Archaeology breakthrough: ‘Incredible’ discovery of the oldest remains of English royals
The remains of the English royalty of 1,000 years ago were discovered by the archeologists-the oldest find of the kind and a new light on the royal family history.
One of the most significant archeological findings in the last few years is that the queen Eadgyth who died aged 36 in 946AD, Researchers had believed the remains belonged to Eadgyth (Edith in modern English), the great-granddaughter of Alfred the Great, but could not prove it.
However, thanks to the use of hi-tech radioactive analysis of the remains, researchers were able to confirm that the bones belonged to someone who grew up in Wessex before moving to Germany.
Leading the project, Professor Harald Meller said: “Medieval bones were moved frequently and often mixed up, so it required some exceptional science to prove that they are indeed those of Eadgyth.
“It is incredible that we have been able to do this using the most recent analytical techniques.”
Her remains were initially thought to have been lost when they were moved in 1510.
Many thought a monument built in Magdeburg Cathedral in eastern Germany, was a cenotaph in her honour.
And when the tomb was investigated as part of a wider research project, a lead coffin was found inside bearing her name and inside that the nearly complete skeleton of a woman aged between 30 and 40.
The University of Bristol then carried out tests on the bones in 2008 to prove beyond doubt they are those of England’s oldest regal ancestor.
The crucial scientific evidence came from the teeth preserved in the upper jaw. Eadgyth was the granddaughter of Alfred the Great and the half-sister of Athelstan, the first acknowledged King of England.
She was sent to marry Otto, the king of Saxony in AD 929, and bore him at least two children, before her death at around the age of 36. She lived most of her married life at Magdeburg, where the cenotaph is located.
Dr. Alistair Pike, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at Bristol University, explained: “Strontium isotopes on tiny samples of tooth enamel have been measured.
“By microsampling, using a laser, we can reconstruct the sequence of a person’s whereabouts, month by month up to the age of 14.”
Mark Horton, Professor in Archaeology at Bristol University, added that it was “incredibly exciting” to confirm that the bones were the princess’s and to find out more about her life.
Mr. Horton continued: “This period was when England was really formed. “We don’t know much about these dark age queens and princesses.
“This has created a connection with one of them.
“Eadgyth seems to have spent the first eight years of her life in southern England, but changed her domicile frequently, matching quite variable strontium ratios in her teeth.
“Only from the age of nine, the isotope values remain constant.
“Eadgyth must have moved around the kingdom following her father, King Edward the Elder during his reign.
“When her mother was divorced in 919 – Eadgyth was between nine and ten at that point – both were banished to a monastery, maybe Winchester or Wilton in Salisbury.”
To date, only two Neanderthals have been sequenced to high-quality genomes: one originating from Vindjia Cave in Modern Croatia and one originating from Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains in Siberia.
The genome from a third Neanderthal whose remains were found-106 kilometers from the latter site-in Chagyrskaya Cave has now been sequenced in a research team led by Svante Pääbo from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.
DNA was extracted from bone powder and sequenced to high quality by researchers. They estimate that the Neandertal woman lived about sixty to eight thousand years ago.
From the variation in the genome, they estimate that she and other Siberian Neandertals lived in small groups of less than 60 individuals.
The researchers also show that the Chagyrskaya Neandertal was more closely related to the Croatian than to the other Siberian Neandertal which lived some 40,000 years before the Chagyrskaya Neandertal.
This shows that Neandertal populations from the West at some point replaced other Neandertal populations in Siberia.
“We also found that genes expressed in the striatum of the brain during adolescence showed more changes that altered the resulting amino acid when compared to other areas of the brain”, says Fabrizio Mafessoni, lead author of the study.
The results suggest that the striatum – a part of the brain which coordinates various aspects of cognition, including planning, decision-making, motivation, and reward perception – may have played a unique role in Neandertals.
The remains of a 1,900-year-old Roman fort that once quartered 500 troops in what is today Germany were discovered by archeologists.
The fort was found in the town of Gernsheim, which sits along the Rhine River in the German state of Hesse.
Researchers knew the area was the site of a village during the first to third centuries, but otherwise, the region’s history during the Roman occupation is largely unknown, dig leader Thomas Maurer, an archaeologist at the University of Frankfurt said in a statement.
“It was assumed that this settlement had to have been based on a fort since it was customary for the families of the soldiers to live outside the fort in a village-like settlement,” Maurer said. Until now, however, no one had found that fort.
During an educational dig in the area, Maurer and his colleagues uncovered postholes that once held the foundations of a wooden tower, as well as two V-shaped ditches, which were a common feature of Roman forts of the era.
A unit of 500 soldiers, known as a “cohort,” was stationed at the fort between about A.D. 70 and A.D.120.Fortunately for modern-day archaeologists, the last Romans to leave the fort destroyed the place on the way out, filling in the ditches with rubbish.
This rubbish included “box after box” of ceramic shards, which can be dated to pinpoint the time of the abandonment of the fort, said Hans-Markus von Kaenel, a professor at the Goethe University Institute of Archaeology.”We really hit the jackpot with this excavation campaign,” von Kaenel said in the statement.
Researchers have been able to piece together a broad history of the Gernsheim region from a scattering of archaeological finds there.
The Romans built the newly discovered fort around A.D. 70 as a jumping-off point for control of areas east of the Rhine, according to von Kaenel and his colleagues.
The area was an important transportation hub, with roads branching off to access the borders of the Roman Empire. There may have also been a harbor on the Rhine at the time, though that has yet to be verified, Maurer said.
The modern expansion of the town paved over many suspected Roman sites, but Maurer, von Kaenel, and their colleagues managed to secure permission for a dig on a vacant double lot near where Roman-era finds were discovered in the 1970s and 1980s. This lot turned out to hold the remains of the long-lost fort.
A brick fragment found at the site identifies the troops quartered at the fort as members of the 22nd Legion, an elite unit from the late first century.
Researchers also found real treasures such as rare garment clasps, several pearls, parts of a board game (dice, playing pieces) and a hairpin made from bone and crowned with a female bust,” Maurer said in the press release
A German Farmer Was Just Awarded Almost $1 Million for an Ancient Roman Bronze Found on His Property
In Lahnau, Germany, an archeologist uncovered a roman bronze sculpture. They knew that the discovery was both rare and precious.
The property owner received payments for the head of the bronze horse found at the bottom of his well and everyone seemed content with the situation. But new information emerged – information which has cost the local government almost one million dollars.
The Roman horse head, 2 000 years old, was discovered on the farm in 2009. The man, who was not identified by the media, was initially awarded € 48,000 (about $55,946) for the fragment of sculpture by Daily Sabah.
He seemed content with the payment until he found out, as BBC News reports, “about the gravity and value of the discovery, which was trumpeted as one of the best-preserved Roman bronzes in the world.”
It is an important discovery. Experts believe the gold leave-adorned horse head comes from 9 AD and was once part of a large statue depicting Augustus on horseback.
Born Gaius Octavius Thurinus (23 September 63 BC – 19 August 14 AD) and known as Octavian before taking leadership of Rome, Augustus was the adopted son of famous Roman dictator, Julius Caesar.
Following the events of the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, Augustus became the first Roman emperor. Emperor Augustus ruled for 40 years before he died.
He is remembered for his victory against his enemies Mark Antony and Cleopatra, but also for his patience and efficiency. His administrative skills helped him create durable peace and prosperity for his empire. Augustus’ rule was autocratic, but he knew how to hide that fact under well-made propaganda.
He was politically ruthless, and sometimes even cruel, but his temper apparently cooled as his time as emperor advanced. Augustus also had an interest in philosophy and poetry, leading him to write on both subjects.
Even today, Augustus is considered one of the most efficient, yet controversial, of all Roman leaders. There are many statues and busts of this Roman emperor.
The Roman bronze horse head from the German farmer’s property weighs about 55 pounds (24.95 kg) and is almost 20 inches (50.8 cm) long. It was found underwater in a 36-foot (10.97 meters) well. Experts believe the artifact was probably abandoned when the town’s inhabitants had to flee a surprise attack.
Once the farmer became aware of the importance of the Roman bronze sculpture he decided to sue the government for a better payout.
The Limburg regional court decided on July 27 that the local government now owes the farmer €773,000 (about $904,000) plus interest. That’s roughly half the estimated value of the Roman bronze horse’s head.
It’s unknown if the local authorities will make an appeal against the court’s decision.
Another fascinating Roman discovery was announced in Germany. Construction workers found the walls of a Roman library built about 2,000 years ago in the heart of Cologne. It is believed to be the oldest ruins of a public library in the country.
3,500 Years old Bronze Age skull shows women always loved jewellery.
A female skeleton around 3,500 years old has been found wearing a “designer” headband comprising tiny bronze spirals. Another evidence showing women have always loved jewellery!
She may have walked the earth thousands of years ago, but this woman was clearly as fond of a nice piece of jewellery as the average 21st Century girl.
It is believed to date back to between 1550 and 1250 BC and discovered in eastern Germany, has shown possible evidence that women have always been fond of jewellery.
The Middle Bronze Age woman had been buried wearing an elaborate headband made up of tiny bronze spirals. The skeleton was found from Rochlitz, south of Halle in eastern Germany, while construction was underway to build a new rail track.
The discovery has provided historians an insight into how the spirals were worn in the Middle Bronze Age, Tomoko Emmerling, the museum’s press officer, said.
Staff at the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle, where the skeleton is now on display as part of its permanent exhibition, said similar spirals uncovered in the past had been found separate and loose.
The State Museum of Prehistory in Halle is also home to the Nebra Sky Disk, which dates back to the early Bronze Age and is thought to have been an astronomical instrument.
So why do girls love jewellery? There are a couple of reasons that come to mind:
The ladies love to look pretty. For one thing, women are touted as more stylish and more conscious when it comes to looking fashionable and presentable.
Compared to the men, the ladies put so much care into their appearances, and the truth is society puts so much expectation for them to look well.
So to make themselves appear more presentable, it has always been set — perhaps since the beginning of civilization — that girls must always wear pretty things especially when it comes to clothing, shoes, accessories or jewellery. And sometimes, it is not just about wearing any type of jewellery.
Some girls even go the extra mile by wearing bright and coloured pieces that really command attention.
The more the pieces grab the interest of the people around her, the more it is appealing to wear.
This is not to say, however, that many women are vain about looking good and getting praises for it. But then again, whether folks admit this or not, vanity while considered a vice by some, can also be a good thing, especially among the female population. Because there is nothing wrong with looking pretty and using jewellery to do just that.
A 300,000-year-old hunting stick capable of killing large animals has been uncovered in Germany.
The wooden throwing stick, used by the extinct human subspecies Homo Heidelbergensis, was capable of killing waterbirds and horses during the Ice Age.
Experiments show the 25-inch-long throwing sticks, carved from spruce wood, could reach maximum speeds of 98 feet (30 meters) per second. German researchers have said the weapon was thrown like a boomerang, with one sharp side and one flat side, and spun powerfully around a center of gravity.
But when in flight, the team says the throwing stick, also referred to as ‘rabbit sticks’ or ‘killing sticks’, did not return to the thrower.
Instead the rotation helped to maintain a straight, accurate trajectory which helped to increase the likeliness of striking prey animals.
‘They are effective weapons over different distances, among other things when hunting water birds,’ said Dr. Jordi Serangeli, professor at the Institute for Prehistory, Early History and Medieval Archaeology at the University of Tübingen in Germany.
‘Bones of swans and ducks are well documented from the find layer.
‘In addition, it is likely that larger mammals, such as horses that were often hunted on the shores of Lake Schöningen, were startled and driven in a certain direction with the throwing stick.’
Researchers uncovered the weapon during an archaeological excavation at the Schöningen mine in Lower Saxony, northern Germany.
‘Schöningen has yielded by far the largest and most important record of wooden tools and hunting equipment from the Paleolithic,’ said Professor Nicholas Conard, founding director of the Institute of Archaeological Sciences at the University of Tübingen.
Detailed analysis by the researchers showed how the maker of this type of throwing stick used stone tools to cut the branches flush and then to smooth the surface.
The stick, carved from spruce wood, is around 25 inches (64.5cm) long, just over 1 inch (2.9cm) in diameter, and weighs 264 grams. The sticks also had fractures and damage consistent with that found on similar experimental examples.
For the first time researchers say the study provides clear evidence of the function of such a weapon. Late Lower Palaeolithic hominins in Northern Europe were ‘highly effective hunters’ with a wide array of wooden weapons that are rarely preserved, they say.
‘300,000 years ago, hunters had used different high-quality weapons such as throwing sticks, javelins and thrust lances in combination,’ said Professor Conard.
Overview of the excavation at Schöningen. Researchers attribute the discovery to the ‘outstanding’ preservation of wooden artifacts in the water-saturated lakeside sediments in Schöningen
‘The chances of finding Paleolithic artifacts made of wood are normally zero.
‘Only thanks to the fabulously good conservation conditions in water-saturated lakeside sediments in Schöningen can we document the evolution of hunting and the varied use of wooden tools.’
The discovery has been detailed further in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
When Did Human Ancestors First Emerge?
The timeline of human evolution can be traced back millions of years. Experts estimate that the family tree goes as such:
• 55 million years ago – First primitive primates evolve
• 15 million years ago – Hominidae (great apes) evolve from the ancestors of the gibbon.
• 7 million years ago – First gorillas evolve. Later, chimp and human lineages diverge.
• 5.5 million years ago – Ardipithecus, early ‘proto-human’ shares traits with chimps and gorillas.
• 4 million years ago – Ape like early humans, the Australopithecines appeared. They had brains no larger than a chimpanzee’s but other more human-like features.
• 3.9-2.9 million years ago – Australopithecus afarensis lived in Africa.
• 2.7 million years ago – Paranthropus, lived in woods and had massive jaws for chewing.
• 2.6 million years ago – Hand axes become the first major technological innovation.
• 2.3 million years ago – Homo habilis first thought to have appeared in Africa.
Archaeologists discover almost complete 300,000-year-old elephant skeleton
300,000 years ago in Lower Saxony elephants spread around Schoningen. In recent years there were the remains of at least ten elephants at Palaeolithic sites situated on the edges of the former opencast lignite mine.
In cooperation with the National Saxony State Office for Heritage, archeologists at the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tubingen have collected for the first time in Schoningen an almost complete skeleton of the Eurasian straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon Antiquus).
The species has died in what had been the western shore of the lake — what exactly happened and what the biotope surrounding the area was like 300,000 years ago is now being carefully reconstructed by the team. The preliminary study will be published in Archaologie in Deutschland and will be first presented at a press conference in Schoningen on Tuesday the 19th of May.
“The former open-cast mine in Schoningen is the first-rate archive of climate change, as stated by Bjorn Thumler, Lower Saxony’s Science Minister: This must be made even clearer in the future. This is a place where we can trace how humankind went from being a companion of nature to a designer of culture.”
The elephant skeleton lies on the 300,000 years old lakeshore in water-saturated sediments. Like most of the finds at Schoningen, it is extraordinarily well preserved as Jordi Serangeli, head of the excavation in Schoningen explains. “We found both 2.3-meter-long tusks, the complete lower jaw, numerous vertebrae and ribs as well as large bones belonging to three of the legs and even all five delicate hyoid bones.”
The elephant is an older female with worn teeth, as archaeozoologist, Ivo Verheijen explains. “The animal had a shoulder height of about 3.2 meters and weighed about 6.8 tonnes—it was, therefore, larger than today’s African elephant cows.”
It most probably died of old age and not as a result of human hunting. “Elephants often remain near and in the water when they are sick or old,” says Verheijen. “Numerous bite marks on the recovered bones show that carnivores visited the carcass.”
However, the hominins of that time would have profited from the elephant too; the team found 30 small flint flakes and two long bones which were used as tools for knapping among the elephant bones. Barbara Rodriguez Alvarez was able to find micro flakes embedded in these two bones, which proves that the resharpening of stone artifacts took place near to the elephant remains. She also refits two small flakes, this confirms that flint knapping took place at the spot where the elephant skeleton was found.
“The Stone Age hunters probably cut meat, tendons and fat from the carcass,” says Serangeli. Elephants that die may have been a diverse and relatively common source of food and resources for Homo heidelbergensis. Serangeli says that according to current data, although the Palaeolithic hominins were accomplished hunters, there was no compelling reason for them to put themselves in danger by hunting adult elephants. Straight-tusked elephants were a part of their environment, and the hominins knew that they frequently died on the lakeshore.
Several archaeological sites in the world have yielded bones of elephants and stone artifacts, e.g. Lehringen in Lower Saxony, Bilzingsleben in Thuringia, Grobern in Saxony-Anhalt, Benot Ya’aqov in Israel, Aridos 1 and 2 as well as Torralba and Ambrona in Spain, Casal dei Pazzi in Rome, Cimitero di Atella, Poggetti Vecchi in Italy and Ebbsfleet in England. Some of these sites have been interpreted as examples of elephant hunts in the Lower or Middle Palaeolithic.
“With the new find from Schoningen we do not seek to rule out that extremely dangerous elephant hunts may have taken place, but the evidence often leaves us in some doubt. To quote Charles Darwin: ‘It is not the strongest that survives, but the one who can adapt best’. According to this, the adaptability of humans was the decisive factor for their evolutionary success and not the size of their prey.”
The fact that there were numerous elephants around the Schoningen lake is proven by footprints left behind and documented approximately 100 meters from the elephant excavation site. Flavio Altamura from Sapienza University of Rome who analysed the tracks, tells us that this is the first find of its kind in Germany.
“A small herd of adults and younger animals must have passed through. The heavy animals were walking parallel to the lakeshore. Their feet sank into the mud, leaving behind circular tracks with a maximum diameter of about 60 centimeters.”
The Schoningen sites have already provided a great deal of information about plants, animals and human existence 300,000 years ago during the Reinsdorf interglacial. The climate at that time was comparable to that of today, but the landscape was much richer in wildlife.
About 20 large mammal species lived around the lake in Schoningen at that time, including not only elephants but also lions, bears, sabre-toothed cats, rhinoceroses, wild horses, deer and large bovids. “The wealth of wildlife was similar to that of modern Africa,” says Serangeli.
The discoveries in Schoningen include some of the oldest fossil finds of an auroch in Europe, of a water buffalo, and three saber-toothed cats. In Schoningen archaeologists also recovered some of the world’s oldest and best-preserved hunting weapons: ten wooden spears and at least one throwing stick.
Stone artifacts and bone tools complete the overall picture of the technology of the time. “The lakeshore sediments of Schoningen offer unique preservation and frequently provide us with detailed and important insights into the culture of Homo heidelbergensis,” says Nicholas Conard, head of the Schoningen research project.
Further detailed analyses of the environmental and climatic conditions at the time of the elephant’s death are taking place at the Technische Universitat Braunschweig, the University of Luneburg, and the University of Leiden (The Netherlands). The excavations in Schoningen are financed by the Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony.
Fashionable 2,000-Year-Old Roman Shoe Found in a Well
We all know the ancient Romans were skilled engineers, constructing vast highways to cover the enormous lands they conquered.
But did you know they were also fashionable? In the Empire, footwear was used as a status symbol in addition to providing warmth and protection.
And with Italy’s reputation for shoes, it should come as no surprise that their Roman ancestors were also good cobblers.
A stylish shoe on display at The Saalburg in Germany shows just how fashionable women in ancient Rome could be.
The Saalburg is a Roman fort located on the ridge of the High Tanus mountain and was part of ancient border fortifications in the area.
Enormous in scale, the fort and its surrounding village were home to around 2,000 people at its peak.
It was constructed in 90 AD and stayed in operation until around 260 AD when a political and economic crisis caused it to go out of use.
Since 2005, The Saalburg has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a museum that displays items found in the area.
This includes a 2,000-year-old shoe discovered in a well before going on exhibit for the world to see. Typical of certain types of ancient Roman footwear, they have a leather upper and a hobnailed sole.
Shoes were often modeled after caligae—heavy-soled military boots with lots of open areas.
For women, decorative embroidery and patterns were often added to the shoes in addition to laces. Not only demonstrating the craftsmanship of the maker, but these shoes also helped display the wealth and status of the women wearing them.
These thick-soled shoes would have been worn outdoors, with lighter sandals used indoors.
Their destiny to be discovered in Germany shows just how much craftsmanship and style traveled within the Ancient Roman Empire.
It’s incredible to see that the fashion choices made aren’t far off from the modern shoes we wear ourselves.