Category: Ann - Part 3

Bracken Tor – Murder mystery set in Bronze Age Cornwall

Screenshot from 'Bracken Tor' - Bronze Age StructureRight in time for Halloween, Shadow Tor Studios have released the first (and spooky) trailer for horror adventure game ‘Bracken Tor: The Time of Tooth and Claw’, which will hit the UK late November.

The point-and-click PC game is set in a Bronze Age environment, based on prehistoric Cornwall.

Beyond Barrow Hill

Bracken Tor also tagged ‘Adventures beyond Barrow Hill’ after its predecessor ‘Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle’ is the latest title from the Shadow Tor Studios and produced with assistance from the ‘Mysterious Beasts Research Group’ (fictional) and Cornwall Archaeology Society (possibly the real one).

Amongst the game’s features: ‘travel back in time, to The Bronze Age, to learn its secrets’ and ‘experience virtual archaeology, and uncover the past’.

I have heard many strange stories, while 3D mapping the landscape and recreating forgotten shrines. There are whisperings of mythical beasts, appearing out of the fog, said Matt Clark, creator of Barrow Hill and Bracken Tor.

Video Teaser – Bracken Tor: The Time of Tooth and Claw

What are these strange creatures? Visitations? The ghosts of long extinct creatures? Is an ancient feral world colliding with ours? There really are undiscovered treasures, and dangers, waiting for the gamer to experience.

Back to the Bronze Age

Barrow Hill was tag-lined archaeology meets adventure, but for Bracken Tor you are a bold journalist, looking for the next ‘big story’ investigating the vicious murder of a lone hiker (for his last hours, see the trailer on the left), torn to pieces.

To solve the mystery (and publish a great story), you decide to spend the night on the moor to check if the ‘mysterious beasts’ are real. However, you’ll find yourself transported 2,000 years back in time to Bronze Age Britain.

Thrown into the ancient past of the Bronze Age people, you will find the true origins of the nightmare. Those primitive people lived in fear of the mighty beasts, making sacrifices to protect themselves from the packs, which hide in the thick pine forests and wind swept tundra. They practised long forgotten ceremonies, and studied the natural world, in an attempt to understand and conquer their foe. For it is only through understanding the ‘old ways’ that you will survive the night. You will have to decide what is worse…the beasts that lurk in the darkness, or the terrifying acts performed by our ancient ancestors.

Venture onto Bracken Tor, pitch your tent, prepare for the dark, listen for the sounds and hope to survive the Time of Tooth and Claw, concluded Clark.

Just How Terrifying?

I must admit, I’ll probably play because travelling back in time to the Bronze Age isfun (check out Stonehenge 1500 BC), and not the least because I’m curious about the ‘terrifying acts’ our prehistoric ancestors performed. Lets just hope we don’t vilify them to much? What are the odds for ‘human sacrifice’ can anybody confirm if this burial looks like a ritual kill? 😉 Also, please enlighten me () as to just how much archaeological evidence for human sacrifice in prehistoricBritain there exactly is? I’m honestly clueless, the only referencesI remember are either from Hollywood movies, or theCommentarii de Bello Gallico.

Neolithic knife find at Tirnony Dolmen excavations hints at undisturbed burial

The Neolithic flint blade, found in the interior of the tomb, was likely left with the body of an individual who was buried at the Tirnony Dolmen 5,500 years ago. - Image courtesy the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork (CAF)Archaeologists excavating the 5,000-year-old Tirnony Dolmen at Maghera, Northern Ireland say the best find of the dig so far a Neolithic flint blade suggests the ancient burial site is undisturbed.

The Tirnony Dolmen or portal tomb is a single-chamber megalithic tomb, estimated to be about 5,000 to 6,000 years old.

In April this year, the ancient tomb’s massive capstone fell off, severely damaging one of the supporting stones.

Now, the necessary repair works offer archaeologists from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency the chance of a lifetime excavating the ancient burial monument.

The 4.5cm long, 1cm wide knife blade made from translucent flintin pristine conditionwas discovered inside the tomb.

It suggests the tomb was not ‘excavated’ in the 18th or 19th centuries by antiquarians who frequently looted the artefacts but rarely recorded or published their work

There is no trace of the original handle, which has probably decayed.

The knife is likely a grave gift, left with the person laid to rest at the dolmen about 5,500 years ago. Its presence indicates that despite 19th century plumbing works near the ancient tomb there’s a good chance the burial itself is intact.

The finding of this flint knife has given us reason to be optimistic about the tomb interior,the NIEA archaeologistswrite on their excavation blog.

Firstly its position sitting on top of a newly uncovered layer encourages us that we are finally coming to the end of the disturbed upper soils and secondly it suggests to us that the tomb was not ‘excavated’ in the 18th or 19th centuries by antiquarians who frequently looted the artefacts but rarely recorded or published their work.

The excavations at the Tilnony portal tomb continue until the end of November. You can visit the dig and talk to the archaeologists on Fridays between 2pm and 4pm. You want tofollow the dig’s progress – especially now you know chances they will find an intact burial have risen significantly! 😉 – via the Archaeologists blog at or on Facebook.

Tutankhamun visits Manchester, brings Tomb and Treasures

'Tutankhamun - His Tomb and His Treasures' will be at the Mancherster Museum of Museums until February 27th, 2011.King Tut’s treasures are returning to the UK, as ‘Tutankhamun His Tomb and His Treasures’ opened this weekend at Manchester’s Museum of Museums.

Over 1,000 faithful replicas offer visitors the opportunity to look through Howard Carter’s eyes and experience the greatest discovery of all time for themselves.

The entire world is familiar with ancient Egypt’s ‘piece de resistance’, the symbol of Egyptology King Tut’s golden death mask (slideshow).

Yet, fewer people know that when Carter and Carnarvon discovered the pharaoh’s final resting place in 1922, it contained so many treasures that it was almost impossible to enter. It would take Carter ten years to catalogue the 5,398 artefacts stacked in the tomb.

The items recovered over those ten years include jewellery, cult objects, amulets, coffers, chests, chairs, weapons, musical instruments, a stunning golden chariot, the golden shrines and the legendary death mask.

‘Tutankhamun His Tomb and His Treasures’ promises just that; to complete the experience by not just showing you truly wonderful things, but the bigger picture.

For the touring exhibition ‘Tutankhamun His Tomb and His Treasures’, a thousand of these precious artefacts have been reproduced. The almost exact (no solid gold, though) copies are shown ‘returned’ to their rightful place in the three burial chambers, recreated based on the sketches and diary notes by Howard Carter and Harry Burton’s original photographs.

The Manchester stop of the tour includes a brand new display, entitled ‘Howard Carter The Discoverer of Tutankhamun’. It is curated by leading Egyptologist Dr. Jaromir Malek, Keeper of the Tutankhamun Archives at the Griffith Institute at Oxford University.

The attention which is paid to detail is outstanding, he said about the travelling showcase. This exhibition can do things which no other is able to. Its educational and information value surpasses that of the usual Tutankhamun shows. The intention to inform and to approach the topic seriously is unmistakably felt from the beginning to the end.

Click To Watch Video
Discovering King Tut – Carnarvon and the Artefacts
The 8th Earl of Carnarvon, George Herbert and his wife, 8th Countess of Carnarvon, Fiona Herbert, discuss some of the artefacts found inside the tomb of King Tutankhamun by Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter.

Replicas; better than the real thing?

Today, most of King Tut‘s grave goods are on display at the Cairo Museum (soon they’ll be moved to the forthcoming Grand Egyptian Museum). Some of the artefacts are touring (largely, the artefacts of which they have multiple, almost similar versions) and Tutankhamun’s mummy is housed at his tomb in the Valley of the Kings (a very neat replica of the remainsis touring as well). Dr Zahi Hawass states (and I tend to believe him on this) that neither the Golden Death Mask, nor the mummy will ever be permitted to leave Egypt again. It is inevitable that KV62 (Tut’s Tomb) is closed or access to it severely limited to protect it from the damages tourists, unwillingly, inflict unwillingly, inflict on the ancient murals. To accomodate the 21st century explorers, a replica Valley of the Kings will be constructed.

So, where does that leave us mere mortals, trying to experience a bit of the magic Carter felt when he was the first person in over 2,000 years to behold such wonderful things?

I’ve been to the Cairo Museum, where Tut’s multitude of treasures is kept in glass cabinets, to together with the many other holidaymakers shuffle from wonderful thing to wonderful thing. When after five hours we left the museum, I was proud of my newly gained knowledge of All Things Ancient Egyptian; they built large statues, and had many gods, good craftsmen as well as lots of gold. But I confess, after five hours of shuffling and reading little info cards,I stilldid not have the slightest clue who Howard Carter was. There was no real narrative to catalogue what I saw, and definitely no realisation of just how major the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb was.

So maybe and in my opinion, most definitely a accurate replica put in context (or a thousand replicas, put together in Tut’s tomb) can have more value than the original. ‘Tutankhamun His Tomb and His Treasures’ promises just that; to complete the experience by not just showing you truly wonderful things, but the bigger picture.

Tutankhamun His Tomb and His Treasures is on at Manchesters new Museum of Museums (situated at The Trafford Centre, Barton Square). The exhibition runs until February 27th, 2011. Tickets and more info at

5000 Years of History at Zurich Rescue Excavations: Stone Age Wooden Door (and more)

Excavations at the Opera House car park, Zurich, Switserland. Rescue excavations at the construction site of an underground car park in the Swiss city of Zurich are exceeding all expectations.

So far, the remains of at least five successive prehistoricsettlements came to light, as well as some amazing finds.

These including a flint dagger from Italy anda 5000-year-old wooden door – looking incredibly good for its age.

The oldest of the settlements discovered at the Opera House digis dated to as early as 3700 BC.

Underneath these remains, the archaeologists from Zurich’s Structural Engineering Department found sediment layers, which will offer information about the fluctuating water levels of Lake Zurich over time.

In addition to the sediment strata and building features over 8000 wood samples have been recovered.

The absence of oxygen in the lake sediments made that a wealth of organic remains are preserved.

5,000-year-old Stone Age Door

Amongst the remains was a Stone Age door, which is likely to be the third oldest door in Switzerland as well as Europe.

The prehistoric wooden door measures 153 by 88 centimetres and extremely well-preserved, with even its hinges still visible.

Remarkable is the way its planks were held together using a sophisticated plugs system.

Dating of the wood’s tree rings dendrochronology suggests the door was made (or at least, the three felled) in the year 3,063 BC.

More Archaeological Treasures

So far, one human skeleton has been discovered at the Zurich dig.

Other finds at the archaeological site were a heavily used flint dagger from Italy which offers information on the prehistoric transalpine trade routes and a new type of bow and arrow with bark ornament and a yet to be determined adhesive technology.

Stone Age tinderboxes were recovered at the dig, complete with lumps of iron sulphide, fire strikers and mushrooms the F. fomentarius, or Tinder Fungus.

From these boxes, several wooden pieces were found, which will provide further information on the containers’ designs.

The dig also revealed the oldest evidence for the use of wooden shingles in Zurich , a child-size bow and silex knifes silex being the steel of the Stone Age.

Modern when compared are the sandstone remains of the 17th century city wall, the construction of which can be investigated in detail for the first time.

The rescue excavations at the the Opera House car park have been ongoing for five months (an impressive photographic overview on the Zurich website). The dig will be completed by the end of January 2011, when the archaeologists have investigated the 3500 square metre area.

York’s ‘Headless Romans’ (gladiators, according to some) had exotic origins and diet

One of the 'Headless Romans' found at Driffield Terrace, York. It clearly has a displaced skull. - Image York Archaeological TrustIn 2004, agroup of 80 individuals were discovered at Driffield Terrace, in York. They were buried between the late 1st and early 4th centuries AD, on a large cemetery on the outskirts of Eboracum, the Roman town of York.

They are unusual because they are all believed to be male,most are adults and more than half had been decapitated. When these 30 bodies were buried some got their heads in the right place on their shoulders. Others saw their heads placed between their knees, on their chests or down by their feet. In one double burial the two bodies even had had their heads swapped over.

Exotic Origins and Diet

Where these ‘headless Romans’ native Yorkshire-men or incomers, and might their origins be linked to the way they were buried? New research using isotope analysis has shown that the ‘Headless Romans’ found in a cemetery in York came from as far away as Eastern Europe.

A group of archaeological scientists from the University of Reading and the NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory in Nottingham took samples of teeth and bone and analysed isotopes atoms of the same element with different atomic weights of strontium, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen.

Scientists normally just look at strontium and oxygen isotopic systems to work out someone’s origins. But this time the archaeologists looked at the four isotopes together, combining information about the individual’s diet with the type of climate and geological setting they grew up in. At least two had a diet rich in plant probably millet that wasn’t grown in Britain at that time.

If anything, it’s the diversity of their backgrounds rather than any common origin that was the defining feature for this group of burials.

This approach was very important in this case, because it has given us information about these unusual burials that would have been missed if only strontium and oxygen had been analysed, said Dr Gundula Mldner of the University of Reading.

Isotopes are absorbed by our teeth and bones from our food, drinking water and the air. Their proportions vary around the world due either to differences in regional geology or climate, so they provide important clues about where individuals grew up or spent most of their lives.

It’s the first time that consumers of C4 plant products have been reported for any archaeological period in Britain, said Dr Mldner. Oxygen (O) and strontium (Sr) are fixed in dental enamel as our teeth form. The enamel doesn’t change much subsequently, so oxygen and strontium levels can be matched fairly closely to the geology and climate of the place we grew up.

Carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) isotopes are absorbed from our food and can be measured from dentine or bone collagen samples. They tell scientists about terrestrial and marine foods in an individual’s diet as well as the balance of plant and animal protein. They also distinguish plants that photosynthesis in different ways to produce different proportions of the isotopes C3 and C4.

However, as most diets look similar, isotopically speaking, over large parts of temperate Europe, C and N isotopes are not usually thought particularly useful for understanding how people have moved around.

From the 80 individuals discovered at Driffield Terrace, 18 were tested for oxygen and strontium. The strontium analysis showed that 11 of them grew up on food that wasn’t grown locally. Two oxygen results were well outside the estimated range for Britain one of the persons spent his childhood in a cooler climate and the other in a warmer one.

Where possible the team tested four isotopes in the same individual. In combination, the oxygen and strontium isotopes indicated that just five of the men tested grew up in York. The others either came from elsewhere in the north of England, or as far as France, Germany or central southern Europe or the Mediterranean.

In total 68 individuals were tested for carbon and nitrogen. Five of them were markedly different from local populations. Two in particular had eaten diets with distinctly high carbon isotope ratios, indicating the consumption of C4 plants or the products of animals raised on them.

The only ‘C4 plant’ cultivated in Europe at the time was millet, but it was almost certainly not grown in Britain during this period, possibly because the climate was too wet. To have eaten enough of their distinctive diets to produce these unusual isotope results, the scientists conclude, these two individuals must have come from abroad.

This was one of the most exciting results for me, says Mldner. It’s the first time that consumers of C4 plant products have been reported for any archaeological period in Britain.

Crucially, a number of the individuals identified as incomers from the carbon and nitrogen results would not have been picked though strontium and oxygen analysis alone.

Compared to what is known so far from cemeteries across York, the ‘Headless Romans’ do seem to have much more exotic origins than groups with less unusual burial rites. But the study didn’t find any consistent link between their geographical origins and whether they were decapitated.

If anything, says Mldner, it’s the diversity of their backgrounds rather than any common origin that was the defining feature for this group of burials.

Gladiators, Soldiers, Executedor Religious Fanatics?

There are many theoriesabout ‘the identity’of theheadless Romans and their decapitators. In 2006, isotope analysis suggested that three of the men were from Northern Europe (including Britain), one from the Alps, one from the Mediterranean, and the final one from north Africa. The 80 could have been soldiers or even according to the 2006 Timewatch special ‘The Mystery of the Headless Romans’ men from Emperor Severus’ household, executed by Caracalla.

June this year, it was announced York’s headless Romans might have been Gladiators the subject of the Channel 4 documentary ‘Gladiators: Back from the Dead’ (which you can see here). Evidence cited for Driffield Terrace being the ‘worlds only well-preserved gladiator cemetery’, isthe discoveryof a ‘large, carnivore bite mark’ and a high incidence of substantial arm asymmetry. Further, some healed and unhealed weapon injuries and possible hammer blows to the head (a feature attested as a probable gladiatorial coup de grce at another gladiator cemetery at Ephesus in Turkey).

Surely, the 30 decapitated individuals died a violent death, but they couldalso have been criminals one of the skeletons was found with heavy lead leg-shackles, or even members of a religious cult.

The research is part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project A Long Way From Home: Diaspora Communities in Roman Britain, whichearlier identified the ‘Upper Class’ (and early-christian) Ivory Bangle Lady buried at York as African. The research byDr Gundula Mldner, Chenery and Dr Hella Eckardt is published as The ‘Headless Romans’: multi-isotope investigations of an unusual burial ground from Roman Britain in the Journal of Archaeological Science (2010).

York’s ‘Headless Romans’ (gladiators, according to some) had exotic origins and diet

In 2004, a group of 80 individuals were discovered at Driffield Terrace, in York. They were buried between the late 1st and early 4th centuries AD, on a large cemetery on the outskirts of Eboracum, the Roman town of York.They are unusual because they are all believed to be male, most are adults – and more than half had been decapitated. When these 30 bodies were buried some got their heads in the right place – on their shoulders. Others saw their heads placed between their knees, on their chests or down by their feet. In one double burial the two bodies even had had their heads swapped over. Exotic Origins and Diet Where these ‘headless Romans’ native Yorkshire-men or incomers, and might their origins be linked to the way they were buried? New research using isotope analysis has shown that the ‘Headless Romans’ found in a cemetery in York came from as far away as Eastern Europe.

Restoration of the Royal Palace and Excavations at Ancient Qatna, Syria

This obsidian cup with gold accents was found inbetween human skeletal remains in the low vault of the Royal Palace. Photo by Marc Steinmetz, University of TubingenAfter more than ten years of excavation and restoration, the ancient well-house at the Royal Palace of Qatna, Syria, has been officially opened to the public. It is the first phase of an ambitious project that will see the entire palace site opened for international tourism.

The ancient city of Qatna is located at Mishrifeh in western Syria, about 18 km north-east of the city of Homs and 200km from the modern-day Syrian capital Damascus. Bronze Age Qatna was strategically located at a the now vanished lake of Mishrifeh. In the 2nd millennium BC, itbecame the capital city of the Syrian kingdom, controlling the trade routes between Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean, and between Anatolia and Egypt.

Around 1650BC, Qatna’s Royal Palace was built. The palace, which served as living quarters and for administrative as well as religious purposes, is believed to have been constructed in less than fifty years. When completed, the monumental complex was more than 150 metres long and 100 metres wide. When the Hittites conquered Syria in 1340 BC, the palace was destroyed.

Slideshow: click theimages for a larger version

Qatna Archaeological Park, AD 2013

More than 3000 years later, archaeologists are ready to show the first results of large-scale restoration project that will create the ‘Qatna Archaeological Park’.

As part of the project, the ruins of the palace’s well-house and the surrounding area were covered by a 20 metres by 28 metres transparent construction. With its unusual deep well and 80-step basalt stairs, the unique well-house is a precious monument of Near Eastern Bronze Age architecture.

The renovation project a collaboration between the universities of Tubingen and Udine (their excellent project website), and Damscus is set to be completed in 2013.

Our generation has a moral responsibility to preserve the archaeological heritage for future generations, said Daniele Morandi Bonacossi from the University of Udine.

Especiallyfor countries rich in cultural heritage and with a booming economy, such as Syria, it is extremely important to establish a strong link between cultural heritage, archaeological resources and sustainable management of tourism in order to ensure the country’s growth, continued the co-director of the archaeological mission at Mishrife.

Archaeological Treasures from Qatna’s Tombs

Parallel with the restoration works, archaeological excavations were carried out at ancient Qatna this summer,focussing on further exposing the second tomb discoveredbeneath the Royal Palace in 2009.

Late summer, some remarkable finds were recovered from the intact not looted burials. Amongst theitems found in the grave chamber were an Egyptian cup of black translucent obsidian, gold bracelets, and neck rings decorates with gemstones including Baltic amber.

More than 100 skeletons were discovered at the cryptso far. Most of the skeletal remains, which likely belong to members from Qatna’s royal family or household, were grouped in wooden boxes. These ‘mass coffins’ were positioned one next to another, and sometimes even stacked.

One of the boxes contained the pelvic bone of a child, encircled by a wide bronze belt. Another held a smaller box, inlaid with ivory. The inlaid tiles decorated the wooden box on three sides and, fastened with bitumen, were still partly in their original positions.They show animal figures such as gazelles, monkeys and lions, a hybrid creature with a lion’s head and aneagle body, as well as humans. The box isa unique exampleofSyrian-Mesopotamian art of the late Middle Bronze Age.

A seal with an inscription of the Egyptian queen mother Ahmes-Nefertari (c. 1560 BC) was added to the artefacts allowing the dating of the tomb, of which the contents are an impressive testament to the close contacts between the Syrian Kingdom of Qatna and Egypt in the middle of the 2nd Millennium BC the Hyksos period and the beginning of the New Kingdom.

Promising Future Excavations

At the official opening ceremony for the well-house, a new excavation license was signed so we may look forward to more fascinating discoveries at Qatna being made in the next five years.

The renewal of the license allows for the excavations at the lower town and the satellite building east to the Royal Palace to continue, but also gives the dig teams access to a large new area at Qatna’s western gate which so far is unexplored and molto promettente.

Amazonian Dark Earth points to large amount of pre-Columbian settlements in North Brazil

 An example of the round depressions found in the landscape, which could be the remains of water reservoirs. Photo by Per Stenborg, University of GothenburgThe pre-Columbian Indian societies that once lived in the Amazon rainforests may have been much larger than researchers previously realized. Archaeologists have located the remains of about 90 settlements in an area south of the city of Santarm, Brazil.

Traditionally archaeologists have thought that these inland areas in northern Brazil were sparsely populated before the arrival of the Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries. One reason for this assumption is that the soil found in the Santarm area is generally quite infertile; another reason is that far away from all the major watercourses, the access to water in the region is poor during dry periods. It has therefore been something of a mystery that the earliest historical account from the Spaniard Francisco de Orellanas journey along the River Amazon in 1541-42 depicted the Amazon as a densely populated region with what the Spanish described as towns, situated not only along the river itself, but also inland.

Just as importantly, we found round depressions in the landscape, some as big as a hundred metres in diameter, by several of the larger settlements. These could be the remains of water reservoirs, built to secure water supply during dry periods.

The most surprising thing is that many of these settlements are a long way from rivers, and are located in rainforest areas that extremely sparsely populated today, says Per Stenborg from the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Historical Studies, who led the Swedish part of the archaeological investigations.

Together with Brazilian colleagues, the archaeologists from the University of Gothenburg have come across areas of very fertile soil scattered around the otherwise infertile land. These soils, known by there Portuguese name as Terra Preta do Indio, or Amazonian Dark Earth, areanthropogenic soilsnot natural occuring, butmodified by long-term human activity such as irrigation and waste disposal (wikipedia has a great overview here).

The results of this summer’s fieldwork also imply the Amerindian populations in this part of the Amazon had developed a way to overcome the environmental limitations by construction massive reservoirs.

Just as importantly, we found round depressions in the landscape, some as big as a hundred metres in diameter, by several of the larger settlements, says Stenborg. These could be the remains of water reservoirs, built to secure water supply during dry periods.

The archaeological investigations near the city of Santarm in between the Amazon mainstream and its tributary, the Rio Tapajs are considered to be extremely urgent. The ancient sites in the Santarm area are threatened by intense exploitation. With agriculture constantly expanding and the steady construction of roads, progress is rapidly destroying the archaeological evidence.

Our work here is a race against time in order to obtain archaeological field data enabling us to save information about the pre-Columbian societies that once existed in this area, before the archaeological record has been irretrievably lost as a result of the present development, states Mrcio Amaral-Lima, archaeologist atSantarm’sFundao de Amparo e Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa, in Santarm.

Tomb of ancient Egyptian priest Rudj-Ka discovered at Giza

Egyptian archaeologists discovered a 4400-year-old tomb, south of the cemetery of the pyramid builders at Giza, Egypt. In a statement, Egyptian Minister of Culture Farouk Hosny, said the ancient Egyptian tomb was unearthed during routine excavations supervised by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) near the pyramid builder’s necropolis. The recently discovered tomb belongs to a priest named Rudj-Ka (or Rwd-Ka), and is dated to the 5th Dynasty – between 2465 and 2323 BC. Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the SCA, said that Rudj-Ka had several titles and would have been an important member of the ancient Egyptian court. Rudj-Ka was a purification priest serving the mortuary cult of Khafre (2520-2494 BC), the 4th Dynasty pharaoh who built the second-largest pyramid at Giza.

Woruldhord, a massive Old English and Anglo-Saxon treasure hoard – to be discovered on the web

Treasures from Medieval York - The York Helmet (crest detail)Submissions from the public have helped Oxford University academics put together a hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasures. Yet, there is no need to get your metal detectors out. The hoard in question is the worlds largest online archive of material concerning the Anglo-Saxons.

The virtual treasure consists of digital objects related to the teaching, study, or research of Old English and the Anglo-Saxon period of history, which will be made available online for free.

Project Woruldhord (Old English for world hoard), which called on the public to submit Anglo-Saxon teaching material after being inspired by the level of interest surrounding the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard, has received between three and four thousand objects since opening in July.

The success of Project Woruldhord shows that the level of interest in the discovery of the Staffordshire hoard was not a one-off, said Dr Anna Caughey of the Faculty of English Language and Literature.

We have been amazed by the enthusiasm among the general public for the Anglo-Saxon period people of all ages have gone out and found Anglo-Saxon remnants in their area, recorded and photographed them and submitted them to the archive.

The materials submitted will be made freely available worldwide for educational purposes on the Project Woruldhord website. The Oxford team hopes the Woruldhord will prove to be a valuable teaching resource, allowing teachers and children and the wider public to access videos, recordings and images relating to the Anglo-Saxons and even teach themselves Old English.

Another interesting submission to the archive is Old English in Middle-Earth, which describes the influence of the Anglo-Saxons on Tolkiens characters, stories and language in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Project Woruldhord Archive Highlights

Highlights of the archive include some of the finds from CSI Sittingbourne,previously unreleased pictures and X-rays of artefacts in the Staffordshire hoard and fromSutton Hoo, Anglo-Saxon land charters including a forged land document, Oxford University exam papers in Old English from the 19th Century and a 1966 TV film on the Anglo-Saxons, ‘1065 and all that’ -which hasn’t been seen for 44 years.

One contributor even designed, built and played an Anglo-Saxon lute for a video objects like this will be a great resource for teachers to get pupils to engage with this period, which is currently under-represented on schools curriculums, said Caughey.

Another interesting submission – and so far, my favourite -is Old English in Middle-Earth, a study guide to the Anglo-Saxon language which describes the influence of the Anglo-Saxons on Tolkiens characters, stories andspeech in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

If you want to speak like the Anglo-Saxons it will take a much more detailed course than this short introduction to learn all the grammar, but you can learn some sounds and some words and phrases that are of particular interest as you read The Lord of the Rings, reads the guide.

If you want to contribute to the digital hoard, you’ll need to hurry. Although the project won’t go live until later this year, the archive stops taking submissions today. Fittingly, as October 14this the date on which in 1066 the Battle of Hastings signalled the end of the Anglo-Saxon period (if you want to learn more about the shifts caused bythe Norman conquest, the PASEDomesday digital archive might be a good place to start).

My meagre contributions to Project Woruddhord? A picture of the York Helmet’s (beautifully crafted!) crest detail and the suggestion they ask Professor Drout if they can add his ‘Anglo-Saxon Aloud’ readings to the Woruldhord archive.