Thursday, October 21, 2021

Breakthrough Discovery Shows Vikings Were Active in North America 1,000 Years Ago

Reconstruction of a Viking building near L’Anse aux Meadows. (Glenn Nagel Photography)

New archaeological evidence has allowed scientists to refine the timeline for the Viking presence in North America.

Pieces of wood scarred with cut marks have been precisely dated to the year 1021 CE – exactly 1,000 years ago – and the metal tools that made those marks were not produced by the indigenous population, according to a team of archaeologists led by the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

Vikings, however, did make and use metal tools, and were known to have settled at the archaeological site of L'Anse aux Meadows, where the wood was found.

This is the earliest and most accurate date yet not just for the European settlement of the Americas, but for circumnavigation of the globe, the researchers said, giving us a definitive reference point for understanding the global transference of knowledge, goods, and genetic information.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

When the Vikings reached the Americas

Reconstructed Viking-Age building adjacent to the site of L’Anse aux Meadows. 
Credit: Glenn Nagel Photography

New research from the Netherlands has more accurately dated a Viking settlement in Newfoundland, Canada, revealing that the seafaring people were active in North America by at least AD 1021.

Vikings are known to have sailing vast distances in their iconic longships, and forays into a mysterious foreign land out to the west were described in ancient sagas, but these stories were thought to be fantasy until the 1960s discovery of Norse buildings at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.

A new study from the University of Groningen, Netherlands, published today in the journal Nature, has revealed the most accurate dating yet of the L’Anse aux Meadows site.

In order to accurately place L’Anse aux Meadows in history, the researchers studied three pieces of wood from archaeological contexts containing Viking materials. Each piece showed clear evidence of being cut with metal, a material First Nations Americans weren’t using at that time.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Word Of Viking Settlements In North America Reached Italy 150 Years Before Columbus



Word of the Viking exploration of North America appears to have reached Genoa, Christopher Columbus's hometown in Italy, centuries before Columbus sailed. This conclusion, based on a translation of a 14th-century history raises the possibility the Viking settlements in Vinland had previously unrecognized influence on subsequent events.

Around 1345, Galvaneus Flamma, a Milanese Dominican friar, wrote a document called Cronica universalis. The original was lost, but a copy made 50 years later was rediscovered in 2013. Professor Paolo Chiesa, an expert in Medieval Latin at the University of Milan, has made a translation. In the journal Terrae Incognitae, Chiesa reports that a portion of the text refers to Markalada, west of Greenland.

Four Icelandic sagas include accounts of Markland, thought to be modern Newfoundland or Labrador.

Flamma attributes this information to Genoese sailors, and Chiesa sees this as evidence that knowledge of the Viking voyages had reached Italy 150 years before Columbus arrived in the Americas.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

The Best-Preserved Pair of Skis from Prehistory


The second Digervarden ski, completely free of ice. 
Photo: Espen Finstad, secretsoftheice.com.

We have found the best-preserved pair of skis from prehistory! Back in 2014, the Secrets of the Ice program found an exceptional pre-Viking ski, 1300 years old, at the Digervarden Ice patch in Norway. The ski was complete, including the binding – one of only two skis from prehistory in this condition. Ever since, we have monitored the ice patch, hoping and praying for the second ski of the pair to melt out. Now it has happened! The new ski is even better preserved than the first one! It is an unbelievable find.
The new discovery

It has been seven years since the discovery of the first ski at the Digervarden ice patch. We have patiently monitored the melt of the ice patch, in case the second ski of the pair should melt out. We were back in 2016 for a general survey of the ice patch, but the ice had not retreated much then. This year, we could see on satellite imagery that the ice patch had retreated compared to 2014. We decided to send out an archaeologist to check it.

Read the rest of this article...

Two men to face trial over £1m Viking hoard of coins and silver



Officers from Durham Police seized a large number of coins and a silver ingot in two raids in 2018 and 2019. The hoard contained coins of Alfred the Great of Wessex and his less well-known contemporary Ceolwulf II of Mercia.

Two men have denied charges relating to a Viking hoard of historically important coins and silver worth almost £1m.

Roger Pilling, 73, and Craig Best, 44, appeared before Durham Crown Court to plead not guilty to all charges.

They denied a charge of conspiracy to convert criminal property - Anglo-Saxon coins - between September 2018 and May 2019.

Pilling, of Loveclough, Lancashire, also denied two charges of possessing criminal property - Anglo-Saxon coins and a silver ingot.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Danish man found buried treasure from the Iron Age using a metal detector, just hours after turning it on for the first time


Gold medallions, coins, and jewelry comprise an Iron Age hoard that a rookie metal detectorist recently discovered in Denmark. Conservation Center Vejle

Ole Ginnerup Schytz had never used a metal detector before. He first gave it a shot on a former classmate's land in Vindelev, Denmark, in December.

Within hours of turning his detector on, Schytz stumbled across one of the largest treasure hoards ever found in the country.

"Well, that's the epitome of improbable luck," the rookie detectorist said in an interview with Danish outlet TV Syd earlier this month. "Denmark is 43,000 square kilometers, and then I happen to choose to put the detector exactly where this find was."

Read the rest of this article...

Tiles ‘Fit for the Emperor’ Found in Roman Ruins Beneath English Cricket Club


The letters "IMP" stand for imperator, meaning the tile maker was "supplying tiles fit for the emperor" or "on the emperor's demands." Dot Boughton

Excavation of a Roman building on the grounds of a cricket club in the northern English city of Carlisle has yielded tiles with rare imperial stamps linked to Emperor Septimius Severus, reports Ted Peskett for the News & Star.

“The Romans would quite often stamp their tiles,” says archaeologist Frank Giecco, who is leading the dig for British firm Wardell Armstrong. “The legions would stamp tiles, the auxiliaries would stamp tiles; but this is the very top of the pile. This is the imperial court stamping the tile.”

Giecco says similar tiles have previously been found “in random places” across Carlisle. Since researchers discovered the ruined bathhouse in 2017, they’ve uncovered about a dozen of the tiles there, suggesting that the others also originated at the site.

Read the rest of this article...

Viking Hygiene, Clothing, & Jewelry



Viking clothing was made of wool, linen, and animal hides, and for the wealthy, silk. Combs – which it seemed almost every Viking carried – were carved from antler, bone, ivory, and wood and often kept in their own cases. Jewelry of the upper class was fashioned from silver, gold, gemstones, and polished glass, but the lower class adorned themselves within their limits as well, using tin, lead, iron, and possibly copper. Shoes and boots were made of animal hide and without heels. Except for slaves, generally speaking, Scandinavians were well-dressed and took great pride in their personal appearance. They began each morning with a personal hygiene regimen, and Saturday was set aside for bathing and washing clothes; a practice the Anglo-Saxon chroniclers found both strange and objectionable.

Read the rest of this article...

‘Prickles down the neck’: project reveals unsung female heroes of Sutton Hoo dig


The trust believes the resulting images are among the earliest surviving colour photographs of any major archaeological dig. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

Barbara Wagstaff and Mercie Lack’s photographs of 1939 excavation left in plastic bag at National Trust

It was 12 years ago that conservator Anita Bools first laid eyes on photographs which had been left in a plastic bag at the reception of the National Trust site Sutton Hoo by a mystery donor.

She remembered they were laid out on tables for her to see and decide how important they might be. “It was one of those moments you get prickles down the back of your neck. I thought ‘my goodness … this is the genuine thing’. It almost felt like the archaeological discovery itself.”

The hundreds of images in meticulously prepared albums were from August 1939. In fascinating detail they captured the excitement of one of the most extraordinary archaeological digs in British history.

On Wednesday, the trust announced it had completed a project conserving, digitising and making the photographs taken by Barbara Wagstaff and Mercie Lack, two schoolteachers and friends with a passion for photography and archaeology, publicly available.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, September 27, 2021

Whence the White Horse of Uffington?



The White Horse of Uffington, a spectacular chalk figure on an English hillside, challenges the very idea of “heritage” as an unbroken line of descent. Made sometime between 1380 and 550 BCE by people who cut meter-deep trenches and filled them with chalk, the horse pattern should have disappeared under encroaching vegetation long ago. But it has been the work of generations to “scour” it—weeding, cleaning, and adding more chalk. It’s this tradition of scouring which so intrigues scholar Philip Schwyzer.

“Like other monuments of similar antiquity, the Horse has been the site of shifting and contested meanings,” writes Schwyzer. “Yet the White Horse is unique among such artifacts in that it has never been neglected, but has always possessed a real and active significance for the inhabitants of the immediate vicinity.”

Read the rest of this article...

Viking Map of North America Identified as 20th-Century Forgery

 It seemed too good to be true. Acquired by Yale University and publicized to great fanfare in 1965, the Vinland Map—supposedly dated to mid-15th century Europe—showed part of the coast of North America, seemingly presenting medieval Scandinavians, not Christopher Columbus, as the true “discoverers” of the New World.

The idea wasn’t exactly new. Two short Icelandic sagas relate the story of Viking expeditions to North America, including the construction of short-lived settlements, attempts at trade and ill-fated battles with Indigenous peoples on the continent’s northeastern coast. Archaeological finds made on Newfoundland in the 1960s support these accounts. But this map suggested something more: namely, that knowledge of Western lands was reasonably common in Scandinavia and central Europe, with Vikings, rather than Columbus and his Iberian backers, acting as the harbingers of the colonial age.

Read the rest of this article


Amateur divers discover 'enormously valuable' hoard of Roman coins



Two amateur free divers have found one of the largest collections of Roman coins in Europe off the east coast of Spain.

Luis Lens and César Gimeno were diving off the island of Portitxol in Xàbia on August 24 when they found eight coins, before further dives by archaeologists returned another 45 coins, according to a press release from the University of Alicante on Tuesday.
 
Scientists from the university's Institute in Archaeology and Historical Heritage then analyzed the perfectly preserved coins, dating them to between the end of the 4th century and the beginning of the 5th century.
 
The coins were in such good condition that the inscriptions were legible, allowing the team to identify coins from the reign of a number of Roman emperors.

Read the rest of this article...

Temple at Uppsala

.
Temple at Uppsala History Channel

The Temple at Uppsala was a religious center dedicated to the Norse gods Thor, Odin, and Freyr located in what is now Gamla Uppsala in Sweden. It is described by the 11th-century historian Adam of Bremen as the most significant pagan site in the region and was destroyed by the Christian King Inge the Elder c. 1080.

The site is also referenced in the Ynglinga Saga of the Heimskringla written by the Icelandic mythographer Snorri Sturluson (l. 1179-1241) and the Gesta Danorum of Saxo Grammaticus (l. c. 1160 - c. 1220). In every case, it is associated with the gods of the Norse religion and in Adam and Saxo with human sacrifice. At the time Adam was writing (c. 1070), Christianity was still contending with the old Norse beliefs for supremacy in the region, while in Saxo’s time, it was more established. Both wrote from a Christian point of view and so cast the temple and its rites in a negative light. Sturluson was recounting ancient myths for his age and so humanized the gods, making deities like Odin into great kings of the past rather than gods and so avoided having to demonize the site for a Christian audience.

Read the rest of this article..

Was 536 AD the worst year in history?


Archaeologists working in Bacho Kiro Cave earlier this year.
Image: Tsenka Tsanova, MPI-EVA Leipzig, License: CC-BY-SA 2.0

Europe was considerably colder 44,000 years ago than previously thought, according to new research. The finding is forcing a rethink about early human migration patterns and where our ancestors preferred to settle.

“The expansion of Homo sapiens across Eurasia marked a major milestone in human evolution that would eventually lead to our species being found across every continent,” write the authors of new research published today in Science Advances.

But scientists still aren’t sure how early modern humans managed to pull off this remarkable migrational trick, given considerable environmental variations around the world. The new study, co-authored by Sarah Pederzani from the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, sought to explore the climatic conditions experienced by Homo sapiens when venturing from southwest Asia to Europe.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Melting ice and a high altitude dig reveal Viking secrets in Norway

A proposed digital reconstruction of one of the ancient Viking homes,
featuring Secrets of the Ice team member Elling Utvik Wammer.
Credit: Secrets of the Ice. Illustration: Espen Finstad/Hege Vatnaland

The summer of 2011 was unusually hot for southern Norway. Where high mountain passes had been choked with snow and ice in previous years, surveyors and team members of the acclaimed Secrets of the Ice project found only jumbled talus and meltwater. Picking their way through the boulders that covered the ice-free Lendbreen pass, the crew soon realized they had walked into a vast archaeological treasure, one that had stayed frozen for a thousand years. They began to collect countless tools, artifacts and weapons—items that had once been in the possession of Vikings.

After receiving international attention for their discovery, the crew decided to return to Lendbreen this summer in search of deeper answers. Questions remained, such as what purposes had occupied these alpine travelers and where they had been traveling. In search of understanding, team members ventured across and beyond the Lendbreen pass, which over the years has revealed clothing, household items, sleds and animal remains, among other artifacts.