Saturday, June 24, 2017

Viking shield, spear points and human bones recovered from Viking boat burial in N. Iceland

THE DYSNES SITE The exploration of the site has barely begun. Photo/Auðunn

Archeologists working at a dig in Eyjafjörður fjord in North Iceland have announced they have discovered a shield, human bones and two spear points from two of the boat burials. Previously they had uncovered the bones of what appears to be a Viking chief who was buried with his sword and dog at the site. The dig has barely started. Four of the graves have yet to be explored at all, and more could still be discovered at the site.

According to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service the artifacts found today came from two separate boat burials. The spear points were recovered from a burial which has been badly eroded by the ocean. The waves have already washed away half of the boat, and any items it might have contained.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Archaeologists unearth prehistoric ritual area around Bryn Celli Ddu

Bryn Celli Ddu, a Neolithic passage tomb on the Isle of Anglesey. 
Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Previously unknown Anglesey landscape possibly includes cairn cemetery in what experts described as ‘really exciting stuff’

Archaeologists have uncovered a prehistoric ritual landscape that possibly includes a cairn cemetery around a 5,000-year-old burial mound aligned with the summer solstice sun on Anglesey.

Though far less famous than Stonehenge, the spectacle of sunlight shining down a long narrow passage to light up the inner chamber of Bryn Celli Ddu on the longest day of the year is unforgettable. Excavation now suggests the site had significance for prehistoric people that lasted for millennia after the earth mound was raised over a stone passage grave.

The monument, whose name translates as the mound in the dark grove, was first excavated in 1865 and heavily reconstructed in the 1920s, but excavations over the last three summers – with members of the public joining archaeologists – are unveiling 5,000 years of human activity in the landscape. 

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Brewing Viking Beer — With Stones


When archaeologist Geir Grønnesby dug test pits at 24 different farms in central Norway, he nearly always found thick layers of fire-cracked stones dating from the Viking Age and earlier. Carbon-14 dating of this evidence tells us that ago, Norwegians brewed beer using stones.

There’s nothing archaeologists like better than piles of centuries-old rubbish. Ancient bones and stones from trash heaps can tell complex stories. And in central Norway, at least, the story seems to be that Vikings and their descendants brewed beer by tossing hot rocks into wooden kettles.

“There are a lot of these stones, and they are found at most of the farmyards on old, named farms,” says Geir Grønnesby, an archaeologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s University Museum.

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Archaeologists in N. Iceland discover Viking age chief buried in ship with his sword and dog

AT THE SITE Archaeologists at work excavating the Dysnes site. Dysnes translates as "Burial-ness". Photo/Auðunn

Yesterday archeologists, who are working at a large burial site in Eyjafjörður fjord in north Iceland, announced that they had discovered the remains of a ship burial dating back to the Viking age. A wealthy chieftain seems to have been buried in one of his boats along with some of his worldly possessions, including a sword and his dog. More unexplored burial sites are believed to be located at the site.

The grave is believed to date back to the 9th or 10th centuries. The sword, which was found close to the surface is in very poor condition. The archeologists expect to remove the sword from the ground today.
A site of regional significance during Viking Age 
The archeological dig takes place north of the town of Akureyri at a site which is believed to have been of enormous local importance during the Viking age. A few hundred meters south of the burial site is Gáseyri, which was the primary trading post in Eyjafjörður fjord during the Viking age.   
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Second Viking Age ship burial found at archaeological site in N. Iceland


Yesterday archaeologists discovered a second boat burial at an archaeological site at Dysnes ness in Eyjafjörður fjord in North Iceland. On Tuesday a burial site where a Viking age chief was buried in his boat, along with his sword and dog had been discovered. Two other graves dating to the Viking Age have been found at the site. Archaeologists working at the site are optimistic to find more, as the dig has only just started.

Undisturbed graves

Neither boat burial has been disturbed by grave robbers, as many Viking age burial sites have been. Most Viking Age burial sites seem to have been opened up relatively early, only decades after the burial, and valuables, especially swords, removed. The reasons for such grave robbing are not known.

Archaeologists working at Dysnes have now found four different Viking age graves at the site. Two were boat burials. An archaeologist working at the dig told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV that they expected to find more. "Everywhere we stick a shovel into the ground we seem to find something". 


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Monday, June 05, 2017

Millions needed to save priceless archaeological remains from coastal erosion


WAVES The advancing seas are eroding beaches along Iceland's coasts and imperiling archeological remains that have not yet been researched. Photo/Vísir.

Archeological remains of great cultural value are in danger of being washed away by coastal erosion on many of Iceland's shores, according to the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. An MP for the Left Green Movement warns of an impending "cultural disaster" due to a lack of financing for their preservation. Documenting and preserving the remains might cost hundreds of millions of ISK, according to an official estimate. 

Only a quarter of known remains has been documented

In a written response to questions from MPs in the Icelandic parliament, the Minister of Education, Science and Culture, said that the ministry was aware of a number of places around the country where valuable remains were in danger of being lost. However, the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland has only documented around a quarter of the remains that are protected by law due to their age.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Roman Bath House Found In Carlisle

Roman ruins described as a "once-in-a-lifetime find" have been discovered during work to rebuild a cricket pavilion in Carlisle.


The site at Edenside [Credit: Stuart Walker, The Cumberland News]

The remains of a Roman Bath House were uncovered as part of work to move Carlisle Cricket Club's pavilion, which was damaged during Storm Desmond.

The site is thought to be about 1,600 years old and has already unearthed weapons, pottery and coins. The find is close to the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage site.

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Lavau Celtic Prince: 2,500-year-old royal tomb starts to reveal its secrets

Objects inside the tomb appear to show the cultural interactions between different worlds in the 5th century BCE.


The bronze cauldron emerges from the earth.Denis Gliksman, Inrap

In 2015, the small village of Lavau in eastern France became famous around the world when archaeologists uncovered the tomb of an ancient Celtic prince, dating back to the 5th century BCE.

The tomb of the Lavau Prince, as he is now known, hides many secrets, which researchers have attempted to unveil in the past two years. Some of the stunning artefacts recovered next to the deceased have now be sent to a French lab for analysis – and the first results are starting to emerge.

A number of objects, including the prince's belt, appear to be extremely valuable as they are unique. Other artefacts bear witness to the cultural exchanges which took place at the time between different civilisations.

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‘Agricultural Revolution’ In Anglo-Saxon England Sheds New Light On Medieval Land Use

Researchers from the University of Leicester will be shedding new light on how an ‘agricultural revolution’ in Anglo-Saxon England fueled the growth of towns and markets as part of a new project investigating medieval farming habits.


University of Leicester academics work with University of Oxford in project to examine how historical farming methods changed England’s landscape [Credit: University of Leicester]

The project, titled ‘Feeding Anglo-Saxon England (FeedSax): The Bioarchaeology of an Agricultural Revolution’, which is funded by the European Research Council, is led by the University of Oxford working with colleagues from the University of Leicester.

The period between c 800 – 1200 AD saw dramatic changes in farming practices across large parts of Europe, enabling an increase in cereal production so great that it has been described as an ‘agricultural revolution’. 

This ‘cerealisation’ allowed post-Roman populations not only to recover, but to boom, fueling the growth of towns and markets.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Medieval brewery used by monks discovered by archaeologists on the outskirts of Lincoln

The malt kiln of what archaeologists think was a medieval brewery

A medieval brewery has been discovered by archaeologists along the route of Lincoln Eastern Bypass.

Network Archaeology Ltd, the company working on the site to provide new insights into the past, has teamed up with Lincolnshire Live to reveal more about the incredible artefacts - which include 150 Saxon skeletons.

Here, Dr Richard Moore and director Christopher Taylor continue their Find of the Week series with an ale and hearty story...

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GIS — A Powerful Tool To Be Used With Caution When Assessing Shoreline Erosion

Although computer models of archaeological sites are ideal software tools for managing spatially referenced data and commonly used to yield insights which contribute to the protection of heritage materials, some scientists question their credibility, calling for these long-term trends be 'ground truthed' in order to ensure that calculated rates of change reflect observed phenomena 'in the field'. This is particularly true in areas which tend to experience more pronounced and cumulative impacts of modern climate change.


The monitoring of shoreline erosion at Imnaaluk (Toker Point), NWT, Canada [Credit: De Gruyter]

A recent study by Michael J. E. O'Rourke from the University of Toronto, published in Open Archaeology, provides a new perspective on the severe impacts of escalating climate change on the heritage resources of Canadian Arctic. Referring to the application of Geographic Information System (GIS) analytical methods in assessing the threat of shoreline erosion to archaeological sites in the Canadian Arctic, it details steps taken to review the quality of the GIS model in light of a discrepancy with rates observed during annual survey visits.

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Did Dutch hordes kill off the early Britons who started Stonehenge?

A gene study has shown that incomers could have ousted Stone Age Britons

During the building of Stonehenge, around 2500BC, gene records show Sone Age Britons were replaced by Bronze Age Beaker folk. Photograph: Peter Adams/Getty Images

The men and women who built Stonehenge left an indelible mark on the British landscape. However, researchers have discovered that their impact on other aspects of the nation may have been less impressive. In particular, their input into Britain’s gene pool appears to have fizzled out, having been terminated by light-skinned Bronze Age invaders who arrived just as Ancient Britons were midway through their great Stone Age project. In the end, these newcomers may have completely replaced the people who were building Stonehenge.

This startling conclusion is the result of a huge gene study of humans in prehistoric Europe. It shows that around 2500BC – when the main sections of Stonehenge were under construction – a race of people known to archaeologists as the Beaker folk arrived in Britain. Their genetic profiles were similar to individuals who were living in the Netherlands at the time. In just a short period, all genetic traces of early Stone Age Britons were replaced by those from these continental newcomers, although work on Stonehenge continued.

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Historians reveal AMAZING details about massive Viking Camp found in Lincolnshire

Torksey AD 872/873

A 1,100-year-old camp the Viking Great Army at Torksey has been brought to life in stunning virtual reality based on the latest research.

Heralded as the most realistic immersive experience ever created of the Viking world, the exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum in York runs from May 19 to November 5.

Three dimensional images and soundscape reveal what life was like in the camp of the Viking army on the banks of the River Trent at Torksey, near Gainsborough, in the winter of AD 872-873, as thousands of Vikings prepared to conquer vast swathes of England.

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Dig Finds UK's Oldest Sacred Site

Archaeologists say a sacred burial site uncovered in Shrewsbury in February is over 4,000 years old. They say the site, which was discovered at a Greek Orthodox Church, may be the country's oldest-known continuously used sacred ground.


Archaeologists excavate the site in Shrewsbury 
[Credit: Sarah Hart]

Finds suggest it has been used during every era since the late Neolithic period. Carbon dating of a wooden post extracted during the dig showed it was placed in the ground in 2,033 BC.

Archaeologists expected the post to be Anglo-Saxon. Other finds on the Oteley Road site included a calf, a pig and a dog that died while giving birth.

"The dates have shocked us all," said lead archaeologist Janey Green. "It appears the current Medieval church is built over the site of an ancient pagan burial ground that's been in use from the late Neolithic period through the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, Anglo-Saxon and through to today. The only other British site of a Christian church that is known to date back to the late Neolithic period is at Cranborne Chase, in Dorset, but it is a Norman ruin."

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ten of the Viking treasures on show in York for Viking – Rediscover the Legend

The Ormside Bowl. Photography Anthony Chappell Ross. Image courtesy of York Museums Trust (Yorkshire Museum).

A major new exhibition by the Yorkshire Museum in partnership with the British Museum explores the world of the Vikings. Here are some of the treasures about to be revealed in Viking – Rediscover the Legend

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Oldest working Roman arch in Britain damaged by lorry driver who got stuck following his sat nav

Experts are assessing damage to the oldest Roman arch in the UK still used by traffic after a lorry driver got stuck following his sat nav CREDIT: RICHARD VAMPLEW/MEDIA LINCS

The oldest Roman arch in Britain which is still used by traffic has been damaged after a lorry driver who was following his sat nav became wedged underneath it. 

Police were called to the third century Newport Arch in Lincoln after a distribution lorry became lodged under the Grade I listed edifice at 1pm on Thursday. 

Fragments of stone from the monument could be clearly seen on the ground after it took over half an hour to free the HGV.

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Viking army camp uncovered by archaeologists in England

A huge camp which was home to thousands of Vikings as they prepared to conquer England in the late ninth century has been uncovered by archaeologists.

Established in Torksey, on the banks of the River Trent in Lincolnshire, the camp was used as the Vikings' defensive and strategic position during the winter months.

The research, conducted by archaeologists at the Universities of Sheffield and York, has revealed how the camp was used by thousands of Viking warriors, women and children who lived there temporarily in tented accommodation.

They also used the site as a base to repair ships, melt down stolen loot, manufacture, trade and play games.

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Grassy beginning for earliest Homo


ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY—In 2013, an ASU research team found the oldest known evidence of our own genus, Homo, at Ledi-Geraru in the lower Awash Valley of Ethiopia. A jawbone with teeth was dated to 2.8 million years ago, about 400,000 years earlier than previously known fossils of Homo. After the discovery, attention turned to reconstructing the environment of this ancient human ancestor to understand why there and why then.
But how do you re-create specific environments from millions of years ago to understand where our ancient ancestors lived?
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Medieval People Reopened Graves To Honour Family

Cemetery next to a medieval church in Elham, Kent (England) 
[Credit: Shutterstock]

In the early Middle Ages (450 - 800 AD), dead people were often buried with valuable items such as jewellery, weapons and earthenware pots. Martine van Haperen discovered that the people who reopened the graves certainly did not take everything. They mainly took the objects with an important symbolic significance, such as swords and shields from the male graves and jewellery from female graves. These were possibly viewed as the carriers of mythical and ancestral powers.

The archaeologist from Leiden University investigated more than 1300 graves from 11 mediaeval cemeteries in the Netherlands and Belgium. More than 40 percent of the graves had been reopened. According to Van Haperen, this probably happened when the cemeteries were still in use and in half of the cases, this was even within a single generation after the funeral.


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Virtual reality brings ninth century Viking invaders' camp to life



VR exhibition is based on many finds from the Vikings’ camp.
Photograph: Dalya Alberge

Exhibition to feature scenes and artefacts from large-scale winter base where soldiers prepared to conquer Anglo-Saxons in 872

The Viking armies that invaded Britain in the ninth century were far larger than had previously been realised, according to academic research that forms the basis for a groundbreaking virtual reality project.

A major exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum, staged in partnership with the British Museum, draws on new research by the universities of York and Sheffield. According to Professor Dawn Hadley, one of the co-directors of the universities’ project at the site of a Viking winter camp, archeologists and historians had thought that the invading Viking armies numbered in the low hundreds. But archeological work at the camp on the river Trent at Torksey, Lincolnshire, suggested otherwise.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

rchaeologists discovered the ruins of the 13th-century Teutonic Castle in Unisław


Archaeologists from Nicolaus Copernicus University found the ruins of the 13th-century Teutonic castle in Unisław near Toruń. The castle was built on a slope above the Vistula River valley.

Until now, this was the least well known medieval castle in Chełmno land. The research is conducted under the grant of the National Programme for the Development of Humanities "Castra Terrae Culmensis - on the edge of the Christian world". Over the three years of its course, researchers will conduct interdisciplinary studies of five Teutonic castles. Even before the beginning of earthworks in Unisław, in early April 2017 they conducted non-invasive surveys in castles in Lipienek, Zamek Bierzgłowski, Unisław and Starogród. Work in the fifth castle in Papowo Biskupie has not started yet.

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More ancient ruins found at Verulamium after gas pipe gives archaeologists chance to dig deeper

Area being dug through by archaeologists

More of an ancient Roman city have been discovered by archaeologists.

The burnt remains of a 1,800-year-old kiln, use to create pottery, have been unearthed at Verulamium after essential work began to re-lay a gas pipe, giving archaeologists the opportunity to dig deep underground.

The team has also redrawn the map of the Roman city after making a series of discoveries including evidence of an expensive townhouse and the absence of a tower which would have sat in the corner of the city walls.

Simon West, District Archaeologist for St Albans City and District Council’s Museums team, said: “The pottery kiln is another exciting discovery that gives us a greater understanding of how Verulamium was set up.

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Friday, May 05, 2017

Rome unveils 'museum' metro station packed with hundreds of ancient artefacts found during construction


Ancient Roman amphorae on display in Rome's newest underground metro station, San Giovanni. CREDIT: ANDREW MEDICHINI/AP

For Romans, the daily commute will never be the same again.  The city on Friday unveiled a brand new underground station that boasts a trove of archeological treasures that were found during its construction.

They range from iron spearheads and gold coins decorated with emperors’ heads to a delicate perfume bottle made from turquoise glass and marble statues of scantily-clad nymphs.

There are giant amphorae, bronze fish hooks from an ancient Roman fish farm, the remains of a first century BC woven basket and even a collection of 2,000 year old peach stones, from when the area was a rich farming estate providing food for the imperial elite.

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Holy chickens: Did Medieval religious rules drive domestic chicken evolution?

A baby chick. Could Medieval religious rules have increased the demand for poultry and thereby altered chicken evolution?
Credit: © Anatolii / Fotolia

Chickens were domesticated from Asian jungle fowl around 6000 years ago. Since domestication they have acquired a number of traits that are valuable to humans, including those concerning appearance, reduced aggression and faster egg-laying, although it is not known when and why these traits evolved.

Now, an international team of scientists has combined DNA data from archaeological chicken bones with statistical modeling to pinpoint when these traits started to increase in frequency in Europe.

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How migrations and other population dynamics could have shaped early human culture


STANFORD UNIVERSITY—Something odd happened in the transition from the Middle to the Upper Paleolithic, around 50,000 years ago. Modern humans and their immediate ancestors had been using tools for a few million years prior, but the repertoire was limited. Then, all of sudden, there was an explosion of new tools, art and other cultural artifacts.
What caused that change has been the subject of much debate. Maybe brainpower reached a critical threshold. Maybe climate change forced our prehistoric kin to innovate or die. Maybe it was aliens.
Or maybe it was the result of populations growing and spreading throughout the land, Stanford researchers write in Royal Society Interface. That certainly could explain some other curious features of Paleolithic culture—and it could mean that a number of paleontologists' inferences about our genetic and environmental past are, if not wrong, not as well supported as they had thought.
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24 Bronze Age Axes Found In Farmer's Field In Norway

Some 3,000 years ago, 24 axes were cached in Stjørdal municipality, about 44 km east of Trondheim. They're now seeing the light of day once again.


One of the axeheads after it was dug up [Credit: Eirik Solheim]
In late April, a sensational discovery was made in a field in the village of Hegra, not far from the Trondheim International Airport in Værnes. Numerous axe heads, a knife blade and some fragments were lifted out of obscurity. The objects date back to the Late Bronze Age, approx. 1100-500 BCE.

Archaeologists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) University Museum and Nord-Trøndelag County Council unearthed the findings with the help of with six private metal detector hobbyists from the area.

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3,000-year-old axes found in farmer's field in mid-Norway


Archaeologist Merete Moe Henriksen and conservator Ellen Randers present the Hegra discoveries. Credit: Julie Gloppe Solem


Some 3,000 years ago, 24 axes were cached in Stjørdal municipality, about 44 km east of Trondheim. They're now seeing the light of day once again.

In late April, a sensational discovery was made in a field in the village of Hegra, not far from the Trondheim International Airport in Værnes. Numerous axe heads, a knife blade and some fragments were lifted out of obscurity. The objects date back to the Late Bronze Age, approx. 1100-500 BCE.
Archaeologists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) University Museum and Nord-Trøndelag County Council unearthed the findings with the help of with six private metal detector hobbyists from the area.

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Mycenaean Chamber Tomb With Grave Offerings Found On Greek Island Of Salamis

A Late Mycenaean chamber tomb with grave goods dating to the 13th-12th centuries BCE has been discovered in the centre of the main town on the island of Salamina, Greece, during a project meant to link a home with the central sewage network.


Late Mycenaean chamber tomb with grave offerings located in Salamina 
[Credit: Ministry of Culture and Sports]

Speaking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Friday, archaeologist Ada Kattoula of Western Attica, Piraeus and the Islands Antiquities Ephorate said it was the third tomb located in the area, following two discovered in 2009 during excavation to install the sewage pipes. Those finds had led to the discovery of 41 intact pottery vessels in very good condition, with inscribed decorations typical of the era, as well as pieces of roughly 10 more vessels, she said.

“The excavation conditions are extremely difficult because there are many springs in the area and the specific tombs, being carved into the rock, are prone to flooding. We needed pumps to empty the water. With great technical difficulty and significant assistance from the contractor we were able to investigate,” Kattoula said.

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Glockenbecher-Gräber im Salzlandkreis


Ein kleines Gräberfeld der Glockenbecherkultur (3. Jahrtausend v.Chr.) kam bei archäologischen Ausgrabungen des Landesamts für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt nahe Könnern-Cörmigk im Salzlandkreis ans Tageslicht.

Im Zuge des Neubaus einer Fernwasserleitung zwischen Dohndorf und Bernburg-Ost finden seit Herbst 2016 archäologische Untersuchungen durch das Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt statt. Nachdem zunächst die Anzahl und Art der Kulturdenkmale im Trassenverlauf durch Voruntersuchungen ermittelt wurde, werden nun 17 Fundstellen auf gut 30.000 m² Untersuchungsfläche dokumentiert. Die Grabungen haben Mitte März 2017 begonnen und werden voraussichtlich Anfang Juli abgeschlossen. Projektleiterin ist Frau Dr. Susanne Friederich, örtlicher Grabungsleiter Herr Thomas Kubenz. Insgesamt sind derzeit 14 Mitarbeiter beschäftigt.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Last resting place of Rome's emperors to be restored and opened to tourists in £5 million project

The restoration of the mausoleum will take two years. The monument will be opened to tourists in 2019. CREDIT: EPA

The largest funerary monument in the world after the pyramids of Egypt, it echoes with the ghosts of emperors and the splendour that once was Rome.

Now, after decades of being neglected, the Mausoleum of Augustus, a hulking stone building on the banks of the River Tiber, is to be restored and opened to tourists.

Visitors will be able to venture into its cavernous interior, where the cremated remains of the Emperor Augustus were later joined by other emperors, including Tiberius, Claudius, Vespasian and the psychotic, scheming Caligula.

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Monday, May 01, 2017

A Spanish quest to hand down prehistoric secrets

Photo: Extremadura Turismo
It's dark and surprisingly warm in a cave in western Spain that hides our most intimate connection to the prehistoric past – hand silhouettes painted tens of thousands of years ago.
Archaeologist Hipolito Collado and his team had not entered the Maltravieso Cave in the city of Caceres for close to a year to avoid damaging the 57 faded hands that adorn the walls, precious remnants of a far-flung piece of history we know little about.
 
Why did our ancestors or distant relatives paint hands in caves? Was it merely to make their mark, or part of a ritual to commune with spirits?
 
Do they tell us anything about the role of women during the Paleolithic era that ended some 10,000 years ago? And why are some fingers missing?
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Radiocarbon Dating Gets A Postmodern Makeover

For decades, radiocarbon dating has been a way for scientists to get a rough picture of when once-living stuff lived. The method has been revolutionary and remains one of the most commonly used dating methods to study the past, but according to Charlotte Pearson, it’s ready for a makeover.



Charlotte Pearson studies the past lives of trees to better understand the history of civilizations 
[Credit: Mari Cleven]
Pearson is an assistant professor of dendrochronology at the University of Arizona who studies the past lives of trees to better understand the history of civilizations. Dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating have intertwined histories, she explains, with roots firmly planted at the UA.

Andrew Douglass and Talkative Tree Rings

A 1929 edition of National Geographic boasts, “The Secret Of The Southwest Solved By Talkative Tree Rings.” The 35-page article, penned in whimsical prose, was written by Andrew Douglass, the UA scientist who invented tree ring science.

Douglass was a polymath. In addition to his work as an astronomer at the UA’s Steward Observatory, Douglass was the first to discover that tree rings record time: “Every year the trees in our forests show the swing of Time’s pendulum and put down a mark. They are chronographs, recording clocks, by which the succeeding seasons are set down through definite imprints,” he wrote in the pages of National Geographic.

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Saint Edmund, the Saxon king, may be buried under town's tennis courts, experts believe


Experts are set to start digging for another missing English king.

After Richard III was found buried under a car park in Leicester, details have emerged of other unusual possible resting places famous monarchs.

Now, Bury St Edmunds believes it may have the remains of Saint Edmund, a Saxon monarch, buried beneath one of its tennis courts. 

St Edmund was a Saxon king who ruled in the ninth century. As a saint, his remains were kept in a shrine in Bury St Edmunds.

At the time of the desecration of the Benedictine Abbey, during Henry VIII's reign, the remains were lost.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Dog family tree reveals hidden history of canine diversity

Genetic map showing how dog breeds are related provides a wealth of information about their origins.


A new family tree of dogs containing more than 160 breeds reveals the hidden history of man’s best friend, and even shows how studying canine genomes might help with research into human disease.
In a study published on 25 April in Cell Reports, scientists examined the genomes of 1,346 dogs to create one of the most diverse maps produced so far tracing the relationship between breeds1. The map shows the types of dog that people crossed to create modern breeds and reveals that canines bred to perform similar functions, such as working and herding dogs, don't necessarily share the same origins. The analysis even hints at an ancient type of dog that could have come over to the Americas with people thousands of years before Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World.
The new work could come as a surprise to owners and breeders who are familiar with how dogs are grouped into categories. “You would think that all working dogs or all herding dogs are related, but that isn’t the case,” says Heidi Parker, a biologist at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, and a study author.
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Prehistoric human DNA is found in caves without bones in 'enormous scientific breakthrough'

Becky Miller sampling sediment for genetic analyses at the archaeological site of 
Trou Al'Wesse, Belgium 
CREDIT:  MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE FOR EVOLUTIONARY ANTHROPOLOGY VIA AFP

International scientists have uncovered prehistoric human DNA of two extinct human relatives - the Neanderthals, and the Denisovans- from caves without bones, an advance that could shed new light on human history and evolution.

The technique could be valuable for reconstructing human evolutionary history, according to the study published on Thursday in the journal Science.

That's because fossilised bones, currently the main source of ancient DNA, are scarce even at sites where circumstantial evidence points to a prehistoric human presence.

"There are many caves where stone tools are found but no bones," said Matthias Meyer, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who co-authored the study.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Listen to the experts on the Stonehenge tunnel


Helen Ghosh, Kate Mavor and Duncan Wilson’s response to John Harris’s article about the Stonehenge tunnel (Letters, 27 April) entirely misses the point. The Stonehenge world heritage site landscape is unutterably precious and you tamper with it at your peril – you cannot make it come back. There should be perpetual inquiry here and the UK government, the National Trust and English Heritage either value that or they don’t. The tunnel scheme will clearly compromise the archaeology. Whose interest would that be in? It would be better to trust the experts. The joint statement from 21 archaeological specialists working at the Stonehenge site from 14 UK universities and the international Icomos-Unesco team report recently provided detailed and empirically based rebuttals of the tunnel plans and clearly highlight various dangers it poses to the area’s archaeology and sense of place.
Professor David Jacques
Blick Mead project director, University of Buckingham


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Iron-age Viking longhouses were burned and buried in funerals


From the Bronze Age until the Viking Age, burial mounds could be placed on top of the remains of three-aisled longhouses. The internal posts that served as roof-supporting beams were sometimes removed before the house was set on fire. Once the house had burned to the ground, one or more burial mounds were placed on top of its remains.
Marianne Hem Eriksen is a postdoc at the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History. In an article in the European Journal of Archaeology, she investigates the causes of this practice.
'I studied seven different house burials from the Iron Age in Scandinavia, in five different locations: Högom in Sweden; Ullandhaug in Rogaland; Brista in Uppland, Sweden; Jarlsberg in Vestfold; and Engelaug in Hedmark,' Eriksen tells us.
The custom of setting houses on fire and placing burial mounds over of the house remains may be reminiscent of a cremation. Eriksen argues that the burial mounds may equally well mark the cremation and burial of a house – not necessarily a human being.
'In some cases we have been unable to find human remains, even in places where we could expect such remains to have been preserved. Nevertheless, archaeologists have more or less implicitly assumed that somewhere or other, there must be a deceased individual.'
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Digital App Brings To Life One Of Scotland's Key Prehistoric Settlement Sites

A new online digital resource has been launched to bring to life one of Scotland's most important prehistoric settlement landscapes.


Led by the University of Glasgow the new digital resource aims to widen public engagement with the ongoing archaeological research in Perthshire.

Supported by a grant from Historic Environment Scotland, the SERF Project app was developed in collaboration with the 3DVisLab at the University of Dundee. It incorporates 3D images, enabling the user to grab, rotate and closely examine some of the artefacts which have been unearthed at the hillfort sites. It also features drone aerial footage of the hillforts, superimposed with artist’s reconstructions of what the sites may have looked like.

Dr Tessa Poller, Director of the SERF hillforts project and an archaeologist at the University of Glasgow, said: "This app is about wider public engagement surrounding the work we are doing, to not only show people the geographical area where these hillforts lie but to also explain how, throughout the various discoveries we have already made, we are able to challenge perceptions about what life must have been like back then.


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Uffington hill carving was worshipped as 'sun horse' in prehistoric Britain


A huge prehistoric geoglyph depicting a galloping horse is traditionally thought to have been a symbol of ownership, territory or group identity for the prehistoric humans living on the Berkshire Downs. But now scholars are taking a second look at the 110-metre-long hillside carving. A new archaeological interpretation argues that it is a representation of a sun horse, a mythical beast that pulled the sun across the sky like a chariot.
The Uffington White Horse in the south of England is one of the oldest giant carved hill figures, or geoglyphs, in the world. The elongated, stylised horse is best visible from the sky, but was built millennia before a human would see it from that vantage point. It is thought to have been carved into the hillside, exposing the white chalk bedrock, in the late Second Millennium BCE or the early First Millennium BCE.
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Indonesian ‘Hobbits’ Not Related To Homo Erectus

The most comprehensive study on the bones of Homo floresiensis, a species of tiny human discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, has found that they most likely evolved from an ancestor in Africa and not from Homo erectus as has been widely believed.


The study by The Australian National University (ANU) found Homo floresiensis, dubbed "the hobbits" due to their small stature, were most likely a sister species of Homo habilis -- one of the earliest known species of human found in Africa 1.75 million years ago.

Data from the study concluded there was no evidence for the popular theory that Homo floresiensis evolved from the much larger Homo erectus, the only other early hominid known to have lived in the region with fossils discovered on the Indonesian mainland of Java.

Study leader Dr Debbie Argue of the ANU School of Archaeology & Anthropology, said the results should help put to rest a debate that has been hotly contested ever since Homo floresiensis was discovered.


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Primitive human 'lived much more recently'


A primitive type of human, once thought to be up to three million years old, actually lived much more recently, a study suggests.
The remains of 15 partial skeletons belonging to the species Homo naledi were described in 2015.
They were found deep in a cave system in South Africa by a team led by Lee Berger from Wits University.
In an interview, he now says the remains are probably just 200,000 to 300,000 years old.

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Friday, April 07, 2017

Why you should take your kids to Britain's smelliest attraction


Scent is the most underrated element of travel. Consider: lavender-infused Provencal fields or sulphuric water in Iceland. Each smell evokes a fundamental aspect of its place of origin. And, if you are under the age of 12, or know someone who is, consider this particular whiff: rotting flesh, with more than a hint of human excrement.

Nothing brings history alive like the scent of a turd, particularly when accompanied by a fossilised version, which you will find on display in a new case at Jorvik Viking Centre, which re-opens this weekend, 17 months after floods destroyed one of York’s most memorable attractions.

Vikings are heroes for my children’s generation thanks, in part, to How to Train Your Dragon, the historical drama Vikings and the Scandi clothing invasion, which features cheerful bearded Nordic faces on just about anything.

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