Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Shoelace costs museum dear as vases are shattered

It must be a curator's sweatiest nightmare. Beyond the collection being swiped by thieves, the museum burning to the ground or, of course, your funding being withdrawn, there is always the dread possibility that some malign, clumsy or plain unlucky member of the public might destroy a prize holding.

That has happened at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. According to witnesses, an unfortunate visitor tripped over his shoelace and fell on to three Qing dynasty vases, shattering them. The vases had been placed - rather optimistically, perhaps - on a windowsill on a staircase.

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Archaeology findings

THE findings of a two-year archaeology project in Prestonpans are to be presented at a public seminar tomorrow.

The free event at Prestonpans Community Centre at 7pm, will cover a project involving professional archaeologists.

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Treasure revealed in abbey's old well

A vast monastic drain, dating from about 1230, has been unblocked at a historic abbey, the National Trust has revealed.

The drain was infilled in the 16th century and the work has uncovered a builder's dump full of fascinating archaeology.

The Trust carried out excavations of the monastic drain at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire to help understand the present-day problems with damp in the building, which includes famous medieval cloisters.

The dig, carried out by hand, removed 64 tonnes of debris used as infill by William Sharrington, who bought the abbey in the 16th century after the Dissolution.

The drain originally served the reredorter, which were the lavatories in the 13th century nunnery and which functioned as the main sewer for the abbey and would have originally run off into the river.

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Ancient wreck, new fight

What is probably the richest sunken treasure in the world, the Sussex, a British warship that went to the bottom of the Mediterranean in 1694 with a cargo of coins now worth up to $4 billion, has become embroiled in a bitter diplomatic dispute that pits Spain against Britain, the United States and an American company that wants to salvage the wreck.

The conflict turns on arcane and often disputed aspects of international law that govern sovereign waters and the rights of shipwreck owners and finders.

Spain claims the waters off the coast of Gibraltar. Britain claims the ship, says its decomposing hull rests in the high seas and has struck a deal with the American company, Odyssey Marine Exploration of Tampa, Florida, to split the recovery's proceeds.

Last month, the company had its 250-foot, or 76-meter, ship lower a seven-ton robot with lights, cameras and flexible arms to begin an archaeological survey, the first step in recovery of the wreckage of the ship, which lies in waters a half-mile, or one kilometer, deep. The goal is positive identification of the wreck and looking for the lost coins, which the company says are most likely gold, nine tons of it.

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Cathedral admission charges condemned by MP as 'tacky'

MPs have spoken out against cathedrals which charge visitors for entry, with one labelling the practice "slightly tacky".

Middlesbrough MP Sir Stuart Bell, responding for the Church Commissioners at Commons question time yesterday, said the Government ought to provide more financial support to cathedrals.

However, Hugh Bayley, MP for the City of York, said charging could help to meet the cost of major projects such as the £23m restoration of the East Front at York Minster, an appeal backed by the Yorkshire Post.

Crewe and Nantwich MP Gwyneth Dunwoody said she had "great sympathy" for the situation in which cathedrals found themselves but asked Sir Stuart if he could persuade cathedrals to stop charging.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Treasures of 'Harry Potter' sewer

The archaeological excavation of an ancient sewer at a medieval nunnery used as a setting in the Harry Potter films has revealed a host of treasures.

The aim of the work on the drain at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire was to understand modern-day problems with damp at the historic building.

Instead experts discovered bronze "wimple" pins, shears, a lead flask and a 14th Century book clasp.

The items are all being conserved and may go on display at the house.

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Archaeologists find ancient typhoid by the teeth

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, goes the ancient saying. Especially if the gifts include typhoid fever, suggests an archaeological team, after looking into a burial pit dating to the ancient siege that ended the Golden Age of Athens.

Among the epic conflicts of the ancient world, the Peloponnesian War pitted the Greek empires of Athens and Sparta against each other. The seagoing Athenians met their match in the Spartans and their allies during a conflict that stretched from 431 B.C to 404 B.C.

Plague claimed as many as a quarter of the Athenians in the early years of the war, a siege of Athens, according to the ancient writer Thucydides, who himself lived through and described the disease. Since then scholars have debated over exactly what illness sparked the devastating epidemic — suggestions include plague, smallpox, Ebola and many others — parsing over the exact meaning of the ancient scribe's description.

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Major archaeological excavation to start at city centre kirk

Archaeological experts from all over the world are hoping to find the remains of a 12th-century church at Aberdeen's historic Kirk of St Nicholas when a major excavation project gets underway today (Monday).

Archaeologists from Aberdeen City Council will lead the team of 12, who have come to Aberdeen from countries including Egypt and Spain as well as the UK.

The highly skilled team is made up of a combination of archaeologists with large amounts of excavation experience alongside human bone and burial archaeology specialists, which will enable the maximum amount of information to be gleaned from the site.

The archaeological dig - which is scheduled to take six months - has been brought about by the need to reinforce the foundations of the Mither Kirk for a new development, which will be launched in the next few weeks.

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A DONATION from English Heritage means a £100,000 repair programme at Carlisle Cathedral can start at Easter after masonry fell from the 14th century building.

Red sandstone for the repairs will be quarried from St Bees, near Whitehaven.

English Heritage yesterday announced it will give £58,000 towards restoration with the remaining cash coming from cathedral funds.

The six-month project will begin in April to repair the tracery stonework and replace damaged sandstone blocks surrounding the window on the east end.

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Man trips and destroys priceless vases

A museum visitor tripped on his shoelace, stumbled down a stairway and destroyed a set of priceless 300-year-old Chinese vases.

The three vases, dating from the late 17th or early 18th century, had stood on a windowsill at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge for at least 40 years.

The museum refused to name the visitor, who was unhurt, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Steve Baxter, another visitor, who saw the accident, said: "We watched the man fall as if in slow motion. He landed in the middle of the vases and they splintered into a million pieces.

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Team maps minster stone by stone

A cathedral in Nottinghamshire will be brought into the 21st Century with a grant to fund hi-tech photography of some of its buildings.

Southwell Minster will receive £20,000 from English Heritage to use photographs to create stone by stone drawings of the central tower.

The drawings will show exactly how the tower is made up, in preparation for major repair and restoration work.

The planned repairs to the cathedral will include masonry and glazing work.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ashkenazi Jewish Founders Traced

Four women who lived 1,000 years ago somewhere in Europe are the ancestral mothers of some 3.5 million Ashkenazi Jews alive today, a genetic study has concluded.

Part of a small group who founded the Ashkenazi Jewish community, each woman left a genetic signature that shows up in their descendants today, Karl Skorecki of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Israel, and colleagues reported in the online edition of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Estimated at around eight million people, the Ashkenazi Jews account for the majority of the current Jewish population.

The term "Ashkenazi" refers to Jews of mainly central and eastern European ancestry, as opposed to those of Iberian (Sephardic), Near Eastern or North African origin.

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Metalen voorwerpen op de Potterierei

Een vingerhoed is bedoeld om de vinger te beschermen tegen indrukken van de naald. Vingerhoeden kunnen gemaakt zijn van verschillende materialen zoals steen, hout, glas, porselein, leer, been, metaal (goud, zilver, messing, brons). Typologisch zijn er twee soorten vingerhoeden te onderscheiden: de gesloten en de open vingerhoed. Het open type is ringvormig en is vervaardigd uit een metalen band. Bij het gesloten type is de bovenkant van de vingerhoed met een kapje afgedekt. De gesloten vingerhoed werd vooral gebruikt bij het naaien van kleding, terwijl de ringvingerhoed meer een instrument van de leerbewerker was. In West-Europa is de vingerhoed in de 14de eeuw algemeen bekend. Voordien werden houten schildjes of leren lapjes gebruikt ter bescherming van de vinger.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Archaeological Study Tour to Germany

27 May to 2 June 2006

There are still a number of places left on the Archaeological Study Tour to Germany.

You can find more details here...

Archeologia: ritrovati a Pozzuoli resti villa romana

NAPOLI, 28 GEN- Trovati a Pozzuoli i resti di una villa imperiale romana, piccoli riquadri di mosaici e una scala, durante lavori di scavo dell'Enel. Il ritrovamento potrebbe portare all'individuazione di una palestra tipica dei tempi imperiali che consentiva agli atleti di prepararsi alle gare. La struttura potrebbe essere di notevole rilevanza perche' avrebbe potuto ospitare i giochi di 'Eusebia' istituiti da Antonino Pio in memoria dell'imperatore Adriano. CIC (Riproduzione Riservata)

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Archeologists Find Ancient Ship Remains

An American-Italian team of archaeologists has found the remains of 4,000-year-old ships that used to carry cargo between Pharaonic Egypt and the mysterious, exotic land of Punt, the Supreme Council of Antiquities has announced.

The ships' remains were found during a five-year excavation of five caves south of the Red Sea port of Safaga, about 300 miles southeast of Cairo, the chairman of the supreme council, Zahi Hawass, said in a statement late Thursday.

The archaeologists, who came from Boston and East Naples universities, found Pharaonic seals from the era of Sankhkare Mentuhotep III, one of seven rulers of the 11th dynasty, which lasted from about 2133 B.C. to 1991 B.C.. They also found wooden boxes, covered with gypsum, bearing the inscription "Wonders of the land of Punt."

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PALERMO - Frammenti di ceramica di epoca imperiale romana, muretti a secco venuti fuori da un crollo per l'erosione della costa lasciano pensare ad un possibile approdo per imbarcazioni della città romana di Allavam, a Ribera, in provincia di Agrigento. La scoperta è avvenuta nei giorni scorsi durante i lavori di scavo per la realizzazione degli alberghi del Golf resort di Rocco Forte, in contrada Verdura. La presenza del porticciolo si aggiunge ad un'altra scoperta fatta nell'estate scorsa, nella stessa area, dal medico chirurgo riberese, Domenico Macaluso: una diga foranea davanti la torre di Verdura lunga 365 metri e larga 36 che serviva per l'attracco delle navi che commercializzavano lo zucchero del 'trappeto' di Verdura.

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Ancient papyrus goes on display in Turin

It served first as a notebook for ancient painters and then as part of a mummy's wrapping. Now, a first century B.C. parchment believed to contain the earliest cartography of the Greek-Roman era will be on display next month in the northern city of Turin.

The Papyrus of Artemidorus tells a tale of more than 2,000 years of art and culture.
Egyptologist Alessandro Roccati, of the University of Turin, said the parchment was "extraordinary" in that it "conserves direct and ancient testimony that helps reconstruct history." Roccati was not involved in the project.

The parchment's story begins around the mid-first century B.C., when a copyist in Alexandria, Egypt, began working on a blank parchment to copy the second of 11 books by Greek geographer Artemidorus of Ephesus.

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Experts to study Orkney's underwater past

Archaeologists in Orkney are seeking funding for a project to study the islands' hidden treasures. Orkney-based independent archaeological consultant Caroline Wickham-Jones said they were keen to investigate the submerged prehistory around the islands.

Orkney is renowned for its archaeology and the main Neolithic sites of the islands were given World Heritage Status in 1999. But Ms Wickham-Jones said there was a hidden side to the archaeology of Orkney that most people knew little about. "At the end of the last Ice Age, the sea level around the islands was as much as 30 metres lower than today. It was at this time, some 10,000 years ago, the first settlers came to the islands," she added.

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Roman relics

Sir, Is Giles Coren’s reference to the Romans being slow off the mark a case of the urn calling the amphora black? (There’s a hole in your toga, dear Titus, Jan 21). For although tempus does indeed fugit, there has not been a hosepipe ban across the Thames Water region for the past 16 years. If he has laboured all this time to keep the garden of his London villa green by reverting to use of a watering can, we’d like to thank Giles for his efforts.

Allow me to satisfy Mr Coren’s curiosity as to why we employ what he refers to as “archae-bleeding-ologists”.

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Elgin Marbles

Sir, The British Museum needs to adopt a more constructive approach to the future of the Elgin Marbles (letters, Jan 21 and 25).

Let the New Acropolis Museum commission replicas of the Marbles, and there then be a formal arrangement with the British Museum for perhaps a third of the original main fragments to be exchanged on a revolving basis for their replicas.

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The real Caesars

The BBC's sex-and-sandals drama may have played fast and loose with the facts, but it has kindled interest in the ruins of the Roman Empire. The historian Robin Lane Fox is your guide.

In each episode, the fictions multiplied. Distinguished Roman matrons engaged in lesbian kissing; a defeated Pompey met totally unexpected veterans from Caesar's army; a druggie Cleopatra had hyperactive sex with a centurion before crossing Julius Caesar's path. Now we all need some facts to tone down the lurid camerawork.

The series covered the most momentous years in Roman history, those which are still most alive to us through their written evidence.

But real sites, sculptures and stonework are out there, too, to be discovered by anyone with imagination and a yen for adventure. There is a thrill in standing on the very spot where events happened, even if the buildings have gone. Roman ghosts are very strong.

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Stonehenge - a tourism wonder

Simon Jenkins has the support of two university archaeologists who spotted the problem with the perceived wisdom on conservation in Stonehenge some time ago (Comment, January 27). My colleague at Cambridge University, Dr Christopher Chippindale, and I have long chuckled at the professionals scratching their collective heads staring in dismay at the visitor centre. We humbly suggest again that they are perhaps looking in the wrong direction.

Visitors to Stonehenge have come to see the stones, they haven't come to look at the visitor centre. In tourism terms, Stonehenge is the perfect attraction - it can be"done" in around 15 minutes - perfect for the whistle-stop coach tours of British heritage. If we are to improve on this, then a low-tech sustainable temporary improvement on the current footprint of the visitor centre could meet visitors' needs quickly. We have suggested low wooden structures which would at least look more natural than concrete. Any solution should be seen as temporary in relation to the "timelessness" of the actual site.

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Scandal clouds Getty re-opening

The Getty Villa, the Malibu museum housing one of the world's finest ancient art collections, re-opens on Saturday after an eight year refit.

The renovation of the building, a copy of a Pompeii villa destroyed by the Vesuvius eruption in 79AD, cost $275m.

On display are 44,000 treasures from former oil tycoon John Paul Getty's massive art collection.

However, the museum is re-opening amid a scandal over allegations that some of its antiquities were looted.

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The treasures of the Aegean

For many years, the general public showed little enthusiasm for archaeological discoveries. Either the finds were little known outside a narrow circle of specialists or there were few who comprehended their significance.

Even when the public became more aware and the press began to show an interest in the mid-1990s, the spotlight usually fell on the most striking discoveries and the most popular sites.

Who, for instance, knows what exactly lies beneath the topsoil of the smaller islands of Makronissos, Yarous, Gavdos and Psyttaleia, or of the islands that once belonged to Miletus and helped ensure free passage across the Aegean? The latter are now considered to be part of the Dodecanese — islands such as Agathonissi, Arkioi Patmos, Leipsoi, Farmakonissi and Leros.

Who knows anything about Psara, a tiny island that was an unknown archaeological quantity until the 1960s, when S. Harotinidis, then ephor of antiquities, discovered a Mycenean acropolis at Palaiocastro, more commonly known as Mavri Rachi and made famous by the poet Dionysis Solomos.

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Remains of a 13th century church discovered in Mechelen

Excavations in the city of Mechelen (prov. Antwerp) have revealed traces of a church building from the 13th century. At an earlier stage of the excavations the archaeologists had already unearthed more than 200 skeletons (1300-1450 AD), which will hopefully provide interesting information about the inhabitants of the abbey, which was built at this place around 1300. As the new discoveries are extremely important for the study of the earliest history of Mechelen, the archaeologists received the permission to continue their work for one more month.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Stone me!

An aspiring young archaeologist recently made a discovery of significant historical importance in her schoolyard.Laoise Mangan was out playing with her friends in the yard at St Brigid’s School in Greystones when she happened upon a curious looking stone.

Instinctively realising that there was something special about the object, Laoise promptly showed it to her teacher, Martin Dodd. Luckily for Laoise, Mr Dodd has a degree in archaeology and he also recognised that this was no ordinary stone.

Mr Dodd sent the mysterious object to a former lecturer of his, Dr Muiris O’Sullivan at UCD, who subsequently confirmed that the stone was used as a tool for scraping meat from animal hides in the Neolithic period – better known as the Bronze Age.
This means that the tool dates from around 2,000 BC - or from an astounding 4,000 years ago.

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Two cremation burials found in Wevelgem

Since the beginning of this month archaeologists are investigating a terrain in Wevelgem (prov. Western Flanders). Not much archaeological research has been done in this area yet; aerial images, maps and historical sources didn't reveal much relevant information neither. In a first phase only a small amount of Iron Age material was unearthed. In the second phase, two cremation burials were found in the trenches. The archaeologists hope they get the permission to continue their work.

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Time changes modern human's face

Researchers have found that the shape of the human skull has changed significantly over the past 650 years.

Modern people possess less prominent features but higher foreheads than our medieval ancestors.

Writing in the British Dental Journal, the team took careful measurements of groups of skulls spanning across 30 generations.

The scientists said the differences between past and present skull shapes were "striking".

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Unearthing history in the heart of ancient Rome

A cremation tomb that has been identified as going back to the 11th or 10th century BC, long before Romulus and Remus appeared on the scene has been uncovered in the Roman forum.

"Looking down into the forums from Via dei Fori Imperiali on the way to Piazza Venezia, the well-tomb, a perfectly circular hole in the ground, lies just to the right of the senate house in the Forum of Caesar. This forum was the first to be built, carved out of a former saddle between the Quirinale and Capitoline hills in 46 BC, and is thus on top of the tomb, which is suspected to be the first trace of a whole yet undiscovered ancient necropolis in the area.

Speaking to reporters, a jubilant Eugenio La Rocca, head of the Rome council?s cultural heritage department, dated the tomb to somewhere between the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age. ?It was a real surprise to find rich furnishings inside it,? he exclaimed. The findings included a funeral urn and eight hand-worked, patterned vases in terracotta. They contained tiny bronze miniatures of weapons, and elsewhere what seemed t o be the bones of a bird, placed there, La Rocca presumed, to accompany the deceased on his journey to the beyond, as was the custom. The riches were found after first rolling back the tomb?s cover, a weighty round slab of tufa, and then removing its seal, a container in the stylised shape of a hut, a model akin to real huts found much later on the Palatine Hill.

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The curse of Stonehenge will remain until it is handed back to the druids

This world heritage site is a national disgrace. Consultants have made millions but achieved nothing in 20 years

Simon Jenkins

West of Amesbury on the A303, the road dips and rises towards a meadow in the distance. In the meadow stands a clump of grey stones, looking like dominoes rearranged by a shell from the neighbouring artillery range. The clump is Britain's greatest stone-age monument.

Nobody can touch it. Stonehenge is cursed. I have bet every chairman of English Heritage - Lord Montagu, Sir Jocelyn Stevens and Sir Neil Cossons - that no plan of theirs to meddle with the stones will ever work. This week the latest tunnel proposal collapsed, following last year's rejection of a new visitor centre. The fate of the site is consigned to that Blairite neverland called "consultation", joining St Bart's and Crossrail among the living dead, projects which move only because they are maggot-ridden with costs.

I have attended many Stonehenge consultations. They are raving madhouses. The sanest people present are the pendragons, druids, warlocks, Harry Potters, sons of the sun and daughters of the moon.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Greeks 'don't look after treasures'

The government should not return the Elgin Marbles to Athens because Greece has a lamentable record of caring for its Parthenon treasures, a leading archaeologist says in a new book.

"I think they have to start looking after what they have," said Dorothy King. "Most of the Parthenon sculpture in Athens isn't on display and hasn't been cared for."

The government's refusal to give back the treasures, known in Greece as the Parthenon marbles, has been a contentious issue in Anglo-Greek relations for nearly 200 years.

The series of statues and fragments were taken from the Parthenon temple in the early 19th century by British ambassador Lord Elgin who sold them to the British Museum.

Greeks see Elgin as a sinister figure, who bribed the then Ottoman authorities to raid the Acropolis and whisk away part of Greece's identity. Archaeologists restoring the Parthenon say his rushed operation caused great damage to the marble temple.

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Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman yesterday hit back at a groundswell of anger over the latest moves to return Stonehenge to its natural setting. Archaeologists, transport and countryside campaigners, and bodies such as the National Trust have all criticised a series of options announced by the Government to solve the ongoing Stonehenge saga.

Critics say that instead of coming up with "bold new schemes" to rescue the 4,500-year-old monument from its "shameful state" the Government had instead rehashed a bunch of tired old ideas.

But Mr Ladyman said they should be realistic if they really wanted to see the mystique and grandeur restored to Britain's best-loved prehistoric monument.

On Monday, he and Culture Minister David Lammy unveiled a series of options now being considered for Stonehenge Project.

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The Cinderbury dream could rise from the ashes thanks to a new business proposal to run the Iron Age Centre.

A new bidder has come forward to reopen the village, near Clearwell, as a tourist attraction, but to learn from the mistakes made last year. The village, which gave visitors a chance to get away from it all, throw away modern trappings and live off the land for a holiday or educational visit, shut down last month because there was no money left.

At the moment the new bidder wishes to remain anonymous, but the company in charge of marketing Cinderbury says it is "hopeful" for its future and believes it is close to concluding a deal.

Angie Petkovic, from APT Marketing, said: "There's a proposal which has been put forward and we're looking at it.

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‘Bog bodies’ inspire a sense of wonderment

Our world has been celebrating the quality of human ingenuity in plotting the course of the Stardust space probe on the long years spent on its round trip to the farther ranges of the solar system. It is an amazing achievement for the science of astrophysics and for the exquisite technology that builds on the principles of that science.

With all these discoveries constantly coming on stream and mediated to us nightly on television we have lost the capacity for wonder. It all has had a dumbing down effect on the imagination. The findings of the space programmes pass over us like a series of episodes in science fiction. They are simply outside our range of perception.

It takes something closer to home with a more human dimension to set us thinking and imagining. We can then focus on what is presented and relate to it personally. This was the effect of the publicity following on the discovery of two bog bodies in Meath and Offaly.

They are known as Clonycavan Man and Old Croghan Man from the places where they were found. Carbon dating fixes their time of living at around 2,300 years ago. They are relics of the Iron Age in Ireland.

(Requires free registration)

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Scholarly study on finds from island of Keros

They are the pieces to a puzzle that archaeologists have not completely deciphered. Around 350 fragments of ancient Cycladic figurines as well as shards of ceramic or marble vases unearthed since the 1960s in the area of Kavos on the island of Keros have been dispersed all over the world.

Of the 1,400 Cycladic figurines that have survived to today, the finds from Keros form a substantial part of the documented material. More than 50 percent of the total number is of unknown provenance, the outcome of looting and illicit export. Around 150 objects found on Keros used to be part of the Erlenmeyer collection which its owners decided to auction off in 1990. The Museum of Cycladic Art, in collaboration with the Commercial Bank of Greece, acquired 76 pieces from this collection, thus helping to repatriate important antiquities of early Cycladic culture.

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Vikings filed their teeth, not their nails

Viking warriors filed deep grooves in their teeth, and they probably had to smile broadly to show them off, according to new finds in four major Viking Age cemeteries in Sweden.

Caroline Arcini of Sweden's National Heritage Board and colleagues analysed 557 skeletons of men, women and children from 800 to 1050 AD.

She discovered that 22 of the men bore deep, horizontal grooves across the upper front teeth.

"The marks are traces of deliberate dental modifications ... they are so well-made that most likely they were filed by a person of great skill," Arcini writes in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, a journal of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

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DNA helps solve mysterious murder case

French police who spent two years trying to identify a woman who was murdered by a blow to the head were relieved to discover the reason their efforts were failing was that the woman died half a millennium ago.

The skeleton of a woman in her thirties was found during an exceptionally low tide in December 2003 near the seaside Brittany town of Plouezoc'h. A long gash in the skull convinced investigators she was killed with a hatchet or other sharp implement.

Police ploughed through missing persons' files to no avail. A theory that the woman was the wife of a Normandy doctor who disappeared with his family in a famous 1999 case was dismissed after DNA tests.

Eventually radiocarbon dating established that the death had occurred between 1401 and 1453.

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Getty Trust board member resigns from post amid controversy

A trustee of the J. Paul Getty Trust whose donated collection to the museum included a stolen ancient Roman sculpture has resigned, officials said.

The board of trustees accepted the resignation Wednesday of wealthy art collector Barbara G. Fleischman, who had been a board member since 2000.

"It has been my pleasure to work with the gifted and dedicated people in the Research and Conservation Institutes, the Getty Foundation and the museum elements of the Getty Trust. Their work is splendid and significant, and I salute them," Fleischman said in a statement.

The board thanked Fleischman for her support and for substantial contributions she and her late husband, Lawrence, had made to the museum.

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Neandertals Hunted as Well as Humans, Study Says

Through the years dozens of theories have sprung up about why Neandertals (often spelled "Neanderthals") went extinct approximately 30,000 years ago.

Those heavy-browed, big-boned hominids who inhabited Europe and parts of Asia for roughly 200,000 years may have met their demise for any number of reasons.

Perhaps they were cognitively limited or couldn't adapt to a changing climate or weren't good enough hunters to compete with modern humans. (See an interactive atlas of the human journey.)

Now a team of U.S. and Israeli anthropologists working at the Ortvale Klde Rockshelter, a significant Neanderthal-modern human site in the republic of Georgia, has helped to dispel one such hunch.

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Fulston Manor - Latest discoveries

Recent excavations at Fulston Manor in Kent, in advance of a new road, have revealed yet more about this fascinating area. Previous excavations by Wessex Archaeology led to the discovery of a medieval bakery. Now the history of the site has been traced back even further. The earliest find is a pot dated to the Middle Bronze Age, some 3,300 years ago. Iron Age finds show that people were still using this landscape 2,500 years ago. We know this from the presence of pottery and field boundaries. Most interesting of all, slag produced during iron smelting suggests that iron was being worked somewhere very close by at this time. We also know that people continued to live here into the Romano-British period as we have found traces of the boundaries around their fields.

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How Immigration Destroyed Rome (Excerpt)

Oxford historian Peter Heather has reexamined the fall of Rome. His new book, The Fall of the Roman Empire, holds many lessons for today.
The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians, by Peter Heather (New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 572 pages, hardcover.

By the time the Roman Empire in the West died in 476 A.D., the empire had lasted something on the order of 500 years. But the government of Rome was far older. Rome itself had been founded, mythically by Romulus and Remus, in 753 B.C., and archaeological information confirms that some occupancy of the area did in fact begin at about that time. The justly famous Roman Republic, the forerunner of the empire, was itself founded in 510 B.C. when the last king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, was overthrown by Junius Brutus. From that point until the empire replaced the republic, two Consuls, each elected to office for a one-year term, would rule Rome. Altogether, then, Rome was a dominant power on the world stage for more than 1,000 years. Its collapse in 476 was a historical change of colossal proportions.

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Norwich cathedrals get £50,000 funding

Norwich's two cathedrals are celebrating grants from English Heritage.

The Anglican Cathedral and St John the Baptist Roman Catholic Cathedral are among 25 cathedrals in the country to benefit from the total £1m package.

Henry Freeland, Norwich Cathedral architect, said the £26,000 would be spent on repairs.

He said: "We are grateful to receive a grant for vital work in the cloisters to upgrade the ground drainage system and to remove harmful concrete paving that has been contributing to decay in the decorative stonework of the cloisters.

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Town dig unearths medieval past

One of the largest archaeological digs undertaken on Teesside has provided experts with new insight into medieval life in the area.

The dig is part of a multi-million pound project to create a new town square at Hartlepool's Headland.

The excavation is the largest seen in the Headland area in 20 years.

Experts say they are delighted with the finds so far, which include a row of medieval properties, pots and relics of iron smelting.

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Medieval Cemetery Yields 1,300 Skeletons

A large medieval cemetery containing around 1,300 skeletons has been discovered in the central English city of Leicester, archaeologists said Tuesday.
The bones were found during a dig before the site is developed as part of a 350 million-pound ($630 million) shopping mall.

University of Leicester archaeologists say the find promises to shed new light on the way people lived and died in the Middle Ages.

"We think, probably outside London, this must be one of the largest parish graveyards ever excavated,'' said Richard Buckley, director of University of Leicester Archaeology Services.

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Cathedrals receive vital funding

Three London cathedrals are to share a £60,000 grant from English Heritage towards repair and maintenance work.
They are Southwark Cathedral, St George's Cathedral in Southwark, south London, and Westminster Cathedral.

The funding is part of £1m in hand-outs from English Heritage to 25 cathedrals around the country.

Since the funding scheme for cathedrals was launched in 1991, some £41m has been spent on some of England's most historic buildings.

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British skeleton could unearth Medieval mysteries

A medieval cemetery containing about 1,300 skeletons has been discovered in the central English city of Leicester, archeologists said Tuesday.

The bones were found during a dig at a site being developed as part of a shopping mall, to cost about $725-million.

University of Leicester archeologists say the find promises to shed new light on the way people lived and died in the Middle Ages.

“We think, probably outside London, this must be one of the largest parish graveyards ever excavated,” said Richard Buckley, director of University of Leicester Archaeology Services.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Securing an important part of our heritage

The gardens of John Rothe, a wealthy Kilkenny merchant, remain in outline at the rear of Rothe House, Parliament Street and stretch back to the City Wall at Tilbury Place.

The Rothe gardens are known to have contained an orchard, a well, a raised terrace adjoining the City Wall, and an ornamental building, possibly a dovecote.

There are also likely to have been formal planting beds of herbs, flowers and vegetables, and espaliered fruit trees and arbors.

Relatively little is known about urban medieval gardens in Ireland at this time, and this is what makes the gardens at Rothe House so unique.

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Kristine Magerman - De Gallo-Romeinse munten van Asse

Als pas afgestudeerde archeologe gaf Kristine Magerman op de voorbije Romeinendag een overzicht van de Gallo-Romeinse munten uit Asse en Kester. Aan de hand van losse munt-vondsten besprak ze de opname van deze nederzettingen in de muntcirculatie en bijgevolg de markteconomie van de Romeinen. Voor ArcheoNet geeft Kristine aan de hand van recente vondsten een update van deze gegevens.

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A Yeovil firefighter has struck gold after being given the go ahead to sell six Elizabethan silver coins he found in a Cotswold field to a museum. At a treasure trove a coroner confirmed the coins, found by Ian James, matched the criteria to be treasure because of their age and silver content.

As a result of the ruling, the coins will now go to a valuation committee who will set a price that the museum must pay.

Mr James has a strong interest in metal detecting and was out with his metal detector on Ruth Jenner's Chesterton Farm - part of the Bathurst Estate at Cirencester - when he discovered the silver coins in November 2004.

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Bones of 1,300 medieval people were found buried in Leicester. David Owen looks at the life of ordinary people living in the town 1,000 years ago

Medieval life was a fight for survival, of hard graft and dangers that meant not many townspeople would see old age.

In the area of what is now St Peter's Lane, in Leicester, the streets were busy, with traders selling goods and women making clothes.

Nearby, next to St Peter's Church, was a cemetery where many of those hardworking men and women would be buried.

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Der letzte Bruder

Vor 150 Jahren wurde der Neandertaler entdeckt. Nun wird er gefeiert. Wie waren unsere Verwandten?

Ralf Schmitz erinnert sich noch genau an den Tag, an dem er den Frevel beging. An diesem Morgen im Sommer 1996 entriegelte der Vorgeschichtsforscher einen massiven Stahlschrank, zog einen der kostbarsten Kulturschätze Deutschlands heraus und befahl der Präparatorin Heike Krainitzki, das Kleinod auseinander zu sägen.

Ein »ziemlich eigenartiges Gefühl« habe ihn beschlichen, gesteht Schmitz, als sich Krainitzkis sterilisierte Goldschmiedesäge in den fossilen Neandertaler-Knochen fraß. »Das Stück ist schließlich eine Ikone der deutschen Archäologie.« Er selbst, berichtet Schmitz, habe den herausgetrennten Block in ein keimfreies Plastikröhrchen gesteckt, eigenhändig im Auto nach München gefahren und dem Molekulargenetiker Svante Pääbo zur Prüfung übergeben. Zwölf Monate später, im Juli 1997, meldete das Fachblatt Cell eine Sensation auf der Titelseite: "Neandertals not our ancestors". Nach Pääbos Erbanalyse waren die Neandertaler, jenes rätselhafte Volk europäischer Ureinwohner, nicht etwa unsere Vorfahren, sondern bestenfalls entfernte Verwandte.

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Archaeologists reveal chapel where Henry VIII married his wives

A pavement once paced by Henry VII, and his son Henry VIII, at least two of his unfortunate wives, and his daughters Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor, has emerged from under a car park at the Royal Hospital in Greenwich, south London.

The pavement is part of a royal chapel believed completely destroyed by centuries of later re-building at Greenwich. Although only grubby smears remain of their original smart black and white glazing, the tiles, with a border in an elaborate lozenge pattern, are in remarkably good condition. They mark the site of the altar in the chapel Henry VII built at his palace of Placentia, between 1500 and 1504.

Unlike the bloodsoaked history of other residences which doubled as prisons (like the Tower of London), Placentia, the pleasant place, in clean riverside air far from the stink of London, was a palace for pleasure and entertainment. It became the birthplace of Henry VIII and favourite of all his royal homes. He married his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and, three wives later, Anne of Cleves in a private apartment above the chapel.

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Neolithic Europeans Made Cheese, Yogurt

Dirty cooking pots dating to nearly 8,000 years ago reveal that some of Europe's earliest farming communities produced dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt.

Two separate studies indicate that Neolithic dairying took place in what are now Romania, Hungary and Switzerland.

The discoveries suggest people in these regions might have originally learned how to process milk-based foods from Asian farmers.

"From a diffusionist perspective, these findings lend support to the idea that the antiquity of dairying lies with the origins of animal domestication in southwest Asia some two millennia earlier, prior to its transmission to Europe in the seventh millennia B.C., rather than it being a later and entirely European innovation," wrote Oliver Craig, a scientist at Tor Vergata University in Rome, and colleagues in the first study published in the journal Antiquity.

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Medieval fireplace found behind seven others

Crumbling layers spanning hundreds of years were removed in an ancient Chichester building close to the cathedral to reveal a 14th century fireplace complete with bread oven.

The remains of seven other fireplaces had to be taken out, enabling a skilful restoration of the original one to be started, with the help of material discovered around it.

The discovery was made during a major refurbishment and expansion of the popular cathedral restaurant, in the cloisters.

A new shop, replacing the current one underneath the bell tower, is being created next to the restaurant in a former house once occupied by cathedral canons, which is where the fireplace was found.

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Lost treasures of Constantinople test Turkey's 21st-century ambition

£2bn train tunnel linking Europe to Asia faces delays as dig unearths 5th-century port

Deep in the soft black earth beneath the cleared slum tenements of old Istanbul, Metin Gokcay points to neatly stacked and labelled crates heaped with shattered crockery. "That's mostly old mosaics and old ceramics," said the Istanbul city archaeologist. "And over there we found bones and coins."

Looking at huge slabs of limestone emerging from a depth of more than 7 metres (25ft) below ground, he adds: "That's late Roman, this is early Byzantine. This tunnel here is very interesting. Perhaps Constantine's mother had her palace over there."

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Excavations to resume in ancient city of Tralleis

Professor Abdullah Yaylalı of Adnan Menderes University’s archaeology department has announced that excavations will resume in the ancient city of Tralleis.

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Scientists solve puzzle of death of Pericles

The cause of the plague of Athens in 430BC, which devastated the city and killed up to one-third of the population, including its leader, Pericles, was typhoid fever, scientists believe. Doctors and historians have long speculated about the nature of the disease, which precipitated the end of the golden age of Athens, from the account given by Thucydides. Ebola fever, anthrax, tuberculosis and lassa fever have been suggested as candidates.

"The profound disagreement on the cause of the plague has been due to the lack of definite microbiological or palaeopathological evidence," write Manolis Papagrigorakis of the dental school at the University of Athens, and colleagues. But the discovery of a mass grave dating from the time of the epidemic appears to have solved the mystery.

The Greek scientists, writing in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, describe how they removed teeth from the human remains and analysed the DNA they contained to find traces of the infection which killed so many Athenians trapped in a city surrounded on land by Spartans and relying on its navy's control of the sea through the port of Piraeus.

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Archaeologists Launch Live Online Workshops on the Greek and Roman World to Coincide with 2006 Winter Olympics

Live online courses taught by experienced archaeologists allow learners to explore the Greek and Roman world from a new perspective. Both home schooled and traditional students, as well as adults and hobbyists, will be able to investigate the origins of the Olympics and other topics in a series of 4-week workshops. Instructors use an interdisciplinary approach that integrates history, archaeology, art, ancient literature and other disciplines.

Holly Springs, NC (PRWEB) January 24, 2006 -- Secondary school students and adults looking for new perspectives on the Greek and Roman world can now learn from experienced archaeologists online. A live, online 4-week workshop that examines the origins of the Olympics is just one of several workshops that will be offered when The Lukeion Project begins its Spring session in February.

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Henry VII's chapel found at Greenwich

As muddy holes go, they don't get much more romantic. Beneath four feet of heavy south London clay, archaeologists have uncovered the remains of Henry VII's lost chapel at Greenwich.

The site is where he and a host of his Tudor successors - Henry VIII, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I - worshipped.

The existence of the chapel, part of the Royal Palace of Placentia, a Tudor favourite but pulled down in the 17th century to be replaced by Greenwich Hospital - now the Old Naval College - has long been known from paintings and records.

But until a bulldozer's bucket scraped against brickwork a month ago, no physical evidence of the chapel had ever been discovered.

Careful scratching away by a team of four archaeologists from the Museum of London has revealed the eastern walls of the chapel, a 10ft by 5ft section of floor made from black and white glazed tiles laid geometrically, and, beneath, a so-far unexplored vault.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006


New government proposals for reducing traffic congestion around Stonehenge have been criticised by archaeological groups and the National Trust.

The proposals were outlined on January 23 2006 after the cost of a previous scheme to create a 2.1 kilometre tunnel soared to £510 million.

The new plans include a scheme that would install new roads either to the north or south of the site, a ‘cut and cover’ tunnel past Stonehenge or an option featuring the closure of the nearby A344 and construction of the Winterbourne Stoke Bypass.

But the National Trust, which manages the land around the site, has responded with fierce criticism of the new plans.

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Study: Viking Teeth Were Groovy

Viking warriors filed deep grooves in their teeth, and they likely had to smile broadly to show them off, according to new finds in four major Viking Age cemeteries in Sweden.

Caroline Arcini of Sweden's National Heritage Board analyzed 557 skeletons of men, women and children from between 800 and 1050 A.D. They discovered that 22 of the men bore deep, horizontal grooves across the upper front teeth.

"The marks are traces of deliberate dental modifications ... they are so well-made that most likely they were filed by a person of great skill," Arcini wrote in the current issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Traces of teeth mutilation have been found in all parts of the world except Europe, with the practice reaching its peak from 700 to 1400 A.D., during the height of the Viking Age.

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Medieval moat wins facelift cash

One of north Worcestershire's most important ecological and archaeological sites is to be restored thanks to the hard work of residents.

Moons Moat in Redditch was neglected and overgrown until a group of people started to clean it up.

A conservation group was formed and now the 14th Century landmark is to be spruced up and enjoyed once more.

The group has won its bid for £24,000 from a local heritage scheme to excavate it and restore it to glory.

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In showing us objects and documents from the past, museums help us understand the present. So when a museum designs an event to ask pertinent questions of our time, and even attempts to help solve some of the problems we face, the result can be very special.

Pilgrimage – The Sacred Journey, running at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, from January 11 – April 2 2006, was developed in response to the events of 9/11 and our current problems of extremism and isolation within religious traditions.

It is the first exhibition in a new series presented by the Ashmolean Inter-Faith Exhibition Service (AIFES) and explores the role of pilgrimage in Christianity, Islam, Judaism and the religions of South Asia.

The exhibition aims to show the differences between faiths, and similarities within their religious experiences, through displaying items of their artistic heritage and traditions.

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The Environment Minister Jeff Rooker has launched the Natural Stone Weathering database project.

The Minister said: "This is a first for Northern Ireland and it will make a great contribution to the sustainable management of our built heritage."

The Project is funded by the Environment and Heritage Service through the EU Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme and is being carried out by a partnership between Consarc Design Group and Queen's University Belfast.

Natural stone has a long history of use on buildings and monuments throughout Northern Ireland. There is a wide variety of stone types used and when first constructed, local availability of materials dictated what to use. This has given each area its distinctive character of built heritage, for example, granite is widely used in the Mourne region while basalt provides much of the stone used in Co Antrim.

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Archaeologists have discovered the skeletons of 1,300 people in a Medieval cemetery.

Experts believe the discovery, in the city centre, is the largest of its kind outside London.

The site was uncovered at the former St Margaret's Baths site, in St Peter's Lane, which is being redeveloped as part of the £350 million Shires extension.

Archaeologists said the finds would vastly improve their understanding of everyday life in Medieval Leicester.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

£30m bid to save castle by giving mountains away

A deal that could lead to a clan chief giving an iconic mountain range to the nation in return for having his crumbling castle repaired is the subject of a £30 million bid for National Lottery funding.

The application is one of the biggest submitted and, if successful, it will bring the rugged Black Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye into community ownership.

A major tourist attraction and a popular challenge for climbers, they are owned by John MacLeod of MacLeod, the 29th chief of his clan.

He caused an outcry six years ago when he tried to sell the mountains for £10 million to raise the money needed to fix damage caused by the leaking roof on his ancestral home, Dunvegan Castle.

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Italians Unveil Secret of Bulgaria's Precious Thracian Head

Italy's restorers have unveiled the secret hidden in the eyes of King Sevt III's unique bronze mask discovered in Bulgaria, archeologist Georgi Kitov has said.

The sculptors who have worked on the mask probably knew a lot about chemistry too, Kitov was quoted as saying by actualno.com.

Italian restorer Edilberto Formili has discovered that the eyes of the unique Thracian mask were made from a glass paste mixed with alabaster and iron, which produced the brownish tint in Sevt III's look. The bottoms of the eyeballs were painted in red, which was also restored so that they look more natural, Kitov added.

Before the restoration, archaeologists in Bulgaria thought that Sevt III's eyes were made of ivory, but that turned out wrong, Kitov said.

The unique bronze head will be displayed in Italy from February 14 until mid-May. Upon its return, Bulgarian restorers, who have taken up the bronze parts, will complete the renovation.

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Five options for Stonehenge roads listed

The government published five options for road schemes around the ancient monument of Stonehenge on Monday, including a tunnel under the site rejected as too expensive last year.

The circular monument of massive stones in Wiltshire lies between two busy roads, one carrying up to 33,000 vehicles a day.

Conservationists and government agencies responsible for the site have for years been seeking a way of reducing or diverting the traffic to improve the monument's immediate surroundings.

Built between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC as a temple, burial ground, astronomical calendar or all three, the stone circle has been described as "Britain's pyramids".

Tourists are drawn to Stonehenge throughout the year and on the summer solstice -- the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere -- up to 30,000 revellers and druids converge there for a night of celebration.

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Stonehenge road 'a risk to birds'

Alternatives to an underground road tunnel at Stonehenge could threaten the recovery of one of Britain's rarest birds, the RSPB has warned.

The society said proposals for two overground routes would destroy nesting and roosting sites of the stone curlew, which only has two UK strongholds.

It said the plans would also harm prospects for more than 25 other bird species and 14 butterfly species.

The Highways Agency has raised its estimate of tunnelling costs to £480m.

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Stonehenge Tunnel U-Turn Would Wipe Out Birds

One of Britain's rarest birds faces being wiped out if plans to build a road tunnel near Stonehenge are scrapped by the Government, campaigners have warned.

Two over-ground alternatives to the tunnel, set to be detailed in consultation documents due today (Monday), would destroy nesting and roosting sites of the secretive stone curlew at the ancient site on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

Stone curlew numbers plummeted after World War Two because of modern farming methods, but last year the species reached a national recovery target five years early.

The bird has two UK strongholds, one of which is the area surrounding the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. The new road plans would also harm prospects for more than 25 other bird species and at least 14 types of butterfly.

One hundred and three pairs of the shy, nocturnal stone curlew nested in Wessex last summer, on Salisbury Plain, Porton Down and Normanton Down - a third of the UK population.

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Ancient furnace sparks archaeological interest

A UNIQUE site in the whole of the Eastern Mediterranean and expected to shed more light on ancient copper mining has been uncovered in the Mathiatis area, about 20km south of Nicosia.

It consists of the base of a copper smelting furnace with its last charge of slag still in place.

The discovery was made by students participating in an educational research programme in cooperation with Inter Community School Cyprus Project 2005, under the direction of Dr Walter Fasnacht. The participants from the staff of the Department of Antiquities were G. Georgiou, archaeologist, and E Christophi, technician.

The furnace part was treated and restored in the conservation workshop of the Cyprus Museum, where it is now exhibited.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Minoan settlement after destruction by earthquakes

Earthquakes were responsible for the destruction of a Minoan settlement on the island of Karpathos. That was the conclusion drawn following excavations conducted last year at Fournoi Afiatis on Karpathos under the direction of Manolis Melas, a professor of archaeology. The dig was part of a research program by the Dimokritio University of Thrace.

The ceramic fragments scattered about the fields facing the buildings and stratigraphic data showed that the area to the northeast of the settlement was first used in the Minoan palatial era.

But the excavation revealed that some 2,000 years later, at the end of the Late Roman period, the area was again in use.

The dig began in 2001 and uncovered the remains of stone foundations and the floors of two houses and also of farm walls from the same period.

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Campaign group makes henges call

HERITAGE campaign group, TimeWatch has called for international support in the battle to save the Thornborough Henges from the threat of quarrying nearby.
Quarry company Tarmac Northern Ltd was granted a delay to the planning process while it carried out further archaeological investigations at its proposed quarry site at Ladybridge Farm, half a mile from the triple henge complex.

These have now been completed and there is a new consultation process ahead of the the North Yorkshire County Council planning meeting on February 21 which will determine the firm’s application.

"As a result of Tarmac's latest work, English Heritage have confirmed that the proposals will destroy archaeology of national importance," said TimeWatch chairman George Chaplin this week. "This has vindicated our position and proves the area needs to be regarded as part of the setting of the Thornborough Henges complex".

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See also ...

There is currently a planning application and the consultation period ends
on 3rd February.

If you would like to help by writing a letter please contact:

Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology

Meeting of the UK Chapter
Archaeology, University of Southampton
March 30th and 31st 2006

The CAA UK chapter is intended as a forum for research in the area of
archaeological computing and quantitative methods. The chapter meeting
aims to facilitate exchange of ideas between researchers and cultural
resource managers, and is particularly focussed on the presentation of
new and innovative research areas. The meeting organisers are also
particularly keen to encourage new researchers to present their work for
the first time. We hope to be able to offer bursaries for student

Further Details ...

Time Team

5:55pm - 6:50pm
Channel 4

"I've got some skull here, but it's pretty smashed," says the burial expert as our gang of archaeologists starts delving at Glendon Hall in Northamptonshire. It proves to be a grisly dig: human remains turn up dotted around the house and grounds, sometimes layered three-deep, presenting the team with a tough challenge to determine who lived (and died) there - and when. Luckily, these guys really know their stuff. You have to love the way they can pull a grubby little chunk of pottery out of the earth and know instantly it's from a 12th-century jug handle or a Roman burial urn - and not, say, an Ikea plant pot. That's one of the joys of this series - returning tonight - as are the revealing graphics and the sense of past lives momentarily emerging from the shadows.

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Europe bids to halt tide of art smuggled to America

Court cases aim to break the billion-pound global trade in stolen antiquities that end up with wealthy US collectors and museums

A series of legal actions has been launched by European governments to regain priceless works of art which they claim have been illegally smuggled to America to be sold off to wealthy collectors and museums.

One of the highest profile cases is in France, where what has been dubbed 'The Affair of the Hebrew Manuscripts' is reaching its climax. The case centres on Michel Garel, a specialist in ancient documents at the National Library in Paris, who is alleged to have systematically pillaged medieval religious texts to satisfy a demand from America. One manuscript, a 600-year-old French Hebrew version of the biblical books of the Pentateuch, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and the Lessons of the Prophets, has been traced to a New York collector who bought it for £200,000 at Christie's. Garel, who maintains his innocence, is to appear before a French court on theft charges.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Archaeological Study Tour to Germany

27 May to 2 June 2006

An archaeological study tour to Germany based in Trier and including visits to Aachen, Köln, Lorscj, Speyer, Worms and Mainz.

Further details are available here …

Archaeological Study Tour to the Lake District

13 to 19 April 2006

An EMAS archaeological study tour to the Lake District.

Further details are available here …

Get a Trowel!

In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to finds shops selling good quality trowels that are fit for archaeological work.

Many shops sell cheap, shoddily-made trowels that may be good enough for a weekend’s light DIY, but that certainly won’t stand up to the rigours of archaeological excavation.

Now, a group of archaeologists have created a website to help you get a trowel.
You can reach the Getatrowel site from the logo in the side bar, or from the link below.


German paper reports world’s oldest temple is in Şanlıurfa

One of Germany's leading newspapers, Die Welt, reported this week that the world's oldest temple, dating back around 12,000 years, is located on Göbekli Hill in Turkey's province of Şanlıurfa, said the Anatolia news agency.

According to an article titled “Holy Hill of the Hunters,” the temple was discovered by German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt, standing around 15 meters in height and located on a hill upon which a single tree stands.

Defining the area as the “cradle of civilization,” the paper said local people considered the lone tree a “will tree” and that this tradition was not so surprising since the temple was one of the most important sacred places of ancient times.

Indicating that previously a 9,000-year-old temple in Jordan was considered to be the world's oldest, the article said, “Some parts of ancient history should be rewritten after this discovery.”

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Neolithic axe head uncovered in Lancashire

History has been rewritten in Barnoldswick (East Lancashire, England) after a Neolithic axe head – dating back 6,000 years – was uncovered. Father and son Chris and Jordan Green were walking along Brogden Lane looking for Roman coins when they made their find, which has since been verified by the British Museum. The fact that people were living in the area back in 4000 BCE stunned the pair, as like most people they had always been led to believe that the first settlers in the area arrived in Anglo Saxon times in the days of Bernulfsuuick.

Mr Green is very keen on historical artefacts, but admits he had no idea when he picked up the 'stone' that it would turn out to have such a historical significance for the area. "It was just another stone to me, but Jordan recognised the axe from the cutting edge," he said. The 11-year-old has never studied the Neolithic age at school, but he was so determined he was right in his identification that his dad took the axe head home and sent photographs of it to the British Museum. A curator there not only confirmed its authenticity, but was also able to tell the pair that the axe was around 6,000 years old and that the grey-green rock it was made from probably came from Great Langdale in the Lake District where rock was quarried extensively by Neolithic people.

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Schoolgirl finds Bronze Age tool in playground

Second class pupil at St Brigid's National School in Greystones (co. Wicklow, Ireland), Laoise Mangan (9), in the summer months of last year, she discovered an odd looking stone on the ground while walking in the school yard. She brought the stone into her then teacher, Mr Martin Dodd, who, luckily, just happened to have a degree in Archaeology. Mr Dodd forwarded it to an acquaintance of his, Dr Muiris O'Sullivan, at the Department of Archaeology in U.C.D. To Laoise's surprise, the school received word shortly before Christmas that the stone dated from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age (2000 BCE), and was most probably used as a tool for scraping meat from animal hides.

Laoise is reportedly thrilled with her find, which has now been dubbed, 'Laoise's special stone' by teachers at St Brigid's. "Can you imagine it? It was so lucky. If she had brought it in to any other teacher they probably would have just thrown it away," said Mary Beausang, a teacher at St. Brigid's. "Now we have dozens of pupils bringing stones in from the yard to Mr Dodd for examination...and we will always check with him before we ask them to put them back in the yard!" she said.

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Necropolis tomb hailed as milestone find

Rome - Archaeologists said Friday they have spied what appears to be the roof of another tomb in a 3000-year-old necropolis, the latest discovery about a little-known, hut-dwelling people who preceded the legendary founders of Rome by some three centuries.

Archaeologist Alessandro Delfino said the roof is just meters away from a tomb he discovered and dug up on Thursday that appears to date to about 1 000 BC. The location was under Caesar's Forum, which is part of the sprawling complex of Imperial Forums in the heart of modern Rome.

Thursday's find set off a storm of excitement among archaeologists in Rome, as they anticipate a possible treasure trove of artifacts and architecture that could greatly enlarge knowledge about that period, which roughly straddles the transition from Bronze to Iron ages.

Finding another tomb could "indicate the existence of a series of tombs that were built well before the city's foundation," Delfino said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

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Secret of ancient Athens plague is being unraveled

Kerameikos, Athens’s ancient cemetery, has yielded conclusive evidence as to the nature of the plague that decimated a third of the population of the ancient city and influenced the outcome of the Peloponnesian Wars. Scientists at Athens University’s School of Dentistry have used molecular biology to help solve the riddle of one of history’s biggest mysteries.

Recent findings from a mass grave in the Ancient Cemetery of Kerameikos in central Athens show typhoid fever may have caused the plague of Athens, ending centuries of speculation about what kind of disease killed a third of the city’s population and contributed to the end of its Golden Age.

Examined by a group of Greek scientists coordinated by Dr Manolis Papagrigorakis of Athens University’s School of Dentistry, the findings provide clear evidence that Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi was present in the dental pulp of teeth recovered in remains from the mass grave.

The plague that decimated the population of Athens in 430-426 BC was a deciding factor in the outcome of the Peloponnesian Wars, ending the Golden Age of Pericles and Athens’s predominance in the Mediterranean.

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School dig uncovers Roman grave

A Roman grave has been uncovered during building works at a school in Cheddar in Somerset.

Construction of the new IT block at the Kings of Wessex School was paused when the skeleton was found during digging of a gas main.

Experts believe it be of a man aged about 50, who was buried in a coffin and was probably a pagan.

County council archaeologist, Steven Membery, described the discovery as a "really significant find."

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Iron Age 'David Beckham' unmasked

Scientists at Dundee University have helped to recreate the face of a man dubbed the Iron Age David Beckham because of evidence he gelled his hair.

Clonycavan Man, named after the area he was found, was one of two bodies discovered in a peat bog in the Republic of Ireland in 2003.

The chemical composition of the peat mummified the body, enabling scientists to recreate his face.

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Tomb discovered under Roman Forum

Site dates back hundreds of years before Rome’s founding

Archaeologists digging beneath the Roman Forum have discovered a 3,000-year-old tomb that predates the birth of ancient Rome by several hundred years.

State TV Thursday night showed an excavation team removing vases from the tomb, which resembled a deep well.

Archaeologists were excavating under the level of the ancient forum, a popular tourist site, when they dug up the tomb, which they suspect is part of an entire necropolis, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ladybridge Farm, Nosterfield. Report on an Archaeological Investigation

Last Friday NYCC published Tarmac's report regarding the latest
investigations at Ladybridge and a new consultation period started that will
end on 3rd February 2006

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Ahead of the game

New study reveals Neanderthals were as good at hunting as early modern humans

The disappearance of Neanderthals is frequently attributed to competition from modern humans, whose greater intelligence has been widely supposed to make them more efficient as hunters. However, a new study forthcoming in the February issue of Current Anthropology argues that the hunting practices of Neanderthals and early modern humans were largely indistinguishable, a conclusion leading to a different explanation, also based on archaeological data, to explain the disappearance of the Neanderthals. This study has important implications for debates surrounding behavioral evolution and the practices that eventually allowed modern humans like ourselves to displace other closely-related species.

"Each population was equally and independently capable of acquiring and exploiting critical information pertaining to animal availability and behavior," write the anthropologists, from the University of Connecticut, University of Haifa, Hebrew University, and Harvard University.

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Hair-gelled Celt may have been sacrificed

THE hair-gelled head of an ancient Celt, dubbed the Iron Age Beckham because of his slicked-back look, has been reconstructed by Scots scientists.

Examinations of the Clonycavan man, found fully preserved in a peat bog in Ireland, revealed he used a gel made from a mixture of plant oil and pine resin, believed to be from south-west France or Spain, on his hair.

The discovery has been held up as the first evidence of the trade of luxury goods between Ireland and Southern Europe 2,500 years ago.

Archaeologists suggest the gel may have been applied in an attempt to increase the man's diminutive stature - he was only 5ft 2in tall.

Now a team of scientists at the University of Dundee has reconstructed the Iron Age face from the man's preserved remains, and Dr Caroline Wilkinson, a forensic anthropologist, said that the discovery of the primitive hair product was one of the more "surprising" finds of the project.

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Ancient 'Cyclops' wall collapses

Part of a massive wall started in around 600 BC around the central Italian town of Amelia collapsed on Wednesday morning for reasons still unclear .

The so-called Polygonal walls around Amelia are famous not only for their age but also their size. Built out of huge polygonal stones, they are 8-10 metres high and about 3.5 metres thick .

The 20-metre section of wall which collapsed was undergoing restoration work in recent weeks although activity had been suspended for a few days because of bad weather .

Central Italy recorded record rainfall in December, a fact which experts are taking into account as they study the broken section .

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

No reason to alter M3 route, council argues

Irish Times
Wed, Jan 18, 06

The proposed route of the M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara was chosen
after extensive public consultation involving some 4,000 people and
culminating in a 28-day oral hearing by An Bord Pleanála, after which
the route was approved, the High Court was told yesterday.

There was no basis to alter that route unless a national monument was
discovered, and no such discovery had been made, Paul Gallagher SC, for
Meath County Council, said.

The route would be no more visible from the Hill of Tara than the
existing N3, and the visual impact of the motorway would be reduced by
landscaping works.

Mr Gallagher said the proposed route would not adversely affect the
national monument which is the Hill of Tara, and none of 38 sites
discovered during archaeological works along the route had been found
by any archaeologist to be national monuments.

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Remote sensing archaeology research at NASA

The Remote Sensing Archaeology Research at NASA Web site presents illustrative examples of remote sensing technologies to archaeological research. Remote sensing archaeology uses technological tools to explore ground features from a distance. This branch of archaeology includes aerial and satellite photography. NASA has pioneered the use of satellite photography in archaeology and has carried out detailed research on a few Mesoamerican sites. The Web site introduces remote sensing technologies, including: Colour Infrared Film (CIR); Thermal Infrared Multispectral Scanner (TIMS); Airborne Oceanographic Lidar (ADI); Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR); Microwave Radar; and others.

(Humbul Humanities Hub)

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Bulgarian Church Gets Hefty UNESCO Sum

Bulgaria's unique Boyana Church will receive USD 25 000 from UNESCO for repair after last summer's floods.

That has been announced by the organization's director-general, Koichiro Matsuura, when he met Bulgaria's ambassador to France Irina Bokova, the Bulgarian National Radio said Tuesday.

The money will be used to repair the church's air-conditioning system.

Located on the outskirts of Sofia, Boyana Church consists of three buildings.

The eastern church was built in the 10th century, then enlarged at the beginning of the 13th century by Sebastocrator Kaloyan, who ordered a second two-storey building to be erected next to it.

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Bring your own finds to archaeology evening

ARCHAEOLOGICAL finds from excavations in Huntingdon are set to be examined.

Cambridgeshire County Council's archaeology section and the Papworth Trust will be joined by historians to talk about the excavations at Walden House, Mill Common and Hartford Road.

And people are invited to bring their own ancient finds to Huntingdon's Commemoration Hall for identification on Wednesday, February 8.

Money raised will go towards the Saxongate Appeal to build a fully accessible community learning centre in Huntingdon.

Stephen Macaulay, project manager with Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "There have been a number of very important archaeological excavations in Huntingdon in recent years, especially in 2005, and this is a great opportunity to find out about these exciting finds as well as help the fundraising for the Saxongate Appeal."

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Mathiatis mine excavation project a success

The Department of Antiquities has announced that the South Mathiatis Mine Excavation Project has been "a full success on the archaeological side."

The excavation projet was carried out within the framework of an educational research programme in cooperation with Inter Community School Cyprus Project 2005, under the direction of Dr. Walter Fasnacht,

The goal of the project was to excavate all evidence of copper working threatened by erosion at the edge of South Mathiati Mine.

Students participating in the programme had the opportunity to excavate, learn about archaeological techniques in excavation and survey and visit other archaeological sites and monuments.

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Birger Stichelbaut wint provinciale prijs archeologie & kunstwetenschappen

De provincie Oost-Vlaanderen heeft haar vierjaarlijkse Provinciale Prijs voor Kunstgeschiedenis en Archeologie 2005 toegekend aan Birger Stichelbaut voor zijn inzending "Belgische militaire luchtfotografie tijdens WO I. Historische studie, luchtfoto-interpretatie en inventarisatie van zichtbare sporen. Een bijdrage tot de Vlaamse battlefield archaeology". Aan de prijs is een geldsom van 5000 euro verbonden.

De prijs voor kunstgeschiedenis en archeologie wordt om de vier jaar toegekend op basis van een recente publicatie. In de tussenliggende jaren worden prijzen uitgereikt aan verdienstelijke werken op het gebied van volkskunde, heemkunde en genealogie. Ze worden telkens toegekend aan een Oost-Vlaamse onderzoeker, of omwille van een Oost-Vlaams onderwerp.

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Dying trade of masonry to be given £2 million lifeline

A £2 million lifeline for Scotland's dying stonemasonry trade has been secured by Historic Scotland, it was announced yesterday.

The conservation body has been granted £2.28 million over the next four years to invest in traditional skills training, with £1 million coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund and more than £1 million from a variety of private and public organisations. It said the money will be crucial in maintaining Scotland's historic buildings.

Despite half of the UK's £56 billion construction industry being involved in the repair and refurbishment of buildings, conservationists have long warned of a traditional skills-shortage timebomb. The money will be used to train 154 people in masonry conservation skills.

Scotland's Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Patricia Ferguson, said the funding will have a positive knock-on affect for tourism and the economy.

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New discovery in Valley of Temples

Agrigento, January 17 - Archaeologists working in Sicily's Valley of the Temples have found traces of a settlement thought to pre-date the famous Greek temples built there in around 600 BC .

The valley near Agrigento on Sicily's southern coast is one of Europe's most important archeological sites. It marks a sacred area built when Greeks landed there to start the civilisation of Magna Grecia in southern Italy .

The discovery of a structure possibly built before the Greeks arrived came during preparatory work ahead of a project to shore up the ground near the Temple of Hera. Archaeologists uncovered a mysterious walled structure on top of which ancient Greeks had apparently built a shrine and a burial ground .

Until now it has been thought that Agrigento was settled by the Greeks soon after they began starting colonies in much of the Mediterranean in the 7th century BC .

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Scientists discover most fertile Irish male

Scientists in Ireland may have found the country's most fertile male, with more than 3 million men worldwide among his offspring.

The scientists, from Trinity College Dublin, have discovered that as many as one in twelve Irish men could be descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, a 5th-century warlord who was head of the most powerful dynasty in ancient Ireland.

His genetic legacy is almost as impressive as Genghis Khan, the Mongol emperor who conquered most of Asia in the 13th century and has nearly 16 million descendants, said Dan Bradley, who supervised the research.

"It's another link between profligacy and power," Bradley told Reuters. "We're the first generation on the planet where if you're successful you don't (always) have more children."

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Grant to examine road's history

A team of Lincolnshire archaeologists has received a grant of £24,000 to survey a Lincolnshire Roman road.
The group, based in Navenby, has been awarded the cash from the Countryside Agency over a period of three years.

The project will involve the collection of pottery and other artefacts from the surface with experts also conducting tests of the soil.

The discovery of the remains of a Roman settlement and an Anglo-Saxon burial site nearby has prompted interest.

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Lost village to be 'unearthed'

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are being called in to assist with the examination of a lost village in the hills above Fort William.

Despite being completely overgrown by a forestry plantation, the outline of the former settlement of Tollie, situated between the vitrified fort area of Glen Nevis, and Blar a Chaoruinnn near Blarmacfoldach, still remains visible.

At a meeting of Fort William Community Council, Allan MacKenzie, of the Forestry Commission's Forest Enterprise in Lochaber, advised members that it is "still all there to see".

The settlement, possibly dating from the 1840s, its variety of ruined houses, and the deepest corn kiln in the West Highlands are in evidence.

The village was wiped out 150 years ago - possibly due to an outbreak of cholera.

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Medieval monk's bones 'reburied'

The remains of a medieval monk discovered at a South Derbyshire stately home have been returned to their resting place.

A builder discovered the skeleton - nick-named Noel - in December at the National Trust property Calke Abbey.

The remains have been returned to the courtyard where they were found, following tests by an archaeologist.

Builder Mark Webster, who discovered the bones, said finding the skeleton was "quite fascinating".

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History buff hopes to prove existence of fabulous castle

A LOCAL history buff is hunting for information to prove that New Addington was once the site of a fabulous medieval fort.

Michael Lyons is convinced that stories he has been told about an 11th century castle existing in woods near Castle Hill Avenue are true.

He is now trying to track down the fort's foundations and is appealing for help to prove the rumours true as he thinks it could be turned into a tourist attraction for the area.

The 72-year-old chairman of the Royal British Legion branch, in Alwyn Close, has only recently heard stories of the fort's existence but has since been told by several other people they have heard similar stories.

But the tale has baffled local archaeologists - who have no records of any remains of buildings being in the woods.

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Old Roman coins dug up in field

A handful of ancient Roman coins have been dug up in a playing field in West Wickham, near Bromley, south London.

The artefacts may have been thrown into water for good luck by superstitious Romans, an archaeologist suggested.

They were discovered at the Sparrow's Den field during work by Thames Water to reduce flooding risk from sewers.

The low denomination coins, two of which depict Roman emperors Constantine and Diocletian, are said to date back to the Third and Fourth Centuries.

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Neanderthal man floated into Europe, say Spanish researchers

Spanish investigators believe they may have found proof that neanderthal man reached Europe from Africa not just via the Middle East but by sailing, swimming or floating across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Prehistoric remains of hunter-gatherer communities found at a site known as La Cabililla de Benzú, in the Spanish north African enclave of Ceuta, are remarkably similar to those found in southern Spain, investigators said. Stone tools at the site correspond to the middle palaeolithic period, when neanderthal man emerged, and resemble those found across Spain.

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Flip side of World Heritage status

IZAMAL, Mexico Off a lazy plaza in the historic center of Izamal, Mexico, across the street from a Franciscan monastery built in 1561 on top of a Maya pyramid, a small market putters along. Behind open arches painted golden yellow like every other colonial building in town, poor quality T-shirts cover the walls, their silly English slogans clearly targeted at local residents, as are the avocados and chirimoyas sold by an older woman nearby.

But squint a little, and it's easy to imagine a different future for this small Yucatan town. The bargain "No Problem" and "Sport Attitude" jerseys morph into crisp, overpriced Izamal T-shirts; the woman is still there, but selling knickknacks to tourists who've just toured the pyramids or the monastery, El Convento de San Antonio de Padua, with its nearly 1-hectare, or 2-acre, atrium. Then they will head off to picturesque hotels that do not yet exist.

If municipal officials have their way, Izamal, or at least the convent, will be designated the eight-hundred-and-somethingth Unesco World Heritage site, and that new tableau will be all but ensured.

The phrase Unesco World Heritage site has been crossing from the lips of travel agents and popping up more and more on travel Web sites. That's no coincidence: The list has grown steadily from the first 12 in 1978 to 812 today, and includes everything from the Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat to the Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland and the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape in Mongolia.

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Die antiken Mosaiken aus Ravenna in Dresden

Die Originale gibt es natürlich nicht zu sehen, die sind wie seit Jahrhunderten an den Decken und Wänden in den sakralen Bauten Ravennas. Aber insgesamt werden an der TU Dresden 23 orgininalgetreue Repliken gezeigt, die in ihrer Gesamtheit Einblicke in die Schönheit verschiedener antiker Mausoleen, Basiliken, Kapellen und weiterer Kirchenbauten Ravennas und damit auch in die Geschichte des oströmisch-byzantinischen Reiches geben.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Concerns over airport growth

SOUTH Bedfordshire District Council wants 'further work' to be carried out on Luton Airport's expansion plans because it believes they could seriously damage the environment.

Last week we revealed details of a district council report in which 'concerns' were raised surrounding the plans.

Councillors met to discuss the concerns on Tuesday, in response to a master plan consultation process, and have formally accepted a string of recommendations.

The concerns surrounding the master plan, which was published last October, included that it was 'unacceptable due to its very large land take and consequent environmental impact'.

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De Viking Uw Vriend?

De Leuvense studentenkring voor archeologen Alfa stelt tentoon: 'De Viking - Vriend en Vijand' is vanaf 17 februari te bezichtigen in de Universiteitsbibliotheek op het Ladeuzeplein. Met deze gratis expositie willen de jonge archeologen-in-spe de beruchte Vikingen van een andere kant belichten. De culturele meerwaarde die dit Scandinavische volk aan Europa gaf is immers legio: voor veel van onze huidige gebruiken, kennis, tradities, enz... zijn we aan hen schatplichtig.

De Vikingen. Zijn dat niet die goddeloze plunderaars, moordenaars, verkrachters uit de onrustige nadagen van het Karolingische Rijk? Zij verschenen plotseling met hun snelle drakkars overal waar in handels- en kloosternederzettingen rijkdom te rapen viel, en ze waren, nog vóór de lokale machthebbers konden ingrijpen, al even snel weer weg. Hun terreurdreiging verlamde het dagelijks bestaan. De bezadigde Alcuinus noteerde letterlijk: "Nooit voordien heerste er in Brittannië zulke terreur als we nu hebben ondergaan vanwege een heidens ras, noch hielden we het voor mogelijk dat men zo snel van overzee kon binnenvallen."

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Edinburgh's World Heritage status 'at risk'

EDINBURGH is in danger of losing its status as a World Heritage Site, one of Unesco's senior advisory bodies has warned.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which advises Unesco, is outraged by the twin towers of Sir Norman Foster's Quartermile development near the city's Meadows park.

The body has told Scotland on Sunday that Edinburgh's unique skyline will be pierced by Foster's tower blocks, which could result in the city being stripped of its World Heritage Site status.

The centrepiece of plans for the Quartermile project, which will re-develop much of the former site of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, will be two 11-storey blocks of flats. There are also proposals for a major public square in the heart of a new commercial district and a luxury hotel.

A spokesman for ICOMOS said: "The city's skyline and its overall visual coherence are brought out strongly in the nomination document for World Heritage status. The coherence and integrity of the World Heritage Site are closely linked to its skyline as well as to the inter-relationship of individual buildings.

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