulder bone, a scapula, has also been found.


Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/archaeologists-baffled-over-bizarre-viking-discovery-118393.html#ixzz0ms8ZsHVW



Medieval black Briton found

Gillian Passmore

May 2, 2010


A SKELETON uncovered in the ruins of a friary is the earliest physical evidence of a black person living in Britain in medieval times.


The remains of a man, found in the friary in Ipswich, Suffolk, which was destroyed by Henry VIII, have been dated to the 13th century.


It is the first solid indication that there were black people in Britain in the 1,000-year period between the departure of the Romans, who had African slaves, and the beginnings of the age of discovery in the 15th century.


The skull had African characteristics, and an isotopic analysis of the man’s teeth and thigh bone traced his roots to north Africa.


The man is thought to have been captured by a nobleman who brought him back from one of the last crusades in the 1270s. His burial on consecrated ground suggests he was either a Christian or had converted.


He predates by 150 years the three black people previously known to have lived in Britain. They were identified from tax records.


A team of experts for BBC2’s History Cold Case programme, to be broadcast at 9pm on Thursday, has had the body carbon dated to 1190-1300. They have created a full facial reconstruction based on the skull size and shape.


It is believed he may have been brought back from north Africa as a servant by Lord Tiptoth, who had founded the friary before joining the ninth crusade.