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Bronze Age well contents reveal the history of animal resources in Mycenae, Greece

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Excavations of a large Bronze Age debris deposit in Mycenae, Greece has provided important data for understanding the history of animal resources.

Animals were an important source of subsistence and symbolism at the Late Bronze Age site of Mycenae in Greece, as evidenced by their depictions in art and architecture, but more research is needed on the animals that actually lived there.

In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers performed a detailed analysis of a large deposit of animal remains inside a well within Petsas House, a household in Mycenae that also included a ceramics workshop.

Excavations into the well recovered ceramics, metal, stone, and other materials alongside abundant animal remains, the most common of which were remains from pigs, sheep and goats, cattle, and dogs. Based on the study of the condition of these animal remains, including evidence that many of these animals were used as food, in association with the other finds, especially pottery, the researchers reconstruct that this well was used to collect debris post destruction.

The contents of the well vary across the vertical layers within it, indicating variation in the source formation processes and in the availability of animal resources, both locally sourced and externally provided. These changes might also reflect hardships in the wake of a natural disaster, as the debris within the well appears to have come from cleanup efforts after a destructive earthquake.

The dog remains were more intact than those of the farm animals, and were deposited in the well at a different time. The authors believe this to be tentative evidence that dogs may have been treated differently in death than other animals.

This study demonstrates how detailed analysis of animal remains in well-preserved assemblages can provide insights into social dynamics of ancient settlements. Further investigation into this site will potentially elucidate patterns of food provisioning, trading, and responses to natural disasters at this important archaeological locality.

The authors add: “This study presents new insights about ancient animals recovered from the renowned archaeological site of Mycenae in Greece—a major political center in the Late Bronze Age, famous for references in Homer’s Iliad. Research at Petsas House, a domestic building in Mycenae’s settlement used in large part as a ceramics workshop, revealed how the remains of meaty meals and pet dogs were cleaned and disposed of in a house well following a major destructive earthquake. Study of the archaeologically recovered bones, teeth, and shells from the well yielded a more nuanced picture of the diverse and resilient dietary strategies of residents than previously available at Mycenae.”

PLOS

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0280517

Header Image Credit : Meier et al – PLOS ONE

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Archaeology

Trove of Roman objects linked to feasting found at Ostia antica

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Archaeologists have uncovered a trove of Roman objects linked to ritual feasting at Ostia antica.

Ostia Antica is an ancient harbour town located at the mouth of the Tiber River. The harbour served as the main port for Rome, transporting goods and people from the coast along the Via Ostiensis.

Archaeologists recently excavated the area of Regio I – Insula XV, a “sacred area” or precinct housing several temples and sanctuaries. At the centre is the temple of Hercules,  a 31 x 16 metre monument which dates from the Republican Era.

Excavations have revealed a substantial well situated at the base of the temple of Hercules. Upon draining the well, it was discovered to hold a significant collection of objects dating from the 1st to 2nd century AD.

Among the objects are various ceramics, miniatures, lamps, glass containers, fragments of marble, and burnt animal bones (pigs and cattle). According to the archaeologists, the trove corresponds with ritual feasting associated with cult at the temple.

In a press statement by the Ministry of Culture: “The discovery of burnt bones confirms that animal sacrifices were carried out in the sanctuary, while the common ceramics, also bearing traces of fire, indicate that the meat was cooked and consumed during banquets in honour of divinity. The remains of one or more ritual meals were thrown into the well, the last ones probably when their function had ceased.”

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Culture

Sources : Ministry of Culture

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

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Archaeology

Labyrinthine structure discovered from the Minoan civilisation

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Archaeologists have discovered a monumental labyrinthine structure on the summit of Papoura Hill in Crete.

The discovery was made during the installation of a radar system in preparation for the construction of a new airport in the area.

According to experts, the structure dates from between 2000 to 1700 BC shortly before or at the start of the palaeopalatial Minoan period.

The Minoan civilisation was a Bronze Age culture that emerged on the island of Crete around 3100 BC. The culture is known for the monumental architecture and energetic art, and is often regarded as the first civilisation in Europe.

Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

The chronology of the Minoans is characterised into three distinct phases – Early Minoan (EM), Middle Minoan (MM), and Late Minoan (LM).

The palaeopalatial structure is part of the MMI – II grouping in the Middle Minoan, a period in which the first palaces were built and saw the development of the Minoan writing systems, Cretan hieroglyphic and Linear A.

The structure comprises of 8 concentric stone rings that converge on a central circular building. The entire diameter of the complex measures 48 metres and covers an area of approximately 1800 square metres.

Within the central structure are four designated zones in which radial walls intersect vertically and form a labyrinthine structure. Zones A and B appear to be have the main concentration of human activity, evidenced by the presence of large amounts of animals bones.

According to the experts, this residential area likely had a truncated cone or vaulted appearance and is the first monument of this type excavated in Crete. It can perhaps be paralleled with the elliptical MM building of the Chamezi Archaeological Site, as well as with the so-called circular proto-Hellenic cyclopean building of Tiryns.

The Minister of Culture, said: “This is a unique and highly significant find. Solutions are in place to ensure the completion of the archaeological research and the protection of the monument.”

Header Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

Sources : Greek Ministry of Culture

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

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