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Medieval Sword Discovered in Polish Peat Bog

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Sometime in the 14th century, a medieval knight traversing the marshes of southeast Poland either dropped his sword or sank into the muck, losing his life—and weapon—in the process. Archaeologists haven't found his remains, but they did discover his intact blade earlier this month in a peat bog near the Polish town of Hrubieszów, according to Archaeology.

The two-handed, 4-foot-long sword is corroded and missing its padded hilt, but it still bears its maker's brand: an isosceles cross, etched in the shape of a heraldic shield. Originally, it weighed just over 3 pounds, making it a good, lightweight weapon for fencing.

The sword has been donated to the Fr. Stanisław Staszic Museum in Hrubieszów, where experts hope to find out how, exactly, it ended up in a marsh. "This is a unique find in the region," noted Bartłomiej Bartecki, the museum's director, according to Science & Scholarship in Poland. Too often for similar artifacts, "their places of discovery is often unknown, and that is very important information for historians and archaeologists," he added.

Archaeologists plan to return to the site of the find and conduct minor excavations for other pieces of fighting equipment. As for the sword itself, conservationists will examine it to see if any engraved signs on the blade exist to identify its owner and origin.

"The place where the discovery was made is a wetland and a peat bog," Bartecki said. "It is possible that an unlucky knight was pulled into the marsh, or simply lost his sword."

[h/t Archaeology]

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Drought Reveals Ancient Sites in Scotland That Can Only Be Spotted From the Air
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Typically rainy Scotland is in the middle of an unusually dry summer—and local archaeologists are taking advantage of it. As the BBC reports, the drought has revealed ancient sites, including Roman camps and Iron Age graves, that have been hidden by farm soil for years.

Historic Environment Scotland has been conducting aerial surveys of the country's landscape since the 1930s, but it's in seasons like this, when the crops recede during dry weather, that the buried remains of ancient structures are easiest to spot. Conditions this summer have been the best since 1976 for documenting archaeological sites from the sky.

Aerial view of field.
Historic Environment Scotland

The crescent-shaped crop mark in the photo above indicates a souterrain, or underground passageway, that was built in the Scottish Borders during the Iron Age. The surveyors also found remains of a Roman temporary camp, marked by straight lines in the landscape, built in modern-day Lyne—an area south of Edinburgh already known to have housed a complex of Roman camps and forts.

Aerial view of field.
Historic Environment Scotland

In the image below you'll see four small ditches—three circles and one square—that were likely used as burial sites during the Iron Age. When crops are planted over an ancient ditch, they have more water and nutrients to feed on, which helps them grow taller and greener. Such crops are especially visible during a drought when the surrounding vegetation is sparse and brown.

Aerial view of field.
Historic Environment Scotland

Historic Environment Scotland has a team of aerial surveyors trained to spot the clues: To date, they've discovered more than 9000 archaeological sites from the air. HSE plans to continue scoping out new areas of interest as long as the dry spell lasts.

It's not just in Scotland that long-hidden settlements are coming to light: similar aerial surveys in Wales are finding them too.

[h/t BBC]

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An Ancient Sarcophagus Was Found in Egypt—And It's Never Been Opened
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In what could be the plot of the next summer blockbuster, a sealed sarcophagus has been found 16 feet underground in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, Science Alert reports. It’s still unknown who or what might be lying inside the nondescript black granite casket, but what’s clear is that it hasn’t been opened since it was closed more than 2000 years ago.

Ayman Ashmawy, head of the government’s Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, observed “a layer of mortar between the lid and the body of the sarcophagus,” indicating it hadn't been opened, according to a Ministry of Antiquities Facebook post. Considering that many ancient tombs in Egypt have been looted over the years, an untouched sarcophagus is quite a rare find.

The sarcophagus was discovered when a site in the Sidi Gaber district, dating back to the Ptolemaic Dynasty (305-30 BCE), was inspected before construction of a building began. The casket is 104.3 inches long and 65 inches wide, making it the largest of its kind ever discovered in Alexandria. In addition, an alabaster statue of a man’s head was found in the same tomb, and some have speculated that it might depict whoever is sealed inside the sarcophagus. Live Science suggested that archaeologists may opt to inspect its contents using X-rays or computed tomography scans to prevent damage to the artifact.

Although it remains a mystery for now, Twitter has a few theories about who might be lying inside:

[h/t Science Alert]

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