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Traces of meteoric iron in the Villena Treasure

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A study published in the journal Prehistory Works, indicates that two objects sampled from the Villena Treasure were smithed using meteoric iron.

The paper, titled: “Meteorite iron in the Villena Treasure?”, was conducted by researchers from the National Archaeological Museum, the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (Saudi Arabia) and the CSIC Institute of History.

The Villena Treasure is one of the most important Bronze Age hoard finds in the Iberian Peninsula, discovered by José María Soler in 1963 in Villena, Spain. Archaeologists uncovered a collection of bowls, bottles, and bracelets, which were ornately crafted from gold, silver, iron and amber.

Iron was considered a precious metal before the advent of iron smelting, where meteoric iron was the only source of iron metal used to make jewellery, tools, and weapons during the Bronze Age.

Iron sourced from meteorites is generally composed of an iron-nickel alloy (Fe-Ni) with a variable nickel composition that is usually greater than 5% by weight.

The study conducted an analysis of two objects from the Villena Treasure made from iron. One is an iron bracelet, and the other is a small hollow semisphere adorned with an openwork sheet of gold, believed to be the upper part of a sceptre or staff.

Samples taken from the objects revealed that both pieces clearly indicate traces of iron and nickel, with visible peaks of Fe(Kÿ and Kÿ) and Ni(Kÿ and Kÿ).

Samples were then sent to Curt-Engelhorn-Centre of Archaeometry gGmbH to conduct a mass spectrometry study, revealing that the cap was most likely made from meteoric iron with a comparative reference to the global composition of the iron Mundrabilla meteorite that fell to the earth less than one million-years-ago.

According to the study authors: “The available data suggest that the cap and bracelet are the first two pieces attributable to meteoritic iron in the Iberian Peninsula, which is compatible with a chronology from the Late Bronze Age prior to the start of widespread terrestrial iron production.”

Villena Treasure – Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

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

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Archaeology

Archaeologists may have discovered the lost city of Tu’am

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Excavations in the Umm Al Quwain area of the UAE have revealed 6th century ruins that could be the lost city of Tu’am.

The ruins are situated on Al Sinniyah Island, part of a collection of small islands on the western part of the Khor Al Bidiyah peninsula.

Previous studies on the island have revealed a pearling village and monastery, which has been the focus of the latest season of excavations.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of a larger settlement, with the earliest signs of occupation dating back to the 4th century AD and peaking in the 5th or 6th century.

The team uncovered traces of large semi-urbanised tenement buildings measuring 30 square metres, which are tightly packed around narrow walkways. According to the researchers, the settlement could be the lost city of Tu’am as described in Ancient Arab texts.

Tu’am was a regional capital on the Gulf coast that was famed for its pearl fishing industry and trade in precious gems.

The population went into decline following a plague and regional tensions, and subsequently was abandoned. Mass graves in the vicinity support the historical account of plague, as the skeletal remains show no evidence of trauma or a violent death.

“Our archaeological work has discovered the largest settlement by far ever found on the Gulf coast of the Emirates,” said Prof Tim Power of UAE University.

“And it’s exactly the right period for the city described in the early Islamic geographical sources. It’s clearly a really important place. No one has ever found it.”

Professor Power explained that while they have not found irrefutable evidence (such as an inscription bearing the town’s name), no other major settlements from this period have been discovered on the coast, strengthening the argument that the settlement is Tu’am. “It’s a process of elimination,” he explained.

Header Image Credit : Umm Al Quwain Department of Tourism and Archaeology

Sources : NUAE

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

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New findings in North America’s first city

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Cahokia was the largest urban settlement of the Mississippian culture, a mound-building pre-Columbian civilisation that emerged in the Midwestern, Eastern, and South-eastern United States.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the city was founded around AD 1050 along the banks of the Mississippi River, located near present-day St. Louis, Missouri.

The city covered an area between six to nine square miles (notably larger than many contemporary European cities such as London) and was home to up to 20,000 inhabitants at its peak.

Following the tradition of the Mississippian culture, the people of Cahokia constructed large earthen mounds – ranging from raised platforms, conical, and ridge-top designs – involving the movement of 55 million cubic feet of earth over a period that lasted several decades.

The largest mound is known as “Monks Mound,” named after a group of Trappist monks, which rises to a height of 290 metres and was once the tallest building construction in North America.

Image Credit : MattGush – iStock

Archaeologists and students from Saint Louis University (SLU) have recently conducted a series of excavations on the western periphery of the Cahokia Mounds.

The team unearthed 900-year-old ceramics, microdrills, structures, and wall trenches dating from around AD 1100 to 1200, during the Sterling Phase of the Mississippian Period. According to the archaeologists, the finds offer new insights into a crucial period in the chiefdom’s development, coinciding with Cahokia’s rapid population growth.

The excavations follow an aerial survey by SLU and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to conduct Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to determine whether further mounds or archaeological features lie within the acres of thick forests and swampy land near the site’s main complex.

Header Image Credit : Alamy

Sources : KSDK

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

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