Archaeologists find teenager’s bones in ‘Massacre Cave’ where up to 400 members of Scottish MacDonald clan were wiped out in 16th Century feud with rival MacLeods
Archaeologists have confirmed that bones found at Massacre Cave on Eigg are those of a teenager.
Tourists discovered in the cave about 50 bones, the scene of last year’s mass killing of Macdonald clan members in the late 16th century. The bones dated between 1430 and 1620 were suggested by initial tests, potentially placing them at the time of the massacre that wiped out almost the entire population of the island.
Dr. Kirsty Owen, senior archaeology manager at Historic Environment Scotland, said further analysis has now confirmed the bones belonged to a single skeleton of an adolescent aged under 16.
It has not been possible to determine their sex or stature, Dr. Owen added.
Further tests are to be carried out at Bradford University to shed more light on the diet and lifestyle of the person whose remains have been found.
Results of a post-excavation analysis carried out at the cave are now being finalized with further radio-carbon dates from materials due soon.HES plans to return the remains to Eigg once all investigations have been completed.
Dr. Owen added: “When the post-excavation analysis has been completed we will discuss what happens next with the community on Eigg. The decision will be made jointly with them.”
Police were called to the cave, also known as Francis Cave, last October following the discovery of the remains.No proactive searches have been made for further remain given the cave is now treated as a war grave.
The massacre on the island occurred around 1577, Up to 400 Macdonalds is said to have been killed by their Macleod rivals in one of Scotland’s most chilling episodes of clan warfare.
According to accounts, the murders were carried out after 3 young Macleod men were expelled from Eigg and tied up on their boats after seemingly harassing a number of local girls.
After the men returned to the Macleod seat of power at Dunvegan on Skye, retaliation was planned with the clan organising a trip to EiggThe Macdonalds, aware of the approaching Macleods, hid in a large cave, now known as Massacre Cave, in the south of the island for some time.
The Macleods then lit a large fire of turf and ferns at the entrance of the cave with the smoke suffocating those insides. Only one family managed to escape, it is said.
Archaeologists working at the site of Scotland’s largest Pictish fort have made an “incredible” discovery after unearthing part of the power center’s defensive wall.
The discovery has been made at Burghead in Moray, the largest known fort of its kind in northern Britain which is believed to have been occupied by the elite of Pictish society more than 1,000 years ago.
Around 10 feet of rampart wall has been unearthed with preserved pieces of timber lacing, which strengthens the structure, also found. It is now known that the wall dates to the 8th Century – putting it right at the heart of the Pictish period.
Dr. Gordon Noble, head of archaeology at Aberdeen University, who is leading the work at Burghead said it was an “incredible” find. He added: “What a sight to see the rampart revealed for the first time in over 1000 years.“It’s very impressive.
Probably one of the best-preserved ramparts of this type.“It really reinforces the huge investment in resources that was undertaken to construct the fort at Burghead.
The timber lacing is one of the best preserved in Europe.“Unfortunately, it is also under huge threat from coastal erosion with meters lost to the sea in the last few decades.
The Wallface now stands around a meter from an active erosion face.“Historic Environment Scotland is providing funding to help record as much as we can before the erosion gets worse.”
It is believed the site at Burghead may been one of the most important elite settlements of the Kingdom of Fortriu which was the Pictish overkingship from the 7th century onwards.
Dr. Noble, who has led excavations at Burghead since 2015, said the picture of life at the fort and village was “getting clearer” but that a lot of work still needed to be done.“We now know a little about the architecture of the buildings inside, but not how many there were and need to know more about the phasing of the site,” he added.
The stretch of the wall now unearthed at Burghead contains several beam slots that supported the wooden structure of the fort.Dr. Noble said “abundant charcoal” had been recovered during the excavation indicating that the fort was destroyed by fire.
It has long been thought the fort was razed to the ground around the time Vikings were launching raids along the Moray coast. However, the act of destruction has actually preserved some of the wooden remains with charcoal deposits helping to date the structure more accurately.
Important finds made at the site include the Burghead Bull carvings and an underground well, both which were found in the 1800sIt was thought that much of the site was destroyed when a new town was built on the site of the fort in the 19th Century but Dr. Noble and colleagues have since found remains of a Pictish longhouse, coins, and pottery.
Archeologists believe Norway find is rare Viking ship burial
Archeologists believe they have found a rare Viking ship burial site in a region of Norway known for its Viking-era treasures, Norwegian officials said Monday.
Using ground-penetrating radar (GPR), experts found a ship-shaped anomaly near other Viking burial mounds in the Borre Park in Vestfold county, southeast of Oslo.”
The GPR data clearly show the shape of a ship, and we can see weak traces of a circular depression around the vessel.
This could point to the existence of a mound that was later removed,” Terje Gansum, leader of the department for cultural heritage management in Vestfold county, said in a statement.
He said researchers would carry out further investigations to try and assess the size of the preserved find.
There are only seven ship burials dating from the Viking Age (800-1050) in Europe, including three located in Vestfold county.
Another Viking ship burial was believed to have been found in Jellestad in southeastern Norway last year.
During the Viking era, when Norse seafarers raided and traded from their Northern European homelands across wide areas of Europe, high-ranking officials were sometimes buried in a ship on land, along with decorative goods and even oxen or horse remains, then covered with a mound of dirt.”
The discovery of a new Viking ship in Vestfold is a historic event that will attract international attention,” Norwegian Climate and Environment Minister Ola Elvestuen said.
A rock-cut tomb dating back to the late Pharaonic Graeco-Roman period has been discovered by Egyptian-Italian archeological mission working in the Aga Khan Mausoleum area in Aswan.
Mostafa Waziri, the general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, explains that the mission found inside the tomb parts of a painted wooden coffin.
Also discovered were fragments of another coffin adorned with a complete text that includes the name of the owner, identified as Tjt, and an invocation to the gods of the First Cataract; Khnum, Satet and Anuket, as well as Hapy, the Nile god.
Ayman Ashmawy, the head of the antiquities ministry’s ancient Egypt department, told Ahram Online that the tomb consists of a stairway partly flanked by sculpted blocks leading to the funerary chambers.
The entrance was sealed by a stone wall found in its original place over the stairway.
Patrizia Piacentini, the head of the mission, said that the mission also found many amphorae and offering vases, as well as a funerary structure containing 4 mummies and food vessels.
Also found were 2 mummies, likely of a mother and her child, still covered by painted cartonnage.
A round-topped coffin was excavated from the rock floor. In the main room were around 30 mummies, including young children who were deposited in a long lateral niche.“
Leaning against the north wall of the room was an amazing intact stretcher made of palm wood and linen strips, used by the people who deposited the mummies in the tomb,” Piacentini told Ahram Online .
At the entrance of the room were vessels containing bitumen for mummification, white cartonnage ready to be painted and a lamp.
On the right and left sides of the door, many beautiful colored and gilded cartonnages, fragments of funerary masks painted with gold and a well preserved statuette of the Ba-bird, representing the soul of the deceased, still presenting all the details of the decoration have been found.
The mission has mapped around 300 tombs dating from the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD, located in the area surrounding the Mausoleum of the Aga Khan, on the west bank of the Nile in Aswan.
Long-lost shipwreck found off Victorian coast, 77 years after being torpedoed by Japanese submarine in WWII
The wreckage of an Australian freight ship sunk by a Japanese submarine during World War II has been uncovered by archaeologists off the coast of Victoria.
The ore freighter SS Iron Crown sank within 60 seconds in June 1942 after it was hit by a torpedo while travelling through Bass Strait, killing 38 people.
The shipwreck was discovered by marine archaeologists aboard CSIRO research vessel Investigator, using sonar equipment and a special drop camera.
Maritime archaeologist at Heritage Victoria Peter Harvey said he hoped the discovery would bring closure to the families of the seamen who died.”The ship is in a really good state of preservation, although I’m pretty sure the stern of it, where it was hit by the torpedo, was pretty broken up,” he said.”
The archaeology of these sites enables us to finally find out what happened and why it happened.”
It tells us the human story of the wreck.”SS Iron Crown was a 100-metre-long freighter that was chartered by BHP to transport ore from Whyalla in South Australia to Newcastle in New South Wales.
There were 43 crew from the Australian Merchant Navy on board, but only five sailors survived.
According to the Heritage Council of Victoria, the survivors managed to grab lifejackets, jump clear of the ship and cling to wreckage until they were rescued by SS Mulbera.”
There were roughly 13 Japanese submarines operating on the Australian coast around that time that resulted in quite a number of casualties that nobody really knew about until well after the war,” Mr Harvey said.”
“The loss of 40 lives is a terrible thing in any measure, but I think if it had been common knowledge at the time, I think Australians would’ve been quite alarmed.
I don’t think the majority of the population was aware that there was so much enemy activity off the coast of south-eastern Australia.”
Voyage chief scientist Emily Jateff from the Australian National Maritime Museum said the shipwreck was found 100 kilometres off the Victorian coastline.”The wreck of Iron Crown appears to be relatively intact and the ship is sitting upright on the seafloor in about 700 metres of water,” she said.”
We have mapped the site and surrounding sea floor using sonar, but have also taken a lot of close-up vision of the ship structure using a drop camera.”
Ms Jateff said it was an important discovery.
“The fact that so many lives were lost … was something that hit home with all crew working onboard Investigator.”
The finding has been reported to the Australian Government and a memorial service will be planned for the site.
One of the saddest’ parts of seaman’s life
Tasmanian man George Fisher worked on the Iron Crown as a deck boy when he was 18 and was one of the five survivors.
He was the last surviving crew member before his death in 2012. In an interview with the Australians at War Film Archive in 2003, Mr. Fisher was asked whether the sinking of the Iron Crown haunted him.”
No, not really,” he said.
“At times I get sort of upset when I sort of think of it.
That’s a very sad part of my life, perhaps. One of the saddest.”His partner Lorraine Silvester said she was emotional when she heard about the discovery.”George was so passionate about having his shipmates remembered,” she said.”
It’s a pity it wasn’t found before he died.”Ms Silvester said Mr Fisher had been coming up from below deck when he heard a terrible explosion.”
He grabbed the life jacket and he was calling to all the others to get out, get out,” she said.”They knew the ship was going down. He jumped overboard, and it was the life jacket that saved him.”Mr Fisher kept in touch with the other survivors, including his close friend Bruce Miel from Adelaide.
Before Mr. Fisher died, he organized a plaque to be placed near the cenotaph in Mallacoota in Victoria to honor his shipmates.
A Massive Roman Villa Has Been Found In Oxfordshire, England
In Oxfordshire, the second largest Roman villa ever found in England, the remains of a huge Roman villa dating back to 99 AD have been discovered.
As part of a four-month excavation project, archeologists excavated the remains of the historic building, which is believed to be larger than the Taj Mahal mausoleum.
The foundation measures 278 feet by 278 feet. The findings so far include coins and boar tusks alongside a sarcophagus that contains the skeletal remains of an unnamed woman.
“Amateur detectorist and historian Keith Westcott discovered the ancient remains beneath a crop in a field near Broughton Castle near Banbury,” according to HiTech.
Westcott, 55, decided to investigate the site after hearing that a local farmer, John Taylor, had plowed his tractor into a large stone in 1963. Taylor said he saw a hole had been made in the stone and when he reached inside, he pulled out a human bone.
This was the woman’s body — experts believe she died in the 3rd century. The land previously belonged to Lord and Lady Saye and Sele, the parents of Martin Fiennes, who now owns the land.
The Daily Mail reports that Martin Fiennes “works as a principal at Oxford Sciences Innovation and is the second cousin of British explorer Ranulph Fiennes and third cousin of actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes.”
According to the Daily Mail, Westcott had a “eureka moment” when he found “a 1,800 year-old tile from a hypocaust system, which was an early form of central heating used in high-status Roman buildings.”
Using X-ray techniques such as magnetometry, the walls, room outlines, ditches, and other infrastructures were revealed. The villa’s accommodation would have included a bath-house with a domed roof, mosaics, a grand dining room, and kitchens.
The largest Roman villa previously found in England is the Fishbourne Palace in West Sussex, which dates back to 75 AD.
The palace at Fishbourne was one of the most noteworthy structures in Roman Britain. Only discovered in the 1960s, the site has been extensively excavated, revealing that it was originally a military site. Lying close to the sea, Fishbourne was ideal as a depot to support Roman campaigns in the area.
Built on four sides around a central garden, the site covered about two hectares, which is the size of two soccer fields. The building itself had about 100 rooms, many with mosaics. The best-known mosaic is the Cupid on a Dolphin. Some of the red stones are made from pieces of red gloss pottery, most likely imported from Gaul.
The Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD, during the reign of Claudius. For the Claudian invasion, an army of 40,000 professional soldiers — half citizen-legionaries, half auxiliaries recruited on the wilder fringes of the empire — were landed in Britain under the command of Aulus Plautius.
Archaeologists debate where they landed. It could have been Richborough in Kent, Chichester in Sussex, or perhaps both. Somewhere, perhaps on the River Medway, they fought a great battle and defeated the Catuvellauni, the tribe that dominated the southeast.
By the middle of 3rd century AD, however, the boom was over, and the focus was defense. Walls were built around the towns, transforming them into fortresses. Inside the complexes, a slow decline began.
Public buildings were boarded up and old mansions crumbled. By about 425 AD at the latest, Britain had ceased to be in any sense Roman. Towns and villas had been abandoned, and barter had replaced the money.
Angry Alaskans burned a village to the ground and executed 28 inhabitants by tying them up and knifing them in the head ‘in a feud over a darts game’ in the mid 17th Century
Archeologists have uncovered in Alaska a 350-year-old massacre that took place during a war that might have started over a game of dart. The discovery reveals the gruesome ways in which people were executed in a city and confirms part of a legend passed down by the Yup’ik people over the centuries.
A recent excavation in the town of Agaligmiut (which today is often called Nunalleq) has uncovered the remains of 28 peoples who died during the massacre and 60,000 well-preserved artifacts.
Agaligmiut had a large interconnected complex designed to facilitate defense, said Rick Knecht and Charlotta Hillerdal, both archeology lecturers at Aberdeen University in Scotland who lead the site excavation team.
“We found that it had been burned down and the top was riddled with arrow points,” Knecht told Live Science. Some of the 28 people found “had been tied up with grass rope and executed,” said Knecht, adding that “they were face down and some of them had holes in the back of their skulls from [what] looks like a spear or an arrow.”
When exactly the massacre occurred is not certain, though Knecht said the complex was constructed sometime between A.D. 1590 and 1630. It was destroyed by an attack and fire sometime between 1652 and 1677, he added.
The start of war?
The massacre occurred during what historians called the “bow and arrow wars,” a series of conflicts in Alaska during the 17th century. According to one Yup’ik legend, the conflict started during a game of darts when one boy accidently hit another in the eye with a dart.
The father of the injured boy knocked out both eyes of the boy who caused the injury, the story goes. Then, a relative of the boy who had both eyes knocked out retaliated, the conflict escalating as other family members of the two boys got involved.
The dart-game melee eventually resulted in a series of wars across Alaska and the Yukon.”There’s a number of different tales,” Knecht said, adding that “what we do know is that the bow and arrow wars were during a period of time [called] the little ice age, where it went from quite a bit warmer than it is now to quite a bit colder in a very short period of time.” The colder weather may have caused a food shortage that could have triggered the conflict, Knecht said.
Massacre at Agaligmiut
Stories passed down over the centuries tell how the people of Agaligmiut, led by a man called Pillugtuq, put together a war party and went to attack another village that went by various names, including Pengurmiut and Qinarmiut.
The people of this other village had prior warning of the war party, and they ambushed the fighters, killing or scattering all their warriors.
There are a number of stories about the ambush. In one story, women from the other village dressed up to look like men and participated in the ambush, using bows and arrows to attack the war party. Another story says that, shortly before the war party left Agaligmiut, a shaman warned Pillugtuq that Agaligmiut would be reduced to ashes, a warning that Pillugtuq ignored.
After the ambush, warriors from the other village proceeded to Agaligmiut, killed its inhabitants and burned Agaligmiut down. Since most of the men of fighting age were with the war party that had been ambushed, the slaughter consisted of mostly women, children and old men.
Archaeological discoveries confirm this, as the 28 bodies consist mostly of women, children and older men. “There was only one male of fighting age,” Knecht said.
Before the massacre
About 60,000 well-preserved artifacts tell what life was like at Agaligmiut before the massacre. The artifacts include dolls, figurines, wooden dance masks and grass baskets.
The permafrost kept the artifacts exceptionally preserved, Hillerdal said. “It’s amazing, a lot of these things could just be used today. Sometimes, we find the wood still bright and not even darkened by age,” Knecht said.
Wooden dance masks are some of the most interesting artifacts. “Oftentimes they depict a person turning into an animal or an animal turning into a person,” Knecht said.
The figurines and dolls were used for a variety of purposes, including religious rituals and as toys. A team from the 3DVisLab at the University of Dundee in Scotland has been using an Artec Space Spider scanner, which they acquired from Patrick Thorn & Co, to create highly detailed 3D scans of the artifacts.
The scans will be digitized into an education package to help students learn about the artifacts at Agaligmiut and what life was like at the site before the massacre occurred.
Research at Agaligmiut is supported by Qanirtuuq Inc., an Alaska Native Village Corporation in Quinhagak.
£2.1 million research project to uncover Rome’s early medieval history
Archeologists, historians, and other specialists are working together on an international project to examine Rome’s urban history between the 1st and 8th centuries AD.
The £2.1 million (2.4 million euro) project funded by the European Research Council will pioneer a radically new methodology designed to analyse complex urban landscapes, exploring buildings buried up to 10 metres below the modern ground surface.
Its focusses on a ‘forgotten’ quarter of Rome which, while omitted from most tourist itineraries, served as home to emperors and popes for generations.
Between the first and eighth centuries AD, many of the most powerful people on earth lived in and around the Caelian Hill in the south-east of the city.
The project is led by Newcastle University’s Professor Ian Haynes. Drawing together diverse strands of data to visualise the way this area changed over eight centuries, his team will examine in detail the character of its many features, from palaces and the world’s first cathedral, to fortifications, aqueducts and private homes.
Revealing in turn how these related to each other and to prevailing political, military and religious ideas, the project hopes to transform the way major shifts in the chronological, geographical and ideological history of Rome are understood.
Haynes has already directed archaeological investigations in the area around the Caelian Hill with Professor Paolo Liverani of the University of Florence for over 10 years.
He says, “It is a tremendous privilege to be able to take this work forward. This grant not only allows us to develop a new cost-effective methodology applicable to the study of many of the world’s historic cities, delivering vital information to planners, heritage bodies, civil engineers, historians and archaeologists, it also helps us understand better some of the major ideological shifts that formed the world we live in.
“Over the course of this five-year project, we will be looking at the interplay of ideas, architecture, and infrastructure in the Caelian quarter to make the first ever large-scale assessment of the political, military and religious regenerations that emerged in this forgotten quarter of Rome.
This matters because what happened here repeatedly shaped the development of Europe, the Middle East and north Africa.”
The project will involve colleagues from across Newcastle University, alongside the University of Florence, the British School at Rome and the National Research Centre for Italy’s Institute of Science for Cultural Heritage.
Involving extensive archival research, wide-ranging subterranean investigation, the largest geo-radar and laser scanning survey ever conducted in Rome, and using the latest digital 3D techniques, the Rome Transformed project will visualise five major transformations in the political, military and religious ideas that shaped ancient Rome over eight centuries.
Team members include archaeologists, architectural visualizers, botanists, computer scientists, engineers, geographers, geophysicists, historians, hydrologists, and topographers.