Magazine article Geographical

Liverpool's Lost Ancestor. (UK)

Magazine article Geographical

Liverpool's Lost Ancestor. (UK)

Article excerpt

Archaeologists are discovering Liverpool's earliest predecessor -- a major international seaport. 10 kilometres west of the city, midway between the Mersey and the Dee, the long-vanished port appears to have come into existence 2,500 years ago in the Iron Age -- and had direct or indirect trade contact with North Africa, southern Europe, and even the Middle East. Coins from the site have shown that Iron-Age merchants at the harbour were being paid in Carthaginian (North African), Armenian (Western Asian), continental Celtic (North West European) and Roman currencies.

In order to reconstruct the lost port's history, archaeologists from Liverpool Museum, Oxford University and the Museum of London have spent the past two years tracking down more than 3,000 archaeological finds discovered at the site in the 19th and 20th centuries. Stored in museums in Chester, Liverpool, Birkenhead, Warrington and London, the long-ignored artifacts are now revealing how the port, known as Meols, was a flourishing international commercial centre for two millennia.

When the Romans took over much of Britain at the end of the Iron Age, Meols seems to have become an important entrepot used for commercial, military, industrial and religious functions. Over 120 Roman coins and substantial numbers of broaches and earrings suggest a commercial role, while fragments of Roman armour, weaponry and other equipment prove a military presence. Roman bronze-working debris hint at the port's possible industrial role, and the discovery of tiny Bronze models of axes and hammers, which were used as votive offerings, suggests a religious aspect -- probably the existence of a shrine or temple. …

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