Monday, October 26, 2009

Malawi is the cradle of humankind, scientist says

The latest discovery of pre-historic tools and remains of hominids (pictured: periodic table) in Malawi's remote northern district of Karonga provides further proof that the area could be the cradle of humankind, a leading German researcher said.

Professor Friedemann Schrenk of the Goethe University in Frankfurt told Reuters that two students working on the excavation site last month had discovered prehistoric tools and a tooth of an hominid.

"This latest discovery of prehistoric tools and remains of hominids provides additional proof to the theory that the Great Rift Valley of Africa and perhaps the excavation site near Karonga can be considered the cradle of humankind," Prof Schrenk said.

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Modern man had sex with Neanderthals

Modern man and Neanderthals had sex across the species barrier, according to leading geneticist Professor Svante Paabo.

Professor Paabo, who is director of genetics at the renowned Max Planck Institution for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, made the claim at a conference in the Cold Springs Laboratory in New York.

But Prof Paabo said he was unclear if the couplings had led to children, of if they were capable of producing offspring.

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World's Oldest Known Granaries Predate Agriculture

A new study coauthored by Ian Kuijt, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, describes recent excavations in Jordan that reveal evidence of the world's oldest know granaries. The appearance of the granaries represents a critical evolutionary shift in the relationship between people and plant foods.

Anthropologists consider food storage to be a vital component in the economic and social package that comprises the Neolithic period, contributing to plant domestication, increasingly sedentary lifestyles and new social organizations. It has traditionally been assumed that people only started to store significant amounts of food when plants were domesticated.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Orkney Venus to face the public

The earliest human figure to be found in Scotland is to go on temporary display at Edinburgh Castle.

The Orkney Venus, which was discovered a few weeks ago, is a 5,000-year-old female carving which has the UK's first known depiction of a person's face.

It will be exhibited for a fortnight from Monday.

Historic Scotland said children would be given free entry to the castle during the exhibition, which ends on Sunday 1 November.

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Understanding Ancient Hominin Dispersals Using Artefactual Data: A Phylogeographic Analysis of Acheulean Handaxes


Reconstructing the dispersal patterns of extinct hominins remains a challenging but essential goal. One means of supplementing fossil evidence is to utilize archaeological evidence in the form of stone tools. Based on broad dating patterns, it has long been thought that the appearance of Acheulean handaxe technologies outside of Africa was the result of hominin dispersals, yet independent tests of this hypothesis remain rare. Cultural transmission theory leads to a prediction of a strong African versus non-African phylogeographic pattern in handaxe datasets, if the African Acheulean hypothesis is to be supported.

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Historian finds bronze age relic

A KEEN historian is delighted to have discovered a rare bronze age arrowhead in Rutland.

Charles Haworth, of Barleythorpe Road, Oakham, was out dog walking in Langham on Tuesday when he came across the piece of history on the edge of a ploughed field.

The 45-year-old said: "I've dreamed my whole life of finding a prehistoric flint, and now I've found one when I was least expecting it. It is always worth keeping your eyes open."

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£10m investment for Stonehenge visitor centre

THE planned visitor centre for Stonehenge has received a £10m boost from the Government.

The move has been confirmed today by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Ben Bradshaw.

Mr Bradshaw said:‪ “Stonehenge is one of our best known historic attractions, but facilities for visitors are below par.

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Sea gives up secrets to experts

With shafts of sunlight shimmering through a few metres of crystal clear water, you can pick out the cornerstones of an ancient civilisation which inspired literature and legend.

There is more than a whiff of Atlantis about the story of Pavlopetri - the world's oldest submerged town.

But the Bronze Age site, off the coast of Laconia in Greece, has its roots in fact not fiction.

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World's Oldest Submerged Town Dates Back 5,000 Years

Archaeologists surveying the world’s oldest submerged town have found ceramics dating back to the Final Neolithic. Their discovery suggests that Pavlopetri, off the southern Laconia coast of Greece, was occupied some 5,000 years ago — at least 1,200 years earlier than originally thought.

These remarkable findings have been made public by the Greek government after the start of a five year collaborative project involving the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and The University of Nottingham.

As a Mycenaean town the site offers potential new insights into the workings of Mycenaean society. Pavlopetri has added importance as it was a maritime settlement from which the inhabitants coordinated local and long distance trade.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Embattled Stonehenge visitor center seeks planning approval

English Heritage has submitted plans for approval for the Stonehenge visitor center, designed by Australian architectural practice Denton Corker Marshall, at the World Heritage Site in Wiltshire County, south west of England.

The plans, submitted to Wiltshire Council, include before and after images of the GBP25 million ($37 million) proposal, with the intention of demonstrating how the design and location of the center – on Airman’s Corner, 2.5km west of the current visitor center, on the A344 main road – will help restore the natural surroundings of Stonehenge.

Stonehenge is under the ownership of the British Crown, and English Heritage, a non-departmental public body of the government. The land surrounding the site is under the National Trust. In May 2009, the government announced that it had approved the use of the Stonehenge site after almost a decade of debate over the feasibility of setting up a visitor center so close to the ‘stones’.

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Bronze Age burial site unearthed at former rugby club

A BRONZE Age burial site has been unearthed by archaeologists excavating the former home of a Suffolk rugby club.

The two fields which served as the home of Sudbury Rugby Club in nearby Great Cornard are the source of great excitement for a team of archaeologists working at the site.

Since moving into the site off The Mead in July teams from Suffolk County Council's Archaeological Service have discovered a haul of artefacts dating back to around 3,000 BC.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

TAU archaeologists shed light on life, diet and society before the delicatessen

Contestants on TV shows like Top Chef and Hell's Kitchen know that their meat-cutting skills will be scrutinized by a panel of unforgiving judges. Now, new archaeological evidence is getting the same scrutiny by scientists at Tel Aviv University and the University of Arizona.

Their research is providing new clues about how, where and when our communal habits of butchering meat developed, and they're changing the way anthropologists, zoologists and archaeologists think about our evolutionary development, economics and social behaviors through the millennia.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

5000-year-old tombs under study in Kercem

Studies are underway on two tombs believed to be 5000 years old, which have been discovered in an excavation site in Kercem, Gozo.

The tombs were unearthed during extension works at the parish priest's house, which lies adjacent to the parish church. Pottery recovered so far place the origins of tombs in the Tarxien phase of Maltese prehistory, currently dated to about 3000-2500 BC. The excavations are being carried out by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage under the direction of Anthony Pace.

The Department of Information said the rock-cut tombs lay undisturbed for almost 5000 years. They may have been first encountered during the construction of Kercem parish church, between 1846-51, which involved extensive quarrying. However the tombs did not draw any further attention and went unnoticed for another 163 years until the present development.

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Ardi on the Discovery Channel

Tonight, the Discovery Channel features a special on Ardipithecus ramidus called "Discovering Ardi". Although I haven't seen the video, the website for the project has a dozen video clips featuring Owen Lovejoy discussing the ramifications, some simulation video of Ardipithecus walking and a video on how Jay Matternes created his reconstruction drawing of Ardi.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Irish farming in 3000 BC

BALLYCASTLE, Ireland--It took 40 years, but Seamas Caulfield finally solved the puzzle of his father's peat bog, and in the process unearthed a 5,000-year-old Stone Age village.

Schoolteacher Patrick Caulfield was digging peat--long-decayed vegetation that has been used for domestic fuel in Ireland for centuries--in a bog near this western Ireland hamlet in the 1930s when his spade struck rocks two metres down.

He cleared the immediate area and discovered that the rocks formed part of a wall.

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Scientists Stonehenge discovery

For decades archaeologists have puzzled over not just how Stonehenge was built, but why, and what for.

Now a team from Bristol University has made an incredible discovery that's changing the way historians think about the ancient site. They've found another, smaller stone circle just a mile away.

Watch the video...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

History Cookbook

Welcome to the history cookbook. Do you know what the Vikings ate for dinner? What a typical meal of a wealthy family in Roman Britain consisted of, or what food was like in a Victorian Workhouse? Why not drop into history cookbook and find out? This project looks at the food of the past and how this influenced the health of the people living in each time period. You can also try some of the recipes for yourself. We have a wide range of historical recipes from Brown Bread Ice Cream to Gruel (Why not see if you would be asking for more - just like Oliver Twist).

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Mini-Stonehenge Found: Crematorium on Stonehenge Road?

Sorry, Spinal Tap fans—though a newfound stone circle in England is being called a mini-Stonehenge, it was never in danger of being crushed by a dwarf.

Thirty-three-foot-wide (ten-meter-wide) "Bluestonehenge" was discovered just over a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the original Stonehenge near Salisbury, United Kingdom, scientists announced today.

The 5,000-year-old ceremonial site is thought to have been a key stop along an ancient route between a land of the living, several miles away, and a domain of the dead—Stonehenge. At least one archaeologist thinks Bluestonehenge may have been a sort of crematorium.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Profile: Ardi: Our 4.4 million-year-old granny

PICTURE the scene. It's the African savanna of Ethiopia, 4.4 million years ago. Tuesday, to be exact, somewhere around tea-time. There is a rustle among the long grass and in the distance an elephant trumpets its annoyance, scattering parrots from the trees and sending shrews and mice scuttling deeper into the undergrowth.

A small, hairy head turns, cocks her ear and waits till any danger has passed. Ardi, as she will come to be known, is four feet tall, weighs 120 lbs and has a thin body covered in matted hair. She has very short legs and exceedingly long arms, but short palms and fingers which are flexible enough to allow them to support her entire body weight on her palms.

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Mini-Stonehenge find 'important'

Archaeologists have discovered a mini-Stonehenge, a mile from the site of Wiltshire's famous stone circle.

"Bluehenge", named after the hue of the 27 stones from Wales which once formed it, has been described by researchers as a "very important" find.

All that now exists of the 5,000-year-old site is a series of holes where the dolerite monoliths once stood.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Before Lucy came Ardi, new earliest hominid found

The story of humankind is reaching back another million years as scientists learn more about "Ardi," a hominid who lived 4.4 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia. The 110-pound, 4-foot female roamed forests a million years before the famous Lucy, long studied as the earliest skeleton of a human ancestor.

This older skeleton reverses the common wisdom of human evolution, said anthropologist C. Owen Lovejoy of Kent State University.

Rather than humans evolving from an ancient chimp-like creature, the new find provides evidence that chimps and humans evolved from some long-ago common ancestor — but each evolved and changed separately along the way.

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English archaeologists find new prehistoric site

Archaeologists have discovered a smaller prehistoric site near Britain's famous circle of standing stones at Stonehenge.

Researchers have dubbed the site "Bluehenge," after the color of the 27 Welsh stones that were laid to make up a path. The stones have disappeared but the path of holes remains.

The new circle, unearthed over the summer by researchers from Sheffield University, represents an important find, researchers said Saturday. The site is about a mile (2 kilometers) away from Stonehenge.

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