Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Introduction to Finds Processing and Recording

London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre Training School: Introduction to Finds Processing and Recording

Course dates

Monday 18 July – Friday 22 July

Monday 1 August – Friday 5 August

Course content

During this week-long course you will learn the basics of processing finds from archaeological excavations. Guided by nearly a dozen experienced practitioners and specialists from the Archive and Research Centre, you will go through all the various stages from handling and packaging, to sorting and cataloguing. There will be a strong emphasis on practical activities, drawing on one of the world’s largest and most diverse archaeological collections.

Further information...

Environmental Crusaders

How Medieval Knights remade Poland’s ecosystems

In 1280, victorious Teutonic Crusaders began building the world’s largest castle on a hill overlooking the River Nogat in what is now northern Poland. Malbork Castle became the hub of a powerful Teutonic state that crushed its pagan enemies and helped remake Medieval Europe. Now, ancient pollen samples show that in addition to converting heathens to Christians, the Crusaders also converted vast swathes of Medieval forests to farmlands.

In the early-13th century, Prussian tribes living in the south-eastern Baltic became a thorn in the side of the Monastic State of Teutonic Knights, which was formed in 1224 in what is now Germany and Poland. To remove the thorn, and protect Christian converts in the region, the Teutonic Order launched a series of crusades. By the 14th century, the conquests had produced a state that ruled over more than 220,000 people, Alex Brown and Aleks Pluskowski of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom report in the Journal of Archeological Science, including new colonists who settled into fortified towns and castles.

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Greenland cold snap linked to Viking disappearance

A cold snap in Greenland in the 12th century may help explain why Viking settlers vanished from the island, scientists said on Monday.

The report, reconstructing temperatures by examining lake sediment cores in west Greenland dating back 5,600 years, also indicated that earlier, pre-historic settlers also had to contend with vicious swings in climate on icy Greenland.

"Climate played (a) big role in Vikings' disappearance from Greenland," Brown University in the United States said in a statement of a finding that average temperatures plunged 4 degrees Celsius (7F) in 80 years from about 1100.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Archaeological dig aims to find historic buildings in a Chester park

AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL dig, under way in Chester’s Grosvenor Park, aims to find previously unknown buildings associated with a great mansion house that was destroyed in the Civil War in the 17th century.

The experts from Cheshire West and Chester Council’s historic environment team and University of Chester second year Archaeology students also hope find part of a Roman road to the nearby amphitheatre.

Simon Ward, director of the dig, said: “We are looking to expand our knowledge of this part of Chester close to the Roman Amphitheatre and Chester’s original cathedral St John’s Church.”

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Are these the 100 places that made Britain?

Which was more important in the making of Britain, a ruined abbey, a Dorset tree, a Liverpool cellar or a painted gable in Northern Ireland?

Battle Abbey was where Harold lost his crown and his life to William the Conqueror in 1066; Tolpuddle where in 1830 a group of agricultural labourers discussed forming a union and paid for their audacity with transportation to Australia; and Free Derry Corner looks down on the narrow streets where 13 unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by the army in 1972. All are among the 100 sites nominated by historians to appear in a book as the places that made the modern nation.

The Liverpool cellar nominated by Peter Catterall, lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London, was a fruit warehouse, air raid shelter and egg packing station before in 1957 it became a music club and four years later gave the world the Beatles. "I don't think music was the only element of the 1960s, but it came to be emblematic of it," Catterall says. "You can't imagine Swinging London without the music. In a sense the band that made everything possible was the Beatles; it was they who paved the way for the idea that the British were good at music."

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bronze-Age Battle Frozen in Time: Photos

he earliest probable evidence for a large-scale battle, described in the latest issue of Antiquity, reveals in gory detail what warfare was like during the Bronze Age.

The 3,200-year-old likely battlefield freezes in time the face-to-face combat that took place in northeastern Germany's Tollense Valley along the banks of the River Tollense.

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Unique Canine Tooth from 'Peking Man' Found in Swedish Museum Collection

Fossils from so-called Peking man are extremely rare, as most of the finds disappeared during World War II. A unique discovery has been made at the Museum of Evolution at Uppsala University -- a canine tooth from Peking Man, untouched since it was dug up in the 1920s in China.

"This is an absolutely incredible find. We and our Chinese colleagues are overwhelmed. With today's technology, a canine tooth that has not been handled can tell us so much more than in the past, such as what they ate," says Per Ahlberg, professor of evolutionary developmental biology at Uppsala University.

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Iowa State physicists explain the long, useful lifetime of carbon-14

AMES, Iowa - The long, slow decay of carbon-14 allows archaeologists to accurately date the relics of history back to 60,000 years.

And while the carbon dating technique is well known and understood (the ratio of carbon-14 to other carbon isotopes is measured to determine the age of objects containing the remnants of any living thing), the reason for carbon-14's slow decay has not been understood. Why, exactly, does carbon-14 have a half-life of nearly 6,000 years while other light atomic nuclei have half-lives of minutes or seconds? (Half-life is the time it takes for the nuclei in a sample to decay to half the original amount.)

"This has been a very significant puzzle to nuclear physicists for several decades," said James Vary, an Iowa State University professor of physics and astronomy. "And the underlying reason turned out to be a fairly exotic one."

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Runcorn dig uncovers medieval lion head

A bronze lion head dating from the 15th century has been found in Cheshire.

The artefact, believed to have been a hat badge, is among 80 items discovered by archaeologists at a building site near Runcorn.

Pottery dating back to the 13th century and footings of timber-framed houses have also been discovered at a site near Lodge Farm.

Archaeologists believe the items would have been owned by people living in the medieval village of Norton.

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Stirling Castle skeletons show signs of brutal death

Tests on the medieval skeletons of five people found buried at Stirling Castle have suggested they suffered "brutally violent" deaths.

Their remains were found along with those of four others during renovations of the castle's royal palace.

Scientists used radiocarbon dating to determine the nine people died between the 13th and 15th Centuries.

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The skull with the Mona Lisa smile

Facial reconstruction is a technique that most fans of Bones and other crime procedural programmes may be familiar with. Using skeletal remains and a knowledge of anatomy, a forensic artist puts a flesh-and-blood face on a desiccated cranium to aid in identification of a murder victim. Within the world of ancient bodies, reconstructions have been done to bring to life the faces of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen[1], the Palaeoindian known as Kennewick Man[2], and “Moora,” an Iron Age girl found in a German peat bog[3]. Tutankhamen’s high cheekbones, Kennewick Man’s strong jaw line, and Moora’s close-set eyes are among the features that individualise these ancient people and make them somehow seem more modern, more like us.

Yet facial reconstruction is a controversial technique in forensic science owing primarily to its subjectivity[4]. The contemporary practice was championed by anthropologist Wilton Krogman[5] in the 1960s[6], and forensic artists have been steadily working since then. Methods of creating a face from a skull include both 2D drawings based on photographs or x-rays of the skull and sculptures or computerized 3D models based on general information about average musculature and tissue thickness. The problems with forensic facial reconstruction include the lack of information about how tissue thickness varies by body type, particularly in terms of age, sex, and weight, as well as a lack of standardization in methodologies used to create the faces[7].

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Stirling Castle's Amazon warrior revealed

THE discovery of the remains of an aristocratic Scottish "Amazon", killed in battle during the Wars of Independence, is set to rewrite the history books.

Her skeleton was among the remains of five "high status" individuals - all of whom had suffered violent deaths - found beneath the paved floor of the "lost" Royal Chapel at Stirling Castle.

The woman - simply known as "skeleton 539" - was a robust and muscular female, standing 5ft 4in tall. Archaeologists had previously suspected she had been a courtier at the Royal palace during the reign of Alexander 11. But detailed forensic tests have now shown that she was ruthlessly killed by a warhammer during one of the key conflicts during the Wars of Independence.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Warriors wielding metal detectors redraw ancient maps of England

Amateurs using metal detectors have found record amounts of golden treasure and priceless scraps of history across England, according to an annual report from the British Museum.

All the items were reported to archaeologists under a scheme which the museum's director, Neil MacGregor, called "quite unique in Europe".

MacGregor recently presented the successful Radio 4 series, A History of the World in 100 Objects.

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Roman ring discovered in field

AN ancient silver ring discovered in a remote field has been classified as buried treasure.

The 1,900 year old ring was found by Simon Ashford buried 20cm below the surface in a field in Alconbury near Huntingdon on March 20 last year.

Mr Ashford, from Godmanchester, who had been searching the field with a metal detector, sent the ring to the British Museum in London, where Ralph Jackson, of the pre-history of Europe department, examined it.

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Roman road exposed during revamp work at Chester attraction

ARCHAEOLOGISTS carrying out a trial dig in advance of the revamp of an historic attraction came across the original Roman road.

Work is under way to improve access to the foundations of the Roman south east angle tower overlooked by The Off The Wall pub, on the inner ring road, together with better interpretation boards.

Archaeologists asked to ensure any underground remains were protected during the work came across the original Roman road just centimetres below the surface.

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Anglo-Saxon feast on the menu at Kirkleatham Museum

FOOD fit for a princess is being served up at a Teesside museum cafe to celebrate a ground-breaking exhibition.

The amazing story of the life and death of an Anglo-Saxon princess will be told at Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar, when a new exhibition opens on Saturday.

The display showcases unique archaeological finds, unearthed in Loftus between 2005 and 2007.

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London’s Underworld Unearthed: The secret life of the Rookery

From 2006-08, Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) undertook archaeological excavations on the site of the former St Giles Court, St Giles High Street, London, prior to the construction of the Central Saint Giles development designed by Lorenzo Piano. The area had been a notorious slum during the 18th-19th centuries – the St Giles Rookery – well known in contemporary art and literature for its gin houses and licentiousness.

Criminals, prostitutes and gin soaked alcoholics ‘roosted’ in what were known as ‘rookeries’, separated from the rest of society. St Giles parish was immortalised in Hogarth’s Gin Lane, as the site of London’s most notorious rookery. This small den of narrow streets and alleys were home to a relentless tide of immigrants, sex-workers, thieves and addicts, becoming the epitome of gin fuelled lawlessness and violence so threatening that even the police avoided it for over a century.

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The Bones of Martyrs?

orensic anthropologists’ two main goals in analysing a set of recent human skeletal remains are to positively identify the deceased and to work out the cause of the individual’s death. When these techniques are applied to historical remains, generally called forensic archaeology, all too often what results are sensationalized reports that are difficult to verify – from the 1991 exhumation of U.S. president Zachary Taylor amid claims he died of arsenic poisoning [i]; to a 2005 study showing lead poisoning may have killed Beethoven [ii] (but also may not have [iii]); to the 2010 claims that King Tut died of malaria[iv] and Julius Caesar suffered from a brain tumour [v]. In an April National Geographic news piece and film [vi], a team of physical anthropologists analysed two skeletons found in a vault in an Italian church in an attempt to show that they represent the 3rd century AD saints Chrysanthus and Daria

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Population genetics reveals shared ancestries

More than just a tool for predicting health, modern genetics is upending long-held assumptions about who we are. A new study by Harvard researchers casts new light on the intermingling and migration of European, Middle Eastern and African and populations since ancient times.

In a paper titled "The History of African Gene Flow into Southern Europeans, Levantines and Jews," published in PLoS Genetics, HMS Associate Professor of Genetics David Reich and his colleagues investigated the proportion of sub-Saharan African ancestry present in various populations in West Eurasia, defined as the geographic area spanning modern Europe and the Middle East. While previous studies have established that such shared ancestry exists, they have not indicated to what degree or how far back the mixing of populations can be traced.

Analyzing publicly available genetic data from 40 populations comprising North Africans, Middle Easterners and Central Asians were doctoral student Priya Moorjani and Alkes Price, an assistant professor in the Program in Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology within the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Video: Faces from Roman past of the Fens

Discover more about the Romans and their impact on Cambridgeshire at a new exhibition in Ely Museum.

Among the artefacts on show are numerous pottery faces, which archaeologists believe could have been used as cremation urns.

Kate Ayres, museum curator, said: “The faces are marvellous. “We believe they are actual faces of people who have died and they were used as cremation urns.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Recreated Viking longship to sail to Wirral on maiden voyage

A RECONSTRUCTION of a Viking longship claimed to be the biggest ever built will sail to Wirral on its maiden voyage.

Construction work on the 35 metre Draken Harald Hårfagre – Dragon Harald Fairhair in English – started last summer in Haugesund, Norway.

After a series of test sailings it will embark on its first real voyage in summer 2013, following the path of the Vikings from Scandinavia via the British Isles to Istanbul.

Wirral will be one of the first stops and organisers are now looking for 80 volunteers who can help row the boat into harbour.

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Iron Age cliff castle excavation finally reveals its secrets after 70 years

After a delay of 70 years, a new book has been published which sheds light on the history of a nationally important monument in Cornwall.

The work is the result of ten years' study by leading South West archaeologists into a landmark excavation of an Iron Age cliff castle near Newquay.

Titled Trevelgue Head, Cornwall: the importance of C K Croft Andrew's 1939 excavations for prehistoric and Roman Cornwall, the book is a fully illustrated account of archaeological excavations which took place on the headland during the summer of that year.

The Second World War halted work on the site and the results of the excavations have remained unpublished until now.

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Medieval street discovered under Norton Village, Runcorn

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed rare remains of a medieval village in Runcorn.

The Oxford Archaeology North (OAN) dig team was excavating a building site when it discovered pottery shards and other items dating back to the 13th or 14th century.

Their find was made near Highgate Close in Norton Village.

They also found holes indicating that timber frame houses and small farming structures once stood there.

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Public invited to tour archaeological dig in Cambridgeshire

A team of archaeologists from the University of Birmingham are set to share their work at the largest open area excavation to be undertaken at the medieval village of Longstanton, Cambridgeshire, with a public open day offering guided tours of the site.

Hosted by Birmingham Archaeology, part of the University’s Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, the open day is taking place on Thursday 26 May at the site in Longstanton and will provide visitors with a glimpse of the past history of the local area.

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Britain - An amateur treasure seeker's paradise

Britain is bursting with ancient buried treasure and the masses have been bitten by the bug for digging it up -- ironically with the full approval of the government and leading museums.

Latest figures released by the British Museum on Wednesday showed a "massive" jump in the number of antiquities and spectacular objects classed as treasure being found by ordinary citizens with a passion for history.

In 2010, over 90,000 archaeological objects were reported to museums across the country -- a 36 percent rise on 2009 -- through what is known as the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS).

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Archaeologists move in on site of new council offices

ARCHAEOLOGISTS will this week start delving for hidden history beneath the site which is to become York’s new council HQ.

A Roman bath complex and a Medieval friary are among the treasures which may be discovered as a part of York’s railway heritage is transformed into the city’s civic flagship.

West Offices, in Station Rise, will ultimately house City Of York Council’s new £32 million customer service centre – and our pictures today show where that facility will be based.

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Housing excavation uncovers remains of medieval village

Construction work on a new housing development in Runcorn has unearthed what are thought to be the final remains of the medieval village of Norton.

Around 80 archaeological features have been found at the site near Lodge Farm, off Highgate Close, Norton village, since excavation began at the end of April.

Archaeologists have unearthed shards of pottery they believe date from the 13th and 14th centuries, as well as the footings and post holes of former timber-framed houses close to site of the old village road.

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A bit of modern archeology, to challenge recorded history

All roads lead to Rome – some 400,000 of them, constructed during the early civilization of theRoman Empire.

At least, that’s what we were taught in school.

Roman roads are, or certainlyhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif were, long and straight. They’re made from broken stones, mixed with cement, tightly packed then paved.

The aim, of course, was to make getting from A to B – by foot, cart or horseback – as easy as possible.

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Nottingham Caves Surveyed in 3D

The English city of Nottingham has a unique architectural heritage – beneath the city there are nearly 500 man-made caves cut into the natural sandstone. Some date back to the medieval period and possibly even earlier.

The Nottingham Caves Survey is taking a fresh look at over 400 of the caves in order to help highlight the city’s unique historical resource and will build on the work of British Geological Survey in the 1980s which documented all known caves in Nottingham. The caves listed from that time will be re-visited and the information on the Register updated. All caves that can be physically accessed will be surveyed with a 3D laser scanner, producing a full measured record in three dimensions. This ‘point cloud’ of millions of individual survey points can be cut and sliced into plans and sections, ‘flown through’ in short videos, and examined in great detail either on the web through the TruView Internet Explorer plug-in or on a fixed PC with suitable software.

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Early Bronze Age battle site found on German river bank

Fractured human remains found on a German river bank could provide the first compelling evidence of a major Bronze Age battle.

Archaeological excavations of the Tollense Valley in northern Germany unearthed fractured skulls, wooden clubs and horse remains dating from around 1200 BC.

The injuries to the skulls suggest face-to-face combat in a battle perhaps fought between warring tribes, say the researchers.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Archaeology volunteers uncover ‘lost’ castle

A castle that was once one of the most important buildings in the North Pennines and the gateway to the Bishop of Durham’s great deer park of Stanhope, is now revealing its secrets after centuries as a forgotten ruin.

Fifty volunteers from the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Altogether Archaeology and backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage are busy uncovering the ruins of Westgate Castle in Weardale.

From the 13th until the early 17th century, Westgate Castle served as the ‘west gate’ into the Bishop of Durham’s great deer park, and functioned as an administrative headquarters for the Bishop’s extensive estate encompassing the Old Forest of Weardale.

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Unearthing the Crossrail skeletons

Yesterday I was given exclusive access to the preparation work that's going on for the Crossrail tunnelling.

Millions of pounds are being spent on archaeological and geological surveys across the capital and they're coming up with some striking findings.

The archaeologists are currently working outside Liverpool Street Station.

Behind some metal hoardings - yards away from the 205 bus route - they've been digging trenches where Crossrail's ticket hall will be.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Standing Up to Fight: Does It Explain Why We Walk Upright and Why Women Like Tall Men?

A University of Utah study shows that men hit harder when they stand on two legs than when they are on all fours, and when hitting downward rather than upward, giving tall, upright males a fighting advantage.

This may help explain why our ape-like human ancestors began walking upright and why women tend to prefer tall men.

"The results of this study are consistent with the hypothesis that our ancestors adopted bipedal posture so that males would be better at beating and killing each other when competing for females," says David Carrier, a biology professor who conducted the study. "Standing up on their hind legs allowed our ancestors to fight with the strength of their forelimbs, making punching much more dangerous."

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Golden Cap's ancient burial mounds excavated in Dorset

Work has started to excavate three Bronze Age burial mounds on Golden Cap in Dorset.

The 4,000-year-old mounds are at risk from coastal erosion and are being excavated by the National Trust before they are lost to the sea.

There are five burial mounds visible on the summit of Golden Cap, the highest point of the coast path through Dorset at 191m (626ft) above sea level.

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Surprise Archeological Find from Iceland’s Settlement

Archeological remains that were found during an excavation in Urridakot in Gardabaer, a neighboring town of Reykjavík, were much older than archeologists had assumed. They date back to the settlement of Iceland in the 9th century AD while Urridakot is first mentioned in written sources from the 16th century.

Excavation has been ongoing in Urridakot in the past years because of planned construction in the area. In 2006 the local authorities asked the Institute of Archaeology to fully complete the registration of archeological remains within the town limits, Fréttabladid reports.

“The first test dig was made in Urridakot in 2007 and last year the excavation was to be completed at which point I decided to dig in the area between those that had been tested,” said archeologist Ragnheidur Traustadóttir.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lewis Binford obituary

Advocate of a rigorous, scientific approach to archaeology

Lewis Binford, who has died aged 79, was the most influential archaeologist of the 20th century. He never dug up anything of great wonder, but he forever changed the ways archaeologists think about their evidence. He was adamant that they have the chance to create a new understanding of humankind; one based on the long term and the macro-forces that drive change.

He maintained that archaeological data, fragmentary as it is, sets no limits on the questions that can be asked about the past. He advocated scientific rigour and turned archaeologists away from writing "Just-so" stories about the past. Along the way there were arguments, bombastic debates and academic feuds. What survives is a worldwide legacy of archaeologists who, like it or not, do archaeology the Binford way.

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Archaeological dig at Iron Age hill fort to open to the public

GUIDED tours of an archaeological excavation taking place at an Iron Age hill fort are to be held as part of a public open weekend.

The free tours of the excavation in the North York Moors National Park are on offer on Sunday and Monday, May 29 and 30, at Boltby Scar, near Sutton Bank.

Excavations have taken place on Boltby Scar on at least two occasions in the past, but virtually no information from these activities survives and in 1961 the hill fort was levelled by bulldozer.

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Culross Palace dig discovers east wing

One of Fife's most historic buildings could have had an east wing, according to new evidence uncovered by archaeologists.

Foundations of previously unrecorded buildings, including a series of foundations and paving, suggest Culross Palace may have had an east wing.

The National Trust for Scotland made the discovery while excavating ahead of work on a 19th Century bothy.

Work on the bothy can start once the 17th Century foundations are recorded.

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Southampton's Designated Archaeology Collections Programme Overview

Southampton Arts and Heritage is the final recipient of all archives generated by archaeological fieldwork within the Southampton city boundary. Its role is to store and care for the objects and the paper, photographic and digital records which provide the permanent record of any excavation, watching brief or building recording.

Making these objects and records available is also an essential part of the service, and archives can be viewed by appointment. A database of itemised finds, individual objects made of metal, worked bone, worked stone, wood and other materials, is available on the Southampton City Council website.

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New power elite emerged in medieval Iceland as it became Norwegian

As Iceland became part of the Norwegian kingship 1262–1264, a new power structure in the shape of an Icelandic aristocracy appointed by the king of Norway was established. This development is discussed in a doctoral thesis in History from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, that sheds light on a period in the Icelandic history that previously has not received its due attention.

“The 14th century has never received a great deal of attention in Icelandic history writing. This is surprising since this period is at least as important as the considerably more frequently discussed so-called Free State period (around 930–1262/64) when Iceland was autonomous, especially considering the country’s state formation process,” says the author of the thesis Sigríður Beck.

Before becoming Norwegian, the country consisted of a number of territories ruled by chiefs who were constantly competing for power. Sigríður Beck has studied how the Icelandic power elite changed as the island became part of Norway and new offices and a new administration were introduced. Beck shows how an aristocracy was established as the king appointed officers who were to ensure that the country was administered according to Norwegian law.

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2000 years-old tomb found in western Turkey

Turkish road workers found 2000 years old tomb during the road rehabilitation works in Southern Turkish city of Kutahya on Monday.

Road workers who unearthed ancient tomb near the Aydogdu village of Kutahya. They also found skeleton shoes and socks.

Kutahya Museum Director Metin Turktuzun said they found burial chambers which dates back two thousands years old.

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Bulgarian Archaeologists Uncover Sanctuary of Greek Goddess Demeter

A temple of Ancient Greek goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone has been discovered by a team of Bulgarian archaeologists near the town of Sozopol on the Black Sea.

The archaeological team of Prof. Krastina Panayotova found the Ancient Greek temple Tuesday during excavations on the Skamniy Cape where the archaeologists are exploring a fortress wall and a church that were part of a Byzantine imperial monastery.

Panayotova explained that the figurines and ceramics found in a concentrated spot are clear evidence of the cult for Demeter and Persephone.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ancient Greek City Uncovered in Russia

What is considered to be a unique discovery has been made in Taman, South Russia, at the Black Sea. The ruins of an ancient Greek city, dated around the 6th century BC, came to light. Archeologists are stunned both by the number of the findings and the condition they were found in.

The excavations are proceeding with extreme caution, in order to avoid damaging the city’s ancient fortress. According to historians, it is assumed that the ruins are the temple of Dimitra, the ancient goddess of fertility and agriculture, while they were able to determine the very spot of the altar. But, the number of the findings induce them to believe that a whole city has been found.

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Scots site may hold the key to Arthurian mystery

IT is a mystery that has baffled generations of historians, but the secrets of King Arthur’s round table could finally be laid bare thanks to modern technology.

A circular earthen mound near Stirling Castle has been linked variously to the legendary king, to British aristocrats and to Roman invaders, but its origins remain shrouded in history.

Now, for the first time, a team of archaelogists from Glasgow University is preparing to use hi-tech scanners to survey the ground beneath it, providing a clear insight into the mound’s beginnings.

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Clues to Neanderthal hunting tactics hidden in reindeer teeth

Scientists have found that our cousins the Neanderthal employed sophisticated hunting strategies similar to the tactics used much later by modern humans. The new findings come from the analysis of subtle chemical variations in reindeer teeth.

Reindeer and caribou are nowadays restricted to the northernmost regions of Eurasia and America. But many thousands of years ago, large reindeer herds roamed throughout Europe and were hunted by the Neanderthal people.

Kate Britton, an archaeologist now at the University of Aberdeen, and her colleagues were part of a team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, that studied the Jonzac Neanderthal site in France - a rock shelter believed to have been used over a long period of time as a hunting camp. The Jonzac site has many layers of flints from stone-tools and the bones of butchered animals riddled with cut marks.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Stonemasons drafted in to repair damage to landmark Roman arch in Lincoln

A FAMOUS Roman landmark has been given a makeover to repair damage caused by harsh winter weather.

Specialist stonemasons were drafted in by the City of Lincoln Council to tend to Newport Arch in Ermine Street, which has been ravaged by two successive severe winters.

Work began in the early hours of yesterday morning to repair limestone and plug up cracks in the Roman gate to stop water seeping inside its walls.

Maintenance work was also carried out to the adjoining Newport Cottage and nets that were put up around the arch in February last year to catch falling debris were emptied and re-hung.

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Base dig unearths 2,000-year-old find

ARCHAEOLOGISTS working on a military base have unearthed what they believe could be a 2,000-year-old Roman shrine.

The shrine was discovered during a dig at RAF Lakenheath, with senior Suffolk County Council archaeologists calling the find ‘extremely unusual’.

Jo Caruth, senior project manager, said: “We’ve worked on the base for quite a few years now, but in that time we’ve not seen anything quite like this.”

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Rare performance of Iron Age horn

A CHURCH was filled with sounds from the Iron Age during a music event on Saturday.

Musician John Kenny was at Harborough’s St Dionysius Church during the afternoon playing his replica of a type of horn known as a carnyx.

The carnyx was a wind instrument of the Iron Age Celts, and is a kind of horn or trumpet with a mouth styled in the shape of a boar or other animal’s head.

The event was held as part of a day of music-themed events at Harborough Museum.

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Archaeologists uncover Gawthorpe Hall - the medieval predecessor of Harewood House

Archaeologists from the University of York are excavating the remains of Gawthorpe Hall, the predecessor of Yorkshire’s award winning Harewood House.

The team of undergraduates, led by Dr. Jonathan Finch of the University of York, in partnership with York Archaeological Trust, have already discovered a wealth of artefacts.

These include a pre-historic flint arrowhead, a range of ceramics dating from the medieval period to the 18th century, decorative glassware and wine bottle fragments, and a 15th century coin.

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Loftus royal treasure display attracts crowds

An exhibition showcasing Teesside's links to Anglo-Saxon royalty attracted almost 1,700 people over five days.

The 7th Century artefacts, described as "unparalleled" were found in Loftus at the only known Anglo-Saxon royal burial site in north-east England.

After a battle to keep them in the region they will go on show at Redcar's Kirkleatham Museum from May 28.

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On Prehistoric Supercontinent of Pangaea, Latitude and Rain Dictated Where Species Lived

More than 200 million years ago, mammals and reptiles lived in their own separate worlds on the supercontinent Pangaea, despite little geographical incentive to do so. Mammals lived in areas of twice-yearly seasonal rainfall; reptiles stayed in areas where rains came just once a year. Mammals lose more water when they excrete, and thus need water-rich environments to survive. Results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Aggregating nearly the entire landmass of Earth, Pangaea was a continent the likes our planet has not seen for the last 200 million years. Its size meant there was a lot of space for animals to roam, for there were few geographical barriers, such as mountains or ice caps, to contain them.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Prehistoric Cave Art Discovered in Basque Country

In a locally well known cave near an industrial town in Spain, researchers have unexpectedly discovered faint images of horses and hand prints dating back some 25,000 years.

Concerned that activity at a nearby stone quarry had destroyed much of the cave of Askondo, Diego Garate of the Archaeological Museum of Biscay in Bilbao, and Joseba Rios-Garaizar of the Max Planck Institute set out to determine if any archaeological material was still intact. They entered the cave outside the town of Mañaria and searched for bones, stones, and other artifacts. Only on their way out of the cave did they noticed the paintings that they and many others had missed before. “Without a doubt,” says Garate, “[it was] a gift of destiny.”

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Pottery fragments from Glastonbury Abbey cast new light on Dark Ages

Archaeologists are gearing up to share their discovery that the history of Glastonbury Abbey site reaches right back to the Dark Ages. Previous studies of the Abbey’s pottery had identified early Roman, Anglo-Saxon, medieval and later material. Now, a one-day symposium hosted by Glastonbury Abbey, exploring exciting new research into the historic excavation archives 1908 – 1979, will show that human activity took place there as early as the third or fourth centuries BC.

John Allan, Consultant Archaeologist to Glastonbury Abbey, and one of the speakers at the Symposium, said: ‘We now realise that the Abbey site had a much longer history than previously known, reaching right back into prehistory and including the mysterious Dark Ages. We hadn’t realised these periods were represented in the excavated pottery, until this project.

‘A scatter of exotic Saxon, Norman, medieval and later ceramics attests the great wealth of the abbey. Scientific analysis has now established the precise origins of some of these finds; the most distant come from Italy, Spain, Portugal and France.

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Viking ship not just ceremonial

For years, it was widely believed that the ancient Tune ship on display at the Viking Ships Museum in Oslo was used mainly as a so-called “grave ship,” perhaps even built for the purpose of being buried in the grave of an important Viking. Now a new doctoral dissertation claims that it was not only an ocean-going sailing vessel, but even grounded in its time and underwent repairs.

The Tune ship is the lesser-known and in the poorest condition of the three vessels on display at the museum. It was discovered on a farm on Rolvsøy, north of Fredrikstad, and excavated from a burial mound in 1867.

The grave was unusually large, measuring 80 meters in diameter and around four meters high, according to the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo. The vessel, built around 900AD, was best preserved in the areas where it had been buried under thick clay.

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Glastonbury Abbey's pottery link to Dark Ages

Pottery fragments from an excavation archive of Glastonbury Abbey have shown the site dates back to the Dark Ages, which is later than previously thought.

The research project into the 1951-1964 excavation archive have shown humans occupied the site in the late 4th or 5th centuries.

Archaeologist John Allan said: "We hadn't realised these periods were represented in the excavated pottery."

Other finds include "exotic" pottery from Italy, Spain, Portugal and France.

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Neanderthals' Last Stand Possibly Found

A newly found prehistoric toolkit suggests Neanderthals may have lingered in Russia's Ural Mountains as recently as 33,000 years ago.

A Neanderthal-style toolkit found in the frigid far north of Russia's Ural Mountains dates to 33,000 years ago and may mark the last refuge of Neanderthals before they went extinct, according to a new Science study.

Another possibility is that anatomically modern humans crafted the hefty tools using what's known as Mousterian technology associated with Neanderthals, but anthropologists believe that's unlikely.

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Butter in bog may be 2,500 years old

BOG BUTTER found in a timber vessel in a bog at Shancloon near Caherlistrane, north Galway, could be 2,000 to 2,500 years old, according to a specialist from the National Museum of Ireland.

The butter, weighing almost two stone, was found in a timber keg which may have been hewn from a tree trunk and shaped into a barrel using early Iron Age implements.

The container of bog butter was found in a plot of bog where Ray Moylan from Liss, Headford, was having his annual supply of turf cut by local contractor Declan McDonagh.

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Mit dem Video-Guide durch die Römerzeit

Als erstes Museum in Westfalen und eines der ersten Museen Deutschlands bietet das LWL-Römermuseum in Haltern einen speziellen Multimedia-Führer für gehörlose Menschen an.

Auf einem kleinen Bildschirm sind auf den tragbaren Geräten Informationen zu den wichtigsten Museumsbereichen und Exponaten in deutscher Gebärdensprache abrufbar. Seit Mittwoch, dem11. Mai 2011 ist der Video-Guide im LWL-Römermuseum für eine Leihgebühr erhältlich.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Stone Age cold case baffles scientists

In Asia’s northern hinterlands not far from the Arctic Circle, Stone Age toolmakers left an evolutionary calling card that’s hard to read.

Artifacts found in this desolate region imply that the toolmakers adapted to frigid temperatures and dark winters, says a team led by archaeologist Ludovic Slimak of the University of Toulouse, France. Around that time, modern human groups in Europe and southwestern Asia underwent pivotal cultural changes. Some groups even reached Arctic spots near the new finds and left behind artifacts associated with that human cultural transition.

The new Arctic discoveries present a much tougher call. The stone implements -- manufactured between 34,000 and 31,000 years ago at Byzovaya, a site in Russia’s Ural Mountains -- resemble scraping and cutting tools associated with 130,000- to 30,000-year-old European Neandertals, Slimak and his colleagues report in the May 13 Science. To complicate matters, groups of Homo sapiens that lived in northern Africa and southwestern Asia between 200,000 and 45,000 years ago made tools like those of Neandertals.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Neanderthal extinction debate rumbles on

Direct dating of a fossil of a Neanderthal infant suggests that Neanderthals probably died out earlier than previously thought. Researchers have dated a Neanderthal fossil discovered in a significant cave site in Russia in the northern Caucasus, and found it to be 10,000 years older than previous research had suggested.

This new evidence throws into doubt the theory that Neanderthals and modern humans interacted for thousands of years. Instead, the researchers believe any co-existence between Neanderthals and modern humans is likely to have been much more restricted, perhaps a few hundred years. It could even mean that in some areas Neanderthals had become extinct before anatomically modern humans moved out of Africa.

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Archaeology: Roman stadium in Plovdiv set for face-lift

Plovdiv's Roman Stadium is due to undergo an overhaul worth some 700 000 leva, with restoration works due to be completed by December 15 2011, reports in Bulgarian media said on May 10.

The facility is among the largest Roman structures in the Balkans. The massive edifice is 180m long and had a capacity of over 30 000 spectators. It is believed that it was built during the reign of Septimus Severus (193-211).

The reconstruction process will be carried out by a consortium selected in open competition staged in March this year, Dnevnik daily reported.

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Prehistoric paintings found in Spain

Paintings depicting horses and human hands made by prehistoric humans around 25,000 years ago have been discovered in a cave in northern Spain, regional officials said on Wednesday.

The red paintings, found by chance by archeologists looking for signs of ancient settlements, were made around the same time as the Altamira Cave paintings -some of the world's best prehistoric paintings discovered in northern Spain in 1879.

"It was a chance finding," said archeologist Diego Garate. "Although they were difficult to spot because they are badly deteriorated, our experienced eye helped us to identify them."

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Were Neandertals and Modern Humans Just Ships in the Night?

Researchers have long debated how long Neandertals stuck around after modern humans invaded their home territories in Europe and Asia around 40,000 years ago. Some say as long as 10,000 years; others think Neandertals went extinct almost immediately. A new radiocarbon dating study of a Neandertal site in Russia concludes that the latter scenario is most likely, and that Neandertals and modern humans were probably like ships in the night. But don’t expect this to be the last word on this contentious subject.

Neandertals and modern humans likely encountered one another at least twice during prehistory. The first time was at least 80,000 years ago in the Near East, as evidenced by findings of both Neandertal and modern human bones in caves in Israel. But the moderns, who came up from Africa, apparently did not venture any farther than the Near East at that time, possibly due to competition from the Neandertals who were then occupying much of Europe and Asia.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Archeologists unearth 900-year-old artefacts

ARTEFACTS estimated to be 900 years old have been discovered in Bury St Edmunds and could shed light on the town’s many medieval industries.

A team of archeologists has unearthed the remains of medieval ovens and lime putty barrels on a building site on Peckham Street, Bury, which indicate the area was used to create mortar, plaster and putty used in building work.

Cow, goat and sheep horn cores have also been found, showing that at a later date, the site may have been used as a tannery.

Archaeologists have been digging at the site for the past four weeks unearthing artefacts that give us a glimpse of life in medieval times.

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Neanderthals and Early Humans May Not Have Mingled Much

n improvement in the dating of fossils suggests that the Neanderthals, a heavily muscled, thick-boned human species adapted to living in ice age Europe, perished almost immediately on contact with the modern humans who started to enter Europe from the Near East about 44,000 years ago. Until now bones from several Neanderthal sites have been dated to as young as 29,000 years ago, suggesting there was extensive overlap between the two human species. This raised the question of whether there had been interbreeding between humans and Neanderthals, an issue that is still not resolved.

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Archaeologists find 2,600-year-old Celtic Princess buried in Germany

German archaeologists are examining a Celtic grave in the Danube heartland when they found the remains of a Celtic princess, from 2,600 years ago, buried with her gold and amber jewelry.

The princess had remained in her final resting place since about 609BC. Just months ago the German experts began to dig out the 80 tonnes of clay covering the grave to remove it bring it their offices where it could be examined.

Experts believe that the manner that she was buried, with expensive jewels, shows that she was of a high social rank. The brooches found are particularly beautiful with Celtic designs in gold and amber. According to BBC reports the remains of a child were also found in the grave. The child is presumed to be the princess'.

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Caves in Spain Yielding More Early Human Finds

It is a tale of two caves. Each has a story to tell about ancient human occupants who scratched a living out of Ice Age Europe. They may have lived in one of these caves as long ago as 900,000 years B.P. (before the present era). Scientists in southeastern Spain have been methodically piecing together the stories in these caves through careful excavation and analysis of finds that may significantly expand our knowledge of early humans and how they lived in what is today southern Europe. What is more, their finds may help fill in an important chapter in human evolution.

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Viking shipyard found on Scottish island

nvestigations by marine archaeologists at Loch na h-Airde on Skye’s Rubh an Dunain peninsula by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) have uncovered the remains of a possible medieval shipyard, including boat timbers dating from the 1100s, a stone-built quay, a man-made entrance canal, and a blockage system designed to keep a constant water level in the Loch.

It is now believed that the site has been a focus for maritime activity for many centuries, from the Vikings to the MacAskill and Macleod clans of Skye. The loch and canal would likely have been used for the secure wintering of boats, along with their construction and maintenance.

Colin Martin, a marine archaeologist specialising in ship wrecks who is investigating Loch na h-Airde said, “This site has enormous potential to tell us about how boats were built, serviced and sailed on Scotland’s western seaboard in the medieval period – and perhaps during the early historic and prehistoric eras as well. There is no other site quite like this in Scotland.”

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Celtic Exhibition extended to 21 August 2011

The excellent Celtic exhibition held in Völklingen, Germany was originally due to close later this month. However, the exhibition has proved so popular, it has been extended until 21 August.

The exhibition - Die Kelten: Druiden, Fürsten, Krieger: das Leben der Kelten in der Eisenzeit – is held in the Völklingen Hütte.

Further details can be found here...

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Builders find Viking settlement in capital

A VIKING settlement has been uncovered in the heart of Dublin city centre.

Archaeologists uncovered the settlement on what was once an island in Temple Bar. It consists of two Viking homes and was found during excavations that started two weeks ago.

The find was made when work began to construct four retractable umbrellas at Meeting House Square to be used as shelter during outdoor events.

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Aerial surveys of Viking shipyard on Skye

Aerial surveys are being carried out over Skye to help archaeologists investigate a 12th Century Viking shipbuilding site.

Boat timbers, a stone-built quay and a canal have already been uncovered at Loch na h-Airde on Skye's Rubh an Dunain peninsula.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) has launched the air surveys.

Staff hope to pinpoint new sites for investigation.

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Anglo Saxon jewellery from Loftus burial site goes on show

A UNIQUE collection of Anglo-Saxon jewellery found in the North-East is set to go on display to the public for the first time.

The seventh century treasure trove sheds light on the extraordinary life of an Anglo-Saxon princess living in east Cleveland.

The artefacts were found in a farmer's field near Loftus between 2005 and 2007 at the only known Anglo-Saxon royal burial site in North-East England.

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12th Century Viking shipyard discovered

Archaeologists on Skye have found a Viking shipbuilding site including a quay, canal and boat timbers.

A 12th Century Viking shipbuilding site has been discovered by archaeologists on Skye.

Boat timbers, a stone-built quay and a canal have already been uncovered at Loch na h-Airde on Skye's Rubh an Dunain peninsula.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS ) has now launched air surveys to find out more about the discovery. The staff hope to pinpoint new sites for investigation.

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Anglo-Saxon princess pendant at Kirkleatham

Add a commentRecommend SHE was buried with her jewellery about 1,400 years ago in East Cleveland - and now her story is being graphically told in a world first for Teesside.

A stunning collection of 7th Century treasure, shedding light on the life of an Anglo-Saxon princess, is about to go on display at Redcar’s Kirkleatham Museum.

The artefacts - hailed by archaeologists as some of the rarest ever uncovered - were found in Loftus between 2005 and 2007 at the only known Anglo-Saxon royal burial site in North-east England.

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Archaeologists find new Viking site in Temple Bar

A VIKING SETTLEMENT has been uncovered in Temple Bar during building work to build a retractable canopy over Meeting House Square.

The settlement is believed to have been originally situated on what would have been an island in the middle of the River Poddle but would have been destroyed by flood waters in the 10th or 11th century.

Dermot McLaughlin, CEO of the Temple Bar Cultural Trust, posted a video blog in March that a “medieval, timber structure” had been uncovered. Further archaeological investigations found the two Viking homes at Meeting House Square, in the centre of Temple Bar. Bits of pottery from a slightly later era were also found at the site, when it was uncovered two weeks ago.

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25,000-year-old cave paintings discovered in Spain

Paintings depicting horses and human hands made by prehistoric humans around 25,000 years ago have been discovered in a cave in northern Spain, regional officials said on Wednesday.

The red paintings, found by chance by archaeologists looking for signs of ancient settlements, were made around the same time as the Altamira Cave paintings -- some of the world's best prehistoric paintings discovered in northern Spain in 1879.

"It was a chance finding," archaeologist Diego Garate told Reuters.

"Although they were difficult to spot because they are badly deteriorated, our experienced eye helped us to identify them."

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Heidelberg Man Links Humans, Neanderthals

The last common ancestor of humans and Neanderthals was a tall, well-traveled species called Heidelberg Man, according to a new PLoS One study.

The determination is based on the remains of a single Heidelberg Man (Homo heidelbergensis) known as "Ceprano," named after the town near Rome, Italy, where his fossil -- a partial cranium -- was found.

Previously, this 400,000-year-old fossil was thought to represent a new species of human, Homo cepranensis. The latest study, however, identifies Ceprano as being an archaic member of Homo heidelbergensis.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Rescuing St. Bride’s

Due to climate change, sea-levels are predicted to rise by up to two metres over the next century, and it is anticipated that the effects of erosion on coastal archaeology are only likely to increase. Although little can be done to hold back the tides, recognition of this threat has led to several small-scale assessment excavations at a number of actively eroding cemetery sites in recent years.

An excavation has recently been undertaken at St Bride’s Haven, Pembrokeshire, by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust (DAT) working with local volunteers. This rescue project, grant aided by Cadw and supported by PCNP and PLANED, has revealed part of an early medieval cemetery which is being steadily destroyed by coastal erosion.

The St Bride’s excavation, at a beautiful location in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, offered an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of Pembrokeshire’s archaeology, the threats it faces and the options for its conservation, while also making a significant contribution to learning more about the people that lived and died in the early medieval period, an enigmatic and little excavated period in the history of Wales.

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Archaeological survey and recording made easy

Amateur archaeologists can now get a step by step lesson in their own homes from professionals in how to survey and record rural settlements in Scotland.

Four videos showcasing different archaeological surveying and recording techniques were launched online on 11 April, 2011, and are available to view and download from the Scotlands Rural Past website, YouTube and Vimeo.

Produced by Scotland’s Rural Past (SRP), a Scotland-wide project supported by the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historic Monuments (RCHAMS), and comprising 65 volunteer-led projects involved in researching and recording medieval and later rural settlements, the videos aim to give detailed instructions to volunteers and students across the country.

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Looted Viking treasure trial gets under way

Wednesday marked the first day in a groundbreaking trial against five men charged with aggravated crime against relics following the theft of over 1,000 silver coins and artefacts from the Viking age on the Baltic island of Gotland.

The court will reconvene on six occasions and it is the first time in Sweden that anyone is charged with aggravated crime against relics.

“That’s why this trial is important for the whole of Sweden”, said Majvor Östergren, archaeological administrator of Gotland's county administrative board, to local paper Gotlandstidningen.

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No nuts for 'Nutcracker Man': Early human relative apparently chewed grass instead

For decades, a 2.3 million- to 1.2 million-year-old human relative named Paranthropus boisei has been nicknamed Nutcracker Man because of his big, flat molar teeth and thick, powerful jaw. But a definitive new University of Utah study shows that Nutcracker Man didn’t eat nuts, but instead chewed grasses and possibly sedges – a discovery that upsets conventional wisdom about early humanity’s diet.

“It most likely was eating grass, and most definitely was not cracking nuts,” says geochemist Thure Cerling, lead author of the study published in the May 2 online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study co-author Kevin Uno, a University of Utah Ph.D. student in geology, adds: “This study provides evidence that Paranthropus boisei was not cracking nuts, but was instead eating mainly tropical grasses or sedges. It was not competing for food with most other primates, who ate fruits, leaves and nuts; but with grazers – zebras’ ancestors, suids [ancestors of pigs and warthogs] and hippos.”

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Monday, May 02, 2011

Burial practices in Neanderthals?

For decades the debate on the familial similarity of humans and Neanderthals has continue back and forth despite DNA evidence showing potential sub-species status. Their classification as human or otherwise determines whether they fall into the category of mortuary archaeology, the study of human funerary sites in the past. So far, it has been questionable whether or not Neanderthals showed the symbolic capacity necessary for the funerary behaviour displayed by humans. However, regardless of whether they are a sub-species or distinct species, new evidence is emerging which supports the idea that Neanderthals may have engaged in patterned mortuary behaviour.

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Amsterdam's famed canal belt gets its own museum

Amsterdam's famed 17th century canal district, a major tourist draw which was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List last year, now boasts its own museum.

"The history of the canals had never been told," said Piet van Winden, the head of the "Grachtenhuis" private museum which has just opened to the public. "They are probably the best conceived urban extension project in the world," he said.

"Here, we set the scene, we explain the how and why," he told AFP. "Our goal is to be a sort of gateway to the splendour of the canals. It's then up to each visitor to discover them on foot, by bicycle or by boat."

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Princess sheds new light on early Celts

German experts are carefully taking apart a complete Celtic grave in the hope of finding out more about the Celt's way of life, 2,600 years ago, in their Danube heartland.

It wasn't the most glorious final journey for an aristocratic Celtic lady who, in life, clearly had a bit of style.

She died just over 2,600 years ago and rested in peace until a few months ago when her grave was dug up in its entirety - all 80 tonnes of it - and transported on the back of a truck through countless German towns.

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Ancient Caithness site 'occupied for 1,000 years'

The site of one of Scotland's most important mainland broch settlements may have been home to early people for up to 1,000 years, evidence suggests.

Archaeologists and volunteers have uncovered what could be the remains of walls dating back to 700 to 500 BC at Nybster in Caithness.

Andy Heald, of AOC Archaeology, said further investigations would need to be made to confirm the structure's age.

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