Category Archives: EUROPE

Remains of the inhabitants of Herculaneum who took shelter in the coast buildings during Vesuvius eruption

Remains of the Inhabitants of Herculaneum who took shelter in the coast buildings during Vesuvius eruption.

A study found that the residents of the Roman town of Herculaneum weren’t instantly vaporized by the Vesuvius, but were instead baked and put to death. Like neighboring Pompeii, during the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the year 79 AD, the ancient town was ruined.

Although Pompeii Streets were covered at a level of 13 and 20 feet of ash and pumice, Herculaneum was struck by pyroclastic flows — blazing clouds of gas and debris. While many of the wealthy coastal town’s residents evacuated before the eruption, at least 340 people perished as they attempted to shelter in stone boathouses and on the beach.

While these victims were thought to have had a mercifully rapid death, a fresh analysis of the victim’s skeletal remains now suggests something else. One aspect that makes Herculaneum interesting in comparison with Pompeii is its location relative to Mount Vesuvius — which gave the townsfolk more time to evacuate. 

Residents of the Roman town of Herculaneum were not instantly vaporised by Vesuvius but instead were baked and suffocated to death, a study has found. Pictured: while many of the town’s residents evacuated before the eruption, around 340 took shelter in stone bathhouses

‘The residents saw the eruption and had a chance to attempt an escape,’ said biological anthropologist Tim Thompson of the Teesside University in Middlesbrough.

‘It gives a snapshot into the way in which these people responded and reacted to the eruption,’ he added.

Although many of the coastal town’s population evacuated, around 340 individuals still ended up stranded on the waterfront when the pyroclastic flows swept across the town at some 100 miles per hour (160 kph).

As some of the towns’ menfolk hurried to prepare boats on the beach, many women and children took refuge in the vaulted stone boathouses — or ‘fornici’ — where they would ultimately been unearthed centuries later in 1980.

‘They hid for protection and got stuck. The general theory has been that these individuals were instantly vaporised,’ said Professor Thompson.

This notion has been supported by the fact that few of the human remains from Herculaneum were found in the so-called ‘pugilistic attitude’ — or ‘boxer position’, with flexed elbows and knees as well as clenched fists.

Bodies subjected to high temperatures often end up in the boxer position as their tissues and muscles dehydrate and contract — but this does not occur if temperatures are high enough to rapidly vaporise this flesh off of the bone.

According to the researchers, the latter requires temperatures from the pyroclastic flow well in excess of 1832°F (1000°C) — and they had doubts as to whether this phenomenon took place at Herculaneum. 

‘Vaporisation isn’t necessarily in keeping with what we see forensically in modern volcanic eruptions,’ Professor Thompson added. To investigate, the team used techniques to study the Herculaneum boathouse skeletons that they had first developed to study ancient cremations.

While many of Herculaneum residents evacuated before the eruption, at least 340 people perished after sheltering in stone boathouses and on the beach
Like neighbouring Pompeii — pictured in this artist’s impression — Herculaneum was destroyed in the eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius in the year 79 AD
As some of the towns’ menfolk hurried to prepare boats on the beach, many women and children took refuge in the vaulted stone boathouses — or ‘fornici’ — where they would ultimately been unearthed centuries later in 1980

Their past work had shown that the crystalline inner structure of skeletons changes depending on the amount of heat they are subjected to, as does the amount of collagen that remains within the bone.

They conducted their tests on the ribs of 152 individuals who perished within the fornici — and found that the state of their bones was not consistent with exposure to temperatures in the order of 572–932°F (300–500°C).

‘What was interesting was that we had good collagen preservation but also evidence of heat-induced change in the bone crystalline,’ said Professor Thompson.

‘We could also see that the victims had not been burned at high temperatures.’ 

‘They hid for protection and got stuck. The general theory has been that these individuals were instantly vaporised,’ said Professor Thompson
This vaporisation theory has been supported by the fact that few of the human remains from Herculaneum were found in the so-called ‘pugilistic attitude’ — or ‘boxer position’, with flexed elbows and knees as well as clenched fist — which does not occur if temperatures are high enough to rapidly vaporise this flesh off of the bone.

Instead of having their flesh instantly vaporised, the victims may have lived long enough to unpleasantly suffocate on the toxic fumes of the pyroclastic surge, the researchers concluded — if the heat stress didn’t kill them first.

‘The heat caused some changes externally, but not necessarily internally to the bones,’ Professor Thompson said. 

This suggests that — in the insulated environment of the boathouses, at least — the temperatures from the pyroclastic flow likely did not exceed 752°F (400°C) and may have been as low as 464°F (240°C).

‘The walls of the fornici, as well as their own body mass, dispersed the heat in the boathouses, creating a situation that more closely relates to baking,’ he added.

Professor Thompson and colleagues’ findings have not only challenged assumptions about how the catastrophe of Vesuvius played out — but have also opened up new areas of investigation.

‘Thanks to the collagen preservation in the bones of the Herculaneum victims, we have been able to commence a whole suite of further analyses,’ added paper author and archaeologist Oliver Craig of the University of York.

‘For example, through stable isotope measurements, we have gained a unique snapshot of the Roman diet.’ 

UK Dig Discovers 9,000-Year-Old Remains

UK Dig Discovers 9,000-Year-Old Remains

A collection of 400 Roman coins in 1995 was found in Oxfordshire west of Didcot, indicating the land had been lived on for centuries. As plans progressed for 3,300 new homes, schools, and shops on the 180-hectare site, archaeologists were called in to investigate. It has taken them nearly three years to excavate 30 hectares, but they now know people have been living in Didcot for about 9,000 years – since the end of the last ice age.

Timeline of finds at the site

As news has spread about the finds, local residents have begun a fight to save at least some of it.

‘Offering to gods’

The fields, west of the town, have given a near-complete timeline from when hunter-gatherers arrived in Oxfordshire in 7,000 BC, through to the present day villages surrounding the site. Those earliest remains were found by Steve Lawrence, from Oxford Archaeology, the firm which carried out the dig. He was walking around the site one day during the dig and spotted bits of flint on the ground.

On closer inspection, the flint had clearly been worked and there were hundreds of pieces, dating back to around 7,000 BC. They would have been used on spears by hunter-gatherers who camped along the ridge to stalk their prey. The most significant find of the dig was a rare Neolithic bowl from about 3,600 BC – when people began to settle down and farm the land. It was found upside down in a hole where a tree had stood,” explains archaeologist Rob Masefield, from RPS Planning and managing the project.

“It may have been an offering to the gods of the underworld.”

Ritual burials

Over time new settlements were established across the site, which meant each part excavated unveiled a glimpse of a different era. Another rare find was a pond barrow – a stone-lined 12m wide circular depression – which the archaeologists believe was used for “exposure burials”.

This Neolithic bowl probably contained organic matter such as food, as an offering to appease the gods
Several complete pots were found when a Roman burial was excavated
One of the special burials contained what is thought to be a woman and a stillborn baby
This early Bronze Age flint arrow head was probably “ritually broken” then placed on top of a body being buried
Several complete pots were found when a Roman burial was excavated

Mr. Masefield said the body would be put up high on a raised platform and “the bones picked clean by birds and other animals”.

“Only ever a dozen or so pond barrows have ever been excavated so this provided some great new information,” he added. Up to 50 burials, of both adults and children, were identified.

Mr. Masefield said: “It’s possible that three or so of these burials in [grain storage] pits are what we call ‘special burials’, because it’s not the usual way of doing it.

“It could be ritual or they could be social outcasts.”

He said there is evidence found at other sites – though not at Didcot – suggesting Iron Age people did practice human sacrifice and may even have “bred” individual human beings solely for this purpose.

“They are found with immaculate nails and signs of having lived a privileged life, almost like royalty,” he said.

“When the person is killed it’s been done in three different ways. It appears to be a ritual.” Archaeologist Kate Woodley, from Oxford Archaeology, said the team still had a lot of work to do analyzing the finds from the dig, which could take another two years.

“We don’t want to say too much too early and get it wrong.

“We’ll get a more precise picture with carbon 14 dating and sampling.”

‘Losing our history’

Karen Waggott, who is campaigning to preserve the site, feels the findings at Didcot were not revealed until “it’s too late to save the site” from being built on.

“We’re only just finding out about this, and you blink and more houses have gone up,” she said.

“We’re losing our history just as we’re finding out about it.”

Grain storage pits were later used for ritual feasting and many animal bones were found

But Mr. Masefield said although the site was the largest and “most significant” dig in recent years in Oxfordshire, there was nothing of “schedulable value” – so important that it could be legally protected.

He said it was so significant because it “allows the interpretation of a large area of the landscape through the ages”. The project was funded by developer Taylor Wimpey and had it not been for the firm’s support, it would not have happened, he explained. To save some of the archaeology, Mrs. Waggott suggested a “history trail” through the new estate, information boards to mark discovery spots, and a museum.

“They should leave a piece of land where the [Iron Age] village was.

“Maybe if they could build a little roundhouse – then our children can see what was here once.”

A spokesman for Taylor Wimpey said: “We are eager to safeguard this window to the past.

“Much of the Roman farmstead, for instance, will be preserved under sports pitches.

“Our intention is for the development to provide homes for generations to come in Didcot, just as the site has done for thousands of years.”

Possible Elizabethan Playhouse Unearthed in London

Possible Elizabethan Playhouse Unearthed in London

Experts believe the Red Lion outdoor theatre in London was built around 1567.

Archaeologists uncovered a rectangular timber structure made up of 144 surviving timbers

Archaeologists believe they have discovered the remains of London’s oldest playhouse that was built only three years after the birth of William Shakespeare.

Dozens of timbers were found at the site in east London that experts believe could have been part of the outdoor stage and seating of the Red Lion, the earliest purpose-built playhouse, dating from about 1567.

Excavations took place before housing development works began at 85 Stepney Way

It was thought to have been built by John Brayne, an entrepreneur who went on to build another larger theatre that staged plays by a young Shakespeare at the end of the 16th century.

Little is known about the playhouse but it features two lawsuits from the 1560s when Brayne sued the carpenters because of shoddy work.

Archaeologists have created a map of what they believe the site looked like

No physical evidence of the playhouse had been discovered until excavations in January 2019 started to uncover the timbers at the site of a planned housing development.

The playhouse is thought to have been a prototype that was used as a venue for companies of travelling actors, said Stephen White, who directed the excavation of the site.

“I thought we were on a hiding to nothing,” Mr White said. “There was a chance that something might be there – but it was a surprise.”

The theatre pre-dates by more than three decades the more famous Globe Theatre, which became closely associated with Shakespeare and the company of actors he wrote for during his career.

The Globe was re-created as a theatre and opened in 1997 on the banks of the River Thames and is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions.

Two beer cellars which were thought to be part of the complex were discovered

Archaeologists believe the playhouse was part of a sprawling complex that developed from a farm, an inn, and an animal-baiting venue, according to the archaeologists from University College London.

They also found bottles, tankards, and a mug bearing the symbol of King Charles II, who reigned from 1660 to 1685.

A late 17th Century tavern mug with a Royalist medallion of Charles II was found among beakers and tankards at the site

“This is one of the most extraordinary sites I’ve worked on,” said Mr. White. “After nearly 500 years, the remains of the Red Lion playhouse …. may have finally been found.”

Irish schoolboy discovers 4,000-year-old boat in Roscommon

Irish schoolboy discovers 4,000-year-old boat in Roscommon

LISACUL, IRELAND — A 12-year – old boy has found out the ruins of a wooden long-boat while wading in a lake in the Roscommon County of North Central Ireland reported by Irish Independent.

The boat may have been built early in the Neolithic period or as late as the Middle Ages.

An old boat that was more than 4,000 years old, uncovered by a bored schoolboy who abandoned his homework to paddle in the lake.

The 17ft longboat was lodged in the mud in the lake at the back of 12-year-old Cathal McDonagh’s home in Lisacul, Castlerea, Co Roscommon.

Archaeologists have told the family the ancient vessel could date back as far as 2000 BC.

The Irish Independent reports that McDonagh tripped over the vessel as he paddled in the shallow water of the lake and says that an expert team will travel from Dublin later this week to examine the find. 

The lake is home to at least one crannóg – an artificial island used as dwellings and defense mechanisms in prehistoric Ireland. Crannóg’s are the oldest dwellings in prehistoric Ireland. 

There are additionally at least seven ringforts surrounding the town of Lisacul. 

Eileen McDonagh, Cathal’s mother, told the Irish Independent that he was supposed to be doing his homework when he made the discovery. 

She said that her son became bored with his schoolwork and went for a walk down to the lake, where he paddled up to his ankles in a pair of wellington boots. 

It was there that he tripped over the long piece of ancient wood and made the fascinating discovery. 

Cathal McDonagh, with mum Eileen, dad Peter McDonagh, Breana McCulloch and Declan Greene, putting the log boat back to where it was first discovered near Lisacul, Co. Roscommon.

Cathal’s father Peter and his two elder siblings Aonghus and Róisin were summoned to help him retrieve the vessel from the lake and the family then reported the find to the Underwater Archaeology Unit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. 

Experts said that the vessel could date back to Ireland’s Neolithic era but that it also could be from the medieval period.

The experts advised the McDonagh family to place the vessel back in the water in order to preserve it. 

Drought Led To Discovery Of Ancient Roman Forts And Roads In Wales

Drought Led To Discovery Of Ancient Roman Forts And Roads In Wales

The draught in Wales led in 2018 to the discovery of old Roman fortresses, roads, and military cantonments in a village in the United Kingdom. The aerial view of the area revealed 200 such places which suggested the ruins of ancient Roman times could be made possible.

The heatwave of 2018 uncovered hundreds of new sites – many Roman – including new details of this fort at Trawscoed, Ceredigion

“Britannia,” a researcher from the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales, quoted a science magazine and reported that the Roman legions had entered the rural areas of Wales.

Experts also revealed the ruins of the marching camps at Monmouthshire in the vicinity of Caerwent.

“The camps are truly interesting, used to stay overnight Romans had built on the maneuvers in hostile territory.” Researcher Toby Driver said the discoveries “turn on the heads everything we know about the Romans.”

The aerial investigator for the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales said the new research published in the journal Britannia showed the “Roman military machine coming to rural Wales”.

In Monmouthshire, the researchers have identified a new “marching camp” at a site near Caerwent.

“The marching camps are really, really interesting. They are the temporary overnight stops that the Romans build on manoeuvres in hostile territory.”

Carrow Hill fort is the first Roman fort found in the Vale of Gwent – with probable links to the Caerleon legionary fortress

The site would have provided defensive positions, camping and kitchens for bread ovens.

“This is when Wales is still a very dangerous place to be for the troops, they are still under attack,” added Dr Driver. The entire area heading into south-east Wales through Usk to Caerleon would have been peppered with similar sites, believe the experts, as the Roman armies fought a 20-year battle to crush resistance amongst Celtic tribes, notably the Silures in southern Wales.

But these sites were “ploughed away pretty quickly” when the fighting was over.

“This is only the third marching camp in south-east Wales that we have discovered. We know there should be more of these around to show how the army was moving in Wales – it shows the big routes they are pushing through to control different parts of Wales,” added Dr Driver.

With conquest came reinforcements, and that meant forts. The aerial photographs confirmed the locations of at least three new fort sites, including the first found in the Vale of Gwent at Carrow Hill, west of the Roman town of Caerwent and the Roman legionary fortress at Caerleon.

The crop images show it had inner and outer defensive structure and a “killing zone” in between, perfectly ranged for a javelin throw.

The photographs found a long suspected fort site at Aberllynfi near Hay-on-Wye is indeed Roman, even though part of it has long since been built over by housing.

While further investigations at Pen y Gaer in Powys, near Tretower and Crickhowell, have revealed new detailed structures previously undiscovered – despite digs and surveys on the ground. The researchers, who included Roman experts Jeffrey Davies and Barry Burnham, have also been able to identify details of new villas – including at St Arvans, north of Chepstow in Monmouthshire.

Wyncliff villa north of Chepstow was originally thought to be a temple – but this new image confirms it was a Roman villa.

The location had previously been considered a temple site, after part of a bronze statue of Mars was unearthed. But the heatwave images make it clear this was a Roman villa of some note, with its room structure clearly visible. Perhaps the most startling discoveries have been pieces of unknown Roman road.

One shows how the Roman armies pushed their way south from Carmarthen to Kidwelly, reinforcing speculation the town was home to a Roman fort – even if it may now be covered by Kidwelly Castle.

“It’s the scale of the control of Wales which is exciting to see,” said Dr Driver.

“These big Roman roads striking through the landscape – straight as arrows through the landscape.”

After the driest May on record, Dr Driver hopes he will be able to get back in the air as soon as coronavirus lockdown measures allow, to see if he and his teams can find more pieces of the Roman puzzle in Wales.

“There are still huge gaps. We’re still missing a Roman fort at Bangor, we’ve got the roads, we’ve got the milestones – but no Roman fort. We’re still missing a Roman fort near St Asaph, and near Lampeter, in west Wales, we should have one as well,” he said.

“Although we had loads come out in 2018, we’ve got this big gaps in Roman Wales that we know should have military installations – but you’ve got to get out in dry weather to find them.”

3,500-Year-Old Sunken Town Discovered In Croatia

3,500-Year-Old Sunken Town Discovered In Croatia

Mato Ilkić and Mate Parica from the Department of Archeology at the University of Zadar recently discovered a much older port in the western part of the Novigrad Sea, 22 kilometers northeast of Zadar.

Zadarski List writes that numerous ports from the Roman Empire have long been located and partly explored on the northern Dalmatian Coast.

They are distributed along the main maritime route of the time, which, among other things, includes navigation on the Vir Sea, Zadar, and Pašman Channels. But Mato Ilkić and Mate Parica from the Department of Archeology at the University of Zadar recently discovered a much older port.

Divers explore the settlement believed to dating back at least 3500 years 

It is located on a hitherto unknown route that was very navigable in the period before the Roman conquests.

The archeological remains of this port lay in the western part of the Novigrad Sea, opposite Posedarje, 22 kilometers northeast of Zadar. It was built by the Liburnians, and, for now, it is their only port for which the exact location is known.

“Examining aerial photographs, we noticed that along the west coast of the Novigrad Sea not far from Posedarje, and directly next to the huge prehistoric hillfort Budim, there are some dark rectilinear outlines.

We went there to dive and on the seabed, we immediately spotted a structure pointing to an ancient harbor whose archaeological remains are approximately 3 meters deep. For now, it is the oldest port in Liburnia, and perhaps in the entire Croatian part of the Adriatic.

This is evidenced by the radiocarbon analysis of wood from the port structure, a sample of which we sent to Miami for testing. We recently got a result from Florida that made us quite happy, because it indicates an older time than we had assumed. Namely, the so-called C 14 date indicates that the port was built between 371 and 199 BC. Thus, it belongs to the period of the late classical phase and early Hellenism,” Ilkić reveals.

The port is quite large and is not layered with later interventions. It is built partly of large stone blocks and wooden beams. This very demanding and complex construction undertaking at the time could only be carried out by the well-organized and economically very powerful Liburnian community, which was obviously oriented towards maritime and trade, directly or indirectly with very remote overseas regions.

This included North Africa, that is, Carthage, Numidia, and Hellenistic Egypt, from which a great deal of money reached Liburnia through Japodia.

For now, it cannot be argued how the Liburnians and Japodes were enriched, but it is possible to reconstruct the sea routes and land routes that ended up in their hands.

The topography of the finds of numerous and diverse numismatic materials originating from very distant monetary centers suggests that merchant ships sailed into Liburnian waters near Molat. From that island, a route led to the Vir Sea and the Velebit Channel and further through Novsko ždrilo to the Novigrad Sea, where the newly discovered and for now the only Liburnian port from the period before the Roman conquests is located.

The Liburnians developed a trade network that included the Trans-Velebit hinterland. Namely, after the money reached the southern Liburnian coast by sea, its further land flow can be followed even easier. They found their way in the direction of southern Velebit, where they descended to Lika along its edge and over mountain passes.

Here the traffic branched off into two main directions. The northern one led towards the Una river basin and deeper inland towards southwestern Pannonia.

The second traffic route is directed to the northwest and led to the pre-Alpine area. But this trade, in which the Japodes also profited, would not have been possible if the Liburnians had not turned to seafaring, as is now witnessed by their spacious port next to the huge fort of Budim near Posedarje.

It is an extremely important and complex archeological site, which is indicated by the finds of very early amphorae, Liburnian pottery, but also those painted that originated in Italy. In fact, the port near Buda sheds a whole new light on the maritime role of Liburnia.

Archaeologists from the Department of Archeology at the University of Zadar have just begun researching this unique northern Dalmatian underwater site from the pre-Roman period, thanks to donated money from Alan Mandić from Turanj and logistical support from the Municipality of Posedarje.

Their goal, for now, is to get to know the only Liburnian port, and perhaps the oldest on the Croatian coast, as well as possible, and document and protect it for future generations.

The money invested in the research would be returned many times over because by presenting fascinating and valuable archeological remains of the ancient port of Liburnia, the tourist offer could be enriched.

A prehistoric Atlantis in the north sea may have been abandoned after being hit by a 5mt tsunami 8200 years ago

A prehistoric Atlantis in the north sea may have been abandoned after being hit by a 5mt tsunami 8200 years ago

A huge landfall occurred on the Norwegian coast, known as the Storegga Slide just over 8,000 years ago. The event created a catastrophic tsunami, with waves almost half as high as the Statue of Liberty, that battered Britain, and other landmasses. And now the most accurate computer model ever made of the tsunami suggests that it wiped out the remaining inhabitants of a set of the low-lying landmass known as Doggerland off the coast of the UK.

A new model by researchers at Imperial College London has revealed the devastating effects of a tsunami caused by a landslide off the Norwegian coast over 8,000 years ago. It’s believed the event would have devastated an area of low-lying land known as Doggerland that once connected Britain to mainland Europe

The new study of scientists from Imperial College London will be discussed at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna. They explain how devastating the tsunami would have been, using sophisticated computer modelling and paleobathymetry – a background study of underwater depths.

And they conclude it would have spelled disaster for the remaining inhabitants of Doggerland.

Dr. Jon Hill, one of the study’s authors, says to BBC, “the research we did is use advanced computer modelLing to look in the Storegga slide.

‘We’re the first to discover dissymmetry at the time, which no model has done before.

‘So we’re able to quantify what the tsunami looked like at Doggerland – no other study has predicted what the wave would have looked like.’

The huge wave that was created in the Storegga Slide occurred when a large chunk of coastal shelf 180 miles (290 km) long fell into the sea. The slide was a single event 8,200 years ago, creating a wave that travelled across the Norwegian Sea in a few hours.

Fifteen hours later, the wave would have reached Belgium and Holland. Dr Hill said it would have been equivalent to the 2011 Japanese tsunami in its scale.

The landmass once connected Britain with Europe, and is believed to have been inhabited by Mesolithic tribes. Artificats recovered from the North Sea provide evidence as to the land’s habitation. The tsunami is thought to have wiped out the last people to occupy the area, who were by then restricted to an island

Waves at Doggerland would have been five metres high, as opposed to 10 metres in the Japanese tsunami, as the land was so low-lying just a few metres above sea level.

‘It would have been completely inundated by a 5-metre wave,’ Dr Hill explains.

‘If you put a 5-metre wave towards Doggerland it would have been devastated.’ Archaeological evidence for this area is relatively sparse at the moment. So far, we are relying mostly on finds made by fishermen.

But the evidence heavily suggests it was inhabited and, according to Dr Vince Gaffney of  the University of Birmingham who authored the book Europe’s Lost World: The Rediscovery of Doggerland, they would have ‘suffered dramatically.’

‘If we look at what the study tells us they’re talking about waves that are, in Scotland, as much as 40 metres high,’ he says. 

‘The inhabitants of any low-lying areas like Doggerland would have suffered dramatically if hit by something of that size.’ Dr. Gaffney continues, however, that it is hard to know exactly the extent of habitation on Doggerland because it is very inaccessible.

Divers from St Andrews University, searching for Doggerland, the underwater country dubbed ‘Britain’s Atlantis’, in 2012. The underwater area is hard to explore as it is a busy sea lane with murky waters
St Andrews University’s artists’ impression of life in Doggerland. Further research will be a need in order to discern just how many people were living on Doggerland, but it’s unlikely many or any survived the deadly tsunami caused by the Storegga Slide
These young Mesolithic women from Teviec, Brittany, were brutally murdered. As sea levels rose competition for resources may have intensified

Described as ‘Britain’s Atlantis’ it is now located under busy sea lanes in murky water. Thus, according to Dr. Gaffney, ‘we know little about the people who inhabited these areas.’ Dr. Hill says that modelling tsunamis of this type are important for understanding our history.

But they can also provide us with data on what we can expect from similar events in the future. Although he stresses no such event is likely to occur any time soon, the UK is susceptible to such dangers.

‘Part of the research is to find out what would happen as the oceans warm,’ he says.

‘Rising sea levels are an indicator but there’s no correlation between rising sea levels and tsunamis.’ The chances of another event on the scale of the Storegga Slide happening soon is, he says, ‘not likely to happen at all.’ Dr Gaffney adds, though, that these events are known to have occurred throughout history.

‘We sometimes think we’re a safe place to live in the UK,’ he says.

‘But sometimes there are risks even in Britain and that’s worth noting.’

Inside an ancient Polish salt mine that has underground lakes, fully carved chapels, and chandeliers made of salt

Inside an ancient Polish salt mine that has underground lakes, fully carved chapels, and chandeliers made of salt.

This Polish mine has fascinated millions of visitors, from the underground pools to an impressive carved chapel and is made entirely of salt

The Salt Mines of Wieliczka is located in the vicinity of Krakow and are on UNESCO World Heritage List since its construction in the 13th century, it has been explored by 45 million tourists.

Sitting on everyone’s kitchen counter is the kitchen staple so basic it’s borderline boring. And as I write, I’m already thinking of salt more than I have in this past year combined.

But the Wieliczka salt mine, near Krakow, Poland proves that salt can be a masterpiece on its own. The mine was first opened in the 13th century, and today, it’s a part of the First UNESCO World Heritage List.

For a reason! The salt mine, which reaches -1072 ft at its deepest point, features underground lakes, 2,000 chambers, and chapels equipped with enormous chandeliers. And if that wasn’t enough, every little thing is made of salt. The mine is so unreal, it brings to mind a level in Tomb Raider, rather than a place thanks to which I season my dinner.

Tourists visit The Saint Kinga’s Chapel in the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

The history of Wieliczka salt mine dates back to the Middle Ages when it used to be called the Magnum Sal, or the Great Salt. In the 13th century, it was the largest source of salt in the country, which was crucial to the country’s economy. Today, it’s one of the main tourist attractions in Poland.

Daily email contacted Aleksandra Sieradzka from the marketing and communications department at the Wieliczka Salt Mine to find out more about this breathtaking place.

Aleksandra told us that all the 2000 chambers in the mine are carved of salt. “The corridors and even the floor are made of salt.”

There two chapels of St. Kinga and St. Anthony that are both made entirely of salt, including the altars and the statues of saints that were carved by the sculptor miners. “The chandeliers also contain crystal salt—the purest type of salt.”

Salt may seem like a fragile and delicate material, but it has a hardness similar to that of gypsum. “The processing of salt itself is not difficult; however, in order to professionally carve in salt, one needs to have a lot of experience with this material,” explained Aleksandra.

“Every block of salt is different—it differs not only in size or hardness but also in color, which can be used in an interesting way in the act of creation.”

Aleksandra confirmed that, if you’re lucky, you can pop into a party or two at the Mine. “That is true, there are a couple of chambers where you can have a party. One big ballroom (Warszawa Chamber) and a few smaller ones. The Mine is famous for its New Year’s concerts that take place during the first weekend of January.”

We can only imagine how enormous the whole underground structure is because only 2% of it is accessible to tourists. Meanwhile, the salt mine corridors form an actual labyrinth that stretches up to a whopping 498 ft in length. There are 9 levels in total and the lowest one is located at 1072 ft below ground.

But Wieliczka is only the fifth-biggest salt mine out there. Ontario is home to the biggest one in the world, which is located 1800 ft under Lake Huron.

Compass Minerals’ Goderich salt mine is as deep as the CN Tower in Toronto is tall. The second-biggest is Khewra Salt Mines in Pakistan, and the third-place belongs to Prahova Salt Mine in Romania.