What was the Miocene?; The Ardagh Chalice; Knossos, Crete.

What was the Miocene?

The Miocene is a name given to the geographical epoch dating from 23.03 – 5.332 million years ago. It was named by Sir Charles Lyell and means less recent.

The miocene is sub-divided as below

  • 7.246-5.332 ma       Messinan
  • 11.608-7.246 ma     Tortonina
  • 13.65-11.608 ma      Serravallian
  • 15.97-13.65 ma        Langhian
  • 20.43-15.97 ma       Burdigalian
  • 23.03-20.43 ma      Aquitanian

The period did not happen globally at the same time but happened in different region within a certain time period.

North American Miocene Animals ©Jay Matternes
North American Miocene Animals
©Jay Matternes

The time differences given above are due to the formation of new plant (flora) and animal (fauna) species developing on the planet. It was also a time when grasslands developed and the land and marine animals evolved. Below are some of the animals that are still around today, although in a much more evolved stage.

  • bears
  • beavers
  • camels
  • deer
  • dogs
  • horses
  • racoons
  • whales
  • about 100 different types of ape
Late Miocene Hominidae © Chartep
Late Miocene Hominidae
© Chartep

This is also the period when the first hominids started to develop – that is, you and me, on our human journey through time!!



  • Hartwig. W. C. 2002. The Primate Fossil Record. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Prothero. D. R. 2006. After the Dinosaurs: The Age of Mammals. Indiana: Indiana University Press.
  • Late Miocene Hominidae – By Chartep (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • North American Miocene Animals – ©Jay Matternes [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Archaeology Wow!! – The Ardagh Chalice

The Ardagh Chalice is a 15 cm high cup, with two handles, that was found in Ireland,  in the area of an old fort surrounded by earthworks, by a young boy when he was digging for potatoes.

The Ardagh Chalice © Kglavin
The Ardagh Chalice
© Kglavin

It was part of a hoard of items, but by far the grandest piece. Dating to the 8th century the vessel is decorated with gold, brass, gilt bronze, lead pewter and also glass and rock crystal. In all there are 354 pieces to this amazing artwork which demonstrates the skill and craftsmanship of Christian Irish metalworkers.

The names of the Apostles are around the edge using script that is very similar to the Lindisfarne Gospels. There are also images depicting birds animals and interlocking geometric designs. There are small square blocks of blue glass around the foot showing a strong Saxon influence.

It is beleived that the cup would have been used by monks during mass.

Experts believe that the hoard may have been from a looted Viking hoard buried to keep it safe. I am so glad they did not come back for it! You can view the chachalice the National Museum of Dublin.


  • Kipfer. B. A. 2008. Dictionary of Artifacts. Indiana: Wiley & Sons.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.). 1977. Treasures of Early Irish Art, 1500 B.C. to 1500 A.D.: From the Collections of the National Museum of Ireland, Royal Irish Academy, Trinity College, Dublin. 
  • The Ardagh Chalice – © Kglavin [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.



Archaeological Site Guide – Knossos, Crete

Knossos is a Bronze Age site on the island of Crete that was built between 1700-1400 BC, and covers 6 acres. We know that this is the sites original name as it is referred to by a number of the old Greek writers in their work.

Knossos Pottery © By michael clarke
Knossos Pottery
© By michael clarke

The site was discovered in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos but it was not investigated until 1900 when Sir Arthur Evans, a British archaeologist, realised its full potential and spent the next 35 years excavating the site.

Evans called the inhabitants of the site Minoans. In his excavations he uncovered 1300 interconnecting rooms, workrooms, living spaces, store rooms, grain mills, oil presses, wine presses, a central square/court and a theatre. The site also had a very elaborate water system that transported water from many kilometers away up to the top of the hill the site stood on. One of the most elaborate rooms in the palace is called the Throne Room, as it has a seat made of stone which is beleived to be for the ruler at the time.

Throne Room © By Deror_avi
Throne Room
© By Deror_avi

The palace also included many walls with frescos on them, and other finds included finely decorated and painted pottery, and seals with insignia, leading experts to believe the site was an important political and ceremonial centre.

Bull Fresco ©Wiki Commons
Bull Fresco
©Wiki Commons

The most famous artefact to be found is that of the Snake Goddess.

Snake Goddess ©George Groutas
Snake Goddess
©George Groutas

The site was abandoned around 1380-1100 BC but it is still unclear as to why. The palace has been fully excavated and partially restored.



  • Castleden. R. 2012. Knossos Labyrinth: A New View of the `Palace of Minos’ at Knossos. Oxon: Routledge.
  • Rossi. R. 2007. Knossos. Newton Abbot: David & Charles.
  • Knossos Pottery – © By michael clarke stuff (Knossos  Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Throne Room – © By Deror_avi (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Snake Goddess – By George Groutas [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Great Books to Read…….


Great Web Pages to Look At…….



Activity – Word Search 30 January 2015 docx

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