All posts by Archaeology World Team

Bones of Handless Man Found Near Mysterious Medieval Dolphin Burial

Bones of Handless Man Found Near Mysterious Medieval Dolphin Burial

The body of a man without hands thought to have been buried hundreds of years ago has been found by archaeologists on a rocky islet off the coast of Guernsey, one of the British Channel Islands — just a few feet from where a mysterious medieval skeleton of a dolphin was found last year.

Phil De Jersey, a Guernsey government archaeologist, said the skeleton of the handless man appeared to have been buried much later than the baffling burial of that dolphin skeleton on the same islet, and therefore the two burials probably aren’t related.But he said that the latest find added much to the mystery of the rocky islet of Chapelle Dom Hue.

The islet lies about 900 feet (300 meters) from the west coast of Guernsey, overlooking the sea and the stones of a Neolithic burial ground on the mainland of the island.

The human remains appear to have been buried several hundred years ago on the islet of Chapelle Dom Hue.
The human remains appear to have been buried several hundred years ago on the islet of Chapelle Dom Hue.

 Though Chapelle Dom Hue is only about 50 feet (10 m) across today — so small that the sea at high tide cuts it into two pieces — archaeologists say it was once larger; during the medieval period, the islet was home to a colony of a few reclusive Christian monks, they said.

The archaeological team first thought the skeleton found this year might have been that of a monk who had suffered from leprosy, which might account for the missing wrists and hands, De Jersey told Live Science.

But some details of the remains of the man’s clothes — especially the shirt buttons — made the researchers think that the body was buried in the 16th or 17th century, well after Chapelle Dom Hue was occupied by monks.”Our working hypothesis at the moment is that this is a drowning, or a body washed up,” De Jersey said.

“It was given a quick but relatively respectful Christian burial at the spot where it got washed up on that island.”

Dolphin burial

Last year, De Jersey reported that his team had found a dolphin skeleton that appeared to have been buried on the island sometime during the Middle Ages when monks had lived there.

The human remains were buried only about 30 feet from the mysterious skeleton of a dolphin, found last year, that had been buried sometime in the Middle Ages.
The human remains were buried only about 30 feet from the mysterious skeleton of a dolphin, found last year, that had been buried sometime in the Middle Ages.

The carefully buried skeleton perplexed the archaeologists because it might have easily been just dumped in the sea a few yards away, without the trouble of a burial.

The dolphin carcass, De Jersey said, might have been buried with salt to preserve it for eating, and then forgotten; or perhaps it was regarded as a holy animal — although his research has not revealed why a dolphin would be regarded as holy at that time and place.

Subsequent studies of the dolphin skeleton tended to confirm that it was buried on the islet in the early 1400s, but no further light had been shed on the mysterious burial, he told Live Science.

The human burial on the island had come to light in the last few months as a small cliff had weathered away, about 30 feet (10 m) from the site where the dolphin skeleton had been found, he said. Eventually, the weathering revealed the upper part of a foot and toe bones.

Archaeologists then excavated the site and found the remains of a man about 5 feet tall, but without any hands or wrist bones.

Mystery man

De Jersey now thinks the human body washed up on the islet and was buried there some time in the 1500s or 1600s.

Archaeologists think the remains may be of a seaman who drowned and floated at sea before being washed up on the islet.
Archaeologists think the remains may be of a seaman who drowned and floated at sea before being washed up on the islet.

The hands of bodies that have drifted at sea are often eaten by fish; in fact, the skull of the body showed signs of damage that could have happened when it drifted up among rocks on the shore. The lower part of the left arm is also missing, but “the feet have survived relatively well, perhaps because it had some sort of footwear,” he said.

The archaeological team will try to get a radiocarbon date on the skeleton, but the remains of a few buttons on his shirt suggest that it was later than the medieval period.”

Buttons in the early medieval period were quite rare and unusual, and these look to me like something later that might have been part of a sailor’s dress,” he said. So far, the dolphin and human skeletons are the only skeletal remains found in the islet of Chapelle Dom Hue, but De Jersey won’t rule out the possibility that there still may be bones to find: “There is not a huge amount of space over there left to find more things, but who knows?”

“There was a little bit of excavation done there by an archaeologist in the 1890s,” De Jersey said. “He wrote about it, and said that he didn’t think it was worth going back there again because there was nothing more to be said about the place — and I quite like that because, really, how wrong could he be?”

Uncovered Viking Funeral Ship In Scotland Contains Treasure Trove Of Ancient Relics

Uncovered Viking Funeral Ship In Scotland Contains Treasure Trove Of Ancient Relics

A boat which for 1,000 years served as the grave of a high-status Viking has revealed some of its secrets, according to the first detailed report of the iconic discovery.

The tomb, originally unearthed in 2011 on the Ardnamurchan peninsula in western Scotland, contained a rich assemblage of grave goods. It represents the first undisturbed Viking boat burial found on the British mainland.

Viking boat burials have been documented in Scandinavian countries, but are fairly rare. They involve using the boat as a coffin for the body. Archaeologists estimate the boat used to bury the deceased dates back to the late 9th or early 10th century, at a time when Vikings were still exploring and trading along the British Isles.

An in-depth investigation, published in the journal Antiquity, has revealed much of the Viking funerary rite involved in the burial at this remote part of Scotland. However, some mystery remains. The ship rotted into the soil long ago, like the bones of the interred individual.

Only two teeth (both molars) remain of the human. The absence of a body which researchers can biologically sex might raise the compelling, albeit remote, possibility that it was a female boat grave.

“The burial is probably that of a man — but as we only have the two teeth surviving, it is impossible to be definitive. So it is possible, but not likely, that this was the burial of a woman,” Oliver Harris, co-director of the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project (ATP) at the University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History, told Seeker.

Some finds recovered from the grave (clockwise from the top left): broad-bladed axe, shield boss, ringed pin and hammer and tongs.
Some finds recovered from the grave (clockwise from the top left): broad-bladed axe, shield boss, ringed pin and hammer and tongs.

The funerary rite began with cutting a boat-shaped depression into a natural mound of small, rounded beach stones. The boat was then inserted and the body was placed inside, surrounded by a variety of artifacts including a sword, an axe, a drinking horn vessel, a shield boss, a ladle, a sickle, and a ringed pin.

“There is nothing female per se in the grave, though of course there are lots of objects — sickle, the ladle, the knife, the ringed pin — that are not male either,” Harris said.

The grave was filled to the top with stones which may have been taken from a nearby Neolithic burial cairn (a human-made pile of stones).”The final artifacts found in the boat, the spear and shield boss, were higher in the burial, deposited as part of the closure of the monument,” the researchers wrote.

The spearhead was deliberately broken before being deposited, indicating some form of ritual associated with the burial process. The archaeologists also recovered 213 of the boat’s rivets. From the outline of the boat impressed into the soil, they established the boat measured 16 feet in length and would have been a small rowing boat, probably accompanying a larger ship.

Isotopic analysis of the teeth suggests the deceased likely grew up in Scandinavia. It also showed that between the age of 3 and 5 the person’s diet switched for about a year from meat to fish, an unusual food supply at that time.”The switch in the diet probably shows there was some shortage of food for a period of time leading people to eat more fish,” Harris said.

Most importantly, the Viking boat burial reveals the growing relationship between Scotland and the Viking world at that time. It brings together multiple geographic connections, as shown by the grave goods.

A whetstone, used to cut and sharpen tools, was made from a rock that is found in Norway, while the bronze ring pin, likely used to fasten a burial cloak or shroud, appears to come from Ireland.”The burial evokes the mundane and the exotic, past and present, as well as local, national and international identities,” the researchers wrote.

According to Colleen Batey, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Glasgow, the grave goods within the find are very significant.”A sword with shield boss, spearhead and ax are a complete weapon set — which is not so common. And the ladle is an exceptional and uncommon find,” she told Seeker. She added that there is nothing in the burial boat which would support the identification of the interred individual being a female.

However, Viking female boat burials have been excavated in the past. Batey has just published details about a boat grave from Shetland, in the Scottish Islands, which may well have been for a female, or at least one of the occupants may have been a woman, buried with her oval brooch.

One of the most famous Viking ship burials was excavated in 1945 in the Isle of Man at Balladoole. This boat burial contained a man, as well as a woman who had been sacrificed in order to be added to the grave.

Source: allthatsinteresting

Mummy Found Hiding Inside Ancient Buddha Statue

Mummified monk revealed inside 1,000-year-old Buddha statue

 

 The unusual contents of the statue were discovered in the 1990s when the statue underwent restoration
The unusual contents of the statue were discovered in the 1990s when the statue underwent restoration

Scientific tests have revealed that an ancient Buddhist statue contains a 1,000-year – old mummified monk’s perfectly preserved remains in what is thought to be the only such example in the world.

The monk, who is sitting in the lotus position, is thought to have starved himself to death in an act of extreme spiritual devotion in China or Tibet in the 10th century. His preserved remains were displayed in his monastery.

Some 200 years later, perhaps after his remains started to deteriorate, his mummified body was placed inside the elaborate, lacquered statue of Buddha.

The unusual contents of the statue were discovered in the 1990s when the statue underwent restoration. Experts were unable to remove the mummy due to the risk of disintegration, so they could do little more than peer into the darkened cavity of the Buddha.

Now, an international team of German, Dutch and Italian scientists has conducted a CAT scan which revealed the monk’s skeleton in perfect detail.

“It was not uncommon for monks to practise self-mummification but to find a mummified monk inside a statue is really extraordinary,” said Wilfrid Rosendahl, a German palaeontologist who led the research.

“It’s the only known example in the world.”Using a CAT scan, we saw that there was a perfectly preserved body with skin and muscles inside the statue. It’s a complete mummy, not just a skeleton. He was aged between 30 and 50.”

The mummy has been studied by an interdisciplinary team of experts, including radio carbon dating specialists and textile analysts, at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

Using an endoscope, experts took samples from inside the mummy’s thoracic and abdominal cavities and discovered that the monk’s organs had been removed and replaced with ancient wads of paper printed with Chinese characters.

The scientists have conducted a CAT scan which revealed the monk's skeleton in perfect detail.
The scientists have conducted a CAT scan which revealed the monk’s skeleton in perfect detail. 

Samples of bone were also taken for DNA testing. The Buddha statue was bought several decades ago on the art market by a Dutch private collector, who had no idea that the mummy was hidden inside. It will go on display in museums around Europe, and is currently in the Natural History Museum in Budapest.” The monk died in a process of self-mummification,” said Dr. Rosendahl.

It was not uncommon for monks to practise self-mummification but to find a mummified monk inside a statue is really extraordinary," said Wilfrid Rosendahl
It was not uncommon for monks to practise self-mummification but to find a mummified monk inside a statue is really extraordinary,” said Wilfrid Rosendahl

During the last weeks, he would have started eating less food and drinking only water. Eventually, he would have gone into a trance, stopped breathing and died.

He basically starved himself to death.”The other monks would have put him close to a fire to dry him out and put him on display in the monastery, we think somewhere in China or Tibet.”

He was probably sitting for 200 years in the monastery and the monks then realized that he needed a bit of support and preservation so they put him inside the statue.”Mummified monks were not only the focus of religious devotion but important for the economy of the monastery because they attracted pilgrims who would offer donations.

The mummy has been studied by an interdisciplinary team of experts, including radio carbon dating specialists and textile analysts, at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.
The mummy has been studied by an interdisciplinary team of experts, including radio carbon dating specialists and textile analysts, at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

Source: livescience

30,000 Imperial Artifacts Discovered in Brazil

30,000 Imperial Artifacts Discovered in Brazil

While working to renovate Rio de Janeiro’s zoo, workers found historical artifacts dating back to Brazil’s imperial past at the Quinta da Boa Vista park, in the northern part of the city.

Workers found over 30,000 artifacts from Brazil’s Imperial era at the RioZoo.
Workers found over 30,000 artifacts from Brazil’s Imperial era at the RioZoo.

Classified as an ‘archaeological treasure’ by Rio’s city government, the more than 30,000 items found are believed to be from the beginning of the 19th century to the first years of the 20th century.

Among the items found are plates, cutlery, pieces of clothes and uniforms with the imperial insignia and other belongings of employees of the Imperial Family.

“We believe that many objects were donated by the palace to the residents of the surrounding area. It (donations) worked as sort of a good neighbor policy,” says archaeologist Filipe André Coelho.

According to Coelho, that region was a village of officials, free and enslaved workers, as well as military personnel.

“We discovered a more noble pottery that has paintings, which was not common among the poorest population,” explains the archaeologist.

The area, which today houses the RioZoo and the National Museum, was where the Portuguese Royal Family resided, during the reigns of Pedro I and Pedro II. The empire lasted from 1822 to 1889.

The RioZoo has been under renovation since June of last year, and is partially open to visitation.

Its reinaguration is expected to take place in January of 2020. According to officials, part of the objects will be exhibited at the new zoo.

Most of the artifacts, however, will be integrated into the collection at the National Museum, being rebuilt after the devastating September 2018 fire.

According to the city the archaeological site will be preserved and opened for visitation as soon as the archeologists have concluded their work.

Medieval Child Skeletons Unearthed in Northern Ireland

Medieval Child Skeletons Unearthed in Northern Ireland

Among 14 skeletons uncovered in an ancient burial ground within meters of St Patrick’s grave, the remains of a young child and a teenager.

The medieval skeletons were Discovered beside Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down, in August 2018.

Archaeologists first thought they had found the lost cemetery of Thirteenth-Century Benedictine monks.

But they have said the oldest skeleton is that of a five or 6-year-old child who died almost 1,000 years ago.

Archaeologist Brian Sloan believes there is "more to be found" in Downpatrick
Archaeologist Brian Sloan believes there is “more to be found” in Downpatrick

The most recent skeleton is that of a young woman, believed to be a late adolescent, buried between 1317 and 1429. Experts said she was suffering from severe tooth abscesses at the time of her death and believe she may have traveled to the on-site monastery in search of medicine or prayer.

A community dig was led by archaeologists from Queen’s University in Belfast, working with volunteers to prepare the ground for the erection of a replica high cross.

Visitors from around the world flocked to the area as the dig unfolded.

‘Rich picture of medieval life’

In the buried kitchen of a 13th century Benedictine Abbey, as well as a flint tool dating back to about 7,000 BC, ancient pottery and animal bones were also recovered. Also found were blackberry seeds, sloe pips, fish bones, and bread-making charred wheat grains.

Medieval jugs found during the dig have been carefully pieced together
Medieval jugs found during the dig have been carefully pieced together

Excavation director Brian Sloan said subsequent analysis, including radiocarbon dating of 3 of the skeletons, had uncovered a “rich picture of medieval life”.Although analysis of the skeletons is ongoing, he said evidence showed the young child had lived and died before the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1177 AD.

He said the young woman had lived sometime between 1317-1429 AD when the site was occupied by the Benedictine Abbey.

Mr. Sloan said the other archaeological finds had offered an insight into life in the abbey and a glimpse into an 8th Century Christian monastic site.”We can use this evidence to build up a picture of the diet and everyday activities of the monks who lived and prayed here,” he added.”

An arrow head from 12th or 13th Centuries is among other items found during the excavation.
An arrow head from 12th or 13th Centuries is among other items found during the excavation

The large pottery shards have been painstakingly pieced together at Queen’s University Belfast giving an idea of the shape, size, and decoration of the vessels.”A rich environmental picture is being established through the processing of the soil samples taken during the excavation.”

Metalwork recovered from an ancient pit has also been analyzed and include fine copper alloy dress pins, a socketed arrowhead, a horseshoe, a pair of iron shears and a length of chain with a suspension hook still attached.

A number of items are now on display in the High Cross Gallery at Down County Museum in Downpatrick, in two new cases funded by the British Museum Trust, while research work continues on the collection of artifacts, dating from the Mesolithic (c. 7000 BC) period.

Mr. Sloan added: “This is fantastic as Downpatrick has almost been ignored from an archaeological and historical point of view.”It has got my blood flowing. I believe there is more to be found.”