Tuesday, October 24, 2023

How the Vindelev Hoard changed our understanding of the worship of Odin

The Vindelev Hoard, a treasure trove of golden artifacts dating back to centuries before the Viking Age, was accidentally discovered by an amateur metal detectorist in Denmark in 2020. Source: Vejlemuseerne / Vejle Konserveringscenter (CC BY-SA 4.0)

What secrets about the spiritual beliefs of Viking societies did an unsuspecting metal detectorist uncover among the gold he found beneath the Danish soil?

I recently listened to a BBC History Extra podcast discussing archaeology. Both the host and the guest, a Professor of Archaeology from University College London, expressed their chagrin about the influence on archaeology in recent decades.

Much of this influence has been attributed to "the man in the hat with the whip" - the fictional movie character and swashbuckling archaeologist Indiana Jones, portrayed by Harrison Ford.

Throughout the podcast, much was made of the unrealistic depictions of archaeology in the Indiana Jones movies. 

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Roman grave found at water pipeline construction site

A 2,000-year-old coin was found during excavations

Archaeologists have unearthed a Roman grave and a 2,000-year-old coin on the route of a planned water pipeline.

The discoveries were made at the proposed Southern Water site in Hampshire.

Members of Wessex Archaeology have been carrying out the excavations before pipelines are installed between Andover, Otterbourne and Portsmouth.

The scheme is linked to plans for a new reservoir at Havant Thicket, the first to be built in England for 25 years.

Dr Nicola Meakins of Southern Water said: "Roman graves are not uncommon - when the Romans built roads, legionnaires who died were simply buried by the side of the road.

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Meet Denny, The Only Human Hybrid Remains Ever Unearthed

A few finger bone fragments are all that is left of Denny.
Image credit: Brown et al., Scientific Reports, 2016 (CC BY 4.0)

The bones of “Denny” are the only known physical remains of a first-generation human hybrid, born as a result of a Neanderthal breeding with a Denisovan. As exceptional as her remains might be, a deep dive into the genome of modern-day Homo sapiens shows there were once plenty more hominin hybrid individuals around.

The finger bones were unearthed in 2012 within the Denisova Cave, a cave in the Altai mountains of Siberia that has yielded an immense amount of remains belonging to Denisovans, Neanderthals, and Homo sapiens. Estimated to be around 90,000 years old, the researchers named the remains "Denisova 11", or Denny for short. 

As reported in the journal Nature in August 2018, scientists carried out a DNA analysis of the bone and revealed it was even more fascinating than they initially realized: it belonged to a teenage female who had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father. 

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Monday, October 23, 2023

New Discovery Uncovers a Forgotten Viking Queen More Celebrated Than Kings

The runestone from Læborg is dedicated to Thyra as the dróttning, meaning “lady” or “queen.” NATIONAL MUSEUM OF DENMARK

WHEN YOU THINK OF VIKINGS, your mind may imagine the muscular Norse Gods: Thor, Odin, or Loki. Or perhaps you might picture fierce-looking bearded men aboard slender, symmetrical boats rowing oars in unison, commanded by feared war heroes like Ragnar Lothbrok.

Yet a recent investigation has found that, during the Viking Age, one of the most celebrated leaders was actually a woman. A recent study has found that Queen Thyra is honored on runestones far more than any male counterpart.

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Scientists reveal the cause of Earth's last ice age

At the beginning of the last ice, local mountain glaciers grew and formed large ice sheets, like the one seen here. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)

For quite some time, paleo-climate specialists have been perplexed by two enigmas: What was the origin of the ice sheets that defined the final ice age, and how could they expand so rapidly?

Fresh research conducted by University of Arizona's experts suggests a plausible explanation for the swift expansion of the ice sheets that coated a considerable portion of the Northern Hemisphere during the last ice age. Furthermore, the study's findings may be applicable to other glacial periods in the Earth's past.

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‘A Neolithic feat of engineering’: Orkney dig reveals ruins of huge tomb

Fourteen skeletons were found in one of six rooms surrounding the main chambeer at the site. Photograph: National Museums Scotland

‘A Neolithic feat of engineering’: Orkney dig reveals ruins of huge tomb
Clues unearthed more than 100 years ago inspired archeologists to locate the 5,000-year-old site

The ruins of a 5,000-year-old tomb in a construction that reflects the pinnacle of neolithic engineering in northern Britain has been unearthed in Orkney.

Fourteen articulated skeletons of men, women and children – two positioned as if they were embracing – have been found inside one of six cells or side rooms.

The tomb measures more than 15m in diameter and contains a stone structure accessed through a long passage of around seven metres. The excavation was headed by Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark, senior curator of prehistory (neolithic) at the National Museums Scotland, and Prof Vicki Cummings, professor of neolithic archaeology at Cardiff University.

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‘Orkney dig reveals ruins of huge tomb’

Staff and students from the UHI Archaeology Institute with Professor Vicki Cummings during a visit to the excavation site in September 2023. (📷 Sigurd Towrie)

In August and September, excavation in the East Mainland parish of Holm revealed the remains of a Maeshowe-type chambered cairn.

At the helm of the three-week dig were Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark and Professor Vicki Cummings.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Medieval Cemetery Discovered in Finland

(Riikka Saarinen / Turku Museum Center)

SALO, FINLAND—YLE reports that construction work to install geothermal pipes in western Finland’s Salonjoki River Valley turned up an iron sword dated to between A.D. 1050 and 1150. The sword has a straight cross guard and a three-sided pommel. Juha Ruohonen of the University of Turku determined that the weapon belonged to a burial in what could be a cemetery containing 200 Christian burials situated near a church.

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Thor's hammer part of Viking finds returning to Thetford

The Thor's hammer pendant, which could have been worn by one of the invaders, was found just outside South Lopham, about 11 miles (17km) from Thetford

A Thor's hammer and a pottery lamp are among Viking Great Army finds returning to the town where they were discovered.

Thousands of Scandinavians formed an army in England to raid and conquer between AD865-878, and Thetford in Norfolk was one of their winter camps.

The story of how this led to the town becoming a major Viking settlement will be told at its Ancient House Museum.

Curator Oliver Bone said the exhibits "show how important this area was in the Viking story".

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Thor's hammer pendant unearthed in Norfolk declared treasure

A silver pendant bearing the hammer of the Norse god Thor unearthed in Norfolk may be linked to the first Viking invaders of Britain.

The artefact, estimated to have been made in either the 9th or 10th century, is made largely of silver and is in the shape of the hammer symbol associated with the deity. 

During a treasure inquest into the find, a report from Gareth Williams, a curator at the British Museum, said the discovery - at an undisclosed location in Norfolk  - may have been linked to the Viking Great Army which invaded Britain in the 9th century.

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Crusader Era Cemetery and Sword Discovered in Finland

Crusader era sword found in Salo, Finland.

Crusader era burials have been found in a cemetery by archaeologists in Salo, Finland, according to Heritage Daily.

While a pipe trench was being dug near a medieval stone church, a local landowner noticed an iron object in the dirt earlier this year in August. The object, which was identified as a sword, was reported to archaeologists at Turku University and the Turku Museum Centre.

The sword was found with a bent blade, a straight hilt, and a three-sided oval pommel. It dates between 1050–1150 CE or the Crusader era, during which time the Swedish brought Christianity to Finland.

The team also found part of the scabbard, additional pieces of blade, iron objects, and human remains in the same area.

A leather belt with 30 square rosette-patterned bronze ornaments is among the most notable finds, along with a buckle, several end and animal head buckles, strap dividers, and leather pieces.

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Sunday, October 15, 2023

Norwegian Archaeologists Are Salvaging Priceless Artefacts From Melting Glaciers—Before It’s Too Late

The arrow found by Glacier Archaeology Program. Image: Espen Finstad/secretsoftheice.com.

There is surely little upside to the environmental changes posed by global warming, but nevertheless, a group of Norwegian archaeologists is seizing the opportunities presented by the country’s rapidly melting glaciers.

That group is Glacier Archaeology Program—snappy internet alias: Secrets of the Ice—and since receiving permanent government funding in 2011 it has been responsible for 90 percent of Norway’s glacial finds.

Granted, the group’s success is partly tied to the topography of Innlandet. The county boasts many of Norway’s highest peaks, and the team has pursued salvaging artefacts from remote locations in a comprehensive and systematic manner. To date, it has made 4,000 finds across 66 sites

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Saturday, October 14, 2023

Varangian Guard, the Vikings of the Byzantine Empire

Depiction of the Varangian Guard,the Vikings of the Byzantine Empire.
Image: Joannis Scylitza, 12th century. Credit: Public domain

The Vikings were seafaring from Scandinavia. They most famously raided in and around the British Isles and the western coasts of Europe. However, what many people do not know is that they were active much further east, too. They played a surprising yet significant role in the Byzantine Empire, where they formed the Varangian Guard. What do we know about the Varangian Guard, the Vikings of the Byzantine Empire?

The Origin of the Varangians

The Varangians were Vikings from Sweden. In the ninth century, a group of them settled in Northwest Russia, where the city of Novgorod is located today. A man named Rurik was the legendary leader of this group. He was referred to as the Rus’, and the settlement, established in the year 862 according to a twelfth century chronicle, was likewise referred to as such.

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1,000-Year-Old Viking Runes May Finally Solve Mystery of an Ancient Queen

Jelling 2 with runes chosen for analysis. (3D-scanning by Zebicon, drawing by Laila Kitzler Åhfeldt.)3D-scanning by Zebicon, drawing by Laila Kitzler Åhfeld

A team of archaeologists from the National Museum of Denmark has used 3D scanning technology to analyze runes carved in stone that date back to more than 1,000 years ago. Their study of the ancient texts, published in the peer-reviewed journal Antiquity, has revealed new details about a mysterious Danish queen, Thyra, which together suggest she played a significant role in the emergence of the Scandinavian nation as a political force.

The discovery was made by re-analyzing two sets of runestones which were carved by Vikings in Denmark in the 10th century C.E. The first set, the Jelling Stones, was linked to Harald Bluetooth, a 10th century Danish King who is widely-regarded as the creator of Denmark. Bluetooth was the son of King Gorm and Queen Thyra — but historians had scant information about the couple or their reign. 

But the second set of runestones, called the Ravnunge-Tue Stones after its rune-carver, sheds a little more light on royals, and some historical analyses had theorized that several stones were inscribed in honor of Thyra on Bluetooth’s orders.

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Extremely Rare Medieval Folding Chair Reveals Its Secrets

A rarity: this iron folding chair was found during an excavation in Steinsfeld, Bavaria. Credit:BLfD/​dpa

In 2022, archaeologists made a very unusual find. A Medieval folding chair was discovered in a woman's grave in Steinsfeld in Central Franconia in the Ansbach district, Germany.

Examinations of the woman's skeleton showed she was around 40 to 50 when she died. The dead woman had a necklace of colored glass beads around her neck.

At the time of the discovery, the Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments was only the second discovery of an iron folding chair from the early Middle Ages in Germany. Across Europe, 29 sites of early medieval graves with folding chairs have been handed down, only six of which are made of iron.

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15th c. wood road found in Belgium

The wooden foundations of a 15th century road have been unearthed in Lier, a city on the outskirts of Antwerp, Belgium. The wood road emerged from under a modern street during city sewer works. The original sewers were built in the 1930s and by happy coincidence they were installed next to the medieval street instead of over it or crossing it, so the road was not exposed or damaged at that time.

The town of Lier grew around the hermitage of its most famous son, the 8th century saint Gummarus, on the banks of the Nete River. Settlements around the hermitage were destroyed in 9th century Norman raids, but the the relics and chapel of St. Gummarus made it a site of pilgrimage, drawing permanent construction and residents to the area. The earliest historical references to what would become Lier date to 970 A.D. The oldest surviving building is the Romanesque St. Peter’s Chapel, originally built in the 13th century. The medieval city center is located at the confluence of the Grote Nete (Big Nete) and Kleine Nete (Little Nete) where the two rivers come together to form the Nete. It was granted official municipal status in 1212, and by the end of that century it was a regionally important center of the textile trade.

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Neanderthals Hunted Lions with Spears, and New Research Reveals How They Might Have Done It

A 48,000-year-old lion skeleton found in a cave in modern-day Germany has provided researchers with new evidence of early predator hunting by hominids, according to new evidence outlined in a study published by Scientific Reports Thursday. The same study reports potential evidence of hominids turning cave lion skins into pelts based on new analysis of different, much older remains. These findings represent the earliest known proof that Neanderthals were effective hunters of large carnivores rather than just scavengers trying to avoid them.

A skeleton of a cave lion with a significant puncture wound in its rib was discovered in 1985 near Siegsdorf in southeastern Germany, at the foot of the Bavarian Alps. The puncture wound and surrounding cracks are located on the interior side of the rib, indicating that a spear likely struck it from the inside after passing through the lion’s vitals. Other “lesions,” probably the result of butchering, mark other bones.

“The hunting lesions include a partial puncture and possible drag marks,” the study reads. “The partial puncture was observed on the [rear] side … of rib III … It is oval-shaped in outline, exhibits circumferential and radial cracking on the impact … side, and lacks an exit wound.”

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A Horse Is a Horse?

Nearly 25 years ago, a team working in Hohle Fels Cave in southern Germany’s Swabia region unearthed a small piece of carved ivory they believed represented a horse’s head. Even as three more small ivory pieces that were part of the same figurine were found subsequently, their judgment didn’t change. A fifth piece of the Ice Age sculpture has recently been discovered, and researchers now believe it depicts an entirely different animal. “As soon as the pieces were fit together, it was clear from the shape of the shoulder and body that they couldn’t belong to a horse,” says archaeologist Nicholas Conard of the University of Tübingen.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Viking Queen Thyra’s Power And Position Revealed On Famous Jelling Runestones

New research not only reveals who carved the runes into the Jelling stones, but also hints at how important Queen Thyra was.
Image credit: auralaura/Shutterstock.com

Today we recognize that handwriting is unique to each person. From the way we form our letters to the amount of pressure we place on pen and paper, the details of our individual writing can be used to identify us. The same, it seems, is true for ancient runesmiths, which has allowed archaeologists to finally identify the person who carved the amazing Jelling stones in Denmark and reveal the power of a 10th-century Viking queen.

The Jelling stones are located in the town of Jelling, near the eastern coast of Denmark. They consist of two massive stone monuments that date back to the 10th century CE. The oldest was erected by King Gorm the Old to honor his wife Thyra, while the second stone was raised by his son, Harald Bluetooth (of hands-free fame) to commemorate his parent’s memory. This second stone also contains intricate carvings that describe Harald’s achievements. It celebrates his conquest of Denmark and Norway and how he converted the Danes to Christianity. 

The markings on these stones are beyond impressive. They contain both runic inscriptions as well as carved images – one side of the youngest stone displays the oldest known image of Christ in Scandinavia. 

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Mysterious Viking queen may have helped unify Denmark in the 900s

The Læborg runestone has an inscription that mentions Queen Thyra

Queen Thyra, the mother of King Harald Bluetooth, was commemorated on four runestones in different parts of Denmark – suggesting she was a powerful figure

A mysterious queen named Thyra who lived during the Viking era may have been one of the founders of what is now Denmark. Multiple commemorative “runestones” mention her by name, suggesting she was a central figure.

“Because of the many runestones erected in honour of Thyra, we can conclude that she must have been very powerful and that she came from a very powerful family,” says Lisbeth Imer at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.

Denmark’s Viking Age lasted from around AD 800 to 1050. A key figure was Harald “Bluetooth”, who was king from about AD 958 until his death in 987. The Bluetooth wireless technology standard is named after him. Harald’s parents were King Gorm, who came to power in around 936, and Queen Thyra.

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'Denmark’s salvation'? Runestones hint at Viking queen's power

New research on 1,000-year-old inscriptions suggests that the wife and mother of two Viking rulers may have been much more powerful in her own right—perhaps even a leader of the early Danish realm.

In a study published today in Antiquity, scientists provide a new analysis of Denmark’s Jelling runestones—inscribed stone monuments carved more than a millennia ago to commemorate the Viking king Gorm the Old, his wife Thyra, and the actions of their son, king Harald Bluetooth.

The Jelling Stones, located in the eastern Jutland town of Jelling, contain the earliest mentions of Denmark as a political entity. The smaller and older runestone, with an inscription written in the runic alphabet, was erected by Gorm around A.D. 950; the inscription on the larger Jelling Stone, commissioned by son Harald Bluetooth, also records Denmark’s conversion from Norse paganism to Christianity in 965 and is considered by many to be Denmark's "birth certificate."  (Harald Bluetooth’s name is best known today as a networking standard for wireless communications.)

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Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Glass windows could be found in Viking-Age Denmark and Sweden, study finds

New research has revealed that the Vikings had windows with glass panes as early as the 9th century. While glazed windows are associated with medieval churches and castles, we have plenty of examples from Viking-age Denmark and Sweden.

A research team led by a conservation expert from the National Museum of Denmark makes the claim in an article just published in the Danish Journal of Archaeology. They did so by re-examining over 61 glass fragments found from six Viking-age sites.

“Several fragments of glass windows found on important Viking Age sites in South Scandinavia, made us wonder if it was just a mere coincidence that they were there,” says Torben Sode, the study’s lead author who first noticed the special find material. “And it wasn’t, they can be dated to the Vikings Age and most likely must have been in use in that time-period as well.”

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Monday, October 09, 2023

How the Great Heathen Army slaughtered all before them during the Dark Ages

The Great Heathen Army, a coalition of Norse warriors, stormed the shores of England in the late 9th century, forever altering the trajectory of the island nation's history.

Originating from the rugged landscapes of Scandinavia, these Viking invaders were driven by a combination of ambition, revenge, and the lure of England's riches.

Their arrival posed a formidable challenge to the fragmented Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, which were ill-prepared for the scale and ferocity of the Viking onslaught.

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Anglo-Saxon Burials Are Challenging Our Understanding of Gender Identity

A reconstruction of a helmet found in the Sutton Hoo burial.
(British Museum, Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

There are a significant number of Anglo-Saxon burials where the estimated anatomical sex of the skeleton does not align with the gender implied by the items they were buried with.

Some bodies identified as male have been buried with feminine clothing, and some bodies identified as female have been found in the sorts of "warrior graves" typically associated with men.

In the archaeology of early Anglo-Saxon England, weaponry, horse-riding equipment and tools are thought to signal masculinity, while jewelery, sewing equipment and beads signal femininity. And, for the most part, this pattern fits.

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Saturday, October 07, 2023

Rare medieval Cheddar brooch found in Somerset field to go on display

A detail of the Cheddar brooch after conservation work.
Photograph: Museum of Somerset

When it emerged from the earth it was dull, corroded and battered, the centuries it had spent lying beneath a Somerset field having taken their toll.

Now restored and gleaming, the Cheddar brooch, a rare early medieval piece regarded as one of the most important finds of its kind, is going on display at a museum close to where it was found by a metal detectorist.

Dating from about AD800 to 900, the large silver and copper alloy disc brooch hails from a time when the survival of Saxon Wessex was in doubt and Athelney on the Somerset Levels provided a refuge for King Alfred the Great.

Interlaced animal and plant designs in bright silver and black niello – usually a mixture, of sulphur, copper, silver and lead – are set against a gilded back panel. The animals represented include wyverns – dragon-like creatures with two legs, wings and long tails that would later become a symbol of Wessex.

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The Cheddar Brooch will be on display in the Museum’s ‘Making Somerset’ gallery from Friday 20 October

A very rare Early Medieval brooch, that lay hidden for many centuries, is going on display at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton. It comes from a time when the survival of Saxon Wessex was in doubt and Somerset provided a refuge for King Alfred the Great at Athelney.

Dating from about AD 800 to 900, the large silver and copper alloy disc brooch is well over a thousand years old and is one of the most important single objects ever found in the county. Conservation work by Pieta Greaves of Drakon Heritage has removed centuries of corrosion and soil deposits to reveal the exceptional quality of its decoration. Interlaced animal and plant designs in bright silver and black ‘niello’ are set against a gilded back panel. The animals represented include wyverns – dragon-like creatures with two legs, wings and long tails, that would later become one of the symbols of Wessex.

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Vikings had windows, another shift away from their image as barbaric Norsemen, Danish museum says

Mads Dengsø Jessen, a senior researcher at the National Museum of Denmark, holds a glass fragment from the Viking Age.
John Fhær Engedal Nissen / The National Museum of Denmark via AP

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Vikings had windows — usually only associated with medieval churches and castles — meaning Norsemen dignitaries sat in rooms lit up by apertures with glass, Danish researchers said Thursday. The glass panes can be dated from long before the churches and castles of the Middle Ages with which glazed windows are associated, they said.

“This is yet another shift away from the image of unsophisticated barbaric Vikings swinging their swords around,” said Mads Dengsø Jessen, a senior researcher with the National Museum in Copenhagen.

Over the past 25 years, archeologists have found glass fragments in six excavations in southern Sweden, Denmark and northern Germany.

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Friday, October 06, 2023

Metal detectorist finds giant brooch that could have royal origins

The high status Anglo-Saxon brooch found in a field near Cheddar, Somerset
(South West Heritage Trust)

Giant silver brooch found in the Somerset Levels is one of the largest such objects ever found

A mysterious piece of early medieval jewellery found by metal detectorists in Somerset could have royal origins, experts believe.

The huge nine-centimetre diameter silver and bronze brooch, one of the largest such objects ever found, was unearthed by a metal detectorist on the edge of former marshland between Cheddar and Wedmore - two locations associated with Anglo-Saxon royalty.

Experts believe the brooch may be linked to the household of Alfred the Great or one of the other Anglo-Saxon kings of England.

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Thursday, October 05, 2023

In France, an ancient sarcophagus has been discovered. It remained unopened for 1800 years.

Although sarcophagi are commonly associated with Egypt and Egyptian mummies, this type of coffin was also popular in ancient Rome. From the 3rd to the 1st century BCE, terracotta, stone, or metal sarcophagi were crafted. They took the form of a chest with a lid, often adorned with reliefs depicting mythological or genre scenes. From the 2nd century CE, depictions of the deceased and their portraits sometimes appeared on the panels.

Ancient Roman City in Gaul
Burial sites usually serve as valuable subjects for archaeological studies. They provide insights not only into the specific individual but sometimes shed light on ancient cultures, their customs, practices, and traditions.

Archaeologists from the French Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP) conducted excavations in Reims, northeastern France. In antiquity, this location was the city of Durocortorum and was the second-largest city in Roman Gaul after being conquered by Julius Caesar’s forces. It is estimated that up to 100,000 people may have lived here.

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Kilns used to make bricks for Colchester's Roman wall found

The recently unearthed kilns were likely to have manufactured bricks and tiles used in Roman Colchester, including for its ancient wall 

Roman kilns which created the bricks used to build Britain's oldest town wall have been found during a dig.

The excavation took place at Cymbeline Meadows, Colchester, Essex, ahead of the city council's plans to transform the site into a nature reserve.

Archaeologist Philip Crummy said it is "unusual" to find a collection of Romano-British kilns in one area.

The town wall was built following Boudicca's revolt and dates to about 60 to 80 AD.

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Archaeologists discover site where Otto the Great died

One of the most important medieval rulers of the 10th century, Otto I (936-973) founded the Holy Roman Empire in central Europe. Archaeologists believe they have found the site where this king and emperor died.

Since 2017, archaeologists from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archeology Saxony-Anhalt have been excavating the former imperial palace and the rich Benedictine monastery in Memleben, located in central Germany. This year’s investigations yielded new findings of extraordinary importance. For the first time, reliable archaeological evidence of the Palatinate of Memleben, the as-yet unlocated place of death of Emperor Otto the Great and his father Henry the Fowler (919-936). The site was soon turned into a monastery church by Otto’s son, Otto II. A mysterious foundation in the cloister of the monastery church can also possibly be linked to the burial of Otto the Great’s heart and internal organs.

The former Memleben monastery is one of the most important medieval sites in the region. The ruins of the monastery church from the 13th century with its preserved crypt are considered outstanding examples of the transition from late Romanesque to early Gothic style architecture. It reflects the historical significance of the place: The founder of the Holy Roman Empire, Emperor Otto I, known as ‘The Great’, passed away in Memleben in 973, as did his father in 936.

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1,400-year-old gold figures depicting Norse gods unearthed at former pagan temple

Known as "gullglubber," the gold-foil figure depicts the god Frøy and the goddess Gerd.
(Image credit: The Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo)

Archaeologists in Norway unearthed dozens of tiny gold-foil figures at a former pagan temple.

Archaeologists have discovered 35 miniature gold-foil depictions of Norse gods tucked inside the remnants of a pagan temple in Norway.

The gold foils, which are flat and as thin as a piece of paper, contain etched motifs depicting the god Frøy and the goddess Gerd and date to the Merovingian period in Norway, which began in 550 and continued into the Viking Age, according to Science Norway. The foils may have been used as sacrificial offerings.

The gold pieces lack holes, so it's unlikely that they were worn as jewelry. The first gold foils were discovered in Scandinavia in 1725 and were eventually labeled as "gullglubber," which translates to "golden old men."

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Monday, October 02, 2023

Archeological evidence shows the violence of Viking raids on the coasts of Scotland

Iona Abbey, situated on the remote Scottish island in the Inner Hebrides, was a central religious site that experienced multiple Viking raids. Source: Heartland Arts / Shutterstock

It is today fashionable among historians and commentators to recast the Vikings as a more peaceable group of settlers who came to places like the British Isles to trade valuable goods, swap farming tips, and exchange cultural niceties. 

There is some truth to this, of course – a considerable number of Norse people did indeed integrate and settle abroad without any undue trouble. 

At the same time, the Vikings (or, more specifically, the seafaring marauders who regularly ventured overseas) didn't establish a fearsome reputation as brutal raiders for nothing. 

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A Norwegian Man Stumbled Upon a Trove of Gold Dating to the Early Middle Ages, Including a Rare Pendant Depicting the Norse God Odin

Amateur archaeologist Erlend Bore posing with a gold treasure photographed shortly after he found them in the ground with a metal detector on the island of Rennesøy in Stavanger. Photo by ANNIKEN CELINE BERGER/NTB/Arkeologisk museum, UiS /AFP via Getty Images.

Archaeologists say the find is Norway's most significant discovery of gold treasures in over a century.

A Norwegian man who took up metal detecting as a hobby accidentally discovered a trove of gold treasure that date from around 500 C.E.

Erlend Bore, aged 51, from the city of Stravanger, was going for a walk on the island of Rennesøy when his metal detector began beeping. Although his first thought was that he’d chance upon foiled chocolate coins, Bore alerted archaeologists who managed to locate and unearth three gold rings as well as nine gold medallions and ten gold pearls that were originally strung together on a necklace.

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Norwegian family finds Viking-era relics while looking for earring

One expert concluded that the buckle dates from between 780 and 850

A family in Norway were searching for a lost gold earring in their garden when they decided to get their metal detector out.

They did not find the earring but did stumble upon something else: artefacts dating back more than 1,000 years.

The Aasvik family dug up a bowl-shaped buckle and another item that appear to be part of a Viking-era burial.

Experts believe the artefacts were used in the ninth-century burial of a woman on the small island of Jomfruland.

The discovery was made under a large tree in the centre of the family's garden on the island, off Norway's south coast.

"We congratulate the family who found the first safe Viking-time find at Jomfruland," the Cultural Heritage of Vestfold and Telemark County Council wrote in a Facebook post.

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