Sunday, June 29, 2014

4,000-Year-Old Burial with Chariots Discovered in South Caucasus

Here, the roof of a 4,000-year-old burial chamber buried in a Kurgan (mound) in the country of Georgia.
Credit: Photo courtesy Zurab Makharadze

An ancient burial containing chariots, gold artifacts and possible human sacrifices has been discovered by archaeologists in the country of Georgia, in the south Caucasus.

The burial site, which would've been intended for a chief, dates back over 4,000 years to a time archaeologists call the Early Bronze Age, said Zurab Makharadze, head of the Centre of Archaeology at the Georgian National Museum.

Archaeologists discoveredthe timber burial chamber within a 39-foot-high (12 meters) mound called a kurgan. When the archaeologists reached the chamber they found an assortment of treasures, including two chariots, each with four wooden wheels.

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More on Polish meteorite venerated by Neolithic man

Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology (IAE) PAS in Szczecin discovered a meteorite fragment inside the remains of a hut dating back more than 9,000 years in Bolków by the lake Świdwie in Western Pomerania. 

The meteorite fragment was found inside the remains of a hut dating back more than  9,000 years in Bolków by the lake Świdwie in Western Pomerania [Credit: T. Galińs] 

It is a natural pyrite meteorite fragment with cylindrical shape and porous, corrugated side surface. It has a height of 8 cm, width of 5.3 cm at the base and 3.5 cm at the top. 

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Découverte d’une tombe à char gauloise exceptionnelle à Warcq (Ardennes)

Une équipe mixte, composée d’archéologues de la cellule départementale d’archéologie des Ardennes et de l’Inrap, mène actuellement la fouille d’une tombe aristocratique gauloise à Warcq (Ardennes). Sur prescription de l’État (Drac Champagne-Ardenne), ce chantier est réalisé sur le tracé de l’autoroute A304, aménagé par la Dreal, entre Charleville-Mézières et Rocroi.

Depuis le 3 juin et pour une durée de trois semaines, archéologues et anthropologue dégagent cette « tombe à char ». Ce type de tombe aristocratique émerge dès le VIIe siècle avant notre ère – au cours du premier âge du Fer – et s’achève avec la fin de la période gauloise, au début de notre ère. Les chars les plus anciens sont équipés de 4 roues (comme celui de Vix) ; et de 2 roues au second âge du Fer. Le défunt, homme ou femme, est généralement inhumé sur le char, objet de prestige et symbole social. La Champagne-Ardenne est célèbre pour de telles découvertes (notamment Bourcq et Semide dans les Ardennes…) généralement datées du début du second âge du Fer (Ve-IVe siècles avant notre ère).

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Oldest ever schistosomiasis egg found may be first proof of early human technology exacerbating disease burden

Chalcolithic burial at Zeidan.
Credit: Gil Stein, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
The discovery of a schistosomiasis parasite egg in a 6200-year-old grave at a prehistoric town by the Euphrates river in Syria may be the first evidence that agricultural irrigation systems in the Middle East contributed to disease burden, according to new Correspondence published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by several species of flatworm parasites that live in the blood vessels of the bladder and intestines. Infection can result in anemia, kidney failure, and bladder cancer. This research shows it may have been spread by the introduction of crop irrigation in ancient Mesopotamia, the region along the Tigris-Euphrates river system that covers parts of modern-day Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey.

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Archaeo-astronomy steps out from shadows of the past

This week, a developing field of research that merges astronomical techniques with the study of ancient human-made features and the surrounding landscapes will be highlighted at the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM) 2014 in Portsmouth. From the 'Crystal Pathway' that links stone circles on Cornwall's Bodmin Moor to star-aligned megaliths in central Portugal, archaeo-astronomers are finding evidence that Neolithic and Bronze Age people were acute observers of the Sun, as well as the Moon and stars, and that they embedded astronomical references within their local landscapes. 

The Pipers Outliers to the main circles. When standing between the stones, one to the right and the other to the left, one looks North & South. When lining both up one faces East & West [Credit: B. Sheen] 

"There's more to archaeo-astronomy than Stonehenge," says Dr Daniel Brown of Nottingham Trent University, who will present updates on his work on the 4000-year-old astronomically aligned standing stone at Gardom's Edge in the UK's Peak District. 

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A diver from the National Monuments Service’s Underwater Archaeology Unit records a 12m-long Bronze Age logboat at the bottom of Lough Corrib.

For up to 4,500 years, a series of sunken dug-out canoes have been lying, forgotten, on the bottom of Lough Corrib in Co. Galway. Now these vessels are beginning to surrender their secrets once more, in an investigation by Ireland’s Underwater Archaeology Unit, spearheaded by Karl Brady.
Precisely what happened that 11th century day on the waters of Lough Corrib is lost in the mists of time, but one thing is certain: it was an ignominious end to what should have been an ostentatious journey. Earlier, a Medieval Irish dignitary had set out across the vast lake – which covers 176km² of what is now Co. Galway – in a finely crafted logboat. Propelled by four rowers, the 6m-long vessel would have skimmed swiftly over the waters.
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During ongoing excavations of prehistoric settlements at Syltholm east of Rødbyhavn in Denmark, archaeologists have been investigating an area of land located on the periphery of a settlement. In the Mesolithic and Neolithic, the area was overgrown with reeds, but excavation has identified numerous tools and bones that prehistoric people had deliberately placed into this liminal zone.

Careful deposition in a Danish marshland

Interestingly, archaeologists have been able to recognise patterns in the way these artefacts are sorted by type and function and then deposited according to certain rules rather than just being randomly cast into the shallow water. The current understanding of this area is now more subtle than ever before as it is possible to separate different activities through time.
The main concentration lies around the first centuries of the Neolithic period (ca. 4000-3500 BC in this region) when technologies for the new way of life came to Denmark from Central Europe via Germany.

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Archaeologists search for new portal into bygone era

Iron Age combat sessions and an expert view on life in Leicestershire over 2000 years ago will be on offer at one of the county's most striking historic features, Burrough Hill, on Sunday 29 June. 

Archaeologists working on the stone wall in the SW corner of the hillfort 
[Credit: John Thomas/ University of Leicester] 

University of Leicester archaeologists have been uncovering the past and this summer will be undertaking the final season of excavations at Leicestershire's finest Iron Age hillfort. 

The nationally important hillfort, marked by dramatic earthworks, located near Melton Mowbray has been the setting for a five year research project which has helped redefine understanding of the hillforts use with the help and support of English Heritage and landowners the Ernest Cook Trust.

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Oldest human faeces show Neanderthals ate vegetables

The team collected the ancient faecal matter at the El Salt archaeological site in Spain

Analysis of the oldest reported trace of human faeces has added weight to the view that Neanderthals ate vegetables.
Found at a dig in Spain, the ancient excrement showed chemical traces of both meat and plant digestion.
An earlier view of these early humans as purely meat-eating has already been partially discredited by plant remains found in their caves and teeth.
The new paper, in the journal PLOS One, claims to offer the best support to date for an omnivorous diet.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

'Prehistoric Sistine Chapel' gets world heritage status

There are more than 1,000 drawings inside the Decorated Cave of Pont d'Arc

A cave in southern France dubbed the "prehistoric Sistine Chapel" has been added to Unesco's World Heritage list.
The 1,000 drawings carved in the walls of the Decorated Cave of Pont d'Arc, or Grotte Chauvet, are 36,000 years old and include mammoths and hand prints.
Cave experts only discovered it in 1994 as the entrance had been concealed by a rockfall 23,000 years earlier.
It was one of several cultural and natural wonders granted the status by a committee of delegates in Doha, Qatar.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Human and Chimp Genes May Have Split 13 Million Years Ago

The ancestors of humans and chimpanzees may have begun genetically diverging from one another 13 million years ago, more than twice as long ago as had been widely thought, shedding new light on the process of human evolution, researchers say.

Scientists also discovered that male chimps pass on far moregenetic mutations to their offspring than male humans do, revealing previously unknown evolutionary differences between the species.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Mesolithic settlement found in North Yorkshire

Archaeologists were stunned to discover evidence of a Mesolithic settlement alongside the A1, which stretches 410 miles from London to Edinburgh. 

The route, which is now the A1 between London and Edinburgh, may have been in use for a  staggering 10,000 years, newly-discovered archaeological evidence suggests. Experts  have discovered ancient artefacts during the widening of the road through  North Yorkshire [Credit: North News & Pictures Ltd] 

The site, near Catterick in North Yorkshire, is believed to have been used by people travelling north and south as an overnight shelter, similar to today’s motorway service stations. 

Items discovered at the settlement include flint tools that date back to between 6000 and 8000 BC. 

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Archaeologists discover Britain's longest road to be 10,000 year old

Archaeologists were stunned to discover evidence of a Mesolithic settlement alongside the A1, which stretches 410 miles from London to Edinburgh.
The site, near Catterick in North Yorkshire, is believed to have been used by people travelling north and south as an overnight shelter, similar to today’s motorway service stations.
Items discovered at the settlement include flint tools that date back to between 6000 and 8000 BC.
Archaeologist Steve Sherlock said: “This was a place that people knew of – a place they could return to on many occasions to stay overnight during their travels. There is evidence of people using the route and moving through the area over periods of time. It is also adding to our knowledge of the early Mesolithic period, a time we don’t know very much about.
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Monday, June 9, 2014

3,000-year-old remains of baby found in Meath

3,000-year-old remains of a baby have been found during inaugural archaeological works at a Meath site reputed to be the birthplace of Halloween. The remains were found at the base of a 1.5 metre ditch at Tlachtga, near Athboy. 

The excavations at Tlachtga [Credit: Meath Chronicle] 

It’s believed the fully intact skeleton is of a baby between seven and 10 months old, but it is not thought the child was the victim of any human sacrifice on the ritualistic site. 

The remains will now be taken to the School of Archaeology at University College Dublin for further examination. 

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Human face shaped by millions of years of fighting, study finds

Human faces have evolved to minimise the damage caused by fist fight over millions of years, study finds

Evidence suggests that men's jaws have evolved to minimise damage from bruising altercations after our ancient ancestors learned how to throw a punch Photo: Alamy

Millions of years of fist fights have altered the human face to leave men's jaws more robust than women's, a study has found.
Evidence suggests it evolved to minimise damage from bruising altercations after our ancient ancestors learned how to throw a punch.
Researchers studied the bone structure of australopiths, ape-like bipeds living four to five million years ago that pre-dated the modern human primate family Homo.
They found that australopith faces and jaws were strongest in just those areas most likely to receive a blow from a fist.
It is a legacy that continues to this day, helping to explain why men's faces are more robust than women's, say the scientists.
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Male faces 'buttressed against punches' by evolution

The jaw bone is frequently fractured in fist fights and was strengthened in some of our evolutionary ancestors

A new theory suggests that our male ancestors evolved beefy facial features as a defence against fist fights.
The bones most commonly broken in human punch-ups also gained the most strength in early "hominin" evolution.
They are also the bones that show most divergence between males and females.
The paper, in the journal Biological Reviews, argues that the reinforcements evolved amid fighting over females and resources, suggesting that violence drove key evolutionary changes.
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Une nécropole protohistorique à Marigny-le-Châtel, inhumations et incinérations

En amont de l’implantation par GRTgaz d’une importante canalisation de transport de gaz dite Arc de Dierrey  traversant la Champagne-Ardenne, une équipe de l’Inrap a mené une fouille sur le tracé de l’ouvrage au niveau de la commune de Marigny-le-Châtel (Aube) en avril 2014. Cette fouille de 1,5 hectare, prescrite par l’État (Drac Champagne-Ardenne), a révélé des monuments funéraires et des tombes datés de la fin du Bronze moyen et du début du Bronze final, soit environ 1350 avant notre ère. La nécropole compte une quarantaine de sépultures, inhumations et crémations confondues, associées à ces monuments funéraires. L’intérêt du site réside par ailleurs dans sa situation géographique, une zone de plateau peu sujette aux investigations archéologiques, contrairement aux vallées alluviales de la Seine et de l’Yonne au sein desquelles sont connus la plupart des sites de référence régionaux pour cette période.

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