Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ancient erotic carvings found in Germany

Researchers in Germany have discovered Stone Age cave art including carvings of nude women. Archaeologists working for the Bavarian State Office for Historical Preservation came upon the primitive engravings in a cave near the southern city of Bamberg, about 200km east of Frankfurt.

The engravings are believed to be around 12,000 years old, which would make them the first Stone Age artwork ever found in Germany. "They include schematic depictions of women's bodies and unidentifiable symbols, among other things," said spokeswoman Beate Zarges.

The ancient artists appear to have taken their inspiration for the erotic images from rock formations in the caves resembling breasts and penises, and then carved the images in the walls of the cave. Die Zeit quotes geologist and archaeologist Bernhard Haeck, a member of the discovery team, as saying that the five metre (16-foot) long chamber in the cave may have been used for fertility rituals. "It is a place full of magic," he said.

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Time team dig up the dirt: experts push back origins of farming in city’s history

ARCHAEOLOGISTS working at a Sheffield farm have dug up a mystery – the remains of a settlement which could date back 8,000 years to the Iron Age.

The dig, aided by volunteers at Whirlow Hall Farm, has found a rectangular-shaped enclosure formed by a ditch.

It was revealed during a geophysical survey undertaken by a team as part of an ongoing Heritage Lottery funded project at the farm.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Part Ape, Part Human

A new ancestor emerges from the richest collection of fossil skeletons ever found.

Lee Berger is standing in a death trap, smiling. It is a hole in the ground about 25 miles northwest of Johannesburg, in a ridged brown valley where herds of giraffes occasionally parade between stands of trees. The red-rock walls of the pit are higher than Berger's head, and steep enough in spots to make a scramble up, or down, rather daunting. Some two million years ago, the hole was a great deal deeper, with no possibility of escape for any creature that fell in. This accounts for the trove of fossils Berger is finding, which in turn accounts for his upbeat mood. He leans over a red boulder near the pit bottom, tracing a white-colored protrusion with his fingers. "It looks like part of an arm," he says. "That means we've found another individual."

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Carving found in Gower cave could be oldest rock art

An archaeologist believes a wall carving in a south Wales cave could be Britain's oldest example of rock art.

The faint scratchings of a speared reindeer are believed to have been carved by a hunter-gatherer in the Ice Age more than 14,000 years ago.

The archaeologist who found the carving on the Gower peninsula, Dr George Nash, called it "very, very exciting."

Experts are working to verify the discovery, although its exact location is being kept secret for now.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Early Human Ancestors Walked Fully Upright Earlier Than Scientists Thought, Study Shows

Early human ancestors walked fully upright about 2 million years earlier than scientists have long suggested, according to the results of a recent study.

A team of researchers at the University of Liverpool, along with scientists at the University of Manchester and Bournemouth University, applied a new statistical technique often used in functional brain imaging to obtain a three-dimensional average of the famous 11 footprints discovered at Laetoli, Tanzania, discovered by Mary Leakey in 1976. The footprints are interpreted to have been left originally in soft volcanic ash by a group of three individuals of the Australopithecus afarensis species following the eruption of the nearby Sadiman Volcano approximately 3.7 million years ago.

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7,000-year-old archaeological site was a Stone Age rest area

A recently uncovered archaeological site in the Scottish highlands dates back to the Mesolithic, roughly 10,000 years ago. What makes it so unusual is that this isn't a settlement - it's the prehistoric equivalent of a highway pit stop.

Sadly, there are no stone-operated vending machines, vaguely grotty bathrooms, or designated wolf-walking areas at this particular rest area. But even without all those modern accouterments, this particular site is still very much of a kind with their present-day counterparts. The commercial operation Headland Archaeology, which was hired to excavate the site in preparation for supermarket construction, discovered an ancient hearth with tons of charcoal remnants left inside.

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Mesolithic 'rest stop' found at new Sainsbury's site

Archaeologists believe the remains of burned oak uncovered at the site of the first Sainsbury's in the Highlands to be evidence of an ancient "rest stop".

The supermarket and a filling station are being constructed on the outskirts of Nairn, at a cost of about £20m.

Headland Archaeologists investigated the site ahead of building work.

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UK's 'oldest' open-air cemetery discovered in Somerset

Somerset was the site of the UK's oldest open-air cemetery, the county council says.

Recent radiocarbon dating of two skulls found at a sand quarry in Greylake nature reserve near Middlezoy in 1928 revealed them to be 10,000 years old.

The council said the find was made under its Lost Islands of Somerset project by a team investigating the archaeology of the Somerset Levels.

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Schönebeck: »Deutsches Stonehenge« II - nur ohne Steine

Bei Schönebeck südlich von Magdeburg wird derzeit eine frühbronzezeitliche Kreisgrabenanlage ausgegraben. Das vorgeschichtliche Heiligtum liegt in Sichtweite der Anlage von Pömmelte-Zackmünde, die als »deutsches Stonehenge« durch die Medien ging. Die Archäologen gehen davon aus, dass es sich um den direkten Nachfolger des Kultplatzes von Pömmelte handelt. Die Anlage hatte vermutlich die gleiche Bedeutung wie die berühmte Megalithanlage von Stonehenge, sagte Sachsen-Anhalts Landesarchäologe Harald Meller am Montag bei der Präsentation der ersten Grabungsergebnisse.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Dorchester Cursus - Cursus in England in Oxfordshire

Oxford Archaeology has been excavating the Dorchester-on-Thames cursus with the help of volunteers. Finds were on display at the open day, along with tours of the trenches. Geophysics of the 'car boot sale' field just off the A415 indicated that the cursus extended further north than previously thought. Excavations this summer have confirmed this and also found a ring ditch that cuts through the cursus.

The ring ditch is therefore of a later date - probably the remains of a Bronze Age barrow. What is particularly interesting is that the ring ditch exactly bisects the cursus ditch, indicating that the cursus, from approximately a thousand years earlier, was still recognised, possibly revered.

Also found is tree-throw with mesolithic flints deposited in the roots and a rectilinear Neolithic enclosure.

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Genetic Research Confirms That Non-Africans Are Part Neanderthal

Some of the human X chromosome originates from Neanderthals and is found exclusively in people outside Africa, according to an international team of researchers led by Damian Labuda of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center. The research was published in the July issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution.

"This confirms recent findings suggesting that the two populations interbred," says Dr. Labuda. His team places the timing of such intimate contacts and/or family ties early on, probably at the crossroads of the Middle East.

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Stone Age relics may be hidden in Western Isles' seas

Submerged sites of ancient communities could be hidden in the seas around the Western Isles, according to experts.

Dr Jonathan Benjamin and Dr Andrew Bicket believe the islands' long and sheltered lochs have protected 9,000-year-old Mesolithic relics.

Rising sea levels may have covered up to 6.2 miles (10km) of land on the west coast of the Outer Hebrides.

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Outrage, as English Neolithic monument bulldozed flat

Reports began to circulate in early June concerning damage to one of a series of four remarkable Neolithic monuments in Somerset, southwest England. However, the scale of the damage to the Priddy Circles is only now being fully appreciated.
A ruined monument

The four Circles are listed together as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and as such are under the protection of the State. Somerset County Council confirmed it was working in conjunction with English Heritage to pursue a resolution for this distressing situation, which arose when the landowner, Mr Penny, allegedly used his earth-moving equipment to bulldoze, flatten and reseed the entire southwestern arc of the southern circle.

Damage to ancient monuments can result in large fines – along with requirements to reinstate or repair – and in extreme circumstances, a prison sentence can be handed out to the perpetrator, under the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act.

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5,000-year-old skeleton unearthed in Northern Italy

The 5,000-year-old skeleton of a woman was recently found in Aosta Valley (Northern Italy). "The Lady of Introd", as it has been nicknamed, was in perfect conditions, but the archaeologists found no sign of any burial items apart from the bones themselves.

The tomb was discovered in the small Alpine village of Introd, today home to about 600 people and located not far from the main town Aosta. An archaeological survey made before a planned extension of the local kindergarten allowed scientists to discover the ancient burial. The human remains have been found on a hill near the village; in the same area there is also a castle, the parish church and a shack. The skeleton found at Introd is contemporary to Oetzi, the famous iceman found 20 years ago in Trentino-Alto Adige, the mountainous region on the border between Austria and Italy.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Early humans, ritual cannibals: Study

Archaeologists have found 32,000-year-old human remains in southeastern Europe, which suggest that the earliest humans practiced “mortuary” or “ritual” cannibalism.

The excavated human remains, the oldest known in Europe, were found at a shelter-cave site called Buran-Kaya III in Ukraine and exhibit post-mortem cut marks, the MSNBC reports.

"Our observations show a post-mortem treatment of human corpses including the selection of the skull," said the paleozoologist and archaeologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, Stephane Pean.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bringing ancient rock art into the digital age

new digital media project at Newcastle University is proving that academic thought is not set in stone. Through the use of a modern-day tablet – the mobile phone – Northumberland’s ancient rock art is being exposed to a new generation of enthusiasts.

Archaeologists have worked side-by-side with digital media experts on this International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies project, using new technology to share information about the famous stones.

During their research, it emerged that people were often left frustrated because they couldn’t find the rock art easily, which can be tricky to locate even with a GPS, as most of the markings are flat and often difficult to spot in thick vegetation and overcast conditions.

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8,000-year-old dog tomb ‘significant’ find

Archaeologists have discovered an unprecedented 8,000-year-old dog tomb – the oldest in southern Europe – in a shell mound near the Portuguese town of Alcaçer do Sal.

Project co-director Mariana Diniz told Lusa News Agency the find held “significant importance” because previously there had been no such sign of ancient “canine symbology” in southern Europe, in contrast to northern parts of the continent.

“Eight thousand years ago [southern] communities domesticated dogs, an animal with an economic role, but also a symbolic one”, Ms. Diniz said.

“The ritual burial of dogs was done with care, not just any way, with special significance”, she added of the find.

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"Tomb of the Otters" Filled With Stone Age Human Bones

Thousands of human bones have been found inside a Stone Age tomb on a northern Scottish island, archaeologists say.

The 5,000-year-old burial site, on South Ronaldsay (map) in the Orkney Islands, was accidentally uncovered after a homeowner had leveled a mound in his yard to improve his ocean view. (See Scotland pictures.)

Authorities were alerted to the find in 2010 after a subsequent resident, Hamish Mowatt, guessed at the site's significance.

Mowatt had lowered a camera between the tomb's ceiling of stone slabs and was confronted by a prehistoric skull atop a muddy tangle of bones.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Earliest Europeans Were Cannibals, Wore Bling

Early humans wore jewelry and likely practiced cannibalism, suggest remains of the earliest known Homo sapiens from southeastern Europe.

The remains, described in PLoS One, date to 32,000 years ago and represent the oldest direct evidence for anatomically modern humans in a well-documented context. The human remains are also the oldest known for our species in Europe to show post-mortem cut marks.

"Our observations indicate a post-mortem treatment of human corpse including the selection of the skull," co-author Stephane Pean, a paleozoologist and archaeologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, told Discovery News. "We demonstrate that this treatment was not for nutritional purposes, according to comparison with game butchery treatment, so it is not a dietary cannibalism."

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mobile phone app will help users find North East prehistoric rock art Read More

THE meaning of rock art created in the North East thousands of years ago has baffled modern day experts.

And the prehistoric people who carved the rock images would be equally at a loss to understand today’s technology which is revealing their creations to a growing audience.

In a project by the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies at Newcastle University, archaeologists have worked with digital media experts to create a mobile phone site enabling people to find the rock art panels.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Woman’s skeleton found at Sedgeford dig sheds light on Norfolk 4,000 years ago

Archaeologists confirmed the significance of the discovery yesterday as work got under way for the summer season at Sedgeford, near Heacham.

Martin Hatton, curator of human remains at the site, was staking out an area of chalk down close to where the find was made last summer, ready for this year’s eagerly-awaited dig to begin.

“It was a total surprise to us,” he said. “You don’t bury people anywhere other than near where they live, so what we can say is that people were farming the land here 4,000 years ago.”

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