Prehistoric burial with 6 ankle bracelets found in France

The excavation of a prehistoric necropolis in Aubagne, southeastern France, has unearthed an individual from the 1st millennium B.C. bedecked in copper jewelry.

The necropolis, in use from around 900 – 600 B.C., bookending the late Bronze and early Iron ages, was first excavated in 2021. At that time, archaeologists unearthed 10 burials, eight of them under a tumulus, and three cremation deposits. This years’ dig encountered three more burials, one under a large tumulus 33 feet in diameter. While the tumulus is notable — it was surrounded by a deep ditch and likely originally marked by a ring of stones — the burial within it was not furnished. The two other burials excavated this season were.

The first of the two contained the skeletal remains of an individual wearing a twisted copper alloy bracelet and a pearl and stone jewel on the left shoulder. Two ceramic pots were buried near the deceased’s head.

The second non-tumulus burial is the richest that has been found so far in this necropolis. The person was buried with a tubular torc with rolled terminals around their neck, three bangles on each ankle and three toe rings. Next to the deceased was a brooch and a large ceramic urn.

The tumulus and first burial are in close proximity. The third was distant from the other two. Each space was clearly and intentionally delimited with structures, now long-gone. The tumulus and first inhumation are bound by a line of postholes, indicating a linear structure once formed the boundary line of space reserved for the dead. The second burial was delimited by an alignment of stone blocks more than six feet long.

The discovery of these three burials adds significantly to our understanding of the funerary practices of protohistoric southern France. They also reveal that the necropolis extended far beyond archaeologists’ early estimates for the size of the burial ground. The new data indicates the necropolis covered at least 1.3 hectares, and probably extends even further than that.

Circus Maximus flyover and Rome post-sack

The Rome in 3D project, a virtual reconstruction of ancient Rome at its architectural maximum in the 4th century, has released two new engrossing videos: a flythrough of the Circus Maximus and of the center of the Eternal City after it was sacked by the Visigoths under Alaric in 410 A.D. Both of these videos are unusual among the Rome in 3D oeuvre.

The Circus Maximus has a voiceover narration (a transcript accompanies it in the YouTube description) describing what we know about the great arena and its use. It’s still a work in progress, so there are some areas and textures that aren’t quite finished. Even so, it’s a magnificent Ben-Hur-from-the-sky turn around the top sports arena in the ancient world. The main features — like the obelisks on the spina — are beautifully detailed.

The Rome in 410 video is the first Rome in 3D video to shows the enormous damage Rome suffered when things went wrong instead of showing the city at its brightest and shiniest. It is a slower walk through the Roman Forum that shows how selected sites looked before and after the Visigoths tore through them.

This video is the premiere episode of a larger planned series dedicated to the destruction of Rome in the end times of the Western Roman Empire. It will illustrate how the city’s public buildings crumbled and were rebuilt in new form, transitioning into the medieval city.

Rome in 3D is part of a wider History in 3D project that has been many years in the making. It is continually expanded and revised as the creative team keeps pace with technology. Their ultimate goal is to create the most detailed and accurate 3D reconstruction of Ancient Rome that can be used as an interactive application on your phone as you walk the streets of Rome today. An animated version will be transformed into a game engine.

Tower of Pisa leaning even less

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, whose shoddy foundations have granted it immortal fame, has not only stopped tilting further; it is gradually untilting itself. An international committee established to monitor the listing landmark’s stability has found that 21 years after being pulled back from the brink, the tower is leaning even less. It has lost 4 cm (1.57 inches) of its tilt and moves less than expected.

Nunziante Squeglia, a professor of geotechnics at the University of Pisa who cooperates with the monitoring group, said that the tilt has decreased thanks to stabilization work, along with “oscillations now varying at the average of 1/2 millimeter a year, although what counts the most is the stability of the bell tower, which is better than expected”.

Construction of the bell tower of the Duomo of Pisa began in 1173 in an area where the soft, soggy subsoil spelled disaster from the very first. Crews had only reached the third story when the lean became pronounced. Work was interrupted by war in 1178 and when it resumed in 1272, the soil had stabilized somewhat. Engineers added four more floors and the belfry, adjusting the proportions to compensate for the lean by building one side of the floors taller than the other side.

The lean and subsidence continued undeterred by all attempts to correct them for eight centuries. The tower’s lean increased steadily by an estimated millimeter a year, which adds up when you’re measuring the years by the hundreds. On January 7th 1990, spurred by the tragic and deadly collapse of the 10th century Civic Tower in Pavia the year before, the Leaning Tower of Pisa was closed to the public. At this point it was leaning at a 5.5 degree angle and it was deemed at imminent risk of collapse. Anyone living in apartment buildings potentially in the path of a fall was evacuated and the tower was wrapped in a steel girdle, cabled and anchored to the ground. While it was being kept stable by wires and lead counterweights, massive quantities of soil were being removed from under the high side of the tower.

After 10 years work and 70 metric tons of soil removed, the tower’s lean was reduced to 3.99% degrees and it was 19 inches straighter, a position it had last seen in 1838. In 2001, the newly stabilized, slightly-less-leaning but much-less-fatal Tower of Pisa reopened to the public. It has been monitored regularly since then and is clearly passing with flying colors.

1.5 tons of bronze coins found in China

A massive hoard of 1.5 tons of bronze coins dating to the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties has been unearthed in the village of Shuangdun in eastern China’s Jiangsu province. The coins were strong together with straw ropes and arranged in tidy stacks.

The uncovered coins were well-preserved, and most of them had clear inscriptions, suggesting important value for further research.

In ancient China, such hoards were often buried in the ground so as to preserve precious porcelain, coins, metal tools, and other valuables, said the researchers.

Seventy wells were also found around the coin hoard, which was near the battle frontline of the Song and Jin troops, making the researchers wonder whether the excavation site belonged to a hutted camp.

Most of the coins in the hoard are from the Song dynasty wens. Bronze wens were the common currency of the period until a severe copper shortage forced the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) to issue coins of lower quality and value. Iron was hard to mint and rusted too easily once in circulation. Due to the scarcity of bronze coinage, the government was forced to cut military wages in half in 1161, ultimately leading to the emergence of paper money. In 1170, the state began to require that half of all taxes be paid with Huizi paper currency stepped into the breach.

Human sacrifice bones found in Denmark

Skeletal remains from what archaeologists believe is an ancient sacrificial victim have been discovered in Egedal on the island of Zealand, Denmark. The bones were found in an archaeological survey of a site slated for development around Town Hall. The found a femur and jaw bone first, and then unearthed legs, pelvis and more of the jaw. The bones belong to a single individual, and while an initial osteological examination found no direct evidence of sacrifice on the skeletal remains, the discovery of a Neolithic flint axe and a concentration of animal bones and pottery next to the body strongly suggests a ceremonial offering context from the Danish Neolithic (3900-1700 B.C.).

“That’s the early phase of the Danish Neolithic,” said excavation leader Emil Struve(opens in new tab), an archaeologist and curator at the ROMU museums in Roskilde. “We know that traditions of human sacrifices date back that far — we have other examples of it.” [..]

Struve said the flint ax-head found near the body was not polished after it was made and may have never been used, and so it seems likely that this, too, was a deliberate offering.

The style of the axe dates it to around 3600 B.C.

The area around ancient Egedal was a well-travelled transport corridor through the Værebro river valley dotted with settlements. The find site was a marshy area and the bog that evolved from it was still actively mined for peat well into the 20th century. Bog bodies are known for the preservation of soft tissue and organic materials that can take place in the anaerobic environment of peat bogs, but only the bones of this individual have been preserved.

The remains are now being cleaned and studied. Researchers will radiocarbon date the bones to narrow down when the person died. They also hope to be able to approximate their age by the wear on the teeth and their sex by the shape of the pelvis. More questions may be answered if ancient DNA can be extracted from the teeth.