Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Huge Settlement Unearthed At Stonehenge Complex

Excavations supported by National Geographic at Durrington Walls in the Stonehenge World Heritage site have revealed an enormous ancient settlement that once housed hundreds of people. Archaeologists believe the houses were constructed and occupied by the builders of nearby Stonehenge, the legendary monument on England's Salisbury Plain.

"English Heritage's magnetometry survey had detected dozens of hearths -- the whole valley appears full of houses," said archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson of the U.K.'s Sheffield University. "In what were houses, we have excavated the outlines on the floors of box beds and wooden dressers or cupboards."

The houses have been radiocarbon dated to 2600-2500 B.C., the same period Stonehenge was built -- one of the facts that leads the archaeologists to conclude that the people who lived in the Durrington Walls houses were responsible for constructing Stonehenge. The houses form the largest Neolithic village ever found in Britain; a few similar Neolithic houses have been found in the Orkney Islands off Scotland.

Parker Pearson said the discoveries this season help confirm a theory that Stonehenge did not stand in isolation but was part of a much larger religious complex used for funerary ritual.

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Not in the stars for Stonehenge?

The discovery of a large, prehistoric settlement 2 miles from Stonehenge suggests that the famous stone rings were an ancient memorial, not a Stone Age observatory, archaeologists said Tuesday.
A community of hundreds of people lived there about 2500 B.C., during the time Stonehenge was erected, say the scientists, led by Mike Parker Pearson of the United Kingdom's Sheffield University. Inhabitants most likely raised Stonehenge as a monument to their dead, who were buried there ceremonially.

Stonehenge, a double horseshoe of towering stones near Wiltshire, England, has fascinated people since the Middle Ages. It has figured in numerous debates, both scholarly and whimsical, over its origins. It has been called a prehistoric observatory, an ancient house of worship, even a creation of aliens.

The community was found within the confines of Durrington Walls, a 1,400-foot-wide henge, or a circular flat area, surrounded by a ditch and an earthen bank. Durrington Walls was discovered in the 1960s, and archaeological detective work has continued over the years.

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Unearthed: The wild town next to Stonehenge where the builders partied like it was 2500 BC

By any standards, it was a wild party: piles of half-eaten pig bones were flung to the floor by revellers who then smashed their food bowls into a "filthy" mud floor.

Add to that the fact that this bash took place 4,600 years ago, less than two miles from Stonehenge, and the result is a dramatic step forward in the quest to trace the origins - and purpose - of the world's most famous standing stones.

Archaeologists have revealed the discovery of a huge ancient settlement in Wiltshire used by the builders of Stonehenge and their descendants to celebrate life and death with lavish feasts of freshly slaughtered livestock.

Excavations at Durrington Walls, situated to the north-east of Stonehenge, have uncovered the largest Neolithic village in Britain.

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Timber shrine reveals Stonehenge secret

New excavations near Stonehenge could finally explain its reason for existence: as one half of a much larger temple built to celebrate the living and the dead.

A dig less than two miles away has revealed the largest neolithic village in Britain. The similar dates and designs of the sites have convinced archaeologists that they were elements of a single religious complex.

Stonehenge was designed as a permanent monument to the dead and constructed of rock to symbolise their enduring presence, the research suggests.

The nearby settlement at Durrington Walls was a shrine to the transience of life. Its houses were made of wood, as was a timber circle mirroring the design of Stonehenge.

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Village of Stonehenge builders uncovered

Archaeologists who have unearthed the largest Neolithic village found in Britain believe it housed hundreds of workers who helped build Stonehenge.

The discovery of the settlement, along with tools, pottery and food debris, will help solve some of the remaining mysteries surrounding the country's most significant prehistoric monument and show how people lived 4,500 years ago.

Nine houses have been excavated at Durrington Walls, a huge circular earthwork less than two miles from Stonehenge.

Signs of dozens more clay hearths set in more houses have been identified through magnetic field analysis beneath the 1,400ft-wide enclosure. Researchers believe it was a base for seasonal workers and a festival venue for midwinter solstice celebrations.

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Ancient homes found in road dig

Ancient settlements from Roman times and the Iron Age have been found by the side of a major road development.

Archaeologists were called in to survey the A66 in North Yorkshire to ensure nothing valuable would be destroyed.

Their work has now uncovered the remains of a roundhouse, square buildings, ditches and pits by the Melsonby crossroads, by Scotch Corner.

The finds are thought to link to a larger settlement which would have been on the other side of the road.

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Anthropologist Confirms ‘Hobbit’ Indeed a Separate Species

After the skeletal remains of an 18,000-year-old, Hobbit-sized human were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, some scientists thought that the specimen must have been a pygmy or a microcephalic — a human with an abnormally small skull.

Not so, said Dean Falk, a world-renowned paleoneurologist and chair of Florida State University’s anthropology department, who along with an international team of experts created detailed maps of imprints left on the ancient hominid’s braincase and concluded that the so-called Hobbit was actually a new species closely related to Homo sapiens.

Now after further study, Falk is absolutely convinced that her team was right and that the species cataloged as LB1, Homo floresiensis, is definitely not a human born with microcephalia — a somewhat rare pathological condition that still occurs today. Usually the result of a double-recessive gene, the condition is characterized by a small head and accompanied by some mental retardation.

“We have answered the people who contend that the Hobbit is a microcephalic,” Falk said of her team’s study of both normal and microcephalic human brains published in the Jan. 29 issue of the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States).

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'Hobbit' human 'is a new species'

The tiny skeletal remains of human "Hobbits" found on an Indonesian island belong to a completely new branch of our family tree, a study has found.

The finds caused a sensation when they were announced to the world in 2004.

But some researchers argued the bones belonged to a modern human with a combination of small stature and a brain disorder called microcephaly.

That claim is rejected by the latest study, which compares the tiny people with modern microcephalics.

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Stonehenge builders' houses found

A huge ancient settlement used by the people who built Stonehenge has been found, archaeologists have said.

Excavations at Durrington Walls, near the legendary Salisbury Plain monument, uncovered remains of ancient houses.

People seem to have occupied the sites seasonally, using them for ritual feasting and funeral ceremonies.

In ancient times, this settlement would have housed hundreds of people, making it the largest Neolithic village ever found in Britain.

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Home of Stonehenge builders found

A small village has been found by scientists in the United Kingdom at the Durrington Walls that is believed to have belonged to those who built Stonehenge. This is the largest Neolithic settlement to ever be discovered in the U.K., having beleived to house over 100 people.

Scientists say that the village was built around 2,600 B.C. which is roughly when Stonehenge was believed to have been construced.

Inside the areas which would have been the interior of houses at the time, scientists also found "bed" and "cuppard or dresser" outlines. Pieces of pottery and "filthy" rubbish around the site. Animal bones were also uncovered. Arrowheads, stone tools and other relics were also discovered.

"We've never seen such quantities of pottery and animal bone and flint. In what were houses, we have excavated the outlines on the floors of box beds and wooden dressers or cupboards," said Sheffield University archaeologist, Mike Parker Pearson.

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Remains of Village Found Near Stonehenge

A village of small houses that may have sheltered the builders of the mysterious Stonehenge, or people attending festivals there, has been found by archaeologists studying the stone circle in England. Eight of the houses, with central hearths, have been excavated, and there may be as many as 25 of them, Mike Parker Pearson said Tuesday at a briefing organized by the National Geographic Society.

The ancient houses are at a site known as Durrington Walls, about two miles from Stonehenge. It is also the location of a wooden version of the stone circle.

The village was carbon dated to about 2600 B.C., about the same time Stonehenge was built. The Great Pyramid in Egypt was built at about the same time, said Parker Pearson of Sheffield University.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Irish river find may be first discovery of Viking ship

An ancient boat discovered in a riverbed north of Dublin may be the first Viking longship found in the country, Environment and Heritage Minister Dick Roche said.

The wreck in the River Boyne, close to the northeastern port of Drogheda, was described by Roche as potentially an "enormously exciting discovery".

The vessel, nine metres (30 feet) wide by 16 metres long, was discovered accidentally during dredging operations last November but the find was not made public until now.

"It is described as clinker built, a shipbuilding technology dating from the Viking era but also still in use centuries later," Roche said.

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Private archaeological collection donated to Heritage Malta

Heritage Malta has received a donation of over 300 Punic and Phoenician artefacts which will enrich the national collection. A selection of these artefacts is being exhibited at the National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta. The collection was donated by Chev. Joseph Sammut who inherited them from his late grandfather Ganni Sammut in 1958.

Ganni Sammut was born in 1881; he was a blacksmith of humble origins but with a keen interest in Malta’s history coupled with an inherent talent in identifying and selecting artefacts of intrinsic value.

The majority of this collection is made up of business gifts from local contractors which they found while digging the foundations of various buildings in the early 20th century. Another source of acquisition was direct purchase from local auctions. Ganni Sammut sometimes purchased items to prevent such artefacts being acquired by foreigners and hence being exported from Malta. He never sold any artefact, and the collection remained complete.

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Mitteldeutscher Archäologiepreis

Wer sich mit der Archäologie Mitteldeutschlands beschäftigt, kann sich jetzt an der Ausschreibung des Mitteldeutschen Archäologiepreises beteiligen - Einsendeschluss ist der 15. Februar.

Der mit 5.000 € dotierte Mitteldeutsche Archäologiepreis geht an Personen oder­ Forscher­gruppen, die sich in besonderem Maße um die Archäologie Mitteldeutschlands verdient gemacht haben.

Berücksichtigt werden hervorragende wissenschaftliche Leistungen - Magister- bzw. Diplomarbeiten, Dissertationen, Habilitationsschriften, Forschungsstudien oder inter­disziplinäre Untersuchungen - sowie sonstige herausragende Verdienste für die Archäologie Mitteldeutschlands.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Paleontologists Discover Most Primitive Primate Skeleton

The origins and earliest branches of primate evolution are clearer and more ancient by 10 million years than previous studies estimated, according to a study featured on the cover of the Jan. 23 print edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper by researchers at Yale, the University of Winnipeg, Stony Brook University, and led by University of Florida paleontologist Jonathan Bloch reconstructs the base of the primate family tree by comparing skeletal and fossil specimens representing more than 85 modern and extinct species. The team also discovered two 56-million-year-old fossils, including the most primitive primate skeleton ever described.

In the two-part study, an extensive evaluation of skeletal structures provides evidence that plesiadapiforms, a group of archaic mammals once thought to be more closely related to flying lemurs, are the most primitive primates. The team analyzed 173 characteristics of modern primates, tree shrews, flying lemurs with plesiadapiform skeletons to determine their evolutionary relationships. High-resolution CT scanning made fine resolution of inaccessible structures inside the skulls possible.

"This is the first study to bring it all together," said co-author Eric Sargis, associate professor of anthropology at Yale University and Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History. "The extensive dataset, the number and type of characteristics we were able to compare, and the availability of full skeletons, let us test far more than any previous study."

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ancient Turkish site set to be flooded

The Allianoi archaeological site could soon be under water if authorities carry out their plans to flood a newly constructed reservoir. Located in western Turkey, the site is a well-preserved example of an ancient Roman health spa.

Archaeologist Ahmet Yaras, head of the Allianoi excavation team, is spearheading a campaign to save the site from being submerged. They are trying to rally international support to pressure the authorities to move the reservoir — or at least delay the flooding for another five years so that they can finish the excavations.

Allianoi is a hot-springs area 18 kilometres northeast of the ruins of ancient Pergamon that was used as a spa in Hellenistic times. It was constructed during major public works done under the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian during the second century AD. In addition to the spa, the Allianoi site includes public squares, streets, gates, bridges, fountains and buildings. Together, they encompass about 50,000 square metres, and they could all end up in the middle of the reservoir.

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Melton Carnegie Museum in Leicester is hosting an exhibition that showcases many of the rare archaeological artefacts unearthed by local residents.

The exhibition, Found in Leicestershire, runs until 23 March 2007 and features an array of exciting finds including a wonderful collection of Roman brooches, a rare prehistoric flint dagger, Viking age objects and many medieval items, all from the Melton area.

The display tells the story of everyday life for our ancestors and gives a compelling picture of our past. The finds also include an assortment of domestic items made of metal, stone and pottery, whilst accompanying literature reveals their historical importance and how they were found.

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Normandy grave hints at 300-year defiance of the Roman Empire

A macabre 1,700-year-old mass grave of people and horses, discovered in Normandy, poses perplexing new questions about the Roman conquest of France. Was there a small part of ancient Gaul which refused, Asterix-like, to surrender for 300 years?

The grave site, from the 3rd century, which was discovered by French state archaeologists at Evreux, appears to contain ritual arrangements of human and horse remains. In one, a human skull is clasped between two horse's skulls, like the two halves of a giant shell.

In Gaullish times, 300 years earlier, graves containing both horses and people were common. No such grave has ever been found from the Roman period, and even in the previous era, the remains were kept carefully apart.

In the recently discovered grave, about 50 miles west of Paris, the bones appear to have been intentionally mixed. The skeletons of 40 people and 100 horses have been found so far.

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Sacred Cave of Rome's Founders Discovered, Archaeologists Say

Archaeologists say they have unearthed Lupercale—the sacred cave where, according to legend, a she-wolf nursed the twin founders of Rome and where the city itself was born.

The long-lost underground chamber was found beneath the remains of Emperor Augustus' palace on the Palatine, a 230-foot-tall (70-meter-tall) hill in the center of the city.

Archaeologists from the Department of Cultural Heritage of the Rome Municipality came across the 50-foot-deep (15-meter-deep) cavity while working to restore the decaying palace.

"We were drilling the ground near Augustus' residence to survey the foundations of the building when we discovered the cave," said Irene Iacopi, the archaeologist in charge of the area.

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Archaeology checks for developers

Developers building in areas of historic interest in Jersey will have to pay archaeologists to oversee their foundation work under new laws.

The planning guidelines were drawn up to protect sites of potential archaeological importance.

The guidelines will be enforced on large building developments but on private projects, the government will foot the archaeologists' bills.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Hunting for Hadrian

HISTORIANS hope to unearth evidence that Roman emperor Hadrian once stayed in a fort along the magnificent wall bearing his name.

Archaeologists will be digging along Hadrian’s Wall this summer in an attempt to confirm speculation about why and when it was built.

They hope their work at Vindolanda in Northumbria will prove that the emperor once stayed there on a visit to the wall, as well as unlocking secrets about the Roman army and people’s political and social lives.

The 73-mile stone barrier – stretching east to west from the River Tyne to the Solway Firth – stood as the empire’s most imposing frontier for 300 years.

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FINDS from excavations being carried out on The Wong could provide new information about Horncastle's Roman history.

Archaeologists are expected to be working on the site until mid-February and initial findings suggest the area was part of a field settlement in Roman times.

A geophysical survey pointed to the need for a dig, which is being conducted by Lindsey Archaeological Services, in an area where new sewerage pipes are to be laid.

A spokeswoman for Anglian Water explained the waterlogged nature of the ground meant the site to be disturbed for the pipework was twice the size originally expected.

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FINDS from excavations being carried out on The Wong could provide new information about Horncastle's Roman history.

Archaeologists are expected to be working on the site until mid-February and initial findings suggest the area was part of a field settlement in Roman times.

A geophysical survey pointed to the need for a dig, which is being conducted by Lindsey Archaeological Services, in an area where new sewerage pipes are to be laid.

A spokeswoman for Anglian Water explained the waterlogged nature of the ground meant the site to be disturbed for the pipework was twice the size originally expected.

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Experts to dig up 'Hobbit' hole

We could be set to learn more about a tiny type of human that lived 12,000 years ago, after scientists were given permission to dig up their home.

The metre tall creatures were found in Indonesia and some people have called them Hobbits because of their size.

Work in the caves where the bones of the Hobbits were found stopped in 2005 after the archaeologists had a row with the Indonesian government.

That's been sorted out, so the Hobbits could soon give up their secrets.

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Archaeologists solve mystery of ancient manor's location

Archaeologists working at the Cowdray Ruins heritage site have discovered evidence of a 13th century manor house.
The find shows the existence of walls and a cobbled floor area.

These were confirmed this week as part of an earlier building which had been demolished before the site was levelled and raised up by tons of soil in preparation for the 1520 building phase of the 'new' Cowdray House.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Italian police recover marble reliefs of gladiators

Italian police have unearthed the hidden cache of a group of grave robbers, recovering ancient Roman marble reliefs depicting stunningly lifelike gladiators locked in mortal combat, officials said Wednesday.

The 12 panels were found buried in the garden of a private home near Fiano Romano, some 40 kilometres north of Rome, and officials hailed the recovery as a major archaeological find and a blow to the illegal antiquities market.

The reliefs date to the late 1st century BC and are believed to have decorated a tomb, still to be located, in the nearby Roman settlement of Lucus Feroniae, said Anna Maria Moretti, superintendent for antiquities in the area north of Rome.

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Location: West Virginia Length: 29 min.

This film interprets the historical archaeology at the Marmet Lock Replacement Project in Kanawha County, West Virginia. The excavations uncovered four salt furnaces, John Reynolds' mansion, the cabin occupied by his slaves, and the cemetery where he and several family members were buried. The film uses historical and industrial archaeology, bioanthropology and historic documents to detail the rise and fall of the Reynolds family and the local salt industry which helped spark the Industrial Revolution in America.

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A historic woodland just outside Peterborough could hold the key to finding out more about the area’s Roman past as archaeologists prepare to lift the lid on 2,000 years of history.

Funding has been made available for a study of the 208-hectare woodland of Bedford Purlieus in Cambridgeshire, which archaeologists believe contains the remarkably intact and undisturbed remains of a large but hitherto unknown Roman structure.

“There was some indication of Roman building in the area,” explained Paul Malcolm, Forester with the Forestry Commission. “The site is marked on the OS map but we didn’t know this was going to turn out to be the size that it has. I think the extent of it was a surprise.”

Measuring an impressive 80 metres by 30 metres with several rooms arranged in two ranges by the side of the building, archaeologists believe the hidden structure could possibly be the remains of a villa, or a mansio, which is a kind of Roman way station.

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Hobbit cave digs set to restart

Archaeologists who found the remains of human "Hobbits" have permission to restart excavations at the cave where the specimens were found.

Indonesian officials have blocked access to the cave since 2005, following a dispute over the bones.

But Professor Richard "Bert" Roberts, a member of the team that found the specimens, told BBC News the political hurdles had now been overcome.

The researchers claim that the remains belong to a novel species of human.

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Tracing the route of our shared DNA from Africa to Yorkshire

African blood has run through British veins since at least the 18th century and perhaps since Roman times, a study suggests.

A set of typically West African genes has been found in seven white British men who share the same rare surname, allowing scientists to trace an African heritage that none had any idea he shared.

The African Y chromosome — the packet of genetic material passed down through the male line — probably originated from a man from Senegal or Guinea-Bissau who lived in Yorkshire in the early 18th century and was inherited by his male descendants.

It is even possible that the line goes back farther still, to Roman soldiers from North Africa posted to Hadrian’s Wall 1,800 years ago. This “division of Moors”, which included the earliest known Africans in Britain, included recruits from what is now Morocco.

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Storm damages Cologne mosaic in 100 places

The priceless Roman floor mosaic that was damaged last week in the German city of Cologne by the storm called Kyrill has been chipped in at least 100 places, the city's Roman-Germanic Museum said.

The museum, packed with Roman artefacts dug up in Cologne, was built over the spot where the well-preserved work of art was discovered in 1941 during efforts to dig an air raid shelter in the heart of the city.

On January 18, the storm hurled timber through plate-glass windows, covering the tiny tiles of the Dionysos Mosaic with debris.

"We have found 100 places where it was damaged and expect to find about 150 in all," museum manager Bernhard Ostermann said.

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Antonine Wall now closer to heritage status

Phil Miller Arts Correspondent THE bid to have a historic Scottish landmark recognised alongside the Great Wall of China and the pyramids of Egypt has come a step closer to success.

The Antonine Wall was put forward by Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, as Britain's latest nomination for a site that is worthy of World Heritage Site status.

The 2000-year-old wall, which runs for 37 miles from Bo'ness in West Lothian to Old Kilpatrick in West Dunbartonshire, is one of the most significant Roman remains still in existence.

The structure was built to keep Caledonian tribesman out of the northern part of Rome's empire.

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Roman Treasures Discovered

Work on Rome's Palatine Hill has turned up a trove of discoveries, including what might be the underground grotto where ancient Romans believed a wolf nursed the city's legendary founders Romulus and Remus.

Archaeologists gathered Tuesday at a conference to save crumbling monuments on the Palatine discussed findings of studies on the luxurious imperial homes threatened by collapse and poor maintenance that have forced the closure of much of the hill to the public.

While funds are still scarce, authorities plan to reopen some key areas of the honeycombed hill to tourists by the end of the year, including frescoed halls in the palaces of the emperor Augustus and of his wife, Livia.

After being closed for decades, parts of the palaces will be opened for guided tours while restoration continues, officials said.

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Rome's Palatine Hill shows new treasures

Work on Rome's Palatine Hill has turned up a trove of discoveries, including what might be the underground grotto where ancient Romans believed a wolf nursed the city's legendary founders Romulus and Remus.

Archaeologists gathered Tuesday at a conference to save crumbling monuments on the Palatine discussed findings of studies on the luxurious imperial homes threatened by collapse and poor maintenance that have forced the closure of much of the hill to the public.

While funds are still scarce, authorities plan to reopen some key areas of the honeycombed hill to tourists by the end of the year, including frescoed halls in the palaces of the emperor Augustus and of his wife, Livia.

After being closed for decades, parts of the palaces will be opened for guided tours while restoration continues, officials said.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Byzantine Icons Returned

An American foundation hands over centuries-old religious artworks.

A ceremony at the Consulate General of Cyprus in New York on January 10 marked the return of six stolen Byzantine icons to the Church of Cyprus. The repatriation was amicable, with the Charles Pankow Foundation voluntarily giving the icons to the Church. The Foundation, based in Ontario, California, had consigned the icons to Sotheby's in 2005. Hearing of the proposed sale, the Cypriot government intervened and through its Washington embassy requested that the sale in New York be halted, maintaining that the lawful owner was the Church of Cyprus.

The importance of the occasion was underscored by the presence ofÊ Andreas Kakouris, ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States, the Metropolitan of Morfou from the Church of Cyprus, and Martha Mavrommatis, the consul-general of Cyprus in New York, as well as Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America.

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Man unearths Bronze Age dagger in field

A METAL detecting enthusiast has unearthed a 3,600-year-old dagger from the depths of a South Lakeland field.

The finder, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear others will descend on the secret site, said he could not believe his luck when he stumbled across the Bronze Age relic.

"I was going along a small footpath when I got a good signal from the detector. I dug down a few inches and saw a piece of green metal," he explained.

"My immediate reaction was it's Bronze Age'."

After carefully exhuming the delicate dagger, the member of the Kendal and District Metal Detecting Club contacted Kendal Museum.

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World Heritage support for wall

A landmark representing the most northerly walled frontier of the Roman Empire has become the UK's official nomination for World Heritage status.

The Antonine Wall runs 37 miles from Bo'ness, near Falkirk, to Old Kilpatrick in West Dunbartonshire.

The announcement was made by UK Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell.

Conservation body Unesco, which is responsible for the scheme, will examine the proposal and make a final decision at a future date.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Do you have any photos of old Falmouth?

The National Maritime Museum Cornwall is appealing to the people of Falmouth, Penryn and the Fal estuary to lend it photos for a new temporary exhibition on Falmouth. The exhibition will run for three months from late March. If you have a picture, document or photograph telling the maritime history of the towns, waterside or river, contact Jo Warbuton at the Museum, tel: 01326 313388.

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Railway construction unearths ancient artifacts in Germany

COLOGNE, Germany -- Genialinius Gennatus was one fine duck hunter.

In the third century , he recorded his prowess in high Latin on a stone tablet that he dedicated to Jupiter. That and a hefty donation probably ensured that the tablet won display in the temple to the Roman god in the settlement then called Colonia.

Five or six centuries later, Cologne's early Christians, perhaps offended by the tablet dedicated to a pantheist god, chucked it into the silting channel between the Rhine river port and a small island on the Rhine, unknowingly ensuring the hunter's immortality.

Historians now know the ordinary man named Gennatus hunted ducks and prayed to Jupiter because of Cologne's decision to punch 2 1/2 miles of new north-south light railway tunnel through the silt and sediment that lie beneath one of Germany's oldest cities.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Site yields up clues to the ancient past

A prehistoric treasure trove spanning more than 100,000 years of Norfolk's past has been unearthed.

Travel just millimetres down through the layers of chocolate brown and olive green earth at the site outside Saham Toney, near Watton, and you are crossing millennia.

Digger driver Ralph Fickling made the first discovery last October - a leg bone the size of a small tree trunk protruding from a shelf of black gravel.

In the following months, with the help of Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service (NMAS), three mammoths' teeth and a collection of bones were uncovered at the bottom of the half-dug lake.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Quarrying firm wins 'Stonehenge' battle

PLANS to quarry more land close to one of the area's most important ancient sites have been given the go-ahead by North Yorkshire councillors.

At a meeting in Masham this week they approved "downsized" plans by Tarmac to extend its operations near Thornborough Henges, north of Ripon, which have been described as the Stonehenge of the North

The county council's planning committee approved extraction of sand and gravel on a site east of the existing Nosterfield Quarry at Ladybridge Farm – but only on condition that the company gives legal safeguards to protect the Iron Age site.

Last February, North Yorkshire County Council rejected an application to quarry a larger site after concerns were raised about the impact sand and gravel extraction would have on the archaeology of the area.

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Unique rock paintings reveal traces of prehistoric human settlement in Anatolia

On the shores of Lake Bafa in southwest Turkey, prehistoric rock paintings found on Mt. Latmos in the Five Fingers Mountains have been classified as unique anthropological works because of their use of language and social themes.

Archaeologist Annelise Peschlow has been conducting a survey of the area, the ancient city of Miletusare, since 1974 as part of the Latmos Project to find early traces of human settlements in the area. The city's evolution extended from prehistoric times to the Ottoman era. She found the first rock paintings in 1994.

According to her, the rock paintings found on Mt. Latmos were a significant discovery because they provided unique insight into the prehistoric culture of Anatolia.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hunt for Saxon cathedral

PLANS are underway to carry out a survey of the ground underneath and around Crediton Parish Church to try and trace the town's original Saxon cathedral.

The survey is being planned as part of a Festival of Crediton in 2009 to mark the 1,100th the anniversary of the founding of the cathedral, which will be held in May and June.

It was suggested that they could use ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to look beneath the ground of the church, the churchyard and the surrounding area to try and find the Saxon Cathedral.

They are hoping to carry out the survey this year, with a display of the results being displayed during the festival.

The group, which is now a sub-committee of the parochial church council, are now looking into funding for the project.

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European skull's evolving story

The earliest modern humans in Europe were short of being the complete article, according to a study of a fossilised skull from Romania.

The 35,000-year-old cranium discovered in Pestera cu Oase in the west of the country shows an interesting mix of features, say scientists.

Whilst undeniably a Homo sapiens specimen, it has some traits normally associated with more ancient species.

The skull is reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Treasures lost and found go on display

This Roman figurine of a dog dating from 350 BC is part of a hoard of treasures uncovered by amateur archaeologists which went on display yesterday at the British Museum.

Measuring barely 2in and valued at up to £600, it was uncovered in a field near Newchurch, Isle of Wight, by Alan Rowe, a children's illustrator who said it was the nicest object he had found in 25 years of metal detectoring.

The centrepiece of the hoard is part of a Bronze Age necklace worth £65,000.

The Celtic necklace end was found by Dr Stephen Hammond, a leading member of the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project, in Norfolk. It forms the missing piece of the "Sedgeford Torc", a necklace found in 1965.

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Treasure hunters – the new heroes of national heritage

Members of the public unearthed 57,566 ancient objects last year, according to the British Museum — an increase of 45 per cent on 2005. The items included a spectacular Viking hoard of 20 silver bracelets.

Two reports published yesterday show how finds by people walking, gardening, farming or actively searching for treasure provide a wealth of information about our past.

David Lammy, the Culture Minister, described metal detector users as “the unsung heroes of the UK’s heritage”.

The Treasure Act 1996 requires the reporting of all gold and silver objects more than 300 years old, and groups of coins that are more than 300 years old and found on the same site.

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'Unsung heroes of heritage' extolled for unearthing hoard of treasure

A missing gold finial from the Sedgeford torc, excavated almost in its entirety more than 40 years ago, and a stash of Viking silver bracelets that may have helped finance an attack on Dublin were among a glittering hoard of treasure disclosed yesterday, the discovery of amateurs and their metal detectors.
The culture minister, David Lammy, yesterday called metal detectorists "the unsung heroes of the UK's heritage", a phrase that will cause a sharp intake of breath among some archaeologists who still regard them as little better than legalised looters.

However, in most parts of the country a truce is in place, with archaeologists and hobbyists working together, a code of conduct agreed by both sides. The amateurs, in fact, are often called in to help at excavation sites, valued for their equipment and expertise at telling a buried coin from a can ring-pull.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Henges 'safe' as council votes for new quarry extension plan

UNANIMOUS approval was granted yesterday for the extraction of 1.1 million tonnes of sand and gravel from a quarry extension within 1,100 yards of what is said to be one of the most important archaeological sites in Britain.

The granting of planning permission allows Tarmac Northern Ltd to extend its Nosterfield Quarry north of Ripon across 76 acres of Ladybridge Farm despite its proximity to the three Thornborough Henges, which experts have described as the Stonehenge of the North.

In February last year, North Yorkshire County Council's planning and regulatory functions committee rejected a larger scheme covering 112 acres after English Heritage said the scheme would destroy archaeology of national importance at a Scheduled Ancient Monument

But, after talks with English Heritage and North Yorkshire's own heritage unit, Tarmac submitted a revised application which omitted the area regarded as having archaeological importance. An appeal against the first decision will now be withdrawn.

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Quarrying near ancient site gets go-ahead

PLANS to quarry more land close to the ancient Thornborough Henges have been given the go-ahead by North Yorkshire councillors.

At a meeting in Masham yesterday (Tuesday) they approved "downsized" plans by Tarmac to extract sand and gravel on a site east of the existing Nosterfield Quarry at Ladybridge Farm - but only on condition that the company gives legal safeguards to protect the site.

Last February, the county council's planning and regulatory functions committee rejected an application to quarry a larger site after concerns were raised about the impact sand and gravel extraction would have on the archaeology of the area.

The revised plan sees the extraction area reduced from 45.7hectares to 30.9, the 'mineral yield' decreased from 2.2m tonnes to 1.1m tonnes and the area identified by English Heritage as being of archaeological interest omitted from the application.

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Celebrity archaeologists will bring underground secrets from Norton St Philip to TV screens this weekend.Sunday's episode of Channel 4's Time Team focuses on the ancient Roman farmstead at Blacklands Farm.

Members of the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society (BACAS) have been quietly excavating the remains of an Iron Age settlement and the Roman villa for decades, but now the site is to appear on television.

Experts including Tony Robinson and Professor Mick Aston filmed the show in May, with local people and members of BACAS helping out on the dig.

Bridget Hetzel, a member of the archaeological society, said: "Everyone worked incredibly hard during the week, with excavations starting at 9am and continuing into the evenings.

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Archaeological Work Ongoing at David Evans Site

ARCHAEOLOGICAL work is ongoing at the David Evans site in Swansea.

Experts are going through the city centre building with a fine toothcomb in an attempt to salvage any items of historical value and possible remains of the old castle wall.

Demolition at the site will kick-off once all archaeological steps have been undertaken.

The work is expected to last between 16 and 20 weeks and will form the next stage in an exciting project spearheaded by Swansea Council.

The Authority has signed an agreement with London-based Thurleigh Estates for the redevelopment of the David Evans site.

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A culture shaped by natural disasters

Archaeologist Christos Doumas says ancient Thera’s civilization was influenced by its response to chronic earthquakes and volcanic explosions

Those who lived on ancient Thera often attributed the island’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to the wrath of the gods. But this mythmaking that arose from the need to explain the chronic destruction also contributed greatly to the creation of the island’s culture, a leading archaeologist said last week.

“The volcano of Thera was a permanent challenge to local residents, to which they came up with various responses,” said Professor Christos Doumas, director of the Akrotiri excavations on Santorini, in a lecture last Thursday at the Archaeological Society.

Doumas noted that the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri suffered numerous earthquakes in the course of its 3,000-year history, which shaped it both physically and socially.

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Skull shows possible human/Neanderthal breeding

A 40,000-year-old skull found in a Romanian cave shows traits of both modern humans and Neanderthals and might prove the two interbred, researchers reported on Monday.

If the findings are confirmed, the skull would represent the oldest modern human remains yet found in Europe.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences, will add to the debate over whether modern Homo sapiens simply killed off their Neanderthal cousins, or had some intimate interactions with them first.

DNA samples taken from Neanderthal bones suggest there was no mixing, or at least that any Neanderthal genetic contribution did not make it to the modern DNA pool.

But Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis has in the past found bones that he believes show both modern human and Neanderthal traits, and now he and colleagues have found a skull.

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Neandertals, Modern Humans May Have Interbred, Skull Study Suggests

Modern humans continued to evolve after they reached Europe 40,000 years ago and may have interbred with Neandertals, according to new research.

The findings are based on an analysis of the oldest modern human skull yet found in Europe.

Neandertals (often spelled Neanderthals) were heavy browed, big boned early humans that lived in Europe and parts of Asia for about 200,000 years.

Neandertals disappeared from the fossil record 28,000 years ago, about 12,000 years after modern humans began to spread across Europe.

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Skull suggests human-Neanderthal link

A skull found in a cave in Romania includes features of both modern humans and Neanderthals, possibly suggesting that the two may have interbred thousands of years ago.

Neanderthals were replaced by early modern humans. Researchers have long debated whether the two groups mixed together, though most doubt it. The last evidence for Neanderthals dates from at least 24,000 years ago.

The skull bearing both older and modern characteristics is discussed in a paper by Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis. The report appears in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The skull was found in Pestera cu Oase — the Cave with Bones — in southwestern Romania, along with other human remains. Radiocarbon dating indicates it is at least 35,000 years old and may be more than 40,000 years old.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Hobbit like humans show Indonesia was "middle earth"

In a world first, a book detailing the discovery of a lost species of hobbit-like people who lived on a remote tropical Indonesian island less than 20,000 years ago was launched in Armidale in northern NSW on Saturday.

According to research completed by University of New England Professor, Mike Moorwood, the artefacts his group unearthed during a 2003 archaeological dig on Flores Island suggest a kind of "middle earth" existed there, with metre-high humans hunting miniature elephants, giant rodents and Komodo dragons.

Professor Moorwood wrote "The Discovery of the Hobbit" about the Liang Bua limestone caves on Flores Island in consultation with colleague Penny Van Oosterzee. The Armidale-based project included a team of Australian and Indonesian specialists and was facilitated through the local Flores community.

The book details the existence of an ancient group of people, "a previously unsuspected, tiny species of human living on a remote island in east Indonesia, and overlapping considerably in time with us," and explains the modern day politics that have surrounded the breakthrough.

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Archaeologists get to the point

Call it CSI: Stone Age, an archaeological investigation of how ancient flint arrowheads left their mark on some very old bones.

The trauma caused by these arrows may be a clue in the scholarly mystery of whether warfare existed in the centuries before recorded history, says the team led by archaeologist Martin Smith of the United Kingdom's University of Birmingham. "Finds of embedded projectile points are not uncommon" in bones from the late Stone Age, or Upper Paleolithic, about 10,000 to 40,000 years ago, the team says in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

While archeologists have long examined butchering marks and rock bashes left in bones, identifiable signs of the glancing blows of arrows, prehistory's weapon of choice, had heretofore been lacking. That's because archaeologists didn't know what to look for, Smith and colleagues suggest. So, they decided see for themselves what sort of wounds flint arrowheads leave behind.

"Recognizing wounds has been a problem for archaeologists," says anthropologist John Shea of Stony Brook (N.Y.) University, who was not part of the study. "The study will be very helpful. It is a superb example of experimental archaeology."

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Crumbling heritage sites have £1bn of outstanding repairs

A backlog of more than £1bn in outstanding repairs at listed places of worship and charitably and privately owned heritage sites is revealed in a report published today. Yet spending per head on heritage in England is less than in other European countries, including Germany, Italy, Portugal, Norway, Spain and the Netherlands.

The disclosures are in a report from Britain's leading heritage organisations, including Heritage Link, English Heritage, National Trust, Historic Houses Association and the Heritage Lottery Fund, detailing the challenges facing owners and guardians of the country's historic sites, buildings, places and gardens.

The groups say the report presents the Government with an opportunity to halt the decline in the state of historic buildings, to implement a simpler and faster heritage protection system, and to get more people involved with the historic environment.

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Dinosaurs, humans coexist in U.S. creation museum

PETERSBURG, Kentucky (Reuters) - Ken Ham's sprawling creation museum isn't even open yet, but an expansion is already underway in the state-of-the art lobby, where grunting dinosaurs and animatronic humans coexist in a Biblical paradise.

A crush of media attention and packed preview sessions have convinced Ham that nearly half a million people a year will come to Kentucky to see his Biblically correct version of history.

"I think we'll be surprised at how many people come," Ham said as he dodged dozens of designers working to finish exhibits in time for the May 28 opening.

The $27 million project, which also includes a planetarium, a special-effects theater, nature trails and a small lake, is privately funded by people who believe the Bible's first book, Genesis, is literally true.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Treasure trove: Metal-detecting finds up by 20 per cent in a year

For most treasure seekers the promising glint of a gold coin in the garden has turned out on closer inspection to be a rusting bottle top. However, a report to be published this week will show that more buried treasure than ever is being reported found in the UK by amateur archaeologists armed with metal detectors.

The number of reported valuable finds has increased by nearly 20 per cent in the last year, with discoveries including iron age and medieval hoards, Roman coins and exquisite examples of Anglo-Saxon jewellery.

The official report will show that thousands of finds are being reported each year and that 506 discoveries were significant enough to be declared as treasure trove. The remarkable increase has caused huge excitement among museums and in government.

David Lammy, the minister of culture, said that metal detetectorists who spend days scanning newly ploughed fields in the hope that a beep will lead them to buried treasure, are doing a huge service to Britain's cultural life.

"Metal detectorists are the unsung heroes of the UK's heritage. Thanks to the responsible approach they display in reporting finds and the systems we have set up to record them, more archaeological material is available for all to see at museums or to study online," he said.

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Time team follows Tyne crossing

A team of archaeologists is to carry out a dig along the route of a planned river crossing to see if they can find significant traces of the past.

The experts, from Durham University, are investigating in advance of work on the New Tyne Crossing next year to ensure there are no hold-ups.

They will have up to eight weeks to find out what may be underground.

There is a possibility that findings could add to the understanding of Jarrow at the time of Bede.

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Volunteer archaeologists discover Turkey's caves

Volunteer archeologists working to preserve Turkey's caves and archeological sites have turned United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) heads with their comprehensive bilingual online inventory, which publicizes information on Turkish archeological sites covering the Stone Age to the Bronze Age.

In an effort to create a chronological inventory of Turkey's cultural assets, Oğuz Tanındı, professor of prehistory at Istanbul University's department of Archeology, established The Archeological Settlements of Turkey (TAY) in 1993.

Tanındı, now TAY's project coordinator, said that Turkey's vast archeological sites are unprotected and in serious danger. The project carried out by his team of volunteer archeologists intends to reclaim archeological sites, and more recently caves, by drawing up an inventory and sharing this information with the international community and Turkish public.

�All cultural assets within the borders of our country are a collective heritage for mankind and we have to claim them in this sense,� Tanındı told the Turkish Daily News. �Starting in 2000 our land survey team traveled throughout Anatolia and Thrace covering 92,000 kilometers in five years,� Tanındı said. The volunteers took the coordinates of archeological sites, prepared reports, took photos and filmed hundreds of sites.

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Stonehenge Didn't Stand Alone, Excavations Show

Recent excavations of Salisbury Plain in southern England have revealed at least two other large stone formations close by the world-famous prehistoric monument.

One of the megalithic finds is a sandstone formation that marked a ritual burial mound; the other, a group of stones at the site of an ancient timber circle.

The new discoveries suggest that many similar monuments may have been erected in the shadow of Stonehenge, possibly forming part of a much larger complex, experts say.

The findings were part of the Stonehenge Riverside Project, a joint initiative to explore the land around the iconic monument. Led by Mike Parker Pearson of Sheffield University, the project involves six English universities.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

First home of modern man in Europe was Russia

A Stone Age archaeological site on the banks of the river Don in southern Russia has been identified by scientists as the earliest known settlement of modern humans in Europe.

The discovery has provided support for the idea that the first migration of modern humans out of sub-Saharan Africa occurred less than 50,000 years ago.

Scientists have dated the artefacts from the Russian site to 45,000BC, which would make the inhabitants the earliest known ancestors of Europeans today.

"The big surprise here is the very early presence of modern humans in one of the coldest, driest places in Europe," said John Hoffecker of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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Fossil DNA Best Preserved in the Ground

The best way to preserve fossil DNA is to follow nature's lead and leave the bones buried in the ground, according to a study that compared "fresh" and "old" fossils.

As the only remains of extinct species, fossils can provide a wealth of information if their DNA can be retrieved.

However, the most easily accessible samples, those stored in museums after standard conservation procedures, including handling, washing, brushing and storing at room temperature, yield little or no DNA, a French experimental study has concluded.

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Pompeii's most popular brothel goes on display

POMPEII, Italy - It was the jewel of Pompeii’s libertines: a brothel decorated with frescoes of erotic figures believed to be the most popular in the ancient Roman city.

The Lupanare — which derives its name from the Latin word “lupa,” or “prostitute” — was presented to the public again Thursday following a yearlong, $253,000 restoration to clean up its frescoes and fix the structure.

Pompeii was destroyed in A.D. 79 by a cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius that killed thousands of people — and buried the city in 20 feet of volcanic ash, preserving Pompeii for 1,600 years and providing precious information on what life was like in the ancient world.

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Ivory carving pushes back date of modern man's venture into Europe

An ivory carving appearing to show the head of a human being marks Modern Man’s first attempt at figurative art, archaeologists believe.

The carving was found with primitive tools and two human teeth at a site dating back further than any other settlement found in Europe.

It is forcing scientists to reassess the date at which Modern Man occupied Europe after leaving Africa, and the routes that were taken.

The settlement is thought to be about 45,000 years old. It is much farther north than any other similar site. Until the discovery, at Kostenki, close to the River Don in southern Russia, Modern Man, who evolved about 195,000 years ago, was thought to have moved to Europe between 40,000 and 42,000 years ago.

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Macabre secret of ancient cave revealed in TV series

A MORAYSHIRE cave was a place where, in order to show their grief, parents built the most macabre of memorials.

The heads of their offspring, perished before their time, were severed and placed on poles at the entrance to the cave, which was a temple to the dead children.

The secrets of the ancient cave will be revealed next week in a BBC Scotland television series. It suggests that around 3000 years ago, people from across the north of Scotland, the islands, and possibly even Ireland, brought their dead children to Sculptor's Cave, near Lossiemouth.

Ian Shepherd, an archaeologist, has carried out numerous excavations in the remote cave. Uncovering skeletal parts from six children, his work brought to light skull parts in the cave's entrance, which from the way they lay, indicated there had at one time been fleshy heads on poles.

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Skull Supports Theory of Human Migration

From a new analysis of a human skull discovered in South Africa more than 50 years ago, scientists say they have obtained the first fossil evidence establishing the relatively recent time for the dispersal of modern Homo sapiens out of Africa.

The migrants appeared to have arrived at their new homes in Asia and Europe with the distinct and unmodified heads of Africans.

An international team of researchers reported yesterday that the age of the South African skull, which they dated at about 36,000 years old, coincided with the age of the skulls of humans then living in Europe and the far eastern parts of Asia, even Australia. The skull also closely resembled skulls of those humans.

The timing, the scientists and other experts said, introduced independent evidence supporting archaeological finds and recent genetic studies showing that modern humans left sub-Saharan Africa for Eurasia between 65,000 and 25,000 years ago; probably closer to 45,000 to 35,000 years ago for Europe.

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Clues found for early Europeans

An archaeological find in Russia has shed light on the migration of modern humans into Europe.

Artefacts uncovered at the Kostenki site, south of Moscow, suggest modern humans were at this spot about 45,000 years ago.

The first moderns may have entered Europe through a different route than was previously thought, the international team reports.

The research is published in the journal Science.

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'Priceless' Roman find in farmer's field

A RARE solid silver Roman bracelet unearthed in a farmer's field has been declared treasure trove.

The snake-shaped ornament could be the only one of its kind in the world, making it priceless, it was revealed at a Stockport coroner's hearing.

Archaeologist James Balme didn't even need his metal detector to make the discovery, gleaming in the soil in the field at Lymm near Warrington.

The ancient jewellery will now be valued by a panel of experts at the British Museum in London.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Archaeological discovery halts Nenagh Castle project

THE discovery of significant archaeological remains surrounding Nenagh Castle has halted renovation works on the 13th century castle.

The 'Tipperary Star' has learned that initial exploratory archaeological excavations in five trenches has unearthed interesting findings at the rear of 35 Pearse St, in a house which was formerly owned by the Ayer's family. A portion of the find also extends into the rear of 36, Pearse St.

Archaeologists are believed to have unearthed the remains of a stone 'curtain wall', which would have formed part of medieval keep and manor house, and would have been part of a defensive-type structure surrounding the castle.
Archaeologists believe that initial findings have the potential of leading to what could be a find of significant archaeological importance, but investigations are currently at a preliminary stage.

Th0e news of the find will stall plans for a new visitors' centre, which has been planned on the site of the find, but local Dail Deputy, Maire Hoctor has moved quickly to assure people that a three million euro Government grant for the project remains secure, despite the setback.

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A scientific discovery on the trail of Homer

Using boreholes and seismic imaging to analyze subsurface geological features, British researchers have provided a key confirmation of their claim that Ithaca, the home of the legendary Greek warrior Odysseus, was located on a present-day peninsula of the island of Cephalonia.

The jutting piece of land, the scientists say, was a small island separate from Cephalonia until rubble from landslides and earthquakes over the centuries filled the channel between them.

The researchers think the peninsula, called Paliki, was the residence of the hero of the epic poem "The Odyssey," which along with "The Iliad," in which Odysseus also appears, is said to have been written by Homer in the 8th or 7th century BC.

The findings support earlier studies by the trio of researchers that linked specific sites on the peninsula to locations mentioned in Homer's verses.

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Always Revealing, Human Skin Is an Anthropologist’s Map

In an era of academic hyper-specialization, Dr. Nina G. Jablonski has an amazingly broad résumé. At 53, she heads the anthropology department at Pennsylvania State University. She’s also a primatologist, an evolutionary biologist and a paleontologist.

Last year, Dr. Jablonski led an expedition to China, where she dug for human fossils in an attempt to learn how early man coped with climate change. This month, she’s in Kenya, where she and Meave Leakey are putting together a study on prehistoric monkeys.

For more than a decade, Dr. Jablonski has been trying to get her arms around a ubiquitous and yet mysterious topic: the biology, evolution and social function of human skin. The results of her studies have been published by the University of California Press as “Skin: A Natural History.”

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Ancient 'warrior' found in permafrost

RUSSIAN archaeologists have uncovered the 2000-year-old remains of a warrior preserved intact in permafrost in the Altai mountains region, the official Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily says.

The warrior was blond had tattoos on his body. He was wearing a felt coat with sable fur trimmings and was buried in a wooden frame containing drawings of mythological creatures with an icepick beside him, the paper said.

Local archaeologists believe the man was part of the ruling elite of a local nomadic tribe known as the Pazyryk. Numerous other Pazyryk tombs have been found in the area.

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Groundbreaking research has revealed that Chester’s Roman amphitheatre was in fact a grand two-storey structure, similar to those found in parts of the Mediterranean, and was built on the foundations of a second, earlier theatre.

The new theories are to be fully revealed at the first international conference on amphitheatres, also to be held in Chester over the weekend of February 17 and 18 2007.

Speaking to the 24 Hour Museum, Dan Garner, Co-Director of the excavations at Chester, spoke about the fascinating new research:

“The original interpretation of the amphitheatre has been largely rewritten with the research we have done over the last three years,” he explained.

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Italy to ask Japan for return of 'looted' antiques

The international effort to recover “stolen” works of art from some of the world’s best museums gathered pace today with reports that Italy is seeking the return of Roman antiquities from Japan.

Authorities in Italy suspect that up to 100 treasures from ancient Rome were looted and have asked the Japanese government to help secure their return, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported.

About 50 of the missing treasures, including a sculpture and fresco painting, are being kept at the Miho museum, a private museum in Shiga prefecture in western Japan known for its large collection of Asian and western antiques, the newspaper said, citing unnamed Italian prosecutors.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Location: Germany Length: 3 min.

The huge stones of Neolithic and Bronze Age tombs in Europe often inspire questions about how people using simple technology could have transported them from their quarries. Those who ask such questions tend to underestimate the ingenuity of people living thousands of years ago. This film confirms that there is no need for giants to move the gigantic rocks of a megalithic tomb. In a demonstration of experimental archaeology, a group of students shows how simple it is to transport the stones.

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Human skull discovered in woods

Police and forensic archaeologists are examining a human skull which was found in woodland in Buckinghamshire.

It was discovered on Sunday morning by a man walking his dog in Wendover Woods, Aylesbury Vale.

The area has been cordoned off and Thames Valley Police officers are searching the site.

Det Sgt Pete Foy said officers and other specialists were trying to determine the nature and origin of the bone, which could take several weeks.

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History sleuth's odyssey to Homer's island

An amateur historian produced evidence yesterday to back his claim to have found the island homeland of Homer's legendary Greek king, Odysseus.

Scholars have argued for centuries over the whereabouts of Ithaca, the lost kingdom of the hero of the Trojan war. But Robert Bittlestone, a management consultant from Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey, and two professors of classics and geology have suggested the location is not the Greek island of Ithaki, but Paliki — a peninsula of Kefalonia.

The bands on this rock off Kefalonia may not be the result of falling sea-levels and sun but of seismic activity which filled in the channel to Paliki
If true, it would be the greatest classical discovery since Heinrich Schliemann found the site of Troy in Turkey in the 1870s, and would establish Odysseus as a figure from history as opposed to a figment of Homer's imagination.

In Homer's epic poem, it takes Odysseus 10 years to return home after the war.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tower of London drafted for design danger list

The sheer number of skyscrapers due to share space alongside the Tower of London has raised the possibility that the building should join the list of endangered World Heritage Sites.

The proposal, reportedly tabled yesterday by Unesco, would mean the capital’s most famous fortress would become the only building in the developed world on the endangered list.

Government officials have until the end of the month to explain to the UN agency‘s World Heritage Committee why the Tower should not be listed, The Independent reported.

According to the paper, officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are likely to say that the correct planning procedures were followed for developments to the nearby area.

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2006 IN REVIEW: Bulgaria's year of discoveries: What lies beneath

Bulgaria's population has increased by three since 2005, two men and one woman. In August, archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology discovered two additional tombs on Cape Kaliakra, during a site excavation. The tombs are thought to be from the country's early Christian period (seventh-eighth century CE) according to the uncoverers, and from the same family, but buried at different times.

Instead of trying to privatise the national rails of iron, the country can put on public display a mediaeval sword. The weapon was found at the site of the two tombs and is particularly prized because such weapons are rarely found.

Six point three more inches of gold and platinum have now been added to the country's miles of wealth. The dagger, found in August in an ancient Thracian complex near the village of Dabene, central Bulgaria, is believed to be 5000 years old.

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New Viking treasures found

Archaeologists have made a major discovery in Western Norway, unearthing well-preserved Viking graves from the 9th century full of riches.

The Viking treasures were found at Frøyland in Rogaland County. Local newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad reported Monday that items recovered from the graves indicate they belonged to wealthy Vikings of the time.

In one of the graves, belonging to a woman, archaeologists found jewellery, many pearls, glass beads, scissors, a knife and other household utensils.

"The size, quality and design of the jewellery is highly unusual," said archaeologist Olle Hemdorff. "She took with her many things."

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Monday, January 08, 2007

The Evolution Of Human Diet

A University of Arkansas professor's most recent work addresses the question of how human eating habits have evolved over millions of years.

Peter Ungar, professor of anthropology in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, has edited a book, The Evolution of Human Diet: The Known, the Unknown, and the Unknowable, in which scholars from various disciplines address the knowledge and limitations of the field. The book offers an assessment of the current science, the limits of knowledge and possible directions for future research.

The idea for the book evolved from a 2003 workshop organized by Ungar and sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which brought together researchers from different fields who were examining the same issues in the evolution of human diet from different perspectives. The book builds on the workshop, examining the evolution of human diet through the hominin fossil record, the archeological record, paleoecology and modeling.

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Google Earth and Archaeology

Google Earth, software that uses high resolution satellite images of the entire planet to allow the user to get an incredible moving aerial view of our world, has stimulated some serious applications in archaeology--and seriously good fun for fans of archaeology.

(About Archaeology)

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Dig in Athens reveals ancient treasures

Athens: Like many treasures from antiquity, they were chance finds, but a fabulous hoard of more than 50,000 pieces unearthed during excavations in Athens has also provided a window on the ancient civilisation of Greece.

The treasure trove, discovered during excavations to build the New Acropolis Museum in the capital, includes relics ranging from a near-perfectly preserved marble bust of Aristotle, to cooking utensils, children's games and figurines of little known deities.

``Thanks to the New Acropolis Museum, we were able to conduct the biggest ever dig within the walls of Athens' ancient city,'' archaeologist Stamatia Eleftheratou said. ``The excavation yielded artefacts that told us a lot about people's habits, the way they worshipped and their day-to-day lives.''

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East Anglian Prehistory conference

The Council for British Archaeology is organizing 'East Anglian Prehistory - Some Recent Research', a conference in memory of John Wymer. If you are interested in attending then please book early as it looks that this event will be over-subscribed.

The conference will be held at the University of East Anglia (Lecture Theatre One) on Saturday March 31st 2007. Among the speakers are Nick Ashton (The Hoxnian and Hoxne), Peter Robins (Long Blade industry, beach finds), Julie Gardiner (Mesolithic in East Anglia - with Wymerian associations?), Francis Healy (Neolithic/Bronze Age), Gill Varndell (Grimes Graves?), Andrew Lawson (Wessex-style burials in East Anglia with particular reference to Little Cressingham), Trevor Ashwin (Archaeology of the Norwich By-Pass) and Andrew Rogerson (John in the Norfolk Unit).

The event is supported by Quaternary Research Association, The Prehistoric Society, Lithic Studies Society, Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History. Price: members of the Council for British Archaeology or supporting organisation. £20.00; non-members £25.00. Further information on this conference can be found at

(Source - Stone Pages)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Ancient Roman road found in Netherlands

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Archaeologists in the Netherlands have found what they believe is part of the military road Roman soldiers once patrolled in the first century while guarding against hostile Germanic tribes at the Roman Empire's northern boundary.

Wooden poles were used to protect the roadsides from erosion, and experts hoped to use tree-ring counting techniques to find the exact date they were cut, said archaeologist Wilfried Hessing, who is leading excavations in Houten, 30 miles southeast of Amsterdam.

Roman soldiers may have fled eastward along the route to more heavily protected forts in modern Germany during an uprising of local Dutch tribes in A.D. 69-70.

The stretch of road discovered in Houten is believed to have connected two forts — Traiectum, which gives its name to modern Utrecht, and Fectio, modern Vechten.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Why covet ancient chariots...

ITALY Conservationists are campaigning for the return of a unique Etruscan “golden chariot” which is due to form the centrepiece of a new exhibition this Spring at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The chariot, found in 1902 by a farmer at Monteleone near Spoleto in Umbria, and sold to the Met the next year, dates back to the 6th century BC. It is the star attraction in a collection of antiquities to go on show at the $155 million (£80million) Leon Levy and Shelby White Court at the museum.

Villagers in Monteleone (population 651), say that it was exported illegally. The campaign comes as Italy is stepping up its battle to regain a number of allegedly looted antiquities from institutions including the Met and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The farmer who found the chariot sold it — for two cows, according to some accounts — to dealers who allegedly smuggled it to New York.

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Sword finder takes his cut of £125,000

The finder of the remains of an exceptional 7th-century gold sword in a Lincolnshire field is £125,000 richer after they were acquired by the British Museum.

He is expected to share his good fortune with the owner of the field, near Market Rasen, where he made the discovery using a metal detector.

The sword’s pommel, decorated with large garnets that would have been transported along trade routes from Asia, and its hilt fittings were made by Anglo-Saxon craftsmen.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Area's unique Christian heritage to be marked

A SERIES of events celebrating the area's unique Christian heritage are being planned under the banner of The Golden Age of Northumbria.

It is hoped the two-year programme of events will help put Berwick Borough back on the map and could be an important step towards eventual World Heritage Status.
The idea is being put together by the heritage and culture sector board of the Berwick Borough Local Strategic Partnership (BBLSP) which has made a funding application for £50,000 to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Derek Sharman, a member of the heritage and culture sector board, said: "This part of north Northumberland was the cradle of English Christianity after Irish Celtic monks like Aidan and Cuthbert arrived in the 7th century.

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FYROM treasures looted

Deep in the south of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the looters move in broad daylight, trying to unearth historic treasures from a region that has become a paradise for plunderers. The brazen diggers in Isar Marvinci, a village of around 900 inhabitants some 170 kilometers (105 miles) from the capital Skopje, scour an ancient settlement in the hope of finding artifacts dating as far back as the Bronze Age.

“What to do with them, take them or leave them? If you leave them, the next digger or visitor will take them,” says one digger who refuses to reveal his identify. The raiders act with little fear of punishment despite knowing that what they are doing is illegal in FYROM, an impoverished Balkan country that doesn’t have the resources to protect its historic heritage. “Police come and go, and there is no local force,” says another.

The role of the diggers is the first link in a smuggling chain that usually sees the items end up on display in the West’s major shopping centers, or even its museums. FYROM is famous for its bronzes, but some of the highest prices currently being paid are for coinage from the era of Alexander the Great and his father Philip II. One such piece recently sold locally for around –3,000 ($3,950), but was expected to fetch more than four times as much in Western Europe.

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Enthusiast’s historic find in field

A STONE hand axe dating back to 3500 BC has been found in a field near Martyr Worthy.

The object was found by metal detectorist and archaeology enthusiast Jeremy de Montfalcon, of Hulse Road, Southampton.

The axe has been verified as authentic by Laura McLean, of the Portable Antiquities Scheme based the Hyde Historic Resources Centre.

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Tattoos: The Ancient and Mysterious History

Humans have marked their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. These permanent designs—sometimes plain, sometimes elaborate, always personal—have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment. Joann Fletcher, research fellow in the department of archaeology at the University of York in Britain, describes the history of tattoos and their cultural significance to people around the world, from the famous " Iceman," a 5,200-year-old frozen mummy, to today’s Maori.

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CU-Boulder tracks movements of ancient Central Americans using satellites, video-game technology

Satellite imagery meshed with video-game technology is allowing University of Colorado at Boulder and NASA researchers to virtually "fly" along footpaths used by Central Americans 2,000 years ago on spiritual pilgrimages to ancestral cemeteries.

The effort has allowed researchers to trace the movements of ancient people in the Arenal region of present-day Costa Rica, who used single-file paths to navigate rugged terrain between small villages and cemeteries over the centuries, said CU-Boulder Professor Payson Sheets. The repeated use of the footpaths caused erosion resulting in narrow trenches in the landscape up to 10 feet deep.

The evidence now indicates people re-used the same processional routes for more than 1,000 years, returning to them despite periodic abandonment of villages caused by recurring violent eruptions of the nearby Arenal Volcano, he said. Sheets gave a presentation on the subject at the 2nd International Conference on Remote Sensing in Archaeology held in Rome from Dec. 4 to Dec. 7.

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Thieves beware: museum curators are after you

Faced with the prospect of dissolution, the Art and Antiques Unit of the Metropolitan Police has come up with a new idea—to recruit curators and art historians as special constables. The scheme, dubbed Art Beat, is set to start in April. This is the first time the police has attempted to recruit such specialist volunteers.

Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley told The Art Newspaper that the scheme was devised after the Art squad was told by the Metropolitan Police Authority that it could be disbanded if it did not become 50% self-financing by 2008.

Art Beat Special Constables are being recruited from museums such as the Victoria & Albert and the British Museum, universities, insurance companies and other cultural organisations. After four weeks training in police procedure as well as specialist art squad techniques, volunteers will be sponsored by their employers to work as Special Constables for 200 hours a year or one day a fortnight. They will be uniformed and will have full police powers.

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The Getty's troubled goddess

Liberated from its shipping crates, the ancient statue drew a crowd of employees when it arrived in December 1987 at the J. Paul Getty Museum's antiquities conservation lab.

The 7 1/2 -foot figure had a placid marble face and delicately carved limestone gown. It was thought to depict Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Some who came to see it believed that the sculpture would become the greatest piece in the museum's antiquities collection.

One man, however, saw trouble.

Luis Monreal, director of the Getty Conservation Institute, saw signs that the object had been looted. There was dirt in the folds of the gown, and the torso had what appeared to be new fractures, suggesting that the statue had been recently unearthed and broken apart for easy smuggling.

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Mayo Clinic collaboration mining of ancient herbal text leads to potential new anti-bacterial drug

A unique Mayo Clinic collaboration has revived the healing wisdom of Pacific Island cultures by testing a therapeutic plant extract described in a 17th century Dutch herbal text for its anti-bacterial properties. Early results show that extracts from the Atun tree effectively control bacteria that can cause diarrhea, as claimed by naturalist Georg Eberhard Rumpf, circa 1650. He documented his traditional healing methods in the book Ambonese Herbal.

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Scientists May Have Found Medici Murder

Undated photo released Wednesday Jan. 3, 2007 by Prof. Donatella Lippi of the University of Florence, shows materials, viscera (remains of human liver) and two crucifixes, found in the Santa Maria Bonistallo church crypt, in Poggio a Caiano near Florence, central Italy. Scientists in Italy believe they have uncovered a 400-year-old murder. Historians have long suspected that Francesco de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and his second wife Bianca Cappello did not die of malaria but were poisoned -- probably by Francesco's brother, Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici, who was vying for the title -- but that theory was never proven. Now, forensic and toxicology experts at the University of Florence believe they have found evidence of murder, according to their study, which was published in the British Medical Journal on Dec. 21. (AP Photo/University of Florence)

(AP) -- Scientists in Italy believe they have uncovered a murder - 400 years after it is thought to have taken place. Historians have long suspected that Francesco de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and his second wife, Bianca Cappello, did not die of malaria but were poisoned - by Francesco's brother, Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici, who was vying for the dukedom. For four centuries that theory remained just that - a theory.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Kids bone up on the hippos of Yorkshire

THE ancient remains of a special Armley family are to have a special place in the new Leeds Museum.

Children, from Raynville Primary School, Bramley, and Burley St Matthias, Burley Park, are preparing exhibition material for the display of local HIPPOPOTAMUS bones.
They are working with geography students from Leeds University, as part of a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The skeletons of the four hippos, which were discovered in Armley in 1852, are set to become a centrepiece attraction at the new Leeds Museum on Millennium Square, due to open in 2008.

The bones, which are believed to be 120,000 years old, will form part of an environmental timeline of Leeds tracing back from the present day.

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£94m Acropolis museum reveals ancient treasures

Like many treasures from antiquity, they were chance finds, but a fabulous hoard of more than 50,000 pieces unearthed during excavations in Athens has also provided a window on to the ancient civilisation of Greece. The treasure trove, discovered during excavations to build the New Acropolis Museum in the capital, includes relics ranging from a near perfectly preserved marble bust of Aristotle to cooking utensils, children's games and figurines of little known deities.

"Thanks to the New Acropolis Museum we were able to conduct the biggest ever dig within the walls of Athens' ancient city," archaeologist, Stamatia Eleftheratou, said. "The excavation yielded artefacts that told us a lot about people's habits, the way they worshipped and their day to day lives."

Some of the treasures, such as an ornate statuette of the eastern deity Zeus Heliopolites, are unique - providing evidence of a cult of a god hitherto unknown - and extraordinarily well preserved.

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Archaeologist is acknowledged with an MBE

County archaeologist Dr Keith Ray’s services to local government have been acknowledged with an MBE in the New Years Honours list.

In what he describes as “a big canvas”, Dr Ray set up the Herefordshire County Archaeology Department in 1998, and some fascinating results have been revealed as a result of various studies spearheaded by him and his team mainly in the three valleys of Rivers Arrow, Frome and Lugg.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Stonehenge: a new view from a medieval artist

Stonehenge has been in the news twice recently. Both a new view and a new interpretation of the monument have been announced.

The new view is a tiny medieval drawing, only a couple of inches across, noticed in a scala mundi or “world ladder”, a chart of universal chronology from the Creation onwards. The document was in the municipal library of Douai, in northern France, probably taken there from England by Catholic refugees in the 16th century; Professor Christian Heck catalogued it there six years ago without at that stage thinking more about its importance.

The document dates from the 1440s, not the oldest depiction of the monument — which dates from around 1342 and is on a similar scala mundi at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge — but one of very few known. “Medieval representations of Stonehenge are extremely rare,” Professor Heck says, and this one is “the first known design to represent Stonehenge not just as a symbolic image, but with precise observations on its form and construction techniques. It bridges perfectly the worlds of medieval myth and Renaissance observation.”

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Treasure emerges from the mud of history

To the untutored eye, it looks like a lump of mud, but experts say that an 8th-century psalter found in an Irish peat bog is exceptionally significant.

Even though the vellum pages of the early Book of Psalms are a crumpled mass, they are likening it to the Book of Kells, one of the world’s most beautiful illuminated manuscripts.

As the find is thought to date from the late 8th century, the illuminators of both books would have been contemporaries, within ten or twenty years of each other. The two books — among few survivals of an age of outstanding manuscript production — are comparable in their large-format size.

The Book of Psalms — now undergoing a long-term conservation project — was uncovered by chance by a bulldozer digging peat moss in Faddan More Bog, Co Tipperary.

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Anxious householders are not the only people keeping a close eye on the crumbling Holderness coast.

For archaeologists are currently poring over 12,000 aerial photographs trying to identify historic sites on the brink of being lost forever to the North Sea.

Funded by English Heritage, the project is examining 85 miles of vulnerable coastline from Whitby to Donna Nook in North-East Lincolnshire.

Special attention is being given to the Holderness coast, where erosion rates are as much as six metres a year.

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Monday, January 01, 2007


Humber Archaeology team member John Buglass has been examining the Cleethorpes sites for the survey.

He believes it could be as little as five years before the sea permanently covers them.He said: "The boat is built of wood and has wooden trenails, with a little iron used, for fastenings. This could indicate the boat is from the early to mid-19th Century.

"She may - and I stress may - have been lost in an accident.

"Obviously, with Grimsby and Cleethorpes being so important in the fishing industry, it is not surprising to find fishing boats wrecked.

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Reunited at last! This is David, the brother I lost just 1,000 years ago

Gene study is throwing a new light on our nation's history - and our personal ancestry, reports science editor Robin McKie

A scientific revolution is taking place in the study of our ancient past. Once the preserve of academics who analysed prehistoric stones and crumbling parchment, the subject has been transformed by the study of our genes by scientists who are using the blood of the living to determine the actions of men and women centuries ago.

In the process, a mass of fascinating information about our predecessors has been revealed, from the physical appearance of Britain's first Stone Age settlers to the impact that invading Romans, Saxons and Normans had on our bloodline.

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Viking longships' last voyage strikes fear into the heart of archaeologists

A ROW has broken out in Norway over a decision to move three ancient Viking ships, which may not survive the journey.

The University of Oslo has decided to move three longships, probably by lorry and barge, to a new museum, despite dire warnings that the thousand-year-old oak vessels could fall apart en route.

A retired curator of Oslo's current Viking Ship Museum has said that the delicately preserved ships, two of which are nearly 80ft long, were almost equal in archaeological importance to the Pyramids.

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