Finds from Celtic grave found in Zurich analyzed

The tree coffin burial of a Celtic woman, which was discovered in March 2017 during construction work on the Kern school building, was examined by the Archaeology City of Zurich in an interdisciplinary evaluation. The bones and the unusual burial objects were carefully documented, salvaged, preserved and evaluated. Thus the grave can be assigned to the Late Iron Age around 200 BC. Of the artefacts that have been found, a string of glass beads in particular is unique in its form: it is fastened between two fibulae (clasps) and fitted with precious glass and amber beads.

Finds from Celtic grave found in Zurich analyzed
Reconstruction of the grave with tree coffin [Credit: Amt für Städtebau, City of Zurich]

The now completed interdisciplinary evaluation of the archaeology department of the city of Zurich paints a fairly accurate picture of the deceased. The examination of the skeleton and especially the teeth shows, among other things, that she died at the age of about 40, did little physical work during her lifetime and probably ate a relatively large amount of starchy or sweetened food.

Finds from Celtic grave found in Zurich analyzed
Excavation of a Celtic grave at the Kernschulhaus 2017 [Credit: Office for Urban
Development, City of Zurich]

A specialist determined the order of the layers of clothing on the basis of the textile, fur and leather remains preserved in the tomb. Thus the woman probably wore a dress made of fine sheep’s wool, over it another woollen cloth and a coat made of sheepskin.

Finds from Celtic grave found in Zurich analyzed
Block recovery of the pectoral jewellery with glass beads and fibulae
[Credit: Martin Bachmann, Kantonsarchäologie Zürich]

An isotope analysis also allows statements to be made about the woman’s way of life. She grew up in the region of the present Canton of Zurich, presumably in the Limmat Valley, and was therefore also buried in her region of origin.

Finds from Celtic grave found in Zurich analyzed
Exposed grave with jewellery and grave goods [Credit: Office for Urban
Development, City of Zurich]

The comprehensive investigations into the Celtic woman’s clothing, jewellery and living conditions enabled the archaeologists to create a detailed picture of her life. What could not be attributed directly to archaeological evidence from the grave was derived from findings from other investigations.

Finds from Celtic grave found in Zurich analyzed
Portraits of the Celts from Kernstrasse in Zurich [Credit: Office for Urban
Development, City of Zurich]

The Celtic man, whose grave with sword, shield and lance had already been discovered in 1903 during the construction of the Kern Gymnasium, also had his lifestyle assessed according to the current state of knowledge. His complete warrior equipment also shows him as a high-ranking individual. Since he had also been buried in the same decades as the woman, it is quite possible that the two knew each other.

Finds from Celtic grave found in Zurich analyzed
Reconstruction of the pectoral jewellery with glass beads and fibulae
[Credit: Office for Urban Development, City of Zurich]

The newly discovered grave complements today’s picture of Celtic settlement history in the Zurich area. For a long time, Zurich was regarded as a Roman foundation. Archaeological excavations and evaluations in recent years, however, have provided evidence of a Celtic urban settlement on the Lindenhof Hill dating back to the first half of the 1st century BC, at least half a century before the arrival of the Romans.

Finds from Celtic grave found in Zurich analyzed
Restored objects (belt necklace, bracelet, fibulae, glass and amber beads)
[Credit: Martin Bachmann, Kantonsarchäologie Zürich]

This early city then merged seamlessly into the Roman «Turicum». The two graves at the Kern-Schulhaus are about 100 years older than this first settlement on the Lindenhof and probably belonged to one of several smaller settlements around Zurich, probably in Sihlfeld, which has not yet been discovered.

Source: Office for Urban Development, City of Zurich [trsl. by TANN, July 23, 2019]

TANN

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Iron Age settlement found in Cambridgeshire

Earlier this year, OA East completed a seven-month excavation on the outskirts of Warboys, Cambridgeshire. This 4-hectare site produced late Iron Age, Roman and Saxon remains and hosted a team of volunteers.

Iron Age settlement found in Cambridgeshire
The experts were helped by volunteers from the Warboys Archaeology Group
[Credit: Oxford Archaeology East]

The excavation followed an evaluation of the site which was undertaken by OA East in May 2018. From this, it was suspected that were extensive Roman remains at the site, and the recovery of some characteristic pieces of worked antler and pottery hinted at some post-Roman activity.
Returning for the main excavation later that year, it soon became clear that the site was very rich in later prehistoric and Roman archaeology. These remains included a substantial late Iron Age settlement, containing several roundhouses which, unsurprisingly, had entrances that faced towards the east, therefore, conforming with the broader national trend. Three crouched inhumation burials were also discovered, with the absence of grave goods, and these perhaps form the corporeal remains of those who lived in the settlement.

Iron Age settlement found in Cambridgeshire
Six skeletons were found at the site [Credit: Oxford Archaeology East]

Following the Roman conquest, it appears that the British people living at this settlement were early adopters of Roman pottery. It also seems that there was a reorganisation of the settlement area, with the establishment of a large boundary ditch and the creation of rectangular plots across the, by then abandoned, late Iron Age houses.
Two trackways appear to converge to the west of the excavation area, which was perhaps the centre of the settlement, which now lies beneath the local football club. The more substantial of these trackways had roadside ditches, which were maintained throughout the Roman period, and it therefore seems to represent the principal route in and out of the settlement. It was also clear that throughout the Roman period, this settlement gradually expanded along the line of this arterial route to eventually form a characteristic ‘ladder enclosure’.

Iron Age settlement found in Cambridgeshire
Archaeologists believe the Romans deliberately buried this horse as an offering to the gods
[Credit: Oxford Archaeology East]

As is often the case, the Roman settlement contained abundant evidence for rural activities and industry in the form of kilns, slag, and crucible fragments, copious amounts of pottery wasters, and a very large corn dryer with a 4.6m diameter. Possible ‘craft areas’ defined by cobble surfaces also lay adjacent to the main trackway.
In addition, outside the main occupation area, there was evidence for burial, in the form of both cremations and inhumations, the latter of which comprised six north/south orientated skeletons. It doesn’t end there, however, as we also seem to have stumbled upon a shrine, comprising a circular structure and an associated rectangular enclosure, within which were three neo-natal burials. Other evidence for possible ‘ritual’ activity included the deliberate deposition of cattle skulls within individual pits and ditch terminals.

Iron Age settlement found in Cambridgeshire
A later Roman or early Saxon child was found buried with a bead necklace and bone-carved
hairpin in the shape of an axe [Credit: Oxford Archaeology East]

Interestingly, there was some evidence for later Roman or even early post-Roman activity, as two large rectangular posthole structures were present, which post-dated the main Roman trackway. Three extended east/west-aligned adult inhumations and an accompanying juvenile burial might also date to this period and were buried with a bead necklace and a bone-carved hairpin in the shape of an axe.
However, it is worth noting that activity dating to the fifth and sixth centuries is very rare and, whilst the evaluation produced possible fifth-century pottery, we’ll have to wait to see what the finds specialists come up with regarding the possible continuation of occupation into this period.

Iron Age settlement found in Cambridgeshire
Roman jug found at the site [Credit: Oxford Archaeology East]

Whilst there was no evidence for Saxon structures dating to sixth to seventh centuries, it seems likely that the site was associated with industry or craft production during this period, on the basis of recovered artefacts.

This material included pottery, beads, worked antler, and metalworking residues, much of which came from the upper fills of Roman features. However, after the seventh century, virtually all activity at the site ended and the land was given over to agriculture.

Source: Oxford Archaeology [July 23, 2019]

TANN

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Growing Guts The prettiness of these coloured rings belies…

Growing Guts

The prettiness of these coloured rings belies their serious practical potential. They’re fragments of small intestine that have been grown from stem cells in a laboratory. It’s hoped that such engineered tissues may one day be used to treat short bowel syndrome – a reduction in the length of functional bowel resulting from either surgical removal or disease. Premature babies with underdeveloped gastrointestinal tracts, for example, are prone to short bowel syndrome resulting from necrotising enterocolitis – a condition where parts of the intestine die. While intestinal transplants are one option for treating short bowel syndrome (and the consequent malnutrition), such surgeries come with a risk of transplant rejection. Growing intestine from a patient’s own stem cells avoids such risk and, encouragingly, advances in tissue engineering technology are enabling ever-larger pieces of intestine to be grown in culture. This once futuristic treatment idea is therefore becoming increasingly feasible.

Written by Ruth Williams

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