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WINTER TERM : JANUARY 2020
NORVEGE – Gjellestad - Samples from the so-called “Gjellestad-ship’s” keel found last year have revealed signs of mildew or dry rot, indicating that the vessel could rapidly deteriorate if left in the ground. The overall condition of the ship was described as poor. The vessel’s discovery through the use of georadar made international news in the fall of 2018. It’s believed to have been buried along with a Viking chief referred to in one of the sagas as “King Jell” in the area that’s also believed to contain five Viking langhus (literally, long houses that housed both people and animals) and at least 10 burial mounds. Two of the houses date from the years 400-500 while the ship has been linked to the early Viking period that ran from around 800-1050AD. Archaeologists have dated it to 733AD at the earliest. Preliminary excavation work has led not only to the dating but to results of other analyses and an evaluation of the ship’s condition. Like the Viking burial mound area at Borre just north of Tønsberg, where the outlines of yet another Viking ship were found last year, Gjellestad is part of an ancient landscape that once featured “monumental burial mounds and large buildings,” according to Riksantikvaren. It added that there are “strong indications” that Gjellestad, like Gokstad, was once a major trading site and home to powerful people of the Viking age. It’s believed the vessel was built in either western- or southwestern Norway and sailed to the site where it was eventually buried.
EUROPE – Gough’s Cave, Fontbrégoua, Herxheim, El Mirador Cave - The discoveries were made in several European sites, including in Gough’s Cave, Fontbrégoua, Herxheim, and El Mirador Cave. It's unclear if the skulls, which were broken to preserve the thickest part, were used, but it's possible it was linked to cannibalism. "The removal of the scalp and defleshing was meticulous and intensive according to the number of cut marks, in all skull cups and Fontbrégoua," the authors wrote in the study's abstract. "This pattern is repeated from the Magdalenian sites of Gough’s Cave to the Bronze Age site of El Mirador Cave, providing further evidence of the preparation of the skulls for their possible ritualization. Intensive tissue removal can be an indicator of human cannibalism in a ritual context." The researchers were able to discover the potential ceremonial practices by looking at the cut marks on the skull, which were likely made by stone tools or metal knives. “This practice is archeologically well documented among American Paleo-Indians, for example, who show circular arrangements around the head as signs of this type of practices," Marginedas said.
POLOGNE – Vistule - A 37-metre-long shipwreck has been discovered by archaeologists in the Vistula river near Warsaw. The archaeological team believe that the vessel, which is six metres wide and could date back as far as the 14th century, was a cargo ship or punt used to transport up to 100 tons of goods in the times when Poland was Western Europe’s main grain supplier. The exact date will be determined after examining samples taken from the sunken ship.
VUANATU – Teouma - Evidence of banana seeds, leaves and stems in the tartar build up on the teeth of the initial colonists of remote Oceania, suggests they were both plant cultivators and foragers, according to a new study. The islands of Remote Oceania were some of the last places on Earth to be colonised when the Lapita people reached the distant archipelago of Vanuatu 3,300 years ago. Their mission to live on the unexplored corner of the world was made possible by eating local palm trees and cultivating bananas brought with them. This combination allowed the colonials to adapt to and modify their environment, despite fighting a battle against vitamin deficiencies and scurvy. Evidence of banana seeds had not previously been found in Remote Oceania and researchers believe this is proof of human transportation of the 'cultiwild' varieties. Cultiwild is a term for a wild species of plant which has not yet been fully domesticated for agriculture, but is being transported by humans as a food supply. It is thought the people brought bananas with them to the islands of Vanuatu and managed to cultivate them on the archipelago. 'Therefore, finding both seed and leaf at Teouma is just as likely to be evidence of banana being used for other purposes, such as building material, jewellery, textiles, food wrappings and plates, cordage, ceremonial use or medicine.' Teouma is the earliest and largest Lapita cemetery site in the Pacific islands and was first discovered in 2006, with more than 70 burials. But deciphering much information from the site has been a challenge due to the bizarre nature in which the bodies were buried. Most of the remains had the skull removed after initial burial, and only one skeleton had its own jaw in the grave. In total, out of an estimated 100 total skeletons, only seven skulls were found in the graves. And instead of being atop the shoulders, as would be expected, the skulls had been deliberately placed in obscure locations. Three of the skulls were found on the chest of a headless adult male, one skull was enclosed within two pots and three were placed within the lower limbs of another, headless, old male.
SYRIE – Amrit, Safita, al-Marqab - Excavations carried out last year by Tartous Archeology Department at Amrit, Safita and al-Marqab sites resulted in the discovery of a group of important archaeological finds. Head of Tartous Archeology Department, Marwan Hassan, explained that some pottery fractures were found at Amrit site and an individual grave carved out of fossilized sand. A human skeleton was also found in addition to other discoveries were made like a lamp and pipe made of clay trays were also found. In Safita Tower, Hassan said that the archaeological discoveries managed to locate the Knights’ Hall that the Crusaders added in the middle of the 13th century AD. He explained that through the excavation works it was found that the Talus “a diagonal wall” that was discovered is a part of the outer wall and not part of the wall of the gate and often added to reinforce the gate wall. As for excavation works at al-Marqab Castle, which is carried out by the Syrian-Hungarian joint mission, it included drawings, fractures pottery and archaeological finds resulting from the works using the latest modern devices and technologies. Hassan explained that, based on the importance of scientific research in the field of knowledge of the historical stages of the Syrian coasts, a joint Syrian-Russian mission was formed to search for archaeological remains and underwater sites in the waters of the Tartus city and Arwad Island, which began its work during this year. He pointed out that the mission conducted full search according to specific segments in the vicinity of Arwad Island and opposite Amrit Beach, using advanced surveying devices. Some points were identified according to the data, which need to be studied and audited in the next stage during the year 2020.
JAPON – Kyoto - No fancy machines here, just a lot of hard work. But this brewery still produced sake, and it's believed to be the oldest ever found in Japan. Excavation firm Kokusai Bunkazai Co. unearthed the brewery believed to be from the 15th century at the Saga archaeological site, formerly on the grounds of Tenryuji temple, in Kyoto's Ukyo Ward. Among the finds are a facility for squeezing the unrefined sake out and about 180 holes for holding storage jars. The brewery is believed to have been used until the time of the Onin War (1467-1477). The previously oldest-known brewery found in Itami, Hyogo Prefecture, is estimated to have been built in the Edo Period (1603-1867). During the research, part of a sake squeezing facility believed to be from the 15th century was unearthed. Researchers said unrefined sake in cloth bags was placed in a tank and squeezed out, using a wooden bar with stones as leverage. A pillar 1 meter long and 45 centimeters across, as well as two crosspieces to support it, each 15 cm per side and 1.8 meters long, were discovered along with about 20 stones that would have been placed on the crosspieces. A hollow 1.8 meters across and 1 meter deep for a pot to receive drops of pressed sake was also found. A smaller pillar from around the 14th century, 30 cm across and 40 cm long, was spotted two meters east of the hollow. Researchers said it is likely that the brewery was rebuilt. The 180 holes for jars that stored sake are 60 cm across and 20 cm deep. Fragments of 14th-century Bizen ware jars, apparently with a diameter of 60 cm and a height of 1 meter, were unearthed as well.