‘Oldest Roman library Discovered Beneath German City’ unearthed by Cologne archaeologist
A team of archeologists who digged near the church of Antoniter, a Protestant church in the center of Cologne, Germany, found a puzzling discovery.
Beneath the foundations of the church were Roman walls—Cologne (then called Colonia) was founded by the Romans in 50 AD—with a series of niches measuring about 31 inches by 20 inches.
Initially, archaeologists thought that the niches used to host statues. But soon enough it became evident that they must have served some other purpose.
“It took us some time to match up the parallel—we could see the niches were too small to bear statues inside,” Dr. Dirk Schmitz, an archaeologist at the Roman-Germanic Museum of Cologne told The Guardian.
After more research, Schmitz and his team noticed how the niches were similar to those found in Roman-era libraries such as the 117 structure discovered in Ephesus, Turkey.
They concluded that the niches served as “cupboards for scrolls” and that the building used to be a library containing an estimated 20,000 scrolls.
According to the area excavated so far, the library used to measure 65 feet by 30 feet and was probably two stories tall—a monumental building for Roman times.
Its location, right in the center of the city, provided further evidence about the nature of the building.“It is in the middle of Cologne, in the marketplace, or forum: the public space in the city center,” Schmitz told The Guardian.
“It is built of very strong materials, and such buildings, because they are so huge, were public.”
Roman-era libraries are rare finds for archaeologists, making this an important discovery.
As Schmitz explained, it is probable that Roman towns had libraries but they are not usually part of excavations’ findings, partly because there is no distinctive sign that can identify a building as a library.
But what made a difference this time was the presence of niches in the walls.
“If we had just found the foundations, we wouldn’t have known it was a library,” Schmitz added.
“It was because it had walls, with the niches, that we could tell.”
An archaeologist unearths 100’s of silver artifacts from the reign of Viking ruler Harald Bluetooth, including 1,000-year-old coins, rings, and a Thor’s hammer
Hundreds of 1,000-year-old silver coins, rings, pearls, and bracelets are among treasures unearthed from the time of a legendary Viking ruler. Clues to the location of the haul were first discovered by two amateur archaeologists, a 13-year-old boy and his teacher.
The pair were looking for valuables using metal detectors when they chanced upon what they thought was a worthless piece of aluminium. Upon closer inspection, they realised that it was a shimmering piece of silver, and alerted experts to the find.
Further investigation revealed a trove believed to date to the era of King Harald Gormsson, who reigned from around 958 to 986 AD. Better known as ‘Harald Bluetooth’, his name lives on in the wireless technology standard named in his honour by its Swedish creators Ericsson. King Harald is also credited with unifying Denmark and introducing Christianity to the Scandinavian nation.
Experts uncovered the collection on the German Baltic island of Rügen, after a single coin was found in a field near the village of Schaprode by Rene Schoen and his student Luca Malaschnitschenko in January.
The state’s archaeology office then became involved, digging an exploratory trench covering 400 square metres (4,300 square feet).
This revealed the entire treasure, which was recovered by experts last weekend. Researchers said that around 100 silver coins of the roughly 600 are probably from the reign of Bluetooth.
He ruled over what is now Denmark, northern Germany, southern Sweden and parts of Norway. Braided necklaces, pearls, brooches, a Thor’s hammer, rings and up to 600 chipped coins were found.
This trove is the biggest single discovery of Bluetooth coins in the southern Baltic Sea region and is therefore of great significance,’ lead archaeologist Michael Schirren told German news agency DPA.
The oldest coin found in the trove is a Damascus dirham dating to 714 AD while the most recent is a penny dating to 983 AD.
The find suggests that the treasure may have been buried in the late 980s – also the period when Bluetooth was known to have fled to Pomerania where he died in 987.‘We have here the rare case of a discovery that appears to corroborate historical sources,’ archaeologist Detlef Jantzen added.
Bluetooth, a Viking-born king turned his back on old Norse religion, but was forced to flee to Pomerania after a rebellion led by his son Sven Gabelbart.
He was the son of Gorm the Old, the first significant figure in a new royal line centred at Jelling, in North Jutland. The Trelleborg type of fortifications, built in a circular shape with a rampart and four gateways, date from his reign.
A total of five are known to exist, located in modern Denmark and the south of Sweden. The expansion begun by Bluetooth in Norway was continued by his son Sweyn I, whose war with his father marked Harald’s last years.
After Sweyn conquered England in 1013 AD, his son Canute ruled over a great Anglo-Scandinavian kingdom that included parts of Sweden.
Europe’s Oldest Battlefield Yields Clues to Fighters’ Identities in Germany
Europe’s Oldest Battlefield Yields Clues to Fighters’ Identities: It was one of the biggest and most brutal battles in the Bronze Age. Now archaeologist has shed new light on the mysterious people who fought in the Tollense Valley 3,250 years ago.
A study of the skeletons at the sites in north-eastern Germany suggests that more than 2000 people were involved in the battle. And while experts are yet to pinpoint exactly where the fighters were from, DNA analysis suggests that it was a large, diverse group of non-local warriors.
The reason for the war on Europes oldest battlefield remains unknown. Since the 1980s, several pieces of evidence of a battle have been discovered in river sediment at the site, including daggers, knives, and skulls.
In 1996, an amateur archaeologist found a single upper arm bone sticking out of the steep river bank with a flint arrowhead embedded in one end of the bone. A systematic exploration of the site began in 2007 after archaeologist unearthed an enormous battlefield, as well as 140 skeletons and remains of military equipment.
These included wooden clubs, bronze spearhead, and flint and bronze arrowheads. Now, an archaeologist from the Lower Saxony State Office for Cultural Heritage have analyzed the remains to learn more about the peoples who fought in the battle.
According to Science, in the Bronze Age, Northern Europe was long dismissed as a backwater, overshadowed by more sophisticated civilizations in the Near East and Greece.
They believe the battle was of a scale up until then, completely unknown north of the Alps. It suggests more organizations and violence in the area than once thought.
Speaking to Live Science, Professor Thomas Terberger, one of the archaeologists working on the excavation, said: ‘We are very confident that the human remain is more or less lying in the position where they died.’
While 140 skeletons have been found, Professor Terberger stated that this is likely only a fraction of the men involved. He estimates that more than 2000 people were involved in the battle. He said: ‘This is beyond the local scale of conflict,’ suggesting that the battle went beyond neighbors.
To understand more about the fighters, the researcher conducted a chemical analysis of the skeletons, looking for elements like strontium, which can leave a geographically specific signature in bones.
While the results showed that the fighter was a large, diverse group of non-locals, the archaeologist was unable to pinpoint specifically where they were from.
The analysis did suggest that many of the fighters came from the south – either southern Germany or Central Europe – a find that was in line with many pieces of evidence discovered at the site, including Central-European arrowheads and pins.
The fighters closely resembled the slain soldiers discovered in a nearby mass grave at Wittstock, dating back to 1636. While this is more recent than the battle at Tollense, Professor Terberger believes that it could have some important parallels for the Bronze Age.
In the battle at Wittstock, soldiers were known to come from all over Europe. If the fighters at Tollense were also multi-ethnic, it might mean ‘these were the warrior who was trained as warriors’, rather than locals, according to Professor Terberger.
One key question that remains to be answered is the motivation behind the battle. The researcher now hopes to look to the wider landscape near the battlefield to look for answers.
The Tollense River was known to be an important route for north-south trade, and the battle took place beside a bridge connecting two sides of the river.
Professor Terberger said: ‘It was probably an important crossing in the landscape.’ The time when the battle took place was also right in the middle of a huge cultural shift in Central Europe, as people arrived from the Mediterranean. Professor Terberger added: ‘It is not by accident that our battlefield site is dating to this period of time.’