Sunday, June 29, 2014

4,000-Year-Old Burial with Chariots Discovered in South Caucasus

Here, the roof of a 4,000-year-old burial chamber buried in a Kurgan (mound) in the country of Georgia.
Credit: Photo courtesy Zurab Makharadze

An ancient burial containing chariots, gold artifacts and possible human sacrifices has been discovered by archaeologists in the country of Georgia, in the south Caucasus.

The burial site, which would've been intended for a chief, dates back over 4,000 years to a time archaeologists call the Early Bronze Age, said Zurab Makharadze, head of the Centre of Archaeology at the Georgian National Museum.

Archaeologists discoveredthe timber burial chamber within a 39-foot-high (12 meters) mound called a kurgan. When the archaeologists reached the chamber they found an assortment of treasures, including two chariots, each with four wooden wheels.

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More on Polish meteorite venerated by Neolithic man

Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology (IAE) PAS in Szczecin discovered a meteorite fragment inside the remains of a hut dating back more than 9,000 years in Bolków by the lake Świdwie in Western Pomerania. 

The meteorite fragment was found inside the remains of a hut dating back more than  9,000 years in Bolków by the lake Świdwie in Western Pomerania [Credit: T. Galińs] 

It is a natural pyrite meteorite fragment with cylindrical shape and porous, corrugated side surface. It has a height of 8 cm, width of 5.3 cm at the base and 3.5 cm at the top. 

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Découverte d’une tombe à char gauloise exceptionnelle à Warcq (Ardennes)

Une équipe mixte, composée d’archéologues de la cellule départementale d’archéologie des Ardennes et de l’Inrap, mène actuellement la fouille d’une tombe aristocratique gauloise à Warcq (Ardennes). Sur prescription de l’État (Drac Champagne-Ardenne), ce chantier est réalisé sur le tracé de l’autoroute A304, aménagé par la Dreal, entre Charleville-Mézières et Rocroi.

Depuis le 3 juin et pour une durée de trois semaines, archéologues et anthropologue dégagent cette « tombe à char ». Ce type de tombe aristocratique émerge dès le VIIe siècle avant notre ère – au cours du premier âge du Fer – et s’achève avec la fin de la période gauloise, au début de notre ère. Les chars les plus anciens sont équipés de 4 roues (comme celui de Vix) ; et de 2 roues au second âge du Fer. Le défunt, homme ou femme, est généralement inhumé sur le char, objet de prestige et symbole social. La Champagne-Ardenne est célèbre pour de telles découvertes (notamment Bourcq et Semide dans les Ardennes…) généralement datées du début du second âge du Fer (Ve-IVe siècles avant notre ère).

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Oldest ever schistosomiasis egg found may be first proof of early human technology exacerbating disease burden

Chalcolithic burial at Zeidan.
Credit: Gil Stein, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
The discovery of a schistosomiasis parasite egg in a 6200-year-old grave at a prehistoric town by the Euphrates river in Syria may be the first evidence that agricultural irrigation systems in the Middle East contributed to disease burden, according to new Correspondence published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by several species of flatworm parasites that live in the blood vessels of the bladder and intestines. Infection can result in anemia, kidney failure, and bladder cancer. This research shows it may have been spread by the introduction of crop irrigation in ancient Mesopotamia, the region along the Tigris-Euphrates river system that covers parts of modern-day Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey.

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Archaeo-astronomy steps out from shadows of the past

This week, a developing field of research that merges astronomical techniques with the study of ancient human-made features and the surrounding landscapes will be highlighted at the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM) 2014 in Portsmouth. From the 'Crystal Pathway' that links stone circles on Cornwall's Bodmin Moor to star-aligned megaliths in central Portugal, archaeo-astronomers are finding evidence that Neolithic and Bronze Age people were acute observers of the Sun, as well as the Moon and stars, and that they embedded astronomical references within their local landscapes. 

The Pipers Outliers to the main circles. When standing between the stones, one to the right and the other to the left, one looks North & South. When lining both up one faces East & West [Credit: B. Sheen] 

"There's more to archaeo-astronomy than Stonehenge," says Dr Daniel Brown of Nottingham Trent University, who will present updates on his work on the 4000-year-old astronomically aligned standing stone at Gardom's Edge in the UK's Peak District. 

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The logboats in the lake

A diver from the National Monuments Service’s Underwater Archaeology Unit records a 12m-long Bronze Age logboat at the bottom of Lough Corrib.

For up to 4,500 years, a series of sunken dug-out canoes have been lying, forgotten, on the bottom of Lough Corrib in Co. Galway. Now these vessels are beginning to surrender their secrets once more, in an investigation by Ireland’s Underwater Archaeology Unit, spearheaded by Karl Brady.
Precisely what happened that 11th century day on the waters of Lough Corrib is lost in the mists of time, but one thing is certain: it was an ignominious end to what should have been an ostentatious journey. Earlier, a Medieval Irish dignitary had set out across the vast lake – which covers 176km² of what is now Co. Galway – in a finely crafted logboat. Propelled by four rowers, the 6m-long vessel would have skimmed swiftly over the waters.
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During ongoing excavations of prehistoric settlements at Syltholm east of Rødbyhavn in Denmark, archaeologists have been investigating an area of land located on the periphery of a settlement. In the Mesolithic and Neolithic, the area was overgrown with reeds, but excavation has identified numerous tools and bones that prehistoric people had deliberately placed into this liminal zone.

Careful deposition in a Danish marshland

Interestingly, archaeologists have been able to recognise patterns in the way these artefacts are sorted by type and function and then deposited according to certain rules rather than just being randomly cast into the shallow water. The current understanding of this area is now more subtle than ever before as it is possible to separate different activities through time.
The main concentration lies around the first centuries of the Neolithic period (ca. 4000-3500 BC in this region) when technologies for the new way of life came to Denmark from Central Europe via Germany.

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Archaeologists search for new portal into bygone era

Iron Age combat sessions and an expert view on life in Leicestershire over 2000 years ago will be on offer at one of the county's most striking historic features, Burrough Hill, on Sunday 29 June. 

Archaeologists working on the stone wall in the SW corner of the hillfort 
[Credit: John Thomas/ University of Leicester] 

University of Leicester archaeologists have been uncovering the past and this summer will be undertaking the final season of excavations at Leicestershire's finest Iron Age hillfort. 

The nationally important hillfort, marked by dramatic earthworks, located near Melton Mowbray has been the setting for a five year research project which has helped redefine understanding of the hillforts use with the help and support of English Heritage and landowners the Ernest Cook Trust.

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Oldest human faeces show Neanderthals ate vegetables

The team collected the ancient faecal matter at the El Salt archaeological site in Spain

Analysis of the oldest reported trace of human faeces has added weight to the view that Neanderthals ate vegetables.
Found at a dig in Spain, the ancient excrement showed chemical traces of both meat and plant digestion.
An earlier view of these early humans as purely meat-eating has already been partially discredited by plant remains found in their caves and teeth.
The new paper, in the journal PLOS One, claims to offer the best support to date for an omnivorous diet.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Vindolanda dig unearths rare Roman gold coin

The coin, bearing the image of Emperor Nero, dates from AD 64-65

A rare gold coin bearing the image of Roman emperor Nero has been unearthed in Northumberland.

It is the first gold coin to be found at the Roman fort site of Vindolanda where archaeologists have been digging for more than 40 years.
Dr Andrew Birley, director of excavations, described it as a "special" find.
It is likely to be put on display at Vindolanda's museum once it has been fully researched and documented.
The coin was found by dig volunteer Marcel Albert, from Nantes in France.
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Demolitions reveal ancient Roman theater in Aegean town

The stage walls and entrance of a Roman-era amphitheater in İzmir’s Kadifekale neighborhood, once covered by expropriated shanty houses, have been unearthed due to the efforts of the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality.

The municipality has issued an order of expropriation on a 12,900-squaremeter area to unearth the ruins of the amphitheater. So far, 137 title deeds covering an area of 11,115 square meters have been purchased and 175 buildings have been demolished. The judicial process for the expropriation of the last 15 buildings in the area is ongoing, municipal officials noted.

Archeologists will start working in the area once the demolition is over.

HDN The most comprehensive information about the ancient theater in Kadifekale can be obtained in the studies of Austrian architects and archaeologists Otto Berg and Otto Walter, who conducted studies in the region in 1917 and 1918, from their plans and drawings. 

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Major dig planned at Battle of Hastings sites

One of the world’s top battlefield archaeologists is to lead an ambitious project which aims to finally unearth remains from the Battle of Hastings. 

Battle of Hastings re-enactment, Battle Abbey [Credit: Steve Hunnisett] 

Although the current site at Battle Abbey has been accepted as the correct location for the bloody clash for centuries, no archaeological evidence associated with the battle has ever been found on the site. 

Now English Heritage has asked Dr Glenn Foard, of Huddersfield University, to develop a project proposal with the hope of carrying out a major dig on the site. 

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'Prehistoric Sistine Chapel' gets world heritage status

There are more than 1,000 drawings inside the Decorated Cave of Pont d'Arc

A cave in southern France dubbed the "prehistoric Sistine Chapel" has been added to Unesco's World Heritage list.
The 1,000 drawings carved in the walls of the Decorated Cave of Pont d'Arc, or Grotte Chauvet, are 36,000 years old and include mammoths and hand prints.
Cave experts only discovered it in 1994 as the entrance had been concealed by a rockfall 23,000 years earlier.
It was one of several cultural and natural wonders granted the status by a committee of delegates in Doha, Qatar.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Dozens of cremation graves dating to around 400 AD; the start of the Great Migration period, are being studied at Łężany, northeastern Poland, by a team from the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw.
“A large number of graves with their unique contents shed a new light on the cultural image of the region during the Roman and Migration period” - explained Agnieszka Jaremek of the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw.

Cremated remains

The burial ground was discovered accidentally in Autumn 2012 during forestry work with the initial excavations starting last year.
The necropolis consisted of single graves with exclusively cremated human remains, the ashes were interred directly in the ground in either shallow scoops or in earthenware burial urns.

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Human and Chimp Genes May Have Split 13 Million Years Ago

The ancestors of humans and chimpanzees may have begun genetically diverging from one another 13 million years ago, more than twice as long ago as had been widely thought, shedding new light on the process of human evolution, researchers say.

Scientists also discovered that male chimps pass on far moregenetic mutations to their offspring than male humans do, revealing previously unknown evolutionary differences between the species.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

'Incredibly important' medieval find at Llanllyr, Ceredigion

Archaeologists working on the Llanllyr nunnery excavation

Archaeologists says they have discovered an "incredibly important" medieval convent, cemetery and Tudor mansion in Ceredigion.
The location of Llanllyr nunnery in the Aeron Valley had been a mystery until now.
Dr Jemma Bezant from University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) said it offered an unparalleled opportunity to find out more about monastic life.
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Mesolithic settlement found in North Yorkshire

Archaeologists were stunned to discover evidence of a Mesolithic settlement alongside the A1, which stretches 410 miles from London to Edinburgh. 

The route, which is now the A1 between London and Edinburgh, may have been in use for a  staggering 10,000 years, newly-discovered archaeological evidence suggests. Experts  have discovered ancient artefacts during the widening of the road through  North Yorkshire [Credit: North News & Pictures Ltd] 

The site, near Catterick in North Yorkshire, is believed to have been used by people travelling north and south as an overnight shelter, similar to today’s motorway service stations. 

Items discovered at the settlement include flint tools that date back to between 6000 and 8000 BC. 

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Archaeologists discover Britain's longest road to be 10,000 year old

Archaeologists were stunned to discover evidence of a Mesolithic settlement alongside the A1, which stretches 410 miles from London to Edinburgh.
The site, near Catterick in North Yorkshire, is believed to have been used by people travelling north and south as an overnight shelter, similar to today’s motorway service stations.
Items discovered at the settlement include flint tools that date back to between 6000 and 8000 BC.
Archaeologist Steve Sherlock said: “This was a place that people knew of – a place they could return to on many occasions to stay overnight during their travels. There is evidence of people using the route and moving through the area over periods of time. It is also adding to our knowledge of the early Mesolithic period, a time we don’t know very much about.
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TVAS News: North Berstead warrior burial, Bognor Regis

Archaeologists from TVAS have unearthed the grave of a warrior who died at around the time of Caesar's Gallic Wars, in the 50s BC.

The team, led by Andy Taylor, has been excavating in advance of a new housing development on behalf of Berkeley Homes (Southern) Limited and Persimmon Homes (South Coast) Limited.

These excavations have revealed Bronze age boundary ditches and occupation, a small hoard of four Middle Bronze Age bronze axes (palstaves), an Iron Age roundhouse and a Roman building, set amongst fields. But the chief interest lies in the finding of a rich, isolated burial, which is not part of a larger cemetery and is not otherwise distinguished from the rest of the site. The deceased, a mature male more than 30 years old, was laid out in a grave and was accompanied by grave goods.

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Preserving the Battle of Hastings from contamination

The Battle of Hastings is regularly fought all over again by enthusiastic re-enactors, before large crowds of spectators. The problem is that they are depositing material that could compromise the archaeology of the historic site. But now the University of Huddersfield's Dr Glenn Foard -- one of the world's leading battlefield archaeologists -- is developing a unique project designed to unearth whatever genuine material survives from 1066. 

The East Sussex 1066 site gets the vote as one of the world's 10 best historical re-enactments.  Hastings is described as "the most-remembered armed conflict in British history" and  the re-enactments every year now involve thousands of participants and spectators  around the world [Credit: University of Huddersfield] 

The first stage, likely to take place in spring 2015, would be to spend a week machining away the top layers of soil at a substantial area of the battlefield, in order to eliminate modern artefacts. Then there would be a search for genuine remains from the battle of 1066. 

An important dimension of the project would be public involvement. Trained archaeologists would carry out the actual survey, but there would be parallel sessions nearby, partly aimed at children and parents, which would provide insights into archaeology, including the use of metal detectors to survey a site.

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Monday, June 09, 2014


newly discovered female figurine amulet from Revninge in the east of Denmark represents a very interesting find due to her remarkably detailed Viking Age dress.
On April 22, 2014, Paul Uniacke had started to explore a field near Revninge with his metal detector – several items had already been recovered when to his astonishment a small fine figurine appeared. He instantly recognised it as Viking Age and immediately contacted Østfyns Museums, who confirmed his thoughts and started the process of conservation.

New knowledge

It is not always easy to imagine how people of the Viking age really looked. However, the discovery of this small gilt silver figurine contains a wealth of detail giving new knowledge about costume and jewellery of the period.
Archaeologist Claus Feveile, Department of Landscape & Archaeology at Østfyns Museums, explained, “Small characters from the Viking period are extremely rare and Revninge-woman’s dress is incredibly detailed which will contribute to the discussion on the appearance of clothes and how they might have been worn.”

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Medieval manholes: plumbers led the way in utility maintenance

The story of the medieval plumbers who maintained a complex water supply system, which was centuries ahead of its time, has been revealed by a historian. A unique network of subterranean tunnels, partly dating back to the 14th century, still lies beneath the streets of Exeter, Devon. These once channeled fresh drinking-water from springs outside the town-walls to public fountains at the heart of the city. "People from all social backgrounds relied on the system to provide their drinking water, so it was vital to keep it running smoothly. The city retained a plumber to carry out regular maintenance," said the author.

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3,000-year-old remains of baby found in Meath

3,000-year-old remains of a baby have been found during inaugural archaeological works at a Meath site reputed to be the birthplace of Halloween. The remains were found at the base of a 1.5 metre ditch at Tlachtga, near Athboy. 

The excavations at Tlachtga [Credit: Meath Chronicle] 

It’s believed the fully intact skeleton is of a baby between seven and 10 months old, but it is not thought the child was the victim of any human sacrifice on the ritualistic site. 

The remains will now be taken to the School of Archaeology at University College Dublin for further examination. 

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Human face shaped by millions of years of fighting, study finds

Human faces have evolved to minimise the damage caused by fist fight over millions of years, study finds

Evidence suggests that men's jaws have evolved to minimise damage from bruising altercations after our ancient ancestors learned how to throw a punch Photo: Alamy

Millions of years of fist fights have altered the human face to leave men's jaws more robust than women's, a study has found.
Evidence suggests it evolved to minimise damage from bruising altercations after our ancient ancestors learned how to throw a punch.
Researchers studied the bone structure of australopiths, ape-like bipeds living four to five million years ago that pre-dated the modern human primate family Homo.
They found that australopith faces and jaws were strongest in just those areas most likely to receive a blow from a fist.
It is a legacy that continues to this day, helping to explain why men's faces are more robust than women's, say the scientists.
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Male faces 'buttressed against punches' by evolution

The jaw bone is frequently fractured in fist fights and was strengthened in some of our evolutionary ancestors

A new theory suggests that our male ancestors evolved beefy facial features as a defence against fist fights.
The bones most commonly broken in human punch-ups also gained the most strength in early "hominin" evolution.
They are also the bones that show most divergence between males and females.
The paper, in the journal Biological Reviews, argues that the reinforcements evolved amid fighting over females and resources, suggesting that violence drove key evolutionary changes.
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Researchers to use exosuit to search Antikythera wreck

Using the latest advances in technology and robotics, archaeology will strive to extract more secrets from an ancient shipwreck that once yielded the unique Antikythera Mechanism, representing one of humanity's earliest steps on the road to high technology. 

A diver will fly around the wreck of an ancient Greek ship later this year, looking to shed  light on the Antikythera mechanism [Credit: Greek Reporter] 

The 2000-year-old artifact, dubbed the world's first 'analog' computer, was recovered from a Roman-era ship that foundered off the island of Antikythera in the early 20th century and was first discovered by a local sponge diver. This coming summer, according to a report in the June issue of "New Scientist", Greek and American researchers will return to explore the depths around the shipwreck using a diver wearing a robotic 'exoskeleton' dubbed "Exosuit".

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Une nécropole protohistorique à Marigny-le-Châtel, inhumations et incinérations

En amont de l’implantation par GRTgaz d’une importante canalisation de transport de gaz dite Arc de Dierrey  traversant la Champagne-Ardenne, une équipe de l’Inrap a mené une fouille sur le tracé de l’ouvrage au niveau de la commune de Marigny-le-Châtel (Aube) en avril 2014. Cette fouille de 1,5 hectare, prescrite par l’État (Drac Champagne-Ardenne), a révélé des monuments funéraires et des tombes datés de la fin du Bronze moyen et du début du Bronze final, soit environ 1350 avant notre ère. La nécropole compte une quarantaine de sépultures, inhumations et crémations confondues, associées à ces monuments funéraires. L’intérêt du site réside par ailleurs dans sa situation géographique, une zone de plateau peu sujette aux investigations archéologiques, contrairement aux vallées alluviales de la Seine et de l’Yonne au sein desquelles sont connus la plupart des sites de référence régionaux pour cette période.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

East Lothian skeleton may be 10th Century Irish Viking king

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop with part of the East Lothian skeleton which historians believe could be an Irish Viking king

A skeleton discovered on an archaeological dig in East Lothian may be a 10th Century Irish Viking who was king of Dublin and Northumbria.
King Olaf Guthfrithsson led raids on Auldhame and nearby Tyninghame shortly before his death in 941.
The remains excavated from Auldhame in 2005 are those of a young adult male who was buried with a number of items indicating his high rank.
They include a belt similar to others from Viking Age Ireland.
The find has led archaeologists and historians to speculate that the skeleton could be that of King Olaf or one of his entourage.
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