21 December 2021

At https://phys.org/news/2021-12-humans-remote-north-atlantic-islands.html … lake sediments from the Faeroes have drawn some interesting information. Humans were living on the islands as early as AD500 – some 350 years prior to the arrival of Vikings. The latter have always been regarded as the original settlers. Were the original people Celts – Scots or Irish. Were they early Christian monks looking for a desolate spot to pray and found a monastery, or hermitage?

The Faeroes are situated half way between Norway and Iceland – on what became an important Viking seaway. However, they are only 200 miles NW of Scotland, and Irish monks were active along the western side of the north of Britain. Back in the 1980s, researchers discovered weeds commonly associated with disturbed soil, and pasture. They claimed, at the time, that people were living on the islands as long ago as 2200BC. As indicated by Moe Mandelkehr in his various articles in SIS journals there were a lot of folk movements around that time – even in the high Arctic. The research was boxed up as inconclusive as weed seeds can be carried on the wind.

Some early medieval texts seem to suggest Irish monks, such as St Brendan, may have arrived in the 6th century AD. However, this new research is not fully supportive as what was discovered was the presence of sheep – lots of them it would seem. That would suggest the arrival of farmers. Perhaps a genetic study of Faeroes sheep may shed some light on where they came from. Monks could of course have arrived with the farmers, or just prior to the farmers. Faeroese DNA actually does show a Celtic element as well as a Scandinavian one, much like in Iceland.

At https://phys.org/news/2021-12-sea-fall-decline-pre-columbian-societies.html …. which concerns the decline of fishing communities on the Brazilian coastline. These fisher villages go back 7000 years into the past but for some strange reason, not well understood, there was a sharp decline in the frequency of archaeological sites around 2200 years. Once again, an interesting date which pans out close to Mike Baillies low growth tree ring event at 207BC [see MGL Baillie, 'A Slice Through Time: dendrochronology and precision dating' ]. In Brazil it involved a major reorganisation of coastal environments – as a result of a dip in sea levels in the region. The shore lines of bays and lagoons changed and fishing communities had to adapt. Not only that but population numbers appear to have crashed. Instead of fishing strategies involving whole communities they were forced to collaborate just within family groups. Baillie provides some interesting parallels. There was a major erosion phase in German river valleys for example, and a Chinese famine on the other side of the world, whilst the Romans also record famine – and an epidemic. Famines are induced by cool summer weather as are the low growth tree ring events – by volcano, or whatever.

At https://phys.org/news/2021-12-sources-roman-silver-coinage-iberian.html …the article discusses the soure of the Roman silver used in their coinage. One of the reasons for continued Roman expansion was to obtain access to resources, especially metals and ores. A big factor in Roman colonisation in Britain was access to gold and copper, and lead. Lead was used in water pipes – transporting water from countryside sources to urban environments, and in sewage etc.  However, the Roman empire had an enormous appetite for coins – made primarily from gold and silver. A study published in the journal Geology pointed a finger at the Iberian peninsular – what is now Spain and Portugal. Silver was produced from galena ores and these can be found in south east Spain. Galena ores also supplied the Romans with lead. Prior to the conquest of Iberia Roman silver mainly came from Greece and Anatolia [modern Turkey]. Silver mining was taking place before the Romans sent in their armies and one may wonder if the presence of silver and other metals was all part of the reason for expanding the empire to the far west of Europe.

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