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Rare embroidered Deisis depicting Jesus Christ found in medieval burial ground

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Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences have unearthed a rare embroidered Deisis depicting Jesus Christ in a medieval burial ground.

The discovery was made during construction works for the Moscow-Kazan high-speed highway, where archaeologists found a medieval settlement covering an area of 8.6 acres and an associated Christian cemetery.

Excavations have exhumed 46 graves, one of which contained a woman aged between 16 to 25 years of age, who was buried with an embroidered Deisis depicting Jesus Christ and John the Baptist.

In Byzantine art, and in later Eastern Orthodox art generally, the Deisis is a traditional iconic representation of Christ in Majesty or Christ Pantocrator. In traditional examples, Mary (mother of Jesus) and John the Baptist are shown facing towards Christ with their hands raised in supplication on behalf of humanity.

The archaeologists suggest that the embroidered fabric was once a headdress made from a dark silk samite. Similar examples have been found at the Ivorovsky necropolis near Staritsa depicting the image of Michael the Archangel with a spear, or the embroidered faces of saints and crosses found in the Karoshsky burial ground in the Yaroslavl region.

The fabric measures 12.1 cm long by 5.5 cm and is made up of two parts connected by a vertical seam consisting of a woven gold ribbon with a braided pattern. The lining of the fabric has not survived; however, a microscopic inspection has found remnants of birch bark and needle punctures along the lower and upper edges.

The central figure on the fabric depicts a frontal image of Jesus Christ in a blessing gesture, while on the right is John the Baptist in a prayerful pose facing him. The inspection has revealed that on the left was once another figure, likely Mary, however this figure is now lost.

Speaking on the discovery, the researchers commented that the: “highest level of craftsmanship, jewellery subtlety and elegance went into making this miniature embroidery.”

Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Header Image Credit : Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences

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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