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Pig jaw 

Cardiff University


People transported animals over huge distances for mass gatherings at one of Ireland’s most iconic archaeological sites, research concludes.

Dr Richard Madgwick of Cardiff University led the study, which analysed the bones of 35 animals excavated from Navan Fort, the legendary capital of Ulster. Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, Memorial University Newfoundland and the British Geological Survey were also involved in the research.

The site had long been considered a centre for ritual gatherings, as excavations found a huge 40m diameter building and a barbary ape cranium, likely from at least as far as Iberia. Results suggest the pigs, cattle and sheep were brought from across Ireland, perhaps being reared as far afield as Galway, Donegal, Down, Tyrone and Antrim. Evidence suggests some were brought over more than 100 miles.

Dr Madgwick, based in Cardiff University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, said: “Our results provide clear evidence that communities in Iron Age Ireland were very mobile and that livestock were also moved over greater distances than was previously thought.

“The high proportion of pig remains found there is very rare for this period. This suggests that Navan Fort was a feasting centre, as pigs are well-suited as feasting animals and in early Irish literature pork is the preferred food of the feast.

“It is clear that Navan Fort had a vast catchment and that the influence of the site was far-reaching.”

Researchers used multi-isotope analysis on samples of tooth enamel to unlock the origins of each animal. Food and water have chemical compositions linked to the geographical areas where they are sourced. When animals eat and drink, these chemical signals are archived in their teeth, allowing scientists to investigate the location where they were raised.

Co-author of the research, Dr Finbar McCormick, of Queen’s University, Belfast, said: “In the absence of human remains, multi-isotope analysis of animals found at Navan Fort provides us with the best indication of human movement at that time.

“Feasting, almost invariably associated with sacrifice, was a social necessity of early societies where the slaughter of a large domesticate necessitated the consumption of a large amount of meat in a short period of time.”

Earlier this year, Dr Madgwick’s research of 131 pigs found at sites near Stonehenge revealed animals came from as far away as Scotland and numerous other locations across the British Isles. Before this, the origins of people who visited this area and the extent of the population’s movements at the time had been long-standing enigmas in British prehistory.

Dr Madgwick added: “Transporting animals across the country would have involved a great deal of time and effort so our findings demonstrate the important role they played in society. Food was clearly a central part of people’s exchanges and traditions.”


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On this day ten years ago…

The photo doesn’t seem to be available any longer
via Archaeologists to explore feasting habits of ancient builders of Stonehenge

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Happy New Year everyone!
On this day ten years ago…
via Archaeologists Find Early Known Domestic Horses: Harnessed and Milked

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The amphorae are in excellent condition.
Ionian Aquarium, Kefalonia


By Julia Buckley,


Two thousand years ago, this ship was crossing the Mediterranean Sea full of its cargo of amphorae — large terracotta pots that were used in the Roman Empire for transporting wine and olive oil.

For some reason, it never made it to its destination.

But having languished at the bottom of the sea for around two millennia, it has now been rediscovered by archeologists, along with its cargo, and dated to between 100 BCE and 100 CE. And it has already been judged to be the largest classical shipwreck found in the eastern Mediterranean.

The wreck of the 110-foot (35-meter) ship, along with its cargo of 6,000 amphorae, was discovered at a depth of around 60m (197 feet) during a sonar-equipped survey of the seabed off the coast of Kefalonia — one of the Ionian islands off the west coast of Greece.

The survey was carried out by the Oceanus network of the University of Patras, using artificial intelligence image-processing techniques. The research was funded by the European Union Interreg program.

The site had previously been earmarked by archeologists from the Greek Department of Underwater Archaeology, the Norwegian Institute in Athens, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
It is the fourth largest shipwreck from the period ever found in the entire Mediterranean and is of “significant archaeological importance,” according to George Ferentinos from the University of Patras, who along with nine of his fellow academics has unveiled the discovery in the Journal of Archeological Science.

“The amphorae cargo, visible on the seafloor, is in very good state of preservation and the shipwreck has the potential to yield a wealth of information about the shipping routes, trading, amphorae hull stowage and ship construction during the relevant period,” they wrote.

Most ships of that era were around 50 feet long, compared to this one’s 110 feet.

The boat — a reproduction of which currently sits at the Ionian Aquarium in Kefalonia (main image) — is the fourth Roman wreck to be found in the area. Classical-era shipwrecks are difficult to discern with sonar, as they sit close to the seabed and can often be hidden by natural features. The cargo hold is wedged six feet underground.

It lies about 1.5 miles from the entrance to the harbor of Fiskardo — the island’s only village to not be destroyed in World War II. The archaeologists think that the discovery indicates that Fiskardo was an important stop on Roman trading routes.

The survey, carried out in 2013 and 2014, also picked up three “almost intact” wrecks from World War II in the area.

But it’s the size of the cargo — 98 feet by 39 feet — and the intact amphorae which has excited the archaeologists.

The high resolution sonar images picked up the mass of jugs on the sea floor, filling out the shape of the wooden ship frame.

“Further study of the wreck would shed light on sea-routes, trading, amphorae hull stowage and shipbuilding in the period between 1st century BC and 1st century AD,” the scholars wrote in the journal.

The only remaining problem: what to do with the wreck.

Ferentinos told CNN that retrieving it is a “very difficult and costly job.” Instead, their next step is a cheaper one — “to recover an amphora and using DNA techniques to find whether it was filled with wine, olive oil, nuts, wheat or barley.”

They will then seek an investor to plan a diving park for the wreck.

In the meantime, the Ionian Aquarium museum in Lixouri, Kefalonia’s second largest town, holds other treasures from the waters around the island.

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Source: Where’s the Beef? – Archaeology Magazine

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Pic by Adrian Miller 25-11-19 Guernsey Archive Clifton Antiquarian Club members. A rare Napoleonic era army camp has been discovered during a dig on L’Ancresse Common. Dr Donovan Hawley looking at a button that was found. (26462376)


The pair from the Clifton Antiquarian Club, based in Bristol, had been invited by the Vale Commons Council to the site on L’Ancresse common, which locally had long been thought to be a prehistoric burial mound.

However, upon excavation, the layers of history buried beneath the common proved very modern in comparison to initial assumptions.

‘We estimate the site to be between 1803 and 1812,’ said Mr Waite.

‘A piece of clay pipe was found, which is initialled on both sides. This particular clay pipe could only be manufactured between 1803 and 1815.

‘Radio carbon dating was not totally exact but provided a good indication the site was established in the first decade of the 19th century. Then a third piece of evidence, a decorated button cover which is actually quite intricately detailed and dated again from the early years of the 1800s.’

The Clifton Antiquarian Club deals predominantly with prehistoric discoveries and the unearthing of a site only just over 200 years old came as a surprise to the pair.

‘When the Commons Council invited us to see the mounds we came under the assumption that the long-held local belief the mounds were some form of Bronze Age burial site.

‘Even when we began pulling up finds of no prehistoric origin it still took about a week to re-orientate our thinking to what we were unearthing,’ said Dr Hawley.

The field kitchen sites are a rarity, with Dr Hawley’s research showing that there are just four excavated sites anywhere in the world – there are now four known to be in Guernsey.

One location was determined through the use of allied reconnaissance photography taken during the Second World War which clearly indicates the mound-shaped kitchen.

‘When we begun to excavate first we went through a lot of golf balls, found a mystery lead item which metal detectorist, Shane Le Page, posted on Facebook to find out it was a lead weight from an old wooden golf driver, and we also found a large amount of German 792mm ammunition cartridges which came from Leipzig,’ added Mr Waite.

The early 1800s were a time of heightened tension across the British Isles as an invasion from Napoleon’s forces was a constant threat.

Research found that the field kitchens were all constructed to the standard 12-hearth British Army design.

The dig found a circular ditch around eight metres across and clear signs that those constructing the catering facility had heaped the spoil in the centre which created a metre-high mound.

Around the circle 12 separate hearths would be found, lined with stone and atop the mound the dark sections of peat show where it was removed to first create the ditch.

Each hearth would feed one tent and each tent held 10 soldiers with 12 hearths that is 120 men per kitchen.

Mr Waite said that in the early 19th century there were as many as 3,000 troops garrisoned on the common camping, parading and training in preparation for Napoleonic invasion.

These were not just British troops, but Prussian, Dutch and virtually any faction opposed to Napoleon.

The pieces discovered in the dig are now being processed by Guernsey Museums where they will reside.

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On this day ( one day late)..ten years ago
via French immigrants founded first British farms

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