Category Archives: FRANCE

Remarkable Paleolithic Sculpture Discovered in the Famous Cave of Foissac

Remarkable Paleolithic Sculpture Discovered in the Famous Cave of Foissac

A fascinating and unique Paleolithic sculpture of a figurine carved from a large bovine bone and with unusual designs engraved in it was discovered in the well-known cave of Foissac in Aveyron, France.

According to Le Figaro , the cave, which is closed to the public from October to June, still contains many mysteries, including the newest discovery – the sculpture, which is one of the most mysterious findings of the last years.

During the prehistoric era, people created a unique style of art, which was also perhaps a way of expressing information. It was carved in a bone of an auroch or bison with a flint tool. One part of the sculpture was polished with an unidentified tool.

The figurine was analyzed by an expert from La Direction régionale des affaires culturelles. The researchers believe that it was made 20,000 years ago. It depicts a human who appears to be holding something, possibly a baby.

Most sculptures from this period depict animals, so to find a figurine is quite rare. The statue is very well preserved, which is surprising considering that it was submerged in water for many centuries.

The newly-discovered Paleolithic figurine

The major problem with the analysis of such artifacts is that there are no historical sources to explain the meaning behind the art of Paleolithic people. Researchers may only speculate.  Du Fayet de La Tour believes that the sculpture is a woman carrying a child or an animal.

 It has also been suggested that some of the patterned marks may represent prehistoric tattoos. However, more analysis is needed. They hope that future discoveries will bring answers to the most intriguing questions the sculpture poses.

It is similar to the case of another artifact discovered in the cave La Roche-Cotard in the territory of Langeais, France. It is a piece of flat flint that may have been shaped by the hands of a Neanderthal who once lived near.

Many people see a face in this artifact, which they call one of the oldest pieces of art on Earth. The Mask of la Roche-Cotard , also called the “Mousterian Proto-figurine”, was discovered in 1975 and re-examined in 2003 by Jean-Claude Marquet, curator of the Museum of Prehistory of Grand-Pressigny, and Michel Lorblanchet, a director of research in the French National Centre of Scientific Research, Roc des Monges, at Saint-Sozy.

The mask of La Roche-Cotard at Langeais in Indre-et-Loire (France).

The mask is about 10 cm (3.94 inches) tall, and not very well preserved. It is dated to about 35,000 years old, thus created during the Mousterian period. This was a time when Neanderthals seemed to be quite advanced and creative.

However, they still lived in caves and it is believed that their lives were primarily focused on daily survival. In fact, we don’t know what sources of entertainment they preferred, if they played games, or even how they sounded when they spoke.

The most useful messages for researchers today have been found painted and carved on stones.

Well-Preserved Remains of Two Vesuvius Victims Found in Pompeii

Well-Preserved Remains of Two Vesuvius Victims Found in Pompeii

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., a wealthy man of 30 or 40 and a younger enslaved man survived the immediate impact, only to die in a second volcanic blast the following day.

Archaeologists made plaster casts of the pair, who are thought to be a high-status older man and a younger enslaved individual.

Two millennia later, reports Angela Giuffrida for the Guardian, archaeologists excavating a villa on the outskirts of the ancient Roman city have found the pair’s remains, eerily frozen in their final death throes.

Based on traces of the older man’s clothing, which included a woolen cloak, researchers from the Archaeological Park of Pompeii say he was probably a person of high status. The body of the younger man, aged 18 to 25, had several compressed vertebrae, suggesting he was a manual laborer.

Likely enslaved by his companion, the second individual wore a short, pleated tunic possibly made out of wool. The team found the remains in an underground corridor of the ruined structure beneath more than six feet of ash.

“The victims were probably looking for shelter in the cryptoporticus, in this underground space, where they thought they were better protected,” Massimo Osanna, director general of the archaeological park, tells the Associated Press’ Frances D’Emilio.

Instead, the duo died in a rush of heat and volcanic debris that flowed into the building

“It is a death by thermal shock, as also demonstrated by their clenched feet and hands,” Osanna tells Angelo Amante of Reuters.

Archaeologists preserved the newly discovered remains using a variation of a technique developed by Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli in 1863.

The process involves pouring liquid chalk into cavities left by decomposing bodies; this plaster fills gaps in preserved bones and teeth, creating a cast of the bodies as they looked at the moment of death.

The bodies were found under more than six feet of ash in a ruined villa.
A close-up view of one of the victim’s clenched hands
A close-up view of one of the victim’s clenched hands

“It is impossible to see those deformed figures, and not feel moved,” wrote Italian author Luigi Settembrini in his 1863 “Letter to the Pompeians,” as quoted in a statement from the archaeological park.

“They have been dead for eighteen centuries, but they are human beings seen in their agony. This is not art, it is not imitation; these are their bones, the remains of their flesh and their clothes mixed with plaster, it is the pain of death that takes on body and form.”

Pompeii now contains the bodies of more than 100 people preserved as plaster casts. Osanna tells the Times that the technique captured fascinating details of the newly discovered bodies, including the “extraordinary drapery” of their wool garments.

“They really look like statues,” he says.

The new find is located in Civita Giuliana, about 750 yards northwest of Pompeii’s city walls. The villa is on private property, and government-commissioned excavations only began there in 2017, when archaeologists stepped in to help prevent looters from tunneling into the site and stealing artifacts.

This isn’t the first impressive find made at the villa: In 2018, archaeologists unearthed the preserved remains of three horses, still saddled and harnessed as if ready to depart at a moment’s notice. Research teams also found a whole street of large houses lined with balconies.

The ruins of Pompeii, a city of about 13,000 people at the time of its destruction, have fascinated people around the world for centuries. Roman magistrate Pliny the Younger, who witnessed the destruction from a neighboring city, described it as “an extraordinary and alarming” scene.

Spanish king Charles III of Bourbon began the first official excavations of the site in 1748. Work has continued ever since. (Launched in 2012, the $140 million Great Pompeii Project seeks to conduct the most extensive scientific investigation of the site to date.)

The preserved city, with its inhabitants forever caught in the middle of daily activities, has yielded much information about life in ancient Rome, from Pompeiians’ culinary habits to their fertility and love rituals.

Archaeologists Unearth Egyptian Queen’s Tomb, 13-Foot ‘Book of the Dead’ Scroll

Archaeologists Unearth Egyptian Queen’s Tomb, 13-Foot ‘Book of the Dead’ Scroll

Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed a cache of treasures—including more than 50 wooden sarcophagi, a funerary temple dedicated to an Old Kingdom queen and a 13-foot-long Book of the Dead scroll—at the Saqqara necropolis, a vast burial ground south of Cairo, according to a statement from the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiques.

Researchers have identified a pyramid in the vast Saqqara necropolis as the tomb of King Teti’s wife, Queen Naert.

As first reported by Al-Ahram, Egyptologist Zahi Hawass and his colleagues discovered the coffins, which appear to date back to the New Kingdom era (1570–1069 B.C.), in 52 burial shafts measuring 33 to 40 feet deep.

Paintings of ancient gods and excerpts from the Book of the Dead, which was thought to help the deceased navigate the afterlife, adorn the sarcophagi.

Hawass tells CBS News’ Ahmed Shawkat that researchers first started excavating the site, which stands next to the pyramid of King Teti, first of the Sixth Dynasty rulers of the Old Kingdom (2680–2180 B.C.), in 2010.

“[B]ut we didn’t find a name inside the pyramid to tell us who the pyramid belonged to,” he adds.

Now, reports Agence France-Presse, experts have finally identified the complex—which boasts a stone temple and three mud-brick warehouses that housed offerings and tools—as the tomb of Teti’s wife, Queen Naert.

Around a month ago, the team found Naert’s name etched onto a wall in the temple and written on a felled obelisk near the entrance of the burial, per CBS News.

“I’d never heard of this queen before,” Hawass says to CBS News. “Therefore, we add an important piece to Egyptian history, about this queen.”

One of the artifacts discovered at Saqqara
Another artifact discovered at the excavation site
A papyrus scroll containing the text of Chapter 17 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead
Researchers say the coffins likely hold the remains of members of a Teti-worshipping cult.

According to the statement, this is the first time archaeologists have unearthed 3,000-year-old coffins at Saqqara—one of Egypt’s “richest archaeological sites,” as Jo Marchant wrote for Smithsonian magazine last year. In recent months, excavations at the necropolis have yielded an array of exciting, albeit newer, finds, from sealed sarcophagi to ancient statues.

“Actually, this morning we found another shaft,” Hawass told CBS News on Monday. “Inside the shaft we found a large limestone sarcophagus. This is the first time we’ve discovered a limestone sarcophagus inside the shafts. We found another one that we’re going to open a week from now.”

The coffins found in the burial shafts probably hold the remains of followers of a Teti-worshipping cult formed after the pharaoh’s death, writes Owen Jarus .

Experts think that the cult operated for more than 1,000 years; members would have considered it an honor to be entombed near the king.

Other highlights of the discovery include a set of wooden masks; a shrine to the god Anubis; bird-shaped artifacts; games including Senet, which was believed to offer players a glimpse into the afterlife; a bronze ax; paintings; hieroglyphic writings; and fragments of a 13-foot-long, 3-foot-wide papyrus containing Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead.

The name of the scroll’s owner, Pwkhaef, is inscribed on the papyrus, as well as on one sarcophagus and four sculptures, according .

These finds, notes the statement, as translated by CNN’s Amy Woodyatt, “will rewrite the history of this region, especially during the 18th and 19th dynasties of the New Kingdom, during which King Teti was worshiped, and the citizens at that time were buried around his pyramid.”

French Archaeologists Make ‘Unprecedented Discovery’ of What May Be the Remains of a Roman-Era Mausoleum

French Archaeologists Make ‘Unprecedented Discovery’ of What May Be the Remains of a Roman-Era Mausoleum

The apparent funerary monument was unearthed in Néris-les-Bains, a Roman colony in the 1st century C.E.

In what archaeologists are hailing “an unprecedented discovery” for the region, the remains of a set of Gallo-Roman buildings—including what might be a funerary monument—have been excavated in a residential district in Néris-les-Bains, a town in Auvergne, France.

General view of the excavation site.

Undertaken by a team from the French National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP), the dig located the remnants of a group of structures delimited by a road.

They include two buildings with a partially legible plan, two others represented by walls with tiles bound in lime mortar, and a pipe network. The northwestern segment of the plot houses a large pit. 

It was close to this pit that archaeologists uncovered a number of relics that have helped date the site to the Gallo-Roman period from the 1st to 5th century.

The archaeologists clearing relics at the Néris-les-Bains site.

They include a fragment of a modillion, an elaborate cornice that would have decorated the top structure of buildings, and a pilaster, a rectangular column carved with interlocking leaves and topped by a figurine.

A conical architectural element measuring some 55 inches in diameter was also found, its surface carved with scales and its back holding an anathyrosis frame, indicating it was meant to be joined to a similar piece as part of a circular spire. 

More notable is the discovery of 21 sandstone blocks—“a big surprise,” Marie-Laure Thierry, head of the operation at INRAP, told La Montagne. Once cleaned with water and a sponge, archaeologists found they were adorned with bas-reliefs that “have an unprecedented character for Néris-les-Bains, even for Auvergne,” added Thierry.

The most “representative” relief, according to the team, is a frieze fragment, measuring about 27 by seven inches, which portrays Triton, Greek god of the sea, with his arms spread, hair long, and tentacles ending in palm leaves. He is flanked on his right by a horse (or more probably, a seahorse), with only its two front legs visible. 

The sandstone blocks showing bas-reliefs of a possible mausoleum at the archaeological center of Clermont-Ferrand.

The combination of the frieze, the conical spire (with scales recalling the sea god), and the ornate cornice have led researchers to associate the finds with mausoleums that were constructed in the 1st and 2nd centuries.

The motif depicting a figure from Greek and Roman mythology, in particular, symbolizes the journey of blessed individuals into the afterlife. “It was certainly not the tomb of ordinary mortals,” said Thierry of the monument. 

Other comparable funerary structures have been identified in Auvergne, from Aulnat to Mont-Dore, where similar artifacts representing Triton were found.

The INRAP team plans to carry out detailed studies of the architectural blocks to support its early hypothesis and further illuminate the history of Néris-les-Bains.

The town, best known for its thermal baths (its name derives from Nérios, Gallic god of the spring), was colonized by Rome in the early centuries—a period borne out by the number of Roman and Gallic ruins and relics, including an amphitheater, that have been excavated in the area since the 19th century. 

According to INRAP, the recent discovery of the settlement and its artifacts could well open “a new window on the occupation of this peripheral and little-known sector of the ancient agglomeration of Néris-les-Bains.”


Metal detectorist unearths stunning £15,000 gold hat pin from 1485 which may have belonged to King Edward IV

In a region in Lincolnshire, England, a metal detector discovered a silver hat pin from the 15th century.

It is thought that the jewel belonged to Edward IV, a prince who was known in the Wars of the Roses for both his good looks and his spectacular achievements.

The ring is estimated as being worth as much as $18,000. Lisa Grace, 42, an amateur detectorist, discovered the medieval jewel, which is in pristine condition.

“It is believed the pin is linked to royalty as Edward IV and his circle wore strikingly similar pieces during his two reigns as King from 1460 until his end in 1483,” wrote the Daily Mail.

“The jewel is designed as a sun in splendor — the personal emblem of Edward IV.”

The piece may have been lost in battle.

A metal detectorist has unearthed a gold hatpin that may have links to King Edward IV and is worth £15,000. Lisa Grace spotted the Medieval jewel while searching a recently-ploughed field in Lincolnshire

Other clues to its royal ownership: At the center of the piece is a purple amethyst stone, another of Edward IV’s favorites. The pin closely resembles a jewel depicted on Edward IV’s hat in a portrait preserved in The Museum Calvet in Avignon, France.

Grace said she was stunned at her discovery, just a few inches below the surface. “When I found it, the jewel wasn’t far under the ground at all as the field had recently been ploughed,” she said to the media.

Specialists say they have been experiencing “early interest from both collectors and museums and are expecting offers between £10,000 and £15,000.”

Edward IV of England meets with Louis XI of France at Picquigny to affirm the Treaty of Picquigny

An official from Duke’s Auctioneers said: “The jewel does bear a striking resemblance to the one in a well-known portrait of Edward IV from the Musee Calvet.” But he also said that it could have belonged to a courtier.

“The fact is we shall never know, but it clearly belonged to someone of high status in the upper echelons of medieval society.” Edward IV was not born the son of a king but was the oldest son of Richard, Duke of York, descended from Edward III.

Richard and his supporters came into conflict with Henry VI, the Lancaster ruler who was widely derided for his weak character and suffered from at least one complete mental breakdown.

King Edward IV

Richard of York served as regent during Henry VI’s incapacity. He died when Edward was in his teens and Edward became the claimant of the throne as the Yorks attempted to assume leadership of England through defeating the Lancasters in battle. Edward IV was made a king of England on March 4, 1461.

Weeks after declaring himself king, he challenged the Lancasters in the Battle of Towton. It was one of the bloodiest battles in English history, with nearly 30,000 dead, and Edward won, even though the Lancaster army had more men. In battles, Edward IV was an inspiring and able general.

Battle of Towton

Edward was over six feet tall and considered very handsome. The Croyland Chronicler described Edward as “a person of most elegant appearance and remarkable beyond all others for the attractions of his person.” He was interested in creating a fashionable and glamorous court.

His chief supporters wanted him to make a dynastic marriage but he fell in love with a beautiful widow, Elizabeth Woodville, and made her queen. She was highly unpopular, and Edward lost his throne to a resurgent Lancaster force for a time. After more battles, he was made king again in 1471.

Edward IV, line engraving by Simon François Ravenet. National Portrait Gallery, London

After this comeback, Edward IV ruled until his sudden demise from illness in 1483. He had become overweight and devoted to his mistresses.

When he passed, his oldest son was only 12, and Richard III, Edward’s younger brother, usurped the throne. Edward’s two sons were both imprisoned in the Tower of London and disappeared from public view.

Edward IV’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth of York, married Henry VII, the Lancaster claimant who vanquished Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth. Their son, Henry VIII, resembled his grandfather, Edward IV, in his height and some say his character. The present queen, Elizabeth II, is directly descended from Edward IV.

Remains of a 2,100-year-old Gallo-Roman worship complex found in France

Remains of a 2,100-year-old Gallo-Roman worship complex found in France

A large temple possibly used by Roman soldiers for hundreds of years has been unearthed by archaeologists in northwest France. Archaeologists in northwest France have unearthed what may have been a temple to the Roman war god Mars, dating to the first century B.C. 

An artist’s depiction of the temple or cult sanctuary at La Chapelle-des-Fougeretz as it would have looked in the first century A.D.

The temple, or sanctuary, is part of a Roman complex spread over more than 17 acres (7 hectares) that was discovered last year at La Chapelle-des-Fougeretz, Brittany, and was probably visited by Roman soldiers posted to the region.

“The size of the sanctuary indicates it was an important place for religion,” Françoise Labaune-Jean, one of the directors of the excavations and an archaeologist at the National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP), told Live Science.

La Chapelle-des-Fougeretz has been recognized for its wealth of archaeological remains since the 1970s, and it was first excavated in the 1990s, Labaune-Jean said. The latest excavations started in 2022.

The site is slightly elevated, with a commanding view of the Rennes basin. This viewpoint makes it “likely that religious ceremonies gathered here from Condate [the Roman city in the basin] and the surrounding area,” Labaune-Jean said in an email.

The sanctuary site near the city of Rennes in Brittany was slightly elevated and overlooked the entire region.

Roman war god

Archaeologists believe the site was dedicated to Mars after discovering a bronze statuette of the Roman war god in 2022, while iron weapons deposited in a ditch around the sanctuary also suggest that it was frequented by soldiers.

The discovery in 2022 of a bronze figurine of the Roman war god Mars indicates he was one of the deities worshipped at the sanctuary

But a large number of terracotta figurines, perhaps representing Venus and mother goddesses, were also found in a nearby pit.

“As is often the case with religious buildings of antiquity, it is difficult to know which deity they may have been dedicated to,” Labaune-Jean said, noting that no inscriptions or large statues have been found at the site. “When the study of the objects discovered there is more advanced, it will perhaps be possible to propose other complementary deities.”

These bronze handles for a bronze bowl are decorated with eagles, a symbol of Rome and the legions of the Roman army.

Julius Caesar conquered Brittany — called “Armorica” by the Romans — in 56 B.C.

The sanctuary at La Chapelle-des-Fougeretz seems to date from close to that time and was used until the fifth century A.D., according to a statement from INRAP. 

The archaeologists aren’t sure why the complex was abandoned, but it may be linked with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire at about that time.

Temple complex

The many coins found at the sanctuary site are a mixture of Roman and local Gallic money.

The temple complex expanded over time to include a small town with public baths and a cemetery containing about 40 tombs.

Some of the tombs held items made of silver, such as bracelets, pins and belt buckles, while another had a dagger and parts of a harness for horses. Hundreds of everyday artifacts have also been unearthed there, including furniture and pieces of pottery, glass and metal.

Labaune-Jean role is to quickly preserve and study artifacts unearthed during the excavations, which might otherwise deteriorate quickly when exposed to air or light. X-rays and computerized 3D imaging are also being used to document the discoveries, she said.

Eric Norde, an archaeologist with the Dutch archaeological agency RAAP, who is excavating(opens in new tab) a sanctuary used by Roman soldiers near Zevenaar, Netherlands, said he’s.cautious about assigning the sanctuary at La Chapelle-des-Fougeretz to Mars alone. 

That’s because the Zevenaar sanctuary shows that Roman temples were often associated with several deities. “When you look only at the sculptures and the weapons and military equipment, one would conclude only Hercules was venerated,” he told Live Science. 

But careful research shows instead that several different gods were worshiped there. “It is quite dangerous to assign a deity to a sanctuary based only on the finds,” and not inscriptions or texts, he said.

Bows Were Being Used in Europe 40,000 Years Earlier Than We Thought

Bows Were Being Used in Europe 40,000 Years Earlier Than We Thought

A cave in southern France has revealed evidence of the first use of bows and arrows in Europe by modern humans some 54,000 years ago, far earlier than previously known.

The research, published on Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, pushes back the age of archery in Europe by more than 40,000 years.

The use of the bow-and-arrow in Africa has been documented to date back some 70,000 years.

But the oldest previous evidence of archery in Europe was the discovery of bows and arrows in peat bogs of Northern Europe, notably Stellmoor in Germany, dating back 10,000 to 12,000 years.

The new research comes from the Mandrin rock shelter overlooking the middle valley of the Rhone River in southern France.

The Grotte Mandrin site, which was first excavated in 1990, includes layer upon layer of archaeological remains dating back over 80,000 years.

The researchers who conducted the latest study have documented previously that Neanderthals and their modern “cousins” – Homo sapiens – alternated in inhabiting the Mandrin cave.

A level known as “Layer E” has been attributed to the presence of Homo sapiens some 54,000 years ago and is interposed between layers of numerous Neanderthal occupations.

The researchers conducted a functional analysis of flint artifacts found in Layer E that were more finely executed than the points and blades in the layers above and below.

Tiny flint points were key because other elements of archery technology such as wood, fibers, leather, resins and sinew are perishable and rarely preserved in European Paleolithic sites.

Too light to be efficient

For the study, the researchers reproduced the tiny flint points found in the cave, some of which are smaller than a US penny, and fired them as arrowheads with a replica bow at dead animals.

“We couldn’t throw them at the animals any other way than with a bow because they were too tiny and too light to be efficient,” said Laure Metz of Aix Marseille University, a co-author of the study along with Ludovic Slimak of the University of Toulouse.

“We had to use this kind of propulsion,” Metz told AFP. “The only way that it was working was with a bow.”

Fractures on the flint points were compared with scars found on the artifacts found in the cave, proving undoubtedly that they were used as arrowheads, the researchers said.

“Fractures for a lot of them, not all, were fractures of impact,” Metz said. “And they are coming at the end of the point.”

Metz said the evidence suggests that the Neanderthals and the Homo sapiens who used in the cave likely met at some point although “we don’t know the nature of the meeting, whether it was nice or not.”

The Neanderthals who inhabited the Mandrin site continued to use traditional weapons, however, such as thrusted or hand-thrown spears and did not develop mechanically propelled weapons, she said.

“The traditions and technologies mastered by these two populations were thus profoundly distinct, illustrating a remarkable objective technological advantage to modern populations during their expansion into the European continent,” the researchers said.

Metz said the occupants of the cave would have typically hunted horses, bison and deer and animal bones have been found inside.

Bones of Handless Man Found Near Mysterious Medieval Dolphin Burial

Bones of Handless Man Found Near Mysterious Medieval Dolphin Burial

The body of a man without hands thought to have been buried hundreds of years ago has been found by archaeologists on a rocky islet off the coast of Guernsey, one of the British Channel Islands – just a few feet from where a mysterious medieval skeleton of a dolphin was found last year.

Phil De Jersey, a Guernsey government archaeologist, said the skeleton of the handless man appeared to have been buried much later than the baffling burial of that dolphin skeleton on the same islet, and therefore the two burials probably aren’t related. But he said that the latest find added much to the mystery of the rocky islet of Chapelle Dom Hue.

The islet lies about 900 feet (300 meters) from the west coast of Guernsey, overlooking the sea and the stones of a Neolithic burial ground on the mainland of the island.

The human remains appear to have been buried several hundred years ago on the islet of Chapelle Dom Hue.

Though Chapelle Dom Hue is only about 50 feet (10 m) across today – so small that the sea at high tide cuts it into two pieces – archaeologists say it was once larger; during the medieval period, the islet was home to a colony of a few reclusive Christian monks, they said.

The archaeological team first thought the skeleton found this year might have been that of a monk who had suffered from leprosy, which might account for the missing wrists and hands, De Jersey told Live Science.

But some details of the remains of the man’s clothes — especially the shirt buttons — made the researchers think that the body was buried in the 16th or 17th century, well after Chapelle Dom Hue was occupied by monks.”Our working hypothesis at the moment is that this is a drowning, or a body washed up,” De Jersey said.

“It was given a quick but relatively respectful Christian burial at the spot where it got washed up on that island.”

Dolphin Burial

Last year, De Jersey reported that his team had found a dolphin skeleton that appeared to have been buried on the island sometime during the Middle Ages when monks had lived there.

The carefully buried skeleton perplexed the archaeologists because it might have easily been just dumped in the sea a few yards away, without the trouble of a burial.

The dolphin carcass, De Jersey said, might have been buried with salt to preserve it for eating, and then forgotten; or perhaps it was regarded as a holy animal — although his research has not revealed why a dolphin would be regarded as holy at that time and place.

The human remains were buried only about 30 feet from the mysterious skeleton of a dolphin, found last year, that had been buried sometime in the Middle Ages.

Subsequent studies of the dolphin skeleton tended to confirm that it was buried on the islet in the early 1400s, but no further light had been shed on the mysterious burial, he told Live Science.

The human burial on the island had come to light in the last few months as a small cliff had weathered away, about 30 feet (10 m) from the site where the dolphin skeleton had been found, he said. Eventually, the weathering revealed the upper part of the foot and toe bones.

Archaeologists then excavated the site and found the remains of a man about 5 feet tall, but without any hands or wrist bones.

Mystery Man

De Jersey now thinks the human body washed up on the islet and was buried there sometime in the 1500s or 1600s.

The hands of bodies that have drifted at sea are often eaten by fish; in fact, the skull of the body showed signs of damage that could have happened when it drifted up among rocks on the shore. The lower part of the left arm is also missing, but “the feet have survived relatively well, perhaps because it had some sort of footwear,” he said.

Archaeologists think the remains may be of a seaman who drowned and floated at sea before being washed up on the islet.

The archaeological team will try to get a radiocarbon date on the skeleton, but the remains of a few buttons on his shirt suggest that it was later than the medieval period.”

Buttons in the early medieval period were quite rare and unusual, and these look to me like something later that might have been part of a sailor’s dress,” he said.

So far, the dolphin and human skeletons are the only skeletal remains found in the islet of Chapelle Dom Hue, but De Jersey won’t rule out the possibility that there still may be bones to find: “There is not a huge amount of space over there left to find more things, but who knows?”

“There was a little bit of excavation done there by an archaeologist in the 1890s,” De Jersey said. “He wrote about it, and said that he didn’t think it was worth going back there again because there was nothing more to be said about the place — and I quite like that because, really, how wrong could he be?”

Magnificent Mosaics Discovered in “Lost” Roman City

Magnificent Mosaics Discovered in “Lost” Roman City

Hidden for centuries, mosaic floors from the lost Roman city of Ucetia have been uncovered in France.

A large excavation is underway in the town of Uzès in southern France to unearth more of the remains of this ancient Roman settlement, the existence of which archaeologists had only hints of until the dig.

The nearby city of Nîmes is more famous for its Roman history, largely thanks to the A.D. 70 amphitheater, where events, including bullfights, still take place. Less is known about Uzès, once called Ucetia.

But before the construction of dormitories for a high school there, archaeologists were brought in to investigate a 43,000 square-foot (4,000 square meters) area for pieces of the city’s history.

The French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) announced that the dig has so far been very fruitful.

Some of the walls and structures that were uncovered date to just before the Roman conquest of present-day France (called Gaul at the time).

But the most visually stunning finds are the well-preserved Roman-era mosaic floors with richly colored patterns and figures.

The archaeologists found one large structure, 2,700 square feet (250 square meters) in area, with a colonnade that suggests it was a public building, and four rooms in a row.

One of those large rooms contains a complex mosaic pavement with geometric patterns like meanders and swastikas, as well as symbols like crowns and chevrons, and animals like an owl, duck, eagle and fawn.

The archaeologists think this building dates to the first century B.C. and was maintained until the first century A.D.

In another area at the site, the archaeologists unearthed a”domus,” or a large house belonging to a wealthy Roman family. This building sprawls over 5,380 square feet (500 square meters) and dates to the early Roman Empire (first century B.C.).

A room in this family home has a mosaic floor with a geometric pattern, accompanied by stylized dolphins in the four corners.

The home also had a type of central heating system; archaeologists found a “hypocaust,” or a crawl space supported by brick columns where hot air would have circulated. And several “dolia,” or huge ceramic wine vessels, were found there, suggesting the inhabitants might have drunk homemade wine.

The 1.5 million euro ($1.6 million) dig is ongoing, and, according to INRAP, the archaeologists have recently begun excavating another large area of ancient and medieval ruins, including two roads and an intersection.

Display of 4001 Roman coins, more than 50 years after discovery

Display of 4001 Roman coins, more than 50 years after discovery

The Treasure of Garonne, an assemblage of 4001 Roman coins that went down with a shipwreck in the 2nd century A.D., has gone on display at the Museum of Aquitaine Bordeux.

This is the first time all 4001 coins have been exhibited to the public. The coins are sestertii made of orichalcum, a brass-like alloy of zinc and copper, ranging in date from the reign of the Emperor Claudius (41-54 A.D.) to that of Antoninus Pius (138-161 A.D.). It is the largest and most significant Roman coin treasure in France.

The first coins from the treasure were discovered accidentally in 1965 during dredging works on the Garonne river.

Former University of Bordeaux professor Robert Étienne recognized that there were likely more coins to be found and organized a series of systematic excavations at several sites on the river over the next six years.

Coins have continued to turn up in the decades since, donated by individuals and institutions, some even found at private constructions sites trapped in sand from the Garonne that was being used as aggregate.

One of the museum’s conservators found a coin when he was a child and he donated it so it could join its brethren in the comprehensive exhibition.

The most recent donation of an orichalcum coin from the Treasure of the Garonne was just last month.

Charred pieces of wood found in the initial discovery indicate the coins were on a merchant ship traveling upriver from Burdigala (modern-day Bordeaux) between 170 and 176 A.D.

The vessel caught fire and sank with its cargo, including thousands of orichalcum sestertii, many of which were visibly altered by contact with the fire.

Estimates based on the ship’s cargo size suggests as many as 800 coins are still unaccounted for, snapped up by souvenir hunters during the initial find, embedded in the sediment still on the river bed or inadvertently built into random walls.

Recording and studying the massive number of coins has taken decades, which is why the complete treasure has never been on display until now.

The coins have been invaluable in answering questions about the composition of orichalcum, particularly its zinc content and how it changed from the first century to the end of the second.