The Atlantic Ocean was known as the Ethiopian Ocean until the 19th century
Up to the 19th century, the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean was formally known as the Ethiopian/Aethiopian Sea in classical geographical works. This was the name that appeared on ancient maps, up to the 19th century.
The roots of such etymology can be described by how over time, areas referred to as place names often expand or contract. As such, what is termed “toponymic displacement” or geographic displacement? becomes commonplace.
European geographers used the term ‘Libyan’ to refer to North African people of Berber background. The people who inhabited lands further south of the Sahara were called ‘Ethiopians’ (or Aethiopians) and the name used for the lands below the Sahara was ‘Ethiopia.’
Ethiopia was also used as the synonym for the Nubian Kingdom of Kush (or Meroe).
The present country called Ethiopia was hardly known, and when it came to the knowledge of European geographers it was called ‘Abyssinia’ (from the Arabic ethnic designation ‘Habesh.’
The word Ethiopia was also used for unknown or quasi-mythical lands situated to the south or east of the Mediterranean.
The African interior, which was unknown to European ‘explorers’ and geographers around the 15th-16th centuries, was generally called Ethiopia.
The eastern South Atlantic Ocean was called the Aethiopian/Ethiopian Sea/Ocean due to the fact such part of the ocean was in proximity to the landmass called Ethiopia. This part of the ocean was commonly dubbed the “Ethiopian Ocean” (or Sea) through the 1700s.
In the maps of this time, the Ethiopian Ocean was shown to stretch from the South Atlantic into the western Indian Ocean.
Oceans and seas were conceptualized and titled as strips of water surrounding landmasses.
The discreet naming of oceans surfaced in the 1800s.
Humans Arrived in North America More Than 30,000 Years Ago, Study Suggests
According to an unexpected finding made by an Iowa State University researcher, the earliest people may have arrived in North America approximately 20,000 years earlier than previously thought.
Andrew Somerville, an assistant professor of anthropology in world languages and cultures, says he and his colleagues made the discovery while studying the origins of agriculture in the Tehuacan Valley in Mexico.
As part of that work, they wanted to establish a date for the earliest human occupation of the Coxcatlan Cave in the valley, so they obtained radiocarbon dates for several rabbit and deer bones that were collected from the cave in the 1960s as part of the Tehuacan Archaeological-Botanical Project.
The dates for the bones suddenly took Somerville and his colleagues in a different direction with their work. The dates for the bone samples from the early depositional levels of the cave ranged from 33,448 to 28,279 years old.
Somerville says even though previous studies had not dated items from the bottom of the cave, he was not expecting such old ages. The findings add to the debate over a long-standing theory that the first humans crossed the Bering Land Bridge into the Americas 13,000 years ago.
“We weren’t trying to weigh in on this debate or even find really old samples. We were just trying to situate our agricultural study with a firmer timeline,” Somerville said. “We were surprised to find these really old dates at the bottom of the cave, and it means that we need to take a closer look at the artefacts recovered from those levels.”
Somerville says the findings provide researchers with a better understanding of the chronology of the region. Previous studies relied on charcoal and plant samples, but he says the bones were a better material for dating. However, questions still remain. Most importantly, is there a human link to the bottom layer of the cave where the bones were found?
To answer that question, Somerville and Matthew Hill, ISU associate professor of anthropology, plan to take a closer look at the bone samples for evidence of cut marks that indicate the bones were butchered by a stone tool or human or thermal alternations that suggest the bones were boiled or roasted over a fire. He says the possible stone tools from the early levels of the cave may also yield clues.
“Determining whether the stone artifacts were products of human manufacture or if they were just naturally chipped stones would be one way to get to the bottom of this,” Somerville said. “If we can find strong evidence that humans did in fact make and use these tools, that’s another way we can move forward.”
Year-long journey to even find the bones
Not only was this discovery unexpected, but the process of tracking down the animal bones to take samples was more than Somerville anticipated. The collection of artifacts from the 1960s Tehuacan Archaeological-Botanical Project was distributed to different museums and labs in Mexico and the United States, and it was unclear where the animal bones were sent.
After a year of emails and cold calls, Somerville and his collaborator, Isabel Casar from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, had a potential lead for a lab in Mexico City. The lab director, Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales, agreed to give Somerville and Casar a tour to help search for the missing collection. The tour proved to be beneficial. Among the countless boxes of artifacts, they found what they were looking for.
“Having spent months trying to locate the bones, we were excited to find them tucked away on the bottom shelf in a dark corner of the lab,” Somerville said. “At the time, we felt that was a great discovery, we had no idea it would lead to this.”
Once he located the bones, Somerville got permission from the Mexican government to take small samples — about 3/4 inch in length and 1/4 inch in width — from 17 bones (eight rabbits and nine deer) for radiocarbon dating. If closer examination of the bones provides evidence of a human link, Somerville says it will change what we know about the timing and how the first people came to America.
“Pushing the arrival of humans in North America back to over 30,000 years ago would mean that humans were already in North America prior to the period of the Last Glacial Maximum, when the Ice Age was at its absolute worst,” Somerville said.
“Large parts of North America would have been inhospitable to human populations. The glaciers would have completely blocked any passage over land coming from Alaska and Canada, which means people probably would have had to come to the Americas by boats down the Pacific coast.”
Medieval Church Excavated in Sudan’s Northern State
Science in Poland reports that researchers led by Artur Obłuski of the University of Warsaw have found the remains of a large medieval church in the centre of Old Dongola, Northern State, Sudan.
According to, Assist. Prof. Artur Obłuski, the head of the Dongola expedition and the director of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw (PCMA UW), this discovery changes not only our knowledge about the city itself but also the way we reconstruct the history of the Nubian church.
Dongola was the capital of Makuria, one of the three Christian Nubian kingdoms. Archaeologists from PCMA UW have been working there since 1964, continuing the research initiated by Prof. K. Michałowski after the success of his work in another Nubian centre – Faras, the capital of Nobadia.
Since 2018, work in Dongola has been carried out under the European Research Council (ERC) grant “UMMA – Urban Metamorphosis of the community of a Medieval African capital city”, headed by Assist. Prof. Obłuski.
In 2021, archaeologists cleaned the wall of the church’s apse, together with an adjacent wall and the nearby dome of a large tomb. The structures are located in the very centre of the city.
The walls of the apse, which was the most sacred place in the church, are decorated with paintings depicting two rows of monumental figures. It is the largest apse so far discovered in Nubia: it has a diameter of 6 m, and the width of the church to which it belonged is approx. 26 m.
“If our estimates based on the known dimensions are confirmed, it is the largest church discovered so far in Nubia,” – says Obłuski, adding – “Its size is important, but so is the location of the building – in the heart of the 200-hectare city, the capital of the combined kingdoms of Nobadia and Makuria. Just to the east of the apse, a large domed building was added.
We have a great analogy for such an architectural complex: Faras. There too, the cathedral stood in the centre of the citadel, and to the east of it was the domed tomb of Joannes, the bishop of Faras. However, there is a major difference in the scale of the buildings. The dome over Joannes’ tomb is 1.5 m in diameter, while the dome over the Dongolese building is 7.5 m.”
Archaeologists assume that, just like in Faras, the large church in Dongola served as a cathedral, next to which a tomb of dignitaries, probably bishops, was erected. The confirmation of this hypothesis will have significant consequences for Nubiology.
Until now, another church located outside the citadel was considered to be Dongola’s cathedral, a building whose features would influence the religious architecture of Nubia over the centuries. “If we are right, it was a completely different building that set the trends,” – says Obłuski.
The newly discovered building stands in the middle of the citadel that is surrounded by a wall about 10 m high and 5 m thick.
The excavations have shown that this was the heart of the entire kingdom in the Makurian period as all structures uncovered there were of a monumental character: churches, a palace, and large villas belonging to a church and state elites. Test trenches dug in the building have yielded promising results.
“The sounding in the apse is approx. 9 m deep. This means that the eastern part of the building is preserved to the impressive height of a modern three-storey block of flats. And this means there may be more paintings and inscriptions under our feet, just like in Faras,” – says the archaeologist.
Therefore, among the team members are conservators from the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, working under the supervision of Prof. Krzysztof Chmielewski. Their immediate task is to secure the discovered paintings on an ongoing basis, and in the long term, to prepare them for display. Unlike at Faras, they can be left on the church walls.
“In order to continue the excavations, the weakened and peeling wall plaster covered with painting decoration must be strengthened, and then carefully cleaned of layers of earth, dirt and salt deposits that are particularly harmful to the wall paintings.
When a suitable roof is erected over this valuable find, it will be possible to start the final aesthetic conservation of the paintings,” – explains Prof. Chmielewski, adding that this type of rescue conservation requires the involvement of considerable resources, time, and skilled specialists.
The next excavation seasons in Dongola are planned for the fall of this year and the winter of 2022.
Archaeologists Unearth Largest Ancient Roman Basilica of its Kind in Israel
The Roman basilica complex was unearthed in excavations as part of an extensive development project in the Ashkelon national park. Tel Ashkelon National Park has recently undergone extensive development work, initiated and funded by Nature and Parks Authority, Ashkelon Municipality and the Leon Levy Foundation, during which the Israel Antiquities Authority recently revealed a magnificent 2,000-year-old basilica that is the largest of its kind in Israel.
The exciting finds, which also include an ancient odeon (theatre), are now being revealed for the first time and will soon be open to visitors to Tel Ashkelon National Park, enhancing the visitor experience at the site. The site will be opened on completion of the development, conservation and restoration work, which includes erecting sculptures and marble columns found in excavations at the site.
Nature and Parks Authority and the Ashkelon Municipality are also developing and constructing a new network of accessible paths designed to showcase and provide better access to the park’s unique nature, heritage and landscape, thereby enhancing the visitor experience.
During the Roman period, the public life of the city revolved around its basilica (a Roman public building), where its citizens transacted business, met for social and legal matters and held performances and religious ceremonies.
According to Dr Rachel Bar-Natan, Saar Ganor and Fredrico Kobrin, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The huge building is covered with a roof and divided into three parts – a central hall and two side halls.
The hall was surrounded by rows of marble columns and capitals, which rose to an estimated height of 13 meters and supported the building’s roof. The floor and walls were built of marble.”
The marble, discovered during many years of archaeological excavations lasting until two years ago, was imported from Asia Minor in merchant ships that reached the shores of Ashkelon, which was a famous, bustling trade city. Roughly 200 marble items weighing hundreds of tons have been found in all, testifying to the building’s great splendour.
Among the items, dozens of column capitals with plant motifs were discovered, some bearing an eagle – the symbol of the Roman Empire. Pillars and heart-shaped capitals stood in the corners of the building.
Excavations by the British in the 1920s unearthed huge statues, including a statue of Nike, the goddess of victory, supported by the god Atlas holding a sphere, and a statue of Isis – an Egyptian deity depicted as Tyche, the city’s goddess of fortune.
The basilica was devastated by the earthquake that struck the country in 363 CE. The effects of the seismic waves are clearly visible on the building’s floor, providing tangible evidence of the events of that year in Ashkelon. After its destruction, the building was abandoned.
During the Abbasid and Fatimid periods, the site of the basilica was transformed into an industrial area and several installations were built in it. In one of these, marble pillars and capitals from the basilica were incorporated in secondary use in the buildings’ walls. There is evidence from the Ottoman period that marble items were cut up for use as paving stones and some of the beautiful architectural features were taken for building construction.
The conservation department of the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting complex preservation and restoration work on the odeon and the impressive basilica, led by Nature and Parks Authority and generously funded by the Leon Levy Foundation. The work involves placing the spectacular marble sculptures of ancient Ashkelon in the southern part of the basilica. In the first stage, the odeon will be conserved and restored.
Thanks to the Leon Levy Foundation’s donation, it will incorporate modern seating, a stage and a series of explanatory signs. At the same time, a pilot program at the site has begun installing the impressive marble items in place, in a complex operation in which one of the pillars, weighing dozens of tons, was hoisted into the basilica. The floor of the excavated basilica will be restored and filled in, and additional columns will be placed around the perimeter based on lessons learned from the initial program.
The public will then be able to access a magnificent basilica, the largest in Israel. In the meantime, visitors will be able to sit on the seating in the odeon – to be completed in the coming months – and observe the work on the nearby basilica.
Meanwhile, the new system of accessible paths being developed by Nature and Parks Authority and Ashkelon Municipality in the national park aims to make the park’s unique nature, heritage and landscape more readily available, thereby enhancing the visitor experience. The route, about 2 km long, will go through the national park’s main sites, including the world’s oldest arched Canaanite gate, the famous wells of the ancient city, the basilica and the odeon, and the Crusader walls. This chronological trail tracing Ashkelon’s history through the ages will be clearly lined with content signage.
A second trial will lead to the ancient wall and Ashkelon’s dunes, providing a glimpse of the rich flora and fauna to the south of the national park. Between the two trails, in the centre of the park, a new visitor centre will illustrate in an experiential interactive way the vibrant life of the port city and its importance throughout the various periods.
According to Shaul Goldstein, CEO of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, “The Tel Ashkelon National Park combines a fascinating antiquities site with unique natural resources characteristic of the dunes in the coastal plain. It was the first national park to be declared in Israel in the 1960s and since then, it has been constantly evolving and renewing for the benefit of visitors from all over the country. The unveiling of the basilica and odeon together with the development, preservation and restoration work, which includes the installation of pillars and ancient marble sculptures found in excavations at the site, as well as the addition of new and accessible trails around points of major interest will undoubtedly enhance visits to the park and further emphasize its heritage and uniqueness. We are grateful to our partners for providing tremendous support and guidance in the national park’s development, including the generous assistance of Mrs Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation under the close supervision of archaeologist Prof. Daniel Master.”
Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam says, “The Ashkelon National Park is one of the most important ancient sites, both in Israel and in the world, and time and time again it emerges as one of the most visited sites in the country. The city takes great pride in it, investing resources and funding in cooperation with Nature and Parks Authority, encouraging visitors by subsidizing entry for Ashkelon’s residents and promoting educational and community initiatives. We have recently also finished upgrading the entrance road to the park, which has been transformed to give the park the dignity it deserves. I am convinced that the restoration and conservation work in the park, the new archaeological discoveries and the development work – including new accessible paths – will contribute significantly to the park’s natural beauty and strengthen its status as the most beautiful and well-kept national park in Israel.”
Shelby White, the founder of the Leon Levy Foundation, explains that the conservation and restoration work was made possible, among other things, thanks to its generous donation, “When Leon and I visited Ashkelon in 1985, we did not imagine that our ties with that ancient seaport would last for over three decades. I am glad that the odeon, one of the many archaeological discoveries made by the Leon Levy expedition, will now be restored and the famous Roman sculptures of Ashkelon will be returned to their original location. Thanks to this, visitors to the Ashkelon National Park from Israel and around the world will be able to imagine this great city in all its ancient glory.”
“The basilica was founded by Herod the Great, and one historical source suggests that his family came from the city of Ashkelon,” add Ganor, Dr Bar-Natan and Kobrin of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “During the Roman Severan Dynasty, in the second and third centuries CE, the building was renovated, marble architectural features were brought to the site and a small theatre was added. Herodian coins discovered in the bedding of the structure’s ancient floors show that it was built at the time of one of the greatest builders ever to have lived in the country. The writings of the historian Josephus mention Herod’s construction in the city of Ashkelon and list fountains, a bathhouse and collonaded halls. Today, based on the new archaeological evidence, we can understand the origins of the historical record.”
A Long-Lost Legendary Roman Fruit Tree Germinated From 2,000-Year-Old Seeds
Plants have been produced from date palm seeds that have been buried for 2,000 years in old ruins and caves. This extraordinary achievement demonstrates the kernels’ long-term vitality after being nestled in succulent Judean dates, a fruit variety that has been lost for millennia. The findings suggest that it might be a good option for examining the lifetime of plant seeds.
From those date palm saplings, the researchers have begun to unlock the secrets of the highly sophisticated cultivation practices that produced the dates praised by Herodotus, Galen, and Pliny the Elder.
“The current study sheds light on the origins of the Judean date palm, suggesting that its cultivation, benefiting from genetically distinct eastern and western populations, arose from local or introduced eastern varieties, which only later were crossed with western varieties,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
“These findings are consistent with Judea’s location between east-west date palm diversification areas, ancient centres of date palm cultivation, and the impact of human dispersal routes at this crossroads of continents.”
In an ancient palace-fortress built by King Herod the Great, and caves located in southern Israel between the Judean Hills and the Dead Sea, archaeologists retrieved hundreds of seeds from the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera).
Then, a team of scientists, led by Sarah Sallon of Hadassah Medical Organisation in Israel, sorted through this bounty. They selected 34 seeds they thought were the most viable. One was separated out as a control; the remaining 33 were carefully soaked in water and fertiliser to encourage germination. After this process, one more was found to be damaged, and was subsequently discarded; the remaining 32 seeds were planted.
Of these, six of the seeds successfully sprouted. They were given the names Jonah, Uriel, Boaz, Judith, Hannah and Adam. (A previous attempt by Sallon and colleagues published in 2008 produced a single sapling; it was named Methuselah.)
Seedlings in hand, the scientists could now run tests and analyses they couldn’t perform on seeds alone. First, they collected fragments of the seed shells still clinging to the roots of the plants. These were perfect for radiocarbon dating – which confirmed the seeds date back to between 1,800 and 2,400 years ago.
Then, the researchers could conduct genetic analyses of the plants themselves, comparing them to a genetic database of current data palms. This showed exchanges of genetic material from eastern date palms from the Middle East and western date palms from North Africa. This suggests sophisticated agricultural practices – deliberate breeding to introduce desirable traits into the cultivated trees.
“Described by classical writers including Theophrastus, Herodotus, Galen, Strabo, Pliny the Elder, and Josephus, these valuable plantations produced dates attributed with various qualities including large size, nutritional and medicinal benefits, sweetness, and a long storage life, enabling them to be exported throughout the Roman Empire,” the researchers wrote.
“Several types of Judean dates are also described in antiquity including the exceptionally large ‘Nicolai’ variety measuring up to 11 centimetres (4.3 inches).”
Indeed, the researchers found that the ancient seeds were up to 30 per cent larger than date seeds today, which probably meant the fruit was larger, too.
And, of course, there’s the seemingly miraculous germination after so many centuries. As anyone who buys seeds for their garden knows, seeds deteriorate; the longer you have a packet of seeds sitting in storage, the fewer will germinate when you finally plant them.
If scientists can discover how the date seeds retained their viability for so long, that could have important implications for agriculture.
The once-rich date groves gradually declined after the fall of the Roman Empire. Judean dates could still have been cultivated in the 11th century CE, the researchers said, but certainly, by the 19th century, the groves were completely gone.
Now, those famous dates may make a comeback – at least for scientific purposes.
“As new information on specific gene-associated traits (e.g., fruit colour and texture) is found, we hope to reconstruct the phenotypes of this historic date palm, identify genomic regions associated with selection pressures over recent evolutionary history, and study the properties of dates produced by using ancient male seedlings to pollinate ancient females,” the researchers wrote.
“In doing so, we will more fully understand the genetics and physiology of the ancient Judean date palm once cultivated in this region.”
2,000-Year-Old Roman Face Cream With Visible, Ancient Fingermarks
A 2,000-year-old cream was discovered inside a sealed Roman jar, replete with fingerprints. The metal item, which measures 6cm in diameter and is in good condition, was discovered during excavations at a Roman temple complex in Southwark, London.
Experts from the Museum of London raised the cover of the spherical metal pot. The finding of the white substance with a sulphurous odour surprised and delighted archaeologists.
“I am astounded,” said Garry Brown, managing director of Pre-Construct Archaeology whose team of archaeologists have been painstakingly excavating the Tabard Square site over the past year. “It appears to be a kind of cosmetic cream or ointment. Creams of this kind do not ordinarily survive into the archaeological record, so this is a unique find.”
Further scientific analysis will determine whether the paste was used for medicinal or cosmetic purposes.
“This discovery is absolutely remarkable. The cream could be face paint applied as part of ritual ceremonies. We know that the Romans used donkey’s milk for the skin, so the scientific analysis will be very revealing”, said Francis Grew, curator at the Museum of London. “In my 20 years working in London archaeology, I have never come across a box with a sealed lid.”
“Only two similar containers, both without lids, have been found in London and both were in-market sites,” added Elizabeth Barhan, conservator at the Museum of London.
“It is a fantastic human element to find the finger marks on the inside of the lid,” said Nansi Rosenberg, senior archaeological consultant at EC Harris, the consultancy which is managing the excavation. The imprints could shed further light on whether the pot was used by an adult or child, male or female.
Although at the moment there is no indication as to who might have placed the container in the sealed ditch, it is believed the drain in which it was found may have had a ritual significance.
The box is one of many items found at the site of the temple complex, one of the most important Roman sites discovered in Britain in the last 10 years.
The temple complex has been dated to the mid-2nd century AD, but the site was occupied from the earliest days of the Roman occupation, with clay and timber shops springing up around AD 50 on the Watling Street side of the site. Key finds include the Tabard inscription, which shows the earliest known naming of London, “Londinesi”, as well as a second tin object – a wide-mouthed bowl – and a life-size bronze foot.
Chemical tests on the pristine pot, which also has small circular grooves on the outside, have shown it to be made almost entirely of tin.
“The quality of the box is exquisite,” said Mr Grew. “The cap fits perfectly, it is water-tight and secure. Whoever used this pot would have been from the bourgeoisie of the Roman world. Tin was a precious metal at this time.”
“We’re lucky in London to have a marshy site where the contents of this sealed box must have been preserved very quickly – the metal is hardly corroded at all” added Ms Rosenberg.
The discovery of two Romano-Celtic temples along with a possible guesthouse has been an exciting and significant find: “It alters our whole perception – Southwark was a major religious focus of the Roman capital,” said Ms Rosenberg.
The box and its contents will be immediately placed on display at the Museum of London, along with other key finds.
Now that the excavation work has been completed, the site will not be preserved. The prime London site, owned by Berkeley Homes, will become a residential development.
The unveiling coincides with a call by the Mayor of London, English Heritage and the Museum of London for more Londoners to get involved in archaeology through the launch of the Research Framework for London Archaeology.
Underwater Stonehenge That Predates the Pyramids Confirmed in Switzerland
Archaeologists studying Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne have unearthed the remnants of a submerged Bronze Age village, suggesting people occupied the Lake Lucerne area 2,000 years earlier than previously thought.
As Swissinfo.ch reports, the new finds suggest that the area around the lake was settled 2,000 years earlier than previously thought.
Though researchers have long searched for proof of early habitation in the Lucerne region, a thick layer of mud had obscured traces of the village until recently.
As Per a statement from the local government, the construction of a pipeline at Lake Lucerne offered underwater archaeologists the chance to examine the lakebed up close.
The first dive took place in December 2019; between March 2020 and February 2021, reports Swissinfo.ch, the team recovered about 30 wooden poles and 5 ceramic fragments at depths of roughly 10 to 13 feet.
“These new finds from the Lucerne lake basin confirm that people settled here as early as 3,000 years ago,” says the statement, per Google Translate. “[W]ith this evidence, the city of Lucerne suddenly becomes around 2,000 years older than has been previously proven.”
Experts used radiocarbon analysis to date the artefacts to about 1000 B.C. when the lake level was more than 16 feet lower than it is today, writes Garry Shaw for the Art Newspaper.
According to the statement, these conditions “formed an ideal, easily accessible settlement area” around the lake basin.
The team identified the wooden sticks found at the site as supports used in pile dwellings, or prehistoric coastal houses that stood on stilts. Dwellings of this kind were common in and around the Alps between 5000 and 500 B.C., notes Unesco, and can provide researchers with useful insights into Europe’s Neolithic period and Bronze Age.
“The wood is very soft on the outside and hard on the inside,” archaeologist Andreas Mäder tells Swiss Radio and Television (SRF), per Google Translate. “Something like that is typical of prehistoric piles.”
For now, the scholars’ research is limited to the trench surrounding the underwater pipeline. Traces of other submerged settlements are likely hidden nearby, but the team will need additional funding to investigate the area further.
As Heritage Daily reports, Lake Lucerne is a 44-square-mile body of water that reaches depths of up to 1,424 feet. Per a second government statement, the city of Lucerne itself was established 800 years ago.
Written records indicate that humans had settled in the area by the eighth century A.D., but until now, archaeological evidence of earlier habitation was scant.
Lake Lucerne’s water level rose significantly in the millennia following the submerged village’s peak, with a weather-driven increase in rubble and debris buildup exacerbated by medieval residents’ construction of watermills and other buildings. The lake likely reached its current level during the 15th century, according to the statement.
The archaeologists’ announcement coincides with the tenth anniversary of Unesco adding “Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps” to its World Heritage List. In total, wrote Caroline Bishop for Local Switzerland in 2017, the listing includes 111 sites across Europe, including 56 in Switzerland.
As Unesco noted in a 2011 statement, “The settlements are a unique group of exceptionally well-preserved and culturally rich archaeological sites, which constitute one of the most important sources for the study of early agrarian societies in the region.”
18th-century graveyard found at the former Caribbean plantation
The Associated Press reports that investigation ahead of a construction project revealed an eighteenth-century cemetery on St. Eustatius, an island in the northeastern Caribbean Sea colonized by the Dutch in 1636.
An 18th-century burial ground has been discovered at a former sugar plantation on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius, officials said Monday, and archaeologists said it likely contains the remains of slaves and could provide a trove of information on the lives of enslaved people.
Government officials said 48 skeletons had been found at the site so far, most of them males, but also some females and infants.
Alexandre Hinton, the director of the St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research, said many more remains were expected to lie in the graves at the former Golden Rock Plantation.
“We are predicting that the number of individuals buried here will surpass the burial site discovered at Newton Plantation on Barbados, where 104 enslaved Africans were excavated. This is one of the largest sites of its kind ever discovered in the Caribbean,” she said.
Authorities said the site was found while archaeologists checked an area needed for the expansion of an airport.
“We knew the potential for archaeological discoveries in this area was high, but this cemetery exceeds all expectations,” Hinton said.
Given the location near the former plantation, Hinton said the graves most likely contain the remains of enslaved people.
“Initial analysis indicates that these are people of African descent,” she said. “To date, we have found two individuals with the dental modification that is a West African custom. Typically plantation owners did not allow enslaved persons to do this. These individuals are thus most likely first-generation enslaved people who were shipped to St. Eustatius.”
The majority of the burials contain remnants of coffins, coffin nails and objects that were buried with the deceased, such as several intact tobacco pipes, beads and ceramic plates. A coin from 1737 depicting King George II of England was found resting on a coffin lid.
Experts at several universities around the world will analyze the remains to learn more about the lives of the buried individuals.
Hinton said Leiden University in the Netherlands will conduct “stable isotope analysis” to determine the peoples’ diets as well as whether they were born on the island. Harvard will do the DNA analysis to find where the people came from, and England’s Northumbria University will do protein studies to discover what diseases they might have suffered.
One of the most important outcomes of the research will be a more thorough understanding of the lives of slaves in the Caribbean.
Most of what is known about their lives come from the writings of people in power, such as colonial administrators and plantation owners, sources that can be biased or incomplete.