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Cache of ancient canoes found in Lake Mendota



In 2021, Tamara Thomsen, a maritime archaeologist with the Wisconsin Historical Society, discovered a partially obscured dugout canoe in the depths of Lake Mendota in Madison, United States.

Following the discovery, a second canoe was identified by archaeologists, leading to a groundbreaking recovery project in 2021 and 2022 between the Wisconsin Historical Society, in partnership with Native Nations in Wisconsin.

Both canoes were carved from a single tree, with the first canoe dating to 1,200-years-ago, and the second dating from 3,000-years ago.

Ongoing studies in the vicinity of where both canoes were recovered has revealed a cache of at least ten canoes, and possibly 11 pending further analysis of wood fragments (this grouping includes the two previous recovered canoes).

Image Credit : Tamara Thomsen

Archaeologists theorise that the canoes may have been intentionally submerged and deposited in Lake Mendota to prevent the wood warping in the freezing winter months, but were buried by lake sediment overtime.

The cache is concentrated along what was likely the lake’s ancient shoreline. However, due to environmental shifts in the region, this shoreline became submerged and is now located at a depth of 30 feet.

Dr Amy Rosebrough, State Archaeologist for the Wisconsin Historical Society, said: “What we thought was an isolated discovery in Lake Mendota has now evolved into a significant archaeological site that reveals new insights into the people who lived and thrived in this area over thousands of years.”

Samples were taken from each canoe for carbon dating and wood type analysis. The results revealed that the earliest canoe dates from 4,500-years-ago, making this the oldest example found in the Great Lakes region.

The wood type analysis, conducted by the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, has identified Elm, Ash, White Oak, Cottonwood, and Red Oak, signalling environmental shifts that impacted forest composition.

A survey using ground penetrating radar (GPR) has also discovered lakebed anomalies, suggesting the possibility of a submerged ancient village beneath Lake Mendota.

“We have a lot to learn from the Mendota canoe site, and the research happening today allows us to better understand and share the stories of the people who lived here and had a thriving culture here since time immemorial,” said Larry Plucinski, the Lake Superior Chippewa Tribal Historic Preservation Officer.

Header Image Credit : Wisconsin Historical Foundation

Sources : Wisconsin Historical Society

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Study reveals new insights into life at “German Stonehenge”




Excavations of the Ringheiligtum Pömmelte, nicknamed the “German Stonehenge”, has revealed new insights into domestic life from prehistory.

Ringheiligtum Pömmelte is a late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age henge from the late third millennium BC. The monument features seven concentric rings made of palisades, ditches, and raised banks, each containing a series of wooden posts.

The site was discovered in 1991 through aerial photography near the present-day village of Pömmelte in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.

From 2018 to 2022, archaeologists have excavated nearly 140 ancient dwellings dating from 2,800 BC to 2,200 BC. The older dwellings are linked to the Corded Ware and the Bell Beaker culture, while the more recent ones are associated with the Únětice Culture.

In a recent study conducted by the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) of Saxony-Anhalt, archaeologists are employing various scientific methods to offer new insights into the site’s ritual and settlement landscape.

The study has identified house locations of the Corded Ware culture (26th to 23rd century BC), and an associated settlement pit containing ceramic sherds, an axe head and flint blades. Until now, Corded Ware settlement could only be attributed to individual finds that had been relocated, and not to actual structures on the site.

Also associated with the Corded Ware culture is a storage area with 78 grain silo pits that held various types of gain, including wheat, barley, and spelt. Archaeologists already know that Corded Ware people lived on a balanced diet with animal products, further indicated by drinking vessels from burials at Ringheiligtum Pömmelte that contained traces of dairy products.

While the scientific analyses and the interpretation of the results with various specialists continue, excavations at Pömmelte will last until mid-July 2024.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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3,400-year-old shipwreck found with cargo mostly intact




Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit have discovered a 3,400-year-old shipwreck with the cargo mostly intact.

The site was first identified during an underwater survey by Energean, an energy company searching for natural gas deposits beneath the Mediterranean Sea Floor.

This led to the discovery of the shipwreck and its cargo at a depth of 1.8 kilometers, along with its cargo that consists of Late Bronze Age Canaanite storage vessels.

IAA archaeologists, in collaboration with Energean, have used the deep sea exploratory vessel, “Energean Star” to conduct a visual inspection of the wreck site. This has revealed hundreds of ceramic vessels on the seabed, and a muddy layer which likely conceals a second layer and the wooden beams of the ship.

Jacob Sharvit, Head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit, explains, “The ship seems to have sunk in crisis, either due to a storm or to an attempted piracy attack – a well-known occurrence in the Late Bronze Age. This is both the first and the oldest ship found in the Eastern Mediterranean deep sea, ninety kilometres from the nearest shore.”

Image Credit : IAA

Only two other ships from this period have been found – the boat from Cape Gelidonya and the Uluburun boat; both found off the Turkish coast. Both ships were found near the shore, suggesting that shipping routes followed the coastline between ports. However, this new discovery changes the understanding of ancient marine trade, demonstrating that ancient shipping also extended into deep waters.

“The ship is preserved at such a great depth that time has frozen since the moment of disaster – its body and contexts have not been disturbed by human hand (divers, fishermen, etc.); nor affected by waves and currents which do impact shipwrecks in shallower waters,” added Sharvit.

Header Image Credit : IAA

Sources : Israel Antiquities Authority

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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