Saturday, December 22, 2007

Reindeer: It's What Was For Dinner

Reindeer meat went from being an occasional treat to everyday fare among prehistoric cavemen who lived in Southwest France and what is now the Czech Republic, two new studies suggest.

In fact, so many nibbled-on reindeer bones were present in their caves that possible calendars circa 26,000 years ago might have been carved on the leftover bones. They may have also been used as counting devices or for ornamentation.

The first study, authored by J. Tyler Faith, analyzed bones found in limestone cave and rock shelters at a site called Grotte XVI at Dordogne near Bordeaux. The numbers and types of bones revealed plenty -- how, for instance, the hunters butchered the meat, how far they traveled to hunt, and details about populations of the animals themselves.

"If an archaeological assemblage of large mammals is dominated by only the most nutritional skeletal parts (thigh bones, for example), it suggests that the other skeletal elements of lower nutritional value (foot bones, skulls, little bones) were probably discarded at the kill site," Faith told Discovery News.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Evolving Bigger Brains through Cooking: A Q&A with Richard Wrangham

Our intelligence has enabled us to conquer the world. The secret for the big brains, says biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham, is cooking, which made digestion easier and liberated more calories.

A couple of million years ago or so, our hominid ancestors began exchanging their lowbrow looks for forehead prominence. The trigger for the large, calorie-hungry brains of ours is cooking, argues Richard W. Wrangham, the Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. He hit on his theory after decades of study of our closest cousin, the chimpanzee. For the Insights story "Cooking Up Bigger Brains," appearing in the January 2008 Scientific American, Rachael Moeller Gorman talked with Wrangham about chimps, food, fire, human evolution and the evidence for his controversial theory. Here is an expanded interview.

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Ancient Villas Restored in Rome

ROME (AP) - The restored ruins of two opulent Roman villas and private thermal baths will open to the public Saturday, along with a 3-D reconstruction that offers a virtual tour of the luxurious residences discovered in downtown Rome.

The 19,375-square-foot complex, dating from the second to fourth centuries, features well-preserved mosaic and marble floors, bathtubs and collapsed walls that archaeologists believe belonged to a domus - the richly decorated residences of Rome's wealthy and noble families.

``We found part of a residential high-class neighborhood, where probably senators and knights used to live,'' archaeologist Paola Valentini said.

Visitors will be able to walk on glass catwalks above the villas' underground remains, immersed in semidarkness just a few feet from the modern city. A 3-D virtual reconstruction recreates the elaborate decorations of the ancient residences through colored lights and projections.

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Newgrange solstice broadcast on web

The winter solstice at the Newgrange passage tomb in Co Meath was broadcast live on the internet this morning.

Today's live stream began at 8.30am today, and the phenomenon will be broadcast at the same time tomorrow on the Heritage Ireland website.

Light streams into the chamber every year as the sun rises after the longest night of the year.

Thousands apply annually for permission to witness the first rays of light creep through the ancient monument, but only a handful are allowed access to the structure's main chamber.

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The sands of time have been rapidly eroding at the Orkney Bronze Age site, the Links of Noltland. Before everything is lost to the sea around the island of Westray, Historic Scotland have been carrying out a thorough excavation to learn everything they can.

The dig at the ancient dune-protected houses has now turned up an unexpected and impressive discovery dating to Neolithic times, archaeologists have announced following the conclusion of their work.

“A previously unknown Neolithic structure has been found that is very different from anything else known to exist at this remarkable site,” explained Peter Yeoman, Historic Scotland senior archaeologist.

“It was built using dressed stone and was clearly intended to look impressive from the outside. This marks it out from houses of the time, the exteriors of which tended to be created with function rather than looks in mind.”

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Evolution tied to Earth movement

Geologists say 'Wall of Africa' allowed humanity to emerge

Scientists long have focused on how climate and vegetation allowed human ancestors to evolve in Africa. Now, University of Utah geologists are calling renewed attention to the idea that ground movements formed mountains and valleys, creating environments that favored the emergence of humanity.

“Tectonics [movement of Earth’s crust] was ultimately responsible for the evolution of humankind,” Royhan and Nahid Gani of the university’s Energy and Geoscience Institute write in the January, 2008, issue of Geotimes, published by the American Geological Institute.

They argue that the accelerated uplift of mountains and highlands stretching from Ethiopia to South Africa blocked much ocean moisture, converting lush tropical forests into an arid patchwork of woodlands and savannah grasslands that gradually favored human ancestors who came down from the trees and started walking on two feet – an energy-efficient way to search larger areas for food in an arid environment.

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Study of shipwreck reveals treasure trove of details

HE DEPARTMENT of Antiquities yesterday announced the completion of the first underwater research project of the Mazotos shipwreck.

Its study is expected to be of great significance for the nautical and economic history of the Eastern Mediterranean as it is one of the very few shipwrecks of the Classical period found in such a good state of preservation, the department said.

“The results will throw light on important research questions such as the commercial relations between the North Aegean and the South Eastern Mediterranean and the role of Cyprus in these transport routes during the last phases of the Cypriot city-kingdoms as well as on types and sizes of ships amongst others,” it said.

The project was undertaken by the Research Unit of Archaeology of the University of Cyprus in agreement with the Department of Antiquities and with funding and logistical support from the Thetis Foundation. It is the first time a project of this kind has been exclusively undertaking by Cypriot institutions.

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Mountains of Evidence Suggest Human Evolution Had Rocky Start

Geology may be a long-overlooked, major factor that created conditions favoring the evolution of modern humans.

That's the conclusion of geologists at the University of Utah, who detail their findings in next month's issue of the journal Geotimes.

It's fairly well-established that changing climate, and thus vegetation, in East Africa spurred human evolution, but there has been no agreement about what exactly caused that change, said Royhan Gani

He thinks the riddle's answer is in rocks, and how big slabs of it move — altering continents and building mountains — by a process called tectonics.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Record-breaking haul from Gaul discovered at farm in Brittany

Asterix and Obelix, had they existed, might have paid for their mead and other magic potions with gold-silver-copper coins stamped with elaborate images of men and horses.

The largest treasure trove of pre-Roman, Gaulish money ever to be found has been discovered in central Brittany.

The 545 coins – each worth thousands of euros to collectors but priceless to historians and archaeologists – could overturn much of the received wisdom about the complexity, and wealth, of pre-Roman Celtic society in France. Why was such enormous wealth, a king's ransom at the time, buried in the grounds of a large Gaulish farm 40 miles south of Saint-Brieuc in the first century BC? Why was the hoard never recovered?

"Treasure on this scale would only have been used for transactions between aristocratic families," said Yves Menez, an archaeologist specialising in iron-age Brittany. It has always been assumed that the Celtic nobility lived in fortified towns, not in the wild and dangerous countryside. "The reality must have been more complex," Mr Menez said. Like all Gaulish coins, the 58 "stateres" and 487 quarter "stateres" found near to the village of Laniscat are copies of early Greek money.

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Skeletons give clue to origins of Priory

THE remains of a chapel and graves dating back 600 years, including parts of four skeletons, have been unearthed in Priory Park.

Contractors exploring a trench laid to put in pipework found what is thought to be the walls of a chapel or chapter house - somewhere the monks from the original Priory would have met to conduct their business.

Archaeologists working in the grounds during the extensive £6.5 million refurbishment work are excited by the discovery of what they believe to be a stone-built place of worship little more than 100 yards from the front entrance of today's main Priory building.

Archaeologist David Williams, who has been involved in the dig, said: "I'd stick my neck out and say that what is here is the original Priory Church. The date is uncertain. At the earliest it is 13th century.At the latest, it is 1530s during the dissolution of the monasteries."

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New dating methods amongst the Top 10 Scientific discoveries of the Year

Time Magazine has named a study by Oxford researchers, using new dating techniques on a human skull to help find out where our most recent common ancestor came from, as one of the Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of the Year.

The skull was discovered more than 50 years ago near the town of Hofmeyr in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. It is thought to be 36,000 years old, according to a study published in the journal Science in January 2007. The finding by Oxford researchers in collaboration with Stony Brook University, New York, supports a growing body of genetic evidence which suggests that humans originated in sub-Saharan Africa and migrated into the Old World around this date.

The international team used a new application of dating methods developed by Dr Richard Bailey and his colleagues from the School of Geography and the Environment, the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the Department of Earth Science. Traditional radiocarbon dating of the Hofmeyr skull was not possible because so much carbon had been leached from the bone while it lay buried in sediment.

Instead the researchers measured the amount of radiation that had been absorbed by sand grains that filled the inside of the skull’s braincase. Measurements of radioactive isotopes in the sediment, combined with a sophisticated radiation transport model using data from a CT scan of the skull, allowed them to calculate the yearly rate at which radiation had been delivered to the sand grains. From this, the researches were able to determine that the Hofmeyr skull had been buried for 36,000 years.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Swiss, EBay Stop Sale of Iraqi Treasure

GENEVA (AP) — A 4,000-year-old clay tablet authorities suspect was smuggled illegally from Iraq was pulled from eBay just minutes before the close of the online auction, authorities said Tuesday.

Criminal proceedings have been launched against the seller, identified only as a resident of Zurich, officials said.

A German archaeologist had spotted the tablet bearing wedge-shaped cuneiform script on the online auctioneer's Swiss Web site,, a government official said.

The archaeologist alerted German authorities, who passed the tip onto their Swiss counterparts, said Yves Fischer, who directs the Swiss Federal Office of Culture's department on commerce in cultural objects.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Political Antiques

Why did Italian leaders wait almost a year to unveil Rome's latest archaeological finds? The answer is as old as the city itself.

For Italians, the collapse of a 16th-century wall on Rome's Palatine Hill was symbolic. Blaming the 2005 cave-in on budget cuts by the center-right Berlusconi government, many felt that the nation's inability to protect its heritage signaled that the country too was crumbling. That era may be over now, but the practice of exploiting Rome's cultural heritage for political gain is not.

Just this week Rome's mayor, Walter Veltroni, and Italy's vice premier and culture minister Francesco Rutelli gave journalists a sneak preview of the latest in a string of newly unveiled ancient discoveries on the Palatine Hill: four frescoed rooms in the 1st-century B.C. palace belonging to Augustus, who later became Rome's first emperor. The rooms have been restored to perfection and will go on view to the public next March.

Last month Veltroni and Rutelli unveiled another gem on the Palatine Hill: the "Lupercale," the ancient grotto where, legend has it, a she-wolf nursed Rome's founder, Romulus, and his twin brother, Remus. The showing of the Lupercale delighted Italians with the suggestion that the legend might be true. But while the romantics were studying the mythology, the cynics were asking questions about just why the finds were being shown off at that time.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

The great Kenilworth booze-up: how to party like it's 1575

It's gone down as the social event of the age – Robert Dudley's three-week bash for Elizabeth I. Now new documents reveal just how lavish it was

If you want to marry the Queen, you have to know how to party. At least, that seems to have been the Earl of Leicester's thinking more than 400 years ago.

Almost no one in England had a good word to say about Robert Dudley, one of the most colourful figures from the years when Elizabeth reigned – apart from the monarch herself, and other women who fell for him. In the eyes of the court, he was a murderer, a schemer, and an adulterer. When he died, soon after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, it was said that there was more rejoicing in England over Dudley's end than over the humiliation of the Spaniards.

But for all his faults, he was a charmer with a remarkable knack for cajoling titled ladies to join him between his expensive, monogrammed sheets. If there was one man that Elizabeth really fancied in all her self-denying life, it was Robert Dudley.

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Ancient racetrack at risk from new homes

ONE of the most important archaeological finds in Britain's oldest recorded town could still be encroached on by a housing development - despite receiving special recognition by the country's leading conservation organisation.

And Colchester MP Bob Russell has now called for the remains of the town's Roman Circus to be kept “sacrosanct” after it was formally listed as a scheduled ancient monument by English Heritage.

The 400 metre long chariot racetrack, discovered by archaeologists in 2004, is thought to be the largest known Roman building discovered in Britain and is regarded as being of huge historical significance.

But the underground ruins - found during exploratory digs for development company Taylor Wimpey - could still end up surrounded by modern buildings with one private garden covering over the foundations of a key element of the structure.

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Rare find highlights antiquities fears

Some 1,650 years ago someone was so comprehensively fed up with the state of the Roman empire that they committed an act of treason, blasphemy and probably criminal defacing of the coinage. They cursed the emperor Valens by hammering a coin with his image into lead, then folding the lead over his face.

The battered scraps of metal discovered by Tom Redmayne, an amateur metal detector, in a muddy field in Lincolnshire are a unique find.

The mid-fourth century was a time of turmoil in Roman Britain. A Roman aristocrat, Valentinus, had been exiled to Britain where he was stirring up trouble.

Thousands of Roman cursing charms survive, scrawled on pieces of lead with a hole punched to hang them up. Many were found thrown into the hot springs in Bath, demanding revenge on those guilty of petty theft.

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Experts uncover Prague's oldest ramparts

Archaeologists have uncovered parts of Prague's oldest ramparts, dating back to the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries, thus verifying the then Jewish globetrotter Ibrahim ibn Jaqub's description of Prague as "a town made of stone and lime," the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote Monday.

The fortification, the remnants of which have been uncovered at Malostranske namesti square in what is now the historical centre of Prague, were made of wood and clay and might have been up to 6 metres high.

The archaeologists uncovered the remnants of wall in the cellar of the Academy of Performing Arts building, 5 metres underground. A thousand years ago the walls were part of one of Prague's main entrance gates, though which the town was entered from the western and souther directions.

Although remnants of such old ramparts were uncovered elsewhere in Prague already before, the latest find has significantly upgraded the knowledge of the then Prague fortification, and it is undoubtedly one of the most important findings of recent years, archaeologist Jarmila Cihakova is quoted as saying.

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Ancient secrets emerge from grave

The bones of six bishops buried more than 600 years ago have been identified using new hi-tech methods.

The medieval bishops, who died between 1200-1360, were discovered during an excavation at Whithorn Priory in Galloway between 1957 and 1967.

It was known the remains were of powerful churchmen of the Middle Ages, but their identities were a mystery.

But Historic Scotland research has shown when the men died, who several of them were and even what they ate.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Secrets of Roman town unearthed

New hi-tech investigations of a Roman town in Norfolk have revealed it to be one of international importance, leading archaeologists have said.

A high-resolution geophysical survey was carried out at the buried town of Venta Icenorum at Caistor St Edmund.

It has shown detail never seen before, including a semi-circular building which looks like a Roman theatre.

The survey also used a scanning device to map out buried remains across the entire walled area of the Roman town.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007


Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum is to take delivery of a spectacular Roman stone coffin unearthed by Wessex Archaeology in 2007.

The limestone coffin, weighing three metric tonnes was discovered as part of the excavation of a Roman cemetery containing over 200 burials next to a substantial Roman settlement on Boscombe Down.

When archaeologists lifted the lid off the coffin they were surprised to discover that it had not filled with soil. Instead, they looked down on the skeleton of a woman who was cradling a young child in her arms.

A unique environment had been created inside the coffin, which had slowed down the processes of decay so that, even after 1,800 years, the woman’s deer skin slippers still survived.

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Stunning survey unveils new secrets of Caistor Roman town

On the morning of Friday July 20, 1928, the crew of an RAF aircraft took photographs over the site of the Roman town of Venta Icenorum at Caistor St Edmund in Norfolk, a site which now lies in open fields to the south of Norwich.

The exceptionally dry summer meant that details of the Roman town were clearly revealed as parched lines in the barley. The pictures appeared on the front page of The Times on March 4, 1929 and caused a sensation.

Now, new investigations at Caistor Roman town using the latest technology have revealed the plan of the buried town at an extraordinary level of detail which has never been seen before. The high-resolution geophysical survey used a Caesium Vapour magnetometer to map buried remains across the entire walled area of the Roman town.

The research at Caistor is being directed by Dr Will Bowden of The University of Nottingham, who worked with Dr David Bescoby and Dr Neil Chroston of the University of East Anglia on the new survey, sponsored by the British Academy. Around 30 local volunteer members of the Caistor Roman Town Project also assisted.

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Ancient Roman Glue Sticks Around

Roman warriors repaired their battle accessories with a superglue that is still sticking around after 2,000 years, according to new findings on display at the Rheinischen Landes Museum in Bonn, Germany.

Running until Feb. 16, 2008, the exhibition "Behind the Silver Mask" presents evidence that the ancient adhesive was used to mount silver laurel leaves on legionnaires' battle helmets.

"It's a sensational find and a complete stroke of luck that we were still able to find traces of the substance after 2000 years," Frank Willer, the museum's chief restorer, told Discovery News.

Willer found traces of the superglue while examining a helmet unearthed in 1986 near the German town of Xanten, on what was once the bed of the Rhine.

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An undersea treasure hunt, playing out in a Spanish court

It's the stuff of pirate legend.

Countless Spanish ships – some loaded with gold and silver, all with dramatic histories to tell – sit at the bottom of the sea. In the ensuing centuries, these relics from an era when Spain ruled the oceans were largely ignored by their own country and left to decay in watery graves.

Ignored, that is, until May 2007, when Odyssey Marine Exploration, a privately owned American company, recovered some 500,000 silver coins from a shipwreck that may be Spanish.

Now Spain's culture ministry is fighting back. On Wednesday, it gathers archaeologists, regional government representatives, and members of the country's security forces to develop an effective plan to better protect Spain's sunken history.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

The thriving Roman town that slipped into oblivion

Ruins revealed by The Times in 1929 are found to be of ‘stunning international importance’

The Times caused a sensation almost 80 years ago when it revealed the discovery of an extraordinary street grid of a Roman town in Norfolk. It published dramatic aerial photographs that were taken from an RAF aircraft and which showed the pattern left in parched barley fields during the exceptionally dry summer of 1928.

Today The Times can reveal that the site of Venta Icenorum, which dates primarily from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD – and which may have been home to Boadicea, the ancient British queen – is far more significant than anyone had realised.

The latest scientific technology shows that the town, which today lies at Caistor St Edmund, south of Norwich, is one of “stunning international archaeological importance”, archaeologists say.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Great beasts peppered from space

Startling evidence has been found which shows mammoth and other great beasts from the last ice age were blasted with material that came from space.

Eight tusks dating to some 35,000 years ago all show signs of having being peppered with meteorite fragments.

The ancient remains come from Alaska, but researchers also have a Siberian bison skull with the same pockmarks.

The scientists released details of the discovery at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, US.

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Archaeologists unearth ancient pits

ARCHAEOLOGISTS preparing the ground for a new building at an Anglo-Saxon village have discovered the remains of three pits dating back 1,500 years.

The unexpected find, at the site in West Stow, near Bury St Edmunds, was made during preparation work for a new timber construction that will be home to heritage displays and study facilities when it opens in the summer.

It is now hoped that a mysterious black substance in the pits will help answer age-old questions about their purpose, and give a better understanding of Anglo-Saxon life.

“The process of revealing West Stow's Anglo Saxon past is fascinating,” said Alan Baxter, heritages services manager at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which owns the site.

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Human evolution is 'speeding up'

Humans have moved into the evolutionary fast lane and are becoming increasingly different, a genetic study suggests.

In the past 5,000 years, genetic change has occurred at a rate roughly 100 times higher than any other period, say scientists in the US.

This is in contrast with the widely-held belief that recent human evolution has halted.

The research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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Spartans did not throw deformed babies away: researchers

ATHENS (AFP) - The Greek myth that ancient Spartans threw their stunted and sickly newborns off a cliff was not corroborated by archaeological digs in the area, researchers said Monday.

After more than five years of analysis of human remains culled from the pit, also called an apothetes, researchers found only the remains of adolescents and adults between the ages of 18 and 35, Athens Faculty of Medicine Anthropologist Theodoros Pitsios said.

"There were still bones in the area, but none from newborns, according to the samples we took from the bottom of the pit" of the foothills of Mount Taygete near present-day Sparta.

"It is probably a myth, the ancient sources of this so-called practice were rare, late and imprecise," he added.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rare Roman artefacts to go on show

A LEADING archaeologist spoke of his excitement as it emerged a collection of extremely rare Roman artefacts of international significance have been secured for the people of Ipswich.

The intricate pieces - dating from the revolt at Colchester by the warriors loyal to the Iceni queen Boudicca in AD60 or AD 61 - make up the first complete set of Roman cavalry decorations ever found in Britain.

The items, found in a Holbrook field by a metal detecting enthusiast in August 2004, represent one of the most exciting archaeological finds in the area ever.

It is thought they were stolen as booty from the ransacked Roman capital at Colchester and brought north before being buried in Holbrook for safe-keeping.

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Roman all around the Olympic Park

THE first evidence of the earliest Londoners and Romans has been discovered in the Olympic Park in Stratford.

The Museum of London's archaeology team has unearthed the fascinating finds. Digs on the site of the London 2012 aquatics centre have revealed evidence of an Iron Age settlement.

Fourth century pottery and a Roman coin have also been found on the Olympic Stadium site.

The finds will eventually form part of the Museum of London's collection, and will provide a record of archaeological investigations that are taking place as part of the programme of work to clear the site ahead of construction.

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Location: Worldwide Length: 34 min.
In this series of interviews with today’s news-makers, host Faith Haney of Central Washington University (CWU) explores cultural anthropology and archaeology. In the fifth episode, taped in September 2007, Faith queries Washington archaeologist Scott Williams about his search for the “Beeswax Shipwreck of Nehalem.” On the northern Oregon Coast, near the mouth of the Nehalem River, beeswax chunks, other cargo, and even parts of a ship have been turning up over the past two centuries. Is this a lost Spanish galleon from the 17th Century?

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Roman period surgery set on show

One of the most complete sets of surgical instruments from the ancient world has gone on show in the Italian city of Rimini.

Archaeologists there have been excavating the house of a surgeon who operated nearly 2,000 years ago.

They found more than 150 different surgical instruments, like scalpels, scissors, weighing scales, and forceps.

The house was built in the 2nd Century AD and destroyed by fire in the barbarian invasions a century later.

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£8m facelift for ancient Roman frescoes

The fresco-covered palace of Emperor Augustus on the Palatine Hill in Rome will partially reopen to the public on March 2 next year after decades of restoration work, officials said yesterday.

Since the palace closed in the 1980s, experts have spent more than €12 million (£8.63 million) to restore the porticoed garden of Rome's first emperor and to piece together precious frescoes reduced to fragments over the centuries. The palace was built in the 1st century BC.

Groups of up to 10 people will be guided through the decorative marvels in Augustus' studio and in the hall where the emperor received guests, as well as rooms in the nearby palace built for his wife Livia.

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Dining, Roman-style, as London dig finds history by the bucketful

Wine buckets, bowls and dishes with an elegant beaded design are among a spectacular Roman hoard of international importance that has been discovered in London.

Archaeologists have unearthed more than 1,100 objects dating from the first to third centuries AD that they described yesterday as unprecedented in size and scale.

The finds, which will give dramatic new insight into Londinium, the Roman city, include the most complete timber door to have survived anywhere in the Roman Empire, as well as shiny metal vessels in an exceptional state of preservation and the large-scale remains of an entire Roman streetscape.

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Fungus Once Again Threatens French Cave Paintings

PARIS, Dec. 8 — For the second time in a decade, fungus is threatening France’s most celebrated prehistoric paintings, the mysterious animal images that line the Lascaux cave in the Dordogne region of southwest France, scientists say.

Black patches linked to mold are threatening the Lascaux cave paintings in France; they can be seen above the horns of this cow on a cavern wall. Scientists are not sure why the mold took hold.

No consensus has emerged among experts over whether the invading patches of gray and black mold are the result of climate change, a defective temperature control system, the light used by researchers or the carbon dioxide exhaled by visitors.

But after inspection by a team of microbiologists, the government has approved a new treatment of the blemishes with a fungicide and ordered that the cave be sealed off for as long as four months so that its delicate environment can be stabilized.

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Neanderthal-human hybrid 'a myth'

Did modern humans interbreed with Neanderthals and, if so, did the mating result in a half-human, half-Neanderthal hybrid?

The answer is possibly 'yes' to the interbreeding but 'no' to the hybrid, according to the authors of a new study that is already making waves among anthropologists.

At the centre of the study, published online in the Journal of Human Evolution, and the current debate, is a 29,000 year old Romanian skull that is one of the oldest fossils in Europe with modern human features.

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Roman barge under Cologne to reveal shipping history

Cologne, Germany - Excited archaeologists are raising part of a Roman barge that sank near the wharf nearly 2,000 years ago in the German riverside city of Cologne. Cologne, which derives its modern name from the town's Latin name, Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, is full of Roman remains including a largely intact aqueduct.

But the oaken boat, found 12 metres below the surface during excavations a few days ago for an underground mass-transit line, is something special, offering scientists a new window into life in this cold northern Roman province.

A piece of the vessel's flat bottom, about 8 square metres in size, with huge iron nails poking out of it, is still in the mud between modern building machinery and materials.

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Roman ruins cast new light on a trip to doctor

An ancient doctor's surgery unearthed by Italian archaeologists has cast new light on what a trip to the doctor would have been like in Roman times. Far from crude, the medical implements discovered show that doctors, their surgeries and the ailments they treated have changed surprisingly little in 1,800 years.

A fresco from Pompeii depicts a physician on a house call
A physician on a house call kneels to tend the hero Aeneas in this fresco from Pompeii

Sore joints were common, patients were often told to change their diets, and the good doctor of the seaside town of Rimini even performed house calls.

Archaeologists have spent the past 17 years at the Domus del Chirurgo - House of the Surgeon - painstakingly excavating the site and compiling the world's most detailed portrait of medical treatment in Roman times. Their discoveries go on public display for the first time on Tuesday.

"This is the largest find of surgical instruments anywhere," said Dr Ralph Jackson, the curator of the Romano-British collection at the British Museum and an expert in ancient medicine.

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Inner sanctum of first Roman emperor to go on show

ROME, Dec 10 (Reuters Life!) - Four frescoed rooms in the eastern wing of the house of Augustus, where he lived before becoming Rome's first emperor, will open to the public for the first time next year after three decades of restorations.

Italian archaeologists said on Monday the rooms dated from around 30 B.C. and had been buried -- which may explain why some of the paintings are so well preserved -- after Augustus moved to another residence on a higher level of the Palatine Hill.

The tiny rooms, first discovered in the late 1970s, are mostly painted in vivid red, blue and ochre. They include a cubicle on an upper floor known as the "studiolo", or small studio, where Augustus was thought to withdraw for privacy.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Glue used by the Romans has stuck around for 2,000 years

German archaeologists claim to have found traces of a glue they say was made by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago and used to mount silver laurel leaves on legionnaires' battle helmets.

Researchers at the Rhineland historical museum in Bonn said they had found remnants of the glue on a legionnaire's iron helmet unearthed near the town of Xanten. It had lain on what was once the bed of the Rhine for at least 1,500 years.

Frank Willer, the museum's chief restorer, said researchers came across the glue by surprise while removing a tiny sample of metal from the helmet with a fine saw. The heat from the tool caused silver laurel leaves decorating the helmet to peel off leaving thread-like traces of the glue behind.

"It is a sensational find and a complete stroke of luck that we were still able to find traces of the substance on the helmet after 2,000 years," Mr Willer said.

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Ancient wood, ropes discovered in Romania

BUCHAREST, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- The Romanian archaeologists have discovered well-preserved wood and ropes of 3,000 years old at Beclean of Romania's northern Bistrita-Nasaud County, officials said on Wednesday.

The objects, found in the bed of a highly salted river near Baile Figa, have been well preserved due to the salted mud, said Valeriu Kavruk, curator of the Museum of the Eastern Carpathians based in Sfantu Gheorghe, central Romania.

The laboratory tests with Carbon 14 showed the objects dated from 1000 B.C., Kavruk said, adding that the Figa site represents "the most important archaeological discovery in the latest decades in South-Eastern Europe."

According to the curator, the importance of such a discovery resides not only in the fact that it is for the first time that wood and ropes made of ivy that old, very well preserved too, were found but also it is highly important such objects gave an idea about how salt was dug 3,000 years ago.

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Stonehenge road tunnel scrapped

Plans to build a road tunnel under Stonehenge have been scrapped.

The decision to axe the 1.3 mile tunnel along with a bypass to the west of the monument and a flyover to the east follows a detailed review of the plans by the Department for Transport.

It comes after ministers decided that the estimated £500 million bill for the scheme was too high.

Plans to improve the A303, one of the major arterial roads to the West Country, have been in a succession of transport ministers’ in-trays for more than 20 years.

Initially it was believed that the schemes would cost less than £200 million.

But the price tag soared as engineers discovered that the road building project would take place on soft and weak chalk and on land with a high water table on that section of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

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Ancient mtDNA from Iron Age Denmark

Rare mtDNA haplogroups and genetic differences in rich and poor Danish Iron-Age villages.

Melchior L, Gilbert MT, Kivisild T, Lynnerup N, Dissing J.

The Roman Iron-Age (0-400 AD) in Southern Scandinavia was a formative period, where the society changed from archaic chiefdoms to a true state formation, and the population composition has likely changed in this period due to immigrants from Middle Scandinavia. We have analyzed mtDNA from 22 individuals from two different types of settlements, Bøgebjerggård and Skovgaarde, in Southern Denmark. Bøgebjerggård (ca. 0 AD) represents the lowest level of free, but poor farmers, whereas Skovgaarde 8 km to the east (ca. 200-270 AD) represents the highest level of the society. Reproducible results were obtained for 18 subjects harboring 17 different haplotypes all compatible (in their character states) with the phylogenetic tree drawn from present day populations of Europe.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Neanderthal kids grew teeth faster than human kids

The Neanderthal has been grabbing a lot of headlines recently, now comes news a recent analysis reveals the teeth of Neanderthal children grew faster than the teeth of human children today, suggesting a long childhood and slow development are uniquely human traits.

Tooth development in all primates, specifically the age of molar eruption, is related to other developmental landmarks, such as weaning and first reproduction. Anthropologists have long debated the timing of such events in Neanderthals, with evidence both supporting and refuting the idea that our distant cousins grew up differently than we do.

To get a better handle on Neanderthal tooth development, anthropologists at the Max Planck Institute in Germany examined the growth lines on the teeth of a 100,000 year-old juvenile found in the Scladina caves of Belgium.

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Neanderthal bearing teeth

Tooth growth suggests rapid maturation in a Neanderthal child

An international European research collaboration led by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology reports evidence for a rapid developmental pattern in a 100,000 year old Belgian Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis). The report, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (online edition early December), details how the team used growth lines both inside and on the surfaces of the child’s teeth to reconstruct tooth formation time and its’ age at death. Scientists found differences in the duration of tooth growth in the Neanderthal when compared to modern humans, with the former showing shorter times in most cases. This faster growth resulted in a more advanced pattern of dental development than in fossil and living members of our own species (Homo sapiens). The Scladina juvenile, which appears to be developmentally similar to a 10-12 year old human, was estimated to be in fact about 8 years old at death. This pattern of development appears to be intermediate between early members of our genus (e.g., Homo erectus) and living people, suggesting that the characteristically slow development and long childhood is a recent condition unique to our own species.

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Roman throne discovered in Italian ruins

Remnants of the first known surviving Roman throne have been discovered in the lava and ash that buried the city of Herculaneum in the first century, archaeologists said Tuesday.

Decorated with ivory bas-reliefs depicting ancient deities, two legs and part of the back of the wooden throne were dug out between October and November. They were found 82 feet below ground near Herculaneum's Villa dei Papiri, a first century country home that is believed to have been the residence of Julius Caesar's father-in-law.

Herculaneum, Pompeii and Stabiae were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that killed thousands in the year 79. The layers of volcanic ash preserved the sites for centuries, providing precious information on domestic life in the ancient world.

Archaeologists said the throne was an exceptional find; furniture of its type had previously only been seen in artistic depiction.

"It's the first original throne from Roman times that has survived until today," Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, Pompeii's archaeological superintendent, told a news conference in Rome.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

4,000-year-old relic found near village

A HOLIDAYMAKER has discovered what could be a 4,000-year-old relic from the Bronze Age period in Sandsend.
Butcher Michael Dearden (56), from Micklefield in Leeds, was walking in the village with his wife Cathie (54) when he found the odd pot left on the top of a dry stone wall and took it home.

He said: “It’s all countryside out there and as we came round one bit, there was a dry stone wall and the urn was just placed on top of it. Someone must have put it there.

“The only thing I can think is that someone else had come across it and put it up there.

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Jorvik Viking Centre in York is celebrating its 15 millionth visitor with a special event on December 6 for a select group including the actual 15 millionth visitor.

The group, made up of competition winners and the Chief Executive of the City of York Council, Bill McCarthy, as well as the lucky visitor no. 15 million, will take a journey on foot through Jorvik’s reconstructed Viking age streets. The village is normally only accessible to the public via cable car.

Leading the tour will be one of the men that made the whole place happen, Richard Hall. Hall, now Deputy Director of York Archaological Trust, began excavating the very site upon which the Jorvik Centre is built, back in 1972, with the help of a 600-strong team.

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Priceless medieval manuscripts go inline via new web service

New technology allows scholars and the general public alike to explore priceless manuscripts thanks to an innovative project with The University of Sheffield and Tribal.

Kiosque will be on show for the first time as a core part of a new exhibition at the Royal Armouries in Leeds from 8th December, a fascinating exhibition that uses digital technology to reveal the secrets of exquisite medieval manuscripts in vivid, colourful detail.

Normally the £3m+ rare and valuable manuscripts are only available on special request to researchers and not usually accessible to the general public, as the original manuscripts have to be preserved in special storage conditions requiring humidity, light and temperature control.

From 2008 Tribal expects to make the software available to organisations across the arts, heritage, museums and libraries sectors.

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He digs less to learn more about Vikings

The joke is that, in John Steinberg's home, they know an awful lot about Vikings.

On one side you have his wife, Andrea Kremer, whose job requires her to be an expert on the Minnesota Vikings (and the other 31 National Football League teams) as a reporter for NBC Sports' football coverage.

And then there's Steinberg, a senior researcher at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, who is one of the world's foremost specialists on the real Vikings, the tough-guy (and girl) Scandinavian peoples who really knew how to blitz.

Steinberg, 41, has been exploring archeological sites in Iceland since 1999, and for the last two years has led the Skagafjord Archaeological Settlement Survey, which seeks to study the evolution of settlements in a northern fjord for clues as to how Iceland evolved from the era of Viking chiefdoms into a more organized central government.

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Mystery over ceramic head finds

Archaeologists are trying to solve the riddle of three mysterious ceramic heads that have been uncovered in Edinburgh and Dumfriesshire.

A bodiless male head was found after St Margaret's Loch in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, was partially drained.

A smaller female head was later discovered on grassland in the nearby Spring gardens.

A third disembodied head said to resemble The Scream painting by Edvard Munch was then found near Dumfries.

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Rare ancient wooden throne found in Herculaneum

ROME (Reuters) - An ancient Roman wood and ivory throne has been unearthed at a dig in Herculaneum, Italian archaeologists said on Tuesday, hailing it as the most significant piece of wooden furniture ever discovered there.

The throne was found during an excavation in the Villa of the Papyri, the private house formerly belonging to Julius Caesar's father-in-law, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, built on the slope of Mount Vesuvius.

The name of the villa derives from the impressive library containing thousands of scrolls of papyrus discovered buried under meters (yards) of volcanic ash after the Vesuvius erupted on 24 August 79.

Restoration of the throne is still ongoing with restorers painstakingly trying to piece back together parts of the ceremonial chair.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Proof of Liverpool's Viking past

The region around Liverpool was once a major Viking settlement, according to a genetic study of men living in the area.

The research tapped into this Viking ancestry by focusing on people whose surnames were recorded in the area before its population underwent a huge expansion during the industrial revolution. Among men with these "original" surnames, 50% have Norse ancestry.

The find backs up historical evidence from place names and archaeological finds of Viking treasure which suggests significant numbers of Norwegian Vikings settled in the north-west in the 10th century. "[The genetics] is very exciting because it ties in with the other evidence from the area," said Professor Stephen Harding at the University of Nottingham, who carried out the work with a team at the University of Leicester led by Professor Mark Jobling.

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The Oxford Experience Summer School

The Oxford Experience Summer School offers courses in archaeology, architectural history, history and history of language.

Online booking available from:

Sunday, December 02, 2007

EMAS Archaeological Study Tour to Cornwall

20 to 25 March 2008

Details of the EMAS Easter archaeological study tour to Cornwall are now on the Web.

You can find more information here...

Archaeological dig on blaze site reveals 'Cowgate palaces'

ARCHAEOLOGISTS digging at the site of the fire that devastated part of Edinburgh's Old Town have uncovered remains of buildings going back to the 16th century.

It is thought the homes may have belonged to some of the city's wealthiest inhabitants. Fragments of pottery, coins and pipes have been recovered from the site, where a major archeological dig is going on before a hotel is built in the next few years.

About half the area is being examined during the three-week project, the biggest archaeological analysis there since the blaze, which destroyed a number of buildings.

The area where fire struck in December 2002 was one of Edinburgh's most fashionable quarters in the 16th and 17th centuries - the so-called "palaces of the Cowgate". But by the mid-1800s it had degenerated into a notorious slum.

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Early Human Ancestors May Have Had "Harem" Societies

Some early human ancestors may have lived in "harem" societies much like those of modern gorillas and orangutans, a new fossil study suggests.

Such an arrangement is known to arise in some modern primate species when males mature later in life than females and become much larger than their mates.

In these cases a single dominant male mates with and protects a large harem of females.

The new find is based on analysis of fossils from the human relative Paranthropus robustus.

The primate species, which lived in Africa about 2 million to 1.2 million years ago, is closely related to early humans but is a dead-end branch of the family tree.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Olympic digs yield historic finds

Valuable archeological finds have been unearthed on two Olympics 2012 sites.
Pottery from the 4th Century and a Roman coin were found on the London stadium site and Iron Age activity found on the Aquatics Centre site.

The finds will form part of the Museum of London's collection but digging activity will not delay building work, the games' organisers say.

Archeological work to date the items and place them in historical context will now take place.

The first Londoners lived in thatched circular mud huts on the site that will house the Aquatics Centre, but in the Iron Age would have been a small area of dry land in a valley of lakes, rivers and marshes, archeologists believe.

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Wessex Archaeology is embarking on a voyage into the waters of marine heritage promotion in the South West.

The new project, supported by £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, aims to educate both school children and the public about the new ways marine heritage is being explored, and some of the amazing new discoveries that have been made. It covers four counties – Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Gloucestershire – and will involve ‘time travel’ learning packs for use in the classroom and on the web.

“In the last few years there has been an upsurge in the amount of work done on marine archaeology,” explained project leader Euan McNeill. “This ranges from surveying the submerged landscapes that Britain’s first pre-historic settlers walked on; to World War Two aircraft crash sites.”

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Visitors flock to crannog centre

AS THEIR woven hazel gates have closed for the season, the Iron Age team at the Scottish Crannog Centre are celebrating a remarkable and hugely successful 10th anniversary year featuring record-breaking visitor numbers, European links and study tours, and a haul of top awards.

The buzz began in pre-season, when the Centre formally joined seven other European archaeological open air museums in a Culture 2000 project known as liveARCH ( The aim of the three year project is to share best practice and skills between partners in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland and Sweden.

Following the launch of the project at the Eindhoven Historic Openlucht Museum in the Netherlands in January, the Crannog Crew hosted the first congress in Pitlochry in March focusing on visitor engagement and interpretation. The meeting brought considerable economic benefit to the wider Highland Perthshire area, and fostered pan-European project plans, ideas and friendships.

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Sick Rams Used as Ancient Bioweapons

Infected rams and donkeys were the earliest bioweapons, according to a new study which dates the use of biological warfare back more than 3,300 years.

According to a review published in the Journal of Medical Hypotheses, two ancient populations, the Arzawans and the Hittites, engaged "in mutual use of contaminated animals" during the 1320-1318 B.C. Anatolian war.

"The animals were carriers of Francisella tularensis, the causative agent of tularemia," author Siro Trevisanato, a molecular biologist based in Oakville, Ontario, Canada told Discovery News.

Also known as "rabbit fever," tularemia is a devastating disease which even today can be fatal, if not treated with antibiotics. Its symptoms range from skin ulcers, swollen and painful lymph glands to pneumonia, fever, chills, progressive weakness and respiratory failure.

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Ancient Greenland mystery has a simple answer, it seems

(AXcess News) QASSIARSUK, Greenland - A shipload of visitors arrived in the fjord overnight, so Ingibjorg Gisladottir dressed like a Viking and headed out to work in the ruins scattered along the northern edge of this tiny farming village.

Qassiarsuk is tiny (population: 56), remote, and short on amenities (no store, public restrooms, or roads to the outside world), but some 3,000 visitors come here each year to see the remains of Brattahlid, the medieval farming village founded here by Erik the Red around the year 985.

When they arrive, Ms. Gisladottir, an employee of the museum, is there to greet them in an authentic hooded smock and not-so-authentic rubber boots. "There were more visitors this year than last," she says. "People want to know what happened to the Norse."

The Greenland Norse colonized North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus "discovered" it, establishing farms in the sheltered fjords of southern Greenland, exploring Labrador and the Canadian Arctic, and setting up a short-lived outpost in Newfoundland.

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Historians hustle as flood threatens ancient town

A large settlement dating back to the first century BC has been found in the Russian republic of North Ossetia. But since the archaeological site is in a valley next to a hydroplant under construction, there's a race to unlock its secrets, before it's flooded.

Most of the 60 people working at the site in the Zaramag Valley are amateurs with professionals guiding them.

Every day they antique jewellery, tools, weapons and crockery that once belonged to the ancient tribe of Alans, the ancestors of modern Ossetians.

But in just a few weeks time, the whole valley will be flooded. It will become a reservoir for Zaramag hydroplant. Once built, it will solve North Ossetia's energy problems.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Location: Iceland Length: 16 min.

This video describes the Mosfell Archaeological Project, an interdisciplinary research project employing saga studies, archaeology, physical anthropology, and environmental sciences. The project's goal is to construct a picture of human habitation and environmental change in the Mosfell region of southwestern Iceland. Work at Kirkjuhll in 2002 revealed a conversion period wooden stave church and a Christian cemetery with skeletons. The Mosfell Project contributes to the larger study of Viking Age and later medieval Iceland.

Watch the video...


Fields of gold could be lacing the countryside after a second ancient coin was discovered.

Ken Jacobs (60), chairman of the Scunthorpe Metal Detectors' club, found a whole noble - dating from the 14th century - in a field near Winteringham.

The find comes just weeks after Craig Addison featured in the Telegraph after he dug up a half noble in the Roxby area.

Mr Jacobs' 32mm find, which dates back to the era of Edward III, would have been worth thousands of pounds then. Today it is worth about £500.

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Ancient Roman road map unveiled

The Tabula Peutingeriana is one of the Austrian National Library's greatest treasures.

The parchment scroll, made in the Middle Ages, is the only surviving copy of a road map from the late Roman Empire.

The document, which is almost seven metres long, shows the network of main Roman roads from Spain to India.

It is normally never shown to the public. The parchment is extremely fragile, and reacts badly to daylight.

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Roman burial site uncovered

A ROMAN burial ground has been discovered on land in Staverton near Trowbridge.

Over the past two months archaeologists have extracted the remains of four Roman people from the ground. Some of the graves contained two skeletons.

They believe the field behind New Terrace is on the edge of a Roman settlement dating back to about 55AD.

Known locally as Blacklands the field is a source of much superstition for locals who have passed on folklore from generation to generation about the ghosts that lurked beneath the soil.

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Lupercale expert sceptical of 'Romulus, Remus' cave

A LEADING Italian archaeologist said that the grotto whose discovery was announced this week in Rome is not the sacred cave linked to the myth of the city's foundation by Romulus and Remus.

The Culture Ministry and experts who presented the find said they were “reasonably certain” the cavern is the Lupercale - a sanctuary worshipped for centuries by Romans because, according to legend, a wolf nursed the twin brothers there.

But Adriano La Regina, Rome's superintendent of archaeology from 1976 to 2004, said ancient descriptions of the place suggest the Lupercale is elsewhere - 50 to 70 metres northwest of the cave discovered near Emperor Augustus' palace.

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Gene study supports single main migration across Bering Strait

Did a relatively small number of people from Siberia who trekked across a Bering Strait land bridge some 12,000 years ago give rise to the native peoples of North and South America?

Or did the ancestors of today’s native peoples come from other parts of Asia or Polynesia, arriving multiple times at several places on the two continents, by sea as well as by land, in successive migrations that began as early as 30,000 years ago?

The questions – featured on magazine covers and TV specials – have agitated anthropologists, archaeologists and others for decades.

University of Michigan scientists, working with an international team of geneticists and anthropologists, have produced new genetic evidence that’s likely to hearten proponents of the land bridge theory. The study, published online in PLoS Genetics, is one of the most comprehensive analyses so far among efforts to use genetic data to shed light on the topic.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Knights Templar to Seek Traces of Order's Members in Bulgaria

The Knights Templar are to launch excavation works in the Danube town of Russe to find out traces of order's members, who have once passed through Bulgaria and the Balkans.

The statement was made at a Saturday press conference, given by the Order in the National Palace of Culture in Sofia.

The order is to finance the initiative, called "Nisovo Project", is to be launched after Russe citizens signalled they noticed "interesting stone crosses" in the region.

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Bear hunting altered genetics more than Ice Age isolation

It was not the isolation of the Ice Age that determined the genetic distribution of bears, as has long been thought. This is shown by an international research team led from Uppsala University in Sweden in the latest issue of Molecular Ecology. One possible interpretation is that the hunting of bears by humans and human land use have been crucial factors.

Twenty thousand years ago Europe was covered by ice down to Germany, and the climate in the rest of Europe was such that several species were confined to the southern regions, like the Iberian Peninsula and Italy. These regions were refuges, areas where species could survive during cold periods and then re-colonize central and northern Europe when it got warmer. But the brown bear was not limited to these regions­it could roam freely across major parts of southern and central Europe. The current study analyzed mitochondria from bear remains. Some of the fossils are 20,000 years old. The analysis shows that the genetic pattern in these ancient brown bears differed from that of bears living today.

“Previously today’s genetic structure was interpreted as showing that the brown bear was isolated in southern Europe, just like many other species. But our study shows that this was not the case,” says Love Dalén, one of the Swedes participating in the study.

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'Dramatic' ancient cemetery found

A freelance archaeologist has uncovered what is thought to be the only known Anglo-Saxon royal burial site in the north of England.

Spectacular gold jewellery, weapons and clothing were found at the 109-grave cemetery, believed to date from the middle of the 7th Century.

Excavations were carried out after Steve Sherlock studied an aerial photo of the land near Redcar, Teesside.

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Römisches Bauen in Hessen

Baubeginn für zwei römische Häuser vor den Toren der Saalburg
Planzeichnung der beiden römischen Streifenhäuser (Grafik: Römerkastell Saalburg)

Vor den Toren des Römerkastells Saalburg in Bad Homburg , im Bereich des früheren Kastelldorfes, haben die Bauarbeiten für zwei Häuser begonnen, die einmal Kasse, Museumsshop und Kiosk aufnehmen sollen.

Die beiden Häuser werden im Stil sogenannter Streifenhäuser errichtet, die für die römischen Dörfer (vici) charakteristisch waren: langrechteckige Häuser mit einem Vordach, die mit der Schmalseite zur Straße stehen. Der Bau der beiden unterschiedlich großen Häuser soll im Sommer 2008 abgeschlossen sein.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Czech archaeologists find unique Virgin Mary statuette

PRAGUE, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Czech archaeologists uncovered a unique eight centimeter-long ceramic statuette of Virgin Mary with Jesus from the late 14th century in the center of Usti nad Labem of the Czech Republic, head of the archaeological research Marta Cvrkova said on Tuesday.

Similar finds are very rare in the country, the Czech news agency CTK quoted Cvrkova as saying.

The elaborated artifact, which was probably part of a family alter-piece, is only slightly damaged, CTK said.

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Anglo-Saxon gold jewellery is uncovered at burial site

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have uncovered a 1,400-year-old burial ground filled with gold jewellery and ancient artifacts at a secret location in the North-East, it was revealed last night.

Experts hailed the find as one of the best examples of an Anglo-Saxon burial ground ever uncovered - and may even have been the final resting place of a king or queen.

The 109-grave cemetery was discovered on land in Loftus, east Cleveland.

It is arranged in a rectangular pattern and dates from the middle of the 7th Century.

The cemetery, bed burial and high status objects are considered to all indicate the people buried must have connections with Anglo-Saxon royalty.

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Rome uncovers its founding moment

Rome has revealed what its leading archeologist says is "one of the greatest discoveries ever made", a lost shrine dedicated to the ancient city's mythical founders.

Andrea Carandini told a press conference yesterday that a large vaulted hall beneath the Palatine hill was almost certainly the fabled Lupercale - a sanctuary believed by ancient Romans to be the cave where the twin boys Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf. The professor acknowledged the evidence was as yet not totally conclusive, but said only "one doubt in thousand" remained.

Decorated with seashells and coloured marble, the domed cave was found close to the site of the palace of the first emperor, Caesar Augustus, by archaeologists. Ancient texts indicate that the sanctuary was indeed near the palace; a document from the 16th century, when it was still accessible, recorded that the emperor had embellished it with a white imperial eagle.

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What is the secret of the Pit of Bones?

I'm standing on a bunch of boring hills, on the edge of the high and dusty Castilian plains. This is the kind of Spain that tourists avoid.

Yet in archaeological terms this site is El Dorado. Because these hills of the Sierra Atapuerca have recently given up treasures which promise to change our ideas of human evolution - and the entire history of religion.

A few weeks back, for instance, the archaeologists in the so-called Elephant Pit found a humble human tooth. But it was a tooth with an ancestry: it was 1.2m years old.

Previously, the theory was that mankind evolved in Africa, and then fanned out across the world, about one million years ago. As part of this dispersal, man migrated northwards and westwards into Europe, maybe around 800,000-600,000BC.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


An ancient skull and jawbone excavated from prehistoric caves in Cattedown will undergo vital preservation work after the city museum secured a £5,000 grant.

Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery will work on the bones thanks to the Preservation of Industrial and Scientific Material (PRISM).

They were originally excavated in 1886-7 by local historian Robert Worth who also discovered bones of Ice Age woolly rhinoceroses, woolly mammoth, hyena and reindeer in the limestone caverns.

Jan Freedman, the museum's assistant keeper of natural history, said: "The material from the caves is probably the largest collection of early human remains found in the UK and, once they're properly researched, should be able to tell us a great deal about some of western Europe's earliest people."

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Archaeologists unearths buried treasure

A FREELANCE archaeologist has unearthed one of the most dramatic finds of Anglo Saxon materials within an ancient burial ground in the North-East.

The Royal Anglo-Saxon cemetery - with some of the finest gold jewellery to be found in Britain - has been discovered on land in Loftus, east Cleveland.

The 109-grave cemetery is arranged in a rectangular pattern and dates from the middle of the 7th Century.

The cemetery, bed burial and high status objects are considered to all indicate the people buried must have connections with Anglo-Saxon royalty.

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Rome founders' sanctuary discovered

Italian archaeologists said today they believe they have found one of the ancient city's holiest sites, the cave venerated as the place where, according to myth, a female wolf nursed the city's founders, twin brothers Romulus and Remus.

Decorated with seashells and marble, the vaulted space lies buried 16 metres inside the Palatine hill, the centre of power in imperial Rome.

Archaeologists said they were convinced the site was the long lost site of worship known as Lupercale, a name taken from lupa, the Latin for a female wolf.

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When a Yorkshire archaeology group began excavating some 17th century lime kilns in the Dales National Park, they expected to find remains linked to the once important industry.

Instead, they found a mysterious collection of horse bones buried inside the kilns, which had then been backfilled.

Members of the Ingleborough Archaeology Group are now looking for clues to the significance of the strange burial. One theory is that the remains were ritually buried to ward off evil before the kilns were abandoned.

“These were not animals that fell in or were thrown in,” said David Johnson, Chairman of the archaeology group.

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Sanctuary of Rome's 'Founder' Revealed

ROME (AP) — Archaeologists on Tuesday unveiled an underground grotto believed to have been revered by ancient Romans as the place where a wolf nursed the city's legendary founder Romulus and his twin brother Remus.

Decorated with seashells and colored marble, the vaulted sanctuary is buried 52 feet inside the Palatine hill, the palatial center of power in imperial Rome, the archaeologists said at a news conference.

In the past two years, experts have been probing the space with endoscopes and laser scanners, fearing that the fragile grotto, already partially caved-in, would not survive a full-scale dig, said Giorgio Croci, an engineer who worked on the site.

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Royal burial ground unearthed

A royal Anglo-Saxon burial ground and some of the finest gold jewellery ever unearthed in the country has been discovered by a freelance archaeologist.

The 109-grave cemetery is arranged in a rectangular pattern and dates from the middle of the 7th Century.

The cemetery, bed burial and high status objects are considered to all indicate the people buried must have connections with Anglo-Saxon royalty.

Traditionally, Anglo Saxon royalty were always buried in the south of England and it is thought the royals buried at the Cleveland site could be linked to the Kentish Princess Ethelburga who travelled north to marry Edwin, King of Northumbria.

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Grotto linked to Rome's mythical founder

ROME – Archaeologists on Tuesday unveiled an underground grotto believed to have been revered by ancient Romans as the place where a wolf nursed the city's legendary founder Romulus and his twin brother Remus.

Decorated with seashells and colored marble, the vaulted sanctuary is buried 52 feet inside the Palatine hill, the palatial center of power in imperial Rome, the archaeologists said at a news conference.

In the past two years, experts have been probing the space with endoscopes and laser scanners, fearing that the fragile grotto, already partially caved-in, would not survive a full-scale dig, said Giorgio Croci, an engineer who worked on the site.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Noah's flood turned tide of agriculture

The flood associated with the story of Noah's Ark led to the spread of agriculture across Europe, researchers have discovered.

Archaeologists have dated the flooding of the Black Sea to around 6,300BC and believe the sudden rise in sea levels in south-east Europe pushed communities west, where they continued to farm and make pottery.

The date at which the Black Sea was connected to the Mediterranean had previously been placed at somewhere between 5,600BC and 7,600 BC, but a re-analysis of radiocarbon dating of freshwater molluscs and seashells found in the area has pinned this down to the period immediately prior to the spread of agricultural food production across western Europe.

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Archaeology student finds Roman remains in garden

AN ARCHAEOLOGY student struck lucky when he began digging the garden of his new home - and discovered ancient Roman remains.

Chris Bevan had no idea that a historic find was lurking inches beneath his feet when he moved into the house at Holme-on-Spalding Moor.

Now he and his fellow University of York students are using their spare time to carry out a survey of the garden in High Street and a neighbouring field where the ancient pottery was unearthed.

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Baltic yields 'perfect' shipwreck

A near-intact shipwreck apparently dating from the 17th century has been found in the Baltic Sea, Swedish television has said.

The discovery was made during filming for an under-water documentary series.

Public service SVT television said the wreck could be from the same era as the famous Vasa warship, which sank on its maiden voyage in August 1628.

The broadcaster said the Baltic's low oxygen content and low temperature had helped preserve the wreck.

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Gönner, Geber und Gelehrte. Die Gießener Antikensammlung und ihre Förderer

Die Sonderausstellung "Gönner, Geber und Gelehrte" im Oberhessischen Landesmuseum Gießen nimmt die fast zweihundertjährige Geschichte und Entwicklung der international renommierten Antikensammlung der Universität Gießen in den Fokus.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Balkan heritage (BH) field school

Balkan heritage (BH) field school (established 2003) implements projects (field school sessions, workcamps) in the areas of study, protection, restoration and promotion of sites, artifacts and practices presenting cultural heritage of Southeastern Europe. BH participants are students , scholars and volunteers from all over the World.

BH projects in 2008:

AVGUSTA TRAIANA-BEROE-BORUI rescue excavation (Bulgaria) - July - August 2008. Rescue excavation of Roman, Late Antique and Medieval sites beneath modern Stara Zagora, Bulgaria.

"FRESCOES-HUNTING" PHOTO EXPEDITION TO MEDIEVAL CHURCHES OF WEST BULGARIA - May 11–25, 2008. An expediition to 3-5 abandoned West Bulgarian medieval churches and chapels (in bad condition) to document frescoes preserved inside.

KALOYANOVETS Cataloging Project (Bulgaria) - June 15 - July 14, 2008. Field surveys and cataloging an artifact collection from Late Neolithic site Kaloyanovets (6-th millenium B.C.) at the museum of Stara Zagora, Bulgaria.

STARA ZAGORA heritage workcamp (Bulgaria) - July 16-30, 2008. Balkan Heritage. Rescue excavations and maintenance of archaeological sites in the town of Stara Zagora.

BITOLA heritage workcamp (Macedonia) - August, 2008. Balkan Heritage. Excavations and maintenance of archaeological sites in the ancient town of Heraclea Lyncestis near Bitola, Macedonia.

HERACLEA LYNCESTIS (Macedonia) - July, 2008 (season dates). Excavation at the Hellenistic, Roman, Late Antique town near Bitola, Macedonia.

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The canoe built by the City of Lincoln Community College pupils is clearly impressive.

Yet we need to go back to the Iron Age to find what might well be Lincoln's most famous vessel.

The longboat on display at The Collection museum in Lincoln is 7m long.

Amazingly, the dugout boat was made from a single hollowed-out tree trunk. It was discovered in 2001 during flood defence improvement work by the Environment Agency on the River Witham at Fiskerton.

And the site has proved to be rich in archaeological treasures.

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Eco-ruin 'felled early society'

One of Western Europe's earliest known urban societies may have sown the seeds of its own downfall, a study suggests.

Mystery surrounded the fall of the Bronze Age Argaric people in south-east Spain - Europe's driest area.

Data suggests the early civilisation exhausted precious natural resources, helping bring about its own ruin.

The study provides early evidence for cultural collapse caused - at least in part - by humans meddling with the environment, say researchers.

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Rome adds a 'final jewel' to its archaeological crown

In Rome, you never know what you find underneath your home once you start digging. For Enrico Gasbarra, President of the Provincial Administration of Rome, his curiosity to find what Roman treasures might be hiding in underground spaces below his office headquarters, the Valentini Palace, has resulted in one of the most exciting finds of recent years in the ancient city.

Presenting the result of two years of excavations at the World Travel Market (WTM) fair in London Wednesday, Gasbarra described the discovery of a splendid and affluent Roman home (domus) directly underneath his offices as the "final jewel" in the array of historical treasures his administration has to offer.

More than 187 lorry loads of waste and rubble, including office debris and old photocopying machines, had to be removed from the "trash dump" in the courtyard of the Valentini Palace to reveal a new archaeological site consisting of splendid rooms, marbled baths and exquisite mosaics.

"Of course, in a city like Rome it is not unusual to make such discoveries, but this find is of extreme historical significance," Gasbarra said in London.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New human fossil find adds millennia to China's history

BEIJING, Nov. 13 (Xinhua)-- Chinese archaeologists said they have found fossilized remains of a primitive human species that lived about 2.04 million years ago in the Three Gorges Area in southwest China, the earliest ever found in the country.

The findings, including a lower jawbone fragment, an incisor and more than 230 pieces of stone tools, prove that what is called Wushan man was more than 300,000 years older than Yuanmou man, which was discovered in southwestern Yunnan Province in the 1960s and previously recognized as China's earliest human species.

An expert team led by Huang Wanbo, a professor with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, reached the conclusion after more than two decades of excavation at the Longgupo Site in Wushan County in Chongqing Municipality.

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Science and Technology: Excavations in Anatolia to continue

A group of Turkish archaeologists will continue excavations in the eastern Anatolian province of Bitlis, team leader Kadir Pektas said on Tuesday (November 6th). Significant archaeological findings have been unearthed at the site this year, including a number of coins, ceramic pieces and tobacco ringlets.

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Greek philosopher Aristotle's ancient wrestling school, a victim of official apathy

Athens, Nov 13: A wrestling school said to have been a part of Greek philosopher Aristotle's famous Lyceum, has fallen victim to the ravages of time and official apathy.

Unearthed in 1996, the wrestling school and other institutions in the Lyceum was a significant centre of study and research in diverse fields.

Opened in 335 BC, the school promoted the development of Western science and philosophy and was named for its sanctuary to Apollo Lykeios. Alongside these intellectual pursuits, physical exercise was also undertaken, as the excavation of a wrestling ring has illustrated.

Though the appearance of the site on Rigillis Street in Athens looks maintained overall because of some greenery, the condition of the wrestling school has been worsening since its discovery.

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Tides turn up child’s Bronze Age remains

HIGH tides and winds that have battered the Northumberland coast served up a burial mystery for archaeologists yesterday .

Erosion by the sea and weather has revealed what seems to be the remains of a Bronze Age child, which have emerged from the coastal edge at Druridge Bay.

But what perplexed archaeologists yesterday was a layer of hard white material which appears to have been moulded around the body, like a casing.

“I have never seen anything like this material. It has obviously been applied deliberately and it is intriguing and baffling,” said Sara Rushton, Northumberland County Council archaeologist.

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Ruins of late-Roman-era fortress found in Bulgaria

Sofia, Nov 14: Archaeologists have found ruins of a late-Roman-era fortress during an excavation in Svalenik village, nowadays Northern Bulgaria.

The ruin, which was a part of the defence system of the Romans, had been raised in the IV Century as a watch fortification, controlling the road in the River Valley of Malki Lom River.

Archaeologists have so far revealed the south wall and two inner rooms of the fortress, reports

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Location: Oregon Length: 22 min.

The Clatsop of coastal Oregon, descendants of Coboway and Cusculah, welcomed traders from the tall ships and the explorers that came from the east, the Lewis and Clark expedition. They called them all "cloth men." Clatsop oral histories go back many hundreds of years—even today they tell stories of the first encounters with the cloth men. And stories of Captains Lewis and Clark, the Shoshone woman, and the winter (1805-1806) they spent near the Oregon coast. This is one of their winter stories and the Clatsop still are here to tell them.

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Prehistoric women had passion for fashion

PLOCNIK, Serbia (Reuters) - If the figurines found in an ancient European settlement are any guide, women have been dressing to impress for at least 7,500 years.

Recent excavations at the site -- part of the Vinca culture which was Europe's biggest prehistoric civilization -- point to a metropolis with a great degree of sophistication and a taste for art and fashion, archaeologists say.

In the Neolithic settlement in a valley nestled between rivers, mountains and forests in what is now southern Serbia, men rushed around a smoking furnace melting metal for tools. An ox pulled a load of ore, passing by an art workshop and a group of young women in short skirts.

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Stone Age feminism?

The Neanderthal extinction some 30,000 years ago remains one of the great riddles of evolution, with rival theories blaming everything from genocide committed by "real" humans to prehistoric climate change.

But a recent study introduces another explanation: Stone Age feminism. Among Neanderthals, hunting big beasts was women's work as well as men's, so it's a safe bet that female hunters got stomped, gored, and worse with appalling frequency. And a high casualty rate among fertile women - the vital "reproductive core" of a tiny population - could well have meant demographic disaster for a species already struggling to survive among monster bears, yellow-fanged hyenas, and cunning Homo sapien newcomers.

A spate of recent discoveries has yielded intriguing clues about humanity's closest cousin. Neanderthals and humans split from a common ancestor some 500,000 years ago. Neanderthals had Europe to themselves until Homo sapiens started swarming out of Africa about 45,000 years ago - the beginning of the end for these archetypical cave dwellers, although they hung on for 15 millennia.

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Roman Fortress Found Near Ruse

Ruins of a little late-Roman fortress, part of the defense system of the Romans in nowadays Northern Bulgaria, archaeologists have found by excavations in Svalenik village.

The fortress was raised in IV Century as a watch fortification, controlling the road in the River Valley of Malki Lom River.

For now archaeologist revealed the south wall and two inner rooms of the fortress.

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Mammoth hunters' camp site found in Russia's Far East

KHABAROVSK, November 12 (RIA Novosti) - Archaeologists have found a 15,000 year-old hunters' camp site from the Paleolithic era near Lake Evoron in Russia's Far East, a source in the Khabarovsk archaeology museum said on Monday.

"The site dates back to the end of the Ice Age, a period which is poorly studied" Andrei Malyavin, chief of the museum's archaeology department said. "That is why any new site from this period is a discovery in itself."

The site, found during a 2007 archaeological expedition to Lake Evoron, is the largest of four Stone Age sites, discovered near the Amur River so far, and was most likely established by mammoth hunters.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007


Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum is to create an online centre for the study of Islamic and eastern art.

An unspecified but ‘substantial’ donation from philanthropist Mr Yousef Jameel will be used to create the Yousef Jameel Online Centre for Islamic and Eastern Art, aiming to broaden access to the museum’s renowned collection.

There are also plans to open a study centre of Islamic and eastern art at the Ashmolean along with a scholarship programme for students at the University of Oxford.

The online centre is planned to be ready in time for the completion of the museum’s current redevelopment in 2009.

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Archeologists Discovered a 10th Century Tomb in Pskov

Another chamber entombment dating back to the epoch of Princess Olga (approximately 10th century) has been found at the Starovoznesensky digging site in Pskov.

According to the director of Pskov Archeological Centre Elena Yakovleva, the grave is not smaller than the two other tombs discovered in the previous years.
“The findings are in a very bad condition; it is difficult to say whether the remains are those of a man or a woman” - she says. Most probably the buried person once belonged to a noble family.

Let us recall that in the end of 2003 a grave of a Scandinavian woman of the tenth century was found at the 4 meters depth. The archeologists called the finding “a Varangian guest”. The second similar tomb was excavated in 2006. In the course of digging works the archeologists found out that the entombment had been pillaged some centuries earlier.

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Das Klima schreibt Geschicht

Professor Dr. Wolfgang Behringer, der an der Universität des Saarlandes Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit lehrt, hat die 20.000-jährige Kulturgeschichte des Klimas seit der letzten Eiszeit erforscht. Sein Fazit: Der Einfluss des Klimas auf die Geschichte wurde bislang unterschätzt.

Aufstieg und Niedergang ganzer Kulturen sieht Behringer vom Klima beeinflusst; die Hexenverfolgung sei ebenso durch das Klima mitverursacht wie der Beginn der industriellen Revolution.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Archaeological excavations on Monte S.Martino

Since a few days, the archaeological inquiry on the top of “San Martino” mount in Trentin, in the mountain range between Lomaso and Altogarda, undertaken by the Superintendence of Archaeological Heritage of the Independent Province of Trent, concerning the ancient fortress which was brought to light 4 years ago has restarted.

It is reachable by just one hour and a half on foot from Lundo, and it is bringing back to life a barbarian fortress, the last, isolated bulwark of the ancient Garda system and of the rich towns in the Po plain: Verona and Brescia.

The excavation campaign, which has reached its fourth year, will go on up to the end of August. The excavation site has reached an extreme importance: this is why the experts all around Europe are already promoting and studying this case.

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15th-century castle reopens to the public

A Highland castle with a bloody past reopened to the public yesterday after a three-year programme of safety and conservation work by Historic Scotland.

The 15th-century Auchindoun Castle near Dufftown in Moray was built for John, Earl of Mar, but he was imprisoned by his own brother, King James III, in 1479, and died in Craigmillar Castle south of Edinburgh.

Auchindoun Castle passed to Thomas Cochrane, one of the king's favourites, who himself came to an unpleasant end when he was hanged from Lauder Bridge in 1482 by jealous noblemen.

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Excavations to continue in Bitlis

Significant archaeological findings have been unearthed during this year's excavations in the eastern Anatolian province of Bitlis.

Head of excavations, Kadir Pektaş, from Denizli-based Pamukkale University said a number of coins, ceramic pieces and tobacco ringlets were found during excavations which focused on the bath, city walls in the East of the city and İç Kale (palace) region, speaking to the Anatolia news agency.

�This year we conducted the digs at three points in the region. We unearthed the rectangular shaped structures belonging to the 18th and 19th century in the bath area. The tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven, as well as some other findings here indicate that these structures used to be houses,� he said.

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The Iceman cometh amid debate over how he went

For 10 years Angelika Fleckinger has had an intimate relationship with a most unusual man.

Her partner? Otzi - the world famous Iceman whose mummified body was found in an alpine glacier on the border of Italy and Austria in 1991.

Fleckinger is the director of the Italian museum built in 1998 to house Otzi, who is 2000 years older than Tutankhamen. She has written three books about him. While other scientists might know more about their own specific areas of research, Fleckinger says, "I may be the person who is closest to the Iceman."

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The Scariest Thing about Neanderthals

Who knew the Weasley family trademark—a shock of bright red hair—was tens of thousands of years old?

Fictional wizards and J.K. Rowling aside, researchers Carles Lalueza-Fox of the University of Barcelona, Spain and Holger Rompler of the University of Leipzig in Germany announced last week that Neanderthals, who died out 35,000 years ago, had the same distribution of hair and skin color as modern human European populations. By inference, that means that about 1 percent of Neanderthals must have been redheads, with pale skin and freckles.

The idea of Neanderthals with red hair and freckles is just plain charming. But it's also scary because it underscores the fact that Neanderthals were so much like us, and now they're gone.

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