Category Archives: WORLD

The Sinister Roman Cavalry Helmet of the Ribchester Hoard

The Ribchester Helmet – An Ancient Roman artifact discovered by a 13-year-old boy while playing behind the house

Archeologists have uncovered some extraordinary artifacts over the past centuries that give us a glimpse of human history and help us to understand the many secrets of the ancient world.

Over the years there have been numerous archeological expeditions, some of which have resulted in historically significant discoveries.

Yet some of the most exciting finds have been made by non-professionals who stumbled upon them purely by accident. Such is the case with the famous Ribchester Helmet, discovered by chance in 1796.

We are all aware that England is rich with archaeological sites, historical monuments, and important artifacts, especially from the Roman era. Ribchester in the county of Lancashire is a lesser-known site of a Roman fort and settlement. The most famous among the many artifacts discovered in the area is the Ribchester Helmet.

What is today considered one of the most famous helmets from Ancient Rome was discovered by accident in 1796 by a 13-year-old clog maker’s son, who found it while playing behind his house. The helmet was part of a small hoard of metal items, most probably belonging to a Roman soldier from about 120 AD.

Discovered in the summer of 1796 by the son of Joseph Walton who was playing behind his father’s house in Ribchester, Lancashire.
Discovered in the summer of 1796 by the son of Joseph Walton who was playing behind his father’s house in Ribchester, Lancashire. 

This two-piece ceremonial helmet, worn by Roman cavalrymen during military exercises and during parades and other ceremonies, weighs nearly three pounds and was most likely of little or no practical use on the battlefield.

However, the Romans, who are known for engaging in a variety of sporting competitions, also used this type of helmet during the cavalry sports events known by the name of “hippika gymnasia,” where these helmets were used to mark ranks and excellence in horsemanship.

Although Julius Caesar first paid a visit to Britain in 55 BC, it actually took almost 100 years before Romans landed on the beaches in Kent to conquer Britain in 43 AD.

The Roman occupation influenced almost every sphere of life in Britain, including culture, language, geography, and architecture. They built many new roads, numerous settlements, and countless forts, including the one at Ribchester.

What we know today about this type of Roman helmet is mostly thanks to the accounts left by Arrian of Nicomedia, who was a provincial governor and a close friend of Emperor Hadrian. As written in his Techne Taktike, which focuses on the “hippika gymnasia,” the best soldiers wore these helmets in cavalry tournaments.

Only three Roman helmets with a covering over the face have been found in the UK.
Only three Roman helmets with a covering over the face have been found in the UK. 

Called Bremetennacum Veteranorum, the Roman settlement and fort in Ribchester was built during the reign of Emperor Vespasian in the early 70s AD.

Apart from the remains of Ribchester Roman Fort and the Roman bathhouse that can be seen today, there is also a Roman Museum where visitors can see a replica of the Ribchester Helmet.

The famous artifact is one of only three of its kind ever found in Britain, but it is considered to be the highest quality example. The second was found around 1905 and is now housed at the Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.

The third, known as the Crosby Garrett Helmet, was found in a field in 2010 by a metal detectorist who wants to remain anonymous. It was sold at auction for $3.6 million.

Since 1814, the original helmet is on display at the British Museum, but the Roman Museum in Ribchester has a replica. 

The Ribchester Helmet was clearly the most significant, but not the only artifact discovered back in 1796. The same hoard included many military and religious items, plates, pieces of a vase, and other items. It is believed that the finds that were placed there for over 16 centuries were in such good condition because they were covered in sand.

As mentioned above, you can see a replica of the Ribchester Helmet in the Roman Museum in Ribchester, and for those of you who want to see the original, you need to visit the British Museum in London, where the helmet has been on exhibition since 1814.

1,000-year-old Viking toilet uncovered in Denmark

1,000-year-old Viking toilet uncovered in Denmark

Did you ever wonder where the Vikings went for Toilet? Or perhaps you didn’t really think about it. We don’t always think about how it used to be with the world’s luxury today, especially a thousand years ago.

A 1000-year-old toilet dating back to the Viking age was found in Denmark in Stevns Municipality, in the town of Strøby on the farm called Toftegård.

This toilet seems to have been in a small house or maybe an outhouse. By using the carbon 14 method on the feces, it shows that it dates back to the Viking age, and therefore there is a big probability that this is the oldest toilet discovered in Denmark.

According to the Ph.D. student Anna S. Beck from the museum in southeast Denmark, this was a random discovery. She says, quote: We were looking for small houses called grubehuse, which are small workshop cabins, on the surface, it looked like them, but we soon figured out that it was something else.

We know of outhouses from the late Viking age and from the early middle ages, but not from villages or farms. People just thought that they used their feces as manure in the fields or just used the stable where they had their animals. The logic behind this is, that people in the cities just wanted to get rid of it, but in the country, it was a resource to grow their crops. So I got very surprised when the results from the samples came back.

There could be more of these discoveries to be uncovered in Denmark, but it could also be one of a kind discovery. According to Anna, the people in this community might have been inspired by the people in the Mediterranean, after an expedition, and built a version of it when they returned home.

According to Anna S. Beck, Archaeologist could have overlooked finds like these in the past, because they didn’t think toilets existed outside the cities. In the results from analyzing the feces, they found traces of honey, which is something animals rarely eat, especially in the same spot for years. If the Vikings ate bread with honey or drank mead is unclear, but there was definitely pollen from honey in the soil.

The Vikings were not the only ones who loved honey, even the Danes today are still in love with their sweet honey, and lucky for the Danes they live in the country with the worlds best honey, at least according to a big beekeeping conference in Istanbul in Turkey last year.

Personally, I always buy the Danish brand, not just because of its quality, but also because it is important to support your local farms, but I don’t brew mead nor do I put it on a piece of bread, I like it in my tea, taste much better than sugar.

Anyway back to the subject, it seems that this farm was not just an ordinary farm, but a big farm with a wealthy community and a community with a high status.

Their living quarters were a big hall 10 x 40 meters, and it seems that they have been living there for generations, because there were 4 other great halls close by, which dates further back. While this seems to have a community of high status, it was not on the level as Gammel Lejre.

As Anna says the Vikings did not pick their house from a catalog, which of course makes sense, and I would love to see what kind of gifts our soil has in store for us in the future. Just like there are variations in how the Vikings practiced their faith and which Gods and Goddesses were important to them, there also has to be some differences in their architecture.

Not all the Archaeologist agree with Anna S. Beck, and she has generally met resistance to the idea. Some Archaeologist thinks that the excrements could have been put in the hole by other means, and not necessarily have been a Viking toilet.

According to Anna the thought that excrements were used in the fields requires, that the people had a modern and rational ratio to their life.

We know that In other cultures all over the world, the treatment of excrements has been complicated cultural, as well as social, rules and taboos. By looking at the toilet culture we can learn a lot from their standards and rules within their society.

We know that people and animals lived together under the same roof for more than 1000 years in Scandinavia. But in the late Viking age, the people and the animals started to distance themselves from each other. The people might have changed their habits and not just walked into the stable and sit among the animals.

Since the excavation started in 1995, and only a third of the area 47.000 m2 of more than 160.000 m2 has been investigated, there might be more treasures from the past, laying in the soil ready to be discovered.

London archaeology dig: Skeletons reveal noxious environs in early industrial Britain

Skeletons found in London archaeology dig reveal noxious environs

News reports and social media anxiety may make us feel that life is tough in Britain today but the extraordinary findings of a new archaeological excavation have provided a salutary reminder that, a couple of centuries ago, it was so much worse.

Archeologists working on a burial site at the New Covent Garden market in south-west London in the early 19th century, where about 100 bodies were found, said they contained evidence of arduous working conditions, a harmful environment, endemic diseases, physical deformities, malnutrition, and deadly violence.

Between the 1830s and 1850s, the burials offer an extraordinary glimpse of life in early industrial London. They show the hardness of life that Charles Dickens so acutely described in his classic novels for the industrial poor.

One of the skeletons’ hands showed signs of bare-knuckle fighting.
One of the skeletons’ hands showed signs of bare-knuckle fighting. 

The skeletal remains of those who might have been Dickens’ subjects, who could be deemed among the first “modern” Londoners, have been uncovered by Wessex Archaeology during the excavation of part of a cemetery originally situated on the site of New Covent Garden Market in Nine Elms.

The skull of a female who died as a result of a stab wound to the head. Photograph: Wessex Archaeology
The skull of a female who died as a result of a stab wound to the head. Photograph: Wessex Archaeology

The cemetery was attached to the church of St George the Martyr.

The site had been partially cleared in the 1960s, just before the new market was built, having relocated from its original setting in central London.

Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy, senior osteoarchaeologist at Wessex Archaeology, told the Guardian these were people who had led “a life of drudgery and just-about surviving”. This part of the capital saw a particularly dramatic change from rural market gardens to a heavily industrialized and urbanized environment over just a few years, she said.

“All of a sudden, the world changes and there [are] hideous factories and noxious gases … Gasworks, big railway depots, a lot of construction work.”She added: “The surrounding assortment of noxious, dangerous and labor-intensive industries would have made for very poor working and living conditions, although great numbers of people continued to flock to the area to take advantage of work opportunities.

Most of those trying to survive in and around the area would have been classed as poor or very poor.”The burials reveal high levels of chronic infections, including endemic syphilis.

Three burials in particular offer fascinating insights. One of them reveals a woman who had suffered lifelong congenital syphilis and had led a strenuous working life that involved heavy use of her upper arms and shoulders.

She had a broken nose and a wound to her skull, suggesting she had been murdered. Archaeologists believe that she was attacked, probably from behind, stabbed in the right ear with a thin blade, like a stiletto dagger.

In another burial, a man who was once nearly six feet tall was found. He would have had a distinctive look. A flattened nose and a depression on his left brow suggest “several violent altercations”, the archaeologists say. Bare-knuckle fighting was a popular pastime – he died before the adoption of Queensberry Rules that required boxing gloves – and his knuckles show signs of such fights.

Egging Dinwiddy said that “he would have had a less-than-winning smile” as both front teeth had been lost, probably due to an enormous cyst on the roof of his mouth. He also suffered from syphilis.

About 40% of the burials were of children under the age of 12, reflecting high infant mortality rates of the time. One of the burials has added poignancy because it has a coffin plate revealing the name of Jane Clara Jay, who died on 18 March 1847, just before her second birthday.

She was the daughter of Sarah Jay and her labourer husband, George James Jay, of Nine Elms. Archaeologists found signs of underlying malnutrition, but the exact cause of her death is unclear.

New Covent Garden market is the UK’s largest fresh-produce market. Its 175 businesses employ more than 2,500 people. In partnership with Vinci St Modwen, it is undergoing major redevelopment with new buildings and facilities.

Archaeologists were taken aback by the sheer number of burials beneath what was a car park. They thought that the site of the original cemetery had been completely cleared in the 1960s. Finds from the New Covent Garden project will be shown as part of Digging for Britain on BBC.

60,000 skeletons buried in a green area of ​​London have been excavated

Mass dig of 60,000 skeletons from 230-year-old cemetery set to expose London’s secrets

A mammoth dig is ongoing that is expected to Unearth 60,000 skeletons from a London cemetery that is 230 years old.

To date, 1,200 people’s bones have been exhumed from the burial ground near Euston Station to make way for the new high-speed railway between Birmingham and the capital.

The major dig show archeologists recently released photos clearing thick clay from coffins and brushing the dirt from remains. They are part of an archeological team on the 150-mile HS2 route that is currently delving into 10,000 years of British history.

Field archaeologists work on the excavation of a late 18th to mid-19th-century cemetery under St James Gardens near Euston train station in London, as part of the HS2 high-speed rail project. – Tucked behind one of London’s busiest railway stations, a small army of archaeologists shovel thick clay as they clear a vast burial site to make way for a new train line.  

Land at St James’s Gardens – the former site of a late 18th and 19th-century burial ground – is needed for Euston’s expansion. With tens of thousands of skeletons to be removed, protests and a memorial service have been held at the site where people were laid to rest from 1790 to 1853.

HS2 project bosses say that an estimated 60,000 people are buried there, including notable people such as Lord George Gordon, who in 1780 called for the repeal of the Catholic Relief Act and a return to the repression of Catholics.

A field archaeologist uses a brush on a skeleton in an open coffin during the excavation of a late 18th to mid-19th-century cemetery under St James Gardens near Euston train station in London as part of the HS2 high-speed rail project. 

He led a 60,000-strong crowd from St George’s Fields to the Houses of Parliament, which prompted anti-Catholic riots. Also buried at St James’s Garden is Matthew Flinders, one of the world’s most accomplished navigators who was born in England, entered the navy at the age of 15 and served with Captain Bligh.

After sailing for Australia just five years later, he made detailed surveys of the country’s coastline and islands – becoming the first person to circumnavigate it.

Machines have been used to remove the topsoil, stopping once coffins or human remains are exposed. Archaeologists then carry out further excavation by hand.HS2 bosses said that “all artifacts and human remains will be treated with due dignity, care and respect.”

They have been working with Historic England, the Church of England and the local parish to “put appropriate plans in place for reburial”.

A London Inheritance said that it was “unusual for a public park and an old burial ground to disappear, however, this has been the fate of St James’s Gardens.“It will be a major task for the exhumation and reburial of such a large number of bodies.”

The website has photos of the gardens, to record “a historic space that will soon be lost from the landscape of London forever.”Research will be carried out into how cemeteries have developed, and the burial practice in terms of the treatment of bodies and coffins compared to other excavation sites.

A planning document on this and other planned digs said that: “St James’s seems to represent a typical late post-Medieval London cemetery… but on its own is unlikely to provide significant insights.”So far, sites along the rail route have revealed Neolithic tools, medieval pottery, and Victorian time capsules.

In total, more than a thousand archaeologists are set to explore more than 60 separate sites, from prehistoric and Roman settlements to those from the Industrial Revolution and the Second World War.

Mark Thurston, HS2 chief executive, said: “Before we bore the tunnels, lay the tracks and build the stations, an unprecedented amount of archaeological research is now taking place between London and Birmingham.”This is the largest archaeological exploration ever in Britain, employing a record number of skilled archaeologists and heritage specialists from across the UK and beyond.”

Archaeological sites being investigated along the route include a prehistoric hunter-gatherer site on the outskirts of London, a Roman British town in Fleet Marston, Aylesbury, a 1,000-year-old demolished medieval church and burial ground in Buckinghamshire and a WW2 bombing decoy in Lichfield.

Ancient Indian Temple Finally Uncovered After Decades of Being Submerged in Reservoir

Ancient Indian Temple Finally Uncovered After Decades of Being Submerged in Reservoir

A decade ago, the waters of the Udyasamudram reservoir at Panagal in India’s Nalgonda district engulfed the Sri Shambulingeshwara Swamy temple.

Today, this stunningly beautiful temple, built in the 11th or 12th century AD and dedicated to Lord Shiva, re-emerges as the waters of the reservoir slowly subside.

Archaeologists were pleased to see that the temple is still in one piece, with its magnificent and detailed carvings as beautiful as when last seen. 

The intricate carvings show details as minuscule as the jewelry worn by the dancers and their facial expressions, sure to delight thousands of future visitors.

Sadly, the 23 shrines in the temple have all been stripped of the gems that adorned them, an example of the looting of ancient tombs and shrines that is so prevalent.

The ceilings and walls of the temple show a Perini Dance.  Though the carvings show female dancers, the Perini Dance was traditionally undertaken by warriors before Lord Shiva as they set off for battle. 

The ceremony originated during the Kakatiya dynasty in the area of the Telangana, which corresponds to the age of this temple.  The beautiful carvings inspired the resurrection of this form of dance.

Sambhu Lingeswara-Swami Temple-in-Mellacheruvu.
Sambhu Lingeswara-Swami Temple-in-Mellacheruvu. 

The director of Archaeology and Museums for the Government of Telangana has decided that the entire temple will be dismantled and moved to a safe location at the Panagal Museum before the waters rise again in the reservoir. 

In addition to dismantling and moving the temple, they will also move 12 columns and several loose sculptures found in the same area. 

The sculptures found relate to a Nandi (the bull that served as a mount for Lord Shiva), Lord Vinayaka (depicted with the head of an elephant), and other Hindu deities.

Lord Shiva, to whom this temple is dedicated, is one of the Hindu trinity of Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu.  Lord Shiva is the destroyer and transformer and is most often depicted with the symbols that identify him. 

These icons include a snake around his neck, a third eye on his forehead, matted hair with the River Ganges flowing from it, a crescent moon upon his head, a trishula or trident, and a damaru (an instrument with two beads on leather cords that make a sound against a small hourglass shaped drum when it is swung from side to side).

The temple has a very romantic legend associated with it.  The legend states that before the temple was built, a cow herder saw one of his cows empty her udder over a rock. 

He was very angry and broke the rock into eleven pieces and threw them away.  The next day he found that the rock had been reassembled, so he took his story to the local ruler, who recognized that this was a Shiva Linga, and ordered a temple to be built around it. 

Swamy temple that had submerged under Udyasamudram reservoir a decade ago at Panagal in Nalgonda district.
Swamy temple that had submerged under Udyasamudram reservoir a decade ago at Panagal in Nalgonda district. 

The temple contains a circular hole of around 2 inches across which has water running through it all year round.  This feature denotes this as a Swayam Abhisheka Linga, or self-purifying linga.

The Hindu festival of Maha Shivaratri is celebrated annually in late winter–February or March–in honor of Lord Shiva. This “Great Night of Shiva” is celebrated by keeping an all-night vigil at a temple dedicated to Shiva, accompanied by meditation.

Relocating this beautiful temple will save it from being submerged in the waters of the reservoir when they rise again.  It will also bring attention to an important Hindu temple and a stunning example of the work undertaken by Katatiyan artists.

‘Oldest Roman library Discovered Beneath German City’ unearthed by Cologne archaeologist

‘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.

archaeologists discovered a Roman-era structure with mysterious niches near a Protestant church in Cologne, Germany.
Archaeologists discovered a Roman-era structure with mysterious niches near a Protestant church in Cologne, Germany.

“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.

archaeologists discovered a Roman-era structure with mysterious niches near a Protestant church in Cologne, Germany.
The niches are similar to those found in the Roman-era library discovered in Ephesus, Turkey.

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.”

Archaeologists unearthed a Roman-era library in the heart of Cologne, Germany.

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.”

Archaeology world: Archaeologists unearth Roman road in the Netherlands

Archaeologists unearth Roman road in the Netherlands

Archaeologists unearth Roman road in the Netherlands
The dig is metres away from a main road

Archeologists in the Netherlands have discovered a 2,000-year-old stretch of Roman road and the remains of a Roman village in the town of Katwijk, which once marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire.

The road is 125 meters (410 ft) long and lies close to a busy highway in the Valkenburg suburb. The Roman village comes complete with a canal and burial ground, the Omroep West regional broadcaster reports.

Province of South Holland asked archeologists to examine the entire area where the new RijnlandRoute bypass is to run, aware of the local Roman legacy and anxious to preserve any finds.

At the mouth of the Old Rhine River, which still flows through Katwijk, Emperor Claudius built the city of Lugdunum Batavorum, and ships would sail to Britain from there.

But no one expected to find such well-preserved remains in Katwijk itself.

‘ Great surprise’

“The extent to which the Roman road is complete is a great surprise”, the province says on its official website.

Even the tall oak piles that stood alongside the road to stop it from subsiding are in remarkably good condition. Archaeologists reckon the road was built in about the year 125 CE, during the reign of Emperor Hadrian.

Roman building material with paint and plaster intact
Roman building material with paint and plaster intact

The dig also uncovered pottery, leather footwear, coins, a fish trap and other household objects, but the rarest find is a piece of building material with fragments of plaster and paint still intact after two millennia.

The excavation will take another few weeks, and the archaeologists should complete their study of the site by end of the year. The public will be allowed to visit the dig on 13 October – Archaeology Day in the Netherlands.

World Heritage

Work on the new road is due to start in the second half of 2019 but will not disturb the site, the provincial authorities promise. The most important finds from the dig will go on display at the RijnlandRoute’s information centre, and this may not be the end of the story.

The excavations are part of the Lower German Limes – the old northern border of the Roman Empire – which the Netherlands has nominated for special UN international status, the Rheinische Post reported earlier in the year.

If the application is successful, the old boundary that runs from Bad Breisig in Germany to Katwijk – including the Roman road – will become a World Heritage Site.

The UN’s World Heritage Committee is to consider the bid in 2021.

Chief archaeologist Jeroen Loopik with an oak pile that stopped the road from subsiding

Archeologists find 60 Roman British skeletons buried in field

Archeologists find 60 Roman British skeletons buried in a field

On the site of a Roman cemetery in Lincolnshire, archeologists found the remains of 60 human burials.

Men, women and children were discovered and a tomb even included a lamb leg for the deceased to take them to the afterlife.

Grave goods found by Lincoln-based Allen Archaeology also include pots, bracelets, and bangles. The burials are believed to date from the 2nd to the 4th century AD and some were in coffins and others wrapped in shrouds.

Archeologists find 60 Roman British skeletons buried in a field
One of the skeletons found at Winterton

Three Roman villas or farmsteads have previously been found near the dig site off North Street, Winterton, which is just outside Scunthorpe. And it was Roman tradition to place burial grounds outside of towns and villages to avoid pollution.

The Romans founded a settlement nearby called Ad Abum, at modern-day Winteringham on the south bank of the River Humber.

This was where the Roman Road between London and Lincoln – Ermine Street – ended.

The graves at Winterton
The graves at Winterton 

Travelers in Roman times would have crossed the river at low tide or by ferry to Brough for the road to York and as far north as Hadrian’s Wall.

The cemetery site is set to be developed as 135 homes by house-builder Keigar Homes, pending planning permission.

Natasha Powers, senior manager at Allen Archaeology, said: “In the previous phases of work, we did the geophysical survey and a trench evaluation in 2014/15.

“We could not tell the extent of the cemetery. We found it seemed larger than we expected.”We know some of the burials were in coffins. One of the skeletons was buried with a whole leg of lamb.”We have men, women and children out of these graves. We have found a little pot and some bracelets and bangles.

We have two different types of burial rites – a lot of substantial coffin burials and people in shrouds.”Does this represent different dates, personal choice or different groups of people? We think it is date-related as the rites have changed.

“It’s very organized burials in rows, it’s an enclosed area and it’s clearly a cemetery.”The team will be on site for a few more weeks. Finds will be fully analyzed and a report produced.

Finds from the cemetery at Winterton 

Natasha added: “Where the people buried here related and where had they come from? We have a chance to look at some of the population of the area in Roman times and we now have some information on what would have been growing in the fields around here.”