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Top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2023

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The field of archaeology has been continuously evolving in 2023, making significant strides in uncovering new historical findings, preserving cultural heritage, and employing innovative technologies to study the past.

Sealed “Tomb of Cerberus” discovered in Giugliano

Archaeologists have discovered an exceptionally well-preserved tomb containing frescoes in the municipality of Giugliano in Campania, Italy. The most notable fresco depicts Cerberus (thus the tomb being designated “Tomb of Cerburus”), the three-headed dog from Ancient Greek mythology. Cerberus, also referred to as the “hound of Hades”, guarded the gates of the Underworld to prevent the dead from leaving. The scene represents the last of Heracles’ twelve labors, in which Cerberus is captured by Heracles. Find out more

Well-preserved 3,000-year-old sword found in Germany

The sword was found among a deposit of grave goods and weaponry, alongside the remains of a man, woman and child. The discovery is extremely rare for this part of Germany, as most burial mounds have long been looted during antiquity or opened during the 19th century. The sword is similar to the Bronze D type Rixheim swords, in that it uses a solid hilt made by overlay casting of the handle over the blade. Find out more

Researchers find oldest known Neanderthal engravings

A study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE has provided evidence to date the age and origin of engravings discovered on a cave wall in France. Conducted by a team of researchers led by Jean-Claude Marquet from the University of Tours, France, the study confirms that these engravings were undeniably crafted by Neanderthals, making them the oldest known examples of such artistic expressions attributed to this ancient human species. Find out more

Celestial reliefs depicting the heavens uncovered in the Temple of Esna

A team of researchers from the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and the Universitaet Tübingen, have uncovered a collection of ceiling reliefs during restoration works in the Temple of Esna. The reliefs are a representation of the heavens that depicts the signs of the zodiac, several planets such as Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, in addition to a number of stars and constellations used to measure time. Find out more

Lost Roman forts discovered using Cold War spy satellites

A study of declassified imagery taken by Cold War era satellites during the 1960s and 70s has led to the discovery of 396 previously undiscovered Roman forts. The forts are spread across the Syrian Steppe in what is now Syria and Iraq to protect the eastern provinces from Arab and Persian incursions. Find out more

Archaeologists uncover the first human representations of the ancient Tartessos people

A press release issued by the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) has announced the discovery of figured reliefs depicting human representations during excavations at Casas del Turuñuelo, a Tartessian site in the Province of Badajoz. Two of the reliefs appear to be female figures, which the researchers suggest could be representations from the Tartessian pantheon of gods. The three other reliefs are fragmented and in a poorer state of preservation, however, one of them has been identified as a Tartessian warrior. Find out more

Cache of Roman swords found in desert cave

According to a press announcement by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the discovery was made while researchers were inspecting a known Hebrew script inscription written on the walls of a small cave in the En Gedi Nature Reserve, Israel. While on the upper level of the cave, Asaf Gayer from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, spotted an extremely well-preserved Roman pilum in a deep narrow crevice. Upon notifying IAA, archaeologists have recovered four well-preserved swords that date from the Roman period around 1,900-years-ago. Find out more

Remains of the Theatrum Neroni used by Nero found in Rome

Excavations conducted by the Superintendence of Rome have uncovered the remains of the Theatrum Neroni, a private theatre erected by Emperor Nero in Rome, Italy. Until now, evidence of the Theatrum Neroni were only known from literary sources such as text written by Pliny the Elder, Suetonius and Tacitus. Nero used the private theatre for rehearsals of his singing performances in the Theatre of Pompey, and may have been where he was witness to the great Fire of Rome in AD 64. Find out more

Lost Maya city discovered in Mexican jungle

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have announced the discovery of a previously unknown Maya city in the forests of the Balamkú ecological reserve, Mexico. The city has been named Ocomtún (meaning “stone column”) due to numerous cylindrical stone columns that have been uncovered throughout the interior. Archaeologists made the discovery as part of a project to document and map unexplored areas of central Campache using high resolution photography and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDar). Find out more

Giant 2.3 metre-long dakoken sword among unprecedented discoveries in burial mound

Archaeologists from the Nara Municipal Buried Cultural Properties Research Centre, working in collaboration with the Nara Prefectural Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, have uncovered a giant 2.3 metre-long dakoken sword during excavations at the Tomiomaruyama burial mound in Nara City, Japan. The sword has a slightly bent blade like a snake, a typical example of a “dakoken” sword related to the worship of the snake god. The sword is the largest discovered intact in Japan, with experts suggesting served a ceremonial purpose to ward off evil. Find out more

Notable mention: 

A paper, published in the journal Archaeological Prospection in October 2023, claims that a pyramid lying beneath the prehistoric site of Gunung Padang in West Java, Indonesia, might have been constructed as far back as 27,000 years ago. However, many scientists have raised doubts about the researchers findings and the journal and its publisher, Wiley, have since launched an investigation into the paper. Find out more

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

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Giant catapult shots discovered from siege of Kenilworth Castle

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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 www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Sappers clear over 4,700 dangerous objects from WWII

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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 www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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