‘Pictish’ stone discovered in north of Scotland

A mysterious 6ft tall stone with Pictish markings has been discovered near a Moray business park development.

'Pictish' stone discovered in north of Scotland
The stone, which was found on a building site on the outskirts of Elgin, could be Pictish in origin
[Credit: Wayne Miles/Pictish Arts Society]

The object was initially discarded by workers currently constructing the Barmuckity Business Park just outside Elgin. It was then discovered by amateur metal detectorist Wayne Miles, who found it when out in a field behind his house that he walks through almost every day.

The huge stone is estimated to weigh about two tonnes. Engravings carved into the surface appear to be ancient Pict markings although historians will need to confirm its origins.

Mr Miles described the find as a “once in a lifetime” discovery. He said: “There is quite stunning imagery on the stone and I have been smiling ever since I found it. I’ve only ever seen things like this in the museum and it is a mysterious thing. It was dug up by local development workers at Barmuckity who didn’t know what it was and they dumped it on the side of this scrap land I walk through every day and after scraping away at it a bit, I found the images on it.”

Members of the Treasure Trove panel from Elgin Museum have already examined the stone but have been unable to confirm or deny its authenticity. If it is found to be genuine, it is expected to be a big find for Moray.

Other Pictish stones similar to this one have been found in Craigellachie, while the remnants of an old Pictish fort lay in Burghead.

Mr Miles is excited to see what happens next with the stone. He said: “Metal detection is my hobby so I don’t know much about the stone but I’d love for this to be Pictish. The Treasure Trove was quite vague about the possibility of it being authentic, so we will wait and see.”

Author: David Walker | Source: The Press and Journal [February 26, 2019]



New Kingdom workshop discovered in Egypt’s Gebel el-Silsila

The Swedish-Egyptian mission led by Dr. Maria Nilsson and John Ward (Lund University), found a New Kingdom sandstone workshop and several sculptures during excavations at Gebel el-Silsila archaeological site in Aswan.

New Kingdom workshop discovered in Egypt's Gebel el-Silsila
Excavation work at the archaeological site in Gebel El-Silsila [Credit: The Gebel el-Silsila Project 2019]

Dr. Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, pointed out the discovery of a large ram-headed sphinx in the workshop area. The sphinx, approximately 5 m. long, 3.5 m. high, and 1.5 m.wide, finds a parallel to the ram-headed sphinxes of the area south of the Khonsu Temple at Karnak. A roughly-cut uraeus (coiled cobra) found embedded in the walls of the workshop was to crown the head of this large ram-headed sphinx.
The context allows archaeologists to date the finds back to the era of Pharaoh Amenhotep III of the 18th Dynasty.

New Kingdom workshop discovered in Egypt's Gebel el-Silsila
General overview prior to excavation [Credit: The Gebel el-Silsila Project 2019]
New Kingdom workshop discovered in Egypt's Gebel el-Silsila
General overview during excavations [Credit: The Gebel el-Silsila Project 2019]
New Kingdom workshop discovered in Egypt's Gebel el-Silsila
The excavated sphinx [Credit: The Gebel el-Silsila Project 2019]

Abdel Moneim Saeed (Director General of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities) said that researchers also unearthed hundreds of fragments from a Naos of Amenhotep III (Naos E), all inscribed in hieroglyphs. They also found other fragments associated with the sculpture of a falcon. In addition, archaeologists retrieved parts of an obelisk, including its pyramidion, and a blank round-top stela.
Nilsson said that during excavations, the team also discovered a smaller piece, of another ram-headed sphinx; probably the work of an apprentice.

New Kingdom workshop discovered in Egypt's Gebel el-Silsila
Fragment of winged solar disk [Credit: The Gebel el-Silsila Project 2019]
New Kingdom workshop discovered in Egypt's Gebel el-Silsila
Part of the cartouche of Amenhotep III (Neb-Maat-Re) [Credit: The Gebel el-Silsila Project 2019]
New Kingdom workshop discovered in Egypt's Gebel el-Silsila
Pharaoh wearing the blue crown [Credit: The Gebel el-Silsila Project 2019]

The sculptures are roughly cut and had been prepared for transportation. They likely abandoned at Gebel el-Silsila as the larger sphinx broke. Since then, later Roman quarrying activity buried the sphinxes into the soil.

For more information see the Gebel el Silsila Project website

Source: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities [February 26, 2019]



‘Ibiza is different’, genetically

«Ibiza is different.» That is what the hundreds of standard-bearers of the «hippie» movement who visited the Pitiusan Island during the 60s thought, fascinated by its climate and its unexplored nature. What they did not imagine was that the utmost unique feature of the island was in its inhabitants. Now a study led by Francesc Calafell, principal investigator of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE) — a mixed center of the UPF and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) reveals that the genes of Ibiza natives are really different. Yes indeed, the island is unique.

'Ibiza is different', genetically
These are remains of the Phoenician settlement of Sa Caleta (Ibiza) [Credit: UPF]

The piece of work, published in the European Journal of Human Genetics with the collaboration of researchers from the American University of Lebanon and the University of Otago, reveals that current Ibizans come from the Catalan invaders who repopulated the island from the 13th century.

The result seems to conflict with the history of the island, which had been invaded and inhabited by many peoples previously, from the Phoenicians and Carthaginians to the Romans and Arabs. In a previous work — this time led by Zalloua and with the collaboration of Francesc Calafell and Benjamí Costa, Director of the Archaeological Museum of Ibiza -, researchers had already observed that the original settlers, the Phoenicians, did not seem to have much in common with current Ibizans, but had not located the source of their genetic heritage.

«The famine that followed the Franco-Ottoman attack in 1536 along with the epidemic of bubonic plague that struck Ibizan people in 1652 was a major demographic crisis for the island; this would explain the current absence of ancient genetic traits in the islanders, as well as their differentiation, since the current population descends from a small number of survivors of these calamities, «says Simone Biagini, PhD student in Francesc Calafell’s group and first author of the study.

To discover the origin of Ibizan genes, scientists have determined the genetic information of 163 volunteers from 3 regions of Spain (Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands) and have used 69 Spanish samples previously published. To evaluate the connection with the Phoenician genome, samples of ancient DNA from the Phoenician necropolis of Puig des Molins, in Ibiza, and 257 samples of modern DNA from the Middle East and North Africa have been used.

«Although we expected that there was no genetic link with the Phoenicians, the genetic singularity of today’s Ibizan people is very surprising,» says Benjamí Costa, who has collaborated in the genetic analysis of ancient Phoenician samples.

The information on the Ibizan population contributed by the study of Calafell, also a professor at UPF, could shed light on other scenarios where there has been a similar geographical segregation. However, not all Mediterranean islands follow the same pattern: while Ibiza and Sardinia are clearly differentiated populations, Mallorca, Menorca and Sicily peoples are much more similar to mainland inhabitants.

Source: Universitat Pompeu Fabra — Barcelona [February 26, 2019]