Category Archives: EUROPE

Thousand-year-old bone skate discovered in Czech Republic

Thousand-year-old bone skate discovered in Czech Republic

Thousand-year-old bone skate discovered in Czech Republic

Archaeologists from the central Moravian city of Přerov, Czech Republic have announced a unique discovery. While carrying out excavations in the center of the town, they found an ice skate made of animal bone dating back some 1,000 years.

In Přerov, a town on the River Bečva, specialists from the Comenius Museum have been conducting rescue excavations in the basement of a home on the Upper Square of the city.

The skate was made of animal bone, likely the metacarpal (shin bone) of a horse. Fragments of pottery found around the blade date it to the 10th or 11th century.

This find, offers a rare glimpse into the ingenuity and daily life of early medieval societies.

Archaeologist Zdeněk Schenk says it was most likely made of horse shin bone: “The object has a specific shape. On one side, it is curved into a tip which has a hole drilled in it and there is another hole at the back. They were used to thread a strap through, which was used to attach the skate to a shoe or to a wooden sledge.”

Unlike their modern counterparts used for recreation, these ancient blades served a more practical purpose, explains Schenk. “People back then wouldn’t have used them for leisure skating,” he clarifies. “Instead, they’d shuffle across frozen surfaces with the aid of sticks, or even attach them to sleds for transporting goods over ice.”

The bone blade is not the first such object found in Přerov. A similar find was made there in 2009 and more such blades have been unearthed over the years in the wider area of the city. Zdeněk Schenk says this is probably due to its location: “The Upper Square sits on a hill overlooking the Bečva River,” he explains. “In those times, settlements clustered along the river’s branches, making winter travel on the frozen water a necessity.”

Schenk emphasizes that Přerov isn’t alone in these discoveries. “Similar ‘ice skates’ made from cattle or horse bones have been found across Europe, particularly in Central and northwestern regions like Scandinavia.

Interestingly, many of these finds date to the 10th century and often appear in Viking settlements.”

The thousand-year-old skate discovered by archaeologists in Přerov will soon be shown to the public. The bone skate will go on display at the Comenius Museum in Přerov Castle.

Unique Gold Ring and Crystal Amulet among 30,000 Medieval Treasures Uncovered in Sweden

Unique Gold Ring and Crystal Amulet among 30,000 Medieval Treasures Uncovered in Sweden

Unique Gold Ring and Crystal Amulet among 30,000 Medieval Treasures Uncovered in Sweden

In the Swedish medieval city of Kalmar, archaeologists from the State Historical Museums unearthed the remains of over 30,000 objects during a two-year project. A gold ring and a crystal amulet with carved figures are two unique finds among the nearly 30,000 objects.

Archaeologists have excavated parts of around 50 medieval plots, a dozen streets, and sections of the old city wall. This project, offers a glimpse into everyday life spanning approximately 400 years, from 1250 to 1650.

Project director of Arkeologerna, lead archaeologist Magnus Stibéus said, “We’ve been able to lift the lid on the city’s medieval past and have had the opportunity to study how people lived, what they ate and drank, and how this changed over time.

Archaeology becomes like a peephole into medieval history, giving us more insight into how life was hundreds of years ago,”.

Remarkable discoveries include a rare glass alsengem and a gold ring that were found in refuse deposits.

The gold ring, adorned with a Christ motif, dates back to the 15th century and is believed to have been worn by a woman due to its petite size. they believe it was lost, given its near-perfect condition. Similar rings have been found in other regions, including Northern Finland, Östergötland, and Uppland.

The amulet fragment, in the image digitally completed to reconstruct its original appearance.

A second standout discovery: an alsengem, also known as a pilgrim’s amulet, with three carved figures. Alsengemmer are small crystal stones found in both religious and secular contexts.

Dating from the 13th to 14th century, it features three intricately carved figures.  The stones are named after the Danish island where they were first discovered. The small glass stone is broken, so it was likely thrown away around 400 years ago, officials said.

Among the finds were numerous cannonballs, musket balls, pistol bullets, swords, and other artifacts from the 1611 Kalmar War, in which the Danes attacked the city. An unusual rune stone was discovered among the ruins.

The excavations have provided a comprehensive view of medieval Kalmar, with remnants of buildings, cellars, streets, latrines, and other everyday items. Magnus Stibéus said: “It is very unusual for such large contiguous areas to be investigated in the middle of a city, and the result exceeds all expectations.”

The ability to simultaneously investigate such extensive parts of the medieval city makes the project unique.

An extraordinary medieval belt loop found near Kamień Pomorski in Poland

An extraordinary medieval belt loop found near Kamień Pomorski in Poland

An extraordinary medieval belt loop found near Kamień Pomorski in Poland

A late medieval belt loop for hanging keys or a bag was found near the town of Kamień Pomorski in the West Pomeranian Voivodeship in northwestern Poland. So far, only 15 artifacts of this type have been discovered in Europe.

The discovery was announced on social media by the Museum of the History of the Kamieńska Land. The director of the museum, archaeologist Grzegorz Kurka, described the find as “extraordinary“.

In German literature, artifacts of this type are called anthropomorphic Gürtelhaken, Figürliche Schlüsselhalter, and Schlüsserhaken. The 56 mm high loop is in very good condition.

The front panel has an anthropomorphic form. The figure’s head is schematically marked. Hands are on hips. Protruding from the hip, they form an arc with holes of 4 mm in diameter.

There are diagonal and horizontal cuts visible on the torso and hips – schematically creating a costume typical of the late Gothic era. Below the costume, there is a vertical hole 13 mm long, and directly below it a hole probably intended for hanging keys or a purse (hole 4 mm in diameter).

These hooks or clamps can be divided into two large groups: (loving) couples of men and women embracing (dancing?) and single men who look at the viewer and, in frequent cases, put their hands on their hips. 

Based on the circumstances of the find and studies of the clothing components, some of which are depicted in much greater detail, they are usually dated to the second half of the 15th century or the first half of the 16th century. In the specialist literature, Nuremberg is usually assumed to be the place of manufacture.

Based on better or completely preserved examples, we know that a screwable axle was attached through the sleeve-like opening running across the bottom of the figures, to which a mostly oval bracket was attached, as is still the case today with some key rings or key rings.

This also led to the interpretation that such hooks were worn (clipped on) to strong leather belts, but could also be removed at any time. Keys, pouches, or small bags made of fabric or leather could be attached to the hanger.

Copperplate engravings and woodcuts from the 15th and 16th centuries show that men and women carried all kinds of things on their belts, including knives, cutlery, and individual spoons.

7,000-Year-Old Canoes Reveal Early Development of Nautical Technology in Mediterranean

7,000-Year-Old Canoes Reveal Early Development of Nautical Technology in Mediterranean

7,000-Year-Old Canoes Reveal Early Development of Nautical Technology in Mediterranean

The discovery of five “technologically sophisticated” canoes in Italy has revealed that  Neolithic people were navigating the Mediterranean more than 7,000 years ago. The canoes date from between 5700 BC and 5100 BC and are the oldest in the region.

In research published in the journal PLOS ONE, archaeologists describe the discovery, at the Neolithic (Late Stone Age) lakeshore village of La Marmotta, about 30 km northwest of central Rome.

The quality and complexity of these prehistoric vessels suggest that several significant advances in sailing occurred during the late Stone Age, paving the way for the spread of the ancient world’s most important civilizations.

The authors note that the spread of Neolithic culture through Europe was chiefly carried out along the shores of the Mediterranean.

“Many of the most important civilisations in Europe originated on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea,” they write. “Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Carthaginians plied that practically enclosed sea to move rapidly along its coasts and between its islands.”

The writers say Neolithic communities occupied the whole Mediterranean between 9,500 and 9,000 years ago. They reached the Atlantic coast of Portugal by about 5400 BCE.

“It is clear that the Mediterranean Sea must have often been used for travel, as boats allowed rapid movements of population, contacts and exchange of goods,” the authors say.

It’s well known that maritime trade links existed in the Mediterranean during the Neolithic, although until now it was unclear how adept these early mariners were at handling the waves.

Navigating through this uncertainty, the authors of a new study have analyzed five dug-out canoes that were discovered at a 7,000-year-old settlement that now lies at the bottom of an Italian lake.

Canoe Marmotta 1. On display in the Museo delle Civiltà in Rome.

In this study, Juan F. Gibaja and colleagues provide new insights into the history of seafaring technology through analysis of canoes at the Neolithic lakeshore village of La Marmotta, near Rome, Italy.

Excavation at this site has recovered five canoes built from hollowed-out trees (dugout canoes) dating between 5700 and 5100 BC. Analysis of these boats reveals that they are built from four different types of wood, unusual among similar sites, and that they include advanced construction techniques such as transverse reinforcements.

One canoe is also associated with three T-shaped wooden objects, each with a series of holes that were likely used to fasten ropes tied to sails or other nautical elements.

These features, along with previous reconstruction experiments, indicate these were seaworthy vessels, a conclusion supported by the presence at the site of stone tools linked to nearby islands.

“These canoes are exceptional examples of prehistoric boats whose construction required a detailed understanding of structural design and wood properties in addition to well-organized specialized labor,” the researchers said.

Recent nautical technologies and these canoes share similarities, bolstering the theory that the early Neolithic saw many significant advancements in sailing. The authors suggest there may be more boats preserved near La Marmotta, a potential avenue for future research.

“Direct dating of Neolithic canoes from La Marmotta reveals them to be the oldest in the Mediterranean, offering invaluable insights into Neolithic navigation,” the authors add.

The study was published online in the journal PLoS ONE.

Archaeologists unearth 6,000-year-old two monumental mounds containing wooden grave chambers in Germany

Archaeologists unearth 6,000-year-old two monumental mounds containing wooden grave chambers in Germany

Archaeologists from the State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt (LDA) have uncovered a significant Neolithic burial landscape on the Eulenberg near Magdeburg, Germany, during an excavation that was spurred by impending construction activities by US chip manufacturer Intel.

200 meters separated the two roughly 6,000-year-old monumental mounds that contained several burials each and were made of wood. For an extended period, the landscape undoubtedly continued to be significant to prehistoric people.

Around 1000 years later, the corridor in between the mounds was used as a processional route where cattle were sacrificed and people buried.

A small hill known as Eulenberg is partially included in the 300-hectare large industrial park.

Excavations have revealed two mounds from the Baalberge Group (4100–3600 BC), a late Neolithic culture that inhabited Central Germany and Bohemia.

These two mounds contained wooden grave chambers containing multiple burials. These chambers are trapezoidal and their length is between 20 and 30 meters.

The corridor in between was probably a procession route around a thousand years later, during the period of the Globular Amphora Culture (3300–2800 BC). Along this path, pairs of young, 2-3-year-old cattle were sacrificed and buried.

In one case, the grave of a 35 to 40-year-old man was dug in front the cattle burials, creating the image of a cart with a driver or a plow pulled by cattle, orchestrations that are already known from other older and contemporary burials.

They symbolize that with the cattle the most important possession, the security of one’s own livelihood, was offered to the gods.

Archaeologists unearth 6,000-year-old two monumental mounds containing wooden grave chambers in Germany
Excavation of two around 5,000-year-old cattle burials. Oliver Dietrich. Photo: State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt

Around 1,000 years later, a palisade ditch that was still 50 cm wide took up the course of the former procession route and deliberately included the larger of the two burial mounds in the approximately 3 hectare large burial landscape. It passed over the cattle burials but did not destroy them.

In addition, several Corded Ware Culture burial mounds (around 2800-2050 BC) with diameters of around 10 m were discovered in around 600 m distance.

The consistency in the ritual use of this part of the Eulenberg is astonishing, and the subsequent analysis of the finds promises even more interesting insights.

The State Office for Monument Protection and Archaeology plans to conclude the excavations by the end of April, paving the way for the construction phase. With the impending construction of semiconductor plants by Intel, efforts to preserve and document the archaeological heritage of the site remain crucial.

A 3,300-year-old tablet found at Büklükale from Hittite Empire describes catastrophic invasion of four cities

A 3,300-year-old tablet found at Büklükale from Hittite Empire describes catastrophic invasion of four cities

A 3,300-year-old tablet found at Büklükale from Hittite Empire describes catastrophic invasion of four cities

Archaeologists have unearthed a 3,300-year-old clay tablet depicting a catastrophic foreign invasion of the Hittite Empire in Büklükale, about 100 km from Turkey’s capital Ankara.

A translation of the tablet’s cuneiform text indicates that the invasion occurred during a Hittite civil war, presumably in an attempt to support one of the fighting factions.

Previously, only broken clay tablets had been found in the excavations at Büklükale, but this one is in almost perfect condition.

Based on the typology and distribution of the collected pottery shards, Büklükale is thought to be a single-period city belonging to the Hittite Empire Period and having a diameter of 500 m.

The palm-size tablet was found in May 2023 by Kimiyoshi Matsumura, an archaeologist at the Japanese Institute of Anatolian Archaeology, amid the Hittite ruins at Büklükale.

The Hittites used the Hurrian language for religious ceremonies, Matsumura told Live Science, and it appears that the tablet is a record of a sacred ritual performed by the Hittite king.

“The find of the Hurrian tablet means that the religious ritual at Büklükale was performed by the Hittite king,” Matsumura told Live Science in an mail. “It indicates that, at the least, the Hittite king came to Büklükale … and performed the ritual.”

According to a translation by Mark Weeden, an associate professor of ancient Middle Eastern languages at University College London, the first six lines of cuneiform text on the tablet say, in the Hittite language, that “four cities, including the capital, Hattusa, are in disaster, ” while the remaining 64 lines are a prayer in the Hurrian language asking for victory.

Büklükale site consists of two archeological areas, namely “Lower City” and “Upper City”.

The Hurrian language, which was spoken from the last centuries of the third millennium BCE until the Hittite empire’s final years (c. 1400–c. 1190 BCE), is now extinct and is not related to either the Indo-European or Semitic languages. Hurrian was originally the language of the region’s Mitanni kingdom, which later became a Hittite vassal state.

The language is still poorly understood, and experts have spent several months trying to learn the inscription’s meaning, Matsumura said.

It turns out, the Hurrian writing is a prayer addressed to Teššob (also spelled Teshub), the Hurrian name of the storm god who was the head of both the Hittite and Hurrian pantheons.

 “It praises the god and his divine ancestors, and it repeatedly mentions communication problems between the gods and humans. The prayer then lists several individuals who seem to have been enemy kings and concludes with a plea for divine advice,” Matsumura said.

The Hittite Empire collapsed in the early 12th century for a variety of reasons, including civil war, climate change, and invaders such as the Sea Peoples, Kaskis, Phrygians, and Mycenaean Greeks pushing the borders of Hatti.

But it seems that the invasion indicated by the tablet has nothing to do with the end of the Hittite Empire. Matsumura said the tablet dates to the reign of the Hittite king Tudhaliya II, between about 1380 to 1370 B.C. — roughly 200 years before the Late Bronze Age collapse.

The tablet “seems to come from a period of civil war which we know about from other [Hittite] texts,” he said. “During this time, the Hittite heartland was invaded from many different directions at once … and many cities were temporarily destroyed.”

Although the Hittite Civil War is known as a period of civil war that destabilized the Hittite Empire in the last decades of its existence, it is understood that this problem has been ongoing since the past.

Cover Photo: The ancient tablet is inscribed with cuneiform text in both the Hittite and Hurrian languages. The Hittite inscription describes the outbreak of war, and the Hurrian inscription is a prayer for victory. Image credit: Kimiyoshi Matsumura, Japanese Institute of Anatolian Archaeology.

Scottish Farmer Discovers 5,000-Year-Old Lost City

Scottish Farmer Discovers 5,000-Year-Old Lost City

Scottish Farmer Discovers 5,000-Year-Old Lost City
Scottish Farmer Discovers 5,000-Year-Old Lost City

One day a farmer found a large stone on the island of Orkney in Scotland that didn’t look like it belonged to the environment.

When the farmer moved over the rock, he had a lifetime surprise. Skara Brae, a city hidden and lost that was about 5,000 years ago, was located underneath the stone.

The farmer thought it was a house at first because it seemed very small to be a city. But the farmer soon realised after showing to people what he had discovered that  it was the lost city after all.

Skara Brae History

Orkney is an island with a very long history. It actually has one of the oldest British settlements to ever exist. Historians believe Skara Brae was an active city more than 5,000 years ago.

If this is true, then that makes Skara Brae older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. Since most of it got covered with sand dunes over the years. Thus it was preserved well for thousands of years.

When it was an active city, probably it had about 50 to 100 people in it. That might not seem like a lot, but it sure is for a city back in those days when the population of people was much less.

Neolithic Lifestyle

The inhabitants of Skara Brae were makers and users of grooved ware, a distinctive style of pottery that had recently appeared in northern Scotland. The houses used earth sheltering, being sunk into the ground.

They were sunk into mounds of pre-existing prehistoric domestic waste known as middens. This provided the houses with stability and also acted as insulation against Orkney’s harsh winter climate.

On average, each house measures 40 square meters (430 sq ft) with a large square room containing a stone hearth used for heating and cooking.

Given the number of homes, it seems likely that no more than fifty people lived in Skara Brae at any given time.

The homes were not just sheltered for the citizens of Skara Brae. The center of each home contained a waterproof basin that could have possibly been used to catch fish for eating.

2,700-year-old Children’s Cemetery unearthed in Turkey’s Tenedos

2,700-year-old Children’s Cemetery unearthed in Turkey’s Tenedos

2,700-year-old Children’s Cemetery unearthed in Turkey’s Tenedos

A 2700-year-old children’s cemetery was discovered during ongoing excavations in the ancient city of Tenedos in Bozcaada,  southeast of the Dardanelles.

Bozcaada (Tenedos) Bozcaada is the modern Turkish name for the legendary island of Tenedos. The name Tenedos refers to the legendary hero Tenes, who ruled the island during the Trojan War.

According to legend, Tenedos was the staging station of the Greek task force under Agamemnon during the Trojan War. It was used by Xerxes as a base during the Persian War.

Discoveries continue in the ongoing excavations in the ancient city of Tenedos under the direction of Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Archeology Department Faculty Member Professor Turan Takaoğlu.

During the 2023 excavations, many child graves were detected in the necropolis area of the city. It was noteworthy that children who died at an early age had different types of burial practices. The children were buried with their grave goods in Pithos tombs, amphora tombs, and stone masonry tombs.

Grave within a grave

The most interesting of the children’s graves was a 6th century BC pithos or cube grave into which a second pithos grave was placed in the 4th century BC.

Six terracotta figurines and a bronze pin in the shape of a horse’s foot were placed inside the later pithos grave.

These statuettes depict two dancers wearing Phrygian headdresses, one of them a woman playing the stringed musical instrument lyre, and the remaining three standing women in Eastern costumes that can be associated with the cult of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine.

Bronze needle.

The figurines were subjected to restoration and conservation procedures by Dr. Çilem Yavşan. After the excavation season, the finds were delivered to the Troy Museum Directorate.

Professor Ömer Can Yıldırım, Vice President of the Excavation, told İHA that excavation works were carried out in Bozcaada Castle and Ancient Necropolis Area in 2023.

Yıldırım said, “Especially in the studies carried out in the Necropolis area, an area previously unknown in the archaeological literature and limited as a burial area for children was detected. Among the graves identified in this area, the structure we defined as a pithos grave showed the feature of a pithos within a pithos and provided the emergence of data that was not previously known in archaeological data.”

“The first burial here was made in the 6th century BC and then, after a period of about 200 years, a second burial was made in the 4th century BC, that is, in the Late Classical Period,” said Professor Yıldırım.

Yıldırım said, “When we look at the general characteristics of the artifacts, the way they are dressed, the goddess motifs are indicative of the beliefs that prevailed in this period and the respect for children buried at a young age related to reaching God.

When we evaluate these artifacts in terms of history, the stylistic and analogical features of the artifacts show that these artifacts were manufactured approximately 2,700 years ago and placed in the grave of a child who died at a young age.

“We can say that the types of clothing found on the artifacts are more related to the eastern Phrygian culture and the cult of Cybele as well as Dionysus. This feature clearly shows us that this religious ideology was dominant especially in the 4th century BC in the Necropolis of Tenedos.

The typological features reflected by the artifacts provide us with significant data in understanding the cultural characteristics of the Tenedos Necropolis during the Late Classical Period,” he said.