German Court Awards Farmer $1 Million for 2000-Year-Old Bronzed Horse Head Found in His Well

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iStock

A lucky discovery made nearly a decade ago just got even luckier for one German farmer. In 2009, archaeologists excavating a former Roman settlement on the man's farm in Lahnau, Germany found a 2000-year-old bronzed horse head, and now Artnet reports that the property's owner has been awarded roughly $904,000 for the artifact.

The gold leaf–covered head, which weighs about 55 pounds and measures 20 inches long, had likely been part of a larger statue, as indicated by a bronzed foot found nearby. Experts believe the horse's rider was Augustus, Rome's emperor at the turn of the first millennium CE. The head had been preserved under water at the bottom of a 36-foot well for years, making the find even more remarkable.

The anonymous farmer was originally given $55,946 for the artifact by the German state Hesse, but after reading news reports declaring it to be one of the best-preserved Roman bronzes ever discovered, he suspected he'd been underpaid, and sued. On July 27, a German court ruled that he was entitled to half the head's worth. The object is valued at around $1.8 million, which means the farmer is now owed nearly $904,000 plus interest. The German state has yet to say whether or not it plans to appeal the case.

The general area where the horse head was found has produced a wealth of Roman artifacts. Experts think the Romans had been planning to make the town into a major capital city. Plans changed abruptly after three Roman legions were defeated by Germanic tribesmen in 9 CE, prompting the Romans to abandon their settlement and the fancy bronze statue of their leader along with it.

[h/t Artnet]

A ‘Lost’ Viking Graveyard Was Discovered in Norway

LMGPhotos/iStock via Getty Images
LMGPhotos/iStock via Getty Images

Contrary to popular belief, Scandinavian Vikings didn't send their dead out to sea on flaming ships. When someone died, they buried the body in the ground just as people have been doing across cultures for centuries. A recent discovery sheds new light on the Vikings' version of the practice. As Atlas Obscura reports, an entire Viking graveyard has been unearthed by archaeologists in Norway.

A survey leading up to a highway expansion revealed the site in Vinjeøra, a town located next to an ancient Viking farm. The graveyard contains several boat burials. While there's no evidence of Vikings ever conducting burials at sea in Scandinavia, they did sometimes load their cadavers onto boats—the boats just happened stay on land and act as coffins rather than watery graves. This may have contributed to the modern Viking funeral myth.

Among the boats, the dig team also found the remains of 20 burial mounds, including one that was especially noteworthy. The mound—which had been leveled by centuries of agriculture—once covered a mortuary house where a body was laid to rest. Archaeologists say the size and elaborate nature of the grave indicate that someone important, such as a chieftain or war hero, was buried there.

The house itself is no longer around for researchers to study, but it did leave behind a rectangular footprint, and a few foundational stones as evidence of its existence. By studying the grave mounds and boats, the archaeologists hope to learn more about a group of people that disappeared without leaving behind any written records of their lives.

Viking grave sites don't just tell us who the Vikings revered and how they treated their dead—they can also tell us what they did for fun. Ancient burial boats have revealed that some Vikings were buried with board games.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Civil War Cannonballs Found on South Carolina Beach in Aftermath of Hurricane Dorian

ABDESIGN/iStock via Getty Images
ABDESIGN/iStock via Getty Images

Hurricane Dorian skimmed the United States' East Coast last week, creating a trail of damage residents are still dealing with. But it wasn't just trash and debris the storm surges left behind: As WCSC reports, two cannonballs dating back to the Civil War were discovered on Folly Beach in South Carolina in the aftermath of the storm.

Aaron Lattin and his girlfriend Alba were walking on the beach on September 6 when they saw what looked like rocks nestled in the sand. As they examined them more closely, they realized they had found something much more special. The weathered objects were actually cannonballs that have likely been buried in the area for more than 150 years.

Incredibly, this isn't the first time Civil War cannonballs have been discovered on Folly Beach following a hurricane: In 2016, Hurricane Matthew unearthed 16 of them. Folly Island was used as a Union base a century and a half ago, and items leftover from the artillery battery built there are still scattered around the shoreline. The couple behind this latest discovery believes there are more waiting to be found.

Old cannonballs may look like cool artifacts to treasure hunters, but they should still be treated with caution. Police and bombs disposal technicians were called to the scene at Folly Beach to confirm the cannonballs were no longer functional.

[h/t WCSC]

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