Archaeology news

Challenging GIS

This is an interesting article - go to ... Canadian archaeologists challenge the credibility of GIS methods to accurately predict weather on shoreline erosion. Computer models of archaeological sites are ideal software tools for managing referenced data and are commonly used to yield information used for protecting heritage - but some scientists are questioning the credibility of the models. They want long term trends to be 'ground truthed' in order to substantiate rates of change that 'reflect' observed phenomena 'in the field'.

Viking War Camp

William sent in this link at ... a large war camp of a Viking army has been uncovered at Torksey, on the banks of the Trent in Lincolnshire. It included boat repair facilities and a smelter to melt looted gold and silver and convert it into ingots. It was a base for operations - defended during the winter months (laying up in wait of spring and a new campaign season). Thousands of men, women, and children, lived there, and the site was bigger than any nearby town in the region.

Verulamium discovery

Excavations to renew and re-lay a gas pipe across the southern portion of Verulamium, Roman St Albans, has unearthed another pottery kiln - see ... four pottery kilns were unearthed in the 1980s and it seems the pipeline excavation has unearthed a fifth kiln. This makes sense as there is a Roman period clay pit on the other side of the river Ver, within reach of the southern side of the Roman town. You would not want to transport clay by wagon too far - and the route is downhill all the way.

Burning Houses

At ... From the Bronze Age to the Viking Age, roughly a period of almost 3000 years, burial mounds were sometimes placed on top of the remains of burnt long houses. It was a way of getting rid of a house that had grown old and weary, and sometimes internal posts that supported the roof were removed for re-use elsewhere, but generally, it was an act of closure. Why was fire involved - and why was the same period associated with a rise in cremation as a means of disposing of bodies?


At ... we learn that humans were in the Americas 115,000 years earlier than thought. This is roughly during the last interglacial episode. Where was the equator? Mastodon bones found in southern California are the key. Teeth and bones of mastodon appear to have been modified by human hands - code for being whacked with a big stone (known as a hammer stone). Hammer stones were found at the site, it is alleged, and an anvil (code for a much bigger stone on which the bones were propped before giving a good bashing).

Otzi Froze

We already know that Otzi the iceman froze as he was engulfed in an Alpine mountain glacier - but at ... tells us that this was the main reason why he died, rather than from an arrow wound in his shoulder. It seemed he probably suffered just minor blood loss from the wound and succumbed to exposure. Freezing was the main cause of death.

Hillforts in Perthshire

William sent in the link to ... a digital online source enables interested parties to look at ten hillforts, and archaeological exploration and finds within them, situated in eastern Strathearn in Scotland. The project is the Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot (SERF) Project, and has been set up by Glasgow University. The research began as long ago as 2007 - so expect a bit of information. The excavation report has not been published as yet but the app can be downloaded to keep you abreast of what is going on now.

Cornish Caymans

Another piece from The Times (full of almost useless bits of information) in April and concerns the inhabitants of the Cayman Islands. They were devoid of humans until a 17th century Cornishman decided to set up his stall on what is now a haven for the mega rich, bods with gold plated pensions, and tax evaders of all kinds from the wider western world. His surname was Bodden (or Bawden) and he participated in the Anglo Spanish war of the 17th century. He was one of Cromwell's marines, we are told.

Swiss Shepherds

Shepherds, or goatherds come to that, go back a very long way, even in the heart of Europe. At ... we learn that Swiss shepherds, around 5000BC, shifted their animals to high pastures, into mountain valleys (some of which have been covered by glaciers until recently). Pasture was sought out at 2750m above sea level in the SW region of the Alps. Glaciers have come and gone on a number of occasions. For instance, during the Roman period glaciers had retreated much further than today.

Corded Ware Culture

At ... the period, 2300-2000BC was not just one of turmoil and upheaval, with evidence of site destruction far and wide, including earthquakes and perhaps atmospheric explosions of meteors, it was also one of migration and plague. This is too early for most books on historical epidemics to mention (they usually begin with the Bible or Roman records) but we have seen previously that plague or epidemics were a feature of the period around 3000BC also.