Saturday, December 31, 2005

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Channel 4's Time Team have unearthed some fascinating ancient finds in Britain's fields.

But the discovery of their latest Roman settlement in the Cotswolds was not the result of academic research. Instead, experts on the TV show have moles to thank for digging up stones from an ancient villa.

They burrowed their way through a remote, unploughed two-acre field near Withington - and churned up what looked like unremarkable stone cubes.

When local archaeologist Roger Box stumbled across the molehills by chance, he had a hunch they marked the spot of a major hidden treasure.

Recognising the stones as mosaic cubes, he called in the Time Team.

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Teesside skull one of UK's oldest

The remains of Teesside's (England) oldest man, at 5,230 years old, were found on Coatham beach by a local butcher as he exercised his dog and he had no doubt that the grey dish-shaped bone was from the back of a human skull. Detectives were called in but with the help of one of the world's top forensic anthropologists, they discovered the skull of the 30-year-old man was Neolithic.

Detective Constable Chris Marchant, of Cleveland Police, said: "Carbon dating has pinpointed the age but the scientist who looked at it was also able to give us the sex and age of the individual. She was able to tell us that there are no signs of any traumatic injury and the bone appears to have become detached from the rest of the skull through natural processes." Marine growth on the bone suggests that it has been in the sea for some time and the consensus among experts is that it probably came from an ancient burial ground that has been eroded by the sea.

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Germany reopens its 6,800-year-old mystery circle

Germany has constructed a replica of a mysterious wooden circle that is believed to be a temple of the sun built by a lost culture 6,800 years ago.

The circle of posts, in a flat river plain at Goseck south of Berlin, has mystified scientists since its discovery in 1991 by an archaeologist studying the landscape from the air. An excavation found post holes and what may be the remains of ritual fires.

Goseck has been dubbed the German Stonehenge, though it is twice as old as the Stonehenge megalithic circle in southern England and has no stones. The original wood rotted away long ago, but new palisades, or wooden walls, were constructed at Goseck this year.

In a public works scheme, 2,300 oaken poles were erected in a circle on the same site over a seven-month period, with gateways opening to the points of the compass where the sun rises and sets on December 21.

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Centuries-Old Religious Secret Uncovered in Portugal

The mystery began unraveling when Father Agostinho Jardim Moreira, a Roman Catholic priest, bought a four-story house for use as an old people's home for his parish. When workers told him they had come across a false wall, he told them to pull it down. "I suspected that false wall was hiding something," he said. "I knew there had to be some kind of Jewish symbol behind it."

Few people ever knew, but the murky medieval alleyways of the Atlantic port city of Porto, Portugal, once provided cover for a persecuted minority that risked being burnt at the stake.
In the 16th century, an unremarkable thick-walled granite house that still stands in a row of narrow, small-roomed buildings along a cobbled street held a dangerous secret. At the back of the house, steep steps lead down to a warren of alleys ideal for conspiratorial comings and goings that helped keep an outlawed religious ceremony hidden.

Four centuries later, the secret of the clandestine synagogue is out.

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On a mission to explore deepest Lycia

Where Greek language has left its mark

The agora in ancient Oeonoanda, where scattered stones bear Greek inscriptions.

Children play in the dirt between humble abodes with tin roofs, as carts, donkeys and farm vehicles pass by. We assure the owner of the yard where we know there is an inscribed stone that we have the permission of the Culture Ministry.

He warmly welcomes us with tea as the neighbors gather. I try to persuade him that it is not necessary to cut down the rose bush and the tree growing in front of the tombstone bearing a relief of a youth’s head. The children want to know the language of the inscription, carved in Ancient Greek about 18 centuries ago.

We are in ancient Cibyratica, at the site of the ancient city of Bubona, at an altitude of about 1,000 meters, less than 100 kilometers from the southwest Turkish coast, in the village of Ibecik. It is here that a group of beautiful bronze statues was discovered, the only group of its kind ever to be found dating from Roman times. Unearthed during illegal excavation, they are now exhibited in foreign museums. We — a research team from Heidelberg and Athens — are the only visitors to the area, and we come every year.

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No Saxon find for archaeologists

Archaeologists who started excavations to uncover the remains of an ancient Saxon rotunda have been disappointed.

A radar scan of Grange Court, in Leominster, showed what the team believed to be a 1,000-year-old round church and a dig began in August.

At the time the area, which is used as a council car park, was hailed as a site of international importance.

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Aerial photographers map archaeological sites

Archaeologists call it the Persian carpet effect.

Imagine you’re a mouse running across an elaborately decorated rug. The ground would merely be a blur of shapes and colors. You could spend your life going back and forth, studying an inch at a time, and never see the patterns.

Like a mouse on a carpet, an archaeologist painstakingly excavating a site might easily miss the whole for the parts. That’s where the work of aerial photographers like Georg Gerster comes in.

For four decades, Gerster, 77, has been flying over sites from the Parthenon to Ayers Rock to provide archaeologists with the big picture. Seen from high above, even the most familiar turf can appear transformed, with a coherence and detail invisible on the ground.

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Archaelogical finds in motorway testing

A number of archaeological finds were made in testing in the Borris in Ossory area for the M7 motorway, according to information from the NRA circulated at the recent Council area meeting.

Within the early medieval ringfort at Derrinsallagh a quantity of flints and pottery dating from the Neolithic period were revealed, suggesting that this early medieval site had earlier beginnings in the prehistoric period.

At Shanboe, a series of fulachta fiadh, low mounds of burnt stone, together with pits troughs, stakeholes for widbreaks and a possible structure have been excavated. A very fine chert arrowhead was discovered in close proximity to one of the larger fulachta fiadh which was excavated.

An unknown ringfort at Derrinsallagh beside an existing road was revealed during testing. The present road cuts the ringfort in half, and the ditch of the ringfort still exists under the road. The ringfort consists of a ditch1.50m deep and 2.50-3m wide, and an area of about 40m diameter is enclosed. Few archaeological features were found within the ringfort, but close to the north a very fine corndrying kiln has been excavated.

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Restoration of medieval manor house opens up a mystery

Turn right off a quintessentially dull suburban parade of shops and 1930s houses, down a lane past the scrapyard and the playing fields, and there is something so bizarre it seems a hallucination: a medieval manor house, still surrounded by a moat and flanked by its tithe barn, as it has been for almost 700 years.

Headstone Manor is a treasure that most outsiders have never known and most people in the Middlesex suburb of Harrow had forgotten. "Secular buildings of this date are extremely rare anywhere," said Stephen Brindle, an ancient monuments inspector for English Heritage. "To find it surviving here is quite extraordinary." Half a lifetime ago the timber-framed 1310 hall was about to fall to bits: it was stripped of roof tiles, floors and plaster down to a skeletal frame, then wrapped in scaffolding and corrugated plastic. English Heritage offered a grant for restoration, and the local heritage trust raised £50,000, but the rest of the money could not be found. The building, designated a scheduled ancient monument, remained wrapped up for over 20 years.

Two years ago it was realised that the house was decaying fast. The grant was reactivated, and the council found £750,000. Although well over another £1m will have to be found for the interiors and the moat and garden, the building is now supported by a steel frame and can be opened to the public for the first time.

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The dawn of new beginnings despite the lack of sunshine

THE sun didn’t shine but that did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of those who gathered at Newgrange to walk in the footsteps of the ancients on solstice day.

January 1 is on it’s way but for many who make the pilgrimage to the 5,000 year ago monument, sunrise on December 21 is the dawn of new beginnings.

They came from far and wide, seasoned solstice watchers and wide eyed first timers, in the hope of catching the first rays of sunlight peeping over the black hill of Donore.

The rain clouds refused to budge but the crowd of about 200 jovial onlookers savoured the moment anyway, pleased just to be there.

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Romania Returns Confiscated Palace To Church

The Romanian government officially returned a medieval palace and museum to the country's German Evangelical Church today, more than 50 years after the property was confiscated by the former communist regime.

The agreement makes the Evangelical Church co-owner of the Brukenthal National Museum, along with the Culture Ministry.

The church will regain control over all confiscated art collections in the museum when an inventory is completed next year.

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Sonderausstellung »100.000 Jahre Sex« in Dresden wird verlängert

Die Sonderausstellung »100.000 Jahre Sex« im Japanischen Palais konnte bereits über 15.000 Besucher zählen. Nun wird sie nach einer Umbauphase verlängert.

Nach Ablauf der regulären Spielzeit am 8.1.2006 wird die Ausstellung aufgrund der Baumaßnahmen im Japanischen Palais umgestellt und dann vom 20.1. - 23.4.2006 weiter zu sehen sein - nun im Nordflügel des Museums.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Further division emerges in Tara Valley campaign

THERE has been further disagreement in the Save Skryne Tara Valley campaign with the group’s PRO, Dr Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, resigning from the group over differences about the alternatives the group is proposing for the M3 motorway.

While Dr Ni Bhrolchain a lecturer in Celtic studies at NUI Maynooth, will continue to oppose the route passing the Hill of Tara, she says she does not want to be tied to one specific alternative route over another.

She became PRO of the Save Skryne Tara Valley campaign last summer after Vincent Salafia resigned from the position to pursue the issue through the courts. That hearing is scheduled to begin in the High Court on 12th January next and is expected to last six days.

The Group favours a Multiway Plan by a transport researcher, Brian Guckian, over other alternatives and continues to promote that plan and to examine European legal avenues.

“The Multiway Plan is an excellent alternative to a single tolled road but it is not the only alternative to putting a motorway through the Gabhra Valley,” Dr Ni Bhrolchain said. “I would rather not be tied to or committed to one specific alternative over another.”

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Castle scheme goes up a gear

THE £3m. scheme to transform Clitheroe Castle into a premier all-weather visitor attraction is beginning to move forward.

Council leaders and campaigners are gearing themselves up to raise the £700,000 shortfall needed for match funding in the next 12 months.

Mr John Heap, Ribble Valley Borough Council's community services director, is determined to raise the outstanding sum.

"There is a lot of confidence between us that we will hit the target," he commented.
"We think this is the right way forward that the prime attraction in Clitheroe is well preserved and enhanced for future generations.

"The project to revamp the Castle is a celebration of Clitheroe's history and we are determined to meet the total over the next 12 months."

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Historic finds halt car park

Archaeological finds at a car park in a Midlands city centre are set to delay a redevelopment project by four weeks. Excavation work in advance of expansion of Cross Keys car park, near Stowe Pool, Lichfield, has uncovered a number of items.

The car park was closed last month for the start of a project to nearly double the number of parking spaces it provides. The work, which will involve lowering the ground level and adding a deck to increase the number of space from 136 to 268, was due to take until May.

The completion date now looks set to be put back by the discovery of what are thought to be the remains of a Saxon building.

Lichfield District Council development services chief Councillor Neil Robertsa said: "Whilst undertaking the necessary excavations for the redevelopment of the Cross Keys car park, as had always been agreed, archaeologists were present, and have subsequently identified a number of items of interest.

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Trip down Roman roads for youngsters

NORTHUMBERLAND youngsters are reliving their history thanks to a £90,000 grant
from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The grant, part of a £138million cash injection over 11 years in the North East by the HLF. meant more than 1,170 school kids from across the county have been exploring the area's rich Roman history thanks.

The Museum of Antiquities at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne used the grant to fund its Flavinus-Reticulum project, specifically designed for children, who would not otherwise have the opportunity to visit a museum.
Youngsters aged five to 11 from isolated or deprived areas across Northumberland have been able to develop a greater understanding of life in the county during the Roman period through a combination of museum visits and the internet.
The HLF grant has enabled museum staff to work with 35 schools in both the museum and the classroom, giving children the opportunity to handle artefacts and explore local historical themes and ideas.

Teacher, Eileen Morgan from Eglingham C of E First School, said: "The project was excellent. The children got and an in-depth view of Roman life through the knowledge of the museum's experts.
"They gained a real understanding of the role of artefacts in history and exploring the past. The project is very worthwhile and successfully brings history to life."

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Calls to dig into village’s rich archaelogical past

THERE have been calls for an archaeological dig to take place in Stonehouse.

In the past there have been attempts to get digs arranged, as the village has a number of historical sites of interest, but so far none have taken place.

Fred McDermid, of Boghall Road, is one resident who thinks it’s time for a dig in Stonehouse, which has records dating back to the ninth century.

He said: “We hear regularly about archaeological digs taking place in various parts of the country which reveal finds of great interest. How about one in Stonehouse? This village has a very long history and there must be a great deal of history to be revealed.

“For instance, we know that St. Ninian was born in 360 AD and died in 432 AD.

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Traces of tsunami in ancient city of Patara

Archaeologists claim that an ancient lighthouse located in the ancient city of Patara on Antalya's Mediterranean coast might have been destroyed by a tsunami that hit the region in ancient times.

The ruins of the lighthouse were discovered two years ago during excavations that are still under way in Patara.

Professor Havva İşkan Işık, head of Akdeniz University's archaeology department, which is conducting studies in the ancient city, said they believed the lighthouse was destroyed by a tsunami since a human skeleton was found among the ruins.

Işek said the skeleton could belong to a lighthouse keeper who was trying to escape a tsunami but was crushed under the lighthouse's stone blocks.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Police nab pensioner's looted art

Italian police have seized nearly 9,000 ancient artefacts from a 74-year-old pensioner who sold looted antiquities at a flea market in Rome.

Police stopped the man on Monday night and found three bags full of Etruscan and Roman pieces in his car. They also searched his house where they discovered a laboratory to clean and restore the antiquities, as well as what they described as the classic tomb raider's kit, including three metal detectors.

Among the 8,972 pieces seized were ancient terracotta vases, amphorae, masks, clay and bronze statues and parts of marble columns.

The man, whose name was not given, used to sell bric-a-brac at Rome's popular Porta Portese market. But customers in the know were offered much more prized samples from a collection "worthy of an archaeology museum", police said.

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Ex-hostage's Iraq return angers her rescue team

THE German Government angrily rebuked a former hostage yesterday who is determined to return to Iraq despite being held captive for three weeks by a Sunni gang.

Susanne Osthoff, a 43-year-old archaeologist, announced this week on al-Jazeera television that she would go back to her work in northern Iraq, trying to set up a German cultural centre in Arbil.

Angela Merkel’s new Government, which regards the freeing of Frau Osthoff this month as its first foreign policy triumph, is furious. It made huge efforts to secure her release and is widely believed to have paid a ransom.

It has now blocked all funding for her project and has told her that she should leave the region immediately. She is believed currently to be in Jordan, with her 12-year-old daughter, preparing to return.

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Secret synagogue uncovered

A chance discovery during renovations of a building in this Atlantic port city has revealed a dark secret from Portugal's past: a 16th-century synagogue.

Built at a time when Portugal's Jews had been forced to convert to Catholicism or risk being burned at the stake, the house of worship was hidden behind a false wall in a four-story house that Father Agostinho Jardim Moreira, a Roman Catholic priest, was converting into a home for his old-age parishioners.

A scholar of Porto's Jewish history, he says that as soon as the workers told him of the wall, "I knew there had to be some kind of Jewish symbol behind it."

His hunch was confirmed when the wall came down to reveal a carved granite repository, about five feet tall, arched at the top and facing east toward Jerusalem. It was the ark where the medieval Jews kept their Torah scrolls. Pieces of decorative green tiles in the ark further confirmed the age of the ark when experts dated their glazing to a method used in the 16th century.

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Gozo’s unique archaeological treasures to return home

It is expected that the unique archaeological artefacts, that were discovered during excavations at the Gozo Stone Circle in Xaghra, will be returned to Gozo next year, following the installation by the Gozo Ministry of state-of-the-art showcases at the Gozo Museum of Archaeology, one of the four museums in the Citadel that are managed by Heritage Malta.

The Department of Information said yesterday that nine state-of-the-art showcases, procured through the Structural Funds for Malta 2004-2006, specifically under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), will be installed at the Museum of Archaeology by the middle of next year.

These showcases offer the maximum protection and security possible for these unique artefacts, including shatter-proof glass displays and a climate-controlled environment. Moreover, they add to the enjoyment of the visitor through an improved presentation of the island’s archaeological heritage.

These showcases will allow artefacts from the Gozo Stone Circle to be put on permanent display in Gozo for the first time.

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An Italian Financial Police officer shows seized ancient Roman and Etruscan artifacts

An Italian Financial Police officer shows seized ancient Roman and Etruscan artifacts during a press conference in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2005. Police said they had seized nearly 9,000 ancient artifacts from a 74-year-old retiree who sold the illegally excavated pieces at a local market. (AP Photo/Dario Pignatelli)

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Susanne Osthoff and Her Discontents

It remains to be seen whether former hostage Susanne Osthoff really will go back to Iraq, but whatever she decides, her actions and comments since her release have done little to endear her to the German public or press.

Reports in the media on Tuesday that Susanne Osthoff, a former hostage in Iraq, had expressed the wish to return to that country were greeted with disbelief and consternation in Germany. On Monday the 43-year-old archaeologist had given her first interview since her Dec. 19 release to the Arab TV station Al Jazeera and had apparently indicated that she planned to go back to take up her aid work. However, on Tuesday afternoon, speaking to the German TV station ZDF, she denied that she had no clear plans to return to Iraq. The confusion was blamed on an initial inaccurate translation of the interview. Al Jazeera has now released a full transcript in English.

Regardless of whether she returns to Iraq, Osthoff seems to have squandered much of the goodwill she had enjoyed in Germany during and immediately after her captivity. Her interpretation of the kidnapping itself, which she describes as "political" rather than criminal, has raised more than a few eyebrows. And her refusal to return to Germany (from Jordan, where ZDF says she "plausibly" is), or to contact her own family, has been held with a dim view by some. The tabloid Bild asks why she hasn't called her mother: "Every time the phone calls it must be hell for her."

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Newport: Study of ancient burial grounds recommends more indepth research

Indepth research into the history of one of the oldest graveyards in the region has been recommended following a preliminary study of the ancient burial grounds.

The findings of the preliminary study which has traced burials back for more than 250 years have been published in the 2005 Newport News Parish Annual which went on sale in the area over the past week, and with 184 pages is one of the largest published by the committee of over the past quarter of a century.

The study which was carried out by a native of the area, Patrick J. Ryan, M.Phil. Archaeologist, Chairman of the Classical Association of Ireland is the most comprehensive publication to date of the history of the church and burial grounds at Ballymackeogh. It was carried out on the invitation of the Newport Historical and Archaeological Society to which the author has lectured on a number of occasions.

The twelve page account of the findings, includes drawings and photographs of some of the most important features which were identified in the study and concludes with the recommendation that in consultation with the grave owners and the relevant heritage officer the conservation and preservation of the site should be undertaken to alleviate further damage to the church structure and existing inscriptions.

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Further problems for Getty Trust

The troubled J. Paul Getty Trust has been put on probation by the US body responsible for charitable foundations.

The trust, which oversees the famous Getty Museum in Los Angeles, failed to hand over information needed for a review of its financial practices.

The 60-day probation carries no penalties but is a further blow to the trust which recently returned artworks that were allegedly stolen from Italy.

An ex-curator of the Getty museum was charged with trafficking last month.

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Priest's hunch finally uncovers Porto's hidden holy scrolls

Few people ever knew, but the medieval alleys of the Portuguese city of Porto on the Atlantic coast once provided cover for a persecuted minority at risk of being burnt at the stake.

In the 16th century, a thick-walled granite house that still stands in a row of narrow buildings along a cobbled street held a dangerous secret. At the back, steep steps lead down to a warren of alleys ideal for conspiratorial comings and goings that helped keep an outlawed religious ceremony hidden.

Four centuries later, the secret of the synagogue is out. The mystery began unravelling when Fr Agostinho Jardim Moreira, a Catholic priest, bought the four-storey house for use as an old people's home for his parish. When construction workers told him they had come across a false wall, he told them to pull it down - sensing a hidden tale.

He had studied the city's Jewish history and knew his parish had been a Jewish quarter in the 15th and 16th centuries. He also knew that, after they were forced to convert to Catholicism in 1496, many Jews privately kept their faith and worshipped in secret. "I suspected that false wall was hiding something," said Fr Moreira. "I knew there had to be some kind of Jewish symbol behind it."

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Bronze Age find is treasure trove

A hoard of Bronze Age artefacts which had been discovered in a garden has been declared treasure trove.

The items which include spears, sword parts and axe heads were discovered in Shane Targett's garden in Eaton, near Norwich, last April.

The 149 artefacts, which date back to 800BC, are believed to be from a local foundry and are worth about £10,000.

On Wednesday, Coroner Bill Armstrong described the artefacts as a "significant and substantial find".

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Cloud cover ruins annual Newgrange solstice spectacle

Cloud cover has prevented the sun from shining into the ancient passage tomb at Newgrange in Co Meath today.

Around 30 lucky people had secured access to the monument to watch the rising sun illuminating the central chamber on the shortest day of the year.

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Stonehenge marks winter solstice

Hundreds of people gathered at Stonehenge on Tuesday to celebrate the winter solstice.

A crowd of around 600 braved the cold and cloudy conditions in the hope of witnessing sunrise at the prehistoric site in Wiltshire.

A further 60 also celebrated the solstice at the ancient stone circle at Avebury, also in Wiltshire.

The Winter solstice is the cause for a pagan celebration held on the shortest day of the year.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Germany to reopen 6,800-year-old mystery circle

At the winter solstice this week, Germany is to open a replica of a mysterious wooden circle that is believed to be a temple of the sun built by a lost culture 6,800 years ago.

The circle of posts, in a flat river plain at Goseck south of Berlin, has mystified scientists since its discovery in 1991 by an archaeologist studying the landscape from the air. An excavation found post holes and what may be the remains of ritual fires.

Goseck has been dubbed the German Stonehenge, though it is twice as old as the Stonehenge megalithic circle in southern England and has no stones. The original wood rotted away long ago, but new palisades, or wooden walls, were constructed
at Goseck this year.

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Midwinter sunset at Castlerigg

This photo of the sunset from Stone 1 to near Stone 29 taken on the 31st December 1994 demonstrates well the problem of waterlogging due to mass visitors sealing the surface. I suggested that a narrow drainage trench was dug and used as a chance for archaeological observation. It was turned down for two reasons. Firstly only the stones themselves are under the control of English Heritage, the ground around them is controlled by the National Trust, and secondly, because the advisory archaeologist did not like the idea of a narrow trench, so did not push the idea. Sadly the flood water has now caused a cist to fall in, judging by its size and shape.

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Very ancient Brits are cognitive gold in the swamp

The portal node here to a project called Ancient Human Occupation of Britain is a quintessential example of how the freshest, most authoritative knowledge self-forms on the Internet. The purpose of the blog is to bring notice to websites like this one and to celebrate their profound value for education.

This AHOB website is a mirror of the collaboration of archaeologists, palaeontologists, and geologists at a number of different British Institutes, including the Natural History Museum and the British Museum — and we can all watch as they work to understand the earliest people of Britain. This AHOB homepage is also the center node of an interactive network among scientists, institutions, and resources that have interest and materials on the subject. The project is a better roadmap to the study of the ancient human occupation of Britain than could be found anywhere else online or off line.

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Eröffnung des rekonstruierten Sonnenobeservatorium bei Goseck

Am 21. Dezember 2005 wird des neu rekonstruierte Observatorium der Öffentlichkeit vorgestellt. Die von einem Wall mit Graben und zwei hölzernen Palisaden umgebene Kreisgrabenanlage wurde in den Jahren 2003 und 2004 ausgegraben und in den letzten Monaten vollständig am authentischen Fundort wieder errichtet.

Da der Südost- und der Südwesteingang auf den Sonnenaufgang, bzw. -untergang am Tag der Wintersonnenwende ausgerichtet sind, wird der knapp 7000 Jahre alte Komplex als Sonnenobservatorium interpretiert. Wahrscheinlich hatte er gleichzeitig eine Funktion als überregionaler Versammlungs- und „Marktplatz“.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The ancient city of Aptera

A very nice Website giving information about the ancient city of Aptera.

View the site...

Neolithic bone found on beach

A GRISLY find on a beach sparked a police investigation.

Officers were drafted in to make a detailed search after a dog walker found part of a human skull, which a hospital consultant considered to be recent.

The grey, dish-shaped bone found on Coatham Beach, Redcar, east Cleveland, had formed the back of the skull of a man who was less than 30 when he died, but tests revealed that he died 5,230 years ago.

Marine growth on the fragment suggested it had been in the sea for some time and experts believe it probably came from an ancient burial ground - possibly a coastal bog burial - which has been eroded by the sea.

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Shedding light on dark age of Cyprus archaeology

A bracelet and a sickle made of stone are among recent archaeological finds that may shed light on the dark age of Cypriot archaeology between the earliest evidence of human presence on the island at 10,000 BCE and the appearance of the first villages from around 8,200 BCE.

An archaeological survey focusing on the elucidation of the Early Neolithic Period was this year undertaken by the Universities of Cyprus and Toronto with promising results. The project investigated lithic scatter sites located between the villages of Lymbia and Agrokipia and established that hunters and food gatherers covered long distances in search of subsistence.
In all, 11 such sites as well as 14 chert sources were investigated, yielding 11,000 chipped stone and ground artifacts.

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Vandals painted the Swastika Stone

To the west of Ilkley, overlooking the Wharfe Valley (England), vandals have used white paint to circle the late Bronze Age design of the Swastika Stone, perhaps the best known prehistoric site in the area. Spiked railings are not enough to protect it, it seems. The pattern of abuse and neglect continues on rock art all over Ilkley Moor. According to the Heritage Action group, action must be taken before these fragile sites are lost forever, like Bradup stone circle that lay just three kilometers southwest of the Twelve Apostles but is now completely gone. Or Weecher stone circle roughly the same distance to the southeast, which was removed at the turn of the 20th century.

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ARCHAEOLOGY: Hospital dig is a dead end

THE whereabouts of a medieval hospital in Peterborough still remains a mystery after an archaeological dig failed to unearth any clues.
A team from York Archaeological Trust (YAT) were commissioned to investigate the Westgate area of Peterborough city centre ahead of the the proposed £400 million North Westgate development.

At the opening of the first trench last month, city archaeologist Ben Robinson, who is based at Peterborough Museum, hoped to find the remains of a medieval hospital.

He explained that archaeologists know of a medieval hospital in the Westgate area of Peterborough, but aren't sure of its exact location.

He said: "We know there was a hospital that dated back to 1100, but the earliest map we have is from 1610, and, by that time, the hospital was gone."

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3-D Images Give New Life to Old Shipwrecks

It's no nightingale, but a new seismic technology nicknamed Chirp is making music for the ears of archaeologists interested in the wrecks of sunken ships.

Named for the bird-like blips it makes in action, GeoChirp 3-D is able to generate three-dimensional images of just about anything lying beneath the sea floor, including shipwrecks hidden under years of muck and sand build-up.

Chirp is "a seismic system that works by firing sound waves at the seafloor and measuring the reflections as they bounce back from objects and different rock layers in the seabed," writes the U.K.'s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in a recent edition of its quarterly publication Newsline.

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Romans may have learned from Chinese Great Wall: archaeologists

The construction of the Roman Limes was quite possibly influenced by the concept of the Great Wall in China, though the two great buildings of the world are far away from each other, said archaeologists and historians.

Although there is no evidence that the two constructions had any direct connections, indirect influence from the Great Wall on the Roman Limes is certain, said Visy Zsolt, a professor with the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology of the University of Pecs in Hungary.

Visy made the remarks in an interview with Xinhua as he attended an international conference in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province recently, and his opinion was shared by some Chinese and foreign scholars.

The Roman Limes are Europe's largest archaeological monument, consisting of sections of the border line of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent in the 2nd century AD.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

German hostage freed in Iraq

A German woman held hostage in Iraq has been freed, Germany's foreign minister said Sunday.

Susanne Osthoff, a 43-year-old archaeologist, was kidnapped November 25, along with her Iraqi driver.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier read a statement Sunday indicating that the driver has not been freed.

He did not say what events led to Osthoff's release, but he said she is safe in the German Embassy in Baghdad.

Osthoff, a convert to Islam, has lived in Iraq for 10 years and served in various aid projects.

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University will investigate "mysterious" square in Landen

The archaeological department of K.U.Leuven will initiate archaeological research in a field in Landen (prov. Flemish Brabant). A recent aerial picture of the terrain shows a square, indicating the presence of a construction. According to professor Marc Lodewijckx, the square probably represents four ditches, surrounding a fortification from the 16th or 17th century. Lodewijckx hopes to start excavations at the site in April 2006.

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Devon treasure hunters strike a rich seam

This is the hoard of treasure dug up around Devon - and it's set to earn a windfall for the metal detector enthusiasts who found it.

The Viking gold ingot, silver gilt dress hook, silver huntsman's whistle and medieval gold and sapphire ring have all been officially declared treasure and have become the property of the Crown.

The finders will now be rewarded for handing over the items at 'market value', which has yet to be decided. The Viking cast gold ingot, found in Wembury, was said to be particularly rare.

The artefacts are certain to be sent to museums across the South West, including possibly Plymouth City Museum. All were found by metal detector enthusiasts, including three members of the South Hams Metal Detecting Club.

Plymouth coroner Nigel Meadows held a formal hearing to rule that the items were treasure trove and hand them over to the State.

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German archaeologist abducted in Iraq is free, says Berlin

A German archaeologist kidnapped by gunmen in Iraq three weeks ago is free and her driver should shortly be released, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a news conference on Sunday.

Susanne Osthoff, 43, who had spent more than a decade working on excavations in Iraq, disappeared heading north from Baghdad with the driver on November 25.

"I'm pleased to announce today, also on behalf of the German chancellor, that Mrs Susanne Osthoff is no longer in the hands of the kidnappers. She is in the safe care of the German embassy in Baghdad," Steinmeier said, adding she was in good health.

Steinmeier said the kidnappers had also announced that they would release the driver.

He declined to comment on how or under what conditions Osthoff, the first German to be kidnapped in Iraq, had been freed.

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German hostage free and in sound health in Iraq

German archaeologist Susanne Osthoff, who was held hostage in Iraq for more than three weeks, is free and in relatively "good health", German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

He said Osthoff, 43, was at the German embassy in Baghdad and that her driver who was kidnapped with her was also expected to be released.

"The kidnappers have announced that they would also release her driver. We are very happy about this outcome," the minister told a press conference.

"After all the weeks of waiting and uncertainty we share the joy of her family and friends whole-heartedly."

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Tahsin Ozguc, 89, Is Dead; Archaeologist Who Worked Sites in Turkey

Tahsin Ozguc, an eminent Turkish archaeologist whose digs in Anatolia documented the intermingling of Bronze Age cultures and commerce in what is now central Turkey, died on Oct. 28 in Ankara. He was 89.

His death was announced on the Web site of Ankara University, but was only recently brought to The Times's attention.

For more than 50 years Dr. Ozguc, a professor of archaeology and former dean and rector at Ankara University, led the excavation of Kultepe, the ancient Kanesh, near today's Kayseri. Situated on an ancient trade route, Kanesh flourished as the principal known settlement of Assyrian merchants among the Indo-European peoples of central Anatolia, who eventually united into the powerful Hittite empire.

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German TV Says Hostage in Iraq Is Freed

A German archaeologist kidnapped in Iraq last month with her driver has been freed, a German television station said Sunday, quoting the woman's brother.

N-tv quoted Robert Osthoff as saying, "My sister is free." He said he had "no idea" how she was freed.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was to hold a press conference but ministry officials had no comment as journalists waited for it to begin.

Susanne Osthoff and her driver disappeared Nov. 25 in northern Iraq. Days later, the two were shown in a videotape blindfolded and sitting on a floor, with militants one armed with a rocket-propelled grenade standing beside them. The captors threatened to kill the hostages unless Germany stops dealing with the Iraqi government.

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‘Incredible’ Pyrgos discoveries

DISCOVERIES at the ancient site of Pyrgos Mavroraki, near Limassol, are revolutionising knowledge of the Bronze Age and have been described as ‘incredible’ by the archaeologist carrying out the work.

Maria Rosaria Belgiorno says that Pyrgos is probably the most important ancient site yet found in Cyprus and has produced evidence for the first time that olive oil was used as a fuel in copper production.

Belgiorno told a meeting in Nicosia that four different architectural units had been uncovered during five seasons of excavations at Pyrgos/Mavroraki, a site that spans the period from around 2350BC to 1850BC.

The site, Belgiorno said, was an industrial complex producing luxury items such as perfumes and textiles dyed with purple and blue indigo.

The excavations were carried out by a team of scientists from the National Council for Research under Belgiorno’s direction.

"Around 2,000 copper slag and bronze objects, stone tools and moulds have been found," she said, noting that many had been chemically analysed and that copper, tin, lead, zinc, arsenic, silver, nickel, iron, sulphur, and silicon had been found.

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Rain closes Nero's golden palace

The palace of the Roman emperor Nero is to close after days of heavy rains in Rome threatened to bring down parts of the building, officials said.

"Safety is no longer guaranteed" at the Domus Aurea, or House of Gold, Culture Minister Rocco Buttiglione said.

It is unclear how long the major tourist attraction will be closed, but Mr Buttiglione said it could be shut for more than two years.

It reopened in 1999, after being shut for 18 years for restoration work.

It was briefly closed to the public again in 2001, after part of a ceiling collapsed.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Ancient Greece

The primary focus of the well-presented and easy-to-use website 'Ancient Greece' is the art, architecture and archaeology of ancient Greece. Three key locations are discussed: the Athenian acropolis, Delphi and Crete. Explanatory text describes in detail the construction and appearance of a range of key buildings. The Parthenon (fifth century BC) is particularly well-covered, with other Athenian buildings described here including the Propylaia, Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike. Highlights of the section on Delphi include the Temple of Apollo, treasuries, theatre, stadium and tholos. The coverage of Crete includes the Minoan sites (c 3000-1000BC) Knossos, Malia, Phaistos, Zakros and Palekastro and the classical/Hellenistic sites of Itanos, Tripitos and Xerokampos. The website is richly illustrated with images of ancient art, archaeological finds and modern images of the sites discussed. Also featured are satellite images, maps and plans of key areas, and the website gives links to the sites of modern museums where ancient treasures can be found. Overall this is an excellent resource for Greek archaeology.

(Humbul Humanities Hub)

View the Website ...

New row erupts over dig at site near Henges

CAMPAIGNERS have strongly criticised the way archaeological work has been carried out at a proposed quarry site close to the 5,000- year-old Thornborough Henges.

The latest row comes after a second dig was undertaken recently at the Ladybridge Farm site, where quarry firm Tarmac wants to extract sand and gravel, to evaluate further its archaeological importance.

But the Friends of Thornborough claim finds have been lost or destroyed in the process.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Mike Sanders said that the investigation went ahead in wet weather conditions which was detrimental to the important archaeological site.

“The topsoil was mechanically stripped with quarry diggers and all subsoil features excavated by hand in atrocious wet weather,” he said. “Only a fraction of the soil was subjected to the careful sieving necessary to identify 5,000 years-old remains from the Stone Age.

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Sparks fly over flint wall future

The future of a historically important flint wall is under threat because a council wants to build a new entrance to a football club's ground.

English Heritage said the wall "preserves the line of the precinct wall of Lewes Priory", but it also stands outside the home of Lewes FC.

Local historian Dr John Lawrence is campaigning to preserve the wall in the East Sussex town.

The council said it was continuing to seek an "acceptable solution".

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Tempers Heat Up at Trial in Italy on Antiquities

Tempers became heated today as the Italian state presented new evidence in its case against Marion True, a former antiquities curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, who is on trial here on charges of dealing in looted antiquities.

Ms. True's defense lawyers shouted out objections when Maurizio Pellegrini, a document and photography analyst with the Italian Culture Ministry who testified as an expert witness for the state, began commenting on correspondence between Ms. True and the antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici, a co-defendant in the case who was sentenced to 10 years in prison last December. He is appealing that decision.

Judge Gustavo Barbalinardo repeatedly called the court to order as the defense team objected that Mr. Pellegrini was "just parroting the prosecutor's conclusions," as Francesco Isolabella, a lawyer for Ms. True, put it.

Neither Ms. True nor her co-defendant, the American dealer Robert Hecht, was in the courtroom today.

In one letter cited by Mr. Pellegrini, Ms. True thanks Mr. Medici for donating the head of a kouros (a statue representing youth) to the Getty, and for providing information on the provenance of three fragmentary proto-Corinthian olpai, or pitchers, in the museum's collection. Ms. True wrote that it was "helpful" to know that the pieces "came from Cerveteri and the area of Monte Abatone," an area in central Italy rich in archaeological sites. "The fact that Medici was able to be so specific about the provenance of the pieces means he's been in contact with the robbers who raided the tomb," the prosecutor, Paolo Ferri, said. "And it shows that True knows of these contacts."

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G-String-Clad Gladiator Found

Divers exploring a river near a former Roman Empire fort and settlement in Britain have found a piece of pottery that depicts the backside of a rather buff gladiator wielding a whip and wearing nothing but a G-string, according to British researchers.

The image represents the first known depiction of a gladiator in such revealing attire. It adds to the evidence that ancient Romans viewed gladiators not only as fearless warriors, but also as sex symbols.

Philippa Walton, who analyzed the object and is a finds liaison officer for the Cambridgeshire County Council, described the artifact to Discovery News. "The find is a small shard of pottery possibly from a drinking beaker made in Britain in the 3rd century A.D.," Walton said. "It depicts a man wearing a G-string and possibly holding a whip and is likely therefore to represent a gladiator."

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Unsuspecting workmen have unearthed mysterious medieval artefacts below Lichfield's Cross Keys car park.

Plans to construct the controversial multi-storey car park were passed by Lichfield District Council in October and work began on the site last month. But in recent days, nearby residents noticed that development had stopped, with workmen apparently staring and pointing at structures within the site.

It turns out that the council's contractors had unwittingly unearthed some treasures from Lichfield's historic past.

"Whilst undertaking the necessary excavations for the redevelopment of the Cross Keys car park, as had always been agreed, archaeologists were present, and have subsequently identified a number of items of interest," Councillor Neil Roberts, cabinet member for development services, told the Mercury.

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Two Interesting Websites

Two interesting websites have recently been brought to our notice.
The first is Thetford Forest Archaeology, which contains the results of a one-person archaeological survey carried out in the forest. The site is well laid out and could serve as a model for similar projects. You can find it at:

The second site is the Student Archaeology Club for the University of Zagreb. The site is presented in English as well as Croatian, and there are a number of worth-while sections, including some useful publications available as PDF files. You can find the site at:

(You can also find links to these sites in the sidebar to the left)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Child burial in amphora

By the eastern wall of the Diocletian's Palace, in
Split, archaeologists found graves that are dated from
the mid 4th century onwards. The total of 15 skeletons
were found in 3 graves which, together with 7 graves
that were found a month ago, represent the first
discovery of earlychristian graves just by the walls
of the Palace, from the early period of Diocletian's

Graves that were found belonged to "ordinary people",
most of the graves were made of stone blocks, with one
under the tegula's. Also, archaeologists found a child
burial in amphora.
Archaeologists believe that the cemetery could be
linked with the nearby church of St. Catherine of
Alexandria, an earlychristian virgin-martyr. It is
believed that the church was situated near the site.

Many thanks to Andrea Devlahovic for translating this article and sending it to the Weblog.

The full article (in Croatian) can be found at the portal

Maeshowe winter solstice as viewed by Neolithic man

THE GREAT mound of Maeshowe has dominated the skyline of Orkney for almost 5,000 years. It is a spectacular sight and a visit to the chambered tomb provides one of the highlights for visitors to the Orkney islands. Today, as we stoop to enter and walk down the low 11 metre passage to the chamber with its massive stonework, we are reminded of the ingenuity of those original builders.

Its apparent uniformity masks a long and complex history of change. The story of Maeshowe began at midwinter around 3,000 BC and even today it is the winter solstice that really brings the monument to life.

It was, no doubt, used throughout the year, but the most important time was the midwinter solstice on 21 December. Around this time the setting sun hangs low in the sky and shines directly along the passage to strike across the main chamber into the rear cell. A shaft of light pierces the monument. The angle of the passage is designed to allow a leeway for several days either side of the solstice. So even if midwinter is cloudy, there are likely to be clear days that allow the passage of the sun. The phenomenon attracts people from across the world to this place of ancient worship.

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Archaeology unit faces takeover by firm

Norfolk's archaeology team is hoping to lay the foundations for a prosperous future, if plans for a new commercial tie-up get the go-ahead.

In the last two years, the Norfolk Archaeology Unit (NAU) has dug itself out of a decade of debt after amassing a deficit of nearly £1m.

A hard-hitting report by the district auditor prompted a shake-up of the system to put the unit on a firm financial footing.

Now it makes a surplus of around £75,000 and County Hall is proposing its takeover by NPS - the authority's private trading wing.

Currently, the unit has 32 staff and an annual turnover of £1.3m and there are no plans to cut jobs as part of the proposal.

Vanessa Trevelyan, head of Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service, said the NAU was in a strong position to grow and expand its operations and the partnership would give the unit the financial muscle to bid for contracts across the UK.

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Mediterranean ceramics discovered in Aalst

The archaeologists working at the Hopmarkt in Aalst (prov. Eastern Flanders) opened several new trenches during the last weeks. Several interesting finds were retrieved from the fill of a pool. An anthropomorphic flute in ceramics was completely preserved. A part of a jug in Italian majolica was found as well. These finds can be dated in the 15th century. A small bowl probably represents an exceptional example of Merida pottery (16th-17th century, from Portugal?). Excavations at the Hopmarkt will continue until the end of 2005.

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The archaeology of York web series no. 3

The archaeology of York web series no. 3 : Anglo-Scandinavian and Roman remains at 28–29 High Ousegate, York

The website "Anglo-Scandinavian and Roman Remains at 28–29 High Ousegate, York" is the third full excavation report in The Archaeology of York Web Series by the York Archaeological Trust. It focuses on an archaeological watching brief and excavation at 28–29 High Ousegate, York, carried out in the summer of 2002. ... This website uses SVG graphics and many links open in embedded or new windows. As a result, the navigation is not easy: inexperienced users may have some problems at first.

(Humbul Humanities Hub)

Visit the web site ...

See also:

41–49 Walmgate, York, UK and Beyond the Walls of York

Early humans colonized northern Europe 700,000 years ago

Early Man colonized northern Europe around 700,000 years ago, some 200,000 years sooner than previously thought, British archaeologists believe.

The finding will rewrite the odyssey of Homo erectus, the ancestor of modern man, who ventured out of Africa and spread northwards into Eurasia.

The established timeline has these humans colonising the southern Caucasus about 1.8 million years ago, then venturing westwards along the Mediterranean, reaching Spain and Italy around 800,000 years ago.

But, until now, it was thought that bitter cold from a lingering Ice Age thwarted these Stone Age pioneers from moving northwards for hundreds of thousands of years.

The earliest evidence of human settlement north of the Alps and the Pyrenees dates from about half a million years ago, thanks to findings at Mauer in Germany and Boxgrove in southern England.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Bronze workshop discovered in Tienen

Archaeologists in Tienen (prov. Flemish-Brabant) have unearthed the remains of a Gallo-Roman building with a bronze workshop from the second century AD. Inside the building furnaces of different types were identified; they represent the different steps in the bronze production process. The building was renovated several times, testified by several floor levels. Remains of the defensive ditch which surrounded Tienen in the middle ages, were discovered as well.

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Museum guests travel back to London life in the Middle Ages

Thoughts of the Middle Ages often bring to mind knights, castles and plague, but a new Museum of London gallery reveals much more about this tumultuous time.

Visitors can jump into medieval London when they try on a replica of a medieval headdress, face the challenges of village life with an interactive computer game and see artifacts including the remnants of a Merton Priory stained glass window smashed when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries during the Reformation.

The new gallery, which replaces a medieval exhibit in place since the museum's opening in 1976, begins in the year 410 with the end of Roman rule and continues to 1558, when Elizabeth I became queen and the upheaval of the Reformation came to an end.

Redesigning the gallery gave the museum an opportunity to make displays more accessible to audiences with fewer text panels and more interactivity, assistant curator Meriel Jeater said.

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1630s font drawing found in a barrow

A 17TH-CENTURY design for the baptismal font at Canterbury Cathedral has been found in a wheelbarrow at a market in London.

The drawing, made in ink and watercolour on vellum in the 1630s, during the reign of Charles I, was spotted in the Portobello Road. The finder, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “It was literally lying out on a barrow in the open air and it was spitting with rain, which is not good for vellum.”

Recognising its significance, he bought it “for a song” and took it to Christopher Gibbs, a leading Old Master sculpture dealer in London, who sold it to the Victoria and Albert Museum for £79,000.

The V&A’s purchase was made possible with a grant from the National Art Collections Fund, Britain’s largest art charity.

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Lowestoft Man rewrites history

Stone tools show that humans lived in Suffolk 700,000 years ago
IT IS better known as a run-down fishing port that is home to the camp rock band the Darkness, but Lowestoft was yesterday revealed to be the unlikely cradle of British civilisation.

The discovery of a set of stone tools near the Suffolk town has shown that ancient human beings were living in Britain 200,000 years earlier than has generally been thought, making Lowestoft Man the first known Briton.

Sophisticated dating techniques have proved that the chipped flints were made about 700,000 years ago, making them by far the earliest evidence of human activity in northern Europe.

Remains belonging to Homo heidelbergensis, an older relative of Homo sapiens, have previously been discovered in Boxgrove, West Sussex, and in Mauer, Germany, but these sites have been dated to only 500,000 years ago.

Scientists hailed the find, at Pakefield, just outside Lowestoft, as “Stone Age gold” that fundamentally rewrites the history of how early Man migrated across Europe.

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Lowestoft, home to northern Europe's earliest identified humans

· Scientists have unearthed a collection of fossilised stone tools in East Anglia marking the earliest evidence of human activity in northern Europe

Scientists have unearthed a collection of fossilised stone tools in East Anglia marking the earliest evidence of human activity in northern Europe. The finding puts our ancestors on the map of what is now Britain some 700,000 years ago, when Suffolk was warmed by a Mediterranean climate and sabre-tooth cats, elephants and giant deer roamed free.

Previously, researchers believed early humans did not cross the land bridge that once connected Britain to the European continent until 200,000 years later.

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Stone Age gold will rewrite history book

An extraordinary prehistoric collection of flint tools discovered on the north Suffolk coastline has proved that humans were in northern Europe 200,000 years earlier than believed.

Scientists last night confirmed that the archaeological dig at Pakefield, near Lowestoft, will force historians to rewrite the history books.

Up to now it had been believed man first arrived north of the Alps and Pyrenees and into this country 450,000-500,000 years ago.

But the dig, prompted by the initial findings of a collector and amateur archaeologist, has uncovered 32 pieces of worked flint, which have been dated to 700,000 years ago.

The EDP first reported the potential of the discoveries back in December 2001, some 18 months after work first began on the site.

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700,000-year-old tools found in Suffolk

THE remarkable discovery of stone tools on the East Anglian coast has shown that human activity was present in northern Europe 200,000 years earlier than first thought, scientists have revealed.

Working at low tides, archaeologists excavated 32 pieces of worked flint from exposed geological beds along the shoreline near Pakefield, north Suffolk.

New techniques have allowed scientists to date the tools to around 700,000 years ago.

Experts believe that at the time the tools were made the climate in East Anglia was balmy and the environment home to a wide range of animals and plants including lions, hippos and elephants.

The findings are published in this week's Nature magazine and have been described as “Stone Age gold”.

About 700,000 years ago, Britain was connected to continental Europe and large rivers that drained central and eastern England meandered sluggishly into the North Sea basin.

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A TINY "time capsule" unlocked by York University scientists has shown that our ancestors were living in Britain many thousands of years earlier than was previously thought.

Early humans were believed to have colonised Northern Europe 500,000 years ago.
But tiny fragments of fossilised snail shells found alongside primitive flint tools in East Anglia date back about 700,000 years.

Matthew Collins and Kirsty Penkman at York are members of an international team, headed by the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (AHOB) project, which studied worked flint flakes discovered two years ago in a cliff at Pakefield near Lowestoft in Suffolk.

The York scientists were called in to confirm the antiquity of the artefacts using a newly-refined technique of amino acid analysis to measure the extend of deterioration of proteins in fossils found close to the flints – in this case, opercula, the tiny trap-doors that close a snail's shell.

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Humans in England May Go Back 700,000 Years

Ancient tools found in Britain show that humans lived in northern Europe 200,000 years earlier than previously thought, at a time when the climate was warm enough for lions, elephants and saber tooth tigers to also roam what is now England.

Scientists said Wednesday that 32 black flint artifacts, found in river sediments in Pakefield in eastern England, date back 700,000 years and represent the earliest unequivocal evidence of human presence north of the Alps.

Scientists had long held that humans had not migrated north from the relatively warm climates of the Mediterranean region until half a million years ago.

"The discovery that early humans could have existed this far north this long ago was startling," said Prof. Chris Stringer, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum, one of four British scientists involved in the study who announced the finding at a news conference in London. Their discovery is detailed in the scientific journal Nature.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Historic sites give economy boost

Heritage sites in the North East bring in more than £74m to the local economy every year, a study has found.

Research showed there are more than six million visitors to the region's historic houses, archaeological remains and museums every year.

The sector also supports 7,345 jobs, the Historic Environment Forum said.

The study concluded that heritage makes an important contribution to the economy, society, and quality of life in the region.

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Lottery cash for medieval ship

The immediate future of a medieval ship was secured today with an award of nearly £800,000 in lottery money.

The Heritage Lottery Fund cash will allow experts to examine the timbers of the 15th century Newport ship and uncover its origins and history.

The £799,950 grant will also fund exhibitions for school children, as well as talks, workshops and exhibitions for the public.

The ship was discovered on the banks of the River Usk in Newport in 2002 during excavation work for the city’s £16 million Riverfront and Arts Centre.

It is the only intact medieval ship to be found in Britain, and is widely considered to be one of the most important archaeological finds of recent times.

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Lottery cash helps medieval ship

The team studying one of Wales' most important archaeological finds will receive an extra £799,500 in funding.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant will help pay for the project to examine the medieval ship buried in the banks of the River Usk, Newport.

The money will also fund public exhibitions, talks and workshops about the 15th century ship.

Builders uncovered the Newport Ship in 2002, during excavation for the city's Riverfront and Arts Centre.

The team will record and analyse the 1,700 timbers in the ship using state-of-the-art digital technology.

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Roman forts had a woman's touch

Women lived and worked in Roman military forts, according to a telltale trail of lost hairpins and beads.

This dispels the notion the forts were male-only domains, says archaeologist Dr Penelope Allison of the Australian National University.

She presents her analysis of the archaeological record at the Australasian Archaeometry Conference in Canberra this week.

"These were not segregated communities," says Allison, who has been studying evidence from 1st and 2nd century forts on the western frontier of the Roman Empire.

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Location: Israel, Palestine Length: 27 min.

The Book of Matthew relates that Herod, King of the Jews, ordered the slaughter of the innocents to eliminate a potential challenger to his throne. Then came the birth of Jesus Christ, marked in our day by Christmas. This video describes the life and times of Herod the Great, builder-king of Judea, who ushered in a new age for Judaism and ironically laid the groundwork for the emergence of Christianity. An enigmatic ruler "with larceny in his heart and blueprints in his veins," King Herod strove to make Judea a showcase of the Roman Empire.

Watch the video ...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Frank Stubbings

Frank Stubbings, who died on October 29 at the age of 90, was the last of a distinguished group of British scholars who began a lifetime's work in Greek Bronze Age archaeology before the Second World War.

Vincent Desborough, Vronwy Hankey and Helen Waterhouse were fellow students with Stubbings at the British School at Athens; all were taught or influenced by Professor Alan Wace, the excavator of Mycenae, to work on the Mycenaean civilisation, primarily its highly attractive and widely exported pottery.

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Grant to Bronze Age copper mine in Wales

A Bronze Age copper mine in Wales is to be turned into a major tourist attraction thanks to a major EU grant. Amlwch Industrial Heritage Trust was awarded an Interreg IIIA grant of £385,000 to raise the profile of Mynydd Parys near Amlwch, Anglesey. It includes £75,000 from Anglesey County Council and £20,000 from the Environment Agency.

The old copper mine will be marketed as a tourist destination with the hope of bringing economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits to the area. The trust linked up with Avoca in Ireland's County Wicklow, which has a shared industrial heritage and mining history, to attract the grant.

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The terrorist in the art gallery

In New York the Metropolitan Museum of Art is considering what amounts to a plea bargain with Italian authorities for having acquired antiquities that Italy says were stolen. In Los Angeles the longtime curator for ancient art at the J. Paul Getty Museum has resigned to face trial in Rome on charges of conspiracy to receive stolen artifacts. In Iraq a German archaeologist has been kidnapped by insurgents.

Having led the U.S. investigation into the looting of the Iraq Museum in April 2003, I find none of these events surprising. Indeed, the patina of gentility we usually associate with the world of antiquities has always rested atop a solid core of criminal activity. But it's getting worse: The cozy cabal of academics, dealers and collectors who turn a blind eye to the illicit side of the trade is in effect supporting the terrorists killing U.S. troops in Iraq.

Although most countries recognize the importance of preserving the world's cultural heritage, none has devoted sufficient resources to tracking down stolen artifacts. Most international cultural organizations are content to issue proclamations. As for those in the art community, some feel that, while technically illegal, the market in purloined antiquities is benign, victimless, as long as it brings the art to those who can properly appreciate it, namely themselves.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005


Chichester District Museum is on the move following the local council’s decision to give the building a new venue.

Principal Curator, Dr Ian Friel told the 24 Hour Museum that the move has come about because of the need to expand displays and raise the museum up to 21st century standards.

"Whilst it was a very good location for its time," he said of the current venue, "the museum, over 40 years, has rather outgrown the premises and the building itself would be very difficult and expensive to convert to modern standards."

"By moving elsewhere," he added, "we can show more of the collection and improve public access."

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Plentiful findings in excavations of Lower City of Amathus

EXCAVATIONS at the Lower City of Amathus brought to the surface an inscription on a limestone slab that refers to Emperor Theodosius, pottery, Byzantine and Roman coins, wall painting fragments, inscribed handles of Rhodian amphoras, terracottas and a copper bell, as well as a large amount of stone tools.

The findings were uncovered during the fourteenth season of the new series of excavations in the area conducted by the Department of Antiquities of the Ministry of Communications and Works, which lasted six weeks and were directed by the Director of the Department of Antiquities Dr Pavlos Flourentzos, who was assisted by Kyriacos Kapitanis and Demos Theodorou, both members of the technical staff of the Department of Antiquities.

According to an official press release, since the goal of unifying the area of the ancient Agora with that of the Administrative Building had been accomplished in the past, this year's primary aim was the excavation of the floors within the areas of various building complexes.

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Fate of four hostages in Iraq unknown as deadline passes

candle-lit vigil has been held in Munich for a German archaeologist taken hostage in Iraq over two weeks ago. Susanne Osthoff was snatched with her Iraqi driver. The kidnappers threaten to kill her unless the German government cuts all its ties with Iraq's government.

The fate of four western peace workers who have also been abducted in Iraq remains unknown as a deadline set for their killing passed yesterday. A group calling itself Swords of Truth is holding the two Canadians, a Briton and an American. It is demanding the release of thousands of prisoners held in Iraqi jails.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Become member of the 'Fellowship of Kelemantia'

Kelemantia is the ancient name of the Roman fortress of Iža, Slovakia. In the summer of 2005, an international team of Poles, Slovakians and Belgians participated in the excavations. Archaeologist Bernard Van Daele and conservator Katleen Vandenbranden now established the 'Fellowship of Kelemantia' to support further research of the fortress. If you wish more information or if you are interested in becoming a member, additional information can be found here (Word-document).

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Predisposed towards battleaxes, but never understood why? The answer maybe in your genes.

On Sunday December 11 2005, volunteers willing to spare a little blood will be able to join in a nationwide project that aims to find out how many of us has a little Viking, Saxon, Angle, Celt, Jute, Roman or Norman in them.

The event at Newcastle’s Life Science Centre is being run by the production company behind a new Channel 4 television series investigating the genetic heritage of our population.

Tracking the progress of the Oxford University-run People of the British Isles project, the series will look for the biological influence of ancient colonisers of the UK.

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Ancient Perperikon to Have Sewage, Electricity

The European Commission will allocate EUR 145,000 for the improvement of infrastructure at the ancient sanctuary of Perperikon, in the heart of the Rhodopes.

The funds, to be doled out under PHARE pre-accession program, envisages the construction of a sewage a system and electricity facilities. A part of it will be used for restoration works of the unique Thracian archeological monument and probably visitors will be able then to reach the top of it along cobbled paths.

Expectations are that the project is finalized in two years, but the road leading to the skirts of the Perperikon hill is to be ready with the opening of coming tourist season next spring.

The Fortress of Perperikon is located 20 km north-east of the city of Kurdzhali, south Bulgaria. The fortification, which was built in antiquity, had been continuously developed and reconstructed through the Middle Ages.

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Plentiful findings in excavations of Lower City of Amathus

EXCAVATIONS at the Lower City of Amathus brought to the surface an inscription on a limestone slab that refers to Emperor Theodosius, pottery, Byzantine and Roman coins, wall painting fragments, inscribed handles of Rhodian amphoras, terracottas and a copper bell, as well as a large amount of stone tools.

The findings were uncovered during the fourteenth season of the new series of excavations in the area conducted by the Department of Antiquities of the Ministry of Communications and Works, which lasted six weeks and were directed by the Director of the Department of Antiquities Dr Pavlos Flourentzos, who was assisted by Kyriacos Kapitanis and Demos Theodorou, both members of the technical staff of the Department of Antiquities.

According to an official press release, since the goal of unifying the area of the ancient Agora with that of the Administrative Building had been accomplished in the past, this year's primary aim was the excavation of the floors within the areas of various building complexes.

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Getty trial spotlights Italy tomb raiders

Say 'tomb raider' to Francesco Racano and he doesn't think of a Hollywood action movie hero. He fights the real thing.

The 51-year-old archaeologist has worked for more than half his life at Arpi, a sprawling Greco-Roman necropolis in Italy's deep south that is bigger than most small villages.

Arpi has the kind of embarrassment of riches few countries can boast -- hundreds of tombs buried close to the surface and brimming with treasures.

But Racano rarely gets to discover these riches. By the time he reaches many of the graves, they have been ransacked.

"This is one of the most brutalized digs in Italy. The tomb raiders are here almost every day," he said, looking across the arid site in the Puglia region in Italy's heel.

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Phokaia excavations reveal mystery of Athena

Griffins thought to be guarding the ancient Temple of Athena might become the symbol of Foça along with Mediterranean seals, says archaeologist Özyiğit

İZMİR - Turkish Daily News

Sculptures of horses and griffins as old as 2,600 years were discovered during excavations at the Temple of Athena located at the ancient city of Phokaia, which is today within the borders of İzmir's Foça district.

The finds reveal that the sculptures were used as main decorative items for terraces at the ancient city, the goddess of which was Athena, and that horses and griffins were the sacred animals of the goddess.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

The fate of hostage Susanne Osthoff and the role of the German government

Concern is growing over the fate of 43-year-old German archaeologist Susanne Osthoff, who was taken hostage in Iraq along with her Iraqi driver on November 25. There has been no news of her whereabouts since the passing of the kidnappers’ December 2 deadline for meeting their demands.

Mrs. Osthoff has been active in humanitarian aid in Iraq for many years. She speaks fluent Arabic and was already familiar with the country during her studies in the 1980s. At the beginning of the 1990s she helped organize and accompanied the delivery of relief supplies to Iraq at a time when the country was hard hit by UN economic sanctions. Her activities were aimed at combating hunger, poverty and a lack of medicines, particularly for children in remote regions of the country.

She was adamantly opposed to the US war against Iraq. Along with the immense human suffering arising from the war, she was deeply indignant about the brutal destruction and plundering of irreparable cultural artifacts, which the American occupiers did nothing to prevent. Two years ago, together with friends, she intensified her efforts for humanitarian assistance. Following her marriage to an Iraqi, Mrs. Osthoff has enjoyed exceptionally good contacts in Iraq.

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21st century science harnessed to help preserve historic buildings

Famous British landmarks such as St Paul's Cathedral stand to benefit from world-leading research aiming to aid the conservation of limestone buildings.

A key element in the project is the development of highly sensitive, innovative fibre-optic sensors able to provide data about the physical and chemical processes at work in limestone blocks used in buildings.

The initiative is being undertaken by a team combining state-of-the-art expertise in Geomorphology, Physics and Civil Engineering from Queen's University Belfast, City University in London and Oxford University. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), work is due to begin at the start of January 2006.

Limestone decay caused by pollution, weather and other factors can be disfiguring and expensive to rectify, and – if left untreated – may eventually lead to a building's collapse. By radically improving understanding of how and why limestone decays, the new research will make it easier to develop better ways of tackling the problem.

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Skeleton secrets revealed by test

Experts examining an Iron Age skeleton found discovered buried beneath a medieval ship in Newport, south Wales, say it is "remarkably well preserved".

Tests on the bones, by forensic archaeologists at Lampeter University, mid Wales, have shown that they date back to 170 BC.

The bones were found three years ago, and the findings mean they are 1,500 years older than the 15th century ship.

The man is thought to have been about 5ft 8in tall and very muscular.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Untouched Roman sarcophagi found

Rome, December 6 - Italian archaeologists have found a remarkable trove of five untouched Roman sarcophagi in a burial vault outside Rome .

"It's really rare to find so many sarcophagi that have never been profaned or even opened - as can be seen by the intact lead clasps on their edges," said the head of the dig, Stefano Musco .

He said the sarcophagi dated from the II century AD and probably contained the remains of the wealthy residents of a villa that once stood in the area - now a building site on Rome's north-eastern outskirts .

All the sarcophagi are marble and all decorated, leading archaeologists to suppose they could have been made for a prominent aristocratic family .

One of them is much smaller than the others and believed to contain the remains of a small child .

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Cave paintings reveal Ice Age artists

BRITAIN’S first cave art is more than 12,800 years old, scientific testing has shown. Engravings of a deer and other creatures at Creswell Crags, in Derbyshire, have proved to be genuine Ice Age creations, and not modern fakes, as some had feared.

The engravings were found in 2003 at two caves, Church Hole and Robin Hood’s Cave, which lie close together in the Creswell gorge. Palaeolithic occupation deposits dating to the last Ice Age were excavated there in 1875-76, but the art remained unnoticed. Although the most notable finds were from 15,000-13,000 years ago, even older tools were noted, some dating to the Middle Palaeolithic between 60,000 and 40,000 years ago, others a few millennia later.

If the art was genuine, therefore, it could belong to any of these periods, although Middle Palaeolithic art is still so rare as to be highly unlikely. There are no paintings like those at Lascaux and other noted French cave art sites — or, if there were, they have vanished. Many French sites, including Lascaux, have engravings also, and the Creswell art fits into this category. The red deer and the stylised figures, which may be schematic women (as at Gönnersdorf, near Cologne) or birds, fit into continental categories of art in the Magdalenian period, which ended about 10,000 years ago; there are also enigmatic “notches” and other signs which seem to be made by humans but which do not form coherent designs.

Alistair Pike, of Bristol University, and his colleagues have now shown that the Creswell art is genuine, by analysing the thin film of stalagmite called “flowstone” which has formed over the engravings since they were made. A process known as uranium-series disequilibrium dating, which relies on the relative insolubility of the radioactive element thorium-230 compared with uranium-234 and 238, can be used to date stalagmites back to around 500,000 years ago.

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No Rescue of German Hostage Imminent

11 days after the abduction of a German archeologist and aid worker in Iraq, Berlin still has no sign from the kidnappers and is far from optimistic the hostage will be released soon.

German authorities said Monday that all channels were being used in order to establish contact but confirmed that the whereabouts of Susanne Osthoff and her Iraqi driver were still unknown.

In the German capital, the special crisis team working day and night in a bid to make contact with the kidnappers of Susanne Osthoff has so far been without any success.

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Warendepot auf dem Berg

Archäologie. - Auf einem Berg nahe der nordzyprischen Ortschaft Kral Tepesi haben Archäologen der Universität Famagusta die Überreste einer spätbronzezeitlichen Siedlung gefunden, die offenbar ein bedeutendes Handelszentrum darstellte. Bei einer ersten Grabungskampagne entdeckten die Wissenschaftler große Mengen von Tongeschirr.

"Es ist bisher der größte Fertigwarenhort, der je auf Zypern gefunden worden ist: sechsundzwanzig Stücke von mehr als fünfzehn Kilo Gewicht, das heißt also ein enormer Wert, der damals vergraben wurde. Was wir auch gleich gesehen haben, dass auf diesem Berggipfel ein kleines Plateau ist, wo sehr viele Architekturreste sichtbar waren. Das war uns dadurch sofort klar: Wir sind da nicht im Nichts, sondern sind da inmitten einer großen Siedlung drin."

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Skeleton under ship is Iron age

The remains of a skeleton found underneath a medieval ship discovered buried in the banks of the River Usk in Newport are that of an Iron age man.
Tests carried out on the bones which were found in December 2002, have shown that they date back to 170BC.

It makes the skeleton about 1,500 years older than the 15th century ship.

The man is thought to have been about 5ft 9in tall and very muscular. He was probably in his late 20s or early 30s when he died.

Experts carried out radio carbon dating on the bones which were found underneath wooden struts supporting the ship as workers carried out an excavation of the orchestra pit of the city's Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre on 11 December 2002.

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ROMA - Un ipogeo contenente dei sarcofagi marmorei, tutti decorati e intatti, con ancora integre le grappe di chiusura in piombo secondo una tipologia diffusa in epoca imperiale nel mondo romano e' il ritrovamento fatto dalla soprintendenza archeologica di Roma. Lo rende noto la stessa soprintendenza, che domani mattina ha organizzato un sopralluogo in Via di Tor Cervara, nel V municipio, in presenza del direttore responsabile dello scavo Stefano Musco.

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Greece's seas: the looters' next destination

New law opens access for traffickers to a hoard of underwater antiquities

When it was first proposed, it seemed like a good idea: open up the Greek seas to divers and create a paradise for tourists underwater. Those who backed the law never thought of it as a windfall for looters, nor did it occur to them that it might put the acquisition policies of museums under further scrutiny.

But the Greek parliament's unprecedented step last month to allow divers access to the once forbidden coastline has raised fears that archaeological riches preserved in an untouched world will be taken by ruthless thieves.

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Sacrifice theory for ship skeleton

A SKELETON found under the Newport Ship could have belonged to a man who was decapitated in a sacrificial killing, a leading archaeologist working on the project says.

But there is also the possibility that he met his end in the waters of the River Usk by drowning.

Kate Hunter, Newport Ship project leader, said there was no firm evidence that the man, discovered to be from the Iron Age, had been decapitated - but she believes he could have fallen foul of a sacrificial killing which were common during the period.

"There was not enough of the neck left to say whether it was deliberately severed or not," she said.

"The body may have been deliberately placed there or, equally likely, be the victim of drowning, whose body was washed into the channel and buried under sediment. His head could have just rolled away.

"The fact that the body is so much older than the Newport Ship means that this individual had nothing to do with the ship."

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Ancient Roman brickworks uncovered

Cesena, December 5 - An Ancient Roman brickworks in near perfect condition has been discovered in Emilia Romagna .

The complex, the largest anywhere in the region and one of the biggest in Italy, was unearthed near a canal in the central Italian town of Ronta .

"This is a truly extraordinary find," said a culture ministry spokesman. "It is so well preserved that with minimal restoration it would still work perfectly today." The site is of such importance that the consortium carrying out work on the canal has agreed to deviate its route in order to preserve the remains and allow for further excavations .

So far, archaeologists have uncovered two large rectangular ovens for baking bricks, a tiled floor that was once part of a production vat, a large terracotta tub and the remains of the walls .

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Winds change in the battle over ancient artefacts

Curators remain defiant as the 'send them home' argument gains ground, writes Hugh Eakin.

THREE years ago, the directors of some of the world's top museums, meeting in Munich, commiserated over a major annoyance: the growing demands from countries such as Greece and Italy that they return ancient artefacts.

What emerged was a defiant statement defending their collecting practices. Signed by the directors of 18 museums - from the Louvre in Paris to the Hermitage in StPetersburg to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles - the document argued that encyclopedic museums have a special mission as treasure houses of world culture, and that today's ethical standards cannot be applied to yesterday's acquisitions.

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Five Euro Coin Shows Mask of Thracian Ruler

Bulgarian archaeologist Georgi Kitov presents the new limited edition coin of 10 leva (5 Euro) during an official ceremony in the country's National Bank in Sofia, December 5, 2005. The coin, which is dedicated to the Bulgaria's ancient treasures, bears the image of a golden mask of a fifth century B.C. Thracian ruler unearthed by Kitov last year.

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160 years on, Greece honours foreign archaeologists' toil on its soil

Regarded with suspicion and sometimes hostility by a state that had mixed feelings about their presence from the start, Greece's foreign archaeology schools and institutes are now being thanked for a contribution to antiquity research spanning nearly 160 years.

From Heinrich Schliemann's Mycenaean discoveries to the reconstruction of Knossos by Sir Arthur Evans and the laborious French excavation at Delphi, archaeologists from 17 foreign schools have been instrumental in breaking new ground in the fields of Greek and Roman antiquity on Greek soil.

By way of paying homage, the Greek culture ministry on November 30 gave honourary awards to the directors of the French, German, American and British schools, which have the longest tradition of excavation in the country.

A first-ever exhibit of foreign school finds from around 50 excavation sites across the country is currently on display at the Athens Concert Hall, until January 8.

"This is the first time that we are all here together," Dominique Mulliez, director of the French School at Athens, told AFP.

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'Iron Age' skeleton found under ship

HUMAN remains found underneath a medieval ship are those of an Iron Age man, it was revealed today.

The well-preserved sailing vessel was discovered in the banks of the River Usk in Newport, south Wales, in 2002, during the construction of the city’s Riverfront theatre and arts centre.

The ship is older than the Mary Rose.

The remains of a skeleton found underneath the Newport Ship has been radio carbon-dated to the Iron Age – 170BC.

The skeleton, which is about 1,500 years older than the ship, was found underneath wooden struts supporting the 15th century vessel during its excavation in 2002.

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