Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Ancient remains from reindeer hunting and a forgotten trail in the Norwegian mountains found by glacial archaeologists

If you want to kill a reindeer with a bow and arrow you have to get as close to the animal as you possibly can. You probably can’t be further away than 10-20 metres. Which is difficult, with an animal that will flee at the smallest sound or movement.

The mountains and ice patches in Sandgrovskaret didn’t provide hiding places for the hunters, so they had to construct some.

40 such so-called hunting blinds – a rock wall shaped as a half circle that hunters would hide behind – were found when glacial archaeologists visited the site four years ago.

“This was a big hunting location”, archaeologist Espen Finstad says to

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Ground-breaking DNA study finds Vikings weren’t all Scandinavian

Researchers have shown that not all Vikings were from Scandinavia. 
(CREDIT: Lorado/Getty via VCG)

Invaders, pirates, warriors – the history books taught us Vikings were brutal predators who travelled by sea from Scandinavia to pillage and raid their way across Europe and beyond.

Now cutting-edge DNA sequencing of more than 400 Viking skeletons from archaeological sites scattered across Europe and Greenland will rewrite the history books as it has shown:

Skeletons from famous Viking burial sites in Scotland were actually local people who could have taken on Viking identities and were buried as Vikings.

Many Vikings actually had brown hair not blonde hair.

Viking identity was not limited to people with Scandinavian genetic ancestry. The study shows the genetic history of Scandinavia was influenced by foreign genes from Asia and Southern Europe before the Viking Age.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Child’s tooth ‘earliest known evidence of modern humans in western Europe’

The fossil of a child’s tooth is the earliest known evidence of modern humans in western Europe researchers say.

The discovery of the molar was made in a cave – known as Grotte Mandrin – in France’s Rhone Valley.

Researchers say the area also documents the first clear alternating occupation of a site by Neanderthals and early modern humans (Homo sapiens).

Apart from a possible indication in Greece during the Middle Pleistocene – approximately 760,000 to 126,000 years ago – the first settlements of modern humans in Europe have been constrained to around 45,000-43,000 years ago.

But the new evidence – the fossil of an upper molar from a modern human baby – pushes this date back by about 10,000 years, scientists say.

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Roman fort damaged by suspected illegal metal detecting

Experts are investigating suspected illegal metal detecting at a Roman fort.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said it is working with police after reports that a large number of holes have been dug at Bar Hill Fort, which forms part of the Antonine Wall Unesco world heritage site.

Many significant Roman artefacts have been discovered at the fort, which is more than 2,000 years old and formed part of the north-western frontier of the Roman Empire.

It is protected as a scheduled monument, meaning metal detecting and the removal of items from the site is illegal without prior consent and is subject to prosecution.

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Climate change threatens Hadrian's Wall treasures in England

Archaeologists at Hadrian's Wall in northern England say global warming could soon ruin undiscovered Roman artefacts.

Nineteen hundred years after it was built to keep out barbarian hordes, archaeologists at Hadrian's Wall are facing a new enemy -- climate change. It is threatening a vast treasure trove of ancient items.

The 118-kilometre stone wall is one of Britain's best-known historic tourist attractions. It crosses England from west coast to east coast, marking the limit of the Roman Empire and forming Britain's largest Roman archaeological feature. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Sunday, February 06, 2022

Viking Age boat burials: a history of research

Oseberg Viking ship

Viking Age boat burials: a history of research

Paper by Luna Polinelli

Given online by the Iceland Society of Archaeologists on February 3, 2022

Abstract: Boats form a subset of grave goods increasingly found in Viking Age burials, which have been the subject of much scholarly debate, especially from the 19th century onwards. Since the Middle Ages, it was generally known that Scandinavian people used to be buried in boats before the Christianisation, since mentions of this custom are found in the Icelandic sagas and in ibn Fadlan’s account.

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Thursday, February 03, 2022

Six-year-old Anglo-Saxon boy who lived in Cambridgeshire 1,400 years ago was infected with plague, meningitis and septic arthritis when he died.

Analysis of the remains of a six-year-old Anglo-Saxon unearthed in Cambridgeshire revealed that the poor boy had plague , meningitis and septic arthritis when he died. Pictured: the knee cap of the child, which was found to contain lesions caused by septic arthritis

Analysis of the remains of a six-year-old Anglo-Saxon unearthed in Cambridgeshire revealed that the poor boy had plague, meningitis and septic arthritis when he died.

The child — who was buried at Edix Hill sometime around 540–550 AD — was studied by a team of researchers led from the University of Tartu, Estonia.

Genetic analysis of a tooth sample revealed he had been infected with the bacteria Yersinia pestis, which causes plague, and Haemophilus influenza serotype b.

This is the earliest known case of H. influenza, which causes septic arthritis and was a major cause of infant death before a vaccine against it was created in 1977.

Today, this once-common childhood disease has been all but eradicated.

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