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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

Excavation of medieval shipbuilders reveals a Roman head of Mercury

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Excavations of a medieval shipbuilders has led to the discovery of a Roman settlement and a Roman head of Mercury.

The discovery was made at Smallhythe Place, a late 15th or early 16th century property managed by the National Trust near Tenterden in Kent, England.

Prior to the decline of the port and shipyard at Smallhythe during the 16th century, the local community played a crucial role in the shipbuilding industry, crafting vessels for notable figures, including members of royalty.

As part of a project funded by several UK institutions, over 60 volunteers from the National Trust participated in the excavation, along with professional archaeologists, students, and members of the Hastings Area Archaeological Research Group.

The excavation has revealed traces of a Roman settlement that was occupied between the 1st and 3rd centuries, including an incredibly rare figurine made of pipeclay that depicts the god, Mercury.

Mercury was a major god in the Roman pantheon and was associated with financial gain, commerce, eloquence, messages, communication (including divination), travellers, boundaries, luck, trickery, and thieves. He also served as the guide of souls to the underworld and was the messenger of the gods.

According to a press announcement by the National Trust: “This complete figurine probably would have depicted Mercury standing, either draped with a chlamys (a short cloak), or naked, holding a caduceus (a staff with two intertwined snakes).”

The team also unearthed thousands of artefacts, providing evidence of the evolution of Smallhythe Place from a Georgian farm to a midden dump, a shipbuilding site, and a brickworks.

The National Trust said: “To support our investigations, we received grants from the National Trust’s Inclusive Archaeology, Robert Kiln and the Roman Research Funds and from the Royal Archaeological Institute. During 2023, our project has received funding from the Society of Antiquaries and the William and Edith Oldham Charitable Trust.”

Header Image Credit : James Dobson

Sources : National Trust – Exploring Smallhythe Place: Archaeological Investigations by the River Rother

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

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Archaeology

Researchers find that Żagań-Lutnia5 is an Iron Age stronghold

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Archaeologists have conducted a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey of Żagań-Lutnia5, revealing that the monument is an Iron Age stronghold.

Żagań-Lutnia5 was first discovered in the 1960s near the town of Żagań in western Poland, with previous studies suggesting that the monument could be associated with the Białowieża group of the Lusatian urnfield culture.

The Lusatian culture existed in the later Bronze Age and early Iron Age (1300–500 BC) in most of what is now Poland. It formed part of the Urnfield systems found from eastern France, southern Germany and Austria to Hungary, and the Nordic Bronze Age in northwestern Germany and Scandinavia.

A recent study led by Dr. Arkadiusz Michalak on behalf of the Archaeological Museum of the Middle Oder River has revealed two parallel sequences of magnetic anomalies at Żagań-Lutnia5 that represent the remnants of earthen and wooden fortifications.

The course of the fortifications were recorded in the northern, western and southern parts of the study area, however, a study of the eastern section was limited due to a sewage collector built in the 1990’s.

Exploratory excavations found four cultural layers with remains of huts and hearths, in addition to a burnt layer from the last phase of occupation that suggests a period of conflict.

According to the researchers, the monument was likely built by the same people who constructed the stronghold in Wicin and a number of verified defensive settlements within the area of the Elbe, Nysa Łużycka and Odra.

As a result of the study, Żagań-Lutnia5 has been added to the catalogue of verified Early Iron Age strongholds located in today’s Lubusz Voivodeship.

Header Image Credit : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments

Sources : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments – Archaeological research at the site of Żagań-Lutnia5

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

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