News Article | March 31, 2017
A group of amateur archaeologists participating in a field walk off a British coastline has discovered an ancient mammoth tusk measuring 6 feet long. Members and volunteers of the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network, or CITiZAN, found the ancient relic during an unusually low-tide off the coast of Mersea Island on Thursday morning. Gustav Milne, from the Museum of London Archaeology, explained that changing sea levels and climate change have caused severe erosion on British coastlines exposing archaeological objects. Milne, who is also CITiZAN project leader, urged beach-walkers to report any unusual pieces of object that may turn out to be archaeological treasures such as the mammoth tusk. Milne explained that these objects are likely in the process of destruction citing that coastline erosions are both an agent of discovery and an agent of destruction. The tusk was discovered by four volunteers during a field walk, in which the participants walk along the stretch of the beach and record what they find. They found the relic more than half a mile from the coast off Coopers Beach in Essex. The discovery was made when the tides were at the lowest point of the year. "A small and pointy feature poking out between the shingle and sands and was spotted by our eagle eyed volunteers," wrote Oliver Hutchinson on the CITiZAN's blog. "With a little cleaning of the area they were able to reveal the tusk of this beast from the east (of Mersea), a whopping 2m long!" Mammoths have long been extinct so the tusk found is very old. This also means that the ivory was very fragile and would get damaged when touched and lifted out. To prevent such damage, the volunteers decided to gather samples and images of the tusk right at where it was found before covering it up again. The data and photographs gathered were used to produce a model. The team also collected some sands and clay underneath and around the tusk for analysis. The mammoth lived during the last Ice Age but because of a combination of factors, which include hunting and the changing climate, mammoths became extinct some 4,000 years ago. Remains of this prehistoric creature, however, continue to be found largely because of climate change. In Russia, ivory mammoth tusks are being found in the Siberian tundra because the warmer weathers have melted the permafrost where the tusks were buried. Fossils and remains of the mammoth offer researchers idea about how the creatures looked like, how big they were and their characteristics shedding more light on this close relative of the modern elephant and the environment they lived in thousands of years ago. A woolly mammoth found in the Arctic in 2012 showed hints that it died of injuries caused by ivory and stone tools suggesting that humans were around earlier than previously believed in an area scientists thought was uninhabited by people at the time. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Beaumont J.,University of Bradford |
Geber J.,Queen's University of Belfast |
Powers N.,Museum of London Archaeology |
Wilson A.,University of Bradford |
And 2 more authors.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2013
Historical evidence documents mass migration from Ireland to London during the period of the Great Irish Famine of 1845-52. The rural Irish were reliant on a restricted diet based on potatoes but maize, a C4 plant, was imported from the United States of America in 1846-47 to mitigate against Famine. In London, Irish migrants joined a population with a more varied diet. To investigate and characterize their diet, carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios were obtained from bone collagen of 119 and hair keratin of six individuals from Lukin Street cemetery, Tower Hamlets (1843-54), and bone collagen of 20 individuals from the cemetery at Kilkenny Union Workhouse in Ireland (1847-51). A comparison of the results with other contemporaneous English populations suggests that Londoners may have elevated δ15N compared with their contemporaries in other cities. In comparison, the Irish group have lower δ15N. Hair analysis combined with bone collagen allows the reconstruction of perimortem dietary changes. Three children aged 5-15 years from Kilkenny have bone collagen δ13C values that indicate consumption of maize (C4). As maize was only imported into Ireland in quantity from late 1846 and 1847, these results demonstrate relatively rapid bone collagen turnover in children and highlight the importance of age-related bone turnover rates, and the impact the age of the individual can have on studies of short-term dietary change or recent migration. Stable light isotope data in this study are consistent with the epigraphic and documentary evidence for the presence of migrants within the London cemetery. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Fothergill B.T.,University of Leicester |
Thomas R.,University of Leicester |
Morris J.,Museum of London Archaeology
International Journal of Paleopathology | Year: 2012
In this paper we call attention to the first recorded archaeological examples of avian tibial dyschondroplasia. This condition is identified in three turkey (Meleagris gallopavo L. 1758) tibiotarsi from the Royal London Hospital site in London, UK. The lesions are described, radiographed and differentially diagnosed. Recognition of this condition testifies to the pace of breed development in the 19th-century and the unintended health consequences of 'improvement'. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
Walker D.,Museum of London Archaeology |
Powers N.,Museum of London Archaeology |
Connell B.,Museum of London Archaeology |
Redfern R.,Center for Human Bioarchaeology
American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2015
Treponematosis is a syndrome of chronic infectious diseases. There has been much debate on its origins and spread, particularly with regard to venereal syphilis, an unsightly and debilitating disease in preantibiotic populations. The osteological analysis of 5,387 individuals excavated by Museum of London Archaeology from the medieval burial ground of St. Mary Spital in London (dated c 1120-1539) provided an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the nature and prevalence of disease over a period of time. Twenty-five individuals were found with suspected treponematosis, originating from all but the earliest period of the burial ground. Descriptions of affected individuals from each period, together with supporting images, are provided. In this work, particular emphasis was given to the distribution of lesions on the skeleton and the variation in patterns by sex and over time. Little change was observed in the distribution of bony change between individuals dated to pre- and post-Columbian periods. However, a dramatic rise in the prevalence of the disease in the final period (c 1400-1539) may reflect documentary reports of a European epidemic from the late 15th century. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Mitchell P.D.,University of Cambridge |
Boston C.,University of Oxford |
Chamberlain A.T.,University of Sheffield |
Chaplin S.,Wellcome Library |
And 7 more authors.
Journal of Anatomy | Year: 2011
The study of anatomy in England during the 18th and 19th century has become infamous for bodysnatching from graveyards to provide a sufficient supply of cadavers. However, recent discoveries have improved our understanding of how and why anatomy was studied during the enlightenment, and allow us to see the context in which dissection of the human body took place. Excavations of infirmary burial grounds and medical school cemeteries, study of hospital archives, and analysis of the content of surviving anatomical collections in medical museums enables us to re-evaluate the field from a fresh perspective. The pathway from a death in poverty, sale of the corpse to body dealer, dissection by anatomist or medical student, and either the disposal and burial of the remains or preservation of teaching specimens that survive today in medical museums is a complex and fascinating one. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Anatomy © 2011 Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
Morris J.,Museum of London Archaeology
Environmental Archaeology | Year: 2010
The following paper presents the results from two surveys of zooarchaeologists involved with commercial work in the United Kingdom. The surveys had a number of aims: they investigated the demographic of commercial zooarchaeologists; their relationship with organisations; the information they produce; how the current recession is affecting their work and what their priorities for help would be. The main survey was carried out during March-April 2009 with a further follow-up survey conducted during August. The surveys indicate that the demographic of zooarchaeologists varies from that of archaeologists in the United Kingdom as a whole. It also shows that the economic recession is affecting commercial zooarchaeologists in a number of ways. The paper also discusses the general structure and nature of the profession. © 2010 Maney Publishing.
PubMed | Museum of London Archaeology
Type: Historical Article | Journal: American journal of physical anthropology | Year: 2014
Treponematosis is a syndrome of chronic infectious diseases. There has been much debate on its origins and spread, particularly with regard to venereal syphilis, an unsightly and debilitating disease in preantibiotic populations. The osteological analysis of 5,387 individuals excavated by Museum of London Archaeology from the medieval burial ground of St. Mary Spital in London (dated c 1120-1539) provided an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the nature and prevalence of disease over a period of time. Twenty-five individuals were found with suspected treponematosis, originating from all but the earliest period of the burial ground. Descriptions of affected individuals from each period, together with supporting images, are provided. In this work, particular emphasis was given to the distribution of lesions on the skeleton and the variation in patterns by sex and over time. Little change was observed in the distribution of bony change between individuals dated to pre- and post-Columbian periods. However, a dramatic rise in the prevalence of the disease in the final period (c 1400-1539) may reflect documentary reports of a European epidemic from the late 15th century.
News Article | September 9, 2016
Ticked Off! Here's What You Need To Know About Lyme Disease Researchers have discovered Great Plague bacteria in the teeth of victims from the mass burial pit in East London. The Great Plague outbreak in 17th century claimed over 100,000 lives in Britain, which was about a quarter of London's population in the 1650s. The archeologists unearthed a mass burial pit called a plague pit in Liverpool, while excavating the area to build a new Crossrail station in August 2015. The researchers uncovered not just a few, but 3,500 burials in the pit. Samples from about 20 skeletons were taken and subjected to DNA analysis. On analysis, the researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany discovered Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that cause plague, in five of the 20 teeth samples. The tooth enamel, which is considered the strongest substance in the human body, had preserved the bacterial DNA, keeping it intact, helping the researchers find answers to a long-held question. "Ancient DNA is very vulnerable to contamination and suffers from full preservation. ... The teeth are like sealed capsules that preserve this information better than other parts of the skeleton," said Michael Henderson, Senior Human Osteologist at the Museum of London Archaeology, as reported by the Denver Channel. Though records and evidence clearly indicate plague outbreak in the country, no traces of bacterial pathogens were isolated. Since the infection killed victims very quickly, no traces of the organism could be found on the bones. Don Walker, Senior Human Osteologist at the Museum of London Archaeology, said that the discovery is significant because the causative agent behind the outbreak is unclear. Researchers who studied the Black Death, the first outbreak of plague in Britain in the middle of the 14th century, confirmed that Y. pestis was the organism behind the outbreak. Now that the researchers have confirmed that the Great Plague was caused by Y. pestis, it looks like the outbreaks through the couple of centuries were caused by the same bacterium. Researchers doubted that the Great Plague could be different from Black Death because modern day plague is different from the disease suffered several centuries ago, Walker explained. According to Walker, the modern plague is the third pandemic; though the infection is spread by rodents, it is not easily spread in humans. Comparing the DNA of modern plague with DNA from earlier outbreaks could help in better understanding the infection. According to a World Health Organization report, about 126 deaths were recorded among 783 cases of plague worldwide in 2013.
News Article | November 17, 2016
Found at Great Ryburgh in Norfolk, their "remarkable preservation" was due to the waterlogged conditions of the river valley. The Historic England excavation was carried out ahead of the construction of a lake and flood defence system. Chief executive Duncan Wilson said the graves were "a significant discovery". James Fairclough, the lead archaeologist from the Museum of London Archaeology whose team is based in Northampton, said: "The combination of acidic sand and alkaline water created the perfect conditions for the skeletons and wooden graves to survive, revealing remarkable details of Christian Anglo-Saxon burial practices." You can read more stories about archaeology on our Pinterest board Landowner Gary Boyce had asked him to put in trial trenches ahead of the planning application for the lake and flood defence system. These revealed high status Anglo-Saxon pottery and Roman Samian Ware. He said it was all the more remarkable because prior to the dig "all the evidence suggested the field had never been developed". They decided to carry out a full excavation in January - and within an hour found the first of over 80 human burials. The dig was completed in June but its findings have only just been released to the press. Historic England said other important finds included six "very rare" plank-lined graves "believed to be the earliest known examples in Britain" and evidence of a timber structure thought to be a church. Historic England believes the burials date from between the 7th and 9th Centuries AD and were "the final resting place for a community of early Christians". Research is continuing to find out where the bodies came from, how they were related and what their diet and health was like. Some of the finds will go on display at Norwich Castle Museum.
News Article | November 17, 2016
Archaeologists have uncovered one of William Shakespeare's first theaters, offering insight into the famed productions. Before the famous Globe Theatre, Shakespeare's plays were performed at the Curtain Theatre — one of the earliest purpose-built theaters in London, according to the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA). After three months of archaeological digs at the theater's site in East London, discoveries at the site could "completely transform our understanding of the evolution of Elizabethan theatres," MOLA researchers wrote in a blog post about the discovery. The excavation revealed that the rectangular theater was built for performance and entertainment. Rather than a repurposed space with a stage added, the Curtain Theatre was built as a performance space with viewing galleries and a general audience courtyard, MOLA researchers said. In fact, the archaeologists also discovered fragments of ceramic money boxes, suggesting that the Curtain Theatre was one of the first Elizabethan playhouses where audience members paid money for the entertainment, the researchers said. [The 25 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth] Another discovery from the excavation was the theater's long, rectangular stage, which housed an unusual passageway running beneath it — possibly used by actors to exit from one side of the stage and enter from the other without being seen by the audience, according to MOLA. "The early stages of the dig confirmed that the theatre was not the polygonal structure we had anticipated, but this latest set of discoveries give us more detail about this early Elizabethan theatre," the archaeologists wrote. "The discovery of an oblong stage which is far longer than expected and the mysterious passageway offers a tantalizing glimpse into the secrets that are still to be uncovered." Small glass beads and pins found at the site may have been from actors' costumes, offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the productions. The dig also unearthed drinking vessels and clay pipes, likely used by theatergoers and actors, the researchers said. Post-excavation research is now underway, during which the MOLA researchers will further explore the relationship between the unusual shape of the stage and its passageway; the production and staging of performances; and the overall theatergoing experience.