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Nationally important treasure hoard from the medieval period unveiled

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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.”

National Museum of Antiquities

Header Image Credit : Archeology West-Friesland/Fleur Schinning

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Archaeology

Post-medieval township discovered in Scottish forest

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Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a pre-medieval township in the Glen Brittle Forest on the Isle of Skye.

The discovery was made during an environmental survey before the harvest of a mature conifer plantation.

AOC Archaeologists have found traces of 28 buildings, consisting of houses, byres, barns and corn-drying kilns, which are surrounded by fields and stock enclosures that traditionally formed a small clachan (or township).

An early 19th century map surveyed by John Thomson in 1832 names the site as the township of Brunell, a small agricultural township which dates from the 17th and 18th centuries.

A passage in the Parish of Bracadale on Skye describes Brunell as: “The parish produces black cattle, sheep and horses. Black cattle is the main staple… from the returns of which the people pay their rents and supply themselves with necessities. There are small quantities of sheep on each farm, but there is no farm laid out entirely to sheep pasture”

During the late 18th century, the township experienced a decline due to farms consolidating land for sheep-grazing and reduced the need for labour, consequently displacing and leaving the small tenants adrift.

By the Ordnance Survey of 1881, the town had dwindled to merely two roofless buildings and several fields, suggesting that the entire population had abandoned the township by this time.

According to Forestry and Land Scotland, the survey data was used to guide machine operators during tree harvesting, ensuring they could fell trees without causing harm to any archaeological features.

Header Image Credit : Forestry and Land Scotland

Sources : Forestry and Land Scotland – Dig deeper: revealing the ruins of Brunell Township.

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

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Geophysical study finds evidence of “labyrinth” buried beneath Mitla

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A geophysical study has found underground structures and tunnels beneath Mitla – The Zapotec “Place of the Dead”

Mitla is an archaeological site associated with the Zapotec culture, located in the Oaxaca Valley in the present-day state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.

The Zapotec civilisation emerged in the late 6th century BC, originating in the Central Valleys of the Etla. The culture was centred on the settlements of Oaxaca, San José Mogote, and Mitla, with the city of Monte Albán serving as the civic-ceremonial centre.

At its peak, the Zapotec had a population of more than 500,000 inhabitants, having developed sophisticated construction techniques, a writing system, two calendar systems, and complex agricultural cultivation.

In 2016, the Lyobaa Project, an institutional collaboration led by the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) employed ground penetrating radar (GPR), electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), and ambient seismic noise interferometry (AIRSA) to explore potential archaeological features beneath the San Pablo Apóstol church, built atop the Zapotec ruins in Mitla.

Image Credit : Lyobaa Project

According to local legend, the church was constructed on an entrance way to an underground labyrinth, serving as a passage between the realm of the living to the realm of the dead, referred to as Mictlán in Nahuatl, meaning the “place of the dead” or “underworld.”

In 1674, the Dominican chronicler, Francisco Burgoa, described Spanish missionaries entering the labyrinth: “Such was the corruption and bad smell, the dampness of the floor, and a cold wind which extinguished the lights, that at the little distance they had already penetrated, they resolved to come out, and ordered this infernal gate to be thoroughly closed with masonry.”

As part of phase two of the Lyobaa Project, the researchers have identified buried architectural complexes and a series of corridors during a study of the Calvario, Arroyo, and del Sur groups within the archaeological zone.

The Arroyo group, located in the central area of the site has three quadrangle features connected by tunnels that likely date from AD 1200 during the Late Postclassic period.

The project also conducted a survey of the quadrangular plaza where the San Pablo Apóstol church was constructed on the remains of a pre-Hispanic temple. Beneath the plaza the researchers found that there are four mounds with clay internal cores.

Archaeologist, Denisse Argote, said: “We were able to determine that, although the core of the stepped structure is solid, the foundation of the historic church requires short-term intervention to guarantee its conservation, so measures must be taken to ensure its structural stability.”

“There are cracks in the historic building, since it does not have a foundation and, underneath, in what corresponds to the remains of the pre-Hispanic building, it seems that there are areas with small cavities,” added Argote.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : INAH

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

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