Thursday, December 22, 2011

Human Skull Is Highly Integrated: Study Sheds New Light On Evolutionary Changes

Scientists studying a unique collection of human skulls have shown that changes to the skull shape thought to have occurred independently through separate evolutionary events may have actually precipitated each other.

Researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Barcelona examined 390 skulls from the Austrian town of Hallstatt and found evidence that the human skull is highly integrated, meaning variation in one part of the skull is linked to changes throughout the skull.

The Austrian skulls are part of a famous collection kept in the Hallstatt Catholic Church ossuary; local tradition dictates that the remains of the town's dead are buried but later exhumed to make space for future burials. The skulls are also decorated with paintings and, crucially, bear the name of the deceased. The Barcelona team made measurements of the skulls and collected genealogical data from the church's records of births, marriages and deaths, allowing them to investigate the inheritance of skull shape.

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Take a virtual look at Neolithic Stonehenge

ARCHAEOLOGISTS from Bournemouth University have created a virtual map of Neolithic Stonehenge.

Google Under-the-Earth: Seeing Beneath Stonehenge, is the first computer application of its kind to transport users around a virtual prehistoric landscape to explore Stonehenge.

It was developed using new field data gathered during investigations by teams from the universities of Sheffield, Manchester, Bristol, Southampton and London as part of the Stonehenge Riverside Project.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

History enthusiast reveals a hidden image in Broadstairs streets

A HISTORY enthusiast from Broadstairs says the image of a medieval boat is hidden within the town's roads – lending a cryptic clue to its naval history.

Simon Gerrard has spent two years delving into the town's past to create a series of history boards about the area.

He says his most recent discovery is that the roads forming one of the oldest parts of the town could have been deliberately made into the shape of a ship.

He said: "It may be slightly abstract but I am confident that the shape of the roads represents the early kind of naval ship they were building in Broadstairs during the Medieval and Tudor periods.

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From Pembrokeshire to Stonehenge

Anew paper in Archaeology in Wales, produced by Dr Rob Ixer of Leicester University and Dr Richard Bevins of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales confirms, for the first time, the exact origin of some the rhyolite debitage found at Stonehenge. This work could now lead to important conclusions about how stones were transported from Pembrokeshire to Stonehenge.

Over a period of nine months, Bevins and Ixer have been carefully collecting and identifying samples from rock outcrops in Pembrokeshire to try and locate the provenance of rocks that can be found at what is today, one of the world’s most iconic archaeological sites.

Their recent discovery confirms that the Stonehenge rhyolite debitage originates from a specific 70m long area namely Craig Rhos-y-felin near Pont Saeson. Using petrographical techniques, Ixer and Bevins found that 99% of these rhyolites could be matched to rocks found in this particular set of outcrops. Rhyolitic rocks at Rhos-y-felin are distinctly different from all others in South Wales, which gives almost all of Stonehenge rhyolites a provenance of just hundreds of square metres.

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Modern dogs are more Asian fusions than Euro pups, study finds

Results from the study, which examined the DNA of 642 , suggest that European and American canine breeds were much more influenced by dogs from Southeast Asia than by ancient Western dogs or by dogs from the Middle East, as was previously thought.

Findings from the study by collaborators in California, Iran, Taiwan and Israel appear online in the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) One.

“The two most hotly debated theories propose that dogs originated in Southeast Asia or the Middle East,” said study co-author Ben Sacks, director of the Canid Diversity and Conservation Group in the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. The laboratory is an international leader in animal genetics research and provides DNA testing and forensic analysis for numerous wildlife, companion animal and livestock species.

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Experimental pig husbandry: soil studies from West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village, Suffolk, UK

Pig husbandry is practised across the world and often identified in the archaeological record from bones, sometimes also supported by insect and parasite egg studies (e.g. on the Anglo-Scandinavian occupation deposits at Coppergate, York; Kenward & Hall 1995: 759, 778) as well as by coprostanol analysis. Where bones, insects or parasite eggs are not preserved, pig management is less easy to recognise. Nevertheless, soil features and faecal residues may provide micromorphological and chemical indicators of the former presence of pigs and their impact on archaeological stratigraphy.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tax bill paid with 2,000-year-old Iron Age fire guard

A 2,000-year-old Iron Age fire guard has been accepted into Wales' national museum in lieu of inheritance tax.

The Capel Garmon Firedog, once one of a pair on the hearth of a chieftain's roundhouse, is regarded as one of the finest surviving prehistoric iron artefacts in Europe.

Previously on loan to the National Museum it will now be part of Wales' collections of Early Celtic Art.

It was discovered in a peat bog in 1852.

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The Turin Shroud could not have been faked, say scientists

A new study suggests that one of Christianity's most prized but mysterious relics - the Turin Shroud - is not a medieval forgery and could be the burial robe of Christ.

Italian scientists conducted a series of experiments that they said showed that the marks on the shroud - purportedly left by the imprint of Christ's body - could not have been faked with technology that was available in medieval times.

Skeptics have long claimed that the 14ft-long cloth is a forgery. Radiocarbon testing conducted by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona in 1988 appeared to back up the theory, suggesting that it dated from between 1260 and 1390. But those tests were in turn disputed on the basis that they were contaminated by fibres from cloth that was used to repair the relic when it was damaged by fire in the Middle Ages.

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Neanderthals built homes with mammoth bones

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 44,000 year old Neanderthal building that was constructed using the bones from mammoths.
The circular building, which was up to 26 feet across at its widest point, is believed to be earliest example of domestic dwelling built from bone.
Neanderthals, which died out around 30,000 years ago, were initially thought to have been relatively primitive nomads that lived in natural caves for shelter.

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Was St Edmund killed by the Vikings in Essex?

The story of Edmund, king and martyr, has become a kind of foundation myth for the county of Suffolk, but contains at least one element of truth – in 869 there was a battle between the East Anglians and the Vikings; Edmund was captured and later killed.

However, the site of the battle (recorded as Hægelisdun) was forgotten, and different modern historians have suggested that it was at Hoxne in Suffolk, Hellesdon in Norfolk, or at Bradfield St Clare near Bury. The new proposal by Dr Briggs is unusual in that it is based on a detailed analysis of the linguistic structure of the various place-names involved. UWE Bristol has several experts among its staff in the study of both place-names and personal names from the viewpoint of historical linguistics. The use of place-names has long been recognized as an essential input into the broad study of settlement and migration, but the current work is an intriguing example of a precise conclusion about one historical event being drawn purely from place-name research.

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Mysterious Viking-era Graves Found With Treasure

Sword at his side, the so-called Young Warrior (left) is among the thousand-year-old discoveries in a newfound cemetery in Poland, a new study says.

The burial ground holds not only a hoard of precious objects but also hints of human sacrifice—and several dozen graves of a mysterious people with links to both the Vikings and the rulers of the founding states of eastern Europe.

(Related: "'Thor's Hammer' Found in Viking Grave.")

Researchers are especially intrigued by the Young Warrior, who died a violent death in his 20s. The man's jaw is fractured, his skull laced with cut marks. The sword provides further evidence of a martial life.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Scientists discover source of rock used in Stonehenge's first circle

Scientists have succeeded in locating the exact source of some of the rock believed to have been used 5000 years ago to create Stonehenge's first stone circle.

By comparing fragments of stone found at and around Stonehenge with rocks in south-west Wales, they have been able to identify the original rock outcrop that some of the Stonehenge material came from.

The work - carried out by geologists Robert Ixer of the University of Leicester and Richard Bevins of the National Museum of Wales - has pinpointed the source as a 70 metre long rock outcrop called Craig Rhos-y-Felin, near Pont Saeson in north Pembrokeshire. It's the first time that an exact source has been found for any of the stones thought to have been used to build Stonehenge.

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Forget the cave! Neanderthals were homely creatures who built their own houses from mammoth bones

Forget the idea Neanderthals simply picked any old cave to sleep in for the night.

Researchers have discovered an elaborate 44,000-year-old Neanderthal house in Molodova, eastern Ukraine, made from mammoth bones, delicately decorated with carvings and pigments.

It had been thought Neanderthals, which died out around 30,000 years ago, were primitive nomads who lived in caves simply for shelter.

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Hull museum's Roman mosaics gets specialist makeover

CLEANING floor tiles can be a pretty mundane household chore.

But when they happen to be part of a stunning collection of Roman mosaics, the job takes on a whole new meaning.

Museum staff in Hull have just finished a specialist makeover of their priceless exhibits in the Hull And East Riding Museum, in High Street.

Paula Gentil, the museum's curator of archaeology, said the careful clean-up was long overdue.

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'Bronze Age' artefacts found at Anglesey Abbey

"Potentially Bronze Age" artefacts found at Anglesey Abbey could prove the site was occupied up to 2,000 years earlier than had been thought.

The discoveries were made during work to build a new car park at the National Trust property near Cambridge.

Cambridge Archaeological Unit said the site, containing possible roundhouses, a granary, pottery and a shale bracelet fragment, could have been a farmstead.

It was previously thought the area was occupied from the early 12th Century.

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Silverdale Viking Hoard stars in Treasure and Portable Antiquities Scheme reports

The British Museum is delighted with the continuing success of the Treasure Act and the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and they have every right to be.

The reports, launched last week, detail 90,099 finds and 860 Treasure cases in 2010 alone; since the Scheme started there have been 750,000 "finds" across England and Wales, all listed on the website

The highlight of the press launch was a selection of finds from the Silverdale Viking Hoard, discovered in North Lancashire in September 2011 by local metal-detectorist Darren Webster.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

University of Oxford Online Archaeology Courses

Enrolment is now open for the following University of Oxford online courses in archaeology:
Archaeology of the Bible Lands (Online)
Exploring Roman Britain (Online)
Greek Mythology (Online)
Origins of Human Behaviour (Online)
Ritual and Religion in Prehistory (Online)
Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers (Online)

Silverdale silver Viking hoard declared treasure

A hoard of Viking silver found in Lancashire has been declared as treasure by a coroner.

The hoard of 201 coins and pieces of jewellery was found in September near to Silverdale by metal detector enthusiast Darren Webster, 39.

It was declared treasure by Lancashire deputy coroner Simon Jones at a hearing in Lancaster.
Lancashire Finds Liaison Officer Dot Boughton said the hoard was "very significant".

Lancaster City Museum has said it would attempt to keep the hoard in the area once it received an official valuation early in the new year.

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Roman circus site may open next summer

THE place where charioteers started and finished their races at Colchester’s Roman circus could be open to the public by next summer.

Colchester Archaeological Trust has been given planning permission for a project which will allow visitors to look at the foundations of the circus’s starting gates and watch re-enactments of scenes last seen almost two millennia ago.

The trust has permission to redevelop the Army Education Centre, near the starting gates, and hopes to move into the former Garrison building in February.

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Two medieval brooches discovered

RARE finds of two medieval brooches were revealed as treasure at a coroner’s hearing on Tuesday.

Sitting on a Treasure hearing at Selby Magistrates’ Court, Coroner Rob Turnbull said the two items, both livery brooches, were discovered at separate locations in Beal and Stillingfleet.

The first item, a silver guilt brooch depicting a stag’s head with three antlers (above left), is believed by experts to date from either the 14th or 15th Century.

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Grant to save Vale of Glamorgan church's paintings

A Vale of Glamorgan church is being given £500,000 to preserve 15th Century wall paintings uncovered during repairs.

St Cadoc's in Llancarfan boasts what is believed to be the best-preserved image of St George and the Dragon.
Deadly sins greed, avarice, lust, sloth and pride have been found, with anger and envy believed to be still hidden.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) said the church is hugely important in the story of Christianity in Wales.

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Treasure trove thieves ‘stealing our heritage’

THIEVES are “stealing our heritage” from beneath our feet at popular beauty spots.

They are targeting historical sites, including Berkhamsted and Northchurch Commons in Ashridge, according to council officials.

The plunderers are using an online archaeological database, created to aid historical research, to find treasure.

These ‘night hawkers’, who use metal detectors to dig up valuable artefacts after dark, have used research by Dr Jonathan Hunn and commissioned by the National Trust to help find ancient sites.

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Wiedereröffnung des Museums für Antike Schiffahrt in Mainz

Seit Dienstag, den 13.12.2011 ist das Museum für Antike Schiffahrt des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums (RGZM) in Mainz wieder geöffnet. Im Rahmen einer Feier mit 600 geladenen Gästen konnte das Haus am Montagabend nach umfassender energetischer Sanierung sowie mit vielen Neuerungen in der Dauerausstellung der Öffentlichkeit übergeben werden.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

SquinchPix Image Gallery

SquinchPix has more than 17,000 images of art, architecture and archaeology from most countries in Europe.  It is an ideal resource for researchers, tutors, students and interested members of the general public.

Highly recommended!

Go to SquinchPix here...

Researchers puzzled as grave did not hold remains of medieval Swedish king

Earlier this year, researchers in Sweden excavated what they believe was the tomb of King Magnus Ladulås (1240-1290) at Riddarholmen Church in Stockholm, hoping to learn more about the medieval Swedish ruler and his family. But DNA tests have revealed that the bodies of nine people buried in the tomb actually died sometime between 1430 and 1520.

Records show that the King Magnus wished to have his remains buried in the church, and in 1573 the Swedish King, Johan III erected a sarcophagus with an effigy on top of what he believed was the location of the tomb.

The researchers said on their blog: “It is a fantastic story that is rolled up in front of our eyes. Johan II had the impressive tomb put up above the wrong grave and this historical hoax has been unchallenged for 400 years! On good grounds we believe instead that Magnus Ladulås was placed in the southern tomb in front of the choir, i.e. the tomb in which King Karl Knutsson placed himself in the 15th century. With the knowledge we have today it is obvious that we have only done half the job. In order to make further progress in this project we need to open also the southern part of the choir-tombs (the tomb of Karl Knutsson) and investigate all individuals there.”

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Viking Hoard discovered in England

In what is being described as a “very exciting find” over 200 items dating back to around the year 900 have been discovered near Silverdale, in north Lancashire. Now known as the Silverdale Viking Hoard, the collection cotnains a total of 201 silver objects and a well preserved lead container. Of particular interest is the fact that the hoard contains a previously unrecorded coin type, probably carrying the name of an otherwise unknown Viking ruler in northern England.
The Silverdale Viking Hoard was discovered in mid-September 2011 by Darren Webster, a local metal-detectorist, who reported it to the local Finds Liaison Officer that evening. The hoard comprises 27 coins, 10 complete arm-rings of various Viking-period types, 2 finger-rings and 14 ingots (metal bars), as well as 6 bossed brooch fragments, a fine wire braid and 141 fragments of chopped-up arm-rings and ingots, collectively known as ‘hacksilver’. The lead container is made of a folded-up sheet, in which the coins and small metalwork had been placed for safekeeping, while buried underground. The container is responsible for the excellent condition in which the objects have survived for more than ten centuries. The coins are a mixture of Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Viking, Frankish and Islamic types, including coins of Alfred the Great (871-99) and his god-son the Viking leader Guthrum, who became king of East Anglia with the baptismal name of Athelstan.
Researchers are interested in the single coin that shows a previously unknown Viking ruler. One side of the coin has the words DNS (Dominus) REX, arranged in the form of a cross, reflecting the fact that many Vikings had converted to Christianity within a generation of settling in Britain. The other side has the enigmatic inscription. AIRDECONUT, which appears to be an attempt to represent the Scandinavian name Harthacnut. The design of the coin relates to known coins of the kings Siefredus and Cnut, who ruled the Viking kingdom of Northumbria around AD 900, but Harthacnut is otherwise unrecorded.

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Roman Cockerel found in Gloucestershire archaeological dig

THIS intricately decorated Roman cockerel has been discovered at a landmark burial site in Cirencester.

Archaeologists have uncovered the striking bird figurine, which could be an offering to the gods, from a young child's grave during excavations for St James's Place Wealth Management at the former Bridges Garage site.

Cotswold Archaeology chief executive Neil Holbrook said: "The cockerel is the most spectacular find from more than 60 Roman burials excavated at this site." It is the latest treasure to be found at the important plot, which has already yielded more than 60 skeletons and is believed to be one of the earliest burial sites ever found in Roman Britain.

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Remains of Jane Austen's Steventon home unearthed

Archaeologists in Hampshire have uncovered signs of the house where Jane Austen spent more than half of her life.

The Austen family lived in the rectory in Steventon, near Basingstoke, from 1775 to 1801, where the writer began three of her novels.

The house was demolished early in the 19th Century soon after Austen and her family moved to Bath.
Volunteers involved in the dig hope to gain an insight into life in the house.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Historical probe after Stirling Castle landslide

A section of wall below Stirling Castle that collapsed last week is now the subject of an archaeological investigation.

The wall was on a steep bank above the Butt Well and had been built to retain garden terraces created in the 1490s.

Archaeologists are using the collapse as an opportunity to investigate fragments of one of Scotland's oldest gardens, made for James IV.

Members of Stirling Local History Society (SLHS) are leading the work.

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'New' ancient monuments come to light at Knowth

New and exciting archaeological finds have been made at the Knowth tumulus over the last few months, according to archaeologists working on the site.

The passage tomb cemetery at Brú na Binne has produced some extraordinary discoveries over the decades ever since Professor George Eogan made his first tentative exploration in and around the site.

A number of previously unknown large-scale monuments in the field lying immediately to the south-east of the large mound have recently come to light.

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London built with the blood of British slaves

The Romans founded London as a centre of trade and business in about AD 50 - or so archaeologists have long believed.

But new evidence suggests the capital has a more chilling history, built as a military base by slaves who were then slaughtered. Hundreds of skulls discovered along the course of the "lost" river Walbrook suggest London may have been built by forced labour.

Dominic Perring, director of the Centre for Applied Archaeology at University College London, says the skulls could be those of Queen Boudica's rebel Iceni tribesmen who were brought to London to build a new military base.

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Evidence for unknown Viking king Airdeconut found in Lancashire

201-piece silver hoard from AD900 discovered by a metal detectorist in Silverdale, Lancashire

Evidence of a previously unknown Viking king has been discovered in a hoard of silver found by a metal detectorist, stashed in a lead box in a field in Lancashire.

The 201 pieces of silver including beautiful arm rings, worn by Viking warriors, were found on the outskirts of Silverdale, a village near the coast in north Lancashire, by Darren Webster, using the metal detector his wife gave him as a Christmas present. It adds up to more than 1kg of silver, probably stashed for safe keeping around AD900 at a time of wars and power struggles among the Vikings of northern England, and never recovered.

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We do have bigger brains than Neanderthals did

Modern humans possess brain structures larger than their Neanderthal counterparts, suggesting we are distinguished from them by different mental capacities, scientists find. 

We are currently the only extant human lineage, but Neanderthals, our closest-known evolutionary relatives, still walked the Earth as recently as maybe 24,000 years ago. Neanderthals were close enough to the modern human lineage to interbreed, calling into question how different they really were from us and whether they comprise a different species.

To find out more, researchers used CT scanners to map the interiors of five Neanderthal skulls as well as four fossil and 75 contemporary human skulls to determine the  shapes of their brains in 3-D. Like modern humans, Neanderthals had larger brains than both our living ape relatives and other extinct human lineages.

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Public urged to vote for Peak archaeology dig site

ARCHAEOLOGICAL excavations in the Peak District are in the running for a national award and support from the public can make all the difference.

The Fin Cop project is one of five shortlisted for the prestigious Archaeological Research Project of the Year Award by readers and editors of Current Archaeology magazine.

The excavations at Fin Cop, an Iron Age hill fort overlooking Monsal Dale, near Bakewell, rose to national significance when unexpected evidence of a prehistoric massacre was revealed.

Skeletal remains of several young women and children were found thrown into a ditch with the ramparts pushed over them more than 2,000 years ago.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Silverdale Viking hoard examined by British Museum

A hoard of Viking coins and jewellery found buried in north Lancashire is being examined by experts at the British Museum.

The collection of more than 200 coins and pieces of jewellery was found in September close to Silverdale by Darren Webster, 39.

The hoard, which was in a lead box, includes a coin thought to refer to a previously unknown Viking ruler.

A coroner will decide this week if the hoard qualifies as treasure trove.

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Incredible Viking hoard from days of Alfred the Great could 'fill in the blanks' about a murky period in British history

A man who found a hoard of Viking silver that had lain undetected for hundreds of years has described his discovery as ‘lucky’.

Darren Webster got his metal detector out in a field near his home when he had an hour to spare one day, and 20 minutes later was digging up a hoard of hidden silver coins and jewellery.

The 39-year-old stone mason from Lancashire made the discovery in September on land around Silverdale in north Lancashire. The artifacts date back to the ninth century and the rule of Alfred the Great.

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Viking hoard provides new clues to 'previously unknown ruler'

One of the most important hoards of Viking silver ever found in Britain contains valuable coins bearing the identity of a previously unknown ruler, it emerged yesterday.

The “hugely significant” hoard of 1,000-year-old artefacts includes more than 200 coins, ingots and pieces of silver jewellery that was found buried underground in north Lancashire.
Experts at the British Museum are currently examining the hoard after it was discovered in a lead pot by a metal detector enthusiast. A coroner will decide later this week whether it qualifies as treasure.
The hoard was placed in a lead box and buried underground at a time when the Anglo-Saxons were attempting to wrest control of the north of the country from the Vikings.

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Evidence for unknown Viking king Airdeconut found in Lancashire

201-piece silver hoard from AD900 discovered by a metal detectorist in Silverdale, Lancashire

Evidence of a previously unknown Viking king has been discovered in a hoard of silver found by a metal detectorist, stashed in a lead box in a field in Lancashire.

The 201 pieces of silver including beautiful arm rings, worn by Viking warriors, were found on the outskirts of Silverdale, a village near the coast in north Lancashire, by Darren Webster, using the metal detector his wife gave him as a Christmas present. It adds up to more than 1kg of silver, probably stashed for safe keeping around AD900 at a time of wars and power struggles among the Vikings of northern England, and never recovered.

Airdeconut – thought to be the Anglo Saxon coin maker's struggle to get to grips with the Viking name Harthacnut – was found on one of the coins in the hoard.

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Preliminary work to unearth ancient city of Isos begins

A team of archeologists has begun working on examining the site of the ancient city of Isos in southern Turkey by making use of ground-based sensors to visualize the underground features of the city's structures, the district governor has said.
İskender Yönden, the district governor of Erzin, Hatay province, announced on Monday that a team of four archeologists got to work at the reported site of the ancient city of Isos, which has been underground for some 500 years in the southern province of Hatay, as part of the work of unearthing the ancient city.

Yönden said the excavations will continue after the archeologists find out more about the site of the city by looking at the processed imagery from the sensors

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Monday, December 12, 2011

4,000-year-old Stone Age camp discovered by dog walker near Cannock

HISTORIANS believe they have unearthed evidence of a 4,000-year-old Stone Age camp in the Midlands – thanks to a dog walker.

Roger Hall discovered a handful of strange-shaped rocks while walking his pet pooch in picturesque Cannock Wood, Staffordshire,

But experts have identified them as flint ‘flakes’ – the off-cuts from tools crafted by Stone Age Man an astonishing 4,000 years ago.

If confirmed, they could mark the spot of the only neolithic camp known in our region, says Roger Knowles, a member of the Council for British Archaeology.

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Protection of Wrecks Act (1973) contract won for 2013

Wessex Archaeology (WA) has been re-appointed as the Government’s contractor for Archaeological Services in relation to the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 (PWA). The contract, managed by English Heritage for DCMS, runs from the 1st April 2012 to the 31st March 2013.

The principal aim of the contract is to supply advice to English Heritage, Historic Scotland, Cadw, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to enable them to advise their respective Secretary of State, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Ireland Ministers, as appropriate, about issues of designation and licensing under the PWA 1973.

Since Spring 2003 WA has delivered the contract. This involves fieldwork to monitor, record and investigate designated wrecks, and assess sites that may require designation.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Archaeologists Return to Investigate Viking Period Site in Gotland

he world’s largest silver hoard was discovered in an agricultural field on an island in Scandinavia. The hoard weighed about 67 kilos, consisting of two caches about 3 meters apart. Dated to the 9th century AD, the hoard boasted a pure silver cache of more than 14,200 coins and nearly 500 silver arm rings and other objects, placed in wooden boxes beneath the floor of a Viking Age house structure. Related to this discovery was another find of bronze objects, weighing as much as 20 kilos, also placed in a wooden box.

The island, known as Gotland, is a part of Sweden and situated in the middle of the Baltic Sea. It sports a rich heritage when it comes to the Early Middle Ages and the time of the Vikings. In terms of trade, it occupied a uniquely strategic trading position for the flow of goods east and west between Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, enriching its inhabitants with luxury goods that otherwise would have eluded their reach. To the Vikings, it was a place of settlement. No place in Scandinavia can compare to the massive amount of Viking artifacts that have been discovered here over the last 200 years. And no region has yielded as many silver hoards as Gotland. In fact, more then 700 hundred hoards, with more than 150,000 silver coins from countries as far away as the Arabic world, have testified to the significance of this island during the Viking Age.

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Archaeology: Part of ancient fortress wall of Philippolis found in Bulgaria’s Plovdiv

Part of the ancient fortress wall of Philippopolis was discovered during excavations by EVN Heating in the centre of Plovdiv, Bulgarian National Television said on December 9 2011.

The find, however, will not be exhibited because the roadway has to be covered over again, the report said.

Workers who were installing a heating pipeline made the find and stopped work immediately so that archaeologists could carry out an examination of the section of the fortress wall, which is about 50m long and close to two metres wide.

The find gives a new insight to the topography of ancient Phiippopolis.

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Tools of a kind

Culturally speaking, ancient East Africans were a stone’s throw away from southern Arabia.

Stone tools collected at several sites along a plateau in Oman, which date to roughly 106,000 years ago, match elongated cutting implements previously found at East African sites from around the same time, say archaeologist Jeffrey Rose of the University of Birmingham, England, and his colleagues. New finds also include cores — or rocks from which tools were pounded off with a hammer stone — that correspond to East African specimens, the researchers report online November 30 in PLoS ONE.

East African sites that have yielded these distinctive stone artifacts extend southward along the Nile River to the Horn of Africa.

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Bronze Age boats discovered at a quarry in Whittlesey

Bronze Age boats, spears and clothing dating back 3,000 years and described as the "finds of a lifetime" have been discovered near Peterborough.

Archaeologists from the University of Cambridge have unearthed hundreds of items at a quarry in Whittlesey.

The objects, discovered at one of the most significant Bronze Age sites in Britain, have been perfectly preserved in peat and silt.

It is thought the settlement burned down in about 800 BC.

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The earth mother of all neolithic discoveries

French archaeologists have discovered an extremely rare example of a neolithic "earth mother" figurine on the banks of the river Somme.

The 6,000-year-old statuette is 8in high, with imposing buttocks and hips but stubby arms and a cone-like head. Similar figures have been found before in Europe but rarely so far north and seldom in such a complete and well-preserved condition.

The "lady of Villers-Carbonnel", as she has been named, can make two claims to be an "earth mother". She was fired from local earth or clay and closely resembles figurines with similar, stylised female bodies found around the Mediterranean.

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Friday, December 09, 2011

Bronze coins found in Somerset reveal Roman age of austerity

Archaeologists are celebrating the donation of a hoard of Roman coins – described as “ a hugely significant find” – to the new Museum of Somerset.

The 2,118 bronze coins, found by archaeologists excavating a site at Maundown, near Wiveliscombe, before Wessex Water built a new water treatment plant, may be evidence of financial crisis in Romano-British Somerset.

They were found in 2006 and have been donated to Somerset County Council by Wessex Water after a Treasure Inquest at Taunton last week heard that the British Museum disclaimed interest on behalf of the Crown.

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Rock Shelter Inhabitants Slept in Comfort 77,000 Years Ago

The Sibudu rock shelter sits above the uThongathi river in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. Here, archaeologists have over the past decade uncovered finds that have shed fascinating light on the behavior and life-ways of early modern humans. Finds have included perforated shells interpreted to have been used like bead ornaments, sharpened bone points likely used for hunting, evidence of bow and arrow technology, and even snares and traps for hunting and glue production for the hafting of stone implements. Now, an international team of scientists have discovered within the shelter what they believe to be mats that were used as bedding and as a living surface.

Led by Professor Lyn Wadley of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in collaboration with Christopher Miller of the University of Tübingen, Germany, Christine Sievers and Marion Bamford of the University of the Witwatersrand, and Paul Goldberg and Francesco Berna of Boston University, USA, the team has revealed at least 15 layers containing what they suggest to be deliberately laid plant bedding dated from 77,000 to 38,000 years ago. Consisting of layers of compacted leaves and stems from rushes and sedges spread out up to three square meters, at least some of the bedding contained evidence of plants that are also known to have medicinal and insecticidal properties.

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Solving the Mystery of a 35,000-Year-Old Statue

Archeologists have discovered previously unknown fragments of a figurine known as the "Lion Man," and are piecing it back together. Could the 35,000-year-old statue actually represent a female shaman? Scientists hope to resolve a decades-long debate.

Using a hand hoe and working in dim light, geologist Otto Völzing burrowed into the earth deep inside the Stadel cave in the Schwäbische Alb mountains of southwestern Germany. His finds were interesting to be sure, but nothing world-shaking: flints and the remnants of food eaten by prehistoric human beings.

Suddenly he struck a hard object -- and splintered a small statuette.
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Earliest Human Beds Found in South Africa

"Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise," wrote Benjamin Franklin in his Poor Richard's Almanack. That may have held true a couple of hundred years ago, but when it comes to our ancient human ancestors, researchers don't know much about how—or even where—they slept. Now a team working in South Africa claims to have found the earliest known sleeping mats, made of plant material and dated up to 77,000 years ago—50,000 years earlier than previous evidence for human bedding. These early mattresses apparently were even specially prepared to be resistant to mosquitoes and other insects.

Early members of our species, Homo sapiens, were nomads who made their living by hunting and gathering. Yet they often created temporary base camps where they cooked food and spent the night. One of the best studied of these camps is Sibudu Cave, a rock shelter in a cliff face above South Africa's Tongati River, about 40 kilometers north of Durban. Sibudu was first occupied by modern humans at least 77,000 years ago and continued to serve as a favored gathering place over the following 40,000 years. Since 1998, a team led by Lyn Wadley, an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, has been excavating at Sibudu, uncovering evidence for complex behaviors, including the earliest known use of bows and arrows.

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World's 'oldest beds' found - and the cavemen who slept on them 77,000 years ago even used mosquito repellent

Humans were making themselves comfy on plant mattresses as long as 77,000 years ago, a study has found - and our ancestors were surprisingly clever at getting a good night's sleep.

Scientists discovered early evidence of bedding made from compacted stems and leaves at a rock shelter in South Africa.

At least three different layers at the Sibudu site contained bed remains, left by people who slept there between 38,000 and 77,000 years ago - and as well as providing a place to sleep, the leaves contained insecticide chemicals that would have kept mosquitoes at bay.

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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Viking Quiz

What do you know about the Vikings?

Try this online quiz. It loads 10 randomly selected questions from a large database, so each time that you return to the site you get a different set of questions.
You can find the Viking Quiz here…Viking Quiz

How Scandinavian is Scotland?

The Scottish government is exploring closer links with Nordic nations in the event of independence, reports have suggested. But just how similar is Scotland to its northern neighbours?

They don't make bridies in Bergen or Tunnock's Tea Cakes in Torsby.

Nor is Hakkebøf half as popular in Hamilton or Helensburgh as it is in Hvidovre.

But the North Sea which separates Scotland from Scandinavia could become slightly less of a divide if political leaders in Edinburgh have their way.

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Scientists Discover Some Keys to Human Brain Evolution

The questions surrounding why and how the human brain has evolved over the past six million years as compared to other primates in the evolutionary timeline have been central in the discussions of human origins research for many years. When and how did this happen? Some possible clues may have emerged as a result of new research by an international team of scientists in China and Germany, suggesting that changes in the activity levels of certain genes of the human brain during brain development may have been the cause, and that these changes were controlled by key regulatory molecules called microRNAs.

As reported in the open-access journal PLoS Biology, the researchers analyzed brain genetic activity in humans, chimpanzees and macaques across their lifetimes, beginning with newborns. They targeted two key brain regions: the cerebellum, which controls movement, and the prefrontal cortex, which plays a major role in cognitive behavior, such as abstract thought, innovation and social interaction. What they found was that the human gene activity displayed a markedly different pattern during individual life-time human brain development from that of chimpanzee and macaque primate counterparts. Moreover, the distinquishing patterns were most pronounced in the prefrontal cortex, where, for example, genes showing the human-specific changes were four times as numerous as those showing the chimpanzee-specific changes. Many of the genes showing the human-specific patterns were identified as having neural functions, suggesting a connection to cognitive development.

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Skeletons under patio

A COUPLE were shocked to discover a number of bodies under their patio during construction work at their home in Ratley last week.

Builders were digging up the patio of keen historians Stephen and Nicky West when the discovery of at least four bodies was made and the couple promptly called archaeology experts from Warwickshire County Council.
The archaeologists identified the remains as the bodies of two adult females, a young male and a child aged between ten and 12.

It was determined that the find was of considerable historic importance and that any foul play had taken place a very long time ago.

An archaeological survey was carried out and radiocarbon dating showed the remains date back to about 650-820AD, known as the middle Saxon period.

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Proposal for Archaeological Research Centre for Uist to be looked at

The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, managed by the Museums Association, has awarded one of six grants, from a total of 118 applications, to the Comhairle.

Museum nan Eilean and the Archaeology Service received £85,000 to develop research into the Udal archaeological collections and investigate potential for an Archaeological Resource Centre on North Uist.

The grant will enable the Archaeology Service to work with the North Uist Development Company to develop and secure the necessary funding for an innovative research project which will ensure that the Udal Collections are finally thoroughly researched and a final report produced. It will also enable a feasibility study into an Archaeological Resource Centre on the island of North Uist and the social, academic and economic impacts it would yield not only locally but nationally.

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Violent knights feared posttraumatic stress

Medieval knights are often depicted as bloodthirsty men who enjoyed killing. But that is a completely wrong picture, new research shows.

The knights did not kill just because they wanted to, but because it was their job – precisely like soldiers today. Nor were the Middle Ages as violent as we think, despite their different perception of violence compared to ours.

“Modern military psychology enables us to read medieval texts in a new way – giving us insight into the perception of violence in the Middle Ages in the general population and the use of lethal violence by knights,” says Thomas Heebøll-Holm of the SAXO Institute at the University of Copenhagen, who researches the perception of violence in the late Middle Ages.

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Framework Archaeology Heathrow Terminal 5 Excavation Archive

Framework Archaeology is a Joint Venture agreement between Oxford Archaeology (OA) and Wessex Archaeology (WA) to provide archaeological services to BAA. Given the potential scale of some of BAA's projects, the joint venture enables Framework Archaeology to draw on the full resources of both OA and WA, including site staff, specialist managers, administrative support, and technical facilities. This combination of resources (totalling over 300 staff) considerably reduces risk for both our client and us, and provides Framework Archaeology with a wider skills base.

Framework Archaeology is committed to a particular archaeological philosophy developed by BAA's archaeological consultants, Gill Andrews and John Barrett. This is concerned with understanding how people inhabited past landscapes: archaeology as a study of people rather than deposits or objects. This approach is at the heart of the Archaeological Policy adopted by the BAA Main Board. Framework projects are thus academically driven but undertaken within a commercial environment. In order to fulfil the approach a Framework Archaeology recording system has been developed and is now in operation on all Framework Projects. It places great emphasis on interpretation in addition to recording, and developing a historical narrative as the site is excavated (Andrews, Barrett & Lewis 2000).

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Historic Cwmbran finds declared treasure

TREASURE dating from the late Bronze Age was found in a Cwmbran field, an inquest in Newport was told yesterday.

The plain pegged spearhead fragment and the single runner casting jet were found by David Harrison while metal detecting in Llantarnam in March last year.

A casting jet is a plug of metal which fits into a mould and is knocked out when the object is completed.

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Ireland’s earliest surviving example of a timber framed house

Dendrochronological analysis is expected to conclude that the timber structure at Chapel Lane, Parnell Street, Ennis, dates back to the late 16th century.

Ms. Irene Clune’s house, known as McParland’s is long understood to have been the oldest inhabited house in the Clare County capital. The building’s triple diamond stone Jacobean chimney has been an icon of medieval Ennis for centuries.

The house was first inspected in 2008 by Clare County Council’s Conservation Officer, who recommended that the property undergo structural repair work. Following detailed technical analyses by the National Monuments Service, officials from Ennis Town Council and Consulting Conservation Engineers, it was concluded that the structure was unstable and represented a danger to the general public.

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Weir complex and medieval quay the latest archaeological finds in Galway bay

AN EXTENSIVE tidal weir complex close to Barna and a late medieval quay on Mutton Island have become the latest in a series of recent archaeological finds in Galway Bay.

The finds are “transforming our knowledge” of a “neglected aspect” of Connacht’s maritime history, according to Connemara archaeologist Michael Gibbons.

The tidal weir complex in Rusheen Bay, to the west of the city, is visible at low tide and appears as a series of stone rapids across a fast-flowing tidal race mouth, Gibbons says.

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'Witch's cottage' unearthed near Pendle Hill, Lancashire

Engineers have said they were "stunned" to unearth a 17th Century cottage, complete with a mummified cat, during a construction project in Lancashire.

The cottage was discovered near Lower Black Moss reservoir in the village of Barley, in the shadow of Pendle Hill.

Archaeologists brought in by United Utilities to survey the area found the building under a grass mound.

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Pendle witches pogrom haunts water workers after find of mummified cat

Jacobean era's infamous witchcraft trials recalled after reservoir repairs at Pendle Hill dig out cottage with bricked-up feline

Forlorn traces of England's most notorious pogrom against witches appear to have been unearthed by water engineers engaged in humdrum improvements to a Pennine reservoir.

A buried cottage with a sealed room and a mummified cat bricked up in a wall has been discovered in the heart of the "witching country" of Pendle in Lancashire.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Archaeologists unearth 7th-century house in Yorkshire Dales

Humanity's long attachment to Yorkshire has notched up another piece of early evidence with the discovery of the first 7th-century house to be recorded in the Dales national park.

Volunteer archaeologists dug down into an outcrop of stones on the flanks of Ingleborough fell, one of the Three Peaks famous for walks and marathon runs, where settlements were thought to exist but none had been excavated owing to shortages of time, expertise and funds.

The team revealed two chamber rooms with charcoal remains and pieces of chert, a hard flint knapped in ancient times to make tools.

Carbon-dating of the charcoal has placed the use of the building at between AD660 and AD780, when Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were consolidating in northern England.

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New study of Western Isles' sand dune-buried artefacts

New research is being carried out on artefacts recovered from a site where evidence was found for every age from the Neolithic to the 20th Century.

Archaeology at Udal provides an "unbroken timeline" of occupation from the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Viking, Medieval through to the 1900s.

Some of the evidence at the site on North Uist was preserved by wind-blown sand dunes.

Archaeologist Ian Crawford excavated Udal between 1963 and 1995.

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Russian scientists to clone woolly mammoth

Scientists from Russia and Japan are undertaking a Jurassic Park-style experiment to bring the woolly mammoth out of extinction.

The scientists claim that a thigh bone found in August contains remarkably well-preserved marrow cells, which could form the starting point of the experiment.

The team claim that the cloning could be complete within the next five years.

But others have cast doubt on whether such a thing is possible.

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Saturday, December 03, 2011

Chatham dig finds Tudor dockyard remains

Archaeologists have uncovered evidence which they say confirms the site of Henry VIII's dockyard in Kent.

Evidence of Chatham's Tudor shipyard, along with medieval remains, were found during a four-day dig at the Command House pub on the banks of River Medway.

The dig, the first on the site, was filmed for a History Channel programme presented by comedian Rory McGrath.

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Neandertals’ mammoth building project

Extinct hominids may have been first to build with bones
Neandertals are stumping for bragging rights as the first builders of mammoth-bone structures, an accomplishment usually attributed to Stone Age people.

Humanity’s extinct cousins constructed a large, ring-shaped enclosure out of 116 mammoth bones and tusks at least 44,000 years ago in West Asia, say archaeologist Laëtitia Demay of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris and her colleagues. The bone edifice, which encircles a 40-square-meter area in which mammoths and other animals were butchered, cooked and eaten, served either to keep out cold winds or as a base for a wooden building, the scientists propose in a paper published online November 26 in Quaternary International.
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'New' ancient monuments come to light at Knowth

Excavations unearth new features from Neolithic period

One of the wall stones with a finely carved spiral uncovered by archaeologists at Knowth. Photo: Kevin O'Brien, OPW
New and exciting archaeological finds have been made at the Knowth tumulus over the last few months, according to archaeologists working on the site.

The passage tomb cemetery at Brú na Binne has produced some extraordinary discoveries over the decades ever since Professor George Eogan made his first tentative exploration in and around the site.

A number of previously unknown large-scale monuments in the field lying immediately to the south-east of the large mound have recently come to light.

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An intimate look at ancient Rome

When you visit sites of ancient Roman civilization, it's hard to know where to look first: Temples, markets, brothels and baths all draw the eye and the imagination. But if you really want to know what it was like to live in ancient Rome, you may want to consider the humble toilet.

On a recent trip to Italy, I went in search of ancient toilets at archaeological sites people usually visit for their temples, markets, brothels and baths. Apart from the fun factor -- and that factor is high when it comes to learning about the sponge-tipped sticks some Romans used as toilet paper -- toilets give a sense of ancient Roman daily life. From the lavish, marble-seated group toilet of Ostia Antica to the humble below-the-stairs john at Herculaneum, the places where Romans conducted their daily, er, business are worth a closer look.

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Friday, December 02, 2011

Town and Country in Roman Essex: Settlement Hierarchies in Roman Essex

The Town and Country in Roman Essex project is a large scale regional study based on correspondence analysis of finds assemblages, including coins, pottery, registered finds, animal bone and vessel glass. By comparing quantified finds datasets from different individual sites and whole classes of site, such as urban centres, small towns, villas, nucleated settlements and lower-status rural sites, the project looks at how consumption is influenced by factors such as the influence of command and or/market economies, cultural identity and site status/function. The project also attempted to assess the viability of conducting such research and report on any relevant issues, relating to the recording, archiving and publication of finds assemblages.

Data was primarily gathered from existing published or archive sources and was collected from sites in Essex, south-east Cambridgeshire and London dating to the period c 50BC-AD250. The database includes linked tables on small finds, glass, pottery and coins, as well as for the following aspects of the animal bone assemblages: NSIP, MNI, tooth-wear, MNE and metrics for bone elements.

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Trail of 'stone breadcrumbs' reveals the identity of 1 of the first human groups to leave Africa

A series of new archaeological discoveries in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the southeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, reveals the timing and identity of one of the first modern human groups to migrate out of Africa, according to a research article published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.

An international team of archaeologists and geologists working in the Dhofar Mountains of southern Oman, led by Dr. Jeffrey Rose of the University of Birmingham, report finding over 100 new sites classified as "Nubian Middle Stone Age (MSA)." Distinctive Nubian MSA stone tools are well known throughout the Nile Valley; however, this is the first time such sites have ever been found outside of Africa.

According to the authors, the evidence from Oman provides a "trail of stone breadcrumbs" left by early humans migrating across the Red Sea on their journey out of Africa. "After a decade of searching in southern Arabia for some clue that might help us understand early human expansion, at long last we've found the smoking gun of their exit from Africa," says Rose. "What makes this so exciting," he adds, "is that the answer is a scenario almost never considered."

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Roman murder most foul

Three incomplete skeletons have been uncovered in Modena, Italy, and point to a 2000 year old Roman mystery which is being investigated by archaeologists and researchers from the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of the Emilia-Romagna.

The discovery was made at the site of a new development to the east of Modena along the Via Emilia, between San Lazzaro and Fossalta. At a depth of only 60cm the archaeologists from ArcheoModena found the remains of a cremation necropolis and a 1st century Roman irrigation ditch/canal. The necropolis, which ran along the ancient Via Emilia, produced a few cremation burials and the remains of a shrine that had been robbed out in antiquity.

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UNESCO unveils deal to help restore damaged Pompeii

The United Nations cultural agency and Italy announced today that they have agreed to work together to restore Pompeii, which was badly damaged by torrential rains late last year.

In a statement issued in Paris, UNESCO said it would collaborate with Italian authorities over the next nine months on the restoration.

Several key buildings, including the Schola Armaturarum (Gladiators’ House) and the House of the Moralist, collapsed in November 2010, sparking international concern about the state of the site. (read report here)

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Archeological Discovery Indicates Human Sacrifice

Archeological research of pagan graves in the valley Þegjandadalur in Suður-Þingeyjasýsla county in northeast Iceland support the theory that ritual human sacrifice was practiced during paganism in Iceland.

An L-shaped turf wall was discovered in Þegjandadalur, which is believed to have been constructed before Icelanders converted to Christianity in 1000 AD, Morgunblaðið reports.
In a large hole in the wall fractions of a human skull were found, a jawbone of a cat and various other animal bones, including a sheep jawbone and a several cattle bones. 
In a small grave up against the turf wall bones of a newborn baby in their original resting place were discovered.

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New Icelandic volcano eruption could have global impact

Hundreds of metres under one of Iceland's largest glaciers there are signs of an imminent volcanic eruption that could be one of the most powerful the country has seen in almost a century.

Mighty Katla, with its 10km (6.2 mile) crater, has the potential to cause catastrophic flooding as it melts the frozen surface of its caldera and sends billions of gallons of water surging through Iceland's east coast and into the Atlantic Ocean.

"There has been a great deal of seismic activity," says Ford Cochran, the National Geographic's expert on Iceland.

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Discovering Munich’s past in a mediaeval loo

Construction on an underground train line in the centre of Munich has uncovered mediaeval latrines full of artefacts offering insights into the Bavarian capital’s past. Christine Madden reports.

These days, throwing unwanted objects into your toilet can clog it, but 11th-century Bavarians apparently weren’t bothered by such concerns.

An archaeological dig behind Munich’s Marienplatz square has unearthed a medieval latrine full of items dating back a thousand years. The discovery “astonished” Dr Barbara Wührer, who was hired by railway operator Deutsche Bahn to excavate the area covering the size of a football pitch in the oldest part of the Bavarian capital.

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Italy: Colosseum work pits restorers against building firms

Rome, 1 Dec. (AKI) - The artisans that restore Italy's vast art and archeological sites say they are excluded from the project to give the Roman Colosseum a 25 million-euro face-lift and called on the government to stop all work or risk causing "irreparable damage'' to the 2,000 year old amphitheatre.

According to the Rome-based Restorers Association of Italy trade group, a government official charged with overseeing work on Rome's archeological sites two years ago changed contract bidding rules largely squeezing out art and archeology restoration firms in favour of large building contracting companies with far less knowledge on repairing the country's fragile historical heritage. .

In an open letter to Italy's new culture minister Lorenzo Oraghi published Thursday, the restorers group called on him to stop the bidding or "to avoid irreparable damage to the Italy's most celebrated monument with consequences of causing damage to Italy's image."
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