Monday, June 26, 2017

Cyprus reveals rare Roman horse race mosaic in Akaki


Scenes from a chariot race are depicted in a rare Roman mosaic found in rural Cyprus.
Dating from the 4th Century AD, it lies in Akaki, a village not far from Nicosia.
Only nine similar mosaics - showing a hippodrome race - have been found at ancient Roman sites.
The ornate 26-metre-long (85ft) mosaic was probably part of a wealthy man's villa. The excavation is led by archaeologist Fryni Hadjichristofi.

Read the rest of this article...

Ancient skulls shed light on migration in the Roman empire

A student uses a digitizer to record geometric morphometric sites on a skull.
Credit: NC State University

Skeletal evidence shows that, hundreds of years after the Roman Republic conquered most of the Mediterranean world, coastal communities in what is now south and central Italy still bore distinct physical differences to one another -- though the same could not be said of the area around Rome itself.

Using state-of-the-art forensic techniques, anthropologists from North Carolina State University and California State University, Sacramento examined skulls from three imperial Roman cemeteries: 27 skulls from Isola Sacra, on the coast of central Italy; 26 from Velia, on the coast of southern Italy; and 20 from Castel Malnome, on the outskirts of the city of Rome.

Read the rest of this article...

Hill figures: The stories behind the scars on England's skin


Hill figures, emblazoned like scar tissue across England's undulating landscape, hark back to times when gods were honoured and appeased by grand gestures.

Although horses - and some well-endowed giants - are perhaps the most well-known hill figures there are also some more unusual creatures and carvings.

A lion stands proudly in Bedfordshire. A kiwi in Wiltshire is a testament to the homesick New Zealand soldiers once stationed nearby.

Here are the stories behind some of the enormous symbols which have become part of the country's very fabric.

Read the rest of this article...

1,000 year old Viking toilet uncovered in Denmark

Is this Denmark’s oldest toilet? Here you can see the various preserved layers. The lowest dark layer is human waste 
[Credit: Anna S Beck]

In a Viking settlement on Stevns in Denmark, archaeologists have excavated a two metre deep hole. But it is not just any old hole. This hole, it seems, may be the oldest toilet in Denmark.

Radiocarbon dating of the faeces layer dates back to the Viking Age, making it quite possibly the oldest toilet in Denmark.

“It was a totally random find. We were looking for pit houses—semi-subterrenean workshop huts—and it really looked like that from the surface. But we soon realised that it was something totally different,” says PhD student Anna Beck from the Museum Southeast Denmark.

Apart from representing Denmark’s oldest toilet, the discovery goes against archaeologists’ theories surrounding people’s toilet habits through time, says Beck. Not least because it was discovered in an area of Viking countryside and not in a Viking city.

Read the rest of this article...

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Viking shield, spear points and human bones recovered from Viking boat burial in N. Iceland

THE DYSNES SITE The exploration of the site has barely begun. Photo/Auðunn

Archeologists working at a dig in Eyjafjörður fjord in North Iceland have announced they have discovered a shield, human bones and two spear points from two of the boat burials. Previously they had uncovered the bones of what appears to be a Viking chief who was buried with his sword and dog at the site. The dig has barely started. Four of the graves have yet to be explored at all, and more could still be discovered at the site.

According to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service the artifacts found today came from two separate boat burials. The spear points were recovered from a burial which has been badly eroded by the ocean. The waves have already washed away half of the boat, and any items it might have contained.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Archaeologists unearth prehistoric ritual area around Bryn Celli Ddu

Bryn Celli Ddu, a Neolithic passage tomb on the Isle of Anglesey. 
Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Previously unknown Anglesey landscape possibly includes cairn cemetery in what experts described as ‘really exciting stuff’

Archaeologists have uncovered a prehistoric ritual landscape that possibly includes a cairn cemetery around a 5,000-year-old burial mound aligned with the summer solstice sun on Anglesey.

Though far less famous than Stonehenge, the spectacle of sunlight shining down a long narrow passage to light up the inner chamber of Bryn Celli Ddu on the longest day of the year is unforgettable. Excavation now suggests the site had significance for prehistoric people that lasted for millennia after the earth mound was raised over a stone passage grave.

The monument, whose name translates as the mound in the dark grove, was first excavated in 1865 and heavily reconstructed in the 1920s, but excavations over the last three summers – with members of the public joining archaeologists – are unveiling 5,000 years of human activity in the landscape. 

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Brewing Viking Beer — With Stones


When archaeologist Geir Grønnesby dug test pits at 24 different farms in central Norway, he nearly always found thick layers of fire-cracked stones dating from the Viking Age and earlier. Carbon-14 dating of this evidence tells us that ago, Norwegians brewed beer using stones.

There’s nothing archaeologists like better than piles of centuries-old rubbish. Ancient bones and stones from trash heaps can tell complex stories. And in central Norway, at least, the story seems to be that Vikings and their descendants brewed beer by tossing hot rocks into wooden kettles.

“There are a lot of these stones, and they are found at most of the farmyards on old, named farms,” says Geir Grønnesby, an archaeologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s University Museum.

Read the rest of this article...

Archaeologists in N. Iceland discover Viking age chief buried in ship with his sword and dog

AT THE SITE Archaeologists at work excavating the Dysnes site. Dysnes translates as "Burial-ness". Photo/Auðunn

Yesterday archeologists, who are working at a large burial site in Eyjafjörður fjord in north Iceland, announced that they had discovered the remains of a ship burial dating back to the Viking age. A wealthy chieftain seems to have been buried in one of his boats along with some of his worldly possessions, including a sword and his dog. More unexplored burial sites are believed to be located at the site.

The grave is believed to date back to the 9th or 10th centuries. The sword, which was found close to the surface is in very poor condition. The archeologists expect to remove the sword from the ground today.
A site of regional significance during Viking Age 
The archeological dig takes place north of the town of Akureyri at a site which is believed to have been of enormous local importance during the Viking age. A few hundred meters south of the burial site is Gáseyri, which was the primary trading post in Eyjafjörður fjord during the Viking age.   
Read the rest of this article...

Second Viking Age ship burial found at archaeological site in N. Iceland


Yesterday archaeologists discovered a second boat burial at an archaeological site at Dysnes ness in Eyjafjörður fjord in North Iceland. On Tuesday a burial site where a Viking age chief was buried in his boat, along with his sword and dog had been discovered. Two other graves dating to the Viking Age have been found at the site. Archaeologists working at the site are optimistic to find more, as the dig has only just started.

Undisturbed graves

Neither boat burial has been disturbed by grave robbers, as many Viking age burial sites have been. Most Viking Age burial sites seem to have been opened up relatively early, only decades after the burial, and valuables, especially swords, removed. The reasons for such grave robbing are not known.

Archaeologists working at Dysnes have now found four different Viking age graves at the site. Two were boat burials. An archaeologist working at the dig told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV that they expected to find more. "Everywhere we stick a shovel into the ground we seem to find something". 


Read the rest of this article...

Monday, June 05, 2017

Millions needed to save priceless archaeological remains from coastal erosion


WAVES The advancing seas are eroding beaches along Iceland's coasts and imperiling archeological remains that have not yet been researched. Photo/Vísir.

Archeological remains of great cultural value are in danger of being washed away by coastal erosion on many of Iceland's shores, according to the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. An MP for the Left Green Movement warns of an impending "cultural disaster" due to a lack of financing for their preservation. Documenting and preserving the remains might cost hundreds of millions of ISK, according to an official estimate. 

Only a quarter of known remains has been documented

In a written response to questions from MPs in the Icelandic parliament, the Minister of Education, Science and Culture, said that the ministry was aware of a number of places around the country where valuable remains were in danger of being lost. However, the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland has only documented around a quarter of the remains that are protected by law due to their age.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Roman Bath House Found In Carlisle

Roman ruins described as a "once-in-a-lifetime find" have been discovered during work to rebuild a cricket pavilion in Carlisle.


The site at Edenside [Credit: Stuart Walker, The Cumberland News]

The remains of a Roman Bath House were uncovered as part of work to move Carlisle Cricket Club's pavilion, which was damaged during Storm Desmond.

The site is thought to be about 1,600 years old and has already unearthed weapons, pottery and coins. The find is close to the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage site.

Read the rest of this article...

Lavau Celtic Prince: 2,500-year-old royal tomb starts to reveal its secrets

Objects inside the tomb appear to show the cultural interactions between different worlds in the 5th century BCE.


The bronze cauldron emerges from the earth.Denis Gliksman, Inrap

In 2015, the small village of Lavau in eastern France became famous around the world when archaeologists uncovered the tomb of an ancient Celtic prince, dating back to the 5th century BCE.

The tomb of the Lavau Prince, as he is now known, hides many secrets, which researchers have attempted to unveil in the past two years. Some of the stunning artefacts recovered next to the deceased have now be sent to a French lab for analysis – and the first results are starting to emerge.

A number of objects, including the prince's belt, appear to be extremely valuable as they are unique. Other artefacts bear witness to the cultural exchanges which took place at the time between different civilisations.

Read the rest of this article...

‘Agricultural Revolution’ In Anglo-Saxon England Sheds New Light On Medieval Land Use

Researchers from the University of Leicester will be shedding new light on how an ‘agricultural revolution’ in Anglo-Saxon England fueled the growth of towns and markets as part of a new project investigating medieval farming habits.


University of Leicester academics work with University of Oxford in project to examine how historical farming methods changed England’s landscape [Credit: University of Leicester]

The project, titled ‘Feeding Anglo-Saxon England (FeedSax): The Bioarchaeology of an Agricultural Revolution’, which is funded by the European Research Council, is led by the University of Oxford working with colleagues from the University of Leicester.

The period between c 800 – 1200 AD saw dramatic changes in farming practices across large parts of Europe, enabling an increase in cereal production so great that it has been described as an ‘agricultural revolution’. 

This ‘cerealisation’ allowed post-Roman populations not only to recover, but to boom, fueling the growth of towns and markets.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Medieval brewery used by monks discovered by archaeologists on the outskirts of Lincoln

The malt kiln of what archaeologists think was a medieval brewery

A medieval brewery has been discovered by archaeologists along the route of Lincoln Eastern Bypass.

Network Archaeology Ltd, the company working on the site to provide new insights into the past, has teamed up with Lincolnshire Live to reveal more about the incredible artefacts - which include 150 Saxon skeletons.

Here, Dr Richard Moore and director Christopher Taylor continue their Find of the Week series with an ale and hearty story...

Read the rest of this article...

GIS — A Powerful Tool To Be Used With Caution When Assessing Shoreline Erosion

Although computer models of archaeological sites are ideal software tools for managing spatially referenced data and commonly used to yield insights which contribute to the protection of heritage materials, some scientists question their credibility, calling for these long-term trends be 'ground truthed' in order to ensure that calculated rates of change reflect observed phenomena 'in the field'. This is particularly true in areas which tend to experience more pronounced and cumulative impacts of modern climate change.


The monitoring of shoreline erosion at Imnaaluk (Toker Point), NWT, Canada [Credit: De Gruyter]

A recent study by Michael J. E. O'Rourke from the University of Toronto, published in Open Archaeology, provides a new perspective on the severe impacts of escalating climate change on the heritage resources of Canadian Arctic. Referring to the application of Geographic Information System (GIS) analytical methods in assessing the threat of shoreline erosion to archaeological sites in the Canadian Arctic, it details steps taken to review the quality of the GIS model in light of a discrepancy with rates observed during annual survey visits.

Read the rest of this article...

Did Dutch hordes kill off the early Britons who started Stonehenge?

A gene study has shown that incomers could have ousted Stone Age Britons

During the building of Stonehenge, around 2500BC, gene records show Sone Age Britons were replaced by Bronze Age Beaker folk. Photograph: Peter Adams/Getty Images

The men and women who built Stonehenge left an indelible mark on the British landscape. However, researchers have discovered that their impact on other aspects of the nation may have been less impressive. In particular, their input into Britain’s gene pool appears to have fizzled out, having been terminated by light-skinned Bronze Age invaders who arrived just as Ancient Britons were midway through their great Stone Age project. In the end, these newcomers may have completely replaced the people who were building Stonehenge.

This startling conclusion is the result of a huge gene study of humans in prehistoric Europe. It shows that around 2500BC – when the main sections of Stonehenge were under construction – a race of people known to archaeologists as the Beaker folk arrived in Britain. Their genetic profiles were similar to individuals who were living in the Netherlands at the time. In just a short period, all genetic traces of early Stone Age Britons were replaced by those from these continental newcomers, although work on Stonehenge continued.

Read the rest of this article...

Historians reveal AMAZING details about massive Viking Camp found in Lincolnshire

Torksey AD 872/873

A 1,100-year-old camp the Viking Great Army at Torksey has been brought to life in stunning virtual reality based on the latest research.

Heralded as the most realistic immersive experience ever created of the Viking world, the exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum in York runs from May 19 to November 5.

Three dimensional images and soundscape reveal what life was like in the camp of the Viking army on the banks of the River Trent at Torksey, near Gainsborough, in the winter of AD 872-873, as thousands of Vikings prepared to conquer vast swathes of England.

Read the rest of this article...

Dig Finds UK's Oldest Sacred Site

Archaeologists say a sacred burial site uncovered in Shrewsbury in February is over 4,000 years old. They say the site, which was discovered at a Greek Orthodox Church, may be the country's oldest-known continuously used sacred ground.


Archaeologists excavate the site in Shrewsbury 
[Credit: Sarah Hart]

Finds suggest it has been used during every era since the late Neolithic period. Carbon dating of a wooden post extracted during the dig showed it was placed in the ground in 2,033 BC.

Archaeologists expected the post to be Anglo-Saxon. Other finds on the Oteley Road site included a calf, a pig and a dog that died while giving birth.

"The dates have shocked us all," said lead archaeologist Janey Green. "It appears the current Medieval church is built over the site of an ancient pagan burial ground that's been in use from the late Neolithic period through the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, Anglo-Saxon and through to today. The only other British site of a Christian church that is known to date back to the late Neolithic period is at Cranborne Chase, in Dorset, but it is a Norman ruin."

Read the rest of this article...