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Well-preserved 3,000-year-old sword found in Germany

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Archaeologists from the Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments have announced the discovery of a well-preserved Bronze Age sword in the town of Nördlingen, Bavaria, Germany.

Most Bronze Age remains around Nördlingen belong to the Urnfield Culture (often divided into several local cultures within a broader Urnfield tradition) which emerged around 1300 BC. The Urnfield Culture grew from the preceding Tumulus Culture and developed advanced metal working skills in Bronze weaponry and armour.

The sword was found among a deposit of grave goods and weaponry, alongside the remains of a man, woman and child. The discovery is extremely rare for this part of Germany, as most burial mounds have long been looted during antiquity or opened during the 19th century.

The sword is similar to the Bronze D type Rixheim swords, in that it uses a solid hilt made by overlay casting of the handle over the blade, although the sword type has been described as “octagonal”.

Image Credit : Dr. Woidich

The hilt is ornately decorated, while the blade shows no indication of impact marks. This suggests that the sword had a ceremonial function or was a symbol of high status. However, according to the researchers, it would still have served as an effective weapon as the centre of gravity on the front part of the blade indicates that it would be used predominantly for slashing.

Mathias Pfeil, head of the Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments, said: “The sword and the burial still have to be examined so that our archaeologists can classify this find more precisely. But it can already be said: the condition is exceptional! A find like this is very rare!”

Whether the sword was locally crafted or was imported is currently being investigated. There are three main distribution centres during the bronze age for octagonal swords of this type, one in Southern Germany and the others in Northern Germany and Denmark.

A comparison of the casting techniques and the decoration shows that some of the octagonal swords in the North are apparently replicas of South German forms, while other pieces could be genuine imports or the product of “wandering craftsmen”.

Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments

Header Image Credit : Dr. Woidich

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Maya tomb with funerary offerings found during hotel construction

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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.

INAH

Header Image Credit : INAH

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Archaeologists unearth possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle

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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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