Swedish divers discover Stone Age artefacts

02.02.2014 - 19:54


Divers in the Baltic Sea have discovered rare Stone Age artefacts that reportedly belonged to Swedish nomads some 11,000 years ago. It is a discovery that the local Swedish media is calling “Sweden’s Atlantis”.


Despite the media’s flare for blowing the find out of proportion, archaeologists say the discovery is quite possibly the oldest settlement from the first more-permanent sites in Scania and in Sweden. This is how Björn Nilsson, the project leader and archaeology professor at Södertörn University, described it in an interview with The Local.


His team has been diving in Hanö, a sandy bay off the Coast of Skåne County, as part of a project financed by the Swedish National Heritage Board. Nilsson is heading the three-year excavation of an area 16m underwater.


To date, they have discovered various remnants of what Nilsson believes were thrown into the water by nomadic Swedes in the Stone Age. The biggest find is, according to Nilsson, a harpoon carving from animal bone.


“There’s wood and antlers and other implements that were thrown in there,” Nilsson told The Local. “Around 11,000 years ago there was a build up in the area, a lagoon or sorts… and all the tree and bone pieces are preserved in it. If the settlement was on dry land we would only have the stone-based things, nothing organic.”


His team has also discovered wood pieces, flint tools, animal horns, and bones of the aurochs, the ancestor of domestic cattle, the last of which died off in the early 1600s.


“What we found here is totally new for us - the whole diving team is really thrilled. They’re having the time of their lives down there,” said Nilsson.



New Poems of Greek Poetess Sappho Recovered

By Konstantinos Menzel on January 28, 2014 In Archaeology, History, News, United Kingdom


Today, only few poems by the ancient Greek poetess Sappho have survived, but thanks to new findings, two new works have been recovered, giving experts hope to find even more.


These previously unknown poems by the great poetess of the 7th century B.C. came to light when the owner of an ancient papyrus consulted Oxford classicist world-renowned papyrologist Dr. Dirk Obbink about the Greek writings on the tattered scrap.


Despite Sappho’s fame in antiquity and huge literary output, only one complete poem survives until today, along with substantial portions of four others. One of those four was only recovered in 2004, also from a scrap of papyrus.


“The new Sappho is the best preserved Sappho papyrus in existence, with just a few letters that had to be restored in the first poem, and not a single word that is in doubt. Its content is equally exciting,” said a Harvard classics professor upon examining the papyrus.


One of the two recovered poems speaks of a Charaxos and a Larichos, the names assigned by ancient Greeks to two of Sappho’s brothers, though never before found in Sappho’s own writings. The poem is set to cause discussions about whether or not the two men are Sappho’s brothers. It depicts an exchange between two people concerned about the success of Charaxos’ latest sea voyage. The speaker may be Sappho herself, but the loss of the poem’s initial lines makes this unclear.


A horizontal line on the papyrus indicates the end of the first poem and the beginning of the next, an address to the goddess Aphrodite. Only scattered words from this second poem can be recovered from the papyrus, which grows more tattered and illegible to the end.


The two poems share a common meter, the so-called Sapphic stanza, a verse form perhaps devised by Sappho and today bearing her name. Both belonged, therefore, to the first of Sappho’s nine books of poetry and their recovery gives a clearer glimpse into the makeup and structure of that book. “All the poems of Sappho’s first book seem to have been about family, biography, and cult, together with poems about love/Aphrodite,” Dr. Obbink writes.


Sappho wrote in a dialect of Greek called Aeolic, which is significantly different in sound and spellings than the Attic Greek that later became standard. The handwriting on the papyrus allowed Dr. Obbink to establish its date as late 2nd or 3rd century A.D., almost a millennium after Sappho first wrote. It was not long after this time that Aeolic texts and other non-standard dialects began to die out in ancient Greece, with the focus of educators and copyists shifting on Attic writers.


The new Sappho papyrus probably came from the Egyptian city of Oxyrynchus, home to a large Greek-speaking population in antiquity and the source of most of these papyri, “since in its dry climate even plant-based materials can survive intact,” explains Dr. Obbink, also head of Oxford University’s Oxyrynchus Papyrus Project.


- See more at: http://eu.greekreporter.com/2014/01/28/new-poems-of-greek-poetess-sappho-recovered/#sthash.5WKpxn2d.dpuf



Pagan temple remains unearthed under Milan Cathedral

Pagan temple remains unearthed under Milan Cathedral (ANSA) - Milan, January 29 - The remains of a pagan temple believed to have been devoted to the goddess Minerva have been found under the Milan Cathedral.


The announcement was made Wednesday during the presentation of other archaeological finds, the remains of the ancient Mediolanum Forum discovered recently under the basement of the building housing the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.


Archaeological excavations to unearth the remains of the large city that, beginning in 292 A.D., was the capital of the Western Roman Empire for over a century continue despite funding difficulties. So far, part of the floor made out of what is known as 'Verona stone' has been found. The base of a section of an arcade can also be seen. The entire forum occupied an estimated surface area of 166 by 55 square meters. While waiting to be able to extend the excavations, the zone has been fitted with a special entrance on the side of the building, walkways, and illustrative signs to make visits by the public possible. The works were conducted with funding from the Cariplo foundation and the Lombardy regional government and are part of the project for a 'Milan Archaeology' route being readied for the 2015 Milano Expo, said regional culture councillor Cristina Cappellini.



Charlemagne's bones are (probably) real

Published: 31 Jan 2014 08:04 GMT+01:00

Updated: 31 Jan 2014 08:04 GMT+01:00


German scientists have announced after almost 26 years of research that the bones interred for centuries at Aachen Cathedral are likely to be those of Charlemagne.


Researchers confirmed on Wednesday evening - 1,200 years to the day since Charlemagne died - that the 94 bones and bone fragments taken from the supposed resting place of the King of the Franks and founder of what was to become the Holy Roman Empire came from a tall, thin, older man.


The team first opened the sarcophagus of the first emperor in western Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire in secret in 1988 and presented their results for the first time on Wednesday.


One of the scientists studying the remains, Professor Frank Rühli, said: "Thanks to the results from 1988 up until today, we can say with great likelihood that we are dealing with the skeleton of Charlemagne."


From studying the dimensions of the upper arm, thigh and shin bones, scientists have built up a picture of the man behind the skeleton, and it matches descriptions of Charlemagne.


At 1.84 metres (six feet), he was unusually tall for his time. The team also estimated his weight at around 78 kilograms, giving him a slim body mass index of around 23.


Previous estimates had placed his height at between 1.79 metres and 1.92 metres.


And an account from medieval Frankish biographer Einhard the Frank claiming Charlemagne walked with a limp in old age could well be accurate, as both kneecap and heel bones had deposits consistent with an injury.


No new evidence was found to corroborate accounts that he died of pneumonia as researchers discovered no strong clues as to Charlemagne's health at the time of death.


The greater part of the skeleton was found in the king's elaborate tomb, while parts of the skull were found in a bust of the emperor. One of the shin bones was discovered in Charlemagne's reliquary - a ceremonial container for remains.


While most of the bones are accounted for, it is believed some of those missing were given away as relics at the time of the emperor's death.



Iron industry revered by Romans discovered during link road dig in East Sussex

By Ben Miller | 03 February 2014


Archaeological finds in East Sussex suggest why the Romans would have pushed for control of a sophisticated iron production line


An epicentre of the prehistoric iron industry, coveted by the conquering Romans for its sophisticated production techniques and believed by archaeologists to have been one of the finest sites of its kind in ancient Europe, has been discovered during a major roadbuilding project in Sussex.


Dozens of boreholes, 181 trial trenches and 24 test pits have been investigated by Oxford Archaeology along the future 5.6km link road between Bexhill-on-Sea and Hastings. The evidence ranges from the late Mesolithic and Neolithic periods to the Bronze, Iron, Saxon and Medieval ages.


“One of the sites that has been found on the archaeological work for the link road has been an iron working site – a late Iron Age site,” says Casper Johnson, the county archaeologist.


“So that’s dated between about 50BC and 50AD, before the Roman Conquest.


“It shows a high level of technology, high level of iron production, which is the sort of thing that the Roman Empire would have wanted to control.


“So the sites we are looking at here on the link road are in some ways the reason why the Roman Empire wanted to control Britain.


“There are only a small number of really high quality iron resources in Northern Europe. The ones here around Hastings are some of the best, and certainly in Britain they are the best.


“Iron was the key technology, a key resource – this is 2,000 years ago, for weapons through to nails and the fittings for wagons and horses.


“So this is high quality – this is an important resource that the Roman army needed and wanted to get control of.”


A fractured complete pot – described as a “very nice find” by an archaeological team who began their work in the area two years ago – was found in the field south of Upper Wilting Farm, dated to the early to mid-Saxon period and thought to confirm the long history of occupation on the high pastoral grounds.


They believe “scatters” – more than 120 pieces of worked flint were discovered in a mere square metre of land – derive from temporary hunting camps and a base camp, and say the well-preserved late Mesolithic and early Neolithic hunting landscape could be of national importance if it can be linked to organic remains and worked wood within the trenches and pits.


“There’s still quite a lot of excavation to continue,” explains Johnson.


“The archaeological dig started in April 2013 and will continue right through this year along the lengths of the road.


“So there are flint scatter sites still to dig and there is the remainder of this iron working site still to dig.”


A Grade II-listed farmhouse, disused railway bridges and 19th century houses feature along the course of the proposed link road, which was granted planning permission in July 2009.



Archaeology secrets are to be uncovered

30 January 2014


Secrets uncovered from an archaeological dig are set to be revealed next week.


Work was carried out last year at Northumberland Park in North Shields last year which revealed some of the area’s medieval history.


And during the dig parts of a former 13th century leper hospital – St Leonards – were uncovered on the site.


The park is currently being renovated as part of a project by North Tyneside Council to reinstate lost features and improve the park as a visitor destination.


The Friends of Northumberland Park group are hosting a talk for those people involved in last year’s dig on Tuesday, February 4.


Guest speaker will be archaeologist Richard Carlton, who ran the archaeological project at the park last year.


Richard will give an information presentation about last year’s dig and what was unearthed – plus what this year’s project hopes to discover and how volunteers can get involved.


Renovation at Northumberland Park, which is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is scheduled to be completed in the autumn this year.



Blanch Mortimer: 'Remains' of medieval traitor's daughter found

29 January 2014 Last updated at 03:59


The remains of the daughter of a 14th Century traitor are believed to have been discovered in a church tomb in Herefordshire.


Blanch Mortimer, who died in 1347, was the daughter of Sir Roger Mortimer, who overthrew King Edward II and ruled England for three years.


Work to restore Blanch's tomb at St Bartholomew's Church in Much Marcle uncovered the remains in October.


English Heritage described the find as "astonishing".


The Reverend Howard Mayell, vicar for the parish, said the £500,000 work to restore the church had begun in 2006.


"However, it wasn't until autumn we discovered there was a lead-lined coffin in the tomb, which was a real surprise," he said.



The remains were uncovered in October during restoration work at St Bartholomew's Church

"We kept the discovery under wraps until we had carried out tests and made her secure again.


"There wasn't much left in the coffin, so we can't be absolutely certain it is Blanch but we believe the remains are hers.


"We are quite overwhelmed by the idea Blanch is still in the church."


Blanch's tomb, which is located within the chancel, includes an effigy that has been described by experts as "strikingly beautiful".


Mr Mayell said the monument had been removed for preservation and it was only then the tomb had been discovered.


The man who overthrew a king

·         Blanch was the daughter of the first Earl of March Sir Roger Mortimer

·         Sir Roger escaped to France, after being imprisoned in the Tower of London for revolting against the king, Edward II

·         He took the queen, Isabella, as his mistress and returned to England to depose the king. It is also believed Sir Roger arranged for Edward's murder

·         However, Sir Roger was executed three years later

·         The Mortimer family prospered despite his downfall. English Heritage describes Blanch's effigy (above) as, "one of the finest of its date in England"

·         The king overthrown by his wife in favour of his son

Michael Eastham, the conservator of sculpture, who was working on the church, said: "We could not work out what it was when we first took the stone panels from the front of the memorial.


"We thought it might be a layer of slate but as we explored further we realised it was a lead coffin."


A spokesman for English Heritage said it was "astonishing" to find a coffin within a tomb, adding: "Usually the tomb chest is empty, with the body buried beneath."


He said: "The coffin is complete, irregular in shape like a lead shroud, and has a number of small holes in it."


The remains underwent an endoscopic examination.


The spokesman added: "The decision was eventually taken that the coffin should not be opened, both on grounds of best archaeological practice and the Church of England policy that human remains should be disturbed as little as possible."