Biomolecular Evidence for Early “Nordic Grog”

In many written sources from late Bronze Age up to the Iron Age inhabitants of northern habitable Europe were considered as wild and uncivilized barbarians. One of those aspects rendering them as uncivilized in the eyes of Greeks and Romans were their drinking habits. But what did these inhabitants of the land by the Greeks referred as “Proxima Thule” really drinking? A new study by P. E. McGovern, G. R. Hall and A. Mirzoian published  in the Danish Journal of Archaeology 2013 tries to answer this question by studying residues found on drinking vessels in Scandinavia from Late Bronze Age untill the first century AD. They analyzed residues from drinking vessels found in four Scandinavian tombs the oldest dating 1500-1300 BC and the youngest to the first century AD. As a result the found a mixture of various ingredients for this “nordic Grog” like honey mead, cereals and local fruit wine but also imported grape wine as the basis, to which juniper, birch, pine and herbs (e.g. bog myrtle and yarrow) were added as flavours.

McGovern, P. E., Hall, G. R., & Mirzoian, A. (2013). A biomolecular archaeological approach to ‘Nordic grog’. Danish Journal of Archaeology, 1-20. doi: 10.1080/21662282.2013.867101


The Calixtlahuaca Head


In 1933, archaeologist José García Payón discovered a small head with “foreign” features in a burial at Calixtlahuaca, in the Toluca Valley about 60 km. west of Mexico City. The burial was under two undisturbed cemented floors that antedated the destruction of Calixtlahuaca by the Aztecs in AD 1510. Numerous cultural pieces found with the head were identified by García Payón as belonging to the Azteco-Matlatzinca period of 1476-1510. Cortez did not land at Veracruz until 1519, and did not conquer the Aztecs until 1521, so that central Mexico was still pre-Hispanic in 1510. 
In 1961, the Austrian anthropologist Robert Heine-Geldern examined the head and declared that it derived “unquestionably” from the Hellenistic-Roman school of art. He found that its “distinctive Naturalism” suggested a date “around AD 200.” Heine-Geldern was an expert on South-East Asia, but he reported in a communication quoted by García Payón (1961) that his view that…

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Metallography and Microstructure of Ancient and Historic Metals

If you are interested in ancient metals David A Scott provides a great opportunity to get into this topic. His book Metallography and Microstructure of Ancient and Historic Metals can be used as basic literature for beginners as well as reference book. However the best part is, at least in my point of view, that he allows free access to it. The .pdf file could be found here.