Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Popular Archaeology Magazine Launched

Popular Archaeology magazine is a 100% online periodical dedicated to participatory, or public, archaeology. Unlike most other major magazines related to archaeology, no paper copies will ever be produced and distributed, so it will always be "green", and it will always be less costly to produce and therefore far less costly to purchase by premium subscribers (although regular subscriptions are always free). Most of our writers and contributors are either professionals or top experts in their fields, or are individuals relating first-hand experiences; however, the magazine is unique among other archaeology-related magazines in that it makes it easy to invite and encourage members of the public (YOU) to submit pertinent articles, blogs, events, directory listings, and classified ads for publication. As a volunteer or student, do you have a fascinating story to tell about an archaeological experience? As a professional archaeologist, scholar, educator, or scientist, do you have a discovery, program or project that you think would be of interest to the world? Do you have an archaeology-related service or item for sale? Would you like to have your archaeology-related blog post featured on the front page? ( Ad and specially featured item prices are lower than what you will find in any other major archaeology magazine). Through Popular Archaeology, you can realize all of these things. Moreover, because the content is produced by a very broad spectrum of contributors, you will see more feature articles than what you would typically find in the major print publications, with the same content quality.

As a community of professionals, writers, students, and volunteers, we invite you to join us as subscribers in this adventure of archaeological discovery. It could open up a whole new world for you.

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Pictures: Ancient Roman Spa City Reburied in Turkey

The second-century Roman ruins at the city of Allianoi once stood tall under the blue Turkish sky, as seen in a file photo. But like the rest of the site's archaeological treasures, these structures are now covered back up with sand.

Discovered in 1998 and only partially excavated, the nearly 2,000-year-old city of Allianoi was home to baths and natural springs favored by the Romans for their health benefits. (See related pictures of King Herod's royal theater box, recently excavated in the West Bank.)

Today, however, the well-preserved ruins lie in the path of a proposed dam that would flood the region to create an artificial reservoir. The Yortanli Dam will provide water for thousands of acres of agricultural land, and farmers living near Turkey's Aegean coast strongly support the project.

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Mosaics found in SE Turkey lead to unearthing of ancient Roman city

The ancient city of Germenicia, which has been underground for 1,500 years, is being unearthed thanks to mosaics found during an illegal excavation in 2007 under a house in Southeast Turkey. Excavations are ongoing in the area, with authorities aiming to completely reveal the mosaics and the city, and then turn the site into an open-air museum

Mosaics found during an illegal excavation in the southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş have led to the unearthing of an ancient city called Germenicia, which remained underground for 1,500 years. The mosaics, found under a house in the Dulkadiroğulları neighborhood, are expected to shed light on the history of the city.

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Archaeologists to probe Sherwood Forest's 'Thing'

A team of experts hope to shed new light on one of Nottinghamshire's most mysterious ancient monuments.

A 'Thing', or open-air meeting place where Vikings gathered to discuss the law, was discovered in the Birklands, Sherwood Forest, five years ago.

In January 2011 experts plan to survey the hill and see if they can detect signs of buried archaeology and the extent of the site.

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German Archeologists Uncover Celtic Treasure

Archeologists in Germany have discovered a 2,600-year-old Celtic tomb containing ornate jewellery of gold and amber. They say the grave is unusually well preserved and should provide important insights into early Celtic culture.

German archeologists have unearthed a 2,600-year-old Celtic tomb containing a treasure of jewellery made of gold, amber and bronze.

The subterranean chamber measuring four by five meters was uncovered near the prehistoric Heuneburg hill fort near the town of Herbertingen in south-western Germany. Its contents including the oak floor of the room are unusually well preserved. The find is a "milestone for the reconstruction of the social history of the Celts," archeologist Dirk Krausse, the director of the dig, said on Tuesday.

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Celtic noble's tomb discovery is a 'milestone of archaeology'

Stuttgart - Scientists have discovered a 2,600 year-old aristocratic burial, likely of a Celtic noblewoman, at the hill fort site of Heuneburg in southern Germany.

The discovery has been described as a “milestone” in the study of Celtic culture.
The dig leader and chief of the Baden-Württemberg State archaeology, Dirk Krausse, referred to the discovery as a “milestone of archaeology,” according to The Local.

One reason for the claim is likely the manner of excavation, which is new. In the past, such burial chambers have been dug up piece by piece locally, but now the team lifted the entire burial chamber, measuring four by five square metres (12 by 15 square feet) as one block of earth and placed it on a special truck to be transported to the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments in Stuttgart.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Neanderthals may have feasted on meat and two veg diet

Scientists have upgraded their opinion of Neanderthal cuisine after spotting traces of cooked food on the fossilised teeth of our long-extinct cousins.

The researchers found remnants of date palms, seeds and legumes – which include peas and beans – on the teeth of three Neanderthals uncovered in caves in Iraq and Belgium.

Among the scraps of food embedded in the plaque on the Neanderthals' teeth were particles of starch from barley and water lilies that showed tell-tale signs of having been cooked.

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Neanderthals ate their greens

It just goes to show what can happen if you don't brush your teeth: some anthropologist can tip up thousands of years later and start making disparaging remarks about your diet.

A study of Neanderthal teeth from Iraq and Belgium has indicated that they didn't, as previously believed, have a diet consisting almost entirely of meat.

Scientists from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington have found specks of fossilised vegetable matter - some of it cooked - between the teeth, indicating that they were actually pretty good about getting their five a day.

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The earliest evidence of modern man?

Israeli archaeologists claim that they may have found the earliest evidence yet for the existence of modern man.

A Tel Aviv University team excavating a cave in Rosh Ha'ain in central Israel say they have found teeth that are approximately 400,000 years old. The earliest Homo sapiens remains found until now are half that old.

Archaeologist Avi Gopher said further research is needed to solidify the claim. If it does, he says, "that means that we have to rethink the basic reconstructions we have for human evolution."

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Homo sapiens lived in Eretz Yisrael 400,000 years ago

Long before the land was called Israel and the residents Jews, Homo sapiens lived here twice as long ago as was previously believed, the researchers wrote in the latest (December) edition of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

The cave was uncovered in 2000 by Prof. Avi Gopher and Dr. Ran Barkai of TAU’s Institute of Archeology. Later, Prof. Israel Hershkowitz of the Department of Anatomy and Anthropology at TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine and an international team of scientists performed a morphological analysis on the teeth found in the cave.

The examination included CT scans and X-rays indicating the size and shape of the teeth are very similar to those of modern man. The teeth found in the cave are also very similar to evidence of modern man dated to around 100,000 years ago that had previously been discovered in the Skhul Cave on Mount Carmel and the Qafzeh Cave in the Lower Galilee near Nazareth.

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The Study of Human Remains: What does it really tell us? Part 1

The study of human remains can tell us a great deal about a society; status, wealth, religion and others.

When an archaeologist studies one set of human remains, he is seeking specific information about that one person. For what purpose is he looking for this individual’s information? The likely reason why he is looking for that information is to add to the body of knowledge about the society from which the individual has come.

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Did the Scots visit Iceland? New research reveals island inhabited 70 years before Vikings thought to have arrived

It is now thirty years since clerics, who live on the island [Thule] from the first of February to the first of August, told me that not only at the summer solstice, but in the days round about it, the sun setting in the evening hides itself as though behind a small hill in such a way that there was no darkness in that very small space of time... – Dicuil, an Irish monk, writing in AD 825, translation by J.J. Tierney.

New archaeological discoveries show that Iceland was inhabited around AD 800 – nearly 70 years before the traditional dating of its Viking settlement.

One possibility is that these early inhabitants may have been related to Irish monastic communities found throughout the Scottish islands at that time, and described in Viking-Age and medieval texts.

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Swedish scientists study ice man bacteria samples

A team of scientists are currently examining specimens of stomach bacteria from Ötzi the Iceman, who lived about 5,300 years ago, at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute (KI).

Ötzi was discovered by two Germans tourists in September 1991 in the Ötztal Alps, near Hauslabjoch in Italy close to the Austria border.

His body is usually kept frozen, but he has been thawed recently to allow experts to examine him, among them Swedish infectious disease control professor Lars Engstrand at KI.

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Ancient Bone's DNA Suggests New Human Ancestors

DNA taken from a pinkie bone at least 30,000 years old is hinting at the existence of a previously unknown population of ancient humans. It's just the latest example of how modern genetic techniques are transforming the world of anthropology.

The pinkie bone in question was unearthed in 2008 from what's called the Denisova Cave.

"The Denisova Cave is in southern Siberia in the Altai Mountains in central Asia," says David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "This bone is the bone of a 6- to 7-year-old girl."

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Weder Neandertaler noch moderner Mensch

Das Genom eines ausgestorbenen Urmenschen liefert neue Erkenntnisse über die Ursprünge des modernen Menschen

Ein internationales Forscherteam unter der Leitung von Svante Pääbo vom Max-Planck-Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie in Leipzig hat das Kerngenom eines mindestens 30.000 Jahre alten Fingerknochens sequenziert. Dieser stammt von einem ausgestorbenen Urmenschen, dessen Überreste von Archäologen der Russischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 2008 in der Denisova-Höhle im südlichen Sibirien ausgegraben wurden. Demnach war der Mensch aus Denisova weder Neandertaler noch moderner Mensch, sondern eine neue Homininenform.

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Greek archaeological finds among 10 most important in 2010

The latest archaeological findings unearthed in Greece over the past year are in the top 10 discoveries of 2010 list, published in the latest issue of Archaeology Magazine, a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America.

The findings in question are Palaeolithic tools discovered in Plakias (Rethymno prefecture) on the large south Aegean island of Crete.

According to the magazine, “the discovery of stone tools at two sites on the island of Crete that are between 130,000 and 700,000 years old was announced by a research team led by Thomas Strasser of Providence College and Eleni Panagopoulou of the Greek ministry of culture. The tools resemble those made by Homo heidelbergensis and Homo erectus, showing that one of these early human ancestors boated across at least 40 miles of open sea to reach the island, the earliest indirect evidence of seafaring.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Archaeological finds discovered during electric rail line's maintenance

Αrchaeological finds were located during maintenance works on the electric train (ISAP) line tracks in the eponymous Thission district of central Athens, which lies on the boundary of the Acropolis archaeological site and near the ancient Agora and Forum.

An announcement on Friday informed passengers that the Monastiraki-Thission section of the line will open after the conclusion of the Archaeological Service's excavations.

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Crowds expected to gather to witness magical winter solstice light ceremony at Newgrange

Despite the weather, it’s expected that like last year, crowds will gather to witness the winter solstice light ceremony on December 21. Last year the World Heritage site in Newgrange drew a large audience.

The 5,000-year-old Stone Age tomb is older than the pyramids, and over 32,000 people worldwide applied to witness last year’s magnificent winter solstice.

The tomb’s chamber lights up when the sun rises on a winter solstice morning. It is the only time of the year when the tomb lights up with natural sunlight.

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Archaeology studies begin at proposed wind farm site near Oldbury

ARCHAEOLOGY studies at the potential site of a new wind farm have started.

Wind Prospect Developments Ltd, the company behind plans to build four 127-metre high wind turbines on land near Oldbury, has started work on the proposed site.

The archaeology studies at Stoneyard Lane, off Hill Lane, are to establish whether the site has any archaeological potential.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nine investigated over Pompeii collapses

Nine people are under investigation for two collapses in the famous ancient Roman city of Pompeii that shocked the culture world last month, judicial sources said on Thursday.

An ancient training centre for gladiators collapsed into rubble in Pompeii on November 6 and a wall protecting a home known as the House of the Moralist fell down on November 30, causing widespread international outrage.

Among the people under investigation by prosecutors in nearby Torre Annunziata are the former director of the site and the current head of excavations, ANSA news agency reported. The two declined to comment.

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Mucking Anglo-Saxon cemeteries archive released

The ADS, English Heritage, the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust are pleased to announce by the release of The Mucking Anglo-Saxon cemeteries project archive by Sue Hirst and Dido Clark.

The Anglo-Saxon cemeteries at Mucking, Essex, represent the burials of over 800 individuals from the 5th to early 7th centuries AD. The mixed rite Cemetery II is one of the largest and most complete Anglo-Saxon cemeteries yet excavated (282 inhumations, 463 cremation burials), while the partly destroyed Cemetery I included further significant inhumations.

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Spain rethinks reopening of prehistoric art 'Sistine Chapel'

Spain's Altamira cave, dubbed the "Sistine Chapel" of Paleolithic art because of the paintings of animals on its ceiling, will no longer reopen to the public as planned at the end of the year.

The cave located some 30 kilometres (19 miles) west of the northern city of Santander has been closed since 2002 because the breath and body heat from visitors threatened the fragile natural pigments used in the cave art.

But in June the foundation which manages the the cave announced it would reopen the site to the public at the end of 2010 once a panel of experts determined how many people could safely be allowed to visit.

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Woodhenge: Is this one of the greatest discoveries of archaeology...or a simple farmer's fence?

The discovery of a wooden version of Stonehenge – a few hundred yards from the famous monument – was hailed as one of the most important archaeological finds for decades.

But now experts are at loggerheads after claims that what was thought to be a Neolithic temple was a rather more humble affair – in fact the remains of a wooden fence.

One leading expert on Stonehenge criticised the announcement of the ‘remarkable’ find in July as ‘hasty’ and warned it could become a ‘PR embarrassment’.

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Lucky duck! Spanish Bronze Age man suffered broken bone in neck – and lived

Archaeologists exploring a Bronze Age fortress at La Motilla del Azuer, in Spain, have come across a very lucky man.

One of the skeletons is of a man that lived more than 3,400 years ago and suffered a broken hyoid bone, likely caused by a blow to his neck.

The hyoid bone is a horseshoe shaped object located at the root of the tongue. Amazingly enough the injury healed and the man lived to be in his 40’s. He was five and a half feet and had a “moderate” build.

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Look what we’ve found during the Civil War dig

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are busy unearthing Worcester’s Civil War past in the heart of the city.

A dig is taking place in Lowesmoor, just metres away from the street King Charles II used to escape the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

Staff from Worcestershire County Council’s historic environment and archaeology service, working with Carillion Richardson as they lay the foundations for the area’s £75 million retail redevelopment, started digging at the end of November.

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Accident sur un site archéologique du Vieux-Montréal

Un homme de 55 ans qui travaillait sur un site archéologique du musée Pointe-à-Callière, dans le Vieux-Montréal, a été blessé mercredi matin dans un accident de travail.

L'incident est survenu vers 9h50 dans un stationnement situé à l'angle des rues d'Youville et McGill. L'homme travaillait seul au fond d'un trou de quelques mètres de profondeur lorsqu'une paroi de la tranchée s'est effondrée sur lui.

À l'arrivée des secours, les jambes du travailleur étaient coincées sous un tas de terre et de débris. Les pompiers taupes et araignées ont été dépêchés sur les lieux pour effectuer un sauvetage en espace clos.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Medieval Mystery From The UK

Archaeologists working through the Victorian spoil heaps at Creswell Crags in 2006 uncovered a stone with a familiar carved geometric pattern, it opened yet another aspect of the ever-developing story of the important prehistoric caves.

Creswell Crags located in Worsop, UK, represents one site among a significant cluster of cave sites inhabited during the last Ice Age in Britain. Archaeological and environmental evidence excavated from the caves show how the area witnessed dramatic changes in climate at the edge of the northern ice sheets and was populated by Ice Age animals such as hyenas, mammoths, woolly rhinoceros, and migrating herds of reindeer, horse and bison.

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New Insights Into Items From The Mary Rose

Two major areas will provide new insights into items from Henry VIII’s Tudor warship by facing them against the interior of the ship itself at thenew £16.3 million Mary Rose Museum.

Speaking in a video update on the progress of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard development, which is expected to be completed in 2012, Exhibition Co-Ordinator Nick Butterley revealed a series of tiny models being laid into cases in a separate storage area at the naval attraction.

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English Sovereign's Head Identified After More Than Four Centuries

The skeletons of kings and queens lying in mass graves in the Royal Basilica of Saint-Denis in Paris could finally have the solemn funeral ceremonies they deserve, say experts in the Christmas issue published in the British Medical Journal.

Many of the graves in the Royal Basilica were destroyed by revolutionaries in 1793 and very few remains of the mummified bodies have been preserved and identified.

Dr Philippe Charlier led the scientific breakthrough that has identified the head of the French King, Henri IV.

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Neanderthals Fashioned Earliest Tool Made From Human Bone

The earliest known tool made from human bone has been discovered — and it was apparently crafted by Neanderthals, scientists find.

The scientists note that as of yet, they have no way to prove or disprove whether the Neanderthals who made the tool did so intentionally — for instance, for rituals or after cannibalization.

Until now, the first evidence that human bones were used either symbolically or as tools were 30,000-to 34,000-year-old perforated human teeth found at excavations in southwest France. These were apparently used as ornaments.

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Jólabókaflóðið, Part I: Witchcraft and Magic in the Nordic Middle Ages

I have rather a backlog of recent books to announce. Many thanks to everybody who’s sent notices of publications to me (and, in a couple of cases, even actual books!), and apologies for the tardiness.

In the run up to Christmas I shall try to tell you about as many of these new books as possible–who knows, it might not be too late to buy one for a family member or co-worker! (If you click on the links here and then subsequently purchase the volume at Amazon, a tiny percentage is returned to me, which I put towards the costs of hosting ONN.)

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Archaeology: 8000 year-old Sun temple found in Bulgaria

The oldest temple of the Sun has been discovered in northeast Bulgaria, near the city of Varna, aged at more then 8000 years, the Bulgarian National Television reported on December 15 2010.

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Gothic Ivories Project website launched

A new medieval website was launched today which aims at including all readily available information on every surviving Gothic ivory, accompanied by at least one image. The Gothic Ivories Project, hosted by The Courtauld Institute of Art, is bringing together the resources of dozens of museums and institutions from Europe and North America.

This online resource allows users to search for ivory objects made in Europe dating from c. 1200-c. 1530, offering information on iconography, provenance, origin, post-medieval repairs and replacements, modern forgeries, and many other aspects. Ultimately, it will be possible to view in one place images and detailed information on over 4,000 items scattered in collections around the world.

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Part of Versailles Palace to become luxury hotel

Preparations are underway for a Belgian company to turn part of the Chateau de Versailles into a luxury hotel. But the handing over of a chunk of treasured public heritage to a private operator is an unusual occurrence in France.

It’s a sumptuous historical monument, a wildly popular tourist attraction, and a symbol of French monarchy and decadence.

Now the Palace of Versailles is getting ready to add to its list of functions: preparations are underway for a Belgian company to turn The Hotel du Grand Controle, traditionally home to the palace’s treasurers, into a luxury hotel.

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UK exhibits Newark, Sedgeford torcs

The British Museum has exhibited the Newark Torc alongside the museum's own Sedgeford Torc, both of which date back to the pre-Roman Iron Age.

Composed of twisted gold wire strands attached to hollow terminals, both torcs are adorned with 'La Tene' decorations, Past Horizons reported.

Visitors can see the two relics at the museum's Britain and Europe (800BCE -43CE) gallery in an exhibition which clearly depicts the complex craftsmanship behind their construction.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10 Ancient Burial Places Discovered in Stavropol Territory

The burial grounds recently found in Stavropol Territory date back to different periods, the earliest of them 5th millennium B.C.

The burial places were found out in the course of underground laying works.

Archeologists dug out ceramic vessels, labour tools made of silicon, a bronze knife, and glass beads in the ancient mounds.

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Why Frome is still cashing in on the Romans

Last April, a man who hated history at school unearthed the largest coin hoard ever found in Britain. But why had it been buried in a field in Somerset?

Dave Crisp found treasure on a soggy ridge outside the Somerset town of Frome last April, and helped rewrite history. On a bitter winter afternoon, as he walks the frosty field again, he recalls one of the most heart-stoppingly exciting moments of his life. The 63-year-old ex-army man had discovered a scattering of Roman silver coins in the field. He came back a few days later with his detector, bought secondhand on eBay, to round up any remaining broken pieces. The signals were faint and confusing.

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Turkish officials bury ancient city of Allianoi under sand

The ancient city of Allianoi, near Turkey’s Aegean coast, has been completely covered with sand in preparation for building a dam in the area, despite protests from activists and archaeologists.

Though officials say covering the Roman-era spa settlement with sand is the only way to protect the ruins while they are submerged under the waters of the new dam, experts disagree with that assessment.

“The method is obsolete and it will destroy, rather than protect, the ancient site,” İlker Ertuğrul, a member of the Istanbul Chamber of Architects, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Monday.

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Medieval scholar to take one-year trip to explore Iceland’s sagas

A Cambridge scholar is starting a one-year journey across Iceland, to examine the history and significance of Icelandic sagas. Dr Emily Lethbridge, who just completed her post-doctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, will be driving around the small nation using an old ambulance as she explores the many places associated with Íslendingasögur (‘sagas of Icelanders’).

The sagas focus on Iceland and Icelandic society in the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries, and describe both the everyday life of the first generations of island-settlers, and the conflicts that arose between individuals and families. Along the way, they present a great number of highly individual and memorable characters.

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Canterbury council keeps museums open after re-think

Three visitor attractions in Kent have been saved from closure following a re-think by the city council.

The Roman Museum, Westgate Tower and Herne Bay Museum were among those at risk as Canterbury City Council looked at ways of saving £3m over two years.

The proposals sparked a public campaign to keep them open, with more than 2,000 people signing an online petition.

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Gladiator Stabbed, Tossed as Trash?

The bones of a Roman man, who was stabbed to death and left to rot with the rubbish, have revealed gruesome details of what appears to be a gladiator combat, according to British researchers who have examined the skeletal remains.

Unearthed in January only 12 inches under the grass the Yorkshire Museum’s gardens, in York, England, the bones show that the man, most likely a disgraced gladiator, met a violent and bloody death.

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Crumbling Pompeii sparks outrage

One of Italy’s most important archaeological sites is disintegrating, sparking concern that lack of government attention and money could be letting the country's cultural heritage fall into ruin. Tara Cleary reports.

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Pompeii skeletons reveal secrets of Roman family life

The remains of the Roman town of Pompeii destroyed by a volcanic eruption in AD79 continue to provide intriguing and unexpected insights into Roman life - from diet and health care to the gap between rich and poor.

The basement storeroom under a large agricultural depot in the little suburb of Oplontis was full of pomegranates. To many of the Pompeiians trying to find shelter from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, it must have seemed strong and safe.

About 50 people took cover there. We know they did because archaeologists in the 1980s found their skeletons, well preserved.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Archaeologist Studies Ancient Food for Thought

Natalie Munro is a zooarchaeologist, that is, an archaeologist who studies the remains of animals collected by humans in the archaeological record. Her data includes animal skeletal remains (bones and teeth) that most often represent the garbage of past human meals. She uses ecological models to study the interactions between humans and animals in the past. In particular she investigates human hunting strategies, human impacts on past animal populations and animals in human burial contexts. The core of her research program investigates humanity’s transition to agriculture (ca. 12,000-8,000 years ago). In particular, she seeks to understand the conditions that existed at the very beginning of the transition to agriculture to understand the triggers for this important process. Her most important recent research projects include: documenting changes in human dietary breadth across the transition to agriculture as a measure of human population size, resource stress and site-use intensity and investigating human ritual practice at a burial cave in Israel.

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Murder Beneath the Yorkshire Museum ma y Reveal Location of Eboracum's Amphitheatre

The skeleton of a huge Roman who was stabbed to death could be a clue in the search for York’s Roman amphitheatre. Experts have revealed the skeleton found beneath the Yorkshire Museum during its refurbishment is that of a powerful, athletic male who was stabbed at least six times in a fatal attack, including a powerful sword blow to the back of the head.

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Roman Museum Saved In Canterbury, Kent, UK

The fight to save the Roman Museum has been won thanks to public support and better marketing.

Canterbury council sparked outrage last year when it said three of the city’s museums, including the Roman Museum in Butchery Lane, would have to close as part of a round of budget cuts.

But the museum is now safe from closure thanks to better promotion and new ideas from supporters in the district.

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Pompeii faces ruin for a second time

It was destroyed 2,000 years ago, but now Italy's ancient Roman city of Pompeii is facing ruin once again.

Not by a volcanic eruption like the one that buried the city in 79 AD, but by years of "neglect" and "mediocre" management by the Italian government, according to heritage groups and archaeologists.

The UNESCO World Heritage site came under scrutiny in early November, when one of its archaeological treasures, the "House of the Gladiators," crumbled.

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The Antikythera Mechanism

This is what I want for Christmas!

Two years ago, a paper was published in Nature describing the function of the oldest known scientific computer, a device built in Greece around 100 BCE. Recovered in 1901 from a shipwreck near the island of Antikythera, this mechanism had been lost and unknown for 2000 years. It took one century for scientists to understand its purpose: it is an astronomical clock that determines the positions of celestial bodies with extraordinary precision. In 2010, a fully-functional replica was constructed out of Lego.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Archaeologists warn of climate threat to past treasures

Mummies decaying in Siberia, pyramids vanishing under the sand in Sudan, Maya temples collapsing: climate change risks destroying countless treasures from our shared past, archaeologists warn.

Melting ice can unlock ancient secrets from the ground, as with the discovery in 1991 of "Oetzi", a 5,300-year-old warrior whose body had been preserved through the millennia inside an Alpine glacier.

But as ice caps melt, deserts spread, ocean levels rise and hurricanes intensify -- all forecast effects of man-made global warming -- Henri-Paul Francfort of the CNRS research institute fears a heavy toll on world heritage.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Was Medieval England more Merrie than thought?

Maybe being a serf or a villein in the Middle Ages was not such a grim existence as it seems.

Medieval England was not only far more prosperous than previously believed, it also actually boasted an average income that would be more than double the average per capita income of the world's poorest nations today, according to new research.

Living standards in medieval England were far above the "bare bones subsistence" experience of people in many of today's poor countries, a study says.

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Giant fossil bird found on 'hobbit' island of Flores

A giant marabou stork has been discovered on an island once home to human-like 'hobbits'.

Fossils of the bird were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores, a place previously famed for the discovery of Homo floresiensis, a small hominin species closely related to modern humans.

The stork may have been capable of hunting and eating juvenile members of this hominin species, say researchers who made the discovery, though there is no direct evidence the birds did so.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Archaeologists to explore new findings near Abbey

ARCHaEOLOGISTS will use electric currents to explore findings near Whitby Abbey.

Contractors for Yorkshire Water have had to stop work immediately after it came to light they were working in an area known as the ‘Donkey Field’ without permission from English Heritage.

Stone which is potentially medieval, pottery and a clay pipe have been unearthed during the works to connect water supply to a holiday cottage.

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Worth their weight in gold: Portable Antiquities Scheme launches the Treasure Annual Report

The Portable Antiquities Scheme has unearthed enough finds to make Time Team seethe with jealousy since being set up in 1997.

Just in case proof were needed, at one end of a table at the British Museum sits a box containing some of the 52,503 coins found in the Somerset town of Frome in April. Comprising the largest Roman coin hoard ever found in a single container in Britain, their nicks, mottled depictions of Emperors and silver edges are illuminated under an arc of spotlights.

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Medieval England Twice as Well Off as Today’s Poorest Nations

New research led by economists at the University of Warwick reveals that medieval England was not only far more prosperous than previously believed, it also actually boasted an average income that would be more than double the average per capita income of the world's poorest nations today.

In a paper entitled British Economic Growth 1270-1870 published by the University of Warwick's Centre on Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) the researchers find that living standards in medieval England were far above the "bare bones subsistence" experience of people in many of today's poor countries.

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Neanderthals: how needles and skins gave us the edge on our kissing cousins

The Neanderthal genome tells us we were very similar: in fact we interbred. But intellect and invention meant that we lived while they perished, says Robin McKie

On the ground floor of the Natural History Museum in London, arrays of Formica-covered cabinets stretch from floor to ceiling and from one end of the great building to the other. Some of nature's finest glories are stored here: pygmy hippo bones from Sicily, mammoth tusks from Siberia and skulls of giant sloths from South America.

Many treasures compete for attention, but there is one sample, kept in a small plywood box, that deserves especial interest: the Swanscombe skull. Found near Gravesend last century, it is made up of three pieces of the brain case of a 400,000-year-old female and is one of only half-a-dozen bits of skeleton that can be traced to men and women who lived in Britain before the end of the last ice age. Human remains do not get more precious than this.

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Important archaeological find preserved in Scotland thanks to slow motion tree felling

A pre-historic archaeological find in the Scottish Highlands has been secured for future investigation – thanks to some inventive ‘slow-mo’ tree felling.

The find – a late prehistoric galleried dun – was discovered at a site in Strath Glass, near Cannich, during checks carried out by Forestry Commission Scotland staff of a forest block of mature Douglas fir that was due to be felled.

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Burnham hoard uncovered

Earlier this year a rare Bronze Age founders hoard, buried within a pot in an Essex field, was excavated by archaeologists after being discovered by metal detectorists. The excavation was recorded by 360Production in the following video.

Watch the video...

Global Sea-Level Rise at the End of the Last Ice Age Interrupted by Rapid 'Jumps'

Southampton researchers have estimated that sea-level rose by an average of about 1 metre per century at the end of the last Ice Age, interrupted by rapid 'jumps' during which it rose by up to 2.5 metres per century. The findings, published in Global and Planetary Change, will help unravel the responses of ocean circulation and climate to large inputs of ice-sheet meltwater to the world ocean.

Global sea level rose by a total of more than 120 metres as the vast ice sheets of the last Ice Age melted back. This melt-back lasted from about 19,000 to about 6,000 years ago, meaning that the average rate of sea-level rise was roughly 1 metre per century.

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Colonia3D jetzt im RGM zu sehen

Nach dem erfolgreichen Testlauf und sehr guter Publikumsresonanz wird Colonia3D nun Bestandteil der Dauerausstellung des Römisch Germanischen Museum (RGM) in Köln und wurde heute von der Geschäftsführerin der RheinEnergieStiftung Jugend/Beruf, Wissenschaft und dem Präsidenten der Fachhochschule Köln dem Museum übergeben.

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Friday, December 03, 2010

New Rochester Office for Wessex Archaeology as growth continues

The Wessex Archaeology Maidstone office has moved to Rochester. The doubling of staff numbers meant that larger, premises were needed and the new Bridgewood House office is on the outskirts of Rochester.

This new office is very much a statement of our commitment to the area. It will allow us to provide even better archaeology and heritage services to our clients and the community.

The expertise throughout Wessex Archaeology already allows us to offer a full range of services, and we will be increasing our capacity and capabilities at Rochester.

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Farmers slowed down by hunter-gatherers: Our ancestors' fight for space

Agricultural – or Neolithic – economics replaced the Mesolithic social model of hunter-gathering in the Near East about 10,000 years ago. One of the most important socioeconomic changes in human history, this socioeconomic shift, known as the Neolithic transition, spread gradually across Europe until it slowed down when more northern latitudes were reached.

Research published today, Friday, 3 December 2010, in New Journal of Physics (co-owned by the Institute of Physics and the German Physical Society), details a physical model, which can potentially explain how the spreading of Neolithic farmers was slowed down by the population density of hunter-gatherers.

The researchers from Girona, in Catalonia, Spain, use a reaction-diffusion model, which explains the relation between population growth and available space, taking into account the directional space dependency of the established Mesolithic population density.

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English Heritage accused of neglecting Halesowen Abbey

English Heritage has been accused of neglecting one of the West Midlands' oldest ruins.

The remnants of Halesowen Abbey, which was founded in the 13th century, stand within Manor Abbey Farm, off the A456 Manor Way.

The Halesowen Abbey Trust claims the historic site could be under threat if the Government watchdog fails to supervise the creation of six small barn conversions. It claimed English Heritage had failed to supervise previous unauthorised work on the site.

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First bullets ever fired in battle found in Yorkshire

Evidence of the first use of firearms on a British battlefield nearly 550 years ago has been uncovered.

Bronze barrel fragments and very early lead shot were unearthed by a metal detectorist at the site of the 1461 battle of Towton in Yorkshire.

The clash between Lancastrian king Henry VI and England’s first Yorkist king, Edward IV, during the Wars of the Roses, has gone down in history as one of the bloodiest ever fought.

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Roman Circus project in Colchester under threat

The people behind the Colchester’s Roman circus are having to work on an alternative plan to be able to move forward with the heritage centre envisioned for the site. The site was part of the British Army’s garrisons, which is based in Colchester.

Colchester Archaeological Trust the driving force behind the project has been seeking investors to help it buy the Sergeants mess which is the main building currently occupying the site. The plan is to convert into a tourist attraction and educational base for visitors to the ancient chariot-racing arena.

The plans for the site have are to create a three-dimensional display in the garden of the Sergeants' Mess using special viewing screens to help recreate what the gates would have looked like.

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ASU researcher uses NASA satellite to explore archaeological site

Remote sensing has been integral to the field of archaeology for many years, but Arizona State University archaeologist Stephen H. Savage is literally taking the use of that technology to new heights. His brand of remote sensing involves a hyperspectral instrument called Hyperion aboard NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite.

Savage’s focus is Khirbat en-Nahas, a major copper mining and smelting site of the ancient world. Located in an inhospitable valley in Jordan, the area has yielded to Savage and his team evidence of sophisticated economic and political activity dating back about 3,000 years.

In a multi-page feature, NASA News notes that – despite never having set foot on the ground at Khirbat en-Nahas – Savage has gathered information from the site beyond other archaeologists’ ken, thanks to his innovative use of Hyperion’s immense spectroscopic abilities.

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Archaeological amazements from Bulgaria: 5 thousands year old burials (Chirpan Project)

Bulgaria is one of the archaeologically richest countries in the world. Archaeology is a highly prestige profession there with huge media interest in everything what has been discovered. Recently, thanks especially to young generations archaeologists, more information has begun to be published online. An excellent example is 2009-2010 Project "Archaeologiacal examination of a Thracian-Roman Dynasty Centre in the region of the Chirpan Eminences" directed by Dr Milena Tonkova with team. It has a special website (see photogallery).

Among the new discoveries within this project is the Early Bronze Tumulus Malkata Momina Mogila near Chirpan in South Bulgaria, Bratya Daskalovi municipality. Sadly, but significantly for science, several children’s burials were unearthed in this Tumulus (single and a group burial) together with two adolescents, two adults and a baby.

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Pompeii wall collapse damage inspected by Unesco team

After a series of wall collapses at Italy's ancient city of Pompeii, a team from UN cultural organisation Unesco has arrived to examine the site.

One wall gave way on Tuesday and two more the next day, three weeks after the House of Gladiators crumbled.

Officials blamed Wednesday's wall collapses on heavy rain but Unesco says concerns have been raised about Pompeii's state of preservation.

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Stonehenge Builders Said to Use Giant Wicker Baskets to Roll Massive Stones

Rolling a 4-ton stone some 200 miles from a Welsh quarry to the site that the world now knows as Stonehenge would have been a daunting enough challenge for even the hardiest of Neolithic-era laborers. There have been any number of explanations offered - the most recent coming last week when a University of Exeter archeology student suggested that wooden ball bearings balls placed in grooved wooden tracks would have facilitated the movement of the massive stone slabs.

Now add another theory to the list. Engineer Garry Lavin, who also happens to be a former BBC presenter, is making the case that giant wicker baskets were deployed by the locals to roll the boulders all that way

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Coca leaves first chewed 8,000 years ago, says research

Peruvian foraging societies were already chewing coca leaves 8,000 years ago, archaeological evidence has shown.

Ruins beneath house floors in the northwestern Peru showed evidence of chewed coca and calcium-rich rocks.

Such rocks would have been burned to create lime, chewed with coca to release more of its active chemicals.

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

More walls collapse at Italy's ancient city of Pompeii

Three walls have collapsed at the tourist spot in a month

Officials have blamed the collapse on heavy rain.

The Italian opposition accuses the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of letting the 2,000-year-old site fall into neglect.

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Pictures: Medieval Cave Tunnels Revealed as Never Before

Carved from sandstone, the dungeon (foreground) beneath England's Nottingham Castle (top)—scanned in 3-D via lasers—is superimposed on an image of the aboveground buildings.

The pictures were created as part of the ongoing Nottingham Caves Survey, which began in March and intends to use the scans to help safeguard the man-made caves from "development, erosion, and ignorance," survey leader David Walker said. "We can compare future scans with current scans to see whether change has taken place."

For centuries, Nottingham residents have taken advantage of the stable yet pliable sandstone beneath the city, carving everything from holding pens to World War II air raid shelters to beer cellars (some still in use).

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How You Can Download Norwich's Past To Your Mobile Phone

The latest technology and Norwich’s rich past are being combined in special interactive signs which will bring the city’s history vividly to life.

The totems show information and pictures, but the Bluetooth technology means passers-by can download more detailed information and images onto their mobile phones free of charge. By early next year all 12 will offer people the chance to download even more content – even virtual reality animations so you can ‘see’ around the whole building.

Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART) has installed the interactive totems as part of SHAPING 24 – a cultural tourism project raising the profile of heritage in Norwich and the Belgian city of Ghent with some of the money coming from the European Regional Development Fund.

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Site of Britain's first ever gunbattle revealed

Archaeologists believe they have found evidence of the first use of firearms on a British battlefield after fragments of shattered guns were unearthed on a site that saw one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on English soil.

The bronze barrel fragments and a very early lead shot were discovered by a metal detectorist working closely with a team that has been trying to unlock the secrets of the 1461 battle of Towton, in Yorkshire, northern England.

The battle, fought over the throne between Lancastrian King Henry VI and England's first Yorkist king, Edward IV during the War of the Roses, has gone down in history as the bloodiest ever fought on the island.

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IUP website takes archaeology class into a virtual dig

Indiana University of Pennsylvania has carved out a virtual dig for its archaeology students in Second Life.

Second Life is the popular online destination for people who want to socialize, play games or buy and sell stuff in an alternative world. But virtual worlds are also an educational tool whose potential is beginning to be tapped by projects such as IUP's Archaeology Island in Second Life.

Archaeology Island is the creation of Beverly Chiarulli, associate professor and director of IUP Archaelogical Services, and Scott Moore, associate professor of history.

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Space Science and the 16th Century

A group of Suffolk tomb-monuments dating to the 16th century is being analysed with tools developed in space science, to unlock the past and offer new insights into the Tudor Reformation.

Led by the University of Leicester, this innovative heritage science project draws together space scientists, art-historians, archaeologists and museologists from Leicester, Oxford, Yale, and English Heritage.

Principal Investigator Dr Phillip Lindley, from the University of Leicester Department of History of Art and Film, was quoted as saying: “Key to this programme is the innovative employment of techniques borrowed from space science, principally three-dimensional scanning and non-destructive materials analysis, to solve a complex set of historical, archaeological and art-historical problems.”

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Unveiling Rock Art Images: A Pilot Project Employing a Geophysical Technique to Detect Magnetic Signatures

The use of geophysical techniques in archaeology has become widespread, however these methods have rarely been applied to rock art research. There is a need to record and document rock art images as they face deterioration from environmental, industrial and human impacts. This project trials the use of magnetic susceptibility (MS) meter to non-invasively detect and spatiallly resolve ochre rock art images

Ochre is frequently used in rock art production and previous research in other contexts has shown that it emits a MS signature due to its inherant magnetic characteristics. These ochre images can be hidden behind silica or carbonate crusts or may deteriorate ove time limiting their visibility. The rock art images that lie behind such crusts are likely to be protected from weathering and are amenable to dating using such techniques as uranium mass spectometry (AMS).

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Humankind's earliest, ancient beginnings

Forum speaker outlines documenting earliest human life in presentation on man's humble ancestors

The human race has roots that run deep dating several million years in the past. However, The Forum speaker Ann Gibbons said a different kind of race is being played out.

"The Human Race: The Quest to Find Our Earliest Ancestors," is the presentation Gibbons gave to a near-capacity crowd in Schofield Auditorium Wednesday. The main idea prevalent in her speech was the "race" that paleontologists and paleoanthropologists are in to find the earliest evidence of ancient human life still on Earth.

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Multiple burials at Orkney Neolithic site

Archaeologists have recovered remains from at least eight people after initial excavation at a Neolithic tomb site in Orkney discovered in October.

A narrow, stone-lined passageway leads to five chambers, two of which have been part-excavated so far.

Fragments of skull and hipbone have been unearthed, some carefully placed in gaps in the stones, suggesting the 5,000-year-old site is undisturbed.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

More walls collapse at Italy's ancient city of Pompeii

Two walls have collapsed in Italy's ancient city of Pompeii, the second such incident this week and the third in a month.

Officials have blamed the collapse on heavy rain.

The Italian opposition accuses the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of letting the 2,000-year-old site fall into neglect.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

UK archaeologists are facing a wave of cuts that they say will lead to a loss of skills and take the teaching of the subject "back to the 1950s".

To cut its national budget deficit, the UK government has launched an austerity programme that will see research funding stay static for the next four years (see 'UK scientists celebrate budget reprieve'). But archaeology is expected to be hit particularly hard, because the subject depends on a combination of public institutions run by several different government departments that are all seeing simultaneous budget reductions. "It seems like a perfect storm of factors is coming together," says Mike Heyworth, director of the Council for British Archaeology, an educational non-governmental organization.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Antarctic ice reveals trapped secrets of climate change

Cores drilled from the icecap are going on show at London's Science Museum. The centuries-old information they contain could help scientists predict Earth's future weather

They were found deep below Earth's surface, provide vital information about our climate's history and, for the first time, will be publicly displayed in their full freezing glory. Three pieces of ice core, drilled from the Antarctic icecap, one containing bubbles of air from the year 1410, will this week be installed in a glass-fronted freezer cabinet in the Science Museum in London's new Atmosphere gallery.

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In a far corner of Greenland, hope is fading with the language and sea ice

Climate change, hunting controls and a new consumerism threaten the way of life of the Polar Eskimos of north-west Greenland. In the second of a series of dispatches, Stephen Pax Leonard reports from a community on the brink

The sun is slowly disappearing behind the cliffs towards Siorapaluk now it is gone midnight, leaving whale-shaped Herbert Island awash in crimson. It is mid-August and it is my very first evening in the settlement.

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Britain's Oldest Brain

The oldest surviving human brain in Britain, dating back at least 2000 years to the Iron Age, was unearthed during excavations on the site of the University of York’s campus expansion at Heslington East in 2008.

Archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust, commissioned by the University to carry out the exploratory dig, made the discovery in an area of extensive prehistoric farming landscape of fields, trackways and buildings dating back to at least 300 BC, and they believe the skull, which was found on its own in a muddy pit, may have been a ritual offering.

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A prehistoric star map carved on a Welsh capstone?

A recent excavation programme at a standing stone known as Trefael, near Newport (south-west Wales) has revealed that what originally was a portal dolmen in later times was transformed in a standing stone, probably used as a ritual marker to guide communities through a scared landscape.

This solitary stone has over 75 cupmarks gouged onto its upper surface. Following the complete exposure of the capstone through excavation, it is now considered by several astronomers that the distribution of the cupmarks may represent a section of the night sky that includes the star constellations of Cassiopeia, Orion, Sirius and of course the North Star.

Until recently, little was known about this stone. About 40 years ago archaeologists had speculated that it may have once formed a capstone which would have covered a small burial chamber. In order to prove or disprove this, a geophysical survey was undertaken, the results of which revealed the remains of a kidney-shaped anomaly, possibly the remnants of the cairn that would have once surrounded the chamber, with an entrance to the east.

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Face it, guys: We’re cubs compared with our forebears

I’m afraid there’s more bad news, boys.

A new book on men is out, and — guess what? — it isn’t flattering to our gender. That’s hardly surprising, given that scientists studying human males invariably conclude that we’re oversexed brutes ruled by the primitive parts of our brains.

Now you can add this: We’re also weaklings. All of us. Even the football “warriors” colliding on our TV screens this holiday weekend.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mystery shipwreck found in central Stockholm

The remains of a ship dating from the 1600s have been discovered outside the Grand Hotel in central Stockholm.

The vessel was built with an almost completely unknown technology, delighting archaeologists. The planks of the ship are not nailed down, but sewn together with rope.

The discovery was made by labourers close to the royal palace and in front of Stockholm's Grand Hotel during renovation works to a quay.

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'Ancient farm' found at site of new Forth Crossing

Archaeologists believe they may have unearthed the remains of a Neolithic farm on the site where the new Forth road bridge is to be built.

Trial trenches have been dug in a field on the outskirts of South Queensferry on land reserved for the planned Forth Replacement Crossing (FRC).

Archaeologists plan further excavations to confirm what they believe is an early version of a croft or small farm.

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Archaeologists bridge the gap between old and new

ARCHAEOLOGISTS believe they may have unearthed the remains of a neolithic farm on the site where the new Forth bridge is to be built.
The rare find offers a glimpse of how the land was used 4000 years ago.

Trial trenches have been dug across a field on the outskirts of South Queensferry on land reserved for the new crossing.

Among items dug up so far are bits of neolithic pottery, clearly decorated with patterns, as well as a flint arrowhead.

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Exeter university student sparks new Stonehenge theory

A REVOLUTIONARY new idea on the movement of big monument stones like those at Stonehenge has been put forward by an archaeology student at the University of Exeter.

While an undergraduate, Andrew Young saw a correlation between standing stone circles in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and a concentration of carved stone balls, which may have been used to help transport the big stones by functioning like ball bearings.

Young discovered that many of the late Neolithic stone balls had a diameter within a millimetre of each other, which he felt indicated they would have been used together in some way rather than individually.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

New Sutton Hoo photographs unearthed

It’s like stepping back in time. The Sutton Hoo Visitors Centre has unearthed a host of new, historically important treasures.

Like the original ship burial, this remarkable find has laid unseen and forgotten for a long time. Tucked away in a dusty storeroom were a couple of fairly nondescript cardboard boxes.

Inside these unprepossessing packages were a photographic treasure trove which sheds new light on the discovery and the excavation of the Sutton Hoo ship burial.

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Researchers Kick-Start Ancient DNA

Binghamton University researchers recently revived ancient bacteria trapped for thousands of years in water droplets embedded in salt crystals.

For decades, geologists have looked at these water droplets -- called fluid inclusions -- and wondered whether microbes could be extracted from them. Fluid inclusions have been found inside salt crystals ranging in age from thousands to hundreds of millions years old.

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Underground tunnel discovered by archaeologists at Lincoln Castle

A PREVIOUSLY unknown underground tunnel has been discovered at Lincoln Castle.

Archaeologists uncovered the medieval structure during exploratory work at ground level prior to the installation of a lift that would take people on to the castle walls.

The tunnel, which is linked to a circular room or structure, was uncovered by Lincoln Cathedral archaeologist Dr Philip Dixon and is fast becoming the talk among archaeologists and history buffs.

County archaeologist Beryl Lott described it as an exciting and unique discovery.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

EMAS Easter Study Tour to Denmark

20 - 27 April 2011

The full details of the EMAS (the University of London Extra-Mural Archaeological Society) Easter archaeological study tour to Denmark are now available online.

The EMAS Easter Archaeological Study Tour will be a tour of many of the major Early Medieval and Viking Period sites in Denmark.

The itinerary will include sites such as the Viking Age fort at Fyrkat, the amazing cemetery at Lindholme Høje with its ship-shaped setting in stone, the great mounds at Jelling together with the rune stones and, of course, the Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde and the VikingCenter at Ribe, which has been described as the best Viking museum in the world.

You can find the details here...

Roman ruins found beneath new London hotel

An entire Roman landscape has been discovered a few feet underground at Grade I listed Syon Park, West London.

The find, by Museum of London Archaeology, followed excavations in August 2008 ahead of the construction of the new London Syon Park, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, set to open in early 2011.

Revealed were a section of a road linking London with Silchester; a rural settlement; a tributary of the Thames; and human skeletons.

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New penis for statue in Silvio Berlusconi's Rome office

A marble Roman statue of Mars has had its snapped-off penis rebuilt and reattached on the specific orders of the prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

The reported cost to taxpayers of the restoration – 70,000 euros (£59,500) – prompted criticism at a time when the Italian government has slashed millions of euros from the country's arts and heritage budget and parts of Pompeii are crumbling into dust.

"This is aesthetic surgery carried out on the personal whim of the prime minister," said Manuela Ghizzoni of the opposition Democratic Party

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Arbroath’s Iron-Age past revealed

RECENT archaeological discoveries at Stewart Milne Homes’ King’s Gate development have revealed exciting new evidence of life in Arbroath some 3,000 years ago.

Carried out in preparation for the development’s second phase of homes, archaeologists uncovered the foundations of two large timber roundhouses, the homes of people who farmed the rich Angus landscape during the Iron Age.

The team also recovered saddle querns, lithics and pottery which relate to pre-historic agriculture and the domestic use of the settlement.

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Learning more about Thanet's Viking past

DISCOVER the stories behind Vikings that splashed ashore at Pegwell with two forays into the past this week, on Sunday at Quex and next Monday in Broadstairs.

In the second in our occasional History Beneath Our Feet series, Marilyn Bishop from the Isle of Thanet Archaeology Society (IOTA) talks about what she describes as "one of the most fascinating yet still little-known times in the history of Thanet" – the Dark Ages.

She said: "When the Roman army departed in 410 AD the country, left to the mercy of raiders from across the North Sea, descended into chaos.

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Roman water mill found during Cumbrian dig to go on display

Remains of a Roman water mill which were unearthed during a major dig in Cockermouth this summer will be exhibited next week.

The water mill, which had been buried for nearly 2,000 years and is the first to be uncovered in Cumbria, will be put on public view in the town’s tourist information centre a week today.

In August volunteers from Heritage Lottery Fund, supported Bassenthwaite Reflections, excavated an area alongside the River Derwent at Papcastle – behind the Lakes Homecentre in Cockermouth.

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Exhibit threads Chinese, Roman empires with silk

The silk trade connection between the Chinese and Roman empires went on display in a unique exhibition in Rome that opened on Friday, including hundreds of rare artifacts from the ancient powers.

The exhibit sets a variety of Chinese and Roman archaeological treasures -- jade coffins, silk robes, musical instruments and statues -- side by side in the Palazzo Venezia museum and the old Roman Senate building in the Forum.

"The Two Empires: The Eagle and The Dragon" will run until February 6.

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Sutton Hoo dig holiday 'snaps' on display in Suffolk

Holiday "snaps" of a dig in Suffolk described as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the UK are being displayed for the first time.

The amateur photographs are among the few records of excavations at Sutton Hoo in 1939, the National Trust said.

School mistresses Mercie Lack and Barbara Wagstaff took pictures as archaeologists studied the construction of an Anglo-Saxon burial ship.

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Stonehenge receives millions of pounds

The Heritage Lottery Fund has offered a multimillion-pound grant to be used in restoring Stonehenge, Britain's most famous World Heritage site.

The Historic Building and Monuments Commission for England, known as English Heritage, says the money can cover two-thirds of the expenses for revamping the area around the prehistoric site.

Located in Wiltshire County, the Stonehenge is one of the world's most famous sites, which is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones.

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How did the Norse really colonize Greenland?

Almost everybody have sometime heard or read about what is often referred to as the ferocious Vikings sometimes also called Norsemen or Norse for short. You may also have heard about how the man known as Eric the Red discovered Greenland. But that is not entirely true!

But before telling the story of Eric the Red and Greenland let’s look at what could have driven the people from mostly Scandinavia going on explorations across the world. The medieval written sources and also the rune stones reveal a society which seems to somewhat have encouraged people travelling abroad to do great deeds.

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Stonehenge mystery could rest on ball bearings

Neolithic engineers may have used ball bearings in the construction of Stonehenge, it was claimed today.

The same technique that allows vehicles and machinery to run smoothly today could have been used to transport the monument's massive standing stones more than 4,000 years ago, according to a new theory.

Scientists showed how balls placed in grooved wooden tracks would have allowed the easy movement of stones weighing many tons.

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'Real' Mortimer's Hole uncovered by cave survey

Archaeologists in Nottingham say they have uncovered the true site of one of the country's most infamous caves.

Mortimer's Hole is reputed to be the route by which Edward III's troops entered the city's castle to capture Roger de Mortimer, in 1313.

The young Edward is said to have suspected Mortimer of been involved in the murder of his father, Edward II.

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Roman road junction discovered at Network Rail site

The find reveals a new junction on the historic Fen Causeway road which runs underneath Whitemoor Marshalling Yards, the site where Network Rail are building a brand new railway reycling centre worth £23 million.

The discovery points towards the town’s ancient history as a centre for settlement and trade, and provides evidence of further links to nearby settlements.

North Pennines Archaeology Ltd sent workers to the Whitemoor site to investigate the remains of the rail yard and establish whether the course of the Fen Causeway had been fully removed by the rail yard’s construction.

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Archaeologists record first of Nottingham's caves

A series of pictures.


Vikings brought Amerindian to Iceland 1,000 years ago: study

The first Native American to arrive in Europe may have been a woman brought to Iceland by the Vikings more than 1,000 years ago, a study by Spanish and Icelandic researchers suggests.

The findings boost widely-accepted theories, based on Icelandic medieval texts and a reputed Viking settlement in Newfoundland in Canada, that the Vikings reached the American continent several centuries before Christopher Columbus travelled to the "New World."

Spain's CSIC scientific research institute said genetic analysis of around 80 people from a total of four families in Iceland showed they possess a type of DNA normally only found in Native Americans or East Asians.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Vikings Possibly Carried Native American to Europe

Medieval texts suggest the Vikings arrived in the New World more than 1,000 years ago.

The first Native American to arrive in Europe may have been a woman brought to Iceland by the Vikings more than 1,000 years ago, a study by Spanish and Icelandic researchers suggests.

The findings boost widely-accepted theories, based on Icelandic medieval texts and a reputed Viking settlement in Newfoundland in Canada, that the Vikings reached the American continent several centuries before Christopher Columbus traveled to the "New World."

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mediaeval graffiti casts light on everyday workers at nunnery

Historians in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia announced on Tuesday that they have deciphered mysterious 500-year-old graffiti left in an old abbey attic. The etchings are likely practice drawings made by handwork apprentices.

For years people working in the former St. Katherina Church near Langerwehe had noticed the enigmatic drawings, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the LVR regional authority for monument preservation began closely examining their origins, spokeswoman Sabine Cornelius told The Local.

They were surprised to find that the forty-by-two-metre plaster wall bore the tentative marks of young apprentices in the 15th century.

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Stone age skull found in Orkney

AN ALMOST intact human skull which may date back 5,000 years has been exhumed from a tomb in South Ronaldsay in Orkney.
The burial chamber containing a collection of bones was discovered by boat owner Hamish Mowatt, who caught a glimpse inside the tomb in September, when he was tidying the garden of a bistro owned by his fiancée, Carole Fletcher.

Archeologists believe the layout of the newly uncovered tomb may shed light on the rituals and beliefs of our neolithic ancestors. Dan Lee, project officer with the Orkney Research Centre for Archeology, said: "It's an important site because it gives us the chance to investigate a tomb using modern archaeological techniques.

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Modern man outlived Neanderthals due to 'live slow and grow old' strategy

Modern man developed a better brain than Neanderthals because of our "live slow and grow old" strategy, a study claimed.

Humans became more sophisticated than other species because of our uniquely slow physical development and long childhood, it was claimed.

Other primates have shorter gestation, mature faster in childhood, reproduce at a younger age and have shorter lifespans, even when compared with early humans.

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Why urine has been such a useful commodity

Are we utilising our pee as much as we should be?

Author Sally Magnusson examines the industrial uses of human urine through history.

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Synchrotron reveals human children outpaced Neanderthals by slowing down

Human childhood is considerably longer than chimpanzees, our closest-living ape relatives. A multinational team of specialists, led by researchers from Harvard University, Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) and the ESRF, applied cutting-edge synchrotron X-ray imaging to resolve microscopic growth in 10 young Neanderthal and Homo sapiens fossils. They found that despite some overlap, which is common in closely-related species, significant developmental differences exist. Modern humans are the slowest to the finish line, stretching out their maturation, which may have given them a unique evolutionary advantage.

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Climate change 'a main threat' to St Kilda

Climate change and coastal erosion pose the biggest threats to archaeological sites on the remote archipelago of St Kilda, its owners have said.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) said abandoned buildings, including the feather store on the main island of Hirta, are at risk.

Warming sea temperatures also threaten marine life, such as plankton, on and around its sea cliffs.

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Neandertal Children Developed on the Fast Track

Parents who think their kids are growing up too fast should be glad they're not Neandertals. A new study of the fossilized teeth of eight Neandertal children finds that their permanent teeth grew significantly faster and erupted earlier than those of our own species, Homo sapiens. Taken with recent studies showing subtle differences in the brain maturation and developmental genes in Neandertals and H. sapiens, the new data suggest Neandertal kids may have reached adulthood a few years faster than modern human children do.

Researchers have long known that humans grow up slowly. We take almost twice as long as chimpanzees to reach adulthood. Our distant ancestors were more like chimps; Lucy and other australopithecines, for example, matured quickly and died young. When—and why—did we evolve the ability to prolong childhood?

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Who will pay for Pompeii?

As another disaster strikes the ancient city, Mary Beard argues that such sites are far too costly for any one country to maintain

The latest disaster to hit Pompeii was not a particularly serious one by the standards of that unfortunate city – battered by an earthquake in AD 62, destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 and hammered by Allied bombing in 1943 (there were rumours that the enemy was camped out there). Last Saturday, a small building known as the House of the Gladiators on Pompeii’s main street collapsed. One of a series of recent collapses, it was followed by the usual lamentations from the world’s press – Pompeii is falling down thanks to the neglect or corruption of the Italian authorities; the very house where the town’s gladiators once passed their short lives is no more.

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Flint tools found in 5,500-year-old tomb

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have uncovered fint tools while excavating a portal tomb dating back 5,500 years in Co

Cormac McSparron, from the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork at Queen's University, said they had expected to find human burial, but the nature of the soil at Tirnony dolmen, near Maghera, had caused any bones to decay completely.

"We have found several different types of flint tools – a couple of really fne fint knives and scrapers placed into the tomb with the personal possessions of the deceased, presumably for them to take with them into the afterlife," he said.

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Mystery treasure could be in forgotten medieval code

AN amateur enthusiast has unearthed a mysterious treasure said to bear inscriptions from a forgotten medieval code.

Ivor Miller’s find is thought to be a medieval silver seal containing a Roman-era jewel and engraved with as-yet undeciphered lettering.

Some have speculated a medieval farm labourer may have found the Roman jewel, a semi-precious stone, and handed it to their noble or lord, who placed it into their correspondence seal.

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Prehistoric Ilkley Moor carvings to be preserved in 3D

Prehistoric carvings on Ilkley Moor are to be preserved with help from the latest technology so future generations will be able to enjoy and study them.

Archaeologists hope to create digital 3D models of the carvings amid fears the originals could be eroded away.

Community archaeologist Gavin Edwards said this was an important development.

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Ausgrabungen in Burg Niendorf - ein Blick in die Geschichte Sachsen-Anhalts

Seit Mai dieses Jahres führt das Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt Ausgrabungen in Haldensleben durch. Das Grabungsareal umfasst die Wüstung Niendorf, deren Überreste sich in einer sumpfigen Niederung an der Ohre befinden. Die Entdeckungen, die hier in den letzten Wochen gemacht wurden, sind in der Tat so spektakulär, dass sie den hohen Aufwand rechtfertigen.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ancient DNA Reveals Origins Of First European Farmers

A team of international researchers led by ancient DNA experts from the University of Adelaide has helped resolve the longstanding issue of the origins of the people who introduced farming to Europe some 8000 years ago. A detailed genetic study of one of the first farming communities in Europe, from central Germany, reveals marked similarities with populations living in the Ancient Near East (modern-day Turkey, Iraq and other countries) rather than those from Europe. The results of the study will today in the online peer-reviewed science journal PLoS Biology.

Lead author Dr Wolfgang Haak, of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) at the University of Adelaide, says "We have shown that the first farmers in Europe had a much greater genetic input from the Near East and Anatolia, than from populations of Stone Age hunter-gatherers who already existed in the area."

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Early Cities Spurred Evolution of Immune System?

"Amazing" DNA results show benefits of ancient urbanization, study says.

As in cities today, the earliest towns helped expose their inhabitants to inordinate opportunities for infection—and today their descendants are stronger for it, a new study says.

"If cities increase the amount of disease people are exposed to, shouldn't they also, over time, make them natural places for disease resistance to evolve?" asked study co-author Mark Thomas, a biologist at University College London.

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The brains of Neanderthals and modern humans developed differently

Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany have documented species differences in the pattern of brain development after birth that are likely to contribute to cognitive differences between modern humans and Neanderthals.

Whether cognitive differences exist between modern humans and Neanderthals is the subject of contentious disputes in anthropology and archaeology. Because the brain size range of modern humans and Neanderthals overlap, many researchers previously assumed that the cognitive capabilities of these two species were similar. Among humans, however, the internal organization of the brain is more important for cognitive abilities than its absolute size is. The brain’s internal organization depends on the tempo and mode of brain development.

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Darwin's theory of gradual evolution not supported by geological history, scientist concludes

Charles Darwin's theory of gradual evolution is not supported by geological history, New York University Geologist Michael Rampino concludes in an essay in the journal Historical Biology. In fact, Rampino notes that a more accurate theory of gradual evolution, positing that long periods of evolutionary stability are disrupted by catastrophic mass extinctions of life, was put forth by Scottish horticulturalist Patrick Matthew prior to Darwin's published work on the topic.

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Ancient DNA from European Early Neolithic Farmers Reveals Their Near Eastern Affinities

In Europe, the Neolithic transition (8,000–4,000 B.C.) from hunting and gathering to agricultural communities was one of the most important demographic events since the initial peopling of Europe by anatomically modern humans in the Upper Paleolithic (40,000 B.C.). However, the nature and speed of this transition is a matter of continuing scientific debate in archaeology, anthropology, and human population genetics. To date, inferences about the genetic make up of past populations have mostly been drawn from studies of modern-day Eurasian populations, but increasingly ancient DNA studies offer a direct view of the genetic past. We genetically characterized a population of the earliest farming culture in Central Europe, the Linear Pottery Culture (LBK; 5,500–4,900 calibrated B.C.) and used comprehensive phylogeographic and population genetic analyses to locate its origins within the broader Eurasian region, and to trace potential dispersal routes into Europe.

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Fertile Crescent farmers took DNA to Germany

DNA evidence suggests that immigrants from the Ancient Near East brought farming to Europe, and spread the practice to the region's hunter-gatherer communities, according to Australian-led research.

A genetic study of ancient DNA, published in PLoS Biology today, adds crucial information to the long-running debate about how farming was introduced to Europe's nomadic hunter-gatherer societies almost 8000 years ago.

An international research team, led by University of Adelaide experts, compared ancient DNA from the remains of Early Neolithic farmers at a burial site in central Germany with a large genetic database of European and Eurasian populations.

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World's First 'Archaeological Dig' of the Internet

Today, many Londoners are participating in a unique archaeological dig. But in lieu of shovels and pickaxes, all they will need is a computer with Internet access.

The event is called Digital Archaeology -- and it's the first ever archaeological dig of the Internet. The exhibition, held in London as part of Internet Week Europe, showcases 15 websites that were once considered groundbreaking in their prime but have since been lost to time and technological evolution.

The dig is the brainchild of Jim Boulton, managing director of a new-age advertising firm called Story Worldwide. Having worked in the digital advertising industry for the past 13 years, Boulton said he came up with the idea when he could see the inevitable end of the website era.

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50 Best Blogs for Medieval History Geeks

History fascinates most people, each with their interest piqued by different eras — though all of them eventually impacted today’s world in ways both earth-shattering and subtle. The Middle Ages, which stretched roughly from the 5th Century to the 15th Century C.E., continues to draw passionate devotees hoping to study its tenets either formally or informally. Considering that its art, literature, architecture and (to some extent) ideologies still exist today, these "geeks" certainly have many primary sources to explore! The following blogs offer them an amazing array of perspectives on a number of different medieval topics, suitable for readers of differing levels. By no means comprehensive, many recently-updated resources unfortunately ended up littering the metaphorical cutting room floor because of space constraints. Be sure to check out the others on the subject as well for a broader look at this major point in human history.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Please don't privatise Pompeii

These Italian ruins should be preserved, but not turned into a theme park

I went to Pompeii last month. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. The scale is staggering: an entire city frozen in time, at that moment in 79AD when Vesuvius called forth apocalypse on its fleeing inhabitants. I spent seven hours there and felt I'd barely scratched the surface.

I literally scratched the surface, too. I was so moved by the visit that I wanted to take a few small pieces of broken Roman wall away with me – this wasn't quite vandalism as they were already on the floor – so I put them in my pocket. Though concern about how I would explain them away at Naples airport meant I didn't in the end remove them from Pompeii. The news over the weekend that a house in the city, the so-called House of the Gladiators, had fallen down made me glad I hadn't.

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'Vikings were murdered in Oxford'

Archeological studies have revealed that Viking settlers of Oxford were brutally killed and dumped in a ditch in an ethnic cleansing plan some 1,000 years ago.

Remains of 34 to 38 young men were discovered in March 2008 during excavations for a new college building.

The bones dated back to between 960 and 1020 CE and included cracked skulls. Some of the skeletons bore stab wounds in their spines and pelvic bones. There were also signs of burning.

Five had been stabbed in the back, and one had been decapitated.

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Babies' brains 'resemble those of Neanderthals'

New-born humans' brains are about the same size and of similar appearance to those of Neanderthals, but alter in the first year of life, a new scientific study suggested.

The differences between our brains and those of our extinct relatives take shape mainly after birth and in the initial 12 months, a report in Current Biology said.

The findings are based on comparisons of virtual imprints of the developing brain and surrounding structures, called endocasts, derived from the skulls of modern and fossilised humans, including that of a newborn Neanderthal.

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Monday, November 08, 2010

Dig uncovers prehistoric burials

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are unearthing another fascinating glimpse of the island’s prehistoric past.

A dig currently being carried out near the Balthane industrial estate in Ballasalla has uncovered remains of Neolithic urns dating back 4,000 years together with later Bronze Age burial cists.

Another excavation nearby has unearthed more cremation urns.

Both digs are being carried out by teams from Oxford Archaeology.

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Viking life on display in Aberdeen

An exhibition inspired by Viking life has opened in Aberdeen.

Exposure is a sound and light installation at Satrosphere and runs until 6 December.

Studies of soil samples dated up to one thousand years old at a Norse settlement in southern Greenland gave clues to the harsh life experienced by settlers at the time.

Dr Paul Adderley, environmental scientist at the University of Stirling, worked with composer Dr Michael Young of Goldsmiths, University of London.

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CSI Iron Age

Next week, a forensic anthropologist will explain how scientists reopened the oldest cold case in Irish history. Clodagh Finn on the investigation into the brutal slaying of two important aristocrats

The first thing that strikes you about one of Ireland's oldest murder victims is his beautifully manicured hands. This man, who once stood an impressive 6ft 6in tall, never did a day's manual labour in his life.

In fact, his fingerprint whorls were so perfectly preserved when his remains came out of the bog near Croghan Hill in Co Meath in May 2003 that gardai were called in to investigate a possible murder.

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Silbury Hill's Anglo-Saxon makeover

Silbury Hill acquired its distinctive shape in more modern times, according to new archaeological evidence.

It is traditionally thought that the hill, with its steep banks and flat top, was conceived and completed in pre-historic times.

But new research presented in a new book suggests the final shape was a late Anglo-Saxon innovation.

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Pompeii building collapse prompts calls for privatisation of city

Calls for Unesco world heritage site to be privatised after 2,000-year-old House of Gladiators collapses

Opposition politicians and commentators accused Italy's government of neglect and mismanagement today over the collapse of the 2,000-year-old House of the Gladiators in the ruins of ancient Pompeii.

Some commentators said the Unesco world heritage site should be privatised and removed from state control. La Stampa newspaper ran a story headlined "Pompeii – the collapse of shame," echoing national opinion over the cultural disaster.

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Experts reveal brutal Viking massacre

VIKING skeletons buried beneath an Oxford college were the victims of brutal ethnic cleansing 1,000 years ago, archaeologists have discovered.

Experts were mystified when they discovered a mass grave beneath a quadrangle a St John’s College, St Giles, in 2008.

But, after two years of CSI-style detective work, they believe they can pinpoint the exact day in 1002 AD that Danish settlers were rounded up on the streets of Oxford and murdered, before being carted out of the city gates and dumped in a ditch.

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