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Roman Carved Wooden Figure

18 January 2022

In the Bucks Free Press of January 14th 2022, and the Bucks Herald [see for example www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/news/national/19843461.rare-roman-wooden-figure… ] we learn that a remarkably well preserved piece of wood carved into the shape of a human like figure, or a humanised god, has been found in a waterlogged ditch in Twyford, on the route of HS2 [high speed train route 2]. The ditch dates back to the Roman era. The discovery was made at the Bridge Mill in Twyford, in the Vale of Aylesbury. The geology of the vale is clay -a very thick deposit of what is known as the Oxford Clay Formation. Being waterlogged, then or now, is not unusual. Water moves horizontally when it encounters clay – or forms puddles and ponds, and waterlogged ditches. It is the water that is thought to have led to the preservation of the wooden figure as in normal conditions wood breaks down quite quickly.

It was formed from a single piece of wood, 67 cm in height and 18 cm wide. It appears to be depicted wearing a tunic but even smaller details are preserved, including the hair. It was also endowed with a hat. Sherds of pottery in the ditch date back to 43-70AD, very early in the Romanisation of Britain, suggesting it was a native carving from the Iron Age. The legs and shape of the calf muscles are also defined.

The story is also at www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-10395239/ … with lots of pictures of the figure.

See also www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-59943179/ www where HS2 archaeologists have discovered a settlement from the Roman era – in southern Northamptonshire, one county up from Buckinghamshire. The site was known as Backgrounds because of its black soil. This, it seems, was due to the settlement beneath it. It began life as an Iron Age village  of 30 roundhouses [dated to roughly 400BC] that wnet on to develop into a trading centre before and during the Roman period. A 33 feet wide Roman road was uncovered – as well as workshops, kins, wells, and metalwork centres, or smithies as they were later known. Coins, glass vessels, decorative pottery, jewelry, and other objects were also found. The history of the site's discovery can be located to view on BBC iplayer 'Digging for Britain' on BBC Two [last weeks].

Over at https://phys.org/news/2022-01-archaeologists-ancient-highways-arabia.html … Australian and Arab archaeologists have discovered evidence of people living in NW Arabia during the EB and MB periods. They built, it is said, funerary avenues – long distance corridors linking oases and pasture zones to one another, bordered by thousands of elaborate burial monuments. They seem to go back at least 4500 years ago, and continued into the second millennium BC.

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