Monday, January 30, 2017

How Much Viking Lore Is True?

Archaeologists have confirmed key details in Norse oral histories (but not the dragons, elves, and trolls).

In TV series from Vikings to Game of Thrones, the icy wastes of the north provide the backdrop to dramatic, often violent, stories of kings and warriors, dragons and trolls. The source for many of these dramas is the Icelandic sagas. In her new book, Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas, historian Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough explores the world of the sagas, teasing fact from fiction to show that there was much more to the Norse peoples than rape and pillage. (Find out whether the Vikings deserved their terrible reputation.)
Speaking from her home in Durham, England, she explains how the United States should really celebrate Leif the Lucky, not Columbus, why the Soviets hated the idea that Russia had been founded by the Vikings, and how the gruesome Viking torture known as the Blood Eagle may have been more poetic conceit than historical practice. (Did Vikings make the modern world possible?)

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Fossilized tree and ice cores help date huge volcanic eruption 1,000 years ago to within three months

An international team of researchers has managed to pinpoint, to within three months, a medieval volcanic eruption in east Asia the precise date of which has puzzled historians for decades. They have also shown that the so-called "Millennium eruption" of Changbaishan volcano, one of the largest in history, cannot have brought about the downfall of an important 10th century kingdom, as was previously thought.
Writing in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews the team describes how new analysis of the partly fossilised remains of a tree killed by the eruption, and ice cores drilled in Greenland, lead them to conclude the eruption occurred in the final months of 946 AD.
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Iceman Oetzi's last meal was 'Stone Age bacon'

Oetzi the famous "iceman" mummy of the Alps appears to have enjoyed a fine slice or two of Stone Age bacon before he was killed by an arrow some 5,300 years ago.
His last meal was most likely dried goat meat, according to scientists who recently managed to dissect the contents of Oetzi's stomach.
"We've analysed the meat's nanostructure and it looks like he ate very fatty, dried meat, most likely bacon," German mummy expert Albert Zink said at a talk in Vienna late Wednesday.
More specifically, the tasty snack is thought to have come from a wild goat in South Tyrol, the northern Italian region where Oetzi roamed around and where his remains were found in September 1991.
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Spectacular Viking manor discovered near Birka

A large Viking manor has been found near the ancient town of Birka in Lake Mälaren.
Birka, on the island of Björkö in Lake Mälaren, 40 kilometres from Stockholm, is thought to be Sweden's oldest town and has been the site of excavations since the 17th century.
But there is still plenty left to be discovered on the island, as Swedish and German researchers' latest find proves.

Thanks to high-resolution geophysical surveys carried out in September 2016, researchers now believe they have located one of the most important Viking halls of the era, situated in the harbour bay of Korshamn, outside of Birka's town boundaries. They believe that it can be dated to the period after 810 AD.

“This kind of Viking period high status manors has previously only been identified at a few places in southern Scandinavia, for instance at Tissø and Lejre in Denmark,” said Johan Runer, archaeologist at the Stockholm county museum, in a statement.
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Vast Ancient Necropolis In Southern France Reveals The Path To Christianity Was Slow

A necropolis from the time of the late Antiquity has been discovered in southern France. More than 300 tombs have been unearthed, and the objects recovered suggest that the path towards Christianity was gradual in the region.

After finding objects from the Neolithic Period, the archaeologists discovered a necropolis 
[Credit: Bernard Sillano, Inrap]

Before construction work could take place to build houses, the French state had mandated archaeological surveys on the land, located in the town of the Bouc-Bel-Air.

A team from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) began excavating the 21,900 metre square area, quickly finding fossils from the Neolithic Era (from approx. 10,000BC to 3,000BC).

Small pits in the ground were holding objects including ceramic remains and rudimentary tools

A row of holes in the ground indicates the location of where a wooden structure would have been standing, although it is not known what its purpose was.

However, the site was hiding many more secrets. The archaeologists also discovered that the land had later been used as a necropolis, just before medieval times. A total of 315 tombs were identified, with a great variety of funerary practices documented at the site.

Most of the tombs had simply been covered with tiles but others held the remains of people who had also been placed in wooden or lead coffins. A number of amphora burials – wherein remains of infants or fetuses are put in large jars – were also recovered.

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'Warrior Of High Status' Was Buried At Scottish Viking Boat Burial Site

The excavation of a rare, intact Viking boat burial in western Scotland has been set out in detail for the first time.

The boat burial is the first found intact on the UK mainland [
Credit: Ardnamurchan Transitions Project]

Artefacts buried alongside the Viking in his boat found in Ardnamurchan suggest he was a high-ranking warrior.

In a report published by Antiquity, archaeologists describe the finds including a sword, spearhead and 213 of the boat's rivets.

The weapons indicate the burial of "a warrior of high status".

Archaeologists, including Dr Oliver Harris of the University of Leicester, first revealed the discovery at Swordle Bay in 2011.

Since then experts have been studying the burial site and its "rich assemblage of grave goods".

Among them were a single copper alloy ringed pin, thought to have been used to fasten a burial cloak or shroud, a broad bladed axe, a shield boss and whetstone made from rock found in Norway. Also found were mineralised remains of textiles and wood.

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En 2005, une équipe de l’Inrap avait mis au jour de nombreux moules en schiste destinés à la fabrication d’enseignes de pèlerinage, à l’emplacement d’un atelier de production daté des XIVe-XVe siècles, près de l’entrée de l’abbaye. La variété et la qualité de ces pièces en font aujourd’hui une collection de référence en archéologie médiévale.
En 2011, les archéologues ont révélé les vestiges d’une tour des fortifications, la tour Denis, ouvrage édifié vers 1479 et détruit en 1732.
En 2015, d’anciennes maisons, donnant sur la grève et détruites en 1368, ont été étudiées.

Dans l’abbaye, l’Inrap a suivi plusieurs chantiers de restauration conduits par l’architecte en chef des Monuments historiques dont les opérations importantes menées sur la Merveille, sur l’ancienne Hôtellerie de Robert de Torigny et sur les Logis abbatiaux.
Aujourd’hui, la recherche des fortifications et de la porte du XIIIe siècle a permis la découverte, inattendue, du cimetière paroissial.

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To understand Trump, we should look to the tyrants of ancient Rome

Bust of the emperor Commodus dressed as Hercules, in the Capitoline Museum, Rome. 
Photograph: Alinari via Getty Images

He looks like a strong man – the strongest. Holding a huge club to beat his enemies with, the Roman emperor Commodus wears a lion skin over his bearded, empty-looking face in a marble portrait bust made in the second century AD, which is one of the treasures of Rome’s Capitoline Museum. He is posing as the mythic hero Hercules, whose muscular might made him victorious in one spectacular fight after another. The portrait literally equates the strength of Hercules with the power of the emperor.

This is an idea Donald Trump might like. He surrounds himself with gold as lavishly as any tyrant. Why not commission a portrait of himself as Hercules for the Oval Office instead of just moving around busts of Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King?

The way the worst Roman emperors are portrayed in art can help us to see Trump more clearly. When we look at the face of Commodus in this eerie portrait, we are staring into the eyes of unhinged, utterly perverse tyranny. When this son of the respected emperor Marcus Aurelius took control of the vast Roman empire in AD161 he embarked on a career of bizarre folly and monstrous cruelty. As well as executing his enemies and perceived enemies, he liked to fight in the arena, killing gladiators with his own hands in a spectacle that educated Romans found shameful and disturbing.

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Foundations of three Roman houses found under Chichester park

Large properties just inside city walls, identified using radar, would have been equivalent to homes worth millions today

Foundations of three large Roman houses preserved for almost 2,000 years have been discovered in a park in the centre of Chichester.
James Kenny, an archaeologist at Chichester district council, believes that when fully excavated they will prove to be some of the best Roman houses found in a city centre in Britain.
“To find what appear to be well-preserved Roman remains in one of the few stretches of open ground in a city which has been continuously built and rebuilt ever since the days of Alfred the Great is really exciting,” Kenny said. “Particularly since this city had no mains drains until so late – not until the 1880s – it is absolutely pockmarked with centuries of cesspits and rubbish dumps, so very little undisturbed Roman material remains.”
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Chichester Roman houses found under Priory Park

Ground-penetrating scans of a park have revealed three near-complete Roman buildings in Chichester.
Archaeologists, who were left stunned by the degree of preservation, have said the only reason they survived was because Priory Park was never built on.
Two houses and a third building were found. Moving images from a scan show the shapes of two buildings emerge.
It is thought the houses in Noviomagus Reginorum - the Roman name for the town - were owned by people of importance.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Scientists divided over whether 'Furku.Al' rock inscription is genuinely the work of Vikings

When a resident on the Isle of Eigg decided to clean his drains, he had no idea that he would stumble upon a mystery that would baffle archaeologists around the world.

The islander’s discovery of a boulder with the letters “Furku.Al” scratched into its surface has sparked a lively debate among experts as to whether it is a genuine runic inscription.

The resident alerted Camille Dressler, chair of the Eigg History Society, about his potentially significant find, and she sent a photograph to Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

“It looks quite ancient. We are intrigued by it,” Ms Dressler told The Daily Telegraph. “We just hope it is a genuine Norse inscription as that would highlight the Norse heritage of the island.”

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Museum of London gets £180m towards its new home

Plans for a new Museum of London on the site of derelict Smithfield market buildings have received a £180m boost by the City and the mayor.
The City of London Corporation announced it would give £110m towards the project’s £250m cost. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, also pledged £70m.
Khan said the museum would be a jewel in London’s crown. “From the outset of my mayoralty, I pledged to make culture a core priority and I’m proud that this is the biggest ever cultural investment made by any mayor of London to date,” he said.
“The world’s greatest city deserves the world’s greatest museum, which is why I’m delighted to announce £70m of funding for the new Museum of London.”
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bringing Vikings Back to the East Midlands

The Centre for the Study of the Viking Age is pleased to report that we have been awarded a substantial grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council Follow-On Fund for a project called Bringing Vikings Back to the East Midlands. The project will fund a variety of initiatives and events related to the British Museum/York Museums Trust travelling exhibition on the Vikings which will be on at Lakeside from November 2017 to March 2018. CSVA alumnus Dr Roderick Dale will start as Cultural Engagement Fellow on the project on 1st February. More details to follow.

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Les Temps mérovingiens

Les Temps mérovingiens
Musée de Cluny, Paris

Du 26 octobre 2016 au 13 février 2017

Le début du Moyen Âge est marqué par des formes d'expression originales, mais peu connues. L'exposition Les Temps mérovingiens éclaire cette période foisonnante, de trois cents ans (de la bataille des Champs catalauniques en 451 à la fin du règne des « rois fainéants » en 751), entre influence de l'empire romain et mise en place de nouvelles formes de pouvoir loin de l’image de « barbarie » qui leur était autrefois attachée. 

Dans un dialogue inédit, manuscrits des VIIe et VIIIe siècles provenant notamment du département des Manuscrits de la Bibliothèque nationale de France, des bibliothèques de Laon et d’Autun, de la bibliothèque apostolique vaticane ou des Archives nationales de France entrent en résonance avec les collections du musée de Cluny et les prêts du musée d’Archéologie nationale de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, du British Museum, du musée jurassien d’art et d’histoire de Delémont ou encore du musée Alfred-Bonno de Chelles.
Les Temps mérovingiens est présentée dans le cadre majestueux du frigidarium des thermes gallo-romains.
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'Highly important' Anglo-Saxon village remains discovered in Cambridge housing site

Rare Anglo-Saxon artefacts have been unearthed during the excavation of a housing site in Coldham's Lane. Archeology by Weston Homes.

Rare Anglo-Saxon artefacts once worn and treasured by nobles between 501 and 600 AD have been unearthed during the excavation of a housing site in Cambridge .
Oxford Archaeology East uncovered the Ango-Saxon village on the corner of Hatherdene Close and Coldham's Lane on behalf of archaeology specialists, CgMs and housebuilder Weston Homes.
The findings include precious jewellery such as fine brooches, multi-coloured glass and amber beads, rings and hairpins dating back to the sixth century AD, as well as remnants of an original village-style settlement.
Utilitarian tools such as small knives and weaponry were also among the findings on the site which provides a fascinating insight into the lifestyle and clothing of the ancient Anglo-Saxon era.
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Neolithic hoard discovered during St Andrews University energy centre work

Pottery and flint tools buried for 4,000 years were uncovered during excavations for St Andrews University’s new energy centre.
The ancient artefacts were dug up at Kincaple as engineers laid pipework.
Archaeologist Alastair Rees from consultancy firm ARCHAS Ltd said the find, which included flint tools believed to be from Norfolk or Yorkshire, provided more evidence of trade links across the UK.
“These finds provide yet another piece in the jigsaw to help us reconstruct the mundane, as well as the more interesting, aspects of how societies interacted and travelled in ancient Britain,” he said.
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The Caves That Prove Neanderthals Were Cannibals

Deep in the caves of Goyet in Belgium researchers have found the grisly evidence that the Neanderthals did not just feast on horses or reindeer, but also on each other.

Belgian archaeologist Christian Casseyas shows the latest explored area as he gives a tour of the Goyet cave, where 96 bones and three teeth from five Neanderthal individuals were found 

[Credit: Emmanuel Dunand, AFP]

Human bones from a newborn, a child and four adults or teenagers who lived around 40,000 years ago show clear signs of cutting and of fractures to extract the marrow within, they say.

"It is irrefutable, cannibalism was practised here," says Belgian archaeologist Christian Casseyas as he looks inside a cave halfway up a valley in this site in the Ardennes forest.

The bones in Goyet date from when Neanderthals were nearing the end of their time on earth before being replaced by Homo sapiens, with whom they also interbred.

Once regarded as primitive cavemen driven to extinction by smarter modern humans, studies have found that Neanderthals were actually sophisticated beings who took care of the bodies of the deceased and held burial rituals.

But there is a growing body of proof that they also ate their dead.

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Dans un secteur de plaine de la commune de Bouc-Bel-Air (Bouches-du-Rhône), des archéologues de l’Inrap sont actuellement à l’œuvre pour dégager les dernières sépultures d’une nécropole antique. Ils interviennent depuis le 19 septembre sur prescription de l’État (Service régional de l’Archéologie / Drac Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), en amont de l’aménagement d’un ensemble d’habitations privées et collectives. Après avoir mis au jour des vestiges datant du Néolithique, les chercheurs se sont concentrés sur plus de 300 tombes, installées à partir de la fin de l’Antiquité. La fouille, d’une superficie totale de 21 900 m², s’achèvera à la fin du mois de janvier.

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Archäologen entdecken weitere Teile eines 5.000 Jahre alten Wagens

Erfolgreicher Abschluss der öffentlich zugänglichen Grabung von Olzreute-Enzisholz (Landkreis Biberach)
Kurz vor Weihnachten 2016 wurden die Arbeiten auf der Ausgrabung in Olzreute-Enzisholz (Landkreis Biberach) beendet. Archäologen des Landesamtes für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart untersuchten dort eine fast 5.000 Jahre alte Siedlung der Jungsteinzeit. In den vergangenen Jahren waren dort schon einige hölzerne Wagenräder zum Vorschein gekommen. Nun fanden die Forscher kurz vor dem Ende der Geländearbeiten einen weiteren Beleg für die steinzeitliche Mobilität: ein Achsenfragment aus Holz.
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Austrasie, le royaume mérovingien oublié

Au moment où s’installe la nouvelle région Grand Est, l’Agglomération de Saint-Dizier organise du 16 septembre 2016 au 26 mars 2017 une exposition dédiée au royaume des Francs de l’Est, Austrasie, Le Royaume Mérovingien Oublié. Il s’agit de la première exposition consacrée à l’Austrasie, berceau de la dynastie mérovingienne, qui a connu un fort rayonnement entre 511 et 717, alors que la Neustrie et la Burgondie ont déjà fait l’objet de grandes expositions dans les années 1980.

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