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Thread: Shipwreck Yields Bronze-Age Gold Off the Coast of the UK

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    Shipwreck Yields Bronze-Age Gold Off the Coast of the UK

    February 24, 2010


    Gleaming where it sank almost 3,000 years ago, a golden bracelet from the Bronze Age marks the site of one of the world's oldest shipwrecks, recently discovered off the coast of the United Kingdom. At the time of the wreck, Rome had yet to be built, pharaohs still ruled Egypt, and Jesus Christ's birth was still centuries away.

    The treasure was part of a 900 B.C. cargo discovered in May 2009 near the town of Salcombe (map) by divers from the South West Maritime Archaeological Group.

    Announced this month at the International Shipwreck Conference in Plymouth, U.K., the Salcombe finds include hundreds of copper and tin ingots—the raw material for making bronze—and reveal sophisticated trade links between prehistoric Britain and the rest of Europe, archaeologists say
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    The Salcombe shipwreck's 259 copper ingots likely came from overseas, possibly from mines in central Europe or what is now Spain, according to the study team.
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    Bronze Age expert Ben Roberts said that swords replaced spears as Britain's weapon of choice in about 1200 B.C., after being introduced from mainland Europe.

    The oldest swords that have been found in Britain match German and French examples and were certainly imported, according to Roberts. But this later sword may well have been produced locally, he said.


    While the newfound wreck yielded several golden bracelets, called torques, the previously discovered site included even rarer treasures. Pictured are an eight-stranded braided-wire torque (top left), two rolled-up ribbon torques (top center and right) and part of a twisted bar torque, which date to between 1300 and 1100 B.C.

    Once worn as a bracelet, the braided-wire torque is incredibly rare, with the closest known example coming from France, according to Ben Roberts of the British Museum
    Picture gallery: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...19_600x450.jpg

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    A date of 900 BC is just inside our Bronze Age chronology in Britain, as it was around this time we start to see the first use of Iron.

    Also most items that are found in watery contexts seem to votive offering at this period, as the Later Bronze-Age to Early Iron-Age was a time of considerable turmoil. Maybe linked to an extreme change in climate around this period when temperatures on the continent fell to the same averages at the last ice age.

    That’s the funny thing about being an archaeologist; you see the same things happening again and again!

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