Sunday, December 05, 2021

Viking Roles

(© P. Deckers, S. Croix, and S. M. Sindbæk)
Reproduced mold impressions of riderless stallion, armed woman, and man pulling hair

Small bronze figurines of women clad in armor and bearing weapons that date to the Viking Age have traditionally been seen as representations of Valkyries, the female warriors of Norse mythology who determined whether human combatants lived or died. Analysis of some of the 7,000 fragments of ceramic molds discovered at the site of Ribe in southwestern Denmark that were used to make these figurines, however, suggests that they actually depict human participants in ritual ceremonies. Using high-resolution laser scans of the ceramic fragments, researchers led by Pieterjan Deckers, an archaeologist now at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, fashioned 3-D models of the complete molds that were used to create the figurines in the first few decades of the ninth century A.D. In addition to the armed women, these include a man pulling his hair, a saddled stallion without a rider, and miniature wheels, swords, and shields.

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Monday, November 15, 2021

12 Types Of Extinct Human Species And How They Differ


Today, Homo sapiens are the only type of humans on Earth. However, we modern humans are just the most recent of many other human species that once existed. In fact, we don't know how many species, since scientist keep on finding new species of human. As Britannica explains, the forerunners to humans diverged from apes during the Middle Miocene Epoch from 16 to 11.6 million years ago. These nearly-human species then evolved so that by the Pliocene Epoch some 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago, the human genus, Homo, arose.

Species of human are considered distinct by several traits. They are bipedal striders. They generally have large brains. Some also developed tools and use language. These traits became more pronounced as humans evolved further.

What is truly mind blowing is that there were times when there were several different species of human cohabitating the planet. When considering how well we humans of the same species get along with each other, it is not hard to speculate on how intra-human species relations were.

Let's take a look at some of these species of extinct humans and how they differed with one another. The truth of the matter is that the human species was once very diverse.

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Harald Hardrada: why there’s more to the last great Viking than his death in 1066


King Harald Sigurdsson of Norway – remembered by the name Hardrada, meaning ‘hard ruler’ – was a complex, fierce and ultimately doomed antihero. If the myriad ancient sagas and tales of him bear any truth, he was one of the great Vikings worthy of epic television series such as Game of Thrones or Vikings. An outcast son of a petty king, he rose to win a fortune, romance an empress, marry a princess, and carve himself a kingdom by the strength of his sword arm.

Harald made his first mark in history as a 15-year-old warrior, when he fought alongside his elder half-brother King Olaf II (later Saint Olaf) against Danes loyal to Cnut the Great in the battle of Stiklestad in 1030. The day ended with defeat, and for Olaf, death.

According to the Icelandic poet Snorri Sturluson, the fighting took place in part under a total eclipse of the Sun; a night fight in the middle of the day. Pagans may have believed the hole in the sky was the one-eyed god Odin watching over the battle and choosing the slain for Valhalla, while Christians may have recalled the midday darkness at the Crucifixion, a thousand years past. Eclipses have customarily been regarded as a bad omen throughout history, and here it would have been no different. Not only was Olaf slain, but Harald barely got away from the battle with his life.

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Friday, November 12, 2021

The St Brice’s Day Massacre: what really happened?


The 11th century in English history features its fair share of bloodshed in battles, but right at the start of the new millennium, there is one event that has always seemed to stand out for its violence: the St Brice’s Day Massacre of 13 November 1002.

“It continues to exercise a curious allure over successive generations of undergraduate essay-writers and their lecturers, whose own occasionally lurid interest follows a historiographical tradition going back almost a millennium, beginning with the Norman observers who sought to depict the event as one of the great, gory English national sins justifying the conquest of 1066.”

That’s a quote from Dr Benjamin Savill, of Trinity College, Dublin, in his article Remembering St Brictius: Conspiracy, Violence and Liturgical Time in the Danish Massacre of 1002, published in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History.

The massacre is a striking incident, but one for which we have only limited evidence (in common with most of the events of the period). There is a reference to it in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which notes that “in this year the king ordered to be slain all the Danish men who were in England”, and a further more detailed comment in a diploma of King Æthelred (the reigning monarch at the time) for the monastery of St Frideswide, Oxford, of 1004. That diploma describes how the Danes in that city sought sanctuary in a church, which was set upon and burnt down by “all the people in pursuit”.

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Metal detectorist unearths largest Anglo-Saxon treasure hoard ever discovered in England

 A number of gold coins and objects from the Norfolk hoard (Image credit: British Museum) 

A metal detectorist in West Norfolk, England, has unearthed the largest Anglo-Saxon treasure hoard ever discovered: a bounty of 131 coins and four golden objects. Most of the items were found over the course of six years by a single detectorist, who wishes to remain anonymous, according to the British Museum. 

Ten of the coins were dug up by former-police officer David Cockle, also using a metal detector, the Evening Standard reported. However, Cockle kept his discovery secret and then illegally sold the coins for 15,000 British pounds (about $20,000), according to BBC News. When the authorities discovered his theft in 2017, he was charged with converting criminal property and sentenced to 16 months in prison for "pure greed," presiding Judge Rupert Overbury said at the sentencing. Cockle was also dismissed from the police force. Of the 10 coins he sold, eight have been recovered.

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First finished pieces of Sutton Hoo replica ship joined together


The first two finished pieces of an 88ft-long replica of the Sutton Hoo longship have been joined together.

Archaeologist Angela Care Evans, who worked on a dig at Sutton Hoo in the 1960s while working as a research assistant for the British Museum, knocked in the first of three wooden pegs to join the keel to an extension piece.

The full-size reconstruction of the Saxon ship that was excavated in 1939 is being built in a shed beside the River Deben in Woodbridge, Suffolk.

It is to be made of oak donated by Suffolk farmers and secured with iron rivets.

Dating from the early 7th century, the original Sutton Hoo longship has been described as a ghost ship, as its timber had rotted away in the acidic soil, leaving only an imprint in the sand.

The project’s master shipwright, Tim Kirk, said: “Through building this, and it is really just a big experimental archaeology programme, we’re hoping to learn how the ship actually sailed.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2021

A Viking axe struck a Newfoundland tree in the year 1021. Here’s how scientists proved it



Hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus, the Norse became the first Europeans to cross the Atlantic and settle in North America. This long-posited theory was finally proven in the 1960s, following an archeological expedition to the site of L’Anse aux Meadows on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland. Until recently, the exact timing of the Viking settlement was only speculation, based on architectural remains, a few surviving artefacts and interpretations of Icelandic sagas written in the 1200s. But, as this video from Nature explains, using new carbon dating techniques, scientists at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands have found the exact year that a tree was felled by a Viking axe – 1021 CE. Further, this research also marks the earliest known point in history by which human migration had encircled the globe.

Watch the video...

Did Vikings and their stowaway mice beat Portugal to the Azores?

Vikings, as imagined by NC Wyeth, and their stowaway mice are now thought to be the earliest settlers on the Azores. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty

They came from the land of the ice and snow and the midnight sun – but still ended up in some balmy destinations. This is the conclusion of researchers who have discovered evidence to support the idea that the Vikings settled on the clement shores of the Azores several hundred years before the Portuguese arrived in 1427.

Given that the Vikings are usually associated with the frozen north, the claim is startling. Nevertheless, it is based on solid science, says a group of international researchers who recently analysed lakebed sediments in the Azores, an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic.

These were found to be rich in organic compounds that are found in cow and sheep faeces. At the same time, these samples were also found to contain high levels of charcoal but were low in pollen from native trees.

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Thursday, October 21, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

When the Vikings reached the Americas

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

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



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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, October 06, 2021

The Best-Preserved Pair of Skis from Prehistory


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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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Viking Hygiene, Clothing, & Jewelry



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, September 27, 2021

Whence the White Horse of Uffington?



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

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

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

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

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

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Amateur divers discover 'enormously valuable' hoard of Roman coins



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

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

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Temple at Uppsala

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Temple at Uppsala History Channel

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

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

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Was 536 AD the worst year in history?


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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 05, 2021

DNA Testing Just Revealed That This 1,000 Year Old Finnish Viking Was Likely A Well-Respected Intersex Warrior

A depiction of the Viking warrior as they would have been laid in the grave.

The Viking remains, which date to between 1050 and 1300, were buried with both male and female objects, suggesting a highly-regarded member of society with a non-binary gender identity.

In 1968, ditch-diggers in Suontaka, Finland, came across a puzzling mystery. They found a 1,000-year-old skeleton buried in women’s clothing — next to two swords. Archeologists speculated that they’d found a double burial, or perhaps evidence of a woman warrior.

In fact, DNA testing has shown that the skeleton was likely intersex, according to a study recently published in the European Journal of Archeology.

“According to current data, it is likely that the individual found in Suontaka had the chromosomes XXY, although the DNA results are based on a very small set of data,” explained Elina Salmela, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Helsinki.

For decades, the grave has confounded archeologists. The warrior, who likely died around 1050 to 1300, wore women’s clothing and had been buried with furs and jewelry. But its grave also contained two swords, including one laid at the skeleton’s hip, usually associated with male Viking burials.

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Spanish cave art was made by Neanderthals, study confirms

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A general view (left), medium close-up (middle) and extreme close up of a partly coloured stalagmite tower in the Spanish cave of Ardales, southern Spain.
Photograph: Joao Zilhao/ICREA/AFP/Getty Images

Study says pigments on cave stalagmites were applied through ‘splattering and blowing’ more than 60,000 years ago

Neanderthals, long perceived to have been unsophisticated and brutish, really did paint stalagmites in a Spanish cave more than 60,000 years ago, according to a study published on Monday.

The issue had roiled the world of paleoarchaeology ever since the publication of a 2018 paper attributing red ocher pigment found on the stalagmitic dome of Cueva de Ardales to our extinct “cousin” species.

The dating suggested the art was at least 64,800 years old, made at a time when modern humans did not inhabit the continent.

But the finding was contentious, and “a scientific article said that perhaps these pigments were a natural thing”, a result of iron oxide flow, Francesco d’Errico, co-author of a new paper in the journal PNAS, told AFP.

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Long-Lost Fragment of Stonehenge Gives Unprecedented Glimpse Inside Ancient Monument

Sample of the core from Stone 58 (British Geological Survey)

"We have CT-scanned the rock, zapped it with X-rays, looked at it under various microscopes and analyzed its sedimentology and chemistry," said study lead author David Nash, a professor of physical geography at the University of Brighton in England.

"With the exception of thin-section analyses and a couple of the chemical methods, all of the techniques we used in the study were new both to Stonehenge and the study of sarsen stones in the UK," Nash told Live Science in an email.

Stonehenge's central circle of pillars was erected during the Neolithic period, about 2,500 years ago, according to English Heritage, a nonprofit organization that manages historic monuments in England. 

"Sarsens were erected in two concentric arrangements – an inner horseshoe and an outer circle – and the bluestones [smaller monument stones] were set up between them in a double arc," English Heritage said on its website.

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New findings unveil a missing piece of human prehistory

IMAGE: GEOGRAPHICAL AND TEMPORAL DISTRIBUTION OF NEWLY SAMPLED INDIVIDUALS

A joint research team led by Prof. FU Qiaomei from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences sequenced the ancient genomes of 31 individuals from southern East Asia, thus unveiling a missing piece of human prehistory.

The study was published in Cell on June 24.

Prof. FU's team used DNA capture techniques to retrieve ancient DNA from Guangxi and Fujian, two provincial-level regions in southern China. They sequenced genome-wide DNA from 31 individuals dating back 11,747 to 194 years ago. Of these, two date back to more than 10,000 years ago, making them the oldest genomes sampled from southern East Asia and Southeast Asia to date.

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Carpenter’s Rude Carving In Church Is Exposed Hundreds Of Years Later

@clashboy23/Twitter

A carpenter’s rude carving on a church ceiling has been exposed hundreds of years later. 

The x-rated carving has been discovered at Hereford’s All Saints Church, due to the construction of a new cafe taking place.

The carving was spotted when a light was shone at the ceiling of the church, due to the cafe building an extra floor with bright lights for the restaurant area.

The carving depicts a naked man holding his legs in the air, exposing his genitalia for the world to see. A controversial choice for such a religious location.

The carving was never picked up on by visitors, having lain in the darkness, a secret from unassuming passersby below for over 800 years.

The saucy image went viral on Reddit, with the original post describing the carpenter as ‘skillful’ despite the controversial position of the man in the art.

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And here is the uncensored version of the picture:


Viking ‘amulet factory’ discovery forces rethink of enigmatic artifacts

Figurine motifs from Ribe, Denmark reveal a variety of designs were manufactured at the site.
MUSEUM OF SOUTHWEST JUTLAND, CC-BY-SA

Archaeologists long assumed Valkyrie figurines represented Norse mythical beings. A new study of how and where they were made challenges that.

Mysterious, ancient female figurines have been found by the dozens all over Denmark, and as far afield as England and Russia: inch-long bronze depictions of long-haired women, often wearing crested helmets and long dresses, and armed with shields and swords. The small amulets date back more than a thousand years, to the height of the Viking Age.

But because Viking women weren’t typically buried with weapons—unlike their male counterparts—researchers reached into sagas and mythology to explain the armed female figurines and concluded that they represented Valkyries, the  mythical warrior women ancient Scandinavians thought were responsible for transporting slain warriors to the afterlife.

“The images had always been understood in terms of what we know of Norse mythology,” says Pieterjan Deckers, an archaeologist at the Free University of Brussels.

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Anglo-Saxon Sword Pyramid Found in England

(Norfolk County Council/Portable Antiquities Scheme)

NORFOLK, ENGLAND—According to a BBC News report, a metal detectorist in the the Breckland area of Norfolk in eastern England has found a so-called sword pyramid dating to between A.D. 560 and 630, a time when the area was part of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of East Anglia. The object, which would have been part of a pair and whose fellow has not been found, was designed as a decorative fitting to keep a sword attached to its scabbard. Researchers have speculated that one of the sword pyramid's functions was to delay hasty unsheathing of a warrior's sword in anger.

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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Ancient Roman road and dock discovered in Venice lagoon

A digital reconstruction of the Roman road submerged in the Venice lagoon, which seems to have been part of a road system in the Veneto region.
Photograph: A Calandriello and G D’Acunto/SWNS

Find could prove there were human settlements in area centuries before city was founded

The discovery of the remains of a Roman road and dock submerged in the Venice lagoon could prove there were permanent human settlements in the area centuries before Venice was founded, researchers say.

Scuba divers discovered what appeared to be paving stones beneath the lagoon in the 1980s, but only after more recent research were the relics confirmed to have formed part of a road system.

“After speaking to those who first found these stones in the 1980s, I understood that it was something significant that could be anthropic,” said Fantina Madricardo, a researcher at the Venice-based Institute of Marine Science (Ismar) whose study was published this week in the Scientific Reports journal.

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Why could Stonehenge be stripped of world heritage site status?

Unesco says Stonehenge will be put on its danger list unless plans for the A303 road tunnel are changed. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Unesco has confirmed that Stonehenge could be stripped of its world heritage site status, over its concern that a road tunnel, backed by the government, would irreversibly damage an area of “outstanding universal value”.

A report to Unesco’s world heritage committee setting out concerns about the £1.7bn A303 road tunnel was approved unchanged on Thursday. Unless the designs for the two-mile (3.3km) tunnel are extended and changed, the committee recommends placing Stonehenge on Unesco’s list of world heritage in danger next year.

One of the two Beaker-period burials found near the site of the proposed Stonehenge road tunnel
Archaeologists unearth bronze age graves at Stonehenge tunnel site
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Last month the high court was told that a decision by Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, to approve the tunnel last November was unlawful because it did not properly consider damage that would be done to a string of prehistoric sites and many thousands of ancient artefacts.

Unesco’s committee found that if the high court confirms planning consent for the tunnel, Stonehenge should be placed on its danger list. It said that despite minor improvements to the original plan, the proposed cut-and-cover tunnel would irreversibly damage an area of “outstanding universal value”.

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Deposed Ninth-Century King May Have Called This Cave Dwelling Home

Researchers previously thought the cave was an 18th-century folly, or decorative structure
constructed to enhance the natural landscape.
(Mark Horton / Edmund Simons / Royal Agricultural University)

An early medieval cave structure in Derbyshire, England, may be the former home of a ninth-century king—and the United Kingdom’s oldest intact domestic interior.

As Mark Brown reports for the Guardian, new research conducted by experts from the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) and Wessex Archaeology suggests the 1,200-year-old dwelling once housed Eardwulf, an exiled ruler of the medieval English kingdom Northumbria. The team published its analysis in the Proceedings of the University of Bristol Speleological Society.

“Our findings demonstrate that this odd little rock-cut building in Derbyshire is more likely from the 9th century than from the 18th century as everyone had originally thought,” says lead author Edmund Simons, a research fellow at RAU, in a statement. “This makes it probably the oldest intact domestic interior in the U.K.—with doors, floor, roof, windows etc.—and, what’s more, it may well have been lived in by a king who became a saint!”

Per the statement, researchers previously believed the cave was an 18th-century folly (a type of decorative building constructed to enhance the natural landscape). Though the structure is classified by Historic England as a “[n]atural cave, enlarged and formed into a folly,” Simons tells the Guardian that he “can’t think of a natural process that makes walls, doors and windows, let alone pillars.”

The sandstone-chiseled building features narrow openings characteristic of Saxon architecture, notes BBC News. A nearby ninth-century crypt boasts a comparable rock-cut pillar, perhaps suggesting that the two buildings date to the same period.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Archaeologists baffled as Viking discovery in UK 'predates' Scandinavian artefacts

Professor Judith Jesch, from the University of Nottingham (Image: BBC)

Judith Jesch, Professor of Viking Studies at the University of Nottingham, detailed how experts were stunned after uncovering a series of these artefacts known as the runestones.

She told the History Hit podcast: "The most amazing body of Scandinavian runic inscriptions in Britain is actually the runestones of the Isle of Man which are from the core Viking Age – the 10th, possibly early 11th century.

"There are around 30 of them commemorating the dead and they are early hybrid monuments that have runic text with Scandinavian language.

"They are clearly a local product, they are made with local stone, the dating is a bit difficult, but they seem to be earlier than similar monuments in Norway.

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Cock of the north: Roman stone-carved penis uncovered during Yorkshire archaeological dig

Roman stone-carved penis discovered near Catterick
(Northern Archaeological Associates)

A Roman stone-carved penis is one of thousands of artefacts discovered during half a decade of excavation work around the town of Catterick, it has been revealed.

The 11in phallus – complete with line of ejaculate – is believed to date back to the early years of the ancient empire’s occupation of Britain, which began in the first century AD.

It is among more than 62,000 historical objects unearthed during five years of archaeological digs undertaken as part of work to upgrade the A1 around the North Yorkshire town – which was founded by the Romans.

Other treasures include a 2,000-year-old pistachio nut – the oldest ever found in Britain – as well as pottery, incense burners, brooches and works of art which were probably brought from the Mediterranean.

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‘Spectacular And Unexpected’ 1,500 Year Old Visigoth Sarcophagus Unearthed In Spain

The visigoth sarcophagus unearthed in Mula, Spain.

As they knelt in the dust and the heat, searching the former Roman settlement of Los Villaricos for history’s treasures, archeologists came across an incredible discovery. There, buried in pale yellow dirt, they found a 1,500-year-old Visigoth sarcophagus — complete with human remains.

“We weren’t expecting this spectacular discovery,” said Professor Rafael González Fernández, of the University of Murcia, who led the excavation.

The sarcophagus, about three feet long and in remarkably good condition, likely dates to the 6th or 7th century A.D. It features elaborate designs across its top, including a coiled geometric pattern, ivy leaves, and the Chi Rho sign. That sign appears frequently in Christian artwork to signify the victory of the Resurrection.

Archeologists came across the sarcophagus during an annual excavation of the former Roman settlement. As González explained:

“This year’s campaign was focused on finishing excavating the last three burials of the necropolis and continuing with the excavation work of the complex located to the north of the town, where in the last few years we had documented a new set of pools.”

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The final meal of the famous 'bog man' revealed: Tollund Man feasted on porridge and fish before being killed as a ritual sacrifice 2,400 years ago, study reveals

The amazingly well-preserved head of the Tollund Man - a man who lived during the
4th century BC

Tollund Man's gut contents had been analysed forensically when he was discovered in 1950, uncovering traces of cereals and wild plants. 

When Tollund Man was autopsied in 1950, his intestines were still preserved, and the alimentary canal from the stomach to anus was removed in one piece with its contents still in place.  

Now, experts from Silkeborg Museum in Denmark, say they have been able to reconstruct the last meal of Tollund Man in greater detail than ever before – right down to how it was prepared. 

The researchers used a few millilitres of material from the large intestine for analyses to give the 'most detailed study' yet on the gut contents of a bog body. 

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Exiled Medieval Anglo-Saxon King May Have Lived as Hermit in 9th-Century Cave Dwelling

Anchor Church cave may have belonged to a 9th-century king turned saint.
COURTESY ROYAL AGRICULATURAL UNIVERSITY

Archaeologists have identified an Anglo-Saxon cave house that may have belonged to a 9th-century king of Northumbria named Eardwulf. The discovery was made by the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) and Wessex Archaeology, which recently published their findings in the Proceedings of the University of Bristol Speleological Society.

The series of sandstone caves in Derbyshire, central England, were once believed to be follies—a popular 18th-century trend that involved elaborate structures with no real purpose, built mainly for decoration. New evidence, however, shows they were likely constructed or enlarged in the 9th century, after erosion from the River Trent had created natural caves at the site.

Anglo-Saxon architecture is featured throughout the rock-cut dwelling, with narrow arched windows and doors, as well as a pillar that resembles the nearby Repton crypt from the same period. “Using detailed measurements, a drone survey, and a study of architectural details, it was possible to reconstruct the original plan of three rooms and easterly facing oratory, or chapel, with three apses,” Edmund Simons, principal investigator of the project and research fellow at RAU, said in a statement.

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University of Sheffield to Close Archaeology Department Despite Protests

The University of Sheffield's Firth Court, 2020.
PRESS ASSOCIATION VIA AP IMAGES

The University of Sheffield, a public university in South Yorkshire, England, has decided to shut down their internationally renowned archaeology department. The executive board at the University first proposed the closure in late May.

Despite protests from students, faculty, staff, and cultural institutions, the University Council decided to go forward with the plan put forward by the executive board to close the department down. The University alerted faculty to this decision in a 13 minute presentation in which faculty were not able to respond as their microphones and cameras had been disabled by the meeting hosts.

The archaeology program at Sheffield is highly respected and is ranked 13th best in the world. The department heads numerous projects in Sheffield, Stonehenge, and other sites in Britain as well as international digs. Yet, the University executive board claimed the program was obsolete, citing that only 10 undergraduate students had committed to taking archaeology courses in the coming academic year.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2021

2,000-Year-Old Sarcophagus Found in England Reveals Roman Burial Practices


The north-facing orientation of the grave suggests it was a pagan burial.
(L-P Archaeology via Bath & North East Somerset Council)

Archaeologists in the city of Bath in southwest England have discovered an approximately 2,000-year-old Roman sarcophagus containing two bodies. The limestone coffin holds the preserved remains of one person in a prone position, with the partial remains of a second individual laid at their feet, the Bath Echo reports.

The north-facing orientation of the grave suggests it was a pagan burial. Nearby, researchers found a small pot containing food remains, as well as artifacts including small red and blue glass beads, possibly left as votive offerings. These types of donations to the gods were common in ancient Roman religion and represented a gift of thanks or payment, according to the Oxford Classical Dictionary.

“This is an amazing find,” says Sylvia Warman, science advisor for Historic England, in a statement. “Although several Roman stone coffins have been found around Bath in the past, none have been excavated and recorded by professional archaeologists using modern methods until today.”

Jesse Holth of ARTnews reports that the grave was buried beneath the grounds of Sydney Gardens, a Georgian pleasure garden once frequented by Jane Austen. Workers renovating and landscaping the garden for the Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Sydney Gardens Project discovered a Roman wall at the border of Bathwick Cemetery. When a team from L-P Archaeology excavated the site, they found the newly revealed burial. The archaeologists also uncovered cremated remains—the only known example of a cremation burial at the cemetery.

‘Hugely significant’ discoveries made on final day of excavation to find Shetland’s ancient Viking capital



Archaeological discoveries are getting closer to revealing the ancient Viking capital of Shetland.

The Skailway project, which has been underway since May when more than £20,000 was raised to fund an excavation, has reported findings of “huge significance”.

Kristian Leith has been hunting for the ancient capital ever since he found five round house structures and 26 human remains while digging foundations for a garden shed  last year.

After his successful crowdfunding appeal, Mr Leith brought in Orkney archaeological  experts, ORCA,  to carry out geophysical surveys in the land between the Mill Brae road and his home in Upper Scalloway.

The first nine trenches came up with nothing – but the last day of the investigation uncovered a structure, which is thought to be part of the ancient settlement.

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Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Campaign hopes to shore up Offa’s Dyke against future threats

‘It’s not the most glamorous of monuments.’ A tree clinging to Offa’s Dyke near Oswestry, Shropshire. Photograph: Rob McBride


It is Britain’s longest monument and one of the most extraordinary: a 1,200-year-old earthwork that snakes through moor, mountain, field and back garden, crisscrossing the modern incarnation of the Welsh and English border.

But concerns are being raised that Offa’s Dyke is suffering serious damage through a combination of neglect, carelessness or, in some cases, land grabs and vandalism.

This month, to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 177-mile Offa’s Dyke path, a campaign is being launched to highlight the jeopardy the earthwork faces and to raise money to begin repairing sections of it, a task that will take years.

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Skeletons of twin infant Vikings discovered in Sweden

This close-up shot shows one of the burials found in the tombs in Sweden. They are believed to be Christianized Vikings who lived about 1,000 years ago.
(Image credit: Photo courtesy Uppdrag arkeologi) 

Seven Viking tombs holding well-preserved skeletons, including possible twin infants, have been discovered in the Swedish town of Sigtuna. 

The archaeologists discovered the 1,000-year-old remains of eight people — four adults and four children — inside the tombs; they were likely Vikings who had converted to Christianity. "The Christian character of the now-excavated graves is obvious because of how the tombs were laid out," said Johan Runer, a project manager with Uppdrag arkeologi, a cultural resource management company, which led excavations of the site. 

Most of the people had been buried flat on their back in an east-west position, whereas people who followed traditional Viking beliefs in this area of Sweden at this time tended to be cremated, Runer said. 

They also found deposits of charcoal and in some cases partially burnt caskets, suggesting fire rituals were involved in at least four burials. "Such phenomena are rather common in Christian Viking period graves, but previously rather rare in Sigtuna," Runer told Live Science in an email. 

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Twin Viking Babies Found in a Surprisingly Christian-Looking Burial in Sweden

Remains of a stone cairn were found over this tomb. (Uppdrag arkeologi)

Seven Viking tombs holding well-preserved skeletons, including possible twin infants, have been discovered in the Swedish town of Sigtuna. 

The archaeologists discovered the 1,000-year-old remains of eight people - four adults and four children - inside the tombs; they were likely Vikings who had converted to Christianity.

"The Christian character of the now-excavated graves is obvious because of how the tombs were laid out," said Johan Runer, a project manager with Uppdrag arkeologi, a cultural resource management company, which led excavations of the site. 

Most of the people had been buried flat on their back in an east-west position, whereas people who followed traditional Viking beliefs in this area of Sweden at this time tended to be cremated, Runer said. 

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Monday, July 05, 2021

Ancient Roman Sarcophagus Containing Two Skeletons Unearthed in Bath, England

 An ancient Roman sarcophagus containing two burials, unearthed at Sydney Gardens, Bath, England, 2021.
Courtesy the Bath & North East Somerset Council

A 2,000-year-old stone coffin with two skeletons inside has been discovered on the grounds of Sydney Gardens in Bath, England. The Bath & North East Somerset Council announced the find on Monday, calling it a “rare glimpse into local burial practices” during the Roman era.

Sydney Gardens, once an 18th century Georgian “pleasure garden,” frequented by famed novelist Jane Austen, had been undergoing renovations and landscaping when a Roman wall was uncovered on the border of Bathwick Cemetery.

As a team from L-P Archaeology began to excavate the site, they discovered the 6½-foot-long coffin. The sarcophagus, made of limestone from the region, held two sets of human remains with one partial skeleton laying at the other’s feet, and faced north, indicating it was likely a pagan burial.

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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Archaeologists excavate King's Quarter redevelopment to find Roman artefacts


Archaeologists have descended on the £85million King's Quarter redevelopment after discoveries were made below the ground.

They're hoping to find ancient Roman artefacts, underneath the ground being developed in to digital hub The Forum.

Last year, remnants of Whitefriars, a 13th century friary founded by the Carmelites, one of the Roman Catholic Church’s four great mendicant (living by charity) orders, was discovered underneath a city centre car park.

Whitefriars was one of several important religious houses in medieval Gloucester along with Llanthony Priory, the Blackfriars and the Greyfriars. 

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