Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Man Who Discovered Britain

11:00am - 11:30am
BBC Radio 4

Can you name the first man to circumnavigate Britain? No? Well, he set off in a northerly direction from Marseille in 320 BC, was a Greek merchant by trade and kept written records of his sea journey around our shores. Still struggling? His name is Pytheas and he was the Columbus of the ancient world. Why then, asks Barry Cunliffe, Professor of European History at Oxford University and presenter of this fabulous detective documentary, do we know so little about him? Cunliffe takes his own trip, amassing evidence along the way from possible landing sites on the Brittany coast to a bar in Bigbury Bay, Devon. It's enthralling to hear him try to unravel the truth, using ancient writings, maps and mathematics, as well as modern archaeology.

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British Museum returns African treasures for Kenyan exhibition

When the Kenyan curator Kiprop Lagat was invited in to the British Museum this year, he was given free rein to peruse all the 12,000 treasures in its vast eastern Africa collections.

Now, in a groundbreaking deal which could resolve decades of bickering over Britain's colonial plundering, 140 of those items are going back to Africa for the first time for a special exhibition which will open in Nairobi in the spring.

Visitors to the Kenyan show will get the chance to see wooden sculptures, silver and beaded jewellery and circumcision masks thousands of miles from their "home" in London - but much closer to the communities that made them.

"There are things here I hadn't seen before, things that were collected in Kenya," Mr Lagat said at the British Museum yesterday. "It was very exciting."

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Belgian archaeologists investigate the Roman Town of Ammaia (Portugal)

A joint Belgo-Italian teamhas presented the first results of their work in and around the Roman urban site of Ammaia in Portugal. This project is a geoarchaeological case study to investigate the conditioning effects of landscape and landscape evolution on a Roman urban site (and vice versa) in the Iberian peninsula. The results relate primarily to the tracing of the circuit wall of the Roman city, the intra-urban cartography and the supply of water to the urban area during Roman imperial times.

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Protecting St Peter's graves

FUNDRAISING will need to be undertaken to protect graves at a Heysham church.

The graves, next to St Peter's Church, are on a cliff that has suffered from significant erosion over many years.
Engineers have said that protection work could be undertaken involving wire cages filled with rocks and built out from the cliff edge.
Another option would be to exhume bodies and have them reburied elsewhere.
Parishioners are being asked for their views before any action is taken.

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German hostage devoted life to Iraq archaeology

A German woman who has been abducted by gunmen in Iraq has devoted her life to uncovering Iraq's cultural treasures and fiercely criticised Washington for not preventing the looting of its archaeological sites.

The hostage is Susanne Osthoff, a Bavarian archaeologist who spent decades studying and excavating sites in Iraq to uncover the mysteries of ancient Mesopotamia, often referred to as the "cradle of civilisation".

In May 2003, two months after the United States and Britain invaded Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein, Osthoff brought reporters to the site of the ancient city of Isin to show them how Iraq's most important sites were being stripped clean by looters.

Osthoff had worked on a German excavation of the 4,000-year-old Isin from the mid 1970s until the late 1980s, when U.N. sanctions forced most foreign experts out of Iraq.

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Archaeologist dates nine skeletons to settlement

The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, RÚV, reports that the archaeologist Hildur Gestsdottir has dated nine skeletons that have been excavated out of ancient grave-sites to the period of settlement.

According to Hildur, the residual levels of Strontium found in the teeth of nine skeletons indicate that the individuals were born not in Iceland but abroad.

Carbondating has further shown that all nine died before the year 1000 A.D.

In the Book of Settlement, written in the early 12th century, Ari Thorgilsson "the Learned" traced the settlement of Iceland back to the 9th century A.D.

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Zeitreise ins Mittelalter

Das Bedürfnis, die Vergangenheit zu erleben, hat in diesen Tagen Hochkonjunktur. Seit dem „Schwarzwaldhaus“ häufen sich die Produktionen, in denen zivile Bürger zu Protagonisten eines vergangenen Alltags werden können. Als Novum stellen MDR und ARD ihren Vierteiler „Abenteuer Mittelalter“ vor. Sie gehen mit ihrem „Living-History“ Format 600 Jahre in die Vergangenheit zurück. Im Advent, einer traditionell eher mit reichhaltigen leiblichen Genüssen gesegneten Zeit, kann der Zuschauer im „Abenteuer Mittelalter“ das entbehrungsreiche Leben auf Schloß Burgk in Thüringen miterleben. Die voraussichtlichen Sendetermine sind der 12., 14., 19. und 21. Dezember 2005.

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Merkel's First Crisis

One week into her job, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing her first full-blown crisis with the kidnapping in Iraq of a German woman by an unknown group demanding that Berlin stop helping the Iraqi government.

Susanne Osthoff, 43, an archaeologist who has spent many years in Iraq and a convert to Islam, was abducted with her Iraqi driver last Friday. She is the first German citizen to be kidnapped in Iraq. News of her abduction only came out on Monday night when a messenger delivered a video tape to the Baghdad office of Germany's ARD television channel demanding that it broadcast the footage.

ARD refused to air the tape but broadcast a still photo taken from it showing two hostages sitting on the ground surrounded by three armed men, one holding a rocket propelled grenade launcher on his shoulder. In the tape, the kidnappers threaten to kill the hostages unless the German government ceases its co-operation with the Iraqi government, ARD said.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The long road from 1128..

THE plans for a £180 million redevelopment of the Canongate, including offices, modern apartments and a five-star hotel, mark a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of this part of the Royal Mile.

Whether or not they go ahead - they face protests from the newly-formed Canongate Community Forum - they do at least show that this once regal, then neglected area is on the up again.

Canongate's recorded history began in 1128, when King David I established an abbey dedicated to the Holy Rood on a marshy site at the foot of the long ridge leading from the volcanic plug of Edinburgh Castle. But we know that people were living on this site before the foundation of Holyrood Abbey and its burgh of Canongate.

The routes to the north and south - now Holyrood Road and Calton Road - were called strands, showing how waterlogged the land must have been. And archaeological excavations have discovered Bronze Age flint tools, which suggest that this marshy plain was once used as a hunting and fishing ground by prehistoric peoples.

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Episkopi Bay may be strewn with ancient shipwrecks

THERE are no immediate plans to salvage ancient shipwrecks possibly lying on the bottom of the Episkopi Bay on the island’s southern coast, Director of Antiquities Pavlos Flourentzos said this week.

Asked by The Cyprus Weekly to comment on a continuing underwater survey in the area, which revealed potential shipwreck sites, he said that unless something was important and at least older than the famous 4th century Kyrenia wreck, the Department would leave it alone for the time being.

He explained that excavating and bringing up a submerged ancient wreck involved considerable expenses and efforts, especially as it would then have to be restored and preserved.

"If they are Roman or more recent they would just have to wait," Flourentzos said.

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Oldest Western Map Discovered

The oldest known map in the Western World has been discovered, according to an international team of researchers.

The finding — a postage-stamp-sized fragment of black glazed terracotta that depicts the heel of Italy's boot shape — is known as the Soleto Map. It shows the Salentine peninsula in Puglia and dates from about 500 B.C.

The Soleto Map was found two years ago during a dig led by Belgian archaeologist Thierry van Compernolle, of Montpellier University. The discovery, however, was kept secret until more research was carried out to prove the map was genuine.

"This is, to date, the most ancient geographic map of classical antiquity to have been discovered," Compernolle said.

Displayed for the first time last week at the Archaeological National Museum of Taranto, Italy, the shard of pottery is inscribed in Greek and largely in a local tongue called Messapia.

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‘Moral duty’ to bring Parthenon Marbles back home

President Karolos Papoulias yesterday received the members of 12 international committees for the return of the Parthenon Marbles in Greece at the invitation of Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, who accompanied them to the Presidential Palace. Papoulias thanked them for their «generous effort.» «The Elgin Marbles were seized during a period of history where the strong had the power of life and death over the weak. Now that time has passed. Now we serve other moral values and I believe that it is a moral duty to bring those treasures of Greek civilization back to their homeland... It is not an easy battle,» Papoulias said. «We have to give answers to people who pretend they don't understand certain things that are very clear. However, I believe that international moral order will prevail and that we will all celebrate together at a later date, when the Elgin Marbles come home.» Honorary Professor Anthony Snodgrass, president of the British Committee for the Return of the Marbles, noted that representatives of 15 countries were present.

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Ancient Roman Anchors Found in Israel

Ancient wooden anchors preserved by natural salt for more than 2,000 years have been discovered on the receding shores of the Dead Sea, Israel TV reported Monday.

Archaeologist David Mevorach told the TV station that one anchor dated back 2,500 years - the oldest ever found. Another anchor was 2,000 years old, he said. They were built from acacia wood for Roman ships, he said.

The Dead Sea, with no outlet, has a high concentration of salt. "The salt and the lack of oxygen in the water preserved them in a special way, including the ropes that were tied to the boat," he said.

Also, the small sea has been receding in recent years, as the evaporation rate exceeds the replenishment of water from the Jordan River, diverted for irrigation. Archaeological artifacts have been found along the newly exposed coastline.

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Prehistoric settlements found in Greece

Archaeologists in northern Greece have uncovered traces of two prehistoric farming settlements dating back as early as 6,000 B.C., the Culture Ministry said Monday.

The first site, located on a plot earmarked for coal mining by Greece's Public Power Corporation, yielded five human burials, as well as artifacts including clay figurines of humans and animals, sealstones, pottery and stone tools.

The ministry said the one-acre site near Ptolemaida, some 330 miles northwest of Athens, had been inhabited for a short period during the early Neolithic era -- between 6000 and 5500 B.C.

"(The discovery) will help us solve problems regarding prehistoric social structures ... as the area saw a gradual introduction of farming techniques over at least five millennia," the ministry said.

Some 25 Neolithic settlements have been discovered in the area.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Ancient hill's holes to be filled

Plans to stabilise the ancient Silbury Hill mound in Wiltshire have been unveiled by English Heritage.

The man-made monument, believed to date to the Neolithic period, developed a hole at the top five years ago after the collapse of infilling in a shaft.

There are proposals to remove an inadequate backfill from this and other cavaties and replace it with chalk.

English Heritage said it would preserve the long-term stability of the hill while minimising further damage.

Surveys have confirmed that the overall structure is stable, although there are pockets of instability resulting from tunnels dug in 1776, 1849 and 1968.

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Time Team Special

Journey to Stonehenge

The team has set itself a potentially huge task: to construct a full-size replica of a monument that once existed within Durrington Walls, a henge down the road from Stonehenge. Durrington Walls is considerably bigger than its famous neighbour; during an excavation in the summer, archaeologists established a link between the two sites, and in a wider context, built up a sophisticated picture of Stone Age life. The experts also uncovered the first Neolithic road to be discovered in Europe, a road that they presume was well trodden by Stone Age men and women, carrying the cremated remains of their dead. The Time Team-ers set about their task, while batting around a few tasty theories about the site.

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Ancient prison cells unearthed in Tiberias dig

A bit of what prisoners suffered in ancient times can be seen as of yesterday at the archaeological dig in the old city of Tiberias. Excavations of the basilica compound in the eastern part of the old city recently unearthed two small chambers believed to have served as holding cells for prisoners awaiting trial.

If today's custody conditions at police stations elicit complaints from detainees and defense lawyers, well, prisoners didn't have it all that good 1,800 years ago either.

The cells are located below the level of the main administrative building, the basilica. That fact bolsters the theory that they served as holding cells, where crowded prisoners waited to be called for trial. Each cell measures 1.8 by 2.7 meters, and is 2.07 meters high. Its walls are extremely thick, with the outer wall (1.1 meters thick) containing two narrow openings onto the city square. The slits presumably provided ventilation, and one also served as a food portal.

"Food was delivered by family members," says Prof. Yizhar Hirschfeld of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who is directing the dig. "The regime denied any responsibility for the prisoner's fate."

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Ancient Coins found in Iceland

Morgunbladid reports that two coins from the 11th century reign of Norwegian King Haraldur which were found in the ruins of three houses which were discovered last year at Háls at Kárahnjúkar have now been examined.

The house ruins are almost 600 metres above sea level. Páll Pálsson, farmer at Adalból, found them, and Landsvirkjun (the National Power department) decided to have them examined, a process that was only completed this year.

According to Anton Holt, a coin expert at the Sedlabanki Íslands coin collection, these coins are very rare. He says that today there are only 33 other known specimens of this coin.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Archaeological study tour to the Lake District. Easter 2006

Thursday, 13 to Tuesday, 19 April 2006

EMAS, the University of London Extra-Mural Archaeological Society, is offering an archaeological study tour to the Lake District over Easter, 2006.

Further details available here ...


It's Been there for nearly 2,000 years. But now one of the key features of the city's Roman Baths is being restored to its former glory. A column which was once at the entrance to the Roman temple at the heart of the baths complex was repaired using concrete in Victorian times.

But the concrete is to be removed by experts during the ten-day conservation and repair scheme, in which the team will check on the stonework and give it a clean.

The temple column, the top of which is in the Corinthian style, formed the entrance to the temple which housed the cult statue of the goddess Sulis Minerva.

The great ornamental pediment survives, and now stands in the Roman Baths Museum.

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Developers 'threaten old sites'

A Channel Island archaeologist claims important historical sites could be under threat from development through a lack of effective protection.

Heather Sebire, from the Guernsey Museum, says Guernsey is lagging behind the UK and other countries in protecting its sites.

She says laws and practices are changing slowly.

However she fears that the new process of preserving historical sites is not as effective as it could be.

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In conjunction with the 24 Hour Museum, archaeologists James Dixon and Sarah May put Contemporary Archaeology into practice by taking us on a tour of Sheffield. Read on to discover a world of facade-ectomies, mystery sculptures and Methodist chapels reworked as Aussie theme pubs…As you will find, Contemporary Archaeology is all about perception.

The aim of this tour is to take an easy path through a town, the Blue Route on the Sheffield tram network, and demonstrate how archaeology is all around us. Our interests in Contemporary Archaeology centre on how people engage with archaeology on a daily basis and specifically on how archaeology, art, performance and perception are inextricably linked.

However, archaeology as a broader discipline centres on the materiality of life and how change is managed and reflected by the things we build, their condition and how we work with existing materialities. We hope that the process of looking at this route and its stops will spur you to your own observations about the past, the present and the future. The route runs from Sheffield Station to Sheffield University.

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Researchers to look into Victorian historical 'truths'

Cambridge academics have scored a £1m grant to find out how much the Victorians reinvented history.

Classicists, historians, philosophers and English researchers at the university will team up to decipher how pre-Victorian history has been "filtered" through Victorian eyes to see whether there is room to reinterpret everything from the debauchery of the Middle Ages to the glamour of ancient Egypt.

The University of Cambridge team has been awarded more than £1m by the Leverhulme Trust to undertake the five-year research project starting next autumn.

"The Victorian era has been chosen by the team because the 19th-century is when history really started to matter, and to affect the lives of people in all parts of society. It was a time of extraordinary change," said Mary Beard, a professor of classics. "New pasts were created and old ones abandoned."

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Parthenon foundations not in danger

he foundations of the Parthenon temple, on Athens Acropolis, were in no danger whatsoever of land subsidence or erosion, deputy culture minister Petros Tatoulis assured on Friday, in reply to press articles.

An announcement issued by Tatoulis, citing the leading authority on the architecture of the Athenian Acropolis, Manolis Korres -- who has played a major role in the study, conservation and restoration of the archaeological site's monuments -- in recent statements to the Central Archaological Council.

Korres told the Council that the full covering of the temple's floors with temporary flooring has for 23 years fully insulated the foundations, resulting in there being absolutely no hazard at this time.

During older interventions on the Acropolis monuments in the early 1960s, archaeologist Anastasios Orlandos had replaced substantial sections of the Parthenon floors that had been destroyed with new marble, thus waterproofing the foundations, Tatoulis said.

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Gold im Maisfeld

Das Tübinger Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters und das baden-württembergische Landesamt für Denkmalpflege in Esslingen haben ihre Siedlungsgrabungen im Bereich der Heuneburg fortgesetzt. Bei einer Feldbegehung stießen die Forscher überraschend auf einen spektakulären Fund: Etwa zweieinhalb Kilometer von der Heuneburg entfernt entdeckten sie auf einem nahezu verebneten Grabhügel eine goldene Fibel. Dabei handelt es sich um das Bruchstück einer mit Goldfolie überzogenen Gewandspange aus Bronze. Die Fibel stammt aus der späten Hallstattzeit zwischen dem 6. und 5. Jahrhundert v. Chr.

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Big new Roman find in city

A CITY'S history books may have to be rewritten after a major archaeological find.

Experts believe they have unearthed a Roman road in the heart of Chichester and now have hopes of discovering a 1st-century fort.

They have hailed the find an 'archaeological jackpot' for the city.

The road was found during an excavation before work on a major new housing and shopping development began at the former Shippams factory site off East Street.

Developer Kier ordered the work and employed Gifford Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology Ltd to take charge of the studies.

Their teams found a road – running parallel to East Street – complete with camber and a ditch alongside it.

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Belgian archaeologist finds western world's oldest map

In southern Italy a Belgian archaeologist has revealed a fragment of teracotta onto which is engraved a map of Apulia, the region at the heel of Italy’s “boot”. Known as the Soleto Map, it is the earliest known map of anywhere in the western world, dating to about 500BC. What is particularly interesting about this find is not just early cartographic techniques, but the Greek inscriptions, which tell us something about the links between this part of Italy and Greece.

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Pulling on his winkle-pickers and re-filling his tankard, Graham Spicer stepped back into the medieval age at the Museum of London.

From the decline of Rome to the Protestant Reformation, the medieval period lasted more than a millennia and saw London transformed from ruins to a flourishing capital city, ready to take on the world.

The Museum of London’s new Medieval Gallery, which opens on November 25 2005, is tackling this huge subject, with an ambitious and intelligently displayed selection of some 1,200 objects, from miniature toy soldiers to an entire section of riverfront.

“What this gallery does is make up for lost time,” said Hedley Swain, Head of Early London Development at the museum. “In the last 30 years there has been a huge amount of archaeology work in London.”

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What is NumisWiki?

It is a collection of numismatics and history references and articles that YOU can read, edit, correct or update right now. The online format includes edit features that allows all FORVM members to add new documents or to modify the existing ones. Any member can edit any page including this page you are reading right now. All you have to do is click the "Edit" button from above and start typing. If you mess things up too much, don't worry, you can revert to the older version anytime using "History". Click HERE right now to edit the Sandbox and see how things work.

FORVM hopes our collaborative efforts will create a resource more useful than any one of us can individually imagine!

Visit the site ...


Detailed information collected from hundreds of pieces of stone at the site of an historic abbey will be used to create the first computer-generated image of the building.

Volunteers have spent two years sifting through stones at Tupholme Abbey, near Bardney, to discover clues about its past.

They found more than 260 highly decorated pieces of stone which were analysed during the project and provided vital clues to what the abbey would have looked like when it was built in the 1170s.

Historic buildings manager for Heritage Lincolnshire Liz Bates said the findings of the 21,000 project were very interesting.

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A LOST valley where Neanderthals hunted mammoth and massive pre-historic rhinoceros has been uncovered by archaeologists at Pan, Newport.

Early analysis of finds during the summer investigation of the area has built up a picture of how life used to be in the Medina valley more than 40,000 years ago.
Specialist probes continue after the digs carried out at Great Pan Farm as part of the archaeological assessment prior to development of the new Pan Village.

Great Pan Farm was recognised as a nationally significant Stone Age site when gravel extraction recovered flint tools embedded in a former river terrace, the lowest of four such terraces.

Until the latest investigation, the date of the most important terrace has been the subject of hot debate with estimates ranging between 240,000 years and 40,000 years.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Woodland provides deep roots for Mabinogion lessons

CHILDREN living on the doorstep of one of the Mabinogion's magical woods have been exploring its mysteries.

Pupils from Ysgol Edmwnd Prys of Gellilydan in Snowdonia were joined by Welsh poet Twm Morys as they discovered more about Coed Felinrhyd - where the leaders of two warring factions in the Welsh folk tales did battle.

Mr Morys helped the children express their feelings about the wood by working with them to create a poem on the day in a specially created woodland shelter.

The day was organised by Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust, as part of the Meirionnydd Oakwood Project which is a partnership project aimed at conserving the oak woods for future generations.

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Egyptologist brings lost civilisation to life for television series

A researcher at the University of Liverpool has written a book about the lives of the world's most famous Egyptologists to accompany BBC One's major new documentary series, Egypt.
Egypt: How a Lost Civilisation was Rediscovered by Dr Joyce Tyldesley, covers the history of Egyptology, from the end of the Dynastic age to the present, beginning with little known Egyptians who investigated the country's ancient monuments to famous archaeologists such as Howard Carter, who uncovered the resting place of the boy king, Tutankhamen.
Dr Tyldesley, from the University's School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, said: "Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798 sparked a huge interest in the country's ancient civilisations. Stories of lost treasure and mummies gripped the public's imagination and the world became obsessed with everything Egyptian. Explorers and collectors who went in search of Egyptian artefacts produced some of the first Egyptologists and a new area of scientific study. Amongst these 'explorers' are some of the most fascinating characters in modern history."

The book also looks at current archaeological research, such as underwater archaeology at Alexandria and the work of Dr Steven Snape in the excavation of Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham – that is now the centre of one of the biggest projects currently in progress in Egypt, a fortress-town built by Ramesses II in the 13th century BC.

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Greece Vows Legal Action Against Getty

Officials say they are tired of waiting for the museum to respond to their requests for the return of four allegedly looted artifacts.

Ending their long-standing diplomatic efforts, Greek authorities have decided to launch legal action against the J. Paul Getty Museum to force the return of four antiquities they say were illegally removed from their country.

Greek Ministry of Culture officials said Tuesday that they decided to take the legal route because they were tired of waiting for the Getty to respond to their written requests for the items, which include a gold funerary wreath and two other masterpieces of the antiquities collection. Greece first asked for the items in 1996 and most recently sent a follow-up letter in May.

"It is always our principle to make every possible effort of goodwill negotiation in cases such as the one with the J.P. Getty Museum," said Petros Tatoulis, the Greek deputy minister of culture, in a statement to The Times. "In this particular case, our goodwill negotiations have not been fruitful, as our written communications to museum officials have repeatedly remained unanswered."

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Met Will Return Disputed Art to Italy, Culture Minister Says

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is prepared to return disputed antiquities to Italy in a compromise discussed at a meeting in Rome today between the Met's director and Italian officials, Culture Minister Rocco Buttiglione said.

The items include a 2,500-year-old wine pot, or krater, by the Greek artist Euphronios that Italian prosecutors say was robbed from a tomb outside Rome, and a 15-piece set of Hellenistic silver they say was looted at Morgantina in Sicily, Buttiglione said.

``If we have conclusive evidence, and we think we have, then they are ready to give it back,'' Buttiglione said in an interview after meeting with the Met's director, Philippe de Montebello.

De Montebello declined to comment. In a statement, the museum said the meeting ``was constructive and could pave the way to a mutually satisfactory arrangement.''

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Italy Says Met May Return Disputed Art

Italy's culture minister said Tuesday that New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art agreed to consider returning antiquities allegedly looted from Italy if it can be proven that the works were stolen.

According to Culture Minister Rocco Buttiglione, the director of the Met, Philippe de Montebello, said at a meeting in Rome on Tuesday that he was prepared to ask the museum's board of trustees to return the artifacts if there is conclusive evidence that they were illegally smuggled from Italy.

The New York museum said the meeting was ``constructive and could pave the way to a mutually satisfactory arrangement'' but did not confirm Buttiglione's characterization of the meeting, which the Met requested.

``We want back what is ours. Of course this could cause a damage to important institutions and museums in the United States and we don't want to do this damage,'' Buttiglione said Tuesday.

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For archives read web pages

Calls for improved web access to its archives has led English Heritage to start digitising the entire National Monuments Record

For most of us, scanning our holiday pictures to send to Auntie Doris (who can't quite grasp this new-fangled email thing) is a major undertaking. It pales, however, in comparison to the task that English Heritage has set itself: digitising the National Monuments Record to improve its accessibility.

The record is the most extensive resource available to those researching the English built environment. It contains more than six million photographs and documents, covering everything from wattle-and-daub huts to 1930s modernist swimming pools and beyond. However, access to this rich hoard has, in the past, been limited to those willing and able to make the trip to the archive centre in Swindon. When English Heritage invited responses for its 2004 consultation on Unlocking Heritage Information, improved web access to archives was a recurring theme among the 900 respondents.

At the centre of the project is the Heritage Gateway, which will be "a portal through which national and local historic environment records can be viewed", when it is launched in mid-2006. "Fast access to accurate, up-to-date information is, for many of us, a basic need," said Sir Neil Cossons, chairman of English Heritage, when the consultation results were published last year. Initially, the programme is expected to last for three to five years, and will require 10-15% of English Heritage's annual £2.8m budget. This has been released by the restructuring of several posts. The project is on schedule but still "at a very early stage", admits Vikki Fenner, head of programme development. "We're still involved in project planning, and examining the technical issues involved, but we are adding material to our existing online resources, such as Viewfinder. In the longer term, we want to put catalogues online so browsers can see what we have before visiting the archive."

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'Extensive' fire damage to church

Fire damage to one of East Sussex's largest churches could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to repair, architects have estimated.
Investigators believe the blaze at St Barnabas' Church in Bexhill on Monday afternoon, may have been started by a cigarette left in the library.

Dozens of valuable and irreplaceable books were destroyed along with ancient stained glass windows.

But Father Colin Pritchard said the church's work would continue as normal.

"It's not the end it's just a very sad hiccup but we will cope.

"A large part of our ministry in this parish is in care and nursing homes, all that will carry on as normal as will our work with young children."

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Homo erectus ate crunchy food

Homo erectus munched on crunchy, brittle and tough foods, while other early humans seemed to favour softer fare, according to a new analysis of teeth.

All the individuals showed signs of eating a variety of foods.

H. erectus lived between approximately 2 million to 400,000 years ago and is the first known primate to use significant tools and walk upright.

The researchers say H. erectus is the only species they looked at that appears to have often crunched and chewed on foods, such as tough meat and crisp root vegetables.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Iceman Curseth?

HE'S FROZEN stiff and he's been dead for 5,300 years, but people are still wary of Oetzi the Iceman. Seven of those who have worked with the celebrated corpse, unearthed from a glacier on the Austrian-Italian Border in 1991, have now died, either through accident or illness, and our seemingly limitless credulity regarding revenge from beyond the grave has gone into overdrive yet again.

Last month's news of the death of Dr Tom Loy, who had conducted DNA analysis of the deep-frozen cadaver, further fuelled rumours and headlines concerning a "curse", reminiscent of that associated with the opening of Tutankhamun's tomb in the 1920s. Dr Loy, a Californian-born molecular biologist who undertook DNA investigation of the body, was found dead at his home in Brisbane, Australia, and an inquest proved inconclusive, although he was known to be suffering from a hereditary blood complaint, diagnosed shortly after he started work on Oetzi.

However, another scientist who has been working on the frozen mummy, Professor James Dickson, is not among the ranks of the credulous. The Glas- gow University archaeobotanist, who has been studying the body for more than a decade, gives short shrift to any such suppositions, classifying them pithily as "bullshit", and points to the unprecedented insights the frozen mummy is providing into the lifestyle of the Copper Age hunter.

Oetzi, named after the Oetzal Alps where he was found, is now on display in a temperature-controlled cabinet at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano. The oldest, fully preserved mummy in the world, the corpse is that of a 30 to 45-year-old man, dressed in a woven grass cloak, goatskin leggings, leather vest and primitive snowshoes. He was carrying a copper-headed axe, a flint knife, a quiver full of arrows and a half-made yew longbow.

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Egyptian maths scroll on display

AN ancient Egyptian mathematical scroll believed to be more than 3,500 years old will go on display in Wales on Thursday. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus has been lent to the University of Swansea from the British Museum for a year.

Its unveiling will coincide with the first public demonstration of a draft virtual reality game inspired by the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead and developed by Swansea's School of Engineering.

The Rhind Papyrus comes from a site at ancient Thebes, modern Luxor. It is believed to have been found in the tomb of a Theban official who lived around 1530 BC. It was acquired by AH Rhind in the 1850s and bought by the British Museum in 1865.

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America prediscovered

THE VEXED question of American independence has arisen once again: not, in this case, in 1776, but before Columbus came to the New World.

It is generally accepted that the Amerindian population originated in Asia, probably more than 15,000 years ago, but whether there were subsequent transoceanic contacts and influences remains a matter of hot debate. Vikings from Maine to Minnesota, Romans crossing from Africa to Brazil, and Chinese and Japanese voyagers hitting the Pacific coastline have all been proposed. Now a new candidate for transpacific contact has reached a major academic journal.

Language and technology, specifically in canoe construction, indicate Polynesian impacts on southern California some 1,500 years ago, according to American Antiquity. Terry Jones and Kathryn Klar point out that “three words used to refer to boats, including the distinctive sewn-plank canoe used by Chumashan and Gabrielino speakers, appear to correlate with East Polynesian terms associated with woodworking and canoe construction”. These were adopted between AD400 and 800.

This is just the period, Jones and Klar say, when ocean exploration by Polynesians led to the discovery and settlement of Hawaii. They add that the Polynesians “had the capabilities of navigation, boat construction and sailing, as well as the cultural incentives to complete a one-way passage from Hawaii to the mainland.” But such passages may not all have been one-way: 15 years ago the presence of prehistoric sweet potatoes was confirmed on Mangaia in central Polynesia.

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Villa buried by Pompeii eruption is unearthed

An archaeological dig on the Amalfi coast has revealed the first luxury villa to be built in the idyllic fishing village of Positano, a popular haunt of today's rich and famous.

Two storeys of a first century millionaire's abode have been found under a church which was hidden for 2,000 years by the same volcanic eruption that devastated Pompeii in 79AD.

During renovation work on the church's crypt last summer, roof beams were found poking up just a few inches down.

They revealed an enormous building that certainly would have belonged to an important person in Imperial Rome.

A subsequent initial dig by archaeologists unearthed, about 6ft below the ground, two storeys of remarkably brightly-coloured wall frescoes and marble mosaics of mythical characters. They had been perfectly preserved.

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Flints give Cyprus oldest seafaring link in Med

Archaeologists have discovered what they believe is the earliest evidence yet of long distance seafaring in the eastern Mediterranean, undermining beliefs that ancient mariners never ventured into open seas.

Fragments of stone implements believed to be up to 12,000 years old have been found at two sites of Cyprus, suggesting roving mariners used the areas as temporary camp sites after forays from what is today Syria and Turkey.

The flints are unlike anything found in the geological make-up of Cyprus, and more than 1,000 years older than the timing of the first permanent settlers to the island.

The discovery adds to a body of evidence contradicting the widespread belief that ancient mariners would never venture out of sight of land or had limited navigational capabilities.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Mystery Saxon whip goes on display in London

A small leather whip found in a 1,000-year-old rubbish dump may be evidence of the brutal treatment of slaves in Saxon London.

Archaeologists at the Museum of London have been puzzling over it for 15 years since it was excavated just off Cheapside, one of the oldest continuously inhabited streets in the city.

Explanations have ranged from sexual sadism to religious fanaticism, but curator John Clark now believes it was probably kept for disciplining slaves. The whip will be on display for the first time at the Museum of London's new medieval gallery, which opens on Friday.

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Decadent Brits binge-drinking for centuries

The nation's thirst for beer is not as new a trend as currently believed, according to historians at the Museum of London

New evidence has revealed that Brits had a love for 24-hour boozing over 900 years ago and would even indulge in a little ale for breakfast.

An exhibition opening at the Medieval London gallery on Friday will display evidence of ancient beer bellies and extra-large drinking vessels for optimum swilling.

Because ale was so cheap in the twelfth century, just a penny for a whole gallon, only the poorest Londoners could not afford alcohol.

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24hr-boozing 'a medieval phenomenon'

BEER bellies and binge-drinking may not be modern phenomena, historians claimed today.

Experts at the Museum of London have uncovered evidence of "inflated" stomachs and a 24-hour boozing culture in medieval London.

Due to poor quality drinking water back in the 12th century, Londoners were forced to drink ale - as much as a gallon a day.

Artefacts from the time, which are due to go on display at the museum, including a selection of portly Toby jugs depict chubby individuals who look like they enjoyed a pint or two.

And historians claimed that 700 years ago, London had more than 1300 alehouses - one for every 50 people living in the city.

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Neolithic finds on display in Gloucestershire

Neolithic stone axe finds from the Forest created huge interest at a county conference held at Five Acres (Gloucestershire, England). The event, in the Royal Forest of Dean College theatre, was organised by the Committee for Archaeology in Gloucestershire and featured several visiting speakers.

Lydney's Dr Alf Webb, president of Dean Archaeology Group, said: "We were celebrating 21 years of archaeological work in the Forest. I talked about my flint finds and we took along a display case of all the Neolithic stone axe samples DAG members have unearthed locally. These provoked a great deal of interest among the people who attended the conference."

The next major DAG event is the Shovellers' Shindig at the Royal British Legion Club in Lydney on March 11 next year.

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Secure long-term future for archaeological sites in Lincolnshire

Heritage groups are calling on the British Government to secure the long-term future of important archaeological sites in the Lincolnshire Wolds. English Heritage, The National Trust, Defra and organisations including the Heritage Lottery Fund want to reduce pressures on rural historic landscapes. Together they have contributed research and analysis for the most comprehensive report ever of the state of England's rural environment, called Heritage Counts 2005. The Lincolnshire Wolds has been named as an important area which needs special attention.

Chairman of the East Midlands Heritage Forum Dr Anthony Streeten said: "The Lincolnshire Wolds has been recognised for its legacy of prehistoric sites, wealth of historic landscape features and important ancient trackways. But it also has the most scheduled monuments at risk through arable cultivation in the region."

By scheduled a monument, a site of national importance is legally protected. Neolithic long barrows are the oldest visible 'monuments' in the British landscape. Four fifths on Lincolnshire Wolds have already been destroyed or damaged by ploughing.

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Ivory emperor emerges from Forum

Italian archaeologists have unveiled the latest major find to emerge from the Roman forum - an ivory statue of an emperor, probably Marcus Aurelius or Septimius Severus.

The bust is unique - there are no other examples of statues like this made in ivory.

Very few ancient Roman ivory objects have survived to the present day because ivory is a biodegradable material.

Those that have not withered away over the last 2,000 years are mostly tomb decorations and small plaques.

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UNESCO May Scrap Bulgarian Culture Site

There is an imminent threat that the ancient town of Nessebar be scrapped from the UNESCO list of world culture and history heritage.

The alarm was raised by Bulgarian Culture Minister Stefan Danailov while on a visit to Kurdzhali, south Bulgaria.

He said the UNESCO has received numerous signals from western tourists complaining over Nessebar's stand-packed streets.

Minister Danailov said he would commence urgent talks to avoid the threat of such move that would be detrimental for Bulgaria's image as a tourist destination.

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Battlefield Archaeology: a Guide to the Archaeology of Conflict

A BAJR Report available as a PDF Document.

(you will need Acrobat Reader for this document)

Download the article...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Trim Castle developers breached EU planning law

The European Union’s environment commission has ruled that developers at the controversial Trim Castle site in Co Meath have breached EU planning law.

Trim Castle, on the banks of the River Boyne, is the largest Norman castle in Ireland.
It has been at the centre of a scandal since 2002, when Trim Urban District Council sold land to a developer to build a 68-bedroom hotel on the perimeter of the 12th-century site.

In September, the non-governmental Centre for Public Inquiry published a report into the controversy at the site.

In the report, some councillors claimed to have been “hoodwinked” into their decision to allow the hotel complex to go ahead.

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Scientists show we’ve been losing face for 10,000 years

THE human face is shrinking. Research into people’s appearance over the past 10,000 years has found that our ancestors’ heads and faces were up to 30% larger than now.

Changes in diet are thought to be the main cause. The switch to softer, farmed foods means that jawbones, teeth, skulls and muscles do not need to be as strong as in the past.

The shrinkage has been blamed for a surge in dental problems caused by crooked or overlapping teeth.

“Over the past 10,000 years there has been a trend toward rounder skulls with smaller faces and jaws,” said Clark Spencer Larsen, professor of anthropology at Ohio State University.

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'Exceptional find' of Iron Age warrior

THE remains of an Iron Age warrior have been found in Dunbar – only the third grave of its kind in Scotland.

Archaeologists were called to the old Empire Cinema site, off the High Street, which is currently being developed into flats.

The well-preserved grave contains the remains of a warrior as well as an iron spearhead, sword and what is believed to be a pin.

Archaeologists believe an earlier burial had been moved from its original position to accommodate the warrior before being put back, to create a double burial.

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Simulacra Romae

Here's an interesting site ... Simulacra Romae is a very attractive site devoted to the provincial capitals (European) of the Roman Empire ... the site has a pile of articles, photos, etc. in various languages (none English ... Spanish capitals are Spanish, French are French, etc.), although there are some pages which are still 'in labour'.

Comment from Rogue Classicism

Visit Simulacra Romae ...

Why only plumbing can prevent the fall of Rome

An urgent rescue operation is being launched to save some of Rome's most important ancient ruins, including the palace where Julius Ceasar once lived, from the ravages of increasingly violent rainstorms that are undermining their foundations.

Archaeologists fear that buildings on the Palatine Hill, most more than 2,000 years old, are becoming dangerously unstable and pose an increasing risk to the 3.5 million tourists who visit the area each year.

Repairs could take up to 10 years, engineers have said, and are expected to cost between €100 and €200 million (£68 and £136 million) - a small price to pay, they say, to preserve some of Rome's historical treasures.

These include the towering Palace of Septimus Severus, the Domus Augustana, where the emperors lived, and traces of an iron-age village where legend has it the city's founders, Romulus and Remus, were once suckled by a wolf.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Archaeologists find western world's oldest map

The oldest map of anywhere in the western world, dating from about 500 BC, has been unearthed in southern Italy. Known as the Soleto Map, the depiction of Apulia, the heel of Italy's "boot", is on a piece of black-glazed terracotta vase about the size of a postage stamp.

It was found in a dig led by the Belgian archaeologist Thierry van Compernolle, of Montpellier University, two years ago. But its existence was kept secret until more research was carried out.

"The map offers, to date, for the Mediterranean, and more generally for western civilisation, the oldest map of a real space," the university said recently.

Its engraved place names are indicated by points, just as on maps today, and are written in ancient Greek.

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Archaeologists dig for Romanesque church of Waasmunster

Already since the end of September, the Archaeological Service Waasland is digging in and around the church of Our Lady in Waasmunster (prov. East-Flanders). They unearthened a.o. the relicts of a 12th-century circular churchyard-wall, and structures that belonged to the Romanesque state of the church.

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Ancient Civilisation in Bolivia

In western Bolivia on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the ancient city of Tiwanaku is slowly revealing its centuries-old secrets to archaeologists.

Watch the video ...

Prosecutor outlines evidence in art smuggling case

Implications seen for several museums

An art smuggling trial that could have significant repercussions for museums across the United States got underway yesterday, with Italian prosecutors restating the charges against a well-traveled art dealer and a former curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Both the curator, Marion True, and the dealer, Robert E. Hecht Jr., have links to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. True worked there as a curatorial assistant from 1972 to 1975, and Hecht has sold or given 116 pieces, not including coins, to the museum over the years.

The MFA is not part of the trial, but Italian prosecutors have entered a list of more than 30 objects in the museum's collection as evidence in the case, which is part of Italy's decades-long attempt to get American museums to return stolen art

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Getty Museum curator stands trial for art trafficking

Marion True, the former curator of antiquities in California's Getty Museum, reputed to be the richest museum in the world, has appeared in court in Rome on charges of conspiring to traffic in looted art.

Dr True, 57, is accused of illegally obtaining 42 fabulously valuable antiquities for the museum during the Eighties and Nineties and risks being sent to jail for eight years if found guilty. She resigned from her post in October.

The trial has thrown a spotlight on the swashbuckling way some of the most famous museums in the United States have built up their collections.

Paolo Ferri, the prosecutor, claims Ms True spent millions of dollars of the Getty's money to buy ancient objects which she knew to have been stolen from sites in Italy. The Italian responsible for bringing many of these treasures to the market was Giacomo Medici, who was convicted of looting and sentenced to 10 years' jail last year. He is appealing against the verdict.

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South East Heritage - 2005 survey published

Almost unnoticed half of the region's historic parkland has disappeared and archaeological sites in the region have been destroyed at an unsustainable rate - an average of three a week, according to new research.

Heritage Counts 2005 is the annual survey of the state of England's historic environment. Published today, (Wednesday 16th November 2005) by English Heritage on behalf of the South East Historic Environment Forum (SEHEF). This year's report focuses on rural heritage and highlight the dramatic changes in the character of our countryside during the 20th century.

Key findings from Heritage Counts:

* Since 1919 the South East has seen the greatest loss of parkland of any English region.
* More archaeological sites have been lost in the South East than any other region since 1945.
* Since the 1980s, the South East has seen the future of more redundant farm buildings secured through their conversion to sustainable use than any other region.
* Recent research by Defra to develop a detailed definition of 'rural' indicates that over 50% of the South East can still be categorised as rural. 23% of all South East businesses are based in rural areas.
* The South East saw the highest number of planning consent notifications concerning registered parks and historic gardens of any English region in 2004/05
* Interest in history and the historic environment is very strong in the region, with substantial levels of membership of both National Trust and English Heritage. The South East also has the highest level of museum visiting in the country.
* There were 11 million visits to historic tourist attractions in the South East last year generating over £10bn in revenue for the region per annum.

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A roving display takes to the road this week to highlight a major bid to help conserve and manage a significant area of landscape in South East Cornwall. Its aim is to raise awareness about the Caradon Hill Area Heritage Project and the special features of the area's landscape, which includes moorland, farmland, wooded steep valleys, industrial remains and Neolithic sites such as Trethevy Quoit.

The display is one phase of a Heritage Lottery Fund bid planned by Caradon District Council and Cornwall County Council for next year, which could secure funds for restoration, preservation and enhancement work suggested by the community.

The proposed project area covers around 58 square miles to the north of Liskeard, centred around Caradon Hill.

In the region of 10,500 people live in the area in settlements including Pensilva, St Cleer, Minions, Upton Cross and part of Liskeard.

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Treasured aspects of our county `at risk' - report

WARNINGS that historic farm buildings in North Yorkshire could be at risk of decay have been given by a leading heritage group.

Yorkshire Historic Environment Forum has published a new report, Heritage Counts 2005, which reveals that Yorkshire and the Humber region has 5,530 listed farm buildings - eight per cent of the national total.

"Evidence from DEFRA suggests that Yorkshire has England's second highest proportion of unused and decaying agricultural buildings," says the forum, whose members include English Heritage, the National Trust, the Country Land and Business Association and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It says that more awareness is needed of the plight of the buildings and the potential for economic re-use when left redundant.

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Site of pagan well to be restored

One of Wales' oldest wells, thought to be a pagan site rededicated by early Christians, is to be restored.

Ffynnon Rhedyw in Llanllyfni, near Caernarfon, is believed to be older than nearby St Rhedyw's church, which dates from 600AD.

Gwynedd Archaeological Trust hopes the project will set a precedent for similar projects around Wales.

A public meeting will be held at Llanllyfni Memorial Hall on 17 November (1830 GMT) to show villagers the plans.

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Ancient man's lost secrets on test

TECHNOLOGY from the 21st century will be used to unlock the past to one of Yorkshire's most important archaeological finds from the Bronze Age.

Gristhorpe Man, one of the best preserved examples of human remains buried in a hollow oak tree trunk, will leave Scarborough's Rotunda Museum today in specially constructed boxes for Bradford University's Department of Archaeological Sciences.
The latest technology will be used to try to extract samples from the remains for analysis to establish how the Bronze Age man died as well as gathering more detail about his lifestyle and diet.

The skeleton still has some remains of the man's brain and teeth which have been preserved since he died 3,500 years ago.

Tests will also be conducted on an animal skin the corpse was wrapped in as well as a whalebone and bronze dagger and food which was buried in the coffin. Curator of museums at Scarborough Council Karen Snowden said: "He is one of the jewels in our crown, and because he has been here so long everyone remembers him if they visit Scarborough.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Digital future for the past

Minister for Culture David Lammy today (Wednesday 16 November) launched a new Action Plan to make Europe's cultural heritage more accessible through the internet.

Speaking after a conference in Bristol on e-Learning - and following Monday's Ministerial Council in Brussels where digitisation was high on the agenda - David Lammy said:

"The Action Plan will guide the future coordination of digitisation activity within European Member States, with the vision of creating a European Cultural Information space. This will provide rich and diverse cultural resources to support education and research, tourism and the creative industries, and to enable digital access by all citizens to the national, regional and local cultural heritage of Europe."

The development of this Plan has been one of the Culture Department's priorities for the UK Presidency. It is the result of work by the Netherlands, Luxembourg and UK Presidencies, and represents a major landmark in collaborative working by European Member States in the cultural and heritage fields.

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) represented the UK in the development of the Plan.

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THE Centre for Manx Studies is remaining tight-lipped after coming under fire from an academic.
Celtic scholar and professor in the humanities department at the University of Mannheim, Dr George Broderick, wrote to the centre to express 'general dissatisfaction with the level of academia'.

Dr Broderick, who has a home in Ramsey, has taught Manx Gaelic and place-name courses at the centre, in Kingswood Grove, Douglas, but said until the academic situation improves he feels 'unable to participate in any further activity'.

The centre was founded in 1992 and is an academic unit of the University of Liverpool, managed by a committee with representatives from Manx National Heritage, the University of Liverpool and the Department of Education.

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Archeologia: Gdf scopre villaggio romano

Importante operazione di salvaguardia del patrimonio archeologico dell'Isola. La Guardia di Finanza di Isili ha scoperto, nelle campagne del paese, un villaggio di epoca romana risalente al I/II secolo d.c.. Oltre a numerosi frammenti di vasellame ed anfore. In una seconda operazione, i finanzieri hanno bloccato l'attività agricola in un terreno sottoposto a vincolo archeologico. Diversi i siti danneggiati. I proprietari dei terreni sono stati denunciati per violazione delle norme che tutelano il patrimonio.

ISILI - Villaggio scomparso rivede la luce. Nei giorni scorsi la Guardia di Finanza di Isili ha individuato nelle campagne del paese un importante sito archeologico. Le ispezioni hanno permesso di individuare un villaggio di epoca romana risalente al I/II secolo dopo Cristo, non censito e non sottoposto a vincoli da parte della soprintendenza archeologica. Sono stati trovati 230 pezzi tra reperti e frammenti.

Di particolare interesse archeologico le 25 monete di bronzo appartenenti all'epoca romana, sia imperiale che repubblicana, ed una presumibilmente d'origine punica. Sempre di epoca romana le quattro statuine, in pietra basaltica pertinenti a macine. Sono stati ritrovati, inoltre, frammenti di vasellame, anfore e laterizi.

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'Tomb' It May Concern… Egypt Interactive Exhibition At BBC Birmingham

Unearth the mysteries and myths surrounding the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, follow in the footsteps of Howard Carter and undertake a journalistic journey - from BBC Birmingham to the mythical lands of Egypt - in search of the truth behind the legend of the fabled Egyptian pharaoh.

Throughout November, the Public Space at BBC Birmingham, in partnership with Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Institute of Egyptology and Antiquity at the University of Birmingham, is trialling a new exhibition experience incorporating genuine artefacts and treasures dating back to ancient Egypt, 3500 years ago.

The exhibition is based on and includes actual sets from the epic new BBC ONE series, Egypt.

The exhibition transports visitors on a magical mystery tour of exploration, as they take on the role of a correspondent from the fictional 'Gazette' newspaper, and are tasked with reporting on the opening of Tutankhamun's tomb, the mysterious curse, and the fate of those involved.

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Our agricultural ancestors

The ancestry of modern Europeans is clearer than ever before thanks to the collaborative work of archaeologists and geneticists from the Universities of Cambridge, Mainz (Germany), and Tartu (Estonia).

The researchers have successfully extracted and analysed 7500-year-old DNA from skeletons of the first European farmers. They found several DNA types that are very rare in Europe today, showing the farmers are not the ancestors of modern Europeans. Dr. Peter Forster from the The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge has founded an independent venture recruiting the public to contribute their DNA to an in-depth Neolithic project.

Agriculture originated in the Near East in the Neolithic (New Stone Age) about 10,000 years ago, from where farming spread to Europe via Turkey. For many decades, prehistorians have speculated about the identity of the first European farmers.

Some theories included the original European farmers were immigrants from Anatolia (Turkey), or local European tribes who had copied the farming techniques ultimately from their Anatolian neighbours. There were also questions whether modern Europeans descended from immigrant farmers, or from native European hunter-gatherers who started arriving in Europe much earlier, about 35,000 years ago when they replaced the resident Neanderthals.

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Getty trial restarts Wednesday in Rome

The trial resumes in Rome of two Americans accused of conspiring to traffic in looted Italian antiquities for the J. Paul Getty museum in Los Angeles, with museums around the world anxiously awaiting the outcome.

The Getty's former antiquities curator Marion True is accused of knowingly acquiring antiquities stolen in Italy, for which art dealer Robert Hecht allegedly acted as an intermediary.

Both deny wrongdoing in the case, which emerged out of an investigation into the activities of former gallery owner Giacomo Medici, who is currently appealing a 10-year jail sentence handed down by a Rome court last year.

Prosecutors say art traffickers used Medici's Swiss warehouse to store artifacts, including priceless examples from the Greek, Etruscan and Roman periods, looted from Italian archaeological sites.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Maori heads set for return to homeland

THREE preserved Maori heads will be returned to New Zealand after decades in a Glasgow museum.

The heads are believed to have belonged to Maori chiefs killed in battle in the 19th century. Together with a thigh bone, they were accepted in Glasgow by a party from Wellington's Te Papa Tongarewa museum, and will return to their homeland at the weekend.

The remains had been donated to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, but were never put on show to the public. Even today, only the crates into which the remains had been packed were on show.

The Te Papa is a government-backed museum, charged with preserving and presenting the taonga - treasures - of New Zealand's people.

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Italy Trial Giving Museums Wakeup Call

Italy, Greece and other countries steeped in antiquity have long tried - and failed - to keep precious remnants of their past within their borders. Now museums around the world are getting a wakeup call from the trial of two Americans.

Marion True, formerly antiquities curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, is accused of receiving stolen antiquities from Italy. She resigned last month after museum officials confronted her about a personal loan she secured with the help of one of the museum's main suppliers.

Art dealer Robert Hecht allegedly acted as an intermediary between art thieves and museums.

The Getty has defended True's work, and she and Hecht have denied any wrongdoing.

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Historians’ net widens

HISTORY fans are being urged to help discover the past this week as a modern way of researching local history comes to Marlow.

Marlow Archaeology Society MAS is staging an open event on "Unlocking Buckinghamshire's Past", an internet programme recording the location of all suitable historic artefacts and sites in the area.

It is a new way of looking into history and will give researchers the bonus of receiving information with just the click of a button.

The programme is being produced by Buckinghamshire County Council, and it is hoped the event on Wednesday will encourage Marlovians to bring their own cherished historical items, which can be checked and possibly placed in the database themselves.

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A 1st century nail cleaner, a collection of cheese scoops and an almost forgotten Roman emperor are among the 67,000 artefacts and 427 pieces of treasure unearthed by members of the public in the past year.

These impressive statistics were revealed in the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) annual report and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Treasure annual report, launched at the Museum of London on November 9 2005.

Announcing the publication of both reports, Culture Minister David Lammy welcomed the successes they outlined and praised the inclusive work of the PAS.

“What occurs to me is the diverse background of the people that are doing the finding," he said. "I get a sense of the real thrill that people get when they come upon something that’s valuable either economically or because it makes such an impact in terms of its historical significance."

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Roman Portal

The excellent site "Megalithic Portal" has now opened a "Roman Portal".

Mostly images at the moment.

You can find the site here ...

German Archaeologists Insist on Troy

German archaeologists have notified they would like to continue the archaeological practices in Troy after Manfred Korfmann's death, who conducted excavations in Troy for a long time.

Peter Jablonka, the archaeologist in charge of the excavations, has said in his statement in Tübingen, licenses for digging received from Turkish positions have been under the name of Korfmann, therefore, they have requested a new license. Jablonka has also expressed German expectations of the Turkish government to establish a museum in Troy because it was Korfmann's longtime dream.

Jablonka and his team informed about their request for a research grant from the University of Tübingen, and that they will make small scale diggings under Troy in the upcoming years.

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Study Casts Doubt on Europeans' Ancestral Link to Fertile Crescent

Europeans are most closely related to the Stone Age hunter-gatherers who arrived on the continent 40,000 years ago — not, as many archeologists have long surmised, the adept migrants from the Fertile Crescent who introduced agriculture to the continent 7,500 years ago.

That's the conclusion of the first detailed analysis of maternally inherited DNA extracted from 24 of the migrant farmers' skeletons.

The study was published Friday in the journal Science.

"We were surprised to find close to zero" resemblance between the early farmers' genes and those of modern Europeans, said Peter Forster, an archeologist at Britain's University of Cambridge who coauthored the study.

Although the farmers from the Middle East transformed European culture, bringing agriculture, distinctive pottery and advanced building techniques, the genetic mark they left is minuscule.

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Early Greek writing unearthed on Crete

Archaeologists in Crete have found an important trove of archaeological treasures containing some of the earliest known examples of Greek writing, the Culture Ministry said Saturday.

It said the finds were excavated at a long-abandoned site on a hill overlooking the port of Hania in western Crete, which has been identified with the Minoan city of Kydonia.

Among the discoveries was an amphora containing an intact text written in Linear B, the language of the court at Mycenae where the legendary Agamemnon ruled.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

The second battle of Sheriffmuir

A leading archaeologist united with environmental campaigners yesterday to demand changes to laws protecting historic sites, amid fears that one of Scotland's most famous battlefields could be defaced by huge electricity pylons.

Dr Tony Pollard, of the Two Men In a Trench TV programme, has joined protests over a proposed 160-mile power line which some fear would destroy the site of the battle of Sheriffmuir, which signalled the bloody denouement of the 1715 Jacobite rebellion.
Sheriffmuir joins a long list of battlefields, including Bannockburn (1314), Falkirk (1746), Pinkie, near Musselburgh (1547), and Kilsyth (1645), which have been threatened by modern developments.

The A9 road was also built through the centre of the battlefield of Killiecrankie (1689) in the 1970s.

The new threat to Sheriffmuir has triggered calls for tighter legislation as experts are concerned that a £200m replacement power line would destroy the site, near Dunblane.

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Early Greek writing unearthed on Crete

Archaeologists in Crete have found an important trove of archaeological treasures containing some of the earliest known examples of Greek writing, the Culture Ministry said Saturday.

It said the finds were excavated at a long-abandoned site on a hill overlooking the port of Hania in western Crete, which has been identified with the Minoan city of Kydonia.

Among the discoveries was an amphora containing an intact text written in Linear B, the language of the court at Mycenae where the legendary Agamemnon ruled.

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Ancient Egyptians enjoyed red wine. But what did it taste like? Tim Atkin uncorks a mystery

It's not quite the stuff of an Indiana Jones movie, but the tale of King Tutankhamen's favourite tipple, revealed at a recent conference at the British Museum, would make a good documentary, involving an attractive Spanish Egyptologist, a 3,500-year-old mystery and traces of syringic acid. The story began when Dr Maria Rosa Guasch, a researcher at the University of Barcelona, persuaded the Egyptian government to let her take some scrapings from the bottom of an amphora found in Tutankhamen's tomb. The hieroglyph on its side ('Year 5, wine of the house of Tutankhamen, ruler of Thebes, life, prosperity and health, on the Western River, by the chief vintner Khaa') suggested the jar had contained wine for the afterlife. But what sort?

Using a combination of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, Guasch identified two compounds in the scrapings: tartaric and syringic acid. The first is surely conclusive proof of the presence of wine (it is only found in grapes, peanuts and baobab trees), while the second was even more interesting. Malvidin, which is a colour compound found in red wines, breaks down into syringic acid over time. So now we know that the Egyptians drank red wine.

The frustrating thing is we don't know which grape varieties they cultivated or what the resulting wines tasted like. One thing we can be sure of is that, in the absence of sulphur dioxide, the wine would have deteriorated very rapidly in a hot climate. Even the chief vintner Khaa, who appears to have been the leading consultant oenologist of his time, would have struggled to make the kind of wine we drink today.

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Archaeologists locate ditch surrounding Hopmarkt site

The excavations at the Hopmarkt in Aalst {prov. Eastern Flanders) continue to be succesful. The archaeological team was not only awarded a prestigious prize recently, they have also been able to locate the ditch surrounding the medieval site. While investigating this ditch, a bridge built in bricks was unearthed as well. In another trench the archaeologists found a.o. two well-preserved pots from the 15th century (picture) and a knife

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Greek treasures unearthed

Athens - Archaeologists in Crete have found an important trove of archaeological treasures containing some of the earliest known examples of Greek writing, the ministry of culture said on Saturday.

It said the finds were excavated at a long-abandoned site on a hill overlooking the port of Chania in Western Crete, which has been identified with the Minoan city of Kydonia.

Among the discoveries was an amphora containing an intact text written in linear B, the language of the court at Mycenae where the legendary Agamemnon ruled.

Also found were two terracotta tablets containing texts in Linear A, an even older alphabet - used around 1 700 years before the common era - which has not yet been deciphered.

The ministry said the archaeologists found evidence of a violent fire believed to have destroyed a town on the site around 1450 BCE. Excavations uncovered traces of a road and two ceramic ovens from the Roman period.

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Roadworks unearth ancient burial sites

ARCHAEOLOGICAL finds unearthed during £55 million improvement works on the A428 were on show at the first day of an exhibition displaying the road improvements.

The busy commuter road links the M11, the A1, the A14 and other local roads. It is being upgraded between Caxton Common and Hardwick, providing a 4.8-mile dual carriageway and a major junction at Hardwick to relieve congestion and improve safety.

An exhibition showing the improvement work, which will start this month, was opened to the public yesterday (Friday, 11 November) at South Cambridgeshire District Council's headquarters in Cambourne.

Also on show were some of the archaeological finds made before the improvement scheme began.

One of the more unusual finds was the discovery of two skeletons
* although they are not on show.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Iceman Ötzi visits Belgium

From 16 November 2005 to 19 March 2006 the Maaseiker Museum will be holding in the Church of the friars Minor a large family exhibition on Ötzi, the world-famous 5.300-year-old Iceman from the Italian Alps. This travelling exhibition is exclusive to Belgium and the Euregio. At this special exhibition that started a world tour in 2003, the visitor is given fascinating answers to countless interesting questions. Using the latest multimedie technologies, fascinating replicas and special objects, the exhibition portrays the daily life of Ötzi and the last days before his death.

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Archaeologists Go Digital

If Indiana Jones were a real archaeologist, he'd be just as likely to brandish a laptop with broadband as brush and note pad if a recent dig in the small English parish of Silchester was any indication.

Researchers from nearby Reading University employed a new methodology during this summer's dig season at the Roman site, excavating with the help of new technologies for streamlining the archaeological process. The innovations, collectively known as e-science, threaten to shrug off archeology's antiquated image.

Reading has worked at Silchester, considered one of the most important Roman sites in Britain, since 1997. This year, researchers abandoned the usual practice of collecting data manually and sorting it later, instead logging finds directly from the field using hand-held computers. An Integrated Archaeological Database System (IADB), developed by partnering York Archaeological Trust, houses their data in a central server at Reading.

Since the university's work began there eight years ago, everything uncovered at Silchester has been recorded and logged within IADB.

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DNA shows first Europeans were hunters not farmers

Whisper it quietly in Brussels but Europe may not have been a continent of farmers for time immemorial after all. New DNA research suggests we are actually descended from hunter-gatherers who pre-date the arrival of agricultural techniques.

The first farmers to arrive in Europe more than 7,000 years ago appear to have left behind a legacy of agriculture but no descendants, a study of ancient DNA has found. Modern Europeans do not seem to have inherited the genes of the first farmers to arrive from the Near East, where they had invented agriculture 12,000 years ago.

A study of 24 skeletons of an early farming community in central Europe has found that their DNA does not match the DNA of modern men and women living in the same part of the world. The researchers believe the findings indicate that although the first farmers brought agriculture to Europe, they did not manage to displace the much older, resident population of hunter gatherers.

In a paper published in the journal Science, the team concludes that modern Europeans are directly descended from the first modern humans to arrive on the continent more than 40,000 years ago when they survived on hunting game and gathering berries.

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Europeans Descended From Hunters, Not Farmers, Study Says

Europeans owe their ancestry mainly to Stone Age hunters, not to later migrants who brought farming to Europe from the Middle East, a new study suggests.

Based on DNA analysis of ancient skeletons from Germany, Austria, and Hungary, the study sways the debate over the origins of modern Europeans toward hunter-gatherers who colonized Europe some 40,000 years ago.

The DNA evidence suggests immigrant farmers who arrived tens of thousands of years later contributed little to the European gene pool.

Instead they left a cultural legacy by introducing agriculture some 7,500 years ago, the researchers say.

The study's findings, published this week in the journal Science, were a surprise to the study team, according to anthropologist Joachim Burger of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, in Mainz, Germany.

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Getty Museum's disputed art works return to Italy

Italy welcomed home on Friday three disputed art works from Los Angeles' J. Paul Getty Museum in the latest chapter of a saga that put the spotlight on the international trade in stolen art.

The return of the treasures was even more significant because it came just days before the resumption of a trial in Rome of one of the Getty's former curators on charges she conspired with dealers trafficking in looted antiquities.

Culture Minister Rocco Buttiglione thanked the Getty for returning the archaeological treasures but said he would not be satisfied until another 39 disputed works acquired by curator Marion True came home.

"We are firm on this point: what belongs to the Italian people must be returned to the Italian people," Buttiglione told a news conference.

The three works returned by the Getty are a large antique vase signed by Asteas, a painter from the ancient southern Italian city of Paestum, a bronze Etruscan candelabrum and an ancient Greek funerary stone.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ancient well discovery sheds light on city's medieval past

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed a medieval well over 3m (9ft) deep which had lain undiscovered for over 800 years.
The University of Sheffield's archaeological consultancy firm ARCUS made the unexpected find in Sheffield's city centre.

The discovery was made during the team's excavation at Carmel House on Fargate in Sheffield city centre, as part of the redevelopment of the site by Hermes Property Unit Trust.

University academics said it was "unprecedented evidence" about how Sheffield would have looked in medieval times, when it was a small market town until its massive growth during the industrial revolution.

The dating of the well, dug into sandstone bedrock, suggested it was contemporary with the rebuilding of Sheffield Castle in stone in 1270 and the granting of Sheffield's market charter by Edward I in 1296.

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Amateur discoveries that illuminate the past go on display

Hundreds of artefacts uncovered by amateur archaeologists, metal-detector enthusiasts, gardeners, farmers, builders and walkers have gone on display in London.

The items found in England and Wales over the past year include 427 pieces of jewellery and antiquities such as a seventh-century gilded copper head found near Milton Keynes and a coin proving the existence of a little-known Roman emperor, Domitian II, which was found in Chalgrove, Oxfordshire.

Many of the items, which also included a first-century nail cleaner and one of the most remarkable examples of an ornate Roman oil lamp found in Britain, went on display yesterday at the Museum of London.

Under the Treasure Act 1996, finders of treasure have a legal obligation to report potential discoveries over 300 years old to the authorities.

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An unpillaged Hellenistic tomb found in Macedonia

Grave contents are evidence of a thriving ancient settlement

The newly found tomb, measuring 2.7 x 3.3 meters, had contained the intact remains of four cremation burials.

The discovery of an unpillaged, Hellenistic-era chamber tomb on October 29 in Spilia Eordias, in the municipality of Aghia Paraskevi, near a monumental Macedonian masonry tomb, has cast doubts on prevailing views about the isolation of Upper and Lower Macedonia.

Clay and metal

The newly found tomb, measuring 2.7 x 3.30 meters, contained the intact remains of four cremation burials, dating from the second quarter of the second century BC to the last quarter of the first century AD.

The majority of the grave ornaments were clay vases and clay idols, including two cherubs and female figures.

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HOLZ-KULTUR – Von der Urzeit bis in die Zukunft

Als Vorbereitung auf eine neue Sonderausstellung, die ab Januar 2007 in Oldenburg präsentiert wird, richtet das Landesmuseum für Natur und Mensch eine Tagung aus, in der sich die unterschiedlichsten Fachdisziplinen mit dem Naturrohstoff „Holz“ beschäftigen.

Holz war und ist ein elementarer Rohstoff, da selbst heute der jährliche Bedarf weltweit noch immer steigt. Dies macht auf nationaler und internationaler Ebene eine zukunftsorientierte Auseinandersetzung mit ökologischen und ökonomischen Themen erforderlich.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

BAJR Heritage Calendar

David Connolly has just finished the revamp of the BAJR heritage calendar, comes with newfeatures, such as multi day events... and an extra section for workshops and courses

enjoy... feel free to post anything you have.. this area has been very popular - so it was worth making bigger.

Human remains unearthed in Wiltshire

BUILDERS have unearthed what appear to be the oldest human remains ever to be found in Malmesbury.

Workmen discovered the two skeletons last Thursday morning (October 27) as they began to dig foundations for an extension to a conference room at the Old Bell Hotel, in Abbey Row.

The findings led to work being immediately halted while police and then archaeology experts were called in to examine the skeletons.

Police quickly established the bodies, thought to be of an adult and a child, are hundreds of years old, leaving a criminal investigation uneccessary.

The following morning Malmesbury historian John Bowen was joined by the county council's chief archaeologist Roy Canham in examining the remains.

Samples from the remains were also removed for radio carbon dating to be completed to help more acurately establish their age.

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City dig unearths signs of the times

ROMAN cobblestones and a medieval fireplace were among the discoveries in the latest major archaeological dig in central York.

Dozens of trainee archaeologists from as far afield as Japan and New Zealand spent the summer excavating parts of the site of St Mary's Abbey, behind which York Art Gallery now stands.

Some of the finds will go on show at JORVIK Viking centre on Thursday next week, when visitors can handle artefacts and meet archaeologists from the project.
The dig was a partnership between the York Museums Trust, which owns the land and runs attractions including the art gallery and the nearby Yorkshire Museum, and the York Archaeological Trust, which is in the process of assessing and cataloguing finds.

Trust field officer Toby Kendall said: "It was the first modern archaeological excavation on this site. As well as training people in archaeology, the excavation aims to give a better understanding for the future management of the site, as well as offering more research into the archaeology of York."

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Foreign schools of archaeology enrich heritage

Since 1922, the Greek state has been trying to establish schools of archaeology abroad, with hundreds of plans, countless promises and even announcements made over the many years. Yesterday, however, Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis was pleased to present a report on the activities of the 17 foreign archaeological schools in Greece that have been around for some 160 years, as well as to announce that a Greek school beyond the country’s borders will also be opening soon.

The first of these schools being planned is for Italy, then for Albania — where operations are already under way under archaeologist C. Zachos — and Ukraine, while it looks like plans are on the right track for schools in Romania, Egypt, Georgia and Cyprus.

“There was never a problem with having a Greek presence in any country abroad,” said Tatoulis in a barbed remark against previous administrations that failed to establish Greek archaeological schools on an international level.

Sources also say that the ministry has succeeded in attaining a branch of UNESCO in Thessaloniki, which will deal with cultural issues concerning the broader Balkan region.

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Participate in Archaeological Surveys of the Crimean Coastline

Were I looking for a summer internship for next summer, this would be the one. The Centre for Underwater Archaeology is looking for Open Water-trained divers to travel to The Crimea, Ukraine, between June and September for a minimum of 21 days to conduct a four month field school in underwater archaeology in the Bay of Sudak (in the south-west part of the Crimea).

Students will be involved in the underwater archaeological surveys of the surrounding coastline. Clean, shallow water will make beginner divers comfortable. The main objects of the investigation are two medieval ships sunk into the Black Sea (the 10th century Byzantine and the 13th century Italian ships). For more information, contact Dr. Sergiy Zelenko at maritime at univ dot kiev dot ua. And if you go, please send us some photos!

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Die Himmelsscheibe von Nebra in Wien

Ab heute ist die 3.600 Jahre alte Himmelsscheibe von Nebra erstmals in Österreich zu sehen. Das Naturhistorische Museum in Wien präsentiert vom 9. November 2005 bis zum 5. Februar 2006 die Ausstellung "Der geschmiedete Himmel. Die Himmelsscheibe von Nebra". Neben der Originalscheibe führen archäologische Funde aus ganz Europa den Besucher in die Welt der Mythen und Riten der Bronzezeit.

Aus Anlass der Ausstellung kooperieren das Naturhistorisches Museum, das Planetarium Wien, die Urania-Sternwarte sowie die Kuffner Sternwarte. Führungen, Vorträge und Aktionstage in den Institutionen laden dazu ein, die astronomische, mythische und historische Dimension der Himmelsscheibe zu entdecken. Die Himmelsshow im Planetarium Wien lässt den Himmel über Nebra vor 3.600 Jahren wieder erstehen. Die "Reise durch die Nacht" versetzt den Besucher in die Zeit der Himmelsscheibe.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005


ANTLERS from an 11,000-year-old giant deer are being restored after they were unearthed by history students.
The Isle of Man College degree students were on a field trip in Kirk Michael with Dr Peter Davey, director of the Centre for Manx Studies and reader in archaeology at the University of Liverpool, when they found the remains of the Irish Elk in the cliffs.

The exact age of the animal isn't known, but it is thought it lived 11,000 years ago.

Amazed by the find, Dr Davey said: 'I just scraped the surface of the fallen cliff section, which was in a block that recently slid down the cliff, and uncovered an orange streak which, on further investigation, turned out to be antlers.'

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