A Cache of 18th-Century Rockets Discovered in India

A Cache of 18th-Century Rockets Discovered in India

 This photo taken on July 25, 2018 shows Indian archeologists and onlookers standing over a pile of some of the hundreds of 18th century rockets excavated by the Indian Department of Archaeology in Nagara village in Shimoga district, in the southwestern Indian state of Karnataka.
This photo taken on July 25, 2018 shows Indian archeologists and onlookers standing over a pile of some of the hundreds of 18th century rockets excavated by the Indian Department of Archaeology in Nagara village in Shimoga district, in the southwestern Indian state of Karnataka.

Recently, an interesting discovery was made in southern India following the recovery of more than 1,000 unexploded rockets from the 18th century by a group of archeologists.

The rockets were found in a well that once formed part of the Karnataka federal state’s Nagara Fort, in an area that historically belongs to the Mysore Kingdom.

The discovery itself was accidental, as the well was being renovated when the workers found the stored weaponry.

As for the stronghold ― it belonged to Tipu Sultan, an 18th century King of Mysore who defied the British East India Company for most of his adult life, finally falling a victim to battle in 1799, during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War.

After the conflict and the death of their leader, the rebellious kingdom succumbed to British rule.

Fast-forward to 2018 and an excavation of the well, which took place from July 25th to 27th.

Tipu Sultan confronts his opponents during the Siege of Srirangapatna.
Tipu Sultan confronts his opponents during the Siege of Srirangapatna.

Assistant director of the Karnataka Department of Archaeology, Museums, and Heritage, R. Shejeshwara Nayaka, gave an official statement for the AFP, regarding this incredible find: “Excavation of the open well led to the unearthing of over 1,000 corroded rockets that were stored during Tipu’s times for use in wars.

Digging of the dry well where its mud was smelling like gunpowder led to the discovery of the rockets and shells in a pile.”They were an essential weapon of Tipu Sultan’s army, providing him the edge he needed against a technologically advanced opponent.

Cannon used by Tipu Sultan’s forces at the battle of Srirangapatna, 1799.
Cannon used by Tipu Sultan’s forces at the battle of Srirangapatna, 1799.

Nayaka, who was in charge of a 15-member team of archaeologists, excavators, and laborers, gave a short history of these primitive, yet deadly missiles: “Records say that Tipu Sultan’s father, Hyder Ali, was the first to use metal-cased rockets. He also had an armory and factory at Nagara Fort, a strategically very important city.

There is a strong possibility that this site was used as a storage point or a factory for the rockets.”The rockets were discovered with traces of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and magnesium powder, bringing the scientists one step closer to determining the exact chemical mixture which was used to propel the 12 and 14 inches long (23 and 26 centimeters) metal cylinders during battle.

Among the 1,000 pieces of ammunition, the archaeologists managed to find parts of what seems to be some sort of an assembly machine used for rocket production.

This sheds new light on the technology which is considered to be the first ever successful use of rockets in warfare, pioneering the invention which would not only influence the future of combat, but also the future of space travel.

Therefore, Tipu Sultan’s secret rocket stash has now become a hot topic among archaeologists and scientists who are curious as to how this weapon worked and how effective it really was on the battlefield.

Tipu Sultan
Tipu Sultan

Apart from use in battle, the Mysorean rockets were used in ceremonies, celebrating victories against the British, as well as diplomatic agreements with the French, who were actively supporting Tipu Sultan’s cause during the 1790s.

By some accounts, around 500 of them were fired as part of a salute for the French-sponsored Jacobin Club of Mysore who visited the capital of the Indian realm in 1794, forming an alliance which certainly shook the British, urging them to react quickly.

Nevertheless, the war crushed the Mysorean Kingdom and with it, its defiant monarch, Tipu Sultan. With the knowledge gained after almost a decade of warfare with the Indians, Her Majesty’s British troops brought something home with them.

The Mysorean invention evolved into the Congreve rocket ― a fierce artillery piece which was actively used by the British during the later stages of the Napoleonic Wars, and contributed to the ultimate British victory at Waterloo.

Source: atlasobscura

7,000-year-old Native American burial site found off Florida

7,000-year-old Native American burial site found off Florida

The site was discovered by an amateur diver who was looking for shark teeth but stumbled on an ancient jawbone.

Archeologist Ryan Duggins noticed a worn – down molar tooth attached to the jawbone in a picture sent from the diver. This suggested it belonged to a prehistoric person.

State officials in Florida called finding an “unprecedented discovery.” The site began to be investigated by Duggins and his team from the “Archaic Period” located 900 ft (275 m) from the shore.

The burial grounds are expected to cover about 32,000 sq feet (3,000 sq meters) off the coast of Manasota Key.

One of the stakes excavated at Manasota Key Offshore revealed a notch in its length, it is not yet known what the notch was for
One of the stakes excavated at Manasota Key Offshore revealed a notch in its length, it is not yet known what the notch was for

Underwater, the team discovered densely packed organic remains, human bones, and sharpened wooden stakes and textile fragments, according to National Geographic.”

Seeing a 7,000-year-old site that is so well preserved in the Gulf of Mexico is awe-inspiring,”

In a Florida State Department press release, Mr. Duggins said, “We are truly humiliated by this experience.

“The site is believed to have been preserved in a freshwater pond thousands of years ago when water levels were 30ft (9m) lower, according to the press release.

The pond had a bottom covered in peat, which reportedly slowed the process of organic decay and allowed for the preservation of human remains.

“Our hope is that this discovery leads to more knowledge and a greater understanding of Florida’s early peoples,” said Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

The state said they are working closely with Native American tribes to ensure the proper treatment of the bones.

“We are happy to be working, shoulder to shoulder, with the Bureau of Archaeological Research and the residents of Manasota Key to identify a preservation plan that will allow the ancestors to continue to rest peacefully and without human disturbance for the next 7,000 years”, the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s historic preservation officer Paul Backhouse told the Bradenton Herald newspaper.

“The highest priority of all involved is to honor tribal beliefs and customs with respect to this ancestral resting place,” said the Florida Department of State.

Florida archaeologists have discovered other evidence of the Archaic period but say this discovery is remarkable because the site survived offshore through hurricanes and erosion.

“The vast majority of underwater archaeological projects have historically been focused on shipwrecks,” Mr. Duggins told National Geographic.

Source: smithsonianmag

Archaeological report on findings from Roman fort at Hadrian’s Wall

An archaeological report on findings from Roman fort at Hadrian’s Wall

Segedunum Roman Fort and Museum—A new archaeological report hailed as the definitive full account of the excavations of Hadrian’s Wall at its eastern end has just been published.

Hadrian’s Wall at Wallsend is written by Paul Bidwell OBE, former Head of Archaeology at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), and encapsulates the knowledge gleaned from 28 years of intermittent excavations around Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend in North Tyneside. 

Taking place between 1988 and 2015, these digs culminated in the Treasury-funded project that saw the rediscovery of the fort’s baths as well as the public display of the full stretch of Wall remains.

The Hadrian’s Wall at Wallsend report represents an account of one of the most comprehensively excavated sections of Hadrian’s Wall anywhere along its 73-mile length.

Paul Bidwell, author, and President of The Arbeia Society said: “It has been a privilege to draw together the results of so many years work by so many people.

The results are a great advance in our understanding of how Hadrian’s Wall was built and of its later history.

They also show that the remains of the Wall in urban Tyneside are just as important as the better-preserved lengths in rural Northumberland.”

Paul Bidwell was Head of Archaeology at TWAM until retirement. He has led and published excavations in Exeter and along Hadrian’s Wall, including at South Shields, Vindolanda, Newcastle, Chesters and Willowford; and has been a contributor to many other publications on aspects of Roman Archaeology, including Roman ceramics.

The driving force behind one of the UK’s most ambitious and controversial reconstruction projects at Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fort, 31 years ago Paul Bidwell led the charge to recreate a fort gate house in its original foundations.

The report has been published by TWAM with The Arbeia Society, a registered charity established in 1992 to support research into and promotion of Roman archaeology in North East England.

North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn CBE, said: “We welcome the publication of this report.

It is a significant achievement by Paul and one that will help to enrich our knowledge and understanding of one of our most precious heritage sites.” Iain Watson, Director of TWAM said: “This is a very significant contribution to the body of knowledge of Hadrian’s Wallsend, a huge undertaking, bringing together and translating into contemporary context 28 years of archaeological findings.

We congratulate Paul and look forward to the report’s reception.”Segedunum Roman Fort and Museum is now a visitor attraction incorporating a museum and an extensively excavated Roman ‘archaeological park’ fort site, overlooked by a 35m viewing tower attracting around 50,000 visits a year.

1,900 years ago it was the edge of the Roman Empire, the very cusp of the eastern end of the Empire’s northern frontier. Segedunum – meaning ‘strong place’ – sat on a plateau overlooking the north bank of the River Tyne, the spot was chosen strategically to command views east down the river to the coast at South Shields and 2 miles up the river toward Newcastle upon Tyne.

The 73-mile wall, now a World Heritage Site, was constructed on the orders of Emperor Hadrian in AD122 and originally ended at the River Tyne’s lowest bridgeable point – Newcastle upon Tyne – until 2 or 3 years later when it was extended to Wallsend.

Only 7% of the original wall is visible today and only about 0.5% of its entire length has been excavated using modern archaeological techniques, though much more can be seen of the forts, milecastles, turrets, and bridges along its line.

The 80 meter stretch at Wallsend that has been scrutinized by archaeologists over the years lies 50 meters west of the Segedunum fort. Its first contemporary digs were led by the late Charles Daniels of Newcastle University in the mid-1970s. The Wall at Wallsend, 2.26m wide, was built without mortar but with carefully-laid courses of stonework.

Separate groups of legionaries built lengths of 30 Roman feet (about 9m). They were also tasked with building an aqueduct which ran through the Wall and supplied the baths outside the fort.

Markers for building plots running up to the back of the Wall were also found. They show that a settlement containing civilian and some military buildings were laid out at the same time that the Wall and the adjacent fort were built.

In the early 3rd century, the Wall at Segedunum was destroyed by a catastrophic flood which also washed away part of the baths and undermined the fort wall.

The aqueduct was replaced and the Wall rebuilt, probably on the instructions of Septimius Severus in about AD 208; this emperor, rather than Hadrian, was credited by late-Roman writers as the original builder of the Wall. Shorter lengths of the Wall collapsed and were rebuilt on three subsequent occasions. One of these later reconstructions reused masonry from various buildings, including one of the fort gates, a temple possibly dedicated to Diana, and a bathhouse.

The volume also includes an account of the building of the replica section of Hadrian’s Wall at Segedunum, constructed in 1996.

Wallsend Culvert taking aqueduct channel through the wall in 2000.
Wallsend Culvert taking aqueduct channel through the wall in 2000.

Ancient Rome — Construction Workers Find Rare Intact Roman Tomb

Construction Workers Find Rare Intact Roman Tomb

‘The Tomb of the Athlete’ includes four bodies, a coin, offerings of chicken, rabbit and lamb and strigils, the symbol of Roman sportsmen

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/construction-workers-find-rare-intact-tomb-rome-180969247/#49AkMEfdgbeVZkRc.99
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‘The Tomb of the Athlete’ includes four bodies, a coin, offerings of chicken, rabbit and lamb and strigils, the symbol of Roman sportsmen

It is a rare day when archeologists find an ancient burial that has not been destroyed by natural processes, ravaged by war, or plundered by hunters of artifacts.

It is why King Tut’s untouched tomb was so significant and why archaeologists are going gaga over the tomb of a Greek warrior discovered in Pylos.

Add another to the list; archeologists uncovered an untouched Roman tomb in Rome several weeks ago that they call the Athlete’s Tomb. Local Italy reports.

The tomb was found in the Case Rosse area west of the center of Rome by an earthmover working to extend an aqueduct about 6 feet underground.

Inside lay the undisturbed remains of 4 people, including a man in his 30s, a man in his 50s, a man between the age of 35 to 45, and a woman of undetermined age.

Francesco Prosperetti, who oversees archaeology in Rome, tells Elisabetta Povoledo at The New York Times that finding the tomb was sheer luck. “Had the machine dug just four inches to the left, we would have never found the tomb,” he says.

The discovery also unearthed an assortment of jugs and dishes, a bronze coin, along with dishes of chicken, rabbit and another animal believed to be a lamb or goat, likely offerings to sustain them in the afterlife.

Among the trove were two strigils, blunt hooks that Romans used to clean themselves and wipe off oil while bathing and that athletes used to scrape away sweat.

In fact, the strigil was considered the symbol of an athlete in the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.

Still, calling the find the “Tomb of the Athlete,” is more or less a marketing move, Fabio Turchetta, one of the archaeologists working on the site, tells Povoledo since all the men inside are over 35 and would have been well past their prime by classical standards. “To say there was an athlete is a bit of stretch, but it works journalistically,” as he puts it diplomatically.

Based on the coin found in the tomb, which includes an image of Minerva on one side and a horse head with the word “Romano” on the other, the tomb dates between 335 and 312 B.C.E. during the heyday of the Roman Republic.

Researchers have begun the process of removing the bodies from the tomb, which will be sent to the laboratory for analysis and DNA testing to determine if they are a family.

A paleobotanist also collected samples of pollen and plant material to help figure out the flora of the area when the tomb was constructed.

The structure itself has been documented by a laser scan and will be sealed up once excavations are complete.

Turchetta tells Povoledo that the area the tomb was found in has been heavily surveyed and excavated in the past, so finding the intact chamber was surprising and emotional.

This isn’t the first time that construction in Rome has uncovered amazing finds. Just last year, while expanding the metro system, archaeologists found that the bones of a dog inside the remains of an aristocratic home that burned down during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus in the 2nd century C.E.

The same construction project also uncovered the military barracks of emperor Hadrian’s Praetorian Guard.

Source: realmofhistory

Medieval Village Unearthed in Denmark

Lost medieval village discovered in Denmark

 Excavation of an extremely well-preserved cellar, which may have functioned as a place to store the town’s taxes.
Excavation of an extremely well-preserved cellar, which may have functioned as a place to store the town’s taxes.

Traces of three courtyards surrounded by a ditch marks out an area, which archaeologists have interpreted as the center of a village dating back to the Middle Ages in Tollerup, East Denmark.

Historical sources suggest that the farms belonged to the village rulers. A cellar in the largest farm was probably used to store tax revenues in the form of objects collected from the villagers.

“The interesting thing about this find is that we have some very old written sources that [give us] an entirely new understanding from what we can interpret from the excavation alone,” says Gunvor Christiansen, an archaeologist at Roskilde Museum, Denmark.

The excavated farmhouses date back to the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance (around 1400 to 1600 CE), and it is rare to find such well-preserved remains from this period, outside the large market towns in Denmark, says Christiansen.

A vanished village

Archaeologists do not know why the village was abandoned but they knew it existed as it is mentioned in a number of written sources.

A letter from King Canute IV first records the gifting of a village at this location to a bishop in 1085. The excavated houses were built later. A number of tax rolls from Tollerup also refer to six farms and a manor on the site, which was possibly used to store the collected taxes.

A gravel pit alongside the three farms could explain why they did not find the remains of the other three farms, says Christiansen.“Compared with other farms of the same period, we can see that one of the farms must have been the manor house, referred to in the written sources. It’s a qualified guess because the farm is so large,” she says.

The three farms are approximately five meters wide and 15 to 20 meters long, but the manor has a cellar area of 50 square meters. The foundations of the outer wall of the manor suggest that it was a two-story building.

Exceptionally well preserved

The archaeologists were pleased to see that the cellar remains were buried so deep. This would have protected them from a disturbance at the surface, for example by farming equipment turning the land over the years.

It’s rare to find houses from the Middle Ages in Denmark, says archaeologist Nils Engberg, curator at the National Museum of Denmark.

“We have lots of excavations from earlier periods. For example from the Stone Age and Bronze Age. But unfortunately not from the Middle Ages because the houses were built in a different way,” he says.

The large cellar was 50 square metres in size. Part of it was probably used to store the collected taxes while the other side was used to store farming equipment. (Photo: Kirsi Pedersen)
The large cellar was 50 square metres in size. Part of it was probably used to store the collected taxes while the other side was used to store farming equipment.

It was at this time that people began to construct houses with stone foundations after a law was passed to prevent felling of trees. Previously, all houses were timber constructions which led to a timber shortage throughout the country.

But the remains of stone houses could be easily looted and the materials used elsewhere in subsequent buildings, meaning that few were preserved to this day.

Christianity had a foothold in the community

When in use, the cellars would have been full. Archaeologists found evidence of two grinding stones from a mill, plough equipment, and many more everyday objects.

Moreover, they found traces of clay flooring, an oven, and pieces of tile with religious motifs, including a priest.“Religious motifs were very typical of the 1500s,” says Christiansen. Engberg agrees.

This was when Christianity gained momentum, he says.“In this period we had a permanent royal power and a centralized administration.

The country was split into dioceses such as Roskilde and Lolland Falster diocese. Soon, a government formed and we begin to slowly see a societal structure similar to that of today,” he says.

Roskilde’s bishop had connections to Tollerup

Archaeologists suspect that the village fell under the Diocese of Roskilde.“The Bishop of Roskilde received the taxes during this period and he may well have rented the manor for a vassal to administer it.

In the end, all taxes from Tollerup went to the bishop up until the Reformation after which the king took control,” says Christensen.

It is not yet absolutely certain that the town is the disappeared village recorded in the old tax rolls and the king’s letters. Archaeologists and historians will continue to study the site to find out for sure.

Source: archaeology.org

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