Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Popular Archaeology Magazine Launched

Popular Archaeology magazine is a 100% online periodical dedicated to participatory, or public, archaeology. Unlike most other major magazines related to archaeology, no paper copies will ever be produced and distributed, so it will always be "green", and it will always be less costly to produce and therefore far less costly to purchase by premium subscribers (although regular subscriptions are always free). Most of our writers and contributors are either professionals or top experts in their fields, or are individuals relating first-hand experiences; however, the magazine is unique among other archaeology-related magazines in that it makes it easy to invite and encourage members of the public (YOU) to submit pertinent articles, blogs, events, directory listings, and classified ads for publication. As a volunteer or student, do you have a fascinating story to tell about an archaeological experience? As a professional archaeologist, scholar, educator, or scientist, do you have a discovery, program or project that you think would be of interest to the world? Do you have an archaeology-related service or item for sale? Would you like to have your archaeology-related blog post featured on the front page? ( Ad and specially featured item prices are lower than what you will find in any other major archaeology magazine). Through Popular Archaeology, you can realize all of these things. Moreover, because the content is produced by a very broad spectrum of contributors, you will see more feature articles than what you would typically find in the major print publications, with the same content quality.

As a community of professionals, writers, students, and volunteers, we invite you to join us as subscribers in this adventure of archaeological discovery. It could open up a whole new world for you.

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German Archeologists Uncover Celtic Treasure

Archeologists in Germany have discovered a 2,600-year-old Celtic tomb containing ornate jewellery of gold and amber. They say the grave is unusually well preserved and should provide important insights into early Celtic culture.

German archeologists have unearthed a 2,600-year-old Celtic tomb containing a treasure of jewellery made of gold, amber and bronze.

The subterranean chamber measuring four by five meters was uncovered near the prehistoric Heuneburg hill fort near the town of Herbertingen in south-western Germany. Its contents including the oak floor of the room are unusually well preserved. The find is a "milestone for the reconstruction of the social history of the Celts," archeologist Dirk Krausse, the director of the dig, said on Tuesday.

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Celtic noble's tomb discovery is a 'milestone of archaeology'

Stuttgart - Scientists have discovered a 2,600 year-old aristocratic burial, likely of a Celtic noblewoman, at the hill fort site of Heuneburg in southern Germany.

The discovery has been described as a “milestone” in the study of Celtic culture.
The dig leader and chief of the Baden-Württemberg State archaeology, Dirk Krausse, referred to the discovery as a “milestone of archaeology,” according to The Local.

One reason for the claim is likely the manner of excavation, which is new. In the past, such burial chambers have been dug up piece by piece locally, but now the team lifted the entire burial chamber, measuring four by five square metres (12 by 15 square feet) as one block of earth and placed it on a special truck to be transported to the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments in Stuttgart.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Neanderthals may have feasted on meat and two veg diet

Scientists have upgraded their opinion of Neanderthal cuisine after spotting traces of cooked food on the fossilised teeth of our long-extinct cousins.

The researchers found remnants of date palms, seeds and legumes – which include peas and beans – on the teeth of three Neanderthals uncovered in caves in Iraq and Belgium.

Among the scraps of food embedded in the plaque on the Neanderthals' teeth were particles of starch from barley and water lilies that showed tell-tale signs of having been cooked.

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Neanderthals ate their greens

It just goes to show what can happen if you don't brush your teeth: some anthropologist can tip up thousands of years later and start making disparaging remarks about your diet.

A study of Neanderthal teeth from Iraq and Belgium has indicated that they didn't, as previously believed, have a diet consisting almost entirely of meat.

Scientists from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington have found specks of fossilised vegetable matter - some of it cooked - between the teeth, indicating that they were actually pretty good about getting their five a day.

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The earliest evidence of modern man?

Israeli archaeologists claim that they may have found the earliest evidence yet for the existence of modern man.

A Tel Aviv University team excavating a cave in Rosh Ha'ain in central Israel say they have found teeth that are approximately 400,000 years old. The earliest Homo sapiens remains found until now are half that old.

Archaeologist Avi Gopher said further research is needed to solidify the claim. If it does, he says, "that means that we have to rethink the basic reconstructions we have for human evolution."

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Homo sapiens lived in Eretz Yisrael 400,000 years ago

Long before the land was called Israel and the residents Jews, Homo sapiens lived here twice as long ago as was previously believed, the researchers wrote in the latest (December) edition of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

The cave was uncovered in 2000 by Prof. Avi Gopher and Dr. Ran Barkai of TAU’s Institute of Archeology. Later, Prof. Israel Hershkowitz of the Department of Anatomy and Anthropology at TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine and an international team of scientists performed a morphological analysis on the teeth found in the cave.

The examination included CT scans and X-rays indicating the size and shape of the teeth are very similar to those of modern man. The teeth found in the cave are also very similar to evidence of modern man dated to around 100,000 years ago that had previously been discovered in the Skhul Cave on Mount Carmel and the Qafzeh Cave in the Lower Galilee near Nazareth.

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Swedish scientists study ice man bacteria samples

A team of scientists are currently examining specimens of stomach bacteria from Ötzi the Iceman, who lived about 5,300 years ago, at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute (KI).

Ötzi was discovered by two Germans tourists in September 1991 in the Ötztal Alps, near Hauslabjoch in Italy close to the Austria border.

His body is usually kept frozen, but he has been thawed recently to allow experts to examine him, among them Swedish infectious disease control professor Lars Engstrand at KI.

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Ancient Bone's DNA Suggests New Human Ancestors

DNA taken from a pinkie bone at least 30,000 years old is hinting at the existence of a previously unknown population of ancient humans. It's just the latest example of how modern genetic techniques are transforming the world of anthropology.

The pinkie bone in question was unearthed in 2008 from what's called the Denisova Cave.

"The Denisova Cave is in southern Siberia in the Altai Mountains in central Asia," says David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "This bone is the bone of a 6- to 7-year-old girl."

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Weder Neandertaler noch moderner Mensch

Das Genom eines ausgestorbenen Urmenschen liefert neue Erkenntnisse über die Ursprünge des modernen Menschen

Ein internationales Forscherteam unter der Leitung von Svante Pääbo vom Max-Planck-Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie in Leipzig hat das Kerngenom eines mindestens 30.000 Jahre alten Fingerknochens sequenziert. Dieser stammt von einem ausgestorbenen Urmenschen, dessen Überreste von Archäologen der Russischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 2008 in der Denisova-Höhle im südlichen Sibirien ausgegraben wurden. Demnach war der Mensch aus Denisova weder Neandertaler noch moderner Mensch, sondern eine neue Homininenform.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Crowds expected to gather to witness magical winter solstice light ceremony at Newgrange

Despite the weather, it’s expected that like last year, crowds will gather to witness the winter solstice light ceremony on December 21. Last year the World Heritage site in Newgrange drew a large audience.

The 5,000-year-old Stone Age tomb is older than the pyramids, and over 32,000 people worldwide applied to witness last year’s magnificent winter solstice.

The tomb’s chamber lights up when the sun rises on a winter solstice morning. It is the only time of the year when the tomb lights up with natural sunlight.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Spain rethinks reopening of prehistoric art 'Sistine Chapel'

Spain's Altamira cave, dubbed the "Sistine Chapel" of Paleolithic art because of the paintings of animals on its ceiling, will no longer reopen to the public as planned at the end of the year.

The cave located some 30 kilometres (19 miles) west of the northern city of Santander has been closed since 2002 because the breath and body heat from visitors threatened the fragile natural pigments used in the cave art.

But in June the foundation which manages the the cave announced it would reopen the site to the public at the end of 2010 once a panel of experts determined how many people could safely be allowed to visit.

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Woodhenge: Is this one of the greatest discoveries of archaeology...or a simple farmer's fence?

The discovery of a wooden version of Stonehenge – a few hundred yards from the famous monument – was hailed as one of the most important archaeological finds for decades.

But now experts are at loggerheads after claims that what was thought to be a Neolithic temple was a rather more humble affair – in fact the remains of a wooden fence.

One leading expert on Stonehenge criticised the announcement of the ‘remarkable’ find in July as ‘hasty’ and warned it could become a ‘PR embarrassment’.

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Lucky duck! Spanish Bronze Age man suffered broken bone in neck – and lived

Archaeologists exploring a Bronze Age fortress at La Motilla del Azuer, in Spain, have come across a very lucky man.

One of the skeletons is of a man that lived more than 3,400 years ago and suffered a broken hyoid bone, likely caused by a blow to his neck.

The hyoid bone is a horseshoe shaped object located at the root of the tongue. Amazingly enough the injury healed and the man lived to be in his 40’s. He was five and a half feet and had a “moderate” build.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Neanderthals Fashioned Earliest Tool Made From Human Bone

The earliest known tool made from human bone has been discovered — and it was apparently crafted by Neanderthals, scientists find.

The scientists note that as of yet, they have no way to prove or disprove whether the Neanderthals who made the tool did so intentionally — for instance, for rituals or after cannibalization.

Until now, the first evidence that human bones were used either symbolically or as tools were 30,000-to 34,000-year-old perforated human teeth found at excavations in southwest France. These were apparently used as ornaments.

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Archaeology: 8000 year-old Sun temple found in Bulgaria

The oldest temple of the Sun has been discovered in northeast Bulgaria, near the city of Varna, aged at more then 8000 years, the Bulgarian National Television reported on December 15 2010.

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UK exhibits Newark, Sedgeford torcs

The British Museum has exhibited the Newark Torc alongside the museum's own Sedgeford Torc, both of which date back to the pre-Roman Iron Age.

Composed of twisted gold wire strands attached to hollow terminals, both torcs are adorned with 'La Tene' decorations, Past Horizons reported.

Visitors can see the two relics at the museum's Britain and Europe (800BCE -43CE) gallery in an exhibition which clearly depicts the complex craftsmanship behind their construction.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10 Ancient Burial Places Discovered in Stavropol Territory

The burial grounds recently found in Stavropol Territory date back to different periods, the earliest of them 5th millennium B.C.

The burial places were found out in the course of underground laying works.

Archeologists dug out ceramic vessels, labour tools made of silicon, a bronze knife, and glass beads in the ancient mounds.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Giant fossil bird found on 'hobbit' island of Flores

A giant marabou stork has been discovered on an island once home to human-like 'hobbits'.

Fossils of the bird were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores, a place previously famed for the discovery of Homo floresiensis, a small hominin species closely related to modern humans.

The stork may have been capable of hunting and eating juvenile members of this hominin species, say researchers who made the discovery, though there is no direct evidence the birds did so.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Neanderthals: how needles and skins gave us the edge on our kissing cousins

The Neanderthal genome tells us we were very similar: in fact we interbred. But intellect and invention meant that we lived while they perished, says Robin McKie

On the ground floor of the Natural History Museum in London, arrays of Formica-covered cabinets stretch from floor to ceiling and from one end of the great building to the other. Some of nature's finest glories are stored here: pygmy hippo bones from Sicily, mammoth tusks from Siberia and skulls of giant sloths from South America.

Many treasures compete for attention, but there is one sample, kept in a small plywood box, that deserves especial interest: the Swanscombe skull. Found near Gravesend last century, it is made up of three pieces of the brain case of a 400,000-year-old female and is one of only half-a-dozen bits of skeleton that can be traced to men and women who lived in Britain before the end of the last ice age. Human remains do not get more precious than this.

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Important archaeological find preserved in Scotland thanks to slow motion tree felling

A pre-historic archaeological find in the Scottish Highlands has been secured for future investigation – thanks to some inventive ‘slow-mo’ tree felling.

The find – a late prehistoric galleried dun – was discovered at a site in Strath Glass, near Cannich, during checks carried out by Forestry Commission Scotland staff of a forest block of mature Douglas fir that was due to be felled.

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Burnham hoard uncovered

Earlier this year a rare Bronze Age founders hoard, buried within a pot in an Essex field, was excavated by archaeologists after being discovered by metal detectorists. The excavation was recorded by 360Production in the following video.

Watch the video...

Global Sea-Level Rise at the End of the Last Ice Age Interrupted by Rapid 'Jumps'

Southampton researchers have estimated that sea-level rose by an average of about 1 metre per century at the end of the last Ice Age, interrupted by rapid 'jumps' during which it rose by up to 2.5 metres per century. The findings, published in Global and Planetary Change, will help unravel the responses of ocean circulation and climate to large inputs of ice-sheet meltwater to the world ocean.

Global sea level rose by a total of more than 120 metres as the vast ice sheets of the last Ice Age melted back. This melt-back lasted from about 19,000 to about 6,000 years ago, meaning that the average rate of sea-level rise was roughly 1 metre per century.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Farmers slowed down by hunter-gatherers: Our ancestors' fight for space

Agricultural – or Neolithic – economics replaced the Mesolithic social model of hunter-gathering in the Near East about 10,000 years ago. One of the most important socioeconomic changes in human history, this socioeconomic shift, known as the Neolithic transition, spread gradually across Europe until it slowed down when more northern latitudes were reached.

Research published today, Friday, 3 December 2010, in New Journal of Physics (co-owned by the Institute of Physics and the German Physical Society), details a physical model, which can potentially explain how the spreading of Neolithic farmers was slowed down by the population density of hunter-gatherers.

The researchers from Girona, in Catalonia, Spain, use a reaction-diffusion model, which explains the relation between population growth and available space, taking into account the directional space dependency of the established Mesolithic population density.

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Archaeological amazements from Bulgaria: 5 thousands year old burials (Chirpan Project)

Bulgaria is one of the archaeologically richest countries in the world. Archaeology is a highly prestige profession there with huge media interest in everything what has been discovered. Recently, thanks especially to young generations archaeologists, more information has begun to be published online. An excellent example is 2009-2010 Project "Archaeologiacal examination of a Thracian-Roman Dynasty Centre in the region of the Chirpan Eminences" directed by Dr Milena Tonkova with team. It has a special website (see photogallery).

Among the new discoveries within this project is the Early Bronze Tumulus Malkata Momina Mogila near Chirpan in South Bulgaria, Bratya Daskalovi municipality. Sadly, but significantly for science, several children’s burials were unearthed in this Tumulus (single and a group burial) together with two adolescents, two adults and a baby.

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Stonehenge Builders Said to Use Giant Wicker Baskets to Roll Massive Stones

Rolling a 4-ton stone some 200 miles from a Welsh quarry to the site that the world now knows as Stonehenge would have been a daunting enough challenge for even the hardiest of Neolithic-era laborers. There have been any number of explanations offered - the most recent coming last week when a University of Exeter archeology student suggested that wooden ball bearings balls placed in grooved wooden tracks would have facilitated the movement of the massive stone slabs.

Now add another theory to the list. Engineer Garry Lavin, who also happens to be a former BBC presenter, is making the case that giant wicker baskets were deployed by the locals to roll the boulders all that way

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Coca leaves first chewed 8,000 years ago, says research

Peruvian foraging societies were already chewing coca leaves 8,000 years ago, archaeological evidence has shown.

Ruins beneath house floors in the northwestern Peru showed evidence of chewed coca and calcium-rich rocks.

Such rocks would have been burned to create lime, chewed with coca to release more of its active chemicals.

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Coca leaves first chewed 8,000 years ago, says research

Peruvian foraging societies were already chewing coca leaves 8,000 years ago, archaeological evidence has shown.

Ruins beneath house floors in the northwestern Peru showed evidence of chewed coca and calcium-rich rocks.

Such rocks would have been burned to create lime, chewed with coca to release more of its active chemicals.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Unveiling Rock Art Images: A Pilot Project Employing a Geophysical Technique to Detect Magnetic Signatures

The use of geophysical techniques in archaeology has become widespread, however these methods have rarely been applied to rock art research. There is a need to record and document rock art images as they face deterioration from environmental, industrial and human impacts. This project trials the use of magnetic susceptibility (MS) meter to non-invasively detect and spatiallly resolve ochre rock art images

Ochre is frequently used in rock art production and previous research in other contexts has shown that it emits a MS signature due to its inherant magnetic characteristics. These ochre images can be hidden behind silica or carbonate crusts or may deteriorate ove time limiting their visibility. The rock art images that lie behind such crusts are likely to be protected from weathering and are amenable to dating using such techniques as uranium mass spectometry (AMS).

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Humankind's earliest, ancient beginnings

Forum speaker outlines documenting earliest human life in presentation on man's humble ancestors

The human race has roots that run deep dating several million years in the past. However, The Forum speaker Ann Gibbons said a different kind of race is being played out.

"The Human Race: The Quest to Find Our Earliest Ancestors," is the presentation Gibbons gave to a near-capacity crowd in Schofield Auditorium Wednesday. The main idea prevalent in her speech was the "race" that paleontologists and paleoanthropologists are in to find the earliest evidence of ancient human life still on Earth.

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Multiple burials at Orkney Neolithic site

Archaeologists have recovered remains from at least eight people after initial excavation at a Neolithic tomb site in Orkney discovered in October.

A narrow, stone-lined passageway leads to five chambers, two of which have been part-excavated so far.

Fragments of skull and hipbone have been unearthed, some carefully placed in gaps in the stones, suggesting the 5,000-year-old site is undisturbed.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Antarctic ice reveals trapped secrets of climate change

Cores drilled from the icecap are going on show at London's Science Museum. The centuries-old information they contain could help scientists predict Earth's future weather

They were found deep below Earth's surface, provide vital information about our climate's history and, for the first time, will be publicly displayed in their full freezing glory. Three pieces of ice core, drilled from the Antarctic icecap, one containing bubbles of air from the year 1410, will this week be installed in a glass-fronted freezer cabinet in the Science Museum in London's new Atmosphere gallery.

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Britain's Oldest Brain

The oldest surviving human brain in Britain, dating back at least 2000 years to the Iron Age, was unearthed during excavations on the site of the University of York’s campus expansion at Heslington East in 2008.

Archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust, commissioned by the University to carry out the exploratory dig, made the discovery in an area of extensive prehistoric farming landscape of fields, trackways and buildings dating back to at least 300 BC, and they believe the skull, which was found on its own in a muddy pit, may have been a ritual offering.

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A prehistoric star map carved on a Welsh capstone?

A recent excavation programme at a standing stone known as Trefael, near Newport (south-west Wales) has revealed that what originally was a portal dolmen in later times was transformed in a standing stone, probably used as a ritual marker to guide communities through a scared landscape.

This solitary stone has over 75 cupmarks gouged onto its upper surface. Following the complete exposure of the capstone through excavation, it is now considered by several astronomers that the distribution of the cupmarks may represent a section of the night sky that includes the star constellations of Cassiopeia, Orion, Sirius and of course the North Star.

Until recently, little was known about this stone. About 40 years ago archaeologists had speculated that it may have once formed a capstone which would have covered a small burial chamber. In order to prove or disprove this, a geophysical survey was undertaken, the results of which revealed the remains of a kidney-shaped anomaly, possibly the remnants of the cairn that would have once surrounded the chamber, with an entrance to the east.

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Face it, guys: We’re cubs compared with our forebears

I’m afraid there’s more bad news, boys.

A new book on men is out, and — guess what? — it isn’t flattering to our gender. That’s hardly surprising, given that scientists studying human males invariably conclude that we’re oversexed brutes ruled by the primitive parts of our brains.

Now you can add this: We’re also weaklings. All of us. Even the football “warriors” colliding on our TV screens this holiday weekend.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

'Ancient farm' found at site of new Forth Crossing

Archaeologists believe they may have unearthed the remains of a Neolithic farm on the site where the new Forth road bridge is to be built.

Trial trenches have been dug in a field on the outskirts of South Queensferry on land reserved for the planned Forth Replacement Crossing (FRC).

Archaeologists plan further excavations to confirm what they believe is an early version of a croft or small farm.

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Archaeologists bridge the gap between old and new

ARCHAEOLOGISTS believe they may have unearthed the remains of a neolithic farm on the site where the new Forth bridge is to be built.
The rare find offers a glimpse of how the land was used 4000 years ago.

Trial trenches have been dug across a field on the outskirts of South Queensferry on land reserved for the new crossing.

Among items dug up so far are bits of neolithic pottery, clearly decorated with patterns, as well as a flint arrowhead.

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Exeter university student sparks new Stonehenge theory

A REVOLUTIONARY new idea on the movement of big monument stones like those at Stonehenge has been put forward by an archaeology student at the University of Exeter.

While an undergraduate, Andrew Young saw a correlation between standing stone circles in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and a concentration of carved stone balls, which may have been used to help transport the big stones by functioning like ball bearings.

Young discovered that many of the late Neolithic stone balls had a diameter within a millimetre of each other, which he felt indicated they would have been used together in some way rather than individually.

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Researchers Kick-Start Ancient DNA

Binghamton University researchers recently revived ancient bacteria trapped for thousands of years in water droplets embedded in salt crystals.

For decades, geologists have looked at these water droplets -- called fluid inclusions -- and wondered whether microbes could be extracted from them. Fluid inclusions have been found inside salt crystals ranging in age from thousands to hundreds of millions years old.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stone age skull found in Orkney

AN ALMOST intact human skull which may date back 5,000 years has been exhumed from a tomb in South Ronaldsay in Orkney.
The burial chamber containing a collection of bones was discovered by boat owner Hamish Mowatt, who caught a glimpse inside the tomb in September, when he was tidying the garden of a bistro owned by his fiancée, Carole Fletcher.

Archeologists believe the layout of the newly uncovered tomb may shed light on the rituals and beliefs of our neolithic ancestors. Dan Lee, project officer with the Orkney Research Centre for Archeology, said: "It's an important site because it gives us the chance to investigate a tomb using modern archaeological techniques.

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Modern man outlived Neanderthals due to 'live slow and grow old' strategy

Modern man developed a better brain than Neanderthals because of our "live slow and grow old" strategy, a study claimed.

Humans became more sophisticated than other species because of our uniquely slow physical development and long childhood, it was claimed.

Other primates have shorter gestation, mature faster in childhood, reproduce at a younger age and have shorter lifespans, even when compared with early humans.

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Synchrotron reveals human children outpaced Neanderthals by slowing down

Human childhood is considerably longer than chimpanzees, our closest-living ape relatives. A multinational team of specialists, led by researchers from Harvard University, Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) and the ESRF, applied cutting-edge synchrotron X-ray imaging to resolve microscopic growth in 10 young Neanderthal and Homo sapiens fossils. They found that despite some overlap, which is common in closely-related species, significant developmental differences exist. Modern humans are the slowest to the finish line, stretching out their maturation, which may have given them a unique evolutionary advantage.

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Neandertal Children Developed on the Fast Track

Parents who think their kids are growing up too fast should be glad they're not Neandertals. A new study of the fossilized teeth of eight Neandertal children finds that their permanent teeth grew significantly faster and erupted earlier than those of our own species, Homo sapiens. Taken with recent studies showing subtle differences in the brain maturation and developmental genes in Neandertals and H. sapiens, the new data suggest Neandertal kids may have reached adulthood a few years faster than modern human children do.

Researchers have long known that humans grow up slowly. We take almost twice as long as chimpanzees to reach adulthood. Our distant ancestors were more like chimps; Lucy and other australopithecines, for example, matured quickly and died young. When—and why—did we evolve the ability to prolong childhood?

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Flint tools found in 5,500-year-old tomb

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have uncovered flint tools while excavating a portal tomb dating back 5,500 years in Co

Cormac McSparron, from the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork at Queen's University, said they had expected to find human burial, but the nature of the soil at Tirnony dolmen, near Maghera, had caused any bones to decay completely.

"We have found several different types of flint tools – a couple of really fne fint knives and scrapers placed into the tomb with the personal possessions of the deceased, presumably for them to take with them into the afterlife," he said.

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Prehistoric Ilkley Moor carvings to be preserved in 3D

Prehistoric carvings on Ilkley Moor are to be preserved with help from the latest technology so future generations will be able to enjoy and study them.

Archaeologists hope to create digital 3D models of the carvings amid fears the originals could be eroded away.

Community archaeologist Gavin Edwards said this was an important development.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ancient DNA Reveals Origins Of First European Farmers

A team of international researchers led by ancient DNA experts from the University of Adelaide has helped resolve the longstanding issue of the origins of the people who introduced farming to Europe some 8000 years ago. A detailed genetic study of one of the first farming communities in Europe, from central Germany, reveals marked similarities with populations living in the Ancient Near East (modern-day Turkey, Iraq and other countries) rather than those from Europe. The results of the study will today in the online peer-reviewed science journal PLoS Biology.

Lead author Dr Wolfgang Haak, of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) at the University of Adelaide, says "We have shown that the first farmers in Europe had a much greater genetic input from the Near East and Anatolia, than from populations of Stone Age hunter-gatherers who already existed in the area."

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Early Cities Spurred Evolution of Immune System?

"Amazing" DNA results show benefits of ancient urbanization, study says.

As in cities today, the earliest towns helped expose their inhabitants to inordinate opportunities for infection—and today their descendants are stronger for it, a new study says.

"If cities increase the amount of disease people are exposed to, shouldn't they also, over time, make them natural places for disease resistance to evolve?" asked study co-author Mark Thomas, a biologist at University College London.

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The brains of Neanderthals and modern humans developed differently

Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany have documented species differences in the pattern of brain development after birth that are likely to contribute to cognitive differences between modern humans and Neanderthals.

Whether cognitive differences exist between modern humans and Neanderthals is the subject of contentious disputes in anthropology and archaeology. Because the brain size range of modern humans and Neanderthals overlap, many researchers previously assumed that the cognitive capabilities of these two species were similar. Among humans, however, the internal organization of the brain is more important for cognitive abilities than its absolute size is. The brain’s internal organization depends on the tempo and mode of brain development.

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Ancient DNA from European Early Neolithic Farmers Reveals Their Near Eastern Affinities

In Europe, the Neolithic transition (8,000–4,000 B.C.) from hunting and gathering to agricultural communities was one of the most important demographic events since the initial peopling of Europe by anatomically modern humans in the Upper Paleolithic (40,000 B.C.). However, the nature and speed of this transition is a matter of continuing scientific debate in archaeology, anthropology, and human population genetics. To date, inferences about the genetic make up of past populations have mostly been drawn from studies of modern-day Eurasian populations, but increasingly ancient DNA studies offer a direct view of the genetic past. We genetically characterized a population of the earliest farming culture in Central Europe, the Linear Pottery Culture (LBK; 5,500–4,900 calibrated B.C.) and used comprehensive phylogeographic and population genetic analyses to locate its origins within the broader Eurasian region, and to trace potential dispersal routes into Europe.

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Fertile Crescent farmers took DNA to Germany

DNA evidence suggests that immigrants from the Ancient Near East brought farming to Europe, and spread the practice to the region's hunter-gatherer communities, according to Australian-led research.

A genetic study of ancient DNA, published in PLoS Biology today, adds crucial information to the long-running debate about how farming was introduced to Europe's nomadic hunter-gatherer societies almost 8000 years ago.

An international research team, led by University of Adelaide experts, compared ancient DNA from the remains of Early Neolithic farmers at a burial site in central Germany with a large genetic database of European and Eurasian populations.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Babies' brains 'resemble those of Neanderthals'

New-born humans' brains are about the same size and of similar appearance to those of Neanderthals, but alter in the first year of life, a new scientific study suggested.

The differences between our brains and those of our extinct relatives take shape mainly after birth and in the initial 12 months, a report in Current Biology said.

The findings are based on comparisons of virtual imprints of the developing brain and surrounding structures, called endocasts, derived from the skulls of modern and fossilised humans, including that of a newborn Neanderthal.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Dig uncovers prehistoric burials

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are unearthing another fascinating glimpse of the island’s prehistoric past.

A dig currently being carried out near the Balthane industrial estate in Ballasalla has uncovered remains of Neolithic urns dating back 4,000 years together with later Bronze Age burial cists.

Another excavation nearby has unearthed more cremation urns.

Both digs are being carried out by teams from Oxford Archaeology.

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CSI Iron Age

Next week, a forensic anthropologist will explain how scientists reopened the oldest cold case in Irish history. Clodagh Finn on the investigation into the brutal slaying of two important aristocrats

The first thing that strikes you about one of Ireland's oldest murder victims is his beautifully manicured hands. This man, who once stood an impressive 6ft 6in tall, never did a day's manual labour in his life.

In fact, his fingerprint whorls were so perfectly preserved when his remains came out of the bog near Croghan Hill in Co Meath in May 2003 that gardai were called in to investigate a possible murder.

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Items found in Monmouth shed light on Mesolithic man

The discovery of artefacts during gas mains excavations in Monmouth has helped illustrate how the River Wye supported a Stone Age camp.

Archaeologists found flint tools and bone fragments at St James's Square and Wyebridge Street.

They indicate hunter-gatherers used the River Wye for food and transport some 6,500 to 7,500 years ago.

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Megalithic tomb’s secrets revealed after 5,500 years

Flint tools from the dawn of time and an ancient blue glass bead have been uncovered by archaeologists excavating a portal tomb in Northern Ireland for the first time in 50 years.

The team are thrilled with the discoveries yielded by Tirnony dolmen near Maghera.

Portal tombs, which are among the oldest built structures still surviving in the province, are usually off limits to archaeologists as preservation orders protect them from intrusive processes such as excavations.

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World's oldest axe found in Australia

Archaeologists have discovered a piece of a stone axe in far northern Australia, which they believe is the oldest of its kind to have been found.

The 35,500-year-old piece was found in a remote part of the Northern Territory among traditional Aboriginal rock art paintings dating back to thousands of years ago.

The shard bears some marks which show that it was once part of a ground-edge stone axe.

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Beer Lubricated the Rise of Civilization, Study Suggests

May beer have helped lead to the rise of civilization? It's a possibility, some archaeologists say.

Their argument is that Stone Age farmers were domesticating cereals not so much to fill their stomachs but to lighten their heads, by turning the grains into beer. That has been their take for more than 50 years, and now one archaeologist says the evidence is getting stronger.

Signs that people went to great lengths to obtain grains despite the hard work needed to make them edible, plus the knowledge that feasts were important community-building gatherings, support the idea that cereal grains were being turned into beer, said archaeologist Brian Hayden at Simon Fraser University in Canada.

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Language and toolmaking evolved together, say researchers

Evolutionary advance saw stone-age humans master the art of hand-toolmaking and paved the way for language to develop

Stone-age humans mastered the art of elegant hand-toolmaking in an evolutionary advance that boosted their brain power and potentially paved the way for language, researchers say.

The design of stone tools changed dramatically in human pre-history, beginning more than two million years ago with sharp but primitive stone flakes, and culminating in exquisite, finely honed hand axes 500,000 years ago.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

How 5000-yr-old Neolithic men painted their homes

London, Oct 30 : A new research has revealed that our ancestors from 5,000 years ago painted their homes to brighten up their places too.

They used red, yellow and orange pigments from ground-up minerals and bound it with animal fat and eggs to make their paint, the new study from a Stone Age settlement on the island of Orkney revealed.

Several stones used to form the buildings painted and decorated by the locals in about 3,000 BC, most probably to to enhance important buildings and may have been found in entranceways or areas of the building, which had particular significance.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stonehenge bosses 'regret' photography ban (update)

English Heritage has issued a statement to photographers after it sent an email that banned commercial use of images of historic tourist attraction Stonehenge.

The storm centred on a message sent to picture agency fotoLibra which read: 'We are sending you an email regarding images of Stonehenge on your fotoLibra website.

'Please be aware that any images of Stonehenge cannot be used for any commercial interest, all commercial interest to sell images must be directed to English Heritage.'

But the email prompted a flood of angry responses on fotoLibra's website.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hunting for the Dawn of Writing, When Prehistory Became History

One of the stars of the Oriental Institute’s new show, “Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond,” is a clay tablet that dates from around 3200 B.C. On it, written in cuneiform, the script language of ancient Sumer in Mesopotamia, is a list of professions, described in small, repetitive impressed characters that look more like wedge-shape footprints than what we recognize as writing.

In fact “it is among the earliest examples of writings that we know of so far,” according to the institute’s director, Gil J. Stein, and it provides insights into the life of one of the world’s oldest cultures.

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Archaeologists find early Neolithic evidence

Cornell archaeologists are helping to rewrite the early prehistory of human civilization on Cyprus, with evidence that hunter-gatherers began to form agricultural settlements on the island half a millennium earlier than previously believed.

Beginning with pedestrian surveys of promising sites in 2005, students have assisted with fieldwork on Cyprus led by professor of classics Sturt Manning, director of Cornell's archaeology program. The project, Elaborating the Early Neolithic on Cyprus (EENC), has involved undergraduate and graduate students from Cornell, the University of Toronto and the University of Cyprus.

Their findings were published recently in the leading archaeological journal Antiquity, after being reported to Cyprus' Department of Antiquities and presented at an annual archaeological conference there.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

5,000-year-old door found in Europe

Archaeologists in the Swiss city of Zurich have found a 5,000-year-old door that may be one of the oldest ever found in Europe.

Niels Bleicher, the chief archaeologist, said the ancient poplar wood door is "solid and elegant" with well-preserved hinges and a "remarkable" design for holding the boards together.

Using treee rings to determine its age, Bleicher believes the door could have been made in the year 3,063BC, around the time construction on Britain's Stonehenge monument began.

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Swiss archaeologists find 5,000-year-old door

Archaeologists in the Swiss city of Zurich have found a 5,000-year-old door that may be the oldest ever found in Europe.

Chief archaeologist Niels Bleicher says the ancient poplar wood door is "solid and elegant" with well-preserved hinges and a "remarkable" design for holding the boards together.

Bleicher said Tuesday the door has been dated to 3,100 years B.C.

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Stone Age flour found across Europe

Once thought of as near total carnivores, early humans ate ground flour 20,000 years before the dawn of agriculture. Flour residues recovered from 30,000-year-old grinding stones found in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic point to widespread processing and consumption of plant grain, according to a paper published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1.

"It's another nail in the coffin of the idea that hunter–gatherers didn't use plants for food," says Ofer Bar-Yosef, an archaeologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who was not involved in the study. Work in recent years has also uncovered a handful of Stone Age sites in the Near East with evidence for plant-eating.

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A Setback for Neandertal Smarts?

Neandertals are looking sharp these days. Many researchers now credit our evolutionary cousins, once regarded as brutish and dumb, with "modern behavior," such as making sophisticated tools and fashioning jewelry, a sign of symbolic expression. But new radiocarbon dating at a site in France could mar this flattering view. The study concludes that the archaeological layers at the site are so mixed up that ornaments and tools once attributed to Neandertals could actually be the work of modern humans, who lived in the same cave at a later date.

One prominent researcher even argues that this celebrated site, the Grotte du Renne (literally "reindeer cave") at Arcy-sur-Cure in central France, should now be eliminated from scientific consideration. "This key site should be disqualified from the debate over [Neandertal] symbolism," says Randall White, an archaeologist at New York University. But João Zilhão, an archaeologist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom who has often tussled with White and other researchers over the evidence from the Grotte du Renne, says that the new study "prove[s] the exact opposite of what [its] authors claim."

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Man who discovered Iron Age torcs with metal detector set for £460,000 windfall

Amateur metal-detecting enthusiast, David Booth, who discovered a collection of Iron Age gold in a field near Stirling has could be in line for a £460,000 payment.

The keeper at Blair Drummond Safari park, pictured, had owned his metal detector for only five days when he discovered four 2,000-year-old gold neckbands last September.

Mr Booth, who was on his first trip outdoors with the equipment, took the bands back to his home near Stirling and contacted the authorities.

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Maghera tomb: 5,000-year-old burial site to give up secrets

Archaeologists are to dig out a portal tomb in Northern Ireland for the first time in 50 years.

The collapse of Tirnony Dolmen near Maghera has produced a rare opportunity to discover what lies beneath — and exactly how old it is.

Normally portal tombs, which are among the oldest built structures still standing in Northern Ireland, are off limits to excavators and must be preserved.

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How Middle Eastern Milk Drinkers Conquered Europe

New research has revealed that agriculture came to Europe amid a wave of immigration from the Middle East during the Neolithic period. The newcomers won out over the locals because of their sophisticated culture, mastery of agriculture -- and their miracle food, milk.

Wedged in between dump trucks and excavators, archeologist Birgit Srock is drawing the outline of a 7,200-year-old posthole. A concrete mixing plant is visible on the horizon. She is here because, during the construction of a high-speed rail line between the German cities of Nuremberg and Berlin, workers happened upon a large Neolithic settlement in the Upper Franconia region of northern Bavaria.

The remains of more than 40 houses were unearthed, as well as skeletons, a spinning wheel, bulbous clay vessels, cows' teeth and broken sieves for cheese production -- a typical settlement of the so-called Linear Pottery culture (named after the patterns on their pottery).

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Bejeweled Stonehenge Boy Came From Mediterranean?

As a major attraction for more than 3,500 years, Stonehenge has inspired many an ancient road trip.

Now, new evidence shows that Bronze Age people journeyed all the way from the Mediterranean coast (regional map)—more than 500 miles (805 kilometers) away—to see the standing stones on Britain's Salisbury Plain. (See Stonehenge pictures.)

Chemical analysis of the teeth of a 14- or 15-year-old boy—buried outside the town of Amesbury (map), about three miles (five kilometers) from Stonehenge (map)—reveal that he hailed from somewhere in the Mediterranean region, new research shows.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bronze Age civilisation discovered in Russian Caucasus

Traces of a previously unknown Bronze Age civilisation have been discovered in the peaks of Russia's Caucasus Mountains thanks to aerial photographs taken 40 years ago, researchers said on Monday.

"We have discovered a civilisation dating from the 16th to the 14th centuries BC, high in the mountains south of Kislovodsk," in Russia's North Caucasus region, Andrei Belinsky, the head of a joint Russian-German expedition that has been investigating the region for five years, told AFP.

He said researchers had discovered stone foundations, some up to a metre (3.3 feet) high, at nearly 200 sites, all "visibly constructed according to the same architectural plan, with an oval courtyard in the centre, and connected by roads."

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Monday, October 11, 2010

My bright idea: Neanderthals could show compassion

Dr Penny Spikins is a young archaeologist at the University of York who focuses her research on social and cognitive evolution and prehistoric social dynamics, writing across a diverse range of subjects including the role of prestigious leaders and the occurrence of autism in past societies.In her new book, The Prehistory of Compassion, written with researchers Holly Rutherford and Andy Needham, she rejects the popular portrayal of Neanderthals as simple, unfeeling brutes and suggests that our closest ancient relatives may well have demonstrated a level of compassion that would put many modern humans to shame, caring for the infirm and the vulnerable for years at a time in organised groups.

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'Mini-Pompeii' Found in Norway

Norwegian archaeologists have unearthed a Neolithic “mini Pompeii” at a campsite near the North Sea, they announced this week.

Discovered at Hamresanden, not far from Kristiansand’s airport at Kjevik in southern Norway, the settlement has remained undisturbed for 5,500 years, buried under three feet of sand.

“We expected to find an 'ordinary' Scandinavian Stone Age site, badly preserved and small. Instead, we discovered a unique site, buried under a thick sand layer,” lead archaeologist Lars Sundström, of the Museum of Cultural History at the University in Oslo, told Discovery News.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Unearthed Aryan cities rewrite history

BRONZE Age cities archaeologists say could be the precursor of Western civilisation is being uncovered in excavations on the Russian steppe.

Twenty of the spiral-shaped settlements, believed to be the original home of the Aryan people, have been identified, and there are about 50 more suspected sites. They all lie buried in a region more than 640km long near Russia's border with Kazakhstan.

The cities are thought to have been built 3500-4000 years ago, soon after the Great Pyramid in Egypt. They are about the same size as several of the city states of ancient Greece, which started to come into being in Crete at about the same time.

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Archaeologists find ‘mini-Pompeii’

The most well-preserved pottery from the Stone Age ever found in Norway has turned up in an unspoiled dwelling site not far from Kristiansand. The find is considered an archaeological sensation.

The discovery of a “sealed” Stone Age house site from 3500 BC has stirred great excitement among archaeologists from Norway’s Museum of Cultural History at the University in Oslo. The settlement site at Hamresanden, close to Kristiansand’s airport at Kjevik in Southern Norway, looks like it was covered by a sandstorm, possibly in the course of a few hours.

The catastrophe for the Stone Age occupants has given archaeologists an untouched “mini-Pompeii,” containing both whole and reparable pots.

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Steinzeit-Skelett aus Arnoldsweiler geborgen

Die Ausgrabung eines großen Fundplatzes auf der künftigen Trasse der A 4 bei Düren-Arnoldsweiler hatte spektakuläre Ergebnisse erbracht – sie waren bereits Anfang September der Öffentlichkeit vorgestellt worden. Neben Funden aus der Römer- und der Bronzezeit gruben die Archäologen ein jungsteinzeitliches Dorf der ersten Bauern im Rheinland samt Bestattungsplatz aus.

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No Evidence Found Of Catastrophic Impact In Pleistocene

Anthropology professor Vance T. Holliday and others take issue with claims that a comet strike led to the demise of Paleoindian megafauna hunters during the Pleistocene.

The notion of an object such as a comet or asteroid
striking the Earth and wiping out entire species is compelling, and sometimes there's good evidence for it. Most scientists now agree that a very large object from space crashed into what is now the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico 65 million years ago, altering climate patterns sufficiently to end the age of the dinosaurs.

The theory was backed up by supporting evidence, and while not everyone in the scientific community was on board at first, it's now generally accepted.

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Seafood diet behind big brains

Our love of seafood goes way back. Archaeologists have found crocodiles, turtles and fish were eaten by early humans almost 2 million years ago.

According to the study's researchers, this is the oldest evidence for a diet containing aquatic animals. And the nutrients they provided could have fuelled the evolution of our large hu man brains, the boffins added.

"These aquatic foods are really important sources of the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and docosahexaenoic acid that are so critical to human brain growth," said co-author and paleoanthropologist Dr. Richmond. "Finding these foods in the diets of our early ancestors suggests they may have helped to lift constraints on brain size and fuel the evolution of a larger brain."

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Trampling Skews Artifact Dates by Thousands of Years?

Around the world, the hooves of water buffaloes, goats, and other large animals may have propelled countless Stone Age artifacts back in time, at least as far as archaeologists are concerned.

In wet areas, wild or domestic animals' heavy footfalls can push stone artifacts deep into the ground, making them seem older than they really are—in some cases, thousands of years older—according to a new study.

Scientists often date artifacts of the Stone Age, which began about two and a half million years ago, based on the depths at which the items are found: The deeper the object, the older it is, generally speaking.

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What we can learn from our hunter-gatherer ancestors

The roots of our current problems of climate change and resource depletion go back 6,000 years to the arrival of farming

As an archaeologist my work is rooted in the past. As an inhabitant of the 21st century, I try to be "green". As an academic I am keen to re-awaken interest in the ancient hunter-gatherer population who lived in Britain before the arrival of farming 6,000 years ago. In my recent research, I found that all three come together and, what is more, they help me to show that archaeology has relevance – it is not just old stones and bones.

There is a growing realisation that life, as we live it, is not sustainable. We devote books, magazines, courses and thinktanks to the problem. But the existing analysis is shallow; it focuses on the present and on the status quo. For this reason, there is no quick fix for us today; to talk about climate change, renewable energy or staycations is merely to scratch the surface of something much deeper.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Remains of Neolithic village discovered in SW Budapest

The remains of a 7,000-year-old village have been unearthed in southwest Budapest's 22nd district by archaeologists of the Budapest History Museum, the museum reported on its website on Wednesday.

During the excavations, which precede earthworks for a section of the M0 ring around the city, the experts have discovered the foundations of six buildings which originally had clay walls supported by wooden beams.

Next to the houses, the archaeologists have found remains of baking ovens, storage pits and waste holes in the ground, yielding a rich collection of broken clay vessels and stone tools from the Linear Pottery Culture, Gabor Szilas, leader of the excavations told MTI.

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Animal burials at Carshalton

A series of 2,000 year old animal burials have been found at Carshalton, London Borough of Sutton.

The burials, which were placed in pits, were discovered in an excavation being done before Stanley Park High School moves from its current location to a new site on the former Queen Mary’s Hospital at Orchard Hill. The pits belonged to a farm that was lived in before the Roman conquest in AD 43 and which continued to be occupied for a few generations afterwards. At this time people lived in round houses which had conical thatched roofs.

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Volcanoes Killed Off Neanderthals, Study Suggests

Catastrophic volcanic eruptions in Europe may have culled Neanderthals to the point where they couldn't bounce back, according to a controversial new theory.

Modern humans, though, squeaked by, thanks to fallback populations in Africa and Asia, researchers say.

About 40,000 years ago in what we now call Italy and the Caucasus Mountains, which straddle Europe and Asia, several volcanoes erupted in quick succession, according to a new study to be published in the October issue of the journal Current Anthropology.

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Neanderthals More Intelligent Than Thought

For the last fifty years, any discovery of modern tools associated with a Neanderthal community was thought to be a byproduct of Neanderthal-human interactions. The scientific thinking was that there was no way these other hominids could have developed such technology on their own.

Or could they? Now a new study suggests that at least one group of Neanderthals learned how to adapt and make different, better tools independently.

Anthropologist Julien Riel-Salvatore of the University of Colorado, Denver has studied Italian Neanderthal communities for the last seven years. His work sheds new light on the way we look at Neanderthals and their history.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Online Courses in Archaeology with the University of Oxford

Cave paintings, castles and pyramids, Neanderthals, Romans and Vikings - archaeology is about the excitement of discovery, finding out about our ancestors, exploring landscape through time, piecing together puzzles of the past from material remains.

Our courses enable you to experience all this through online archaeological resources based on primary evidence from excavations and artefacts and from complex scientific processes and current thinking. Together with guided reading, discussion and activities you can experience how archaeologists work today to increase our knowledge of people and societies from the past.

View the courses available this term...

Caveman diet could hold key to optimum nutrition

Unilever has for the first time gathered unlikely scientific bedfellows from the fields of archaeology, anthropology, evolutionary genetics, food science and botany to recreate the diet of a caveman.

The research seeks to improve understanding of the complex relationship between our genetic make-up and the changes to our diet since the pre-farming Stone Age period, and could unlock the potential to enhance our own health in the 21st century.

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In pictures: Bronze Age dig uncovers murdered man

The Bronze age in the Isle of Man ran from around 2000 BC to 600 BC. Houses, burial sites and artefacts from this era have been found all over the Island.

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8,000-year-old seal unearthed in western Turkey

Archaeologists have unearthed a seal believed to be 8,000 years old during excavations in the Yeşilova Tumulus, one of the oldest settlements in western Turkey.

Associate Professor Zafer Derin, who has been leading the excavations from Ege University’s Department of Archaeology, said they found a historical artifact that proved that settlement in the western province of Izmir began some 8,500 years ago.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Greek archaeologists uncover ancient tombs

Greek archaeologists on Thursday announced the discovery of 37 ancient tombs dating back to the iron age in a cemetery near the ancient Macedonian capital of Pellas.

Discoveries at the site included a bronze helmet with a gold mouthplate, with weapons and jewellery, in the tomb of a warrior from the 6th century BC.

A total of 37 new tombs were discovered during excavation work this year, adding to more than 1,000 tombs since work began in 2000, researchers said.

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Iron Age village found at UK school building site

Ancient human infant and animal remains believed to be more than 2,000 years old have been unearthed during the construction of a school in London. Archaeologists say the discovery, one of the most important in the British capital in recent years, points to evidence of an Iron Age and early Roman farming settlement.

Experts say the find is important because similar sites from the period in the area have been destroyed by later development.

Excavations have revealed child and animal burials -- some dating from Roman rule -- dotted across the south London site as well as an assortment of weaponry, including a spear and a shield.

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Bronze Age burials at Inverness Asda site

A Bronze Age burial site has been uncovered at the planned location of the Highlands' first Asda supermarket.

Archaeologists found an area of cremation pits surrounded by a ring ditch at Slackbuie, in Inverness.

Almost 2,000 flints were also recovered from the field on the city's distributor road.

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Researchers unearth 8,500-year-old bodies near Bursa

Ancient bodies believed to be 8,500 years old have been unearthed at a burial mound in the Akçalar area of the Marmara province of Bursa.

The five bodies, reportedly belonging to two adults and three children aged between 3 and 5, were found at the Aktopraklık mound.

“Their arms were tied behind their backs, indicating that they may have been killed or sacrificed,” said Associate Professor Necmi Karul, head of the prehistory department at Istanbul University’s literature faculty and leader of the excavation.

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Violent death of Bronze Age man examined by Manx Museum

Investigations into the mysterious death of a Bronze Age man are helping to paint a picture of life on the Isle of Man over 3,000 years ago.

During excavations at Ronaldsway in 2008, three burial sites and the remains of a village were unearthed.

Archaeologists found that one skeleton bore the marks of a violent death.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Bronze Age Gold Treasure found in East Kent

Two Bronze Age gold bracelets almost 3,000 years old have been discovered during excavations along the route of the East Kent Access Road. When they were found one bracelet was placed inside the other.

Find out more on the Archaeology of the East Kent Access Road website.

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Scalpels and skulls point to Bronze Age brain surgery

Önder Bilgi talks about his discovery of a razor-sharp 4000-year-old scalpel and what it was originally used for

Where are you digging?

At an early Bronze Age settlement called Ikiztepe, in the Black Sea province of Samsun in Turkey. The village was home to about 300 people at its peak, around 3200 to 2100 BC. They lived in rectangular, single-storey houses made of logs, which each had a courtyard and oven in the front.

You have found what appear to be scalpels.

That's right. We have just found two cutting blades made of obsidian, a volcanic glass that forms a sharp edge when it fractures. The obsidian must have been imported from another region as there is no natural source of it in the area. We found the blades next to a circular clay platform that may have been used for religious ceremonies. The blades are double-sided, about 4 centimetres long, and very, very sharp. They would still cut you today.

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Human Meat Just Another Meal for Early Europeans?

For some European cavemen, human meat wasn't a ritual delicacy or a food of last resort but an everyday meal, according to a new study of fossil bones found in Spain.

And, it seems, everyone in the area was doing it, making the discovery "the oldest example of cultural cannibalism known to date," the study says.

The 800,000-year-old butchered bones from the cave, called Gran Dolina, indicate cannibalism was rife among members of western Europe's first known human species, Homo antecessor.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tortoise banquet: Remains of the oldest feast found

In a cave 12,000 years ago, a group of people settled down to a dinner that has rarely been matched: 71 tortoises that had been roasted in their shells.

The discovery of the shells shows that feasting occurred 2500 years earlier than previously thought, at a critical stage in the transition from hunter-gathering to settled farming.

The remains of the feast were found in Hilazon Tachtit cave in Israel by Natalie Munro of the University of Connecticut in Storrs and Leore Grosman of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It is a burial ground that contains the bones of 28 people.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Acoustic archaeology: The secret sounds of Stonehenge

Just after sunrise on a misty spring morning last year, my fellow acoustician at the University of Salford, Bruno Fazenda, and Rupert Till of the University of Huddersfield, UK, could be found wandering around Stonehenge popping balloons. This was not some bizarre pagan ritual. It was a serious attempt to capture the "impulse response" of the ancient southern English stone circle, and with it perhaps start to determine how Stonehenge might have sounded to our ancestors.

An impulse response characterises all the paths taken by the sound between its source – in this case a popping balloon – and a microphone positioned a few metres away. It is simply a plot of the sound pressure at the microphone in the seconds after the pop. The first, strongest peak on the plot represents the sound that travelled directly from the source to the microphone. Later, smaller peaks indicate the arrival of reflections off the stones. The recording and plot shows the impulse response Bruno and Rupert measured with a microphone positioned at the centre of Stonehenge and a popping balloon at the edge of the circle

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Prehistoric ‘Iceman’ Gets Ceremonial Twist

A prehistoric man whose naturally mummified body was discovered frozen in the Italian Alps may have been toted up the mountain by his comrades, a new study suggests.
Click here to find out more!

The Iceman, also nicknamed Ötzi, lived between 5,350 and 5,100 years ago as part of a genetically distinct European population (SN Online: 10/30/08). Hikers noticed the Iceman poking out of a glacier in 1991.

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Eine neue Mammutfundstelle im Kanton Aargau

Sprengungsarbeiten beim Steinbruch der Firma Jura Cement in Wildegg (Kanton Aargau) förderten in einem bisher nicht dafür bekannten Gebiet Knochen und Stosszähnereste von Mammuts zu Tage.

Nach Sprengungsarbeiten zur Materialgewinnung im Steinbruch der Firma Jura Cement hat der zuständige Sprengmeister Knochenreste, einen Zahn und Elfenbeinbruchstücke entdeckt, die auf Grund der Grösse und Fundlage einen Mammut vermuten liessen. Darüber hinaus waren an der gesprengten Wand noch fünf kreisförmige Strukturen sichtbar, die auf weitere Reste von Stosszähnen hindeuteten.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bronze Age henge found in Hertfordshire

A Bronze Age henge has been discovered on land near Letchworth.

Archaeologists have found a circular area about 50 metres wide surrounded by a bank at Stapleton's Field in Norton.

North Herts Archaeology Officer, Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews said: "Henges are quite rare with only 60 known in the UK, so this is a significant find.

"It's interesting as the only other henge known locally is on Western Hills, which is visible from the site we are working on."

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dig unearths insight into life before the Romans

THE third phase of the Big Dig at Brading Roman Villa may well have been one of the toughest excavations eminent archaeologist Sir Barry Cunliffe had ever undertaken but it has yielded some treasures and a greater understanding of Brading’s history up to its Roman occupation.

With the three-week dig ending yesterday (Friday), Sir Barry’s team has unearthed, over the past two weeks, numerous pottery remains, ranging from pieces of amphorae to a tray for sifting sea water to extract salt.

The discovery of a second century BC saucepan became the earliest evidence of occupation on the site, pushing its history back as much as two centuries.
Examples of early jewellery were also found, which included an example of a small mid-first century AD brooch inlaid with enamel.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

'Mitochondrial Eve': Mother of All Humans Lived 200,000 Years Ago

The most robust statistical examination to date of our species' genetic links to "mitochondrial Eve" -- the maternal ancestor of all living humans -- confirms that she lived about 200,000 years ago. The Rice University study was based on a side-by-side comparison of 10 human genetic models that each aim to determine when Eve lived using a very different set of assumptions about the way humans migrated, expanded and spread across Earth.

The research is available online in the journal Theoretical Population Biology.

"Our findings underscore the importance of taking into account the random nature of population processes like growth and extinction," said study co-author Marek Kimmel, professor of statistics at Rice. "Classical, deterministic models, including several that have previously been applied to the dating of mitochondrial Eve, do not fully account for these random processes."

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Europe's prehistoric tombs built in bursts

Western Europe's massive prehistoric tombs were built in a burst of activity over a few centuries around 4000 BC, suggests dating evidence, rather than continuously throughout the Stone Age.

In the current European Journal of Archaeology, archaeologist Chris Scarre of the United Kingdom's Durham University, looks at the latest dating of "megalithic" prehistoric tombs stretching from Sweden to Spain. The mound-shaped burial sites are better known as "barrows" in Great Britain, or "passage tombs" for their intersecting halls of corbel stones.

"It trivializes the tombs to call it a fad, but building such structures seems to have become a fashion where great numbers were built and then there was a cessation for centuries," Scarre says, in an interview. Improved dating of materials such as birch bark, bone and stone left in the tombs now reveals the clustered construction times of the mounds, he says.

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Early humans were butchers 3.4 million years ago

Our ancestors were carving meat some 800,000 years earlier than previously thought. Marks on fossilised animal bones found in Ethiopia indicate that early-human butchers were using stone tools as early as 3.4 million years ago.

Shannon McPherron of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues say the find is evidence that Australopithecus afarensis – the only known hominin species present in the region at the time – used tools.

The finds suggest that the evolution of toolmaking and meat-eating among our human ancestors is more complex than existing theories admit.

They also add to a growing body of evidence that A. afarensis may have been more human-like and less primitive than some have assumed.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stone Age remains are Britain's earliest house

Archaeologists working on Stone Age remains at a site in North Yorkshire say it contains Britain's earliest surviving house.

The team from the Universities of Manchester and York reveal today that the home dates to at least 8,500 BC - when Britain was part of continental Europe.

The research has been made possible by a grant from the Natural Environment Research Council, early excavation funding from the British Academy, and from English Heritage who are about to schedule the site as a National Monument . The Vale of Pickering Research Trust has also provided support for the excavation works.

The research team unearthed the 3.5 metres circular structure next to an ancient lake at Star Carr, near Scarborough, a site comparable in archaeological importance to Stonehenge.

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Evolutionary Surprise: Freedom of Neck Played Major Role in Human Brain Evolution, Research Suggests

By deciphering the genetics in humans and fish, scientists now believe that the neck -- that little body part between your head and shoulders -- gave humans so much freedom of movement that it played a surprising and major role in the evolution of the human brain, according to New York University and Cornell University neuroscientists in the online journal Nature Communications (July 27, 2010.)

Scientists had assumed the pectoral fins in fish and the forelimbs (arms and hands) in humans are innervated -- or receive nerves -- from the exact same neurons. After all, the fins on fish and the arms on humans seem to be in the same place on the body. Not so.

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Tool Use by Early Humans Started Much Earlier

Small-brained human ancestors used stone tools to whack into large mammals some 800,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Fossilized bones scarred by hack marks reveal that our human ancestors were using stone tools and eating meat from large mammals nearly a million years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study that pushes back both of these human activities to roughly 3.4 million years ago.

The first known human ancestor tool wielder and meat lover was Australopithecus afarensis, according to the study, published in the latest issue of Nature. This species, whose most famous representative is the skeleton "Lucy," was slender, toothy and small-brained.

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From Grunting To Gabbing: Why Humans Can Talk

Most of us do it every day without even thinking about it, yet talking is a uniquely human ability. Not only do humans have evolved brains that process and produce language and syntax, but we also can make a range of sounds and tones that we use to form hundreds of thousands of words.

To make these sounds — and talk — humans use the same basic apparatus that chimps have: lungs, throat, voice box, tongue and lips. But we're the ones singing opera and talking on the phone. That is because over thousands of years, humans have evolved a longer throat and smaller mouth better suited for shaping sound.

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Cannibal cavemen of Spain uncovered

More evidence that The Flintstones didn't tell us the whole story about cavemen. Our prehuman ancestors cannibalized one another for the "nutritional value" starting about a million years ago, finds an analysis of bones left in a Spanish cave.

In the journal Current Anthropology, a team led by archaeologist Eudald Carbonell of Spain's University of Rovira and Virgili, report fossil evidence of continuous cannibalism - cut marks and butchering remains - as a way of life among the Homo antecessor inhabitants of the Atapuerca Mountains archeological site.

From a sample of some 1,039 bones that included mammoths, buffalo, cats and other butchered species found in the cave level deposited more than 800,000 years ago, there also emerged 159 bones from 11 H. antecessor individuals, they report:

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Archaeologists unearth Britain's oldest house

Deceptively spacious - many original features - but in need of some modernisation. Archaeologists have discovered what they believe is Britain's oldest house - constructed in the Stone Age, some 11,000 years ago.
Possibly Britain's oldest house unearthed at Star Carr (Credit: University of York)

The circular residence - measuring just three and a half metres across - was discovered at one of the country's most important prehistoric sites, Star Carr in North Yorkshire.

Other finds there, including animal skulls, and antler headdresses suggest the area could have been used for ceremonial rituals.

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Bone discovery pushes date for first use of stone tools back 1m years

Butchered bones found near site of 'Lucy', a probable human ancestor, who lived 3.2m years ago

The ancestors of early humans used stone tools to butcher animal carcasses nearly 1m years earlier than previously thought.

Archaeologists revised the date after spotting distinctive cut and crush marks made by stone tools on animal bones dating to 3.4m years ago.

The remains, including a rib from a cow-like creature and a thigh bone from an animal the size of a goat, were recovered from riverbed sediments in Dikika in the Afar region of northern Ethiopia during an expedition last January.

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Archaeologists find Britain's oldest house - constructed 11,000 years ago

Archaeologists have found Britain's earliest house - constructed by Stone Age tribesmen around 11,000 years ago. The discovery is likely to change the way archaeologists view that early period.

Just 3.5 metres in diameter, the circular post-built house pre-dates other Stone Age buildings in the UK by up to a thousand years.

Located at one of Britain's most important prehistoric archaeological sites, Star Carr in North Yorkshire, the newly discovered building may have been home to a Stone Age hunter - or conceivably even a prehistoric priest or shaman.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Obsidian used as ancient scalpel found in Turkey's Samsun

A piece of obsidian (volcanic glass) dating back 4,000 years and believed to have been used as a scalpel for surgery has been unearthed during excavations carried out in the Black Sea province of Samsun.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Professor Önder Bilgi, the chairman of the excavations, said that the work in the ruins of the İkiztepe village in Samsun’s Bafra district had begun in 1974.

“During this year’s excavations, which started July 15, we discovered a piece of obsidian that was used as a scalpel in surgeries. Obsidian beds are generally situated in the Central Anatolian region of Cappadocia. We think obsidian was brought to this region through trade,” Bilgi said. “As this stone is very sharp and hygienic, it was [likely] used as a scalpel in brain surgeries. Glass scalpels are still available.”

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Yorkshire Dales stone circle investigated

A circle of stones in the Yorkshire Dales first discovered in 1896 have been uncovered again.

Archaeologists, in Hartlington near Burnsall, have been trying to establish fresh theories as to what the stones were.

Initially it had been thought they might have formed the floor of a corn drying kiln.

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Environmentalists outraged as ring forts levelled

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners want the "full weight of the law" to be brought to bear following the destruction of two ancient ring forts.

Friends of the Irish Environment have written to Environment Minister John Gormley calling for prosecutions to follow the recent destruction of two north Cork ring forts -- fortified settlements with raised walls of stone or banks of earth.

The demolished ring forts were located in the townland of Knockacareagh, near Killmurray in north Cork.

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Found: Britain's oldest house at 10,500 years old is uncovered by archaeologists

It is cramped, draughty and unlikely to win any design awards.

But according to archaeologists, this wooden hut is one of the most important buildings ever created in Britain.

The newly discovered circular structure is the UK's oldest known home.
Built more than 6,000 years before Stonehenge, it provided shelter from the icy winds and storms that battered the nomadic hunters roaming Britain at the end of the last Ice Age.

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Britain's Prehistoric Funerals - Six Feet Under, or a Bronze Age Mound?

You might never have heard of Irthlingborough, in Northamptonshire, but an excavation there in the 1980s revealed some pretty spectacular archaeology, as explained in the first of a series of HKTV videos (Watch the Video).

The archaeologists found a round burial mound with cremations buried in the sides.

Below the cremation burials, there was a lattice of rotted cattle bones, which had been placed on the top of a heaped stone cairn. Below the cairn was a wooden platform that had now collapsed, and below the platform, at the heart of the mound, was a chamber, with a man’s body inside.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Neanderthal's Cozy Bedroom Unearthed

Anthropologists have unearthed the remains of an apparent Neanderthal cave sleeping chamber, complete with a hearth and nearby grass beds that might have once been covered with animal fur.

Neanderthals inhabited the cozy Late Pleistocene room, located within Esquilleu Cave in Cantabria, Spain, anywhere between 53,000 to 39,000 years ago, according to a Journal of Archaeological Science paper concerning the discovery.

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Archäologen untersuchen Hügelgräberfeld in Rumänien

Im Nordwesten Rumäniens entdeckten Forscher bereits Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts ein großes Hügelgräberfeld der späten Bronzezeit (ca. 1300 bis 1100 v. Chr.), die sogenannte Tumulusnekropole von Lăpuş. Doch erst eine Grabung im Rahmen eines internationalen Projekts der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) München widmete sich intensiv einem vermeintlichem Grabhügel, der sich jedoch rasch als eine mehrphasige, längsovale Baustruktur entpuppte. Zwei Kultbauten konnte ein Forscherteam um Professor Carola Metzner-Nebelsick, Lehrstuhl für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, identifizieren. In den Details ihrer Form und Bauweise sind beide bislang einmalig im bronzezeitlichen Europa, so die Archäologin. Im August 2010 startet Sie erneut eine Kampagne, um insbesondere den jüngeren Kultbau weiter auszugraben und zu erfassen. Die Forscherin verspricht sich zusätzliche Informationen über die zeitliche Einordnung der dort praktizierten Rituale.

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'Fantastic' dig ends at Marden Henge in Wiltshire

Excavation work has finally come to an end at prehistoric site, Marden Henge near Devizes.

It was the first investigation of the site since 1969.

Marden Henge no longer has any standing stones and is said to be one of Britain's least understood ancient sites.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Neolithic stone network found on Orkney

Archaeologists revealed today that they have discovered the first evidence in the UK of stonework painted with a pattern, suggesting Neolithic people enjoyed decorating.
It comes a week after the researchers, working at the Brodgar peninsula on Orkney, found plain painted stones thought to be around 5,000 years old at the spot.

The site, described as a possible Neolithic temple precinct, is between the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar.

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Archaeologists in major neolithic painting find in Orkney

Archaeologists revealed yesterday that they have discovered the first evidence in the UK of stonework painted with a pattern, suggesting Neolithic people enjoyed decorating.

It comes a week after the researchers, working at the Brodgar peninsula on Orkney, found plain painted stones thought to be around 5,000 years old at the spot.

The site, described as a possible Neolithic temple precinct, is between the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar.

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Scientists give Bronze Age Gristhorpe Man a face and voice

ACADEMICS in Yorkshire have given a voice and a face to a man who died more about 4,000 years ago.

Using state-of-the-art computer programme and forensic techniques, scientists have reconstructed the face of the Gristhorpe Man.

The skeleton of the Bronze Age man, thought to be a warrior chief, was discovered in Gristhorpe, near Filey, in 1834, and boiled in horse glue to preserve it.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

St Andrews scholar seeks secrets of Stonehenge's sister

Fife lecturer is part of a European team that has found a Stonehenge "twin," a discovery described as the most exciting of a lifetime at the prehistoric site.

Archaeologists have found a major ceremonial monument less than a kilometre from the stone circle near Salisbury.

The circular ditch, which probably held a ring of timber posts, may have been used for feasting and is within sight of its world-famous neighbour.

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Bulgarian Archaeologists Discover Wealthy Prehistoric Settlement

Bulgarian archaeologists have found what has been described as a “wealthy” 8000-year-old town close to the Danube city of Ruse.

The town, which flourished between 5 800 BC and 5 500 BC had well-organized streets and even two-storey houses with oak floors.

“The ceramics that we found here is of a very high-quality, and with no analogy compared to other settlements from this age. People of this period had taste, and we can say they had an aristocratic style,” explained archaeologist Dr. Svetlana Venelinova from the Regional History Museum in the city of Shumen.

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Canadian archeologists revel in ‘mind-blowing’ dig in Turkey

TELL TAYINAT, Turkey — Every time archeologist James Osborne steps into the remains of the newly uncovered temple at Tell Tayinat, he can’t help but wonder about the people who walked those steps before him.

Did an ancient king mount them with great ceremony, proceeding into the most sacred chamber where very few could venture?

Did he sit on a dais and watch as priests consecrated clay tablets, perhaps even the one found last year by the University of Toronto archeological team here in southern Turkey?

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An archaeological window on ancient farming

EXCAVATIONS at Politiko-Troullia on the foothills of the Troodos mountains in the Nicosia district have brought to light a series of households around a large communal courtyard with evidence of intensive animal husbandry and crop processing, copper metallurgy and sophisticated ceramic technology during the Middle Bronze Age 2000-1500 BC.

The site was the predecessor of ancient Tamassos, the seat of a centrally important kingdom during the subsequent Iron Age.

According to the Antiquities Department, the archaeological deposits at Politiko-Troullia reach depths of up to four metres below the modern surface, making the site one of the deepest stratified sites in Cyprus.

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Archaeology: 7000 year-old village found near Bulgarian town of Shoumen

A settlement dating back about 7000 years has been discovered by a hill near the village of Ivanovo, in Shoumen municipality, in eastern Bulgaria, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported on July 26 2010.

The settlement, 900 sq m in area, lies between two rivers on the south face of the hill. In spite of its natural defences, the settlement was fortified with a defensive wall of "unusual shape", BNT said.

"The shape of the fortification was not circular or oval-like, which was typical for the time but an irregular pattern resembling an octagon," archaeologist Svetlana Venelinova said in a television interview for BNT.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Discovered: Stone Age man's morning after the night before

Archaeologists in Wiltshire have discovered remarkable evidence of a spectacular party – enjoyed by Neolithic tribesmen 4,500 years ago.

Excavations at Britain's biggest "henge" site – a prehistoric religious complex 16 times the size of Stonehenge – have yielded the remains of dozens of pigs slaughtered for an ancient ceremonial feast.

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Ancient woman suggests diverse migration

Associated Press Writer= MEXICO CITY (AP) — A scientific reconstruction of one of the oldest sets of human remains found in the Americas appears to support theories that the first people who came to the hemisphere migrated from a broader area than once thought, researchers say.

Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History on Thursday released photos of the reconstructed image of a woman who probably lived on Mexico's Caribbean coast 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. She peeks out of the picture as a short, spry-looking woman with slightly graying hair.

Anthropologists had long believed humans migrated to the Americas in a relatively short period from a limited area in northeast Asia across a temporary land corridor that opened across the Bering Strait during an ice age.

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