Monday, March 30, 2020

Two of Europe’s Biggest Cairns are About to Be Buried in Trash

Two of the biggest European cairns are facing destruction in the World Heritage city of Maulbronn, Germany. If it happens, the prehistoric monuments would be lost and scientific investigation impossible. This would be extremely unfortunate for all the citizens who would like to see these huge prehistoric cairns restored – not buried under trash.

If the present owners of the city’s quarry - Lauster-Steinbruch Stuttgarter Straße - had their way, the mighty buildings would be sold to the landfill operator Fischer in Weilheim and be covered by 400,000 cubic meters of construction waste.

The Massive Cairns of Maulbronn
In the archaeology of Western Europe these impressive relics are generally referred to as megalithic cairns , but they are totally undervalued in Maulbronn. In other parts of Europe, these monuments have been investigated and restored for almost 70 years.

Read the rest of this article...

New Sutton Hoo Movie Rights the Wrongs of Archaeological Snobbery

The new Sutton Hoo movie, called The Dig, that is due to be released on Netflix is going to tell the real story behind one of Britain’s greatest archaeological discoveries. It dramatizes the excavation at Sutton Hoo in England that changed our understanding of the history of Europe in the Dark Ages . It will also address a decades-old injustice and finally gives credit to the amateur archaeologist who was behind the historic discovery.

The movie focuses on the discoveries made at Sutton Hoo in Eastern England, by a self-taught archaeologist, Basil Brown, who was born near Ipswich in 1888. He had been a farmer, milkman and woodcutter, before securing a job with Ipswich Museum. Brown was poor and had no formal education in archaeology, but he had made some important historical finds in previous years. Brown was a simple country fellow and often used string to hold up his work pants.

Sutton Hoo Movie Tells Story of Eccentric Genius
In 1938 a local widow by the name of Edith Pretty asked Ipswich Museum to excavate some 18 mounds on her land. These were well-known to locals and were the source of many legends. The museum sent out Brown, who was the only person available to investigate the site and he was later helped by Mrs. Pretty’s gardener and gamekeeper.

Read the rest of this article...

7 Historic European Castles Virtually Rebuilt Before Your Very Eyes

A reconstruction of Spiš Castle in eastern Slovakia.

While some centuries-old castles are still standing tall, others haven’t withstood the ravages of time, war, or natural disaster quite as well. To give you an idea of what once was, Australia-based insurance company Budget Direct has digitally reconstructed seven of them for its blog, Simply Savvy.

Watch below as ruins across Europe transform back into the formidable forts and turreted castles they used to be, courtesy of a little modern-day magic we call GIF technology.


The only remaining piece of the 13th-century castle built by Bohemia’s King Ottokar II is the base of the guard tower—the rest of the ruins are from an expansion that happened about 300 years later. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the Croatian city of Samobor, which bought the property in 1902.

Read the rest of this article...

Defiant British Museum appoints Mary Beard as trustee

Professor Mary Beard, who has been appointed as a trustee of the British Museum. 
Photograph: Michael Bowles/Rex/Shutterstock

Board approves the ‘perfect candidate’ after she was rejected by No 10 for her pro-European views.

Renowned classicist Mary Beard has been chosen as a trustee of the British Museum, despite Downing Street blocking her nomination last year because of her pro-European views.

Under the museum’s constitution, its board can pick five of the 25 trustees. Downing Street approves most of the others and after it rejected Beard, the board appointed her itself.

The Cambridge don, who will take up the role for an initial period of four years on Monday, said she was delighted. “It was a visit to the BM which first inspired me to work on the ancient world,” she told the Observer. “I have been a huge beneficiary of this and other museums in the country over the past 60 years, and am now delighted to be able to give something back.”

Read the rest of this article...

Saturday, March 28, 2020

How Stone Age humans unlocked the glucose in plants

Ground stones were a 'major evolutionary success' as they allowed people to unlock the energy in plants by making flour. 
Image credit - José-Manuel Benito Álvarez/Wikimedia commons

Early cave paintings of hunting scenes may give the impression our Stone Age ancestors lived mainly on chunks of meat, but plants – and the ability to unlock the glucose inside – were just as key to their survival. 

Plants rich in starch helped early humans to thrive even at the height of the last Ice Age, researchers say.

While the evidence around meat eating is clear, the role of plant foods is less understood. Animal bones can last millions of years and still show cuts made by human butchering tools, whereas almost all plant remains disintegrate.

But new studies into the remains of plants that do exist are uncovering why and how our ancestors ate them.

Read the rest of this article...

Bone analyzes tell about kitchen utensils in the Middle Ages

Clay pots? Wooden spoons? Copper pots? Silver forks? What materials has man used for making kitchen utensils throughout history? A new study now sheds light on the use of kitchen utensils made of copper.

At first thought, you would not expect hundreds of years old bones from a medieval cemetery to be able to tell you very much – let alone anything about what kinds of kitchen utensils were used to prepare food.

But when you put such a bone in the hands of Professor Kaare Lund Rasmussen, the bone begins to talk about the past.

A warehouse full of bones
- For the first time, we have succeeded in tracing the use of copper cookware in bones. Not in isolated cases, but in many bones over many years, and thus we can identify trends in historical use of copper in the household, he explains.

Read the rest of this article...

Neanderthals ate sharks and dolphins

There is evidence of the intensive and long-term exploitation of marine food resources at Figueira Brava JOAO ZILHÃO

Neanderthals were eating fish, mussels and seals at a site in present-day Portugal, according to a new study.

The research adds to mounting evidence that our evolutionary relatives may have relied on the sea for food just as much as ancient modern humans.

For decades, the ability to gather food from the sea and from rivers was seen as something unique to our own species.

Scientists found evidence for an intensive reliance on seafood at a Neanderthal site in southern Portugal.

Neanderthals living between 106,000 and 86,000 years ago at the cave of Figueira Brava near Setubal were eating mussels, crab, fish - including sharks, eels and sea bream - seabirds, dolphins and seals.

Read the rest of this article...


À​ Bréviandes (Aube), une fouille de l’Inrap a livré des habitats et des sépultures du Néolithique ancien jusqu’au Néolithique récent. La Protohistoire est également représentée sur le site avec une trace d’occupation au Bronze ancien, une nécropole du Bronze final et une fosse de combustion du Hallstatt ancien à début moyen.

Read the rest of this article...

Cave find shows Neanderthals collected seafood, scientists say

A reconstruction of a Neanderthal created for the Natural History Museum in London. 
Photograph: Richard Gray/Alamy

Neanderthals made extensive use of coastal environments, munching on fish, crabs and mussels, researchers have found, in the latest study to reveal similarities between modern humans and our big-browed cousins.

Until now, many Neanderthal sites had shown only small-scale use of marine resources; for example, scattered shells. But now archaeologists have excavated a cave on the coast of Portugal and discovered a huge, structured deposit of remains, including from mussels and limpets, dating to between 106,000 and 86,000 years ago.

Researchers say the discovery shows that Neanderthals systematically collected seafood: in some layers the density of shells was as high as 370kg per cubic metre. They say this is exciting because the use of marine resources on such a scale and in such a way had previously been thought to be a trait of anatomically modern humans.

Read the rest of this article...

German archaeologists unearth massive mammoth tusk

Bavarian authorities announced Friday evening that archeologists had found an unusually large, ice-age mammoth tusk during an excavation .

The tusk, measuring nearly 2.5 meters (8 ft) in length, was found southeast of the city of Regensburg as archeologists were looking for remains of a 15th-century town, Bavaria's Regional Office for Cultural and Historic Preservation said in a press release.

"With its 2.45-meter length, including tip tooth, this tusk is an extraordinarily complete find. An absolute stroke of luck," said Gertrud Rössner, the head of the state's geological and paleontological mammal collection.

Read more: Stone-Age 'chewing gum' reveals human DNA

Mammoths lived in Bavaria, Germany's most southwest state, until 20,000 years ago. In it is not usually for mammoth remains to be unearthed in Bavaria but finding such a long and complete tusk is extremely rare, the office said.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Tests to determine age of Cerne Abbas Giant

Cerne Abbas Giant

Archaeologists are hoping to establish the age of an ancient naked figure sculpted into a chalk hillside.

Soil samples have been extracted from the Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset. Tests are expected to reveal a "date range" for when the landmark was created.

It is hoped results, on soil samples from the giant's elbows and feet, will be available in July.

The technique used will be the same as that used to date the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire in the 1990s.

Prof Phillip Toms, of the University of Gloucestershire, will attempt to date the samples using a technique called optically stimulated luminescence (OSL).

Read the rest of this article...

Saturday, March 21, 2020

How Bad was Life in Medieval Europe Really?

When we think about the life in medieval Europe, we tend to conjure up grim and dismal images of war, poverty, sickness, and the Dark Ages . But was it truly so dark? Is there more to it, or are we mistaken?

In our latest article we are going in depth to uncover all the little details that made up the lives of all classes of medieval society: from lords to peasants, soldiers to courtiers. It is time to finally approach this subject from a realistic point of view - no embellishment, no escaping the true facts. So now we go back in time to those illustrious Middle Ages and dig deep into the lives of those that came before us.

Understanding Life in Medieval Europe
It is widely agreed that the Middle Ages in Europe lasted roughly from the 5th century to the 15th century AD. In some places it declined sooner, others later, but in general it began giving way to the Renaissance period and the famed Age of Discovery around the 15th century, as lifestyle began to drastically advance all around Europe. But how was life for the denizens of medieval societies during this long period?

Read the rest of this article...

The Celtic Ogham: An Ancient Tree Alphabet that May Disappear Before Showing its Roots

An ancient ogham stone on the top of Dunmore Head on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. ( Cynthia /Adobe Stock)

In secluded fields, on the walls of churches, and beneath construction sites, stones have been found with intricate markings that rise from the lower left up to the center and then down to the lower right. This is the ancient Celtic Tree Alphabet known as Ogham (pronounced owam). Archaeological linguists have managed to translate the symbols, yet no one knows for certain how or why this language came into existence. Efforts are being made to preserve the relics; however, the stones are weathering and crumbling at an alarming rate.

Attempts to Save the Unique Ogham Inscriptions
There are roughly 400 stones known to contain Ogham markings, 360 of which are in Ireland. The rest have been discovered scattered across Wales, Scotland, England, and the Isle of Man. The oldest relic is believed to date back to the 4th century AD, but one must assume that earlier examples existed on perishable mediums, such as wood, possibly as far back as the 1st century AD.

For the most part, the messages contain names of people and places, perhaps to demarcate boundaries and property. These old, weathered rocks are covered with lines and slashes, cut directly into the stone. Before the realization that Ogham was a distinct language, many believed the cuts to be merely decorative.

Read the rest of this article...

What chemical analyzes of human bones tell us about kitchen utensils in the Middle Ages

Clay pots? Wooden spoons? Copper pots? Silver forks? What materials has man used for making kitchen utensils throughout history? A new study now sheds light on the use of kitchen utensils made of copper.

At first thought, you would not expect hundreds of years old bones from a medieval cemetery to be able to tell you very much – let alone anything about what kinds of kitchen utensils were used to prepare food.

But when you put such a bone in the hands of Professor Kaare Lund Rasmussen, University of Southern Denmark, the bone begins to talk about the past.

A warehouse full of bones
– For the first time, we have succeeded in tracing the use of copper cookware in bones. Not in isolated cases, but in many bones over many years, and thus we can identify trends in historical use of copper in the household, he explains.

The research team has analyzed bones from 553 skeletons that are between 1200 and 200 years old. They all come from nine, now abandoned cemeteries in Jutland, Denmark and Northern Germany. The skeletons are today kept at Schloss Gottorf in Schleswig, Germany and at the University of Southern Denmark.

Some of the bones examined are from Danish cities such as Ribe and Haderslev, while others are from small rural communities, such as Tirup and Nybøl.

Read the rest of this article...

Trnava archaeologists made a 6,000-year-old discovery Čítajte viac:

Ceramic fragments found under the fortification wall prove the skilfulness of the Lengyel culture.

Archaeologists discovered in Trnava's Zelený Kríček settlement hole many decorated ceramics fragments, antler tools and fragments of stone tools older than 6,000 years.

The investor is building a polyfunctional object near the gallery and the research, according to its head, Andrej Žitňan, uncovered an object which could be a part of the larger settlement discovered four years ago at Františkánska Street.

The discovery is located outside the middle age centre of the town just in front of the town's fortification wall.

Read the rest of this article...

Fine-tuning radiocarbon dating could 'rewrite' ancient events

A human femur, thought to be from medieval times, being sampled for carbon dating
[Credit: James King-Holmes/Science Photo Library]

Radiocarbon dating, invented in the late 1940s and improved ever since to provide more precise measurements, is the standard method for determining the dates of artifacts in archaeology and other disciplines.

"If it's organic and old - up to 50,000 years - you date it by radiocarbon," said Sturt Manning, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Classical Archaeology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Manning is lead author of a new paper that points out the need for an important new refinement to the technique. The outcomes of his study, published in Science Advances, have relevance for understanding key dates in Mediterranean history and prehistory, including the tomb of Tutankhamen and a controversial but important volcanic eruption on the Greek island of Santorini.

Radiocarbon dating measures the decomposition of carbon-14, an unstable isotope of carbon created by cosmic radiation and found in all organic matter. Cosmic radiation, however, is not constant at all times. To account for fluctuations of cosmic radiation in the Earth's atmosphere, the radiocarbon content of known-age tree rings was measured backward in time from the 20th century, for thousands of years.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Oldest Circular Structure Discovered – and It’s Made of Mammoth Bones

25,000-year-old mammoth bone structure, Kostenki, Russia: 12.5 meters in diameterA.E. Dudin

Mysterious bone circle built 25,000 years ago from the remains of at least 60 mammoths seems to have been too big – and smelly – to be a dwelling, archaeologists posit

While glaciers rolled over Eurasia as the Ice Age reached its peak, prehistoric persons in what is today Eastern Europe eschewed fleeing south, possibly because it didn’t occur to them, and built structures against the desperately cold winds from the material they had at hand: mammoth bones.

Now archaeologists are reporting the discovery of the oldest and biggest of the roughly 70 circular structures made of woolly mammoth bones that’s ever found in Eastern Europe. Measuring over 12.5 meters in diameter and dating to about 25,000 years ago, this third such structure, unearthed in Kostenki, Russia, is so huge that no less than 60 mammoths were used to build it, an international team of archaeologists report in the journal Antiquity on Monday.

“Mammoth bones are very heavy and building the circular structure represents a huge investment of time and energy by the humans that built this,” lead author Dr. Alexander Pryor of the University of Exeter tells Haaretz.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Investigating a pre-Roman oil press

The oil press under excavation

Excavations near Ferrandina in southern Italy, an area rich in sites dating from the Iron Age to the Lucanian period (8th-3rd century BC), have been investigating an ancient olive oil press identified during preventative archaeological work in 2007.

Read the rest of this article...

Man Fearing Coronavirus Apocalypse Returns Stolen Ballista

The COVID-19 or coronavirus outbreak has shaken many around the world. In Israel, a man with a guilty conscience, who fears the virus could result in the end of the world, gave back a Roman catapult stone he stole many years ago. This ballista stone was probably fired during the Siege of Jerusalem , some 2000 years ago.

Small numbers of people have begun to worry about an apocalypse, those with a guilty conscience want to put things right before the end of the world. According to HAARETZ “some people are stirred by the notion of impending doom to return antiquities they stole years or even decades ago.”

Mysterious Culprit Sees Sense
The identity of the culprit is unknown. He used an intermediary Moshe Manies to return the item because he was too shamefaced or frankly scared of facing any punishment. The stolen item was returned to the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) by Mr. Manies.

Read the rest of this article...

The tooth enamel of the Atapuerca hominids grew faster than in modern humans

The CENIEH has conducted the first study which tackles counting the two types of enamel growth lines, in Lower Pleistocene and Middle Pleistocene populations in Europe. The data obtained in this research, together with those from other studies under way, could constitute the first solid evidence showing that the hominids from the Sierra de Atapuerca reached maturity earlier than modern humans

The Dental Anthropology Group of the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH) has just published a paper in the journal Scientific Reports, led by the paleoanthropologist Mario Modesto-Mata, which counts for the first time the two types of growth lines observed in the tooth enamel of Lower and Middle Pleistocene hominids in Europe. This investigation has focused in particular on the species recognized at the sites in the Sierra de Atapuerca. The results indicate that the growth rate of the enamel in these hominids could have been up to 25% faster than in Homo sapiens.

This work, in which New York University and University College London as well as other institutions also participated, studies in minute detail the formation of enamel in the Atapuerca hominids, both at the sites of Sima del Elefante (1.2 million years), Gran Dolina-TD6 (Homo antecessor: 850,000 years) and Sima de los Huesos (430,000 years), in addition to in a fairly extensive collection of Homo sapiens teeth.

Read the rest of this article...

Rare Roman coin minted in London among record number of treasure discoveries

Roman relic: The coin is one of a record number of treasures
A rare Roman coin minted in London thousands of years ago is among record amounts of treasure declared today.
The bronze coin is thought to be one of the last made during the reign of the British rebel emperor Carausius whose brief reign from AD 286–293 saw Roman Britain break away from the wider empire in continental Europe.
Found in Hampshire, it has been donated to the British Museum which today revealed the number of treasure discoveries — which covers gold and silver more than 300 years old and other ancient objects — has hit a record level again.
According to its annual report there were 1,311 finds across England, Wales and Northern Ireland last year. 
Read the rest of this article...

British Museum says metal detectorists found 1,311 treasures last year

A Roman Britain coin, known as a radiate, found in Headbourne Worthy in Hampshire. 
Photograph: British Museum

An astonishingly well-preserved medieval brooch featuring what could be dragon and dog decorations is among a record number of objects discovered last year by the nation’s army of metal detectorists.

The British Museum on Tuesday announced that 1,311 finds which are defined as treasure had been found by members of the public across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2019.

They also included an iron age drinking set, a solid gold bronze age arm ring and a coin which helps tell the story of Carausius, a usurper emperor who in 286AD broke Britain away from Europe, in an adventure which ended badly.

Michael Lewis, the head of the British Museum’s portable antiquities scheme, said the 1,100-year-old brooch discovered in Norfolk was a particularly striking and rare discovery.

“It is an amazing example of Anglo-Saxon art of the period,” he said. “When the finder found it the reaction was, is this old? It could be something more modern which was inspired by the past. Your gut reaction might be that it was Victorian.”

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Islamic-Era Palace Gate Uncovered in Spain

(Piet Theisohn via Wikimedia Commons)

ANDALUSIA, SPAIN—According to a Times of London report, traces of a multilevel gateway to the massive fortified palace built in the tenth century A.D. by Abd-al-Rahman III, the first caliph of Cordoba, have been uncovered in southern Spain. Alberto Canto of the Autonomous University of Madrid said that the gate is thought to mark the eastern entrance to the palace parade ground at the ruins of the royal city of Medina Azahara.

Read the rest of this article...

Mysterious bone circles made of mammoth remains help explain how man survived Ice Age

The majority of the bones found at the site are from mammoths. A total of 51 lower jaws and 64 individual mammoth skulls were used to construct the walls of the 30ft by 30ft structure and scattered across its interior. ( PA )

Mysterious bone circles made from the remains of dozens of mammoths have helped shed light on how ancient communities survived Europe's Ice Age.

Around 70 of these structures are known to exist in Ukraine and the west Russian Plains.

The bones at one site are more than 20,000 years old, new analysis suggests, making it the oldest such circular structure built by humans discovered in the region.

Researchers said the bones were most likely sourced from animal graveyards, and the circle was then hidden by sediment and is now one foot below current surface level.

Read the rest of this article...

Mysterious Ice Age structure made from hundreds of mammoth bones discovered in Russia

Around 25,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers used the bones from 60 mammoths to build a large circular structure in Russia.

And no one knows why.

Researchers have excavated the site in an attempt to understand it, but they don't know why the structure was built, according to a new study.

This isn't the first "mammoth house" to be found in Russia, but it is the oldest and largest, measuring 41 feet across.

In the 1960s and '70s, researchers found similar, smaller buildings at the site, which they dubbed Kostenki 11. It's 310 miles south of Moscow and now home to a museum, the State Archaeological Museum-Reserve Kostenki.

Read the rest of this article...

Fife farmer, 80, to face trial accused of carving path through ancient Angus standing stones site

Forfar Sheriff Court

An 80-year-old Fife farmer has denied damaging standing stones in a nationally important Neolithic or Bronze Age Angus site by carving a path through it for tree-clearing works.

Andrew Simpson will face trial later this summer in relation to four charges connected to alleged damage to the registered stone circles at Baldovie Wood, near Kirriemuir.

Prosecutors say he caused damage to two stone circles and three monoliths with mechanical works and then tried to repair it by replacing the stones after being told he should not.

The Cupar farmer has been charged under the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act but was not present at Forfar Sheriff Court when his case called on Thursday and tendered a not guilty plea by letter.

Read the rest of this article...