Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Online Courses in Archaeology

Cave paintings, castles and pyramids, Neanderthals, Romans and Vikings - archaeology is about the excitement of discovery, finding out about our ancestors, exploring landscape through time, piecing together puzzles of the past from material remains.

Our courses enable you to experience all this through online archaeological resources based on primary evidence from excavations and artefacts and from complex scientific processes and current thinking. Together with guided reading, discussion and activities you can experience how archaeologists work today to increase our knowledge of people and societies from the past.

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Archaeologists uncover large Roman statue of Augustus

Archaeologists in have discovered fragments of a 2,000-year-old bronze Roman equestrian statue of Emperor Augustus in a stream near Giessen, the Hessian state science ministry has announced.

"There has never been a find of such quality and preservation in Germany," a statement from the ministry said, adding that it was a "sensational" discovery.

On August 12, archaeologists pulled the gold-gilded, life-sized head of a horse and a shoe of the emperor – who ruled the Roman Empire between 23 BC and 14 AD – from a stream in what was once the Roman outpost Germania Magna. Experts there have uncovered several bits of the statue among some 20,000 artefacts uncovered at the site in recent years.

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Exhuming a violent event

Scientists glean clues to a lethal prehistoric raid from skeletons excavated at a German site

Thirteen people who perished around 4,600 years ago still have something to say about life and death in prehistoric Europe.

Analyses of their skeletal remains, found in 2005 in four large graves at a German Neolithic-era site called Eulau, provide a rare opportunity to reconstruct a lethal encounter from Europe’s Corded Ware culture, say anthropologist Christian Meyer of the University of Mainz in Germany and his colleagues. Between about 4,800 and 4,000 years ago, Corded Ware farmers and cattle-raisers spread across central and eastern Europe.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Digging up the past at Maiden Castle

FAMILIES and history lovers will be blazing a trail to Dorchester for a Bronze Age festival at Maiden Castle.

They will be digging up the past at the ancient monument just outside the county town on the weekend of September 19 and 20.

The free weekend will include living history, arts, crafts and workshops South Dorset Ridgeway Heritage Project officer Sarah Harbige said: “Experimental archaeologists and living history experts will demonstrate aspects of Bronze Age life including metal work, house building, textiles and food.

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Dig will unearth history of abbey

Archaeologists have won a £48,000 Heritage Lottery grant to carry out an extensive dig at a Cumbrian abbey.

Holm Cultram Abbey in Abbeytown was the largest monastic house in Cumbria and founded by Cistercian monks in 1150.

Members of West Cumbria Archaeological Society will use the cash to search for abbey foundations in a nearby field.

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English crusaders settled in 12th century Spain, study finds

A recent article in the Journal of Medieval History has found records indicating that a group of crusaders from England and Wales took part in the siege and conquest of the Spanish city of Tortosa in 1148, and that some of them decided to stay and live in the area.

In his article "Angli cum multis aliis alienigenis: crusade settlers in Tortosa," Antoni Virgili on the University of Barcelona traces the records of about twenty individuals who lived in and around Tortosa during the second half of the twelfth century. He identifies these people as being from England and Wales, including some people who became wealthy and important members of the local oligarchy.

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Ancient skeletons could help solve mystery of rare disease

TWO ancient skeletons with a rare genetic bone disease unearthed from a medieval Irish graveyard may hold key insights for medical experts.

An archaeologist believes the discovery of the remains -- afflicted by massive bone growths -- could help modern-day clinicians glean more information about that unusual debilitating condition.

There have only been 16 cases of the hereditary bone growth disorder, now known as multiple osteochondromas, identified in ancient remains worldwide. Four of these have been located in Ireland.

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Ice Age probe is off to Italy

Archaeologists at the University of Bradford will be leading an exploration into how prehistoric people made their living in Italy at the end of the Ice Age.

The research aims to find out how hunter-gatherers in Mediterranean Europe survived before farming became widespread and why the transition to agriculture was a smooth one.

Researchers will use high-precision dating to accurately age occupation layers in archaeological cave sites and identify which animals were being hunted by the prehistoric people by studying bones found at sites.

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Crew goes to aid of Viking ship

lifeboat crew went to the aid of a replica Viking longship after it got into difficulty in strong tides at the Kessock Bridge at Inverness.

The boat was being towed out of the city's marina when its support craft suffered engine problems.

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Bulgarian Archaeologists Discover Unique Medieval Byzantine Seal

Bulgarian archaeologist, Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov, has discovered a unique medieval seal at the site of the Knyazhevski (i.e. "Princely") Monastery near the Eastern city of Varna.

The seal is dated back to the 10th century and belonged to the Byzantine dignitary Antonius, who was an imperial protospatario in Constantinople. Antonius had correspondence with a representative of the Knyazhevski Monastery, who is believed to have been the Bulgarian Knyaz (i.e. king) Boris I (r. 852-889 AD) himself.

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New York University Digs in Cyprus Show Worship of God Apollo

Archaeologists in Cyprus found evidence that an island off the Mediterranean country’s south- west coast was the site of a temple for worshiping Apollo, the ancient Greek god of light, prophecy, music and healing.

Excavations led by New York University on Geronisos unearthed fragments of pithoi, or storage vessels probably used to hold olive oil, that could be repaired to stand to a height of 1.20 meters, among the largest storage containers ever found on Cyprus, according to a statement today on the Web site of the Cypriot Interior Ministry’s Public Information Office.

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For Early Man, It Wasn't Easier Being Green

Archaeologists who study early hunter-gatherer societies are discovering that even the simplest cultures altered their environments, whether they meant to or not.

For example, aboriginal people in Australia burned huge areas to change the landscape so they could hunt animals more easily. Perhaps the most famous example is the way mastodons and giant sloth and other ice-age animals were killed off by roving bands of hungry humans.

Torben Rick, an archaeologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, says the notion of hunter-gatherers living in perfect harmony with their environment is going the way of the dodo (another animal extinguished by early humans). He says he's discovered that indigenous people even altered America's coastlines, thousands of years ago.

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Rare tiles unearthed at palace

Rare Valencian tiles have been uncovered by archaeologists during excavations at the ruins of a Surrey palace, once owned by Henry VIII.

The items, which were made in Valencia, Spain, between 1450 and 1490, were discovered at Woking Palace.

More than 100 members of the public took part in the dig at the palace, which fell into disrepair in 1620 and was later virtually demolished.

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Scotland's 'earliest face' found

A carving believed to be Scotland's earlist human face, dating back thousands of years, has been found on the Orkney island of Westray.

The small Neolithic sandstone human figurine is believed to be up to 5,000 years old.

Experts have described the find as one of "astonishing rarity".

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Archaeologists unearth home of Lord of Man

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed the ruins of the former home of Lord of Man, the Seventh Earl of Derby.
Lathom House, near Ormskirk, West Lancashire, was the setting of an infamous Civil War siege.

Ordered by the King to fortify the Isle of Man against a possible Scottish invasion, Lord Derby left his wife Charlotte de La Tremouille in charge to defend the house, the last remaining Royalist stronghold in Lancashire, against the Parliamentarian forces.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Was ancient Cypriot cave a prehistoric diner?

Thousands of prehistoric hippo bones found in Cyprus are adding to a growing debate on the possible role of humans in the extinction of larger animals 12,000 years ago.

First discovered by an 11-year-old boy in 1961, a tiny rock-shelter crammed with hippo remains radically rewrote archaeological accounts of when this east Mediterranean island was first visited by humans.

It has fired speculation of being the first takeaway diner used by humans to cook and possibly dispatch meat. It also adds to growing speculation, controversial in some quarters, that humans could have eaten some animals to extinction.

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3,000-year-old butter found in Kildare bog

AN OAK barrel, full of butter, estimated to be roughly 3,000 years old has been found in Gilltown bog, between Timahoe and Staplestown.

The amazing discovery of the barrel, which is being described by archaeology experts in the National Museum as a "really fine example" was found by two Bord na Mona workers.

The pair, John Fitzharris and Martin Lane, were harrowing the bog one day in late May when they noticed a distinctive white streak in the peat.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Facelift for Stonehenge?

Plans for access and a new visitor centre for Stonehenge have been going around for years but a solution could finally be in the offing...

More than 15 years after MPs branded the situation ‘a national disgrace', has a solution finally been found for Stonehenge? At present, the Stones are hemmed in by roads the busy, arterial A303 south-western route and the A344 Devizes road, which joins it, cutting the site off from its surrounding monuments and landscape. The latter not only comes up so close so as to almost clip the heel stone of the circle, but also lies slap across the Avenue, believed to be the site's ancient processional approach. In addition, the current visitor facilities, housed in a 1968 ‘concrete monstrosity' on the other side of the A344, are not only outdated and ineffectual, but also represent a significant visual intrusion to the site.

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Excavations reveal Roman history

Archaeological excavations at the site of a former plant nursery, set to be developed for housing, have found evidence of Iron Age and Roman use.

The dig at the former Unwins Nursery at Impington, Cambridgeshire, found occupation dating from about 100BC with evidence of an Iron Age roundhouse.

The site was developed in Roman times with a series of ditches and pottery found is from the 2nd and 3rd Century.

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Excavations reveal Roman history at Impington

Archaeological excavations at the site of a former plant nursery, set to be developed for housing, have found evidence of Iron Age and Roman use.

The dig at the former Unwins Nursery at Impington, Cambridgeshire, found occupation dating from about 100BC with evidence of an Iron Age roundhouse.

The site was developed in Roman times with a series of ditches and pottery found is from the 2nd and 3rd Century.

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Imprints of the past uncovered beneath Nicklaus golf course

The most significant discovery during the archaeological excavations on the Killeen Castle demesne has been the uncovering of a hitherto unknown early medieval landscape and the physical evidence of its demise and the subsequent Anglo-Norman settlement.

This is something which is well-recorded historically but rarely uncovered in one place, as it has been at Killeen, according to archaeologist Christine Baker, who has just published a study of the excavations at Killeen which were carried out prior to the development of the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course there.

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Volunteers wanted for excavations

A call has been issued for budding archaeologists to get involved in a dig which aims to uncover religious secrets in part of Angus.

Excavations of Brechin's original cathedral precinct start next month.

It is hoped building foundations, bones and artefacts dating back to the 1700s, as well as stones from the original Bishop's Palace, could be unearthed.

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Dig could reveal Norfolk's Roman secrets

In 1929 a picture snapped from an RAF aircraft showed the pattern of a Roman town among the fields of Caistor St Edmund and made the front page of national newspapers. Reporter Dan Grimmer reports how, 80 years later, excavations are set to start which could finally unlock Venta Icenorum's secrets…

The first major dig of a Roman town on the outskirts of Norwich, which archaeologists say could be of international importance, will start this month - on the 80th anniversary of the first excavations there.

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Dig sheds new light on Roman life

IT'S been 25 years since any new sections of Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields were excavated.

But a pioneering dig which recently got under way could tell us more about the lives of those inside and outside of its walls.

We got down and dirty with the archaeologists and volunteers working on the dig.

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Anglo-Saxon Landscape and Economy: using portable antiquities to study Anglo-Saxon and Viking Age England

In the last fifteen years the role of metal-detected objects in archaeological research has greatly increased through reporting to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and the Early Medieval Corpus (EMC). There are now thousands more artefacts and coins known than a decade ago which, in conjunction with fieldwork, have the potential to revolutionise our understanding of the early medieval period. This is the first time that these data have been examined on a national scale. Such an approach enables the detailed analysis of the nature of portable antiquities data, the bias within such datasets and the relationship between patterns of recovery and historic settlement (Sections 2 and 3). In the light of these new interpretations of the overall datasets, the most artefact- and coin-rich sites, known as 'productive sites', can be analysed within a new framework of understanding (Section 4).

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Excavations reveal Roman history

Archaeological excavations at the site of a former plant nursery, set to be developed for housing, have found evidence of Iron Age and Roman use.

The dig at the former Unwins Nursery at Impington, Cambridgeshire, found occupation dating from about 100BC with evidence of an Iron Age roundhouse.

The site was developed in Roman times with a series of ditches and pottery found is from the 2nd and 3rd Century.

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16,000 year-old mother goddess figurine excavated in Turkey

Archeologists have unearthed a 16,000 year-old mother goddess figurine during excavations in Direkli Cave in the southern province of Kahramanmaras in Turkey.

According to a report in Todays Zaman, Gazi University Archeology Department lecturer Cevdet Merih Erek told the Anatolia news agency that the excavations in Direkli Cave, 65 km away from Kahramanmaras, started on July 15.

Noting that it was the third cave excavation of Turkey, Erek said that the clay mother goddess figurine they found was 16,000 years old.

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Bulgarian Archeologists Discover New Priceless Finds in Krushare

Bulgarian archeologists have found late Monday two golden rings in the mound near the South-East village of Krushare, in the Sliven Region.

The news was reported for Darik radio by the Director of the Sliven Regional Historic Museum, Georgi Kyupchukov.

The discovery was made by the TEMP expedition led by archeologist Diana Dimitrova, wife of the late Georgi Kitov, one of the most prominent Bulgarian archeologists.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

London's Oldest "Boardwalk" Found?

London's oldest known timber structure could be the city's earliest "boardwalk," archaeologists say.

Preserved for more than 5,700 years, the structure was found in an ancient peat bog next to the Belmarsh prison in Plumstead, a suburb of East London near the banks of the River Thames (see map).

"It is definitely man-made, and a very rare find," said team member Jon Sygrave of the Institute of Archaeology at University College London.

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Ancient stone artwork discovered

Prehistoric artwork has been discovered by an amateur archaeologist at a Perthshire mountain range.

The ancient carvings were discovered by rock art enthusiast George Currie at Ben Lawers, near Loch Tay.

Mr Currie discovered a piece of rock which has more than 90 cup marks, which are circular depressions in the stone.

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Digging into Wales in 1,000AD

An archaeological dig is taking place this week to reveal the daily lives of a possible medieval community in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park (NCNP).

The site of a ruined medieval chapel and cemetery in Porthclew, near Freshwater East, is being excavated by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and the Dyfed Archaeological Trust.

Following a trial dig last summer, archaeologists are now investigating features which showed up on a geophysical survey which may represent a settlement dating to the early medieval period (between 500 and 1,000AD).

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Abbey and crowning site excavated

Archaeologists investigating one of Scotland's most important royal areas have discovered human bones and the medieval equivalent of the hole punch.

The team is excavating the lost abbey at Scone Palace and also the Moot Hill, where kings such as Macbeth and Robert the Bruce were crowned.

They are paying particular attention to the cloister of the abbey, around which the monks would have eaten and lived.

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Nothing new under the sun

Anthropogenic global warming started when people began farming

IMAGINE a small group of farmers tending a rice paddy some 5,000 years ago in eastern Asia or sowing seeds in a freshly cleared forest in Europe a couple of thousand years before that. It is here, a small group of scientists would have you believe, that humanity launched climate change. Long before the Industrial Revolution—indeed, long before a worldwide revolution in intensive farming, the results of which kept humanity alive—people caused unnatural exhalations of greenhouse gases that had an impact on the world’s climate.

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Amateur archaeologist Basil Brown to be honoured

HE made one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the United Kingdom unearthing priceless treasure which is now displayed in the British Museum.

Among the historical artefacts was the unique discovery of a seventh century ship believed by many to be the grave of an Anglo Saxon king.

But ironically the final resting place of Basil Brown, the man who made the incredible discoveries at Sutton Hoo in 1939, remains a mystery.

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Rock carving uncovered

STONE carvings dating back centuries have been uncovered by an amateur archaeologist.

The prehistoric artwork was found on the mountain of Ben Lawers, in the Scottish Highlands, by rock art enthusiast George Currie.

The art is similar to other prehistoric pieces found in the area, consisting of depressions known as cup marks, or cup and ring marks, which are carved on rocks.

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Scone dig uncovers ancient abbey

Archaeologists in Perthshire are slowly uncovering the secrets of one of the most important sites in mediaeval Scotland.

A team of experts working in the grounds of Scone Palace has uncovered some parts of a lost abbey which at one time housed the Stone of Destiny.

The three-week dig is part of the Moothill and Abbey of Scone project which began last year.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Large ancient pots found

Numerous fragments of very large pithoi which can be dated in the 1st century BC, were unearthed during excavations at Geronissos island, just off the coast of Ayios Yeorgios in Paphos.

The Antiquities Department said Thursday the excavations of the New York University at Geronissos island have been completed .

The department said that the pithoi, which were probably used to store olive oil, are among the largest storage vessels found to date in Cyprus.

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Hadrian’s Wall was built of wood

A HEXHAM archaeologist has challenged perceived wisdom with startling claims that Hadrian’s Wall was originally built of wood.

In a 65,000 word thesis published on his website, Geoff Carter says his hypothesis answers some age-old questions.

Archaeologists have long wondered why the ditch that runs parallel is several feet away from the Wall itself, reducing its effectiveness as a deterrent to invaders.

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Study: Fire used to make tools 75,000 years ago

Early humans crossed a threshold around 75,000 years ago, when they started painting symbols, carving patterns and making jewelry. A new study found they also began to use fire to make tools around that time.

Until now, this complex, multistep process for tool making was only known to occur as recently as 25,000 years ago in Europe. But the new findings show this breakthrough occurred much earlier, and in Africa, not Europe.

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Archaeologists discover full Roman bath suite in the Isle of Wight

A team of professional archaeologists, along with volunteers, has discovered a full Roman bath suite, complete with hot baths and a cold plunge pool, in the town of Banding, in the Isle of Wight, UK.

“We are extremely pleased with the find,” British archaeologist Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe, who led the archaeological team, told Isle of Wight news.

“It’s slightly ruined around the foundations, but you can clearly see the baths. The suite is tucked well away from the rest of the villa, so I think it might pre-date the villa to when there was a timber house on the site,” he said.

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Army of Roman experts heads for Hadrian's Wall

MORE than 300 of the world's top experts on Roman history and archaeology will be visiting Hadrian's Wall this month.

From August 17 to 23 they will gather to share ideas and information on the frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heriatge Site.

The international specialists meet every three years to discuss the Roman frontiers - from Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall, along the banks of the Rhine and the Danube, to the deserts of North Africa.

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More on Neolithic cathedral built to amaze unearthed in Orkney dig

Archaeologists said that the building would have dwarfed the island' s landmarks from the Stone Age - the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness. Nick Card, who is leading the dig at the Ness of Brodgar, said that the cathedral, which would have served the whole of the north of Scotland, would have been constructed to  amaze and  create a sense of awe among those who saw it.

It is about 65ft in length and width and would have dominated the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness which stand on either side. These important sites, dating back about 5,000 years, might have actually been peripheral features of Orkney' s Stone Age landscape. Mr Card said:  In effect it is a Neolithic cathedral for the whole of the north of Scotland.

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4,000-year-old timber circle found in Tyrone

The remains of a timber circle from more than 4,000 years ago have been uncovered by archaeologists in County Tyrone.

The timber circle was found by the Headland Group near Ballygawley in 2006/2007 as part of an excavation project linked to the A4 and A5 road improvements scheme.

Project Officer at Headland Archaeology, Kirsty Dingwall, said radiocarbon dating had confirmed it was from around the middle of the third millenium BC, "although some elements of it may be earlier".

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Britain's first works of art really rock

It has been described as a Palaeolithic condominium, with all the mod cons that were required 13,500 years ago – running water, abundant food, shelter, warmth, and, to cap it all, an artist in residence.

The discovery of cave art at Creswell Crags in 2003 caused a sensation, revolutionising archaeologists' views on the spread of early man. The figures include a stag, a bison and an ibis carved in bas- relief, a panel either of women, or of birds stretching their beaks towards the sun, and a series of triangular figures, generally interpreted as fertility symbols.

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National award for Roman museum

The Corinium Museum in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, has been accredited by a national scheme in recognition of the standard of its care and collections.

The award, from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), looks at how a venue is run and managed and the services it offers to visitors.

The Corinium Museum holds nationally important collections of archaeology, social history and old photographs.

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Archaeology Quiz: The Viking Age

The Archaeology Quiz of the Week is on the Viking Age, that early, exciting Medieval period saga of blood, guts, and poor decision making.

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Volunteers sought for dig into cathedral's past

A VOLUNTEER archaeological dig, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Angus Council City of Brechin Townscape Heritage Initiative, will take place in the original Cathedral precinct next to the Cathedral Hall, Bishops Close, from September 1 to 10.

The dig organisers hope the work may reveal foundations of buildings dating from the 18th and 19th centuries and possibly stones from the Bishop's Palace.

Hilary and Charlie Murray of Murray Archaeological Services Limited are directors of the dig.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Seafood gave us the edge on the Neanderthals

If Neanderthals ever shared a Thanksgiving feast with Homo sapiens, the two species may have had trouble settling on a menu.

Chemical signatures locked into bone suggest the Neanderthals got the bulk of their protein from large game, such as mammoths, bison and reindeer. The anatomically modern humans that were living alongside them had more diverse tastes. As well as big game, they also had a liking for smaller mammals, fish and seafood.

"It seems modern humans had a much broader diet, in terms of using fish or aquatic birds, which Neanderthals didn't seem to do," says Michael Richards, a biological anthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany and the University of British Columbia in Canada.

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As old as the pyramids … the dagger unearthed from tribal leader's grave

ARCHAEOLOGISTS in Perth-shire have unearthed a spectacular early Bronze Age grave containing a gold-banded dagger still wrapped in its 4,000-year-old sheath.

The discovery follows drama at the site last week, when a giant crane was brought in to lift a four-tonne capstone that had sealed an ancient burial chamber for four millennia.

While few traces survive of the body buried in the primitive stone coffin, found near the village of Forteviot, several clues suggest the remains are those of a tribal leader or warrior of "tremendous importance".

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Unique Viking find

Archaeologists have uncovered a well preserved trading post (Kaupang) from early Viking times in Laerdal, in Sogn og Fjordane county. It is probably older than earlier Kaupang finds.

More than 30 house foundations and remnants of extensive handicraft production have been uncovered. The items found have been unusually well preserved due to the dry climate in this region.

Archaeologist Asle Bruen Olsen says to NRK TV that the find is older and larger than those uncovered in other places, and that it will be very important in the research into the early Viking age.

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Archeologists find ancient tree sign

Czech archaeologists have uncovered a unique 1000-year-old mark engraved into an oak tree the remains of which were found near Celakovice in Prague, which is probably the oldest preserved sign of this kind in the world, archaeologist Jana Marikova has told CTK.

The real meaning of the 10-cm star-shaped mark on the oak trunk is not certain. Experts say it may have marked the territory or serve some iconic purposes.

This find is rare as so old engraved signs were not previously mapped and they are not systematically searched for either, Marikova, from the Academy of Sciences (AV)'s Archaeological Institute, said.

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Scientists discover that Neanderthals hated Brussel sprouts

Spanish researchers have moved closer to resolving a "mystery of evolution" - why some people like Brussels sprouts but others hate them.

They have found that a gene in modern humans that makes some people dislike a bitter chemical called phenylthiocarbamide, or PTC, was also present in Neanderthals hundreds of thousands of years ago.

The scientists made the discovery after recovering and sequencing a fragment of the TAS2R38 gene taken from 48,000-year-old Neanderthal bones found at a site in El Sidron, in northern Spain, they said in a report by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).

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Conference: New Directions in Medieval Scandinavian Studies

Next year’s annual Medieval Studies conference at Fordham University, New York has just been announced.

Excitingly, the theme is New Directions in Medieval Scandinavian Studies. It will take place on 27-28 March 2010. Key-note speakers will include Lesley Abrams, Martin Chase, Matthew Driscoll, Roberta Frank, Vésteinn Ólason, Kirsten Seaver, and Kirsten Wolf.

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London's earliest timber structure found on building site

A timber structure that is older than Stonehenge has been unearthed by university archaeologists in Plumstead.

The structure was found during the excavation of a prehistoric peat bog next door to Belmarsh Prison in Plumstead, Greenwich, prior to the construction of a new prison building.

Radiocarbon dating has shown the structure to be nearly 6,000 years old - predating Stonehenge by more than 500 years. The structure consisted of a timber platform or trackway found at a depth of 4.7m (about the height of a double decker bus) beneath two metres of peat next to an ancient river channel (image available).

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'Cathedral' as old as Stonehenge unearthed

EVEN in an area as archaeologically rich as Orkney, it is being hailed as the find of a lifetime.

Experts have unearthed a Neolithic "cathedral" – a massive building of a kind never before seen in Britain – which has left them in awe of its scale and workmanship.

At 82ft long and 65ft wide, it stands between two of Orkney's most famous Neolithic landmarks, the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness.

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PPS 15 draft under attack

Heritage groups, planners and architects have expressed concern over the latest planning policy proposals for the protection of the historic built environment

A draft of Planning Policy Statement 15: Planning for the Historic Environment (PPS 15) was published for consultation last month.

It has been introduced to streamline the planning process, replacing PPG 15 and 16 with “a more modern, integrated approach, moving beyond the outdated distinction between buildings and archaeology to embrace all of the historic environment”.

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At 9,000 years old, Britain's oldest house gives a glimpse of post-Ice Age domesticity

Built 3,000 years before the miracle of Stonehenge, this is Britain's oldest and best preserved house.

The remains of the strongly built shelter, discovered on the Isle of Man, provide a rare window into the domestic life of hunter-gatherers 9,000 years ago.

Unearthed by accident during extension work to the island's airport runway, the 23ft wide pit is giving up extraordinary archaeological secrets.

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Early toolmakers were 'engineers'

Early modern humans in South Africa were using "heat treatment" to improve their stone tools about 72,000 years ago, according to new research.

This technique may bridge a gap between the use of fire to cook food 800,000 years ago and the production of ceramics 10,000 years ago.

Evidence for this innovation was found at Pinnacle Point, a Middle Stone Age site on the South African coast.

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Archaeologists find prehistoric skeleton in the Dales

A human body, thought to date from the Iron Age, has been unearthed by archaeologists during a dig at a Peak District beauty spot.

The prehistoric skeleton emerged as volunteers, who were taking part in a lottery-funded dig, excavated the site of an ancient hillfort near Monsal Head.

Ann Hall, Longstone Local History Group project manager, said: "We quickly stopped everything, then archaeologists spent a very careful afternoon excavating the body."

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Archaeologists Discovered Over 7,500 Fragments of Ancient Frescos near Varna, Bulgaria

Over 7,500 fragments of frescos were discovered by archaeologists during excavations in the church of the monastery complex in the Karaach Tepe area near the town of Varna in north-western Bulgaria.

In addition to the fresco fragments, the archaeologists discovered parts of saints’ clothes and letters with their names, national media reported today. A bronze cross, used as a pendant, was also among the unearthed artefacts.

The monastery in Karaach Tepe, first discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century by the Czech-Bulgarian archaeologist Karel Škorpil, is among the Balkans’ biggest monastery complexes. Archaeological excavations of the site have been going on over the past 14 years.

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Roman relics found at Carlisle Sainsbury's store site

Roman remains have been found under the site of a proposed Sainsbury’s store in Carlisle which is poised for approval next week.

The remains – said to be potentially significant – were discovered underneath the site of the convenience store in Stanwix – but should not delay any building work significantly.

Councillors will debate revised plans for a Sainsbury’s Local and nine flats next Friday but they have been recommended for approval by planners.

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Dig a blast from past

THE Biggar Bigger Dig, which re-wrote Scotland’s history books, is finally over.

For the last three months more than 150 volunteers have been literally digging up our history in a field at Howburn Farm, near Elsrickle.

The work by Biggar Museums has now positively identified two camps sites used by reindeer hunters around 14,000 years ago.

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Ancient crypt could hold key to mystery

As Kilwinning is thrown into the spotlight with speculation that it could be the final resting place of The Holy Grail, historian Jim Kennedy, who has compiled an in-depth guide to the history of the town, follows up last week’s article on the tunnels underneath the ancient Abbey grounds.

Jim, a member of the preservation society, is integral to bringing an archaeological dig to the town centre, a joint venture between Irvine Bay Regeneration Company and Rathmell Archaeology in Kilwinning. Here, he talks about what lies under the tunnel.

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World's oldest profession: Engineering?

Evidence of humans engineering tools to improve their effectiveness has emerged 30,000 years earlier than previously thought.

A discovery at Pinnacle Point on the South African coast shows early humans fire-treated stones to make tool making more efficient.

The find pinpoints engineering of tools to between 70,000 and 164,000 years ago.

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5,000 year-old sites found

Archaeologists have unearthed eight neolithic sites in Derry, some more than 5,000 years old, the 'Journal' can exclusively reveal.

The exciting discoveries were made during work on the new Maydown dual carriageway and include a pair of well-preserved 5,000 years-old Neolithic houses and 4,000 years-old Bronze Age burial places known as 'ring-ditches'.

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17th century theatre uncovered in Dublin

An archaeological excavation in Dublin has uncovered the foundations of a 17th century theatre and a number of artefacts from theatrical performances.

The excavation, which ends today, is part of a multi-million euro programme to reinstate the Smock Alley Theatre on its original site.

For more than a century from establishment in 1662, Smock Alley - then known as Smoke Alley - put Irish theatre on the European map.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Early medieval furnaces discovered along N6

Medieval furnaces discovered along the Kinnegad-Kilbeggan N6 route recently were similar to ones found at Monganstown, Kinnegad as a result of earlier excavations, it emerged.

The early medieval furnaces, which are likely to have been used for smithing, were found at the townlands of Kiltotan and Collinstown in 2005 by Cork-based Eachtra Archaeological Projects, following excavation work required as part of the Kinnegad-Kilbeggan N6 realignment.

The site of the excavations include two parallel ditches of "relatively recent origin", and two pits with evidence of burning.

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Castle excavation reveals excitement in National Park

An open evening during the final week of excavation at the site of Nevern Castle in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park attracted more than 120 people keen to find out what has been unearthed.

The chance to play a game of Nine Men’s Morris on a board hidden for nearly 900 years was among the highlights of the evening.

Visitors also saw a 12th century tower uncovered during the month-long excavation, which was managed by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Dr Chris Caple, of Durham University, with support from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust.

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Road excavation reveals an early medieval mill site in Ireland

A leading archaeologist in Ireland has described the discovery of an early medieval mill site in South Roscommon during excavations on Athlone to Ballinasloe motorway project as "very important".

According to the the Westmeath Independent, the mill site, located in Kilbegley townland in the parish of Moore is estimated to be 1,200 to 1,300 years old. It is one of only a handful of excavated mill sites in Ireland at present and is thought to one of the best kept in Europe.

Jerry O'Sullivan, Archaeologist with the National Roads Authority, said, "It is very important because the parts were very well preserved. After the mill was abandoned it quickly became immersed in peat. This prevented the timbers from being colonised by insects and fungi, and this arrested the normal decay process that would otherwise have destroyed the mill timbers within a few years."

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Bipedal Humans Came Down From The Trees, Not Up From The Ground

A detailed examination of the wrist bones of several primate species challenges the notion that humans evolved their two-legged upright walking style from a knuckle-walking ancestor.

The same lines of evidence also suggest that knuckle-walking evolved at least two different times, making gorillas distinct from chimpanzees and bonobos.

"We have the most robust data I've ever seen on this topic," said Daniel Schmitt, a Duke University associate professor of evolutionary anthropology. "This model should cause everyone to re-evaluate what they've said before."

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Primate Archaeology Sheds Light On Human Origins

A University of Calgary archaeologist who is one of the few researchers in the world studying the material culture of human beings' closest living relatives – the great apes – is joining his colleagues in creating a new discipline devoted to the history of tool use in all primate species in order to better understand human evolution.

Julio Mercader, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Tropical Archaeology in the U of C's Department of Archaeology, is a coauthor of a new paper titled "Primate archaeology" published recently in the journal Nature. Mercader is one of 18 co-authors from universities including Cambridge, Rutgers, Kyoto University and schools in Spain, Italy and France.

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Discovery of log boat shows how sea levels rose in past

THE DISCOVERY of a prehistoric boat which had been buried for more than 2,000 years beneath a farm field has already provided historians with an insight into Iron Age life in Yorkshire.

But now academics say the vessel which dates back to 300BC is also helping to show how the face of the region would change in future if the sea levels continue to rise.

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Roman Emperor Vespasian's Villa Found

The summer villa of Roman Emperor Vespasian has been found in the Sabine hill country northeast of Rome, Italian archaeologists announced today.

Titus Flavius Vespasianus is known for rebuilding the Roman Empire following the tumultuous reign of Emporer Nero. Vespasian changed the face of Rome by launching a major public works program, which included the construction of the Colosseum, the structure that arguably defines the glory of ancient Rome.

Dating back to the first century A.D., the massive villa, adorned with mosaic floors, baths and marbled halls, has emerged following four years of digs near the town of Cittareale, in the province of Rieti.

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World's oldest map: Spanish cave has landscape from 14,000 years ago

A stone tablet found in a cave in Abauntz in the Navarra region of northern Spain is believed to contain the earliest known representation of a landscape.

Engravings on the stone, which measures less than seven inches by five inches, and is less than an inch thick, appear to depict mountains, meandering rivers and areas of good foraging and hunting.

A team from the University of Zaragoza spent 15 years deciphering the etched lines and squiggles after unearthing the artefact during excavation of the cave in 1993.

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Archaeologists make grim discovery near Bern

Archaeologists in the canton of Bern have uncovered the remnants of a gallows type structure, from which the dead bodies of executed criminals were hung.A gibbet and the remains of at least 20 people, thought to be from the Middle Ages, have been found at a site just east of the capital.

The gibbet was used in olden days to display the bodies of criminals to deter others from a life of crime. This particular gibbet last appears in records in 1817.

Armond Baeriswil, head of the Division of Urban, Church, and Castle Archaeology in the Canton of Bern says such a find is rare in Switzerland

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Sockel des Galgens und Skelette entdeckt

Auf dem Areal Schönberg Ost in Bern hat der Archäologische Dienst des Kantons Bern eine Hinrichtungsstätte der mittelalterlichen und frühzeitlichen Stadt Bern freigelegt und untersucht. Dabei kamen der Galgensockel sowie menschliche Überreste zum Vorschein.

Auf dem Areal Schönberg Ost in Bern soll in den kommenden Jahren ein Wohnquartier entstehen. Dabei wird tief in den Untergrund eingegriffen und alle archäologische Substanz wird zerstört. Um diese vorher zu dokumentieren und historische Erkenntnisse daraus zu gewinnen, führt der Archäologische Dienst Seit Mai 2009 Rettungsgrabungen durch.

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Evidence for Use of Fire Found at Peking Man Site

Archaeologists have discovered several vertebrate fossils, ashes, burned bones and charcoal remnants at the Zhoukoudian caves, also known as the "Peking Man" site, China News Service reported on Monday.

The discovery proves that Peking man was able to use fire roughly 200-000 to 500,000 years ago, the article said. Many foreign experts once cast doubt on whether Peking Man could use fire at that time, because in past decades they found no direct evidence for its use. The recent archaeological discoveries directly refute their doubts, the article said.

Nearly 1,000 vertebrate fossils and a collection of stone tools were found at the excavation site about 45 km southwest of Beijing, according to Gao Xing, vice-director of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP).

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http://www.wiltshiretimes.co.uk/news/inyourtown/bradfordnews/4538226.Excavation uncovers evidence of Iron Age fort/

The finds archaeologists have uncovered in Mikulovice in the Pardubice region prove that the local prehistoric people had contacts with the Black Sea area in the 6-5th centuries B.C., archeologist Jan Frolik has told CTK.

The experts have uncovered remnants of ancient pottery people's settlements including bone decorations and a saddle of Scythian origin, which proves that the people were in contact with the remote Black Sea region, situated some 1000 km away in the southeast direction.

"The things could appear here as a result of trade, it could be a gift or a souvenir. It is surprising that the people had contacts across such a huge distance," said Frolik.

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Excavation uncovers evidence of Iron Age fort

An excavation to uncover evidence of the Iron Age in Bradford on Avon has been hailed a success after the edge of a hill fort was found along with medieval pottery.

The three-week dig got underway on July 20 in the garden of Peter and Jane Mann, of Budbury Place, who live in a house thought to be the former Budbury Manor, dating back to the 16th century.

Led by former Wiltshire archaeologist Roy Canham, 66, and coinciding with an Iron Age exhibition at the town’s museum, the dig has uncovered more evidence of the fort in the Budbury area, which first came to light in the 1960s.

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Upgrade of A14 begins with dig

WORK has started at last on revamping the A14 - not actually on the road itself, but in a field next to it.

Construction crews have begun excavating a site near Fenstanton for an in-depth archaeological investigation.

Before the A14 can be rebuilt, an "environmental statement" must be completed, examining what impact the new road might have on the countryside, wildlife, and people living nearby.

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Dendrochronology Database

The ADS and Vernacular Architecture Group are pleased to announce the online release of an updated Dendrochronology database. This resource consists of the tree-ring dates for 2450 buildings in the United Kingdom, ranging from cathedrals to cottages and barns. The database holds period, location and reference information for each record.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Norton Community Archaeology Group

Once again, it's digging season for the group, and you can keep up with discoveries on its blog at http://nortoncommarch.wordpress.com/.

We're investigating a site at a deserted crossroads in the medieval village of Norton, now part of Letchworth Garden City. Starting from a sixteenth-century spread of occupation rubbish, we're hoping to uncover the foundations of a medieval peasant's cottage that is visible in the earthworks as a distinct house platform.

View the blog...