Friday, February 27, 2009

Scanning Artifacts Up To Two Tons With Astounding Precision

A new facility opening later this year at the Diamond synchrotron is set to revolutionise world heritage science. A new research platform soon to be available at the leading UK science facility, Diamond Light Source, will help uncover ancient secrets that have been locked away for centuries. For the first time ever, cultural heritage scientists will be able to scan and image large relics and artifacts up to two tonnes in weight in incredible precision. They will no longer be restricted to examining small items.

Read the rest of this article...

'Oldest English words' identified

Some of the oldest words in English have been identified, scientists say.

Reading University researchers claim "I", "we", "two" and "three" are among the most ancient, dating back tens of thousands of years.

Their computer model analyses the rate of change of words in English and the languages that share a common heritage.

Read the rest of this article...

Scientists meet to save Lascaux cave from fungus

PARIS – Geologists, biologists and other scientists convened Thursday in Paris to discuss how to stop the spread of fungus stains — aggravated by global warming — that threaten France's prehistoric Lascaux cave drawings.

Black stains have spread across the cave's prehistoric murals of bulls, felines and other images, and scientists have been hard-pressed to halt the fungal creep.

Marc Gaulthier, who heads the Lascaux Caves International Scientific Committee, said the challenges facing the group are vast and global warming now poses an added problem.

Read the rest of this article...

Stone Age finds delay Carlisle bypass again

Carlisle's proposed western bypass faces yet another delay after Stone Age artefacts were found on the route.

A potentially significant find from the Mesolithic age was unearthed during surveying work for the road, known as the Carlisle Northern Development Route (CNDR).

It has not been revealed what was found and where it was dug up, but it was on what is described as “a small plot”.

Read the rest of this article...

Underground passageways discovered in Valletta

Preliminary archaeological studies in St George's Square, Valletta have uncovered an undocumented network of underground passageways, which could possibly connect to the Palace.

Studies are being undertaken in St George's Square in preparation for the building of a one-storey underground car park and the subsequent embellishment of the square.

The project, piloted by the Works Division and the Valletta Rehabilitation Project, still needs to be given the green light by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Biodiversity Hotspot Enabled Neanderthals To Survive Longer In South East Of Spain

Over 14,000 years ago during the last Pleistocene Ice Age, when a large part of the European continent was covered in ice and snow, Neanderthals in the region of Gibraltar in the south of the Iberian peninsula were able to survive because of the refugium of plant and animal biodiversity. Today, plant fossil remains discovered in Gorham's Cave confirm this unique diversity and wealth of resources available in this area of the planet.

Read the rest of this article...

Acropolis workers strike shuts down monument

Tourists who came to Athens on Thursday to see the Acropolis — one of Europe's most famous cultural sites — found themselves met at the gate by striking guards explaining why they had shut the place down.

The antiquities sites guards, who are temporary contract workers, are demanding permanent positions and the payment of wages they say are past due. Thursday was the first day of a strike the guards say will last three days, meaning Athens' signature tourist site will remain closed into the weekend.

"I'm very, very frustrated," said Paul Jones, a 27-year-old a New Yorker who is studying archaeology in Turkey.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hi-tech research shows Neolithic axes have travelled from the Alps

IT’S a mystery that could shed light on life in Hampshire 6,000 years ago.

Four Stone Age axes, dating from a time when people had stopped hunting woolly mammoths and sabretoothed tigers and turned to farming, are giving clues to the origins of settled human life in the county.

They were found at Hill Head and Titchfield, near Fareham, and at Beaulieu, in the New Forest, and Bartonon- Sea.

Read the rest of this article...

Face-to-face with a brutal past

YORK’s Viking Festival reaches a spectacular finale tonight.

The five-day sell-out festival is the largest event of its kind in the UK, attracting over 40,000 visitors from around the world, many from the Scandinavian countries. It culminates with a sound and light battle at the Eye of York in the shadow of Clifford’s Tower. Entertainment starts from 4.45pm, with the battle starting at 5.45pm.

The huge number of visitors to the festival put a big strain on temporary traffic lights at the junction of Water End and Salisbury Terrace, and caused some traffic delays in the city.

Read the rest of this article...

Trawlers are 'destroying history on the seabed'

Britain's love of seafood is helping to destroy the nation's maritime heritage. That is the stark warning of marine archaeologists who say hundreds of sunken ships, from Elizabethan warships to second world war submarines, are being torn apart by trawlers - fishing for scallops and flatfish - dragging chains and cables across the seabed.

Investigations using robot submarines have revealed that serious damage has been inflicted on vast numbers of the 32,000 pre-1945 ships whose wrecks litter Britain's coastal waters. Examples include the recently discovered 18th-century warship HMS Victory, which led Britain's fleet before Nelson's flagship of the same name. In 1744, Victory sank with all hands near the Channel Islands. Cannon hauled from the wreck showed it had suffered severe damage from trawlers.

Read the rest of this article...

Bulgarian-British archeological team start working on Lower Danube

The Bulgarian government has granted permission to a Bulgarian-British archeological team to carry out research along the Lower Danube River, the press office of the cabinet announced, quoted by BNR.

The project is titled "The End of Antiquity along the Lower Danube. Nikopolis ad Istrum and its teritory from the end of Vth and the beginning of the VIIth century"

Read the rest of this article...

Lost and found: palace of Robert the Bruce

Historians and archaeologists claim to have found the remains of King Robert the Bruce's palace, lost for more than 700 years.

The discovery is being hailed as one of the most important in decades as it pinpoints the location of a monument many believe is as important to Scotland's history as Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace.

Beneath the Pillanflatt in Renton, in a run-down area of West Dunbartonshire, historians claim to have found a number of artefacts and foundations matching descriptions in ancient documents about the location of the king's home.

Read the rest of this article...

Farbiges Mittelalter?! - Tagung des Mediävistenverbandes an der Universität Bamberg

Der Mediävistenverband hält sein 13. Symposium vom 1. bis zum 5. März an der Universität Bamberg ab

Farbig - das ist wohl das letzte Attribut, das die öffentliche Einschätzung dem angeblich doch so finsteren Mittelalter zu attestieren gewillt wäre. Und dennoch: Farbe(n) bestimmen in wesentlicher Form den mittelalterlichen Alltag und insbesondere den künstlerischen Gestaltungswillen seiner kulturellen Eliten. Dies ist Thema des 13. Symposions des Mediävistenverbandes mit dem Titel "Farbiges Mittelalter?! Farbe als Materie, Zeichen und Projektion in der Welt des Mittelalters", die vom 1. bis 5. März 2009 an der Universität Bamberg stattfinden wird.

Read the rest of this article...

Friday, February 20, 2009

High-tech tests allow anthropologists to track ancient hominids across the landscape

Dazzling new scientific techniques are allowing archaeologists to track the movements and menus of extinct hominids through the seasons and years as they ate their way across the African landscape, helping to illuminate the evolution of human diets.

Piecing together relationships between the diets of hominids several million years ago to that of early and modern humans is allowing scientists to see how diet relates to the evolution of cognitive abilities, social structures, locomotion and even disease, said University of Colorado at Boulder anthropology Professor Matt Sponheimer. Sponheimer organised a session titled 'The Evolution of Human Diets' at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting 12-15 February in Chicago

Read the rest of this article...

Hopes dashed as Google Ocean image of 'lost city of Atlantis' proves to be nothing of the sort

It was the picture that seemed to show that the mythical lost city of Atlantis, more than 9000 years after it sank beneath the ocean's waves.

An apparently amazing photo on the front page of The Sun this morning appeared to show a grid system etched onto the ocean bed about 620 miles off the west coast of Africa.
But today the hopes of scholars and romantics alike were cruelly dashed as it was revealed that the photo, taken using Google's latest gadget, Google Ocean, had nothing to do with fabled lost city at all.

Read the rest of this article...

Computer technology plus archaeology equals enhanced knowledge of the past

Our knowledge of life in the Mediterranean region between 3500 and 2000 years ago has been enhanced by a combination of archaeological and computer technologies, as Professor Lin Foxhall will reveal at a public lecture at the University of Leicester on Tuesday 10th March.

How do we gather knowledge about how societies came to operate the way they do? And, how can this help us address pressing questions and issues we face today? We can't travel in time and observe how complex networks evolved, but we can collect, organise and interpret the remains of ancient networks.

Read the rest of this article...

Well-known baths awash in hidden artifacts, rare finds

Excavations begin anew on first-century site

Excavations at an ancient Roman villa and bath complex in the outskirts of Rome have unearthed a wealth of surprisingly well-preserved artifacts, including the marble head of a Greek god, archeologists said on Wednesday.

The site of the Villa delle Vignacce, towards Ciampino airport south of Rome, was first explored by archeologists in 1780, who found statues that are now in the Vatican museum.

Read the rest of this article...

Remains of the day

Three years ago, archaeologists at Bristol University embarked on a unique research project: the excavation of a 1991 Ford Transit van. After some background research, they carefully collected up all the dog hairs and sweet wrappers before stripping back the layers of carpet, plywood lining, metal and rust. Some of their discoveries were fairly trivial, such as the revelation that the van's roof was badly dented after serving as an impromptu diving board at a riotous Christmas party. But there were also intriguing insights into social history. After fingerprint dusting on the bodywork drew a blank, they learned that the van was one of the first vehicles in the country to be built entirely by robots, which coincided with a wave of redundancies at Ford's Southampton plant. Now the dismantled van has become the flagship project for a booming scholarly area, the archaeology of the "contemporary past".

Read the rest of this article...

Orte des Geschehens

Vom 26. Februar bis zum 1. März 2009 wird in Heidelberg das 1. Altertumswissenschaftliche Studierendenkolloquium "orte des geschehens" stattfinden. Kernthema der Veranstaltung ist das Forschungsfeld der Urbanistik. Der thematische Schwerpunkt liegt auf Interaktionsräumen als konstitutive Elemente der antiken Stadt.

Read the rest of this article...

Der größte Schatz ist unsere Geschichte

Museum in der Kaiserpfalz zeigt Funde aus der Sammlung Lütkemeyer

Der Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) zeigt in seinem Museum in der Kaiserpfalz in Paderborn 50 ausgewählte archäologische Funde aus den untergegangenen Siedlungen Wietheim und Dedinghausen bei Bad Lippspringe (Kreis Paderborn). Reitersporne und Gewandschließen, verzierte Beschläge und Kruzifixe sind im Foyer des Museums zu sehen.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Location: Cambodia Length: 7 min.

Khmer King Jayavarman VII built Banteay Chhmar in northwest Cambodia at the end of the 12th Century using grandiose temple plans similar to those he adopted for Angkor. A one-kilometer arcaded wall, carved with detailed bas-reliefs telling the story of the Ancient Khmer, formerly surrounded the temple. Most of it now is in ruins and subject to extreme looting following decades of war. De-mined in 2007, Banteay Chhmar and its proud towers and awesome temples critically need conservation, master planning and increased protection.

Watch the video...

Cairo Demands Clarification on Nefertiti Bust

Egypt may renew its official demand for the return of the famous Nefertiti bust after a newly-surfaced document claims German archaeologists tried to trick Egyptian experts about its importance in 1913. A chief archaeologist in Cairo is leading the charge.

Read the rest of this article...

Britain's 'Super X-ray' Diamond Synchrotron to shed new light on the ancient world

A scientific instrument is to transform research into the Ancient World by using a light ten billion times brighter than the Sun to reveal the secrets of statues, mummies and sarcophagi.

The imaging facility at the Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire will allow objects weighing up to two tonnes to be examined in brilliant X-ray light, to expose clues to their construction and contents. Three Egyptian bronze figurines from the British Museum will be among the first treasures to be investigated by the Joint Engineering, Environmental and Processing beamline or Jeep. It uses intense radiation known as synchrotron light, generated by the Diamond Light Source, which allows scientists to see through solid objects and to show structural details that cannot be seen by standard X-rays.

Read the rest of this article...

Heritage at Risk from Nighthawking

New Survey Reveals Low Levels of Prosecution and Crime Reporting

A national survey commissioned by English Heritage and supported by its counterparts across the UK and Crown Dependencies has revealed that the threat to heritage posed by illegal metal detecting, or nighthawking, is high but arrest or prosecution remains at an all time low and penalties are woefully insufficient.

The Nighthawking Survey, published today (16th February 2009), found out that over a third of sites attacked by illegal metal detectorists between 1995 and 2008 are Scheduled Monuments and another 152 undesignated sites are also known to have been raided, but secrecy surrounding the crime means that it is significantly under-reported. Only 26 cases have resulted in formal legal action, with the punishment usually being a small fine from as little as £38. (Illegally parking a car carries a £120 fine.)

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Inukpasuit, Inuit and Viking contact in ancient times

There are many stories of ‘Qavlunaat,’ white-skinned strangers who were encountered in Inuit-occupied lands in times of old. Stories of contact between these foreign people and Inuit were passed down the generations and used mostly to scare children to behave “or the Qavlunaat will get them.”

This sparked my curiosity to explore both sides of the encounters from written records and Inuit oral legends to see if some of these events can be correlated. One must recall that these legends were passed down orally in the Inupiaq language.

Read the rest of this article...

Archaeologist believes Newgrange is a multi-period mound

A new critical analysis has revealed that the world famous Irish passage-tomb mound Newgrange did look quite different in prehistory than hitherto believed. Newgrange is probably a multi-period mound with 5-6 phases spanning from the Passage Tomb Period to the Early Bronze Age. This theory clashes with the traditional view introduced by Professor Michael O'Kelly, who led the excavation and the controversial restoration with the addition of a white wall around the mound over the years 1962-75. O'Kelly believed that Newgrange was a single-period mound, and that the great quantities of mound fill, which covered the kerbstones and extended far beyond them, had slid out from the mound when a wall, which held the mound fill in place, did collapse.

Read the rest of this article...

Why Chemical Warfare Is Ancient History

The prospect of chemical and biological warfare in this age of anthrax scares and WMD can feel — like the threat of nuclear Armageddon before it — like a uniquely modern terror. But a British archaeologist's recent find offers a reminder that chemical weapons are nothing new — in fact, they are nearly 2,000 years old. Simon James, a researcher at the University of Leicester in the U.K., claims to have found the first physical evidence of chemical weaponry, dating from a battle fought in A.D. 256 at an ancient Roman fortress. James concluded that 20 Roman soldiers unearthed beneath the town's ramparts did not die of war wounds, as previous archaeologists had assumed, but from poison gas.

Read the rest of this article...

Thackley site could hold remains of ancient settlement

An archaeological dig is to start in Bradford woodland later this month, thanks to a heritage lottery grant.

A cheque for £24,300 has allowed the Friends of Buck Wood to dig for proof that an Iron or Bronze Age earthwork exists at the Thackley site.

But conservationists say they are more likely to uncover a buried rubbish tip than buried treasure.

Read the rest of this article...

Caregiving Nuns Wiped Out by Plague

Nuns and priests sacrificed their own lives to provide medical care for the poor in Renaissance France, according to a new study that implicates exposure to contagious plague victims in the deaths of several religious order members.

The study is among the first to find that plague, a deadly bacterial disease also known as "the Black Death," can be quickly and accurately identified in ancient human remains.

Read the rest of this article...

Nighthawking Report Released Today

Britain’s heritage is under threat from illegal metal detectorists, who face little chance of being caught, a report concludes.

A new report makes a series of conclusions and recommendations on the issue of ‘nighthawking’ (the search and removal of antiquities from the ground using metal detectors without the permission of the landowners or on prohibited land such as scheduled monuments).

Read the rest of this article...

On the treasure stealers' trail

A study has concluded that many of the UK's historic sites are under threat from illegal metal detector users. History enthusiasts are frustrated that little is being done to prevent the damage.

On a crisp, clear February afternoon, Suffolk farmer John Browning is walking his fields.

It does not take him long to find what he is looking for. A hole, crudely dug by treasure hunters out to loot the site of its Roman and Saxon antiquities.

Read the rest of this article...

Uncovered: Oldest watermill in London

The earliest watermill ever found in London is being studied by archaeologists.

The medieval mill at Greenwich Wharf is being surveyed by experts from the Museum of London in advance of a building development.

The 12th century structure would have measured more than 30ft by 36ft at the foundations with a waterwheel more than 20ft in diameter.

Read the rest of this article...

Illegal metal detectors 'threat to heritage'

A national survey has revealed the threat to English heritage by illegal metal detecting, or nighthawking, is among the most prevalent in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

English Heritage, who carried out the Nighthawking Survey, said arrest or prosecution remains at an all time low despite the threat to heritage being high.

The survey found Yorkshire and Lincolnshire along with Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent and Oxfordshire, saw the highest incidences of nighthawking. 'Honey pot' sites such as Roman sites are often targeted repeatedly and the period after ploughing is the most common time

Read the rest of this article...

Engendering Roman Military Spaces

The research project 'Engendering Roman Military Spaces', investigates socio-spatial behaviour inside Roman military forts during the early Empire. It uses the distribution of artefacts found in forts in the German provinces to analyse the activities carried out within the various components of these forts. It then investigates the relationships between these spaces and the members of these communities - both soldier and non-soldier - who were likely to have been engaged in these activities. In so doing it develops better understandings of the complexity of the daily life within such military establishments. It focuses particularly on evidence for women and children and on their roles within these military domains.

The project challenges widely-held assumptions: that military communities in the early empire were essentially segregated soldier communities; that only senior officers' families and household were accommodated inside and any other camp-followers lived in the civilian settlements outside the fort walls; and that a ban on legal marriage for ordinary soldiers meant that they could not have had families with whom they could have co-habited before the end of the 2nd century AD.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Peat Moors Centre to close

On the 4th of Feb 2009 the Executive Committee of Somerset County
Council resolved to close the Peat Moors Centre at the end of October 2009.

The decision is due to be ratified by the full council on 18th February.

Further details...

EMAS Easter Study Tour to South Wales

The EMAS (University of London Extra-Mural Archaeological Society) Still has some places left on its Easter archaeological study tour to South Wales.

Further details can be found here...

Dig unearths 13th century ceramic

A rare ceramic face-mask jug dating back to the 13th century has been uncovered at a building site in Rothesay in Argyll.

The find came after a house builder commissioned an archaeological dig on the site of the former Rothesay Council Chambers and Sheriff Court buildings.

Read the rest of this article...

Gene explosion set humans, great apes apart

An eruption of a poorly understood kind of genetic change set humans apart from great apes, and also sets chimps, gorillas and orangutans apart from monkeys, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Right before the great apes branched off from other apes and monkeys 10 million years ago, their DNA began to make explosive changes -- not classic mutations, but another change known as copy number variation, University of Washington geneticist Evan Eichler and colleagues found.

Read the rest of this article...

Find of Iron Age Treasure Wins Award

The team that joined together to recover the remains of unique find, a hoard of 2,000 year old cauldrons found at Chiseldon, near Swindon, Wiltshire, has been awarded a top archaeological prize.

The ‘Rescue Dig of the Year' award went to the team that recovered the Iron Age cauldrons at the "Archaeology Festival '09." The festival was organised by the leading archaeology magazine ‘Current Archaeology' and held at the National Museum and Galleries of Wales and the University of Cardiff, February 6-8th, 2009. The awards were decided by on-line voting by the magazine's readers.

Read the rest of this article...

Neanderthals 'distinct from us'

Scientists studying the DNA of Neanderthals say they can find no evidence that this ancient species ever interbred with modern humans.

But our closest ancestors may well have been able to speak as well as us, said Prof Svante Paabo from Germany's Max Planck Institute.

He was speaking in Chicago, US, where he announced the "first draft" of a complete Neanderthal genome.

Read the rest of this article...

Scientists unravel Neanderthal genome

Scientists have unravelled the genetic make-up of the Neanderthal, the long-faced, barrel-chested relative of modern humans.

Anthropologists analysed more than a billion fragments of ancient DNA plucked from three Croatian fossils to reconstruct a first draft of the Neanderthal genome.

The extraordinary feat gives scientists an unprecedented opportunity to clarify the evolutionary relationship between humans and Neanderthals that may ultimately shed light on the great mystery of how we became the most formidable species on the planet.

Read the rest of this article...

Scientists get first draft of Neanderthal genome

Gene sleuths who have come up with a rough draft of the Neanderthal DNA code said on Thursday the ancient relatives of modern humans shared with us one gene for speech, but little else.

The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany and 454 Life Science Corp, a Roche company, said they have sequenced more than 60 percent of the entire Neanderthal genome.

Read the rest of this article...

Neanderthals could walk again after discovery of genetic code

Neanderthals are a step closer to walking on Earth again.

Scientists have unravelled the genetic code of man's closest cousin using fragments of bone found across Europe.

The blueprint could provide information on the Neanderthal's looks, intelligence, health and habits, as well as what makes us human.

Read the rest of this article...

Major study to map our Viking heritage

MEN with long family links to West Cumbria are wanted to take part in a study to uncover the area’s Viking heritage.

Researchers at the University of Leicester are seeking men from northern England to help map the impact the arrival of Vikings in about 900AD had on the area.

Professor of genetics Mark Jobling said some knowledge of how Vikings affected the landscape could be gauged from archaeology and place names, such as Branthwaite, Flimby, Birkby, Crosby, Allerby and Dovenby, but the effect on genetics was less clear.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Archaeologists lose their jobs as recession bites

By the end of the year around one in five of the country's 7,000 archaeologists are expected to have lost their jobs, experts believe.

The profession has expanded rapidly in recent years thanks to legislation that forced developers to pay for digs.

But now jobs are going because so many construction projects are being put on hold.

In the last quarter of 2008, 345 lost their jobs, according to to the Institute for Archaeologists.

Read the rest of this article...

"Noah's Flood" Not Rooted in Reality, After All?

The ancient flood that some scientists think gave rise to the Noah story may not have been quite so biblical in proportion, a new study says.

Researchers generally agree that, during a warming period about 9,400 years ago, an onrush of seawater from the Mediterranean spurred a connection with the Black Sea, then a largely freshwater lake. That flood turned the lake into a rapidly rising sea. (See a map of the region.)

Read the rest of this article...

Thracian wine complex recovered by a team of archaeologists

A team of archaeologists presented one of the biggest Thracian rocks complexes for wine producing near the Kardzhali village Yagnevo.

The complex is situated on a territory of about 5 square km. and has more than 180 stone installations for wine preparation.

Read the rest of this article...

University's medical hi-tech technology used on rare artefact

A HI-TECH medical imaging technique is being used to help unlock the secrets of a priceless 1,000 year old artefact.

The Fadden More Psalter – an eighth century book of Psalms – is the latest archaeological find to be examined by scientists from Nottingham Trent University using Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) which was originally developed as for medical imaging.

The technology has been put to work by the university team to develop a new field of imaging for art conservation and archaeology.

Read the rest of this article...

Armenian links to Stonehenge explored

THE story of Stonehenge and the mystery that surrounds it is familiar to most Salisbury residents, but one man has come to the city to tell people about an ancient circle of standing stones which pre-dates even Wiltshire’s World Heritage site.

Vardan Levoni Tadevosyan is an Armenian/Spanish historian of the occult who visited Salisbury last week to raise the profile of Carahunge, dubbed the Armenian Stonehenge.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, February 09, 2009

Famous fossil Lucy scanned at the University of Texas at Austin

Lucy is in the United States as part of a world premiere exhibit organized by the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

John Kappelman, professor of anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts, led the scientific team that conducted the scan of Lucy, whose remains include about 40 percent of her skeleton, making her the oldest and most complete skeleton of any adult, erect-walking human fossil.

Read the rest of this article...

Armour shows how Henry VIII grew into an ‘absolute monster’

Early in Henry VIII’s reign the Venetian Ambassador described him as “the handsomest potentate I ever set eyes on, with an extremely fine calf to his leg . . . and a round face so very beautiful that it would become a pretty woman”.

Six wives, one Reformation and a lot of feasting later, Henry had become, by the time of his death in 1547, larger than life.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Oldest Human Hair Found in Hyena Poop Fossil?

The oldest known human hairs could be the strands discovered in fossil hyena poop found in a South African cave, a new study hints.

Researchers discovered the rock-hard hyena dung near the Sterkfontein caves, where many early human ancestor fossils have been found.

Each white, round fossil turd, or coprolite, is roughly 0.8 inch (2 centimeters) across. They were found embedded in sediments 195,000 to 257,000 years old.

Read the rest of this article...

Burial chamber unearthed at Dutch cemetery

SURAT: Archaeologists have uncovered an underground burial chamber of one of the ancient mausoleums at the Dutch cemetery at Katargam. This is
the second discovery of the burial chamber at the cemetery here, after the tomb of Baron Adrian Van Reede, who was the director of the Dutch company in the Indies.

The chamber was found few days ago during the excavation of debris accumulated due to the floods that ravaged the city in 2006.

Read the rest of this article...

Church seeks help to solve ancient mystery

An isolated rural church at the centre of an extraordinary archaeological discovery now has a fresh problem to solve.

Two garter boards have hung on the west wall of St Andrew's Church at Ilketshall St Andrew, near Bungay, for as long as anyone can remember and were saved from a bonfire during a recent clear out.

But despite painstaking conservation work on the circular wooden boards very little is known about them and now the church is appealing for people who may know about their history or function to get in touch.

Read the rest of this article...

"Ancient" Syriac bible found in Cyprus

NICOSIA (Reuters Life!) - Authorities in northern Cyprus believe they have found an ancient version of the Bible written in Syriac, a dialect of the native language of Jesus.

The manuscript was found in a police raid on suspected antiquity smugglers. Turkish Cypriot police testified in a court hearing they believe the manuscript could be about 2,000 years old.

Read the rest of this article...

Historic Monument in your garden? Contact English Heritage

Britons who own historic monuments and landscapes are being urged to come forward as part as a drive to protect the country's national treasures.

English Heritage is appealing for anyone with ancient burial sites, standing stones, ruined abbeys or other scheduled monuments on their property to get in touch so they can assess how best they can be maintained and repaired.

Private landowners who look after historic parks, gardens and landscapes are also being targeted, amid fears that land division and development are ruining some of the country's most beautiful views.

Read the rest of this article...


AN ATTEMPT to uncover some of Broughty Ferry's hidden secrets got under way at Castle Green this week.

Historic Scotland has commissioned archaeological excavations to investigate the cause of a hole which has opened up on the green.

The dig follows a geophysical survey which took place late last year to investigate the cause of the hole which is rADVERTISEMENT oughly a foot long.

Read the rest of this article...

Saxon Cemetary discovered near Lewes

Two men have spoken of "the find of a lifetime" when they uncovered a Saxon cemetery while metal detecting near Lewes.

Bob White and Cliff Smith, members of the Eastbourne District Metal Detecting Club, made the find on farmland outside the town last October and it is believed the remains laid undiscovered for up to 1,500 years.

As soon as they realised the importance of the site they sought advice from the police and local archaeologists who decided to excavate the graves immediately after seeking permission from the landowner.

Read the rest of this article...

Are you descended from Vikings?

But did the Vikings leave their genes behind as well? Scientists at the world-famous Department of Genetics at the University of Leicester, home of DNA fingerprinting, are beginning a new study to map the extent of Viking ancestry in men who live in the north of England.The study will focus on the Y chromosome, part of our DNA that is passed down from fathers to sons.Previous work from the group, led by Prof Mark Jobling, has shown a high degree of Viking ancestry among men from the Wirral and West Lancashire, and now the aim is to extend the work further afield.One question to be addressed is the relative distribution of Norse Vikings, focused in the west, and Danish Vikings in the east.

Read the rest of this article...

Leprosy skeleton fleshes out city history

THE horrors of leprosy have seen sufferers shunned even in death for thousands of years, but in medieval times Yorkshire seems to have taken a compassionate stand .

Victims in York were not stigmatised according to in a new exhibition, Plague, Poverty and Prayer, which charts the lives of York's residents from the Norman invasion to Tudor times.

The centrepiece is a skeleton of a leprosy victim dating from the early 14th century found by the York Archaeological Trust

Read the rest of this article...

Composer's Neanderthal recreation

A musical experience with a difference is being previewed at the National Museum Wales in Cardiff - an attempt to recreate the sound of the Neanderthals.

Jazz composer Simon Thorne was given the task of creating the "soundscape" to provide a musical backdrop to some of the ancient exhibits on display.

Read the rest of this article...

Marlborough expert warns on threat to ancient treasures

Leading Marlborough archaeologist Mike Pitts has warned the recession could have a major impact on work to uncover ancient treasures.

It is predicted that around 1,000 jobs will be lost in archaeology, largely due to the collapse of the construction industry which finances digs at building sites.

Despite being more popular with the public than ever, archaeology is also suffering from a series of other setbacks, according to Mr Pitts, who edits British Archaeology magazine.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

HMS Victory: why the sinking feeling?

On October 4, 1744, HMS Victory, the flagship of George II's fleet, was returning to England when it was caught in a ferocious storm off the Channel Islands and sank with the loss of all 1,150 of its crew.

The loss of the Victory – the immediate predecessor of Admiral Lord Nelson's ship of the same name – was little short of a disaster for the Crown. After winning a battle with the French off the coast of Lisbon, it had been carrying a cargo of four tons of Portuguese gold, and in desperation, search vessels were despatched to the area as soon as word of the tragedy reached the mainland.

Read the rest of this article...

Summer dig at ancient Derry site

A full archaeological dig will get underway later this year on the outskirts of Derry after an initial survey confirmed the existence of a set of 1000 year-old tunnels.

The three day survey at Gortinure Road, just outside the Co Derry village of Newbuildings, used Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) - the first time the technology has been used in the North - to pinpoint the tunnel's exact location.

The work, undertaken in late January by the Newbuildings and District Archaeological and Historical Society (NDAHS), is a precursor to a full archaeological dig scheduled for July.

Read the rest of this article...

Neanderthal genome to be unveiled

The entire genome of a 38,000-year-old Neanderthal has been sequenced by a team of scientists in Germany. The group is already extracting DNA from other ancient Neanderthal bones and hopes that the genomes will allow an unprecedented comparison between modern humans and their closest evolutionary relative.

The three-year project, which cost about €5 million (US$6.4 million), was carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. Project leader Svante Pääbo will announce the results of the preliminary genomic analysis at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois, which starts on 12 February.

Read the rest of this article...

Macedonia: Archaeological Excavations of Justiniana Prima Continue near Skopje

Excavations at the Gradishte archaeological site near the village of Taor, continue to unearth findings that shed light on the Early Byzantine fortified settlement and birthplace of Emperor Justinian I.

“A number of coins, jewellery, ceramic bowls, weapons, tools and other artefacts have been unearthed at Taor,” archaeologist Kire Ristov of the Museum of the City of Skopje who has headed the systematic excavations of the site since 2000 told the Vecher newspaper recently.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Pair unearth Saxon burial remains

The remains of a 1,500-year-old Saxon burial ground have been uncovered by two Sussex metal detector enthusiasts.

Bob White and Cliff Smith unearthed brooches, a bronze bowl, a spear and a shield from the graves of a man and two women on farmland near Lewes.

Mr Smith, of Eastbourne District Metal Detecting Club, said he knew he had found something special when he noticed part of a bowl and a piece of skull.

Read the rest of this article...

Early humans had 'jaws of steel'

Computer simulation shows early humans had jaws to eat diet of hard seeds and nuts

TEMPE, Ariz. – Your mother always told you not to use your teeth as tools to open something hard, and she was right. Human skulls have small faces and teeth and are not well-equipped to bite down forcefully on hard objects. Not so of our earliest ancestors, say scientists. New research published in the February 2009 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals nut-cracking abilities in our 2.5-million-year-old relatives that enabled them to alter their diet to adapt to changes in food sources in their environment.

Read the rest of this article...

Pagan Cult Mosaic Found Under Cathedral

A Roman mosaic floor filled with scenes depicting pagan rites and oriental gods has emerged from the ground of a Catholic church in Italy, archaeologists announced.

The mosaic pavement, which measures 13 square meters (140 square feet) and dates to the fourth century A.D., was unearthed at a depth of about 4 meters (13 feet) below the the ground's surface during archaeological investigations in the crypt of the Cathedral of Reggio Emilia, in central-northern Italy.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Location: Peru Length: 12 min.

The Incan ceremonial and administration site and fortress of Choquequirao, over 3000 m above sea level, was built in the mid-1400s and became the focal point of Inca resistance to the Spanish Conquest from 1536 to 1572. Not built for easy access, the site today is reached in two days of disciplined march. Its urban design follows the symbolic patterns of the imperial capital, with ritual places, mansions for administrators and houses for artisans, warehouses, large dormitories, and at least 180 farming terraces that belonged to the Inca or the local people.

Watch the video...

Early Human Skulls Shaped for Nut-Cracking

New research conducted in part by researchers at The George Washington University has led to novel insights into how feeding and dietary adaptations may have shaped the evolution of the earliest humans.

An interdisciplinary, international team, involving GW graduate student Janine Chalk and GW researchers Brian Richmond, Peter Lucas, Paul Constantino, and Bernard Wood, studied ancient human skull structure and found that a 2 million-year-old early human relative likely ingested large nuts and seeds that may have been “foods of last resort.” The team tested long-standing, influential ideas suggesting that early human skulls were structurally buttressed to resist stress in the face when biting with the premolar teeth, also known as bicuspids, on small, hard objects or when chewing large volumes of food using many teeth at once.

Read the rest of this article...

Intrepid treasure-hunters – or archaeological vandals?

A marine exploration company has found HMS Victory's remains. But not everyone is pleased

At 3.30pm on 4 October 1744, the Royal Navy flotilla accompanying HMS Victory caught what was to be their last glimpse of their flagship as it drifted over the horizon in stormy seas off the Channel Islands.

Laden with four tons of Portuguese gold, the pride of the British navy – and direct predecessor to Admiral Nelson's vessel of the same name – sank with all 1,150 of its crew. Only the shattered remains of its top-mast were found on a Guernsey beach as evidence of its terrible fate.

Read the rest of this article...

Mystery coffin moved to Bosworth

A medieval stone coffin rumoured to have been Richard III's has been placed at its new home in Leicestershire.

The coffin was found in a garden in Earl Shilton where it had been used in a water garden.

Archaeologists believe it dates from the time the 15th Century king died, and could once have been located at Greyfriars Church in Leicester.

Read the rest of this article...

Treasure Trove

The first ever Code of Practice for Treasure Trove in Scotland is designed to ensure everyone involved with found objects of archaeological, historical or cultural significance understands the procedures which enable them to be claimed on behalf of the public.

Since ancient times, the 'regalia minora' common law of Scotland has been that Treasure Trove and other property which is lost or abandoned, or has no obvious owner, belongs to the Crown.

Read the rest of this article...

New Evidence From Excavations In Arcadia, Greece, Supports Theory Of 'Birth Of Zeus'

the third century BCE, the Greek poet Callimachus wrote a 'Hymn to Zeus' asking the ancient, and most powerful, Greek god whether he was born in Arcadia on Mt. Lykaion or in Crete on Mt. Ida.

A Greek and American team of archaeologists working on the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project believe they have at least a partial answer to the poet’s query. New excavation evidence indicates that Zeus' worship was established on Mt. Lykaion as early as the Late Helladic period, if not before, more than 3,200 years ago. According to Dr. David Gilman Romano, Senior Research Scientist, Mediterranean Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum, and one of the project’s co-directors, it is likely that a memory of the cult's great antiquity survived there, leading to the claim that Zeus was born in Arcadia.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Is the Roman Pantheon a colossal sundial?

HAS the grand Roman Pantheon been keeping a secret for nearly 2000 years? An expert in ancient timekeeping thinks so, arguing that it acts as a colossal sundial.

The imposing temple in Rome, completed in AD 128, is one of the most impressive buildings that survives from antiquity. It consists of a cylindrical chamber topped by a domed roof with an oculus in the top which lets through a dramatic shaft of sunlight. It boasts a colonnaded courtyard at the front.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Legendary British warship 'found'

A US-based salvage firm is believed to have found remains from the wreck of a legendary British warship which sank in the English Channel in 1744.

Odyssey Marine Exploration is expected to announce on Monday that it has found HMS Victory, the forerunner of Nelson's famous flagship of the same name.

Read the rest of this article...

Salvage team finds wreck of the Victory

The wreck of one of the most famous ships in British naval history has been discovered by a controversial US marine salvage company - a find that will fuel a major row about the UK's heritage.

HMS Victory, a warship known as "the finest ship in the world", went down with all hands in 1744 off the Channel Islands and its exact location has remained a mystery for more than 250 years.

Read the rest of this article...