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Evidence of Neanderthal cannibalism found in Spanish cave

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Archaeologists conducting excavations in the Coves del Toll de Moià have uncovered evidence of Neanderthal cannibalism from more than 52,000-years-ago.

The Coves del Toll de Moià is a cave system in between the municipalities of Moià and Tona in the province of Barcelona, Spain. Situated in the Torrent Mal Valley, the cave was formed by dissolving Neogene limestone that created a 2km system.

Previous studies have found several faunal remains from the Late and Middle Pleistocene, including cave bears (Ursus spelaeus), hyenas (Crocuta crocuta spelaea), as well as remains of horses (Equus ferus), red deer (Cervus elaphus) and aurochs (Bos primigenius).

During the Middle Palaeolithic, the cave was inhabited by groups of Neanderthals, evidenced by previous discoveries of three Neanderthal children and stone tools.

In a recent study by archaeologists from the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES), and the CERCA Institute, the researchers have found fragments from the skull of a Neanderthal juvenile and a collarbone.

The remains have several cut marks, indicating that they were processed by other Neanderthals, and were possibly eaten by their relatives in activities related to cannibalism. Other identified remains are fragmented, possibly in order to access the marrow and other nutrients contained in the bones.

The finds have been dated to just before 52,000-years-ago, which were scattered over the surface at the entrance of the cave and mixed with the bones and teeth of other animals hunted by the Neanderthals inhabitants.

According to the researchers: “This is not the first documented case of cannibalism among Neanderthals, but it is the first identified in Southern Catalonia. Although anthropophagy does not seem to have been a common occurrence among these early humans, there are some sites in Europe that suggest similar practices.”

IPHES

Header Image Credit : IPHES

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Archaeology

Excavation of medieval shipbuilders reveals a Roman head of Mercury

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Excavations of a medieval shipbuilders has led to the discovery of a Roman settlement and a Roman head of Mercury.

The discovery was made at Smallhythe Place, a late 15th or early 16th century property managed by the National Trust near Tenterden in Kent, England.

Prior to the decline of the port and shipyard at Smallhythe during the 16th century, the local community played a crucial role in the shipbuilding industry, crafting vessels for notable figures, including members of royalty.

As part of a project funded by several UK institutions, over 60 volunteers from the National Trust participated in the excavation, along with professional archaeologists, students, and members of the Hastings Area Archaeological Research Group.

The excavation has revealed traces of a Roman settlement that was occupied between the 1st and 3rd centuries, including an incredibly rare figurine made of pipeclay that depicts the god, Mercury.

Mercury was a major god in the Roman pantheon and was associated with financial gain, commerce, eloquence, messages, communication (including divination), travellers, boundaries, luck, trickery, and thieves. He also served as the guide of souls to the underworld and was the messenger of the gods.

According to a press announcement by the National Trust: “This complete figurine probably would have depicted Mercury standing, either draped with a chlamys (a short cloak), or naked, holding a caduceus (a staff with two intertwined snakes).”

The team also unearthed thousands of artefacts, providing evidence of the evolution of Smallhythe Place from a Georgian farm to a midden dump, a shipbuilding site, and a brickworks.

The National Trust said: “To support our investigations, we received grants from the National Trust’s Inclusive Archaeology, Robert Kiln and the Roman Research Funds and from the Royal Archaeological Institute. During 2023, our project has received funding from the Society of Antiquaries and the William and Edith Oldham Charitable Trust.”

Header Image Credit : James Dobson

Sources : National Trust – Exploring Smallhythe Place: Archaeological Investigations by the River Rother

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

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Researchers find that Żagań-Lutnia5 is an Iron Age stronghold

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Archaeologists have conducted a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey of Żagań-Lutnia5, revealing that the monument is an Iron Age stronghold.

Żagań-Lutnia5 was first discovered in the 1960s near the town of Żagań in western Poland, with previous studies suggesting that the monument could be associated with the Białowieża group of the Lusatian urnfield culture.

The Lusatian culture existed in the later Bronze Age and early Iron Age (1300–500 BC) in most of what is now Poland. It formed part of the Urnfield systems found from eastern France, southern Germany and Austria to Hungary, and the Nordic Bronze Age in northwestern Germany and Scandinavia.

A recent study led by Dr. Arkadiusz Michalak on behalf of the Archaeological Museum of the Middle Oder River has revealed two parallel sequences of magnetic anomalies at Żagań-Lutnia5 that represent the remnants of earthen and wooden fortifications.

The course of the fortifications were recorded in the northern, western and southern parts of the study area, however, a study of the eastern section was limited due to a sewage collector built in the 1990’s.

Exploratory excavations found four cultural layers with remains of huts and hearths, in addition to a burnt layer from the last phase of occupation that suggests a period of conflict.

According to the researchers, the monument was likely built by the same people who constructed the stronghold in Wicin and a number of verified defensive settlements within the area of the Elbe, Nysa Łużycka and Odra.

As a result of the study, Żagań-Lutnia5 has been added to the catalogue of verified Early Iron Age strongholds located in today’s Lubusz Voivodeship.

Header Image Credit : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments

Sources : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments – Archaeological research at the site of Żagań-Lutnia5

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

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