All posts by Archaeology World Team

Newly Discovered Human-Sized Dinosaur Footprint Is The Largest Ever Found

Newly Discovered Human-Sized Dinosaur Footprint Is The Largest Ever Found

The prints indicate enormous animals that were probably around 5.3 to 5.5 metres at the hip.

Australian researchers digging in the area known as “Australia’s Jurassic Park” have found the world’s biggest dinosaur footprint yet to be discovered.

According to their findings published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the University of Queensland and James Cook University paleontologists found 20 more dinosaur footprints while digging around the Kimberly area in Western Australia.

Until now, the biggest known dinosaur footprint was a 106cm track discovered in the Mongolian desert.

At the new site, along the Kimberley shoreline in a remote region of Western Australia, paleontologists discovered a rich collection of dinosaur footprints in the sandstone rock, many of which are only visible at low tide.

The prints, belonging to about 21 different types of dinosaur, are also thought to be the most diverse collection of prints in the world.

Steve Salisbury, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Queensland told ABC News: “We’ve got several tracks up in that area that is about 1.7 meters long.

So most people would be able to fit inside tracks that big, and they indicate animals that are probably around 5.3 to 5.5 meters at the hip, which is enormous.”

The prints, found along the Kimberley shoreline, belong to about 21 different types of dinosaur and are thought to be the most diverse collection of prints in the world.

Salisbury said the diversity of the tracks was globally unparalleled and made the area the “Cretaceous equivalent of the Serengeti”. He also dubbed it “Australia’s own Jurassic Park”.

“It is extremely significant, forming the primary record of non-avian dinosaurs in the western half the continent and providing the only glimpse of Australia’s dinosaur fauna during the first half of the early Cretaceous period,” he said.

The findings were reported in the Memoir of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

“There are thousands of tracks,” said Salisbury. “Of these, 150 can confidently be assigned to 21 specific track types, representing four main groups of dinosaurs.”

The largest tracks belonged to sauropods, huge Diplodocus-like herbivores with long necks and tails.

The scientists also discovered tracks from about four different types of ornithopod dinosaurs (two-legged herbivores) and six types of armored dinosaurs, including Stegosaurs, which had not previously been seen in Australia.

At the time the prints were left, 130m years ago, the area was a large river delta and dinosaurs would have traversed wet sandy areas between surrounding forests.

The latest investigation was prompted after the region was selected as the site for a liquid natural gas processing precinct in 2008.

The area’s traditional custodians, the Goolarabooloo people, who were aware of the prints, contacted Salisbury and his team and asked them to investigate.

The scientists from Queensland University and James Cook University, along with Indigenous representatives, spent 400 hours documenting the prints.

“Dinosaur tracks have been known through that area, probably for thousands of years. They form part of the song cycle,” Salisbury said told ABC News.

“We got contacted to come in and have a closer look, and it didn’t take long for us to realize that … there was a spectacular dinosaur track fauna preserved there that was at risk.”

The “Oldest Gold Of Mankind” was found in the Varna Necropolis

The “Oldest Gold Of Mankind” was found in the Varna Necropolis, on The Bulgarian Black Sea Coast

In 1972, an excavator operator working in the industrial zone of the city Varna will stumble upon something that will turn out to be a very significant historical site. The Varna Necropolis has discovered approximately half a kilometer from Lake Varna and 4 km from the city center. It is estimated that it was made sometime between 4,600 BC to 4,200 BC.

Around 300 graves have been found at this burial site, but the most significant is grave 43. It contained the remains of a high-status person and it was covered with treasures. This single grave contained more gold than all of the other archeological sites from that period put together.

We constantly speak about early, ancient, civilizations like the ones that thrived in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus Valley, that shaped humanity as we know today. But not a lot of people know about the mysterious people that lived on the shores of the Back Sea in modern-day Bulgaria 7,000 years ago. Archeologists call this civilization the Varna Culture.

The Varna Culture was considered small and insignificant for a long time until it was proven that this was a highly developed culture that preexisted Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations. The discoveries made in the Varna Necropolis also showed that it was that first known culture that produced artifacts made of gold. This site is the largest prehistoric necropolis in south-eastern Europe.

According to the evidence, gold processing in the Varna region started between 4600 and 4200 BC. The ore processing technology was constantly developing here, and soon, the craftsmen became very skilled in manufacturing copper and gold items. They had the perfect products for trade.

Varna people were perfectly situated between the east and the western world. One one side they had the Black Sea and the opportunity to trade with their neighbors that lived around it and beyond, and on the other side, the road was opened for trade with the whole Mediterranean region. Because of this Varna became an important trading center.

They were able to accumulate great wealth (especially the craftsmen that worked with gold and copper) and develop a nice society mostly consisted of Metallurgists, merchants, and farmers, kind of a class system. This was the basis upon which a powerful and influential culture emerged, one that would spread across Europe for thousands of years.

Before 1972, the only artifacts found from the time of the Varna Culture were tools, vessels, utensils, and figurines made from stone, flint, bone, and claystone made. But, after archeologists Mihail Lazarov and Ivan Ivanov revealed the Varna Necropolis to the world, this amazing civilization was viewed from a different perspective.

These are probably the oldest gold artifacts in the world.

Inside the 300 graves of the necropolis, archeologists unearthed more than 22,000 unique artifacts. This huge list of items contains more than 3,000 golden artifacts, that is 6 kilograms of pure gold. Besides this, there were also plenty of high-quality copper, flint and stone tools, jewelry, shells of Mediterranean mollusks, pottery, obsidian blades, and beads.

The Varna man 

Among the many elite burials in the necropolis, there was one that was different from the others. Different in the sense of “more spectacular.” After uncovering grave 43, archeologists concluded that it was the final resting place of a high-status male, probably a ruler, or some kind of leader in the society.

This was the richest grave of all that have been found, not only in Varna Necropolis but in the whole world at that time. The person was buried with a beautiful golden scepter in his hand. The scepter is a symbol of high rank or spiritual power.

His whole body and its surroundings were covered with golden items. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, round shaped golden items placed on specific parts of the body, and he even had a golden plate around the genitals. Together with the golden artifacts, the weapons that probably belonged to this person were also placed around his body.

Besides the material richness that Varna necropolis provided archeologists with, it also gave an insight into the hierarchy in this ancient society, their religious beliefs and intricate burial practices. Males and females were buried differently. Males were laid out on their backs while females were placed in the fetal position. There was also another type of graves found.

Some of the graves didn’t contain skeletons, they were only filled with items. These symbolic graves, known as cenotaphs, were one of the richest with gold and treasures. They contained masks made of clay and gold amulets made in the shape of women, placed below the mask, where the neck of a buried person was supposed to be.

Some of the items found inside the “symbolic graves”

The amulets are symbolizing pregnancy and fertility which indicates that they are meant for women. The empty graves also contained a copper pin, a flint knife, and a spindle whorl.

This further indicates that the symbolic graves were made for women, or as a gift for some kind of deity that symbolizes the feminine principle. It is still a mystery why these graves were left without human remains.

The Varna civilization is without direct descendants, they were probably assimilated in other surrounding European and Asian cultures during all those centuries of turmoil in this region.

However, they left a huge legacy and with their accomplishments they made the appearance of the following European civilizations possible. We may never know how the Varna people really lived, but Varna necropolis with all the magical artifacts opens our imaginations.

Well-Preserved Roman Eagle Unearthed In London

Well-Preserved Roman Eagle Unearthed In London

Minories eagle and serpent

Archaeologists have discovered an extraordinary Roman sculpture in the form of an eagle firmly grasping a writhing serpent in its beak.

Working on a site in the City of London, ahead of development of a 16 storey 291 bed hotel by Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (SWIP) and its development partners Endurance Land, the team from MOLA were at first hesitant to announce the discovery and to proclaim its Roman origins, owing to its almost unbelievable preservation.

A symbol of immortality and power, it was carefully preserved when the aristocratic tomb it decorated was smashed up more than 1,800 years ago – and is regarded as one of the best pieces of Romano-British art ever found.

The preservation is so startling that the archaeologists who found it at the bottom of a ditch, on the last day of excavation on a development site at the Minories, were worried in case they had unearthed a Victorian garden ornament.

Excitement spread as it became clear from the context that it really was Roman – but carved in Britain, from Cotswold limestone. Archaeologists are itching to research it further but first after a quick clean – and a frame to support the only damage, a broken wing – it is going on display for six months at the Museum of London, just 30 days from ditch to gallery.

A conservator cleaning the sculpture of a Minories eagle and serpent which was discovered in the City of London.

Martin Henig, an internationally renowned expert on Roman art, said: “The sculpture is of exceptional quality, the finest sculpture by a Romano-British artist ever found in London, and amongst the very best statues surviving from Roman Britain.

Its condition is extraordinary, as crisp as on the day it was carved. All it has lost is the surface paint, probably washed away when it was deposited in a ditch.”

The only comparable find in Britain is the sad stump of a bird, lacking head, wings, and feet, found at a Roman villa site at Keynsham in Somerset in the 1920s. The closest from across the Roman empire was an eagle and serpent found in Jordan, now in the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Eagles are found across the empire, usually as symbols of imperial clout, but they were also used as funerary emblems: there are extraordinary contemporary accounts of live eagles trapped within the funeral pyres of emperors, freed to soar towards the sky as the flames crackled, symbolizing the moment when the dead man became a god.

The London eagle was carved in the first century AD, at a time when the Roman city was exploding in population and wealth. It is believed to have stood on an imposing mausoleum, on the roadside edge of the eastern cemetery just outside the city walls. The road was once lined with the monuments of the wealthiest citizens, like the Via Appia outside Rome.

Possibly only a few decades later, many of the monuments were demolished – probably as ownership of the plots changed and new ones were built. There is even evidence suggesting that some of the old bones were left scattered in the open air.

Most of the stone was reused as hardcore or building stone, but the eagle was carefully laid into a ditch, probably just beside its former perch.

Michael Marshall, finds an expert at the Museum of London Archaeology, believes that superstitious awe probably protected such a powerful religious symbol, even when the tomb of its original owner became builders’ rubble.

There it lay for almost 2,000 years, surviving in almost pristine condition while Tudor cellars, Victorian warehouses, and 20th-century concrete piling punched through the earth all around it. until the Monday morning last month – the last day of the excavation before a 16-story hotel is built on the site.

When Antoinette Lerz and David Sankey lifted the mud-caked lump of stone from the ground, they set it on the edge of their pit, and first began to clean off the clay with a trowel – and then as they saw the delicacy of the carving, with a dentist’s pick.

When they had revealed a wing and the sharp-beaked head was emerging, they phoned site supervisor Simon Davis to suggest nervously that they thought they had found something extraordinary. “We were a bit nervous at first about proclaiming it as Roman, because the condition was so extraordinary,” Davis said.

The bird’s front is intricately carved, but the back is flattened and plain – like a Staffordshire china mantelpiece dog – suggesting that it was originally sheltered by a niche, or stood within a tomb building. Scattered animal bones and pottery nearby suggest funeral feasts or that family members revisited the tomb to dine with the spirits of their dead.

Serpents could be either benevolent symbols or harbingers of evil: some eagle and serpent carvings show the two beasts quite companionably entwined.

There is nothing benevolent about the London serpent, carved wreathed around the bird, its tongue still flickering on the feathery chest, but the great beak is about to snap shut: “It’s all over for the snake – it just doesn’t know it yet,” Michael Marshall said.

Excavation at the Minories site, London, believed to be the base of a grand mausoleum

The eagle’s triumph is greater because the snake is equipped with an alarming row of sharp teeth.

“This may suggest that the artist had never got up close and personal with a snake,” Marshall said. “We did have a go at identifying the species of the snake when we had some zoologists in – but they just said ‘it’s a snake’.”

Viking Chess piece bought for less than $10 sells for over $1.3M

Viking Chess piece bought for less than $10 sells for over $1.3M

A 900-year-old Viking chess piece purchased for $6 in the 1960s recently sold at auction for $1.3 million.

The Lewis Chessmen are intricate chess pieces in the form of Norse warriors that were carved from walrus ivory in the 12th century. A large hoard of the chess pieces, totaling 93 objects making up some four chess sets, was discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

The elaborately carved pieces soon became featured attractions at museums. Of the 93 pieces, 82 are now in the British Museum in London and 11 are in the collection of the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Five of the pieces, however, were missing. In June 2019, Sotheby’s announced it had authenticated a missing piece, the equivalent of a rook, and would sell it in with an estimated value of $1 million.

The missing piece had been bought in 1964 by an antique dealer in Edinburgh and passed down through this family. For some time, the Chessman was kept in a drawer at the home of the antiques dealer’s daughter.

Lewis Chessmen set

According to The Guardian, a family member said it had been stored away in their grandfather’s house, with everyone unaware of its importance

“When my grandfather died my mother inherited the chess piece,” said a family spokesperson. “My mother was very fond of the chessman as she admired its intricacy and quirkiness.

She believed that it was special and thought perhaps it could even have had some magical significance. For many years it resided in a drawer in her home where it had been carefully wrapped in a small bag. From time to time, she would remove the chess piece from the drawer in order to appreciate its uniqueness.”

Lewis Chessmen Queen. 
Lewis chessmen Queen (back view).

Alexander Kader, the Sotheby’s expert who eventually examined the piece for the family, told The Guardian that his jaw dropped when he saw it, and he knew immediately what it was. “I said: ‘Oh my goodness, it’s one of the Lewis chessmen.’ ”

Lewis chessmen Bishop.

He added: “They brought it in for an assessment. That happens every day. Our doors are open for free valuations. We get called down to the counter and have no idea what we are going to see. More often than not, it’s not worth very much.”

Lewis chessmen King.

The 3.5-inch warder is a bearded figure with a sword in his right hand and shield at his left side.

Experts believe that this Viking chess piece along with the rest of the Lewis chessmen hail from Trondheim, Norway, which specialized in carved gaming pieces in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The Isle of Lewis was Norwegian territory until 1266, and one theory is that the chess set was buried there after a shipwreck.

Lewis was on a thriving trade route between Norway and Ireland and another theory is that they were hidden for safekeeping by a traveling merchant.

They became arguably Scotland’s best known archaeological find when they were found buried in the beach of Uig Bay in 1831, said The Guardian. :How they were discovered is still disputed, with one account claiming they were uncovered by a grazing cow.”

The Lewis Chessmen are “steeped in folklore, legend and the rich tradition of story-telling,” Sotheby’s said in a press release, adding that they are “an important symbol of European civilization.”

Alexander Kader said in a statement, “It has been such a privilege to bring this piece of history to auction and it has been amazing having him on view at Sotheby’s over the last week—he has been a huge hit. When you hold this characterful warder in your hand or see him in the room, he has real presence.”

Since their discovery in the 19th century, a Viking chess piece and the Lewis chessmen has become an important symbol of European civilization, often inspiring portrayals in pop culture, such as the life-size chess game in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The dog who got MUMMIFIED inside a tree trunk

Meet “Stuckie” — The Mummified Dog Who Has Been Stuck In A Tree For Over 50 Years

Stuckie, as the dog is affectionately known now, still stuck in his tree more than 50 years later.
Stuckie, as the dog is affectionately known now, still stuck in his tree more than 50 years later.

Loggers expect to come across some things when they cut down trees. Bird’s nests and things stuck in the branches seem like a given – a mummified dog in the center of a tree, however, does not.

But that’s exactly what a team of loggers with the Georgia Kraft Corp. found while cutting down a tree in the 1980s.

The loggers were working on a grove of chestnut oaks in southern Georgia when they found a most unusual sight.

After cutting off the top of the tree, and loading it onto a truck for transport, a member of the team happened to peer down the hollow trunk.

Inside, he found the perfectly mummified remains of a dog, looking back at him, its teeth still bared in a fight for survival.

Experts who studied the carcass concluded that the pup was most likely a hunting dog from the 1960s, who had chased something such as a squirrel through a hole in the roots, and up the center of the hollow tree.

The higher the dog got, however, the narrower the tree became. From the position of the dog’s paws, experts believe that it continued to climb until it effectively wedged itself in. Unable to turn around, the dog died.

Due to a perfect set of circumstances, however, though it was dead, it was not forgotten.

Normally, a dog that had died in the wild would succumb to decay and be eaten by other foragers.

However, as the dog had died inside a tree, it was unlikely that other animals could reach it – and, due to the height of the body, it was unlikely that other animals could smell it either.

Additionally, the kind of tree that the dog had lodged itself in was uniquely qualified to lend itself to the natural mummification process.

Chestnut oaks contain tannins, which are used in taxidermy and tanning to treat animal pelts so that they don’t decay. The tannins from the inside of the tree seeped out into the dog and prevented it from rotting inside.

The dry environment inside the trunk also provided shelter from the elements and sucked the moisture from the carcass. The air that was sucked into the tree through the base created a sort of vacuum effect, further contributing to the drying process.

After finding the mummified pup, the loggers decided to take it to a museum, to show off the rare sight to the world.

The dog, now affectionately called “Stuckie,” resides at the Southern Forest World museum, still encased in his woody tomb, and on display for the world to see.

Stolen 12th century Indian Buddha statue found in London

Stolen 12th century Indian Buddha statue found in London

In what was held up as an example of India-UK collaboration across all sectors, Britain’s Metropolitan Police recently marked India’s Independence Day by handing back a rare Buddha sculpture stolen from India in 1961.

A bronze Buddha statue of the 12th century stolen from an Indian museum 57 years ago has surfaced in London and is now returning to the country.

The bronze statue with silver inlay is one of 14 statues stolen in 1961 from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) site museum in Nalanda and changed several hands over the years before surfacing at a London auction.

Once the dealer and the owner were made aware the sculpture was the same one that had been stolen from India, the Metropolitan Police said they cooperated fully with the Met’s Art and Antiques Unit and agreed for the piece to be returned to India.

“I am delighted to return this piece of history. This is an excellent example of the results that can come with close cooperation between law enforcement, trade and scholars,” said Met Police Detective Chief Inspector Sheila Stewart, who was accompanied by officials from the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at the handover ceremony.

“Although this was stolen over 50 years ago, this did not prevent the piece being recognised and the credit must go to the eagle eye informants who made us aware that the missing piece had been located after so many years,” she said.

The statue was identified at a trade fair in March this year by Lynda Albertson of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art (ARCA) and Vijay Kumar from the India Pride Project, who then alerted the police. Sinha described the return of the “priceless Buddha” as a “wonderful gesture” and a particular honour given his own roots in Bihar.

“I hope it will now go back to where it originally belongs… On our Independence Day, it [return of the statue] highlights the multi-faceted cooperation between our two countries,” he said, after a Tricolour-hoisting ceremony to mark India’s 72nd Independence Day at the Indian High Commission in London.

Detective Constable Sophie Hayes, of the Met’s Art and Antique Unit, said it had been established that there was no criminality by the current owner or the dealer who had been offering the stolen statue for sale.

“Indeed, from the outset, they have cooperated fully with the police to resolve this matter and they have made the decision to return the sculpture via the police,” Hayes said. “We are delighted to be able to facilitate the return of this important piece of cultural heritage to India,” she added.

The Art and antique Unit was founded 50 years ago and are one of the oldest specialist units in the Metropolitan Police Service. The unit prides itself on a “long history of reuniting owners with their stolen property”.

Michael Ellis, UK Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said: “As we celebrate India’s Independence Day, I am proud to highlight the latest example of the UK’s cultural diplomacy in action.

Thanks to the work of the Metropolitan Police’s Arts and Antiques Unit, we are one of the first countries to recover one of the 14 elusive Buddha statues stolen from Nalanda nearly 60 years ago.

“This underlines how law enforcement and the London art market are working hand in hand to deliver positive cultural diplomacy to the world.”

Valuable artefacts have been stolen from India over the centuries by colonial plunderers. However, the latest case involved a notorious smuggling ring. The model of a seated Indian God Vishnu was one of 14 statues taken from an archaeological museum in Nalanda, eastern India.

It is believed to have changed hands several times before it was unsuspectingly offered for sale and both the owner and the dealer agreed for it to be returned to India, for it to return to the place it was snatched from.

The recovered relic is a delicate artwork that depicts Buddha in the Bhumisparsha mudra —seated, with his right hand resting over his right knee, reaching toward the ground and touching his lotus throne.

The gesture symbolises the moment that Buddha summoned the earth as a witness to his enlightenment, and it is commonly represented in Buddhist iconography.

It was created using the specialist “lost wax” technique, which involves a wax model being made which can be used only once, as the wax melts away when the molten bronze is poured into the mould. This makes the statue an extremely unique piece of art and part of India’s ancient tradition.

The identity of the dealer and fair have been kept under wraps.

Bird Three Times Larger Than Ostrich Discovered In Crimean Cave

Bird Three Times Larger Than Ostrich Discovered In Crimean Cave

An artist’s conception of the giant, 1,000-pound bird that once roamed around Europe

Crimean researchers discovered a bird’s fossil remains three times larger than an oystrich, weighed nearly 450 kilograms, and roamed Europe nearly 1.5 million years ago.

The discovery was made in the Tauride Cave on the northern coast of the Black Sea and the specimen suggested the bird was bigger than the Madagascan elephant.

The researchers said the bird may have been a source of meat, feathers, bones, and eggshell for early humans in Europe.

“When I first felt the weight of the bird whose thigh bone I was holding in my hand, I thought it must be a Malagasy elephant bird fossil because no birds of this size have ever been reported from Europe.

However, the structure of the bone unexpectedly told a different story,” said Nikita Zelenkov, lead author from the Russian Academy of Sciences.

It was previously believed by experts that giant birds only existed on the islands of Madagascar, New Zealand, and Australia.

However, the latest discovery puts an end to all the theories.

While the researchers admitted they didn’t have enough data and evidence to prove the bird was closely related to ostriches, they believe it weighs around 450 kilograms.

The findings of the research have now been published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology.

It is for the first time in history that shreds of evidence of a giant bird have been found in the Northern Hemisphere.

The researchers believe the bird was flightless with a height of at least 3.5 meters.

The femur of the bird, which is long and slim, suggest it was a better runner than elephant birds couldn’t run fast because of their enormous size.

While many researchers knew about the existence of such species, no one ever calculated their size and speed.

Based on measurements from the femur bone, the researchers managed to reconstruct the body mass of the bird and also estimated its total weight.

Ancient Underground ‘City’ Investigated By Iranian Archaeologists

Ancient Underground ‘City’ Investigated By Iranian Archaeologists

Archeologists in Iran Open the Door to An Ancient Underground City

There are underground cities all over the planet, there are as many as 200 underground cities in Turkey alone.

That’s finding more subterranean cities in other parts of the world doesn’t come as a surprise.

Now, it has been reported how a group of archeologists has managed to open a door to an ancient underground city in Iran.

The underground city of Saleh Abad

The exact age of the underground city remains debatable, but archeologists estimate its anywhere between 800 to 1000 years old.

Scholars say that the subterranean city of Saleh Abad was most likely built in the 12th or 13th century when the Ilkhanate dynasty ruled the area.

During the initial works, ceramic pieces from that period were recovered among other artifacts.

Ahmad Torabi, a provincial tourism official who participated in the opening of the door to the city points out that the place was not made public when it was found three years ago in order to prevent possible looting before researchers could study the site.

“Now we need more time to investigate and explore this area,” Torabi said, explaining that the underground city may even have been used in modern times during World War II when entire families used it to hide from the Soviet armies.

A team of archaeologists has commenced an extensive research on a centuries-old underground “city”, which is located in Salehabad district of Hamedan province, west-central Iran.

“At the time when Russian soldiers crossed the area [during the World War II], the men of the region concealed their families in the underground city so that no one noticed their presence,” Torabi added.

The area where the underground city was discovered, Hamadan, is one of the oldest in Iran and was part of ancient Ecbatana, which was the capital of Media and a summer residence of the Achaemenian kings who ruled Persia from 553 to 330 BC.

This ancient city is not by far the oldest one discovered in the region. Experts have previously discovered subterranean cities in Iran (Samen and Arzan-Fu) and some of them are thought to date back more than 2,500 years.