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Find of the week!

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We’ve had another exciting find from one of our evaluations this week!

This semi-complete urn, with decoration which commonly occurs on middle and middle-late Bronze Age pottery, and also (although less commonly) on post Deverel-Rimbury late Bronze Age pottery, contained a cremation along with these two copper-alloy objects.

One of these, a hollow hexagonal tube approximately 15mm long, appears to have been cast, and may be part of an implement such as a socketed axe or small socketed hammer. The second item, a flat, irregularly shaped piece of plate scrap, measures approximately 31mm across at the widest point and has a rectangular cross-section; this item was recovered from near the base of the vessel and will require further analysis for a more precise identification.

The association of the urn with an adjacent ring ditch is unlikely to be coincidental and the vessel may turn out to be one of a number of such deposits on the site in which other metalwork has been buried. We’ll keep you updated if this turns out to be the case!

Rooted Cities Wandering Gods 2021

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This conference will be held from 18-20 November in Groningen as a hybrid event, where participants can attend in person or online; click here for more details.

Meagan Mangum, one of our newer staff members, will be giving a talk on 18th November:

‘Identity and Oisyme: Greco-Thracian Cult in the Archaic North Aegean’

On the south side of Eleutheres Bay in Northern Greece, stands a small hill crowned with boulders. In the Archaic and Classical Periods, it was the acropolis of Oisyme, a sub-colony of the Thasos, itself colonised from Paros in the late 7th century BC. Identified as the Homeric Aisyme home of Casteniera, wife of Priam and mother of Gorgythion, the site was occupied from the Early Iron Age (EIA) on. We have no concrete name for the specific tribe, people or settlement of this era, just the vague appellation ‘Thracian’. The Archaic/Classical era deity worshiped there is also uncertain, although dedications and spatial organisation suggest a female deity with kotouphoric, chthonic attributes. Excavators suggested the deity may Athena Poliochos based on parallels to her Sanctuary at Thasos. Recent research at Thasos, however, offers an alternative interpretation based on pre-colonial Thracian practices, such as those seen at the urban Temples of Heracles and Artemis. A similar practice may have occurred at nearby Neapolis where the Parthenos, identified as a Hellenized version of the Thracian Artemis or Bendis, was the primary deity. The use and preservation of pre-colonial structures at Oisyme through the Roman era tied the settlement to its fictional and physical past and suggests a similar blending of Greek and Thracian practice. Locally such a merger could have aided the populations to construct a single, coherent polis identity, the Oisymians of ‘deep-soiled Thrace’ (Iliad 11.222). Seen from a micro-regional level, this activity may provide evidence of a shared religious practice that bound the members of the Thasian Peraia into a supra-civic community. This paper argues that the Oisymian acropolis, when viewed diachronically, demonstrates a complex semiotics that communicated shaped their self-perception as citizens and worshippers.

Find of the week!

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A wonderful find from one of our sites yesterday!

This complete German Frechen stoneware Bartmann (or Bellarmine) jug has a benign face and a medallion with an unknown coat of arms. It dates from c. 1580-90 and was used for serving alcohol (probably ale).

Complete examples of these jugs are more frequent finds than other post-medieval pots because they are a robust stoneware and were often used as witch bottles buried whole, containing nails, hair, urine and other items. Witch bottles were usually buried on the threshold of homes and used to trap and stop evil spirits entering the home. Examination of the contents will reveal whether this is the case with this example!

The faces on Bartmann (which is German for ‘bearded man’) jugs may be a derivation of the green man motif.

Before Bedale: a talk

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Dr James Gerrard will be giving a talk in the Ballroom at Bedale Hall, on Friday 29th October 2021 at 7pm, on the results of our excavations ahead of the Bedale, Aiskew and Leeming Bar bypass in North Yorkshire. A selection of artefacts will be on display.

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