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Study reveals West Sussex’s lost kingdom

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A new study, led by archaeologists from UCL Archaeology South-East, has revealed evidence of a lost medieval kingdom in West Sussex, England.

Following the collapse of Roman Britain, the British Isles fragmented into small warring indigenous kingdoms.

Germanic groups such as the Saxons, Angles, Jutes and Frisians, led campaigns of conquest against the indigenous people and established the kingdoms of Sussex, Kent and Essex in the South east.

In the Midlands they founded the kingdoms of Mercia and East Anglia, while further north the kingdom of Northumbria.

Eventually, the kingdoms were dominated by Northumbria and Mercia in the 7th century, by Mercia in the 8th century, and then by Wessex in the 9th century.

According to archaeologist, Dr Michael Shapland, the people of West Sussex successfully resisted Saxon rule for centuries and he questions the narrative about Sussex’s formative history.

The foundation legend of Sussex is provided by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which states that Ælle and three of his sons landed at Cymensora somewhere in Sussex and defeated a defending force of Britons. There he founded the Kingdom of the South Saxons, today referred to as the Kingdom of Sussex.

Dr Shapland argues that Sussex was not one kingdom, but at least three kingdoms with distinct origins, roughly equivalent to modern-day East Sussex, West Sussex, and Hastings. This is supported by a gap in the archaeological record for Saxon occupation in the West Sussex area, in contrast to east of the River Arun which has centuries of Saxon settlement.

“It is not just a lack of Saxon archaeology that is interesting, but also the presence of very rare and significant “British” archaeology. A 5th century AD great stone hall discovered at a Roman villa in Marden, north of Chichester, is one of a handful known anywhere in Britain,” said Dr Shapland.

Sussex is generally held to be the last of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom’s to convert to Christianity. Wilfrid, an English bishop and saint is attributed with Christianising the pagan population of Sussex in AD 681 and built a cathedral at Selsey, the site of the king’s residence.

According to Dr Shapland, there were likely several British churches in the area that predate the possibly biased historical accounts of Wilfred’s ‘successful’ Christianisation of Sussex.

Additionally, the choice of Selsey over the Roman city of Chichester seems illogical. Instead, Dr. Shapland suggests that Wilfred chose an existing church in Selsey and claimed it as his Cathedral as part of a political maneuver, using the Saxon form of Christianity to dominate rival kings.

“Wilfrid’s influence in Sussex would eventually destabilise the kingdom. Æthelwealh was killed in battle by a West Saxon prince named Cædwalla in 685 – partially upon the influence of Wilfrid,” said Dr Shapland.

It is also worth noting that Æthelwealh, whose name means “noble Briton” is a contradiction to the narrative. “Why was this supposed Saxon king using such a British name? Perhaps it is because he wasn’t a Saxon king at all.”

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Sources : UCL 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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