Mystery as fully-sealed bottle of liquid discovered between skeleton’s legs
Experts at Hull’s largest-ever archaeological excavation believe they’ve made significant progress in unraveling the mystery of a bottle discovered between a skeleton’s legs. The unique blue-colored glass bottle marked ‘Hull Infirmary’ appears to have been placed in a grave at the former Trinity burial cemetery on purpose.
The fully intact sealed bottle also contained an unknown brown liquid. It was discovered earlier this year as part of the major excavation at the site where burials took place between 1783 and 1861.
A 70-strong team of specialist archaeologists have been working there since last year as part of the nearby £355m A63 upgrade scheme on Castle Street in the city centre. They are examining around 1,500 exhumed skeletons.
The site is one of the largest post-medieval cemeteries to have ever been excavated in the north of England and the discovery of the bottle initially raised a few eyebrows.
Osteology supervisor Katie Dalmon explained: “It’s quite normal to find artefacts such as rings, coins, items of clothing and even tableware such as plates in a burial plot but this bottle was quite unusual.
“Not only was it apparently specifically placed between the person’s legs but it was also sealed and was nearly full of liquid.”
The ‘Hull Infirmary’ inscription on the side of the bottle was the first clue in what has become an ongoing piece of archaeological detective work.
The hospital was first established in temporary premises in 1782 – a year before the burial ground opened – and then moved to a purpose-built home in Prospect Street in 1784.
Katie added: “We now know a little bit more about the identity of the body – it’s a woman who was in her 60s at the time of death. We also know she was suffering from residual Ricketts and osteoporosis.
“She was also buried in the middle of a burial stack with the bottle. It was deliberately placed with the individual and was not part of any backfill.”
Tests have also been carried on the mysterious liquid in an effort to establish what it actually is with samples being sent to experts from Nottingham Trent University to carry out a high-tech analysis.
Katie said: “The tests have confirmed the presence of sodium, potassium and phosphorus and have also discounted any pharmaceutical materials being present.
“The results leave us with the likelihood that the liquid is probably urine but they also raise a whole series of other questions.
“What could this mean? Why was it placed there and, if it’s not the urine, what could it be?”
She said another theory being examined was that the liquid might have been a type of phosphate-based tonic drink.
“These were popular in the 19th century when they were advertised as a cure for various medical ailments, including tuberculosis.
“We can’t be exactly sure at the moment so we are carrying out more tests to try to get a definitive answer.”
The team from Oxford Archaeology is expected to spend several years studying all the finding findings from the burial ground. Work on the actual site is due to end next month when the remaining giant tents covering the excavation area will be removed.
The mummified ‘giant finger’ of Egypt: Did giants once really roam on Earth?
A 15-inch long human finger has been found in Egypt and pictures of it are being released for the very first time. BILD.de broke this story, and it is spreading like fire all over the Internet.
According to BILD.de, the pictures of this finger were taken by a researcher named Gregor Spörri in Egypt in 1988. The mummified finger would be considered to be human except for the fact that it is way, way too large to have come from a human hand.
As mentioned earlier, the giant finger is 15 inches long. It is projected that the person that this finger came from would have been more than 16 feet tall! You can see more pictures of this amazing find on BILD.de.
As you can tell from the picture above, the fingernail is clearly visible. This truly is a remarkable specimen. So is this really a finger of a giant that once lived in Egypt?
Unfortunately, this finger is not housed in a museum in Egypt. The researcher that took the pictures reportedly had to pay “an old man from a grave robber dynasty” 300 dollars to see it and take pictures of it.
So unfortunately this discovery cannot be independently verified at this time. Hopefully, all of this publicity will flush this finger back out into the public so that authorities can examine it.
This is potentially an incredibly important part of our history and it would be a shame if these photos are the only evidence we ever get to see of it.
But when it comes to giants, we already know that there is so much other evidence out there. Recently I wrote about the Nephilim mummy that was found in Peru and about the giant footprints and giant skeletons that have been found all over the world.
But a mummified human finger from a giant in Egypt would be absolutely mind-blowing. It would be a direct challenge to everything that is commonly accepted about the ancient history of Egypt.
Hopefully, all of this will spur more digs and more research. The era when the Great Pyramid was constructed in an era that is shrouded in great mystery.
Humanity is only now developing technology that would allow us to construct a similar structure today. Nobody really knows for sure who built the Great Pyramid or how it was constructed.
There is just so much about ancient Egypt that we simply do not know. Hopefully, the floodgates will open and much more evidence will emerge soon.
Bulgarian archaeologists discovered giant skeleton remains located at the Black Sea Bay city known as Varna. In the first reports, they suggested that a man lived in the 4th to the 5th centuries and were quite impressed by the size of the bone found in the area.
Due to the size, they only concluded their report that they belonged to a very tall man. Chief Archeologists Valeri Yotov who is part of their team that carries out excavations has been reporting the local media.
On the discovery from the begging but lately has stopped to give any more details which might tell us they are on to something bigger as they skeleton was discovered in the area of the ancient city called Odesos.
Yotov in the past has suggested that the man has died during work and that they were he was buried with his hand laid on his waist and his body pointing to the east was a clear indication he had a ceremonial burial rite and was buried this way.
Reconstructions of the area are being carried out in Varna, which is Bulgarians 3rd largest city and usually called “The Black Sea capital”
The ancient tomb in which the skeletons was found was also discovered during the repair works in the centre of Varna while the repair team dug up the tomb unexpectedly.
Its approximate location has actually been known since the beginning of the 20 th century as told by the Bulgarian National Television report.
However back then it was just briefly explored but sealed away due to constructions, so exploration of this area now is a very interesting job for the local archaeological society.
Archaeologists in this excavation reported that the object, lying on Nezavisimost Square between the city theatre and the State Archive, was located beyond the walls of Odesos, the ancient city that was once situated where Varna is now.
5,000-Year-Old Rock Art Depicting “Celestial Bodies” Revealed in Siberia
Rock art images painted some 5,000 years ago during the Bronze Age were made with a sophisticated scientific understanding which has stunned experts. Images, discovered near Karakol village in the Altai Republic in Russia, show alien figures with round horns and feathers on their heads.
The depictions in red, black and white were found in 1985 in a gravesite in a remote village in Siberia have uncovered the extraordinary talent of the prehistoric artists.
They have found that the red hues in the tomb drawings were made of thermally modified ocher, a clay made from Earth.
The white shades were made by scraping which revealed light-reflecting rock crystals, while soot was used for the black in the paintings.
Scientists from the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, Russia’s leading research and development centre for nuclear energy, said that the red colours especially fascinate the experts.
It is apparent that some 5,000 years ago the tomb painters knew how to carry out a chemical reaction in order to create not just a red colour but the precise tones they desired by varying the temperature of heating.
Roman Senin, head of the synchrotron research department at Kurchatov Institute, said: ‘We determined the phased composition of pigments, that is, the structure of the crystal lattice of individual grains of the dye.
‘Some structures are not typical for natural samples but are the product of heat treatment.
‘Simply put, the primitive artist heated the mineral to a certain temperature in order to get the colour he needed.’
Alexander Pakhunov, of Russia’s Institute of Archeology, said: ‘The results of the analysis of the composition of paints used in the funeral rite of Karakol people testify to the ability of the ancient inhabitants of Altai to distinguish pigments by colour and properties.’
Full results of the new study will be presented at the 43rd International Symposium on Archeometry in May 2020 in Lisbon.
It is also clear that ancient people broke off rocks on local mountains already decorated at an earlier time with petroglyphs.
These were then moved into the graves – and superimposed their own fantastical images on stone slabs which were used as the tomb walls.
‘The remains of people buried inside the stone graves were also painted with the same colours, with spots of red ocher found below eye sockets and traces of a black and silvery mineral called Specularite prominent in eyebrows area,’ reported The Siberian Times –
The earliest images were engravings of elks, mountains goats and running people with round horns on their heads.
On top of the petroglyphs were superimposed pictures of 11 human-like figures. The different colour tones are seen as carrying meanings to the prehistoric people.
While the funeral rites of these ancient mountain-dwellers are not yet understood, the techniques of the painters is now clear, say the scientists. The Karakol artworks date to the early and middle Bronze Age.
Magnificent 2,000-year-old ‘city hall’ unearthed near Western Wall in Jerusalem
During ongoing excavations beneath Jerusalem’s Old City, researchers discovered what may have been a 2,000-year-old city council structure – just a few hundred meters from its modern counterpart. The grand structure is a new feature on the revamped Western Wall Tunnels Tour, which allows tourists to visit the millennia-old city that exists in a time warp under today’s thriving capital.
“This is, without doubt, one of the most magnificent public buildings from the Second Temple period that has ever been uncovered outside the Temple Mount walls in Jerusalem,” said excavation director Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolach in an IAA press release on Thursday.
Built circa 20 CE, the Roman-era structure stood off the main drag leading to the Temple Mount and was used as a triclinium, or dining room, for notable members of society on their way to worship, according to the IAA release. Originally constructed with an ornate water fountain and decorative Corinthian capitals, the striking edifice underwent a series of structural changes in its 50 years of use prior to the 70 CE destruction of the Second Temple, Weksler-Bdolach told The Times of Israel.
The massive structure will soon be open to the public as part of the Western Wall Tunnels Tour, which has been rejigged to create different paths and experiences, based on several new routes that cut through thousands of years of history, through today’s modern use of part of the tunnels as prayer and event halls.
According to Weksler-Bdolach, originally archaeologists had thought the “city hall” was constructed during the earlier Hasmonean period. Located to the west of Wilson’s Arch, just off the prayer pavilion for men at the Western Wall, one of the chambers was discovered and documented in the 19th century by Charles Warren. Other archaeologists also studied the room in the 20th century.
However, after taking up some of the ancient floorings and performing carbon-14 dating on organic materials from the building’s base, as well as discovering coins and pottery sherds, archaeologists place the opulent building’s timeframe at no earlier than 20 CE. She noted that because the site is only partially excavated — to preserve other important subterranean structures from other eras — it is more challenging to precisely date and study it. “Every building is important; we cannot take all the buildings apart,” she said.
What archaeologists do know is that during its 50 years of occupation, said Weksler-Bdolach, the large public structure was separated into three different spaces, the fountain was taken out of use, and what appears to be a ritual bath or mikveh was added, just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem.
Despite the clear Roman influence in the structure’s architecture, Jerusalem at this time was still a culturally Jewish city, said Weksler-Bdolach. The decorations discovered in the spaces — a sculpted cornice bearing pilasters (flat supporting pillars) — didn’t include graven images, banned by the Torah.
She said the hall was likely used by city, versus Temple, officials who wanted to impress their guests.
“Visitors to the site can now envisage the opulence of the place: the two side chambers served as ornate reception rooms and between them was a magnificent fountain with water gushing out from lead pipes incorporated in the midst of the Corinthian capitals protruding from the wall,” said Weksler-Bdolach in the press release.
There are still several puzzles to work out surrounding the building. For one, what was the water source for the fountain? Weksler-Bdolach laughed and said that is the “million-dollar question,” but the researchers’ working hypothesis is that since clean, fresh water would likely have been used, it was hand filled through an intricate system of lead water piping. The fountain, she said, was likely only used to make a splash with, especially important VIPs.
Two ‘living’ cities in parallel
To reach the Western Wall Tunnels Tour, visitors descend beneath noisy, living Jerusalem and go back in time, entering a well-preserved subterranean ancient city.
“In Jerusalem, there are several cities under the city,” said Weksler-Bdolach, “especially under the Old City.”
According to Shachar Puni, architect for the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Conservation Department, one of the interesting and unique features of ancient Jerusalem is that many whole sections were left completely intact under the ground.
In most cases, new construction was performed on top of older structures, he, said, with domed ceilings serving as building bases, and still intact chambers underneath used as basements or cisterns, or even hideaway living spaces.
Now, with the rerouted paths, said Puni, visitors can experience different elements, time periods, and purposes of the underground city. For example, tourists purely interested in ancient archaeology will no longer brush up against today’s prayer halls — and vice versa.
“There is a feeling of a whole underground world that it is in parallel with the ‘living world’ above ground,” said Puni. Unlike visits to other “open-air” archaeological sites in Israel such as Caesarea or Megiddo, in Jerusalem’s underground universe, “for the visitor, there is the feeling of a whole world that didn’t exactly get destroyed.”
Mordechai Soli Eliav, chairman of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, says, “It is exciting to reveal such a magnificent structure from the Second Temple period while we mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and pray for its restoration.” The new section of the Tunnels Tour should be open by the Hebrew month of Elul, just ahead of Rosh Hashana, in time for traditional selichot, or penitential prayers.
“What’s fantastic is that there’s a living city moving about aboveground, and in parallel, a whole world that was frozen, but still lives, in the archaeological realm, one under the other,” said Puni. PJC
Cryptic 2,700-year-old pig skeleton found in Jerusalem’s City of David
Israeli archaeologists have unearthed the complete skeleton of a piglet in a place and time where you wouldn’t expect to find pork remains: a Jerusalem home dating to the First Temple period.
The 2,700-year-old porcine remains were found crushed by large pottery vessels and a collapsed walls during excavations in the so-called City of David, the original nucleus of ancient Jerusalem. The team of archaeologists behind the discovery reported their find in a study published in the June edition of the journal Near Eastern Archaeology.
The find of swine adds to previous research showing that pork was occasionally on the menu for the ancient Israelites and that biblical taboos on this and other prohibited foods only came to be observed centuries later, in the Second Temple period. It also ties into broader questions about when the Bible was written and when Judaism as we know it was born.
This little piggy wasn’t bacon
The animal’s skull clearly identifies it as a domestic pig, as opposed to a wild swine, and its presence indicates that pigs were raised for food in the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Judah, says Lidar Sapir-Hen, an archaeozoologist at Tel Aviv University and at the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History.
The fact that the skeleton was found intact suggests that this specific piglet, less than seven months old, was not eaten, but died accidentally when the building was destroyed at some point in the eighth-century B.C.E, Sapir-Hen and colleagues report.
But there can be little doubt of what the piglet’s ultimate fate would have been having its home not collapsed for as yet unclear reasons. In addition to large storage jars and smaller cooking vessels, the room where the pig was unearthed also hosted dozens of animal bones from sheep, goats, cattle, gazelles, as well as fish and birds, the archaeologists report.
Most of these remains were burnt or showed signs of butchery, meaning the animals had long been dead and eaten when the building was destroyed, Sapir-Hen says.
This suggests that this room was where meals were prepared or eaten,” she says. “So this pig was just waiting for its turn.”
We don’t know the cause of the building’s collapse, as there is no known major destruction event in Jerusalem in the eighth century B.C.E., says Joe Uziel, the Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist who led the dig. It may have been destroyed by an earthquake or a more localized event, he speculates.
In any case, the structure was rebuilt and continued to be in use until around 586 B.C.E., when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the First Temple, Uziel says. The building had at least four rooms and was located in a fairly central area near the Gihon spring, the main source of water for the city at the time. Constructed with rough fieldstones, it was probably a private home, although the fact that bullae, or seal impressions, were unearthed in another room suggests it may have also had an additional, administrative function, Uziel says.
The excavation also yielded an elegantly carved bone pendant and a human figurine. Together with the great variety of animals found alongside the pig, all of this indicates the house was occupied by an upper-class family, the archaeologist says.
The importance and central location of the house suggest that pig husbandry and pork consumption may have been a rare treat, but still very much part of “mainstream” food habits, he says. In other words, it doesn’t look like this was something done secretively by, say, a poorer household that may have been desperately in need of a quick meal.
At this point, we have to wonder how to square the idea that pigs were infrequently but openly raised in Jerusalem with the biblical injunction that: “The swine, though he divides the hoof, and be cloven-footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.” (Leviticus 11:7-8
It’s the Levantine economy, stupid
While domesticated pig bones are rarely found in Jerusalem and in most of the Levant, they are not entirely absent, Sapir-Hen notes. In excavations from the First Temple period in Jerusalem and in other sites from the Kingdom of Judah, swine bones constitute up to 2 per cent of the animal remains unearthed, she says.
Already back in the 1990s, archaeologists also observed that pig bones were much more frequent in the coastal strip that was inhabited by the Philistines. Scholars thus concluded that a dearth of pig bones identified a site as Israelite and that the biblical ban on partaking in pork was already known and observed in the First Temple period.
But more recent research by Sapir-Hen and others has shown that the picture is much more complex. For one thing, the near absence of pig bones is not unique to Israelite sites of the Iron Age, the period that roughly corresponds to the First Temple era. Swine is equally scarce in most of Canaan during the preceding era, the Late Bronze Age, a time before the writing of the Bible or the formation of ancient Israel.
This dearth then continues in the Iron Age, not only in Judah but in many of its neighbours, including sites linked to the Canaanites, Phoenicians and Arameans, Sapir-Hen notes. Even when it comes to the supposedly pork-loving Philistines, the situation is actually more nuanced.
While the diet of Philistine city-dwellers did include a larger proportion of pigs, which were seemingly imported from Greece, swine bones are almost absent from their rural settlements, in keeping with the dietary habits of the rest of the Levant. Equally puzzling is the fact that in the Kingdom of Israel, Judah’s northern neighbour, a pig is rare in the early Iron Age, but it increases to up to 8 per cent of the animal mix at urban sites in the eighth century B.C.E.
All of this indicates that the tendency to eschew pork in the Iron Age cannot be linked to a specific ethnic identity or to the biblical prohibition, Sapir-Hen concludes. Pigs were only a small part of the Levantine diet most probably because other animals, especially goats, sheep and cattle, were more suited to the local environment and economy.
Pigs can be raised in an urban environment, as they require less space, but they also need a nearby water source: it is perhaps not a coincidence that the Jerusalem piglet was found near the city’s spring. This may explain why, throughout the Levant, swine occurrences only tend to rise at times and in places where populations increase and are concentrated in larger urban settlements, whether in Philistia, in the Kingdom of Israel or, to a lesser extent, in the more built-up sections of Judah’s capital, Jerusalem.
Gods, figurines and shrimp
This also gels with a growing body of research on the Israelite religion in the First Temple period. While scholars believe that parts of the Bible were already compiled at the tail end of this era, it is generally agreed that the holy text we know today only reached its final form after the Babylonian exile, in the Second Temple period.
Whenever the Bible was actually written, archaeological finds have shown that, in practice, First Temple-period Judaism was very different from the religion it would later become. While the ancient Israelites believed in Yahweh, the God of the Bible, they also worshipped other deities, including Asherah, who was thought to be God’s wife. They liberally made figurines and other graven images, ostensibly banned by the Second Commandment.
Additionally, a study published just last month in the Tel Aviv journal of archaeology looked at the finding, at archaeological sites throughout Israel, of bones from scaleless and finless fish, which are also prohibited by the Bible’s dietary rules. The research showed that catfish, sharks and other non-kosher fish were commonly consumed in Jerusalem and Judah during the First Temple period, and only for the late Second Temple period is there clear evidence that Jews were eschewing such banned seafood.
In other words, biblical prohibitions that are considered signposts of the Jewish faith today were unknown, unheeded or non-existent back in the First Temple period. And it seems that, from time to time, the ancient Israelites were not averse to literally bringing home the bacon.
English cave may have ties to king-turned-saint and Viking invasion, archaeologists say
Archaeologists in England have identified a near-complete Anglo-Saxon cave house, which, they say, may once have been the home of a king who became a saint.
Thought to date from the early 9th century, the dwelling in the central English county of Derbyshire was discovered by a team from the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) and Wessex Archaeology, according to a news release published Wednesday.
The team carried out a detailed survey of the Anchor Church Caves in south Derbyshire, concluding that the caves probably date from the early medieval period rather than the 18th century as previously thought.
Edmund Simons, a research fellow at the RAU, told CNN the cave is a “small, intimate space” that is one of the oldest domestic interiors surviving in the UK.
While there are a few churches with intact interiors that date from a similar period, Simons said, “there’s nowhere else really where you can walk into somewhere where somebody ate and slept and prayed and lived.”
“It’s quite remarkable,” he added.
The researchers carried out a detailed study to reconstruct a house featuring three rooms, as well as a chapel.
Dating the cave house
A number of factors combined to date the dwelling to the early 9th century, Simons said. The caves are cut from soft sandstone rock and their narrow doorways and windows resemble Saxon architecture, while a rock-cut pillar is similar to one found in a nearby Saxon crypt.
The Anchor Church Caves are also linked by local folklore and a fragment of a 16th-century book to a saint. St. Hardulph has been identified as King Eardwulf, who ruled Northumbria until 806. He died around 830 and was buried five miles from the caves, in Breedon on the Hill in Leicestershire.
Around the time of his death, Viking raids on Britain, which started in the late 8th century, had grown in size. The Vikings arrived in the area and set up a winter camp in nearby Repton shortly after Hardulph’s death. As their Great Heathen Army slaughtered all the local religious figures, this suggests the cave house must date from before their arrival, Simons explained.
“All of these things fit together,” he added.
Hardulph would not have been a “beardy weirdy” who lived in the cave alone, said Simons, but a kind of living saint who had servants and disciples and visitors who would come to consult him. He is one of a number of deposed Saxon kings who lived out their years as monks or hermits as a way of keeping their status.
“A hermit is an important and holy person,” said Simons. “It’s an incredibly religious period.”
18th century renovations
In the 18th century, the caves were modified by local landowner and aristocrat Robert Burdett, who added brickwork and window frames so that he could invite friends for dinner in the “cool and romantic cells” of the caves, according to the press release.
At the time there was a growing interest in Romanticism, an artistic and literary movement that made connections to the medieval period, as well as the picturesque aesthetic of rural England.
Burdett also widened the entrances to get tables, drinks and women in wide skirts into the cave, Simons said.
The analysis is part of a wider project involving more than 170 cave houses in the English Midlands, he said, adding that some date from a similar period and preliminary investigations suggest that a few could be even older than the Anchor Church caves.
“It is extraordinary that domestic buildings over 1200 years old survive in plain sight, unrecognised by historians, antiquarians and archaeologists,” Mark Horton, professor of archaeology at the RAU, said in the news release.
“We are confident that other examples are still to be discovered to give a unique perspective on Anglo Saxon England.”
The study is published in the Proceedings of the University of Bristol Speleological Society.
A metal detectorist who made another astonishing find last year uncovered a Viking era “piggybank” of silver coins on the Isle of Man. Former police officer Kath Giles discovered the 1,000-year-old fragments in a field in the north of the island.
Details of the 87 coins, which were found in April, were made public for the first time at a coroner’s hearing.
The coins were minted in England, Dublin, Germany and the Isle of Man.
Ms Giles previously made headlines when she discovered a collection of gold and silver Viking jewellery, which was declared treasure in February.
Manx National Heritage’s curator of archaeology Allison Fox said it was a “wonderful find”.
It would help increase understanding of the “complex Viking Age economy” in the area surrounding the Irish Sea, she added.
It is thought the silver pieces, which date from between AD 1000 and 1035, had been deliberately buried by the owner for safekeeping.
American coin specialist Kristin Bornholdt-Collins, who helped to identify the provenance and age of the pieces, said the hoard may have been used as a Viking Age “piggybank”, which would account for some of the older coins in the collection.
Dr Bornholdt-Collins said once buried the hoard may have been “added to overtime”, although most of the pieces were a “direct reflection” of what was circulating in and around the island at the time.
Other items found included 13 pieces of silver arm rings, which were also used as currency during the period.
The collection will be put on display at the Manx Museum in Douglas before being taken to London for valuation at a later date.
Under Manx law, finds of archaeological interest must be reported to Manx National Heritage and those legally declared treasures at an inquest become the property of the crown, with the finder rewarded.