Monday, September 16, 2019

Large '1,400-year-old cemetery' uncovered in Highlands

The possible Pictish cemetery is being excavated in a field in the Black Isle

What could turn out to be one of Scotland's largest Pictish burial grounds is being excavated on the Black Isle in the Highlands.

Archaeologists have confirmed the presence of a number of barrows, or burial mounds, near Muir of Ord.

Enclosures ranging in size from about 8m (26ft) to more than 40m (131ft) across have also been uncovered.

Archaeologists said the possible Pictish barrow cemetery could be about 1,400 years old.

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'Lovers of Modena' Buried Hand-in-Hand Turn Out to Be Men

Two men were buried holding hands in an ancient cemetery in Modena, Italy. (Image: © University of Bologna/EPA/Shutterstock)
The "lovers of Modena" — two 1,600-year-old skeletons found holding hands inside their grave — are both men, new research reveals. 

There are few known examples in the ancient world of skeletons buried holding hands and most of those found have been male-female and not same sex.

Unearthed in an ancient cemetery in 2009, the skeletons attracted media attention because of their seemingly romantic death poses, which earned the skeletons the amorous nickname. But archaeologists couldn't determine the sexes of the perished lovers because of the poor condition of the skeletons.

However, a team of scientists has now analyzed the skeletons' teeth enamel and identified both skeletons as male, they reported online Sept. 11 in the journal Scientific Reports.

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Earliest direct evidence of milk consumption

The evidence comes from dental plaque from Neolithic remains

Scientists have discovered the earliest direct evidence of milk consumption by humans.

The team identified milk protein entombed in calcified dental plaque (calculus) on the teeth of prehistoric farmers from Britain.

It shows that humans were consuming dairy products as early as 6,000 years ago - despite being lactose intolerant.

This could suggest they processed the raw milk into cheese, yoghurt or some other fermented product.

This would have reduced its lactose content, making it more palatable.

The team members scraped samples of plaque off the teeth, separated the different components within it and analysed them using mass spectrometry.

They detected a milk protein called beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) in the tartar of seven individuals spanning early to middle Neolithic times.

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Country diary: an old map provides new insight

Every detail of this field was captured by cartographers in 1882. 
Photograph: Sarah Niemann

Sandy, Bedfordshire: This single field illustrates one of the greatest mapmaking achievements of the pre-digital age
Some remarkable Victorians tramped over every foot of Britain to create precise pictures for posterity, though they used neither camera nor canvas. Even the unremarkable slopes beneath ancient Lord’s Wood came into focus on a certain day in 1882, when a team of men visited to grant it immortality.

They marked out the meadow’s boundaries, measured its area (14.738 acres), hand-drew its crescent-shaped pond and stippled a nearby “hoofprint” that was annotated with “Old Sand Pit”. And they plotted the trees. Every scattered tree in this meadow, all 31 of them, was faithfully and accurately represented by a miniature cloud on a stick.

In its attention to detail, this single field illustrates one of the greatest mapmaking achievements of the pre-digital age – the 25 inch to a mile Ordnance Survey series. And over the course of a morning, a printout of the old map in hand, I found that snapshot of the past sharpening my images of the present.

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New finds beef up case for redrawing map of Roman empire

The remains of a high-quality Romano-British butcher’s business and centre for crafts have been unearthed by archaeologists in Devon. Photograph: Handout

Dig at Ipplepen extends Roman realm of influence further south-west in UK than Exeter

The remains of a high-quality Romano-British butcher’s business and centre for crafts have been unearthed by archaeologists in Devon.

Experts believe the fourth-century abattoir was set up to prepare the best cuts of beef that were transported to customers miles away along a Roman road found at the site.

They suggest the butchers at Ipplepen, near Newton Abbot in south Devon, worked alongside a string of talented craftspeople specialising in deer antler, leather and textiles.

Previous digs at Ipplepen have unearthed Roman coins, a stretch of Roman road and the remnants of vessels from France and the Mediterranean once full of wine, olive oil and garum – fish sauce.

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Church of Scotland sues for share of $2.5 million Viking treasure trove unearthed on church land

Treasures from the Galloway Hoard are displayed at the National Museums of Scotland on 
October 26, 2017 in Edinburgh.

The Church of Scotland is suing a man for a share of a $2.5 million Viking treasure trove he discovered with a metal detector on church land in 2014.

Retired businessman and detectorist Derek McLennan uncovered the 10th-century hoard in a field in the Dumfries and Galloway region of western Scotland.

The treasure trove, known as the Galloway Hoard, is regarded as one of the richest and most significant finds of Viking objects ever found in the United Kingdom. It included rare silver bracelets and brooches, a gold ring, a bird-shaped gold pin and an enameled Christian cross.

"I unearthed the first piece, initially I didn't understand what I had found because I thought it was a silver spoon and then I turned it over and wiped my thumb across it and I saw the Saltire-type of design and knew instantly it was Viking," McLennan told the BBC at the time of the discovery.

Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish culture secretary, noted that the Galloway Hoard "is one of the most important collections ever discovered in Scotland," and "opens a window on a significant period in the history of Scotland," according to National Museums Scotland.

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Treasure hunter sued by Church of Scotland over record £2million haul of Viking relics he found on their land

Derek McLennan is being sued by the Church of ScotlandCredit: PA:Press Association

The metal detector buff now faces a legal challenge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh over cla­ims he hadn’t responded to church pleas for their share of the cash.

One source said last night: “There was an indication he was going to pay the church a finder’s fee. That’s why he is being taken to court.

“The church has been unable to get a hold of him. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything that would preclude him from being in touch, it appears to be a choice.

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Church sues metal detectorist for share of £2m Viking treasure trove unearthed on its land

The Church of Scotland is taking legal action for a share of a Viking hoard 

The Church of Scotland is taking legal action for a share of a Viking hoard worth almost £2 million found on land it owns.

Metal detectorist Derek McLennan uncovered the 10th-century hoard, which includes silver bracelets and brooches, a gold ring, an enamelled Christian cross and a bird-shaped gold pin, in a Dumfries and Galloway field in 2014.

National Museums Scotland raised £1.98 million to acquire the treasure trove of items for the nation.

Rules on discoveries in Scotland mean only the finder receives payment, differing from the rest of the UK, where awards are split with the land owner.

But it was reported at the time the church would share in the proceeds.

Church trustees are now taking legal action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Viking migration left a lasting legacy on Ireland’s population

Big roads and construction projects in Ireland have unearthed a treasure trove of data 
for archeologists.   Shutterupeira/Shutterstock

The early medieval period in Ireland (400-1200AD) was a time of key importance. It was a turning point in European history and the origin of much contemporary Irish culture and identity. Ireland, the early medieval “land of saints and scholars”, had much cultural and economic growth during the 5th and 6th centuries. Elsewhere in Europe there were unstable populations in the wake of the fall of Rome.

Until now it was assumed that this Irish Golden Age was followed by stability and consolidation, and a steadily increasing population, despite disruption caused by Viking raids throughout the 9th century. Irish society at this time was also in a state of flux. The Vikings eventually established a network of towns that stood apart from the rural “native” Irish world.

A new analysis of the archaeological record, however, reaches a set of rather different conclusions. In our study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, we found that the Irish population had actually been in a serious decline for almost two centuries before the Vikings arrived. Our research reveals how ancient migrations of Vikings left a lasting legacy in the modern population.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Crusader winery found under house in Israel

The winery is unusual in having two treading floors

A huge winery dating back to the Crusades has been found under a house in Mi'ilya in northern Israel.

The townspeople have been working together to shore up the ruins of the 12th century King's Castle that dominates their Galilee skyline under the guidance of local archaeologist Rabei Khamisy, the Haaretz newspaper reports.

But a businesswoman who runs a filling station in the popular tourist destination asked for a parallel dig under her own property, and that's where Dr Khamisy uncovered what could be the largest wine factory the Crusaders ever built during their presence in the Levant.

"The Byzantines had much larger wineries, but the Crusaders had nothing comparable as far as we know," he told Haaretz.

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Ancient Tombs Unearthed in Nemea, Greece Shed Light on Mycenaean Civilization

Aerial view of the road and the chamber of the two tombs in the eastern part of the Mycenaean cemetery at Aidonia, along with the tombs from the old excavation.
Source: Ephorate of Antiquities of Corinth

The Greek Ministry of Culture announced on Sunday that archaeologists have discovered two ancient, unlooted chamber tombs dating from the Late Mycenaean period, (1400 – 1200 BC), near Nemea in the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

The newly-found tombs at the Aidonia burial site include five full burials and the skeletons of fourteen individuals whose remains had been transferred there from other tombs.

The finds will shed more light on the Mycenaean civilization, the Greek Culture Ministry announced.

Both chamber tombs provided an array clay pots and figurines to the discoverers, as well as other small objects.

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Visigothic church discovered in the Sierra de Madrid

General view of the rural church of El Boalo [Credit: UAM]

The results of the latest excavation campaigns, led by Javier Salido, Professor of Archaeology at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and Charo Gómez (Archaeology Team A) in the Cerrillo de El Rebollar (El Boalo, Madrid), have unearthed a rural church consisting of a rectangular hall with a single nave and finished off with an apse or squared chancel. The original floor of the building underwent important alterations that will be analysed in detail in future investigations.

The clues for dating the building were hidden in the tombs that occupy the interior space of the nave of the church. In contrast to other known rural churches, the tombs had not been plundered, but were in an excellent state of preservation, and an unaltered and perfectly recorded stratigraphy of occupation of the nave has been documented that allows the original phase of the building and subsequent modifications to be dated with precision.

Eleven graves have been located inside the nave for the moment, perfectly oriented in an east-west direction, aligned with the perimeter walls.

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Pompeii archaeologists uncover 'sorcerer's treasure trove'

Artefacts thought to be part of a sorcerer's treasure trove on display in Pompeii (12 August)
Most of the artefacts would have belonged to women - possibly slaves or servants

Archaeologists working in the buried Roman city of Pompeii say they have uncovered a "sorcerer's treasure trove" of artefacts, including good-luck charms, mirrors and glass beads.

Most of the items would have belonged to women, said Massimo Osanna, director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.

A room with the bodies of 10 victims, including women and children, was excavated in the same house.

Pompeii was engulfed by a volcanic eruption from Mt Vesuvius in AD 79.

The fatal eruption froze the city and its residents in time, making it a rich source for archaeologists.

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Monday, August 12, 2019

Unearthed Viking ‘drinking hall’ offers ‘unparalleled’ opportunity to study Norse history

A Viking "drinking hall" that may have been used by a high-ranking chieftain 800 years ago has been unearthed in Orkney, archaeologists have said.

The site, which is believed to have been a high-status Norse hall from as far back as the 10th century, was discovered at Skaill Farmstead in Westness, Rousay.

Westness is mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga - a historical narrative of the archipelago - as the home of Sigurd, a powerful 12th century chieftain.

Researchers said the area offers an “unparalleled” opportunity to study eating habits in the region over a millennia. 

The discovery is the culmination of years of work by a team from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) to find the building.

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Archaeologists find remains of kings’ feasts at Anglo-Saxon royal manor buried beneath beer garden

An archeological search for an ancient royal manor lasting over a decade has reached its climax beneath a beer garden.

A team of scientists launched a hunt for the Anglo-Saxon house 15 years ago, curious to uncover the knowledge it held into how people lived at the time. 

Initially there were doubts that the residence, thought to belong to an age-old King of Kent, even existed. 

But when the owners of a Kent pub allowed diggers into their beer garden for two weeks in July a “royal rubbish heap” was found under the grass, surfacing items researchers thought were long gone.

“Masses” of wild boar and deer bones, thought to be leftover from royal feasts, were discovered beneath the grass at the Market Inn in Faversham.

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Large Roman tomb unearthed in south Italian town of Ugento

Credit: Telerama News

Just outside the present-day town centre of Ugento in the province of Lecce, Apulia (southern Italy), during the course of excavations arranged by the Superintendence of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the provinces of Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto on private property, evidence has come to light that brings new data for the reconstruction of the history of Ugento: in addition to some wall structures probably dating back to the Middle Ages, a burial of great interest for the study of funerary rituals has emerged.

"It was a plain pit in which three individuals had been deposited at successive times", explains the Superintendence. "The grave, probably dating back to the Roman-Republican Age, has yielded 4 coins not yet legible and a grey oil lamp."

"Once the skeletons had been removed, four pits came to light inside which the remains of the earlier inhumations and some accompanying objects had been deposited: in particular, a bowl and an undecorated miniature vase, perhaps belonging to the third century BC, as well as an oinochoe (a container for mixing wine) dating back to the Hellenistic period, had been carefully buried inside one of the pits."

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Archaeology Dig to start at Iron Age site in Caithness

Aerial view of the Swartigill site. Photo: Bobby Friel @Takethehighview

The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, in partnership with the Yarrows Heritage Trust, are preparing for a fourth season of excavation at the Burn of Swartigill in Thrumster, Caithness, Scotland.

Previous seasons of excavation at the site have uncovered a complex of Iron Age structures, which are providing an important window into Iron Age society away from the monumental architecture of the Brochs.

This season the team led by Rick Barton from ORCA Archaeology hope to continue to reveal the extent of some of these structures so that they can better understand just how complex the site is. We will also be aiming to recover more information about what life was like for the Iron Age people who lived there two thousand years ago. Analysis of the precious remnants of people’s day to day lives will not only help us to understand the environment and economy of the site at the Burn of Swartigill, but also potentially that of Iron Age Scotland in a much broader context.

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Ancient Greek skull found in Turkey shows evidence of neurosurgery performed 2,200 years ago

Credit: AA

Archaeologists carrying out excavations at the ancient Greek city of Euromus dating to the 5th century BC, in the area now occupied by Turkey found a skull with marks indicating that neurosurgery existed 2,200 years ago.

The Anadolu News Agency reports that the skull was found in a burial chamber during new excavations led by Turkish archaeologist Abuzer Kizil found that brain surgery was performed on one of the skulls belonging to an adult male.

“We believe this surgery was performed due to a headache or a problem that had to do with the skull,” Kizil said.

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‘Perhaps the most important isotope’: how carbon-14 revolutionised science

A photographic reproduction of the Turin shroud. 
Photograph: Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images

The discovery that carbon atoms act as a marker of time of death transformed everything from biochemistry to oceanography – but the breakthrough nearly didn’t happen

Martin Kamen had worked for three days and three nights without sleep. The US chemist was finishing off a project in which he and a colleague, Sam Ruben, had bombarded a piece of graphite with subatomic particles. The aim of their work was to create new forms of carbon, ones that might have practical uses.

Exhausted, Kamen staggered out of his laboratory at Berkeley in California, having finished off the project in the early hours of 27 February 1940. He desperately needed a break. Rumpled, red eyed and with a three-day growth of beard, he looked a mess.

And that was unfortunate. Berkeley police were then searching for an escaped convict who had just committed several murders. So when they saw the unkempt Kamen they promptly picked him up, bundled him into the back of their patrol car and interrogated him as a suspected killer.

Thus one of most revolutionary pieces of research undertaken in the past century was nearly terminated at birth when one of its lead scientists was accused of murder. It was only when witnesses made it clear that Kamen was not the man the police were after that he was released and allowed to go back to the University of California Radiation Laboratory to look at the lump of graphite that he and Ruben had been irradiating.

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Saturday, August 10, 2019

See the latest discoveries made at Auckland Castle dig site

ARCHAEOLOGICAL finds have opened a window into the lives of some of the country’s most powerful men, from the food they ate to where they went to the toilet.
Centuries ago the Prince Bishops of Durham were considered second only to the king, with the authority to raise an army and mint their own coins.
Now, students and archaeologists from Durham University have uncovered more about their lifestyle in a dig at one of their most important homes Auckland Castle, in Bishop Auckland.
Working alongside staff and volunteers from The Auckland Project charity, which owns the castle, they excavated to the north of St Peter’s Chapel, which previously served as the Castle’s Great Hall.
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Fragments of 12th century Polotsk princely residence unearthed in Belarus Read full text at: If you use BelTA’s materials, you must credit us with a hyperlink to

USHACHI DISTRICT, 8 August (BelTA) - Archaeologists and volunteers have unearthed fragments of a countryside residence of Polotsk princes dating back to the 12th century on the shores of Lake Cherstvyaty in Ushachi District, BelTA has learned.

The archaeological expedition started three weeks ago and already found the fragments of a countryside residence of Polotsk princes dating back to the 12th century. Some time ago historian Vasily Voronin suggested a hypothesis that the lands and courtyards of the Polotsk voivode of the 16th century could be a princely legacy of the earlier periods. “We have just found evidence that there was princely ancestral property. We found an exact location but similar buildings are in other locations in this area,” said Ph.D. in History Marat Klimov, a senior researcher at the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.

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Thursday, August 08, 2019

Archaeologists discover almost 40 new monuments close to Newgrange

The site of one of the newly discovered monuments found near Newgrange. 
Credit: University College Dublin

A team from University College Dublin have unearth almost 40 previously unknown monuments close to Newgrange, including a "spectacular" monument that aligns with the Winter Solstice sunrise.

The findings likely range from the Neolithic period (4000 BC), through the Bronze Age (2500 BC), and the early Middle Ages.

The monument aligned with the Winter Solstice sunrise is believed to be around 200—300 years newer than the Stone Age passage tomb at Newgrange, dated around 3200 BC, and was discovered in a field just metres from the famous site.

Dr. Steve Davis and a team from the UCD School of Archaeology used a large-scale geophysical imaging system to reveal the new monuments as a part of a joint project with the Romano-Germanic Commission.

"These methods have in the last few years changed our understanding of the Brú na Bóinne landscape beyond all recognition," Dr. Davis said.

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Medieval artefacts found under Reading housing development

The tiles kilns were unearthed at what is thought to have been a medieval tile production site

A string of medieval artefacts found beneath a housing development suggest it used to be a tile production site, experts have said.

Two tile kilns similar to the terracotta ones on the floor of Reading Abbey were among the artefacts found at the site on Silver Street in Reading.

Thames Valley Archaeological Services (TVASS) also found a nearby pit where it is believed clay was extracted for the tile factory.

It described the discovery as "rare".

Project co-ordinator Tim Dawson said the tile kilns, estimated to be from AD1250-1500, were the "stars of the site" as they indicated there used to be a tile manufacturing site linked to Reading Abbey.

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Unknown monuments identified close to Newgrange in 'exceptionally successful' survey

Around 40 previously unknown monuments have been identified in the Brú na Bóinne area close to Newgrange as a result of what a leading archaeologist says was an “exceptionally successful” survey.
Dr Steve Davis of the UCD School of Archaeology, who has worked for over a decade on the Brú na Bóinne landscape, said the monuments appear to range from what are most likely early Neolithic houses to Neolithic timber enclosures as well as Bronze Age burial monuments and some early medieval farmsteads.
The area surveyed included locations both sides of the Boyne, within the bend of the Boyne and across from the megalithic tombs at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.
Dr Davis said the surveys that revealed these new monuments were carried out as part of collaborative research between UCD School of Archaeology and the Romano-Germanic Commission, Frankfurt.
The research is for the ‘Boyne to Brodgar’ project examining connections between Neolithic sites between the Boyne Valley and the Orkney Islands. The surveys to date have been funded by the German government.
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Archaeologists find 'Viking drinking hall' during Orkney dig

The site was explored for a number of years before the discovery
Image copyrightPA MEDIA

Archaeologists have found what could be a Viking drinking hall during a dig in Orkney.

The site, at Skaill Farmstead in Westness, Rousay, is believed to date back to the 10th Century and may have been used by the chieftain Sigurd.

Stone walls, benches, pottery and a fragment of a Norse bone comb were found during the excavation.

It is hoped the site could reveal much about diet, farming and fishing from the Norse period to the 19th Century.

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