Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2,300-year-old false tooth removed in northern France

Iron implant is same size and shape as incisors found with Celtic woman's remains – and was likely added after death

An iron false tooth found with real teeth at a Celtic grave at Le Chene, France. The implant is the oldest of its kind so far discovered in western Europe. 
Photograph: Antiquity Publications Ltd

An iron tooth implant fitted about 2,300 years ago has been found in the grave of a young woman in northern France. Archaeologists believe it may have been fitted to beautify her corpse, as it would have been too excruciating to have had it hammered into the living jaw.

The corroded piece of metal is the same size and shape as the other incisors from her upper jaw – which did not survive as the timber tomb collapsed and crushed her skull – and its appearance may originally have been improved by a wooden or ivory covering.

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Decoding Anglo-Saxon art

Silver-gilt square-headed brooch from Grave 22, Chessell Down, Isle of Wight. Early Anglo-Saxon, early 6th century AD

One of the most enjoyable things about working with the British Museum’s Anglo-Saxon collection is having the opportunity to study the intricate designs of the many brooches, buckles, and other pieces of decorative metalwork. This is because in Anglo-Saxon art there is always more than meets the eye.
The objects invite careful contemplation, and you can find yourself spending hours puzzling over their designs, finding new beasts and images. The dense animal patterns that cover many Anglo-Saxon objects are not just pretty decoration; they have multi-layered symbolic meanings and tell stories. Anglo-Saxons, who had a love of riddles and puzzles of all kinds, would have been able to ‘read’ the stories embedded in the decoration. But for us it is trickier as we are not fluent in the language of Anglo-Saxon art.
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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Maryport Roman Settlement Excavation Yields New Finds

The Hadrian's Wall Trust's research and community archaeology project at the Maryport Roman settlement - directed by Oxford Archaeology North and funded by philanthropist Christian Levett - is revealing new evidence and raising more questions about this internationally famous site.

Site director John Zant said: "We're piecing together the complex story of the site over at least a couple of hundred years from around AD 100 to AD 300.

"From our work so far it's possible there may be an earlier fort than the remains we can see in the next field, and possibly even a lost Roman harbour to the north of the present day harbour.

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Iron Age settlement unearthed at building site

A small Iron Age settlement has been found during excavations at the site of a new housing development near Swindon. 

Further digging at Ridgeway Farm is expected to continue for up to three weeks  

[Credit: Taylor Wimpey/BBC] 

A number of "round houses" with hundreds of pits for storage are among the discoveries at Ridgeway Farm, where Taylor Wimpey is building 700 homes. 

Other items found include loom weights for weaving, quern stones for grinding corn and various personal items.

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Richard III reburial court bid fails

Distant relatives of King Richard III have lost their High Court battle over where his remains should be reburied.
His remains were found in a Leicester car park in 2012 and the city's cathedral was lined up for his tomb, but some wanted him reburied in York.
But a group claiming descent from the king's wider family were granted a judicial review, arguing more views should have been taken into account.
Judges at the High Court said there was "no duty to consult".
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Nottingham: The city where they keep finding caves

Rock Cottage is built into Nottingham Castle's wall (top left) as is Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (bottom left); Mortimer's Hole (right) is a popular tourist destination

Nottingham's 544 caves have been used as everything from dungeons to bomb shelters throughout history but 100 of them were only discovered in the past four years. Take a look at how many of the caverns are still in use today.

In 1330, the young King Edward III and a group of conspirators crept through a secret tunnel into the city's castle and took prisoner Roger de Mortimer, a nobleman who had until then effectively been England's ruler.
The tunnel later became known as Mortimer's Hole but this daring coup was made possible by the city's network of man-made caves within the sandstone rock.
The caves appear to have existed for as long as Nottingham and as far back as 868, a Welsh monk named Asser referred to the settlement as Tig Guocobauc, which means "house" or "place of caves".
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Skeleton executed by sword blows to head poses questions on Norman Conquest

A potentially groundbreaking discovery has been announced as part of the 750th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Lewes in Sussex
© Courtesy Sussex Archaeological Society

An unusual set of battlefield burials have led to the skeleton of the first ever human discovery directly related to the 11th century Norman Conquest

A brutally-murdered man, executed by six sword blows to the back of the skull during a vicious 11th century battle on hospital grounds in Sussex, is compelling archaeologists to reconsider Norman war burials after becoming the first ever skeleton to be related to the 1066 invasion.

Originally discovered during a dig at a former medieval hospital more than 20 years ago, the individual has been carbon dated to within 28 years of 1063.

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GIS technology verifies Caesar and Helvetii history

According to Caesar, more than a quarter of a million Helvetii were settled in the Swiss plateau before they decided to abandon their territory and invade Gaul in 58 BCE.

According to Caesar, more than a quarter of a million Helvetii were settled in the Swiss plateau before they decided to abandon their territory and invade Gaul in 58 BCE

AN INTERNATIONAL team is using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) modelling to assess Julius Caesar’s account of his war with a Celtic tribe.
According to Caesar, more than a quarter of a million Helvetii were settled in the Swiss plateau before they decided to abandon their territory and invade Gaul in 58 BCE.
In his Gallic Wars he says the Helvitii were running out of food.
UWA archaeologist Tom Whitley is developing a GIS model to test Caesar’s population estimate and is testing geophysical techniques to see if they can detect signs of the migration and war.
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7,000-year-old cave paintings found in Spain

Archaeologists in eastern Spain have discovered 12 prehistoric rock paintings depicting hunting scenes from 7,000 years ago. 

The site's location is being kept a secret until the necessary security  precautions are in place [Credit: Vilafranca Town Hall] Town hall representatives in the Valencian municipality of Vilafranca announced the finding on Tuesday, the first of its kind and importance for many years in the region. 

Although archaeologists are still searching the area for more rock paintings, their work has already unveiled detailed depictions of prehistoric hunting; including bulls, goats and archers chasing them down.

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Mit dem Multicopter auf archäologischer Spurensuche

»Unmanned Aerial Vehicle« (UAV), hier ein Hexacopter, im Einsatz. 
Foto: AlejandroLinaresGarcia, CC-BY-SA

Der Einsatz von unbemannten Luftfahrzeugen, sogenannten Multicoptern, in Archäologie und Denkmalpflege ist Thema einer internationalen Tagung des Exzellenzclusters Topoi und des EU-Projekts "ArcheoLandscapes Europe", die derzeit an der Freien Universität Berlin stattfindet.

Teil des Expertentreffens ist eine öffentliche Flugvorführung im Thielpark in Berlin-Dahlem am Samstag, den 24. Mai von 10 bis 12 Uhr, bei der die verschiedenen Luftfahrzeuge im Einsatz zu erleben sind. Von 13 bis 15 Uhr können sich Interessierte außerdem über die Auswertung der aufgenommenen Landschaftsdaten in dreidimensionalen Modellen informieren.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Earliest houses, Bronze Age cremations and tools found by archaeologists in Scotland

An early Bronze Age food vessel found at East Challoch Farm in the south of Scotland
© Guard Archaeology

A Neolithic home which is south-west Scotland’s earliest known house, two cemeteries carrying 20 Bronze Age cremations, a pair of rare jet necklaces and thousands of flint tools used in Mesolithic coastal industries have been discovered during the creation of a bypass in Dumfries and Galloway.

Work on the new Dunragit intersection has uncovered a huge variety of artefacts from 7,000 years of Scottish history. Criss-crossing palaeochannels on the edge of a former estuary obscured a house which is thought to date from 6000 BC, accompanied by a perforated stone adze used to work wood.

The remains of Neolithic dwellers are thought to come from a nearby ceremonial complex excavated by Manchester University diggers more than a decade ago, unearthing three concentric rings of timber posts initially spotted through aerial photography.

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Baby mammoth goes on display in UK

A perfectly preserved baby mammoth which died 42,000 years ago has been unveiled at the Natural History Museum in London.
Named Lyuba by the Siberian deer herder who discovered her in 2007, the specimen is 130cm tall and weighs 50kg.
Palaeontologist Prof Adrian Lister described seeing her for the first time as an "incredible experience".
Transported in a box that was opened on Monday, the juvenile female mammoth looked almost intact.
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Scans bring new insights into lives of Egyptian mummies

Never before has anyone seen mummy hair, muscles and bone at such fine resolution.
It is enabling scientists for the first time to tell their age of the mummies, what they ate, the diseases they suffered from, and how they died.
Each mummy was put into a state-of-the-art CT scanner. Researchers probed them layer by layer to build up a high-definition 3D picture of each one. Once digitised, British Museum staff were then able to peel away each layer, to see the face of the person underneath the bandages.
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Monday, May 19, 2014

Scottish road works unearth Iron Age village

An Iron Age village along with a host of ancient artefacts including tools and jewellery have been discovered on a construction site of a new bypass for a Scottish town. 

Archaeologists have uncovered a range of artefacts and sites, including an Iron Age village, ahead of construction of a new road in southwest Scotland [Credit: Historic Scotland] 

The treasure trove unearthed during the building of the £17 million A75 Dunragit bypass in Wigtownshire sheds new light on land use and settlement in the area over the past 9,000 years. 

The discoveries include a rare and complete 130-piece jet bead necklace dating about 2000BC – the first of its kind ever discovered in south-west Scotland.

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Dunragit road works unearth ancient treasure trove

A neolithic arrowhead found during the construction of Dunragit bypass. 
Picture: Transport Scotland

AN IRON Age village along with a host of ancient artefacts including tools and jewellery have been discovered on a construction site of a new bypass for a Scottish town.

The treasure trove unearthed during the building of the £17 million A75 Dunragit bypass in Wigtownshire sheds new light on land use and settlement in the area over the past 9,000 years.

The discoveries include a rare and complete 130-piece jet bead necklace dating about 2000BC – the first of its kind ever discovered in south-west Scotland.

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Tomb found in Ayios Silas in Limassol

Workers came across significant archaeological finds when digging for a landscaping assignment

THREE burial chambers estimated to be from the late Hellenistic period were accidentally discovered on Tuesday afternoon in a plot in Ayios Silas in Limassol.
The tomb came to light when during landscaping works, an excavator hit the roof of a cave which collapsed and revealed skeletal remains, amphorae and coins.
The Antiquities Department was notified by the police.
So far, amphorae, seven skeletal remains and other small items were found. According to Yiannis Violaris, archaeologist of the Antiquities Department’s Limassol District, the tomb is estimated to be from the late Hellenistic period, between the second and first centuries BC, while modern day items which were found in the tomb are attributed to a probable older collapse of the roof.
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Possible Viking settlement in the Ålands found

According to archaeologists aerial infrared images suggest the existence of a late Iron Age settlement, possibly the largest such find ever in the Åland Islands or all of mainland Finland. 

The highest point of Åland Islands: summit of Orrdalsklint, in Saltvik 
[Credit: RainoL/Panoramio] 

The aerial imaging highlighted a depression 40 metres deep and 12 metres wide which might have been the site of a massive hall used to host gatherings of ancient Vikings. No other similar find of this size has ever been discovered in the Åland of on the Finnish mainland. 

The imaging project followed observations of depressions which resembled the outlines of late Iron Age structures from other parts of Scandinavia. Once the images revealed the outline of the hall, cautious excavation turned up personal ornaments cast in silver and bronze, and which point to the site as an important location in the Viking world.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Medieval 'pub culture' unearthed in London

Rare ale tankards and pipes used by drinkers in London more than 650 years ago have been unearthed near the city’s oldest railway station. 

These timbers are estimated to be around 1,000 years old and were found under  London Bridge station [Credit: Daily Mail] 

As part of the Thameslink Programme, archaeologists near London Bridge station have already uncovered several relics, including an ale flagon. 

The tankard was discovered during the installation of the Borough viaduct and it is believed that it was used to serve ale in the Abbot of Waverley’s town house. 

It is now on display in the Wheatsheaf pub in Stoney Street near to London Bridge and is owned by the Museum of London.

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Archaeologists have confirmed the presence of a long-lost Roman military camp deep in eastern Germany. The 18-hectare site, found near the town of Hachelbich in Thuringia, would have sheltered a Roman legion of up to 5000 troops. Its location in a broad valley with few impediments suggests it was a stopover on the way to invade territory further east.

Soil marks where Roman soldiers once dug a trench to defend their temporary camp [Credit: © TLDA] 

“People have been searching for evidence of the Romans in this part of Germany for 200 years,” says team leader Mario Kuessner, an archaeologist working for the state of Thuringia. “It took a long time before we realized what we had, and we wanted to be sure.”

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Stone Age items unearthed by work in Surrey

Rare archaeological findings dating back 10,000 years were unearthed during work to replace water mains in Surrey.

Archaeologists excavating the Roman villa uncovered near the River Mole [Credit: BBC] 

Work on the 2.2km pipe finished in May 2012 and it has taken two years to identify what was discovered.

 A Stone Age hunting camp and a Roman villa were among finds made during the work in Cobham Road, Fetcham, carried out by Sutton and East Surrey Water.

 The camp was the oldest find along items from the Bronze and Iron Ages, according to a report by researchers.

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Rare statue of Virgin Mary found buried under church floor

A Limoges statue of the Virgin Mary dating from the 13th century has been found during renovations of a small church in the eastern Jutland town of Søby.
Archaeologist Hans Mikkelsen from the National Museum and a local craftsman were sifting through the soil under the church floor when they made the find. The icon would have probably sat atop a crucifix that was used in a church processional. There have been Limoges figures found in Denmark before, but likenesses of the Virgin Mary are quite rare and this is the first of the figures found in Denmark that has a halo.
Limoges figurines were produced in the French town of the same name from 1200 to 1225.
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The Vandals: victims of a bad press?

Copper 42 nummi coin showing a Vandal warrior. Although it does not carry a king’s name, it is possible that this coin was made during the time of Gelimer (AD 530-3), and thus he may be the intended identity of the cloaked figure with a spear. The reverse shows the mark of value in Roman numerals (including the long-tailed L (=50) typical of Latin inscriptions in Vandal Africa, and also seen on Gelimer’s silver coinage). Above is the fine image of a horse’s head, the traditional emblem of Carthage since Punic times. TC,p241.2.Car

The name of the Vandals is synonymous today with wanton violence and destruction. But it seems to me that, just like the Vikings, the Vandals have suffered from a bad press. The surviving accounts of their sack of Rome in AD 455, of their further piratical raids around the Mediterranean, and of their persecution of the Catholic inhabitants of North Africa are all presented through the eyes of their enemies and opponents: the Roman and Byzantine Empires and the established Church. Clearly, the Vandals were regarded as the ‘bad guys’ of the day and we, too have been led into thinking of them as wild barbarians, intent on the destruction of Rome and its civilisation.
But how balanced a picture do we get from the contemporary accounts? We do not, after all, have the Vandal side of the story, although we should probably discount the suggestion that they were invited into North Africa, their final home, in support of the Roman governor. He may have been made a scapegoat later for the Vandal conquest of the region.
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Sunken body clue to American origins

The skull has been removed from the cavern but most of the skeleton remains in place

The ancient remains of a teenage girl discovered deep underground in Mexico are providing additional insights on how the Americas came to be populated.
Divers found the juvenile's bones by chance in a vast, flooded limestone chamber on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Aged 15 or 16 at death, the girl lived at least 12,000 years ago.
Researchers have told Science Magazine her DNA backs the idea that the first Americans and modern Native American Indians share a common ancestry.
This theory argues that people from Siberia settled on the land bridge dubbed Beringia that linked Asia and the Americas some 20,000 years ago before sea levels rose.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014


In 2009 during the construction of the Weymouth Relief Road in Dorset archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology made one of the most exciting, and disturbing, archaeological discoveries in Britain in recent years. Around 50 skeletons, predominantly of young adult males, were found in an old quarry pit. All had been decapitated. Their bodies were thrown into the grave, while their heads were placed in a pile located at one edge.

Archaeologists knew they had found something special as they uncovered the tangle of human bones, but it was only as the scientific analysis of the skeletons progressed that the full international significance of the discovery became clear. What the archaeologists had found was a mass grave of executed Vikings.

Rare find

Oxford Archaeology Project Manager David Score said: “To find out that the young men executed were Vikings is a thrilling development. Any mass grave is a relatively rare find, but to find one on this scale, from this period of history, is extremely unusual.”
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The work of the medieval saint often began even before birth; the earliest text telling the life story of 6th-century Gildas has him making important pronouncements from the safety of his mother’s womb.  Even after death, patron saints were portrayed in the exercise of astonishing powers. The author of the vernacular Irish text which recounts the life of Saint Bairre of Cork sees the saint resurrect a king’s dead wife by bathing her. The Welsh saint, Beino, is recorded as reducing a recalcitrant king to a pool of water, by force of words alone, a feat worthy of Game of Thrones.
A conference which took place in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at the University of Cambridge saw the launch of a project to categorise and chart the thousands of miracle stories recorded about saints of the British Isles between 500 and 1300.  The meeting, Mapping the Miraculous: Hagiographical Motifs and the Medieval World, had been organised by three graduate students at Cambridge – Robert Gallagher, Julianne Pigott and Sarah Waidler – in collaboration with a colleague from St Andrews, Jennifer Key.

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1,500-year-old bone of giant auk found by archaeologists in early medieval Scotland

A bone of a giant auk, last seen in Scotland 174 years ago, tells a tale of extinction driven by human hunting

A bone from a penguin-like, metre-tall bird which flew between the north-east of the US and northern Spain before going extinct more than a century ago has been found at North Berwick’s Seabird Centre in the first trace of the great auk since their kind disappeared from Scotland in 1840.

Flightless and known as Scotland’s dodo, the upper arm bone of the bird was found at the entrance to an early building in a dig which found the remains of butchered seals, fish and seabirds.

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Archaeologists think they’ve found Santa Maria — exactly where Columbus said it would be

Archaeological investigators believe they may have discovered the long-lost remains of Christopher Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria.
The leader of the expedition, Barry Clifford, told The Independent that all the evidence “strongly suggests” that wreckage found off the north coast of Haiti is the ship that sailed from Spain with the Niña and the Pinta in the famous 1492 voyage.
The other two ships returned from the New World to Spain, but the Santa Maria sank on Christmas Day that same year.
Archaeologists have located the site of the explorer’s fort and used information from his journal to help locate where the ship’s wreckage should be.
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New study sheds light on survivors of the Black Death

A new study suggests that people who survived the medieval mass-killing plague known as the Black Death lived significantly longer and were healthier than people who lived before the epidemic struck in 1347.

Caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, the Black Death wiped out 30 percent of Europeans and nearly half of Londoners during its initial four-year wave from 1347 – 1351.

Released Wednesday (May 7) in the journal PLOS ONE, the study by anthropologistSharon DeWitte in the College of Arts and Sciences provides the first look at how the plague, called bubonic plague today, shaped population demographics and health for generations.

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Archaeologists say Stonehenge was "London of the Mesolithic" in Amesbury investigation

David Jacques (far right) helping volunteers uncover artefacts from the Blick Mead dig in October 2013
© Courtesy University of Buckingham

Bones of cattle twice the size of bulls and pink flints which change colour have led the way to an archaeological breakthrough in Amesbury

Giant bull, wild boar and red deer bones left at a settlement a mile from Stonehenge prove that Amesbury is the oldest settlement in Britain and has been continually occupied since 8820 BC, according to archaeologists who say the giant monuments were built by indigenous hunters and homemakers rather than Neolithic new builders.

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Roman way station unearthed in Bulgaria

Archaeologists from Bulgaria's National History Museum have uncovered the roadside Sostra complex, situated on the Roman cursus publi-cus from Oescus to Philippopolis. 

The rooms of the roadside station were heated by a hypocaust system where warm air heats not only the floors of buildings, but also their walls [Credit: НИМ] 

The roadside complex was an important point of rest for dignitaries and even emperors and their relatives who were travelling from Oescus (currently the village of Gigen, Pleven district) to Philippopolis (currently the city of Plovdiv), according to reports of

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Römische Truppen in Thüringen

Nach vielen Jahren der Suche ist jetzt zum ersten Mal der archäologische Nachweis römischer Truppenpräsenz in Mitteldeutschland gelungen. Beim Dorf Hachelbich im Kyffhäuserkreis ist im Zuge mehrjähriger Untersuchungen durch das Thüringische Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie ein römisches Marschlager aus dem 1. bis 3. Jh. n. Chr. zweifelsfrei lokalisiert worden.

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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Byzantine notebook among the finds at Yenikapı

Yenikapı excavations that started nearly 10 years ago has brought back Istanbul’s historical heritage to 8,500 years. A wooden notebook, which was found in a sunken ship, the replica of which will sail, is considered the Byzantine’s invention akin to the likes of the modern-day tablet computer. 

An archaeologist examines the remains of a Byzantine ship at Yenikapi [Credit: Hurriyet] 

During archaeological excavations, experts have also found striking information on animal culture, such as the meat of many animals, like horses and wild donkeys were eaten in the ancient era. 

Remains unearthed in the excavations drew great attention not only in Turkish, but also in world archaeology. The remains have survived as organic products, which greatly impressed the scientific world.

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Mysterious 150-year-old writing in rare copy of Homer's 'Odyssey' identified

A rare 16th-century edition of Homer’s Odyssey at the University of Chicago Library includes handwritten annotations in an unknown script—thought to date back to the mid-19th century.
Credit: Courtesy of Special Collections Research 

A Italian computer engineer has solved a 150-year-old literary mystery found in a rare edition of Homer's Odyssey at the University of Chicago Library.
The case of the mystery marginalia began when the University received a donation of Homer's works from collector M.C. Lang in 2007. The collection included a 1504 Venetian edition of the Odyssey containing handwritten annotations in an unknown script. The annotations were thought to date back to the mid-19th century, but nothing else was known about them.
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16th century 'vampire' grave unearthed in Poland

Archaeologists have discovered the grave of a suspected vampire in Kamien Pomorski, northwestern Poland. 

Vampire burial: The teeth were removed and a fragment of rock  placed in the mouth 
[Credit: Kamierskie Info] 

The body, which dates back to the 16th century, was unearthed during a dig in a marketplace in the town, situated in the West Pomeranian Province. 

As reported in, the team found unusual features which indicated the burial site was vampiric. The teeth, or "fangs" had been removed and a fragment of rock had been inserted into the mouth. In addition, his leg had been staked in order to prevent the body from rising from its grave.

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Black Death skeletons give up secrets of life and death

DGLA, Museum of London Archaeology excavated the Royal Mint Black Death cemetery in the 80s

The medieval Black Death led to better health for future generations, according to an analysis of skeletons in London cemeteries.
Tens of millions of people died in the epidemic, but their descendants lived longer and had better health than ever before, a study shows.
The Black Death was one of the most devastating epidemics in human history.
But survivors benefited from rising standards of living and better diets in the aftermath of the disaster.
The improvements in health only occurred because of the death of huge numbers of people, said a US scientist.
It is evidence of how infectious disease has the power to shape patterns of health in populations, said Dr Sharon DeWitte of South Carolina University.
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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Roman tomb found in south-western Bulgaria

An entirely preserved Roman tomb was discovered in Bulgaria’s south-west resort of Sapareva Banya, the historical museum in the city of Kyustendil announced. 

Archaeologists excavate a grave in Bulgaria’s Sapareva Banya Resort [Credit: BGNES] 

During the construction of a private guest house, the workers have found what turned out to be 24 graves, the oldest of which dates back to 4th century AD, Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) reported. 

An intact plaque was found inside one of the walls. Most likely it was a family tomb, as the archaeologists have found the remains of a man, a woman and a child, as well as the remains of cremation. It is assumed that the man was a soldier, because of his military footwear, BNR informs.

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Support Past Preservers on The Hadrian's Wall Hike

This September Nigel Hetherington of Past Preservers will be returning to his ancestral homelands and taking part in the English Heritage's Hadrian's Wall Hike to raise funds for much needed conservation along the famous route. 

The English Heritage fundraising challenge has returned this year with The Hadrian’s Wall Hike! You can sign up today to join Nigel (and provide moral support!) and walk 30 miles of the 'best of the wall’ from Lanercost Priory to Chester’s Roman Fort, stopping at famed English Heritage sites - such as Birdoswald Roman Fort - en route. The hike, sponsored by Craghoppers, will give participants special access to the expert English Heritage team.

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Did the Vikings Travel to Madeira?

MADEIRA, MACARONESIA—Dates for a sample of fossilized bone from a house mouse suggest that the rodents were carried to the island of Madeira by European colonists before 1036, or 400 earlier than previously thought. (The Portuguese took possession of Madeira in 1419.) “Current populations of house mice on Madeira show similarities in mitochondrial DNA with those in Scandinavia and northern Germany, but not with those in Portugal,” Josep Antoni Alcover of the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies told Could the mice have traveled to the island with the Vikings? Further morphologic and genetic studies of the fossils are needed. “There are no historical references so far about the Vikings traveling to Macaronesia,” Alcover added.

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Man landing on Madeira could be four centuries prior to its colonization by the Portuguese

According to the results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal, house mice may have landed on the island before 1036, most likely transported by a ship. The article suggests that the introduction of this species would result in an ecological disaster.
Until now, the arrival of the man to Macaronesia was documented in two waves: one being aboriginal, limited to the Canary Islands about two millenniums ago; and the other colonial, from the 14th century onwards, which took place in every island of the archipelago. According to historical data, the Portuguese took official possession of Madeira in 1949, when the colonization was started.
The team of researchers, which is also composed of scientists from Germany and the University of La Laguna (Canary Islands, Spain), has analyzed two samples of bones found in Ponta de São Lourenço. The tiny size of the first sample has made impossible to date it, but the second sample has been dated between 900 and 1030, which leads to the earliest evidence for the presence of mice on Madeira Island.
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Two Roman mosaics set to be unearthed in Dorset

Work is due to begin on unearthing two mosaics discovered at the site of a Roman villa in the Dorset countryside. 

A meander-style mosaic was discovered on the site of the villa  [Credit: EDAS/BBC] 

The first signs of the mosaics were spotted last year at the site near Puddletown which is being excavated by volunteers. 

Lilian Ladle of the East Dorset Antiquarian Society said it was "very fortunate" they had survived.

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Burg der Zurückgelassenen

In den "dunklen Jahrhunderten" des frühen Mittelalters war nicht viel los zwischen Elbe und Weser - glaubte man. Doch neue Funde in Stade zeigen, dass es an der Schwinge in diesen Jahrhunderten keineswegs so dunkel war.

"Was haben die hier bloß gemacht?" fragt Stadtarchäologe Andreas Schäfer und schaut nachdenklich auf das Gras unter seinen Gummistiefeln. "Wozu brauchten die so eine große Burg?" Mit "die" meint er die Sachsen des Frühmittelalters, die zwischen Weser und Elbe lebten. Eigentlich, so waren sich die Forscher bisher einig, war in dem Gebiet nicht mehr viel los, seit die meisten Sachsen sich ab dem 5. Jahrhundert in Richtung England abgesetzt hatten, um gemeinsam mit den Angeln die Insel zu besiedeln. Während die Verwandten in England erste Königreiche gründeten, herrschten über die letzten Daheimgebliebenen lediglich so genannte Satrapen. Ihre Dörfer waren nicht mehr als ein paar zusammengewürfelte Höfe.

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Sunday, May 04, 2014

A Point of View: Is the archaeological dig a thing of the past?

Archaeological discoveries are more likely to be found by technology than with a trowel and a torch, writes classical historian Mary Beard.
If you want a vivid glimpse of ancient Roman life, the best place to go - after the more famous Pompeii - is the town of Ostia, a 30-minute train ride from the centre of Rome, near the coast. It's one of my very favourite sites. Beautifully peaceful, surrounded by shady umbrella pines, and, quite unlike Pompeii, you often have it almost to yourself.
It wasn't so peaceful 2,000 years ago. From the end of the 1st Century AD, Ostia was one the two main ports of the city of Rome. It's where many of the supplies needed to keep the million or so inhabitants of the capital alive were hauled ashore. And it had then the seedy reputation that most big ports have even now. In the early 2nd Century, the satirist Juvenal (admittedly one of the grumpiest old men of the ancient world) bemoaned the kind of clientele you'd meet in an Ostian bar: "Thugs, thieves, runaway slaves, hangmen, coffin makers", and, not so common in a modern port, maybe, "eunuch priests".
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