Monday, March 31, 2014

Teeth help scientists unearth secrets of Black Death

You can learn a lot from a tooth.
Molars taken from skeletons unearthed by work on a new London railway line are revealing secrets of the medieval Black Death — and of its victims.
This week, Don Walker, an osteologist with the Museum of London, outlined the biography of one man whose ancient bones were found by construction workers under London’s Charterhouse Square: He was breast-fed as a baby, moved to London from another part of England, had bad tooth decay in childhood, grew up to work as a labourer, and died in early adulthood from the bubonic plague that ravaged Europe in the 14th century.
The poor man’s life was nasty, brutish, and short, but his afterlife is long and illuminating.
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Black Death skeletons unearthed by Crossrail project

The plague victims' bones reveal clues to their harsh lives in medieval London

Skeletons unearthed in London Crossrail excavations are Black Death victims from the great pandemic of the 14th Century, forensic tests indicate.

Their teeth contain DNA from the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis and their graves have been dated to 1348-50.

Records say thousands of Londoners perished and their corpses were dumped in a mass grave outside the City, but its exact location was a mystery.

Continue reading the main story

Archaeologists now believe it is under Charterhouse Square near the Barbican.

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Developers destroy 2,000-year-old Winchester Roman wall

AFTER: The site after the wall was destroyed.

IT was a plan that sparked outrage.
But despite pleas to save a 2,000-year-old Roman wall from destruction, developers have gone ahead and carted the relic off in a lorry.
As previously reported, historians were angered when it emerged thatBargate Homes were considering breaking the wall down to make way for 14 homes at the site, in Southgate Street, Winchester.
But the proposal has now become a reality.
Colin Cook, of the Winchester Area Tourist Guides Association, witnessed the destruction.
He said: “It’s desperately sad. I have got sympathy with Bargate Homes but Winchester City Council planners need to be a lot more aware of the sensitivities of these sites when they’re giving permission. As far as I can see it’s gone away on a lorry. There is no possibility of rebuilding it anywhere else.”
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3,000 year old cultivated fields unearthed in the Netherlands

Dr. Stijn Arnoldussen, an archaeologist at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, has unearthed prehistoric cultivated field sites constructed more than 3,100 years ago that were subsequently used for centuries. 

[Credit: Stijn Arnoldussen, University of Groningen, the Netherlands] 

Dr. Arnoldussen’s research focuses on long-term development of cultural landscapes from the Late Neolithic onwards, with specific attention for the interplay of funerary and settlement domains within the wider cultural landscape, and additionally on Bronze Age settlements as foci for patterned deposition and the nature and dynamics of the Celtic field system of the later Bronze Age and Iron Age. Side-projects include pottery analysis (from the Neolithic up to the Roman Period), analyses of Bronze artefacts, computer applications in fieldwork and editorial work for the Journal for Archaeology in the Low Countries. 

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Roman Emperor Dressed As Egyptian Pharaoh in Newfound Carving

A newfound stone carving reveals Roman Emperor Claudius dressed as an Egyptian pharaoh while wearing an elaborate crown. The hieroglyphs say Claudius is raising the pole of the cult chapel of Egyptian fertility god Min and suggests a ritual like this took place around the summertime.
Credit: Photo by Marleen De Meyer, line drawing by Troy Sagrillo.

An ancient stone carving on the walls of an Egyptian temple depicts the Roman emperor Claudius dressed as an Egyptian pharaoh, wearing an elaborate crown, a team of researchers has discovered.

In the carving, Emperor Claudius, who reigned from A.D. 41 to 54, is shown erecting a giant pole with a lunar crescent at the top. Eight men, each wearing two feathers, are shown climbing the supporting poles, with their legs dangling in midair.

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Centuries-old grills of ancient BBQ lovers found in western Turkey

Among the findings are earth and kiln barbecues, their tools and cookers. AA photo

Pieces of grills, which date back to 2,200 years ago, have been unearthed in the ancient city of Assos in the northwestern province of Çanakkale’s Ayvacık district. The barbecues are made of earth and kiln. 

The head of the excavations in the ancient city, Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University member Professor Nurettin Aslan said they had found important clues that locals in the area did not fry fish and meat, but grilled them in barbecues, cooking them in a healthier way. Among the findings are earth and kiln barbecues, their tools and cookers, Aslan said, adding, “These are small portable cookers. We see that some of them have the ‘bearded Hermes’ figure.”

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Researchers suggest Vikings used crystals with sun compass to steer at night

Credit: Soren Thirslund

( —A team of researchers working in Hungary has proposed that a sun compass artifact found in a convent in 1948 might have been used in conjunction with crystals to allow Vikings to guide their boats even at night. In their paper published inProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical & Engineering Sciences, the team describes theories they've developed that might explain how Viking sailors were able to so accurately sail to places such as Greenland.
Since the discovery of the sun compass fragment,  have theorized that Viking sailors used them to plot their course—at least when the sun was shining. They didn't have magnetic compasses, however, which suggest they must have had some other means for steering in the evening or the later hours. In this latest effort, the researchers describe a scenario where the Vikings might have used a type of crystal that they called a sunstone to help them use light from the sun below the horizon as a guide.
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Hadrian’s Wall Trust to close within six months as funding evaporates

The trust set up to manage Hadrian’s Wall is to close in six months after funding dried up, leaving support for the World Heritage Site “uncertain”. 

Hadrian's Wall stretches 84 miles [Credit: Rex Features] 

Hadrian’s Wall Trust revealed it is to close this week, with a series of organisations scrabbling to put funding in place to ensure one of Britain’s most famous monuments can be adequately maintained in the long term.

 Linda Tuttiett, chief executive of the Trust, said: “We hope and pray resources can be found to keep the heritage site safe” after confirming that funding cuts had forced the trustees to close the seven-year-old organisation.

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Forget GPS: Medieval Compass Guided Vikings After Sunset

The Uunartoq disc was discovered in an 11th century convent in Greenland in 1948. It is thought to have been used as a compass by the Vikings as they traversed the North Atlantic Ocean from Norway to Greenland.
Credit: Copyright Proceedings of the Royal Society A; Balazs Bernath; Alexandra Farkas; Denes Szaz; Miklos Blaho; Adam Egri; Andras Barta; Susanne Akesson; and Gabor Horvath

Often regarded as ruthless robbers, the Vikings were also impressive mariners capable of traversing the North Atlantic along a nearly straight line. Now, new interpretations of a medieval compass suggest the sea robbers may have skillfully used the sun to operate the compass even when the sun had set below the horizon.

The remains of the supposed compass — known as theUunartoq disc— were found in Greenland in 1948 in an 11th-century convent. Though some researchers originally argued it was simply a decorative object, other researchers have suggested the disc was an important navigational tool that theVikings would have used in their roughly 1,600-mile-long (2,500 kilometers) trek from Norway to Greenland.

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Beachy Head Lady was young sub-Saharan Roman with good teeth, say archaeologists

Was this Sussex’s first sub-Saharan resident? Heritage Officer Jo Seaman reveals the quest for the Beachy Head Lady in Eastbourne

The figure known as Beachy Head Lady has gone on show to the public in Eastbourne
© Graham Huntley

“We had over 300 different individuals – most skeletons, but some cremations. The idea was to go back through all those. We had some information about some of them but others we had nothing on.

They were held in the basement of the town hall, where I keep my archaeology collection. They came primarily from two main Saxon cemeteries that were excavated – one in particular had over 200 graves.

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Unearthing a Roman civilian's past at Maryport

An archaeological team is unearthing the remains of a Roman fort and settlement in the hope of gaining a better understanding of everyday Roman civilian life. 

The settlement is believed to have been divided into a series of long plots which  extended along a 1,378ft (420m) length of Roman road leading to the  fort gate [Credit: Hadrian's Wall Trust] 

Oxford Archaeology (OA) and a team of volunteers are excavating an extramural settlement at Maryport Roman fort on the west coast of Cumbria. 

Built high on the cliffs overlooking Solway Firth, it is believed the fort was founded in the First Century AD when the Roman army initially entered the region.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

‘Little Foot’ fossil could be human ancestor

A short, hairy “ape man” who tumbled into a pit in South Africa millions of years ago is back in the running as a candidate ancestor for humans, scientists saidearlier this month.
A painstaking 13-year probe has “convincingly shown,” they said March 14, that the strange-looking creature named “Little Foot” lived some 3 million years ago — almost 1 million years earlier than calculated by rival teams.
If so, it would make Little Foot — so named for the diminutive size of the bones — one of the oldest members of the Australopithecus hominid family ever found.
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Excavation of Neolithic chambered tomb on Anglesey begins

An archaeological excavation of Ynys Môn's least known Neolithic chambered tomb – Perthi Duon, west of the village of Brynsiencyn on Anglesey – has begun. The work is being carried out by a team from the Welsh Rock Art Organisation under the direction of Dr George Nash of the University of Bristol and Carol James.
Perthi Duon, considered to be the remains of a portal dolmen, is one of eighteen extant stone chambered monuments that stand within a 1.5 km corridor of the Menai Straits.
The antiquarian Henry Rowlands reports in 1723 that beneath the large capstone were three stones, possibly upright stones or pillars. However, by the beginning of the nineteenth century the  was in a ruinous state, incorporated into a north-south hedge boundary, itself now removed.
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Neolithic houses at Stonehenge

NEOLITHIC buildings are being painstakingly recreated in the new outdoor exhibition area of the Stonehenge visitor centre.
When complete, the houses will showcase what life would have been like at the time that Stonehenge was built. The re-created huts are based on archaeological evidence unearthed at the nearby Durrington Walls.
Volunteers are weaving hundreds of hazel rods through the main supporting stakes, thatching the roofs with hand-knotted wheat straw, and starting to cover the walls with a daub of chalk, straw and water.
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Shipwrecks Lost to Time That Archaeologists Would Love to Get Their Hands On

This 102-foot-long Roman barge from the first century A.D. was lifted in 2011 from the Rhône River in Arles, France. It was virtually intact after two millennia in the mud.

Finding modern ships lost at sea, even with the help of radar, sonar, and satellites, can be a herculean task. But trying to find a shipwreck from thousands of years ago is even harder. It's like looking for a wooden needle in a haystack after part of the needle has rotted away.

Underwater archaeologists keep looking, though, because finding one of these shipwrecks could yield a treasure trove of information—from how ancient peoples built their vessels to where they traveled and who their trading partners were.

Figuring out those connections would allow researchers to better understand ancient economies, and to put the cultures into a more global context, says James Delgado, director of maritime heritage for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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Syria Crusader castle Krak des Chevaliers has war scars

A Syrian soldier looking at the castle on Thursday

Government troops in Syria have recaptured the historic Crusader castle of Krak des Chevaliers from rebels, close to the border with Lebanon.
An officer said the army had killed 93 rebels in fierce fighting in the area on Thursday, while there appeared to be heavy damage to a nearby village.
Journalists allowed to visit the Unesco World Heritage site on Friday found signs of a hasty retreat.
Walls of the hilltop castle showed signs of damage from bombardment.
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The Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the Myth?

Strong and brave, the Amazons were a force to be reckoned with in Greek mythology—but did the fierce female warriors really exist?

I loved watching the “Wonder Woman” TV series when I was a girl. I never wanted to dress like her—the idea of wearing a gold lamé bustier and star-spangled blue underwear all day seemed problematic—but the Amazonian princess was strong and resourceful, with a rope trick for every problem. She seemed to be speaking directly to me, urging, “Go find your own inner Amazonian.” When I read the news that Wonder Woman was going to be resurrected for a blockbuster movie in 2016, Batman vs. Superman, it made me excited—and anxious. Would the producers give her a role as fierce as her origins—and maybe some shoulder straps—or would she just be cartoon eye candy?

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What medieval Europe did with its teenagers

Today, there's often a perception that Asian children are given a hard time by their parents. But a few hundred years ago northern Europe took a particularly harsh line, sending children away to live and work in someone else's home. Not surprisingly, the children didn't always like it.
Around the year 1500, an assistant to the Venetian ambassador to England was struck by the strange attitude to parenting that he had encountered on his travels.
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Did women in Greece and Rome speak?

Gold finger-ring with a seated woman, perhaps Penelope. Western Greek, around 400 BC – 300 BC, possibly made in Sicily. GR 1867,0508.402

Did women in Greece and Rome speak? Stupid question; of course they did. They must have chattered and joked together, laughed at the silliness of their menfolk, advised (or chatted up) their husbands, given lessons to their children… and much, much more.
But nowhere in the ancient world did they ever have a recognised voice in public – beyond, occasionally, complaining about the abuse they must often have suffered. Those who did speak out got ridiculed as being androgynes (‘men-women’). The basic motto (as for Victorian children) was that women should be seen and not heard, and best of all not seen either.
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All Cannings 'Neolithic' long barrow takes shape

The first "Neolithic" long barrow to be built in the UK for 5,000 years, is attracting interest from all over the world.
The burial chamber at All Cannings near Devizes in Wiltshire will contain niches housing urns of cremated ashes, and is set to be finished later this year.
Developer Tim Daw, who owns the farmland on which it is being built, said he was "absolutely thrilled" with its progress.
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

1,300 year-old mummy and her intimate tattoo

Wrapped in bandages and caricatured as figures of terror in Hollywood movies, Egypt’s mummies have long captivated and bewildered scientists and children alike.
Now a new exhibition at the British Museum will disclose the human side of the mummies of the Nile.
Eight have been – scientifically speaking – stripped bare revealing secrets taken to the grave thousands of years ago.
Subjecting the corpses to the most advanced scientific techniques, including sending the mummies to hospitals around London for CAT scans – the museum’s Egyptologists have been able to build up the most detailed picture yet of what lies beneath the sarcophagi and bandage-wrapped bodies.
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Iron Age woman's footless body found near West Knoyle

Along with the female skeleton were found the remains of a 10-year-old child and two males with sword wounds

A skeleton of an Iron Age woman with her feet chopped off has been discovered in a field in Wiltshire.
The remains were found along the A303, near West Knoyle, by archaeologists ahead of a new water main being laid.
Wessex Water said the woman's feet were found "reburied alongside her" along with the carcasses of at least two sheep or goats "on her head".
Peter Cox, from AC Archaeology, said: "We're unsure why - but it must have some link to beliefs at the time."
The female skeleton was found alongside the remains of a child aged about 10 and two males with sword wounds to their hips.
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3,000 Year Old Skeleton Reveals Most Compelling Look At Metastatic Cancer In Antiquity

Lytic lesion in the spinous process of the 5th thoracic vertebra – photo credit Durham University

A team of British archaeologists from the British Museum and Durham University have discovered what they report is the oldest known complete example in the world of a human with metastatic cancer in a 3,000 year-old skeleton unearthed in the Sudan. Their findings are reported in the academic journal PLOS ONE.
The skeleton of the young adult male was found by Durham University PhD student Michaela Binder in a tomb in modern Sudan in 2013 and dates back to 1200 BC. Analysis of the remains has revealed evidence that this person was afflicted with metastatic malignant soft-tissue carcinoma that had spread from its original location across large areas of the body, making it the oldest convincing complete example of metastatic cancer in the archaeological record. Only about 200 skeletons and mummified individuals from around the world have been reported with different primary and secondary malignancies.
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Ancient Skeleton Yields Earliest Complete Example of Human Cancer

Archaeologists have found the oldest complete example in the world of a human with metastatic cancer in a 3,000 year-old skeleton. 

The findings are reported in the academic journal PLOS ONE today (17 March, 2014).
The finding came from a skeleton of a young adult male found by a Durham University PhD student in a tomb in modern Sudan in 2013. Dating back to 1200 BCE, it was estimated to be between 25-35 years old when he died and was found at the archaeological site of Amara West in northern Sudan, situated on the Nile, 750 km downstream of the country’s modern capital, Khartoum. It was buried extended on his back, within a badly deteriorated painted wooden coffin, and provided with a glazed faience amulet as a grave good.
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Cambridge University archaeologists find 'oldest' Roman irrigation system

It is thought the beds would have been used to grow grapes or asparagus

Excavations at a Cambridge University development have revealed what archaeologists believe is Britain's oldest-known Roman irrigation system.
Planting beds and pit wells were unearthed at the North West Cambridge site near Huntingdon Road.
Chris Evans from the university's archaeological unit said they dated from between 70 AD and 120 AD.
It was an "unparalleled discovery" and "effectively the first irrigation system we've seen", he said.
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Dig at Scottish Abbey yields 600 year old coins

Coins from the rules of Henry III and Edward I and II, minted in London between the 13th and 14th centuries, could have been the spoils of battle swiped from the pockets of the defeated English army at Bannockburn, say archaeologists investigating 17 acres of land around Cambuskenneth Abbey. 

Coins found at Cambuskenneth Abbey could be the spoils of war from the Battle of Bannockburn say archaeologists [Credit: © GUARD Archaeology] 

Working at one of the few places singled out in contemporary accounts of the Battle of Bannockburn, metal detectorists, geophysicists, historians and poets have been exploring the Abbey where Robert the Bruce kept his army’s baggage before the battle. Founded by David I in 1140 the site was originally known as the Abbey of St Mary of Stirling.

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The digital unwrapping of the Egyptian priest Neswaiu

How visitors to Stockholm's Medelhavsmuseet can now digitally unwrap the mummy of an Egyptian priest

In the 19th century and even later, there was no shortage of people eager to watch the unwrapping of an Egyptian mummy.
In 1908 in Manchester, some 500 people gathered in a lecture theatre to see prominent Egyptologist Margaret Murray supervise the unwrapping of a body from the Tomb of the Two Brothers from Manchester Museum's mummy collection.
As Egyptology and archaeology evolved, the destructive practise came to an end, but it didn't mean researchers and the public were any less curious about what lies within a mummy.
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Vatican library plans to digitise 82,000 of its most valuable manuscripts

A 1,600-year-old manuscript featuring the poems of Virgil is among the collection being digitised by the Vatican Apostolic Library with the help of a Japanese IT firm

An illustration of the Dante's Divina Commedia realized by artist Sandro Botticelli in the XV century recently digitalised Photo: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana/Reuters

A rare Roman manuscript featuring the poems of Virgil dating back to 400AD is among thousands of historic items the Vatican’s library plans to publish online.
Vatican Apostolic Library, founded in 1451 and considered one of the world’s most important research libraries, is hoping in the next four years to archive its entire collection of 82,000 manuscripts, comprising more than 41 million pages.
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Monday, March 17, 2014

The Staffordshire Hoard - Unveiling the story so far

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found. In this film we find out about the first stage of conservation work on the artefacts …and what secrets have been revealed.

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Diving into archaeology

Only the foundations of the former basilica remain under Lake Iznik

The rubble-strewn remains of a 1,600-year-old basilica, dedicated to St Neophytos, have been discovered under Lake Iznik in Turkey’s northwestern Bursa province. Though located only 20 metres from the shore, and at a depth of around 2 metres, the basilica’s existence was unknown until January, when aerial photographs of the area were taken as part of a project to record local historic monuments. A diving team has now investigated the submerged structure and, due to similarities with the Hagia Sophia church in Iznik, experts have dated it to the fourth or fifth centuries. They have suggested it was built on the spot where Roman soldiers martyred St Neophytos in AD303; occurrences of the saint’s name have been found nearby and Medieval engravings show the saint being killed on the edge of a lake. It is thought an earthquake in AD740 caused the basilica to collapse and sink under the lake. The future of the site now rests in the hands of Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry, who can designate it a protected site or open it up to recreational divers.

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Still discovering things about the Ghajn Tuffieha Roman baths

The Roman baths along the road from Mġarr to Gћajn Tuffieћa were unearthed by accident in 1929, but archaeologists and other experts are still discovering things at the site.
So said the deputy leader of excavations, Heritage Malta’s David Caruana, who was speaking at a lecture organised by Din l-Art Ħelwa last week.
The baths were discovered when workers were digging down to pass a conduit to enable the flow of water to water the fields. A certain Mr Rizzo, presumably their foreman, informed Sir Temi Zammit that, under some three feet of soil, they had discovered remains that they thought were archaeological.
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9,000-year-old 'ritual wand' discovered

Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient “wand” carved with two realistic human faces in southern Syria, Live Science reported.

The roughly 9,000-year-old artifact was discovered near a graveyard where the bodies of 30 people were buried without their heads, which were found in a nearby area.

"The find is very unusual. It's unique," said study co-author Frank Braemer, an archaeologist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France.

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Win a Free App from our Friends at Touch Press

Win The Pyramids for iPad! 

We would like to offer you the exciting chance to win a free copy of the app The Pyramids from our friends at Touch Press

With this stunning and stimulating app, you can explore the incredible pyramids and tombs of ancient Egypt. Fly around the plateau where the pyramids and the Sphinx are located at Giza near Cairo. Enter and wander around the labyrinthine tombs and passageways. Examine stunning wall paintings in incredible detail, rotate royal statues and spin 3D objects. Everything has been painstakingly recreated from ultra high-resolution digital imagery captured on location in Egypt by Sandro Vannini, the world’s greatest photographer of archaeological sites and antiquities.

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More on Burials in Greece linked to Macedonian kings

The director of the 17th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities Angeliki Kottaridi believes that the five tombs discovered in Vergina could belong to members of the Temenid dynast or even King Cassander himself. Mrs. Kottaridi made the bold revelation at the Thursday afternoon conference at the University of Thessaloniki. 

Funeral mourning representation found after excavations at the Royal Necropolis of Aegae, Vergina [Credit: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ/ΥΠΠΟ/STR] 

Cassander was one of Alexander the Great’s successors and husband to his sister, Thessaloniki, who established the Antipatrid dynasty. King Cassander became known for his hostility towards the memory of Alexander the Great and he is credited with changing the name of Therma to Thessaloniki. 

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Greek Island of Santorini Volcano Erupted in 16th Century

According to a recent international study, the volcano of the island Santorini, Greece, erupted in the 16th century BC and not earlier. The survey characterized a number of research studies that took place in the past and have indicated that Santorini’s volcano may have erupted a century earlier, as unreliable because the method based on tree-ring measurements that they used, could not provide them with accurate results.
An international team of researchers led by Paolo Cherubini from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) has demonstrated in the scientific journal Antiquity, that this method cannot provide reliable results. The scientists show that the14C dating of individual pieces of olive wood enveloped by volcanic ash is too unreliable for precise dating.
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Archaeologists in Denmark make smelly discovery

Archaeologists made a stunning, if not stinky discovery during their excavations of I Vilhelm Werners square in Odense on Funen. 

The dig, which is ongoing and one of the largest urban archaeological excavations in Danish history, uncovered a number of barrels containing human excrement [Credit: Facebook/infoboksen] 

The digs revealed numerous latrine barrels dating back to the 1300s and still filled with their intended content, proving – among other things – that human excrement still has a putrid odour even if it is centuries old. 

Many of the barrels, which were found during 2013, are in excellent condition and their contents can provide a unique insight into the dietary habits of people living some seven hundred years ago.

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Africans' ability to digest milk linked to spread of cattle raising

A cattle herder drives his animals in Tanzania. The study linked the spread of pastoralism with the ability to digest milk.  Credit: University of Pennsylvania

Babies are born with the ability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk, but most humans lose this ability after infancy because of declining levels of the lactose-digesting enzyme lactase. People who maintain high levels of lactase reap the nutritive benefits of milk, however, offering a potential evolutionary advantage to lactase persistence, or what is commonly known as lactose tolerance.

A new study led by University of Pennsylvania researchers -- constituting the largest examination ever of lactase persistence in geographically diverse populations of Africans -- investigated the genetic origins of this trait and offers support to the idea that the ability to digest milk was a powerful selective force in a variety of African populations which raised cattle and consumed the animals' fresh milk.

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Northampton Project Angel reveals town's medieval past

Three "star finds" have been discovered by archaeologists at a dig on the site for Northamptonshire County Council's forthcoming new £43m headquarters. 

The site is being surveyed before building work begins on a new council headquarters [Credit: Mola/NCC] 

The excavation in Fetter Street, Northampton, has revealed the remains of a medieval bread oven, an early 13th Century well shaft and trading tokens. 

Jim Brown, from the Museum of London Archaeology, said the 12th Century oven suggested "a settlement nearby".

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

British Museum's Warren Cup branded a forgery

A Roman silver drinking vessel that depicts two sets of male lovers is one of the most prized jewels in the British Museum, singled out by director Neil MacGregor for his critically acclaimed History of the World in 100 Objects. 

The British Museum says the Warren Cup dates from the 1st century AD 
[Credit:: Martin Godwin/Guardian] 

But on Wednesday, 15 years after the British Museum bought the Warren Cup for £1.8m, a highly respected German archaeologist suggested it could be a forgery. 

At a public debate staged by King's College London, Prof Luca Giuliani challenged the museum's view that it dates from the 1st century AD.

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Natural Selection Led To Different Features In Europeans As Recent As 5,000 Years Ago, According To Researchers

An increasing volume of archaeological research and effort has come to focus particularly on the genetic evolution and development of human beings since the last Ice Age. While the last glacial period ended about 10,000 years ago, promising, new research suggests that substantial evolution of the human species can now be evidenced even in peoples from as recently as 5,000 years ago — a relative blink of an eye in geological terms — thanks to cutting-edge analyses of skeletons unearthed on the European continent.
The new findings are the result of a team of scientists from around the world from different academic disciplines, forming an interdisciplinary research team that has been able to uncover new insights into some of the most recent evolutionary changes to the human species. Anthropologists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), geneticists at University College London (UCL), and archaeologists from Berlin and Kiev all collaborated in a study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealing that ancient DNA from these European skeletons shows the impact of natural selection on the human genome as “recently” as the past 5,000 years, resulting in a rapid, dramatic change of appearance in people on a continent that is now dominated by a heterogenous mixture of different physical traits in an otherwise small geographical area.
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Laser and radar unveil the secrets of Roman bridges

3D model of the Roman bridge of Segura, on the border between Spain and Portugal.
Credit: Grupo de Geotecnologías Aplicadas (UVigo)

Dscovering hidden arches, visualising the sloped outline characteristic of the medieval period, finding a Renaissance engraving on a Roman arch or detecting restorations: these are some of the results that have been obtained by researchers at the University of Vigo (Spain) in their study of more than 80 Roman and medieval bridges. The assessment was carried out with the help of a ground-penetrating radar, a laser scanner and mathematical models, technology that benefit conservation.

In recent years, UNESCO and other organisations concerned with the conservation of cultural heritage have underlined the importance of using non-destructive methods to document monuments´ characteristics and evaluate their state of conservation.

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Burials in Greece linked to Macedonian kings

A Greek archaeologist says she has discovered 20 new burials near Macedonia's ancient capital in northern Greece, and some could tentatively be associated with the early Macedonian kings. 

Five new royal tombs have come to light during excavations at the royal necropolis of Aegae, in Northern Greece [Credit: Greek Reporter] 

Excavator Angeliki Kottaridi says two of the poorly preserved graves excavated in a cemetery between 2012-2013 "might perhaps be linked" with Alexander I and his son, Perdiccas II. 

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Architecture That Shook Oxford

Throughout history, new buildings have changed the way Oxford looks and how its residents behave. Whether their aesthetic was met with contempt, their purpose divided opinion, or — in the case of the Cutteslowe Walls — they even physically divided social classes, manmade structures have left a tangible imprint on the city and its inhabitants.

In the final video in the series, Archivist of Christ Church Judith Curthoys discusses Oxford's grandest college, and its unusual foundation – first by a cardinal, then by a King. 

You can find the rest of this article here...

Judith Curthoys will be teaching a course 'Christ Church Revisited – An Archival History' in week five of the Oxford Experience (Sun 3 to Sat 9 Aug 2014) you can find details of the course here...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Royal settlement linked to Sutton Hoo treasures

Finds from Rendlesham in Suffolk will go on display for the first time this week at the National Trust's Sutton Hoo visitor centre

The burial mound at Sutton Hoo, one of Britain's most important archaeological sites, where Anglo-saxon treasures were found. Photograph: Garry Weaser/The Guardian

The home of the Anglo-Saxons who built the world famous burial mounds at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, where a king was laid with golden treasure heaped around him, has been discovered on nearby farmland a few miles from the site.
The finds from Rendlesham, which will go on display for the first time this week at the National Trust's Sutton Hoo visitor centre, include fragments of exquisite gold jewellery comparable in workmanship, if not in scale, to the Sutton Hoo treasures, pieces of gilt bronze horse harness, Saxon pennies and metal offcuts from a blacksmith's workshop.
The 50-hectare (123.5-acre) site, four miles north-east of Sutton Hoo, was discovered by archaeologists after a local landowner, Sir Michael Bunbury, became concerned about nighthawks – treasure-hunting thieves who use metal detectors. The archaeology unit of Suffolk county council has for five years been surveying his fields, using aerial photography, soil analysis, ground-penetrating radar and metal detecting, eventually pin pointing the 50 hectare Anglo Saxon site within 160 hectares of farmland.
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Royal Anglo-Saxon settlement found

The excavation in the 1930s of the Sutton Hoo site in Suffolk

A lost settlement which housed the Anglo-Saxon royalty who created the famous Sutton Hoo burial mounds has been unearthed.
Archaeologists say they have found conclusive evidence of the high-status settlement in fields near the village of Rendlesham, Suffolk.
It is thought fragments of gold jewellery, Saxon pennies and weights associated with trade, are evidence of the "the king's country-seat of Rendlesham" mentioned by the Venerable Bede in the 8th century.
Professor Christopher Scull, of Cardiff University and University College London said: "The survey has identified a site of national and indeed international importance for the understanding of the Anglo-Saxon elite and their European connections.
"The quality of some of the metalwork leaves no doubt that it was made for and used by the highest ranks of society.
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