Monday, May 31, 2010

A Stone Says More Than a Thousand Runes

It was not necessary to be literate to be able to access rune carvings in the 11th century. At the same time those who could read were able to glean much more information from a rune stone than merely what was written in runes. This is shown in new research from Uppsala University in Sweden.

Rune stones are an important part of the Swedish cultural environment. Many of them are still standing in their original places and still bear witness about the inhabitants of the area from a thousand years ago. They thereby represent a unique source of knowledge about the Viking Age, providing us with glimpses of a period we otherwise would have known very little about. Among other themes, they tell us about family relations, travels, or matters of faith, and all of it in a language that scholars can understand fairly readily.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Anglo-Saxon finds to be examined

ANGLO-SAXON finds that were unearthed in Cheltenham have been moved off site for further investigation.

Two skeletons, pottery and a large wooden hall used for feasting were discovered during building work on the new All Saints' Academy site earlier this month.

The finds, thought to date to the 6th to 8th Century AD, have now been moved to the offices of Cotswold Archaeology at Kemble Airfield for further investigatory work to be carried out.

Read the rest of this article...

National Treasure

A silver boar badge dropped in the mud on a Leicestershire battlefield more than 500 years ago has been officially declared treasure.

Historians believe the tiny emblem fell from a knight's tunic as he foughtalongside Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth.

Read the rest of this article...

Marking medieval Tŷ Mawr's 550th birthday

The largest restored medieval aisled hall in Wales celebrates its 550th anniversary this year with a series of special weekend events.

Tŷ Mawr near Castle Caereinon is also featured in an upcoming television documentary to mark the event.

The building will open its doors to visitors on the first weekend of every month from June to September.

Read the rest of this article...

Get Ready for More Proto-Humans

Today at Discovery News you can read about the earliest recognized species of Homo, the first known member of our genus. This latest addition to the human family, Homo gautengensis, was from South Africa and measured just 3 feet tall. It spent a lot of time in trees and had big teeth suitable for chewing plant material. H. gautengensis emerged over 2 million years ago, but died out at around 600,000 years ago.

The past few years have seen an explosion in the discovery of early human ancestors. Over just the past couple of months alone, we were presented with X-Woman and Australopithecus sediba. One reason for the explosion is improved analysis methods, often based on prior finds, DNA work, and a better understanding of where such remains might exist.

Read the rest of this article...

Home Away From Rome

Excavations of villas where Roman emperors escaped the office are giving archaeologists new insights into the imperial way of life

In A.D. 143 or 144, when he was in his early 20s, the future Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius set out for the country estate of his adoptive father, Emperor Antoninus Pius. The property, Villa Magna (Great Estate), boasted hundreds of acres of wheat, grapes and other crops, a grand mansion, baths and temples, as well as rooms for the emperor and his entourage to retreat from the world or curl up with a good book.

Read the rest of this article...

2,000-Year-Old Shipwreck Creates Deep Sea Mystery

Although the 2,000-year-old shipwreck under the Gran Sasso mountain in central Italy may be a godsend for nuclear physicists, the “Ship of the Thousand Ingots” has been one big mystery for archaeologists.

Was the ship, which carried the largest lead shipment ever found, deliberately sunk on the orders of the captain? Was the vessel knocked over by a wave?

In this audio slide show, Donatella Salvi, director of the National Archaeological Museum in Cagliari, tells Discovery News what her team found when they recovered the ship's cargo.

Read the rest of this article...

Italy: Ancient Etruscan home found near Grosseto

An ancient Etruscan home dating back more than 2,400 years has been discovered outside Grosseto in central Italy. Hailed as an exceptional find, the luxury home was uncovered at an archeological site at Vetulonia, 200 kilometres north of Rome.

Archeologists say it is rare to find an Etruscan home intact and believe the home was built between the 3rd and 1st century BC.

Using six Roman and Etruscan coins uncovered at the home, archeologists believe the house collapsed in 79 AD during wars unleashed by Roman general and dictator, Lucio Cornelio Silla.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dating: The Radiocarbon Way

Location: Worldwide Length: 10 min

What is carbon 14? What is a radiocarbon date? Is it the same as a calendar date? What does radiocarbon dating measure and why does it take a long time? How does an accelerator mass spectrometer measure carbon isotopes? What can you date with radiocarbon? This film features Dr. Christine Prior of GNS Science’s Rafter Radiocarbon Laboratory in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, explaining how AMS radiocarbon dating is done at their lab. Dr. Prior explains the principles of radiometric dating and presents an example from a real client.

Watch the video...

Monday, May 24, 2010

British Archaeology Summer School
With Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, England

This high profile month long summer school gives American University Students an opportunity to learn, at source, about the archaeology of Britain with top Professors in the field.

The academic course has four principal components:

1. A series of 24 lectures given by senior academics covering the successive periods of British prehistoric and post-prehistoric archaeology, from the earliest settlement of Britain to the end of the medieval period ca.1500 ad.

2. An associated series of 6 lectures devoted to aspects of archaeological method and theory, combined with guided visits to the laboratories of the Cambridge University McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and Cambridge University’s Archaeological Field Unit.

3. A 4-day study tour of Ancient Wessex to visit many of the most important archaeological sites in southern England.

4. Field visits to the Roman and medieval sites of Verulamium, Sutton Hoo, West Stow and Ely cathedral.

Visit the website...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Groundbreaking Roman Search: 24 to 28 May

A major investigation into Roman remains uncovered in the aftermath of Cockermouth's devastating floods is set to get underway this month.

Volunteers are needed for groundbreaking work on what is believed to be a settlement near the Papcastle Roman fort, surveyed by Channel 4's Time Team a decade ago but still not thoroughly excavated.

Forthcoming geophysical searches for buildings, roads and signs of occupation follow significant recent finds of possible foundations and a lot of pottery, unearthed by receding flood waters.

Organised by Bassenthwaite Reflections' Unlocking Hidden Heritage project, volunteers will be helping to piece together fascinating pieces of history in the first area study of its kind.

Read the rest of this article...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Archaeological finds dating back 1,000 years are unearthed at Wilberforce College

Students at a Hull college have literally seen history dug up before their eyes.

Archaeological finds have been unearthed on the site of Wilberforce College in east Hull.

And experts reckon the artefacts help fill in missing gaps about the city's ancient settlements.

A dig was prompted after planning permission was sought for a £800,000 building on the site.

Read the rest of this article...

'Medieval' find at Urdd eisteddfod site in Ceredigion

Workers preparing for the Urdd eisteddfod have discovered what are thought to be medieval remains while laying pipes.

They were working on the main festival field, called the maes, when they found what experts believe is part of a small hamlet or drove way (road).

Workers had dug down about 15cm at the Llanerchaeron estate, near Aberaeron in Ceredigion, when work came to a halt.

Read the rest of this article...

Stirling Castle knight revealed as English nobleman

A skeleton discovered at Stirling Castle may have been an English knight who died in the 14th Century.

Sir John de Stricheley died in 1341, when the English held the castle.

Read the rest of this article...

Friday, May 21, 2010

National Museums Scotland Exhibition

Medieval ivory chess pieces from north and south of the border have been reunited for a major exhibition in the Scottish capital.

The Lewis Chessmen (or Uig Chessmen, named after their find-site) are a group of 78 chess pieces from the 12th century most of which are carved in walrus ivory, discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. They may constitute some of the few complete medieval chess sets that have survived until today, although it is not clear if any full set as originally made can be made up from the varied pieces. They are currently owned and exhibited by the British Museum in London, which has 67 of them and the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, which has the rest. There has been recent controversy about the most appropriate place for the main display of the pieces.

Read the rest of this article...

Henry VIII’s wine fountain recreated at Hampton Court Palace - with help from Stowells

A fully working recreation of a Tudor wine fountain featuring the UK's No. 1 wine brand Stowells, was unveiled by independent charity Historical Royal Palaces at Hampton Court Palace, King Henry VIII's former royal residence recently.
Inspired by the discovery of the remains of a 16th century conduit (or fountain) during a major archaeological dig at Hampton Court Palace in 2008.

Taking shape in Hampton Court Palace's largest inner courtyard, known as Base Court, on the site of the excavated Tudor conduit, the new wine fountain will act as a magnificent centrepiece to the courtyard, while also serving a functional purpose – it will run with red and (chilled) white wine at the end of the day on weekends and bank holidays enabling visitors to raise a glass to Henry VIII and his magnificent Tudor palace!

Read the rest of this article...

Neuer Archäologiepfad auf der Engehalbinsel in Bern

Der Archäologische Dienst des Kantons Bern hat den Archäologiepfad umfassend erneuert. Dieser führt mit Informationstafeln durch die verschiedenen keltischen und römischen Geländedenkmäler. Ein neu gestalteter Flyer bietet vertiefte Informationen zur Besiedlung der Engehalbinsel durch die Kelten und Römer.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stirling Castle skeleton warrior to be revealed in BBC2 History Cold Case

The identity of a sword-swinging War of Independence warrior whose executed skeleton was discovered buried in a forgotten chapel at Stirling Castle 13 years ago is set to be revealed this week in a BBC investigation using the latest scientific tests.

BBC Two's History Cold Case has reconstructed the face of the Medieval Knight after archaeologists found his bludgeoned body in a mass grave of 10 skeletons thought to have been slaughtered in a siege during the Anglo-Scottish wars of the late 13th and 14th centuries.

Read the rest of this article...

Face of medieval knight reconstructed by computers

The face of a medieval knight who was killed 700 years ago has been revealed through state-of-the-art forensic techniques.

The mysterious skeleton was uncovered along with nine other people's remains underneath a chapel at Stirling Castle in 1997.

It is not known whether the man, who was killed during Scotland's Wars of Independence, is English, Scottish or even French, due to the fact the castle changed hands several times.

Read the rest of this article...

Public invited to see Sarcophagus preserved as Colchester Castle welcomes conservationists

Visitors to Colchester Castle will be able to see an expert conservation team working on an Ancient Egyptian Sarcophagus (above) in the Castle Museum Gallery as they prepare to move the precious object with its mummy to Ipswich Museum.

Conservators Emma Hogarth and Stefanie White will be working on the 2,500-year- old sarcophagus live in the Museum between Monday 24 and Wednesday May 26 before it is re-displayed in a new Ancient Egyptian gallery opening in Ipswich in late July.

Read the rest of this article...

New Online Medieval Manuscript Database has over 7000 pages

Over 7000 pages from medieval and early modern manuscripts have been put online by the University of Texas at Austin. They come from a collection of 215 items from the Harry Ransom Center, which date from the 11th to the 17th centuries.

The Ransom Center is digitizing all of the collection items, which will be added to the database as they are completed. At present, digital images are available for 27 of the items for a total of 7,288 pages.

Read the rest of this article...

Archeologist will give Hoard update

STEPHEN Dean, Staffordshire's County Archaeologist, will be giving an update on the fabulous Staffordshire Hoard at Lichfield Guildhall next month.
Tickets, costing £5, are in aid of the Artfund in order to create the Mercian Trail.
The talk, at the Bore Street venue, takes place on Wednesday, June 9, from 7.30pm.

Read the rest of this article...

Derbyshire Iron Age bones were of pregnant woman

Tests carried out on a skeleton discovered at an archaeological dig in Derbyshire have found it was that of a pregnant woman.

Experts said they were surprised by the female find because the site, near Monsal Dale in the Peak District, had been believed to be a military scene.

Now, extra lottery funding means there can be a second dig at the Fin Cop hill fort site to find out more.

Read the rest of this article...

5th Century BC Swastika Found in Bulgaria

The Swastika is one of the oldest symbols found on Bulgarian soil during archeology excavations near the village of Altimir, in the northern Vratsa Region.

The precious find, along with 70 other objects, is on display at the Regional Museum in the city of Vratsa, Darik radio reports Wednesday.

The exhibit is titled “Gods, Symbols, and Ancient Signs” and will be opened for a month from now.

Read the rest of this article...

Anglo-Saxon finds at new Cheltenham academy site

An Anglo-Saxon settlement has been discovered on the site of the new All Saints' Academy in Cheltenham.

Two skeletons, pottery and a large timber hall, all thought to date back to between the 6th to 8th Century, have been uncovered.

Steve Sheldon, of Cotswold Archaeology, said it was previously thought the area did not succumb to Saxon control during that period.

Read the rest of this article...

Cyprus: crews stumble on 2-millennia-old coffins

NICOSIA, Cyprus – Work crews in Cyprus have accidentally unearthed four rare clay coffins estimated to be some 2,000 years old, the country's Antiquities Department director said Wednesday.

Maria Hadjicosti said the coffins adorned with floral patterns date from the east Mediterranean island's Hellenistic to early Roman periods, between 300 B.C. and 100 A.D.

She said the coffins were dug up this week from what is believed to be an ancient cemetery in the eastern coastal resort of Protaras.

Read the rest of this article...

Archaeologists lose Charlemagne's tomb

After the fall of the Roman Empire, he was the first to reunite Western Europe. He ruled a vast kingdom that encompassed what is now France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and the Low Countries. The Pope even crowned him Emperor of the Romans. But while Charlemagne is famous around the world, very little is known about the real man.

There's always been an air of mystery about Charlemagne, who ruled the Carolingian Empire from 800-814 AD. Historians aren't sure where or when he was born, or who his siblings were. They can't even agree on his native language.

Now it turns out he may never have been buried in his tomb.

Read the rest of this article...

Romanian, French experts assess archaeological potential of Bihor caves

Cave painting expert Jean Clottes, PhD, together with other French experts assessed over May 14 -19 in Bihor County (western Romania) the possibility of creating the largest tourist cave network in Romania, which will include over 12 caves in this county.

According to the Romanian Speleological Federation Chairman Viorel Lascu, Jean Clottes PhD, other experts in this field, among whom cave bear expert Michel Philippe, Romanian-French Speleological Association, and ďOrgnac Regional Prehistory Museum conducted an assessment of the Bihor’s archaeological potential, visiting the caves at Fanate, Valea Sighistelului, Rosia, Crisul Repede Gorge and highlighting the ‘Palaeolithic culture’ of these caves.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Saxon church is East Yorkshire's 'oldest building'

Experts say they have identified East Yorkshire's oldest standing building.

Part of St Peter and St Paul's Church, near Stamford Bridge, is thought to be 1,100 years old, 300 years older than previously believed.

Archaeologist Peter Ryder recognised it as an early Saxon church when he was invited to inspect the building.

Read the rest of this article...

Advanced geographical models bring new perspective to study of archaeology

Computational modeling techniques provide new and vast opportunities to the field of archaeology. By using these techniques, archeologists can develop alternative computerized scenarios that can be compared with traditional archaeological records, possibly enhancing previous findings of how humans and the environment interact.

An article published in the April 2010 issue of the journal American Antiquity by researchers at Arizona State University and North Carolina State University describes the use of computational modeling to study the long-term effects of varying land use practices by farmers and herders on landscapes. It compares the results with the Levantine Neolithic archaeological record, which preserves a record of the long-term socioecology of subsistence farming.

Read the rest of this article...

Imagefilm als Informationsoffensive für die Denkmalpflege

Baden-Württemberg besitzt mit rund 90.000 Bau- und Kunstdenkmalen und über 60.000 bekannten archäologischen Denkmalen eine überaus reiche Kulturlandschaft. Diese für kommende Generationen zu erhalten, ist Aufgabe der Denkmalpflege. Einen Überblick über Aufgaben, Tätigkeitsfelder, Nutzen und Erfolge der baden-württembergischen Denkmalpflege bietet nun ein 25-minütiger Imagefilm, den das Landesamt für Denkmalpflege beim Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart neu herausgegeben hat.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Celebrating Cluny in Scotland

Scotland’s links to a once all-powerful religious order are celebrated as part of an eleven-hundred year-old anniversary.

A delegation from Cluny is visiting Scotland as part of a year-long commemoration to mark the anniversary of the founding of the Cluniac Order in Burgundy.

Scotland's Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop met the group as they visited Paisley Abbey, one of few remaining Scottish sites with links to the Order, one of the most influential in medieval Europe. She said: “I am delighted to support la Fédération des Sites Clunisiens in its commemorations and welcome them to Scotland.

Read the rest of this article...

Metal detector enthusiasts Geoff Lowcock and David Harrison found axe heads

Rare Bronze Age artefacts unearthed by metal detector enthusiasts will help future generations piece together a picture of life in ancient Wharfedale.

The two bronze axe heads, essential tools for early farmers cutting down trees and cultivating the land, have been given to Ilkley’s Manor House Museum.

Read the rest of this article...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Digging up Brahe

A search for clues to the famous astronomer's death - and life

If everything goes according to plan, sometime in November a group of about a dozen Czech and Danish scientists will descend on the Church of Our Lady Before Týn on Old Town Square. Soon thereafter, a man who has been dead for more than 400 years will say hello to the 21st century.

Tycho Brahe was the greatest astronomer of his time, a leading light in the court of Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. But, at this point, it's safe to say he is more famous in death than he ever was in life - in science, for his precise observations of the heavens, and in popular culture, for the mysterious manner of his death.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Welcome to the family, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis

WE HUMANS like to see ourselves as special, at the very pinnacle of all life. That makes us keen to keep a safe distance between ourselves and related species that threaten our sense of uniqueness. Unfortunately, the evidence can sometimes make that difficult.

Decades ago, when the primatologist Jane Goodall told anthropologist Louis Leakey that chimps used sticks to scoop up termites, he wrote: "Now we must redefine tool, redefine man or accept chimpanzees as human." The news this month that humans and Neanderthals interbred (see "Revealed: the cavemen that live on in all of us") presents us with a similar conundrum - only this one lies far closer to home. Must we now consider Neanderthals as one of our own, another twig on the branch called Homo sapiens?

Read the rest of this article...

Neanderthals not the only apes humans bred with

A LONG-awaited rough draft of the Neanderthal genome has revealed that our own DNA contains clear evidence that early humans interbred with Neanderthals.

Such interminglings have been suspected in the past, but there's more: Neanderthals were probably not the only other Homo species early Homo sapiens mixed with.

These findings call into question the familiar story that modern humans left Africa around 100,000 years ago and swept aside all other Homo species as they made their way around the globe. "It was a very simple story," says João Zilhão at the University of Bristol, UK. "Its simplicity suggested it would not be true." A more likely scenario is that as H. sapiens migrated, they met and interbred with other Homo species that have all since died out.

Read the rest of this article...

Vikings invade for the return of Dublinia

A DISPLAY of more than 700 years of Irish history, beginning with the Scandinavian raiders' settlement in Dublin, has been re-opened to the public after briefly closing its doors during a €2m redevelopment.

Those involved with the relaunch of the 'Dublinia' exhibition at Christchurch in Dublin got into the full medieval spirit yesterday as they donned the traditional clothing and the odd horned Viking helmet.

To help them fully get into the swing of things, music of the time was provided by medieval group Seanma, consisting of five Dun Laoghaire women with instruments such as a Renaissance flute, stringed viols and recorders.

Read the rest of this article...

Uncovering Nottingham's hidden medieval sandstone caves

The very latest laser technology combined with old fashioned pedal power is being used to provide a unique insight into the layout of Nottingham's sandstone caves — where the city's renowned medieval ale was brewed and, where legend has it, the country's most famous outlaw Robin Hood was imprisoned.

The Nottingham Caves Survey, being carried out by archaeologists from Trent & Peak Archaeology at The University of Nottingham, has already produced extraordinary, three dimensional, fly through, colour animation of caves that have been hidden from view for centuries.

Read the rest of this article...

Ancient DNA set to rewrite human history

Discovery that some humans are part-Neanderthal reveals the promise of comparing genomes old and new.

The worlds of ancient and modern DNA exploration have collided in spectacular fashion in the past few months. Last week saw the publication of a long-awaited draft genome of the Neanderthal, an archaic hominin from about 40,000 years ago1. Just three months earlier, researchers in Denmark reported the genome of a 4,000-year-old Saqqaq Palaeo-Eskimo2 that was plucked from the Greenland permafrost and sequenced in China using the latest technology.

Read the rest of this article...

Archaeologists Unearth Biggest Stash of Byzantine Coins Ever Found in Macedonia

The landfill with coins recently discovered at the Skopje Fortress is the biggest repository of Byzantine gold and silver coins ever discovered on the territory of Macedonia, archaeologists told national media today.

In the chest, archaeologists found 44 gold coins and 76 Venetian coins, dating to the thirteenth century, or the Byzantine Era.

This is the most significant archaeological find at the Skopje Fortress, along with the Medieval lead stamps that were discovered several years ago at the site, Pasko Kuzman, archaeologist and Director of Cultural Heritage Protection in the Macedonian Ministry of Culture, told the Vreme newspaper.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Archaeological dig begins in Chester's Grosvenor Park

Archaeologists and students from the University of Chester are about to embark on a month-long excavation to unearth vital clues about the history of Chester's Grosvenor Park.

Throughout May students will work with Cheshire West and Chester's (CWAC) Historic Environment Team to excavate remains associated with the Civil War, Medieval and Roman periods in the city's park.

Read the rest of this article...

Tree-ring patterns are intellectual property, not climate data

Ancient woodland would not have the same response to climate factors, such as temperature or rainfall, as oak trees today

In April, the UK Information Commissioner's Office ruled that Queen's University Belfast must hand over data obtained during 40 years of research into 7,000 years of Irish tree rings to a City banker and part-time climate analyst, Doug Keenan. Professor Mike Baillie, the man who collected most of that data, called the ruling a "staggering injustice". He explains his opinion below.

I regard myself as a chronologist and a dendro-catastrophist; in particular I wish to link the tree-ring and ice core chronologies so that we can view some historical events, such as those around AD540 or 44BC, in human records, in tree-ring records and in ice core records of atmospheric chemistry. My early work was as part of a team involved in constructing a 7,000-year oak chronology at Belfast to allow calibration of the radiocarbon timescale. Since then I have built further chronologies and have studied some extreme events initially indicated by the Irish trees.

Read the rest of this article...

Greek archaeologists uncover ancient austerity

Ancient Greeks were forced to tighten their tunics thousands of years before their descendants faced a similar fate under debt-cutting austerity measures, a senior archaeologist said on Tuesday.

Graves excavated in recent months in the northern Greek region of Macedonia show the population scaled back on funeral offerings some 2,300 years ago, probably under royal decree, archaeologist Manthos Besios told Ta Nea daily.

The graves in Pydna, a prominent city in the ancient Macedonian kingdom elevated to fame by Alexander the Great, contained gold jewels, elaborate vases and ivory-plated beds in the fourth century BCE, Besios said.

Read the rest of this article...

West Cumbria floods uncover Roman finds prompting major probe

Roman finds uncovered by the floods of last November have excited archaeologists – and are set for a major investigation.
Roman finds photo

The remains of a Roman fort at Papcastle have been open for several years, but nobody has ever known the shape of local roads, the size of the civilian settlement attached to it, where the river Derwent ran and where it was crossed, or where the site’s cemetery was located.

Read the rest of this article...

A new science project on the historical and natural heritage of the Pyrenees

'The Origins Route' will help to make scientific knowledge generated in the area contribute to its economic development

Six Spanish and French institutions are working jointly to put into action "The Origins Route", a scientific dissemination project to develop a quality sustainable model for tourism in the Pyrenees. Participating is also the Centre for the Studies of Archaeological and Prehistoric Heritage (CEPAP) of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). The initiative comprises a set of activities to inform society about the origins of the Pyrenees in fields related to astronomy, geology, palaeontology and human evolution.

Read the rest of this article...

This Is Your Brain On Neanderthal

Last week, geneticists dumped on us the somewhat disturbing fact that most of us have some Neanderthals in our family tree. Not a lot of them, mind you, but a few nonetheless.

Now, courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, you can get some idea of what your inner Neanderthal might look like.

The museum is releasing the MEanderthal iPhone app. It's a mobile version of a facial morphing station in the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins.

Read the rest of this article...

Underground battle: archaeology vs construction

There’s not a lot of space to build in a densely populated country like the Netherlands. To get round this, construction is increasingly taking place underground. Motorways, railway lines, gas pipes, high-voltage cables, car parks, shops and offices all can neatly disappear under street level. Lots of room. But what if the construction work reveals a rare Roman settlement?

There are all sorts of rules about what has to happen if there is an archaeological discovery during construction work above ground. However, if the work is being done underground, archaeology has to give way to construction. Even the scientists agree that the interests of society come first in such circumstances.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

CBA Report Reveals Voluntary Archaeology Has Doubled in Twenty Years

A new report highlights the sheer scale of voluntary archaeology in the UK, and makes important recommendations about how these activities should be supported in the future.

Over 200,000 individuals are involved in a community archaeology group or local society, carrying out activities as diverse as excavation, marine archaeology, recording a historic building or volunteering for a Young Archaeologists’ Club Branch. This figure has more than doubled since a similar survey was carried out in 1987.

Read the rest of this article...

Slabs of plaster fall from ceiling of Colosseum

Slabs of ancient plaster have fallen from the ceiling of the Colosseum, leading experts to call for a £20 million restoration of Italy's most famous Roman monument.

The three chunks of mortar plummeted to the ground around dawn on Sunday, a few hours before thousands of tourists tramped through the gladiatorial arena.

They crashed through a wire protection net which was supposed to have prevented such accidents, but which is more than 30 years old.

Read the rest of this article...

So we're part Neanderthal. What now?

So now we know: Many, if not most, people alive today have some Neanderthal ancestry.

This finding, which comes from analysis of the Neanderthal genome, has taken many experts by surprise.

It tells us there was some mating between modern humans - our own lineage - and the Neanderthals before the latter went extinct some 24,000 years ago.

Read the rest of this article...

The archaeology mission to uncover Shakespeare's secrets

PEOPLE with an interest in archaeology are being given a chance in a lifetime – to help experts unearth Shakespeare’s secrets.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is looking for volunteers to lend a hand unearthing one of Stratford’s most historically important sites – the house where the Bard lived in the final days of his life at New Place.

The archaeological “Dig for Shakespeare” started at the end of March, but as the size of the trenches grow so does the need for volunteers.

Read the rest of this article...

To mate, or not to mate: The Neanderthal question

There are moments in science when spectacular new evidence stops us in our tracks and makes us think and rethink.

But it is best to wait and let the dust settle to allow a good process of digestion that will not give us unwanted ulcers in the future.

That process has to sift out the news-grabbing headlines from the reality of the discovery, since the natures of science and journalism are different and need not follow similar agendas.

Read the rest of this article...

Uncovering the Truth About Viking Men

Vikings are associated with weapons and warfare, machismo and mayhem.

But many of them had the same concerns about choosing their children's names as we do, says a researcher from the University of Leicester who delivered his paper at a Viking conference on April 24.

The sixth Midlands Viking Symposium offered a variety of talks by Viking experts from the Universities of Leicester, Nottingham and Birmingham. The symposium took place at the University of Nottingham, and was open to all Viking enthusiasts.

Read the rest of this article...

Chunks of mortar fall off Rome's Colosseum

Rome archaeology officials say three chunks of mortar have fallen off from the Colosseum but that no one was hurt and tourist visits will go on as normal.

The pieces, covering a total of about a square meter (about 10 square feet), occurred about 6 a.m. Sunday, hours before the ancient arena opens to the public.

Archaeology official Roberto Cecchi said the area involved was already scheduled for maintenance and will be further inspected on Monday.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Some Neanderthal DNA Passed To Humans Say Genome Researchers

By analyzing DNA they extracted from three Neanderthal bones over 40,000 years old discovered in a cave in Croatia, scientists from Europe and the US have revealed in intricate detail how humans are related to this long-extinct relative of ours.

You can read about the work behind the finding that between 1 and 4 per cent of the DNA of non-African humans came from Neanderthals in the 7 May issue of Science.

Neanderthals are the closest evolutionary relatives of modern day humans. They lived in large parts of Europe and western Asia before they became extinct about 30,000 years ago, although the reason for that is unclear.

Read the rest of this article...

Medieval Hall opened in Ireland

The remains of Red Earl's Hall, the oldest surviving structure in the Irish city of Galway, was officially opened yesterday as a visitor's attraction. The medieval hall, built in the late 12th or early 13th century, were uncovered and preserved as part of the recent extension of the City’s Custom House. The original plans for the Custom House extension were re-drawn by the Office of Public Works to allow the medieval hall to be put on permanent display to the public.

Speaking at the opening, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr John Gormley said that the preservation of the hall, the earliest surviving settlement structure in the City, would “greatly enhance Galway’s rich educational and cultural infrastructure”.

Read the rest of this article...

He was an African who had a strong jaw and a bad back... So what was he doing in Ipswich in the year 1190?

To me, as an anatomist and forensic anthropologist, he was a man in intractable pain - probably incontinent and most likely paralysed in both legs.

To Caroline he was a man with a strong jaw-line and a face full of character.

To Wolfram he was a set of intriguing chemical ratios that strongly suggested his North African birth origin. But to historian Jim, he was a revelation.

Read the rest of this article...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Crete fortifications debunk myth of peaceful Minoan society

A team of archaeologists have discovered a fortification system at the Minoan town of Gournia, a discovery which rebukes the popular myth that the Minoans were a peaceful society with no need for defensive structures.

The team's efforts were led by Professor Vance Watrous and Matt Buell of the University at Buffalo. Located on the north coast, Gournia was in use during the neo-palatial period (ca. 1700-1450 BC), when Minoan civilization was at its height. The town sits atop a low ridge with four promontories on its coastline. Two of these promontories end in high vertical cliffs that give the town a defensive advantage, and it is here that the fortification system was discovered.

Read the rest of this article...

Neandertal genome yields evidence of interbreeding with humans

Some people don’t just have a caveman mentality; they may actually carry a little relic of the Stone Age in their DNA.

A new study of the Neandertal genome shows that humans and Neandertals interbred. The discovery comes as a big surprise to researchers who have been searching for genetic evidence of human-Neandertal interbreeding for years and finding none.

Read the rest of this article...

Neanderthal genes 'survive in us'

Many people alive today possess some Neanderthal ancestry, according to a landmark scientific study.

The finding has surprised many experts, as previous genetic evidence suggested the Neanderthals made little or no contribution to our inheritance.

The result comes from analysis of the Neanderthal genome - the "instruction manual" describing how these ancient humans were put together.

Between 1% and 4% of the Eurasian human genome seems to come from Neanderthals.

Read the rest of this article...

Il y a du Neandertal en nous

Il y a du Neandertal en nous. Du moins si nous sommes "non africains". Dans ce cas, 1 % à 4 % de notre matériel génétique a pour origine Homo neanderthalensis. Nous nous croyions simples cousins, issus d'un ancêtre commun. Nous nous découvrons aussi métissés avec cet humain disparu. C'est la conclusion la plus spectaculaire tirée de l'étude de l'ADN prélevé sur trois os de néandertaliens vieux d'environ 40 000 ans, issus d'une grotte croate.

Pour la première fois, le génome nucléaire d'un homme fossile est séquencé, à hauteur de 60%. Son analyse est publiée, au terme de quatre années d'efforts, dans la revue Science, vendredi 7 mai, sous la direction de Svante Pääbo, de l'Institut Max-Planck d'anthropologie évolutionniste de Leipzig. C'est à lui que l'on doit la première analyse génétique d'un néandertalien, en 1997.

Read the rest of this article...

Der Neandertaler in uns

Die Analyse des Neandertaler-Genoms ergibt: Menschen und Neandertaler haben sich doch vermischt

Erstmals liegt eine Version der Genomsequenz einer ausgestorbenen Menschenart vor. Forscher des Max-Planck-Institutes für evolutionäre Anthropologie in Leipzig präsentieren gemeinsam mit einem internationalen Forschungsteam einen ersten Entwurf der Gensequenz des vor rund 30.000 Jahren ausgestorbenen Neandertalers. Erste Analysen von vier Milliarden Basenpaaren weisen darauf hin, dass Neandertaler im Genom einiger moderner Menschen Spuren hinterlassen haben.

Read the rest of this article...

Friday, May 07, 2010

No scientists had to die for this paradigm shift!

In Science Ann Gibbons has a very long reported piece, Close Encounters of the Prehistoric Kind. It’s well worth reading, but behind a pay wall. If you don’t have access though, I want to spotlight one particular section:

The discovery of interbreeding in the nuclear genome surprised the team members. Neandertals did coexist with modern humans in Europe from 30,000 to 45,000 years ago, and perhaps in the Middle East as early as 80,000 years ago (see map, p. 681). But there was no sign of admixture in the complete Neandertal mitochondrial (mtDNA) genome or in earlier studies of other gene lineages…And many researchers had decided that there was no interbreeding that led to viable offspring. “We started with a very strong bias against mixture,” says co-author David Reich of Harvard Medical School in Boston. Indeed, when Pääbo first learned that the Neandertal DNA tended to be more similar to European DNA than to African DNA, he thought, “Ah, it’s probably just a statistical fluke.” When the link persisted, he thought it was a bias in the data. So the researchers used different methods in different labs to confirm the result. “I feel confident now because three different ways of analyzing the data all come to this conclusion of admixture,” says Pääbo.

Read the rest of this article...

Neanderthals live on in DNA of humans

The first comparison of the complete genomes of humans and Neanderthals reveals that up to 4% of our DNA is Neanderthal

There is a little Neanderthal in nearly all of us, according to scientists who compared the genetic makeup of humans with that of our closest ancient relatives.

Most people living outside Africa can trace up to 4% of their DNA to a Neanderthal origin, a consequence of interbreeding between the two groups after the great migration from the contintent.

Read the rest of this article...

Neanderthal gene found in human DNA of people living out of Africa

They have been extinct for 30,000 years, but a small part of the Neanderthals lives on in the DNA of every person with ancestors outside Africa.

The genetic code of Neanderthal Man has revealed that Homo sapiens mated with our closest evolutionary relatives soon after migrating out of Africa, leaving traces that can still be detected in human DNA.

A comparison of the genomes of the two human species has shown that between 1 and 4 per cent of the DNA of modern non-Africans has a Neanderthal origin, while no Neanderthal genes can be detected in Africans today. This indicates that the first modern humans to leave the continent must have interbred with Neanderthals they encountered, probably in the Middle East. Their descendants went on to populate the other continents.

Read the rest of this article...

Humans interbred with Neanderthals: genome analysis

Modern humans most likely interbred with Neanderthals, according to landmark genome analysis that shed light on how we evolved differently from our prehistoric cousins.

"We can now say that, in all probability, there was gene flow from Neanderthals to modern humans," said Richard Green of the University of California, Santa Cruz, one of the leaders of the research.

The research found that as much as four percent of the modern human genome seems to be from Neanderthals.

Read the rest of this article...

Medieval skeletons unearthed in coffin in Kimbrose Triangle, Gloucester

TWO skeletons believed to date from medieval times have been found in Gloucester by workmen at Kimbrose Triangle.

The Gloucestershire County Council team were digging the area between Southgate Street and Kimbrose Way in the £7million Gloucester Linkages project, when the discovery was made on Tuesday.

The council's archaeology team said they have found two skeletons in the remains of a coffin but they are unable to identify the gender of the bones, which will have to be taken away for further investigation.

Read the rest of this article...

Evidence Suggests Early Humans Mated with Neanderthals

Researchers in Leipzig have successfully sequenced the genetic code of a Neanderthal, and found some overlap with modern-day Europeans. The finding provides insight into the evolution of humans -- and could be a blow to racists.

An international team led by scientists based at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig have successfully sequenced the Neanderthal genome, the first time the genetic code of an extinct human relative has been decoded.

By comparing the Neanderthal genome to modern human genes, the researchers say, it's possible to isolate the parts of our genetic code that makes humans human -- and tell once and for all whether humans and Neanderthals may once have mated. "Having a first version of the Neanderthal genome fulfils a long-standing dream," Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Director Svante Pääbo said in an announcement. "For the first time now we can identify genetic features that set us apart from all other organisms, including our closest evolutionary relatives."

Read the rest of this article...

Rare Roman box revealed at Maryport

A rare Roman seal box was just one of the treasures revealed at a Portable Antiquities event at the Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport on Saturday.

Dot Boughton, a finds liaison officer for the Portable Antiquities scheme, visited the museum and said there were some interesting items brought in.

She said: “I have taken several items away to be photographed and catalogued. They will be returned to their owners but we will hold details of them on our database.”

Read the rest of this article...

Complete Neanderthal genome sequenced

Researchers have produced the first whole genome sequence of the 3 billion letters in the Neanderthal genome, and the initial analysis suggests that up to 2 percent of the DNA in the genome of present-day humans outside of Africa originated in Neanderthals or in Neanderthals' ancestors.

The international research team, which includes researchers from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, reports its findings in the May 7, 2010, issue of Science.

The current fossil record suggests that Neanderthals, or Homo neanderthalensis, diverged from the primate line that led to present-day humans, or Homo sapiens, some 400,000 years ago in Africa. Neanderthals migrated north into Eurasia, where they became a geographically isolated group that evolved independently from the line that became modern humans in Africa. They lived in Europe and western Asia, as far east as southern Siberia and as far south as the Middle East.

Read the rest of this article...

Skeletons dug up by workmen in Gloucester may be medieval

Two complete skeletons thought to date back to medieval times have been dug up by workmen revamping access to a city's shopping centre.

The team was working on the £7 million project in Gloucester when they made the discovery, watched by an archaeologist.

The men were digging foundations for a wall as part of the Gloucester Linkages project when the bodies were unearthed on Tuesday.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, May 06, 2010

CSI team digs into the past for new TV show

Professor Sue Black, the Scottish forensic scientist renowned around the world for her work identifying bodies at the scenes of crimes and disasters, has used her skills for the first time to solve the mysteries of ancient skeletons that have lain unidentified for hundreds of years, including a knight found under the floor of Stirling Castle.

Ms Black, who is Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification in Dundee, specialises in dead bodies, crime scenes and human identification, and was awarded the OBE for her work in Kosovo.

But now she has turned her attention to the historical cases for a new four-part documentary series, History Cold Case.

Read the rest of this article...

Ancient Donegal skeleton 'removed for safe-keeping'

The mystery of missing skeletal remains which disappeared in west Donegal last week has been solved.

The bones of a child, believed to be thousands of years old, went missing from a quarry near Gweedore.

However, a man worried that the bones would be damaged by curious holiday-makers has revealed that he removed the remains for safe-keeping.

Read the rest of this article...

Egyptian blue found in Romanesque altarpiece

A team of researchers from the University of Barcelona (UB) has discovered remains of Egyptian blue in a Romanesque altarpiece in the church of Sant Pere de Terrassa (Barcelona). This blue pigment was used from the days of ancient Egypt until the end of the Roman Empire, but was not made after this time. So how could it turn up in a 12th Century church?

Egyptian blue or Pompeian blue was a pigment frequently used by the ancient Egyptians and Romans to decorate objects and murals. Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire (476 AD), this pigment fell out of use and was no longer made. But a team of Catalan scientists has now found it in the altarpiece of the 12th Century Romanesque church of Sant Pere de Terrassa (Barcelona). The results of this research have just been published in the journal Archaeometry.

Read the rest of this article...

Remains of 1,100-year-old drinking pot help pinpoint Wallingford's history

A BUILDER’S drinking pot which was smashed more than 1,100 years ago could help archaeologists accurately date the birth of Wallingford for the first time.

Leicester University experts say tiny pottery fragments uncovered in the town’s Anglo-Saxon ramparts could prove Wallingford was first fortified during the reign of Alfred the Great to protect his kingdom from Viking invasion.

Dozens of local volunteers helped sieve a tonne of earth last month during two weeks of excavations in Castle Meadows, where the archaeologists uncovered the ramparts beneath later medieval construction.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Man returns missing Donegal skeleton

Skeletal remains, which disappeared from a quarry near Gweedore, Co Donegal, over the weekend have reappeared.

An archaeologist has them in his possession and will hand them over to the museum this afternoon.

Yesterday, Donegal County Museum made an appeal for the return of the remains.

Read the rest of this article...

Donegal graverobbers steal skeletal remains

Graverobbers have removed ancient human remains from a recently discovered burial site in the Republic of Ireland.

Yesterday, the assistant curator of Donegal County Museum made an emotional appeal for the return of the bones, which vanished from the newly discovered site at the weekend.

Caroline Carr uncovered the ancient bones, believed to be those of a child, during a site inspection of a quarry in Lunniagh, Gweedore, on Friday.

Read the rest of this article...

Crewe schoolchildren enjoy archaeology session at South Cheshire College

ST THOMAS More Catholic High School pupils have been digging deep at South Cheshire College.

Youngsters spent an afternoon at the Dane Bank Avenue campus where they took part in a hands-on archaeology session as part of an introduction to A-level studies.

The session, organised by Dr Jonathan Hills who will lead a brand new A-level Archaeology in September.

Read the rest of this article...

Vacancy: Zooarchaeologist

Wessex Archaeology is seeking to appoint a Zooarchaeologist, to complement our existing Finds and Environmental Specialist team. The successful candidate to this permanent post will demonstrate substantial relevant experience in the analysis of, and reporting on animal bone assemblages to publication level within a commercial archaeological environment.

Read the rest of this article...

Historic Ipswich skeleton finally identified

A SKELETON excavated in the ruins of an Ipswich friary more than ten years ago has been identified as a medieval African man.

The finding, which has been documented in a BBC Two history series, gives insight into the migration of Africans to England in the 13th Century.

Until now there have been virtually no records of Africans in England between the fall of the Roman Empire and the 16th Century.

Read the rest of this article...

University divers plumb new depths in Egypt

University of Ulster divers have been passing on their expertise to maritime archaeologists in the historic Egyptian port of Alexandria.

Staff from the UU's maritime archaeology centre conducted a 10-day training workshop for 15 archaeologists from north and east Africa who wanted an insight into the challenges of working underwater.

During their stay the UU divers were granted a rare opportunity to explore the underwater remains of the famous Pharos lighthouse - one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Read the rest of this article...

A medieval African on English soil?

London - A 13th century skeleton unearthed on the grounds of a friary may be the earliest physical evidence that Africans lived in England in medieval times, a team of researchers said on Sunday.

Forensics experts at the University of Dundee Scotland say that the bones most likely belonged to a man from modern-day Tunisia who spent about a decade living in England before he died.

"I believe that this is the first physical evidence of Africans in medieval England," said Jim Bolton, a historian at Queen Mary, University of London who wasn't involved in the discovery.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

TAC Festival 2010 Preview

Location: Worldwide Length: 41 min

The world’s best films and videos on archaeology and indigenous peoples are showcased at The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival, to be held 18-22 May 2010 in the Soreng Theater at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene, Oregon, USA. The Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Jon Erlandson, a leading archaeologist in the search for the First Americans. This preview includes a short clip from each of the 19 competing productions. Film-makers from 32 countries submitted 100 entries for this event, which is one of the world’s few contests for heritage film.

Watch the video...

Skeleton of medieval African found in Ipswich sheds new light on Britain's ethnic history

Between the fall of the Roman Empire and the 16th century there are virtually no records of Africans in England – until now.

A skeleton excavated from a burial ground in Ipswich in the Nineties, has been identified as that of an African man dating back to medieval times.

Could this discovery, made in the first programme of new BBC Two series History Cold Case, which begins on Thursday 6 May at 9pm, open new windows on our view of Britain's ethnic history?

Read the rest of this article...

Broch site could soon yield secrets

Councillors advised to back archaeological dig on land where Russian seamen may lie

Archeologists could soon start excavating the site of a proposed scrap metal recycling plant reputed to be the final resting place of nine Russian seamen from the 16th century.

Plans for the waste management centre for end-of-the-line cars and electrical equipment on the edge of Fraserburgh will be discussed by members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Banff and Buchan committee tomorrow. Councillors have already held a site visit.

Read the rest of this article...

Birmingham archaeologist died from asbestos exposure, coroner rules

A RENOWNED archaeologist died from exposure to asbestos after working for years at the University of Birmingham where the lethal material was found.

However, an inquest into the death of Dr Lawrence Barfield, aged 74, of Blenheim Road, Moseley, found no clear evidence he was exposed to the deadly fibres during his 27-year tenure at the university between 1966 and 2000.

Cambridge educated Dr Barfield, who worked in the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, died at a hospice in Birmingham in July last year.

Read the rest of this article...

Medieval African Found Buried in England

How did this man manage to journey from Tunisia to Ipswich, England, during the 13th century?

A 13th century skeleton unearthed on the grounds of a friary may be the earliest physical evidence that Africans lived in England in medieval times, a team of researchers said Sunday.

Forensics experts at the University of Dundee Scotland say that the bones most likely belonged to a man from modern-day Tunisia who spent about a decade living in England before he died.

Read the rest of this article...

Carlisle Castle's decade dig is completed

An internationally important archaeological dig in Carlisle has unearthed rare articulated armour and a nit comb, with a louse still in it.

The dig, which took place over a decade in front of Carlisle Castle, has uncovered about 80,000 Roman artefacts.

The evidence provides Carlisle with almost 2,000 years of documented history.

Read the rest of this article...

Why a map is a window on to history

Maps tell us so much more than how to get from A to B, or where C is in relation to D. They can be tools of power and snapshots of history, and reveal the fears and prejudices of their age, says historian Jerry Brotton.

A remarkable thing about maps is people's resistance to the most basic fact of mapmaking - they can never be completely objective, accurate images of our world.

Talk to any mapmaker and they will tell you that the mathematics of mapping the globe onto a flat piece of paper mean that some form of distortion, manipulation and selection will always occur because, to put it simply, you cannot square the circle.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, May 03, 2010

Dig for archaeological victory at new road site

KENT NEWS: Britain’s largest archaeological dig is now under way in Thanet and will last until work begins on a new road in June.

The big dig has already unearthed a multitude of artefacts and is expected to reveal even more secrets about Kent’s past.

And to ensure every step is covered, it is being captured on film for a BBC Two documentary.

Read the rest of this article...

Mary Beard: A classicist in a class of her own

The delightful don, whose lively blog is read by thousands, is to host a TV series about Pompeii. And it's likely to inspire a new generation of Latin lovers

In all the noise following "Bigot-gate", there was one small corner of the blogosphere that could be trusted to offer the prime minister a unique sense of perspective. Mary Beard, professor of classics at Cambridge, and author of "A Don's Life", the web's most erudite gossip forum, was quickly online to suggest that Brown was not the first politician to be toasted.

Read the rest of this article...

Medieval black Briton found

A SKELETON uncovered in the ruins of a friary is the earliest physical evidence of a black person living in Britain in medieval times.

The remains of a man, found in the friary in Ipswich, Suffolk, which was destroyed by Henry VIII, have been dated to the 13th century.

It is the first solid indication that there were black people in Britain in the 1,000-year period between the departure of the Romans, who had African slaves, and the beginnings of the age of discovery in the 15th century.

Read the rest of this article...

Resurrected: woolly mammoth blood protein

Floating in a test tube in a lab in Winnipeg, Canada, is a tiny speck of woolly mammoth – a blood protein which may explain how the animals coped with the cold of an ice age.

It is one of the first proteins from a long-dead organism to be resurrected in a living cell. Other extinct animals, including Neanderthals, are sure to follow suit. Such techniques will make it possible to explore exactly how extinct animals lived, rather than making educated guesses based on reconstructed gene sequences.

Woolly mammoths died out about 3500 years ago. They shared an African ancestor with elephants around 7 million years ago, before moving north between 1 and 2 million years ago.

Read the rest of this article...

Medieval African discovered in England

A BBC documentary will be revealing that a medieval African lived in England in the thirteenth century and was buried in a friary in Ipswich. This is the earliest evidence that an African was living in the country since the Roman period.

The programme, History Cold Case, will be broadcasting its premiere episode on Thursday night on BBC 2. It follows a team of experts from the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee as they analyze a skeletons from history.

Read the rest of this article...

Swansea archaeologist works to send stolen artefacts home

LIKE Indiana Jones, Dr David Gill delights in getting his hands on precious antiquities.

But while his movie counterpart is often seen plucking priceless artefacts from ancient tombs, Dr Gill does the process in reverse – and sends the relics back to where they came from.

The Welsh academic works across the world in persuading museums to return ancient artefacts to Egypt, Italy, Greece and other countries suffering a plague of history looting.

Read the rest of this article...

Respect Your Elders, Human!

Neanderthals were using jewelry like ancient Yankees caps before Homo sapiens arrived, and hominids had kitchens and workshops nearly a million years ago.

We Homo sapiens consider ourselves pretty special, with our symbolic art, abstract thinking, and highly organized societies. But evidence is mounting that these hallmarks of modern human behavior may have existed in earlier hominids.

In Spanish caves once occupied by Neanderthals, archaeologist João Zilhão of the University of Bristol unearthed punctured scallop shells crusted with mineral pigments: Neanderthal jewelry. Painted with reds and yellows, the shells may have been worn as pendants, perhaps conveying social information about the wearer to other members of the group. “It’s like putting on your Yankees cap when you go to the stadium so people know who you are,” Zilhão says.

Read the rest of this article...

“Multiregionalism vs. Out of Africa”

John Hawks has a post up, Multiregional evolution lives!, in response to Rex Dalton’s reporting on Neandertal-human admixture. He notes:

These ongoing studies are concluding that present-day genetic variation is inconsistent with a simple model where a random-mating ancestral population gives rise to today’s global population by means of a staged out-of-Africa dispersal. They next look at a model with some substantial (possibly complete) isolation between ancient human populations followed by a subsequent out-of-Africa dispersal. They show that this model fits the data significantly better.
So far, so good.

Read the rest of this article...

Christian Archaeologist Casts Further Doubt on Ark 'Discovery'

An archaeologist who visited Mount Ararat with the Chinese and Turkish expedition team that now claims to have found the remains of Noah’s Ark says he has more reasons to believe that the “discovery” is fake than the team has proof that it’s real.

Among them are photos that he has of the inside of the “so-called Ark” that show cobwebs in the corners of the rafters – “something just not possible in these conditions.”

“To make a long story short: this is all reported to be a fake,” reported Dr. Randall Price, president for World of the Bible Ministries, in an e-mail to his ministry’s supporters following last week’s Ark announcement.

Read the rest of this article...

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Switch off TV and discover Carlisle's ancient soap opera

Tim Padley, keeper of archaeology at Carlisle’s Tullie House Museum enjoys talking about The Romans.

The Romans were like a soap opera, only a bit larger,” he says. So large, in fact, they’ve outgrown their current Tullie House home and there are now plans for a new Roman gallery to open at the museum next year which will showcase the immense Roman empire, its reaches and relevance to life today.

The gallery is, in part, inspired by the Millennium dig which began in 1999 in the grounds of Carlisle Castle, lasted three years, and uncovered a staggering 80,000 artefacts which were this week detailed in a 936-page report.

Read the rest of this article...