Category Archives: EUROPE

Vandals destroy 3,000-year-old rock carvings in Northern Greece

Vandals destroy 3,000-year-old rock carvings in Northern Greece

Three outrageous acts of vandalism in the first week of January the stupid vandals are accused of lacking education knowledge of history on ancient monuments in Greece England and Wales.

The Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA) notes on Greece’s High Definition, telling how archaeologists and historians in Greece are assessing the level of destruction caused on several 3,000-year-old rock carvings on the Pangaion Hills near Kavala in northern Greece.

In 1966 the ancient art was discovered by Nikolaos Moutsopoulos, a professor at Aristotle University, the ancient art was not yet listed for preservation, and therefore they were vulnerable, if not to vandalism, to the elements, but unfortunately the former got there first.

The rock carvings at Pangaion Hills before the vandalism.

Some of the ancient rock carvings are thought to have been executed in the prehistoric era by the Hedones, a Thracian tribe that lived in the region in ancient times, and the site was added to until the Middle Ages.

The gang of yet unknown vandals defaced several carvings, including human figures doing day-to-day things, animals and plants, using a wire brush. While the archaeologists have not specified how many individual carvings were destroyed, or how many remain intact, they are calling for the immediate protection of the surviving works of ancient art.

Theodoros Lymberakis, a local lawyer and historian, told the ANA-MPA that the rock carvings are a part of “our rich and significant cultural heritage” and inform us about how people lived 3,000 years ago. Angered, the historian added: “culture is not just the Acropolis and other famous monuments, it is also these drawings,” and he insists they need to be safeguarded now.

Another shot of the vandalism to the ancient rock carvings at Pangaion Hills.

Attempting to draw a criminal profile of the criminals, Mr. Lymberakismay thinks the artworks might have been destroyed by gold prospectors trying to confuse their competition, as many people believe ancient settlers made the carvings to identify gold deposits on what he calls ore-rich hills.

According to the lawyer, it is sad that these petroglyphs are being destroyed by “unscrupulous and ignorant people at the altar of what is usually non-existent treasure” and that the perpetrators lack “education, knowledge, and understanding of history.”

Also, this week another person or group suffering from lowered levels of education, knowledge, and understanding of history painted “aliens” on the ancient stones at Mulfra Quoit, a megalithic tomb, near the town of Penzance in southwest England.

A Coast to Coast article says that the Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network posted a photo of the vandalism on their  Facebook group writing “one wonders at the mentality of people who will disrespect an ancient site in this way!”

The vandalism caused the ancient Mulfra Quoit tomb shown with alien graffiti.

It is believed that the stereotypically alien figures painted on the rock at Mulfra Quoit were inspired by the fringe theory that the ancient structures were built by extraterrestrials, or by humans honoring visiting aliens in prehistory.

Because indigenous people couldn’t have done it themselves? Right? And while the gray painted “aliens” can be removed with little effort, because it is a protected location cleaning work will have to be done by government-approved professionals, which takes time and costs money.

The Greek treasure hunters and the ancient alienists in England come in second and third this week, for the trophy of ‘Biggest Prat 2020, So far…’ must go to the vandals reported by the BBC after they caused “appalling damage” to a Bronze Age burial mound dating back 3,000-4,000 years, sometime between Christmas Day and 6 January.

Wentwood represents the largest section of ancient woodland in Wales and several Bronze Age burial mounds encrust its ridges, and the Gwent Police Rural Crime Team said the destruction was caused by off-road vehicles repeatedly driving over the ancient mound.

The vandalism of the Bronze Age burial mound, which was churned up with tire tracks shown in Wales, UK.

Site manager Rob Davies said this type of vandalism has been “an ongoing problem with damage to this and similar features within Wentwood” and the police tweeted: “investigating appalling damage caused to a Bronze Age burial mound by off-road vehicles. Immediate intervention measures being introduced to prevent further damage.”

Remains of missing World War II pilot from Benson identified in France

Remains of missing World War II pilot from Benson identified in France

The traces of a Western Minnesota pilot of World War II who was killed 75 years ago during the D-Day have been identified.

On Wednesday, the Defense POW / MIA Accounting Agency announced the remains of U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. William J. McGowan, 23, of Benson, was identified on May 13.

Remains of missing World War II pilot from Benson identified in France
U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. William J. McGowan is shown in an undated photo from the World War II era. Killed in a plane crash in France during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, his remains have been identified.

McGowan will be buried July 26 at the Normandy American Cemetery in France.

McGowan was a 391st Fighter Squadron member, 366th Fighter Group, 9th United States Air Force. Air force. On the day of the D day, when the P47 Thunderbolt crashed on a mission near the city of Saint-Lô, France, he was killed June 6, 1944.

In 1947, based on information from a French citizen, the American Graves Registration Command investigated a crash site near the village of Moon-sur-Elle that was possibly associated with McGowan’s loss.

An investigator traveled to the site and learned from witnesses that the aircraft burned for more than a full day after impact and it had been embedded deeply into the ground.

A Defense Department team removed wreckage from the impact crater but failed to locate McGowan’s remains. As a result, on Dec. 23, 1947, his remains were declared nonrecoverable.

In 2010, a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Agency traveled to Moon-sur-Elle to interview witnesses and survey the crash site. During the survey, the team found numerous pieces of aircraft debris and recommended the site for excavation.

In July and August 2018, excavation of the site led to possible remains, which were sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.

Dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence, were used to identify McGowan’s remains.

McGowan’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Colleville-Sur-Mer, France.

A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently, there are 72,639 service members still unaccounted for from World War II with approximately 30,000 assessed as possibly recoverable.

Massive Roman Villa Found in British Backyard

Massive Roman Villa Found in British Backyard

This began out as a bit of basic home improvement, which ended up with the finding of one of the biggest Roman Villas ever to be found in the UK. While laying an electricity cable beneath the grounds of his home, near the village of Tisbury, in Wiltshire, Luke Irwin found the remains of what appeared to be an ornate Roman Mosaic.

Yet it was even more shocking that there was an excavation by archeologists from Historic Great Britain and the Salisbury Museum. They found the mosaic was part of the floor of a much larger Roman property, similar in size and structure to the great Roman villa at Chedworth.

But in a move that will surprise many, the remains – some of the most important to be found in decades – have now been re-buried, as Historic England cannot afford to fully excavate and preserve such an extensive site.

Dr David Roberts, the archaeologist for Historic England, said:  “This site has not been touched since its collapse 1400 years ago and, as such, is of enormous importance. Without question, this is a hugely valuable site in terms of research, with incredible potential.

“The discovery of such an elaborate and extraordinarily well-preserved villa, undamaged by agriculture for over 1500 years, is unparalleled in recent years. Overall, the excellent preservation, large scale and complexity of this site present a unique opportunity to understand Roman and post-Roman Britain.”

Excavations at the site revealed a large Roman property, similar in size and structure to Chedworth

He added: “Unfortunately, it would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to fully excavate and the preserve the site, which cannot be done with the current pressures.

“We would very much like to go back and carry out more digs to further our understanding of the site. But it’s a question of raising the money and taking our time, because as with all archaeological work there is the risk of destroying the very thing you seek to uncover.” 

Mr Irwin, a Dublin-born designer who makes hand-made silk, wool and cashmere rugs, made the fortunate find last summer while laying electricity cables beneath a stretch of ground to the rear of his property, so that his children could play table tennis under lighting in an old barn.

An artist’s impression of how the site would have looked

His builders had barely begun to dig a trench for the cables when they hit something solid, just 18 inches below the surface. On closer inspection it appeared to be a section of a Roman mosaic in remarkably good condition. Intrigued, Mr Irwin called in experts from the Wiltshire Archaeology Service, Historic England (formerly English Heritage) and nearby Salisbury Museum. 

Further exploratory excavation of the site – now known as the Deverill Villa after the name of Mr Irwin’s 17th-century house – revealed surviving sections of walls, one and a half metres in height, confirming that the mosaic formed part of a grand villa, thought to have been three storeys in height, its grounds extending over 100 metres in width and length.

It is thought the villa, which had around 20 to 25 rooms on the ground floor alone, was built sometime between 175 AD and 220 AD, and was repeatedly re-modelled right up until the mid – 4th century. The remains at Deverill are similar to those found at Chedworth, in Gloucestershire, suggesting that the building belonged to a family of significant wealth and importance. 

A Roman coin found at the site

Chedworth was built as a dwelling around three sides of a courtyard, with a fine mosaic floor, as well as two separate bathing suites – one for damp-heat and one for dry-heat. The villa was discovered in 1864, and it was excavated and put on display soon afterwards. It was acquired by the National Trust in 1924.

The discovery at Mr Irwin’s home also revealed a number of fascinating objects from the Roman period. Among the artefacts discovered during the excavations were a perfectly preserved Roman well, underfloor heating pipes and the stone coffin of a Roman child. Another was the stone coffin of a Roman child, which had long been used by the inhabitants of the adjoining house as a flower pot, most recently for geraniums.

Also found were discarded oyster shells, which would have had to be transported over 45 miles from the coast– further evidence of the villa would have been the home of a wealthy and important family. Archaeologists believe that during the post-Roman period timber structures were erected within the ruins of the once-ornate villa.

One of the discarded oyster shells

They say further research of what was found at Deverill would  throw light on what remains one of the least understood periods of British history – between fall of the Roman Empire and the completion of Saxon domination in the 7th century.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, one of Britain’s leading historians said: “This remarkable Roman villa, with its baths and mosaics uncovered by chance, is a large, important and very exciting discovery that reveals so much about the luxurious lifestyle of a rich Romano British family at the height of the empire.

“It is an amazing thought that so much has survived almost two millennia.”  Mr Irwin was inspired by his discovery to create a series of rugs based around the theme of the Roman mosaic he unearthed. His collection will be put on display at his showroom in central London.

A child’s coffin found at the site

He said: “When I held some of the tessaras, the mosaic tiles that were found, in the palm of my hand, the history of the place felt tangible, like an electric shock. The brilliance of their colours was just extraordinary, especially as they have been buried for so long.

“To think that someone lived on this site 1,500 years ago is almost overwhelming. You look out at an empty field from your front door, and yet centuries ago one of the biggest homes in all of Britain at the time was standing there.”

But while the artefacts have been removed and are now in the care of Salisbury Museum, the remains of the villa and its mosaics have been re-buried and grassed over to protect them from the elements. To expose and preserve the mosaics and fragments of walls would be prohibitively expensive and beyond the budget of Salisbury Museum. Even if it was financially possible, Mr Irwin does not want his garden turned into an open-air museum.

Greek Sponge Divers find the Worlds Oldest Analog Computer

Greek Sponge Divers find the Worlds Oldest Analog Computer

When you ask someone who invented the computer they might say, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. They would, of course, be wrong. Perhaps they might mention Alan Turing (who proposed a “Universal Computing Museum”) or the US Navy’s WWII era Torpedo Data Computer. But computers, which were initially conceived of as calculating devices, are much older than that and older than the modern world.

An analog computer, an old Greek device designed for the calculation of astronomical position, is the oldest Antikythera mechanism computer in the world. And now media outlets are reporting that a lost piece, which somehow survived looters, has been discovered on the Aegean Seabed.

The Antikythera Mechanism was lost over 2,200 years ago when the cargo ship carrying it was shipwrecked off the coast of the small Greek island of Antikythera (which is located between Kythera and Crete).

The rear face of the Antikythera mechanism.
The rear face of the Antikythera mechanism.

The Mechanism was initially discovered in 1901 when Greek sponge divers found an encrusted greenish lump. They brought the mechanism, which they believed to be a rock, to archaeologist Valerios Stais at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Over the ensuing decades the site was looted, trampled on by explorers, and, in 1976, the famous French explorer Jean-Jacques Cousteau inadvertently destroyed much of what remained of the ship’s hull.

Initially, no one knew to want the lump was. Two millennia had eaten away at the ship and its cargo. Stais’ cousin, Spyridon Stais, a former mathematician, was the first to identify the gears in the mechanism.

It was only with the development of advanced x-ray technology and the collaboration of numerous individuals (from Cousteau to modern historians of science like Alexander Jones) that the heavily corroded rock was revealed to be a technologically advanced calculator.

How advanced? The second century BCE Mechanism could do basic math, calculate the movements of the sun and moon, track the movements of the constellations and planets, and predict eclipses and equinoxes.

It contains over thirty hand-worked cogs, dozens more than the average luxury Swiss watch. It may not have the faculties of an iPhone but it is more than a simple calculator.

In 2012, almost 50 years after Cousteau’s excavations, a new team of underwater archaeologists returned to re-examine the site.

They discovered hundreds of previously unnoted artifacts, including bronze and marble statues, furniture, coins, and a sarcophagus lid. But last year, on the seabed, they discovered something else: an encrusted corroded disk about 8cm in diameter.

X-ray analysis has revealed that the disk bears an engraving of the zodiac sign Taurus, the bull.

The discovery of a piece of the world’s oldest analog computer would be a huge and remarkable discovery on its own terms. But it has additional significance in what it can tell us about the development of the field of archaeology itself.

As Sarah Bond, an associate professor of Classics at the University of Iowa, told The Daily Beast “The Antikythera Mechanism is an important object in the historical record of ancient technology, but is also a prism for tracking the development of archaeology as a professional field … It reveals the advanced astrological instruments created and used by ancient engineers, but the protracted nature of the undersea dig reveals archaeological advances in scanning, 3D modeling, and many other sophisticated approaches in reconstructing and analyzing ‘the computer’.” Elsewhere Bond has written about the unseen labor of the divers who engaged in the risky work that discovered the original Mechanism.

Other scholars have exhibited concern that the discovery of the new disk is being sensationalized. On social media, David Meadows and Michael Press have rightly pointed out that the year-old discovery is only making news because of the sensational claim that it belongs to the Antikythera Mechanism.

It is difficult to say precisely what this new piece is; it might be part of the original Antikythera Mechanism or part of a second similar device.

The presence of the bull engraving suggests that it may have predicted the position of the constellation of Taurus but it is difficult to say.

While scientific study continues,  the discovery has drawn attention to both the existence of this ancient ‘calculator’ and its amazing history

Reburied Medieval Remains Unearthed in Norway

Reburied Medieval Remains Unearthed in Norway

In summer, a somewhat unexpected traces of a large cemetery from the Middle Ages appeared in archaeological excavations in Kjøpmannsgata Norway.

Excavation work in connection with new building schemes took place in Kjøpmannsgata in 2019. As with all new builds in Norway, an archaeological examination of the site in central Trondheim has taken place.

The most highlighted work so far is the unelected cemetery. It’s surprising not only for its location but for its size. To date, 15 individual graves and three pit graves have been found.

The team of NIKU archaeologists is currently working in Trondheim.

Heads were turned last summer when one of these pits was uncovered. It contained the human remains of an estimated 200 people. It is believed these remains were excavated from other cemeteries and reburied here during development work sometime in the 17th century. Two more pit graves have since been found.

As it doesn’t appear on any maps, it is not yet known when this cemetery was built or for how long it has been in use. These are some of the questions archaeologists are hoping to answer during the investigation.

A team from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) is currently working on the site of the former Kjøpmannsgata cemetery under a heated tent.

Archaeologists are closely studying a 12-square-meter area of the cemetery. Although 15 graves have been found so far, they expect the final count to be up to 30. Of those found far, seven were adults, five were children, with three yet to be excavated.

“There are probably even more graves further down. All of these individual graves are in situ, i.e. located in the same place as when they were buried, but several have been partially destroyed. In many cases, only the upper body has been preserved.

The lower half can be cut by, for example, other graves being laid over or by later excavation work.” Those were the words of NIKU project manager Silje Rullestad.

The cemetery has been clearly impacted by several stages of building work, but the team can nevertheless see a clear structure. The northern boundary of the area appears to be marked by a ditch, while four post holes suggest a clear boundary mark.

“This collection and reburial of bones must have been an extensive job,” says archaeologist Monica Svendsen. She is responsible for the digital mapping and documentation of the excavation.

She explains that all three pits consist of deep wooden boxes filled with human bones. They Replaced parallel to the trench that archaeologists assume marks the medieval demarcation of the cemetery.

At the same time as the cemetery excavation is underway, a survey will also be conducted. In collaboration with COWI, NIKU will systematically take samples of soil and human bones to survey soil and biochemical conditions in the cemetery soil.

“From the archaeological excavation of the St. Clement’s Church churchyard, large variations in the degree of conservation of the skeletons were observed. We also see the same here in Kjøpmannsgata. Using the study, we will try to map out why the differences in conservation conditions vary within small distances,” says Rullestad.

The survey could provide a better understanding of the conditions that affect the preservation of human remains.