What Survives in the Ground?
Not everything survives in the ground when it is no longer used. Items that have been made out of plants, like woven bowls and carrying baskets, do not survive unless the ground is very wet, for example – in a bog.
More robust materials like stones, rock, and sometimes bone do survive as they are made of much harder material. However, bone cannot survive in soil that is very acidic, as this eats away at the tissue – this is what happened with the Sutton Hoo burial. No body was found, only a stain where it had once been due to the acidic soil.
Buildings foundations survive under the ground, that is if they have not been robbed out (the stone taken away to be used in other buildings). When this happens all that is left is called a ‘robber trench‘ – it shows a stain in the ground where the stone once existed. Wooden buildings do not survive and all that is usually seen are post holes or beam slot stains from where the wood was once placed for the building.
Very dry and very wet places preserve finds better. The Dead Sea Scrolls have survived about 2,000 years. This was possible as they were stored in a cave in a very dry and sandy place.
The Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone is a large stone that was carved in 196 BC. It has two languages inscribed upon its surface – Greek and Egyptian. The stone measures 4 feet high, is 1 foot thick and 2 feet wide and weighs 760 kg. Originally it was larger, but the rest has been lost. The Stone was found in the village of Rashid (Rosetta) about 30 miles from Alexandria, in Egypt in August 1799 but little is known about the person who found it.
The stone was taken to Cairo where Napoleon, (the French Emperor from 1804 – 1814) requested the Greek text be translated. In 1801 the British arrived in the area and took the Stone back to England where it was translated.
Through translation it was understood to have once stood in a temple in Egypt and commemorated the victories of King Ptolemy V Epiphanes (Randal 1997: 56).
For a full translation of the Rosetta Stone click here.
Archaeological Site – Scoda (Shkodër)
Shkodër is a city in Albania and was founded in the 4th century BC. Originally called Scoda during the 3rd century BC it was the first capital of the Illyrian Tribe – Indo-European tribesmen. The Illyrians are associated with the Hallstatt Culture, ‘an Iron Age people noted for production of iron and bronze swords with winged-shaped handles and for domestication of horses’ (Library of Congress 2014).
Rozafa Castle is the best known Scoda fortification. It was chosen as a strategic place by the Illyrians and in 167 BC was captured by the invading Roman army. The site was used during the Medieval period when it was under siege several times – the best known was the siege by the Ottoman Empire in 1478 (Evans 2007: 83).
Evans. A. 2007. Ancient Illyria: An Archaeological Exploration. London: Tauris.
Library of Congress Article on the Ancient Illyrians. 2014. Albania. Available at ttp://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_albaniaancient.htm
Price. R. 1997. The Stones Cry Out. Harvest House Publishing.
Wallis. E. A. 2012. The Rosetta Stone. Courier Dover Publications.
Great Books to Read…….
Great Web Pages to Look At…….