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1,400-year-old ‘ghost’ ship will sail England’s coast once again

<i>Justin Minns/National Trust Images</i><br/>The wooden ship had been dragged half a mile from the River Deben
©National Trust Images/Justin M
Justin Minns/National Trust Images
The wooden ship had been dragged half a mile from the River Deben

By Ashley Strickland, CNN

When archaeologist Peggy Piggott uncovered two tiny gold objects on July 21, 1939, the past became a little more illuminated.

Investigating the remains of an Anglo-Saxon burial mound, she was digging alongside others at the Sutton Hoo site, in Suffolk county in eastern England, on the eve of World War II. Inside the mound, the researchers unearthed ancient treasures, all with impossibly intricate designs that defied previous expectations of the early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

As the scientists brushed through the dirt, fragments emerged that were later reassembled to reveal weapons and masks with elaborate details.

The discovery shed light on the artistry, sophistication and culture of the seventh century people who created these artifacts, forever reshaping the way we see our ancestors from medieval times.

Now, another intrepid team wants to piece together the one item that has never been restored.

Dig this

The “ghost” ship that served as the burial vessel for an Anglo-Saxon warrior king in the seventh century has fascinated visitors to Sutton Hoo for decades since it was found inside this ceremonial mound.

Only orderly rows of rivets and impressions in the dirt mark where the 90-foot-long (27.4-meter-long) boat once sat in the sandy soil.

Now, The Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company charity is bringing the vessel back to life and reconstructing a full-scale ship that will be rowed across England’s rivers once more.

The keel of the ship has already been laid, using authentic Anglo-Saxon tools and techniques, and its decorated sides should grace the water in spring 2024. A team of 40 rowers will take the ship through waterways that their ancestors once used 1,400 years ago.

Defying gravity

The fourth time was the charm for the Artemis I mega moon rocket. The 322-foot-tall (98-meter-tall) stack successfully made it through its latest attempt at final-stage testing, which NASA refers to as the wet dress rehearsal, on Monday.

Some issues cropped up during the crucial prelaunch test — including a hydrogen leak that nearly called it to a halt — but the Artemis team persevered and fully fueled the rocket for the first time.

The rocket will roll back inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida next week, and engineers will fix the leak and prepare for launch.

The next time the rocket rolls out to the launchpad in August, it’s expected that it will finally venture into space.

Fantastic creatures

Conservation photographer Claudio Contreras Koob has been fascinated by flamingos since he was 4 years old, watching colonies gather in the lagoons behind his house on the Yucatán Peninsula.

His new book, “Flamingo,” collects the stunning photos he captured over several years.

To prevent the birds from panicking and abandoning their colony, he developed a slow approach, including sitting in his boat from dawn until nightfall. This strategy allowed him to take intimate portraits.

Flamingos live in extreme environments that would irritate most animals. The wetlands that serve as their nesting and breeding sites are protected in Mexico, but that hasn’t stopped pollution and the impact of the climate crisis from creeping in.

We are family

When stone tools were found in a southeast England riverbed in the 1920s, they were moved to The British Museum in London.

Now, using modern techniques, researchers have dated the objects and discovered they were used in one of the earliest known Stone Age communities in Northern Europe.

The 330 stone tools belonged to an ancestor of Neanderthals, called Homo heidelbergensis. These early humans lived between 560,000 and 620,000 years ago in southern Britain.

At the time, Britain was part of the European continent, so hunter-gatherers had room to roam. Little evidence from the time this rare community thrived has been uncovered, until now.

A long time ago

Extreme drought has revealed a 3,400-year-old city in northern Iraq.

When the Mosul reservoir’s water levels dropped, Kurdish and German archaeologists began excavating the site in January and February, facing snow and hail because they didn’t know how much time they had.

The researchers believe it’s the Bronze Age city Zakhiku, a sprawling hub of the Mittani Empire that ruled between 1550 BC and 1350 BC.

The archaeologists uncovered structures and ceramic vessels holding more than 100 clay cuneiform tablets. The tablets could reveal the fate of the city, which was hit by a devastating earthquake around 1350 BC.

Take note

Don’t miss these attention-grabbers:

— Something that looked to be the size and shape of an eyelash turned out to be the world’s largest bacterium — and it’s big enough to be visible to the naked eye.

— You’ve got to see it to believe it. This tiny and colorful frog may not be able to jump, but people can’t stop watching the pumpkin toadlet cartwheel and crash-land.

— Tune in for the launch of the CAPSTONE mission early Monday morning. The microwave oven-size spacecraft will test out a new orbit between Earth and the moon that’s intended for the lunar Gateway outpost.

Like what you’ve read? Oh, but there’s more. Sign up here to receive in your inbox the next edition of Wonder Theory, brought to you by CNN Space and Science writer Ashley Strickland, who finds wonder in planets beyond our solar system and discoveries from the ancient world.

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