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Bronze Age Discoveries & Findings

Finding out about what was on the Bronze age menu.

Archaeologists have long been drawing conclusions about how ancient tools were used by the people who crafted them based on written records and context clues. But with dietary practices, they have had to make assumptions about what was eaten and how it was prepared.

A new study published in the journal iScience on August 18 analyzed protein residues from ancient cooking cauldrons and found that the people of Caucasus ate deer, sheep, goats, and members of the cow family during the Maykop period (3700–2900 BCE).

"It's really exciting to get an idea of what people were making in these cauldrons so long ago," says Shevan Wilkin of the University of Zurich. "This is the first evidence we have of preserved proteins of a feast—it's a big cauldron. They were obviously making large meals, not just for individual families."

Scientists have known that the fats preserved in ancient pottery and the proteins from dental calculus—the hard mineralized plaque deposits on the teeth—contain traces of the proteins ancient people consumed during their lives.

Now, this study combines protein analysis with archaeology to explore specific details about the meals cooked in these particular vessels. Many metal alloys have antimicrobial properties, which is why the proteins have been preserved so well on the cauldrons. The microbes in dirt that would normally degrade proteins on surfaces such as ceramic and stone are held at bay on metal alloys.

"We have already established that people at the time most likely drank a soupy beer, but we did not know what was included on the main menu," says Viktor Trifonov of the Institute for the History of Material Culture.

The researchers collected eight residue samples from seven cauldrons that were recovered from burial sites in the Caucasus region. This region sits between the Caspian and Black Seas spanning from Southwestern Russia to Turkey and includes the present-day countries Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.

They successfully retrieved proteins from blood, muscle tissue, and milk. One of these proteins, heat shock protein beta-1, indicates that the cauldrons were used to cook deer or bovine (cows, yaks, or water buffalo) tissues. Milk proteins from either sheep or goats were also recovered, indicating that the cauldrons were used to prepare dairy.

Radiocarbon dating allowed the researchers to specifically pinpoint that the cauldrons could have been used between 3520–3350 BCE. This means that these vessels are more than 3,000 years older than any vessels that have been analyzed before. "It was a tiny sample of soot from the surface of the cauldron," says Trifonov. "Maykop bronze cauldrons of the fourth millennium BC are a rare and expensive item, a hereditary symbol belonging to the social elite."


An intact Bronze Age pot and a previously unknown Saxon village with a large hall were among the "exceptional" finds unearthed during a dig.
Britannia Archaeology experts have been working on the site near Ely, Cambridgeshire, for nearly a year.
They expected just a few months' work, but instead found evidence of thousands of years of occupation.
I m beginning to think Cambridge is the hottest spot in the country archaeology-wise, at the moment. Fantastic!
Archaeologists at sixes and sevens over new find.

Archaeologists in Kazakhstan have discovered a hexagonal pyramid that served as a burial site in the Bronze Age.

An aerial view of the hexagonal-shaped pyramid in Kazakhstan. Notice how the inner stone walls form a maze-like path that leads toward the burial site at its center.

An aerial view of the hexagonal-shaped pyramid in Kazakhstan. Notice how the inner stone walls form a maze-like path that leads toward the burial site at its center. (Image credit: Ulan Umitkaliyev)

Archaeologists in Kazakhstan have discovered a 3,800-year-old hexagon-shaped structure that they describe as a "pyramid." The maze-like structure is not as tall as Egypt's monuments, but currently stands about 10 feet (3 meters) high and likely served as an elite burial site.

The discovery is not like anything "found before in the Eurasian steppe," according to a statement from Eurasian National University in Kazakhstan.

"This pyramid on the territory of Eastern Kazakhstan was found this year," Ulan Umitkaliyev, the head of Eurasian National University's archaeology and ethnology department who is leading excavations at the site, told Live Science in an email. "It is hexagonal in shape, with megaliths weighing up to 1 ton [0.9 metric tons] placed in each corner."

While archaeologists use the term "pyramid" or "step pyramid" to describe it, the Bronze Age monument is unlike the pyramids found in Egypt. Its outer stone walls form a hexagon, the structure's inner walls look like a maze that leads to a grave at its heart. Parts of it were once covered by an earthen mound, Umitkaliyev added. It's not clear if there was ever a roof over part of the structure or whether it was entirely open air.

The people who lived in this region at the time built many graves and stone monuments and engaged in metal working and making jewelry. Their economy may have been partly pastoral — herding large numbers of animals across the Eurasian steppes.

Sure, and it's why there's more over all granite work done by the relatively short Roman empire compared to the Ancient Egyptians.
Better detailed work too, if we're honest.
But if there is one thing the ancients had it was time.

No, it was the bronze age. Ships like the
Uluburun shipwrecks how there was a widespread and active trade for the tin and copper needed. And fragments of the tools have been found at Giza.
But if you know what you're doing you can cut granite with flint.

Some queries about the origins of the tin used.

Archaeometallurgists have been debating the exact origin of tin used in the Bronze Age for 150 years. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, and in the Bronze Age it was used to make a range of goods including swords, helmets, bracelets, plates and pitchers.

Discovering which mines the tin came from could provide far-reaching insights into early trade relations between Central Asia, Mesopotamia, North Africa, the Levant and Europe, and thus into an early globalization that changed the world.

The key to solving this puzzle may be the cargo of a merchant ship that sank around 1320 BCE off what is now the west coast of Turkey near Uluburun. The wreck was discovered by divers in 1982 and its cargo recovered by underwater archaeologists. In addition to luxury goods, it contained 10 tons of copper ingots and one ton of tin ingots—much more than had ever been found before from the Bronze Age.

"Even 40 years after the Uluburun discovery, the tin puzzle remains, although we are getting closer to solving it by applying new methods," says Ernst Pernicka, senior professor at the University of Tübingen and scientific director of the Curt Engelhorn Center for Archaeometry (CEZA) at the Reiss-Engelhorn Museum in Mannheim.

In a recently published study in the journal Frontiers in Earth Science, CEZA researcher Dr. Daniel Berger and his co-authors including Pernicka contradict a research team led by Professor Wayne Powell of Brooklyn College in New York, who claimed in the journal Science Advances in November 2022 that they could clearly determine the origin of the tin from the Uluburun shipwreck.

Powell's team said most of the tin came from the Mushiston tin deposit in northwestern Tajikistan, as well as from two mines in the Taurus Mountains near the present-day Turkish-Syrian border. For their analysis, the team took samples of 105 tin ingots from the wreck, determining chemical and isotopic signatures of 90% of the tin cargo. In particular, they measured the isotope ratios of tin and lead, which, like the chemical composition, provide clues to the origin of the tin.

Also, the proportion of the trace element tellurium points to tin deposits in Central Asia. The Powell team claims to be able to infer a clear attribution based on the matching signatures between the ingots from Uluburun and tin ore samples from the abovementioned mines.

Berger and his fellow authors refute this, saying, "The data does not support this interpretation; it does not allow a clear conclusion." For the current study, Berger extensively checked chemical and iso-topic analyses also from previous studies and cross-checked them with Powell's data set. ...


Deadly weapon hidden in ice for 3,000 years is revealed in rare find for scientists

Scientists studying melting ice in Norway have uncovered a deadly weapon last fired by a warrior 3,000 years ago.

The arrow is thought to date to around 1,600BC and would have been fired by a hunter in the Bronze Age.


It’s thought the weapon, which has a sharpened head made from a freshwater shell, would have been used to hunt reindeer but this one missed its mark and became encased in ice.

Lars Holger Pilø, PhD, is part of a team studying the archaeology from retreating glaciers in Norway. The arrow was found in the country’s Jotunheimen Mountains.


maximus otter

Deadly weapon hidden in ice for 3,000 years is revealed in rare find for scientists

Scientists studying melting ice in Norway have uncovered a deadly weapon last fired by a warrior 3,000 years ago.

The arrow is thought to date to around 1,600BC and would have been fired by a hunter in the Bronze Age.


It’s thought the weapon, which has a sharpened head made from a freshwater shell, would have been used to hunt reindeer but this one missed its mark and became encased in ice.

Lars Holger Pilø, PhD, is part of a team studying the archaeology from retreating glaciers in Norway. The arrow was found in the country’s Jotunheimen Mountains.


maximus otter
May prove to be the same area & type of construction as the mussel shell arrow?
How a Bronze Age rock became a 'treasure map' for researchers

A piece of rock with mysterious markings that lay largely unstudied for 4,000 years is now being hailed as a "treasure map" for archaeologists, who are using it to hunt for ancient sites around north-western France.

The so-called Saint-Belec slab was claimed as Europe's oldest map by researchers in 2021 and they have been working ever since to understand its etchings -- both to help them date the slab, and to rediscover lost monuments.


The ancient map marks an area roughly 30 by 21 kilometres and Pailler's colleague, Clement Nicolas from the CNRS research institute, said they would need to survey the entire territory and cross reference the markings on the slab.

That job could take 15 years, he said.

In the coarse bumps and lines of the slab, they could see the rivers and mountains of Roudouallec, part of the Brittany region about 500 kilometres west of Paris.

The researchers scanned the slab and compared it with current maps, finding a roughly 80 percent match.

"We still have to identify all the geometric symbols, the legend that goes with them," said Nicolas.

The slab is pocked with tiny hollows, which researchers believe could point to burial mounds, dwellings or geological deposits.

Discovering their meaning could lead to a whole flood of new finds.


maximus otter
City of sacrifices.

The walled city likely served as a political and cultural hub in Bronze Age China.

A pit filled with horse skeletons

One of the six sacrificial horse pits unearthed at Yaoheyuan in northwestern China. (Image credit: Kai Bai; Antiquity Publications Ltd.)

Archaeologists in China have discovered the remains of a walled Bronze Age city that once contained a palace, moat, cemeteries, sacrificial pits, pottery workshops and a bronze-casting foundry.

The ancient city, known as Yaoheyuan, was situated in the foothills of the Liupan Mountains in northwestern China. It was once a political and cultural powerhouse that was prominent during the Western Zhou Period, a historical time in Chinese history that stretched from 1045 B.C. to 771 B.C. during the Zhou dynasty, according to a study published Aug. 3 in the journal Antiquity.

Although there are other Bronze Age sites dotting this part of the country, archaeologists consider Yaoheyuan the likely regional hub at this time based on the breadth and variety of structures unearthed during excavations.

Human and animal sacrifices were common practice at Yaoheyuan, evidenced by the abundance of tombs containing the remains of disarticulated human bones, horses, oxen, goats, sheep, chicken, dogs and rabbits buried alongside humans. Researchers discovered six sacrificial pits containing horses stacked in layers, with some of the skeletons broken into segments, indicating that the animals were likely dismembered before being thrown in. All told, archaeologists found the skeletons of 120 horses, including several foals.

A piece of bone containing inscriptions

An inscribed oracle bone containing ideograms similar to Chinese characters. (Image credit: Bowen An)

"The sacrificial burial and consumption of horses point not only to the wealth and status of the Yaoheyuan polity but also the availability of horses in this region," the authors wrote in the study. "Horses were one of the most important resources in northwest China during the Western Zhou period."

Archaeologists also discovered the first known bronze-casting site of the Western Zhou period, replete with sludge tanks, or leftover heaps of a clay mixture once used to make molds, kilns and building foundations.

Bronze items found in a field outside Cardiff shed light on life 3,000 years ago

A late-Bronze age hoard is among a collection of valuable, historic items which are set to be acquired by Amgueddfa Cymru/Museums Wales and Cowbridge Museum after recently being formally declared as "treasure" by the coroner for South Wales Central. Three items were discovered by Dr Peter Anning, formerly of Cardiff University, whilst metal-detecting.


The hoard, which dates back to between 1000 and 800 BC and was likely deliberately buried within a pit in the ground, was discovered by Dr Peter Anning and Alex Evans whilst agricultural work was being undertaken in a field in St Fagans, Cardiff back in February, 2021.


maximus otter
Groundbreaking research finds that forts were part of a network.

Archaeologists from University College Dublin, working with colleagues from Serbia and Slovenia, have uncovered a previously unknown network of massive sites in the heart of Europe that could explain the emergence of the continent's Bronze Age megaforts—the largest prehistoric constructions seen prior to the Iron Age.

Using satellite images and aerial photography to stitch together the prehistoric landscape of the south Carpathian Basin in Central Europe, the team discovered more than 100 sites belonging to a complex society.

Their commonplace use of defensible enclosures was a precursor and likely influence behind the famous hillforts of Europe, built to protect communities later in the Bronze Age.

"Some of the largest sites, we call these mega-forts, have been known for a few years now, such as Gradište Iđoš, Csanádpalota, Sântana or the mind-blowing Corneşti Iarcuri enclosed by 33km of ditches and eclipsing in size the contemporary citadels and fortifications of the Hittites, Mycenaeans or Egyptians," said lead author Associate Professor Barry Molloy, UCD School of Archaeology.

"What is new, however, is finding that these massive sites did not stand alone, they were part of a dense network of closely related and codependent communities. At their peak, the people living within this lower Pannonian network of sites must have numbered into the tens of thousands."

The Carpathian Basin extends across parts of central and southeast Europe, with the vast Pannonian Plain lying at its center, with the River Danube cutting through it.

I'm not saying aliens did it but ...

A dazzling Bronze Age hoard discovered in Spain more than 60 years ago contains some out-of-this-world metal, as a new analysis reveals that parts of the treasures were made from meteoric iron.

The hoard, known as the Treasure of Villena and discovered by archaeologists in 1963, encompasses a total of 59 bottles, bowls and pieces of jewelry exquisitely crafted from gold, silver, amber and iron.

Upon the hoard's discovery, in a gravel pit in the province of Alicante, however, researchers noticed a few curious details about some of the iron pieces. At the time, they described the items as being crafted of "a dark leaden metal. It is shiny in some areas, and covered with a ferrous-looking oxide that is mostly cracked," according to El País, a newspaper in Spain. ...

Well preserved bones and weapons.

Archaeologists in Italy have unearthed a Copper Age necropolis that contains nearly two dozen tombs and a collection of weapons.

The discovery was made in November at San Giorgio Bigarello, a municipality in northern Italy, during the construction of a community garden. However, researchers had no idea how extensive the 5,000-year-old burial site was until excavations earlier this year revealed 22 tombs containing human remains. Many of the burials included flint weapons, including daggers, "perfect arrowheads" and blades, according to a translated article in ArchaeoReporter, an archaeology-focused newspaper based in Italy.

"Some of the tombs also had burial goods like necklaces made with soapstone beads," Simone Sestito, the archaeological officer at the Italian Ministry of Culture, told Live Science. "We found at least six or seven tombs with good preservation."

The cemetery's location on a sandy hill helped to preserve many of the skeletons because of the dry sand.

"The conditions were great for a necropolis, since the sand provided conservation of the bones," Sestito said. "The [preservation] was impressive, especially since the tombs were located only about 10 centimeters [4 inches] below the surface." ...

How dare that professor assume that only women wore lipstick in those days.

The world's oldest known lipstick was worn up to 5,000 years ago in what is now southern Iran, says a new study.

The deep red lip-paint, contained in a stone vial, was found at an ancient graveyard site in 2001, but it took researchers until now to identify it. Unlike modern lipsticks, it was probably applied with a brush, say the international team of scientists. The discovery sheds new light on "public images of female allure" in the fast-changing Bronze Age, they add.

One of the researchers who analysed it, archaeology professor Massimo Vidale at the University of Padua in Italy, told BBC News he liked to imagine it being worn by the women of "the elite societies of 5,000 years ago".

The vial containing the cosmetic paste was unearthed at a third millennium BC graveyard near the Halil River in Kerman Province, in south-eastern Iran. It was one of numerous artefacts that surfaced after flooding and fell into the hands of looters before being recovered by the Iranian authorities.

Want to go back to nature? Then you must visit Must Farm to learn how to season porridge and game. @Kondoru Have you been there?

The remnants of an ancient village known as "Britain's Pompeii" are offering archaeologists new insight into the Bronze Age inhabitants who lived there, including how they seasoned their porridge and wild game.

Archaeologists discovered the settlement, known as Must Farm, during the 2015-2016 field season in the Fenlands, a swath of marshland in eastern England. The settlement, which dates to around 850 B.C., includes the remains of "four large wooden round houses and a square entranceway structure," all built on stilts. Excavations also revealed dozens of artifacts as well as human remains.

The site was largely destroyed in a fire that engulfed the village roughly 3,000 years ago and was completely abandoned by humans. However, similar to Italy's famous Pompeii, it was partially preserved by the environment, according to a statement from the University of Cambridge.

In the years since the site's discovery, researchers have studied Must Farm extensively, which has given them a better understanding of its unique architecture and the people who lived there, according to two new reports published March 5.

For instance, the unique roundhouses built on stilts provided researchers with a "blueprint" of circular architecture from that time and place, as well as clues about what Bronze Age domestic life would've been like, according to the statement.

"These people were confident and accomplished homebuilders," report co-author Mark Knight, an excavation director in the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU), said in the statement. "They had a design that worked beautifully for an increasingly drowned landscape." ...