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Medieval French Coins, Ancient Mummy Wrappings and More Unearthed Secrets for July


A roundup of Secrets in the News for July 2021.

Medieval French Coins Unearthed in Poland? A Mystery Begins

New York Times: BISKUPIEC, Poland — During more than 10 years of tramping through fields and forests with a metal detector, a Polish treasure hunter has found the wreckage of an American-made Sherman tank, the scabbard of a French sword used by a soldier in Napoleon’s army, a Prussian helmet and many other relics of Europe’s bloody past.

In November, however, he made a discovery that has startled even scholars steeped in the ebb and flow of European warfare and left them wrestling with a tantalizing question: How did a cornfield in northeastern Poland come to hold silver coins minted more than 1,100 years ago and nearly 1,000 miles away by the medieval rulers of what is now France? [read more]


Two Segments of an Ancient Mummy Wrapping Have Been Digitally Reunited to Reveal a Heiroglyphic Guide to the Afterlife

Artnet: Two pieces of a mummy wrapping, once contiguous and later dispersed to opposite sides of the world, have been reconnected digitally. Together, they reveal scenes and spells from an ancient Egyptian text meant to guide the dead.

After the University of Canterbury in New Zealand catalogued a newly digitized image of one of the fragments, which has been in the collection of the school’s Teece Museum of Antiquities for nearly five decades, researchers at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles pieced it next to a shroud from their own holdings. The fragments, it turns out, fit together like a long-lost puzzle…[read more]

Ancient mummy wrapping fragments courtesy of the University of Canterbury.


How a 17th-century illustration is helping archaeologists find Viking ships

Arstechnica: In 1650, a Danish physician and antiquarian named Ole Worm conducted the first survey of a Viking cremation burial site known as the Kalvestene. Worm created a map of the locations of all the “ship settings”—stones arranged in the shape of vessels—marking the graves. Now, a team of archaeologists has compared its own detailed surveys with Worm’s original illustrations and may have discovered two new ship settings that are consistent with that centuries-old survey, according to a recent paper published in the Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology.

Vikings typically buried their dead, along with the deceased’s material possessions, within a wooden ship. They then covered the grave with dirt to create a raised earthen mound. The Kalvestene, on a small island called Hjarnø, is one of about 25 such sites in Denmark…[read more]


Underwater Archaeology Team Finds 9,000-Year-Old Stone Tool Artifacts

SciTech Daily: An underwater archaeologist from The University of Texas at Arlington is part of a research team studying 9,000-year-old stone tool artifacts discovered in Lake Huron that originated from an obsidian quarry more than 2,000 miles away in central Oregon.

The obsidian flakes from the underwater archaeological site represent the oldest and farthest east confirmed specimens of western obsidian ever found in the continental United States. “In this case, these tiny obsidian artifacts reveal social connections across North America 9,000 years ago,” said Ashley Lemke, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at UT Arlington. “The artifacts found below the Great Lakes come from a geological source in Oregon, 4,000 kilometers away–—making it one of the longest distances recorded for obsidian artifacts anywhere in the world.” [read more]

Photographs showing the front and back of the two obsidian flakes found site beneath Lake Huron courtesy of University of Texas at Arlington.

New type of ancient human discovered in Israel

BBC News: They believe the remains uncovered near the city of Ramla represent one of the “last survivors” of a very ancient human group. The finds consist of a partial skull and jaw from an individual who lived between 140,000 and 120,000 years ago. The team members think the individual descended from an earlier species that may have spread out of the region hundreds of thousands of years ago and given rise to Neanderthals in Europe and their equivalents in Asia.

The scientists have named the newly discovered lineage the “Nesher Ramla Homo type”.Dr. Hila May of Tel Aviv University said the discovery reshaped the story of human evolution, particularly our picture of how the Neanderthals emerged. The general picture of Neanderthal evolution had in the past been linked closely with Europe…[read more]



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