Painted Medieval Burial Vaults Uncovered in Bruges
Excavations at a cemetery in the centre of Bruges have yielded an extraordinary find. Archaeologists have discovered three painted burial vaults dating from the 14th century.
The find was made last May during works in a street in the vicinity of the Church of Our Lady in Bruges (West Flanders). The best-preserved burial vault is being paced in the church today.
The three medieval burial vaults were discovered during works on the construction of a filling station.
“The find is unique in Flanders” says culture alderman Nico Blontrock.
It’s taken a while for one of the burial vaults to be moved into the church as removing it from the soil required special equipment.
There’s little experience here with the removal of burial vaults and Alderman Blontrock says that in the past this has often failed: “These are fragile constructions, often consisting of brickwork.
Taking them out of the ground often means the painting is damaged.
We wanted to avoid this and established a special commission of experts. I’m so happy the vault has now been saved for posterity.
The best-preserved burial vault is now receiving a temporary home in the Church of Our Lady before it is moved to the church museum.
The paintings show classical medieval representations: “The paintings on a layer of plaster feature angels, crosses and other Christian themes. The vault can be viewed in 3D on the Raakvlak website” says Blontrock.
Neanderthals disappeared from Europe thousands of years earlier than we thought
CNN reports that Neanderthal remains previously dated to about 37,000 years ago are about 10,000 years older, based upon new dates obtained by an international team of researchers through a process called liquid chromatography separation.
It is exactly when Neanderthals, our nearest relatives, died in Europe, that he is fiercely debated. They are believed to have gone extinct around 40,000 years ago—not long after modern humans have migrated out of Africa.
However, previous analyses of remains discovered in Belgium’s Spy Cave had placed specimens as recent as around 37,000 years ago — which would have made the owners some of Europe’s latest surviving Neanderthals.
But experts from Belgium, England and Germany suspected that the age of previously analyzed specimens could be unreliable due to contamination.
Using a process known as liquid chromatography separation, experts extracted a single amino acid from the Neanderthal remains. They used this to date and reanalyze the remains, which were now free from contaminants such as glue.
The experts said that contamination of the remains meant that they had been dated as “inaccurately young” by up to 10,000 years.
Experts then dated remains found at two other Belgian sites, Fonds-de-Forêt and Engis, and found the remains were a similar age to those found in Spy Cave.
“Dating all these Belgian specimens was very exciting as they played a major role in the understanding and the definition of Neanderthals,” Grégory Abrams, an archaeologist at Belgium’s Scladina Cave Archaeological Centre, said in a statement.
Based on these latest radiocarbon dates, experts estimate that Neanderthals disappeared from the region much earlier than previously estimated — 44,200 to 40,600 years ago.
“This new study gives us more clues about when Neanderthals got extinct in Europe,” lead author Thibaut Devièse, associate professor at Aix-Marseille Université, told CNN in an email.
“There was some controversy about the last appearance of Neanderthals in Western Europe and particularly for some individuals from Spy Cave,” he explained.
“Dating is crucial in archaeology, without a reliable framework of chronology we can’t really be confident in understanding the relationships between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens as we moved into Europe 45,000 years ago and they began to disappear,” Tom Higham, a professor at the University of Oxford, who directs the PalaeoChron research project, which ran the study, said in a statement.
“That’s why these methods are so exciting because they provide much more accurate and reliable dates,” Higham added.
Devièse said that more accurate dates for these Neanderthal specimens answered one important question — but also opened up new ones, such as how long did Neanderthals and early modern humans overlap?
“We now know more precisely when Neanderthals disappeared in Europe, but we now need to confirm with the same robust methods when anatomically modern humans arrived in order to elucidate for how long these two species cohabited,” he added.
The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Mysterious 70-Million-Year-Old Underground Village And Magnificent Tower Of Eben-Ezer In Belgium
The Tower of Eben-Ezer is a 33-meter high tower built single-handedly out of flint by a man who worked on it for over ten years to display his artistic, paleontological, and theological discoveries.
Who built it?
Some of these mysterious subterranean worlds are famous and examined by archaeologists. Others are virtually unheard of and can never be investigated because they were destroyed.
One intriguing place is the fascinating underground village of Thébah in Belgium. It is said to be 70- million-year-old!
The discovery of the underground village took place when Robert Garcet (1912 –2001) decided to build a fantastic tower in the village of Eben-Emael, in the province of Henegouwen, Belgium.
Robert Garcet (1912-2001), who was born in Mons, Belgium. When he was 18 he moved to this area north of LiÃ¨ge, where he worked as a labourer in the local quarry. He was very interested in geology, nature, the history of mankind and the Bible, wrote a lot of books, and developed his own vision of the creation of man.
He was also a pacifist, and in 1947 began to draw up plans to construct a big tower as a symbol of peace. He started construction in 1953 and, with the occasional help of friends, completed it 15 years later.
What does it represent?
It’s difficult to say. Apparently, all aspects of the tower have a deep meaning. Its dimensions are in proportion to the Heavenly Jerusalem mentioned in the Bible in the Revelation of John. It gets its name from the Biblical account of the place Samuel erected a stone to symbolize peace. It has seven floors reflecting the sacred number of seven.
On the corners at the top of the tower, four sculptures are displayed representing characters of the book of Revelation: bull, lion, eagle and angel.
What’s it like inside?
The inside is as extraordinary as the outside. It’s full of artwork, sculptures and murals, as well as displays of geological discoveries, artefacts and fossils. Part of it is also devoted to a Museum of Flint, which gives you a tour of the history and use of flint over the ages.
You certainly won’t be bored at the Tower of Eben-Ezer. There’s an abundance of things to see, admire, wonder at, and ponder over. Sometimes you’ll be amazed; at other times you’ll just get totally mystified.
A wealth of information is available during your tour of the tower. This includes a bulky A4 binder with pages and pages of descriptions and details of everything you can see and the explanations behind all the displays and symbology. In addition, in many of the rooms computers are set up that you can click and navigate through multiple screens of information.
However, all the information is in Dutch or French. And there’s so much information that even with a good understanding of Dutch I simply couldn’t take it all in. Actually I would have needed hours to go through it all, said Robert Garcet.
The Tower of Eben-Ezer was featured in Channel 4’s 1998 series “Journeys into the Outside”, in which Jarvis Cocker (British musician and artist, famous for fronting the band Pulp) travels the globe in search of large-scale visionary environments.
The relevant clip starts at 11:07 and lasts for nearly 8 minutes.
What is interesting is that it includes an interview with Robert Garcet three years before his death, during which he calls Jarvis Cocker an imbecile! It’s also clear that Cocker himself struggles to understand what the tower is all about, and can’t quite get to grips with Garcet’s beliefs.