Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Oldest Danish town possibly older


If you thought Ribe was the oldest town in Denmark, you're still right, but now a new study from Aarhus University shows the town may be almost 100 years older than originally thought.
Archaeologists previously believed that Ribe was established in the late 700s, but new research points to its establishment being in the earlier part of the same century, reports Videnskab.
Ribe, in southwest Jutland, is not only Denmark's oldest town, but is Scandinavia's oldest town as well.
”Ribe is the place urbanisation started in Scandinavia,” Sarah Croix, the study's author, told Videnskab. ”If Ribe began as a city in the early 700s, then it was long before the Vikings and thus casts new light on our understanding of this period.”
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4,000 year old skeleton was likely a 'warrior chief'


A Bronze Age skeleton found buried in West Sussex with one of the earliest bronze daggers in the UK was probably a high-ranking warrior chief who died in combat, experts have said. 


James Kenny, site excavator and planning archaeologist at Chichester District Council,  views the skeleton known as Racton Man at the Novium Museum in Chichester, West Sussex  [Credit: Chichester District Council] 

The virtually-complete skeleton dating back more than 4,000 years was found on farmland in the hamlet of Racton, near Chichester, in 1989. 

Its background has long been a source of intrigue to historians as the skeleton - nicknamed Racton Man - was found with an extremely rare and valuable dagger. 

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Une nécropole antique dans le quartier périphérique occidental de la ville de Saintes : plusieurs individus entravés, dont un enfant


De septembre à novembre 2014, une équipe d’archéologues de l’Inrap a mené, sur prescription de l’État (Drac Poitou-Charentes), une fouille préventive sur un terrain de 613 m2, dans le cadre de la construction d’une maison individuelle dans le quartier ouest de Saintes. Une première campagne de fouille réalisée en 2013 sur une parcelle contigüe avait mis en évidence la vocation funéraire de cet espace au cours de l’Antiquité. L’opération de cette année a permis la découverte d’une centaine de sépultures. 

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Think again about the pillaging Viking warriors - it wasn't just the men who raided Britain


Viking colonisations of Europe may have been more like romantic getaways than drunken stag weekends, according to a study of Norse DNA showing the importance of women in the Scandinavian subjugation of the British Isles during the Middle Ages.

Scientists have found that Viking men took significant numbers of women with them in their longboats when they sailed to places such as the Scottish mainland, Shetland, Orkney and Iceland – contradicting the stereotype of male-only raiding parties with an unhealthy appetite for rape and pillage.

Researchers who analysed the genetic material – maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA extracted from 80 Viking skeletons unearthed in Norway – found that Norse women played a central role in the Viking settlements established in Britain and other parts of the North Atlantic.

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Is the future for archaeological site information boards?



I have just watched the TED video by Matt Mills which demonstrates the amazing Aurasma Virtual Reality software.

The free, simple to use software allows a video to be displayed over a ‘target’ image.  For example, a photograph on an information board can be used to trigger a video overlay, allowing detailed, animated information to be bundled with a standard notice board.

You can find out more information, and download the software, at:




Monday, December 08, 2014

Giant Ancient Roman Water Basin Uncovered


Italian archaeologists have unearthed the largest Roman water basin ever found, right in the heart of modern Rome.

Found some 65 feet down near St. John in Lateran Basilica during the excavation of the new metro C line, the huge irrigation basin measures 115 feet by 230 feet.

“It’s so big that it goes beyond the perimeter of the metro work site. It has not been possible to uncover it completely,” Rossella Rea, the dig’s director, said at a news conference in Rome.

Photos: Ancient Water Basin Found in Rome

Rea, who led an all-woman team of archaeologists, noted the basin was lined with hydraulic plaster and most likely extends, still preserved, beyond the work site toward the ancient city walls.

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Beer, Beef and Politics: Findings at Viking Archaeological Site Show Power Trumping Practicality


Vikings are stereotyped as raiders and traders, but those who settled in Iceland centuries ago spent more time producing and consuming booze and beef — in part to achieve political ambitions in an environment very different from their Scandinavian homeland, says a Baylor University archaeologist.

The seafaring warriors wanted to sustain the “big man” society of Scandinavia — a political economy in which chieftains hosted huge feasts of beer and beef served in great halls, says Davide Zori, Ph.D., a Denmark native and archeological field director in Iceland, who conducted National Science Foundation-funded research in archeology and medieval Viking literature.

But instead, what Zori and his team discovered is what happened when the Vikings spent too long living too high on the hog — or, in this case, the bovine.

"It was somewhat like the barbecue here. You wanted a big steak on the grill,” said Zori, assistant professor in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, who co-edited the book Viking Archaeology in Iceland: Mosfell Archaelogical Project with Jesse Byock, Ph.D., professor of Old Norse and medieval Scandinavian studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Major Viking Hall Identified in Sweden


A Viking feasting hall measuring almost 50 metres in length has been identified near Vadstena in Sweden. Archaeologists from Stockholm University and Umeå University used ground-penetrating radar, a non-invasive geophysical method, to locate and map the house foundation. The study was published today in the journal Archaeological Prospection.

The Aska barrow, where the hall has been found, was long seen as a burial mound. But archaeologists have now revealed that it is a foundation platform for a large building, most likely dating from the Viking Period. The hall was probably the home of a royal family whose rich graves have previously been excavated nearby.
“Parallels are known from several of the era's elite sites, such as Fornsigtuna near Stockholm and Lejre near Roskilde. The closest similarities are however seen in a recently excavated feasting hall at Old Uppsala near Stockholm. Such close correspondences suggest intensive communication between the two sites”, says Martin Rundkvist of Umeå University
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Solid gold torc hidden in Celtic coin hoard


A Celtic coin hoard discovered on Jersey has been astounding archaeologists with a series of gold treasure finds. 


The Golden torc is bigger than any other ever found on Jersey  [Credit: © Jersey Heritage] 

For the past two weeks, Jersey Heritage's conservation team have been excavating an area known to contain gold jewellery. Late last week, one end of a solid gold torc was uncovered. 

The find comes after the discovery of two other solid gold torcs - one gold-plated and one of an unknown alloy - along with a silver brooch and a crushed sheet gold tube. But the latest artefact is considerably larger than anything previously unearthed on the island.

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Une nécropole antique dans le quartier périphérique occidental de la ville de Saintes : plusieurs individus entravés, dont un enfant


De septembre à novembre 2014, une équipe d’archéologues de l’Inrap a mené, sur prescription de l’État (Drac Poitou-Charentes), une fouille préventive sur un terrain de 613 m2, dans le cadre de la construction d’une maison individuelle dans le quartier ouest de Saintes. Une première campagne de fouille réalisée en 2013 sur une parcelle contigüe avait mis en évidence la vocation funéraire de cet espace au cours de l’Antiquité. L’opération de cette année a permis la découverte d’une centaine de sépultures. 

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Headboard from bed of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves on its way to London

Burrell Collection is sending Henry VIII's bedhead from the wedding night with Anne of Cleves to London over Christmas for a pop-up exhibition at Bonhams. Photograph: Guardian
It was a bed made both for lusty sex and for begetting chubby babies like the carved cherubs flying over the heads of the couple depicted on the headboard – a man with bulging codpiece and a woman with meek, downcast eyes holding the phallic symbols of a sword and a serpent.
But if the symbolism was intended to encourage the young Anne of Cleves and the middle-aged Henry VIII to get on with the task in hand on their wedding night in January 1540, it failed miserably.
Anne later said they had played cards in the bed, and told a lady-in-waiting that her husband was a perfect gentleman, giving her a greeting and a chaste kiss each night and before he left her in the morning. The appalled woman told the queen he’d have to do a lot more if they were to conceive the male heir that was the purpose of the marriage.
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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Gardener unearths Anglo-Saxon carving in job lot of rockery stone


Looking for some natural stone for a rockery in his garden, John Wyatt thought he had found a bargain when he saw a job lot advertised for £50.
He was more right than he knew. For when he took the ton and a half of rock home he discovered that it contained an ancient stone carving worth thousands of pounds.
Mr Wyatt, 32, was cleaning mud and moss off the pieces when he spotted one with a Celtic cross carved on one side and a mythical birdlike beast on the other.
He had the 21 by 15in piece examined by an expert, who told him it dated from Anglo-Saxon times.
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Richard III's DNA throws up infidelity surprise


Analysis of DNA from Richard III has thrown up a surprise: evidence of infidelity in his family tree.
Scientists who studied genetic material from remains found in a Leicester car park say the finding might have profound historical implications.
Depending on where in the family tree it occurred, it could cast doubt on the Tudor claim to the English throne or, indeed, on Richard's.
The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.
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When the body of Richard III was discovered in a car park in Leicester in 2012 archaeologists knew it was a momentous find.
But little did they realise that it might expose the skeletons in the cupboard of the British aristocracy, and even call into question the bloodline of the Royal family.
In order to prove that the skeleton really was Richard III, scientists needed to take a DNA sample and match it to his descendants.
Genetic testing through his maternal DNA proved conclusively that the body was the King. However, when they checked the male line they discovered something odd. The DNA did not match showing that at some point in history an adulterous affair had broken the paternal chain.
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Questions raised over Queen’s ancestry after DNA test on Richard III’s cousins


Kevin Schurer and Turi King of the University of Leicester explain that a DNA analysis and other evidence confirms with almost 100% certainty that the bones are those of King Richard III. Video: University of Leicester
The bones of the king under the car park have delivered further shocks, 527 years after his death and more than two years after his remains were discovered in Leicester: Richard III was a blue-eyed blond, and the present Queen may not be descended from John of Gaunt and Edward III, the lineage on which the Tudor claim to the throne originated.
Five anonymous living donors, all members of the extended family of the present Duke of Beaufort, who claim descent from both the Plantagenets and Tudors through the children of John of Gaunt, gave DNA samples which should have matched Y chromosomes extracted from Richard’s bones. But none did.
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Old Sarum archaeologists reveal plan of medieval city


The inner and outer baileys of the Old Sarum Iron Age fort were surveyed

The latest scanning techniques were used to uncover a network of buildings at the 11th Century Old Sarum near Salisbury in Wiltshire.

The results include a series of large structures, possibly defences, with open areas of ground behind possibly for mustering resources or people.

Old Sarum was the original site of Salisbury, which is two miles away.

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Monday, December 01, 2014

EMAS Easter Study Tour to North Scotland and the Isle of Skye


EMAS Easter Study Tour to North Scotland 
and the Isle of Skye
2 - 8 April 2015

The 2015 EMAS Easter Study Tour is to the North of Scotland, including one day on the Isle of Skye.

We will travel from London Embankment by coach, staying overnight at Carlisle on the 2nd and 7th April.

We shall be based at a hotel in Inverness, which is a very good central point from which to explore the region.

The itinerary includes a wide range of prehistoric and medieval sites, including some of the famous Pictish symbol stones.



Saxon skeleton among discoveries in Aylesham

A Saxon skeleton, Bronze Age urns and Roman domestic objects were unearthed during a dramatic excavation in Aylesham this week. 

The Saxon skeleton was unearthed in Aylesham  [Credit: Canterbury Times] 

The discoveries, some of which are likely to date back more than 2,000 years, were made by archaeologists at the building site of the Aylesham expansion. 

A well-preserved skeleton thought to be from the Saxon era - therefore up to 1,500 years old - was lifted from an ancient burial ground by experts. 

Also found were middle Bronze Age cremation urns and Roman ditches full of domestic items.

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Limestone 'Venus' 23,000 years old dug up in France

A person points to a 23,000 year-old chalk statue of a woman called the "Venus of Renancourt" which was found at the paleolithic site of Renancourt, France, November 27, 2014

A limestone statuette of a shapely woman some 23,000 years old has been discovered in northern France in what archaeologists Thursday described as an "exceptional" find.
Archaeologists stumbled on the Paleolithic-era sculpture during a dig in the summer in Amiens, the first such find in half a century.
"The discovery of this masterpiece is exceptional and internationally significant," said Nicole Phoyu-Yedid, the head of cultural affairs in the area, on showing the find to the media.
"We were expecting to find classical vestiges such as tooled flint or bones," said archaeologist Clement Paris.
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Secrets of a Celtic princess


The burial chamber of the "Celtic Princess of the Danube" unearthed in 2010 remains one of the most important archeological finds of the past decades in Germany. A new exhibition in Stuttgart allows the public to contemplate the riches found in the 2,600-year old grave. Even in plain view, the princess holds on to many secrets which keep puzzling archeologists.

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Iron Age settlement found at UK mining site


Archaeologists working for a mining company have uncovered an Iron Age settlement near Newcastle. 


Workmen at the dig [Credit: Banks Group] 

The five-hectare site at the Brenkley Lane Surface Mine has been excavated by Headland Archaeology on behalf of Banks Mining. 

The settlement, much of which is more than 2,000 years old, features the footprint of four roundhouses within an enclosure. 

Artefacts and a cemetery have also been unearthed at the site.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

People ate mammoth; Dogs got reindeer

Artist's depiction of cave painting of primitive hunt (stock image).
Credit: © Nomad_Soul / Fotolia

Biogeologists have shown how Gravettian people shared their food 30,000 years ago.

Předmostí I is an exceptional prehistoric site located near Brno in the Czech Republic. Around 30,000 years ago it was inhabited by people of the pan-European Gravettian culture, who used the bones of more than 1000 mammoths to build their settlement and to ivory sculptures. Did prehistoric people collect this precious raw material from carcasses -- easy to spot on the big cold steppe -- or were they the direct result of hunting for food? This year-round settlement also yielded a large number of canids remains, some of them with characteristics of Palaeolithic dogs. Were these animals used to help hunt mammoths?

To answer these two questions, Tübingen researcher Hervé Bocherens and his international team carried out an analysis of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in human and animal fossil bones from the site. Working with researchers from Brno and Brussels, the researchers were able to test whether the Gravettian people of Předmostí ate mammoth meat and how the "palaeolithic dogs" fit into this subsistence picture.

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Sword’s Secrets Revealed


The discovery of an Anglo-Saxon sword this summer was cause for great excitement at the Barrow Clumpexcavation. We were keen to learn as much as possible about this 6th-century weapon, although the degree of corrosion on the sword and the fact that it was contained within the remains of its wood and leather scabbard meant that we would need to use an x-ray machine to do so. 

Being 85 cm in length, the sword was too large for our in-house x-ray facilities here at Wessex Archaeology, so the Army, through Captain Doe and Sergeant Potts, kindly offered to undertake the work using equipment based at a Field Hospital Unit in Aldershot. Transportation of the sword was closely supervised by our Conservator, Lynn Wootten, and the Project Manager for Barrow Clump, Phil Andrews. 

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

HAS ONE OF HARALD BLUETOOTH’S FORTRESSES COME TO LIGHT?


In September 2014, archaeologists from the Danish Castle Centre and Aarhus University announced the discovery of a Viking fortress in a field belonging to Vallø Manor, located west of Køge on the east coast of Sealand. This was the first discovery of its kind in Denmark in over 60 years. Since then, archaeologists have been waiting impatiently for the results of the dating of the fortress. Now the first results are available, and they will be presented at a seminar at Aarhus University on 18 November.

“When the discovery was published back in September, we were certain that we had found a Viking ring fortress, but since then there have been intense discussions online and amongst archaeologists about whether we were right. Now we know without doubt that we have found a fortress from the 10th century,” says archaeologist Nanna Holm, curator of the Danish Castle Centre.

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X-rays reveal secrets of Anglo-Saxon sword


Archaeologists have used an army field hospital’s x-ray machine to examine a corroded steel sword, confirming the pattern of the weapon alongside a spearhead and shield core found at a burial site on Salisbury Plain. 


Archaeologists have enlisted the help of the army to x-ray a sword found in Salisbury  during the summer [Credit: © Wessex Archaeology] 

The 85 centimetre blade was found with the grave goods at Barrow Clump, a 40-metre cemetery where 27 bodies – including the remains of Anglo-Saxon warriors – were discovered in 2012. 

“The sword was too large for our in-house x-ray facilities,” reflects Laura Joyner, of Wessex Archaeology, who says the sword caused “great excitement” at the excavation.

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Recreating clothes from Norway's Iron Age


A few years ago, the oldest known piece of clothing ever discovered in Norway, a tunic dating from the Iron Age, was found on a glacier in Breheimen. Now about to be reconstructed using Iron Age textile techniques, it is hoped the tunic will inspire Norwegian fashion designers. 


One of our aims in reconstructing the tunic is to learn more about how the textile  was made, how time-consuming it was to make, and how the wool was used,  explains Marianne Vedeler [Credit: Yngve Vogt] 

Excitement 

There was huge excitement among archaeologists when, three years ago, the oldest piece of clothing ever discovered in Norway – a woollen tunic – was found by an archaeological expedition to the Lendbreen glacier in Breheimen National Park. As a result of climate change, the Lendbreen glacier, just like other glaciers throughout Norway, has in the past few years been retreating. The melting of the glaciers is constantly revealing ancient artifacts.

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Graves of 'vampires' discovered in Poland were cholera victims


Archaeologists have discovered the graves of cholera victims which were treated like vampires to stop them rising from the grave and infecting the locals

Excavations of graves suggested the deaths of six occupants were likely to have been viewed with fear and suspicion Photo: PLOS One
When archaeologists discovered graves in Poland where the dead had been buried with sickles across their throats and rocks under their chins, they assumed the unfortunate victims were suspected vampires.
But a new study suggests they actually died of cholera, and villages were afraid they would rise from the dead, bringing the deadly disease back with them form the underworld.
In post-medieval northwestern Poland little was understood about how diseases spread and it was thought the first to die in deadly outbreaks would return from the dead as vampires.
So they were subjected to funerary rites involving traditional practices intended to prevent evil.
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Woolly mammoth skeleton fetches £189,000 at auction


Monty the woolly mammoth skeleton is displayed at Summers Place Auctions in Billingshurst, West Sussex. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

A rare woolly mammoth skeleton has been sold for £189,000 at auction.
The skeleton, named Monty, is one of the most complete of the species and was bought by a private UK buyer at the sale by Summers Place Auctions in West Sussex.
It stands 3.5 metres tall and is 5.5 metres long (11ft tall by 18ft long), suggesting it may have been a male that weighed up to six tonnes. The skeleton, which is 30,000 to 50,000 years old, was estimated to command a price of between £150,000 and £250,000. It had been in a private eastern European collection for years and was only assembled, including tusks, for the first time when it came to the auction house.
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Stone age axe found with wood handle


Archaeologists in Denmark have uncovered an incredibly rare find: a stone age axe held within its wooden handle.
The 5,500-year-old Neolithic axe was found during archaeological surveys ahead of a multi-billion euro tunnel project.
The axe seems to have been jammed into what was once the seabed, perhaps as part of a ritual offering.
The lack of oxygen in the clay ground helped preserve the wooden handle.
The find was made in Rodbyhavn on the Danish island of Lolland, which is to be connected to the German island of Fehmarn via the tunnel link.
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