Secret History
Map


Sherlock

Poland: Mysterious Viking-era Graves Found With Treasure

Sword at his side, the so-called Young Warrior (left) is among the thousand-year-old discoveries in a newfound cemetery in Poland, a new study says.

The burial ground holds not only a hoard of precious objects but also hints of human sacrifice - and several dozen graves of a mysterious people with links to both the Vikings and the rulers of the founding states of eastern Europe.
© S. Gronek
Who Was the Young Warrior?

Researchers are especially intrigued by the Young Warrior, who died a violent death in his 20s. The man's jaw is fractured, his skull laced with cut marks. The sword provides further evidence of a martial life.

Objects in the warrior's grave suggest he had ties to one of the region's earliest Slavic monarchs, said the project leader Andrzej Buko, head of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology at the Polish Academy of Sciences.

But the north-south orientation of the man's body is a Scandinavian custom. Slavic graves were oriented east-west, Buko says.
Sherlock

UK: Yorkshire's answer to Stonehenge awarded star billing

Archaeologists have labelled it as the region's answer to Stonehenge because of its major historical significance. Now, the North Yorkshire site, which is home to the country's oldest surviving house, has been listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument by English Heritage in a bid to preserve it for future generations.

Star Carr - a Stone Age site near Scarborough dating from 10,500 years ago - was awarded the prestigious status by the Heritage Minister John Penrose yesterday. The designation provides legal protection for the site where last year a team of archaeologists from the universities of York and Manchester discovered Britain's earliest surviving home.
© Adrian Warren
Star Carr

The wooden building, which is circular, 3.5 metres wide, and shows evidence of a possible fireplace, predates the house previously thought to be Britain's oldest, at Howick, Northumberland, by at least 500 years. A team of researchers excavating the site, which would have overlooked a giant lake, also found a wooden platform which is the earliest evidence of carpentry in Europe and an 11,000-year-old tree trunk with its bark still intact after being preserved in peat.
Sherlock

US: Ohio's ancient earthworks are aligned to astronomical events

© Wikimedia Commons
Opening of a ditch on the southern side of the gate to the Great Circle Earthworks in Newark, Ohio, United States; note the nearby person for scale. Along with the Octagon and Wright Earthworks, the Great Circle was built by prehistoric Hopewellian peoples. The three sets of earthworks compose the Newark Earthworks; they have been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Many of Ohio's ancient earthworks are aligned to astronomical events, such as the apparent rising and setting of the sun or the moon on key dates in their cycles.

The main axis of the Octagon Earthworks at Newark, for example, lines up to where the moon rises at its northernmost point on the eastern horizon.

Clearly, ancient Americans were paying close attention to the sky, but why?

This question is considered in a paper by Canadian archaeologists Brian Hayden and Suzanne Villeneuve published in the current issue of the Cambridge Archaeological Journal.

One of the most commonly proposed answers is that farmers need to know when to plant and harvest their crops, and the solar calendar determines the growing season.

But ancient farmers, more attuned to nature's rhythms than most modern folk, didn't need gigantic astronomical observatories for that. Moreover, the 18.6-year-long cycle of the moon, encoded in Newark's monumental earthworks, wouldn't be of any help at all in determining the best times to sow and reap.
Sherlock

UK: Is Kyle's find treasure?

© Unknown
A young archaeologist has made his first major find at a park in Little Bowden during playtime at school.

Eight-year-old Kyle Simpson attends Little Bowden School and while at play in the nearby rec dug up four objects including a Victorian ink well.

He said: "I dug them up using a stick as I saw broken bits of pot in the area. I think there is more to find but I need help."

In a letter to Harborough District Council, Kyle, who has long been interested in being an archaeologist, has asked for help with further excavations.

He wrote: "If you could rope a small part of the park off, where I found them then I could carefully dig down a little further.
Blackbox

UK: Scientists discover source of rock used in Stonehenge's first circle

© Unknown
Discovery reignites debate over transportation of smaller standing stones

Scientists have succeeded in locating the exact source of some of the rock believed to have been used 5000 years ago to create Stonehenge's first stone circle.

By comparing fragments of stone found at and around Stonehenge with rocks in south-west Wales, they have been able to identify the original rock outcrop that some of the Stonehenge material came from.

The work - carried out by geologists Robert Ixer of the University of Leicester and Richard Bevins of the National Museum of Wales - has pinpointed the source as a 70 metre long rock outcrop called Craig Rhos-y-Felin, near Pont Saeson in north Pembrokeshire. It's the first time that an exact source has been found for any of the stones thought to have been used to build Stonehenge.
Info

Ancient Texts Tell Tales of War, Bar Tabs

Ancient Text
© The Schøyen Collection MS 2063, Oslo and Londo
In addition to the inscription this stele depicts King Nebuchadnezzar II standing beside a ziggurat he built at Babylon. The tower is dedicated to the god Marduk. This is one of only four known depictions of Nebuchadnezzar known to exist, and the best preserved.

A trove of newly translated texts from the ancient Middle East are revealing accounts of war, the building of pyramidlike structures called ziggurats and even the people's use of beer tabs at local taverns.

The 107 cuneiform texts, most of them previously unpublished, are from the collection of Martin Schøyen, a businessman from Norway who has a collection of antiquities.

The texts date from the dawn of written history, about 5,000 years ago, to a time about 2,400 years ago when the Achaemenid Empire (based in Persia) ruled much of the Middle East.

The team's work appears in the newly published book Cuneiform Royal Inscriptions and Related Texts in the Schøyen Collection (CDL Press, 2011).
Sherlock

UK: Cockerel figurine found in Cirencester Roman dig

A Roman cockerel figurine thought to have been made to accompany a child's grave has been unearthed in Gloucestershire. The 1,800-year-old enamelled object was found during an archaeological dig at one of Britain's earliest-known burial sites in Cirencester. It is thought the bronze cockerel, which is 12.5cm high, could have been a message to the gods.
© Cotswold Archaeology
The object had been placed close to the head of a child in a Roman grave

Archaeologist Neil Holbrook said it was a "most spectacular" find. The elaborately-decorated cockerel is believed to be Roman, probably dating back to the 2nd Century AD. According to experts, religious significance was given to the cockerel by the Romans and the artistic subject is known to be connected with Mercury, the messenger to the gods. They said it was Mercury who was also responsible for conducting newly-deceased souls to the afterlife.
Info

Found Coins May Unveil a Lost Viking

Viking Find
© The Trustees of the British Museum.
The largest items in the hoard, including some of the ingots and hacksilver pieces, and all of the coins.
A hoard of silver found by a metal detector has provided intriguing new clues to a previously unknown Viking king, the British Museum announced on Wednesday.

Found some 16 inches beneath the surface of a field in Silverdale, a village in north Lancashire, UK, the hoard materialized as Darren Webster, a 39-year-old stonemason, lifted a lead box signalled by his detector.

A shower of 201 pieces of silver revealed an abundance of arm-rings, brooch fragments, ingots and coins.

Viking Arm Ring
© The Trustees of the British Museum.
Silver arm-ring with punch decoration.
"I had a very good idea what it was. The coins, the bracelets, I knew it was possibly Viking, more than likely Viking," Webster told the Lancashire Evening Post.

Indeed, the treasure, possibly buried by a Viking warrior before he went into battle, includes coins which evoke Viking kings such as Alfred the Great, who reigned from 871 to 899. At that time, the Vikings were fighting the Anglo-Saxons to keep control of the North of England.
Sherlock

Scotland: Historical probe after Stirling Castle landslide

A section of wall below Stirling Castle that collapsed last week is now the subject of an archaeological investigation. The wall was on a steep bank above the Butt Well and had been built to retain garden terraces created in the 1490s. Archaeologists are using the collapse as an opportunity to investigate fragments of one of Scotland's oldest gardens, made for James IV.
© Unknown
The wall was on a steep bank above Butt Well

Members of Stirling Local History Society (SLHS) are leading the work. The society had organised a survey of the adjacent King's Knot last summer - and said it was already planning studies of the wider landscape around the castle. Archaeologist Stephen Digney, who co-ordinated the work at the Knot, said: "The terraces link the castle to the Knot garden below. "This fortuitous landslip presents a further step towards wider studies of the castle landscapes, which are of European importance."
Info

Prehistoric Wood Hints at Life Before Lake Huron

Ancient Wood
© Tane Casserley, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA
Anthropologist John O'Shea stands next to a piece of wood, thought to be a prehistoric tool, recovered from the bottom of Lake Huron.

An ancient piece of wood found at the bottom of Lake Huron hints at time, about 8,900 years ago, when this area was dry land where ancient hunters may have lived.

The piece of wood measures about 5-feet, 6-inches (1.7 meters) and seems to have been a tool of some kind.

"The first thing you notice is that it appears to have been shaped with a rounded base and a pointed tip," said John O'Shea, an anthropologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. "There's also a bevel on one side that looks unnatural, like it had to have been created. It looks like it might have been used as a tent pole or a pole to hang meat."

A more-detailed analysis is under way to determine if this is indeed the case. Using carbon dating - which looks at a radioactive form of carbon in a sample to determine its age - the wood was estimated to be about 8,900 years old.
Top