Friday, October 31, 2008

Technological innovation may have driven first human migration

Technological innovation is more likely to have spurred the first modern humans to migrate out of Africa than climate change, according to a study that has accurately dated sophisticated stone tools made by our ancestors.

Scientists have long argued about the forces that drove the transition to modern human behaviour after our species evolved in Africa up to 280,000 years ago.

Most scholars agree that Homo sapiens passed a threshold between 60,000 and 80,000 years ago, with evidence for more complex technology, ornaments and symbolic art turning up in the archaeological record. Human genetics research also suggests that the population expanded markedly during this time.

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'Time teams' hit by housing woes

Archaeologists in Lincolnshire are suffering redundancies as a result of the credit crunch.

Firms in the Lincoln area are having to lay off staff and think of contingency plans because of the effects of the recession.

The problems have arisen because many archaeology companies are heavily dependent on construction work, which has declined dramatically this year.

Naomi Field, director of Lindsey Archaeological Services, said archaeology is 'a very sensitive barometer of the economic climate'.

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'Floating ramp' to preserve North East Wales hillfort

VITAL work has been carried out to prevent erosion damage to a historic hillfort.

As part of a lottery-funded project, footpath improvement and erosion control work has been completed at the Moel Arthur hillfort on the Clwydian Range.

A "floating ramp" is being built over the large earth banks to help protect them from damage.

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Ancient iceman probably has no modern relatives

"Otzi," Italy's prehistoric iceman, probably does not have any modern day descendants, according to a study published Thursday.

A team of Italian and British scientists who sequenced his mitochondrial DNA -- which is passed down through the mother's line -- found that Otzi belonged to a genetic lineage that is either extremely rare or has died out.

Otzi's 5,300-year-old corpse was found frozen in the Tyrolean Alps in 1991.

"Our research suggests that Otzi's lineage may indeed have become extinct," Martin Richards of Leeds University in Britain, who worked on the study, said in a statement.

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Neue Forschungsallianz zur Erhaltung des kulturellen Erbes

Zur Gründung der "Forschungsallianz Kulturerbe" haben die Präsidenten der Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft und der Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SPK) am Dienstag, den 28.10.2008 im Alten Museum (Museumsinsel Berlin) ein "Memorandum of Understanding" unterzeichnet.

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Candy Facts: Halloween Treats Stem From Ancient Recipes

Trick-or-treaters reaching for individually wrapped candy bars this Halloween probably won't stop to wonder about the origins of their sugary treats.

But for anyone with a taste for adventure, the holiday could be an ideal time for a sweet history lesson, as a remarkable number of bygone confections can still be bought or made.

For instance, "most medieval sweets are still around in some form or another," said Tim Richardson, author of Sweets: A History of Candy.

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'Exceptional' Roman coins hoard

One of the largest deposits of Roman coins ever recorded in Wales, has been declared treasure trove.

Nearly 6,000 copper alloy coins were found buried in two pots in a field at Sully, Vale of Glamorgan by a local metal detector enthusiast in April.

After the ruling by the Cardiff coroner, a reward is likely to be paid to the finder and landowner.

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Temple of Artemis to revived once more in Selçuk

The Temple of Artemis was built in the seventh century BC. But according to myth a madman set it on fire 400 years later. But as Christianity began to spread throughout Anatolia, a Christian ecclesiast outlawed the cult of Artemis in the fifth century. The temple was destroyed during the early period of Christianity in Anatolia. Artemis, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, will be rebuilt in Selçuk in present day Turkey

The Temple of Artemis, or Artemision in Greek, recalled in both Greek and Byzantine anthologies for its magnificence, was once one of the Seven Wonders of the World. After decades of vandalism, religious conflict and decay it is finally to be rebuilt.

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Thousands of Roman coins found in field at Sully

THOUSANDS of Roman coins discovered in a South Wales field have been declared “treasure”.

The 5,913 pieces make up the biggest haul of its kind ever recorded in Wales and it is hoped they will now go on display at the National Museum Wales, Cardiff.

The 1,700-year-old coins were found on land near Sully – a coastal village better known for the dinosaur footprints on its beach.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Flag Fen: Family Day celebration

On Saturday, 1st November 2008 Flag Fen Archaeology Park and Bronze Age Centre is holding a Family Day in celebration of words and storytelling.

The 1st of November, known as Samhain, was an important date in ancient times that marked Summer's End.

Also celebrate the last day open of the season, The Chief Bard of the Fens, Robin Herne will be telling some gory tales and there will also be storytelling for the under fives and children's activities.

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NEARLY 30 bodies including a baby believed to be 1,000-years-old were discovered in unmarked graves during renovation works at a church.

The last of 29 bodies, unearthed at St Peter and St Paul's Church, Swanscombe during digging work to drain the earth, was discovered on Monday.

Archaeologist Guy Seddon said the church dates back to Saxon times and that a baby found in an unmarked grave by the church tower could date back 1,000 years.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Vikings' burning question: some decent graveside theatre

The average Viking lived a life in which spirituality and thoughts of immortality played a far more important part than the rape and pillage more usually associated with his violent race, according to new research. A study of thousands of excavated Viking graves suggests that rituals were performed at the graveside in which stories about life and death were presented as theatre, with live performances designed to help the passage of the deceased from this world into the next.

Neil Price, Chair of Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen, who will be presenting his findings at a lecture at the university tonight, believes that these rituals may have been the early beginnings of the Norse sagas, which told stories about men and gods in the pagan world. He said that close study of the graves and the artefacts they contained, as well as contemporary accounts of Viking funerals, presented a far more complex picture of their lives than the simple myth of the Viking raider.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Location: Greece Length: 14 min.

In 1901, sponge divers found an extraordinary mechanism on the sea bottom near the island of Antikythera. It astonished the whole international community, stumping scientists for decades. Was it an astrolabe, an astronomical clock, or something else? More recent research is revealing its secrets. Dating from around the 1st century B.C., it is the most sophisticated mechanism known from the ancient world. The Antikythera Mechanism operated as a complex mechanical "computer" to track the cycles of the Solar System.

Watch the video...

Warning London could face problems with Olympic flame if Parthenon Marbles not handed over to Greece

A GREEK academic has claimed that London 2012 could face problems when it comes to the lightening of the Olympic flame if the British Museum does not hand over the Parthenon Marbles (pictured) to Greece by then.

The Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marables, are a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural members that originally belonged to the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens.

Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803, claimed to have obtained permission from the local authorities to remove pieces from the Acropolis.

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29 bodies found in unmarked graves at Swanscombe church

TWENTY-NINE bodies have been discovered in unmarked graves during renovation work at a church.

St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Swanscombe Street, Swanscombe, has been undergoing a £275,000 transformation since August.

Drainage work meant its cemetery had to be dug-up and in the process the bodies in unmarked graves were found, with the first discovered at the end of August and the 29th on Monday (October 27).

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Wales protects its Iron Age hill forts

Six spectacular Welsh Iron Age hill forts are being protected as part of a scheme costing 1.5 million pounds.

As part of a Heritage Lottery funded project, footpath improvement and erosion control work has been carried out at Moel Arthur hillfort on the Clwydian Range.

A floating ramp is being built over the large earth banks to help protect them from damage.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Balkan Heritage Field School

Projects in 2009:

Country: Bulgaria
July 4 - 18, 2009 (field school session dates). Excavation of an early Christian monastery-stronghold next to Varna on Black sea.

Country: Bulgaria
July 19 - August 16, 2009 (season dates). 2 field school sessions available. Rescue excavation of the multi-period (Roman, Late Antique and Medieval) site underneath contemporary town of Stara Zagora, Bulgaria.

9-23 May, 2009 and 3-17 October, 2009. 2 field school session available. An expediition to some abandoned West Bulgarian medieval churches and chapels (in bed condition) to document frescoes preserved inside.

Country: Macedonia
July 4 - August 2, 2009 (season dates). 2 field school sessions available. Excavation of the ancient (Hellenistic, Roman, Late Antique) town Heraclea Lyncestis in Bitola, Macedonia.

Country: Bulgaria
June 7-20, 2009. This workcamp is to support the maintenance of Mezek village archaeological sites (a Thracian tombs and medieval fortress) in the three borders area (Bulgaria-Greece-Turkey).

Find more details on the Balkan Heritage Field School Website...

Why did Neanderthals have such big noses?

The Neanderthal's huge nose is a fluke of evolution, not some grand adaptation, research suggests.

The Neanderthal nose has been a matter of befuddlement for anthropologists, who point out that modern cold-adapted humans have narrow noses to moisten and warm air as it enters the lung, and reduce water and heat loss during exhalation.

Big noses tend to be found in people whose ancestor's evolved in tropical climates, where a large nasal opening helps cool the body.

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Sensational Stone Age discovery

A young couple walking along Horsens Fjord in August this year made a sensational discovery – a 5-7,000 year old stone with a scratched motif.

The 13x10x4 cm. limestone shows a man with an erect phallus and two fish. Archaeologists at Horsens museum were taken aback, and immediately passed the stone on the National Museum to determine whether the motif was indeed from the Stone Age or simply a later work of art using an ancient style.

Ertebølle Culture
“But now we’re sure. We believe the stone to be from the Ertebølle Culture between 5,400 and 3,900 BC. It’s the sort of discovery that is only made once a decade,” says Horsens Museum Archaeologist Per Borup.

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Fire out of Africa: a key to the migration of prehistoric man

The ability to make fire millennia ago was likely a key factor in the migration of prehistoric hominids from Africa into Eurasia, a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology believes on the basis of findings at the Gesher Benot Ya’aqov archaeological site in Israel.

Earlier excavations there, carried out under the direction of Prof. Naama Goren-Inbar of the Institute of Archaeology, showed that the occupants of the site – who are identified as being part of the Acheulian culture that arose in Africa about 1.6 million years ago -- had mastered fire-making ability as long as 790,000 years ago. This revelation pushed back previously accepted dates for man’s fire-making ability by a half-million years.

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World's Oldest Cooked Cereal Was Instant

European diners around 8,000 years ago could enjoy a bowl of instant wheat cereal that, aside from uneven cooking and maybe a few extra lumps, wasn't very different from hot wheat cereals served today, suggests a new study that describes the world's oldest known cooked cereal.

Dating from between 5920 to 5730 B.C., the ancient cereal consisted of parboiled bulgur wheat that Early Neolithic Bulgarians could refresh in minutes with hot water.

"People boiled the grain, dried it, removed the bran and ground it into coarse particles," lead author Soultana-Maria Valamoti told Discovery News.

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Excavated burials reveal the Viking world-view

Research into pagan Viking burials has provided an Aberdeen academic with new revelations into the way the early Norse led their lives and their attitude towards mortality.Studies led by Professor Neil Price, Chair of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, exploring thousands of excavated graves known from the Viking world, revealed that no two of these burial monuments were the same.

Research into pagan Viking burials has provided an Aberdeen academic with new revelations into the way the early Norse led their lives and their attitude towards mortality.

Studies led by Professor Neil Price, Chair of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, exploring thousands of excavated graves known from the Viking world, revealed that no two of these burial monuments were the same.

The research also showed that Viking funerals involved complex elements of mortuary theatre – ritual plays which were literally performed at the graveside.

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Vikings preferred male grooming to pillaging

The Vikings are traditionally known for leaving destruction in their wake as they travelled around Europe raping, pillaging and plundering.

But Cambridge University has launched a campaign to recast them as "new men" with an interest in grooming, fashion and poetry.

Academics claim that the old stereotype is damaging, and want teenagers to be more appreciative of the Vikings' social and cultural impact on Britain.

They say that the Norse explorers, far from being obsessed with fighting and drinking, were a largely-peaceful race who were even criticised for being too hygienic.

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Researchers dig up the dirt on father of Protestantism

German scientists have reconstructed an extraordinarily detailed picture of the domestic life of Martin Luther, the 16th-century reformer and father of Protestantism, by trawling through his household waste uncovered during archaeological digs on sites where he used to live.

Beer tankards, grains of corn, cooking pots, even his toilet are among the finds dug up during the five-year project in the three places in Germany he spent his life. The items include his wife's golden wedding band, a collection of 250 silver coins and the medicines used to treat his various ailments from angina to constipation.

But some finds have upset the Protestant church in Wittenberg where the ex-monk lived with his wife, the ex-nun Katharina von Bora, and their six children.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Swedish archaeologists find Iron Age wooden artifacts

A team of archaeologists digging near the planned expansion of a roadway have uncovered 1,700 year old artifacts made of wood, making them some of the oldest man-made wooden objects over discovered in Sweden.

The find was made near Älvängen in western Sweden and provides additional clues about how farmers in the region lived during the Iron Age.

“We’ve found hundreds of wooden objects, including a wooden wheel. We’re coming much closer to the people of the Iron Age [with this find]; we’re really getting up close and personal,” said Bengt Nordqvist, an archaeologist from the Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) to the TT news agency.

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Roman wall found find at Minster school

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have made an important discovery at the former site of the Minster School in Southwell.

A team excavating the site have found a fully preserved 4ft wall in the eastern wing of a Roman villa. Investigations are continuing, but it is thought the wall dates from the Roman period.

"This is a thing of great beauty and a rare find that will provoke national archaeological interest,"said Notts County Councillor Steve Carroll, cabinet member for culture and regeneration.

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Ancient treasures go on display at town museum

A SILVER Viking neck ring and a hoard of medieval pennies are among the archaeological and metal-detecting finds that have gone on display at an East Riding museum.

The treasures and artefacts have been unearthed across the region and are now available for closer inspection at the Treasure House in Beverley.

The Viking neck ring was found at Stamford Bridge, while the pennies were discovered fused together by fire at a site in the village of Huggate.

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Greek dig unearths 6,000-year-old household gear

ATHENS, Greece - A 6,000 year-old set of household gear, including crockery and two wood-fired ovens, has been found in the buried ruins of a prehistoric farmhouse in northern Greece, officials said Thursday.

A Culture Ministry statement said the discovery "provides invaluable, unique information" on late Neolithic domestic architecture and household organization.

"This is a very rare case where the remains have stayed undisturbed by farming or other external intervention for about 6,000 years," the ministry statement said. "The household goods are in excellent condition."

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Datça to seek return of ancient sculptures

The town of Datça, in Muğla province, is planning to apply to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for the return of a sculpture known as the "Knidos Lion" and a statue of Demeter. The pieces are currently being exhibited at the British Museum in London.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, the mayor of Datça, Erol Karakullukçu, said they want to take back the carvings, which were found in the ancient city of Knidos near Datça and that they will petition the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for their return. Karakullukçu said, "In order to keep the public aware that these sculptures were made in Datça thousands of years ago, and that they were taken to be exhibited in Britain, we made marble replicas of the original sculptures and exhibit them at the city park."

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Easter Ross site yields clue in kirk riddle

Archaeologists believe they have found the missing link between a Pictish monastery and a 17th-century church on an important Christian site in Easter Ross.

There was previously no evidence of what happened on the site at Portmahomack, near Tain, between the 8th-century monastery and the later church, which is currently the home of Tarbat Discovery Centre.

But a carved sandstone fragment of a column, which has now been unearthed during work to replace a nearby water main, is decorated in the gothic style and believed to date from the 14th century.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Job gives Shona bird’s eye view of history’s hidden gems

AN archaeologist from York is on cloud line after landing a coveted job mapping historical treasures from the air.

Shona Williams, a University of York graduate, has won a place on a prestigious English Heritage training scheme based with its aerial survey team in York, which is busy mapping thousands of archaeological treasures across a vast swathe of the country.

The year-long opportunity aims to ensure archaeological skills are nurtured in a new generation, helping to protect and discover more of the nation’s priceless heritage.

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Novgorod Archeologists Find 12th Century Hoard

In the course of excavations in the historical centre of Veliki Novgorod, near the Monastery of the Dime archeologists have found hidden treasure of 22 European silver coins called denarii.

The thin, scale-like dinarii about one centimeter in diameter had been hidden under the base of a wooden utility structure, which experts have dated back to the early 12th century.

The hoard itself has also been tentatively dated to the same period.

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Britain's 'most important archeological' discovery found in desk drawer

Thousands of tiny gold pins which lay hidden in a desk drawer for 40 years have been described as one of Britian's most important archeological finds.

The artifacts were part of a dagger buried with a warrior chief, near Stonehenge, nearly 4,000 years ago.

Archeologists said they were known as 'the work of the gods'.

The pinhead-sized studs form an intricate pattern on the handle of a dagger, but archeologists failed to realise their significance when they excavated the burial mound in Wiltshire - known as Bush Barrow- in 1808.

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Archäologie-Ausstellung des LVR in Düsseldorf eröffnet

In der Wandelhalle des NRW-Landtags in Düsseldorf bietet sich ein ungewohntes Bild: Neben 390 Millionen Jahre alten Panzerfischen finden sich römische Raritäten wie ein kostbares Haarnetz oder die Funde aus dem jüngst ausgegrabenen Bonner vicus, die überraschende Einblicke in das Alltagsleben einer römischen Siedlung gewähren. Ein Münzschatz aus dem Dreißigjährigen Krieg ist ebenso vertreten wie ein 13.000 Jahre altes Steingerät mit einer Elchdarstellung.

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Highland archaeologist wins airborne training place

A Highland archaeologist will be taking to the air to map England’s heritage for posterity. Shona Williams, 29, of Newtonmore, has won a place on a prestigious training scheme operated by English Heritage.

She will be based in York with the agency’s aerial survey team, which is mapping thousands of archaeological treasures across a vast swath of northern and eastern England.

The year-long opportunity is offered under a scheme called English Heritage Professional Placement in Conservation, which aims to ensure archaeological skills are nurtured in a new generation.

It is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and managed by the Institute of Field Archaeology.

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New dig to 'discover' St Edmund

LITTLE is known about the ancient shrine to Suffolk's martyred saint.

But archaeologists hope a new high-tech survey currently underway in the heart of the abbey ruins in Bury St Edmunds will shed more light on the hidden history of St Edmund.

The Abbey Gardens is renowned for its beautiful flower beds but experts believe the historical secrets buried beneath the borders and manicured lawns could be equally astounding - particularly if they reveal more about England's former patron saint.

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Clue to medieval church uncovered

Archaeologists have found a carved sandstone fragment believed to be part of a medieval church in Ross-shire.

Highland Archaeological Services said the piece provided a link between an 8th Century monastery and 17th Century church at Tarbat, Portmahomack.

The remains were uncovered during Scottish Water's £3m project to replace mains pipes in the area.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Russians the first potters on earth?

Russian archeologists claim that the Russians were the first people on the planet to cultivate land, breed cattle and make earthenware.

Russian tribes inhabited Khabarovsk Region in the Stone Age, the archeologists said after finding a 15,000-year-old hunters' settlement on the bank of the Amur River in Khabarovsk.

Stone axes, knives, scrapers, arrowheads and baked earthenware have so far been unearthed in the area.

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The Big Question: What was the Holy Grail, and why our centuries-old fascination with it?

Because a new exhibition at the Royal Academy, which brings together hundreds of relics from more than 1,000 years of the Byzantine Empire, has stirred up renewed and fevered excitement over the idea that the Holy Grail is in town.

Curators spent five years bringing together a host of archaeological treasures including mosaics, jewellery, icons and manuscripts to create the first exhibition in Britain on Byzantine art in more than 50 years. But the item causing the most frenzied excitement is the Antioch Chalice, a sixth century silver cup on loan from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art which – to grail aficionados – is one of the most credible contenders to be the Holy Grail itself.

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Roman excavation site put on view

The site of an archaeological dig at a Kent Roman fort is to be opened to the public for just one weekend.

The recent excavation at Richborough Roman Fort, near Sandwich, uncovered the original coastline at the time of the Roman invasion of Britain.

A medieval dock, and fragments of pottery, were also found when a 295ft (90m) stretch of collapsed Roman wall was being excavated.

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Ancient jewels found in uni desk

Tiny gold studs thought to be almost 4,000 years old which had been unearthed close to Stonehenge have been found in a desk at Cardiff university.

The gold studs once decorated the handle of a Bronze Age dagger buried in the grave of a warrior at Bush Barrow, Wiltshire, between 1900 and 1700 BC.

They were dug up 200 years ago and loaned to the university in the 1960s.

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Roman columns found on riverbed

Trieste, October 21 - Nine Ancient Roman columns believed to have originally lined the most important Roman road into the Balkans have been discovered on a riverbed in northern Italy.

''This is an extraordinary find because of the number of columns and the inscriptions they bear,'' local archaeological authorities said.

The stone columns are believed to date back to the fourth century AD and some carry inscriptions relating to the emperors of that late stage in the Roman Empire.

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Britain's Oldest Toy Found Buried with Stonehenge Baby?

A carved animal figurine found buried alongside a prehistoric baby at Stonehenge may represent Britain's earliest known toy, researchers say.

The unique chalk relic of a hedgehog or pig, thought to be at least 2,000 years old, was unearthed in September near the stone monument on southern England's Salisbury Plain.

"Whether it's a hedgehog or a pig you can argue about, but I like the hedgehog idea myself," said the dig's co-leader, Joshua Pollard of the University of Bristol.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Archaeologists unearth place where Emperor Caligula met his end

Archeologists say that they have found the underground passage in which the Emperor Caligula was murdered by his own Praetorian Guard to put an end to his deranged reign of terror.

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (AD12–AD41), known by his nickname Caligula (Little Boots), was the third emperor of the Roman Empire after Augustus and Tiberius, and like them a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

His assassination was the result of a conspiracy by members of the Senate who hoped to restore the Roman Republic. However the Praetorian Guard declared Caligula’s uncle Claudius emperor instead, thus preserving the monarchy.

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Archaeologists rethinking history of 1,000-year-old Alaska village

Present-day findings could change the past of one ancient culture.

Researchers and an excavation team from Barrow were working on the site of a 1,000-year-old village called Nuvuk when they found Ipiutak artifacts.

The artifacts are the first evidence of Ipiutak activity to be found north of Point Hope, where most evidence of the Ipiutak culture has been found, said Anne Jensen, a senior scientist and general manager of UIC Science LLC.

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Medieval relic to be displayed in region

AN appeal to ensure a medieval relic goes on display in the area where it was discovered has reached a milestone.

The Richmondshire Museum, in Richmond, North Yorkshire, has raised £1,000 of the £3,800 it needs to buy a 14th Century silver seal matrix, which was discovered two years ago by treasure hunters in nearby Bromptonon- Swale.

Committee members at the museum say the remaining funding needed to buy the artefect from the British Museum, in London, will be met by a series of grants.

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Dig finds delight but ancient friary keeps its secrets

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed more secrets about Hull's past as they pave the way for a new waterfront development.

Members of Humber Field Archaeology are completing a three-month dig on the site of the former Bonus Electrical building near Humber Street, once a densely populated area of the Old Town.

But although they are delighted by the finds – including the possible location of the Humber Gate, a medieval entrance to the town – they have so far failed to discover Hull's first Carmelite friary, as hoped.

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Ancient Spindle with Runes Discovered in Reykjavík

A fracture of a spindle with a runic inscription was discovered in an archeological excavation near the Althingi parliament building in Reykjavík last week. It is believed to date back to the 11th century and may be the oldest runic inscription in Iceland.

Archeologist Vala Gardarsdóttir, who is in control of the excavation, told Fréttabladid that the discovery is of great significance. “What makes it so special is that it is the only runic inscription from that time that has been found in Iceland.”

“This find could tell us a lot about the development of runes in Iceland because it can prove to be an important piece of the puzzle. One could even say that we’ve discovered the missing link,” Gardarsdóttir said.

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Archaeologists from Mainz University uncover ancient governor's palace in Turkey

International excavation project discovers hitherto undisturbed cremation sites

Within the scope of an international rescue excavation project, a team of four archaeologists specialized in Middle Eastern affairs headed by Dr. Dirk Wicke (Institute of Egyptology and Ancient Oriental Studies) have unearthed parts of a Neo-Assyrian governor's palace dating back to 900-700 B.C. in a two-month excavation program amongst the ruins on Ziyaret Tepe Hill. The discoveries were extraordinary. The site in the south-east of Turkey (Diyarbakir province) is at risk from the construction of the Ilisu Dam. For several years now it has been investigated by teams from the universities of Akron (Ohio), Cambridge, Munich and Istanbul in a joint excavation project. Sponsorship from the research funds of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in 2007 and 2008 gave its archaeologists the opportunity to become involved in this international and multi-disciplinary project. There are plans to continue the project for another three years.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

The Highlands has history in spades

THE growing popularity of digging, often literally, into our past was illustrated over the weekend with a well-attended seminar at the Waterside Hotel in Inverness on the subject What’s New in Highland Archaeology?

The event was geared to provide a platform for archaeologists who have recently been working in the Highlands to present their findings. It also brought to a close the two-week Highland Archaeology Festival, presented by the Highland Council

There were 14 speakers over Saturday and Sunday for the Inverness seminar, with subjects ranging from the Laikenbuie ring cairn and the the Kinakyle excavations at Aviemore to “queer stones and structures on St Kilda” and the “Monastery of the Picts" at Portmahomack, Easter Ross.

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Bronze age 'treasure' found at gravel site

Another significant Bronze Age find has been unearthed at the Kingsmead Quarry in Horton.

Archaeologists believe that the item, known as a Picardy pin, dates back to around the 11th century BC and was originally used as a costume or hair pin.

The 20cm long pin was discovered as a result of an archaeological dig conducted by leading building materials provider, CEMAX UK, prior to mineral extraction of sand and gravel on the site.

Previous finds on the site have included arrowheads, flint tools, broken pottery and a bronze and leather working tool.

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Gold brooch find a first for Norfolk

The first example to be recorded in Norfolk of a very rare gold Roman brooch was found by a metal detector, it hasd been revealed.

Norfolk Museum and Archaeology Service (NMAS) is now keen to acquire the “significant” piece, which dates from the third or fourth century, in order to keep it in the county after it was found in a field in Gunthorpe.

Dr Andrew Rogerson, head of the Finds Identification and Recording Service within the NMAS said it was unique within the county and important in the context of our understanding of the late Roman period.

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Site has changed the map of Roman Worcester

THE map of Roman Worcester is changing beyond recognition as archaeologists continue to uncover the city’s past.

Before shovels hit the ground at the Butts Dig in Worcester in August, historians believed Roman Worcester was a small, sparse settlement.

But extraordinary finds at the site – where the city’s £60 million library and history centre will eventually be built – have revealed a Roman market town where industrial, commercial and domestic life flourished.

The footprint of a huge stone building has shown archaeologists that the area near to the river Severn was intensely occupied throughout the ages.

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Finding Hidden Tomb Of Genghis Khan Using Non-Invasive Technologies

According to legend, Genghis Khan lies buried somewhere beneath the dusty steppe of Northeastern Mongolia, entombed in a spot so secretive that anyone who made the mistake of encountering his funeral procession was executed on the spot.

Once he was below ground, his men brought in horses to trample evidence of his grave, and just to be absolutely sure he would never be found, they diverted a river to flow over their leader's final resting place.

What Khan and his followers couldn't have envisioned was that nearly 800 years after his death, scientists at UC San Diego's Center for Interdisciplinary Science in Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) would be able to locate his tomb using advanced visualization technologies whose origins can be traced back to the time of the Mongolian emperor himself.

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Rome reveals tombs of dark ages city

Workers renovating a rugby stadium have uncovered a vast complex of tombs beneath Rome that mimics the houses, blocks and streets of a real city, according to officials who have unveiled a series of new finds in the Italian capital.

The culture ministry said medieval pottery shards in the city of the dead, or necropolis, indicated the area may have been inhabited by living people during the Dark Ages having been used for centuries during the Roman period for burials.

It is not yet clear who was buried there, but archaeologists at the partially excavated site believe at least some of them were freed slaves of Greek origin.

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Archaeologists discover earliest ever foundations at Hampton Court Palace from 800 years ago

Archaeologists working at Hampton Court Palace have uncovered the earliest foundations ever found at King Henry VIII's famous royal residence.

The significant 13th century building remains predate any other finds made at the palace by nearly 200 years.

The unexpected discoveries were made during excavations as part of a project to recreate Henry VIII's Tudor 16th century courtyards.

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Sun reveals cross carved into stone slab on St Kilda

THE sun glancing sideways on a stone slab led to archaeologists working on St Kilda, the National Trust for Scotland’s dual World Heritage Site, making a fascinating discovery.

They spotted a cross inscribed on the slab that had previously gone unnoticed.

Staff from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) recently visited the island as part of a special project to investigate and record the rich variety of archaeological evidence that exists there.

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Rasna - die Etrusker

Dreimal Etrurien, drei Ausstellungen in einer werden vom 15. Oktober bis zum 15. Februar 2009 im Akademischen Kunstmuseum der Universität Bonn gezeigt.

Im Mittelpunkt stehen über 250 originale etruskische Fundstücke des 8. – 2. Jahrhunderts v. Chr., die ein umfassendes Bild dieses häufig als ‚rätselhaft’ bezeichneten Volkes bieten. Die meisten Objekte – von Skulpturen über Keramik bis hin zu Tonnachbildungen menschlicher innerer Organe – wurden bislang nie gezeigt und eigens für die Ausstellung restauriert. Die aufwändigen Rekonstruktionen eines großen Greifenkessels, einer Grabstatue und eines Grabhügels stehen im Mittelpunkt des Rundgangs.

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Archaeologists discover possible Roman site in Northwest Hungary

Archaeologists found a system of trenches built during two or three different historical ages near Rábapatona, Győr-Moson-Sopron County, reports local news portal It is not yet clear when and why the trenches were created.

Excavation works started six weeks ago at the location where a traffic intersection on Route 85 is planned to be built by 2010. The most peculiar discovery at the site is a circular trench which may be the remains of a 3,500-year-old mass grave. Another trench, which runs parallel to the road, may have been a drainage canal next to a medieval road.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Timbers from a Viking home found in Hungate dig

THE remains of a Viking home have been discovered in York by archaeologists.

York Archaeological Trust archaeologists have exposed what they believe to be a timber-lined cellar of a two-storey house, during excavations at the site of the new Hungate development, which is being built near Stonebow.

The archaeologists say the home, which was uncovered about three metres below street level, would have been built in the mid to late tenth century. It appears that ships’ timbers used in the building’s construction – the first discovery of its kind in York.

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2 Ears Struck Off: 12 Marks In Payment

A study of old Frisian compensation tariffs, a sort of bodily injury list, reveals just how strongly honour and body were linked to each other in the ideology of medieval Frisians. The research has given rise to a model of honour that can be used in many other cultures and eras.

This is the first study into the old Frisian culture of honour and, moreover, via a text genre that has received little attention to date: the compensation tariffs. Old Frisian compensation tariffs, which can best be compared to bodily injury lists, are lists of wounds to the human body and summaries of insults and material damage with the associated monetary compensation. A punch: 4 pence. Two ears struck off: 12 marks. With this system, the Frisians could end or prevent blood feuds by financially compensating injuries or insults that could be a cause of a vendetta.

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Burial of Mongol Yoke Period Discovered in Vladimir

Remains of people, who presumably perished during inroad of Mongol leader Batu Khan on Vladimir, were found yesterday not far from the well-known Golden Gates of Vladimir.

For almost eight centuries the remains had been lying in the ground unknown. According to the Chief Architect of Vladimir Archeological Centre Tatiana Mukhina, five skeletons were found.

The experts assume it was an Old Russian burial, judging by ceramics that was discovered during clearing of the mortal remains. The earthen ware probably can be dated to the early 13th century. All of them perished during one of the Mongol forays, most probably in fire.

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'Gladiator' tomb found

Rome, October 15 - The tomb of an Ancient Roman aristocrat believed to have inspired the hit film Gladiator has been found, Rome cultural authorities said Wednesday.

Parts of the tomb have been recovered but most of it is thought to have fallen into the Tiber, they said.

They named the ancient patrician as Marcus Nonius Macrinus, a proconsul who achieved major victories for Marcus Aurelius, emperor from 161 AD to his death in 180 AD.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Which way 'out of Africa'?

The widely held belief that the Nile valley was the most likely route out of sub-Saharan Africa for early modern humans 120,000 year ago is challenged in a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A team led by the University of Bristol shows that wetter conditions reached a lot further north than previously thought, providing a wet 'corridor' through Libya for early human migrations. The results also help explain inconsistencies between archaeological finds.

While it is widely accepted that modern humans originated in sub-Saharan Africa 150-200 thousand years ago, their route of dispersal across the hyper-arid Sahara remains controversial. The Sahara covers most of North Africa and to cross it on foot would be a serious undertaking, even today with the most advanced equipment.

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BBC's epic tale of Scotland – less first 3,000 years

IT IS the story of a nation, told from the middle. A History of Scotland, the BBC's landmark £2 million ten-part documentary, has been accused of ignoring 3,000 years of history to begin the epic tale, not with the prehistoric settlement at Skara Brae in Orkney, but with the arrival of the Romans.

The controversial series, which begins next month, has already seen one leading historian quit the advisory panel over scripts described as "Anglo- centric", while yesterday, Alastair Moffat, the broadcaster and historian, took issue with the programme-makers' definition of "history", which has led them to ignore the nation's rich heritage of prehistoric monuments and ruins.

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'Devils' trails' are world's oldest human footprints

It's official: the oldest human footprints ever found are 345,000 years old, give or take 6000. Known as the "devils' trails", they have been preserved in volcanic ash atop the Roccamonfina volcano in Italy.

The prints were first described to the world by Paolo Mietto and colleagues of the University of Padova in Italy in 2003 after amateur archaeologists pointed them out.

At the time, the team estimated that the prints were anywhere between 385,000 and 325,000 years old, based on when the volcano was thought to have last erupted.

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Roman mosaic near Srebrenica has been found

A mosaic floor from the Roman era, the largest ever to be found in the Balkans, was discovered by Bosnian archaeologists in Skelani, near Srebrenica, in the eastern part of Bosnia, media reported.

At a depth between 80 and 180 centimetres below the ground's surface, archaeologists discovered the ruins of buildings and streets of the Roman town, as well as the mosaic flooring that has been dated to the first century A.D. "

We have discovered the largest Roman mosaic ever to be found in the Balkans, and maybe even Europe", said the director of the local museum in Bijeljina, Mirko Babic, who heads the team of archaeologists.

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Did ancient river channels guide humans out of Africa?

The first humans to leave Africa didn't have to struggle over baking sand dunes to find a way out – instead they might have followed a now-buried network of ancient rivers, researchers say.

Chemical analysis of snail fossils suggests that monsoon-fed canals criss-crossed what is now the Sahara desert as modern humans first trekked out of Africa.

Now only visible with satellite radar (see an image), the channels flowed intermittently from present-day Libya and Chad to the Mediterranean Sea, says Anne Osborne, a geochemist at the University of Bristol, UK, who led the new study.

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1,700-year-old jewels uncovered in Ephesus

A tomb featuring intricate mosaics has been found in the archaeologically rich Selçuk district of İzmir. Archaeologists uncovered 55 skeletons buried in five graves and 18 pieces of delicate 1,700-year-old golden jewelry.

Austrian Archaeological Committee President Sabine Ladstatter said they found a variety of objects, including silk clothes with golden threads, but that the jewels in particular were a big surprise.

�The uncovered pieces have meticulous details so these graves surely belonged to upper-class people in Ephesus,� she said.

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Program Allows Virtual Tour of Ancient Roman Cologne

A team of archaeologists, scientists and software programmers has created a 3D virtual model of the city of Cologne as it was 2,000 years ago. Though not yet online, the software allows visitors to fly through the city in its Roman glory.

A new computer program will allow the curious to see Cologne, Germany's fourth-largest city, as it was almost 2,000 years ago, when it was a major northern outpost of the Roman Empire.

"Now, for the first time, people will be able to visualize what an amazing city Cologne already was in antiquity," said Hansgerd Hellenkemper, the director of the city's Romano-Germanic Museum.

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East - Work begins on A421 (M1 J13 to Bedford) improvements - 15/10/2008

The project to improve safety and cut congestion on the A421 in Bedfordshire will get underway on Tuesday 28 October 2008.

The project involves building a new eight-mile (13 km) stretch of dual carriageway on the northwest (Wootton) side of the existing A421, improvements to Junction 13 of the M1 and new two-level junctions at Marston Moretaine and Marsh Leys.

Work to prepare the way for building the new dual carriageway will begin with major construction work starting in the New Year. Users of the A421 will see the workforce on the ground clearing the site and carrying out archaeological work.

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Rare Roman tombstone goes on show

A Roman tombstone unearthed in Lancaster has gone on permanent display at the city's museum.

The tombstone, dating to around 100AD, was discovered in 2005.

It was found during an excavation in Aldcliffe Road by the Greater Manchester Archaeology Unit, which is based at the University of Manchester.

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Location: Virginia Length: 30 min.

Recent excavations at a number of sites, including Cactus Hill located along the Nottoway River in southwest Virginia, have provided new evidence and raised new questions about when people ventured into the Americas. For many years, archaeologists thought that people arrived approximately 11,500 years ago. However, stone artifacts, charcoal, and soil, plant and animal remains suggest human habitation at Cactus Hill at least 18,000 years ago, when much of the continent was under ice.


Location: Virginia Length: 30 min.

How are archaeologists solving history’s mysteries? What are archaeologists finding, how do they do their work using the scientific method, and what is the latest evidence about the people who lived here and knew this land before us? This program focuses on the archaeologists -- the "investigators" -- and how they are solving history's mysteries. Archaeologists are like history detectives; they look for clues to the way people lived in the past. In this program, learn how archaeologists use science and “lines of evidence” to piece history together.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Uncovering north's Christian past

A group of archaeologists are trying to establish if Norsemen brought Christianity to Caithness before St Columba arrived on Iona.

The question has arisen after a dig at an ancient church site at the coastal village of Dunbeath.

Pottery dating back to the 6th Century has recently been found in the area.

A University of Nottingham team is to carry out further exploration which they hope could show evidence of an even earlier Christian church.

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Traces of Hunting Magic Discovered in Altai Caves

Archeologists studying the area of the well-known Tavdinsky Caves in Altai assume that early people used to perform hunting magic there.

Back in 2005 three archeological layers were unearthed in this site giving evidence to the fact that from the Neolithic epoch already it was a cult place.

In the course of excavations of 2008 they enriched considerably the collection of finds dating to the Eneolithic, the final stage of Neolith. The set of tools is represented with numerous scrapers, cutters, and a hatchet.

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Archaeological Dig Uncovers Roman Mystery

Columbia archaeologists have dug up a mystery worthy of Indiana Jones, one that includes a tomb, skeletons and burial rites with both Christian and pagan elements.

This summer, Prof. Roger Wilson led excavations at Kaukana, an ancient Roman village located near Punta Secca, a small town in the south-eastern province of Ragusa in Sicily.

Combing through the sand-buried site, the 15-member team made a series of startling discoveries. Central to the mystery was finding a tomb inside a room in a house dating from the sixth century AD.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

'Shock' at historic wall collapse

A taxi driver has described the moment when a section of the 400-year-old battlements at Antrim Castle collapsed close to her car.

The area has been cordoned off and an investigation is under way.

Taxi driver Margaret Hegarty was taking a break in her car when the wall came down at about 1900 BST on Saturday.

"I heard this big bang and all this rubble came over the car. I thought a lorry had crashed into the wall, I was just that shocked," she said.

The town's deputy mayor, Adrian Watson, said it was lucky no-one was hurt.

"What was an historic monument in the town is now a pile of rubble," he said.

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An archaeological dig finishes today (October 10 2008) that is seeking to uncover some of the secrets of Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight.

English Heritage archaeologists have been digging at the Isle of Wight's only medieval castle in a bid to answer more questions about the area known as the Privy Garden.

The aim is to date the Privy Garden wall more accurately and understand when it was built and why this substantial wall was constructed along the east boundary of the garden.

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An Alpine Pompeii from the Stone Age

What happened to the prehistoric village on Lake Mondsee in the Austrian Alps? One geologist has found evidence that a vast rock slide may have set off a tsunami that buried the lakeside settlement. He's hoping to find funding -- and mummies.

The fall of Pompeii began with a small cloud of smoke drifting out of Mt. Vesuvius. Within a few days, though, the affluent Roman city lay coated in a meter-thick shroud of ash. Even more devastating were the effects of a giant meteorite that crashed into the Gulf of Mexico 65 million years ago, bringing an end to the age of the dinosaurs.

Such violent events, putting human beings and animals at the mercy of destructive natural forces, have always stimulated the fantasies of those born afterwards. In some cases, however, the truth has been less dramatic. The notion that the Mayans starved to death because of failed harvests and that the palaces of the Minoans were destroyed by dramatic floods is just as untrue as the claim that murderers smashed a hole into the head of Tutankhamun.

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Homes surveyed for heritage book

Homes in the Somerset village of Westbury-sub-Mendip are coming under the scrutiny of English Heritage investigators this week.

The information will form part of a new book on the landscape and settlements of the Mendips area.

A total of 29 parishes in 198 sq km of the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) will be examined.

Barry Jones, of English Heritage, said they were looking at aspects of the area previously un-researched.

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Rescue plan to help Doncaster monument

ONE of Doncaster's oldest monuments faces a brighter future after an English Heritage-backed conservation project to boost its ancient defences.
Peel Hill in Thorne had been listed as being at high risk of decay before the conservation work was started.

The site is a 22ft high man made mound which supported a tower built by the Normans after 1066 to secure their iron grip on the rebellious north.

Parts of the mound have been re-turfed, holes filled in and steps built so people can scale its heights while protecting the vulnerable banking and a path has also been laid around its base.

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Crumbling English coastline threatens to wash away habitats and heritage

Miles of coastline, ancient monuments, listed buildings, a historic garden and the habitat at Brownsea Island are all at risk of erosion or coastal flooding, the National Trust has warned.

Nearly 173 miles of coastline and 2,105 acres of land could be affected in the coming decades by rising sea levels, they claim.

As part of its work to protect the UK's coasts, the Trust has published a detailed study of the sites and coastline that are at risk.

They found at least 142 ancient landmarks and 111 listed buildings are in a danger zone in the south-west of England.

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Lagerplatz der Altsteinzeit in NRW entdeckt

Nach mehr als 40 Jahren ist in Nordrhein-Westfalen erstmals wieder ein Fundplatz spätaltsteinzeitlicher (spätpaläolithischer) Jäger entdeckt worden. Seine ausgezeichnet erhaltenen Siedlungsstrukturen stellen eine außergewöhnliche Besonderheit dar. Der Lagerplatz bei Wesseling wurde in den vergangenen Monaten im Vorfeld einer Baumaßnahme umfangreich untersucht.

Die Größe der Grabungsfläche beträgt ca. 700 qm2. Der einstige Siedlungsbereich war aller Wahrscheinlichkeit größer, doch sind weite Teile des potenziellen Fundareals durch ein im 2. Weltkrieg errichtetes Fremdarbeiterlager zerstört worden. Bimskörner von der Eruption des Laacher See-Vulkans, die in den Lehmablagerungen unterhalb des Fundhorizonts enthalten sind, belegen, dass die Besiedlung in die letzten Jahrhunderten der Allerød-Warmphase, etwa zwischen 10.966 und 10.700 v. Chr., stattfand.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Stonehenge 'older than believed'

New findings at Stonehenge suggest its stones were erected much earlier than thought, challenging the site's conventional history.

A new excavation puts the stones' arrival at 3000 BC - almost 500 years earlier than originally thought - and suggests it was mainly a burial site.

The latest results are from a dig by the Stonehenge Riverside Project.

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Speed-Walking Across Asia

Over a million years ago, a band of early humans left their stone tools and two front teeth near a stream in southwest China. For decades, the precise age of the fossils has remained a mystery, leaving open a central question in paleontology: How quickly did our human ancestors reach China after leaving Africa? Now, thanks to advanced dating techniques, scientists may finally have the answer.

Chinese paleontologists discovered the two incisors in 1965 and the relatively simple stone tools in 1973 in the Yuanmou Basin. The teeth came from a hominin, the group that includes humans and our exclusive ancestors, and might be from the species Homo erectus, a direct ancestor of humans that may have been the first human to spread beyond Africa about 1.8 million years ago. Scientists have gotten mixed results for the age of the site because there were no volcanic crystals in the soils for reliable radiometric dating.

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Archaeologists find bones from prehistoric war in Germany

Schwerin, Germany - Archaeologists have discovered the bones of at least 50 prehistoric people killed in an armed attack in Germany around 1300 BC. The signs of battle from around 1300 BC were found near Demmin, north of Berlin. They are the first proof of any war north of the Alps during the Bronze Age, said state archaeologist Detlef Jantzen on Thursday.

One of the skulls had a coin-sized hole in it, indicating the 20- to 30-year-old man had received a mortal blow. A neurologist said he was probably hit with a wooden club and died within hours.

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»Schlachtfeld« der Bronzezeit entdeckt

In einem knapp 1 km langen Abschnitt eines Flusstals in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern starben vor 3.300 Jahren mindestens 50 Menschen unter Gewalteinwirkung. Auch einige der Waffen, durch die sie möglicherweise umkamen, wurden direkt in der Nähe gefunden.

In der sumpfigen Aue haben Reste von Nahkampfwaffen erhalten, wie sie bislang aus der Bronzezeit nicht bekannt waren: Ein Holzknüppel, der an heutige Baseballschläger erinnert, und eine sorgfältig bearbeitete hammerartige Holzkeule. Diese Waffen blieben unter einer Moorschicht vergleichsweise gut erhalten, erklärte Detlef Jantzen vom Landesamt für Kultur und Denkmalpflege in Schwerin bei der Präsentation der Funde am Donnerstag.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Rock found to be prehistoric toy hedgehog

It may look like a grubby bit of rock but this ancient carving has caused a stir among archaeologists and hedgehog lovers.

It is a prehistoric toy hedgehog and was unearthed from a three-year-old child's grave at Stonehenge in Wiltshire.

Thought to be about 2,500 years old, it is the earliest known depiction of a hedgehog in Britain.

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Stonehenge 'was a cremation cemetry, not healing centre'

Stonehenge was used as a cremation cemetry throughout its history, according to new evidence that divides archaeologists over whether England's most famous ancient monument was about celebrating life or death.

The origins and purposes of Stonehenge have eluded academics and historians for centuries and been the subject of much debate.

The circle of standing stones was originally through to have been erected in 2,600 BC, to replace an earlier wood and earth structure where cremation was carried out.

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Archaeologists dig deep to shed new light on city's Viking heritage

IT has long been acknowledged that York is an archaeological gold mine, but the true scale of the city's long history still remains buried underfoot.

However, one of the most significant discoveries in a generation has thrown up new evidence to provide a clearer picture of how far the city sprawled during the Viking era.

A thousand years ago York ranked among the 10 biggest settlements in Western Europe, but archaeologists have now found the remains of a Viking settlement at the Hungate dig close to banks of the River Foss.

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In Ancient Greece, Soil Was Sacred

Greek temples honored specific gods and goddesses, and now new research suggests that even the dirt under such buildings held spiritual significance.

The discovery could help explain why writers like Homer and Plato wrote of "divine soil" and soil that can affect a person's soul. It may also explain how the ancients selected locations for their sacred buildings.

"Temple sites were chosen to honor the personality and aspirations of gods and goddesses, which, in turn, were shaped by the economic basis for their cults," author Gregory Retallack told Discovery News.

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Copper Age began earlier than believed, scientists say

Belgrade - Serbian archaeologists say a 7,500-year-old copper axe found at a Balkan site shows the metal was used in the Balkans hundreds of years earlier than previously thought.

The find near the Serbian town of Prokuplje shifts the timeline of the Copper Age and the Stone Age's neolithic period, archaeologist Julka Kuzmanovic-Cvetkovic told the independent Beta news agency.

'Until now, experts said that only stone was used in the Stone Age and that the Copper Age came a bit later. Our finds, however, confirm that metal was used some 500 to 800 years earlier,' she said.

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Unique Byzantine Mosaics Unearthed in Bulgaria's Kyustendil

A team of Bulgarian archaeologists discovered Wednesday unique mosaics from Byzantine times during excavation works in the town of Kyustendil.

The beautiful findings, which are drawn mainly with geometrical figures, once tiled the floors of official halls in a Byzantine private house, the experts reported.

"The names of the home's owners are written on the mosaics and it is the first time when such artifacts have been discovered in Bulgaria," the chief archaeologist Rumen Spasov explained.

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New Greek tragedy disfigures Athens

The authorities call it a Greek tragedy, but the graffiti artists who have increasingly left their mark on this ancient city and its monuments say they are simply responding to a different sort of muse.

Churches and archaeological sites in Greece used to enjoy a certain immunity from graffiti and the stylised signatures known as tagging, but are now increasingly part of the action as the phenomenon takes off in Athens.

"There is an inability to distinguish what is a monument, and what is not in Athens," said Zetta Antonopoulou, an architect who has conducted extensive research on the capital's statues, many of which are routinely marked with spray paint.

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Pompeii now open for business to bidders

POMPEII, Italy — When a state of emergency was declared this summer at the ancient grounds of Pompeii, the move by Italy's government touched off an eruption of media accounts about how the ruins near Mt. Vesuvius were, well, in ruins.

Now authorities responsible for a yearlong evaluation no longer want the lost city of Pompeii to be viewed as being in dire need of repair. Rather, the top administrator in this emergency year said the expansive trove of mosaics and villas is in search of a marketing makeover and moneymakers.

Pompeii, one of Italy's most visited tourist sites, is now open for business to bidders eager for lucrative contracts inside the ruins. Tourism is in a state of emergency more than the ruins themselves, said Renato Profili, the special administrator on the job since July.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Celtic Tiger threatens 'very soul of historic Ireland'

HILL OF TARA, Ireland–It is a battle worthy of the old Irish legends, pitting history against modernity. But as a controversial highway creeps ever closer to the spiritual home of the early Celtic kings, it now appears both sides may lose.

For advocates of the twin ribbons of asphalt called the M3 now under construction north of the Irish capital, there is no choice but to live pragmatically with the roar of a commuter corridor in the shadow of the sacred Hill of Tara, because getting to nearby Dublin is a nightmare without it.

For opponents, the new toll highway is the most painful example of the Celtic Tiger's propensity for gnawing through all obstacles – up to and including "the very soul of historic Ireland" – in the pursuit of the almighty euro. Worse, they say, the highway is arriving just as the economy curls up into what many expect will be a deep slumber, worn ragged by a broken property bubble and the global credit squeeze.

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Copper age earlier than believed

Serbian archaeologists say a 7 500-year-old copper axe found at a Balkan site shows the metal was used in the Balkans hundreds of years earlier than previously thought.

The find near the Serbian town of Prokuplje shifts the timeline of the Copper Age and the Stone Age's neolithic period, archaeologist Julka Kuzmanovic-Cvetkovic told the independent Beta news agency.

"Until now, experts said that only stone was used in the Stone Age and that the Copper Age came a bit later. Our finds, however, confirm that metal was used some 500 to 800 years earlier," she said.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Rousse Expedition Examines a Medieval Graveyard

The team of Professor Nikolay Ovcharov found a Medieval graveyard from XV-XVII century near the Rousse village Nisovo, BNR announced.

The interesting fact is that by examining the remains of the buried people one can identify their job. Judging by the discovered objects in the graveyard the skeletons belong to a barber, a baker and a priest.

In a number of excavated lots there are skeletons of 3 and 4-year old children, which most probably testify of a medieval epidemic of a deadly disease.

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Shortlisted for the British Archaeological Awards

We were delighted to find that some of Wessex Archaeology's work under the auspices of our Framework Archaeology joint venture with our colleagues at Oxford Archaeology has been short-listed for the British Archaeological Awards which are to be held at The British Museum on 10 November 2008.

The work is the Heathrow Terminal 5 excavation and publication, submitted in the Best Archaeological Project category, and it's supporting publication data and geographic informations systems software (Framework FreeViewer) submitted in the Best Archaeological Innovation category.

You can find out more about the excavations at T5 from the project web site

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New method used to date cave art

Experts from the University of Bristol are to attempt to accurately date prehistoric caves.

The team from the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology travelled to northern Spain to collect samples of paintings from more than 20 caves.

They will use a new method, based on the radioactive decay of uranium, to date the paintings.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

The Fourth Viking Congress

I just wanted to give everyone a preview of the new website, which we are working on. The site is using a Wordpress content management system, so there are some changes still to be made and things like fontsize still need to be finalized. But we will be having a lot of content on it, including articles, interviews, videos and books. For now, here are a few links to articles from The Fourth Viking Congress, edited by Alan Small and published by Aberdeen University in 1961.

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Hollywood Blockbuster on Vikings Shot in Iceland

Agreements have been reached with producers that a huge Hollywood movie on Vikings directed by Iceland’s leading director Baltasar Kormákur and written by Icelandic screenwriter Ólafur Egilsson will be shot in Iceland.

“It is by far the largest project that I have ever participated in. We are talking about an USD 40 to 60 million [EUR 23 to 44 million] movie. Huge deal,” Kormákur told Fréttabladid.

The movie is based on scenes from the Icelandic Sagas and has been introduced as a “spaghetti-western-Viking-movie.” Shooting is scheduled to take six months and the story takes place in winter, spring and summer. The film’s working title is Saga.

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Roman villa unearthed in Budapest's District III

One of the earliest villas in Budapest is being excavated at Bécsi út 262 (District III), reports the Budapest History Museum. The site is of special importance, as it fits well into the line of villas previously found in the area, providing more information on the location and extension of villa farms around Aquincum, wrote Krisztián Anderkó, the archaeologist leading the excavations, on the museum's website.

Ruins of the Roman building complex were discovered following several months of excavation work at a plot destined to become a hypermarket. The Office of Cultural Heritage had ordered the excavation to be carried out, as a Roman wall was found under the neighboring plot at Bécsi út 260 in 2004.

At Bécsi út 262, walls of a five-by-five meter, independently standing Roman building were unearthed. The building was surrounded by a 45-50 centimeter thick wall built from limestone slabs held together by yellowish-white mortar forming a perfect square. Further excavations revealed that a larger building stood nearby, and the walls belonged to a multi-room villa.

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Swedish archaeologists uncover Viking-era church

The remains of a Viking-era stave church, including the skeletal remains of a woman, have been uncovered near the cemetery of the Lännäs church in Odensbacken outside Örebro in central Sweden.

“It’ a unique find,” said Bo Annuswer of the Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) to the Nerikes Allehanda newspaper.

“The churches that have found earlier have been really damaged. Now archaeologists uncovered for posts which mark the church, and the burial site. Such an undisturbed site is unique.”

Stave churches, common in medieval northern Europe, are constructed with timber framing and walls filled with vertical planks.

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Prehistoric cave paintings took up to 20,000 years to complete

It may have taken Michelangelo four long years to paint his fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but his earliest predecessors spent considerably longer perfecting their own masterpieces.

Scientists have discovered that prehistoric cave paintings took up to 20,000 years to complete.

Rather than being created in one session, as archaeologists previously thought, many of the works discovered across Europe were produced over hundreds of generations who added to, refreshed and painted over the original pieces of art.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

John Rylands University Library to put medieval materials online

Some of the world’s greatest medieval literary riches are to be made available on the internet – giving the public free unlimited access for the first time. The treasures include one of the earliest existing manuscripts of the complete Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, 500-year-old translations of the Bible into English and one of England’s oldest recipe books.

The University of Manchester’s John Rylands University Library will use cutting edge technology to digitise their internationally renowned collection of over forty Middle English manuscripts thanks to funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).

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Archaeology event celebrates moors history

A CELEBRATION of the wealth of local history and archaeology of the North York Moors National Park is being held with a special event on Sunday.
Sponsored by the National Park Authority and Helmsley Archaeological Society, the day school features presentations on various topics including the Roman camps at Cawthorn near Pickering, the excavation of an Iron Age settlement at Street House, Loft

us and work at Ayton Castle, a late 14th century tower house near Scarboro-ugh. People attending the day school will also be among the first to get the chance to buy a new book about the trods of the North York Moors published by the Scarborough Archaeological and Histor-ical Society.

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Ninth century tag discovered

A SILVER Saxon clothes fastener found by a metal detector enthusiast near Dorchester has been declared as treasure.

The hooked tag dating back to the ninth century and weighing only 4.81g was described by senior archaeologist Claire Pinder as very uncommon.' The treasure was discovered by Martin Savage, of The Rise, Stratton, on a farm in Charminster last October when he was searching with his metal detector.

He said: "Initially I didn't realise what it was so I put it in my pouch and carried on metal detecting. It wasn't until afterwards that I scanned it and sent it to an expert that I found out it was Anglo Saxon."

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Earliest reference describes Christ as 'magician'

A team of scientists led by renowned French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio recently announced that they have found a bowl, dating to between the late 2nd century B.C. and the early 1st century A.D., that is engraved with what they believe could be the world's first known reference to Christ.

If the word "Christ" refers to the Biblical Jesus Christ, as is speculated, then the discovery may provide evidence that Christianity and paganism at times intertwined in the ancient world.

The full engraving on the bowl reads, "DIA CHRSTOU O GOISTAIS," which has been interpreted by the excavation team to mean either, "by Christ the magician" or, "the magician by Christ."

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Archaeologists Unveil Majestic Roman Ruins That Rival Riches of Pompeii

OSTIA ANTICA, Italy —The ruins of Ostia, an ancient Roman port, have never captured the public imagination in the same way as those of Pompeii, perhaps because Ostia met with a less cataclysmic fate.

Yet past archaeological digs here have yielded evidence of majestic public halls and even multistory apartment buildings that challenge Pompeii’s primacy. Now officials hope that the decade-long restoration of four dwellings lavishly decorated with frescoes will focus new attention on this once-bustling port about 15 miles west of Rome.

Last week the second-century insulae, or housing complexes, were presented to the public through the European Heritage Days program, in which each member country of the Council of Europe promotes new cultural assets and sites that have mainly been closed to the public.

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Archaeologists Discover Ancient Dionysus Sanctuary

This summer archaeologists discovered a well-preserved altar from a large sanctuary near the town of Opaka, northeastern Bulgaria. The altar is decorated with images of grapes and wine vessels, which, to experts, means that it belonged to a temple to Dionysus. It was used by the local priestesses to perform the wine-fire ritual and predict the future. The pieces of the stone altar have already been arranged in an exposition in the museum of the district centre - Targovishte. Archaeologist Angel Konakliev from the museum, says that at the place the altar was discovered once there was another similar one that disappeared and only an ornament of it was left.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Dig unearths our Roman coastline

An archaeological dig at a Roman fort in Sandwich has uncovered evidence of the Roman coastline – two miles inland from where it is today.

Experts from English Heritage have been carefully examining the fort as part of a month-long excavation project that is nearing its conclusion.

They have also discovered the remains of a 90-metre long stretch of collapsed wall as well as Roman coins and fragments of Italian marble dating back to the first century AD.

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Movement of house mice could be used to trace colonisation

The popular image of Vikings raping and pillaging their way around Europe and then returning with their booty to Scandinavia has been struck another blow, by a study into mice.

According to research by the University of York, they have found Norwegian house mice all over the British Isles and parts of Europe showing that the mighty warriors were in fact quite domesticated.

The house mice, who would have come over in the ships of the Norsemen, could have only settled in major, well established communities, as they would find it difficult to survive in open country.

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'Viking mouse' invasion tracked

Scientists say that studying the genes of mice will reveal new information about patterns of human migration.

They say the rodents have often been fellow travellers when populations set off in search of new places to live - and the details can be recovered.

A paper published in a Royal Society journal analyses the genetic make-up of house mice from more than 100 locations across the UK.

It shows that one distinct strain most probably arrived with the Vikings.

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Roman settlement uncovered during work on new pipeline

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed the remains of a Roman settlement near York during the construction of a new £6 million pipeline.

Evidence of an ancient bridgehead settlement has been discovered on the banks of the River Nidd at Kirk Hammerton.

Yorkshire Water said the discoveries were made following its decision to build a new pipeline linking its water treatment works at Acomb Landing with the mains network which feeds villages to the west.

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Ancient whalers leave their mark on the north

The high arctic is one of the farthest places from most of the 6 billion people on Earth, but Canadian researchers have found that the far north holds some of the oldest evidence of human impact on a lake's ecosystem.

John Smol, of Queen's University in Ontario, is a frequent visitor to Canada's high arctic, a treeless world of tundra, lakes, and constant winds. From about A.D. 1200 to A.D. 1600, the Thule people‹descendents of the Native whalers of northern Alaska‹lived in the area, making homes out of rocks, peat and whale bones. Though the Thule people left the area about 400 years ago, Smol and his colleagues found that the ancient people changed the water chemistry of local lakes and Thule homesites are still affecting lakes today.

Smol is a scientist who reconstructs the past by looking at ancient creatures preserved in the muck at the bottom of lakes. He's most interested in diatoms‹single-celled algae with cell walls made of glass. This glass, or silicon dioxide, makes diatoms last hundreds of years; diatom skeletons are a major component of the sediment at the bottom of lakes.

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Church Discovered In Orhaneli One Of World's Earliest

BURSA - The "Derecik Basilica" discovered in north-western province of Bursa's Orhaneli town in the year 2000 has been claimed as one of the world's earliest churches that was constructed after Christianity was accepted as an official religion by the Roman Empire.

Speaking to AA, Dean of the Archeology Department at the Uludag University (UU) Prof. Dr. Mustafa Sahin said that the excavations at the "Derecik Basilica" for the year 2008 has ended.

"The excavations in Derecik village began in 2007. Prof. Dr. Michel Fuchs of the University of Lausanne and I are co-chairing the excavations. We made an important discovery this year. The 'Derecik Basilica' happens to be one of the world's earliest churches. It may even be the first church constructed after the Roman Empire adopted Christianity," Dr. Sahin said.

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Stonehenge of Sevilla saved

A “magnificent decision” to save Spain’s oldest Copper age site from developers

The Junta has overruled plans to build a commercial centre, an old people’s home and houses over the 4,500 year old site.

Describing the settlement as a “cathedral from prehistoric times”, the Junta has agreed to instead declare the area an Archaeological Site and build a visitors centre to promote the attraction.

Said to be the largest Copper Age settlement in Spain, the site in Castilleja de Guzman was declared a Site of Specific Cultural Interest (BIC) in 2003.

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Weird goings-on in Tara decision

I was amused to see that there are claims that increased UFO activity ('We're not Alone', Irish Independent, September 29) is attributed to the M3 motorway.

I am not sure who contacted the aliens, having failed to find an extraterrestrial email address myself, but it is unsurprising given that every European and international political and archaeological body has come to the conclusion that the routing of this motorway was in diplomatic terms 'unfortunate' and that immediate steps should be taken to protect this historic area.

The truth may indeed be 'out there', but it is also closer than we think. One only has to read the planning documents to see that

1. Public consultation was dismissed as not being a legal requirement.

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