BU archaeologists and the mystery of the Roman statue

Archaeologists from BU gained international news coverage after a breakthrough in identifying a Roman statue that had remained a mystery since it was discovered in the 1800s.

Dr Miles Russell and Harry Manley, from the School of Applied Sciences, used the latest in 3D scanning technology to reveal that the mystery stone head – which was discovered in a flowerbed in Bosham, Chicester, in around 1800 – is from a statue of the Roman Emperor Trajan.

The story was featured on the Daily Mail website, the BBC news website, and the Huffington Post, as well as in the Portsmouth News and on various BBC local radio stations, BBC Five Live and regional radio station Wave 105.

It was also covered by specialist new organisations, including Archaeology magazine and Heritage Daily.

Miles, a senior lecturer in prehistoric and Roman archaeology at BU, said: β€œThe key thing is that this is certainly the largest Roman statue found so far in Britain and it’s a major piece of archaeology which has been ignored and overlooked for so long.”

The statue, which is made of Italian marble, would have been erected by Emperor Trajan’s successor Hadrian when he visited Britain in around AD 122.

Miles has been researching the head as part of his work on monumental sculpture and will give a talk on his findings at The Novium museum in Chichester.

His lecture – Finding Nero (and other Roman Emperors) – is on Thursday 24 October from 6.30-8pm. To book tickets or for further information contact The Novium, Tower Street, Chichester on email at thenovium@chichester.gov.uk or call 01243 775888.

Dr Andy Johnson talks chewing gum and concentration on The Today Programme

Psychology lecturer Dr Andy Johnson spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme about his research into chewing gum and concentration.

Andy was part of a team of researchers who found that chewing gum can help people focus better while doing tasks.

“In this study our participants undertook a very monotonous and repetitive constant vigilance task, where participants were presented with a sequence of digits and they were looking out for a particular signal,” he told presenter James Naughtie.

He added that participants who chewed gum had less of a decrease in performance throughout the task, and reported being significantly more alert.

He said: “So what we suggest is that chewing gum can facilitate vigilance during a monotonous task but that this is only found when performance has dropped to sub-optimal level, so when it starts to fall down that’s when gum has some scope for having a benefit.

“But if we are at our normal operating levels, we are sort of at ceiling effect, so there is nowhere for cognition to go. So only once our performance begins to drop does gum introduce a benefit in performance and vigilance.”

Dr Johnson, who worked on the study with researchers from Cardiff University, explained that chewing increases blood flow to the brain and that increases delivery of glucose and oxygenated blood to the parts of the brain that are doing the task.

He was also interviewed on BBC Radio Solent’s Breakfast Show, local station Wave 105 and BBC Radio Scotland about the research, which appears in the British Journal of Psychology.

You can listen to Dr Andy Johnson on the Today Programme here for the next seven days.