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Golden eagle pin found in Bronze Age burial

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Archaeologists from Cotswold archaeology have uncovered a pin made from a golden eagle’s phalanx during excavations of a Bronze Age burial in Oxfordshire, England.

The discovery was made during excavations on the site of the A40 Science Transit park & ride at Eynsham for Balfour Beatty, acting on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council.

The team were excavating an Early Bronze Age cremation burial when they uncovered the grave of a child and a piece of worked animal bone in a shallow pit.

A closer examination by Sharon Clough (CA Osteoarchaeologist) and Matty Holmes (Consultant Zooarchaeologist) has revealed that the bone is actually a pin fashioned from the phalanx (toe bone) of a golden eagle, the only example found in a funerary context from the Bronze Age in England.

Golden eagles were common in England until populations began to decline in the 18th century as a result of illegal killings by sheep farmers and shooting by gamekeepers in the 19th century. By 1850, golden eagles became extinct in England and Wales, and in Ireland by 1912, although more recently they have been reintroduced numbering in the range of 400 to 500 breeding pairs.

A hole in one end of the pin suggests that it was worn with a fibre cord and was likely deposited in the burial as a pyre good. According to the researchers: “The choice of eagle bone is likely to have been significant and it is possible such an object could have been considered talismanic, or was linked perhaps with afterlife beliefs, raising further questions about its use as a pyre good for a child.”

Excavations also revealed evidence for roundhouse buildings, post-built structures, and probable livestock enclosures dating from the Middle Iron Age. The roundhouses are defined by shallow ring ditches that represent drainage features enclosing a central building, and several pits and postholes were discovered within the interiors of two of these roundhouses, which would have held structural elements, such as posts for roof supports.

Cotswold Archaeology

Header Image Credit : Cotswold Archaeology

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Archaeology

Trove of Roman objects linked to feasting found at Ostia antica

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Archaeologists have uncovered a trove of Roman objects linked to ritual feasting at Ostia antica.

Ostia Antica is an ancient harbour town located at the mouth of the Tiber River. The harbour served as the main port for Rome, transporting goods and people from the coast along the Via Ostiensis.

Archaeologists recently excavated the area of Regio I – Insula XV, a “sacred area” or precinct housing several temples and sanctuaries. At the centre is the temple of Hercules,  a 31 x 16 metre monument which dates from the Republican Era.

Excavations have revealed a substantial well situated at the base of the temple of Hercules. Upon draining the well, it was discovered to hold a significant collection of objects dating from the 1st to 2nd century AD.

Among the objects are various ceramics, miniatures, lamps, glass containers, fragments of marble, and burnt animal bones (pigs and cattle). According to the archaeologists, the trove corresponds with ritual feasting associated with cult at the temple.

In a press statement by the Ministry of Culture: “The discovery of burnt bones confirms that animal sacrifices were carried out in the sanctuary, while the common ceramics, also bearing traces of fire, indicate that the meat was cooked and consumed during banquets in honour of divinity. The remains of one or more ritual meals were thrown into the well, the last ones probably when their function had ceased.”

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Culture

Sources : Ministry of Culture

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

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Archaeology

Labyrinthine structure discovered from the Minoan civilisation

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Archaeologists have discovered a monumental labyrinthine structure on the summit of Papoura Hill in Crete.

The discovery was made during the installation of a radar system in preparation for the construction of a new airport in the area.

According to experts, the structure dates from between 2000 to 1700 BC shortly before or at the start of the palaeopalatial Minoan period.

The Minoan civilisation was a Bronze Age culture that emerged on the island of Crete around 3100 BC. The culture is known for the monumental architecture and energetic art, and is often regarded as the first civilisation in Europe.

Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

The chronology of the Minoans is characterised into three distinct phases – Early Minoan (EM), Middle Minoan (MM), and Late Minoan (LM).

The palaeopalatial structure is part of the MMI – II grouping in the Middle Minoan, a period in which the first palaces were built and saw the development of the Minoan writing systems, Cretan hieroglyphic and Linear A.

The structure comprises of 8 concentric stone rings that converge on a central circular building. The entire diameter of the complex measures 48 metres and covers an area of approximately 1800 square metres.

Within the central structure are four designated zones in which radial walls intersect vertically and form a labyrinthine structure. Zones A and B appear to be have the main concentration of human activity, evidenced by the presence of large amounts of animals bones.

According to the experts, this residential area likely had a truncated cone or vaulted appearance and is the first monument of this type excavated in Crete. It can perhaps be paralleled with the elliptical MM building of the Chamezi Archaeological Site, as well as with the so-called circular proto-Hellenic cyclopean building of Tiryns.

The Minister of Culture, said: “This is a unique and highly significant find. Solutions are in place to ensure the completion of the archaeological research and the protection of the monument.”

Header Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

Sources : Greek Ministry of Culture

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

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