Category Archives: FRANCE

A Roman “laguncula” (water bottle) of the 4th century AD discovered in France

A Roman “laguncula” (water bottle) of the 4th century AD discovered in France

Archaeologist Carlo Di Clemente: Exceptional state of conservation, there are only very few other specimens found from excavations

A Roman "laguncula" (water bottle) of the 4th century AD discovered in France
Photo of the French Inrap Institute

The military bottle in the modern sense dates back to the second half of the 19th century, yet the Romans had already invented it.

One of these has just been found, in extraordinary conservation conditions, in the town of Seynod, in south-eastern France.

The architects of the discovery were the archaeologists of the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap).

A shopping center, or something similar, should be built on the site, but since the first investigations, evidence of a sacred Roman site with two or three small temples emerged, of which only the stone foundations remain.

In two of these, the cell floor (the closed space of the temple) and the vestibule can be clearly identified and referred to in the first half of the 4th century.

However, the site had to be older: the discovery of pottery from the end of the 1st century. they date the first construction of the sanctuary to that time.

In addition to the temples, 42 tombs with very different dimensions have emerged: the largest is more than two meters wide, the smallest only a meter and a half. Inside some of these coins, ceramics and figurines have been found. Among the various votive objects, a metal “laguncula” of the 4th century has sprung up. AD that belonged almost certainly to a legionnaire.

This is an exceptional find for the state of conservation – explains the archaeologist Carlo Di Clemente – there are only very few other specimens found from excavations. 

The “laguncula” was the container flask, usually made of copper, bronze or other alloys, which each legionnaire brought with him to preserve his daily ration of cereals, which he would then consume together with the companions of his “contubernium”, the smallest unit of the Roman army (8 soldiers). The food supply of the Roman army was extremely efficient: a legion (about 5000 men) needed around 1.2 tons of cereals per day.

The container, with a very graceful shape, is composed of two iron disks joined by bronze plates with a lobed outline like that of an oak leaf. Both the hinged handle and the cap are made of bronze, once connected to the flask by a metal cable, also in copper alloy, of which a fragment remains. Both the cap and the base are decorated with concentric circles. 

The interior was coated with wax or pitch to waterproof the container and, not surprisingly, traces of this material have been identified.

Even more interesting is how the remains of the organic content of the bottle have been preserved. According to the first analyzes, they are millet seeds (Panicum miliaceum, cereal widely consumed by the Romans) blackberries, with traces of dairy products. Perhaps he had also transported olives, given the presence of oleanoleic acid.

The laguncula was therefore also a kind of apprenticeship since it could contain solid foods. In fact, for the water, the legionaries had a specific skin bottle.

Explains military historian and experimental archaeologist Flavio Russo: This was a flask made of goatskin and had the advantage of not breaking with falls or bumps.

The external coat, if wet, allowed to refresh the content due to the subtraction of heat produced by evaporation. Its use even reached the Great War where it was called “ghirba”. By extension, “saving the stuff” began to mean, in military jargon, saving one’s life. The skin bottle also performed a very useful function: if filled with air, it constituted a real lifesaver that allowed the legionnaire to wade the waterways. skins, if used in bulk,

Returning to the laguncula, it is surprising how on the market of accessories for historical re-enactment this bottle has been present for some time now, reproduced with characteristics quite similar to the ancient one found. This allows us to appreciate how “new” it should have been. 

It was certainly an object of a certain value, like all the metal ones, at the time, which the legionary had to particularly care about. 

Perhaps this is precisely why she was left in one of the tombs. Maybe, the extreme homage of a fellow soldier, a friend, a brother? It is not just an archaeological find: the rust and verdigris that cover the laguncula evoke a story of pain and affection that we will never know.

This is the oldest known string. It was made by a Neandertal

This is the oldest known string. It was made by a Neandertal

In a rock shelter in France, What may be the world’s oldest piece of string, made by Neanderthal humans from bark about 50,000 years ago has been found

Just over two-tenths of an inch long, It’s a tiny fragment — but its discoverers say it shows Neanderthals had extensive knowledge of the trees it was made from, and enough practical ability to make a string that would hold fast under tension.

This research was first reported in the live science reports on Thursday. It is the first time that a string or rope was identified to the Neanderthals – which indicates that they have been using other ancient technologies that have since rotted away, from basketry to clothing to fishing gear.

It also suggests that Neanderthals – the archetypal crude cavemen – were smarter than some people give them credit for.

“This is just another piece of the puzzle that shows they really weren’t very different from us,” said palaeoanthropologist Bruce Hardy of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, who was part of the team that discovered the string.

A scanning electron microscope photo shows a closeup view of fibers that were twisted into a string by Neandertals as early as 52,000 years ago. The ancient string fragment is about 6.2 millimeters long.

Hardy spotted the string fragment attached to a small stone tool found at the Abri du Maras rock shelter in southeastern France, which was occupied by Neanderthals – Homo sapiens neanderthalensis – until about 40,000 years ago.

Before this, what’s thought to be the oldest string was found in Israel, and made by early modern humans – Homo sapiens– about 19,000 years ago. The tool from France was a sharp-edged flint used for cutting, and the string could have tied it to a handle, Hardy said.

Only the fragment of the string was left – but enough to be looked at with an electron microscope: “This is the oldest direct evidence of string that we have,” he said.

Twisted bark fibers have been found before, but they weren’t enough to show conclusively that Neanderthals used string. But the latest fibers were first twisted counterclockwise into single strands, and three strands were then twisted clockwise to form a string that wouldn’t unravel.

“This is the first time we found a piece with multiple fibers and two layers of twistings that tells us we have a string,” Hardy said.

The fibers are thought to come from the inner bark of a conifer tree, which implies the string’s makers had detailed knowledge of trees. “You can’t just get any old tree and get fiber from it, nor can you take the right kind of tree and get it at any time of year,” he said.

The three-ply structure also suggests the Neanderthals who made it had basic numeracy skills.

“They are showing knowledge of pairs and sets of numbers,” Hardy said. “You have to understand these elements in order to create the structure – without that, you wouldn’t get a cord.”

The discovery of the string fragment hints at a range of objects used by Neanderthals, such as wooden items, animal skins, fabrics, and ropes.

Excavations at a Neandertal site in France called Abri du Maras (shown) uncovered a stone tool containing remnants of the oldest known string.

Hardy hopes analysis of other Neanderthal finds will reveal fragments of more perishable technologies, such as basketry and weaving. Not all scientists are convinced that the latest find shows conclusively that Neanderthals made string, however.

Andrew Sorensen, a Paleolithic archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, notes the fragment is extremely fine – about as thick as five sheets of paper – and may have been too thin to be useful.

Instead, the twisted bark fibers could result from rubbing them together to make tinder for a fire, or from scraping bark off the stone tool, he said.

“I’m a fan of Neanderthals being quite intelligent and being able to do a lot of kinds of things that [early modern humans] do,” he said. “I just don’t know if this is a home-run demonstrating this activity.”

A Cave in France Changes What We Thought We Knew About Neanderthals

A Cave in France Changes What We Thought We Knew About Neanderthals

Rings of stone found inside a French cave were probably built 176,500 years ago by Neanderthals. A study says the structures are the oldest known human constructions, possibly altering the way we think about our ancestors.

A team led by archeologist Jacques Jaubert of the University of Bordeaux, using advanced dating techniques, noted that the stalagmites used in the stone ring constructions must have been broken off the ground around 176,500 years ago.

The dating of the structures – if substantiated – would push back by tens of thousands of years the first known cave exploration by members of the human family. It would also change the widely held view that humans’ ancient cousins were incapable of complex behavior.

Earlier research had suggested the structures pre-dated the arrival of modern humans in Europe around 45,000 years ago and thus the idea that Neanderthals could have made them didn’t fit and was largely disregarded.

“Their presence at 336 meters (368 yards) from the entrance of the cave indicates that humans from this period had already mastered the underground environment, which can be considered a major step in human modernity.

A chance find

The structures – discovered by chance in 1990 after a rockslide closed the mouth of a cave at Bruniquel in southwest France – were made from hundreds of pillar-shaped mineral deposits, or stalagmites, which were up to 40 centimeters (16 inches) high.

The authors said the purpose of the oval structures – measuring 16 square meters (172 sq. feet) and 2.3 square meters – is still a matter of speculation, though they may have served some symbolic or ritual purpose.

“A plausible explanation is that this was a common meeting place for some type of ritual social behavior,” said Paola Villa, an archaeologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder who wasn’t involved in the study.

The Neanderthals who built them must have had a “project” to go so deep into a cave where there was no natural light, said Jaubert.

“The site provides strong evidence of the great antiquity of those elaborate structures and is an important contribution to a new understanding of the greater level of social complexities of Neanderthal societies,” Villa noted.

Who were the Neanderthals?

Neanderthals were a species or subspecies of humans that became extinct between 40,000 and 28,000 years ago. Closely related to modern humans, they left remains mainly in Eurasia, from western Europe to central, northern, and western Asia.

Neanderthals are generally classified by paleontologists as the species Homo neanderthalensis, having separated from the Homo sapiens lineage 600,000 years ago.

Several cultural assemblages have been linked to the Neanderthals in Europe. The earliest, the Mousterian stone tool culture, dates to about 300,000 years ago. Late Mousterian artifacts were found in Gorham’s Cave on the south-facing coast of Gibraltar.

In December 2013, researchers reported evidence that Neanderthals practiced burial behavior and buried their dead.

In addition, scientists reported having sequenced the entire genome of a Neanderthal for the first time. The genome was extracted from the toe bone of a 50,000-year-old Neanderthal found in a Siberian cave.

Paleolithic Art – c. 14000-year-old Bull and Cow Bison found in the Le Tuc d’Audoubert cave, Ariege, France

Museum of Artifacts: 14000 Years Old Bisons Sculpture Found in Le d’Audoubert Cave, Ariege, France

The bison stood next to each other, built from the cave walls, leaning against a small boulder in the darkness.

While they are 18 feet twenty-four inches long, they are beautifully constructed and durability is remarkable.

The bison remained alone for thousands of years in the dark French cave until it was discovered in the early 20th century.

The cave of Tuc Audoubert was discovered by the three sons of Count Henri three Bégouën on 20 July and 10 October 1912.

The artist’s hand signs are still clearly visible and the techniques used to render the face and mane details Objects like these clearly demonstrate that man used clay for artistic expression long before the actual firing of clay was discovered.

The walls of these caves also are covered with drawings of bison and other game animals, marked in carbon from the fires, as well as the earth minerals such as iron oxide and manganese, showing that these ceramic coloring materials that we still use today were known to our earliest ancestors.

The bisons’ shaggy mane and beard appear to be carved with a tool, but the jaws are traced by the sculptor’s fingernail.

The impression given is one of immense naturalistic beauty. The female bison is ready to mate, while the Bull is sniffing the air.

Both animals are supported by a central rock and are unbelievably well preserved (proving perhaps that there was never a passage connecting the Tuc d’Audoubert cave with the Trois Freres), although they have suffered some drying out, which has caused some cracks to appear across their bodies.

Also in the chamber are two other bison figures, both engraved on the ground.

Prehistorians have theorized that a small group of people (including a child) remained in the Tuc d’Audoubert cave with the sole reason of participating in certain ceremonies associated with cave art.

The remote location of the clay bison – beneath a low ceiling at the very end of the upper gallery, roughly 650 meters from the entrance, is consistent with their involvement in some type of ritualistic or shamanistic process.