Monday, December 21, 2020

Early humans may have survived the harsh winters by hibernating

The site at Sima de los Huesos was a mass grave 400,000 years ago. Photograph: C├ęsar Manso/AFP/Getty Images

Bears do it. Bats do it. Even European hedgehogs do it. And now it turns out that early human beings may also have been at it. They hibernated, according to fossil experts.

Evidence from bones found at one of the world’s most important fossil sites suggests that our hominid predecessors may have dealt with extreme cold hundreds of thousands of years ago by sleeping through the winter.

The scientists argue that lesions and other signs of damage in fossilised bones of early humans are the same as those left in the bones of other animals that hibernate. These suggest that our predecessors coped with the ferocious winters at that time by slowing down their metabolisms and sleeping for months.

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Monday, December 14, 2020

Neolithic Scotland: the Big Picture and Detailed Narratives in 2020


Rhind Lectures 2020
December 18 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

The Scottish Neolithic clearly fascinated Alexander Henry Rhind and he made important, and very early, contributions to its understanding. In the 170 years since Rhind’s prehistoric exploits, our understanding and perception of this fascinating period in Scotland’s past have been utterly transformed.

This series of six lectures will offer an in-depth assessment of the current state of our knowledge about the period c.4000-2500 BC, when new ways of living and of making sense of the world appeared and developed in Scotland. This involved the active production of food, as opposed to its procurement from wild resources, which had characterised subsistence strategies over the preceding millennia. Globally, the advent of food production with the possibilities it brought for accumulating surpluses has conventionally been hailed as a revolution, with major long-term consequences for the ways societies operated. 

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Thursday, December 10, 2020

Child's Bones Buried 40,000 Years Ago Solve a Longstanding Neanderthal Mystery


We don't know whether it was a boy or a girl. But this ancient child, a Neanderthal, only made it to about two years of age.

This short life, lived about 41,000 years ago, was uncovered at a famous archaeological site in southwestern France, called La Ferrassie. The remains of several Neanderthals have been found there, including the most recent discovery, the child, known only as La Ferrassie 8.

When the ancient remains were first found – most at various stages of the early 20th century – archaeologists had assumed the skeletons represented intentional burials, with Neanderthals laying their departed kin to rest under the earth.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

'Mystery' pit skeleton found during Bishop's Stortford digs

The skull and collarbone of the body had collapsed into the remains of its ribs, while the rest of the body fell into the pit
OXFORD ARCHAEOLOGY EAST

A skeleton discovered leaning against the sides of a pit with its legs outstretched is "a little mystery", an archaeologist has said.

The find was made during an excavation at Whittington Way, Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire, along with Bronze Age and Roman burials.

Project manager Louise Moan said the site had evidently been "a sacred place" for centuries.

The skeleton was one of hundreds of finds from two digs in the town.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Melting ice patch in Norway reveals large collection of ancient arrows

 

An arrow from c. AD 700 as it was found lying on the stones in the scree, close to the melting ice. Credit: Innlandet Fylkeskommune

A team of researchers affiliated with a host of institutions in Norway and one in the U.K., has unveiled their findings after collecting and studying a very large number of ancient arrows they found near a melting ice patch in Norway's Jotunheimen Mountains. In their paper published in the journal The Holocene, the group describes how they kept their research secret to avoid the possibility of others contaminating the site and what they have learned about the arrows thus far.

Back in 2006, archeologist Reidar Marstein found an ancient shoe lying near a melting ice patch (which subsequent recent has shown to have formed approximately around 5600BC) in the Jotunheimen Mountains. The shoe was initially believed to have been from the Viking era, but subsequent study showed it to be approximately 3,300 years old.

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Block excavation of early Celtic tomb near the Heuneburg in southern Germany


The burial chamber can be seen within the bright gravel ring. The burial chamber is filled with humus. The light gravel ring comes from lower altitudes and was excavated by the early Celtic builders when the grave shaft was created [Credit: State Office for Monument Preservation in the Stuttgart Regional Council/Michael Lingnau]

The Heuneburg is a prehistoric hillfort by the river Danube in Hundersingen near Herbertingen, between Ulm and Sigmaringen, Baden-Wurttemberg, in the south of Germany, close to the modern borders with Switzerland and Austria.

Since 2019, the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments (LAD) in the Stuttgart Regional Council has been investigating an early Celtic large burial mound in the Bettelbuhl area in the Danube plain below Heuneburg.

Because it is not possible to uncover the burial on site in a professional manner, the entire burial chamber was recovered en bloc. 

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Study Rewrites History of Ancient Land Bridge Between Britain and Europe

 New research suggests that climate change, not a tsunami, doomed the now-submerged territory of Doggerland


As recently as 20,000 years ago—not long in geological terms—Britain was not, in fact, an island. Instead, the terrain that became the British Isles was linked to mainland Europe by Doggerland, a tract of now-submerged territory where early Mesolithic hunter-gatherers lived, settled and traveled.

Doggerland gradually shrank as rising sea levels flooded the area. Then, around 6150 B.C., disaster struck: The Storegga Slide, a submarine landslide off the coast of Norway, triggered a tsunami in the North Sea, flooding the British coastline and likely killing thousands of humans based in coastal settlements, reports Esther Addley for the Guardian.

Historians have long assumed that this tsunami was the deciding factor that finally separated Britain from mainland Europe. But new archaeological research published in the December issue of Antiquity argues that Doggerland may have actually survived as an archipelago of islands for several more centuries.

Co-author Vincent Gaffney, an archaeologist at the University of Bradford, has spent the past 15 years surveying Doggerland’s underwater remains as part of the Europe’s Lost Frontiers project. Using seismic mapping, computer simulations and other techniques, Gaffney and his colleagues have successfully mapped the territory’s marshes, rivers and other geographical features.

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