Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Skeletons found at building site

Builders working in the centre of Preston have discovered bodies at a medieval burial ground.

The discovery of the bodies, which could be up to 700 years old, was made as work continued on the 72-bed hotel and student flats block at the back of the privately-owned Brunel Court flats in Marsh Lane.

Work stopped as experts from Oxford Archaeology North, who were on a 'watching brief' at the site, began to comb the area.

At least five coffins, parts of human skeletons, medieval glass and floor tiles thought to be from the 14th or 15th centuries, have been discovered.

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Archaeologists unearth gasworks

Investigators have uncovered a major example of Scottish industrial archaeology in the middle of Edinburgh.

They have found the remains of the capital's original gasworks, which was opened almost 200 years ago.

The site, which was discovered during redevelopment of the area, lies to the east of Edinburgh's Waverley station.

Edinburgh City Council's archaeologist, John Lawson, said Edinburgh's history was more normally associated with medieval times.

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Thinking Chimps

In the dry heat of the west African savannah a chimpanzee called Tumbo hauled herself up into a wizened tree. She had spotted something: an intriguing hole at a fork in the trunk. Watching her, researcher Paco Bertolani of Cambridge University in Britain, suspected that she was looking for insect larvae to eat. Tumbo snapped off a thin branch and purposefully honed one end, using her teeth to make a point.

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Then she moved closer to the hole, grasped the primitive spear and rammed it inside with as much might as she could muster. She pulled it out and sniffed and licked the end. Tumbo repeated the violent stabs again and again until, apparently satisfied, she moved across to a withered branch adjoining the trunk and leapt up and down to break it free. From within the exposed hole she retrieved an unmoving bushbaby, evidently dead as a result of the onslaught. She sat down and calmly dismembered the animal, chewing on the meat with relish and accompanying her meal with odd handfuls of fresh leaves.

Tumbo is the first chimpanzee to be seen making and using a tool to hunt for meat. Details of her spearing her prey were revealed last week in the journal Current Biology. Such behaviour represents an important leap forward in our understanding of how sophisticated mankind's closest relatives are.

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Irish architectural archive goes online

Ireland's inventory of historic buildings is being published online to create a new treasure trove for professional researchers and the wider public.

Content management firm TerminalFour has teamed up with the Department of the Environment's National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) to digitise government and local authority lists of significant buildings and gardens, map their locations, and publish the data online.

The internet database, called Buildings of Ireland, catalogues noted structures and gardens around Ireland, expands on various features of interest, and gives a history of each site. It includes everything from castles and cathedrals, to thatched houses and even boat sheds. The archive also lists important public buildings such as hospitals, as well as noteworthy gardens and other private buildings with recorded architectural features.

The database throws open the national records which were previously only accessible to government employees. These archives include photographic records of heritage sites such as Kilkenny Castle and the Botanic Gardens in Dublin.

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Spanish scientists point at climate changes as the cause of the Neanderthal extinction in the Iberian Peninsula

Climate – and not modern humans – was the cause of the Neanderthal extinction in the Iberian Peninsula. Such is the conclusion of the University of Granada (Universidad de Granada []) research group "RNM 179 - Mineralogy and Geochemistry of sedimentary and metamorphic environments", headed by professor Miguel Ortega Huertas and whose members Francisco José Jiménez Espejo, Francisca Martínez Ruiz and David Gallego Torres work jointly at the department of Mineralogy and Petrology of the UGR [] and the Andalusian Regional Institute of Earth Sciences (CSIC-UGR).

Together with other scientists from the Gibraltar Museum, Stanford University and the Japan Marine Science & Technology Center (JAMSTEC), the Spanish scientists published in the scientific journal Quaternary Science Reviews an innovative work representing a considerable step forward in the knowledge of human ancestral history.

The results of this multidisciplinary research are an important contribution to the understanding of the Neanderthal extinction and the colonisation of the European continent by Homo Sapiens.

During the last Ice Age, the Iberian Peninsula was a refuge for Neanderthals, who had survived in local pockets during previous Ice Ages, bouncing back to Europe when weather conditions improved.

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Earliest horse figures of Anatolia in Eskişehir

Horse figures painted on rock formations in Eskişehir are the oldest in Anatolia, according to new archaeological research.

The research revealed that the first known horse figures date back to 6,000 B.C. and that the area was settled in the early Neolithic period. The excavation and studies of Anatolia in Eskişehir's Sivrihisar district were conducted jointly by Eskişehir-based Anadolu University and the Eskişehir Archaeology Museum. The Eskişehir province lies directly to the west of Ankara.Ali Umut Türkcan of Anadolu University said rock paintings featuring horse figures were found by two amateur photographers in 2002, adding, �The rock paintings were interesting because they contained 20 horse figures and a figure resembling a human showing his hands before the horses.�

Türkcan said the figures were later made clear using the computer program Photoshop and that it was the first time this technique was applied for such work.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Early man 'couldn't stomach milk'

A drink of milk was off the menu for Europeans until only a few thousand years ago, say researchers from London.

Analysis of Neolithic remains, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests no European adults could digest the drink at that time.

University College London scientists say that the rapid spread of a gene which lets us reap the benefits of milk shows evolution in action.

But intolerance to milk remains common in modern times, say nutritionists.

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Prehistoric Sicilian woman gets face

The face of a late Stone Age woman who lived in Sicily (Italy) has been reconstructed by a sculptor working with anthropologists at Palermo University. The skeleton of the woman, who lived 14,000 years ago, was discovered in a cave near Messina in 1937, along with the incomplete skeletons of six other humans, presumably her family.

The face was reproduced using reconstruction techniques that calculate the appearance of features from the form of the cranium. The same techniques have been used recently to recreate the faces of Egyptian pharaohs and Italy's own Count Ugolino, a 13th-century Tuscan noble whose bones were found in 2001. Artistic licence was used when deciding to give the ancient Sicilian the same black hair common in modern women from southern Italy.

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Sceptre from Roman emperor exhibited

The only Roman emperor's sceptre to have been found has gone on public display in Rome for the first time.

The sceptre, which is topped by a blue orb that represents the earth, was discovered at the end of last year and is believed to have been held by Emperor Maxentius, who ruled for six years until 312AD.

Maxentius, who was known for his vices and his incapacity, drowned in the Tiber while fighting forces loyal to his brother-in-law, Constantine, at the battle of the Milvian bridge. Archaeologists believe that Maxentius' supporters hid the sceptre during or after the battle to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.

It was found at the base of the Palatine hill, carefully wrapped in silk and linen and then placed in a wooden box. Alongside it were other boxes holding two other imperial battle standards and ceremonial lance heads. The depth of the burial allowed archaeologists to date the find to Maxentius' rule.

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Neolithic Europeans were lactose intolerant

Early Neolithic Europeans couldn't stomach their milk, according to the first direct examination of lactose intolerance in skeletons dating from 5840 to 5000 BC. The finding backs up the idea that dairy farming drove the rapid evolution of lactose tolerance, against the notion that such farming was only adopted in populations who could already digest milk.

Ninety per cent of adult northern Europeans and some people from Africa and the Middle East now have a gene expressing lactase, the enzyme that hydrolyses the milk sugar lactose into its glucose and galactose monomers. But most humans lose their lactase enzyme after babyhood; lactose passes through their stomachs undigested, leading to stomach aches, bloating, diarrhoea, and excess gas production as bacteria chew the lactose up.

A host of studies examining our modern human genome have identified mutations affecting lactase expression, making it clear that lactose intolerance throughout adulthood was the norm before dairy farming became widespread in Europe. But it wasn't quite clear whether a fortunate entire lactose tolerant population took up dairy farming, or if exposure to milk forced the evolution of lactose tolerance.

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Italy's art police seek third statue

REGGIO CALABRIA, Italy, Feb. 26 Italy's art police are looking a third ancient statue thought to have gone missing when the Riace bronzes were removed from their watery hiding place.

Italian Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli asked the Protection of Artistic Heritage to investigate the claims of art sleuth Giuseppe Bragho, an expert on the Calabria region where the bronzes appeared in 1972, ANSA said.

Bragho said a diver reported at the time that he saw three statues, probably made of bronze ... one of them lying on its side with a shield on its left arm.The two recovered statues are on display at the Reggio Calabria museum.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

EMAS Tour to the Shetland Isles

EMAS, The University of London Extra-Mural Archaeological Society, still has one or two places available on its archaeological study tour of the Shetlands this Easter.

If you are interested, you need to hurry as hotels, etc. have to be finalised soon.

You can find further details of the trip here...

Find of Roman coin shows ancient Britons in a new light

Experts are excited about a rare coin unearthed by an amateur treasure hunter which could change the accepted ancient history of Britain.

The silver denarius which dates back to the Roman Republic — before Julius Caesar made Rome an empire — was unearthed near Fowey in Cornwall.

Dating from 146 BC, it shows how ancient Britons were trading with the Romans well before the country was conquered in AD 43.

"It proves that there was a lot more going on between the continent and ourselves," said Anna Tyacke, Finds Liaison Officer at the Royal Cornwall Museum.

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Skeleton crew digs up the past

THE skeleton of an Anglo-Saxon lord has been recovered as the hunt for buried treasure continues at a city allotment site.

The removal of the seventh Century body follows the discovery of a rare ceremonial brass bowl on the site at Palmerston Road, Woodston, Peterborough.

The priceless Coptic bowl, which was made more than 1,300 years ago in the Mediterranean, has led historical experts to conclude they had discovered the grave of an extremely wealthy Anglo-Saxon – probably a prince or a powerful warlord from the ancient kingdom of Mercia.

Excavation by archaeologists from Peterborough Museum has now confirmed that the 2ft-wide brass bowl was part of a lavish pagan funeral, in which a rich lord was buried with his most valuable possessions.

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Discovery of Jesus' burial site in doubt

JERUSALEM, Feb. 25 Israeli archeologist Amos Kloner, who discovered the reported burial site of Jesus Christ, has warned that such claims have not yet been validated.

The internationally renowned archaeologist said a recent film that shows the Jerusalem site as the resting place of Jesus may have been premature in its claim and warned against similar incidences taking place, YNetNews said.

The claim that the burial site has been found is not based on any proof, and is only an attempt to sell, he said. A burial chamber of Jesus' family would be a discovery that would shake up the world, and that's what the filmmakers want to do, Kloner added. The Jerusalem burial site is also said to possibly have been the final resting place of Jesus' mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, and other family members.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Superbreak offers breaks to London's Tutankhamun exhibition

Superbreak, the UK's online holiday specialists in short breaks, offers budding Egyptologists breaks to London for the launch of the 'Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs' exhibit in November.

'Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs' will be the largest exhibition ever hosted in Britain, and Superbreak offers visitors the chance to book tickets and accommodation early through both its website and a promotion that will reach over 3.2 million homes via a pullout in Saturday's Daily Mail. The exhibition begins on 22nd November 2007 and will (subject to confirmation) be held at The 02 (formerly the millenium dome) in Greenwich over the following 10 months. And with tickets on sale from both Superbreak and over 7000 travel agents across the country, residents in Britain will have no excuse not to visit this fascinating spectacle from Ancient Egypt.

Tutankhamun, the boy Pharaoh from ancient Egypt, was made infamous in 1922 when his tomb was discovered by Howard Carter and his team of expert Egyptologists. The first exhibition of Tutankhamun artefacts left Egypt in the 1970s and provided audiences around the world with a glimpse into the grandeur of ancient Egypt; this new exhibit promises to showcase some of the most spectacular relics from the age of Tutankhamun and other significant Pharaohs, with over 130 priceless items on display.

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'Tomb Held Christ's Body'

Titanic director James Cameron believes he may have discovered Jesus's lost tomb.

He said DNA evidence and statistical analysis of a set of 2,000-year-old stone coffins found in Jerusalem in 1980 suggest they once held the remains of Christ and his family.

Cameron said tests on human residue taken from the ossuaries believed to be those of Jesus and Mary Magdalene indicates they might have been a couple.

And Cameron - the man behind The Terminator - believes they may have had a son, Judah.

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Chimpanzees 'hunt using spears'

Chimpanzees in Senegal have been observed making and using wooden spears to hunt other primates, according to a study in the journal Current Biology.

Researchers documented 22 cases of chimps fashioning tools to jab at smaller primates sheltering in cavities of hollow branches or tree trunks.

The report's authors, Jill Pruetz and Paco Bertolani, said the finding could have implications for human evolution.

Chimps had not been previously observed hunting other animals with tools.

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Historic dig at planned mine site

Archaeologists are to try to unearth some of the historic past of a planned opencast site in Northumberland.

Northumberland County Council has asked UK Coal to conduct a study of the 600-acre (243 hectares) Potland Burn site near Ashington.

UK Coal wants to extract two million tonnes of coal and 500,000 tonnes of fireclay over the next six years.

The survey will be carried out by the universities of Durham and Sheffield over a 10-week period.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007


Manchester Museum has announced plans to exhibit Lindow Man, the naturally preserved body of an Iron Age man, from April 2008 until March 2009.

It will be the third time the freeze-dried bog man - discovered in Wilmslow, Cheshire, in 1984 and currently an exhibit at the British Museum - will have been on display in the city. But this time Manchester Museum is developing proposals that will reflect a wide range of different perspectives on the display of the human remains.

Through a series of public consultations the views of archaeologists, curators and Pagan groups are being sought - all of whom have very different views on Lindow Man.

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Ancient finds go on show

OBJECTS unearthed by metal detector enthusiasts have gone on show in an archaeological museum.

The finds recovered by members of the Dunelme Metal Detecting Club form an exhibition opening at Durham University's Old Fulling Mill Museum today.

Among the items of historical interest located by club members include everyday artefacts dating from the Saxon and medieval periods.

The display is on show alongside the museum's popular Gold of Byzantium exhibition, which has been given an extended run.

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Humans, chimps split 4 million years ago: study

A new study, certain to be controversial, maintains that chimpanzees and humans split from a common ancestor just 4 million years ago -- a much shorter time than current estimates of 5 million to 7 million years ago.

The researchers compared the DNA of chimpanzees, humans and our next-closest ancestor, the gorilla, as well as orangutans.

They used a well-known type of calculation that had not been previously applied to genetics to come up with their own "molecular clock" estimate of when humans became uniquely human.

"Assuming orangutan divergence 18 million years ago, speciation time of human and chimpanzee is consistently around 4 million years ago," they wrote in their study, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Genetics, available online at doi=10.1371/journal.pgen.0030007#toclink4.

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Mysterious bones of Jesus, Joseph and Mary

In a scene worthy of a Dan Brown novel, archaeologists a quarter of a century ago unearthed a burial chamber near Jerusalem.

Inside they found ossuaries, or boxes of bones, marked with the names of Jesus, Joseph and Mary.

Then one of the ossuaries went missing. The human remains inside were destroyed before any DNA testing could be carried out.

While Middle East academics doubt that the relics belong to the Holy Family, the issue is about to be exposed to a blaze of publicity with the publication next week of a book.

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Bulgaria's Perperikon - Metallurgical Centre 13 Centuries BC

Bulgarian archaeologists announce on Thursday they have made an incredible discovery in the Perperikon area, an ancient living region of Thracians.

The archaeologists said last summer they discovered the missing link in Thracian's history. They have found evidence for the transition from the late Bronze epoch to the early Iron epoch.

At the end of the Bronze epoch, as a result of cataclysms a global system is destroyed. Scientists call the system "East Mediterranean Civilization". After its end, there came the so called "dark ages" - a period, who until recent was a mystery for archaeologists.

According to Associate Professor of ancient history Krassimir Leshtakov, during the "dark ages" Thracian tribes have lived peacefully, thus creating a highly developed civilization. Finally, the world can see the "fruits" of this civilization at Perperikon.

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Missing Link of Thracian History Found in Bulgaria's Perperikon

The missing link of the Thracians civilization's history has been found in Bulgaria's ancient sanctuary of Perperikon.

A team of archaeologists is to announce the phenomenal historical finding on Friday.

It concerns the transition from the late Bronze Age to the Iron one.

The researches of Perperikon highlight an almost unknown period from the time when the Thracian culture had developed and the time of the Trojan War.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sudden cold snap linked to Neanderthals' demise

They once inhabited a zone stretching from Asia to western Europe and eked out an existence until some 24,000 years ago. But in the end it was a familiar foe - climate change - that did for our evolutionary cousins the Neanderthals, new research suggests.

The ancient population found their last refuge in the Gibraltar area, where the diverse plant life, animals, sandy plains, woodlands, wetlands and coastline enabled them to maintain their lifestyle. But then came a sharp downturn in temperatures which, scientists say, may have dealt the Neanderthals a killer blow in southern Iberia.

Professor Clive Finlayson from the Gibraltar Museum, who revealed evidence last year of late generations of Homo neanderthalensis, said sediment cores drilled from the seabed near the Balearic Islands showed how they died out.

The cores reveal the average sea-surface temperature there plunged to 8C (46F), compared with modern sea-surface temperatures of between 14C (57F) and 20C (68F). They also showed that higher levels of sand were deposited in the sea and the amount of river water running into the sea also plummeted.

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Greece hails ancient theatre as exceptional find

An ancient Greek theatre accidentally discovered by construction workers in Athens is one of the classical world's most famous lost stages.

Builders stumbled last week across the 2,500-year-old amphitheatre of Acharnes, known from ancient writings to be an important arena for tragedies, comedies and musical contests.

"The discovery of the ancient theatre of Acharnes is an exceptional find," Culture Minister George Voulgarakis told reporters after touring the site on Wednesday.

Archaeologists supervising the digging of foundations for a building in the area of Menidi - known in ancient times as Acharnes - discovered 13 rows of limestone seats which formed part of an open air theatre.

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Search for 1,500-year-old murder clues

The investigation of a 1,500-year-old unsolved murder mystery will continue when an annual Norfolk dig resumes in the summer.

Since 1996, the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project has uncovered a wealth of fascinating and important artefacts, as summer excavations gradually build up a complete history of the village, near Hunstanton.

The most notable finds have included an Iron Age hoard of gold coins, which was unearthed in 2003, and the long-lost end of a gold torc, found the following year.

But the 2006 season brought another exciting discovery - a burnt body under the collapsed remains of a corn-dryer oven.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Freeze 'condemned Neanderthals'

A sharp freeze could have dealt the killer blow that finished off our evolutionary cousins the Neanderthals, according to a new study.

The ancient humans are thought to have died out in most parts of Europe by about 35,000 years ago.

And now new data from their last known refuge in southern Iberia indicates the final population was probably beaten by a cold spell some 24,000 years ago.

The research is reported by experts from the Gibraltar Museum and Spain.

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Ritual piece of Stonehenge discovered

A MISSING stone which could be an integral part of rituals at Stonehenge may have been discovered by a Welsh archaeologist.

Dennis Price, pictured below, who has done years of research on the mysterious stone structure, believes he has tracked down a previously lost altar stone, identified during one of the first studies of the site in the 17th century.

He is convinced it is now in two pieces on either side of a road in a Wiltshire village, just a couple of miles from Stonehenge itself.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Dig unearths ancient theater

Excavation work at a site in a northern Athens suburb, where sections of an ancient Greek theater were discovered on Thursday, should prove whether the structure is the fabled ancient theater of Acharnae, archaeologists said yesterday.

Modern Menidi, where the remains of the 4th century BC theater were found by construction workers, is believed to have been built upon the ancient village of Acharnae, the largest of a string of settlements outside Athens, according to chief excavator Maria Platonos-Yiota.

If the theater is proven to be that of Acharnae – which is referred to in the texts of ancient writers – this would be a “sensational revelation,” Platonos-Yiota said. Greek and foreign archaeologists have been searching for the Acharnae theater for the past two centuries.

Experts believe that the theater is virtually intact and that further excavation at the site will unearth marble statues and possibly religious icons and artifacts.

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The National Geographic and IBM's Genographic Project: Charting the migratory history of the human species

By analyzing DNA from people in all regions of the world, American geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells has concluded that all humans alive today are descended from a San bushman who lived in Africa around 60,000 years ago.

Modern humans, he contends, didn't start their spread across the globe until after that time. Most archaeologists would say the exodus began 100,000 years ago—a 40,000-year discrepancy.

Proponents of the Out of Africa theory believe that over the last 2 million years, there have been many different human species, all but one of which became extinct - Modern Humans.

Wells says that around 20,000 years ago there are no people in America; 40,000 years ago in Europe, the Neanderthals were in in charge. At 50,000 years ago, Australia is part of an uninhabited continent. Before that (apart from the Neanderthals) you only find people living in Africa. He says to head back to 100,000 years ago, there seem to be more people - but still limited to Africa - and finally settle on 60,000 years ago as the low point. Then there were as few as 2,000 humans in existence. The worst time in the history of our species; one we nearly didn't survive.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Archaeological Podcast from Intute

Intute is a free online service providing you with access to the very best Web resources for education and research. The service is created by a network of UK universities and partners. Subject specialists select and evaluate the websites in our database and write high quality descriptions of the resources. The database contains 115610 records.

Intute has started providing podcasts as a new experimental feature.

The first one is an interview with Prof. Mike Parker-Pearson and Dr. Umberto Albarella on Durrington Walls and is available at:

Please note that feedback is needed for the podcasts to continue. For feedback, comments and suggestions readers should use the form at: or email

A blog providing news of the major scientific news is on its way as well, and it will include archaeological news as well.

Bulgaria-Unearthed Temples A Millenium Older than Egypt Pyramids

Temples that archaeologists have unearthed in the eastern Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria are about a thousand years older than the pyramids in Egypt and the Mesopotamian civilization, experts claim.

Archaeologists Ana Raduncheva and Stefanka Ivanova said in an interview for BTA that thew whole system of temples in the Rhodope region dated back to the Vth centyry B.C. This is almost 4,000 years before the Thracian people settled on these lands.

At the end of the Chalcolithic Age, the rock temples were abandoned for a large period of time. The Thracians rediscovered them about 2,500 years later, the archaeologists claim.

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Group's battle against gravel extraction plan

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save the last piece of untouched land along the Nene Valley have declared war on proposals for gravel extraction there.
After a bitter three-year struggle with the residents of Earls Barton, Whiston and Cogenhoe, Hanson Aggregates has submitted plans to extend the western area of its quarry by 225 hectares.

The firm hopes Northamptonshire County Council will give its approval to the plans at the end of March.

Those plans are part of a countywide minerals plan, imposed by the Government, to excavate 15.5 million tonnes of sand and gravel and 6.3 million tonnes of crushed rock by 2016.

The Save The Nene Valley Action Group has mounted strong opposition to an extension of the Earls Barton quarry and compiled a comprehensive report objecting to Hanson’s plans.

Hanson wants to begin a 10-year sand and gravel excavation at the site, south of the A45 between Cogenhoe and the company’s existing processing plant in Earls Barton.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Underwater Archaeology Website

Readers of this blog will no doubt be interested in a new website for underwater archaeology.

You can find the site here at or from the link in the sidebar of this weblog.

Study in Oxford this summer

The Oxford Experience is a very special summer school that is run by the University of Oxford's Department of Continuing Education.

The summer school is held in Christ Church, the largest and one of the most beautiful of the Oxford colleges. Participants live in the college and meals are taken in the mediaeval college hall (this is the hall that featured in the Harry Potter films).

The programme runs from 1 July to 4 August 2007 includes a number of one-week units on archaeology, history and local history.

You can find out more about the Oxford Experience here...

You can find information on other archaeological summer schools and training digs here...

Genes prove Herodotus right about Etruscans

One of the roots of Roman civilisation has been traced by scientists to western Turkey, confirming an account given more than 2,000 years ago.

Genetics has settled a long- running debate on the origins of the Etruscans, a civilisation that emerged three millennia ago in Italy and profoundly influenced the foundation of the Roman empire.

The study of DNA confirms an account in the 5th century BC by the Greek historian Herodotus that the Etruscan civilisation was founded by seafarers from Turkey.

The Etruscan culture prospered after the 9th century BC in central Italy, and triggered debate for thousands of years among historians and archaeologists.

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2,000 year old star is pier rival

THE famous pier at Wigan may soon play second fiddle to the restored remains of a Roman bath house discovered under a new shopping centre in the town.

The 2,000-year-old bathhouse floor, called a hypocaust, has been described as `the most important discovery in the north west this century', and has raised questions about Wigan's place in the Roman world.

Now, after two years of excavation, which has seen the six by six metre floor removed by archaeologists, a team of Oldham-based restoration experts, Maysand, will be rebuilding it in the £120m Grand Arcade shopping centre on Millgate.

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Torture topped the bill in Roman Chester

Tortures were among the gruesome spectacles staged for the 12,000 people who attended performances at the Roman amphitheatre in Chester some 2,000 years ago, according to new evidence.

A gladiatorial torture block has been discovered in the centre of the arena, which was once the largest in Roman Britain.

The huge stone slab, with an iron fitting fastened into the surface, would have been used for chaining victims during spectacles.

The find has astonished archaeologists, who now realise that two similar stones found in 1975 had been completely misinterpreted until now. They were believed to have simply marked a processional path.

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'Brutal End In The Arena'

Gladiatorial games were probably held at Britain's largest Roman amphitheatre, archaeologists have revealed.

Experts have unearthed new evidence in the remains of the Chester Amphitheatre which suggests gladiators appeared there.

Previously it was thought the arena had only been used for military activities.

While excavating the site, archaeologists from English Heritage and Chester City Council discovered a large stone block with an iron fitting fastened into the surface.

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Gladiators 'fought in Cheshire'

Gladiatorial games, the bloodiest of ancient Rome's traditions, were probably held in the heart of genteel Cheshire, archaeologists say.

Experts have unearthed evidence in the remains of Chester Amphitheatre which suggests gladiators appeared there.

It was previously thought the arena was only used for ceremonial activities.

But archaeologists have found a stone block with iron fastening, suggesting that victims - human or animal - were chained up for gladiatorial spectacles.

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Old pictures wanted for Falmouth museum

Due to a huge response, the Maritime Museum is extending its call for entries to the "Your Falmouth" exhibition by another week.

Anyone with any historic pictures of Falmouth, the River Fal and surrounding towns and villages, is being encouraged not to miss the chance to be a part of the new temporary "Your Falmouth" exhibition at the Museum. The deadline to submit pictures, photographs and documents is now Friday March 1 to give more time to contact the Museum and get involved.

So far, interesting entries have included photographs of a 1920's local tug captain and postcards of 1950's bathing beauties at Swanpool Beach.

The exhibition will run for three months from late March. Those with a suitable picture, document or photograph telling the maritime history of the towns, waterside or river, and prepared to lend it, send it to the Museum or contact Jo Warbuton on 01326 313388. A team of local experts are reviewing all submissions and helping the Museum put the exhibition together.

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Gladiators fought to the death in Chester

Gladiatorial contests took place at the largest amphitheatre in Roman Britain, according to new evidence unearthed by archaeologists.

Finds at an excavation of the arena in Chester provide the most conclusive proof yet that it played host to grisly fights to the death for public entertainment, and reinforce the view of the town's importance in the Roman Empire.

A stone block with iron fittings was discovered at the centre of the two-storey amphitheatre, which dates back to about AD100. It is similar to one depicted in a 3rd century mosaic found at a Roman villa at Bignor, West Sussex, which shows two gladiators fighting.

It is the third such stone block found at the site and its location suggests the anchors were evenly spaced along the long axis of the arena preventing gladiators from sheltering against the arena wall and thereby giving spectators the best possible view.

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Greek archaeologists discover theater

Sections of an ancient Greek theater were discovered on Thursday during construction work in an Athens suburb, archaeologists said.

Until now, only two such buildings were known in the ancient city where western theater originated more than 2,500 years ago.

Fifteen rows of concentric stone seats have been located so far in the northwestern suburb of Menidi, according to Vivi Vassilopoulou, Greece's general director of antiquities.

"Another section appears to lie under a nearby road," she told The Associated Press.

"(The remains) were discovered during excavation work, supervised by archaeologists, for a new building," Vassilopoulou said. "But it is still very early to offer any conclusions."

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Webcast for Jerusalem excavations

The Israeli authorities have installed cameras to film excavation work being carried out near the Temple Mount or Haram Sharif in East Jerusalem.

The footage will be broadcast live on the internet, in an attempt to ease widespread anger in the Muslim world.

Friday saw angry protests by Palestinians over the start of work to repair an ancient mound near Jerusalem's holiest site.

Israel says the work is needed to repair a walkway up to the compound.

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Navenby Archaeology Group

The Navenby Archaeology Group has a new website which contains, among other information, details of their survey along Ermine Street (The High Dyke Survey Project).

The site is under construction at the moment, but full details will be appearing soon.

You can find the site at or from the link on the sidebar of this weblog.


Archaeologists have discovered a massive Roman burial ground - on a site where workers were digging trenches for new sewers.

Numerous significant finds have been unearthed giving vital evidence to how our ancestors lived 1,700 years ago.

Among them was a skull with 30 other skeletons in what historians believe could be the biggest Roman cemetery to be found in the county.

Experts from Lincoln-based Lindsey Archaeological Services conducted the dig at The Wong, an open public space in Horncastle.

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Cave art site protection work

Work to protect and preserve an Ice Age cave art site has entered its final stage.

Derbyshire County Council has taken up the old B6042 at Creswell Crags and is transforming it into a bridleway which will give horse riders, cyclists and walkers access to the ancient site.

The work – funded by the East Midlands Development Agency and the county council – has involved using specialist equipment and consulting with archaeologists to make sure the natural beauty of this historically important place is in kept intact.

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Digging for history

AN archaeological dig is under-way at a Portishead church as part of a project to expand the Grade I listed building for its swelling congregation.

Leaders at St Peter's Church have spent two days painstakingly removing a wall which leads to the north door of the church.

The wall had to be excavated as part of proposals to build a new chapter house on the side of the church.

Team rector of Portishead, The Rev Alan Taylor, said: "The door can only be seen from the outside of the church so we had to take down the wall and carry out an archaeological dig to see if there were any important remains there.

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Skeleton find could rewrite church history

THE history of Harrow-on the-Hill could be changed forever after a macabre mystery was unearthed at Harrow's oldest church.

Human remains were found last week by parish members as they removed rotting pews from inside St Mary's Church - but the remains could predate the Norman church.

Pauline Chandler, a church warden, said: "There is a rumour that there was a Saxon church on the site before the existing Norman church was built, but we are not quite sure so this finding has shed some light on that.

"In the Doomsday Book it was mentioned that there was a priest there so you would assume there was a church also."

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On the origin of the Etruscan civilisation

One of anthropology's most enduring mysteries - the origins of the ancient Etruscan civilisation - may finally have been solved, with a study of cattle.

This culturally distinct and technologically advanced civilisation inhabited central Italy from about the 8th century BC, until it was assimilated into Roman culture around the end of the 4th century BC.

The origins of the Etruscans, with their own non-Indo-European language, have been debated by archaeologists, geneticists and linguists for centuries. Writing in the 5th century BC, the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus claimed that the Etruscans had arrived in Italy from Lydia, now called Anatolia in modern-day Turkey.

To try and discover more about the Etruscans' movements, Marco Pellecchia at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Piacenza, Italy, and colleagues have analysed mitochondrial DNA in modern herds of Bos Taurus cattle in the north, south and central regions of Italy. This genetic material is passed down the female line from mother to offspring.

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Ancient coin shows Cleopatra was no beauty

Antony and Cleopatra -- one of history's most romantic couples -- were not the great beauties that Hollywood would have us believe, according to British academics.

A study of a 2,000-year-old silver coin found the Egyptian queen, famously portrayed by a sultry Elizabeth Taylor, had a shallow forehead, pointed chin, thin lips and sharp nose.

On the other side, her Roman lover, played in the 1963 movie by Richard Burton, Taylor's husband at the time, had bulging eyes, a hook nose and a thick neck.

History has depicted Cleopatra as a great beauty, befitting a woman who as Queen of Egypt seduced Julius Caesar, and then his rival Mark Antony.

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Ancient coin undermines legend of Cleopatra's beauty

So maybe Mark Antony loved Cleopatra for her mind.

That is the conclusion being drawn by academics at Britain's University of Newcastle from a Roman denarius coin which depicts the celebrated queen of Egypt as a sharp-nosed, thin-lipped woman with a protruding chin.

In short, a fair match for the hook-nosed, thick-necked Mark Antony on the other side of the coin, which went on public display Wednesday at the university's Shefton Museum.

"The image on the coin is far from being that of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton," said Lindsay Allason-Jones, director of archaeological museums at the university, recalling the 1963 film Cleopatra, which ignited the tempestuous romance between the two stars.

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Archaeologist scours region for treasure

ARCHAEOLOGIST Mark Olly will again try to persuade the public to hand over their `valuables' in a new TV series.

The cape-wearing, pistol-packing presenter will hunt for more lost treasures when he returns to our screens in April.

The Granada programme will once again see Warrington-based Mark touring the region in search of interesting items unearthed by anyone with a curiosity for regional history, mystery or archaeology.

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Google Earth gets overlay search feature

Google has created a searchable index of Google Earth data files, a feature that should make it easier for users to find and adopt third-party overlays for this popular mapping application.

Google Earth's search engine now returns KML (Keyhole Markup Language) files which developers have created to add data to the application's maps, the Mountain View, California, company said Wednesday.

"Users can now search through all of the world's KML files, making the millions of Google Earth layers on the Web instantly accessible for geobrowsing and exploration," wrote Chikai Ohazama, a Google Earth product manager in an official company blog. Google expects to later extend this capability to its mapping Web site Google Maps, Ohazama wrote.

Google Earth is a free, downloadable PC application that taps a multiterabyte database of aerial and satellite images to let users "fly" around the globe using a video-game type user interface. By creating overlays in the KML file format, users can create markers to pinpoint places and provide all sorts of information about an area, making Google Earth a repository of local business listings, homes for sale, photos, architectural drawings, videos, historical facts and geographical data.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Prehistoric skeletons won't be separated

Archaeologists working on the eve of Valentine's Day carefully began digging up the bones of a prehistoric couple on Tuesday, hoping to keep their 5,000-year-old embrace undisturbed forever.

The skeletons unearthed last week were being scooped out of the earth to undergo tests before going on display in the northern Italian city of Mantua, archaeologists said.

The pair, buried between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago in the late Neolithic period, are believed to be a man and a woman who died young, because their teeth were found intact. Archaeologists have hailed the find, saying that double burials from that period are rare and none have been found in such a touching pose.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007


Readers of this blog will no doubt be interested in a new site “Archaeology” from Koppin22 Media, the parent company of Bits of News.

This excellent site features a newsfeed aggregator page called, where people can get an easy overview of the latest news in archaeology. There are also links to various archaeological topics.

You can find the site here...

The Archaeology of Greece: From Palace to City-State

29 June - 12 July, 2007

This successful, intensively taught, two week long, module is addressed primarily to second and third year students with an academic focus on Aegean and Greek archaeology and related studies. It is conducted by the International Center for Hellenic and Mediterranean Studies (DIKEMES) and validated by the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity of the University of Birmingham.

The module is suitable for students of ancient history, archaeology and classical studies. Its specific aim is to offer such students the opportunity to acquire a first-hand knowledge of the relevant, major archaeological sites and the material finds associated with them.

Further information...

You can find information on other archaeological summer schools and training digs here...

Start für Nachbau eines antiken römischen Schiffes

Universitätspräsidentin Prof. Monika Auweter-Kurtz gab Mitte Januar den Startschuss für ein spektakuläres Projekt: Im Zusammenhang mit dem Ausstellungsprojekt „Imperium Konflikt Mythos – 2000 Jahre Varusschlacht“ wurde in der Harburger Werft von Jugend in Arbeit Hamburg e.V. der Nachbau eines historischen Römerschiffs feierlich auf Kiel gelegt.

Geschichtswissenschaftler der Universität Hamburg werden unter der Leitung von Prof. Christoph Schäfer ein römisches Kriegsschiff der frühen und hohen Kaiserzeit in Originalgröße rekonstruieren.Unter der Anleitung erfahrener Bootsbauer wir das Schiff nun von jugendlichen Schiffbauern in spe und Studierenden des Faches Geschichte gefertigt. Vorlage sind die etwa 16 Meter langen römischen Schiffe aus dem ersten und zweiten Jahrhundert nach Christus, die 1994 in der Nähe des römischen Kastells von Oberstimm an der Donau gefunden wurden.

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Eine Rückkehr zu den Wurzeln - Picener Funde an ihrem Fundort präsentiert

Eine Ausstellung geht auf Reisen. An sich nichts Ungewöhnliches, macht die Präsentation der eigenen Bestände doch einen Großteil des Alltags von Museen und Sammlungen aus.

Selten jedoch kehren Exponate - wenn auch nur für kurze Zeit - an jenen Ort zurück, an dem sie einst kunstvoll gefertigt wurden. Dies geschieht Anfang 2007, wenn die Exposition "Piceni & Europe" in der italienischen Provinz Ascoli Piceno Station macht. "Dann schließt sich ein Kreis", freut sich Prof. Peter Ettel, Inhaber des Lehrstuhls für Ur- und Frühgeschichte der Universität Jena. Die wertvollen Exponate stammen nämlich aus der an seinem Institut beheimateten Sammlung. Gefunden wurden sie jedoch einst in Montegiorgio an der mittleren Ostküste Italiens, wo zwischen dem 9. und 4. Jahrhundert vor Christus das Volk der Picener beheimatet war.

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Hofmeyr-Schädel unterstützt "Out of Africa"-Theorie

Die Datierung dieses Schädelfundes in Südafrika liefert den ersten fossilen Hinweis, dass der moderne Mensch zuerst in Afrika entstanden ist.

Vor mehr als 50 Jahren wurde nahe der Stadt Hofmeyr in der südafrikanischen Provinz Ostkap ein menschlicher Schädel gefunden. Einem internationalen Forscherteam um Frederick Grine (Stony Brook University, New York), Richard Bailey (Oxford University) und Katerina Harvati vom Leipziger Max-Planck-Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie ist es nun gelungen, diesen Schädel zu datieren. Das Ergebnis, ein Alter von etwa 36.000 Jahren, bestätigt genetische Untersuchungen, die darauf hindeuten, dass der moderne Mensch vom subsaharischen Teil Afrikas aus vor etwa 40.000 Jahren die "Alte Welt" besiedelte - die "Out of Africa"-Theorie."Der Hofmeyr-Schädel vermittelt erste Einblicke in die Morphologie dieser subsaharischen Population. Aus dieser Population stammen die Vorfahren aller heute lebender Menschen ab." so Teamleiter Grine. Die Ergebnisse wurden in der Science vom 01/2007 veröffentlicht.

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Photo in the News: Rare "Prehistoric" Goblin Shark Caught in Japan

A rare goblin shark—a "living fossil" that closely resembles ancient shark species—was caught alive recently in Tokyo Bay, only to die within days.

Officials from the Tokyo Sea Life Park discovered the 4.3-foot-long (1.3-meter-long) creature on January 25 during an expedition with local fisherman. The shark had been tangled in fishing nets 500 to 650 feet (150 to 200 meters) deep.

But the animal died on the morning of January 27 after being put on display for the public.

Little is known about the mysterious goblin shark, which normally stays near the bottom of the ocean.

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Medieval remains found under barn

Evidence of a former medieval priory has been found under a Somerset tithe barn undergoing restoration.

Remains of substantial walls pre-dating the 16th Century barn at Dunster were unearthed during work to convert the building into a community centre.

Experts said the two walls, paving and glazed tile fragments were almost certainly part of the Benedictine Priory of Dunster dating back to 1127.

The finds have been recorded and grassed over for safe-keeping.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Iron Age boat conservation nearly done

AN Iron Age log boat which is one of the largest artefacts of its kind in the UK was today in the final stages of a 10-year conservation project.

The boat, which dates back to around 300BC, was found during dredging in Poole Harbour, Dorset, in 1964.

Its ancient timber is in the final stages of expert cleaning before a glass case is built around it ready to go on display in Poole Museum when it reopens in June.

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Quick-thinking saves Bronze Age remains

FUNERAL remains dating from the Bronze Age have been saved from destruction by a quick-thinking excavator operator at Tidworth.

Bob Gaunt of groundwork contractors Dean and Dyball works as part of the team constructing new service accommodation for Aspire Defence.

It was during excavation works within Bhurtpore Barracks he revealed the graves.

The area was immediately sealed off to allow specialists from Wessex Archaeology to investigate the find.

Dating back to the time of Stonehenge, the four graves are 3,500 years old, making them the oldest finds in Tidworth.

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Angel dig may have found lost church

ONE of Corbridge’s lost churches may have been unearthed by archaeologists working on what has been called Northumberland’s most important medieval site.

In recent weeks, archaeologists from North Pennines Archaeology Limited, based in Nenthead, have been working against the clock to record every aspect of the site behind the Angel Inn.

Wednesday was the last day of working on the site for the team and the remains are now due to be covered over.

Having already uncovered two skeletons, archaeologists this week found evidence of medieval bronze and iron working on the site, as well as what they say could be one of Corbridge’s lost churches, dating back to before the 13th century.

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Maeshowe winter solstice as viewed by Neolithic man

THE GREAT mound of Maeshowe has dominated the skyline of Orkney for almost 5,000 years. It is a spectacular sight and a visit to the chambered tomb provides one of the highlights for visitors to the Orkney islands. Today, as we stoop to enter and walk down the low 11 metre passage to the chamber with its massive stonework, we are reminded of the ingenuity of those original builders.

Its apparent uniformity masks a long and complex history of change. The story of Maeshowe began at midwinter around 3,000 BC and even today it is the winter solstice that really brings the monument to life.

It was, no doubt, used throughout the year, but the most important time was the midwinter solstice on 21 December. Around this time the setting sun hangs low in the sky and shines directly along the passage to strike across the main chamber into the rear cell. A shaft of light pierces the monument. The angle of the passage is designed to allow a leeway for several days either side of the solstice. So even if midwinter is cloudy, there are likely to be clear days that allow the passage of the sun. The phenomenon attracts people from across the world to this place of ancient worship.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Terracotta Army on the march

An advance guard of the Terracotta Army is leaving China for the first time to be displayed in Britain.

Some of the greatest finds from the Emperor of China’s treasure trove for the afterlife, which includes an estimated 7,000 life-size terracotta warriors, are to be lent to the British Museum for an exhibition this autumn.

Treasures from the site, which covers an area the size of Cambridge, will form the basis for the largest show to be held at the museum since its Tutankhamun exhibition had visitors queuing around the block in Bloomsbury.

The figures, leaving their homeland after more than 2,000 years, include bureaucrats, musicians and acrobats connected to the First Emperor’s civilian administration.

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Fisherman nets rare medieval cooking pot

A FISHERMAN at Drumdowney Point has found more than the catch of the day in his fishing nets – you might even call it the catch of six to eight centuries.
Sean Doherty, who lives on the opposite shore in Waterford, was fishing at the south Kilkenny spot about 40 metres from the shore line a year and a half ago, when he noticed in his net what he thought was a flower pot.

On second glance he saw that the pot was unusual in that the bottom was rounded rather than flat like a typical pot of today.
His keen eye for observation has been honed over many years picking up different pieces, and his interest in archaeology has been boosted from watching documentaries and other such programmes.

But little did he know that his discovery would end up on display in the National Museum in Dublin.

He initially brought the pot to the Waterford Treasures museum, and they in turn passed it on to the National Museum.

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Spanish police arrest 52 in looting raid

Authorities have arrested 52 people in a major crackdown on a suspected ring of antiquities looters from dozens of sites in southern Spain, the Spanish Civil Guard said Wednesday.

The raids took place in several provinces, including Seville, Madrid and Barcelona, where police searched at least 68 homes, said Civil Guard spokesman Jose Manuel Escudero. Some 300,000 pieces have been recovered, including gold coins, vessels, amphoras and other objects, he added.

He said investigators consider the operation to be the largest against archaeological looting worldwide.

Among those arrested were 30 suspected thieves, 13 middlemen and nine collectors, who appeared to have been often motivated by investment rather than artistic and historical interest, Escudero said. The Civil Guard said the collectors were interested in "selected" pieces of archaeology.

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Ancient Lovers Are Unearthed in Italy

It could be humanity's oldest story of doomed love. Archaeologists have unearthed two skeletons from the Neolithic period locked in a tender embrace and buried outside Mantua, just 25 miles south of Verona, the romantic city where Shakespeare set the star-crossed tale of 'Romeo and Juliet.'

Buried between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago, the prehistoric pair are believed to have been a man and a woman and are thought to have died young, as their teeth were found intact, said Elena Menotti, the archaeologist who led the dig.

'As far as we know, it's unique,' Menotti told The Associated Press by telephone from Milan. 'Double burials from the Neolithic are unheard of, and these are even hugging.'

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Castle defences discovered intact

Archaeologists digging below the entrance to Edinburgh Castle have found sections of its 350-year-old defences still intact.

The 2m-thick artillery wall was the castle's gateway for more than 100 years but a gatehouse was built over it in the 1700s and 1800s.

The wall was built after the stronghold was seized twice in 10 years.

Experts carrying out the excavation said the find was proof the castle still has more secrets left to unearth.

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Prehistoric origins of stomach ulcers uncovered

An international team of scientists has discovered that the ubiquitous bacteria that causes most painful stomach ulcers has been present in the human digestive system since modern man migrated from Africa over 60,000 years ago. The research, published online today (7 February) by the journal Nature, not only furthers our understanding of a disease causing bacteria but also offers a new way to study the migration and diversification of early humans.

The international research collaboration was led by scientists from the University of Cambridge, the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, and the Hanover Medical School. The researchers compared DNA sequence patterns of humans and the Helicobacter pylori bacteria now known to cause most stomach ulcers. They found that the genetic differences between human populations that arose as they dispersed from Eastern Africa over thousands of years are mirrored in H. pylori.

Human DNA analysis has shown that along the major land routes out of Africa human populations become genetically isolated - the further from Eastern Africa a population is the more different genetically it is compared to other human populations. Other research has shown gradual differences in European populations, presumed to be the result of Neolithic farmers moving northwards. The international H. pylori research team found almost exactly the same genetic distribution patterns in their results.

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Prehistoric Lovers Found in Embrace

Feb. 7, 2007 — It could be humanity's oldest story of doomed love. Archaeologists have unearthed two skeletons from the Neolithic period locked in a tender embrace and buried outside Mantua, just 25 miles south of Verona, the romantic city where Shakespeare set the star-crossed tale of "Romeo and Juliet."

Buried between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago, the prehistoric pair are believed to have been a man and a woman and are thought to have died young, as their teeth were found intact, said Elena Menotti, the archaeologist who led the dig.

"As far as we know, it's unique," Menotti told The Associated Press by telephone from Milan. "Double burials from the Neolithic are unheard of, and these are even hugging."

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Location: Italy Length: 32 min.

This film retraces the rediscovery of the catacombs, subterranean burial places and hideouts beneath the streets of ancient Rome. It finds in the dark galleries the traces of early explorers and the signatures, graffiti and inscriptions they left. These early underground explorers include legendary figures such as Antonio Bosio and Giovanni Battista de Rossi, the scholar who laid the scientific basis of modern Italian archaeology. This film sheds new light on an underground world where silence dominates but images retell stories voiced many centuries ago.

Watch the video...

Castle's secrets yet to be fully uncovered

The remains of some strange old building features have just been unearthed, quite by chance, inside Bodiam Castle.

One of most beautiful and spectacular castles in the country, Bodiam was built by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge in 1385 and is now owned and managed by The National Trust.

The exciting discovery happened on Friday February 2 when some earth was being cleared away in the Great Hall ruins. The ground was being made ready for a new gravel base when suddenly the mini-digger struck stone. As the earth was carefully cleared away, with an archaeologist on hand to observe the proceedings, more stonework appeared along with some clay tiles and pieces of rubble. It soon became apparent that this was something substantial: a wall of some kind. Further down the Hall something else appeared, a strange circular construction.

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Pub builders uncover leper colony

Evidence of a medieval leper colony has been uncovered by builders who are renovating a pub in Coventry.

Human remains thought to date back some 900 years were found in the area of the men's toilets at the Four Provinces pub in the Spon End area of the city.

Legs, arms and a jaw bone as well as a skull were found and are to be tested for evidence of leprosy.

An archaeologist said he believed they came from a patient at a hospital that stood in the area centuries ago.

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World's Oldest Rocks Show How Earth May Have Dodged Frozen Fate Of Mars

Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that has become a bane of modern society, may have saved Earth from freezing over early in the planet's history, according to the first detailed laboratory analysis of the world's oldest sedimentary rocks.

Doctoral student Nicole Cates and Assistant Professor Stephen Mojzsis survey a landscape of ancient rocks in Hudson Bay, Quebec, in Canada confirmed by the CU-Boulder team to date back roughly 3.75 billion years, making them among the most oldest known rocks on Earth. (Image courtesy CU-Boulder)Ads by Google Advertise on this site

Scientists have theorized for years that high concentrations of greenhouse gases could have helped Earth avoid global freezing in its youth by allowing the atmosphere to retain more heat than it lost. Now a team from the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder that analyzed ancient rocks from the eastern shore of Hudson Bay in northern Quebec, Canada, have discovered the first direct field evidence supporting this theory.

The study shows carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere could have sustained surface temperatures above freezing before 3.75 billion years ago according to the researchers, led by University of Chicago Assistant Professor Nicolas Dauphas. Co-authors on the study, which appeared online Jan. 16 in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, included Assistant Professor Stephen Mojzsis and doctoral student Nicole Cates of CU-Boulder's geological sciences department and Vincent Busigny, now of the Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Bronze Age site to open doors again

FLAG Fen Bronze Age Centre is preparing to open its doors for the first time in 2007 this month.
The site, which is one of the most important of its kind in Europe, will open to visitors tomorrow.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the site being discovered, and there is a packed programme of events and workshops for adults and children, nature lovers, crafts people and budding archaeologists alike.

About 4,000 years ago ancient Britons lived around the Flag Fen basin on the outskirts of modern Peterborough.

During the last 25 years archaeologists have revealed some fascinating evidence about how our ancestors lived, worked and worshipped on the site.

The centre’s general manager Georgia Butters said: “We have a packed programme of events that we hope will be a real success this year.

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'Holy relic' ad angers Russians

The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed indignation at an attempt to sell a skull and bone allegedly belonging to Saint Philipp.

The advert for the remains appeared on a Russian website.

It described the relic as "remains of an Orthodox saint, in good condition, with an inscription on the cranium confirming the saint's name".

The Church has not said whether it thinks the bone and skull are real, but has described the ad as "immoral".

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Time is running out for our medieval shipwrecks

THE slaughterhouse could become one of the finest maritime museums in Europe.

The island’s two major marine archaeology research projects are entering their second phase and campaigners hope the abattoir at the Castle Emplacement will be key to their future.

Maritime Guernsey held a presentation at Castle Cornet with the aim of showing its invited guests what Guernsey had to offer in terms of marine archaeology.

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First Pompeii uncovered

Rome, February 1 - The origins of the famed buried city of Pompeii have emerged from years of excavations, an international conference in Rome was told Thursday.

The first Pompeii was not built by the Romans or even by the Greeks who preceded them, but by an ancient people called the Samnites, Pompeii heritage Superintendent Piero Guzzo told a packed audience of archaeologists and scholars.

Wielding photos of inscriptions, votive offerings and even entire buildings, Guzzo said "a new season of studies has begun". "For the first time we have come to understand how Pompeii was born and not just how it died," Guzzo told a three-day conference here on ten years of work by archaeologists from all over the world.

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Discovered: Britain's very own Colosseum

Archaeologists have discovered that what had been thought to be a relatively small, down-market amphitheatre in Britain was in fact a top-of-the-range, though admittedly more intimate, version of Rome's famous gladiatorial arena.

Indeed, this British Colosseum - in Chester - may well have been built as a replica of the one in Rome, possibly on the orders of the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, who was in Britain at the time.

Although it was much smaller than the Colosseum, its outer wall appears to have had a blind arcade of 80 arches, giving it a superficially similar appearance to the one in Rome. If the archaeologists' calculations are correct, Rome and Chester were the only places in the Roman world to have amphitheatres with that number of arches.

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Give us back our bones, pagans tell museums

British museums have become used to requests that foreign treasures be repatriated. Greece has persistently requested the return of the Parthenon marbles, while some administrators have agreed to return the remains of Australian Aborigines. Now the pressure is coming from closer to home.

British pagan groups are increasingly asking for human remains and grave goods from pre-Christian burials to be returned to them as well. The presence of what they see as their ancestors in dusty drawers or under harsh display lights is an affront to their religion. To them, the bones are living beings, whose existence is bound up with their religious descendants and the sacred land.

"This is quite a big issue for museums around the country, but one that was not being discussed," said Piotr Bienkowski, the deputy director of Manchester Museum. "Discussion had been deliberately clamped down in some circles."

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Switzerland to Meet Bulgaria's Oldest Civilizations

The museum in Basel, Switzerland, is bracing to meet some of Bulgaria's outstanding treasures from Thracian and pre-Thracian times.

The exhibition will present also the recently found golden mask of an unknown Thracian ruler, rivaling only few in the world similar artifacts of those period.
Swiss lovers of histories will see also a unique presentation of an ancient salt producing center, unveiled recently in Provadia. In that epoch, around 7400 B.C. salt was even more precious than gold.

The golden set of Vulchitryn treasure, currently exhibited in Sofia-based Archeological Museum, consists of 13 vessels, different in form and size. One of the vessels weighs 4.5 kg - a bowl with two handles, and the overall weight of the set is 12.5 kg, pure gold.

One of the vessels is exceptionally interesting and mysterious and consists of the smaller vessels of leaf-like form and connected with a small tube and having a single handle.

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Cranach im Exil

Aschaffenburg 24. Februar - 3. Juni 2007

Vom 24. Februar bis zum 3. Juni 2007 zeigt Aschaffenburg die große Ausstellung "Cranach im Exil". Zahlreiche Werke von Lucas Cranach d.Ä., einem der bedeutendsten Renaissancekünstler, und seiner Werkstatt werden an drei prominenten Orten zu sehen sein. Kardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg brachte diese Kunstwerke nach Aschaffenburg, nachdem er wegen der Reformation seine Residenz in Halle verlassen musste.

Im Zentrum der Ausstellung steht der restaurierte Magdalenen-Altar, den Cranach für die Stiftskirche in Halle schuf, und der jetzt erstmals wieder in seiner gesamten Pracht zu sehen sein wird.

Die Ausstellung wird von der Stadt Aschaffenburg und der Katholischen Kirchenstiftung St. Peter und Alexander in Zusammenarbeit mit den Bayerischen Staatsgemäldesammlungen, dem Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte und der Bayerischen Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen erarbeitet.

Got to the Website...

New piece of Castle's history falls into place

FOR years it has lain forgotten, buried beneath the entrance to Edinburgh Castle.

Built after the Castle was seized twice in ten years, first by the Covenanters and then by Oliver Cromwell's forces, the two-metre thick defence wall became the impenetrable gateway to the stronghold for more than a century.
Click to learn more...

But after being built over in the 1700s and 1800s as the present Castle Esplanade started to take shape, it was thought to have been lost forever.

But archaeologists tunnelling beneath the Esplanade have been surprised and delighted to discover sections of the 350-year-old defences still intact. They have hailed the find as proof there could be more secrets left to unearth beneath the ancient landmark.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Experts reveal abbey's long-lost secrets

Archaeological investigations shed light on centuries-old mysteries among the ruins of medieval monastic house

WHEN Sir Vincent Skinner's stately home collapsed in 1602 without an apparent cause it was put down to the wrath of God.

But archaeologists working on the site of a ruined abbey in north Lincolnshire have found it may have owed more to poor construction and boggy ground.

The experts have been at Thornton Abbey, near Scunthorpe, for the past fortnight as part of the £4.5m South Humber Bank Heritage Tourism Initiative to tap the site's potential as a major visitor attraction.

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Majestic structure discovered in Ephesus

A structure discovered in the historic site of Ephesus in Western Turkey is believed to have once been a palace inhabited by the governors of the ancient city, researchers said.

The recent excavation and restoration works in Ephesus, where signs of inhabitants go back to 6000 B.C., uncovered a structure near the ancient theater as archaeological works there entered their 111th year, the Anatolia news agency reported this week.

The ancient city was home to numerous restored magnificent huge structures, such as those in the region called �Yamaç Evler II� (Hillside Houses II), thought to have been inhabited by wealthy families, archaeologist Cengiz İçten said. İçten explained that the discovery of such houses had led them to question, �If the rich families lived in such magnificent houses, where were the governors who used to rule the ancient city on behalf of the emperor living?�

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Why Ancient Greeks are Always Nude

Male nudes are the norm in Greek art, even though historians have stated that ancient Greeks kept their clothes on for the most part. New research suggests that art might have been imitating life more closely than previously thought.

Nudity was a costume used by artists to depict various roles of men, ranging from heroicism and status to defeat.

"In ancient Greek art, there are many different kinds of nudity that can mean many different things," said Jeffrey Hurwit, an historian of ancient art at the University of Oregon. "Sometimes they are contradictory."

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Rome Subway Planners Try to Avoid Relics

In a city where traffic rumbles past the Colosseum and soccer fans celebrate victories among the remains of the Circus Maximus, it comes as no surprise that relics of the glory that was Rome turn up almost every day, and sometimes get in the way of the modern city's needs.

The perennial tug-of-war between preserving ancient treasures and developing much-needed infrastructure is moving underground, as the city mobilizes archaeologists to probe the bowels of the Eternal City in preparation for a new, 15-mile subway line.

Eyesore yellow panels have sprung up over the past months to cordon off 38 archaeological digs, often set up near famous monuments or on key thoroughfares of the already chronically gridlocked historical center.

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Archeology: Bulgaria Presents History Books of 2006

Bulgaria's National Archaeological Museum (NAM) presented Thursday the published in 2006 books of its contributors.

NAM's director, professor Vassil Nikolov is one of the authors. The scientific researches of archaeologists Georgi Kitov, Nikolay Ovcharov and Diana Gergova were among the presented books.

The books exhibited show the different faces of the culture in the Bulgarian lands from prehistory to the Middle Ages, interesting archaeological facts and evidence in the area of numismatics, literature, architecture, art and epigraphy.

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As a team of researchers settle down to study the results of a dig in Norfolk, one of the county’s top geologists has praised the public for their key part in notifying professionals about finds.

The week-long dig in a meadow near Saham Toney was undertaken at the end of January 2007 after a workman operating a digger in October 2006 discovered three woolly mammoth teeth and a couple of bones at the bottom of a gravel pit.

Knowing that Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service (NMAS) offer a free identification service for such finds, the driver contacted Nigel Larkin NMAS Curator of Geology with his finds to see if they were of interest.

“They were basically digging a lake to put fish in it and the digger driver noticed a couple of bones and a couple of teeth,” explained Nigel Larkin, “It’s was interesting because they belong to quite a young individual.”

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How busy badgers are undermining care of ancient heritage sites

The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 has led to such a big increase in the badger population that their incessant burrowing is damaging archaeological sites across the country.

Badgers are particularly drawn to Neolithic mounds, Iron Age settlements and Anglo-Saxon burial sites because the earthworks are much softer on the claws than is hard bedrock. They provide the perfect conditions for the building of the animals’ setts.

But, to the dismay of archaeologists, the badgers are burrowing through ancient sites and churning up the remains. Vital evidence is being lost in the destruction and displacement of archaelogical layers and artefacts, from fragile pottery to human bones found in prehistoric and Anglo-Saxon graves.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Stonehenge's builders found?

(with video)

Remains of a huge settlement have been found that could have housed the hundreds of construction workers needed to build nearby Stonehenge.
Experts have never found evidence of human habitation near Stonehenge before

Archaeologists also unearthed the largest piles of animals bones ever found at a Neolithic village in the UK, suggesting it was also the place to go for a party.

Excavations have unearthed hundreds of well-preserved houses with imprints of beds and wooden dressers still present on the clay floors.

The finds were made at Durrington Walls, a site not far from the legendary Salisbury Plain monument, where a massive timber circle more than a thousand feet across once stood.

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Wooden counterpart of Stonehenge found

New excavations near Stonehenge have uncovered hearths, timbers and other remains of what archaeologists say was probably the village of workers who erected the monoliths on Salisbury Plain in England, and a wooden counterpart of it.

The archaeologists announced Tuesday that the 4,600-year-old ruins appear to form the largest Neolithic village ever found in Britain.

The houses at the site known as Durrington Walls were constructed in the same period as Stonehenge, less than three kilometers, or two miles, away. The village was probably built as a religious center, presumably for people who worshiped the sun.

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hackled skeleton found in Ávila

A skeleton tied up with shackles and chains and thought to date from the Middle Ages has been found in an archaeological dig in Ávila, behind the city’s Church of San Pedro.

It’s the second such find in the city, although coming in a different place, and it has led experts to think that death occurred during some form of punishment.

Tomorrow, Thursday the latest find will be taken to the Provincial Museum where the skeleton will be studied and protected.

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Emperor's treasures found

ROME The lost treasure of Maxentius, the last preChristian Roman emperor, has been unearthed by archaeologists. Imperial standards, lances and glass spheres, right, were buried on the Palatine Hill by Maxentius before his battle with Constantine the Great in AD312.

Archaeologists believe that he planned to retrieve the treasure if he won. In the event, he and his closest aides were killed, so that no one knew where it was hidden.

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Ancient ditch found as Swansea store comes down

Demolition at the David Evans site in Swansea city centre will start next week.

An archaeological study aiming to discover and preserve items of historical value has been suspended and demolition will begin on Monday (February 5).

Archaeologists found a ditch on the site that once formed part of Swansea Castle.

Historic medallions at the site are to be saved as part of the demolition process.

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Late Roman graves excavated in W Hungary

Budapest, January 31 (MTI) - Archaeologists in Szombathely, W Hungary excavated a number of graves from the late Roman era while exploring the ground where an extension to the local concert hall will be built, a spokesperson of the local Savaria Museum's archaeology team said on Wednesday.

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Greek pupils demand Elgin Marbles

Greek schoolchildren have demonstrated at the Acropolis in Athens to demand that the UK returns marble sculptures taken by Lord Elgin 200 years ago.

Wearing orange jackets bearing campaign logos, about 2,000 pupils formed a human chain around the monument.

The marbles are part of the Parthenon, a 2,500-year-old temple.

Greece has long campaigned for the marbles' return. But the British Museum says they are better off in London, safe from pollution damage in Athens.

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Cavern may hold answers to hobbits riddle

THE chance discovery of an enormous chamber beneath the Indonesian cave where hobbit-like creatures were discovered promises to settle the debate about who - or what - the tiny creatures were.

Scientists are confident the mystery will be solved if they can extract DNA from hobbit remains they expect to find among the rubble of 32,000- to 80,000-year-old bones and stone tools littering the cavern floor.

"Well, well, well, well, well; this will settle the matter," said Colin Groves, a physical anthropologist at the Australian National University in Canberra.

He said obtaining a CSI-style DNA-profile of the 1m-tall creatures - named Homo floresiensis - would prove conclusively if they were members of a new human species, as their discoverers claimed, or deformed modern people, as alleged by sceptics.

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