Saturday, April 30, 2005

Are we loving our heritage to death?

Fake statues in Florence. A rope around Stonehenge. Is this the only way we'll get to see the world's great sights in the future? Oliver Bennett investigates

There seems to be an awful lot of interest in the world's cultural monuments. If it's not Dan Cruickshank's Round The World In 80 Treasures, then it's the BBC's 50 Things To Do Before You Die, or the current search for the seven modern wonders of the world. At some point in our lives, we've all got to see Machu Picchu and the Pyramids, haven't we?

Well, an increasingly vocal group of conservationists, consultants and non-governmental agencies want tourists and tour operators alike to think more carefully; even to consider alternatives. Because tourist congestion can prove dangerous to the health of the world's must-see monuments, and working out how to manage the "carrying capacity" of sites (to use the jargon) is becoming an urgent priority.

The Guardian

Christie's withdraws ancient Iranian artifact from sale

LONDON -- Christie's auction house said on Wednesday that it had withdrawn from sale a 2,500-year-old relief fragment from ancient Persepolis to allow a British court to evaluate an Iranian demand to recover the artifact.

Christie's said that it had taken the action after the court ordered "that the fragment be withdrawn from sale to enable Iran to put forward evidence in support of its claim".

The limestone relief, featuring a head of an Achaemenid soldier, is said to have come from the eastern stairways of Apadana palace, built by Xerxes I (486-465 BC) in Persepolis, now in southern Fars province.

Iranian officials said that the piece was smuggled out of Iran some time between 1933 and 1974, when it is thought to have been auctioned at another British house, Sotheby's.

Middle East Times

Soil search reveals Rose Theatre secrets

New light is being shed on the Elizabethan Bankside theatregoing experience by a re-examination of evidence from an old excavation of the Rose Theatre site in Park Street.

According to a report in the latest issue of BBC History Magazine, a detailed new analysis of soil samples taken from the site 15 years ago suggests that a trip to the theatre in the 1590s was a huge party.

Beer, ale and wine were drunk in apparently large quantities, huge numbers of cockles, mussels and oysters were consumed, and tobacco was already being smoked extensively, even though it had only been introduced to Europe a few decades earlier.

London SE1

Sponsors may be invited to pay for Acropolis works

Government says project will take another 16 years, 70 million euros

Dismayed by spiraling costs and a seemingly open-ended completion schedule for conservation works on Greece's most iconic archaeological site, the government is thinking of seeking private sponsorship to expedite the Acropolis project.

If the intention voiced late on Wednesday by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis should materialize, it would constitute a major departure from the policy of the past three decades - the massive program started in 1975.

Then, the prime minister of the day, Constantine Karamanlis, had refused to accept private or foreign funding for the works as a matter of national pride, although this principle was later diluted to let the European Union help foot the bill.


Video of Loughcrew Spring Equinox

On the morning of March 23rd, Michael Fox was inside the chamber of Cairn T to witness the spring equinox sunrise illuminate the backstone. Click on the link below
to view a video of the event which has been compressed from 50 minutes to 40
seconds. The file is just under 2mb in size and is in WMV format (Windows
Media Video).

To view photographs of the event:

If you live in Ireland and are interested in Labyrinths, there is Labyrinth
Day on Saturday 16th July 2005 at An Tobar, Ardbraccan, Navan.
The purpose of the day is to share our experiences of working with the
Labyrinth. Email me if you are interested in attending.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Roman fort at Brougham

Everyone who lived at the Roman fort at Brougham, Cumbria, was buried in a cemetery close by. Excavation of the graves revealed an astonishing world of pagan beliefs. Hilary Cool explains

Some sites are dug before their time. Such was the case with the cemetery at Brougham in Cumbria. Brougham was long ago identified with Brocavum, a place noted in the 3rd century AD road book known as the Antonine Itinerary. Antiquarian reports had recorded Roman tombstones from the area east of the fort and vicus, an attached civilian settlement, alongside the trans-Pennine road. So excavations were planned when it was known this cemetery would be destroyed by the straightening of the A66.

Unfortunately this was at a time when archaeological concerns were of little importance to road builders, and archaeologists were poorly funded (and, apparently, unable to afford colour film). A preliminary excavation was carried out in 1966. More extensive work was planned for the following year, but the engineering works started early. A small team was faced with excavating a huge area of 70m by 200m at the same time as the road was being built. Under very difficult circumstances they excavated much of a cremation cemetery including urned burials, the foundations of at least two monumental towers, and a large number of features which they thought were robbed graves.

British Archaeology

Wieder-Aufbau und Marshall-Plan – Ausstellung im Technischen Museum Wien

Wieder-Aufbau und Marshall-Plan – Ausstellung im Technischen Museum Wien noch bis zum 2. Oktober 2005

Das Jahr 2005 ist für Österreich in vieler Hinsicht ein Jubiläumsjahr: 60 Jahre Kriegsende, 50 Jahre Staatsvertrag und zehn Jahre EU-Beitritt. Zu diesem Anlaß hat das Technische Museum Wien eine Sonderausstellung konzipiert, die sich dem wirtschaftlichen Wiederaufbau nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des Marshall-Plans widmet. Die Ausstellung ist in sieben Kapitel unterteilt und wird an die 500, zum Großteil noch nicht gezeigte Objekte, präsentieren, die aus österreichischen und amerikanischen öffentlichen Sammlungen oder aus Privatbesitz stammen.[...]

Archaeo-News Blog

Waffen und Rüstung im Wandel der Zeit

"Waffen und Rüstung im Wandel der Zeit" (von der Bronzezeit bis Spätantike) lautet das Thema der Tagung zu der der Lehrstuhl für klassische Archäologie der Trnava-Universität (Slowakei) im November einlädt.

Das Symposium wird sich neben den militärischen Aspekten auch mit der Kriegstechnik beschäftigen. Weitere Schwerpunkte liegen auf den Militaria in Heiligtümern, in literarischen Quellen, in der Religionsgeschichte, sowie in Politik und auf Darstellungen der bildenden Kunst

Die Veranstaltung findet von 19. - 21. 11. 2005 in Modra - Harmónia (ca. 25 km von Bratislava entfernt) statt.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Mycenaean port of Athens found?

Archaeologists in the capital’s southern coastal suburb of Palaio Faliro have uncovered what appear to be traces of ancient Athens’s first port before the city’s naval and shipping center was moved to Piraeus, a report said yesterday.

A rescue excavation on a plot earmarked for development has revealed artifacts and light structures dating, with intervals, from Mycenaean times to the fifth century BC, when the port of Phaleron — after which the modern suburb was named — was superseded by Piraeus, according to Ta Nea daily.

“This is a port associated with two myths — Theseus and the Argonauts — and an historic event, the Trojan War,” archaeologist Constantina Kaza was quoted as saying. Theseus is believed to have been a Late Bronze Age king of Athens whose successors sent a contingent to fight in Troy.

The site, some 350 meters from the modern coastline, contained pottery, tracks from the carts that would have served the port, and makeshift fireplaces where travelers waiting to take ship would have cooked and kept warm.


Shippam site set to give up its secrets

Archaeologists are poised for the biggest and most exciting Roman excavation ever carried out in Chichester city centre – after demolition plans for the former Shippams factory site were approved by district councillors yesterday.

This will be the first time ever that a dig has been carried out on a major site fronting one of the main central streets.

The area is close to an important gateway where the Roman road from London entered the city, and significant material, including masonry buildings and even mosaics, could be found.

Chichester Today

Hall project will dig deep into past

ROYTON’S past is to be unearthed in a three-year community project based around excavations of Royton Hall.

Royton Local History Society is behind the project, called “Royton Lives Through the Ages”, which will start in July when local people and schoolchildren will be invited to open days at the site in Hall Street.

The hall dates back to 1212, but it was demolished in 1939 and subsequently filled in and landscaped.

A trial archaeological dig last year gave a hint at the enormous potential of the project because 17th century masonry was found in a high level of preservation.

Oldham Evening Chronicle

Study of ancient castle launched

A THREE-year project to survey and celebrate one of the country's earliest castles at Clavering has been officially launched.

A public meeting in the village hall on Thursday marked the start of the £25,000 investigation into the earthworks which mark the site of the fort.

Unusually, it is believed to pre-date the Norman Conquest and its distinctive, oblong-shaped moat borders the north side of the parish churchyard.

The funding is a major victory for residents who formed the Landscape History Group and convinced the Heritage Lottery Fund, Nationwide Building Society and the Countryside Agency to finance their detailed exploration.

Herts-Essex News

Former Stone uncovers new book

A 68-year-old man signed books about archaeology in a Norwich bookshop today. But there were no jokes about old fossils in rock – because the author in question was Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman.

For a man accustomed to dealing with screaming hordes of fans in vast stadia across the world, it was a rather different atmosphere that greeted him this afternoon when an altogether more sedate crowd gathered to meet him at Ottakar's bookshop.

There was no mention of Mick Jagger and co – not even piped music of Stones hits.

At one point, a couple of more mature ladies stopped by to exclaim: 'Hey! That's Bill Wyman!” but screaming groupies were no-where to be seen.


New evidence challenges hypothesis of modern human origins

Chinese archaeologists said newly found evidence proves that a valley of Qingjiang River, a tributary on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, might be one of the regions where Homo sapiens, or modern man, originated.

The finding challenges the "Out-of-Africa" hypothesis of modern human origins, according to which about 100,000 years ago modern humans originated in Africa, migrated to other continents, and replaced populations of archaic humans across the globe.

The finding comes from a large-scale excavation launched in the Qingjiang River Valley in 1980s when construction began on a rangeof hydropower stations on the Qingjiang River, a fellow researcher with the Hubei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.

People's Daily

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Jawbone hints at earliest Britons

A piece of jawbone that has lain in Torquay Museum, Devon, for nearly 80 years could be the oldest example of a modern human yet found in Europe.

The Kent's Cavern specimen was thought to be about 31,000 years old, but re-dating shows it is actually between 37,000 and 40,000 years old.

However, the early dates lead the team behind the research to wonder if the jawbone is actually from a Neanderthal.

A new examination of the fragment along with DNA analysis could sort this out.

BBC News


As a former member of the Rolling Stones Bill Wyman may seem to be an unlikely archaeologist, but his latest book ‘Bill Wyman’s Treasure Islands’ explores his love of metal detecting and uncovering lost treasures.

Bill was at the Hancock Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne on Monday April 25 to visit the ‘Buried Treasure’ exhibition which celebrates the finds of farmers, beachcombers and metal detector users. His book is full of similar exciting finds and is an encouragement to anyone who would like to uncover their own treasures.

In recent years Bill has been involved with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a government funded initiative that helps people to share their finds and find out more about them.

He said: “I think that it’s a great scheme because it’s finally united detectorists with archaeologists. There was always enmity there before and in recent years it’s become much more co-effective."

24 Hour Museum News

DNA shows Celtic hero Somerled's Viking roots

A HISTORIC Celtic hero credited with driving the Vikings out of western Scotland was actually descended from a Norseman, according to research by a leading DNA expert.

According to traditional genealogies, Somerled, who is said to have died in 1164 after ousting the Vikings from Argyll, Kintyre and the Western Isles, was descended from an ancient royal line going back to when the Scots were living in Ireland.

But Bryan Sykes, an Oxford University professor of human genetics who set up a company called Oxford Ancestors to research people’s DNA past, has discovered that Somerled’s Y-chromosome - which is inherited through the male line - is of Norse origin.

Prof Sykes’ studies of three Scottish clans have also led to the conclusion that some 500,000 people alive today are descended from Somerled - a number only bettered by Genghis Khan, who, among historical figures studied to date, has an estimated 16 million living descendants.

The Scotsman


Free 29 minute video about the Hedeby Ship

In 1953 a diver exploring the former harbor area of the long-abandoned early medieval commercial town of Hedeby in northern Germany discovered the wreck of a Viking ship embedded in the muddy bottom. This ship remained submerged until 1979, when an ambitious archaeological excavation project recovered and preserved the vessel for all to see at the Viking Museum of Hedeby. This film follows the progress of that excavation and shows how a modern replica of a Viking ship was built.

The Archaeology Channel

British Gardener Unearths Major Bronze Age Hoard

A man landscaping his garden in eastern England has unearthed a major hoard of tools and weapons dating back nearly 3,000 years, an archaeologist revealed on Tuesday.

The hoard is among the largest finds in Britain from the late Bronze Age, consisting of 145 items including spear and axe heads, swords and metal working tools.

"This is one of the biggest late Bronze Age hoards ever found in Norfolk and is up there among the major finds in Britain," said Alan West, curator of archaeology at Norwich Museum some 100 miles northeast of London.

"The items are in good condition and this find is another significant piece in the Bronze Age jigsaw adding to our knowledge of the period," he told Reuters.


Remains of Roman bathhouse unearthed

THE rich Roman heritage of Britain's oldest recorded town has been enhanced by the discovery of a “beautifully preserved” room from a bathhouse.

A single 2,000-year-old room was discovered beneath Colchester Sixth Form College during work to build a fire access road near the college's information technology block.

A leading archaeologist said yesterday it was one of the finest finds of its kind. The room from the bathhouse may now be preserved as an attraction.

Philip Crummy, of the Colchester Archaeological Trust, said he and colleagues had been on a “watching brief” as work at the college was carried out.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Bronze Age artefact found in garden

One of the biggest hauls of Bronze Age artefacts ever found in Norfolk has been uncovered in a garden - but it very nearly ended up in a skip.

The 145 items dating from circa 800BC were discovered in Norwich by gardener Simon Francis as he landscaped the grounds of a house on Poplar Avenue, near Newmarket Road.

Norfolk County Council archaeologists have described the haul as one of the largest and most significant they have known, providing a vital insight into the era.

But yesterday Mr Francis admitted he had not initially appreciated the importance of the find. He said: "I have been working as a gardener for years and I've often come across bits of pottery.

EDP 24

Treasure hunters go for gold

Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project's (SHARP) annual six-week summer dig regularly unearths vital clues about the village over the centuries. But sometimes you only need to scratch the surface of the land to find out about Sedgeford's past, as volunteers on the SHARP Easter fieldwalking fortnight found out. Lynn News reporter joined the fieldwalk in the search for clues.

In the past two years Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP) seems to have got into the habit of striking gold – literally.

In 2003 the summer dig in the field known as the old boneyard hit national headlines when volunteer Kevin Woodward, an RAF technician, uncovered a cow bone filled with 20 Iron Age gold coins.

Kings Lynn Today

Papyrus Reveals New Clues to Ancient World

Classical Greek and Roman literature is being read for the first time in 2,000 years thanks to new technology. The previously illegible texts are among a hoard of papyrus manuscripts. Scholars say the rediscovered writings will provide a fascinating new window into the ancient world.

Salvaged from an ancient garbage dump in Egypt, the collection is kept at Oxford University in England. Known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, the collection includes writings by great classical Greek authors such as Homer, Sophocles, and Euripides.

National Geographic

Roman relics spark village dig

Archaeologists are to excavate what they think could be the site of a Roman lead mine dating back at least 1,600 years.

In June last year, Cambria Archaeology unearthed the best preserved example of a medieval track in Wales in a peat bog near Borth in Ceredigion.

But workers also stumbled across evidence of what they described as a Roman "industrial estate."

Next month they are going back to the village to probe the area again.

BBC News

Monday, April 25, 2005

Italians urged to reprieve Apollonia

ALBANIA’S forthcoming elections are proving perilous for the great Classical city of Apollonia, which lies near the country’s Adriatic coastline not far from the city of Fier.

A new road — intended to speed access to still pristine beaches for an electorate rapidly becoming used to Western leisure activities after half a century of drab communism — threatens to destroy important and unexplored parts of Apollonia even as Albania starts to promote archaeo-tourism as a euro-earner.

Today, Apollonia lies several miles inland from the Adriatic, but when it was founded as a colony of Corinth in the sixth century BC it was a major port, competing with Dyrrhachium (modern Durrës) for trade.

“Its zenith was in Hellenistic and perhaps Republican times, when this prominent walled hilltop was packed with monumental buildings and, in the valleys to the south, a great cemetery of tumuli was created,” says Professor Richard Hodges of the University of East Anglia.

Times On Line

Neolithic burial site unearthed in Slovak Republic

An ancient burial ground has been discovered at a building site near Levice city centre (Slovak Republic), where a new shopping centre will be built. Marián Samuel from the Archaeological Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, said that the most precious find of the Neolithic settlement is a skeleton of what they believe was a 40-year-old woman buried in a squatting position. The site is believed to date back to between the 5th and 4th millennium BCE. In the Celtic graves, which date back to the end of the 3rd and the 2nd centuries BCE, the archaeologists found many well preserved decorated pots, and various iron and bronze jewels. In the grave of a warrior, they found a sword and a spear. Samuel said that these were the first such findings in Levice.

Stone Pages

Round barrow unearthed in Leeds

Last summer East Leeds History and Archaeology Society (ELHAS), worked on an archaeological dig in the grounds of Austhorpe Hall, near Crossgates (Leeds, England). Members were astonished at what they found. As well as artefacts such as Roman pottery and flint arrow heads, the society uncovered what appears to be a round barrow, or burial mound, believed to date back to between 2500 and 700 BCE.

ELHAS was set up in 1998, and has been doing fieldwork in the Austhorpe area for more than two years. It was able to stage last year's large scale dig, after winning a near-£15,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The society's director of archaeology, Kathy Allday, said: "Our aim when we began was to secure as much archaeology as we could at Austhorpe and share it with the local community. We achieved our aim and more."

Stone Pages

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes

The Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes, a World Heritage site, are the largest and earliest concentration of ancient mines in Europe.

The site at Spiennes is just one of the many exciting sites on the itinerary of the Archaeology in Belgian Study Tour.

This, which is led by Archaeologist David Beard, runs from Saturday, 28 May to Friday, 3 June 2005.

Click Here for further details, including a detailed itinerary.


An Investigation is under way to work out why mysterious dips have been appearing in the ground in front of a Bath landmark. Bath and North East Somerset Council is awaiting the results of a geophysical survey which should reveal if the dips, which can be up to three feet deep, are caused by ancient stone mines collapsing in on themselves.

The problem first emerged at Royal Victoria Park almost two years ago after the Three Tenors' concert, when a hole appeared near a lorry track.

Now B &NES wants to work out what is causing the dips before the opening night of the Bath International Music Festival is held on the land, known as Three Acre Piece, on Friday, May 20.

This is Bath


New research has revealed Britain's oldest fragment of modern human - a jaw bone unearthed in the Westcountry - is 6,000 years older than previously thought. The findings raise questions about current thinking on when modern man first inhabited the country. Carbon dating had indicated the piece of jaw bone, with only three teeth, originated around 31,000 years ago. But the specimen was recently deemed suspect, because it had been strengthened with paper glue some time around its excavation from Kents Cavern, Torquay, in 1927.

The find was made by the Torquay Natural History Society, and identified by Sir Allen Keith, the top human anatomist of his day. But only in the 1980s was its significance recognised. Now, Dr Roger Jacobi of the British Museum and Dr Tom Higham from the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit have conducted new research.

Their findings indicate the piece actually dates back between 37,000 and 40,000 years. The announcement coincides with an international conference on the History of Geological Speleology and Cave Finds held in Pengelly Hall in Torquay Museum this week.

This is Devon

Stone Age Cutups

Deathly rituals emerge at Neandertal site

After excavating a cache of Neandertal fossils about 100 years ago at Krapina Cave in what's now Croatia, researchers concluded that incisions on the ancient individuals' bones showed that they had been butchered and presumably eaten by their comrades. That claim has proved difficult to confirm. A new, high-tech analysis indicates that the Krapina Neandertals ritually dismembered corpses in ways that must have held symbolic meaning for the group-whether or not Neandertals ate those remains.

Neandertals apparently possessed a facility for abstract thought that has often been regarded as unique to modern Homo sapiens, says study director Jill Cook of the British Museum in London. The Krapina Neandertals lived around 130,000 years ago.

"Some kind of mortuary practice that had symbolic significance was going on at Krapina," Cook suggests. Although cannibalism might also have occurred, the bodies were systematically sliced up rather than quickly butchered, in her view. "Even eating people is a complex behavior" that likely would have included ritual of some kind, the British anthropologist notes.

Red Nova

Remains Found at Limerick Site May Date Back to 15th Century

Archaeologists have uncovered the skeletal remains of dozens of bodies at a site in Limerick which could date from as early as the 15th century.

The find was made by a team of archaeologists who were excavating the site ahead of a private development near Baal's Bridge on historic King's Island.

The skeletal remains of 25 bodies have been uncovered so far in the dig, which started just 10 days ago, and archaeologists believe further remains will be found.

All were located alongside the medieval walls of the city, and the archaeologist leading the dig said the site bore all the hallmarks of a typical Christian burial ground.

Red Nova

Friday, April 22, 2005

UK's oldest musical instrument keeps its title

An ancient horn has preserved its questionable reputation as Britain's oldest musical instrument.

Archaeologists yesterday displayed the Ripon charter horn and issued a ream of information on everything except its age. It is thought that the horn was given to the North Yorkshire city in AD886 by Alfred the Great.

Ripon is proud of its past, and the hornblower still sounds four blasts every evening at 9pm - although not on the charter horn.

Article continues
"It's much too delicate for that," said Richard Hall of York Archaeological Trust, who led the study. He said that the research revealed interesting information, despite steering away from carbon dating. The archaeologists said that some of the early mediaeval craftwork suggests that the horn may have been a venerable object even then.

The Guardian

Oldest rock art in Britain: 12,800 years

Hard evidence that the engravings of women and extinct creatures at Creswell Crags are more than 12,800 years old is published today, making them Britain's oldest rock art.

Creswell Crags, on the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border, is riddled with caves which contain preserved evidence of human activity during the last Ice Age.

Recently, engravings were found on the walls and ceiling depicting animals such as the European Bison, now extinct in Britain, female dancers or birds - depending on the view of the archaeologist - and intimate female body parts.

Dating rock art is difficult, especially if there are no charcoal-based black pigments that can be radiocarbon dated, so the precise age is only known in rare cases.

The Telegraph

Clue to earliest American may lie in Suffolk grave

A SAMPLE from the bones of a Suffolk woman buried 400 years ago is to be exhumed by scientists seeking to discover more about an English explorer who is the unsung founding father of America.

Archaeologists are to crosscheck DNA from remains they believe belong to the explorer Bartholomew Gosnold with samples from his sister, who was thought to have been buried in a Suffolk churchyard in the 1600s.

Church officials have given their backing to the project, which is thought to be the first of its kind in Britain. It will involve remains being taken from a narrow shaft in the grave of his sister Elizabeth Gosnold Tilney, who records show lies in the chapel of Shelley All Saints Church in Suffolk.

Times On Line

Exciting find at royal palace

Enfield Archaeological Society (EAS) discovered the foundations of a blacksmith's workshop when members returned for a dig at the site of historical Elsyng Palace at the weekend.

The society was continuing its investigation into the Tudor site, opposite Jesus Church in Forty Hill, when members came across evidence of a blacksmith's forge complete with black ash and a brick floor.

Dr Martin Dearne, EAS archaeologist, said he thought the workshop would have been used to repair guards' weaponry and armour, as well as shoeing horses.

Dr Dearne said: "It is very interesting as it's the sort of mundane aspects of royalty support structure we often don't find evidence of.

This is Local London

Hunt on for vanished Saxon bowl

Archaeologists hunting an Anglo-Saxon bowl missing for nearly 140 years are calling on the public to check their attics for the silver treasure.
The Witham Bowl - worth hundreds of thousands of pounds - vanished after an exhibition in Leeds in 1868.

First found in 1816 in the River Witham, Lincolnshire, it is thought to be the most remarkable piece of pre-Conquest silver found in England.

The Society of Antiquaries hopes new pictures online will jog memories.

BBC News

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Ancient necropolis found in Egypt

Archaeologists say they have found the largest funerary complex yet dating from the earliest era of ancient Egypt, more than 5,000 years ago.

The necropolis was discovered by a joint US and Egyptian team in the Kom al-Ahmar region, around 600 km (370 miles) south of the capital, Cairo.

Inside the tombs, the archaeologists found a cow's head carved from flint and the remains of seven people.

They believe four of them were buried alive as human sacrifices.

The remains survived despite the fact that the tombs were plundered in ancient times.

BBC News

Infra-Red Brings Ancient Papyri to Light

Oxyrhynchus, situated on a tributary of the Nile 100 miles south of Cairo, was a prosperous regional capital and the third city of Egypt, with 35,000 people. It was populated mainly by Greek immigrants, who left behind tons of papyri upon which slaves trained in Greek had documented the community's arts and goings-on.

A vast array of previously unintelligible manuscripts from ancient Greece and Rome are being read for the first time thanks to infra-red light, in a breakthrough hailed as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail.

The technique could see the number of accounted-for ancient manuscripts increase by one fifth, and may even lead to the unveiling of some lost Christian gospels.

A team at Oxford University is using the technology to bring back into view faded ink on thousands of papyrus scrolls salvaged from an ancient rubbish dump in the 19th century.

Sci-Tech Today

Searching for Abbey’s hidden history

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are awaiting results of a geophysical survey carried out around Bisham Abbey last weekend which could reveal the long-lost history of the site.

Bisham Abbey, off the A404 Marlow Bypass, is believed to date as far back as 1337, and a special survey hopes to reveal the original foundations of the ancient building.

The modern abbey is currently the home of Sport England's National Sports Centre, and six volunteers took to the lawns of the tennis courts to try and detect the foundations.

Using a resistivity meter, which sends an electrical current through the ground, the team searched for the foundations. High resistance levels can indicate the location of walls and foundations belonging to the old site.

This is Local London

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Tudor pin unearthed in cornfield declared treasure

A unique pin found by a man with a metal detector in a cornfield near Chichester, where it had lain buried for more than 400 years, has been acquired by the district museum.

The four-inch long pin has a tiny heart-shaped knob on the end of it, with a small rose, which is the emblem of the Tudors.
It has now gone on display in the museum's ground floor archaeology gallery.
Terry Bromley, of Littlehampton, was out with a friend in the late autumn of 1996, when he got a signal from his metal detector.

Chichester Today

Meet the Gladiators

VISITORS to Stevenage Museum had to be on their guard when they were confronted by Roman gladiators.

It was all part of the museum's Meet the Gladiators fun day.

At the end of the day the event had attracted over 400 people with the majority being children keen to see the gladiators actually getting to grips with each other in mock fights.

"The event was very successful and the visitors, certainly the children, enjoyed watching the specially choreographed fights outside in the garden," said museum information officer Donna Milner.

Stevenage Herald

Dig brings Common’s history to the surface

AN investigation of a village common has unearthed the remains of an ancient past which had been previously unknown.

The Chess Valley Archaeological and Historical Society have been carrying out a survey of Common Wood in Penn with the help of people living around Penn and Tyler's Green.

The group have so far made a number of significant findings including Roman coins, brooches and pottery.

The dig has also found evidence of iron slag used for smelting which has pleased residents who had no idea the common was steeped in so much history.

This is LOcal London

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Picturesque Westcountry sites dating back 2,000 years are being "deliberately damaged" by illegal off-road drivers, conservationists have claimed.

Drivers who tear up the countryside have been warned that they could be fined up to £20,000 after they were blamed for a catalogue of destruction at wildlife and heritage sites East Dartmoor Woods and Heaths National Nature Reserve, near Bovey Tracey, South Devon.

Phil Page, site manager for English Nature, said he was "very annoyed" about the damage. He warned that anyone caught engaging in such acts of vandalism would be prosecuted.

The land includes two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM).

This is Devon

lbanian Temple Unearthed By UC Archeologists

Working on a hunch and intuition, a team from the University of Cincinnati has discovered a monumental temple in Albania that may be one of the earliest ever found in the region.

It took a hunch, hard work and a heck of a lot of diplomacy. But the payoff is spectacular: Archeologists from the University of Cincinnati have discovered a previously unknown Greek temple outside the ancient Greek city-state of Apollonia.

The monumental temple is "the third of its kind to be discovered at Apollonia and only the fifth in all of Albania," said Jack L. Davis, the Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati. Davis is co-director of the international team that has located the temple in a rural site in what is now modern-day Albania.

University of Cincinnati

Archaeologists unearth Celtic burial site

A CELTIC burial ground has been discovered at a building site near Levice city centre, where a new shopping centre will be built.
Marián Samuel from the Archaeological Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, told the SITA news agency that the most precious find on the early stone age, Neolithic settlement is a skeleton of what they believe was a 40-year-old woman buried in a squatting position. The site is believed to date back to between the 5th and 4th millennium BC.

In the Celtic graves, which date back to the end of the 3rd and the 2nd centuries BC, the archaeologists found many well preserved decorated pots, and various iron and bronze jewels. In the grave of a warrior, they found a sword and a spear.
Samuel said that these were the first such findings in Levice.
The most recent important Celtic-era discovery was made between the wars in the last century. Archaeologists discovered a treasure chest of coins minted in the style used by Filip II of Macedonia.

Slovak Spectator

Genetic testing reveals awkward truth about Xinjiang’s famous mummies

URUMQI, China - After years of controversy and political intrigue, archaeologists using genetic testing have proven that Caucasians roamed China’s Tarim Basin 1,000 years before East Asian people arrived.

The research, which the Chinese government has appeared to have delayed making public out of concerns of fueling Uighur Muslim separatism in its western-most Xinjiang region, is based on a cache of ancient dried-out corpses that have been found around the Tarim Basin in recent decades.

“It is unfortunate that the issue has been so politicized because it has created a lot of difficulties,” Victor Mair, a specialist in the ancient corpses and co-author of “Mummies of the Tarim Basin”, told AFP.

“It would be better for everyone to approach this from a purely scientific and historical perspective.”

Khaleej Times

Monday, April 18, 2005

Oh mummy - what an interesting exhibit

VISITORS can sample life in ancient Egypt at a new museum exhibition.

A decorated mummy case is just one of many exhibits now on show at the Royal Pump Room Museum, in Harrogate.

The Discover Ancient Egypt exhibition also includes many objects used in everyday life - and death - by Egyptians living thousands of years ago.

The museum is running trails for younger visitors. Also for the visitors, there are clothes to try on, objects to handle and a mummy book to investigate.

Visitors watched a poetry drama on the death of Tutankhamun, while sampling food served by a local Egyptian restaurant, at the launch on Saturday.

This is the North-East

Decoded at last: the 'classical holy grail' that may rewrite the history of the world

Scientists begin to unlock the secrets of papyrus scraps bearing long-lost words by the literary giants of Greece and Rome

For more than a century, it has caused excitement and frustration in equal measure - a collection of Greek and Roman writings so vast it could redraw the map of classical civilisation. If only it was legible.

Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.

The Independent

Pompei discovery for Swedish archeologists

Swedish archeologists have discovered a Stone Age settlement covered in ash under the ruins of the ancient city of Pompei, indicating that the volcano Vesuvius engulfed the area in lava more than 3,500 years before the famous 79 AD eruption.

The archeologists recently found burnt wood and grains of corn in the earth under Pompei, Anne-Marie Leander Touati, a professor of archeology at Stockholm University who led the team, told AFP.

"Carbon dating shows that the finds are from prehistoric times, that is, from 3,500 years BC," Leander Touati said. It was until now believed that Pompei was first inhabited during the Bronze Age.

The group of archeologists - part of a larger international project - were mapping a Roman neighbourhood of Pompei when they made the discovery.

The Local

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Archaeological Study Tour to Belgium

The Archaeology of Belgium

28 May to 3 June 2005

Guide: David Beard MA

Click Here for further details

Archaeologists dig deep for evidence of the very old days

BOOMING Leeds is very much a 21st century city – but underneath the office blocks and apartments lies a rich historical past.

Last summer East Leeds History and Archaeology Society (ELHAS), worked on an archaeological dig in the grounds of Austhorpe Hall, near Crossgates. Members were astonished at what they found.

As well as artefacts such as Roman pottery and flint arrow heads, the society uncovered what appears to be a round barrow, or burial mound, believed to date back to between 2500 and 700BC.

The dig also uncovered the very rare feature of a post in a hole which suggests there was once a Roman-time defensive fence on the site. ELHAS was set up in 1998, and has been doing fieldwork in the Austhorpe area for more than two years.
It was able to stage last year's large scale dig, after winning a near-£15,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Leeds Today

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Proof of Roman rabbit dinner found

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of what they believe is one of Britain's first rabbits, brought in for food by the Romans 2,000 years ago.

The six leg bones are believed to date from Roman colonisation, proving for the first time that the rodents were imported to eat. The remains were among first-century Roman pottery fragments at the site of what is believed to be a Roman settlement's rubbish tip, in what is now a quarry in Lynford near Thetford, Norfolk.

The size of the bones indicates they may have been from small Spanish rabbits which the Romans bred.

Rabbits are thought to have died out when the Romans left, and were reintroduced by the Normans on their arrival in 1066.


Stone Age Erotica Found?

German archaeologists have found what they believe is Europe's earliest known clay figure of a male, along with a female figure that they think once was attached to the male in a sexual position.

Together, the two finds could represent the earliest three-dimensional depiction of a copulating human couple, according to the archaeological team.

Clay is difficult to date accurately, the team indicated, but markings on the objects, their style and the place in which they were found suggest that the figures date to 5,200 B.C.

Discovery Channel

Skeleton find could tell us more about the Roman way of death

ANOTHER headless skeleton discovered in York is among a series of gruesome archaeological finds which could hold the key to unlocking secrets behind Roman burial rituals.

The latest discovery of human remains by archaeologists follows in the wake of another headless skeleton found shackled in a grave and a Roman mummy which was also unearthed in The Mount area of the city.

A total of 57 bodies – 50 adults and seven children – and 14 sets of cremated remains have been found during excavations, most by the York Archaeological Trust at a site in Driffield Terrace.

Archaeologists are now confident the bodies will provide perhaps the clearest indication yet on the Roman attitude to death.

It is thought the Romans could have beheaded corpses to release the human spirit, which they believed was contained in the head.

Yorkshire Post

Friday, April 15, 2005

Chamber of secrets under church floor

A SECRET burial chamber has been found under the floor of a village church.

The 7ft square room containing a lead-lined coffin was discovered at St Peter's Church, Powick, after some pews were removed to make extra floor space.

Floorboards eaten by deathwatch beetle and woodworm were then lifted, revealing a stone slab over the entrance to an 8ft high vault.

The discovery raised brief hope of finding hidden treasure, as the church needs £70,000 for repairs to its stonework.

This is Worcester

Remains of Roman rabbit uncovered

The remains of a 2,000-year-old rabbit - found at an early Roman settlement at Lynford, Norfolk - may be the earliest example of rabbit remains in Britain.

The bones - which show evidence the animal had been butchered and buried - are similar to those of a small Spanish rabbit, common in Roman times.

It is thought rabbits were introduced to Britain following the Roman invasion in AD43.

The remains will be officially dated at the Natural History Museum in London.

BBC News

For Sale: Cypriot Copper Mine Fit for King Herod

NICOSIA (Reuters) - A copper mine in Cyprus where the metal has been mined since Biblical times faces closure unless the Church of Cyprus can find a buyer, officials said on Wednesday.

The Skouriotissa mine, which produced copper ore at a site where there has been mining for some 4,000 years, suspended operations in January, leaving its workers unpaid and with debts labor unions estimate at 14 million pounds ($31.1 million).

Herod the Great, who in the Bible ordered the Massacre of the Innocents in an attempt to murder the infant Jesus, has been recorded among those having rights to mine at the site in Cyprus's picturesque Troodos Mountains.

Now, despite high world copper prices, the mine faces the risk of permanent closure.

Yahoo News

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Churches to share £1.3million grants

THE PRAYERS of two churches have been answered after it was announced they are to receive a share of a £1.3million pot to assist repair costs.

The grants from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery fund will see the money being awarded to 14 places of worship, including £44,000 to All Saints' Church In Londesborough and £56,000 set aside for St Giles' in Bielby.

The scheme has been named 'Repair Grants for Places of Worship' and will run until 2007.

David Fraser, English Heritage's regional director, said: "The positive impact of this scheme on the region's most important religious building can't be underestimated.
"Congregations face huge challenges maintaining such places and in the past have often struggled to find resources to keep on top of essential repairs.

Pocklington Today

New enemy menaces Hadrian’s Wall

HADRIAN’S WALL has survived barbarian invaders, smugglers and the 2,000-year march of history. Now its very survival has come under threat — from an army of walkers.

The erosion of the World Heritage Site is becoming so severe that the Roman wall could be placed on the World Heritage “in danger” list, experts told The Times yesterday.

Some 400,000 people have marched across the Hadrian’s Wall Path Trail since it was opened 18 months ago. They are banned from walking on the wall itself, yet many do so. One day last winter 800 Dutch bankers walked across the wall.

Although only a small fraction of the wall and its forts has been excavated, the fragile site is being eroded by heavy boots, archaeologists say. They note that only 20,000 visitors had been expected when the plans were made in the early 1990s.

The Times On Line

Lost ring leads to treasure hoard

A QUEST for a missing wedding ring has helped uncover a collection of ancient treasures dating back up to 4,000 years.

Thought to be from tombs on the holiday island of Cyprus, the pricesless collection had been collecting dust in a Cheshire attic for nearly 40 years, with the belief they were old holiday trinkets.

Their historic value was discovered when Neville Davies enlisted the help of archaeologist and metal detecting enthusiast James Balme, to help track down his son-in-law's missing wedding ring.

IC Cheshire On Line

Celtic tiger threatens mystical Tara, where kings were once crowned

Celtic tiger threatens mystical Tara, where kings were once crowned
A battle is raging between old Ireland, steeped in history, and the modern nation over plans for a motorway where high kings once were crowned.

Claire Oakes is plainly right to say there is something unique about Tara, the spot near Dublin whose thousands of years of history caused W B Yeats to call it "probably the most consecrated spot in Ireland".

She regularly travels to the graceful hill in Co Meath from her home two miles away. "My special time for going up is at dusk," she said. "There's a great sense of being connected to all that's gone before us, over the millennia. You can see that a lot of people recognise something within the land itself - they walk around more reverently.

Belfast Telegraph

See also the Save Tara / Skryne Valley Campaign

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Archaeology of Islands

Sat 23rd April 2005 10.00-5.00pm

43 Gordon Square, London, WC1


Paul Rainbird - From the west to Easter Island: achievements in inhabiting
the island world of the Pacific.

Andrew Reid - Forgotten islands of the African interior

Jago Cooper - Cultural islands in the Caribbean: an indigenous perspective
from Cuba

Fay Stevens & Gordon Noble - An island of fluctuating perceptions: the
landscape and archaeology of Bute, Scotland

Meriel McClatchie - Isolated, yet connected: considering Early Medieval
crannogs of Ireland

Fee: £30 (£15 concessions) Course code: FFAR020 NACS

To enrol telephone: 020 7631 6627/6651

Organised by Fay Stevens, Institute of Archaeology University College
London & Birkbeck, University of London

Heritage not pillage

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” said Robert Frost. Along the length of Hadrian’s wall that something is an army of walkers, marching beside the mighty fortification the 2nd-century Roman emperor built to mark the limits of his empire and keep the Picts at bay. Some 400,000 people have tramped the 73 miles of the wall’s national trail since it was opened 18 months ago. Not only is the fragile site being eroded by their boots, their bottles and their bric-a-brac; the depredations of those striding like centurions along the top or scrambling up the stonework are far worse than the bombardments of Rome’s ancient foes.

As a result, the wall has been placed on Unesco’s list of endangered World Heritage Sites. To a country proud of its history and archaeological conservation, this is a disgrace. The poor Syrian lookout shivering in the Northumbrian winter sleet had an excuse for cursing the newly built wall; English Heritage has no excuse for over-promoting a site that it has singularly failed to protect from today’s Vandals.

Times On-Line

Celtic tiger threatens mystical Tara, where kings were once crowned

A battle is raging between old Ireland, steeped in history, and the modern nation over plans for a motorway where high kings once were crowned. David McKittrick reports

11 April 2005

Claire Oakes is plainly right to say there is something unique about Tara, the spot near Dublin whose thousands of years of history caused W B Yeats to call it "probably the most consecrated spot in Ireland".

She regularly travels to the graceful hill in Co Meath from her home two miles away. "My special time for going up is at dusk," she said. "There's a great sense of being connected to all that's gone before us, over the millennia. You can see that a lot of people recognise something within the land itself - they walk around more reverently.

"When it's clear it's amazing how far you can see, but when the prominences in the distance are shrouded in haze it's quite magical and mystical. It changes with the seasons, but it's always pretty wonderful."

The Independent

See also the Save Tara / Skryne Valley Campaign

Clues to climate's future may lay in past

Climate change could have drastic consequences.

Just ask the ancient Egyptians.

Harvey Weiss, professor of archaeology at Yale University, says climate change was a fact of life for earlier civilizations. From pharaohs to the medieval Vikings, swift and sometimes violent changes in weather patterns sparked mass migrations and technological innovations like irrigation.

"Those episodes proved to be the single most important stimulus for the major transformations in human history," said Weiss, who digs through the traces of vanished empires for evidence of these climatic events.

Climate change was first proposed as a consequence of human activity in 1895. A Swedish chemist theorized that burning fossil fuels like coal might emit enough carbon dioxide to warm the planet. But natural climate variation, caused by fluctuations in the Earth's orbit and other natural cycles, wasn't thought to occur on a time scale perceptible to humans -- until recently.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Boy's smile exposes castle 'fake'

The hidden secret of a castle's marble sculptures has been given away by a boy's smile, say experts.

A team of top archaeologists found that nine of 11 statues at Powis Castle in Welshpool were not Roman originals but 18th Century copies.

A sculpture of a smiling boy captured the experts' attention when asked to research how old the statues were.

The smile made them suspicious as genuine Roman carvings are sombre and were used as monuments to the dead.

BBC News

Hunt begins for church remains

Volunteers to map foundations of medieval worship site

A HUNT for traces of a long lost church, as big as a cathedral, is scheduled to begin this weekend, beside the Thames at Bisham, thanks to a grant from Maidenhead Civic Society.

In her search for an ancient priory church, built in 1337, archaeologist Jill Eyres intends to focus on an area next to Bisham Abbey, occupied until recently by tennis courts.

With a resistance meter, volunteers from Marlow Archaeology Society hope to map underground features such as foundations there and in other parts of the abbey grounds.
Dr Eyres who runs Chiltern Archaeology, said: “It was a massive church, on the lines of our biggest cathedrals today. But it was trashed when Henry VIII got rid of the monasteries.

Maidenhead Advertiser

The search begins for legendary castle

CHIPPENHAM NEWS: ARCHAEOLOGISTS have begun the search for King Alfred's legendary castle believed to be hidden underneath the former Goldiggers nightclub.

The site is rumoured to harbour secrets of a mythical medieval castle, which existed more than 1,000 years ago.

Experts moved in on Monday and stripped away layers of soil searching for early signs of the castle remains.

This week's dig has found an 18th century wall, medieval pottery and bones but experts fear excavation will be hampered by soil damage from when the former nightclub and cinema was built in the 1930s.

Teams of archaeologists will continue for two weeks to solve the mystery of the castle remains, which has baffled experts for hundreds of years.

This is Wiltshire

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Engineers Help To Save And Reconstruct The Past

Each time an ancient vase disintegrates, a ceramic tile crumbles or a painting cracks and fades, another link with our past is lost and we understand just a little less about where we came from and, ultimately, who we are.

When the last artisan dies and an ancient technology is lost, we're similarly impoverished, says Pamela Vandiver, an internationally recognized expert in artifact preservation and, now, a professor at The University of Arizona.

Science Daily

Greek police seize antiquities, arrest a Greek man

ATHENS, Greece Police in Greece say they have seized several illegally excavated ancient works of art.
They also say they have arrested a Greek man suspected of trafficking in antiquities.

The man was arrested during a traffic inspection when police discovered three-thousand-year-old antiquities hidden in his car. They say they found eight items including several small statuettes.

Greek law states it is illegal to own, buy, sell or excavate antiquities without a special permit. Any items found accidentally must be handed over to authorities.

Kron 4

Iron-age torc comes home

An iron-age torc found in a Norfolk field will return to the county after a £49,000 grant from lottery chiefs.

The gold and silver 'electrum' twisted wire torq was turned up by farmer Owen Carter at an undisclosed site in the south of the county and declared treasure by Norwich Coroner William Armstrong in 2003.

The handout from the Heritage Lottery Fund will be added to existing donations of £30,000 from the National Art Collections Fund and £5000 from the Friends of the Norwich Museums to fund the purchase of the artefact.

Currently the torq is being kept in storage at the British Museum.

EDP 24

Fury at plan for burial ground in shadow of the Devil's Hoofmarks

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to site a burial ground next to one of the most imposing neolithic stone circles in Scotland have caused a storm of protest.

The circle at Cothiemuir Wood, a tranquil wooded glade on the Castle Forbes estate near Keig in Aberdeenshire, is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular ancient sites in the north-east of Scotland.

Flanked by seven upright monoliths hewn from red granite, the 20-tonne basalt recumbent stone at its centre is one of the largest in Britain. The distinctive markings on its outer face are known as the "Devil’s Hoofmarks".

Furious locals fear that the site could be destroyed by plans by Native Woodland, an Edinburgh company, to develop a natural burial ground at Cothiemuir Hill within 15 yards of the ceremonial site, a scheduled ancient monument.

The Scotsman

Friday, April 08, 2005

Fury at plan for burial ground in shadow of the Devil's Hoofmarks

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to site a burial ground next to one of the most imposing neolithic stone circles in Scotland have caused a storm of protest.

The circle at Cothiemuir Wood, a tranquil wooded glade on the Castle Forbes estate near Keig in Aberdeenshire, is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular ancient sites in the north-east of Scotland.

Flanked by seven upright monoliths hewn from red granite, the 20-tonne basalt recumbent stone at its centre is one of the largest in Britain. The distinctive markings on its outer face are known as the "Devil’s Hoofmarks".

Furious locals fear that the site could be destroyed by plans by Native Woodland, an Edinburgh company, to develop a natural burial ground at Cothiemuir Hill within 15 yards of the ceremonial site, a scheduled ancient monument.

The Scotsman

Fury at plan for burial ground in shadow of the Devil's Hoofmarks

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to site a burial ground next to one of the most imposing neolithic stone circles in Scotland have caused a storm of protest.

The circle at Cothiemuir Wood, a tranquil wooded glade on the Castle Forbes estate near Keig in Aberdeenshire, is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular ancient sites in the north-east of Scotland.

Flanked by seven upright monoliths hewn from red granite, the 20-tonne basalt recumbent stone at its centre is one of the largest in Britain. The distinctive markings on its outer face are known as the "Devil’s Hoofmarks".

Furious locals fear that the site could be destroyed by plans by Native Woodland, an Edinburgh company, to develop a natural burial ground at Cothiemuir Hill within 15 yards of the ceremonial site, a scheduled ancient monument.

The Scotsman

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Early hominid 'cared for elderly'

Ancient hominids from the Caucasus may have fed and cared for their elderly, a new fossil find has indicated.

The 1.77 million-year-old specimen, which is described in Nature magazine, was completely toothless and well over 40; a grand old age at the time.

This may suggest that the creature lived in a complex society which was capable of showing compassion.

These hominids - like humans - may also have valued the old for their years of acquired knowledge, researchers think.

BBC News

Importance of alcohol production in the ancient world, study

While the modern era has a fondness for the business lunch, the ancient world viewed the feast as an important arena of political action. Yet, new research in the April 2005 issue of Current Anthropology suggests that the story of how the food and drink arrived to the table is just as critical to our understanding of the past as the social behaviors at the table.

Since alcoholic beverages were liberally consumed at many of these feasts (often occurring over several days), a sponsor often faced the daunting problem of assembling prodigious amounts of alcohol in the weeks preceding a feast. In this paper, researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara, consider certain traditional methods for making maize beer, barley and emmer wheat beer, rice beer, agave wine, and grape wine from a variety of regions around the world. By exploring the recipes used to make each of these beverages, they demonstrate how details of each drink's manufacture, such as shelf life, plant maturation, and labor crunches, offered challenges and opportunities to sponsors who attempted to organize their mass-production.

Medical News Today

Revealed: The softer, caring side of the marauding Viking

FAR from their marauding, pillaging stereotypes, Viking warriors were homemakers who couldn’t wait to ship their wives over to settle the lands they had conquered, new research reveals.

Scientists studying Scots of Viking ancestry in Shetland and Orkney have discovered that there must have been far more Viking women in the Dark Ages settlements than originally thought.

However, it appears that Viking wives refused to go deeper into Scotland, with little evidence they made it as far as the Western Isles.

Researchers from Oxford University took DNA samples from 500 residents of Shetland using a toothbrush to extract some of their saliva. The scientists were able to identify genetic traits in the Scots which they share with modern day Scandinavian populations.

The Scotsman

Vikings who chose a home in Shetland before a life of pillage

Marauding warriors with horned helmets who slaughtered monks and carried off treasures are at the heart of the popular image of the Viking invasions of the British Isles.

However, a new study gives a more wholesome picture of the invasion, revealing how the far north was colonised by Viking families looking for somewhere new to set up home, especially those from the western seaboard of Norway where fertile land was in short supply.

Viking exploits are thought to have started with the sacking of the monastery at Lindisfarne, around AD 793. Evidence of how Vikings came to dominate coastlines stretching from Shetland and Orkney to the Hebrides comes from a study disclosing the genetic contribution of Viking women.

It is published in the journal Heredity by Dr Sara Goodacre, from the University of East Anglia, with colleagues in Oxford and Reykjavik.

The Telegraph

Reemergence of discredited Ilisu Dam project:

Plans for large dams in southeast Turkey including the discredited Ilisu dam project may yet go ahead in spite of adverse impacts on cultural and environmental rights, according to a new report by the National University of Ireland, Galway and the Kurdish Human Rights Project[1]. The report provides new evidence from hydroelectric dam projects planned for the Munzur, Tigris and Greater Zap rivers. The study, a report of a fact-finding mission to the region carried out by Maggie Ronayne, Lecturer in Archaeology at the National University of Ireland, Galway, demonstrates how archaeology in particular supports the case of thousands of villagers adversely affected by these projects, most of whom do not appear to have been consulted at all about the dams and many of whom want to return to reservoir areas, having already been displaced by the recent conflict in the region. The overwhelming response in particular from women and their organisations is one of opposition to the negative impact on them and those in their care; yet women have been the least consulted sector.

Kurdish Media News

Medieval works found at LNG site

Archaeologists working on the site of a natural gas terminal in Pembrokeshire have uncovered what they believe may be a medieval metal works.

The team was working at the site of the controversial liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Milford Haven when they found the works, which may date from 800AD.

Experts said little was known about this period, and the find could be a sign of early industrialisation.

Exxon Mobil, which is building the plant, said work would not be affected.

A team from Cambria Archaeology was at work on the site, which is standard practice whenever developers embark on a major project.

BBC News

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Detectors will sweep battlefield site

PART of Culloden Battlefield is to undergo a final search by a specialist team of archaeologists before a new visitor centre is built.

Tony Pollard, who appeared in TV's "Two Men In A Trench" will visit the site this week and work with six members of the Highland Historical Search Society who will sweep the area with their metal detectors in the hope of salvaging any battle relics before construction of the new £7 million centre begins.

"We have, in the past, already searched parts of the battlefield with Tony during the filming of the 'Two Men In A Trench' programme, " society chairman Len Pentecost-Ingram said. "At that time, we found a number of fascinating and interesting artefacts - the likes of musket balls, musket parts, buttons and badges - and I understand that eventually all our finds will be on display at the new visitor centre."

Inverness Courier

Mystery of bones find at church

MYSTERY surrounds the discovery of six bodies dating back to the 16th century in the grounds of a historic church in Leith.

Archaeologists uncovered four skeletons and the remains of at least another two bodies during construction work on the 19th-century St Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in Constitution Street.

Carbon dating by scientists has revealed the bodies date back to around the time of the Siege of Leith from 1559 to 1560, which involved French, English and Scots forces.

But experts believe the bodies - one a teenager - could also be executed criminals or victims of the devastating plague.

The Scotsman

Survey of ancient monuments in Wales

Archaeologists in Wales are undertaking a major survey of thousands of prehistoric sites.

The project, which will involve several archaeological trusts, is being backed by Cadw, the organisation responsible for the protection of historic Welsh sites, and coincides with the publication by Cadw of an information booklet and guide, offering advice to landowners on the management and care of the sites.

Matthew Ritchie, an assistant inspector of ancient monuments with Cadw, said: "As well as being significant features in the landscape, the sites contain valuable information for a wide range of studies."

Stone Pages

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Fragments of ancient empire

The archaeological season has begun at the Roman site of Vindolanda, bringing in volunteers from all over the world.

Jamie Diffley went along to ask why they dig it.

Pressed down in the clay, almost completely covered by the dirt, lies an object. Could be a piece of Roman pottery, perhaps some glass. To the untrained eye it could just be a piece of ordinary rubble.

"It is ordinary rubble," says archaeologist Andrew Birley, loading it into a wheelbarrow, which will then be dumped by the side. Unlike me Andrew does have a trained eye. Indeed he has two.

They're trained in the exact art of spotting artefacts from when Roman soldiers held sway over great parts of the North East.

I C Newcastle

Archaeologist finds 'oldest porn statue'

Stone-age figurines depicting what could be the oldest pornographic scene in the world have been unearthed in Germany.
Archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be the 7,200-year-old remnants of a man having intercourse with a woman.

The extraordinary find, at an archaeological dig in Saxony, shatters the belief that sex was a taboo subject in that era.

Until now, the oldest representations of sexual scenes were frescos from about 2,000 years ago.

The Guardian

Remarkable lives reunited for posterity

Papers of archaeologist Jacquetta Hawkes join works of her husband JB Priestley at university

IN life they were lovers and partners in everything, and in death JB Priestley and Jacquetta Hawkes are still together.

Yesterday, an archive of Mrs Hawkes' extraordinary life was opened in the University of Bradford's JB Priestley library, to be kept with the archive of his work.
An enormous collection of her papers, which were kept in total disarray in her home in Stratford-upon-Avon, has been painstakingly collated by the university. The archive was officially opened yesterday and will now be available to researchers.
Mrs Hawkes was well-known in her own right when she met the Bradford author, whom she married in 1953.

Yorkshire Post

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Olympus fated to lose head

A crowd of not-so-lowly upstarts in southern and northwestern Greece are jostling to end the supremacy of the country’s highest mountain, according to research made public yesterday.

Nevertheless, Mount Olympus, the mythical home of Greece’s ancient gods and at 2,917 meters the undisputed king of Greek mountains, will not be overtaken by the likes of Psiloritis in Crete for some time — about 10 million years.

According to Thessaloniki University Professor of Tectonic Geology Dimosthenis Moudrakis, the geological metabolism of Mt Olympus is slowing rapidly, while at the same time mountains such as Psiloritis (2,456) and the White Mountains (2,454) in Crete, Taygetos (2,404) and Panachaikon (1,924) in the Peloponnese and Smolikas (2,637) in Epirus, are growing lustily. This translates into an annual growth of some 1.5 centimeters, fueled by the rising of areas of Crete and western Greece that border on tectonic plates that are being pushed up. Moudrakis said Olympus started as a fast developer, but that its growth rate now lags behind the competition.


Saturday, April 02, 2005


The project to build the museum started back in 1999.

Both Lincoln City Council and Lincolnshire County Council's Heritage Services put in more than £1 million.

In 2000 the East Midlands Development Agency contributed £1.5 million.

And a year later the project received its first wedge of Heritage Lottery Fund money.

The new museum in Danesgate has been named after the body of historical artefacts it will house - about 2.5 million objects.

This is Lincoln


A BID to raise £60,000 to repair a 13th Century church has begun in Stowe.
The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is situated on the Stowe estate. The Grade II* listed building dates from 1270 with the latest additions added in the first half of the 16th Century.

Fundraiser Essex Close-Smith said: "This beautiful and historical building is now under severe threat as the Chancel roof made of copper needs replacing.
"Although a grant has been secured by the English Heritage Lottery Fund, this is only on the basis that the church raises the rest of the money – £60,000. The church has a thriving congregation but even with its commitment it is a daunting sum to find."

Buckingham Today