Posted: 30 Mar 2018 09:46 PM PDT
On March 30th, a new gallery dedicated solely to wooden artifacts unearthed from the Roman fort of Vindolanda in Northumberland opened at the site’s museum. Vindolanda’s oxygen-free soil is an exceptional preserver of organic materials, most famously the wood tablets recording the letters of soldiers, officers and civilians, but also leather objects (so many shoes), assorted textiles and plants.
Exactly 1,463 wooden artifacts have been unearthed at Vindolanda, some of them unique in the world. My personal favorite is the toilet seat, the only ancient Roman wooden toilet seat known to have survived, but there are plenty more treasures among the haul, including the only known surviving wooden potter’s wheel, a wagon wheel, bath clogs and the remains of doors with numerals carved into them.
There are an array of combs, boxes, tools, furniture and water pipes which are also very rare survivals. Most of the Roman pipes archaeologists find still intact are lead or tile. The smooth barrel stave from Spain engraved with the maker’s name discovered in 2016 is in the new gallery too, as is a toy sword.
As more wooden objects are unearthed, more will be added to the gallery.
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