Saturday, December 21, 2019

Ancient Mediterranean seawall first known defense against sea level rise and it failed


7,000-year-old seawall in Tel Hreiz, Israel reveals earliest known structure built against sea level rise and provides new insights into current battle with flooding threat.

Ancient Neolithic villagers on the Carmel Coast in Israel built a seawall to protect their settlement against rising sea levels in the Mediterranean, revealing humanity's struggle against rising oceans and flooding stretches back thousands of years.

An international team of researchers from the University of Haifa, Flinders University in Australia, the Israel Antiquities Authority and The Hebrew University uncovered and analysed the oldest known coastal defence system anywhere in the world, constructed by ancient settlers from boulders sourced in riverbeds from 1-2km near their village.

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Bronze Age royal tombs unearthed in Greece

A gold pendant depicted the head of the Egyptian goddess Hathor - a protector of the dead

Archaeologists have discovered two royal tombs in Greece containing jewellery and artefacts dating back more than 3,000 years.

The finds include a gold ring depicting bulls flanked by sheaves of barley and a pendant showing an Egyptian goddess.

The US researchers say their discovery will provide new clues about early Mycenaean trade and culture.

The tombs are near the Bronze Age palace of Pylos, in Greece's southern Peloponnese region.

They are not far from another important grave discovered in 2015, believed to be that of an early ruler of the city.

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

This Is 'Lola,' a 5,700-Year-Old Woman Whose Entire Life Is Revealed in Her 'Chewing Gum'

This is an artistic reconstruction of Lola, a 5,700-year-old woman whose appearance was reconstructed from DNA analysis of a chewed piece of birch pitch.
(Image: © Tom Björklund)

Thousands of years ago, a young Neolithic woman in what is now Denmark chewed on a piece of birch pitch. DNA analysis of this prehistoric "chewing gum" has now revealed, in remarkable detail, what she looked like.

The team nicknamed the young Neolithic woman "Lola" after Lolland, the island in Denmark on which the 5,700-year-old chewing gum was discovered. The Stone Age archaeological site, Syltholm, on the island of Lolland, pristinely preserved the gum in mud for the thousands of years after Lola discarded it.

It was so well-preserved that a group of scientists at the University of Copenhagen were able to extract a complete ancient human genome — all of the young girl's genetic material — from it. They were also able to extract DNA from ancient pathogens and oral microbes that she carried in her mouth. 

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Homo erectus: Ancient humans survived longer than we thought

A reconstruction of Homo erectus - the first known human to walk fully upright

An ancient relative of modern humans survived into comparatively recent times in South East Asia, a new study has revealed.

Homo erectus evolved around two million years ago, and was the first known human species to walk fully upright.

New dating evidence shows that it survived until just over 100,000 years ago on the Indonesian island of Java - long after it had vanished elsewhere.

This means it was still around when our own species was walking the Earth.

Details of the result are described in the journal Nature.

In the 1930s, 12 Homo erectus skull caps and two lower leg bones were found in a bone bed 20m above the Solo River at Ngandong in central Java.

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Ancient settlement where humanity’s ancestors made their last stand before extinction discovered

Professor Russell Ciochon in his lab with a cast of a Homo erectus skull (Picture: Tim Schoon, 

University of Iowa (Source: Tim Schoon, University of Iowa) A hardy band of human ancestors made a last stand on Java about 110,000 years ago, scientists have discovered. 

Homo erectus, the first species to walk fully upright, survived 300,000 years longer than previously thought until being wiped out by an ‘ecological disaster.’ 

Its last known settlement has been unearthed on the Solo River, just outside the village of Ngangdong in the centre of the idyllic Indonesian island. 

The groundbreaking discovery also confirms that Homo erectus was the most long-lived human species – thriving for at least nearly two million years. 

Modern humans emerged just a quarter of a million years ago. 

Professor Russell Ciochon of the University of Iowa said: ‘This site is the last known appearance of Homo erectus found anywhere in the world.

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2,200-Year-Old Stunning Mosaic In Ancient Greek City Of Zeugma

In the ancient Greek town of Zeugma, it actually located in Turkey, three new mosaics have been discovered.

The mosaics dating from the 2nd century BC are exceptionally well preserved, but they’re still as beautiful as the first day.

In addition, in Dacia (presumably today’s Romania) there are two ancient cities named Zeugma and one in modern Gaziantep province of Turkey.

It was considered one of the largest trading centers in the Eastern Roman Empire in Turkey and prospered till the third century when it was completely destroyed and then struck by an earthquake by a Sassanid king

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2,400-year-old female warrior graves unearthed in Russia

Credit: Institute of Archaeology RAS 

As the ancient Scythians roamed through Europe and Asia, leaving behind a trail of burial mounds for subsequent archaeologists to discover, it was assumed that those buried with weapons were men. Only with the advent of modern scientific analysis was it revealed that women warriors were a common sight among the fearsome Scythians.

A burial site of a Scythian Amazon containing precious metal adornments dating to the second half of the 4th century BC has been discovered by a team of archaeologists of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences on an expedition to the river Don.

The preliminary results of a study of the finds were announced earlier this month at a meeting of the Scientific Council of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences by the head of the Don expedition, Valery Gulyaev.

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2.000 Jahre alte Siedlung und Gräberfeld am Grundbach in Minden entdeckt

In Minden haben Archäologen einer Fachfirma in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) Spuren eines 2.000 Jahre alten Gräberfeldes und einer noch älteren Siedlung freigelegt. Die Ausgrabung verspricht neue Erkenntnisse zur Siedlungsgeschichte westlich der Mindener Altstadt.

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Monday, December 16, 2019

Minoan disposable cup shows ancients were not green either

The cup, shown here next to a modern throwaway container, was made by the Minoans. 
Photograph: Trustees of the British Museum/PA

The 3,500-year-old, single-use vessel for wine will go on display at the British Museum

The finding of an ancient disposable cup that dates back 3,500 years shows that the idea that throwaway vessels for drinks is a modern habit is not true and even ancient civilisations didn’t want “to do the washing up”, experts say.

The Minoans, one of the first advanced civilisations in Europe, used the cup to drink wine in Greek island of Crete where they resided. Thousands of the handleless, conical clay cups have been discovered on archeological sites on the island and the palace of Knossos. They will go on display from Friday at the the British Museum, which has been under pressure from environment campaigners over its sponsorship by oil giant BP.

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New data on the open air sanctuary of Zeus in Arcadia

Aerial view of the complex in the area of "Loutra" 
[Credit: Arcadia Ephorate of Antiquities,
Mount Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project]

The open air sanctuary of Zeus in Arcadia is a special place of worship. It is situated at an altitude of 1,382 m on one of the peaks of Mount Lykaion, the Prophet Elias/Elijah where, according to recent research, it was established no later than 1500 BC. “It’s a sun lit peak, literally bathed in light most days of the year. On such high peaks humans felt they communicated better with the divine,” says Dr. Anna Karapanagiotou to the Athens and Macedonian News Agency. She is head of the Arcadia Antiquities Ephorate and director of the joint Greek American excavation research programme active in the region these last few years. Recently, at the archaeological conference organized by the Ministry of Culture and Sports at the Megaron/Athens Concert Hall, the results of the programme were presented, whose second phase began in 2016 and will be completed in 2020.

“The rural population of the greater region gathered at the Prophet Elias on Mount Lykaion and expressed its devotion to the deity with animal sacrifices in its honour. Successive layers of deposits that include ashes from sacrificial fires, remnants of burnt animal bones, and soil formed over time the altar of ashes that one still encounters at the summit today. This open air altar was preserved in its primeval form until the end of antiquity. It has never acquired a monumental architectural form, a fact which indicates its supreme sanctity,” says Ms. Karapanagiotou to the AMNA.

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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Ancient wonders: five little-known archaeological sites in the UK

 Mên-an-Tol, known locally as the Crick Stone, in Cornwall England. 
Photograph: Paul Williams/Alamy

Our landscape is studded with reminders of past peoples. An expert in the field chooses her favourite windows into antiquity

Mên-an-Tol, Penwith Moor, near Madron, Cornwall

The name means “stone with a hole” in Cornish and the site is probably about 4,000 years old, dating from the bronze age. There are more stones hidden under the turf. What’s clear is that you’re in an ancient landscape – there’s a neolithic enclosure on the hillside, bronze-age barrow burials and the Boskednan Nine Maidens stone circle nearby. Some 400 metres to the north of the Mên-an-Tol is the Mên Scryfa, probably a bronze-age standing stone that was reused some time between 450-650AD as a grave marker. It’s inscribed with RIALOBRANI CVNOVALI FILI in Roman lettering, meaning “Rialobranus, son of Cunovalus”. Rialobran, or Ryalvran, is a native Cornish name, and may mean “royal raven”.

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Thursday, December 12, 2019

'Earliest ever' family photo taken at Stonehenge discovered by experts

A long way from a selfie, a family pose in horse drawn carriage in front of 
Stonehenge in 1875 ( PA )

A faded black and white picture of a group posing in front of Stonehenge could be the oldest existing family photo of the ancient British attraction.

English Heritage asked people to send in their pictures to mark 100 years of public ownership of the prehistoric monument.

After sifting through more than 1,000 photographs, they believe some images from 1875 are the oldest.

One picture shows the group sitting on the stones – which is now only allowed on special occasions – with a picnic rug and what appears to be a bottle of champagne.

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‘Humans were not centre stage’: how ancient cave art puts us in our place

 Paleolithic artwork in Lascaux, France. 
Photograph: Sissie Brimberg/National Geographic/Getty Images

In our self-obsessed age, the anonymous, mysterious cave art of our ancient ancestors is exhilarating. 
By Barbara Ehrenreich

In 1940, four teenage boys stumbled, almost literally, from German-occupied France into the Paleolithic age. As the story goes – and there are many versions of it – they had been taking a walk in the woods near the town of Montignac when the dog accompanying them suddenly disappeared. A quick search revealed that their animal companion had fallen into a hole in the ground, so – in the spirit of Tintin, with whom they were probably familiar – the boys made the perilous 15-metre descent to find it. They found the dog and much more, especially on return visits illuminated with paraffin lamps. The hole led to a cave, the walls and ceilings of which were covered with brightly coloured paintings of animals unknown to the 20th-century Dordogne – bison, aurochs and lions. One of the boys later reported that, stunned and elated, they began to dart around the cave like “a band of savages doing a war dance”. Another recalled that the painted animals in the flickering light of the boys’ lamps seemed to be moving. “We were completely crazy,” yet another said, although the build-up of carbon dioxide in a poorly ventilated cave may have had something to do with that.

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Sulawesi art: Animal painting found in cave is 44,000 years old


A painting discovered on the wall of an Indonesian cave has been found to be 44,000 years old.

The art appears to show a buffalo being hunted by part-human, part-animal creatures holding spears and possibly ropes.

Some researchers think the scene could be the world's oldest-recorded story.

The findings were presented in the journal Nature by archaeologists from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.

Adam Brumm - an archaeologist at Griffith - first saw the pictures two years ago, after a colleague in Indonesia shimmied up a fig tree to reach the cave passage.

"These images appeared on my iPhone," said Mr Brumm. "I think I said the characteristic Australian four-letter word out very loud."

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Early Bronze Age ring-ditch at Clitheroe

One of the bipartite Collared Urns found in the ring-ditch [Image: © ARS Ltd]

An Early Bronze Age (c.1950-1500 BC) ring-ditch has been excavated by Archaeological Research Services (ARS) above the floodplain of the River Ribble at Clitheroe, Lancashire.

This ring-ditch takes one of the characteristic forms of Early Bronze Age burial site in northern England, that of the flat ‘ringwork’ that lacks either an earthen or stone mound. This form is associated in particular with the Pennine Uplands. Pit-like features around the southern side of the ring-ditch, although predominantly natural in origin, might represent the bases of trees or shrubs that were intentionally planted to enhance the monument’s visual impact within the landscape.

The excavation identified nine cremation burials in a central position within the monument, four of which were found within near-complete bipartite Collared Urns (pictured), and two others in fragments.

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Iron Age shield found during Pocklington dig fully restored

Pocklington Iron Age shield following cleaning and restoration work
[Credit: MAP Archaeological Practice]

The shield was part of an impressive ‘warrior grave’ find uncovered at a Persimmon Homes ‘The Mile’ development last year and now a preservation project has revealed its full glory.

The remarkably preserved bronze shield was found laid face down in the cart of an upright chariot, which had been drawn by two ponies.

The skeleton of a post 46-year-old male was laid upon the shield and is considered to be the shield’s owner.

Experts say it is the most important British Celtic art object of the Millennium.

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Nine 'amazing' Bronze Age figurines found at Orkney dig

The carvings have all been "pecked" to give them shoulders, 
a neck and what looks like a head

Archaeologists working at the site of a proposed electricity sub-station in Orkney have found nine "amazing" stone carvings.

The 50cm (20in) tall sculptures have all been worked to give them shoulders, a neck and what looks like a head.

The first has been nicknamed the "Finstown Fella", after the location of the dig. After it was recognised, eight more were found on the site.

Experts believe they date from roughly 2000BC.

Sean Bell, site director for ORCA Archaeology, told BBC Radio Orkney that they had all been worked using a technique known as pecking - chipping away flakes of stone with a pointed metal or stone tool.

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Neue Entdeckungen am Leubinger Grabhügel

Nachbestattungen am Fuß des Leubinger Großgrabhügels. 
Foto: M. Küßner, TLDA, Weimar

Seit 2016 werden erstmals seit 140 Jahren im Vorfeld und am sogenannten Leubinger Hügel selbst archäologische Untersuchungen durch das Thüringische Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie (TLDA) vorgenommen. Dabei traten bisher völlig unbekannte Befunde zutage: ein kleiner vorgelagerter Grabhügel, spätbronzezeitliche Gräber um den Haupthügel sowie Hinweise auf seine tatsächliche Größe.

Der Leubinger Fürstenhügel ist der größte noch weitgehend erhaltene frühbronzezeitliche Grabhügel Mitteleuropas. Die Ausstattung des »Fürsten« mit Gold in einer aufwendigen Grabkammer enormer Größe in diesem monumentalen Hügel bezeugt einen Machtanspruch frühbronzezeitlicher Herrschaft. Der Hügel ist eingebettet in eine über tausende von Jahren entstandene kleine Totenlandschaft.

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Monday, December 9, 2019

Archaeological Study Tour to Orkney

EMAS Study Tour to Orkney
14 – 23 April 2020
There are still a few places left on the EMAS Archaeological Society Study Tour to Orkney.

However, hotel places are very limited, so an early reply is advised.

You can find further details on the EMAS website.

Further details...

Intact deposit of prehistoric funerary vessels found in Minorca

Credit: Museu de Menorca

An intact deposit comprising a collection of some 50 well preserved prehistoric vases, accompanied by the remains of bones of animals, mainly goats, sheep and pigs, has been documented by a group of archaeologists from the Museum of Minorca in what is considered "an exceptional find".

The discovery is still in the process of being studied but specialists interpret that this deposit of vases would have formed part of the funerary rituals of commensality linked to burials in lime arranged within the hypogeum, an event never before documented in Minorca.

On the occasion of the forthcoming exhibition dedicated to the archaeologist Joan Flaquer Fabregues (1887-1963), promoted by the Museum of Minorca, several studies have been carried out dedicated to his figure as well as his private collection, which has been deposited in the Museum since 2017.

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Saturday, December 7, 2019

Celtic warrior from 2,000 years ago buried in chariot with weapons and ponies hailed as most important find of its kind in UK

A Celtic warrior’s grave containing weapons and upright pony skeletons has been described by experts as a unique and significant discovery for the UK. 

A 2,000-year-old shield, which was found next to the ancient Briton’s remains, is “the most important British Celtic art object of the millennium”, said Dr Melanie Giles, of the University of Manchester. 

Archaeologists said that the burial site in Pocklington, east Yorkshire, is the only one in the UK where modern archaeologists have found horses buried in a “chariot grave”. 

About 20 humans buried inside chariots have been found in the past 100 years or so, mostly in Yorkshire – although not with horses. 

Paula Ware, the director of Map Archaeological Practice, which excavated the grave, said: “The magnitude and preservation of the Pocklington chariot burial has no British parallel, providing a greater insight into the Iron Age epoch.”  

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Iron age shield found in Yorkshire burial is the find 'of the millennium'

The conserved bronze shield found at Pocklington which has been hailed as 'the most important British Celtic art object of the millennium'
(Photo: Yorkshire Post)

After centuries underground, the dirt-encrusted object gave little hint of what it would reveal.

But painstaking conservation work has revealed what experts are now hailing as “the most important British Celtic art object of the millennium”.

The remarkably well preserved bronze shield, with a swirling pattern design, formed part of a unique chariot burial, which also contained the upright skeletons of two ponies found on a building site at Pocklington in 2018.

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Neolithic burial chamber discovered in northeastern France

First layer of skeletons in the burial chamber
[Credit: INRAP]

A team from Inrap announced that it has discovered a collective underground burial ground or hypogeum dating to the late Neolithic period in Saint-Memmie, a town in the Marne department of northeastern France, in which about fifty deceased people were buried, during excavations currently being carried out before the creation of a supermarket.

"This hypogeum dating from 3500 to 3000 years BC consists of an entrance opening onto a 3.80 metre long sloping corridor that leads to an antechamber allowing access to the 6 square metre burial chamber through a narrow crawl space," says the National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) in a statement.

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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Alcohol may have saved humanity from extinction, scientists claim

Our species’ ability to hold its booze may have stopped us dying out and enabled our conquest of Planet Earth (Picture: Getty)

Humanity’s ancestors may have been saved from extinction by alcohol, scientists have suggested.

In a new book, called Alcohol And Humans: A Long And Social Affair, professors Dr Kim Hockings and Dr Robin Dunbar say that African apes who lived around 10 million years ago evolved to metabolise ethanol, the chemical compound in alcohol.

These primates eventually gave rise not only to humans but also to chimps, bonobos and gorillas, all of which share the ability to break down booze. 

The common ape ancestor evolved to carry a protein that made metabolising ethanol more efficient, which allowed them to eat overripe fermented fruits that fell on the ground.

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À l'occasion d'une fouille programmée sur le site d'Amiens-Renancourt, une équipe de l'Inrap, en collaboration avec le CNRS, a mis au jour une étonnante « Vénus » du Paléolithique supérieur ancien. Elle est la quinzième statuette découverte sur ce site qui fut peut-être un atelier orienté dans cette production.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Ancient necropolis discovered during roadworks in Sicily

The excavation site in Gela. Photo: Regione Sicilia

Workers installing cables under a road in the Sicilian town of Gela have uncovered part of an ancient Greek burial site.

Residents of Via Di Bartolo, in Gela, Sicily, had expected disrruption from roadworks this month as workers installed fibre optic cables under the street. But instead they've ended up with an archaeological dig taking place outside their front doors, after the Open Fiber cable company uncovered part of an ancient necropolis dating back to the 7th century BC.

Finds so far along the small strip of road include a ceramic water jug which contained the bones of a newborn baby, and parts of a large animal skeleton, according to local authorities.

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Bad luck may have caused Neanderthals' extinction – study

Scientists broadly agree that the Neanderthals died out about 40,000 years ago. 
Photograph: IanDagnall Computing/Alamy Stock Photo

Homo sapien invasion may not have prompted Neanderthals’ demise 40,000 years ago

Perhaps it wasn’t our fault after all: research into the demise of the Neanderthals has found that rather than being outsmarted by Homo sapiens, our burly, thick-browed cousins may have gone extinct through bad luck alone.

The Neanderthal population was so small at the time modern humans arrived in Europe and the Near East that inbreeding and natural fluctuations in birth rates, death rates and sex ratios could have finished them off, the scientists claim.

The findings suggest that the first modern humans to reach Europe were not superior to the Neanderthals, as some accounts argue, and that anyone encumbered by survivors’ guilt may have good reason to unburden themselves.

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Siberia: 18,000-year-old frozen 'dog' stumps scientists

Researchers say the animal could be a dog, a wolf or something in between

Researchers are trying to determine whether an 18,000-year-old puppy found in Siberia is a dog or a wolf.

The canine - which was two months old when it died - has been remarkably preserved in the permafrost of the Russian region, with its fur, nose and teeth all intact.

DNA sequencing has been unable to determine the species.

Scientists say that could mean the specimen represents an evolutionary link between wolves and modern dogs.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Ice Age ‘puppy’ is found after 18,000 years buried in the permafrost

It has been nicknamed Dogor – a pun on whether it is a dog or a wolf

A perfectly preserved body found in the ice of the Siberian permafrost could be the oldest ever confirmed dog. 

The 18,000-year-old pup nicknamed Dogor – a pun on ‘dog or wolf’ – was found in the summer of 2018 and has been studied since then by Love Dalén and Dave Stanton, 34. 

They have been trying to work out if it is a wolf or a dog because it comes from the point in history where dogs were domesticated. 

If it turns out that it is a dog, it will help researchers learn more about when wolves were tamed. 

Love said that when you hold it, it feels like a very recently dead animal.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019


Á Ifs, à l’emplacement d'un futur centre pénitentiaire, l'Inrap étudie une occupation humaine de plusieurs siècles, du premier âge du Fer (Ve siècle avant notre ère) au haut Moyen Âge. De nombreuses sépultures, dont une tombe à char, ainsi qu'un souterrain en parfait état de conservation ont été mis au jour. 

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Á Ifs, à l’emplacement d'un futur centre pénitentiaire, l'Inrap étudie une occupation humaine de plusieurs siècles, du premier âge du Fer (Ve siècle avant notre ère) au haut Moyen Âge. De nombreuses sépultures, dont une tombe à char, ainsi qu'un souterrain en parfait état de conservation ont été mis au jour. 

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Early humans slaughtered by our ancestors were ‘first victims of sixth mass extinction’

Like modern humans, Neanderthals are members of the Homo genus. They inhabited Europe and western Asia between 230,000 and 29,000 years ago (Image: Getty)

We humans are an inventive lot, but we really do like to kill each other and anything else unlucky enough to share this planet with us. 

Now it’s been claimed that the first victims of our species’ bloodlust may have been other humans. 

Today there is only one type of human on Earth: Homo sapiens. But just 300,000 years ago there were at least eight other types of human living on Earth, ranging from Neanderthals, the huge hulking hunters adapted to hunt in Europe’s freezing steppes, to the Denisovans of Asia. 

Could we be to blame for their deaths and should these extinct humans be regarded as the first victims of the sixth mass extinction feared to be imperilling the natural world right now?

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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Cave lion figurine made of woolly mammoth tusk found at Denisova Cave

Cave lion figurine in situ at the Denisova Cave in the Altai mountains. 
Picture: Institute of Archeology and Ethnography

The sensational discovery was made three months ago in the Altai Mountains by the team of archeologists from Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography. 

The precious small - 42mm long, 8mm thick and 11mm high - figurine of a cave lion (Panthera spelaea, lat) was made by an Upper Palaeolithic artist between 40,000 and 45,000 years ago. 

It was found inside the 11th layer of the southern gallery of the Denisova Cave. 

This is the oldest sculptural zoomorphic image ever found in Siberia and throughout the territory of Northern and Central Asia. 

The precise age is yet to be confirmed, but the cautious dating given by Siberian archeologists means that this might be the oldest animal figurine in the world. 

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Une équipe d’archéologues de l’Inrap mène une fouille, sur prescription de l’État (Drac grand Est), à Saint-Memmie (Marne), en périphérie de Châlons-en-Champagne, en amont de la création d’un supermarché LIDL. Étendue sur une surface de 5 000 m2, cette fouille a été l'occasion d'une découverte exceptionnelle avec la mise au jour d’un hypogée, datant du Néolithique, vers 3500 à 3000 ans avant notre ère. Les hypogées, monuments funéraires, sont particulièrement représentés dans le département de la Marne : 160 ont été identifiés au fil des siècles, mais la plupart ont été visités et vidés sans étude archéologique. Aujourd’hui, seuls cinq de ces monuments ont été correctement documentés. La fouille en cours à Saint-Memmie, qui bénéficie des dernières méthodes et technologies de l’archéologie préventive, va permettre de renouveler profondément les connaissances sur cette pratique funéraire et l’architecture de ce type de sépulture.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Research shows people made ropes and baskets during the Paleolithic era

Santa Maira cave [Credit: Asociación RUVID]

A research team from the University of Valencia and the CSIC has published a study that demonstrates the use of plant fibres during the Final Palaeolithic era in the Santa Maira caves (Castell de Castells, Alicante).

These are fragments of braided rope and basketwork imprints on clay. The rope has provided the oldest direct dating in Europe for an object made of braided fibres: 12,700 years ago. In the same work, the first evidence on the use of containers made from clay-coated baskets has also been revealed.

The work analyses both the species used to obtain braided ropes, their treatment and preparation, as well as their use to manufacture more complex devices such as baskets and containers. These materials have been dated back about 13,000 years. Ethnological data indicate that these materials have been widely used among historical societies, but we are largely unaware of their use in Prehistory.

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Iron Age DNA sheds light on Finns’ genetic origin

Iron Age samples from Levänluhta, southern Ostrobothnia, trace lineage to Finland's modern Sámi population. Image: Jussi Mankkinen, Yle

Researchers at Helsinki and Turku universities mapping ancient Finno-Ugric ancestry say modern-day Finns carry genes from diverse populations living in the region of Finland during the Iron Age.

They said they were able to reconstruct 103 complete mitochondrial genomes from archaeological bone samples, allowing them to trace maternal lineage. The samples were collected from burial sites across Finland and the Republic of Karelia, Russia.

Scientists found that genes associated with ancient farmer populations were more common in the east, whereas lineages inherited from hunter-gatherers were more prevalent in the west.

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Alpine rock axeheads became social and economic exchange fetishes in the Neolithic

Alpine rock axehead found at Harras, Thuringia, from the Michelsberg Culture 
(c. 4300-2800 BCE)
[Credit: Juraj Liptak, State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology

Axeheads made out of Alpine rocks had strong social and economic symbolic meaning in the Neolithic, given their production and use value. Their resistance to friction and breakage, which permitted intense polishing and a re-elaboration of the rocks, gave these artefacts an elevated exchange value, key to the formation of long-distance exchange networks among communities of Western Europe. Communities who had already begun to set the value of exchange of a product according to the time and effort invested in producing them.

This is what a study led by a research group at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) indicates in regards to the mechanical and physical parameters characterising the production, circulation and use of a series of rock types used in the manufacturing of sharp-edged polished artefacts in Europe during the Neolithic (5600-2200 BCE).

The objective of the study was to answer a long debated topic: the criteria by which Alpine rocks formed part of an unprecedented pan-European phenomenon made up of long-distance exchange networks, while others were only used locally. Was the choice based on economic, functional or perhaps subjective criteria? Stone axeheads were crucial to the survival and economic reproduction of societies in the Neolithic. Some of the rocks used travelled over 1000 kilometres from their Alpine regions to northern Europe, Andalusia in southern Spain and the Balkans.

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Reidar Marstein – Our Local Hero of Glacier Archaeology

Reidar standing at the edge of one of our ice patches in northeast Jotunheimen. 
Photo: Espen Finstad,

One member of the Secrets of the Ice team is not a professional archaeologist. Reidar Marstein is a hobby archaeologist from Lom. Why is he a core member of the team? Well, there are a number of reasons for that, but the main reason is that without him, glacier archaeology here in Oppland would have looked very different. 

In the early 2000’s, Reidar noticed that the ice patches in the northeastern part of the Jotunheimen Mountains were getting smaller. He thought there was a chance that artifacts could emerge from the melting ice. Reidar explains what happened next:

“2006 was a special year for ice patches and glaciers in our high mountains. The summer was warm, and autumn continued with high temperatures into October. We had never witnessed a melt like that. The ice patches and glaciers were smaller than we had ever seen before.

I hiked up to the ice patches every week this autumn. It was my visit on September 17 that became the greatest adventure. I started early in the morning and reached the Langfonne ice patch around 9 am. It was unbelievable how much the ice patch had melted just during the last week. With great excitement, I started my survey around the ice. It had to have been a long time since the last human set foot here. 

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Sunday, November 17, 2019

EMAS Archaeological Study Tour to Orkney

EMAS Archaeological Study Tour to Orkney
14 – 23 April 2020
Guide: David Beard MA, FSA, FSA Scot
The 2020 EMAS spring study tour will be to Orkney. We will travel by coach from Baker Street, London stopping overnight at Middlesbrough and Inverness and visiting archaeological sites on the way.
We will be based in Kirkwall, and will visit sites on Orkney Mainland and the islands of Egilsay, Rousay and Wyre. The sites that we will visit include Maes Howe, Skara Brae, Midhowe Broch, the Brough of Birsay, Cubbie Roo’s Castle, the Earl’s Palace at Birsay and Kirkwall Cathedral.
The cost of this study tour will be £1036 per person for people sharing a twin room, and £1305 per person for a single room.
Please note that hotel accommodation is limited and applications must be received by  30 November at the latest.
Click here for a complete itinerary

Archaeologists unearth ancient settlement in SE Turkey

An ancient historical site dating back 11,800 years was unearthed on Thursday in southeastern Turkey.

Now part of the province of Mardin, the area has been home to many different civilizations including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Hittites, Urartians, Romans, Abbasids, Seljuks and Ottomans.

Archeologist Ergul Kodas said his team was excavating the site as part of a project focusing on documenting and rescuing cultural sites located in the Dargecit district, when they came across the 11,800-year-old sewer system and over two dozen architectural artifacts.

A total of 15 restorers and archaeologists as well as 50 workers are currently excavating the area, which was designated a historical and cultural site by Turkish authorities.

Kodas, the head of the excavation team, said the historical site was inhabited for a long period around 9800 B.C. and that there were eight-story historical buildings reaching up to seven meters in height.

He noted that the sewer system was the oldest known in history, saying: "We were only able to unearth a certain portion of the sewer system, and confirmed it was [located] in a public use area."

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3000-year-old sword discovered in north-east Bohemia

Credit: David Tanecek, CTK

A sword dating back to the early Bronze Age has been unearthed in the region of Rychnov nad Kneznou in north-east Bohemia, according to a recent report by the Czech News Agency.

According to the archaeologist Martina Bekova from the Rychnov museum, the weapon has an ornamental engraving and a very sharp blade.

"The bronze sword with its tongue handle is dated around 1200 BC, it belongs to the Lusatian culture. The findings of this culture are numerous in East Bohemia, but this is not true of swords," said Bekova.

"Only five prehistoric swords have been found in the Czech Republic over the last decade," she adds.

Archaeologists are keeping the exact location of the discovery a secret to protect the site.

A search of the area also yielded several rivets which were used to secure the sword handle to the blade, and a bronze spear head from about the same period.

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Caithness Iron Age stone tower to be conserved

Over the years Ousdale Burn Broch has fallen into a poor state of preservation

An Iron Age drystone tower damaged by Victorian archaeologists is to be conserved.

The ruins of Ousdale Burn Broch, north of Helmsdale in Caithness, has fallen into further disrepair over the last 120 years.

A wall near the entrance to the broch has collapsed and a tree is growing inside the structure.

Archaeological charity Caithness Broch Project has secured £180,000 of funding towards its conservation.

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