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Archaeological Headlines By JESSICA E. SARACENI
Thursday, January 6

Medieval Runes Discovered in Norway

OSLO, NORWAY—Science Norway reports that a stick and a bone inscribed with runes have been unearthed in Oslo’s Medieval Park, where a carving depicting a king with a falcon on his arm was found last month. The bone, thought to be a piece of a rib from a horse or a cow, bears Norse inscriptions on both sides, according to archaeologist Solveig Thorkildsen of the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research. The inscription includes a person’s name or nickname, and runes for the word bone, referring to the object itself. Thorkildsen’s colleague, Ingeborg Hornkjøl, was working in wet soil at the site when she discovered the rune stick, which is inscribed on three sides in Latin and in Norse. Runologist Kristel Zilmer of the University of Oslo said that the Latin inscription includes the words manus, or hand, and Domine or Domini, for lord or God, in addition to Bryngjerd, a woman’s name. This inscription may record Bryngjerd’s dedication of her life to the service of God, Zilmer explained. Examination of the artifacts under a microscope should reveal more information, she added. To read about an Old Norse runestone discovered in Sweden, go to "The Emperor of Stones."

Wednesday, January 5

Terracotta Dog Unearthed in Rome

ROME, ITALY—Art News reports that three tombs, an urn, and a terracotta dog statue were discovered in Rome’s Appio Latino district during work on the city’s water system. According to Italy’s Ministry of Culture, the tombs were part of a funerary complex constructed between the first century B.C. and the first century A.D. One of the tombs may have caught fire in antiquity. The dog figure is thought to have decorated a drainage system on a sloping roof. To read about a Roman dog statue unearthed in England, go to "Artifact."

Lidar Survey at Machu Picchu Reveals Ceremonial Structures

WROCŁAW, POLAND—Science in Poland reports that a team of Polish researchers and specialists from Peru’s National Archaeological Park of Machu Picchu led by Bartłomiej Ćmielewski of Wrocław University of Science and Technology has conducted a lidar survey of the Chachabamba ceremonial complex within Machu Picchu. Several buildings set on a small square, small ritual baths, and a large stone with carved altars, stairs, and a channel for sacrificial liquids are situated in the center of the ceremonial complex. Obtained with a lidar scanning device attached to a drone, the new images of the land surface beneath the cover of tropical forest show several previously unknown structures, according to team member Dominika Sieczkowska of the University of Warsaw. These structures include channels that carried water into the complex from a nearby river and several buildings on the outskirts of the ceremonial complex. “We have a dozen or so small structures erected on the plan of a rectangle and a circle,” Sieczkowska said. “We believe that they were staff residences.” The images suggest these structures had been built with less care than the structures in the center of the complex, she added. Projected water flow through a model of the channels indicates that the supply of water was small and therefore probably for ritual use, Sieczkowska explained. To read about a feat of Inca hydraulic engineering, go to "Machu Picchu's Stairway of Fountains."    

Tuesday, January 4

Neolithic Figurine Unearthed in Central Turkey

KONYA, TURKEY—The Anadolu Agency reports that a two-inch marble statuette has been unearthed at central Turkey’s Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük by a team of researchers led by Ali Umut Türkcan of Anadolu University. As many as 8,000 people are thought to have lived at Çatalhöyük, which dates back about 9,000 years. The 8,500-year-old carving looks like a reclining human figure, and similar to artifacts uncovered in previous excavations and identified as depicting a man leaning back on the back of an animal, Türkcan explained. Most of the figurines recovered in this area of the site have depicted women, he added. To read about the figurine of a woman found at Çatalhöyük, go to "Figure of Distinction."

Hunter-Gatherer Sites in Sweden Yield Metalworking Artifacts

LULEÅ, SWEDEN—Evidence of metalworking some 2,000 years ago by hunter-gatherers has been discovered at two archaeological sites in northeastern Sweden, according to a Science News report. At Sangis, Carina Bennerhag and Kristina Söderholm of Luleå University of Technology and their colleagues uncovered a rectangular iron-smelting furnace with a frame of stone slabs and a clay shaft. Holes in the frame may have allowed air to be pumped inside with a bellows placed on flat stones. Byproducts of heating iron ore at high temperatures were found within the structure, which has been radiocarbon dated to between 200 and 50 B.C. Pottery dated from 500 B.C. to A.D. 900, fish bones, and items made of iron and steel, knives made of two or more layers, and a molded bronze buckle were also found in the area. Evidence at Vivungi, the second site, dates to around 100 B.C. and includes fire pits and the remains of two iron-smelting furnaces containing iron ore, byproducts of iron production, and pieces of ceramic wall lining. Söderholm explained that these hunter-gatherers were probably more socially organized and sedentary than had been previously thought. The groups would have settled in areas near sources of metal ores, wood to make charcoal, and clay and stone for building furnaces and fire pits, she added. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Antiquity. To read about other recent archaeological research in Sweden, go to "Around the World: Sweden."