Thursday, January 30, 2020

Neanderthals May Have Trekked 2,000 Miles to Siberia

Chagyrskaya Cave in Siberia's Altai Mountains, where researchers uncovered Neanderthal stone blades that resemble tools excavated in Europe (IAET)

Ancient Siberia was so nice, eastern European Neanderthals trekked there twice—even though they probably had to cross some 2,000 miles of tough terrain to reach it, a new study suggests.

A team of researchers has uncovered stone blades in Siberia’s Altai Mountains that bear a remarkable resemblance to known Neanderthal tools from modern Crimea and the northern Caucasus, located just north of the Black Sea. The group’s findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, hint that our long-gone cousins crossed the Eurasian continent about 60,000 years ago—an encore act to a similar eastward journey made some 40,000 years prior.

“Neanderthals were intrepid explorers in their own right,” says study author Richard Roberts, a geochronologist at the University of Wollongong in Australia, to Bruce Bower of Science News.

The team can’t conclusively say how long the journey took, or if it happened in fits and starts. But using the tools as an archaeological throughline, the researchers argue that at least some Siberian Neanderthals—whose origins have long been elusive—trace their roots back west.

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Jersey 'drowned landscape' could yield Ice Age insights

The team will base themselves at Seymour Tower, an 18th Century offshore fortification

Archaeologists are planning an ambitious survey of part of the seabed off Jersey where Neanderthals once lived.

The site is part-exposed during spring low tide, giving the team a four-hour window to dig while the sea is out.

Stone tools and mammoth remains have been recovered from the Violet Bank over the years.

Neanderthals are known to have inhabited what is now Jersey for hundreds of thousands of years.

The Violet Bank is a type of coastal zone known as an intertidal reef. It's underwater at high tide but some 10 sq km of seabed is exposed during the low spring tide.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020


À Pontarlier (Doubs), l'Inrap a mené une fouille archéologique préventive sur le site des Gravilliers, dans le cadre de l'aménagement d'un parc d'activités économiques du Grand Pontarlier. Un diagnostic archéologique réalisé en 2011 avait déjà révélé un site du premier Moyen Âge et une occupation mésolithique (9600 à 5500 ans avant notre ère) qui avait livré les plus anciens indices d'occupation humaine connus à Pontarlier. Une première fouille, en 2015, avait amplement confirmé les résultats du diagnostic. 

L’une des particularités du site moyenâgeux des Gravilliers est de se situer en totalité dans l’emprise du projet d’aménagement, permettant une vision exhaustive de l’ensemble, fait exceptionnel dans le cadre de fouilles préventives. La portée scientifique des recherches effectuées sur le site est considérable pour la compréhension de la dynamique de l'habitat rural médiéval et devrait constituer une référence pour l'est de la Gaule. Les résultats de la fouille seront précisés lors de la phase d'étude en 2020-2021.

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Monday, January 27, 2020

2019 excavation results of the Paphos Agora Project

Credit: Dept. of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus

The Department of Antiquities, Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works, has announced the completion of the 2019 excavations of the Department of Classical Archaeology of the Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland, within the framework of the Pafos Agora Project (PAP). The PAP, which has been running since 2011, examines the economic infrastructure and activity of the city, not only on the basis of excavations in the Agora itself, but also outside of it, throughout the entire Archaeological Site of Kato Paphos, based on prospection with the use of non-invasive geophysical methods.

Researchers from the Warsaw Technical University and the University of Hamburg participated in the 2019 field season, which took place during August and September 2019. Two main goals were set: 1) determining the size of the Agora in the north, and 2) identifying streets flanking it from the north and from the east. Excavations were carried out at four points.

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Friday, January 24, 2020

Triple Copper Age burial discovered in Croatia

Credit: Lovas Archaeological Project

While excavating one of the trenches in the highest part of Kovači in 2019, we discovered a triple Copper Age (?) burial, possibly dating to the period of Kostolac Culture (3250-3000 BCE). Burials of this kind are extremely rare in Croatia and this seems to be the earliest one (other similar examples are known from the famous site of Vučedol, but are connected to the later layers of Vučedol culture).

The burial was discovered in almost completely sterile soil above the bedrock, with no traces of a grave pit. Three individuals were buried together and numbered from 1 to 3 (left to right in the above photo).

The bodies of Individuals 1 and 3 were positioned in the same way. They were on their backs, but with their legs leaning to the right, as if they were stepping forward. Their arms were bent in the elbows and pulled to their chests.

Their faces were probably facing east. Individual 1 was a 20-30-year-old female and Individual 3 a 25-35-year-old male. The individual in the middle (Individual 2) was a female between 30 and 40 years of age. She was facing the ground.

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Grave of elite Bronze Age man from Poland reconstructed

The mysterious prince, although in fact he was not a member of royalty, but a local elite, 
was about 20-30 years oldand massively built, according to the preserved bones. 
Unlike the other burials around it, the body wasn’t burnt
[Credit: M. Podsiadlo]

A new 3D rendering of a 2,000-year-old aristocrat’s grave shows how the tribes inhabiting the Malopolska region buried their elites.

The richly-equipped kurgan, one of only a dozen in Poland, is known as the prince’s grave, due to the evident high standing of the man laid to rest there and the site’s monumental form.

The burial ground in Szarbia, near Krakow, was discovered in 1997 in fields by researchers from the Archaeological Museum in Krakow, led by Ryszard Naglik.

The excavations carried out until 2001 yielded incredible results. The archaeologists uncovered two burial sites, one from 2,000 years ago and one from 5,000 years ago.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Roman Coin Found in Northern Norway May Redraw Historic Trade Map

The Roman coin was found only 15 centimetres deep in the soil; it dates back to the time of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and is the northernmost find of its kind, signalling that trade contacts in the area date back to the Iron Age.

In just a few days, hobby archaeologist Ben-Harry Johansen found a 2,000-year-old coin and a richly decorated 1,000-year-old Viking sword at Våg in the municipality of Dønna on the Helgeland coast, national broadcaster NRK reported.

“The coin lay only 15 centimetres into the earth, in the so-called plough layer, where people with metal detectors are allowed to search,” Ben-Harry Johansen recalled with excitement.

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Council calls for archaeological digs before former Notcutts plans move forward

Plans have been submitted to develop the former Notcutts site in Ardleigh into a horse stable centre Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Essex County Council has called on developers at a former Notcutts site to allow archeological work to be undertaken in the hopes of finding prehistoric treasures.

No stranger to rich finds under the soil, the village of Ardleigh in north Essex has been found to be built above prehistoric, bronze age, Roman and Anglo Saxon settlements.

In the 1950s, a bronze age cemetery was also found by local farmer Felix Erith.

And now, as plans have been unveiled for part of the former garden centre, the local authority's historic environment officer Teresa O'Connor has recommended a team of archaeologists should carry out works in the hopes of finding more artefacts.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Neanderthals went underwater for their tools

Clam shells (stock image).
Credit: © Vatchara / Adobe Stock

Neanderthals collected clam shells and volcanic rock from the beach and coastal waters of Italy during the Middle Paleolithic, according to a new study.

Neanderthals collected clam shells and volcanic rock from the beach and coastal waters of Italy during the Middle Paleolithic, according to a study published January 15, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Paola Villa of the University of Colorado and colleagues.

Neanderthals are known to have used tools, but the extent to which they were able to exploit coastal resources has been questioned. In this study, Villa and colleagues explored artifacts from the Neanderthal archaeological cave site of Grotta dei Moscerini in Italy, one of two Neanderthal sites in the country with an abundance of hand-modified clam shells, dating back to around 100,000 years ago.

The authors examined 171 modified shells, most of which had to be retouched to be used as scrapers. All of these shells belonged to the Mediterranean smooth clam species Callista chione. Based on the state of preservation of the shells, including shell damage and encrustation on the shells by marine organisms, the authors inferred that nearly a quarter of the shells had been collected underwater from the sea floor, as live animals, as opposed to being washed up on the beach. In the same cave sediments, the authors also found abundant pumice stones likely used as abrading tools, which apparently drifted via sea currents from erupting volcanoes in the Gulf of Naples (70km south) onto the Moscerini beach, where they were collected by Neanderthals.

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Arctic island woolly mammoth shows strongest evidence yet of human slaughter and butchering

The extinct mammoth remains were dated by radiocarbon analysis to 21,000 years of age by the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo. Picture: Albert Protopopov

Ancient men cut all the meat, severed the trunk, removed the brain and pulled out bone marrow from all the limbs.

The Kotelny island woolly mammoth was killed by humans some 21,000 years ago, say scientists. 

Dr Albert Protopopov shared new pictures of the remains found at a location which was then part of the vast Beringia Land Bridge connecting what is now Siberia and North America.

'The traces on the bones show that the mammoth was killed and butchered by ancient people,' he said.

'I believe no other mammoth previously found in the world had such clear signs of being hunted by humans.'

'We found cuts all over its ribs, there were traces of spear strikes with chips left from the darts.'

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Always counterclockwise


Human behaviour is influenced by many things, most of which remain unconscious to us. One of these is a phenomenon known among perception psychologists as "pseudo-neglect". This refers to the observation that healthy people prefer their left visual field to their right and therefore devide a line regularly left of centre.

A study published on Friday, January 10, in the online magazine PLOS ONE now shows for the first time what effect this inconspicuous deviation had in the prehistoric past. A Slovak-German research team has investigated the alignment of early Neolithic houses in Central and Eastern Europe. Scientists of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) "Scales of Transformation" of Kiel University (CAU) and the Slovakian Academy of Sciences were able to prove that the orientation of newly built houses deviated by a small amount from that of existing buildings and that this deviation was regularly counterclockwise.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The advanced toolmakers of Olduvai Gorge

Olduvai Gorge is one of the world's most important sites for human origins research.

As far back as the Early Stone Age people were engineering stone tools in complex ways to ensure they were right for the job, according to new research in Tanzania’s famous Olduvai Gorge.

Mechanical testing of raw materials and artefacts by British and Spanish scientists has revealed that Palaeolithic hominins selected different raw materials for different tools based on how sharp, durable and efficient they were.

They made these decisions in conjunction with information about the length of time the tools would be used for and the force with which they could be applied.

This, the researchers say, reveals previously unseen complexity in the design and production of stone tools during this period.

The research, which employed experimental methods more commonly used in modern engineering, was led by anthropologist Alastair Key from the University of Kent, UK, and is described in the journal Royal Society Interface.

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Divers to retrieve Bronze Age artefacts from Swiss lake

Erosion is causing the piles to topple and wash away 
[Credit: Archaologischer Dienst des Kantons Bern, Daniel Steffen]

Archaeologists are diving into Switzerland’s Lake Thun to rescue the remains of Bronze Age pile dwellings before they wash away.

According to canton Bern’s education and culture authorities, the 3,500-year-old settlement is endangered by erosion and likely to disappear soon. From January through March, the divers will be working in front of Schadau Castle.

Initial investigations revealed that the northern area of the site was in a worrying condition. The last remains of the pile dwellings now lie unprotected at the bottom of the lake. The erosion, which washes away up to 50cm of sediment per year, is caused by the strong natural current of the Aare river as well as boat traffic.

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How 3,500-year-old ‘entrance to another world' was uncovered near Peterborough

Archaeologist made a bizarre discovery (Image: YOUTUBE)

AN ARCHAEOLOGIST was stunned when he uncovered a 3,500-year-old “entrance to another world” while excavating what he believed to be an old Roman road in Peterborough.

Dr Francis Pryor was working at Flag Fen, which has now been identified as a Bronze Age site, when he noticed timber wood buried in the ground. The leading archaeologist quickly called in a team to excavate the area, who exposed more than 60,000 timbers arranged in a very long row. Experts determined that they were part of a wooden causeway across the wet fenland, but Dr Pryor believes they represent much more.

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À Allonnes, les archéologues de l'Inrap ont découvert une importante agglomération gauloise du IIe-Ier siècle avant notre ère, et son sanctuaire, une découverte exceptionnelle à l'échelle de l'Europe celtique.

Suite à une prescription de la Drac ​Pays de la Loire, une importante fouille d’archéologie préventive vient de s’achever à Allonnes (Maine-et-Loire), rue Charles Baudelaire, au lieu-dit Le Tertre. Les archéologues de l’Inrap ont mis au jour de nombreux vestiges d’une agglomération gauloise fondée au IIe siècle avant notre ère et de son complexe cultuel, une découverte remarquable, non seulement à l’échelle de la région mais aussi à l’échelle de l’Europe celtique. L’opération qui a exigé onze mois d’étude et un arrêté de découverte exceptionnelle de la Drac Pays de la Loire a livré un nombre considérable d’informations sur le passé de la commune.

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

New evidence reveals what inspired ancient stone circles on Isle of Lewis

The Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis. Picture: Contributed

A massive lightning strike which hit the Isle of Lewis more than 3,000 years ago may have inspired ancient civilisations to build stone circles, academics believe.
Scientists studying a prehistoric stone circle on the Outer Hebrides island discovered evidence of a lightning strike on a nearby site where a circle had been hidden beneath a peat bog.

Just one stone remained standing at the site, known as Site XI or Airigh na Beinne Bige, which overlooks the main stone circle, Tursachan Chalanais, at Calanais on the Isle of Lewis.

But it is believed that the single stone was once part of a circle of standing stones, and that a massive star-shaped 'magnetic anomaly' in the centre signified where it had been struck by lightning.

Scientists from the University of St Andrews and the University of Bradford plan to extend their research to surrounding areas which have been flooded by rising sea levels.

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Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Iceman from British Columbia

The knife with its sheath

Human remains from the ice have always received a lot of public interest. Almost everyone has heard about Ötzi, the 5200-year-old iceman from the Tyrolean Alps. But have you heard about Kwäday Dän Ts’inchi – the Iceman from British Columbia? If not, you are seriously missing out on one of the most fascinating finds from the ice.

The discovery
August 1999. It had been the hottest year on record in British Columbia, Canada, and the glacial ice was melting fast. Three hunters were looking for Dall’s Sheep in the remote mountains of the Tatshenshini-Alsek Park. On approaching a glacier, they could see something lying on the ice. Closer inspection revealed it to be an animal skin. Near it, they discovered a gruesome sight – a human pelvic bone, with attached legs disappearing into the ice. Checking the ice around the find spot, they also made other discoveries, including a small object with a wooden handle, still in its sheath.

The hunters took along a few of the artifacts for proof of the find, but otherwise had the good sense not to disturb the site. If only Ötzi the Iceman had been treated in such a gentle way (read more here). Once the hunters had hiked out from the park, they immediately contacted the archaeological authorities. The archaeologists naturally became very excited when they heard about the human remains and the artifacts. The small object with a wooden handle, brought along by the hunters, turned out to be a knife.

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Immer im Uhrzeigersinn: Rätsel frühneolithischer Hausausrichtungen gelöst

Frühneolithische Häuser während der Ausgrabung. Foto: N. Müller-Scheeßel

Menschliches Verhalten wird von vielen Dingen beeinflusst, die uns meist unbewusst bleiben. Dazu gehört ein Phänomen, das unter Wahrnehmungspsychologen unter dem Begriff »Pseudoneglect« bekannt ist. Damit bezeichnen sie die Beobachtung, dass gesunde Menschen ihr linkes Gesichtsfeld gegenüber dem rechten bevorzugen und deshalb eine Linie regelhaft links der Mitte teilen. Eine heute in der Online-Zeitschrift PLOS ONE veröffentlichte Studie zeigt nun erstmals, welchen Effekt diese unscheinbare Abweichung in der prähistorischen Vergangenheit hatte.

Ein slowakisch-deutsches Forschungsteam hat die Ausrichtung frühneolithischer Häuser in Mittel- und Osteuropa untersucht. Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern des Sonderforschungsbereiches (SFB) »TransformationsDimensionen« der Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel (CAU) und der Slowakischen Akademie der Wissenschaften gelang dabei der Nachweis, dass die Orientierung neu gebauter Häuser um einen kleinen Betrag von derjenigen bereits bestehender Bauwerke abweicht und dass diese Abweichung regelhaft gegen den Uhrzeigersinn erfolgte.

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How the extinction of ice age mammals may have forced us to invent civilisation

Wikimedia Commons/Cloudordinary, CC BY-SA

Why did we take so long to invent civilisation? Modern Homo sapiens first evolved roughly 250,000 to 350,000 years ago. But initial steps towards civilisation – harvesting, then domestication of crop plants – began only around 10,000 years ago, with the first civilisations appearing 6,400 years ago.

For 95% of our species’ history, we didn’t farm, create large settlements or complex political hierarchies. We lived in small, nomadic bands, hunting and gathering. Then, something changed.

We transitioned from hunter-gatherer life to plant harvesting, then cultivation and, finally, cities. Strikingly, this transition happened only after the ice age megafauna – mammoths, giant ground sloths, giant deer and horses – disappeared. The reasons humans began farming still remain unclear, but the disappearance of the animals we depended on for food may have forced our culture to evolve.

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Three generations of ancient Amazon women warriors found in Russian tomb

Excavations of the burial sites belonging to the Amazon warrior women.

For the first time, researchers have uncovered the remains of four Amazons with different ages in the same tomb, according to a release by Russia's RAS Institute of Archeology.

Within the tomb, located in Russia, made of clay and oak blocks, they found skeletons of four women. One was estimated to be between 12 and 13 years old when she died, the second was 20 to 29 years old, a third was 25 to 35 years old and the fourth was 45 to 50 years old.

Scythians were nomadic tribes of warriors that lived across Siberia between 200 and 900 BC. And Amazons, like those depicted in the "Wonder Woman" film, were Scythian warrior women. The remains align with other previous discoveries to show that Amazons lived among other nomadic tribes in Eastern Europe.

Items found with the remains helped the researchers to estimate their burial occurred during the 4th century BC.

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Arctic treasures exposed by melting ice to go on display

A traditional Arctic whaling vessel. 
Photographer Kiliii Yuyan aims to reveal the hidden stories of the region. 
Photograph: Kiliii Yuyan/British Museum

Rare 28,000-year-old archaeological finds excavated from rapidly thawing ground in Siberia are to go on display for the first time at the British Museum as part of an exhibition on the history of the Arctic and its people.

Sewing needles and jewellery made from walrus ivory as well as carved mammoth ivory decorative objects are being lent by the Russian Academy of Science for a show that will be the biggest of its kind.

Jago Cooper, the head of the Americas collections at the museum, said the archeological site in north-east Siberia was a remarkable treasure trove, but it is also a tragedy because the objects are only now emerging due to the climate emergency.

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