Saturday, December 19, 2009

University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology

The University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology are taking bookings for 2010.

Courses descriptions and application forms can be found here...

Newport's medieval ship model is taking shape

A model replica of Newport's medieval ship will soon be complete thanks to an innovative manufacturing process perfected at Cardiff University.

The 15th Century vessel was discovered in the banks of the River Usk in June 2002 during construction of the city's Riverfront theatre and arts centre.

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Science's breakthrough of the year: Uncovering 'Ardi'

The research that brought to light the fossils of Ardipithecus ramidus, a hominid species that lived 4.4 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia, has topped Science's list of this year's most significant scientific breakthroughs. The monumental find predates "Lucy,"—previously the most ancient partial skeleton of a hominid on record—by more than one million years, and it inches researchers ever-closer to the last common ancestor shared by humans and chimpanzees.

Science and its publisher, AAAS, the nonprofit science society, recognize the Ardipithecus ramidus fossils, including the partial skeleton named "Ardi," as 2009's Breakthrough of the Year. They also identify nine other important scientific accomplishments from this past year in a top ten list, appearing in a special news feature in the journal's 18 December 2009 issue.

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Human Ancestors Were Homemakers

In a stone-age version of "Iron Chef," early humans were dividing their living spaces into kitchens and work areas much earlier than previously thought, a new study found.

So rather than cooking and eating in the same area where they snoozed, early humans demarcated such living quarters.

Archaeologists discovered evidence of this coordinated living at a hominid site at Gesher Benot Ya‘aqov, Israel from about 800,000 years ago. Scientists aren't sure exactly who lived there, but it predates the appearance of modern humans, so it was likely a human ancestor such as Homo erectus.

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Ancient Greek Artifact Pulled Out of Mediterranean Sea

Archaeologists pulled a section of an ancient Egyptian pylon out of the Mediterranean seabed on Thursday in Alexandria.

The ruin was discovered 11 years ago by a Greek archaeological team, and dates back to around 30 B.C.. It is part of a late Ptolemaic-era temple near the tomb of Cleopatra.

Another important artifact will be brought to the surface in May.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Davy Jones's lock-up

Underwater robots can help study the world’s shipwrecks, a trove of information about the past, more easily and cheaply

A SHIPWRECK is a catastrophe for those involved, but for historians and archaeologists of future generations it is an opportunity. Wrecks offer glimpses not only of the nautical technology of the past but also of its economy, trade, culture and, sometimes, its warfare. Until recently, though, most of the 3m ships estimated to be lying on the seabed have been out of reach. Underwater archaeology has mainly been the preserve of scuba divers. That has limited the endeavour to waters less than 50 metres deep, excluding 98% of the sea floor from inspection. Even allowing for the tendency of trading vessels to be coasters rather than ocean-going ships, that limits the number of wrecks available for discovery and examination.

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Experts bid to decode Roman altar

A PAIR of German computer experts are hoping to decode part of South Shields's history by setting their sights on a mysterious Roman altar.

Bjorn Brecht and Bruno Kessler, who are both studying for their masters in geo-computer programming at the University of Applied Science in Mainz, Germany, were invited to Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum in South Shields to help make sense of a now-invisible inscription on a third century AD column.

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2010 preview: Arise, Neanderthal brother

Do we have a little Neanderthal in us? That's not a reference to your behaviour at the end-of-year office party, but to the genes of our extinct cousins. With the imminent publication of the genome sequence of Homo neanderthalis, that question may finally be answered.

So far no one has uncovered evidence of any cross-species romps - at least none that left a trace in our DNA. The 3-billion-nucleotide Neanderthal genome is our best chance yet of finding out.

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York Archaeological Trust take over running of Micklegate Museum on City Walls

A NEW era has dawned for York’s City Walls after the owners of the Jorvik Centre took possession of the keys of Micklegate Bar.

York Archaeological Trust plans to use Micklegate Museum for a series of exhibitions on the part played by the walls in the city’s history, from its Roman foundation to the 20th century.

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Stone Age Pantry: Archaeologist Unearths Earliest Evidence of Modern Humans Using Wild Grains and Tubers for Food

The consumption of wild cereals among prehistoric hunters and gatherers appears to be far more ancient than previously thought, according to a University of Calgary archaeologist who has found the oldest example of extensive reliance on cereal and root staples in the diet of early Homo sapiens more than 100,000 years ago.

Julio Mercader, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Tropical Archaeology in the U of C's Department of Archaeology, recovered dozens of stone tools from a deep cave in Mozambique showing that wild sorghum, the ancestor of the chief cereal consumed today in sub-Saharan Africa for flours, breads, porridges and alcoholic beverages, was in Homo sapiens' pantry along with the African wine palm, the false banana, pigeon peas, wild oranges and the African "potato."

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Bones find from abandoned village 'show tough life of medieval women'

The fearsome northern woman of legend and cliche, broadchested and with a frying pan poised to whack sense into her man, has proved to have genuine historic origins.

Analysis of bones from Britain's biggest medieval excavation has unearthed a race of real-life Nora Battys, ruling a Yorkshire roost nearly 1,000 years ago.

Skeletons from Wharram Percy, a village on the Yorkshire Wolds abandoned after the 14th century Black Death, have much larger bones than those of contemporaries elsewhere.

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Medieval Nora Battys uncovered

THE age of equality, it seems, dates back to the medieval era if the lives of peasant women in a famous Yorkshire settlement are anything to go by.

Archaeologists have unearthed evidence which suggests that women who were living in North Yorkshire as long ago as the 11th century joined their male counterparts to toil on the land.

English Heritage has conducted studies on nearly 120 female skeletons that were found at Wharram Percy, which lays claim to being Europe's most famous deserted medieval village.

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Marsh Archaeology Award 2009 Winner Announced

The winner of the 2009 Marsh Archaeology Award was announced earlier today by the Council for British Archaeology at the end of a session on public participation in archaeology at the Theoretical Archaeology Group conference in Durham University.

The Marsh Archaeology Award this year recognises and promotes high quality and engaging education work carried out in the UK with people under the age of 18.

The winner was Sarah Dhanjal from London. Sarah is currently undertaking PhD research at UCL Institute of Archaeology, exploring attitudes to heritage, and particularly archaeology, in Southall, west London. Sarah worked for three years at UCL from 2005-2008 as a widening participation and diversity officer, running programmes to encourage the participation of underrepresented groups in archaeology and other subjects.

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Medieval Peasants grew the best grapes, study finds

Scientists in Cambridge have discovered that a lowly grape variety grown by peasants – but despised by noblemen – during the Middle Ages was the mother of many of today’s greatest grape varieties, including the Chardonnay used in Champagne.

Several venerable grape varieties - including Chardonnay and Gamay noir - stem from crosses between Pinot noir and Gouais blanc. Until now, which variety was the father and which the mother has been a mystery.

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How did King Harold die at the Battle of Hastings

A recent article is challenging the notion that the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson was killed by an arrow to the eye during the famous Battle of Hastings. The battle, fought in 1066, was a pivotal moment in England's history, ushering in an era of Norman rule.

In an article for The Historian, a publication by the Historical Association, Chris Dennis argues that Harold Godwinson was actually hacked to death by a group of knights that may have included William the Conqueror.

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Spanish dig fails to find grave of poet Lorca

Excavations aimed at finding the remains of Spanish poet and dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca have drawn a blank, officials say.

The dig produced "not one bone, item of clothing or bullet shell", said Begona Alvarez, justice minister of Andalucia.

Lorca was murdered at the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 by right-wing supporters of Gen Francisco Franco.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Find in southern France puts humans in Europe 200,000 earlier

Experts on prehistoric man are rethinking their dates after a find in a southern French valley that suggests our ancestors may have reached Europe 1.57 million years ago: 200,000 earlier than we thought.

What provoked the recount was a pile of fossilised bones and teeth uncovered 15 years ago by local man Jean Rouvier in a basalt quarry at Lezignan la Cebe, in the Herault valley, Languedoc.

In the summer of 2008, Rouvier mentioned his find to Jerome Ivorra, an archaeological researcher at France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

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Merovingian and Carolingian burial sites discovered near Paris

A team of French archaeo-anthropologists have discovered two burial sites dating from the Early Middle Ages in Noisy-le-Grand, a suburb of Paris. The discovery was made earlier this year.

The first site, Merovingian (5th-6th centuries) consisting of almost 300 graves, is characterised by plaster sarcophagi, the dead adorned with bead necklaces, ear-rings, brooches and plate buckles (belt). The sarcophagi, orientated east-west, are grouped by family and community.

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Restoration of Medieval Monastery in Bulgaria to Begin Next Year

Restoration of the St Michael the Archangel Monastery near the Bulgarian town of Trun will begin next year, Trun Mayor Stanislav Nikolov said. The monastery has been proclaimed an archaeological and cultural monument of national importance. It is located on the left bank of the Erma River, close to the Trun Canyon.

The monastery was set up in the late 14th century and is considered an original example of medieval cult architecture in Bulgaria. An antique sacrificial stone is preserved at the place. The church, an architectural analogue of the church at the Poganovo Monastery in Serbia, is also preserved. During the National Revival Period, the monastery was home to a school. The monastery played a role in the struggle for Bulgaria's liberation from Ottoman rule. The Trun Revolutionary Committee was set up there.

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Climate Change Does Not Always Lead to Conflict

The climate change that took place in Mesopotamia around 2000 BC did not lead to war, but in fact led to the development of a new shared identity. Although increasing drought often leads to competition and conflict, there seems to be no evidence of this in northern Mesopotamia according to Dutch researcher Arne Wossink.

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Rising seas 'clue' in sunken world off Orkney

A unique discovery of submerged man-made structures on the seabed off Orkney could help find solutions to rising sea levels, experts have said.

They said the well preserved stone pieces near the island of Damsay are the only such examples around the UK.

It is thought some of the structures may date back thousands of years.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mayas Saving Maya Culture

Location: Guatemala Length: 22 min

An association of Tz’utujil Maya people from Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, struggle to establish a cultural center and archaeological site museum at the nearby lakeside site of Chuitinamit, once home to the Pre-Hispanic Maya King Tepepul and now badly looted. Including a tour of the museum, this film documents their accomplishments thus far and current endeavors in the face of artifact looting and natural catastrophe in the form of Hurricane Stan, which struck in 2005.

Watch the video...

Mel Gibson to direct DiCaprio in Viking movie: report

Hollywood actor and director Mel Gibson's next directing project will be an as-yet untitled film about Vikings, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, "Variety" reported on Monday.

Gibson is to direct DiCaprio in an untitled period drama set during Viking times, according to the film industry bible, which reported that veteran script writer William Monahan also has signed on to the project.

"This will be an awe-inspiring story, created with some of the industry?s finest cinematic talent and I am just over the moon to be making this film with Mel, Leo and Bill," said the film's producer Graham King in a statement.

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Time Team to show special on Dover Castle

The recent restoration of Great Tower at Dover Castle is the subject of a special Time Team programme, which will be broadcast in the United Kingdom on Saturday, December 19.

The castle has dominated the town and the White Cliffs since it was built in 1180 by Henry II to show off the best England could offer.

But it had become a shadow of its former self and in 2008 English Heritage decided to undertake a bold piece of restoration and recreate the rooms of the castle propelling it back to the world of King Henry II.

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Viking Weapon-Recycling Site Found in England?

Today's recyclers can now conceivably lay claim to a rich, bloody, brawny heritage, if a new Viking discovery is any indication.

The famed Norse warriors, many of whom settled parts of eastern and northern England in the Middle Ages, recycled as they fought, new excavations in the United Kingdom suggest.

An 11th-century metalworking site recently discovered in the city of York (map) is likely evidence of a makeshift recycling center, where Vikings took weapons for reprocessing after battle, according to historian Charles Jones, organizer of the Fulford Battlefield Society, which advocates preserving the battle site against potential development.

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4,000-year-old-year-old flowers found at Bronze Age dig

For the first time ever there is proof that pre-historic people placed bunches of flowers in the grave when they buried their dead, experts have said.

Archaeologists have discovered a bunch of meadowsweet blossoms in a Bronze Age grave at Forteviot, south of Perth.

The find is reported in the journal "British Archaeology", out this week.

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Archaeologists find late Roman grave in Budapest

Archaeologists unearthed a burial place from the 4th century - the last period of Roman rule in the former Pannonia province - in NW Budapest, the head of the excavation project told MTI on Monday.

Archaeologist Gabor Lassanyi said that the grave had been dated based on a bone comb it contained. The comb - made with three components fastened together by way of small iron thuds and decorated with geometric motifs - was similar to objects made by barbarian tribes on the area of today's eastern Hungary, and which only became fashionable in Pannonia during the last decades of the era, Lassanyi said.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Dig must go ahead at All Saints' before Church House can be extended

Archaeologists are to dig up part of the grounds of an Ilkley church which stands on the site of a Roman fort.

Permission is being sought for excavations at All Saints’ Church to clear the way for an extension at its neighbour, Church House.

The church, which lies at the crossroads in Ilkley, stands on the site of the Roman fort of Olicana, which is protected by scheduled monument status.

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Jorvik Viking Centre in Coppergate to close for £1 million revamp

ONE of York’s top tourist attractions will close to the public in January while a £1 million redevelopment project is completed.

Animatronic figures which will interact with figures are part of a major upgrade of facilities at the Jorvik Viking Centre.

The revamp, which began in November, will also see a reconstruction of the original Coppergate excavation and the reconstruction of a new Viking-age house and backyard.

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Was Largs a Roman holiday resort?

In this week's 'Know Your News' we head back to the distant past when the beautiful surroundings of Largs proved attractive to the Romans.

In 1958, St Columba's Parish Church Fellowship had a most interesting evening "Hearin' Aboot Auld Largs" from Mr Duncan Brown.

Mr Brown traced Largs to the days when the Romans resided by its shores. He spoke of the finds of old Roman coins and paving underneath the Post Office in Main Street in 1820; also of a Roman well found in Nelson Street while Knock Hill had been a Roman Fort.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ancient midden 'unlikely to survive beyond 2010'

An ancient midden, or rubbish dump, thought to have historical importance is under serious threat from erosion, according to archaeologists.

They said it was doubtful if artefacts at Uamh an Eich Bhric on Skye's west coast would survive beyond 2010.

Excavations at the site during 2008 and earlier this year were seen as the "only chance" to investigate it.

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Laid bare: the sex life of the ancient Greeks in all its physical glory

The ancient Greeks were never at a loss for words when it came to love and lust – and an exhibition that opened in Athens today laying bare the practice of sex in classical times through an unprecedented collection of eye-popping art partly explains why.

Eros, the god of love and the great loosener of limbs, was many things: irresistible, tender, beautiful, excruciating, maddening, merciless and bittersweet. There was no position, no touch, no predilection too outre to pay homage to him. From the affectionate embrace to group sex, love came in many forms.

"The Greeks were anything but prudes," said Nicholaos Stampolidis, director of the Museum of Cycladic Art, where the show will run for six months. "Theirs was a society of great tolerance and lack of guilt."

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Farnham Castle to be restored

Farnham Castle, which was first built in the 12th century, has been awarded £700,000 in funding for major restoration works and improvements for visitors.

The grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will complete the final phase of a major restoration programme and unite the Bishop’s Palace and Keep under single management for the first time. This will enable it as one of the leading tourist attractions in Surrey to offer an exciting and educational visitor experience, and open up the castle’s rich and varied stories to the widest possible audience.

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Scotland’s oldest book goes on display for first time

Scotland's oldest book, a medieval Celtic psalter with vivid illustrations in green, red, purple and gold, will be put on public display on Friday for just the second time in 1,000 years.

The pocket-sized book of psalms dates from the 11th century and has been described as Scotland's version of the celebrated Book of Kells in Dublin.

It contains hand-written psalms in Latin, with Celtic and Pictish illustrations of dragons and other “beasts” and is normally only available to scholars, although it was exhibited in 1967.

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Ladybridge Farm Archaeological Excavations

Planning permission was granted for a revised scheme of mineral extraction at Ladybridge Farm on the 16th January 2007. Since that time a series of archaeological excavations have taken place on the site prior to mineral extraction. All of the work is being carried out by Mike Griffiths and Associates Ltd in consultation with North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) and English Heritage and in accordance with approved Written Schemes of Investigation.

As part of an ongoing obligation by the mineral company Tarmac, the results of the archaeological work are being documented on our web site. In addition to a regularly updated site diary the web site also hosts the minutes of site meetings held between the Heritage Unit at NYCC and advisors of English Heritage as part of an ongoing iterative process.

As well as an account of our current work, the web site also contains an interactive site database and PDF copies of all of our archaeological reports, past and recent, that can be downloaded free of charge.

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Tide turns on Iron Age midden treasure trove

AN ANCIENT rubbish tip – inhabited nearly 2,000 years ago – is disappearing into the sea, archeologists have warned.

The Iron Age midden on Skye's west coast has so far yielded bone fragments, stone tools, a button manufactured from horn and the top of a human skull.

But experts are battling the elements in a race to save the 1,900-year-old treasure trove from the elements.

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Questions About Stress Resolved By Studying Hair Of Ancient Peruvians

Recent studies show that one in three Canadians suffer from stress and the number is on the rise. But stress isn't a new problem.

While the physiological state wasn't properly named until the 1930s, new research from The University of Western Ontario proves stress has plagued humans for hundreds, and perhaps thousands of years.

The first study of its kind, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, detected the stress hormone cortisol in the hair of ancient Peruvians, who lived between 550 and 1532 A.D.

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£725,000 bid to save Lewes Priory Medieval monastery wins Lottery Fund boost

A £725,000 bid to save the decaying Norman skeleton of a Grade I-listed Medieval monastery will go ahead in a two-year rebuilding campaign after Lottery chiefs agreed to fund 75% of the costs.

Lewes Priory, a Scheduled Ancient Monument set opposite a castle in the picturesque East Sussex town, will use the £545,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to create new pathways, benches, interpretive signs and education programmes during an extensive building programme expected to run throughout 2010.

"This is a massive gain for the town of Lewes," said John Lawrence, Chairman of campaigners the Priory Trust, which has helped to win the funding from the HLF, English Heritage and the local Town Council.

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Treasure trove on display at museum

ROMAN coins thought to be more than 2,200 years old are now on display at a museum.

The coins are part of a hoard of treasure found at a farm at Petworth, near Chichester, and now on display at Chichester museum.

The treasure includes two unique, unrecorded types of coin that could inspire interest from coin experts worldwide.

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Ancient Mediterranean flood mystery solved

Research has revealed details of the catastrophic Zanclean flood that refilled the Mediterranean Sea more than five million years ago.

The flood occurred when Atlantic waters found their way into the cut-off and desiccated Mediterranean basin.

The researchers say that a 200km channel across the Gibraltar strait was carved out by the floodwaters.

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Rettungsgrabungen in Ipsach

Neue Rettungsgrabungen am unteren Räberain haben die Kenntnis der frühen Geschichte Ipsachs entscheidend erweitert: Der Archäologische Dienst des Kantons Bern (Schweiz) konnte eine jungsteinzeitliche Beilproduktion nachweisen. Zudem hat er fünf latènezeitliche Gräber entdeckt und wesentliche Ergänzungen zum Grundriss des römischen Gutshofs dokumentiert.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Treasure hunter's Bronze Age find

A TREASURE hunter discovered part of a 3,000-year-old sword while out with his metal detector near Belper.

David Beard, 47, of Sandbed Lane, found the part of the Bronze Age sword when he was out with his metal detector at a farm in the Chevin area of Belper.

He took it to Derby Museum which dated it to between 1150bc and 1400bc.
He said: "You usually find something within the first few minutes but it could be a rusty nail or horse shoe.

It depends, sometimes you can go a whole day and find a Victorian penny. The detector tells you how deep it is, this was about a foot deep."

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Matthew Paris Symposium

The Fraternity of Friends of St Albans Abbey is organising a symposium to mark the 750th anniversary of the death of Matthew Paris, the famous chronicler, cartographer and artist who was a monk at St Alban's in the 13th century.

The Matthew Paris Symposium will be held Saturday, February 13, 2010 at the Abbey CE VA Primary School in St.Alban's.

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Homeless helping Stokes Croft archaeology dig

A team of homeless people are to begin excavating a derelict corner of Bristol which has been used by rough sleepers for more than 40 years.

"Turbo Island" in Stokes Croft is to be excavated in a project funded by the Council of British Archaeology.

Archaeologist Rachael Kiddey, who developed the scheme, said: "This project seeks to break down barriers."

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Homeless dig deep to help excavation of Bristol's Turbo Island

Ring pulls, needles, a syringe and a turquoise ring are just some of the items that have been found in an unusual archeological dig – at Turbo Island.

The patch of land between Stokes Croft and Jamaica Street, which has been frequented by homeless people and street drinkers for decades, is being excavated as part of a project looking at homelessness.

Homeless people in the city are helping police officers, Bristol University students and English Heritage archeologists to uncover items left on the island over the years.

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A Gaelic longboat, and the healing power of heritage

Its freshly oiled pine hull is as fragrant as a wet winter woodland. Modelled on a thousand-year-old prototype, this hulking birlinn – a Gaelic longboat – will soon be ready to sail out along the Clyde and up the west coast in homage to the time when water was Scotland's main thoroughfare. It is taking form in an old iron foundry in Glasgow's Govan, home to a uniquely imaginative community project called the GalGael Trust.

Here, local volunteers teach carpentry, saw-milling and metalwork, as well as boat-building and sailing – the skills so valued in the once thriving shipyards that secured for this area its reputation as the workshop of the empire. It was the inexorable decline in demand for such skills that gifted Govan the reality it contends with today: paralysing levels of unemployment, chronic alcohol and drug addiction, and habitual violence on the streets. The fractured life stories of the men who come here to learn bear witness to all this.

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Priory ruins get lottery makeover

The ruins of a medieval priory in East Sussex are to be transformed into a visitor attraction with lottery money.

The 11th Century Lewes Priory has been awarded £545,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Grade I listed Norman property in Cockshut Road is described by HLF as "one of the most important historical buildings in south-east England".

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Top Ten Archaeology Finds: Most Viewed of 2009

Vampires, pirates, ghost ships, skeletons—if it isn't Halloween, it can only be one thing: National Geographic News's annual lineup of our most popular archaeology coverage.

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German Excavation Reveals Signs of Mass Cannibalism

Was it mass cannibalism, ritual slaughter or both? Archaeologists who unearthed the remains of 500 Stone Age corpses in the German town of Herxheim say the meat was cut off their bones as if they were livestock. One conclusion is that the people were eaten -- after volunteering to be sacrificed.

How do you carve up a cow? First you cut the meat off the bones. You start by severing the muscles from the joints with a sharp knife. The fibrous meat can then easily be scraped off, from top to bottom. After you've removed the flesh there's still a lot of goodness left. Deep in the long bones and vertebrae lies the marrow. To get at this delicacy you smash the bones and scrape out the marrow or simply boil it out in water. What's left is a pile of naked bones with traces of scratching and scraping as well as the small debris of bone that contained marrow.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Turf Farm Hotel Proposed for Thingvellir

Four historians have presented their ideas for a turf farm hotel to the parliament’s Thingvellir committee, a living museum where tourists can travel up to 1,000 years back in time. The historians have founded a company to execute their idea, called Stórsaga.

The historians are especially interested in the area Skógarhólar, which currently has facilities for horseback riders passing through Thingvellir.

In addition to the turf farm, they are keen on building a small church, cowshed, smithy and a parliament camp, Morgunbladid reports.

During the day, tourists can observe how the Icelandic settlers lived and at night the area would be used to accommodate tourists. That way, people can experience how Icelanders used to live for centuries.

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Funding sought to buy Roman site

Campaigners are in a race against time to raise £250,000 to buy the site of a major Roman find in Colchester.

The remains of a chariot racing track at the town's former Garrison were discovered under the former sergeants mess by an archaeological dig in 2004.

A local consortium has so far raised two-thirds of the funds to buy the land from developer Taylor Wimpey.

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Should the Streets of Pompeii be Buried?

The Streets of Pompeii is a walking tour of the ruins of Pompeii, one of two Pompeii walking tours that were assembled from photographs taken by several tourists and posted on Flickr, among other places.

Recently, blogger Archaeopop wrote about a new Google Street View of Pompeii, developed with the full cooperation of the Italian government to give a boost to tourism in their country. Google Street view is video shot at ground and stitched together so that the user can get a personalized stroll through an area. While the tool is a little hard to use at first, when you try it, pretty soon you'll be gliding through the streets of Pompeii staring at ruins in amazement.

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Exeter professor advises Channel 4 team

UNIVERSITY of Exeter scientist Professor Chris Turney is the scientific advisor for the major new series which started on Channel 4 last night.

Man on Earth is a four-part series in which Tony Robinson travels back through 200,000 years of human history to find out what happened to our ancestors when violent climate change turned their world upside down – and what they can teach us as we face our own climate crisis today.

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Internet Archaeology Issue 27

Issue 27 of Internet Archaeology is now available. This issue includes articles focussing on 'Digital Avebury: New 'Avenues' of Research', 'Imperial Industry and Observational Control in the Faynan Region, Southern Jordan' and 'Land Use and the Agrarian Economy in the Roman Dutch River Area'.

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Medieval tombstones rise from flames

Medieval tombstones uncovered in a fire which devastated a County Durham church have gone on display.

The 12th and 13th Century stones were revealed when flames vaporised the interior of St Brandon's Church in Brancepeth, near Durham City, in 1998.

Local historians believe the tombstones, known as cross slabs, were hidden within the walls in the 17th Century to protect them from vandals.

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Ancient Volcano's Devastating Effects Confirmed

A massive volcanic eruption that occurred in the distant past killed off much of central India's forests and may have pushed humans to the brink of extinction, according to a new study that adds evidence to a controversial topic.

The Toba eruption, which took place on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia about 73,000 years ago, released an estimated 800 cubic kilometers of ash into the atmosphere that blanketed the skies and blocked out sunlight for six years. In the aftermath, global temperatures dropped by as much as 16 degrees centigrade (28 degrees Fahrenheit) and life on Earth plunged deeper into an ice age that lasted around 1,800 years.

In 1998, Stanley Ambrose, an anthropology professor at the University of Illinois, proposed in the Journal of Human Evolution that the effects of the Toba eruption and the Ice Age that followed could explain the apparent bottleneck in human populations that geneticists believe occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. The lack of genetic diversity among humans alive today suggests that during this time period humans came very close to becoming extinct.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Crofter finds a 'Viking' anchor on the Isle of Skye

A crofter has uncovered what is believed to be a Viking anchor while digging a drain on the Isle of Skye.

Graeme Mackenzie, 47, made the find after hiring an excavator to open the drain on rough pastureland 50yds (48m) from his home near Sleat.

Rain had partly washed away the bottom of the drain and exposed a corroded 4in (10cm) iron spike.

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The Ruins of Pompeii are now on Google Streetview

The Ruins of Pompeii are now featured on Google Streetview.

You can follow the suggested itinerary through the ruins, or rotate, zoom, etc to you heart’s content!

You can find the Ruins of Pompeii here…

Ancient site reveals signs of mass cannibalism

Archaeologists have found evidence of mass cannibalism at a 7,000-year-old human burial site in south-west Germany, the journal Antiquity reports.

The authors say their findings provide rare evidence of cannibalism in Europe's early Neolithic period.

Up to 500 human remains unearthed near the village of Herxheim may have been cannibalised.

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Excavations uncover four ossuaries at Georgian monastery

FOUR OSSUARIES were found during excavations at the church of Ayios Nikolaos, on the site of the 10th century Georgian Monastery, at Gialia village in Paphos, which have been completed, the Department of Antiquities said.

Inside the ossuaries archaeologists found the bones spread irregularly around the site, along with a large number of clay vessels.

Moveable finds, which mainly consisted of bowls, date to various periods between the 12th and 15th centuries AD.

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French immigrants founded first British farms

THE British may owe the French more than they care to admit. Archaeological finds from Britain show that farming was introduced 6000 years ago by immigrants from France, and that the ancient Brits might have continued as hunter-gatherers had it not been for innovations introduced by the Gallic newcomers.

Mark Collard from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, and his colleagues studied carbon-14 dates for ancient bones, wood and cereal grains from locations across Great Britain. From this they were able to assess how population density changed with time, indicating that around 6000 years ago the population quadrupled in just 400 years (Journal of Archaeological Science, DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2009.11.016). This coincides with the emergence of farming in Britain.

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Oslo growing older

Archeologists now say Oslo's history will have to be re-written. They have made new escavations which show that people have lived on the Ekeberg heights east of the capital for 10,000 years.

The artifacts found include flint chips and other evidence of tool production, which show that people have lived here more than 2000 years longer than experts previously believed.

The new find includes a settlement, which in those days was located at the waters edge, but now is found high up in the hillside. The land has risen after the ice cap which covered much of the area melted.

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Debate Over Evidence of Mass Cannibalism

At a settlement in what is now southern Germany, the menu turned gruesome 7,000 years ago. Over a period of perhaps a few decades, hundreds of people were butchered and eaten before parts of their bodies were thrown into oval pits, a new study suggests.
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Cannibalism at the village, now called Herxheim, may have occurred during ceremonies in which people from near and far brought slaves, war prisoners or other dependents for ritual sacrifice, propose anthropologist Bruno Boulestin of the University of Bordeaux 1 in France and his colleagues. A social and political crisis in central Europe at that time triggered various forms of violence, the researchers suspect.

“Human sacrifice at Herxheim is a hypothesis that’s difficult to prove right now, but we have evidence that several hundred people were eaten over a brief period,” Boulestin says. Skeletal markings indicate that human bodies were butchered in the same way as animals.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Oxford Summer School Courses in Archaeology

The Oxford Experience summer school runs as five separate weeks from 4 July to 7 August 2010.

The summer school is held at the Oxford college of Christ Church, and entry is open to all.

You can find a list of the summer school’s archaeology courses here....

And you can find further details of the Oxford Experience here...

Turkey: Archaeology Holds Up Construction of Tunnel under the Bosphorus

Istanbul’s Marmaray Project, which is to connect Asia and Europe through a tunnel under the Bosphorus, is held back as archaeologists excavate a fourth-century Byzantine port and other important remains.

“Archeologists are working around the clock on a huge swathe of land is being taken apart little by little,” a publication by the Voice of America News recently reported. “Eventually it will be the city's new transportation hub. But for now, it is a massive archaeological dig.”

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Archaeologists to dig up Shakespeare’s rubbish

A team of archaeologists began digging on the site of Shakespeare’s last home yesterday in a search for clues that might reveal more about his life.

They hope to discover remains of clothing, documents and even household waste. The dig is at New Place, where he lived from 1597 until his death in 1616.

Richard Kemp, of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “We are hoping to find organic debris that will teach us what the great man had for dinner. Our dream find would be the first draft of The Tempest, which we know Shakespeare did write here.”

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Portable Antiquities Conference: Archaeology, Collecting, Metal Detecting

The CBA is teaming up with Newcastle University’s International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies to organise and host a major conference titled Portable Antiquities: Archaeology, Collecting, Metal Detecting. This will take place in Newcastle upon Tyne on Saturday 13th March 2010.

Speakers will address the current issues facing those involved and interested in portable antiquities, whether from an archaeological, collecting or metal detecting background. Papers will address recent research, new initiatives and ultimately discuss what the future holds for portable antiquity management and protection in the UK and further afield.

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New evidence found about the Battle of Fulford

The discovery of over a thousand pieces of iron, including arrowheads and axe heads, may provide valuable new details about the Battle of Fulford, which was fought between a Viking and Anglo-Saxon army in 1066.

The battle was won by the Norse forces led by the Norwegian king Harold Hardrada on September 20, 1066. Historians and archaeologists have now evidence that the Vikings spent the next few days setting up hearths to reprocess metal left over from the battle. Their efforts came to a sudden halt when the Vikings were decisively defeated by the English king Harold Godwinson five days later at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

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'Pillaging' Vikings unmasked as eco warriors

THEIR reputation for raping and pillaging may not have set them out as the ideal role-models for an environmentally-friendly way of life.

But it seems that lessons could perhaps be learnt from the Vikings after the intriguing discovery in Yorkshire of what is believed to be a metal recycling centre dating back to the 11th century.

Historians and metal detector enthusiasts have made the find which is being heralded as evidence of how the Norse invaders recycled their fearsome array of weapons.

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Remains of Roman tower discovered during City Walls repair project in Chester

THE well-preserved remains of a Roman tower used by guards patrolling Chester’s City Walls has been discovered by archaeologists repairing a section which collapsed near the Eastgate Clock.

Interval towers were placed regularly every 65m or so along the rear of the main fortress wall and acted as lookout points and as bases for roman artillery. The tower has been found beneath the foundation of the city wall.

City Archaeologist Mike Morris said: “We have been working closely with the stonemasons as they carefully dismantled the City Wall.

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Ancient Temple Architects May Have Been Chasing a Buzz From Sound Waves

Six-thousand-year-old ancient temples are giving up acoustic clues for modern scientists. Intriguing new research on ancient temples in Malta and highlighted by the Old Temples Study Foundation is resonating through international archaeology and interdisciplinary classics research. Reaching beyond the scope of traditional archaeology, a multi-disciplinary approach has opened a new dimension for the study of the ancient world.

“We may be hitting on one of those ‘lost secrets’,” says Linda Eneix, President of The OTS Foundation, dedicated to archaeology research and education related to the ancient temples of Mediterranean Malta.

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Ancient gold unearthed in southern Hungary

Archaeologists have discovered rare gold objects from the time Hungarian tribes first arrived in the Carpathian basin, near Szeged, the head of the excavation told MTI on Monday.

Tibor Paluch, archaeologist of Szeged's Ferenc Mora Museum, said that the relics - thin gold sheets to cover the eyes and mouth of a dead person - had been found in one of eight early graves.

The archaeologist said that the purpose of applying the covers was to protect the soul of the dead. He added that warriors had been buried in six graves, which included the sculls of their horses.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Big Freeze Plunged Europe Into Ice Age in Months

In the film The Day After Tomorrow, the world enters the icy grip of a new glacial period within the space of just a few weeks. Now new research shows that this scenario may not be so far from the truth after all.

William Patterson, from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, and his colleagues have shown that switching off the North Atlantic circulation can force the Northern hemisphere into a mini 'ice age' in a matter of months. Previous work has indicated that this process would take tens of years.

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Greece: Archaeologists Discover Wall of Ancient City of Vergina

An exceptional fortification structure surrounding the ancient city of Vergina, located in northern Greece, was recently discovered by archaeologists from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

According to the university’s announcement, cited by the website, the architectural elements of the enclosure indicate that it dates back to the reign of Cassander, in the early third century BC, a period when Macedonia was plagued by major turmoil, including civil wars and attacks from the outside.

The finding, according to the publication, is of remarkable importance because the wall is preserved in perfect condition.

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A Lost European Culture, Pulled From Obscurity

Before the glory that was Greece and Rome, even before the first cities of Mesopotamia or temples along the Nile, there lived in the Lower Danube Valley and the Balkan foothills people who were ahead of their time in art, technology and long-distance trade.

For 1,500 years, starting earlier than 5000 B.C., they farmed and built sizable towns, a few with as many as 2,000 dwellings. They mastered large-scale copper smelting, the new technology of the age. Their graves held an impressive array of exquisite headdresses and necklaces and, in one cemetery, the earliest major assemblage of gold artifacts to be found anywhere in the world.

The striking designs of their pottery speak of the refinement of the culture’s visual language. Until recent discoveries, the most intriguing artifacts were the ubiquitous terracotta “goddess” figurines, originally interpreted as evidence of the spiritual and political power of women in society.

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Viking ‘recycling’ centre discovered at battle of Fulford site near York

HISTORIANS and metal detector enthusiasts believe they have found York’s first metal recycling centre – dating back to 1066.

A ten-year project aimed at discovering the site of the battle of Fulford, which preceded the better known battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings, has uncovered more than 1,000 pieces of iron.

Historian Chas Jones, who led the research, said the items included arrowheads and axe heads, but there was also strong evidence of metal working indicating the reprocessing of weapons used in the battle.

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