Friday, July 19, 2019

Stone tool changes may show how Mesolithic hunter-gatherers responded to changing climate

Reconstruction of a Mesolithic camp-site with a hunter in the front ready to fire an arrow
 mounted with stone microliths [Credit: Ulco Glimmerveen]

The development of new hunting projectiles by European hunter-gatherers during the Mesolithic may have been linked to territoriality in a rapidly-changing climate, according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Philippe Crombé from Ghent University, Belgium.

As a result of warming occurring at a rate of ca. 1.5 to 2°C per century, hunter-gatherers in Europe during the Mesolithic era (approximately 11,000-6,000 years ago) experienced significant environmental changes, very similar to the ones we face today: rising sea levels, increased drought, plant and animal migrations and wildfires. Here, Crombé examined microliths, small stone arrowheads/barbs used in hunting, to see how their design and usage by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers shifted in conjunction with climatic and environmental changes.

Building on archaeological research from the last two decades, Crombé used Bayesian modelling to reveal potential correlations between 228 radiocarbon dates specific to Mesolithic sites along the southern North Sea basin and the different types and shapes of microliths (triangles, crescents, leaf-shaped and mistletoe-shaped microliths, trapezes, etc.) found at these sites.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Archaeology Anthropology Palaeontology Evolution Exhibitions Natural Heritage Astronomy Out of Africa and into an archaic human melting pot

A map showing where the ancestors of modern humans appear to have met and mixed
with archaic hominins [Credit: University of Adelaide]

Genetic analysis has revealed that the ancestors of modern humans interbred with at least five different archaic human groups as they moved out of Africa and across Eurasia.


While two of the archaic groups are currently known - the Neanderthals and their sister group the Denisovans from Asia ¬- the others remain unnamed and have only been detected as traces of DNA surviving in different modern populations. Island Southeast Asia appears to have been a particular hotbed of diversity.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) have mapped the location of past "mixing events" (analysed from existing scientific literature) by contrasting the levels of archaic ancestry in the genomes of present-day populations around the world.


Read the rest of this article...

Maternal secrets of our earliest ancestors unlocked

Australopithecus africanus impression by Jose Garcia and Renaud Joannes-Boyau, Southern Cross University
[Credit: Jose Garcia and Renaud Joannes-Boyau, Southern Cross University]

Analysis of more than two-million-year-old teeth from Australopithecus africanus fossils found in South Africa have revealed that infants were breastfed continuously from birth to about one year of age. Nursing appears to continue in a cyclical pattern in the early years for infants; seasonal changes and food shortages caused the mother to supplement gathered foods with breastmilk. An international research team led by Dr Renaud Joannes-Boyau of Southern Cross University, and by Dr Luca Fiorenza and Dr Justin W. Adams from Monash University, published the details of their research into the species in the journal Nature.

"For the first time, we gained new insight into the way our ancestors raised their young, and how mothers had to supplement solid food intake with breastmilk when resources were scarce," said geochemist Dr Joannes-Boyau from the Geoarchaeology and Archaeometry Research Group (GARG) at Southern Cross University.

"These finds suggest for the first time the existence of a long-lasting mother-infant bond in Australopithecus. This makes us to rethink on the social organisations among our earliest ancestors," said Dr Fiorenza, who is an expert in the evolution of human diet at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI)
Read the rest of this article...

Stonehenge may have been built using pig fat

Fat residues on shards of pottery found at Durrington Walls, near Stonehenge, have long been assumed to be connected with feeding the many hundreds of people that came from across Britain to help construct the ancient monument.
But, new analysis by archaeologists at Newcastle University, UK, suggests that because the fragments came from dishes that would have been the size and shape of buckets, not cooking or serving dishes, they could have been used for the collection and storage of tallow—a form of animal fat.

Dr. Lisa-Marie Shillito, Senior Lecturer in Landscape Archaeology, Newcastle University, said: "I was interested in the exceptional level of preservation and high quantities of lipids—or fatty residues—we recovered from the pottery. I wanted to know more about why we see these high quantities of pig fat in pottery, when the animal bones that have been excavated at the site show that many of the pigs were 'spit roasted' rather than chopped up as you would expect if they were being

Read the rest of this article...

'Stunning' decorated Neolithic stone discovered in Orkney

The decorated stone was discovered on Monday
Ness of Brodgar

Archaeologists have uncovered what they describe as a "stunning example" of Neolithic decorate stone in Orkney.

The notch-marked slab was discovered at Ness of Brodgar, the location of a well-preserved and sophisticated complex of stone buildings.

The site was built and occupied by people more than 5,000 years ago.

Archaeological excavations began at Ness of Brodgar more than 15 years ago and the site covers an area of about six acres (2.5 ha).

The decorated stone was found on Monday, followed by further discoveries of smaller carved stones during the rest of the week

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, July 11, 2019

A reconstruction of Apidima 2, which was shown to be a Neanderthal skull. A far older skull fragment, Apidima 1, was also assumed to be Neanderthal, but scientists now say it belonged to a modern human.
CreditCreditKaterina Harvati, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen

The bone, found in a cave, is the oldest modern human fossil ever discovered in Europe. It hints that humans began leaving Africa far earlier than once thought.
A skull fragment found in the roof of a cave in southern Greece is the oldest fossil of Homo sapiens ever discovered in Europe, scientists reported on Wednesday.

Until now, the earliest remains of modern humans found on the Continent were less than 45,000 years old. The skull bone is more than four times as old, dating back over 210,000 years, researchers reported in the journal Nature.

The finding is likely to reshape the story of how humans spread into Europe, and may revise theories about the history of our species.


Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Cannonballs, skulls and jewellery: Archaeologists discover 'Bronze Age relics' in Edinburgh city centre, delaying Richard Branson’s new hotel

Building of first Virgin Hotel in Britain has been delayed for a year after archaeologists at the Edinburgh site unearthed artefacts dating back 1,000 years ( Jon Savage /SWNS ) 

The opening of Sir Richard Branson‘s first Virgin Hotel in Britain has been delayed by a year after archaeologists at the site unearthed artefacts dating back 1,000 years.

The excavation in Edinburgh has lasted more than a year, three times longer than expected, due to the range of objects and material discovered from the 10th century.

Experts say the remains of buildings found predate Edinburgh Castle and the creation of the town burgh by David I by around 200 years.

The work has also unearthed ditches and walls marking the original boundary of the city and some of the discoveries could date as far back as the Bronze Age.


Read the rest of this article...

The first Europeans weren’t who you might think


Genetic tests of ancient settlers' remains show that Europe is a melting pot of bloodlines from Africa, the Middle East, and today's Russia.
The idea that there were once “pure” populations of ancestral Europeans, there since the days of woolly mammoths, has inspired ideologues since well before the Nazis. It has long nourished white racism, and in recent years it has stoked fears about the impact of immigrants: fears that have threatened to rip apart the European Union and roiled politics in the United States.

Now scientists are delivering new answers to the question of who Europeans really are and where they came from. Their findings suggest that the continent has been a melting pot since the Ice Age. Europeans living today, in whatever country, are a varying mix of ancient bloodlines hailing from Africa, the Middle East, and the Russian steppe.

The evidence comes from archaeological artifacts, from the analysis of ancient teeth and bones, and from linguistics. But above all it comes from the new field of paleogenetics. During the past decade it has become possible to sequence the entire genome of humans who lived tens of millennia ago. Technical advances in just the past few years have made it cheap and efficient to do so; a well-preserved bit of skeleton can now be sequenced for around $500.

The result has been an explosion of new information that is transforming archaeology. In 2018 alone, the genomes of more than a thousand prehistoric humans were determined, mostly from bones dug up years ago and preserved in museums and archaeological labs. In the process any notion of European genetic purity has been swept away on a tide of powdered bone.


Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Late Iron Age chariot pieces found in Pembrokeshire

Archaeologists discovered bronze artefacts, the iron tyres of the chariot wheels and an iron sword
MUSEUM WALES

Archaeologists have discovered more artefacts at the first Celtic chariot burial site to be found in southern Britain.

Two iron tyres and a sword from the chariot were retrieved during an excavation in Pembrokeshire.

The exact site remains a secret and follows the discovery of decorative objects by a metal detector enthusiast on the same land in February 2018.

National Museum Wales is conserving the chariot pieces.

Archaeologists had suspected they would uncover more beneath the farmland where metal detectorist Mike Smith found a number of objects associated with a chariot.

Following an initial investigation in June 2018 by archaeologists from National Museum Wales and Dyfed Archaeological Trust, a dig was carried out in March and April, funded by National Museum Wales, Cadw and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Read the rest of this article...

Ancient Humans Dietary Habits Reflected In Bonobo Aquatic Greens Diet


Bonobos have been spotted doing something interesting in the Congo basin. They are scouring the swamp in search of aquatic herbs that are packed with iodine, a nutrient that is very important for advancing the growth of higher cognitive abilities. That could help scientists understand the nutritional needs and practices of ancient humans. The Bonobo consumption of food rich in iodine is the first-ever recorded by a species other than humans.

“Our results have implications for our understanding of the immigration of prehistoric human populations into the Congo basin,” Dr. Gottfried Hohmann, the lead author of the study comments.

“Bonobos as a species can be expected to have similar iodine requirements to humans, so our study offers—for the first time—a possible answer on how pre-industrial human migrants may have survived in the Congo basin without artificial supplementation of iodine,” the researcher added.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, June 17, 2019

Britain’s Atlantis: Evidence of Stone Age human activity found beneath North Sea

Archaeologists have found evidence of ancient human activity on Britain’s very own “Atlantis”. 

Scientists investigating a drowned Stone Age landscape at the bottom of the North Sea have discovered two potential prehistoric settlement sites on the banks of a long-vanished ancient river.


It is the first time that an archaeological expedition has ever found such evidence far offshore under the huge body of water. 


In the past, prehistoric artefacts have on occasions been trawled up by fishermen and found by oil exploration teams – but the seabed contexts they came from were never archaeologically assessed.


This time, the discoveries are part of a systematic archaeological survey.


Read the rest of this article...

Anglesey archaeology: Bronze Age cairn dig at Bryn Celli Ddu

Bryn Celli Ddu burial chamber is aligned to the sun and is lit during the summer solstice
AERIAL-CAM

An excavation is under way on the site of a suspected 4,500-year-old burial cairn that lies next to one of Wales' most important prehistoric monuments.

Experts are hoping to learn more about it and its relationship to Bryn Celli Ddu burial chamber at Anglesey.

The 5,000-year-old "passage tomb" is aligned to coincide with the rising sun on the summer solstice.

Dr Ffion Reynolds said the cairn showed the site remained a "special location" centuries after the chamber was built.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Archaeologists uncover megalithic monument thought to be unlike any found in Ireland to date

IT Sligo Archaeology students Jazmin Scally Koulak and Eugene Anderson sieving the soil at Carrowmore excavation

AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATION in Co Sligo has uncovered a megalithic monument thought to be unlike any found in Ireland to date. 

Several prehistoric tools made from a hard stone called chert were discovered and are thought to have been used for activities such as working animal hides, cutting and preparing food, basket food, basket working and bone working. 

The discovery was made by a team of archaeologists from IT Sligo during a two-week excavation of a prehistoric monument in the heart of the Carrowmore megalithic complex in Co Sligo. 

Carrowmore in the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland, with 5,500-year-old passage tombs dating from 3,600 BC. 

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Artificial islands older than Stonehenge stump scientists

A diver holds a Neolithic (ca. 3,500 B.C) Ustan vessel found near a crannog (artificial island) 
in Loch Arnish, Scotland. PHOTOGRAPH BY C. MURRAY

When it comes to studying Neolithic Britain (4,000-2,500 B.C.), a bit of archaeological mystery is to be expected. Since Neolithic farmers existed long before written language made its way to the British Isles, the only records of their lives are the things they left behind. And while they did leave us a lot of monuments that took, well, monumental effort to build—think Stonehenge or the stone circles of Orkney—the cultural practices and deeper intentions behind these sites are largely unknown.

Now it looks like there may potentially be a whole new type of Neolithic monument for archaeologists to scratch their heads over: crannogs.

Artificial islands commonly known as crannogs dot hundreds of Scottish and Irish lakes and waterways. Until now, researchers thought most were built when people in the Iron Age (800-43 B.C.) created stone causeways and dwellings in the middle of bodies of water. But a new paper published today in the journal Antiquity suggests that at least some of Scotland’s nearly 600 crannogs are much, much older—nearly three thousand years older—putting them firmly in the Neolithic era. What’s more, the artifacts that help push back the date of the crannogs into the far deeper past may also point to a kind of behavior not previously suspected in this prehistoric period.

Read the rest of this article...

Friday, June 7, 2019

DNA from 31,000-year-old milk teeth leads to discovery of new Ice Age population of big game hunters

The DNA was recovered from the only human remains discovered during the era – two tiny milk teeth ( Russian Academy of Sciences )

A new Ice Age population of big game hunters that lived in the depths of Siberia has been discovered using DNA taken from 31,000-year-old human milk teeth. 

Named the ‘Ancient North Siberians’ the hardy population would have hunted lions, wolves, woolly mammoths and bison, according to a study led by Cambridge University.

The find was one aspect of new research into the genetic composition of Native Americans who in part descended from these Siberian hunters. 

The existence of this fierce population, who first evolved 38,000 years ago, forms “a significant part of human history”, according to lead researcher Professor Eske Willerslev.

He told The Independent: “These humans had adapted to an extremely harsh environment in terms of temperatures – it’s a part of the world that is almost completely dark all winter. There are basically no trees and they were living alongside lions, wolves, bison and rhinos.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Prehistoric stone engraved with horses found in France

A generated image of the prehistoric sandstone plate and its engraving
DENIS GLIKSMAN/INRAP

A stone believed to be about 12,000 years old and engraved with what appears to be a horse and other animals has been discovered in France.

The prehistoric find by archaeologists excavating a site in the south-western Angoulême district, north of Bordeaux, has been described as "exceptional".

Markings appear on both sides of the sandstone, the National Archaeological Research Institute (Inrap) said.

It was found during work at an "ancient hunting site" near Angoulême station.

The Palaeolithic stone plate, which is said to be about 25cm long, 18cm wide and 3cm thick, "combines geometric and figurative motifs", Inrap said.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Africa’s first herders spread pastoralism by mating with foragers

INHERITING HERDING  Ancient DNA indicates that early African herders started mating with hunter-gatherers more than 5,000 years ago. Here, modern herders in Tanzania watch over their goats.

Ancient sheep, goat and cattle herders made Africa their home by hooking up with the continent’s native hunter-gatherers, a study suggests.

DNA analysis shows that African herders and foragers mated with each other in two phases, says a team led by archaeologist Mary Prendergast of Saint Louis University in Madrid. After entering northeastern Africa from the Middle East around 8,000 years ago, herders swapped DNA with native foragers between roughly 6,000 and 5,000 years ago. Herders possessing some forager heritage then trekked about halfway down the continent and mated with eastern African foragers around 4,000 years ago, the scientists report online May 30 in Science.

Present-day herders, such as the Dinka in South Sudan, still live in eastern Africa. But how pastoralism spread into the region has been a mystery. In particular, it has been difficult to tell whether ancient African hunter-gatherers mated with early herders or simply adopted their livestock practices. The new study supports an emerging view from ancient DNA studies that human cultural evolution has often featured mating across groups with different traditions and lifestyles.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia puzzle scientists


Two unique burials of the Odinov culture (early Bronze) were unearthed last year at the Ust-Tartas site in Novosibirsk region.

Inside one of them researches found several dozen long beaks and skulls of large birds assembled into something looking like a collar, a head dress, or armour. 

‘Nothing of this kind was ever found as part of Odinov culture in all of Western Siberia’ said researcher Lilia Kobeleva from Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography. 

‘Why do we think this was a part of clothing? The beaks were assembled at the back of the skull, along the neck, as if it was a collar that protected the owner when he lived here.’

Read the rest of this article...

17 amphorae from the 3rd century BC discovered off Cannes

Credit: Marc Langleur

A campaign of underwater archaeological excavations has uncovered 17 amphorae dating from the 3rd century BC at a depth of twenty metres, not far from the Lérins islands off the Bay of Cannes.

According to Anne Joncheray, archaeologist and director of the Saint-Raphaël Museum of Archaeology, the 2,300-year-old amphorae are remarkably well-preserved and were likely used to transport locally produced wine to the Greek trading posts of the Mediterranean.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Whipworm eggs found in 8000-year-old human coprolites. Andrew Masterson reports.

Archaeologists carefully excavating the neolithic village.
SCOTT HADDOW

Researchers picking though 8000-year-old human faeces have identified the earliest evidence of intestinal parasite infection in the mainland Near East.

A team led by archaeologist Piers Mitchell of Cambridge University in the UK travelled to the well preserve remains of a prehistoric village called Çatalhöyük, in southern Anatolia. 

The site was occupied from about 7500 to 5700 BCE, and is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Apart from the extraordinarily good state of its survival, the village is of key interest because it was occupied around the period that populations in the region shifted from foraging to farming. 

The change in both diet and lifestyle – particularly the emergence of permanent settlements – introduces the question of whether such a shift in living conditions also brought about a consequent change in disease profiles.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, May 27, 2019

LATE BRONZE AGE SETTLEMENT DISCOVERED IN NORTHWEST BULGARIA IN TURKISH STREAM GAS PIPELINE RESCUE DIGS


A settlement originally dating back to the Late Bronze Age, which was also subsequently inhabited in the Thracian and Roman Antiquity, and the Middle Age, has been discovered by archaeologists near Rasovo in Northwest Bulgaria during rescue excavation on the projected route of the Turkish Stream natural gas transit pipeline.

A total of three archaeological sites have been found along the route of the proposed extension of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline (dubbed Turkish Stream – Northwest) that would potentially be transporting natural gas from Russian via the Black Sea, Turkey, and Bulgaria into Central Europe.

One of the three newly discovered sites is the settlement from the very end of the Bronze Age dating back to ca. 1,200 BC near today’s town of Rasovo, Medkovets Municipality, Montana District, in Northwest Bulgaria.

Because of the fact it was also inhabited during later historical periods, however, the archaeologists have described it as a “multilayer settlement".

Read the rest of this article...

Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Credit: ct-press

Construction work along the future A14 highway between Dolle and Lüderitz has revealed an urn burial ground from the late Bronze Age.

More than 100 cremation burials dating to around 800 BC have been found here, reports chief archaeologist Susanne Friederich, head of the department for the preservation of archaeological monuments at the State Office for Archaeology and Monument Conservation.

"The place obviously served as a 'cemetery' for several villages, whose remains were also found nearby", she said

"The deceased were burned on pyres. Their relatives placed their ashes and bone remains in urns, together with anything which had not been destroyed by fire, such as bronze clasps or jewellery made of metal," excavation leader Anette Schubert explains.

Read the rest of this article...

NOUVELLE FOUILLE DE LA TOMBE DE LA « DAME DE VIX »


Le site de Vix en Côte-d’Or est avant tout célèbre pour la tombe de « la Dame de Vix », dont la fouille, menée en 1953, a révélé un mobilier d’une incroyable richesse. Hormis la sépulture, le vaste monument funéraire qui l’abritait n’a jamais été réellement fouillé. D’août à novembre 2019, il fera l’objet, d’une importante fouille sous la direction de l’Inrap (Bastien Dubuis), en partenariat avec le Laboratoire ARTEHIS (CNRS/Université de Bourgogne) et avec le soutien de la DRAC Bourgogne-Franche-Comté et de la Communauté de Communes du Pays Châtillonnais. Les nouvelles approches et méthodes de l’archéologie devraient permettre une contextualisation et une compréhension plus fine de cette tombe emblématique du phénomène princier celtique.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, May 26, 2019

'Phenomenal' 2,300-year-old bark shield found in Leicestershire

The shield is made from green bark that has been stiffened with internal wooden laths.

An “astonishing and unparalleled” 2,300-year-old shield made of tree bark has been discovered in Leicestershire, the only example of its kind ever found in Europe.

Archaeologists say the discovery of the shield, made between 395 and 250BC, has completely overturned assumptions about the weapons used in the iron age, sparking breathless reactions among experts of the period.

“This is an absolutely phenomenal object, one of the most marvellous, internationally important finds that I have encountered in my career,” said Julia Farley, curator of British and European iron age collections at the British Museum.

“So often it is gold which grabs the headlines, but this bark shield is much rarer.”

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

New data platform illuminates history of humans' environmental impact

Animal bones on display.
Credit: © DedMityay / Adobe Stock

The human environmental footprint is not only deep, but old.

Ancient traces of this footprint can be found in animal bones, shells, scales and antlers at archaeological sites. Together, these specimens tell the millennia-long story of how humans have hunted, domesticated and transported animals, altered landscapes and responded to environmental changes such as shifting temperatures and sea levels.

Now, that story is available digitally through a new open-access data platform known as ZooArchNet, which links records of animals across biological and archaeological databases.

Making these specimen records accessible digitally helps provide a long-term perspective on current biodiversity crises, such as animal extinction and habitat loss, and could lead to more informed conservation policies, said Michelle LeFebvre, postdoctoral associate at the Florida Museum of Natural History and lead author of a study introducing ZooArchNet.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Analysis of the Palaeolithic diet shows no social divisions in food consumption

Credit: University of Granada

The study of the human diet in Palaeolithic times is currently among the research areas generating the greatest advances in knowledge. Analysis of the Palaeolithic diet is conducted mainly on the basis of stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen, which are present in the collagen of human bones. These isotopes indicate the types of food consumed by the individual in the years leading up to their death.

Researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) have analyzed the diets of past peoples from samples in the anthropological collections of the Megalithic necropolises of Panoria (Darro, Granada) and El Barranquete (Nijar, Almeria). They find that although Megalithic communities did vary their eating habits over time, there were no relevant social differences, either in the type of food or in the proportion of proteins consumed.


Read the rest of this article...

Friday, May 17, 2019

Chewing gums reveal the oldest Scandinavian human DNA

Masticate being examined
[Credit: Natalija Kashuba/Stockholm University]


The first humans who settled in Scandinavia more than 10,000 years ago left their DNA behind in ancient chewing gums, which are masticated lumps made from birch bark pitch. This is shown in a new study conducted at Stockholm University and published in Communications Biology.

Ancient chewing gums are as of now an alternative source for human DNA and possibly a good proxy for human bones in archaeogenetic studies. The investigated pieces come from Huseby-Klev, an early Mesolithic hunter-fisher site on the Swedish west coast. The sites excavation was done in the early 1990's, but at this time it was not possible to analyse ancient human DNA at all, let alone from non-human tissue. The masticates were made out of birch bark tar and used as glue in tool production and other types of technology during the Stone Age.

Read the rest of this article...

Fossil teeth push the human-Neandertal split back to about 1 million years ago

CROWNING ROOTS An analysis of hominid tooth evolution, including specimens from Spanish Neandertals (top row), pushes back the age of a common Neandertal-human ancestor to more than 800,000 years ago. The bottom row shows Homo sapiens teeth.

People and Neandertals separated from a common ancestor more than 800,000 years ago — much earlier than many researchers had thought.

That conclusion, published online May 15 in Science Advances, stems from an analysis of early fossilized Neandertal teeth found at a Spanish site called Sima de los Huesos. During hominid evolution, tooth crowns changed in size and shape at a steady rate, says Aida Gómez-Robles, a paleoanthropologist at University College London. The Neandertal teeth, which date to around 430,000 years ago, could have evolved their distinctive shapes at a pace typical of other hominids only if Neandertals originated between 800,000 and 1.2 million years ago, she finds. 

Gómez-Robles’ study indicates that, if a common ancestor of present-day humans and Neandertals existed after around 1 million years ago, “there wasn’t enough time for Neandertal teeth to change at the rate [teeth] do in other parts of the human family tree” in order to end up looking like the Spanish finds, says palaeoanthropologist Bernard Wood of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Read the rest of this article...

Bronze Age Caernarfon bypass find 'could be canoe'

If proven to be a canoe the timber would be a "rare find", according to experts
WELSH GOVERNMENT

Work on a bypass in Gwynedd has revealed the site of a Bronze Age mound which could contain an ancient canoe.

Archaeological excavation on the site of the Caernarfon-Bontnewydd bypass uncovered three troughs underneath a burnt mound dating back about 3,500 years.

Experts think one of the troughs may have been originally used as a dug-out canoe hollowed from an oak tree.

It would be the first prehistoric canoe ever found in north Wales if proven.

The timber has now been lifted from its discovery site and is being examined in more detail.

Read the rest of this article...

Bronze age burial uncovered at Orkney sub station site

The cist archaeologists have uncovered lies on top of a glacial mound
ORCA ARCHAEOLOGY

Archaeologists have discovered a Bronze age burial pit while excavating the site of a proposed new sub electricity sub station in Orkney.

The stone lined box capped with a large flat stone was unearthed at Finstown, ahead of construction work by SSEN Transmission.

The pit - known as a cist - appears to be empty, though it would once have contained bones or cremated remains.

It's thought the burial dates back around 3,500 years.

The team from ORCA Archaeology based at Orkney College are exploring and recording the features and history of the site on behalf of the power firm.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Stone Circles Ringed House That May Have Belonged to the Neolithic 'One Percent'

The Avebury henge consists of at least two stone circles enclosed within a larger stone circle.
Credit: Kevin Standage/Shutterstock

The massive and ancient stone circles around Stonehenge and Avebury in southern England may have all started with the commemoration of a single Neolithic house that probably belonged to an elite family, archaeologists now say.

Using ground-penetrating radar, the researchers found that the monumental stone circles of Avebury, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Stonehenge, were centered on an early Neolithic habitation, with the concentric stone circles and large earthen embankment being built around it probably centuries later.

They say the Neolithic house at Avebury was built sometime after 3700 B.C. — but centuries before the creation of the larger rings of stone at Avebury and the megalithic monument at Stonehenge, which research shows were built after 3000 B.C.

Read the rest of this article...

Woolly mammoth mystery solved? Study reveals shocking details about prehistoric creature


A new study suggests that woolly mammoths and mankind's ancestors, the Neanderthals, may have shared genetic traits.

Extinct for thousands of years, the woolly mammoth continues to fascinate humanity, as the prospect of eventually reviving the species is pondered among the scientific community. Now, a new study suggests that the giant creatures and mankind's ancestors, the Neanderthals, may have shared genetic traits.

The study, published by researchers at Tel Aviv University, suggests that because of their shared geography, mammoths and Neanderthals likely had similar molecular characteristics that allowed them to adapt to their harsh environmental surroundings.

"Neanderthals and mammoths lived together in Europe during the Ice Age. The evidence suggests that Neanderthals hunted and ate mammoths for tens of thousands of years and were actually physically dependent on calories extracted from mammoths for their successful adaptation," said professor Ran Barkai in a statement.

Read the rest of this article...

Stonehenge tunnel: Row over building clause in deeds

Campaigners say the deeds prevent work close to the stones

Plans for a controversial road tunnel near Stonehenge could be blocked because of conditions in the ancient monument's deeds.

The government wants to build a 1.9 mile (3km) tunnel past the Neolithic stone circle.

But when the monument was gifted to the nation by Sir Cecil Chubb in 1918 its deeds contained conditions.

Highways England said it believed the proposed tunnel did not fall within the covenant's boundary.

The issue was raised during a Planning Inspectorate preliminary meeting into the application to build the tunnel past the stones.

Read the rest of this article...

Von den Kelten bis zum Mittelalter: Eisenverhüttung im Siegerland


Vor über 2.000 Jahren war das Siegerland eine blühende Region für Eisenproduktion. In den bislang größten bekannten Verhüttungsöfen ihrer Epoche in Europa gewannen keltische Hüttenleute große Mengen an Stahl. Archäologen gelang in Siegen nun ein Nachweis dieser bisher für die Eisenzeit in Mitteleuropa einzigartigen großen Zahl an Werkstätten zur Eisenverarbeitung.

Read the rest of this article...

World-renowned Ring of Brodgar stone circle vandalised in Orkney


The Ring of Brodgar originally comprised 60 stones, of which 36 survive. 
Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian

Graffiti engraved on a stone at Neolithic monument that is part of world heritage site

A world-renowned stone circle in Orkney, which is more than 4,000 years old, has been vandalised.

Damage to the Ring of Brodgar includes graffiti that has been engraved into one of the stones at the Neolithic site near Stenness. It is believed to have been caused sometime between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning.

Insp David Hall from Police Scotland said: “The stones at the Ring of Brodgar are priceless historical artefacts and the damage caused cannot simply be estimated in monetary terms.

“For someone to damage them in this way is a particularly mindless act. I would urge anyone who has visited the area over the last weekend to think back and if they believe they may have seen something suspicious, even if it didn’t seem of much note at the time, to let us know.

Read the rest of this article...

'New species of human' found in cave throws doubt over evolution theories

Key site: Callao Cave on Luzon island in the Philippines, where fossils of Homo luzonensis were found. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

A previously unknown species of human that lived at the same time our ancient ancestors were colonising Europe has been discovered in the Philippines.
Bones and teeth of the "hominin" were found in Callao Cave on Luzon, the largest island in the Asian archipelago. They contain a mixture of old and new features that have excited scientists and threaten to overturn accepted theories of human evolution.
Hominins are members of the human family tree more closely related to one another than to apes.
Today, only one species of this group remains, Homo sapiens, to which everyone on Earth belongs.
Read the rest of this article...

New species of ancient human discovered in Philippines cave

Callao cave, where the fossils of Homo luzonensis were discovered. 
Photograph: Quincy/Alamy

Homo luzonensis fossils found in Luzon island cave, dating back up to 67,000 years
A new species of ancient human, thought to have been under 4ft tall and adapted to climbing trees, has been discovered in the Philippines, providing a twist in the story of human evolution.

The specimen, named Homo luzonensis, was excavated from Callao cave on Luzon island in the northern Philippines and has been dated to 50,000-67,000 years ago – when our own ancestors and the Neanderthals were spreading across Europe and into Asia.

Florent Détroit, of the Natural History Museum in Paris and the paper’s first author, said the discovery provided the latest challenge to the fairly straightforward prevalent narrative of human evolution.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A 5,000-year-old barley grain discovered in Finland

Researchers determined the age of millennia-old barley grains using radiocarbon dating 
[Credit: Santeri Vanhanen]

On the basis of prior research, representatives of the Pitted Ware Culture from the Stone Age have been known as hard-core sealers, or even Inuits of the Baltic Sea. Now, researchers have discovered barley and wheat grains in areas previously inhabited by this culture, leading to the conclusion that the Pitted Ware Culture adopted agriculture on a small scale.

A study carried out in cooperation with parties representing the discipline of archaeology and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Helsinki, as well as Swedish operators in the field of archaeology (The Archaeologists, a governmental consultant agency, and Arkeologikonsult, a business), found grains of barley and wheat in Pitted Ware settlements on Finland's Aland Islands and in the region of modern Stockholm.

The age of the grains was ascertained using radiocarbon dating. Based on the results, the grains originated in the period of the Pitted Ware culture, thus being approximately 4,300-5,300 years old. In addition to the cereal grains, the plant remnants found in the sites included hazelnut shells, apple seeds, tuberous roots of lesser celandine and rose hips.

Read the rest of this article...

Climate change drove some Neanderthals to cannibalism

File photo - Hyperrealistic face of a neanderthal male is displayed in a cave in the new Neanderthal Museum in the northern Croatian town of Krapina Feb. 25, 2010. (REUTERS/Nikola Solic)

Six Neanderthals who lived in what is now France were eaten by their fellow Neanderthals some 100,000 years ago, according to gruesome evidence of the cannibalistic event discovered by scientists in a cave in the 1990s.

Now, researchers may have figured out why the Neanderthals, including two children, became victims of cannibalism: global warming.

While prior studies have interpreted Neanderthal remains to find proof of cannibalistic behavior, this is the first study to offer clues as to what may have led Neanderthals to become cannibals. Scientists found that rapid shifts in local ecosystems as the planet warmed may have extinguished the animal species that Neanderthals ate, forcing them to look elsewhere to fill their bellies. 

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Neolithic Britons travelled across country for regular mass national feasts 4,500 years ago, new research claims

Feasts were held at ritual sites, including Avebury ( English Heritage )

Findings suggest prehistoric tribes may have established cultural and political bonds – and an early national identity – long before previously believed

New scientific discoveries are set to dramatically transform our understanding of prehistoric Britain.

A study of Stonehenge-era archaeological material from large-scale ceremonial feasts is revealing that neolithic Britain was, in key respects, much more interconnected and unified than previously thought.

The evidence reveals that people from virtually every part of the country came together to participate in major, almost certainly politico-religious, ceremonies.

Some participants travelled hundreds of miles from Scotland, northeast England, the midlands and Wales to significant ritual locations in what are now Wiltshire and Dorset.

Read the rest of this article...

Ancient teeth hint at mysterious human relative

The gorges of Guizhou Province glimmer in the sunlight in China. Fossil teeth found in this province suggest that millions of years ago, a cave here was home to a mysterious branch of the human family tree.
PHOTOGRAPH BY NOVARC IMAGES/ ALAMY

The find adds to a growing number of fossils from China that don't fit neatly in the existing human family tree.

FOUR TEETH FOUND in a cave in the Tongzi county of southern China have scientists scratching their heads.

In 1972 and 1983, researchers extracted the roughly 200,000-year-old teeth from the silty sediments of the Yanhui cave floor, initially labeling them as Homo erectus, the upright-walking hominins thought to be the first to leave Africa. Later analysis suggested they didn't quite fit with Homo erectus, but that's where the story paused for nearly two decades.

Now, a study published in the Journal of Human Evolution takes a fresh look at these ancient teeth, using modern methods to examine the curious remains. The new analysis excludes the possibility that the teeth could come from Homo erectus or the more advanced Neanderthals, but the elusive owner remains unknown.

Read the rest of this article...

Concerns mount over plans for two-mile road tunnel past Stonehenge

Stonehenge lies within 165 metres of the A303, a key transport link for people travelling to and from England’s south-west. Photograph: Sam Frost/The Guardian

Highways England claims scheme will improve travel and visits to site but many oppose it

Environmentalists, archaeologists, residents and druids have expressed deep concerns about a controversial scheme to build a road tunnel through the Stonehenge landscape as the £1.6bn project reaches a key milestone.

A six-month long examination of the scheme that will consider issues ranging from the impact on precious archaeological remains to how it may affect endangered birdlife and the darkness of the night sky begins on Wednesday.

At a packed preliminary meeting at Salisbury racecourse on Tuesday, there were protests about the scheme, which some have branded vandalism. More than 2,000 people, many of them opposed, have said they want to make submissions and hundreds want to give evidence in person over the next six months.

Read the rest of this article...