Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Stonehenge tunnel survey reveals new sites, and mysteries

Archaeologists are mapping the area before road is replaced and teasing secrets from the ancient landscape

Some 3,400 years before the roaring torrent of the A303 road sliced theStonehenge landscape in half, some people cut a beautiful pit a metre deep into the chalk with no tools except picks made of red deer antlers. 
They may have had primitive tools, but there was nothing primitive about their skills: the bottom of the pit was so neatly levelled that you could balance a beaker of mead on it without spilling a drop.
As druids and tourists head towards Stonehenge for the winter solstice, which falls this year on 22 December, when the midwinter sun should set framed perfectly by the giant stones, Historic England archaeologists are hard at work teasing ancient secrets out of the landscape.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dog has been man's best friend for 33,000 years, DNA study finds

First domesticated dogs came about 33,000 years ago and migrated to Europe from south east Asia, rather than descending from domesticated European wolves 10,000 years ago as had previously been thought

Man's best friend came about after generations of wolves scavenged alongside humans more than 33,000 years ago in south east Asia, according to new research.
Dogs became self-domesticated as they slowly evolved from wolves who joined humans in the hunt, according to the first study of dog genomes.
And it shows that the first domesticated dogs came about 33,000 years ago and migrated to Europe, rather than descending from domesticated European wolves 10,000 years ago as had previously been thought.
Scientists have long puzzled over how man's best friend came into existence but there is conflicting evidence on when and where wild wolves were first tamed.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Stonehenge was moved by glaciers - not our prehistoric ancestors

The famous rocks of Stonehenge were not dragged by pagans but moved by glaciers, according to a team of Welsh academics.
Previously, a team of experts from University College London (UCL) claimed to have resolved the archaeological enigma, confirming that the stones were excavated and transported from two sites in Pembrokeshire by our prehistoric ancestors.
The team of archaeologists and geologists said Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin, both in the Preseli Hills, had definitely been quarried for the mysterious stones.
They believe that between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago, rocks were taken from the Welsh mountain range by people and dragged away to where they currently stand, in Wiltshire.
But in a recent conflicting report, scientists have refuted UCL’s findings.
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Monday, December 14, 2015

Millet: The missing link in prehistoric humans' transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer

Professor Martin Jones is pictured with millet in north China.

New research shows a cereal familiar today as birdseed was carried across Eurasia by ancient shepherds and herders laying the foundation, in combination with the new crops they encountered, of 'multi-crop' agriculture and the rise of settled societies. Archaeologists say 'forgotten' millet has a role to play in modern crop diversity and today's food security debate.
The domestication of the small-seeded cereal millet in North China around 10,000 years ago created the perfect crop to bridge the gap between nomadic hunter-gathering and organised agriculture in Neolithic Eurasia, and may offer solutions to modern food security, according to new research.
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Studies show early human hunters more advanced than previously thought

The Schöningen excavation site. Tangelnfoto, Wikimedia Commons 
The Paleolithic site of Schöningen in north-central Germany is best known for the earliest known, completely preserved wooden spears (at least 10 recovered) by archaeologists under the direction of Dr. Hartmut Thieme between 1994 and 1998 at an open-cast lignite mine. Deposited in organic sediments on an ancient lakeshore, they were found in combination with the remains of about 16,000 animal bones, including 20 to 25 butchered wild horses, whose bones featured numerous butchery marks, including one pelvis that still had a spear protruding from it. The finds are considered evidence that early humans were active hunters with specialized tool kits as early as 300,000 or more years ago.
Now, a series of detailed study reports on the Schöningen findings have been published online in the Journal of Human Evolution. Altogether, they present a picture of groups of prehistoric hunters who sojourned at sites in the Schöningen area about 300,000+ years ago and hunted and processed mammalian species such as wild horse and red deer using tools/weapons made of wood, stone and bone. The findings have changed the long-accepted paradigm of a more primitive early human hunting culture during this time period that featured primarily stone tools and weapons and a somewhat more limited subsistence strategy.
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6,000-year-old skeletons in French pit came from victims of violence

CIRCLE OF DEATH  A circular pit excavated in France (left) contains the remains of eight people probably killed in a violent attack around 6,000 years ago. Seven severed left arms lay at the bottom of the pit. A diagram of the pit discoveries denotes bones of each individual in different colors.

A gruesome discovery in eastern France casts new light on violent conflicts that took lives — and sometimes just limbs — around 6,000 years ago.

Excavations of a 2-meter-deep circular pit in Bergheim revealed seven human skeletons plus a skull section from an infant strewn atop the remains of seven human arms, say anthropologist Fanny Chenal of Antea Archéologie in Habsheim, France, and her colleagues.

Two men, one woman and four children were killed, probably in a raid or other violent encounter, the researchers report in the December Antiquity. Their bodies were piled in a pit that already contained a collection of left arms hacked off by axes or other sharp implements. Scattered hand bones at the bottom of the pit suggest that hands from the severed limbs had been deliberately cut into pieces.

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Unique Neolithic sculpture found at Czech site

Archaeologists in the east Moravian town of Přerov have discovered a unique statuette which they believe dates back to the early Neolithic period. The richly ornamented torso has been hidden under ground for over seven thousand years ago. 

The richly engraved torso of a Neolithic figurine was found at an archaeological  site in the Czech Republic [Credit: Zdeněk Schenk] 

The valuable finding was discovered during initial excavations of an archaeological site near Lipník nad Bečvou, a small town on the edge of the Moravian Gate valley. It is a torso of a body, or what the archaeologists call an anthropomorphic sculpture, richly engraved with geometric ornaments. It is about 76 millimetres tall and its head and arms have been broken off. 

According to the head of the archaeological research at the site Zdeněk Schenk, the statuette must be at least seven thousand years old, since it was found on the site of an early Neolithic settlement:

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Dans les pas des mammouths de Montereau-sur-le-Jard (Seine-et-Marne)

Avant la construction, par Snecma, d’un nouveau bâtiment sur le site de Villaroche, à Montereau-sur-le-Jard (Seine-et-Marne), la Drac Île-de-France (service régional de l’Archéologie) a prescrit des recherches archéologiques menées par l’Inrap. 

Le diagnostic, préalable à la fouille, a montré une répartition des vestiges archéologiques sur une surface de 3 000 m². Seuls les

1 800 m² menacés par les travaux d’aménagement ont donné lieu à une fouille, de juin à juillet 2015. 
Les recherches ont démontré que le site a été occupé à plusieurs reprises au Paléolithique moyen (entre - 300 000 et - 40 000 avant notre ère). De nombreux outils en silex associés à des restes de mammouths datés de la dernière glaciation (autour de 100 000 ans avant notre ère) ont été mis au jour. Ces découvertes sont d’autant plus inédites qu’elles sont faites en contexte de plateau. Elles éclairent de façon singulière les comportements de subsistance des groupes humains à cette période. 

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Did our ancient ancestors 'kill the cat'?

The European sabre-toothed cat was about the size of a modern tiger or lion

Our ancient human cousins may have fought off big cats with spears, according to archaeological evidence.
The sabre-toothed cat lived alongside early humans, and may have been a fearsome enemy, say scientists.
Several feline teeth - and a chunk of arm bone - were uncovered at a site in Germany known for the oldest discovery of human spears.
The 300,000-year-old animal fossils are described as "spectacular".
The sabre-toothed cat - once known as the sabre-toothed tiger - lived from about 55.8 million to 11,700 years ago.
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Secrets unearthed at Boodie Cave: humankind just got a little older

Boodie Cave on Barrow Island is yielding an ancient secret of global significance: resourceful, well-fed humans were living in its limestone chambers more than 50,000 years ago, several thousand years earlier than archaeologists had ­estimated. 

UWA researcher and PhD student Kane Ditchfield excavating Boodie Cave,  on Barrow Island off Western Australia [Credit: Ingrid Ward] 

The startling evidence has been unearthed in surgically excavated pits on Barrow, Western Australia’s second largest island, 50km off the Pilbara coast. 

Thousands of tiny artefacts lie in sediment dated to 50,000 years old in an Oxford University laboratory, where 200 single sand grains were measured by optically stimulated luminescence.

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Rice basket study rethinks roots of human culture

Although teaching is useful, it is not essential for cultural progress. 
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

A new study from the University of Exeter has found that teaching is not essential for people to learn to make effective tools.
The results counter established views about how human tools and technologies come to improve from generation to generation and point to an explanation for the extraordinary success of humans as a species. The study reveals that although teaching is useful, it is not essential for cultural progress because people can use reasoning and reverse engineering of existing items to work out how to make tools.
The capacity to improve the efficacy of tools and technologies from generation to generation, known as cumulative culture, is unique to humans and has driven our ecological success. It has enabled us to inhabit the coldest and most remote regions on Earth and even have a permanent base in space. The way in which our cumulative culture has boomed compared to other species however remains a mystery.
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Human nature’s dark side helped us spread across the world

New research by an archaeologist at the University of York suggests that betrayals of trust were the missing link in understanding the rapid spread of our own species around the world.

Dr Penny Spikins, of the University’s Department of Archaeology, says that the speed and character of human dispersals changed significantly around 100,000 years ago.
Before then, movement of archaic humans were slow and largely governed by environmental events due to population increases or ecological changes. Afterwards populations spread with remarkable speed and across major environmental barriers.
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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gold jewellery unearthed at prehistoric site in Bulgaria

As gold jewellery goes, it could be considered to be quite modest, but a 6,600 year old pendant discovered at the site of one of Europe's oldest prehistoric towns may be the world's oldest bling. 

The newly found gold jewel from the Solnitsata prehistoric town near Bulgaria’s Provadiya
[Credit: Cherno More News Agency] 

The tiny two-gram pendant was discovered during excavations at the archaeological site of Solnitsata in the Varna region of Bulgaria. 

Archaeologists believe the area may have been part of an advanced prehistoric society that was among the first to work out how to process and produce gold goods. 

The necropolis at Solnitsata, which means 'Salt Pit', is situated just to the north of the Bulgarian city of Provadia. 

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Paleolithic elephant butchering site found in Greece

Excavation with some of the elephant bones exposed.
Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

A new Lower Paleolithic elephant butchering site, Marathousa 1, has been discovered in Megalopolis, Greece, by a joint team of researchers from the Ephorate of Paleoanthropology and Speleology (Greek Ministry of Culture) and the Paleoanthropology group, University of Tübingen.
Marathousa 1 is located in an open-cast coal mine, on what was once the shore of a shallow lake. It has yielded stratified stone artifacts in association with a nearly complete skeleton of Elephas antiquus, as well as the exceptionally well-preserved remains of fauna (rodents, birds, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks and insects) and plants (wood, seeds, fruit). The association of lithic artifacts with the elephant remains, as well as the discovery of cutmarks on elephant bones, indicate that Marathousa 1 is an elephant butchering site.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Genetic history of Europeans revealed

A study of ancient DNA has shed new light on European genetic history.
It confirms that farming spread across Europe due to the influx of ancient people from what is now eastern Turkey.
Many modern Europeans owe their taller stature to these early farmers - and a later influx of Bronze Age "horsemen" - say international researchers.
In the study, researchers mapped the genes of 273 ancient people who lived in West Europe and Asia from about 8,500 to 2,500 years ago.
Of these, 26 were part of a population that gave rise to Europe's first farmers.
Prof Ron Pinhasi of the School of Archaeology at University College Dublin, a lead researcher on the study, said: "We now have the first clear evidence that agriculture in Europe started with the first farmers coming from what is now Turkey.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Scientists discover the cause behind prehistoric climate change

Scientists now know why the climate underwent dramatic changes at the end of the last Ice Age.

The atmosphere plays an important role in the speed at which climate change can occur. During the last ice age, it meant that in some places on Earth temperatures increased by 10 degrees centigrade in a single decade. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Scientists have discovered the causes behind a period of dramatic climate change at the end of the last Ice Age, which will help predict how climate will change in the future.
Climate scientists are nervous about how man-made climate change may impact on the Gulf Stream--the ocean current that brings warm water from the tropics to the North Atlantic.
Changes to Gulf Stream, according to the new research, may not only result in a much colder Europe, but it might also lead to changes in ‘communication’ between the ocean and the atmosphere. Such changes could lead to the kinds of abrupt climate changes last seen at the end of the last Ice Age.
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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Explore 4,500 British Museum artifacts with Google's help

The British Museum in London holds an array of beautiful and historically significant artifacts including the Rosetta Stone, which helped historians to understand the ancient hieroglyphics used in Egypt. Today, the organisation is teaming up with Google to bring its various collections online as part of the Google Cultural Institute. The search giant has been developing this resource for years by continually visiting and archiving exhibits around the world. With the British Museum, an extra 4,500 objects and artworks are being added to its collection, complete with detailed photos and descriptions.
The most important addition is arguably the Admonitions Scroll, a Chinese text which dates back to the 6th-century. The piece is incredibly fragile, so it's only visible in the museum for a few months each year. Through the Cultural Institute, you can take a peek whenever you like -- and because it's been captured at "gigapixel" resolution you can zoom in to see some extraordinary details. All of the objects are searchable on Google's site, along with a couple of curated collections about ancient Egypt and Celtic life in the British Iron Age.
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Early farmers exploited beehive products at least 8,500 years ago

Humans have been exploiting bees as far back as the Stone Age, according to new research from the University of Bristol published in Nature today.

Previous evidence from prehistoric rock art is inferred to show honey hunters and Pharaonic Egyptian murals show early scenes of beekeeping. However, the close association between early farmers and the honeybee remained uncertain.
This study has gathered together evidence for the presence of beeswax in the pottery vessels of the first farmers of Europe by investigating chemical components trapped in the clay fabric of more than 6,000 potsherds from over 150 Old World archaeological sites.
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Ancient hominids used wooden spears to fend off big cats

Human ancestors living in Central Europe between 320,000 and 300,000 years ago may have used wooden spears to fend off fearsome, meat-eating rivals — saber-toothed cats.
From 2011 to 2013, a team led by paleontologist Jordi Serangeli of the University of Tübingen in Germany found five teeth and a partial leg bone from two of these roughly 200-kilogram predators at a site where researchers previously discovered ancient wooden spears. Whatever hominid species made the spears must have needed them to defend against attacks by saber-toothed cats, the researchers propose online October 23 in the Journal of Human Evolution.  

Limited signs of wear on teeth from one saber-toothed cat, found about 100 meters from the spear excavation, indicate that the creature was relatively young. Pits, scrapes and other marks on the leg bone of an adult male, found in spear-bearing sediment, indicate that hominids used the bone as a hammer for making stone tools.

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Neolithic tomb discovered on Irish hilltop

A hilltop tomb recently discovered close to the edge of Tievebaun mountain on the Sligo/Leitrim border may be more than 5,000 years old , according to the archaeologist who found it. 

The tomb at Tievebaun discovered by archaeologist Michael Gibbons  
[Credit: Michael Gibbons] 

Michael Gibbons said a series of discoveries in this area – including animal enclosures, field systems, and booley settlements – suggests that there are layers of history spanning the Neolithic period, the iron age, the bronze age and the post medieval period on these uplands. 

Mr Gibbons, who discovered other tombs in this area a decade ago, said that the hilltop tomb, which was a sacred site up to 3,500 BC, was probably not discovered before now because of its dramatic setting on the edge of the mountain. 

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New Drought Atlas Maps 2,000 Years of Climate in Europe

Numerous droughts have hit European agriculture over the ages, but their overall extent has been known mainly from scattered historical documents. Here, an English calendar page, circa 1310, shows men harvesting wheat. (Queen Mary’s Psalter, Wikimedia commons)

he long history of severe droughts across Europe and the Mediterranean has largely been told through historical documents and ancient journals, each chronicling the impact in a geographically restricted area. Now, for the first time, an atlas based on scientific evidence provides the big picture, using tree rings to map the reach and severity of dry and wet periods across Europe, and parts of North Africa and the Middle East, year to year over the past 2,000 years.

Together with two previous drought atlases covering North America and Asia, the Old World Drought Atlas significantly adds to the historical picture of long-term climate variability over the Northern Hemisphere. In so doing, it should help climate scientists pinpoint causes of drought and extreme rainfall in the past, and identify patterns that could lead to better climate model projections for the future. A paper describing the new atlas, coauthored by scientists from 40 institutions, appears today in the journalScience Advances.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Ice Age engravings found at Jersey archaeological site

A dig in Jersey has yielded a stash of hunter-gatherer artefacts from the end of the last Ice Age, including stone pieces criss-crossed by carved lines.
They are similar to engravings found from the same period in continental Europe, but are the first of their kind in the British Isles.
Archaeologists are in the early stages of analysing the finds, but estimate them to be at least 14,000 years old.
This places the camp among the earliest in northern Europe after the freeze.
It would also mean that the markings pre-date theearliest known art in the UK, which was found carved into stone walls and bones at Creswell Crags in Derbyshire in 2003.

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Rare Unlooted Grave of Wealthy Warrior Uncovered in Greece

Archaeologists hail the burial, untouched for 3,500 years, as the biggest discovery on mainland Greece in decades.

The text message from the trench supervisor to archaeologists Jack Davis and Sharon Stocker was succinct: “Better come. Hit bronze.”
The excavators exploring a small stone shaft on a rocky promontory in southern Greece had found an unusual tomb of an ancient warrior. The burial may hold important clues to the origin of Greek civilization some 3,500 years ago.
Along with the well-preserved skeleton of a man in his early thirties, the grave contains more than 1,400 objects arrayed on and around the body, including gold rings, silver cups, and an elaborate bronze sword with an ivory hilt.
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Anglesey dig unearths largest neolithic site in Wales

The largest ever Neolithic discovery in Wales has been made by archaeologists investigating the site of a new school.
More than 2,000 artefacts possibly dating back as much as 6,000 years have been discovered on the site at Llanfaethlu on Anglesey .
The ruins of three buildings have also been uncovered by the CR Archeology team who have been on site since November 2014.
Archeologist Cat Rees said: “Until about 50 years ago all we knew about this period in North Wales came from the megalithic tombs and chance finds but this changed with the discovery at Llandegai, Bangor of a single house.
“To date less than five have been found in the whole of North Wales.
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Early Neolithic feasting rituals in Scotland

Between 2008 and 2012, archaeologists from Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division and later GUARD Archaeology Ltd, led by Maureen Kilpatrick, undertook a series of excavations at Snabe Quarry near Drumclog in South Lanarkshire, for Lafarge Tarmac Ltd, which uncovered five clusters of prehistoric pits and an undated sub-circular enclosure. 

Excavations at Snabe Quarry near Glasgow have revealed the  remains of feasting events from the fourth millennium BC  [Credit: © GUARD Archaeology Ltd] 

One cluster comprised sixteen pits to the east of the sub-circular enclosure, one of which yielded a late Mesolithic radiocarbon date. Another cluster of fourteen pits were also found to the west of the enclosure while further to the south-west another small cluster of seven pits contained domestic hearth charcoal waste. Radiocarbon dates from the early seventh millennium BC and early fourth millennium BC from this charcoal indicate the widely differing times this place in the landscape was occupied.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015


The 2015 excavations of the necropolis of the settlement of the “Culture of the Encrusted Ceramics of the Lower Danube” took place in mid October 2015. Photo: Monitor daily

A total of 10 graves from the necropolis of a Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age settlement located near the town of Baley, Vidin District, in Northwest Bulgaria, have been discovered and explored during the 2015 excavations of the site which belongs to the so called “Culture of the Encrusted Ceramics of the Lower Danube”.
In one of the ten newly found graves, the archaeologists have found a total of 16 ceramic vessels, some of which are funeral urns, reveals Nikolay Kazashki from the Vidin Regional Museum of History, who is the deputy head of the archaeological expedition in Baley.
The excavations are led by Assist. Prof. Georgi Ivanov, and consulted by Assoc. Prof. Stefan Alexandrov, both of whom are from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia.
The newly discovered artifacts from the Baley necropolis, which dates back to 1,600-1,100 BC, are from three distinct chronological stages of the Bronze Age culture, reports the Bulgarian dailyMonitor.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

3,500-year-old warrior prince tomb is 'most exciting Ancient Greek find for decades'

Experts describe the discovery of tomb packed full of gold, silver and weapons, which sheds light on ancient Mycenaean and Minoan civilisations, as one of the most significant in decades

Flanked by a three-foot long bronze sword with an ivory handle and surrounded by a treasure trove of gold, silver and precious stones, he lay undisturbed for 3,500 years.
Now, the skeleton of an ancient Greek warrior, his tomb protected by a heavy stone slab, has been discovered by archaeologists in the Peloponnese.
Described as one of the most exciting discoveries in Greece for decades, the 30-35 year old man has been dubbed the “Griffin Warrior” after an ivory plaque depicting the half-lion, half-eagle mythical beast that was found alongside him.
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Friday, October 23, 2015

Hazelnut shells found at Skye Mesolithic site

The remains of hazelnuts eaten by some of Skye's earliest inhabitants were found at a dig on the island, archaeologists have revealed.
Hazelnuts were a favourite snack of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, according to archaeologists at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).
The shells found at an excavation above Staffin Bay could be 8,000-years-old.
UHI carried out the dig along with Staffin Community Trust, school children and volunteers.

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Plague traced back to Bronze Age

Plague has been a scourge on humanity for far longer than previously thought, ancient DNA shows.
Samples taken from the teeth of seven bodies contained traces of the bacterial infection in the Bronze Age.
They also showed it had, at the time, been unable to cause the bubonic form of plague or spread through fleas - abilities it evolved later.
The researchers, at the University of Copenhagen, say plague may have shaped early human populations.
Human history tells of three plague pandemics:

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Oldest evidence of human activity found in Scotland

Archaeologists from the University of Reading have found the earliest dated evidence for human activity in Scotland - with a helping hand from a herd of pigs. 

Some of the tools found by the archaeologists  [Credit: University of Reading] 

The team made the remarkable discovery of a set of 12,000 year-old Ice Age stone tools while excavating Rubha Port an t-Seilich, on Islay in the Inner Hebrides in 2013. The tools include scrapers used for cleaning skins, sharp points likely used for hunting big game, such as reindeer, and much more. 

While the dig involved highly skilled archaeologists they have another team, or herd, to thank for the discovery. Pigs foraging along the Islay coastline uprooted Mesolithic objects in 2009 which ultimately led to the start of the excavation.

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Digitising Yorkshire's savannah past

Ancient bones from a North Yorkshire cave, including the remains of rhinos, bears and hyenas, are to go on display in a "virtual museum" more than a century after they were excavated.
Some of the bones, found in Victoria Cave in the dales, date back more than one hundred thousand years.
At that time, such beasts were common in northern England.
A team of archaeologists from the organisation DigVentures has set out digitise the site's unique collection.
The cave was discovered in 1837 when a man noticed his dog disappear through an opening in the hill, and reappear through another.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

First ancient African genome solves migration mystery

An ancient African genome has been sequenced for the first time.
Researchers extracted DNA from a 4,500-year-old skull that was discovered in the highlands of Ethiopia.
A comparison with genetic material from today's Africans reveals how our ancient ancestors mixed and moved around the continents.
The findings, published in the journal Science, suggests that about 3,000 years ago there was a huge wave of migration from Eurasia into Africa.
This has left a genetic legacy, and the scientists believe up to 25% of the DNA of modern Africans can be traced back to this event.
"Every single population for which we have data in Africa has a sizeable component of Eurasian ancestry," said Dr Andrea Manica, from the University of Cambridge, who carried out the research.

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mummification was common in Bronze Age Britain

Ancient Britons may have intentionally mummified some of their dead during the Bronze Age, according to archaeologists at the University of Sheffield. 

Bronze Age skeleton from Neat's Court excavation, on Isle of Sheppey, Kent  
[Credit: Geoff Morley]

The study, published in the Antiquity Journal, is the first to provide indications that mummification may have been a wide-spread funerary practise in Britain. 

Working with colleagues from the University of Manchester and University College London, Dr Tom Booth analysed skeletons at several Bronze Age burial sites across the UK. The team from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology found that the remains of some ancient Britons are consistent with a prehistoric mummy from northern Yemen and a partially mummified body recovered from a sphagnum peat bog in County Roscommon, Ireland.

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Archaeologists in Orkney have uncovered the remains of over 30 buildings dating from around 4000 BC to 1000 BC, together with field systems, middens and cemeteries. The find includes a very rare Bronze Age building which experts believed could have been a sauna or steam house, which may have been built for ritual purposes. 

EASE Archaeology recently made the exciting discovery on the periphery of the prehistoric Links of Noltland, on the island of Westray in Orkney, next to where the famous ‘Westray Wife’ was found in 2009, which is believed to be the earliest depiction of a human face in Britain. 

The work is being funded by Historic Scotland, who are this week merging with the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) to form a new heritage body called Historic Environment Scotland. 

Work has been carried out at the Links of Noltland for several years now but the most recent discovery, and one of the most remarkable to date, is that of an almost complete and remarkably well-preserved, very rare Bronze Age building which experts believe had a very specialised function and was used by select groups for activities such as rites of passage or spiritual ceremonies.  It’s also possible that the building could have been used as a sweat house or sauna, for a number of activities ranging from basic healing and cleansing, or as a place where women could come to give birth, the sick and elderly could come to die, or where bodies were taken before burial.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

5,000-Year-Old Throne Found in Turkey

The remains of a 5,000-year-old adobe basament of a possible “throne” have been unearthed during excavations in Turkey, revealing the origins of the secularization of power and one of the first evidence of the birth of the state system.
Discovered in Aslantepe in the eastern Turkish province of Malatya, the structure consists of an adobe platform, raised by three steps above the floor, on top of which burnt wooden pieces were found.
“The burnt wooden fragments are likely the remains of a chair or throne,” excavation director Marcella Frangipane of La Sapienza University in Rome, told Discovery News.
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Steinzeitliche Miniaturräder aus Holz

Kinderspielzeug, Anschauungsmaterial für Wagenbauer oder rituelle Gegenstände?
Im Olzreuter Ried bei Bad Schussenried in Oberschwaben fanden Archäologen des des Landesamts für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart zwei gut erhaltene hölzerne Miniaturräder aus dem 3. Jahrtausend v.Chr. Die Funde zeigen, dass in der Jungsteinzeit zwei unterschiedliche Konstruktionsprinzipien für Fuhrwerke bekannt waren.
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Monday, September 14, 2015

Mesolithic site on Skye to be investigated

Archaeologists have described the site as having "huge potential"

Excavations of a Mesolithic site on Skye could give new insights into the lives of some of the island's earliest residents.
Archaeologists believe the location above Staffin Bay has the remains of a house that could be 8,000 years old.
Mesolithic flints have previously been found in an area of eroded grazing land near the site.
Archaeologists will work with Staffin Community Trust and volunteers in making small excavations.
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