Puzzling Roman-Era Remains Found in Switzerland

Puzzling Roman-Era Remains Found in Switzerland



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A team of archaeologists have discovered a peculiar Roman-era earthenware pot filled with 22 oil lamps, each containing a bronze coin, in Windisch, a municipality in the district of Brugg in the canton of Aargau in Switzerland. According to the Aargau canton archeology department , the pot was discovered under a street in the area as part of an archaeological investigation in order for the local authorities to proceed with the construction of an ambitious architectural project comprising apartment blocks and commercial property.

The Romans Made It to Switzerland Almost 2000 Years Ago

Experts believe that the pot has probably been buried there for nearly 2,000 years, dating it from the time of the Roman legion camp Vindonissa, which was located near where Windisch is now. According to most contemporary historians Vindonissa was probably established in 15 AD. The Legio XIII Gemina, also known as Legio tertia decima Gemina, was stationed at Vindonissa until 44 or 45 AD. It was a legion of the Imperial Roman army and according to most historical accounts it was one of Julius Caesar's most powerful and important units in Gaul and in the civil war. It was also the legion with which Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon on January 10, 49 BC and what’s even more impressive is that the legion appears to have still been in existence in the 5th century AD. With the arrival of the 21st legion (XXI Rapax), the camp was reconstructed with stone fortifications. After the 21st legion had looted the countryside in 69 AD, it was replaced by the 11th legion (XI Claudia) which remained stationed until 101 AD. After this date, Vindonissa was a civilian settlement, with a castle built in the 4th century.

The Roman amphitheatre of Vindonissa, now Windisch, Switzerland

A Very Exciting but Also Mysterious Discovery

Previous archaeological excavations in the area have exhumed clear confirmation of organized habitation and civilization dating from the Roman era, including the foundations of relatively big structures. This discovery, however, is considered by most archaeologists and experts a very special and puzzling one. Despite the pot being pretty common and representative of the cooking pots used by soldiers stationed at Vindonissa, the purpose of its contents – 22 oil lamps, each containing a carefully situated coin – is surrounded by mystery. Aargau cantonal archaeologist Georg Matter, describes the mixed feelings of his team after the fascinating discovery in the best possible way, “What astonished us was the quantity and the combination of coins and lamps” [via The Local.ch ]. Every single lamp is decorated with an image, including the moon goddess Luna, a gladiator, a lion, a peacock and an erotic scene. The bronze coins are not of value but demonstrate a symbolic gesture and date from 66-67 AD.

An extraordinary find: A Roman cooking pot filled with lamps and coins. Credit: Aargau canton archeology department

Future Discoveries Might Reveal More about the Pot’s Content

The pot also contained charred fragments of animal bones, ruling it out as an urn for human remains. Despite Matter not being sure about the nature of the pot and its content, he speculates that it could be a ritual burial. However, the fact that there have never been any other comparable or similar discoveries, makes things for Matter and his team even harder. “The intentions behind this burial are puzzling at the moment,” adds Matter, who hopes that additional discoveries will help him understand the use of the pot and its content a little better. From a historical point of view, it’s interesting to notice that the Romans made it right over the Swiss Alps with no modern conveniences, a fact that clearly shows that nothing was poised to stop the ferocious Roman Legions back then.

A researcher documents the Roman find. Credit: Aargau canton archeology department


    Archaeologists puzzled by the discovery of a Roman pot filled with lamps and coins in Switzerland

    Once again harking back to the Roman legacy in ancient central Europe, researchers have found an earthenware pot of Roman origin filled with oil lamps and bronze coins in the commune of Windisch, located in the northern Swiss canton of Aargau. Discovered during an archaeological examination prior to the commencement of a commercial construction project, the pot and its contents are probably around 2,000-years old. This date corresponds with the time-period of the Roman Vindonissa military camp, which was located near modern-day Windisch. But while earlier excavations have also yielded evidence of ancient Roman occupation of the proximate area, archaeologists are baffled by the unique arrangement of the coins and the lamps inside the pot.

    To that end, the cooking pot in itself is typical of the type used by the Roman legionaries at Vindonissa. However the mysterious part pertains to how each of the bronze coins were placed quite carefully atop the lamps (22 in number), thus suggesting a particular type of a ritual. Interestingly enough, the lamps in themselves are embellished with depictions of many figure-based forms, including the Moon goddess Luna, a gladiator, a lion, a peacock and even an erotic scene.

    On the other hand, the Roman bronze coins (known as asses in plural), dating from 66-67 AD, are not of high value, which in turn rather reinforces the conjecture that the monetary items were only used for some symbolic significance. Additionally the pot was also found to have charred remains of animal bones, as opposed to humans, thus ruling out the scenario of the vessel being used as an urn. Aargau cantonal archaeologist, Georg Matter, said –

    What astonished us was the quantity and the combination of coins and lamps. We suspect this is a ritual burial.

    Finally, as for the historical side of events, the Vindonissa legion camp (derived from Gaulish toponym – *windo, meaning ‘white’) was possibly founded in 15 AD and later expanded with thermae (thermal bathing facilities) and stone fortifications. However by 2nd century AD, the camp and its proximate area were converted into a civilian settlement, and even more fortifications were built after 4th century AD.


    Medieval castles in Switzerland

    Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.

    Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.

    Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.

    The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.

    During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.

    The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.

    From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.

    The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.

    Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.


    Retreating glaciers are liberating bodies and objects lost thousands of years ago and revealing much about the people who once lived in these mountains.

    BRIG — A skull, a sword, a few bones, a pistol and a small handful of coins. It's all that remains of a man who died around the year 1600 in the region of Zermatt.

    After being loaned to an Italian museum, the remains of the so-called "mercenary" are now on exhibit in the town of Swiss town of Brig. Culture Minister Esther Waeber Kalbermatten says they represent "a heritage of international importance," and she encourages mountaineers and hikers to announce their discoveries as soon as they find them as the glaciers continue to shrink.

    Ice preserved this man, who never made it past the Theodul Pass, once an important connecting point between Switzerland and Italy. Aged between 20 and 30 and from the Alps, he was traveling with 184 coins and many weapons, including a wheellock pistol, a sword and a left-handed dagger. So far, these objects appear to tell the story of a mercenary returning home with his pay. But the Valais History Museum has published a book that compiles the most recent research on the topic, which actually contradicts this theory.

    The mercenary was a rich traveler

    Archeologist Sophie Providoli, who directed the book's publication, believes the man wasn't a soldier, but rather a "rich traveler." He wore silk braids and his beard was trimmed. According to Matthias Senn, the former curator of the Swiss National Museum and a weapons specialist, the pistol and the dagger were more "stylish accessories" than weapons of war. Dispersed by the melting glacier, the bones and objects were found progressively by a Zermatt geologist between 1984 and 1990.

    The "Theodul mercenary" and his belongings are the oldest glacial remains in Europe after the famous "Ötzi," a male body that dates back more than 5,000 years. Warm winds released Ötzi from the Hauslabjoch glacier in 1991. The body was found by hikers at more than 3,200 meters in altitude, at the border between Austria and Italy. Armed with a bow and an ax, the man was in all likelihood killed by an arrow in the back during the Chalcolithic period, then became mummified in ice. The discovery marked the beginning of glacial archeology.

    An auspicious period

    Since 1850, temperatures have been rising faster in the Alps, and glaciers have been retreating. When they do, they expose forgotten, long frequented paths that ice gradually obstructed. "We're living an auspicious period of archeology," says Philippe Curdy, curator of the Prehistory and Great Age Department of the Sion History Museum.

    At the Schnidejoch Pass, which made it possible to travel through Bern and the Valais canton, the 2003 heat wave melted an ice field. By chance, hikers found a bow and arrows that were more than 7,000 years old, 1,500 years older than Ötzi. Some 900 objects were then unearthed on the site, dating back to the Neolithic, Bronze or Iron ages, from the Roman era of the Middle Ages.

    Digital archeology

    Between 2011 and 2014, a Swiss National Science Foundation research project called "Frozen Passes and Historical Remains" made it possible to systematically explore 13 sites, all located between 3,000 and 3,500 meters in altitude. Geographers identified and modeled the most likely historical crossing points, which were then cross-checked by historians based on available archives. Now archeologists explore these sites at the beginning of every autumn, when the snow melts. At the Theodul Pass, they discovered tools that date from the Middle Ages and polished wood that goes back to the Roman era.

    Ice makes it possible to preserve organic matter, but its melting leads to a rapid deterioration of the remains. Fabrics disintegrate from heat and humidity, and foraging animals disperse the bones. "It's information that's disappearing," says Curdy, who is eager to intensify his investigation.

    Geographer Ralph Lugon predicts that ice will have completely disappeared from some of the identified sites by 2080. "The time during which glaciers spit out their treasures will be short and unique," he says.


    About This Project

    What is the context of this research?

    The site of Cosa is situated about 140 kilometers north of Rome and overlooks the Tyrrhenian sea. Beginning in the 1940s with the seminal exploration of the town by Frank Brown, a series of important excavations have taken place at the site. Although Cosa has been well studied, there are still sections of the town that have yet to be excavated and explored. One of these unexamined zones includes a small bath complex near to the forum, which is now the focus of an archaeological excavation led by Dr. Andrea U. De Giorgi of Florida State University and Dr. Russell T. Scott of Bryn Mawr College. Although the project has only completed its first season (2013), more excavation is necessary in order to investigate the implications of this small bathing complex.

    Last summer, the first excavations were undertaken in the area of the baths during the month of June. Several areas of the bath were of particular interest for the inaugural season: excavation of the laconicum (the sweat room that utilized dry heat - you can see an interactive model of the laconicum here.) the discovery of the southern façade and its relationship to the street exploration of a potential terminal wall at the eastern line of the building. Many of these goals were accomplished during the first season, or at least the team began to investigate those areas. Some hindrances still remain, however. For example, in the laconicum several large pieces of vaulting had collapsed into the circular area, which restricted excavation of the feature until they could be removed with a mechanical crane. Although several of these fragments were successfully extracted from the area, a few were unable to be removed due to time restraints and difficulty with the mechanical crane. The incomplete removal of all vaulting fragments resulted in the halting of progress, as excavation at the time was too hazardous to continue.

    At the southern end of the complex, several rooms were uncovered, which, at this time, appear to have included the entry way (as a threshold block was discovered in the final week of excavation) and a potential apodyterium (changing room). In order to concretely identify the purpose of the bench, the purpose of the room as a whole, and its relationship with the surrounding rooms of the complex, further excavation is necessary.

    One of the most interesting architectural remains associated with the complex is a large reservoir or cistern located to the south of the building's façade. Given that the site was not fed by an aqueduct, the capacity of the reservoir is strikingly large, as is the main conduit that fed water to the bathhouse proper. Further investigation, which could result in a potential dissertation topic for myself, would indicate how the water tank was supplied, how it fed the baths, and how often would have needed to be refilled.

    What is the significance of this project?

    The site of Cosa is extremely important for Roman Archaeology, as it presents one of the best examples of Republican architecture and urban planning. As the bath complex is situated so close to the forum (the political center of the town), perhaps the bath complex is contemporary with these early forms of Roman urbanization. If this is the case, then the example at Cosa would present one of the earliest examples of a public bathing structure on the Italian peninsula.

    The city, however, appears to have had limited access to water, as the water table is too low for wells and no aqueducts are connected with the area. Therefore, an exploration of the water supply and hydraulics of the bath complex is necessary to understand the workings of the bath.

    Although the Romans were very well known for their use and implementation of aqueducts throughout the empire, by no means did every town or city have access to this form of water transportation and supply. By exploring the bath complex at Cosa, a site that is known to have no access to water through aqueducts, we may present to the field of archaeology and architecture a new understanding of how, two thousand years ago, one engineered such a structure that depends so highly on water flow in an area of limited water access.

    Another facet of the project is to promote visitation to the site and to spread awareness of cultural preservation and its importance in central Italy and beyond. In recent years it appears that interest in maintaining and visitation of the site has dwindled. As a result, the structures that illustrate practically every textbook on Roman archaeology and architecture have been almost entirely covered over with vegetal growth.

    By systematically uncovering once more the ruins that were exposed in the last century and studied by archaeologists, we would not only save the archaeology from further destruction, but also bring in more visitors to the site, that, in turn, would help the local economy.

    Another method of cultural preservation which our project has begun to implement is the creation of accurate 3D reconstructions of the buildings on site. One method of manipulating the information found during an excavation is to create accurate 3-D models of the archaeology and its environs. Digitalizing the archaeology also makes the material much more easily accessible to the public, a facet of archaeology that has long been criticized.

    What are the goals of the project?

    There are several goals that the project would like to accomplish in the coming seasons at Cosa. The current, shorter term goals of this project are:

    1.) to complete excavation of the bath complex at Cosa, as well as the water supply systems that are situated in the area. This includes completing excavation on the different areas that were both undertaken in the previous, inaugural season, and also those that we intend to excavate in the coming months.

    2.) the complete excavation, recording, and publishing of the laconicum (a model of which you can see here). In order to perform this task, however, a large piece of vaulting, which sits precariously on the edge of the feature and threatens collapse into the structure (and potentially those within), needs to be removed with a mechanical mover. In order to hire such a device, as well as people who are trained in using it, more money needs to be raised (approximately $600 for one mechanical mover for one day). Once the laconicum has been thoroughly excavated, material will be published in the year immediately after its completion.

    3.) to make public up-to-date information about our ongoing excavations on several websites, including the official site of the Cosa Excavations. Information from this area will no doubt also aid graduate students in writing their dissertations.

    4.) to excavate the cistern to the south of the bath complex. Again, just as with the laconicum, the data from excavations in this area would result in not only publications, but also, for this area in particular, one or more dissertations could be written.

    5.) to establish a chronology of the bath complex should be established in order to state whether or not the structure had its foundations in the Roman Republic or the Empire. The difference could bring Cosa, once again, into the forefront of Roman and Classical Archaeology. This is one of the overarching goals that would be easily accomplished, so long as excavations are able to continue in the future.

    There are also several other goals, which are certainly actionable, although they involve a longer term involvement in the site. The ultimate goal of the project, extending beyond the excavation of the baths, is to bring focus back to the archaeological site of Cosa. There exists a nice, albeit outdated, museum at the site that can be explored by the public for a small fee. It is our intention to aid in the refurbishment of this museum to include updated information, more visitor-friendly displays and information, and more technological advances, such as the potential creation of a mobile app, implemented in the building.

    Additionally, the entire site is open to the public, including the area around the current excavations run through FSU and Bryn Mawr Therefore, the site is extremely accessible and important for those who wish to learn about Roman architecture and urbanization. Unfortunately, the current popularity of the site is minimal. Few people visit the museum, let alone the archaeological park, and the state of the forum, a highlight of every textbook on Roman Republican architecture and archaeology, is now covered with trees and weeds. A full scale cleaning of the forum area would be necessary, but by no means is it unfathomable or inconceivable. Only future excavation seasons are necessary for its completion, something that can be fostered with outside funding.

    There also exists a large house (domus) near the forum and baths at Cosa which features spectacular mosaics. As of last year, the project is beginning to conserve these works of art, which have been sorely neglected and left to the elements. In the coming seasons, we hope to continue to conserve these mosaics and others found around the site.

    Again, a very realistic, and feasible, goal for the project is to aid in the education and training of graduate students in excavation, conservation, and the implementation of practical museological skills. The different spheres of the project also would allow a great resource for numerous dissertations and publications that would be vital for the research and furthering of our knowledge of ancient Cosa and other similar sites on the Italian peninsula and beyond its borders.


    Hoard of Roman coins found in Switzerland

    A Swiss farmer found in his cherry orchard something extraordinary as he spotted it shimmering in the molehill and then a trove of 4,166 Roman bronze and silver coins.

    The hoard has been described as one of the biggest treasures ever found in Switzerland.

    In a short distance from an old Roman village, in the closeby city of Frick, Agence France Press notes that this discovery took place in Ueken, in the north canton of Aargau in Switzerland.

    Some of Roman coins found in Ueken, Aargau canton, which experts say were buried 1,700 years ago.

    The Swiss farmer asked the regional archeological office for the excavation of all the coins, some of which were hidden in small pouches of leather, for several months.

    In total, the trove weighs an incredible 15kg (33lb) and consists of ancient Roman coins stretching from the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270 – 275 AD), known for restoring the Empire’s eastern provinces after his conquest of the Palmyrene Empire, to the reign of Maximian (286 – 305 AD),

    who carried out campaigns to relieve the Rhine provinces from the threat of Germanic invasion. The most recent coin discovered in the hoard dates to 294 AD.

    “As an archaeologist one rarely experiences something like this more than once in your career,” Swiss archaeologist Georg Matter told Spie-gel Online .

    The coins are in excellent condition with the prints still legible, leading experts to suspect that the coins were taken out of circulation shortly after they were minted, but retained for the value of the bronze and silver.

    The region in which the coins were found has a long history, and is believed to have been the location of a large Roman settlement between the 1 st and 4 th century AD.

    Remains of a 2 nd century Roman estate have been found along the main road in the town of Frick, and a 4 th century fort was discovered below the church hill.

    The Roman era name for Frick (Latin: Ferraricia) refers to a Roman iron ore mine in the area.

    The farmer who discovered the treasure will receive a finder’s fee, but according to Swiss law, the coins will remain public property and are set to go on display at the Vindonissa de Brugg Museum in Aargau.


    The History Blog

    Archaeologists excavating the site of a new apartment building in Brig-Glis, south central Switzerland, have discovered remains of unexpectedly large and architecturally significant Roman-era buildings. Within an area of 8600 square feet, the team discovered the remains of two buildings and a commercial kiln. Fragments of pottery vessels from northern Gaul date the buildings to between the 3rd and 5th centuries.

    The largest of the two buildings had walls made of masonry and mortar. The excavation revealed a section of wall 30 feet long which means the building was of exceptional size for the time and place. It extends beyond the perimeter of the dig site. This is only the second Roman masonry building ever found in the Canton of Haut-Valais, and the other one was a very small sanctuary discovered during highway construction nearby.

    />The second building is more than 430 square feet in area. It had dry stone walls built with no mortar. A clay and wood building attached to it contained a kiln used in the production of lime.

    The Simplon Alpine pass, today famed for its tunnel and the Orient Express train that runs through it, connects Brig-Glis with Domodossola in Piedmont, Italy. Emperor Septimius Severus had a mule track built over the pass in 196 A.D. and the Simplon Road brought Roman trade and cultural influence into what is now Valais.

    Archaeologists believe that the newly-discovered buildings were agricultural outbuildings and artisanal workshops associated with a small settlement that grew on the Simplon Road. The scale and architecture of the structures and the quality of the imported ceramics found there indicates the area was far more Romanized than previously realized.

    This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2020 at 11:24 PM and is filed under Ancient. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


    The History Blog

    Archaeologists excavating the site of a Roman fort and civilian settlement in the northern Swiss city of Windisch have unearthed an unusual hoard: a cooking pot filled with lamps, each containing a single bronze coin. What is now the Zürcherstrasse, one of Windisch’s busiest streets, in the first century A.D. was the defensive wall of the Roman legionary camp of Vindonissa. It was established in the province of Germania Superior around 15 A.D. and was occupied by various legions until 101 A.D., after which it was integrated into the civilian settlement. The ancient town was inhabited through the 5th century.

    The Aargau Canton archaeology department has been excavating the site south of Zürcherstrasse where a multi-use development with underground garage will be constructed, since 2013. They’ve discovered the remains of defensive earthworks, well-preserved stone buildings, fireplaces, a latrine pit and a deep brick shaft.

    It was in the brick shaft that archaeologists found the pot, the kind of quotidian vessel the legionaries at Vindonissa would have used to cook their food, entirely intact and in exceptionally good condition. Inside were 22 oil lamps. They too were implements used by regular people in their daily life. They were filled with oil and lit at the spout end. Produced in enormous quantities and sold all over the empire, the lamps were often decorated on the top side with designs which would glow in the light. The lamps collected inside the pot are decorated with a variety of motifs: a flower, the moon goddess Luna, a winged Cupid, a defeated gladiator, a lion, a peacock, even an erotic scene.

    An as, a bronze coin that was lowest value currency in the early Roman Empire, was placed inside each lamp. Almost all of the coins date to 66 and 67 A.D., a range that fits the style of the cooking pot and lamps. Because asses were of such low value, their inclusion in this odd assemblage is likely symbolic.

    “What astonished us was the quantity and the combination of coins and lamps,” said Aargau cantonal archaeologist Georg Matter.

    “We suspect this is a ritual burial,” he said, but stressed that was only speculation since there haven’t been any other comparable discoveries.

    The pot also contained charred fragments of animal bones, ruling it out as a urn for human remains.

    “The intentions behind this burial are puzzling at the moment,” added Matter.

    The pot has been fully excavated in the laboratory, the lamps catalogued and photographed. Next on the schedule is examination of the coins by numismatic experts and the analysis of the bone fragments.

    This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2016 at 11:56 PM and is filed under Ancient. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


    Irgenhausen Castrum

    Irgenhausen Castrum is a Roman fort situated on Pfäffikersee lake shore. It was a square fort, measuring 60 metres in square, with four corner towers and three additional towers. The remains of a stone wall in the interior were probably a spa.

    In the Roman era, there was a Roman road from Centum Prata (Kempraten) on Obersee–Lake Zürich via Vitudurum (Oberwinterthur) to Tasgetium (Eschenz) on the Rhine. To secure this important transport route, the castrum was built. The native name of the fort is unknown: Irgenhausen was mentioned in AD 811 as Camputuna sive Irincheshusa, so maybe the castrum&aposs name was Cambodunum, the Roman name of the neighboring village of Kempten.

    For the dating of the fort there are two theories: the first assumes that the fort was built at the time of the Emperor Diocletian around AD 294/295. The other theory, based on the Roman coins found inside the castrum, dated the construction from 364 to 375, in the era of the Emperor Valentinian II. As early as AD 400 the castrum was evacuated and destroyed by Alamanni invaders.

    In addition to the remains of the towers and surrounding wall, there were found the remains of stone interior buildings: a three-roomed building was seen as a spa. Another building with three rooms has been interpreted as principia, the headquarters of the fort. At the southern corner tower a hypocaust system of an older villa rustica from the 1st to the 3rd century was excavated. The other buildings were made of wood and therefore cannot be individually identified. However, some military barracks, a horreum and a praetorium was probably built inside the fort. In the middle of the hill there was a sunken room. Most of the relics found inside the fort date from the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD and are thought to be relics of the villa rustica on whose ruins the fort was built. At the present time, a red ribbon in the wall shows where the Roman wall ends and the restored wall begins.


    2 Answers 2

    It was probably approximately 155cm for women, and about 168cm for men. We have direct evidence for this from analysing the skeletal remains of the Romans. For example, in a study [1] of 927 adult male Roman skeletons between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500, Professor Geoffrey Kron of the University of Victoria found an average of 168cm.

    This is corroborated by remains found at the ancient towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Both cities were infamously destroyed by the A.D. 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius. A study of the remains left by their unfortunate Roman residents tell us that:

    The major samples from Herculaneum and Pompeii reveal the stature of the ancient adult body. The average height for females was calculated from the data to have been 155 cm in Herculaneum and 154 cm in Pompeii: that for males was 169 cm in Herculaneum and 166 cm in Pompeii. This is somewhat higher than the average height of modern Neapolitans in the 1960s and about 10 cm shorter than the WHO recommendations for modern world populations.

    - Laurence, Ray. "Health and the Life Course at Herculaneum and Pompeii." Health in Antiquity. Ed. Helen King. London: Routledge, 2005.

    Notice how two neighbouring Roman communities nonetheless produced slightly different average heights. There will naturally be variations like this at different Roman settlements and at different time periods in Rome's lengthy history. Moreover, height can also be affected by diet, and thus there would probably have been some differences between different classes or groups of Romans, too.

    We do also have some historical evidence, particularly from the height measurements of Roman soldiers. Soldiers probably would have been higher than civilians in general, though the results do seems generally in line with the skeletal remains:

    Imperial regulations, though not entirely unambiguous, suggest that the minimum height for new recruits was five Roman feet, seven inches (165 cm., 5'5") . for the army as a whole a reasonable estimate of a soldier's average height is around 170 cm (5'7").

    - Roth, Jonathan, and Jonathan P. Roth. The Logistics of the Roman Army at War: 264 BC-AD 235. Columbia studies in the classical tradition, Vol. 23. Brill, 1999.

    [1]: Kron, Geoffrey. "Anthropometry, physical anthropology, and the reconstruction of ancient health, nutrition, and living standards." Historia: Zeitschrift fur Alte Geschichte (2005): 68-83.


    1 Prime Real Estate

    In the 8200 block of West Summerdale Avenue in Chicago, 29 bodies were discovered buried in the crawl space of John Wayne Gacy&rsquos red-and-brown brick home. In the search for remains, the home was razed in April 1979 and sat vacant for nine years until the construction of a new residence was underway.

    Many neighbors were understandably pleased, although some believed that a monument for the victims should have been erected on the site of the largest mass murder in Chicago&rsquos history. Others in the neighborhood thought that the new owners were &ldquocrazy&rdquo to build on grounds that may house the souls of the dead. [10]

    Interestingly enough, countless locals were perplexed that the vacant lot had remained barren since the day of the original home&rsquos demolition. The fact that grass and even weeds had failed to grow on the property&rsquos eerie soil mystified neighbors, generating numerous stories about the place being haunted by the ghosts of Gacy&rsquos victims.

    Gacy was executed on May 10, 1994, for the murder of at least 33 teenage boys and young men. Even now, rumors persist that other victims of Gacy remain buried in and around the city of Chicago, forever lost and never to rest in peace.


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