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New discovery confirms that the Saint-Bélec slab is a “treasure map” for archaeologists

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Archaeologists have confirmed that the Saint-Bélec slab is a “treasure map”, revealing previously unknown ancient sites in north-western France.

The Saint-Bélec slab was discovered in 1900 by Paul du Châtellier in a prehistoric burial ground in Finistère, where it formed part of an early Bronze Age cist structure. Du Châtellier stored the slab at his home, Château de Kernuz, where it was forgotten until its rediscovery in 2014.

The slab is made from a grey-blue schist, thought to originate from rocky outcrops from the Precambrian period found close to Douarnenez in the region of Brittany.

The surface is engraved with geometric shapes such as lines, circles and squares, interpreted as symbols representing settlements, barrows and fields. According to the researchers, the symbols on the slab matched the landscape of the Odet valley in Finistère, with lines used to represent the river’s tributaries.

Recent excavations by archaeologists from the University of Western Brittany (UBO), have uncovered additional fragments belonging to the Saint-Bélec slab at the original discovery site. The fragments complete the puzzle, providing new evidence to indicate that the Saint-Bélec slab was indeed a map that could lead to many previously unknown ancient sites.

The results of a study, published in the journal Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, suggests that the topography of the slab was deliberately modified to show motifs representing structures from the Bronze Age, as well as enclosures, plot systems, tumulus, and roads.

According to the study: “The central motif on the Saint-Bélec slab could be interpreted as a central place of an early Bronze Age territory. One outstanding question is why it was made?”

“One possibility is that such a territorial depiction was a material and symbolic act. Set alongside the contemporary development of field systems in Brittany, the making of the slab suggests perhaps the appearance of a new form of land tenure, while the distribution of elite graves is closely linked to soil fertility. Against this background, we can hypothesize that the Saint-Bélec slab was used as a cadastral plan for managing the territory and controlling land.”

University of Western Brittany (UBO)

Header Image Credit : Denis Glicksman

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Archaeology

Study indicates that Firth promontory could be an ancient crannog

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A study by students from the University of the Highlands and Islands has revealed that a promontory in the Loch of Wasdale in Firth, Orkney, could be the remains of an ancient crannog.

A crannog is a partially or entirely artificial island, typically built in lakes and estuarine waters of Scotland from the prehistoric period onward.

Crannogs were used as dwellings, taking advantage of the natural surroundings that may have served to provide a defensive purpose.

Despite significant variations in methodology, most crannogs on mainland Scotland were built by driving timber piles into the loch bed and filling the interior with peat, brush, stones, or timber to create a solid foundation.

In largely treeless regions like the Western Isles, these island dwellings utilised a diverse mix of natural, artificially enlarged, or entirely artificial islets.

The discovery was made by students from the UHI Archaeology Institute, who were conducting test-pitting on a promontory at the northern end of the Loch of Wasdale.

According to a press statement by UHI: “It appears as an islet on the 1882 Ordnance Survey map. Little is known about the site, but the fact the shoreside edges appear to show the remains of walling led to the suggestion it may be a crannog.”

In his Reminiscences of an Orkney Parish, John Firth (1838-1922) wrote that this islet was once home to a kirk: “During the Middle Ages several chapels existed in the district now known as the parish of Firth – one on the island in the Loch of Wasdale.”

The test-pitting revealed large quantities of cairn-like rubble, in addition to more structural remains or a stone surface, indicating that the entire promontory/islet is artificial.

Martin Carruthers, a lecturer at UHI, said: “A structure made up of some very large masonry seems to lurk at the heart of the cairn makeup. Constructing this ‘monument’ must have been a very substantial undertaking.”

“In terms of artefacts, apart from some later post-medieval glazed pottery, we recovered a single worked flint, probably a ‘thumbnail’ scraper, which is most likely later Neolithic in date,” added Carruthers.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : UHI

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

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Archaeologists identify the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II

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Archaeologists from Sorbonne University have identified the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II, otherwise known as Ramesses the Great.

Ramesses II was the third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty during the New Kingdom period.
His reign is often regarded as the most celebrated in Egypt’s history, marked by several major military campaigns and numerous monument construction projects.

Based on supporting historical accounts, most Egyptologists suggest that Ramesses II assumed the throne in 1279 BC and reigned until his death at the age of around 90 in 1212 or 1213 BC.

His remains were interred in a tomb complex (designated KV7) in the Valley of the Kings, located opposite the tomb of his sons (KV5), and near the tomb (KV8) of his son and successor, Merenptah.

During the reign of Ramesses III during the 20th Dynasty, the tomb of Ramesses II was looted by grave robbers. Ancient texts record that priests moved his remains to the tomb of Queen Ahmose Inhapy, and then to the tomb of the high priest Pinedjem II.

His final resting place was a tomb (designated TT320), located next to Deir el-Bahari, in the Theban Necropolis opposite Luxor. The tomb is a Royal Cache containing the mummified remains of more than 50 kings, queens, and other royal family members of the New Kingdom period.

The mummy of Ramesses II was discovered in TT320 during excavations in 1881. He was found placed in a simple wooden coffin, suggesting that this was meant as a temporary measure until a more permanent resting place could be determined.

A new study, published in the Revue d’Égyptologie, suggests that a fragment of a sarcophagus discovered in 2009 at Abydos was part of the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II.

The sarcophagus fragment was found in a Coptic monastery and has recently been re-examined by Egyptologist Frédéric Payraudeau from Sorbonne University.

According to the study author, the decoration and texts on the sarcophagus fragment indicate that it was first used by Ramesses II (evidenced by the cartouche of Ramesses II), and later reused by a high priest of the 21st Dynasty, Menkheperre (around 1000 BC) who likely had the sarcophagus transported to Abydos after KV7 was looted.

Header Image Credit : Sarcophagus fragment – Kevin Cahail

Sources : cnrs | Le sarcophage de Ramsès II remployé à Abydos – Published in the Revue d’Égyptologie.

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

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