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Melting glaciers reveal archaeological treasures

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Archaeologists from the Secrets Of The Ice project are uncovering archaeological treasures left by melting glaciers in the mountains of Norway.

The team have found remnants of reindeer hunts dating back 1,500 years in a survey of melting glaciers in the Breheimen National Park.

The archaeologists discovered a perfectly preserved flag made from radially split pine wood in the melting Spørteggbreen glacier, a 28-square-kilometre (11 sq mi) glacier located between the Jostedalsbreen and Harbardsbreen glaciers.

Ancient hunters attached the flag to scaring sticks placed in lines to direct herds of reindeer to predetermined locations. According to the researchers: “Reindeer are very sensitive animals and tend to shy away from human-like silhouettes or moving objects.” The sticks would scare the reindeer, directing them toward archers lying in wait.

Scaring sticks are known from Oppland and Møre and Romsdal counties in Norway. The Oppland finds have been dated to the Iron Age, with the majority of scaring sticks dated to the Migration Period (AD 400-570).

Image Credit : SECRETS OF THE ICE

The team also discovered an arrow at a site in Lauvhøe, which was found broken at both ends in a deposit of glacial silt. Most finds from the melting glaciers generally date from the Iron Age, however, the arrow is the first prehistoric find which dates from around 4,000-years-ago.

According to the researchers: “Length of exposure plays a major role in the preservation of artefacts found at an ice patch. This factor often correlates with the distance of the find spot from present day ice – the further away from the ice, the poorer the preservation. This may appear self-evident, but sometimes local conditions around the find spot may also be beneficial to artefact survival. This could, for example, be a large boulder that collects extra snow, and provides shade.”

“The prospect of making new discoveries from the retreating ice in the coming years is exiting and sad at the same time. As glacial archaeoogists, there is little we can do to stop global warming and ice melt. Our priority is to record the history of a melting world. The task is to rescue the artefacts, preserve them for the future and try to unlock the stories they can tell about the past.”

SECRETS OF THE ICE

Header Image Credit : SECRETS OF THE ICE

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Archaeology

Post-medieval township discovered in Scottish forest

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Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a pre-medieval township in the Glen Brittle Forest on the Isle of Skye.

The discovery was made during an environmental survey before the harvest of a mature conifer plantation.

AOC Archaeologists have found traces of 28 buildings, consisting of houses, byres, barns and corn-drying kilns, which are surrounded by fields and stock enclosures that traditionally formed a small clachan (or township).

An early 19th century map surveyed by John Thomson in 1832 names the site as the township of Brunell, a small agricultural township which dates from the 17th and 18th centuries.

A passage in the Parish of Bracadale on Skye describes Brunell as: “The parish produces black cattle, sheep and horses. Black cattle is the main staple… from the returns of which the people pay their rents and supply themselves with necessities. There are small quantities of sheep on each farm, but there is no farm laid out entirely to sheep pasture”

During the late 18th century, the township experienced a decline due to farms consolidating land for sheep-grazing and reduced the need for labour, consequently displacing and leaving the small tenants adrift.

By the Ordnance Survey of 1881, the town had dwindled to merely two roofless buildings and several fields, suggesting that the entire population had abandoned the township by this time.

According to Forestry and Land Scotland, the survey data was used to guide machine operators during tree harvesting, ensuring they could fell trees without causing harm to any archaeological features.

Header Image Credit : Forestry and Land Scotland

Sources : Forestry and Land Scotland – Dig deeper: revealing the ruins of Brunell Township.

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

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Geophysical study finds evidence of “labyrinth” buried beneath Mitla

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A geophysical study has found underground structures and tunnels beneath Mitla – The Zapotec “Place of the Dead”

Mitla is an archaeological site associated with the Zapotec culture, located in the Oaxaca Valley in the present-day state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.

The Zapotec civilisation emerged in the late 6th century BC, originating in the Central Valleys of the Etla. The culture was centred on the settlements of Oaxaca, San José Mogote, and Mitla, with the city of Monte Albán serving as the civic-ceremonial centre.

At its peak, the Zapotec had a population of more than 500,000 inhabitants, having developed sophisticated construction techniques, a writing system, two calendar systems, and complex agricultural cultivation.

In 2016, the Lyobaa Project, an institutional collaboration led by the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) employed ground penetrating radar (GPR), electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), and ambient seismic noise interferometry (AIRSA) to explore potential archaeological features beneath the San Pablo Apóstol church, built atop the Zapotec ruins in Mitla.

Image Credit : Lyobaa Project

According to local legend, the church was constructed on an entrance way to an underground labyrinth, serving as a passage between the realm of the living to the realm of the dead, referred to as Mictlán in Nahuatl, meaning the “place of the dead” or “underworld.”

In 1674, the Dominican chronicler, Francisco Burgoa, described Spanish missionaries entering the labyrinth: “Such was the corruption and bad smell, the dampness of the floor, and a cold wind which extinguished the lights, that at the little distance they had already penetrated, they resolved to come out, and ordered this infernal gate to be thoroughly closed with masonry.”

As part of phase two of the Lyobaa Project, the researchers have identified buried architectural complexes and a series of corridors during a study of the Calvario, Arroyo, and del Sur groups within the archaeological zone.

The Arroyo group, located in the central area of the site has three quadrangle features connected by tunnels that likely date from AD 1200 during the Late Postclassic period.

The project also conducted a survey of the quadrangular plaza where the San Pablo Apóstol church was constructed on the remains of a pre-Hispanic temple. Beneath the plaza the researchers found that there are four mounds with clay internal cores.

Archaeologist, Denisse Argote, said: “We were able to determine that, although the core of the stepped structure is solid, the foundation of the historic church requires short-term intervention to guarantee its conservation, so measures must be taken to ensure its structural stability.”

“There are cracks in the historic building, since it does not have a foundation and, underneath, in what corresponds to the remains of the pre-Hispanic building, it seems that there are areas with small cavities,” added Argote.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : INAH

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

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