Archaeologists on site

Noviodunum

16 September 2008

Senior Archaeologist Gemma Stevenson of the Museum of London Archaeology Service (MoLAS) spent six weeks working in Romania at Noviodunum this summer. This is the fourth year of a major AHRB sponsored project of which MoLAS is a partner organisation.

The site of Noviodunum is situated on a small hill on the southern edge of the Danube in the Dobrogea region of Romania. The Danube now forms the border with the Ukraine in this region, but in the past it has formed the border between the Roman and Byzantine Empires and barbaricum, and between Ottoman-dominated Dobrogea and Russian-dominated Bessarabia.

Each period has left its mark on the site, with Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and 20th-century defences overlying each other at this key spot, the last easy crossing of the Danube before the channels and marshes of the Danube delta. During the Roman period, not only were various Roman army units based at the site, e.g. the Legio I Iovia Scythica, but it was also the base of the Roman lower Danube fleet, the Classis Flavia Moesica, later known as the Classis Ripae Scythicae.


Excavating the late Roman burnt timber walls in trench one

The work on site consisted of supervising students and managing aspects of the excavation of four trenches. Two trenches were placed to research the urban and military settlement on the hillside. This year, a series of five buildings with good occupation sequences dating to the late Roman period were excavated in these trenches, along with portions of the major defensive walls around the fort.

Another trench was located further down the valley and was focused on the subsidiary ‘civil’ settlement. Here, a large linear feature, possibly a clay quarry, was excavated along with tile debris from nearby kilns. The final trench was located in the hinterland of the main site and provided a rural comparison with the fort in the area.

The fortress was paired with that at Aliobrix across the river, near the modern settlement of Orlovka in the Ukraine. The site is now a national archaeological reserve, and the subject of several projects.

The Noviodunum Archaeological Project (NAP) is directed by Kris Lockyear, alongside Adrian Popescu (now of the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, formerly of the Institutul de Archeologie "Vasile Pârvan", Bucuresti) and Timothy Sly of the Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton, and in close collaboration with Victor Henrich Baumann of the Institutul de Cercertari Eco-Muzeale Tulcea.