Monday, May 28, 2007

Volunteers wanted for dig in England

Keen historians are being invited to help a team of Exeter University archaeologists uncover secrets of an ancient Bronze Age site. The team have worked at the site, in Stokenham, near Kingsbridge (South Devon, England), for two years and they will reopen it again from July 2 to 24. Last year's excavation unearthed a number of finds including Bronze Age pottery. Project director Penny Cunningham said that anyone who wanted to help would not need any particular skills. "They will be asked to sort or wash finds like pottery and will help analyse them," she said.

The team will work from 9am to 5pm every day except Fridays. Anyone who wants to lend should just turn up. There are open days on the weekends of July 7 and 8, 14 and 15 and 21 and 22. Children of all ages are welcome to participate in the junior archaeologist workshop days on July 7, 14 and 21 from 10am to 3pm. For more information contact Dr Williams, Department of Archaeology, Laver, University of Exeter, EX4 4QE, or, or call 01392 262491.

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The Southeast Asian Archaeology newsblog

The Southeast Asian Archaeology newsblog was started in May 2006 to keep track of the archaeology news in the region. Archaeology is a relatively young discipline in Southeast Asia today, and also one of the field’s most excitng frontiers. Even as many questions remain unanswered, it is becoming more and more apparent how diverse - yet closely interconnected - the region is. SEAArch initially began as a personal effort to learn more about the archaeology of Southeast Asia by keeping track of news, but has since expanded to cover podcasts, links and books as well.

You can find the blog at:

or in our sidebar under "Archaeological Weblogs"

Viking Longship to Sail Across North Sea

ROSKILDE, Denmark (AP) - On the skipper's command, deckhands haul in tarred ropes to lower the flax sail. Oars splash into the water. The crew, grimacing with strain, pull with steady strokes sending the sleek Viking longship gliding through the fjord.

A thousands years ago, the curved-prow warship might have spewed out hordes of bloodthirsty Norsemen ready to pillage and burn.

This time, the spoils are adventure rather than plunder.

The Sea Stallion of Glendalough is billed as the world's biggest and most ambitious Viking ship reconstruction, modeled after a warship excavated in 1962 from the Roskilde fjord after being buried in the seabed for nearly 950 years.

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Creationist museum brings dinosaurs on board Noah’s Ark

A vegetarian Tyrannosaurus rex frolicked alongside human beings only a few thousand years ago in the Garden of Eden until Eve decided to munch on that apple, according to the Creation Museum, which opens in Kentucky today.

The $27 million (£14 million) exhibition is funded by evangelical Christians, who apparently believe that by reclaiming dinosaurs and fossils for their literal biblical interpretation of natural history, teenagers are less likely to look at internet pornography or get pregnant out of wedlock.

This sprawling 50-acre (20hectare) site is the latest effort to counter the evolutionary science taught in state schools that Answers in Genesis, the religious group behind the museum, claims has chipped away at the nation’s moral fabric.

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Graveyard claimed to be Armenian belongs to Romans

Yusuf Halaçoğlu, president of the Turkish Historical Society (TTK), has announced that a graveyard in Mardin’s Nusaybin district that had been claimed by the Armenians in fact dates to the Roman period.

During a press conference Halaçoğlu said they had appealed to foreign scientists to come and assist with the opening of the graveyard. David Gaunt, a scientist from Switzerland, was the only one to express interest.

Gaunt accepted the offer on condition that the research be conducted without intervention from the Turkish administration. Gaunt began studies with the TTK president and delegation on April 24. However Gaunt soon realized that the photographs of the graveyard he had seen were different from the graveyard in Nusaybin and thus decided to return home without taking any soil or bone samples from the grave.

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Road plan fears for Dales heritage

PLANS to build a stone track across scenic Yorkshire Dales moorland are being delayed because of fears they could endanger a unique archaeological site.

Multi-millionaire Michael Cannon – one of Britain's richest men – wants to build the two-mile road on a grouse moor he owns in Upper Wensleydale.

He is also seeking permission to re-open a disused moorland quarry and extract 5,000 tonnes of limestone from which the track would be constructed.

But archaeologists are concerned the plan could jeopardise the remains of a historic opencast coalmining site.

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Hügelgrab aus der Urnenfelderzeit

Rund eine Woche dauerte eine archäologische Ausgrabung im Vorfeld einer Baumaßnahme in Wehrheim, Hochtaunuskreis, die vom Verein Archäologie im Gleiberger Land e.V. durchgeführt wurde.

Auf dem Nachbargrundstück wurde vor einigen Jahren bereits der Teil eines Gräberfeldes aus der späten Urnenfelderzeit (11./10. Jahrhundert v.Chr.) ausgegraben. Die damaligen Erkenntnisse konnten nun durch die neue Kampagne erweitert werden: es fand sich ein weiteres Grab, das von einem Kreisgraben mit 13,5 m Durchmesser umgeben war.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Archaeology at Newcastle University

We have added a link to the Archaeology at Newcastle University web site which has details of courses, staff, research interests, etc.

You go directly to the site here

or find the link in the sidebar under “Archaeological Academic Links”

TARA - Work Halted along Controversial Stretch of Motorway

Today in the Tara Skryne Valley a number of environmental activists prevented machinery from exiting construction depots along a controversial stretch of the proposed M3 motorway. The protesters maintain that no work should be ongoing along the route until directions are issued by Minister Roche regarding the new national monument at Lismullen. Two weeks ago a massive henge, 80mts in diameter, was discovered along the route through the Valley. Indications are that the henge was a ceremonial site connected to the Hill of Tara. No work took place along the contested stretch before lunchtime today.

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After the fire, heritage chiefs dare to hope that a treasure can be rebuilt

Investigators were last night combing through the blackened shell of the Cutty Sark to establish the scale of the damage caused by the fire that ripped through the historic 19th-century tea clipper in the early hours of yesterday.

As trustees waited to find out whether the ship could be restored, police said they believed the blaze could have been started deliberately. Firefighters were called at 4.46am and were on the scene within four minutes. By 6.20, they had brought the fire under control.

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Police launch Cutty Sark arson investigation

An appeal for help to save the Cutty Sark, one of the world's most important maritime treasures, was issued last night after the historic vessel was ravaged by a suspected arson attack that caused £10 million damage.

The Cutty Sark after the fire. It is thought that the iron hull of the vessel may have buckled in the heat

The charity in charge of restoring the tea clipper said it feared its insurance would not cover the full cost of repairing the ship to its original standards and appealed for donations to meet the shortfall.

The fire, which ripped through the vessel's 19th century hull as it sat in dry dock in Greenwich, east London, early yesterday, also left those involved in conservation work on the vessel emotionally devastated.

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A tale of two clippers

It could be fortuitous that the Clyde-built Cutty Sark went up in flames the week before The Carrick, the world's only other surviving tea clipper, is due to be consigned to oblivion. It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of these two ships to Britain's maritime heritage. Like thoroughbred race horses, they were built for speed at a time when fortunes were to be made from reaching London with the first tea of the season out of Shanghai. Under full sail, they were not only a beautiful sight but for a brief period they were able to outpace the new generation of steamships. We will never see their like again and it would be tragic if 2007 saw the demise of them both.

In recent years their fortunes have contrasted sharply. While Cutty Sark embarked last year on a £25m renovation project, The Carrick has continued to deteriorate at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine, after a £5m rescue plan failed to attract sufficient backing. It is a vivid illustration of the extent to which the estate agent's catchphrase, "Location, location, location", applies to British industrial and maritime heritage. It is almost inconceivable that The Carrick would have suffered this fate in the Solent or on the Thames. Scotland's preoccupation with fine art at the expense of its own industrial heritage is such that it would be easier to raise £5m for a Turner painting of The Carrick than the ship herself.

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Archaeological find could shed light on Orkney's past

Archaeologists have discovered what appears to be a subterranean Iron Age structure, known as a souterrain, in an Orkney field.

The find was made when the field was being seeded for barley. At first it was believed to be a Bronze Age cist burial, as others have previously been uncovered nearby, but subsequent examination has revealed it to be an Iron Age souterrain or earth-house.

Dr Allan Rutherford of Historic Scotland said: “Preliminary investigations by staff from Orkney College Archaeology Department have shown this to be a souterrain, rather than a cist burial as was initially thought. This example seems to conform to the Orkney form, with a long narrow passage and an oval chamber at the inner end. Structures like this are believed to be have been used essentially as storage cellars and were usually associated with above-ground houses, although it is now that they may have had wider uses, particularly ritual.

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'History itself has been lost'

Two hours after a fire ripped through the hull of the Cutty Sark, the smell of burning timber lingered on the morning air as fire crews continued to soak the boat's decks and hull using pressure hoses.

The blaze was brought under control quickly.

Emergency services received a call at 0446 BST from a member of the public who said the Cutty Sark was ablaze.

The 138-year-old tea clipper lies just yards from the Thames in the heart of Maritime Greenwich, a World Heritage Site.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Roman Woman Had Golden Smile

The earliest known dental prosthesis from ancient Rome may not have been very functional, but it gave its wealthy wearer a million dollar smile.

The gleaming grin resulted from multi-karat gold wire, which was used to string together "artificial teeth," according to the team of Italian researchers who analyzed the ancient bridgework.

They found the object, which dates from the 1st to the 2nd century A.D., in the mouth of an unidentified woman who was buried in an elaborate mausoleum within a Roman necropolis.

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Roman remains threaten metro

A planned hi-tech driverless underground railway line set to bring desperately needed transport links to the historic heart of Rome has run into a minefield of Roman remains.

Planners aim to send the new C line under the city centre at a depth of 30 metres, well beneath the archaeological treasures that litter Rome. Stations will also be built deep underground, but even the simple task of digging entrances and exits is proving a headache and could mean the scrapping of the Largo Torre Argentina stop, which serves crowded tourist sights such as the Pantheon.

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Getty Moves Closer to Returning an Ancient Statue to Italy

The J. Paul Getty Museum inched a step closer to relinquishing ownership of one of its most prized artifacts, a 2,400-year-old statue of a goddess claimed by Italy, at a conference of international experts to discuss the artifact this week, its director said.

The Getty has not reached a formal conclusion based on the conference, which was convened at the museum on Wednesday and was closed to the public. But museum officials and some of the experts who attended said their discussions buttressed what the museum says are its own suspicions that the statue, acquired by the Getty in 1988, might have been illegally excavated in southern Italy.

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Herodes - geschickter Diplomat und Friedensfürst

Es ist zwar Zufall, dass just wenige Tage nach der Entdeckung des vermutlichen Grabes von Herodes eine Publikation zu selbigem und seinen Beziehungen zum römisches Reich erscheint, doch wird diese mit Sicherheit das Bild dieses Königs präzisieren.

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Die Antike kopiert

Die Antike und was man dafür hielt, prägte entscheidend die Epoche des Klassizismus. Die Antikenbegeisterung jener Zeit ließ Keramikmanufakturen entstehen, die sich auf die Nachahmung antiker Vasen spezialisierten und einen internationalen Markt bedienten. In der Sonderausstellung "Keramische Meisterwerke des Klassizismus aus Neapel" präsentiert das Antikenmuseum der Universität Leipzig eine Auswahl solcher klassizistischer Vasen aus der Sammlung der Familie von Boch und den Beständen der Stiftung Saarländischer Kulturbesitz.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Excavations to start in July in Ancient City of Zeugma

Archaeological excavations will start on July 15th in the ancient city of Zeugma. Associate Prof. Kutalmis Gorkay of the Ankara University Department of Archaeology, who leads the excavations in the ancient city, said on Thursday that a 60-member team including 4 foreigners would participate in this year's excavations between July 15 and October 20.

During this year's excavations, Danae and Dionysos temples will be renovated, along with excavations in the Agora, he said, with findings to be displayed in the Gaziantep Archaeology Museum. "So far, we could unearth only 10 percent of the artifacts. The remaining 90 percent has still been under earth," he said in an interview with the Anatolia news agency. Gorkay said they aimed at making the ancient site an "archaeo-park."

Zeugma, an ancient city of Commagene, was unearthed in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep. The ancient city was originally founded as a Greek settlement by Seleucus I Nicator, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, in 300 B.C. King Seleucus almost certainly named the city Seleucia after himself. The population in the city was approximately 80,000.

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Novgorod archaeologists: Scouts reburied medieval remains

The mass grave of elders, women and children found in Shimsky District Novgorod Region, Russia, is dated back to 13-14th centuries, a REGNUM correspondent was told today at Novgorod Antiquity Club. According to the archaeologists, the grave is a medieval “zhalnik” (a Slavic grave). The experts say the grave was not made at a time: it was a cemetery that grew stage by stage.

The archaeologists say they knew long ago about the zhalnik. Since 1984, it has been under protection as a federal archaeological site and listed in the register of Novgorod Region historical and cultural sites, “Absence of coordination of archaeologists and the scouts from Dolina expedition resulted in serious damage to the grave,” the experts said.

As REGNUM reported earlier, the Dolina scouts found a grave near the village of Khotyn last autumn, and several days ago they exhumed the remains. On May 6, remains of 32 children and 56 women and elderly people were reburied in the village of Malye Ugorody. The scouts suppose that there was a mass shooting or burning of people on the same place in the Great Patriotic War.

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Out of Africa theory 'correct'

The theory that all modern humans descended out of Africa is almost certainly correct, new research claims.

According to the 'Out of Africa' theory, all modern humans come from a single group of Homo sapiens who emigrated from Africa 2,000 generations ago and spread throughout Europe and Asia over thousands of years.

They then replaced other early human settlers, such as Neanderthals, rather than interbreeding with them.

Some scientists have said that there is evidence which dispels this theory, but a new study claims that its DNA evidence proves Out of Africa to be true.

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Group threatens legal action over Tara

An environmental group warned today it would begin new legal proceedings to have work on the M3 motorway halted if sufficient action was not taken to preserve the recently discovered monument at Lismullen in the Tara-Skryne valley.

If the Minister for the Environment Dick Roche issues directions to allow the motorway between Navan and Dunshaughlin go through the site there will be litigation, TaraWatch spokesman Vincent Salafia said.

Archaeologists with the National Roads Authority (NRA) believe the circular enclosure - dating from the late Bronze or early Iron Age - may be a sister site to the Hill of Tara which is located 2km away.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

King Herod's tomb discovered in hilltop palace

An Israeli archaeologist has found the tomb of King Herod after a 35-year search. It is in the ruins of Herod's fortified palace on a hilltop outside Jerusalem.

The discovery was made in Herodium, a flattened hilltop in the desert east of Jerusalem, by Professor Ehud Netzer, one of the world's leading experts on Herod. He began concentrating his search on the palace in Herodium in 1972. But although most historians and archaeologists remained convinced that Herod was buried there, up until now no substantial evidence had been found.

Professor Netzer had been working on his search for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who had wanted to keep the discovery secret until today, when they planned to make the announcement in a press conference.

But late last night, the university released its preliminary details of the find on its website after the news was broken by the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.

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Archaeologist Finds Tomb of King Herod

JERUSALEM (AP) - An Israeli archaeologist has found the tomb of King Herod, the legendary builder of ancient Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Hebrew University said late Monday.

The tomb is at a site called Herodium, a flattened hilltop in the Judean Desert, clearly visible from southern Jerusalem. Herod built a palace on the hill, and researchers discovered his burial site there, the university said.

The university had hoped to keep the find a secret until Tuesday, when it planned a news conference to disclose the find in detail, but the Haaretz newspaper found out about the discovery and published an article on its Web site.

Herod became the ruler of the Holy Land under the Romans around 40 B.C. The wall he built around the Old City of Jerusalem still stands, and he also ordered big construction projects in Caesaria, Jericho, the hilltop fortress of Massada and other sites.

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Archaeologist Finds Tomb of King Herod

JERUSALEM (AP) - An Israeli archaeologist has found the tomb of King Herod, the legendary builder of ancient Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Hebrew University said late Monday.

The tomb is at a site called Herodium, a flattened hilltop in the Judean Desert, clearly visible from southern Jerusalem. Herod built a palace on the hill, and researchers discovered his burial site there, the university said.

The university had hoped to keep the find a secret until Tuesday, when it planned a news conference to disclose the find in detail, but the Haaretz newspaper found out about the discovery and published an article on its Web site.

Herod became the ruler of the Holy Land under the Romans around 40 B.C. The wall he built around the Old City of Jerusalem still stands, and he also ordered big construction projects in Caesaria, Jericho, the hilltop fortress of Massada and other sites.

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Tomb of King Herod discovered in West Bank

Archaeologists in Israel claim to have unearthed the tomb of King Herod.

King Herod
Herod the Great

Pieces of an elaborate sarcophagus believed to contain Herod’s remained were found at Herodium, a mesa rising more than 750 metres above sea level around 7.5 miles south of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank.

Herod built a palace on the flattened hilltop and it was long thought that he was buried on the site, but years of excavations failed to find his burial spot.

"Three weeks ago we found the sarcophagus and we knew that it was it," said Ehud Netzer, a professor of archaeology at Hebrew University, who led the digs and has been working at the site for three decades.

"The location and unique nature of the findings, as well as the historical record, leave no doubt that this was Herod's burial site.”

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King Herod's grave uncovered in hilltop fortress

Archaeologists have unearthed the grave of King Herod the Great, the ruler of Jerusalem who attempted to kill Jesus soon after his birth, it was announced today.

Professor Ehud Netzer, of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said that he had finally located the king's last resting place in Herodium, Herod's fortified palace on a hilltop outside Jerusalem, after a 35-year search.

"This is significant because of Herod's importance to Christianity and Judaisim and the number of buildings he left behind," he said.

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King Herod's ancient tomb 'found'

An Israeli archaeologist says he has found the tomb of King Herod, the ruler of Judea while it was under Roman administration in the first century BC.

After a search of more than 30 years, Ehud Netzer of the Hebrew University says he has located the tomb at Herodium, a site south of Jerusalem.

Herod was noted in the New Testament for his Massacre of the Innocents.

Told of Jesus' birth, Herod ordered all children under two in Bethlehem to be killed, the Gospel of Matthew said.

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Archaeologists unearth King Herod's tomb

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An ancient staircase used in a royal funeral procession led an Israeli archaeologist to solve a 2,000-year-old mystery, the location of the tomb of the Roman-anointed "King of the Jews," Herod the Great.

Hebrew University archaeologist Ehud Netzer said on Tuesday he had found the sarcophagus of the king, who ruled Judea from about 37 BC until his death in 4 BC, had been smashed, most likely by Jews who rebelled against Rome from 66 to 72 AD.

Speaking at a news conference a day after the university announced the discovery, Netzer said the monarch's remains most likely disappeared when the rebels raided the tomb at Herodium, where Herod's fortress palace once stood, near Jerusalem.

Herod has a special place in biblical history.

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Fragmentary Knowledge

Was the Antikythera Mechanism the world’s first computer?

In October, 2005, a truck pulled up outside the National Archeological Museum in Athens, and workers began unloading an eight-ton X-ray machine that its designer, X-Tek Systems of Great Britain, had dubbed the Bladerunner. Standing just inside the National Museum’s basement was Tony Freeth, a sixty-year-old British mathematician and filmmaker, watching as workers in white T-shirts wrestled the Range Rover-size machine through the door and up the ramp into the museum. Freeth was a member of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project—a multidisciplinary investigation into some fragments of an ancient mechanical device that were found at the turn of the last century after two thousand years in the Aegean Sea, and have long been one of the great mysteries of science.

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Ancient Gladiator Mosaic Found in Roman Villa

A newly discovered mosaic might depict a "superstar" gladiator—a fighter who won the hearts of the people much like Maximus, the general-turned-fighter played by Russell Crowe in the 2000 film Gladiator.

Archaeologists discovered the image of the ancient brawler just outside Rome at the residence of Emperor Commodus. The movie version of Commodus, played by actor Joaquin Phoenix, was Maximus' enemy.

Researchers say the pictured fighter was probably a star gladiator fancied by the real Commodus, who was an enthusiast of blood sports.

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Archaeologists discover the real Roman Gladiator Maximus

Archaeologists have discovered a new mosaic depicting a superstar gladiator, who won the hearts of the people, much like Maximus, the general-turned-fighter played by Russell Crowe in the movie Gladiator.

Archaeologists have discovered a new mosaic depicting a superstar gladiator, who won the hearts of the people, much like Maximus, the general-turned-fighter played by Russell Crowe in the movie 'Gladiator'.

The image was discovered just outside Rome at the residence of Emperor Commodus.

The movie version of Commodus, played by actor Joaquin Phoenix, was Maximus' enemy.

Researchers say the pictured fighter was probably a star gladiator fancied by the real Commodus, who was an enthusiast of blood sports.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Modern Man, Neanderthals seen as kindred spirits

Researchers have long debated what happened when the indigenous Neanderthals of Europe met 'modern humans' arriving from Africa starting some 40,000 years ago. The end result was the disappearance of the Neanderthals, but what happened during the roughly 10,000 years that the two human species shared a land? A new review of the fossil record from that period has come up with a provocative conclusion: The two groups saw each other as kindred spirits and, when conditions were right, they mated.

In his latest work, published last week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Trinkaus, of Washington University in St. Louis, analyzed prehistoric fossil remains from various parts of Europe. He concluded that a significant number have attributes associated with both Neanderthals and the modern humans who replaced them. "Given the data we now have, it would be highly improbable to argue there is no Neanderthal contribution to the early European population that came out of Africa," Trinkaus said. "I believe there was continuous breeding between the two for some period of time."

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Study: prehistoric man had sex for fun

New research into Stone Age humans has argued that, far from having intercourse simply to reproduce, they had sex for fun. Various sex practices were widespread in primitive societies as a way of building up cultural ties. According to the study, a 30,000-year-old statue of a naked woman - the Venus of Willendorf - and an equally ancient stone phallus found in a German cave, provide the earliest direct evidence that sex was about far more than babies.

Timothy Taylor, reader in archeology at Bradford University, reviewed evidence from dozens of archeological finds and scientific studies for his research. "The widespread lay belief that sex in the past was predominantly heterosexual and reproductive can be challenged," said Taylor. He argues that monogamy only became established as hunter-gatherer societies took up agriculture and settled in houses, allowing the social roles of men and women to become more fixed.

Experts believe research such as Taylor's may help overturn false assumptions that sex for the purposes of reproduction is the form closest to nature. Petra Boynton, a relationship counselor and health lecturer at University College, London, found the study 'refreshing.' "So much evolutionary theory promotes the idea that humans, particularly women, are preprogrammed for monogamy, but that is often simply overlaying science on a pre-existing view of society," she said.

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Ancient pips reveal thirst for pleasures of the vine

Gastroarchaeology, the study of our ancestors’ cooking and eating habits, has a long history. Based initially on animal bones, the recent systematic recovery of plant remains and even coprolites – fossilised faeces – has led to a more broad-based understanding of ancient diets.

Our earliest forebears seem to have scavenged for meat from carnivore kills, collected fruits and seeds, and grubbed for roots: some ten millennia ago people in the Middle East began to grow wheat, barley, lentils and other cereals and pulses, and domesticated sheep, goats, cattle and pigs to eat, and then for milk, cheese, and wool. In the Americas, maize was the staple crop, while few animals were domesticated, even by the time of the Spanish Conquest.

Several recent studies have expanded our understanding: in northern Greece, a burnt-down house has preserved what are claimed to be the oldest known grapes, and the earliest evidence for wine.

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Digging in...

PEOPLE in York were getting in touch with the past during a public open day at an archaeological site.

York Archaeological Trust (YAT) is excavating the Hungate site in a bid to uncover the layers of history behind this major part of the city centre - and on Saturday YAT archaeologists were showing off their findings.

YAT will be digging the area, which lies to the east of the city centre, by the River Foss, until 2012.

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Historically Important Greek Stele Inscriptions Unveiled

The Israel Museum unveiled a unique 2,200-year-old stele (inscribed stone block) on May 3 that provides new insight into the dramatic story of Heliodorus and the Temple in Jerusalem, as related in the Second Book of Maccabees.

"The Heliodorus stele is one of the most important and revealing Hellenistic inscriptions from Israel," said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum.

"It contextualizes the Second Book of Maccabees and provides an independent and authentic source for an important episode in the history leading up to the Maccabean Revolt, whose victorious conclusion is celebrated each year during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah."

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Climate Change, Not Humans, Trounced Neanderthals

Neanderthals disappeared from Earth more than 20,000 years ago, but figuring out why continues to challenge anthropologists. One team of scientists, however, now says they have evidence to back climate change as the main culprit.

The Iberian Peninsula, better known as present-day Spain and Portugal, was one of the last Neanderthal refuges. Many scientists have thought that out-hunting by Homo sapiens and interbreeding with them brought Neanderthals to their demise, but climate change has also been proposed.

Francisco Jiménez-Espejo, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Granada in Spain, says a lack of evidence has left climate change weakly supported—until now. “We put data behind the theory,” he said, filling in a large gap in European climate records when Neanderthals faded out of existence.

The scientists’ study is detailed in a recent issue of Quaternary Science Reviews.

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Builders move in at castle

Stafford Castle is undergoing a major £100,000 renovation project.

Work to create a new visitors entrance and to restore the west wing has just started at the popular tourist attraction.

It is anticipated that the new entrance will be completed in time to coincide with the first Stafford Festival Shakespeare performance of Much Ado About Nothing on June 28.

Workers will be on site for the next couple of months restoring the main wall to the west of the castle, which faces the M6 motorway.

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Native American DNA found in UK

DNA testing has uncovered British descendents of Native Americans brought to the UK centuries ago as slaves, translators or tribal representatives.

Genetic analysis turned up two white British women with a DNA signature characteristic of American Indians.

An Oxford scientist said it was extremely unusual to find these DNA lineages in Britons with no previous knowledge of Native American ancestry.

Indigenous Americans were brought over to the UK as early as the 1500s.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Arrogance and Ineptitude led to M3 Debacle

After the recent announcement of the discovery of a National Monument at Lismullen, the Campaign to Save Tara is calling for any decision on the future of the Henge to be postponed until the Election is over. As far back as 2001 a Government funded research project reported that the whole area around the Hill of Tara comprised a 'mosaic of monuments' and should be considered as a whole and interconnected archaeological landscape. During the preparation for the Environmental Impact Statement, the NRA’s own archaeological advisors stated: ‘The monuments around Tara cannot be viewed in isolation, or as individual sites, but must be seen in the context of an intact archaeological landscape, which should not under any circumstances be disturbed, in terms of visual or direct impact on the monuments themselves.’ (Margaret Gowan and Co. Ltd, Navan to Dunshaughlan Route Selection, August 2000, paragraph 7.3)

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Bones clue to life and death of gladiators

Remarkable details of how Roman gladiators fought each other - and how a cowardly combatant would be put to death - have emerged after the discovery of a dedicated graveyard for those who died in the public arena.

The find, the first of its kind in the Roman world, has been made at Ephesus, now in Turkey, but the capital of western Asia under Rome.

Archaeologists have found three gravestones depicting armed gladiators and thousands of bones - almost all from men aged between 20 and 30 and bearing signs of injury from weapons. Tell-tale nicks on vertebrae appear to confirm accounts suggested on carved panels that a combatant who had shown little skill, or even cowardice, would be despatched after his fight by kneeling so that a sword could be rammed down his throat into his heart.

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Twenty skeletons - thought to be more than 300 years old - have been unearthed on a Plymouth building site.Archaeologists have spent the past two weeks digging up the bones on the former Crescent Cars site at the junction of Athenaeum Street and Notte Street, in the city centre.

They originally thought there were just four sets of bones on the site - but now they realise they have discovered an entire burial ground.

The first set of bones was found by contractors working on the site, however digs and investigations by experts from Exeter Archaeology have since been carried out.

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Roman ring gives clue to buried treasure

A SILVER Roman ring found in a field in Cottered may indicate that a treasure hoard could be buried on the edge of Buntingford.

The Roman 'Empire ring', right, dating from the 1st-3rd centuries and made of solid silver, was discovered by a metal detector in the same field and on the same day as a 3,500-year-old Bronze Age penannular ring.

It is believed more ancient artefacts were found during the same hunt, on August 6, 2006.

Coroner Edward Thomas declared the find to be treasure.

He said that a report from Dr Ralph Jackson, curator of Romano-British collections at the British Museum, revealed that it was only the fourth ring of its kind found in Britain, two of which are on display in the museum.

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Ireland Halts Tara Valley Highway Work After Archeological Find

Ireland's government halted work on a highway passing less than a mile from the Hill of Tara, the site of a 5,000-year-old passage tomb, burial grounds and ancient stone monuments after the remains of an enclosure were discovered on the route.

``Everybody knew that this route was destined to destroy the landscape of Tara if it went ahead,'' the Campaign to Save Tara group said in a statement late yesterday welcoming the halt. Work had begun a day earlier.

The 37-mile (60-kilometer) road, intended to ease congestion in towns on a commuter route to Dublin, will run through the Skryne Valley next to Tara. Opponents say the road, in particular a 34-acre (14-hectare) floodlit intersection north of the hill, will ruin the landscape and destroy many archeological sites.

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Gauner, Gräber und Gelehrte

Gauner, Gräber und Gelehrte. Antikenraub und Archäologie im Lichte der aktuellen Gesetzeslage, so lautet der Titel eines Kolloquiums das am 5. Mai 2007 an der Universität Frankfurt stattfindet.

Veranstaltet vom Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften der Universität Frankfurt wird auf der eintägigen Tagung das Problem des Antikenraubs und des illegalen Handels nicht nur von archäologischer Seite beschrieben, sondern auch unter juristischen und polizeilichen Aspekten beleuchtet.

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