Category Archives: WORLD

Archaeologists Have Finally Found Greece’s Lost City Of Tenea

Archaeologists Have Finally Found Greece’s Lost City Of Tenea

The story goes, that Tenea was founded by the survivors of the Trojan War in the 12th or 13th century BC, Until now, its location (and very existence) was entirely reliant on the words of historical text.

But the Ministry of Culture of the country announced the discovery of jewelry, pottery and even infrastructures by a team of archeologists, seemingly confirming where it was on a site near the village of Chiliomodi in southern Greece.

It’s a city that the ancient Greeks thought was settled by Trojan captives of war after the sack of Troy in the 12th or 13th century BC and up to now showed up only in texts.

Tenea Project Photo by Ministry of Culture and Sports, Greece

Also found were household pottery, a bone gaming die, and 200 coins dating from the 4th century BC and up to later in the Roman era.

Specifically, coins discovered were dated to the era of Roman emperor Septimius Severus, who ruled from 193 to 211.

Past digs have found clues near the city, but the most recent excavation uncovered the “city’s urban fabric,” including floors, walls and door openings, the culture ministry said, according to USA Today.

Satellite map

An unsettling discovery was a pottery jar containing the remains of two human fetuses, within the foundations of a building. Usually in Greek culture, the dead were buried in cemeteries.

Legend says the city thrived until the end of the Roman Empire, at which point it seems to have been damaged in a Gothic invasion. According to the Ministry, the city may have been left deserted in the 6th century CE during the Avar and Slavic raids.

Photo by Ministry of Culture and Sports, Greece

Lead archaeologist Elena Korka told the Associated Press that the discoveries indicated the citizens of Tenea had been “remarkably affluent.”

The city would have been located on a trade route between the cities of Corinth and Argos in the northern Peloponnese.

“(The city) had distinctive pottery shapes with eastern influences, maintained contacts with both east and west… and had its own thinking, which, to the extent that it could, shaped its own policies,” she told the AP.

Pottery found on location.

Throughout history, not much was known about Tenea, apart from ancient references to the reputed link with Troy and to its citizens having formed the bulk of the Greek colonists who founded the city of Syracuse in Sicily.

Korka said more should emerge during the excavations, which will continue over the coming years.

″(The city) had distinctive pottery shapes with eastern influences, maintained contacts with both east and west … and had its own way of thinking, which, to the extent that it could, shaped its own policies,” she said.

According to Reuters, among the findings was a golden coin to pay for the journey to an afterlife and an iron ring with a seal that depicted the Greek god Serapis sitting on a throne, Cerberus, which is a three-headed mythical dog that guards the gates of Ades, beside him.

Trojan War

The Trojan War is believed to have taken place near the end of the Bronze Age, around 1200 B.C. It took place around the time that a civilization called Mycenaean was active in Greece. They built palaces and developed a system of writing.

The earliest accounts of this war come from Homer, who lived around the eighth century B.C., several centuries after the events that took place. They do not appear to have been written down until even later, likely during the sixth century B.C.

The site of Hisarlik, in northwest Turkey, has been identified as Troy. It was inhabited for almost 4,000 years starting around 3000 B.C. After one city was destroyed, a new city would be built on top.

“There is no one single Troy; there are at least 10, lying in layers on top of each other,” writes University of Amsterdam researcher Gert Jan van Wijngaarden in a chapter of the book Troy: City, Homer, and Turkey.

Celtic woman found buried inside a TREE ‘wearing fancy clothes and jewellery’ after 2,200 years

Celtic woman found buried inside a TREE ‘wearing fancy clothes and jewellery’ after 2,200 years

The ancient corpse of a woman buried in a hollowed-out tree in Zurich, Switzerland. Pictured are parts of her remains including her skull (top), as well as her jewellery (a blue, bottom)

It’s believed the woman, who died 2,200 years ago, commanded great respect in her tribe, as she was buried in fine clothes and jewellery.

Scientists say the woman was Celtic. The Iron Age Celts are known to have buried members of their tribe in “tree coffins” buried deep underground.

The woman’s remains were found in the city of Zurich in 2017, according to Live Science.

Bedecked in a fine woolen dress and shawl, sheepskin coat, and a necklace made of glass and amber beads, researchers believe she performed little if any hard labor while she was alive. It’s estimated she was around 40 years old when she died, with an analysis of her teeth indicating a substantial sweet tooth.

Adorned in bronze bracelets and a bronze belt chain with iron clasps and pendants, this woman was not part of low social strata. Analysis of her bones showed she grew up in what is now modern-day Zurich, likely in the Limmat Valley.

Most impressive, besides her garments and accessories, is the hollowed-out tree trunk so ingeniously fixed into a coffin. It still had the exterior bark intact when construction workers stumbled upon it, according to the initial 2017 statement from Zurich’s Office of Urban Development.

While all of the immediate evidence — an Iron Age Celtic woman’s remains, her bewildering accessories, and clothing, the highly creative coffin — is highly interesting on its own, researchers have discovered a lot more to delve into since 2017.

The excavation site at the Kernschulhaus (Kern school) in Aussersihl, Zurich. The remains were found on March 2017, with results of all testing now shedding light on the woman’s life.

According to The Smithsonian, the site of discovery has been considered an archaeologically important place for quite some time. Most of the previous finds here, however, only date back as far as the 6th century A.D.

The only exception seems to have occurred when construction workers found the grave of a Celtic man in 1903. They were in the process of building the school complex’s gym, the Office of Urban Development said when they discovered the man’s remains buried alongside a sword, shield, and lance.

Researchers are now strongly considering that, because the Celtic woman’s remains were found a mere 260 feet from the man’s burial place, they probably knew each other.

Experts have claimed that both figures were buried in the same decade, an assertion that the Office of Urban Development said it was “quite possible.”

The Office of Urban Development said the woman’s necklace was “unique in its form: it is fastened between two brooches (garment clips) and decorated with precious glass and amber beads.”

Though archaeologists previously found evidence that a Celtic settlement dating to the 1st century B.C. lived nearby, researchers are rather confident that the man found in 1903 and the woman found in 2017 belonged to a smaller, separate community that has yet to be entirely discovered.

The department’s 2017 press release stated that researchers would initiate a thorough assessment of the grave and its contents, and by all accounts, they’ve done just that.

Archaeologists salvaged and conserved any relevant items and materials, exhaustively documented their research, and conducted both physical and isotope-based examinations on the woman.

Most impressive to experts was the woman’s necklace, which had rather impressive clasps on either end.

The office said that its concluded assessment “draws a fairly accurate picture of the deceased” and the community in which she lived. The isotope analysis confirmed that she was buried in the same area she grew up in.

The amber beads and brooches belonging to the woman’s decorative necklace being carefully recovered from the soil.

While the Celts are usually thought of as being indigenous to the British Isles, they lived in many different parts of Europe for hundreds of years. Several clans settled in Austria and Switzerland, as well as other regions north of the Roman Empire.

Interestingly enough, from 450 B.C. to 58 B.C. — the exact same timeframe that the Celtic woman and man were buried — a “wine-guzzling, gold-designing, poly/bisexual, naked-warrior-battling culture” called La Tène flourished in Switzerland’s Lac de Neuchâtel region.

That is until Julius Caesar launched an invasion of the area and began his conquest of western and northern Europe. Ultimately, it seems the Celtic woman received a rather kind and caring burial and left Earth with her most treasured belongings by her side.

WWII Plane Crash Site Excavated in England

WWII Plane Crash Site Excavated in England

Students excavate Second World War Hawker Hurricane shot down over a Hampshire field, Aerial view of the dig for the 1940 Hurricane near Wickham.

Hawker Hurricane fighter plane excavated by Winchester University archaeology students in the field near Wickham

The single-seater crash site, which went down near Wickham in November 1940, was effectively excavated by Winchester University Students.

The undergraduate’s recovered wreckage left behind following the wartime RAF recovery including elements of the cockpit instrumentation, control column firing button (found ‘set to fire’), armored glass and crucially one of the aircraft’s identification plates that confirmed it as P/O Hugh Desmond Clark’s Hurricane N2608.

In addition, rather poignantly, the harness release, which would have been the last item handled by the pilot before he parachuted to safety, was recovered.

10  archaeology undergraduates spent two weeks researching and excavating the site, led by Dr. Phil Marter, senior lecturer in Archaeology and an expert in WW2 aviation archaeology.

A geophysical survey was followed by three days’ excavation last Thursday through to Saturday at Frith Farm. The site has not been explored for nearly 80 years.

Students excavate Second World War Hawker Hurricane shot down over a Hampshire field The dig near Wickham.

Dr. Marter said: “This project has provided a unique opportunity for students to explore the story of just one pilot and his aircraft that participated in the aerial combat taking place in the skies of Britain during late 1940.

We hope that their experience will help them to appreciate the value of this type of heritage and encourage them to play an active role in its future.

“We are extremely grateful to the landowners Mr. and Mrs. Arturi for allowing us to work on their land and making us feel so welcome.

Students excavate Second World War Hawker Hurricane shot down over a Hampshire field

We are also grateful to our project partner Gareth Jones and his team for their support and to the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) at Innsworth for their advice during the licensing process.”

The Hurricane was being flown by P/O Clark while intercepting enemy aircraft on November 1, 1940, the day after the Battle of Britain officially finished.

P/O Clark retired from the RAF as a Wing Commander in 1960 and, as part of their project, the students are researching his military career and hoping to trace any living relatives in the hope that they can tell his story and add this to their excavation report.

The students will continue the cleaning and cataloging of material from the site in the coming week.

18th-Century Gun Piece Discovered in Michigan

18th-Century Gun Piece Discovered in Michigan

Archaeologists have unearthed an 18th-century serpent sideplate from a British trade gun at a historic Mackinaw City fort

An 18th-century serpent sideplate was uncovered by archeologists from a British trade weapon at a historic fort in Mackinaw City.

The nearly 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) long piece was found last Tuesday in Fort Michilimackinac. It’s believed to date back to the 1770s.

Lynn Evans, the curator of archaeology at Mackinac State Historic Parks, said only four gun parts have been found in that particular location in 12 years.

“All of a sudden, here’s something we haven’t been finding,” Evans said.

Fort Michilimackinac is a reconstructed 18th-century for a trading village on the Straits of Mackinac. Over the centuries, the area was home to Native Americans, the French and the British.

The finding is part of a long-running archaeological program at the park.

Excavations take place seven days a week for 12 weeks in the summer, giving visitors a chance to watch archaeology in action and ask the archaeologists questions, too.

This year marks the archaeological dig’s 60th anniversary, making it one of North America’s longest-running archaeology programs.

“It’s an unusual opportunity, and I think it’s great you can do it right here in Michigan,” Evans said.

The serpent sideplate will be taken to a lab to be washed, examined and labeled.

Over the coming winter, the sideplate and other items found during this summer’s dig will be cataloged and put into storage for future use by researchers or in exhibits, either at the fort or by loan to other institutions.

In addition to the serpent, 2019 discoveries have included a silver trade brooch, a door hinge and a large piece of feather creamware.

Evans said discoveries paint a richer picture of what life was like at the fort.

“We have a lot of documents about the fort, but we don’t have a lot of diaries,” Evans said. “What we find is not gonna change history, but it gives us such a better understanding of daily life here.”

A new Viking site could rewrite the story of the ‘Great Heathen Army’

A new Viking site could rewrite the story of the ‘Great Heathen Army’

 Ongoing excavations at the English parish of Foremark could finally uncover where the thousands of Vikings that made up the Great Army spent the winter of 873-874 CE.
Ongoing excavations at the English parish of Foremark could finally uncover where the thousands of Vikings that made up the Great Army spent the winter of 873-874 CE.

Some 40 years ago, archaeologists excavating the grounds of the English village of Repton stumbled upon a gruesome discovery: a mass grave containing the bodies of more than 250 men, women, and children, many bearing the scars of battle on their bones.

The find lined up with English historical records describing Repton as the location where the “Great Heathen Army” of Vikings hunkered down for the winter of 873-874 CE. It seemed the invaders who had once terrorized the country’s medieval Anglo-Saxon residents had finally been found.

There was just one problem. The only candidate for a fortified winter encampment at Repton was an earthwork enclosure spanning just a handful of acres—far too little to accommodate the thousands of militant Vikings believed to have comprised the Great Army.

Now, a team of researchers from the University of Bristol might have uncovered the solution to Repton’s clown car conundrum: a long-lost partner camp in the nearby village of Foremark, which boasts acreage aplenty. Excavations at Foremark are ongoing, but if the findings pan out, they could help resolve a long-standing debate in Viking history.

“Based on what others had dug up at Repton before, some people [suggested] the Great Army wasn’t as big as everyone thought,” says Mary Beaudry, an archaeologist at Boston University who was not involved in the excavation. “But with this work at Foremark…it could have been much bigger than anyone thought. It opens up an entirely new picture.”

Formal excavations at Foremark, a sleepy hamlet just two miles east of Repton, have only recently begun in earnest. But long before the arrival of a team led by Cat Jarman, an archaeologist at the University of Bristol, a group of metal detectorists had unveiled hints of a Viking presence in Foremark.

One of these detectorists, Rob Davis, had already spent more than a decade amassing a trove of trinkets when he reached out to Jarman in November of 2017. Though his collection was by no means comprehensive, Jarman says, it already held what might be the “smoking gun” of a Great Army encampment: a handful of trademark lead gaming pieces—a common relic of Viking encampments strewn throughout Europe.

“In a way, these are the most important artifacts,” Jarman says. “They’re only associated with the Great Army. They’re not pretty or valuable, but they’re specific.”

Joining the gaming pieces were several Islamic dirham coins and trading weights—clear indicators of the Vikings’ global connections. These artifacts, in particular, Jarman says, should serve as reminders that the Vikings were more than the one-dimensional plunderers and pillagers of popular culture. In fact, there’s evidence that Vikings actually started out as merchants, and kept up some of these bartering practices even after taking up arms, trading in local and foreign markets alike.

“There was obviously a violent side to the Vikings,” says team member Mark Horton, an archaeologist at the University of Bristol. “But they were also bringing all sorts of things missing from Anglo-Saxon England at the time. They were the first medieval globalizing forces.”

In the years since Jarman and her colleagues have begun their own research at Foremark. The team hasn’t yet begun excavations at what they believe is the location of Foremark’s main camp, which is privately owned. But the researchers have already hit pay dirt in a neighboring plot of land—in the form of a large, valuable iron plowshare that dates back to the late 9th century. It’s not yet clear who the plowshare belonged to: It could have been hauled in by globe-trotting Scandinavians or abandoned by the unfortunate Anglo-Saxons whose homes they invaded. Either way, this particular find is “pretty amazing,” Horton says.

Many of the artifacts, including those in the metal detectorist’s collection, have yet to be dated more precisely than a ballpark century, however. As such, there’s not yet a guarantee of simultaneous occupation with Repton. But given Foremark’s proximity to Repton, Jarman and others are optimistic that the pieces of the overwintering puzzle could finally be falling into place.

“The findings at Foremark fit into our expectations,” says Doug Bolender, an anthropologist at the University of Massachusetts Boston who was not involved in the work. “In lots of ways, this could allow us to put aside a whole series of caveats and asterisks of the interpretation of the material at Repton…it’s exciting to have a potential site.”

In many ways, Foremark might have been an obvious candidate for a Viking take over. Situated comfortably on the River Trent, the site would have been ideal for everything from docking boats to growing crops. It also carried the appeal of open land: Though the team hasn’t yet determined the exact boundaries of the Foremark camp, the site could have covered as many as 90 acres, vastly outstripping the known enclosures at Repton.

That amount of space could have accommodated the thousands estimated to be in the Great Army—or more. “The whole thing is a massive Viking landscape,” Horton says. “The sheer scale of what we’re finding could indicate that we’re talking about tens of thousands [of people].”

A Viking gaming piece uncovered at Foremark. These tiny trinkets entertained bored Viking warriors at their winter encampments, and have been found all across Europe.

As excavations continue, Jarman is now toying with one last theory: that Foremark was so nice, the Vikings settled it twice.

Not long after leaving their station at Repton, the Great Army began to fragment. After a few final cataclysmic clashes with growing Anglo-Saxon forces, the remaining Vikings scattered. Over time, the two sworn enemies found peace and, eventually, began to integrate, braiding their disparate cultures together. Scandinavian words wove their way into English; Norse gods mingled into local lore.

Along the way, Jarman says, a few Viking veterans might have returned to a familiar haunt at an “old fortification”—perhaps, not by coincidence, the meaning of the root word for “Foremark.”

Even Foremark’s surroundings bear the echoes of encore. The names of nearby villages like Ingleby and Bretby contain similarities to old Norse words. And less than a mile away lies Heath Wood, the region’s only large-scale Viking cremation cemetery—an impractical investment for a single winter’s camp. “You don’t get those names, or a cemetery like that, unless you have a Scandinavian population putting down roots,” Jarman says.

“I think these Viking armies are the people who become the Scandinavian settlers,” she says. “They’ve been invisible in the archaeological record for a long time…but these armies eventually settled into the landscape. This might be how we find that missing link.”

New Discovery Finally Explains How The Egyptians Built Their Great Pyramids

Scientists Finally Discover Ancient Blueprints Showing How The Pyramids Were Built.

Built 4,500 years ago during Egypt’s Old Kingdom, the pyramids of Giza are more than elaborate tombs — they’re also one of the historians’ best sources of insight into how the ancient Egyptians lived since their walls are covered with illustrations of agricultural practices, city life, and religious ceremonies. But on one subject, they remain curiously silent. They offer no insight into how the pyramids were built.

It’s a mystery that has plagued historians for thousands of years, leading the wildest speculators into the murky territory of alien intervention and perplexing the rest. But the work of several archaeologists in the last few years has dramatically changed the landscape of Egyptian studies. After millennia of debate, the mystery might finally be over.

Researchers Discovered The Only First-Person Account Of The Great Pyramid’s Construction

A team of Egyptian and French scholars discovered a papyrus diary written by an official named Merer. What makes this discovery so compelling is that his diary is the world’s sole first-person description of how the Great Pyramid was built. Archaeologists found Merer’s papyrus in the Red Sea port of Wadi al-Jarf.

In his diary, Merer references working for “the noble Ankh-haf,” who was Pharaoh Khufu’s half-brother, and that he was in charge of about 40 men. These documents evidence that Ankh-haf was one of those in charge of the Great Pyramid’s construction.

The Pyramid’s Limestone Was Transported Via A System Of Canals

In Merer’s diary, he recounts how limestone quarried in Tura (about 12 miles south of Cairo) was transported by boat across the Nile River to Giza through specially built canals built by his team. One such vessel was unearthed at the bottom of the pyramids.

After traversing the river, the stone blocks were then deposited near the building site by workers using ropes. The blocks were further moved on tracks. The workers transported approximately 170,000 tons of limestone in this manner.

It’s believed a similar system was used to move granite from Aswan, which is located several hundred miles from Giza.

The Pyramid’s Stone Blocks Are Massively Heavy

Around 2550 B.C., Pharaoh Khufu started construction on the Great Pyramid at Giza. It is made up of approximately 2.3 million stone blocks. Each block is absolutely massive and weighs between 2.5 to 15 tons. When the Great Pyramid was built, it was reportedly 481 feet tall. Over time, the structure sunk a little into the desert and is now 455 feet tall.

The second pyramid was built about 30 years later by Khufu’s son, Pharaoh Khafre, who also constructed the Sphinx. Pharaoh Menkaure built the third, smallest, pyramid 30 years later, in approximately 2490 B.C. 

Egyptians Traveled Far To Mine Copper For The Tools To Cut The Stones For The Pyramids

The individuals who built the pyramids required strong tools to cut the stone for the pyramids. Workers mined copper across the Red Sea and transported it to the port of Wadi al-Jarf before it reached Giza. Pharaoh Khufu, also known as King Cheops, built the harbor about 111 miles from Suez – which is hundreds of miles from Giza. In addition to copper, the harbor was used to import other minerals for tool making.


Some Historians Believe The Pyramid Required 100,000 Workers

It’s impossible to agree upon an exact count of just how many people contributed to the building of the pyramids, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t educated hypotheses currently being postulated. According to Greek historian Herodotus, the pyramids were built by 100,000 workers, although many of today’s Egyptologists think the number is more likely between 20,000 and 30,000.

Famed Egyptologist, Zahi Hawass, believes around 36,000 ancient Egyptians built the pyramids based on their size, the size of the tombs, and the cemetery.

Other Historians Think Only 5,000 Workers Contributed To The Pyramid Building Process

Archeologist Mark Lehner of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and Harvard Semitic Museum has postulated a vastly smaller number. He noted that Herodotus wrote that 100,000 men worked in three shifts to build the structures. It’s unclear whether each shift contained 100,000 men or 33,000 men worked in each of the three shifts.

Lehner’s team conducted an experiment and calculated how many men would be needed to deliver 340 stones each day and determined there were likely 1,200 in the quarry and 2,000 delivering the stones. Other men would also be needed to cut the stones and set them into place. He concluded the process would have required “5,000 men to actually do the building and the quarrying and the schlepping from the local quarry” to build the pyramid within a 20-40 year period.

The Pyramids’ Alignment Points To An Alien Conspiracy

Some people believe the ancient Egyptians had some otherworld help creating the pyramids. One theory that conspiracy theorists have latched on to is that the pyramids were built by aliens. Their proof? They point out that the pyramids at Giza align with the stars in the sky that form Orion’s belt. In addition, these people believe that the Giza pyramids are in extraordinary shape compared to pyramids that were constructed hundreds of years later.

However, they don’t take into consideration the fact that the pyramids of Giza have undergone intense preservation over the years so it makes sense that they are in better condition than those that haven’t been touched. 

Dutch Physicists Believed The Ancient Egyptians Used Wet Sand To Drag The Blocks Across The Desert

In 2014, researchers from the University of Amsterdam and the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter conducted an experiment. They transported heavy stone on a sledge across the sand. They proved it was significantly easier to move the sledge on damp sand versus dry sand. In fact, the action required just half the force. The reason? Wet sand sticks to itself and is more solid than dry sand. Plus, damp sand doesn’t bunch up in front of a sledge while it’s moving. In addition, the researchers noted that a painting from an 1800 B.C. tomb depicted a worker dumping water on the sand to help a sledge moving a heavy statue.

Another Theory: The Stones Were Turned Into 12-Sided Polygons & Rolled To The Site

Dr. Joseph West of Indiana State University developed his own theory about how the stone blocks were moved to the pyramid’s construction site. In 2014, he suggested that builders might have secured wooden beams to a stone block, turning it into a dodecagon (a 12-sided object), which would have enabled workers to more easily move them, as opposed to dragging them. He wrote:

A novel method is proposed for moving large (pyramid construction size) stone blocks. The method is inspired by a well known introductory physics homework problem and is implemented by tying 12 identical rods of appropriately chosen radius to the faces of the block. The rods form the corners and new faces that transform the square prism into a dodecagon which can then be moved more easily by rolling than by dragging.

The Pyramid Were Actually Constructed From Concrete

French theorist Joseph Davidovits was on the right path. His ideas led to the discovery of concrete blocks that were used on top of the pyramids. Professor Michel Barsoum from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Drexel University tested Davidovits’s theory and determined several things. The stones both inside and outside the pyramid appeared to be “reconstituted” limestone.

The stones contained a lot of water and were amorphous, which is extremely unusual for limestone. Moreover, silicon dioxide nanoscale spheres were present in one sample, indicating the blocks were not “natural” limestone.

Barsoum noted: 

It’s very improbable that the outer and inner casing stones that we examined were chiseled from a natural limestone block.

Perhaps The Pyramids Were Built Inside Out

When it comes to placing the large stone blocks in place on the pyramids, many believe the ancient Egyptians used large ramps. Thousands of people would have been required to set two million blocks to make the structures.

In 2013, engineer Peter James, whose company spent nearly two decades restoring the pyramids, disputed that claim. He called it “impossible” because the ramps would have had to be about one-quarter mile long. Otherwise, they would be too steep to move the limestone and granite materials. Instead, James theorized that the workers crafted the inner core of the pyramid with smaller blocks using a series of zigzagging ramps.

Then they constructed scaffolding to complete the outer core with larger blocks. James told the Daily Mail:

Looking at the pyramids from a builder’s point of view, and not an archaeologist’s, it’s clear that the current theories are nonsense. Just look at the numbers. Under the current theories, to lay 2 million blocks, the Egyptians would have to have laid a large block once every three minutes.

It would have been impossible to build the pyramids using ramps around the outside, too, because they would have ended up being larger, in some cases, than the pyramids themselves. Plus, what happened to the ramps once the pyramids were finished? I believe the Egyptians built the pyramids like a modern-day builder builds a house.

American Indian Sailed to Europe With Vikings?

Did Native American travel with the Vikings and arrive in Iceland centuries before Columbus set sail?

Analyzing a type of DNA passed only from mother to child, scientists found more than 80 living Icelanders with a genetic variation similar to one found mostly in Native Americans.

This signature probably entered Icelandic bloodlines around A.D. 1000, when the first Viking-American Indian child was born, the study authors theorize.

Historical accounts and archaeological evidence show that Icelandic Vikings reached Greenland just before 1000 and quickly pushed on to what is now Canada. Icelanders even established a village in Newfoundland, though it lasted only a decade or so

But what is not known for certain is how a family of Icelanders came to have a genetic makeup which includes a surprising marker dating to 1000 A.D. — one which is found mostly in Native Americans.

In 2010, it was reported that the first Native Americans arrived on the continent of Europe sometime around the 11th century. The study, led by deCODE Genetics, a world-leading genome research lab in Iceland, discovered a unique gene that was present in only four distinct family lines.

The DNA lineage, which was named C1e, is mitochondrial, meaning that the genes were introduced by and passed down through a female.

Based on the evidence of the DNA, it has been suggested that a Native American, (voluntarily or involuntarily) accompanied the Vikings when they returned back to Iceland.

The woman survived the voyage across the sea, and subsequently had children in her new home. As of today, there are 80 Icelanders who have a distinct gene passed down by this woman.

Nevertheless, there is another explanation for the presence of the C1e in these 80 Icelanders. It is possible that the Native American genes appeared in Iceland after the discovery of the New World by Columbus.

It has been suggested that a Native American woman might have been brought back to mainland Europe by European explorers, who then found her way to Iceland.

Researchers believe that this scenario is unlikely, however, given the fact that Iceland was pretty isolated at that point of time.

Nevertheless, the only way to effectively eliminate this possibility is for scientists to find the remains of a pre-Columbian Icelander whose genes can be analyzed and shown to contain the C1e lineage.

Another problem facing the researchers is that the C1e genes might not have come from Native Americans but from some other part of the world.

For instance, no living Native American group has the exact DNA lineage as the one found in the 80 Icelanders. However, it may be that the Native American people who carried that lineage eventually went extinct.

One suggestion, which was proposed early in the research, was that the genes came from Asia. This was eventually ruled out, as the researchers managed to work out that the C1e lineage had been present in Iceland as early as the 18th century. This was long before the appearance of Asian genes in Icelanders.

If the discovery does prove ultimately that the Vikings took a Native American woman back to Iceland, then history would indeed have to be rewritten.

Although encounters with the Native Americans, known as Skraelings (or foreigners), were recorded by the Viking sagas, there is no mention whatsoever about the Vikings bringing a Native American woman home to Iceland with them.

Furthermore, the available archaeological record does not show any presence of a Native American woman in Iceland.

The more digging is done into the history of the Vikings, the more our perceptions are changing as to how they lived, traveled, and traded.

Hopefully, more light will be shed on this mystery over time, and the goings-on of the historic world can be unequivocally established, giving us a clearer understanding of our ancient past

World’s Oldest Christian Letter Found On 3rd Century Egyptian Papyrus

Oldest Known Christian Autograph Originates From Roman Egypt

Credit: University of Basel

Egypt played a very significant role in the history of early Christianity.

A researcher has announced that she has found the earliest known Christian letter, that was written in Roman Egypt in the 3rd century AD.

The contents of this letter are challenging assumptions about the early followers of Jesus Christ and their world.

Dated from circa 230s AD, the document P.Bas. 2.43 sheds light into the lives of the first Christians of the Roman Empire during a time when they were actively persecuted by the state authorities, especially in the urban areas. 

Intriguingly enough, the letter P.Bas. 2.43 paints a picture of how the Christians had it relatively better in Roman Egypt.

To that end, many of these Christians preferred to reside in the Egyptian hinterlands – where they tended to have political leadership and were able to follow a syncretic mode of religion combining both Christianity and native paganism.  

As for the actual contents of the document P.Bas. 2.43, dating from circa 230s AD, the letter is addressed from a man named Arrianus to his brother Paulus.

Eschewing the typical Greco-Roman greeting formula, it reports the family matters, puts forth a query for the best fish sauce as a souvenir, and then ends with the expressed wish that his brother will prosper “in the Lord.”

In essence, the ancient author uses the abbreviated form of the Christian phrase, also known as the nomen sacrum, “I pray that you farewell ‘in the Lord’”, thereby representing the Christian beliefs of the writer.

Credit: University of Basel

Such a form of greeting matches with the New Testament manuscripts rather than the Greco-Roman greeting template expected from the Roman-Egyptian author.

Furthermore, the very name Paulus (of the letter’s intended recipient) was very rare during the era. And interestingly, it suggests how parents were already beginning to name their children after the famed apostle Paul by as early as 200 AD. 

As for the historicity of the letter P.Bas. 2.43, prosopographical research carried out by experts at the University of Basel revealed that the document is around four to five decades older than the other known Christian letters from around the world.

Moreover, the letter, having its origins in the village of Theadelphia in central Egypt, also alludes to the social background of the author and the recipient and how they were members of an educated, provincial elite, possibly being landowners and even public officials. 

And lastly, as for the Basel papyrus collection, the compilation boasts around 65 documents of various origins, ranging from Ptolemaic, Roman, to Eastern Roman (Byzantine).

Most of them are composed of documentary papyri that provide context to the social, cultural, and religious scope of the era via the records of the daily lives of the people who lived around two millennia ago.