FLORENCE - A building site near the Uffizi museum has uncovered what archeologists believe could be a mass grave dating back to the sixth or seventh century AD, possibly during a plague.
The dig found 60 bodies laid out head-to-toe in a manner that could indicate hasty burial and need to optimize space in view of many more deaths, possibly because of a fatal epidemic.
”The remains have been unearthed over five months, and bear no evidence of trauma”, said Tuscany Archeology Superintendent Andrea Pessina. ”We will conduct DNA and carbon-14 tests to determine the cause and time of death, as well as information on diet, pathologies, and work-related stresses at the time”. (source)
A few fragmentary bones thought to be the remains of Neanderthals actually belonged to medieval Italians, new research finds.
The study is a reanalysis of a tooth, which was found in in a cave in northeastern Italy along with a finger bone and another tooth. Originally, researchers identified these scraps as belonging to Neanderthals, the early cousins of humans who went extinct about 30,000 years ago. Instead, the new study reveals the bones to belong to modern Homo sapiens.
There’s no telling whom the original owner of the teeth and finger was, but the cave where they were discovered was both a hermitage, or dwelling place, and the site of a grisly medieval massacre. Read more.
Zaballa (Iruña de Oca) was a medieval settlement abandoned in the 15th century. The building of a manor monastery at the heart of it undermined the organisation of the village in the 10th century with the creation of a highly significant rent-seeking system; it was later turned into a veritable factory, a specialised estate in the hands of local lords who, under the auspices of the economic boom in towns like Vitoria-Gasteiz, tried to obtain the maximum profits possible.
In the end, the “flight” of its settlers towards the towns caused it to be abandoned. Today, it is archaeologists from the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country who are endeavouring to reconstruct and salvage our rural heritage by studying deserted settlements like Zaballa. Read more.
The bones of a young woman who died of syphilis more than 500 years ago, the reassembled jaw of a man whose corpse was sold to surgeons at the London hospital in the 19th century and the contorted bone of an 18th-century man who lived for many years after he was shot through the leg, are among the remains of hundreds of individuals which can now be studied in forensic detail on a new website.
The Digitised Diseases website, to be launched on Monday at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, brings together 1,600 specimens, many from people with excruciating conditions including leprosy and rickets, from stores scattered across various university and medical collections. The original crumbling bones of some specimens now available in 3D scans are too fragile to be handled. The database is intended for professionals, but is also available free to members of the public who may be fascinated by the macabre specimens. Read more.
Archaeologists excavating a medieval church in a dales village have found further evidence that the site was an Anglo Saxon settlement.
A carved section from an eighth century stone cross was unearthed during a dig at St Botolph’s field in Frosterley in Weardale this week.
The discovery was met with great excitement from the archaeologists and volunteers who were digging on the site as part of the Altogether Archaeology project.
Paul Frodsham, historic environment officer at the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership, which is leading the project, said: “This is not the kind of thing that happens every day. Read more.
The 13th-14th century leather harness, which went around a horse’s chest and was attached to the saddle, is covered in gilt, copper-alloy shields, and boasts heraldic symbols.
It may have belonged to a medieval knight and is the only intact example ever found in Britain or Ireland.
The treasure trove of artefacts includes scores of pieces uncovered around the castle at Caherduggan, near Doneraile, Co Cork.
The finds were made by archaeological consultants commissioned by Cork County Council. Read more.
In advance of the creation of an artisan centre in the federated districts of Bléré-Val-de-Cher, central France, archaeologists have been excavating Neolithic, Antique and Medieval remains. Among the Medieval remains, a well preserved underground refuge chamber was discovered, representing a rare archaeological find.
The entrance to the underground refuge was hidden under the floor of a small building on stilts.
The discovery of a ceramic cooking pot in the infill of the underground chamber allows it to be dated to the end of the 11th century. At this time, the Counts of Anjou and Blois were quarrelling over the possession of the Touraine region, where there was a large network of military installations. Read more.
Archeologists investigating the site of a former Dominican monastery in Cluj have uncovered a remarkable tale of love, preserved in the bones of a medieval grave. Two skeletons, of a young man and a woman, were found clearly buried together with their hands clasped for eternity.
Dubbed Romeo and Juliet by the archeological team, the couple are thought to have lived between 1450 and 1550, as the grave’s position and proximity to the monastery are typical of this period.
Lead archeologist Adrian Rusu said that several graves from the period had been found in what was the courtyard of the monastery, including the couple buried together. Read more.