Category Archives: EUROPE

6,000-Year-Old Settlement Was home to Europe’s first megalithic monument makers

6,000-Year-Old Settlement Was home to Europe’s first megalithic monument makers

6,000-Year-Old Settlement Was home to Europe’s first megalithic monument makers

Archaeologists in France unearthed the remains of a series of wooden buildings within a defensive enclosure that were built at the same time as the first stone monuments were being erected.

People in west-central France built a variety of megalithic monuments during the Neolithic period, including mound-like barrows and “dolmens” — a type of single-chamber tomb supported by two or more upright megaliths. While these stone monuments are visible and have withstood the test of time, traces of their homes have been more difficult to find — until now.

Now, Dr. Vincent Ard from the French National Center for Scientific Research. and a team of researchers working in the Charente department has identified the first known residential site belonging to some of Europe’s first megalithic builders.

“It has been known for a long time that the oldest European megaliths appeared on the Atlantic coast, but the habitats of their builders remained unknown,” said Dr. Vincent Ard.

Since it was first found during an aerial survey back in 2011, the enclosure at Le Peu, in the commune of Charmé, has been the focus of an intense investigation.

The results of this work, published in the journal Antiquity, revealed a palisade encircling several timber buildings built during the fifth millennium BC.

This makes them the oldest wooden structures in the region and the first residential site contemporary with the Neolithic monument makers. At least three homes were found, each around 13 meters long, clustered together near the top of a small hill enclosed by the palisade.

The structures at Le Peu, the researchers said, represent both the oldest-known wooden structures in the region as well as the first known residential site that existed at the same time that the Neolithic monuments were being built.

To test this, the archaeologists carried out radiocarbon dating that revealed these monuments are contemporary with Le Peu, suggesting the two sites are linked.

While the people of Le Peu may have built monuments to the dead, they also invested a lot of time and effort in protecting the living. Analysis of the paleosol recovered from the site revealed it was located on a promontory bordered by a marsh. These natural defenses were enhanced by a ditch palisade wall that extended around the site.

The entrance had particularly heavy defenses, guarded by two monumental structures. These appear to have been later additions, requiring part of the defensive ditch to be filled in.

“The site reveals the existence of unique monumental architectures, probably defensive. This demonstrates a rise in Neolithic social tensions,” said Dr. Ard.

However, these impressive defenses may have proved insufficient as all the buildings at Le Peu appear to have been burnt down around 4400 BC. However, such destruction helped preserve the site.

As a result, Dr. Ard and the team are hopeful that future studies at Le Peu will continue to provide insight into the lives of people whose only known contributions to human history are memorials. Already, it demonstrates the monumental scale of their residential sites, which was unprecedented in prehistoric Atlantic society.

Monumental Roman complex discovered in France

Monumental Roman complex discovered in France

In the city of Reims in northeastern France, archaeologists have discovered an ancient Roman-era monumental complex dating from the 2nd – 3rd century AD.

The structure consists of two porticoed galleries 65 ft lengthy forming the arms of a U. Greater than 20 rooms occupy the galleries, from corridors to residing areas with chalk flooring and fireplaces. 9 of the rooms had been a part of the traditional baths. 5 of them had a hypocaust underfloor heating system; lots of the pilae stacks (sq. tile piles) that supported the ground are nonetheless in place and in glorious situation.

Within the empty house between the galleries are two rectangular masonry buildings that had been possible a part of backyard. One of many two was a basin or fountain. Two pressurized water pipes had been discovered that stuffed the basin and/or fed the water function.

In the centre, foundation of an ancient basin surrounded by remains of its porticoed gallery, discovered in Reims (Marne), in 2023. An ancient monumental site from the 2nd-3rd centuries was discovered there.

Archaeologists discovered painted plasters adorned with floral motifs. Some of the pigments used, such as a blue similar to “Egyptian blue,” are extremely rare.

This discovery typifies a very simple set. The large number of rooms, their organization, the wealth of the decorations, the two large galleries, the hydraulic network, and the archaeological elements discovered (ceramics, architectural blocks, copper alloy tableware, and so on) allow for two interpretations. These relics could be the domus (house) of a wealthy individual or a spa complex, possibly open to the public, given the monumentality.

The Porte de Mars, the largest remaining Roman triumphal arch from the third century A.D., is just 100 meters (328 feet) away from the monumental complex. One of four imposing gates in the city walls, the arch was named after a nearby Temple of Mars.

Pilettes of the first hypocaust (underfloor heating system) discovered in Reims (Marne), in 2023.

In the third century, this was a very prestigious location, but by the beginning of the fourth, the area had all but been abandoned, and its buildings had been quarried for recycled construction materials.

The construction of Reims’ 4th-century walls may have caused the shift. For the next 1400 years, the neighborhood was used for agriculture before becoming a populated area at the end of the 18th century.

Prehistoric Rock Art Discovered in Western Turkey

Prehistoric Rock Art Discovered in Western Turkey

Prehistoric Rock Art Discovered in Western Turkey

New paintings believed to be from the prehistoric era have come to light during the ongoing studies on Mount Latmos (Beşparmak), home to significant rock paintings from ancient times.

Located in the western province of Aydın, the Latmos region is one of the places that attracts attention with its natural beauties, as it is also on the route of local and foreign tourists who want to explore nature and history.

While studies have been carried out to preserve the region and reveal its historical importance, the rock paintings of Latmos shed light on prehistoric times.

The number of the first known prehistoric rock paintings in Western Anatolia, discovered by German Archaeologist Anneliese Peschlow in 1994, has reached 200, with new paintings found since then.

The main subject of Latmos rock paintings, which have unique features in terms of subject and style, is related to the relationship between men and women, family, spring festivals and wedding ceremonies. In many paintings, decorations and figures resembling weaving patterns are also seen.

The newly discovered painting, which is believed to date back to prehistoric times, was found on a rock and in its cavities during the research conducted by the Ecosystem Conservation and Nature Lovers Association (EKODOSD).

Stating that they applied to the Aydın Cultural Heritage Preservation Board after the new discovery, EKODOSD President Bahattin Sürücü said, “There are human figures and ornamental motifs in the paintings drawn on a rock surface and its natural cavities.

It is seen that a figure drawn in a natural cavity has a different shape from the previous rock paintings. Peschlow, who has been working on prehistoric rock paintings in the Latmos region for years, has studied the newly found paintings. It was reported that the painting with interesting figures was not in Peschlow’s records.”

He said that further examinations will be made on the rock paintings by the Directorate General for Preservation of Natural Heritage.

After the first rock painting was discovered in Söğütözü in 1994, nearly 200 paintings have been so far found, Sürücü said.

“Considering that there are thousands of rock shelters and caves on a wide area among the rugged, stacked rocks of the Latmos Mountains, it is a fact that it is difficult and takes decades to study and detect them.

It is not easy to find rock paintings in the complex structure of the Latmos Mountains, which is almost an open-air museum with its castles, ancient stone roads, monasteries and defensive structures.”

“The newly found rock painting shows once again that many paintings drawn by prehistoric artists on thousands of rocks in the Latmos region are waiting to be discovered. Latmos Mountains are world heritage and should be protected as a whole,” he added.

Hiker found a place of holy worship at an altitude of 2,590 meters in the Swiss Alps

Hiker found a place of holy worship at an altitude of 2,590 meters in the Swiss Alps

Hiker found a place of holy worship at an altitude of 2,590 meters in the Swiss Alps

A trekking enthusiast stumbled upon an ancient Roman coin buried in rubble in a remote area high in the Alps in the Swiss Canton of Bern.

After reporting the finding to the local archeological unit, a whole hoard of ancient artifacts was found buried at the site, which archeologists now believe may have been a place of holy worship—a site to lay offerings to the Roman mountain gods.

Since the hiker’s fortunate discovery, archaeologists have conducted two dig seasons and discovered one hundred additional Roman coins dating from the first to the fifth century A.D.

The oldest is a Tiberian coin from 22 to 30 AD, and the most recent is an Arcadian coin from the eastern empire (r. 395-408 A.D.). A fibula from the first century B.C., 59 Roman shoe hobnails, and a piece of a bronze votive plate in the shape of a leaf were also discovered by the team.

“We do find single Roman coins occasionally in the Alps, but this site is unusual because of the amount of coins and the location,” Regula Gubler, the study’s scientific project manager, told Newsweek.

“More common would be finds—coins, brooches—on mountain passes. This site however, is far from human habitation, today and in Roman times, at 2,590 meters above sea level [nearly 8,500 feet], and definitely not a pass.”

A votive plaque found at the site, which may have been used to worship the Roman mountains Gods.

Gubler said that the site sits on a plateau between the mountain peaks of Ammertenhorn and Wildstrubel, which she described as “pretty impressive.”

The unusual location of the site, as well as the concentrated collection of treasures that had amassed there, led the researchers to believe that this was a place of great religious significance.

“We are only at the beginning of the investigations, but we think it is a holy place, where people went to deposit votive offerings—mainly coins, but also other objects—asking the deities for things or thanking them,” Gubler said. “I guess a kind of pilgrimage.”

One of the Rock crystals that were found in the excavations. Photo: Archaeological Service of the Canton of Bern

The town of Thun, which has several Roman temples, is only a little more than 12 miles away from the site. One of them contains an inscription that mentions female alpine deities, according to archaeologists.

The prevalence of local rock crystals may have been part of the reason the location was seen as sacred.

The researchers will continue to investigate the site in order to learn more about its possible historical significance.

Roman Lead Coffin Unearthed in Northern England

Roman Lead Coffin Unearthed in Northern England

Roman Lead Coffin Unearthed in Northern England
Bones belonging to the high-status woman were discovered in an ancient lead coffin.

Skeletal remains of a Roman aristocrat have been unearthed in a “truly extraordinary” hidden cemetery dating back 1,600 years. Bones belonging to the high-status woman were discovered in an ancient lead coffin during a dig in the town of Garforth, near Leeds.

Archaeologists said the “once in a lifetime” find could help unlock secrets of a period spanning from the fall of the Roman empire in AD400 to the beginnings of the Anglo-Saxon era.

David Hunter, the principal archaeologist with West Yorkshire Joint Services, said: “This has the potential to be a find of massive significance for what we understand about the development of ancient Britain and Yorkshire.”

Unusually for an ancient cemetery, the remains found in Garforth belonged to people from the late Roman and the early Saxon eras. The skeleton of the late Roman aristocratic woman was found alongside the remains of 60 men, women and children from the two periods.

Archaeologists traced the burial traditions of both cultures in the cemetery, the precise location of which is being kept secret.

The find could help unlock secrets of a period spanning from the fall of the Roman empire in AD400 to the beginnings of the Anglo-Saxon era.

Hunter said: “The presence of two communities using the same burial site is highly unusual and whether their use of this graveyard overlapped or not will determine just how significant the find is.

“When seen together the burials indicate the complexity and precariousness of life during what was a dynamic period in Yorkshire’s history. The lead coffin itself is extremely rare, so this has been a truly extraordinary dig.”

Experts will seek to establish precise timeframes for the burials by carbon dating the remains. Chemical tests will be carried out to try to determine how they lived and what they ate, as well as details about their ancestry.

Leeds city council said the discovery was made last spring but could only be revealed now because of the need to keep the site safe while tests were carried out.

Although the exact location remains a secret, the excavation was in part prompted by a discovery nearby of late Roman stone buildings and a small number of Anglo-Saxon-style structures.

Kylie Buxton, the on-site supervisor for the excavations, said it was every archaeologist’s dream to work on such a project, adding: “There is always a chance of finding burials, but to have discovered a cemetery of such significance, at such a time of transition, was quite unbelievable.

“For me, it was a particular honour to excavate the high-status lead coffin burial, but it was a great team effort by everyone involved.”

Early analysis indicates some of those in the cemetery held early Christian beliefs, and Saxons were accompanied by personal possessions such as knives and pottery.

The council said it hoped the coffin would be displayed in an upcoming exhibition at Leeds City Museum exploring death and burial customs from across the world.

17th-Century Coin Hoard Uncovered in Poland

17th-Century Coin Hoard Uncovered in Poland

Archaeologists think the clay jug containing the horde of coins was deliberately buried on a farm in the east of Poland in the second half of the 17th century.

A metal detectorist searching for discarded tractor parts on a Polish farm discovered a completely different type of valuable metal: A spectacular hoard of 17th-century coins buried beneath the soil.

The hoard — a vast stash of about 1,000 copper coins — was found in late February near the small village of Zaniówka in eastern Poland, near the borders with Belarus and Ukraine, by a local man, Michał Łotys.

Łotys was using a new metal detector to find spare parts for his sister’s tractor; and so when the instrument started beeping in one of the farm’s fields, he scraped away a layer of the topsoil. That revealed the coins spilling out of a broken clay “siwak” — a jug in a local style with one handle and a narrow neck.

Using a metal detector to search for buried relics without a permit is illegal in Poland, and so Łotys contacted archaeologists in the nearby city of Lublin, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) southeast of Warsaw, who visited the farm the next day.

Their investigations showed that the location of the hidden hoard was clearly outlined on the surface of the soil, which indicated it had been buried there intentionally, according to a report in the Polish news outlet The First News.

17th-Century Coin Hoard Uncovered in Poland
Treasure hunters estimate the entire horde of about 1,000 copper coins would have been enough at the time to buy two pairs of shoes, or perhaps 20 gallons of beer.

Buried hoard

Dariusz Kopciowski, the director of Lublin’s heritage conservation agency, announced in a Facebook post on March 2 that the hoard has about 1,000 Polish and Lithuanian copper coins minted in the 17th century.

Oxidation after roughly 400 years in the ground means all the copper coins are now colored green; and many have corroded together in layers. But about 115 of the coins are loose, and the entire hoard weighs about 6.6 pounds (3 kilograms), Kopciowski noted.

Investigations show most of the coins were created between 1663 and 1666 in mints in Warsaw; Vilnius in Lithuania; and Brest, which is now in Belarus but was then part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. 

The horde contains about 1,000 small copper coins from the time of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Most of them were minted between 1663 and 1666.
The copper coins are now green from oxidation, and many of them are corroded together in layers. The horde weighs about 6.6 pounds in total.
Copper coins were a popular innovation at the time. They were much cheaper to mint than the existing silver coins of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which were heavily debased and difficult to acquire.

According to the Polish metal detectorist website Zwiadowca Historii, such coins are known as “boratynki” after Tito Livio Burattini, who was the manager of the Kraków mint at that time.

Burattini, an Italian, was a famed inventor and polymath who introduced copper coins to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth because they were much cheaper to make than the existing silver coins of the realm; and because its treasury was devastated after years of war with Sweden, Russia and Cossacks.

The “boratynki” coins were initially popular, although Burattini was later accused of debasing the copper metal they were made of and reaping huge profits. 

For a start, they weren’t very valuable, which meant they could be used in everyday transactions; the entire hoard of 1,000 copper coins from Zaniówka would buy  only “about two pairs of shoes” at the time, although they’re worth more now as historical relics, Zwiadowca Historii reported.

The Zaniówka coin hoard will now be transferred to specialists at a museum in the nearby city of Biała Podlaska for further investigations, Kopciowski said.

Fragments of the broken clay jug and several pieces of fabric from the time were also found at the site, he said in the statement.

Netherlands’s unique treasure finds of medieval gold jewelry and silver coins

Netherlands’s unique treasure finds of medieval gold jewelry and silver coins

Netherlands’s unique treasure finds of medieval gold jewelry and silver coins

The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (the National Museum of Antiquities) in the Netherlands has announced that a unique treasure of 1000-year-old gold jewelry and silver coins has been found and will be public as part of a new exhibition.

The hoard was found in 2021 by a metal detectorist in Hoogwoud (Opmeer municipality in North Holland).

The hoard consists of four decorated gold search earring pendants in the shape of a crescent moon, along with two pieces of gold leaf that fit together, and 39 small silver coins from the medieval period. The coins date from 1200 to 1248, indicating that the hoard was buried around the middle of the 13th century. However, the jewelry, a prized heirloom collection, was already 200 years old when it was buried with the coins.

Lorenzo Ruijter, a Dutch historian and metal detectorist, discovered the hoard in Hoogwoud, in 2021. He informed regional heritage authorities about his discovery. He had to keep his discovery hidden for two years while experts at the National Museum of Antiquities cleaned, conserved, and investigated the hoard before announcing the incredible find.

The most important pieces in the hoard are four earrings from the 11th century. They are large, about two inches wide, and crescent-shaped. Two of the four pendants have intricate filigree decoration. The other two are engraved with decorative scenes.

The search earring pendants are decorated on one side and have fragile suspension brackets, implying that they were most likely not pierced through the ears but rather worn on a hood or a headband.

One of the pendants depicts a man’s head surrounded by sunlight rays, which has been interpreted as a portrait of Sol Invictus, the “Unconquered Sun.”

Sol invictus on gold earring.

The 39 silver coins are small pennies from Holland, Guelders and Cleves, the Diocese of Utrecht, and the German Empire. Textile traces discovered with the coins suggest they were originally buried in a bag or wrapped in cloth.

The most recent of the coins were struck in 1247-8 by William II of Holland when he was elected King of Germany after Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II was excommunicated by Pope Innocent IV.

William died in 1256 in Hoogwoud where the hoard was found.  He and his horse were in the area fighting one of his many wars against the West Frisians when they fell through weak ice into a frozen lake.

His West Frisian adversaries murdered him before the cold lake could finish what it had begun, and buried him beneath the floorboards of a nearby house.

As a result, the hoard has enormous archaeological significance in the history of Holland as a region and the Netherlands as a whole.

The hoard is on display at the museum until mid-June of this year. It will go back on display in October as part of The Year 1000 exhibition.

The World’s oldest and first swords ever discovered

The World’s oldest and first swords ever discovered

The World’s oldest and first swords ever discovered

The 5,000-year-old swords found 43 years ago during the excavations in the old mud-brick palace structure in Malatya Arslantepe Mound are the oldest swords in the world.

Many archaeologists believed that the earliest swords only dated to around 1600 or 1500 BCE before the discovery of a cache of swords at the archaeological site of Arslantepe in Turkey.

The nine swords from the archaeological site of Arslantepe (Melid) attest to the use of this weapon for the first time in the world – at least a millennium before the already-known examples. They date back to the Early Bronze Age (c. 33rd to 31st centuries).

In the 1980s, Marcella Frangipane’s team at Rome University discovered a cache of nine swords and daggers dating all the way back to 3300 BCE. Frangipane declared the swords of Arslantepe the world’s oldest and first swords ever discovered.

They are made of an alloy of arsenic and copper. Three of the swords were exquisitely inlaid with silver. These weapons have a total length of 45 to 60 cm, which points to either a short sword or a long dagger classification.

The first swords of the world.

This region is thought to be the birthplace of the sword as we see these blades begin to appear, made from this new technology and having the elements we think of as identifying a sword. They have a blade, guard, grip, and pommel like shape.

Size wise they would be shorter than we think of today for most swords but in their time, they may well be the length that was achievable with the best technology of the day.

This advancement in metallurgy can be seen in many valuable objects found in high-status graves of the time, and these swords are among them.

There is a lot of debate about how these pieces work. Were they merely status symbols, or could they have served a practical purpose? Swords have been used for both purposes throughout history, and even if they appear unwieldy to our modern standards, they may have worked well enough in the hands of an antagonist in 3000 BCE to ruin your day.

The first swords of the world.

The Aslantepe Mound in Malatya, where the first city-state was established, sheds light on history with its adobe palace, 5,500-year-old temple, swords, and spears. It is located on the western shore of the Euphrates, seven kilometers away from the city center.

Arslantepe Mound, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, was partially damaged after the Feb. 6 twin earthquakes in the country’s southern region.

With no damage to the permanent roof of the museum, the temporary roof suffered partial collapse but it did not cause harm to its archaeological texture.