Archaeologists revisit 1980s dig site, sifting artifacts carefully

Sifting of soil excavated in the 1980s at the site in Ahli, Lääne County.
Sifting of soil excavated in the 1980s at the site in Ahli, Lääne County. Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

Sifting work has been ongoing at an early-medieval burial site in Western Estonia, making use of substantial banks of earth excavated at an earlier dig, during the Soviet era, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Wednesday.

The site, at Ahli, near Haapsalu, is, archaeologist Heikki Pauts told AK: "So close to the coast, while important trade routes also ran along the coast on the waterways, meaning there are many such rich finds in the material of this cemetery. The finds demonstrate that these were probably quite wealthy people here who were buried in this cemetery," said

The cemetery was in use from the seventh century AD to the start of the 13th century, AK reported.

While it was initially thought to be a few thousand square meters in area, this figure has been revised upwards, Pauts added.

The site had been excavated in the past, back in 1986, when a mechanical bulldozer had been used and had damaged the site.

It was then investigated by noted Estonian archaeologist Mati Mandel, with around 500 finds obtained,

In the current dig, the focus is on sifting through the mound of earth piled up 37 years ago, which has already yielded more than 200 further new finds, among them fragments of silver objects – not commonly found in burial sites in Estonia.

Volunteers are taking part in the field work, which is being supported by local government and local cultural, museum and archaeological organizations, while the owner of the land in question has also lent equipment for the job.

Sifted earth, stones etc. will be reused by the landowner, an organic farmer.

"Without their help, we wouldn't be as far as we have been," Pauts added, expressing hope that more work might go ahead next year if similar support is forthcoming.

The original AK segment (in Estonian) is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', reporter Juhan Hepne

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