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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