Mid-January is the moment that our Staff would like to announce the 2016 Archaeological Awards for projects undertaken in Poland and worldwide. It is time to announce the research projects that our site would like to award for their contribution in archaeology, expanding our knowledge about the past, crossing new frontiers, and preservation of the cultural heritage.
We would like to announce the awarded top archaeology projects of our choice in two categories – Archaeology in Poland and Worldwide Archaeology. Please mark, that the awards do not choose the very best project, neither are the awards set in a hierarchy. The chosen projects were picked by the Staff of Archaeofeed as group of – in our opinion – the best and most interesting research conducted in the past year. Through the award we would like to show the appreciation to the researchers for their contribution in to our understanding of the past and the inspiration for seeking further knowledge that results from their actions and discoveries. Each award is presented with a unique diploma from Archaeofeed.
Ladies and gentleman, without further ado, we announce the list of the awarded projects for 2016:
Forgotten city of Dzwonowo
Dzwonowo was a town, which dates back to at least 14th century AD. Its remains were discovered accidentally through analysis of satellite imagery, revealing cropmarks that formed a layout of a Medieval town and a nearby village. Since 2016 researchers led by Marcin Krzepkowski of the Regional Museum in Wągrowiec are conducting a multidisciplinary investigation of the site, involving geophysical survey and excavations. So far, a cemetery with numerous burials, cellars of buildings, and a vast array of Medieval artefacts were unearthed. The archaeologists were also able to initially reconstruct the hypothetical layout of the city, basing on the cropmarks and results of non-invasive survey.
Project’s site: http://dzwonowo.wordpress.com
Warsaw Mummy Project
Archaeologists from University of Warsaw, Kamila Braulińska, Marzena Ożarek-Szilke and Wojciech Ejsmond are conducting an interdisciplinary project to study over 40 human and animal mummies from the collection of National Museum in Warsaw. The study involves such techniques like computer tomography, X-ray radiography and micro-invasive laparoscopy to obtain samples for laboratory analysis and DNA studies. So far this largest research of such kind in Poland revealed numerous artefacts wrapped with the mummies and allowed for correct identification of the gender of a female mummy, supposedly belonging to an Egyptian priest named Hor-Jehuti.
Project’s site: http://www.warsawmummyproject.com
Project’s blog: http://blog.warsawmummyproject.com
Facebook account: http://www.facebook.com/warsawmummyproject
Twitter account: http://twitter.com/warsaw_mummy
Prehistoric salt mines at Tyrawa Solna
Discovery of a 3000-2500-year-old salt mine in south-eastern Poland by an international team of archaeologists coordinated by Maciej Dąbiec (University of Rzeszów) and Thomas Saile (Universität Regensburg) was possible due to a combined application of non-invasive geophys and excavations. Although the Prehistoric salt production site was known for 30 years, the excavations for the first time revealed its salt production installations. This find attests to the importance of salt as a major trade product from the area of Poland in the Prehistoric times. There are only one other known salt mines of this age, in Wieliczka near Krakow, which makes this discovery unique and provides a glimpse into salt manufacturing in the period of shift from Bronze to Iron Age.
Reconstruction of a 19th century factory from salvaged plans
Warsaw, Poland’s capital, has a long history, which attracts many enthusiast studying and preserving it. Recently, such enthusiasts from the Okno na Warszawę project digitally reconstructed a 19th-century factory after finding its original plans in old thrown-away furniture. The oldest found document was dated to 1881. They managed to retrace the history of the urban plot and the buildings there and identify its historic owners. In our opinion this is a praiseworthy case of research, preservation and popularisation of local history by members of the community.
Aerial prospection of Lesser Poland region
For the past few years archaeologist Piotr Wroniecki and his colleagues has been conducting an aerial survey over south Poland’s Lesser Poland and Holy Cross Voivodeships. The first edition of the survey provided material for the creation of a documentary about aerial prospection (YouTube link). In 2016 the 7th edition of the survey was conducted as part of a larger project of revealing hidden archaeological landscapes of the loess upland near the Nida river basin. The archaeologists were able to detected cropmarks revealing numerous archaeological sites and other features, indicating presence of relics of man-made structures. The ongoing annual aerial survey is a proof that neither drones, nor airborne laser scanning (LiDAR) can replace aerial photographic prospection when it comes to detecting new sites and buried archaeological features.
Orońsko Flint Mines Project
The search for Neolithic flint mines of the so-called chocolate flint in the region of northern Holy Cross Mountains in Poland was conducted since 1920s. At the site in Orońsko, discovered in 1935, the team of archaeologists lead by Katarzyna Kerneder-Gubała was able to locate 36 sites connected with Prehistoric mining of chocolate flint and collect few thousand flint artefacts. The research consisted of non-invasive research, such as fieldwalking and geophysical measurements, and excavations, which unearthed mine shafts linked with Mesolithic and Neolithic mining and processing of chocolate flint by the people of Swiderian culture (11000-8200 BC) and Janisławice culture (6000-5000 BC).
Salvage of Palmyra’s artefacts
As the troops of the ISIS terrorists are driven from occupied areas, which include numerous archaeological sites in the Near East, the scale of destruction of cultural heritage comes to light. The most recent history of the UNESCO World Heritage listed site of Palmyra, once the capital of an empire, a symbol of resistance to Imperial Rome, is a history of destruction and passing from one military occupation to another. Despite current war in Syria archaeologists from Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of University of Warsaw travelled to the then-liberated site to assess the destruction made by ISIS troops. The work of these Polish archaeologists resulted in securing numerous crates of artwork in order to preserve the cultural heritage of this ancient site.
Must Farm project
Excavations at the Must Farm site at Whittlesey, just outside of Peterborough, United Kingdom, revealed a Bronze Age village consisting of at least five circular houses (6-8 metre diameter structures) raised on stilts on a river. The settlement is believed to have existed for a short period of time before being consumed by fire. Due to this fire that happened 3000 years ago, the roundhouses collapsed into the river with all their contents and the wet silty clay preserved all the timbers and organic material. Archaeological investigation at the site brought to light numerous interesting and rare artefacts attesting to the everyday-life of Bronze Age people, such as high quality textiles, wooden buckets and platters, metal weapons and tools such as axes, sickles, spears, swords, razors, hammers, tweezers, beads from the Mediterranean or Middle East, and the largest and most perfectly preserved wooden Bronze Age wheel ever discovered in the UK.
Restoration of ancient Roman villa in Positano
The restoration project of an ancient Roman villa decorated with spectacular wall paintings, located under the the Santa Maria dell’Assunta church in Positano, Italy, is conducted since 2015 by archaeologists Luciana Jacobelli. The villa, destroyed and buried due to the explosion of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD, needed much work involving removal of mud, debris and lapilli to expose and clean the painted decorations. Some of the colourful paintings inside the villa are combined with stucco decorations creating illusions of drapery covering the walls and revealing the splendour of Roman Age private housing.
Discovery of Lord Franklin’s HMS Terror
Explorers of the Arctic Research Foundation working in cooperation with Parks Canada were able to find the location of the second ship of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition from 1845, HMS Terror. The ship, together with HMS Erebus, disappeared searching for the Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The vessel was found resting on the depth of 24 metres in the waters of King William Island’s uncharted Terror Bay, 96 kilometres south of where the experts have believed the ship was crushed by ice. The wreck is sitting on the sea bed floor, indicating it sank gently to the bottom. It is said to be in such a good condition that glass panes are still in three of four tall windows in the stern cabin where the ship’s commander, Captain Francis Crozier, slept and worked. The discovery was made two years and a day after Canadian marine archaeologists found the wreck of HMS Erebus in the same area of eastern Queen Maud gulf.
First ever excavated cemetery of the Philistines at Ashkelon
Archaeologist of the Leon Levy Expedition discovered at Ashkelon, South Israel, what is believed to be a first and certain Philistine cemetery dating 3000 years to the past. This provided an unprecedented possibility to look at the ancient burial practices and the Philistine population. The cemetery located outside the city walls of Tel Ashkelon, which was one of the Philistines’ primary cities, is estimated to hold burials of nearly 1200 people. The Philistines were not indigenous to Canaan, what is indicated by ceramics, architecture, pottery remains with writing in non-Semitic language and the newly discovered burial customs. The Bible points their origin to the place called Caphtor, identified with the island of Crete, from which they migrated to the Canaan coast. The discovery allows archaeologists to study Philistine burial practices for the first time, and also sheds more light on the characteristics and lifestyle of these people and their dietary habits and levels of health.
Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon’s site: http://digashkelon.com
Facebook account: http://www.facebook.com/digashkelon
Twitter account: http://twitter.com/digashkelon
Leon Levy Foundation’s site: http://leonlevyfoundation.org
Pre-Columbian human and animal graveyard at Lima’s ZOO
Archaeologists lead by Karina Venegas Gutiérrez unearthed the remains of 134 humans and 138 dogs and other animals during excavations in the ZOO of Peru’s capital, Lima. The animals are said to have been buried between the years 1000-1470 AD by members of the Ichma culture. The exceptional thing is that human and canine remains seem to be randomly buried in the same area and at the same time. Normally, canine burials are found separately to human ones, or dogs are found within human burials – as pre-Columbian Peruvian cultures believed that dogs provided escort to the afterlife. Some of the humans seem to have died in the context of a conflict or violence of some kind because most of them were individuals between 20 and 40 years old who had suffered blows to the head and ribs before dying. Canine skeletons show no signs of fatal wounds, although they probably might have been strangled. All these evidence indicate that the dogs were part of a ritual sacrifice to the humans after a mass death.
Salvage excavations at Newfoundland
Laurie Maclean and his dig assistant Don Pelley are working on salvaging the traces of Palaeoeskimo occupation of the areas endangered by river erosion in the region of the Exploits River in Newfoundland. The archaeologists discovered numerous sites containing features such as fire pits and stone tools. Radiocarbon dating for the remains found within the features dates the artefacts to 2200 years in the past when this area was used by Groswater Paleoeskimos. According to the research the abundance of archaeological sites in the area indicates to the Exploits River being one of the main highways for three, maybe four different types of Indigenous cultures. This example of archaeological work is crucial to understanding the culture of the people inhabiting this remote area over two millennia ago and preserving their material culture endangered by constant river erosion.
Hellfire Club Archaeological Project
The Hellfire Club on Montpelier Hill in Dublin Mountains, Ireland, was built as a shooting lodge for politician William Conolly in 1725 supposedly on the site of a Neolithic passage tomb from which stones were taken to build a portion of the structure. a team of archaeologists led by . are now examining the site in order to identify the remains of the two Neolithic passage tombs that are said to have stood prior to construction of the LodgeThe study involved a geophysical survey, aerial UAV footage, digital reconstruction and excavations. The archaeologists were able to prove that the site is indeed a passage tomb, the largest in the Dublin area, being over 30 metres in diameter. The excavations also revealed a stone bearing carvings – concentric circles, a spiral motif said to be often used in major Neolithic passage tombs. The find allowed to seal the date of the tomb to at least 5000 years ago and put it in the grand tradition of sites like Newgrange in Co Meath.
Denisova Cave excavations
The Denisovans are an extinct species of human in the genus Homo, deriving its name from the discovery of a finger bone fragment of a juvenile female who lived about 41000 years ago, found in the remote Denisova Cave in Altai Mountains. The cave has been occupied by humans for 282000 years and the Denisovan remains found in it date back even up to 170000 years ago. The ongoing archaeological investigation of the site lead by Maksim Kozlikin of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk recently revealed unique Palaeolithic artefacts such as a needle made roughly 50000 years ago, a well-polished jewellery – part of a bracelet – made of chlorite and jewellery made out of ostrich eggshells between 45000-50000 years ago. The research in this remote area provides insight into the mysterious extinct human species.
Thousands of petroglyphs found in Iran
Iranian archaeologist Mohammad Naserifard discovered and documented numerous sites across two dozen Iranian provinces, containing some 50000 examples of ancient rock paintings and engravings. This rock art depicts ancient hunters, tribal dances, cup marks, possible deities and beasts. In the region of Khomein, thousands of rock art sites were documented, some of which have been dated to approximately 4000 years old. Almost 90 percent of Iran’s rock art consists of the ibex motif, an animal hunted in Iran from the Middle Paleolithic period onwards (from 38000 BC). The discoveries have been catalogued by the Bradshaw Foundation, a Swiss NGO specialising in rock art, bringing them international attention. But getting definitive dating for the rock art has been so far impossible for Iranian archaeologists because of lack of needed technology in the country, due to the international sanctions on the Iranian regime.
Project’s site: http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/middle_east/iran_rock_art/index.php
Project’s Iranian site: http://iranrockart.com
Foundation’s site: http://www.bradshawfoundation.com
Facebook account: http://www.facebook.com/BradshawFoundation
Twitter account: http://twitter.com/BradshawFnd
Earliest settlement found in Iceland
Excavations at Stöðvarfjörður, East Fjords region of Iceland, lead by Bjarni F. Einarsson revealed the possibly oldest human settlement on the island. So far the oldest known settlement was made by Nordic settler, Ingólfur Arnarson in 874 AD. The finds from the Stöðvarfjörður site have been dated by radiocarbon dating, revealing the date of 800 AD. This shifts the first date of settlement three quarters of a century earlier. No animal bones were found, which might indicate that the site was used as a seasonal residence in order to exploit the natural resources the area. Archaeologists however were able to discover remains of a longhouse-shaped structure with thick floor layers and artefacts such as a sharpener, pearls, washers, a ring, a silver coin, and piece of chalcedony rock, used for carving.
Restoration and transport of The Maud to Norway
The Maud Returns Home project is aimed at bringing The Maud, the ship of Arctic Explorer Roald Amundsen, back to Norway. The ship served Amundsen during his 1918-20 expedition into the Northeast Passage and after being sold it was trapped in ice in Nunavut, North Canada, since 1930. Despite being submerged in Arctic waters for more than 80 years, the hull of the ship has maintained much of its integrity and a team lead by Jan Wanggaard cleaned it and removed mud and other debris from the deck. All of that was done in order to prepare the ship for the voyage home in summer 2017 as the final part of the project to bring this fine specimen of national heritage home.
Project’s site: http://www.maudreturnshome.no
Facebook account: http://www.facebook.com/pages/MAUD-returns-home/155999407795135
Twitter account: http://twitter.com/maudreturnshome
Fading Star – Shining light project
The team of researchers from York, Kirsty High, Kirsty Penkman and Ian Panter, have studied the impact of land drainage on soil changes that affect artefacts and fossils. Basing the results on observations on the Star Carr site they have discovered the ongoing decay of artefacts due to drainage of waterlogged areas, which puts the vast number of archaeological finds at risk. The latest research has proven, the destruction of artefacts is more rapid than previously thought as sulphuric acid is influencing the organic parts of artefacts, demineralising them. The result of this research and its continuation in a wider range may be crucial for preservation of numerous wetland sites all over the globe.
Mapping submerged Mesolithic landscapes in the Baltic
Anton Hansson from Lund University and his team of researchers have revealed a portion of the Mesolithic landscape now submerged in the Baltic Sea in the area of Hanö Bay. They found the oldest known stationary wooden fish traps in northern Europe and 9000-years-old artefacts such as a pick axe made out of elk antlers. They have also produced topographic maps of the area basing on the obtained bathymetric data. Most of the coastal sites of the Mesolithic are now underwater due to sea level rise, about 10-12 metres since the time of the artefacts usage and even up to 120 since the last glacial period. This new study provides evidence for the need to study these submerged landscapes across Europe and coastal areas the world.
Lost City of Trellech Project
Trellech is the name of a lost Medieval city in South Wales that has been excavated for a couple of past year by archaeologist Stuart Wilson and a team of volunteers. The settlement was the home of several Norman lords of the de Clare family who used it as a mass iron production site. The finds date back to at leat 13th century AD. Archaeologists found pottery, coins, walls, a well, but also a manor house with two halls and a courtyard. The courtyard is enclosed with curtain walls and a massive round tower. It was possible to establish that the remains of the 13th-century town sit on an older settlement, indicating the moment when the town was built in stone after attacks by English and Welsh forces. According to the historical sources, the town has fallen into ruin by 1400 and was abandoned by 1650, after the English Civil War. The excavations revealed only a small portion of the town which is a real time capsule of the Late Medieval period.
Project’s site: http://www.lostcityoftrellech.co.uk
Congratulations from the Staff of Archaeofeed.com!