Daily Dose of Archaeology: 5.0

Haesten

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,869
The Inconvenient Coin: Dating the Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum

The Inconvenient Coin: Dating the Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum

"Cassius Dio directly states that the disaster took place “towards the end of the harvesting season” (the harvest began in October), a 1508 translation of Pliny’s letters settled on an August date for the disaster and the rest is history."
 
Likes: Scaeva
Aug 2017
35
Zadar
Westminster Abbey, the traditional place of coronation and burial for English monarchs, is one of the most popular historic sites in England. During a recent excavation in the great Abbey, some fifty skeletons were uncovered from the 11th and 12th century crammed together beneath a lavatory block. The discovery may provide experts with an insight into the history of medieval England and especially the late Anglo-Saxon and the early Norman periods.
Ancient-Skeletons-found.jpg

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Ancient Skeletons Found - Westminster Abbey
 
Likes: Carolus

Lowell2

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,541
California
. Population densities and settlements also increased in size with the emergence of the first mega-settlements (6,100–5,400 BP) in the current territory of Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine. These settlements were built by a population known as the Trypillia Culture (6,800–5,000 BP) and could host between 10,000 and 20,000 people, about an order of magnitude larger and with more complex organization than in any preceding period ( Müller et al., 2016 ). Indeed, the archaeological record of these sites shows signs of labor division and specialization ( Korvin-Piotrovskiy et al., 2016 ) and high densities of humans and animals living in close contact with each other, which would have generated high demands of food and resources ( Kirleis and Dal Corso, 2016 ) and also favorable conditions for the emergence of infectious diseases. ... Neolithic cultures throughout Europe went through a period of population decline ( Hinz et al., 2012 , Shennan et al., 2013 ). The reasons for this are debated (Downey et al., 2016
). The most accepted explanations for the collapse of mega-settlements are environmental overexploitation, with a decrease or even extinction of forests and the expansion of steppe environment and/or a confrontation with foraging Steppe populations ( Anthony, 2007 Kirleis and Dreibrodt, 2016 ). On the other hand, the emergence of infectious diseases is a possible third contributing factor to the decline. ..Unexpectedly, we found the unambiguous presence of Yersinia pestis, the etiological agent of plague, in two different individuals, dated to ∼4,900 BP. These individuals were slightly older than the most ancient known Y. pestis infections, which were reported in ancient human populations of the Eurasian Steppe ( Emergence and Spread of Basal Lineages of Yersinia pestis
 
I have just been reading a book called "The Fall of Rome", which basically points the finger at environmental factors, including large-scale pathogen outbreaks, seriously affecting the fortunes of the Roman Empire. It says that the Antonine plague of the 160s, which cut the population by about a third, was smallpox. But in the late 3rd century there was bubonic plague, caused by Yersinia pestis (at the same time as pagan worship waned and Christianity advanced). That same disease would return many more times, in particular in the middle of Justinian's reign, it was extremely violent, maybe half the population became casualties, and even after it abated, there were further serious outbreaks for centuries afterwards. It is believed to be the reason why the Byzantine empire became so seriously weakened, so it was unable to hold on to its territories.
 

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