Tutankhamun’s Burial Mask : Wiki CommonsIn recent years, DNA analysis has shed light on the parents of Egypt’s most famous pharaoh, the boy king Tutankhamun, known to the world as King Tut. Genetic investigation identified his father as Akhenaten and his mother as Akhenaten’s sister, whose name was unknown.
French Egyptologist Marc Gabolde offered a different interpretation of the DNA evidence on Thursday. Speaking at Harvard’s Science Center, Gabolde said he’s convinced that Tut’s mother was not his father’s sister, but rather his father’s first cousin, Nefertiti.
Nefertiti was already known to be Akhenaten’s wife and in fact the two had six daughters. Gabolde believes they also had a son, Tutankhamun, and that the apparent genetic closeness revealed in the DNA tests was not a result of a single brother-to-sister mating, but rather due to three successive generations of marriage between first cousins.
“The consequence of that is that the DNA of the third generation between cousins looks like the DNA between a brother and sister,” said Gabolde, the director of the archaeological expedition of Université Paul Valery-Montpellier III in the Royal Necropolis at el-Amarna. “I believe that Tutankhamun is the son of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, but that Akhenaten and Nefertiti were cousins.”
Gabolde’s talk, “Unknown Aspects of Tutankhamun’s Reign, Parentage, and Tomb Treasure,” was sponsored by Harvard’s Semitic Museum and the Harvard Department of Anthropology. It was hosted by Peter Der Manuelian, the Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology.
Tutankhamun was a pharaoh some 3,300 years ago. He was made pharaoh at age 8 or 9 and ruled for about 10 years. In his talk, Gabolde covered some of the scarce known details of his life and his burial.
Tut’s tomb, Gabolde said, was not intended as such. The real — and undiscovered — tomb, he said, was probably under construction when he died at 19, and is likely somewhere in the Valley of Kings, on the Nile. The place where he was actually buried was probably not intended for a royal burial but hurriedly prepared when Tut died unexpectedly, most likely of an infection that took hold when he broke his leg.
“Nobody could imagine he would die so young,” Gabolde said.
Other details of Tut’s life, which Gabolde has pieced together from carved images and inscriptions, include a military campaign in Syria, in which he likely didn’t personally take part. Tut also was interested in Nubia, a region in southern Egypt and northern Sudan. Inscriptions on a fan that belonged to Tut showed him hunting ostriches, whose feathers were used to make the fan. In addition, Gabolde said, a staff found in Tut’s tomb had inscriptions that showed it was made of a tall reed, cut by Tut himself in a city on the Nile delta.
Gabolde also traced an ornament that was found with Tut when he was discovered in 1922, but had since disappeared. Gabolde said he believes the golden hawk-head clasp, part of a broad collar worn by Tut, is in a private collection, sold by Tut discoverer Howard Carter to pay for surgery later in his life. The rest of the broad collar was stolen during World War II, Gabolde said.Contributing Source : Harvard University HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology press Releases
Paranthropus - Wiki CommonsOne very intriguing question in our understanding of hominin evolution is the relationship between two groups of species.
Most palaeoanthropologists consider the robust australopithecines to be an offshoot of the gracile australopithecines and most are in agreement that the former deserve a separate genus – Paranthropus. This is currently up for debate because we now realise that there could be more to hominin evolution on the African continent than the fossil record is leading us to believe.
Palaeoanthropologists have focused primarily upon the structure of primarily the skulls that have been attributed to the paranthropines. The robust nature of these has provided such a draw to researchers, but today science has diversified and there is more communication taking place between disciplines leading to a more round understanding of these intriguing creatures. One of the latest papers on the paranthropines, investigates the diet of early Homo and Paranthropus.Robust Australopithecines (Also known as Paranthropus)
P. robustusGracile Australopithecines (Also known as Australopithecus)
The remaining part of this article will now look at our understanding of other species that lived contemporaneously with the paranthropines, focusing upon the results of a paper published in 2012.
Homo was understood to be a hominin who availed of multiple resources from meat to vegetation and by extension led one of the most successful genera in the planets history. On the other hand Paranthropus was a specialist in the consumption of vegetation and went the way of the gradual extinction route. This was the understanding but more methods of getting the evidence necessary to support such a claim has open the door on other possibilities.
Laser ablation analysis can help us understand the diet of an individual in the context of the changing environment in which it lives. This is rather important and moves away from the comparison between specimens. If we understand the environment of Specimen T, for example and if we find the other specimens with a similar environment, then we can attempt to compare individuals. The paper sets out to try and see habitat changes through the teeth of a sample of specimens.
Early Homo, Australopithecines, Paranthropines and early cattle (both Browsers and Grazers) were compared using laser ablation of the ratios of strontium to strontium, strontium to calcium and barium to calcium isotopes. Isotopes are atoms of the same element with different mass numbers due to the differing number of neutrons in the nucleus. Low Barium: Calcium ratios are generally present in carnivores, while high Strontium or Barium: Calcium ratios are present in grazers. Strontium is picked up by the grazer and the grazer could become prey to the carnivore leaving traces in the teeth for the laser ablation to detect.
The species A. africanus had a diet which comprised meat, tree leaves and fruit and could have been eaten on a seasonal scale. This gives some support to the Resource Fallback hypothesis suggesting that hominins ate more common less nutritious foods as more preferred foods became rare. In the case of A. africanus it is not possible to tell of they fell back upon meat or woody plants.
P. robustus had a diet focused upon woody plant materials lacking the diversity of A. africanus, evident from the indistinguishable nature of the various ratios of this species and browsing cattle contemporaneous with these hominins.
Early Homo relied heavily upon meat resources when compared to the above species.
The team point out that Australopithecus sediba needs to be tested using laser ablation.
What makes the scientific discipline of Palaeoanthropology so fascinating is the many competing hypotheses that are proposed. The evidence from the fossils are going some way to helping us understand the environmental change that took place around 2 million years ago (Ma). This is what makes it one of the freshest of the sciences. Viva Palaeoanthropology!
If your interest has been sparked, then check out the paper, which was published in the journal Nature.HeritageDaily : Palaeoanthropology : Palaeoanthropology Press Releases
Drawing of the foundation showing the bricks of the oven construction and the drainage from the stove. Drawing by maritime archaeologist Wallbom, Björn, Sweden.How long inns along the coastlines of Scandinavia and around the Baltic have existed is very difficult to say; however, the first written records we have about them in Sweden come from Olaus Magnus, in his accounts about the Nordic people in the 1550s.
Olaus’ own references regarding this kind of establishment date back to 13th-century Germany. According to him, the first of these kinds of inns were built on the ice, and were in use until the ice broke in the spring. After some time, inns were built on the shore instead of on the ice, and could be used all year round.
Very little research has been done in Sweden and Finland on this kind of establishment, even though some essays in the field have been written in archaeology at Stockholm and Södertörns universities, Sweden. The essays have a different kind of focus, such as the inns’ geographical locations, what kind of food and beverages were served, and the research potential for the inns. This article will try to highlight the legacy and heritage that can be found at such inns when it come to the 18th century cuisine in Sweden, the inn at Koffsan stands as the example.Koffsan
Koffsan is a small island in Lake Mälaren, in the parish of Järfälla, in Sweden. During the 17th and 18th centuries, a tavern or inn was located on the island. The Swedish botanist Carl Linneus ( later known as Carl von Linné) visited the island on midsummer’s night in 1731. With him were 20 students from Uppsala, they went on a sailing ship transporting mail between the cities of Uppsala and Stockholm, however when they reached Stäket the wind slacken and the captain order everyone to go onshore when the finally reached the inn. While the students congregated at the tavern and started to drink beer and fall asleep, Linné himself explored the surroundings, and wrote his first flora on the island. All that remains of the building today is part of the foundations.The site and its location
The site was excavated in 1993, and the reason for the excavation was that a major water company in Sweden was going to build a new bridge that was going to cross the remains of the tavern and destroy it. The excavation was therefore a rescue operation. The results of the excavation are a very good source for finding out what was served, regarding food and drink, to the guests during the 18th century, even if no excavation was carried out underwater. If one combine the archaeological material with written sources from the period, one can also find out how the food and drink was prepared, and sometimes even what it tasted like. Thanks to the excavation, the site is the only tavern that has been excavated in Sweden to date.
The location of the tavern was very close to the water, which was common during the 18th century. Foundations of comparable buildings may be seen along the coast and lake shores all over Sweden. The only part of the tavern foundations that were visible before the excavation was part of a wall with measurements of ten by ten metres, and a height of approximately 0.4 metres. Slowly, the construction of the foundations emerged. The measurements were between nine by 5.5 metres, and the stove was 2.4 by 2.55 metres. The stove also included an oven. The foundations were made out of stone, bricks and a kind of mortar. After the foundations were completely exposed, they measured 15 by five metres.
During early modern times, visitors to the establishment came by boat, either in small private ones or on larger boats that ran between Stockholm and Uppsala. The boats left Stockholm and Uppsala at similar times, but only made the trip on Mondays, Wednesdays and
Fridays. During the period April to August, the departure time was 4 am; during the period September to October it departed at 6 am; and during November, at 7 am. During the remaining winter months, there was no traffic on the route. Unfortunately, there is no information on how long the trip between Stockholm and Uppsala took with these ships.
During the 18th century, Järfälla parish was a wealthy community with a large harvest of different kinds of crops, and the most important manor in the parish was located not far from the establishment. When one study old maps from the 18th century, one find that the manor had its own gardens, with various fruits, herbs, hops and a brewery. The accounts from the manor indicate that products from the different gardens were sold in Stockholm.
It is very likely that the owner of the establishment on Koffsan also bought products from the manor to use for cooking, or seasoning schnapps, and so forth. Very close to Koffsan, several mills can be found on old maps, so it is also likely that the owner could buy newly ground flour in the neighbourhood.The findings
Here I will concentrate on the archaeological material that can be linked to food and beverages from the site. During the excavation of the site, many pieces of glass, ceramics, porcelain, coins and animal bones were found. Most of the bone material was discovered in the stove.
There were no whole bottles found, but there was quite a large amount of pieces of bottles, comprising mainly necks and bottles. These pieces are different in size, colour and quality.
Many of the pieces of glass came from the windows of the tavern, and show that the glass in the windows was green and yellow. The pottery from the site is domestic ceramic production,
and is of high quality, with a range of colours, reflecting a great deal of imagination on the part of the potters. There was an increase in the production of ceramics and tiles in Sweden during the 18th century, when the most popular items were plates in different styles and shapes. Potsherds from coffee cups made of tin-glazed earthenware from the Swedish Rörstrand company were also among the findings. Other shards of porcelain came from the Swedish Marieberg and Gustavberg companies. Swedish porcelain and tin-glazed earthenware companies faced tough competition from porcelain imported from China. The imported porcelain was of a much higher quality than the domestic kind. Shards of Chinese porcelain were also found at the site during the excavation.English name Latin name No Beef /veal Bos taraus 15 Rabbit/hare Oryctolagus cuniculus 4 Sheep/goat Ovis/Capra 15 Pig Sus scorfa 23 Ringed seal Phoca hispida botnica 1 Perch Perca Fluviatilis 2 Pike-perch Lucioperca lucioperca 2 Species of carp Cyprinidae Sp 1 Duck Anser sp. 1 Hen Gallus sp. 2
Table 1 Animalbones found in the stove during the excavation of the inn on Koffsan. The osteologgical analyze of the bones was made in 1999 by osteologist Jonsson, Gustav, Sweden.
A variety of animal bones was found at the site, although pig was most common. This was followed by beef, veal, sheep/goat, rabbit/hare, hen, perch, pikeperch, different species of carp, ringed seal and duck.
The parts from the pigs, cattle, sheep/goats are the cuts that would have had the most meat on them. One reason why there appear to have been so few species of fish from the location may be that the types with more fat in them decomposed over the years. It is very common on archaeological sites that fattier species vanish from the archaeological record, especially fish containing small bones. The occurrence of ringed seal is rather surprising, because it is a species of seal without outer ears which lives in arctic and sub-arctic waters, the Baltic Sea, Lake Ladoga and Lake Saima. The ringed seal has never lived in Lake Mälaren, since it needs saltier waters. During the summer and autumn, the ringed seal is hunted using rifles, while in the winter clubs are used.
The fishes was used for broth, soups, stews and sausages but also for dishes such as fried, boiled and baked, minced fish was for example seasoned with pepper, salt, nutmeg and egg, shaped into quenelles and then boiled. Thick butter sauce, caper sauce, different kind of brown sauces and sprat sauces was served to the different kind of fish dishes. I have not found any recipe for the ringed seal but there is no doubt that it was served at the site.
The meat beef and veal was often salted, but not only, a warm beef salad could be done with thin slices of meat along with carrots, beet root and onion. Patés for example was made from the meat of beef and was also used to make quenelles, different kind of beef stews with different kind of root vegetables. The tongue itself was boiled, sliced and eaten with apples. The meat was also used for ragout, brawns and sausages; sweetbread was baked and held in high regard.
Sheep’s, goats and lambs was also often salted but equal to the meat of beef not only, the tongues for example was boiled and sliced before eaten and the lungs were used to make a dish called “smashed lungs”. Roasts from the animals was prepared so it tasted like deer, the meat was then seasoned with vinegar and juniper bay leaf. It was also used to make fricassee, broth and different kind of ragout. The meat from both beef and sheep’s and lambs was prepared over the open fire on spits. Mustard, caper, cherry and olive sauce was served with pleasure to the meat dishes.
Equal to the other meat the meat from pigs was also salted but also dried, boiled, fried and smoked. Pork brawn was made from the animals head. If one had an old animal and the meat was not good for anything else collared brawn was made. Small pigs and sucking pigs were usually fried over an open fire filled with a stuffing made of sage, soft bread and prunes. Pork was also used to prepare sausages, one sued equal amount of pork and beef meat and the mixture was seasoned with salt, pepper, ginger, clove and a really good beer.Carl von Linnés flora
From Carl von Linné’s first flora Flora Koffesiensis (1732) and notes from the location gives a good insight in the botanical material at the site. Linné listed 88 different species on the island. Among these 88 species, there are 18 that are suitable for use in preparing food and drink. Out of the 18 species, nine are also medicinal herbs, which were also suitable for the proprietor (she was a woman, but her name is unknown) of the establishment to use in preparing hernown schnapps.
This schnapps could also be seasoned with berries, like hawthorn and wild strawberries. She could make pies out of strawberries or seasoned water,and then the water could be used to flavour other food dishes. She could make jam out of the strawberries, along with berries like redcurrants and gooseberries, and these berries would also have been very good for making wine or juice. Another possibility for these kinds of berries is that the owner stirred some sugar into them and served them as a dessert or as condiments with a main course, mainly meat dishes. Dandelion could be prepared and served as a vegetable, or it could be made into wine. If the roots were dried and ground, it made good flour to use in cooking meals. Dandelion is rich in vitamin C and several minerals.
Another plant rich in vitamin A and C, potassium, calcium and iron is the stinging nettle. Leaves from the young stinging nettle could be used as a vegetable, served as a soup, or made into tea. Bird cherry could be used to make juice, liquor and seasoned schnapps.
Vegetables was also served in its own rights, this was before the time of the potato in the country so different kind of root vegetables and pot-herbs played an important part of the cuisine, one example is a vegetable soup made from carrots, parsley, root vegetables, leeks, fresh spinach, broth from vegetables, green peas, butter, soft bread, cream eggs and egg yolk.
I would like to mention some of the deserts and cakes that were in use and easily could have been made at the inn on Koffsan such as apple tart, pears in syrup and carrot cake. As and endnote I would like to say that I hope that the article shows what results one can reach from even a small but important source material regarding a countries cuisine when it is combined with written sources.Written by Ulrica Söderlind HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
La Tene horse armour: Wiki Commons ImageIn the framework document for consultation 2013: ‘The National Curriculum in England,’ produced by the Department for Education, worryingly, prehistory has been afforded a cursory mention amongst a rather impressive coverage of history from the Romano-British period to the 20th Century.
In fact at in all Key Stages for history, tens of thousands of years of human prehistory and development has been condensed into one line – the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages. At Key Stage 3 prehistory has been completely forgotten.
The consultation, available as a Pdf (www.media.education.Britain.gov.uk) also recommends that at Key Stage 2 – History, pupils are taught ‘Celtic culture and patterns of settlement’. Since the Iron Age has already been covered (as above), I am not sure what is meant by ‘Celtic culture’ and concerned that the content relates to early medieval ‘Celtic Christianity’ including the early medieval Irish historical texts, and the 19th century resurgence of ‘Insular Art’ and romanticised ‘Celtic’ mythology, and not to the actual archaeological evidence relating to a cultural group. The debate as to whether we should assign La Tene art as an ethnic indicator, since it is the art style which has been used in the past to create a ‘Celtic’ identity or origin, is, it seems, still contentious. I would like to think that the ongoing research and hypotheses regarding Iron Age Europe and Britain as varied and diverse will be included in this topic and that lessons refrain from claiming that parts of Britain have a ‘Celtic’ heritage based on mythology.
La Tène art has been described as the “great unifying element of the Celtic world” (Green 1994, 30). Megaw (1995) defines ‘Celtic’ art as: “… the tangible evidence for a continuity of cultural tradition during the last five centuries BC and into the early historic era” and discuss La Tène and ‘Celtic’ art as one (Megaw & Megaw 1995, 346). Was the study of La Tene art the origin of the belief that the ‘Celts’ were an ethnic group, and what is meant by ethnicity and identity in archaeology? Emphasis has been placed on migration theories relating to the ethnicity of the ‘Celts’, thus the origin, changing styles and regional diversity of La Tène art was used to highlight the movement (migration from homeland) and settlement of a group, their ideas and influence. How can an art style have been associated with the idea of a ‘homeland’ or an ethnicity?The Meaning of Ethnicity and Identity
Ethnicity is socially constructed and is defined by a set of shared cultural indicators, common language or descent of a group of people. An ethnic group may express themselves differently from others they perceive as culturally different, or an idea of ethnicity may be assigned to that group due to their culturally different attributes (Jones 1997, xiii). In archaeology the term culture replaced the former terms of ‘civilization’ and ‘nation’ as it was thought to have been less politically loaded. ‘Culture’ became widely used to describe the character of human groups. In the quest to understand past peoples, Diaz-Andreu suggests that there is still a political or ethnocentric undertone to the use of the phrase ‘culture group’ in archaeology (Diaz-Andreu 1996, 51-7).The Evidence for the origin of the ‘Celts’ as an ‘Ethnic Group’
It was the classical Greek and Roman writers who first identified the existence of the ‘Celts’ as an ethnic group living in Northern Europe from the sixth century BC – any group not Greek or North Mediterranean. The classical sources refer to a period predating La Tène ‘culture’, suggesting that the ‘Celts’ were seen as having a recognised ethnic identity before the appearance of their distinctive art (Harding 2007, 3). However, the classical authors were vague on the geographical existence of a people they named ‘Keltoi’, and there is considerable regional variation in the archaeological evidence (Megaw & Megaw 1995, 346).
The classical writer, Livy, documented the expansion of the ‘Celts’ into northern Italy and eastwards into Hungary and beyond (Cunliffe 1997, 68-9). Excavations of cemeteries in Slovakia, eastern Austria and northern Italy revealed artefacts of La Tène style and may have been associated with early ‘Celtic’ migrations of the later fifth and early fourth centuries BC (Megaw & Megaw 1995, 349).
Linguistic studies established that the Indo-European language spoken in the Upper Po Valley, Italy, was closely related to ‘Celtic’ and can be traced back to the 6th century BC (Iron Age) This similarity may have made communication between both sides of the Alps easier (Cunliffe 1997, 70). Attempts have been made to correlate the information in the classical sources with archaeological material and the existence of ‘Celtic’ languages (Harding 2007, 3). Although the map of ‘Celtic’ languages covering Central and Western Europe, northern Italy, Britain and Ireland, cannot be directly correlated to a homogenous ‘Celtic’ material culture. There are some common attributes, but regional variation in material culture suggests “cultural assimilation rather than radical displacement” (Harding 2007, 91).
The archaeological record alone would not have supported the idea of ‘Celtic’ migrations, to regions such as Italy, due to the relatively low volume of type material recovered (Harding 2008, 139). Evidence of ‘Celtic’ migration is more convincing in Eastern Europe as there is more evidence from settlement sites and cemeteries to support the material culture (Harding 2008, 139).
In some regions designated ‘Celtic’ based on linguistic evidence there are relatively few La Tène types, such as southwestern France, asking the question whether a correlation between La Tène Culture and the idea of ‘Celtic’ exists (Harding 2007, 6). An alternative viewpoint is that the ‘Celtic’ languages originated in the Atlantic Zone during the Bronze Age, which represents a major departure from the long-established hypothesis in which the ancient ‘Celtic’ languages and that of the ‘Keltoí’ or ‘Celts’ are bound up with the archaeology of the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures of Iron Age Europe (Koch 2012).La Tene Art – Meme and Diaspora
Diaspora – the dispersion or spread of any people from their original homeland (Oxford English Dictionary)
Meme – an element of a culture or system of behavior passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means (Oxford English Dictionary)
Nineteenth Century studies of the chronology of Iron Age Europe located trade routes between northern Europe and the Mediterranean and identified material from Halstatt and La Tène (Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland) as being distinctive from classical examples. Both Halstatt and La Tène became type-sites and formed the basis of the chronology of pre-Roman Iron Age Europe (Megaw & Megaw 1989, 12-14).
It was in 1944 when Jacobsthal published ‘Early Celtic Art’ that the art of this period became an important indicator of culture/ethnicity. At the time of the La Tène discoveries, it was not even thought possible that ‘European Barbarians’ could have produced such fine metal work and that the artefacts must have been imported from the Mediterranean (Megaw & Megaw 1989, 13).
The origin of ‘Celtic’ art has been traced back to the early Halstatt A and B periods (Green 1994, 19). Some of the earliest La Tene A examples come from elite burials of the fifth century in the Moselle-Marne regions and include the Basse-Yutz flagons. These flagons are the work of a local crafts person, emulating an Etruscan style, whilst at the same time transforming the original to a new ‘native’ style by sharpening the shoulders and introducing a more concave shape. This craft person has also used a coral inlay, a typical decoration of the Halstatt period. A possible oriental influence has been assigned to the inclusion of animals on the flagons, via the classical world rather than through direct contact (Cunliffe 1997, 116).
The earlier phases of artistic development coincide with the collapse of western Halstatt centres, where it can be seen in the archaeological record that political and social power shifted to warrior elites in the Champagne area, Bohemia and Rhineland (Megaw & Megaw 1995, 349). It has been argued that the Halstatt and early La Tène areas of northern Europe were the periphery to and dependent on the Mediterranean core, however the art forms of the La Tène period evolved and spread long after the elite stopped importing objects from the south (Megaw & Megaw 1995, 354). Societal collapse in mid 5th century meant there was a new political geography. This is when the new art form appeared, possibly linked with a period of social upheaval and a shift in power from Rhineland to Marne in Eastern France, which became a centre of excellence in the production of La Tène art objects (Green 1994, p23).
The local ‘Celtic’ artists deliberately chose elements of Mediterranean art, which appealed to them visually or held symbolic meaning to them (Megaw & Megaw 1995, 354). The La Tène style is non-narrative and does not use the human form, making the style so different from classical art, which often portrays procession and ceremony, as well as human imagery. Although there is much regional diversity in the all encompassing La Tène art tradition, there are visible repeated patterns and symbolic motifs; such as an absence of the whole human form but a concentration on the human head, the use of naturalistic animal imagery such as boars, birds and bulls and tripilism, ubiquitous in early La Tene art (Megaw & Megaw 1995, 169-70).
Development and regional variations in art styles can be detected with the movement of the ‘Celts’ (Megaw & Megaw 1995, 349). La Tène art is portable, therefore easy to move with people (Green 1994, 29-30). Simplified lotus buds and palmettes faded out during La Tène B – later 4th Century BC (Megaw & Megaw 1989, 118). The centres of change were the Po Valley, Marne, Switzerland and Hungary, suggesting continued contact between the northern ‘Celts’ and those who emigrated south. The style is called the Vegetal style and incorporates a running tendril and linked lyre palmettes.
The human head and animals became less visible amongst the vegetation (Cunliffe 1997, 118). The type-site for this style was Waldalgesheim in Germany (Green 1994, 26) and the main inspiration came from Italian connections (Megaw & Megaw 1989, 115). Localised versions of the Vegetal style have been found in Western Hungary and Czechoslovakia (Megaw & Megaw 1989, 118). In the third and second centuries ‘Celtic’ Europe could be characterised by mobile, small communities. The surviving artefacts from this period are mainly metalwork such as sword scabbards and personal ornaments. This period of La Tène art is named the Hungarian Sword Style, which incorporated ‘dragon pairs’ (a variant of the S motif) and is widely distributed across Hungary, England, Spain, Romania and Italy (Cunliffe 1997, 122).The Problem with ‘Celtic’ Ethnicity
Material culture (in culture-historic archaeological terms) is assigned to a tribe or ethnic group based on the premise that their religious or cultural norms are prescriptive and any innovative change is slow unless contact with a more creative group introduces change. This is the ‘Diffusionist’ approach; the spread of culture change was initiated by a biologically superior race (Jones 1997, 24-25). This had a far-right political implication and was open to abuse, such as the work of Kossinna and the Nazi Party in the 1930s with their attempts to create a national identity through the material record to justify invasion and ethnic cleansing (Trigger 1996). In the history of archaeology importance has been placed on constructing identities by assigning material culture to past ethnicities and the distribution of material culture to migration and invasion theories (Jones 1997, 1).
The processual and post-processual approaches have since undermined this way of assigning material culture to an ethnic group, and the current focus is placed on interpreting meaning, with a stronger emphasis on socio-political, economic and symbolic themes (Jones 1997, 5-6). Sceptics suggest that interpretations based on material evidence should remain subjective (Shennan 1994, xi) because human cultures are dynamic; it is difficult, therefore, to equate people to static objects (Shennan 1994, xii). A holistic approach has been adopted to interpret the Spanish Iron Age, rather than concentrating on the ‘Celtiberian’ myths or rejecting ethnic entities altogether, archaeologists aim to discuss Iron Age Europe as plural, diverse and multi-cultural (Zapotero 1996, 192).
La Tène techniques, patterns and motifs recur across non-classical Europe (Green 1994, 30). The repeated patterning may be as a result of the control of raw materials or the artists and craftspeople by the elite (Green 1994, 31). Alternatively, the spread may be attributable to travelling artists or ideas, or through complex trading networks, gift exchanges, foreign marriages, pilgrimages, souvenirs, circulation of pattern books, or word of mouth (Green 1994, 34-5). This is evident in the insular ‘Celtic’ art of Britain and Ireland; trade contacts caused the gradual introduction of La Tène style ornamentation into local craft production (Green 1994, 35) such as the Loughnashade bronze horn terminals of Ireland decorated in La Tène curvilinear style; and does not necessarily correlate to the presence of a ‘Celtic’ group in Britain. As discussed previously, La Tene art borrowed motifs and style from the Mediterranean without any proposed theories of invasion or migration to explain the adoption of ‘foreign’ influences.
Identity can be projected to others through style, such as decoration or motifs, and is used to express similarity or difference to another group (Jones 1997, 113) or perhaps simply admiration of another group. La Tène art borrowed palmette and lotus motifs from the classical world and modified and transformed the images to create an individual style (Green 1994, 18). It is possible that the symbols could be a visual language in place of a lack of written communication (Green 1996, 17). “The art of the Celts was not ‘art for art’s sake’” (Megaw & Megaw 1995, 345) as the objects are functional, and the ornamentation may convey symbolic representations of a belief system, economic or social motivations, as well as being influenced by technological advancement and the availability of raw materials (Megaw & Megaw 1995, 345). Today’s archaeologists are aware that any interpretation of the symbolic meaning of art could be seen as emic and may not have had the same meaning to the contemporary society designing and producing the objects (Green 1994, 18), although the motifs and imagery used may be representations of a self-imposed identity or a symbolic expression of a people.
In conclusion, art styles are used to convey cultural identity, rather than ethnic identity (Megaw & Megaw 1995, 346). It is not known whether those who we call the ‘Celts’ were aware of a sense of unity or common identity at a local level; nevertheless it seems that the classical writers have ascribed an identity or ethnicity to people of northern Europe. Renfrew (1996) states: “There is no contradiction in denying the existence of Celtic ethnicity, yet in recognising the importance of ethnicity among those whom we call the Celts” (Renfrew 1996, 132). What is evident is that a group(s) of people across Europe found these ornamented objects aesthetically pleasing and that the universal motifs may have communicated important religious symbolism, perhaps unique to a ‘cultural’ group.
This art form became widespread, but also retained a localised element and regional variation. “The sharing of certain artistic elements does not make all the persons who used them members of the same ethnic group, but it may have allowed the constitution of a larger Celtic ‘grouping’, to which they could belong” (Fitzpatrick 1996, 248). Perhaps further studies in linguistics and genetics will elucidate the origin and proposed migration/invasion of the ‘Celts’, and finally rewrite the scenario in which La Tene art was created by a ‘Celtic’ people and travelled with a ‘Celtic’ people, which is not supported by the archaeological record.Written by : Lisa Bond
Since graduating from the University of Bradford in 2012 with a degree in archaeology, I have been digging as often as I can on various sites in Yorkshire, researching/writing, and volunteering my services on the HER (Historic Environment Record) and walkover field surveys in the Dales (I am also available for more lucrative opportunities!). I avoid specialising in a particular period in prehistory – I tend to write about identity and motivation through material culture. I am also interested in sensory archaeology and experimenting with textiles and colour using ethnographical data. I live on a narrowboat in West Yorkshire – and yes it’s cosy…HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases References:
Cunliffe, B. (1997) The Ancient Celts. London: Penguin Books
Diaz-Andreu, M. (1996) Constructing Identities Through Culture in Cultural Identity and Archaeology by Graves-Brown P, Jones S & Gamble C. (eds) London: Routledge
Fitzpatrick, A.P. (1996) ‘Celtic’ Iron Age Europe: the theoretical basis in Cultural Identity and Archaeology by Graves-Brown P, Jones S & Gamble C. (eds) London: Routledge
Green, M. (1996) Celtic Art. London: Orion
Harding, D.W. (2007) The Archaeology of Celtic Art. London: Routledge
Jones, S. (1997) The Archaeology of Ethnicity – Constructing Identities in the Past and Present. London: Routledge
Koch, J.T (2012) Celtic from the West: Alternative Perspectives from Archaeology, Genetics, Language and Literature (Celtic Studies Publications) Oxbow Books
Megaw, R. & Megaw, V. (1989) Celtic Art from its Beginnings to the Book of Kells. New York: Thames & Hudson
Megaw, R. & Megaw, V. (1995) The Nature and Function of Celtic Art in The Celtic World Green M (ed) London: Routledge
Renfrew, C. (1996) Prehistory and the identity of Europe, or, don’t let’s be beastly to the Hungarians in Cultural Identity and Archaeology by Graves-Brown P, Jones S & Gamble C (eds). London: Routledge
Shennan, S.J. (1994) Archaeological Approaches to Cultural Identity. London: Routledge
Trigger, B. (1996) A History of Archaeological Thought 2nd Ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Zapotero, G.R. (1996) Celts and Iberians in Cultural Identity and Archaeology by Graves-Brown P, Jones S & Gamble C. (eds) London: Routledge
The National Curriculum Consultation. Available from:
Tuthankamen’s famous burial mask, on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Wiki CommonsFollowing the amazing discovery of the Egyptian king’s near-intact tomb by Howard Carter in 1922, Tutankhamun became a household name worldwide. By Robyn Antanovskii
The King Tut phenomenon is firmly entrenched in popular culture, yet how much do we really know about this short-lived pharaoh? Not a great deal, but enough to conclude that his modern-day fame far outweighs his significance in ancient times.
Tutankhamun was born in 1341 BCE into an Egypt ruled by the infamously heretical king Akhenaten. To the rude shock of a society whose very fabric was built upon reverence for a multitude of deities, pharaoh Amenhotep IV (“Amun is satisfied”) in 1347 BCE introduced the concept of worship of one single god – the Aten, or sun-disk – and changed his name to Akhenaten (“living spirit of Aten”). At the time, the cult of the sun god Amun was extremely powerful and the move towards the new god Aten was likely designed as an attempt to reduce the political power of the priests of Amun, at least in part.
Akhenaten’s predilection for religion led him to neglect his military duties, including the empire’s border protection, and during his reign Egypt lost possession of Syria, the Phoenician coast and strategic fortresses at Megiddo and Jerusalem. Akhenaten died in about 1335 BCE and was succeeded briefly by Smenkhkare, of whom we know very little, before Tutankhamun took the throne in 1332 BCE at the tender age of eight.
A DNA analysis of eleven royal mummies (including Tutankhamun’s) conducted by Zahi Hawass in 2010 suggests that Tutankhamun was Akhenaten’s son. However, this claim is rejected by some experts who believe that Tutankhamun’s marriage to Ankhsenamun, the daughter of Akhenaten, was in order to legitimise his claim to the crown. Tutankhamun (“living image of Amun”) and Ankhsenamun (“she lives for Amun”), both around eight years old at the time of their marriage, were born Tutankhaten and Ankhesenpaaten respectively, both changing their names away from honouring Aten to the traditional god Amun.
With the new king ascending the throne at such a young age, it was not Tutankhamun himself but his advisors who set about erasing the cult of the Aten, restoring the worship of Amun and re-expanding Egypt’s borders. Authority lay with the priests of Amun and the powerful General Horemheb, who was pivotal in regaining much of the territory lost under Akhenaten’s rule.
Tutankhamun was pharaoh of Egypt for only ten years, dying unexpectedly in 1323 BCE at the age of nineteen. A large hole found in the back of his skull first prompted theories of assassination, until it was discovered that the hole had been made post-mortem. The cause of death is still the subject of much debate, with possibilities including malaria, complications from a broken leg, an inherited form of epilepsy, or an accident during a hunting expedition or military campaign.
Just as much debate has been stirred about Tutankhamun’s character. Some have painted him as a sickly, inactive king, suffering from a bone disease and a deformed foot. Others have taken scenes from the king’s tomb depicting him engaged in hunting and warfare as evidence of an active warrior king. Tutankhamun’s true character and his cause of death are two mysteries that may never be conclusively solved.
Due to Tutankhamun’s sudden demise, the tomb intended for him was not ready in time for his burial. As a result, he was instead interred in a smaller tomb originally intended for his royal vizier. Similarly, some of the furniture in the tomb had been made not for Tutankhamun but for other members of his family, and even one of his death masks shows a markedly different face and was probably not intended for him.
Though there are those who believe that Tutankhamun was directly responsible for undoing the damage caused by Akhenaten’s reign and that he even led the Egyptian armies in battle, the general consensus (and most of the evidence) refutes this. Tutankhamun was a minor king whose short rule at a young age was dictated by his more powerful seniors, especially Horemheb, who became his successor.
The discovery of the riches of his tomb in 1922 plucked Tutankhamun from 3,000 years of anonymity beneath the sands of Egypt and thrust him into the coveted realm of immortality. His name, so long forgotten, will now be remembered for eternity. Ironically, one of Egypt’s most insignificant rulers has become a global symbol for its ancient civilisation.Written by : Robyn Antanovskii HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases References
Butler, D. 2010. King Tut’s death explained?, Nature 463:7283 (16 February 2010).
Covington, R. 2005. King Tut: The Pharaoh Returns!, Smithsonian (June 2005).
Edwards, I.E.S. 1972. The Tutankhamun Exhibition, Nature 236 (14 April 1972).
Geddes & Grosset. 1997. The Religious Revolt of the Poet King, Ancient Egypt: Myth & History, The Gresham Publishing Company.
Hamzelou, J. 2012. Tutankhamun’s death and the birth of monotheism, New Scientist 215:2881 (8 September 2012).
Hawass, Z. 2011. Mummy Mystery, National Geographic Explorer 10:5 (March 2011).
Marchant, J. 2012. Golden boy: Jo Marchant uncovers a mixed hoard in a history of Tutankhamun and the discovery of his tomb, Nature 483:7387 (1 March 2012).
Raymond, W.R. 2010. Warrior Tut: sculptures from Luxor prove the “Boy King” was the scourge of Egypt’s foes, Archaeology 63:2 (March/April 2010).
Rose, M. 2010. Who’s the ‘real’ Tut? What DNA, CT scans, and archaeology tell us, Archaeology 63:3 (May/June 2010).
Rothstein, E. 2010. Mystique of Tut, increasing with age, The New York Times (23 April 2010).
Scarre, C. & Fagan, B. 2003. Egyptian Civilization, Ancient Civilizations, Prentice Hall.
Tutankhamun, BBC History website.
Image Source : Wiki CommonsThe preservation of immovable historic relics displayed in large open spaces like China’s world-renowned Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses requires air curtains and other modifications to recreate the primitive environment from which archaeologists excavated the relics.
That’s the conclusion of a study of environmental control measures for archaeology museums in the People’s Republic of China. Their study appears in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology.
ZhaoLin Gu and colleagues point out that environmental factors have deteriorated many of the more than 1,500 unearthed relics in China’s Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses, for instance, and in other museums involving large open spaces. The Qin museum covers an area of more than 17,500 square yards, almost three football fields. More than 5 million people visit the museum every year to see the life-size terracotta figures of warriors and horses uncovered in the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang, who was born in 259 B.C. and became the first Emperor of all China.
The study recommends new measures to better preserve such artifacts. One, for instance, involves use of an “air curtain” that would blow across the space to separate the figurines in the Qin Museum from the outside environment. The air curtains would keep pollutants and heat away from the inside of the pits. A layer of cool air would also be used in the bottom of the pits to help form a blanket of stagnant air around the relics for protection from the environment.Contributing Source : American Chemical Society HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
Roman Road at Culver Farm: Image Source CAPDuring early 2011, David Staveley conducted a magnetometer survey in a large field at Bridge Farm, Wellingham, Nr Lewes (TQ43301440)/England on behalf of the Culver Archaeological Project (CAP).
He was looking for the Roman London to Lewes road that Ivan Margary had suggested ran down the east side of the Ouse at this point (Margary 1948, p.150-1). The initial results were so outstanding and unexpected that the survey was extended over the next 2 years as a clear picture of a substantial Roman settlement in a bend of the River Ouse, emerged from the geophysical images.
The location is just across the river from Culver Farm where a Roman road and industrial workings have been discovered just to the north east of the Barcombe villa and bathhouse complex.
The settlement pattern is apparently interrupted by a double ditched enclosure suggesting more than one phase of activity on the site. In the magnetometer images the enclosure appears to overlay the settlement but the chronology was not conclusive and the CAP directors, Rob Wallace and David Millum, agreed that this was one of the main questions to be resolved when planning the subsequent excavations for July and August 2013.
The later surveys revealed radiating roads heading to the north, east and west, with smaller trackways and boundaries indicated by ditches in the area surrounding the main settlement.
The interpretation of the buried features as Roman was supported by the Roman pottery and tile collected by systematic field walking in early 2011.
Then in late 2012 David Cunningham, a local metal detectorist who had collected an assemblage of finds from the site over several years, was introduced to CAP by Robin Hodgkinson of the Independent Historical Research Group.
This extensive collection ratified the longevity of the settlement as it included various coins from the Republican era right through to Gratian in the late 4th century AD.
Whilst it is likely that the worn nature of these republican coins indicate use in the 1st to 2nd century AD (David Rudling pers. comm.) rather than when they were minted, the coin sequence still indicates a 300 year time span.
In early December 2012 CAP organised a thorough and systematic metal detecting survey by the Eastbourne, West Kent and Ringmer groups, who found a further 15 Roman coins mainly dating from the 3rd century AD. Over the next few months the full results of this survey and Mr Cunningham’s collection will be scrutinised and fully recorded.
Further exciting news was received in October when the project was awarded a substantial grant of £90,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund which has enabled a comprehensive programme of surveys and excavations to be planned for 2013, with a strong focus on the involvement of the local community including nearby schools.
The main excavation has been set for a six week period from 1st July to 10th August 2013, to be open seven days a week to encourage the widest possible participation. Participation in the fieldwork is free with camp site with shower and toilet facilities being offered at £50 Monday to Friday and £20 Friday -Sunday. Further details will be posted on the project’s website, www.culverproject.co.uk.
Acknowledgements: David Staveley for the use of his magnetometer survey image and for his expertise and perseverance over many months of data collection; David Cunningham for access to his artefact collection; David Rudling for his identification and dating of the coins; and to Mark Stroude for allowing CAP continued access to his land.
References: Margary, I. 1948. Roman Ways in the Weald. London, Phoenix House.Written by David Millum HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
Richard III : Wiki CommonsUniversity of Leicester academic gleans clues as to how Richard III may have sounded from historical letters.
In a University of Leicester exclusive podcast interview, Dr Philip Shaw from the School of English discusses how Richard III may have sounded in his own lifetime.
With the use of two letters with notes from Richard III himself, Dr Shaw delves deeper into what the man was really like. Both letters provide a sneak peek into the world of Richard III’s language, spelling and grammar.
As both letters begin with formulaic and neat words from a secretary, Dr Shaw has used this as a point of comparison with Richards’ less polished notes.
The first of the two letters was written before Richard was king and is his earliest surviving letter, dating back to 1469. The letter itself was written when Richard was travelling with Edward IV to put down a disturbance in Yorkshire. Writing from Castle Rising, Norfolk, he urgently requests a loan of £100 from Sir John Say, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Richard appends a two-line note in his own hand to the letter, emphasising the urgency of his requirement.
The second letter was written in 1483, on learning of the Duke of Buckingham’s rebellion against him. King Richard dictated a letter asking his Chancellor to send the Great Seal to him. Richard also attaches a personal note at the bottom of the letter, expressing his desire that the Chancellor come in person, if possible, and expressing his expectation that he will soon suppress Buckingham.
Dr Shaw said: “I found that Richard III’s spellings are relatively consistent, and in many ways reflect the same educated spelling practices employed by his secretaries. However, he also differs from the practice of his secretaries occasionally, and such quirks may provide clues to how he spoke.
“Like today, there were various dialects (with different features of accent and grammar) around the country. Unlike today, individuals were more likely to spell words in ways that reflected their local dialect. Therefore, by looking at Richard’s writing, I was able to pinpoint spellings that may provide some clues to his accent.
“The language used within the two postscripts shows no evidence of northern English dialect features, largely reflecting the relatively standard, London-derived spelling system also used by Richard’s secretaries. However, there is also at least one spelling he employs that may suggest a West Midlands accent.”
You can listen to an exclusive podcast interview with Dr Philip Shaw here: http://soundcloud.com/university-of-leicesterContributing Source : University of Leicester HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
Homo neanderthalensis : Wiki CommonsThe theory that the last Neanderthals –Homo neanderthalensis– persisted in southern Iberia at the same time that modern humans –Homo sapiens– advanced in the northern part of the peninsula, has been widely accepted by the scientific community during the last twenty years.
An international study, in which researchers of the Spanish National Distance Education University (UNED) participate, questions this hypothesis.
“It is improbable that the last Neanderthals of central and southern Iberia would have persisted until such a late date, approximately 30,000 years ago, as we thought before the new dates appeared” assures Jesús F. Jordá, researcher of the Department of Prehistory and Archaeology of the UNED and co-author of the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The scientific team, with researchers from Oxford University (United Kingdom), Australia National University, UNED (Madrid), University of La Laguna (Tenerife), Archaeological Museum of Lucena (Córdoba), and National Museum of National History (Paris), applied a new technique in order to repeat analyses at the sites of Jarama VI (Guadalajara) and Zafarraya (Malaga), considered up to now two of the last refuges of the Iberian Neanderthals.
To the usual radiocarbon dating method, the ultrafiltration protocol was added, which aims to purify the collagen of the bone samples from contaminants. The AMS dating technique was applied that requires minimum sample quantities.
The scientists, by applying this new method, assure that the neanderthal occupation of the sites did not last until as late as previously thought; instead it should be placed approximately 45,000 years ago.
“The problem with radiocarbon dating alone is that it does not provide reliable dates older than 50,000 years” explains Jordá. An additional problem is contamination; the older the samples are the more residues are accumulated. If contaminants are not removed the obtained dates are incorrect.Re-writing Prehistory books
New analyses were applied to bone remains found in the archaeological deposits in association with Middle Paleolithic stone artifacts. Bones bearing clear signs of human manipulation (cut marks, marks of percussion or intentional breakage) were selected in order to rule out possible intrusions by carnivores.
Despite the fact that samples were collected from numerous sites in southern Iberia, it was only possible to date those of Jarama VI and Zafarraya, as the remaining samples did not contain enough collagen to be dated.
Cueva Antón (Murcia) is the only site that still provides recent dates in accordance with what has until now been postulated in relation to the persistence of the Neanderthals. However, neither the technological remains are clearly related to the Neanderthals nor are the dated charcoal samples perfectly associated with the lithics.
In view of the new data according to Jordá “prehistory books would need revision”, especially as new results become available. “Although it is still controversial to change the theory in force, the new concept, which presents new data indicating that Neanderthals and H. sapiens did not co-exist in Iberia, is becoming accepted” he adds.Contributing Source : UNED National Distance Education University HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
Rare shell palett : Image Source : Cadwgan Building Preservation TrustMore than 7,000 artefacts were unearthed during the summer archaeological dig at Cardigan Castle.
The dig – which was carried out by professional archaeologists from NPS Archaeology plus scores of local volunteers – also revealed previously unknown medieval remains inside the castle which was the site of Wales’ first ever eisteddfod in 1176.
“The finds collected during the excavations form an interesting and varied assemblage. Although more research is required on all the items, it is clear that they have a huge amount to contribute to the history of the site,” said archaeologist Rebecca Sillwood.
“The finds archive is a tangible link with the past and is most evocative of the people who must have lived, worked and spent leisure time at Cardigan Castle over many centuries.”Finds include:
• parts of an Elizabethan stone window frame; • glass bottles manufactured in Cardigan and Carmarthen; • clay tobacco pipes; • Over 4,000 fragments of pottery ranging from the medieval period through to the 20th century; One interesting find was a relatively rare shell palette.
“The shell is possibly a clam and the piece retains a large amount of a reddish pigment. More detailed analysis of this object is required, but it is not a common find and examples that have been excavated tend to be associated with medieval ecclesiastical sites,” added Rebecca.History
The first motte-and-bailey castle (ca.1093) was built a mile away from the present site, probably about the time of the founding of the town by Roger de Montgomery, a Norman baron.
The forerunner of the present castle was built by Gilbert Fitz Richard Lord of Clare after the former was destroyed. The castle was handed down to Gilbert’s son, Gilbert de Clare, 1st Earl of Pembroke in 1136. The same year, Owain Gwynedd led the defeat of the Norman rulers in the town of Cardigan at the Battle of Crug Mawr. The town was taken and burnt, though the castle was successfully defended by Normans commanded by Robert fitz Martin.
The castle was later recaptured by the Normans, and was held for Earl Roger of Hertford. In 1166 it was captured by Rhys ap Gruffydd, who rebuilt it in stone in 1171. In 1176 the first ever Eisteddfod was held at the castle. On Rhys’s death in 1197 his sons, Maelgwn and Gruffydd, disputed their inheritance resulting in Maelgwn surrendering Gruffydd to the Normans and selling the castle to King John. The castle was later held for William Marshall.
Llywelyn the Great captured it in 1215 and at the parliament held at Aberdovey in 1216 made it over to the sons of Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth, but in 1223 William Marshall the Younger recaptured it. In 1231 the castle was again captured for Llywelyn by Rhys Gryg and his allies. Llywelyn held it until his death in 1240. On Llywelyn’s death it fell back into Norman hands, and in 1244 Earl Gilbert of Pembroke rebuilt it with town walls for added protection. It is the remains of this building that still stands overlooking the river.
It was badly damaged during the English Civil War in Wales and until the 18th century it was only used as a prison. At the beginning of the 19th century a residence, Castle Green House, was built inside the walls incorporating the North Tower. This fell into disrepair in the 1940s and was allowed to decay further by the owner to the extent that the outer walls needed supporting.Background:
Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust, a Company Limited by Guarantee and a Registered Charity, is working very hard in partnership with Ceredigion County Council to make Cardigan Castle and associated buildings on its 2 acre site, one of the major tourist attractions in West Wales. The Trust has secured £4.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a further £4.7m from WEFO towards the £11m project and in June 2012 was awarded £743,345 by the Communities Asset Transfer grant, the final piece of the funding. The funding is dependent on the trust raising £150k from the community.
The site will be developed as a multi-functional facility for community and recreational use as well as for learning, including Welsh language, cultural, crafts, environment and horticulture studies. There will be luxury accommodation for hire; a heritage centre with education facilities; a restaurant; an Eisteddfod garden with a sliding roof (suitable for weddings), an open-air concert area, as well as rooms for hire for classes.
The ethos behind the project is to bring tourism into the area, to help rejuvenate the town economy, to include local people in the development, and to encourage pride in local culture and heritage. http://www.cardigancastle.com/Contributing Source : Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
Richard III – University of LeicesterThe University of Leicester today confirms (Monday, Feb 4) that it has discovered the remains of King Richard III.
At a specially convened media conference, experts from across the University unanimously identified the remains discovered in Leicester city centre as being those of the last Plantagenet king who died in 1485.
Rigorous scientific investigations confirmed the strong circumstantial evidence that the skeleton found at the site of the Grey Friars church in Leicester was indeed that of King Richard III.
University of Leicester researchers have revealed a wealth of evidence – including DNA analysis, radiocarbon dating and skeletal examination – proving the identity of the skeleton.
University of Leicester archaeologists co-director Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on the Search for Richard III, said: “It is the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that the individual exhumed at Grey Friars in August 2012 is indeed King Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of England.
“It has been an honour and privilege for all of us to be at the centre of an academic project that has had such phenomenal global interest and mass public appeal. Rarely have the conclusions of academic research been so eagerly awaited.”
University of Leicester geneticist Dr Turi King confirmed that DNA from the skeleton matches that of two of Richard III’s family descendants – Canadian-born furniture maker Michael Ibsen and a second person who wishes to remain anonymous.
Dr King, of the University’s Department of Genetics, said: “The DNA sequence obtained from the Grey Friars skeletal remains was compared with the two maternal line relatives of Richard III. We were very excited to find that there is a DNA match between the maternal DNA from the family of Richard the Third and the skeletal remains we found at the Grey Friars dig.”
Skeletal analysis carried out by University of Leicester osteoarchaeologist Dr Jo Appleby showed that the individual was male and in his late 20s to late 30s. Richard III was 32 when he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
The individual had a slender physique and severe scoliosis – a curvature of the spine – possibly with one shoulder visibly higher than the other. This is consistent with descriptions of Richard III’s appearance from the time.
Trauma to the skeleton indicates the individual died after one of two significant wounds to the back of the skull – possibly caused by a sword and a halberd.
This is consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard being killed after receiving a blow to the back of his head.
The skeleton also showed a number of non-fatal injuries to the head, rib and pelvis – believed to have been caused by a wound through the right buttock – which may have been caused by ‘humiliation injuries’ after death.
Dr Appleby’s analysis is backed up by radiological evidence carried out by University of Leicester forensic pathologists and forensic engineering experts.
Dr Appleby, of the University’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History, said: “The skeleton has a number of unusual features: its slender build, the scoliosis and the battle-related trauma. All of these are highly consistent with the information that we have about Richard III in life and about the circumstances of his death. Taken as a whole, the skeletal evidence provides a highly convincing case for identification as Richard III.”
The verdict also drew from circumstantial evidence at the dig site, radiocarbon dating, genealogical evidence and comparison with historical sources.
The University of Leicester, in association with Leicester City Council and the Richard III Society, led the Search for Richard III.
The Search for Richard III is also the subject of a Channel 4 documentary made by Darlow Smithson Productions.
The documentary makers had exclusive access to the search team during the archaeological dig and during the scientific tests to determine the skeleton’s identity.UNIVERSITY OF LEICESTER REVEALS:
• Wealth of evidence, including radiocarbon dating, radiological evidence, DNA and bone analysis and archaeological results, confirms identity of last Plantagenet king who died over 500 years ago
• DNA from skeleton matches TWO of Richard III’s maternal line relatives. Leicester genealogist verifies living relatives of Richard III’s family
• Individual likely to have been killed by one of two fatal injuries to the skull – one possibly from a sword and one possibly from a halberd
• 10 wounds discovered on skeleton – Richard III killed by trauma to the back of the head. Part of the skull sliced off
• Radiocarbon dating reveals individual had a high protein diet – including significant amounts of seafood – meaning he was likely to be of high status
• Radiocarbon dating reveals individual died in the second half of the 15th or in the early 16th century – consistent with Richard’s death in 1485
• Skeleton reveals severe scoliosis – onset believed to have occurred at the time of puberty
• Although around 5 feet 8 inches tall (1.72m), condition meant King Richard III would have stood significantly shorter and his right shoulder may have been higher than the left
• Feet were truncated at an unknown point in the past, but a significant time after the burial
• Corpse was subjected to ‘humiliation injuries’ –including a sword through the right buttock
• Individual had unusually slender, almost feminine, build for a man – in keeping with contemporaneous accounts
• No evidence for ‘withered arm’ –as portrayed by Shakespeare – found
• Possibility that the individual’s hands were tied
• Grave was hastily dug, was not big enough and there was no shroud or coffinFurther Resources:
Their documentary, Richard III: King in the Car Park, can be seen at 9pm on Channel 4 today (Monday, February 4).
More information about Channel 4’s Richard III: King in the Car Park documentary can be found at: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/richard-iii-the-king-in-the-car-park/episode-guide/series-1/episode-1
The public can find more information about the University of Leicester’s Search for Richard III at: www.le.ac.uk/richardiiiContributing Source : University of Leicester HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
Photos courtesy of Andrew Nelson - A mummified domestic cat, goes in for a CT scan at the London Health Sciences Centre.
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Tlaloc, the god of rain and water: National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City - Teotihuacán hall Georgia State University’s Christopher Morehart and his wife walked about an excavation area in winter 2007 at Lake...
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Image Source : Wiki CommonsOn Monday afternoon the people of Leicester should finally see the mortal remains of the neighbour who has provoked such intense curiosity for so long: the man from the car park, the skeleton excavated in September from the foundations of a long-demolished church, who may be revealed as Richard III, the last Plantagenet king.
On Monday afternoon the people of Leicester should finally see the mortal remains of the neighbour who has provoked such intense curiosity for so long: the man from the car park, the skeleton excavated in September from the foundations of a long-demolished church, who may be revealed as Richard III, the last Plantagenet king.
Leicester University is considering how to share the discovery with the public, alongside checks by scientists who say they will be working “up to the wire” to get their results, and preparations for the media invasion – including estimating how many bacon butties they will need at dawn to feed film crews from seven countries.
The skeleton, with what appears to be a fearsome battle wound in the skull and a contorted spine, will be shown to the media for the first time, though the university insists it will be done “with dignity and respect”.
“We’re not going to have people doing pieces to camera with one hand on the bones,” Richard Taylor, director of corporate affairs at the university, said. “Whether this is Richard III or not, this was a human being, not just an object of curiosity.”
Few outside a small group of archaeologists and scientists have seen the skeleton, which will be laid out in a separate room.
“We are still working on the logistics but after the media event we do hope to give some public access: we are very aware that the people of Leicester feel that this is also their discovery,” Taylor said.
Open days at the site saw long queues, even though there was little to see except fragmentary foundations of the medieval Greyfriars church and a small, grave-shaped hole in the scruffy asphalt.
Richard rode out from Leicester to the Bosworth battlefield, where he died, on 22 August 1485. The crown that rolled from his head ended the reign of the Plantagenets, and the Tudor victor became Henry VII. By some accounts Richard’s body was stripped on the battlefield, brought back to Leicester slung over the pommel of a horse, and humiliatingly exposed in the town centre.
According to legend, the landlord of the White Boar, where Richard spent his last night in the town, heard of the regime change and hastily repainted his inn sign from Richard’s emblem to a politically neutral blue boar, though some say the blue boar represented the Earl of Oxford, who was on the Tudors’ side. Although stories say his body was dumped in the river, many believe the body was claimed by the Franciscans and buried hastily but in a position of honour near the high altar of their church – exactly where the remains were found.
Curiosity is as intense among archaeologists as the public, though opinions are sharply divided. Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology, the journal of the Council for British Archaeology, has worked on ancient human remains from Stonehenge. He has heard rumours that the attempt to extract DNA has either failed or was inconclusive, but still has a hunch that the tests, plus historical evidence, including the location of the grave, may be enough. “If all that comes together to support an identification of Richard III, then I’m sure many would be prepared to accept it,” said Pitts.
However, Professor Mark Horton, of Bristol University – who recently proved that remains from Magdeburg cathedral in Germany were those of Eadgyth, a Wessex princess and granddaughter of Alfred the Great – is much more sceptical. “The problem is the ‘smoking gun’,” he said. “How do you prove these are indeed royal bones? Even it the DNA survives, it is not the panacea most people assume. There is a high rate of illegitimacy over the generations – there were a lot of milkmen in the past.”
The battlefield archaeologist Tony Pollard, who succeeded in matching DNA from an unrecorded first world war cemetery at Fromelles in France with living descendants, finds the saga fascinating. “Finding a named individual from a known battlefield so long ago is a fantastically rare thing – it’s only the fact that this might be Richard that would make such an identification possible.”
In September, the university said getting results would take “about 12 weeks”. In late December, rumours circulated among archaeologists that the delay was because the results were negative or inconclusive, but the university insists the range and complexity of the tests simply took longer than expected. One source who has spoken with the scientist leading the DNA team, Canadian Turi King, said she had been working against the clock this week.
The tests included attempts to extract DNA from a leg bone to compare with that of Michael Ibsen, a Canadian believed to be a direct descendant of Richard’s sister Anne. Bone samples have also been radio carbon-dated by two laboratories, which may give an approximate date of death, and tooth samples have been analysed for evidence of diet and health. Forensic pathologists, along with experts on medieval battles and weaponry, have been poring over the skeleton to determine the cause of death.
If the remains are confirmed as Richard’s, the next battle will be over what happens next. There have already been demands for a full state funeral, and rival claims that he should be buried in York Minster, as the last king from the north, or Westminster Abbey, which may be uncomfortably close to Henry Tudor, the man who killed him, or to his wife, Anne Neville, who some believe he poisoned.
However, the people of Leicester insist he should stay in their city, a call supported by Ibsen, who told the Leicester Mercury: “He was killed there and he was buried there. My personal feeling is that it’s only proper he remains there.”
The cathedral, just 100 metres from where the bones lay forgotten for so long, already has candles burning before a memorial slab in front of the altar. The authorities have said they are ready to ensure the remains are “treated with dignity and respect and are reburied with the appropriate rites and ceremonies of the church”.
Even sceptical Horton shares the intense curiosity about the announcement. “If they do get all their ducks to line up, if they really have found enough scientific evidence to prove that it’s Richard, it would certainly be of great interest – a window opening on the truth of what some might argue was the last legitimate king of England.”
Ibsen told the Guardian he still has no idea what the tests will reveal, but if it is indeed Richard, the line appears to stop here. “I have no children, but we’re talking about mitochondrial DNA, which is usually passed on through the woman – so that would be my sister, but she has no children either. I’m afraid we learned about all this too late.”
• This article was amended on 5 February 2013 to include more information about the painting of the White Boar inn’s sign. The original said according to legend, the landlord “repainted his inn sign from Richard’s emblem to a politically neutral blue boar”. Some say the blue boar actually represented the Earl of Oxford, who was on the Tudors’ side.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire is where the ‘heritage industry’ started. WikiCommonsAmong the most surprising buildings to find in the English landscape is Tattershall Castle, which shoots up straight from the vegetable flatlands of Lincolnshire and could easily be mistaken for a period reproduction, looking new and almost too castle-like, more like a Victorian fancy than a defensible tower built in the 15th century from 700,000 well-laid bricks.
Among the most surprising buildings to find in the English landscape is Tattershall Castle, which shoots up straight from the vegetable flatlands of Lincolnshire and could easily be mistaken for a period reproduction, looking new and almost too castle-like, more like a Victorian fancy than a defensible tower built in the 15th century from 700,000 well-laid bricks. Tattershall is less well-known than it might be, but it has an important place in the national story – of Scotland and Wales as well as England. A little over 100 years ago, its fate prompted a fuss that led to the British state’s decisive involvement in what we now know as the heritage industry, with consequences for planning legislation and Britain’s understanding of its past that continue today, and will be remembered this year in a series of exhibitions and television programmes marking the centenary of the Ancient Monuments Act.
Briefly, the story goes like this. Between 1430 and 1450, Tattershall was built for Ralph Cromwell, Lord Treasurer of England, and then changed hands among various grand English families over the next four centuries until, after it had fallen into disrepair and neglect, American speculators bought it in 1911. This was America’s gilded age – railroad millionaires and press magnates were hungry to import the arts and crafts of old Europe, to be displayed in their new palaces: paintings, sculpture and tapestries of course, but also gargoyles, Norman arches and, in Tattershall’s case, fireplaces – the very ones that Pugin had used as his model for those in the Houses of Parliament. Several were ripped out and carried off, presumably to begin their journey to the docks. There were even reports that the castle itself would be dismantled and shipped across the Atlantic, prefiguring the actual fate of London Bridge 50 years later.
It would be wrong to say that all of this caused widespread outrage. The idea that buildings contained a nation’s history and identity had still to be popularised; until 1890, British (that is, largely English) history hardly featured in the teaching of ordinary schools. The Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, however, wasn’t ordinary. He was a visionary imperialist in the high summer of empire. As viceroy, he’d ruled India energetically, controversially and sometimes detestably; back in England, lacking a proper political job, he fulfilled his passions for history and country houses. For him, the story of a house was “as enthralling as that of an individual”. His biographer, David Gilmour, wrote that he “was almost incapable of owning or inhabiting a piece of property without attempting to write a book about it”.
Britain could hardly maintain its rightful place in the world if it was flogging 15th-century forts and their enthralling stories to Americans. Curzon, learning that Tattershall’s fate would be sealed the next day, sped to Lincolnshire, inspected the castle and offered a price the Americans couldn’t refuse. The fireplaces came back to the castle on horse-drawn carts, where they lay wrapped in union flags like the coffins of war heroes being borne home on a bier. Later, when Curzon bequeathed Tattershall to the nation (in the shape of the National Trust), he wrote that beautiful and ancient buildings were not only historical documents of supreme value, “but are a part of the spiritual and aesthetic heritage of a nation, imbuing it with reverence and educating its taste”.
These sentiments are now so worn with use – the philosophy on which so many school excursions and helicopter-shot documentaries of Britain are founded – that it’s hard to imagine they were ever fresh. And yet, for most of Victoria’s reign, new houses, railways and factories pushed ancient streets and inns out of the way with very little objection other than from the occupiers. The cult of preservation grew around objects related to the famous – Nelson’s Victory and the cottages of Anne Hathaway and Robert Burns – extending, as the century wore on, to medieval churches and prehistoric monuments. In 1882, the last group got their own legislation, the first Ancient Monuments Act, which encouraged landowners to place in government care any neolithic burial chambers or stone circles they had on their property. But there was no compulsion. A landowner could act as he liked, and many monuments went on being destroyed, including some cup-marked stones at Ilkley in Yorkshire which were carted off “probably to some rockery”, in the words of the government inspector who helplessly watched their departure.
Could the state tell property owners how to treat their property? The idea went against every notion of free-born Englishness and individual rights, and was especially obnoxious to the Tory gentry, because preservation and conservation were then broadly “socialist” causes. But here Curzon the imperialist was unexpectedly radical. During his years as viceroy, he’d re-energised the care of India’s glorious monuments by strengthening the archaeological department, boosting its repair budget and enacting legislation that gave the government control over the most important parts of the country’s built heritage whether or not they were in private ownership. The Taj Mahal’s restoration was especially rewarding: “If I had done nothing else in India,” he told his wife, “I have written my name here, and the letters are a living joy.”
With the Tattershall case, he saw a paradox. To quote from a speech made this week by English Heritage chief Simon Thurley, it distressed Curzon that the law could stop architectural looters in Punjab but not in Lincolnshire. Tattershall’s last-minute rescue alerted inquiries that showed many valuable sites were being damaged, triggering parliamentary calls for legislation that had Curzon’s influential support. So the ancient monuments consolidation and amendment bill passed into law in 1913, and out of it came the mechanics of conservation – preservation orders and scheduling – that still persist. For the first time in matters of aesthetics and architecture, the state constrained the behaviour of the property-owning class.
The story has two ironies. The first is that Curzon stopped Tattershall castle’s export to America with American money, provided by the estate of his late millionaire father-in-law, Levi Leiter, who co-founded the Marshall Field department store in Chicago. Without this regular income, which by 1914 was giving the former viceroy £40,000 a year in spending money, he would never have afforded his London mansion and three country estates.The second, more important irony could be summed up in three words: the present government. Or in two: Michael Gove. How lucky they are, with their stress on the educational and civic importance of national history, that so much of it was so well preserved by the state funding and organisation of the Ministry of Works, its responsibilities in England now inherited by English Heritage. Without the intervention of the state – the big, law-making state poking its nose where the Duke of Rutland believed it shouldn’t – where would these monuments have been? Some demolished, some in ruins, some with metal-framed windows, and some no doubt in the US.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Photos courtesy of Andrew Nelson - A mummified domestic cat, goes in for a CT scan at the London Health Sciences Centre. Yes was mummified at the request of his owner and used to determine whether changes that happen to tissues are part of the pathological process or whether they’re related to mummification.A modern, domestic house cat is helping shed light on the practice of mummification and the lives of ancients, such as Ramses II, the most celebrated pharaoh of Egypt.
Emerging from a study looking to determine whether Ramses II had ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a chronic inflammatory disease of the spine which makes vertebrae look dense in radiographs, the study of Yes started when a graduate student asked Western professor Andrew Nelson to mummify his pet, who passed away from pancreatitis.
Since, Nelson, associate dean of research and operations in Western’s Department of Anthropology, and associate dean in the Faculty of Social Science, has led the Yes investigation, looking to determine whether changes that happen to tissues are part of the pathological process or related to mummification.
In other words, is the density of the vertebrae, observed in radiographs of Ramses II, indicative of him having suffered from AS? Or, is the density a result of the mummification process?
“We’re looking at the osteobiography of a mummy. We’re trying to tell the story of that person’s life through the analysis of bones and tissues; we want to get as accurate a picture of their life as we can, that we can properly diagnose the disease process and properly differentiate from (the mummification process),” Nelson explained.
Enter Yes, an interdisciplinary case study that was featured last week on the Discovery Channel’s The Daily Planet.
In what is the first long-term study of tissue changes during mummification using multimodal imaging techniques, Nelson and his research team started the process of mummifying Yes in 2004. The goal was to see what changes can be observed in tissues and how long it takes for such changes to occur.
Once mummification was complete, researchers examined Yes with MR (magnetic resonance) scans and clinical CT (computerized tomography) imaging, in order to see beneath the wrappings and observe changes to tissues over time. The use of a microCT scanner allowed Nelson’s research team to non-invasively examine the remains of Yes in the afterlife.
The results of the scans showed a rapid shrinking and a decrease in tissue density, Nelson said, noting the expectation was that tissues would increase in density, not get softer.
What this means, Nelson said, is that if we observe increased density in tissue of a mummy, researchers can be confident that it represents real physiological issues, ones not part of the mummification process.
“If we see something that is markedly more dense in a mummy, we can be sure it is pathology,” he said.
So, in this way, Yes has helped shed light on the life of Ramses II. While difficult to know for certain, it is possible the pharaoh had AS.
But that’s not the cat’s only contribution to researchers’ understanding of the mummification process.
While the team left Yes’ heart and brain intact, it was difficult to see any trace of the brain in the initial scans. The heart was, however, visible.
“The brain shrunk a lot and lobbed to the side of the cranial cavity,” Nelson said, noting it looked as if the brain was not actually there.
“Why we care about that is that brain removal was something the Egyptians did (in humans), though not all the time. The Egyptians mummified a lot of different animals. In (scans of animals where the brain is not visible), it could be that the brain is actually still there and you have to do more detailed imaging,” he continued.
“There’s a lot of discussion, whether Egyptians were treating animals differently. It appears that animals were not eviscerated in the same way – the brain was not removed. The few examples where (animals) have been held up and treated the same way as people, it’s important to look at them and ask is this some exception or are we mistaken in terms of that conclusion?”Contributing Source : Western University Canada HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
Photo courtesy of Victoria Lywood – This image shows the face of a young Theban male, reconstructed thanks to a collaborative effort between the Redpath Museum’s World Cultures Collection at McGill University, Andrew Wade and Western’s IMPACT Radiological Mummy Database Project, the Engineering Department of John Abbott College and forensic artist Victoria Lywood.A postdoctoral fellow in Western’s Anthropology department, he has been working with a forensic artist from John Abbott College reconstructing the identities of three Egyptian mummies, laid to rest roughly 2,000 years ago.
Examined using state-of-the-art medical imaging technology, the skeletal data, computerized tomography (CT) scans and radiocarbon analyses of the mummies have helped reveal three ancient faces – a young man and a young woman, as well as a white-haired matron – as they may have looked prior to their deaths.
“(Even) with the skeletal material and CT scans, I didn’t have any idea what they’d look like,” Wade said, crediting the sketches of forensic artist Victoria Lywood for the end result. “It was amazing to see what they would look like as we got snapshots as the process went along.
“To meet these mummies face-to-face was just amazing.”
The reconstructions were a collaborative effort between the Redpath Museum’s World Cultures Collection at McGill University, Western’s IMPACT Radiological Mummy Database Project, the Engineering Department of John Abbott College and forensic artist Lywood. The results were unveiled last week at Redpath.
“These three (mummies) have been fascinating studies, contributing to our understanding of mummification,” Wade said. He noted the scans of these mummies and others help anthropologists understand how the tradition changed over time.
“The Theban male has packing in a large cavity in his teeth, and that’s unique so far in literature. It hints at ancient dental intervention practices,” he added.
The three mummies were scanned at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital in 2011 with some of the most sophisticated technology available, producing high-resolution 3D images. Aside from the fascinating case studies and a visceral connection to the past, Wade thinks it’s important to value and understand the scientific process behind it all.
“It’s extremely important to get the public involved in something relatable and have them see the mummies, and better understand how we come about doing this, the science about it and anthropological assessments and 3D printing,” he said.
“The stuff we do with mummies pushes the boundaries with technology. The public can get a lot out of it. It’s important to get the public involved and getting them to understand what we do is a large collaborative effort.”
Radiocarbon dating following the CT scans revealed the female Theban mummy is from the Late Roman Period (230-380 CE) and the Theban male mummy from the Ptolemaic Period (332-30 BCE). The hairstyle visible in scans of the third mummy indicates it is from the mid-Roman Period (96-161 CE).
Skeletal data from CT scans, along with revised historical context from radiocarbon analyses, helped the team create the facial reconstructions, while anthropological analyses of the scans has provided researchers with information relating to the demographics, social statuses and medical conditions during the lives of the three mummies, further informing opinions on how ancient Egyptians lived and died.
The reconstruction will be part of a new display in the World Cultures gallery at Redpath starting next month. The collection also features cat, crocodile and bird mummies.Contributing Source : Western University Canada
HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
Tlaloc, the god of rain and water: National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City – Teotihuacán hallGeorgia State University’s Christopher Morehart and his wife walked about an excavation area in winter 2007 at Lake Xaltocan, a drained lake in the northern basin of Mexico where he was studying ancient agriculture and how people interacted with their environment.
Someone besides the assistant professor of anthropology and his research team had been digging around with artifacts on the surface. But they weren’t ordinary remnants of an ancient society. They had ritual significance, and as the Moreharts looked around, they found human bones.
“My wife and I were noticing that they were cranial material,” Morehart recounted. “She put her hand in the dirt, felt like she had a big shard, and it was the entire frontal of a cranium. My very easy, straightforward agricultural study just took a turn to being a more complex study.”
Morehart, with fellow researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the support of the National Geographic Society, has been working at the Xaltocan site to learn more about the newly uncovered location where human sacrifice took place.
Further digging from that initial research revealed at least 31 individuals had been sacrificed, with their skulls lined up toward the east.
“There is pretty good evidence that these individuals were sacrificed and decapitated,” Morehart said.
The sacrifices dated between A.D. 660 and 890, between the collapse of nearby Teotihuacan and the rise of the Aztec empire, known as the Epiclassic period.
The researchers found figures similar to deities worshiped in the region, such as Tlaloc, the god of rain and water, buried with the cranial remains.
“There was some sort of ritual going on where offerings were being given to gods associated with the Earth, gods associated with rain and also interestingly integrating human sacrifice, which at the same time has connotations of violence, conflict and warfare,” Morehart said.
The researchers found pollen from ceremonially significant flowers and the burning of incense, he said. They found that people continued to conduct rituals at the spot even after the period of sacrifices. As later and different peoples arrived in the area, they most likely recognized the sacred significance of the site. They did not continue human sacrifice, but performed rituals and even directed a major canal right through the shrine.
“Probably the people who populated the area later, who formed a new farming system, came upon this spot not unlike my wife and I did, “ Morehart said. “They saw things that looked familiar, thought them significant and for them it probably keyed conceptual models for religion and ritual.”
Even today, it’s a site of ritual. Morehart’s team found last summer evidence of contemporary rituals such as burying “spell bags” at the site.
“It’s a fascinating area in terms of long-term continuity and ritual, and it fits very well into my interests into understanding how people interact with their environment in multiple ways,” Morehart said. “This provides us with insight into how religion and practices are also relevant in understanding how people interact with their environment.”
During 2012, Morehart used the support of a National Geographic Society grant to dig further, finding even more skulls that are still under analysis by researchers at UNAM.
In line with one of Georgia State’s goals of providing research opportunities for students, Morehart noted opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in his greater research project, called the Northern Basin of Mexico Historical Ecology Project. Students can also learn more about the site at Xaltocan.Contributing Source : Georgia State University HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
Photos provided by Lisa Overholtzer, Wichita State University.For centuries, the fate of the original Otomí inhabitants of Xaltocan, the capital of a pre-Aztec Mexican city-state, has remained unknown. Researchers have long wondered whether they assimilated with the Aztecs or abandoned the town altogether.
According to new anthropological research from The University of Texas at Austin, Wichita State University and Washington State University, the answers may lie in DNA. Following this line of evidence, the researchers theorize that some original Otomies, possibly elite rulers, may have fled the town. Their exodus may have led to the reorganization of the original residents within Xaltocan, or to the influx of new residents, who may have intermarried with the Otomí population.
Using ancient DNA (aDNA) sampling, Jaime Mata-Míguez, an anthropology graduate student and lead author of the study, tracked the biological comings and goings of the Otomí people following the incorporation of Xaltocan into the Aztec empire. The study, published in American Journal of Physical Anthropology, is the first to provide genetic evidence for the anthropological cold case.
Learning more about changes in the size, composition, and structure of past populations helps anthropologists understand the impact of historical events, including imperial conquest, colonization, and migration, Mata-Míguez says. The case of Xaltocan is extremely valuable because it provides insight into the effects of Aztec imperialism on Mesoamerican populations.
Historical documents suggest that residents fled Xaltocan in 1395 AD, and that the Aztec ruler sent taxpayers to resettle the site in 1435 AD. Yet archaeological evidence indicates some degree of population stability across the imperial transition, deepening the mystery. Recently unearthed human remains from before and after the Aztec conquest at Xaltocan provide the rare opportunity to examine this genetic transition.
As part of the study, Mata-Míguez and his colleagues sampled mitochondrial aDNA from 25 bodies recovered from patios outside excavated houses in Xaltocan. They found that the pre-conquest maternal aDNA did not match those of the post-conquest era. These results are consistent with the idea that the Aztec conquest of Xaltocan had a significant genetic impact on the town.
Mata-Míguez suggests that long-distance trade, population movement and the reorganization of many conquered populations caused by Aztec imperialism could have caused similar genetic shifts in other regions of Mexico as well.
In focusing on mitochondrial DNA, this study only traced the history of maternal genetic lines at Xaltocan. Future aDNA analyses will be needed to clarify the extent and underlying causes of the genetic shift, but this study suggests that Aztec imperialism may have significantly altered at least some Xaltocan households.Contributing Source : UTEXAS HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
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