Wednesday, April 13, 2022

This pile of rubble is actually an ancient fort. Historians have discovered 450 of them around Norway

A wall built around the Andorsrud fort in Øvre Eiker in Buskerud 
(Photo: Kristine Friis Jørgensen)

In times of shifting power relations during pre-viking times, many may have needed a stone structure for protection. But were they also used for other means?

Archaeologists and local historians have long discussed why people took on the difficult job of setting up stone and earth forts in many parts of the country.

About 450 so called hill forts have been recorded in Norway to date.

When archaeology as a discipline in Norway first began in earnest in the 19th century, hill forts were one of the first things researchers started studying. These structures, typically stones set in strategic locations, were called hill forts because it was thought that they must be a kind of defensive structure where villagers could seek refuge if their village was attacked.

This theory is still believed to be correct.

But perhaps these forts were used for something more.

Read the rest of this article...

The Viking Sieges of Paris

By Danielle Turner

Ninth-century France proved very lucrative for the Vikings. It was a land marred by civil war and bad harvests, and the Norsemen took advantage of this through raiding and mercenary acts. France’s riverine system and innovations in the Viking longship allowed the Danes to penetrate deep into the continent and make a fortune in plunder from monasteries. Paris would be the ultimate target, and the Vikings besieged the city twice and received tribute payment in both cases. Why were the Vikings able to continuously successfully pillage France? Were the Frankish rulers inept, cowardly, or just practical in their handling of Norse incursions?

Read the rest of this article...

Ancient Cities and Landscapes from Space

Ancient Cities and Landscapes from Space: How Remote Sensing is Transforming Archaeology

Presenter: Dr. Timothy Murtha, Professor, University of Florida

April 20, 2022 | 8 - 9pm



Further information...

Brittany in the 6th century – abandoned, wet, cold and covered in forests

New research reveals a marked shift in the landscape of Northwestern France in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages

During the period from ca. AD 300–600, early medieval Europe was on the cusp of a significant climatic shift. Marked by stormy weather and shifts in dynamic precipitation levels, the landscapes in Northwestern France changed. Likely caused by a mixture of cyclical variations in solar activities with shifts in the ocean and atmospheric activities, these changes were also reinforced by volcanic events in AD 536, 40, 74 and 626. Exactly which impact each of these explanatory factors contributed is still under debate. However, the deserted and reforested character of large stretches of Europe can no longer be questioned.

Recently, the same consequences were detected at the Bay of Brest in a study undertaken by a French group of scientists led by Claude Lambert, who has carried out a series of palynological studies at the Bay of Brest. The Bay is a shallow near-enclosed basin covering 180 km2 and surrounded by a 250 km long coastline. Two rivers – the Aulne and the Élorn – flow into the Bay.

Read the rest of this article...

The Greek Origins of Marseille, France’s Oldest City

The Greek origins of Marseille. Credit: Christophe.Finot, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons

The huge port city of Marseille in southern France was founded by Greeks back in 600 BC when the first immigrants arrived in the area and established a trading colony.

The Greeks are well known for their ancient tales of glory and tragedy, as well as their civilization’s innumerable contributions to the very foundations of our modern world.

However, what is lesser-known is that throughout the centuries, they founded scores of cities across the Mediterranean which not only exist today but thrive and play a crucial role in their region’s affairs.

Read the rest of this article...

New Thoughts on the Peopling of Eurasia

BOLOGNA, ITALY—According to a statement released by the University of Bologna, Leonardo Vallini, Luca Pagani, and Telmo Pievani of the University of Padova and Giulia Marciani and Stefano Benazzi of the University of Bologna compiled genetic and archaeological data to produce a picture of the movements of modern humans in East Asia and Europe. The researchers suggest that there were several waves of expansion and local extinction from a theoretical population hub where the ancestors of all Eurasians lived after migrating out of Africa some 60,000 to 70,000 years ago. In this scenario, the location of the population hub is unknown. The researchers suggest that more than 45,000 years ago, a group of modern humans, represented by remains discovered in the Czech Republic at the site of Zlatý kůň, eventually died out. This group is not related to modern Europeans or Asians.

Read the rest of this article...

Church of the Holy Sepulchre's ancient altar rediscovered, researchers say

Pressed against a wall in a back corridor of Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a stone slab bore testimony only to the graffiti etched on it by multitudes of pilgrims through the ages.

But the 2.5 x 1.5 meter stone turned out to be far more precious when its other side was exposed during recent renovations at the church, the traditional site of Jesus's crucifixion and burial.

Researchers believe the elaborate looping ornaments they found on the long-hidden part of the slab indicate it was once the decorated front of a medieval high altar that took pride of place centuries ago in one of Christianity's holiest sites.

Read the rest of this article...

Historic England strongly object to Norris Castle proposals in initial advice to council

Norris Castle is described as one of the great treasures of the Isle of Wight and Historic England say the plans entail a very high degree of harm to Norris’s significance

Historic England has submitted its initial advice to Isle of Wight council, strongly objecting to proposals which will severely impact the Norris Castle estate.

Norris Castle is of outstanding importance as a particularly beautiful and unusually well-preserved picturesque ensemble of house, landscape and ancillary buildings. The current application is to turn the estate into a resort.

Proposals would entail a very high degree of harm
This would involve major change to the castle and farm along with extensive development around these buildings and within the wider landscape.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Spot goes to Pompeii: Why a robot dog is patrolling ancient ruins

Spot can autonomously roam the site checking for safety issues that may emerge Archaeological Park of Pompeii

Boston Dynamics’ robot dog Spot has been tasked with a new job - patrolling the ancient ruins of Pompeii. The robot will be used to inspect the site for safety issues and record structural changes over time to better manage the historic ruins.

Ever since Boston Dynamics began developing its dog-like robot over a decade ago it has been one of those innovative solutions in search of a problem. In recent years, as the company commercialized Spot, it has been given a number of jobs, from working on an oil rig to herding sheep in New Zealand.

Spot’s latest job takes it to Italy and the ancient site of Pompeii, a Roman city famous for being struck by catastrophic volcanic eruption around 2,000 years ago. Part of Spot’s work will be to autonomously roam the site with a 3D scanner tracking any small changes to structures that could signal a need for intervention.

Read the rest of this article...

Bone Of Contention? Six Letters That Could Rewrite Slavic History

Alena Slamova and Jiri Machacek with the fragment of cow rib that could change a lot of what we know about the early Slavs

It had long been believed that Slavs had not adopted a writing system until the ninth century, when they started using Glagolitic script introduced by the Christian missionaries Cyril and Methodius. But that is some three centuries after the inscription on the Lany bone, which has been dated using genetic and radiocarbon methods to around 600 A.D.

An Old Debate

The idea that Slavs had learned writing earlier than the arrival of these Byzantine proselytizers during the time of the Great Moravian Empire has long been a matter of debate.

As far back as the 19th century, some prominent Slavonic scholars had posited the idea that Slavs had already achieved a level of literacy in the pre-Christian era. One of the main cornerstones of their argument had been a text by a Bulgarian monk and scholar named Chernorizets Hrabar, whose work from around 900 A.D. made reference to a system of writing using "strokes and incisions" that he said had been adopted by the early Slavs.

Read the rest of this article...

Scandinavia before the Vikings

The scenic beauty of Scandinavia existed long before the Vikings made it their home

In this article, we shed-light on Pre-Viking Scandinavia, a topic which is often ignored but is equally fascinating.

Let’s begin!

The Ice Age: Landscape and the Fjords

The scenic beauty of Scandinavia existed long before the Vikings made it their home. The Norwegian Fjords, formed during the Ice age, are a world-famous tourist destination. UNESCO has declared some of them as world heritage sites, including Geirangerfjord, a 9.3-mile fjord with many waterfalls and dramatic mountain scenery.

About 2.4 million years ago, the ice started to cover mountains, and the pressure caused mountain pieces to break away, letting seawater rush into the opening. When the ice age ended, and the snow melted away, the mountain pieces that broke away formed a U-shaped wall filled with seawater. These narrow pathways of water surrounded by beautiful sceneries are truly nature’s masterpiece.

Read the rest of this article...

Friday, April 01, 2022

These Scots Still Fish Like the Vikings

Legend has it that the beam is as long as a Viking's oar.

WHEN ON DRY LAND, EXPERT fisherman John Warwick goes by his legal name. But when he’s standing chest-deep in the Solway Firth, negotiating the capricious tide, he’s known as Young Slogger. His father, Slogger, fished the firth before him, and the nickname identifies Warwick as part of a line of succession—not just a fisherman, but a haaf net fisherman, and therefore a guardian of tradition.

The Vikings were the first haaf netters. Many centuries ago, when they arrived in this narrow passage of the Irish Sea, the Nordic mariners developed a new method of fishing better suited to the local tides. Rather than cast lines from the comfort of a boat or shore, they stood in the water with a 16-foot-long beam affixed to a net and bisected by a 6.5-foot-tall pole. By digging the pole into the sand and holding the beam above water, haafers created a soccer goal-like structure that could trap unsuspecting salmon or trout riding the tide. The residents of Annan, a town in southwestern Scotland that hugs the Solway Firth, have been haafing ever since, braving quicksand and currents for the occasional catch and, more consistently, the camaraderie.

“I was brought up in a fishing family,” says Warwick. “My father haaf netted, and his father before him.”

Read the rest of this article...