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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