Rare Bronze Age Sword Found at Secret New Site in the Czech Republic
In the region of Richnov in northeast Bohemia, a bronze age Rare Sword was found in excellent condition.
The blade is intact with its hilt and the gravel of its decorative fine lines along its edge is clearly visible to the naked eye while the handle is long gone. It is still sharp in its cutting edge.
In recent decades it has been one of just five prehistoric swords found in the Czech Republic.
A Boy Monty and his owner in the region of Rychnov just last year have discovered a Bronze Age sickle hoard, but it’s been 130 years since a prehistoric sword was found around there and that was an iron antenna sword from the Early Iron Age.
The sword dates to around 1200 B.C. and was produced by the Lusatian culture, a Late Bronze Age agrarian society that ranged over what is now Poland, eastern Germany, and the western Czech Republic.
Lusatian artifacts are rich on the ground in eastern Bohemia, often found in hoards like Monty’s.
The sword find is unusual not only because so few of them have ever been discovered, but also because it was made at a location where no known Lusatian settlement or archaeological material has been recovered before.
It was found by a private individual who reported it to the Rychnov Museum on Saturday, November 2nd and handed it in the next morning.
He had no idea of its age or historic significance until a friend told him to alert the museum.
Archaeologists searched the find site and discovered rivets used to attach the sword’s handle. (The handle was made of organic material that has long since decomposed.) They also found a bronze spearhead from the same period.
Rychnov Museum archaeologist Martina Beková believes the sword was a ritual deposit, likely buried on its own as a votive offering to a deity.
The spearhead is from around the same period, but it does not appear to have been buried together with the sword.
The exact find site is being kept the secret to prevent looters from disturbing it before archaeologists are able to explore it thoroughly.
The artifacts will be conserved and stabilized for future display at the Rychnov Museum.
Since the only other prehistoric sword discovered in the area is now in the National Museum in Prague, this will be a centerpiece of the museum’s collection.
The site of a mysterious 7,000-year-old ring structure believed to be used in semi-regular religious rituals has been excavated by researchers in Poland.
The site for the excavation is located near the small village of Nowe objezierz, about ten miles from the German border. the excavation site features a series of concentric circles dug into the countryside. For scale, the interior ring is roughly three times the size of the inner ring at Stonehenge.
In 2015, a Polish Stonehenge variant was discovered. It seems to be one of the oldest human structures in Europe, according to researchers digging up nearly 7,000 years old
The site was built around 4800 BC and is one of the oldest human structures in Europe. Scientists believe. The site was first discovered by a paraglider who noticed the strange patterns carved into the ground in 2015, according to Polish news site The First News.
A year later, an archaeologist independently found the strange rings while looking at Google Maps. A group of researchers from universities in Gdańsk, Szczecin, Warsaw, and Poznań began digging at the site in 2017.
They have so far found hundreds of human bone fragments, pieces of ceramic, dyes, stone and flint objects, and more. Researchers believe the site was in active use for between 200 and 250 years in total, and that the rings were constructed over time and not all simultaneously. There are four rings in total, and researchers believe the trenches ranged between four to six feet deep.
According to Gdańsk University researcher Lech Czerniak, ‘it seems important to establish that the four trenches surrounding the central square of the facility probably did not function simultaneously, but every few dozen years, a new ditch with a larger diameter was dug up.’
Researchers believe the Polish site, like Stonehenge (pictured above), was used for semi-regular religious rituals. Researchers have found the remains of human settlements in the landscape surrounding the rings, suggesting a group of inhabitants that lived nearby.
They believe the Neolithic people that populated the region at the time would have celebrated religious holidays intermittently, as infrequently as every dozen or so years, suggesting the digging of new rings might have been a part of the ongoing ceremonies.
‘The primary focus of the project are questions about the social aspects of the functioning operation of roundels, including what prompted the inhabitants of a given region to make a huge effort in building and maintaining the roundel, where the idea and knowledge necessary to build this object came from, and how often and for how long the object was used,’ Czerniak said.
So far, around 130 similar ringed enclosures have been found in Europe, most of which are in Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic, suggesting there might be some common culture expressed in them.
What do we know about Neolithic Britain?
The Neolithic Revolution was the world’s first verifiable revolution in agriculture. It began in Britain between about 5000 BC and 4500 BC but spread across Europe from origins in Syria and Iraq between about 11000 BC and 9000 BC.
The period saw the widespread transition of many disparate human cultures from nomadic hunting and gathering practices to ones of farming and building small settlements.
Stonehenge, the most famous prehistoric structure in Europe, possibly the world, was built by Neolithic people, and later added to during the early Bronze Age
The revolution was responsible for turning small groups of travelers into settled communities who built villages and towns. Some cultures used irrigation and made forest clearings to better their farming techniques.
Others stored food for times of hunger, and farming eventually created different roles and divisions of labor in societies as well as trading economies. In the UK, the period was triggered by a huge migration or folk-movement from across the Channel.
The Neolithic Revolution saw humans in Britain move from groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled communities. Some of the earliest monuments in Britain are Neolithic structures, including Silbury Hill in Wiltshire
Today, prehistoric monuments in the UK span from the time of the Neolithic farmers to the invasion of the Romans in AD 43. Many of them are looked after by English Heritage and range from standing stones to massive stone circles, and from burial mounds to hillforts.
Stonehenge, the most famous prehistoric structure in Europe, possibly the world, was built by Neolithic people, and later finished during the Bronze Age. Neolithic structures were typically used for ceremonies, religious feasts and as centers for trade and social gatherings.
12,000-Year-Old Lake Destroyed in Treasure Hunt for Roman Gold
Dipsiz Lake, a 12,000-year-old glacial lake in Turkey’s north-east Gümüşhane province, had been desiccated by two men, including a ruling party official, who were looking for a treasure.
Fatih Sözen, district chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), is one of the two people who applied for a treasury search permit, the Turkish daily Hürriyet reported on Sunday.
The Culture and Tourism Board of Gümüşhane approved the permit for the excavation, which was carried out under the supervision of the director of the Gümüşhane Museums and officials of the provincial gendarme.
The lake was drained to search for treasure believed to have been left behind by one of the largest legions of the ancient Roman Empire in the Anatolian peninsula. Efforts ended after five days when no treasure was found.
Turkish law allows for permits to be issued to treasure hunters if the area to be searched does not have protected status and spans less than 100 square meters.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry issued a statement that said an inquiry had been launched into the matter and those responsible had been suspended.
“A primitive and unscientific treasure hunt approach has destroyed the lake,” Geophysics professor Ahmet Ercan told Hürriyet.
Upon public outcry, the Gümüşhane governorate announced efforts to rehabilitate the lake. Landscape architecture professor Ertan Düzgüneş said the lake ecosystem had evolved over 12 thousand years, and could not be artificially restored.
Chamber of Environmental Engineers Chairman Baran Bozoğlu called for new legislation on treasure hunting.
Hunting Lost Roman Treasure
It is known there were four Roman legions stationed in ancient Turkey.
In August last year, according to Hurriyet Daily News, a team of 25 archaeologists, including Bernard Van Daele of the Leuven University Archaeology Department, began archaeological excavations at the site of a Roman legionary base in the ancient city of Satala, in the northern province of Gümüşhane’s Kelkit district.
Four great legion castles were built in Anatolia and Satala is located in the northeast in the plain areas.
This is where Apollinaris 15th legion protected the northeastern border of the Roman Empire along the Euphrates River.
Gümüşhane was an area famous for the mining of silver and gold in ancient times and this is another reason why the 15th legion was positioned here, to protect both the border and the mines.
While the Governor’s Office has not revealed any information as to the nature of the “Roman Treasure” it is likely the two excavators believed that the lake was “not” Ice Age, that it may have been caused by Roman gold mining, and was concealing the entrance to an ancient mine.
And as I am sure you can imagine, even though the governor granted permission for this treasure hunt, a tide of angered scientists are speaking out against this cultural outrage.
Coşkun Eruz, head of the Preservation of Natural and Historical Sites Association, told Hurriyet Daily News that legally official permission should be taken from “at least five state institutions” for such an excavation.
This system assures no fish, bird, or other animal species would be harmed and that no aspects of the ecosystem would be damaged. And furthermore, Eruz said that even though Gümüşhane was an area where important silver and gold mines existed in ancient times, it is not possible that any ancient treasure would be hidden in the lake: “What ignorance!”
Babies Buried Wearing ‘Helmets’ Made of Skulls of Other Children Discovered in Ecuador
While the head of humans is a powerful symbol in many cultures in South America, archeologists at a site in Ecuador were surprised to find that two babies buried with “helmet” made from the skulls of other kids.
The Salango ritual complex on the central coast, dating back to approximately 100BC, was a site used as a funerary platform by a chiefdom culture called Guangala.
During the excavation between 2014 and 2016, 11 individuals buried with small artifacts, shells, and stone ancestor figurines. More notably, two infants were found with the modified skulls of others encasing their heads.
The research team – composed of Sara Juengst and Abigail Bythell of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Richard Lunniss and Juan José Ortiz Aguilu of the Universidad Técnica de Manabí in Ecuador – explained this unusual burial ritual in a new article published in the journal Latin American Antiquity.
One burial was that of an infant who was about 18 months old when they died. In describing the image of this burial, Juengst and colleagues note that “the modified cranium of a second juvenile was placed in a helmet-like fashion around the head of the first, such that the primary individual’s face looked through and out of the cranial vault of the second.”
The human skull helmet came from another child between 4-12 years at death. The second infant was only about 6-9 months old at death, with a skull helmet made from a child who was between 2-12 years at death.
In studying both burials, the archaeologists noticed that there was very little space between the primary skeletons and their skull helmets, “suggesting the simultaneous burial of the primary individual and the additional cranium.”
While isolated skulls are often found in South American mortuary contexts, they are typically adults who are victims of war or are idolized ancestors.
Children’s heads are far less commonly found by archaeologists, causing Juengst and colleagues to suggest that this unusual or symbolic form of burial at Salango “may represent an attempt to ensure the protection of these ‘pre-social and wild’ souls.”
Surrounding the infants with stone ancestor figurines may have further empowered the heads, providing protective measures for these prematurely deceased individuals, they write.
“We’re still pretty shocked by the find,” “Not only is it unprecedented, but there are also still so many questions.” She is hoping that in-progress DNA and isotope analyses will contribute new information to understanding who the children were and whether they were related to the individuals who became their skull helmets.
Juengst says that there are “various possibilities for the origin of the extra crania, from potentially curated ancestor skulls to them being worn in life as well as in death, so we definitely have a lot of ideas to work with.”
Bioarchaeologist Sara Becker of the University of California Riverside calls this burial practice “pretty amazing – I’ve never heard of anything like it elsewhere in the Andes.”
In considering Juengst and colleagues’ findings, Becker suggests that it “makes me consider practices elsewhere where heads are buried in chests as if they are ‘seeds’ to help with agricultural productivity. I do wonder if it has something to do with rebirth, and if these children could have been important symbols of that.”
Sîan Halcrow of the University of Otago, an expert on ancient burials of children, also finds this new research study fascinating for its implications for the study of evidence of disease on children’s bodies.
Halcrow points out that Juengst and colleagues discovered evidence of anemia on the bones of both the two primary infants as well as the individuals who were used as helmets.
While “the authors state that this finding is unusual for the area and time period,” Halcrow thinks “this is likely due to the previous lack of interest of the study of infant disease in the region and development of new methods for identifying disease in this age group.” Further analysis of children’s skeletons is an ongoing research theme in the bioarchaeology of South America.
This unique Ecuadorian mortuary practice may seem strange, even within the context of ancient Andean cultures replete with the imagery and manipulation of heads, because of the young age of all of the children involved.
“Dealing with the death of young infants is always emotional,” Juengst concludes, “but in this case, it was strangely comforting that those who buried them took extra time and care to do it in a special place, perhaps accompanied by special people, in order to honor them.”