Sunday, February 28, 2016

World famous ancient Siberian Venus figurines 'are NOT Venuses after all'

Close microscopic inspection reveals them as being far from idealised female forms. 
Picture: Hermitage Museum

New groundbreaking research shows that a celebrated collection of prehistoric Venus figurines are - in fact - a fashion show of ordinary people of all ages from some 20,000 years ago.
Close microscopic inspection reveals them as being far from idealised female forms. Rather, many are male, and others are children, the new research shows. 

It's true that in the past some of the woolly mammoth tusk carvings were known to be clothed. Notably, these were called alluringly Venus in Furs figurines. They were dressed for protection from the Siberian winter, and are possibly the oldest known images anywhere in the world of sewn fur clothing. Yet even deep in Soviet times, the figurines were hailed for their feminine features, and seen as the idealised female form.

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Engraved Mesolithic pendant unearthed in the UK

An 11,000 year old engraved shale pendant discovered by archaeologists during excavations at the Early Mesolithic site at Star Carr in North Yorkshire is unique in the UK, according to new research. 

The sacred prehistoric stone pendant, discovered by archaeologists in Yorkshire. It was probably worn by a shaman carrying out hunting-related rituals 
[Credit: Harry Robson , University of York] 

The artwork on the tiny fragile pendant, uncovered by a research team from the Universities of York, Manchester and Chester, is the earliest known Mesolithic art in Britain. Crafted from a single piece of shale, the subtriangular three-millimetre thick artefact measuring 31mm by 35mm contains a series of lines which archaeologists believe may represent a tree, a map, a leaf or even tally marks. 

Engraved motifs on Mesolithic pendants are extremely rare and no other engraved pendants made of shale are known in Europe.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Neanderthals mated with modern humans much earlier than previously thought, study finds

COLD SPRING HARBOR LABORATORY—Cold Spring Harbor, NY - Using several different methods of DNA analysis, an international research team has found what they consider to be strong evidence of an interbreeding event between Neanderthals and modern humans that occurred tens of thousands of years earlier than any other such event previously documented.

Today in Nature the team publishes evidence* of interbreeding that occurred an estimated 100,000 years ago. More specifically the scientists provide the first genetic evidence of a scenario in which early modern humans left the African continent and mixed with archaic (now-extinct) members of the human family prior to the migration "out of Africa" of the ancestors of present-day non-Africans, less than 65,000 years ago.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Remains Found of 7,000-Year-Old Man Buried Upright

The young man was buried in a vertical pit in a 8,500-year-old cemetery, one of the oldest ever found in Europe.

A Mesolithic site in Germany has revealed the 7,000-year-old remains of a young man buried there in a strange upright position.

Placed in a vertical pit, the body was fixed upright by filling the grave with sand up to the knees. The upper body was left to decay and was likely picked at by scavengers.

The unique burial was found near the village of Groß Fredenwalde, on top of a rocky hill in northeastern Germany, about 50 miles north of Berlin.

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Bronze Age wheel at 'British Pompeii' Must Farm an 'unprecedented find'

A complete Bronze Age wheel believed to be the largest and earliest of its kind found in the UK has been unearthed.

The 3,000-year-old artefact was found at a site dubbed "Britain's Pompeii", at Must Farm in Cambridgeshire.

Archaeologists have described the find - made close to the country's "best-preserved Bronze Age dwellings" - as "unprecedented".

Still containing its hub, the 3ft-diameter (one metre) wooden wheel dates from about 1,100 to 800 BC.

The wheel was found close to the largest of one of the roundhouses found at the settlement last month.

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Perfectly preserved bronze age wheel unearthed in Cambridgeshire

The largest and most perfectly preserved bronze age wheel ever discovered in the UK, made of oak planks almost 3,000 years ago, has emerged from a site in Cambridgeshire dubbed a Fenland Pompeii.

“This site is one continuing surprise, but if you had asked me, a perfectly preserved wheel is the last thing I would have expected to find,” said the site director, Mark Knight, from the Cambridge university archaeology unit. “On this site objects never seen anywhere else tend to turn up in multiples, so it’s certainly not impossible we’ll go on to find another even better wheel.”

Archaeologists are carefully excavating the wheel, which was found still attached to its hub and scorched by fire that destroyed the settlement built on stilts over a tributary of the river Nene.

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Scientists Can Now 3D Print Otzi The Mummified Ice Man

Otzi, for those not up on their 5,300-year-old mummified men, died and was frozen in the Alps near Hauslabjoch on the border between Austria and Italy. His body is one of the best preserved human mummies in Europe and now he’s getting a 3D-printed makeover.

Researchers and engineers have worked together with 3D-printing firm Materialise to perfectly scan Otzi. This allows researchers to 3D print his tortured frame over and over again and, in an interesting episode of Nova, an artist will create a perfect replica of the mummy for study by researchers and potential museum-goers. Otzi, for his part, his hanging out in a climate-controlled vault in Italy so he doesn’t degenerate.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Effort to unlock secrets of 3,700-year-old woman 'Ava'

A skull and other remains were found at a Middle Bronze Age burial site almost 30 years ago

An archaeologist hopes to gain new insights into the life of a young woman who died more than 3,700 years ago.

The woman's bones, including a skull and teeth, were discovered at Achavanich in Caithness in 1987.
Unusually, she was buried in a pit dug into solid rock and her skull is an abnormal shape which some suggest was done deliberately using bindings.

Maya Hoole believes advances in technology could reveal more about the remains known as "Ava".

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FOCUS ON TUVA: Stunning treasures - and macabre slaughter - in Siberia's Valley of the Kings

In all, some 9,300 decorative gold pieces were found here, not including the 'uncountable golden beads'. Picture: Vera Salnitskaya

The royal tomb known as Arzhan 2 in the modern-day Republic of Tuva - to many, the most mysterious region in all Russia - is some 2,600 years old but its valuables match any trove from any era anywhere in the world. 

Here inside a mound 80 metres wide was buried a warrior tsar with a sway that plainly reached over a vast territory of mountains and steppes, and whose magnificent possessions indicated close contacts with other civilisations.

Forget the notion of barbaric Siberian nomadic tribes in this epoch: well, don't quite forget. These ancient warriors used the skulls of their vanquished foes as drinking cups, according to no less an authority than Greek historian Herodotus.

And this queen or concubine was almost certainly sacrificed to that she could be buried beside the dead ruler. And yet, as the pictures show, their exceptional artwork predates the influence of the Greeks, and displays a high degree of sophistication.

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Mysterious Graves Discovered at Ancient European Cemetery

This six-month-old baby is one of the oldest infant skeletons found in Europe. It was buried 8,400 years ago by hunter-gatherers near Berlin.

One of the oldest cemeteries in Europe has recently been discovered, with graves dating back almost 8,500 years. Two of the most intriguing finds are the skeleton of a six-month-old child and a mysterious upright burial of a man in his early 20s.
The German cemetery, called Gross Fredenwalde after a nearby village, belongs to a time known as the Mesolithic, when Europe was populated by hunter-gatherers. At a press conference Thursday morning in Berlin, excavators announced that nine skeletons have been uncovered on the hilltop burial site so far, five of them children younger than 6 years old. And the researchers found ample evidence that more graves remain unexcavated.
“It’s rare for the Mesolithic to find multiple graves in one place,” says forensic anthropologist Bettina Jungklaus, who excavated one of the bodies. “They were mobile people, ranging over the landscape.”

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bronze Age burial near Stonehenge discovered by badger

A Bronze Age cremation burial has been discovered near Stonehenge after being accidentally dug up by a badger.

Objects found in a burial mound at Netheravon, Wiltshire, include a bronze saw, an archer's wrist guard, a copper chisel and cremated human remains.

Experts believe the burial may have been that of an archer or a person who made archery equipment. 

The artefacts date back to 2,200-2,000BC, senior archaeologist Richard Osgood, of the MOD, said.

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9,200-year-old settlement discovered in Sweden

The discovery of the world's oldest storage of fermented fish in southern Sweden could rewrite the Nordic prehistory with findings indicating a far more complex society than previously thought. The unique discovery by osteologist Adam Boethius from Lund University was made when excavating a 9,200 year-old settlement at what was once a lake in Blekinge, Sweden. 9,200-year-old settlement discovered in Sweden 

Excavation team in Blekinge, Sweden [Credit: Lund University] 

"Our findings of large-scale fish fermentation, a traditional way of preserving fish, indicate that not only was this area settled at that time, it was also able to support a large community," says Adam Boethius, whose findings are now being published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. 

The discovery is also an indication that Nordic societies were far more developed 9,200 years ago than what was previously believed. The findings are important as it is usually argued that people in the north lived relatively mobile lives, while people in the Levant -- a large area in the Middle East -- became settled and began to farm and raise cattle much earlier.

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Freilegung des "Herren von Boilstädt" abgeschlossen

Das Highlight der Ausgrabungen im Zuge von Bauarbeiten zur Ortsumfahrung Gotha-Sundhausen in den Jahren 2012 und 2013 waren zwei frühmittelalterliche Bestattungen, die im Block geborgen wurden. Die Freilegung der beiden Bestattungen und die Restaurierung der Funde sind nun abgeschlossen und wurden heute der Öffentlichkeit präsentiert.

Anlässlich der Bauarbeiten zur Ortsumfahrung Gotha-Sundhausen wurden von August 2012 bis November 2013 archäologische Ausgrabungen durch das Thüringische Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie (TLDA) nötig. Bei einer Trassenlänge von rund 3 km wurden insgesamt 2,5 ha ausgegraben. Es konnten dabei Befunde unterschiedlicher Zeitstellung dokumentiert werden, darunter eine Siedlung der jungsteinzeitlichen sog. Linearbandkeramik (ab 5500 v. Chr.), eine Siedlung der frühen Bronzezeit (um 2000 v. Chr.), Grabhügel der späten Bronzezeit (ca. 1000 v. Chr.) sowie Siedlungspuren und Bestattungen aus der Eisenzeit (ca. 500 v. Chr.) bis ins frühe Mittelalter.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Legal bid fails to rebury remains of 2,500 year old tattooed 'ice princess'

After archeologists dug up the ancient mummy - preserved in permafrost - natural disasters were unleashed in Siberia, court told.

A mannequin - an exact replica - is displayed in the museum but on 'special occasions' VIPs would be 'provided the opportunities to see the real mummy'. Picture:

An appeal will be launched after a court this week rejected a demand by the the leader of the Teles ethnic group in the Altai Mountains to order the reburial of the world famous tattooed remains of 'Princess Ukok', dug from her tomb in 1993 by leading Russian archeologists.

A court in Gorno-Altaisk rejected his lawsuit, allowing the relic to remain in the care of the National Museum in the city, capital of the Altai Republic.

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DNA evidence uncovers major upheaval in Europe near end of last Ice Age

A photograph of les Closeaux at Rueil-Malmaison, Paris Basin, France. Credit: L. Lang

DNA evidence lifted from the ancient bones and teeth of people who lived in Europe from the Late Pleistocene to the early Holocene—spanning almost 30,000 years of European prehistory—has offered some surprises, according to researchers who report their findings in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on Feb. 4, 2016. Perhaps most notably, the evidence shows a major shift in the population around 14,500 years ago, during a period of severe climatic instability.

"We uncovered a completely unknown chapter of human history: a major population turnover in Europe at the end of the last Ice Age," says leading author Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany.

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Humans evolved by sharing technology and culture

Blombos Cave in South Africa has given us vast knowledge about our early ancestors. In 2015, four open access articles, with research finds from Blombos as a starting point, have been published in the journal PLOS ONE. 

Humans evolved by sharing technology and culture This image shows Blombos Cave, South Africa [Credit: University of Bergen] 

"We are looking mainly at the part of South Africa where Blombos Cave is situated. We sought to find out how groups moved across the landscape and how they interacted," says Christopher S. Henshilwood, Professor at the University of Bergen (UiB) and University of the Witwatersrand and one of the authors of the articles.

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Europe’s First Modern Humans May Have Been Replaced

TÜBINGEN, GERMANY—A new genetic study suggests that some 50,000 years ago, all non-Africans dispersed rapidly from a single population, and that around 14,500 years ago, there was a major turnover of the population in Europe. Researchers reconstructed the mitochondrial genomes of 35 hunter-gatherers who lived in Italy, Germany, Belgium, France, the Czech Republic, and Romania between 35,000 and 7,000 years ago.

The mitochondrial DNA of three of these individuals, who lived in what is now Belgium and France more than 25,000 years ago, belonged to haplogroup M. Haplogroup M is now very common in Asian, Australasian, and Native American populations, but had not been found in Europe, leading to the argument for multiple migrations. “When the Last Glacial Maximum began around 25,000 years ago, hunter-gatherer populations retreated south to a number of putative refugia, and the consequent genetic bottleneck probably resulted in the loss of this haplogroup,” Cosimo Posth of the University of Tübingen said in a press release

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Headteacher mocked on Twitter for claiming evolution is not a fact

Richard Dawkins weighs in on social media debate after Christina Wilkinson said there was ‘more evidence that Bible is true’

Christina Wilkinson, who runs a Church of England school, sparked a social media row with her remarks. Photograph: St Andrew’s C of E primary

A primary school headteacher has been mocked on Twitter after claiming that evolution was “a theory” and there was “more evidence that the Bible is true”.

Christina Wilkinson, of St Andrew’s Church of England school in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, made the remarks in a tweet responding to London headteacher Tom Sherrington, who urged teachers to stick to science when teaching the origins of life.

Wilkinson wrote: “Evolution is not a fact. That’s why it’s called a theory! There’s more evidence that the Bible is true.”

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Kilnwood, Vicarage Hill

This report has been reproduced by TimeTeign to help enhance our understanding of the early occupation and history of Kingsteignton during the early/late Bronze Age and into the Roman occupation around this hill-site. The report itself was made in relation to the construction of forty (40) dwellings on the Kilnwood estate, on Vicarage Hill, Kingsteignton, Devon, has been approved and passed by Steve Reed, at Devon County Council. 

The site is situated to the southeast of the historic core of Kingsteignton within an area that was covered by the former mediaeval field systems. Remnants of these survived as parts of the existing field system and as previously-recorded lynchets to east and southeast of the site.
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Bärenkult und Schamanenzauber

Bärenkult und Schamanenzauber: Rituale Früher Jäger
5.12.2015 - 28.3.2016
Archäologische Museum Frankfurt 

Warum hat man Bären feierlich bestattet?
Weshalb tanzten Schamanen mit einem Hirschgeweih auf dem Kopf?
In welchen Zauberwelten weilten sie bei ihren Séancen?
Und wozu dienten Äxte und Stäbe, die wie Köpfe von Elchkühen gestaltet waren?

Bärenzeremoniell, Hirschtanz sowie Ren- und Elchkult waren religiös-schamanische Rituale zahlreicher indigener Jägervölker im Norden Skandinaviens und Sibiriens. Mit Faszination und Abscheu begegneten Geistliche und Reisende des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts diesen Praktiken. Sie verdammten sie als „erschröcklichen Abgötterej vnnd verehrung der Teuffel". Dahinter stand jedoch eine urtümliche Vorstellungswelt und Religiosität, die in der Lebensform archaischer Jäger-Fischer-Sammler-Kulturen wurzelte.

Staunen erweckt jedoch nicht nur die weite Verbreitung dieser Kulte über die gesamte zirkumpolare Zone, sondern noch mehr ihr unergründliches Alter. Denn die Verehrung von Bären und Geweihträgern, verbunden mit schamanischen Ritualen, ist schon für die Altsteinzeit überliefert, dem Auftreten des modernen Menschen in Europa vor etwa 40 000 Jahren und noch darüber hinaus. In den religiösen Phänomenen neuzeitlicher Ethnien der nördlichen Hemisphäre werden somit Züge einer menschlichen „Urreligion" sichtbar.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Turtle soup, perchance? Prehistoric humans had a penchant for tortoises

New discovery at excavation of Qesem Cave reveals tortoises played a supplementary role in the diets of early humans 400,000 years ago

Grilled, boiled or salted? Turtles, or tortoises, are rarely consumed today, but a select few cultures, primarily those in East Asia, still consider turtle soup, made from the flesh of the turtle, a delicacy.
According to a new discovery at Qesem Cave near Tel Aviv, the site of many major findings from the late Lower Paleolithic period, they are not alone in their penchant for tortoise. Tel Aviv University researchers, in collaboration with scholars from Spain and Germany, have uncovered evidence of turtle specimens at the 400,000-year-old site, indicating that early man enjoyed eating turtles in addition to large game and vegetal material. 
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Study suggests how modern humans drove Neanderthals to extinction

A study* published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests how Neanderthals could have been driven to extinction by competition with modern humans. Archaeologists have hypothesized that competition between Neanderthals and modern humans led to the former’s extinction because modern humans had a more advanced culture than Neanderthals, giving modern humans a competitive edge. Marcus Feldman and colleagues tested the plausibility of this hypothesis using a model of interspecies competition that incorporates differences in the competing species’ levels of cultural development. 

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Hominins of the Lower Paleolithic are much more like modern humans than was previously thought. By 300,000 years ago, Homo heidelbergensis in Schöningen used highly sophisticated weapons and tools. The hominins at Schöningen lived in social groups that practiced coordinated group hunting, a division of labor, and were able to communication about the past, present and future. These are cultural traits that archaeologists typically attribute to modern humans. The excavations in the open-cast coal mine in Schöningen running from 1994 until today show that we have long underestimated the cultural capacities of Homo heidelbergensis. Schöningen is a key site for documenting both a high resolution record of past climatic change and how hominins lived in northern Europe during the Ice Age. Since 2008 Professor Nicholas Conard and Dr. Jordi Serangeli of the University of Tübingen have led the excavations with a major international research team in close cooperation with the Cultural Heritage Office of Lower Saxony.

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