Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New bog body found in Rossan, Co. Meath

New bog body remains (photo National Museum of Ireland)

Exciting news. The partial remains of a bog body has been uncovered in Rossan bog near Kinnegad in Co. Meath. The find was discovered by Bord na Móna workers and subsequently excavated by a team of archaeologists, led by Maeve Sikora of the National Museum of Ireland. Although as yet undated the remains were found in an area that has previously produced bog body remains (Moydrum Man) that were radiocarbon dated to the Early Iron Age (700-400 BC).

This latest addition to growing a corpus of Irish bog bodies will hopefully reveal as much information as two recent peat land discoveries. These aforementioned bog bodies, Old Croghan man and Clonycavan man, form the centre piece of the excellent Kingship and Sacrifice display at the National Museum of Ireland. What is striking about these remains is their fantastic state of preservation, something which is characteristic of bog bodies in general. This is primarily due to the cold, acidic, oxygen-free conditions that persist beneath peat bogs and which prevent decay and mummify human flesh.

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Groundwater tied to human evolution

Insert shows with arrow the location of study area in eastern Africa. Map of the Northern Tanzanian Divergence Zone depicts the East African Rift System (EARS), containing Lake Natron (north), diverging around the Ngorongoro Volcanic Highland massif and splitting into two separate rift valleys (Lake Eyasi on west) and Lake Manyara (on east). Prevailing wind is from the east. Olduvai basin lies to the west of and in the rain shadow of Ngorongoro.
Credit: Map made by Sara Mana, http://www.geomapapp.org; from Cuthbert et al., doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107358.g001

Our ancient ancestors' ability to move around and find new sources of groundwater during extremely dry periods in Africa millions of years ago may have been key to their survival and the evolution of the human species, a new study shows.
The research -- published in the journal PLOS ONE -- combines geological evidence from the Olduvai sedimentary basin in Northern Tanzania, which formed about 2.2 million years ago, and results from a hydrological model.
It shows that while water in rivers and lakes would have disappeared as the climate changed due to variations in Earth's orbit, freshwater springs fed by groundwater could have stayed active for up to 1000 years without rainfall.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

NEOLITHIC NECROPOLIS CONTAINS TWENTY MONUMENTAL TOMBS

Hypothetical reconstruction of the plain occupied by the cemetery. © Laurent Juhel / Inrap

team of archaeologists is currently conducting excavation work on 20 hectares of land in Fleury-sur-Orne (northwestern France), which is earmarked for residential development. This site has revealed an important Middle Neolithic (4500 BC) necropolis containing twenty monuments and some intact burials.
During the Middle Neolithic new types of monuments appear: constructions of earth and wood, varying in length from a few dozen to several hundred metres. These monumental tombs, the first of their kind are called “Passy” – named after the eponymous site found in Yonne (Burgundy).

Monumental funerary architecture

These large, elongated structures are bounded by ditches which may be associated with fences, and a mound entombs the deceased. In a break with past traditions, these large monuments suggest that a type of hierarchy has been introduced into society.
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Stonehenge researchers discover site is much larger than previously thought

Stonehenge. Photograph: Geert Verhoeven/University of Bi/PA
Stonehenge stood at the heart of a sprawling landscape of chapels, burial mounds, massive pits and ritual shrines, according to an unprecedented survey of the ancient grounds.
Researchers uncovered 17 new chapels and hundreds of archaeological features around the neolithic standing stones on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, including forms of monuments that have never been seen before.
Brought together for the first time in a digital map of the historic site, the discoveries transform how archaeologists view a landscape that was reshaped by generations for hundreds of years after the first stones were erected around 3100BC.
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Une nécropole du Néolithique moyen à Fleury-sur-Orne


Une équipe d’archéologues de l’Inrap mène actuellement, sur prescription de l’État (Drac Basse-Normandie), une fouille de 20 hectares à Fleury-sur-Orne, dans le cadre de l’aménagement de quartiers d’habitation par Normandie Aménagement et l’agglomération de Caen-la-Mer. Le site révèle une importante nécropole du Néolithique moyen (4500 avant notre ère) contenant une vingtaine de monuments funéraires dont un tertre encore intact.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Archaeologists Find Humans Were Eating Snails 30,000 Years Ago


Paleolithic humans of present-day Spain may have eaten snails as much as 30,000 years ago, or 10,000 years earlier than inhabitants of Mediterranean regions, according to research by Javier Fernández-López de Pablo from Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social and colleagues.
The researchers discovered land snail shell remains dated to about 30,000 years ago at the site of Cova de la Barriada, Spain. Groupings of complete shells from a large land snail species were found in three areas of the site, corresponding to different time points. They studied these remains by investigating patterns indicating likley land snail selection, consumption, and accumulation at the site, and then analyzed the shells' decay, fossilization process, composition, and age at death by measuring the shell sizes.
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Humans Did Not Wipe Out the Neanderthals, New Research Suggests


Neanderthals went extinct in Europe about 40,000 years ago, giving them millennia to coexist with modern humans culturally and sexually, new findings suggest.

This research also suggests that modern humans did not cause Neanderthals to rapidly go extinct, as some researchers have previously suggested, scientists added.

Neanderthals are the closest extinct relatives of modern humans, and lived in Europe and Asia. Recent findings suggest that Neanderthals were closely related enough to interbreed with ancestors of modern humans — about 1.5 to 2.1 percent of the DNA of anyone outside Africa is Neanderthal in origin.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

New dates rewrite Neanderthal story

Our ancestors may have passed on technological innovations to the Neanderthals

Modern humans and Neanderthals co-existed in Europe 10 times longer than previously thought, a study suggests.
The most comprehensive dating of Neanderthal bones and tools ever carried out suggests that the two species lived side-by-side for up to 5,000 years.
The new evidence suggests that the two groups may even have exchanged ideas and culture, say the researchers.
The study has been published in the journal Nature.
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Before they left Africa, early modern humans were 'culturally diverse'

A new study provides fresh insights into the life of early modern humans before they left Africa following a massive comparative study of stone tools.

Researchers have carried out the biggest ever comparative study of stone tools dating to between 130,000 and 75,000 years ago found in the region between sub-Saharan Africa and Eurasia. They have discovered there are marked differences in the way stone tools were made, reflecting a diversity of cultural traditions. The study has also identified at least four distinct populations, each relatively isolated from each other with their own different cultural characteristics.

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Archaeologists compare Neolithic Kent site to Stonehenge, find Bronze Age funerary monument


A Neolithic ditch which became a huge funerary monument when it was enlarged with an outer ring during the Bronze Age has been found on housing development grounds in Kent


Archaeologists suspect a “sacred way” could have led to a henge 6,000 years ago at Iwade Meadows, to the west of the Kent industrial town of Sittingbourne.

Positioned on a north-west slope, the 30-metre diameter structure is one of several prehistoric monuments on a north-west slope above the Ridham fleet stream running through the centre of the site.

“Its purpose is not known,” says Dr Paul Wilkinson, of excavators SWAT Archaeology.


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Remains of at least two bodies found in ancient grave

Archaeologist Paul Murtagh excavating the Bronze Age burial cist in which the remains of at least two bodies were found


Archaeologists have discovered the remains of at least two bodies in a Bronze Age burial cist in a remote area of the west Highlands.

They were previously aware of one body in the ancient grave on the Ardnamurchan peninsula but they have now found more bones than could belong to another person.

A skull found during an earlier archaeological dig at Swordle in 2010 was dated as being from around 1700BC.

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Mystery of the ancient Gauls found dumped in a pit


Eight skeletons including two of children dating back to the Iron Age have been found in good condition in France. 

Eight skeletons dating back to about 500BC have been found in an ancient  grain silo near a Celtic salt mining site in Marsal, eastern France  [Credit: AFP/Getty Images] 

The extraordinary archaeological discovery was made in Marsal, in the east of the country, in the Lorraine region, close to the border with Germany. 

Dating back to around 500BC, all were exhumed from a wet, boggy area which was once the site of extensive salt mines, but is now surrounded by an industrial estate. 

It is excavated most summers by a team led by Laurent Olivier, curator of the National Archaeological Museum at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris.

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Découverte d’une occupation néandertalienne en bord de Saône


Une séquence stratigraphique exceptionnelle


Ce site préhistorique est implanté sur une butte lœssique dominant l’ancien lit de la Saône. Unique en Rhône-Alpes, cette séquence sédimentaire qui associe des dépôts d’origines fluviatile et éolienne, renseigne sur l’évolution de la Saône durant le Pléistocène supérieur (128 000-11 000 ans). Initialement haute de 8 m, elle est constituée d’une succession de paléosols et de lœss : le plus ancien, épais de plus de 2 m, est daté entre 55 000 
et 35 000 ans, c’est-à-dire durant la fin du Paléolithique moyen. La fouille révèle une faune riche répartie sur trois niveaux et associée à des silex taillés abandonnés par les Néandertaliens.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Major finds unearthed on Hinkley bypass dig


Important finds dating back to the Iron Age and Roman period have been uncovered at the site of a new bypass to be built as part of the Hinkley C project. 


Archaeologists working at the site of the Cannington bypass  [Credit: Latitude Photography] 

Archaeologists working at the site of the Cannington bypass revealed their discoveries to local residents on Thursday when EDF Energy and Somerset County Council invited local stakeholders to take a look. 

The dig is being carried out at the site of a planned Cannington bypass which will be built to help serve the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. 

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Greek tomb at Amphipolis is 'important discovery'

Archaeologists know that major events took place in the area in the years after Alexander's death

Archaeologists unearthing a burial site at Amphipolis in northern Greece have made an "extremely important find", says Greek PM Antonis Samaras.
Experts believe the tomb belonged to an important figure dating back to the last quarter of the Fourth Century BC.
A large mound complex has been unearthed at the Kasta hill site in the past two years.
Lead archaeologist Katerina Peristeri said it certainly dated from after the death of Alexander the Great.
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Friday, August 8, 2014

Europe's oldest village sought under Greek bay

PlanetSolar press officer Julia Tames walks across the deck of the MS Turanor PlanetSolar,

The world's largest solar-powered boat has arrived in southern Greece to participate in an ambitious underwater survey that will seek traces of what could be one of the oldest human settlements in Europe.
The Swiss-Greek project starts next week and archaeologists hope it will shed new light on how the first farming communities spread through the continent.
Working near a major prehistoric site, they will investigate a bay aptly called Kiladha — Greek for valley. The area was once dry land and archaeologists operating off the MS Turanor PlanetSolar hope it may contain sunken remains of buildings from Neolithic times, when farming started, about 9,000 years ago.
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Fowl play: Neanderthals were first bird eaters (Update)

Cut-marked bone (ulna) of Rock Dove specimens from Gorham’s Cave 
Credit: Ruth Blasco et al., Scientific Reports

Neanderthals may have caught, butchered and cooked wild pigeons long before modern humans became regular consumers of bird meat, a study revealed on Thursday.
Close examination of 1,724 bones from rock doves, found in a cave in Gibraltar and dated to between 67,000 and 28,000 years ago, revealed cuts, human tooth marks and burns, said a paper in the journal Scientific Reports.
This suggested the doves may have been butchered and then roasted, wrote the researchers—the first evidence of hominids eating birds.
And the evidence suggested Neanderthals ate much like a latter-day Homo sapiens would tuck into a roast chicken, pulling the bones apart to get at the soft flesh
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