Bronze Age Discoveries

Kingsize Wombat

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Mikefule

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Interesting reading. Food half prepared, implying that the attack was not anticipated. A savage attack apparently intended to wipe out families, so not simply a military conquest. Many (most) victors would rape the women and take slaves. Interesting that they left behind various items of jewellery. What we don't know, of course, is what they took. It is entirely possible that there were survivors who were taken as slaves, and more valuable jewellery that was seized. The fact that no one returned to bury the bodies is disturbing. Perhaps the most likely explanation is that there was no one left who cared: everyone killed, taken as captives, or chased away by an advancing enemy.
 
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Mungoman

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Ancient people put a lot of faith in the idea that possesions take on the 'spirit' of the person, which might account for the lack of plundering - but, it doesn't account for the actual massacre. An odd one.
 
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Bronze age vets.

Three thousand years ago, a horse in Mongolia had a toothache that was probably making it—and its owner—miserable. So the owner tried to help, by attempting to saw the painful top off the offending incisor. The procedure is among the earliest evidence of veterinary dentistry in the world, according to a new study, and the practices that flowed from it may have helped horses transform human civilization.

“It’s a great study,” says Robin Bendrey, an archaeologist and ancient horse expert at the University of Edinburgh who was not involved in the work. As horses became more important, he says, nomadic herders “are investing greater effort in understanding how to care for them.”

William Taylor, an archaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, first came across the strange sawn tooth in the collections of the National Museum of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar. “I could not for the life of me muster an explanation,” he says.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018...ly_2018-07-02&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=2152587
 

Mikefule

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Ancient people put a lot of faith in the idea that possesions take on the 'spirit' of the person, which might account for the lack of plundering - but, it doesn't account for the actual massacre. An odd one.
Massacres are easy to explain. Mankind is tribal and violent. Look at recent history in several parts of the world. Massacres arise from fear and hatred of "otherness' and a self righteous feeling of superiority, reinforced by the confidence that it will go unpunished.

As for the "lack of plundering": we only know what was left; we cannot know what greater wealth was taken.
 

Mungoman

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I like explanations Mike - There would have been logic behind the massacre (insane logic or otherwise) and why those blue beads weren't casually pocketed remains a mystery.

There are inconsistencies here which pique curiosities.
 

Mikefule

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I like explanations Mike - There would have been logic behind the massacre (insane logic or otherwise) and why those blue beads weren't casually pocketed remains a mystery.

There are inconsistencies here which pique curiosities.
It's a basic epistemological problem: we can never know because certain types of evidence cannot possibly become available — just as we can learn a lot about Otzi the Iceman's diet and state of health but we can never possibly know what name he was known by in life, or the words of his favourite song.

There are always explanations within explanations, and things that simply can never be known. The Great War was triggered by the assassination of the Archduke, but it was not caused by it. The Mai Lai massacre happened within the context of a war that can be explained by reference to historical events, persons and tensions, but it was not directly caused by that war. It was caused by the people involved.

In the same way, the particular massacre under discussion may have occurred against a background of any of the usual causes: greed, competition for resources and territory, revenge, personal or tribal hatred, etc. Whatever the background, we cannot possibly know the trigger: whether an ancient leader called Dave led the attack to avenge the rape of his daughter, or the attack was the culmination of a long running territorial dispute.

Even if we could establish by archaeological means that there were particular tensions at that general time (such as climatic change and diminishing resources) we could only speculate about the cause of that particular attack.

Once the attack happened, the vicious slaughter is sadly all too easily explained. It's what groups of people do when they get the opportunity, whether it is members of one African tribe hacking a church congregation to death with machetes; or a crusader king putting the entire population of a city to the sword; or a 20th century industrial nation using death camps and gas chambers to eliminate minority groups. If you have a feared and hated enemy, once the killing starts, it can become like the fox in the henhouse, killing all the chickens when it only needs to eat one.

Why were the victims not buried? Different peoples have different attitudes, beliefs and values. A group that had savagely slaughtered an enemy would be unlikely to show the respect of disposing of the corpses nicely. If all the inhabitants of the defeated village were killed, captured or driven away, there would be no one to bury them. It's that simple.

As for the stuff that was left: I handled insurance claims for 35 years and every day I heard a bewildered burglary victim saying, "I can't understand why they didn't take my..." Point is, the bad guys took what they wanted or could carry, and had neither the time not inclination to do a thorough sweep to make sure they'd missed nothing. We see what's left and wonder why, but we can never know what was actually taken.
 

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Ancient burial site and monument found in New Forest

Archaeologists have discovered a 3,000-year-old burial site during a dig on farmland in the New Forest.

They set out to excavate what they thought was a Bronze Age barrow at East End near Beaulieu and found four cremation burial urns.

When the team and volunteers continued to dig deeper they also found two flint tools from about 5,000 years ago.

They said the finds suggested it had been a Neolithic monument that was re-used as a Bronze Age memorial site.

James Brown, New Forest National Park Authority community archaeologist, said: "We were elated to find the urns - they were inverted in what we originally thought was the ditch around the barrow and one has a decorative band pattern on it that will help us to date them.

"These urns were domestic pots and contain cremated human bone placed into small pits.

"But we didn't find any evidence of the barrow's mound or any burial activity in the middle as you might expect."
(C) BBC'18

Not exactly Bronze age, but didn't know where else to put it.
:oops:
 

AlchoPwn

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Not exactly Bronze age, but didn't know where else to put it. :oops:
Don't worry, you did quite well. Technically, the transitional "Copper Age" (or more formally the "Chalcolithic Age") which falls between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age is generally subsumed into the Bronze Age, and even referred to as the Early Bronze Age.
 
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Mongolians have used horses for millenia.

Thousands of years before Genghis Khan and his descendants conquered vast stretches of Eurasia, the pastoral people of Mongolia lived healthy, but violent, lifestyles, new research reveals.

Although some Mongolians remain nomadic in modern days, researchers didn’t know how far back this tradition stretched. Any early nomadic pastoralists would have been healthier than sedentary people, who, especially before the advent of trash pickup and sewage infrastructure, lived more densely and among their own waste.

To find out whether this was true in the late Bronze Age, archaeologists analyzed the remains of 25 individuals excavated from burial mounds in the region dating mostly to about 3500 to 2700 years ago. The bones bore very little evidence of inflammatory lesions indicative of infectious disease, or signs of rickets, scurvy, or other diseases resulting from malnutrition.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/201...ly_2019-01-08&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=2589397
 

Kingsize Wombat

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Ancient Bronze-Age Prosthetic Hand Discovered In Switzerland

The 3,500-year-old bronze and gold foil hand has baffled archaeologists

Originally uncovered in 2017 near Lake Biel in Bern, Switzerland by treasure hunters using metal detectors, the bronze-cast hand was brought to the Bern Archaeological Service for review along with a bronze dagger and rib bone also uncovered at the site of the metal hand.

The one-pound bronze limb features a gold foil cuff around the wrist and an attachment within that reportedly would have allowed the cast to be mounted. Radiocarbon dating was done on the glue attaching the foil to the wrist, placing the artifact from around 1,400 and 1,500 B.C. or the middle Bronze Age.

“We had never seen anything like it,” said Andrea Schaer, head of the Ancient History and Roman Archeology Department at the Bern Archaeological Service of the 3,500-year-old hand. “We weren’t sure if it was authentic or not – or even what it was.”

“It may have been this man’s insignia,” Schaer continued, “and when he died it was buried with him.” She posited that the hand could have been a replacement for one he lost while alive, though the prosthetic appeared too delicate to have been for practical use. 000.jpg
https://allthatsinteresting.com/bronze-age-prosthetic
 

EnolaGaia

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This National Geographic version of the story:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2018/09/bronze-hand-ancient-switzerland-archaeology/

... doesn't focus on the idea the hand was a prosthetic device and suggests it may have been attached to a pole or rod as a sort of scepter.

This article also notes the grave from which it apparently came has been excavated, and the remains of a middle-aged man were found.

Somewhat curiously, the article fails to mention whether the remains included both hands.

Edit to Add:

For possible future reference ... Other articles note this artifact now has a name - the "hand of Prêles".
 
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GNC

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Plus it makes it harder to link to Game of Thrones - always a disappointment for journalists reporting on archaeology.
 

Bad Bungle

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Mikefule

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I knew nothing about this battle - simply extraordinary. 1250 BC, at least 50 years before Hector and Achilles were slugging it out with Bronze swords and polished greaves at Troy.

View attachment 16458
I have no connection with his channel, but there's a You Tuber called "Lindybeige" who does fascinating and charismatically presented short talks on a range of subjects including bronze age and mediaeval military history. Here's a link to his piece on the Tollense battle. He has done other videos of a similar nature about ancient battles. Recommended,

 

AlchoPwn

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I have no connection with his channel, but there's a You Tuber called "Lindybeige" who does fascinating and charismatically presented short talks on a range of subjects including bronze age and mediaeval military history.
Yeah, I sub Lindybeige too. He mainly knows his stuff (except about meteorology).

Incidentally, a good flint head is a LOT sharper than any bronze or iron tool. Well knapped flint gets to a 1 micron edge.
 

Bad Bungle

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Incidentally, a good flint head is a LOT sharper than any bronze or iron tool. Well knapped flint gets to a 1 micron edge.
In the intro of my copy of the Iliad, it was suggested that the fight scenes described by Homer (8th Century BC) would not have been possible by warriors 500 years earlier. The bronze swords, sharp or not, would have shattered if wielded like the iron swords of Homer's Era. Of course the Bronze Age soldiers would have adopted a suitable fighting style, but a flint weapon in skilled hands would still have been lethal.
 

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In the intro of my copy of the Iliad, it was suggested that the fight scenes described by Homer (8th Century BC) would not have been possible by warriors 500 years earlier. The bronze swords, sharp or not, would have shattered if wielded like the iron swords of Homer's Era. Of course the Bronze Age soldiers would have adopted a suitable fighting style, but a flint weapon in skilled hands would still have been lethal.
Cast bronze, yes. Forged bronze would fare better.
 

AlchoPwn

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In the intro of my copy of the Iliad, it was suggested that the fight scenes described by Homer (8th Century BC) would not have been possible by warriors 500 years earlier. The bronze swords, sharp or not, would have shattered if wielded like the iron swords of Homer's Era. Of course the Bronze Age soldiers would have adopted a suitable fighting style, but a flint weapon in skilled hands would still have been lethal.
Generally warriors in all ages would rely on their shields for receiving blows and try to preserve their weapons' edge at all costs. As you are interested, I would point out that many bronze weapons of antiquity were actually phosphor bronze LINK which has material qualities superior to wrought iron and is comparable with early steels by any metric. As to flint, I suspect that flint was still widely used on bronze age battlefields for arrowheads, as a well made flint head is superior to bronze in most ways, except perhaps durability (which isn't so important for semi-disposable weapons like arrows).
 
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Might be a case of war between Amphora and Corded Ware cultures.

The 15 men, women, and children discovered in a 5000-year-old mass grave near the southern Polish village of Koszyce must have suffered brutal deaths: Each was killed by blows to the head. Yet the tidy, systematic nature of their burial suggests they were laid to rest with care. Now, new genetic analyses reveal the dead all belonged to a single extended family, offering an intimate glimpse of a Bronze Age tragedy.

To discover their identities, a team of geneticists sequenced the genomes of all 15 skeletons. Once it was clear the individuals were closely related, scientists looked at their burial positions. They found that mothers were buried next to their children, and siblings were placed next to one another. Fathers and other older male relatives were conspicuously missing from the group, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ...

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/201...ly_2019-05-06&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=2802919
 
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See http://forum.forteantimes.com/index.php?threads/bronze-age-discoveries.40792/page-5#post-1567818
(this thread, p. 5) for previous article on this site:

UK's best bronze age site dig ends but analysis will continue for years
Houses full of linen, pottery and weapons, preserved in silt over 3,000 years, are worthy of own museum, say archaeologists
Maev Kennedy
Thursday 14 July 2016 07.00 BST

One winter some 3,000 years ago, a development of highly desirable houses was built on stilts over a tributary of the river Nene in Cambridgeshire, by people whose wealth and lifestyle would still have seemed enviable to medieval peasants. Then six months later it was all over.

Disaster overwhelmed the people and they fled, leaving their clothing and jewellery, tools and furniture, their last meals abandoned in the cooking pots as they tumbled through the burning wicker floors into the water below. Nobody ever came back to retrieve the tonnes of expertly carpentered timbers and the masses of valuable possessions lying in shallow water, which over the centuries all sank together, hidden and preserved by the oozy silt.

An extraordinary archaeological excavation at Must farm, in a working brick clay quarry in the shadow of a chip factory on the outskirts of Peterborough, which has peeled back the millennia on the best bronze age site ever found in Britain, will end in 10 days time. Years of work remain to be done on the thousands of objects astonishingly preserved in the mud.

“Elsewhere we only have the ghosts of what was going on – here we have the whole body,” said Graham Appleby, who is working on the most metal objects ever found on a domestic site of the period, including a spear head so pristine it has been mistaken even by experts for a replica.

Work analysing the finds will continue for years. “We have only found out half of what this site has to tell us,” said the site’s director, Mark Knight, from Cambridge University’s archaeology unit. “On other bronze age sites you’d have a row of post holes and you’d be delighted to find one pot shard. Here we have looked through the window and then walked into the middle of their lives.”

Discoveries are still being made daily. On Monday Susanna Harris, an ancient textiles expert from Glasgow university, studied an unprepossessing bundle of blackened fibres and found a reel of thread spun from plant fibre, finer than a human hair.

Appleby’s moment of disbelief came when Knight rang him to say they’d found a complete spear. “Yeah mate, we’ve got loads of those,” he replied ungenerously. No, Knight insisted, the whole spear. “You’ve got the stick bit too?” Appleby asked, abandoning scientific terms in his amazement. He only knows of one other ever found – but three days later Knight rang again to say they had another one.

Other unique finds include the largest, best-preserved bronze age oak wheel ever found, woven linen finer than the lightest of today’s fabrics, an old sword cut down into a useful kitchen knife, glass and amber beads imported from the continent and the Middle East, and the five round huts themselves, from the wicker floors to the clay chimneys – not just crude smoke holes – in the thatched roofs, still lying where they collapsed 3,000 years ago.

The unprecedented richness of the finds has revealed how the people lived, what they wore, what they ate, the butchered lamb carcasses they cured hanging from their rafters, the remains of a slaughtered red deer still sprawled on a patch of gravel. They farmed animals and cereal crops, including ancient strains of wheat and barley, and though they chose to live over the water, they had such lavish food sources that they virtually ignored the fish swimming just below their wicker floors.

Complete sets of pottery from egg cup to storage jar were found in each house, and all seem to have been made by the same potter. “It was almost like a John Lewis wedding list for each house,” Knight said.

One of the greatest mysteries remains tantalisingly unsolved: was the fire a kitchen disaster among the densely built thatched houses; deliberate destruction and abandonment by the residents; or an attack by enemies who perhaps envied their wealth? No casualties were found: the scraps of human bone, and a single skull, may have been older than the houses.

The scorched timbers and charred thatch are still being studied by a fire investigations expert, Karl Harrison, but his first impressions are that it looks less like an accident started inside a house, and more like a fire deliberately set from outside.

The site is regarded as one of the most important discoveries from the period in Europe, an insight into the unguessed at material wealth of some, perhaps most, in bronze age Britain. When the scale of the finds was revealed at a recent international conference, “jaws were dropping,” Knight said. The excavation won the “discovery of the year” title in this week’s British archaeological awards, voted for by other archaeologists.

The other unresolved question is what happens to the thousands of finds and the remains of the houses when the experts have finished their work. Historic England, which commissioned the excavation, which was also part funded by the quarry firm Forterra, found extra money when the dig planned to end in spring had to be extended twice as objects continued to pour out of the mud.

The team has welcomed archaeologists from all over the world, but public access to a site yards from the giant crater of the working quarry – which probably swallowed the other half of the settlement – is regarded as impossible, and the excavation will be reburied to preserve any underlying archaeology. However all of the timbers, flooring and roof materials of the best preserved house have been saved for conservation treatment and possible reconstruction.

Historic England’s chief executive, Duncan Wilson, said cautiously that discussions are ongoing with all the stake holders, including the local authority, and that there will probably be a Heritage Lottery Fund bid.

Mark Knight, asked whether Must farm and the window it opened on a lost ancient world lying just two metres below our own is special enough to deserve its own museum, said without a moment’s hesitation, “Yes”.

https://www.theguardian.com/science...ite-must-farm-dig-ends-analyis-continue-years
More at Must. Dodgy Sushi Shop?

The earliest evidence of fish tapeworm in Britain has been discovered preserved in human faeces, according to experts at Cambridge University.

The finds were unearthed at a site dubbed "Britain's Pompeii", a burnt-out 3,000-year-old village at Must Farm in Cambridgeshire.

Fish tapeworm can grow up to 10m (32ft) long and live coiled in the intestines.

The university said the research offered the first clear understanding of prehistoric Fen people's diseases.

Cambridge University's Dr Marissa Ledger said it also appeared they shared food with their dogs, because both were infected by similar parasitic worms from eating the raw fish, amphibians and molluscs.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-49347124#
 
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