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Archaeologists map the lost town of Rungholt



Rungholt was a medieval town in North Frisia, that according to local legend, was engulfed by the sea during the Saint Marcellus’s flood in 1362.

The Saint Marcellus’s flood was an extratropical cyclone event that triggered a powerful storm tide, devastating the coastal regions of the British Isles, the Netherlands, northern Germany, and Denmark.

The storm tide peaked on the 16th January, the feast day of St. Marcellus, resulting in the deaths of around 25,000 people.

In 2023, archaeologists discovered a two-kilometre-long chain of medieval terps (settlement mounds) in the North Frisian Wadden Sea, including the possible remains of a large church.

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, archaeologists have presented a detailed reconstruction of the medieval landscape of Rungholt, featuring a network of drainage ditches, a sea dike, the proposed church, and 64 newly identified dwelling mounds.

Excavations have also unearthed imported high-quality objects, including lead-glazed redware and stoneware, cast bronze cauldrons, hammered brass cauldrons, swords, and hispano-moresque faience.

According to the study authors: “The basis of our prospection work is multi-channel magnetic gradiometry, which is applied during low tide. At key locations, the magnetic map is complemented by Electromagnetic Induction (EMI) measurements or marine seismic reflection profiles.”

This enabled the researchers to interconnect isolated settlement structures and reconstruct the wider settlement area, extending over an area of at least 10km2. Four main areas have been identified that have several rectangular terps arranged in a row.

A geophysical survey of a prominent terp, believed to be the site of the town’s church, has revealed two magnetic anomalies indicating a rectangular feature and a semi-circular structure.

Image Credit : GeoBasis-DE/LVermGeo SH/CC BY 4.0

By comparing their survey data to other known medieval churches still preserved in North Frisia, the researchers suggest that the structure is a Late Romanesque church with an integrated tower.

“The building must have been among North Frisia’s main churches and is most likely the one that provided a home and place of work for the clerical collegium,” said the study authors.

The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are not publicly available due to cultural heritage reasons to protect the site.

Header Image Credit : Scientific Reports (Sci Rep)

Sources : Wilken, D., Hadler, H., Majchczack, B.S. et al. The discovery of the church of Rungholt, a landmark for the drowned medieval landscapes of the Wadden Sea World Heritage. Sci Rep 14, 15576 (2024).

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Gold foils discovered in Ancient Egyptian tombs




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 – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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New findings at world-famous Mesolithic site of Star Carr




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.

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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