Friday, 18 October 2013

Reconstruction of ancient Slavic boat in Rugen.

Reconstruction of ancient Slavic boat in Rugen.
A significant archaeological discovery was made in the village of Ralswiek on the legendary island of Rügen in 1967. During roadworks an excavator dug out several oak planks from the ground.  The road workers took their finding to a team of archaeologists working nearby and those soon began archaeological excavations during which four ancient Slavic ships and a trading settlement was uncovered. The settlement was one of the most important ports on the Baltic coast existed the 8th century. It was proposed that Rujani (an early Slavic tribe) harboured their fleet in the place of archealogical discovery because it is located in the Bay area protected from sea storms. The village of Ralswiek was destroyed by the enemies, most likely by Danes. This is evidenced by the traces of fire and hidden treasure of 2,203 Arab dichroism.
The archaeological excavation of the ships was not easy. Excacavated ships had to be buried in the ground because there were no funds allocated by the state for ships’ preservation. The ships were dug out for second time in 1980 to be shown to an international conference. The ships had to be buried in the ground once again as no money was provided by the state to preserve the ships.  It was only in 1993 the state provided the funds for archaeological excavations and preservation of ships. The ships were dug out for third time, adequately preserved and a team of ship builders was appointed for ship reconstruction to go ahead.
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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Archaeology: 7000-year-old defensive wall emerges near Bulgaria’s Shoumen

The dry spell blanketing Bulgaria for the past two months has resulted in an unexpected archaeological discovery, with the remains of a 7000-year-old defensive wall emerging from the waters of the Ticha accumulation lake near the town of Shoumen in northeastern Bulgaria.
The wall is more than five meters tall, made of rocks that are being held together by clay. The wall has an arrowslit and appears to be better built than other fortifications dating back to the same period in this part of Europe, historian Stefan Chohadjiev from Veliko Turnovo University told Bulgarian National Television.
On the southern approach of the hill, the fortification is at its strongest, with three parallel lines of defence built to repel attackers. The inhabitants of the stronghold appear to have been a frequent target of attacks, this being the most likely reason why its defences have been built up, instead of featuring only the more traditional moat, according to Chohadjiev.

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Friday, 16 August 2013

Oxford Experience 2014

The programme for the Oxford Experience Summer School is now online.  Registration will not begin until late September, but now is the time to start planning your courses for next summer.

You can find the programme here...

Badger digs up medieval warrior graves

A badger has led German archaeologists to a stunning find of medieval warrior graves, complete with one skeleton still clutching a sword and a wearing snake-shaped buckle on his belt. 

Scientists are now examining the burial site where at least eight people were buried.

Artist and voluntary monument maintenance man Lars Wilhelm said he was watching badgers near his home in Brandenburg, north Germany, when he realized they were digging into an ancient grave. 

He said he had been watching the progress of an enormous badger sett for five years. "My wife and I - we are both sculptors - wanted to put artworks in there." 

But this was now out of the question, he said. "The bones changed everything," he added. 

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Sunday, 14 July 2013

Possible vampire graves found in Poland

Archaeologists in Gliwice, southern Poland have discovered a burial ground where the dead were laid to rest in accordance with practices for alleged vampires.

Possible vampire graves found in Poland
Skeletons at the site in Gliwice [Credit: Regional Conservator of Monuments, Polamd]
Four skeletons were found at the site, where mandatory digs were being carried out prior to the construction of a ring road. In each case, the deceased had been buried with the head between the legs.

According to folk beliefs, this prevented a possible vampire from finding his or her way back to the land of the living.

There was no trace at the burial ground of any earthly possessions, such as jewellery, belts or buckles.

“It's very difficult to tell when these burials were carried out,” archaeologist Dr Jacek Pierzak told the Dziennik Zachodni newspaper.

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Monday, 10 June 2013

On the beginnings of urban life in Poland

When did cities begin to thrive in Poland? Was it associated with the German colonization in the thirteenth century, or had the Piast developed these centres several hundred years earlier? Prof. Zbyszko Górczak of the Institute of History, A. Mickiewicz University in Poznań, presents contemporary position of Polish historiography.
"The history of the dispute between the Polish and German historiographers is long and dates back to the birth of modern historiography in the second half of the nineteenth century. The dispute was intertwined with nationalist slogans, German scientists and politicians viewed the matter of the formation of cities in the East as evidence of the inferiority of Slavic civilization, which of course gave rise to protests of Polish science. The conflict has not died down until the end of the communist era in the late 1980s" - explained Prof. Górczak.

From the very beginning, Polish scientists argued the native and very early birth of urban life in Poland. This was supported by renowned scholars like Prof. Gerard Labuda and Prof. Henryk Łowmiański. At the other extreme were German researchers, convinced that the idea of the formation of the cities was brought to the East only by immigrants from Germany.

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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Unique workshop of Palaeolithic hunters discovered in Silesia

The digital model of a biface discovered in the area of the site. Below, a schematic tool cross section showing the method of making of plano-convex form. Scanning by M. Mackiewicz

More than a thousand flint tools and waste generated on during their treatment were discovered near Pietrowice Wielkie (Silesia) by archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology, University of Wrocław - told PAP head researcher Dr. Andrzej Wiśniewski.
The flint workshops, remains of which were found by archaeologists, had been used by Neanderthals. The researchers are waiting for more detailed information on the site dating. The workshop is certainly more than 45 thousand years old.

"Tools were made by a specific canon of Neanderthals living in Central Europe. These items have a cutting edge on both sides, they are bifacial" - said Dr. Wiśniewski.

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3D reconstruction of medieval Nieszawa

Animation by Jakub Zakrzewski and Stanisław Rzeźnik.

In 2012, precise location of medieval town Nieszawa was determined. And that's without sinking a shovel into the ground, with the use of non-invasive methods. Now, a professional, 3D reconstruction of the settlement has been prepared for everyone to see on YouTube.
Animation authors are Jakub Zakrzewski and Stanisław Rzeźnik, who created a preliminary reconstruction of the medieval Nieszawa in collaboration with Piotrand Wroniecki and Michał Pisz, and with archaeological and historical consultation with Lidia Grzeszkiewicz-Kotlewska and Leszek Kotlewski, dr. Jerzy Sikora and Dariusz Osiński.

Today’s Nieszawa is a small town situated on the west bank of the Vistula River, 30 km upstream from Toruń. Its history dates back to the thirteenth century, when it was given to the Teutonic Order by Konrad I Mazowiecki in 1228 (today small town Mała Nieszawka). Over the next 200 years, the town location changed twice. After the defeat at Grunwald, the Teutonic Knights were forced to tear down the Commandery and the castle. However, already in 1424 Władyslaw Jagiello founded Mała Nieszawka near Toruń. After 1460, the town was moved several miles up the Vistula, where it remains today.

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Archaeologists located a city dating back more than 500 years

Geophysical map of medieval Nieszawa - regular buildings visible

A group of archaeologists from Warsaw located the place of second location of the city Nieszawa near Dybowski Castle in Toruń. The researchers used non-invasive research methods: air prospection and geophysical surveys.
"With surveys, we were able to preliminarily locate the likely range, size and topography of the city, which has not existed for over 550 years" - says project co-ordinator Michał Pisz.

As a result of carried out geophysical surveys, the researchers have obtained a clear outline of the buildings around the square. Furthermore, the anomalies recorded by magnetic measurements correspond to the vegetation highlights captured in aerial photographs taken by Wiesław Stępień.

"Based on the preliminary interpretation of the magnetic measurement results, it can be concluded that the source of anomalies we have recorded are objects made of bricks" - said Piotr Wroniecki, archaeologist involved in the project.

After surveying the central part of the city, the researchers will move to the west and north.

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Friday, 26 April 2013

Online Courses in Archaeology

University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology
Cave paintings, castles and pyramids, Neanderthals, Romans and Vikings - archaeology is about the excitement of discovery, finding out about our ancestors, exploring landscape through time, piecing together puzzles of the past from material remains.
These courses enable you to experience all this through online archaeological resources based on primary evidence from excavations and artefacts and from complex scientific processes and current thinking. Together with guided reading, discussion and activities you can experience how archaeologists work today to increase our knowledge of people and societies from the past.
The following courses are available:

Saturday, 23 March 2013


First farmers on the Polish Lowland

The transition to farming on the Polish Lowland, which is a part of the North European Plain, was a complex process lasting over a millennium. This is partly due to the diversity of the landscapes (Figure 1) from the Pomerania Lakeland to the north with its rolling glacial hills and the south with the flat monotonous Great Poland Lowland Plain. The largest area is covered by a light sandy soil, however, in some regions heavy, fertile mollic gleysols formed over a clay subsoil can be found; comparable to the fertile loess-based soils prevailing in the uplands of southern Poland.

The Early Neolithic long house

The LBK long house is a rectangular post-built dwelling with a pitched roof structure, which rests its weight on three rows of posts along the its axis (Figure 2). The side walls are created by a row of more densely spaced external posts sunk to a shallower depth than the weight bearing posts. In the eastern part of the LBK distribution area, including Kuyavia, there is as yet no record of foundation trenches in the buildings, which is a more common feature to the west.
The length of these long houses varies from 12 to 40 plus metres, though the average is about 20 metres. The width is more standardised, ranging from between 5 to 8 metres.

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Monday, 18 February 2013

Bulgarian Archaeologists Uncover Major Roman Thermae

A Bulgarian team of archaeologists have discovered well-preserved remains of aRoman bath in the ancient Bulgarian town of Sozopol.
The news was revealed by National Museum of History director Bozhidar Dimitrov.
"The team, led by Sozopol Archaeology Museum director Dimitar Nedev has made the discovery as part of its digs in the area in front of Sozopol's fortress walls," said the historian.
According to Dimitrov, the thermae building is 18 meters long and features an intricate water supply systems as well as numerous pools of various sizes.
"Except for Roman baths in Hissarya and Varna, this is the best-preserved Romanbath in Bulgarian lands," added he.
Dimitrov expressed satisfaction at the string of discoveries made in Sozopol, which he said will make an attractive open-air exhibit once archaeological works are completed.

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ARCHI The Archaeological Sites Index

ARCHI, the online searchable archaeological database, has added a new feature that allows users to add sites to their world-wide database.

The online form is easy to use and should prove to be an extremely useful addition to this site.

You can find the online form at:

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Archaeology Summer Courses at Oxford

The Oxford Experience is offering a number of archaeology courses this summer.

Each course lasts for one week and participants stay in the 16th century college of Christ Church.

The courses offered are:

Cathedrals of Britain by James Bond
An Introduction to Archaeology by David Beard
The Black Death by Trevor Rowley (course full)
Bishop Odo and the Bayeux Tapestry by Trevor Rowley
Colleges of Oxford by Julian Munby
The Architecture and Archaeology of Medieval Churches by David Beard (course full)
Cotswold Towns by Trevor Rowley
Treasures of the British Museum by Michael Duigan (course full)
Churches of England by Kate Tiller
Treasures of the Ashmolean Museum by Gail Bent
The Age of Stonehenge by Scott McCracken
The World of the Vikings by David Beard

You can find further details here...

Saturday, 16 February 2013

EMAS Easter Study Tour to Yorkshire

There are still a few places available on the Easter archaeological study tour to Yorkshire.

The Study Tour is organized by EMAS, the University of London Extra-Mural Archaeological Society, and is open to any one.

You can find further details here...

Monday, 4 February 2013

Das Schwert des Fürsten

Ende der 1990er Jahre entdeckten Archäologen in Usedom das prachtvolle Kammergrab eines slawischen Fürsten aus dem späten 11. Jahrhundert. Diese aufwändig gebaute Kammer befand sich inmitten eines Gräberfeldes und enthielt neben wertvollen Schalen und Münzen auch ein kostbares Schwert. Für die große CREDO-Ausstellung in Paderborn wird dieses Kammergrab mit Beigaben im Museum in der Kaiserpfalz rekonstruiert und erstmals einem breiten Publikum gezeigt. Die Exponate sind Eigentum des Landesamtes für Kultur und Denkmalpflege Schwerin.
Das Schwert und weitere Beigaben werden vor ihrer Präsentation in den Werkstätten des Landschaftverbandes Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) restauriert. In einem komplizierten Prozess wird das wertvolle Schwert konserviert, wobei die eigentliche Substanz nicht beschädigt werden darf. "Ein in seiner organischen Substanz so gut erhaltenes Schwert hatten wir bislang nur selten in unseren Werkstätten. Zudem zeigen der Schaft und die Klingenform eine Form, die sich in Westfalen so nicht findet", sagt Andreas Weisgerber, Restaurator der LWL-Archäologie für Westfalen Lippe.

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Sunday, 27 January 2013

Bulgaria Funds Varna Roman Baths Restoration with BGN 3 M

The Roman Baths are one of the most valuable monuments of culture in Bulgaria's Black Sea city of Varna.
Photo by
Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance MinisterSimeon Djankov, has pledged the significant amount of BGN 3 M for restoration and conservation of the historical Roman Baths in the Black Sea city of Varna.
The sum came as a pleasant surprise to archaeologists who have asked for BGN 200 000.
Djankov made the pledge during a discussion organized by the Bulgarian Standard daily in Varna in the frame of the newspaper's campaign "The Miracles of Bulgaria."
The Minister stated the idea to provide significant funds under the Via Ponticaprogram was not to give more money for archaeological research, but to make existing archaeological sites more attractive in order to boost tourism. He called on archaeologists to be creative in inventing names and stories around their discoveries.
The program is named after the Via Pontica bird migration flyway.

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Thursday, 24 January 2013


Before and after photographs of damaged fresco. Image: Auron Tare

Important medieval frescoes of St. Premte Chapel in the remote village of Valsh in central Albania, have suffered irreparable damage at the hands of thieves who tried to prize them from the walls.

The frescoes mainly depict religious scenes, some of which were created by Onufri, a 16th century icon painter who spent a period of his life in Valsh. Widely considered to be Albania’s greatest icon painter, Onufri is renowned for his colours and style and introduced greater realism and individuality into facial expressions, breaking with the strict conventions of Byzantine art. His works were signed with the title “Protopapas” (Greek: Πρωτόπαππας), demonstrating a senior position in the church hierarchy.

Irreversible damage

Initial damage to the frescoes was sustained on 30 December 2012 when the Chapel was closed and unguarded. Local people made the discovery soon after and notified the authorities – but no action was taken – allowing the thieves to strike again on 4 January 2013.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Archaeologists Excavate Ancient Greek Trade Center in Bulgaria

Archaeologist and professor Mieczysław Domaradzki likely made one of the great discoveries of his life when, in 1990, he and his colleagues uncovered, at a site along the banks of the Maritsa River in Bulgaria, an ancient stone Greek inscription.  The inscription, today known as the Vetren Inscription (named after the nearby town of Vetren), revealed the site as the location of the ancient Greek trading center, or emporion, of Pistiros.

But the inscription revealed more than this. It afforded a rare glimpse into the special relationship that the Pistiros Greeks had with their Thracian hosts, as Pistiros sat deep within the territory of the 5th - 3rd century B.C. Thracian Odryssian kings:
If a merchant brings suit against another merchant (in Pistiros) they shall be judged among their kinsmen and with regard to whatever is owed to the merchants by Thracians, there shall be no cancellation of these debts. All land and pasture owned by the merchants shall not be taken away from them. He shall not send holders of estates(?) to the merchants.
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the BALKAN HERITAGE FIELD SCHOOL is accepting EARLY BIRD APPLICATIONS* through January 31st 2013 for 9 field school projects in the following areas: Archeology, Art History, Restoration and Conservation of Artifacts and Monuments (Please refer to the list below and the promo flier attached). Thank to the partnership with New Bulgarian University, Sofia, Bulgaria 6 academic credits (for two-week projects) and 9 academic credits (for four-week projects) will be granted upon request to students who attend to these projects.

Go to the Website...

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Archaeological finds reveal ancient Balkan civilizations

Numerous gold items have been recovered at archeological sites in Bulgaria. [AFP]

Bulgarian archaeologists announced two major finds at the close of the 2012 excavation season, and hope to obtain state and other financial support to shed more light on the life and culture of the early Balkan civilisations. 

Vasil Nikolov, former head of the country's National Archaeology Institute, unearthed Europe's oldest urban settlement near Provadia, 50 kilometres west of Varna on the Black Sea, which is dated between 4700 and 4200 BC. 

The site is more than 100 metres in diameter, is encompassed by a 3-meter high stone wall and has two-story structures housing nearly 350 residents. 

The settlement is one part of a much larger complex from the same period, which includes a salt production unit, a sanctuary and a necropolis.

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2,000-year-old treasure found in Black Sea fortress

The citadel was torched by the Roman army in A.D. 45, with many of its inhabitants likely killed. Some time afterward Artezian was rebuilt with stronger fortifications although it, along with the rest of the Bosporan Kingdom, was under the sway of Rome
[Credit: Russian-Ukrainian Archaeological Artezian Expedition]

Residents of a town under siege by the Roman army about 2,000 years ago buried two hoards of treasure in the town's citadel — treasure recently excavated by archaeologists.

More than 200 coins, mainly bronze, were found along with "various items of gold, silver and bronze jewelry and glass vessels" inside an ancient fortress within the Artezian settlement in the Crimea (in Ukraine), the researchers wrote in the most recent edition of the journal Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia.
"The fortress had been besieged. Wealthy people from the settlement and the neighborhood had tried to hide there from the Romans. They had buried their hoards inside the citadel," Nikolaï Vinokurov, a professor at Moscow State Pedagogical University, explained.

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Sunday, 13 January 2013

2,000-Year-Old Treasure Discovered In Black Sea Fortress

Residents of a town under siege by the Roman army about 2,000 years ago buried two hoards of treasure in the town's citadel — treasure recently excavated by archaeologists.

More than 200 coins, mainly bronze, were found along with "various items of gold, silver and bronze jewelry and glass vessels" inside an ancient fortress within the Artezian settlement in the Crimea (in Ukraine), the researchers wrote in the most recent edition of the journal Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia.

"The fortress had been besieged. Wealthy people from the settlement and the neighborhood had tried to hide there from the Romans.  They had buried their hoards inside the citadel," Nikolaï Vinokurov, a professor at Moscow State Pedagogical University, explained. [See Photos of the Buried Treasure]

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