What is a River Terrace?; The Arthur Stone, Tintagel Castle, Cornwall; Edessa, Turkey.

What is a River Terrace?

River terraces are either raised sections of land next to a river, or areas where a river once existed but, over time, has dried up. They are formed by erosion when a river cuts through a flood plain. The terraces can range from only one, to many. River terraces can also be formed through tectonic plate movements, degradation and human activity.

A simple block diagram of a river and a sequence of terracing. ©Terranova274
A simple block diagram of a river and a sequence of terracing.
©Terranova274

The cutting of the river channels were affected by the differences in sea level changes. When the sea levels were low, the rivers ran faster which meant the channels were cut deeper; at times of high sea levels the rivers ran slower and therefore there was a build up in silt and other deposits, including archaeological ones.

Glacial boulder clay of the young moraine landscape on the northern side of the valley (River Terrace ) the Recknitz in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern  Public Domain
Glacial boulder clay of the young moraine landscape on the northern side of the valley (River Terrace ) the Recknitz in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Public Domain

Archaeologists use the information relating to the periods of high and low sea levels to assist with the dating of artefacts and remains – mainly through Relative Dating – however, this does have its limits and the dating of some findings are debatable.

River terraces in the upper valley of Afon Hen ©Eric Jones.
River terraces in the upper valley of Afon Hen
©Eric Jones.

River terraces are found throughout the world and are especially known in Africa where, due to climate change, there have been many wet and dry periods.

References

  • Hall. M. 1996. Archaeology Africa. Martlesham, Suffolk: James Currey Publishers.
  • Howard. A. J., Macklin. M. G., & Passmore. D. G. 2003. Alluvial Archaeology in Europe: Proceedings of an International Conference, Leeds, 18-19 December 2000. Oxon: CRC Press.
  • © Bob Forrest [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. River Terraces The branches of the tree point to the deeply incised valley of the R.Ayr. The flat grassy area just beyond the fence in the foreground and the similar grassy area on the opposite side of the valley are both part of the same former floodplain of the R. Ayr and are called river terraces. The glacial till which had been deposited in the valley during the glacial period, has been eroded by the outpouring of meltwater down the valley as the ice melted at the end of the glacial era. The R.Ayr to-day is a misfit stream flowing in a valley which could not have been created by the present river. Because the river terraces are virtual mirror images, they are referred to as ‘paired terraces’. The 2 farms located on the gently sloping land in the distance, are Burntshield and Merkland.
  • River terraces in the upper valley of Afon Hen – ©Eric Jones. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:River_terraces_in_the_upper_valley_of_Afon_Hen_-_geograph.org.uk_-_344162.jpg#/media/File:River_terraces_in_the_upper_valley_of_Afon_Hen_-_geograph.org.uk_-_344162.jpg.
  • A simple block diagram of a river and a sequence of terracing. ©Terranova274 – I created this image in Adobe Illustrator using a simple perspective line drawing.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_series_of_paired_river_terraces.jpg#/media/File:A_series_of_paired_river_terraces.jpg

 

Archaeology Wow!! –  The Arthur Stone, Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

The Arthur Stone is a relatively small piece of slate that was found during excavations at Tintagel Castle, Cornwall – a site linked with the legendary King Arthur.

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall ©S.T. Carter
Tintagel Castle, Cornwall
©S.T. Carter

Tintagel Castle is beleived to be have once been held by Outher Pendragon, Arthur’s father, according to legend. With myth, magic, legend and its imposing setting upon the craggy cliffs of the turbulent Cornish coast Tintagel has attracted a lot of attention through the years – including historians and archaeologists.

During the 1990’s excavations were carried out at part of the site and it was during this time that a small piece of slate was found. The context in which the slate was uncovered showed it had been used as a drain cover during the 12th century.

The lettering carved upon the slate immediately drew interest with Arthurian enthusiasts as they believed the lettering ARTOGNOV to be that of the famed King Arthur.

The Arthur Stone © www.britannia.com
The Arthur Stone
© www.britannia.com

The slate measures 297 mm x 192 mm across and diagonally 348 mm x 228 mm, and the material is local to Tintagel, so it was quarried and made within the area.

The slate was examined by the University of Glasgow through microscopic analysis and it was found that there were many natural lines and scratches upon its surface and natural wear, as well as the inscribed lettering.

The Roman lettering IIAVG or HAVG is beleived by experts to relate to the word Augustus or Augusti – the Imperial title and date from the 3rd – 4th centuries. The Romans are believed to have been in Cornwall around that time and it is concluded that the inscription possibly relates to Legio II AUGUSTA, with the piece of slate having been a label for either a store, dwelling, or tax office.

The lettering PATERN (I) dates to the 5th century and is beleived to represent St Paternus, a 5th-6th century Saint with links to King Arthur.

ARTOGNOV is beleived to be the name Arthur and dates to c.550. This date is given through linguistic elements and beleived to represent a Celtic-British name. Arthur was a popular name for the time and as there is no regal prefix, it is thought to just be an inscription of the name but no definite representation for King Arthur.

Arthur Stone © www.geocities.ws
Arthur Stone
© www.geocities.ws

Tintagel Castle is known to have been a place of trade and exchange during the 5th – 6th centuries, distributing goods as far afield as Cadbury Castle in Somerset and to the kingdom of Wessex. Although a place of great importance in its time, the castle ruins that remain date from the 12th century. There is still no definite proof of it being associated with King Arthur – and isn’t Arthur a fictional character??

References

  • Barrowman. R. C., Batey. C. E., & Morris. C. D. 2007.  Excavations at Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, 1990-1999. London: The Society of Antiquaries of London.
  • Carter. S. T. 2013. In Search of Camelot – Tintagel Castle, Cornwall. Fortified England Newsletter, Vol. 7, No. 2 (March-April 2013), pp. 2-9.

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Archaeological Site Guide – Edessa, Turkey

Edessa is an ancient city, founded in 304 BC in Upper Mesopotamia, part of which is modern day Turkey. Edessa has been known by several names, including Adma, Orhay, Osroe, and Antiochia.

Location of Edessa, Turkey
Location of Edessa, Turkey

Edessa began its life as a small Bronze Age settlement. In 304 BC Seleucus I Nicator founded the site as a new Greek city. Its origins date much earlier than this as cuniforms from 7th century Assyria mention it.  It was ruled by kings and was the capital of the Abgar Dynasty.

During the 4th Century BC the city was walled, and therefore this suggests it was defended. It had a reputation of social and economic importance and was a center for trade and exchange.

Shops along the central avenue, Ancient Edessa ©Carole Raddato
Shops along the central avenue, Ancient Edessa
©Carole Raddato

The city came under Roman rule between 115-118 when it was occupied by Trajan, and a temple dedicated to the Roman God Zeus has been uncovered from this date. Edessa was once again occupied by the Romans between 216-224.

Reconstruction drawing of the central colonnaded street, Ancient Edessa ©Carole Raddato
Reconstruction drawing of the central colonnaded street, Ancient Edessa
©Carole Raddato

The residents of Edessa adopted the Christian faith and in 609 it was rebuilt by Emperor Justin and renamed Justinopolis.

Marble funerary relief built into the wall, Ancient Edessa ©Carole Raddato
Marble funerary relief built into the wall, Ancient Edessa
©Carole Raddato

In 1956 mosaics were uncovered in the city’s ruins and excavations have been ongoing since 1967. Large sections of the city walls remain which still stand to 5 m in height in some places. The paved main street, which stretched across the whole of the city, still survives and is faced by the remains of the old shops.

Arial photography of Ancient Edessa ©Carole Raddato
Arial photography of Ancient Edessa
©Carole Raddato

Edessa is an incredible sight and certainly going on my bucket list!!

References

  • Aitkin. E. B., & Fossey. J. M. 2013. The Levant: Crossroads of Late Antiquity. History, Religion and Archaeology. Leiden, The Netherlands: BRILL.
  • Ross. S. K. R. 1993. The Last King of Edessa: New Evidence from the Middle Euphrates. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, Bd. 97 (1993), pp. 187-206.
  • Segal. J. B. 1959. New Syriac Inscriptions from Edessa. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Vol. 22, No. 1/3 (1959), pp. 23-40.
  • Shops along the central avenue, Ancient Edessa. ©Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany – Shops along the central avenue, Ancient EdessaUploaded by Marcus Cyron. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shops_along_the_central_avenue,_Ancient_Edessa_(7120790821).jpg#/media/File:Shops_along_the_central_avenue,_Ancient_Edessa_(7120790821).jpg.
  • “Reconstruction drawing of the central colonnaded street, Ancient Edessa (7120768165)” by Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany – Reconstruction drawing of the central colonnaded street, Ancient EdessaUploaded by Marcus Cyron. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Reconstruction_drawing_of_the_central_colonnaded_street,_Ancient_Edessa_(7120768165).jpg#/media/File:Reconstruction_drawing_of_the_central_colonnaded_street,_Ancient_Edessa_(7120768165).jpg.
  • “Marble funerary relief built into the wall, Ancient Edessa (7120755803)” by Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany – Marble funerary relief built into the wall, Ancient EdessaUploaded by Marcus Cyron. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marble_funerary_relief_built_into_the_wall,_Ancient_Edessa_(7120755803).jpg#/media/File:Marble_funerary_relief_built_into_the_wall,_Ancient_Edessa_(7120755803).jpg.
  • “Arial photography of Ancient Edessa (7120769379)” by Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany – Arial photography of Ancient EdessaUploaded by Marcus Cyron. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arial_photography_of_Ancient_Edessa_(7120769379).jpg#/media/File:Arial_photography_of_Ancient_Edessa_(7120769379).jpg

 

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Great Books to Read…….

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Activity – Word Search 5 June 2015

WWI Camp, Australia ST Carter
WWI Camp, Australia
©ST Carter

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