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Royal tombs found in Cyprus full of precious artefacts

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Archaeologists from the University of Gothenburg have uncovered royal tombs near the Bronze Age city of Dromolaxia Vizatzia, located at Hala Sultan Tekke on the south eastern coast of Cyprus.

The tombs date from the around 1500 to 1300 BC during a period when the city was a centre for the copper trade, which according to the researchers are among the “richest” tombs ever discovered in the Mediterranean region.

Professor Peter Fishcher from the University of Gothenburg said: “It is a reasonable assumption that these were royal tombs, even though we do not know much about the form of government practiced in the city at the time.”

The site was discovered using magnetometers, a device used for measuring the Earth’s magnetic field in geophysical surveys to detect magnetic anomalies of various types, and to determine the dipole moment of magnetic materials.

Image Credit : Professor Peter Fishcher

“We compared the site where broken pottery had been ploughed during farming with the magnetometer map, which showed large cavities one to two metres below the surface. This led us to continue investigating the area and to discover the tombs,” said Professor Fischer.

The tombs consist of underground chambers each measuring up to 4 x 5 metres, which are accessed via a narrow passageway from the surface. Inside two of the chambers the team found over 500 complete artefacts, consisting of precious metals, gems, bronze weapons, ivory, high-status ceramics, and a gold-framed seal made of haematite.

Around half of the tomb contents were imported from neighbouring cultures and civilisations. Gold and ivory came from Egypt, precious stones were imported from Afghanistan, India and Sinai, while  amber objects came from the Baltic region.

Excavations also revealed several well-preserved skeletons, including a burial containing a woman who was found surrounded by dozens of ceramic vessels, jewellery and a round bronze mirror.

Professor Fishcher, said: “Several individuals, both men and women, wore diadems, and some had necklaces with pendants of the highest quality, probably made in Egypt during the 18th dynasty at the time of such pharaohs as Thutmos III, and Amenophis IV (Akhenaten) and his wife Nefertiti.”

University of Gothenburg

Header Image Credit : Professor Peter Fishcher

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Archaeology

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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