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Archaeologists investigate ancient boat buried beneath car park

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Archaeologists from the University of Nottingham are investigating an ancient boat buried beneath a pub car park in Wirral, England.

The boat was first discovered in 1938 by workmen, who partially exposed the vessel at the Railway Inn pub in Meols. The workmen reburied the boat after making several notes and sketches, with no further archaeological studies conducted until now.

A closer study of the sketches suggest that the boat is a clinker design (overlapping planks), technique that developed in the Nordic shipbuilding tradition, and was commonly used by the Anglo-Saxons, Frisians and Scandinavians.

The vessel is approximately 6 to 9 metre in length and was probably a cargo or fishing vessel. Because it was buried in waterlogged blue clay, the conditions have meant that the timber used in the boat’s construction is likely very well preserved.

Normally, wood decomposes and is broken down by fungi and micro-organisms such as bacteria, but, the waterlogged conditions have meant that oxygen is unable to penetrate the wood, preventing bacteria from being able to thrive.

Dominga Devitt from the Wirral Archaeology Community Interest Company (CIC), said: “There has been intense local interest in this buried object for many years. It has been thought that the boat dates from the Viking era, but no professional investigation has ever been carried out to establish the truth, so everyone is really delighted at the prospect of what we might discover.”

Professor Steve Harding, Director of the National Centre for Macromolecular Hydrodynamics at the University of Nottingham, said: “It is not impossible that the vessel may have derived from the time the area was heavily settled by Norsemen, or if not the descendants of these people.

An investigation we did jointly with the University of Leicester has shown that a high proportion of Y-chromosomal DNA of Scandinavian origin is in the admixture of people from old families (possessing surnames prior to 1600) in the area.”

University of Nottingham

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This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Gold foils discovered in Ancient Egyptian tombs

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Archaeologists from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities have discovered rare gold foils during excavations at Tel El-Dir.

Tel El-Dir is a burial complex in the area of Egypt’s Damietta Governorate. The site contains various burials and tombs from the 26th Dynasty (664 BC to 525 BC), the last native dynasty of ancient Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC.

Excavations of 63 mud brick tombs and pit burials have revealed a large collection of funerary offerings, including rare gold foils depicting Ancient Egyptian deities, and foils shaped like symbols associated with good fortune and protection.

The team also found foils in the shape of tongues, a tradition that enabled the deceased to speak before the court of Osiris in the afterlife.

Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

The discovery follows on from a previous haul in 2022, where archaeologists excavating at Tel El-Dir found gold foils depicting Isis, Bastet and Horus (in the form of a winged falcon), as well as foils in various shapes.

According to a press statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, many of the tombs contained funeral pyres, imported and local ceramics, and Ushabti statues (figurines placed with the deceased to serve them in the afterlife).

The excavation has also yielded a large number of funerary offerings, such as protective amulets, figurines, coins, and a mirror.

Speaking on the finds, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities explained that the objects confirm that Damietta was a centre of trade during ancient times, and provides new insights into the burial practices during the 26th Dynasty.

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Sources : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

New findings at world-famous Mesolithic site of Star Carr

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A recent study by archaeologists from the University of York and the University of Newcastle has revealed new insights into the domestic activities of the Mesolithic inhabitants of Star Carr.

Star Carr is one of the most significant and informative Mesolithic sites in Europe, which during prehistoric times was situated near the outflow at the western end of a palaeolake known as Lake Flixton.

Today, Star Carr lies at the eastern end of the Vale of Pickering near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England.

Using microscopic evidence from the use of stone tools, the researchers found that a range of domestic activities took place in three previously excavated structures. This includes activities related to working with bone, antler, hide, meat, and fish.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, used a combination of spatial and microwear data to provide different scales of interpretation: from individual tool use to patterns of activity across the three structures.

Dr Jess Bates, from the University of York’s Department of Archaeology said: “We found that there were distinct areas for different types of activity, so the messy activity involving butchery, for example, was done in what appears to be a designated space, and separate to the ‘cleaner’ tasks such as crafting bone and wooden objects, tools or jewellery.

“This was surprising as hunter-gatherers are known for being very mobile, as they would have to travel out to find food, and yet they have a very organised approach to creating not just a house but a sense of home.

“This new work, on these very early forms of houses suggests, that these dwellings didn’t just serve a practical purpose in the sense of having a shelter from the elements, but that certain social norms of a home were observed that are not massively dissimilar to how we organise our homes today.”

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : Bates J, Milner N, Conneller C, Little A (2024) Spatial organisation within the earliest evidence of post-built structures in Britain. PLoS ONE 19(7): e0306908. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0306908

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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