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Persephone abduction revealed in ancient Greek mosaic

© Greek Ministry of Culture
The abduction of Persephone became a popular trope in Western Art. Here, the scene decorates a newly revealed mosaic in Amphipolis, Greece.
A newly revealed mosaic on the floor of a vast Greek tomb shows Hades hauling his reluctant bride Persephone to the underworld, archaeologists announced today (Oct. 16).

When the artwork was first uncovered a few days ago, excavators could only see part of the scene. The mosaic seemed to show Hermes, the Greek messenger God and son of Zeus, in a broad-brimmed hat, leading a horsedrawn chariot, with a bearded man in tow. But when more dirt was removed, a third figure came into view: a woman stretching her arm out in distress. Archaeologists with the Greek Ministry of Culture say it's now clear the mosaic depicts a famous scene from Greek mythology: the abduction of Persephone, sometimes called the rape of Persephone.

The mosaic, which is made up of brightly colored pebbles, lies in an antechamber in the huge Kasta Hill burial mound at Amphipolis, an ancient city about 65 miles (104 kilometers) east of Thessaloniki. The ongoing excavation at the site has been watched with great excitement in Greece. [See Photos of the Tomb's Excavation and Mosaic]

Magnify

Archaeologists excavate roman frontier site in Romania

The site of Halmyris occupied a strategic position as an ancient Roman bastion on the edge of an empire.

Image
© Lucy MacDonald
Excavators hard at work at Halmyris.
It is an archaeological site, but one needs some imagination to picture an ancient Roman fort abutting a major waterway at this place.

"When you first enter the site you are on a very small hill, about three meters at the most above the surrounding farmland to the north and east," writes blogger Lucy MacDonald, who spent part of her summer as a volunteer excavator at the site. It is known as the location of ancient Halmyris, a Roman frontier stronghold in present-day Romania. "Those farm fields used to be the Danube river; however, the river has receded about 300 meters from where it used to be. We know this because there are two man-made harbours at Halmyris, therefore the Danube would have come right up to the fort. The fort had approximately twelve towers, and with good reason. The location of Halmyris is important because it intersects two important commercial shipping waters, the Danube and the Black Sea. However, this also made it a target for Roman enemies - which was EVERYONE."

Hourglass

Radiocarbon analyses suggests that Aegean civilization ended about a century earlier than thought


Assiros Toumba excavation site
Conventional estimates for the collapse of the Aegean civilization may be incorrect by up to a century, according to new radiocarbon analyses.

While historical chronologies traditionally place the end of the Greek Bronze Age at around 1025 BCE, this latest research suggests a date 70 to 100 years earlier.

Archaeologists from the University of Birmingham selected 60 samples of animal bones, plant remains and building timbers, excavated at Assiros in northern Greece, to be radiocarbon dated and correlated with 95.4% accuracy using Bayesian statistical methodology at the University of Oxford and the Akademie der Wissenschaften Heidelberg, Germany.

The findings are published in the journal PLOS One.

Sherlock

Archaeologists discover bronze remains of Celtic Iron Age chariot

© University of Leicester
Here is the chariot linch pin from three angles, showing the intricate decoration at the ends.
Team uncovers a matching set of decorated bronze parts from a 2nd or 3rd century BC Celtic chariot at Burrough Hill Iron Age hillfort


University of Leicester archaeologists have made a "once-in-a-career" discovery of the decorated bronze remains of an Iron Age chariot.

A team from the University's School of Archaeology and Ancient History has unearthed a hoard of rare bronze fittings from a 2nd or 3rd century BC chariot which appears to have been buried as a religious offering.

The archaeologists found the remains during their ongoing excavation of the Burrough Hill Iron Age hillfort, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

The School has led a 5-year project there since 2010, giving archaeology students and volunteers valuable experience of archaeological excavations.

© University of Leicester
This is a selection of chariot fittings: miniature terret ring (upper left), large terret ring (upper right), strap junction (lower left) and barrel-shaped harness fitting.
Burrough Hill is owned by the education charity, the Ernest Cook Trust, which has also funded site tours and school visits to the excavation.

While digging a large, deep pit near the remains of a house within the hillfort, a group of four students found a piece of bronze in the ground - before uncovering a concentration of further parts very nearby.

Taken together, the pieces are easily recognisable as a matching set of bronze fittings from a mid to late Iron Age chariot. As a group of two or more base metal prehistoric artefacts this assemblage is covered under the Treasure Act.

After careful cleaning, decorative patterns are clearly visible in the metalwork - including a triskele motif showing three waving lines, similar to the flag of the Isle of Man.

Treasure Chest

Pictures: Retiree with metal detector finds 1000-year old Viking treasure hoard in Scotland

Image
© Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Darren Webster examines a silver arm-ring he discovered dating from 900 AD which is part of the Silverdale Viking Hoard on December 14, 2011 in London, England. Another hoard of Viking gold and silver artifacts dating back over 1,000 years has been discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland, in a find hailed by experts as one of the country's most significant.
A hoard of Viking gold and silver artifacts dating back over 1,000 years has been discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland, in a find hailed by experts as one of the country's most significant. Derek McLennan, a retired businessman, uncovered the 100 items in a field in Dumfriesshire, southwest Scotland, in September. Amongst the objects is a solid silver cross thought to date from the 9th or 10th century, a silver pot of west European origin, which is likely to have already been 100 years old when it was buried and several gold objects.

"Experts have begun to examine the finds, but it is already clear that this is one of the most significant Viking hoards ever discovered in Scotland," Scotland's Treasure Trove unit said in a statement.

The Viking hoard is McLennan's second significant contribution to Scotland's understanding of its past. Last year, he and a friend unearthed around 300 medieval coins in the same area of Scotland.

Boat

Antikythera shipwreck discoveries cast light on ancient culture

© Flickr
A statute of the goddess Athena with her spear
A team of Greek and international divers and archaeologists have retrieved stunning new discoveries from an ancient Greek ship that sank over 2,000 years ago off the remote island of Antikythera. The rescued antiquities include tableware, ship components and a giant bronze spear that would have belonged to a life-sized warrior statue.

The Antikythera wreck was first discovered back in 1900 by sponge divers who were blown off course by a storm. They subsequently recovered an outstanding haul of ancient treasures including bronze and marble statues, jewellery, furniture, luxury glassware, and the surprisingly complex Antikythera Mechanism. However, they were forced to end their mission prematurely at the 55-meter-deep site after one diver died of the bends and two were paralysed. Ever since, archaeologists have been left wondering if the site is home to even more treasure buried beneath the seabed.

Now a team of international archaeologists including Brendan Foley from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Theotokis Theodoulou from the Hellenic Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities have returned to the treacherous site, this time accompanied with state-of-the-art technology. During the first excavation season, taking place from September 15th to October 7th 2014, the researchers have created a high-resolution, 3D map of the site using stereo cameras mounted on an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Divers proceeded to recover a series of finds that prove that much of the ship's cargo is indeed still preserved beneath the sediment.

Sherlock

Bronze Age sundial-moondial discovered in Russia

© Vodolazhsky D.I.
A slab of rock discovered in Russia and dating to the Bronze Age may have helped ancient skywatchers track the motions of the sun and moon.
A strange slab of rock discovered in Russia more than 20 years ago appears to be a combination sundial and moondial from the Bronze Age, a new study finds.

The slab is marked with round divots arranged in a circle, and an astronomical analysis suggests that these markings coincide with heavenly events, including sunrises and moonrises.

The sundial might be "evidence of attempts of ancient researchers to understand patterns of apparent motion of luminaries and the nature of time," study researcher Larisa Vodolazhskaya of the Archaeoastronomical Research Center at Southern Federal University in Russia told Live Science in an email.

Sherlock

Neolithic village discovered in a lake in Northern Poland

© A. Pydyn
After diving in lake Gil.
The first Stone Age settlement identified in Polish waters has been discovered in the lake Gil Wielki, Iława Lake District (Warmia and Mazury) by underwater archaeologists led by Dr. Andrzej Pydyn from the Department of Underwater Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń.

The discovery was made in the project carried out in cooperation with the Warsaw branch of the Scientific Association of Polish Archaeologists.

"In shallow water in the reservoir we found a large amount of animal bones, remains of tools made of antler and numerous fragments of pottery, used at various times by ancient communities. Among them, the fragments that caught our attention relate to the tradition of late Neolithic, probably associated with the so-called Corded Ware culture" - told PAP Dr. Andrzej Pydyn.

Info

Diver finds evidence showing giants lived in Arkansas

© KFSM News
Fort Smith - A local diver will appear on national television after he was asked to help the History Channel. The program will present evidence from a dive showing giants once lived in Arkansas. It was a two day, 40-foot adventure in July on Beaver Lake for Mike Young from Fort Smith.

"Being the explorer, I had to go look at it," Young said.

Young said he was looking for giants.

"They were between eight to 10 feet long," Young said. "There was one room off to the back that did get pretty tight."

Comment: Evidence proves giant race of humans roamed the Earth

Bizarre skeletons unearthed in Russian mound, satyr and giant horse

Fairy tale giants real, says science: My battle with Snopes

They might be giants! 18ft. tall giant human skeleton found by oil prospector J. Mckinney in Texas!

A giant mystery: 18 strange giant skeletons found in Wisconsin: Sons of god; Men of renown


Blackbox

Rare 'prone' burial in Italy attributed to a 'witch girl'

Image
© Stefano Roascio
The way a person is buried by their community says a lot about how they were perceived in life. For that reason, burial customs are often used by anthropologists to gain a better understanding of how ancient civilisations and the various communities within them once functioned. Even today, there are still such strong ties between a person's religion in life and the burial customs that follow them into death, the alien anthropologists that will one day study us will no doubt appreciate the effort.

Fortunately for us, shaming a person in death, or taking measures against the possibility of supernatural retribution from beyond the grave, is far less common now as it has been in much of human history. An interesting example of this is the rare 'prone burial', which sees the skull of the deceased person being positioned face-down in their grave. The earliest known case of prone burial was found in the Czech Republic and dated to 26,000 years ago, while the most recent one was found in a World War I grave unearthed in Belgium.

Now archaeologists have found a new example of a prone burial - a 13-year-old girl in Italy, buried face-down in a grave facing what once was a church. The girl's remains have yet to be carbon dated, but it's been estimated that she lived some time between the Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, so between 400 and 1,000 AD.