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Archaeologists find altar in ancient Segesta



According to an announcement by the Sicilian Region Institutional Portal, archaeologists excavating in ancient Segesta have discovered an altar from the Hellenistic period.

Segesta was one of the major cities of the Elymians, a people of Italic origin that shared the island of Sicily with the Phoenicians and Greek settlers. Although the origins of Segesta are obscured, the first recorded mention dates to around 580 BC which describes a conflict between Segesta and Selinus (modern Selinunte).

Culturally, Segesta exhibited Greek influences, and inscriptions on pottery show that the local dialect was written in the Greek alphabet. During the 5th century BC, the city was allied with Athens, and lured the Athenians to embark on the failed Sicilian Expedition during the Peloponnesian War between Athens on one side and Sparta, Syracuse and Corinth on the other.

The ruins of Segesta are located on the northwestern part of Sicily near the summit of Monte Bàrbaro, consisting of a Doric temple, an agora (central public space), an amphitheatre, and several remnants of the city walls.

Image Credit : Sicilian Region Institutional Portal

Archaeologists excavating a building known as Casa del Navarca have uncovered two architectural elements made of stone, which upon closer examination have been identified as an altar from the Hellenistic period.

The altar would have been placed in a domestic dwelling for worship, with the first element featuring decorative moldings and small ovals reminiscent of necklace beads, a relief with baskets overflowing with flowers and fruits, and a carved slot for inserting a metal hook. The second element shows a chiseled surface on three sides which suggests that it was plastered, however, very little of the decorative features survive except for a molded cornice.

Francesco Paolo Scarpinato, the Regional Councillor for Cultural Heritage, said: “The excavations continue to bring to light ever-changing remains, which add new perspectives and interpretations to a site where multiple civilizations are stratified.”

Sicilian Region Institutional Portal

Header Image Credit : Sicilian Region Institutional Portal

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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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