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Archaeologists have made a remarkable – and delicious – discovery in Bavaria, where during an excavation they dug up a 250 year-old pretzel.

Silvia Codreanau-Windauer from the Bavarian Bureau for the Conservation of Historic Monuments confirmed that: “this is definitely the oldest pretzel ever found” – although she would give no word on whether it was past its expiration date.

Alongside the remains of the pretzel, archaeologists also found the charred remains of a bread roll and a croissant – suggesting that someone missed out on quite the historical breakfast buffet in the 18th century, the period the find has been dated to.

The baked goods are only preserved because they were burnt when originally made. Archaeologists suggest that the baker must have thrown them away in disappoinment.

The excavation site in the eastern Bavarian city of Regensburg has already proven a fruitful source for archaeologists, who discovered a wooden house thought to be up to 1200 years old there.

On this site, which lies on the Danube, there are plans to build a museum for Bavarian history to mark the centenary of the region’s status as a free state in 2018.

The mayor of Regensburg Joachim Wolbergs said. “This discovery is really extraordinary, because it depicts a snippet of everyday life.”

The baked delicacy is very much a part of everyday life. Pretzels may be seen as typically German by non-Germans, but really are very much a south German and Austrian delicacy.

It has been at the heart of southern German baking traditions for centuries, and in Bavaria in particular is often eaten for breakfast alongside Weißwürst (white sausage) with sweet mustard.

Codreanu-Windauer added some historical context to the discovery: “The form of the pretzel is supposed to represent the crossed arms of monks. Eventually it ended up as a fasting meal.”

Monks are the symbol for the state capital Munich, and different orders and monasteries give their names to many of the Free State’s most famous beers, from Augustiner to Weihenstephan – any of which are all the more delicious when enjoyed with a salty pretzel.

Original article:

Thelocal.de

 

jade corn cobe

A mysterious corn cob shaped artifact, dating to somewhere between 900 B.C. and 400 B.C., has been discovered underwater at the site of Arroyo Pesquero in Veracruz, Mexico. 

Made of jadeite, a material that is harder than steel, the artifact has designs on it that are difficult to put into words. It contains rectangular shapes, engraved lines and a cone that looks like it is emerging from the top. It looks like a corncob in an abstract way archaeologists say.

It’s an “extraordinary and unusual archaeological specimen made of mottled brown-and-white jadeite,” the team wrote in an article published recently in the journal Ancient Mesoamerica. 

Pesquero archaeological project, discovered the artifact in 2012 while diving with Jeffery Delsescaux about 2 to 3 meters (6.6 to 9.8 feet) below the surface of a deep stream.

“Underwater conditions were particularly challenging and included near-zero visibility and many obstructions, including large logs, smaller debris, partially decomposed leaves and other vegetation,” the team wrote.

The artifact dates to a time when a civilization now called the Olmec flourished in the area. The Olmec people built stone statues of giant human heads and constructed a city now called “La Venta” about 10 miles (16 kilometers) northeast of Arroyo Pesquero. The city, which may have supported some 10,000 people, contained a 112-foot-high (34 m) 

“The iconography is pretty difficult to interpret; it’s definitely not clear,” said Carl Wendt, a professor at California State University, Fullerton who is directing the project. “It seems to be an abstract representation, I believe, of a cob of corn,” he said. Corn, along with beans and squash, was an important part of the diet for people in ancient Mesoamerica.

The artifact may have had several uses. “While it certainly could have once been the handle of a bloodletter, in its current form, we argue that it probably would have been attached, as a finial, to a staff and functioned as a symbol of power and authority,” the team wrote in the article.

In the end, the artifact may have been placed in the stream as an offering, Wendt said. The offering could have been connected to deities, ancestor veneration or magic, he added. Over the past 50 years thousands of artifacts have been found at the site and they may have been left as offerings, archaeologists say.

A sacred place

The site where the artifacts were found is a place where freshwater intersects with saltwater, Wendt said, noting that jellyfish from the ocean can get into the stream during heavy rain. To the Olmec, this intersection of freshwater and saltwater may have had great importance.

“While having practical importance today as a spot to collect freshwater, in Olmec times, the confluence would also have been important for symbolic and cosmological reasons, and an ideal place for a ritual hoard or votive offerings,” the team wrote in the journal article.

So far, the archaeologists have found no buildings at Arroyo Pesquero that date to between 900 B.C. and 400 B.C. (when the offerings were made). Rather it is the water that is important the researchers said.

“Freshwater, so critical to daily life, was relatively scarce in a region of stagnant swamps,” the team wrote. “It is no wonder that springs and other freshwater sources were sacred places, and sacrificing [objects] at them was an important part of Olmec ritual.”

Wendt co-founded the Arroyo Pesquero archaeological project in 2005 so that the site could be studied scientifically. While thousands of artifacts have been found at the site over the past 50 years many lack details about their origins. Some of them were found by looters and are in private collections.

By Owen Jarus

Original Article:

Livescience

 

Olmec stone head

 


  

A diver holds the bottle from the Civil War ship Mary-Celestia in 2011 

 

An excavation of the bow of the Civil War blockade runner ship


It tasted like crab water and gasoline, the wine experts said

An old bottle of wine containing grey liquid that was dug up from a US Civil War shipwreck was uncorked and tasted yesterday.

It was recovered intact four years ago from the 1864 wreck of the Mary-Celestia blockade runner that sank off the coast of Bermuda. It was sampled by wine experts after being submerged for 151 years.

The sommeliers’ verdict at a food festival in Charleston, South Carolina, is that the grey “wine” actually smelled and tasted like crab water, gasoline, salt water, vinegar, with hints of citrus and alcohol.

It could have been a Spanish fortified wine, a spirit, or medicine. But after spending a century-and-a-half at the bottom of the ocean, it’s now mostly saltwater.

About 50 people who bought tickets to the Charleston Wine + Food event titled “From Deep Below: A Wine Event 150 Years in the Making” also tasted the drink.

“I’ve had shipwreck wines before,” master sommelier Paul Roberts said. “They can be great.”

A sample smelled like camphor, stagnant water, hydrocarbons, turpentine and sulphur, wine chemist Pierre Louis Teissedre of the University of Bordeaux said after analysing samples. Analysis showed it was 37 percent alcohol.

The wine was one of five sealed bottles recovered by marine archaeologists from the iron-hulled sidewheel steamship that sank under mysterious circumstances during the US Civil War.

The boat was leaving Bermuda with supplies for the Confederate states when it struck a reef and sank in six minutes, said cultural anthropologist and Bermudan shipwreck expert Philippe Rouja.

Whether the sinking was deliberate or accidental has been debated.

Philippe and his brother, Jean-Pierre Rouja, were diving on the shipwreck in 2011 after winter storms swept over the site when they found a bottle of wine inside a secret boatswain’s locker in the bow.

Subsequent dives turned up the additional bottles, as well as sealed bottles of perfume, women’s shoes, hairbrushes and pearl shell buttons.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, which was fought from 1861 to 1865 and began in Charleston Harbor with the Battle of Fort Sumter.

By LAMIAT SABIN

Independant.co.uk

 

 



Scientists have scrutinized the contents of four bottles of beer found in a Baltic Sea shipwreck from the 1840s, an amber ale that perhaps was brewed in Belgium and was on its way to ports in Russia or Scandinavia.

The new analysis found that bacteria inside the beer bottles survived 170 years until it was discovered by divers in 2010, according to Brian Gibson, senior scientist at the VTT Technical Research Centre in Espoo, Finland.

“These bacteria were still alive,” Gibson said. The analysis “gave us some insight into the way that beers were brewed. We have a reasonably good idea about what kind of hops were used, different ones than today. These hops would have been harsher, these days they are quite mild. The one surprising thing is the beers were quite mild. The original alcohol level was 4.5 percent, nothing extreme.”

Gibson and colleagues at the University of Munich published their chemical and microbiological analysis recently in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

While some breweries have recreated ancient beer recipes from colonial, medieval or even Egyptian eras, Gibson believes this is the oldest intact bottle of beer. Over time, seawater seeped through the cork and made the contents about 30 percent saltwater. As a result, the big tasting by beer experts in Finland was a bit of a bust.

“The beer was quite degraded, it had a sell by date and it appeared to be well past that,” he said. “For the analysis, it was difficult to pick out the original flavors. We invited some of the most experienced beer tasters in Finland. The flavors were from bacterial contamination and not the original flavors of the beer.”

The scientists turned to chemical analysis of the remaining sugars and

“We looked at esters, which give beer a fruity or flowery taste. Most of the compounds that we would expect were there. In terms of the fruitiness, probably similar to modern beers. High level of 2-phenyl ethanol which gives a rose or floral aroma.”

Compared to modern craft brews, Gibson said it was like an amber or lambic ale, modern styles that are brewed with wild hops, floral and have sour notes.

Sam Calagione, founder and president of Dogfish Head brewery in Milton, Del., had been brewing historic beers since 1998, using recipes from archaeological digs that are passed on by scientists.

Dogfish’s “Midas Touch,” which is brewed from evidence found in a 2,700-year-old tomb in Turkey, is comprised of barley, saffron and white muscat grapes.

“The whole idea of looking backward for creative inspiration and culinary adventure is really catching on,” Calagione said. “All (the scientists) can give us is a laundry list of ingredients. It is up to us to come up with a creative recipe. What the alcohol content is, whether it’s filtered or carbonated. We have a lot of creative input in bringing these creative beers back to life.”

Stallhagen Brewery in the Aaland Islands of Finland recently re-created the Baltic Sea brew, called “1843.”

By Eric Niiler

Original article:

News.discovery.com



The site is submerged.



Wheat was present in Britain 8,000 thousand years ago, according to new archaeological evidence.

Fragments of wheat DNA recovered from an ancient peat bog suggests the grain was traded or exchanged long before it was grown by the first British farmers.

The research, published in Science, suggests there was a sophisticated network of cultural links across Europe.

The grain was found at what is now a submerged cliff off the Isle of Wight. 

Farming of plants and animals first appeared in the Near East, with the technology spreading along two main routes into Europe.

The accepted of arrival on the British mainland is around 6,000 years ago, as ancient hunter gatherers began to grow crops such as wheat and barley.

The DNA of the wheat – known as einkorn – was collected from sediment that was once a peat bog next to a river. 

Scientists think traders arrived in Britain with the wheat, perhaps via land bridges that connected the south east coast of Britain to the European mainland, where they encountered a less advanced hunter gatherer society.

The wheat may have been made into flour to supplement the diet, but a search for pollen and other clues revealed no signs that the crop was grown in Britain until much later.

Cultural connection

Dr Robin Allaby of the University of Warwick, who led the research, said 8,000 years ago the people of mainland Britain were leading a hunter-gatherer existence, while at the same time farming was gradually spreading across Europe. 

“Common throughout neolithic Southern Europe, einkorn is not found elsewhere in Britain until 2,000 years after the samples found at Bouldnor Cliff,” he said.

“For the einkorn to have reached this site there needs to have been contact between mesolithic [the culture between paleolithic and neolithic] Britons and neolithic farmers far across Europe. 

“The land bridges provide a plausible facilitation of this contact. As such, far from being insular, mesolithic Britain was culturally and possibly physically connected to Europe.”

The research shows that scientists can analyse genetic material preserved within the sediments of the landscapes stretching between Britain and Europe in prehistoric times. 

Co-researcher Prof Vincent Gaffney, of the University of Bradford, said the find marked a new chapter in British and European history. 

“It now seems likely that the hunter-gather societies of Britain, far from being isolated were part of extensive social networks that traded or exchanged exotic foodstuffs across much of Europe,” he said.

Tangible link

And Garry Momber of the Maritime Archaeology Trust, which collected the samples from the site, said work in the Solent had opened up an understanding of the UK’s formative years in a way that he never dreamed possible. 

“The material remains left behind by the people that occupied Britain as it was finally becoming an island 8,000 years ago, show that these were sophisticated people with technologies thousands of years more advanced than previously recognised. 

“The DNA evidence corroborates the archaeological evidence and demonstrates a tangible link with the continent that appears to have become severed when Britain became an island.”


By Helen Briggs

Original article:

BBC.com



The ancient Paracas culture of Peru is known for its ornate textiles. This culture has been well documented by archaeologists yet neglected by bioarchaeologists. A team of researchers, including Arizona State University bioarchaeologist Kelly Knudson, is working to correct this deficit.

ASU researcher uses new tools to explore ancient life

Posted: February 12, 2015

textile from the Wari Kayan Necropolis
The ancient Paracas culture of Peru is known for its ornate textiles. This culture has been well documented by archaeologists yet neglected by bioarchaeologists. A team of researchers, including Arizona State University bioarchaeologist Kelly Knudson, is working to correct this deficit.

Mummies excavated nearly a century ago are yielding new information about past lifeways through work conducted in Arizona State University’s Archaeological Chemistry Laboratory.

Using new techniques in bioarchaeology and biogeochemistry, a team of bioarchaeologists and archaeologists have been able to study the diets of 14 individuals dating back almost 2,000 years.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The mummies were unearthed from one of the most famous sites in Peru: the Paracas Necropolis of Wari Kayan, two densely populated collections of burials off the southern coast. The region has a rich archaeological history that includes intricate textiles and enormous geoglyphs, yet it has been relatively overlooked for bioarchaeological research.

With support from the National Science Foundation, ASU associate professor Kelly Knudson and her colleagues are attempting to rectify that.

In addition to Knudson, the team was made up by Ann H. Peters, of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and Elsa Tomasto Cagigao, of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.

The researchers used hair samples – between two and 10 sequential samples for each mummy, in addition to two hair artifacts – to investigate the diets of Paracas’ ancient people. They focused on carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of keratin to determine what these individuals ate in the final stages of their lives.

Diet not only provides insight into health, but can also indicate where people lived and traveled, as well as offer clues about their daily lives by pointing to whether their foods were sourced from farming, fishing, hunting or gathering.

During the last months of their lives, the Paracas individuals appear to have eaten primarily marine products and C4 and C3 plants, such as maize and beans. Also, they were either geographically stable or, if they traveled between the inland highlands and coastal regions, continued to consume marine products.

“What is exciting to me about this research is that we are using new scientific techniques to learn more about mummies that were excavated almost 100 years ago. It is a great application of new science to older museum collections,” says Knudson, who is in ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Knudson, who is affiliated with the school’s Center for Bioarchaeological Research, explained why it is so important to learn about the lived experiences of people who existed long ago.

“By using small samples of hair from these mummies, we can learn what they ate in the months and weeks before they died, which is a very intimate look at the past,” Knudson said.

When first discovered in 1927 by Peruvian archaeologist Julio Tello, each mummy was bound in a seated position; found with burial items, like baskets or weapons; and wrapped in a cone-shaped bundle of textiles, including finely embroidered garments.

Since the sampled individuals were mostly male, Knudson and her colleagues suggest that future research may involve more females and youths. The researchers also plan to further examine artifacts and mortuary evidence to build context for their isotopic data.

More information on the Necropolis of Wari Kayan can be found at the Paracas Archaeology Research site.

By: Rebecca Howe,

Original article:

Asunews.asu




Charred 1500 year old Grape seeds

First of its kind discovery of 1,500 year-old grape seeds may answer the question: Why was the wine of the Negev so renowned in the Byzantine Empire.


For the first time, grape seeds from the Byzantine era have been found. These grapes were used to produce “the Wine of the Negev” — one of the finest and most renowned wines in the whole of the Byzantine Empire. The charred seeds, over 1,500 years-old, were found at the Halutza excavation site in the Negev during a joint dig by the University of Haifa and the Israel Antiquities Authority. “The vines growing in the Negev today are European varieties, whereas the Negev vine was lost to the world. Our next job is to recreate the ancient wine, and perhaps in that way we will be able to reproduce its taste and understand what made the Negev wine so fine,” said Prof. Guy Bar-Oz of the University of Haifa, director of the excavation. 
The archeologists know of “the Wine of the Negev” or “Gaza Wine” — named for the port it was sent from to all corners of the empire — from historical sources from the Byzantine period. This wine was considered to be of very high quality and was very expensive, but unfortunately, it did not survive to our day, so we do not know what it was that made it so fine. In earlier excavations in the Negev, archeologists found the terraces where the vines were cultivated, the wineries where wine was produced, and the jugs in which the wine was stored and exported, but the grape seeds themselves were not found. 
All this, as we said, until the current excavation at the Halutza National Park, which is part of a bio-archaeological study examining the causes of the rise and fall of the Byzantines in the Negev. The study is directed by Prof. Guy Bar-Oz and Dr. Lior Weisbrod of the Zinman Institute at the University of Haifa, in collaboration with Dr. Tali Erickson-Gini from the Israeli Antiquities Authority. 
Like elsewhere in the Negev, the stone buildings at Halutza— which in its heyday was the most important Byzantine city in the Negev — did not survive due to stone theft over the ages. But, as often happens in archaeological excavations, the archeologists actually found their rare finding in the refuse dump. According to Prof. Bar-Oz, the city’s refuse dumps, or middens, were preserved almost completely intact and now mark the boundaries of the ancient city. They are so conspicuous they can be detected on satellite images, such as those of Google Earth. Pottery and coins discovered in the refuse indicated that they accumulated mainly during the sixth to seventh centuries AD, a time when the city was at the peak of its economic success. With the urban collapse of Halutza in the mid-seventh century, for reasons not yet completely known, organized waste disposal was stopped and it appears that both the city itself and the middens surrounding it were abandoned. 

In the ancient piles of refuse, the researchers found a particularly high concentration of fragments of pottery vessels used for storage, cooking and serving, which included a significant number of Gaza jugs used for storing the ancient Negev wine. The archeologists also found a wealth of biological remains, including animal bones: bones of Red Sea fish and shellfish from the Mediterranean that were imported to the site, which  indicated the vast wealth of the Byzantine city residents. 

The highlight, however, were the hundreds of tiny charred grape seeds. According to the archeologists, this is the first time “Negev” grape seeds have been found, something that will provide first-of-its-kind direct evidence of the wine cultivated in the western Negev in ancient times. Exposing the tiny seeds in the piles of refuse was not easy: For the first time strict and fine excavation methods were used during the dig that included fine sifting and flotation of botanical remains, which float after the soil settles. These methods made it possible to extract the botanical finding from the Byzantine material. “After washing the dirt and gently sifting the findings all that remained was to separate the botanical findings, which included seeds, pits and plants remains, from small animal bones, which included the remains of rodents that were drawn to the refuse,” explained Prof. Bar-Oz. 

As mentioned above, the vines from which our ancestors produced the wine famous throughout the Byzantine Empire did not survive and researchers today do not know whether these were imported species from elsewhere — as is the case with the vines cultivated in the Negev today, which are originally French or Italian — or whether these were native varieties that had been lost to the world. The next stage of the study is to join forces with biologists to sequence the DNA of the seeds and in this way to discover their origin. “European varieties require copious amounts of water. Today it is less of a problem thanks to technology, but it is unlikely that that was the case 1,500 years ago. It is more interesting to think of local grape varieties that were better suited to the Negev. Maybe the secret to the Negev wine’s international prestige lay in the method by which the vines were cultivated in the Negev’s arid conditions,” the archeologists are asking. 

This discovery is exciting for local wine growers and for the archeologists, and they all hope to reveal the secret of the Negev vines in order to recreate the ancient wine, and by so doing, to finally understand why it was famous throughout the Byzantine Empire — in Egypt, Greece, Italy, and Spain. 

The Byzantine city of Halutza, or Elusa in Greek, was founded by the Nabataeans but reached its prime during the Byzantine period between the fourth and seventh centuries, AD. The city then grew to become the largest and most important of all the Byzantine cities in the Negev. Archaeological and historical evidence indicate

Note: the above article stopped here with “indicate”, if I find more I will post it; thanks.

Original article:

Israel Antiquities Authority


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