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Archaeological Headlines By JESSICA E. SARACENI
Wednesday, June 15

Medieval Coin Minted in Norway Found in Hungary

VÁRDOMB, HUNGARY—Live Science reports that a metal detectorist found a small silver coin in southern Hungary, near the site of the medieval trading town of Kesztölc. Identified as a penning, the coin was minted in Norway between 1046 and 1066 for King Harald Sigurdsson III, who was also known as Harald Hardrada or “hard ruler.” A penning was worth about enough to feed a family for a day, according to archaeologist Máté Varga of the Rippl-Rónai Museum and the University of Szeged. He said that this is the first medieval Scandinavian coin to be found in Hungary, although medieval Scandinavian artifacts have been found in Hungary and medieval Hungarian artifacts have been found in Scandinavia. Varga and his colleagues think the coin could have been lost by a trader or by a member of the court of Solomon, a Hungarian king who ruled from 1063 to 1087. According to an illuminated manuscript known as the Chronicon Pictum, Solomon and his courtiers camped near Kesztölc in 1074. To read about a rare Roman gold coin found in southwestern Hungary, go to "Around the World: Hungary."   

Additional Artifacts Recovered from Sanxingdui’s Sacrificial Pits

CHENGDU, CHINA—CNN reports that more than 3,000 additional artifacts estimated to be more than 3,000 years old have been recovered from six sacrificial pits at southwest China’s Sanxingdui archaeological site, which was discovered in the 1920s. The objects include a turtle-shaped box made of bronze and jade, according to Li Haichao of Sichuan University, whose team also recovered a bronze altar that stands about three feet tall. Traces of bamboo, reeds, soybeans, cattle, and boar in the pits may have been left behind by sacrifices, he added. Ran Honglin of the Sanxingdui Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute said that a sculpture with the head of a human and the body of a snake reflects the style of the local Shu civilization, while ceremonial vessels found in the pits are thought to have come from the Zhongyuan culture of China’s central plains. “More cultural relics unearthed at Sanxingdui have also been seen in other locales in China, giving evidence of the early exchange and integration of Chinese civilization,” Ran explained. For more on Sanxingdui, go to "Seismic Shift."

Tuesday, June 14

Remains Unearthed in Cork May Reflect 16th-Century Rebellions

CORK, IRELAND—The reports that an examination of skeletal remains discovered in a mass grave during the demolition of a pub in Cork City has revealed that the bones belonged to four men, who were between the ages of 18 and 25 when they met a violent end with their hands tied behind their backs. Osteoarchaeologist Niamh Daly said that their feet may have also been bound together. Radiocarbon dating indicates the deaths occurred between A.D. 1447 and 1636. The remains of another two young men who had also been buried in shallow graves were recovered nearby. All of the men are thought to have been soldiers who may have been involved in one of several rebellions against English rule that occurred in the late sixteenth century and early seventeenth century. The continuing investigation is expected to provide greater clarity and accuracy of this burial date. To read about Ireland's most notorious prison in Cork Harbor, go to "Letter from Ireland: The Sorrows of Spike Island."

Bronze Age Bohemian Woman's Face Reconstructed

MIKULOVICE, CZECH REPUBLIC—Live Science reports that researchers led by archaeologist Michal Ernée of the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic have reconstructed the torso of a woman of the Únětice culture whose remains were unearthed in a Bronze Age cemetery in eastern Bohemia. She had been buried sometime between 1880 and 1750 B.C. with five bronze bracelets, two gold earrings, a three-strand necklace made of beads of amber imported from the Baltic, and three bronze sewing needles. “It’s maybe the richest female grave from the whole Únětice region,” Ernée said. Analysis of her well-preserved skull and fragments of surviving DNA indicates she was petite, had brown hair and eyes, and fair skin. Team members Ludmila Barčáková, Radek Lukůvka, and Kristýna Urbanová also recreated her clothing and jewelry. Analysis of DNA from the other 26 burials in the cemetery will attempt to find out if the individuals buried there were related. To read about the discovery of a Neolithic well in East Bohemia, go to "Around the World: Czech Republic."

Monday, June 13

Remains of Thousands of Iron Age Frogs Uncovered in England

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—The Guardian reports that more than 8,000 frog bones were found in a ditch near a roundhouse at Bar Hill, an Iron Age settlement site in the East of England, by researchers from the Museum of London Archaeology Headland Infrastructure who were investigating the area ahead of a highway construction project. “In my experience, mainly working on sites from London, we don’t get that many frogs,” commented zooarchaeologist Vicki Ewens. “To have so many bones coming from one ditch is extraordinary.” The bones belonged to common frogs, common toads, and possible bones of the pool frog, she explained. The bones do not bear cut or burn marks, but if they had been boiled for consumption, the bones may not have been marked, she continued. Otherwise, the frogs may have been drawn to the site by insects feeding on the crops that were processed there, they may have been looking for a body of water during the breeding season and been trapped in the ditch, or they may have succumbed to a severe winter or disease, Ewens concluded. For more on the history of frog consumption in England, go to "World Roundup: England."

17th-Century British Shipwreck Found in International Waters

NORWICH, ENGLAND—According to a BBC News report, researchers from the University of East Anglia announced the discovery of the wreckage of The Gloucester some 15 years ago by recreational divers who had been searching for it about 28 miles off the coast of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. Launched in 1654, the ship was equipped with 54 guns and a crew of 280. In 1682, the vessel was transporting the Duke of York from Portsmouth to Edinburgh, where he was to conduct business with the Scottish Parliament as the heir to his older brother, King Charles II, when it ran aground while trying to navigate treacherous sandbanks in a gale. The duke escaped, but an estimated 130 to 250 crew members and passengers are thought to have died when the ship sank. The Duke of York, a Catholic, became King James II of England and King James VII of Scotland on his brother’s death in 1685, but he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and replaced by his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband, William III of Orange. The shipwreck site included remains of the hull submerged in sand, a cannon, the ship’s bell, a pair of eyeglasses in a case, clothing, shoes, navigational equipment, unopened wine bottles, and animal bones. To read about a new study of the remains of some of the crew of the wreck of the Mary Rose, go to "Tudor Travelers."