A large hoard of gold jewellery and silver coins has been unveiled to the public as part of a new exhibition at the National Museum of Antiquities in the Netherlands.
The hoard was discovered by a metal detectorist back in 2021 near Hoogwoud, a small city in the Dutch province of North Holland.
After the initial discovery, the finds were reported to the intermunicipal organisation, Archaeology West Friesland, which were then transferred to the National Museum of Antiquities for examination and preservation.
Metal detecting in the Netherlands requires a license and permission from landowners. It is illegal to use a metal detector on known historical and archaeological sites, with any finds considered “treasure” or of historical importance requiring the finder to notify local authorities.
The hoard consists of four decorated gold earring pendants in the shape of a crescent moon, along with two pieces of gold leaf that fit together, and 39 small silver coins from the medieval period.
Dating of the coins places them to a period between AD 1200 to AD 1250, suggesting that they were deposited in the ground around the middle of the thirteenth century AD.
Small pieces of textile found with the coins indicate that they were wrapped in a cloth or small bag. The 39 coins come from the Diocese of Utrecht, from various counties (Holland, Guelders and Cleves), and from the German Empire. The youngest coins were struck in AD 1247 or AD 1248 and depict William II of Holland.
Image Credit : Archeology West-Friesland/Fleur Schinning
The gold jewellery is much older and dates from the 11th century AD. They were likely family heirlooms and were handed down through generations until they were hidden during a period of conflict.
At the time, the region saw a series of wars between West Friesland and the county of Holland. “This makes the treasure find of great significance for the archaeology and history of North Holland and West Friesland – and even of national and international importance,” said the National Museum of Antiquities.
The earring pendants are decorated on one side and have fragile suspension brackets, suggesting that they were probably not pierced through the ears but were instead worn on a hood or a headband. One of the pendants has an engraving of a man’s head surrounded by rays of sunlight, which has been interpreted as a portrait of Sol Invictus, the “Unconquered Sun.”
Header Image Credit : Archeology West-Friesland/Fleur Schinning
Archaeologists uncover tomb of Emperor Xiaomin of Northern Zhou
In a press announcement by the Institute of Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), archaeologists have discovered the tomb of Emperor Xiaomin of Northern Zhou near Xianyang City, China.
Emperor Xiaomin (birth name: Yuwen Jue), was the founder of the Xianbei-led Northern Zhou dynasty of China that lasted from AD 557 to 581. One of the Northern dynasties of China’s Northern and Southern dynasties period, it succeeded the Western Wei dynasty and was eventually overthrown by the Sui dynasty.
Rather than take the title of emperor, Xiaomin instead used the Zhou Dynasty title of “Heavenly Prince”, however, a power struggle occurred between Xiaomin and the his cousin, Yuwen Hu, who deposed Xiaomin and had him killed.
Archaeologists conducting excavations adjacent to the Airport Expressway in Xianyang City have uncovered the tomb of Emperor Xiaomin, designated Tomb M655.
Image Credit : CASS
Excavations have revealed a 147 long ditch, leading to a tomb oriented on a north to south axis. The tomb contains a single chamber at a depth of 10 metres, containing disturbed funerary offerings such as ceramic vessels and figurines depicting warriors, cavalry units, a camel, and indiscernible creatures.
The team also discovered an epitaph stone with an inscription loosely translated as: “Renshen in October of the second year of the tomb of Gongyu Wenjue, Duke of Lueyang, Zhou Dynasty” – referring to the birth name of Yuwen Jue.
According to the press announcement: “The archaeological discovery of Yuwen Jue’s tomb from the Northern Zhou Dynasty is of great significance. It is the second Northern Zhou emperor’s tomb that has been excavated after the Xiaoling Mausoleum of Emperor Wu of the Northern Zhou Dynasty.”
Header Image Credit : CASS
Viking trade connections stretched to Arctic Scandinavia
An analysis by researchers from the University of York has revealed Viking trade routes between northern Scandinavia and the edges of continental Europe.
The study focuses on trade connections from the town of Hedeby, an important trading settlement during the Viking Age near the southern end of the Jutland Peninsula in Germany.
Hedeby is first mentioned in the Frankish chronicles of Einhard (who was in the service of Charlemagne), but was probably founded around AD 770.
Hedeby’s prominence as a primary trading hub can be attributed to its strategic geographical positioning along the pivotal trade routes connecting the Frankish Empire and Scandinavia in the north-south direction, as well as the Baltic and the North Sea in the east-west direction.
The town was also a major centre of antler-working, with 288,000 antler finds recorded to date, most of which are waste material from the production of hair combs.
A ZooMS analysis of the collagen in the combs has revealed that 85-90% of the combs were made from reindeer antler during the 9th century AD. The combs or antlers were imported from northern Scandinavia, indicating new evidence for contact between Hedeby and the northern outlands in central and northern Scandinavia.
Dr Steven Ashby, from the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, said: “The work at Hedeby is particularly interesting, as it tells us about connections between the mountains of upland or arctic Scandinavia and this large town at the gateway to continental Europe, and points to a window in the 9th Century when these northern links must have been particularly strong.”
The paper ‘In the footsteps of Ohthere: biomolecular analysis of early Viking Age hair combs from Hedeby (Haithabu)’ is published in Antiquity Journal.
Header Image Credit : Mariana Muñoz-Rodriguez
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