Friday, February 29, 2008


Archaeologists from Durham University will be returning to a London borough site where a 19th century historian once found flint tools and animal bones.

This time, however, the latest sonic drilling equipment will be used to take samples from the earth, for the ongoing Ancient Human Occupation of Britain II project (AHOB).

Initial drillings were carried out at Holmscroft Open Space in September 2007 by the archaeologists, who are looking at human occupation of the country right from the first people who lived here about 700,000 years ago, up to the end of the last Ice Age, roughly 8,800 years ago.

AHOBII, Ancient Britain in its European Context, entails the re-analysis of old artefacts held in museum collections as well as fieldwork to refine dates and provide more accurate reconstructions of past environments.

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Shroud of Turin Gets High-Def Scrutiny

The Turin shroud, the 14- by 4-foot linen long believed to have been wrapped around Jesus' body after the crucifixion, has entered the digital age.

A huge 12.8 billion-pixel image was made of the linen, on which the smudged outline of the body of a man is indelibly impressed. The image was made following a Vatican request to obtain the most detailed reproduction of the yellowing ancient cloth. The technology allows a level of scrutiny of the linen as never achieved before.

"The Shroud has been photographed in high definition for the first time. We have stitched together 1,600 shots, each the size of a credit card, to create a huge photo which is almost 1,300 times stronger than a picture taken with a 10 million pixel digital camera," Mauro Gavinelli, technical supervisor at HAL9000, a company specializing in art photography, told Discovery News.

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'100 000 Years of Sex' opens in Germany

Trier, Germany - Erotic carvings and excavated Roman artefacts connected to sex will go on display on Saturday in Germany's best-preserved ancient Roman city, Trier.

The temporary exhibition, 100 000 Years of Sex, comprises 250 items, mainly archaeological.

They date back to the Stone Age and show how our ancestors experienced lust and procreation, said Mechthild Neyses-Eiden, deputy director of the museum.

Devised in the Netherlands and first mounted in 2003 in another museum, the exhibition is being supplemented at the Rhenish Museum in Trier with about 50 local Roman-period artefacts recovered by archaeologists.

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Exhibition explores history of Lakes landscape

TWELVE thousand years of Lake District human history is about to be revealed in a new exhibition showing how the landscape developed.

“Unlocking the past, understanding the present” will be thrown open to the public on March 14 at the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole, on the shores of Windermere.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the exhibition – designed to introduce archaeology in a fun, hands-on way – will run until the beginning of November.

A comprehensive county-wide tour follows, which has already been booked up until 2010.

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PHOTO IN THE NEWS: Viking Women Wore "Sexy" Outfits

Call it the Viking version of a low-cut top.

A modern reconstruction of a Norse outfit (worn above by textile researcher Annika Larsson of Uppsala University in Sweden) is a single piece of fabric held in place by clasps that sit on the middle of each breast.

Such a provocative outfit was probably common among Viking women before Christianity took hold in Scandinavia, Larsson said in a statement. She recently analyzed ancient textiles from the Lake Mälaren Valley, which was inhabited during the "Viking Age," from about A.D. 750 to 1050.

A mélange of Nordic and Oriental flair, the clothing "was designed to be shown off indoors around the fire," she said.

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VIDEO: Inquisition Docs Made Public

The Vatican has opened to the public Inquisition documents from the Roman Catholic Church's efforts—beginning in medieval times—to root out heresy.

Watch the video...

Historic heritage vs tourism profits debated at panel

The decision by the Four Seasons Hotel to enlarge its existing building over an archaeological site in the historic Sultanahmet neighborhood of Istanbul has sparked debate over whether the desire to preserve the city's heritage is being sacrificed to possible profit from tourism.

The hotel, a transformed prison from Ottoman times which itself was built on Byzantine and Roman ruins, currently has a 130-room capacity that it plans to increase by 50 with the additional building. The extension has drawn severe criticism despite the fact that the hotel has been granted the legal right to do so.

Atilla Öztürk, CEO of the holding company responsible of the additional building, said at a panel organized by the History Foundation of Turkey yesterday that everything they did was legal. He said the Four Seasons Hotel was granted the right by the cabinet to build a 303-bed capacity building on the site 17 years ago.

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Free Archaeological Publications!

Wessex Archaeology is pleased to offer many of its archaeological publications free (bar P&P) to the general public.

We have reports on our excavations undertaken over the last 20 years in Dorset, Berkshire, Hampshire and Wiltshire, which we would like to offer free to any member of the general public, interested amateur or historic environment professional.

See the reports and research agendas that are available free.

The reports are offered free subject to postage and packaging at £2.50 per volume up to a maximum of £10 – so you can have the complete set of 18 volumes for just £10! If you wish to collect direct from our offices, there will be no cost at all to you.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Medieval wall painting discovered

Fragments of an ancient wall painting dating back to medieval times have been discovered during restoration work at 13th century Stuston church.

Last year villagers rallied to the cause when it emerged that £185,000 was needed for urgent repairs to make the nave, porch and vestry roofs watertight.

English Heritage and other funding bodies promised £165,000 towards the project - on condition that the small community of 140 souls met a December 2007 deadline to prove their commitment to making up the shortfall.

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Grave yard unearthed at former Chester police HQ

A MEDIEVAL grave yard with more than a hundred skeletons has been unearthed on the multimillion pound Police HQ site.

The “fascinating” and “important” discoveries have “transformed” experts’ views of ancient Chester.

City archaeologist Mike Morris said: “This was the largest excavation to have taken place in Chester in more than 30 years. It will transform our view of the Roman town and the Medieval nunnery.”

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Fashion counted for some Vikings, researcher says

Vikings were much snappier dressers than thought, according to new evidence unearthed by a Swedish researcher.

The men were especially vain while the women dressed provocatively, adorning themselves in vivid colors, silk ribbons and glittering bits of mirrors, said Annika Larsson, a textile researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden.

"They combined oriental features with Nordic styles," she said in a statement. "Their clothing was designed to be shown off indoors around the fire."

The findings are based on the Swedish Vikings who traveled east into what is now Russia rather than the Danish or Norwegian Vikings who went west.

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Cannibalism May Have Wiped Out Neanderthals

A Neanderthal-eat-Neanderthal world may have spread a mad cow-like disease that weakened and reduced populations of the large Eurasian human, thereby contributing to its extinction, according to a new theory based on cannibalism that took place in more recent history.

Aside from illustrating that consumption of one's own species isn't exactly a healthy way to eat, the new theoretical model could resolve the longstanding mystery as to what caused Neanderthals, which emerged around 250,000 years ago, to disappear off the face of the Earth about 30,000 years ago.

"The story of Neanderthal extinction is one of the most intriguing in all of human evolution," author Simon Underdown told Discovery News. "Why did a large-brained, intelligent hominid that shared so many traits with us disappear?"

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Archaeological treasures found in Roscrea

A 'beautiful' Bronze Age axe and a number of ancient burial grounds have been unearthed near Roscrea during the construction of the new Dublin-Limerick motorway in the area.

A 'beautiful' Bronze Age axe and a number of ancient burial grounds have been unearthed near Roscrea during the construction of the new Dublin-Limerick motorway in the area.

The bronze axe was found in Camblin, south of Roscrea. Archaeologists say the find dates to the later Bronze Age and appears to have been hidden in a shallow pit and never recovered by the person who concealed it.

On a second site in Camblin a medieval iron 'bearded' axe was discovered while two Bronze Age enclosed settlements with two ancient houses were found near the N62 Templemore Road.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Vikings did not dress the way we thought

Vivid colors, flowing silk ribbons, and glittering bits of mirrors - the Vikings dressed with considerably more panache than we previously thought. The men were especially vain, and the women dressed provocatively, but with the advent of Christianity, fashions changed, according to Swedish archeologist Annika Larsson.

"They combined oriental features with Nordic styles. Their clothing was designed to be shown off indoors around the fire," says textile researcher Annika Larsson, whose research at Uppsala University presents a new picture of the Viking Age.

She has studied textile finds from the Lake Malaren Valley, the area that includes Stockholm and Uppsala and was one of the central regions in Scandinavia during the Viking Age. The findings, some of which were presented in her dissertation last year, show that what we call the Viking Age, the years from 750-1050 A.D., was not a uniform period.

Through changes in the style of clothing we can see that medieval Christian fashions hit Sweden as early as the late 900s and that new trade routes came into use then as well. The oriental features in clothing disappeared when Christianity came and they started to trade with the Christian Byzantine and Western Europe.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Ancient toy or whistle found at Pyrgos

A SMALL masterpiece of coroplastic Early Bronze Age Cyprus (3500- 2000 BC), believed to be a water whistle or a toy, was found during the excavations at Pyrgos/Mavrorachi, in Limassol and restored by an Italian archaeological mission led by Maria Rosaria Belgiorno.

"This is an askos, representing a load of two panniers, with its mane knotted in five bobs and a statuette of a naked child riding in the middle of the shoulder," Belgiorno said.

Donkeys loaded with baskets of fruit and vegetables are one of the most common images of the Mediterranean, she explained.

"This is a familiar subject especially on the islands, from the first appearance and domestication of small horses and donkeys. Both have played a very important role in the evolution of agriculture and culture in prehistory," she said, noting that what is more rare is the child riding on the back of the donkey.

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The Magerius Mosaic

How a Roman amphitheatre really worked

"Roll up! Roll up! Roll Up! There will be a magnificent spectacle at the amphitheatre today, and you mustn't miss it! Magerius is giving it. Of course, you all know Magerius who has just finished his term of office as mayor. He's a pompous old ass but he thinks the world of himself and he's going to lay on a big spectacle and he is paying through the nose for it, and he wants everyone to know how generous he has been."

"He is bringing in the Telegenii. You've heard of the Telegenii - they are the best theatrical producers in North Africa. They have all the best beasts and all the best hunters too. Today they have for your delight four leopards, all home grown and well trained. They are called Crispinus, Luxurius, Victor - who of course is going to be conquered - and then, Ho! Hum! there's Romanus, 'The Roman' who is going to bite the dust at the hands of a hunter. And then he's got four of his best hunters, Hilarinus, Bullarius, Spittara, who always hunts on stilts, and finally the champion, Mamertinus. It's going to be a great spectacle, so hurry along to the amphitheatre. Who's going to win - the beasts or the hunters?

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Antarctic may hold the future of archaeology

It is a truism that archaeology begins yesterday, and now with only the archaeology of the future to plan for, the discipline has been expanding into areas of the globe where material culture has hitherto played little part.

Antarctica is one of these new areas: more than two centuries of human occupation have left plentiful traces. At least five successive and partly overlapping phases of activity can be defined: sealing, whaling, polar exploration, scientific investigation and tourism.

Sealing began in the late 18th century, when Captain James Cook’s account of his voyages in the Southern Ocean, published in 1777, included his discovery of South Georgia with its enormous population of fur seals. Sealers from England and the eastern United States swarmed to raid the seal rookeries.

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Neolithic artefacts discovered in church

PLANNED repairs to the central heating of a church have uncovered remains suggesting it may have been used as a place of worship in prehistoric times.

Archaeologists now believe the medieval church of St Michaels and All Angels, in Houghton-le-Spring, Wearside, is on the site of earlier places of worship, possibly dating from the Neolithic period.

Old burial grounds have been unearthed during work by the Archaeology Practice, but it has also revealed foundations of previous churches on the site.

Stones uncovered beneath the church floor are thought to have been part of a Roman building, while there is also evidence of prehistoric activity in the area.

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Go to the "New Discoveries page of the St Michaels website...

Fresh tests on Shroud of Turin

The Oxford laboratory that declared the Turin Shroud to be a medieval fake 20 years ago is investigating claims that its findings were wrong.

The head of the world-renowned laboratory has admitted that carbon dating tests it carried out on Christendom's most famous relic may be inaccurate.

Professor Christopher Ramsey, the director of the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, said he was treating seriously a new theory suggesting that contamination had skewed the results.

Though he stressed that he would be surprised if the supposedly definitive 1988 tests were shown to be far out - especially "a thousand years wrong" - he insisted that he was keeping an open mind.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008


Heritage campaigners are up in arms over plans to demolish an "atmospheric" pumping house designed by the great 19th-century engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Residents in Totnes have joined forces with the Save Britain's Heritage group to fight for the building to be listed and protected.

Campaigners believe the pumping house, which is on a site owned by Surrey-based milk company Dairy Crest, is one of only three left in the Westcountry. The others are at Starcross and Torquay.

Alan Langmaid, Totnes Museum administrator, said: "Many people are working behind the scenes to see the building listed and saved. It's causing a bit of stir in the town. Totnes is a historical town, which is not just a medieval town centre - history didn't stop here with the Normans. "This is a significant building which is 160 years old, and Brunel was an engineer of national importance."

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Chessmen keepers reveal fear of 'Gallic hotheads'

STORNOWAY and Paris are normally difficult to confuse, but a spelling gaffe in a British Museum memo managed to mix the Gaels and the Gauls.

A document which suggested "Gallic hotheads" might seize the Lewis chessmen has come to light, much to the bemusement of islanders who have in turn accused museum officials of "ignorance".

The museum has claimed the reference is nothing more than a "spelling error".

But the gaffe has been seized on by locals who believe that metropolitan prejudice shows why the chessmen should be "repatriated".

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Oxford dates Iran's Kelar Mound

Oxford scientists have determined the exact date of Iran's northern site of Kelar Mound by studying ancient coal and bone samples.

Although many archeologists believed that the area was not older than the Iron Age, Carbon 14 studies have dated the mound to more than 6,000 years ago.

Former Archeological excavations had yielded numerous caves, havens and ancient sites, which showed the historical evolution of human life in the area.

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Feel Short? Blame Your Ancestors

The average height of people within today's ethnic groups may reveal where their distant ancestors lived and could provide lifestyle clues about these long-lost relatives, suggests new research that links past population density and location to the evolution of human body size.

The findings acknowledge that height can widely differ among even individual family members. Nevertheless, each society illustrates a distinctive body size, with some groups being shorter or taller on average than others.

"Of course there is considerable variation within societies that relates to many different nutritional, genetic and perhaps even selection pressures," co-author Robert Walker explained to Discovery News.

"But despite this variation [within societies], the mean body size varies widely -- by a factor of two -- across societies," he added. "So your average Agta (an indigenous Philippine group) is much smaller than your average Inuit (an indigenous Arctic dwelling group)."

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Fossils of Paleoanthropological Cranium Found in Henan Province’s Xuchang City

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage and Henan Bureau of Cultural Heritage announced to the public recently that, fossils of paleoanthropological cranium about eighty to one hundred thousand years ago were found in Henan Province’s Xuchang City. The paleoanthropology found this time is named “Xuchang Man” according to related convention.

The experts all regarded that, cranium of “Xuchang Man” is of significant value for research on evolution of ancient human in East Asia and origin of modern human in China.

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Scientists read Antarctic mud for climate change insight

A four-inch core sample is a chapter of ancient history in which a Neanderthal amoeba or a worm can thicken the plot for researchers.

McMurdo Station, Antarctica - With summers both intense and ephemeral, life here is a race against the revolving seasons. Summer daylight never ceases at this US research base on Ross Island, just off the coast of Antarctica. The sun runs endless laps around the sky, and for those who live here, work never stops.

This blending of day and night centers on the 24-hour stratigraphy lab. Inside the nondescript metal building perched on stilts, geologists from around the world indulge, of all things, their collective love of petrified mud. Two shifts of scientists work around the clock examining a 4-inch-wide column of stone – a new section of which is delivered daily from a drill that, by the end of the season, will have penetrated three-quarters of a mile into the ocean bed.

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Church of England plans to sell off its palaces

Resplendent with moats, gatehouses and banqueting halls, bishops' palaces are among some of the grandest buildings in the country.

Now, however, the historic homes, which have belonged to the Church of England for centuries, could be sold off in a bid to raise money for cash-strapped parishes.

A confidential internal review is examining whether the diocesan bishops' houses, nine of which are palaces, are appropriate for the Church to keep. The bishops' residences are worth about £120 million, but cost up to £9 million each year to maintain.

They are at the centre of a row between Church commissioners over whether it is justifiable to retain such opulent residences, which give the perception of bishops living in luxury while parish clergy struggle to make ends meet.

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Multikulti im alten Schottland

Im Westen Schottlands sind Forscher auf zwei Gräber gestoßen, die viertausend Jahre alt sind - und beweisen, dass schon damals Niederländer in Schottland lebten.

Im älteren der beiden Gräber befanden sich nach Martin Cook von der AOC Archaeology Group drei Keramikbecher aus der Zeit zwischen 2500 und 2280 v. Chr. Sie waren dicht mit charakteristischen Schnurabdrücken verziert - so, wie es damals im Gebiet des unteren Rheins, den heutigen Niederlanden, Brauch war.

Was die Forscher zudem überraschte: Die Becher kamen nicht über den Handelsweg nach Schottland, sondern wurden an Ort und Stelle aus Ton gebrannt. Offenbar stammte der Handwerker aus den Niederlanden, lebte dann aber in der Nähe von Upper Largie.

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'T-Ray' Technology Strips People and Frescoes

Terahertz scanners have already been used at NASA, the European Space Agency, and at airports to look beneath people's clothes for concealed weapons. Now researchers are turning "T-rays" on church walls -- and hoping to revolutionize art history in the process.

No doubt Q is tinkering away at it right now. By the next film, at the latest, he will hand James Bond a palm-sized device. Agent 007 will handle it very gently for a bit and raise an inquisitive eyebrow. "That's a terahertz scanner," Q will say. "It'll find everything, even anthrax spores in suspicious envelopes. Or it can make weapons hidden beneath clothes visible." Then 007 will raise the other eyebrow and point the scanner at Q's attractive laboratory assistant, who will then appear on the device's display -- naked. "Hey!" Q will complain, bristling scornfully.

In reality, terahertz rays are not so easy to handle, though they are increasingly popular among customs officials and homeland security agents. Although they lie somewhere between infrared radiation and microwaves along the electromagnetic spectrum, these rays have yet to be put to any commercial use. Existing detection devices can barely pick them up, and the development of terahertz emitters is still too expensive for wider application.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Roman site unearthed in Doune

DOUNE Primary School pupils have been discovering the hidden treasures of ancient Rome — right in the middle of their playground.

A new classroom is currently being built at Doune and because the site is home to a former Roman fort, professional archaeologists have been called in — just in case there are any historical artefacts uncovered.

Head teacher Jane McManus told the Stirling Observer: “The children have truly enjoyed this experience and have been asking the archaeologists lots of interesting questions.”

The three archaeologists from Headland Archeology have found simple pottery items and clay slingshots to the actual placement of the foundations of the Roman Fort.

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Treasure is first fruit of pact to lend exhibitions

SHETLAND Amenity Trust and National Museums Scotland (NMS) have entered into a strategic partnership.

The two bodies have agreed to develop joint projects that improve standards of care, display, exhibition, information and access to collections at local level.

This agreement marks the development of a closer relationship between the parties, including working together on loans, publications, replicas, training and skills exchange.

One of the first joint ventures will be the short term loan of the St Ninian's Isle Treasure from July to September this year, as part of the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of its discovery.

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Most Detailed Global Study Of Genetic Variation Completed

University of Michigan scientists and their colleagues at the National Institute on Aging have produced the largest and most detailed worldwide study of human genetic variation, a treasure trove offering new insights into early migrations out of Africa and across the globe.

Like astronomers who build ever-larger telescopes to peer deeper into space, population geneticists like U-M's Noah Rosenberg are using the latest genetic tools to probe DNA molecules in unprecedented detail, uncovering new clues to humanity's origins.

The latest study characterizes more than 500,000 DNA markers in the human genome and examines variations across 29 populations on five continents.

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Gene studies confirm "out of Africa" theories

Two big genetic studies confirm theories that modern humans evolved in Africa and then migrated through Europe and Asia to reach the Pacific and Americas.

The two studies also show that Africans have the most diverse DNA, and the fewest potentially harmful genetic mutations.

One of the studies shows European-Americans have more small mutations, while the others show Native Americans, Polynesians and others who populated Australia and Oceania have more big genetic changes.

The studies, published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, paint a picture of a population of humans migrating off the African continent, and then shrinking at some point because of unknown adversity.

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Smugglers ahead of archeologists

The number of historical artifacts seized by police in operations targeting smugglers in the Çorum province in the northeast of Ankara in the last year was double the number of artifacts excavated in scientific excavations in the same area during the same period, daily Zaman reported yesterday. A total of 858 historic artifacts were seized in the villages and districts of Çorum while 333 were seized in the city center in the last year. However, the total number of historic artifacts dug up in simultaneous state-assisted archeological excavations carried out in Çorum and its surrounding basin was only 370.

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Islanders asked to help heritage

Orkney islanders have been invited to assist the draft of a new management plan for the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site (WHS).

The aim is to maximise the economic and social benefits from the site, while protecting its environment and ancient monuments.

A public meeting is being held at Stenness Community School on Thursday, 28 February to discuss developments.

It is hoped as many people as possible will take part.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

The monastery of Georgian kings in Paphos

EXCAVATIONS at the 12th century Georgian monastery near Gialia village in the Paphos District have uncovered the ruined building’s main church and two smaller chapels on the north side of the structure.

Also uncovered as part of the two-year old excavations, some five kilometres from Polis, were storerooms on the south side and cisterns connected to the water channel.

Twelve graves, dating from the 15th to 16th century, with Greek and Georgian inscriptions, were also discovered, and movable finds includes examples of the church’s wall painting, marble architectural items, pottery, glass objects and a bronze cross and coins.

The monastery, which is dedicated to Panagia Chrysogialiotissa, is mentioned in Greek, Latin and Georgian mediaeval written accounts and it was identified in 1981 by the recently deceased Los Angeles Professor Vakhtang Jobadze.

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25,000 Inhabitants, 2,500 Years Ago

How do archaeologists estimate the size of ancient populations?

Archaeologists in eastern India have found remains pointing to the existence of a highly developed urban settlement, the BBC reported on Monday. On the basis of recently completed excavations, the research team believes the city had approximately 25,000 inhabitants in the fifth century B.C. How do archaeologists estimate ancient populations?

Fieldwork and guesswork. If archaeologists are lucky, they might uncover written documents—on papyrus or stone tablets—that shed light on the makeup of a long-lost civilization. An Iron Age diarist might have noted the proximity of his nearest neighbors. A traveler's log found at an adjacent site might mention the size of the town in question. Archaeologists also try to extrapolate population figures from a known quantity, like the size of the burial ground. Based on the amount of space allotted to one set of skeletal remains, archaeologists can approximate how many people were buried in a cemetery.

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Ancestral Human Skull Found in China

A human skull tentatively dating back 80,000 to 100,000 years may shed light on a murky chapter of evolutionary history, its discoverers say.

An excavation team led by Chinese archaeologist Li Zhanyang recently found the shattered fossil in the central province of Henan.

China's government-run press was quick to describe the skull as "the greatest discovery in China after Peking Man," but archaeologists and paleoanthropologists say it's a much more modest find.

The Chinese report suggested that the fossil came from a modern human, which would have forced a radical reworking of current theories about when our species first left Africa.

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Possible Druid Grave Enchants Archaeologists

Druids belong to the realm of myth -- archaeologists have never been able to prove their existence. But now researchers in England have uncovered the grave of a powerful, ancient healer. Was he a druid?

There's a joke among archaeologists: Two of their kind, in the future, find a present-day public toilet. "We've discovered a holy site!" cries one. "Look, it has two separate entrances," says the other. "This here," he says, pointing to the door with a pictogram of a woman, "was for priests. This is evident by the figure wearing a long garment."

The joke rests on a perennial sore point for archaeologists: There are things they simply can't prove. The list includes love, hate, fear, desire and, well, faith. Which hasn't stopped many reports from being written about who loved or hated whom in ancient cultures -- who was threatened by what, who tried to win something else.

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Mesolithischer Siedlungsplatz in Hessen entdeckt

Kürzlich gab das Hessische Landesamt bekannt, dass im Herbst letzten Jahres bei Nauheim (Kr. Groß-Gerau) ein Siedlungsplatz der Mittelsteinzeit entdeckt worden ist.

Bei Ausgrabungen im Rahmen des Forschungsprojektes »Alt- und Mittelsteinzeit in Hessischen Ried« wurde eine 4 bis 9 m2 große rundliche Struktur aus etwa 800 Steinartefakten freigelegt. Es handelt sich dabei um die Überreste von Geräten bzw. Werkzeugen des täglichen Lebens einer Gruppe von Menschen, die sich vor etwa 10.000 Jahren an diesem Platz aufgehalten hat. Wie lange die Stelle besiedelt war, ist noch unbekannt. Die Klärung dieser Frage soll Gegenstand künftiger Untersuchungen sein.

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Norman invasion word impact study

A project examining the impact the Norman invasion of Britain had on the English language has won £874,000.

The Anglo-Norman dictionary, housed at Aberystwyth University, will use the money to continue revising its online edition.

The university's Professor David Trotter said it reflects the "enduring influence" of the Anglo-Normans.

The dictionary, and its associated texts collected at Swansea University, now stands at eight million words.

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Training Dig 2008: Practical Archaeology Training Course

For the last four years, Wessex Archaeology has run a series of very successful five day courses at Dr Martin Green’s farm on Cranborne Chase, “one of the most carefully studied areas in western Europe”. The Down Farm landscape includes parts of the Dorset Cursus and Ackling Dyke, Bronze Age barrows and Roman and Iron Age buildings. It is a rich, multi-period site in a wonderful setting.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Recent analysis of 4,000-year-old pots recovered during an excavation of two graves at Upper Largie, near Kilmartin in Argyll and Bute, has provided exciting evidence linking prehistoric Scotland with the Netherlands.

Analysis of the pots by Alison Sheridan, of National Museums Scotland, has revealed early international-style Beakers of the type found around the lower Rhine, which is the modern-day Netherlands and a strange hybrid of styles that suggest Irish and Yorkshire influences.

“These finds are very rare,” said Martin Cook, the AOC Archaeology Project Officer, who oversaw the excavations in 2005. “I think there are three or four other examples that early in Scotland. We initially didn’t realise how unusual they were, as it is so unusual to find three beaker ceramic vessels in the same feature.”

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Pierced skull and bones recovered

A worker dredging a river in Suffolk has discovered a skull and other human remains believed to date back to before the Middle Ages.

An examination revealed the skull had been penetrated by what could have been an iron arrow or spear.

This identified them as medieval, from between AD1066 and 1540, but they could even be Roman or Saxon, experts said.

The remains came from the River Lark at West Row near Mildenhall and the police were called in the first instance.

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Unique Roman Amphitheatre Slumbers Beneath Sofia Downtown

Some archaeologists say that Bulgaria may be called Rome of the Balkans, The Standart shares.

Serdica - an ancient names of Sofia, was a military, economic and culture centre in the Roman Empire.

And while local culture tourism is redirected to Perperikon and other spots dispersed all over this country, a mystic town slumbers beneath Sofia downtown, told from Standart.

The excavations under the medieval St. Sofia church started in the 1940s.

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Gwithian, Cornwall: Excavations 1949-1969

The Gwithian Archive Project (2005-2007) is a comprehensive assessment of the results of two major unpublished excavations which took place in West Cornwall during the 1950's and 1960's. The project was carried out by Cornwall Historic Environment Service and was funded through the ALSF scheme as disbursed by English Heritage.

For 20 years (from 1949 to 1969) a major archaeological field study of Gwithian parish in West Cornwall was undertaken by Professor Charles Thomas. This landscape study recorded over 70 sites dating from the Mesolithic through to the Post Medieval periods within a 4 square kilometre study area. The stunning coastal landscape of Gwithian has produced some remarkable archaeological discoveries which are principally due to the undeveloped character of the study area as well as the excellent preservation of the archaeological layers which were deeply sealed by layers of wind blown sand.

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Route of M74 extension offers insight into our past

AN INTACT pharmacy, piles of teeth, and a Yemeni prayer room are just some of the discoveries made by the UK's biggest archaeology project who are busy trying to unearth what lies beneath the controversial M74 motorway link which got the go-ahead last week.

The five mile route which will cost £657 million, 50% more than originally estimated, will run from Fullarton junction near Carmyle to the M8 just west of the Kingston Bridge with work expecting to start in May and be completed by 2011. Glasgow City Council along with M74 project partners, HAPCA, formed by firms Headland Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology, have been working with oral historians to piece together information about how people lived and worked across six different sites.

They have already excavated three sites at the Govan Iron Works, Caledonian Pottery and a buried tenement building on Pollokshaws Road. This week they will move on to three new sites - Kingston Limeworks in Tradeston, Eglinton Foundry and cotton mills and a steamie on Mauchline Street.

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Italy shows off looted artefacts seized by police

An ancient mosaic of a dark-haired boy and a fresco from Pompeii were among more than 400 looted archaeological treasures Italian police put on show that had been recovered during a three-year hunt across Europe.

The artefacts, including delicate Etruscan goblets and large Greek vases, were illegally dug up and spirited out of Italy decades ago, many of them assumed to be lost for ever.

Some of the most precious antiquities, including the fragmented fresco, were found at an elegant Paris mansion owned by a French publishing magnate, whose name was not disclosed. The Italian authorities said they had pressed charges against 31 people -- including the publisher.

The other artefacts, most of them illegally excavated in the provinces of Tuscany and Lazio, were traced to Milan, Geneva and Brussels.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Location: India Length: 4 min.

The temple of Chidambaram , India , is the home of the Dancing Shiva, Lord of Cosmic Dance, Shiva Nataraja, who dances the dance of Creation and Destruction. One of India ’s largest, it is one of the very few temples practicing the Vedic tradition and rituals. This doctrine has been preserved by a community of hereditary priests, the Deekshithars, in an unbroken oral tradition dating to prehistoric tim The temple’s early history is obscure, but it reached its present form in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries under of the kings of the Chola Dynasty.

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Well-urned restitution

One of the most important pieces of Greek art in existence, a large painted terracotta urn known as the “Euphronios Krater”, recently left New York’s Metropolitan Museum for ever. It joins 68 other works, mainly Greek and Etruscan, all purloined from Italy during the past 30 years, all now safely “home”.

They can be seen in a triumphant show in the grandest site in Rome – the Quirinale palace – once the home of popes and now of presidents. In spite of their astonishing quality, the antiquities are almost overshadowed by the heavy baroque setting. Pope Alessandro VII’s gallery, running along three sides of the internal courtyard on the piano nobile, is a riot of gilt and ormolu mirrors and clocks, with tapestries, chandeliers and walls decorated either with frescoes by Pietro di Cortona or slabs of marble.

The star of Nostoi: Capolavori Ritrovati ( nostoi means “homecomings” in Greek) is undoubtedly the red-figure Euphronios vase, dating from the 6th century BC and named after its maker.

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Ancient Town 'Sevtopolis', Submerged on a Lake Bottom to be Reconstructed

Association ‘Preserve the Bulgarian' starts action for the realizing of ‘Sevtopolis' project.

At first the organizators will collect subscription list throughout the whole country, the projects author and major architect Jeko Tilev announced.

Sevtopolis or the City of Tracian King Sevt III is capital of the Odyisian state in the end of IV - beginning of III century before Christ.

It was found and observed in 1948 - 1954 by the construction works of Koprinka dam like and afterwards, however, submerged in the lake waters.

This is the first and best preserved Thracian city in Bulgaria, located 7 km western from the Thracian capital of Bulgaria - Kazanlak and 2 kilometers from the ‘Goliyama Kosmatka' tomb, where the biggest Thracian treasures were found.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Abbey body identified as gay lover of Edward II

A mutilated body found in an abbey graveyard has been identified as that of a notorious medieval villain rumoured to have been the gay lover of Edward II.

The remains, which bear the hallmarks of having been hanged, drawn and quartered, are thought to be those of Sir Hugh Despenser the Younger, who was executed as a traitor in 1326.

Sir Hugh had been favourite of Edward II - who was widely believed to have been homosexual - but was brutally executed before a mob after the king was ousted from the throne.

The decapitated remains, buried at Hulton Abbey, Staffs, have intrigued experts since they were uncovered during the 1970s and now Mary Lewis, an anthropologist, says she has uncovered compelling evidence of their true identity.

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Medieval castle unearthed in Maenclochog

A team of professional and voluntary archaeologists have uncovered what seem to be the remains of a medieval castle in a north Pembrokeshire car park.

The dig, organised by PLANED, Cambria Archaeology and the National Park, and funded by the EU Transnational project, is taking place at the castle site in Maenclochog, beneath the village's car park.

So far excavators have uncovered what look to be the outer walls of a medieval castle, as well as post holes, the hearth of a medieval house and fragments of medieval pottery.

They have also discovered the skeleton of a dog, which archaeologists think is likely to be a family pet dating from the Middle Ages.

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British grave might be first historical evidence of druids

The first historical evidence of the existence of a mysterious ancient sect known as the Druids, might have been found in the form of a series of graves discovered in a gravel quarry at Stanway near Colchester, Essex, in UK.

According to a report in Discovery News, these graves have been dated to 40-60 AD, and at least one of the burials, it appears, may have been that of a Druid.

For the research, Mike Pitts, an archaeologist, studied classical Greek and Roman texts that mention the Druids in early France and Britain. The most detailed description, Pitts found, dates to 55 B.C. and comes from Roman military and political leader Julius Caesar.

Druids were prestigious ritual specialists who performed human sacrifices, acted as judges in disputes, were excused action in battle and taught the transmigration of souls, he said.

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Found at last: the world's oldest missing page

Fifth-century Christian text turns up under floor in Egypt, bringing early church martyrs to light

A year after the Romans packed up their shields in AD410 and left Britain to the mercy of the Anglo-Saxons, a scribe in Edessa, in what is modern day Turkey, was preparing a list of martyrs who had perished in defence of the relatively new Christian faith in Persia.

In a margin he dated the list November 411. Unfortunately for the martyrs, history forgot them. At some point, this page became detached from the book it belonged to. Since 1840, the volume has been one of the treasures of the British Library. It is known only by its catalogue code: ADD 12-150

The missing page has always been a fascinating mystery for scholars and historians. Now, after an extraordinary piece of detective work, that page has been rediscovered among ancient fragments in the Deir al-Surian monastery in Egypt. It is, according to Oxford University's Dr Sebastian Brock, the leading Syriac scholar who identified the fragments, the oldest dated Christian text in existence.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Get your hands on Viking relics

RESIDENTS have the chance to find out how Vikings spent their free time when a city centre excavation site opens its doors.

As part of the Jorvik Viking Festival, York Archaeological Trust is offering public access to the Hungate excavation site, just off Stonebow, today and tomorrow.

The open days are free and everyone has the chance to examine artefacts dug up at the site which include 1,200-year-old Viking ice-skates made from bone.

It will show Roman, medieval and Viking finds, which reveal how people lived in the area.

Experts will be on hand to answer any questions.

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Mobile Neanderthals

A 40,000-year-old tooth has provided scientists with the first direct evidence that Neanderthals moved from place to place during their lifetimes. In a collaborative project involving researchers from the Germany, the United Kingdom, and Greece, Professor Michael Richards of the Max Planck institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany and Durham University, UK, and his team used laser technology to collect microscopic particles of enamel from the tooth. By analysing strontium isotope ratios in the enamel - strontium is a naturally occurring metal ingested into the body through food and water - the scientists were able to uncover geological information showing where the Neanderthal had been living when the tooth was formed (Journal of Archaeological Science, February 11th, 2008).

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EL KADADA, Sudan, Feb 15, 2008 (AFP) - French archaeologists in Sudan say they have uncovered the oldest proof of human sacrifice in Africa, hailing the discovery as the biggest Neolithic find on the continent for years.

The tomb of a 5,500-year-old man surrounded by three sacrificed humans, two dogs and exquisite ceramics were exhumed north of Khartoum by Neolithic expert Jacques Reinhold and his 66-year-old Austrian wife.

"This is the oldest proof of human sacrifice in Sudan, in Egypt, in Africa," Reinhold told reporters next to the remains in El Kadada village, a three-hour drive north of the Sudanese capital.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Viking centre leader honoured by city

AN ARCHAEOLOGIST has been honoured in recognition of his dedicated work in the city.

Dr Peter Addyman, the former Director of York Archaeological Trust, officially collected the title of Honorary Freeman at a ceremony the Mansion House on Wednesday 13 February.

The honour is given to those who have served the city with distinction, or those with very notable links to the city.

The recommendation was put to the council by the Guild of Freemen of the city of York, nominated at a meeting of the council by Coun Stephen Galloway and seconded by the deputy leader of the council Coun David Scott.

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High-tech approach to Pictish stones

LASER TECHNOLOGY is being used to conserve a renowned collection of Pictish carved stones in readiness for display in an improved Angus museum.

Historic Scotland has been carrying out a care and conservation programme on the St Vigeans stones during a major upgrade of their museum on the outskirts of Arbroath.

Fresh academic research into the 38 stones and fragments suggests the small village of St Vigeans was once home to an important royal monastery.

Senior conservator Stephen Gordon said, “The improvements to the museum gave us an excellent opportunity to bring the stones to Edinburgh, where we have the specialist staff and equipment to undertake some thorough conservation treatment and prepare new mounts.

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Lasers conserve Pictish treasures

High-tech laser technology has been used to record and conserve one of the finest collections of Pictish carved stones in Scotland.

The St Vigeans Stones from Arbroath are being cleaned by a specialist team of Historic Scotland experts in Edinburgh.

Earlier efforts at conservation, dating back to the 1960s, carried out using the best techniques of the time have now reached the end of their life.

The project removes the earlier repairs and uses more modern treatments.

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Church's pre-historic past unearthed

Work on a town’s church has revealed that the site may have been used for ritual and worship for thousands of years.

Major refurbishment work on the Grade I-listed St Michael and All Angels church in Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne and Wear, began last month and has involved digging up the floor to install a new heating system.

The church, dating back to Norman times, is the oldest building in the town.

A carved stone above a tiny doorway, featuring a carving of mysterious intertwined animals known as the Houghton Beasts, may be from before the Norman Conquest.

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Ausstellung zu Leben, Handwerk und Kunst der Eiszeit in Erlangen öffnet am 17.2.

Unter dem Titel »Menschen der Eiszeit. Jäger - Handwerker - Künstler« werden im Stadtmuseum Erlangen Belege für die technischen Leistungen der Neandertaler und Kunstwerke des Homo sapiens präsentiert.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

In pictures: Heritage churches

The Heritage Lottery Fund is celebrating 12 years of funding for religious buildings and monuments, which has seen an investment of £392m restore more than 2,600 places.

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Replica of ancient boat will float again

THE OLDEST cross-Channel ferry in the world will set sail again in 2010, giving archaeologists a glimpse into the lives of Bronze Age seafarers.

Based on the 3,550-year-old vessel discovered beneath Dover town centre 16 years ago, the replica boat, lashed together from planks of wood, waterproofed with beeswax and moss, will carry up to ten men to France.

It is being built by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, and researchers hope the voyage will help them glean invaluable information about how our ancestors conquered the sea.

The venture will also help archaeologists understand how people in Dover lived more than three millennia ago.

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Migrating people had 20,000-year campout

People who migrated from Asia to the New World camped out for 20,000 years on land now submerged under the Bering Strait between Alaska and Siberia, according to a genetic analysis published on Tuesday.

A team at the University of Florida combined studies of DNA, archeological evidence, climate data and geological data to come up with their new theory, which describes a much longer migration than most other researchers have proposed.

"We sort of went out onto a limb, incorporating all this nongenetic data," molecular anthropologist Connie Mulligan said in a telephone interview.

Mulligan's team proposes that the people who left Central Asia to eventually populate the Americas passed quickly through Siberia, and then got stuck in Beringia -- a former land mass that now lies under the frigid Bering Sea.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sea Stallion from Glendalough

Newsletter 24. issue - February the 13th, 2008

The Sea Stallion’s new crew selected

Sea Stallion not sailing to London

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Human remains found at a city centre building site could shed new light on Derby's early history, it has been claimed.

Investigations are continuing into the discovery of a skull, collar bones and arm bones, found at the Cathedral Green site last week, to determine if they date back to Anglo-Saxon times.

A pathologist is now examining the bones and archaeologists are at the site.

Leading Derby historian Maxwell Craven said that the discovery could shed light on the city's history, which is shrouded in mystery before 920 AD.

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Treasure from Thwing

A MEDIEVAL ring found in the Driffield area has been classified as treasure and could be worth hundreds of pounds.

The finger ring, which dates back to the 12th century, was found by a man metal detecting on farmland near Thwing last year.

The piece of jewellery, which is made of silver and contains traces of niello, was found by Dave Rooney on February 18, 2007.

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Egypt's Earliest Farm Settlement Discovered

Archaeologists working at the site of a 7,000-year-old village in Egypt's Faiyum depression excavate clay floors and hearths.

The site is the earliest farm settlement yet found in Egypt, providing a major breakthrough in understanding the enigmatic people of the late Stone Age who lived long before the appearance of the Egyptian pharaohs, experts say. (Read full story.)

The discoveries were made by a joint U.S.-Dutch team of scientists digging deeper into a previously excavated mound of sand some 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Cairo (see map).

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Medieval pendant found in village

A METAL detectorist who discovered a rare 700-year-old pendant in Osmington is delighted to hand his treasure over to the British Museum.

Paul Rainford, 53, of Littlemoor Road, Preston found the medieval pendant with a green stone engraved with a woman's portrait in a farmer's ploughed field on March 6.

He told a treasure inquest at West District Coroners Court: "It was four inches deep.

"I just dug out a little tuft of grass and saw it sticking out of the soil.

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Seahenge installed at Lynn museum

LYNN Museum is closing to the public from today for several weeks while the Seahenge timbers from Holme are installed into the new Bronze Age gallery.

The gallery is the final part of the £1.2 million Lynn Museum redevelopment funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Norfolk County Council.

Half of the 4,000-year-old timber circle will be on display together with a reconstruction of how the circle might have looked when built.

The Bronze Age monument has been well-travelled since it was lifted from the shoreline at Holme in 1999.

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Archaeology site causes road concerns

Work to upgrade the international road link between Belfast and Dublin at Newry has been put on ice because of archaeological concerns.
Local representatives are now asking why archaeologists have apparently not yet had a chance to inspect the site some six weeks after workmen downed tools on the crucial commercial link road.

A spokeswoman for Roads Service said that the "top soil strip operation" on the A1 Beech Hill to Cloghogue Dual carriageway scheme had uncovered "a number of potential archaeological features".

She said the road contractor is preparing plans to deal with the finds along with the Environment and Heritage Service.

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Roman pots to go on display

A large collection of Roman artefacts is to go on public display in Norwich for the first time, 30 years after they were unearthed by an amateur archaeologist.

Almost 50 boxes of pots, figurines and other items dug up at Brampton, near Aylsham, in the 1970s and 1980s have been bought so that they can be enjoyed by all.

The find, which had been boxed up at the home of amateur archaeologist Keith Knowles, will now go on display at the Castle Museum along with his field notes and excavation photographs from the time.

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Viking women had sexy style

Women who lived in the major Viking settlement called Birka in the 9th and 10th centuries dressed in a much more provocative manner than previously believed.

When the area around Lake Mälaren was Christianized about a century later, women’s dress style became more modest, according to archaeologist Annika Larsson.

Previously, it was thought that Viking ladies wore a long garment held up by braces, made of square pieces of wool whose front and back sides were contained with a belt. The characteristic decorative circular buckles, a common find at many Viking-era grave sites, were believed to have been worn at the collarbone.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Druid Grave Unearthed in U.K.?

Historical records tell of a mystical, priestly and learned class of elite individuals called Druids among Celtic societies in Britain, but there has been no archaeological evidence of their existence. Until, perhaps, now.

A series of graves found in a gravel quarry at Stanway near Colchester, Essex, have been dated to 40-60 A.D. At least one of the burials, it appears, may have been that of a Druid, according to a report published in British Archaeology.

Mike Pitts, the journal's editor and an archaeologist, authored the piece. Pitts studied classical Greek and Roman texts that mention the Druids in early France and Britain. The most detailed description, Pitts found, dates to 55 B.C. and comes from Roman military and political leader Julius Caesar.

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What lies beneath?

Archaeological works to uncover what lies beneath Spalding's Ayscoughfee Gardens has begun.

South Holland District Council is working with the Norfolk Archaeology Unit (NAU) to investigate the historic footprint of the riverside gardens.

Digging began on January 28 after a desk-based survey which drew together all the known information about the area.

Geophysical and topographical surveys have also been carried out.

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A 40,000-year-old tooth proves Neanderthals moved from place to place

A 40,000-year-old tooth has provided scientists with the first direct evidence that Neanderthals moved from place to place during their lifetimes.

The team used laser technology to collect microscopic particles of enamel from the tooth.

By analysing strontium isotope ratios in the enamel - strontium is a naturally occurring metal ingested into the body through food and water - the scientists were able to uncover geological information showing where the Neanderthal had been living when the tooth was formed.

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Looking for treasure

UNEARTHING buried treasure is the stuff of story book fantasies but for many metal detectorists a night-time shadow has been cast over their hobby. Charlotte Shepherd went in search of gold with one of the Cotswolds best-known detectorists.

"THEY'RE thieves, nothing short of thieves," said Ian James, a Cirencester-based metal detectorist, whose 'finds' include an important Bronze-Age weapons' hoard now in the Corinium Museum.

The thieves to which he refers are nighthawks, the name given to metal detectorists who go out under the cover of darkness with the intention of selling what they find for personal profit, often on eBay.

Nighthawks flout the codes of practice that good metal detectorists obey by not seeking landowners' permission to carry out their detecting and refusing to declare what they find to their regional Portable Antiquities Trust.

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Roman relics to go on show in city

A large collection of Roman artefacts is to go on public display at a city museum for the first time in the summer - 30 years after they were first dug up by an amateur archaeologist.

Almost 50 boxes of artefacts, including pots, figurines, and leather sandals, dug up at Brampton, near Aylsham, in the 1970s and 1980s have been bought by the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Service.

The find, which had been boxed up at Keith Knowles's house, will now go on display at the Norwich Castle Museum, along with Mr Knowles' field notes and excavation photographs from the time.

Dr John Davies, the museum's chief curator, said: “The settlement had been known about for a long time but this was the only time it was excavated. This collection is important because it represents all aspects of daily life over a period of 350 years. It is so large and there is some lovely stuff, but most of it represents life for ordinary people.

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A Full excavation for Anglo-Saxon remains and other historical items could be carried out at a building site where human bones were found.

Investigations are continuing after the remains, including a skull, arm and collar bone, were unearthed by contractors working at Derby's Cathedral Green on Thursday.

Derby City Council says the site may now have to be closed for a full examination, depending on when the body dates back to. A police pathologist is still examining the body to discover its how long it had been there and its identity.

Maxwell Craven, historian and member of Derby Civic Society, said a full search would be needed if the bones were from Anglo-Saxon times or older.

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Cistern found to have been ancient tomb

Studies at Limestone Heritage, the museum/park which traces the use of stone in Malta, have confirmed that a bell-shaped cistern in the Siggiewi quarry where the museum is located, is an ancient tomb of Punic or Roman origin.

The studies were conducted by Dr Nicholas Vella, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the Department of Classics and Archaeology of the University of Malta.

Entrance into the tomb is now through one of its two burial chambers but in antiquity the tomb was reached from the fields above, down a deep shaft. In later years, the shaft was refashioned into a bell-shaped cistern to collect rainwater.

The tomb was cut into the soft limestone that outcrops in this area. The 2.30 metre-deep shaft would probably have been rectangular with footholds dug on the side to allow the funeral undertaker to descend to its bottom.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ancient fireplace found by cathedral workmen

A MEDIEVAL fireplace was uncovered at Peterborough Cathedral yesterday during restoration work to repair ancient stone walls in the precincts.
Builders at the site alerted the cathedral's archaeologist after part of a wall collapsed to reveal the previously undiscovered historic hearth.

Archaeologist Dr Jackie Hall confirmed that it was indeed an important find.

She said: "Its definitely medieval, but, at the moment, we have not been able to date it exactly. However, the composition and site leads us to believe it is of that period. The hearth is right at the back of the wall and it appears to belong to an earlier building."

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The article includes a link to a video of the find.


Remains of a Roman settlement have been found on the proposed site of a new cemetery.

The findings were unearthed during a recent archaeological dig at the so-called Baker's field site near Long Leys Road in Lincoln.

Fragments of pottery, gullies for farming and animal bones were discovered during the survey, suggesting that the site was once a Roman-era farm.

Local opponents of the cemetery plan had hoped that the discovery might derail it but this now seems unlikely to happen.

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Treasure hunting in Bradford

The BBC's Richard Westcott goes metal detecting in Yorkshire.

Someone in Bradford's lost their keys. I found them this morning with the help of the Two Dales metal detecting club. We also found something a lot more adult, although I can't tell you what because this is a family website.

Treasure amongst rubbish

But it's not all rubbish. In amongst the cans and bits of car aerial lies treasure. The club brought along 2,000 year old bronze axe heads, Roman brooches, all types of coins, even a 20,000 year old flint axe head, although they had to use their eyes to find that one, obviously.

All these finds are officially registered thanks to something called the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

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Unravelling the Northwest's Viking past

The blood of the Vikings is still coursing through the veins of men living in the North West of England — according to a new study which has been just published.

Focusing on the Wirral in Merseyside and West Lancashire the study of 100 men, whose surnames were in existence as far back as medieval times, has revealed that 50 per cent of their DNA is specifically linked to Scandinavian ancestry.

The collaborative study, by The University of Nottingham, the University of Leicester and University College London, reveals that the population in parts of northwest England carries up to 50 per cent male Norse origins, about the same as modern Orkney.

The 14-strong research team, funded by the Wellcome Trust and a prestigious Watson-Crick DNA anniversary award from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), was led by the University of Nottingham’s Professor Stephen Harding and Professor Judith Jesch and the University of Leicester’s Professor Mark Jobling.

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You can read the research article here...

The Romans carried out cataract ops

Think of the Roman legacy to Britain and many things spring to mind - straight roads, under-floor heating, aqueducts and public baths.

But they were also pioneers in the health arena - particularly in the area of eye care, with remedies for various eye conditions such as short-sightedness and conjunctivitis.

Perhaps most surprisingly of all is that the Romans - and others from ancient times, including the Chinese, Indians and Greeks - were also able also to carry out cataract operations.

The Romans were almost certainly the first to do this in Britain.

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Ancient tooth suggests Neanderthals were more mobile

ATHENS — Analysis of a 40,000-year-old tooth found in southern Greece suggests Neanderthals were more mobile than once believed, paleontologists and the Greek Culture Ministry said Friday.

Analysis of the tooth — part of the first and only Neanderthal remains found in Greece — showed the ancient human to whom it belonged had spent at least part of its life away from the area where it died.

"Neanderthal mobility is highly controversial," said paleoanthropology Professor Katerina Harvati at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

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Mysterious symbols carved into Scotland’s medieval churches, castles and bridges are to be studied and recorded in a new scheme supported by Historic Scotland.

Masons’ marks are enigmatic signatures cut into stone wherever they worked, and hold clues as to dates of construction as well as the craftsmen who worked on the structure. However, little is known about the identities and life stories of these men who played such an important role in creating the country’s most cherished buildings from the Middle Ages to the 18th century. The exact function of the marks is not even known.

These signatures of the master masons are now to be recorded for the regions of Aberdeenshire, Moray and Angus in a project that will produce a database including all the marks in the area, providing the possibility of following the movements of individuals from one project to the next.

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Ancient bones may hold key

Ancient human remains held in Portsmouth's museum archives are set to be DNA-tested for signs of tuberculosis.

Skeletons which have been dug up in the city during developments, some dating back to the Bronze Age, will now form a vital part of new research into TB.

Academics from Durham and Manchester universities have asked permission to remove bits of bone and teeth to analyse as part of their research project into how tuberculosis evolved through the ages.

The remains of two ancient city dwellers, one which is known to have suffered TB and one which did not, will be studied.

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Doctoral student makes discovery on Neanderthal eating habits

A doctoral student studying hominid paleobiology has pioneered a method for analyzing reindeer bones from around 65,000 to 12,000 years ago, an accomplishment that allows scientists to further understand the eating habits of early humans.

Early humans flocked to reindeer meat when the temperature dropped, J. Tyler Faith discovered.

"We see a steady increase in the abundance of reindeer, associated with declines in summer temperature," Faith said.

Faith analyzed bones from the Grotte XVI archaeological site in southern France in order to better understand the relationship between early humans and animals, and how this was affected by changes in the environment.

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An Altar Beyond Olympus for a Deity Predating Zeus

Before Zeus hurled his first thunderbolt from Olympus, the pre-Greek people occupying the land presumably paid homage and offered sacrifices to their own gods and goddesses, whose nature and identities are unknown to scholars today.

But archaeologists say they have now found the ashes, bones and other evidence of animal sacrifices to some pre-Zeus deity on the summit of Mount Lykaion, in the region of Greece known as Arcadia. The remains were uncovered last summer at an altar later devoted to Zeus.

Fragments of a coarse, undecorated pottery in the debris indicated that the sacrifices might have been made as early as 3000 B.C., the archaeologists concluded. That was about 900 years before Greek-speaking people arrived, probably from the north in the Balkans, and brought their religion

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Hope of finding first King's home

Archaeologists believe they could be closer to discovering the site of the palace belonging to the first King of a united Scotland.

The academics at Glasgow University have been studying documents and previous archaeological finds to narrow down the location in Perthshire.

They will return in August to Forteviot in the hope of uncovering evidence of Kenneth MacAlpine's wooden castle.

MacAlpine died at the Palace of Forteviot in 858.

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Archaeologists Discover Roman Fort In Cornwall, England

University of Exeter archaeologists have discovered a Roman fort in South East Cornwall, England. Dating back to the first century AD, this is only the third Roman fort ever to have been found in the county. The team believes its location, close to a silver mine, may be significant in shedding light on the history of the Romans in Cornwall.

Situated next to St Andrew’s Church, Calstock, the site is on top of a hill in an area known to have been involved with silver mining in medieval times. University archaeologists became interested in the site when they found references in medieval documents to the smelting of silver ‘at the old castle’ and ‘next to the church’ in Calstock.

The team conducted a geophysical survey, which clearly showed the outline of a feature that is a very similar shape to another Roman fort recently found near Lostwithiel. They started digging and uncovered the unique and instantly-recognisable shape of a Roman military ditch, confirming their find as a Roman fort.

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DISCOVERY: Oldest lighthouse at ancient Roman port

Turkish archaeologists unearthed a 2000-year-old lighthouse at the ancient Roman port of Patara, near southern town of Kas, Antalya, discovering probably the oldest such structure that managed to remain intact.

The 12-meter-high lighthouse was built under the reign of Emperor Nero who ruled from 54 to 68, Professor Havva Iskan Isik, head of the excavation team reported.

"The oldest known lighthouse is the one in Alexandria but there is nothing left of it. So, the lighthouse at the Patara port is the oldest one that has remained intact," she said.

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Monday, February 04, 2008


Archaeologists have discovered a cemetery dating back 1,500 years at the site of a new school near Doncaster.

The exciting find, which consists of 35 burials, was made by a team from the Archaeological Research and Consultancy at the University of Sheffield (ARCUS) prior to the construction of the new North Ridge Special School in Adwick le Street.

“It is not every day that we find something as interesting as this,” said Richard O’Neill, ARCUS Project Manager. “Builders often ask us ‘have you found any old bones?’ This time we can say ‘Yes!’”

Investigations have shown that the remains date from between the 5th and 9th centuries, when the area was occupied by Saxons and Vikings. The burials are thought to be pre-Christian because of their south-west to north-east orientation.

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Site visit call over homes plan

A HOUSING development planned for land where Roman remains were found has been on hold after councillors requested a site visit.

Persimmon wants to build 96 homes and public open space on land in Staverton, where Roman artefacts and a possible prehistoric settlement have been found, along with human remains.

Cotswold Archaeology is cleaning and analysing artefacts found on site, which will eventually be donated to Trowbridge Museum.

Members of West Wiltshire District Council's planning committee will visit the piece of land between New Terrace and Marina Drive, formerly used as arable land, after requesting a site visit at a meeting on Thursday.

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Digging in for history

Newham Council and the Museum of London Archaeological Service are arranging a community archaeological excavation to uncover the remains of a medieval building at Bakers Row, West Ham, from today until February 15.

The building is thought to be connected to the 'Great Gate,' of the Stratford Langthorne Abbey, now mostly beneath the adjacent railway tracks. The uncovered remains will form part of a new community open space.

To see archaeologists excavating the site come along to the open weekend on Saturday 9 February and Sunday 10 February, between 10am and 2pm.

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Antiquity had more than a monochrome palette

We are so used to the white purity of ancient marble sculptures that we imagine the Greeks and Romans felt the same: certainly the artists and patrons of the Renaissance and later centuries believed that white was right. New research using strong raking light sources and beams of ultraviolet light has shown, however, that many Classical statues were gaudily painted in a plethora of colours.

“The ideal of unpainted sculpture took shape in Renaissance Rome, inspired by finds and early collections of Classical marble statues such as the Laocoön, discovered in 1506, said Dr Susanne Ebbinghaus of Harvard University, organiser of a recent conference on Gods in Colour. These were denuded of their painted surfaces by prolonged exposure to the elements, burial and often, most likely, a good scrub upon recovery.”

Michelangelo famously rated sculpture much higher than painting, and Vasari ignored polychrome decoration except on wood carvings, and the impact of statues such as Michelangelo’s David established white marble sculpture as the noblest of the arts, something that continued from the Renaissance into the neoClassical period of the 18th and 19th centuries and the establishment of an art-historical canon by Johann Joachim Winckelmann.

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Die Ursprünge der Seidenstraße

Die Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen (rem) Mannheim zeigen vom 9.2.2008 bis 1.6.2008 die große Sonderausstellung „Ursprünge der Seidenstraße“, in der die aktuellen archäologischen Forschungsergebnisse aus der chinesischen Autonomen Region vorgestellt werden.

Neueste Forschungen haben ergeben, dass Xinjiang schon in überraschend früher Zeit ein Kreuzpunkt der Kulturen war. Die Ausstellung bietet den Besuchern eine Entdeckungsreise zu den Ursprüngen und der Entwicklung der Seidenstraße, die sie in einem Rundgang von Fundort zu Fundort führt. 190 Ausgrabungsfunde, darunter komplette Grabausstattungen bieten den Besuchern Einblicke in teilweise wenig erforschte Kulturen zwischen 2000 v. Chr. und 500 n. Chr. und ermöglichen so einen Zugang zu aktuellen archäologischen Forschungsthemen Zentralasiens.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Discovery Rewrites Viking history

The discovery of two massive Viking halls in Borre in Vestfold County gives archeologists reason to reassess the distribution of power in Viking Norway.

Vestfold County archeologists presented finds on Wednesday that show there are two great hall buildings underneath the ground about 100 meters from the major burial mounds at Borre.

The Borre mounds are the largest grouping of monumental burial mounds from the late Iron Age, between 560-1050 AD. There are seven large burial mounds at Borre, and over 30 smaller mounds, all have been opened or plundered.

One of the halls is believed to be up to 40 meters (131 feet) long and 12 to 13 meters (39-42 feet) high, the largest found in Vestfold.

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(This dates to 5 December 2007, but I have only just seen the article)

The Drawings on the Wall

Sunday 03 February
2:45pm - 3:00pm
BBC Radio 4

The Legless Women of Creswell Craggs: First of five programmes in which archaeologist Dr George Nash explores Western Europe's most remarkable rock art sites. His journey begins with extinct animals and strange female forms in Church Hole Cave in Derbyshire. Who created this prehistoric graffiti and why?

Archaeologists get to work at Clitheroe Castle

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are compiling a comprehensive record of historic Clitheroe Castle and Museum.

The castle and its associated buildings are undergoing a £3.2m. development scheme and archaeologists have seized the opportunity to record some of its ancient features using special measuring and imaging equipment. Once complete, the record will be stored at Lancashire Records Office.

Meanwhile, pieces of medieval pottery discovered during the work will eventually go on display at the new-look Clitheroe Castle Museum.

Senior achaeologist Ian Miller said: "This is the first time this kind of work has been undertaken at Clitheroe Castle and it has given us crucial information about how the site has developed.

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Putting the clock back 10,000 years

Chock-full of famous Roman Baths, Celtic kings, Georgian crescents and Jane Austen, the history of Bath already ran to quite a weighty tome.

But archaeologists admitted yesterday that two new chapters would have to be written after amazing discoveries made while a new sewer was being dug.

At the very depths of the site of a new GBP350 million shopping centre in the heart of the ancient city, archaeologists found new evidence that extends the history of the city thousands of years further back.

The archaeologists found the first evidence of human activity near the banks of the River Avon dating back to 8,000BC, that's before any kind of recorded history and even before the idea of farming had reached the British Isles.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Historic Roman bridge over river saved

PART of a huge Roman bridge which would have once spanned the River Tyne has been saved from destruction by a team of archaeologists at Corbridge.

The original bridge would have carried the main Roman road from London to Scotland – the Roman 'Great North Road' - and it is thought that it collapsed due to erosion from the river during the Anglo-Saxon period.

The ruins of the bridge were uncovered when the excavation began three years ago.

Following extensive consultation, it was decided that the only way to protect the remains was to dismantle them and re-assemble them nearby on a site which was safe from erosion.

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Prehistoric finds at motorway dig

New evidence of prehistoric life has been discovered during motorway excavations in Merseyside.

A team of archaeologists found flints and burnt hazelnuts during preparations for a new junction of the M62.

The archaeological findings date from the Mesolithic to the Bronze Age periods - around 5000 to 2000 BC.

The pieces were found while the excavations were being carried out for a new link road at Junction six near Huyton.

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Could King Arthur, the legendary leader of the Britons in the sixth century, have set up camp with his Knights of the Round Table in Brigg?

This fascinating question has been raised in a newly-published booked called the The Anglo Saxon Kingdom of Lindsey.Author Dr Kevin Leahy has staked North Lincolnshire's claim to a share in the Arthurian legend after spending 30 years researching his book.

Broughton-based Dr Leahy (61) said: "Following the withdrawal of the Romans in the early fourth century, Lindsey was a nation in its own right with its own kings and bishops.

"Excavations and metal detecting have shown how rich and exciting the kingdom was.

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Italian Scientists to Save Unique Ancient Temple-well in Bulgaria

Italian historians will take part in the rescuing of the only temple-well in Bulgaria.

The unique monument is called ‘Pusto Gurlo' (‘Vain Throat') and is located in Gurlo Village, Pernik area.

Scientists dated it from XIV century before Christ.

Together with Pernik Municipality, the specialists from Italy will make a project to apply for EU funds granting.

The received resources will be used to be constructed new road to the temple-well, to restore the surrounding objects and a hotel complex to be built nearby.

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Tara Solidarity Vigil

A peaceful demonstration will take place within the Tara/Skryne Valley this Sunday February 3rd. All are welcome.

The demonstration, to illustrate the magnitude of the Lismullen henge will use hundreds of crosses, symbolising the rebels who were hung near Soldier's Hill in 1798.

A proposed solution to the debate regarding the M3 Motorway and the preservation of the Tara /Skryne Valley was put before the cabinet earlier this year. The solution proposes that the Tara Landscape be made into a World Heriitage Park, to include a better road than currently available using a 2+1 lane solution (not a motorway) and incorporating increased coach and bus routes and a rail link. The M3 Motorway would proceed to the Valley and beyond the Valley thus preserving the heritage section.

A new National Survey has been conducted by RedC research to ascertain what percentage of the population would like to see this plan put into action. Results of this survey will be made public at the demonstration and will be available on the website from Monday February 4th.
People are encouraged to bring cameras and to wear rubber boots and suitable rainwear.

Assembly point, Tara Car Park or Vigil Camp 2.30pm.
For additional information, call
Debbie Reilly or Heather Buchanan
Tara Solidarity Vigil
086 1758557

Friday, February 01, 2008

Archaeological exhibition is to dye for

A NEW travelling archaeological exhibition telling the story of the blue dye from prehistory has been launched in Wisbech.
Woad Into the Blue enables visitors to Wisbech and Fenland Museum to learn about the history of woad to the present day.

The exhibition which runs until March 15 also talks about the sky-blue Britons and the yellow-flowered plant that produces the blue dye.

The Fens were an important woad-growing and dye production area from the 1300s to the 1700s, and there was a woad mill at Parson Drove until 1917.

Curator of the museum, David Wright said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to find out more about the use and history of woad. It was an important commercial crop and grown locally in the Fens until the early 20th century.

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Quarry bid near Wall unleashes big protest

PLANS to reactivate a disused quarry within a stone’s throw of Hadrian’s Wall have unleashed a storm of protest.

More than 50 letters of objection have been lodged with Northumberland County Council over the project to resume working at Cocklaw Quarry, near Wall.

Tynedale Roadstone Ltd wants to extract sandstone, limestone and sand and gravel from the quarry on Brunton Bank over a 10-year period.

However, local residents fear the work would lead to increased lorry traffic on the Military Road, and an unacceptable impact on the setting of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.

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One Common Ancestor Behind Blue Eyes

People with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor, according to new research.

A team of scientists has tracked down a genetic mutation that leads to blue eyes. The mutation occurred between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. Before then, there were no blue eyes.

"Originally, we all had brown eyes," said Hans Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen.

The mutation affected the so-called OCA2 gene, which is involved in the production of melanin, the pigment that gives color to our hair, eyes and skin.

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The truth on those dirty rats: they divided into six mobs and conquered

THEY are destructive, disease-carrying pests that have spread as far as Antarctica. And it would be a rare Australian home that does not have one lurking somewhere.

Now the long, dark past of the black rat has been revealed in a worldwide study by an Australian-led team of researchers.

Genetic tests on black rats from more than 30 countries show these carriers of black plague and other dangerous microbes fall into six genetic lineages, which have invaded different regions.

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Berlin dig finds city older than thought

BERLIN - An archaeological dig in downtown Berlin has uncovered evidence that the German capital is at least 45 years older than had previously been established, authorities said Wednesday.

During excavation work last week in the Mitte district, archaeologists uncovered a wooden beam from an ancient earthen cellar, said Karin Wagner of the city-state's office for historical preservation.

It was in exceptionally good condition, having lain under the water table for centuries, and scientists were able to determine from a sample taken that it had been cut down in 1192.

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Die Ursprünge der Seidenstraße

Die Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen (rem) Mannheim zeigen vom 9.2.2008 bis 1.6.2008 die große Sonderausstellung „Ursprünge der Seidenstraße“, in der die aktuellen archäologischen Forschungsergebnisse aus der chinesischen Autonomen Region vorgestellt werden.

Neueste Forschungen haben ergeben, dass Xinjiang schon in überraschend früher Zeit ein Kreuzpunkt der Kulturen war. Die Ausstellung bietet den Besuchern eine Entdeckungsreise zu den Ursprüngen und der Entwicklung der Seidenstraße, die sie in einem Rundgang von Fundort zu Fundort führt. 190 Ausgrabungsfunde, darunter komplette Grabausstattungen bieten den Besuchern Einblicke in teilweise wenig erforschte Kulturen zwischen 2000 v. Chr. und 500 n. Chr. und ermöglichen so einen Zugang zu aktuellen archäologischen Forschungsthemen Zentralasiens.

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Archäologen des Landschaftsverbandes Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) haben in einen mittelalterlichen, 600 Jahre alten Holzzaun entdeckt.

Trotz der winterlichen Temperaturen untersuchten in den vergangenen Wochen die LWL-Experten der Stadtarchäologie Paderborn Teilflächen auf einer Baustelle in der Innenstadt von Paderborn. Sie nutzen die Zeit, bis in wenigen Monaten die Volksbank Paderborn-Höxter-Detmold mit den Arbeiten für einen Neubau beginnt. Überraschend stießen die Archäologen hierbei auf eine bis zu 50 Zentimeter hoch erhaltenen Zaun aus senkrecht in den Boden eingeschlagenen Holzpfosten, die mit dicht geflochtenen Weidenruten verbunden sind.

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