2008 Unexplainable Recap of Exciting Headlines: October

During the renovation of a rugby stadium, workers were taken off guard when they happened upon an extensive complex of tombs situated underneath Rome. The discovery resembles a small city , complete with houses and streets. Evidence suggests that people may have lived in the region during the Dark Ages, but after centuries of inhabiting the land, the area became a site for burials during the Roman period.

‘City of the Dead’ Located Below Rome cont.

With the help of medieval pottery shards, researchers should obtain more details about the past during this particular time period. For example, it is not yet known who was actually buried in the ancient cemetery. Some archeologists believe that some of the dead could possibly be freed slaves of Greek origin.  Overall, it is clear that a neighborhood is hidden under the ground.

Tomb of Roman Nobleman Uncovered

In a separate excavation, researchers uncovered the tomb of a nobleman within the northern part of the city. He is believed to have guided Roman legions during the 2nd century AD. Thanks to the Tiber River, a flood brought a blanket of mud on top of the mausoleum, which helped in the preservation of elaborate décor, beautiful marble columns, and inscriptions. Fortunately, this allowed the site to withstand the harshness of time, as well as ill intentions of looters.

The tomb possessed writings that aided experts in reaching an identity of the owner. It turned out to be that of Marcus Nonius Macrinus, one of the closest aides and generals of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Macrinus played an important role during Aurelius’ campaign against the Germanic tribes of Northern Europe. Interestingly, bits and pieces of Macrinus’ life actually inspired some of the character development of Russell Crowe’s role in ‘Gladiator.’

Copper Age Timeline Needs Readjusting?

According to Serbian archaeologists, a copper axe dating back 7,500 years was uncovered from a Balkan site may reveal that the Copper Age took place earlier than first believed. The location of the find is situated close to the Serbian town of Prokuplje, which could lead to a shifting of the time period involving the Stone Age and Copper Age.

In the beginning, it was first thought that only stone played a role during the Stone Age and that the Copper Age emerged a little later in time. However, this find confirms that metal was used about 500 to 800 years earlier than previously thought. During the Copper Age, humans first began to use metal. It is believed to have begun around the 4th millennium BC in southeastern Europe and possibly earlier in the Middle East.

The Plocnik site also produced a furnace and melting pots with traces of copper, which gives the impression that the site may have served as a significant center in the Balkans for metal production. Since 1927, the Plocnik site has been delivering insight into the past when the first excavations of the region took place the following year of its discovery. This is when the first Neolithic objects were uncovered, belonging to the Vinca culture, known as the largest prehistoric civilization in Europe. The Vinca culture prospered between the 6th to 3rd millennium BC in a region that consisted of present-day Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia.