The Roundup #5

It’s been an exciting week! The New Horizons flyby of Pluto was (so far, at least) a complete success and the world is basking in the light of all the new images pouring in from the spacecraft’s downloads to NASA.

It’s also been a weird week, considering the recent theft from the grave of acclaimed director FW Murnau’s head. Murnau is probably most recognized (well, until someone stole his head anyway) for the film Nosferatu.

And we haven’t had anything related to Nazis recently, so here’s something new: a metal detectorist (apparently that’s a word) has discovered a cache of gold coins from the late 19th and early 20th century along with two seals bearing swastikas and the imperial eagle with the stamp “Reichsbank Berlin 244”.

Otherwise, here’s what the world decided to reveal to us this time around:


A Viking sword with a beautifully preserved gold and silver hilt has been discovered in Norway.

Beautiful mosaics are being unearthed in a synagogue near Huqoq currently being surveyed by archaeologists from UNC Chapel Hill. One in particular may depict the first non-Biblical story yet to be found in the synagogue.

One of the largest and possibly earliest open settlements (ie. not a hill fort) has been discovered in southern England.

Two Roman ballista stones have been returned to the Israel Antiquities Authority with a note: “…they have brought me nothing but trouble. Please do not steal antiquities!” We hear you, loud and clear, anonymous thief.

A marble slab with a Greek inscription referring to the Odrysian kings of Thrace has been discovered in Bulgaria near the ancient site of Aquae Calidae.

And the mummified body of a young boy is being examined after its discovery in the Zeleny Yar necropolis in Siberia. The Siberian Times article on the same discovery include some fantastic pictures of the birchbark coffin and goes into more detail about this mysterious medieval civilization.

In LiveScience:

More on the stunning mosaics at Huqoq and the overall richness of the site in the Galilee region of Israel means that archaeologists have a lot more work to do in the coming seasons.

From the Beeb:

The Staffordshire Hoard continues to delight as conservationists learn about ancient metallurgy techniques and make connections between this hoard, discovered in 2009, and that found at Sutton Hoo.

From the Smithsonian:

The updated UNESCO World Heritage list is out, with new additions like Ephesus in Turkey, the Alamo in Texas, the controversial ‘Battleship Island’ in Japan, the Champagne region in France, and the Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain in Mongolia.

From The Guardian:

The records and correspondence of the Slave Compensation Commission are being reviewed at the National Archives in the UK, containing the names of 46,000 slave owners and the compensation they received in 1833 for their recently emancipated ‘property’.

Tim Butcher talks about his new book ‘The Trigger’ and Gavrilo Princip, the man who shot Archduke Frans Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wife in 1914, precipitating the First World War.

And from Popular Science:

Analyses of rock samples from Mars point to similarities between the Red Planet and our own Blue Marble.