Friday, 5 February 2016

From genes to latrines: Vikings and their worms provide clues to emphysema


In a paper published today in Nature: Scientific Reports a group of researchers led by LSTM have found that the key to an inherited deficiency, predisposing people to emphysema and other lung conditions, could lie in their Viking roots.
Archaeological excavations of Viking latrine pits in Denmark have revealed that these populations suffered massive worm infestations (link is external). The way that their genes developed to protect their vital organs from disease caused by worms has become the inherited trait which can now lead to lung disease in smokers. 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema affect over 300 million people, or nearly 5% of the global population. The only inherited risk factor is alpha-1-antitrypsin (A1AT) deficiency, and this risk is compounded if individuals smoke tobacco.

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Monday, 1 February 2016

New Website for the Bayeux Tapestry


As this year is the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, Archaeology in Europe has created a new website featuring the Bayeux Tapestry.

The Website gives details of the history of the Tapestry and provides detailed images of the entire tapestry.

There is also a section on the Battle of Hastings and the recent work by Time Team to locate the battle site.


You may also be interested in the EMAS Archaeological Site Tour: “Landscape of the Bayeux Tapestry




Thursday, 28 January 2016

Medieval burial ground found under UK car park


Archaeologists have discovered a mass grave containing more than 300 skeletons - under a car park. The first discoveries were made two years ago during routine archaeological surveys as the ground was assessed for development into affordable homes - but it was initially thought there were only 20 bodies buried. 


Human skull discovered during Godalming drainage hole work  [Credit: Surrey History Centre] Work to transform the car park, in Godalming, Surrey, into 14 new-builds was put on hold and the findings were carefully excavated in June 2014. 

They were taken to Surrey History Centre to be examined - where experts discovered the remains of more than 300 individuals.

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Number of skeletons discovered in Godalming car park rises to 300


The number of skeletons excavated from a former car park has risen to 300, although experts have yet to confirm from which century they date.
Archaeologists are asking for more time to analyse the rising number of remains and 65 other findings such as animal bones, flintwork and fragments of medieval and post medieval pottery, which were previously discovered at the Station Road site in Godalmingnearly three years ago.
The discoveries were initially brought to light in March 2013 when routine archaeological surveys were carried out for the current development ground for affordable homes.
Work to create the 14 new-builds came to an abrupt halt and the findings were later removed ‘successfully’ in June 2014 before being taken to Surrey History Centre to be examined.
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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

English DNA 'one-third' Anglo-Saxon

This triple burial from Oakington, Cambridgeshire, includes metal and amber grave goods

The present-day English owe about a third of their ancestry to the Anglo-Saxons, according to a new study.

Scientists sequenced genomes from 10 skeletons unearthed in eastern England and dating from the Iron Age through to the Anglo-Saxon period.
Many of the Anglo-Saxon samples appeared closer to modern Dutch and Danish people than the Iron Age Britons did.
According to historical accounts and archaeology, the Anglo-Saxons migrated to Britain from continental Europe from the 5th Century AD. They brought with them a new culture, social structure and language.

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Monday, 18 January 2016

EMAS Archaeology Study Tour: Landscape of the Bayeux Tapestry


Landscape of the Bayeux Tapestry

21 - 28 May 2016


2016 will be the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. The famous Bayeux Tapestry that depicts this battle also presents a map of the events that led up to Hastings.

This study tour will follow the route of this map, starting at Westminster and following Harold’s progression through Normandy, and then on to the arrival of William’s forces at Pevensey and finally to Battle, where we will look at the evidence for the suggested new location for the Battle of Hastings.

Full details of this study tour can be found here...

N.B. In order to be certain of a place you need to apply by 1 February 2016  at the latest.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Lasers used to make Staffordshire Hoard replicas


Laser technology is being used to help create replicas of items from the Staffordshire Hoard.
The hoard contains 3,500 items of jewellery and weapons from Anglo Saxon times with a value of more than £3m.
The Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre in Birmingham is working with the city's Museum and Art Gallery to make pieces to go on show to the public.

Watch the video...

Friday, 18 December 2015

Rare Viking hoard found by detectorist in Oxfordshire


A rare Viking hoard of arm rings, coins and silver ingots has been unearthed in Oxfordshire. The hoard was buried near Watlington around the end of the 870s, in the time of the "Last Kingdom". 


The hoard includes rare coins, jewellery and silver ingots
[Credit: Trustees of the British Museum]

This was when the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex were fighting for their survival from the threat of the Vikings, which was to lead to the unification of England. 

Archaeologists have called the hoard a "nationally significant find". The hoard was discovered by 60-year-old metal detectorist James Mather.

He said: "I hope these amazing artefacts can be displayed by a local museum to be enjoyed by generations to come." 

The find in October was lifted in a block of soil and brought to the British Museum, where it was excavated and studied by experts from the British Museum in London and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

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Staffordshire Hoard Newsletter: Conservation Update


The conservation team have been busy with reconstruction of the fragments of silver and silver gilt objects recently. Alongside the conservation work the team have been busy presenting the hoard project at conferences, including the European Archaeological Association conference in Glasgow and Monumental Treasures conference in Helsinki. 

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Monday, 14 December 2015

Viking hoard found in field sheds light on England's origins


 A trove of Viking jewelry and Saxon coins unearthed by an amateur treasure-hunter in a farmer's field may help rescue an English king from obscurity.
The Watlington Hoard, a collection of silver bands, ingots and 186 coins unveiled at the British Museum Thursday, dates from a tumultuous period. The coins were minted during the reign of Alfred the Great, ruler of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, who battled a "great heathen army" of Viking invaders during the 9th century.
By coincidence, discovery of the hoard coincides with the broadcast of "The Last Kingdom," a big-budget BBC drama series that has boosted popular interest in the conflict between Alfred and the Vikings.
Alfred is renowned as the ruler whose victories helped create a unified England, but some of the coins in the hoard also bear the name of the far more obscure King Ceolwulf II of Mercia, a neighboring kingdom to Wessex.
"Poor Ceolwulf gets a very bad press in Anglo Saxon history," said museum coins curator Gareth Williams. What little is known of him was written at Alfred's court and paints Ceolwulf as "a puppet of the Vikings."

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Viking hoard discovery reveals little-known king 'airbrushed from history'


A hoard of Viking coins could change our understanding of English history, after showing how Alfred the Great 'airbrushed' out a rival king

A rare coin showing King Alfred ‘the Great’ of Wessex (r.871-99) and King Ceolwulf II of Mercia (874-79)

A Viking hoard discovered by an amateur metal detectorist could prompt the re-writing of English history, after experts claimed it shows how Alfred the Great “airbrushed” a rival king from history.
Ceolwulf II of Mercia is barely mentioned in contemporary records and largely forgotten by history, only briefly described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as an “unwise King’s thane”.
But as of today, his reputation might be rescued after a haul of coins dug up after more than 1,000 years suggested he in fact had a powerful alliance with Alfred, ruling their kingdoms as equals.
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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

ARCHAEOLOGISTS REVISIT ENGLAND’S LEGENDARY GLASTONBURY ABBEY


The real history of Glastonbury Abbey, renowned for its links to the legendary King Arthur, has finally been uncovered thanks to ground-breaking new research from the University of Reading.
The four-year project reassessed and reinterpreted all known archaeological records from excavations at the Abbey between 1904 and 1979, none of which have ever been published. Analysis revealed that some of the Abbey’s best known archaeological 'facts’ are themselves myths - many of these perpetuated by excavators influenced by the fabled Abbey’s legends.
Research revealed that the site was occupied 200 years earlier than previously estimated - fragments of ceramic wine jars imported from the Mediterranean evidence of a ‘Dark Age’ settlement. The analysis also showed how the medieval monks spin-doctored the Abbey’s mythical links to make Glastonbury one of the richest monasteries in the country.
Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset holds a special place in popular culture. It was renowned in the early middle ages as the reputed burial place of the legendary King Arthur and the site of the earliest Church in Britain, thought to have been founded by Joseph of Arimathea.
The project, conducted with partners Trustees of Glastonbury Abbey and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, involved a team of 31 specialists.

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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Explore 4,500 British Museum artifacts with Google's help


The British Museum in London holds an array of beautiful and historically significant artifacts including the Rosetta Stone, which helped historians to understand the ancient hieroglyphics used in Egypt. Today, the organisation is teaming up with Google to bring its various collections online as part of the Google Cultural Institute. The search giant has been developing this resource for years by continually visiting and archiving exhibits around the world. With the British Museum, an extra 4,500 objects and artworks are being added to its collection, complete with detailed photos and descriptions.
The most important addition is arguably the Admonitions Scroll, a Chinese text which dates back to the 6th-century. The piece is incredibly fragile, so it's only visible in the museum for a few months each year. Through the Cultural Institute, you can take a peek whenever you like -- and because it's been captured at "gigapixel" resolution you can zoom in to see some extraordinary details. All of the objects are searchable on Google's site, along with a couple of curated collections about ancient Egypt and Celtic life in the British Iron Age.
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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Detectorist finds hoard of 5,000 Anglo-Saxon coins


A hoard of more than Anglo Saxon 5,000 coins have been unearthed, including what may be a unique penny. The discovery, near Lenborough, Buckinghamshire is said to be the biggest hoard of coins in modern times. 



A hoard of more than Anglo Saxon 5,000 coins have been unearthed, including what  may be a unique coin. The 5,248 coins were found by Paul Coleman on  December 21 last year [Credit: Kerry Davies/INS News Agency Ltd] 


It includes a uniquely-stamped coin which may be the results of a mix-up at the mint, more than 1,000 years ago. No valuation has officially been placed on the coins, which have formerly been declared as treasure trove, but some experts believe they could be worth more than £1 million. 

The 5,248 coins were found by metal detector enthusiast Paul Coleman on December 21 last year. He almost decided not to dig the site when his metal detector beeped, believing he had come across a hidden manhole cover.

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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

UK buyer sought to keep Anglo-Saxon brooch in country


An elaborate Anglo-Saxon brooch that is more than 1,000 years old may be exported if a UK buyer is not found who will pay at least £8,000 for it.
The gilt bronze brooch, from the late 8th century, is one of just 12 such ornaments in existence, and it stands out from the rest for the skill and creativity employed in the creation of its unique complex leaf pattern, which could represent the Christian tree of life.
An illustration dating from the same period of the Virgin Mary in the Book of Kells shows her wearing a similar brooch, suggesting they were worn by high-status women.
Experts said the brooch is of outstanding significance for the study of Anglo-Saxon art and material culture, but it could be exported unless a UK buyer matches the £8,460 asking price.
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Friday, 23 October 2015

76 skeletons discovered at Saxon Woolwich


Saxon remains have been found by archaeologists excavating Berkeley Homes development site on the Royal Arsenal Riverside site. 


Saxon burial being excavated [Credit: South London Press] 

Oxford Archaeology have uncovered evidence of nearly 3000 years of human activity on the west side of the site which in ancient times would have been a gravel peninsula surrounded by marshlands. 

Surprisingly a burial site with 76 skeletons have been found which have been radio carbon dated to the late 7th or early 8th century meaning they are former inhabitants of Saxon Woolwich. 

Project manager David Score said ‘It is amazing to find such a large number of relatively well preserved skeletons, despite all the later building on the site over the years. They seem to represent a mixed population with males and females, children and adults present. Only one possible knife was recorded as a probable grave deposit so it seems that the burials do represent an early Christian tradition’.

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Monday, 12 October 2015

EMAS Field Trip: Four Anglo-Saxon Churches in Hampshire


EMAS Field Trip to Headborne Worthy; Tichborne; Corhamton

and Boarhunt Anglo-Saxon Churches

Saturday, 7 November 2015

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You can find more EMAS events here...

Archaeologists to uncover secrets of Viking fortress


When archaeologists found the first Viking Age fortress in Denmark for 60 years last September, it was hailed as a fantastic archaeological discovery.
Now the time has come for the archaeologists to unearth the hidden secrets and legacy of the fortress, located near Køge just south of Copenhagen. A 20 million kroner grant from the AP Møller Fund and 4.5 million kroner from Køge Municipality has helped make that possible.
“With the grant, the Danish Castle Centre – a division of Museum Southeast Denmark and Aarhus University – has worked out a unique research project seeking to explore the secrets Borgring is hiding beneath Danish soil,” the Danish Castle Centre said.
“With the use of modern archaeological methods the scientists and archaeologists will investigate how the fortresses were used, how they were organised, how quickly they were built, their age and what environment, landscape and geography they were a part of.”
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Monday, 14 September 2015

Hunt for Anglo-Saxon abbey wall at Peterborough Cathedral


Archaeologists surveying a cathedral's precincts are hoping to uncover the location of its walled Anglo-Saxon predecessor. 


Ground penetrating radar is being used to survey the cathedral grounds [Credit: Peterborough Cathedral] Peterborough Cathedral was built by the Normans after the 10th Century abbey burned to the ground in 1116. 

Cathedral archaeologist Jackie Hall said the aim was to learn more about the Anglo-Saxon monastery because "we don't know enough about that". 

It is more than 30 years since a dig discovered a small area of wall. 

Dr Hall said: "They found the bottom of the wall, which was built out of bright yellow mortar and stone.

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Sunday, 2 August 2015

New research on the causes of the Viking Age


The Viking hit-and-run raids on monastic communities such as Lindisfarne and Iona were the most infamous result of burgeoning Scandinavian maritime prowess in the closing years of the Eighth Century. 


The Vale of York Cup - a Christian vessel from northern mainland Europe that was  probably held by Scandinavians for some time after its capture, before finishing  its life as the receptacle for a large silver hoard buried in Yorkshire  [Credit : York Museums Trust] 

These skirmishes led to more expansive military campaigns, settlement, and ultimately conquest of large swathes of the British Isles. But Dr Steve Ashby, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, wanted to explore the social justifications for this spike in aggressive activity. 

Previous research has considered environmental, demographic, technological and political drivers, as well as the palpable lure of silver and slave and why these forms of wealth became important at this stage. 

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