Copper Artifact Discovered in Britain at a Portal Dolmen

Thursday, April 17, 2014



A copper artifact has been discovered at the ruins of a Neolithic tomb on the island of Anglesey by an international team of researchers. “The big question in archaeology at the moment is whether there was a Copper Age in Britain. Did copper come to Britain before bronze? This discovery helps to suggest that we did have a Copper Age,” George Nash of the University of Bristol explained to The Daily Post. Called Perthi Duon, the tomb is thought to have been built as a single-chambered tomb around 5,500 years ago, with a compacted-stone, kidney-shaped cairn surrounding the chamber. The tomb is known to have still been standing in the early eighteenth century, but plowing around the monument caused” a lot of disturbance,” Nash said.



Excitement after prehistoric burial site found in new Crieff Primary School site

By PAUL REOCH, 18 April 2014 8.17am.


Archaeologists are ecstatic after uncovering a “really significant” Bronze Age burial site in Perthshire.


Arrowheads believed to date back to between 2,500BC and 800BC have already been found at the site of the new Crieff Primary School, and experts hope to unearth more historic items in forthcoming weeks.


One “definite” prehistoric burial site, known as a cursus — a Bronze Age ceremonial monument walkway — has been identified and archaeologists are hopeful there will be more finds to come.


Sarah Malone, a heritage officer with Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust, told The Courier last night that archaeologists had been at the Crieff site since last year.


“We have been working at the site for a while and this is a really significant find,” she said.


“We have identified one definite prehistoric Bronze Age burial site here and will probably find more items.


“Last year we discovered Bronze Age arrowheads and some kists.”


Ms Malone said that archaeologists were still excavating at the Crieff site and confirmed it is part of a “Bronze Age landscape”.


“It is quite exciting,” she added.


Local historian Colin Mayall said: “That whole area is a site of great historical interest. It is the site of more than one cursus, which can date back some 6,000 years.


“Cursus are now regarded as a type of sacred walkway, with earthen walls which could have extended for miles.


“More recently it was also the ancient site of the Stayt of Crieff, where the Earls of Strathearn held their courts.


“I feel these finds are all relevant, not just in a local sense but on a national and, indeed, international archaeological stage.”


Perth and Kinross Council confirmed that excavations are currently taking place.


“Archaeological works being carried out on the site for the new Crieff Primary School have indicated the presence of what are believed to be prehistoric burials — potentially from the early Bronze Age,” a council spokesperson said.


“Further assessment of the site to confirm these initial findings is ongoing at present.”



Norfolk wolf coins unearthed in treasure find

17 April 2014 Last updated at 03:23


An "unusual" hoard of 44 Norfolk wolf coins produced in the latter stages of the 1st Century and found in south Norfolk have been declared treasure.


The Iron Age coins, about the size of a thick modern penny, were minted by the Iceni tribe whose territories covered much of East Anglia.


Museum finds officer Adrian Marsden said the coins probably belonged to "a member of tribal hierarchy".


The Norwich Castle Museum hopes to acquire them for its collection.


"This number of coins is unusual," Mr Marsden said. "We did have a hoard of 82 from north-west Norfolk in the 1980s but 44 is certainly sizeable and more may turn up.


"Although these aren't the bright yellow gold of earlier Norfolk wolf staters (coins) they would have represented a fair amount of wealth... the person who buried these would have been someone of account.


"These coins get debased over time, so you get bright yellow buttery gold ones, then years later ones that are more coppery with a bit of silver," he added.


The Norfolk wolf coins were among a number of treasure items found by metal-detecting enthusiasts, featured at the Norfolk Coroner's Court.


The coroner also ruled on a gold mourning ring created to mark the passing of prominent money lender and Buckenham landowner Hugh Audley.


Measuring 23mm across the external diameter it features a stylised skull and black enamel, and was found in Carleton Rode.


"This one is interesting as we know who the chap is as he's mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diaries," said Mr Marsden.


"His name is inscribed on the inside of the band and we believe Audley's will gave instruction for the making of a few of these rings.


"We know that Audley was a very wealthy man so he could afford to have had quite a few of these dished out, probably a dozen or two."


"They were a way of marking your mourning and showing people you were bereaved."


Other items at the inquest included a hawking vervel from a "royal" hunt, a hoard of silver pennies from Edmund of East Anglia's reign and two sliver strap-ends, used for fastening clothes.



New city wall discovered at ancient Roman port

17 April 2014 Southampton, University of


Researchers from the universities of Southampton and Cambridge have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously estimated.


A team, led by Professor Simon Keay (Southampton) and Professor Martin Millet (Cambridge), has been conducting a survey of an area of land lying between Ostia and another Roman port called Portus – both about thirty miles from Rome, Italy’s capital city. The work has been undertaken as part of the Southampton led ‘Portus Project’, in collaboration with the British School at Rome and the Soprintendenza Speciale per I Beni Archeologici di Roma.


Previously, scholars thought that the Tiber formed the northern edge of Ostia, however this new research, using geophysical survey techniques to examine the site, has shown that Ostia’s city wall also continued on the other side of the river. The researchers have shown this newly discovered area enclosed three huge, previously unknown warehouses – the largest of which was the size of a football pitch.


Director of the Portus Project, Professor Simon Keay says, “Our research not only increases the known area of the ancient city, but it also shows that the Tiber bisected Ostia, rather than defining its northern side.


“The presence of the warehouses along the northern bank of the river provides us with further evidence for the commercial activities that took place there in the first two centuries.”


The researchers have been using an established technique known as magnetometry, which involves systematically and rapidly scanning the landscape with small handheld instruments in order to identify localised magnetic anomalies relating to buried ancient structures. These are then mapped out with specialised computer software, providing images similar to aerial photographs, which can be interpreted by archaeologists.


In antiquity, the landscape in this recent study was known as the Isola Sacra and was surrounded by a major canal to the north, the river Tiber to the east and south, and the Tyrrhenian sea to the west. At the southernmost side of the Isola Sacra, the geophysical survey revealed very clear evidence for the town wall of Roman Ostia, interspersed by large towers several metres thick, and running east to west for about half a kilometre. In an area close by, known to archaeologists as the Trastevere Ostiense, the team also found very clear evidence for at least four major buildings.


Professor Keay comments: “Three of these buildings were probably warehouses that are similar in layout to those that have been previously excavated at Ostia itself, however the newly discovered buildings seem to be much larger. In addition, there is a massive 142 metre by 110 metre fourth building – composed of rows of columns running from north to south, but whose function is unknown.


“Our results are of major importance for our understanding of Roman Ostia and the discoveries will lead to a major re-think of the topography of one of the iconic Roman cities in the Mediterranean.”


For more information about the Portus Project, visit www.portusproject.org





Siberian Mummies in Copper Masks Pose Mystery



Russian archaeologists have resumed excavations in a remote site near the Arctic Circle in the attempt to understand a perplexing find of medieval mummies clad in copper masks.


Roughly 1,000 years old, the mummies were found during a series of excavations that started in 1997 in a Siberian necropolis near the village of Zeleniy Yar, at the base of a peninsula local people called "the end of the Earth."


The archaeologists found 34 shallow graves with seven male adults, three male infants, and one female child wearing a copper mask. Buried with a hoard of artifacts, most of the bodies had shattered or missing skulls, and smashed skeletons.


Five mummies were unearthed still shrouded in copper and blankets of reindeer, beaver, wolverine or bear fur, while three copper masked infant male mummies were found bound in four or five copper hoops two inches wide.


The best preserved mummy was a red-haired man found in a wooden sarcophagus. He was covered chest to foot in copper plate and was laid to rest with an iron hatchet, furs and a bronze head buckle depicting a bear.


"Nowhere in the world are there so many mummified remains found outside the permafrost or the marshes," Natalia Fyodorova, of the Ural branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the Siberian Times.


The soil at the site is sandy and not permanently frozen. Scientists have determined that the mysterious people were mummified by accident due to a dip in temperatures in the 14th century. The copper may have also prevented oxidation of the remains.


‘Frankenstein’ Mummies Are a Mix of Corpses


Intriguingly, the legs of the dead all point toward the nearby Gorny Poluy River. According to Fedorova, such posture might have had a religious meaning. However, archaeologists admitted the graves feature burial rites they had never seen before.


Excavation was halted in 2002 following objections by local people who feared the archaeologists disturbed the souls of their ancestors. But work has resumed now.


"It is a unique archaeological site. We are pioneers in everything from taking away the object of sandy soil, which has not been done previously," Fyodorova said.


Among the artifacts discovered near the copper clad mummies are an iron combat knife, bracelets, silver medallions and bronze figurines.


The archaeologists also found bowls originating in Persia, some 3,700 miles to the southwest, dating from the 10th or 11th centuries.


The finding suggests that around one millennium ago Siberia was not a remote and inhospitable site, but an important trading crossroad.


Further research on the mysterious people will include genetic tests.



Clues found about Civil War ship commandeered by slave on S.C. coast

Ron Barnett, Gannett 9:57 a.m. EDT April 17, 2014



The remains of a ship that was commandeered in Charleston harbor by an enslaved black man during the Civil War and used as an escape vehicle may have been discovered off the South Carolina coast, according to a historian with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Officials are not releasing details, but NOAA plans to issue a report and unveil historical markers on May 12, the 152nd anniversary of the little-known episode.


They said they don't want to announce the location because it's in an environmentally sensitive area.


But "we can say we're pretty sure we know where it is," said Bruce Terrell, senior historian and archeologist for the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries' Maritime Heritage Program and lead author of the report.


The ship, called the Planter, sunk off Cape Romain in northern Charleston County on March 25, 1876, nearly 14 years after a slave named Robert Smalls absconded with it, Terrell said.


Gordon Watts of North Carolina-based Tidewater Atlantic Research Inc., working with NOAA on the project, said he found the likely remains of Planter using a scanning sonar and a magnetometer.


Unfortunately, it's buried under 10-12 feet of sand and an equal amount of water, he said.


"We have probed down. We know there's wood there and we know there's metal there, but we don't know absolutely whether it is or is not the Planter," he said.


It would take finding some specific parts of the ship or other artifacts to make a positive identification, he said.


The South Carolina Institute of Archeology and Anthropology is responsible for shipwrecks and other underwater archaeological sites in state waters, according to Jim Spirek, state underwater archaeologist.


Because of the expensive "industrial-style" work that would be required to excavate it, the institute doesn't have any immediate plans to dig, unless the site is threatened by environmental degregation, he said. But it plans to monitor it because of the potential historical significance, he said.


"The Planter is emblematic of the efforts by enslaved African Americans to not only escape slavery, but also to pay for this freedom by joining the fight against the Confederacy, much like the Planter was turned against its former owners and transformed into a Union gunboat," Spirek said.


NOAA hopes the find will spark an interest in history and archeology among young African Americans as part of a project called Voyage to Discovery.


The story of Smalls' daring deed is inspirational in itself, Terrell said. In the early morning hours of May 13, 1862, Smalls, then 23, took control of the transport steamer with a few other black crewmembers. He put his wife and children aboard and headed out to sea, according to the Voyage to Discovery account.


Smalls, already skilled as a pilot, guided the craft safely through Confederate defenses and made it to the Union blockade. There, he surrendered the vessel and gave valuable intelligence about the rebel military plans, codes and fortifications.


He was hailed as a hero in the Northern press. He became a militia general and captain of the ship he had escaped in -- and went on to serve five terms in Congress. After all of that, he returned to his hometown of Beaufort, S.C., and bought the house that had been owned by his former master, where he lived out his years. And his story -- like the ship he commandeered -- quietly slipped into obscurity.