Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Stonehenge ‘risks losing world heritage status because of road project’

Stonehenge faces the risk of being “de-listed” as a Unesco world heritage site if plans for a nearby road project featuring a tunnel go ahead, the High Court has been told. Campaigners, who are bringing a second legal bid to block the plans, claim the Government was “irrational to give no weight” to the UN agency warning that approval of the £1.7 billion scheme warranted its inclusion on the “list of world heritage in danger”.

Lawyers for Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS) say this would mark “the first step being taken towards de-listing” and would be “the direct result” of the Government’s decision. SSWHS is challenging Transport Secretary Mark Harper’s backing of plans, which include the two-mile tunnel, to overhaul eight miles of the A303.

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Environmental stress rather than genetics influenced height differences in early Neolithic people: Study

Migrations of early farmers into Europe.
Credit: Nature Human Behaviour (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-023-01756-w

The difference in height between female and male individuals in northern Europe during the Early Neolithic (8,000–6,000 years before present, bp) may have been influenced by cultural factors, a paper published in Nature Human Behaviour suggests. The findings indicate that height differences during this period cannot be explained by genetic and dietary factors alone.

Culture and health are linked in the modern world; however, how this relationship evolved is unclear. Height is one indicator of health and being of a shorter height than expected based on genetics may indicate adverse environmental and/or dietary factors. Previous research has suggested that humans in the Neolithic did not reach their genetic height potential, but how this differed between regions and between sexes is unknown.

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Monday, December 11, 2023

Who Were the First Modern Humans To Settle in Europe? Scientists Shed New Light

A new study examines the early migration of humans to Europe, focusing on a study of 36,000-year-old skull fragments from Crimea. These findings connect these early settlers to the Gravettian culture, demonstrating their significant role in shaping early European civilization.

Before the permanent settlement of modern humans in Europe, other human populations migrated from Africa to Europe around 60,000 years ago. However, they did not establish long-term settlements. Around 40,000 years ago, a significant climate crisis, along with a super-eruption from the Phlegraean Fields volcanic region near present-day Naples, led to a decrease in the early European populations.

Discovering Europe’s First Modern Human Settlers

To determine who the first modern humans to settle definitively in Europe were, a team led by CNRS scientists analyzed the genome of two skull fragments from the Buran Kaya III site in Crimea dating to 36,000 and 37,000 years ago.

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'Beautifully made' Bronze Age gold torc fragment found at Erpingham

A tiny, twisted fragment of a gold torc made thousands of years ago has been uncovered by a metal detectorist.

The "beautifully made" Bronze Age piece was made from a twisted gold rod just 0.09in (2.4mm) thick and had been bent into an 0.43in (11mm) loop.

The piece was found in a field near Erpingham, Norfolk, in September and dates to between 1400-1100BC.

It could have been intended for reuse, or as "a neat little offering to the gods", said historian Helen Geake.

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Friday, December 8, 2023

Ancient finds at Wisley interchange

Archaeologists have been having a field day on Balfour Beatty’s £317m M25 junction improvement project in Surrey.

For more than a year now Balfour Beatty has been working with Oxford Archaeology, casing the site of its new junction 10 on the M25 at Wisley, where it intersects with the A3.

Remains discovered include a late Bronze Age / early Iron Age settlement believed to date from around 1,000 to 500 BC and evidence of post-medieval agricultural practices.

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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Humanity’s oldest art is flaking away. Can scientists save it?

Ancient humans painted scenes in Indonesian caves more than 45,000 years ago, but their art is disappearing rapidly. Researchers are trying to discover what’s causing the damage and how to stop it — before the murals are gone forever.

On the southwestern peninsula of Sulawesi in Indonesia, a vast series of karst mountains rise like great knobby boulders from the flat floodplain. Beneath the lush tropical vegetation that blankets the spires, there are hundreds of caves, crevices and rock shelters — carved over millennia by water seeping through the porous limestone. For tens of thousands of years, these eroded cavities provided shelter for the region’s ancient residents, who left behind a pictorial record of their time there. On the walls, archaeologists have found painted hand stencils, stick-figure people and ochre-coloured depictions of warty pigs and miniature buffalo.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Take a Virtual Tour of the Lascaux Cave Paintings

The Lascaux Caves enjoyed a quiet existence for some 17,000 years.

Then came the summer of 1940, when four teens investigated what seemed to be a fox’s den on a hill near Montignac, hoping it might lead to an underground passageway of local legend.

Once inside, they discovered the paintings that have intrigued us ever since, expanding our understanding of prehistoric art and human origins, and causing us to speculate on things we’ll never have an answer to.

The boys’ teacher reached out to several prehistorians, who authenticated the figures, arranged for them to be photographed and sketched, and collected a number of bone and flint artifacts from the caves’ floors.

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Closer look at the Menga dolmen shows it was one of the greatest engineering feats of the Neolithic

The capstone C-5 in Cerro de la Cruz Quarry #2. Drawing: Moisés Bellilty under guidance of José Antonio Lozano Rodríguez and Leonardo García Sanjuán. 

A team of archaeologists, geologists and historians affiliated with several institutions in Spain has found that the Menga dolmen represents one of the greatest engineering feats of the Neolithic. In their study, published in Scientific Reports, the group used new technology to learn more about the stone that was used to create the ancient burial site and to explore how wood and rope would have been used in its construction.

The Menga dolmen is an ancient burial mound located near Antequera, Málaga, Spain. It has been dated to approximately 5,700 years ago and is one of the largest known megalithic structures to be built in Europe. It was built into the top of a hill using large stones, the largest of which weigh more than 100 tons. In this new effort, the research team took a closer look at the composition of the stones used to build the burial mound, where they came from and how they were transported.

To learn more about the makeup of the stones, the research team used petrographic and stratigraphic analysis techniques, which showed that the stones were mostly calcarenites, a type of detrital sedimentary rock. In the modern age, they are known as soft stones due to their fragility. According to the researchers, such a soft type of rock would have been difficult to transport without causing damage—a finding that suggests a certain level of engineering sophistication.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

This 3,000-Year-Old Stone Slab Found in Spain Is Upending Ideas About Ancient Gender Roles

Archaeologists have uncovered an unusual stone slab during excavations at Las Capellanías, a 3,000-year-old funerary complex in southern Spain.

Found alongside cremated human remains, the slab—also known as a stela—depicts an individual wearing a headdress and necklace, two items researchers typically associate with women. The figure also has two swords, which are often associated with men, as well as male genitalia.

The newly discovered stela is challenging historians’ understanding of gender roles in Iberian society.

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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Forty slaughtered horses mark site of ancient mass sacrifices

Remains of horses and also some cattle bore evidence of ceremonial killings.
Credit: Construyendo Tarteso 2.0

Mass animal sacrifice is sometimes mentioned in ancient Mediterranean literature, such as Homer’s Odyssey, but archaeological evidence of the practice is rare.

María Pilar Iborra Eres at the Valencia Institute of Conservation, Restoration and Research in Spain and her colleagues studied 6,770 bones found at the Iron Age site of Casas del Turuñuelo in southwest Spain1. They found that the bones were buried in three phases in the late fifth century BC and came from animals including 6 cattle and around 40 horses.

Some horses were deposited in pairs. The researchers also found evidence of burnt plant offerings and objects associated with spiritual activities, such as sheep knucklebones used for divination. Together, the artefacts suggest that the animals died as part of ritual sacrifices.

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3,000-Year-Old Bronze Age Arrow is Discovered at Melting Ice in Norway

he arrow has a quartzite arrowhead on a birch shaft. (Photo: Espen Finstad/Secrets of the Ice)

Climate change is impacting temperatures around the world. Collapsing ice shelfs and melting glaciers regularly make the news as indicia of a warming planet and shifting ecosystems. The receding of the planet's ice is also exposing remnants of the past which have lain preserved under cold temperatures for hundreds, even thousands, of years. The glaciers of Norway have yielded particularly interesting finds from past inhabitants of the region. In the Jotunheimen Mountains, archeological group Secrets of the Ice recently discovered an exciting Bronze Age arrow, complete with shaft, quartzite arrowhead, and even several fletching feathers.

The arrow was discovered on one of the group's regular patrols over regions where they know warming temperatures are melting ice. If an ancient item is missed, it may be destroyed by the elements once the ice that formerly sheltered it is melted. Luckily, the Bronze Age arrow, dating to about 3,000 years ago, was discovered in time. It has a birch wood shaft and three feathers at the tail, which are the fletchings which help arrows fly. Such delicate materials have been frozen preserved under the ice since they were dropped millennia ago.

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Momentous Discovery Shows Neanderthals Could Produce Human-Like Speech

La Chapelle-aux-Saints 1, one of the Neanderthal skulls scanned for the study. (Eunostos/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Our Neanderthal cousins had the capacity to both hear and produce the speech sounds of modern humans, a study published in 2021 found.

Based on a detailed analysis and digital reconstruction of the structure of the bones in their skulls, the study settled one aspect of a decades-long debate over the linguistic capabilities of Neanderthals.

"This is one of the most important studies I have been involved in during my career," said palaeoanthropologist Rolf Quam of Binghamton University back in 2021.

"The results are solid and clearly show the Neanderthals had the capacity to perceive and produce human speech. This is one of the very few current, ongoing research lines relying on fossil evidence to study the evolution of language, a notoriously tricky subject in anthropology."

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Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Newly discovered underwater temple of Aphrodite leaves everyone in wonder and awe

Cover Image Source: Facebook | Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

History never ceases to amaze us and there is much out there that is still unknown. There were several generations that lived before us and many are yet to come into existence. So, when archaeologists and other experts discover something new about the old, it’s always a fascinating journey of understanding what really went down there. In 2000, French archaeologist and head of the European Institute of Maritime Archaeology, Franck Goddio, led a team that successfully located the ancient city of Thonis-Heracleion, which was Egypt’s only port on the Mediterranean coast about 2,500 years ago.

According to Franck Goddio’s official website, it was the only port that served as the entry point for all ships that were coming in from the Greek empire. However, in the eighth century, an earthquake struck the area and the region completely collapsed and disappeared into the sea. What followed was the erasure of Thonis-Heracleion’s mention, except for in ancient texts and rare archaeological finds.

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Thursday, November 9, 2023

Neolithic Mass Grave May Offer Evidence of Large-Scale Warfare

(Fernández-Crespo et al. 2023, Scientific Reports)

VALLADOLID, SPAIN—According to a statement released by the Nature Publishing Group, a team of researchers led by Teresa Fernández-Crespo of the University of Valladolid and her colleagues examined the remains of 338 individuals recovered from a mass grave in northern Spain. The bones were radiocarbon dated to between 5,400 and 5,000 years ago. More than 50 flint arrowheads were also recovered from the pit. A previous study determined that more than 30 of these points bore minor damage associated with hitting a target, while the new analysis of the bones determined that more than 20 percent of the individuals had skeletal injuries, and about 10 percent of them had unhealed injuries.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Massive Nordic Bronze Age Meeting Age Hall Discovered In Germany

The ancient hall was discovered during excavations of the area surrounding the “King’s Grave” in Seddin, northwest of Berlin.

Archaeologists have unearthed a massive Bronze Age building believed to be the meeting hall of the legendary King Hinz, who was purportedly buried in a golden coffin.

The discovery was made not far from a burial mound known as the “King’s Grave,” which some say is the place where King Hinz was buried. The mound itself was first discovered in 1899 and is widely regarded as the single most significant 9th-century burial site in northern Central Europe.

Excavations around the burial mound began in the spring of 2023 — a collaborative effort between the Brandenburg State Office for Monument Preservation and a team of archaeologists from the Georg-August University of Göttingen.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Meet Denny, The Only Human Hybrid Remains Ever Unearthed

A few finger bone fragments are all that is left of Denny.
Image credit: Brown et al., Scientific Reports, 2016 (CC BY 4.0)

The bones of “Denny” are the only known physical remains of a first-generation human hybrid, born as a result of a Neanderthal breeding with a Denisovan. As exceptional as her remains might be, a deep dive into the genome of modern-day Homo sapiens shows there were once plenty more hominin hybrid individuals around.

The finger bones were unearthed in 2012 within the Denisova Cave, a cave in the Altai mountains of Siberia that has yielded an immense amount of remains belonging to Denisovans, Neanderthals, and Homo sapiens. Estimated to be around 90,000 years old, the researchers named the remains "Denisova 11", or Denny for short. 

As reported in the journal Nature in August 2018, scientists carried out a DNA analysis of the bone and revealed it was even more fascinating than they initially realized: it belonged to a teenage female who had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father. 

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Monday, October 23, 2023

Scientists reveal the cause of Earth's last ice age

At the beginning of the last ice, local mountain glaciers grew and formed large ice sheets, like the one seen here. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)

For quite some time, paleo-climate specialists have been perplexed by two enigmas: What was the origin of the ice sheets that defined the final ice age, and how could they expand so rapidly?

Fresh research conducted by University of Arizona's experts suggests a plausible explanation for the swift expansion of the ice sheets that coated a considerable portion of the Northern Hemisphere during the last ice age. Furthermore, the study's findings may be applicable to other glacial periods in the Earth's past.

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‘A Neolithic feat of engineering’: Orkney dig reveals ruins of huge tomb

Fourteen skeletons were found in one of six rooms surrounding the main chambeer at the site. Photograph: National Museums Scotland

‘A Neolithic feat of engineering’: Orkney dig reveals ruins of huge tomb
Clues unearthed more than 100 years ago inspired archeologists to locate the 5,000-year-old site

The ruins of a 5,000-year-old tomb in a construction that reflects the pinnacle of neolithic engineering in northern Britain has been unearthed in Orkney.

Fourteen articulated skeletons of men, women and children – two positioned as if they were embracing – have been found inside one of six cells or side rooms.

The tomb measures more than 15m in diameter and contains a stone structure accessed through a long passage of around seven metres. The excavation was headed by Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark, senior curator of prehistory (neolithic) at the National Museums Scotland, and Prof Vicki Cummings, professor of neolithic archaeology at Cardiff University.

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‘Orkney dig reveals ruins of huge tomb’

Staff and students from the UHI Archaeology Institute with Professor Vicki Cummings during a visit to the excavation site in September 2023. (📷 Sigurd Towrie)

In August and September, excavation in the East Mainland parish of Holm revealed the remains of a Maeshowe-type chambered cairn.

At the helm of the three-week dig were Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark and Professor Vicki Cummings.

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Saturday, October 14, 2023

Neanderthals Hunted Lions with Spears, and New Research Reveals How They Might Have Done It

A 48,000-year-old lion skeleton found in a cave in modern-day Germany has provided researchers with new evidence of early predator hunting by hominids, according to new evidence outlined in a study published by Scientific Reports Thursday. The same study reports potential evidence of hominids turning cave lion skins into pelts based on new analysis of different, much older remains. These findings represent the earliest known proof that Neanderthals were effective hunters of large carnivores rather than just scavengers trying to avoid them.

A skeleton of a cave lion with a significant puncture wound in its rib was discovered in 1985 near Siegsdorf in southeastern Germany, at the foot of the Bavarian Alps. The puncture wound and surrounding cracks are located on the interior side of the rib, indicating that a spear likely struck it from the inside after passing through the lion’s vitals. Other “lesions,” probably the result of butchering, mark other bones.

“The hunting lesions include a partial puncture and possible drag marks,” the study reads. “The partial puncture was observed on the [rear] side … of rib III … It is oval-shaped in outline, exhibits circumferential and radial cracking on the impact … side, and lacks an exit wound.”

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A Horse Is a Horse?

Nearly 25 years ago, a team working in Hohle Fels Cave in southern Germany’s Swabia region unearthed a small piece of carved ivory they believed represented a horse’s head. Even as three more small ivory pieces that were part of the same figurine were found subsequently, their judgment didn’t change. A fifth piece of the Ice Age sculpture has recently been discovered, and researchers now believe it depicts an entirely different animal. “As soon as the pieces were fit together, it was clear from the shape of the shoulder and body that they couldn’t belong to a horse,” says archaeologist Nicholas Conard of the University of Tübingen.

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Thursday, September 28, 2023

'Very rare' Iron Age arrow with quartzite tip uncovered from melting ice after 3,500 years

The newly discovered arrow has a quartzite arrowhead that was attached to a birch shaft. 
(Image credit: Espen Finstad/secretsoftheice.com)

Glacial archaeologists in Norway have found an arrow with its quartzite tip still attached after spending up to 3,500 years in the snow and ice.

Archaeologists in Norway's mountains have discovered a "very rare" ancient arrow that still has its quartzite arrowhead and feather fletching in place.

It's likely that reindeer hunters used the weapon up to 3,500 years ago, according to archaeologist Lars Pilø, who heads the Secrets of the Ice project in the Jotunheimen Mountains of central Norway's Oppland region.

While archaeologists with the project have previously found human-made hunting blinds where hunters hid while targeting reindeer, the newfound arrow wasn't unearthed near one.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Talk about striking gold! Britain's oldest coin hoard is discovered in Buckinghamshire dating back 2,173 years - and experts say it could be worth £30,00

A metal detectorist has uncovered Britain's oldest hoard of gold coins dating back 2,173 years.

Stephen Eldridge found the 12 Iron Age pieces while searching farmland in Buckinghamshire.

Experts at the British Museum identified them as originating from a tribe in what is now Picardy in France and made in 150BC.

It is thought that the coins would have been exported to Britain probably in exchange for Celtic mercenaries going to Gaul in western Europe to fight the Romans.

While individual gold coins of this period have been found before, a hoard from this date is incredibly rare.

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British Museum asks public and experts to help recover stolen artefacts

The British Museum has asked the public to help identify and recover ancient artefacts that have gone missing from its collection.

Last month a member of staff was sacked and police launched an investigation after around 2,000 treasures were reported "missing, stolen or damaged" over a "significant" period of time.

The museum has now said most are Greek and Roman gems and jewellery, and shared pictures of similar items.

Sixty objects have been returned.

In a statement, the museum added that 300 more had been "identified and [are] due to be returned imminently".

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Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Zahnanalyse ermöglicht neue Erkenntnisse zur Bevölkerungsentwicklung in Südwestdeutschland von der Steinzeit bis zur Eisenzeit

Bestattungen des Endneolithikums und der Frühbronzezeit, wie dieses vor wenigen Jahren in Heilbronn entdeckte Hockergrab der Schnurkeramik, standen im Fokus der Biodistanzanalysen.
Bild: © Landesamt für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart

Das Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Senckenberg und die Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen haben eine neue Methode zur menschlichen Zahnanalyse getestet, um umfassendere Einblicke in die Populationsgeschichte Südwestdeutschlands von der ausgehenden Steinzeit bis zur frühen Eisenzeit zu gewinnen. Die Studie konzentriert sich auf die Untersuchung von Zähnen in menschlichen Bestattungen.

Mit der neuen Analysemethode namens FLEXDIST können genetisch bedingte Ähnlichkeiten und Unterschiede zwischen Individuen anhand spezifischer Zahnmerkmale ermittelt werden. Diese Merkmale, wie beispielsweise die Anzahl und Größe der Höcker von Backenzähnen, sind vererbbar und liefern Aufschluss über die Biodistanz, also die Ähnlichkeit zwischen Individuen. Die Analyse der Zähne kann somit mit genetischen Untersuchungen verglichen werden.

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Neue Erkenntnisse zur Populationsgeschichte des dritten bis ersten Jahrtausends v. Chr. in Südwestdeutschland

 Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Senckenberg und Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen testen neue Methode zur menschlichen Zahnanalyse

11.07.23 Pressemitteilungen

Pressemitteilung Landesamt für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart

Einem Team von Forscherinnen und Forschern vom Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment (SHEP), der Arbeitsgruppe Paläoanthropologie an der Universität Tübingen und des Landesamts für Denkmalpflege (LAD) im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart ist es mit Hilfe einer neuen Analysemethode erstmals gelungen, umfassendere Einblicke in die menschliche Populationsgeschichte Südwestdeutschlands von der ausgehenden Steinzeit bis zur frühen Eisenzeit zu gewinnen. Die Studie gründet auf der Untersuchung von Zähnen menschlicher Bestattungen.

Mit der neuen Analysemethode FLEXDIST können genetisch bedingte Ähnlichkeiten und Unterschiede der Individuen anhand spezifischer Zahnmerkmale ermittelt werden. „Möglich wird dies, da jeder Zahn unterschiedliche morphologische Merkmale wie etwa die Anzahl und Größe der Höcker von Backenzähnen aufweist“, erläuterte Stephanie Lismann (Universität Tübingen), Zweitautorin der Studie. „Sie sind vererbbar und können Aufschlüsse zur Biodistanz liefern, also wie ähnlich Individuen zueinander sind. Die Analyse dieser Zähne ist mit genetischen Untersuchungen vergleichbar“, so Lismann.

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Monday, July 24, 2023

Earliest glass workshop north of the Alps discovered

Credit: Antiquity (2023). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2023.80

After 20 years of above-ground surveys, archaeologists have excavated the famous Iron Age site of Němčice and confirmed the presence of the earliest glass workshop north of the Alps.

Němčice is one of the most important settlement sites of the La Tène Period (3rd–2nd century BC) in Central Europe, famous for its unprecedented amount of gold and silver coins which number over 2,000.

Numerous beautiful glass bracelets and beads have also been found at the site. As such, it was thought that Němčice was a center of glass production, but only these excavations have confirmed this fact.

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Thursday, July 6, 2023

Archaeology A Norwegian Dad Hiking With His Family Discovered a Rock Face Covered With Bronze Age Paintings

It's the first time this type of painting has been found regionally.

A man on a hike with his family in the countryside outside of Oslo, Norway, has stumbled across a rock face covered in Bronze Age paintings.

The discovery did not, however, come as a complete surprise to Tormod Fjeld, a graphic designer and devoted amateur archaeologist who has hunted down more than 500 petroglyphs with friends in recent years.

And so, when Fjeld spotted a nearby boulder with unusual coloration while taking a break from hiking, he was ready. Fjeld pulled out his phone, took a picture, and then plugged it into an app that could clarify if the markings were natural pigments, such as iron deposits, or something altogether more interesting.

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Thursday, June 22, 2023

Archaeologists unearth 4,000-year-old ‘Stonehenge of the Netherlands’

The Tiel sanctuary featured a solar calendar that was used to determine important events including festivals and harvest days, say archaeologists.
Photograph: Municipality of Tiel/Reuters

Dutch archaeologists have unearthed an approximately 4,000-year-old religious site – nicknamed the “Stonehenge of the Netherlands” – that includes a burial mound that served as a solar calendar.

The mound, which contained the remains of about 60 men, women and children, had several passages through which the sun shone directly on the longest and shortest days of the year.

The town of Tiel, where the site was discovered, said on its Facebook page: “What a spectacular archaeological discovery! Archaeologists have found a 4,000-year-old religious sanctuary on an industrial site.”

It added: “This is the first time a site like this has been discovered in the Netherlands.”

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‘It stands over us like a giant’s dining table’: on the trail of the UK’s ancient stones

One of Cornwall’s most recognisable megaliths … Lanyon Quoit. Photograph: Alamy

No longer just for solstice, a new type of tourism means these mysterious formations are being visited year round. Our writer joins a stone hunt on the Cornish moors.

Up on Cornwall’s Penwith Moors time takes a strange quality. Here the landscape is a morass of knotted bracken and bristly gorse, a soft marigold tinge signalling warmer summer days. A grey smudge of cloud sags on the horizon and the wind whirs like white noise, a low and disorientating murmur. The topography is a palimpsest, with working farms etched over ruinous mines and prehistoric settlements. And at its heart is a scattering of ancient stones, the enigmatic quoits, barrows and stone circles that have captivated and confounded societies for millennia.

It’s an enchanting place just to wander, but to help me dive deeper into the mysteries of the moors, I am meeting artists and stone enthusiasts Lally MacBeth and Matthew Shaw. Almost immediately I feel underdressed in hiking boots primed with mud and a hardy waterproof – in Cornwall, we come perpetually prepared for the threat of showers. MacBeth, on the other hand, looks the part of an antiquarian in an emerald-green blazer and matching beret finished with a swipe of ruby lipstick. The only muted part of her outfit is a monochrome badge, the size of a small pebble, that reads: “The Stone Club”.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Burnt Mound Complex Dated To Bronze Age - Uncovered At Suffolk Site


The site, showing the evaluation trenches and excavation areas.
Image credit: Cotswold Archaeology

In Area 1, the remains of a Bronze Age burnt mound complex were revealed. In Area 2, an enclosure system of broadly the same period was recorded, together with the remains of three Iron Age roundhouses.

Overlying these remains were field patterns of medieval and later dates.

Unfortunately the Bronze Age burnt mound in Area 1 had been largely destroyed by later ploughing. Burnt mounds are enigmatic prehistoric features known from across the British Isles. Well-preserved examples are characterised by a flattened mound formed from discarded, burnt stones.

The stones were heated and then functioned as ‘pot boilers’, heating water in nearby earth-cut, possibly timber-lined troughs.

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Northumbria University forensic scientist uncovers earliest known example of burials among human ancestors

Figure 3: Artist’s reconstruction of the burial of an adult Homo naledi found in Feature 1 from the Dinaledi Chamber. Images from Berger et al., 2023. (Image: Berger et al)

A Northumbria University forensic scientist was part of a team which has unearthed the earliest example of burials by human ancestors.

Dr Patrick Randolph-Quinney is Associate Professor of Forensic Science at Northumbria and specialises in taphonomy and thanatology - the science of death and processes that affect a body from decomposition, through to skeletonisation, then recovery. In a project funded by the National Geographic Society, Dr Randolph-Quinney was one of a team of experts who unearthed new evidence in the Rising Star cave system in South Africa suggesting an extinct human cousin named Homo naledi buried their dead.

This symbolic behaviour had previously only associated with modern humans and Neanderthals. Bodies of Homo naledi adults and several children, thought to be younger than 13 were deposited in foetal positions within pits, which suggests intentional burial of the dead.

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Violent Conflict Played A Crucial Role In Early Farming Societies In Neolithic Europe – New Study


Cave painting of a battle between archers, Cueva del Roure, Morella la Vella, Castellón, Valencia, Spain. Image credit: Eduardo Hernández Pacheco -  public domain

Complexity scientist Peter Turchin and his team at CSH, working as part of an international and interdisciplinary collaboration, may have added a meaningful piece to a long-standing puzzle in archeology. Scholars have long tried to understand why Neolithic farmer populations go through boom-bust cycles, including “collapses” when whole regions are abandoned.

According to one common explanation, climate fluctuations are the main driver, but empirical tests do not fully support this claim. In a new paper, published in the latest issue of Nature Scientific Reports, Turchin and his team seem to have come up with a new piece of information.

“Our study shows that periodic outbreaks of warfare — and not climate fluctuations – can account for the observed boom-bust patterns in the data,” argues Turchin, who’s a project leader at the Complexity Science Hub (CSH).

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Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Tiny Bead, Found In Bulgaria, Is World's Oldest Gold

Every year, we discover something about our history on the planet through excavations around the world. In one such excavation, archaeologists found what may be the world’s oldest gold dating back to 4,500 B.C. The gold bead found was an eighth of an inch found in Bulgaria and it might be the oldest processed gold ever discovered in Europe and probably the world.

Reuters reported in 2016 that the bead predates the previous oldest gold object, the Varna Gold, which is a cache of gold found in a necropolis outside the Black Sea port of Varna. The Varna Gold cache was found between 1972 and 1991 and weighed about 5.8 kilograms. However, the new bead found in Bulgaria pushes the mystery back another 200 years.

Yavor Boyadzhiev, professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Science and in charge of the dig told Krasimiov, “I do not doubt that it is older than the Varna gold. It’s a really important discovery. It is a tiny piece of gold but big enough to find its place in history.”

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Researchers discover what triggered Earth's last ice age

At the beginning of the last ice, local mountain glaciers grew and formed large ice sheets, like the one seen here. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)

For quite some time, paleo-climate specialists have been perplexed by two enigmas: What was the origin of the ice sheets that defined the final ice age, and how could they expand so rapidly?

A fresh research conducted by the University of Arizona's experts suggests a plausible explanation for the swift expansion of the ice sheets that coated a considerable portion of the Northern Hemisphere during the last ice age. Furthermore, the study's findings may be applicable to other glacial periods in the Earth's past.

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The puzzle of Neanderthal aesthetics

Surprising new insights into the minds of this extinct human species suggest they may have been far more cultured than their outdated brutish reputation once suggested. But getting into the minds of a long-dead species is no easy task.

Sometime between 135,000-50,000 years ago, hands slick with animal blood carried more than 35 huge horned heads into a small, dark, winding cave. Tiny fires were lit amidst a boulder-jumbled floor, and the flame-illuminated chamber echoed to dull pounding, cracking and squelching sounds as the skulls of bison, wild cattle, red deer and rhinoceros were smashed open.

This isn't the gory beginning of an ice age horror novel, but the setting for a fascinating Neanderthal mystery. At the start of 2023 researchers announced that a Spanish archaeological site known as Cueva Des-Cubierta (a play on "uncover" and "discover") held an unusually large number of big-game skulls. All were fragmented but their horns or antlers were relatively intact, and some were found near to traces of hearths.

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Friday, April 28, 2023

Neanderthals Built Boats And Sailed 100,000 Years Ago – Long Before Modern Humans

Jan Bartek - AncientPages.com - Maritime history dates back thousands of years, och there is no doubt many ancient civilizations had excellent knowledge of navigation and sailing. Once ancient civilizations understood the value of trading, many maritime routes were established, and spices, gold, silk, and many other items were bought and sold. There is archaeological evidence magnificent ancient ships crossed the oceans, and curious explorers set foot on new lands

Still, modern humans were not the ones who invented the boat. According to a study, the first seafarers were the Neanderthals, who lived from about 400,000 to 40,000 years ago. On islands in the Mediterranean Sea, scientists have examined several artifacts and stone tools uniquely associated with the Neanderthals.

"Archaeological data from the southern Ionian Islands show human habitation since Middle Palaeolithic going back to 110 ka BP yet bathymetry, sea-level changes and the Late Quaternary geology, show that Kefallinia and Zakynthos were insular at that time. Hence, human presence in these islands indicates inter island-mainland seafaring. Seafaring most likely started some time between 110 and 35 ka BP and the seafarers were the Neanderthals. Seafaring was encouraged by the coastal configuration, which offered the right conditions for developing seafaring skills according to the “voyaging nurseries” and “autocatalysis” concepts," the research team writes in a paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

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Archaeologists Discover Ancient Necropolis Near Parisian Train Station

Researchers uncovered 50 burials dated to roughly the second century C.E.
© Camille Colonna / INRAP

Residents of Lutetia buried their dead at Saint-Jacques between the first and fourth centuries C.E.

Little is known about the Parisii, the ancient Gallic tribe that dwelled on the banks of the Seine some 2,000 years ago. At the time, the French capital that now bears the Parisii’s name was called Lutetia.

Last week, archaeologists unearthed 50 burials that may shed light on funerary traditions in the ancient city that preceded Paris. Discovered just a few feet away from a bustling train station, the graves are believed to be part of the largest known Lutetian burial site, the Saint-Jacques necropolis.

Dominique Garcia, president of the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP), tells Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the finds open “a window into the world of Paris during antiquity.”

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Sunday, April 23, 2023

Who Were the Neanderthals & Why Are They Important to Modern Humans?

Since their discovery in 1856, the Neanderthals have been stereotyped as brutish characters, devoid of the complexities that make modern humans so dynamic and successful. Over the past few decades, research has completely upturned this notion.

Contrary to popular belief, they were a complex and intelligent species that made use of intricate tools and were capable of a wide range of activities that required mental powers of deduction and reasoning that until recently were thought only to reside in our own species.

To the average person, the Neanderthals that lived and died so long ago are not important enough to warrant any meaningful thought. But their relevance today is far more salient than people would expect.

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Monday, April 17, 2023

Archaeologists identify a Palaeolithic bone tool workshop in Spanish cave

Image Credit : Antiquity

A study of a partition made from rocks in the El Mirón Cave has led to archaeologists identifying it as a Palaeolithic bone tool workshop.

El Mirón Cave is a cave system in the upper Asón River valley, located in the Cantabria region of northern Spain.

The cave was first discovered in 1903, leading to a series of excavations over the century revealing evidence of Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer activity, and the discovery of the “Red Lady of El Mirón”, a skeleton from the Upper Palaeolithic which was found coated with ochre, a red iron-based pigment.

In a paper published in the journal Antiquity, researchers from the University of New Mexico (UNM) have suggested that a partition made from rocks in the rear of the cave was actually used for bone tool manufacturing around 20,000-years-ago.

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Thursday, April 13, 2023

Bone fragment reveals humans wore leather clothes 39,000 years ago

This piece of bone from 39,600 years ago has multiple puncture marks on it that seem to have been made by puncturing leather

An analysis of a 39,600-year-old bone containing strange indentations claims it was used as a punch board for making holes in leather, revealing how Homo sapiens in Europe made clothes to help them survive cold climates at that time.

“We do not have much information about clothes because they’re perishable,” says Luc Doyon at the University of Bordeaux, France, who led the study. “They are an early technology we’re in the dark about.”

The bone, from the hip of a large mammal such as a horse or bison, was discovered at a site called Terrasses de la Riera dels Canyars near Barcelona, Spain. It has 28 puncture marks on its flat surface, including a linear sequence of 10 holes about 5 millimetres apart from each other, as well as other holes in more random positions.

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People were using psychedelic drugs in Bronze Age Europe, study finds

Es Càrritx is a grotto on Minorca, an island off the coast of eastern Spain, that's home to a Bronze Age burial site. (Research Group in Mediterranean Social Archaeoecology/Autonomous University of Barcelona)

3,000-year-old human hair — possibly from a shaman — contains traces of mind-altering substances

People have been using mind-altering substances for a long, long time.

While archaeologists and historians have long suspected that people in Bronze Age Europe consumed psychoactive drugs, they now have hard scientific evidence to back it up.

And it's all thanks to several tiny strands of human hair found impeccably preserved in a 3,000-year-old burial site in Spain.

Those hairs, researchers have found, contain traces of three different alkaloid substances that are known to cause altered states of consciousness.

"It was amazing," Rafael Mico, a professor of archeological pre-history at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, told As It Happens host Nil Köksal. "It is the first direct evidence in Europe of the consumption [of psychedelic drugs]."

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Who Was Ötzi the Iceman?


Ötzi the Iceman is the oldest mummy ever found. Learn what scientists now know about the famous ancient human.

In 1991, two German tourists were hiking in the Ötztal Alps — a mountain range shared by Austria and Italy — when they stumbled upon the frozen remains of a dead man. The ice preserved the man so well that his body, clothes and tools never decomposed.

Scientists dubbed him Ötzi the Iceman and began studying the naturally-preserved mummy. They’ve determined he lived more than 5,000 years ago, which makes Ötzi the Iceman the oldest mummy ever found.

Researchers are still studying the mountain mummy, and Ötzi the Iceman continues to unlock answers about what daily life was like thousands of years ago. 

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The Antikythera Mechanism: the mysterious ancient machine that should not exist?

 The Antikythera mechanism is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic artifacts from ancient Greece.

This ancient machine, discovered in the wreckage of a Greek shipwreck, has puzzled historians, archaeologists, and scientists for over a century.

It's a device that is so advanced that it seems to belong in a much later period of human history, and its discovery has raised many questions about the sophistication of ancient Greek technology.

Here, we will explore the mysteries of the Antikythera mechanism, including its purpose, its creators, and the ways in which it has challenged our understanding of ancient technology. 

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Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Evidence of drug use during Bronze Age ritual ceremonies has been discovered in Europe for the first time

View of the entrance of Es Càrritx (upper left); the deposit of Chamber 5 with the tubes containing the human hair placed at the center (upper right, courtesy of Consell Insular de Menorca); plan of the cave and section of the deposit found in chamber 5 (P. Arnau, J. L. Florit, J. Márquez & M. Márquez).

The researchers believe that these substances were likely used as part of ritual ceremonies, and that they may have been ingested orally or smoked. They also suggest that the use of these drugs may have been associated with shamanism or other forms of religious or spiritual practice.

This is the first direct evidence of drug use in Europe during the Bronze Age, and it provides new insights into the beliefs and practices of people during this time period. The study also suggests that the use of psychoactive drugs may have been more widespread in Europe than previously thought.

The researchers hope that their findings will lead to further research into the use of drugs in Bronze Age Europe, and that it will help to shed light on the cultural and religious beliefs of this time period.

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