The Prehistoric Archaeology Blog is concerned with news reports featuring Prehistoric period archaeology. If you wish to see news reports for general European archaeology, please go to The Archaeology of Europe Weblog.
The tools includes sharp-edged flakes, hammers and anvils
The world's oldest stone tools have been discovered, scientists report.
They were unearthed from the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya, and date to 3.3 million years ago.
They are 700,000 years older than any tools found before, even pre-dating the earliest humans in the Homo genus.
The find, reported in Nature, suggests that more ancient species, such asAustralopithecus afarensis or Kenyanthropus platyops, may have been more sophisticated than was thought.
"They are significantly earlier than anything that has been found previously," said Dr Nick Taylor, from the National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS) in France and the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.
An archeological dig in Pocklington has unearthed a prehistoric man buried with a shield. The skeleton was found in one of the square barrows at the recently discovered Iron Age burial ground on Burnby Lane, which is where developer David Wilson Homes is planning to build 77 new houses. MAP Archaeological Practice, the company which is carrying out the excavation work, says it has also discovered a man “of an impressive stature.” The site has so far yielded more than 38 square barrows and in excess of 82 burials. Read the rest of this article...
At the archaeological investigations ahead of the construction of the future Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link, archaeologists from Museum Lolland-Falster have found an object that attracts particular attention. Jammed into the marine sediments was the head part of a fragmented fishing leister consisting of parts from both lateral prongs and a bone point slightly offset between them. It has long been presumed that there was a link between leister prongs and bone points, but this is probably the first time the connection has been documented in practice. The find thus confirms a theory that has been supported by archaeologists for decades, and which has been indicated by anthropological examples as well.
The Stone Age fishing leister, as it was found [Credit: Museum Lolland-Falster]
"It is quite amazing that we have made a find that can help prove an old theory. So far, we have found a large number of individual leister prongs and bone points, but when we found them combined, it was quite remarkable. At last we are able to positively confirm the old theory because of this find," says Søren Anker Sørensen archaeologist at Museum Lolland-Falster.
A stunning replica of the 36,000 year-old Grotte Chauvet, home to the oldest figurative cave drawings in the world and an Unesco Heritage site, opened to the public at the weekend. Here's a look inside the country's latest tourist attraction.
The grotto at Vallon-Pont d'Arc in the Ardeche region of southern France, is a reproduction of the closely guarded Grotte Chauvet, which was granted World Heritage status last year.
The French president had already officially inaugurated the museum earlier this month and it officially opened to the public on Saturday.
The replica cave, which took a team of scientists two and a half years to create, will enable tourists from around the world to continue to see the frescos of painted animals without damaging the original cave.
Neanderthals went extinct in most of Europe around 40,000 years ago, some 5,000 years after the arrival of the first modern humans. “The issue of Neanderthal extinction is very complex, and very little is agreed upon,” Anna Goldfield of Boston University said at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, reported in Live Science. She thinks that mastery of fire may have given modern humans an advantage over Neanderthals in the struggle for survival. Cooking would have provided modern humans with more calories from the same amount of food, and it kills bacteria, making the food safer to eat. Read the rest of this article...
In 2012, a detailed report of prehistoric cannibalism in Gough’s cave in Cheddar Gorge (Somerset), UK, attracted media attention with thenews that a group of prehistoric humans, otherwise known as Magdalenians, systematically and ritualistically consumed and utilized the remains of members of their own group about 14,700 years ago.
Now, a new report published in the Journal of Human Evolution sheds additional light on the discovery, narrowing the time frame in which the cannibalistic events took place and the extent of the activity.
(The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London)
Ancient human remains from Gough’s Cave, located in southwest England, exhibit signs of a sophisticated culture of butchering and carving of human remains, according to scientists from the Natural History Museum of London, University College London, and IPHES and the Universitat Rovira I Virgili in Spain. In 2011, scientists from the museum announced that the earliest-known skull cups had been found in Gough’s Cave. “We’ve identified a far greater degree of human modification than recorded in earlier research. We’ve found undoubting evidence for defleshing, disarticulation, human chewing, crushing of spongy bone, and the cracking of bones to extract marrow,” Silvia Bello of the Natural History Museum said in a press release. Read the rest of this article...
Untersuchungen von altem Zahnstein ergaben, dass Menschen bereits in der Altsteinzeit Pflanzen und Pilze konsumierten. Über die Nahrungsgewohnheiten der Menschen, die im Jungpaläolithikum, dem jüngeren Abschnitt der Altsteinzeit vor 18.000 bis 12.000 Jahren während der archäologischen Kulturstufe des Magdaléniens lebten, ist nur wenig bekannt. Besonders schwer lassen sich pflanzliche Nahrungsstoffe nachweisen, denn sie hinterlassen nur geringe Spuren im menschlichen Körper. Unter der Leitung von Robert Power vom Max-Planck-Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie in Leipzig hat ein internationales Forscherteam den uralten Zahnstein von Menschen aus dem Magdalénien untersucht, deren Überreste man in der El Mirón-Höhle in Spanien ausgegraben hatte. Die Forscher konnten nachweisen, dass diese Menschen bereits im Jungpaläolithikum zusätzlich zu anderen Nahrungsbestandteilen auch verschiedene pflanzliche Nahrungsstoffe und Pilze auf der Speisekarte hatten. Read the rest of this article...
Aalysis of ancient cadavers recovered at a famous archaeological site confirm the existence of a sophisticated culture of butchering and carving human remains, according to a team of scientists from the Natural History Museum, University College London, and a number of Spanish universities.
Gough's Cave in Somerset was thought to have given up all its secrets when excavations ended in 1992, yet research on human bones from the site has continued in the decades since. After its discovery in the 1880s, the site was developed as a show cave and largely emptied of sediment, at times with minimal archaeological supervision. The excavations uncovered intensively-processed human bones intermingled with abundant butchered large mammal remains and a diverse range of flint, bone, antler, and ivory artefacts.
New radiocarbon techniques have revealed remains were deposited over a very short period of time, possibly during a series of seasonal occupations, about 14,700 years ago.
Emory Health Sciences—The ability to make a Lower Paleolithic hand axe depends on complex cognitive control by the prefrontal cortex, including the "central executive" function of working memory, a new study finds.
PLOS ONE published the results, which counter theories that Stone Age hand axes are simple tools that don't involve higher-order executive function of the brain.
"For the first time, we've showed a relationship between the degree of prefrontal brain activity, the ability to make technological judgments, and success in actually making stone tools," says Dietrich Stout, an experimental archeologist atEmory University and the leader of the study. "The findings are relevant to ongoing debates about the origins of modern human cognition, and the role of technological and social complexity in brain evolution across species."
Since the Marillac site in France was unearthed, the discovery of fossil remains of animals (90% belonging to reindeer), humans and Mousterian tools has enabled the site to be identified as a hunting area for Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis). But the most surprising thing about the site is the presence of a large quantity of bone remains of these hominids, many of which are yet to be analysed. Now, a study published in the ‘American Journal of Physical Anthropology’ has for the first time analysed the fragments of three individuals found between 1967 and 1980 at the French site dating back some 57,600 years. These are an incomplete diaphysis (middle part of long bones) of a right radius, another of a left fibula and the majority of a right femur. The latter belonged to a child. Read the rest of this article...
It had been thought that the nomadic hunter-gatherers of Britain’s Mesolithic period may have abandoned their dead, but a deposit containing cremated human bone was uncovered by a team from Oxford Archaeology in southeastern England. The bone probably represents at least one adult, whose remains were recovered with a large amount of charcoal, perhaps from a pyre that would have had to have reached a high temperature to achieve the complete combustion of the corpse. “We were expecting this cremation to date to the Bronze Age: we were so surprised when the first radiocarbon date came back as Mesolithic that we did two more to double check!” said Nick Gilmour, excavation leader. Sharp flint blades were found in the same pit, and although they were not finished tools, they could have been used for cutting. Three similar Mesolithic cremations are known in Ireland, and several have been found in continental Europe. For another find dating to this period, see "Beachcombing in the Mesolithic." Read the rest of this article...