Thursday, April 28, 2016

All aboard! Nordic Viking ship ready for Atlantic voyage

The world's largest Viking ship in modern times is about to set sail across the Atlantic.
Named after Harald Hårfagre, the king who unified Norway in the 10th century, the ship's Swedish captain Björn Ahlander was originally supposed to have ordered the great dragon vessel to weigh anchor from Avaldsnes in Norway's Haugesund on Sunday, but the departure was delayed by bad weather.
And time is of the essence. Following in the historical tailwind of Leif Eriksson, the Viking thought to have discovered America centuries before Christopher Columbus, the ship has a long journey ahead, taking a route via Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland before it finally drops anchor in the United States.
"We've got one month because the only gap, if you don't want to battle low pressure and harsh winds, is May. That's your chance to make it across," Ahlander told the Swedish news agency TT on Monday.
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Stonehenge may have served as a cremation cemetery

Towering above the grassy Salisbury Plain, its eerie rock monoliths are steeped in myth and magical stories, yet despite decades of research, the original purpose of Stonehenge remains a mystery. 

Archaeologists excavated the burned bones that had been previously dug up from around  the site of Stonehenge during the 1920s. They say analysis suggests the site  was used as a cemetery
[Credit: Adam Stanford/Aerial-Cam Ltd] 

A new study by archaeologists, however, has suggested the imposing stone circle may have initially been used as a cremation cemetery for the dead. 

Charred remains discovered on the site were unearthed in holes - known as the Aubrey Holes - that have been found have to once held a circle of small standing stones. 

Fresh analysis of the burned bones has revealed they were buried in the holes over a period of 500 years between 3,100BC and 2,600BC.

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'Hugely important' haul of Roman coins found in Spain

Construction workers have unearthed 600kg of Roman bronze coins, a unique and "hugely important" discovery according to experts.

Routine building work in southern Spain unearthed a very unexpected find this week, when over 600kg of Roman coins were discovered.
The find is "unique in Spain and perhaps the world" experts said of the coins, which were stored in 19 Roman amphoras or containers.
"We have a team looking into the discovery right now, We believe it is hugely important and will have more information very soon," said a spokesman at Andalucia's Ministry of Culture in Seville told The Local on Thursday.
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The Viking Great Army in England: Torksey, treasure and towns

The Viking Great Army in England: Torksey, treasure and towns

Tuesday 3 May 2016, 5.30PM

Speaker: Julian Richards

From AD 865 to 879 a Viking army wreaked havoc on the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, leading to political conquest, settlement on a substantial scale, and extensive Scandinavian cultural and linguistic influences in eastern and northern England. This critical period for English history led to revolutionary changes in land ownership, society, and economy, including the growth of towns and industry, while transformations in power politics would ultimately see the rise of Wessex as the pre-eminent kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England. 

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‘Lost’ songs from Middle Ages brought back to life

An ancient song repertory will be heard for the first time in 1,000 years this week after being ‘reconstructed’ by a Cambridge researcher and a world-class performer of medieval music. 

Detail from the Cambridge Songs manuscript leaf that was stolen from and then recovered by Cambridge University Library [Credit: Cambridge University] 

‘Songs of Consolation’, to be performed at Pembroke College Chapel, Cambridge on April 23, is reconstructed from neumes (symbols representing musical notation in the Middle Ages) and draws heavily on an 11th century manuscript leaf that was stolen from Cambridge and presumed lost for 142 years. 

Saturday’s performance features music set to the poetic portions of Roman philosopher Boethius’ magnum opus The Consolation of Philosophy. One of the most widely-read and important works of the Middle Ages, it was written during Boethius’ sixth century imprisonment, before his execution for treason. Such was its importance, it was translated by many major figures, including King Alfred the Great, Chaucer and Elizabeth I.

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Rare statue could help unearth secrets of Long Melford’s Roman past

A rare find unearthed in a garden in Long Melford could point to the village being the “missing link” in a chain of Roman forts, it has been claimed.

A six inch tall figurine dating from the first or second century, known as a ‘pseudo Venus’, was dug up by volunteer archaeologists while they were working on a test pit at a property in the south of the village.
According to a county council archaeologist, the statue would have had religious significance and is a very “unusual” find.
Local heritage centre volunteers John Broughton, Kenneth Dodd and John Nunn came across the statue while they were carrying out a rescue dig in a garden that was due to be landscaped.
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Historic flint axes found in Denmark

The flint axes date back to the early Stone Age (photo: Viborg Museum)

A pair of old friends have found the largest flint axes in Danish history in a drained bog area near Tastum Lake just south of Skive in Jutland.
Archaeologists at nearby Viborg Museum theorise that the axes were placed in the bog as part of a ritual sacrifice sometime during the early Stone Age around 3800-3500 BC.
“It’s fascinating that they could master the flint and produce such a perfect axe,” said Mikkel Kieldsen, an archaeologist and curator at Viborg Museum.
“A lot of effort has been put into the axes, so the sacrifice must have really meant something.”
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Researchers investigate world’s oldest human footprints with software designed to decode crime scenes

Researchers at Bournemouth University have developed a new software technique to uncover 'lost' tracks, hidden in plain sight at the world's oldest human footprint site in Laetoli (Tanzania). The software has revealed new information about the shape of the tracks and has found hints of a previously undiscovered fourth track-maker at the site. 

The Laetoli tracks were discovered by Mary Leakey in 1976 and are thought to be  around 3.6 million years old. There are two parallel trackways on the site, where two  ancient hominins walked across the surface. One of these trackways was obscured  when a third person followed the same path [Credit: Bournemouth University] 

The software was developed as part of a Natural Environments Research Council (NERC) Innovation Project awarded to Professor Matthew Bennett and Dr Marcin Budka in 2015 for forensic footprint analysis. They have been developing techniques to enable modern footwear evidence to be captured in three-dimensions and analysed digitally to improve crime scene practice.

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Préalablement aux aménagements de la ZAC du Plessis-Saucourt par l’EPA Sénart sur la commune de Tigery (Essonne), une équipe d’archéologues de l’Inrap effectue, sur prescription de l’État (Drac Île-de-France), des recherches à Tigery (Essonne). 6 200 m2 sont ainsi explorés entre mars et juin 2016.

Les fouilles permettront de libérer le terrain pour les travaux d’aménagement. La construction du 1er bâtiment (6 500 m²) réalisé par Alséi pour l’accueil d’activités (bureaux et locaux de production) pourra ainsi démarrer dès la rentrée 2016.
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Rhind Lectures: Antiquaries, archaeologists and the invention of the historic town c 1700-1860 6th, 7th and 8th May

Rhind Lectures: Antiquaries, archaeologists and the invention of the historic town c 1700-1860
6th, 7th and 8th May
May 6 @ 6:00 pm - May 8 @ 5:00 pm

Professor Roey Sweet, Professor of Urban History, University of Leicester
The historic town today is a clichéd mainstay of tourism and place-branding; its credentials go back to the eighteenth century when antiquaries first began seriously to study the physical remains of the past and to single out towns as of particular historical interest. These lectures will explore how the antiquaries and archaeologists of the 18th and 19th century developed their understanding of the material and textual remains of the urban past and in the process  both invented the familiar category of the historic town and contributed to a distinctively urban narrative of British history.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

People power: how citizen science could change historical research

Crowdsourcing research by ‘non-specialists’ could help historians investigate big-data archives, and in the process make everyone an expert

Citizen science is a digital method, which has been applied to a range of big-data scientific problems. The Zooniverse is a key player in this; having first sought the help of the crowd in classifying galaxies almost a decade ago, it now boasts 47 different projects with well over a million users. The projects hosted on their site have been bringing to the forefront concerns over who exactly is allowed to participate in science.

Even though the hierarchical structure of professional science still remains within most citizen science platforms (with the exception of the extreme citizen science movement), they have had the result of giving everyone access to the raw data of research, and an opportunity to demonstrate and develop expertise.

The methods of citizen science are now starting to be used for humanities projects. Citizen Humanities is opening up the vast archives of history to the public. A repercussion of this development is that it leads to questions as to who gets to participate in researching history, and what it means to be an expert.

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Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’

Mass graves were replaced by individual burials for the elite in the Bronze Age showing a shift in social structure  CREDIT: PA 

Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown.
The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent.
He was part of a new order which emerged in Europe following the Stone Age, sweeping away the previous egalitarian Neolithic period and replacing it with hierarchical societies which were ruled by a powerful elite.
It is likely his power stemmed from advances in technology such as metal working and wheeled transport which enabled organised warfare for the first time.
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11 reasons William Shakespeare was the original Shoreditch hipster

An archaeological dig is expected to find Shoreditch is the home of Shakespeare, putting Stratford-Upon-Avon and the Globe in the shade.
The Museum of London Archaeology is leading a project to uncover and explore the remains of the Curtain Theatre, the 16th and 17th century venue where Shakespeare is known to have first staged Romeo and Juliet.Heather Knight, the senior archaeologist leading the dig on behalf of MOLA, said: “People often go to Stratford-upon-Avon to take in Shakespeare’s birthplace and his grave.
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The secret life of an archaeologist: soil in your sandwiches and sexism on sites

ended up in archaeology as a result of a long-held romantic notion of making great discoveries and solving mysteries. As a kid I always had my head buried in books, lost in the realms of the great ancient civilisations of the world. I never had fantastical expectations of archaeology, though. I didn’t think that I would travel the world and be a globe-trotting treasure hunter. And you certainly don’t get to travel in archaeology unless you are somehow affluent, have magical powers to secure funding, or know the right people in all the right places.

None of the above apply to me, so I have been confined to archaeology in England and Northern Ireland. Don’t get me wrong, archaeology here is infinitely fascinating but let’s be honest, it’s not as grand and visually awe-inspiring as, say, the pyramids or Pompeii. Over here, at its most stellar, it can be just two different coloured soils side by side, but to the trained eye that tells us a great deal about what was going on thousands of years ago.
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Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Archaeology of Anglesey

The Archaeology of Anglesey
1 to 5 November 2016
The island of Anglesey has a wealth of archaeological sites of all periods. This EMAS Archaeology study tour will visit the most important sites of the prehistoric, Roman and medieval periods.
Among the sites that we will visit are: the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age burial chamber, the rural Roman site and the 12th century chapel at Din Lligwy; the chambered cairn at Bryn Celli Ddu; the Neolithic burial chamber at Barclodiad Y Gawres; the Roman fort at Caer Gybi; the Roman watchtower and signal station at Caer Y Twr and the medieval priory at Penmon.
Click here for further details

Archaeologists have found a Roman child's stone coffin and a mosaic at a former villa site in Wiltshire

Rug designer Luke Irwin and Historic England Archaeologist Dr David Roberts on the incredible discovery of what could be one of the country's largest Roman villas near a house in Wiltshire

Rug designer Luke Irwin has discovered a Roman mosaic while laying electricity cables in Wiltshire.This stone coffin of a Roman child held geraniums until it was identified
© Jon Wilkes

Luke Irwin: “This is the most beautiful sort of unspoilt river valley and it’s sort of hidden away. On the hill which overlooks where we live there was a vast temple. Six miles away there was another vast temple.

We are a mile from a Roman road. You can see undulations in the landscape and the general guess would be that this is a medieval  building thing going on – until you find a mosaic. 

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‘Be cheerful, live your life:’ Ancient mosaic ‘meme’ found in Turkey’s south

What could be considered an ancient motivational meme which reads “be cheerful, live your life” in ancient Greek has been discovered on a centuries-old mosaic found during excavation works in the southern province of Hatay.

Demet Kara, an archaeologist from the Hatay Archaeology Museum, said the mosaic, which was called the “skeleton mosaic,” belonged to the dining room of a house from the 3rd century B.C., as new findings have been unearthed in the ancient city of Antiocheia.

“There are three scenes on glass mosaics made of black tiles. Two things are very important among the elite class in the Roman period in terms of social activities: The first is the bath and the second is dinner. In the first scene, a black person throws fire. That symbolizes the bath. In the middle scene, there is a sundial and a young clothed man running towards it with a bare-headed butler behind. The sundial is between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. 9 p.m. is the bath time in the Roman period. 

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Did volcano eruptions tip Europe into Dark Ages?

Back-to-back volcanic eruptions in the mid-6th century darkened Europe's skies for more than a year and may have ushered in the Dark Ages, according to finding to be presented Friday at a science conference in Vienna.
"Either would have led to significant cooling of Earth's surface," said Matthew Toohey, a climate modeller at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel Germany who led the research.
"But taken together, the two eruptions"—in 536 and 540—"were likely the most powerful volcanic event affecting the northern hemisphere climate over at least the past 1,500 years," he told AFP at a meeting of the European Geosciences Union.
Their combined impact lowered temperatures by two degree Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) during what is probably the coldest decade in the last two millennia, he added.
This sudden drop, caused by a Sun-blocking blanket of sulphur particles in the stratosphere, had a devastating impact on agriculture, provoking famine throughout much of Europe and beyond.
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Romsey Abbey: The mystery of the hair in the coffin

For the past few months, archaeologists have been testing a full head of hair found in a coffin. Is it the hair of a saint?
In October 1839, the work of some gravediggers came to an abrupt halt when their tools hit something hard. It was a lead coffin. Inside they found some hair. Human hair.
In the year 2000, a seven-year-old boy called Jamie Cameron went on a school trip to his local parish church, Romsey Abbey in Hampshire. It was where the gravediggers had made their discovery more than a century and a half earlier.
He was taken to a display case and was immediately drawn to the full head of hair, which was still resting on the oak "pillow" on which it was found.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Archaeologists discover skeletons of cows and pony, domestic oven and industrial complex in medieval Scottish town

From wells to a pony, a huge dig next to the 19th century Town House in the Scottish town of Irvine has produced some amazing archaeological finds dating back to the 13th century. Claire Williamson, who is leading the project for Rathmell Archaeology, takes a look around the site

"This is a view of the Irvine Town House site before the archaeological work begins, but after the demolition of the structures that used to stand here.

This ground, destined for development, lies in the core of the medieval burgh of Irvine. As such, it offered an unrivalled opportunity for archaeologists to explore the origins of the town and the people who lived, worked and built our community over the centuries."

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Iron age man was as fond of Swiss cheese as we are

Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that Swiss cheesemaking dates back to prehistoric times, paving the way for such delicacies as Gruyere and Emmental.
An international team led by the University of York and Newcastle University looked at the composition of residues left on fragments of ceramic pots found at six sites in the Swiss Alps. The shards of pottery were known to date from Neolithic times to the Iron Age. The researchers found that the residue on those from the 1st millennium BC -- the Iron Age -- had the same chemical signatures associated with heating milk from animals such as cows, sheep and goats, as part of the cheesemaking process.
The ceramic fragments examined as part of this study were found in the ruins of stone buildings similar to those used by modern alpine dairy managers for cheese production during the summer months.
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Bigger brains led to bigger bodies in our ancestors

AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY—New research suggests that humans became the large-brained, large-bodied animals we are today because of natural selection to increase brain size. The work, published in the journal Current Anthropology, contradicts previous models that treat brain size and body size as independent traits responding to separate evolutionary pressures. Instead, the study shows that brain size and body size are genetically linked and that selection to increase brain size will "pull along" body size. This phenomenon played a large role in both brain- and body-size increases throughout human evolution and may have been solely responsible for the large increase in both traits that occurred near the origins of our genus, Homo.
"Over the last four million years, brain size and body size increased substantially in our human ancestors," said paper author Mark Grabowski, a James Arthur postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History. "This observation has led to numerous hypotheses attempting to explain why observed changes occurred, but these typically make the assumption that brain- and body-size evolution are the products of separate natural selection forces."
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Searching for the Vikings: 3 Sites Possibly Found in Canada

Another possible Viking site, located at a place called Point Rosee in southern Newfoundland, was discovered using satellite imagery. 

Three archaeological sites that may have been used by Vikings around 1,000 years ago were excavated recently in Canada.

If confirmed, the discoveries would add to the single known Viking settlement in the New World, located at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland. Excavated in the 1960s, that Viking outpost was used for a short period of time around 1,000 years agoas well.

Sagas from the time of the Vikings tell tales of their journeys into the New World, mentioning places named "Helluland" (widely believed to be modern-day Baffin Island), "Markland" (widely believed to be Labrador) and "Vinland," which is a more mysterious location that some archaeologists have argued could be Newfoundland. [See Photos of the Newfound Viking Sites]

Even so, pinpointing actual Viking remains or other clues of Viking settlements has been difficult, making the three sites — two in Newfoundland and the other in the Arctic — intriguing to archaeologists.

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3D print of Oetzi the Ice Man revealed

One of three replicas of Oetzi the Iceman created for teaching purposes by Gary Staab, from resin and mixed media. Photo:

Scientists presented Wednesday a life-sized copy, made using a 3D printer, of Oetzi the mummified 5,000-year-old "iceman" found in the Alps 25 years ago.
Pre-existing CT scans were used to make the resin replica which was then sculpted and hand-painted by US artist Gary Staab over many months, the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology, where Oetzi is housed, said.
"The reconstruction of the hands was a challenge, since they could not be captured on CT scans," the museum in Bolzano, northern Italy said.
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Solving the mystery of the mummified lung

In 1959 a preserved lung was found by archaeologist Michel Fleury in a stone sarcophagus in the Basilica of St. Denis, in Paris. At this site the kings of France were buried for centuries. Along with the lung skeletal remains, a strand of hair, textile and leather fragments, as well as a golden ring with the inscription “Arnegundis Regine”, were found. Among the grave goods, an elaborate copper belt was also discovered. 

Drawing of the old queen Arnegunde, with the dress she probably  wore when she died 
[Credit: L. Brossard/Inrap] 

The inscription on the golden ring showed the remains belonged to the Merovigian Queen Arnegunde. Arnegunde, Aregunda, Aregund, Aregonda or Arnegonda (c. 515/520-580) was a Frankish queen, the wife of Clotaire I, king of the Franks, and the mother of Chilperic I of Neustria. 

The discovery of the preserved lung raised the question of how it could be preserved while the body was completely skeletonized.

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Shakespeare's 'original classroom' revealed

The young Shakespeare would have had his school lessons and seen his first plays in this room 

The original classroom where William Shakespeare is believed to have studied and seen his first plays opens to the public for the first time this weekend.

The classroom is owned by the King Edward VI school, the direct successor to the grammar school in Stratford-upon-Avon attended by Shakespeare from about 1571.

It will be open to visitors after a £1.8m lottery-funded renovation.

Among the discoveries was a hidden pre-Reformation wall painting.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Prehistoric monuments and 150 Anglo-Saxon graves found at Bulford

Excavations on MOD land in Bulford, Wiltshire, have uncovered 150 Anglo-Saxon graves spanning the later 7th to early 8th century, and a host of prehistoric finds – as well as new insights into early medieval burial practices.
Containing the remains of men, women, and children, the burials were arranged in neat rows, packed closely together – though as none of the graves intercut, the team from Wessex Archaeology (excavating on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, ahead of the construction of new homes for army families) suggests that they may once have been picked out in some way.
‘It is likely that the graves were identified somehow, perhaps with some kind of marker or a low mound,’ said Wessex Archaeology osteologist Jackie McKinley. ‘This is a planned cemetery.’

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Headdress reconstruction throws light on hunter-gatherer rituals

UNIVERSITY OF YORK—A research team led by archaeologists at the University of York used traditional techniques to create replicas of ritual headdresses made by hunter-gatherers 11,000 years ago in North Western Europe.
Flint blades, hammerstones and burning were among the tools and techniques they employed to fashion reproductions of shamanic headdresses discovered during excavations at the Early Mesolithic site at Star Carr in North Yorkshire.
The research published today in PLOS ONE is the first scientific analysis of the oldest known evidence of a shamanic costume in Europe. It challenges previously held assumptions over the care and time invested in the modification of the animal's "skull cap" in order to create these ritualistic artefacts.
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Headdress study highlights ancient hunter-gatherer rituals

"This research shows how experimental archaeology can give important insights into rare ancient artifacts," said archaeologist Aimee Little.

An illustration of an Evenki shaman donning an antler headdress. 
Photo by Little et al./PLOS ONE

YORK, England, April 13 (UPI) -- Researchers in England have spent the last four years reconstructing ancient shamanic headdresses found at an Early Mesolithic archaeological site in North Yorkshire.
To get a better understanding of hunter-gatherer rituals, archaeologists at the University of York used flint blades, hammerstones and fire to recreate antlered deer skull caps.
Their analysis of the oldest evidence of a shamanic costume in Europe suggests these hunter-gatherers spent significant time and effort on ritualistic dress.
Researchers surveyed some 24 male red deer skull caps recovered from the Star Carr site -- all made from the top of the skull with the antlers attached. To make the skull caps, the lower jaw and cranial bones were removed while the frontal jaw bone was perforated.
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Ancient Mass Graves Discovered in Greece

Archaeologists have discovered two mass graves near the Greek capital containing the skeletons of 80 men who may have been followers of ancient would-be tyrant Cylon of Athens.
France is famous for its wine, and for good reason ... they've been making wine longer than anyone else.
Regional archaeological services director Stella Chryssoulaki laid out the theory Thursday as she unveiled the findings at the Central Archaeological Council, the custodians of Greece’s ancient heritage.
Given “the high importance of these discoveries”, the council is launching further investigations, the culture ministry said in a statement.
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Anglo-Saxon graves and Neolithic pits and monuments found at MOD army base where anti-tank weapons were tested

The graves of men, women and children could have contained members of the same families on Salisbury Plain

This workbox was found in the grave of a woman on Ministry of Defence land in Bulford
© Wessex Archaeology

Two Neolithic monuments, prehistoric pits and an Anglo-Saxon cemetery of 150 graves containing spears, knives, jewellery and bone combs have been discovered at an army site where anti-tank weaponry was tested during World War Two.

One burial at Bulford has been radiocarbon dated to the mid Anglo-Saxon period, between AD 660 and 780. The graves have been found as part of a £1 billion Ministry of Defence development to create 1,000 homes for service personnel.
Archaeologists are now planning to excavate the monuments next to the cemetery, which are made up of Early Bronze Age round barrows and are likely to become scheduled monuments. Grooved ware pottery, stone and flint axes, a disc-shaped flint knife, a chalk bowl and deer and extinct wild cattle bones were found in the pits.

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Stone Age artists used rock art as a billboard

Six to seven thousand years ago, the road system in Norway was essentially non-existent. That meant Stone Age residents mainly used waterways as they moved from place to place, especially on the hunt. 

Forty-eight Stone Age petroglyphs include images of a reindeer herd, shown with all the  animals moving in the same direction. It’s possible that the artist was trying to say that  reindeer migrated this way 7,000 years ago
[Credit: Jan Magne Gjerde,  Tromsø Museum - The University Museum] 

One area called Gamnes, located between the outlet of a river and the mouth of a fjord that opens onto the Barents Sea, is particularly rich with rock art. There are petroglyphs of reindeer and moose, in herds and alone, with and without young animals. 

In general, animals depicted in rock carvings are shown moving in all different directions. But in Gamnes, most of the reindeer have been drawn with their muzzles pointed in the same way.

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Ce webdocumentaire retrace l’histoire des arènes de Nîmes, l’amphithéâtre le mieux conservé du monde romain,  des origines de sa construction aux actuelles campagnes de restauration. À destination de tous, notamment du jeune public, son approche ludique et interactive intègre les données les plus récemment acquises sur le monument.

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Roman villa unearthed 'by chance' in Wiltshire garden

Luke Irwin was laying electric cables at his farmhouse when he came across an untouched Roman mosaic
An "elaborate" Roman villa has been unearthed by chance by a homeowner laying electric cables in his garden in Wiltshire.
It was discovered by rug designer Luke Irwin as he was carrying out some work at his farmhouse so that his children could play table tennis in an old barn.
He uncovered an untouched mosaic, and excavations revealed a villa described as "extraordinarily well-preserved".
Historic England said it was "unparalleled in recent years".

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'Woman in Blue' sheds light on Iceland’s first settlers

Iceland’s “woman in blue,” the partial skeleton of a young woman found in 1938 in a grave with Viking-era objects, was a child of some of the island’s earliest settlers, researchers reported April 14 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Tooth development and wear suggest she was between 17 and 25 years old when she died.

A female’s jaw dating to the early 900s, with some flesh still attached, floats  in a jar filled with light paraffin oil. The jaw belonged to one of Iceland’s earliest  colonizers, known as the “woman in blue” for her indigo-dyed apron
[Credit: Ivar Brynjólfsson/The National Museum of Iceland]

It’s not known if the woman was a Viking or if she came from another northern European population, said bioarchaeologist Tina Jakob of Durham University in England. A chemical analysis of one of her teeth indicates that, between ages 5 and 10, she started eating a lot of fish and other seafood for the first time after having previously consumed mainly plants and land animals, a team led by Jakob and Joe Walser III of the University of Iceland in Reykjavik found.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Sexually transmitted diseases 'led ancient humans to monogamy'

Researcher claim sexually transmitted diseases led to monogamy. Credit: Alamy

Why did humans become monogamous, apparently rejecting the promiscuity that is natural to most animals?

Was it morality? Religion? Maybe love?

The answer is germs, researchers said on Tuesday, arguing that the havoc caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) convinced our ancestors it would be better to mate for life.

A research duo from Canada and Germany observed that STIs flourished among large groups of people living in the villages, towns and cities that arose after prehistoric hunter-gatherers settled down to farm.

Left unchecked, spreading diseases can affect individual fertility and a group's overall reproduction rate.

Falling population numbers would force a rethink of sexual behaviour - which in turn gives rise to social mores.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016


A 10th century church with a necropolis has been discovered by the Ruse archaeologists during their participation in the rescue digs in the nearby Danube city of Silistra, the modern-day heir to Durostorum (in the Antiquity) and Drastar (in the Middle Ages). 
Photo: Ruse Regional Museum of History

church from the 10th century, dozens of medieval graves, and coins testifying to the Tatar (Mongol) invasion of theSecond Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD) in 1242 AD have been discovered during rescue excavations of the medieval city of Drastar, known as Durostorum in the Antiquity, in today’s Danube city of Silistra in Northeast Bulgaria.
These findings have just been presented to the public by archaeologists Nikola Rusev and Varbin Varbanov from theRuse Regional Museum of History; the discoveries were made in the late summer and fall of 2015 when their team participated in the rescue excavations in the city of Silistra after a local water supply rehabilitation project exposed a number of archaeological structures from different time periods.
The rescue digs in Silistra, which was a major regional center in the Antiquity and Middle Ages, continued for several months as part of the rehabilitation of the city’s water supply and sewerage system. They also led to the discovery of the outer fortress wall of the Ancient Roman city of Durostorum (as the city was known in the Antiquity period).
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