Thursday, October 29, 2015


The 2015 excavations of the necropolis of the settlement of the “Culture of the Encrusted Ceramics of the Lower Danube” took place in mid October 2015. Photo: Monitor daily

A total of 10 graves from the necropolis of a Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age settlement located near the town of Baley, Vidin District, in Northwest Bulgaria, have been discovered and explored during the 2015 excavations of the site which belongs to the so called “Culture of the Encrusted Ceramics of the Lower Danube”.
In one of the ten newly found graves, the archaeologists have found a total of 16 ceramic vessels, some of which are funeral urns, reveals Nikolay Kazashki from the Vidin Regional Museum of History, who is the deputy head of the archaeological expedition in Baley.
The excavations are led by Assist. Prof. Georgi Ivanov, and consulted by Assoc. Prof. Stefan Alexandrov, both of whom are from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia.
The newly discovered artifacts from the Baley necropolis, which dates back to 1,600-1,100 BC, are from three distinct chronological stages of the Bronze Age culture, reports the Bulgarian dailyMonitor.
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Amateur archaeologist finds Viking treasure on Danish island

It’s very rare to have found so many Harald Bluetooth coins (photo: Museum Vestsjælland)

A Danish amateur archaeologist has made a stunning find on the island of Omø just off the coast of southern Zealand.
The discovery – which consists of rare silver treasure dating back to the Viking era – was made when Robert Hemming Poulsen paid a work trip to Omø to lay fibre optic cables. He brought his metal detector along and hunted for buried treasure after work.
“A treasure like this is found once every 10-15 years,” said Hugo Hvid Sørensen, a curator from Museum Vestsjælland, where the treasure is now on display. “It contains many items and is extremely well kept because it has been buried in sandy earth.”
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Hiker stumbles upon ‘extraordinary’ 1,200-year-old Viking sword

After more than a millennium buried in the snow of Norway’s mountains, a surprisingly well-preserved sword sheds light on the Viking age

Viking sword found by a hiker in Hordaland, Norway. Photograph: Hordaland County Counci

Some time near AD750, someone left a Viking sword along a mountain plateau in southern Norway. On a late October day more than 1,250 years later, a hiker named Goran Olsen picked it up.
The Hordaland County council announced this week that the hiker had discovered the sword in surprisingly pristine condition among the rocks of an old road in Haukeli, as he stopped to rest along an old road through the region’s mountains and valleys.
“It’s quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well-preserved,” county conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd told CNN. “It might be used today if you sharpened the edge,” he added.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

1,200-year-old Viking sword discovered by hiker

This sword dating from c. 750 AD was discovered by a hiker in Norway. An archaeologist said the artifact was an important example of the Viking age.

A sword is probably the last thing you'd expect to find on a hike -- especially one that's more than a millennium old.
But that's what happened to a man in Norway who recently stumbled across a 1,200-year-old Viking sword while walking an ancient route.
The find, which dates from approximately 750 A.D. and is in exceptionally good condition, was announced by Hordaland County Council.
County Conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd described the discovery as "quite extraordinary."
"It's quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well-preserved ... it might be used today if you sharpened the edge," he told CNN.
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Dig sheds light on medieval life in Moscow

An archaeological dig to find out more about medieval life in Moscow has turned up hundreds of items of historical interest, including a letter from the Middle Ages written on birch bark that reveals much about life in the city at that time. 

Archaeological excavation in the historical center of Moscow  [Credit: Institute of archaeology RAS] 

"A particularly notable, extremely rare and important find for Moscow is a letter, written on paper made from birch bark, that is, a birch bark manuscript. It is bound to give us a lot of new information about life in Moscow in the Middle Ages," said Leonid Belyaev, head of the archaeology department at the Russian Academy of Sciences, who is leading the excavation project.

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Lyon paléochrétien : fouille du cimetière de Saint-Just et Saint-Irénée

Dans le cadre du projet de complexe immobilier Lugdunum implanté le long de la Montée de Choulans, près de la place Wernert dans le 5earrondissement de Lyon, une équipe d’archéologues de l’Inrap fouille sur une emprise de plus de 2 400 m² jusqu’à fin 2015. Effectuées sur prescription de l’État (Drac Rhône-Alpes), ces recherches font suite à un diagnostic archéologique qui a révélé un vaste espace funéraire, établi entre les deux églises paléochrétiennes de Saint-Irénée et de Saint-Just entre le IVe et le VIIe siècle. 

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UK buyer sought to keep Anglo-Saxon brooch in country

An elaborate Anglo-Saxon brooch that is more than 1,000 years old may be exported if a UK buyer is not found who will pay at least £8,000 for it.
The gilt bronze brooch, from the late 8th century, is one of just 12 such ornaments in existence, and it stands out from the rest for the skill and creativity employed in the creation of its unique complex leaf pattern, which could represent the Christian tree of life.
An illustration dating from the same period of the Virgin Mary in the Book of Kells shows her wearing a similar brooch, suggesting they were worn by high-status women.
Experts said the brooch is of outstanding significance for the study of Anglo-Saxon art and material culture, but it could be exported unless a UK buyer matches the £8,460 asking price.
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3,500-year-old warrior prince tomb is 'most exciting Ancient Greek find for decades'

Experts describe the discovery of tomb packed full of gold, silver and weapons, which sheds light on ancient Mycenaean and Minoan civilisations, as one of the most significant in decades

Flanked by a three-foot long bronze sword with an ivory handle and surrounded by a treasure trove of gold, silver and precious stones, he lay undisturbed for 3,500 years.
Now, the skeleton of an ancient Greek warrior, his tomb protected by a heavy stone slab, has been discovered by archaeologists in the Peloponnese.
Described as one of the most exciting discoveries in Greece for decades, the 30-35 year old man has been dubbed the “Griffin Warrior” after an ivory plaque depicting the half-lion, half-eagle mythical beast that was found alongside him.
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Friday, October 23, 2015

76 skeletons discovered at Saxon Woolwich

Saxon remains have been found by archaeologists excavating Berkeley Homes development site on the Royal Arsenal Riverside site. 

Saxon burial being excavated [Credit: South London Press] 

Oxford Archaeology have uncovered evidence of nearly 3000 years of human activity on the west side of the site which in ancient times would have been a gravel peninsula surrounded by marshlands. 

Surprisingly a burial site with 76 skeletons have been found which have been radio carbon dated to the late 7th or early 8th century meaning they are former inhabitants of Saxon Woolwich. 

Project manager David Score said ‘It is amazing to find such a large number of relatively well preserved skeletons, despite all the later building on the site over the years. They seem to represent a mixed population with males and females, children and adults present. Only one possible knife was recorded as a probable grave deposit so it seems that the burials do represent an early Christian tradition’.

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Medieval graves found near Exeter 'mystify' archaeologists

he discovery of 70 graves found by archaeologists on a site earmarked for housing has mystified experts.
The burials are thought to be from the 13th or 14th Century and were found near Exeter, Devon.
Archaeologist Richard Greatorex said: "These burials are very rare because they're not in a graveyard, on consecrated ground and they're individual graves."
He said the find at Tithebarn Green, Redhayes was "perplexing".

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Hazelnut shells found at Skye Mesolithic site

The remains of hazelnuts eaten by some of Skye's earliest inhabitants were found at a dig on the island, archaeologists have revealed.
Hazelnuts were a favourite snack of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, according to archaeologists at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).
The shells found at an excavation above Staffin Bay could be 8,000-years-old.
UHI carried out the dig along with Staffin Community Trust, school children and volunteers.

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Hiker finds 1,200-yr-old Viking sword in Norway

A hiker travelling the ancient route between western and eastern Norway found a 1,200-year-old Viking sword after sitting down to rest after a short fishing trip. 

The sword is in such good condition it could be used today  [Credit: Hordaland Country Council] 

The sword, found at Haukeli in central southern Norway will be sent for conservation at the The University Museum of Bergen. 

Jostein Aksdal, an archeologist with Hordaland County said that the sword was in such good condition that if it was given a new grip and a polish, it could be used today. 

“The sword was found in very good condition. It is very special to get into a sword that is merely lacking its grip,” he said.

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Plague traced back to Bronze Age

Plague has been a scourge on humanity for far longer than previously thought, ancient DNA shows.
Samples taken from the teeth of seven bodies contained traces of the bacterial infection in the Bronze Age.
They also showed it had, at the time, been unable to cause the bubonic form of plague or spread through fleas - abilities it evolved later.
The researchers, at the University of Copenhagen, say plague may have shaped early human populations.
Human history tells of three plague pandemics:

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Early Medieval Church at Seydisfjordur in Iceland

How to envisage the conversion to Christianity in Iceland? This is the question raised by archaeologist Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir in a recent article presenting the early medieval Þórarinsstaðir church in Iceland

The early Christian church site at Þórarinsstaðir in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, is an example of how religious buildings and their belongings reflect both ecclesiastical and worldly contacts in early medieval Europe.
The site was excavated in 1998–1999 and revealed, for what was then the first time in Iceland, a timber-constructed church building of two phases, dated to the early and late 11th century (Kristjánsdóttir 2004, pp. 84–95). Interestingly, the church buildings at Þórarinsstaðir appeared to be of the same form of construction as that characterizing many of the earliest churches found in Viking settlement areas in Northern Europe: an early type of stave church, here called a post church, notably one built of timber with earth-dug corner posts
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Hidden passageway once used by Roman emperors opens to public for first time

A vast underground passageway that allowed Rome’s emperors to pass unseen from their hilltop palaces to the Forum is to be opened to the public for the first time on Wednesday.
The 2,000-year-old “imperial ramp” descended from the top of the Palatine Hill, where successive emperors built lavish palaces, down to the temples, market places and courts of the Forum in the valley below, from where the Roman Empire was governed.
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Battle of Agincourt: 10 reasons why the French lost to Henry V's army

The Battle of Agincourt is often heralded as one of the greatest English military victories. Here are ten reasons why King Henry V's army was able to defeat a French force four times its size.

The Battle of Agincourt was a major victory for England in the Hundred Years' War, and took place Friday, 25 October 1415.
The battle was heralded in Shakespeare's Henry V in which the king urges his "band of brothers" to stand together.
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Three new important items from the Castles Studies Trust

The Castles Studies Trust has provided details of three new important stories:

1) A digital model of Gleaston Castle in Cumbria, showing the current state of the ruins.

Find out more here...

2) A press release about work at Tibbers Castle in Dumfriesshire, enhancing our understanding of the castle's early history

Find out more here...

3) A short video about the landscape of Wressle Castle in Yorkshire 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Ancient Roman Mosaic Found in Tuscany

Italian archaeologists digging in a small Tuscan village have unearthed part of what they believe is a large and impressive ancient Roman mosaic.

Laying in a private property next to a local road in the village Capraia e Limite, the mosaic features two different designs. One, dating to the second half of the 4th century AD, features geometric patterns framed by floral motifs, the other, dating to the 5th century AD, boasts octagons decorated with animals, flowers and a human bust.

The large mosaic graced the floor of a luxurious Roman villa that stood in the Tuscan countryside for four centuries, from the 1st to the beginning of the 6th century AD.

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“Princely Grave” Unearthed in Czech Republic

rchaeologists from Poland’s University of Rzeszów have uncovered the 2,000-year-old stone-lined grave of a young man in a cemetery discovered in 2010 by metal detectorists conducting an illegal search. The young man, thought to have been a member of the Marcomanni aristocracy, had been wearing a leather belt with a buckle, and buried in a wooden coffin that may have been a hollowed tree trunk. The Germanic Marcomanni eventually had political and trade relationships with Rome. “Evidence of these contacts and the formation of elites in barbarian societies are the rich tombs with objects from the areas of the Empire,” head of excavations Agnieszka Půlpánová-Reszczyńska told Science & Scholarship in Poland. Two vessels, one of clay and one of bronze, were found at the young man’s head. Similar tombs have also contained bronze vessels at the foot of the dead, but this one may have been robbed, since the foot of the tomb was empty and the stones around it were more loosely arranged. Geophysical surveys of the area suggest that the team will find additional Marcomanni tombs. To read about Rome's rise to power, go to "Rome's Imperial Port."

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EMAS Field Trip: Four Anglo-Saxon Churches in Hampshire

EMAS Field Trip to Headborne Worthy; Tichborne; Corhamton

and Boarhunt Anglo-Saxon Churches

Saturday, 7 November 2015

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You can find more EMAS events here...

Archaeologists to uncover secrets of Viking fortress

When archaeologists found the first Viking Age fortress in Denmark for 60 years last September, it was hailed as a fantastic archaeological discovery.
Now the time has come for the archaeologists to unearth the hidden secrets and legacy of the fortress, located near Køge just south of Copenhagen. A 20 million kroner grant from the AP Møller Fund and 4.5 million kroner from Køge Municipality has helped make that possible.
“With the grant, the Danish Castle Centre – a division of Museum Southeast Denmark and Aarhus University – has worked out a unique research project seeking to explore the secrets Borgring is hiding beneath Danish soil,” the Danish Castle Centre said.
“With the use of modern archaeological methods the scientists and archaeologists will investigate how the fortresses were used, how they were organised, how quickly they were built, their age and what environment, landscape and geography they were a part of.”
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Oldest evidence of human activity found in Scotland

Archaeologists from the University of Reading have found the earliest dated evidence for human activity in Scotland - with a helping hand from a herd of pigs. 

Some of the tools found by the archaeologists  [Credit: University of Reading] 

The team made the remarkable discovery of a set of 12,000 year-old Ice Age stone tools while excavating Rubha Port an t-Seilich, on Islay in the Inner Hebrides in 2013. The tools include scrapers used for cleaning skins, sharp points likely used for hunting big game, such as reindeer, and much more. 

While the dig involved highly skilled archaeologists they have another team, or herd, to thank for the discovery. Pigs foraging along the Islay coastline uprooted Mesolithic objects in 2009 which ultimately led to the start of the excavation.

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Digitising Yorkshire's savannah past

Ancient bones from a North Yorkshire cave, including the remains of rhinos, bears and hyenas, are to go on display in a "virtual museum" more than a century after they were excavated.
Some of the bones, found in Victoria Cave in the dales, date back more than one hundred thousand years.
At that time, such beasts were common in northern England.
A team of archaeologists from the organisation DigVentures has set out digitise the site's unique collection.
The cave was discovered in 1837 when a man noticed his dog disappear through an opening in the hill, and reappear through another.

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Remains of Henry V warship believed to be buried in Hampshire

Deep in the oozing mud of the river Hamble in Hampshire, visible only at the lowest tides as a U-shaped ripple on the surface, possibly lies a ship that was one of the glories of Henry V’s navy.
Ian Friel, a historian who has devoted decades of research to Henry’s navy, believes it is the Holigost, built for the king in 1415 by recycling the hull of a captured Spanish warship, the Santa Clara.
Not an inch now shows above the surface, but Friel – whose book on Henry’s navyis published on Monday – has convinced Historic England to commission work including sonar surveys of the seabed, drone photography of the site and possibly wood sample dating.
The site is being considered for a protection order to defend it from treasure hunters, although it would have been stripped of any valuables when it was laid up.
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Friday, October 09, 2015

First ancient African genome solves migration mystery

An ancient African genome has been sequenced for the first time.
Researchers extracted DNA from a 4,500-year-old skull that was discovered in the highlands of Ethiopia.
A comparison with genetic material from today's Africans reveals how our ancient ancestors mixed and moved around the continents.
The findings, published in the journal Science, suggests that about 3,000 years ago there was a huge wave of migration from Eurasia into Africa.
This has left a genetic legacy, and the scientists believe up to 25% of the DNA of modern Africans can be traced back to this event.
"Every single population for which we have data in Africa has a sizeable component of Eurasian ancestry," said Dr Andrea Manica, from the University of Cambridge, who carried out the research.

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Saturday, October 03, 2015

Mummification was common in Bronze Age Britain

Ancient Britons may have intentionally mummified some of their dead during the Bronze Age, according to archaeologists at the University of Sheffield. 

Bronze Age skeleton from Neat's Court excavation, on Isle of Sheppey, Kent  
[Credit: Geoff Morley]

The study, published in the Antiquity Journal, is the first to provide indications that mummification may have been a wide-spread funerary practise in Britain. 

Working with colleagues from the University of Manchester and University College London, Dr Tom Booth analysed skeletons at several Bronze Age burial sites across the UK. The team from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology found that the remains of some ancient Britons are consistent with a prehistoric mummy from northern Yemen and a partially mummified body recovered from a sphagnum peat bog in County Roscommon, Ireland.

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Archaeologists in Orkney have uncovered the remains of over 30 buildings dating from around 4000 BC to 1000 BC, together with field systems, middens and cemeteries. The find includes a very rare Bronze Age building which experts believed could have been a sauna or steam house, which may have been built for ritual purposes. 

EASE Archaeology recently made the exciting discovery on the periphery of the prehistoric Links of Noltland, on the island of Westray in Orkney, next to where the famous ‘Westray Wife’ was found in 2009, which is believed to be the earliest depiction of a human face in Britain. 

The work is being funded by Historic Scotland, who are this week merging with the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) to form a new heritage body called Historic Environment Scotland. 

Work has been carried out at the Links of Noltland for several years now but the most recent discovery, and one of the most remarkable to date, is that of an almost complete and remarkably well-preserved, very rare Bronze Age building which experts believe had a very specialised function and was used by select groups for activities such as rites of passage or spiritual ceremonies.  It’s also possible that the building could have been used as a sweat house or sauna, for a number of activities ranging from basic healing and cleansing, or as a place where women could come to give birth, the sick and elderly could come to die, or where bodies were taken before burial.

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Could Cramond hold the secret of Scotland during Dark Ages?

A two-year investigation into the mystery of an Edinburgh crypt has cast important new light on the turbulent history of the Dark Ages.

The mass burial in Cramond, believed to be the oldest occupied village in Scotland, was uncovered in 1975 during an excavation of a Roman Bathhouse found at the site of a car park. Forty years later, a team led by the City of Edinburgh Council has embraced modern science to examine the remains of nine individuals found in the grave with fascinating results.

The evidence has disproved an early theory that the bodies were victims of the bubonic plague, instead dating the individuals back another 800 years to the 6th Century AD. Thanks to state-of-the-art computer programming, researchers were able to create lifelike facial representations for the 1,500 year old skeletons.

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Quand Poitiers s'appelait Limonum

L’archéologie urbaine étudie l’histoire des villes. Fouilles après fouilles, elle accumule les informations qui permettent de comprendre comment ces villes sont nées, comment elles ont évolué. Ce dossier vous invite à découvrir ce que l’on sait de Limonum pendant l’Antiquité, de la fin de l’époque gauloise à l’arrivée des Francs.

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Lewis chessmen might be Icelandic in origin

Carbon dating of walrus bones found in Snæfellsnes peninsula indicates that the bones are at least 2000 years old. A large number of walrus skulls and walrus tusks have been found around Garðafjara beach on the south coast Snæfellsnes. The first skull was discovered 1884. All in all the bones of 50 walruses have been found, most in the past 50 years. Biologists argue this indicates Snæfellsnes was the home of a sizable walrus colony prior to the settlement of Iceland. 

The Lewis Chessmen: A ferocius berserker (rook), a stern king  and a contemplative queen 
[Credit: WikiCommons] 

A previous theory, explaining the concentration of bone discoveries, speculated they came from the wreck of a ship which had been carrying walrus bones to Europe. However, the existence of a large walrus colony in Iceland would have meant the accumulation of walrus skeletons and skulls which would have been discovered by the Viking age settlers of Iceland. 

Hilmar J. Malmquist, the chief of the Icelandic Natural History Museum points out in an interview with the local newspaper Fréttablaðið that such graveyards of walrus bones could also explain references to walruses in Icelandic place names, shedding light on the possible use of walrus ivory by the early settlers of Iceland who could have had access to domestic ivory found in such bone yards.

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