Sixteenth-century playwright Thomas Middleton was the most likely co-author of William Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, according to academics from Oxford University. Analysis of the play’s vocabulary, rhyming, style and grammar, as well as differences in style and inconsistencies in the text, have led experts to believe that the play was the work of two authors. What’s more, literary research has revealed that groups of writers would have been working on plays together, much like today’s film studios. Rhyming and rhythms of sections of the play, the phrasing, spelling and even individual words have all suggested the involvement of Thomas Middleton in the writing of the play.
Geologists believe they have found evidence that a tsunami recorded in 479 BC saved the Greek village of Potidaea from Persian invaders. Excavations have revealed signs of massive marine events, including huge waves, while sea shells likely to have been lifted from the seabed during a tsunami were found in the nearby city of Mende. Ancient historian Herodotus recorded: “Then there came upon them [the Persians] a great flood-tide of the sea, higher than ever before, as the natives of the place say, though high tides come often … So those of them who could not swim perished, and those who could were slain by the men of Potidaia who put out to them in boats.”
A 2,000-year-old wall in Pompeii has collapsed, just two weeks after the launch of an £86 million project by the Italian government to preserve the ancient site. The red-frescoed wall, which surrounds an ancient villa, is sited in an area already closed to the public.
A silver-gilt crozier (a kind of staff of office) and a jewelled ring are among finds unearthed in a grave at Furness Abbey in Cumbria. The treasures were discovered with the bones of the abbot they belonged to, a man who has been described as “probably a well-fed, little-exercised man in his 40s who suffered from arthritis and type 2 diabetes”. The crozier is the first to be excavated in England in 50 years and depicts the archangel Michael slaying a dragon with his sword. The ring, which may have held a relic in place on the abbot’s finger, is described as being made “for a man with big or chubby fingers”, and was probably presented to the abbot on his consecration.
Early Bronze Age items excavated from Whitehorse Hill, Dartmoor National Park, in August 2011 are to be x-rayed in an attempt to discover more about the individual buried there. The objects, which were discovered in a burial cist – a stone chest containing the ashes and belongings of a dead person – included cremated human bone, burnt textile, and a delicate woven bag. The bag, which will also be x-rayed, contained shale disc beads, amber spherical beads and a circular textile band. Analysis of peat surrounding the cist is also planned in the hope that it will reveal more about vegetation and climate at the time of the burial.
A wooden box of 1930s love letters rescued from the Caledonian Canal near Inverness in December 2011 has found a permanent home with a close friend of their author, Robert Wright. Wright sent the letters from Catterick, Aldershot and Edinburgh in the 1930s to his bride-to-be Sarah Paterson but the missives were passed to a friend after the couple’s death. The letters later went missing but were retrieved from the canal by a neighbour.
English Heritage is keeping a close eye on a group of moles at Epiacum, a Roman fort some 12 miles south of Hadrian’s Wall, after ancient artifacts appeared in their mole hills. A bead from a jet necklace, pieces of earthenware pots, a quarter-inch-long shard of rare Samian ware pottery are among some of the objects dug up by the organisation’s newest recruits, and some 37 volunteers have been tasked with sifting through the soil. Elaine Edgar, who owns and farms the land commented: “The moles are able to do what we humans are forbidden by law to do. As farmers we are not allowed to do anything that turns the land over. English Heritage had to be on site yesterday to make it legal for us even to sieve through the molehills.”