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Archaeologists find gaming piece with runic inscriptions

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Archaeologists conducting rescue excavations in Trondheim, Norway, have found a gaming piece with carved runic inscriptions.

The discovery was made in the city’s medieval centre where a trading post named Kaupangen was founded in AD 997 by the Viking King, Olav Tryggvason. The settlement emerged into the capital of Norway and the king’s seat, remaining an important Norse centre until it was overshadowed by Ánslo (Oslo).

The team were excavating in preparation for repairs on a sewer pipe that was dug into the early context layers, revealing the gaming piece among several other discoveries,

In the uppermost layers they found partially preserved planks and evidence of 11th to 12th century AD pits dug to a depth of 3.8 metres. In one of the pits they discovered a gaming piece made of soapstone, a high-purity talc rock commonly used by the Vikings for making everyday objects.

High-resolution images of the gaming piece were sent to runologist, Karen Langsholt Holmqvist, who confirmed that the uneven geometric pattern carvings were actually runes. The runes follow the shape of the gaming piece and has been translated to say “siggifr”.

The “Sig” is possibly a hypocorism for a common Norse name such as Sigurd, Sigbjørn, Sigfrid and Sigrid. When the name ends with an “r”, it is assumed that it refers to a male name.  The word “sifr” is a heiti, a synonym used in Old Norse poetry in place of the normal word for something.

Dag-Øyvind Engtrø Solem, an archaeologist at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, said: “I only know of one other playing piece with runes (in the country) that was found at Bryggen in Bergen. The interesting thing is that it is also uncertain whether the inscription (“Viking”, which was a common name in the Middle Ages) refers to the person who owned the object, the person who made the inscription, or whether it was the nickname of the playing piece.”

NIKU

Header Image Credit : Dag-Øyvind Engtrø Solem

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Archaeology

Archaeologists may have discovered the lost city of Tu’am

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Excavations in the Umm Al Quwain area of the UAE have revealed 6th century ruins that could be the lost city of Tu’am.

The ruins are situated on Al Sinniyah Island, part of a collection of small islands on the western part of the Khor Al Bidiyah peninsula.

Previous studies on the island have revealed a pearling village and monastery, which has been the focus of the latest season of excavations.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of a larger settlement, with the earliest signs of occupation dating back to the 4th century AD and peaking in the 5th or 6th century.

The team uncovered traces of large semi-urbanised tenement buildings measuring 30 square metres, which are tightly packed around narrow walkways. According to the researchers, the settlement could be the lost city of Tu’am as described in Ancient Arab texts.

Tu’am was a regional capital on the Gulf coast that was famed for its pearl fishing industry and trade in precious gems.

The population went into decline following a plague and regional tensions, and subsequently was abandoned. Mass graves in the vicinity support the historical account of plague, as the skeletal remains show no evidence of trauma or a violent death.

“Our archaeological work has discovered the largest settlement by far ever found on the Gulf coast of the Emirates,” said Prof Tim Power of UAE University.

“And it’s exactly the right period for the city described in the early Islamic geographical sources. It’s clearly a really important place. No one has ever found it.”

Professor Power explained that while they have not found irrefutable evidence (such as an inscription bearing the town’s name), no other major settlements from this period have been discovered on the coast, strengthening the argument that the settlement is Tu’am. “It’s a process of elimination,” he explained.

Header Image Credit : Umm Al Quwain Department of Tourism and Archaeology

Sources : NUAE

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

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Archaeology

New findings in North America’s first city

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Cahokia was the largest urban settlement of the Mississippian culture, a mound-building pre-Columbian civilisation that emerged in the Midwestern, Eastern, and South-eastern United States.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the city was founded around AD 1050 along the banks of the Mississippi River, located near present-day St. Louis, Missouri.

The city covered an area between six to nine square miles (notably larger than many contemporary European cities such as London) and was home to up to 20,000 inhabitants at its peak.

Following the tradition of the Mississippian culture, the people of Cahokia constructed large earthen mounds – ranging from raised platforms, conical, and ridge-top designs – involving the movement of 55 million cubic feet of earth over a period that lasted several decades.

The largest mound is known as “Monks Mound,” named after a group of Trappist monks, which rises to a height of 290 metres and was once the tallest building construction in North America.

Image Credit : MattGush – iStock

Archaeologists and students from Saint Louis University (SLU) have recently conducted a series of excavations on the western periphery of the Cahokia Mounds.

The team unearthed 900-year-old ceramics, microdrills, structures, and wall trenches dating from around AD 1100 to 1200, during the Sterling Phase of the Mississippian Period. According to the archaeologists, the finds offer new insights into a crucial period in the chiefdom’s development, coinciding with Cahokia’s rapid population growth.

The excavations follow an aerial survey by SLU and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to conduct Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to determine whether further mounds or archaeological features lie within the acres of thick forests and swampy land near the site’s main complex.

Header Image Credit : Alamy

Sources : KSDK

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

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