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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

Early stone technologies found to be much older than researchers thought

Tools made of stone show the migratory patterns of early humans

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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

Read the rest of this article...

Saturday, March 13, 2021

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


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.

Read the rest of this article...

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

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...