Category Archives: EUROPE

Oldest hand-written Roman document discovered in London

An oldest hand-written Roman document discovered in London

This tablet was found in a layer dated by MOLA to AD 43-53 so is thought to have been from the Romans' first decade of rule.
This tablet was found in a layer dated by MOLA to AD 43-53 so is thought to have been from the Romans’ first decade of rule.

Archeologists announced the findings of a dig in London as the first ever written roman record in a recent discovery. The record is handwritten and is Britain’s oldest written roman document discovered.

The nature of the contents of the documents was revealed after The Museum of London Archaeology undertook the project of deciphering the document; the record is dated January 8, AD 57. The discovery was made in a dig at Bloomberg’s new headquarters.

MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) has also claimed that a team of experts has successfully translated the documents with oldest reference to the modern city of London.

The dig at the Bloomberg’s produced some 700 big and small artefacts; including financial transactions and some schooling referencing. All artefacts and their translation will go on display by the Museum of London Archaeology.

The significance of the documents is paramount; according to MOLA these writings shed light on the early life of the London city. These documents also provide a detailed understanding of the mindset of the early inhabitants of the city who worked, lived and practically made the early London.

The recent findings containing the earliest reference to the city of London beats the Tacitus’ mention of London which was written some 50 years later from the Bloomberg’s documents.

he letters on this tablet show part of the alphabet: “ABCDIIFGHIKLMNOPQRST”

he letters on this tablet show part of the alphabet: “ABCDIIFGHIKLMNOPQRST” 

The director at MOLA Sophie Jackson said that the findings far exceeded the earlier expectations by the experts. She added that archaeologists now have a plethora of documents to form a framework of understanding about the early Roman Britons.

One of the most talked about and perhaps the most readable of all tablets, is thought to have been produced between 43-53 AD according to MOLA experts. It is also highly likely that it is from the first decade of the Roman’s rule over Britain and provides a glimpse into people’s behaviour towards financial transaction.

The documents is an excerpt of a letter perhaps written to a lender in which the scribe is warning the lender to be more mindful of the fact that he has given some loud mouth people loan for their business in the market; and that those people are now boasting around exposing his status.

Unlike the other ancient tablets, these tablets are mostly made of wood, which are then covered with blackened beeswax. The beeswax did not survive the wear and tear; however it did serve as a protection over the wooden tablets and leaving the marking of the writings over the wax on the wooden surface below.

Another factor that highly contributed towards the protection of the tablets was the fact that these were mostly buried under the mud created by the water from Walbrook River.

Over 400 tablets were found at the site, 87 of which have been deciphered

Over 400 tablets were found at the site, 87 of which have been deciphered 

After the initial excavation was finished, the tablets were kept in water for some period before they were thoroughly cleaned and freeze-dried; in order to get the better sight of the etching on the wood.

The head of the translation project at MOLA Dr. Roger Tomlin who translated most of the tablets expressed immense gratitude on eavesdropping on the lives of the earliest Brits. Members of the public could see these tablets on display along with their translation in The London Museum Exhibition in autumn 2017.

Burials of Africans slaves found at the old rubbish dump in Portugal

Burials of Africans slaves found at the old rubbish dump in Portugal

Adult female skeleton found at Valle da Gafaria, Portugal, suggests a careless burial.
Adult female skeleton found at Valle da Gafaria, Portugal, suggests a careless burial.

Portuguese explorers such as Henry the Navigator started sailing to Africa in the early 15th century, bringing both goods and enslaved people back.

A new archeological study of more than 150 skeletons dumped in Lagos, Portugal, reveals that there were no proper burials given to many of the enslaved Africans and that several of them may even have been tied to death.

The skeletons come from the site of Valle da Gafaria, which was located outside the Medieval walls of the port city of Lagos along the southwest coast of Portugal. Used between the Fifteenth and Seventeenth centuries as a dumping ground, the site also offered up remains of imported ceramics, butchered animal bones, and a few African style ornaments.

When the human skeletons were first analyzed, their shape and unique dental style suggested that they might have been of African origin, and subsequently, genetic analysis confirmed ancestry with Bantu – speaking populations of South Africa. Due to the archaeological and historical information, it is likely that all of these people were enslaved.

In a new research article published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, Maria Teresa Ferreira, Catarina Coelho, and Sofia Wasterlain of the University of Coimbra dug further into the bone data in order to understand how the 158 enslaved Africans came to be buried in a trash pit in Lagos.

Specifically, they investigated the position of each burial, whether or not the burial was made with care, and whether they could identify any evidence that the person’s body had been bound.

Adult female from Valle da Gafaria whose positioning suggests she may have been tied up for burial.
Adult female from Valle da Gafaria whose positioning suggests she may have been tied up for burial.

The Medieval Catholic concern with burial meant that the church was important in handling deaths in Portugal. A body would be ferried to the church in a funeral procession, and a grave would be chosen as close to a religious building as possible.

Elites and nobles were usually buried in an area protected by walls, while more marginal people were located outside. Those people who were further stigmatized by disease, condemned, or otherwise considered not to be deserving of care would be placed far outside sacred spaces.

Enslaved occupants of Medieval Portugal would not necessarily have been prevented from a proper burial. Many were baptized on arrival to Portugal and therefore had a right to a Christian funeral if the slave owner decided to do so.

However, due to the poor conditions aboard the ships, many people arrived so weakened that they died without being baptized. “In such cases,” Ferreira and colleagues explain, “as their humanity was not recognized, the corpses were treated as animal remains: summarily buried in any free field or dumped in the garbage.”

More than half of the people “seemed to have been buried without care,” Ferreira and colleagues note. “Moreover, six individuals showed evidence of having been tied when inhumed.” This suggests that several people had been tied up has intrigued other scholars, although it is unclear from the published research whether the bound limbs were related to the people’s enslaved status or to a more functional method of disposing of bodies.

Biological anthropologist Tim Thompson at Teesside University praised the “sound research” but also told me that “it is difficult to truly assess the examples of tied individuals because there are so few, and no figures are presented.” He suggests that comparing “the anatomical positioning with examples from modern mass graves would allow for deeper analysis. There are many examples of binding and blindfolding in these modern mass violence settings, along with disrespectful deposition of bodies.”

Ellen Chapman, a bioarchaeologist and cultural resources specialist at Cultural Heritage Partners, also told me that she looks forward to further work on this site and this collection of skeletons because “this site is an incredibly disturbing one, and one that clearly illustrates the pervasive mistreatment of enslaved people by the architects of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.”

In particular, Chapman notes that “this skeletal collection is indicative of the high mortality associated with slave ships and the Middle Passage.” Thompson adds that “this work has the potential to contribute to our understanding of both ancient and modern forced slavery contexts.”

In the end, Ferreira and colleagues conclude that “Valle da Gafaria’s osteological collection is extremely important for slavery studies. Not only are there few cemeteries of enslaved people in the world, but also, Lagos is the oldest sample to be discovered and studied in the world.”

Source: archaeologynewsnetwork

Decapitated bodies found in Great Whelnetham’s Roman cemetery in u.k

Decapitated bodies found in Great Whelnetham’s Roman cemetery in U.K

Archeologists excavating a Roman burial ground said it was a “rare find” to discover a series of decapitated bodies.

On a site in Great Whelnetham, Suffolk, a dig took place ahead of a planned housing development.

Of the 52 skeletons found, about 40% had their skulls detached from their bodies, many placed by their legs.

Archaeologist Andrew Peachey said it gave a “fascinating insight” into Roman burial practice.

The work has been undertaken on behalf of the Havebury Housing Partnership and was monitored by the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service

The work has been undertaken on behalf of the Havebury Housing Partnership and was monitored by the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service

The Roman cemetery, which dates to the 4th Century, includes the remains of men, women and children who had probably lived in a nearby settlement.

The fact that up to 40% of the bodies were decapitated represents “quite a rare find”, particularly having the “statistical anomaly of having so many decapitations there”.”

We are looking at a very specific part of the population that followed a very specific tradition of burial,” he said.

Roman Suffolk

The Mildenhall Treasure, a hoard of 4th Century Roman silver, including the Great Dish (pictured), was found in 1942
The Mildenhall Treasure, a hoard of 4th Century Roman silver, including the Great Dish (pictured), was found in 1942

The county of Suffolk was under the control of the Iceni tribe when the Romans invaded in the 1st century

From the mid 1st Century to the early 5th centuries AD it was an intensely populated area between the major Roman settlements of Colchester and Caistor, near Norwich

A hoard of 4th Century Roman silver, including the Great Dish, was found in Mildenhall in 1942.

One of the most significant Roman sites in Suffolk is the villa complex at Castle Hill in Ipswich, comprising several buildings, perhaps arranged around a courtyard

The Roman settlement Great Whelnetham may date back to the 1st Century

Mr. Peachey, of Archaeological Solutions, said he did not believe there had been executions.

The heads were likely to have been removed “carefully” after the individual had died, he added.

The team are analysing the bones to find out as much as possible about the population.

Great Whelnetham is a known Roman settlement and Roman burials were typically placed as we would place them, said Mr Peachey.

The skeletons will go to a museum archive.

“Be cheerful, enjoy your life” says happy skeleton mosaic found in Turkey

“Be cheerful, enjoy your life” says happy skeleton mosaic found in Turkey
“Be cheerful, enjoy your life” says happy skeleton mosaic found in Turkey

In the ruins of a 3rd Century B.C house, Turkish archeologists came across an incredible find: a mosaic that features a skeleton with a large loaf of bread and a pitcher of wine.

Besides, the imagery of a skeleton having a blast with the bread and the wine.

one section of the three-panel also features an optimistic message  written in Greek that reads: “Be cheerful and live your life.”

The extremely well-preserved ancient mosaic was discovered in a house in Turkey’s southern state, Hatay Province, in the provincial capital of Antakya.

The 3th-century “meme” was discovered during construction of a cable car system.

An archaeologist from the Hatay Archaeology Museum, Demet Kara explained that the mosaic entitled  “skeleton mosaic,” was an elaborate centerpiece of a mosaic floor in the dining room of the house.

There are three scenes on glass mosaics made of black tiles. Two things are very important among the elite class in the Roman period in terms of social activities: The first is the bath and the second is dinner.

In the first scene, a black person throws fire. That symbolizes the bath. In the middle scene, there is a sundial and a young clothed man running towards it with a bare-headed butler behind.

The sundial is between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. 9 p.m. is the bath time in the Roman period. He has to arrive at supper at 10 p.m. Unless he can, it is not well received.

There is writing on the scene that reads he is late for supper and writing about time on the other.

In the last scene, there is a reckless skeleton with a drinking pot in his hand along with bread and a wine pot.

The writing on it reads ‘be cheerful and live your life,’” explained Kara“[This is] a unique mosaic in Turkey.

There is a similar mosaic in Italy but this one is much more comprehensive.

It is important for the fact that it dates back to the 3rd century B.C.,” “Antiocheia was a very important, rich city. There were mosaic schools and mints in the city. she added.

Sunken 17th-Century ‘Pirate Ship’ Discovered in Cornwall coast of England

Sunken 17th-Century ‘Pirate Ship’ Discovered in Cornwall coast of England

The two hand grenades.
The two hand grenades.

Hand grenades and cannons from the pirate ship’s wreck were found along the Cornwall coast in the United Kingdom from the 17th century.

Divers spotted artifacts from the wreck of the Schiedam, which sank off the coast in 1684 after some storms disturbed the sand that covered the objects on the seafloor.

According to Live Science, the Schiedam, originally a Dutch merchant ship, was taken by Barbary Pirates as a prize in 1683 and was subsequently seized by the Royal Navy and used for transport.

IFL Science reported, “The last of her days were spent as a transport vessel in the English Royal Navy before sinking to the seabed amid a storm on April 4, 1684, while loaded with ammunition from a failed British colony in North Africa.

It’s believed locals looted most of the wreckage, however, evidently, some of its treasures remain.”

A Sea Fight with Barbary Corsairs by Laureys a Castro, c. 1681.
A Sea Fight with Barbary Corsairs by Laureys a Castro, c. 1681.

The wreck was rediscovered about two years ago.Local historian and author Robert Felce told Fox News that he found one hand grenade in November 2018 at Dollar Cove on Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula.

Felce found a similar grenade at the site in May 2017.“I don’t use a metal detector – I use sight,” he explained. “I have become accustomed to what a lot of these things look like.”

The two 17th century hand grenades each consisted of a hollow iron shell filled with gunpowder.Felce told Live Science that he was a frequent visitor to the beach, which is exposed to strong waves from the Atlantic.

Both objects were heavily encrusted after lying on the seafloor for more than 300 years, and “Felce said he at first thought the latest grenade was an ordinary rock until he slipped and dropped it, and it broke open, revealing the two halves of the metal weapon and the explosive powder inside.”

Although the gunpowder in the grenade was damp and centuries’ old, he reported the find to the local police, who called in bomb-disposal experts from the Army to ensure that it was safe to handle.

The Schiedam was first discovered in 1971 by divers near the coast of Cornwall at a depth of 13 to 22 feet. Previous dives revealed an arsenal of weapons in the wreck, including numerous iron canons and carriage wheels.

A magnetometer survey in 1985 suggests that as many as 15 iron cannons may be buried under the sand.

David Gibbons of Cornwall Maritime Archaeology recently snapped a series of 3D photogrammetry images of the rediscovered wreckage.“The Schiedam is a fascinating wreck because it was carrying goods back in 1684 from the English colony of Tangier [Morocco], which had been abandoned to the Moors,” Gibbons told Cornwall Live.

“It represents a pivotal moment in history because the failure of Tangier led the English to look to Bombay instead.”Gibson continued: “Had the English succeeded in carving out a commercial enclave in North Africa and focusing their interests in the Mediterranean instead of in India, then the world would have been a very different place today.”

When the ship ran aground, there were no fatalities, which was unusual.“Because it was a government-owned ship by this time, they wanted to get as much of the cargo off, because it was ordnance,” Felce said in an interview.

“They had to draw on companies [of soldiers] from [the neighboring county of] Devon. These people salvaged as much as they could.”

3D photogrammetry of timber and stone from the ship’s wreck.
3D photogrammetry of timber and stone from the ship’s wreck.

Eight-year-old Swedish-American girl pulls pre-Viking era sword from lake

Eight-year-old Swedish-American girl pulls pre-Viking era sword from lake

Saga with the sword.
Saga with the sword. 

An 8- year – old girl on vacation with her family discovered a  pre – Viking Era Sword in a Swedish lake, leading to locals jokingly naming her the “Queen of Sweden.”

The ancient artifact was found by Swedish – American Saga Vanecek while playing in Vidöstern lake near her family’s holiday home.

Museum experts estimate that the sword is about 1,500 years old. A museum expert said that the sword is about 33 inches long and “exceptionally well preserved.”

It even has a sheath made of wood and leather.“I like to walk around finding rocks and sticks in the water and then I usually walk around with my hands and knees in the water and in the sand,” Saga told Radio Sweden in an interview.

As she was exploring the lake, she felt something “odd” beneath her hand and knee.“I picked it up and was going to drop it back in the water, but it had a handle, and I saw that it was a little bit pointy at the end and all rusty.I held it up in the air, and I said ‘Daddy, I found a sword!’ ”

“I’m not sure you should be touching it anymore,” her father responded. “It looks fragile.”

The sword found in Lake Vidöstern is estimated to be around 1,500 years old.
The sword found in Lake Vidöstern is estimated to be around 1,500 years old. 

The sword was initially reported to be 1,000 years old, but experts at the local museum now believe it may date to around 1,500 years ago, said the BBC.

“It’s not every day that you step on a sword in the lake,” said Mikael Nordstrom, head of the cultural heritage department at the Jönköpings County Museum.

Officials believe that no one found the sword until now because a drought lowered the level of the water.

Saga’s discovery led the museum and local council to carry out further excavations at the site.

They asked the family not to tell anyone about the discovery until they’d checked to see if there were other items of historical interest.

The finding of the sword was made public in the first week of October.

Anyone hoping to see the sword will have to wait at least a year, Nordström told The Local, explaining: “The conservation process takes quite a long time because it’s a complicated environment with wood and leather, so they have several steps to make sure it’s preserved for the future.”“Why it has come to be there, we don’t know,” he continued.

“When we searched a couple of weeks ago, we found another prehistoric object; a brooch from around the same period as the sword, so that means – we don’t know yet – but perhaps it’s a place of sacrifice.

At first, we thought it could be graves situated nearby the lake, but we don’t think that anymore.”

After a further search of the lake an Iron Age brooch was also found.
After a further search of the lake an Iron Age brooch was also found. 

The sword prompted teams, which included museum staff, to carry out more searches, though none have resulted in such an important find.

The first led to the discovery of the brooch but the oldest object found in the second search was a coin from the 18th century.

Saga’s father said in an interview with The Local that several friends in the community joked that this discovery made Saga the new Queen of Sweden. The press soon took up the anointing of Saga.

On social media, the news has led to people posting things like “She’s the chosen one!” and “Well that’s it then, she’s the new ruler. We all must pledge our fealty.”

In Arthurian legend, only the king could draw a sword from the stone — and later the Lady in the Lake gives Arthur his sacred sword: Excalibur.As for Saga, she said this discovery hasn’t made her want to pursue a career in archaeology.

She said instead she hopes to be a doctor, vet, or an actress in Paris, although she does enjoy learning about “old stuff.”

Source: thelocal

British Soldiers Find The Remains And Sword Of A Rich Saxon Warrior

British Soldiers Find The Remains And Sword Of A Rich Saxon Warrior

Salisbury plains on a stormy summers day, Wiltshire, England.

Salisbury Plain is a large, open land area in Wiltshire, England covering approximately 300 square miles (775 square km).

In addition to being the British Army’s largest training ground, Stonehenge is also home to one of the UK’s most famous sites.

But Salisbury Plain also bears many other ancient sites, including Barrow Clump, which recently found the remains of ancient inhabitants.

About 3.5 miles from Amesbury, Barrow Clump is only one of what were once several barrows that made up what is called a bowl barrow.

It was built in the Bronze Age but was later re-used as an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in the 6th century. Barrow Clump is the only surviving barrow, the others having long since been ploughed over.

Saxon spear from the burial.
Saxon spear from the burial. 

Recently, an archaeological dig was conducted in the area. What makes this dig particularly interesting is that is was done as a part of Operation Nightingale – an initiative by the military that uses archaeology to assist in the recovery of service personnel who were injured in recent conflicts such as Afghanistan.

Salisbury Plain is an important ecosystem, but also an incredibly significant historic site, and Wessex Archaeology has been working with the Defence Infrastructure Organization to protect it.

One of the major threats to the archaeological remains on the plain is not necessarily military exercises, however; it is burrowing animals, of which there are many, especially badgers.

This was the case at Barrow Clump, where the burrowing of these animals was bringing bones and grave items to the surface, and which would eventually lead to the destruction of the site altogether.

Wessex Archaeology was invited by the Defence Infrastructure Organization to oversee an excavation at the burial ground, the aim of which was to record and recover the Anglo-Saxon burials that were at risk, and investigate what Bronze Age burials were still there.

30 military personnel were involved in the dig, and 75 Anglo-Saxon graves were excavated – including that of an Anglo-Saxon warrior, found on the last day of excavation.

A skull excavated at Barrow Clump in Salisbury Plain.
A skull excavated at Barrow Clump in Salisbury Plain.

It was evident immediately that the remains were those of a warrior. He was found with a spear by his side, and a sword in his arms, which was actually still in one piece and included traces of the wood and leather scabbard.

His possessions included a belt buckle, knife, and tweezers, which were in a rather good condition despite having been underneath a military pathway. Also found with him were pattern-welded swords, which were indicative of the warrior once having a high status among his people.

Those who found him – participants in Operation Nightingale – were moved, as they felt they might have had some shared experiences.

According to Richard Osgood, senior archaeologist with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, “It was a classic last day of the dig find – there was such a buzz across the site, the soldiers definitely had a sense of kinship.”The warrior was found by using a metal detector for a final sweep of the site and gave off an unusually strong signal.

Osgood has stated that the site was generally better preserved than the ploughed fields outside of the army area: “We found one grave directly below the track, and the skull, only five centimeters down, hadn’t even been cracked – so from a curatorial point of view that was very reassuring.”

Remains of a young boy
Remains of a young boy

Together with the warrior, the excavation uncovered many other Saxon burials, including men, situated around the edges of the site, with women and children in the center.

Grave goods were also recovered, including weaponry, jewelry, and a large amber bead, buried with a young girl.

One of the graves without any other items simply and poignantly contained the remains of a young boy, curled up as if sleeping.

Osgood believes those buried at the site came from a settlement in a nearby valley: “It’s that Saxon thing of looking up the hill and knowing your ancestors are up there on a site that was already ancient and special.”Operation Nightingale has been so successful that several of its veterans have retrained as professional archaeologists.

The finds from the dig have been taken by Wessex Archaeology for more study and conservation, and will eventually find homes in the Wiltshire Museum in nearby Devizes. The Badgers are, according to Osgoode, “happily back in residence in the barrow now.”

Source: realmofhistory