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Archaeological Headlines By JESSICA E. SARACENI
Thursday, April 10

English Coin May Have Been Lost After Battle of Bannockburn

STIRLING, SCOTLAND—A 700-year-old English coin was found at Cambuskenneth Abbey during a metal detector survey of the area by investigators from GUARD Archaeology, the Center for Battlefield Archaeology Glasgow University, and local volunteers. The silver coin, which would have been in circulation at the time of the Battle of Bannockburn, may have been a month’s wages for a defeated English soldier. “Cambuskenneth Abbey was where the Scots’ baggage train was held before the battle and where they returned to immediately afterwards. It was where the booty was taken from the battlefield, so it could potentially have been dropped booty,” battlefield archaeologist Warren Bailie of GUARD Archaeology told The Scotsman. The coin was one of 36 discovered during the survey. 

Durham Cathedral’s Great Kitchen Excavated

DURHAM, ENGLAND—Excavation of the Great Kitchen at Durham Cathedral has uncovered “a vast amount of food waste,” according to Norman Emery, the cathedral archaeologist. The kitchen was used from the fourteenth century until World War II in the twentieth century. Food was prepared for the monks, pilgrims, and patients in the cathedral infirmary. North Sea cod, herring, sole, turbot, and salmon and trout from the River Wear, calves, and domestic and wild birds were served. “The kitchen would have been a very busy place, with people milling about,” Emery told The Journal.  

Iron Age Mint Discovered in England

LEICESTER, ENGLAND—An Iron Age mint where some of the 5,000 silver and gold coins of the Hallaton Treasure may have been produced by the Corieltauvi tribe has been unearthed. “We’ve got over 20 coin molds, which at an urban site like this is quite significant—a lot of them would have been damaged over time,” project manager Nick Daffern told The Leicester Mercury. The outer walls, floors, and a line of columns that enclosed a courtyard or garden of a Roman townhouse were also uncovered, along with roof or floor tiles bearing dog paw prints and sheep or goat prints. “It looks as if the function of it changed over time, from residential to industrial, before the masonry was taken during medieval times to construct new buildings,” Daffern explained.  

New Thoughts on Neanderthal Childhood

YORK, ENGLAND—It had been assumed that Neanderthals experienced harsh and dangerous childhoods, but a new study of the elaborate burials of Neanderthal children by researchers from the University of York and the Center for Human Palaeoecology and Evolutionary Origins indicates that they had strong emotional attachments within their social groups and played significant roles in society. Sick and injured children may have been cared for over long periods of time. “Interpretations of high activity levels and frequent periods of scarcity form part of the basis for this perceived harsh upbringing. However, such challenges in childhood may not be distinctive from the normal experience of early Palaeolithic human children, or contemporary hunter-gatherers in particularly cold environments. There is a critical distinction to be made between a harsh childhood and a childhood lived in a harsh environment,” team leader Penny Spikins told Red Orbit

Historic Boats Discovered in Irish Lake

CONNACHT, IRELAND—A survey of Lough Corrib in the west of Ireland has found 12 boats from the early Bronze Age, Iron Age, and medieval period, including the Annaghkeen boat, which was carved from a large log 4,500 years ago. It resembles the Lurgan log boat discovered nearby in 1902, and the Carrowneden boat found in County Mayo in 1996. “The fact that all three boats were located within 30 miles of each other would suggest that they were made by one builder, or that there was a vogue for early Bronze Age boats of this type,” archaeologist Karl Brady of Ireland’s underwater archaeology unit told The Irish Times. Three Viking-style battle axes, bronze spearheads, and a wooden spear were also recovered. The boats are protected by law and will remain in the lake due to the high cost of raising and preserving them.

Wednesday, April 09

Egyptian Burial Unearthed in Northern Israel

TEL SHADUD, ISRAEL—An Egyptian-style burial has been discovered in Israel’s Jezreel Valley, which was under Egyptian control during the Late Bronze Age. The 3,300-year-old cylindrical clay coffin contains the remains of an adult who may have been a Canaanite employed by the Egyptian government, a wealthy person who imitated Egyptian customs, or an Egyptian who had been buried in Canaan. “An ordinary person could not afford the purchase of such a coffin. It is obvious the deceased was a member of the local elite,” excavation directors Edwin van den Brink, Dan Kirzner, and Ron Be’eri of the Israel Antiquities Authority told Haaretz. A gold signet ring with a gold-encased scarab seal bearing the name of Seti I was found near the coffin, along with food storage vessels, tableware, cultic vessels, animal bones, a bronze dagger, a bronze bowl, and the burials of two men and two women.

Peering Inside an Ancient Mummy

LONDON, ENGLAND—CT scans of the well-preserved mummy of Tamut, a woman who sang in a temple in Luxor in 900 B.C., reveal that she had short hair and clogged arteries. “There are a number of amulets lying on the front of the body. We knew that there were objects but we couldn’t see them with any clarity. Now we can see them and even work out what they are made from,” John Taylor, curator of Egyptian archaeology at the British Museum, told The Telegraph. Tamut was at least 30 years old when she died, and her organs had been removed, preserved, and placed back in her body cavity, along with beeswax figurines. “The way we investigate mummies is not by unwrapping but by looking underneath the bandages in a non-disruptive way,” added museum director Neil MacGregor. 

Tools Are Earliest Evidence of Humans in Scotland

SOUTH LANARKSHIRE, SCOTLAND—Flint tools discovered at Howburn, Scotland, have been dated to 14,000 years ago, making them the earliest evidence of humans in Scotland. The tools resemble artifacts from northern Germany and southern Denmark. The first settlers are thought to have followed wild game at the earliest part of the late-glacial period, when Scotland was accessible. “These tools represent a real connection with archaeological finds in north-west Germany, southern Denmark and north-west Holland, a connection not seen elsewhere in Britain at this time,” Alan Saville, senior curator at the National Museums of Scotland, told The Courier

Trade Network Supplied Chaco Canyon With Turquoise

WINNIPEG, CANADA—A new database of copper-to-hydrogen isotope ratios for turquoise resource areas in the western United States has shown that the more than 200,000 turquoise artifacts from Chaco Canyon originated in Colorado, Nevada, and southeastern California. It had been thought that the communities of ancestral Puebloans living in Chaco Canyon obtained all of their turquoise from a mining site in New Mexico. “People usually think of the Chaco Canyon as this big center [for turquoise]. But we show that people were bringing the turquoise back and forth between the western and eastern sites,” Sharon Hull of the University of Manitoba told Live Science

Tuesday, April 08

World War I Training Trenches Uncovered in England

NORFOLK, ENGLAND—Aerial photographs taken of Bircham Newton in 1946 show that what looked like drainage ditches from the ground were actually trenches dug by soldiers training for World War I battlefields. The complex system includes supply lines, small trenches for fighting, and a circular feature with two entrances that may have been a command center. Landowner Nigel Day, who runs a camp site, found the trenches and contacted Norfolk County Council’s archaeology department. “I want to have them dug out by professional archaeologists and then restore them to their original World War I condition,” he told BBC News.

Teeth Reflect Changes in the Late Woodland Period

TORONTO, ONTARIO—Archaeologist Bradly T. Lepper has written about the research of Susan Pfeiffer of the University of Toronto in his column for the Columbus Dispatch. Pfeiffer and her team worked with First Nations descendant communities to study DNA and isotopes from the teeth of 53 “archaeologically discovered ancestors,” who lived between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. The results indicate that the people ate mostly maize and fish, but the consumption of fish declined as their villages grew larger. The researchers also found genetic mutations that may connect some of the ancient villagers to modern tribes. “The Middle and Late Woodland periods were times of population movement, mixing, and diversification in the lower Great Lakes,” Pfeiffers’ team concluded. 

Farming and Technology Eased Stress on Human Bones

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—An analysis of the lower leg bones of Central European farmers who lived between 7,300 and 1,150 years ago by Alison Macintosh of Cambridge University suggests that men carried out less physically demanding tasks over time. Their work load was probably lightened by the specialization of labor, the production of metal goods, and the development of trade networks. Macintosh found that the changes in women’s bones were not as consistent, however, indicating that they may have been performing a wide variety of tasks that did not require traveling long distances or carrying heavy loads. In fact, women’s skeletons from two of the earliest cemeteries in the study showed signs of tooth wear from processing activities. “As more and more people began doing a wider variety of crafts and behaviors, fewer people needed to be highly mobile, and with technological innovation, physically strenuous tasks were likely made easier. The overall result is a reduction in mobility of the population as a whole, accompanied by a reduction in the strength of the lower limb bones,” Macintosh told the University of Cambridge news service.