Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Archaeologists search for the grave of St. Edmund under tennis courts

Travellight - Shutterstock

Renovation of the Abbey Gardens tennis courts has led to an effort to study the historical site.

Amidst the celebration of the 1,000th anniversary of the foundation of the Abbey of St. Edmund in the town of Bury St. Edmund’s, an archaeological study of the grounds has led to excitement about the possible discovery of the resting place of St. Edmund, the first patron saint of England.
Aleteia’s own John Burger explains why we know so little about St. Edmund’s final resting place:

England’s former patron saint, who ruled the Anglo-Saxon realm of East Anglia between 855 and 869, is thought to have been captured and killed by Danish or Viking raiders in 869. According to the East Anglian Daily Times, his remains were kept in a shrine in Bury. But the Benedictine Abbey there was dissolved during King Henry VIII’s reign, and Edmund’s remains were lost.

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Les archéologues de l'Inrap ont mis au jour 54 fondations du pont-aqueduc qui alimentait en eau courante Segodunum, l'ancienne ville de Rodez. L'ouvrage qui a passionné les chercheurs et érudits du XIXe siècle, ensuite oublié des recherches archéologiques, a fait l'objet d'une étude approfondie, permettant de connaître son tracé, son mode et sa date de construction.

Préalablement à la réalisation du projet de parc des expositions porté par l’agglomération de Rodez, une fouille archéologique prescrite par la Drac Occitanie et réalisée par l'Inrap a permis de mettre au jour les vestiges de l’aqueduc romain de Rodez. Ce bâtiment monumental permettait d’alimenter la ville de Rodez en eau courante depuis le village de Vors. 

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

50 Roman Slaves Found Buried with ‘Care’ in England

A Roman slave burial ground has been found near what was once a great ancient villa in Britain. Many of the graves are very unusual, and they provide a glimpse into the impact of Rome on the local Briton’s culture and beliefs. This find also allows researchers to better understand the nature of slavery in Roman Britain.

The cemetery was found in Somerton, Somerset, southwest England.  The site was unearthed during the construction of a new school by workers. They alerted the relevant authorities and it was investigated by the South West Heritage Trust.  Researchers, based on the discovery of shards of pottery and coins, established that it was a Romano-British cemetery that dated back to the 1 st century AD. It was found near the outhouses of a great villa that once stood in the area.

Strange Burials
In total, some 50 Roman slave graves were unearthed, and they were very different from the burial practices that took place before the invasion. The deceased were placed in the ground with great care, in graves that were capped and sealed with slabs.  In one burial, these slabs were used to create a box-like feature, known as a cist, in which the dead person was placed before being buried. Steve Membery, who works with the South West Heritage Trust and who took part in the dig, told The Guardian that “they’ve actually built these graves. There’s been a lot of more care taken over these.”

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How to hike the world's northernmost pilgrimage trail

The St Olavsleden trail takes you across Sweden and into Norway. 
Photo: Tim Marringa

St Olavsleden is a hiking trail that runs from Sundsvall in the east of Sweden to Trondheim in the west of Norway. The historic pilgrim route has a long history that goes back to the time of the Vikings. The Local's contributor Tim Marringa gives you his best insider tips for hiking this fantastic trail.
In 2013 the old pilgrim route was restored to its former glory. The entire 580-kilometre trail was marked with distinctive red-brown signs and various stamping posts were placed along the way. The course of the trail is very diverse and lets you experience the best of Scandinavia as a hiker.

Where to start?

If you are coming from the Swedish capital, take the train to Sundsvall and buy a pilgrim passport at the local tourist office on the central square. In this passport you can receive a stamp in every special place. These are often churches or tourist offices along the way. The passport serves as proof to receive the certificate at the end and is a nice reminder of your journey.

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Rot hastens Viking ship’s excavation

Preliminary excavation work at the Viking ship site at Gjellestad was carried out late last summer. Now experts recommend a full-scale dig of the entire area. 
PHOTO: Riksantikvaren/Lene Buskoven

Archaeologists and Norway’s director of cultural heritage are calling for rapid excavation of a Viking ship found buried in a field at Gjellestad near Halden in the fall of 2018. They’ve won initial support from government officials, setting the stage for what could be the first full-scale Viking ship excavation in Norway for 114 years. 

“A Viking ship is so important for Norwegian history, and we have an international responsibility here,” said Ola Elvestuen, government minister in charge of culture and the environment, just after test results from the site were presented on Friday. They were extracted during careful and preliminary digging around the vessel in August and September of last year.

Samples from the so-called “Gjellestad-ship’s” keel found last year have revealed signs of mildew or dry rot, indicating that the vessel could rapidly deteriorate if left in the ground. The overall condition of the ship was described as poor.

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Roman Coin Found in Northern Norway May Redraw Historic Trade Map

The Roman coin was found only 15 centimetres deep in the soil; it dates back to the time of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and is the northernmost find of its kind, signalling that trade contacts in the area date back to the Iron Age.

In just a few days, hobby archaeologist Ben-Harry Johansen found a 2,000-year-old coin and a richly decorated 1,000-year-old Viking sword at Våg in the municipality of Dønna on the Helgeland coast, national broadcaster NRK reported.

“The coin lay only 15 centimetres into the earth, in the so-called plough layer, where people with metal detectors are allowed to search,” Ben-Harry Johansen recalled with excitement.

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Council calls for archaeological digs before former Notcutts plans move forward

Plans have been submitted to develop the former Notcutts site in Ardleigh into a horse stable centre Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Essex County Council has called on developers at a former Notcutts site to allow archeological work to be undertaken in the hopes of finding prehistoric treasures.

No stranger to rich finds under the soil, the village of Ardleigh in north Essex has been found to be built above prehistoric, bronze age, Roman and Anglo Saxon settlements.

In the 1950s, a bronze age cemetery was also found by local farmer Felix Erith.

And now, as plans have been unveiled for part of the former garden centre, the local authority's historic environment officer Teresa O'Connor has recommended a team of archaeologists should carry out works in the hopes of finding more artefacts.

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Ancient Roman Walls Damaged During Luxury Hotel Construction

Private developers building luxury hotel apartments in England are being taken to task for their part in the collapse of an ancient Roman City wall in Chester, an iconic feature of the city.

The ancient walls of Chester, on the River Dee in England close to the border with Wales, were first built by the Romans between 70 and 80AD. On Thursday night, while private developers Walker and Williams were building luxury apartments, part of the 2000-year-old structure collapsed and the crumbled section of the ancient monument, near Newgate Street, Chester, fell after developers compromised the integrity of the ancient monument.

An Iconic Ancient Monument
According to an article on Chester's Historic Walls the walls comprise “the most complete Roman and medieval defensive town wall system in Britain” and the entire circuit of the walls, together with the towers and gates, is recognized by Historic England as a Scheduled Monument. What’s more, almost every section of the wall is scheduled in the  National Heritage List for England  as a designated Grade I listed building, regarded by the Secretary of State to be of ‘national importance.’

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Archaeologists in Poland were stunned to discover the skeletal remains of four Scandinavian warriors many hundreds of miles from their homeland.

Two of the graves containing the remains of Scandinavian warriors
[Credit: Z. Ratajczyk, PAP]

Archaeologists in Poland were stunned to discover the skeletal remains of four Scandinavian warriors many hundreds of miles from their homeland.

The 11th-century remains were discovered at a peculiar burial site dubbed by the archaeologists a death house. A chemical and genetic analysis of the remains found the four men were from Scandinavia, most likely from Denmark.

According to Dr Sławomir Wadyl of the Gdańsk Archeological Museum, the warriors were buried alongside a plethora of trinkets and armaments.

The archaeologist told the Polish Press Agency (PAP): “In the central part of the cemetery, there were four very well-equipped chamber graves.

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

‘Most dramatic find!’ How archaeologist uncovered ancient Roman battleground ‘massacre’

The discovery was made at Maiden Castle (Image: YOUTUBE)

AN ARCHAEOLOGIST uncovered what he believed to be the remains of a Roman massacre of Britons in Dorset, describing it as his “most dramatic find”.

Archaeologist Francis Pryor visited the site during his “Britain BC” series, where he explained the area in more detail.

He said in 2011: “This was a place where things happened, where communities met. Land had acquired a new meaning to ancient Britain and these patches of common land, packed with ancestral bones, became magic.

“What began as a celebration of a new relationship with land became a way of life. 

“The people who constructed the hill fort thousands of years later knew they were building on a sacred place.

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Treasure trove of medieval history rises from the ashes of Notre Dame

The fire last April exposed parts of the building that have never been studied

Nine months after it was engulfed in a fire that shocked the world, the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris has become a “gigantic laboratory for archaeology.”

More than 100 researchers, including archaeologists, engineers, historians and chemists, have started a lengthy study of the medieval structure and thousands of pieces of charred debris.

Their goal is to unravel secrets not only of the cathedral’s construction in the 12th-14th centuries but also the earlier buildings on the site and gothic architecture more widely. The multimillion-euro joint project by the French national research organisation CNRS and the Ministry of Culture will go on for six years, but initial findings are already rewriting the cathedral’s story.

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Saturday, January 18, 2020

2 Viking age swords unearthed in Ciepłe, northern Poland

N.B. There are further images, but no text on this site.

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The real Vikings: the early medieval world behind the hit drama

The exploits of Norse warrior Ragnar Lothbrok and his kin in hit TV drama Vikings has brought fresh interest to the myths and figures of the early medieval world. As the final series continues, Professor Howard Williams explores how the show’s sweeping ambition has tackled historical issues of the Viking era while creating an immersive world – one with more reality than you might think…

From 2013 to the sixth and final series, now airing, History Channel’s Vikings has brought a hit multi-season historical drama about the early Viking world to international audiences. Following the adventures of the legendary figure Ragnar Lothbrok (or Loðbrók) and his sons including Bjorn, Ubba and Ivar, writer Michael Hirst portrays a 9th-century world of seaborne conflict, far-flung connections and family feuding on an unprecedented scale. Despite numerous films over the years, occasional documentaries and an ongoing rival BBC drama series The Last Kingdom, nothing can compare in scale and duration to Vikings in bringing the early medieval world to global television viewers.

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Roman-Era Trade Center Mapped Off Africa’s Northern Coast

A magnetometer survey in Djerba, an island off the coast of Tunisia, has mapped the site of the ancient commercial center of Meninx, according to a statement released by Ludwig Maximilian University. The city was founded in the fourth century B.C., and became a trade power between the first and third centuries A.D. Archaeologist Stefan Ritter and his colleagues investigated the city’s well-protected port, which had a wide, deep channel in its shallow bay, wooden and stone quays, and warehouses for storing goods. The survey also revealed that the city’s streets ran parallel to the island’s coastline. Ritter said he and his colleagues carried out some excavations, and uncovered a private bathhouse with mosaic floors, wall paintings, and statuary. New evidence suggests that the purple dye produced by the city’s residents from the sea snail Murex trunculus was not exported as a raw material, but rather used at Meninx to dye textiles for export. To read about the discovery of a submerged Roman mercantile city, go to "World Roundup: Tunisia."

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Dans la commune de Bastia, les archéologues de l’Inrap ont révélé les vestiges de deux maisons datant de la fin de l’Antiquité (IVe-VIe siècle de notre ère), un témoignage très rare pour la période qui permet d’approfondir les connaissances sur l’occupation antique de la Corse. 

Préalablement à la construction d’un habitat résidentiel, la prescription d’une fouille archéologique par les services de l’État (Drac de Corse) a permis de mettre au jour un ensemble de vestiges antiques remarquables dans la commune de Bastia. Ces travaux sont pris en charge à 100 % par l’État par le biais du fonds national pour l’archéologie préventive (Fnap).

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Confirmed: Norway’s Gjellestad Ship Is From The Viking Age

The Gjellestad ship grave was discovered by georadar survey in 2018.
Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research

Archaeologists from Norway’s Museum of Cultural History have confirmed that the Gjellestad Viking ship grave discovery in southeast Norway is almost certainly from the early days of the Viking age.

The 2018 discovery by the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) made headlines around the world. Several longhouses and at least one ship burial were discovered by new ground-penetrating radar (GPR) technology. While the site was known to be of importance during the Viking era, the dating of the ship had been an educated guess, until now.

Dating a Viking ship grave

“The investigations happily confirm our hypothesis from 2018, when we found the ship by ground-penetrating radar (GPR),” said Knut Paasche, head of Digital Archaeology at NIKU.

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Chester's Roman wall collapses after digging work

The council said it was taking the collapse "very seriously"

Cheshire West and Chester Council said a section of the wall fell on Thursday evening, causing the development to be suspended.

"Early indications appear to show that earth was removed from the bottom of the city walls," a spokesman said.

Chester MP Chris Matheson claimed the developers had received safety warnings about digging so close to the wall.

Chester is the only city in Britain that retains the full circuit of its ancient defensive walls.

The city walls, parts of which are almost 2,000 years old, are the oldest, longest and most complete in Britain, according to Visit Cheshire.

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UK museums may have to follow 'decolonisation' checklist

Arts Council England has called on experts to draw up new guidelines to address sacred and significant objects like the Parthenon Marbles and Rosetta Stone  

British museums will be asked to assess their collections with a new "decolonising" checklist to ease the repatriation of cultural treasures, and could face financial repercussions if they fail to do so.

Arts Council England has called on experts to draw up new guidelines to address sacred and significant objects like the Parthenon Marbles and Rosetta Stone, which have long provoked pleas for repatriation from aggrieved nations after being seized in the age of empire.

The Government-backed body already requires its portfolio organisations to follow protocols on diversity in order to receive funding, so could demand institutions adhere to its planned credo on colonialism.

It is hoped the checklist would be followed by all UK museums and fill a gap in guidance, but the Arts Council said it was “too soon” to say there would be a financial impact for the organisations it funds.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Neanderthals went underwater for their tools

Clam shells (stock image).
Credit: © Vatchara / Adobe Stock

Neanderthals collected clam shells and volcanic rock from the beach and coastal waters of Italy during the Middle Paleolithic, according to a new study.

Neanderthals collected clam shells and volcanic rock from the beach and coastal waters of Italy during the Middle Paleolithic, according to a study published January 15, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Paola Villa of the University of Colorado and colleagues.

Neanderthals are known to have used tools, but the extent to which they were able to exploit coastal resources has been questioned. In this study, Villa and colleagues explored artifacts from the Neanderthal archaeological cave site of Grotta dei Moscerini in Italy, one of two Neanderthal sites in the country with an abundance of hand-modified clam shells, dating back to around 100,000 years ago.

The authors examined 171 modified shells, most of which had to be retouched to be used as scrapers. All of these shells belonged to the Mediterranean smooth clam species Callista chione. Based on the state of preservation of the shells, including shell damage and encrustation on the shells by marine organisms, the authors inferred that nearly a quarter of the shells had been collected underwater from the sea floor, as live animals, as opposed to being washed up on the beach. In the same cave sediments, the authors also found abundant pumice stones likely used as abrading tools, which apparently drifted via sea currents from erupting volcanoes in the Gulf of Naples (70km south) onto the Moscerini beach, where they were collected by Neanderthals.

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Arctic island woolly mammoth shows strongest evidence yet of human slaughter and butchering

The extinct mammoth remains were dated by radiocarbon analysis to 21,000 years of age by the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo. Picture: Albert Protopopov

Ancient men cut all the meat, severed the trunk, removed the brain and pulled out bone marrow from all the limbs.

The Kotelny island woolly mammoth was killed by humans some 21,000 years ago, say scientists. 

Dr Albert Protopopov shared new pictures of the remains found at a location which was then part of the vast Beringia Land Bridge connecting what is now Siberia and North America.

'The traces on the bones show that the mammoth was killed and butchered by ancient people,' he said.

'I believe no other mammoth previously found in the world had such clear signs of being hunted by humans.'

'We found cuts all over its ribs, there were traces of spear strikes with chips left from the darts.'

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Always counterclockwise


Human behaviour is influenced by many things, most of which remain unconscious to us. One of these is a phenomenon known among perception psychologists as "pseudo-neglect". This refers to the observation that healthy people prefer their left visual field to their right and therefore devide a line regularly left of centre.

A study published on Friday, January 10, in the online magazine PLOS ONE now shows for the first time what effect this inconspicuous deviation had in the prehistoric past. A Slovak-German research team has investigated the alignment of early Neolithic houses in Central and Eastern Europe. Scientists of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) "Scales of Transformation" of Kiel University (CAU) and the Slovakian Academy of Sciences were able to prove that the orientation of newly built houses deviated by a small amount from that of existing buildings and that this deviation was regularly counterclockwise.

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Gladiator chamber found at the Roman amphitheatre in Cartagena

Credit: Ayuntamiento de Cartagena

As excavation continues at the Roman amphitheatre in Cartagena, a large part of which lies beneath the 19 century bullring, archaeologists have found various fragments of ceramics and an ossuary ground during their dig prior to work to shore up the exterior walls.

This preliminary campaign has now ended and the next phase will be to reinforce the bull ring and the amphitheatre, a project which is co-financed by the Town Hall and the national Ministry of Development.

The campaign began in December and has included the full documentation of all of the structures of the amphitheatre, during which another 'carcer' or service room has come to light: these rooms were used to hold gladiators and animals captive before they were released to do battle in the arena itself.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The advanced toolmakers of Olduvai Gorge

Olduvai Gorge is one of the world's most important sites for human origins research.

As far back as the Early Stone Age people were engineering stone tools in complex ways to ensure they were right for the job, according to new research in Tanzania’s famous Olduvai Gorge.

Mechanical testing of raw materials and artefacts by British and Spanish scientists has revealed that Palaeolithic hominins selected different raw materials for different tools based on how sharp, durable and efficient they were.

They made these decisions in conjunction with information about the length of time the tools would be used for and the force with which they could be applied.

This, the researchers say, reveals previously unseen complexity in the design and production of stone tools during this period.

The research, which employed experimental methods more commonly used in modern engineering, was led by anthropologist Alastair Key from the University of Kent, UK, and is described in the journal Royal Society Interface.

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Divers to retrieve Bronze Age artefacts from Swiss lake

Erosion is causing the piles to topple and wash away 
[Credit: Archaologischer Dienst des Kantons Bern, Daniel Steffen]

Archaeologists are diving into Switzerland’s Lake Thun to rescue the remains of Bronze Age pile dwellings before they wash away.

According to canton Bern’s education and culture authorities, the 3,500-year-old settlement is endangered by erosion and likely to disappear soon. From January through March, the divers will be working in front of Schadau Castle.

Initial investigations revealed that the northern area of the site was in a worrying condition. The last remains of the pile dwellings now lie unprotected at the bottom of the lake. The erosion, which washes away up to 50cm of sediment per year, is caused by the strong natural current of the Aare river as well as boat traffic.

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How 3,500-year-old ‘entrance to another world' was uncovered near Peterborough

Archaeologist made a bizarre discovery (Image: YOUTUBE)

AN ARCHAEOLOGIST was stunned when he uncovered a 3,500-year-old “entrance to another world” while excavating what he believed to be an old Roman road in Peterborough.

Dr Francis Pryor was working at Flag Fen, which has now been identified as a Bronze Age site, when he noticed timber wood buried in the ground. The leading archaeologist quickly called in a team to excavate the area, who exposed more than 60,000 timbers arranged in a very long row. Experts determined that they were part of a wooden causeway across the wet fenland, but Dr Pryor believes they represent much more.

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À Allonnes, les archéologues de l'Inrap ont découvert une importante agglomération gauloise du IIe-Ier siècle avant notre ère, et son sanctuaire, une découverte exceptionnelle à l'échelle de l'Europe celtique.

Suite à une prescription de la Drac ​Pays de la Loire, une importante fouille d’archéologie préventive vient de s’achever à Allonnes (Maine-et-Loire), rue Charles Baudelaire, au lieu-dit Le Tertre. Les archéologues de l’Inrap ont mis au jour de nombreux vestiges d’une agglomération gauloise fondée au IIe siècle avant notre ère et de son complexe cultuel, une découverte remarquable, non seulement à l’échelle de la région mais aussi à l’échelle de l’Europe celtique. L’opération qui a exigé onze mois d’étude et un arrêté de découverte exceptionnelle de la Drac Pays de la Loire a livré un nombre considérable d’informations sur le passé de la commune.

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Notre Dame in Paris: 3D-Daten für den Wiederaufbau

Ausschnitt des Südportals am Querhaus der Kathedrale von Notre Dame als CAD-Umzeichnung. Quelle: Angel Menargues/Ruth Tenschert/Universität Bamberg

Universität Bamberg hat mit französischer Forschungsorganisation einen umfangreichen Kooperationsvertrag unterzeichnet

Die Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, die französische Forschungsorganisation »Centre national de la recherche scientifique« (CNRS) und das französische Ministerium für Kultur haben einen Vertrag über die Beteiligung der Bamberger Kunstgeschichte in der Initiative »Chantier Notre-Dame« unterzeichnet. In dieser Initiative bringt das CNRS Expertinnen und Experten aus verschiedenen Fachbereichen zusammen, um eine wissenschaftliche Grundlage für den Wiederaufbau der Kathedrale Notre Dame zu schaffen. Das Wahrzeichen von Paris war am 15. April 2019 in Brand geraten und teilweise zerstört worden.

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1,000 ancient woodlands at risk of destruction by projects like HS2, conservationists warn

A fallen Silver Birch tree at Moseley Bog, an ancient woodland in Birmingham ( Getty )

More than 1,000 ancient woodlands are at risk of damage or destruction from development, the Woodland Trust has warned.

Figures from the charity show it is aware of 1,064 ancient woods at risk from housing, infrastructure and other developments.

It is the highest number of woods at risk since the Trust started compiling data in 1999, and the first time it has topped the 1,000 mark.

Of the cases the Trust has identified, 801 are live planning applications, while the remaining 263 are included in council site allocation plans for areas outlined for future development such as housing or business.

The Woodland Trust says the rise in threatened woods is down to a growing number of road and rail infrastructure projects such as HS2, as well as a lack of awareness over changes to planning rules that strengthen protection for ancient woodlands and trees against inappropriate development.

It also warns that ancient woods – those where woodland has been in existence since at least 1600 in England and Wales and 1750 in Scotland – face other threats alongside development. 

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Unexpected Cemetery Found in Central Trondheim

One of the fourteen individual graves. Photo: NIKU

During the archaeological excavations in Kjøpmannsgata in the summer, somewhat unexpected traces of a large cemetery from the Middle Ages appeared.

Throughout 2019, excavation work has been taking place in connection with new construction projects in Kjøpmannsgata. As with all new builds in Norway, an archaeological examination of the site in central Trondheim has taken place.

The surprising finds continue
An unelected cemetery has been the highlight of the work so far. It’s surprising not only for its location, but for its size. To date, 15 individual graves and three pit graves have been found.

Heads were turned last summer when one of these pits was uncovered. It contained the human remains of an estimated 200 people. It is believed these remains were excavated from other cemeteries and reburied here during development work sometime in the 17th century. Two more pit graves have since been found.

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Oldest known city view of Venice discovered

Image of Venice supplied by the Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, II.IV.101, fol. 1v. 
With permission of the Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali e per il turismo 
[Credit: Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Florence]

A researcher from the University of St Andrews has unearthed the oldest known city view of Venice, dating from the 14th century.

The discovery, by Dr. Sandra Toffolo from the School of History, was made during research for her monograph “Describing the City, Describing the State. Representations of Venice and the Venetian Terraferma in the Renaissance,” which will be published in early 2020.

The image is part of a manuscript containing the travel account of Niccolò da Poggibonsi, an Italian pilgrim who traveled to Jerusalem in 1346-1350. The manuscript was likely made shortly after he returned to Italy in 1350. During his pilgrimage, Niccolò passed through Venice and his description of the city is accompanied by a pen drawing of Venice.

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

New evidence reveals what inspired ancient stone circles on Isle of Lewis

The Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis. Picture: Contributed

A massive lightning strike which hit the Isle of Lewis more than 3,000 years ago may have inspired ancient civilisations to build stone circles, academics believe.
Scientists studying a prehistoric stone circle on the Outer Hebrides island discovered evidence of a lightning strike on a nearby site where a circle had been hidden beneath a peat bog.

Just one stone remained standing at the site, known as Site XI or Airigh na Beinne Bige, which overlooks the main stone circle, Tursachan Chalanais, at Calanais on the Isle of Lewis.

But it is believed that the single stone was once part of a circle of standing stones, and that a massive star-shaped 'magnetic anomaly' in the centre signified where it had been struck by lightning.

Scientists from the University of St Andrews and the University of Bradford plan to extend their research to surrounding areas which have been flooded by rising sea levels.

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Medieval and Roman artefacts discovered in ancient port city of Caesarea

Aerial view of the Caesarea dig site [Credit: Vanderbilt University]

Over the past two years, Vanderbilt researchers and students working at the ancient port city of Caesarea, on the north coast of modern-day Israel, have unearthed tantalizing clues to life in the city during the medieval Islamic period as well as the best-preserved remains yet discovered of Herod the Great’s Temple of Rome and Augustus. These finds shed light on an oft-overlooked period in Mediterranean history and give scholars a fresh look at a world-famous monument destroyed long ago.

Under the direction of Joseph Rife, director and associate professor of classical and Mediterranean studies, and Phillip Lieberman, associate professor of Jewish Studies and Classical and Mediterranean Studies, an international team of Vanderbilt students, staff, faculty and archaeological specialists have been excavating a 900-square-meter section of the ancient and medieval port city during the Maymester sessions of 2018 and 2019. They work at the site, which is a national park, in collaboration with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Home to the mercantile elite

“Caesarea is one of the most important sites in the region, dating back to antiquity,” said Lieberman. “It was a huge, cosmopolitan trading center, on par with medieval Baghdad and Damascus and, before that, ancient Alexandria and Antioch.”

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À Angers, une équipe de l’Inrap a fouillé les vestiges de deux bâtiments élitaires du second Moyen Âge, qui longeaient à l’origine la rive de la Maine.

Boulevard Anceray, à Angers, en amont de travaux d’aménagement du campus des Arts et Métiers (Ensam) , une équipe de l’Inrap a fouillé une surface de 384 m² et mis au jour les vestiges de deux habitats élitaires, construits entre l’abbaye du Ronceray (XIe siècle) et la rivière. L’un, daté des XIIe-XIIIe siècle, est le manoir de Voûte-Coton, l’autre, daté des XIVe-XVe siècle, est le logis de Bellebranche. Tout en étant représentatifs des grands phénomènes d’urbanisation au Moyen Âge, ces deux édifices imposants témoignent de la colonisation de la rive droite de la Maine et offrent une intéressante fenêtre d’observation sur les habitudes de vie de la population jusqu’à la période moderne.

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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Viking Colonies Collapsed Through Over Hunting Walruses

The mysterious disappearance of Greenland's Norse colonies sometime in the 15th century may have been down to the overexploitation of walrus populations for their tusks, according to a study of medieval artifacts from across Europe.

Founded by Erik the Red around 985 AD after his exile from Iceland (or so the Sagas tell us), Norse communities in Greenland thrived for centuries - even gaining a bishop - before vanishing in the 1400s, leaving only ruins.

An Economy Built on Walrus Ivory

Latest research from the universities of Cambridge, Oslo, and Trondheim has found that, for hundreds of years, almost all ivory traded across Europe came from walruses hunted in seas only accessible via Norse settlements in south-western Greenland.

Walrus ivory was a valuable medieval commodity, used to carve luxury items such as ornate crucifixes or pieces for games like chess and Viking favorite hnefatafl. The famous Lewis chessmen are made of walrus tusk.

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Large scale feasts at ancient capital of Ulster drew crowds from across Iron Age Ireland

One of the analysed pig jaws for the study. Credit: Dr Richard Madgwick
People transported animals over huge distances for mass gatherings at one of Ireland's most iconic archaeological sites, research concludes.

Dr. Richard Madgwick of Cardiff University led the study, which analysed the bones of 35 animals excavated from Navan Fort, the legendary capital of Ulster. Researchers from Queen's University Belfast, Memorial University Newfoundland and the British Geological Survey were also involved in the research.

The site had long been considered a centre for ritual gatherings, as excavations found a huge 40m diameter building and a barbary ape cranium, likely from at least as far as Iberia. Results suggest the pigs, cattle and sheep were brought from across Ireland, perhaps being reared as far afield as Galway, Donegal, Down, Tyrone and Antrim. Evidence suggests some were brought over more than 100 miles.

Dr. Madgwick, based in Cardiff University's School of History, Archaeology and Religion, said: "Our results provide clear evidence that communities in Iron Age Ireland were very mobile and that livestock were also moved over greater distances than was previously thought.

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Viking runestone linked to fears of climate change: study

Credit: University of Gothenburg

One of the world's most famous runestones is now believed to have been erected by Vikings fearing a repeat of a previous cold climate crisis in Scandinavia, a new study said Wednesday.

The Rok stone, raised in the ninth century near the lake Vattern in south central Sweden, bears the longest runic inscription in the world with more than 700 runes covering its five sides.

It is believed to have been erected as a memorial to a dead son, but the exact meaning of the text has remained elusive, as parts are missing and it contains different writing forms.

The stone refers to the heroic acts of "Theodoric," which some scholars believe refers to Theodoric the Great, a sixth century ruler of the Ostrogoths in what is now Italy.

Researchers at three Swedish universities now suspect the inscriptions are more of an allusion to an impending period of extreme winter, as the person who erected the stone tried to put their child's death into a larger perspective.

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The Vikings erected runestone out of fear of climate catastrophe

Credit: University of Gothenburg

Several passages on the Rok stone – the world’s most famous Viking Age runic monument – suggest that the inscription is about battles and for over a hundred years, researchers have been trying to connect the inscription with heroic deeds in war. Now, thanks to an interdisciplinary research project, a new interpretation of the inscription is being presented. The study shows that the inscription deals with an entirely different kind of battle: the conflict between light and darkness, warmth and cold, life and death.

The Rok runestone, erected in Ostergotland around 800 CE, is the world's most famous runestone from the Viking Age, but has also proven to be one of the most difficult to interpret. This new interpretation is based on a collaboration between researchers from several disciplines and universities.

“The key to unlocking the inscription was the interdisciplinary approach. Without these collaborations between textual analysis, archaeology, history of religions and runology, it would have been impossible to solve the riddles of the Rok runestone,” says Per Holmberg, professor in Swedish at the University of Gothenburg, who led the study.

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Melton Mowbray building site bones date back to 7th Century

The bones were discovered on a building site in Melton Mowbray

Human bones found on a building site have been found to date back to the 7th Century.

Police were called and construction was stopped when the remains were discovered off Scalford Road in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, in October.

A forensic examination was carried out to determine how long the bones had been in the ground.

Carbon dating has dated them to 635 to 685 AD. They have now been handed over to an archaeology firm.

The bones were found at a site during the construction of a new retirement village.

Leicestershire Police said the bones are being passed to Cotswold Archaeology Ltd "for further research to be carried out into the finding".

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Padlock among finds made at Lair of Glenshee Pictish homestead

A reconstruction of the homestead in Glenshee

An early Medieval padlock was among the finds made by archaeologists at a Pictish settlement in Perthshire.

Lair in Glenshee was the location of a Pictish homestead with turf-roofed stone and timber buildings dating to around 500 to 1000 AD.

Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust, supported by other organisations, has spent five years excavating the site.

Archaeologists believe the padlock was used to keep valuables and personal belongings safe.

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Roman cemetery found at Somerton new school site

An adult woman skeleton was unearthed in the excavation

The skeletal remains of 50 adults and children from the Roman period have been unearthed in Somerset where a new school is being built.

The graves date from the Roman period 43-410 AD and also include items buried with them such as pottery and brooches.

South West Heritage Trust archaeologist Steve Membery said: "The individuals were evidently of some status in native society."

The new school in Somerton will replace King Ina Junior and Infants' schools.

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Historic England: 10 English archaeological finds of the decade


The remains of a Shakespearean theatre, 17th Century shipwreck and bones of Britain's first rabbit have been named among the top 10 archaeological finds of the last decade in England.

Historic England drew up the list to mark the imminent arrival of 2020.

Chief executive Duncan Wilson said: "This has been a truly remarkable decade of landmark archaeological discoveries.

"The past never ceases to amaze us and there is always more to learn."

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The Iceman from British Columbia

The knife with its sheath

Human remains from the ice have always received a lot of public interest. Almost everyone has heard about Ötzi, the 5200-year-old iceman from the Tyrolean Alps. But have you heard about Kwäday Dän Ts’inchi – the Iceman from British Columbia? If not, you are seriously missing out on one of the most fascinating finds from the ice.

The discovery
August 1999. It had been the hottest year on record in British Columbia, Canada, and the glacial ice was melting fast. Three hunters were looking for Dall’s Sheep in the remote mountains of the Tatshenshini-Alsek Park. On approaching a glacier, they could see something lying on the ice. Closer inspection revealed it to be an animal skin. Near it, they discovered a gruesome sight – a human pelvic bone, with attached legs disappearing into the ice. Checking the ice around the find spot, they also made other discoveries, including a small object with a wooden handle, still in its sheath.

The hunters took along a few of the artifacts for proof of the find, but otherwise had the good sense not to disturb the site. If only Ötzi the Iceman had been treated in such a gentle way (read more here). Once the hunters had hiked out from the park, they immediately contacted the archaeological authorities. The archaeologists naturally became very excited when they heard about the human remains and the artifacts. The small object with a wooden handle, brought along by the hunters, turned out to be a knife.

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Immer im Uhrzeigersinn: Rätsel frühneolithischer Hausausrichtungen gelöst

Frühneolithische Häuser während der Ausgrabung. Foto: N. Müller-Scheeßel

Menschliches Verhalten wird von vielen Dingen beeinflusst, die uns meist unbewusst bleiben. Dazu gehört ein Phänomen, das unter Wahrnehmungspsychologen unter dem Begriff »Pseudoneglect« bekannt ist. Damit bezeichnen sie die Beobachtung, dass gesunde Menschen ihr linkes Gesichtsfeld gegenüber dem rechten bevorzugen und deshalb eine Linie regelhaft links der Mitte teilen. Eine heute in der Online-Zeitschrift PLOS ONE veröffentlichte Studie zeigt nun erstmals, welchen Effekt diese unscheinbare Abweichung in der prähistorischen Vergangenheit hatte.

Ein slowakisch-deutsches Forschungsteam hat die Ausrichtung frühneolithischer Häuser in Mittel- und Osteuropa untersucht. Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern des Sonderforschungsbereiches (SFB) »TransformationsDimensionen« der Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel (CAU) und der Slowakischen Akademie der Wissenschaften gelang dabei der Nachweis, dass die Orientierung neu gebauter Häuser um einen kleinen Betrag von derjenigen bereits bestehender Bauwerke abweicht und dass diese Abweichung regelhaft gegen den Uhrzeigersinn erfolgte.

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