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Archaeologists uncover giant Bronze Age barrow cemetery

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Archaeologists from Cotswold archaeology have uncovered a giant Bronze Age barrow cemetery in the suburbs of Salisbury, England.

Excavations were in preparation for a housing development project, where the researchers found evidence of round barrows that have been levelled due to centuries of cultivation.

The construction of round barrows dates back to the Neolithic period, but the majority of them were built during the Beaker and Early Bronze Age (2400 – 1500 BC). These barrows typically comprise a central burial chamber, a mound, and a surrounding ditch.

The size of round barrows can range from under 10 metres in diameter to up to 50 metres, although the majority tend to average between 20 and 30 metre. Additionally, the earthworks associated with barrows can vary.

Some feature sizable central mounds, referred to as “bell barrows,” while others have smaller central mounds and outer banks, known as “disc barrows.” There are also those with central hollows, often referred to as “pond barrows.” Barrows tend to be associated with burials – some contain only single individuals, others a sequence of burials and occasionally multiple burials.

Image Credit : Cotswold Archaeology

The cemetery near Salisbury consists of up to twenty or more barrows that spread along a valley floor up an adjacent hillside. The cemetery is arranged in small clusters of pairs or six, for which at least three are multi-phased barrows – two had been substantially enlarged and one had started out with a slightly oval ditch that was later replaced by a near-circular ditch.

The oval shaped barrow indicates that it could potentially be of Neolithic origin or constructed in an area associated with Neolithic activity. Positioned near the centre is a collective mass grave containing the skeletal remains of adults and children. The barrow revealed also contained two further graves, both of which held Beaker burials that were probably created at the start of the Bronze Age, as well as cut through Neolithic pits containing a cache of red deer antler used for making tools.

Excavations also found remains from the Saxon period, indicated by the discovery of a possible sunken-featured building, preserved timbers, iron knife blades and ceramics, as well as a cultivation terrace (‘lynchet’) of probable late Iron Age date and pits from the Bronze Age and Iron Age.

Cotswold Archaeology

Header Image Credit : Cotswold Archaeology

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Archaeology

Gold foils discovered in Ancient Egyptian tombs

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Archaeologists from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities have discovered rare gold foils during excavations at Tel El-Dir.

Tel El-Dir is a burial complex in the area of Egypt’s Damietta Governorate. The site contains various burials and tombs from the 26th Dynasty (664 BC to 525 BC), the last native dynasty of ancient Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC.

Excavations of 63 mud brick tombs and pit burials have revealed a large collection of funerary offerings, including rare gold foils depicting Ancient Egyptian deities, and foils shaped like symbols associated with good fortune and protection.

The team also found foils in the shape of tongues, a tradition that enabled the deceased to speak before the court of Osiris in the afterlife.

Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

The discovery follows on from a previous haul in 2022, where archaeologists excavating at Tel El-Dir found gold foils depicting Isis, Bastet and Horus (in the form of a winged falcon), as well as foils in various shapes.

According to a press statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, many of the tombs contained funeral pyres, imported and local ceramics, and Ushabti statues (figurines placed with the deceased to serve them in the afterlife).

The excavation has also yielded a large number of funerary offerings, such as protective amulets, figurines, coins, and a mirror.

Speaking on the finds, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities explained that the objects confirm that Damietta was a centre of trade during ancient times, and provides new insights into the burial practices during the 26th Dynasty.

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Sources : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

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

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Archaeology

New findings at world-famous Mesolithic site of Star Carr

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A recent study by archaeologists from the University of York and the University of Newcastle has revealed new insights into the domestic activities of the Mesolithic inhabitants of Star Carr.

Star Carr is one of the most significant and informative Mesolithic sites in Europe, which during prehistoric times was situated near the outflow at the western end of a palaeolake known as Lake Flixton.

Today, Star Carr lies at the eastern end of the Vale of Pickering near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England.

Using microscopic evidence from the use of stone tools, the researchers found that a range of domestic activities took place in three previously excavated structures. This includes activities related to working with bone, antler, hide, meat, and fish.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, used a combination of spatial and microwear data to provide different scales of interpretation: from individual tool use to patterns of activity across the three structures.

Dr Jess Bates, from the University of York’s Department of Archaeology said: “We found that there were distinct areas for different types of activity, so the messy activity involving butchery, for example, was done in what appears to be a designated space, and separate to the ‘cleaner’ tasks such as crafting bone and wooden objects, tools or jewellery.

“This was surprising as hunter-gatherers are known for being very mobile, as they would have to travel out to find food, and yet they have a very organised approach to creating not just a house but a sense of home.

“This new work, on these very early forms of houses suggests, that these dwellings didn’t just serve a practical purpose in the sense of having a shelter from the elements, but that certain social norms of a home were observed that are not massively dissimilar to how we organise our homes today.”

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : Bates J, Milner N, Conneller C, Little A (2024) Spatial organisation within the earliest evidence of post-built structures in Britain. PLoS ONE 19(7): e0306908. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0306908

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

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