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A lucky metal detectorist has found a huge Bronze Age gold torc or circular belt that is being called the greatest archaeological find in England for more than 100 years, says a story about the find in The Guardian. The torc is almost pure gold, and experts believe it was fashioned more than 3,000 years ago.
The article says an expert believes that the torc or gold ring is so big that a pregnant woman may have worn it around her expansive waist. The person with the metal detector, who is not being named, found the 730-gram (25.75 ounces or 1 pound 9.75 ounces) torc within 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) of Must Farm , a highly important Bronze Age village that burned and was preserved in the peat of a marsh. However, the exact siteor even type of site where the detectorist found the torchas not been identified.
The type of torc resembles one found in 1844 in Grunty Fen, which is not far from Cambridgeshire. That torc, found by a man cutting peat, is in the collection of Cambridge University’s museum of archaeology. The one from 1844, however, was coiled up, unlike the huge torc found recently.
This gold torc, now in Cambridge University’s archaeology museum, was found by a peat cutter in 1844, also near Cambridgeshire, not far from where the latest find was made. ( Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology photo )
Archaeologists reported the discovery to the local finds liaison official Helen Fowler of the Treasure and Portable Antiquities schemes of the British Museum. The Guardian says recent finds of 1,008 treasures and 82,272 archaeological objects have been reported in England and Wales. This latest find is considered a national treasure, not just an archaeological object.
The Guardian reports that Ms. Fowler described herself as “gobsmacked” by the torc when the person who found it produced it from a briefcase. She has handled torcs before, but the most recent one she had touched was sized for a wrist. Most torcs are about the size to fit a neck. But this one was far too big to weigh on her scale, and she had to carry it back to her office from Peterborough Museum, where she had met with the finder.
Neil Wilkin, a curator of the Bronze Age at the British Museum, called the torc’s craftsmanship astonishing and said it apparently was made from a bar of gold, twisted and burnished, its gaps between each twist measured precisely.
The Great Torc, Snettisham, buried around 100 BC. The torc is one of the most elaborate golden objects from the ancient world. It is made from gold mixed with silver and weighs over 1 kg. ( CC by SA 3.0 )
Some bigger torcs are believed to have been worn as belts, but this one is bigger than a huge man’s waist. Wilkin thought maybe this one had been worn by a woman far along in pregnancy as protection or to give an animal about to be sacrificed extra significance. He said this torc is big enough to fit a sheep or a goat.
No torc has ever been found buried with human remains, so it is thought they were associated with life rather than objects to accompany the dead. Throughout history and prehistory all over the world, many valuable goods have been found in graves, but never a torc in the British Isles.
“The torc is still being valued, but it is hoped Ely Museum will acquire it, with the reward shared between finder and landowner,” The Guardian article states. “The slightly shorter and lighter Corrard torc, found in Northern Ireland, was valued at up to £150,000 three years ago.” That is about 187,200 U.S. dollars as of November 2016.
Featured image: A golden torc found by a metal detectorist may be worth upwards of $200,000. ( PA photo by Dominic Lipinski )
By Mark Miller
Ely Museum hopes to acquire gold relic
The museum would need to raise a six-figure-sum to buy the object from the Treasure Scheme.
ELY Museum is keen to acquire a 3,000-year-old gold artefact, unearthed by a metal detectorist.
The gold torc is believed to be one of the best and the largest example of the Bronze Age relic found in England.
Weighing 730 grams of almost pure gold, experts believe the unusually large torc was designed to be worn over winter clothing as a sash, or by a pregnant woman.
It is believed the torc was uncovered on freshly ploughed farmland six miles from Ely.
A similar torc found in the area in 1844 is housed at Cambridge University’s Archaeology Museum.
So valuable is the treasure, the exact location of the find uncovered last year is being kept a secret to dissuade illegal night hawking.
The jewellery is still being valued, but it is expected to reach a six-figure sum.
When the national treasure was assessed, the finds liaison officer sent out an email offering it to Ely Museum, the British Museum and Cambridge University’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Both of the big museums agreed it should be offered to Ely Museum, which now needs help to raise the funds.
Curator of Ely Museum , Elie Hughes, said: “Until it is valued we don’t know how much we need to raise but once it has we will be looking into the different funding schemes that are available.
“The Art Fund has a good one and we’ve used it in the past to acquire things. We’ll be looking into it and certainly be trying to raise funds locally as well.
“I feel it’s really important for local people to get access to their heritage.
“If it is in the British Museum there are not many people who are going to go down to London to look at it, but hopefully if it is in Ely it also means we can show it to local school children.”
Most of the items bought for the museum’s collection, worth up to £300, are paid for by the Friends of The Ely Museum.
The last Bronze Age artefact they acquired through the government Treasure Scheme was "a lovely Bronze Age bracelet" discovered in another East Cambridgeshire farmer’s field in 2011.
As this find is much more valuable, the museum is calling on people who care about local heritage to help raise funds to preserve it for future generations.
Bronze Age artefacts are often found as stray finds in East Anglia, following the tradition of sacrificing objects by throwing them into boggy areas.
The torc is one of 82,272 treasure discoveries made by members of the public in the UK last year, revealed in the Portable Antiquities Scheme annual report.
Other notable finds included a 600 AD Anglo Saxon hanging bowl mount discovered in West Sussex, and a large hoard of 463 silver coin clippings from Gloucestershire thought to have been buried around the time of the "great recoinage" of 1696.
Ancient World Blog
Via Archaeo-News at StonePages.com we have been alerted to a developing story of a fairly recent potentially significant find made in a plowed field in Cambridgeshire, England, United Kingdom.
We reluctantly note as too often typical for mainstream Archaeology that the reports appear to focus predominantly on the 732 grams of almost pure gold that was made to use the torc .
rather than on analytically important torc ESSENTIALS such as the LENGTH of the torc -- a measurement length nowhere to be found in sources thus far published, as far as we can tell.
Accordingly, we had to estimate its length ourselves by using the photographed gloved hands holding the gold torc as a guide, presuming a woman's hand/glove-length of about 6 modern inches and apparently about 7 such hand lengths in the round of the torc for a potential total of somewhere around 42 modern inches as the length of the twisted part of the torc.
The Guardian quotes Neil Wilkin, Bronze Age Europe Curator at the British Museum, as saying that " If you take callipers, and measure the gaps between the twists, they are absolutely spot on accurate. "
WELL, then, why not then take those callipers folks, and count just how many such "spot on accurate" twists there are and what their total length might be. The gold torc in its bent shape may reflect its being carried at the "middle girth" of it's wearer, whoever he or she was. That kind of "spot on accuracy" in its twists would seem unusual for something intended only as a fertility belt
" The torc is thought to have been worn as a belt over clothing, as part of animal sacrifice or even by pregnant women in fertility ceremonies. "
The fertility explanation caught our eye because we subsequently did go to the trouble to count the number of "twists" in the photographs available at the above sources -- a count nowhere found in any of the sources.
By our count there appear to be 270 twists. Why such accurate twists?
That number of 270 could indeed have been intended as the simplified "round number" matching the human pregnancy period as calculated from ovulation to birth, which in modern times has been found to average ca. 268 days, i.e. the 270 days could have marked the human birth period (modernly often set at 280 days as measured, however, from the first day of the woman's last menstrual period, which does not necessarily coincide with the point of impregnation. )
The 270 twists -- assuming a six-inch gloved hand as noted above -- could perhaps make for a Cambridgeshire Gold Torc length of about 45 modern inches or about 55 megalithic inches.
The standard "ell" in England was 45 inches.
If the delayed mainstream measurements of the actual torc length actually mesh in any way with our cogitations -- regardless of any other calculational or "fertility" uses the gold torc may have had -- it seems a bit short for a "jump rope" -- then this torc may have been so created in gold to represent a "standard" ell in Ancient Britain, or, should the length of the gold torc be even longer than we have estimated, perhaps even something like the "King's ellwand" or an ancient British ell-version of a longer "royal cubit".
The standard "ell" in England was 45 inches.
Under ELL in the Wikipedia we can read that:
" In England, the ell was usually 45 in (1.143 m), or a yard and a quarter. It was mainly used in the tailoring business but is now obsolete. Although the exact length was never defined in English law, standards were kept the brass ell examined at the Exchequer by Graham in the 1740s had been in use "since the time of Queen Elizabeth".
The Viking ell was the measure from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, about 18 inches. The Viking ell or primitive ell was used in Iceland up to the 13th century. By the 13th century, a law set the "stika" as equal to 2 ells which was the English ell of the time. An ell-wand or ellwand was a rod of length one ell used for official measurement. Edward I of England required that every town have one. In Scotland, the Belt of Orion was called "the King's Ellwand". "
It is therefore also possible that standard land survey measurement ells viz. "ellwands" in Ancient Britain, Scotland and Ireland had their astronomical comparables in terms of sky measurement "sticks" or "torcs".
We had hoped, for example, to find comprehensive mainstream archaeological measurements online of the width and height of the Avebury stones in order to see whether their dimensions correspond to some standard length of measure for measuring the distances between stars, but we have found nothing.
Looks like we will have to take another trip to the UK and see what we can do.
Scientists in the far eastern Amur River region of Russia are building a facility that can extract gold from ordinary coal. The announcement brings to mind the alchemists of ancient times, who sought to turn lead into gold.
While the alchemists never found a way to transform base metals into precious metals, Russian scientists are reporting that after 15 years of research they finally have a commercially viable method for pulling trace amounts of gold from coal.
Scientists capture minute particles of gold during the burning process. To secure the precious metal, smoke generated during combustion passes through a 100-fold purifying filter. The contaminants are washed out with water and the gold is captured by the filter.
For every ton of coal burned, one-half gram of gold can be recovered. At today’s gold price, the gold extracted from one ton of coal would be worth about $19. As the process is perfected, the researchers believe they can get 1 gram of gold from a ton of coal.
The proof-of-concept experiments will continue this coming year as the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Far East branch will be adding the purifying system to one of the Amur region’s boiler houses. If the tests are successful, the team hopes to receive a grant to develop and implement an industrial-grade device, according to RT.com.
“We plan to use municipal boiler houses to implement our filtering system because they burn about eight to 10 thousand tons in a season, and that’s potentially 10 kilos of gold,” Oleg Ageev, CEO of Complex Innovative Technologies of the Amur Scientific Center, said in a press statement.
The Amur installation, which is near the Chinese border, will get into full gear once the temperatures warm up in the remote far eastern region of Russia. Because the filtering system uses water and part of the process takes place outdoors, it only works when the temperature is above freezing.
Coal is one of the most important sources of energy in Russia. The country produced 323 million tons of coal in 2009 and is estimated to have the second-largest coal reserves in the world at 173 billion tons. The U.S. has the largest coal reserves at 263 billion tons.
Credits: Coal mining photo by Peabody Energy, Inc. (Provided by Peabody Energy) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Gold bars by istara [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons. Map by GoogleMaps.com.
Die-Hard Cubs Fans Live a Dream, Get Engaged While Holding the World Series Trophy at Wrigley Field
With the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years, die-hard fans Christopher Lenard and girlfriend Lindsay Fuhs did something that no other couple has ever done before — get engaged in front of the iconic ivy-covered wall at Wrigley Field while holding the World Series trophy.
It happened on Friday as five million elated Cubs fans from all over the city celebrated the end of "The Curse," the longest World Series drought in Major League Baseball history.
The young couple was invited to take part in the World Series Trophy photo op thanks to Fuhs' connections with the team. Her dad, Rick, is a scoreboard operating and groundskeeper, who has worked for the franchise for 38 years.
The couple also has close ties to Wrigley Field. This is where the couple first dated, and Fuhs worked as an usher at Wrigley for two years when she was in high school.
The Commissioner’s Trophy was brought to Wrigley Field so team employees and loved ones could enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pose with the once-elusive trophy.
In a video posted to YouTube, we can see the happy couple as they stand in front of the ivy in centerfield. Fuhs is wearing a broad smile, Cubs cap and Cubs National League Champions t-shirt while carefully holding the trophy. Her boyfriend — decked out in a Cubs jersey and Cubs cap — is standing proudly at her side.
Nobody is aware that he has a surprise hidden in the front-left pocket of his jeans.
After the official photos are taken, Fuhs calls for one more shot and aims her gaze at a second photographer. Lenard calls for one more shot, as well, but it's for a different reason.
At that moment, Lenard pulls the ring box from his pocket, gets down on one knee and proposes to his startled girlfriend.
"Will you marry me?" asks Lenard.
To free up her left hand, which is locked onto the precious trophy, a member of the Cubs promotion team steps in to assist. Fuhs turns her attention to her fiancé and new diamond engagement ring.
The couple kisses, embraces and basks in the glory of a Cubs World Series win and the prospects of an exciting life together.
Fuhs documented her monumental day with more than 100 photos on Facebook. The couple's story has gone viral, with stories on USAToday.com, MLB.com, ESPN.com, Chicago Sun Times, Yahoo Sports and 63,000 views on YouTube.com.
The "W" on the nail of her ring finger resembles the famous "Win" flag, which Cubs fans fly as a symbol of their dedication to the team.
In explaining his motivation for popping the question at Wrigley Field, Lenard wrote on YouTube.com, "The Cubs won for the first time in 108 years and I decided to do something literally no one has ever done before."
It doesn't get much better than that.
Check out the video below.
Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com Photos via Facebook/Lindsay.Fuhs.
We received the following (edited for clarity) last week from Dr. Mustafa Elhawat, Head of the Department of Classical Archaeology, University of Elmergheb, Al-khums in Libya. If any of our readers can assist Dr. Mustafa Elhawat please contact him at the email address below.
Dear The Heritage Trust
The political situation and the war in Libya has several complications. The problem lies in the risk to archaeological sites and buildings by militant Islamists, and exploration of these sites by thieves and vandals. There is also the illegal trade in stolen artefacts from some sites and cemeteries which are then sold on the internet and smuggled out of the country. Also, there are numerous monuments in Libya that need to be archived as they are not registered at present. There are two sections in Libya – East and West – but staff there are inexperienced and are in need of training.
We are doing as much as possible and are campaigning to raise awareness among the Libyan population. We are also setting up workshops and seminars but we need to acquire more skills, set up courses etc because archaeological sites in Libya are currently in crisis and at severe risk.
Cultural heritage in Libya belongs to all of humanity and the duty of everyone is to protect and preserve it. So we extend our hands to you, in the international community, to work with us together in order to preserve these treasures and this heritage. I hope there will be close cooperation between us all which will provide an appropriate solution to this crisis.
Head of the Department of Classical Archaeology. Faculty of Archaeology and Tourism. (Near Leptis Magna). University of Elmergheb, Al-khums. Libya. Member of the Commission for the Conservation of Libyan Cultural Heritage. email [email protected]
Hyōgu: The ancient art of picture conservation in Japan
Marking World Heritage Day today we are focusing on the ancient Japanese art of picture conservation and mounting known as Hyōgu.
1923 woodblock print after the earliest known image of a hyōgushi priest and his assistant Original by the 14th century Japanese painter Fujiwara Takakane
Private collection Great Britain
Hyōgu and the hyōgushi
The art of restoring and mounting works of art on paper and silk has been practiced in the Far East for nearly two millennia. Originating first in China at the beginning of the Christian era, conservation techniques and materials then spread to Japan where they developed into the refined art that we now know as Hyōgu.
The word Hyōgu means a picture or piece of calligraphy lined with paper and mounted as a hanging scroll. The words hyōgushi, hyōguya and kyōji refer to the mounter/conservators of Japan who not only repair and mount hanging scrolls but also conserve other forms of pictorial art such as the handscroll, screens, sliding doors, murals etc.
The hyōgushi of today is required to undergo a long and strict period of training. During this time he or she learns not only the skills which will enable him to conserve scrolls, screens etc, but also the knowledge and sensitivity required to present them in their correct context. He must know the appropriate style of mount used for any subject and be aware, for example, of the meanings associated with the patterned silks used with such mounts. He or she must also know how and where an object will be used as this will often dictate the materials and techniques employed in its conservation.
Like the Western bookbinder, the hyōgushi is responsible for objects which must be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The objects he is conserving are made to be opened and closed, rolled and unrolled and, apart from the demands of conservation and aesthetics, the hyōgushi must always bear in mind that they are to be constantly handled and not merely viewed.
Sharing an Umbrella. Japanese Tanzaku woodblock print. Artist unknown. Colour and ink on paper. 2 x 9 and a quarter inches
Private collection Great Britain
This month we focus on a Japanese Tanzaku woodblock print from the Meiji Period (1868-1912). What is a Tanzaku print? A Tanzaku print, or ‘poem slip’ print, is a narrow, vertical woodblock print with a verse already printed on it or, alternatively, a space where a poem can be handwritten. Tanzaku prints typically feature landscapes or nature subjects. This traditional Japanese form of poetic expression dates back centuries, and is still in use today, with Tanazaku prints decorating bamboo branches for the annual Tanabata Festival held in Japan on the seventh day of the seventh month.
This charming little print is waiting for a poem to be written on it. But what can the scene already tell us, and what sort of poem might it suggest to the poet? We have two figures, male and female (the star-crossed Tanabata lovers perhaps?), sharing a (lacquered) paper umbrella perhaps they are walking out together for an early evening stroll. They are barefoot and not dressed particularly warmly. The rain, and the willow branch above them is in leaf, suggesting a time during the rainy season (the middle of June to the end of July in Japan) which would also coincide with the Tanabata Festival there. The Manji motif on the umbrella is an ancient symbol in Japan, and throughout much of Asia, implying something fortunate, lucky or auspicious. It’s invariably found in Shinto shrines and in some Buddhist temples. Does the umbrella belong to one of those shrines or temples, or perhaps to an inn associated with one of them? The most curious feature in the print are the diagonal lines running from right to left. They suggest a mosquito net, but who would be peering out from a mosquito net at this couple taking an early evening stroll in the rain?
Can Detectorists be Archaeologists? News by Roy Goutté of an upcoming conference.
On the 21st November 2016, PAS (Portable Antiquities Scheme) are staging a conference at the Museum of London. It is headed ‘Can Detectorists Be Archaeologists?’ and features many speakers during the day.
Nowadays most archaeologists recognise that responsible metal-detecting has a role to play in archaeology, though there remain concerns about the (seemingly) haphazard searching techniques employed by most finders. This conference explores the various ways in which detectorists (working alone or with archaeologists) have undertaken archaeological fieldwork, and looks to a future of further cooperation for the benefit of archaeology and public interest in the past… Dr Michael Lewis (British Museum).
As a detectorists myself and an amateur archaeologist that has worked with qualified archaeologists where my detector was called upon, this promises to be a very interesting series of talks. Any form of education, as long as it is a balanced appraisal of the subject, is most welcome as irresponsible detecting without giving thought to the archaeology is without doubt a serious matter and hopefully will be discussed at length.
There are two types of detectorists apart from the many thousands out there that, in my opinion, are irresponsible in respect of their lack of concern for our heritage and unseen archaeology. One is the blatant ‘night-hawk’ who purposely sets out to steal artefacts from areas of known ‘hot-spots’ and the other is the genuine beginner/casual user of a detector who seem totally unaware that they could be damaging the archaeology as they have not followed the Metal Detector Code because, on the whole, they are not recognised metal detector club members. As a member they would have been well versed in the rights and wrongs of metal detecting.
This doesn’t make the latter a bad bunch – just an uninformed one that are venturing out for a day’s enjoyable and relaxing detecting with thoughts of finding the odd coin/ring/watch on a beach or local scrub land. They are by far the majority – the ones that have a day out occasionally and not the day in day out detectorists.
To return to the subject matter – Can Detectorists Be Archaeologist? – well of course they can, just as well as anyone else if they are interested in the subject… which undoubtedly some will be of course. If they used their obvious knowledge of our heritage for the good and not just for personal gain as a night-hawk would, then fine. But let’s be quite clear on this – the major hoards and finds in the UK are being made by your bog standard detectorists who report their finds and not night-hawks who don’t and in places not generally being looked at by archaeologists because that is not in their remit.
Another heritage website doesn’t seem to allow for this and offers no credit to the ‘good guys’ seeing the majority of all detectorists as stealing our heritage and the vast number of them not declaring their finds. So where do they think all the hoards and other antiquities found came from if not reported – out of fresh air! The dark or negative side is always highlighted by them and virtually no credit given to the huge amount of detectorists out there doing the right thing! They need to wise-up and smell the roses!
However, not wishing to linger on this negative side, I believe this conference is perfectly timed by PAS and should open up a few eyes and minds with the range of the talks they are encompassing at the event and the quality of the speakers enlisted for it. I hope it is well attended and appreciated by a level-headed audience and hopefully gives the naysayers something that will pacify them a little – but don’t hold your breath!
Here are some more details and the table and time of events:
Can Detectorists Be Archaeologists?
Portable Antiquities Scheme Conference – Weston Theatre, Museum of London. Monday 21st November 2016. 10am – 5pm.
10:00 Roy Stephenson (Museum of London): Welcome
10:10 Dr Michael Lewis (British Museum) & Dr Pieterjan Deckers (Vrije Universiteit Brussel): Working Together.
10:30 Dr Felicity Winkley (University College London): A Font of Local Knowledge: Metal-detectorists and landscape archaeology.
11:00 Dr Phil Harding (metal-detectorist and self-recorder): Metal-detecting in Leicestershire: Insights from detailed recording.
11:30 David Haldenby (metal-detectorist from Yorkshire): Detecting the Landscape.
12:00 Lindsey Bedford (erstwhile metal-detectorist): Detecting a Path into Archaeology.
12:30 Lunch (not provided).
14:00 Faye Minter (Suffolk County Council): The Use of Systematic Metal detecting in Suffolk as an Archaeological Survey Technique.
14:30 Carl Chapness (Oxford Archaeology): Metal-detecting and Archaeology.
15:00 Samantha Rowe (University of Huddersfield) Archaeology of the plough-zone.
15:30 John Maloney (National Council for Metal Detecting) The Future of archaeology and metal-detecting.
16:00 Dr Mike Heyworth (Council for British Archaeology) The Future of archaeology and metal-detecting: Building or burning bridges?
Worth noting that there will be no refreshments provided. If, like many others, you are contemplating taking up this wonderful hobby, the following link to a very informative Beginners Guide to metal detecting is a real must. Check it out!