Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Unique Bronze Age find just south of Alingsås

Credit: Mats Hellgren

A unique Bronze Age find was made on 8 April in a wooded area just to the south of the town of Alingsås. Following an archaeological examination by among others Johan Ling, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Gothenburg among others, it has emerged that this is one of the most spectacular finds ever made in Sweden. It comprises around 50 artifacts that are all largely intact. These exclusive objects would have belonged to one or more high-status women in the Bronze Age. 

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Thursday, April 29, 2021

Citizen archaeologist discovers ancient ‘logboat’ in the Boyne Valley

Citizen archaeologist Anthony Murphy (pictured) appears to have found another potentially significant discovery in the Boyne Valley - a logboat that could date back to Neolithic times. Photo Ciara Wilkinson

A citizen archaeologist who discovered the world famous ‘Dronehenge’ near Newgrange, county Meath during the heatwave of 2018, appears to have found another potentially significant discovery in the Boyne Valley using a drone - a logboat that could date to Neolithic times.

Anthony Murphy said, “I went looking for a dolphin. I didn’t find him but I did find a logboat.”

Made by hollowing out a tree trunk, such logboats or dugout boats have, according to Dr Stephen Davis, UCD School of Archaeology, “an immensely long history of use in Ireland, with examples known from the Neolithic right the way up to Medieval times.” 

“Closer investigation will be able to show more - for example tool marks would be able to tell whether it was made with metal or stone tools, and radiocarbon dating give an approximate age,” he added.

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'Miracle' cave in South Africa may be the earliest known human dwelling EVER found, 1.8million-year-old stone tools suggest

The team explored layers deep within the ancient cave and were able to successfully establish the shift from Oldowan tools, sharp flakes and chopping tools, to early handaxes (pictured) over one million years ago 

Ancient tools found in a 'miracle' cave in South Africa suggest our earliest ancestors set up camp there more than 1.8 million years ago, according to palaeontologists. 

Experts from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem examined the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa's Kalahari Desert, delving down to ancient layers within the historic site.

Few places in the world preserve a continuous archaeological record spanning millions of years, but this is one such site. Its name means 'miracle' in Afrikaans.

The new study, including work by geologists and archaeologists, confirms the existence of human-made stone tools dating back 1.8 million years. 

This marks it as the earliest cave occupation in the world and the site of some of the earliest indications of fire use and tool making among prehistoric humans. 

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Is This 10,000-Year-Old Carving Europe’s Oldest Known Depiction of a Boat?

Arock carving discovered in Norway may be one of Europe’s earliest examples of art depicting a boat, reports Garry Shaw for the Art Newspaper.

The image, found in Valle, on the Efjorden fjord in Nordland County, appears to be a life-size representation of a boat made from sealskin, writes Jan Magne Gjerde, a scholar at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology.

Based on the height of the surrounding shoreline, which was higher in the Stone Age than it is today, Gjerde dates the art to between 10,000 and 11,000 years ago. That makes it one of the oldest images of a boat in the world. Previously, the oldest known depictions of boats in northern Europe dated to between 7,000 and 7,500 years ago.

The image—a white outline carved into a rock surface—was probably originally about 14 feet long. A portion of the drawing eroded away over time, and it is now only clearly visible under particular weather conditions. A second carving at the site also appears to show a boat, but just a small part of it remains.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Early bronze age tomb uncovered near Marlborough

James Cameron at the site of the tomb in East Kennett (left) and exposed lintel at the tomb (right)

 A rare archeological find has been unearthed on a farm in East Kennett.

Wiltshire archeologists say it is likely to be a 4,500-year-old megalithic tomb.

They have since surveyed the site, and believe there may be several more of them in the same field.

The burial chamber was discovered back in the summer when the Sarsen capstone collapsed and a small sink hole appeared in an arable field.

“For I ages I thought it was just another badger set but when I examined it more closely you can see that it is lined with stones and there is some kind of chamber there,” said farm owner James Cameron.

“It isn’t very big, probably a few metres square and dates from the Bronze Age.” 

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Mesolithic Double Burial Discovered In France

Mesolithic tomb of Casseneuil being cleared
[Credit: Frederic Prodeo, Willford O'yl, Inrap]

The Mesolithic covers a period of 5,000 years, and yet less than fifty burials from this period are known in France. One of them, containing two human remains, has been excavated by a team from Inrap in Casseneuil (a commune in the Lot-et-Garonne department in south-western France) since the beginning of March.

The Casseneuil burial site was discovered in 2008, during a preliminary inspection for the construction of a housing estate. The State (Drac Nouvelle-Aquitaine, regional archaeology service) commissioned the excavation, which is currently underway on a 1500 m² property. The radiocarbon dating recently obtained dates this double burial to around 9000 years before our era, i.e. an early period of the Mesolithic.

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Which Skills Were Valued in Early Neolithic Europe?


YORK, ENGLAND—According to a statement released by the University of York, a recent review of stone tools recovered from early Neolithic cemeteries across Europe suggests that men and women were buried with different sorts of implements, and may have therefore performed different work-related activities during their lifetimes. Archaeologist Penny Bickle said that tools found in women’s graves were used to work animal skins, while men’s tools were associated with hunting and conflict. Bickle suggests the differences in tools reflect the variety of skills needed by members of the community. The presence of the tools in the graves is evidence of the value given to all of the jobs, she added.

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Swan Songs

Courtesy Filip Ondrkál)

Bronze lamp, four views

From 1881 to 1890, in locations including modern Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, a number of very similar bronze bird figurines dating to the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages (ca. 1300–500 B.C.) were unearthed. For more than a century, it remained unclear how these artifacts were used, but their similarity was seen as evidence of shared cultural practices and beliefs across a large swath of Europe at this time. Now, a team studying a recently discovered bronze waterbird, perhaps a swan, from the site of Liptovský Hrádok in northern Slovakia, has determined that the artifact, and likely the other similar examples as well, was originally attached to a small chariot, filled with animal fat or vegetable oil and used as a lamp during burial rituals and ceremonial activities. 

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Little Foot fossil shows early human ancestor clung closely to trees

Little Foot was discovered in the 1990s in a cave in South Africa and is the most intact ancient skeleton of any human ancestor. Credit: Paul John Myburgh

A long-awaited, high-tech analysis of the upper body of famed fossil 'Little Foot' opens a window to a pivotal period when human ancestors diverged from apes, new USC research shows. 

Little Foot's shoulder assembly proved key to interpreting an early branch of the human evolutionary tree. Scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of USC focused on its so-called pectoral girdle, which includes collarbones, shoulder blades and joints.

Although other parts of Little Foot, especially its legs, show humanlike traits for upright walking, the shoulder components are clearly apelike, supporting arms surprisingly well suited for suspending from branches or shimmying up and down trees rather than throwing a projectile or dangling astride the torso like humans.Little Foot was discovered in the 1990s in a cave in South Africa and is the most intact ancient skeleton of any human ancestor. Credit: Paul John Myburgh

A long-awaited, high-tech analysis of the upper body of famed fossil 'Little Foot' opens a window to a pivotal period when human ancestors diverged from apes, new USC research shows. 

Little Foot's shoulder assembly proved key to interpreting an early branch of the human evolutionary tree. Scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of USC focused on its so-called pectoral girdle, which includes collarbones, shoulder blades and joints.

Although other parts of Little Foot, especially its legs, show humanlike traits for upright walking, the shoulder components are clearly apelike, supporting arms surprisingly well suited for suspending from branches or shimmying up and down trees rather than throwing a projectile or dangling astride the torso like humans.

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Sunday, April 18, 2021

“Mixing between modern humans and archaic hominins was a common phenomenon.”

Kutubu island in Papua New Guinea. Different ancient humans encountered each other in this region.Marc Dozier

Around 45,000 years ago, anatomically modern humans expanding into the Pacific region encountered archaic hominins on their journey. It wasn’t long before they started having sex with them. So much sex, that it continued for millennia.

What the humans didn’t know is they were picking up genes that would help them adapt to and survive island living. These genes continue to benefit people living in this region today, new research suggests.

The Pacific region is home to a deep history of early human evolution. However, genomic studies in the region are just emerging, says Etienne Patin, a human population geneticist with Institut Pasteur in France. Patin is the new study’s co-author.

“Today, 95 percent of genomic studies focus on European-descent individuals, while they represent only 16 percent of the human population,” Patin tells Inverse.

His research, published Thursday in the journal Nature, examines whether or not sex between modern humans and other species of humans facilitated the genetic adaption to island environments still observed in some Pacific Islanders today. This population has the highest levels of combined Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestry worldwide, the study suggests.

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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Ancient human migration into Europe revealed via genome analysis

The Bacho Kiro cave in Bulgaria. The research is based on analysis of several ancient human remains – including a whole tooth and bone fragments – found in a cave in Bulgaria last year. Photograph: Nikolay Doychinov/AFP via Getty Images

Genetic sequencing of human remains dating back 45,000 years has revealed a previously unknown migration into Europe and showed intermixing with Neanderthals in that period was more common than previously thought.

The research is based on analysis of several ancient human remains – including a whole tooth and bone fragments – found in a cave in Bulgaria last year.

Genetic sequencing found the remains came from individuals who were more closely linked to present-day populations in east Asia and the Americas than populations in Europe.

“This indicates that they belonged to a modern human migration into Europe that was not previously known from the genetic record,” the research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, said.

It also “provides evidence that there was at least some continuity between the earliest modern humans in Europe and later people in Eurasia”, the study added.

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How new discoveries in west Africa could rewrite pre-history

Archaeology in West Africa could rewrite the textbooks on human evolution.

Our species, Homo sapiens, rose in Africa some 300,000 years ago. The objects that early humans made and used, known as the Middle Stone Age material culture, are found throughout much of Africa and include a vast range of innovations.

Among them are bow and arrow technology, specialized tool forms, the long-distance transport of objects such as marine shells and obsidian, personal ornamentation, the use of pigments, water storage, and art. Although it is possible that other ancestors of modern humans contributed to this material culture in Africa, some of the earliest Middle Stone Age stone tools have been found with the oldest Homo sapiens fossils found so far.

The textbook view is that by around 40,000 years ago, the Middle Stone Age had largely ceased to exist in Africa. This was a milestone in the history of our species: the end of the first and longest lasting culture associated with humanity, and the foundation for all the subsequent innovations and material culture that defines us today.

Despite its central role in human history, we have little understanding of how the Middle Stone Age ended. Such an understanding could tell us how different groups were organized across the landscape, how they may have exchanged ideas and genes, and how these processes shaped the later stages of human evolution.

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The secret world of underwater archaeology


The Cosquer Cave's impressively well-preserved Stone Age paintings were only discovered in 1991. Researchers are always finding new treasures under water.

When the French diving instructor Henri Cosquer discovered in 1985 the access to a flooded cave at a depth of 37 meters (121 feet), during a diving tour in the Mediterranean off the coast of Marseille, he didn't know that it concealed an archaeological sensation.

He and his companions dived down to the entrance of the cave several times over the next few months. But it wasn't until 1991 that he managed to reach the main cave through a tunnel. It would later bear his name.

The narrow, stone-carved space was completely dry, its walls covered with mysterious prehistoric paintings.

The world's only underwater Stone Age cave

The archaeologists and scientists who later examined the cave found that the drawings were approximately 19,000 to 27,000 years old. The paintings mainly showed animals — seals, fish, horses, bison, mountain goats, sea birds — that were surprisingly lifelike.

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Russia Looking To Clone And Resurrect 3,000-Year-Old Ancient Siberian Warriors

PA/Russian Geological Society/vk.com

Russia’s defence minister has revealed his aspirations to clone ancient royal warriors and their horses in a Dolly the sheep-esque project.

Sergei Shoigu greenlit an archaeological dig at the 3,000-year-old Tunnug burial mound in the Valley of the Kings located in Tuva, Siberia, three years ago and apparently wants to clone the nomadic warriors that have been exhumed.

A modern-day shaman was reportedly drafted in to ensure the spirts weren’t angered by the site being dug up.

According to The Siberian Times, the oldest remains to have been discovered so far dates back to the ninth century BC.

At a Russian Geographical Society session on Wednesday, April 14, Shoigu said, ‘Of course, we would like very much to find the organic matter’, referring to the remains of the ancient people and animals.

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Ancient 'untouched' tomb discovered on Dingle Peninsula

The tomb was uncovered in recent days during land improvement works being carried out by a farmer

An ancient tomb, described by archaeologists as "untouched" and "highly unusual" has been discovered on the Dingle Peninsula in Co Kerry.

The tomb was uncovered in recent days during land improvement works being carried out by a farmer.

The National Monument Service has requested that the location of the structure should not be disclosed in order to prevent the possibility of disturbance.

The tomb was uncovered by a digger during land reclamation work when a large stone slab was upturned, revealing a slab-lined chamber beneath.

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Thursday, April 8, 2021

'Exciting' Stone Age discoveries in the Cairngorms

University of Aberdeen students at work to unearth the traces of the stone age inhabitants of the Cairngorms - UPPER DEE TRIBUTARIES PROJECT

New research has uncovered rare evidence of people living in Scotland's mountains after the end of the last Ice Age.

Archaeologists found stone tools and traces of firepits and possible shelters in Deeside in the Cairngorms.

Finds from the Mesolithic period, also known as the Middle Stone Age, are rare and usually made in lowland areas.

Archaeologists describe the evidence in the Cairngorms as "exciting".

The research, published in the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, adds to existing evidence from a handful of other upland sites.

These include on the mountain Ben Lawers in Perthshire and at locations in Lanarkshire and Dumfries.

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Details of prehistoric Galloway heartland discovered during work on A75 go online

The Iron Age structure uncovered by archaeologists during excavtion work on the new A75 bypass at Dunragit.

Details of a prehistoric Galloway heartland hidden for eight millennia have now been published online.

The major prehistoric treasure trove of a number of ancient sites, artefacts and cremated human remains were discovered in the region during the £17million A75 bypass works in 2014.

The “significant” finds were unearthed around Dunragit by GUARD Archaeology Ltd – working on behalf of Transport Scotland – and stretch across the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages.

As well as jewellery and cremation urns, they uncovered the earliest known Mesolithic house in south-west Scotland, Neolithic ceremonial structures, two Bronze Age cemeteries and an Iron Age village – which show the use of the land for both hunting and farming for more than 9,000 years.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Dig reveals 6,000-year-old salt hub in North Yorkshire

Excavations at the archeological site near Loftus in North Yorkshire

Neolithic people were manufacturing salt in Britain almost 6,000 years ago, before the building of Stonehenge and more than two millennia earlier than was first thought, a new archaeological discovery suggests.

Excavations at a site at Street House farm in North Yorkshire have revealed evidence of the earliest salt production site ever found in the UK and one of the first of its kind in western Europe, dating to around 3,800BC.

The finds, uncovered at a coastal hilltop site near Loftus, include a trench containing three hearths, broken shards of neolithic pottery, some still containing salt deposits, shaped stone artefacts and a storage pit – all key evidence of salt processing.

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Analysis of ancient bones reveals Stone Age diet details

Human skull of Mollet III at Serinyà from the ancient excavation.

Fish was not on the menu of the hunter-gatherers of southern Europe 27,000 years ago. Surprisingly, people on the Iberian Peninsula in the Late Gravettian period mostly ate plants and land animals such as rabbits, deer and horses. An international team of researchers has been able to determine this for the first time on the basis of an isotope study of human fossils from the Serinyà caves in Catalonia. The results of the investigation led by Dr. Dorothée Drucker, of the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (SHEP) at the University of Tübingen, and Joaquim Soler, from the Institute of Historical Research at the University of Girona, were published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

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Megaliths With Geometrical Engravings Found In France

Southern view of the megalithic sector under excavation
[Credit: Florent Notier, Inrap]

In 2018, in the commune of Massongy, a team of Inrap archaeologists excavated a small settlement and a vast megalithic complex from the Middle Neolithic period. Since then, laboratory work has revealed a great deal of information that complements the elements already collected in the field, revealing a site of exceptional importance.

The "Chemin des Bels" site is divided into two main zones: one corresponds to the traces of a village dated to the Middle Neolithic, the so-called "Cortaillod" culture; the other to a vast contemporary megalithic complex. The latter seems to be organised according to a very coherent plan with several phases of development. A large number of artefacts were found in the fill around a large recumbent slab 3.4 m long, 1.1 m wide and 1 m high, weighing around 5 tonnes. These objects show that the various stages of occupation of the site were fairly short (one to two centuries maximum).

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