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Archaeologists have uncovered a 4,000-year-old solar sanctuary in the Netherlands



The discovery was made during excavations of the Medel industrial estate in Tiel, revealing a large 4000-year-old sanctuary dedicated to the sun.

The sanctuary consists of several raised mounds, the largest of which has a diameter of 20 metres and has a shallow ditch with several passage openings which are aligned with the sun on the summer and winter solstices.

The alignment of the sanctuary with the movements of the sun indicates the significant importance placed on tracking celestial patterns by its ancient builders. The site is comparable to Stonehenge in England, where according English Heritage: “Midsummer and midwinter may have been important times of year to remember the dead or to worship a solar deity.”

Excavations also found ritual offerings of animal skeletons, human skulls, and a bronze spearhead, which were deposited in the openings at the precise spot where the sun shone during the solstices.

Image Credit : Municipality of Tiel

According to the researchers: “The sanctuary must have been a highly significant place where people kept track of special days in the year, performed rituals and buried their dead. Rows of poles stood along pathways used for processions.”

In the vicinity of the sanctuary are numerous burial mounds, in which archaeologists have found the remains of more than 80 individuals either as cremated burials or inhumation burials. The largest of these mounds contained the remains of men, women and a large concentration of children, and appears to have been an active site for burying the dead for around 800 years.

Previous studies in the vicinity of the sanctuary have uncovered a glass bead from Iraq (suggesting that the inhabitants of the region had some level of contact with people almost 5000 kilometres away some 4000-years-ago), as well as more than a million finds from the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman Age and the Middle Ages.

Municipality of Tiel

Header Image Credit : Alexander van de Bunt / Municipality of Tiel

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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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