Monday, February 20, 2017

A Pig in a Coffin, A Pregnant Goat, and a Dog That Died in Childbirth: What Were Bizarre Animal Remains Doing in an Anglo-Saxon Church?

Ancient Origins


A group of archaeologists carrying out a routine excavation at a Greek Orthodox church in Shropshire, England, made an extraordinary discovery on the final day of their dig – bizarre animal burials, a pit of human skulls, and the remains of an Anglo-Saxon church. So why were animals ritualistically buried on consecrated ground?

Discovery Takes Place on the Final Day of the Dig
The site was being investigated after Shropshire Council gave consent for housing adjacent to the church. The archaeologists were on a mission to find the remains of a wooden beam, post or other object that would help them to accurately date the site, before it was due to be sealed to make way for a road and car park. Luckily, on the final day of part of the dig, they found the determining piece of evidence that they were looking for: a 15-inch section of an upright wooden post, thought to be a door post. Project manager Janey Green, of Baskerville Archaeological Services, told Shropshire Live, “I had a hunch there was an Anglo-Saxon church here, the site was rumored to be Anglo-Saxon and the vital piece of evidence that we need to be able to prove that it is Anglo-Saxon came at the last hour literally!”

Janey Green and her team of excavators with the wooden door post found at Sutton Farm. Credit: Baskerville Archaeological Services

Animal Burials Pre-date the Christian Period
 Archaeologists also said the finds, which include a calf, a pig and a dog that died while giving birth, were "unprecedented". In total, two dogs, a calf, some birds and a pig were discovered on the site at the Greek Orthodox Church, on Oteley Road, along with the remains of an early medieval woman and a pit full of human skulls. Miss Green speculates the animal burials pre-date the Christian period, “It was a huge surprise to find these burials in a church graveyard. To find animals buried in consecrated ground is incredibly unusual because it would have been a big no no. The bones don’t show any signs of butchery and the animals appear to have been deliberately and carefully laid in the ground. The site is a few hundred meters from known prehistoric human burial mounds so they may be connected,” she told Shropshire Live.

She also suggests that it would be impossible for the remains dating back to the Victorian period, even though she thinks that the use of technology will help them to accurately define the dates of the finds, “Initially I thought I may have come across a whimsical Victorian burial of a beloved pet. But the Victorians usually left objects in the graves such as a collar, a letter or a posie of flowers and we haven’t found a shred of evidence of anything like that here. Neither is there evidence that the animals were fallen farm stock that were disposed of in modern times. The next step is to have the bones carbon dated and we’re hoping funds would be available for that,” she told Shropshire Live.


More than Six Months of Work
For the end, Ms. Green mentioned that the company had been working on the site for more than six months even though they managed to unearth the animal burials just recently. "We didn't in our wildest dreams imagine we would find what we have," she said. The company was called in as a condition of the planning consent given by Shropshire Council for homes to be built opposite. Ms. Green also stated that she did not know why the animals were buried together and speculates a number of theories, including a possible link to a nearby Bronze Age site. The remains will now be tested to determine their age before being re-buried on the site.

Top image: Janey Green of Baskerville Archaeology Services digging up bones in Oteley Road. Credit: Baskerville Archaeological Services

 By Theodoros Karasavvas

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Who Was St Dwynwen and How is She Associated with St Valentine?

Ancient Origins


February 14 is the day marked for lovers in many countries around the world, but in Wales there is another date traditionally associated with romance: St Dwynwen’s Day, January 25.

Dwynwen – pronounced [dʊɨnwɛn] – was the daughter of an early medieval king who became the Welsh patron saint of lovers. As you might expect, she has her own love story – although it’s not quite what we today would consider a romantic one.

As the earliest version of her tale goes, Dwynwen was deeply in love with a young man called Maelon Dafodrill, but when she rebuffed his premarital sexual advances, he became enraged and left her. Saddened and fearful, Dwynwen prayed to God, and soon enough her former suitor’s ardour was decisively cooled – he was turned into a block of ice. And for rejecting Maelon’s untimely advances, God allowed Dwynwen three wishes.

St. Dwynwen meets an angel. (FREE to use Clipart)

Her first wish was that Maelon should be defrosted at once. The second was that her prayers on behalf of “all true-hearted lovers” should be heard, so that “they should either obtain the objects of their affection, or be cured of their passion”. Her final wish was that she should never have to marry; she is said to have ended her life as a nun at the isolated church named after her, Llanddwyn, on the island of Anglesey.


Crosses on Llanddwyn Island. (CC BY 2.0)

Creating a Legend
Although it echoes other medieval saints’ lives, Dwynwen’s story only appeared for the first time in the writings of the self-taught polymath Edward Williams (1747-1826), better known by his bardic name Iolo Morganwg. Now Morganwg, depending on your point of view, was either a creative literary genius or a shameless forger. Either way, it seems certain that Dwynwen’s story is not medieval at all, but rather a product of Morganwg’s vivid imagination.

However, Dwynwen may well have been a real woman: she is mentioned in early genealogies as one of the numerous saintly daughters of the semi-legendary fifth-century king, Brychan Brycheiniog. Part of a Latin mass from the early 16th century states that she walked on water from Ireland to escape the clutches of the Welsh king Maelgwn Gwynedd – although fleeing to Ireland might have been a better plan.


The church of Llanddwynwen or Llanddwyn in the 18th Century. (National Library of Wales)

Our knowledge of the cult of Dwynwen is mainly based on two Welsh-language poems. The most famous was composed by medieval Wales’s greatest poet, Dafydd ap Gwilym, around the middle of the 14th century, and was certainly known to Morganwg. In it, the amorous poet calls for Dwynwen’s assistance as a “llatai”, or love-messenger, for him and his married lover Morfudd. Aware that his actions are, to say the least, morally dubious, Dafydd promises the saint that she won’t lose her place in heaven by helping the lovers. Indeed, ensuring that his back is at least metaphorically covered, he also calls on God himself to keep Morfudd’s interfering husband from interrupting the lovers in their woodland trysts.

The other poem, by the priest-poet Dafydd Trefor, dates from around 1500 and describes the pilgrims that thronged to her church to see her image and to seek restoration from her holy wells. Their offerings ensured that the church grew wealthy although Dwynwen’s fame – inevitably – receded after the Reformation. But she never slipped into complete obscurity.


An imaginary portrait of medieval Welsh-language poet Dafydd ap Gwilym. (Public Domain)

Modern Reworkings
Dwynwen’s re-emergence began in earnest when extracts from Morganwg’s manuscripts were published with English translations in 1848. As a result, her story slowly but surely gained a foothold in the Welsh imagination. In 1886, for instance, composer Joseph Parry wrote the music for “Dwynwen”, a rousing chorus for male voice choirs. And in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Welsh newspapers in both languages would occasionally relate the story of the “Celtic Venus”.

 In the 1960s, as the commercialisation of St Valentine’s Day continued apace, the first St Dwynwen’s Day cards were produced in Wales. Yet unlike her ice-melting prototype, the modern Dwynwen proved to be a slow burner. Indeed, by 1993 a commentator stated that attempts to create a Dwynwen tradition were withering away.


St. Dwynwen Church ruins on Llanddwyn Island. It was originally built in the 16th Century. (CC BY 2.0)

But in the current century St Dwynwen’s Day is once more flourishing, bolstered by the media and the same kind of special offers that you see around St Valentine’s Day. And although St Dwynwen’s Day is more familiar to those who speak Welsh than to those who don’t, even this is slowly changing.

Does it say something about the passion of the Welsh that they have two days for lovers, Valentine – “Ffolant” as he is known in Welsh – and Dwynwen? Probably not. But the relationship between the two is revealingly ambivalent.

St Dwynwen’s day is in part a protest against the globalising commercialisation of St Valentine’s Day. But it’s also an attempt to find a place in the same marketplace for a distinctively Welsh product. It certainly shouldn’t be seen as a repackaging of St Valentine’s Day for a Welsh audience – that would be like marketing St David as the “St George of Wales”.

A colorful depiction of a modern Saint Dwynwen icon. (Everyday Nature Trails)

If you find yourself in Wales on January 25, do make the most of the opportunity to follow your heart’s desires. The only advice I’d give you is this: don’t call Dwynwen the “Welsh Valentine”.

Top Image: A representation of St. Dwynwen by Jonathan Earl Bowser. Source: Wild Eyed Southern Celt

The article, originally titled ‘How St Dwynwen wrongly became known as the Welsh Valentine’ by Dylan Foster Evans was originally published on The Conversation and has republished under a Creative Commons license.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Researchers Wonder if Rich Viking Boat Burial Found in Scotland was Made for a Warrior Woman

Ancient Origins

A team of researchers who have been examining the horde of grave goods left in an amazing Viking boat burial have decided that the deceased individual was definitely an important person in their society. While shedding light on the origins, diet, and social standing, the interesting mixture of artifacts has also raised new questions about who the person was. For example, archaeologists are uncertain if the grave held a man or woman.

Found near a Neolithic cairn in the Ardnamurchan peninsula in western Scotland in 2011, the Viking boat burial dates to the late 9th or early 10th century. Live Science reports that it was the first to be found undisturbed on the British mainland and has provided some vital information on burial practices from the time. The researchers must have been delighted to unearth such a rich grave.


Some of the finds recovered from the grave (clockwise from the top left): broad-bladed axe, shield boss, ringed pin and the hammer and tongs. (Photographs: Pieta Greaves/AOC Archaeology)

Several of the goods were objects of daily life, items for cooking, working, farming and food production were all included in the grave. It also held a shield boss (domed part of a shield protecting a warrior's hand); a whetstone from Norway, and a ringed pin used to close a burial cloak or shroud, possibly from Ireland. As the researchers wrote in their article published in the journal Antiquity:

"The burial evokes the mundane and the exotic, past and present, as well as local, national and international identities […] when considering a burial like this, it is essential to remember that each of these objects, and each of these actions, was never isolated, but rather they emerge out of, and help to form, an assemblage that knits together multiple places, people and moments in time.”


The sword (top); the sword in situ (below); the mineralized textile remains (right); detail of the decoration after conservation (left). (Lower photographs: Pieta Greaves/AOC Archaeology)

The burial also contained a sword, an axe, a drinking horn vessel, a broken spearhead (probably fragmented in a funeral ritual), a hammer, and some tongs – the researchers say that all these have suggest a warrior burial, likely male.

However, Oliver Harris, co-director of the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project (ATP) at the University of Leicester's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, told Seeker “There is nothing female per se in the grave, though of course there are lots of objects — sickle, the ladle, the knife, the ringed pin — that are not male either.”



The ladle, sickle, spearhead, and knife. (Harris et al)

And with just two teeth remaining for the person’s body, the researchers cannot confirm the individual’s sex. As Harris said “The burial is probably that of a man — but as we only have the two teeth surviving, it is impossible to be definitive. So it is possible, but not likely, that this was the burial of a woman.”

It would not be unheard of for a Viking woman to have an elaborate burial however, as Dwhty has written previously for Ancient Origins about the Oseberg Viking ship burial:

“The Oseberg ship burial contained two human skeletons, both female. One of the skeletons belonged to a woman who was about 70 or 80 years old when she died. Investigations suggest that the woman probably died of cancer. It is unclear who this woman actually was, and some have speculated that she may have been Queen Åsa, the grandmother of the first Norwegian king. The second skeleton belonged to a woman in her 50s, though it is not known how she died.




Oseberg ship, Kulturhistorisk museum (Viking Ship Museum), Oslo, Norway. (Public Domain)

It has been suggested that the middle-aged woman may have been a slave who was sacrificed to accompany the older woman. This burial also contained the remains of 13 horses, four dogs, and two oxen, probably sacrificed as well to accompany the deceased into the afterlife. Although the damp conditions within the mound allowed for the ship and its contents to be well-preserved, the mound had been broken into by robbers and any precious metal items were taken.

Returning to the present study, the researchers completed an isotopic analysis of the teeth found in the Ardnamurchan Viking boat burial and discovered that the deceased probably grew up in Scandinavia and had to change his/her diet for about a year during childhood. Harris explained, “The switch in diet probably shows there was some shortage in food for a period of time leading people to eat more fish.”


The Viking’s teeth. (Harris et al.)

As for the boat itself, well, all that remained was 213 of its metal rivets; the wood decayed, though an impression left in the soil suggests that it had measured 16 feet (4.88 meters) in length. This would be consistent with the size of a small rowing boat.

 Perhaps the most elaborate (and disturbing) example of Viking ship burial practices was the 10th century chronicle of the violent, orgiastic funeral of a Viking chieftain. Holy man and jurist Ahmad Ibn Fadlan described the death rites of mourning Vikings in Bulgaria who had lost their chieftain. As Mark Miller wrote:

“In the Viking tradition, if it was a chief who died, he was placed in the ground while his burial clothes were prepared for 10 days, during which his followers drank and had sex with doomed slave girls “purely out of love.” On the day of cremation, the Viking’s body was exhumed, then his companions burned him, along with volunteer slave girls or boys who were slain, slaughtered dogs, horses, cows and chickens, food offerings, his weapons and his ship.”



‘The Funeral of a Viking’ (1893) by Frank Dicksee. (Public Domain)

After these extreme burial practices, the Vikings built an earthen mound over the burned vessel. Miller writes that archaeologists are still searching for the location of this grave.

He also reminds us that,

“this death rite or orgy that Ibn Fadlan described was for a chief, and it happened among the warriors and leaders of the Viking society who were in the Volga viking. Presumably the farmers, hunters, bakers, craftsmen and other plain folk—the great majority of Viking society—did not practice this lurid death celebration. Also, this was one Viking group at one point in the 260-year history of the Viking raids and settlements, and we have no way of knowing how many Viking groups practiced these wild funeral celebrations over their vast territories.”

Top Image: Funeral of a Rus' nobleman’ (1883) by Henryk Siemiradzki. (Public Domain) Detail: Post-excavation photograph of the cut at the Ardnamurchan Viking boat burial. (Harris et al.)

 By Alicia McDermott

Friday, February 17, 2017

After 60 Years, Archaeologists are Thrilled to Find a Twelfth Dead Sea Scroll Cave

Ancient Origins


A team of archaeologists from the Hebrew University were exploring a cave near the Dead Sea and claim that the cave once hosted Dead Sea Scrolls from the Second Temple period. Unluckily, the ancient parchments are missing, possibly looted by Bedouins during the 20th century, but their discovery is still seen as an important find related to the famous Dead Sea Scrolls.

Cave Number 12
 Until recently it was thought that only 11 caves contained scrolls. After the discovery of this cave, however, many scholars already suggest that it should be numbered as Cave 12. As happened with Cave 8, in which scroll jars but no scrolls were found, this cave will receive the designation Q12 with the Q (Qumran) indicating that no scrolls were found inside the cave.


Fragments of shattered jars believed to have contained stolen Dead Sea scrolls, found in cave 12 near Qumran. (Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld, Hebrew University)

The fascinating discovery was made by Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Institute of Archaeology, with the contributions of Dr. Randall Price and students from Liberty University in Virginia USA. The researchers became the first in over six decades to discover a new scroll cave and to accurately excavate it.

View of the Dead Sea from a Cave at Qumran. (Public Domain)

Dr. Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation, couldn’t hide his excitement in his statements to Times of Israel,

"This exciting excavation is the closest we've come to discovering new Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave. Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we 'only' found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen.”

More than Just Storage Jars
The finds from the excavation don’t include only the storage jars which held the scrolls, but also fragments of scroll wrappings, a string that tied the scrolls, and a piece of worked leather that was a part of a scroll.

Cloth used for wrapping scrolls discovered in the cave. (Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld)

The discovery of pottery and several flint blades, arrowheads, and a decorated stamp seal made of carnelian, a semi-precious stone, also indicates that this cave was used in the Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods. Interestingly, pickaxes from the 1940s, a smoking gun from the Bedouin plunderers who dug in the cave, were also found along with the ancient remains.


A seal made of carnelian stone and arrowheads and flint blades were among the other artifacts found in the cave. (Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld)

The Archaeological Significance The first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd who unintentionally chucked a rock into a cave in the vicinity of Qumran. More texts surfaced in the years following during excavations in the Jordanian-held West Bank and were put on sale on the black market. This, however, is the first excavation to take place in the northern part of the Judean Desert as part of "Operation Scroll" - and archaeologists are optimistic to find new scroll material and evidence that will help to better understand the function of the caves.


The Damascus Document Scroll 4Q271 (4QDf). (Public Domain)

Speaking on the discovery, Israel Hasson, Director-General of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said,

"The important discovery of another scroll cave attests to the fact that a lot of work remains to be done in the Judean Desert and finds of huge importance are still waiting to be discovered. We are in a race against time as antiquities thieves steal heritage assets worldwide for financial gain. The State of Israel needs to mobilize and allocate the necessary resources in order to launch a historic operation, together with the public, to carry out a systematic excavation of all the caves of the Judean Desert."

Top Image: Remnant of scroll found in a cave near Qumran after it was removed from jar. Source: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld, Hebrew University

 By Theodoros Karasavvas

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Would You Drink a Lumpy Beer? People Living in China 5000 Years Ago Did!

Ancient Origins


Researchers have discovered a 5,000-year-old beer recipe by studying the residue on the inner walls of pottery vessels found in an excavated site in northeast China. It’s the earliest evidence of beer production in China so far.

 On a recent afternoon, a small group of students gathered around a large table in one of the rooms at the Stanford Archaeology Center.

 Li Liu, a professor in Chinese archaeology at Stanford University and coauthor of the study on the beer recipe published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, recently stood before students and a collection of plastic-covered glass beakers and water bottles filled with yellow, foamy liquid. “Archaeology is not just about reading books and analyzing artifacts,” says Liu.

“Trying to imitate ancient behavior and make things with the ancient method helps students really put themselves into the past and understand why people did what they did.”


So That’s Why Barley Went to China
The ancient Chinese made beer mainly with cereal grains, including millet and barley, as well as with Job’s tears, a type of grass from Asia, according to the research. Traces of yam and lily root parts also appeared in the concoction.

Liu says she was particularly surprised to find barley—which is used to make beer today—in the recipe because the earliest evidence to date of barley seeds in China dates to 4,000 years ago. This suggests why barley, which was first domesticated in western Asia, spread to China.

A blend of milled malted barley for beer brewing. (CC BY SA 3.0)

“Our results suggest the purpose of barley’s introduction in China could have been related to making alcohol rather than as a staple food,” Liu says.

The ancient Chinese beer looked more like porridge and likely tasted sweeter and fruitier than the clear, bitter beers of today. The ingredients used for fermentation were not filtered out, and straws were commonly used for drinking, Liu says.

Mashing or Spitting At the end of Liu’s class, each student tried to imitate the ancient Chinese beer using either wheat, millet, or barley seeds.

“People looked at me weird when they saw the ‘spit beer’ I was making for class.”


Some of the students’ creations. (Youtube Screenshot)

The students first covered their grain with water and let it sprout, in a process called malting. After the grain sprouted, the students crushed the seeds and put them in water again. The container with the mixture was then placed in the oven and heated to 65º degrees Celsius (149º F) for an hour, in a process called mashing. Afterward, the students sealed the container with plastic and let it stand at room temperature for about a week to ferment.

Alongside that experiment, the students tried to replicate making beer with a vegetable root called manioc. That type of beer-making, which is indigenous to many cultures in South America where the brew is referred to as “chicha,” involves chewing and spitting manioc, then boiling and fermenting the mixture.


Madeleine Ota, an undergraduate student in Liu’s course, says she knew nothing about the process of making beer before taking the class and was skeptical that her experiments would work. The mastication part of the experiment was especially foreign to her, she says.

“It was a strange process,” Ota says. “People looked at me weird when they saw the ‘spit beer’ I was making for class. I remember thinking, ‘How could this possibly turn into something alcoholic?’ But it was really rewarding to see that both experiments actually yielded results.”

Ota used red wheat for brewing her ancient Chinese beer. Despite the mold, the mixture had a pleasant fruity smell and a citrus taste, similar to a cider, Ota says. Her manioc beer, however, smelled like funky cheese, and Ota had no desire to check how it tasted.

 The results of the students’ experiments are going to be used in further research on ancient alcohol-making that Liu and Wang are working on.

 “The beer that students made and analyzed will be incorporated into our final research findings,” Wang says. “In that way, the class gives students an opportunity to not only experience what the daily work of some archaeologists looks like but also contribute to our ongoing research.”


The “beer-making toolkit” from the site Liu and Wang are studying: (A) Pit H82 illustration in top and cross-section views, (B) funnel 1, (C) pot 6 in reconstructed form, (D) pot 3 in reconstructed form, and (E) pottery stove. (Wang et al.)

What Caused a Revolution?
For decades, archeologists have yearned to understand the origin of agriculture and what actions may have sparked humans to transition from hunting and gathering to settling and farming, a period historians call the Neolithic Revolution.

Studying the evolution of alcohol and food production provides a window into understanding ancient human behavior, says Liu.

Late Neolithic Period (ca. 2500 - 2000 BC) large gray mug of the Henan Longshan Culture. (CC BY SA 2.5)

But it can be difficult to figure out precisely how the ancient people made alcohol and food from just examining artifacts because organic molecules easily break down with time. That’s why experiential archaeology is so important, Liu says.

“We are still trying to understand what kind of things were used back then,” Liu says.

Top Image: A more modern beer – without the lumps. Source: Public Domain

The article, originally titled ‘Ancient Chinese recipe makes lumpy, tasty beer’ by Stanford University was originally published on Futurity and has been republished under a Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Leaving an Impression: Footprints Left by Children Found in Ancient Capital of Ramesses II

Ancient Origins


A group of German archaeologists has discovered many Pharaonic features in Egypt's Nile Delta, including the remains of a building complex, a mortar pit with footprints left by children, and a painted wall, as the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry announced Tuesday.

Newly Discovered Building Complex Described as “Monumental”
The head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at Egypt’s antiquities ministry, Mahmoud Afifi, announced yesterday that at the ancient city of Pi-Ramesses an excavation team from the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim in Germany has unearthed parts of a building complex as well as a mortar pit with children’s footprints. Mahmoud Afifi, impressed with the size (covering about 200 by 160 meters) of the newly discovered structure, described it as "truly monumental" and told Ahram Online that its layout suggests the complex was likely a palace or a temple. The buildings were discovered in the village of Qantir, situated about 60 miles (96.6 km) northeast of Cairo. The modern-day village of Qantir is located on the site of Pharaoh Rameses II's capital, "House of Ramses."

An excavated section of the newly-found building complex. (Ministry of Antiquities)

The Life and Legacy of Ramesses II
Ramesses II is arguably one of the most influential and remembered pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Ramesses II, the third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, ascended the throne of Egypt during his late teens in 1279 BC following the death of his father, Seti I. He is known to have ruled ancient Egypt for a total of 66 years, outliving many of his sons in the process – although he is believed to have fathered more than 100 children. As a result of his long and prosperous reign, Ramesses II was able to undertake numerous military campaigns against neighboring regions, as well as building monuments to the gods, and of course, to himself.


A statue of Ramesses II. Source: BigStockPhoto

One of the victories of Ramesses II’s reign was the Battle of Kadesh. This was a battle fought between the Egyptians, led by Ramesses II and the Hittites under Muwatalli for the control of Syria. The battle took place in the spring of the 5th year of the reign of Ramesses II, and was caused by the defection of the Amurru from the Hittites to Egypt. This defection resulted in a Hittite attempt to bring the Amurru back into their sphere of influence. Ramesses II would have none of that and decided to protect his new vassal by marching his army north. The pharaoh’s campaign against the Hittites was also aimed at driving the Hittites, who have been causing trouble for the Egyptians since the time of Pharaoh Thutmose III, back beyond their borders. According to the Egyptian accounts, the Hittites were defeated, and Ramesses II had gained a great victory. The story of this victory is most famously monumentalized on the inside of the temple of Abu Simbel.

Abu Simbel Temple of King Ramses II, a masterpiece of pharaonic arts and buildings in Old Egypt. Source: BigStockPhoto

 Promising Finds
Henning Franzmeier, the mission director, explained that magnetic measurements were carried out in 2016 and through those measurements the building complex was located, "Based on the results of the measurements carried out by the team last year to determine the structure of the ancient city, a field was rented out, beneath which relevant structures were to be placed," he told Ahram Online. The excavation team also unearthed a small trench that was laid out in an area where they suspect the enclosure wall can be spotted. "These finds and archaeological features being uncovered are promising. They can all be dated to the pharaonic period," Franzmeier added.

Result of a magnetic survey carried out at the site. (Peramses mission)

A Mortar Pit with Impressions of Children's Feet Last but not least, Franzmeier mentioned that just a few inches beneath the surface, a large number of walls were found, but what excited him the most was a mortar pit extending at least 2.5 x 8 meters (8 x 26 ft)


Remains of a multi-colored wall painting found in the pit. (Ministry of Antiquities)

In the pit, a sheet of mortar has been preserved at the bottom which shows some children’s' footprints mixed with the components of the mortar. "What's extraordinary is the filling of the pit, as it consists of smashed pieces of painted wall plaster. No motifs are recognizable so far, but we are certainly dealing with the remains of large-scale multi-colored wall paintings “ Franzmeier said as Independent of Egypt reports. An all-inclusive excavation of all fragments followed by permanent conservation and the rebuilding of motifs will be the subject of future seasons at this intriguing site.



Children’s footprints in the mortar pit. (Qantir-Pi-Ramesse Project; photographer Robert Stetefeld)

Top Image: A digital reconstruction of the city of Pi-Ramesses. (Ramesses the second)

Insert: Children’s footprints in the mortar pit. (Qantir-Pi-Ramesse Project; photographer Robert Stetefeld)

By Theodoros Karasavvas

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How to make 17th-century chocolate for Valentine's Day

History Extra




To make Chocolate

 Take your Choco Nutts and put them over the fire either In earthern pott, or kettle or frying pan keeping them stirring with a brass spoone till they be very hott and of black browne, then take them and pull of[f] the shells with your fingers. They must look of a black colour though not to[o] much burnt.

 Then you must pound them in a great iron or brass mortar and seeth [sieve] them through a fine lawne [linen] seeth [sieve], and soe pound them againe and soe seeth it till all getts through, then take two pound of the powder and three quarters of a pound of good white sugar about 5d or 6d per pound being seethed [sieved] all one as the Choco Nutts, then put a Nuttmeg and half and ounce of Cinnamon and pound it well together and seeth it as herein before mentioned and to each pound of Choco Nutt the like quantity.

 When you have mixt it altogether, take your mortar and putt it on the fire and make it pretty hott and take the pestle also, then putt the stuff in it and beat it till it comes to a smooth past[e], then take it out and weigh it into Quarters of pounds then Roll it round in your hands and putt it on a Quarter of sheet of paper and take the paper into your two hands and chafe it up and down till it comes to a short Roll.

 English medical notebook, 1575-1663 (Wellcome Library MS.6812, p.137)