Category Archives: EUROPE

Ancient Rome — Construction Workers Find Rare Intact Roman Tomb

Construction Workers Find Rare Intact Roman Tomb

‘The Tomb of the Athlete’ includes four bodies, a coin, offerings of chicken, rabbit and lamb and strigils, the symbol of Roman sportsmen

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‘The Tomb of the Athlete’ includes four bodies, a coin, offerings of chicken, rabbit and lamb and strigils, the symbol of Roman sportsmen

It is a rare day when archeologists find an ancient burial that has not been destroyed by natural processes, ravaged by war, or plundered by hunters of artifacts.

It is why King Tut’s untouched tomb was so significant and why archaeologists are going gaga over the tomb of a Greek warrior discovered in Pylos.

Add another to the list; archeologists uncovered an untouched Roman tomb in Rome several weeks ago that they call the Athlete’s Tomb. Local Italy reports.

The tomb was found in the Case Rosse area west of the center of Rome by an earthmover working to extend an aqueduct about 6 feet underground.

Inside lay the undisturbed remains of 4 people, including a man in his 30s, a man in his 50s, a man between the age of 35 to 45, and a woman of undetermined age.

Francesco Prosperetti, who oversees archaeology in Rome, tells Elisabetta Povoledo at The New York Times that finding the tomb was sheer luck. “Had the machine dug just four inches to the left, we would have never found the tomb,” he says.

The discovery also unearthed an assortment of jugs and dishes, a bronze coin, along with dishes of chicken, rabbit and another animal believed to be a lamb or goat, likely offerings to sustain them in the afterlife.

Among the trove were two strigils, blunt hooks that Romans used to clean themselves and wipe off oil while bathing and that athletes used to scrape away sweat.

In fact, the strigil was considered the symbol of an athlete in the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.

Still, calling the find the “Tomb of the Athlete,” is more or less a marketing move, Fabio Turchetta, one of the archaeologists working on the site, tells Povoledo since all the men inside are over 35 and would have been well past their prime by classical standards. “To say there was an athlete is a bit of stretch, but it works journalistically,” as he puts it diplomatically.

Based on the coin found in the tomb, which includes an image of Minerva on one side and a horse head with the word “Romano” on the other, the tomb dates between 335 and 312 B.C.E. during the heyday of the Roman Republic.

Researchers have begun the process of removing the bodies from the tomb, which will be sent to the laboratory for analysis and DNA testing to determine if they are a family.

A paleobotanist also collected samples of pollen and plant material to help figure out the flora of the area when the tomb was constructed.

The structure itself has been documented by a laser scan and will be sealed up once excavations are complete.

Turchetta tells Povoledo that the area the tomb was found in has been heavily surveyed and excavated in the past, so finding the intact chamber was surprising and emotional.

This isn’t the first time that construction in Rome has uncovered amazing finds. Just last year, while expanding the metro system, archaeologists found that the bones of a dog inside the remains of an aristocratic home that burned down during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus in the 2nd century C.E.

The same construction project also uncovered the military barracks of emperor Hadrian’s Praetorian Guard.

Source: realmofhistory

Medieval Village Unearthed in Denmark

Lost medieval village discovered in Denmark

 Excavation of an extremely well-preserved cellar, which may have functioned as a place to store the town’s taxes.
Excavation of an extremely well-preserved cellar, which may have functioned as a place to store the town’s taxes.

Traces of three courtyards surrounded by a ditch marks out an area, which archaeologists have interpreted as the center of a village dating back to the Middle Ages in Tollerup, East Denmark.

Historical sources suggest that the farms belonged to the village rulers. A cellar in the largest farm was probably used to store tax revenues in the form of objects collected from the villagers.

“The interesting thing about this find is that we have some very old written sources that [give us] an entirely new understanding from what we can interpret from the excavation alone,” says Gunvor Christiansen, an archaeologist at Roskilde Museum, Denmark.

The excavated farmhouses date back to the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance (around 1400 to 1600 CE), and it is rare to find such well-preserved remains from this period, outside the large market towns in Denmark, says Christiansen.

A vanished village

Archaeologists do not know why the village was abandoned but they knew it existed as it is mentioned in a number of written sources.

A letter from King Canute IV first records the gifting of a village at this location to a bishop in 1085. The excavated houses were built later. A number of tax rolls from Tollerup also refer to six farms and a manor on the site, which was possibly used to store the collected taxes.

A gravel pit alongside the three farms could explain why they did not find the remains of the other three farms, says Christiansen.“Compared with other farms of the same period, we can see that one of the farms must have been the manor house, referred to in the written sources. It’s a qualified guess because the farm is so large,” she says.

The three farms are approximately five meters wide and 15 to 20 meters long, but the manor has a cellar area of 50 square meters. The foundations of the outer wall of the manor suggest that it was a two-story building.

Exceptionally well preserved

The archaeologists were pleased to see that the cellar remains were buried so deep. This would have protected them from a disturbance at the surface, for example by farming equipment turning the land over the years.

It’s rare to find houses from the Middle Ages in Denmark, says archaeologist Nils Engberg, curator at the National Museum of Denmark.

“We have lots of excavations from earlier periods. For example from the Stone Age and Bronze Age. But unfortunately not from the Middle Ages because the houses were built in a different way,” he says.

The large cellar was 50 square metres in size. Part of it was probably used to store the collected taxes while the other side was used to store farming equipment. (Photo: Kirsi Pedersen)
The large cellar was 50 square metres in size. Part of it was probably used to store the collected taxes while the other side was used to store farming equipment.

It was at this time that people began to construct houses with stone foundations after a law was passed to prevent felling of trees. Previously, all houses were timber constructions which led to a timber shortage throughout the country.

But the remains of stone houses could be easily looted and the materials used elsewhere in subsequent buildings, meaning that few were preserved to this day.

Christianity had a foothold in the community

When in use, the cellars would have been full. Archaeologists found evidence of two grinding stones from a mill, plough equipment, and many more everyday objects.

Moreover, they found traces of clay flooring, an oven, and pieces of tile with religious motifs, including a priest.“Religious motifs were very typical of the 1500s,” says Christiansen. Engberg agrees.

This was when Christianity gained momentum, he says.“In this period we had a permanent royal power and a centralized administration.

The country was split into dioceses such as Roskilde and Lolland Falster diocese. Soon, a government formed and we begin to slowly see a societal structure similar to that of today,” he says.

Roskilde’s bishop had connections to Tollerup

Archaeologists suspect that the village fell under the Diocese of Roskilde.“The Bishop of Roskilde received the taxes during this period and he may well have rented the manor for a vassal to administer it.

In the end, all taxes from Tollerup went to the bishop up until the Reformation after which the king took control,” says Christensen.

It is not yet absolutely certain that the town is the disappeared village recorded in the old tax rolls and the king’s letters. Archaeologists and historians will continue to study the site to find out for sure.

Source: archaeology.org

Oxford medieval road discovered under a field near Willow Walk

Oxford medieval road discovered under a field near Willow Walk

The unearthed causeway is made of rounded river pebbles, limestone and chalk rocks
The unearthed causeway is made of rounded river pebbles, limestone and chalk rocks

A ‘REMARKABLY intact’ Medieval stone causeway with horseshoes still lying on top of it has been uncovered beneath a field in Oxford.

Made of rounded river pebbles, limestone and chalk rocks, the cobbled road still has ruts in its surface made by cartwheels more than 500 years ago.

The pathway, next to Willow Walk, between Oatlands recreation ground in Botley and North Hinksey Lane, is one of several surprising discoveries made by archaeologists working on the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme.

Over the past three months, the team from Oxford Archaeology dug some 200 trenches along the three-mile route of the proposed £120m flood channel from Botley Road to South Hinksey.

Another of the most exciting finds which could change the history of Oxford was evidence of Iron or Bronze Age roundhouses in a field near South Hinksey – which could date back as far as 4,000 years.

Oxford Archaeology project manager Ben Ford said: “This was a totally unexpected find.

“There are a number of roundhouses suggesting a small settlement which probably extends under South Hinksey.”

Fragments of pottery and animal bones will be examined over the coming weeks using radiocarbon dating, which will confirm the age of the discoveries.

Mr. Ford said: “We’re very excited about the prospect of further work on these roundhouse findings – especially the possibility they indicate that there has been a settlement at South Hinksey from the Bronze Age – we didn’t know that before.”In another area, the digging revealed an ancient track which seems to point towards New Hinksey.

The investigations are the first opportunity archaeologists have had to study this area of the Oxford floodplain in detail, and Mr. Ford said: “This gives us an unprecedented insight into the history of part of Oxford.”

The team found 6,000-year-old Mesolithic flints which will help develop an understanding of hunter-gatherers who lived in what is now Oxford.

With excavations now finished, the archaeologists hope to produce a final report early next year.

The archaeology has been funded by the Environment Agency in preparation for constructing the three-mile Oxford flood alleviation channel.

Uncertainty still hangs over the funding for the scheme, after the EA warned in September that it still needed to find the final £4.35m ‘by November’ or the scheme may have to be scrapped

Source: bbc

Denmark barbarian battle: Archaeologists Just Discovered the Mangled Remains

Denmark barbarian battle: Archaeologists Just Discovered the Mangled Remains

One of the nearly 400 slaughtered barbarians thought to be buried at Alken Enge in Denmark.
One of the nearly 400 slaughtered barbarians thought to be buried at Alken Enge in Denmark.

A ragtag troop of about 400 Germanic tribesmen marched into battle in Denmark about 2,000 years ago against a mysterious adversary and were slaughtered to the last man. Or at least that’s the story their bones tell.

Exhumed from Alken Enge — a peat bog in Denmark’s Illerup River Valley — between 2009 and 2014, nearly 2,100 bones belonging to the dead fighters have given archaeologists a rare window into the post-battle rituals of Europe’s so-called “barbarian” tribes during the height of the Roman Empire.

In a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark dug into the bloody details.

“The ferocity of the Germanic tribes and peoples and their extremely violent and ritualized behavior in the aftermath of warfare became a trope in the Roman accounts of their barbaric northern neighbors,” the authors wrote in the new study. 

Despite these historical accounts, little evidence of these practices has ever been discovered in archaeological finds — until now.

“Comprehensive slaughter”

In the Alken Enge find, archaeologists unearthed 2,095 human bones and fragments from the peat and lake sediment across 185 acres of wetlands in East Jutland.

These bones belonged to 82 distinct people — seemingly all men, most of them 20 to 40 years old — but likely account for just a fraction of the bones initially deposited in the area, the researchers wrote.

After analyzing the geographic distribution of the bones, the team estimated a minimum of 380 skeletons were originally interred in the water.

This population “significantly exceeds the scale of any known Iron Age village community,” the researchers wrote, suggesting the men were recruited from a large area to participate in a common battle.

Using radiocarbon analysis, the team dated the bones to between 2 B.C. and A.D. 54 — sometime between the reigns of the Roman emperors Augustus (27 B.C. to A.D. 14) and Claudius (A.D. 41 to 54).

During this time, Rome expanded its empire north into Europe but met fierce resistance from the scattered tribes who lived in modern-day Germany and Denmark.

Some tribes allied with the Empire, and infighting between tribes was common.

The bones of the men at Alken Enge are thought to be the casualties of one such tribal battle.

Ancient weapons like axes, clubs, and swords were found scattered about the site, and it was clear to the researchers that many of the skeletons had sustained critical battle wounds before dying.

“The relative absence of healed sharp force trauma suggests that the deposited population did not have considerable previous battle experience,” the researchers wrote. Indeed, the scrappy group of soldiers met “comprehensive slaughter.

“Ritual burial or hasty cleanup?

Nearly 2,100 bones were found in East Jutland, Denmark. Numerous other finds have been discovered preserved in the region's peat bogs.
Nearly 2,100 bones were found in East Jutland, Denmark. Numerous other finds have been discovered preserved in the region’s peat bogs.

Finding boneyards of dead soldiers is no rarity in archaeology; what truly excited the researchers about Alken Enge was the seemingly ritualistic way in which the skeletons were buried.

For starters, it appears that the skeletons were deposited in the lake after they had decomposed in the wild for anywhere between six months and a year.

Nearly 400 of the bones were hatched with gnawing tooth marks probably left by scavenging animals such as foxes, wolves or dogs.

Moreover, the absence of bacterial decay on the bones suggests that the men’s inner organs were removed, decomposed or eaten by scavengers before their ultimate burial, the researchers wrote.

Whether it was a friend or foe who did the burying is still unclear. The man’s arm and leg bones were severed from their torsos.

Few intact skulls were present, but many cranial fragments appeared to have been smashed with a club or other bludgeoning tool, the researchers said.

Four pelvic bones hung around a single tree branch with deliberate intent.”Alken Enge provides unequivocal evidence that the people in Northern Germania had systematic and deliberate ways of clearing battlefields,” the researchers concluded.

The find certainly “points to a new form of postbattle activities” in Germanic tribes at the dawn of the current era — but what it all means is still a mystery.

Source: inticweb

London: Crossrail dig unearths 13,000 Victorian jam jars

London: Crossrail dig unearths 13,000 Victorian jam jars

Marmalade was one of the condiments produced in the factory by Crosse & Blackwel

Marmalade was one of the condiments produced in the factory by Crosse & Blackwel

When the London Archeology Museum (MOLA) investigated the site of a proposed new London train station, they did not expect to find a stash of over 13,000 smashed pickling pots and jam jars dating back to the 1900s.

The stash was discovered during the construction of the railway station under an old nightclub. The area used to be a dumping ground for rejection from a factory that stood on the site until 1921 in Crosse & Blackwell (a British specialty food company).

The find included over 13,000 various containers. They ranged from bottles of mushroom catsup (a popular Victorian condiment) Piccalilli pots, and jars for marmalade and jam. All of them were discovered in a cistern that stood beneath the factory’s warehouse.

Nigel Jeffries, an archaeologist with the Museum of London Archaeology, explained that the cistern used to be filled with water during the factory’s production.

It was built in order to power the steam engines in the factory, but when the building was redesigned in the 1870s, the cistern became obsolete. After that, the cistern was used as a landfill by the Victorians.

Mushroom Catsup was popular with Victorians

Mushroom Catsup was popular with Victorians

While it may seem strange that archaeologists would want to dig up the Victorian trash pile, a person’s trash can tell us a lot about how they lived. Trash piles are a historian’s treasure.

This discovery is helping researchers learn more about “the tastes and palates of the Victorians”, Nigel Jeffries pointed out.

Crosse & Blackwell were based in this area of London between 1830 and 1921, right smack dab in the middle of the industrial revolution and the Victorian era.

Records of the factory say it produced “a very distinctive pungency to the surrounding atmosphere”, which is saying a lot considering it was hard to smell anything during that time period through London’s notorious smog.

The find was originally made by London’s Crossrail Project, a government-funded project that’s revolutionizing London’s train system and building a new railway for the city.

Due to the nature of the project, they have to do a lot of digging, and they’ve dug up all sorts of archaeological finds recently, including several skeletons dating back to the Black Plague, an entire mass-grave dating back to the Dark Ages, and some history of Bedlam Hospital. They’re taking great pains to ensure that no British history is lost in the construction of the new rail line.

These decorative jars were used to sell preserved ginger

These decorative jars were used to sell preserved ginger

Source: bbc

Traces of York’s First Railway Station Uncovered

Traces of York’s First Railway Station Uncovered

A fragment of the old York station.
A fragment of the old York station. 

During Construction Work on A New Housing Development in York’s historic English city, crews uncovered the remains of the very first railway station in the city.

According to Minster FM, a team from LS Archaeology, along with workers from Squibb Demolition, oversaw excavation of a layer of the site containing remnants of the historic structure, including platforms, train turntables, auxiliary buildings, and drainage systems.

The station was built in the 1840s, mostly from wood. The more durable remains were buried and preserved beneath more recent development.

Although the structure represented the vision of the 19th-century architect George Townsend Andrews, a man named George Hudson was the primary force behind the establishment of the station.

Known as “The Railway King,” Hudson was pivotal in framing and developing York as a transportation hub.

In 1833, Hudson became the largest shareholder in a railway line that would link his city to Leeds and Selby.

With this influence, he was able to route the line heading from Newcastle to London so that it passed through York.

Passengers would no longer simply bypass the walled city—a boon for its economic prospects.

By 1837, Hudson had become the chairman of the York & North Midland Railway Company, and within seven years, he controlled more than 1,000 miles of tracks.

The station eventually became obsolete; a new station was built around 1877.

One of the more pristine artifacts unearthed at the site, a train turntable, used to rotate entire locomotives and cars to go back the way they came or shuffle them off in another direction, will be included in the final landscaping of the new development.

Source: minsterfm

A 4,000-Year-Old skeleton discovered in Northern England

A 4,000-Year-Old skeleton discovered in Northern England

Workers uncovered the remains while converting a former stable block
Workers uncovered the remains while converting a former stable block

Builders working on a hotel in rural Northumberland have discovered human remains thought to be about 4,000 years old. 

The Tankerville Arms in Wooler was undergoing renovation work when they unearthed a Bronze Age stone burial chamber – or cist.

A digger driver was laying drainage pipes when he struck the stone made coffin before moving the cover slab back to see the hollow inside.

 Human remains thought to be about 4,000 years old have been discovered by builders working on a hotel in rural Northumberland. The Tankerville Arms in Wooler was undergoing renovation work when they unearthed a Bronze Age stone burial chamber - or cist
Human remains thought to be about 4,000 years old have been discovered by builders working on a hotel in rural Northumberland. The Tankerville Arms in Wooler was undergoing renovation work when they unearthed a Bronze Age stone burial chamber – or cist

Inside were human remains in a crouched burial position with a small, ‘beautifully fashioned flint knife’ found by the legs of the skeleton.

Archaeologists are examining it to find out the sex of the single skeleton and whether other remains lie around the site.

The team, from Northumberland County Council’s current estimates, suggest the cist dates from some time between 2,200BC and 1,750BC.   

Local archaeologist Roger Miket said the cist is formed of four upright stones with the cover slab on top.’ 

‘It may have been a woman because they were buried on their right side with their head to the west, although we can’t be certain until further analysis is done.

‘It also seems to have been charred so that is an interesting insight into the burial process, he said.

‘Of course, we have no idea of their religious beliefs but we have the symbols which give us some idea of what they thought so we know they believed in the afterlife. 

He said that the knife would have been a precious item at the time of the burial and was included in the grave for use in the afterlife.

Charlotte Lowery, the hotel manager said: ‘It’s been a very exciting few days here. It’s an amazing discovery. 

‘We’re having six self-contained holiday cottages built and the builders were just laying the last drain and came across a very flat, large stone and it became apparent it shouldn’t have been there.’ 

Northumbria has numerous archaeologically important sites from prehistoric cup and ring motifs, henges and hillforts including Ad Gedfrin, the palace of the ancient kings. 

Archaeologists are examining it to find out the sex of the single skeleton and whether other remains lie around the site. The team, from Northumberland County Council's current estimates suggest the cist dates from some time between 2,200BC and 1,750BC
Archaeologists are examining it to find out the sex of the single skeleton and whether other remains lie around the site. The team, from Northumberland County Council’s current estimates suggest the cist dates from some time between 2,200BC and 1,750BC

Source: bbc

The rare 13th century King John Royal Charter found in British Ushaw College Library

The rare 13th century King John Royal Charter found in British Ushaw College Library

 Dr Benjamin Pohl said the newly discovered charter could now be compared with an existing example
Dr Benjamin Pohl said the newly discovered charter could now be compared with an existing example

A rare original royal charter from the first year of King John’s reign has been discovered in Durham.

The document carries John’s seal, who reigned from 1199 to 1216, and was issued on March 26, 1200 in York — exactly 819 years ago.

It was found in the archives of Durham University’s Ushaw College Library.

Fewer than a dozen original charters have survived from the 1st year of King John’s reign.

Dr. Benjamin Pohl, a senior lecturer in Medieval History at Bristol University, came across the charter by chance while examining medieval manuscripts at Ushaw College.

He said the document was carefully prepared and written in what was known as a “court hand”, probably by a member of the king’s government department or chancery.

The charter was found in the library of Ushaw College

Dr. Pohl said: “Discovering the original charter is extremely exciting, not least because it allows us to develop a fuller picture of the people who were present at York on 26 March 1200 and eager to do business with the new king.

“Medieval charters are important not just because of the legal acts they contain, but also for what they can tell us about the society and political culture at the time.

“Our charter might best be described, therefore, as a kind of ‘who’s who’ of Northern England at the turn of the 13th Century.

“The document confirmed the granting of possessions in County Durham, namely the two hamlets of Cornsay and Hedley Hill, to Walter of Caen and Robert FitzRoger, Lord of Warkworth and Sherriff of Norfolk and Suffolk.

Walter and Robert were nephews of Simon, a chamberlain of Durham who had originally received the grants from his bishop, Hugh de Puiset, sometime before 1183, but who later decided to part with the bequests in order to provide for his two younger relatives.

Ushaw College Library is regularly used by visiting scholars
Ushaw College Library is regularly used by visiting scholars

Prof David Cowling, pro-vice-chancellor for arts and humanities at Durham University, said: “For one of our visiting fellows to identify an item from the collection as a previously uncatalogued medieval royal charter is a wonderful example of the benefits and advances that can be made by working and exploring our archives together.

“The bishop’s charter, recording the original grants to Simon, is also held at Durham, allowing the two original documents to be compared and studied side-by-side for the first time.

Source: chroniclelive