Saturday, January 31, 2009

Oxford study aims to trace Cornish roots

A study which could prove that people in Cornwall and Devon can trace their roots to the Ancient Britons is being carried out in the two counties in February by Oxford University's genetic research team. This national genetics study 'People of the British Isles' aims to collect a total of 3,500 blood samples from people whose parents and grandparents were born in the same rural locality.

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Hill of Tara nominated to be world heritage site

THE HILL of Tara is among a number of locations which have been nominated for inclusion on a list of possible Unesco world heritage sites.

Campaigners against the route of the M3 motorway in Co Meath have joined heritage groups in submitting proposals to an advisory group, set up by Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley, to review the list of Irish sites.

The existing tentative nomination list for world heritage sites dates back to 1992 and includes Killarney National Park, the Burren and Clonmacnoise. Deadlines for submissions for inclusion on the revised list closed yesterday.

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İzmir hails big year in archaeology

İZMİR - With thousands of artifacts retrieved from excavation sides, 2008 was a busy year for İzmir’s archaeological agenda. According to figures released by the Culture and Tourism Directorate of İzmir, 143,617 historical artifacts were surfaced from 16 dig sites during 2008, revealing the desperate need of more museums in the city

The year 2008 was a busy year in İzmir for history boffins and archaeologists with 143,617 historical artifacts being excavated from 16 dig sites throughout the year and 10,125 on display in museums.

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Archaeologists discover prehistoric blades at Birmingham City University

ARCHAEOLOGISTS in Birmingham have discovered two stone flint blades which date back more than 9,000 years.

A dig at Birmingham City University unearthed the amazing find, which is thought to have been dropped by a prehistoric man.

The excavation took place in between Park Street Gardens, Bartholomew Street and New Canal Street and was carried out by the University of Leicester Archeological Services between October and November.

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Earliest Chemical Warfare Felled Roman Fort

A cramped tunnel beneath a Middle Eastern fort might have produced the oldest evidence of chemical warfare, according to a CSI-style review of archival records.

Presented at the recent meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, the review focused on the dramatic remains of 20 Roman soldiers unearthed in the 1930s in the city of Dura-Europos, Syria.

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Dramatic bid to save 'jewel of the Iron Age'

DISCOVERED only 13 years ago, the remarkably preserved ancient settlement at Old Scatness on Shetland forced experts to completely rewrite the history of Iron Age Britain.

Old Scatness Broch, a mile from Sumburgh Head, was a pristine time capsule which enabled archaeologists to date the chronology of an Iron Age site in northern Europe with unprecedented accuracy.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bacteria clue to migration of humans

RESEARCHERS have a new ally in tracing the migration routes followed by early humans – a common stomach bacterium. It helps explain how groups were related as our ancient ancestors spread steadily across the globe.

Discovering the routes taken by early humans, who left Africa tens of thousands of years ago, is a difficult process. Now the bacterium Helicobacter pylori is helping to confirm theories and garner new insights, according to Mark Achtman, professor of microbiology at University College Cork, formerly of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin. Achtman is also a Science Foundation Ireland principal investigator.The latest discovery, published only last week, explains how Australia and many of the Pacific islands were settled by migrating populations.

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Hidden Wrecks Revealed

NEARLY a thousand new archeological sites have been discovered off the North East coast as part of an English Heritage-funded project.

During the survey, conducted by EH archaeologists along with help from Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, ship wrecks, wartime defences and medieval remains have been uncovered. The survey has been done to help researchers understand the history of the coastline and damages it may face.

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Ötzi’s Last Days –

Glacier man may have been attacked twice

Another chapter in a murder case over 5000 years old. New investigations by an LMU research team working together with a Bolzano colleague reconstructed the chronology of the injuries that Ötzi, the glacier man preserved as a frozen mummy, received in his last days. It turns out, for example, that he did in fact only survive the arrow wound in his back for a very short time – a few minutes to a number of hours, but no more – and also definitely received a blow to the back with a blunt object only shortly before his death. In contrast, the cut wound on his hand is some days older. “We are now able to make the first assertions as to the age and chronology of the injuries,” reports Professor Andreas Nerlich, who led the study. “It is now clear that Ötzi endured at least two injuring events in his last days, which may imply two separate attacks. Although the ice mummy has already been studied at great length, there are still new results to be gleaned. The crime surrounding Ötzi is as thrilling as ever!"

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Druids in row over boy's skeleton

A decision is due to be made over the future of a skeleton found near an ancient stone circle 80 years ago.

Druids have called for the remains of the three-year-old child to be reburied at Avebury, Wiltshire, out of respect.

But archaeologists insist the skeleton - currently on display at the Alexander Keiller museum - should be kept available for research and testing.

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Unique Hoard Discovered by Archeologists in Centre of Moscow

Moscow archeologists unearthed a hoard of ancient coins, jewels and an icon. Many of the items date back to the 12th century.

It is the time when Moscow was first mentioned in chronicles as a small settlement. The experts also found rare articles by ancient counterfeiters. The excavations are carried out on the area of the so-called "Tyoplye torgovie ryady" (i.e. Warm Shopping Streets).

On the 6-meter depth one can discern outlines of ancient Moscow constructions: a well, remains of a palisade, charred logs, and traces of a big fire.

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Mutmasslicher Sarg der Königin Editha entdeckt

Bei archäologischen Untersuchungen im Magedburger Dom wurde kürzlich ein Bleisarg entdeckt, der vemutlich die sterblichen Überreste der Königin Editha beherbergt. Die im Jahr 946 Verstorbene war die erste Gemahlin Ottos des Großen - der ihr die Stadt Magdeburg als Hochzeitsgeschenk verehrte.

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Cave dig hopes to find signs of modern man

AN ULTRA modern search at Kents Cavern hopes to uncover clues missed by the Victorians.

Two archaeologists are planning to excavate a small part of Kents Cavern, Torquay, to unravel their quest to see if modern man lived alongside Neanderthals.

They say it is the most important site in the UK to solve the scientific mystery.

The dig is the first excavation at the cave in more than 80 years.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thousands celebrate Up Helly Aa

Europe's biggest annual fire festival has been staged in Shetland.

Known as Up Helly Aa, it celebrates the islands' Viking heritage with a torch-lit procession and the spectacular burning of a replica galley.

This year it was led by a 60-strong band of latter-day Viking warriors known as the Jarl Squad led by the Viking chief or Guizer Jarl.

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Digging back into the past

AN archaeological dig has started in Herefordshire on an historical house.

As part of the refurbishment and works to create a new building for Ledbury’s library and Info centre, an archaeological dig has started at the Master’s House, which is one of the oldest buildings in the town.

An appeal for volunteers to help with the dig received an excellent response with 18 people standing by to join the dig which started on Monday.

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Turkish expert rebuilds faces for ancient skulls

ISTANBUL - Sadi Çağdır, a forensic medical expert, put a face back on to a skull from the antique city of Metropolis with the technique of facial reconstruction, after reassembling the pieces of the broken skull. 'It is the first facial reconstruction to be undertaken in Turkey at an excavation site,' he says.

The skull of a man from ancient times has had his face restored after 1,200 years. The Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review was able to enter the Forensic Medicine Institution in Istanbul’s Yenibosna district by special permission from the Ministry of Justice to witness a facial reconstruction procedure conducted under the guidance of Sadi Çağdır, a medical forensic expert. One of dozens of skulls from cases in the laboratory, with its broken tooth and its smiling face attracted the most attention.

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Medieval find in Northampton's Gold Street

Major roadworks in the centre of Northampton have given shoppers a glimpse into the town's medieval past as well as providing evidence of the historic shoe trade.

Workers began digging up Gold Street about a month ago to allow two new water mains to be laid beneath the street.

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History group excited by rath survey findings

MEMBERS of Newbuildings and District Archaeological and Hiscoriccal Society are up-beat about the initial findings of last week's survey of the Rath off Duncastle Road.

The survey of the proposed dig site was carried out on Thursday and Friday by LTU Utility Location Intelligence, based in Oldham, England, and was organised through Precision Industrial Services Ltd, at Campsie Industrial Estate.

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Mystery stones cause stir among archaeolgists

TWO mysterious stones found on Fleetwood beach have been sent for analysis at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston.
The stones went on display at last week’s monthly meeting of the Wyre Archaeology Group at Farmer Parrs, Fleetwood.

Ken Emery, group secretary, said: “We had a good turn-out of 20 people and the stones were a big talking point. The general consensus was that they were net weights for fishing, but it was hard to determine their age.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Scientists to test DNA to find out if Galileo could really see stars

When he was buried – at the insistence of the Catholic church in unconsecrated ground – Galileo Galilei left behind at least two conundrums: how could a man with impaired eyesight have made the observations that revolutionised astronomy; and did his faulty vision alter what he saw and recorded?

When his body was moved to the basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, almost 100 years later on the initiative of local freemasons, it gave rise to a third riddle: who was the woman found buried alongside him?

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Vikings ready for fire festival

The usually dark winter skies above Shetland are to be lit up with colour for the Up-Helly-Aa fire festival.

Bearded Vikings wielding swords will be taking to the streets of Lerwick on Tuesday evening before burning their replica galley.

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1,000 Vikings to set night ablaze

Almost 1,000 "Vikings" will take to the streets of Shetland on Tuesday night in a torchlight procession to celebrate the islands' Norse heritage.

The guizers, dressed as Vikings, will march through Lerwick for the Up Helly Aa festival which will culminate in a Viking longboat being set alight.

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Site for Stonehenge centre to be announced

A decision on the chosen site and architect for the long-awaited £20m Stonehenge visitor centre in Wiltshire is expected by mid February.

A spokesperson for English Heritage, which is working in partnership on the project with the DCMS, said a decision must be made very soon if the project is to meet its deadline of being completed in time for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. A project board meeting will be held at the end of this week.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Medieval boat shown to the public

THE remains of an early medieval boat have been shown to the public for the first time.

The county council's archaeological service brought the boat to an open day at Leiston High School.

Archaeologists wanted to give people the opportunity to view the remains which were found during excavations in advance of the onshore works for the Greater Gabbard Wind Farm, off Sizewell, in June.

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Extensive dig hopes to reveal cavern's secret

A DIG aiming to unearth Torbay's links with the ancient colonisation of Europe by mankind is due to start this spring.

A team of archaeologists will survey Kents Cavern, Torquay, today in advance of major excavations at Easter and in September.

The digs aim to discover more about the Neanderthals who lived in the caves tens of thousands of years ago.

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Dig set to start at wildlife garden

Archaeologists will begin a dig in a Cheltenham wildlife garden next week.

The investigations will take place at Dunalley Wildlife Garden on Wednesday and Thursday.

The land, next to Dunalley School, used to be allotments and is the subject of a planning application by St Vincent’s Centre, which wants to build a new care centre.

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Guidelines on using Luminescence Dating in Archaeology

The Guidelines on using Luminescence Dating in Archaeology was produced by Professor GAT Duller of the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, UK. The production of these guidelines has been funded by the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund distributed by English Heritage on behalf of DEFRA. These guidelines are designed to establish good practice in the use of luminescence dating for providing chronological frameworks. They provide practical advice on using luminescence dating methods in archaeology.

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The past is a disputed country

Archaeology's ability to reveal the truth untainted by political, cultural and nationalist bias remains a matter for heated debate. Matthew Reisz reports

There is a dark side to archaeology that is seldom acknowledged in Indiana Jones films; namely a long tradition of using excavations to prop up nationalist and colonial claims; to confirm (or occasionally challenge) the truth of religious and classical texts; and to present an idealised picture of groups seen as "ancestors".

Things get particularly fraught in relation to the Middle East and "biblical archaeology", yet the same fundamental issues - ethical, political and methodological - apply all the way from Maiden Castle to Machu Picchu.

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Neue Version der Arachne-Datenbank online

Am Montag ging die zentrale Objektdatenbank des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts in einer neuen Version online. Das neue Arachne-Portal wurde auf Basis das Open Source CMS Drupal realisiert.

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Celtic Hoard Found in Netherlands

Coins are often used as "index fossils" by archaeologists. An index fossil is a fossil with which paleontologists are familiar that is also known to have lived during a specific time period and in a certain environment. For this reason an index fossil can help date an entire paleontological dig site. Coins found at archaeological dig sites can often help date the site, identify past trade routes, identify rulers, suggest political borders, and even suggest the level of technology available in the area. Due to inscriptions and iconography coins are often the only artifact found at an archaeological site that can "speak" to us.

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The not-so-simple gesture

Years ago, it was presumed learned people didn't gesture.

Not just those kinds of gestures, but pretty much any kind.

Intelligent folk, the thinking went, communicated with speech. Gesturing was primitive. The more you gestured, the more obvious it was you couldn't find (or use) the right words.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Record archaelogical finds in Norfolk

Record amounts of archaeological finds are being uncovered in Norfolk - at a greater rate than anywhere else in the whole of Great Britain - because so many people with metal detectors are sweeping the county for signs of the past.

A record 110 treasure cases were seen and assessed by Norwich Castle last year and museum chiefs face a challenge to decide which objects they can afford to keep.

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"Hobbit" Skull Study: Species Not Human

In a an analysis of the size, shape and asymmetry of the cranium of Homo floresiensis, Karen Baab, Ph.D., a researcher in the Department of Anatomical Scienes at Stony Brook University, and colleagues conclude that the fossil, found in Indonesia in 2003 and known as the “Hobbit,” is not human. They used 3-D shape analysis to study the LB1 skull of the hobbit and found the shape of the skull to be consistent with a scaled down human ancestor but not modern humans. Their findings, reported in the current online edition of the Journal of Human Evolution, add to the evidence that the hobbit is a new species.

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Deutsch-Französische Wissenschaftskooperation

Das Collège de France und das Deutsche Archäologische Institut (DAI) arbeiten bereits im Rahmen einzelner Projekten aus dem Bereich der Archäologie und Geschichte zusammen. Die nun zu unterzeichnende Kooperationsvereinbarung hat das Ziel, die interdisziplinäre Zusammenarbeit und Vernetzung zwischen den beiden Einrichtungen zu institutionalisieren und damit zu intensivieren.

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Footage from an excavation at a Dorset burial site which unearthed skeletons, a Roman chalk pit and a Bronze Age barrow has been released online.

Dorset County Council has produced a short film documenting the investigation by Oxford Archaeology, which took place in December 2008 as part of preparation for a new relief road on Weymouth’s Ridgeway.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Location: India Length: 5 min.

The remarkable Indus Civilization of India and Pakistan was contemporaneous with other early civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt and Iran and influenced later cultures, including modern India. Meeting a longstanding need, the Indus Heritage Centre is being established in partnership among Global Heritage Fund (USA), Maharaja Sayajirao University and the Indus Heritage Centre Board of Directors. Promoting education and tourism, the Centre will introduce to the people of India and the world the unique significance and value of India’s ancient heritage.

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Olympus standing tall in seven wonders vote

Mount Olympus, Greece’s highest peak and the legendary home of the ancient Greek gods, has been selected as one of 261 candidates for the second phase of the worldwide New Seven Wonders of Nature contest.

The mountain was the only Greek candidate to make it through to the first phase of online voting at, which featured 440 proposals from around the world.

Other Greek sites such as Meteora, Santorini and the petrified forest on Lesvos were eliminated.

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Roman mosaic floor is uncovered in a Cotswold field

A ROMAN mosaic has been uncovered by two metal detector enthusiasts in a Cotswold field.

John Carter and Paul Ballinger say their find could be of national significance.
The amateur sleuths spotted tesserae – cube-shaped mosaic tiles – and a metal spear at a ploughed field near Kemble.

They dug to expose what they think is part of an intricate mosaic floor which could be on a par with the fourth century Great Orpheus Pavement at Woodchester, near Stroud.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Coast search finds wrecks

SHIP wrecks, wartime defences and the remains of medieval salt factories have all been found during an examination of the north east coastline.

Using thousands of aerial photographs of the coastline, stretching from the Scottish border to Whitby, a team of English Heritage-funded archaeologists found almost a thousand new archaeological sites.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ancient Greek vessel docks for Pompey refit

The most complete ancient Greek ship ever found – which is being painstakingly pieced back together by marine archaeology experts in Portsmouth – is shown here as it would probably have looked when it sailed around the Greek islands at the time of Homer.

Discovered in silt off the coast of Sicily, the vessel is believed to be around 2,500 years old. It arrived in boxes at the Mary Rose Centre in Portsmouth Harbour last week for what is expected to be a 10-year programme of preservation and reconstruction.

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Militant Druids fight museum over a 4,000-year-old skeleton called Charlie

A group of militant Druids has forced an expensive official inquiry after demanding that a museum releases a 4,000-year-old skeleton called 'Charlie' so they can rebury it.

They claim the bones of a young girl and seven other sets of prehistoric remains excavated near the ancient stone circle in Avebury, Wiltshire, are their 'tribal ancestors'.

If their claim is rejected, they have threatened to take a test case to the High Court under the Human Rights Act.

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Huge Iron Age haul of coins found

One of the UK's largest hauls of Iron Age gold coins has been found in Suffolk.

The 824 so-called staters were found in a broken pottery jar buried in a field near Wickham Market using a metal detector.

Jude Plouviez, of the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service, said the coins dated from 40BC to AD15.

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Ridgeway excavation film released

A short film showing the findings of an archaeological dig on the site of a planned £87m relief road in Dorset has been released.

More than a dozen skeletons, thought to be up to 6,000 years old, were found by Oxford archaeologists working at the site on the Ridgeway, near Weymouth.

Excavations took place before Christmas ahead of the construction of the controversial Weymouth relief road.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Rievaulx Abbey tiles protected from wintery weather

PRICELESS medieval floor tiles at Rievaulx Abbey, near Helmsley, North Yorkshire, are being protected from winter’s icy blast using a “turf sandwich”.

English Heritage is investigating a new way of protecting the rare ceramics, mostly dating to the 14th century, from damaging frost, which could accelerate decay if left unchecked.

The green and brown tiles are the last survivors of the thousands which once adorned the church floor at the spectacular 900-year-old ruin.

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The latest phase of an English Heritage backed project to create a digital map of England by collating archaeological information from aerial archive photographs has resulted in nearly 4,000 archaeological discoveries in Norfolk.

The major project, called the National Mapping Programme (NMP), uses modern and historic aerial photographs - many of them contained in the National Monuments Record - to identify and analyse archaeological sites that have lain hidden for many years.

Among the 4,000 forgotten sites rediscovered in Norfolk are Bronze Age burial mounds, Iron Age settlements, Roman camps, medieval villages and World War II defences. The project has also created an accurate record of around 2,000 previously known sites.

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Origin Of Jawed Vertebrates: Prehistoric Fish Provides New Piece In Evolution's Jigsaw Puzzle

In an article in the journal Nature January 14, Uppsala researcher Martin Brazeau describes the skull and jaws of a fish that lived about 410 million years ago. The study may give important clues to the origin of jawed vertebrates, and thus ultimately our own evolution.

Ptomacanthus anglicus was a very early jawed fish that lived in the Devonian period some 410 million years ago. It represents a type of fossil fish known as an "acanthodian" which is characterized by a somewhat shark-like appearance and sharp spines along the leading edges of all fins (except for the tail fin). This group of early jawed fishes may reveal a great deal about the origin of jawed vertebrates (a story that ultimately includes our own origins). However, their relationships to modern jawed vertebrates (and thus their evolutionary significance) are poorly understood, owing partly to the fact that we know very little about their internal head skeleton.

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Colchester: Was town a thriving settlement in the first century BC?

Vital evidence has been discovered which could prove Colchester was a major settlement more than 2,000 years ago.

Experts from the Colchester Archaeological Trust have been digging at Colchester Institute which is undergoing a radical £92 million redevelopment.

And they have found artefacts which show Colchester, Britain's oldest recorded town, may have existed as a thriving settlement in the first century BC.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

University of Leicester archaeologist uncovers evidence of ancient chemical warfare

A researcher from the University of Leicester has identified what looks to be the oldest archaeological evidence for chemical warfare--from Roman times.

At the meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, University of Leicester archaeologist Simon James presented CSI-style arguments that about twenty Roman soldiers, found in a siege-mine at the city of Dura-Europos, Syria, met their deaths not as a result of sword or spear, but through asphyxiation.

Dura-Europos on the Euphrates was conquered by the Romans who installed a large garrison. Around AD 256, the city was subjected to a ferocious siege by an army from the powerful new Sasanian Persian empire. The dramatic story is told entirely from archaeological remains; no ancient text describes it. Excavations during the 1920s-30s, renewed in recent years, have resulted in spectacular and gruesome discoveries.

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Roman villa unearthed in Sharnbrook

Channel 4's Time Team and Colworth Science Park archaeologists make a surprising find in TV programme.

A Roman villa has been unearthed by a local group of archaeologists with help from experts on the hit television series Time Team.

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Archaeology from the air pinpoints finds

To the untrained eye, they might look like photographs of crop circles or simply blips on the landscape.

However, experts working on a major project to interpret and then map Norfolk archaeological sites from the air have made thousands of new discoveries, ranging from Bronze Age burial mounds to second world war defences - and with only 28pc of the county surveyed so far.

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Neanderthal Weaponry Lacked Projectile Advantage

A trio of new studies on prehistoric weapons suggests Neanderthals made sophisticated weapons and tools -- possibly including the first sticky adhesive -- but they lacked the projectile weapons possessed by early humans.

The missing technology, along with climate change and competition with arrow-shooting humans, may have contributed to the Neanderthals' eventual extinction.

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Medieval walls in Spain contain bits of bone

In a macabre discovery fit for Indiana Jones, archaeologists in Spain unearthed a 14th century brick oven with a unique role - to bake bones. Scientists report that the animal bones were burnt in the oven and mixed with other materials to produce a protective coating to strengthen the grand medieval walls of what is today Granada, Spain. In a study scheduled to appear in the 15 January issue of ACS' semi-monthly journal Analytical Chemistry, scientists describe how they found these materials thanks to a powerful new testing method.

Carolina Cardell and colleagues point out that ancient decorative and protective layers, or patinas, covering the outside of very old buildings have been subject of many analyses in archaeology, conservation and chemistry. Patinas have been a popular finishing for building exteriors and walls for aesthetic and protective reasons since ancient times. 'However, the results of this work are significant for archaeologists since this is the first report of burnt bones in a patina on a Muslim monument, as well as the archaeological artefacts - the oven and raw materials - used to produce them,' says Cardell.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ancient Persians who gassed Romans were the first to use chemical weapons

Ancient Persians were the first to use chemical weapons when they gassed Roman soldiers with toxic fumes 2,000 years ago, researchers have discovered.

Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare yet after studying the bodies of 20 Roman soldiers' found underground in Syria 70 years ago.

Clues left at the scene revealed the Persians were lying in wait as the Romans dug a tunnel during a siege – then pumped in toxic gas – produced by sulphur crystals and bitumen – to kill all the Romans in minutes.

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Old Books' DNA May Reveal When, Where They Were Made

The animal-skin pages used in early medieval manuscripts contain genetic material capable of solving long-standing mysteries about the works, according to new research.

Before paper was widely used, European books were written on parchment made from the treated skins of calves, young sheep, and goats.

"What I was looking for was a way to date and localize these manuscripts," said Timothy Stinson, an English professor at North Carolina State University.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Scientists Bring 2000 year old painted warrior to virtual live

A 2000-year-old painted statue is being restored to her original glory by scientists from WMG at the University of Warwick, the University of Southampton, and the Herculaneum Conservation Project.

The Roman statue was discovered by the Herculaneum Conservation Project in the ancient ruins of Herculaneum, a town preserved in the same eruption that buried nearby Pompeii in AD 79. It is thought to represent a wounded Amazon warrior, complete with painted hair and eyes preserved by the ash that buried the town. Archaeologists at the University of Southampton and the Herculaneum Conservation Project contacted WMG after hearing about the Group's expertise in three key technologies: high resolution laser scanning, rapid prototyping and ultra-realistic computer graphics.

Researchers from WMG at the University of Warwick, Southampton and Herculaneum are now scanning, modelling and digitally recreating the Amazon statue.

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Armenian cave yields ancient human brain

Excavations have produced roughly 6,000-year-old relics of a poorly known culture existing near the dawn of civilization

PHILADELPHIA — In a cave overlooking southeastern Armenia’s Arpa River, just across the border from Iran, scientists have uncovered what may be the oldest preserved human brain from an ancient society. The cave also offers surprising new insights into the origins of modern civilizations, such as evidence of a winemaking enterprise and an array of culturally diverse pottery.

Excavations in and just outside of Areni-1 cave during 2007 and 2008 yielded an extensive array of Copper Age artifacts dating to between 6,200 and 5,900 years ago, reported Gregory Areshian of the University of California, Los Angeles, January 11 at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America. In eastern Europe and the Near East, an area that encompasses much of southwest Asia, the Copper Age ran from approximately 6,500 to 5,500 years ago.

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DNA Testing May Unlock Secrets Of Medieval Manuscripts

Thousands of painstakingly handwritten books produced in medieval Europe still exist today, but scholars have long struggled with questions about when and where the majority of these works originated. Now a researcher from North Carolina State University is using modern advances in genetics to develop techniques that will shed light on the origins of these important cultural artifacts.

Many medieval manuscripts were written on parchment made from animal skin, and NC State Assistant Professor of English Timothy Stinson is working to perfect techniques for extracting and analyzing the DNA contained in these skins with the long-term goal of creating a genetic database that can be used to determine when and where a manuscript was written. "Dating and localizing manuscripts have historically presented persistent problems," Stinson says, "because they have largely been based on the handwriting and dialect of the scribes who created the manuscripts – techniques that have proven unreliable for a number of reasons."

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More artifacts found in the excavations in Agora

İZMİR - Following long stages of expropriaton and demolition work held by the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, the Agora excavations continue to reveal new findings, such as Greek scriptures and drawings from Roman times.

One of the most important historic locations in the Aegean region, more and more findings continue to be revealed in the Agora area in İzmir in western Turkey.

Following long stages of expropriation and demolition works by the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, the Agora excavations continue to reveal new findings. Agoras are outdoor spaces open to the public in ancient Greece, were a site for public buildings where political, financial and religious activities took place.

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Rome returns 3000 archaeological objects to Bulgaria

The Italian authorities will hand back to the Bulgarian Embassy in Rome around 3000 archaeological objects, exported out of Bulgaria illegally.

The archaeological findings will be turned over in an official ceremony, at which the National History Museum's director, Bozhidar Dimitrov, the National Investigsnion Agency's director, Boyko Naydenov, and the case's investigator, Rumen Vassilev, will be present.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Early chemical warfare comes to light

Roman soldiers defending a Middle Eastern garrison from attack nearly 2,000 years ago met the horrors of war in a most unusual place. Inside a cramped tunnel beneath the site’s massive front wall, enemy fighters stacked up nearly two dozen dead or dying Romans and set them on fire, using substances that gave off toxic fumes and drove away Roman warriors just outside the tunnel.

The attackers, members of Persia’s Sasanian culture that held sway over much of the region in and around the Middle East from the third to the seventh centuries, adopted a brutally ingenious method for penetrating the garrison wall, reported Simon James of the University of Leicester in England on January 10 at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Istanbul's ancient past unearthed

Digging through thick mud and an ancient swamp of black clay, archaeologists in Istanbul have discovered a grave that proves the city is 6,000 years older than they previously thought.

The skeletons of two adults and two children lie curled-up, perhaps to save space. Alongside them are pots: gifts placed in the grave to use in the afterlife.

The ancient family was unearthed at the site of a 21st Century rail project.

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Shipwrecks harbor evidence of ancient sophistication

Frame-based shipbuilding emerged surprisingly early and became more advanced within a few hundred years.

Surprising insights about ancient shipbuilding have floated to the surface from the submerged remnants of two major harbors, one on Israel’s coast and the other bordering Istanbul, Turkey. Researchers described their finds January 9 at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Analyses of salvaged crafts indicate that shipbuilders started making sophisticated frames for their vessels by about 1,500 years ago, 500 years earlier than had been suspected, reported Yaakov Kahanov of the University of Haifa in Israel. By a few hundred years later, craft constructors had steadily improved hull designs for a diverse collection of ships, says Cemal Pulak of Texas A&M University in College Station.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Online Petition

There is now an online petition concerning the recent firing of the
University of Pennsylvania Museum's 18 Research Specialists in Archaeology.
I would like to encourage all to sign and support the cause, and distribute
as widely as possible in the archaeological community.

Nota bene: When signing the petition, please enter your affiliation in the
box labelled "optional" (It is not clearly labelled as "affiliation").

Ömür Harmansah
Assistant Professor of Archaeology
and Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies
Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World

Radiocarbon dates indicate early Irish were just visiting

Ireland’s first farmers settled the island later than some sites from Ulster have long suggested, but did so in a short period which may also have seen parallel migration into western England and Scotland. Radiocarbon dates indicate that sites from Co Kerry in the South West to Co Derry in Northern Ireland were all settled within the century after 3700BC.

The immigrants built rectangular timber houses up to a hundred square metres in area, cultivated cereals such as wheat and barley, used flint tools and made plain pottery bowls, Cormac McSparron notes in Archaeology Ireland.

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Zwischenbilanz der Römerfunde an der Porta Westfalica

Ein 2000 Jahre altes Marschlager

Archäologen des Landschaftsverbandes Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) haben seit Mitte 2008 in einem Ortsteil von Porta Westfalica (Kreis Minden-Lübbecke) 2000 Jahre alte römische Münzen, Gewandspangen, einen Zelthering, Schuhnägel und Spuren von Backöfen ausgegraben. Erstes Fazit nach einem halben Jahr: Die Funde aus Barkhausen gehören "mit sehr großer Wahrscheinlichkeit" zu einem Militärlager, das die Römer während der augusteischen Eroberungskriege in Germanien errichtet haben.

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Latest ADS Newsletter now available online

The ADS is pleased to announce the online publication of the winter 2008 edition of ADS News. Packed with articles and updates, this edition covers new resources such as 'Englands Rock Art' and 'Merv' as well as regular features such as 'ADS Collections Update' and 'Nuts and Bolts' a look at the technical nitty gritty of the ADS. In the back there lurks, as ever, a fiendish archaeology based crossword to challenge the sharp witted amongst the readership.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Comet smashes triggered ancient famine

MULTIPLE comet impacts around 1500 years ago triggered a "dry fog" that plunged half the world into famine.

Historical records tell us that from the beginning of March 536 AD, a fog of dust blanketed the atmosphere for 18 months. During this time, "the sun gave no more light than the moon", global temperatures plummeted and crops failed, says Dallas Abbott of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York. The cause has long been unknown, but theories have included a vast volcanic eruption or an impact from space.

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Neanderthals: Done in by Competition, Not Climate

Climate change has become the default scapegoat for nearly every extinction on Earth lately. But a new study lets climate off the hook for at least one dramatic event: The disappearance of the Neanderthals from Europe about 35,000 years ago.

Scientists have long debated what caused the demise of this human-like species. One camp argues that the Neanderthals fell victim to a dramatic cooling of the environment. The other view holds that prehistoric humans squeezed the Neanderthals out.

"There have been dozens and dozens of articles on one side or the other," said William Banks, an archaeologist at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Bordeaux.

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Training Excavation

Following the great success of Archaeology Live! training excavations from 2001 to 2006 at various sites in the City of York, Archaeology Live! became part of the Hungate excavations in the summer of 2007 and 2008. There will be more opportunities to get involved in this exciting investigation into York's past when Archaeology Live! returns to Hungate in 2009.

Dates for the 2009 training excavation season will be available on this website in the near future.

The excavation hopes to answer a number of questions about the Hungate site, which has already been shown to contain deeply stratified archaeology from the Roman period onwards. Small-scale excavations in 2000 and 2002 revealed a complex sequence of burials, structures, occupation deposits and road surfaces dating from as early as the 3rd century AD. Significant archaeology lay relatively close to the modern ground surface and was generally well preserved.

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Location: Iraq Length: 50 min.

In April 2003, American troops entered Baghdad and the fog of war descended over the city. The staff of the National Museum of Iraq, under Director Dr. Donny George, were forced to abandon the Museum temporarily. On their return, they found the Museum, which houses key Mesopotamian collections, badly vandalized and much of its contents damaged or stolen. On 24 May 2008, Dr. George spoke to the audience at The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival, recounting those events, the aftermath and the lessons to be learned.

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1,000 years on, perils of fake Viking swords are revealed

It must have been an appalling moment when a Viking realised he had paid two cows for a fake designer sword; a clash of blade on blade in battle would have led to his sword, still sharp enough to slice through bone, shattering like glass.

"You really didn't want to have that happen," said Dr Alan Williams, an archaeometallurgist and consultant to the Wallace Collection, the London museum which has one of the best assemblies of ancient weapons in the world. He and Tony Fry, a senior researcher at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, south-west London, have solved a riddle that the Viking swordsmiths may have sensed but didn't quite understand.

Some Viking swords were among the best ever made, still fearsome weapons after a millennium. The legendary swords found at Viking sites across northern Europe bear the maker's name, Ulfberht, in raised letters at the hilt end. Puzzlingly, so do the worst ones, found in fragments on battle sites or in graves.

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European Neanderthals had ginger hair and freckles

In a major breakthrough, Spanish scientists have discovered the blood group and two other genes of the early humans who lived 43,000 ago.

After analysing the fossil bones found in a cave in north-west Spain, the experts concluded they had human blood group "O" and were genetically more likely to be fair skinned, perhaps even with freckles, have red or ginger hair and could talk.

The investigating team from Spain's government scientific institute, CSIC, used the very latest forensic techniques to remove the bones for analysis to prevent them getting contaminated with modern DNA.

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Wearmouth Jarrow - Anglo-Saxon monastery

BUSINESS people and celebrities will be joining forces with church leaders this year in a final push to have a NorthEast monastery declared a World Heritage Site. The twin Anglo-Saxon monastery of Wearmouth Jarrow will be nominated by the Government for World Heritage Status next year. If successful, it will join Durham Cathedral and Hadrian's Wall in carrying the coveted title.

The Wearmouth-Jarrow ambassadors include influential people from the NorthEast such as Kate Adie and Steve Cram. They follow in the footsteps of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Duke of Gloucester and South Shields MP David Milliband.

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Gladiators to 'Fight' Again at Rome's Colosseum

Gladiators are to return to Rome's most famous fight arena almost 2,000 years after their bloody sport last entertained Roman crowds, local authorities announced.

According to Umberto Broccoli, the head of archaeology at Rome's city council, 2009 will be a time for the five million people who visit the Colosseum each year to experience "the sights, sounds and smells" of ancient Rome.

"We do not need to enshrine historical sites and monuments, we need to make them more spectacular. Museums and monuments must speak to the public in a new way," Broccoli told the daily La Repubblica.

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Extinct animals could be brought back to life thanks to advances in DNA technology

Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park film may have been pure science fiction - but extinct creatures such as Neanderthals to Sabre-toothed tigers could soon be brought back to life thanks to advances in DNA technology.

The idea of resurrecting extinct animals moved a step closer to reality last year when scientists announced that they had decoded almost all of the genome of the woolly mammoth, from 60,000-year-old remains found frozen in Siberia.

Now New Scientist magazine has named the 10 other beasts most likely to rise again, including the Irish elk deer whose antlers measured 12 feet across, the dodo and Neanderthal man.

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Ancient Greeks 'loved a good night in' say researchers

A new analysis of archaeological remains could explain why evidence of ancient Greek bar rooms is so elusive.

In classical Greek plays there are many descriptions of lively drinking dens, but no remains have ever been discovered.

Clare Kelly Blazeby, from the University of Leeds, believes the reason is that ancient Greek homes doubled as pubs.

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The heritage of Stonehenge was given a twist earlier this week by the national media. The spiritual history of the grounds, from burials to healing space, is an oft-observed legend, but a report from a university professor saw hacks redub the site “Ravehenge”.

“It has undoubtedly been put to the press in an eye-catching way with the use of the word rave and all that sort of thing,” laughs Dave Batchelor, archaeologist at Stonehenge, reflecting on the report by Huddersfield University’s Dr Rupert Till.

In conclusions which were far from revelatory, Till used a computer model of Stonehenge and a concrete replica in America’s Washington State to recreate the sounds of the space 5,000 years ago, adjudging it to have possessed perfect acoustics.

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Extinct beasts including woolly mammoth and the dodo could rise again

Neanderthal humans, sabre-toothed tigers, giant sloths and the dodo could all qualify for resurrection using preserved DNA, it was claimed today.

A list of 50 "extinct beasts" that might, together with the woolly mammoth, rise again with the help of future technology was compiled by New Scientist magazine.

They included the ice-age Neanderthal, which for a time lived alongside our Homo sapiens ancestors before vanishing around 25,000 years ago.

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