ISLE OF BUTE, SCOTLAND—New radiocarbon dates for a preserved surface in the mound known as Cnoc An Rath could indicate a Viking presence at the site. Some think the archaeological monument may have been a Viking “thing,” or parliament site, based upon an analysis of long lost place names on the island. And archaeologist Paul Duffy told the Herald Scotland that a medieval Irish text mentions the island as being in the territory of the Gall-Gaidheil, Norse-Gael people who dominated much of the region around the Irish Sea. “We have got a very unusual and definite historical evidence which puts Bute in the Gall-Gaidheil territory, and possibly quite an important place in the Gall-Gaidheil territory," said Duffy. "What we have now is another brick in the evidential wall which suggests there is an assembly site on Bute." That could link the site to King Ketill Björnsson, a.k.a. Ketill Flatnose, a figure in Icelandic sagas. Icelandic tradition states that the king died on the Scottish islands. To read more, go to "Viking Trading or Raiding?"
CHATHAM TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY—According to an Associated Press report, historian William Styple and his son Brad think they may have found the place where Washington and his troops stayed after crossing the Delaware River and engaging in battles in Trenton and Princeton. The Styples found an 1855 newspaper article that reportedly records the memories of people who saw the camp, and late-nineteenth-century photographs of a mansion on the site, one of which was marked with the location of the camp’s flagpole. An archaeological survey, conducted by Michigan-based Commonwealth Heritage Group, recovered several dozen artifacts at the site, including metal buckles, a knob from a desk drawer, pottery, and a partial pipe bowl. “It could be an encampment during the war, possibly ’77. But armies constantly marched through here through the entire American Revolution, and bits of armies were camping as they passed through,” commented Eric Olsen, a park ranger at Morristown National Historical Park. For more on archaeology of the American Revolution, go to "Finding Parker’s Revenge."
NANJING, CHINA—Archaeologists from the Nanjing Museum say they have discovered traces of a rice field at the Neolithic site of Hanjing in the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu. Carbonized rice from the site was dated to 8,000 years ago. The ancient rice paddy had been divided into different parts, each of which had a different shape and covered less than 100 square feet. China Daily also reports that the scientists found evidence the paddy had been repeatedly planted with rice. Lin Liugen, head of the museum’s archaeology institute, said that 10,000-year-old carbonized rice has been found elsewhere, but this is oldest rice paddy to have been uncovered in China. To read about another recent discovery, go to "The Price of Tea in China."
STANFORD, CALIFORNIA—Most tattoos found on Egyptian mummies are patterns of dots or dashes, but according to a report in Nature, bioarchaeologist Anne Austin of Stanford University found tattoos representing actual objects on a 3,000-year-old mummified woman from Deir el-Medina, the village where the artisans who worked on tombs in the Valley of the Kings are thought to have lived. Using infrared lighting and an infrared sensor, Austin and her team recorded more than 30 tattoos on the woman’s remains. Many of the images, which include pictures of lotus blossoms on the woman’s hips, cows on her arm, baboons on her neck, and wadjet eyes on her neck, shoulders, and back, are associated with the goddess Hathor. “Any angle that you look at this woman, you see a pair of divine eyes looking back at you,” Austin said. Some of the images are more faded than others, and are thought to have been applied as the woman aged. To read in-depth about the archaeology of body art, go to "Ancient Tattoos."
QUANG NAM, VIETNAM—Archaeologists led by Ton That Huong, head of the province’s Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, have discovered a well thought to date to the twelfth century at a site known for its Cham steles, statues, and temples. According to a report in Vietnam News, the square-shaped well measures approximately three feet per side and is lined with bricks similar to those used in other Cham structures in central Vietnam. The well is located on the edge of the archaeological site, near an agricultural field, so a fence will be built to protect it. To read more about ancient sites in the region, go to "Letter From Cambodia: Storied Landscape."
DURHAM, ENGLAND—Researchers from Durham University have examined the bones of up to 28 individuals thought to have been Scottish prisoners of war captured at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 by the English army. Historical sources say that at least 4,000 men were taken prisoner and marched to Durham Cathedral and castle, where they were held. The bodies in the two graves had been placed there haphazardly. Marks on the bones, perhaps made by scavenging animals, suggest that the graves were left open over a period of time. According to a report in Chronicle Live, the scientists have found many of the individuals to have been between 13 and 25 years old at the time of death. The condition of their teeth suggests that the young men had experienced malnutrition and disease in childhood, and that some of them smoked pipes, which became popular in the 1630s. Their lack of healed wounds suggests that they had not had previous battle experience. “We would like to know more about the circumstances of the battle and march south, and see if we can find any evidence for other mass graves as yet undiscovered,” said Beth Upex of the University of Durham. To read about more about historical archaeology in the British Isles, go to "Letter From Scotland: Living on the Edge."