Category Archives: ESTONIA

Archeologists discover human bones and Viking-era settlement in Viru-Nigula

Archeologists discover human bones and Viking-era settlements in Viru-Nigula

During an archeological dig ahead of planned roadworks in Viru-Nigula, Lääne-Viru County, human bones were discovered in the vicinity of the church wall. The archaeological work confirms researchers’ earlier hypothesis that the cemetery and church were built in the medieval period on the site of an earlier settlement.

During the archaeological excavations, a total of 11 human skeletons have been discovered. Four of those found had most likely been buried in a common grave. Preliminary estimates place the burial date of the finds somewhere between the 16th and 18th centuries.

The findings from Viru-Nigula will provide bone researchers with valuable information regarding methods used to treat illnesses and injuries at that time.

“There are a number of interesting pathologies, bone fractures, and injuries that are interesting to observe in my line of work. One [skeleton] has a fracture of the femur, for example. It will be interesting to see how that person deals with it.

Clearly, someone had to care for and treat them. There’s a perception about these types of severe fractures that people at that time didn’t survive them, but in fact, they did manage to cope with them. Of course, they weren’t put in the hospital and fixed up like they are nowadays, but they have healed nicely,” said bioarcheologist and bone specialist Martin Malve.

In addition to the medieval cemetery, the location of a settlement with a history dating back to the Viking Age was also discovered at the site.

“There are a lot of pottery shards and nails, and there are also plenty of animal bones – fish bones, bird bones, for example, so the material is very rich, in addition to the human bones. We can learn what people ate and which utensils they used.

We are also taking soil samples from here, where we are trying to get plant residue, which should provide us with information about their agricultural practices,” Malve said.

Archeologists discover human bones and Viking-era settlements in Viru-Nigula

The finds from different eras will inevitably lead to imaginations running wild, with plenty of speculation about what kinds of events may have taken place in Viru-Nigula at the end of antiquity, 800 years ago, and during the Crusades.

“People’s romanticism has led to suggestions that the village was burnt down, or that the Germans came and destroyed the village. But what actually happened, we don’t know.

Perhaps part of the village was deserted or demolished or a church was built in the center. If you look at the maps of the settlement and the cultural layer of the area, there is evidence that the church and the cemetery were built right in the middle of the village,” Malve said.

The two-week archaeological dig in Viru-Nigula is scheduled to end on Sunday.

A medieval cargo ship unexpectedly found during construction work in Estonia

A medieval cargo ship unexpectedly found during construction work in Estonia

Construction workers have found the battered remains of a 700-year-old ship under the streets of the Estonian capital of Tallinn. Buried approximately 5 feet (1.5 meters) underground, the remnants of the ship are made of oak and are just over 78 feet (24 m) long with a beam, the ship’s widest point, measuring about 29 feet (9 m) across.

A view of the medieval ship, from the bow, in the excavation pit.

“The original length of the ship was bigger since the stempost [the vertical timber at the bow] is missing and the bow of the ship is damaged,” Priit Lätti, a researcher at the Estonian Maritime Museum, told Live Science in an email.

“The ship was probably built at the beginning of the 14th century,” according to dendrochronological analysis, an examination of the tree rings found in the ship’s wooden remains, he said. The ship is, at first glance, very similar to other ships found in Europe from the same time period, he added.

Unearthed near Tallinn’s Old Harbor three weeks ago, the ship was a significant find for archaeologist Mihkel Tammet, who had been observing a construction project.

According to Lätti, when areas under heritage protection are being excavated, an archaeologist must be present. The Estonian Maritime Museum was notified of the ship’s discovery to help provide more information and record the find.

The ship’s sternpost

The ship was not buried very deep, and as Lätti told Live Science, it was filled with sand. It’s likely the sea gradually filled the boat over the centuries, as different layers of sand were visible, he said.

Since the discovery of the ship, there has been speculation that it is a Hanseatic cog(opens in new tab), a cargo ship used for trade by the Hanseatic League.

The league, a group of trade guilds from across Europe, dominated the seas between the 13th and 15th centuries. However, Lätti said it is too early in the excavation process to be able to accurately determine the origins of the ship.

“Very probably, it is a cargo ship,” he said. “Since we do not yet know the origin of the timbers (the dendrochronological analyses are still preliminary, so I do not want to mention exact dates or first ideas about the origin of the timber) it is hard to tell the origin of the vessel.” 

Researchers are also working to determine whether further artefacts found buried with the ship can be of use when determining the age of the boat. “Additional analyses have been taken; also the artefacts found aboard must be analysed to give more exact answers, Lätti added.

“At the moment, only the bow area of the ship is excavated; the cargo hold was relatively empty. Now the excavations move to the aft area of the ship, which may contain more finds.”

Other artefacts uncovered with the ship so far include a couple of wooden barrels, pottery, animal bones, some leather objects and textiles. The number of finds is expected to increase in the coming days as the aft part of the ship is excavated.

The ship’s cargo holds in the excavation pit.

The discovery of the ship in such a well-preserved condition is significant, as it will help historians and archaeologists learn more about shipbuilding and trade in the Middle Ages, as well as what life was like onboard these ships.

“For Tallinn as an old merchant town, finding something like this is an archaeological jackpot,” said Lätti, who specializes in studying harbours and shipwrecks. “The development of Tallinn is closely related to maritime trade, and while we know quite a lot about the merchants and merchandise, we still know relatively little about the ships they used.”

Ships similar to this one have been discovered in the past. For example, the Bremen cog(opens in new tab) was found in Germany in 1962, and a medieval cargo ship was uncovered in Tallinn in 2015 and is now housed in the Estonian Maritime Museum.

The future of this ship, after it has been excavated, is still under discussion. But the aim is to remove it from the construction site where it was found and house it in a controlled environment and preserve it. Lätti described this as a “huge task.” 

“The methods of transporting, preserving and conserving the ship are still discussed,” he said, “because it is a very complex operation, and we are dealing with a very valuable archaeological object.”

Boy finds 3,000,000-year-old Megalodon shark tooth on a British beach

Boy finds 3,000,000-year-old Megalodon shark tooth on a British beach

A six-year-old boy has found a shark tooth belonging to a giant prehistoric megalodon that could be up to 20 million years old. Sammy Shelton found the 10cm-long (4in) tooth on Bawdsey beach in Suffolk during a bank holiday break.

Sammy Shelton found the giant tooth on a Suffolk beach

It has been confirmed as belonging to a megalodon – the largest shark that ever existed – by expert Prof Ben Garrod. His dad Peter Shelton said Sammy was sleeping with it near his bed as he was “very attached to it”.

The pair, from Bradwell near Gorleston-on-Sea in Norfolk, we’re searching for fossils when they came across the giant shark’s tooth, as first reported in the Great Yarmouth Mercury.

“Sammy was very excited as we’d seen fragments of shark teeth on the beach, but nothing as big and heavy as this,” Mr Shelton said.

Megalodon was a giant and dwarfed all other sea creatures
Boy finds 3,000,000-year-old Megalodon shark tooth on a British beach
Sammy found the tooth on the beach beneath Bawdsey’s eroding sandy cliffs while on holiday on 30 May

Photographs of the find were sent to Prof Garrod, a broadcaster and evolutionary biologist at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

“It belonged to a megalodon, the largest ever shark – and its teeth are not often found around the UK coastline,” he said.

“Maybe just a handful a year, but this is a particularly good example, in really good condition, whereas they are usually quite worn when found.”

The megalodon could grow up to 18m (60ft) in length, scientists estimate, and weigh up to 60 tonnes, he said.

Dwarfing anything else swimming in the waters at the time, these were “specialist whale eaters – they were ambush hunters,” Prof Garrod said.

The tooth was said to be in very good condition

The megalodon dominated all the seas around the world other than those parts of the oceans surrounding Antarctica.

The megalodon

The cartilaginous fish (whose skeleton is made of cartilage rather than bone) was a carnivore and had no known predators

It could eat anything it liked, but its favourite food was whales, although seals would also have been on the menu

Most of this shark’s hunting was in the open sea (juveniles lived closer to shore) and it attacked its prey near the surface when it came up for air

Megalodon could swim at high speed in short bursts so tended to rush its prey from beneath

It would first aim to disable its prey by injuring a flipper or the tail, then once unable to swim properly, the victim would be easy to finish off

Lived from about 20 million years ago, long after the dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago

Source: BBC Science

The name means “big tooth” and the giants were active from about 22 million years ago until about three million years ago when they became extinct.

Sammy’s find was “a really big thing” for the little boy, Prof Garrod said.

“Not many people who look for a megalodon tooth actually find one,” he said.

“I know – I’ve been searching since I was a child and I knew all the beaches around the area – but I still haven’t found my megalodon.”

Sammy’s excitement has been shared with his friends at school, and he took the tooth to his beaver cubs group, after which he was awarded his explorer badge, his father said.

Sammy described the “massive” tooth as his best-ever find and said it was just lying there on the sand and pebbles.

700-Year-Old Ship Found In Surprisingly Good Condition In Estonia

700-Year-Old Ship Found In Surprisingly Good Condition In Estonia

A 700-year-old, well-preserved ship found at a construction site in the Estonian capital Tallinn on the shores of the Baltic Sea is hailed as one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Europe this year. The ship was found five feet (1.5 meters) underground at a site near Tallinn harbour, close to the former mouth of the Härjapea River – a waterway that no longer exists.

The 80ft-long vessel ship is made up of oak logs and sealed with animal hair and tar. According to the initial dendrochronological analysis (the study of the growth rings of trees in relation to time), the logs are from the year 1298.

Scientists say the ship belonged to the Hanseatic League, a Medieval commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in central and northern Europe.

The Hanseatic League started in the 14th century and included the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark and Latvia.

700-Year-Old Ship Found In Surprisingly Good Condition In Estonia

“800 years ago we had almost two meters of water here,” the archaeologist in charge of the site, Mihkel Tammet, said to the British newspaper, The Metro.

“There were probably shallower underwater sand ridges which were hard to map because they changed their shape and location because of ice drifts and storms,” he explained.

“Our ship was found on one of these ridges under the sediments. It sank close to the Härjapea river mouth.”

It is rare to encounter these kinds of ships that are still in excellent condition. The last time it happened was in 1962 when the Bremen Cog was discovered in Germany.

However, archaeologist Mihkel Tammet said the newly-discovered wreck was in even better condition than its renowned cousin.

“We have found wool material used for packing, we have also found some tools and fragments of medieval leather shoes. Excavations are ongoing and we hope to find more,” Tammet said adding the whole area had once been underwater.

“This area was still under the sea in the 18th century. 800 years ago we had almost two meters of water here.

There were probably shallower underwater sand ridges which were hard to map because they changed their shape and location because of ice drifts and storms.

Our ship was found on one of these ridges under the sediments. It sank close to the Härjapea river mouth,” Tammet explained.

“Upon seeing the wreck, Tammet called in Ragnar Nurk, an archaeologist with the Tallinn city government.

Nurk said the cog would be now taken to a new home,” the Daily Mail reports.

“The wreck will be removed from its current position to allow the construction work to continue,

There are two main options currently: it will go to the maritime museum or to the wreck preservation area in Tallinn Bay near Naissaar Island.

Unfortunately, the size and restricted conditions of construction do not let us move the ship away in one part,” Tammet said.

700-Year-Old Ship Found In Surprisingly Good Condition In Estonia

700-Year-Old Ship Found In Surprisingly Good Condition In Estonia

An 80ft longship, thought to be 700 years old, was unveiled amidst construction work in Tallinn. The ship was reportedly used by a medieval commercial and defence alliance named the Hanseatic League that stretched across seven modern-day nations in northern and central Europe.

700-Year-Old Ship Found In Surprisingly Good Condition In Estonia
This Hanseatic League ship, which may exceed the Bremen Cog for preservation quality, was miraculously discovered 5 feet (1.5 meters) beneath the streets of Tallinn, Estonia’s capital.
The ghostly remains of the huge Hanseatic League ship emerge from a construction site in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital.

The League went to war with Denmark and was known to have sacked Copenhagen off Copenhagen, compelling the then king, King Valdemar IV, to give up about 15 per cent of his profits gained from Danish trade via a peace treaty.

One of the renowned archaeological finds of the Hanseatic League is the Bremen Cog, discovered in 1962 in Germany. Per Mihkel Tammet, an archaeologist, the Estonian find is simply as impressive. He also added that it is significantly good when compared to the Bremen Cog.

The vessel is 24 meters in length and nine meters in width. The boards are intact up to three meters from the ship’s bottom.

Archaeologists have found wool material used for packing; they have also discovered tools and fragments of medieval leather shoes.

Already the Hanseatic League shipwreck has yielded many medieval artefacts as this leather shoe remains.

Currently, excavations are going on and archaeologists hope to discover more. Experts have worked out the analysis of the wood and have concluded that the wreck is from 1298. This makes it 82 years older than the Bremen Cog.

This vessel was discovered about 1.5 meters underground, near the harbour in the capital city. It was built with 24-meter-long oak logs and then, sealed carefully with tar and animal hair. This is also not far from what once used to be the Härjapea River’s mouth. But the waterway is now absent.

Tammet was called on for investigating the site after a historical wreck was noticed about 50 meters away in 2008. Experts are hopeful that more discoveries were on the way, given that the area used to remain in the water.

He mentioned that the area was under the sea even in the 18th century. Almost 800 years ago, there were about two meters of water there.

An archaeologist associated with the Tallinn city government, Ragnar Nurk, was called by Tammet soon after the stunning discovery. Nurk said that the wreck has to be removed from its current position to permit the construction work. He added that there are two options: it will either be taken to the maritime museum or Tallinn Bay’s wreck preservation spot near Naissaar Island.

The Hanseatic League, popular as Hansa, was formed in German merchant communities overseas and German towns in the north, to facilitate trade. With time in the Baltic, a virtual monopoly over maritime trade was established.

The cog was one of the main vessels in use. This is because it had ample cargo space, a flat bottom that helped access shallow waters, and needed too many men to operate.

Repurposed Shipwreck Unearthed in Estonia

Repurposed Shipwreck Unearthed in Estonia

Wrecks of ships found near the shoreline in Tallinn are keeping archaeologists busy and show that ship materials have been reused for centuries.

ERR News reports that part of a ship’s hull has been unearthed in Tallinn, Estonia, which is located on the coast of the Baltic Sea.

Priit Lätti of the Estonian Maritime Museum said that timber, sails, ropes, and metal from old ships would have been repurposed, a practice that dates back to the medieval period.

 When a ship had reached the end of its lifespan, everything still usable was sawn off and reused – timber, sails, ropes and metal.

Hulks that were beached on purpose have been discovered in Tallinn.

“In a situation where both ships and dock structures were made of wood, the fire was among the chief concerns. We know that ships that caught fire were towed out of the harbour to keep the fire from spreading and allowed to drift onto the beach,” Lätti said.

A month ago, construction workers found a part of a hull on Kiikri street near Kadriorg from which all usable timber had been sawn off just above the waterline.

Ship construction was skilled work and the materials valuable. The hulk continued to be of use after being decommissioned – archaeologists have also found details used in shipbuilding in Tallinn’s Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats).

“We have found rivets that we believe were used in shipbuilding. It does not mean the sea used to reach up there, simply that details from ships were later reused,” Lätti used.

Tallinn became a military port when the land became part of the Russian Empire in the early 18th century.