Newsreel

Sometimes there are amazing discoveries in the field, and it’s worth highlighting several of the cooler or crazier ones. With that in mind, Labyrinth is introducing our Newsreel series, which will collate and comment on a few prominent discoveries or articles in classical or medieval studies in the past week. Today, for our inaugural post, we have the a meeting of modern and ancient soldiers, medieval urban planning, and how archaeologists were led to a find by going fishing. 

We Were Soldiers

The army of the United Kingdom has a program to help soldiers wounded in Afghanistan develop new skills and careers, and some of those soldiers were volunteer archaeologists on a minor dig on Salisbury plain. They turned up the body of an Anglo-Saxon soldier who died approximately 1400 years ago, buried with a number of grave goods, including a wooden drinking cup. Mike Kelly, the soldier who made the discovery was quite moved, saying “I have been to war myself and I can imagine what the soldier would have felt as he went into battle. Knowing that as a modern-day warrior I have unearthed the remains of another fills me with an overwhelming sense of respect.” When their part of the dig is over, eight of the soldiers report that they’ll be heading off to university to study archaeology. Read the full article at the Guardian.

The Roots of Europe

Archaeologists from Aarhus University in Denmark claim to have found the root of the city of Hamburg, the economic center of Europe, in digging at one of the precursors of the town of Schleswig. The viking stronghold is situated in a location where the chieftain could directly monitor and affect urban growth, and the settlement was used for three hundred years, dating back to the eighth century. The team have so far unearthed about thirty houses since they began digging in 2011, out of an estimated two hundred. The claims of the excavation leader about the significance of the settlement may be bold, but it’s clear that he and his team have an excellent understanding of the core values of archaeology and whatever they turn up will be incredible. Find out more in the video below, or read the full article on Wired.com.

Go Fish

Police Commander pulls up a large artifact from a Roman wreck near Varazze.
We’re gonna need a bigger boat.

It’s apparently not uncommon for ancient artefacts to turn up in the nets of Italian fishermen, but near the town of Varazze, the flotsam and jetsam of another age have led to an incredible discovery. Using a small submarine and sophisticated mapping equipment, Lieutenant-Colonel Francesco Schilardi, a police commander who heads a diving squad in Genoa, has unearthed a Roman shipwreck dating back 2000 years. The vessel, buried in the mud beneath a hundred metres of seawater, holds approximately two hundred clay amphorae, many of which have intact seals. It’s up to the Italian authorities on how they pursue this, but for now they’ve roped off the area to protect the find. This could prove to be an excellent look into the trade and even diet of ancient Rome, all because an enterprising police commander decided to “Go fish”. Read the full article at the Sydney Morning Herald.

And that’s the newsreel for this week, bringing you all kinds of awesome discoveries from classics, medieval studies, and field archaeology. Have a good weekend!

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