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.
Das Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Senckenberg und die Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen haben eine neue Methode zur menschlichen Zahnanalyse getestet, um umfassendere Einblicke in die Populationsgeschichte Südwestdeutschlands von der ausgehenden Steinzeit bis zur frühen Eisenzeit zu gewinnen. Die Studie konzentriert sich auf die Untersuchung von Zähnen in menschlichen Bestattungen.
Mit der neuen Analysemethode namens FLEXDIST können genetisch bedingte Ähnlichkeiten und Unterschiede zwischen Individuen anhand spezifischer Zahnmerkmale ermittelt werden. Diese Merkmale, wie beispielsweise die Anzahl und Größe der Höcker von Backenzähnen, sind vererbbar und liefern Aufschluss über die Biodistanz, also die Ähnlichkeit zwischen Individuen. Die Analyse der Zähne kann somit mit genetischen Untersuchungen verglichen werden.
Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Senckenberg und Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen testen neue Methode zur menschlichen Zahnanalyse
Pressemitteilung Landesamt für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart
Einem Team von Forscherinnen und Forschern vom Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment (SHEP), der Arbeitsgruppe Paläoanthropologie an der Universität Tübingen und des Landesamts für Denkmalpflege (LAD) im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart ist es mit Hilfe einer neuen Analysemethode erstmals gelungen, umfassendere Einblicke in die menschliche Populationsgeschichte Südwestdeutschlands von der ausgehenden Steinzeit bis zur frühen Eisenzeit zu gewinnen. Die Studie gründet auf der Untersuchung von Zähnen menschlicher Bestattungen.
Mit der neuen Analysemethode FLEXDIST können genetisch bedingte Ähnlichkeiten und Unterschiede der Individuen anhand spezifischer Zahnmerkmale ermittelt werden. „Möglich wird dies, da jeder Zahn unterschiedliche morphologische Merkmale wie etwa die Anzahl und Größe der Höcker von Backenzähnen aufweist“, erläuterte Stephanie Lismann (Universität Tübingen), Zweitautorin der Studie. „Sie sind vererbbar und können Aufschlüsse zur Biodistanz liefern, also wie ähnlich Individuen zueinander sind. Die Analyse dieser Zähne ist mit genetischen Untersuchungen vergleichbar“, so Lismann.
After 20 years of above-ground surveys, archaeologists have excavated the famous Iron Age site of Němčice and confirmed the presence of the earliest glass workshop north of the Alps.
Němčice is one of the most important settlement sites of the La Tène Period (3rd–2nd century BC) in Central Europe, famous for its unprecedented amount of gold and silver coins which number over 2,000.
Numerous beautiful glass bracelets and beads have also been found at the site. As such, it was thought that Němčice was a center of glass production, but only these excavations have confirmed this fact.
It's the first time this type of painting has been found regionally.
A man on a hike with his family in the countryside outside of Oslo, Norway, has stumbled across a rock face covered in Bronze Age paintings.
The discovery did not, however, come as a complete surprise to Tormod Fjeld, a graphic designer and devoted amateur archaeologist who has hunted down more than 500 petroglyphs with friends in recent years.
And so, when Fjeld spotted a nearby boulder with unusual coloration while taking a break from hiking, he was ready. Fjeld pulled out his phone, took a picture, and then plugged it into an app that could clarify if the markings were natural pigments, such as iron deposits, or something altogether more interesting.
The Tiel sanctuary featured a solar calendar that was used to determine important events including festivals and harvest days, say archaeologists. Photograph: Municipality of Tiel/Reuters
Dutch archaeologists have unearthed an approximately 4,000-year-old religious site – nicknamed the “Stonehenge of the Netherlands” – that includes a burial mound that served as a solar calendar.
The mound, which contained the remains of about 60 men, women and children, had several passages through which the sun shone directly on the longest and shortest days of the year.
The town of Tiel, where the site was discovered, said on its Facebook page: “What a spectacular archaeological discovery! Archaeologists have found a 4,000-year-old religious sanctuary on an industrial site.”
It added: “This is the first time a site like this has been discovered in the Netherlands.”
One of Cornwall’s most recognisable megaliths … Lanyon Quoit. Photograph: Alamy
No longer just for solstice, a new type of tourism means these mysterious formations are being visited year round. Our writer joins a stone hunt on the Cornish moors.
Up on Cornwall’s Penwith Moors time takes a strange quality. Here the landscape is a morass of knotted bracken and bristly gorse, a soft marigold tinge signalling warmer summer days. A grey smudge of cloud sags on the horizon and the wind whirs like white noise, a low and disorientating murmur. The topography is a palimpsest, with working farms etched over ruinous mines and prehistoric settlements. And at its heart is a scattering of ancient stones, the enigmatic quoits, barrows and stone circles that have captivated and confounded societies for millennia.
It’s an enchanting place just to wander, but to help me dive deeper into the mysteries of the moors, I am meeting artists and stone enthusiasts Lally MacBeth and Matthew Shaw. Almost immediately I feel underdressed in hiking boots primed with mud and a hardy waterproof – in Cornwall, we come perpetually prepared for the threat of showers. MacBeth, on the other hand, looks the part of an antiquarian in an emerald-green blazer and matching beret finished with a swipe of ruby lipstick. The only muted part of her outfit is a monochrome badge, the size of a small pebble, that reads: “The Stone Club”.
The site, showing the evaluation trenches and excavation areas. Image credit: Cotswold Archaeology
In Area 1, the remains of a Bronze Age burnt mound complex were revealed. In Area 2, an enclosure system of broadly the same period was recorded, together with the remains of three Iron Age roundhouses.
Overlying these remains were field patterns of medieval and later dates.
Unfortunately the Bronze Age burnt mound in Area 1 had been largely destroyed by later ploughing. Burnt mounds are enigmatic prehistoric features known from across the British Isles. Well-preserved examples are characterised by a flattened mound formed from discarded, burnt stones.
The stones were heated and then functioned as ‘pot boilers’, heating water in nearby earth-cut, possibly timber-lined troughs.
Figure 3: Artist’s reconstruction of the burial of an adult Homo naledi found in Feature 1 from the Dinaledi Chamber. Images from Berger et al., 2023. (Image: Berger et al)
A Northumbria University forensic scientist was part of a team which has unearthed the earliest example of burials by human ancestors.
Dr Patrick Randolph-Quinney is Associate Professor of Forensic Science at Northumbria and specialises in taphonomy and thanatology - the science of death and processes that affect a body from decomposition, through to skeletonisation, then recovery. In a project funded by the National Geographic Society, Dr Randolph-Quinney was one of a team of experts who unearthed new evidence in the Rising Star cave system in South Africa suggesting an extinct human cousin named Homo naledi buried their dead.
This symbolic behaviour had previously only associated with modern humans and Neanderthals. Bodies of Homo naledi adults and several children, thought to be younger than 13 were deposited in foetal positions within pits, which suggests intentional burial of the dead.
Cave painting of a battle between archers, Cueva del Roure, Morella la Vella, Castellón, Valencia, Spain. Image credit: Eduardo Hernández Pacheco - public domain
Complexity scientist Peter Turchin and his team at CSH, working as part of an international and interdisciplinary collaboration, may have added a meaningful piece to a long-standing puzzle in archeology. Scholars have long tried to understand why Neolithic farmer populations go through boom-bust cycles, including “collapses” when whole regions are abandoned.
According to one common explanation, climate fluctuations are the main driver, but empirical tests do not fully support this claim. In a new paper, published in the latest issue of Nature Scientific Reports, Turchin and his team seem to have come up with a new piece of information.
“Our study shows that periodic outbreaks of warfare — and not climate fluctuations – can account for the observed boom-bust patterns in the data,” argues Turchin, who’s a project leader at the Complexity Science Hub (CSH).
Every year, we discover something about our history on the planet through excavations around the world. In one such excavation, archaeologists found what may be the world’s oldest gold dating back to 4,500 B.C. The gold bead found was an eighth of an inch found in Bulgaria and it might be the oldest processed gold ever discovered in Europe and probably the world.
Reuters reported in 2016 that the bead predates the previous oldest gold object, the Varna Gold, which is a cache of gold found in a necropolis outside the Black Sea port of Varna. The Varna Gold cache was found between 1972 and 1991 and weighed about 5.8 kilograms. However, the new bead found in Bulgaria pushes the mystery back another 200 years.
Yavor Boyadzhiev, professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Science and in charge of the dig told Krasimiov, “I do not doubt that it is older than the Varna gold. It’s a really important discovery. It is a tiny piece of gold but big enough to find its place in history.”
At the beginning of the last ice, local mountain glaciers grew and formed large ice sheets, like the one seen here. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)
For quite some time, paleo-climate specialists have been perplexed by two enigmas: What was the origin of the ice sheets that defined the final ice age, and how could they expand so rapidly?
A fresh research conducted by the University of Arizona's experts suggests a plausible explanation for the swift expansion of the ice sheets that coated a considerable portion of the Northern Hemisphere during the last ice age. Furthermore, the study's findings may be applicable to other glacial periods in the Earth's past.
Surprising new insights into the minds of this extinct human species suggest they may have been far more cultured than their outdated brutish reputation once suggested. But getting into the minds of a long-dead species is no easy task.
Sometime between 135,000-50,000 years ago, hands slick with animal blood carried more than 35 huge horned heads into a small, dark, winding cave. Tiny fires were lit amidst a boulder-jumbled floor, and the flame-illuminated chamber echoed to dull pounding, cracking and squelching sounds as the skulls of bison, wild cattle, red deer and rhinoceros were smashed open.
This isn't the gory beginning of an ice age horror novel, but the setting for a fascinating Neanderthal mystery. At the start of 2023 researchers announced that a Spanish archaeological site known as Cueva Des-Cubierta (a play on "uncover" and "discover") held an unusually large number of big-game skulls. All were fragmented but their horns or antlers were relatively intact, and some were found near to traces of hearths.
Jan Bartek - AncientPages.com - Maritime history dates back thousands of years, och there is no doubt many ancient civilizations had excellent knowledge of navigation and sailing. Once ancient civilizations understood the value of trading, many maritime routes were established, and spices, gold, silk, and many other items were bought and sold. There is archaeological evidence magnificent ancient ships crossed the oceans, and curious explorers set foot on new lands
Still, modern humans were not the ones who invented the boat. According to a study, the first seafarers were the Neanderthals, who lived from about 400,000 to 40,000 years ago. On islands in the Mediterranean Sea, scientists have examined several artifacts and stone tools uniquely associated with the Neanderthals.
"Archaeological data from the southern Ionian Islands show human habitation since Middle Palaeolithic going back to 110 ka BP yet bathymetry, sea-level changes and the Late Quaternary geology, show that Kefallinia and Zakynthos were insular at that time. Hence, human presence in these islands indicates inter island-mainland seafaring. Seafaring most likely started some time between 110 and 35 ka BP and the seafarers were the Neanderthals. Seafaring was encouraged by the coastal configuration, which offered the right conditions for developing seafaring skills according to the “voyaging nurseries” and “autocatalysis” concepts," the research team writes in a paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
Residents of Lutetia buried their dead at Saint-Jacques between the first and fourth centuries C.E.
Little is known about the Parisii, the ancient Gallic tribe that dwelled on the banks of the Seine some 2,000 years ago. At the time, the French capital that now bears the Parisii’s name was called Lutetia.
Last week, archaeologists unearthed 50 burials that may shed light on funerary traditions in the ancient city that preceded Paris. Discovered just a few feet away from a bustling train station, the graves are believed to be part of the largest known Lutetian burial site, the Saint-Jacques necropolis.
Dominique Garcia, president of the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP), tells Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the finds open “a window into the world of Paris during antiquity.”