Novae – sculptural and epigraphic landscape of the central part of the legionary fortress

Principal investigators: prof. dr hab. Tadeusz Sarnowski†, dr hab. Agnieszka Tomas
Name of the site:
Novae
Country:
Bulgaria
Partner institutions:
Faculty of Archaeology University of Warsaw and the National Institute of Archaeology Bulgarian Academy of Sciences with the Museum
Type of the site:
Roman legionary camp (castra legionis), civil settlement (canabae legionis) and late Roman town.

Chronology: 1st-6th century AD

Komputerowa rekonstrukcja części zabudowy rzymskiego obozu, autor: J. Kaniszewski
Komputerowa rekonstrukcja części zabudowy rzymskiego obozu, autor: J. Kaniszewski

The large project “Novae – the heart of the legion. Socialization and exhibition of the Roman military camp and late Antique town of Novae” (situated on the lower Danube in modern northern Bulgaria), co-financed by the European Commission within the Operational Programme Regional Development, was proceeded in 2012-2013 by engineering earth and construction works accompanied by a small rescue excavation campaign in the central part of the legionary fortress, on the site of the headquarters building (principia) of the 1st Italic legion, stationed at Novae from about AD 72 to the first half of the 5th century AD. During these works and excavations of 2013 there were found more than twenty statue bases with Greek and Latin inscriptions dated to the 2nd to 5th century AD and some Latin building inscriptions. At our disposal there are at the moment also about thirty other inscribed stones, mostly published, and more than one hundred, published and unpublished fragmentary statue bronzes.

The main objective of this project is to complete documentation of newly discovered inscriptions, to improve the documentation of older finds according to current standards and to prepare their publication. It has to provide maximum information about the palaeography of inscriptions and dedication formulae, time, place, circumstances, reasons of setting up statues of gods and emperors, and sometimes even financing the monument, altars, building or its dependencies, most probable material used to create statues, their size, types of sculptural representation and in some cases even the statue’s physical appearance, names, origin, social status and rank of the dedicators, place and role of the represented deity in the camp religion and in religious cults practiced in the province of Lower Moesia and in the whole lower Danubian region.

Project title/financial support:  “In medio castrorum. Sculptural and epigraphic landscape of the central part of the legionary fortress at Novae”, NCN, OPUS 11, nr UMO-2016/21/B/HS3/00030, planned period of realization 02.02.2017 – 01.02.2021.

Publications:

  • Tadeusz Sarnowski, Novae und die legio I Italica unter Trajan und Hadrian, Archeologia 67, 2018, 57-71
  • Tadeusz Sarnowski, Statio publici portorii in Novae (Niedermoesien) und eine neue Statuenbasis aus dem Stabsgebäude der 1. Italischen Legion, Studia Europaea Gnesnensia 16, 2017, 77-86 (DOI 10.14746/seg.2017.16.5)
  • Tadeusz Sarnowski, Building the Early Christian Episcopal Complex with Inscribed Stones from the Roman Legionary Headquarters, Sacrum et profanum, Novae. Studies and Materials, vol. VI, Poznań 2018, 77-86
  • Tadeusz Sarnowski, Komendantura rzymskiego legionu w Novae. Od odsłoniętych ruin do pełnowymiarowej wizualizacji w terenie, in: Donum Cordis. Księga poświęcona pamięci Jerzego Kolendo, J. Jakubiak (ed.), Warszawa, 2019, 335–345 (org/10.31338/uw.9788323538554.pp.335-345)
  • Tadeusz Sarnowski, In medio castrorum legionis I Italicae at Novae. Preserved Remains, 3D Virtual Modelling and Full-size Visualisation on the Original Site, in: Limes XXIII. Roman Frontier Studies, Mainz 2018, 350-359
  • Tadeusz Sarnowski, udział w Międzynarodowej Konferencji Naukowej XIII. Limes Congress 2015 – Germany, 12th-23rd September 2015. Tytuł wystąpienia: Das Stabsgebäude des Legionslagers Novae. Baubestand virtuelle Idealrekonstruktion und Nachbau in Originallage.
  • Tadeusz Sarnowski, udział w Międzynarodowej Konferencji Naukowej „Roman Empire: A 21st Century Perspective… In Memoriam Geza Alföldy (1935-2011), 8-10.11.2016, Gniezno. Tytuł wystąpienia: Neues aus Novae in Niedermoesien zum illyrischen Zollbezirk.
  • Adam Łajtar, udział Międzynarodowej Konferencji Naukowej „3rd Conference on the Roman Danubian Provinces. Society and Economy, 10-15th November 2017, Wien”. Tytuł wystąpienia: New Inscriptions from Novae Referring to the Institution of pastus militum.

Other research project realised in Novae by the Faculty (former Institute) of Archaeology University of Warsaw:

Novae 2016-2021. Extramural settlement near the Roman legionary fortress at Novae (Lower Moesia) and its fate in Late Antiquity (A. Tomas)

Novae 2012-2015. Research on settlement structures near the Roman legionary camp at Novae (Lower Moesia) using non-destructive prospection methods (A. Tomas, completed)

Novae 2009-2011. The headquarters building and the fortifications (T. Sarnowski, completed)

Forging Society at Late Bronze Age Mycenae

Person conducting research: Dr Stephanie Aulsebrook
Country: Greece
Site name: Mycenae
Type of the site: settlement and extra-mural cemeteries
Involved institutions: IAUW

Description of the research: This project is focused on Mycenae, the foremost centre on mainland Greece during the Late Bronze Age (17th – 11th C BC) and the relationship between its inhabitants and metals. Metals have a very varied role in prehistoric societies; they can be used for the manufacture of a diverse range of objects including tools, weapons, vessels, jewellery and armour but their comparative rarity and unique properties meant that they also had a significant role in the political economy.

In general, archaeologists have directed their attention towards the latter and that has meant that our understanding of the use of metals in the daily life of the community as a whole is not so well understood. To address this imbalance, my project has three underlying objectives:

1) to ascertain which social practices included metal artefacts and which did not.

2) to investigate access to metals within the community.

3) to reconstruct the typical biographies for different types of metal artefacts and explore atypical situations.

To achieve these aims, the first part of this project involves the creation of a database covering all known metals finds from Mycenae, as far as is possible. Published data will be supplemented by hands-on examination of the material. Once the database is completed, the data will be subjected to a series of qualitative and quantitative analysis, with the production of distribution plans a key priority. This type of holistic approach has not been attempted before and it is envisaged that this methodology ought to provide information concerning the usage of metals across the entirety of the community at Mycenae.

Project financing: SONATA 14 NCN competition

Current progress: the bespoke project database has been designed and is now live. The majority of the data available from the main publications of the site has now been entered and the focus has moved to checking through the annual excavation reports issued by the Archaeological Society at Athens. Here is an example of a catalogue entry:

Example of Entry in Database

Due to the current pandemic, some changes have been made to the project’s schedule as the Mycenae Excavations Archive is currently closed. However, progress is continuing and the project is still on track.

 

Marea – settlement and cemetery (Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods)

Person conducting excavation: dr hab. prof. UW Tomasz Derda
Country: Egypt
Site name: Marea
Type of the site: settlement and cemetery (Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods)
Involved institutions: Institute of Archaeology University of Warsaw, Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology University of Warsaw, Archaeological Museum in Krakow
Description of the research: On the southern shore of Lake Mariout, 45 kilometres west of Alexandria, Polish archaeologists have been excavating for several years the ruins of a large Byzantine city. The city, patiently uncovered structure after structure, was built exactly on the spot of an industrial centre and a harbour which functioned until the third century AD. Traditionally, the place was called Marea, following its (uncertain) identification with the most important urban centre in this part of the Mediterranean before the foundation of Alexandria of which we learn from Herodotus and Thucydides. A great transept basilica built in the end of the fifth century, the second largest church in Egypt (49 x 47 m), is the most magnificent building on the site. Next to the basilica, the archaeologists uncovered two bath complexes, a large house dating to the Late Antique period, warehouses, and latrines. Four massive piers (the longest measuring over 120 metres) extending deep into the lake date to the Roman period; they could serve several ships simultaneously. We know that large production workshops manufacturing pottery on a mass scale, as well as glass workshops, were located nearby. The apse of the basilica was constructed right on a pottery kiln which with its diameter of more than eight metres is one of the largest in Egypt. The kiln was used until the beginning of the third century AD, as indicated by the chronology of the last batch of amphorae prepared for firing which was found under the apse. Our neighbours on the site, archaeologists from France, have discovered on the peninsula a warehouse building functionally connected with the harbour. This structure was in use in the Ptolemaic and Early Roman periods. The remains, dated to the first century BC – beginning of the third century AD point to an intensive industrial exploitation of the area. We are in a region that produced wine on a great scale and exported it in amphorae which were also locally manufactured. The size of the kiln, the proportions of the warehouse, and the sweeping scale of the piers’ construction show that “Marea” was at the same time a remarkable industrial centre and a significant harbour.

San Isidro, El Salvador

San Isidro, Salwador
San Isidro, Salwador

project director: Dr. Jan Szymański

research location: San Isidro archaeological site, department of Sonsonate, El Salvador, Central America

site characteristics: The site has been continuously eroded by heavy agricultural machinery. Currently ca. 20 visible remains of monumental architecture are still recognisable. Dating of surface collections of pottery encompasses the Middle (ca. 1000-400 BC) and Late (ca. 400 BC-AD 250) Preclassic periods. San Isidro most likely served as a large regional center at the southeastern frontier of the Pre-Columbian Maya culture. The reconnaissance works have been underway since 2018.

participating institutions: University of Warsaw (Poland), Universidad Francisco Gavidia (El Salvador), Dirección de Arqueología del Ministerio de Cultura (El Salvador)

dating: tentative, ~1000 BC – AD 250

financing: 2018 – “Miniatura” grant provided by the National Center for Sciences (Narodowe Centrum Nauki – NCN), (ID 381403), 2019 – funds from the “Excellence Strategies – Research Academy” program

research description: In 2018 a field survey was carried out, as well as partial photogrammetric documentation of the visible architectural remains. A drone-based topographic map, albeit interim, has been elaborated. The works will continue in 2019.

bibliography:

2018; Szymański J., M. Mendez, M. Toledo, J. Avalos Campos, R. Cabrera, R. Cea; San Isidro: Large Preclassic site at the eastern edge of the Maya Culture, Mexicon 40(40):100-104.

Cerrito 1, the highest mound on site
Cerrito 1, the highest mound on site
digital elevation model of El Trapiche group, San Isidro

Deir al-Surian — monastic church

Project of the University of Warsaw and University of Amsterdam:

„A Cross-section in Time: The Church of the Holy Virgin in Deir al-Surian – an integrated analysis of the building, its paintings and inscriptions.”, financed by NCN (2015/18/M/HS3/00621).

Person conducting excavation: dr Karel Innemée i dr Dobrochna Zielińska
Site: Monastery of the Syrians (Deir al-Surian), Wadi Natrun, Egypt
Type of the site: monastic church
Datowanie: 7th – 21st century

A thorough investigation of the architecture and interior decoration of the church of the Holy Virgin in Deir al-Surian (Egypt) with the aim of reconstructing the most important stages in the development of the building between its construction in the middle of the 7th century and the present. The building has undergone a number of architectural modifications and, partly in connection with this, has been re-decorated up to four times since the 7th century. Two important stages (10th and 13th centuries) can be dated to the period when the monastery was inhabited by a Syriac community. This involves important influences from Syriac culture on the monastic milieu in Egypt, an aspect that will be an important part of the research.

The layer of 18th century undecorated plaster that covers large parts of the interior are removed to uncover the stratification of mural paintings and inscriptions of various kinds that can be expected underneath. Apart from that, evidence of architectural modifications can be expected. The documentation and analysis of this material should lead to a new insight in the development of the building and its decoration, leading to conclusions concerning its use and the changes in the church. The iconography of the paintings is analysed on the basis of texts (mainly wall inscriptions accompanying the paintings, but also liturgical, patristic and other kinds of written sources) and comparison with contemporary paintings elsewhere.

The research is multidisciplinary in its approach (architecture, iconography of the paintings, epigraphy and liturgy) and for this reason specialists with a reputation in their fields have been invited to participate. This has led to establishing a cooperation between University of Amsterdam and University of Warsaw. The Dutch side in this project also collaborates with specialists from universities in the USA (Duke), Belgium (Louvain-la-Neuve) and Germany (Bonn).

Tanais – antique town

Tanais
Person conducting excavation: Marcin Matera, PhD
Country: Russia, Tanais (Myasnikovski district, Rostov Oblast)
Site name: Tanais
Type of the site: Antique town
Involved institutions: Museum-Reserve “Tanais”, Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw, Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Centre, University of Warsaw
Tanais
Description of the research:
Excavations conducted at Tanais by the University of Warsaw began in 1995 and have continued ever since . Since 1999, the Polish mission has explored Trench XXV situated at the western border of Western Tanais. Up until now, circa 1300 square metres have been investigated, which resulted in unearthing Hellenistic architectural remains: a bridge made of wood and stone leading across a defensive ditch protecting the town, a fortification complex consisting of a ditch dug from the side facing the steppe, a stone defensive wall, as well as a carefully fortified gateway to the town . Residential housing was confined inside the town walls (the rooms: ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’, ‘E’, and ‘F’) along with an urban street grid (‘a’ and ‘b’).

Currently, research is conducted within the framework of the project “Hellenistic Buildings in Tanais – fortifications and adjacent intramural district. Further research” funded by National Science Center, Poland (2016/21/B/HS3/03423).

Castillo de Huarmey. The Wari Empire Centre on the North Coast of Peru.

Castillo de Huarmey, phot. Miłosz Giersz
Castillo de Huarmey, phot. Miłosz Giersz

Person conducting excavation: Miłosz Giersz, PhD
Country: Peru
Site name: Huramey
Type of the site: settlement, palace, temple, cemetery. Wari Empire (600 – 1050 n.e.).
Involved institutions: IAUW, PUCP, NGS, APPEA

Description of the research:
Twelve centuries ago, in a Peruvian desert on the Pacific coast, on the outskirts of the first empire of pre-Columbian Andes, called Wari by archaeologists, a new centre of power was established, with Castillo de Huarmey as its capital. Centuries before the Inca rose to power, the rulers of the Wari Empire developed a unique culture that created rare works of art and architecture. Castillo de Huarmey became one of the richest necropolis of the Wari Empire elites.

phot. Miłosz Giersz
phot. Miłosz Giersz

The Huarmey Valley, located in the Ancash region about 300 km north of the capital of Peru, Lima, is one of the many river valleys on the desert Pacific coast. In that peaceful oasis, over a millennium ago, the Wari people established a new centre of power. Castillo de Huarmey, located 1 km (0.6 mi) east from the present-day capital of the Huarmey province, covers an area of 45 ha. It is dominated by a monumental palace and the royal necropolis built above it, on the summit of a natural rock hill. Plundered and damaged over decades, only in 2010 were the ruins of the capital of a Wari Empire province finally, and extensively, studied, when a team led by Miłosz Giersz and Patrycja Prządka-Giersz, both from the University of Warsaw, with Krzysztof Makowski and Roberto Pimentel Nita from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (Lima), carried out the first archaeological excavations. There, after years of work, a Polish-Peruvian team of archaeologists directed by dr. Milosz Giersz from the University of Warsaw, Poland, unearthed the first undisturbed royal tomb of pre-Columbian Wari civilization that consisted of remains of 58 noblewomen, 6 human sacrifices, two mutilated guardians and over 1300 artefacts made of gold, silver, bronze, decorated pottery as well as rare wood, bone, and shell and stone materials. This discovery was considered by National Geographic Society and ARCHAEOLOGY. A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America as one of the most important archaeological findings worldwide. Those archaeological excavations brought as many unique data as new research questions that archaeologists are trying to answer by continuing multidisciplinary research at this unique pre-Columbian site.

Project financing:
The 2010 field season of the Castillo de Huarmey Archaeological Project was supported by grants from the National Science Center of the Republic of Poland (2970/B/H03/2009/37) and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Poland (579/N-PERU/2009/0). The 2012-2018 field seasons of the Castillo de Huarmey Archaeological Project were supported by grants from the National Science Center of the Republic of Poland (NCN 2011/03/D/HS3/01609 and NCN 2014/14/M/HS3/00865), the National Geographic Society (EC0637-13, GEFNE85-13, GEFNE116-14 and W335-14) and financial support from Compañia Minera Antamina S.A. Many Project’s initiatives were also supported by the Foundation for Polish Science (grant KWERENDA 2011/195), the National Science Center (grants NCN 2015/18 / E / HS3 / 00106 and NCN 2015/19 / N / HS3 / 00880) and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Diamond Grant 2013012043), as well as the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima, Polish-Peruvian Society for Andean Studies, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Peru and the local government of Huarmey.

Qumeira 2 – neolithic settlement

Person conducting excavation: Marcin Białowarczuk PhD
Country: Sultanate of Oman
Site name: Qumeira site 2
Type of the site: Settlement
Involved institutions:
Institute od Archaeology University of Warsaw Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology University of Warsaw Ministry of Heritage and Culture, sultanate of Oman
Description of the research:
Traces of occupation of the Neolithic pastoralists groups, sesonally settled of highland and mountainous areas of northern Oman.
Project:
Omani-Polish Qumayrah Archaeological Project – PCMA University of Warsaw

Failaka Island – waterfront archaeology

Person conducting excavation:
Prof. Piotr Bieliński, Agnieszka Pieńkowska PhD, Magdalena Nowakowska MA
Country: Kuwait
Site name: Failaka Island
Involved institutions:
Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology and National Council of Culture, Arts and Letter, State of Kuwait
Type of the site: Waterfront archaeology of Failaka Island
Description of the research:
The Polish – Kuwaiti project: “Waterfront and Underwater Archaeology of Kuwait. Archeorisk on the Coastal Zone around Failaka Island, Kuwait” is the first archaeological research project concerning underwater cultural heritage of Kuwait and Failaka Island. The aim of the project is to detect and describe remaining archaeological sites at the tidal area, as well as to provide documentary evidence and finally organise the proper preservation. During previous seasons many littoral constructions were reported. The result was stunning: 33 stone structures located, and most of them interpreted as fish traps – stone tidal weirs and remains of three harbours with breakwaters were also discovered.
Project:
“Waterfront and Underwater Archaeology of Kuwait. Archeorisk on the Coastal Zone around Failaka Island, Kuwait”