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Archanas Minoan palace sparkled with gypsum



A study of the Minoan palace at Archanas has revealed that numerous architectural features used gypsum to make the palace sparkle.

The palace was built as a summer retreat for the Knossos kings, located in present-day Archanes, a former municipality in the Heraklion regional unit of Crete.

Since 1966, Archanes has been excavated by the Greek Archaeological Society under the supervision of Yannis Sakellarakis and Efi Sapouna-Sakellarakis.

Previous excavations have uncovered ashlar blocks, limestone plaques, stucco floor tiles, kouskoura slabs, blue marble flooring, carved concave altars, and several frescoes that date mainly from the Middle Minoan period.

Image Credit : Ministry of Education

The latest excavation in the northernmost part of the palace has revealed that architectural features such as pilasters, multi-doors, and entrance ways used gypsum to make the palace sparkle.

The word gypsum is derived from the Greek word gypsos, meaning “plaster”. Gypsum occurs in nature as flattened and often twinned crystals, and transparent, cleavable masses called selenite.

Evidence also points to the existence of a sanctuary, as indicated by the limited remnants of stone vessels. These remnants include a crystal vessel, a grey/leucolite vessel, an incised steatite vessel, and assorted obsidian fragments.

It is worth emphasizing that during the YMI period, approximately around 1600 BC, obsidian was not commonly used as a tool in Crete. Consequently, the abundance of obsidian discovered in this location is suggestive of a ritualistic use.

A fragment of a bronze buckle and the foot of a Mycenaean goblet were also found in the upper layers, along with a Doge of Venice coin, as well as a 1963 US coin. Finally, other fragments of conical cups, along with earlier “egg cups” (small vessels) show the disturbance of the layers as evidence of illegal “excavation” in the palace area by the owners of the house that was above it.

Greek Ministry of Culture

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Education

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Giant catapult shots discovered from siege of Kenilworth Castle




Archaeologists have uncovered eight 13th century catapult shots from the 1266 siege of Kenilworth Castle.

Kenilworth Castle, located in the town of Kenilworth in Warwickshire, England, is both a semi-royal palace and historic fortress.

Founded in the 1120s, the castle was the scene of the removal of Edward II from the English throne and the Earl of Leicester’s reception of Elizabeth I in 1575.

During the First Civil War (1642 to 1646), Kenilworth formed a useful counterbalance to the Parliamentary stronghold of Warwick. Following the defeat of royalist forces, Parliament ordered the slighting of Kenilworth 1649, leaving the castle a romantic ruin and popular tourist attraction over the centuries.

Recent works to improve a pathway on castle grounds has led to the discovery of eight giant catapult shots. According to the archaeologists, the shots date from the Siege of Kenilworth (1266), a six-month siege of the castle during the Second Barons’ War.

The conflict was between a number of barons led by Simon de Montfort (who had custody of Kenilworth Castle) against the royalist forces of King Henry III, and later his son, the future King Edward I.

Image Credit : English Heritage

According to historical accounts, the siege was the largest to occur in Medieval England and involved numerous “turres ligneas” (wooden towers), trebuchets, and catapults which fired the giant shots.

The shots are of varying sizes, with the largest weighing 105 kg and the smallest just 1 kg. “’These would have caused some serious damage when fired from war machines. Records show that one of Henry III’s wooden siege towers, containing around 200 crossbowmen, was destroyed by just one well-aimed missile,” said Will Wyeth, English Heritage’s Properties Historian.

Header Image Credit : English Heritage

Sources : English Heritage

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Sappers clear over 4,700 dangerous objects from WWII




A team of sappers under archaeological supervision have cleared over 4,700 dangerous objects from WWII on the Westerplatte Peninsula in Gdańsk, Poland.

Situated at the mouth of the Dead Vistula on the Baltic Sea coast, the peninsula was the site of the Battle of Westerplatte, one of the initial clashes between Polish and German forces during the invasion of Poland in WWII.

The Polish garrison held out for seven days, repelling thirteen German assaults. The battle became a symbol of Polish resistance, tying up substantial German forces at Westerplatte and preventing over 3,000 German soldiers from providing fire support in the nearby battles of Hel and Gdynia.

Image Credit : The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk

The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk led the clearing of the Westerplatte area, working in conjunction with soldiers from the 43rd Naval Sapper Battalion, the Engineer Battalion Sapper Company from the 2nd Sapper Regiment from Kazuń Nowy, and a team of archaeologists to supervise and document any archaeological material.

The clearance works have uncovered over 4,700 dangerous objects in the duration of the project along with 180 historical artefacts.

“To date, specialists have penetrated an area of ​​over 13.5 hectares, resulting in the discovery of over 4,700 dangerous objects, including 3 air bombs, one of which weighing 500 kg was located only 30 cm below the ground surface ” – said the head of the Archaeological Department of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, Filip Kuczma.

Some of these objects include almost 200 artillery shells, mortar and hand grenades, and small arms ammunition. Other WWII objects include elements from the soldier’s uniforms, lead seals, and parts of the railway infrastructure in Westerplatte.

The team also uncovered cannonballs, musket shells, coins, decorative stove tiles, and ceramics from the time of the War of the Polish succession (1733 to 1738) and the Napoleonic period (1799 to 1815).

Header Image Credit : The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk

Sources : The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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