Thursday, January 30, 2020

'Lost' Anglo-Saxon monastery discovered. It might be where England's first king was coronated.

The Abbey at Bath has a spectacular facade.
(Image: © Wessex Archaeology)

Edgar the Peaceful may have been coronated here more than 1,000 years ago.

Newly unearthed remains may come from the monastery where England's first king, Edgar the Peaceful, was coronated more than 1,000 years ago, according to Wessex Archaeology, an archaeological company and charity in England. 

The so-called smoking gun emerged during an excavation at the famous Bath Abbey, ahead of planned renovations there. During the excavation, archaeologists were surprised to find hints of Anglo-Saxon architecture in two structures next to the abbey.

These are the first known Anglo-Saxon structures in all of Bath, a city that was founded by the Roman Empire and that is known for its thermal hot springs. The two apsidal (semicircular) structures, or apses, were found below street level, underneath what once made up the cloisters of the 12th-century cathedral built over Romano-British deposits. The cathedral is just south of the abbey church.

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Neanderthals May Have Trekked 2,000 Miles to Siberia

Chagyrskaya Cave in Siberia's Altai Mountains, where researchers uncovered Neanderthal stone blades that resemble tools excavated in Europe (IAET)

Ancient Siberia was so nice, eastern European Neanderthals trekked there twice—even though they probably had to cross some 2,000 miles of tough terrain to reach it, a new study suggests.

A team of researchers has uncovered stone blades in Siberia’s Altai Mountains that bear a remarkable resemblance to known Neanderthal tools from modern Crimea and the northern Caucasus, located just north of the Black Sea. The group’s findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, hint that our long-gone cousins crossed the Eurasian continent about 60,000 years ago—an encore act to a similar eastward journey made some 40,000 years prior.

“Neanderthals were intrepid explorers in their own right,” says study author Richard Roberts, a geochronologist at the University of Wollongong in Australia, to Bruce Bower of Science News.

The team can’t conclusively say how long the journey took, or if it happened in fits and starts. But using the tools as an archaeological throughline, the researchers argue that at least some Siberian Neanderthals—whose origins have long been elusive—trace their roots back west.

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Archaeologists analyze the composition of a Roman-era 'makeup case'

Image of the scallop with pigment residues 
[Credit:University of Granada]

First discovered in 2000 during excavations of a funerary complex in the former capital of the Lusitania, Augusta Emerita (present-day Merida) the 'make-up case' was uncovered in a deposit of cremated remains alongside ceramic cups, bone spindles, nails, glassware and the remains of a detachable bone box.

The make-up case is made from a bivalve malacological mollusk specimen of pecten maximus (viera). Once the shell was opened, it was possible to document the cosmetic remains, specifically, a small ball of a “pinkish” powdery conglomerate via a combination of X-ray diffraction (XRD), electron microscopy and chromatographic analysis.

The use of the mollusk as a cosmetic container is a practice that dates back thousands of years across various civilisations. One of the earliest examples is tiny shells in the Sumerian city of Ur from 2500 BC that contained pigments used for cosmetics.

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'Anglo-Saxon' skeletons found on Buckingham care home site

The site where the bodies were discovered is next to the cemetery in Buckingham

A number of "unusual burials" including skeletons with hands tied behind their backs have been discovered on the site of a planned care home.

The bodies were uncovered during excavations ahead of work at West End Farm, on Brackley Road in Buckingham.

It is believed about 40 bodies were found in December as first reported in the MK Citizen.

Historian Ed Grimsdale said he believed they were Anglo-Saxon and it could be "one of the biggest finds" of its kind.

Buckinghamshire County Archaeology Service said it was waiting for results of the post-excavation analysis.

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Jersey 'drowned landscape' could yield Ice Age insights

The team will base themselves at Seymour Tower, an 18th Century offshore fortification

Archaeologists are planning an ambitious survey of part of the seabed off Jersey where Neanderthals once lived.

The site is part-exposed during spring low tide, giving the team a four-hour window to dig while the sea is out.

Stone tools and mammoth remains have been recovered from the Violet Bank over the years.

Neanderthals are known to have inhabited what is now Jersey for hundreds of thousands of years.

The Violet Bank is a type of coastal zone known as an intertidal reef. It's underwater at high tide but some 10 sq km of seabed is exposed during the low spring tide.

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What Is the Most Significant Archaeological Discovery of the Past Decade?

Collection of King Khufu papyri discovered at Wadi El-Jarf port on view at Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The last decade witnessed major archaeological discoveries, from the 10-month excavation of a Bronze Age settlement in England to what could be the world’s oldest figurative artwork, which was found in Indonesia last year. Which of these finds was most important? To hear more, ARTnews asked nine archaeologists and scholars. Their selections—which span several continents and multiple millennia—follow below.

Dieter Arnold
Curator emeritus, department of Egyptian art, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Among numerous other significant discoveries of the past decade in Egypt, one find earns distinction. In 2013, a French mission [led by] Pierre Tallet discovered in a cave on the Red Sea coast in the Wadi El-Jarf remains of a logbook of a boat captain who had—before his assignment at the Red Sea—shipped building blocks to the pyramid of Kheops (Khufu) at Giza (2580 B.C.E.). By itself, such transports were not new to us, but the daily entries in the logbook connect us vividly with one of mankind’s most admired building projects.

Peggy Brunache
Lecturer in the history of slavery, University of Glasgow 

In 2017, the domicile room of Sally Hemings at Thomas Jefferson’s historic Virginia mansion, Monticello, was discovered. Hemings, an enslaved woman, is believed by many to have given birth to several children of one of America’s beloved Founding Fathers. (The theory is supported by DNA evidence.) This discovery once again puts a focus on the entangled roles of enslaved people in the founding of the United States and, more importantly, on the private life of the man who famously wrote “All men are created equal,” and yet, over the course of his life, was a slaveholder of hundreds of Black lives.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020


À Pontarlier (Doubs), l'Inrap a mené une fouille archéologique préventive sur le site des Gravilliers, dans le cadre de l'aménagement d'un parc d'activités économiques du Grand Pontarlier. Un diagnostic archéologique réalisé en 2011 avait déjà révélé un site du premier Moyen Âge et une occupation mésolithique (9600 à 5500 ans avant notre ère) qui avait livré les plus anciens indices d'occupation humaine connus à Pontarlier. Une première fouille, en 2015, avait amplement confirmé les résultats du diagnostic. 

L’une des particularités du site moyenâgeux des Gravilliers est de se situer en totalité dans l’emprise du projet d’aménagement, permettant une vision exhaustive de l’ensemble, fait exceptionnel dans le cadre de fouilles préventives. La portée scientifique des recherches effectuées sur le site est considérable pour la compréhension de la dynamique de l'habitat rural médiéval et devrait constituer une référence pour l'est de la Gaule. Les résultats de la fouille seront précisés lors de la phase d'étude en 2020-2021.

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MASS GRAVE RIDDLE Mystery as 42 old bodies with hands tied behind their backs found buried in graves on Milton Keynes building site

More than 40 bodies were found on old farm land near Milton Keynes
Credit: Jane Russell

MORE than 40 bodies have been found buried in historic shallow graves on a building site near Milton Keynes - and people are baffled.

The 42 bodies, which are all old skeletons, appeared to have their hands tied behind their backs.

They were unearthed on a patch of old farmland in Buckingham as ground works for 72 new retirement flats were underway.

According to MK Citizen, many people are accusing the flat developers, Brio Retirement Living Holdings of keeping mum about the shocking find.

The bodies are said to have been found weeks ago when the company - which is part of Places for People - commissioned an archaeological investigation of the site to secure planning permission.

But nobody has seen the archaeologists' report.

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Monday, January 27, 2020

Anglo-Saxon Abbey where Lusty King Edgar was Crowned, Found!

Excavations of the possible Anglo-Saxon abbey at Bath Abbey. ( Wessex Archaeology )

Bath Abbey was always thought of as having been located upon a much earlier Anglo-Saxon monastery, but no evidence was ever found to support this idea. However, two structures were discovered during primary renovation works as part of Bath Abbey’s £19.3 million (25.2 million USD) Footprint project and a team of archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology discovered to the south of the modern-day Abbey what a Daily Mail article describes as “Semi-circular relics dating to between the 8th and 10th century AD.”

Plaster samples taken from the remains tested positive for charcoal and they were sent to Queen's University, Belfast for radiocarbon dating, which determined they were from “AD 780-970 and AD 670-770”. These results are why the researchers believe they might have found the site of King Edgar's coronation - Bath's lost Anglo-Saxon monastery . And speaking of the discovery to the Daily Mail the Reverend Canon Guy Bridgewater at Bath Abbey said this is a “really exciting find.”

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2019 excavation results of the Paphos Agora Project

Credit: Dept. of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus

The Department of Antiquities, Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works, has announced the completion of the 2019 excavations of the Department of Classical Archaeology of the Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland, within the framework of the Pafos Agora Project (PAP). The PAP, which has been running since 2011, examines the economic infrastructure and activity of the city, not only on the basis of excavations in the Agora itself, but also outside of it, throughout the entire Archaeological Site of Kato Paphos, based on prospection with the use of non-invasive geophysical methods.

Researchers from the Warsaw Technical University and the University of Hamburg participated in the 2019 field season, which took place during August and September 2019. Two main goals were set: 1) determining the size of the Agora in the north, and 2) identifying streets flanking it from the north and from the east. Excavations were carried out at four points.

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Newport Ship could be Wales' answer to the Mary Rose

The ship would have been moored in an inlet on the River Usk in Newport at around 1468

A salvaged 15th Century ship has "significant potential" to do for Wales what the Mary Rose did for Portsmouth when it goes on show.

Archaeologists say "there's nothing else like" the medieval ship, the remains of which were found preserved in mud in a Newport riverbank in 2002.

Historians say reassembly of the 2,500 timber pieces will be the world's largest ancient ship rebuild project.

Newport council said it hopes to display the ship in a prominent place.

Experts say the "unique" attraction could emulate the Mary Rose exhibition of Tudor king Henry VIII's 16th Century flagship naval vessel, renowned as one of the world's best maritime displays with its own £35m museum,

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Medieval treasures uncovered – from the sludge of a London cesspit

A Mola archaeologist records the medieval cesspit uncovered in 
the basement of the Courtauld. 
Photograph: Mola

Forks, pendants and wine jugs shine a light on city life in the Middle Ages

It is said that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. The discovery by archaeologists of a huge cesspit containing medieval artefacts under one of London’s finest historic buildings is proving the case.

Up to 100 objects, largely dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, have been retrieved from sticky, greenish sludge in a four-metre-deep pit beneath the Courtauld Institute of Art at Somerset House.

The haul includes pottery drinking vessels and tableware, along with a rare Penn floor tile – a favoured decorating material for palaces and monastic sites – and a range of metalwork pieces, including an iron spur, a finger ring, a belt buckle, a bone-handled fork and a pendant. There is also a thick chain, which might once have been attached to a candlestick. Although discarded, many of these objects are virtually intact.

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Friday, January 24, 2020

Triple Copper Age burial discovered in Croatia

Credit: Lovas Archaeological Project

While excavating one of the trenches in the highest part of Kovači in 2019, we discovered a triple Copper Age (?) burial, possibly dating to the period of Kostolac Culture (3250-3000 BCE). Burials of this kind are extremely rare in Croatia and this seems to be the earliest one (other similar examples are known from the famous site of Vučedol, but are connected to the later layers of Vučedol culture).

The burial was discovered in almost completely sterile soil above the bedrock, with no traces of a grave pit. Three individuals were buried together and numbered from 1 to 3 (left to right in the above photo).

The bodies of Individuals 1 and 3 were positioned in the same way. They were on their backs, but with their legs leaning to the right, as if they were stepping forward. Their arms were bent in the elbows and pulled to their chests.

Their faces were probably facing east. Individual 1 was a 20-30-year-old female and Individual 3 a 25-35-year-old male. The individual in the middle (Individual 2) was a female between 30 and 40 years of age. She was facing the ground.

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Four Warriors Buried in 11th Century Tombs in Pomerania Came From Scandinavia, say Scientists

The four warriors buried with rich grave offerings in the central part of the cemetery in Ciepłe (Pomerania) came from Scandinavia, expert analyses show. This is proof that people of foreign origin were members of the Piast state elites, scientists suggest.

Archaeologists investigating a cemetery dating from the first Piast monarchy of Bolesław I the Brave have published their latest findings.

The discovery in the small village of Ciepłe near Gniew in Eastern Pomerania, has so far revealed over 60 graves, but the archaeologists believe there may be more.

Dr. Sławomir Wadyl from the Archaeological Museum in Gdańsk said: “In the central part of the cemetery there were four very richly equipped chamber graves. Men, probably warriors, were buried in them, as evidenced by the weapons and equestrian equipment deposited with the bodies.”

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Grave of elite Bronze Age man from Poland reconstructed

The mysterious prince, although in fact he was not a member of royalty, but a local elite, 
was about 20-30 years oldand massively built, according to the preserved bones. 
Unlike the other burials around it, the body wasn’t burnt
[Credit: M. Podsiadlo]

A new 3D rendering of a 2,000-year-old aristocrat’s grave shows how the tribes inhabiting the Malopolska region buried their elites.

The richly-equipped kurgan, one of only a dozen in Poland, is known as the prince’s grave, due to the evident high standing of the man laid to rest there and the site’s monumental form.

The burial ground in Szarbia, near Krakow, was discovered in 1997 in fields by researchers from the Archaeological Museum in Krakow, led by Ryszard Naglik.

The excavations carried out until 2001 yielded incredible results. The archaeologists uncovered two burial sites, one from 2,000 years ago and one from 5,000 years ago.

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Lincoln Cathedral: Medieval priest's items 'rare find'

The priest was buried alongside a pewter chalice and paten, which is a plate made of gold or silver

Archaeologists have described the discovery of the remains of a medieval priest buried alongside "key symbols of his work" as a significant "rare find".

The find was one of more than 50 burials unearthed during renovation works at Lincoln Cathedral.

Archaeologist Natasha Powers said the priest was buried with a pewter chalice and paten - a gold or silver plate.

He believed his tools would provide proof on Judgement Day that he had performed his duties, she said.

Ms Powers said since work started in 2016 they had discovered "significant evidence" of Lincoln's medieval, Saxon and Roman past.

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Scientists Confirm Mount Vesuvius Eruption Turned Victim's Brain Into Glass

(MILAN) — The eruption of Mount Vesuvius turned an incinerated victim’s brain material into glass, the first time scientists have verified the phenomenon from a volcanic blast, officials at the Herculaneum archaeology site said Thursday.

Archaeologists rarely recover human brain tissue, and when they do it is normally smooth and soapy in consistency, according to an article detailing the discovery in the New England Journal of Medicine. The eruption of Vesuvius in the year 79 instantly killed the inhabitants of Pompeii and neighboring Herculaneum, burying an area 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the volcano in ash in just a few hours.

The remains of a man lying on a wooden bed were discovered at Herculaneum, closer to Vesuvius than Pompeii, in the 1960s. He is believed to have been the custodian of a place of worship, the Collegium Augustalium.

A team led by Pier Paolo Petrone, a forensic anthropologist at the Federico II University in Naples, determined that the victim’s brain matter had been vitrified, a process by which tissue is burned at a high heat and turned into glass, according to the study published by the New England Journal of Medicine. The fragments presented as shards of shiny black material spotted within remnants of the victim’s skull.

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Mount Vesuvius eruption: Extreme heat 'turned man's brain to glass'

The black, shiny fragments are believed to be the glassy remains of a man's brain

Extreme heat from the Mount Vesuvius eruption in Italy was so immense it turned one victim's brain into glass, a study has suggested.

The volcano erupted in 79 AD, killing thousands and destroying Roman settlements near modern-day Naples.

The town of Herculaneum was buried by volcanic matter, entombing some of its residents.

A team of researchers has been studying the remains of one victim, unearthed at the town in the 1960s.

A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, said fragments of a glassy, black material were extracted from the victim's skull.

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Hideous lingering deaths suffered by victims of Vesuvius eruption revealed

The archaeological site of Herculaneum in Ercolano, near Naples, with the Mount Vesuvius volcano in the background (Image: AP/ Getty)

People who died in the Mount Vesuvius eruption of AD79 had a slower death than previously believed, according to new research. 

It is commonly thought that people living in the seaside town of Herculaneum, who fled to stone boathouses along the beachfront when the volcano erupted, were vaporised by the extreme heat of the volcanic eruption. 

But a new analysis of skeletons from the scene shows that they may have lived long enough to suffocate from the toxic fumes of the pyroclastic flow – the devastating, ultra-fast stream of hot gas and volcanic matter which flows from some eruptions. 

Archaeologists found that the structure of the skeletons and remaining collagen was inconsistent with vaporisation, suggesting that the bodies were not exposed to temperatures as extreme as expected.

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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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