Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Danish man found buried treasure from the Iron Age using a metal detector, just hours after turning it on for the first time

 

Gold medallions, coins, and jewelry comprise an Iron Age hoard that a rookie metal detectorist recently discovered in Denmark. Conservation Center Vejle

Ole Ginnerup Schytz had never used a metal detector before. He first gave it a shot on a former classmate's land in Vindelev, Denmark, in December.

Within hours of turning his detector on, Schytz stumbled across one of the largest treasure hoards ever found in the country.

"Well, that's the epitome of improbable luck," the rookie detectorist said in an interview with Danish outlet TV Syd earlier this month. "Denmark is 43,000 square kilometers, and then I happen to choose to put the detector exactly where this find was."

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Monday, September 27, 2021

Whence the White Horse of Uffington?

 


The White Horse of Uffington, a spectacular chalk figure on an English hillside, challenges the very idea of “heritage” as an unbroken line of descent. Made sometime between 1380 and 550 BCE by people who cut meter-deep trenches and filled them with chalk, the horse pattern should have disappeared under encroaching vegetation long ago. But it has been the work of generations to “scour” it—weeding, cleaning, and adding more chalk. It’s this tradition of scouring which so intrigues scholar Philip Schwyzer.

“Like other monuments of similar antiquity, the Horse has been the site of shifting and contested meanings,” writes Schwyzer. “Yet the White Horse is unique among such artifacts in that it has never been neglected, but has always possessed a real and active significance for the inhabitants of the immediate vicinity.”

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Was 536 AD the worst year in history?

 

Archaeologists working in Bacho Kiro Cave earlier this year.
Image: Tsenka Tsanova, MPI-EVA Leipzig, License: CC-BY-SA 2.0

Europe was considerably colder 44,000 years ago than previously thought, according to new research. The finding is forcing a rethink about early human migration patterns and where our ancestors preferred to settle.

“The expansion of Homo sapiens across Eurasia marked a major milestone in human evolution that would eventually lead to our species being found across every continent,” write the authors of new research published today in Science Advances.

But scientists still aren’t sure how early modern humans managed to pull off this remarkable migrational trick, given considerable environmental variations around the world. The new study, co-authored by Sarah Pederzani from the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, sought to explore the climatic conditions experienced by Homo sapiens when venturing from southwest Asia to Europe.

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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Spanish cave art was made by Neanderthals, study confirms

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A general view (left), medium close-up (middle) and extreme close up of a partly coloured stalagmite tower in the Spanish cave of Ardales, southern Spain.
Photograph: Joao Zilhao/ICREA/AFP/Getty Images

Study says pigments on cave stalagmites were applied through ‘splattering and blowing’ more than 60,000 years ago

Neanderthals, long perceived to have been unsophisticated and brutish, really did paint stalagmites in a Spanish cave more than 60,000 years ago, according to a study published on Monday.

The issue had roiled the world of paleoarchaeology ever since the publication of a 2018 paper attributing red ocher pigment found on the stalagmitic dome of Cueva de Ardales to our extinct “cousin” species.

The dating suggested the art was at least 64,800 years old, made at a time when modern humans did not inhabit the continent.

But the finding was contentious, and “a scientific article said that perhaps these pigments were a natural thing”, a result of iron oxide flow, Francesco d’Errico, co-author of a new paper in the journal PNAS, told AFP.

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Long-Lost Fragment of Stonehenge Gives Unprecedented Glimpse Inside Ancient Monument

Sample of the core from Stone 58 (British Geological Survey)

"We have CT-scanned the rock, zapped it with X-rays, looked at it under various microscopes and analyzed its sedimentology and chemistry," said study lead author David Nash, a professor of physical geography at the University of Brighton in England.

"With the exception of thin-section analyses and a couple of the chemical methods, all of the techniques we used in the study were new both to Stonehenge and the study of sarsen stones in the UK," Nash told Live Science in an email.

Stonehenge's central circle of pillars was erected during the Neolithic period, about 2,500 years ago, according to English Heritage, a nonprofit organization that manages historic monuments in England. 

"Sarsens were erected in two concentric arrangements – an inner horseshoe and an outer circle – and the bluestones [smaller monument stones] were set up between them in a double arc," English Heritage said on its website.

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New findings unveil a missing piece of human prehistory

IMAGE: GEOGRAPHICAL AND TEMPORAL DISTRIBUTION OF NEWLY SAMPLED INDIVIDUALS

A joint research team led by Prof. FU Qiaomei from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences sequenced the ancient genomes of 31 individuals from southern East Asia, thus unveiling a missing piece of human prehistory.

The study was published in Cell on June 24.

Prof. FU's team used DNA capture techniques to retrieve ancient DNA from Guangxi and Fujian, two provincial-level regions in southern China. They sequenced genome-wide DNA from 31 individuals dating back 11,747 to 194 years ago. Of these, two date back to more than 10,000 years ago, making them the oldest genomes sampled from southern East Asia and Southeast Asia to date.

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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Why could Stonehenge be stripped of world heritage site status?

Unesco says Stonehenge will be put on its danger list unless plans for the A303 road tunnel are changed. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Unesco has confirmed that Stonehenge could be stripped of its world heritage site status, over its concern that a road tunnel, backed by the government, would irreversibly damage an area of “outstanding universal value”.

A report to Unesco’s world heritage committee setting out concerns about the £1.7bn A303 road tunnel was approved unchanged on Thursday. Unless the designs for the two-mile (3.3km) tunnel are extended and changed, the committee recommends placing Stonehenge on Unesco’s list of world heritage in danger next year.

One of the two Beaker-period burials found near the site of the proposed Stonehenge road tunnel
Archaeologists unearth bronze age graves at Stonehenge tunnel site
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Last month the high court was told that a decision by Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, to approve the tunnel last November was unlawful because it did not properly consider damage that would be done to a string of prehistoric sites and many thousands of ancient artefacts.

Unesco’s committee found that if the high court confirms planning consent for the tunnel, Stonehenge should be placed on its danger list. It said that despite minor improvements to the original plan, the proposed cut-and-cover tunnel would irreversibly damage an area of “outstanding universal value”.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The final meal of the famous 'bog man' revealed: Tollund Man feasted on porridge and fish before being killed as a ritual sacrifice 2,400 years ago, study reveals

The amazingly well-preserved head of the Tollund Man - a man who lived during the
4th century BC

Tollund Man's gut contents had been analysed forensically when he was discovered in 1950, uncovering traces of cereals and wild plants. 

When Tollund Man was autopsied in 1950, his intestines were still preserved, and the alimentary canal from the stomach to anus was removed in one piece with its contents still in place.  

Now, experts from Silkeborg Museum in Denmark, say they have been able to reconstruct the last meal of Tollund Man in greater detail than ever before – right down to how it was prepared. 

The researchers used a few millilitres of material from the large intestine for analyses to give the 'most detailed study' yet on the gut contents of a bog body. 

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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Broxmouth Hillfort: Study reveals clues ancient people kept loved-ones mundane keepsakes

One of the graves at the site Pic: Broxmouth Project Archive

 They were a people who lived almost two thousand years ago, who would have been on nodding terms with the legions of Roman Britian and who may have decorated their homes with the severed limbs and heads of their enemies. 

Yet despite the gulf of time and taste in interior decoration which separates the ancient inhabitants of Scotland and its modern population today, it appears that holding onto mementos of loved ones was just as important then as it is now.  

A fresh analysis of artefacts uncovered at the Broxmouth hillfort site, near Edinburgh, has raised the tantalising prospect that everyday items were kept by iron Age people as an emotional reminder of those no longer there, and a ‘continuing bond’ with the deceased. 

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Scientists found fossils from a new species of human that’s 130,000 years old


Scientists from Israel stumbled upon an unexpected discovery while studying fossilized pieces of bone dug up near a cement plant. The fragments from a skull and lower jaw with teeth belonged to a person who lived in the area some 130,000 years ago, but the human is unlike anything we’ve known so far.

The researchers gave it a new name since we’re looking at a different species of human that has never been seen before. They’re calling it Nesher Ramla Homo, after a location southeast of Tel Aviv where it was discovered. This human had particular characteristics unseen in other skeletal findings from the same period. The researchers found that Nesher Ramla Homo had a flat skull, very large teeth, and a jaw bone with no chin. The species may have lived alongside Homo sapiens for more than 100,000 years, and they’re believed to be the precursor to the Neanderthal, the skull of which is seen above. The discovery might upend everything we knew about human evolution on Earth.

“The discovery of a new type of Homo is of great scientific importance,” Tel Aviv University’s Israel Hershkovitz said in a statement. “It enables us to make new sense of previously found human fossils, add another piece to the puzzle of human evolution, and understand the migrations of humans in the old world.”

The Nesher Ramla might have had unusual skull anatomy, but the study says they resembled pre-Neanderthal groups in Europe.

“This is what makes us suggest that this Nesher Ramla group is actually a large group that started very early in time and are the source of the European Neanderthal,” Tel Aviv University physical anthropologist Hila May said in a statement. She added that science has never been able to explain how Homo sapien genes were present in the earlier Neanderthal population in Europe. The Nesher Ramla may be the missing link, as the species may have interbred with Homo sapiens.

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Massive human head in Chinese well forces scientists to rethink evolution

Chinese researchers have called the skull, found in Harbin in the north, Homo longi, or ‘Dragon man’, but other experts are more cautious about naming a new species. Photograph: Wei Gao
Ian Sample Science editor

The discovery of a huge fossilised skull that was wrapped up and hidden in a Chinese well nearly 90 years ago has forced scientists to rewrite the story of human evolution.

Analysis of the remains has revealed a new branch of the human family tree that points to a previously unknown sister group more closely related to modern humans than the Neanderthals.

The extraordinary fossil has been named a new human species, Homo longi or “Dragon man”, by Chinese researchers, although other experts are more cautious about the designation.

“I think this is one of the most important finds of the past 50 years,” said Prof Chris Stringer, research leader at the Natural History Museum in London, who worked on the project. “It’s a wonderfully preserved fossil.”

The skull appears to have a remarkable backstory. According to the researchers, it was originally found in 1933 by Chinese labourers building a bridge over the Songhua River in Harbin, in China’s northernmost province, Heilongjiang, during the Japanese occupation. To keep the skull from falling into Japanese hands it was wrapped and hidden in an abandoned well, resurfacing only in 2018 after the man who hid it told his grandson about it shortly before he died.

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New mystery human species discovered in Israel

Archaeologists also found tools, butchered animal bones and evidence of a campfire at the Nesher Ramla excavation site. Photo / Yossi Zaidner

An international group of archaeologists have discovered a missing piece in the story of human evolution.

Excavations at the Israeli site of Nesher Ramla have recovered a skull that may represent a late-surviving example of a distinct Homo population, which lived in and around modern-day Israel from about 420,000 to 120,000 years ago.

As researchers Israel Hershkovitz, Yossi Zaidner and colleagues detail in two companion studies published today in Science, this archaic human community traded both their culture and genes with nearby Homo sapiens groups for many thousands of years.

The new fossils

Pieces of a skull, including a right parietal (back of the skull) and an almost complete mandible (jaw) were dated to 140,000–120,000 years old, with analysis finding the person it belonged to wasn't fully H. sapiens.

Nor were they Neanderthal, however, which was the only other type of human thought to have been living in the region at the time.

Instead, this individual falls right smack in the middle: a unique population of Homo never before recognised by science.

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New prehistoric human unknown to science discovered in Israel

Skull found at the site among other items at Nesher Ramla.
(photo credit: DR. YOSSI ZAIDNER)

Hebrew U and Tel Aviv University researchers found remains of a new type of ‘Homo’ who lived in the region some 130,000 years ago.

A new type of early human previously not known to scientists has been discovered in Israel, Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University researchers announced Thursday as their extraordinary findings appeared in the prestigious academic journal Science.
Researchers believe the new “Homo” species intermarried with Homo sapiens and was an ancestor of the Neanderthals.

Tens of thousands of years ago, the busy central region of what is now a densely populated and traffic-jammed part of Israel, was a landscape that very much resembled the African savanna. It featured rhinos, wild horses and cattle and other large animals that were perfect game for ancient hunter-gatherers.
The site of Nesher Ramla, a few kilometers from the modern-day city, was probably close to a water reservoir where early humans could hunt animals. Today, the dig site is filled with many animal bones, stone tools for making fire and butchering, and human bones, including skulls, TAU anthropologist Prof. Israel Hershkovitz said.

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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 AlingsÃ¥s. 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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