Category Archives: EUROPE

Underwater Stonehenge That Predates the Pyramids Confirmed in Switzerland

Underwater Stonehenge That Predates the Pyramids Confirmed in Switzerland

Archaeologists studying Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne have unearthed the remnants of a submerged Bronze Age village, suggesting people occupied the Lake Lucerne area 2,000 years earlier than previously thought.

As Swissinfo.ch reports, the new finds suggest that the area around the lake was settled 2,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Though researchers have long searched for proof of early habitation in the Lucerne region, a thick layer of mud had obscured traces of the village until recently.

As Per a statement from the local government, the construction of a pipeline at Lake Lucerne offered underwater archaeologists the chance to examine the lakebed up close.

The first dive took place in December 2019; between March 2020 and February 2021, reports Swissinfo.ch, the team recovered about 30 wooden poles and 5 ceramic fragments at depths of roughly 10 to 13 feet.

A piece of Poplar wood retrieved by the divers which may have been used as part of the construction or excavation of the rocks.

“These new finds from the Lucerne lake basin confirm that people settled here as early as 3,000 years ago,” says the statement, per Google Translate. “[W]ith this evidence, the city of Lucerne suddenly becomes around 2,000 years older than has been previously proven.”

Experts used radiocarbon analysis to date the artefacts to about 1000 B.C. when the lake level was more than 16 feet lower than it is today, writes Garry Shaw for the Art Newspaper.

According to the statement, these conditions “formed an ideal, easily accessible settlement area” around the lake basin.

The Archaeology Office of the Swiss Canton of Thurgau described the findings as ‘sensational’ after carrying out extensive excavations on the lake bed.

The team identified the wooden sticks found at the site as supports used in pile dwellings, or prehistoric coastal houses that stood on stilts. Dwellings of this kind were common in and around the Alps between 5000 and 500 B.C., notes Unesco, and can provide researchers with useful insights into Europe’s Neolithic period and Bronze Age.

A diver inspecting the underwater site

“The wood is very soft on the outside and hard on the inside,” archaeologist Andreas Mäder tells Swiss Radio and Television (SRF), per Google Translate. “Something like that is typical of prehistoric piles.”

For now, the scholars’ research is limited to the trench surrounding the underwater pipeline. Traces of other submerged settlements are likely hidden nearby, but the team will need additional funding to investigate the area further.

As Heritage Daily reports, Lake Lucerne is a 44-square-mile body of water that reaches depths of up to 1,424 feet. Per a second government statement, the city of Lucerne itself was established 800 years ago.

Written records indicate that humans had settled in the area by the eighth century A.D., but until now, archaeological evidence of earlier habitation was scant.

Lake Lucerne’s water level rose significantly in the millennia following the submerged village’s peak, with a weather-driven increase in rubble and debris buildup exacerbated by medieval residents’ construction of watermills and other buildings. The lake likely reached its current level during the 15th century, according to the statement.

The archaeologists’ announcement coincides with the tenth anniversary of Unesco adding “Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps” to its World Heritage List. In total, wrote Caroline Bishop for Local Switzerland in 2017, the listing includes 111 sites across Europe, including 56 in Switzerland.

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As Unesco noted in a 2011 statement, “The settlements are a unique group of exceptionally well-preserved and culturally rich archaeological sites, which constitute one of the most important sources for the study of early agrarian societies in the region.”

18th-century graveyard found at the former Caribbean plantation

18th-century graveyard found at the former Caribbean plantation

The Associated Press reports that investigation ahead of a construction project revealed an eighteenth-century cemetery on St. Eustatius, an island in the northeastern Caribbean Sea colonized by the Dutch in 1636. 

An 18th-century burial ground has been discovered at a former sugar plantation on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius, officials said Monday, and archaeologists said it likely contains the remains of slaves and could provide a trove of information on the lives of enslaved people.

Government officials said 48 skeletons had been found at the site so far, most of them males, but also some females and infants.

In this photo provided by St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research, SECAR, the skull of what is believed to be an enslaved man sits in the ground at an excavation in the former Golden Rock plantation west of the international Airport in Oranjestad, on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius, on the Leeward Islands
An archaeologists excavates in the former Golden Rock plantation west of the international Airport in Oranjestad, on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius, on the Leeward Islands

Alexandre Hinton, the director of the St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research, said many more remains were expected to lie in the graves at the former Golden Rock Plantation.

“We are predicting that the number of individuals buried here will surpass the burial site discovered at Newton Plantation on Barbados, where 104 enslaved Africans were excavated. This is one of the largest sites of its kind ever discovered in the Caribbean,” she said.

Authorities said the site was found while archaeologists checked an area needed for the expansion of an airport.

“We knew the potential for archaeological discoveries in this area was high, but this cemetery exceeds all expectations,” Hinton said.

Given the location near the former plantation, Hinton said the graves most likely contain the remains of enslaved people.

“Initial analysis indicates that these are people of African descent,” she said. “To date, we have found two individuals with the dental modification that is a West African custom. Typically plantation owners did not allow enslaved persons to do this. These individuals are thus most likely first-generation enslaved people who were shipped to St. Eustatius.”

The majority of the burials contain remnants of coffins, coffin nails and objects that were buried with the deceased, such as several intact tobacco pipes, beads and ceramic plates. A coin from 1737 depicting King George II of England was found resting on a coffin lid.

An archaeologist shows a coin found on top of the remains of an enslaved man, dated 1737, at the former Golden Rock plantation west of the international Airport in Oranjestad, on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius, on the Leeward Islands

Experts at several universities around the world will analyze the remains to learn more about the lives of the buried individuals.

Hinton said Leiden University in the Netherlands will conduct “stable isotope analysis” to determine the peoples’ diets as well as whether they were born on the island. Harvard will do the DNA analysis to find where the people came from, and England’s Northumbria University will do protein studies to discover what diseases they might have suffered.

One of the most important outcomes of the research will be a more thorough understanding of the lives of slaves in the Caribbean.

Most of what is known about their lives come from the writings of people in power, such as colonial administrators and plantation owners, sources that can be biased or incomplete.

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St. Eustatius, which lies in the northeastern part of the Caribbean, was colonized by the Dutch in 1636 and became an important transit port for the regional trade in sugar and slaves from West Africa

Iron Age and Roman Skeletons Discovered on Alderney

Iron Age and Roman Skeletons Discovered on Alderney

A Cemetery used for centuries has started giving up its secrets, after radiocarbon dating on some of the skeletons came back showing the graves were from the Iron Age and Roman eras.

States archaeologist Phil de Jersey, in the straw hat, examines one of the Alderney skeletons.

States archaeologist Phil de Jersey said the site on Longis Common in Alderney was one of the most exciting archaeological sites in the Channel Islands because the two metres of sand over the graves has helped preserve the bones and protect the site from being disturbed.

In 2017 the laying of an electricity cable on Rue des Mielles, near Longis Bay, uncovered human bones. It led to exploration by the Guernsey Museum and the Alderney Society.

Archaeologists already knew that Longis was a Roman burial ground, in 2017 they found human remains, headstones, and tombs from the Roman period.

Radiocarbon dating for eight of the bones has now been carried out – five from the service trench along the Rue des Mielles and three from the excavation of a paddock field.

They date from about 750BC up to 238AD.

Dr de Jersey said they had expected the bones to be from the late Iron Age, based on the pottery finds, but the surprise was the wide timespan covered.

‘It does imply that the site was used for a long time – hundreds of years,’ he said.

A settlement from around the same era was excavated up the hill from the site in the 1970s and Dr de Jersey said the inhabitants possibly lived on the hill and buried their dead at its foot.

Among the bone finds was a human female, who was likely to be from between 590 and 380BC. The iron and bronze torc around her neck corresponds well with these dates.

Another adult female was also found, but she was likely to be from between 170BC and AD90. The pot buried at her head is characteristically late Iron Age, which fits in with the range of second century BC and the turn of the millennium.

Dr de Jersey said the date range was very wide and indicated that the burials were over a much larger area than they had expected. He also noted that there was likely to be a lot more to find.

‘It’s all been protected by two metres of sand and it’s never been developed. The sand is great for preserving and the bones were in very good condition for their age.’

He would be interested to carry out a large scale excavation, but the Guernsey archaeology department has a very limited budget and the area presents challenges. The sand that so well preserves the bones makes digging down two metres very difficult because the sides of the trenches are hard to stabilise, meaning large pits have to be dug.

‘You can’t dig small trenches,’ said Dr de Jersey.

‘So logistically it’s a very challenging site to dig. And we just don’t have the resources.’

However, there is some hope. If a university took on the project it would have students to help with excavating the dig, although travel restrictions due to Covid and the ordinary challenges with getting to Alderney would make it difficult.

An individual in the UK has secured a grant to carry out a ground-penetrating radar scan of the common, which would help determine the scale of the cemetery. Dr de Jersey said they were conscious there are also Second World War graves on the common, but the scan would not disturb them.

With the current travel restrictions, it is not clear when this can take place. Dr de Jersey said when they finally dig the site, it was important to do it right.

‘I would rather not dig it than dig it badly,’ he said.

‘It can only ever be dug once, as digging is very destructive, so we need to make sure we do a good job of it.’

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Fortunately, there is time to ensure it is done right.

‘It’s not threatened,’ he said.

‘It’s about as safe as it can be. So if we have to wait another 10 years, it will not make a difference.’

Somersham headless bodies were victims of Roman executions

Somersham headless bodies were victims of Roman executions

“ an “exceptionally high’ number which experts think were the result of judicial executions.

Archaeologists believe a group of beheaded bodies discovered at a burial site were likely victims of Roman military executions. A military supply farm in Somersham, Cambridgeshire, was discovered with an “unusually significant” number of beheaded remains from the third century.

Several were on their knees when they arrived. been struck from behind with a sword.

Archaeologist Isabel Lisboa said 33% of those found were executed, compared to 6% in most British Roman cemeteries.

Somersham headless bodies were victims of Roman executions

Three cemeteries were excavated revealing 52 graves, of which 17 were beheaded.

At least one of those executed – one more woman found face down – application the ears were tortured just before death or mutilated afterwards.

Their heads were found placed at their feet or at the bottom of their legs.

Dr Lisboa, of Archaeologica, said they dated back to a time of increasing instability forrl ‘Roman Empire, when the legal penalties became more severe.

“The number of capital crimes doubled in the 3rd Century and quadrupled in the 4th century, ” she says.

“As it was part of the Roman army, directly or indirectly, the severity of punishments and the application of Roman law would have been more severe in the settlements of Somersham,” he said.

The colony is believed to have supplied the Roman army, being part of a larger network of military farms at Camp Ground and Langdale Hale.

A “lack of genetic relationships ” between the bodies suggests that they were either in military service or in slavery.

At least two of those found were born in Scotland or Ireland, and one in the Alps.

Dr Lisboa said that “Knobb ‘s Farm has an unusually high proportion of beheaded bodies – 33% of those found – compared to at cemeteries locally and throughout Roman Britain. “

Elsewhere, decapitated bodies account for between 2.5% and 6% of burials.

The unit University of Cambridge Archeology Institute excavated the Knobb farm between 2001 and 2010, before gravel mining by Tarmac Trading.

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Analysis of the finds has just been published.

legend of the ‘image Most of those found were buried in separate graves with many in poor condition and some reduced to sand shadows

Prehistoric animal carvings found for the first time in Scotland

Prehistoric animal carvings found for the first time in Scotland

Prehistoric animal carvings thought to be thousands of years old have been found for the first time in Scotland.

Prehistoric animal carvings found for the first time in Scotland
Historic Environment Scotland has said there are deer carvings visible on this rock

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said the carvings – thought to be between 4,000 and 5,000 years old – were discovered inside Dunchraigaig Cairn in Kilmartin Glen, Argyll.

They are thought to date to the Neolithic or Early Bronze Age and include images of deer. Hamish Fenton, who has an archaeology background, found them by chance.

Kilmartin Glen is viewed as one of the most important concentrations of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains in mainland Scotland.

Valuable as sources of meat, hides, and with bones and antlers used for a variety of tools, HES said deer would have been very important to local communities at the time.

Historic Environment Scotland has created a graphic to show where the animals can be seen on the rock
Two stags can be seen with large antlers

Dr Tertia Barnett, the principal investigator for Scotland’s Rock Art Project at HES, said: “It was previously thought that prehistoric animal carvings of this date didn’t exist in Scotland, although they are known in parts of Europe.

“So it is very exciting that they have now been discovered here for the first time in the historic Kilmartin Glen.

“This extremely rare discovery completely changes the assumption that prehistoric rock art in Britain was mainly geometric and non-figurative.”

Dr Barnett said there were a few other prehistoric carvings of deer in the UK, but the only others created in the Early Bronze Age were “very schematic”.

“It is remarkable that these carvings in Dunchraigaig Cairn show such great anatomical detail and there is no doubt about which animal species they represent.”

Mr Fenton said he had been passing the cairn at dusk when he noticed the burial chamber in the side of the cairn and decided to slide inside with a torch.

“As I shone the torch around, I noticed a pattern on the underside of the roof slab which didn’t appear to be natural markings in the rock.,” he said.

“As I shone the light around further, I could see that I was looking at a deer stag upside down, and as I continued looking around, more animals appeared on the rock.”

He said the discovery had been completely unexpected.

“To me, discoveries like this are the real treasure of archaeology, helping to reshape our understanding of the past,” he added.

The cairn is currently closed while HES carries out further evaluation and puts measures in place to protect the carvings.

Archaeologists Uncover Evidence of Ancient, Indiscriminate Mass Murder

Why were dozens of people butchered 6,200 years ago and buried in a Neolithic death pit?

According to a fresh examination of the bones, 41 individuals were slaughtered and buried in a mass grave around 6,200 years ago in what is now Croatia, and members of their own community may have murdered them.

Adult men and women were among the dead, but ages in the group ranged from 2 years old to 50 years old, and about half of the skeletons belonged to children. Many of the killing blows were strikes to the skull that landed from behind, and there were no marks on the arm bones that indicated the victims tried to defend themselves from their attackers, scientists reported in a new study. 

Genetic analysis showed that about 70% of the deceased were not closely related to other victims, but all shared common ancestry. Researchers suspect that the massacre may have been prompted by a sudden population boom or shift in climate conditions that depleted resources and led to indiscriminately mass murder.

The grave was discovered in 2007, when a man who lived in a small village in the hills of Potočani, Croatia, was digging a foundation for a garage, and heavy rains exposed a pit holding dozens of skeletons. Archaeologists with the University of Zagreb happened to be conducting a survey nearby, and they were able to start investigating the mass grave on the day it was discovered, said Mario Novak, lead author of the new study and head of the Laboratory for Evolutionary Anthropology and Bioarchaeology at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Zagreb, Croatia.

The pit is small, measuring about 6.5 feet (2 meters) in diameter and 3 feet (1 m) deep, and at least 41 bodies had been unceremoniously dumped there. At first, the archaeologists thought that the remains were modern, either from World War II or the Croatian War of Independence in the 1990s, Novak told Live Science.

But there were no contemporary objects in the pit — just fragments of pottery that looked to be prehistoric. And when researchers inspected the victims’ teeth, they found no dental fillings. Radiocarbon dating of bones, soil and pottery fragments confirmed the age of the burial, dating it to around 4200 B.C.

The researchers identified 21 of the victims as children between the ages of 2 years and 17 years old, and 20 as adults between 18 years and 50 years old; 21 of the dead were male and 20 were female.

The Potočani mass burial, with the upper layers of the pit showing numerous commingled skeletons.

“Just random killing”

But how did they end up buried together? For the new study, Novak and his colleagues sampled DNA from remains and analyzed the bones of 38 individuals. When the researchers inspected the bodies, they found that most had at least one traumatic injury at the back of the skull, and some skulls had as many as four punctures.

Mass graves in medieval Europe frequently contained people of all ages and sexes who succumbed to the Black Death, but the victims in the Potočani pit died by violence, not of infectious disease, Novak explained. 

“The only plausible scenario was a massacre,” he said.

Distribution of men and women, and of adults and children, were roughly equal, and there were no wounds to their limbs or faces, so they likely weren’t killed in a skirmish during combat. It is unknown if the victims were restrained or otherwise incapable of defending themselves — “if someone attacks you with a club or a sword, you reflexively raise up your forearm to protect the head,” which would have left at least some remains with cut marks on the arm bones, Novak said. “But we didn’t see any facial injuries, and no defensive injuries whatsoever.”

Three penetrating injuries on the right side of the skull of a young adult female from Potočani.

Genetic data showed that only 11 of the victims were close relatives, so the massacre wasn’t targeting a specific family group. Neither did it look like a planned discriminatory killing, in which foes tended to murder older men while taking women captive. 

“In this case, it was just random killing, without any concern for sex and age,” Novak said.

A Neolithic death pit that was recently described in Spain also held a jumble of skeletons — male and female, young and old. DNA showed that the victims were recent arrivals to the region, so they may have been slaughtered by locals protecting their territory, Live Science previously reported. But genetic evidence from the site in Potočani indicated that even though most of the dead weren’t closely related, they shared common ancestry. This means that they weren’t newcomers; rather, they came from a local population that was homogenous and stable, “so we can exclude that this massacre was associated with the influx of new immigrants,” Novak said.

The most likely explanation is one that archaeologists and climatologists have suggested for other ancient massacre sites in Germany and Austria dating to about 5,000 years ago, in which adults and children were also killed indiscriminately and thrown into shallow mass graves. In those scenarios, prolonged climate change that caused flooding or droughts — perhaps combined with an unexpected population boom — could have led to squabbles over precious resources. 

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And in Potočani, one of those struggles turned deadly.

“By studying such ancient massacres, we might try to get a glimpse into the psychology of these people, and maybe try to prevent similar events today,” Novak said. “We have evidence of ancient massacres going back to 10,000 years ago, at least. Today, we also have modern massacres — the only thing that’s changed is we now have more efficient means and weapons to do such things. But I don’t think human nature or human psychology has changed much.”

3,800-Year-Old Gold Ornament Unearthed in Germany

3,800-Year-Old Gold Ornament Unearthed in Germany

Live Science reports that a gold artefact thought to have been worn as a hair ornament has been found in a woman’s grave in southwestern Germany. 

3,800-Year-Old Gold Ornament Unearthed in Germany
This gold artifact, which may have been used as a hair ornament, was found buried with a woman who died around 3,800 years ago

Archaeologists have uncovered the 3,800-year-old burial of a woman who was around 20 years old when she died in what is now Tübingen, Germany. Inside her tomb, archaeologists found just one grave good — a spiral gold wire that may have been used as a hair ornament. 

It’s considered the oldest gold artefact found in southwest Germany. “The gold contains about 20% silver, less than 2% copper, and has traces of platinum and tin.

This composition points to a natural gold alloy typical of gold washed from rivers,” a chemical composition that suggests it came from the Carnon River area in Cornwall, England, the researchers said in a statement. 

“Precious metal finds from this period are very rare in southwestern Germany,” the researchers said in the statement.

“The gold finds from the Tübingen district [is] evidence that western cultural groups [such as from Britain and France] gained increasing influence over central Europe in the first half of the second millennium [B.C.],” researchers said. 

The woman was buried in a fetal position facing south, not far from a prehistoric hilltop settlement where other graves have been found. 

The researchers found no evidence of any injuries or disease, so they have no idea what she died from, Raiko Krauss, a professor in the Institute of Prehistory and Medieval Archaeology at the University of Tübingen, told Live Science.

Krauss and Jörg Bofinger, a conservator with the Baden-Württemberg State Office for Cultural Heritage Management, led the excavation of the grave. 

The fact that the artefact is made of gold suggests that the woman may have had a high social status, the researchers said.

They ran radiocarbon dating on the woman’s remains, finding she died sometime between 1850 B.C. and 1700 B.C.

At that time, writing had not yet spread to southwest Germany so there are no written records that could help to identify who she might have been. 

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The grave was excavated in autumn 2020 and the team’s findings were published May 21 in the journal Praehistorische Zeitschrift

2,000-Year-Old Intact Tomb Discovered in Malta

2,000-Year-Old Intact Tomb Discovered in Malta

A Punic tomb dating back over two thousand years was discovered during works carried out by the Water Services Corporation (WSC) in Żabbar

2,000-Year-Old Intact Tomb Discovered in Malta
The Punic remains were found in Zejtun

The tomb, which was still sealed, was opened, revealing a number of urns containing the cremated remains of human bones.

Given the site’s archaeological sensitivity, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage requested that an archaeologist accompany the WSC crew in case any ancient remains are discovered. 

In a statement, WSC said the first indications show that the burial site includes the remains of an adult and a child.

Moreover, an amphora, two urns, an oil lamp, a glass perfume bottle and other pottery vessels typical of the Punic period were also found. 

The burial rite was altered through the Punic and Roman times. Sometimes the bodies were burnt, and other times they were buried intact in the grave.

Cremation necessitated a variety of resources, including wood to burn the body and the presence of a person throughout the whole process of cremation which took several hours. 

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Currently, the material is being removed from the tomb and transported to a laboratory, where the pottery and bones are being consolidated, cleaned, and analyzed.