Bronze age gold treasure trove

Published on 17/06/2013 16:02


A Treasure Inquest into the finding of a Bronze Age gold lunula found in the Driffield area will be held on Monday July 8 at the coroner’s court in Hull.


Gold lunula are a distinctive type of late necklace or collar shaped like a crescent moon. Gold lunula are found most commonly in Ireland, but there are moderate numbers in other parts of Europe as well, particularly Portugal and Great Britain.




Archaeologists Find 2,000-Year-Old Evidence of Siege in Jerusalem

History records the siege of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, but archaeologists never have found evidence of the famine that plagued Jews – until now.

By:       Jewish Press Staff

Published: June 27th, 2013


Archaeological excavations near the Western Wall have unearthed three complete cooking pots and a small ceramic oil lamp that are the first pieces of evidence of the Jewish famine during the revolt during the siege of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.


The Israel Antiquities Authority is digging up history in excavations of the drainage channel that runs from the Shiloah Pool in the City of David to Robinson’s Arch, at the southern end of the Western Wall.


“This is the first time we are able to connect archaeological finds with the famine that occurred during the siege of Jerusalem at the time of the Great Revolt,” said excavation director Eli Shukrun.


The complete cooking pots and ceramic oil lamp, discovered inside a small cistern in a drainage channel, indicate that the people went down into the cistern where they secretly ate the food that was contained in the pots, without anyone seeing them, and this is consistent with the account provided by Josephus,” he explained.


In his book “The Jewish War,” Josephus describes the Roman siege of Jerusalem and in its wake the dire hunger that prevailed in the blockaded city.


In his dramatic description of the famine in Jerusalem he tells about the Jewish rebels who sought food in the homes of their fellow Jews in the city. Josephus said that the Jews concealed the food they possessed for fear it would be stolen by the rebels, and they ate in hidden places in their homes.


“As the famine grew worse, the frenzy of the partisans increased with it…. Nowhere was there corn to be seen, men broke into the houses and ransacked them. If they found some, they maltreated the occupants for saying there was none; if they did not, they suspected them of having hidden it more carefully and tortured them,” Josephus wrote.


“Many secretly exchanged their possessions for one measure of corn-wheat if they happened to be rich, barley if they were poor. They shut themselves up in the darkest corners of the their houses, where some through extreme hunger ate their grain as it was, others made bread, necessity and fear being their only guides. Nowhere was a table laid…”


The artifacts will be on display in a study conference on the City of David next Thursday.



Roman shrine found at Rutland Water nature reserve

1 July 2013 Last updated at 10:40


·         Archaeologists believe the shrine fell out of use in AD300 

·         The team discovered a circular stone building with decorated red and white painted walls

·         A skeleton of a man, aged about 30, was buried in a grave in the centre of the shrine

·         Pottery jars were found at the shrine along with 200 Roman coins and deposits of animal bone, probably from the ritual sacrifice of lambs and cattle


Archaeologists have uncovered a Roman shrine at Rutland Water nature reserve.


The team from Northamptonshire Archaeology investigated the site ahead of a 240-acre extension to the reserve by Anglian Water.


They found the remains of an Iron Age farmstead, and a shrine dating from about AD100.


Jo Everitt, Anglian Water's environment and heritage assessor, said: "Finding Roman shrines is not the norm, so we were delighted."


Ritual sacrifice


Roman sites had been found in the area at Collyweston Great Woods, 14km (eight miles) to the south-east of Rutland, and another to the north-west of Rutland Water, near Oakham.


The reservoir at Rutland Water was created in the 1970s

It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest

The wildlife reserve stretches along nine miles of the western end of Rutland Water Reservoir and covers a total area of 1,000 acres


However, nothing had previously been discovered near the lagoons along the western edge of the reservoir.


The team discovered a circular stone building, about 10.5m (34ft) wide, with decorated red and white painted walls.


They also found more than 200 Roman coins, pottery jars, part of a small bronze figurine and deposits of animal bone, probably from the ritual sacrifice of lambs and cattle.


A skeleton of a man, aged about 30, was buried in a grave in the centre of the shrine.


The archaeologists believe the shrine fell out of use in AD300.


Ms Everitt added: "We've recreated part of the foundation and wall of the shrine from the original stone on an area outside of the lagoons so visitors to Rutland can see what it looked like."


The findings from the dig are currently being displayed at the Rutland Water visitor centre.



Isle of Man Viking silver declared 'treasure trove'

27 June 2013 Last updated at 15:12

By Mark Edwards

BBC News


Three pieces of Viking silver dating back 1,000 years, discovered using a metal detector in the Isle of Man, have been declared treasure trove.


An inquest heard the three items, found by Seth Crowe in a field in Andreas in April, date back to between 930 and 1080 AD.


Archaeologists believe the two silver ingots and brooch fragment contain more than 60% silver.


Coroner of Inquests John Needham made the ruling at Douglas Courthouse.


Mr Crowe, 39, made the discovery having sought the permission of the landowner Leslie Faragher, some years ago.


The Ramsey man said he was "proud of his discovery".


It is likely that the item buried for safe keeping but the owner never returned”


All three objects were found in a ditch at the side of Mr Faragher's field.


It is the second significant find on the farmer's land after fellow treasure seeker, John Crowe, found a similar Viking silver ingot in 2009.


Head of Archaeology at Manx National Heritage, Allison Fox, said it is "highly likely" the two finds are related.


She explained there are no recorded archaeological sites near the area where the discovery was made and pieces like this are usually associated with larger hordes.


According to Miss Fox, the ingots would have originally been used as currency.


"They are another significant part of the Isle of Man's amazing Viking history", she said.


The Vikings flourished on the Isle of Man and much of their influence is still evident today.


She said: "This is the latest of a number of Viking finds in recent years and illustrates how the Isle of Man could have once acted as a 'clearing house' for deals in goods and wealth and been at the centre of Viking trade routes.


"It is likely that the item was buried for safe keeping but the owner never returned."


After he made the discovery, Mr Crowe brought his find to the Manx Museum in Douglas.


Following Wednesday's ruling, MNH will now take a decision whether or not to acquire the items for the national collection.


If that is the case they will be valued and a reward offered to the finder.


Mr Crowe said any reward would be split 50-50 with the land owner.



Lincoln Castle skeleton 'could be Saxon king or bishop'

30 June 2013 Last updated at 10:54


A skeleton found in Lincoln Castle could belong to a Saxon king or bishop, according to archaeologists.


The skeleton was in a stone sarcophagus believed to date from about AD900.


Although the sarcophagus has not yet been opened, an endoscopy revealed the remains were buried alongside other objects - possibly gold.


Programme manager Mary Powell, of Lincoln Castle Revealed, said: "We think it's somebody terribly important - possibly a bishop or a Saxon king."


'Very rare'

The sarcophagus is buried approximately 3m (9ft) underground.


"At the moment, we can see the side of the coffin, but not the lid," Ms Powell added.


"It's going to be incredibly challenging to get it out, so we are being very careful.


"There is a danger it could disintegrate because of the change in environmental conditions.


·         A Roman fort was built at the site in about AD60

·         The Romans abandoned Lincoln and Britain in AD410

·         William the Conqueror built Lincoln Castle in 1068 on the site of the Roman fortress

·         For 900 years the castle was used as a court and prison

·         Lincoln is home to one of only four surviving Magna Carta copies

"When we do finally lift the lid, the plan is to record what's inside immediately, in case it starts to disintegrate."


She hoped there would be carving on the lid which might reveal the identity of the skeleton.


"We know so little about the Saxon period and Saxon coffins are very rare," she said.


"We are all excited about lifting the lid and seeing who is in there and what is buried with him."


The limestone sarcophagus was found alongside a Saxon church with eight other skeletons, all buried in wooden coffins, one in a woollen shroud.


The team has been carrying out DNA examinations of the eight skeletons. They also hope to do a digital reconstruction of the skeleton in the sarcophagus.


Ms Powell said archaeologists were looking into a possible connection with an 8th Century king of Lindsey named Blaecca.


The dig also revealed two Roman town houses. A skeleton of a baby was buried nearby.


The £19.9m Lincoln Castle Revealed project is aimed at creating a visitor attraction at the venue, including an underground vault in which to display Lincoln's Magna Carta.


Many of the finds will go on display when the project is completed in 2015.


"Nobody really expected to discover as much as we have," said Ms Powell. "We don't think one room is going to be big enough. We may need to find a bit of extra space."



First Unlooted Royal Tomb of Its Kind Unearthed in Peru

Three queens were buried with golden treasures, human sacrifices.

Heather Pringle

for National Geographic

Published June 27, 2013


It was a stunning discovery: the first unlooted imperial tomb of the Wari, the ancient civilization that built South America's earliest empire between 700 and 1000 A.D. Yet it wasn't happiness that Milosz Giersz felt when he first glimpsed gold in the dim recesses of the burial chamber in northern Peru.


Giersz, an archaeologist at the University of Warsaw in Poland, realized at once that if word leaked out that his Polish-Peruvian team had discovered a 1,200-year-old "temple of the dead" filled with precious gold and silver artifacts, looters would descend on the site in droves. "I had a nightmare about the possibility," says Giersz.


So Giersz and project co-director Roberto Pimentel Nita kept their discovery secret. Digging quietly for months in one of the burial chambers, the archaeologists collected more than a thousand artifacts, including sophisticated gold and silver jewelry, bronze axes, and gold tools, along with the bodies of three Wari queens and 60 other individuals, some of whom were probably human sacrifices. (See more: "First Pictures: Peru's Rare, Unlooted Royal Tomb")


Archaeologists discovered a massive carved wooden mace (foreground) protruding from stone fill. “It was a tomb marker,” says University of Warsaw archaeologist Milosz Giersz, who heads the team. “We knew then that we had the main mausoleum.” (See more pictures)

Photograph by Milosz Giersz


Peru's Minister of Culture and other dignitaries will officially announce the discovery today at a press conference at the site. Krzysztof Makowski Hanula, an archaeologist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima and the project's scientific adviser, said the newly unearthed temple of the dead "is like a pantheon, like a mausoleum of all the Wari nobility in the region."


The Wari lords have long been overshadowed by the later Inca, whose achievements were extensively documented by their Spanish conquerors. But in the 8th and 9th centuries A.D., the Wari built an empire that spanned much of present-day Peru. Their Andean capital, Huari, became one of the world's great cities. At its zenith, Huari boasted a population conservatively estimated at about 40,000 people. Paris, by comparison, had just 25,000 residents at the time.


Just how the Wari forged this empire, whether by conquest or persuasion, is a long-standing archaeological mystery. The sheer sophistication of Wari artwork has long attracted looters, who have ransacked the remains of imperial palaces and shrines. Unable to stop the destruction of vital archaeological information, researchers were left with many more questions than answers.


The spectacular new finds at El Castillo de Huarmey, a four-hour drive north of Lima, will go a long way toward answering some of those questions. Although grave robbers have been digging at the 110-acre site off and on for decades, Giersz suspected that a mausoleum remained hidden deep underground. In January 2010, he and a small team scrutinized the area using aerial photography and geophysical imaging equipment. On a ridge between two large adobe-brick pyramids, they spotted the faint outline of what appeared to be a subterranean mausoleum.


The research at El Castillo de Huarmey is supported by National Geographic's Global Exploration Fund and Expeditions Council.


Tomb robbers had long dumped rubble on the ridge. Digging through the rubble last September, Giersz and his team uncovered an ancient ceremonial room with a stone throne. Below this lay a large mysterious chamber sealed with 30 tons of loose stone fill. Giersz decided to keep digging. Inside the fill was a huge carved wooden mace. "It was a tomb marker," says Giersz, "and we knew then that we had the main mausoleum."


As the archaeologists carefully removed the fill, they discovered rows of human bodies buried in a seated position and wrapped in poorly preserved textiles. Nearby, in three small side chambers, were the remains of three Wari queens and many of their prized possessions, including weaving tools made of gold. "So what were these first ladies doing at the imperial court? They were weaving cloth with gold instruments," says Makowski.


Mourners had also interred many other treasures in the room: inlaid gold and silver ear-ornaments, silver bowls, bronze ritual axes, a rare alabaster drinking cup, knives, coca leaf containers, brilliantly painted ceramics from many parts of the Andean world, and other precious objects. Giersz and his colleagues had never seen anything like it before. "We are talking about the first unearthed royal imperial tomb," says Giersz.


But for archaeologists, the greatest treasure will be the tomb's wealth of new information on the Wari Empire. The construction of an imperial mausoleum at El Castillo shows that Wari lords conquered and politically controlled this part of the northern coast, and likely played a key role in the downfall of the northern Moche kingdom. Intriguingly, one vessel from the mausoleum depicts coastal warriors battling axe-wielding Wari invaders.


The Wari also waged a battle for the hearts and minds of their new vassals. In addition to military might, they fostered a cult of royal ancestor worship. The bodies of the entombed queens bore traces of insect pupae, revealing that attendants had taken them out of the funerary chamber and exposed them to the air. This strongly suggests that the Wari displayed the mummies of their queens on the throne of the ceremonial room, allowing the living to venerate the royal dead.


Analysis of the mausoleum-and other chambers that may still be buried-is only beginning. Giersz predicts that his team has another eight to ten years of work there. But already the finds at El Castillo promise to cast the Wari civilization in a brilliant new light. "The Wari phenomenon can be compared to the empire of Alexander the Great," says Makowski. "It's a brief historical phenomenon, but with great consequence."



Unearthed after 1,400 years: The eerie pre-Inca 'mummies' emerging from their tombs in Peru

·         Eleven well-preserved graves found in capital city Lima

·         Three belong to Lima culture and eight to Yschma people, scientists say

·         Each skeleton found lying in a bed of woven reeds


PUBLISHED: 03:07, 27 February 2013 | UPDATED: 08:36, 27 February 2013


A burial site containing eleven pre-Inca tombs, some dating back more than 1,400 years, has been discovered near a sports centre in Peru.

An archaeology team began excavation work at the Huaca Tupac Amaru B site near Peru's national sports village in the capital Lima in December.

Yesterday they unveiled their findings so far which include the well-preserved graves containing eleven pre-Hispanic bodies.


Eleven pre-Hispanic bodies were discovered at the site - some dating back more than 1,400 years


The skeletons are believed to belong to the Lima and Yschma cultures


The well-preserved skeletons were found wrapped in cloth and surrounded by ceramics, textiles, fruit tree leaves and tools used for agriculture

Archaeologist Fernando Herrera, head of the project, said three sets of remains belong to the Lima culture, which developed between A.D. 200 and 700. The eight other skeletons came from the more recent Yschma culture, between A.D. 1000 and 1400.


Each skeleton was found lying on a bed of woven reeds. The bodies were tied with braided rattan - a species of palm - and covered by one or more cloths. They were buried with ceramics, textiles, fruit tree leaves, and tools used for agriculture.

The 400-square-metre site sits just a few metres from the stadium where Peru's national football team trains.



English Heritage given £80m in charity status move

26 June 2013 Last updated at 20:05


Sites including Stonehenge will remain in public ownership


English Heritage has been given £80m in the government's Spending Review as part of plans for the organisation to become a charity by 2015.


The new charity will manage the National Heritage Collection, which includes Stonehenge and Dover Castle.


The government currently contributes £22m annually towards the collection. The aim is for the charity to eventually become self sufficient.


Other powers such as listing buildings will remain government funded.


The new official body, which will also advise on planning, has a working name of the National Heritage Protection Service.


The new charity will still be called English Heritage and the 420 sites in the National Heritage Collection - which include London's Kenwood House, and Charles Darwin's home in Kent - will remain in public ownership.


Government funding for the charity will be tapered down from 2015 eventually to nothing, meaning it will have more freedom than now to generate income from commercial activities and philanthropic donations.


Some of the £80m awarded by the government will help to set up the charity so it will be fully operational by March 2015.


In a statement, the government agency described the planned changes, which will be subject to a consultation, as "an excellent outcome".


"This year we have been celebrating 100 years of state protection for heritage and today's announcement sets the scene for the next century.


"The government's £80m investment and the creation of the new charity will help us preserve the National Heritage Collection for the future, be true to the story of the places we look after, to aim for the highest standards in everything we do from our conservation work to the way we run our events and to provide an experience that brings the story of England alive."


The announcement came as the government said there would be cuts of up to 5% in funding for museums and the arts in the Spending Review for 2015-2016.