Rantin' and Rovin'

Archaeology News 9 – 14 March 2014

Rather than post each news story on its own and flooding your inboxes and social media, I’m going to try summarising the major archaeology stories for the week and posting them generally on Saturday sometime.  So here we go!

A fair amount happened this week in archaeological news.  I mean a LOT.

1. Jarlshof

Easily the best thing to happen for Viking specialists this week was the online publication of aerial photography AND digital animation from Jarlshof, one of the largest and longest occupied prehistoric sites in Scotland.  Better yet, the publication included an animation/visualisation of the chronology of Jarlshof, which gives a wonderful understanding of the phases of the site.

2. Medieval Latrine Barrels in Odense, Denmark

Yes, by latrine barrels, we mean barrels filled with human waste and yes, these barrels still had human waste in them.  14th century human waste.  While that sounds really not fun to excavate, the amount of information we can get from those barrels is enormous – waste provides evidence of what these people ate.  Since we also have the barrels, we might be able to tell who made them, where they came from, and if they were used for something else before becoming latrine barrels.  Cool stuff, if a bit gross!

3. Royal Anglo-Saxon Village

A team in Suffolk, England believe they have found the royal settlement of East Anglian kings in the village of Rendelsham.  These kings may have included King Raedwald, whose magnificent burial at Sutton Hoo has become a major piece of British archaeology.

4. Lasers Uncover Secrets in Roman Roads

Remember my post about 3D modeling?  Well, I forgot to mention this (I was too excited about the technology), but laser technology and 3D modeling has been used at Stonehenge to find markings on the stones we didn’t know were there before.  And now the technology has been used by the University of Vigo in north-west Spain to create models of Roman bridges, discover hidden arches within them, and reveal engravings on the bridge made during the Renaissance.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: 3D modeling is super cool.

5. Climate Research and Genghis Khan

And the final bit of news I’ve see this week: Researchers looking at tree rings from central Mongolia have discovered that at the time Genghis Khan rose to power (early 1200s), the region was experiencing its wettest climate in over 1000 years.  This led to an explosion of vegetation (including grasses), which allowed animals like horses to thrive.  On a modern note, these researchers also found that recent years have experienced the worst droughts in the span of time we have data for, which is the last 1,112 years.  An ominous  example of climate change…


Have you heard any other news that I’ve missed?  Let me (and other readers!) know in comments and I’ll check it out!

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