Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Landfill hearing reopens on concern that site is prehistoric 'sacred place'

AN BORD Pleanála yesterday reopened a two-year-old oral hearing into proposals for a major regional landfill on a 600-acre site at Nevitt in north Co Dublin.

The board said the re-opening was in response to concerns from academics that the site may be the location of a pre-Christian, "large-ditched enclosure of the Tara or Navan kind".

Addressing the inquiry yesterday, board inspector Des Johnson outlined a series of submissions between academics and the Department of the Environment, since the first hearing closed in October 26th, 2006.

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Fish Sauce Used to Date Pompeii Eruption

Remains of rotten fish entrails have helped establish the precise dating of Pompeii's destruction, according to Italian researchers who have analyzed the town's last batch of garum, a pungent, fish-based seasoning.

Frozen in time by the catastrophic eruption that covered Pompeii and nearby towns nearly 2,000 years ago with nine to 20 feet of hot ash and pumice, the desiccated remains were found at the bottom of seven jars.

The find revealed that the last Pompeian garum was made entirely with bogues (known as boops boops), a Mediterranean fish species that abounded in the area in the summer months of July and early August.

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Ancient Saxons could hold up supermarket

REMAINS of a Saxon settlement could hold up the construction of a budget supermarket on land at Kingsteignton.

German supermarket chain Lidl, submitted pans to Teignbridge Council to build a 1,000 square metre supermarket on the old Wilcocks agricultural site at Newton Road.

Officers have recommended outline planning permission for the store, which could provide up to 30 jobs, be turned down.

Planners say the store would have a 'detrimental impact on the street scene' and to number 2 St Michael's Road, which Lidl owns and plans to sell on completion of the development.

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Pirate hoard found in East End

A hoard of items from the homes of 17th century sailors and pirates has been discovered.

An archaeological dig in the Narrow Street area of Ratcliff, near Limehouse, has found the remains of the homes of sea captains - and pottery, coins, jars, glassware, water containers, coral and cannonballs from around the world. An exhibition of the artefacts opens at the Sampson and Horne Antiques gallery, in Mount Street, Westminster, on Wednesday.

The site, which has been excavated by Pre-Construct Archaeology, runs along the rear of what, in the 17th century, would have been wharf and shipping facilities along the Thames.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Deep Origins of Agriculture

The origins of agriculture started with harvesting small seeds--wheat, barley, millet, lentils, chickpeas. Archaeological evidence today suggests that a fitting metaphor to that process would be "the long and winding road" leading to agriculture.

Up until fairly recently, the development of agriculture was thought to be a rapid process. The process, at whatever speed, goes something like this:

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The degradation of wood in the Vasa is caused by iron

During its time in the sea bottom of Stockholm harbour, huge amounts of iron and sulfurous compounds accumulated in the wood of the royal warship Vasa. Since 2000 it has been noticed that changes are taking place in the wood, changes that threaten the stability of the ship.

At first it was believed that the conversion of sulfur to sulfuric acid was the culprit, but now it has been shown that it is the iron from the ship’s rusted bolts and cannonballs is causing the most serious deterioration of the wood. This is the subject of a dissertation by Gunnar Almkvist from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

The wood in the royal ship Vasa has been seriously affected by the biological and chemical processes that the hull was exposed to during its period under water (1628-1961), during its conservation period (1962-1989), and subsequently in its modern museum setting.

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'The Odyssey' and 'The Iliad' are giving up new secrets about the ancient world

NEARLY 3,000 YEARS after the death of the Greek poet Homer, his epic tales of the war for Troy and its aftermath remain deeply woven into the fabric of our culture. These stories of pride and rage, massacre and homecoming have been translated and republished over millennia. Even people who have never read a word of "The Iliad" or "The Odyssey" know the phrases they have bequeathed to us - the Trojan horse, the Achilles heel, the face that launched a thousand ships.

Today we still turn to Homer's epics not only as sources of ancient wisdom and wrenchingly powerful poetry, but also as genuinely popular entertainments. Recent translations of "The Iliad" and "Odyssey" have shared the best-seller lists with Grisham and King. "The Odyssey" has inspired works from James Joyce's "Ulysses" to a George Clooney movie, and an adaptation of "The Iliad" recently earned more than $100 million in the form of Wolfgang Petersen's "Troy" - a summer blockbuster starring Brad Pitt as an improbable Achilles.

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Port of 'second Carthage' found

Oristano, September 25 - Archaeologists in Sardinia said Thursday they have found the port of the Phoenician city of Tharros, held by some to be the ancient people's most important colony in the Mediterranean after Carthage.

Researchers from the University of Cagliari and Sassari found the submerged port in the Mistras Lagoon, several kilometres from the city ruins.

Excavations have long been going on at the site of the city itself, on a peninsula overlooking the Bay of Oristano in western Sardinia, but this is the first time its waterfront has been located despite almost two centuries of hunting.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Viking centre rebuilt after arson

A Viking long house education centre has been rebuilt by retail staff after it was targeted by arsonists.

The large wooden purpose-built hut used by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust in Penwortham was damaged by vandals who set fire to it last year.

The hut was shaped as a Viking long hut and was used for wildlife education.

Senior managers from the Mall, which has centres in Preston and Blackburn, spent two days rebuilding the hut as part of a teambuilding exercise.

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Iron Age jawbone

A CREMATION pit containing a human jaw bone mixed with animal bones is one of a treasure trove of finds currently coming to light in an archaeological dig in the Isles.

Other finds include a perfectly preserved hearth, with a clay foundation scratched with a cross, and a plethora of worked bone, shell and pottery artefacts.
Archaeologists say the finds promise a breakthrough in understanding the mysterious ways of the pre-historic Hebridean.

The Iron Age site at Sloc Sabhaid on the tidal island of Baleshare, North Uist comprises a settlement of wheelhouses, round structures divided by internal radial walls forming rooms within the building.

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”Virtual archaeologist” to shed new light on 3,500 yr old Greek civilization

Thanks to an automated system developed by a team of Princeton University computer scientists, archaeologists in Greece will now be able to virtually reconstruct wall paintings that hold valuable clues to the ancient culture of Thera, an island civilization that was buried under volcanic ash more than 3,500 years ago. According to David Dobkin, the Phillip Y. Goldman ”86 Professor in Computer Science and dean of the faculty at Princeton, the new technology has the potential to change the way people do archaeology. “This approach really brings in the computer as a research partner to archaeologists,” said Dobkin, who got the inspiration for the project after a 2006 visit to the archaeological site of Akrotiri on the island of Thera, which in present-day Greece is known as Santorini. To design their system, the Princeton team collaborated closely with the archaeologists and conservators working at Akrotiri, which flourished in the Late Bronze Age, around 1630 B.C.E.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

New series - Stonehenge

Two years ago Timewatch set out to investigate a radical new theory that Stonehenge was a place of healing - a Bronze Age Lourdes. This resulted in the first dig in 50 years at the sacred site. Now Timewatch goes back to vaults to see if Prof Tim Darvill and Geoff Wainwright's theory of the healing stones of Stonehenge can bear up to modern day forensic science.

Saturday 27 September 8.05pm BBC TWO

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New series - Stonehenge

Two years ago Timewatch set out to investigate a radical new theory that Stonehenge was a place of healing - a Bronze Age Lourdes. This resulted in the first dig in 50 years at the sacred site. Now Timewatch goes back to vaults to see if Prof Tim Darvill and Geoff Wainwright's theory of the healing stones of Stonehenge can bear up to modern day forensic science.

Saturday 27 September 8.05pm BBC TWO

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The Amesbury Archer: pilgrim or magician?

The BBC Timewatch programme Stonehenge interprets the mysterious stone circles of Stonehenge as a temple built around 2,300 BC to which people came in search of healing. The Amesbury Archer is described as ‘one of most important archaeological discoveries in Britain.' He is called the Archer because of the stone arrowheads buried with him.

This man, who lived between 2470-2280 BC, died not far from Stonehenge. By then he was between 35-45, but isotope fingerprinting of his teeth showed he was born far away, probably in the Alpine area of central Europe. Near to him lay the grave of a younger man who was a relative. This man, his ‘Companion,' had been brought up in not far from Stonehenge, but as a child he may have travelled, perhaps even to central Europe.

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Greens of the Bronze Age explored

The environmentally-friendly lifestyles of our ancestors are to be explored during next month's Highland Archaeology Festival.

The Archa'ECO'logy event will be led by staff at Bettyhill's Strathnaver Museum, which has artefacts from the Bronze Age.

Other festival events will look at former coffin and funeral trails, deserted crofts and military roads.

The festival, supported by Highland Council, runs from 4-19 October.

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Breakthrough Iron Age finds

A CREMATION pit containing a human jaw bone and animal bones is one of a treasure trove of finds on an archaeological dig.

Other discoveries include a perfectly preserved hearth and worked bone, shell and pottery artefacts.

Archaeologists say the finds promise a breakthrough in understanding the pre-historic Hebridean.

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Medieval village unearthed in archaeological dig at Taunton Deane

The long lost medieval settlement of Playstreet in Taunton Deane first came to light when tantalising traces of buildings and boundaries were spotted from the air by TV archaeologist Mick Aston.

At first glance the field, tucked away the middle of the rolling Staple Fitzpaine countryside, looks like any other following a recent harvest – a blank canvas awaiting its next crop.

But across the dark clay is a hive of activity as a team of devoted diggers led by archaeologist and Neroche community history officer Tanya James are hard at work opening up trenches and peeling back the baked surface of soil for the first time in search of clues to the settlement that aerial photographs from 1977 and local records suggest was on this spot.

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Rare knife uncovered from ancient Swedish tomb

Swedish archaeologists have been captivated by a Bronze Age knife which was uncovered along with other artifacts from an excavation site near Falbygden in central Sweden.

The knife was discovered at the Firse Sten tomb in Falköping and is in remarkably good condition, despite having been buried for thousands of years.

“It’s a knife blade which ends in a handle that looks like the throat and head of a horse,” said antiques expert Peter Jankavs from Falbygdens museum to Sveriges Radio.

The knife was found near the entrance to a 5,000-year-old tomb, although the knife itself is thought to be about 3,000-years-old, since the Stone Age burial site was later re-used by people from the Bronze Age.

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Uncovering Namibia's sunken treasure

A team of international archaeologists is working round the clock to rescue the wreck of what is thought to be a 16th Century Portuguese trading ship that lay undisturbed for hundreds of years off Namibia's Atlantic coast.

It was found in April when a crane driver from the diamond mining company Namdeb spotted some coins.

The project manager of the rescue excavation, Webber Ndoro, described the find as the "the most exciting archaeological discovery on the African continent in the past 100 years".

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Stonehenge as A&E unit is a revelation that druid mumbo jumbo can't match

I knew God was a Trotskyite. Cern's absurdly oversold answer to the who-is-God question was snuffed out in Switzerland last week by a celestial helium leak. Don't dabble with the big bang: the curse will get you.

Meanwhile, who-are-we questions are being answered as never before - and at a fraction of the cost. Archaeologists excavating at Stonehenge, for the first time in half a century, are rewriting the map of British prehistory. Once again it is our old friend, Preseli bluestone, that is hero of the hour. Its glories shall not go unsung.

Wainwright and Darvill might sound like a pair of Yorkshire undertakers, but the two professors have long been testing their thesis that the secret of this great monument lies in its most sensational feature: the inner circle of bluestones from the bleak Preseli mountains in Pembrokeshire. Most come from a specific 3km slope on Carn Menyn, Wales's answer to Athens' Pentelicon.

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Brandenburg hat ein neues Archäologisches Landesmuseum

Seit dem 25. September hat das Land Brandenburg offiziell ein neues Archäologisches Landesmuseum. 1990 musste die Dauerausstellung im Museum für Ur- und Frühgeschichte Potsdam aus konservatorischen Gründen im Schloss Babelsberg geschlossen werden. Nun endlich präsentiert sich Brandenburgs Archäologie im Paulikloster in der Stadt Brandenburg.

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Neuer Chefarchäologe beim LWL

Der Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) hat einen neuen Chefarchäologen. Am heutigen Freitag votierten die Kommunalpolitiker im LWL einstimmig für Prof. Dr. Michael Maria Rind.

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Were the huge stones transported all the way from West Wales?

The stone pillars of Stonehenge are natural columns of white spotted dolerite and occur only in the Preseli Hills’ Carn Menyn area.

They were first identified as of Welsh origin by Dr John HH Thomas in 1923.

Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a “band of brothers” found near Stonehenge and scientists have proved they were Welsh, suggesting it was people from Pembrokeshire who actually transported them.

The skeletons, three adults, a teenager and three children, were found by workmen laying a pipe on Boscombe Down and chemical analysis of their teeth revealed they were brought up in the South West Wales area.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Life Found In Ancient Tombs

Life has been discovered in the barren depths of Rome's ancient tombs, proving catacombs are not just a resting place for the dead. The two new species of bacteria found growing on the walls of the Roman tombs may help protect our cultural heritage monuments, according to research published in the September issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

The Catacombs of Saint Callistus are part of a massive graveyard that covers 15 hectares, equivalent to more than 20 football pitches. The underground tombs were built at the end of the 2nd Century AD and were named after Pope Saint Callistus I. More than 30 popes and martyrs are buried in the catacombs.

"Bacteria can grow on the walls of these underground tombs and often cause damage," said Professor Dr Clara Urzì from the University of Messina in Italy. "We found two new species of bacteria on decayed surfaces in the catacombs and we think the bacteria, which belong to the Kribbella group, may have been involved in the destruction."

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TV archaeologist is coming to Marlow

A well-respected TV archeologist is preparing to visit Marlow next week to give a lecture on the topic of Stonehenge.

Julian Richards, host of BBC 2 show Meet the Ancestors, is an expert in his field and has been invited to give an illustrated talk by the Marlow Archaeological Society on October 2.

Stonehenge, near Salisbury in Wiltshire, is an important World Heritage Site and consists of a number of free standing stones - each weighing up to 50 tonnes - positioned in a circle.

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Rare Viking ingot found

An ancient solid silver ingot found in Stagsden is stealing the limelight at Bedford Museum.

The Viking coin is the first of its kind discovered in the county and dates from AD 850-1000.

It was found by treasure hunters in the north Bedfordshire village last year, but has only just been bought by the museum following lengthy examination and valuation at the British Museum in London.

Jim Inglis, keeper of archaeology at Bedford Museum, said: "This is the only one to be found in Bedfordshire, and in terms of looking for Viking material in Bedford, which used to be a Viking town, it is very, very rare.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Neanderthals Ate Dolphins, Seals, Cave Remains Suggest

Neanderthals living in a pair of caves on the Mediterranean Sea regularly feasted on mussels, fish, and other types of marine life, according to a new study.

The finding suggests that Neanderthals actively foraged for seafood just like early modern humans, according to Clive Finlayson, an anthropologist at the Gibraltar Museum.

Neanderthals and modern humans are distinct species that split from a common ancestor several hundred thousand years ago.

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Tourist who found Stone Age axe rewarded £20,000

A British tourist who unearthed four Stone Age axes on a beach in Brittany has been put forward for a prize worth more than £20,000 by the Ministry of Culture for not keeping the treasure.

French experts have called the four axes, which Adam MacHale spotted in the sea off Petit Rohu beach and donated to France, an exceptional archaeological discovery.

Mr MacHale, 38, from Malvern, Worcestershire handed them in to authorities, and the neolithic pieces are now on display at the Carnac Museum of Prehistory in southern Brittany.

Curator Emmanuelle Vigier said: "Their attitude was that of good citizens."

They could be rewarded for not keeping the objects or selling them to a private collector with a prize worth £23,800 (€30,000)

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Ancient Whaling Station Has International Value

Archeologist Ragnar Edvardsson, project leader of the excavation of a Basque whaling station from the 17th century in the Strandir region on the coastline of the eastern West Fjords peninsula, says the remains are of international significance.

Edvarsson has been working on the project for the past four years and in summer the burial ground of the whale hunters was discovered, Morgunbladid reports.

The three main buildings of the whaling station have been excavated on the seashore of Steingrímsfjördur fjord: a station for melting whale fat, a workshop for building barrels for the whale oil and a building with a hearth where the whale hunters ate and slept.

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Assessing The Research Potential Of Grey Literature In The Study Of Roman England

The objective of the Roman Grey Literature Project is to assess the research potential of the grey literature in the understanding of Roman England. Stage 1 of the project addressed the grey literature of the whole of England, looking at questions such as: "how many investigations are finding Roman remains, and where?"; "are there any significant distributions in these remains, and if so why?"; "what types of remains are being found?"; and "how many of these investigations are reaching publication?". The project database is based upon data from the Archaeological Investigations Project (AIP) based at Bournemouth University, which has been enhanced by Cotswold Archaeology with information on publications. It lists all of the investigations recorded by the AIP which found Roman remains, and is searchable through queries such as type of investigation, location, publication and name. Two further stages are envisaged for the project, looking at smaller areas of the country in more detail.

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The Big Question: What do new discoveries tell us about the meaning of Stonehenge?

Archaeologists have recently excavated a small area within Britain's most famous Stone Age site and found evidence to suggest that Stonehenge was once a centre of healing, a sort of "Neolithic Lourdes" where people would come from far and wide in the hope of being cured of their ills. The scientists have also been able to date the construction of the first stone circle to between 2600BC and 2400BC. This would mean that the ring's original bluestones, carried to the site on Salisbury Plain from a quarry in South Wales, were put up about 300 years later than previously thought.

What is the evidence that Stonehenge was a healing centre?

It is not very straightforward, but then again nothing ever is with this mysterious ancient monument. The two archaeologists, Professor Tim Darvill and Geoff Wainwright, first of all noted the abnormal number of corpses found in tombs nearby Stonehenge that display signs of serious physical injury or disease. One of the most famous of these is the "Amesbury Archer" buried about two miles from Stonehenge. He is known to have originated from the Alps and had suffered a serious knee injury and a potentially fatal dental problem before he died.

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Cooking up visions of the past at Flag Fen event

ARCHAEOLOGY was in action at a recent cooking demonstration held at Flag Fen.

Volunteer Jacquie Lawson led the day and was helped by Carla Searle, the latest addition to the Flag Fen volunteering team.

Using soay lamb, which are bred on the site, and bog myrtle, an ancient herb used for cooking, Jacquie showed off some of the cooking techniques our ancestors would have used to create such dishes as a lamb stew and seaweed pudding.

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Italy returns long lost Parthenon fragment to Greece

Italy has returned to Greece the 'Palermo fragment', a marble piece of the Athens Parthenon missing for nearly 200 years, officials said Tuesday.

The sculpted fragment of the ancient Greek hunt goddess Artemis, part of the eastern Parthenon frieze depicting the twelve gods of Olympus, had been in the collection of the Antonio Salinas Archaeological Museum of Palermo.

Greece had sought to secure its return for 13 years, the Greek culture minister said.

The fragment depicts the goddess' right foot and part of her long robe.

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Romans 'brought leeks to Wales'

The Romans gave us roads, plumbing, wine and irrigation and now it seems they may have also introduced Wales' unofficial icon - the garden leek.

The National Museum of Wales says the Romans probably planted domesticated varieties to flavour their stews.

The museum has recreated a Roman-design garden at the National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon, near Newport.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The magic of Stonehenge: new dig finds clues to power of bluestones

A handful of scraps of charred wood and a little pile of stone chips - finds from the first excavation at Stonehenge in more than 40 years - have added thousands of years to the history of one of the world's most famous prehistoric monuments.

There was no gold or bronze, but to the archaeologists who led the excavation, Professors Tim Darvill and Geoffrey Wainwright, the unlovely heap of finds is real treasure. They are convinced the stone chips are evidence of belief in the healing power of the "bluestones" brought 150 miles from south Wales, which endured long after the monument was thought to have been abandoned.

The magical bluestone, spotted dolomite which when newly quarried is a dark blue speckled with brilliant white stars of quartz, made Stonehenge into the Lourdes of prehistoric Europe, they believe, or as Darvill put it yesterday, "the accident and emergency unit of southern England".

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Ancient axe heads donated to Manx Museum collection

ARTEFACTS believed to be 4,000-years-old discovered at Isle of Man Transport Minister David Anderson's farm in Patrick have been donated to the national museum collection.

The two copper axeheads and a blade were unearthed by a metal detector enthusiast Rob Middleton in a field at Ballamoar earlier this year.

They date from the early Bronze Age (2500 – 2150 BC) in a period sometimes called the Copper Age when metal working was in its infancy and was beginning to replace flint as the new, modern material.

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Library to share 14th-century royal cookbook online

Collection of recipes compiled by King Richard II's cooks among several works being digitised for viewing on internet

A rare medieval cookbook is to be digitally photographed page by page and the results uploaded to the internet for gourmands around the globe to study.

Forme of Cury, a recipe book compiled by King Richard II's master cooks in 1390, details around 205 dishes cooked in the royal household and sheds light on a little-studied element of life in the Dark Ages.

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Turkey's archaeological assets go online

A project that aims to create a complete list of all Turkey's archaeological treasures has been recently completed and the information has been published on the Internet for the use of researchers.

Oğuz Tanındı, project coordinator of the Turkish Archaeological Accommodations, or TAA, told the Anatolia news agency that they have provided 2,907 archaeological assets and 565 caves.

Tanındı said they traveled thousands of miles for the project, which they have been working on for the past 15 years, entering written information regarding Turkey's archaeological treasures into databases.

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Mysterious Neolithic People Made Optical Art

An egalitarian Neolithic Eden filled with unique, geometric art flourished some 7,000 years ago in Eastern Europe, according to hundreds of artifacts on display at the Vatican.

Running until the end of October at the Palazzo della Cancelleria in the Vatican, the exhibition, "Cucuteni-Trypillia: A Great Civilization of Old Europe," introduces a mysterious Neolithic people who are now believed to have forged Europe's first civilization.

Little is known about these people -- even their name is wrapped in mystery.

Archaeologists have named them "Cucuteni-Trypillians" after the villages of Cucuteni, near Lasi, Romania and Trypillia, near Kiev, Ukraine, where the first discoveries of this ancient civilization were made more than 100 years ago.

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Westray site is latest to produce Neolithic art

It’s been a fine summer for stone age artwork in Orkney.

After examples turning up almost daily at the Ness of Brodgar, now a large piece of decorated stone has been discovered at one of Orkney’s most threatened sites — the Links of Noltland prehistoric settlement, in Westray.

Returning to Westray, for the Historic Scotland sponsored excavation, was a team from Edinburgh-based EASE Archaeology. The archaeologists concentrated, this year, on the unusual structure discovered last year.

The exterior of this building had been carefully “decorated” using neatly-laid horizontal bands of masonry. While other houses of the period tended to be created with function, rather than looks, in mind, the Westray structure was built using dressed stone and was clearly meant to look impressive from the outside.

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Stonehenge Drew Ailing Pilgrims for Healing

first excavation of Stonehenge in more than 40 years has uncovered evidence that the stone circle drew ailing pilgrims from around Europe for what they believed to be its healing properties, archaeologists said Monday.

Archaeologists Geoffrey Wainwright and Timothy Darvill said the content of graves scattered around the monument and the ancient chipping of its rocks to produce amulets indicated that Stonehenge was the primeval equivalent of Lourdes, the French shrine venerated for its supposed ability to cure the sick.

An unusual number of skeletons recovered from the area showed signs of serious disease or injury. Analysis of their teeth showed that about half were from outside the Stonehenge area.

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Neanderthals had a taste for seafood

The last of the Neanderthals feasted on warmed mussels, baby seals and washed-up dolphins, according to fossil hunters working in ancient seaside caves in Gibraltar.

Excavations in the giant Gorham's and Vanguard caves on the Rock's eastern flank unearthed flint stone tools and remnants of seafood meals alongside the long-dead embers of hearths, which have been carbon-dated to around 28,000 years ago.

The findings suggest that Neanderthals who lived in the caves exploited the plentiful resources that the Mediterranean shoreline provided, and may help explain why groups living in Gibraltar clung on to life while those elsewhere became extinct around 7,000 years earlier.

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Neanderthals ate seafood and had sophisticated palates

Neanderthals clubbed seals and ate dolphins and other seafood to survive in what was thought to be their last holdout before they were driven to extinction.

The evidence that they had more sophisticated tastes than their caveman image, dining on seafood, suggests comes from Gibraltar, from Vanguard Cave and Gorham's Cave, where the last group ended up some 26,000 years ago.

This was the last of a mighty Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) empire that once stretched from Asia to Western Europe from as much as 300,000 years ago, thriving on the cold of ice ages in woodlands where they hunted with heavy spears.

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Neanderthals 'enjoyed broad menu'

It seems Neanderthals enjoyed a wide range of foods - a much broader menu than had previously been supposed.

Excavations in caves in Gibraltar once occupied by the ancient humans show they ate seal and dolphin when they could get hold of the animals.

There are even indications that mussels were warmed to open their shells.

The findings, reported in the journal PNAS, give the lie to the popular view that Neanderthals ate a diet utterly dominated by meat from land animals.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Archaeologists to 'shed new light' on secrets of Stonehenge

Archaeologists who carried out a historic dig at Stonehenge will "shed new light" on the World Heritage site today.

Professors Timothy Darvill and Geoffrey Wainwright are to reveal preliminary findings of an ambitious project which involved the first dig inside the stone circle in 44 years.

A trench was excavated in March as part of a bid to establish the precise dating of the Double Bluestone Circle, the first stone structure built there thousands of years ago.

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Stonehenge birthdate discovered by archaeologists

Archaeologists have discovered Stonehenge's birthdate, solving one of the historic site's longstanding mysteries.

The monument's original stones were erected in about 2300 BC, it has been discovered - 300 years later than had previously been thought.

Analysis has indicated that the original circle of bluestones was transported to the site from the Preseli hills, 150 miles away in South Wales - an extraordinary feat.

The finding came in an ambitious project, involving the first dig inside the historic stone circle for 44 years.

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Scholar claims to find medieval Jewish capital

A Russian archaeologist says he has found the lost capital of the Khazars, a powerful nation that adopted Judaism as its official religion more than 1,000 years ago, only to disappear leaving little trace of its culture.

Dmitry Vasilyev, a professor at Astrakhan State University, said his nine-year excavation near the Caspian Sea has finally unearthed the foundations of a triangular fortress of flamed brick, along with modest yurt-shaped dwellings, and he believes these are part of what was once Itil, the Khazar capital.

By law Khazars could use flamed bricks only in the capital, Vasilyev said. The general location of the city on the Silk Road was confirmed in medieval chronicles by Arab, Jewish and European authors.

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Stonehenge may have been an ancient Lourdes

British researchers think pilgrims congregated at the monument to have their wounds and illnesses healed.

British researchers think they have solved the decades-old mystery of why ancient Britons transported massive rocks 250 miles from Wales to Salisbury Plain to construct the massive but enigmatic Stonehenge monument: They believed the stones possessed healing powers.

A variety of archaeological evidence, including results from the first excavation inside the monument in nearly half a century, also suggest that the first stones were placed at least 200 years later than previously believed and that the Romans may have altered the stones during their occupation of Britain.

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Dig pinpoints Stonehenge origins

Archaeologists have pinpointed the construction of Stonehenge to 2300 BC - a key step to discovering how and why the mysterious edifice was built.

The radiocarbon date is said to be the most accurate yet and means the ring's original bluestones were put up 300 years later than previously thought.

The dating is the major finding from an excavation inside the henge by Profs Tim Darvill and Geoff Wainwright.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008


Location: Colorado Length: 5 min.

Camp Amache in Southeastern Colorado was one of 10 War Relocation Authority, or internment, camps where US authorities forced Japanese-Americans to live after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in World War II. Home to nearly 7,300 internees from 1942 to 1945, it now is a National Historic Landmark. In 2008, Dr. Bonnie Clark of the University of Denver led a field school at the site, which is threatened by bottle-collecting and cattle-grazing. One highlight of the season was a visit by a former internee who found there a poignant memento of his past.

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Animated Bayeux Tapestry

This is a clever and amusing animation of the second part of the Bayeux Tapestry (from Harold’s coronation to his death in battle).

The animation was prepared by David Newton, a freelance graphic designer.

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One thousand year old Danish shield discovered

Danish archaeologists say they have found a well-preserved Viking shield that is more than 1,000 years old. Archaeologist Kirsten Christensen said the wooden shield has a diameter of 80 centimetres (32 inches). It was found Tuesday during excavations near Viking-age castles, some 100 kilometres west of Copenhagen.

Christensen said Thursday it is the first time such a shield has been found in Denmark. She said the moist soil in the area is "ideal to preserve wood."

The fir shield is believed to date from the late 10th century. Danish Vikings launched bloody raids along the coasts of Western Europe about 1,000 years ago and even occupied parts of England.

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Roman refugees built Venice, reveals ancestor city

Scientists have unearthed the hidden ruins of an ancient lagoon town in Rome that was the ancestor of the city of Venice, and have revealed that Venice was built by refugees from Roman cities, who were driven out of their homes from barbarians. Venice was a powerful maritime power during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It seemed, however, an unlikely spot to choose for a leading world power, stretching across 118 small islands in the marshy saltwater Venetian lagoon.

Historians agree that the explanation is that Venice was founded on the islands by refugees from Roman cities such as Ravenna, Padua and Aquileia as they fled from invasions, first by Attila the Hun in the 5th century and then, a century later, by the Lombards, as the final remnants of the Roman Empire crumbled. According to a report in the Times, Paolo Mozzi, a researcher at the University of Padua geography department, said that high-definition satellite photographs had revealed the ruins of an extensive town much closer to present day Venice at Altino - known in Roman times as Altinum - a little more than seven miles north of the city, close to Marco Polo airport.

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Medieval Towns of Monmouthshire - conference on October 11th

Usk Castle Friends will be hosting an unusual conference on October 11 in a joint venture with Monmouthshire Antiquarians Association.

“We are delighted to be able to join with this prestigious local organisation,” said chairman Virginia Hoselitz. “This year's conference will be on the mediaeval towns of Monmouthshire. In a departure for us, it will be an all-day conference, and we have managed to attract many excellent speakers.”

Aside from Usk, the featured towns will be Monmouth, Chepstow, Trellech, Abergavenny and Newport. President, Jeremy Knight, will lead with a talk on Usk and Montgomery and other speakers include local experts Frank Olding, Keith Underwood, Ray Howells, Steve Clarke and Bob Trett. Also giving us the benefit of their expertise will be Professor Ralph Griffiths and Tony Hopkins.

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Docu-Drama Movie on Icelandic Sagas Premieres

Austrian-produced docu-drama Ragnarök – Myths and Sagas of the North will premiere in the Viking Village in Hafnarfjördur next Friday, September 26, at 6 pm. Those who dress up as Vikings pay no entrance fee.

The premiere is followed up with an Icelandic tour and the film has also been released on DVD.

In Nordic mythology ragnarök means "apocalypse," which is the general theme of the film. A virtual storyteller from the early middle ages describes the beginning of the world, the origin of the gods, the creation of man and the apocalypse – ragnarök.

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2,000-year-old lovers

Archeologists have uncovered the 2,000-year-old skeletons of a woman and man embracing each other during an excavation in the ancient city of Laodicea in southwestern Turkey.

Professor Celal Şimşek, dean of the Pamukkale University Faculty of Arts and Science and head of the excavation, said the discovery at Laodicea demonstrated that love and hate were able to survive throughout the ages. Şimşek said the team's aim was to preserve the grave and display the finding in a museum.

“We learned about the traditional internment of the dead and discovered gifts in the grave,” he said. “The last thing we discovered were skeletons of a man and woman hugging each other. The woman and the man must have loved each other very much because they wanted to be buried together in order to have the same love in the afterlife.

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Off-road biking for ancient site

A former landfill site which is also an Ancient Scheduled Monument could be turned into an off-road biking area.

The site in Dane Valley Road, Broadstairs, Kent, is currently used illegally for off-road biking and fly-tipping, Thanet District Council said.

The authority has received requests for it to be turned into an official motor biking area, Councillor Jo Gideon said.

But she said Anglo-Saxon remains were found there in the 1970s and some "may still be present".

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Research pushes back crop development 10,000 years

Until recently researchers believed the story of the origin of agriculture was one of a relatively sudden appearance of plant cultivation in the Near East around 10,000 years ago spreading quickly into Europe and dovetailing conveniently with ideas about how quickly language and population genes spread from the Near East to Europe. Initially, genetics appeared to support this idea but now cracks are beginning to appear in the evidence underpinning that model.

Now a team led by Dr Robin Allaby from the University of Warwick have developed a new mathematical model that shows how plant agriculture actually began much earlier than first thought, well before the Younger Dryas (the last "big freeze" with glacial conditions in the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere). It also shows that useful gene types could have actually taken thousands of years to become stable.

Up till now researchers believed in a rapid establishment of efficient agriculture which came about as artificial selection was easily able to dominate natural plant selection, and, crucially, as a consequence they thought most crops came from a single location and single domestication event.

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ISU researchers developing 3-D virtual archeological Web site

An online, three-dimensional archeological collection of Arctic animal bones being created at Idaho State University will be an important tool for researchers worldwide from a variety of academic backgrounds.

Furthermore, this effort helps “democratize” science for Arctic research and it showcases an unusual, if not unique, interdisciplinary research collaboration, namely between the ISU Department of Anthropology and the ISU College of Business.

Robert Schlader, ISU Idaho Virtual Laboratory manager, works on the VZAP project.
Herbert Maschner, Ph.D., ISU anthropology research professor, and Corey Schou, Ph.D., professor and director of the ISU Informatics Research Institute and associate dean of the ISU College of Business, are teaming up with Matthew Betts, Ph.D., curator of Atlantic Provinces Archaeology at the Canadian Museum of Civilization and a former postdoctoral researcher at ISU.

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Tracing urban development in ancient Pompeii

During SF State's first archeological field school in Pompeii this summer students unearthed a preserved drain pipe and its contents from the first century -- evidence that will provide clues about the urban development of Pompeii.
A photograph of a student removing soil in an archeological dig as part of San Francisco State's archeological field school in Pompeii.

Led by Assistant Professor of Classics Michael Anderson, students spent seven weeks in Pompeii, the Italian city buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the first century, where they were exposed to cutting-edge technology and archeological search techniques.

"The season went very well and the students had a marvelous time" Anderson said. "We cleaned two areas down to the level of the 79 C.E. eruption and dug one test trench where we found a first century drain pipe and its contents. This will be useful for reconstructing the activities of the shop that was on that site."

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Viking Age Triggered by Shortage of Wives?

During the Viking Age from the late eighth to the mid-eleventh centuries, Scandinavians tore across Europe attacking, robbing and terrorizing locals. According to a new study, the young warriors were driven to seek their fortunes to better their chances of finding wives.

The odd twist to the story, said researcher James Barrett, is that it was the selective killing of female newborns that led to a shortage of Scandinavian women in the first place, resulting later in intense competition over eligible women.

"Selective female infanticide was recorded as part of pagan Scandinavian practice in later medieval sources, such as the Icelandic sagas," Barrett, who is deputy director of Cambridge University's McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, told Discovery News.

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Discovery of Bronze-Age `Refrigerators' Expands Homer's Troy

The remains of two outsized earthenware pots, a ditch and evidence of a gate dating back more than 3,000 years are changing scholars' perceptions about the city of Troy at the time Homer's ``Iliad'' was set.

The discoveries this year show that Troy's lower town was much bigger in the late Bronze Age than previously thought, according to Ernst Pernicka, the University of Tubingen professor leading excavations on the site in northwestern Turkey.

His team has uncovered a trench 1.4 kilometers long, 4 meters wide and 2 meters deep. The full length of the trench, which probably encircled the city and served a defensive purpose, may be as much as 2.5 kilometers, Pernicka said in an interview in his office in Mannheim, Germany. Troy may have been as big as 40 hectares, with a population as high as 10,000, he estimates.

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Archaeologists find medieval artefacts on Mt. Visocica, disparage pyramid seeker

Summer excavations at Bosnia and Herzegovina's Mt. Visocica yielded results, but not the kind an entrepreneur turned amateur archaeologist was looking for. Semir Osmanagic, a US businessman of BiH origin, has invested large amounts of his own money in a personal quest to unearth what he says are Europe's first pyramids.

His claims have not yet been corroborated. Instead, an archeological team said over the summer that it has unearthed significant artefacts from a more recent era. These include eight pieces of Gothic architectural carvings and parts of glass vials dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries, imported from Venice and principalities of today's Germany, as well as numerous pieces of ceramic. They have also found 20 silver objects dating from the 15th-century.

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Europäisches Romanik Zentrum eröffnet Sitz in Merseburg

Das Europäische Romanik Zentrum (ERZ), ein An-Institut der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, hat mit der Übergabe der sanierten Räumlichkeiten am gestrigen Donnerstag, 18. September 2008, seinen Sitz in der Domklausur zu Merseburg eröffnet.

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Georgi Kitov, 65: Archaeologist brought Thrace to life

Georgi Kitov, a Bulgarian archaeologist whose discoveries helped illuminate the culture of ancient Thrace, but whose methods – especially using bulldozers and backhoes – appalled his more meticulous colleagues, has died in Starosel, Bulgaria.

He was 65.

The cause of his death last Sunday was a heart attack, said the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the state news agency reported.

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Mathematical model pushes back crop development by 10,000 years

A new mathematical model has shown how plant agriculture actually began much earlier than first thought, pushing back crop development by 10,000 years.

A team led by Dr Robin Allaby from the University of Warwick in the UK developed the model.

Until recently, researchers believed the story of the origin of agriculture was one of a relatively sudden appearance of plant cultivation in the Near East around 10,000 years ago spreading quickly into Europe and dovetailing conveniently with ideas about how quickly language and population genes spread from the Near East to Europe.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ruins Of Temple Of Athena Found In Bodrum

BODRUM - Ruins of the Temple of Athena have been found in the popular resort town of Bodrum in western Turkey.

In an interview with the A.A, Profesor Adnan Diler, who leads the archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Pedasa, said, "we found the Temple of Athena, one of the most important works of arts in Anatolia, in Konacik hamlet in Bodrum. The findings we have unearthed so far showed that we finally found ruins of the temple belonged to the civilization of the Leleges around the 6th century B.C."

"We found walls of the temple and an inscription. Our excavations will continue to bring the temple into daylight," Diler added.

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The New Antiquarians: 50 years of archaeological innovation in Wessex

In 2008, CBA Wessex is celebrating its 50th year. To mark this occasion, we are pleased to announce a major two-day conference "The New Antiquarians: 50 years of archaeological innovation in Wessex" to be held at the Ordnance Survey conference centre in Southampton on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd November 2008.

The aim of the conference is three-fold: to review the significant advances that have taken place in the past 50 years; to outline current thinking and to speculate where the next half century could lead us and to help promote our continuing outreach programme and other activities. The conference is broken down into eight sessions, covering a range of periods and specialist areas.

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Hi-tech future for ancient Roman town

Technology is often employed to bring exhibitions to life, but as David Reid found out, one museum has gone one step further by using it to replace all its displays.

The Virtual Museum of Archaeology (or MAV), which opened this summer, is based on the ancient Roman town of Herculaneum and is sited 100 metres from the ruins of the former settlement.

The creators of MAV aim to digitally reconstruct the destroyed town and recreate what life there was like.

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Saxon graves found in Lakenheath

Some 450 graves have been found in Lakenheath after a discovery during recent roadworks.

The find of three Saxon graves has helped to define the size of one of the largest burial grounds in Suffolk, which has been part of a 10-year study by the archaeological services at Suffolk County Council.

During the last six to nine months, Jo Caruth, senior project officer for Archaeological Services, said the team have been monitoring roadworks taking place in RAF Lakenheath as the area was known for its ancient discoveries.

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Greek dig unearths secrets of Alexander the Great's golden era

It would be more than 100 years at least until Alexander the Great led the forces of Macedonia to conquer the Hellenistic world.

But, even in its early days, the Greek kingdom's warriors were already an imposing sight on the battlefield.

A dig in an ancient burial ground in Alexander's birthplace of Pella, northern Greece, has unearthed the graves of 20 warriors in battle dress, a find which archaeologists say sheds fresh light on the development of Macedonian culture.

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Newfoundland Viking site remarkable

More than 1,200 years ago, Vikings from Norway set out on a series of daring voyages that would eventually result in their being the first Europeans to explore the east coast of North America. In stages they established settlements in the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and finally Newfoundland and Labrador.

Though we passed through an area around the capital of Nuuk, that would have been near the former Viking "Western Settlement," ruins or reconstructions were either not easily accessible or part of the itinerary.

The most famous Viking ruins can be seen at the former "Eastern Settlement" on the southwest tip of Greenland, near the present-day towns of Narsaq and Qassiarsuk. Here is found Brattahlid, the farm Eric the Red established in 986, as well as reconstructions of the bishop's residence at Gardar and Hvalsey Church.

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Fishbones reveal our ancient transport secrets

Old fish bones and dead insects could be the key to the story of Ireland's transport system, 500 years before gridlock.

The fish bones, insect carcasses and dead plant material are wedged in the timbers of a medieval boat recovered from the river Boyne, near Drogheda.

The boat has now been lifted from the river-bed and the Department of Environment is looking for experts who will be able to unravel the story from minute remains left in the vessel.

The "Drogheda Boat" was discovered during dredging operations in the river and carbon dating of some of the timbers suggest it is at least 500 years old.

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Archaeologists unearth 12th century abbey

Hundreds of years of history came to light in Abbeytown after archaeologists unearthed the remains of a 12th-century abbey.

A team of volunteers painstakingly pieced together some of the buried secrets of Holme Cultram Abbey last week during a 12-day dig.

The abbey was founded in 1150 by the Cistercian Monks from Melrose Abbey on the Scottish Borders. It grew to be larger than Carlisle Cathedral in the 15th century.

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New Viking grave find in central Sweden

Six grave sites dated from late in the Viking era have been uncovered in Lännäs outside of Örebro in central Sweden.

The graves were discovered during an archeological examination ahead of the building of a new parish house beside the Lännäs cemetery, writes the Nerikes Allehanda newspaper.

Several artifacts were recovered from the graves, including bronze and iron objects, as well as a unique set of glass beads.

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Orkney's Christian Viking Heritage

The Old Man of Hoy, the famous 140m rock stack that rises out of the sea in the Isles of Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland, is well known as a magnet for adventurous climbers. Less well known until now, however, was that people lived atop some of these rocky towers, far above the sea and separated from the island.

Recent excavations have uncovered part of an unconventional Viking Age village on the top of another Orcadian sea stack known as the Brough of Deerness, lying at the eastern extremity of Mainland, Orkney’s principal island. At 30m high and 80m across, it is an unexpected place to find a 10th to 12th-century church surrounded by the foundations of approximately 30 other buildings.

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Stonehenge Partiers Came From Afar, Cattle Teeth Show

Prehistoric cattle remains found close to Stonehenge suggest that partying pilgrims brought the animals from afar, scientists report.

The remains support a theory that the megalithic monument near Salisbury, in southern England, drew ancient peoples from distant regions to celebrate important feast ceremonies. And the feasts, it seems, were movable.

Cattle slaughtered during ritual festivities at the site may have come from as far away as Wales, Jane Evans of the United Kingdom's Natural Environment Research Council announced this week at the British Association Festival of Science in Liverpool.

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Cyprus dig finds 'very rare' ancient coffin

NICOSIA, Cyprus – Cyprus' top archaeologist says a chance dig has unearthed a “very rare” 2,500-year-old marble sarcophagus in the shape of a woman.

Antiquities Department director Pavlos Flourentzos says the coffin found at a construction site in the southern coastal town of Larnaca has a “strong classical Greek influence.”

Flourentzos said Friday the coffin's rarity rests on the fact that the marble used to build it was imported because none exists on the Mediterranean island.

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Kimmirut site suggests early European contact

Vikings - or perhaps other Europeans - may have set up housekeeping and traded with Inuit 1,000 years ago near today's community of Kimmirut.

That's the picture of the past emerging from ancient artifacts found near Kimmirut, where someone collected Arctic hare fur and spun the fur into yarn and someone else carved notches into a wooden stick to record trading transactions.

Dorset Inuit probably didn't make the yarn and tally sticks because yarn and wood weren't part of Inuit culture at that time, said Patricia Sutherland, an archeologist with the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

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Stone-age pilgrims trekked hundreds of miles to attend feasts

Animal remains at a site near Stonehenge suggest neolithic people from as far away as Wales brought their own livestock to barbecue at cultural events

Stone age people drove animals hundreds of miles to a site close to Stonehenge to be slaughtered for ritual feasts, according to scientists who have examined the chemical signatures of animal remains buried there.

The research suggests that Neolithic people travelled further than archaeologists had previously realised in order to attend cultural events.

Durrington Walls is a stone-age village containing the remains of numerous cattle and pigs which are thought to have been buried there after successive ritual feasts. The site is two miles north east of Stonehenge and dates from around 3000 BC, 500 years before the first stones were erected.

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Over 1,400 ancient graves found in Greek metro dig

Archaeologists in Greece have unearthed more than 1,400 ancient graves and tombs during excavation work for a new metro in the northern city of Salonika, the culture ministry said on Thursday.

The graves and tombs spanned an 800-year period from the fourth century BC to Roman times in the fourth century AD.

The finds range from humble pits and altar tombs of stone to marble sarcophagi, the ministry said.

One in five burial sites were found to contain offerings including Roman-era gold coins from Persia, jewellery made of gold, silver and copper, clay vessels and glass perfume-holders.

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Myth world: ancient Babylon visits Britain

A tower which has haunted the imagination of artists and writers for thousands of years will rise again in the first exhibition devoted to the art, archaeology and dreams of ancient Babylon.

"When we asked people about Babylon many weren't quite sure whether it was a real place or a kind of fairytale, but what they had heard of was the Tower of Babel and the Hanging Gardens," said Irving Finkel, curator of the British Museum exhibition. "We have lavish evidence for one and not a scrap for the other, but we'll do our best."

The exhibition will recreate a lost city renowned for its engineers and mathematicians but also for its magicians and dream interpreters, with displays including brilliantly-coloured tile panels of lions and dragons taken from the great processional way towards the towering Ishtar gate.

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History centre open day

TV ARCHAEOLOGIST Julian Richards is one of the attractions at this year’s annual Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre open day.

Visitors will have the opportunity to see behind the scenes at the centre in Cocklebury Road, Chippenham on September 27 as well as talk with county archaeologists and handle artefacts going back 250,000 years.

The doors are open from 9.30am to 5.30pm and the Meet the Ancestors celebrity will give a talk at 2pm.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Neanderthals Conquered Mammoths, Why Not Us?

They may have been stronger, but Neanderthals looked, ate and may have even thought much like modern humans do, suggest several new studies that could help explain new evidence that the early residents of prehistoric Europe and Asia engaged in head-to-head combat with woolly mammoths.

Together, the findings call into question how such a sophisticated group apparently disappeared off the face of the Earth around 30,000 years ago.

The new evidence displays the strengths and weaknesses of Neanderthals, suggesting they were skilled hunters but not as brainy and efficient as modern humans, who eventually took over Neanderthal territories.

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10,000-year-old body may be oldest found here

MEET Pauleen, the name archaeologists have given to the remains of a young woman they believe could be the oldest Irish body ever discovered.

The ancient body, which has been named Pauleen, was discovered during an excavation at Caherconnell Stone Fort in Co Clare on Saturday, just metres away from the world famous Poll na mBrón dolmen.

The excavation team, led by Crusheen-based TVAS Ireland, have so far uncovered Pauleen’s complete skull, rib bones, spine, pelvis and her right arm. The remains were lifted on Sunday and have been sent for radiocarbon dating. It is estimated they could be 10,000 years old.

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Roman bones at park-and-ride site

A team of archaeologists in Leicestershire have uncovered several ancient bodies at the site of a new park-and-ride development.

Excavations are continuing in Enderby after the discovery of what is thought to be a small Roman rural cemetery.

The skeletons were found close to the former Fosse Way Roman road.

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Coming to your desktop: virtual submarine that will allow access to Europe's sunken wrecks

Archaeologists are creating a permanent digital record of shipwrecks around European coasts. By recording the precise 3D arrangement of timbers and cargo from the wrecks the researchers aim to preserve the information they contain about past civilisations even if the wrecks are damaged or destroyed.

Scientists and members of the general public would in future be able to float over the wrecks in a virtual submarine from the comfort of their own desks. For researchers, this would allow them to explore the wreck and make decisions about future excavations without spending large amounts of money going out to sea.

So far the €2.2m Venus (Virtual Exploration of Underwater Sites) project, which involves 11 different institutions across Europe, has created a digital representation of two shipwrecks; one a Roman ship dating from around AD200 off the island of Pianosa near the Tuscan coast and the other, the Barco da Telha, a pre-18th century vessel that sank off the Portuguese coast near Sessimbra. There are already plans to begin mapping another Roman wreck off Marseilles.

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Dead Sea Scroll in Stone published in English for the first time

Dead Sea Scroll in Stone published in English for the first time. Several months ago, a significant splash was made in the academic community by Biblical scholar Israel Knohl of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, whose interpretation of an ancient text caused scholars to look at early Christianity and Judaism in a different light. Dr. Knohl’s research has concluded that certain passages indicated that there had been a precedent for the three-day death and resurrection paradigm. His research may be a new chapter in the study of the relationship between Jewish and Christian messianism.

Professor Knohl’s findings were first announced at the Israel Museum’s conference in early July. However, just this month he has published his research and his full translation of the text in the United States. His article and translation can be found in the current issue of the Biblical Archaeology Review (September/October 2008), published by the Biblical Archaeology Society.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Neanderthals Grew Fast, but Sexual Maturity Came Late

Live fast, die young—this is how our closest relatives the Neanderthals were traditionally thought to progress through life.

But a new study of Neanderthal skeletons suggests the species grew quickly but reached sexual maturity later than so-called modern humans—and quite possibly survived to a ripe old age.

The study also suggests that Neanderthals had a harder time of child bearing and possibly child raising. As a result, modern humans may have simply outbred their heavy-browed rivals.

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Wyre Neolithic Excavation Blog

We are now nearly two weeks into this year’s excavations at the Braes of Ha’Breck on Wyre, with a further two weeks to go.

We spent the first week deturfing the two trenches by hand – a painstaking task but well worth it, as we found four polished stone axe heads just in the topsoil!

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Seabed archaeology goes virtual

People will soon be able to operate their own virtual submersibles to explore hidden treasures at deep underwater archaeological sites.

Shipwrecks and their priceless cargoes remain under threat from erosion, deep-sea trawling activity and looting.

The Venus project team has generated 3D digital records of underwater European shipwrecks that can act as a permanent record of these sites.

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Scientists invent software to explore shipwrecks

A computer simulation developed in Hull which allows people to explore the underwater remains of shipwrecks has been unveiled.

Computer scientists at the University of Hull have created a 3D simulator which people can navigate under the waves to get a virtual glimpse of sunken ships and their cargo.

It is part of an £1.8m EU-funded programme, called "Venus", to digitally map the layout and contents of shipwrecks before they get damaged or disappear.

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Novices dig up rare bronze bowl in western Sweden

Amateur archeologists digging near Skrea hill outside Falkenberg have unearthed a unique artifact.

The find, a 2000-year-old bronze vessel, was uncovered at a Bronze Age grave site by members of the public who had been invited to participate in the dig.

The vessel also contained bits of charred bone, which are believed to be from humans, writes the Halland Nyheter newspaper.

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UN threatens to act against Britain for failure to protect heritage sites

The UN is threatening to put the Tower of London on its list of world heritage sites in danger after its experts accused the UK of damaging globally significant sites such as Stonehenge, the old town of Edinburgh and the Georgian centre of Bath, the Guardian has learned.

Unesco, the UN's cultural agency, has told ministers in London and Edinburgh that it wants urgent action to protect seven world heritage sites which it claims are in danger from building developments, and said in some cases the UK is ignoring its legal obligations to protect them.

Their complaints range from decisions to approve new tower blocks in central London, such as the 66-storey "shard of glass" at London Bridge, to the failure to relocate the A344 beside Stonehenge despite promising action for 22 years, to a proposed wind farm which threatens neolithic sites on Orkney.

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Neanderthal Brains Grew Like Ours

A new study has found that Neanderthal brains grew at much the same rate as modern human brains do, knocking down the idea that they grew faster in a style considered more primitive.

The recent discoveries of two very young Neanderthal skeletons, as well analysis of a little-studied infant Neanderthal skeleton, allowed the researchers to trace how quickly the species' skulls grew.

The results showed a greater similarity than expected between modern humans and Neanderthals, a hominid species that lived in Europe and Asia between 130,000 and 30,000 years ago.

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»Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde« nach 4 Jahrzehnten abgeschlossen

Internationale Tagung vom 11. - 13. September 2008

Nach jahrzehntelanger Arbeit ist ein enzyklopädisches Grossprojekt der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, das "Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde", mit 35 Bänden abgeschlossen worden. Das Lexikon ist trotz des etwas altertümlich anmutenden Titels und obwohl es in gedruckter Form in Zeiten von Internet und Wikipedia erscheint, ein unentbehrliches Hilfsmittel für Archäologen, Historiker, Philologen und viele andere. Es richtet sich als enzyklopädisch angelegte Zusammenschau modernster interdisziplinärer und internationaler Altertumsforschung an den Fachwissenschaftler, ist aber auch für einen Laien gewinnbringend.

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Mankind and womankind alike, have been adorning themselves with jewellery almost from when time began, ‘well at least from decorative arts first meant anything’! Jewellery was also perhaps the earliest means (in one form or other) for mankind to appease, create and cement relationships, in addition as a means also to show off his status and wealth. In fact Archaeologists from Oxford recently discovered what is thought to be the oldest examples of human decorations in the world.

Headed by Oxford University’s Institute of Archaeology, an international team, discovered shell beads that are believed to be 82,000 years old within a limestone cave in Morocco. The Institutes director Professor Nick Barton said: “Bead making in Africa was a widespread practice at the time, which was between cultures with different stone technologies, by exchange or by long distance social networks”.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Heritage in danger: 'UK is too keen on prestige development at expense of heritage'

Severin Carrell reports that Unesco is warning Britain to better protect its architectural heritage

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Melting Swiss Glacier Yields Neolithic Trove

Some 5,000 years ago, a prehistoric person trod high up in what is now the Swiss Alps, wearing goat leather pants, leather shoes and armed with a bow and arrows.

The unremarkable journey through the Schnidejoch pass, a lofty trail 9,000 feet above sea level, has been a boon to scientists but it would never have emerged if climate change were not melting the nearby glacier.

So far, 300 objects dating as far back as the Neolithic or New Stone Age -- about 4,000 B.C. in Europe -- to the later Bronze and Iron Ages and the Medieval era have been found in the site's former icefields.

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Olives and People, Past and Present

Some of ARCHAEOLOGY's most interesting articles over the past few years have been about the research of Adelphi University's Anagnostis Agelarakis. A physical anthropologist with human remains as his specialty, Agelarakis is a first-class scientist yet doesn't lose sight of the fact that the bones he studies were once part of living human beings. Readers of the magazine and website may recall "Fallen Heroes" (March/April 2000), a preview of the study of bones from a public grave in Athens from the Peloponnesian War; "Warriors of Paros" (January/February 2005), an examination of clues from soldiers' burials to the rise of Classical Greek city-states; and "Artful Surgery" (March/April 2006), about evidence of a skilled surgeon who practiced centuries before Hippocrates.

In addition to his university career, Agelarakis has, with his wife, started producing olive oil near Rethymno on Crete. Their main product is a first cold pressing premium extra virgin olive oil made from olives grown on the slopes of mount Ida in their Northern Mylopotamos (Mill River) olive groves.

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Saxon grave 'couple' may have been two men

Archaeologists have unearthed the mysterious remains of what first appears to be a couple buried together arm in arm more than 1,000 years ago.

The amazing discovery shows the "couple" laying side by side in the grave with one's arm across the other.

But the discovery has left experts with a 1,000-year-old mystery.

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All hands on deck to save sunken historic galleon, the HMS London

When Charles Trollope, an internationally renowned expert on historic ordnance, arrived at the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson, Hampshire, to view five cannon salvaged from the sea, he came to a stark conclusion.

An historic site had apparently been stripped of valuable artefacts by an independent diving team and an important piece of Britain’s heritage was soon to be put up for sale.

So began a fight to save one of the bronze cannon, whose provenance is still in dispute, and to protect the remains of HMS London, a 17th-century warship, from the expeditions of profiteering salvage companies.

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Roman villa may be buried in Northampton

Experts believe the remains of a Roman villa could be unearthed if a housing development in Northampton is allowed to be built.

The London-based Paddington Churches Housing Association has applied to build 108 new homes on wasteland in Booth Rise, Boothville.

In documents submitted with the group's plans for the land, experts from the Museum of London Archaeology service have said further evidence of a villa originally found during the 1930s could be unearthed.

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Roman settlement uncovered in UK

An American archaeologist has uncovered the foundations for a Roman settlement on east Cleveland coast in the United Kingdom.

According to a report in The Northern Echo, archaeologist Steve Sherlock has found a 1,600 year-old site for creating jet jewellery, with the help of volunteers from the Teesside Archaeological Society.

Sherlock's latest discovery comes a year after he uncovered evidence of Anglo-Saxon royalty in a farmer's fields near Loftus.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Tree rings may hold key to burial site

Tree rings could help solve the mystery behind centuries-old remains dug up in Preston.

Bones of up to 30 people and parts of coffins were unearthed by builders working on a new hotel in Marsh Lane, Preston, last year.

Archaeologists who carried out a dig on the site are submitting an application to English Heritage this month to secure funding for more analysis.

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Dig uncovers possibility of tannery

A MASS of animal bones found on the Kinecroft in Wallingford could indicate that the town had a hitherto unknown tannery on the site.

The dig by the universities of Oxford, Exeter and Leicester found the bones of cattle and other farm animals - and the experts said there could have been a tannery on what would have been the edge of the town, kept away from the centre because tanning is a smelly business.

The excavators worked on sites on Kinecroft, Bullcroft and Castle Meadows as part of an ongoing Burh to Borough mapping of the town's development from Norman through Saxon and medieval times.

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Archaeological digs at Smarden

SMARDEN'S hidden history is about to be unearthed. More than 20 teams of amateur archaeologists will be descending on the village this weekend hoping to uncover some historical secrets in what is being called The Big Smarden Dig. Organiser Alex Ferris said: "This all began about three years ago when English Heritage came to Smarden and took village children out for some fieldwork. They picked up about 400 historical artefacts in a ploughed field."

This led to curious English Heritage experts to examine a map of the village to try and ascertain what it may have once looked like. Mr Ferris continued: "There has long been this unproven theory the Romans were here. In the parish, people are starting to find iron workings which are Roman. That rewrites the history books in a way because old history books tell you that nobody lived here then."

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Hengoed medieval hall to be open to the public

AN OLD farmhouse which is believed to contain the oldest timber recorded in any building in the British Isles is to be open to the public.

Hengoed, an early 15th century cruck hall house has been dated as having been constructed between 1438 and 1447 but was only "discovered" in 2005. The wood used in the construction, however, was about 500 years old at that time.

For over 100 years the old hall on the outskirts of Ruthin had been used an agricultural building, the main residence having been moved across the farmyard to the site of the present farmhouse. That is one of the reasons why it is so well preserved.

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Roman Empire 'raised HIV threat'

The spread of the Roman Empire through Europe could help explain why those living in its former colonies are more vulnerable to HIV.

The claim, by French researchers, is that people once ruled by Rome are less likely to have a gene variant which protects against HIV.

This includes England, France, Greece and Spain, New Scientist reports.

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Vladimir Monomakh Seal Discovered in Novgorod

A lead seal has been recently found during archeological excavation in Veliki Novgorod. It belonged to legendary Prince Vladimir Monomakh, scientists presume.

The seal bears a depiction of St. Basil of Caesarea on one side and a benevolent Greek language description on the reverse side, Head of Archeological Research Centre Sergei Troyanovsky informs.

“Of all Russian princes who had the Christian name of Basil, historians know Vladimir the Baptizer and his grandson Vladimir Monomakh. After some demure the specialists chose the latter one, because similar Monomakh’s seals had been found in Novgorod, Staraya Ladoga and Ukraine before” – the archeologist said.

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Melting Swiss glacier yields Neolithic trove, climate secrets

Some 5,000 years ago, on a day with weather much like today's, a prehistoric person tread high up in what is now the Swiss Alps, wearing goat leather pants, leather shoes and armed with a bow and arrows.

The unremarkable journey through the Schnidejoch pass, a lofty trail 2,756 metres (9,000 feet) above sea level, has been a boon to scientists. But it would never have emerged if climate change were not melting the nearby glacier.

So far, 300 objects dating as far back as the Neolithic or New Stone Age -- about 4,000 BC in Europe -- to the later Bronze and Iron Ages and the Medieval era have been found in the site's former icefields.

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Archaeologists find unique 7000-year-old statue

Masovice, South Moravia, Sept 4 (CTK) - Czech archaeologists have uncovered a torso of a unique female statue created about 7000 years ago near Masovice, which is the second similar find in this locality, Zdenek Cizmar, head of the archaeological research, told CTK Thursday.

The woman's statue found in the area last summer was given the name "Hedvika of Masovice," while "her sister" is called "Johanka," according to the female names in the calendar on the days when the artifacts were found, Cizmar added.

"Though the statues come from the same period, each of them is different and exceptional," Cizmar said.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Roman settlement unearthed in field

AN archaeologist has uncovered the foundations for a Roman settlement on the picturesque east Cleveland coast.

Steve Sherlock, whose painstaking work in a farmer's fields near Loftus uncovered evidence of Anglo-Saxon royalty last year, has returned to the site - and been able to go even further back in time in the latest dig.

Mr Sherlock, who has been helped by volunteers from Teesside Archaeological Society, was thrilled and surprised by the look-out station, discovered just inches below the surface.

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Archaeological dig confirms Roman presence in Moray

Ball pin head, a dagger and pieces of harness among artefacts found

ARCHAEOLOGISTS and volunteers at the Birnie dig site, near Elgin, have uncovered more evidence of the Romans’ presence in Moray.

The team, led by Fraser Hunter, curator at the National Museums of Scotland, is excavating two 2,000-year-old roundhouses.

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Grid computer recreates ancient Greek lute

Researchers have harnessed the awesome power of grid computing to answer one of the great mysteries facing mankind: what exactly does an epigonion sound like?

At the risk of stating the obvious, an epigonion is a stringed instrument plucked by the ancient Greeks, and there aren't many around these days. To recreate the sound, a model of the instrument was built up from pictures and archaeological evidence, and this data was fed into ASTRA - Ancient instruments Sound/Timbre Reconstruction Application - which creates the sound.

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Symbolic past of early Aegeans revealed at Dhaskalio Kavos site

A rocky islet and a nearby hillside have yielded evidence of one of Greece’s oldest and most enigmatic ritual sites. Imported stones and fragmented marble statuettes show that Dhaskalio and Kavos were “a symbolic central place for the Early Bronze Age” in the Aegean, according to Professor Colin Renfrew.

Kavos is a stony, scrub-covered slope on the Cycladic island of Keros. Forty-five years ago Professor Renfrew, then a PhD student at Cambridge, found extensive looting there, with fragments of marble bowls and the famous Cycladic folded-arm figurines scattered across the surface.

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Stonehenge 'was hidden from lower classes'

Archeologists have uncovered the remains of what they believe to be a 20ft fence designed to screen Stonehenge from the view of unworthy Stone Age Britons.

The wooden construction extended nearly two miles across Salisbury Plain more than 5,000 years ago, and would have served to shield the sacred site from the prying eyes of ordinary lower-class locals.

Trenches have been dug around the monument, tracing the course of the fence which meanders around the stone circle.

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Putting a face to the past

What do Johann Sebastian Bach, Saint Nicholas, and the firstborn son of Pharaoh Rameses II all have in common?

The answer? All their faces have been reconstructed using cutting-edge computer technology.

Dr Caroline Wilkinson is a forensic anthropologist, recreating faces from human remains for archaeological and police investigations - bringing the past to life.

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Archaeologists fear for the past as weather alters

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are warning climate change not only poses a threat to future generations but could also damage the past by destroying remains dating back to the Bronze Age.

A conference at Bradford University has been discussing the damage global warming has done to sites of archaeological interest across the north Atlantic.

Rising sea level, coastal erosion, changing weather patterns and melting ice sheets has meant evidence of Viking settlements is being lost.

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Archeological dig unearths old woman in Poland

The remains of a 30-year-old woman were found today at an archeological excavation in Pinczow, in the Swietokrzyska region, southern Poland.

The body, identified as female, dates back 6,500 years.

The director of the dig, Przemyslaw Duleba, from the Institute of Archeology at the University of Warsaw, stated that this is the oldest discovery every to be found in this region. "The skeleton of the young woman is perfectly preserved and laid on her left side in an
embryonic position."

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Underwater forest surveyed

Divers are surveying a submerged forest in central Scotland that could be more than 6,000 years old.

Divers are surveying a submerged forest in central Scotland that could be more than 6,000 years old. The Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology has been examining the 50 trees in Loch Tay, Perthshire, and trying to find any evidence of human life near the trees, which date back to 4270 BC.

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Roman fort is found in the Lake District

A Roman camp, said to be of national significance, has been discovered on the outskirts of Keswick.

The discovery, near the famous Castlerigg Stone Circle, is thought to date back to the first century and has solved a mystery spanning hundreds of years.

Historians always predicted there was a Roman presence in the Keswick area and now the underground remains of an ancient structure the size of eight football pitches has been found.

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The Viking and Anglo-Saxon Landscape and Economy (VASLE) Project

In the last fifteen years the role of metal-detected objects in the study of Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Scandinavian England has greatly increased through reporting to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and the Early Medieval Corpus (EMC). There are now thousands more artefacts and coins known than a decade ago which, in conjunction with fieldwork, have the potential to revolutionise our understanding of the early medieval period.

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