For years, researchers have puzzled over why Viking descendants abandoned Greenland in the late 15th century. But archaeologists now believe that economic and identity issues, rather than starvation and disease, drove them back to their ancestral homes.
On Sept. 14, 1408, Thorstein Olafsson and Sigrid Björnsdottir were married. The ceremony took place in a church on Hvalsey Fjord in Greenland that was only five meters (about 16 feet) tall.
It must have been difficult for the bride and groom to recognize each other in the dim light of the church. The milky light of late summer could only enter the turf-roofed church through an arched window on the east side and a few openings resembling arrow slits. After the ceremony, the guests fortified themselves with seal meat. Read more.
In ancient Roman times A.D., Palmyra was the most important point along the trade route linking the east and west, reaching a population of 100 000 inhabitants. But its history has always been shrouded in mystery: What was a city that size doing in the middle of the desert? How could so many people live in such an inhospitable place nearly 2 000 years ago? Where did their food come from? And why would such an important trade route pass directly through the desert?
Norwegian researchers collaborated with Syrian colleagues for four years to find answers.
“These findings provide a wealth of new insight into Palmyra’s history,” says project manager Jørgen Christian Meyer, a professor at the University of Bergen. The project has received funding of over NOK 9 million from the Research Council of Norway’s comprehensive funding scheme for independent basic research projects (FRIPRO). Read more.
A DOZEN archaeology students had no way of knowing if they had half a gallows, or three-quarters of a gallows yesterday.
The 2m wide oblong of stone-block foundation marks the place where, on January 31, 1860, John Vigors was executed for “shooting at one John Baker with intent to kill and murder him”.
But the length of the the platform, through which Vigors and four other men dropped, remains a mystery because the far end lies beneath the Oatlands swimming pool.
In the early 1850s the gallows were relocated from the front of the gaol, where 14 others had been executed, to comply with the Private Execution Act, which abolished public hangings.
Vigors was the last man executed in Oatlands.
Last week’s excavation was the first time in 75 years that Tasmania’s only gallows outside Hobart and Launceston had been sighted. Read more.
Some of the best mysteries begin as open secrets.
Seal Cove residents have long known about the skeletal remains of a wooden schooner, even if national park officials don’t disclose its location officially. The hull of the ship is like a tidal phantom, only appearing at the water’s lowest ebb for a brief time before disappearing back into the ocean. Little else has been known about the ship.
But this summer, a Florida-based archeologist, an intern and a group of volunteers have teamed up to find out more about the ship’s past. For a week in August, the team slogged through the tidal mud to measure and draw what’s left of the ship.
The effort was led by Franklin H. Price, senior archeologist for the Florida Bureau of Archeological Research. Price grew up on Mount Desert Island and spent several years as a lobsterman before going to graduate school to study archeology; he undertook the project during his summer vacation time. Read more.
Three pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard have been identified as belonging to one object, but this is where the mystery begins, as the function of this composite piece is unknown.
A few tentative suggestions have been made, ranging from a saddle fitting to the decorative terminal to a parchment scroll. So, perhaps you will be able to help the experts and give a name to this mystery object.
The millefiori mount K545 has a rectangular hole and four small round holes on the back which match the rectangular protrusion and circular holes on the top end of the cylinder K1055, so K1055 clearly slotted into the back of K545. K545 is made up of two components, a base plate with a cloisonne garnet border and the top with the mounted glass checkerboard gem. When these two components are separated, you can see that the rectangular protrusion passed through the base plate and into the back of the gem mount. The circular holes also appear in the back of the gem mount. Read more.
There are more than 700 curious tunnel networks in Bavaria, but their purpose remains a mystery. Were they built as graves for the souls of the dead, as ritual spaces or as hideaways from marauding bandits? Archeologists are now exploring the subterranean vaults to unravel their secrets.
Beate Greithanner, a dairy farmer, is barefoot as she walks up the lush meadows of the Doblberg, a mountain in Bavaria set against a backdrop of snow-capped Alpine peaks. She stops and points to a hole in the ground. “This is where the cow was grazing,” she says. “Suddenly she fell in, up to her hips.”
A crater had opened up beneath the unfortunate cow.
On the day after the bovine mishap, Greithanner’s husband Rudi examined the hole. He was curious, so he poked his head inside and craned his neck to peer into the darkness. Could it be a hiding place for some sort of treasure, he wondered? As he climbed into the hole to investigate, it turned out to be a narrow, damp tunnel that led diagonally into the earth, like the bowels of some giant dinosaur.
Suddenly the farmer could no longer hear anything from above. He panicked when he realized that it was getting difficult to breathe the stifling air — and quickly ended his brief exploration. Read more.
World’s first Wiffle Ball or ancient Roman Chia Pet — we asked you to explain what distinguished archeologists could not. What in the world is a “Roman dodecahedron?”
This mysterious object, named for its 12 sided shape, is generally made of bronze or stone and ranges in size from 4 to 11 centimeters.
Most of you believed the Romans planted these objects to later mystify future generations. Or that they were something as simple as a paper weight. What do the experts think?
I have no secret special idea that I think is exactly correct,” said Sebastian Heath, Clinical Assistant Professor at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. “It doesn’t stand as a central concern of Roman archeology, but it would be interesting to know what these could be.”
One reader suggested the dodecahedron may be the world’s first jingle bell. Read more.
Excited volunteers are gearing up for a major Roman dig at Maryport to shed more light on an age-old mystery.
Next month, 28 volunteers from all over West Cumbria will help excavate an area near to the town’s Senhouse Roman Museum, where a unique cache of 17 Roman altars was discovered in 1870.
It is thought the altars were buried in pits but no one knows when, why or by whom.
Jane Laskey, Senhouse Roman Museum curator, said: “There is this huge mystery around these altar stones. Were they buried? Was there something else going on? Why were they buried? We need to untangle all that information.” Read more.