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Science Notes – Early medieval insights from birch bark tar

Birch bark tar (manufactured by the heating of bark in airtight conditions) has long been prized for its sticky, water resistant, and biocidal properties. Throughout human history it has seen a wide range of uses, including as a sealant (for example, in waterprooing vessels), an adhesive (for hafting weapons, repairing ceramics, or assembling composite objects like jewellery), and in perfume and medicine.

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Roman discoveries in Llanwern

A complex of Roman buildings has been uncovered on a slope overlooking the Gwent Levels at Llanwern, near Newport in South Wales. Excavations by Cotswold Archaeology identified evidence of occupation on the site that appears to date from the 2nd to the 4th centuries AD, although small quantities of pottery have been recovered which may predate the Roman conquest of the area.

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Anglo-Saxon buildings beneath Bath Abbey

Two buildings found during excavations at Bath Abbey are the first Anglo-Saxon stone structures to be identified within the city, and may belong to the monastery where Edgar was crowned as first King of England, new analysis suggests.

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Medieval remains under Somerset House

Excavations at the Courtauld Institute of Art at Somerset House, London, have uncovered a cesspit belonging to one of the luxurious medieval mansions that used to exist in this area.

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Walberton’s ‘warrior’ burial

The grave of a late Iron Age or early Roman ‘warrior’, who had been laid to rest with a sword and spear, has been discovered in Walberton, West Sussex.

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Science Notes – 3D imaging and reimagining 19th-century interpretations

In this month’s ‘Science Notes’, we will look at the way three-dimensional (3D) imaging can be used to study the accuracy of plaster casts created by 19th-century archaeologists to record and preserve ancient monuments. A recent study published in Antiquity compared casts taken of parts of the Parthenon in Athens in the early 1800s and the 1870s with the original sculptures in their current state, in order to determine the reliability of the casts and to help monitor the sculptures’ deterioration over time.

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