Volunteers working at Arbeia, a Roman fort in South Shields, England, have discovered a beautiful and amazingly crafted bronze figure of Ceres, the Roman goddess of grain, agriculture and fertility.
Ceres was an appropriate goddess for Arbeia, as it was the supply base for grain, thousands of tons of it, which were stored in the granaries there and used to feed the army that was stationed at Hadrian's Wall.
Thought to have once been attached to a larger furniture piece, this is the second goddess in two years the Wallquest project has unearthed at Arbeia.
In 2014, another volunteer discovered the head of a protective goddess, a tutela, carved out of stone (shown at left).
The site of the only permanent stone granaries left in Britain, the fort, constructed sometime around 120 AD, was occupied until the 5th Century AD when the Romans left Britain.
One possible interpretation of Arbeia is "fort of the Arab troops," which refers to a time when Mesopotamian boatmen were garrisoned there.
Similarly, the First Asturian, a squadron from the Spanish cavalry, was also stationed there.
It was not uncommon for Roman forts to be manned by troops from somewhere else within the empire, where they often assimilated and recruited locally.
Ceres, the goddess of the harvest, was credited with teaching mankind how to grow, and then preserve and prepare corn and grain. She was also believed to be responsible for the fertility of the land.
The only god involved in the day-to-day lives of common people, she is typically portrayed holding a scepter or a farming tool with one hand, and a basket of fruit, grain or flowers with the other.
Hadrian's Wall, also known as the Roman Wall, was a defensive fortification in the Roman province of Britannia during the rule of Hadrian, Roman emperor between 117 CE and 138 AD.
Built along the River Tyne, it was constructed to mark the northern limit of the Roman Empire. The total length of the wall was 80 Roman miles or 73 modern miles (117.5 km).