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Archaeologists uncover large Roman complex in gravel quarry



A team of archaeologists from the Office for the Preservation of Monuments and Archaeology have uncovered a large Roman complex during excavations in a gravel quarry near Cham-Oberwil, located in the canton of Zug, Switzerland.

The site is situated on an elevated position in the Äbnetwald region, where previous excavations have found evidence of settlements and graves from the Bronze Age and Iron Age periods.

Rescue excavations have been conducted in the quarry by the Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology since the 1990’s, with a recent study finding a series of large Roman buildings and rooms which belong to a complex that extends over an area of ​​at least 500 m2.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the complex dates from around 2,000-years-ago, giving researchers new insights into large-scale Roman occupation of the pre-Alpine region of Central Switzerland for the first time in almost 100 years.

Image Credit : David Jecker

Christa Ebnöther, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Bern, said: “Only a few structural buildings of this size are known from the Roman period in the pre-Alpine region – in contrast to other regions. What is also astounding is the relatively good preservation of the remains.”

The overall size of the complex and the function is yet to be determined. Archaeologists theorise that it may be a large villa, or possibly a temple.

Image Credit : Res Eichenberger

In addition to the complex’s foundation walls, the team have found everyday objects and high status finds – such as imported Roman tableware (terra sigillata from Italy and Gaul), a gold fragment, coins, glass vessels, pieces of amphorae, and large numbers of iron nails from a wooden construction.

“Thanks to this exemplary cooperation, we have been able to document numerous findings and save valuable finds in recent years,” says Karin Artho, head of the Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology. “These pieces of the puzzle make it possible to trace the life of our ancestors and to better understand our history.”

Kanton Zug

Header Image Credit : David Jecker

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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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