Archaeologists are aware that drains provide a perfect trap for lost possessions. For Roman soldiers, the fortress baths were a retreat to get clean after a hard day, as well as being a good place for social gathering and game playing. During excavations of Caerleon fortress in the 1970s, archaeologists discovered a large covered channel underneath the floor of the bathhouse, which drained the various bathing pools. This drain contained an astonishing collection of eighty-eight remarkably engraved, semi-precious gemstones. The gems had all been lost sometime between AD 75 and 230. The Romans called these gemstones Intaglios, which means engraving or carving. This find ranks among the largest collection of gemstones to be found anywhere in the Roman Empire. Later, in the excavations of 1979, many tons of rubbish were washed through a fine sieve, revealing a magnificent range of finds from food-debris and glass to pottery, coins and other objects that had been lost or discarded by the Roman bathers. In the process of searching through the debris, more of these fascinating gemstones appeared. Today, the collection is in excess of 110 individual gems, many of which are now on display at the National Roman Legion Museum. This books looks at the story behind the gemstones and examines the detailed engravings and their meanings.
Publisher: Llyfrau Amgueddfa Cymru/ National Museum Wales Books
Number of pages: 48
Dimensions: 150 x 120 mm
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