"Screaming Mummy" Is Murderous Son of Ramses III?

Andrew Bossone in Cairo

for National Geographic News

November 21, 2008


An Egyptian mummy who died wearing a pained facial expression could be Prince Pentewere, suspected of plotting the murder of his father, Pharaoh Ramses III, according to a new analysis.


Recent examinations of the mummy, found in 1886 and now located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, have helped archaeologists piece together a story of attempted murder, suicide, and conspiracy.


"Two forces were acting upon this mummy: one to get rid of him and the other to try to preserve him," said Bob Brier, an archaeologist at the University of Long Island in New York who examined the body this year.


Called both "Unknown Man E" and the "Screaming Mummy" because of his open jaw and agonized expression, the mummy has baffled researchers since it was first uncovered.


Several archaeologists have proposed theories about the mummy's cause of death, saying he might have been buried alive or poisoned, or that he was a murdered Hittite prince during the reign of Tutankhamen.


Archaeologists now agree, however, that mummies are commonly found with their jaws open as a result of their heads falling back after death.


The Screaming Mummy was unlikely to have been a Hittite prince because that man probably would not have been mummified, according to those examining the corpse.


"They're not going to mummify this guy if they murdered him," Brier said. "They're going to get rid of the body."


The theory about poison, on the other hand, has not been totally ruled out.


Papyrus documents indicate a trial that took place in the 12th century B.C. for a wife of Pharaoh Ramses III. She was charged with conspiracy to murder the pharoah and put her son Pentewere in his place.


The mummy of Unknown Man E suggests an ignoble death, much like Pentewere would have received if this story were true, according to the archaeological team.


"We found this mummy is covered in sheepskin and the sheepskin," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.


"In the mind of the ancient Egyptian, this was not [something royal]," he added.


"To cover with sheepskin means he was not clean, he did something [bad] in his life," Hawass said.


Pentewere could have been sentenced to death by poison, after the murderous plans were revealed, according to Hawass and Brier.


The Unknown Man E was found without a grave marking, which would have prevented him from reaching the afterlife—a possible additional punishment for being part of a murder plot.


However, the denial of an afterlife contradicts careful mummification—something usually reserved for celebrated members of society, said Brier.


Brier, a mummification expert, believes the Unknown Man E was mummified quickly because he did not have his brain or internal organs removed, nor was he completely dehydrated. Additionally, crude methods were used for his mummification.


"[Resin] is normally introduced into the cranium after removing the brain," he explained. But in the case of the Screaming Mummy, new research has shown that resin was poured down the corpse's throat.


"That's kind of a half-hearted or desperate attempt," Brier said.


So why wasn't the body simply disposed of without mummification? An influential person could have cared about the body and made sure it was at least hastily mummified, rather than thrown away.


"For some reason there was an attempt to make sure that he doesn't have an afterlife, and in another attempt somebody cares about him and tried to override that," Brier said.


Archaeologists insist the theory that the Screaming Mummy is Prince Pentewere is still only speculation, and so far have only conducted a CT scan of the mummy.


Hawass said he plans to conduct DNA testing to confirm the connection to Ramses III.



Egypt says has found pyramid built for ancient queen

Tue 11 Nov 2008, 13:18 GMT

By Will Rasmussen

SAQQARA, Egypt, Nov 11 (Reuters Life!)


Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a pyramid buried in the desert and thought to belong to the mother of a pharaoh who ruled more than 4,000 years ago, Egypt's antiquities chief said on Tuesday.


The pyramid, found about two months ago in the sand south of Cairo, probably housed the remains of Queen Sesheshet, the mother of King Teti, who ruled from 2323 to 2291 BC and founded Egypt's Sixth Dynasty, Zahi Hawass told reporters.


"The only queen whose pyramid is missing is Shesheshet, which is why I am sure it belonged to her," Hawass said. "This will enrich our knowledge about the Old Kingdom."


The Sixth Dynasty, a time of conflict in Egypt's royal family and erosion of centralised power, is considered to be the last dynasty of the Old Kingdom, after which Egypt descended into famine and social upheaval.


Archaeologists had previously discovered pyramids belonging to two of the king's wives nearby, but had never found a tomb belonging to Sesheshet.


The headless, five-metre (16-foot) high pyramid originally reached about 14 metres, with sides 22 metres long, Hawass said.


The pyramid, which Hawass said was the 118th found in Egypt, was uncovered near the world's oldest pyramid at Saqqara, a burial ground for the rulers of ancient Egypt.


"This may be the most complete subsidiary pyramid ever found at Saqqara," Hawass said.


The monument was originally covered in a casing of white limestone brought from quarries at nearby Tura, Hawass said.


Archaeologists plan to enter the pyramid's burial chamber within two weeks, although most of its contents are likely to have been taken by thieves, Hawass said.


Artefacts including a wooden statue of the ancient Egyptian god Anubis and funerary figurines dating from a later period indicate that the cemetery had been reused through Roman times, Hawass said. (Writing by Will Rasmussen; editing by Ralph Boulton)



New pyramid found at Saqqara

Nevine El-Aref


Last week the announcement of the discovery at the Saqqara necropolis of the 4,300-year-old subsidiary pyramid of Queen Sesheshet, mother of King Teti I, the founder of the Sixth Dynasty, caught the headlines. Not only does it bring the number of pyramids discovered in Egypt to 118, but it enriches our knowledge of the Sixth Dynasty and its royal family members.


Sesheshet's pyramid, found seven metres beneath the sands of the Saqqara necropolis, is five metres in height, although originally it reached about 14 metres. The base is square and the sides of the pyramid slope at an angle of 51 degrees. The entire monument was originally cased in fine white limestone from Tura, of which some remnants were also unearthed. Ushabti (model servant) figurines dating from the third Intermediate Period were also found in the area, along with a New Kingdom chapel decorated with a scene of offerings being made to Osiris. Also found were a group of Late Period coffins, a wooden statue of the god Anubis, amulets, and a symbolic vessel in the shape of a cartouche containing the remains of a green substance. These objects will be transported to the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square where they will be restored and put on display.


According to Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), who led the excavation team, the finds show that the entire area of the Old Kingdom cemetery of Teti was reused from the New Kingdom through to the Roman Period.


Culture Minister Farouk Hosni described it as "a great discovery" and said he wished that within the next couple of weeks excavators could find more of the funerary complex of the queen.


"Sesheshet's pyramid is the third subsidiary pyramid to be discovered within Teti's cemetery," Hawass said. He added that earlier excavations at the site had revealed the pyramid of King Teti's two wives, Khuit and Iput. "This might be the most complete subsidiary pyramid ever found at Saqqara," he said.


Scholars have long believed that Khuit was Teti's secondary wife, but excavations and studies proved that her pyramid was built before that of Queen Iput, who was previously believed to have been Teti's chief queen. The fact that her pyramid was built before Iput's, however, tells us that Khuit was in fact the primary royal wife. Previous excavations at this site have also revealed the funerary temple of Queen Khuit, offering much new information about the decorative codes of queens' monuments of the period.


"No one can ever know what's hidden beneath the sands of Egypt," Hawass told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that the excavators had been somewhat surprised to find a pyramid within Teti's cemetery since they thought the area had been thoroughly explored.


In fact, he continued, over the last century, since French archaeologists Auguste Mariette found Teti's pyramid, archaeologists had used the area as a sand dump as they considered it empty and without anything of interest.


Teti's pyramid is mostly a pile of rubble constantly threatened with being covered by sand. There is a steep pathway that leads to the burial chamber, where the walls are decorated with the pyramid texts and the ceiling decorated with stars. Inside the chamber was found an undecorated sarcophagus containing a mummified arm and a shoulder, presumably Teti's.


Up to now no other parts of Teti's pyramid complex; the valley temple and causeway have been discovered. However, in addition to the subsidiary pyramids of the king's wives and mother, tombs of his consorts and viziers have been found. Among these are those of his chancellors Mereruka and Kagemni.


The archaeologists found that a shaft had been created in Sesheshet's pyramid to allow access to her burial chamber, so they do not expect to find Sesheshet's mummy when they reach the burial chamber within the coming two weeks. However, they anticipate finding inscriptions about the queen, whose name, according to Hawass, was only known from being mentioned in a medical papyrus containing a recipe, supposedly created to her request, to strengthen the hair.


It is also believed that Queen Sesheshet was instrumental in enabling her son to gain the throne and reconciling two warring factions of the royal family. The dynasty that arose with her son is considered part of the Old Kingdom portion of the history of Egypt, a term designated by modern historians. There was no break in the royal lines or the location of the capital from its predecessors, but significant cultural advances occurred to prompt the designation of different periods by scholars.


Until the recent rediscovery of her pyramid, little contemporary evidence about her had been found. Her estates under the title King's Mother are mentioned in the tomb of the early Sixth-Dynasty vizier Mehu, and she is referenced in passing as the mother of King Teti in the remedy for baldness in the Ebers Papyrus.


After the death of Unas, the last king of the Fifth Dynasty, Teti took the throne. The exact length of his reign is not known as it was destroyed in the Turin Kings' List, but the last year that can be attributed to his reign was the year of the sixth cattle count, which means roughly 11 years.


Many of the officials and administrators from the reign of Unas remained during the rule of Teti, who seemed intent on restabilising the central government. So far nothing is shown about his military campaigns or trade agreements, but it is assumed that diplomatic relations between north and south continued in the customary way. He quarried in the south and imported timber for building from Syria.


Teti granted land to Abydos by decree, and he was also the first known king with links to the cult of the goddess Hathor in Dendereh. Reliefs found at Abydos show that he exempted the area from taxes, probably because of a bad harvest or inundation.


During Teti's reign high officials were beginning to build funerary monuments that rivalled that of the king. For example, his chancellor Mereruka built a large mastaba consisting of 32 rooms, all richly carved. This is considered a sign that wealth was being transferred from the central court to the officials, a slow process that culminated in the end to the Old Kingdom.


Teti may have been murdered by the usurper Userkare; the historian Manetho states that he was murdered by his palace bodyguards in a harem plot.



Bulgarian archaeologists discover ancient chariot

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP)


Archaeologists have unearthed a well-preserved 1,800-year-old bronze chariot at an ancient Thracian tomb in southeastern Bulgaria, the head of the excavation said Friday.


"The lavishly ornamented four-wheel chariot dates back to the end of the second century A.D.," Veselin Ignatov told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the site, near the southeastern village of Karanovo.


He said it was found in a funerary mound that archaeologists believe was the grave of a wealthy Thracian aristocrat, as he was buried with his belongings.


Along with the chariot, which was decorated with scenes from mythology, the team unearthed well-preserved wooden and leather objects, some of which the archaeologists believe were horse harnesses.


In August, excavations at another ancient Thracian tomb in the same region revealed another four-wheel chariot.


About 10,000 Thracian mounds — some of them covering monumental stone tombs — are scattered across Bulgaria.


The Thracians were an ancient people who inhabited the lands of present-day Bulgaria and parts of modern Greece, Turkey, Macedonia and Romania between 4,000 B.C. and the 6th century A.D., when they were assimilated by the invading Slavs.


New Hebrew University excavations strengthen identification of Herod's grave at Herodium

Including revelation of more family sarcophagi, theater and 'VIP' room

Public release date: 19-Nov-2008

Contact: Jerry Barach



The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Jerusalem, November 19, 2008 – Analysis of newly revealed items found at the site of the mausoleum of King Herod at Herodium (Herodion in Greek) have provided Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeological researchers with further assurances that this was indeed the site of the famed ruler's 1st century B.C.E. grave.


Herod was the Roman-appointed king of Judea from 37 to 4 B.C.E., who was renowned for his many monumental building projects, including the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the palace at Masada, the harbor and city of Caesarea, as well as the palatial complex at Herodium, 15 kilometers south of Jerusalem.


On the basis of a study of the architectural elements uncovered at the site, the researchers have been able to determine that the mausoleum, among the remains of which Herod's sarcophagus was found, was a lavish two-story structure with a concave-conical roof, about 25 meters high – a structure fully appropriate to Herod's status and taste. The excavations there have also yielded many fragments of two additional sarcophagi, which the researchers estimate to have been members of Herod's family.


The mausoleum, says Prof. Ehud Netzer, director of the excavations, was deliberately destroyed by the Jewish rebels who occupied the site during the First Jewish Revolt against the Romans which started in about 66 C.E.


Also found in the latest excavations are the remains of an intimate theater just below and to the west of the mausoleum, with seats for some 650 to 750 spectators, and a loggia (a kind of VIP viewing and hospitality room) located at the top of the theater seats and decorated with wall paintings and plaster moldings in a style that has not been seen thus far in Israel. The style is known to have existed in Rome and Campania in Italy and is dateable between 15 and 10 B.C.E. Thus far only one wall painting scene has been found intact, though there are traces of others in the room. .


The dating of the wall paintings makes it reasonable to assume, says Prof. Netzer, that the construction of the theater might be linked to Roman general and politician Marcus Agrippa's visit to Herodium in 15 B.C.E. The theater and its lavish loggia were deliberately destroyed for the creation of the conical artificial mount that constitutes the widely known popular image of the Herodium site and that apparently was built at the very end of Herod's reign.


Prof. Netzer is convinced that Herodium would never have been built had it not been for Herod's known determination, made at the beginning of his career, to be buried in this isolated, arid area. He undoubtedly personally chose the exact location for his mausoleum since it overlooks Jerusalem and its surroundings. This led to his decision to make the entire complex the "crowning glory" of his outstanding building career and to name it after himself.


The extensive site, which probably will not be fully excavated for many years to come, if ever, includes a huge palatial complex, the theater, and a "country club" of sorts, including a large pool, baths and gardens, in addition to Herod's burial installations and mausoleum. The palace was the largest of its kind in the Roman world of that time and must have attracted yearly hundreds, if not thousands, of guests, says Prof. Netzer.


A description of Herodium, as well as of Herod's funeral procession there, can be found in the writings of the ancient Roman-era historian, Flavius Josephus.


The excavations, on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have been conducted with the assistance of the Israel Exploration Society, with contributions by individuals and Yad-Hanadiv foundation. There also has been financial aid from the National Geographic Society. Also collaborating in the excavations are the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Gush Etzion Regional Council. The Israel Museum will launch in 2010 an exhibition of the findings there.


Working with Prof. Netzer at the site have been Yaakov Kalman, Roi Porath and Rachel Chachy-Laureys of the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology. Restoration work of the coffins was carried out by Orna Cohen, and the laboratory of the Israel Museum helped with the consolidation of the wall paintings.


Prof. Netzer is hopeful that with the further findings at Herodium, there will be increased visits to the site by Israelis and tourists, and that the overall area might be converted into a national park.


Shaul Goldstein, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, said that "the Gush Etzion Regional Council views the Herodium National Park as an important historic site worthy of great investment in order to assure its preservation. In recent years, the council has worked diligently in order to preserve and develop the site through the investment of millions of shekels, half of which has been devoted to the excavations by Prof. Netzer, and half in the development of the visitor facilities there. Additionally, the council also allocates significant sums every year in publicizing the site, along with the Nature and Parks Authority."


Dr. Netzer's work is the cover story of the December issue of National Geographic magazine, published in English and 31 local-language editions. In addition, a documentary film on the subject, "Herod's Lost Tomb," will premiere on Sunday, Nov. 23, at 9 p.m. (Eastern U.S. Time and Pacific Time) on the National Geographic Channel-US and internationally at various times in 166 countries, beginning in late November.


Note: For photos from the site and reconstruction drawings, click on the following:




Gold collar found in field 'best Iron Age loot in 50 years': report



An amateur treasure hunter hit gold when he found an Iron Age collar worth more than 350,000 pounds (414,000 euros, 520,000 dollars) in a field, a newspaper reported Thursday.


Maurice Richardson, who unearthed the 2,200-year-old gold collar near Newark will not get to keep it but has received an undisclosed reward and his lucky find has been acquired by his local museum.


"I was only in the field because a customer kept me late," Richardson, a tree surgeon, told the Guardian newspaper.


"Normally I'd never want to go into this field because a plane crashed there in the last war, and the whole place is littered with bits of metal."


Richardson's first discovery in the field was a piece of World War Two scrap metal but as he bent down to throw it away, his metal detector emitted a louder beep.


It was then that he discovered the collar, which was hailed by a leading expert as one of the most important finds of its kind in years.


"It's a fabulous thing, the best Iron Age find in 50 years," JD Hill, head of the British Museum in London's Iron Age department, told the paper.


"When I first saw a picture of it, I thought somebody was pulling my leg because it is so like the Sedgeford torc in our collection that it must have been made by the same hand.


"What is fascinating about it is that it turned up where no torc should be -- to put it mildly, the Newark region is not known for major high-status Iron Age finds."


The BBC reported that the necklace was the most expensive single piece of treasure found by a member of the public in over a decade.

On the Net:


·        Portable Antiquities Scheme website: http://www.finds.org.uk



Remains of Iron Age fort found in Wednesbury

Nov 15 2008 by Steve Johnson, Birmingham Mail


ARCHAEOLOGISTS have uncovered what could be the remains of an ancient Iron Age hill fort in the Black Country.


The exciting find was made during a dig on behalf of the Black Country Housing Group and a group of eager schoolchildren were on hand to witness it.


The community regeneration agency invited pupils from the nearby St Mary’s RC primary school in Wednesbury to watch the dig opposite St Mary’s Church and meet with archaeologists.


The land has been earmarked by the group and the church for 35 apartments for frail and elderly people, as well as a small number of units for people with learning disabilities.


The scheme will also include a replacement for the existing church hall.


BCHG commissioned the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust to carry out an archaeological survey on the site before the development work starts.


As well as the potential remains of the fort, the team also found fragments of Saxon pottery dating back to the 11th Century.


Sharon Fereday, development manager with BCHG, said: “This is potentially a very exciting find, not just for Wednesbury but for the wider West Midlands. We are thrilled that the school children were able to see the dig in action.


“The archaeologists will continue to work on the site and trace its history. Once all the evidence has been recorded and analysed and the ground re-landscaped, BCHG will submit a planning application for the development of the site.”


Under the development plans, the presbytery will be re-sited near to the church. The apartments will be managed by nuns in association with the church and follow the lines of a similar scheme at Walsall.


Trust archaeologist Anna Wallis said: “It has long been thought that an Iron Age hill fort was located on this site in Wednesbury but no firm evidence has ever been found to support this. We will now try and use dating evidence to analyse whether what we have found confirms the fort’s existence.”


Pam peeler, deputy head at St Mary’s, said the children had thoroughly enjoyed visiting the site and seeing the dig.


“To be part of such a potentially exciting discovery was the icing on the cake. It helped make the history of the area come alive for the youngsters and we would like to thank BCHG for inviting us along.”



Massive Prehistoric Fort Emerges From Welsh Woods

James Owen

for National Geographic News

November 21, 2008


Cloaked by time's leafy shroud, the prehistoric settlement of Gaer Fawr lies all but invisible beneath a forest in the lush Welsh countryside.


Commanded by warrior chiefs who loomed over the everyday lives of their people, the massive Iron Age fortress once dominated the landscape.


Now the 2,900-year-old structure lives again, thanks to a digital recreation following a painstaking survey by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.


The Iron Age hill fort in central Wales was a major feat of civil engineering, researchers say.


"Because Gaer Fawr is densely wooded, it's been little understood in the past," said Royal Commission archaeologist Toby Driver.


"Our new survey has shown what a very impressive and advanced building it was.


"This was a very bold architectural statement by Iron Age people," he said.


The study involved thousands of measurements taken in 2007, which were used build a digital terrain model of the 21-acre (5.8-hectare) site.


Measurements were made manually using lasers beamed to handheld posts, each bearing a reflector, Driver said.


"The thought behind the survey was that if we could map the contours underneath the woods, we could then strip the trees off and then see what the fort looked like in the landscape," he added.


The results show the oval-shaped stronghold was defended by five tiers of stone-faced earthen ramparts, each measuring up to 26 feet (8 meters) in height.


Two entranceways led up to gates to the northeast and southwest of the summit, where a timber fortress once stood.


The hill fort's flat summit was later extended to the west, possibly to accommodate a growing population.


"It's not a single build," Driver said. "New ramparts and new gateways were constructed over earlier ones."


Past archaeological finds, including a nearby cache of Bronze Age weapons, suggest the hill fort was active from about 900 B.C. until the Roman invasion of Britain in A.D. 43.


A bronze sculpture of a wild boar—a symbol of power—discovered in the 19th century in an adjacent field might be a relic of the ancient chiefs who ruled over Gaer Fawr, Driver suggested.


"It's a very rare find," he said. "One could conceive someone fairly powerful running the fort with this bronze boar mounted on his helmet."


The study team says the fort occupied a strategically important area for trade and agriculture between the fertile plains of England and the Welsh hills.


The border region has the highest concentration of Iron Age hill forts in Western Europe, Driver noted.


"This land would have supported a lot of people and hill forts would have risen up to control these populations," he said.


Phil Bennett is archaeological manager of one of the few extensively excavated Iron Age forts in Britain: Castell Henllys in southwestern Wales.


Larger hill forts such as Gaer Fawr commanded the surrounding landscape not just visually, but in terms of natural resources, Bennett said.


Huge amounts of timber would have been required both for building the fort palisades—strong defensive fences—and the dwellings people lived in, he said.


Roundhouses—circular buildings used as living quarters—excavated at Castell Henllys, for example, are estimated to have required some 30 oak trees, 80 to 100 hazel bushes, and 2,000 bundles of reeds, Bennett said.


"We think these hill forts owed as much to elites showing off their status and power as any real need for defense," he added.


The terraced ramparts wouldn't have held an enemy at bay for long, according Bennett.


"Probably what was going on in the Iron Age was raiding rather than sieges and open warfare," Bennett said. "They would have taken things like cattle and people as slaves."


Another newly revealed feature at Gaer Fawr also hints at a much later period of occupation.


An angular bank dividing the interior of the fort is so different from the site's other earthworks that researchers suspect it dates to early medieval times.


"The fort has these prehistoric curving ramparts, but when you get to the top there's this big, straight bank which is very unprehistoric," the study team's Driver said.


After the Roman period, Welsh princes rose to prominence in the region, he added. "It may be that Gaer Fawr, in common with other hilltops in central Wales, was occupied by the court or castle of one of these early Welsh princes," Driver said.


Today, the once majestic site is a woodland recreation area.


"It's very difficult to imagine you're walking over an Iron Age hill fort," Driver said.



Hadrian's wall boosted economy for ancient Britons, archaeologists discover

Far from being a hated symbol of military occupation, Hadrian's Wall was the business opportunity of a lifetime for ancient Britons, archaeologists have discovered.

By Patrick Sawer

Last Updated: 3:35PM GMT 22 Nov 2008


The 73-mile long Roman wall, built in AD 122 to defend the Roman Empire from hostile Celtic tribes, created a thriving economy to serve the occupying army, according to aerial surveys.


Farmers, traders, craftsmen, labourers and prostitutes seized the occasion to make money from the presence of hundreds of Roman troops.


"Some of the local population will have seen the opportunity presented by the occupying forces and gone for it," said David MacLeod, of English Heritage. "There are entrepreneurs in every society ready to go for the main chance."


The research carried out by English Heritage has revealed over 2,700 previously unrecorded historic features, including prehistoric burial mounds and first century farmsteads, medieval sheep farms, 19th century lead mines and even a WWII gun battery, sited along the 15 foot high wall which stretched from Wallsend on the English east coast to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast.


The study, based on over 30,000 aerial photographs taken over the last 60 years, offers an insight into the impact of the wall on the area's history and landscape.


Among the most startling discoveries are dozens of Roman-era farms and settlements strung out along a 15 mile corridor either side of the 10ft thick wall.


Instead of being wiped out by the Romans, the local population appears to have flourished as part of a booming military economy.


One farm trapped between the new wall and the gigantic defensive earthworks built by the Romans appears to have adapted to its new surroundings – much like a modern farm stuck between two motorways.


Other aerial shots show significant settlements next to the wall's military forts at sites such as Chesters and Housesteads – suggesting the presence of a large civilian population providing services to the Roman legionnaires and officers.


Mr MacLeod, senior investigator for English Heritage's aerial survey and investigating team, said: "Having got over the first shock of the invasion and occupation the native population began to see the potential created by the presence of the Roman garrison.


"The building of the wall appears to have provided a boost to the local economy. A sophisticated network seems to have grown up to supply the new market created by the occupation."


He said the survey found photographic evidence of several farmsteads and field networks on either side of the wall which would have adapted themselves to supply crops, livestock and other raw materials, such as leather, to the Romans.


Mr MacLeod added: "The Romans preferred to pacify the natives without resorting to violence, as its military force was dependent on the local population to provide it with goods and services.


"Every Roman fort along the wall attracted a motley collection of people selling food, alcohol and crafts, as well as labourers and even prostitutes."


The arrival of the Romans in the north of England would have also led to an influx of new consumer goods, with wine, olive oil, new types of jewellery and glassware made available to the local population for the first time.


"The locals would have had to pay taxes, but there must have been substantial economic benefits going both ways," said Mr MacLeod.


The aerial survey has emphasised the uniqueness of Hadrian's Wall and drawn attention to the wealth of human activity in the region which preceded the arrival of the Romans and continued after their departure.


At Errington Hill Head, near Hexham, the corduroy patterns of Medieval field cultivation are visible from the air, lying beneath a landscape now used as pasture, while earthwork remains show the outline of the Medieval manor and village of Ingoe, Northumberland.


Mr MacLeod said: "We need to remember that Hadrian's Wall is not an isolated monument set within a landscape devoid of any other history. This region saw a tremendous amount of activity before the Romans arrived and after they left, traces of which remain today."


One of the most vivid aerial shots, taken by the RAF in August 1945, shows an anti-aircraft gun battery defending nearby shipyards from German bombardment. Close inspection reveals that close to the guns was a baseball diamond, signalling the presence of a more recent foreign army in the shadow of Hadrian's Wall.



Five longhouses found in latest archaeological dig

Human remains re-interred elsewhere

By Jeff Helsdon

Staff Writer


Excavation of the largest Native village in North America, dating from the 1300s to 1400s, was recently completed in Tillsonburg.


The area excavated was on Quarterline Road, in front of the Tillsonburg soccer park. The property is owned by Bamford Homes and Bethel Temple. Bamford Homes' plans are to erect a 25-unit condominium building there, similar to King Richard’s Court.


Taking earlier findings at the soccer park in 2001 into consideration, the area once held 15 longhouse structures. It is the largest settlement on the continent from the Iroquoian period and dates back to 1300 to 1400 AD. Iroquoian shouldn’t be confused with today’s Iroquois band.


“These people would be ancestors of people the Jesuits encountered in the Hamilton and Niagara Peninsula area,” said Jim Wilson, president of Archaeologix Inc., the company that undertook the excavation. “We refer to them as the prehistoric neutrals.”


The village would have once been home to 600 to 700 people. Inhabitants of the village would have been farmers, growing corn beans, squash and sunflowers to augment their hunted meat diet.


“By this point, people were living in an agricultural village, and probably 50 per cent of their annual food intake would have come from material grown as opposed to animals they hunted,” Wilson said.


The village was a permanent fixture, occupied year-round. After 15 to 20 years, the location of such villages would be moved as the supply of firewood diminished and soil nutrients were depleted.


During the six-week excavation of the current site, five longhouses were unearthed. Two of the structures were almost 90 metres in length and 7.5 metres in width.


“In a house of that length, you could have had 50 to 60 people,” Wilson said.


When the top soil was removed, a circular stain was left in the subsoil where posts once stood. Such marks remain visible for a couple thousand years. Soil is removed carefully and screened for artifacts.


The latest site is presenting a much more complete picture of the village as work had already started when Archaeologix was called for an earlier assessment of the soccer park. Since the soil was removed in a controlled fashion this time, Wilson said 100 per cent of artifacts were recovered to offer more data.


“We have a much more complete collection of artifacts and data,” he said.


Some of the artifacts recovered include: arrowheads, carbonized corn, fragments of smoking pipes, pottery and bone tools. Bones from animals that were consumed were also found on the site. These were mostly deer, but Wilson said the people were opportunistic and bones of everything from small animals such as turtles, fish, birds, and raccoons to groundhog to fox and bear were discovered. Elk were already rare by that time.


As was the case on the soccer park site, human remains were found in the portion that was recently excavated. The remains were moved and interred in an unmarked grave earlier this week. Members of Six Nations of Grand River took part in the ceremony.


Now the excavation is complete, Wilson said it would take six weeks to wash and catalogue the materials. A final report will then be prepared for the Ministry of Culture. The ministry will hold the artifacts in a London facility.



Mary Rose sunk by French cannonball

By Jasper Copping

Last Updated: 10:35PM GMT 15 Nov 2008


For almost 500 years, the sinking of the Mary Rose has been blamed on poor seamanship and the fateful intervention of a freak gust of wind which combined to topple her over.


Now, academics believe the vessel, the pride of Henry VIII's fleet, was actually sunk by a French warship – a fact covered up by the Tudors to save face.


The Mary Rose, which was raised from the seabed in 1982 and remains on public display in Portsmouth, was sunk in 1545, as Henry watched from the shore, during the Battle of The Solent, a clash between the English fleet and a French invasion force.


Traditionally, historians have blamed the sinking, not on the intervention of the French, but on a recklessly sharp turn and the failure to close gun ports, allowing water to flood in.


To exacerbate the situation, the craft, already overladen with soldiers on the top decks, was also struck by a strong gust of wind.


But new research, carried out by academics at the University of Portsmouth, suggests the ship was fatally holed by a cannonball fired from a much smaller French galley.


They have analysed a remarkably detailed engraving of the battle, created shortly after the event, and used modern mapping techniques to create a virtual 3D account of the battle.


Calculating the tides on the day, and using primary sources about the prevailing wind patterns and movement of the ships, they have been able to establish the limited manoeuvres that each ship could have taken.


It shows how the Mary Rose would have found herself directly in the firing line of the French galleys.


Dr Dominic Fontana, who led the research, said: "The trigger that made the whole situation uncontrollable was the French getting a cannonball through the side of the ship.


"Those watching onshore would not have known anything about flooding in the hull and it would have appeared as though she had been caught by a freak gust of wind and blown over.


"It would have been embarrassing enough for Henry that the ship sunk in front of him, but it is not unreasonable that if he discovered what had happened he would not have wanted to have it credited to the French."


Dr Fontana believes the ship was holed close to the water line by a cannonball fired from a group of fast, oar-powered French galleys, which mounted a series of raids on the becalmed English fleet.


According to his research, the fatal shot was fired when the Mary Rose was unable to return salvos, either when she was still at anchor, or shortly after that, when she was forced to set sail as the tide turned and threatened to leave the English fleet increasingly exposed to the French fire.


Once she set off, more water flooded into the hull, making the vessel increasingly unstable and low in the water.


"The water in her hold would have had a significant effect on her handling and her stability would have been severely compromised," he said.


"The additional weight of water would also have pushed her open gunports closer to the waterline than they should have been, making disaster inevitable once the sea flowed rapidly in through them."


Dr Fontana, who worked as part of original Mary Rose project as a photographer before becoming an academic geographer, said: "She would have quickly taken quite a quantity of water into her hull before she manoeuvred to bring a broadside of guns to bear on the attacking French galleys."


That manoeuvre, to put her in a position so that her guns could be unleashed on the French, was her undoing because the sudden movement of water in the hold caused her to capsize and sink with the loss of more than 400 lives.


To support the new theory, the academics also point to possible shot damage discovered on the muzzle of one of the Mary Rose's big guns as well as finds of a large cannonball made of French granite found within the ship and fragments of lead shot found outside the vessel.


When the wreck was raised, skeletal remains were found in the hold, along with carpentry tools, indicating they may have been trying to carry out repairs to damage in the hull moments before the ship sank.


Dr Fontana believes the fatal hole was blasted in the port side, probably near towards the stern – a part of the vessel that has eroded away.


"The ship had sailed successfully for 34 years before sinking. It wouldn't have come to grief without cause," Dr Fontana said. "The ship wasn't behaving as she should have done and a hole caused by the French seems to be the logical reason."


The new research involved studying the 'Cowdray Engraving', a large picture of the battle which was originally a wall painting in the dining parlour of Cowdray House, in Midhurst, Sussex.


It was lost when Cowdray House caught fire in 1793 but the team used a detailed engraving made shortly before the fire and applied advanced Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology to reveal the positions of each of the ships involved in the action. They then integrated this data with tidal currents hour by hour over the period of the battle.


"Changing currents are crucial to our understanding of the tactics which may have been employed by both the French and the English. The GIS brings all of this information together so that it becomes possible to determine the potential movements of individual vessels.


"The engraving is not a snapshot. It is more of a narrative, with all the elements to tell you what happened on the day and the fate of the Mary Rose.


"If you combine the engraving with the geography of the area, the tide tables and our knowledge of the wind on the day, it makes it possible to read the written accounts by eye witnesses and work out what path the Mary Rose and other vessels took during the action."


The engraving shows four French galleys, one of which is firing at the Mary Rose, located at a shallow point of The Solent called No-man's-land. Larger warships were unable to traverse this area.


Christopher Dobbs, archaeologist at the Mary Rose museum, added: "As an archaeologist, I have studied the remaining evidence from the ship. But as we have nothing left of the port side, it is helpful for people from other fields to contribute their own theories and ideas."


The new findings feature in a new documentary, "What really sunk the Mary Rose?", to be screened on the History Channel, on November 24.



Hair in book helps identify Copernicus's remains

WARSAW, Poland (AP)


Researchers said Thursday they had identified the remains of Nicolaus Copernicus by comparing DNA from a skeleton and hair retrieved from one of the 16th-century astronomer's books.


The findings could put an end to centuries of speculation about the exact resting spot of Copernicus, a priest and astronomer whose theories identified the Sun, not the Earth, as the center of the solar system.


Polish archaeologist Jerzy Gassowski told a news conference that forensic facial reconstruction of the skull that his team found in 2005 buried in a Roman Catholic Cathedral in Frombork, Poland, bears striking resemblance to existing portraits of Copernicus.


The reconstruction shows a broken nose and other features that resemble a self-portrait of Copernicus, and the skull bears a cut mark above the left eye that corresponds with a scar shown in the painting.


Moreover, the skull belonged to a man aged around 70 -- Copernicus's age when he died in 1543.


In addition, Swedish genetics expert Marie Allen found that DNA from a tooth and femur bone matched that taken from two hairs retrieved from a book that the 16th-century Polish astronomer owned, which is kept at a library of Sweden's Uppsala University where Allen works.


Gassowski is head of the Archaeology and Anthropology Institute in Pultusk, in central Poland, and Allen works at the Rudbeck Laboratory of the Genetics and Pathology Department of Uppsala University.


Copernicus was known to have been buried in the 14th-century Frombork Cathedral where he served as a canon, but his grave was not marked. The bones found by Gassowski were located under floor tiles near one of the altars.


Gassowski's team started his search in 2004, on request from regional Catholic bishop, Jacek Jezierski.


Copernicus is believed to have come up with his main idea of the Sun at the center of the solar system between 1508 and 1514, and during those years wrote a manuscript commonly known as Commentariolus (Little Commentary).


His final thesis was only published, however, in the year of his death. His ideas challenged the Bible, the church and past theories, and they had important consequences for future thinkers, including Galileo, Descartes and Newton.