Sunday, March 20, 2016

Unique jewellery from the British Isles found in Danish Viking grave

A Danish Viking burial site contains a buckle that may have come from Ireland or Scotland.

 The history of this bronze buckle might share some light on just how “global” the Vikings were. (Photo: Ernst Stidsing)

At just 6 cm in diameter, this little buckle is causing quite a stir in archaeological circles.

The small gilt bronze buckle once held a petticoat together and was buried between 900 and 1,000 years ago with its female owner in a Viking grave in west Denmark.

It is a rare find for Denmark, as the buckle appears to have come from Scotland or Ireland.
But just to determine this has been quite a journey, says project manager and archaeologist Ernst Stidsing, from the Museum East Jutland, Denmark.

The find is described in a collection of articles "Dead and buried in the Viking Age", published by Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Lost forest language to be taught in Swedish preschool

Elfdalian, a rare Viking language, is getting a revival after local politicians agreed to build a new preschool in Älvdalen, the small forest community that still uses it.

While its name might conjure up images from Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, Elfdalian is a real language that is believed to date back to Viking times and is in danger of becoming extinct.
Fewer than 60 children can currently speak Elfdalian, but politicians in the remote town of Älvdalen in central Sweden have this week voted to try to save it, by setting up a new preschool where it will be taught. Pupils who begin learning the language aged six will keep it as part of their curriculum until they turn 18.
"The decision was made yesterday that they will start to build the preschool," Lotte Andersson, a press spokesperson for the municipality, confirmed to The Local on Wednesday.

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Italian town 'forgets' Roman theatre found under ex-factory

An ancient Roman amphitheatre, in the town of Fano, in the Marche region, is slowly rotting away beneath an abandoned factory from the early 1900s.

“The original builders most probably knew what they were building on, but they were different times,” Fano engineer Salvatore Vittorio Russo told Corriere della Sera.

Today, laws prohibit sites of archaeological interest from being developed, something the building's owners – a consortium of local businessmen - discovered to their chargin.
Fifteen years ago they gained permission to turn the uncovered 1,830 square-metre ex-factory into 22 apartments.

“Before the project could get underway the council asked to perform a geophysical scan and found the remains of the theatre under the factory floor,” Russo explained.

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New light shed on life of Sweden's King Erik

The saint's legend speaks of a king who died a dramatic death in battle outside the church in Uppsala, Sweden, where he had just celebrated mass. But what can modern science tell us about his remains? A joint research project headed by Uppsala University now reveals more of the health condition of Saint Erik, what he looked like, where he lived and what the circumstances of his death were. New light shed on life of Sweden's King Erik 

On April 23, 2014, the reliquary was opened at a ceremony in Uppsala Cathedral. After this, researchers from several scientific disciplines set to work running tests on the remains in an attempt to learn more about the medieval king [Credit: Mikael Wallerstedt] 

No contemporary sources mention Erik Jedvardsson, the Swedish king who was later sainted. The only account of his life is the saint's legend, in its preserved form written in the 1290's. Such legends are often unreliable. The Erik legend is, however, based on an older legend which has been lost, and this longer legend may have been much older. 

The preserved legend says that Erik was chosen to be king, ruled fairly, was a devoted Christian, led a crusade against Finland, and supported the Church. He was killed in 1160, in his tenth year of rule, by a Danish claimant to the throne. His remains have rested in a reliquary since 1257.

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After 250 years, ‘lost’ rune stone found at Dane's home

Experts were able to match the runes to a 1767 drawing. 
Photo: Lisbeth Imer, National Museum of Denmark

A rune stone likely dating back to around the year 1000 has been discovered in northern Denmark, some 250 years after it was last seen, the National Museum of Denmark said on Thursday.

Researchers had long since given up hope of ever recovering the lost Viking artefact when a farmer contacted Museum Thy in November to say that he had a large stone with some stripes on it in his back yard that he thought experts might want to see. 
The museum’s archaeologist Charlotte Boje Andersen and runologist Lisbeth Imer from the National Museum visited the farmer this week and were absolutely shocked by what they found.

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1,100 year-old Denmark crucifix ‘may change history’

A cross discovered by an amateur Danish archaeologist may "change history" according to an expert, who believes the cross may date from before Christianity is thought to have reached Denmark.

An amateur archaeologist on the island of Funen made a startling discovery last week – a necklace resembling Jesus on the cross. But after posting a picture of the discovery on Facebook, Dennis Fabricius Holm quickly found that the item may have a lot more significance than he had initially thought.

“I finished work early last Friday, so I decided to spend a couple of hours searching with my metal detector,” Holm told national broadcaster DR.

“Suddenly I hit upon something,” continued Holm. “Ever since I turned over the clump of earth and saw the cross, I’ve been unable to think of anything else.”

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Ancient puppy's brain is 'well preserved'... as dog bares its teeth after 12,400 years

Scientists revealed today that they have found the first-ever well preserved brain of a Pleistocene canid. Our exclusive video and pictures show the autopsy on a carcass of a suspected pet puppy found mummified close to what are believed to be signs of human activity in the Ust-Yansky district of the Sakha Republic - also known as Yakutia - on a steep bank of the River Syalakh.

Present at the examination of the remains in regional capital Yakutsk was Hwang Woo-suk, the pioneering South Korean professor who is actively involved in seeking to clone woolly mammoths and other extinct creatures. The ancient dog is now added to the list of animals he wants to bring back to life.

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Warrior king uncovered at east Yorkshire iron age settlement

The well-preserved remains were unearthed at a 2,500-year-old site in Pocklington, described as being of international significance

A spear head found at Pocklington. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/PA 

A warrior king buried almost 2,500 years ago has been discovered in an iron-age settlement unearthed at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds. The remains of the burial ground is being hailed as one of the largest and most significant iron age finds of recent times.

In 2014 a housing developer stumbled upon the fossil site in the small market town of Pocklington in east Yorkshire, a find that is said to be of extreme “national and international significance”.

One of the most exciting discoveries was the “remarkably” well-preserved remains of a youthful warrior. Found in the cemetery and dated to 800BC he had been ritually speared to “release his spirit” and lay in the ground next to his sword.

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British Buckle Found in Danish Viking Grave

A gilt bronze buckle dating to more than 1,000 years ago has been found buried with a woman in a Viking grave in west Denmark. Determining the origin of the 2.4-inch-wide buckle has been a major challenge, according to archaeologist Ernst Stidsing of the Museum of East Jutland. Stidsing sent photos of the buckle to a colleague who was stumped and who sent them on to other experts. They agreed that it was from the British Isles, but were divided on exactly which part—some said Ireland, others the south of Scotland. They agreed, however, that the disc was originally a decoration on a religious box and was only used as a buckle after it was stolen.

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35,000-year-old carving of bird found in SW France

In advance of the construction of the eastern Bergerac bypass route (Dordogne), the preventive excavation realized by Inrap at the open-air doline site of Cantalouette revealed prehistoric occupations from the Middle Paleolithic and Neolithic periods. Iluminada Ortega and Laurence Bourguignon of Inrap, along with their Spanish colleagues, have announced in the Journal of Archaeological Science Reports, the discovery of an Aurignacian art object, 35,000 – 31,000 years old. This object, depicting a bird, contributes to our knowledge of the origins of figurative art. 35,000-year-old carving of bird found in SW France 

The bird engraving was found at the Aurignacian open-air site, Cantalouette II (Dordogne, France) [Credit: © Iluminada Ortega, Joseba Rios-Garaizar, Diego Garate Maidagan, Juan Arizaga, Laurence Bourguignon. Denis Gliksman, Inrap] 

This depiction is very distinct and probably unique in the Aurignacian period, during which Modern Humans arrived in western Europe. It is exceptional in its degree of naturalism, the nature of its support—the cortex (limestone coating) of a flint flake—and the engraving technique used. This “sunk relief” technique was identified through microscopic and 3D analyses realized at Cenieh (Burgos, Spain).

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Archéologie à Lille : aux origines du quartier de Fives

La fouille révèle une occupation du site du Ier siècle avant notre ère au XVIIIe siècle. L’époque moderne est marquée par la présence successive d’un château défensif puis résidentiel. Couplées à des recherches en archives, ces découvertes contribuent à une meilleure connaissance des abords de Lille et la vie quotidienne de ses habitants.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Ancient DNA identifies 'early Neanderthals'

The relationship of the Pit specimens to other ancient species has been the subject of debate

The oldest "nuclear DNA" from a human has identified some early representatives of the Neanderthal lineage.

The well-preserved ancient remains from the "Pit of Bones" site in Spain have been known for more than three decades.

They are about 400,000 years old, but their relationships to Neanderthals and other ancient relatives has been hotly debated.

DNA analysis confirms that they lie on the evolutionary line to Neanderthals.

The results are published in the journal Nature.

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The Ides of March: The assassination of Julius Caesar and how it changed the world

Caesar's death paved the way for the Roman empire after a bloody cycle of civil wars, and secured him the hallowed immortality he always craved

 Spurinna was a haruspex. His calling was vital, if a little unusual, requiring him to see the future in the warm entrails of sacrificial animals.

At the great festival of Lupercalia on the 15th of February 44 B.C., he was a worried man. While priests were running around the Palatine Hill hitting women with thongs to make them fertile, Spurinna was chewing over a terrible omen.  

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Story of cities #2: Rome wasn't planned in a day … in fact it wasn't planned at all

An 18th-century painting of The Martyr of Saint Agnes in the Roman Forum, with the hills behind. Photograph: Active Museum/Alamy Stock Photo 

The grid system which the Roman republic exported all over Europe was never employed in the capital itself. The city has always lacked a coherent plan – save for the monumental temple that once towered over it

According to Tacitus, perhaps the greatest of all Roman historians, it was the great temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill that held the key to the future of ancient Rome.

Writing about a fire at the temple in AD69, Tacitus assumed the conflagration would embolden the enemy Gauls into thinking they might finally conquer the city, such was the symbolism of the temple. “This fatal conflagration has given proof from heaven of the divine wrath,” he wrote, “and presages the passage of sovereignty of the world to the peoples beyond the Alps.”

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Wythenshawe Hall fire: Manchester Tudor stately home's roof destroyed

Emergency service vehicles gather after an overnight fire caused extensive damage to the roof and first floor of the 16th century Tudor Hall of Wythenshawe Hall, near Manchester. Photo: REUTERS/Phil Noble

 Dozens of firefighters have been battling to save a historic Tudor mansion after a blaze destroyed its roof and first floor.

Wythenshawe Hall, a timber-framed former stately home turned museum and art gallery, has been badly damaged in the fire early on Tuesday.

The fire broke out in the roof of the 16th Cenbtury building, near Manchester, at just after 3.30am. No one was inside or hurt, but firefighters said they were "doing everything we can" to save the property. 

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Fire causes devastating damage to Manchester's Wythenshawe Hall

Firefighters investigating cause of blaze that badly damaged roof and clock tower of historic 16th-century Tudor mansion

A fire has torn through a Tudor mansion in Manchester, causing “devastating” damage.

At its peak more than 50 firefighters using 10 appliances and an aerial platform battled the blaze at Wythenshawe Hall. The flames badly damaged the 16th-century building’s clock tower and its roof after fire broke out in the early hours on Tuesday, Greater Manchester fire and rescue service said.

The blaze was later brought under control and the area manager, Warren Pickstone, said firefighters were investigating the cause with Greater Manchester police. 

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Restoration of 9th century Spanish castle mocked

Work on a ninth century Spanish castle has been labelled the world’s worst restoration project by locals who have slammed it as a “disaster”. 

A major facelift on a ninth century Spanish castle has been labelled the world's  worst restoration project by locals who have slammed it as a 'wreck'  [Credit: Pedro Sanchez] 

Castillo de Matrera in Cádiz in southern Spain is a listed building and an official site of cultural interest which has withstood assaults by Moors and Christians but seems to have finally succumbed to restoration work. 

The beautiful building had needed structural work after part of it collapsed following heavy rains but bosses hired a local building firm rather than archaeological experts to carry out the work. 

They used grey concrete to fill in and square off the crumbling, sand coloured stone, with locals now saying the ancient fortress looks ‘absolutely terrible’ and is ‘a disaster of a project’.

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Archaeological dig planned as metal detectorist discovers untouched Bronze Age burial mound

Copper-alloy socketed chisel and fragment of a copper alloy dagger, found by metal detectorists at the site of the previously unknown Barrow, and dating to the Middle to Late Bronze Age
© Stuart Noon

Dig Ventures is planning its next crowd-funded archaeological dig following a major Bronze Barrow discovery by an amateur archaeologist

An untouched Bronze Age burial mound is a rare thing in the archaeological landscape of Britain, but in a sleepy corner of the North West a metal detectorist’s chance discovery is about to trigger a major dig that archaeologists hope will uncover more secrets of our pre-historic ancestors. 

Archaeology crowdfunding platform, DigVentures, has launched a campaign to excavate the rare unexplored Bronze Age barrow in what will be the first scientific excavation of an undisturbed burial mound from the period in the region in over 50 years.

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The collagen from the Neanderthals’ bones offers clues to their diet. © Bocherens

Scientists from the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (HEP) in Tübingen have studied the Neanderthals’ diet. Based on the isotope composition in the collagen from the prehistoric humans’ bones, they were able to show that, while the Neanderthals’ diet consisted primarily of large plant eaters such at mammoths and rhinoceroses, it also included vegetarian food. The associated studies were recently published in the scientific journals “Journal of Human Evolution” and “Quaternary International.”

The paleo-diet is one of the new trends among nutrition-conscious people – but what exactly did the meal plan of our extinct ancestors include? “We have taken a detailed look at the Neanderthals’ diet,” explains Professor Dr. Hervé Bocherens of the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tübingen, and he continues, “In the process, we were able to determine that the extinct relatives of today’s humans primarily fed on large herbivorous mammals such as mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses.”

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Satellites and Shipwrecks: Landsat Satellite Spots Foundered Ships in Coastal Waters

In this natural color Landsat OLI image, long sediment plumes extend from the wreck sites of the SS Sansip and SS Samvurn.
Insets show elevation models (created by a multibeam echosounder) of the wrecks on the seafloor.
Credits: NASA/USGS Landsat/Jesse Allen/NASA Earth Observatory/Matthias Baeye et al

An estimated 3 million shipwrecks are scattered across the planet’s oceans. Most maritime mishaps take place close to shore where hazards to navigation — such as rocks, reefs, other submerged objects and vessel congestion — are abundant. While there is a romantic association of shipwrecks and buried treasure, it is desirable to know where they are located for many other practical reasons. The ships may be of historical significance or, if the hard substrate of the ship has created a reef, of ecological significance. Modern-era shipwrecks are also commonly sources of pollution, leaking onboard fuel and corroded heavy metals. Nearshore shipwrecks can be navigational hazards themselves.

Researchers have found that shipwrecks near the coast can leave sediment plumes at the sea’s surface that help reveal their location. Using data from the NASA/USGS Landsat 8 satellite, researchers have detected plumes extending as far as 4 kilometers (about 2.5 miles) downstream from shallow shipwreck sites. This discovery demonstrates for the first time how Landsat and Landsat-like satellites may be used to locate the watery graves of coastal shipwrecks.

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Roadworks uncover lost medieval Scottish village

Motorway construction workers have unearthed archaeological artefacts which experts believe may be from a lost medieval Scots village. 

Artists impression of the lost village of Cadzow  [Credit: Transport Scotland] 

The crew made the discovery 18-months ago on the verge of the M74, near J6, opposite Hamilton Services. 

It included two structures, coins and pieces of pottery and smoking pipes. 

Archaeologist believe they may be more than 1,000 years old and could finally identify the location of the lost village of Cadzow. Cadzow was the name given to a community on the edge of the River Clyde at this location until 1445.

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Sunday, March 06, 2016

Cologne celebrates its ancient Roman heritage

Jesus was a toddler gingerly taking his first steps into the wider world when the Romans built the walls of their fortress in Cologne. 2,010 years later it’s still standing, and has just been given a makeover.

 Not only is the six-meter-high wall the oldest stone structure in Germany, it’s the oldest north of the Alps, Markus Trier, director of the Roman-German Museum boasted on Friday.

While the people of the Orkney Islands in Scotland - where the stone walls of Skara Brae date back to 3,100 BC - might have something to say about that claim, the reopening of the wall will provide a welcome boost to Cologne’s tourism after a series of negative headlines for the city in recent months.

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New tools to map, protect underwater treasures

Our seas and oceans are home to a tremendous amount of archaeological sites and artefacts. These invaluable witnesses to history are often difficult to locate, and even then experts are still faced with the question of whether to conserve them in situ or bring them to the surface. The SASMAP project has developed tools and technologies that will help solve both conundrums. 

New tech and tools to map, protect underwater treasures Diver investigating a wreck in the Baltic Sea [Credit: neatorama] 

The value of underwater cultural heritage no longer needs to be proven. According to UNESCO estimates, some 3 million ships wrecks are spread across the world’s ocean floors. And that’s without counting submerged heritage sites: In Denmark alone, where the ‘UNESCO Scientific Colloquium on the Access to Underwater Cultural Heritage’ will take place from 8 to 9 June 2016, around 20 000 sites can be found. It therefore comes as no surprise that the National Museum of Denmark, as coordinator of the SASMAP project, set out to help archaeologists to better map and protect these hidden treasures.
Our seas and oceans are home to a tremendous amount of archaeological sites and artefacts. These invaluable witnesses to history are often difficult to locate, and even then experts are still faced with the question of whether to conserve them in situ or bring them to the surface. The SASMAP project has developed tools and technologies that will help solve both conundrums. New tech and tools to map, protect underwater treasures Diver investigating a wreck in the Baltic Sea [Credit: neatorama] The value of underwater cultural heritage no longer needs to be proven. According to UNESCO estimates, some 3 million ships wrecks are spread across the world’s ocean floors. And that’s without counting submerged heritage sites: In Denmark alone, where the ‘UNESCO Scientific Colloquium on the Access to Underwater Cultural Heritage’ will take place from 8 to 9 June 2016, around 20 000 sites can be found. It therefore comes as no surprise that the National Museum of Denmark, as coordinator of the SASMAP project, set out to help archaeologists to better map and protect these hidden treasures.

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Ancient Roman Puzzle Gets New Piece

This is the latest addition to an ancient Roman map puzzle.

A fragment of the world’s oldest and largest unsolved jigsaw puzzle, a 2,200-year-old map of Rome made of thousands of marble fragments, has been finally reunited to the other existing pieces, according to the Rome Cultural Heritage Superintendency.

Connecting to a large piece discovered in 1562, the new fragment bears an inscription that completes the word “Circus Flaminius.”

The map, known as Forma Urbis Romae, was carved into marble slabs between 203 and 211 A.D., during the rule of the emperor Septimius Severus.

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31 intact burials unearthed at large Mycenaean cemetery

An extensive Mycenaean cemetery with 31 undisturbed burials containing numerous items of jewellery and several different types of ceramic vases, including 12 ornate Mycenaean drinking cups or kylikes, has been unearthed by Greek archaeologists at the Loggas site near Elati in Kozani (Macedonia), a short distance from ancient Aiani. 31 intact burials unearthed in large Mycenaean cemetery 

View of the excavation of the Mycenaean cemetery near Elati, Macedonia 
[Credit: Georgia Karamitrou-Mentesidi via Ethnos] 

"The Mycenaean presence in Upper Macedonia is now well established by the discovery of several settlement types throughout the region", says archaeologist Georgia Karamitrou-Mentesidi.

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Did Henry VIII suffer same brain injury as some NFL players?

Detail of portrait of Henry VIII by the workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger. 
(Google Art Project)

Henry VIII may have suffered repeated traumatic brain injuries similar to those experienced by football players and others who receive repeated blows to the head, according to research by a Yale University expert in cognitive neurology.

Traumatic brain injury explains the memory problems, explosive anger, inability to control impulses, headaches, insomnia — and maybe even impotence — that afflicted Henry during the decade before his death in 1547, according to a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience on Feb. 5.

“It is intriguing to think that modern European history may have changed forever because of a blow to the head,” said Arash Salardini, behavioral neurologist, co-director of the Yale Memory Clinic and senior author of the study.

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Ancient Roman sites face rat emergency

A ticket desk for the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill was closed on Wednesday due to a reported rat emergency that has hit the area and the Palazzo Massimo museum near Rome's central Termini station, Archaeology Superintendent Francesco Prosperetti said. 

Ancient Roman sites face rat emergency Roman Forum ticket desk closed by drips of rodent blood [Credit: TANN] 

Prosperetti said it was a "big problem" that the superintendency "cannot address" on its own. "A rat got trapped in a gap on the roof and the staff member who was working there saw blood drip on the desk," Prosperetti said when asked why part of a new ticket office was closed despite long queues.

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Einzigartiges römisches Priesterinnengrab

Archäologische Landesausstellung im LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn zeigt spektakuläre Ausgrabungen der letzten fünf Jahre in NRW 

Es ist einer der archäologischen Sensationsfunde der letzten Jahre: acht künstlerisch sehr hochwertige Reliefdarstellungen von Götterbüsten aus Schildpatt (Schildkrötenpanzer), die ein Kästchen aus dem 2. Jahrhundert n. Chr. zierten. Gemeinsam mit weiteren, teils geheimnisvollen Grabbeigaben wurden sie von einem archäologischen Team des Landschaftverbandes Rheinland (LVR) 2013 in einem Frauengrab auf dem Gelände eines römischen Landguts bei Erkelenz (Erkelenz-Borschemich) freigelegt. Diese und weitere spektakuläre Funde aus den letzten fünf Jahren archäologischer Ausgrabungen und Forschung in Nordrhein-Westfalen sind derzeit in der Archäologischen Landesausstellung NRW nur noch bis zum 3. April im LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn zu sehen.

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Joan of Arc ring returned to France

Joan of Arc is thought to have handed the ring to England's Cardinal Henry Beaufort on the eve of her execution in 1431 Photo: CASCADE NEWS

A ring believed to have belonged to Joan of Arc is being returned to France for the first time in 600 years after being sold at auction for almost £300,000. 
The ring was bought by the Puy du Fou foundation, which runs a historical theme park in France, at auction in London for around 30 times its estimate. 
The Puy foundation said the ring's return to France was highly symbolic.
The news was greeted by those on the Far Right in France, for whom this has become something of a cause célèbre. 
Front National leader Marine le Penn sent a thank you message on Twitter to Philippe de Villiers, the founder of Puy du Fou, for bringing the ring back to France.

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The images of chimps thrilled me: do they show evidence of spirituality in the wild?

A ritual with rocks observed in a study in Guinea has profound implications for our relationship with the animal kingdom 

A young chimp collects rocks in a hollow tree trunk. Photograph: Kühl

A fter more than half a century of scientists studying chimpanzees in the wild, it was easy to think there were no surprises left. But there it was, right before our eyes – a new behaviour in our biological next of kin. We were a group of six on a field mission in the Republic of Guinea, investigating all aspects of a previously unstudied chimp community. These chimps didn’t enjoy the comforts of a protected area, but instead eked out their existence in what little habitat was left between expanding farms and villages.

The day of the discovery began as any other, struggling through the thorny African savannah while swatting away the sweat bees thirsty for our perspiration. We were surveying the area, looking for signs of chimps. We came to a stop at a clearing in the bush. I was relieved. It gave me a chance to untangle the thorns caught in my hair. But why had we stopped?

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Friday, March 04, 2016

Was Viking ruler Rollo Danish or Norwegian?

Norwegian researches opened a tomb containing the remains of descendants of Viking leader Rollo in Normandy, France on Monday with the aim of putting an end to a centuries-long debate: was Rollo Danish or Norwegian? 

Norwegian researchers opened a tomb containing the remains of descendants of Viking leader Rollo in Normandy, France on Monday with the aim of putting an end to a centuries-long debate: was Rollo Danish or Norwegian?
“We have worked on investigating this for about seven years, so to finally obtain material that we can test for DNA is huge,” historian Sturla Ellingvåg told NTB.

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Anglo-Saxon 'island' settlement discovered

The remains of an Anglo-Saxon island have been uncovered in one of the most important archaeological finds in decades. 

Anglo-Saxon 'island' settlement discovered Liason officer Adam Daubney and metal detectorist Graham Vickers have discovered a 'significant' archaeological site [Credit: University of Sheffield] 

The island which was home to a Middle Saxon settlement was found at Little Carlton near Louth, Lincolnshire by archaeologists from the University of Sheffield. 

It is thought the site is a previously unknown monastic or trading centre but researchers believe their work has only revealed an enticing glimpse of the settlement so far.

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Travailler aux champs : la panoplie agricole antique de Saint-Clément

Les archéologues de l’Inrap ont découvert une panoplie d’outils agricoles du IIIe siècle, dans la cave incendiée d’une ferme antique à Saint-Clément (Yonne). Fouillé à l’automne 2015, sur prescription de l’État (Drac Bourgogne), dans le cadre de l’aménagement d’un lotissement par Brennus habitat, le site a livré d’intéressants vestiges de l’âge du Bronze et une partie de villa antique dont est issu cet important lot de mobilier métallique. Ce corpus unique livre quantité de renseignements sur l’organisation et le fonctionnement des fermes gallo-romaines.

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Stone-throwing chimps leave scientists stumped by ‘sacred shrine

Chimpanzees in the savannah of Guinea and the forests of Liberia have been captured picking up stones and throwing them at a tree as well as placing them gently at the base 

Chimpanzees in Guinea and the forests of Liberia have been observed picking up stones and throwing them at a tree as well as placing them gently at the base - behaviour that appeared to serve no purpose and could be evidence of "ritualistic behaviour" in animals. 
"What we saw on this camera was exhilarating – a large male chimp approaches our mystery tree and pauses for a second. He then quickly glances around, grabs a huge rock and flings it full force at the tree trunk," said Laura Kehoe, PhD researcher at Humboldt University of Berlin.
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Thursday, March 03, 2016


A poster of the 2015 archaeological excavations of the Early Byzantine and medieval fortress near Bulgaria’s Banya from the exhibition of the Panagyurishte Museum of History. 
Photo: Panagyurishte Museum of History

The first ever archaeological excavations of the Late Antiquity and Early Byzantine fortress known as “Kaleto" near the town of Banya, Panagyurishte Municipality, in Central Bulgaria, have found that the fortress was rebuilt and used in the 12th-14th century by the Second Bulgarian Empire (1186-1396 AD).

The 2015 excavations of the fortress near Banya were conducted by Assoc. Prof. Valeri Grigorov from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, together with Lyubka Todorova, archaeologist from the Pazardzhik Regional Museum of History, Georgi Abdulov, former Director of the Panagyurishte Museum of History, and Vasil Katsarev, curator at the same museum.

The artifacts discovered during the digs have now been showcased in a special exhibition of the Panagyurishte Museum of History entitled “Banya’s Kale – Archaeological Summer 2015", which was opened on March 1 in the Museum’s Archaeology Hall.

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Neanderthals collected manganese dioxide to make fire

Manganese dioxide is abundant in nature, and owing to their colour, these oxides have been used as pigments since the Stone Age. Some of the cave paintings in Lascaux, France, for example, were produced with manganese-based pigments. In a series of compositional analyses, scientists from Leiden University and Delft University of Technology conclude that Neanderthals at Pech-de-l'Azé I in South Western France had a strikingly different use for this mineral 50,000 years ago.

During excavations at several Neanderthal sites in France large numbers of small black 'blocs' where found. The usual interpretation is that these chunks of 'manganese oxides' were used for their colouring properties in body decoration, potentially even for symbolic expression. However Neanderthals habitually used fire and if they needed black material for decoration, soot and charcoal were readily available, whereas manganese oxides would have necessitated a considerably higher investment in both time and energy to obtain.

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Why Did Ancient Europeans Just Disappear 14,500 Years Ago?

The skull of a man who lived between 36,200 and 38,700 years ago in Kostenki in western Russia

Some of Europe's earliest inhabitants mysteriously vanished toward the end of the last ice age and were largely replaced by others, a new genetic analysis finds.
The finds come from an analysis of dozens of ancient fossil remains collected across Europe.
The genetic turnover was likely the result of a rapidly changing climate, which the earlier inhabitants of Europe couldn't adapt to quickly enough, said the study's co-author, Cosimo Posth, an archaeogenetics doctoral candidate at the University of Tübingen in Germany. [Top 10 Mysteries of the First Humans]
The temperature change around that time was "enormous compared to the climactic changes that are happening in our century," Posth told Live Science. "You have to imagine that also the environment changed pretty drastically."
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More "Polish pyramids" - new discoveries of archaeologists

More than a dozen hitherto unknown monumental megalithic tombs, have been discovered near Dolice (Western Pomerania) by archaeologists from Szczecin. They are so-called Kujawy tombs, often referred to as "Polish pyramids" because of their monumental character.
These ground structures were built in the shape of an elongated triangle and surrounded with huge stone blocks. The width of the base ranged from 6 to 15 meters and length reached 150 m. The structures reached a height of 3 m. The mounds usually contained single burials. Tombs were erected by the Funnel Beaker Culture community from the fifth to the third millennium BC According to archaeologists, people buried in these tombs were associated with the elders of the tribe and clan.

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Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter restored

The culmination of a one year project to restore the paleochristian frescoes that decorate the Roman catacombs of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter "ad duas lauros", was announced by the Vatican this week. 

The restored frescoes of the catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter 
[Credit: Alexey Gotovskiy/CNA] 

This initiative was the result of an agreement signed in June 2012 between the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology of the Vatican and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation (HAF) of Azerbaijan, which funded the project. 

Among the restored frescoes are those of the cubicle of Susanna and the fossor, the niche of Daniel, the arcosolium of Orpheus, the cubicle of Our Lady with two Magi, and the cubicle of the praying matron.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Remains of Anglo-Saxon island discovered in Lincolnshire village

The site in Lincolnshire (not pictured) is thought to have been a previously unknown monastic or trading centre. Photograph: Jon Boyes/incamerastock/Corbis

The remains of an Anglo-Saxon island have been uncovered in Lincolnshire in a significant find that has yielded an unusually wide array of artefacts. 

The island, once home to a Middle Saxon settlement, was found at Little Carlton near Louth, Lincolnshire, by archaeologists from the University of Sheffield after a discovery by a metal detectorist.

Graham Vickers came across a silver stylus, an ornate writing tool dating back to the 8th century, in a disturbed plough field. He reported his find and subsequently unearthed hundreds more artefacts, recording their placement with GPS, thus enabling archaeologists to build up a picture of the settlement below. 

The artefacts include another 20 styli, about 300 dress pins and a huge number of sceattas – coins from the 7th-8th centuries – as well as a unusual small lead tablet bearing the female Anglo-Saxon name “Cudberg”.

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