Researchers have solved the riddle of how one of Africa’s greatest civilisations survived a catastrophic drought which wiped out other famous dynasties. Geomorphologists and dating specialists from The Universities of Aberystwyth, Manchester, and Adelaide say that it was the River Nile which made life viable for the renowned Kerma kingdom, in what is now northern Sudan.
Kerma was the first Bronze Age kingdom in Africa outside Egypt.
Their analysis of three ancient river channels where the Nile once flowed shows, for the first time, that its floods weren’t too low or too high to sustain life between 2,500 BC and 1,500 BC, when Kerma flourished and was a major rival to its more famous neighbour downstream. Read more.
Snowy conditions have revealed ancient Welsh settlements
Archaeologists have discovered ancient remains after they were “brought back to life” by the snow covering the landscape.
Settlements dating back 4,000 years were only found because just the right amount of snow fell on the countryside.
Experts were flying over the landscape in a light aircraft when they spotted the Bronze Age remains below.
A combination of the snow and the low sun in the sky at this time of year provided ideal conditions to plot the sites for the first time.
“Snow evens out the colours of the landscape allowing complex earthwork monuments to be seen more clearly and precisely.” Read more.
In the middle of the Bronze Age, around 1000 BC, the amount of metal objects increased dramatically in the Baltic Sea region. Around the same time, a new type of stone monument, arranged in the form of ships, started to appear along the coasts. New research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden shows that the stone ships were built by maritime groups.
The maritime groups were part of a network that extended across large parts of northern Europe. The network was maintained largely because of the strong dependence on bronze.
Archaeologists have long assumed that bronze was imported to Scandinavia from the south, and recent analyses have been able to confirm this notion. Read more.
An archaeological dig in Cambridge has revealed the site’s history from the Bronze Age to its role in World War II.
Excavation of the site in the north-west of the city began in October, ahead of a large-scale University of Cambridge development.
Roman roads and World War II practice trenches were amongst the discoveries.
Christopher Evans of Cambridge Archaeological Unit said: “Something that is going to be vibrant in the future was also vibrant in the past.”
Archaeologists believe the site was first colonised for settlement in the Bronze Age and subsequently saw an Iron Age settlement.
Mr Evans said the dig was the one of the largest excavations to have taken place in Cambridgeshire and had unearthed a “thriving” Roman settlement, from around 60-350AD. Read more.
Chemical investigations suggest that raw material for Ireland’s prehistoric gold hoard may have been sourced from near neighbours. An alternative explanation is that there are forgotten Irish deposits rich in gold. Visit the National Museum on Kildare Street, Dublin, and you will be struck by the sheer number of gold objects. The desire for this precious metal was strong in prehistoric, pagan Ireland. The array of gold ornaments includes collars, torcs and bracelets, mostly from the Bronze Age, 2,200 to 800 BC.
“It is highly significant in European terms and disproportionately large given the size of the country,” says Mary Cahill, curator of the museum’s Bronze Age collection. Yet Ireland is not renowned for its gold deposits, so where this gold came from has puzzled archaeologists. Read more.
Archaeologists in southern Israel say they’ve uncovered a young donkey that was carefully laid to rest on its side more than 3,500 years ago, complete with a copper bridle bit in its mouth and saddle bags on its back.
Its accessories — and the lack of butchery marks on its bones — lead researchers to believe the venerated pack animal was sacrificed and buried as part of a Bronze Age ritual.
Donkeys were valuable beasts of burden in the ancient Near East. Donkey caravans helped open up vast trade networks across the Levant and Anatolia in the 18th and 17th centuries B.C., according to archives from Amorite settlements like Mari in modern-day Syria. Read more.
For the first time in almost 3000 years – a full size Bronze Age style sea-going boat has been launched in Britain. Slipping gracefully down a slipway today into Falmouth Harbour, Cornwall, the 15m-long vessel was then paddled by its 18 person crew for two 500m trial trips.
The launch – part of a long-term experimental archaeology investigation into Bronze Age marine technology – is already providing valuable new insights into prehistoric seafaring.
“I’m so happy with the responsiveness of the boat. We always said you had to build the whole boat to understand what Bronze Age people experienced,” said the project’s leader, University of Exeter archaeologist, Professor Robert Van de Noort, who is working together with the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. Read more.
The Mold Gold Cape will go on loan from the British Museum for public display in Wales this summer. In partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives, this will be the third time the cape will have been displayed in Cardiff and will go on to be shown in Wrexham, not far from where it was found. The Cape will be on display for free at both venues as part of the Spotlight Tours organised through the British Museum’s Partnership UK Scheme.
The Mold Cape is a unique ceremonial gold cape and made around 3,700 years ago, during the Early Bronze Age. A highlight exhibit at the British Museum, the cape will be shown at National Museum Cardiff 2 July to 4 August and then Wrexham County Borough Museum, 7 August to 14 September 2013.
The cape is one of the finest examples of prehistoric sheet and embossed-gold working in Europe. Skillfully and carefully fashioned from a single sheet of thin gold, it is unique in design. Read more.