Unruly History in the News #10
2023 coming in hot
This week, in history acting unruly…
In case you missed them, here are 10 incredible archaeological finds from 2022.
A massive Viking hall was unearthed in Denmark. It’s the largest such find in a decade.
Furniture conservator Ben Bacon discovered that the number of markings on animals in 20,000-year-old cave paintings wasn’t random—they tracked key cycles in each animal’s life. In fact, the markings clearly reference lunar calendars and the reproductive cycles of certain animals, which means that humans have been keeping records for 10,000 years longer than we knew.
But, of course, not everyone agrees.
A lot gets made of Vikings traveling away from Scandinavia and leaving their genes wherever they went. But new DNA evidence from archaeological digs is showing that there was a lot of immigration into Scandinavia around the same time.
Whether you’re doing dry January or not, this is kind of cool: Students at University College Dublin found the elusive yeast that first created lagers in Germany. The yeast has never been found in Europe, despite being key to a beer originating there, so this is a huge step in uncovering the past dissemination of this beer.
Rarely seen papers of Toni Morrison’s will go on view at Princeton starting February 22.
Every year, the US Library of Congress adds 25 new films to its National Film Registry. Last year’s additions included Iron Man and When Harry Met Sally.
In 1777, the British brought in Hessians—German soldiers—to help fight their revolutionary subjects. A mass burial site of Hessian soldiers was just found in Pennsylvania, and it reveals the lack of care given to royalist soldiers who died fighting.
For my conspiracy-minded friends, the National Archive has released files related to JFK’s assassination. Well, they’ve released 97% of the files. 👀
New findings about our ‘youthful’ brains may explain humanity’s, well, humanity, but they also blur the line between us and Neanderthals even further.
In things that were looted but are now being returned:
The US is returning the famous “Green Coffin” (Sarcophagus) to Egypt.
Pope Francis plans to return several Parthenon sculptures that have been in the Vatican Museum for 200 years. They’re framing it as a donation to to Archbishop Ieronymos II, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church. In a statement, the Vatican said that the move reflects the pope’s “sincere desire to follow in the ecumenical path of truth,” according to Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press.
But, of course, Britain still would like to hold onto the Elgin marbles (from the Parthenon), please.
Robert Burns is turning over in his grave. A first-edition copy of his debut poetry collection was found in a barber shop, where it had been used to clean razors. It’s very delicate, but it’s on view at the Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries in Fife, Scotland, through February 5, 2023.
Vandals destroyed 30,000-year-old indigenous cave paintings in Australia. Very not cool, assholes.
There’s a burial cave dedicated to Jesus’ midwife, and it used to be a very popular destination for religious pilgrims.
A flooded quarry in southeastern England unexpectedly revealed a sunken ship from Elizabeth I’s reign.
Speaking of things unearthed in England, in 1801 a toolkit was discovered near Stonehenge. It took over 200 years for archaeologists to figure out that it was used for goldsmithing.
In Virginia, a monument to Robert E. Lee, Confederate General of the U.S. Civil War, will be replaced with a statue of Henrietta Lacks. Lacks is the woman whose unique cancer cells were taken without her consent by Johns Hopkins and used for groundbreaking medical research.
Two sarcophagi were found underneath Notre Dame Cathedral. Their mysterious stories are beginning to be unraveled.
The mystery of what happened to John Franklin and his crew of 128 sailors who never returned from the arctic might be one step closer to being solved. Archaeologists found 275 artifacts from one of the shipwrecks. Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s environment and climate change minister, noted “the wrecks of H.M.S. Erebus and H.M.S. Terror are some of the best-preserved wooden wrecks in the world.”
And to lead us out, here are 5 potential archaeological discoveries that we’re really hoping finally get unearthed this year.
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