Archaeologists from Arbotante patrimonio e innovación SL have uncovered a complete suite of armour during excavations at the Castillo de Matilla de los Caños del Río near Salamanca, Spain.
The castle was previously thought to have been constructed following the Arab conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, which became part of Umayyad Caliphate around AD 711–732. However, very little is known about the history of the castle, with sources indicating that it was destroyed on the orders of Ferdinand II of Aragon in AD 1505.
The castle ruins are located north of the village of Matilla de los Caños del Río on a small hill at a strategic position overlooking the flat plains below.
Archaeologists from the Arbotante patrimonio e innovación SL have been conducting ongoing excavations since early 2023, revealing the layout of the castle interior and exterior walls. The team have identified the possible gateway entrance, a cistern, circular towers, and an armoury containing the remains of weapons and pieces of armour.
Image Credit : Municipality of Matilla de los Caños del Río
According to the researchers, the archaeological evidence contradicts the historical narrative as they’ve found no evidence of Arab occupation or related architectural elements.
The team have also discovered a complete suit of armour which dates from the 16th century. The armour consists of almost 50 pieces and was found alongside a crossbow and a knife.
Speaking to Salamanca24horas, archaeologist Iván García Vázquez, said: “The armour has all its functional pieces, it consists of a helmet, breastplate, trellis, elbow pads, greaves and other protections for arms and legs.”
Excavations also revealed numerous crossbow bolts, some of which have a socketed head almost square in cross section that was mainly used against armour, in addition to spike points that was used to penetrate chain mail. Also found among the ammunition cache are pieces of bolaño, a type of stone cannonball also known as “stoneshot”.
Header Image Credit : Municipality of Matilla de los Caños del Río
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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