Archaeological news about the Archaeology of Later Medieval Europe from the Archaeology in Europe web site

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Scientists uncover secrets of 12 Christian relics in Paris

Alexandre Gérard examines one of the apostle statues. Photo: AFP

Scientists in Paris are cracking the mystery of the 12 apostle statues that sat atop the Gothic marvel of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris for five centuries.

Having lost their heads, been pulled from their plinths, smashed and even buried, things are at last looking up for some of the unluckiest statues in Christendom.
   
For five centuries the 12 apostles looked down on the adoring hordes who marvelled at the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, arguably the greatest Gothic edifice ever build.
   
Standing between its spectacular stained glass windows -- one of the wonders of the medieval world -- they could have been forgiven for feeling smug having survived the Reformation without a scratch.
   
But the statues were caught in the whirlwind of not just one French revolution but two, and since then history has been less than kind.

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Saturday, 5 August 2017

'Monumental' 16th century city walls unearthed by Antwerp tram work

Belgian archaeologists inspect a 16th century fortification unearthed after tram works in Antwerp, Belgium 
[Credit: Christopher Stern, Reuters]

Archaeologists in Antwerp have spent the last two weeks excavating parts of a six-metre-high (20-foot) fortified wall that was built around the Belgian city 500 years ago.

The ruins were exposed during preparations for a massive infrastructure project on a major boulevard, including tunnels and a new tram line. 

"When we compare to other cities, it was really a monumental and impressive masterpiece already at that time, and still," archaeologist Femke Martens told Reuters, while standing between two unearthed pillars of what was a bridge to the Red Gate.

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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Archaeology: More than 80 mediaeval tombs found at Bulgaria’s Perperikon


Professor Nikolai Ovcharov’s archaeological team working at the ancient sacred site of Perperikon in Bulgaria has discovered more than 80 tombs in a necropolis estimated to date from the 12th to the 14th centuries CE.
The number of tombs found, in the southern section of Perperikon, is expected to increase to more than 100, an announcement about the July 2017 find said.
Ovcharov said that in 2016, his archaeological dig team had uncovered 37 tombs, containing what he described as some very interesting finds, including earrings, other jewellery and beautiful ornaments.
Referring to the new finds, Ovcharov said: “At this stage we have not opened the graves, this year we decided to photograph the necropolis in its entirety, and later, in August, we shall open them and see what their contents are”.

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Mittelalterliches Gehöft in Velen-Ramsdorf freigelegt


In Velen-Ramsdorf (Kreis Borken) haben Archäologen des Landschaftsverbandes Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) bei Ausgrabungen im Vorfeld von Bauarbeiten Reste von Häusern aus dem Mittelalter entdeckt. Auf einer Fläche von 1.500 Quadratmetern standen auf dem geplanten Neubaugebiet einst drei Holzbauten, die zu einem bäuerlichen Gehöft gehörten.

Nachdem der Oberboden mit einem Bagger abgetragen wurde zeichneten sich die ehemaligen Pfosten der Häuser als dunkle Verfärbungen im Boden ab. So konnten die LWL-Archäologen die Grundrisse rekonstruieren. Das größte Haus war 22,5 Meter lang.

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Sunday, 30 July 2017

Medieval men were diagnosed with infertility and prescribed treatments

Some medieval medical books had unusual advice to help improve men’s fertility. 
Credit: University of Exeter

Men could be held responsible for the failure to produce children as far back as medieval times, a new study of medical and religious texts has shown.

The analysis of popular medical and religious books by the University of Exeter shows that from the 13th century, widely-circulated medical texts recognised the possibility of male infertility, including sterility and 'unsuitable seed'.

A urine test to determine if a husband or a wife was to blame for the absence of children in a marriage was even devised, and medical recipes drawn up as a treatment for men.

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Copper-covered baby-&-adult mummies unearthed in Russia’s Far North

A perfectly-preserved mummy of an adult bound in copper plates from head to toe has been dug up in Russia’s Far North, alongside the mummy of a “tiny” baby. The discoveries could shed unique light on medieval burial and medical practices.

The remains were found near Zeleny Yar archeological site in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region, which was discovered in 1997, and has since been the source of dozens of rare finds.

The two preserved mummies were wrapped in birch bark and thick fabric. The adult, of a height of about 170cm (5ft 6in), was covered in copper plates from head to toe, while the baby, under a year old at the time of death, was “sprinkled” with small fragments of a copper cauldron, said Gusev.
The mummies have been sent to the Institute of the Development of the North, in Tyumen, 500km south from Zeleny Yar.
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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Medieval brewery used by monks discovered by archaeologists on the outskirts of Lincoln

The malt kiln of what archaeologists think was a medieval brewery

A medieval brewery has been discovered by archaeologists along the route of Lincoln Eastern Bypass.

Network Archaeology Ltd, the company working on the site to provide new insights into the past, has teamed up with Lincolnshire Live to reveal more about the incredible artefacts - which include 150 Saxon skeletons.

Here, Dr Richard Moore and director Christopher Taylor continue their Find of the Week series with an ale and hearty story...

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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

rchaeologists discovered the ruins of the 13th-century Teutonic Castle in Unisław


Archaeologists from Nicolaus Copernicus University found the ruins of the 13th-century Teutonic castle in Unisław near Toruń. The castle was built on a slope above the Vistula River valley.

Until now, this was the least well known medieval castle in Chełmno land. The research is conducted under the grant of the National Programme for the Development of Humanities "Castra Terrae Culmensis - on the edge of the Christian world". Over the three years of its course, researchers will conduct interdisciplinary studies of five Teutonic castles. Even before the beginning of earthworks in Unisław, in early April 2017 they conducted non-invasive surveys in castles in Lipienek, Zamek Bierzgłowski, Unisław and Starogród. Work in the fifth castle in Papowo Biskupie has not started yet.

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Friday, 5 May 2017

Holy chickens: Did Medieval religious rules drive domestic chicken evolution?

A baby chick. Could Medieval religious rules have increased the demand for poultry and thereby altered chicken evolution?
Credit: © Anatolii / Fotolia

Chickens were domesticated from Asian jungle fowl around 6000 years ago. Since domestication they have acquired a number of traits that are valuable to humans, including those concerning appearance, reduced aggression and faster egg-laying, although it is not known when and why these traits evolved.

Now, an international team of scientists has combined DNA data from archaeological chicken bones with statistical modeling to pinpoint when these traits started to increase in frequency in Europe.

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Friday, 7 April 2017

Crusader Wreck Tells Tale Of Crusader Holy Land Conquest

Christian knights and Mameluke warriors were fighting on the walls. Now the wreck of a 13th century ship reveals the desperate bid to save the Holy Land.


A Crusader-era book illumination showing a Christian ship at sea. A wreck near the port of Acre dates from the fall of that city — and the last hours of the Crusader state [Credit: WikiCommons]

The port of the city of Acre was a vital lifeline for Crusader knights and settlers alike. Through it streamed European pilgrims, horses, fighting men and manufacturing goods, all vital to sustain Christianity’s tenuous hold in what would later become Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Israel.

In return, ships carried precious cargoes of sugar, spice and exotic textiles. But, in 1291, it all came crashing down.

The Egyptian Mameluke Sultan Al-Ashraf Khalil — leading an army of 100,000 men and horses — rolled back the Christian defences, weakened by almost two centuries of fighting to maintain control over the Holy Land.

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Monday, 3 April 2017

Rare ‘Coffin Birth' Found At Black Death Burial Site In Northern Italy


Researchers investigating a 14th century burial ground have identified a rare case of "coffin birth" - a gruesome phenomenon in which a deceased pregnant woman's fetus is expelled within the grave.


The remains of a mother and fetus were buried alongside those of two other children in the early days of the  Black Death in Italy, however researchers cannot say for certain that they died of the plague 
[Credit: Fabrizio Benente (Universita di Genova – DAFIST)]

The event, which has seldom been reported in archaeology, is known as postmortem fetal extrusion. It results from a build-up of gas pressure within the decomposing body.

"In this case, we have a partial expulsion of a 38- to 40-week-old fetus, which was found to be complete and to lie within the birth canal," Deneb Cesana, at the University of Genova, told Seeker.

The remains of the woman and her unborn baby were originally uncovered in 2006, interred with two other young individuals that scientists say were aged 12 and three years old. Only recently has the discovery been fully investigated.

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Medieval villagers mutilated the dead to stop them rising, study finds

The Wharram Percy excavation area as it looks today. 
Photograph: Pete Horne/Historic England/PA

A study by archaeologists has revealed certain people in medieval Yorkshire were so afraid of the dead they chopped, smashed and burned their skeletons to make sure they stayed in their graves.

The research published by Historic England and the University of Southampton may represent the first scientific evidence in England of attempts to prevent the dead from walking and harming the living – still common in folklore in many parts of the world.

The archaeologists who studied a collection of human bones – including the remains of adults, teenagers and children excavated more than half a century ago, and dated back to the period between the 11th and 14th century – rejected gruesome possibilities including cannibalism in times of famine, or the massacre of outsiders. The cut marks were in the wrong place for butchery, and isotope analysis of the teeth showed that the people came from the same area as the villagers of Wharram Percy in North Yorkshire – a once flourishing village which had been completely deserted by the early 16th century.

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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

New Technology Reveals Lost Townscape Of Sixteenth Century Edinburgh

The lost townscape of sixteenth-century Edinburgh has been brought back to life by researchers at the University of St Andrews.


Digital reconstruction of Edinburgh [Credit: University of St Andrews]

The new digital reconstruction is the first to be created of the period, and is based on a drawing from 1544, thought to be the earliest accurate depiction of the capital.

The virtual time travel technology – which will be released as an app in May – provides a unique window into the capital around the time of the birth of Mary Queen of Scots.

The technology is the result of a collaboration between St Andrews historians, art historians, computer scientists and University spinout company Smart History. The result is an interactive tour of the capital as it appeared in 1544, just before the city was sacked and burned by an English army led by Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford.

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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Archaeological dig off Nayland Road reveals Medieval pottery industry in north Colchester


ARCHAEOLOGICAL excavations have revealed a busy Medieval pottery operation existed in north Colchester.
Excavation work is taking place on fields off Nayland Road, Colchester, where developer Mersea Homes is due to build hundreds of homes.
As a condition of the planning permission from Colchester Council, the developer was asked to commission the excavation.
It has been taking place on a slice of land measuring about 150 by 50 metres over the past six weeks by the Colchester Archaeological Trust.
The team has been painstakingly using hand tools to uncover a rare pottery kiln dating back to the 15th century and pottery which would have been discarded if it was not deemed up to standard.

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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Exhibition reveals hidden history of Colosseum after the fall of Rome, from medieval fortresses to slaughterhouses

An artist's impression of the timber walkway used by soldiers guarding the medieval fortress that was built into the side of the Colosseum CREDIT: COLOSSEUM EXHIBITION

Archaeologists in Rome have discovered the remains of a timber walkway used by soldiers guarding a fortress built into the remains of the Colosseum during the Middle Ages.
Gladiatorial contests and other spectacles held in the massive amphitheatre ground to a halt by the sixth century AD with the collapse of the Roman Empire and the arena was gradually appropriated for other uses in succeeding centuries. 
By the 12th century a powerful baronial family, the Frangipane, had commandeered the Colosseum and built a formidable fortress into its southern flank. The walkway was built on the top tier of the amphitheatre, enabling the clan’s soldiers to watch out for enemy forces.  The Frangipane were at war with another family of Roman nobles, the Annibaldi.
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Not in the Motte


Clifford's Tower in York is recognised around the world as one of Yorkshire's truly iconic landmarks.  It is an enormously important monument, steeped in 750 years of history. But on 27th October 2016 the City of York Council planning committee gave approval for the English Heritage visitor centre plans, including a concrete and glass building incorporating a souvenir shop, coffee bar and viewing area, which will be embedded in the base of the mound itself. Thousands of York residents, and people from around Britain and the world object to these plans and believe that this is a huge mistake.  It is felt that it would be an offensively commercial addition to this much loved landmark. 

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Thursday, 23 February 2017

Medieval graffiti survey underway in Bolton to uncover different marks used to ward of evil spirit


MEDIEVAL markings to ward off evil spirits and bad omens are being uncovered in Bolton’s historic buildings to form part of a national survey.
Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society is co-ordinating the Medieval Graffiti Survey locally to record the variety of marks that can be found on buildings to give an insight into past superstitions and fears — and the society wants to hear from anyone who knows of a building locally with elements that pre-date 1700.
The Bolton survey got under way this week, with members of the society enjoying a tour of Hall i’th’ Wood, including rooms which are normally shut off to the public, where they saw witch markings, including daisy wheels, the VV sign, symbolising Virgin Virgins, and taper burns.
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Mystery over male Black Death victims found buried hand in hand

A skeleton unearthed during the Crossrail excavations at Liverpool Street on display at the Museum of London Docklands. Photograph: AFP/Getty

The skeletons of two men who were buried apparently hand in hand during an outbreak of the Black Death have been excavated from a plague burial ground in London.

The men, believed to have been in their 40s, were buried in the early 15th century in a carefully dug double grave, in identical positions, with heads turned towards the right and the left hand of one man apparently clasping the right hand of the other.

Both are assumed to have died in one of the bubonic plague epidemics that swept the capital in the years after the most famous outbreak in 1348, which is estimated to have killed more than half London’s population.

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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Pottery clues to medieval Nottingham's growth industry


Behind the white fencing at the back of Pryzm nightclub, archaeologists are unearthing clues that may help illuminate the story of medieval Nottingham.
And they may one day be able to state that a monument to one of the city's creative industries of the future was built on the foundations Nottingham's creative industry of the past.
Long before pharmaceuticals and cigarettes, bicycles and lace, Nottingham was renowned as a centre for pottery. And not just in England, for the town's distinctive green glazed crockery was exported around Europe.
Items of pottery, glass and roof tiles – and what looks like the remains of a brick kiln - have now been discovered by archaeologists ahead of the redevelopment of the Convent Street site as a digital learning centre the Nottingham Trent University and Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies.
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Sunday, 29 January 2017

Fossilized tree and ice cores help date huge volcanic eruption 1,000 years ago to within three months


An international team of researchers has managed to pinpoint, to within three months, a medieval volcanic eruption in east Asia the precise date of which has puzzled historians for decades. They have also shown that the so-called "Millennium eruption" of Changbaishan volcano, one of the largest in history, cannot have brought about the downfall of an important 10th century kingdom, as was previously thought.
Writing in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews the team describes how new analysis of the partly fossilised remains of a tree killed by the eruption, and ice cores drilled in Greenland, lead them to conclude the eruption occurred in the final months of 946 AD.
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L’INRAP FOUILLE AU MONT-SAINT-MICHEL


En 2005, une équipe de l’Inrap avait mis au jour de nombreux moules en schiste destinés à la fabrication d’enseignes de pèlerinage, à l’emplacement d’un atelier de production daté des XIVe-XVe siècles, près de l’entrée de l’abbaye. La variété et la qualité de ces pièces en font aujourd’hui une collection de référence en archéologie médiévale.
En 2011, les archéologues ont révélé les vestiges d’une tour des fortifications, la tour Denis, ouvrage édifié vers 1479 et détruit en 1732.
En 2015, d’anciennes maisons, donnant sur la grève et détruites en 1368, ont été étudiées.

Dans l’abbaye, l’Inrap a suivi plusieurs chantiers de restauration conduits par l’architecte en chef des Monuments historiques dont les opérations importantes menées sur la Merveille, sur l’ancienne Hôtellerie de Robert de Torigny et sur les Logis abbatiaux.
Aujourd’hui, la recherche des fortifications et de la porte du XIIIe siècle a permis la découverte, inattendue, du cimetière paroissial.

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