Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Unique Bronze Age find just south of Alingsås

Credit: Mats Hellgren

A unique Bronze Age find was made on 8 April in a wooded area just to the south of the town of Alingsås. Following an archaeological examination by among others Johan Ling, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Gothenburg among others, it has emerged that this is one of the most spectacular finds ever made in Sweden. It comprises around 50 artifacts that are all largely intact. These exclusive objects would have belonged to one or more high-status women in the Bronze Age. 

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Thursday, April 29, 2021

Citizen archaeologist discovers ancient ‘logboat’ in the Boyne Valley

Citizen archaeologist Anthony Murphy (pictured) appears to have found another potentially significant discovery in the Boyne Valley - a logboat that could date back to Neolithic times. Photo Ciara Wilkinson

A citizen archaeologist who discovered the world famous ‘Dronehenge’ near Newgrange, county Meath during the heatwave of 2018, appears to have found another potentially significant discovery in the Boyne Valley using a drone - a logboat that could date to Neolithic times.

Anthony Murphy said, “I went looking for a dolphin. I didn’t find him but I did find a logboat.”

Made by hollowing out a tree trunk, such logboats or dugout boats have, according to Dr Stephen Davis, UCD School of Archaeology, “an immensely long history of use in Ireland, with examples known from the Neolithic right the way up to Medieval times.” 

“Closer investigation will be able to show more - for example tool marks would be able to tell whether it was made with metal or stone tools, and radiocarbon dating give an approximate age,” he added.

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'Miracle' cave in South Africa may be the earliest known human dwelling EVER found, 1.8million-year-old stone tools suggest

The team explored layers deep within the ancient cave and were able to successfully establish the shift from Oldowan tools, sharp flakes and chopping tools, to early handaxes (pictured) over one million years ago 

Ancient tools found in a 'miracle' cave in South Africa suggest our earliest ancestors set up camp there more than 1.8 million years ago, according to palaeontologists. 

Experts from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem examined the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa's Kalahari Desert, delving down to ancient layers within the historic site.

Few places in the world preserve a continuous archaeological record spanning millions of years, but this is one such site. Its name means 'miracle' in Afrikaans.

The new study, including work by geologists and archaeologists, confirms the existence of human-made stone tools dating back 1.8 million years. 

This marks it as the earliest cave occupation in the world and the site of some of the earliest indications of fire use and tool making among prehistoric humans. 

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Is This 10,000-Year-Old Carving Europe’s Oldest Known Depiction of a Boat?

Arock carving discovered in Norway may be one of Europe’s earliest examples of art depicting a boat, reports Garry Shaw for the Art Newspaper.

The image, found in Valle, on the Efjorden fjord in Nordland County, appears to be a life-size representation of a boat made from sealskin, writes Jan Magne Gjerde, a scholar at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology.

Based on the height of the surrounding shoreline, which was higher in the Stone Age than it is today, Gjerde dates the art to between 10,000 and 11,000 years ago. That makes it one of the oldest images of a boat in the world. Previously, the oldest known depictions of boats in northern Europe dated to between 7,000 and 7,500 years ago.

The image—a white outline carved into a rock surface—was probably originally about 14 feet long. A portion of the drawing eroded away over time, and it is now only clearly visible under particular weather conditions. A second carving at the site also appears to show a boat, but just a small part of it remains.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Early bronze age tomb uncovered near Marlborough

James Cameron at the site of the tomb in East Kennett (left) and exposed lintel at the tomb (right)

 A rare archeological find has been unearthed on a farm in East Kennett.

Wiltshire archeologists say it is likely to be a 4,500-year-old megalithic tomb.

They have since surveyed the site, and believe there may be several more of them in the same field.

The burial chamber was discovered back in the summer when the Sarsen capstone collapsed and a small sink hole appeared in an arable field.

“For I ages I thought it was just another badger set but when I examined it more closely you can see that it is lined with stones and there is some kind of chamber there,” said farm owner James Cameron.

“It isn’t very big, probably a few metres square and dates from the Bronze Age.” 

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Mesolithic Double Burial Discovered In France

Mesolithic tomb of Casseneuil being cleared
[Credit: Frederic Prodeo, Willford O'yl, Inrap]

The Mesolithic covers a period of 5,000 years, and yet less than fifty burials from this period are known in France. One of them, containing two human remains, has been excavated by a team from Inrap in Casseneuil (a commune in the Lot-et-Garonne department in south-western France) since the beginning of March.

The Casseneuil burial site was discovered in 2008, during a preliminary inspection for the construction of a housing estate. The State (Drac Nouvelle-Aquitaine, regional archaeology service) commissioned the excavation, which is currently underway on a 1500 m² property. The radiocarbon dating recently obtained dates this double burial to around 9000 years before our era, i.e. an early period of the Mesolithic.

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Which Skills Were Valued in Early Neolithic Europe?


YORK, ENGLAND—According to a statement released by the University of York, a recent review of stone tools recovered from early Neolithic cemeteries across Europe suggests that men and women were buried with different sorts of implements, and may have therefore performed different work-related activities during their lifetimes. Archaeologist Penny Bickle said that tools found in women’s graves were used to work animal skins, while men’s tools were associated with hunting and conflict. Bickle suggests the differences in tools reflect the variety of skills needed by members of the community. The presence of the tools in the graves is evidence of the value given to all of the jobs, she added.

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Swan Songs

Courtesy Filip Ondrkál)

Bronze lamp, four views

From 1881 to 1890, in locations including modern Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, a number of very similar bronze bird figurines dating to the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages (ca. 1300–500 B.C.) were unearthed. For more than a century, it remained unclear how these artifacts were used, but their similarity was seen as evidence of shared cultural practices and beliefs across a large swath of Europe at this time. Now, a team studying a recently discovered bronze waterbird, perhaps a swan, from the site of Liptovský Hrádok in northern Slovakia, has determined that the artifact, and likely the other similar examples as well, was originally attached to a small chariot, filled with animal fat or vegetable oil and used as a lamp during burial rituals and ceremonial activities. 

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Little Foot fossil shows early human ancestor clung closely to trees

Little Foot was discovered in the 1990s in a cave in South Africa and is the most intact ancient skeleton of any human ancestor. Credit: Paul John Myburgh

A long-awaited, high-tech analysis of the upper body of famed fossil 'Little Foot' opens a window to a pivotal period when human ancestors diverged from apes, new USC research shows. 

Little Foot's shoulder assembly proved key to interpreting an early branch of the human evolutionary tree. Scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of USC focused on its so-called pectoral girdle, which includes collarbones, shoulder blades and joints.

Although other parts of Little Foot, especially its legs, show humanlike traits for upright walking, the shoulder components are clearly apelike, supporting arms surprisingly well suited for suspending from branches or shimmying up and down trees rather than throwing a projectile or dangling astride the torso like humans.Little Foot was discovered in the 1990s in a cave in South Africa and is the most intact ancient skeleton of any human ancestor. Credit: Paul John Myburgh

A long-awaited, high-tech analysis of the upper body of famed fossil 'Little Foot' opens a window to a pivotal period when human ancestors diverged from apes, new USC research shows. 

Little Foot's shoulder assembly proved key to interpreting an early branch of the human evolutionary tree. Scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of USC focused on its so-called pectoral girdle, which includes collarbones, shoulder blades and joints.

Although other parts of Little Foot, especially its legs, show humanlike traits for upright walking, the shoulder components are clearly apelike, supporting arms surprisingly well suited for suspending from branches or shimmying up and down trees rather than throwing a projectile or dangling astride the torso like humans.

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Sunday, April 18, 2021

“Mixing between modern humans and archaic hominins was a common phenomenon.”

Kutubu island in Papua New Guinea. Different ancient humans encountered each other in this region.Marc Dozier

Around 45,000 years ago, anatomically modern humans expanding into the Pacific region encountered archaic hominins on their journey. It wasn’t long before they started having sex with them. So much sex, that it continued for millennia.

What the humans didn’t know is they were picking up genes that would help them adapt to and survive island living. These genes continue to benefit people living in this region today, new research suggests.

The Pacific region is home to a deep history of early human evolution. However, genomic studies in the region are just emerging, says Etienne Patin, a human population geneticist with Institut Pasteur in France. Patin is the new study’s co-author.

“Today, 95 percent of genomic studies focus on European-descent individuals, while they represent only 16 percent of the human population,” Patin tells Inverse.

His research, published Thursday in the journal Nature, examines whether or not sex between modern humans and other species of humans facilitated the genetic adaption to island environments still observed in some Pacific Islanders today. This population has the highest levels of combined Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestry worldwide, the study suggests.

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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Ancient human migration into Europe revealed via genome analysis

The Bacho Kiro cave in Bulgaria. The research is based on analysis of several ancient human remains – including a whole tooth and bone fragments – found in a cave in Bulgaria last year. Photograph: Nikolay Doychinov/AFP via Getty Images

Genetic sequencing of human remains dating back 45,000 years has revealed a previously unknown migration into Europe and showed intermixing with Neanderthals in that period was more common than previously thought.

The research is based on analysis of several ancient human remains – including a whole tooth and bone fragments – found in a cave in Bulgaria last year.

Genetic sequencing found the remains came from individuals who were more closely linked to present-day populations in east Asia and the Americas than populations in Europe.

“This indicates that they belonged to a modern human migration into Europe that was not previously known from the genetic record,” the research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, said.

It also “provides evidence that there was at least some continuity between the earliest modern humans in Europe and later people in Eurasia”, the study added.

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How new discoveries in west Africa could rewrite pre-history

Archaeology in West Africa could rewrite the textbooks on human evolution.

Our species, Homo sapiens, rose in Africa some 300,000 years ago. The objects that early humans made and used, known as the Middle Stone Age material culture, are found throughout much of Africa and include a vast range of innovations.

Among them are bow and arrow technology, specialized tool forms, the long-distance transport of objects such as marine shells and obsidian, personal ornamentation, the use of pigments, water storage, and art. Although it is possible that other ancestors of modern humans contributed to this material culture in Africa, some of the earliest Middle Stone Age stone tools have been found with the oldest Homo sapiens fossils found so far.

The textbook view is that by around 40,000 years ago, the Middle Stone Age had largely ceased to exist in Africa. This was a milestone in the history of our species: the end of the first and longest lasting culture associated with humanity, and the foundation for all the subsequent innovations and material culture that defines us today.

Despite its central role in human history, we have little understanding of how the Middle Stone Age ended. Such an understanding could tell us how different groups were organized across the landscape, how they may have exchanged ideas and genes, and how these processes shaped the later stages of human evolution.

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The secret world of underwater archaeology


The Cosquer Cave's impressively well-preserved Stone Age paintings were only discovered in 1991. Researchers are always finding new treasures under water.

When the French diving instructor Henri Cosquer discovered in 1985 the access to a flooded cave at a depth of 37 meters (121 feet), during a diving tour in the Mediterranean off the coast of Marseille, he didn't know that it concealed an archaeological sensation.

He and his companions dived down to the entrance of the cave several times over the next few months. But it wasn't until 1991 that he managed to reach the main cave through a tunnel. It would later bear his name.

The narrow, stone-carved space was completely dry, its walls covered with mysterious prehistoric paintings.

The world's only underwater Stone Age cave

The archaeologists and scientists who later examined the cave found that the drawings were approximately 19,000 to 27,000 years old. The paintings mainly showed animals — seals, fish, horses, bison, mountain goats, sea birds — that were surprisingly lifelike.

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Russia Looking To Clone And Resurrect 3,000-Year-Old Ancient Siberian Warriors

PA/Russian Geological Society/vk.com

Russia’s defence minister has revealed his aspirations to clone ancient royal warriors and their horses in a Dolly the sheep-esque project.

Sergei Shoigu greenlit an archaeological dig at the 3,000-year-old Tunnug burial mound in the Valley of the Kings located in Tuva, Siberia, three years ago and apparently wants to clone the nomadic warriors that have been exhumed.

A modern-day shaman was reportedly drafted in to ensure the spirts weren’t angered by the site being dug up.

According to The Siberian Times, the oldest remains to have been discovered so far dates back to the ninth century BC.

At a Russian Geographical Society session on Wednesday, April 14, Shoigu said, ‘Of course, we would like very much to find the organic matter’, referring to the remains of the ancient people and animals.

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Ancient 'untouched' tomb discovered on Dingle Peninsula

The tomb was uncovered in recent days during land improvement works being carried out by a farmer

An ancient tomb, described by archaeologists as "untouched" and "highly unusual" has been discovered on the Dingle Peninsula in Co Kerry.

The tomb was uncovered in recent days during land improvement works being carried out by a farmer.

The National Monument Service has requested that the location of the structure should not be disclosed in order to prevent the possibility of disturbance.

The tomb was uncovered by a digger during land reclamation work when a large stone slab was upturned, revealing a slab-lined chamber beneath.

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Thursday, April 8, 2021

'Exciting' Stone Age discoveries in the Cairngorms

University of Aberdeen students at work to unearth the traces of the stone age inhabitants of the Cairngorms - UPPER DEE TRIBUTARIES PROJECT

New research has uncovered rare evidence of people living in Scotland's mountains after the end of the last Ice Age.

Archaeologists found stone tools and traces of firepits and possible shelters in Deeside in the Cairngorms.

Finds from the Mesolithic period, also known as the Middle Stone Age, are rare and usually made in lowland areas.

Archaeologists describe the evidence in the Cairngorms as "exciting".

The research, published in the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, adds to existing evidence from a handful of other upland sites.

These include on the mountain Ben Lawers in Perthshire and at locations in Lanarkshire and Dumfries.

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Details of prehistoric Galloway heartland discovered during work on A75 go online

The Iron Age structure uncovered by archaeologists during excavtion work on the new A75 bypass at Dunragit.

Details of a prehistoric Galloway heartland hidden for eight millennia have now been published online.

The major prehistoric treasure trove of a number of ancient sites, artefacts and cremated human remains were discovered in the region during the £17million A75 bypass works in 2014.

The “significant” finds were unearthed around Dunragit by GUARD Archaeology Ltd – working on behalf of Transport Scotland – and stretch across the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages.

As well as jewellery and cremation urns, they uncovered the earliest known Mesolithic house in south-west Scotland, Neolithic ceremonial structures, two Bronze Age cemeteries and an Iron Age village – which show the use of the land for both hunting and farming for more than 9,000 years.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Dig reveals 6,000-year-old salt hub in North Yorkshire

Excavations at the archeological site near Loftus in North Yorkshire

Neolithic people were manufacturing salt in Britain almost 6,000 years ago, before the building of Stonehenge and more than two millennia earlier than was first thought, a new archaeological discovery suggests.

Excavations at a site at Street House farm in North Yorkshire have revealed evidence of the earliest salt production site ever found in the UK and one of the first of its kind in western Europe, dating to around 3,800BC.

The finds, uncovered at a coastal hilltop site near Loftus, include a trench containing three hearths, broken shards of neolithic pottery, some still containing salt deposits, shaped stone artefacts and a storage pit – all key evidence of salt processing.

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Analysis of ancient bones reveals Stone Age diet details

Human skull of Mollet III at Serinyà from the ancient excavation.

Fish was not on the menu of the hunter-gatherers of southern Europe 27,000 years ago. Surprisingly, people on the Iberian Peninsula in the Late Gravettian period mostly ate plants and land animals such as rabbits, deer and horses. An international team of researchers has been able to determine this for the first time on the basis of an isotope study of human fossils from the Serinyà caves in Catalonia. The results of the investigation led by Dr. Dorothée Drucker, of the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (SHEP) at the University of Tübingen, and Joaquim Soler, from the Institute of Historical Research at the University of Girona, were published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

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Megaliths With Geometrical Engravings Found In France

Southern view of the megalithic sector under excavation
[Credit: Florent Notier, Inrap]

In 2018, in the commune of Massongy, a team of Inrap archaeologists excavated a small settlement and a vast megalithic complex from the Middle Neolithic period. Since then, laboratory work has revealed a great deal of information that complements the elements already collected in the field, revealing a site of exceptional importance.

The "Chemin des Bels" site is divided into two main zones: one corresponds to the traces of a village dated to the Middle Neolithic, the so-called "Cortaillod" culture; the other to a vast contemporary megalithic complex. The latter seems to be organised according to a very coherent plan with several phases of development. A large number of artefacts were found in the fill around a large recumbent slab 3.4 m long, 1.1 m wide and 1 m high, weighing around 5 tonnes. These objects show that the various stages of occupation of the site were fairly short (one to two centuries maximum).

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Burrowing Bunnies in Wales Unearth Trove of Prehistoric Artifacts

The site of the rabbit burrow has apparently been occupied by different groups over the millennia. (Richard Brown and Giselle Eagle / WTSWW)

Scholars studying prehistoric life in Wales recently got an assist from an unexpected source. As Steven Morris reports for the Guardian, rabbits making a burrow on Skokholm Island, two miles off the coast of the southwest county of Pembrokeshire, dug up two Stone Age tools, as well as early Bronze Age pottery shards.

Richard Brown and Giselle Eagle, seabird experts who serve as wardens of the otherwise uninhabited island, spotted the objects and sent photographs of them to archaeological researchers. Looking at an image of one of the artifacts, Andrew David, an expert in prehistoric tools, identified it as a 6,000- to 9,000-year-old Mesolithic beveled pebble that was likely used to make seal skin–clad boats or prepare shellfish.

“Although these types of tools are well known on coastal sites on mainland Pembrokeshire and Cornwall, as well into Scotland and northern France, this is the first example from Skokholm, and the first firm evidence for Late Mesolithic occupation on the island,” says David in a statement.

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Iron Age warrior discovered at 'Scandinavia's answer to Sutton Hoo' was buried in a boat alongside a beheaded OWL and a down duvet 'to ease the journey to the realm of the dead'


Two 7th century warriors at an ancient burial ground in Sweden were laid to rest with comfy bedding stuffed with feathers from a variety of birds, research shows. 

New microscopic analysis of the bedding shows traces of feathers from local geese, ducks, grouse, crows, sparrows, waders and even eagle owls. 

The warriors were also buried in their boats with richly adorned helmets, shields and weapons and even gaming pieces, which, along with the several layers of bedding, would have eased the journey 'to the realm of the dead', according to researchers. 

Bizarrely, in one grave, an Eurasian eagle owl (Bubo bubo) had been laid with its head cut off – and the experts aren't entirely sure why. 

The graves are two of 15 that were uncovered and excavated by archaeologists in the 1920s in Valsgärde outside Uppsala in central Sweden.

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Early stone technologies found to be much older than researchers thought

Tools made of stone show the migratory patterns of early humans
(photo credit: EMIL ELJEM/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

Researchers from Kent’s School of Anthropology and Conservation have found that prehistoric Oldowan and Acheulean stone tool technologies are tens of thousands of years older than previously thought, according to a new study. 

The new study, which was published in the Journal of Human Evolution, claims that Oldowan stone tools were developed some 2.617-2.644 million years ago, 36,000 to 63,000 years prior , while Acheulean stone tools date, developed 1.815-1.823 million years ago, were made 55,000 years earlier to what existing evidence suggests.

This discovery was based on a statistical modelling method newly used in archaeology, and provides greater insight into the chronology of human evolution, in addition to their dietary habits and behavior. Oldowan and Acheulea stone technologies helped early humans gain access to new foods, along with preparing animal carcasses.

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Monday, March 22, 2021

Archaeologists shell-shocked by Iron Age party

The Cairns site, at South Ronaldsay.
Supplied by Martin Carruthers, Lecturer in Archaeology at the Archaeology Institute of the University of the Highlands and Islands in Orkney

As celebratory feasts go, the menu choices do seem to have been rather limited. 

However, new research into an Orkney Iron Age site suggests it was the scene of a massive prehistoric party, which saw the guests tuck into an astonishing amount of limpets and periwinkles. 

More than 18,600 shells were found in a pit at The Cairns site, at South Ronaldsay. 

Now radiocarbon dating technology has shown the pit was used in the fifth or sixth century AD, apparently to cook the shellfish before they were handed out to hungry guests. The shells – all 18,637 of them - were then put carefully back into the pit, perhaps as cooks and guests tidied up after their get-together.

Experts believe the shellfish supper was a single event, presumably attracting a high number of invitees with a hearty appetite for limpets and periwinkles.

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The Ancient Diolkos Of Corinth Undergoing Restoration


The Ancient Diolkos of Corinth, one of the greatest technical works of antiquity, is being restored. Over the last year, the Corinth Ephorate of Antiquities is conducting works of enhancement and protection on the ancient stone paved road on which ships were transported overland from the Corinthian Gulf to the Saronic Gulf and vice versa. Once completed and when allowed by the pandemic situation, the iconic monument will be ready to welcome the general public through on-site tours being planned.

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Gesellschaften im Gleichgewicht

Steinmonumente geben Aufschluss über Sozialstrukturen

Monumente aus Steinen, die von Archäologinnen und Archäologen auch als Megalithen oder Steinsetzungen bezeichnet werden, sind ein in vielen prähistorischen und historischen Perioden und Kulturen verbreitetes Phänomen. Sie begeistern die Öffentlichkeit und Fachleute gleichermaßen, werfen aber auch viele Fragen hinsichtlich ihrer Bedeutung innerhalb der prähistorischen Gesellschaften auf. Die archäologische Forschung geht häufig davon aus, dass die Errichtung der Monumente mit bestimmten sozialen Strukturen verbunden war. Mit der Identifizierung der sozialen Bedeutung der steinernen Monumente in Nordindien befasste sich ein ethnoarchäologisches Forschungsprojekt des Sonderforschungsbereichs (SFB) 1266 "TransformationsDimensionen" an der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU). Die erlangten Forschungsergebnisse werfen ein neues Licht auf die Interpretation der Steinmonumente und wurden kürzlich veröffentlicht.

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BAD OMEN World’s 1st cities COLLAPSED due to overpopulation and climate change 4,000 years ago, research shows

The ancient people of Mesopotamia built the world's first cities Credit: Alamy

The cities, now buried in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon in the ancient region of Mesopotamia, were also struck by plummeting temperatures.

Their inhabitants, an advanced people known as the Mesopotamians, were forced to either abandon their homes or starve to death, researchers write in the journal PLOS One.

Previous studies into the cities, which collapsed around 2100BC, have hinted that a well-documented change in climate was entirely to blame for their downfall.

Dan Lawrence, lead author of the new study and an associate professor in near-Eastern archaeology at Durham University, says otherwise.

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Sunday, March 21, 2021

Greek bull figurine unearthed after heavy downpour

The small bull statuette is believed to have been offered to the god Zeus during a sacrifice
REUTERS

A bronze figurine of a bull believed to be at least 2,500 years old has been unearthed in Greece following heavy rain near the ancient site of Olympia.

Burn marks on the statuette suggest it may have been one of thousands of offerings to the Greek god Zeus.

The discovery of the small, intact item was made by archaeologists near a temple, Greece's culture ministry said.

An archaeologist spotted one of the bull's horns sticking out of the mud after a downpour, it added.

The item was immediately transferred to a laboratory for examination.

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Experts Say First Pre-Human Lived in Northern Greece-Balkan Area

7.2 million-year-old tooth from “Graecopithecus,” found in Azmaka, Bulgaria. Credit: Jochen Fuss, Nikolai Spassov, David R. Begun, Madelaine Böhme/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

Researchers have found evidence that the link in the lineage of the great apes and humans took place in the Eastern Mediterranean — not in Africa — and that the first pre-human, or hominin, walked in the Northern Greece-Balkans area, according to research published in the scientific journal PLoS One and ScienceDaily.

Up until the time researchers made the discovery, in 2017, scientists had assumed that the lineages diverged five to seven million years ago and that the first pre-humans developed in Africa.

However, an international research team from Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, Canada, France and Australia, headed by Professor Madelaine Bohme from the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tubingen and Professor Nikolai Spassov from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, believe that human history began a few centuries earlier — and in the general area of the Balkans

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Saturday, March 13, 2021

Scientists Have Unlocked the Secrets of the Ancient 'Antikythera Mechanism'

IMAGE: WIKIMEDIA (LEFT), © 2020 TONY FREETH (RIGHT)

A digital model has revealed a complex planetarium on the ancient device's face. “Unless it's from outer space, we have to find a way in which the Greeks could have made it,” researchers say.

In the early 1900s, divers hunting for sponges off the coast of Antikythera, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, discovered a Roman-era shipwreck that contained an artifact destined to dramatically alter our understanding of the ancient world.

Known as the Antikythera Mechanism, the object is a highly sophisticated astronomical calculator that dates back more than 2,000 years. Since its recovery from the shipwreck in 1901, generations of researchers have marveled over its stunning complexity and inscrutable workings, earning it a reputation as the world’s first known analog computer.

The device’s gears and displays cumulatively demonstrated the motions of the planets and the Sun, the phases of the lunar calendar, the position of Zodiac constellations, and even the timing of athletic events such as the ancient Olympic Games. The device also reflects a very ancient idea of the cosmos, with Earth at the center.

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Ancient Greek Antikythera Mechanism recreated by scientists

New model reveals display of 2,000 year-old mechanical device used by the ancient Greeks to predict astronomical events (Tony Freeth/UCL/PA)

An ancient Greek hand-powered mechanical device for predicting astronomical events has been recreated, offering a fresh understanding of how it worked.

The 2,000-year-old Antikythera Mechanism is considered the world’s first analogue computer, used to forecast positions of the sun, moon and the planets, as well as lunar and solar eclipses.

It was first discovered in a Roman-era shipwreck in 1901 by Greek sponge divers near the Mediterranean island of Antikythera.

Only 82 fragments have survived – about a third of the entire astronomical calculator – leaving researchers baffled about its true form and capabilities

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Thursday, March 11, 2021

Prehistoric Tombs Discovered in Southern Poland


KRAKOW, POLAND—According to a report in The First News, a megalithic cemetery has been discovered by archaeologist Jan Bulas, who first spotted the outlines of an early medieval ditch in satellite images of a cultivated field in southeastern Poland. He and colleague Marcin M. Przybyła then mapped the field with magnetometers and discovered a row of megalithic barrows dating to some 5,500 years ago. They think the site could contain traces of as many as 12 stone-lined tombs measuring between 130 and 165 feet long.

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These Bronze Age women were more powerful than we thought

The Almoloya archaeological site is in southeastern Spain.

Archaeologists working at an ancient complex in southeastern Spain say women probably held political power in the Bronze Age society that ruled the area 4,000 years ago -- a sharp contrast with earlier views of the civilization.

Researchers said women of the ruling class may have been important in governing the El Argar society, the Research Group in Mediterranean Social Archaeoecology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona said in a news release published Thursday.

The team analyzed grave goods found in a princely tomb in the La Almoloya site, in what is now Murcia.
The tomb, known as Grave 38, contained the remains of two individuals -- a man between the ages of 35 and 40 and a woman between 25 and 30 -- alongside around 30 valuable items, many of which were made from silver.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Pottery Residues Offer Clues to Malta’s Prehistoric Menu


(Courtesy Davide Tanasi)

RABAT, MALTA—The Times of Malta reports that researchers led by Davide Tanasi of the University of South Florida analyzed residues and traces of proteins found in pottery dated to between 2500 and 700 B.C. at Il-Qlejgha tal-Bahrija, a prehistoric site in Malta’s Northern Region. The study suggests that the residents of Il-Qlejgha tal-Bahrija consumed a porridge made of cow’s milk and cereals such as wheat and barley. Traces of grains were also found in large storage jars similar to those found in Sicily.

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Hominid Footprints on Crete Could Change Evolutionary Theory For Good

Hominid footprints in the stone of Crete could change evolutionary theory altogether. Credit: The Conversation.

He was not looking for hominid footprints from the prehistoric past. Paleontologist Gerhard Gierlinski, from Warsaw, Poland, was just trying to get away from it all in the summer of 2002 and enjoy the warm seas and soft sands on the Greek island of Crete with his girlfriend.
A researcher at the Polish Geological Institute, he was always ready to take samples of interesting things he spied on vacations, and he traveled with a hammer, a camera and a GPS for just such occasions.

What he discovered along the Mediterranean shores of the town of Trachilos would rock his world and send some researchers who were convinced that humans evolved solely in Africa, into angry denial, resulting in many of them casting aspersions on his jaw-dropping find.

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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Rare Bronze Age spearhead discovered intact in Jersey

The piece was dated from the remains of the wood shaft it was attached to
JERSEY HERITAGE

A rare and complete metal spearhead dating back thousands of years to the Bronze Age has gone on display in Jersey after being found on the island.

It was discovered on the beach at Gorey by a metal detectorist in August.

Carbon dating on the remains of the wood shaft it was attached to confirmed it was from between 1207BC and 1004BC, Jersey Heritage said.

The "really exciting find" was also "thought to be unique to the Channel Islands and a rare find", it added.

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The World’s Oldest Woman Doesn’t Look Like You’ve Been Told


Almost 50 years ago, on a Sunday morning in late November 1974, a team of archaeologists in Ethiopia unearthed a 3 million-year-old skeleton of an ancient early human. The remains would turn out to be one of the most important fossils ever discovered. That night Donald Johanson, the paleoanthropologist who discovered the fossilized remains, played a cassette tape of the Beatles and as the group listened to the sound of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” reverberate through the campsite a colleague suggested that he name the female hominin Lucy. She represented a new species—Australopithecus afarensis—and a visit to almost any major natural history museum in the world will give you the opportunity to see an artist’s rendition of how she appeared in her own time.

Visit more than one natural history museum or flip through a handful of scientific textbooks, however, and you’ll quickly notice how much disagreement there is about Lucy’s physical appearance. No one can agree on what Lucy or “AL 288-1” looked like. Why is that? In a new article on “Visual Depictions of Our Evolutionary Past,” published this week in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, a team of scientists from the University of Adelaide, Arizona State, the University of Zurich, and Howard University set out to discover why this is and to compile their own, scientifically grounded, reconstruction.

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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Moustache on Wimpole Estate statue linked to '1st Century trends'

It is believed the figure could represent Cernunnos, the Celtic god of fertility
NATIONAL TRUST/OXFORD ACHAEOLOGY

A tiny statue's moustache and haircut could be evidence of popular fashion trends from the 1st Century, an archaeologist has said.

The 5cm (2in) figure of a Celtic deity was discovered at the National Trust's Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire.

Work in 2018 revealed a late Iron Age to early Roman rural settlement, and artefacts discovered there have since been subject to further analysis.

The "remarkable" detail was revealed when the figurine was cleaned.

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Reversal of Earth's magnetic poles may have triggered Neanderthal extinction -- and it could happen again

During this time, Earth's inhabitants would have been subjected to some dazzling displays -- northern and southern lights, caused by solar winds hitting the Earth's atmosphere, would have been frequent.

The reversal of Earth's magnetic poles, along with a temporary breakdown of the world's magnetic field about 42,000 years ago, could have triggered a raft of environmental changes, solar storms and the extinction of the Neanderthals, according to a new study.

The Earth's magnetic field protects us, acting as a shield against the solar wind (a stream of charged particles and radiation) that flows out from the sun. But the geomagnetic field is not stable in strength and direction, and it has the ability to flip or reverse itself.

Some 42,000 years ago, in an event known as the Laschamp Excursion, the poles did just that for around 800 years, before swapping back -- but scientists were unsure exactly how or if it impacted the world. 

Now, a team of researchers from Sydney's University of New South Wales and the South Australian Museum say the flip, along with changing solar winds, could have triggered an array of dramatic climate shifts leading to environmental change and mass extinctions.

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Zombie infection threat as country unlocks 50,000-year-old viruses

Russia is seeking to unlock unknown prehistoric viruses up to 50,000-years-old by extracting biological material from carcasses of ancient animals frozen in permafrost.
Source: Siberian Times/Australscope

Russia is seeking to unlock unknown prehistoric viruses up to 50,000-years-old by extracting biological material from carcasses of ancient animals frozen in permafrost.

Scientists from the Kremlin’s equivalent of Porton Down are this week taking samples from a collection of beasts preserved in ice which have been found in recent years.

They are working with the remains of extinct woolly mammoths and hairy rhinos, as well as prehistoric dogs, horses, elk, rodents and hares.

The oldest animal is believed to be a 50,000-year-old lemming.

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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Hundreds of stone age tools found on Denbighshire housing site

An archaeological dig was carried out before building could begin JEZ HEMMING

An archaeological dig at a site earmarked for housing has uncovered more than 300 stone age tools and artefacts.

The 9,000-year-old site, on Castle Hill, Rhuddlan, Denbighshire, is "on a par with the oldest proven Mesolithic site" in Wales, archaeologists say.

The site was a target for developers for about a decade and planning consent was granted for a house in 2017.

But the need for an archaeological dig was agreed before building could begin.

The site yielded a total of 314 stone artefacts. Experts believe it was a sandy ridge overlooking the flood-plain of the River Clwyd.

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Long-Lost Neanderthal Tooth Reveals a Surprising Unknown Link to Modern Humans

(Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London/Blinkhorn, et al., 2021)

In 1928, the renowned British archaeologist, Dorothy Garrod, excavated the Shukbah Cave in the hills of Palestine, just north of Jerusalem.

This was some of her earliest work in a long and successful career, revealing a rich collection of ancient stone tools, animal bones, and a single fossilised tooth - what looked like a large human molar.

For fifty years the discovery was lost in the private collection of a collaborator, unrecognised and neglected. Then, at the turn of the century, the long-lost tooth landed in the laps of researchers at the British Museum of Natural History.

Looking closely at the large molar, researchers realised it was probably from a young Neanderthal, possibly between the ages of 7 and 12.

To date, the Shukbah tooth is the southernmost example of the Neanderthal range in Arabia.

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Sunday, February 14, 2021

Have archaeologists found another Skara Brae on Orkney?

Skara Brae on Orkney. People lived at the Neolithic settlement from around 3,250 BC.

Archaeologists may have discovered another Skara Brae around half a mile from the world-famous Neolithic village.

Skara Brae is considered the best preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe with people first making their home there around 3,100BC.

It was discovered in 1850 when a storm exposed part of the coastal site. Now, almost 170 years later, coastal erosion may have uncovered its neighbour.

A section of badly damaged wall has been exposed by the work of the pounding tides at the north end of the Bay of Skaill.

Deer antlers, a boar tooth, a cattle jawbone and a large decorated stone have also been discovered.

Sigurd Towrie, spokesman for the Archaeology Institute at University of Highlands and Islands, said the finds “suggest there is another settlement at the Bay of Skaill – one that, from previous environmental sampling, is likely to be 4,000 to 5,000 years old”.

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Dramatic discovery links Stonehenge to its original site – in Wales

 Prof Alice Roberts in front of Stonehenge for a BBC Two documentary: The Lost Circle Revealed to be screened on Friday. Photograph: Barney Rowe/BBC/PA 

Find backs theory that bluestones first stood at Waun Mawn before being dragged 140 miles to Wiltshire

An ancient myth about Stonehenge, first recorded 900 years ago, tells of the wizard Merlin leading men to Ireland to capture a magical stone circle called the Giants’ Dance and rebuilding it in England as a memorial to the dead.

Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account had been dismissed, partly because he was wrong on other historical facts, although the bluestones of the monument came from a region of Wales that was considered Irish territory in his day.

Now a vast stone circle created by our Neolithic ancestors has been discovered in Wales with features suggesting that the 12th-century legend may not be complete fantasy.

Its diameter of 110 metres is identical to the ditch that encloses Stonehenge and it is aligned on the midsummer solstice sunrise, just like the Wiltshire monument.

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Ancient stone circle discovered in Wales could have been dismantled and rebuilt as Stonehenge

Archaeologists believe the stone circle could have been dismantled and rebuilt / PA

Archaeologists made an “astonishing breakthrough” with the discovery of the remains of an ancient stone in Wales which they believe could have been dismantled and rebuilt as Stonehenge.

Experts believe that “they may have recovered the true origins” of the ancient monument in the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire.

It is the same area where the smaller “bluestones” found at Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, are known to have come from.

The stone circle, named Waun Mawn, has key elements linking it to Stonehenge, said the team behind the discovery which was made during filming for a BBC programme.

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The Origin of Modern Humans Cannot Be Traced to Any One Single Point in Time or Space

From left to right, the skulls of Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens. (NHM)

Homo sapiens today look very different from our evolutionary origins, the microbes wriggling about in the primordial mud. But our emergence as a distinct species cannot, based on the current evidence, be conclusively traced to a single location at any single point in time.

In fact, according to a team of scientists, who have conducted a thorough review of our current understanding of human ancestry, there may never even have been such a time. Instead, the earliest known appearances of Homo sapiens traits and behaviours are consistent with a range of evolutionary histories.

We simply don't have a large enough fossil record to definitively rule on a specific time and place in which modern humans emerged.

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Saturday, February 13, 2021

Researchers suggest Stonehenge’s first stone circle was transplanted from Welsh hillside

Waun Mawn during excavation in 2018, viewed from the north. The stone circle sits on the side of a hill, with distant views of Ireland to the west and the mountains of Snowdonia to the north (A. Stanford).

Professor Colin Richards, of the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, is co-author of a new paper proposing that a stone circle in Wales was the source of the first megaliths erected at the site of Stonehenge.

Previously, the Stones of Stonehenge research project confirmed the Wiltshire monument’s bluestones came from quarry sites in the Preseli Hills in Wales. This prompted the reinvestigation the nearby Waun Mawn stone circle to see whether it also shared links with Stonehenge.

The results, published in the journal Antiquity today, suggest the Welsh stone circle was partially dismantled in prehistory and moved 280km (175 miles) to Salisbury Plain, where it was rebuilt to form the first of Stonehenge’s five distinct phases.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Evidence St Kilda was inhabited 2,000 years ago

Getty Images


Glasgow-based Guard Archaeology carried out the archaeological excavations between 2017 and 2019.

The work was done ahead of a refurbishment of the MoD's base in Village Bay on Hirta.

Analysis of the finds made by the archaeologists have now been made public.

Radiocarbon dating of carbonised food remains stuck to sherds of pottery indicated "intensive inhabitation" of Village Bay between the early part of the 4th Century BC to almost the end of the 1st Century BC.

The majority of the pottery dated from the Iron Age.

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Sunday, February 7, 2021

What Did The Swiss Eat During The Bronze Age?

Tolochenaz – La Caroline (canton of Vaud). Late Bronze Age burial. Photograph taken
during excavation of tomb 1061 [Credit: © Archeodunum SA]

The Bronze Age (2200 to 800 BC) marked a decisive step in the technological and economic development of ancient societies. People living at the time faced a series of challenges: changes in the climate, the opening up of trade and a degree of population growth. How did they respond to changes in their diet, especially in Western Switzerland? A team from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, and Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) in Spain has for the first time carried out isotopic analyses on human and animal skeletons together with plant remains. 

The scientists discovered that manure use had become widespread over time to improve crop harvests in response to demographic growth. The researchers also found that there had been a radical change in dietary habits following the introduction of new cereals, such as millet. In fact, the spread of millet reflected the need to embrace new crops following the drought that ravaged Europe during this period. Finally, the team showed that the resources consumed were mainly terrestrial. The research results are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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