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Traces of Saxon town found beneath London’s National Gallery

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Archaeologists from Archaeology South-East have uncovered traces of the Saxon town of Lundenwic beneath the National Gallery in London.

Following the collapse of Roman Britain, Londoninium (London) fell to ruin and was abandoned during the 5th century AD.

Anglo-Saxons settled 1.6 km’s to the west of the former Roman capital, establishing a small town known as Lundenwic in the area of present-day Covent Garden.

During the 6th century AD, England was split into multiple Anglo-Saxon kingdoms termed the Heptarchy. As borders changed through conquest and marriage, the town of Lundenwic found itself first within the domain of Essex, then Mercia, and subsequently Wessex.

Image Credit : Archaeology South-East

Repeated Viking raids during the 9th century led to the abandonment of Lundenwic and the re-population of Londinium for safety behind the Roman walls. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes that Alfred the Great “re-founded” London, known then as Lundenburg.

Archaeology South-East, which is part of the UCL Institute of Archaeology, has announced the discovery of Saxon material during excavations of the Sainsbury Wing at the National Gallery.

According to the researchers, the discovery now indicates that the town’s urban centre extended further west than previously thought. Excavations revealed a hearth, postholes, stokehole’s, pits, ditches, and levelling deposits from the western suburb of the town. Carbon dating of the hearth has returned a date range from between AD 659-774.

The excavations were undertaken as part of the National Gallery’s ‘NG200: Welcome’, a redevelopment project forming part of the Gallery’s Bicentenary celebrations.

Stephen White, who led the Jubilee Walk excavations for Archaeology South-East, said: “Excavating at the National Gallery was an incredible opportunity to investigate interesting archaeology and to be involved with some truly outstanding outreach.”

“The evidence we uncovered suggests the urban centre of Lundenwic extends further west than originally thought. This was made all the more exciting by having the chance to share that information, and how it relates to archaeology across London, with young people from this city,” added White.

Header Image Credit : Archaeology South-East

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

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Archaeology

Gold foils discovered in Ancient Egyptian tombs

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Archaeologists from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities have discovered rare gold foils during excavations at Tel El-Dir.

Tel El-Dir is a burial complex in the area of Egypt’s Damietta Governorate. The site contains various burials and tombs from the 26th Dynasty (664 BC to 525 BC), the last native dynasty of ancient Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC.

Excavations of 63 mud brick tombs and pit burials have revealed a large collection of funerary offerings, including rare gold foils depicting Ancient Egyptian deities, and foils shaped like symbols associated with good fortune and protection.

The team also found foils in the shape of tongues, a tradition that enabled the deceased to speak before the court of Osiris in the afterlife.

Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

The discovery follows on from a previous haul in 2022, where archaeologists excavating at Tel El-Dir found gold foils depicting Isis, Bastet and Horus (in the form of a winged falcon), as well as foils in various shapes.

According to a press statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, many of the tombs contained funeral pyres, imported and local ceramics, and Ushabti statues (figurines placed with the deceased to serve them in the afterlife).

The excavation has also yielded a large number of funerary offerings, such as protective amulets, figurines, coins, and a mirror.

Speaking on the finds, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities explained that the objects confirm that Damietta was a centre of trade during ancient times, and provides new insights into the burial practices during the 26th Dynasty.

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Sources : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

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

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Archaeology

New findings at world-famous Mesolithic site of Star Carr

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A recent study by archaeologists from the University of York and the University of Newcastle has revealed new insights into the domestic activities of the Mesolithic inhabitants of Star Carr.

Star Carr is one of the most significant and informative Mesolithic sites in Europe, which during prehistoric times was situated near the outflow at the western end of a palaeolake known as Lake Flixton.

Today, Star Carr lies at the eastern end of the Vale of Pickering near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England.

Using microscopic evidence from the use of stone tools, the researchers found that a range of domestic activities took place in three previously excavated structures. This includes activities related to working with bone, antler, hide, meat, and fish.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, used a combination of spatial and microwear data to provide different scales of interpretation: from individual tool use to patterns of activity across the three structures.

Dr Jess Bates, from the University of York’s Department of Archaeology said: “We found that there were distinct areas for different types of activity, so the messy activity involving butchery, for example, was done in what appears to be a designated space, and separate to the ‘cleaner’ tasks such as crafting bone and wooden objects, tools or jewellery.

“This was surprising as hunter-gatherers are known for being very mobile, as they would have to travel out to find food, and yet they have a very organised approach to creating not just a house but a sense of home.

“This new work, on these very early forms of houses suggests, that these dwellings didn’t just serve a practical purpose in the sense of having a shelter from the elements, but that certain social norms of a home were observed that are not massively dissimilar to how we organise our homes today.”

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : Bates J, Milner N, Conneller C, Little A (2024) Spatial organisation within the earliest evidence of post-built structures in Britain. PLoS ONE 19(7): e0306908. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0306908

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

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