It seems that for about as long as there have been opportunities to do so, mischief makers have been attempting to immortalize their appendages or names in the drying material of someone else’s workspace for others to see. This well documented phenomenon is just as evident with the recent discovery of puppy paw prints on Roman tiles in England, proving that the troublesome mischief makers are not always bipedal. The small paw prints of a young, snoopy dog were discovered hardened into a rusty colored clay tile from an ancient archeological site with Roman roots. In what was likely a very upsetting act to whomever tirelessly toiled over making the tile, the puppy had carelessly stomped on the tile just before it dried in order to leave an impression of its paw that has lasted for over a millennia.
The find was made in the Blackfriars area of Leicester, England. Leicester is also famous for the 2012 discovery of the long sought for bones of King Richard III under a parking lot. Nick Daffern, a senior project manager with Wardell Armstrong Archaeology refers to it as “a snapshot [of] a single moment in history.” Leicester was once home to a group of people known as the Corieltauvi tribe, a faction of people living in England prior to the Roman conquest of 43 AD. The Corieltauvi were an Iron Age people who lived a largely agricultural lifestyle. They produced coins during the first century, before the usurping Roman armies violently conquered England. Several fragments of what are possibly coin molds that are likely of Corieltauvi origin were also found with the tiles. Also among the recovered items were a set of Roman tweezers, brooches, coins, and painted wall plaster. Additionally, they uncovered evidence of a large Roman style structure, possibly a basilica which had been ransacked for building materials during the medieval era.
The archeological dig conducted by Wardell Armstrong Archaeology is funded by the construction company, Watkin Jones. Wardell Armstrong Archaeology is currently working on the site, a locale that had previously been selected as the future location of student housing. The archeologists present updates on their blog, Blackfriars. They are routinely uploading insider images to the blog of their efforts to recover a historically significant, ancient structure.
Some of the tiles that were not damaged by the playful pup are imprinted with the hoof of another creature, such as a sheep or goat, with just as little respect for the act of tile making as the puppy.
The ancient, red tinged tiles could be approximately 2,000 years old, but their origin is unknown. The artifacts were discovered amidst layers of rubble. The initial purpose of the tiles is unclear, but the sight of them invokes the image of a jovial puppy romping through an ancient clay filled workshop, much to the animated dismay of its disgruntled proprietor. In time, as the Wardell Armstrong Archaeology team continues its work on the East Midlands dig site, we may learn more specific details about the lives of the people who lived there long ago.
By Faye Barton