Archaeologists from Brigham Young University (BYU) have been excavating a farming hamlet called San Diego near the Mogollon city of Casas Grandes, also called Paquimé, both located in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.
Casas Grandes is attributed to the Mogollon culture, one of the major prehistoric Southwestern cultural divisions of the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico.
The culture emerged during the archaic period around AD 200, with construction at Casa Grandes occurring between AD 1130 and AD 1300. The initial settlement started as a group of 20 or more single storey house clusters, each with a plaza and enclosing wall.
After being burned around AD 1340, Casas Grandes was rebuilt with multi-story apartment buildings built of adobe, I-shaped Mesoamerican ballcourts, stone-faced platforms, effigy mounds, and a market area.
About 350 other, smaller settlement sites have been found in the Casas Grandes area of influence which extends around 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the city.
For the past 10 years, BYU researchers have studied a lesser-known time, the Viejo period, which predates the main era of Casas Grandes at the site of San Diego. In 2019, they uncovered the floor of the largest known communal structure from the Viejo period, a 9-metre-diameter building large enough to house 30 to 40 people.
Recent excavations at San Diego have found 1,000-year-old artefacts, consisting of ceramics, hammer stones, maize kernels, and a shell bead transported 250 miles from the Pacific Ocean, suggesting long distance interactions between the people of Casas Grandes and faraway cultures.
The team has employed some advanced technology to document their discoveries, including robotic surveying instruments that map artefacts with millimetre-level precision, survey-grade GPS, and unmanned aerial systems that take images of the site from the sky.
Professor Mike Searcy from BYU said: “Every shovel full of dirt that we pull out is providing new data on the ancient people who thrived in the desert.
The new excavations have enabled the researchers to learn about the resilience and ingenuity of the people living at the San Diego site, including the settlement’s organised building efforts to construct the communal structure.
Header Image – Casas Grandes – Image Credit : HJPD – CC BY-SA 3.0
Early medieval carved stone of a warrior figure found in Glasgow
Archaeologists excavating the grounds of Govan Old Church in Glasgow, England, have discovered an early medieval carved stone figure dubbed the “Govan Warrior”.
Govan Old Church is the home of the Govan Stone Museum, a collection of early medieval and Viking-Age sculptures found in the grounds, including 30 sculptures from a lost kingdom of Old Welsh-speaking Britons known as the Ystrad Clud who dominated the Clyde valley from the 5th to 11th centuries AD.
Excavations have been conducted by the University of Glasgow and Clyde Archaeology, in which a carved stone of a warrior was uncovered during a community fun day organised as part of the Glasgow Doors Open Days Festival.
The carved stone depicts a man standing side on and carrying a round shield and a shaft. According to the researchers, the discovery dates from around 1,000-years-ago and is unlike any of the other carved stones found at Govan Old.
According to a press statement by the University of Glasgow: “The Govan Warrior is unique within the existing collection due to its stylistic characteristics, which has drawn parallels with Pictish art and carvings from the Isle of Man. Unlike the other stones in the Govan collection, whose chunky style of carving is so distinctive that it has been described as a school of carving in its own right (the ‘Govan School’), the Govan Warrior is lightly incised, which may bring parallels with famous Pictish stones like the Rhynie Man from Aberdeenshire.”
Professor Stephen Driscoll said: “It’s a style that makes us think both about the Pictish world and also about the Isle of Man and it’s interesting that we are halfway between these two places. Govan is the ideal place for these two artistic traditions or styles to come together.”
Header Image Credit : Govan Heritage Trust
Iron Age port discovered on Baltic Sea island of Gotska Sandön
An excavation project, in collaboration with archaeologists from Södertörn University, Uppsala University’s Campus Gotland, Gotland Museum, and the Swedish National Heritage Board, has led to the discovery of an Iron Age port on Gotska Sandön.
Gotska Sandön is an island and national park in Sweden’s Gotland County, situated 24 miles north of Faro in the Baltic Sea.
Earlier in 2023, archaeologists found two 2,000-year-old Roman coins on one of the island’s beaches. Both coins are made of silver, with one coin dating from AD 98-117 during the reign of Emperor Trajan, and the other coin dating from AD 138-161 during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius
In the latest excavations, archaeologists have now discovered evidence of twenty hearths on the same beach as the Roman coins discovery.
According to Johan Rönnby, a professor of marine archaeology at Södertörn University, the site is an Iron Age port, not in the sense of quays we imply in the modern era, but instead a place where Iron Age people regularly landed their boats and formed an encampment.
Although the purpose of the encampment is speculated, the researchers suggest that it may have been linked to an emerging seal hunting industry.
“Seal hunters may have come from the island of Gotland and landed on Sandön to boil seal blubber. This could have been what the hearths were used for, but we don’t yet know – there may be other reasons why the site looks like it does, such as it being a trading post,” said Rönnby.
Excavations and carbon-14 dating of one of the hearths has indicated that they also date from 2,000-years-ago, suggesting a possible link between the encampment and the Roman coins.
Header Image Credit : idw
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