Monday, February 23, 2015

Gallagh Man, a bog body from Co. Galway

In 1821 members of the O’Kelly family made a gruesome discovery as they dug turf near their home at Gallagh, Co. Galway. As they sliced through the dark peat, they suddenly came across the remains of dead body, which had lain there undisturbed for over 2,000 years. Remarkably, this ancient body was in a near perfect state of preservation.  The cold, acidic, oxygen-free conditions of the bog had prevented the remains from decaying and had mummified the human flesh. They had found a bog body.
An enterprising,  if somewhat morbid family, the O’Kellys saw an opportunity to make some money.  They re-buried the bog body and then charged visitors a small fee to excavate and view it. The remains soon became a macabre  tourist attraction and the O’Kellys continued to exhume and re-inter the bog body for the next eight years. Unfortunately, this caused the corpse to deteriorate and explains why it is a relatively poor state of preservation today. In 1829 the Royal Irish Academy finally intervened and purchased the human remains, which were subsequently preserved.
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Ancient Orkney child remains excavated

Archaeologists have been excavating the site of a child's grave on an Orkney island.
The grave - which it is believed could be up to 4,000 years old - was uncovered on Sanday's shoreline by winter storms and high tides.
It is thought the skeleton could be that of a child aged between 10 and 12.
The find was made by Carrie Brown, of See Orkney tours, who called in local archaeologists.
Historic Scotland was alerted, and experts were sent to Sanday on Saturday.
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Ancient shrines used for divination found in Armenia

Three shrines, dating back about 3,300 years, have been discovered within a hilltop fortress at Gegharot, in Armenia, according to an article published by Live Science. 

A shrine excavated at the entrance of a fortress' west terrace in Gegharot in Armenia.  The stone stele like would've been a focal point for rituals practiced there some  3,300 years ago 
[Credit: Professor Adam Smith] 

Local rulers at the time likely used the shrines for divination, a practice aimed at predicting the future, the archaeologists involved in the discovery say. 

Each of the three shrines consists of a single room holding a clay basin filled with ash and ceramic vessels. A wide variety of artifacts were discovered including clay idols with horns, stamp seals, censers used to burn substances and a vast amount of animal bones with markings on them. During divination practices, the rulers and diviners may have burnt some form of substances and drank wine, allowing them to experience “altered” states of mind, the archaeologists say.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Remains of Bronze Age bowman found in Scotland

Archaeologists have discovered new artefacts suggesting a Highland village resident of 4,500 years ago fought with bow and arrow. 

Holes in the wrist guard could be for leather bindings  [Credit: AOC Archaeology] 

A Bronze Age burial cist in Drumnadrochit, near Inverness, was found last month, and researchers have now found shards of pottery and a wrist guard, for use when shooting using bow and arrow, at the same site. 

Now work is being done to glean as much information about the finds, and it’s hoped they’ll be able to determine the gender of the skeletal remains. 

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Scientists recreate ancient Siberian brain surgery techniques for first time

Experts undertake pioneering tests on skulls to finally understand how doctors carried out remarkable operations more than 2,300 years ago.

General view of the tracks of the trepanation on the male scull from Bike-III
Picture: Aleksei Krivoshapkin

More details about the remarkable brain surgery techniques carried out by the earliest Siberians 2,300 years ago have been revealed by scientists.
Neurosurgeons have been working with anthropologists and archaeologists over the past year following the discovery of holes in the skulls of three ancient sets of remains in the Altai Mountains.
Evidence at the time suggested they were examples of trepanation – the oldest form of neurosurgery – with speculation it showed the early nomads had learned the skilful technique from the medical centres of the ancient world, or had uncovered it at the same time as prominent doctors in Greece and the Middle East.
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Face of Siberian tattooed princess finally revealed

Taxidermy expert uses painstaking techniques to create first ever replica of the ice maiden found preserved in the Siberian high altitude plateau.

'The face is very accurate to how Princess Ukok actually looked'
[Credit: The Siberian Times/Marcel Nyffenegger] 

The first replica face has been created of the famous tattooed Siberian princess found mummified and preserved after almost 2,500 years in permafrost. A Swiss expert has used special taxidermy techniques to build an accurate reconstruction of the ice maiden who was uncovered by archaeologists in 1993.

Known as Princess Ukok, after the high altitude plateau on which she was discovered, her body was decorated in the best-preserved, and most elaborate, ancient art ever found. While her discovery was exciting, particularly given how intact her remains were, her face and neck skin had deteriorated, with no real clue as to what she once looked like.

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Big-toothed fossil may be primitive new human

Penghu 1 mandible. Its morphology suggests the presence of a robust, primitive type of hominin so far unrecognised in the Pleistocene Asian fossil record (Y Kaifu)

The first known prehistoric human from Taiwan has been identified and may represent an entirely new species that lived as recently as 10,000 years ago, according to a new study.
The newly discovered big-toothed human, 'Penghu 1', strengthens the growing body of evidence that Homo sapiens was not the only species from our genus living in Europe and Asia between 200,000 and 10,000 years ago.
Anthropologists have learned that Neanderthals, Denisovans and Homo floresiensis (aka. the 'Hobbit') lived in Europe and Asia within that time frame.
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