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Mystery of Cerne Abbas Giant solved?

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Researchers from Oxford University suggest that the Cerne Abbas Giant depicts the image of Hercules, the Roman equivalent of the Greek divine hero Heracles, and served as a muster station for armies during the Saxon period.

The Cerne Abbas Giant is a 55 metre tall carved hill figure near the village of Cerne Abbas in Dorset, England. The origins of the giant has long been a mystery, with the earliest written record dating to the late 17th century.

The figure depicts a colossal naked man carrying a knotted club and has a line across the waist that has been suggested to represent a belt.

A study conducted in 1996 observed alterations in certain characteristics over time. It concluded that when originally carved, the figure had a cloak draped over its left arm and potentially held an object, speculated to be a severed head beneath its left hand.

Tests conducted by the National Trust in 2021 determined that the giant was carved in the Anglo-Saxon period between AD 700–1100, when the land was owned by the West Saxon royal family in the 9th Century and the 10th Century.

A further study by researchers from Oxford University now suggest that the figure depicts Hercules and was a muster station for West Saxon armies during a period when Saxon kingdoms were in conflict with invading Vikings.

According to the researchers, the giant’s position, protruding from a ridge and situated near major route ways, combined with nearby fresh water sources and the locality to a West Saxon estate made it the perfect mustering spot.

The study also suggests that the figure was reinterpreted as portraying Saint Eadwold by the monks at Cerne Abbey in a bid to lay claim to the saint’s relics. References to the giant are also alluded in an 11th-century manuscript housed at the British Library, which recounts the tale of a nearby hermit, Saint Eadwold, planting his staff atop the hill.

Dr Morcom, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oslo, told the BBC: “Having a large, very obviously naked, pagan figure on your doorstep was an inconvenient fact for the monks and they engaged in a piece of intellectual interpretation, associating him with their patron saint, Eadwold.”

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

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Archaeology

Trove of Roman objects linked to feasting found at Ostia antica

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Archaeologists have uncovered a trove of Roman objects linked to ritual feasting at Ostia antica.

Ostia Antica is an ancient harbour town located at the mouth of the Tiber River. The harbour served as the main port for Rome, transporting goods and people from the coast along the Via Ostiensis.

Archaeologists recently excavated the area of Regio I – Insula XV, a “sacred area” or precinct housing several temples and sanctuaries. At the centre is the temple of Hercules,  a 31 x 16 metre monument which dates from the Republican Era.

Excavations have revealed a substantial well situated at the base of the temple of Hercules. Upon draining the well, it was discovered to hold a significant collection of objects dating from the 1st to 2nd century AD.

Among the objects are various ceramics, miniatures, lamps, glass containers, fragments of marble, and burnt animal bones (pigs and cattle). According to the archaeologists, the trove corresponds with ritual feasting associated with cult at the temple.

In a press statement by the Ministry of Culture: “The discovery of burnt bones confirms that animal sacrifices were carried out in the sanctuary, while the common ceramics, also bearing traces of fire, indicate that the meat was cooked and consumed during banquets in honour of divinity. The remains of one or more ritual meals were thrown into the well, the last ones probably when their function had ceased.”

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Culture

Sources : Ministry of Culture

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

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Archaeology

Labyrinthine structure discovered from the Minoan civilisation

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Archaeologists have discovered a monumental labyrinthine structure on the summit of Papoura Hill in Crete.

The discovery was made during the installation of a radar system in preparation for the construction of a new airport in the area.

According to experts, the structure dates from between 2000 to 1700 BC shortly before or at the start of the palaeopalatial Minoan period.

The Minoan civilisation was a Bronze Age culture that emerged on the island of Crete around 3100 BC. The culture is known for the monumental architecture and energetic art, and is often regarded as the first civilisation in Europe.

Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

The chronology of the Minoans is characterised into three distinct phases – Early Minoan (EM), Middle Minoan (MM), and Late Minoan (LM).

The palaeopalatial structure is part of the MMI – II grouping in the Middle Minoan, a period in which the first palaces were built and saw the development of the Minoan writing systems, Cretan hieroglyphic and Linear A.

The structure comprises of 8 concentric stone rings that converge on a central circular building. The entire diameter of the complex measures 48 metres and covers an area of approximately 1800 square metres.

Within the central structure are four designated zones in which radial walls intersect vertically and form a labyrinthine structure. Zones A and B appear to be have the main concentration of human activity, evidenced by the presence of large amounts of animals bones.

According to the experts, this residential area likely had a truncated cone or vaulted appearance and is the first monument of this type excavated in Crete. It can perhaps be paralleled with the elliptical MM building of the Chamezi Archaeological Site, as well as with the so-called circular proto-Hellenic cyclopean building of Tiryns.

The Minister of Culture, said: “This is a unique and highly significant find. Solutions are in place to ensure the completion of the archaeological research and the protection of the monument.”

Header Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

Sources : Greek Ministry of Culture

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

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