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Palaeolithic people used shells to decorate their bodies



Archaeologists from the University of Cádiz have discovered that early humans used seashells and fresh water shells to decorate their bodies 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.

The discovery was made during excavations in the Cave of Ardales, also known as the Cueva de Doña Trinidad Grund, an important prehistoric site in the Andalusian municipality of Ardales, Spain.

The cave was first discovered in 1821 following an earthquake exposing the cave entrance, with ongoing research finding Neanderthal artistic representations from 66,000-years ago and Neolithic funerary deposits from 5,000-years-ago.

A recent study of the cave, led by the University of Cádiz, in collaboration with the Neanderthal Museum of Colonia, the University of Colonia and the Cueva de Ardales, has found 13 shells in the cave strata that date from between 25,000 and 30,000 years ago.

Image Credit : University of Cádiz

According to the researchers, the shells were turned into decorative objects such as ornamental pendants as a body adornment. While the freshwater shells would have been found in local water sources, the seashells, namely molluscs, would have been transported over 50 kilometres from the coast.

Molluscs used as personal adornment in Gravettian context are scarce in the Iberian Peninsula. Less than 200 pieces have been barely found along the Mediterranean, and most of them in coastal sites.

Professor Juan Jesús Cantillo, from the University of Cádiz, said: ““it is unusual to find this type of marine remains in caves located so far inland and with such ancient chronologies. On the Mediterranean slope, only a little more than a hundred remains were known and all of them are located on the coast.”

According to the researchers, the results of the recent excavation and rock art from an earlier period suggest that the cave was used as a place for specialised symbolic activities during various phases of the Upper Palaeolithic.

University of Cádiz

Header Image Credit : University of Cádiz

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Maya tomb with funerary offerings found during hotel construction




A tomb with funerary offerings has been uncovered during the construction of the Tren Maya Hotel, in Palenque, Mexico.

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) conducted rescue excavations following the discovery, revealing skeletal remains associated with the Maya city of Palenque.

Palenque, also known as Lakamha in the Itza Language (meaning “Flat-Place-River”), is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

The city dates from 226 BC to AD 799, with most of the major construction works representing a rebuilding effort in response to attacks by the city of Calakmul and its client states in AD 599 and AD 611.

The population declined during the 8th century AD, instead becoming an agricultural population that led to the abandonment of the city zone. By 1520 following the Spanish conquest, contemporary Spanish accounts record the entire region being sparsely populated.

Excavations uncovered a stone lined funerary space sealed with limestone slabs, in which the researchers found the remains of a high-status individual who likely lived in the periphery of Palenque in a small settlement.

The burial is located at a depth of four metres, and also contained ceramic vessels and beads deposited as funerary offerings.

“The individual was placed face up with his legs extended and his head facing north,” said Diego Prieto Hernández from INAH.

The discovery was announced in a press conference reporting on the progress of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones (Promeza) in Palenque, Moral-Reforma and El Tigre, the three heritage sites that are served within Section 1 of the Mayan Train Project.


Header Image Credit : INAH

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Archaeologists unearth possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle




Archaeologists from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust may have discovered the possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Pembroke Castle was founded during the 11th century by Roger de Montgomerie, the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.

In 1452, Jasper Tudor was presented both the castle and the earldom by his half-brother, King Henry VI. In 1457, Henry VII was born at the castle, the only child of Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond.

Following Edward IV’s ascension to the throne in 1471, Henry VII endured 14 years of exile in Brittany. He eventually claimed the throne after his forces, with backing from France, Scotland, and Wales, emerged victorious over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, marking the climax of the Wars of the Roses.

Henry VII’s reign is credited with many administrative, economic, and tax reforms, having ruled for nearly 24 years until his death in 1509 at the age of 52. Henry VII was succeed by his second son, Henry, Duke of York, who ascended to the crown as Henry VIII.

Historians have long assumed that a 13th century tower on the outer ward (known today as Henry VII Tower) was the birth place of Henry VII. However, a recent study by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust has uncovered evidence of a late-medieval winged hall-house, broadly dating to the 15th century.

The walls of the structure extend to around 25 metres, with comparisons being drawn to medieval buildings found in England and East Wales, such as Penallt Mansion in Kidwelly. Historically, Pembroke Castle was situated in the English-speaking portion of Pembrokeshire, often referred to as “Little England beyond Wales.”

Speaking to the Western Telegraph, Neil Ludlow, a consultant to Pembroke Castle, said: “All our indications are pointing to a late-medieval building which was clearly of high status within Pembrokeshire, and it looks as if it was at least two-storeys, which possibly makes it a better candidate for the birthplace of a king rather that the tower that currently bears his name.”

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