Monday, August 06, 2018

Experts ask if there was a tsunami in ancient Orkney

Maesehowe is Orkney's most famous burial cairn, and a popular tourist attraction

A new academic paper has suggested it is possible neolithic mass burials in Orkney and Shetland contain the bodies of tsunami victims.

The authors said archaeologists should test remains to see if the bones show the distinctive signs of drowning in sea water.

Prof James Goff said the work was based on findings from the southern hemisphere.

It is published in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory.

Prof Goff, from the University of New South Wales, told BBC Radio Orkney there are sites in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu where there are "known tsunamis that have happened in prehistory at the times that these mass burials date to".

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Stonehenge: Origins of those who built world-famous monument revealed by groundbreaking scientific research

Experts have discovered act of cremation actually crystallises a bone’s structure and allows its origins to be detected – something previously thought to be impossible


A new scientific research collaboration is, for the first time, revealing who built Stonehenge. The cutting-edge study sheds a remarkable light on the geographical origins of the Neolithic community that first constructed the ancient site.

Complex tests carried out on 25 Neolithic people who were buried at or following the time of the initial construction of the now world-famous monument, have revealed that 10 of them lived nowhere near Stonehenge, but in western Britain, and that half of those 10 potentially came from southwest Wales (where the earliest Stonehenge monoliths came from).

The other 15 could be local to Stonehenge, Wiltshire-origin individuals, or the children of other descendants of migrants from the west. All the remains were cremations.


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Small height evolved twice on 'Hobbit' island of Flores

Liang Bua cave, where the Hobbit remains were found
ROSINO / CREATIVE COMMONS

A new study has shown that small height evolved twice in humans on the Indonesian island of Flores.

Scientists decoded the DNA of modern-day "pygmy" people to find out if they might be partly descended from the extinct Hobbit species.

The remains of these Hobbits were found during an archaeological dig on Flores 15 years ago.

The new analysis, published in the journal Science, found no trace of the Hobbit's DNA in the present-day people.

This is important because some scientists had wondered whether modern humans (Homo sapiens) could have mixed with the Hobbit population when they first arrived on the island thousands of years ago. In theory, this could have led to Hobbit genes being passed down into living people on the island.

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Stonehenge: First residents from west Wales

Researchers have shown that cremated humans at Stonehenge were from the same region of Wales as the stones used in construction.
The key question was to understand the geographic origin of the people buried at Stonehenge.
The key innovation was finding that high temperatures of cremation can crystallise a skull, locking in the chemical signal of its origin.
The first long-term residents of Stonehenge, along with the first stones, arrived about 5,000 years ago.

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'Spectacular' ancient public library discovered in Germany

‘Really incredible’ … the site of the second-century library discovered in Cologne. Photograph: Hi-flyFoto/Roman-Germanic Museum of Cologne

The remains of the oldest public library in Germany, a building erected almost two millennia ago that may have housed up to 20,000 scrolls, have been discovered in the middle of Cologne.

The walls were first uncovered in 2017, during an excavation on the grounds of a Protestant church in the centre of the city. Archaeologists knew they were of Roman origins, with Cologne being one of Germany’s oldest cities, founded by the Romans in 50 AD under the name Colonia. But the discovery of niches in the walls, measuring approximately 80cm by 50cm, was, initially, mystifying.

“It took us some time to match up the parallels – we could see the niches were too small to bear statues inside. But what they are are kind of cupboards for the scrolls,” said Dr Dirk Schmitz from the Roman-Germanic Museum of Cologne. “They are very particular to libraries – you can see the same ones in the library at Ephesus.”

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Ancient Roman Library Discovered Beneath German City

The excavation of the ancient library in Cologne, Germany.
Credit: Roman-Germanic Museum of Cologne

Beneath the soil in Cologne, Germany, lies a bibliophile's dream: an ancient Roman library that once held up to 20,000 scrolls, according to news reports.

Archaeologists discovered the epic structure in 2017 while they were excavating the grounds of a Protestant church to build a new community center. Considering Cologne is one of Germany's oldest cities, founded in A.D. 50, it's no surprise that it still has structures dating back to Roman times.

However, archaeologists didn't figure out that the structure was a library until they found mysterious holes in the walls, each measuring about 31 inches by 20 inches (80 by 50 centimeters), The Guardian reported.

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