Category Archives: EUROPE

Teenager’s Bones Recovered from Scottish Cave

Archaeologists find teenager’s bones in ‘Massacre Cave’ where up to 400 members of Scottish MacDonald clan were wiped out in 16th Century feud with rival MacLeods

Around 400 members of the MacDonald clan were believed to have been suffocated in the cave (pictured) in 1577 after the MacLeods lit a fire outside the small entrance, filling the cave with smoke
Around 400 members of the MacDonald clan were believed to have been suffocated in the cave (pictured) in 1577 after the MacLeods lit a fire outside the small entrance, filling the cave with smoke

Archaeologists have confirmed that bones found at Massacre Cave on Eigg are those of a teenager.

Tourists discovered in the cave about 50 bones, the scene of last year’s mass killing of Macdonald clan members in the late 16th century. The bones dated between 1430 and 1620 were suggested by initial tests, potentially placing them at the time of the massacre that wiped out almost the entire population of the island.

Dr. Kirsty Owen, senior archaeology manager at Historic Environment Scotland, said further analysis has now confirmed the bones belonged to a single skeleton of an adolescent aged under 16.

It has not been possible to determine their sex or stature, Dr. Owen added.

Further tests are to be carried out at Bradford University to shed more light on the diet and lifestyle of the person whose remains have been found.

Results of a post-excavation analysis carried out at the cave are now being finalized with further radio-carbon dates from materials due soon.HES plans to return the remains to Eigg once all investigations have been completed.

Dr. Owen added: “When the post-excavation analysis has been completed we will discuss what happens next with the community on Eigg. The decision will be made jointly with them.”

Police were called to the cave, also known as Francis Cave, last October following the discovery of the remains.No proactive searches have been made for further remain given the cave is now treated as a war grave.

The massacre on the island occurred around 1577, Up to 400 Macdonalds is said to have been killed by their Macleod rivals in one of Scotland’s most chilling episodes of clan warfare.

The feud between the two clans is thought to have wiped out almost the entire population of the island. Pictured above, a drawing of feuding clans in the 1600s.

According to accounts, the murders were carried out after 3 young Macleod men were expelled from Eigg and tied up on their boats after seemingly harassing a number of local girls.

After the men returned to the Macleod seat of power at Dunvegan on Skye, retaliation was planned with the clan organising a trip to EiggThe Macdonalds, aware of the approaching Macleods, hid in a large cave, now known as Massacre Cave, in the south of the island for some time.

The Macleods then lit a large fire of turf and ferns at the entrance of the cave with the smoke suffocating those insides. Only one family managed to escape, it is said.

Archaeologists at Bradford University now hope to find out more about the diet and lifestyle of occupants of the island at the time of the massacre before the bones are returned

Oldest Pictish Fort Uncovered in Scotland

Oldest Pictish Fort Uncovered in Scotland

Archaeologists working at the site of Scotland’s largest Pictish fort have made an “incredible” discovery after unearthing part of the power center’s defensive wall.

The discovery has been made at Burghead in Moray, the largest known fort of its kind in northern Britain which is believed to have been occupied by the elite of Pictish society more than 1,000 years ago.

The stretch of defensive wall discovered by archaeologists at the site in Burghead
The stretch of defensive wall discovered by archaeologists at the site in Burghead

Around 10 feet of rampart wall has been unearthed with preserved pieces of timber lacing, which strengthens the structure, also found. It is now known that the wall dates to the 8th Century – putting it right at the heart of the Pictish period.

Dr. Gordon Noble, head of archaeology at Aberdeen University, who is leading the work at Burghead said it was an “incredible” find. He added: “What a sight to see the rampart revealed for the first time in over 1000 years.“It’s very impressive.

Probably one of the best-preserved ramparts of this type.“It really reinforces the huge investment in resources that was undertaken to construct the fort at Burghead.

The timber lacing is one of the best preserved in Europe.“Unfortunately, it is also under huge threat from coastal erosion with meters lost to the sea in the last few decades.

The Wallface now stands around a meter from an active erosion face.“Historic Environment Scotland is providing funding to help record as much as we can before the erosion gets worse.”

It is believed the site at Burghead may been one of the most important elite settlements of the Kingdom of Fortriu which was the Pictish overkingship from the 7th century onwards.

Dr. Noble, who has led excavations at Burghead since 2015, said the picture of life at the fort and village was “getting clearer” but that a lot of work still needed to be done.“We now know a little about the architecture of the buildings inside, but not how many there were and need to know more about the phasing of the site,” he added.

The stretch of the wall now unearthed at Burghead contains several beam slots that supported the wooden structure of the fort.Dr. Noble said “abundant charcoal” had been recovered during the excavation indicating that the fort was destroyed by fire.

It has long been thought the fort was razed to the ground around the time Vikings were launching raids along the Moray coast. However, the act of destruction has actually preserved some of the wooden remains with charcoal deposits helping to date the structure more accurately.

Important finds made at the site include the Burghead Bull carvings and an underground well, both which were found in the 1800sIt was thought that much of the site was destroyed when a new town was built on the site of the fort in the 19th Century but Dr. Noble and colleagues have since found remains of a Pictish longhouse, coins, and pottery.

Archeologists believe Norway find is rare Viking ship burial

Archeologists believe Norway find is rare Viking ship burial

This handout picture released on March 25, 2019 by Vestfold Fylkeskommune shows Funnplass, where a ship's grave probably originated from the Viking Age has been discovered on a plain among the burial mounds in Borreparken in Vestfold, eastern Norway
This handout picture released on March 25, 2019 by Vestfold Fylkeskommune shows Funnplass, where a ship’s grave probably originated from the Viking Age has been discovered on a plain among the burial mounds in Borreparken in Vestfold, eastern Norway

Archeologists believe they have found a rare Viking ship burial site in a region of Norway known for its Viking-era treasures, Norwegian officials said Monday.

Using ground-penetrating radar (GPR), experts found a ship-shaped anomaly near other Viking burial mounds in the Borre Park in Vestfold county, southeast of Oslo.”

The GPR data clearly show the shape of a ship, and we can see weak traces of a circular depression around the vessel.

This could point to the existence of a mound that was later removed,” Terje Gansum, leader of the department for cultural heritage management in Vestfold county, said in a statement.

He said researchers would carry out further investigations to try and assess the size of the preserved find.

There are only seven ship burials dating from the Viking Age (800-1050) in Europe, including three located in Vestfold county.

Another Viking ship burial was believed to have been found in Jellestad in southeastern Norway last year.

During the Viking era, when Norse seafarers raided and traded from their Northern European homelands across wide areas of Europe, high-ranking officials were sometimes buried in a ship on land, along with decorative goods and even oxen or horse remains, then covered with a mound of dirt.”

The discovery of a new Viking ship in Vestfold is a historic event that will attract international attention,” Norwegian Climate and Environment Minister Ola Elvestuen said.

This handout picture released March 25, 2019 by Vestfold Fylkeskommune shows Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment Ola Elvestuen posing at the place where a ship's grave probably originated from the Viking Age has been discovered
This handout picture released March 25, 2019 by Vestfold Fylkeskommune shows Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment Ola Elvestuen posing at the place where a ship’s grave probably originated from the Viking Age has been discovered

Greco-Roman Era Tomb Found in Upper Egypt

Greco-Roman Era Tomb Found in Upper Egypt

A rock-cut tomb dating back to the late Pharaonic Graeco-Roman period has been discovered by Egyptian-Italian archeological mission working in the Aga Khan Mausoleum area in Aswan.

Mostafa Waziri, the general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, explains that the mission found inside the tomb parts of a painted wooden coffin.

Also discovered were fragments of another coffin adorned with a complete text that includes the name of the owner, identified as Tjt, and an invocation to the gods of the First Cataract; Khnum, Satet and Anuket, as well as Hapy, the Nile god.

Ayman Ashmawy, the head of the antiquities ministry’s ancient Egypt  department, told Ahram Online that the tomb consists of a stairway partly flanked by sculpted blocks leading to the funerary chambers.

The entrance was sealed by a stone wall found in its original place over the stairway.

Patrizia Piacentini, the head of the mission, said that the mission also found many amphorae and offering vases, as well as a funerary structure containing 4 mummies and food vessels.

Also found were 2 mummies, likely of a mother and her child, still covered by painted cartonnage.

A round-topped coffin was excavated from the rock floor. In the main room were around 30 mummies, including young children who were deposited in a long lateral niche.“

Leaning against the north wall of the room was an amazing intact stretcher made of palm wood and linen strips, used by the people who deposited the mummies in the tomb,” Piacentini told Ahram Online .

At the entrance of the room were vessels containing bitumen for mummification, white cartonnage ready to be painted and a lamp.

On the right and left sides of the door, many beautiful colored and gilded cartonnages, fragments of funerary masks painted with gold and a well preserved statuette of the Ba-bird, representing the soul of the deceased, still presenting all the details of the decoration have been found.

The mission has mapped around 300 tombs dating from the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD, located in the area surrounding the Mausoleum of the Aga Khan, on the west bank of the Nile in Aswan.

A Massive Roman Villa Has Been Found In Oxfordshire, England

A Massive Roman Villa Has Been Found In Oxfordshire, England

In Oxfordshire, the second largest Roman villa ever found in England, the remains of a huge Roman villa dating back to 99 AD have been discovered.

As part of a four-month excavation project, archeologists excavated the remains of the historic building, which is believed to be larger than the Taj Mahal mausoleum.

The foundation measures 278 feet by 278 feet. The findings so far include coins and boar tusks alongside a sarcophagus that contains the skeletal remains of an unnamed woman.

“Amateur detectorist and historian Keith Westcott discovered the ancient remains beneath a crop in a field near Broughton Castle near Banbury,” according to HiTech.

Westcott, 55, decided to investigate the site after hearing that a local farmer, John Taylor, had plowed his tractor into a large stone in 1963. Taylor said he saw a hole had been made in the stone and when he reached inside, he pulled out a human bone.

Broughton Castle.
Broughton Castle.

This was the woman’s body — experts believe she died in the 3rd century. The land previously belonged to Lord and Lady Saye and Sele, the parents of Martin Fiennes, who now owns the land.

The Daily Mail reports that Martin Fiennes “works as a principal at Oxford Sciences Innovation and is the second cousin of British explorer Ranulph Fiennes and third cousin of actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes.”

According to the Daily Mail, Westcott had a “eureka moment” when he found “a 1,800 year-old tile from a hypocaust system, which was an early form of central heating used in high-status Roman buildings.”

The 85m by 85m (278ft x 278ft) foundations date back to 99 AD and were discovered beneath a crop in a field near Broughton
The 85m by 85m (278ft x 278ft) foundations date back to 99 AD and were discovered beneath a crop in a field near Broughton.

Using X-ray techniques such as magnetometry, the walls, room outlines, ditches, and other infrastructures were revealed. The villa’s accommodation would have included a bath-house with a domed roof, mosaics, a grand dining room, and kitchens.

The largest Roman villa previously found in England is the Fishbourne Palace in West Sussex, which dates back to 75 AD.

Archaeological excavation
Archaeological excavation

The palace at Fishbourne was one of the most noteworthy structures in Roman Britain. Only discovered in the 1960s, the site has been extensively excavated, revealing that it was originally a military site. Lying close to the sea, Fishbourne was ideal as a depot to support Roman campaigns in the area.

Built on four sides around a central garden, the site covered about two hectares, which is the size of two soccer fields. The building itself had about 100 rooms, many with mosaics. The best-known mosaic is the Cupid on a Dolphin. Some of the red stones are made from pieces of red gloss pottery, most likely imported from Gaul.

Roman conquest of Britain.
Roman conquest of Britain.

The Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD, during the reign of Claudius. For the Claudian invasion, an army of 40,000 professional soldiers — half citizen-legionaries, half auxiliaries recruited on the wilder fringes of the empire — were landed in Britain under the command of Aulus Plautius.

Archaeologists debate where they landed. It could have been Richborough in Kent, Chichester in Sussex, or perhaps both. Somewhere, perhaps on the River Medway, they fought a great battle and defeated the Catuvellauni, the tribe that dominated the southeast.

By the middle of 3rd century AD, however, the boom was over, and the focus was defense. Walls were built around the towns, transforming them into fortresses. Inside the complexes, a slow decline began.

Public buildings were boarded up and old mansions crumbled. By about 425 AD at the latest, Britain had ceased to be in any sense Roman. Towns and villas had been abandoned, and barter had replaced the money.

Source: dailymail

Research project of £ 2.1 million to uncover the early medieval history of Rome

£2.1 million research project to uncover Rome’s early medieval history

Archeologists, historians, and other specialists are working together on an international project to examine Rome’s urban history between the 1st and 8th centuries AD.

The £2.1 million (2.4 million euro) project funded by the European Research Council will pioneer a radically new methodology designed to analyse complex urban landscapes, exploring buildings buried up to 10 metres below the modern ground surface.

Its focusses on a ‘forgotten’ quarter of Rome which, while omitted from most tourist itineraries, served as home to emperors and popes for generations.

Between the first and eighth centuries AD, many of the most powerful people on earth lived in and around the Caelian Hill in the south-east of the city.

The project is led by Newcastle University’s Professor Ian Haynes. Drawing together diverse strands of data to visualise the way this area changed over eight centuries, his team will examine in detail the character of its many features, from palaces and the world’s first cathedral, to fortifications, aqueducts and private homes.

Revealing in turn how these related to each other and to prevailing political, military and religious ideas, the project hopes to transform the way major shifts in the chronological, geographical and ideological history of Rome are understood.

Haynes has already directed archaeological investigations in the area around the Caelian Hill with Professor Paolo Liverani of the University of Florence for over 10 years.

He says, “It is a tremendous privilege to be able to take this work forward. This grant not only allows us to develop a new cost-effective methodology applicable to the study of many of the world’s historic cities, delivering vital information to planners, heritage bodies, civil engineers, historians and archaeologists, it also helps us understand better some of the major ideological shifts that formed the world we live in.

“Over the course of this five-year project, we will be looking at the interplay of ideas, architecture, and infrastructure in the Caelian quarter to make the first ever large-scale assessment of the political, military and religious regenerations that emerged in this forgotten quarter of Rome.

This matters because what happened here repeatedly shaped the development of Europe, the Middle East and north Africa.”

The project will involve colleagues from across Newcastle University, alongside the University of Florence, the British School at Rome and the National Research Centre for Italy’s Institute of Science for Cultural Heritage.

Involving extensive archival research, wide-ranging subterranean investigation, the largest geo-radar and laser scanning survey ever conducted in Rome, and using the latest digital 3D techniques, the Rome Transformed project will visualise five major transformations in the political, military and religious ideas that shaped ancient Rome over eight centuries.

Team members include archaeologists, architectural visualizers, botanists, computer scientists, engineers, geographers, geophysicists, historians, hydrologists, and topographers.

Radar Reveals an Ancient Artifacts & Treasure in Scandinavia’s First Viking City

Radar Reveals an Ancient Artifacts & Treasure in Scandinavia’s First Viking City

Archaeologist have been busy excavating beneath the streets of Ribe, the first Viking city ever established in Scandinavia, and have found a treasure trove of ancient artifacts.

Ribe, which can be discovered in west Denmark, is the subject of important new research that is known as the Northern Emporium Project, which is currently being conducted by archaeologistfrom Aarhus University and the Southwest Jutland Museum.

After digging just 10 feet beneath this ancient Viking city, archaeologists found thousands of artifacts such as coins, amulets, beads, bones and even combs. Lyres (ancient string instruments) have also been discovered, with some still having their tuning pegs attached to them, Science Nordic reports.

However, besides the numerous artifacts that have been excavated, archaeologist were also keen to learn more about how the city of Ribe would have originally been created.

After all, none of the people who originally inhabited this site had ever lived in a city before, and the population would have consisted of lyrists, craftsmen, seafarers, innkeepers, and tradesmen.

While archaeologists have known about Ribe for quite some time, excavating this site’s was another matter entirely. Due to high costs and the amount of time required, up until recently, only small sections of this city were investigated.

However, now that the Carlsberg Foundation has joined in, the funding for the project has been taken care of, and archaeologist are using 3D laser surveying techniques in combination with the study of soil chemistry and DNA analysis to learn much more about the first Viking’s city in Scandinavia.

The bead-makers of 8th century Ribe used pieces of glass gathered from old Roman mosaics as their raw material. They didn’t have access to newly manufactured glass. This is one of the many details that tells us about the city’s network. ( Museum of Southwest Jutland )
The bead-makers of 8th century Ribe used pieces of glass gathered from old Roman mosaics as their raw material. They didn’t have access to newly manufactured glass. This is one of the many details that tells us about the city’s network. ( Museum of Southwest Jutland )

Archaeologists found that not long after the creation of Ribe, houses had been built on the site which shows that this city quickly developed its residents, and would have been a largely urban community.

When it comes to ancient cities that existed in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, cities were packed tightly together, yet here in Ribe, the closest city would have easily been 100’s of miles away.

However, archaeologist believe that despite such great distances, the earliest settlers of this Viking city would still have traversed great distances in order to network with others.

It was also determined that as 800 AD is when the Viking era is asserted to have truly started, Ribe would have been part of what is known as the sailing revolutions.

With this new era, archaeologist noted many changes in the artifacts that were found. For instance, craftsmen who made beads originally had quite small workshops that may have only been used for a matter of weeks.

During the height of the Viking’s age, the production of these beads appears to have slowed down immensely, and archaeologist spotted evidence of other imported Middle Eastern beads that would have taken their place.

It was also found that gemstones weren’t that important to residents of Ribe. Gold, on the other hand, certainly was, and it is believed that much of the gold in use during the early days of this city would have been stolen from Roman graves.

With around 330 feet of the 1st Viking city excavated, archaeologists are progressing steadily with their study of Ribe and will continue to publicize their finds in the upcoming years.

Wood and other organic materials are preserved in deep underneath the Danish city of Ribe. For example, this piece of lyre with six tuning pegs, was found in a layer from the first half of the 8th century AD. ( Museum of Southwest Jutland )
Wood and other organic materials are preserved in deep underneath the Danish city of Ribe. For example, this piece of lyre with six tuning pegs, was found in a layer from the first half of the 8th century AD. ( Museum of Southwest Jutland )

Uncovered Viking Funeral Ship In Scotland Contains Treasure Trove Of Ancient Relics

Uncovered Viking Funeral Ship In Scotland Contains Treasure Trove Of Ancient Relics

A boat which for 1,000 years served as the grave of a high-status Viking has revealed some of its secrets, according to the first detailed report of the iconic discovery.

The tomb, originally unearthed in 2011 on the Ardnamurchan peninsula in western Scotland, contained a rich assemblage of grave goods. It represents the first undisturbed Viking boat burial found on the British mainland.

Viking boat burials have been documented in Scandinavian countries, but are fairly rare. They involve using the boat as a coffin for the body. Archaeologists estimate the boat used to bury the deceased dates back to the late 9th or early 10th century, at a time when Vikings were still exploring and trading along the British Isles.

An in-depth investigation, published in the journal Antiquity, has revealed much of the Viking funerary rite involved in the burial at this remote part of Scotland. However, some mystery remains. The ship rotted into the soil long ago, like the bones of the interred individual.

Only two teeth (both molars) remain of the human. The absence of a body which researchers can biologically sex might raise the compelling, albeit remote, possibility that it was a female boat grave.

“The burial is probably that of a man — but as we only have the two teeth surviving, it is impossible to be definitive. So it is possible, but not likely, that this was the burial of a woman,” Oliver Harris, co-director of the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project (ATP) at the University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History, told Seeker.

Some finds recovered from the grave (clockwise from the top left): broad-bladed axe, shield boss, ringed pin and hammer and tongs.
Some finds recovered from the grave (clockwise from the top left): broad-bladed axe, shield boss, ringed pin and hammer and tongs.

The funerary rite began with cutting a boat-shaped depression into a natural mound of small, rounded beach stones. The boat was then inserted and the body was placed inside, surrounded by a variety of artifacts including a sword, an axe, a drinking horn vessel, a shield boss, a ladle, a sickle, and a ringed pin.

“There is nothing female per se in the grave, though of course there are lots of objects — sickle, the ladle, the knife, the ringed pin — that are not male either,” Harris said.

The grave was filled to the top with stones which may have been taken from a nearby Neolithic burial cairn (a human-made pile of stones).”The final artifacts found in the boat, the spear and shield boss, were higher in the burial, deposited as part of the closure of the monument,” the researchers wrote.

The spearhead was deliberately broken before being deposited, indicating some form of ritual associated with the burial process. The archaeologists also recovered 213 of the boat’s rivets. From the outline of the boat impressed into the soil, they established the boat measured 16 feet in length and would have been a small rowing boat, probably accompanying a larger ship.

Isotopic analysis of the teeth suggests the deceased likely grew up in Scandinavia. It also showed that between the age of 3 and 5 the person’s diet switched for about a year from meat to fish, an unusual food supply at that time.”The switch in the diet probably shows there was some shortage of food for a period of time leading people to eat more fish,” Harris said.

Most importantly, the Viking boat burial reveals the growing relationship between Scotland and the Viking world at that time. It brings together multiple geographic connections, as shown by the grave goods.

A whetstone, used to cut and sharpen tools, was made from a rock that is found in Norway, while the bronze ring pin, likely used to fasten a burial cloak or shroud, appears to come from Ireland.”The burial evokes the mundane and the exotic, past and present, as well as local, national and international identities,” the researchers wrote.

According to Colleen Batey, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Glasgow, the grave goods within the find are very significant.”A sword with shield boss, spearhead and ax are a complete weapon set — which is not so common. And the ladle is an exceptional and uncommon find,” she told Seeker. She added that there is nothing in the burial boat which would support the identification of the interred individual being a female.

However, Viking female boat burials have been excavated in the past. Batey has just published details about a boat grave from Shetland, in the Scottish Islands, which may well have been for a female, or at least one of the occupants may have been a woman, buried with her oval brooch.

One of the most famous Viking ship burials was excavated in 1945 in the Isle of Man at Balladoole. This boat burial contained a man, as well as a woman who had been sacrificed in order to be added to the grave.

Source: allthatsinteresting