Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Mass grave shows how Black Death devastated the countryside

The mass grave near Immingham contains the remains of at least 48 men, women and children. Photograph: University of Sheffield/PA

Mass grave shows how Black Death devastated the countryside
Grave in Lincolnshire dates to medieval pandemic of 1348 and reveals rural plague catastrophe

A mass grave containing the remains of dozens of victims of the Black Death offers chilling new evidence of the speed and scale of the devastation the plague brought to rural England, according to archaeologists.

The grave, discovered in a remote corner of rural Lincolnshire, has been dated to the 14th century, almost certainly to the earliest and deadliest medieval outbreak of the disease in 1348-9.

It contained the bodies of at least 48 men, women and children who were laid in a sandy pit within days of each other. DNA tests on the bodies found the plague pathogen, confirming how they died.

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2000-year-old Roman soldier's silver dagger is restored to its incredible pristine glory after teenage work experience archaeologist unearthed it in Germany

An elaborate silver Roman dagger has been painstakingly restored to its original glory after it was unearthed by a teenager on work experience in Germany

An elaborate silver Roman dagger has been painstakingly restored to its original glory after it was unearthed by a teenager on work experience in Germany.

Nico Calman, 19, found the fascinating weapon - believed to be the most remarkable artefact of its kind to have been discovered - at a burial ground in Haltern am See, near Münster. 

It is so well preserved that red enamel and glass, as well as silver and brass handles decorated with ornate patterns of foliage and leaves survived for 2,000 years.

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Lavish 'Princely tomb' belonging to mystery Iron Age man and brimming with weapons, a bronze helmet and a whole CHARIOT is discovered in Italy... but his body is missing


Inside the tomb archaeologists found the remains of a complete chariot, it's chassis can be seen on the outer edge of this block, as well as weapons and armour

A lavish 'Princely tomb' belonging to an Iron Age man was found in Italy full of treasures including a bronze helmet, weapons and a whole chariot.

The tomb of a pre-Roman prince has been saved from 'imminent' destruction after aerial photos revealed the ancient treasure trove before it could be built over.  

The body of the unidentified prince has not been found and no mound remains to mark his resting place - it may have been lost while the site was used for farming.

The hoard, found in Corinaldo, Italy, was on the site of a future sports complex and wasn't spotted until a survey of the land was carried out before building started. 

The value of the discovery and the site is now being assessed before any decision over whether to move the tomb or move the sports complex is made. 

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Hypogeum with sarcophagus from 6th cent. BC found in Roman Forum

Credit: Parcocolosseo

A hypogeum or underground temple and tomb structure with a tufa sarcophagus linked with what looks like an altar has been discovered in the Roman Forum, the Colosseum Archaeological Park director Alfonsina Russo said Monday.

The space is believed to be part of a votive area called a Heroon devoted to the founder of Rome, Romulus, she said.

The sarcophagus, made out of the same tufa rock that built the Capitol, is around 1.40 metres long and is believed to date back to the sixth century BC, she said.

The find was made next to the Curia-Comitium complex, a few metres away from the famed Lapis Niger, which Romans thought had brought bad luck because it was linked to the death of Romulus, Russo said.

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Human remains unearthed at site of early Roman military base in Kent

One of the skeletons found at Aylesham [Credit: SWAT via KentOnline]

Two skeletons dating back to the Bronze and Iron Age have been unearthed by archaeologists working on a building site.

The remains were discovered at the Aylesham Garden Village development near Canterbury and are now being examined by experts at the University of Kent to precisely date them and understand why they were buried there.

They are among the latest archaeological finds at the site, with smaller items of pottery and glass, dating from the Roman occupation of 2,000 years ago, also discovered.

The dig is being undertaken for developers Barratt Homes and Persimmon Homes by a team from the Faversham-based Swale and Thames Archaeology (SWAT).

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Roman snake ring found in Buckinghamshire declared treasure

The Roman ring would have been circular with the snakes' heads touching,
but it has been bent out of shape
COLCHESTER AND IPSWICH MUSEUM SERVICE

A Roman ring might have been made by the same jeweller behind a famous hoard and would have belonged to "someone with access to a fair amount of money".

The silver ring, featuring two snake heads, was found in Buckinghamshire by a detectorist from Essex.

Items with the same "distinctive cobra heads with a kind of frill" were part of the Snettisham Jeweller's Hoard, found in Norfolk in 1985.

Essex finds officer Sophie Flynn, said it was a "pretty exciting" discovery.

The Snettisham hoard, thought to be from the stock of a single jeweller, was buried in a pot in about AD155 and rediscovered during building work.

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Pictish 'power centre' uncovered near Dunkeld

Archaeologists at King's Seat Hillfort last year
PKHT

A hilltop fort near Dunkeld was an important Pictish power centre, say archaeologists who excavated the site.

Evidence of metal and textile production were revealed at King's Seat Hillfort, a legally protected site.

Finds such as glass beads and pottery suggested the Picts who occupied the site in the 7th to 9th centuries had trade links with continental Europe.

Other finds included pieces of Roman glass that were recycled and reused as gaming pieces.

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There are still a very few places available on the EMAS study tour to Orkney


EMAS Study Tour to Orkney
14 – 23 April 2020
Guide: David Beard MA, FSA, FSA Scot
The 2020 EMAS spring study tour will be to Orkney. We will travel by coach from Baker Street, London stopping overnight at Middlesbrough and Inverness and visiting archaeological sites on the way.
We will be based in Kirkwall, and will visit sites on Orkney Mainland and the islands of Egilsay, Rousay and Wyre. The sites that we will visit include Maes Howe, Skara Brae, Midhowe Broch, the Brough of Birsay, Cubbie Roo’s Castle, the Earl’s Palace at Birsay and Kirkwall Cathedral.
Further information...

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Ancient ‘curse tablets’ discovered down a 2,500-year-old well in Athens

Oval lead "coffin" with a spell against Pytheas & co., ordered by Pytheas' opponent in an Athenian law court
[Credit: Dr. Jutta Stroszeck/German Archaeological Institute]

Texts are written on the tablets invoking the gods of the Underworld to inflict harm on other people. “The person who ordered a curse is never mentioned by name; only the ‘recipient’”, explains Dr Jutta Stroszeck of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens, who heads the Kerameikos research.

The well was first discovered in 2016, during an archaeological excavation to investigate the water supply of baths near Dipylon. The excavation had also brought to light numerous objects, including cups, containers for mixing wine, earthen candles, pots, coins and a wooden box.

The most exciting discovery however were probably the 30 “cursed” tablets, all made of lead, which would have contaminated the water. So-called “black magic” was not accepted at that time in ancient Athens and it was forbidden to write spells on the graves. This meant that anyone who wished to invoke a curse would have to find other methods of doing so.

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Blythburgh hoard: Iron Age gold coins declared treasure

The collection of coins was found near Blythburgh
SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

A hoard of 19 gold coins from the Iron Age unearthed in Suffolk was a "really unusual" find for the area, an expert has said.

The collection was found on land near Blythburgh in February last year.

Suffolk coroner Nigel Parsley was told some of the coins had features linked with those traditionally associated with the north Thames area.

Archaeologist Dr Anna Booth said it showed "cross cultural interaction" between nearby counties at the time.

Mr Parsley declared the coins as treasure.

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2,000-year-old burial of Germanic 'dignitary' discovered in south-eastern Moravia

The grave of a local lord of Germanic origin
[Credit: Archeologicky ustav AV CR]

For two millennia, he had been resting untouched in the earth, in the hollow of what had been his tomb, untouched since his burial. It took only an earthmover and an attentive worker whose gaze was caught by the presence of a shiny object in the overturned earth to uncover the grave of a high Germanic dignitary dating back to the second half of the 1st century AD at Uhersky Brod (south-eastern Moravia), near the Slovak border. This is a particularly rare find according to the archaeologists in charge of the site, and should tell them more about this region at the foot of the White Carpathians, about 200 kilometres from the Roman limes.

"This discovery must be placed in its historical context. Dating places it back to Roman times, but it should be remembered that at that time the Czech and Moravian territories, i.e. the territory of the present-day Czech Republic, were located in an area called the Barbaricum, i.e. beyond the Roman Empire's limes."

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Durham archaeological dig reveals 'earliest resident'

The bone fragments belonged to an adult, but it was impossible to determine the sex
DURHAM UNIVERSITY

Remains found during a dig in Durham have revealed what is believed to be the city's earliest known resident.

Archaeologists from the university unearthed the bone fragments while excavating a city centre site where student accommodation was being built.

Radiocarbon dating has now shown they date to between 90BC and AD60.

Described as "very significant", the bones add to a growing body of evidence there were settlers in the area in the Iron Age and Romano-British periods.

Most of the identifiable bone, found in a site off Claypath, came from a skull, with parts of a radius and tibia also recovered.

Experts were able to establish they belonged to an adult who had been cremated, but could not determine their age or sex.

As well as evidence of the Iron Age cremation, archaeologists found items from medieval rubbish pits and 18th Century street-front buildings.

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Developers will protect Roman villa unearthed in Cam

Remains of the Roman villa were uncovered last summer at the Millfields site in Cam

A Roman villa unearthed during building work will be preserved after developers agreed to "re-plan" the estate.

More than 6,000 people signed a petition to save the remains discovered by archaeologists working on behalf of Bovis Homes in Cam, Gloucestershire.

The firm said experts had told them the remains did not qualify for preservation but it had since "found a compromise".

Campaigner Christie McLean said the news was "fantastic".

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Monday, February 10, 2020

New discoveries in the Neolithic landscape of the Callanish Stones

The Callanish Stones (known as Tursachan of Calanais in Gaelic) is the best-known monument in the Neolithic landscape of the Loch Roag area. [Image: Dr Martin Bates]

A project to survey the prehistoric landscape around the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides has revealed evidence of other stone circles hidden beneath the peat, including one with evidence of a large lightning strike in its centre.

The main stone circle, known in Gaelic as Tursachan Chalanais, is a significant Neolithic monument consisting of an arrangement of standing stones situated on a ridge above Loch Roag. In the surrounding area, over 15 other sites have been identified that may be ‘satellite’ stone circles to the main Tursachan, labelled Calanais Sites I to XIII. The Calanais Virtual Reconstruction Project, led by the University of St Andrews with Urras nan Tursachan and the University of Bradford, was designed to increase understanding of these features.

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Ancient Viking Glass Artifact Was A Game Piece Of The Elites


A tiny glass crown is being heralded as a rare archaeological artifact from the first wave of Viking raids in England.

The small worked glass artifact was unearthed at an excavation site on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne , a tidal island situated off the northeast coast of England in Northumberland. Crafted from swirling blue and white glass with white glass bobbles, a report in The Times says archaeologists believe the crown was a gaming piece from the strategy board game  hnefatafl (king’s table) played in Britain, Ireland, and Scandinavia before the arrival of chess in the 12th century.

A Glass Artifact With Elite Origins
The relic, which is no bigger than a grape, is described as being “of exquisite workmanship” showing influence from across the North Sea and if it is indeed a hnefatafl gaming piece it is a rare archaeological treasure linking the English island with the Vikings at the beginning of a turbulent period in English and Scandinavian history.

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French bracelet among surprises in mysterious Havering hoard

 A rare terret ring discovered in the Havering hoard. Photograph: David Parry/PA

Bronze age specialists split on why so many objects would have been broken and buried

One of the largest and most mysterious bronze age hoards ever found in the UK contains objects that have astonished archaeologists, including items more commonly found in France and the Alps.

The Museum of London on Monday revealed new finds among the Havering hoard, a remarkable collection of 453 swords, axes, knives, chisels, sickles, razors, ingots and bracelets excavated from a quarry in east London over a period of three months and revealed last year.

Dating from 900-800BC, it is the third largest bronze age hoard ever discovered in the UK.

Closer examination has revealed a pair of terret rings believed to have been used to prevent the reins tangling on horse-drawn carts. Bronze age examples have been found before in France but not the UK.

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Archaeology can be restorative after disasters


Archaeologists should be among the first professionals to get to affected areas and proffer solutions from the perspective of their knowledge and expertise. Thus the CPU should always make archaeologists part of the rapid response team in the event of any disaster.

In mass disaster situations, the positive identification of human remains, as well as the search-and-rescue exercise, is a crucial but delicate task where experts need to be engaged.

The identification process of the victims is usually accomplished by employing scientific methods in the search-and-rescue process, which in most cases requires time and adequate resources. Archaeology, as a profession in Zimbabwe and the world at large, has been designed to handle aftermaths of any kind of disasters faced by any community.

The restoration of communities is an integral component of the various interventions to any affected area, thus the need to involve archaeologists who are trained to work with the affected communities to restore their heritage, both tangible and intangible.

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Thursday, February 06, 2020

Board-game piece from period of first Viking raid found on Lindisfarne

The piece of worked glass unearthed during an excavation on Lindisfarne. 
Photograph: Jeff Veitch

Small glass ‘crown’ thought to be rare archaeological link to first Norse raiders

It is not large – the shape and size of a chocolate sweet – and might easily have been discarded as a pebble by a less careful hand.

But a tiny piece of worked glass unearthed during an excavation on Lindisfarne has been revealed to be a rare archaeological treasure linking the Northumbrian island with the Vikings, from the very beginning of one of the most turbulent periods in English history.

Archaeologists believe the object, made from swirling blue and white glass with a small “crown” of white glass droplets, is a gaming piece from the Viking board game Hnefatafl, or a local version of the game.

Whether dropped on the island by a Norse raider or owned by a high-status local imitating their customs, the gaming piece offers a rare tangible link between Lindisfarne’s Anglo-Saxon monastery and the culture that eventually overwhelmed it.

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Pompeii's ancient drains are STILL in working order and will be used again to empty rainwater into the sea 2,300 years after they were built

Since 2018, the 1,500ft (457m) network of tunnels (pictured), which are big enough for a human to fit into, have been carefully assessed

The 1,500ft long network of tunnels empties rainwater into the nearby sea  
It was built in three phases dating back as far as 3rd century BC by the Samnites 
Romans updated the network of tunnels and it is still in excellent condition  
Spans from the Pompeii Forum underneath Via Marina and to the Imperial Villa 

Pompeii's ancient drainage system is in such good condition that it is set to be put back into active service, despite being built almost 2,300 years ago. 

A 1,500ft stretch of tunnels underneath some of the famed Italian city's most iconic structures was originally built to drain water downhill away from Pompeii's centre. 

Analysis of the tunnels revealed they had been almost untouched for millennia and the complex system is still in excellent condition. 

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This 7,000-year-old well is the oldest wooden structure ever discovered, archaeologists say


Archaeologists have discovered a 7,000-year-old Neolithic well in eastern Europe, which they believe is the oldest wooden structure in the world.

The square well was built with oak by farmers around 5256 B.C., according to researchers who pinpointed its origin after analyzing the tree rings in the wood, which is the scientific method known as dendrochronology. The well's age makes it the oldest dendrochronologically dated archaeological wooden construction worldwide, according to the researchers in the Czech Republic.

"The well was only preserved because it had been underwater for centuries. Now we cannot let it dry out, or the well would be destroyed," Karol Bayer of the University of Pardubice's Department of Restoration said in a press release.

Researchers are developing a process to dry the wood and preserve it without deformation using sugar to reinforce the wood's cellular structure.

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Wednesday, February 05, 2020

1,300-Year-Old Saxon Coin Found by Treasure Hunter Rewrites English History


An English metal detectorist has found a rare coin proving old London did not fall to the West Saxons until later than currently thought.

Buried about four inches deep, Andy Hall, 55, found the 1,300-year-old coin in January of 2016 on Wiltshire farmland at Coombe Bisset, to the southwest of Salisbury in  England. While the artifact’s authenticity had been doubted, with even the finder suspecting that it may have been a contemporary forgery, or what he calls a “19th century fantasy piece,” scientific tests on the silver coin have confirmed it is “95% per cent silver,” which is consistent with coins of the time.

Dating of The Fall Of London Challenged
The controversy arises because the rare silver piece depicts the face of the Saxon king Ludica of Mercia who ruled for just one year from 826–827 AD. This little known Saxon king, Ludica, who ruled the kingdom that included London, or 'Lundenwic' as it was called at the time, challenges the mainstream historical theory that London had fallen to the Wessex King Ecgberht after the Battle of Ellendun in 825 AD.

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Virtual Reality Game Redefines Archaeology Education


Before they can get started at their field site -- a giant cave studded with stalactites, stalagmites and human artifacts -- 15 undergraduate students must figure out how to use their virtual hands and tools. They also must learn to teleport.

This is ANTH 399, a course designed to bring the archaeological field school experience to undergraduate students who never leave campus. Designed by University of Illinois professors and computer science graduate students, the course satisfies the field school requirement for those pursuing an archaeology degree at Illinois.

Virtual Reality Making Archaeology Accessible to All

"Field school is a requirement of most archaeological programs across the country," said Illinois anthropology professor Laura Shackelford, who led development of the class with U. of I. education policy, organization. Leadership professor Wenhao David Huang and computer science graduate student Cameron Merrill said "but traveling to a field school site can cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000."

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English Family Fined for ‘Cynical’ Destruction of Medieval Village


Historic England have announced the remains of Withybrook medieval village in Warwickshire have been irreparably damaged by a family, who wanted to graze horses.
John Mac, 58, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Heather have been found guilty of causing “irreparable damage” to a medieval village and have been fined £160,000. Historic England formally charged the Mac family after they carried out illegal building works between 2015 and 2018, without having obtained Scheduled Monument Consent.
The family ignored repeated warnings from Historic England and the local council. They kept digging up land at Withybrook village including, according to the Telegraph, “laying a 4m wide track, and installing a water pipe, troughs and gate posts.”
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Local discovers Bronze Age settlement in Galway

A leading Irish archaeologist believes a local in Spiddal has discovered a Bronze Age dwelling that was unearthed by a recent Atlantic storm.

A storm in mid-January unearthed a new archaeological site, possible of major, importance An Liopa Thoir, east of An Spidéal (Spiddal), in County Galway. A potential crannóg could be proof of settlements in the area dating back to the Bronze Age.

On Monday (Jan 4), RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta (an Irish language radio station) reported that local man Jimmy Ó Céide had discussed the archaeological site following Storm Brendan, which hit the west coast of Ireland in mid-January. 

As yet the find has not been confirmed as a crannóg, a lake dwelling, usually built on an artificial lake and found in Ireland and Scotland. 

One of Ireland’s leading field archaeologists, Michael Gibbons, from Clifden, County Galway, told RTE “This is a very important site. It amazes me that a site of such interest is here, not far at all from the other one further west in An Liopa. They are not common in this part of the country, or indeed anywhere in Ireland."

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Spectacular Findings Uncovered in Santorini’s Akrotiri Archaeological Dig

Some of the recent findings at Santorini’s Akrotiri archaeological site. 
Photo credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

Significant new findings were recently revealed during ongoing excavation works at the archaeological site of Akrotiri, on the Greek island of Santorini (Thera), the Ministry of Culture of Greece announced in a statement on Thursday.

Most of the discoveries are related to the everyday life of the people who lived on the island before the volcanic explosion which destroyed most of the island and subsequently the Minoan civilization on Crete.

Ordinary objects used by the people of the island, even including clothing and burned fruit, were found, most likely believed to be the very last objects the people of Santorini were using in the moments before the devastating volcanic eruption.

Additionally, more than 130 micelle vessels were found, which archaeologists believe were most likely related to a burial place.

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New Building Found at Epidaurus’ Asclepieion in Sensational Archaeological Discovery


The Asclepieion of Epidaurus on the Peloponnesian Peninsula is one of the most important ancient sites in the entire world.

Today, it owes a great deal of its fame to the theater, a wonder of acoustics which is still in operation today, but in ancient times it served as a medical sanctuary, and serious illnesses were healed there.

People from all over the Eastern Mediterranean region flocked to Epidaurus in antiquity to find cures for their various maladies. It was a spacious resort which included guesthouses, a gymnasium, a stadium and the famous theater, which served to “elevate the soul,” which ancient Greeks saw as the goal of all theatrical plays, both tragedies and comedies.

Along with its many luxurious facilities, the Asclepieion of Epidaurus offered beautiful, serene natural surroundings, with lush vegetation and stunning views of the surrounding mountaintops.

According to the poet Hesiod, who was active between 750 and 650 BC, Asclepius, the son of Apollo who was considered the ancient Greek god of medicine, was born in Epidaurus.

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Campaign to save Gloucestershire Roman villa unearthed on estate

The discovery includes a bathhouse

A campaign has been launched to protect the remains of a Roman villa unearthed during work on a new housing estate.

The villa was discovered in Cam, Gloucestershire, by archaeologists working on behalf of Bovis Homes.

BBC TV presenter and archaeology expert Professor Mark Horton is among those calling for it to be saved, describing it as "a very important discovery".

But the developer says archaeologists have told them the villa does not qualify for preservation.

Resident Christie McLean has started a petition to help save the villa, which had over 2,000 signatures within a day of launching.

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Detectorists unearth record breaking haul of 69,347 Iron Age coins after 30-year search

The discovery by Reg Mead (left) and Richard Miles could be worth £10m 
CREDIT: SWNS

A hoard of Iron Age coins worth up to £10 million has been officially recognised as the largest collection ever found on the British Isles after two detectorists' were tipped off by a woman who spotted a 'shiny button' in a field.

Reg Mead and Richard Miles have spent the last 30 years searching for the 69,347 piece coin collection on Jersey after initially receiving a tip-off in the 1980s from a woman who said she had spotted something that looked like silver buttons in a field.

They eventually struck gold in 2012 and uncovered the coins which date from the 1st Century BC and lain buried for 2,000 years.

The duo have now had their collection recognised by Guinness World Records.

It overtakes the previous record for the largest collection of Iron Age coins of 54,951 found more than 40 years ago in Wiltshire.

Some of the treasure from the hoard is now on display at La Hougue Bie Museum and the hope is that it will allow people to understand the development of economies and coinage from over two thousand years ago.

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Hoard of ancient Roman coins found in Derbyshire field


Metal detector enthusiasts have unearthed a hoard of ancient Roman coins in a Derbyshire field.

The coins, dating back to the 4th century, were discovered by Thomas Dobson and Robbie Wilson in Parwich in May 2019.

The hoard of 61 coins were classed as treasure at Derby and Derbyshire Coroner's Court on Monday, February 3.

The treasure trove inquest heard that the coins were minted between 380AD and 405AD. Person or persons unknown hid them on land in Parwich and never came back to retrieve them.

The detectorists contacted authorities once they had found the items.

The value of the hoard is not yet known.

Anyone who finds items believed to be more than 300-years-old has a legal obligation to report it under the Treasure Act 1996.

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Saturday, February 01, 2020

2000-Year-Old Iron Age Warrior Grave Unearthed in England


Archaeologists in the United Kingdom have unearthed the grave of an Iron Age warrior. It has been described as a very rare find. A number of significant artifacts that are 2000 years old have been unearthed. These finds are providing insights into an important stage in ancient British history.

Construction workers were working on a housing project, just outside Walberton, West Sussex in southern England, when they came across the grave and as required by law, they notified the relevant authorities. Archaeology South East (ASE) was contracted to undertake an investigation of the site. ASE “work across south-eastern and eastern England, offering a broad range of professional archaeological services and expertise,” according to the  Archaeology South East website.

Incredibly Rare Finds From Key Point in History
The ASE archaeologists established that a grave had been found. The Chichester Observer reports that it “is incredibly rare, as only a handful are known to exist in the South of England.” It was later established that it dated from the late Iron Age, roughly from the 1 st century BC to 50 AD.

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Unique Bone Figurine Discovered in One of World`s Oldest Cities

Anthropomorphic figurine discovered by a Polish researcher, photo by J. Quinlan

Polish researcher discovered a human-like figurine in one of the oldest cities in the world: Çatalhöyük in Turkey. This is the first such object made of bone known from this place. The find is about 8 thousand years old.

The discovery was made in one of the largest proto-city centres of the first farmers and one of the most famous archaeological sites of the world: Çatalhöyük, located in the southern part of the Anatolian Plateau in central Turkey. Çatalhöyük was inhabited continuously for over a thousand years between 7100 and 6000 BC, i.e. in the Neolithic era. The figurine was found in 2016. The conclusions of its expert analyses are presented in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

The most famous artefacts from this place are clay female figurines, until recently considered to be mother goddesses due to their massive posture and exposed breasts. Today, they are usually interpreted as depicting the elderly and objects related to ancestor worship. Now scientists have announced the discovery of a bone figurine that is anthropomorphic, i.e. has human features.

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First Byzantine Monastery discovered in Spain

Emperor Justinian, Ravenna
[Credit: El Pais] 

Archaeological experts from the University of Alicante in Spain have recently identified the first Byzantine monastery ever found on the Iberian peninsula.
They first came across several round metal objects at the archaeological site, which is located in the area of Elda, Alicante. The exact identification of these objects had proven to be a mystery since the 19th century.

In the 6th century, Emperor Justinian forced people to keep a cache of state-minted coins in the main churches of each city. In this way, merchants could show that the coinage they used in economic transactions corresponded with the official money that the Emperor had minted.

The churches used to work as guarantors that buyers of precious metals were not cheated and that the coins in general use had the actual value that they were meant to have. If the operations were fraudulent, the tax revenue was lower — something the Emperor kept close tabs on.

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The ghostly treasure ship of Sutton Hoo

Silver bowl from Sutton Hoo. Seventh century, British Museum, London
PHOTOGRAPH BY ULLSTEIN BILD, CORDON PRESS

In 1939 a series of mounds at Sutton Hoo in England revealed their astounding contents: the remains of an Anglo-Saxon funerary ship and a huge cache of seventh-century royal treasure.

IN SOUTHERN ENGLAND near the Suffolk coast lies a stretch of sandy heathland dotted by mysterious mounds of earth. Inspiring strange tales and superstitions among local people, these barrows charmed newlyweds Frank and Edith Pretty, who purchased the property, known as Sutton Hoo, in 1926.

The couple made their home at Sutton Hoo for nearly nine years until Frank’s untimely death in late 1934. Edith continued to live there, and she grew increasingly curious about the barrows on her property. A lifelong fascination with the occult had led her, like many wealthy women of her time, to consult spiritualists in London. Some say that after her husband’s death, her interest in spiritualism grew and even expanded to include the barrows on her property. Disputed accounts even describe Edith as having a vision of a ghostly procession passing through the mounds near her house. Whatever the true cause, she decided in 1937 to have the land excavated and approached a museum in nearby Ipswich to discuss it.

What lies beneath
Self-taught archaeologist Basil Brown worked as an excavation assistant at the museum and took on Edith’s project. His decision to take the job not only would change his life but also radically alter, and deepen, the understanding scholars had of the early Anglo-Saxon period in England following the collapse of Roman rule.

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Thursday, January 30, 2020

'Lost' Anglo-Saxon monastery discovered. It might be where England's first king was coronated.

The Abbey at Bath has a spectacular facade.
(Image: © Wessex Archaeology)

Edgar the Peaceful may have been coronated here more than 1,000 years ago.

Newly unearthed remains may come from the monastery where England's first king, Edgar the Peaceful, was coronated more than 1,000 years ago, according to Wessex Archaeology, an archaeological company and charity in England. 

The so-called smoking gun emerged during an excavation at the famous Bath Abbey, ahead of planned renovations there. During the excavation, archaeologists were surprised to find hints of Anglo-Saxon architecture in two structures next to the abbey.

These are the first known Anglo-Saxon structures in all of Bath, a city that was founded by the Roman Empire and that is known for its thermal hot springs. The two apsidal (semicircular) structures, or apses, were found below street level, underneath what once made up the cloisters of the 12th-century cathedral built over Romano-British deposits. The cathedral is just south of the abbey church.

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Neanderthals May Have Trekked 2,000 Miles to Siberia

Chagyrskaya Cave in Siberia's Altai Mountains, where researchers uncovered Neanderthal stone blades that resemble tools excavated in Europe (IAET)

Ancient Siberia was so nice, eastern European Neanderthals trekked there twice—even though they probably had to cross some 2,000 miles of tough terrain to reach it, a new study suggests.

A team of researchers has uncovered stone blades in Siberia’s Altai Mountains that bear a remarkable resemblance to known Neanderthal tools from modern Crimea and the northern Caucasus, located just north of the Black Sea. The group’s findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, hint that our long-gone cousins crossed the Eurasian continent about 60,000 years ago—an encore act to a similar eastward journey made some 40,000 years prior.

“Neanderthals were intrepid explorers in their own right,” says study author Richard Roberts, a geochronologist at the University of Wollongong in Australia, to Bruce Bower of Science News.

The team can’t conclusively say how long the journey took, or if it happened in fits and starts. But using the tools as an archaeological throughline, the researchers argue that at least some Siberian Neanderthals—whose origins have long been elusive—trace their roots back west.

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Archaeologists analyze the composition of a Roman-era 'makeup case'

Image of the scallop with pigment residues 
[Credit:University of Granada]

First discovered in 2000 during excavations of a funerary complex in the former capital of the Lusitania, Augusta Emerita (present-day Merida) the 'make-up case' was uncovered in a deposit of cremated remains alongside ceramic cups, bone spindles, nails, glassware and the remains of a detachable bone box.

The make-up case is made from a bivalve malacological mollusk specimen of pecten maximus (viera). Once the shell was opened, it was possible to document the cosmetic remains, specifically, a small ball of a “pinkish” powdery conglomerate via a combination of X-ray diffraction (XRD), electron microscopy and chromatographic analysis.

The use of the mollusk as a cosmetic container is a practice that dates back thousands of years across various civilisations. One of the earliest examples is tiny shells in the Sumerian city of Ur from 2500 BC that contained pigments used for cosmetics.

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'Anglo-Saxon' skeletons found on Buckingham care home site

The site where the bodies were discovered is next to the cemetery in Buckingham

A number of "unusual burials" including skeletons with hands tied behind their backs have been discovered on the site of a planned care home.

The bodies were uncovered during excavations ahead of work at West End Farm, on Brackley Road in Buckingham.

It is believed about 40 bodies were found in December as first reported in the MK Citizen.

Historian Ed Grimsdale said he believed they were Anglo-Saxon and it could be "one of the biggest finds" of its kind.

Buckinghamshire County Archaeology Service said it was waiting for results of the post-excavation analysis.

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Jersey 'drowned landscape' could yield Ice Age insights

The team will base themselves at Seymour Tower, an 18th Century offshore fortification
UCL

Archaeologists are planning an ambitious survey of part of the seabed off Jersey where Neanderthals once lived.

The site is part-exposed during spring low tide, giving the team a four-hour window to dig while the sea is out.

Stone tools and mammoth remains have been recovered from the Violet Bank over the years.

Neanderthals are known to have inhabited what is now Jersey for hundreds of thousands of years.

The Violet Bank is a type of coastal zone known as an intertidal reef. It's underwater at high tide but some 10 sq km of seabed is exposed during the low spring tide.

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What Is the Most Significant Archaeological Discovery of the Past Decade?

Collection of King Khufu papyri discovered at Wadi El-Jarf port on view at Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
AMR NABIL/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

The last decade witnessed major archaeological discoveries, from the 10-month excavation of a Bronze Age settlement in England to what could be the world’s oldest figurative artwork, which was found in Indonesia last year. Which of these finds was most important? To hear more, ARTnews asked nine archaeologists and scholars. Their selections—which span several continents and multiple millennia—follow below.

Dieter Arnold
Curator emeritus, department of Egyptian art, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Among numerous other significant discoveries of the past decade in Egypt, one find earns distinction. In 2013, a French mission [led by] Pierre Tallet discovered in a cave on the Red Sea coast in the Wadi El-Jarf remains of a logbook of a boat captain who had—before his assignment at the Red Sea—shipped building blocks to the pyramid of Kheops (Khufu) at Giza (2580 B.C.E.). By itself, such transports were not new to us, but the daily entries in the logbook connect us vividly with one of mankind’s most admired building projects.

Peggy Brunache
Lecturer in the history of slavery, University of Glasgow 

In 2017, the domicile room of Sally Hemings at Thomas Jefferson’s historic Virginia mansion, Monticello, was discovered. Hemings, an enslaved woman, is believed by many to have given birth to several children of one of America’s beloved Founding Fathers. (The theory is supported by DNA evidence.) This discovery once again puts a focus on the entangled roles of enslaved people in the founding of the United States and, more importantly, on the private life of the man who famously wrote “All men are created equal,” and yet, over the course of his life, was a slaveholder of hundreds of Black lives.

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