Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Archaeology Quiz of the Week: Middle Paleolithic

Today's Archaeology Quiz of the Week is on Middle Paleolithic, that most exciting period in human history.

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Secrets of Oystermouth to be unearthed

Fascinating discoveries are hoped for as archaeologists today start a dig on the site of Swansea's 12th century Oystermouth Castle.

Volunteers will work alongside experts as the group excavates outside the castle's west tower, explores the knoll area and looks for the outer wall and ditch.

Daily guided tours are being organised within a few days of starting the dig and everyone taking part will have the chance to learn about excavation techniques, how to record discoveries and how to deal with objects that are found.

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Skeleton reveals violent life and death of medieval knight

A 620-year-old skeleton discovered under the floor of Stirling Castle has shed new light on the violent life of a medieval knight.

Archaeologists believe that bones found in an ancient chapel on the site are those of an English knight named Robert Morley who died in a tournament there in 1388.

Radio carbon dating has confirmed that the skeleton is from that period, and detailed analysis suggests that he was in his mid-20s, was heavily muscled and had suffered several serious wounds in earlier contests.

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Hard days for Stirling knight who'd been hit by axe, arrow and sword

WHEN the skeleton was discovered buried beneath Stirling Castle more than a decade ago, archaeologists knew only that the man had been someone important, possibly a priest.

However, new analytical techniques have revealed the 600-year-old bones had a very different past – as they are those of a horrifically injured knight who lived a short but "incredibly violent" life.

Research has shown the man, who was in his twenties, was killed by a sword slicing through his nose and jaw. It also revealed he had previously survived both an axe wound to the forehead and a large arrowhead being embedded in his chest.

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Important historic remains unearthed in Bridlington

REMAINS of some of the earliest houses ever found in the North of England have been unearthed in Bridlington.

Archaeologists have discovered that buildings stood on the site of the current Cottage Farm development more than 5,000 years ago.

In a significant find, a team uncovered remains of houses, fields, kilns and people during excavations of the area, on the north side of town.

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Dig aims to uncover castle past

The first major archaeological dig to take place at a medieval castle near Swansea is underway.

Experts and volunteers are hoping to uncover artefacts along with clues as the original layout of Oystermouth Castle in Mumbles.

They will be on site digging and examining trenches for three weeks.

The ruined castle was recently given a £1.7m restoration lifeline which will pay for conservation works and for a new interpretation centre.

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Acropolis Museum: Athens unveils its bid for the Marbles

Greece’s New Acropolis Museum is a formidable rival to the British Museum and has renewed debate about the Elgin Marbles.

'The opening of the New Acropolis Museum was one of the most emotional experiences of my life” says Tina Daskalantonakis, a Greek hotelier. “It is more than a museum – it is a symbol of national pride and hope for the future.”

The museum in question crouches 300 metres below the Acropolis. An angular behemoth of glass, steel, concrete and marble housing some 4,000 artefacts, it is the culmination of an idea first mooted by Konstantinos Karamanlis’s Conservative government in 1976 and, since the early 1980s, passionately advocated by the Socialist minister of culture Melina Mercouri: the creation of a home in which the Parthenon Marbles can be reunited and displayed to the world.

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Bulgaria: Archaeologists Discover Building Remains in Ancient Town of Marcianopolis

The foundations of an ancient building were recently discovered during archaeological excavations of the ancient Roman town Marcianopolis in north-eastern Bulgaria, representatives of the Mosaics Museum in the town of Devnya told national media last week.

This is the first time in 20 years that the region is being excavated, according to Ivan Sutev, head of the museum. This year’s archaeological research, he added, is to be carried out in two phases – the first one began on May 13 and has already been completed.

The ancient Roman building’s foundations were discovered in the site’s western part, but Sutev declined to speak about them in detail, as more research of the discoveries needs to be carried out first.

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No proof that Vatican bones are St Paul's, says Dutch expert

Responding to the claim by Pope Benedict XVI that the bones of St Paul have been found in Rome, a Dutch expert, Rengert Elburg, said Monday this can never be proven.

Elburg, an expert on archaeological study of old bones and organic remains for the government of the German state of Saxony, told the German Press Agency dpa in an interview, 'It's impossible to establish that it's him.'

Even a genetic analysis of the bones in a sarcophagus marked as Paul's would reveal nothing, because there were no proven descendants whose DNA could be compared.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Prehistoric European Cave Artists Were Female

Inside France's 25,000-year-old Pech Merle cave, hand stencils surround the famed "Spotted Horses" mural.

For about as long as humans have created works of art, they've also left behind handprints. People began stenciling, painting, or chipping imprints of their hands onto rock walls at least 30,000 years ago.

Until recently, most scientists assumed these prehistoric handprints were male. But "even a superficial examination of published photos suggested to me that there were lots of female hands there," Pennsylvania State University archaeologist Dean Snow said of European cave art.

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Oldest known portrait of St Paul revealed by Vatican archaeologists

Vatican archaeologists have uncovered what they say is the oldest known portrait of St Paul. The portrait, which was found two weeks ago but has been made public only after restoration, shows St Paul with a high domed forehead, deep-set eyes and a long pointed beard, confirming the image familiar from later depictions.

L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, which devoted two pages to the discovery, said that the oval portrait, dated to the 4th century, had been found in the catacombs of St Thecla, not far from the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls, where the apostle is buried. The find was “an extraordinary event”, said Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

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Students dig Iron Age

TROWELS are at the ready for an annual dig that will uncover new information about an Iron Age settlement.

The annual Silchester dig on the site of Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, near Silchester, begins on Monday for six weeks, until August 9.

The dig is organised by the Field School at Reading University’s Department of Archaeology as a research and training excavation which this year will involve about 70 first year archaeology students and 200 other people learning the ropes of excavation.

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Acle dig finds rewrite history

Two top archaeologists and a group of budding relic-hunters are hoping to rewrite Norfolk's history books by digging up 11 back gardens.

Dr Carenza Lewis and Paul Blinkhorn, both of TV Time Team fame, and a team of high school students have unearthed evidence in Acle that may go on to prove the region's rich past was much more turbulent that thought.

Acle is one of 10 villages in Norfolk and Suffolk to have opened up their gardens to the archaeologists for a new book which is set challenge the traditional view of village life from the Dark Ages and medieval times.

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Pope claims human remains belong to St Paul

Human remains found beneath the Vatican have been identified as belonging to St Paul, Pope Benedict XVI said, apparently laying to rest the mystery of a tomb first discovered in the city in 2006.

Archaeologists found material and fragments of bone dating to the first or second century AD inside the tomb at the basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.

Vatican experts claim the tomb's position, underneath the epigraph Paulo Apostolo Mart (Paul the Apostle and Martyr), at the base of the main altar is proof that it belongs to the apostle.

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Castle bones may belong to knight

Archaeologists believe that bones discovered at Stirling Castle may have belonged to a knight killed in battle or during a siege in the early 1400s.

It is thought that despite the warrior's relatively young age of about 25, he may have suffered several serious wounds from earlier fights.

Researchers thinks it is also possible he may have been living for some time with a large arrowhead in his chest.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ancient river found beneath the Channel during Olympics survey

An ancient river bed that has lain unseen for 185,000 years has been uncovered by scientists mapping the parts of the English Channel in the run up to the 2012 Olympics.

The groundbreaking discovery was made during a two-year £300,000 project to map 500 square miles of seabed off the Jurassic coast in Dorset.

Using new and incredibly accurate mapping techniques, experts traced the river that may have once been used as a watering hole by woolly mammoths that roamed the area.

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Evidence Found of Parthenon Coloring

The iconic pure white of ancient Greek sculptures makes it difficult to picture them in any other way, but new evidence suggests that the Parthenon temple’s statues and friezes were originally colored. Researchers at the British Museum say they have detected tiny traces of blue paint on the building's statues and friezes. Although only a few hints of a pigment called Egyptian blue have been detected so far, experts believe the original coloring would have included red, along with highlights of gold. At the same time, the original marble still showed through white in places.

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Models of Earliest (Camel-Pulled) Vehicles Found

Some of the world's first farmers may have sped around in two-wheeled carts pulled by camels and bulls, suggests a new analysis on tiny models of these carts that date to 6,000-5,000 years ago.

The cart models, which may have been ritual objects or children's toys, were found at Altyndepe, a Chalcolithic and Bronze Age settlement in Western Central Asia near Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Together with other finds, the cart models provide a history of how wheeled transportation first emerged in the area and later developed.

"Horsepower" is a common term today, but the ancients had bull-power, followed by camel-power, researcher Lyubov Kircho explained to Discovery News.

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Oldest human settlement in Aegean unearthed on Limnos island

The ruins of the oldest human settlement in the Aegean found so far have been unearthed in archaeological excavations by a team of Greek, Italian and American archaeologists on the island of Limnos, headed by Thessaloniki Aristotle University (AUTH) professor of Prehistoric Archaeology Nikos Efstratiou.

The excavation began in early June and the finds brought to light so far, mainly stone tools of a high quality, are from the Epipaleolithic Period approximately 14,000 years ago. The finds indicate a settlement of hunters, food-collectors and fishermen of the 12th millennium BC.

Until now, it was believed that the oldest human presence in the Aegean had been located in the Archipelagos of the so-called Cyclops Cave on the rocky islet Yioura, north of the island of Alonissos, and at the Maroula site on Kythnos island, dating to circa 8,000 (8th millennium) BC.

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Die Kunst der Kelten in in Bern

Zum ersten Mal im deutschsprachigen Raum wird mit der Ausstellung «Kunst der Kelten – 700 vor bis 700 nach Chr.» das Kunstschaffen der antiken Kelten in den Mittelpunkt gestellt. Präsentiert werden rund 450 Meisterwerke aus vierzehn Jahrhunderten. Die ausgesuchten Ausstellungsstücke stammen aus ganz Europa, vom Atlantik bis zu den Alpen und von Schottland bis nach Bulgarien. Die Ausstellung dauert bis zum 18. Oktober und entstand in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Landesmuseum Württemberg in Stuttgart.

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Twitter and Archaeology

Now I know Twitter is not everybody's cup of tea, but I was poking around today and discovered some very interesting projects in Twitter. If you've been interested in seeing what different archaeological groups are up to on Twitter, or contemplating running a Twitter feed for your own group, this blog is for you.

It took me several hours, but I found a lot of professional archaeologists and students who were tweeting about archaeology; and I also found a lot of creative use of Twitter by organizations, archaeological sites, museum, magazines—even a handful of CRM firms to get news out about their organizations. Each of the following links should take you to a Twitter page, where you can cruise at your own pace and see what others are doing.

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Important trade links unearthed

AN archaeological dig in the centre of Worcester has been hailed as the most important excavation of the Roman period in 20 years.

The excavation of The Butts, on the site of the future Worcester Library and History Centre site, has given local historians a major insight into the Roman town of Vigornia – which became Worcester.

Worcestershire County Council’s historic environment and archaeology team can now prove that Roman Worcester was a well-developed town with trade links across the empire.

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Scarborough's Roman coin find

METAL-detecting enthusiasts could soon be coining it in after discovering a hoard of silver Roman cash dating back 1,500 years.

The find of 75 silver coins and 10 bronze, dating back to the year 355, was made on farmland near Filey.

They were issued during the reign of several Roman emperors, including Julian, Valentinian and Valens.

The discovery was officially confirmed as treasure by Scarborough coroner Michael Oakley at a special inquest. That means the British Museum Trust has "first refusal" on the find.

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Controversy arises over ancient stone site

The controversy over Ale's Stones (Ales stenar), a sandstone monument in the form of a ship, in Skåne in southern Sweden has taken a new turn.

The county administrative board has taken a decision to charge amateur archeaologist Bob G. Lind a fine of 20,000 kronor per day if he puts up signs at the popular tourist destination, reports Skånska Dagbladet newspaper.

Lind's previous signs at Ale's Stones, which has been called the "Stonehenge of the Nordic region", have been removed by the county board. They describe Lind's theories about the origins of the monument, which differ from those of professional archaeologists.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Giving the archaeology buffs a chance to get their hands dirty

A series of training courses will begin next month, aimed at tempting armchair archaeology buffs out of doors and into the field.

As part of the Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme, members of the public can now participate in a series of archaeological excavation courses - ending up working on one of two digs in the county.

The courses centre around the ongoing archaeological work at Cantick and the Cairns, Windwick, South Ronaldsay.

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Huge dig uncovers mill on the Foss

THE remains of one of England's largest flour mills have been uncovered during the biggest archeological dig a Yorkshire city has seen for 25 years.

The Victorian building which once housed a massive steam engine used to power machinery has been discovered during the excavations in York.

While York is normally associated with the chocolate and railways industries, the remains of the flour mill have provided evidence of another facet in the city's history.

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Bronze Age burial ground uncovered

MAJOR roadworks on one of Ulster's main thoroughfares have uncovered items of archaeological significance.

Excavation as part of the upgrade of the A1 Belfast to Dublin road between Loughbrickland and Beech Hill has uncovered a Bronze Age burial ground and a Neolithic settlement site dating back 6,500 years.

The find has been described as "rare and extremely significant".

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Grimsby's secrets set to be revealed by dig

ARCHAEOLOGISTS hoping to uncover the secrets of Grimsby's past are studying their initial findings after carrying out an exploratory dig in Cartergate.

Pre Construct Archaeology, which is carrying out the work on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council, has carried out trial trenching and will now compile a report before deciding which areas require more detailed work and preservation.

The site, soon to be transformed into a £12m residential and retail development, could reveal clues and remains of the town's past dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries.

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Fetternear dig set for 15th season

A LOCAL archaeological excavation is about to begin its 15th season
The dig, at Fetternear, is will commence on Monday (June 29).

Since 1995, fieldwork has included the excavation and landscape survey of the medieval Bishop's Palace and the post-medieval mansion. It forms part of the Scottish Episcopal Palaces Project that aims to study the residences of the medieval bishops in Scotland.

Fetternear was the summer place of the bishops of Aberdeen; it was a moated earthwork site, which later became a masonry building. After the Reformation, it became the main seat of the Leslies of Balqauhain. The buildings went through various transformations becoming a towerhouse, hallhouse and finally a mansion, which burned down in 1919.

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Stone Age flutes found in Germany

Prehistoric people made musical instruments out of bone and ivory soon after reaching Europe

The hills may be alive with the sound of music, but so were vulture bones and mammoth tusks for ancient Europeans. Researchers working at two Stone Age German sites have unearthed a nearly complete flute made from a vulture’s forearm as well as sections of three mammoth-ivory flutes.

These 35,000- to 40,000-year-old finds are the oldest known musical instruments in the world, says archaeologist and project director Nicholas Conard of the University of Tübingen in Germany.

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Race to save rare cave carvings

Experts have been trying to find out why ancient carvings in a mysterious chalk cave in Royston town centre are slowly disappearing.

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A Little Flute Music To Warm The Cave

Archaeologists say they have unearthed the world's oldest musical instruments. They are flutes, made of vulture bone and mammoth tusks. They were found in caves in southwestern Germany and date back to the time when modern human beings — who actually looked like us — were first venturing into Europe.

Scientists have little doubt that music is so basic to human nature that it goes back to our earliest days as a species. It's hard not to make music, when you think about it.

"Clap your hands, tap your foot, dance, sing, whistle. There's endless music you can make just with your body," says Nicholas Conard at Tuebingen University.

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35,000-year-old flute is oldest known musical instrument

The discovery, reported in the journal Nature, suggests that the first humans to occupy Europe had a fairly sophisticated culture. The instrument was excavated from a cave in Germany.

The wing bone of a griffon vulture with five precisely drilled holes in it is the oldest known musical instrument, a 35,000-year-old relic of an early human society that drank beer, played flute and drums and danced around the campfire on cold winter evenings, researchers said Wednesday.

Excavated from a cave in Germany, the nearly complete flute suggests that the first humans to occupy Europe had a fairly sophisticated culture, complete with alcohol, adornments, art objects and music that they developed there or even brought with them from Africa when they moved to the new continent 40,000 years or so ago.

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Erstmals seit dem Ende der Antike: Zwei römische Schiffe treffen sich auf der Mosel

Das rekonstruierte Kriegsschiff "Victoria" kommt nach Trier

Römische Kriegsschiffe auf der Mosel? Hat es das seit den glorreichen Zeiten des Kaisers Konstantin jemals wieder gegeben? Die Verleihung des Ausonius-Preises an Prof. Dr. Rainer Wiegels, einen der führenden Varus-Forscher, am 26. Juni 2009 macht es erstmals möglich: Das rekonstruierte Kriegsschiff "Victoria" kommt im Rahmen der Ausstellung "Imperium Konflikt Mythos. 2000 Jahre Varus-Schlacht" nach Trier.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

World's oldest musical instrument 'played Star Spangled Banner'

An ancient flute has been unearthed in Germany, revealing that musical traditions began earlier than previously thought.

The bone instrument, which is almost completely intact, has been dated to around 33,000BC — more than 5,000 years older than the earliest musical instruments on record.

Fragments of three ivory flutes were discovered at the same site, the Hohle Fels cave, near the city of Ulm.

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Stone Age wells found in Cyprus

Archaeologists have found a group of water wells in western Cyprus believed to be among the oldest in the world.

The skeleton of a young woman was among items found at the bottom of one shaft.

Radiocarbon dating indicates the wells are 9,000 to 10,500 years old, putting them in the Stone Age, the Cypriot Antiquities Department says.

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Co Down dig reveals a prehistoric mystery

Prehistoric mysteries uncovered in an archaeological dig at a Co Down road scheme were revealed to the public this morning.

The team behind the dig at the A1 Loughbrickland road scheme has uncovered not just a Bronze Age burial ground but also a Neolithic settlement dating back some 6,500 years.

The settlements, which contained a number of intriguing artefacts, lay on a finger of land which is believed to have been almost surrounded by water in prehistoric times. Three books on the finds have been published, including ‘Digging Down’, a children’s book, and a number of information boards at Loughbrickland lakeside were unveiled by Education Minister Caitriona Ruane this morning.

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Showcasing the secrets of Caistor Roman Town

In December 2007 a team of experts, led by The University of Nottingham, unveiled an extraordinary set of high-resolution images that gave an insight into the plan of the Roman town of Venta Icenorum at Caistor St Edmund in Norfolk.

The new research demonstrated that Caistor is a site of international importance — and tomorrow there will be an event to showcase the work and to clarify some of the mysteries of this buried roman town and highlight the impact of the research in developing Caistor as a cultural resource for Norfolk.

The high-resolution geophysical survey used a Caesium Vapour magnetometer to map buried remains across the entire walled area of the Roman town. It produced the clearest plan of the town yet seen confirming the street plan, the town’s water supply system, and the series of public buildings including the baths, temples and forum, know from earlier excavations.

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The first Europeans were cannibals: archaeologists

The remains of the "first Europeans" discovered at an archaeological site in northern Spain have revealed that these prehistoric men were cannibals who particularly liked the flesh of children.

"We know that they practiced cannibalism," said Jose Maria Bermudez de Castro, one of the co-directors of the Atapuerca project, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A study of the remains revealed that they turned to cannibalism to feed themselves and not as part of a ritual, that they ate their rivals after killing them, mostly children and adolescents.

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Prehistoric flute in Germany is oldest known

A bird-bone flute unearthed in a German cave was carved some 35,000 years ago and is the oldest handcrafted musical instrument yet discovered, archaeologists say, offering the latest evidence that early modern humans in Europe had established a complex and creative culture.

A team led by University of Tuebingen archaeologist Nicholas Conard assembled the flute from 12 pieces of griffon vulture bone scattered in a small plot of the Hohle Fels cave in southern Germany.

Together, the pieces comprise a 8.6-inch (22-centimeter) instrument with five holes and a notched end. Conard said the flute was 35,000 years old.

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Archaeological dig finds unveiled

The results of a significant archaeological dig in County Down will be unveiled later.

Neolithic and Bronze Age remains were found at the site in Loughbrickland when work began on new roads four years ago.

The results of the find will be announced on Thursday afternoon.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Marble Head of Emperor Titus Found

Archaeologists have unearthed a hoard of ancient Roman treasures, including a marble head of the Roman emperor Titus, during an excavation outside the southern Italian city of Naples.

The long-term digging effort in Rione Terra, a cliff in the port town of Pozzuoli, has yielded remains of 12 ancient statues, columns and fragments bearing inscriptions from what appear to be monuments from the Republican and Imperial periods of ancient Roman history.

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Facedown Burials Widely Used to Humiliate the Dead

Burying the dead facedown in ancient times didn't mean RIP, according to new research that says the practice was both deliberate and widespread.

Experts have assumed such burials were either unusual or accidental.

But the first global study on the facedown burials suggests that it was a custom used across societies to disrespect or humiliate the dead.

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Construction Destroys Archaeological Sites in Bulgaria's Sozopol

Hotel construction is destroying incredibly precious archaeological sites in the Bulgarian Black Sea resort of Sozopol.

This was announced by Svilen Ovcharov, a Sozopol lawyer specializing in media, copyright, human rights, and environment law, as quoted by BGNES.

According to Ovcharov, the new hotels in the areas around Sozopol known as Bodzhaka, Kalfata, and Harmanite are being constructed on top of an archaeological layer, which is deep from 2 to 7 meters. It contains a number of ancient graves that have not been excavated and researched.

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Bulgarian Archaeologists Uncover Intact Thracian Settlement

A team of Bulgarian archaeologists has uncovered a Thracian settlement close to the southeast town of Nova Zagora.

The team of Konstantin Gospodinov and Veselin Ignatov from the city of Burgas hope that their finding would be the first Thracian settlement to be uncovered in its entirety.

The settlement is located along the Blatnitsa River. It had a moat around it, and include large buildings rising above the ground, news.dir.bg reported.

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Neanderthals Made Mammoth Jerky

Necessity compelled Neanderthals to dry hunks of big game meat for easy transport, according to a new study on the survival needs of Neanderthals.

Neanderthals also likely wore tailored clothing, according to the new study, which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Archaeology.

The findings help to explain how Neanderthals could transport meat over long distances without it rotting, as well as how they survived the often chilly conditions of Northern Europe.

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Sewage work uncovers ancient site

The discovery of stones that are thought to date back to the Bronze Age have halted a multi-million pound sewage treatment project in Cornwall.

South West Water has stopped work while Cornwall Council's archaeologists investigate the site at Trevalga, which lies between Boscastle and Tintagel.

The stones encircle a dark circular stain in the ground and are thought to denote the location of a round house.

Archaeologists believe the site could date back to about 1500BC.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Church leaders sign heritage bid and declare Bede the Einstein of his time

Two senior church leaders have hailed the Venerable Bede as the "Einstein of his time" after backing a major heritage bid in Sunderland.

The Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant, and the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Tom Wright, joined forces at an inter-denominational event at St Paul's Church in Church Bank, Jarrow.

Both bishops, plus priests, clergy and lay members from several Christian churches signed a Book of Life, a modern day equivalent of a monastic document, aimed at boosting the Wearmouth-Jarrow bid for World Heritage Site status.

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Birmingham's second oldest church needs £1m to survive

HERITAGE chiefs have been asked to come to the rescue of a 700-year-old Birmingham church which is threatened by closure.

More than £1 million is needed to secure the future of St Edburgha’s in Yardley which needs emergency work on its crumbling 150ft tower.

Church leaders say they may have to shut the Grade I-listed chapel within two years unless about £300,000 is found to protect the spire from collapsing. Now they have applied to English Heritage for a grant to help speed up the work while their own tireless fund-raising continues.

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Ancient Holy Land quarry uncovered, team says

Israeli archaeologists said on Sunday they had discovered the largest underground quarry in the Holy Land, dating back to the time of Jesus and containing Christian symbols etched into the walls.

The 4,000-square-meter (yard) cavern, buried 10 meters beneath the desert near the ancient West Bank city of Jericho, was dug about 2,000 years ago and was in use for about half a millennium, archaeologist Adam Zertal said.

The cave's main hall, about three meters tall, is supported by some 20 stone pillars and has a variety of symbols etched into the walls, including crosses dating back to about AD 350 and Roman legionary emblems.

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Ancient granaries preceded the Agricultural Revolution

A Jordanian site yields food-storage facilities from more than 11,000 years ago, indicating that a major social shift led to the rise of domesticated crops

It apparently took a long time to get the Agricultural Revolution off the ground. Prehistoric hunter-gatherers in the Middle East cultivated the farming life over more than a millennium, largely thanks to their proficiency at building structures to store wild cereals, a new report suggests.

Excavations at Dhra' near the Dead Sea in Jordan have uncovered remnants of four sophisticated granaries built between 11,300 and 11,175 years ago, about a millennium before domesticated plants were known to have been cultivated there, say archaeologists Ian Kuijt of the University of Notre Dame and Bill Finlayson of the Council for British Research in the Levant in Amman, Jordan.

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Study: Food storage began well before farming

People were storing grain long before they learned to domesticate crops, a new study indicates. A structure used as a food granary discovered in recent excavations in Jordan dates to about 11,300 years ago, according to a report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

That's as much as a thousand years before people in the Middle East domesticated grain, the research team led by anthropologist Ian Kuijt of the University of Notre Dame said.

Remains of wild barley were found in the structure, indicating that the grain was collected and saved even though formal cultivation had not yet developed.

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Underground cave dating from the year 1 A.D. exposed in Jordan Valley

The cave was originally a large quarry during the Roman and Byzantine era and was one of its kind; various engravings were uncovered in the cave, including cross markings, and it is assumed that this could have been an early monastery

An artificial underground cave, the largest in Israel, has been exposed in the Jordan Valley in the course of a survey carried out by the University of Haifa's Department of Archaeology. Prof. Adam Zertal, who headed the excavating team, reckons that this cave was originally a large quarry during the Roman and Byzantine era and was one of its kind. Various engravings were uncovered in the cave, including cross markings, and it is assumed that this could have been an early monastery. "It is probably the site of "Galgala" from the historical Madaba Map," Prof. Zertal says.

The enormous and striking cave covers an area of approximately 1 acre: it is some 100 meters long and about 40 meters wide. The cave is located 4 km north of Jericho. The cave, which is the largest excavated by man to be discovered in Israel, was exposed in the course of an archaeological survey that the University of Haifa has been carrying out since 1978.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Archaeologists tackle impacts of climate change

The effects of climate change, including rising sea level and coastal erosion, as well as other factors such as coastal development and shoreline management initiatives, constantly threaten archaeological sites along our coast. The destructive power of the sea is at its most visible during heavy storms when archaeological sites can be rapidly revealed or buried in thick sediment. However, steady change, such as the gradual erosion of the cliffs of Dover, can also bury, reveal or destroy archaeology. From 500,000 year old hand-axes to military aircraft lost during the Second World War, the archaeology of the coast of England is likely to represent every period and theme in archaeology.

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Roman shipwreck find

A shipwreck believed to date back to Roman times was found at the bottom of Montenegro's Boka Kotorska bay, officials said on Tuesday.

"We believe we have found the wreckage of a ship that could have been used to transport goods," Montenegro's regional Cultural Heritage Preservation Institute said in a statement.

Officials refused to reveal the location of the shipwreck until the area was fully secured.

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Huge Roman-era cave found by Jericho

The largest cave ever found in Israel has been uncovered near the West Bank city of Jericho etched with Christian symbols, an Israeli archeologist said Sunday.

The immense cave, which spans more than four dunams and is buried 10 meters beneath the desert, was dug about 2,000 years ago, Haifa University archaeologist Prof. Adam Zertal said.

The site, which is located 4 km north of the ancient city of Jericho, was used as a large quarry in the Roman era and was probably used as a monastery and a hiding place for hundreds of years, he said.

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Looking into wetlands' ancient past

The hidden history of marshlands near a Lincolnshire town could be revealed when archaeologists start digging them up.

The work is taking place in advance of a project to create a haven for otters, water voles, birds and dragonflies at Beckingham Marshes, near Gainsborough.

A team from the University of Birmingham will be using carbon dating and analysis of buried pollen to work out what the Trent Valley looked like between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Record crowd for Solstice sunrise

A record crowd of about 36,500 revellers has welcomed the dawn of the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge.

The number of people attending the event caused roads in the area to become gridlocked in the hours leading up to sunrise at 0458 BST.

Druid ceremonies took place alongside music and Morris dancing, however overcast skies obscured the sun.

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Record crowd greet solstice at Stonehenge

Record numbers of people descended on Stonehenge this morning to mark the summer solstice.

Despite the sun not making an appearance in an overcast sky, around 36,500 people enjoyed a carnival atmosphere at the ancient stone circle on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.

An eccentric mix of Morris dancers, pagans dressed in their traditional robes and musicians playing guitars and drums gathered alongside visitors from across the world.

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The Acropolis Museum opens in Athens

Now all it needs is the Elgin Marbles says Sean Newsom on a flying visit to the Greek capital

Chaps, it looks as if we’re running out of arguments. In the long-running dispute over who should have the Elgin Marbles — the exquisite frieze sawn off the Parthenon between 1801 and 1805, and currently housed in the British Museum — the Greeks may have just played the winning card.

Yesterday, Athens saw the official opening of the state-of-the-art Acropolis Museum, almost within touching distance of the monument itself.

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Record crowds at Stonehenge for summer solstice celebrations

Druids began their incantations, Wiccan priestesses drew their cowls tight against the damp morning air and four half-naked Papuan dancers waved their hands in the air and went: “Woo, woo, woo”.

Only the guest of honour failed to put in an appearance at Stonehenge.

A record 36,500 people had gathered at the prehistoric monument on Salisbury Plain to watch the sun rise. So many turned out to celebrate the solstice that roads had to be shut and the vast field converted into a car park for 6,500 vehicles was full by 3am.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Do bow and arrow predate modern humans?

BOWS and arrows may not be the preserve of modern humans. It seems that simple stone blades make adequate arrowheads, so they might have been used in lightweight projectile weapons as far back as 100,000 years ago, when the blades first appeared.

Spears and arrows would have let early hunters catch small fast-moving creatures rather than tackling large dangerous animals with hand-held blades. Matthew Sisk and John Shea from Stony Brook University in New York have shown that so-called Levallois points make effective arrowheads. They turned 51 reproduction blades into arrows and successfully shot them into an animal carcass (Journal of Archaeological Science, DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2009.05.023).

The earliest definite arrowheads date to around 20,000 years ago and are the handiwork of modern humans.

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Honey-Loving Chimps Handy, Too

Life for human evolution researchers was so much simpler 50 years ago. There seemed to be a clear distinction between the cognitive capacities of humans and that of all other animals. The proof: Humans made tools, other species did not. The concept was perhaps best expressed in the title of a 1949 book by British anthropologist Kenneth Oakley, Man the Tool-Maker. As late as the early 1960s, most researchers agreed with famed fossil hunter Louis Leakey that toolmaking was a uniquely human activity.

But with more and more scientific observations of primates, identifying “uniquely human” behavior has been getting harder and harder. A paper in the June Journal of Human Evolution now extends animals’ reach even further toward human abilities, reporting that wild chimpanzees can sequentially craft a set of tools for a single task. Primatologist Christophe Boesch and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, conclude that researchers might have to rethink their whole approach to the cognitive divide between humans and their primate cousins.

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Der erste Neanderthaler Hollands lag auf dem Grund der Nordsee

Hobby-Paläontologe entdeckte Schädelfragment im Abfall eines Muschelfischers

Das Alter des Knochens schätzen Experten auf über 40.000 Jahre. Zu dieser Zeit war dort, wo heute Fischerboote fahren, noch ein fruchtbares, von Flüssen durchzogenes Land.

Der bedeutende Fund stammt aus einem als Middeldiep bezeichneten Gebiet rund 15 km vor der Küste Zeelands. Wie das Nationale Altertümermuseum (Rijksmusem van Oudheden) jetzt mitteilte, war das Fragment eines Stirnbeins bereits vor einigen Jahren entdeckt worden und wurde zwischenzeitlich von der Forschergruppe um Jean-Jacques Hublin vom Max-Planck-Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie in Leipzig und holländischen Wissenschaftlern untersucht.

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Artefacts found at nature reserve

Human remains and Roman artefacts have been unearthed in an Iron Age ditch at a new nature reserve in Cambridgeshire.

Archaeologists made the discoveries at a former quarry at Cherry Hinton, near Cambridge, which is to open to visitors for the first time in 100 years.

East Pit has been transformed by the Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust into a haven for wild flowers and birds.

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New evidence of prehistoric man in north east Wales

EVIDENCE of human activity dating back nearly 10,000 years has been discovered in north east Wales.

Analysis of a sample of earth extracted from the Moel Llys y Coed, near Cilcain, in the Clwydian Range, has helped archaeologists paint a picture of the area during the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.

The project, which involved analysis techiniques including pollen levels and radio carbon dating, was funded by the Royal Commission on the Archaeological Historical Monuments of Wales.

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Archaeological disoveries at Berkeley Castle

Students from Bristol University excavated archaeological remains from the grounds of Berkeley Castle and uncovered an early form of recycling. The team were involved in a research project which has been running since 2005.

Among their discoveries were Roman bricks, medieval tombstones and glass which had been re-used to create foundations and drain linings for other building work. A treasure trove of artefacts were also uncovered, including Anglo Saxon coins, dress hooks and buckles, as well as Roman coins.

The students were working under the supervision of Professor Mark Horton and Dr Stuart Prior, both TV presenters as well as academics at the university. Professor Horton is head of archaeology and a member of the team on the BBC programme Coast. Dr Prior is a regular on Channel 4's Time Team.

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Byzantine church destroyed in Abkhazia

Architectural remnants of a Byzantium church were demolished by a bulldozer in the village of Reka, Abkhazia, according to Vadim Bzhania, a local official.

“Group of businessmen with the help of a local resident committed this act of vandalism,” he further explained, adding, "in the village everyone knows who actually conducted the process of clearing the land of archaeological sites. The damage cannot be repaid with money, these are priceless objects of historical and cultural heritage."

The local administration’s archeologists carried out an expedition to the village of Reka in January 2009. Experts made photo survey of the territory where unexplored remnants of the medieval fortresses and churches were located.

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New Acropolis Museum the perfect home for Elgin Marbles, say Greeks

Workmen were putting the finishing touches yesterday to Ancient Greece’s newest and most extravagant showcase, the New Acropolis Museum, due for a fanfare-filled inauguration today. But conspicuously absent are the very relics which the €130m futurist building was expressly designed for: the Elgin Marbles.

The airy top floor of the 25,000 square metre museum, offering an unparallelled view of the Parthenon atop the Acropolis a couple of hundred yards away, has been reserved for when the Marbles — as many Greeks devoutly hope — return.

Yet as dozens of dignitaries arrived for the opening that Antonis Samaras, the Greek Minister for Culture, promised would be “a magical atmosphere with musical surprises” (and drain some €3m out of the Greek taxpayer’s pocket), it seemed likely that the Parthenon Hall, as the glass-domed top floor is called, would remain empty for a considerable time to come.

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Acropolis now! A museum for the Elgin Marbles

The battle to recover the Elgin Marbles has been long and fruitless. Now Greece has built a museum in the hope it will one day house them.

From a distance, you could almost mistake it for a designer multi-storey car park. The grey concrete and angular lines are certainly a contrast to the classical marble edifice in whose shadow it stands. Yet the Parthenon seems to look down on the architectural upstart not with disapproval but pride, affection, and most of all hope. Hope that the new offspring can finally bring the ancestral treasures home.

These are heavy expectations for a museum to bear. But the Acropolis Museum was, quite literally, built to shoulder them. Unlike any other museum in the world, it was designed to house something it didn't own. We're talking of course about those infamous marbles that were hacked from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin at the start of the 119th century and that now reside in Bloomsbury in the British Museum. Greece wants them back and having failed to make headway with verbal arguments, it is trying visual ones.

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Acropolis museum raises Marbles' hopes

As the new Acropolis museum opens in Athens, Frank Partridge investigates whether the long-running dispute between Britain and Greece over the Parthenon Marbles will be resolved.

Museums are not renowned as places of high drama, but everything about the glassy, angular structure that has appeared at the foot of Acropolis Hill is dramatic.

The design is provocative, the contents breathtaking, and its showpiece gallery is intended to deliver a cultural and political thunderbolt as powerful as anything the goddess Athena once threw.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

New discovery suggests mammoths survived in Britain until 14,000 years ago

Research which finally proves that bones found in Shropshire, England provide the most geologically recent evidence of woolly mammoths in North Western Europe publishes today in the Geological Journal. Analysis of both the bones and the surrounding environment suggests that some mammoths remained part of British wildlife long after they are conventionally believed to have become extinct.

The mammoth bones, consisting of one largely complete adult male and at least four juveniles, were first excavated in 1986, but the carbon dating which took place at the time has since been considered inaccurate. Technological advances during the past two decades now allow a more exact reading, which complements the geological data needed to place the bones into their environmental context. This included a study of the bones' decay, analysis of fossilised insects which were also found on the site, and a geological analysis of the surrounding sediment.

The research was carried out by Professor Adrian Lister, based at the Natural History Museum in London, who has conducted numerous studies into 'extinction lag' where small pockets of a species have survived for thousands of years longer than conventionally thought.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Yorkshire treasure stash unearthed after 1,000 years

MORE than a thousand years ago a Saxon thief, desperate to hide his plunder, stashed a hoard of stolen gold in what is today a nondescript West Yorkshire field.

What became of the thief is lost to the ages and his precious loot lay safely buried in that same field for the next millennium.

There it remained until a treasure hunter, out with his trusty metal detector last year, experienced the moment he will never forget when he unearthed the amazing find on the farmland near Leeds.

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Ancient burial site found at Boscastle

AN ANCIENT burial site dating from the Dark Ages has been discovered at Boscastle during work to create a new waste water scheme for the area.

A pagan and Christian cemetery, including at least 18 graves, was unearthed during the setting up of a compound.

The discovery prompted South West Water (SWW) to call in experts to help understand the significance of the find.

Experts said the particular type of graves found were extremely rare.

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Humans worked the Welsh hills 10,000 years ago

Hunters and farmers were using the Clwydian Hills in North Wales 10,000 years ago, new research has revealed,

Analysis of a sample of earth extracted from the Clwydian Range has pieced together the timeline of human activity on the hills dating back almost 10,000 years.

The sample was taken from Moel Llys y Coed near Cilcain, to provide a picture for the change in the landscape over the years to become the heather moorland seen today.

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Blog for 'burial pit' relief road

A multimillion pound road development in Dorset has become the county council's first project to have its own online blog.

The Weymouth Relief Road site attracted much interest when archaeologists found an ancient burial pit last week.

The £87m road is being built to ease traffic between Dorchester and Weymouth and Portland, where the Olympic sailing events will be held in 2012.

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Prehistoric gold source traced to Mourne mountains

THE MOUNTAINS of Mourne may be fabled in song but now they have a new focus as scientists believe they were the source for most of Ireland’s prehistoric gold.

Ireland has a very high level of prehistoric gold objects especially from the early Bronze Age (2400-1800BC) when large quantities of it was used by skilled craftsmen.

They turned out beautiful objects such as the gold collars or lunula similar to the one which turned up recently following a robbery in Co Roscommon.

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New Festival of British Archaeology Website Launched!

Find out what’s happening near you during the Festival using our brand new Google Maps interface.

The CBA has launched a new Festival of British Archaeology website to help you find out what’s happening near you during this annual extravaganza of heritage-related events. More than 600 excavations, guided walks, reenactments, demonstrations, lectures and more are taking place between July 18 and August 2 2009, with events covering the whole of the UK from Margate in the east to Armagh in the west, and from Unst in the north to Guernsey in the South.

The new website has been designed to make available information about this annual celebration of archaeology in a clear, attractive and easily accessible format for all users, whether they are members of the public, event organisers or media professionals.

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Roman village discovered near Varna

Village from the Roman era discovered archaeologists near Varna.

The short sample surveys in the region of Mentesheto near Varna have been concluded, informed from the Archaeological museum in Varna, informed radio Varna.
The resembling dolmen stone formation has been researched by Alexander Minchev and Teodor Rokov.

The research shows that it was created nearly 2000 ago with stone tables taken out from the existing nearby big water reservoir.

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Sea gives up Neanderthal fossil

Part of a Neanderthal man's skull has been dredged up from the North Sea, in the first confirmed find of its kind.

Scientists in Leiden, in the Netherlands, have unveiled the specimen - a fragment from the front of a skull belonging to a young adult male.

Analysis of chemical "isotopes" in the 60,000-year-old fossil suggest a carnivorous diet, matching results from other Neanderthal specimens.

The North Sea is one of the world's richest areas for mammal fossils.

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Archaeologists Discovered Roman Settlement in North-Eastern Bulgaria

A previously unknown settlement from the Roman Era was recently discovered by archaeologists in the Mentesheto area near the town of Varna on Bulgaria’s northern Black Sea coast.

The discovery was made by archaeologists Aleksadar Michev and Teodor Rokov, who were exploring a stone structure reminiscent of a ‘dolmen’ – a typical Thracian tomb from the Early Iron Age. The excavations show that the stone slabs on the earth’s surface were new, although four main periods of inhabitation of the place through the centuries were discovered under the ground, the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency wrote today.

The earliest testament of a human presence at the site dates to the second and third centuries. The archaeologists’ discovery linked to this period is the stone flooring, which probably constituted part of the courtyard of a large building or Roman villa, which was destroyed around the middle of the third century by a Gothic invasion.

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Italy: Archeological treasures found near Naples

Archaeologists have unearthed a number of ancient Roman treasures during excavation outside the southern Italian city of Naples. Twelve ancient statues, columns and fragments bearing inscriptions from what appear to be monuments from the Republican and Imperial periods of ancient Roman history have been uncovered.

A head of the Roman emperor Tiberius bearing a crown of laurel leaves, two other male heads and a fragment of a painting are among the objects from the late Republican period in the 3rd century BC discovered by a team of archeologists at the site in Rione Terra di Pozzuoli.

Two female heads were also uncovered. One may be the head of an Amazon warrior from the 2nd century AD, while the second is believed to be a Roman empress from the late Julio-Claudian dynasty.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

The Viking Ship Museum will be 40 years old on 20 June

There will be free admission when the Viking Ship Museum opens its doors for a birthday celebration with many opportunities to look back over the first 40 years of the museum.

On Saturday 20 June it will be 40 years since King Frederik IX inaugurated the Viking Ship Hall in Roskilde. The day will be celebrated with special guided tours, open access to the Sea Stallion, publication of a book, the boatyard will be open to the public etc. There will also be free admission all day for both adults and children.

There will be plenty of opportunities to get close to the work with the Viking ships, past, present and future. The high-points of the day are listed in the programme below.

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Global warming a threat to our treasured historic sites

SOME of Wales’ most treasured historic sites will turn to ruin unless urgent action is taken to halt climate change, experts have warned in one of their starkest warnings yet on global warming.

Ancient buildings, including Restoration-era mansion Tredegar House and Cardiff City Hall, will be lost if the effects of rising temperatures and flash floods are allowed to go unchecked in Wales.

In an interview with the Western Mail, leading experts in the fields of construction and conservation warned that the impact of global warming could be “enormous”, leading to unprecedented damage of renowned monuments, landscapes and archaeological sites.

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Etching could be first example of art in Americas

An etching on a bone found near Vero Beach could be the earliest example of art in the Americas if determined to be authentic, which University of Florida professors believe to be the case.

An amateur fossil collector said the bone fragment had been sitting under his sink before he noticed what appeared to be an etching of a mammoth on it.

Barbara Purdy, professor emerita of anthropology at UF, ran the bone through a battery of tests to determine the etching's authenticity.

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Hungarian Researcher on the Trial of the Hun Tribes

Huns are widely thought of as savage barbarians who appeared briefly in history, wreaked death and destruction, then disappeared again. Recent archaeological and historical discoveries are raising questions about this view.

Of the European countries, Hungary has the most legends about the Huns and in these legends they are the heroes, not the villains. Hungarian academic and researcher, Dr. Borbála Obrusánszky, has followed their trail all the way to China and Mongolia, where she did postgraduate work. She was also part of a Hungarian team that visited China and was interviewed by the National Geographic’s Hungarian edition. In an interview with Digital Journal, she explained that while the Huns, as a people, no longer exist, much of their culture remains:

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Taking a shot at archaeology

A photography exhibition highlighting more than a century of archaeological cooperation between Europe and Egypt was inaugurated last Thursday at the Egyptian Museum. Nevine El-Aref went along

From the beginning of the 19th century, archaeology in Egypt has enticed a multitude of European travellers and academics. These pioneers rediscovered the main characteristics of history from the ancient Egyptian to modern eras, and thus contributed to establishing strong scientific links not only between the nations of Europe and Egypt but also between those nations themselves.

To illustrate this early and long lasting common interest and cooperation, the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and the European Commission in Egypt are holding a two-month- long photography exhibition at the Egyptian Museum entitled: "Europe-Egypt: A long lasting Archaeological Cooperation".

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Frühmittelalterliche Sonnenuhr aus dem Neusser Kloster St. Quirin

Eine Sonnenuhr des 9.-10. Jahrhunderts aus dem ehemaligen Kloster St. Quirin in Neuss konnte jetzt anhand von archäologischen Fragmenten rekonstruiert und nachgebaut werden. Bislang sind in Europa nur sehr wenige Uhren aus dieser Zeit bekannt geworden.

Die drei Kalksteinbruchstücke des Zeitmessers wurden in den 1960er Jahren bei Ausgrabungen auf dem ehemaligen Klosterareal entdeckt und ursprünglich für römische Spolien gehalten. Erst kürzlich konnten sie als Teile einer hochmittelalterlichen Sonnenuhr identifiziert werden. Die Ausgrabungen, die seinerzeit auf dem Gelände um das Kloster und spätere Stift St. Quirin durchgeführt wurden, werden derzeit in einem Forschungsprojekt des Institut für Vor- und Frühgeschichtliche Archäologie und Provinzialrömische Archäologie der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München am LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn ausgewertet.

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Dorset grave site reveals dark side of Romans

WITH their central heating, fancy flooring, hot and cold running water and drinkable wine, it’s not hard to see what the Romans did for us.

And 2,000 years on, as we unearth pots, jewellery and the footings of luxury villas, as well as continuing to use the roads and aqueducts they built for us, it seems their PR machine is still cranking out the good publicity.

But it wasn’t all mosaics, music and orgies because the Romans had their dark side. Before they started building cities, creating parks and installing decent lavvies, they first took time to butcher many of our ancestors.

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Changing landscape of archaeology

Between 1993 and 2003, there was a 10-fold increase in the number of licences for archaeological excavations issued, the majority of them granted to private consultancy firms. It is estimated that by 2007, about 1,700 archaeologists were working in Ireland, whereas a decade earlier that number was 500.

The National Monuments Acts (1994 and 2004) include a requirement for archaeological investigations where major infrastructural projects were undertaken, thereby ensuring that archaeological activity accelerated in line with the infrastructural splurge.

But what have we learned from the spike in archaeological activity over the past 15 years that we didn’t already know? And what now for archaeologists and their employment prospects given the changed economic climate?

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Executed Iron Age bodies from Roman battle found in pit on Olympic transport route

A 2,000-year-old mass grave full of dismembered bodies and skulls has been discovered at an ancient burial site being dug up to create a road for the 2012 Olympics.

Archaeologists excavating the Weymouth Relief Road, on Ridgeway Hill near Weymouth, believe the pit of corpses comprises Iron Age war casualties massacred by the Roman Army.

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This pile of rocks was once the seat of kings

It could be the world's first observatory, its network of little pools acting as mirrors to the stars. It could be a calendar, a kind of Bulgarian Stonehenge. Or it might even be where soothsayers once predicted the future by watching the pattern of flames and the flow of wine down channels carved in the rock.

It might even have been where Alexander first heard the prophecy that he would, one day, conquer the world. It has a sphinx; compasses go haywire when laid on its granite rocks; and it is dangerous to be there in a thunderstorm. Sci-fi geeks claim its flat plateau of rocks was a landing strip for aliens. But no one really knows what Belintash – 4,000 years old and 4,000 feet up in Bulgaria's Rhodope Mountains – was actually for.

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Greek fury at Elgin marbles 'loan deal'

Queen turns down invitation to opening of major new museum in Athens built to house Acropolis treasures

A bitter new row over ownership of the Elgin marbles has erupted, threatening to eclipse the inauguration this week of a major new museum in Athens designed to house the contested masterpieces.

Just days before the opening of the €130m (£110m) New Acropolis Museum, officials in Athens and London were this weekend engaging in barbed exchanges over the classical treasures.

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Students unearth Saxon nunnery

Archaeologists believe they could have found the first-ever excavated Saxon nunnery, on a dig in Gloucestershire.

The annual dig, by the University of Bristol, has unearthed remains of a Saxon building in the grounds of the Edward Jenner Museum, Berkeley.

The Berkeley Project to find Saxon Berkeley and the missing nunnery has been going for five years.

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Dyfed Archaeological Trust, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and Cadw in Arfordir

Volunteers are needed to help identify coastal archaeology sites affected by erosion in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

The national park authority is taking part in a project called Arfordir, which means ‘coastline’, with Dyfed Archaeological Trust and Cadw. James Meek, from Dyfed Archaeological Trust, said: “The day-to-day action of the sea, like the changing tides, affects our coastal archaeology. But climate change and rises in sea level will increase the risks of flooding and coastal erosion. “What we’d like to do is find out a bit more about what these alterations are to our coastal heritage and to record and understand them better.”

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New Viking movie in production in Iceland

Baltasar Kormakur, Iceland’s best known film director, has started work on a new high-budget Viking movie. This will be the most expensive film ever made in Iceland with an estimated budget of 60 million dollars.

Baltasar, who is probably the most popular movie director in Iceland, became famous for directing “101 Reykjavik” some years ago. His new movie is partly based on the stories of Njal (”Njals saga”), a Viking herse and his family living in Norway and Iceland. The sagas are full of dramatic stories, and they are a very important part of the history of the Icelanders.

“I’m really looking forward to this movie, and I’m sure it will be a hit internationally, it’s so full of excitement and adventure,” the director said.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Archaeologists find skulls on route of new road

• Remains in Dorset burial pit may be 2,000 years old
• Theories include battle with Romans or epidemic

The skulls of scores of young men have been found in a burial pit on the route of a new road in Dorset.

So far 45 skulls, believed to be almost 2,000 years old, have been found, and more may be found as the pit is emptied. Archaeologists have called the discovery extraordinary, saying it could be evidence of a disaster, a mass execution, a battle or possibly an epidemic.

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History uncovered as diggers unearth what lies beneath

Archeologists have been discovering what lies beneath the floor in part of a north Suffolk church.

An ambitious project at St Peter and St Paul in Eye is under way to make it fit for the 21st century.

But archaeologist Stuart Boulter, of Suffolk Archaeological Service, was called in to take a look before ground work started on a new meeting room and toilets.

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Uncovering history in search of lost church

BUDDING archaeologists made some astonishing finds in the Mulgrave area recently – including ancient pieces of pottery.

The In Search of Seton Church Project is being led by archaeologist Kevin Cale.

He said: “With the kind permission of a local landowner, a team of volunteers has been field walking to look for clues as to the location of Seton’s lost church.

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Stone circle in East Anglian village?

A QUALIFIED surveyor claims a picturesque village on the Essex/Suffolk border might boast the only proper stone circle outside the west of England.

For generations the sarcen stones at Alphamstone near Sudbury have been at the centre of hot debate as to whether they were ever part of a stone circle.

There are two stones marking the entrance to St Barnabas Church and a number of others further back near - and in - the church, but they form neither a circle nor part of a circle.

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Mass Roman war grave found by 2012 Olympic road builders

A mass "war grave" containing the skulls of 45 people dating back to Roman times has been uncovered as work begins on a new road being built to a 2012 Olympic venue.

Archaeologists made the discovery while carrying out a dig on the site of the new £87 million relief road to Weymouth, Dorset – the sailing venue for the forthcoming games which was visited by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh on Thursday.

The burial pit on nearby Ridgeway Hill has been found to contain various skeleton pieces including 45 skulls.

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Roman ruins found on 2012 Olympics relief road

A mass "war grave" containing the skulls of 45 people dating back to Roman times has been uncovered as work begins on a new road being built to a 2012 Olympic venue.

Archaeologists made the discovery while carrying out a dig on the site of the new £87 million relief road to Weymouth, the Dorset sailing venue for the forthcoming Games.

The burial pit on nearby Ridgeway Hill has been found to contain various skeleton pieces including 45 skulls.

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Mass Roman grave reveals headless bodies

A 2,000-year-old mass grave containing at least 45 headless bodies has been uncovered by workers digging a new road for the Olympics.

The victims are thought to have been slaughtered by the invading Romans in about 43AD.

The 6m-wide (20ft) plot within the site of an £87million relief road near Weymouth in Dorset has now been sealed off while archaeologists examine the 'remarkable' discovery.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Italy: Ancient Roman wall in 'danger' of collapse

There are fears for the future of Rome's ancient Aurelian walls after chunks collapsed on Tuesday. A major street was closed in the Italian capital after bricks from the nearly 2000-year old wall fell down.

The city's archaeological authorities want to save the historic treasure, but they claim protection and restoration is limited due to poor financial resources, according to the Italian daily, Il Messaggero.

Authorities told the daily that whenever chunks of the walls collapse, the area is usually fenced off, but restoration work is almost never completed due to a lack of funds.

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Archaeologists unearth 800-year-old shoe

Archaeologists have unearthed a well-preserved leather shoe from 13th century at a dig in Magdeburg that could provide insights into mediaeval life.

“Shoe finds of this type from the Gothic period occur very seldom in Central Europe,” said Heiko Breuer, an antiquities restoration expert from the State Museum for Prehistory Saxony-Anhalt in Halle.

The shoe, which is made of sheepskin, was surprisingly well-preserved in a moist layer of soil.

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Bronze Age burial mound discovered

AN excavation within the ramparts of the Penycloddiau Iron Age hillfort has confirmed that a Bronze Age burial mound sits at the summit, dating back at least 3,500 years.

Between May 11 and 22 archaeologists from the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) excavated a mound found on the northern end of the hillfort. The mound had been heavily eroded by the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail which runs through the centre of the hillfort and across the top of the mound.

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Dig unearths Roman road at Tesco

One of the longest sections of Roman road ever found in Wales is being unearthed at the site of a new Tesco.

The highway was carved out of the Powys countryside in Newtown 2,000 years ago, and is thought to have linked two forts.

Archaeologists are excavating three separate sections of the road, and they expect to uncover a total of 300 metres.

The work will not delay the development of the supermarket.

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Wearmouth-Jarrow Nomination For World Heritage Site

The twin Anglo-Saxon monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow in northeast England will be the UK’s nomination for World Heritage Site status in 2010. The monastery, which functioned as ‘one monastery in two places’, is centred on St Peter’s Church in Wearmouth, Sunderland and St Paul’s Church in Jarrow.

Wearmouth-Jarrow was a major international centre of learning and culture in the 7th and 8th centuries. Its most famous inhabitant, the Venerable Bede, was the greatest scholar of his day and the impact of his writings is still felt in the 21st century. Original and rare 7th-century architectural and archaeological remains of the monastery survive at both Wearmouth and Jarrow.

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Allotment reveals its Roman past

Roman skeletons and artefacts have been found by people digging a pond in a set of Leicester allotments.

The group said they were shocked when they came across a skull and other bones just hours after starting work on the land.

A team from the University of Leicester used pottery to confirm the skeletons dated from the second century AD.

The allotment holders have been told their vegetable plots were probably once a Roman cemetery.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Archaeological dating by re-firing ancient pots

Researchers in the UK have created a new way of dating archaeological artefacts that involves heating ancient pots to unlock their internal clocks. The relatively simple technique could become as important for dating ceramics as carbon dating is for organic materials, say the researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Edinburgh. The team has already dated ceramics from the Roman, medieval and modern periods to a high degree of accuracy, and they are now looking to establish a global research facility for the technique.

The method relies on the fact that fired clay ceramics — like bricks, tile and pottery — start to chemically combine with water as soon as they are exposed to the atmosphere. A big breakthrough came in 2003 when the researchers realized that this process has occurred at a predictable rate throughout history, related to temperatures. Now the researchers have turned their theory into a practical dating method and present their findings in Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

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Ancient tombs discovered by Kingston University-led team

A prehistoric complex including two 6,000-year-old tombs representing some of the earliest monuments built in Britain has been discovered by a team led by a Kingston University archaeologist. Dr Helen Wickstead and her colleagues were stunned and delighted to find the previously undiscovered Neolithic tombs, also known as long barrows at a site at Damerham, Hampshire.

Some artefacts, including fragments of pottery and flint and stone tools, have already been recovered and later in the summer a team of volunteers will make a systematic survey of the site, recovering and recording any artefacts that have been brought to the surface by ploughing.

Dr Wickstead said that further work would help to reveal more about the Neolithic era. “We hope that scientific methods will allow us to record these sites before they are completely eroded”, she said. “If we can excavate, we’ll be able to say a lot more about Neolithic people in that area and find out things like who was buried there, what kinds of lives they led, and what the environment was like six thousand years ago.”

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Excavation uncovers 3,500 year old Bronze Age North Wales burial mound

A BRONZE Age burial mound, thought to be at least 3,500 years old, has been discovered in Penycloddiau, Denbighshire.

The ancient resting place was discovered in an excavation of the Penycloddiau Iron Age hillfort, which lies between Llandyrnog and Nannerch, by the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust.

The mound had been heavily eroded by the Offa's Dyke trail, which runs across the top of it and through the centre of the hillfort.

Although no dating evidence was found, archaeologists could distinguish the mound as being Bronze Age.

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Neolithic Age: Prehistoric Complex Including Two 6,000-year-old Tombs Discovered In Britain

A prehistoric complex including two 6,000-year-old tombs representing some of the earliest monuments built in Britain has been discovered by a team led by a Kingston University archaeologist. Dr Helen Wickstead and her colleagues were stunned and delighted to find the previously undiscovered Neolithic tombs, also known as long barrows, at a site at Damerham, Hampshire.

Some artefacts, including fragments of pottery and flint and stone tools, have already been recovered and later in the summer a team of volunteers will make a systematic survey of the site, recovering and recording any artefacts that have been brought to the surface by ploughing.

Dr Wickstead said that further work would help to reveal more about the Neolithic era. “We hope that scientific methods will allow us to record these sites before they are completely eroded,” she said. “If we can excavate, we’ll be able to say a lot more about Neolithic people in that area and find out things like who was buried there, what kinds of lives they led, and what the environment was like six thousand years ago.”

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Researchers dive into ancient treasure

Archaeologists from Britain's University of Nottingham and Greece's Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Ministry of Culture are using digital equipment to unlock the mystery behind the ancient Greek town of Pavlopetri, thought to be the oldest submerged town in the world. Discovered and mapped by researchers of the Institute of Oceanography at Cambridge University in 1968, no other work has since been conducted at the site. This project could fuel underwater archaeology in the future.

The ruins of Pavlopetri, which lie in three to four metres of water just off the coast of Laconia in the Peloponnese, date from at least 2 800 BC. Buildings are still intact, and streets, courtyards, and chamber tombs exist as well. Experts believe the ruins belong to the Mycenaean period (circa 1680-1180 BC).

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Festival of British Archaeology 2009

The Festival of British Archaeology (formerly National Archaeology Week) is your unique chance to discover and explore the archaeological heritage of the United Kingdom. During this two-week archaeological extravaganza, which will run from Saturday 18th July to Sunday 2nd August, you can take part in excavation open days, hands-on activities, family fun days, guided tours, exhibitions, lectures, ancient art and craft workshops and much, much more.

The aim of this annual event is to encourage everyone, including young people and their families to visit sites of archaeological/historical interest or museums, heritage and resource centres, to see archaeology in action and to take part in activities on-site.

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Corrib may have had 'major' settlement

A CONNEMARA archaeologist says that the recent discovery of two stone axes in Galway city and county points to a “major” hunter-gatherer presence on the Corrib catchment up to 9,000 years ago.

The axes were found in Ballybane and in the garden of a private house in Clifden, Co Galway, and are the latest in a number of significant finds recorded by archaeologist Michael Gibbons in the last couple of months.

The Clifden axe was unearthed by Velta Conneely in her garden – the second such axe she has discovered there in eight years, Mr Gibbons noted.

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Plough uncovers suspected chambered tomb

What appears to be a Neolithic chambered tomb has been unearthed on the outskirts of Kirkwall.

The underground structure was discovered by John Hourie, Heathfield, St Ola, while ploughing. He reported it to his neighbour, archaeologist Caroline Wickham Jones, who contacted the county archaeologist Julie Gibson.

Julie explained: “The structure is located in a field on the crest of the hill overlooking Kirkwall and Scapa. Soils are thin, are rarely ploughed - this year’s ploughing work was the first time in decades. Bedrock is apparent in places.

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Cemetery site searched for hidden treasure

Archaeologists are investigating whether land earmarked for a new cemetery at Red Scar is concealing any hidden historic gems.

The work must be carried out ahead of a planning application for the new Preston graveyard later this year.

Red Scar, off Longridge Road, was once the home of the Cross family, who have Cross Street in the city centre named after them.

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New 'molecular clock' aids dating of human migration history

Researchers at the University of Leeds have devised a more accurate method of dating ancient human migration - even when no corroborating archaeological evidence exists.

Estimating the chronology of population migrations throughout mankind's early history has always been problematic. The most widely used genetic method works back to find the last common ancestor of any particular set of lineages using samples of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), but this method has recently been shown to be unreliable, throwing 20 years of research into doubt.

The new method refines the mtDNA calculation by taking into account the process of natural selection - which researchers realised was skewing their results - and has been tested successfully against known colonisation dates confirmed by archaeological evidence, such as in Polynesia in the Pacific (approximately 3,000 years ago), and the Canary Islands (approximately 2,500 years ago).

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Numismática Hebrea Hispana

La presente tan sólo para informarle de la redacción por mi parte de un nuevo blog para dar a conocer las leyendas hebreas de las monedas ibéricas de Hispania (también alguna en Portugal y Francia).


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ancient Art, Music Flowered as Communities, Not Brains, Grew

An explosion of art, music, jewelry and hunting technology appeared 45,000 years ago because of increased population density, rather than the evolution of the human brain, a study said.

Researchers used genetic estimates of ancient population sizes, archaeological artifacts and computer simulations of social learning. They found complex skills involving abstract thinking would be passed down through generations and across groups only when populations reach a critical level, according to the study in tomorrow’s edition of the journal Science.

Increased interaction between groups, the sharing of ideas and the exchange of raw materials that led to the flowering of human culture may explain why concentrated centers of industry, such as California’s Silicon Valley, produce technological innovations, said Mark Thomas, 44, a senior author of the study and a senior lecturer at University College London in England.

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Ha-Ha! Ape study traces evolution of laughter

When scientists set out to trace the roots of human laughter, some chimps and gorillas were just tickled to help. Literally.

That's how researchers made a variety of apes and some human babies laugh. After analyzing the sounds, they concluded that people and great apes inherited laughter from a shared ancestor that lived more than 10 million years ago.

Experts praised the work. It gives very strong evidence that ape and human laughter are related through evolution, said Frans de Waal of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta.

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The Saxons were coming! A tiny sword stud found under a shop rewrites Welsh history

AT BARELY a centimetre across and almost unrecognisable after centuries underground, it may not look much, but could shed light on an almost unknown era of Welsh history.

The discovery of a sword stud beneath shops in Monmouth, made public for the first time in today’s Western Mail, could be evidence of an Anglo-Saxon period settlement.

But now there are concerns the site where it was found may be destroyed by development.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

16th century crucifix found in Notts

A GOLD crucifix and silver whistle dating back to the 16th century that were found in North Notts have been declared treasure.

The crucifix was found in the Tuxford area on August 21 with the use of a metal detector.

It is made of solid gold with traces of enamel.

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Iron Age mystery may be solved

Archaeologists will return to a 2,000-year-old site on Beccles marshes this summer in a bid to finally unravel the mystery behind it.

A team of students from Birmingham University will spend three weeks excavating on the iron-age site just outside the town.

Three long rows of wooden posts inserted into the ground were unearthed while flood defence work was being carried out on the marshes in 2006.

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Domus Aurea work 'to take two years'

One of Rome's prime tourist attractions, the ruins of Nero's Domus Aurea, will reopen again in two years' time after work to make it completely safe for the public, officials said Wednesday.

The fabled 'Golden House' has been closed since 2005 after masonry fell from flaking walls and a high level of dangerous seepage was detected.

The work will begin in a month's time, officials said.

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New Forest discovery thought be one of oldest ever made in UK

TWO 6,000-year-old tombs have been unearthed in Hampshire in one of the biggest archaeological finds for years.

The discovery, thought to be among the oldest ever made in the UK, is set to shed new light on the life led by the county’s earliest settlers.

Flint tools and fragments of pottery have already been retrieved from the Neolithic site at Damerham in the New Forest.

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Archeologists dig up gardens

PRESTONPANS residents’ back gardens were the site of an archaeological dig last weekend, when a team began their attempts to uncover remnants of the Battle of Prestonpans.

After several residents from Schaw Road and Polwarth Terrace uncovered artefacts from the battle – including muskets, cannon balls and buttons – the two streets were an area of focus last Saturday.

A number of local residents had volunteered to have their gardens surveyed after the archaeology team from Glasgow University’s Centre for Battlefield Archaeology – led by Dr Tony Pollard of BBC2’s ‘Men in a Trench’ fame – launched their plans.

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Archeologists unearth 17th century stone flask, buried 380 years ago to ward off witches

It is guaranteed to strike fear into the evil heart of any passing witch.

But a far worse fate would follow if the bizarre contents of this ancient stone flask did the job for which they were intended.

The witch would immediately convulse in screaming agony - and the spell she cast would be turned back upon her for evermore.

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Mammoths Roasted in Prehistoric Kitchen Pit

Central Europe's prehistoric people would likely have been amused by today's hand-sized hamburgers and hot dogs, since archaeologists have just uncovered a 29,000 B.C. well-equipped kitchen where roasted gigantic mammoth was one of the last meals served.

The site, called Pavlov VI in the Czech Republic near the Austrian and Slovak Republic borders, provides a homespun look at the rich culture of some of Europe's first anatomically modern humans.

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New Hominid 12 Million Years Old Found In Spain, With 'Modern' Facial Features

Researchers have discovered a fossilized face and jaw from a previously unknown hominoid primate genus in Spain dating to the Middle Miocene era, roughly 12 million years ago. Nicknamed "Lluc," the male bears a strikingly "modern" facial appearance with a flat face, rather than a protruding one. The finding sheds important new light on the evolutionary development of hominids, including orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and humans.

In a study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Salvador Moyà-Solà, director of the Institut Català de Paleontologia (ICP) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and colleagues present evidence for the new genus and species, dubbed Anoiapithecus brevirostris. The scientific name is derived from the region where the fossil was found (l’Anoia) and also from its "modern" facial morphology, characterized by a very short face.

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Mammoth skeleton unearthed in Serbia

Archaeologists say a skeleton of a mammoth believed to be about one million years old has been unearthed in eastern Serbia.

Miomir Korac from the Archaeology Institute says the skeleton was discovered at an open-pit coal mine near Kostolac power plant.

Korac says the skeleton is very well preserved. He says the mammoth was more than 4 meters (13 feet) high, 5 meters (16 feet) long and weighed more than 10 tons.

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Event at Museum of London Docklands

Excavating post-medieval cemeteries

Sat 20 Jun, 10.15am - 5pm

Discover what post-medieval cemetery studies tell us about the past through
discussion of excavation results from St Marylebone, Westminster and Old
Church, Chelsea. Speakers will discuss different strands of the evidence and
examine historical, documentary, artefactual and osteological clues to the lives
of past populations. The event also provides an opportunity to examine human
remains first hand, under the supervision of our osteologists.

Book your place by calling 020 7001 9844

Excavation at Roman Binchester

On Monday June 8th excavation will begin on the Roman fort at Binchester
(Co. Durham) as part of the Durham-Stanford Binchester Research Project;
this is a joint project being run by Durham County Council, Dept. of
Archaeology/Archaeological Services, Durham University and the Dept. of
Classics, Stanford University. This work is will be kicking off the
first of five seasons of fieldwork at the site exploring the fort and
its associated vicus and putting it into its wider landscape context.

You can follow events on our blog http://binchester.blogspot.com/, which
will be updated daily once excavation starts and already has some
interesting material on it.