London Dig Uncovers Roman-era Skulls

An archaeologist digs out a possibly Roman skull from the site of the graveyard of the Bethlehem, or Bedlam, hospital next to Liverpool Street Station in the City of London. The dig is on the site of the future ticket hall for the Crossrail station at Liverpool Street.

Along with the Roman skulls, you have the 3,000 graves from the old Bedlam cemetery found nearby. What will you hope to learn from them? While much work has been carried out on burial populations from the medieval period and the 19th century, much less is known about health in the 16th to 18th centuries, the period of the post-medieval burials at Liverpool Street. It will help us to understand when and how what we characterize as a medieval community changed following the dissolution, during a period of expansion and great change in London. What has it been like as an archaeologist to get a peek beneath the streets of one of the world’s great old cities? It has been a great privilege being part of the Crossrail project, as it has given us unprecedented access to the capital’s past. We are unlikely to have ever got access to excavate sites like the busy roadway at Liverpool Street, outside one of London’s mainline railway terminuses. In London, history is everywhere you look, and Liverpool Street has certainly not disappointed. How has it changed your perception of London? It makes you realize the great impact that people in the past had on their environment, and that we are just one small part of a very long story. As well as contributing to these big questions, these excavations give us a series of snapshots of the life of Londoners over 2,000 years: a carter in Roman Britain, struggling to get his horse up the road to a bridge over the Walbrook, and losing his horse’s shoes in the deep, muddy wheel-ruts; medieval ice-skaters shooting across the frozen Moorfields Marsh; someone in the 16th century with a small gold Venetian coin used as a pendant, aping the much more expensive jewelry of their betters; a family burying their young girl in the Bedlam burial ground, wearing her beaded necklace despite Christian customs; or the local craftsmen, sneaking into the same graveyard to dump the waste pieces and failed items of bone, shell, and even elephant tooth from their nearby workshops. Subway tunnelers have uncovered archaeological artifacts everywhere from Athens to Istanbul to Mexico City. We also asked Jay Carver, lead archaeologist for the Crossrail project, to discuss such finds in London. What other significant Roman-era finds have been unearthed by the Crossrails project? One of the things we are always testing is assumptions about the activities in the Roman period in areas outside the core area of the Roman city.

London steals title of best city in the world from Paris

Or its reputation for rudeness. But the City of Light, one of the most visited cities in the world, has been knocked off its perch as best city in the world by London and Sydney in a new index released this week. According to the latest edition of the Anholt-GfK City Brands Index which measures a citys brand image, power and appeal, Londons stock has gone up in the world as it took the top spot in the biennial ranking. Possible reasons could include the fact that the city continues to bask in the afterglow of a successful Summer Olympic Games and has maintained a presence in the international spotlight with a string of historic milestones that include the Queens Coronation ceremony and the highly anticipated birth of a new royal with the arrival of Prince George. London also took the top spot as the city where individual cultures are appreciated and where foreigners can “easily fit in.” The Aussie capital of Sydney, meanwhile, enjoys a stellar reputation around the world for being the safest and friendliest city. The City Brands index measures the value of a citys international reputation across six dimensions: its international status and standing; esthetic; a category called pre-requisites such as affordable accommodations and the standard of public amenities; people; pulse (interesting things to do) and its economic and educational potential. More than 5,140 interviews were conducted in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Russia, South Korea, the US and the UK for the index. And while Paris was able to take the top spot in the category of Pulse, where the city failed to crack the top 10 ranking was in categories such as Friendly People and Safety. This summer, in a bid to shed their longstanding image of being rude and surly, the citys chamber of commerce published an etiquette manual for Parisian restaurateurs, taxi drivers and sales staff on how to welcome international tourists. …despite its indisputable charm, the capital has work to do when it comes to welcoming visitors, the chamber admits. And earlier this year, high-profile muggings of Chinese tourists robbed of their passports, plane tickets and cash shortly after landing in Paris tarnished the citys image, as did footage broadcast worldwide of soccer-related riots which broke out not far from the Eiffel Tower. Meanwhile, other notable movements on the index include Tokyo, which suffered a 7-spot drop from tenth place in 2011 to 17th place in 2013. Amsterdam, meanwhile, shot up the ranks from 17th spot to 11th position this year. And while Rio de Janeiro was ranked the third friendliest city on the list, the city fell to the bottom of the heap when it comes to safety (47 out of 50) — a particular concern given it’s set to host the World Cup and the Summer Olympics, the report points out. Here are the top 10 best cities for 2013: 1.

London’s Heathrow to face cap on charges by UK regulator

London’s Heathrow airport had submitted a plan to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) seeking to raise tariffs for airlines by 4.6 percent above inflation, as measured by the retail prices index (RPI), for the five years from April 2014. Instead the regulator proposed not allowing prices to rise by more than inflation. “Tackling the upward drift in Heathrow’s prices is essential to safeguard its globally competitive position,” CAA Chairman Deirdre Hutton said in a statement as the agency published its final proposals for consultation. Heathrow, whose owners include Spain’s Ferrovial and the sovereign wealth funds of Qatar, China and Singapore, slammed the CAA’s proposals, arguing that a price cap would limit its returns and make investment unattractive. “The CAA’s proposals risk not only Heathrow’s competitive position but the attractiveness of the UK as a centre for international investment,” the group said in a statement. Carriers using Heathrow, including British Airways parent IAG have in the past criticised the airport for its high fees. Heathrow warned, however, that the cap on its charges would create a less attractive environment for investment in Britain’s aviation facilities and mean less funding would be available for a new runway. London is facing an airport capacity crunch and needs to build a new runway to add flights to fast-growing economies and ensure it does not miss out on billions of pounds of trade. Under the CAA’s new proposals, Heathrow’s rate of return on capital investment would decline to 5.6 percent in the post-2014 period, from a level of 6.2 percent between 2008 and 2014, the company said. The CAA said it was satisfied with a plan by London’s second airport Gatwick, which has proposed to raise average prices by 0.5 percent above RPI for seven years. Gatwick Airport Ltd said in a statement that it cautiously welcomed the CAA’s proposals. The CAA said in September it would defer making a judgement on how to regulate London’s third airport, Stansted.