Saturday, June 30, 2012

CSIC recovers part of the genome of 2 hunter-gatherer individuals from 7,000 years ago

A team of scientists, led by researcher Carles Lalueza-Fox from CSIC (Spanish National Research Council), has recovered - for the first time in history - part of the genome of two individuals living in the Mesolithic Period, 7000 years ago. Remains have been found at La Braña-Arintero site, located at Valdelugueros (León), Spain. The study results, published in the Current Biology magazine, indicate that current Iberian populations don't come from these groups genetically. 

The Mesolithic Period, framed between the Paleolithic and Neolithic Periods, is characterized by the advent of agriculture, coming from the Middle East. Therefore, the genome found is the oldest from Prehistory, and exceeds Ötzi, the Iceman, in 1700 years.

Researchers have also recovered the complete mitochondrial DNA of one of these individuals, through which they could determine that European populations from Mesolithic Period were very uniform genetically. Carles Lauleza-Fox, from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF), states: "These hunters-gatherers shared nomadic habits and had a common origin. Despite their geographical distance, individuals from the regions corresponding to the current England, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, and Spain, shared the same mitochondrial lineage".

New technologies help us better understand Ancient Rome

Historians and archaeologists have studied the ruins of the Roman Forum for centuries, employing the tools on hand to add to the knowledge of this center of Roman public life that hosted elections, triumphal processions, speeches, trials, shops and gladiatorial spectacles.

The latest research suggests these structures, which we know as white marble, may have been brightly painted.

Bernard Frischer, a classics and art history professor in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences, led a team of experts who used cutting-edge technology to find traces of yellow pigment on a bas-relief of a menorah on the forum's Arch of Titus. In its heyday, the yellow pigment would have appeared gold from a distance.

Frischer said the menorah has historical significance. "The menorah on the relief is extremely important to Jews, since it shows the menorah from the Second Temple in Jerusalem, which Titus captured and sacked in A.D. 70."

Bulgaria archaeologists discover underwater settlement during excavations at Akin Cape

Chernomorets. Archaeologists with the team of Associate Professor Dr Ivan Hristov, Deputy Director of the National Museum of History, discovered an underwater residential quarter during the excavations at Cape Akin close to the coastal town of Chernomorets. Bozhidar Dimitrov, Director of the National Museum of History, announced the news exclusively for FOCUS News Agency.

“During the excavations under the Via Pontica government programme at Cape Akin, one of the three capes of the town of Chernomorets, apart from the massive fortified wall with two battle towers at the peninsula itself, archaeologist Dr Ivan Hristov also discovered a continuation of the fortified wall into the sea. The continuation of the wall surrounds a big shoal Southwest of the cape. The fortified wall is preserved to some big height and the team has seen the outlines of a big battle tower of five meters height and three and a half meters width,” Bozhidar Dimitrov explained.

In his words, the archaeologists have already ascertained that this is the early Byzantine fortress Krimna, which was situated there. Due to some circumstances, since the beginning of the WWI until a couple of years ago the fortress was within the area of a military unit and it was impossible for the archaeologists to study it.

Cave in South Wales holds UK's oldest rock art

A reindeer engraved on the wall of a cave in South Wales has been found to date from at least 14,505 years ago – making it the oldest known rock art in the British Isles. 
This photo shows the main part of an engraving of a cervid found by Dr. George Nash of the University of Bristol, UK in Cathole Cave on the Gower Peninsula, South Wales. A new U-series date suggests it could be 14,505 years old -- making it the oldest known rock art in the British Isles [Credit: Dr. George Nash/University of Bristol]
The engraving was discovered in September 2010 by Dr George Nash from the University of Bristol's Department of Archaeology and Anthropology while he was exploring the rear section of Cathole Cave, a limestone cave on the eastern side of an inland valley on the Gower Peninsula, South Wales. 

Found to the rear of the cave on a small vertical limestone niche, the engraved cervid – probably a stylised reindeer – is shown side-on and measures approximately 15 x 11cm. It was carved using a sharp-pointed tool, probably made of flint, by an artist using his or her right hand. The animal's elongated torso has been infilled with irregular-spaced vertical and diagonal lines, whilst the legs and stylised antlers comprise simple lines.

Spanish site yields oldest bow in Europe

Archaeological research carried out at the Neolithic site of La Draga, near the lake of Banyoles, has yielded the discovery of an item which is unique in the western Mediterranean and Europe. The item is a bow which appeared in a context dating from the period between 5400-5200 BCE, corresponding to the earliest period of settlement. It is a unique item given that it is the first bow to be found in tact at the site. According to its date, it can be considered chronologically the most ancient bow of the Neolithic period found in Europe. The study will permit the analysis of aspects of the technology, survival strategies and social organisation of the first farming communities which settled in the Iberian Peninsula. The bow is 108 cm long and presents a plano-convex section. Worth mentioning is the fact that it is made out of yew wood (Taxus baccata) as were the majority of Neolithic bows in Europe. 
The complete bow discovered during this year's campaign [Credit: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona]
In previous archaeological campaigns, fragments of two bows were found (in 2002 and 2005) also from the same time period, but since they are fragmented it is impossible to analyse the characteristics of these tools. The current discovery opens new perspectives in understanding how these farming communities lived and organised themselves. These bows could have served different purposes, such as hunting, although if one takes into account that this activity was not all that common in the La Draga area, it cannot be ruled out that the bows may have represented elements of prestige or been related to defensive or confrontational activities.

Mit archäologischen Überraschungen hat Haltern am See schon häufiger auf sich aufmerksam gemacht. Jetzt kommen die Archäologen der LWL-Archäologie für Westfalen wieder ins Staunen. In einer unscheinbaren Baustelle trat unverhofft ein dem Hauptgraben vorgelagerter zweiter Stadtgraben aus dem Spätmittelalter zutage. »Damit haben wir den ersten Nachweis dafür, dass Haltern eine gestaffelte Stadtbefestigung hatte«, bewertet LWL-Archäologe Dr. Hans-Werner Peine den Überraschungsfund als kleine Sensation für die Stadt, die insbesondere mit seinem Römerlager von sich Reden macht.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Early human ancestor chewed bark

An early relative of humans chewed on bark and leaves, according to fossil evidence.

Analysis of food trapped in the teeth of the two-million-year-old "southern ape" suggests it existed on a unique diet of forest fruits and other woodland plants.

The study, in Nature, gives an insight into the evolution of what could have been a direct human ancestor.

Other early African contemporaries had a diet suggesting a grassland habitat.

Tricentenary for steam pioneer Thomas Newcomen

A series of conferences focusing on energy is being held around the UK to mark the 300th anniversary of the world's first steam engine.

In 1712, Devon-born Thomas Newcomen's engine began pumping water from a coal mine in Dudley, West Midlands.

The invention allowed miners to extract previously inaccessible coal.

The latest conference, organised by the Newcomen Society, is being held in Manchester and focuses on the development of the UK's nuclear sector.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Iron Age coins discovered in Jersey after 30-year search

An examination of the massive hoard of Iron Age coins found on the island of Jersey.
Photograph: Jersey Heritage/PA

The largest hoard of Iron Age Celtic coins found anywhere in northern Europe has been discovered by two amateur metal detectorists who have been searching in the same field in Jersey for 30 years.

Reg Mead and Richard Miles found up to 50,000 silver and bronze coins, which remain clumped inside a massive block of soil. They had been hunting for buried treasure inspired by legends that a local farmer once turned up silver coins while working on the land. Earlier this year, they finally found 60 silver coins and one gold, dating from the 1st century BC. Every coin, Mead said, gave them the same thrill. "We are talking about searching for 40 to 50 hours to get these coins out, and every one gives you the same buzz."

Expert says Roman and Celtic coins should go on tour

A marketing expert says the record find of Roman and Celtic coins in Jersey is a unique opportunity for the island.

Christopher Journeax, former head of marketing for Jersey Heritage, says the find worth up to £10m could be used as a travelling exhibition.

The coins, dating from about 50BC are thought to weigh about three quarters of a tonne.

Mr Journeax believes many people and not just archaeologists and specialists would want to see the treasure. 

He said the Celtic coins could spark more interest in the island and its history.

Medieval Wombridge priory excavated

Archaeologists are due to return to a Telford church almost a year after a medieval priory was first unearthed.

The remains of the building, thought to date back to the 13th Century, were found in the grounds of Wombridge Church last August.

A team of volunteers are to help archaeologists uncover the medieval floor.

Reverend Kevin Evans said he hoped as much of the original building would be conserved as possible.

Oakington: Life and death in the East Anglian Fens

Anglo-Saxon skeletons have been surfacing for almost a century in the fields of Oakington. Now a new project has laid bare the trials and tragedies of a small 6th-century Fenland community. Duncan Sayer, Richard Mortimer and Faye Simpson bring flesh to the bones.

 In 1926 four early Anglo-Saxon burials, one equipped with a spear, knife and shield boss, were discovered in an Oakington village field, in Cambridgeshire. Described as ‘[south] of the church’, the land had just been bought by Alan Bloom for his nursery garden. His interest piqued, Alan dug dozens more holes, only abandoning the hunt for further bodies when he hit undisturbed subsoil. Yet there were more to find. Construction of a children’s playground in the 1990s brought 26 burials to light, excavated by Cambridgeshire’s Archaeological Field Unit, while 2006 and 2007 saw Oxford Archaeology East recover 17 more. In 2010 and 2011 students and researchers returned to the site, opening new trenches on either side of the playground and revealing 27 further burials – including a pregnant woman, a warrior and, most exceptional of all, a large number of child burials from a period when they are notoriously scarce.

With several seasons left to go, Oakington is fully established as a substantial 6th-century Anglo-Saxon cemetery. But there is more to the site than that. Capitalising on the longer view that a research and community project provides, test pits and whole trenches have been excavated in gardens and open spaces throughout the village. The tantalising results point to an early enclosed community – a Middle Saxon Burh – on the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fen.

Bulgarian Archaeologists Dig into Medieval Monastery amidst 'Vampire' Finds

Bulgaria: Bulgarian Archaeologists Dig into Medieval Monastery amidst 'Vampire' Finds
Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov poses with newly uncovered walls at the St. Peter and St. Paul Monastery complex in Veliko Tarnovo. Photo by Darik 
Bulgarian archaeologists have uncovered new finds from a monastery dating back to the 13th century, i.e. the height of the Second Bulgarian Empire.

The team of archaeologists Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov and Prof. Hitko Vachev, who have been exploring sites at Veliko Tarnovo, the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, have found a number of artifacts, and have uncovered the walls of a medieval church, which was part of the St. Peter and St. Paul Monastery complex in the Middle Ages. It is more precisely associated with the rule of Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Asen II (1218-1241 AD).

"The walls that we have uncovered date back to the first half of the 13th century. Part of the architectural remains have turned out to be ruined by construction in the past 30 years. We have also found a second wall dating back to the 14-15th century which is a testimony as to how the monastery was transformed. In the western section of the temple we even found evidence of a third renovation from the 18-19th century," Prof. Ovcharov explained, as cited by Darik Radio.

Cow and woman found in Anglo-Saxon dig

Archaeologists excavating an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Cambridgeshire say the discovery of a woman buried with a cow is a "genuinely bizarre" find. 
Archaeologists described the find as "unique in Europe" [Credit: BBC]
The grave was uncovered in Oakington by students from Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire. 

At first it was thought the animal skeleton was a horse. 

Student Jake Nuttall said: "Male warriors might be buried with horses, but a woman and a cow is new to us." 

He added: "We were excited when we thought we had a horse, but realising it was a cow made it even more bizarre." 

Co-director of the excavation, Dr Duncan Sayer, from the University of Central Lancashire, said: "Animal burials are extremely rare, anyway.

Subway work unearths ancient road in Greece

Archaeologists in Greece's second-largest city have uncovered a 70-meter (230-foot) section of an ancient road built by the Romans that was the city's main travel artery nearly 2,000 years ago. 
Workers of Metro's construction company are seen at the ancient ruins in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki on Monday, June 25, 2012. Archaeologists in Greece’s second largest city have uncovered a 70-meter (230-foot) section of an ancient road built by the Romans that was city’s main travel artery nearly 2,000 years ago. The marble-paved road was unearthed during excavations for the city’s new subway system that is due to be completed in four years, and will be raised to be put on permanent display for passengers when the metro opens [Credit: AP/Nikolas Giakoumidis]
The marble-paved road was unearthed during excavations for Thessaloniki's new subway system, which is due to be completed in four years. The road in the northern port city will be raised to be put on permanent display when the metro opens in 2016. 

The excavation site was shown to the public on Monday, when details of the permanent display project were also announced. Several of the large marble paving stones were etched with children's board games, while others were marked by horse-drawn cart wheels. Also discovered at the site were remains of tools and lamps, as well as the bases of marble columns.  

Could one of the world's ancient cities be lost forever?

Pakistani officials say they are doing their best to save one of the most important archaeological sites in south Asia, Mohenjo Daro. But some experts fear the Bronze Age site could be lost unless radical steps are taken.

It is awe-inspiring to walk through a home built 4,500 years ago. 

Especially one still very much recognisable as a house today, with front and back entrances, interconnecting rooms, neat fired brick walls - even a basic toilet and sewage outlet.
Astonishingly, given its age, the home in question was also built on two storeys. 

But it is even more impressive to walk outside into a real Bronze Age street, and see all of the other homes lining it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Thames Ditton man's Roman coin haul to be auctioned

Roman coins collected by a numismatist will be auctioned off on July 3. 

Proceeds from the specialist sale will go to the British Museum. 

The late Kenneth Edwin Day, from Thames Ditton, was a leading figure in the Kingston Numismatic Society and keen Roman coin collector. 

Auctioneer Morton and Eden will divide the coins between two sales and expected the collection to raise about £30,000. 

The proceeds of both sales will be added to an acquisition fund set up so the museum can buy coins of significant to Britain and increase the accessibility of the national collection using new digital technology.


Remote sensing technologies are becoming increasingly important to how we do archaeology -- and it's not hard to understand why. Being able to see what's beneath the surface of the ground without needing to dig is an archaeologist's dream!

Most of the remote sensing methods that have been discussed in this blog have been geophysical techniques, such as the detection of subtle variations in the magnetic properties of the soil.

In my June column in the Columbus Dispatch, I discuss a recent paper by archaeologists Christopher Roos of Southern Methodist University and Kevin Nolan of Ball State University, which was published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Archaeology | New tools can’t replace excavation

New technologies increasingly give archaeologists the ability to gaze into the ground without having to dig.

These can be geophysical surveys that might only require passing various instruments over the ground’s surface but also might involve inserting small probes into the soil, or geochemical methods that require removing small soil samples to measure their chemical properties.

Archaeologists Christopher Roos of Southern Methodist University and Kevin Nolan of Ball State University argued in the January 2012 Journal of Archaeological Science that such methods often are preferable to traditional archaeological excavations because they are less expensive, take less time and do less damage to archaeological sites, which increasingly are viewed as endangered resources.

Roos and Nolan examined phosphorus levels in the soil of the Reinhardt Site in Pickaway County, a Late Prehistoric village that dates to around A.D. 1300. High phosphorus levels in soils tend to be correlated with trash dumps — or middens — that contain large quantities of organic waste.

New deglaciation data suggests earlier migration opportunity for First Americans

A new study of  lake sediment cores from Sanak Island in the western Gulf of Alaska suggests that deglaciation there from the last Ice Age took place as much as 1,500 to 2,000 years earlier than previously thought, opening the door for earlier coastal migration models for the Americas.

The Sanak Island Biocomplexity Project, funded by the National Science Foundation, also concluded that the maximum thickness of the ice sheet in the Sanak Island region during the last glacial maximum was 70 meters – or about half that previously projected – suggesting that deglaciation could have happened more rapidly than earlier models predicted.

Results of the study were just published in the professional journal, Quaternary Science Reviews.
The study, led by Nicole Misarti of Oregon State University, is important because it suggests that the possible coastal migration of people from Asia into North America and South America – popularly known as “First Americans” studies – could have begun as much as two millennia earlier than the generally accepted date of ice retreat in this area, which was 15,000 years before present.

Roman fortress in Bulgaria to be restored

In two months' time, the repair works at the Roman fortress Sexaginta Prista near the Danube city of Ruse in northeastern Bulgaria are to be wrapped up, according to a media statement f the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works. 
The Sexaginta Prista site near Ruse [Credit:]
The project envisaging the renovation and popularization of the ancient Roman fortress is worth around BGN 1.3 M which is provided under the Regional Development Operational Program, the beneficiary being the Ministry of Culture. 

The project involves a major overhaul of the two remaining buildings on the territory of the fortress and the construction of a well-lit ramp that will facilitate access to the remains at Sexaginta Prista (""the port town of the sixty ships").

What Britain used to look like from the air

From sprawling factory complexes to newly built suburban streets - by way of some of the UK's top sporting venues and seaside resorts. More than 10,000 images from one of the earliest collections of aerial photography are being made freely available on the web. 

 The Aerofilms Collection is being conserved and digitised by English Heritage and the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historical Monuments for Scotland and Wales.

Many of the images are instantly recognisable - but the public are also being asked for their help to identify some other locations, and paint a picture of life in the UK between 1919 and 1953. Take a look at some of the photographs with Katy Whitaker from English Heritage.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Our Londinium opens at the Museum of London

Change is afoot at the Museum of London, which today (22 June 2012) reopened its Roman gallery following the first major update to this section since it opened in 1994.

‘Our Londinium 2012’ draws parallels between life in Roman London and the city today. Funded by the Arts Council England, the redevelopment is part of the Cultural Olympiad Programme ‘Stories of the World’ and includes a wealth of new installations including audio-visual displays and interactive touchscreen maps.

Modern objects – mostly drawn from the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (see CA 267 for more on this record-breaking collection) – have been placed in two thirds of the gallery’s display cases beside Roman artefacts.

A bust of Hadrian recovered from the Thames foreshore and currently on loan from the British Museum is juxtaposed with ‘V for Vendetta’ masks worn during the recent anti-cuts protests to prompt discussion about power and authority and how these are challenged.

Sheffield university helps to crack the mystery of Stonehenge - possibly

The famous circle may celebrate the end of Britain's forgotten east-west divide, long since replaced by the familiar one between north and south

Come together. Was it Britain's prehistoric equivalent of the UN building in New York? Photograph: Felix Clay
Sheffield academics are good at collaring national attention. Witness the anxious appeals by radio listeners in the 1930s for scientists in the city to halt an atomic experiment on the grounds that it might bring about the end of the world.

Not long before, a Sheffield University lecturer in electrical research, Dr T.F.Wall applied for a patent for a means of transmitting electrical energy without wires – according to journalists at the time:
an invention capable of destroying life, stopping airplanes in flight and bringing motor cars to a standstill.

More positively, he added, it could have beneficial applications in surgery and medicine. Not to mention, which he couldn't even though he was so ahead of his time, wifi and the internet which have brought you this.

What now? Sheffield has played a leading part in a ten year research project on Stonehenge whose discoveries and conclusions have been gradually released since 2002 and have now come together in a book. Don't for a minute think that the main conclusion can be proved beyond doubt or that the report will end the age-old mystery. But it is plausible and based on a heap of archaeological material.

Research finds Stonehenge was monument marking unification of Britain

After 10 years of archaeological investigations, researchers have concluded that Stonehenge was built as a monument to unify the peoples of Britain, after a long period of conflict and regional difference between eastern and western Britain.

Stonehenge Riverside Project team
Its stones are thought to have symbolized the ancestors of different groups of earliest farming communities in Britain, with some stones coming from southern England and others from west Wales.

The teams, from the universities of Sheffield, Manchester, Southampton, Bournemouth and University College London, all working on the Stonehenge Riverside Project (SRP), explored not just Stonehenge and its landscape but also the wider social and economic context of the monument’s main stages of construction around 3,000 BC and 2,500 BC.

“When Stonehenge was built”, said Professor Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield, “there was a growing island-wide culture – the same styles of houses, pottery and other material forms were used from Orkney to the south coast. This was very different to the regionalism of previous centuries. Stonehenge itself was a massive undertaking, requiring the labour of thousands to move stones from as far away as west Wales, shaping them and erecting them. Just the work itself, requiring everyone literally to pull together, would have been an act of unification.”

Stonehenge a 'symbol of unification' at centre of Ancient Britain

Stonehenge was the centre of ancient Britain, according to a study which claims the monument symbolised the unification of eastern and western communities. 

 Stonehenge was probably at the centre of the world for prehistoric Brits, archaeologists believe

Centuries of speculation have attributed countless functions to the famous Wiltshire landmark, describing it variously as a prehistoric observatory, a place of healing and a temple for ritual sacrifice.

But a new study by researchers from five British universities suggests Stonehenge may in fact have been built as a sign of peace between people from the east and west of the country after a period of conflict. 
The stones, which come from different locations as far afield as southern England and west Wales, may have been used to represent the ancestors of some of Britain's earliest farming communities, researchers suggest. 
Prof Mike Parker Pearson, of Sheffield University, said during Stonehenge's main period of construction from 3,000 to 2,500 BC there was a "growing island-wide culture" developin in Britain.

New deglaciation data suggests earlier migration opportunity for First Americans

A new study of  lake sediment cores from Sanak Island in the western Gulf of Alaska suggests that deglaciation there from the last Ice Age took place as much as 1,500 to 2,000 years earlier than previously thought, opening the door for earlier coastal migration models for the Americas.

The Sanak Island Biocomplexity Project, funded by the National Science Foundation, also concluded that the maximum thickness of the ice sheet in the Sanak Island region during the last glacial maximum was 70 meters – or about half that previously projected – suggesting that deglaciation could have happened more rapidly than earlier models predicted.

Results of the study were just published in the professional journal, Quaternary Science Reviews.

The study, led by Nicole Misarti of Oregon State University, is important because it suggests that the possible coastal migration of people from Asia into North America and South America – popularly known as “First Americans” studies – could have begun as much as two millennia earlier than the generally accepted date of ice retreat in this area, which was 15,000 years before present.

Archaeological dig open to the public

Members of the public are invited to visit an archaeological dig in the grounds of the Heritage Council headquarters in Kilkenny from June 27-29.

Archaeological investigations in 2011 in the garden of the former Bishop’s Palace, now the Heritage Council offices, found an early medieval comb makers workshop. The current dig in 2012, involving 20 students from NUI Maynooth, aims to find more information on the craft working and daily life in this part of 9th-century to 11th-century Kilkenny. 

Visitors will learn how Kilkenny has developed as a city and will see how archaeologists dig, recognise and record their discoveries. Artefacts will also be on display. The archaeologist’s ‘site hut’ in the 18th-century Bishop’s Robing Room will be open to the public, and tea will be served in the site hut.

Virtual tour of Knowth to bring public closer to archaeological site after 50 years of excavations

50 years after the start of archaeological explorations into the ancient burial tombs at Knowth in the Boyne Valley, researchers at the site have confirmed that people will get to experience the site like never before via virtual tours.
The Irish Examiner reports on the rich history of the discoveries at Knowth in Co Meath and how they will be brought that much closer to the public in the near future.

The OPW hopes that the two burial chambers at Knowth, which are the longest in Ireland, will be accessible to the public virtually using high quality scans assembled by a UCD team. The chambers are otherwise inaccessible to the public.

Knowth is famous for its megalithic art, and the burial tombs at the site housed some 300 pieces. The art pieces that have been discovered date as far back as 3000 B.C.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Massive Gold Trove Sparks Archeological Dispute

A 3,300-year-old treasure trove of gold found in northern Germany has stumped German archeologists. One theory suggests that traders transported it thousands of miles from a mine in Central Asia, but other experts are skeptical.

Archeologists in Germany have an unlikely new hero: former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. They have nothing but praise for the cigar-smoking veteran Social Democratic politician.

Why? Because it was Schröder who, together with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, pushed through a plan to pump Russian natural gas to Western Europe. For that purpose, an embankment 440 kilometers (275 miles) long and up to 30 meters (100 feet) wide had to be created from Lubmin, a coastal resort town in northeastern Germany, to Rehden in Lower Saxony near the northwestern city of Bremen. 

The result has been a veritable cornucopia of ancient discoveries. The most beautiful find was made in the Gessel district of Lower Saxony, where 117 pieces of gold were found stacked tightly together in a rotten linen cloth. The hidden treasure is about 3,300 years old. 

Spanish Cave paintings’ age questioned

Cave paintings in Spain need to be analyzed further before the works can be confirmed as the oldest known examples in the world, an archaeologist said, casting doubt over a paper published in the journal Science
The Panel of Hands at El Castillo Cave in Spain. Researchers have now dated one of these hand stencils back to 37,300 years ago [Credit: Pedro Saura]
A team led by Alistair Pike of the University of Bristol in England said in the paper that paintings at El Castillo cave date back at least 40,800 years. That would make them about 4,000 years older than those at the Chauvet cave in France, meaning the Spanish works could be the only cave art ever found to have been painted by Neanderthals, according to Pike. 

The findings at El Castillo need further confirmation, Jean Clottes, who led the research team that appraised the Chauvet works in 1998, said in a telephone interview. Pike’s team used a method based on the radioactive decay of uranium to analyze calcium carbonate crusts formed on top of the paintings. This contrasts with radiocarbon dating employed at Chauvet. The two methods have arrived at conflicting dates in the past, according to Clottes.

Ancient Greek coin hoard found in Sozopol

Bulgarian archaeologists have discovered a treasure of bronze coins during excavations in the Black Sea resort town of Sozopol. 
A treasure of 4th century BC ancient Greek bronze coins was found in a jar in Bulgaria's Sozopol [Credit: frognews]
The treasure was found hidden in a small jar, and consists of 225 Ancient Greek bronze coins, explained the leader of the archaeological team, Prof. Krastina Panayotova, as cited by the Focus news agency. 

The coins are well-preserved, and were minted in Sozopol in the 4th century; they were found during excavations of a necropolis in the Budzhaka area close to the Black Sea town, she explained. 

"They were not found in a grave, they are not part of a funeral, this is a treasure, a "classical" case of buried treasure. We have never found a buried treasure before. I have been dealing with Apollonia (Sozopol's Ancient Greek name – editor's note) for 25 years, and have never seen anything like this. It is very rare to come across such a find in a necropolis," Prof. Panayotova explained.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Britain's Only Known Roman Chariot Racing Circus Get's a Visitor Centre

The Colchester Roman Circus is Getting a Visitor’s Centre

Drawing: BBC.CO.UK
The Colchester Roman Circus, the only archaeologically known Roman Circus in Britain is getting an Interpretation Centre.  The Colchester Archaeological Trust is now in possession of the site which had been slated for development. The new HQ for the Trust site is the former Army Education Centre building at the Colchester Garrison.

The site was excavated in advance of development and according to the Gazette online: “The eight starting gates of Britain’s only chariot circus were found under the gardens of the Sergeants’ Mess, off Circular Road North, in Colchester.