World News

Pre-Columbian trade in Alaska

Recent analysis of ten small, blue glass beads, which were found across three separate sites in and around Punyik Point in Alaska, has revealed that they were produced in Venice during the 15th century. Radiocarbon dating of organic material associated with the beads suggests that they probably date to between 1443 and 1488, before Columbus landed on the east coast of North America in 1492.

Photo: Lester Ross

The research was carried out by Michael Kunz of the University of Alaska Museum of the North and Robin Mills from the Bureau of Land Management in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the results were recently published in American Antiquity. Based on their analysis of the region, they believe that the beads probably all arrived together at the trading centre at Sheshalik before being separated and distributed. These beads highlight how widespread trading routes were at this time – having most likely arrived in Alaska via China, the Russian Far East, and then across the Bering Strait. They represent the first evidence of an overland connection between Europe and Alaska before the 16th century.

An expectant mummy

The first known example of an ancient Egyptian mummy of a pregnant woman has been discovered in the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw.

The mummy was first donated to the University of Warsaw in 1826 and then brought to the museum between 1917 and 1918. Previously, it was believed that the mummified individual was a man, based on an inscription on the side of the sarcophagus which indicated that the occupant was a scribe and priest of Horus-Thoth, named Hor-Djihuty. But CT and X-ray scanning by researchers from the Warsaw Mummy Project revealed that it was instead a young pregnant woman. Further research revealed that she was between 20 and 30 years old and 26-28 weeks pregnant at the time of her death.

Constantine’s missing finger

The missing finger of a bronze statue of Constantine the Great has been reunited with the rest of its hand for the first time in almost 500 years.

The statue, which is housed in the Capitoline Museum in Rome, was damaged in 1584, leaving only the head, an orb that it once held, and the left hand without the finger. Then in 2018, researchers at the Louvre in Paris were going through their collection and realised that what was labelled as a toe, was actually the right size and shape to be Constantine’s missing finger. The match was confirmed after a resin replica of the digit was sent to Rome, and now the finger has been reattached once more using a non-invasive and reversible process.