Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last chance for the EMAS Study Tour to Yorkshire

EMAS Easter Study Tour to Yorkshire
28 March to 3 April 2013

There are still a few places available on the EMAS Easter Study Tour to Yorkshire, but you must apply quickly to be sure of a place.

Details of the  Study Tour  are online here...

You can download an application form here... 

Archaeological remake of 4,000-year-old boat faces "moment of truth" in Cornwall

A team of history experts and boatbuilding volunteers will be praying to the prehistoric gods for good weather this week, when a recreation of a 4,000-year-old boat – constructed without nails and sewn together using yew withies – will be launched from Falmouth Harbour in Cornwall.

First made in around 2300 BC, sewn-plank boats were unique to the British Isles, connecting metal traders and social networks across Britain, Europe and Ireland. Basing their boat on an example found in North Ferriby, on the Humber, the team has shaped this modern version with the methods and tools of the time, using Bronze Age axeheads and two huge oak logs to create a 50-foot long, five-tonne vessel.

“The launch really is the moment of truth for this project,” says Professor Robert Van de Noort, from the University of Exeter, who has overseen the labour of long-forgotten love with the help of collaborators from the University of Southampton, Oxford Brookes University and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

Read the rest of this article...

Roman Remains Found Beneath London Bridge Station

View from the top of the, if it had been built in 100AD.
Work to improve London Bridge station as part of the Thameslink upgrade is giving archaeologists their first access to this important historical site since the Victorians carved it up with railways around 150 years ago. Substantial Roman remains, as well as foundations and objects from the Saxon and Medieval times,  haverecently been uncovered, reports SE1 website.
Besides the station dig, the area has recently seen extensive mud-shovelling to build The Shard and The Place, as well as reworking bridges and buildings around Borough Market. The turmoil is yielding a steady stream of discoveries on this most ancient part of London, settled by the Romans at the same time as Londonium across the Thames.
Perhaps the biggest find is the remains of one of the earliest buildings known in Southwark. A pit near Joiner Street has yielded 17 timber piles, part of a structure from the first century AD. Little is known about this eastern edge of Southwark in Roman times, and these are exciting times for excavators. Two years ago, aRoman baths was found on Borough High Street.

Seeking Meaning in the Earliest Female Nudes

Changing styles. Prehistoric female figurines started off voluptuous like the Venus of Willendorf (left) but then became schematic like these "Gönnersdorf" style statuettes (right), possibly signaling a shift in their meaning.
Credit: Bildersturm/Creative Commons

LONDON—About 35,000 years ago, prehistoric artists across Europe suddenly discovered the female formand the art world has never been the same. The explosion of voluptuous female figurines sculpted out of limestone, ivory, and clay directly inspired Picasso and Matisse. Researchers have debated the figurines' meaning for decades. Now, two scientists think they have the answer. Presenting their work here last week at the European Palaeolithic Conference, they claimed that the objects started off as celebrations of the female form, then later became symbols that tied together a growing human society.
The talk, part of a special exhibition on Ice Age art at London's British Museum, surveyed the more than 20,000 year-history of female figurines, which are found at dozens of archaeological sites from Russia to France. The earliest such objects, which include the famousVenus of Willendorf from Austria (see photo) and a statuette recently found in Germany that some have called the "earliest pornography,"date from as early as 35,000 years ago and are generally called the "Willendorf style" of prehistoric art.

Read the rest of this article...

Evolution and the Ice Age

John Stewart conducting his research into prehistoric environments.
(Credit: Image courtesy of Bournemouth University)

Dr John Stewart has made important contributions to a growing body of work that shows how the evolution of ecosystems has to be taken into account when speculating between different geological eras. Go back to the time of the dinosaurs or to the single-celled organisms at the origins of life, and it is obvious that ecosystems existing more than 65 million years ago and around four billion years ago cannot be simply surmised from those of today.

Although the most drastic evolutionary changes occur over long spans of time, the effects can be seen relatively recently, argues Dr Stewart.

Stewart has studied the interaction between ancient ecosystems -- paleoecology -- and evolution of humans and other organisms over the past 100,000 years, undertaking everything from excavating cave sites in Belgium to exploring the desert of Abu Dhabi.

Read the rest of this article...

Geneticists Estimate Publication Date Of The 'Iliad'

Scientists who decode the genetic history of humans by tracking how genes mutate have applied the same technique to one of the Western world's most ancient and celebrated texts to uncover the date it was first written.

The text is Homer's "Iliad," and Homer -- if there was such a person -- probably wrote it in 762 B.C., give or take 50 years, the researchers found. The "Iliad" tells the story of the Trojan War -- if there was such a war -- with Greeks battling Trojans.

The researchers accept the received orthodoxy that a war happened and someone named Homer wrote about it, said Mark Pagel, an evolutionary theorist at the University of Reading in England. His collaborators include Eric Altschuler, a geneticist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, in Newark, and Andreea S. Calude, a linguist also at Reading and the Sante Fe Institute in New Mexico. They worked from the standard text of the epic poem.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Making waves

IfA conference and training event 2013, Birmingham

The IfA Conference and Training event 2013 will take place from the 17–19 April in Birmingham. The City Centre has a lot to offer, and we are planning on taking full advantage of some of the highlights. The programme will include the usual mix of training, seminars and discussion, and we hope to provide a stimulating three days for our delegates.

This year’s theme is entitled Making waves; designing and demonstrating impact in archaeology and heritage, which we hope will give us plenty to talk about. A project’s impact and legacy can be developed over time, and methods of capturing that impact and demonstrating it can be built in at the project design stage. Realistically, it may not always be achievable to have a big impact and, even where possible, it can be difficult to understand what that impact might be let alone finding a way of demonstrating it. The conference will gather everyone’s thoughts, knowledge and experiences of impact, and (we hope) will provide a sound platform of understanding why it is important that we are even talking about it. By providing this forum for training, discussion and debate, we hope we can get everyone making some waves of their own, and by doing so, help the profession make a bit of a splash.

Visit the Website...

Why Not Learn Something New on Next Summer’s Vacation?

Oxford, England, February 26, 2013—Why not learn something new on your vacation next summer, and why not learn it at that most hallowed of learning institutions, the University of Oxford?  The Oxford Experience is a one-week summer course open to all, with no requirements, no exams and no papers.  The program  runs from  June 30 to August 10, 2013 at Christ Church, the most prestigious and beautiful of Oxford colleges.  Here participants live in rooms where English prime ministers and poets once lived, dine on High Table in the magnificent Hall featured in Harry Potter films, and learn about some 60 varied subjects. 
These subjects range from The Age of Churchill, Oxford Murder, The Victorian and Edwardian Home, the Gothic Novel, Enjoying the Cotswolds and The Life and Times of Richard III, to An Introduction to Particle Physics, From Rasputin to Putin, Political Philosophy, the Operas of Verdi and the Pleasures of Poetry.  Classes, with a maximum of 12 students, are made up of Anglophiles from all over the world, with the youngest in their thirties, the oldest in their nineties.


Study of the human past from physical remains - including forensic and archaeological science

League table for archaeology and forensics

What will I learn?

Archaeology is learning about the past through its physical remains, for example, a Roman bath and mosaics or sketches in a mountain cave that depicted daily life 5,000 years ago.
Archaeology courses should give you the practical skills of excavation, but also, just as importantly, teach you to examine what you find and piece it together to get an idea of how we used to live, and where, and how life and the environment has changed.
You'll also learn how to apply what you know of the past to the present, particularly in terms of the politics and economic considerations of heritage tourism.
Most courses will give you the chance to get your hands dirty on field trips and research projects.

Read the rest of this article...

Bronze Age boat to be launched

A Bronze Age boat will be launched in Falmouth tomorrow as part of an archaeological experiment being carried out by the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and the University of Exeter. 

The 4000-year-old, 50ft long, five tonne prehistoric boat has been reconstructed by a team of volunteers, led by shipwright Brian Cumby. His team have spent the last year building the craft out of two massive oak logs using replica methods and tools, such as bronze-headed axes.
Project director Prof Robert Van de Noort from the University of Exeter says: 'The launch really is the moment of truth for this project.  The very nature of an experiment means that we can't know for sure what will happen.  The boat has already given us a few surprises along the way, so the launch really is a leap into the unknown.'

Read the rest of this article...

Rotterdam archaeologists find old shoe stuffed with medieval money

Archeologists in Rotterdam have found an old shoe stuffed with 477 silver coins during excavations behind the town hall.

Archaeologists say they have never before found a shoe filled with money, which ranges in dates from 1472 to 1592. On theory is that the owner of the shoe hid it under floorboards to protect it during the 80 Years War (1568-1648).

The value of the coins is put at 'many thousand euros'.

Read the rest of this article...

Desert finds challenge horse taming ideas

The Al Magar finds appear to show horse-like animals with the accessories of domestication

Recent archaeological discoveries on the Arabian Peninsula have uncovered evidence of a previously unknown civilisation based in the now arid areas in the middle of the desert.

The artefacts unearthed are providing proof of a civilisation that flourished thousands of years ago and have renewed scientific interest in man and the evolution of his relationship with animals.

The 300-odd stone objects so far found in the remote Al Magar area of Saudi Arabia include traces of stone tools, arrow heads, small scrapers and various animal statues including sheep, goats and ostriches.

But the object that has engendered the most intense interest from within the country and around the world is a large, stone carving of an "equid" - an animal belonging to the horse family.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Exhibition preview: Capital of the North, Yorkshire Museum, York

© Gareth Buddo

"From the fifth century, for 1,000 years, York was the northern city,” says Natalie McCaul, the curator of archaeology at the museum doing this history justice several centuries later.

“It was the place from which the powerful ruled. Kings ruled the country from here. Archbishops led the church from here.

“Traders and merchants made fortunes. This exhibition will look at how York became so powerful, and the men and women who made it that way.”

Started with a film triggered by a coloured bookmark – one for adults, one for kids – this chronological run-through is divided into eight periods.

They include Anglian and Viking throwbacks, the House of York and the Tudor ages, symbolised by glitzy objects such as theEsrick Ring and theMiddleham Jewel, and depicting the likes of Richard III, Henry IV and William the Conqueror in cartoon form.

Read the rest of this article...

To claim someone has 'Viking ancestors' is no better than astrology

Last week we were told that Eddie Izzard is a Viking descendant on his mother's side and an Anglo-Saxon on his father's. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Exaggerated claims from genetic ancestry testing companies undermine serious research into human genetic history

You may have missed the latest genetic discovery. As reported by The Daily Telegraph on Friday: "One million British men may be directly descended from the Roman legions". The story reappeared on Sunday, at the Who Do You Think You Are – Live event at London's Olympia, when it was repeated by Alistair Moffatt, the managing director of BritainsDNA, the company behind the claims.
Such stories are becoming increasingly common in newspapers, on television and radio. Last week on the BBC miniseries Meet the Izzards we were told that Eddie Izzard is a Viking descendant on his mother's side and an Anglo-Saxon descendant on his father's. Last year the Observer reported that Tom Conti has Saracen origins and is a relative of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Read the rest of this article...

Bronze Age necropolis discovered in Romania

The Paru archaeological site  [Credit]

An impressive archaeological discovery was made by a team of archaeologists led by Professor Florin Drasovean on the the highway section Lugoj – Deva in Romania. The 50 tombs discovered in the village of Păru represent the largest necropolis of the Bronze Age found in Romania until now. Specific pottery and stone grinders used in funerary ritual, hundreds of homes in the thirteenth century BC were also discovered by archaeologists.

The research conducted during last summer led to the discovery of more than six sites that date back to the Bronze Age, Roman and Medieval periods on the highway’s segment Belint-Traian Vuia.

Specialists from Banat Museum have already studied the pieces discovered so far, and they intend to publish their findings in dedicated monograms.

Read the rest of this article...

Ancient warrior's treasure-filled grave found in Russia

The burial of the warrior was richly adorned and contained more than a dozen gold artifacts. This fibula-brooch, despite being only 2.3 by 1.9 inches in size, contains intricate decorations leading toward the center where a rock crystal bead is mounted [Credit: Valentina Mordvintseva]

Hidden in a necropolis situated high in the mountains of the Caucasus in Russia, researchers have discovered the grave of a male warrior laid to rest with gold jewelry, iron chain mail and numerous weapons, including a 36-inch (91 centimeters) iron sword set between his legs.

That is just one amazing find among a wealth of ancient treasures dating back more than 2,000 years that scientists have uncovered there.

Among their finds are two bronze helmets, discovered on the surface of the necropolis. One helmet (found in fragments and restored) has relief carvings of curled sheep horns while the other has ridges, zigzags and other odd shapes. 

Read the rest of this article...

How a distaste for 'pagan food' first put the British off horsemeat

The paper does not attempt to explain how the fashion for eating horsemeat re-emerged in other European countries, notably France Photo: Alamy

A new study of the eating habits of the Anglo Saxons suggests that they may have developed a strong distaste for horsemeat because they saw it as a “pagan” food.
The findings, published in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology, could help explain the level of revulsion at the recent revelations that consumers have been eating horsemeat uwittingly.
Evidence from animal bones found at settlement sites across England shows that horses appear to have been eaten on special occasions in the early Anglo Saxon period.
But as Christianity was gradually reintroduced to Britain between the Sixth and Eighth Centuries the custom became increasingly rare.

Read the rest of this article...

Cameron rules out return of Parthenon sculptures

Statuary from the east pediment of the Parthenon. Part of the collection of Parthenon Marbles on display at the British Museum in London [Credit: WikiCommons]

British Prime Minister David Cameron has ruled out the return of the so-called Elgin marbles to Greece.

Speaking from India, where he is on an official visit, on Thursday the Tory leader turned down requests for the return of the Koh-i-noor diamond to Britain’s former colony saying he did not believe in “returnism.”

“It is the same question with the Elgin marbles,” Cameron said, referring to the classical Greek marble sculptures currently on display at the British Museum in London.

Greece has long campaigned for the marbles, which are part of the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis and which were removed by Lord Elgin during Ottoman rule, to be returned to their rightful place.

Read the rest of this article...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Lost Collections of the Ancient World

Terra Sigilata c. 200 CE

How Roman Britain and Ur came to Ontario


Welcome to the virtual exhibit for

The Lost Collections

of the Ancient World

This is the story of a collection of artefacts from Mesopotamia and Roman Britain, which were re-discovered buried deep in the Museum of Ontario Archaeology's collections storage in January 2011.

A lucky set of circumstances led the Museum's education co-ordinator, Katie Urban, and archaeologist, Paige Glenen, both of whom have backgrounds in Greek, Roman and Near Eastern archaeology, to uncover these ancient treasures.

The big question - how did they come to be in Ontario, Canada?

View the website...


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Will the study of archaeology soon become a thing of the past?

Greyfriars car park, Leicester, where the remains of King Richard III were found. Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters

Richard III's discovery showcased UK academia, says Michael Braddick. But as student demand for certain subjects falls, should we have grave concerns for our future knowledge base?

Finding Richard III (on the premises of Leicester social services no less) is testament to the ingenuity of archaeologists. Weaving together findings from historical analysis of texts with scientific analysis of the skeleton and the site, they have made an overwhelming case that these are the remains of the king.
As a historian, I spend a lot of time trying to listen to the dead. Every now and then a curtain seems to be pulled aside and we hear them directly, and the feeling is very powerful. The way that the wounds to the skull match with one of the historical accounts of Richard's death did that for me: I was taken to Richard's final moments, as his helmet was lost and his attackers closed in, his horse gone or stuck in the mud, the moments in other words when he knew he had lost his kingdom and his life. That human connection is precious, and rare.

Read the rest of this article...

In praise of … the real Macbeth

After events in a Leicester car park forced an overdue re-examination of one Shakespeare villain, MSP Alex Johnstone says it's time to rescue another from the barbarity of the Bard. The eponymous anti-hero of the Scottish play is an unappealing mix of empty ambition and idle guilt; lacking the steel of his wife, he dithers before doing the wrong thing – and then regrets it. 

The real Macbeth, by contrast, was a cut above the typical 11th-century Scottish king. That doesn't makes him an angel, but even if the suggestion that he killed one cousin is right, he was at least avenging his father – a better excuse than Elizabeth I ever had for swinging the axe at her Scottish cousin

Read the rest of this article...


Bygdeborg Mur, Fylke: Østfold. Image: Kulturminnesøk

Researcher Ingrid Ystgaard  from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has studied the weapons found in graves and examined the battle techniques they would best suit during the important transition from the early to the late Iron Age in Norway around 500 AD.

A time of conflict

The Western Roman Empire was collapsing, and warfare engulfed Europe, major alliances were splintered and smaller bands of men started vying with one another. Ystgaard  feels it may be significant that the battle axe became a favoured weapon during this time.
Ystgaard also studied the simple stone fortifications (Bygdeborgen ) built for protection on hilltops or other sites that were easy to defend. Relatively common, they were maintained between 400 AD to 600 AD and then, over the course of a single generation, abandoned and left to crumble.
The researcher wondered why people gave up fortifications that had been used for more than six generations and feels she has found one answer in some 100 weapon graves in mid-Norway dating to this turbulent and violent period.
Read the rest of this article...

"Hairdressing Archaeologist" Re-Writes History

Hairdressing Archaeologist Janet Stephens has combined career with personal passion and the result is rewriting history---literally.   A stylist with an intense interest in hair and costume history, most notably the lives of ancient Greeks and Romans, Stephens recreates the hairstyles captured in marble of the imposing Empresses and goddesses of old and in doing so, proved that the intricate braids and time-consuming styling was done not with wigs (as scholars have proposed for years) but on the long-ago lovelies’ own hair.
 “One day, I was killing time at the Walters Museum in Baltimore while my daughter was at a music lesson and I ended up in the Ancient Roman collection,” says Stephens. “They were making changes in the gallery and they had set some of the portrait statues in the middle of the gallery and I got to see the back of the head and that is where all the hairdressing happens.  Usually, they are pushed up against a wall because they expect you to be most interested the face but I’m a hairdresser--I don’t care about her face, I want to see the hair.  I looked at the back of these heads and mentally started dissecting the style.”

Read the rest of this article...


Hoards of valuable materials, particularly coins, are a common and rapidly growing class of discovery across the Roman Empire. While these are usually seen as having been deposited for safe keeping, other explanations for this activity are also possible.

Examining the meaning behind the hoards

A new study has begun by the British Museum and University of Leicester, supported by an Arts and Humanities Research Council grant of £645K for a 3-year project on “Crisis or continuity? The deposition of metalwork in the Roman world: what do coin hoards tell us about Roman Britain in the 3rd century AD?”
There has been little explicit discussion or research on why Roman coin hoards were buried, why hoards were not recovered in antiquity, or what they tell us when studied as a group. Over 660 hoards are known from Britain containing coins of the period AD 253-96, an unprecedented concentration, and they provide a key and under-used dataset that can shed light on a poorly known period of British archaeology and history.
Read the rest of this article...

Human mouth in 'a permanent state of disease'

PEOPLE can brush their teeth as much as they like, but our mouths will never be as healthy as those of our ancient ancestors.

Modern food, particularly processed sugar and flour, has decreased the amount of good bacteria in the human mouth, allowing bad bacteria to take over, which results in tooth decay and gum disease.

The human mouth is in "a permanent state of disease", says Professor Alan Cooper, director of the University of Adelaide Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD).

Read the rest of this article...

High-altitude archaeologists to probe prehistoric Himalayas

A team of archaeologists from the University of York are to travel to the roof of the world to discover, survey, and record mountain archaeology in the Nepalese Himalayas.

The Himalayan Exploration and Archaeological Research Team (HEART) will spend four weeks documenting high-altitude artefact scatters, rock shelters and formerly inhabited hand-cut cave systems that were used either as settlements or tombs dating back to the 3rd century BC.
The five-strong team, led by Dr Hayley Saul, of the Department of Archaeology at York, will be based in the Mustang valley in the Annapurna massif where they will use digital 3D imaging to survey and record the features as part of a new initiative to piece together the prehistory of the high Himalayas.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Medieval buildings cover a 'sizeable area' say archaeologists

The remains of a medieval village are thought to have been discovered on the outskirts of Selkirk in the Scottish Borders.

Scottish Water was laying a new water main at Philiphaugh when workers made the discovery.
Archaeologists say that a number of stone buildings have been found across a sizeable area, suggesting that there may have been an entire settlement.
"We knew there had been something there, we just didn't know where it was.
"Now we have the village, and it is quite an extensive village.
"We have got a really extensive area of maybe half a kilometre where we have had buildings right along the road running to the salmon viewing centre."

Read the rest of this article...

Bulgarian Archaeologists Uncover Major Roman Thermae

A Bulgarian team of archaeologists have discovered well-preserved remains of aRoman bath in the ancient Bulgarian town of Sozopol.
The news was revealed by National Museum of History director Bozhidar Dimitrov.
"The team, led by Sozopol Archaeology Museum director Dimitar Nedev has made the discovery as part of its digs in the area in front of Sozopol's fortress walls," said the historian.
According to Dimitrov, the thermae building is 18 meters long and features an intricate water supply systems as well as numerous pools of various sizes.
"Except for Roman baths in Hissarya and Varna, this is the best-preserved Romanbath in Bulgarian lands," added he.
Dimitrov expressed satisfaction at the string of discoveries made in Sozopol, which he said will make an attractive open-air exhibit once archaeological works are completed.

Read the rest of this article...

Mystery of Henri IV's missing head divides France

The mummified skull found in the attic of a retired tax collector is said to be the missing head of King Henri IV [Credit: Bellet-Gabet/AFP]

Richard III may have had an ignominious resting place under a Leicester car park, but spare a thought for Henri IV. First the French monarch was disinterred from the royal sepulchre by revolutionaries and thrown into a mass grave. Then his head was cut off and – allegedly – turned up in the attic of a retired tax inspector.

Worse, while British experts have confirmed that the deformed skeleton found in Leicester is "almost certainly" that of Richard, bearing signs of fatal wounds he suffered during the battle of Bosworth, French scientists are still fighting over the disputed remains of Henri, who was assassinated in 1610 by a Catholic fundamentalist.

Unlike Richard III, who was reviled during his lifetime, "good King Henri" was credited with kindliness and seen as a potent symbol of national unity and reconciliation. Baptised a Catholic but raised a Calvinist, he ended bitter religious wars in France and took pains to ease the daily travails of his poorer subjects. "If God gives me life, I will ensure there is no labourer in my kingdom who has not the means to have a chicken in his pot each Sunday!" he is said to have pledged.

Read the rest of this article...

Dartmoor burial site gives up its 4,000-year-old secrets

Excavation of the 4,000 year old burial cists on Dartmoor [Credit: PA]

An archaeological find on Dartmoor is exciting academics from around the world – Martin Hesp has been finding out why the 4,500-year-old remains have been given international importance.

When archaeologists unearthed the contents of a tomb in a remote part of Dartmoor 18 months ago they had no idea they were about to find an internationally important treasure trove.

But that is what the damp dank contents turned out to be. Now academics from all over the country and abroad are taking a big interest in what came out of the prehistoric cremation burial chamber from the lonesome heights of Whitehorse Hill.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mick Aston Interview

Mick Aston, formerly of television’s Time Team, answers questions submitted by Oxbow Books and David Brown Book Company customers. Candid, witty and refreshingly honest, Mick offers his personal thoughts on the current state of archaeological research in Britain, the relationship between archaeologists and metal detectorists and much more. He provides fascinating insights into his research project in Shapwick, Somerset and offers advice for others hoping to embark on similar projects in the future.

Watch the video...

ARCHI The Archaeological Sites Index

ARCHI, the online searchable archaeological database, has added a new feature that allows users to add sites to their world-wide database.

The online form is easy to use and should prove to be an extremely useful addition to this site.

You can find the online form at:

Ancient teeth bacteria record disease evolution

DNA preserved in calcified bacteria on the teeth of ancient human skeletons has shed light on the health consequences of the evolving diet and behaviour from the Stone Age to the modern day.

The ancient genetic record reveals the negative changes in oral bacteria brought about by the dietary shifts as humans became farmers, and later with the introduction of food manufacturing in the Industrial Revolution. An international team, led by the University of Adelaide's Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) where the research was performed, has published the results in Nature Genetics. Other team members include the Department of Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge (UK)

Read the rest of this article...

'Amazing' treasures revealed in Dartmoor bronze age cist

A specialist at the Wiltshire Conservation Lab examines a prized amber bead

A rare and "amazing" burial discovery dating back 4,000 years has been described as the most significant find on Dartmoor and has given archaeologists a glimpse into the lives of the people who once lived there.
The discovery of a bronze age granite cist, or grave, in 2011 in a peat bog on White Horse Hill revealed the first organic remains found on the moor and a hoard of about 150 beads.
As the National Park's archaeologists levered off the lid they were shocked by what lay beneath.
The park's chief archaeologist, Jane Marchand, said: "Much to our surprise we actually found an intact cremation deposit [human bones] which is actually a burial alongside a number of grave goods.

Read the rest of this article...


A most delightful archaeological find: an entire hoard of 16th and 17th century children’s toys, found at Market Harborough parish church, England

In the course of my research of Vikin gAge woodcraft, I somewhat unexpectedly turned up information about a most delightful archaeological find: an entire hoard of children’s toys, found at Market Harborough parish church, England[i]. A charming stash of the everyday playthings of sixteenth or seventeenth century children, the hoard throws a rare spotlight on the material culture of children in the archaeological record.
The hoard was revealed when construction workers unblocked an old disused stairwell at the church and discovered that the space had been stashed with over 200 toys. Staff at Harborough Museum dated the collection to the late Tudor and early Stuart era (1570-1630).
The hoard was comprised of street toys, specifically 117 objects known as tipcats, 89 spinning tops, thirteen sap whistles, six knucklebones, seven balls, five whip handles, two possible teetotums (a kind of spinning top) and eight wooden cylinder objects that were also thought to be toys. The finds were made mainly from wood – willow, ash, hazel, alder and fruitwoods, cut straight from the hedgerows or out of a carpenter’s workshop – with some bone, clay, leather and fabric also used.
Read the rest of this article...

Briton finds 500-year-old arrest warrant for Machiavelli

Drawing of the trumpet used by the town crier, left, was fpund together with the proclamation calling for the arrest of Machiavelli Photo: University of Manchester

A British academic has stumbled upon a 500-year-old "most wanted" notice for the arrest of Niccolo Machiavelli, the infamous Renaissance political operator who wrote The Prince.

Prof Stephen Milner from Manchester University discovered the historic document by accident while researching town criers and the proclamations they read out in archives in Florence.
The 1513 proclamation, which called for the arrest of Machiavelli, eventually led to his downfall and death.
"When I saw it I knew exactly what it was and it was pretty exciting," said Prof Milner.

Read the rest of this article...

Origins and Evolution of the Etruscans’ mtDNA

The Etruscan culture is documented in Etruria, Central Italy, from the 8th to the 1st century BC. For more than 2,000 years there has been disagreement on the Etruscans’ biological origins, whether local or in Anatolia. Genetic affinities with both Tuscan and Anatolian populations have been reported, but so far all attempts have failed to fit the Etruscans’ and modern populations in the same genealogy. We extracted and typed the hypervariable region of mitochondrial DNA of 14 individuals buried in two Etruscan necropoleis, analyzing them along with other Etruscan and Medieval samples, and 4,910 contemporary individuals from the Mediterranean basin. Comparing ancient (30 Etruscans, 27 Medieval individuals) and modern DNA sequences (370 Tuscans), with the results of millions of computer simulations, we show that the Etruscans can be considered ancestral, with a high degree of confidence, to the current inhabitants of Casentino and Volterra, but not to the general contemporary population of the former Etruscan homeland. By further considering two Anatolian samples (35 and 123 individuals) we could estimate that the genetic links between Tuscany and Anatolia date back to at least 5,000 years ago, strongly suggesting that the Etruscan culture developed locally, and not as an immediate consequence of immigration from the Eastern Mediterranean shores.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Archaeology Summer Courses at Oxford

The Oxford Experience is offering a number of archaeology courses this summer.

Each course lasts for one week and participants stay in the 16th century college of Christ Church.

The courses offered are:

Cathedrals of Britain by James Bond
An Introduction to Archaeology by David Beard
The Black Death by Trevor Rowley (course full)
Bishop Odo and the Bayeux Tapestry by Trevor Rowley
Colleges of Oxford by Julian Munby
The Architecture and Archaeology of Medieval Churches by David Beard (course full)
Cotswold Towns by Trevor Rowley
Treasures of the British Museum by Michael Duigan (course full)
Churches of England by Kate Tiller
Treasures of the Ashmolean Museum by Gail Bent
The Age of Stonehenge by Scott McCracken
The World of the Vikings by David Beard

You can find further details here...

King Tut's tomb revealed 90 years ago today (VIDEO)

On this day 90 years ago, British archaeologist Howard Carter ceremoniously unsealed King Tut’s tomb.

Tutankhamen assumed the throne at roughly age 9 and ruled Egypt for only a decade 3,300 years ago.

However, Carter’s discovery of a “treasure-filled burial chamber” in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings sparked worldwide curiosity about King Tut.

Public interest soared because the burial chamber was among the best preserved, revealing such iconic artifacts such as Tutankhamen’s golden mask.

The Boy King also conjures images of curses and assassination attempts, but modern science has put much of the mystery to rest.

Read the rest of this article...

'Old school and old-fashioned': historians turn their fire on Gove

Out of Michael Gove's history curriculum goes the swinging 60s, in comes Benjamin Disraeli. Photograph: Roger Viollet/Rex Features/Getty

The education secretary is attempting to introduce rigour and coherence into history teaching. His proposed new curriculum has a major focus on our 'island story'. But his critics say its focus on kings, queens and the lives of great men would not look out of place in a 1950s grammar school.

Danny Boyle's much-feted opening ceremony to the London Olympics, spanning the industrial revolution, wartime Britain, a jolly nod to the Beatles and an appearance by Dizzee Rascal, was not to everyone's taste. "Multicultural crap", was the notorious tweet from one Tory MP, prompting an onslaught of vitriol.
Higher up the chain of command, however, another more prominent and powerful figure was said to have concerns. "Four out of 10," education secretary Michael Gove is said to have uttered after seeing a preview. The report was vehemently denied, but even usually supportive newspapers reported word of the cabinet minister's concerns.

Read the rest of this article...