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http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=120448&CultureCode=en

New Archaeological discoveries in Peru

22 May 2012 Libre de Bruxelles, Université

 

A team of archaeologists from the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) has discovered a spectacular tomb containing more than eighty individuals of different ages. This discovery – provisionally dated to around 1000 years ago – was made at the site of Pachacamac, which is currently under review for UNESCO

World Heritage status.

 

Pachacamac, situated on the Pacific coast about thirty kilometres from Lima, is one of the largest Prehispanic sites in South America. Professor Peter Eeckhout – under the auspices of the ULB – has been carrying out fieldwork at the site for the past 20 years. The 2012 season resulted in some particularly remarkable discoveries.

 

The Ychsma Project team undertook to record and excavate a series of Inca storage facilities (15th-16th c. AD), as well as a more ancient cemetery which had been detected during exploratory work in 2004.

 

It was here – directly in front of the Temple of Pachacamac – that the most important discovery was made. A scatter of later period burials was found to conceal an enormous burial chamber 20 metres long ; miraculously, it had survived the pillaging of the colonial period – which was particularly intensive on this site – and was completely intact.

 

The tomb is oval in outline, excavated into the earth and covered with a roof of reeds supported by carved and shaped tree trunks. A dozen newborn babies and infants were distributed around the perimeter, their heads oriented towards the tomb. The main chamber was seperated into two sections, separated by a wall of mud bricks which served as a base for yet more burials.

 

Inside the chambers, the archaeologists uncovered the remains of more than 70 skeletons and mummies (many of which still retained their wrappings), all in the characteristic fœtal position. The burials represented both sexes and all ages, and were often accompanied by offrenda including ceramic vessels, animals (dogs, guinea pigs), copper and gold alloy artefacts, masks (or ‘false heads’) in painted wood, calabashes, etc. These items are currently under restoration and analysis. Babies and very young infants were particularly common.

 

The team’s group of physical anthropologists, under the direction of Dr Lawrence Owens (University

of London), have posited the possibility of a genetic relationship between many of the individuals, on the basis of certain morphological traits recorded in the skeletons. Certain of the individuals suffered mortal injuries, physical trauma or serious illness.

 

Previous work by the Ychsma Project has revealed the extensive presence of disease in the Pachacamac skeletal population, leading to the suggestion that the affected individuals had, as testified by Inca sources, travelled to the site in search of a cure: a form of Prehispanic Lourdes.

 

Professor Eeckhout and his colleagues are currently carrying out laboratory analyses aimed at answering numerous questions that have arisen concerning this discovery, and how to contextualise it within the wider context of the site and the period(s) in question. Were the infants sacrificed ? Were the bodies all interred at the same time as a form of communal burial, or was the chamber reused over longer periods of time like some sort of crypt? Did the individuals come from Pachacamac or further afield? Did they belong to the same family or larger kinship group ? What was their cause of death…?

 

The artefacts found in the tomb date it stylistically to around 1000 AD, although this is yet to be confirmed radiometrically. The importance of the site cannot be overstated: Pachacamac is a candidate for inclusion on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Ychsma Project benefits from the support of the ULB’s Centre for Archaeological and Heritage Research, the ULB Foundation, and from the National Fund for Scientific Research.

 

http://ulb.ac.be

 

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120524092226.htm

Oldest Art Even Older: New Dates from Geißenklösterle Cave Show Early Arrival of Modern Humans, Art and Music

New dates from Geißenklösterle Cave in Southwest Germany document the early arrival of modern humans and early appearance of art and music.

ScienceDaily (May 24, 2012)

 

Researchers from Oxford and Tübingen have published new radiocarbon dates from the from Geißenklösterle Cave in Swabian Jura of Southwestern Germany in the Journal of Human Evolution. The new dates use improved methods to remove contamination and produced ages between began between 42,000 – 43,000 years ago for start of the Aurignacian, the first culture to produce a wide range of figurative art, music and other key innovations as postulated in the Kulturpumpe Hypothesis. The full spectrum of these innovations were established in the region no later than 40 000 years ago.

These are the earliest radiocarbon dates of Aurignacian deposits, and they predate Aurignacian dates from Italy, France, England and other regions. These results are consistent with the Danube Corridor hypothesis postulating that modern humans migrated to Europe and rapidly moved up the Danube drainage. Geißenklösterle Cave is one of several caves in the Swabian Jura that have produced important examples of personal ornaments, figurative art, mythical imagery and musical instruments. The new dates from Geißenklösterle together with existing dates using thermoluminescence confirm the great antiquity of the Swabian Aurignacian.

The new dates indicate that modern humans entered the Upper Danube region prior to an extremely cold climatic phase referred to as the H4 event dating to ca. 40 000 years ago. Previously, researchers had argued that modern humans initially migrated up the Danube immediately following the H4 event. As it now looks modern humans entered southwestern Germany during a mild phase of the last Ice Age, under climactic conditions, which should have been inhabitable by indigenous populations of Neanderthals. Despite a major effort to identify archaeological signatures of interaction between Neanderthals and modern humans, researchers have yet to identify indications of cultural contact between these groups in Upper Danube region.

These results point to the Upper Danube Valley as a plausible homeland for the Aurignacian, with the Swabian caves producing the earliest record of technological and artistic innovations that are characteristic of the this period. Whether the many innovations best documented in Swabia were stimulated by climatic stress, competition between modern humans and Neanderthals or by other social-cultural dynamics remains a central focus of research by the archaeologists from Tübingen and Oxford. High-resolution dating of the kind reported here is essential for establishing a reliable the chronology for testing hypothesis to explain the expansion of modern humans into Europe, the processes that led to a wide range of cultural innovations including the advent of figurative art and music, and the extinction of Neanderthals.

 

Journal Reference:

Thomas Higham, Laura Basell, Roger Jacobi, Rachel Wood, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Nicholas J. Conard. Τesting models for the beginnings of the Aurignacian and the advent of figurative art and music: The radiocarbon chronology of Geißenklösterle. Journal of Human Evolution, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2012.03.003

 

http://www.sci-news.com/archaeology/article00343.html

Earliest Musical Instruments Date Back 42000 Years

Oxford and Tübingen scientists have identified what they believe are the world’s oldest known musical instruments.

Published: May 25th, 2012 Archaeology | By John Shanks

 

In their paper in the Journal of Human Evolution, the scientists report new results of radiocarbon dating for animal bones, excavated in the same archaeological layers as the musical instruments and early art, at Geißenklösterle Cave in the Swabian Jura of southern Germany.

 

The musical instruments take the form of flutes made from the bird bones and mammoth ivory. The animal bones bear cuts and marks from human hunting and eating. They were excavated at a key site, which is widely believed to have been occupied by some of first modern humans to arrive in Europe.

 

The researchers suggest that the Aurignacian, a culture linked with early modern humans and dating to the Upper Paleolithic period, began at the site between 42,000 and 43,000 years ago.

 

According to these findings, the artifacts from Geißenklösterle Cave are 2,000 to 3,000 years older than previously thought. So far these dates are the earliest for the Aurignacian and predate equivalent sites from Italy, France, England and other regions.

 

To obtain new dates, the team used an improved ultrafiltration method designed to remove contamination from the collagen preserved in the bones.

 

“High-resolution dating of this kind is essential for establishing a reliable chronology for testing ideas to help explain the expansion of modern humans into Europe, and the processes that led to the wide range of cultural innovations, including the advent of figurative art and music,” said lead author Prof Tom Higham of Oxford University.

 

“These results are consistent with a hypothesis we made several years ago that the Danube River was a key corridor for the movement of humans and technological innovations into central Europe between 40,000 and 45,000 years ago,” added Prof Nick Conard of Tübingen University, who was excavator at the site. “Geißenklösterle is one of several caves in the region that has produced important examples of personal ornaments, figurative art, mythical imagery and musical instruments. The new dates prove the great antiquity of the Aurignacian in Swabia.”

 

The study results also indicate that modern humans entered the Upper Danube region before an extremely cold climatic phase at around 39,000 to 40,000 years ago. Previously, researchers had argued that modern humans initially migrated up the Danube immediately after this event.

 

“Modern humans during the Aurignacian period were in central Europe at least 2,000 to 3,000 years before this climatic deterioration, when huge icebergs calved from ice sheets in the northern Atlantic and temperatures plummeted,”’ Prof Higham said. “The question is what effect this downturn might have had on the people in Europe at the time.”

 

The results are important for considering the relationship between early moderns and Neanderthals in Europe. Despite a major effort to identify archaeological signatures of interaction between Neanderthals and modern humans in this region, researchers have yet to identify indications of any cultural contact or interbreeding in this part of Europe.

 

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/History/Early+History+-+Archaeology/Earliest_evidence_Bethlehem_23-May-2012.htm

Earliest evidence of Bethlehem in First Temple period

23 May 2012

 

Earliest archaeological evidence found of the existence of the city of Bethlehem already in the First Temple period - the first ancient artifact constituting tangible evidence of the existence of the city of Bethlehem, which is mentioned in the Bible, was recently discovered in Jerusalem.

 

While sifting soil from archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting in the City of David, in the "Walls around Jerusalem National Park", a bulla measuring c. 1.5 cm was discovered bearing the name of the city of Bethlehem, written in ancient Hebrew script. The sifting is underwritten by the 'Ir David Foundation' in a project being conducted in the Emek Tzurim National Park.

 

A bulla is a piece of clay that was used for sealing a document or object. The bulla was impressed with the seal of the person who sent the document or object, and its integrity was evidence the document or object was not opened by anyone unauthorized to do so.

 

Three lines of ancient Hebrew script appear on the bulla:

 

 בשבעת            Bishv'at

 בת לחם           Bat Lechem

 [למל]ך             [Lemel]ekh

 

According to Eli Shukron, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "it seems that in the seventh year of the reign of a king (it is unclear if the king referred to here is Hezekiah, Manasseh or Josiah), a shipment was dispatched from Bethlehem to the king in Jerusalem.

 

The bulla we found belongs to the group of "fiscal" bullae - administrative bullae used to seal tax shipments remitted to the taxation system of the Kingdom of Judah in the late eighth and seventh centuries BCE. The tax could have been paid in the form of silver or agricultural produce such as wine or wheat." Shukron emphasizes, "this is the first time the name Bethlehem appears outside the Bible, in an inscription from the First Temple period, which proves that Bethlehem was indeed a city in the Kingdom of Judah, and possibly also in earlier periods."

 

In the Bible Bethlehem is first mentioned in the verse "in Ephrath, which is Bethlehem", and it was on the way there that Rachel died and it is where she was buried (Genesis 35:19; 48:7). The descendants of Judah settled there, among them the family of Boaz (Book of Ruth). Bethlehem's greatness begins with the anointing of David, son of Jesse, as king (1 Samuel 16).

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/25/israel-ancient-jewelry_n_1545856.html

Israel Ancient Jewelry Uncovered In Archaeological Dig

By DANIELA BERRETTA 05/25/12 03:01 PM ET   

 

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli archaeologists have discovered a rare trove of 3,000-year-old jewelry, including a ring and earrings, hidden in a ceramic jug near the ancient city of Megiddo, where the New Testament predicts the final battle of Armageddon.

 

Archaeologists who unearthed the jug during excavations at the site in 2010 left it in a laboratory while they waited for a molecular analysis of what was inside. When they were finally able to clean it, pieces of gold jewelry – a ring, earrings, and beads – dating to around 1100 B.C. poured out.

 

Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, who co-directed the dig, said that the find offers a rare glimpse into ancient Canaanite high society. He said the fact that the jewelry was found inside the jug suggested that the owner hid them there.

 

Finkelstein said the jewelry likely belonged to a Canaanite family.

 

"We can guess that it was a rich family, probably belonging to the ruling elite," he said.

 

Tel Aviv University called the trove "among the most valuable ever found from the Biblical period," adding that one piece in particular, a gold earring decorated with molded ibexes, or wild goats, is "without parallel."

 

It said in a statement this week that the objects were either owned by Egyptians living in the area or inspired by the Egyptian style of the period.

 

Aren Maeir, an archaeologist at Bar Ilan University, said that because the raw materials used come are not from the area, the find "tells us about international relations ... and about technical traditions used at the time."

 

Megiddo was an important trade center in ancient times. According to the New Testament, Megiddo will be the site of the final apocalyptic battle between good and evil.

 

http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=120550&CultureCode=en

Oldest Jewish Archaeological Evidence on the Iberian Peninsula

25 May 2012 Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Sensational Discovery by Archaeologists of Jena University at a Portuguese Excavation Site

 

Archaeologists of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) found one of  the oldest archaeological evidence so far of Jewish Culture on the Iberian Peninsula at an excavation site in the south of Portugal, close to the city of Silves (Algarve). On a marble plate, measuring 40 by 60 centimetres, the name "Yehiel" can be read, followed by further letters which have not yet been deciphered. The Jena Archaeologists believe that the new discovery might be a tomb slab. Antlers, which were found very close to the tomb slab in the rubble gave a clue to the age determination. "The organic material of the antlers could be dated by radiocarbon analysis with certainty to about 390 AD," excavation leader Dr. Dennis Graen of the Jena University explains. "Therefore we have a so-called 'terminus ante quem' for the inscription, as it must have been created before it got mixed in with the rubble with the antlers."

 

The earliest archaeological evidence of Jewish inhabitants in the region of modern-day Portugal has so far also been a tomb slab with a Latin inscription and an image of a menorah - a seven-armed chandelier - from 482 AD. The earliest Hebrew inscriptions known until now date from the 6th or 7th Century AD.

 

For three years the team of the University Jena has been excavating a Roman villa in Portugal, discovered some years ago by Jorge Correia, archaeologist of the Silves council, during an archaeological survey near the village of São Bartolomeu de Messines (Silves). The project was aiming at finding out how and what the inhabitants of the hinterland of the Roman province of Lusitania lived off. While the Portuguese coast region has been explored very well, there is very little knowledge about those regions. The new discovery poses further conundrums. "We were actually hoping for a Latin inscription when we turned round the excavated tomb slab,“ Henning Wabersich, a member of the excavation reports. After all, no inscriptions have been found so far and nothing was known about the identity of the inhabitants of the enclosure.

 

Only after long research the Jena Archaeologists found out which language they were exactly dealing with, as the inscription was not cut with particular care.  "While we were looking for experts who could help with deciphering the inscription between Jena and Jerusalem, the crucial clue came from Spain“ Dennis Graen says. “Jordi Casanovas Miró from the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona – a well-known expert for Hebrew inscriptions on the Iberian Peninsula – is sure that the Jewish name “Yehiel” can be read, - a name that is already mentioned in the Bible.“ Not only is the early date exceptional in this case, but also the place of the discovery: Never before have Jewish discoveries been made in a Roman villa, the Jena Archaelogist explains.

 

In the Roman Empire at that time Jews usually wrote in Latin, as they feared oppressive measures. Hebrew, as on the re-discovered marble plate, only came back into use after the decline of the Roman supremacy, respectively in the following time of migration of peoples from the 6th or 7th century AD. "We were also most surprised that we found traces of Romans - romanised Lusitanians in this case - and Jews living together in a rural area of all things," Dennis Graen says. "We assumed that something like this would have been much more likely in a city.“

 

Information about the Jewish population in the region in general was mostly passed down by scriptures. "During the ecclesiastical council in the Spanish town Elvira about 300 AD rules of conduct between Jews and Christians were issued. This indicates that at this time there must have been a relatively large number of Jews on the Iberian Peninsula already", Dennis Graen explains – but archaeological evidence had been missing so far. "We knew that there was a Jewish community in the Middle Ages not far from our excavation site in the town of Silves. It existed until the expulsion of the Jews in the year 1497.“

 

In the summer the Jena Archaeologists will take up their work again. Until now they have excavated 160 square metres of the villa, but after checking out the ground it already became clear that the greater part of the enclosure is still covered in soil. "We eventually want to find out more about the people who lived here," Graen explains the venture. "And of course we want to solve the questions the Hebrew inscription has posed us.“

 

http://www.livescience.com/20483-black-magic-ancient-curses.html

Black Magic Revealed in Two Ancient Curses

Owen Jarus, LiveScience ContributorDate: 22 May 2012 Time: 08:35 AM ET

 

At a time when black magic was relatively common, two curses involving snakes were cast, one targeting a senator and the other an animal doctor, says a Spanish researcher who has just deciphered the 1,600-year-old curses.

 

Both curses feature a depiction of a deity, possibly the Greek goddess Hekate, with serpents coming out of her hair, possibly meant to strike at the victims. Both curses contain Greek invocations similar to examples known to call upon Hekate.

 

The two curses, mainly written in Latin and inscribed on thin lead tablets, would have been created by two different people late in the life of the Roman Empire. Both tablets were rediscovered in 2009 at the Museo Archeologico Civico di Bologna, in Italy, and were originally acquired by the museum during the late 19th century. Although scholars aren't sure where the tablets originated, after examining and deciphering the curses, they know who victims of the curses were.

 

One of the curses targets a Roman senator named Fistus and appears to be the only known example of a cursed senator. The other curse targets a veterinarian named Porcello. Ironically, Porcello is the Latin word for pig.

 

Celia Sánchez Natalías, a doctoral student at the University of Zaragoza, explained that Porcello was probably his real name. "In the world of curse tablets, one of the things that you have to do is to try to identify your victim in a very, very, exact way."

 

Sánchez Natalías added that it isn't certain who cursed Porcello or why. It could be for either personal or professional reasons. "Maybe this person was someone that (had) a horse or an animal killed by Porcello's medicine," said Sánchez Natalías.

 

"Destroy, crush, kill, strangle Porcello and wife Maurilla. Their soul, heart, buttocks, liver ..." part of it reads. The iconography on the tablet actually shows a mummified Porcello, his arms crossed (as is the deity) and his name written on both of his arms. [See images of the curse tablets]

 

The fact that both the deity and Porcello have their arms crossed is important. Sánchez Natalías believes that the spell forced the deity, and thus Porcello, to become bound. "This comparison may be understood in two ways: either 'just as the deity is bound, so will Porcello be' or else 'until Porcello is bound the deity will stay bound,'" she writes in a recent edition of the journal Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik.

 

May all his limbs dissolve …

 

The case of Fistus, a Roman senator, is also remarkable. The senate in ancient Rome was a place of great wealth and, earlier in Roman history, was a place of considerable power. By the time this curse was written toward the end of the Roman Empire, the influence of the senate had diminished in favor of the emperor, the army and the imperial bureaucracy.

 

Fistus would still have been a person of some wealth, however, and whoever wrote the curse had it in for him. The Latin expression for "crush" is used at least four times in the curse. "Crush, kill Fistus the senator," part of the curse reads, "May Fistus dilute, languish, sink and may all his limbs dissolve ..."

 

Again Sánchez Natalías isn't sure of the motives behind the curse; but whatever they were, even by the standard of modern-day political attack ads, this was a nasty senatorial blow.

 

Sánchez Natalías' translation and study of the senator curse is detailed in two  recent articles published in the German journal Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik.

 

http://www.numismaster.com/ta/numis/Article.jsp?ad=article&ArticleId=25248

Major Roman Hoard Found in Britain

By Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News

May 21, 2012

 

 

What is believed to be the fifth largest hoard of ancient Roman coins ever unearthed in Great Britain was recently announced through Roman Baths, the organization that hopes to become the conservator of the find.

 

The more than 30,000 silver coins were actually found in 2007. The announcement of their discovery was kept from the press until the coins were recently sent to the British Museum for restoration and examination.

 

Hoard discoveries are always of interest to collectors, however what makes this find different is who found it. According to Roman Baths and Pump Room Manager Stephen Clews, “The find is also unusual as it was discovered by professional archaeologists as opposed to an amateur using a metal detector.”

 

Having been found by professionals the coins are able to be studied in the context of their find location, then will be able to be studied as a group and as individual pieces. The problem usually encountered at the time of such a discovery is that the coins are removed by amateurs without first being studied at the site of their find. In Great Britain amateurs finding such hoards will likely turn the finds over to the proper authorities because the finder can anticipate compensation for his efforts, however in other European countries where no compensation can be expected many times the coins are sold clandestinely into the black market. Some of these countries include Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.

 

Many times coins found in Great Britain are declared to be treasure trove. Once the find receives this designation it may eventually be offered to the collecting public once the study has been completed. In countries where coin finds are more likely to enter the local black market or be smuggled out of that country all academic opportunities are lost. This is a primary reason why there has been so much political intrigue recently in the United States regarding the import of ancient coins from certain countries where coin finders will otherwise receive no compensation for their discovery.

 

This find, now known as the Beau Street Hoard, was discovered at the site of work on the Gainsborough Hotel in Bath. The coins were found about 450 feet from the ruins of the Roman baths on Beau Street. The hoard dates from about AD 270, about the time of the reign of Victorinus.

 

Marcus Plavvonius Victorinus was the emperor of the secessionist Gallic Empire or Gallo-Roman Empire from 268 to 270. Victorinus was declared emperor by his troops in Germany. Gaul and Britain recognized him in the West, but Spain did not. He was murdered by Attitianus, who was one of his officers, allegedly for seducing Attitianus’ wife.

 

Since the coins were recently declared treasure trove Roman Bath has put in a request for their formal valuation. Once this value has been established Roman Baths hopes to purchase the coins with the intension of displaying them. An appeal has been recently launched by Roman Baths to raise about £150,000 to acquire, conserve, and display the find.

 

According to Clews, “At the time [the coins were struck] there was a lot of unrest in the Roman Empire so there may be some explanation for why the coins were hidden away.”

 

The Beau Street Hoard is the largest such find ever discovered at the site of what had been a Roman town in Great Britain. The largest ancient Roman coin find in Great Britain is the 52,503-coin Frome Hoard discovered in April 2010. The Frome Hoard was discovered by Dave Crisp, an amateur using a metal detector along the edge of a field near what had been a Roman road in Somerset. The Frome Hoard consists of coins dating from AD 253 to AD 293 and is valued at £320,250. The coins were found buried in a single container. The discovery in this context suggests the coins were buried intentionally, with their original owner hoping to reclaim his hoard at some later date.

 

The Beau Street Hoard was found fused together. For this reason the coins will need restoration at the British Museum prior to their being studied individually and as a group. It is likely, as silver coins, that they are each of the antoninianus or double denarius denomination, although no such details have yet been released.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-18199623

Dogs, booze and bling: Northern Ireland's medieval shopping mall

By Laura Burns

25 May 2012 Last updated at 12:09

 

Excavations on Dunnyneil Island in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, have revealed a seventh century trading emporium frequented by merchants from as far afield as modern day Russia, Germany, Iceland and France.

 

Back in early medieval times, there was no cash economy, few buyers, and even fewer sellers, but there are surprising parallels between these ancient trading outposts and modern shopping centres.

 

According to archaeologist Dr Philip MacDonald, who led the dig on Dunnyneil, merchants would have brought wine and other luxury products to Ireland to exchange at emporia for furs, seal skin, slaves and famed Irish wolfhounds.

 

"High status members of the Dal Fiatach [the local dynasty whose royal centre was Downpatrick, County Down] and local traders, would have frequented the island," he said.

 

In medieval times, the king controlled trade and wealthy merchants travelled the seas to buy and sell goods. The trade in imported prestige items would have been important for the king of Dal Fiatach, to signify his status and power.

 

"This little speck of an island had a very high significance to the wealth of the Ulster Kingdom," explains Tom McErlean from the Centre for Maritime Archaeology.

 

"Dal Fiatach, or the Kingdom of Ulster, was a great maritime kingdom. It was fairly cosmopolitan with connections all around the North Sea."

 

The particular kind of pottery found at Dunnyneil Island is evidence that luxury goods were imported in some quantity from the continent. The coast around Strangford Lough has the highest density of this type of pottery ever discovered in Ireland, suggesting the Kingdom of Ulster was relatively wealthy.

 

Dunnyneil: a brief history

·         Believed to be named for Niall of the Nine Hostages, a fifth century king of Ulster who took hostages from nine kingdoms around the UK, one of whom was St Patrick.

·         Site of an early medieval emporium.

·         A long rectangular hut was built on the island around 900 AD, during the Viking invasions.

·         After a period of disuse, it was re-occupied during the 13th century. A belt buckle from this period was found.

 

"Dunnyneil played a big role in creating their wealth … [it] would have been a profitable stopping point for foreign wine merchants. The Irish kings valued wine very much. There was a big market for wine here. It would be very much worthwhile," said McErlean.

 

Much like the shopping malls of today, Dunnyneil's ancient traders would have needed a keen eye for selling the right products to the right people, as Dr Jonathan Jarrett, a lecturer in medieval history at Oxford University, explains.

 

"If you sailed [to a settlement] halfway up the east coast and found that a boat had already been by with Scandinavian hides the previous week, that's a wasted stop. But at the emporia someone would probably buy the goods, quite possibly expecting to sell them on."

 

In short, trading emporia like Dunnyneil Island offered a ready-made market where you could usually find someone eager to buy your goods.

 

"They probably did offer at least some speciality goods from each area. Ireland and England were both famous on the continent for their hunting dogs, so there were things worth coming a long way for."

 

And it seems that, like today, the medieval trade in prestige goods wasn't exempt from dodgy rip-offs.

 

"One Carolingian swordsmith by the name of Ulfberht acquired such a name for his blades, which unlike most he stamped onto the metal, that they seem to have been faked, like knock-off Rolexes," said Dr Jarrett.

 

As managing director of a large retail investment company, it is Mark Bourgeois' job to understand what makes a good place to buy and sell goods. He sees similarities between medieval emporia and modern shopping centres, particularly in the supply of the latest prestige goods.

 

"A manager would identify what items will sell well in their area and work with the markets to provide good products for consumers that will sell. It is the mix between the prestige factor shops… which consumers want in their area, as a matter of civic pride, mixed with a variety of good local retailers. That mix is the Holy Grail of a successful shopping centre."

 

There is very little evidence left on Dunnyneil Island of its wheeler-dealer past. It's a tiny place and the emporium there was never built to last. Only tenacious archaeological investigation has revealed its role as a sort of 'pop-up' shop that could be taken down as quickly as it was put up, but sufficient to catch the passing trade for more than 200 years.

 

Dr Jarrett perhaps sums up the seventh century trading environment that Dunnyneil inhabited best of all:

 

"If one were to hear a message from the early medieval business consultancy, it would perhaps be something like: stock goods that no-one else has, cut deals with local resellers so you can sell wholesale, get shopping anywhere else outlawed, and pay the government a cut of your profits for it. Oh, and if shoppers turn up in boats with dragon prows it probably wise to come up with some really special offers!"

 

http://www.iwcp.co.uk/news/news/archaeologists-identify-mystery-shipwreck-44506.aspx

Archaeologists identify mystery shipwreck

By a County Press reporter

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

 

A MYSTERIOUS shipwreck that lay in the Solent for 160 years has finally been identified by archaeologists, and its fascinating history revealed for the first time.

 

The wreck, which lies on the Horse Tail Sands three miles east of Bembridge, was first discovered by fishermen in 2003, but it was another eight years before archaeologists from the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology were able to put a name to the vessel.

 

Its identity has been revealed to conincide with the release of a new book about the history of the wreck.

 

The trust said the wreck was that of the Flower of Ugie, a 19th century wooden sailing barque that sank in the Solent on December 27, 1852 following a great storm in the English Channel.

 

The vessel was a three-masted sailing barque built in Sunderland in 1838. During its career it made regular voyages around Africa and onto India and the Far East.

 

Later it was employed in the Mediterranean, the Baltic and across the Atlantic, carrying cargo to and from America and Canada.

 

On the night of December 26, 1852, while carrying coal from Sunderland to Cartagena, Spain, the Flower of Ugie ran into a storm off Portland.

 

The ferocious weather that battered the whole of the south coast that night nearly capsized the ship, and the crew were forced to cut down two masts to right it.

 

In the early hours of the following day, the Flower of Ugie sought shelter in the Solent, but it grounded on the Horse Tail Sands and the crew were forced to abandon ship before the vessel broke apart later that day.

 

The vessel was not seen again until 2003, when a local fisherman snagged his nets on the wreck.

 

The Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology surveyed the site between 2004 and 2008 but initially they were unable to conclusively identify the vessel, which now lay in two parts, 12 metres below the surface of the water.

 

Following funding from the Marine Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund, further research was carried out which eventually led experts to the Flower of Ugie.