More Archeology Headlines of May 2009

Can you imagine the surprise on the face of construction workers when they came across a skeleton thought more than 350 years old? Buried a couple of yards outside of the village’s churchyard, Hampshire, England workers discovered the final resting place of a man who once lived during the days of the 16th century. The archeologist assigned to this project believes that the areas were used to bury the bodies of people who either committed a crime or took their own life.

16th Century Man Opens Dialogue on Burials in Hampshire, England

There is proof that these kinds of bodies were not placed inside of a churchyard and were instead, buried in designated outside of holy grounds.

Set out to work on the construction of home in the Main Road, Littleton area, workers wondered why the remains were not placed in the churchyard located only a few hundred yards away and were left in a deep pit measuring 4 feet. They had no idea that the body could possess interest for local archeologists, as they first alerted the police to their discovery.

Archaeologist for the Winchester City Council, Tracey Matthews, was pleased that she received a call regarding the mysterious burial, as she stated it isn’t something that happens often. Placed close to the body, an assortment of artifacts was found, including an iron knife and buckle, which dated back to the 16th century as well. Matthews believes that the buckle was originally attached to a belt that was laid across the pelvis region at the time of his burial.

When the body was found, the construction workers disturbed the upper half of the body, but the bones located below the waist seemed to have been in good condition at first look. Upon closer examination, archeologists learned that preservation of the bones was poor.

According to a parish councilor and member of Littleton Local History Group, Michael Lupton stated that there was a story associated with the body that it might have been a suicide. If this were true, then the body would have not been buried in the churchyard of the village. During the 16th century, victims of suicide would not have been placed in consecrated ground.

A local resident that contacted Matthews shed light on the mystery, as they shared evidence that a man named Ralph Harfell committed suicide in Littleton around 1652. Further information placed Harfell as living on a farm that included the land situated off Main Road where the skeleton was discovered.

What Was Found in tbe Ancient Red Sea Port?

A group of Polish and American archaeologists working together at a site located in the ancient Red Sea port in Egypt have found fragments of pottery showcasing inscriptions in many different languages. The number of languages associated with this find so far has been 12, including pre-Islamic languages. This information has been used to confirm the importance of Berenike (which was founded by Ptolemy II Philadelphus in 285-246 BC) as an active Red Sea port during Hellenistic and Roman times. Other written materials have been unearthed as well, shedding light on the kinds of people that once called the region their home.