To get us feeling like Indiana Jones going into the weekend, here are a couple of fantastic archaeology stories. Both describe intriguing discoveries, made all the more interesting by the people who found them.
First is this BBC story about Stuart Wilson, a 37-year-old from Wales who used his £32,000 life savings to buy a 4.6 acre field in Monmouthshire. Wilson "was convinced he had located the site of 13th Century Trellech - once Wales' largest city." It turns out he was right.
Now, 12 years later, he believes he has revealed the footprint of a bustling iron boom town from the 1200s - and he does not regret his decision.
Wilson essentially has taken a vow of poverty to excavate this lost city. Impressive dedication!
Looking now to Greece, Smithsonian Magazine gives us an update on the warrior grave that was found in Pylos last year, and sets the scene of the discovery:
The season had not started well. The archaeologists were part of a group of close to three dozen researchers digging near the ancient Palace of Nestor, on a hilltop near Pylos on the southwest coast of Greece. The palace was built in the Bronze Age by the Mycenaeans—the heroes described in Homer’s epic poems—and was first excavated in the 1930s. The dig’s leaders, Jack Davis and Sharon Stocker, husband-and-wife archaeologists from the University of Cincinnati, in Ohio, had hoped to excavate in a currant field just downslope from the palace, but Greek bureaucracy and a lawyers’ strike kept them from obtaining the necessary permits. So they settled, disappointed, on a neighboring olive grove. They cleared the land of weeds and snakes and selected a few spots to investigate, including three stones that appeared to form a corner. As the trench around the stones sank deeper, the researchers allowed themselves to grow eager: The shaft’s dimensions, two meters by one meter, suggested a grave, and Mycenaean burials are famous for their breathtakingly rich contents, able to reveal volumes about the culture that produced them. Still, there was no proof that this structure was even ancient, the archaeologists reminded themselves, and it might simply be a small cellar or shed.
The entire in-depth article is fascinating, so check it out!