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Concept: 1st millennium


The rapid Arab-Islamic conquest during the early Middle Ages led to major political and cultural changes in the Mediterranean world. Although the early medieval Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula is now well documented, based in the evaluation of archeological and historical sources, the Muslim expansion in the area north of the Pyrenees has only been documented so far through textual sources or rare archaeological data. Our study provides the first archaeo-anthropological testimony of the Muslim establishment in South of France through the multidisciplinary analysis of three graves excavated at Nimes. First, we argue in favor of burials that followed Islamic rites and then note the presence of a community practicing Muslim traditions in Nimes. Second, the radiometric dates obtained from all three human skeletons (between the 7th and the 9th centuries AD) echo historical sources documenting an early Muslim presence in southern Gaul (i.e., the first half of 8th century AD). Finally, palaeogenomic analyses conducted on the human remains provide arguments in favor of a North African ancestry of the three individuals, at least considering the paternal lineages. Given all of these data, we propose that the skeletons from the Nimes burials belonged to Berbers integrated into the Umayyad army during the Arab expansion in North Africa. Our discovery not only discusses the first anthropological and genetic data concerning the Muslim occupation of the Visigothic territory of Septimania but also highlights the complexity of the relationship between the two communities during this period.

Concepts: North Africa, Iberian Peninsula, Al-Andalus, Spain, Islam, Italy, Archaeology, 1st millennium


The understanding of the glass trade in the first millennium CE relies on the characterisation of well-dated compositional groups and the identification of their primary production sites. 275 Byzantine glass weights from the British Museum and the Bibliothèque nationale de France dating to the sixth and seventh century were analysed by LA-ICP-MS. Multivariate statistical and graphical data analysis discriminated between six main primary glass types. Primary glass sources were differentiated based on multi-dimensional comparison of silica-derived elements (MgO, Al2O3, CaO, TiO2, Fe2O3, ZrO2) and components associated with the alkali source (Li2O, B2O3). Along with Egyptian and Levantine origins of the glassmaking sands, variations in the natron source possibly point to the exploitation of two different natron deposits. Differences in strontium to calcium ratios revealed variations in the carbonate fractions in the sand. At least two cobalt sources were employed as colouring agents, one of which shows strong correlations with nickel, indicating a specific post-Roman cobalt source. Typological evidence identified chronological developments in the use of the different glass groups. Throughout the sixth century, Byzantine glass weights were predominately produced from two glasses that are probably of an Egyptian origin (Foy-2 and Foy-2 high Fe). Towards the second half of the sixth century a new but related plant-ash glass type emerged (Magby). Levantine I was likewise found among the late sixth- to early seventh-century samples. The use of different dies for the same batch testifies to large-scale, centralised production of the weights, while the same die used for different primary production groups demonstrates the co-existence of alternative sources of supply. Given the comprehensive design of our study, these results can be extrapolated to the wider early Byzantine glass industry and its changes at large.

Concepts: Iron, Oxide, Glass, Centuries, Calcium oxide, 1st millennium, 7th century, 6th century


136 glasses from the ninth-century monastery of San Vincenzo and its workshops have been analysed by electron microprobe in order to situate the assemblage within the first millennium CE glass making tradition. The majority of the glass compositions can be paralleled by Roman glass from the first to third centuries, with very few samples consistent with later compositional groups. Colours for trailed decoration on vessels, for vessel bodies and for sheet glass for windows were largely produced by melting the glass tesserae from old Roman mosaics. Some weakly-coloured transparent glass was obtained by re-melting Roman window glass, while some was produced by melting and mixing of tesserae, excluding the strongly coloured cobalt blues. Our data suggest that to feed the needs of the glass workshop, the bulk of the glass was removed as tesserae and windows from a large Roman building. This is consistent with a historical account according to which the granite columns of the monastic church were spolia from a Roman temple in the region. The purported shortage of natron from Egypt does not appear to explain the dependency of San Vincenzo on old Roman glass. Rather, the absence of contemporary primary glass may reflect the downturn in long-distance trade in the later first millennium C.E., and the role of patronage in the “ritual economy” founded upon donations and gift-giving of the time.

Concepts: Solid, Glass, Italy, Composition, Window, Mosaic, Soda-lime glass, 1st millennium


The arrival of the Huns into Europe in the fourth century AD increased the occurrence of intentional cranial modification among European nomads. It has been postulated that the Huns used a two-bandage cranial binding technique to differentiate themselves from surrounding nomadic groups, including those from Georgia. This study examines this hypothesis by comparing Migration Period (4th to 7th century AD) juvenile crania, which retain strong impressions of bindings, with adult modified crania from Hungary and Georgia.

Concepts: Europe, Centuries, Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkic peoples, 1st millennium, Nomad, Huns


The purpose of this study was to summarise the life and work of the Cypriot physician Apollonius of Citium (first century BC). His overall work on medicine is presented, and special emphasis is given to his work on the treatment of joint dislocations. The most famous work of Apollonius is Treatise On Joints, which was preserved on the whole in a manuscript of the tenth century AD. In that manuscript, Apollonius is obviously influenced by the Hippocratic Corpus of Medicine. His description, diagnostic methods and reduction techniques are all based on those described by Hippocrates in his work “On Joints”. Apollonius' contribution to this subject concerns accurate depiction in images of the reduction techniques he proposes. His simplifications describe the techniques of Hippocrates in a way they can be understood and used by athletes and nonphysicians in the Greek gymnasia. Perhaps his treatise is one of the earliest works of popularised medicine and surgery in the history of human civilisation.

Concepts: Physician, Centuries, Hippocrates, Hippocratic Corpus, 1st century, 1st millennium, 1st century BC, Ancient Greek physicians


In the late Roman Republic period (2nd-1st century BC), in the area of San Giovanni on Elba Island, previously subject to intense extraction of iron ore, a rustic villa was established by Marco Valerio Messalla, a supreme Roman magistrate. The foundations of the walls were discovered and excavated by an archaeological mission. Palaeobotanical analysis of a set of stratigraphic layers was performed. Palynological slides showed remains of palynomorphic and non-pollen objects, while data combined with anthracological investigations confirmed the hypothesis that in the 1st century AD the villa was destroyed by a fire that created a compact crust under which were discovered four broken Roman amphorae containing about five hundred apple seeds. Comparisons of archaeological and fresh seeds from reference collections showed discontinuous morphology except for one group of archaeological samples. DNA was isolated from seeds that had well-preserved embryos in all groups. DNA extracts from archaeological, wild and modern domestic seeds (controls) were amplified by PCR and tested with SSR molecular markers, followed by genome analysis.

Concepts: Ancient Rome, Roman Empire, Century, 1st century, Roman Republic, 1st millennium, Roman villa, Praetor