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Lime Kiln May Have Supplied Construction of Brick Palace

September 17, 2016

CHELMSFORD, ENGLAND—Essex Live reports that the archaeological investigation of a proposed development site in eastern England has uncovered a lime kiln thought to have been used between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Lime produced in the kiln by burning limestone or chalk would have been used in mortar, concrete, and plaster. The excavation team, made up of researchers from AECOM and Oxford Archaeology East, suggests that the kiln may have provided supplies for Henry VIII’s renovation of a nearby estate, which he called the Palace of Beaulieu. The building is now known as New Hall and is occupied by a school. For more on archaeology in England, go to "The Prisoners of Richmond Castle."

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Traces of Bronze-Age Cheese Production Unearthed in Denmark

September 16, 2016

SILKEBORG, DENMARK—Science Nordic reports that archaeologists found a 3,000-year-old clay pot in central Jutland that appears to have been discarded after a recipe burned. Kaj F. Rasmussen of Museum Silkeborg said that the pot, found intact in a waste pit, contained a white-yellow crust, rather than the black, burned starch that is usually found in ancient cooking pots. A sample of the residue was analyzed with mass spectrometry by Mads Chr. Christensen of the Danish National Museum. The results suggest that the crusty substance was burned bovine fat, perhaps curds from making hard cheese. “I cannot help but wonder if someone had a guilty conscience. It’s well and truly burnt and must have smelt terrible,” Rasmussen said. To read about another discovery in Denmark, go to "Bronze Age Traveler."

Categories: Blog

New Dates May Push Back Settlement of Iceland

September 16, 2016

STÖðVARFJÖðDUR, ICELAND—Iceland Review reports that excavations in Iceland’s East Fjords, led by archaeologist Bjarni F. Einarsson, have uncovered a longhouse that has been dated to as early as the year 800, some 70 years earlier than Iceland’s first permanent Nordic settler was thought to have arrived. Bjarni explained that the longhouse was built in the Nordic style, and its location is near a good harbor facing Norway and the British Isles. He thinks the building may have served as an outpost occupied on a seasonal basis to harvest natural resources. For more, go to "Iceland’s Young Migrant." 

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Peru’s Indigo-Dyed Fabric Dated to 6,200 Years Ago

September 16, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Live Science reports that Jeffrey Splitstoser of the George Washington University and Jan Wouters of University College London used high-performance liquid chromatography to detect indigo in pieces of multi-colored cotton fabric from Peru’s Huaca Prieta, a temple made of layers of a concrete-like material made from ash, shells, and sand. The oldest scrap of blue fabric is thought to be at least 6,200 years old. When the temple was excavated in 2007 and 2008, archaeologists Tom Dillehay and Duccio Bonavia found that as the temple was renovated between 6,200 and 4,000 years ago, pieces of woven cotton in bundles were sealed in the layers of concrete-like material along a ramp to the top of the structure. The blue color of the textiles appeared when conservators washed away the ash. The first chemical analyses of the samples did not detect any indigo, which produces almost all blue dye in nature, so Splitstoser contacted Wouters, who conducted tests with the more sensitive technique. “That’s when we realized that we had the world’s oldest indigo, by far,” Splitstoser said. To read about use of an early artificial blue pigment, go to "Hidden Blues."

Categories: Blog

Aphrodite Statues Discovered in Jordan

September 15, 2016

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA—Live Science reports that a team of researchers discovered two marble statues representing the goddess Aphrodite, or Venus, at Petra, the ancient Nabataean capital. The team is codirected by Tom Parker, of North Carolina State University, and Megan Perry, of East Carolina State University. Working in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, the team has been excavating in a previously unexplored area of the city known as the North Ridge, where non-elite residents are thought to have lived. Most of the pieces of the Roman-style statues, which date to the second century A.D., have been recovered, and they still retain traces of paint. One of the statues is still attached to its base and a figure of Cupid. The statues were found in a first-century villa complete with a bath complex that may have been abandoned and later used for debris storage after an earthquake in A.D. 363. Coins and pottery helped the archaeologists determine that the statues were probably placed in the building late in the fourth century. “The statues were packed in pretty tight—I think that’s what preserved them in such extraordinary condition,” Parker said. For more, go to "Mystery Buildings at Petra."

Categories: Blog

Inscribed Scale Weight Unearthed in Jerusalem

September 15, 2016

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—Ynetnews.com reports that a scale weight dating to the Second Temple period has been found in the Old City, at the site where the nineteenth-century Tiferet Israel Synagogue was located. Oren Gutfield of Hebrew University said that the weight is carved with two lines of text in Aramaic, which have not been fully translated, but are said to include the family name of a high priest. The weight was found beneath a burned layer thought to represent the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Artifacts from the Ottoman, Mamluk, Byzantine, and First Temple periods have also been recovered. For more, go to "The Gates of Gath."

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Roman Goddess Statuette Found on Croatian Beach

September 15, 2016

ZADAR, CROATIA—Total Croatia News reports that after a sunbather removed an uncomfortable rock from beneath her towel at Kolovare Beach and tossed it away from her, swimmers Dejan Filipčić, who studied archaeology, and Hrvoje Mijić, a geographer, picked it up. They saw that the "rock" was actually a statuette of the Roman goddess Diana thought to date to the second century A.D., when there was a Roman colony along the Dalmatian Coast. Filipčić said that fingerprints are still visible on the back of the figurine, likely left behind by the artist who made it. The figurine is missing its head, which may have broken off or been dissolved by the sea, he added. To read about more recently discovered Roman-era figurines, go to "Sun and Moon."

Categories: Blog

Aureus Discovered in Jerusalem

September 15, 2016

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA—Live Science reports that a gold coin bearing the image the Roman Emperor Nero has been discovered near the ruins of a first-century villa on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion. Archaeologist Shimon Gibson of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, said that the villa is in the priestly and aristocratic quarter in the Upper City of Jerusalem. His team has also uncovered the villa’s well-preserved rooms; a mikveh, or Jewish ritual pool; and a bathroom. Gibson thinks the coin, which dates to A.D. 56, may have been lost and the villa destroyed in A.D. 70, when the Romans sacked the city. To read about Nero's lavish imperial palace, go to "Golden House of an Emperor."

Categories: Blog

Dogs and Guinea Pigs Unearthed Near Peru’s Central Coast

September 14, 2016

LIMA, PERU—Peru This Week reports that the remains of an additional ten dogs, two guinea pigs, and a person from the pre-Incan culture of Lima were found on the grounds of the Parque de las Leyendas zoo this year. “The cuy (guinea pig) of the Andes was a very important food source, and these dogs were buried next to their owners to serve as guides to reach the afterlife,” said archaeologist Lucénida Carrion. She added that some of the dogs had brown fur, while the guinea pigs were black. The dogs were wearing leashes and their legs had been tied. To read about another recent discovery in Peru, go to "Women in a Temple of Death."

Categories: Blog

Nineteenth-Century Shipwreck Found in Arctic Waters

September 14, 2016

VANCOUVER, CANADA—A team from the Arctic Research Foundation claims to have found the wreckage of HMS Terror about 31 miles from the site where the wreckage of HMS Erebus was discovered in 2014, according to a report in The Guardian. Both ships and all 128 members of Sir John Franklin’s expedition to search for the fabled Northwest Passage to Asia were lost in 1848. The ship thought to be Terror was found standing upright and in pristine condition in Terror Bay, near the coast of King William Island, after Sammy Kogvik, a Canadian Ranger and Inuk hunter, told operations director Adrian Schimnowski that he had spotted what looked like a large pole—perhaps a ship’s mast—sticking up out of the sea ice while snowmobiling. The location is about 60 miles from the area where historians thought Terror had been crushed by ice. “Given the location of the find and the state of the wreck, it’s almost certain that HMS Terror was operationally closed down by the remaining crew who then re-boarded HMS Erebus and sailed south where they met their ultimate tragic fate,” said philanthropist Jim Balsillie, founder of the Arctic Research Foundation. Parks Canada has not yet confirmed the identity of the ship. For more on the discovery of Erebus, go to "Franklin’s Last Voyage."

Categories: Blog

Intact Figurine Unearthed at Neolithic Town in Turkey

September 13, 2016

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA—The Daily Sabah reports that an intact female figure carved from marble was recently unearthed at Çatalhöyük by a team of archaeologists led by Ian Hodder of Stanford University. Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced that the statue dates to between 8000 and 5500 B.C., measures about 6.7 inches long, and weighs about two pounds. For more on archaeology in Turkey, go to "Zeugma After the Flood."

Categories: Blog

Neolithic Snowshoe Found in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains

September 13, 2016

BOLZANO, ITALY—The Telegraph reports that a snowshoe discovered on the Gurgler Eisjoch glacier at an altitude of about 10,000 feet has been dated to between 3800 and 3700 B.C. The snowshoe, made of birch wood, was found by cartographer Simone Bartolini of Italy’s Military Geographical Institute in 2003 while he was mapping the border with Austria. Bartolini says that he thought the snowshoe might have been about 100 years old, but he recently realized that it could be much older and handed it over to archaeologists. The new date suggests that the snowshoe is about 500 years older than the frozen mummy known as Ötzi the Iceman, who was found in the same region about 25 years ago. Catrin Marzoli, director of the cultural heritage department for South Tyrol province, said at a press conference that the shoe is further evidence that well-equipped people were traveling through the Alps in the Neolithic period, perhaps hunting, fleeing enemies, or engaging in ritual activity. The snowshoe will eventually go on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, where the Ötzi's remains are housed. To read more about Ötzi, go to “Heart Attack of the Mummies.”

Categories: Blog

Marble Sarcophagus Found in Turkey

September 13, 2016

BURSA, TURKEY—The Daily Sabah reports that police officers looking for a stolen truck in northwestern Anatolia discovered a well-preserved sarcophagus decorated with lion-headed antefixes at the site of an illegal excavation in an olive grove. Archaeologists from Iznik Museum carefully finished uncovering the six-ton marble coffin, which they think dates to the second century A.D. The sarcophagus will eventually be displayed at Iznik Museum. For more on archaeology in Turkey, go to "In Search of a Philosopher’s Stone."

Categories: Blog

Radar Scans Detect Possible Royal Grave at Reading Abbey

September 13, 2016

READING, ENGLAND—BBC News reports that graves have been detected with ground-penetrating radar behind the high altar at the ruins of Reading Abbey, where King Henry I is said to have been buried in 1136. He founded Reading Abbey in 1121, and King Henry VIII sacked it during the dissolution of the monasteries in the mid-sixteenth century. A jail, a parking lot, a church, and public gardens are among the buildings that were later built on the site. Twelve archaeological digs to look for additional traces of the medieval abbey and the remains of the king are planned. For more, go to "Legends of Glastonbury Abbey."

Categories: Blog

Lion Carving Reused in Slovakia Manor House

September 10, 2016

JELŠAVA, SLOVAKIA—The Slovak Spectator reports that a carving of a lion was found in a wall of the Coburg manor house in central Slovakia. Viera Kozárová, coordinator of the restoration, thinks that the lion may have been a decorative element in a railing or a brick stove before it was reused in the brick wall, and placed just under the current building’s roof. “We’re guessing that it comes from the Renaissance period and maybe even older,” said Kozárová. The lion carving may be taken out of the wall and put on display in the manor house. For more, go to "The Many Lives of an English Manor House."

Categories: Blog

Traffic Dangers Force Closure of Neolithic Tomb in Scotland

September 10, 2016

ORKNEY, SCOTLAND—According to a report in The Scotsman, Maes Howe, a Neolithic passage tomb, and Tormiston Mill, a late-nineteenth-century water-powered mill, will close at the end of September due to safety concerns. The 5,000-year-old chambered cairn and the neighboring mill are located near one of the busiest roads on the Orkney mainland. Officials from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) have determined that it is dangerous for visitors to access the historic monuments from the parking lot. “We will of course continue to conserve the site, and hope to see a positive resolution so we can continue to let visitors enjoy a special place,” said David Mitchell, acting chief executive and director of conservation at HES. To read more about archaeology on Orkney, go to "Neolithic Europe's Remote Heart."

Categories: Blog

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September 9, 2016

ISTANBUL, TURKEY—The Daily Sabah reports that a statue of Cybele, the mother goddess of Anatolia, has been found in the Kurul Kalesi, a 2,300-year-old fortress on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. The marble figure was damaged, but it is still seated on its throne. “According to our research, the statue remained intact after the walls of the entrance of the fortress of Kurul collapsed during an invasion by Roman soldiers. This statue has also shown us that the fortress of Kurul in Ordu was a very important settlement,” explained Süleyman Yücel Şenyurt of Gazi University. The statue will eventually be moved to the archaeology museum in Ordu. To read about another discovery in Turkey, go to "In Search of a Philosopher’s Stone."

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September 9, 2016

AVDAT NATIONAL PARK, ISRAEL—The Times of Israel reports that a 1,500-year-old stable has been found in a rock-hewn cave in the Negev Desert by a team of archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and DePaul University. The structure is thought to have been used by monks, who built stone walls in the cave and crafted stone basins to hold food and water for the animals. Crosses had been painted on the walls. A three-foot-deep layer of manure in the structure revealed that the stable was home to donkeys, sheep, and goats. The team also collected plant remains, including grape seeds, for analysis. The stable is thought to have been destroyed in the seventh century by an earthquake. To read about a recent discovery of Roman-era figurines off the coast of Israel, go to "Sun and Moon." 

Categories: Blog

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September 8, 2016

LIMA, PERU—Fox News Latino reports that at least 13 graves of the Chimu-Inca culture have been found at the Chornancap temple, located on the northern coast of Peru. The graves date to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Archaeologists led by Carlos Wester La Torre found the remains of six children who had been buried in pairs in shallow graves on the north, east, and west sides of the temple. The remains of the two children found on the west side are missing their feet. The team members speculate that the feet were amputated and the children sacrificed to act as “guardians” of the other tombs, which contained the remains of men and women. Some of these people may also have been sacrificed. One of the burials contains offerings that resemble objects depicted in a painting discovered in the temple. Those items include a vessel shaped to resemble the head of a coca-leaf chewer, and a standing, smiling man. To read about another recent discovery in Peru, go to "A Life Story."

Categories: Blog

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September 8, 2016

LONDON, ENGLAND—The Independent reports that genetic traces of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes bubonic plague, have been detected in skeletons recovered from an orderly, seventeenth-century burial pit in London’s Bedlam burial ground. No outward evidence of the disease, which kills quickly, was found on the bones, but plague killed more than 100,000 people in London in 1665, so researchers suspected that the possibly 100 people buried in the pit died in the epidemic. Fragments of pottery, glass, and coffin handles in the pit were used to help date it. The remains of the dead were stacked with care in the crowded cemetery, where more than 3,000 people were interred in all. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute in Jena, Germany, will now sequence the recovered Yersinia pestis genome and compare it to pathogens from other historic outbreaks of plague. Further tests on the bones could yield information on the victims’ diets and where they had been born. To read more about London, go to "Haunt of the Resurrection Men."

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