Saturday, December 20, 2008

VIDEO: "Viking Horse" Has 2 More Gaits

Brought to the island by Vikings, the Icelandic horse does two gaits (besides walk, trot, and gallop) that no other horse does.

Watch the video...

University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology

Cave paintings, castles and pyramids, Neanderthals, Romans and Vikings - archaeology is about the excitement of discovery, finding out about our ancestors, exploring landscape through time, piecing together puzzles of the past from material remains.

Our courses enable you to experience all this through online archaeological resources based on primary evidence from excavations and artefacts and from complex scientific processes and current thinking. Together with guided reading, discussion and activities you can experience how archaeologists work today to increase our knowledge of people and societies from the past.

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Archaeological discovery: Earliest evidence of our cave-dwelling human ancestors

A research team led by Professor Michael Chazan, director of the University of Toronto's Archaeology Centre, has discovered the earliest evidence of our cave-dwelling human ancestors at the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa.

Stone tools found at the bottom level of the cave — believed to be 2 million years old — show that human ancestors were in the cave earlier than ever thought before. Geological evidence indicates that these tools were left in the cave and not washed into the site from the outside world.

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Two Medieval Hoards Discovered in Historical Centre of Moscow

A unique hidden treasure consisting of 11 Russian coins of the epoch of Vasily the Blind (Vasily Tyomny) has been found during archeological digging in Tyoplye Ryady in Ilyinka Street.

This hoard of medieval coins is one of the biggest in Moscow. However, much bigger buried coin treasures have been recently found one the place of a medieval settlement near Volnino Village of Muromsk District, Vladimir Region.

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Reading Bones to Unlock Mysteries of the Evolution of Hunting and Warfare

Read any good bones lately?

Visiting biological anthropologist Jill Rhodes has, and they may provide some of the earliest evidence of when modern humans started doing something that would have been a pivotal development in the evolution of hunting and warfare—something we all take for granted.

New research by Rhodes and Steven E. Churchill of Duke University published in the Journal of Human Evolution addresses the question of when human hunters added long-range projectile weapons (those thrown overhead) to their arsenal and whether this was a hunting method also employed by Neandertals of the time.

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Wie das Wasser nach Xanten kam

Was Archäologen der Außenstelle Xanten des LVR-Amtes für Bodendenkmalpflege im Rheinland vermutet und seit einigen Wochen durch Grabungen untersucht haben, hat sich nun bestätigt: Auch bei der römischen Wasserleitung nach Xanten, wurde das Wasser über eine Brücke geführt.

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Seltener Bleibarrenfund vor der Küste von Ibiza

Kölner Wissenschaftler vermutet Rüstungsgüter für Karthago

Einem Wissenschaftler des Archäologischen Instituts der Universität zu Köln, Dr. Marcus Heinrich Hermanns, ist es gelungen, vor der Nordküste von Ibiza aus 39 Metern Tiefe drei Bleibarren zu bergen, die vermutlich aus dem 3. Jahrhundert vor Christus stammen. Einer dieser Barren ist mit iberischen Schriftzeichen gekennzeichnet. Den Metallanalysen des Deutschen Bergbaumuseums in Bochum nach stammt der Rohstoff aus der Bergwerksregion der Sierra Morena in Südspanien.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Library Thing

(I am very grateful to Christine of the Mirabilis blog whose posting on Library Thing first brought the site to my attention.)

Library Thing describes itself as the world’s largest book club. Simple entry by means of ISBN or title enables (fairly) rapid cataloguing of your library.

There are already quite a number of archaeologists and people interested in archaeology using the site, and there are several archaeology groups.

Give it a try!

You can find Library Thing at:

Earth's Original Ancestor Was LUCA, Not Adam Nor Eve

Here's another argument against intelligent design: An evolutionary geneticist from the Université de Montréal, together with researchers from the French cities of Lyon and Montpellier, have published a ground-breaking study that characterizes the common ancestor of all life on earth, LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor).

Their findings, presented in a recent issue of Nature, show that the 3.8-billion-year-old organism was not the creature usually imagined.

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Medieval music brought back to life

Music from a medieval manuscript that has not been heard since the 15th century has been brought back to life, thanks to researchers at The University of Nottingham.

The project, involving collaboration with academics in Germany, has resulted in the production of a modern colour facsimile of one of the largest, oldest and most important collections of vocal music to survive from late-medieval Europe, as well as a CD recording of some of the music it contains. The St Emmeram Codex is a handwritten anthology of 255 compositions of mostly polyphonic music ( music for more than one voice ), both sacred and secular. The manuscript belonged to the Benedictine monastery of St Emmeram in Regensburg, Germany, but since the early 19th century has been kept under lock and key in the Bavarian State Library in Munich.

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Four-storey hotel to be built opposite Hampton Court

A four-storey river-front hotel is to be built opposite Hampton Court Palace despite vocal objections from the heritage lobby and historian Dr David Starkey, planners have decided.

The development, which also includes a separate care home for ex-servicemen, had pitted the Tudor specialist against Falklands War veteran Simon Weston.

Dr Starkey objected to the riverfront hotel, which will face Henry VIII's palace across the River Thames.

He said: "There can be no reason for new, out of scale and out of character development on that waterfront.

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Passage graves from an astronomical perspective

Passage graves are mysterious barrows from the Stone Age. New research from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen indicates that the Stone Age graves' orientation in the landscape could have an astronomical explanation. The Danish passage graves are most likely oriented according to the path of the full moon, perhaps even according to the full moon immediately before a lunar eclipse. The results are published in the scientific journal Acta Archaeologica.

Claus Clausen, who graduated as astronomer from the Niels Bohr Institute, has also always been interested in archeology. There are many Stone Age graves in Denmark, where archaeologists estimate that around 40.000 large stone graves were built from around 3500 to 3000 BC. Only about 500 of the large passage graves, called giant tombs (in Danish Jaettestuer) are preserved today, but one of the great mysteries is their orientation in the landscape.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

DNA is recovered from ancestral snack

WE MAY soon find out exactly what our ancestors ate when they sat down to dinner. The discovery that DNA can be extracted from ancient cooked bones overturns the expectation that heat would destroy such genetic material.

Claudio Ottoni of the University of Rome, Italy, and his team studied 1100-year-old cattle bones from an archaeological site in the UK. By heating modern cattle bones, they found that temperatures of 140 °C damaged the collagen, and 170 °C destroyed it. While the team are unsure how hot the ancient bones got, they did find that only up to 16 per cent of the collagen that remained in them was undamaged. In contrast, the DNA they extracted from the old bones was identifiably bovine (Naturwissenschaften, DOI: 10.1007/s00114-008-0478-5).

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Three marble heads excavated at archaeological site Stibera

Three marble heads - one of an adult man, the other of a woman and the third one of a young boy - are the latest discovery unearthed during this year's archaeological excavations at ancient site Stibera in Prilep region.

- These latest discoveries found during the three-month excavations indicate that the Stibera site is of huge importance, i.e. it was a rich city with rich inhabitants. All the artifacts or statues that have been found so far point out that Stibera was populated by 20.000 inhabitants between 3rd century B.C. and 3rd century A.D., said archaeologist Liljana Kepeska of the Prilep Museum and Institute.

In addition to the marble heads, plaques bearing Greek letters in Latin alphabet were found, which means that prominent citizens had lived in Stibera and that the province Macedonia was significant in the period between the 2nd and 3rd century A.D.

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London Archaeologist Archive Released

The Archaeology Data Service and the London Archaeologist Association are pleased to announce the online availability of London Archaeologist archive. Published by the London Archaeologist Association since 1968 it covers every major archaeological discovery, period, event and issue. Content includes excavation reports, historical articles, artefact and finds studies, environmental archaeology reports, exhibition reports, book reviews, news and commentary. The online archive at the ADS includes digitised articles, along with selected indexes, from 1968-2005 (volumes 1-10).For anyone specifically interested in the history, heritage or archaeology of the capital, London Archaeologist is essential reading, however, it also has a wide appeal to all archaeologist whatever their specialism given the depth and breadth of topics covered.

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Ancient Mass Graves of Soldiers, Babies, Found in Italy

More than 10,000 graves containing ancient amphorae, "baby bottles," and the bodies of soldiers who fought the Carthaginians were found near the ancient Greek colony of Himera, in Italy, archaeologists announced recently.

"It's probably the largest Greek necropolis in Sicily," said Stefano Vassallo, the lead archaeologist of the team that made the discoveries, in September.

The ancient burial ground was uncovered during the construction of a railway extension.

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Farmer digs up ancient sanctuary in Italy

A farmer working his land south of Rome dug up hundreds of artifacts from a 2,600-year-old sanctuary, but ran afoul of police when he tried to sell the ancient hoard, officials said Wednesday.

After spotting fragments of pottery in soil dug up by the farmer, authorities searched his home last month and seized more than 500 artifacts, including perfume vials, cups and miniature vases used as votive objects.

The art squad of the Carabinieri paramilitary police said the farmer was placed under investigation for allegedly trafficking in antiquities. Ancient artifacts found in Italy are considered state property, and finds must be reported to authorities.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Prehistoric settlement uncovered

An unknown prehistoric settlement has been revealed during archaeological work in East Taunton, Somerset.

The dig was commissioned by Somerset County Council before construction begins on the Park and Ride scheme for the Cambria Farm site.

The remains of a prehistoric farm and surrounding fields reveal human occupation from the late Bronze Age to the Roman period (1000 BC to 400 AD).

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Battlefield relics could rewrite Roman history

ARCHAEOLOGISTS say the history books about Roman legions in Europe will have to be revised following the "sensational" discovery of a battlefield in northern Germany this week.

Arrowheads, axes, catapults, spears, coins and lucky charms of the centurions of Rome

who clashed with the Hun tribesmen in the 3rd century AD have been found in a forest. The clash of arms, say experts, would have resembled those portrayed in the Russell Crowe epic Gladiator.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Predecessor of Cows, The Aurochs, Were Still Living In The Netherlands Around AD 600

Archaeological researchers at the University of Groningen have discovered that the aurochs, the predecessor of our present-day cow, lived in the Netherlands for longer than originally assumed. Remains of bones recently retrieved from a horn core found in Holwerd (Friesland, Netherlands), show that the aurochs became extinct in around AD 600 and not in the fourth century.

The last aurochs died in Poland in 1627. In January 2008, the bony core horn was unearthed in a mound near Holwerd by amateur-archaeologist Lourens Olivier from Ternaard. The Groningen Institute for Archaeology at the University of Groningen has established that it came from the left horn of an aurochs bull, and C14 dating reveals that the horn dates back to between AD 555 and 650.

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Developing SASSA: a Soil Analysis Support System for Archaeologists

There is constant pressure on field archaeologists to be familiar with the core concepts of a diverse range of specialist disciplines. Soils and sediments are an integral part of archaeological sites, and soil and sedimentary analyses applied to archaeological questions are now recognised as an important branch of geoarchaeology. However, the teaching of soils in archaeology degrees is variable and many archaeologists complain they lack the confidence and skills to describe and interpret properly the deposits they excavate.

SASSA (Soil Analysis Support System for Archaeologists) is a free-to-use, internet-based system designed to familiarise archaeologists with the concepts and possibilities offered by the scientific study of soils and sediments associated with archaeological sites.

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Iron Age ‘sacrifice’ is Britain’s oldest surviving brain

The oldest surviving human brain in Britain, dating back at least 2000 years to the Iron Age, has been unearthed during excavations on the site of the University of York’s campus expansion at Heslington East.

Archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust, commissioned by the University to carry out the exploratory dig, made the discovery in an area of extensive prehistoric farming landscape of fields, trackways and buildings dating back to at least 300 BC.

And they believe the skull, which was found on its own in a muddy pit, may have been a ritual offering.

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Roman battlefield discovered in northern Germany

Archaeologists say they have uncovered a third-century battlefield in northern Germany which could prove that Roman legions were fighting in the region much later than historians have long believed.

Rome's most famous incursion into the north of modern Germany came in A.D. 9, when Roman soldiers were defeated by Germanic tribesman at the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest.

However, the newly uncovered battlefield near Kalefeld-Oldenrode, south of Hanover, is some 200 kilometers (124 miles) northwest of the Teutoberg Forest and appears to date to between A.D. 180-260.

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Rare Lead Bars Discovered Off The Coast Of Ibiza May Be Carthaginian Munitions

Dr. Marcus Heinrich Hermanns from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cologne has recovered three lead bars which may originate from the third century before Christ, 39 meters under the sea off the north coast of Ibiza. One of the bars has Iberian characters on it. According to the German Mining Museum in Bochum, the lead originates from the mines of Sierra Morena in southern Spain.

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Römisches Schlachtfeld am Harzrand entdeckt

200 Jahre nach der Varusschlacht kam es offenbar tief im Germanischen Gebiet erneut zu einer Schlacht zwischen Römern und Germanen. Die spektakuläre Entdeckung, die auf die Fundmeldung eines Amateurarchäologen zurückgeht, bringt überkommene Geschichtsbilder ins Wanken.

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Discovery of Roman Battlefield Poses Historical Riddle

Archaeologists in Germany say they have found an ancient battlefield strewn with Roman weapons. The find is significant because it indicates that Romans were fighting battles in north Germany at a far later stage than previously assumed.

The wilds of Germany may not have been off-limits to Roman legions, archaeologists announced on Monday. At a press conference in the woods near the town of Kalefeld, about 100 kilometers south of Hanover, researchers announced the discovery of a battlefield strewn with hundreds of Roman artifacts dating from the 3rd century AD.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Fifth Century settlement located

A Fifth Century Germanic settlement has been discovered on land set out for regeneration in Kent.

A team of 30 archaeologists has been studying debris at the site in Rushenden, on the Isle of Sheppey, to learn how the original settlers lived.

The remains of a large boat-shaped hall have been found as well as evidence of boat-building activity.

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Rare artifacts uncovered in Roman baths dig

ROME (Reuters Life!) - Excavations at an ancient Roman villa and bath complex in the outskirts of Rome have unearthed a wealth of surprisingly well-preserved artifacts, including the marble head of a Greek god, archaeologists said on Wednesday.

The site of the Villa delle Vignacce, toward Ciampino airport south of Rome, was first explored by archaeologists in 1780 who found statues that are now in the Vatican museum.

But excavations began in earnest only about two years ago, revealing a residence attached to an elaborate thermal bath complex dating to the 1st century A.D. complete with hot baths, large tubs and a communal latrine.

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Graves 'may mark ancient church'

A team of Oxfordshire researchers and archaeologists have discovered three graves which they believe could mark the site of a medieval church.

The remains, which are about 800-years-old, were found in gardens of two cottages in Bix Bottom, near Henley.

They believe they may mark the location of the lost church of Bix Gibwyn.

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Prehistoric bronze hoard found off Greek beach

ATHENS, Greece – Authorities say a hoard of 4,500-year-old copper weapons recovered off a northern beach is the largest of its kind ever found in Greece.

A Culture Ministry statement says the discovery includes at least 110 ax and hammer heads, but several more should be extracted from compacted masses of corroded metal.

The ministry says they were probably buried at a time of unrest or war. The hoard would have represented a fortune at the time.

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Antikythera: A 2,000-year-old Greek computer comes back to life

Regulars of the Science Weekly podcast will remember our interview with Jo Marchant, the author of Decoding the Heavens. The book tells the story of the Antikythera mechanism, a mysterious clockwork object made up of numerous meshed cogs that was discovered more than a century ago among the cargo of a Greek shipwreck.

The mystery of how the Greeks had made a machine that appeared to be 1800 years ahead of its time and why that knowledge was seemingly lost is fascinating, but Marchant's story is really about the scientists and engineers who have fallen under the spell of the Antikythera mechanism over the last century. It is a gripping tale of scientific obsession, rivalry and skulduggery.

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Archimedes and the 2000-year-old computer

MARCELLUS and his men blockaded Syracuse, in Sicily, for two years. The Roman general expected to conquer the Greek city state easily, but the ingenious siege towers and catapults designed by Archimedes helped to keep his troops at bay.

Then, in 212 BC, the Syracusans neglected their defences during a festival to the goddess Artemis, and the Romans finally breached the city walls. Marcellus wanted Archimedes alive, but it wasn't to be. According to ancient historians, Archimedes was killed in the chaos; by one account a soldier ran him through with a sword as he was in the middle of a mathematical proof.

One of Archimedes's creations was saved, though. The general took back to Rome a mechanical bronze sphere that showed the motions of the sun, moon and planets as seen from Earth.

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Oldest brain of Britain unearthed in muddy pit

Archaeologists have unearthed Britain’s oldest human brain. The Iron Age brain, at least 2,000 years old, was spotted inside a skull in a muddy pit in the Heslington area of York. It is believed to be one of the oldest found anywhere in the world. Sonia O’Connor, research fellow in archaeological sciences at the University of Bradford, said: “The survival of brain remains where no other soft tissues are preserved is extremely rare.” It is believed that the skull was a ritual offering.

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Ancient Roman battlefield excavated in Lower Saxony

Archaeologists have discovered an ancient roman battlefield from the third century near Göttingen that will rewrite history, Lower Saxony's department for preservation of historical monuments said on Thursday.

“The find can be dated to the third century and will definitely change the historical perception of that time,” Dr. Henning Haßmann told The Local.

The amazing discovery allows an insight in what must have been a dramatic battle between Romans and Germanic tribes. “The find indicates a massive Roman military presence,” Haßmann said.

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Medieval Teutonic knights' remains found in Poland

Polish archaeologists said this week that they had identified the remains of three leaders of the Teutonic Knights, an armed religious order that ruled swathes of the country centuries ago.

"Anthropological and DNA testing has enabled us to back up the theory that these are the remains of the grand masters. We can be 96 percent certain," Bogumil Wisniewski, head of a team which found the skeletons, told AFP on Thursday.

Wisniewski said his team was convinced the men were Werner von Orseln, who led the knights from 1324-1330, Ludolf Koenig (1342-1345), and Heinrich von Plauen (1410-1413).

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Location: Nepal Length: 19 min.

High in the Nepalese Himalayas sits the monastery of Thupten Choling, one of the few remaining free, independent, and traditional Tibetan monasteries in the world. Its 900 resident monks and nuns, continuing Tibetan Buddhist cultural practices and a lifestyle many centuries old, rebuilt their stone monastery by hand over the past few years using traditional medieval technology, with the nuns providing the bulk of the labor. This short film describes these amazing people and their heroic struggle against the elements as they adapt to the modern world.

Watch the video...

Roman temple unearthed in Notts

THE remains of a Roman temple have been found in Notts – and experts say it could re-write the history books.

A wall dating back as far as 43AD, made from large smooth-faced sandstone blocks, has been unearthed at the former Minster School site in Southwell.

Twenty metres long by 2.5 metres tall, it is part of an emerging complex of buildings including a Roman bathing monument – known as a nymphaeum.

The site also contains what is believed to be a large villa.

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It’s the last day of the excavating year at Gobekli Tepe, the hill-top neolithic site whose circles of huge decorated T-shaped stones are at least 5,000 years older than any other monumental structure ever found.

Workmen have already buried the bases of the stones in rubble to protect them from the winter rain. Now they are laying raised walkways into the centre of a site that was previously off-limits to visitors.

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Late Neandertals and Modern Human Contact in Southeastern Iberia

It is widely accepted that Upper Paleolithic early modern humans spread westward across Europe about 42,000 years ago, variably displacing and absorbing Neandertal populations in the process.

However, Middle Paleolithic, presumably Neandertal, assemblages persisted for another 8,000 years in Iberia. It has been unclear whether these late Middle Paleolithic Iberian assemblages were made by Neandertals, and what the nature of those humans might have been.

New research, published Dec. 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is now shedding some light on what were probably the last Neandertals.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Divers search for Armada treasure off Mull

More than 400 years after a Spanish galleon loaded with gold and silver slid beneath the waves in the waters surrounding the Isle of Mull, a new mission has been launched to try to recover its hoard of treasure.

Divers will begin to sift through the silt at the bottom of Tobermory Bay in an attempt to recover the valuable cargo, reputed to have been intended to bankroll the ill-fated Spanish invasion of England in 1588. It is the second time that Sir Torquhil Ian Campbell, the 13th Duke of Argyll, has launched such a mission.

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Archaeologists dig into Greenham peace camp

They may not rank with the Pyramids or Sutton Hoo, but the traces of one Britain's best-known protest camps are being sifted by a team of archaeologists.

More than 600 artefacts have been catalogued at the skeletal remnants of Turquoise Gate camp, Greenham Common, as part of a project to tell the "full story" about the women's anti-nuclear campaign 25 years ago.

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Unique Archaeological Discovery In Balkan: World’s First Illyrian Trading Post Found

There is jubilation at the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo i Norway. Marina Prusac, Associate Professor in the department of archaeology, has just returned home after conducting excavations in the border area between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the course of several weeks of intense digging this autumn, her archaeological team found the very first traces of an Illyrian trading post that is more han two thousand years old.

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Archaeologists find piece of string dating back 8,000 years

The fibres were discovered in a flooded Stone Age settlement just off the coast of the Isle of Wight.

The four-and-a-half inch long string was made from tough stems of honeysuckle, nettles or wild clematis that were twisted together.

Marine archaeologists discovered it when they found a pre-historic camp 30 feet below the surface, 200 yards off the Isle of Wight.

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Salonica university initiates research program in Cyprus

The History and Archaeology Department of the Aristotle University of Thessalonica (AUT), continuing its long research presence in Cyprus, initiated in November 2008 a five-year Prehistoric Research Program.

According to a press release issued here, the scientific aim of AUT program is to search and locate installations of the early prehistory of the island (pre-Neolithic period) through an archaeological surface survey on part of Troodos.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

NSF awards Brown researchers $2.6 million for computer vision in archaeology

A Brown University archaeologist and team of engineers have been awarded $2.6 million from the National Science Foundation to use computer vision and pattern recognition in an archaeological excavation. The team is setting out to change the way archaeologists conduct fieldwork by developing innovative techniques for excavation, reconstruction, and interpretation during the next four years.

The work will focus on the site of Apollonia-Arsuf, located on the Mediterranean coast in Israel. The site has been under archaeological excavation and conservation since the 1950s and was formally recognized in 2004 as one of the 100 most endangered world monuments by the World Monuments Fund.

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Humans 80,000 Years Older Than Previously Thought?

Modern humans may have evolved more than 80,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study of sophisticated stone tools found in Ethiopia.

The tools were uncovered in the 1970s at the archaeological site of Gademotta, in the Ethiopian Rift Valley. But it was not until this year that new dating techniques revealed the tools to be far older than the oldest known Homo sapien bones, which are around 195,000 years old.

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Ancient Roman Oil Lamp 'Factory Town' Found

Italian researchers have discovered the pottery center where the oil lamps that lighted the ancient Roman empire were made.

Evidence of the pottery workshops emerged in Modena, in central-northern Italy, during construction work to build a residential complex near the ancient walls of the city.

"We found a large ancient Roman dumping filled with pottery scraps. There were vases, bottles, bricks, but most of all, hundreds of oil lamps, each bearing their maker's name," Donato Labate, the archaeologist in charge of the dig, told Discovery News.

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Shipwreck clues could clear Blackbeard of sinking his ship to swindle his crew

He was history's most feared pirate, striking terror into seafarers as he cut a bloodthirsty swathe through the Caribbean and North Atlantic.

But new research has found that Blackbeard may be innocent of one of the most notorious charges against him.

For almost 300 years, the British pirate captain has stood accused of deliberately sinking his flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, so he could swindle his crew out of their share of loot they had plundered

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Three thousand-year-old spearhead found

A 3,500 year old Bronze Age spearhead has been discovered in a stream in Dumfriesshire.

The ancient weapon-tip was found in the waters of the Mennock Pass, close to Wanlockhead.

It was found wedged in a rock crevice beneath the waters surface.

It is believed to date back to between the 15th and 12th century BC.

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Decline Of Roman And Byzantine Empires 1,400 Years Ago May Have Been Driven By Climate Change

The decline of the Roman and Byzantine Empires in the Eastern Mediterranean more than 1,400 years ago may have been driven by unfavorable climate changes.

Based on chemical signatures in a piece of calcite from a cave near Jerusalem, a team of American and Israeli geologists pieced together a detailed record of the area's climate from roughly 200 B.C. to 1100 A.D. Their analysis, to be reported in an upcoming issue of the journal Quaternary Research, reveals increasingly dry weather from 100 A.D. to 700 A.D. that coincided with the fall of both Roman and Byzantine rule in the region.

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Neanderthal goes High-Tech

Am 27.11.2008 unterzeichnete der Direktor des Neanderthal Museums, Prof. Dr. Gerd-Christian Weniger in Dortmund einen Kooperationsvertrag mit der Firma CTM-DO, einem Spezialunternehmen für industrielle Computertomographie.

CTM-DO forscht mit Unterstützung der EU im Bereich digitaler Messverfahren. Durch die Forschungskooperation werden den Wissenschaftlern des Neanderthal Museums in Zukunft hoch auflösende CT-Scans und exakte digitale Kopien wichtiger Humanfossilien zur Verfügung stehen.

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The world’s first Illyrian trading post found

A unique archaeological discovery in the Balkans: Archaeologists from the University of Oslo have just found the first Illyrian trading post of all time. So Balkan history must now be rewritten!

There is jubilation at the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo i Norway. Marina Prusac, Associate Professor in the department of archaeology, has just returned home after conducting excavations in the border area between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the course of several weeks of intense digging this autumn, her archaeological team found the very first traces of an Illyrian trading post that is more han two thousand years old.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Oetzi's last supper

What we eat can say a lot about us –where we live, how we live and eventually even when we lived. From the analysis of the intestinal contents of the 5,200-year-old Iceman from the Eastern Alps, Professor James Dickson from the University of Glasgow in the UK and his team have shed some light on the mummy's lifestyle and some of the events leading up to his death. By identifying six different mosses in his alimentary tract, they suggest that the Iceman may have travelled, injured himself and dressed his wounds. Their findings (1) are published in the December issue of Springer's journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, which is specially dedicated to Oetzi the Iceman.

The Iceman is the first glacier mummy to have fragments of mosses in his intestine. This is surprising as mosses are neither palatable nor nutritious and there are few reports of mosses used for internal medical treatments. Rather, mosses recovered from archaeological sites tend to have been used for stuffing, wiping and wrapping.

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Thera volcano in 1613 BC

Two olive branches buried by a Minoan-era eruption of the volcano on the island of Thera (modern-day Santorini) have enabled precise radiocarbon dating of the catastrophe to 1613 BC, with an error margin of plus or minus 10 years, according to two researchers who presented conclusions of their previously published research during an event on Tuesday at the Danish Archaeological Institute of Athens.

Speaking at an event entitled "The Enigma of Dating the Minoan Eruption - Data from Santorini and Egypt", the study's authors, Dr. Walter Friedrich of the Danish University of Aarhus and Dr. Walter Kutschera of the Austrian University of Vienna, said data left by the branch of an olive tree with 72 annular growth rings was used for dating via the radiocarbon method, while a second olive branch -- found just nine metres away from the first -- was unearthed in July 2007 and has not yet been analysed.

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Dig unearths Stone Age sculptures

Rare artefacts from the late Stone Age have been uncovered in Russia.

The site at Zaraysk, 150km south-east of Moscow, has yielded figurines and carvings on mammoth tusks.

The finds also included a cone-shaped object whose function, the authors report in the journal Antiquity, "remains a puzzle".

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Archaeologists discover rare Bronze Age amber necklace in Greater Manchester

A team of archaeologists has uncovered a rare amber necklace believed to be about 4,000 years old in Greater Manchester, in the UK, dating back to the Bronze Age.

According to a report by BBC News, archaeologists made the find while excavating a cist, a type of stone-lined grave, in Mellor, Stockport.

The necklace consists of dozens of pierced amber beads of various sizes, linked together on a length of fibre.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Rare Bronze Age necklace is found

A rare amber necklace believed to be about 4,000 years old has been uncovered in Greater Manchester.

Archaeologists made the find while excavating a cist - a type of stone-lined grave - in Mellor, Stockport.

It is the first time a necklace of this kind from the early Bronze Age has been found in north-west England.

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Medieval Bishop's palace discovered in Ross

A CENTURIES-old search for a lost palace has ended at one of Herefordshire’s best-known beauty spots, where a time team unearthed its second stunning find in nearly as many months.

The remains of what was the medieval Bishop’s Palace that once dominated Ross-on-Wye were revealed by archaeologists digging at the site of a Roman temple uncovered there earlier this year.

An exact location for the palace has eluded local historians for some 300 years. It’s a find that not only has a big part to play in the future for Ross, but also further boosts the reputation of the town’s biggest benefactor.

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First credit crunch traced back to Roman republic

Politicians searching for historical precedents for the current financial turmoil should start looking a bit further back after an Oxford University historian discovered what he believes is the world's first credit crunch in 88BC.

The good news is that Philip Kay knows how the Romans got themselves into financial bother. The bad news is no one knows how they got themselves out of it.

"The essential similarity between what happened 21 centuries ago and what is happening in today's UK economy is that a massive increase in monetary liquidity culminated with problems in another country causing a credit crisis at home. In both cases distance and over-optimism obscured the risk," said Kay, a supernumerary fellow at Wolfson College.

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A temple discovered below Romuliana

ZAJECAR – German experts from the Archeological Institute of Frankfurt in collaboration with our experts have come to an incredible discovery- they have found monumental buildings below Romuliana covering 300 square meters. A temple and 25 objects have been hidden under the surface.

“It was generally believed that Romuliana, the place where Roman emperor Caius Valerius Galerius Maximianus (297-311) was born, was a village. This discovery casts a completely new light on historical data about Romuliana, proving that it was a Roman settlement with all characteristics of Roman cities of the time,” says Bora Dimitrijevic, the director from the museum in Zajecar.

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Fishermen find ancient boat in Black Sea

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — A well-preserved ancient wooden dugout canoe has been discovered at the bottom of the Black Sea, scientists said Saturday.

The vessel was discovered by fishermen trailing nets along the sea bottom some 15 miles off the coast, said Dimitar Nedkov, head of the Archaeological Museum in the port city of Sozopol.

"The dugout is 2.6 meters (8.5 feet) long and 70 centimeters (27.5 inches) wide, and it is made most probably of oak," Nedkov told The Associated Press.

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Fokus Fortifikation: Antike Befestigungen im östlichen Mittelmeerraum

Unter dem Motto "Fokus Fortifikation: Antike Befestigungen im östlichen Mittelmeerraum" fördert die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) über einen Zeitraum von drei Jahren bis Oktober 2011 den Austausch und die gemeinsame Arbeit von mehr als 15 Nachwuchswissenschaftlern an verschiedenen europäischen universitären und außeruniversitären Forschungseinrichtungen, die sich aus bauforscherischer, archäologischer oder althistorischer Perspektive mit antiken Befestigungen in Griechenland, Kleinasien und dem Vorderen Orient befassen.

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Quo vadis - die römische Villa von Blankenheim

Internationales Symposium diskutierte Wege zur Konservierung und Präsentation eines der größten römischen Landgüter im Rheinland
Seit Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts beschäftigten sich Archäologen bereits mehrfach mit der Villa Rustica in Blankenheim.

Archäologen aus dem In- und Ausland waren auf Einladung der LVR-Bodendenkmalpflege im Rheinland sowie der Gemeinde Blankenheim (Kreis Euskirchen) zusammen gekommen, um über Möglichkeiten der Erhaltung und Präsentation der römischen Villa von Blankenheim zu diskutieren. Aufbauend auf den Erfahrungen der Spezialisten sollen Konzepte für den künftigen Umgang mit einem der größten römischen Gutshöfe im Rheinland entwickelt werden.

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Prähistorische Elfenbein-Objekte zeigen alte Handelswege

Untersuchungsergebnisse des Mainzer Elfenbein-Zentrums INCENTIVS werden bei einer internationalen Tagung in Alicante vorgestellt.

Das Internationale Zentrum für Elfenbeinforschung (INCENTIVS) an der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz wird die Untersuchungsergebnisse von 80 prähistorischen Elfenbeinobjekten aus Spanien, Portugal und Marokko diese Woche bei einer Tagung im spanischen Alicante vorstellen. Die Mainzer Wissenschaftler um INCENTIVS-Gründer Dr. Arun Banerjee haben die bis zu 5000 Jahre alten Artefakte mit zerstörungsfreien Methoden auf ihre Herkunft beziehungsweise das verwendete Material untersucht. "Wir konnten dabei zeigen, dass der nordafrikanische Raum und insbesondere Marokko ein Elfenbeinlieferant für die Iberische Halbinsel war und zwischen den Gebieten sehr alte Handelsbeziehungen bestanden haben", erläutert Banerjee.

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Young archaeologists unearth history

INDUSTRIOUS youngsters have helped reveal the rich and varied history of their Norfolk village after they dug up rare Roman pottery and prehistoric flints.

For the last two summers pupils from Acle have been getting their hands dirty as they took part in major excavations to unearth the community's past.

A report by the Norfolk Archaeological Unit has now revealed that the Acle High School's students' efforts this July have led to the discovery of 242 shards of Roman pottery from mainly 200 and 300AD and 46 Neolithic flint fragments.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Historical data is unearthed in city

STRONG evidence has emerged that one of the city’s earliest Christian settlements was located in the northside district of Kileely.

Two reports submitted by Lynch Archaeological Consultancy and Noel Quirke of Limerick Civic Trust’s history department, indicate that a Round Tower and church stood in the vicinity of St Lelia’s Cemetery in Kileely. They have been lodged with the Public Works.

Cllr Michael Hourigan was instrumental in securing the involvement of the Civic Trust, responding to the local people’s desire to have what is believed to be the city’s oldest cemetery restored.

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How turtles got their shells... and other evolutionary mysteries solved

The fossilised remains of an ancient reptile that lived 220 million years ago may have solved the puzzle of how the turtle got its shell and, in the process, cleared up one of the most enduring mysteries of animal evolution.

It is the oldest known turtle-like fossil and its shell appears to be only half-formed, covering its belly but leaving its back unprotected. Scientists believe it shows the evolutionary transition from the shell-less state of the earliest turtle ancestor to the fully formed shell of all living turtles.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Medieval library site to be dug

Archaeologists are to examine a site near a medieval Herefordshire building before a new library is built.

The dig will take place near the Master's House in Ledbury before it is extended to house a new library.

Herefordshire Council said a viewing platform will be put up so people can observe the work taking place during the three-week dig from 5 January.

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Thracian funeral mould found near Pravets

An archaeological discovery of a great importance has been during an anti-treasure hunting action.

During an inspection damages on the mould have been noticed and that provoked a further investigation of the site.

At the level of the antique terrain a funeral ritual had been performed.

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Climate change wiped out cave bears 13 millennia earlier than thought

Enormous cave bears, Ursus spelaeus, that once inhabited a large swathe of Europe, from Spain to the Urals, died out 27,800 years ago, around 13 millennia earlier than was previously believed, scientists have reported.

The new date coincides with a period of significant climate change, known as the Last Glacial Maximum, when a marked cooling in temperature resulted in the reduction or loss of vegetation forming the main component of the cave bears' diet.

In a study published in Boreas, researchers suggest it was this deterioration in food supply that led to the extinction of the cave bear, one of a group of 'megafauna' – including woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, giant deer and cave lion – to disappear during the last Ice Age.

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Scythian village and cemetery unearthed in Northeast Hungary

Workers at a business park construction project near the northeast Hungarian town of Nagykálló have unearthed a series of graves and the remains of a Scythian village that enjoyed prosperity in the time of the Roman Empire, reports historical portal

The contents of the graves are expected to be particularly rich as the custom of the time dictated that knives, broaches, and bronze figures, as well as dishes and ceramics containing food be buried with the dead to ease their passage in the afterlife.

A gold hair-band and a silver mirror have already been recovered from the site.

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Return of the Neanderthals

If we can resurrect them through fossil DNA, should we?

Here's the next question in the evolution debate: We know roughly how the sequence of life ran forward in time. What about running it backward? How would you feel about rewinding human evolution to a species that's almost like us, but not quite?

Last week in Nature, scientists reported major progress in sequencing the genome of woolly mammoths. They reconstructed it from two fossilized hair samples. One was 20,000 years old; the other was 65,000 years old. Now, according to Nicholas Wade of the New York Times, biologists are discussing "how to modify the DNA in an elephant's egg so that after each round of changes it would progressively resemble the DNA in a mammoth egg. The final-stage egg could then be brought to term in an elephant mother."

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VIDEO: Roman "Jewel" Promoted

November 25, 2008—Archaeologists are touting a "jewel" of the Roman Empire: the city of Viminacium in modern-day Serbia.

Watch the video...

Photos reveal Hadrian's history

Archaeologists have uncovered 2,700 previously unrecorded historic features along the length of Hadrian's Wall by studying thousands of aerial pictures.

The English Heritage experts found ancient burial mounds, medieval sheep farms and 19th Century lead mines.

They were working from more than 30,500 pictures taken during the past 60 years as part of a push to map and interpret archaeological sites across England.

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Grant helps archaeologists dig into archives

Funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support a project at the University of York to find exciting new ways of making academic research material available online.

The New York-based Foundation has awarded $250,000 to the study led by Professor Julian D Richards, Head of the Department of Archaeology and Co-Director of the online journal, Internet Archaeology.

Professor Richards is examining ways of using the benefits of online publication to allow researchers to link their work to related databases, video, audio and other information in a way that traditional paper-based formats do not allow.

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The biennial British Archaeological Awards are the most prestigious awards in British archaeology. Since their foundation in 1976, they have grown till they now encompass 10 awards covering every aspect of British archaeology.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

60th Birth Anniversary Ian Hodder and more

New websites at International institute of Anthropology:

60th Birth Anniversary Ian Hodder

On the changing face of the 21st century Anthropology:

Archaeologists as people: Douglass Bailey:

Chariot that travelled to the afterlife

Sofia Archaeologists are working on a Thracian bronze chariot, which they unearthed near the village of Karanovo in southeastern Bulgaria. More than 10,000 Thracian burial mounds are scattered across central and southeastern Bulgaria, which is considered to have been the home of the ancient society that lived in the region between 4000BC and AD300.

Digging in the mound near Karanovo was begun because local authorities feared looting. The chariot had probably been buried in the tomb of a rich man in line with the Thracian belief that belongings accompanied the dead into the afterlife, archaeologists said. “It is an ancient four-wheel chariot with a richly ornamented framework and a yoke of figured bronze,” Veselin Ignatov told national radio.

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Delving into the past in Roscommon

A FEW WEEKS ago archeologists digging at the site of a medieval castle in Co Roscommon found a treasure trove of Iron Age pottery and flint tools that are at least 3,000 years old. Not what you expect when you are investigating the foundations of a 16th-century building - but not that surprising given that the site is a stone's throw from Rathcroghan, reputed to be the burial ground and inauguration site of the ancient kings of Connacht.

At first glance Cruachan Aí Heritage Centre, in Tulsk village, looks no more than an inviting coffee shop on the banks of the picturesque Ogulla river, near a busy crossroads about 18km from Roscommon town.

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Dig unearths fragments of the past

POTTERY fragments which could date back centuries have been discovered in Peterborough's historic Cathedral Square.

An archaeological dig is being carried out in areas of the square prior to the installation of a series of water features.

The project is being led by Opportunity Peterborough and should be completed by the end of today.

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Metal detector enthusiast discovers treasure

FRAGMENTS of a medieval brooch and 16 Roman coins discovered by a metal detector enthusiast from Thakeham have been declared to be treasure at inquests.

Anthony Gill, who has been "detectoring" for more than 30 years, discovered two pieces of the silver brooch buried at farmland in Steyning in April and the 16 copper alloy coins on downland in Storrington in June.

And at two inquests at Worthing Town Hall on Tuesday (November 18), West Sussex Coroner Penelope Schofield gave the verdict both finds were treasure.

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Clues to why modern humans migrated...

In a cave 70 000 years ago, something strange was beginning to happen.

The occupants, who once lived in the cave, were behaving differently from their forefathers.

They were producing some of the first examples of jewellery and developing new technologies that were to give them an edge in years to come.

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Die Paläste des Kaisers

Neueste Erkenntnisse über die Kaiserpaläste auf dem Palatin in Rom stehen im Mittelpunkt eines Kolloquiums, das das Institut für Klassische Archäologie der Universität Würzburg veranstaltet. Nachwuchswissenschaftler aus Deutschland und Frankreich werden dort die Ergebnisse ihrer Arbeiten vorstellen.

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Der älteste Schuh in Herne

Ausstellung zeigt Anfänge der Schuhe

Wann der Mensch den ersten Schuh erfand und wie er ihn in Jahrtausenden bis zum heutigen Designerschuh weiterentwickelte, erzählt die internationale Ausstellung "Schuhtick - Von kalten Füßen und heißen Sohlen". Der Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) präsentiert die Schau über die Kulturgeschichte des Schuhs mit über 400 Exponaten vom 6. Dezember 2008 bis 5. Juli 2009 im LWL-Museum für Archäologie in Herne. Anschließend geht die Ausstellung nach Bremen und Mannheim.

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Massive Prehistoric Fort Emerges From Welsh Woods

Cloaked by time's leafy shroud, the prehistoric settlement of Gaer Fawr lies all but invisible beneath a forest in the lush Welsh countryside.

Commanded by warrior chiefs who loomed over the everyday lives of their people, the massive Iron Age fortress once dominated the landscape.

Now the 2,900-year-old structure lives again, thanks to a digital recreation following a painstaking survey by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.

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Greek pipeline workers discover stone age homes

Archaeologists in central Greece have unearthed the remains of a Neolithic settlement discovered by workers laying a gas pipeline, the Greek Culture Ministry said Thursday.

Ovens and pottery, rare decorated vases and bone tools found at the site near the city of Larissa show that its inhabitants were already skilled artisans nearly 7,000 years ago, the ministry said.

"The site was unknown until works for the installation of a natural gas pipeline started," the ministry said in a statement.

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3,500-year-old weapon found in burn

A Bronze Age spearhead which lay submerged in a burn for 3,500 years has been discovered and handed to a museum.

The spearhead was found wedged in a rock crevice in a burn at Mennock Water in Dumfriesshire. It is now on display in Dumfries Museum.

"It is in a remarkable condition having survived in the water for around 3,500 years," said the annual report of the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer.

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Ancient Chariot Found in Bulgaria

Archaeologists have unearthed an elaborately decorated 1,800-year-old chariot sheathed in bronze at an ancient Thracian tomb in southeastern Bulgaria, the head of the excavation said Friday. "The lavishly ornamented four-wheel chariot dates back to the end of the second century A.D.," Veselin Ignatov said in a telephone interview from the site, near the southeastern village of Karanovo.

But he said archaeologists were struggling to keep up with looters, who often ransack ancient sites before the experts can get to them.

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Hadrian's wall boosted economy for ancient Britons, archaeologists discover

Far from being a hated symbol of military occupation, Hadrian's Wall was the business opportunity of a lifetime for ancient Britons, archaeologists have discovered.

The 73-mile long Roman wall, built in AD 122 to defend the Roman Empire from hostile Celtic tribes, created a thriving economy to serve the occupying army, according to aerial surveys.

Farmers, traders, craftsmen, labourers and prostitutes seized the occasion to make money from the presence of hundreds of Roman troops.

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A stunning golden torc dating from the Iron Age, a hoard of over 3,600 Roman coins and a tiny Anglo Saxon roundel depicting the Hand of God were just some of the items on show at the British Museum last week for the launch of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) Treasure Annual Report.

The report lists thousands of archaeological finds made and reported by members of the public and includes all of the discoveries that passed through the Treasure Process in 2005 and 2006 from an impressive 1,257 finds in total – each of them contributing to our understanding of the past.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Greek archaeologists find 6,500-year-old fishing village

More than 4,000 years after the settlement was eventually abandoned, researchers have unearthed the remains of houses built of wood and unbaked clay, together with pottery vases, ovens and stone tools, the Culture Ministry announced Thursday.

The Neolithic-era finds were discovered during work to lay a gas pipe near the village of Vassili in Thessaly, 170 miles north of Athens.

Thessaly's fertile plains attracted some of Greece's first farmers, and the ruins of more than 300 settlements - including what at the time would have been major towns - have been discovered in the area.

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Roman treasure found on Clifton farmland

A 72-YEAR-OLD woman found a piece of Roman treasure on farmland near Clifton.

Alice Wright found the small gold leaf while using her metal detector in the Clifton area on March 23.

The leaf was declared as treasure trove, meaning she may receive a reward for her find, at an inquest in Nottingham.

Mrs Wright, from Littleover in Derby, has sent the object to the British Museum, and another museum is interested in acquiring it.

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Archaeologists scoop second national award

A GROUP of amateur archaeologists in Clydesdale have the world of Time Team sewn up.

For Biggar Archaeology Group have, for the second time, won the highest award in Britain for amateur archaeologists – The Pitt Rivers Award.

The bi-annual British Archaeology Awards ceremony took place in the British Museum last week. And the Biggar team scooped their award for the work they have done on the River Tweed Project.

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Iron Age stele reveals early evidence of belief in the soul

An Oriental Institute team working in southeastern Turkey has discovered an Iron Age chiseled stone slab that provides the first written evidence in the region that people believed the soul was separate from the body.

The researchers will describe the discovery to two gatherings of scholars at a Saturday, Nov. 22 conference and a Sunday, Nov. 23 conference in Boston. The content chiseled in stone is considered the testimony of an Iron Age official, whose image is incised on the slab.

Members of the Neubauer Expedition of the Oriental Institute found the 800-pound basalt stele, 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, at Zincirli (pronounced “Zin-jeer-lee”), the site of the ancient city of Sam’al. Once the capital of a prosperous kingdom, it is now one of the most important Iron Age sites under excavation.

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Money for castle repairs rejected

A councillor has lost his fight to restore a castle, but says his campaign will go on.

Monmouthshire councillors rejected Tony Easson's call for funding to be "sourced immediately" by the authority to make repairs to Caldicot Castle.

Problems include the roof of the south-west tower leaking and windows rotting in the banqueting hall.

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Were Neanderthals stoned to death by modern humans?

Human aerial bombardments might have pushed Neanderthals to extinction, suggests new research. Changes in bone shape left by a life of overhand throwing hint that Stone Age humans regularly threw heavy objects, such as stones or spears, while Neanderthals did not.

"The anatomically modern humans would have this more effective and efficient form of hunting," says Jill Rhodes, a biological anthropologist at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, who led the new study. A warmer Europe would have opened up forests, enabling longer range hunting, she says.

Rhodes and a colleague studied changes to the arm bone that connects the shoulder to the elbow – the humerus – to determine when humans may have begun using projectile weapons.

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16th-century skeleton identified as Copernicus

The long-lost skeleton of Nicolaus Copernicus – the 16th-century astronomer who transformed our understanding of the solar system – has been found, Polish researchers have confirmed.

Forensic detective work has successfully matched DNA samples recovered from remains in a cathedral grave with hairs retrieved from a book the scholar priest is known to have owned.

The identification is the culmination of four years of investigation and centuries of speculation about the final resting place of the man who challenged the Bible and medieval teachings of the church.

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Scots unearth ancient 'treasures'

The first Roman tombstone found in Scotland for more than 170 years is among the rare artefacts unearthed by treasure hunters this year.

It forms part of Scotland's annual Treasure Trove, items found by archaeologists or enthusiasts which have been handed to the Crown Office.

Other pieces include a 5,000-year-old axe head, a Bronze Age sword and mysterious carved stone balls.

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Gold collar found in field 'best Iron Age loot in 50 years': report

An amateur treasure hunter hit gold when he found an Iron Age collar worth more than 350,000 pounds (414,000 euros, 520,000 dollars) in a field, a newspaper reported Thursday.

Maurice Richardson, who unearthed the 2,200-year-old gold collar near Newark will not get to keep it but has received an undisclosed reward and his lucky find has been acquired by his local museum.

"I was only in the field because a customer kept me late," Richardson, a tree surgeon, told the Guardian newspaper.

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Mammoth task: Scientists map DNA of ancient beast

Bringing "Jurassic Park" one step closer to reality, scientists have deciphered much of the genetic code of the woolly mammoth, a feat they say could allow them to recreate the shaggy, prehistoric beast in as little as a decade or two.

The project marks the first time researchers have spelled out the DNA of an extinct species, and it raised the possibility that other ancient animals such as mastodons and sabertooth tigers might someday walk the Earth again.

"It could be done. The question is, just because we might be able to do it one day, should we do it?" asked Stephan Schuster, a Penn State University biochemist and co-author of the new research. "I would be surprised to see if it would take more than 10 or 20 years to do it."

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bronze Age site reaches a milestone of its own

THE founder of Flag Fen archaeological site joined more than 100 other guests at a special 25th birthday party.

This year marks the silver jubilee of the archaeological site near Peterborough, and to mark the end of its season, the site held a celebratory dinner in the city.

The charity held the fund-raising night on Friday at the Great Northern Hotel, and among the guests was Flag Fen founder, and regular on Channel Four’s Time Team, Professor Francis Pryor.

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AN excavation of an ancient Iron Age settlement at the south of Fleetwood could take place in the spring.

Wyre Archaeology Group discovered the area at Bourne Hill, on the border of Fleetwood and Thornton, last year.

Now, a geophysical survey, which has just been conducted at the site, should reveal more facts about the site.

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Chichester's Roman baths museum faces design revamp

Design changes for Chichester District Council's £6.9m Roman baths museum scheme are now being considered, it has emerged.

They include a reduction in the height of a turret on top of the proposed Tower Street building by at least half a metre, and reconsideration of the turret's detailing.

The move follows criticism of the design by conservationists and some councillors at a meeting of the council's southern area development control committee.

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Archaeologists begin Cathedral Square excavation

AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL dig has begun in Peterborough's historic Cathedral Square.

An area of the square has been cordoned off while a mechanical digger is used to excavate the site.

The dig is being carried out before work starts to install a series of water features in the square.

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Oldest nuclear family 'murdered'

The oldest genetically identifiable nuclear family met a violent death, according to analysis of remains from 4,600-year-old burials in Germany.

Writing in the journal PNAS, researchers say the broken bones of these stone age people show they were killed in a struggle.

Comparisons of DNA from one grave confirm it contained a mother, father, and their two children.

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Funerary Monument Reveals Iron Age Belief That The Soul Lived In The Stone

Archaeologists in southeastern Turkey have discovered an Iron Age chiseled stone slab that provides the first written evidence in the region that people believed the soul was separate from the body.

University of Chicago researchers will describe the discovery, a testimony created by an Iron Age official that includes an incised image of the man, on Nov. 22-23 at conferences of biblical and Middle Eastern archaeological scholars in Boston.

The Neubauer Expedition of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago found the 800-pound basalt stele, 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, at Zincirli (pronounced "Zin-jeer-lee"), the site of the ancient city of Sam'al. Once the capital of a prosperous kingdom, it is now one of the most important Iron Age sites under excavation.

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Archaeologists find ancient babies’ beakers in Sicilian necropolis

Archaeologists have uncovered what they believe to be the largest Greek necropolis in the city of Himera on the island of Sicily, where the ancient version of babies’ beakers has been found.

According to the new agency ANSA, although experts have long known about the burial ground, they have only recently understood its importance because of building work to extend a local railway track.

Hundreds of graves have already been uncovered, but archaeologists believe there are thousands more waiting to be found in the burial ground of the city, which rose to prominence more than 2,500 years ago.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

National Geographic Expedition Week: Archaeology Viewer Guide

This coming week, November 16-23, 2008, the National Geographic Channel is featuring videos on scientific studies they've produced lately, including nine brand new ones. Most of the videos, old and new, are on archaeology. They sent along pre-publication copies of the new videos for me to review, and some really amazing still photographs for us all to enjoy.

To celebrate, I've built an Archaeologist's Viewers Guide to Expedition Week. On the Viewer's Guide, I'm going to provide a review of each of the videos I saw, and give solid, academic context websites and journal articles as background for each one.

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Remains of Iron Age fort found in Wednesbury

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have uncovered what could be the remains of an ancient Iron Age hill fort in the Black Country.

The exciting find was made during a dig on behalf of the Black Country Housing Group and a group of eager schoolchildren were on hand to witness it.

The community regeneration agency invited pupils from the nearby St Mary’s RC primary school in Wednesbury to watch the dig opposite St Mary’s Church and meet with archaeologists.

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Archaeological excavations have continued this summer within ‘The Heart of Neolithic Orkney’ World Heritage Site.

The Ring of Brodgar, the third largest standing stone circle in Britain and the Ness of Brodgar, its accompanying settlement site, have been the focus of an investigation funded by Historic Scotland and Orkney Island Council under the direction of Dr Jane Downes (Orkney College UHI) and Dr Colin Richards (Manchester University).

This season saw the anticipated re-opening of Professor Colin Renfrew’s 1973 trenches at the Ring of Brodgar, the impressive monument which is thought to be 4 to 4,500 years old although the date has never been scientifically confirmed.

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Roman settlement unearthed near Penrith

A Roman settlement has been unearthed near Penrith by workman preparing the ground for a sewage pipe.

The civilian vicus, which is thought to date back to the first century AD, was discovered on agricultural land in Brougham close to the A66.

Experts have declared the site is of national significance.

Archeologists uncovered the remains of two timber buildings, cobbled lanes, three stone buildings and a rare Grubenhauser – a sunken feature building from the early medieval period.

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Mary Rose sunk by French cannonball

For almost 500 years, the sinking of the Mary Rose has been blamed on poor seamanship and the fateful intervention of a freak gust of wind which combined to topple her over.

Now, academics believe the vessel, the pride of Henry VIII's fleet, was actually sunk by a French warship – a fact covered up by the Tudors to save face.

The Mary Rose, which was raised from the seabed in 1982 and remains on public display in Portsmouth, was sunk in 1545, as Henry watched from the shore, during the Battle of The Solent, a clash between the English fleet and a French invasion force.

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Pompeii: 1,000 new reasons to visit

Archaeologists are about to embark on a huge restoration project that should triple the area of the lost city of Pompeii accessible to tourists. Two thirds of the site’s 1,500 houses, shops and temples are currently closed to the 2.5 million visitors who go there every year.

In July the Italian government declared a year-long state of emergency for Pompeii, saying it was in danger of being irreparably damaged by vandalism, looting, mismanagement and under-investment.

In the next two years the city will become a “building site” Renato Profili, Pompeii’s “emergency commissioner”, announced this week.

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Ancient Rome goes online

Obviously, there were no satellites to snap pictures of Rome two millennia ago, but that hasn't stopped experts from giving web surfers a bird's eye view of the ancient city.

Google Earth has added to its software a 3-D simulation that painstakingly reconstructs nearly 7,000 buildings of ancient Rome, including the Colosseum, the Forum and the Circus Maximus, officials said.

The program, which gives users access to maps and global satellite imagery, now hosts a new layer that allows surfers to see how Rome might have looked in AD320, a bustling city of about one million people under Emperor Constantine.

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New dawn for knights of old

The sword is the stuff of legend, jousting knights and the fabled Round Table of King Arthur.

In medieval times, no weapon was as clinically deadly as the sharpened longsword. But many centuries-old fighting styles were forgotten with the invention of gunpowder, which left swords obsolete.

Now, Bradford group Scola Gladiatoria is reviving some of the lost styles of European martial arts in a movement which is rapidly growing in popularity.

Thousands of martial arts enthusiasts are now practising medieval sword-fighting in countries including the USA, Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium and Italy.

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Roman emperor head discovered in a package!

The marble head of a statue of a Roman emperor was delivered in the National History Museum today from "Sofia Airport - Customs".

The head, most probably representing Octavian August, was found in a package sent from Haskovo to Western Europe.

It was part of a sculpture or a bust of the famous Roman emperor who conquered Cleopatra and Mark Antony.

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Cynisca of Sparta

A Spartan princess Cynisca broke the mould by winning a four horse chariot race in 396 BCE. English classicist, Paul Cartledge, introduces us to Cynisca of Sparta and offers us an insight to why she can be considered the first Greek female Olympic winner.

Cynisca sounds like a childhood nickname, because it means (female) puppy (little bitch...!). But it almost certainly wasn't that, as we know of adult males called by the masculine equivalent, Cyniscus. Our Cynisca in any case was anything but puppyish in adult life; and she was no one_s poodle. Born at Sparta probably some time round about 440 BC, she became the first woman ever to win a victory in the Olympic Games, a feat which she repeated remarkably enough at the immediately succeeding Games. Yet unlike the male victors, she did not have to compete physically in person, as we shall see.

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Wide-hipped fossil changes picture of Homo erectus

The fossil of a wide-hipped Homo erectus found in Ethiopia suggests females of the pre-human species swayed their hips as they walked and gave birth to relatively developed babies with big heads, researchers said on Thursday.

The finding transforms thinking about some early human ancestors and evolution and suggests that helpless babies came along relatively late in the human lineage.

"We could look at this pelvis and then, using a series of measurements, we can calculate ... how big the baby's head could be at birth," said Scott Simpson, a paleontologist at Case Western Reserve University who worked on the study.

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D'Artagnan's tomb found: Archaeologists claim

Dutch archaeologists believe that they have located the tomb of Louis XIV musketeer Charles de Batz de Castelmore d'Artagnan in a small Catholic church in the Netherlands.

According to a leading French historian, Charles de Batz de Castelmore dArtagnan, who served Louis XIV as captain of the Musketeers of the Guard, was buried a few kilometres away at Saint Peter and Paul Church in Wolder, Holland, The Times Online reports.

The trail is very precise, according to Odile Bordaz, author of several works on the musketeer.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Archaeology Summer School Courses at Oxford

The Oxford Experience Summer School, which is held in Christ Church, Oxford each year, is offering nine different courses in archaeology in July and August 2009.

You can find a list of the courses here…

Roman Baths get overdue clean-up

Algae and sludge deposits built up over years are being removed from the original Roman lead-lined floor of one of Bath's top tourist attractions.

The Great Bath at the city's Roman Baths has been drained of natural thermae spa water for the clean-up.

The site, below the modern street level, is one of the best examples of a preserved Roman bath complex in Europe.

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Charting 9000 years of history in Falkirk

AROUND 9000 years ago the first humans set foot in Falkirk.

Since then Bronze Age settlers and the Romans are among the many cultures to have left their mark on the area.

The clues to their existence are everywhere.

They can be found beneath the ground we walk on and across the local landscape. Park your car at The Falkirk Wheel and you are actually on top of an Iron Age settlement.

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Metal detector reaps a harvest of precious coins

Amsterdam A man with a metal detector has found a trove of ancient Celtic and Germanic coins in a cornfield in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht. City authorities say the gold and silver coins date from the middle of the first century BC, when Julius Caesar was leading military campaigns in the region. The treasure hunter found the coins this spring, leading to an archaeological investigation. The Celtic coins bear triple spirals on the front, and the silver pieces were imported from Germanic tribes further north.

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Workers unearth Roman settlement

A Roman settlement has been unearthed by a water company laying pipelines in Penrith, Cumbria.

It is believed to date back to the first century AD and includes remains of timber buildings and streets.

The discovery was made by United Utilities engineers during excavations for a sewage pipeline in October.

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Ancient Celtic coin cache found in Netherlands

A hobbyist with a metal detector struck both gold and silver when he uncovered an important cache of ancient Celtic coins in a cornfield in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht.

"It's exciting, like a little boy's dream," Paul Curfs, 47, said Thursday after the spectacular find was made public.

Archaeologists say the trove of 39 gold and 70 silver coins was minted in the middle of the first century B.C. as the future Roman ruler Julius Caesar led a campaign against Celtic tribes in the area.

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Prehistoric pelvis offers clues to human development

Discovery of the most intact female pelvis of Homo erectus may cause scientists to reevaluate how early humans evolved to successfully birth larger-brained babies. "This is the most complete female Homo erectus pelvis ever found from this time period," said Indiana University Bloomington paleoanthropologist Sileshi Semaw. "This discovery gives us more accurate information about the Homo erectus female pelvic inlet and therefore the size of their newborns."

A reconstruction of the 1.2 million-year-old pelvis discovered in 2001 in the Gona Study Area at Afar, Ethiopia, that has led researchers to speculate early man was better equipped than first thought to produce larger-brained babies. The actual fossils remain in Ethiopia.

The discovery will be published in Science this week (Nov. 14) by Semaw, leader of the Gona Project in Ethiopia, where the fossil pelvis was discovered with a group of six other scientists that includes IU Department of Geosciences graduate student Melanie Everett.

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Archaeologists hail 'remarkable' Roman settlement uncovered during pipeline work

A Roman settlement has been unearthed by a water company laying pipelines.

The civilian settlement in Cumbria is believed to date to the first century AD and includes the remains of timber buildings and cobbled streets.

The discovery was made by United Utilities engineers during excavations for a sewage pipeline near Penrith in October.

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Bowl survives 300 years underground

Archaeologists have discovered a piece of crockery dating back more than 300 years on a Belfast city centre building site.

The bowl fragment, dated from 1676, was discovered during a survey on a Skipper Street site owned by the Merchant Hotel which is being excavated ahead of a planned extension.

Archaeologist Audrey Gahan said there was great excitement when it was unearthed on Wednesday.

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Huge necropolis unearthed in Sicily

Palermo, November 11 - Archaeologists working at the ancient Greek city of Himera in northern Sicily have uncovered what they now believe to be the largest Greek necropolis on the island.

Although experts have long known about the burial ground, they have only recently understood its importance because of building work to extend a local railway track. Hundreds of graves have already been uncovered but archaeologists believe there are thousands more waiting to be found in the burial ground of the city, which rose to prominence more than 2,500 years ago.

''The necropolis is of an extraordinary beauty and notable dimensions,'' Sicily's regional councillor for culture, Antonello Antinoro, said Tuesday.

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Gründung des European Heritage Legal Forum

Das neue europäische Beratungsgremium European Heritage Legal Forum (EHLF) wurde kürzlich auf Einladung des Freistaates Bayern und organisiert vom Bayerischen Landesamt für Denkmalpflege in der Vertretung des Freistaates Bayern bei der Europäischen Union in Brüssel gegründet.

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Neues zu den Römern in Bad Cannstatt

Am gestrigen Donnerstag, den 13. November 2008, präsentierten Archäologische Denkmalpfleger des Regierungspräsidiums Stuttgart und der Unteren Denkmalschutzbehörde wichtige Ergebnisse aus laufenden archäologischen Untersuchungen in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt (Baden-Württemberg).

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

University of Oxford Online Archaeology Courses

Four University of Oxford online archaeology courses are now open for registration. The four courses are:

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers
Exploring Roman Britain
Origins of Human Behaviour: the evidence from archaeology
Ritual and Religion in Prehistory

The courses begin in January.

You can find further information here…


Location: Worldwide Length: 6 min.

World economic conditions have threatened to severely reduce our income from underwriting, our top income source. In response, ALI is featuring our first Pledge Drive, beginning November 5 and lasting up to two weeks, until November 18. Our goal is to replace the lost underwriting income with new supporting Memberships, to ensure a sound financial footing for ALI and thus also for TAC. Check for daily updates to learn how you can help TAC continue to deliver and expand its programming. We are counting on your support! Thank you.

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If Gordon Brown, the UK's current prime minister, or the next American president (yet to be determined) were to visit the British Museum's latest high-profile show, Hadrian: Empire and Conflict , he might find some uncomfortable parallels with one of Rome's greatest emperors — not to mention some differences he might envy.

As the exhibition catalogue points out, the major conflict zones of his time are strikingly familiar today: the Balkans, Caucasus, Mesopotamia and Judea/Palestine, where he faced (tables turned) Jewish rebellions from AD 116.

Forced to rein back after the imperial over-stretch of his predecessor Trajan , Hadrian initially fought Middle Eastern rebellions, but then turned, despite the risks and doubters, to troop withdrawals, beginning in what is modern-day Iraq.

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Findings cast light on mediaeval Georgian monastery in Cyprus

SIXTEEN important mediaeval graves have been uncovered during excavations at the the 12th century Georgian monastery near Gialia village in the Paphos district, the Antiquities Department said yesterday.

The graves dating from between the 14th and 16th centuries were found on all four sides of the monastery.

Twelve were found in the south side. The graves contained clay ware and glass vessels with Greek and Georgian inscriptions on some of the items, the Antiquities Department said.

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Neolithic burial ground found in Istanbul

Several 8,000-year-old cremation urns from the Neolithic Age have been discovered in Istanbul during digging of an undersea metro tunnel.

The urns were found in the everglade at Marmaray, before heavy machinery was used to dig a metro tunnel connecting the Asian and European sides of Istanbul, Turkey's largest city. According to experts, the find sheds new light on the historic past of the Turkish capital.

All the personal belongings of the deceased, namely clothing, jewelry, utensils, and even the arrow the person was killed with were found buried with their owner inside the urns, representing him and the type of life he led. One urn even contained the skeleton of a baby.

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£30m medieval wing breathes new life into V&A

Anyone who has not visited the V&A for some time may not recognise the place, its director said yesterday as he gave details of new galleries for ceramics and theatre and a new wing for medieval and renaissance treasures.

Mark Jones was giving an update on the V&A's ambitious and, at £120m, expensive plan to reinterpret the museum's disparate collections and redesign galleries. Phase one will be finished this time next year, he said, and the new galleries represent the "most important and most exciting projects in recent years".

The £30m medieval and renaissance galleries will bring treasures together thematically. Visitors will be able to see everything from the 900-year-old Becket Casket, containing the relics of the murdered archbishop Thomas Becket, and Studley Bowl (circa 1400), one of the earliest surviving pieces of English domestic silver, probably used to give a noble child their porridge, to - for the first time on permanent display - five of Leonardo da Vinci's small notebooks.

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How warfare shaped human evolution

IT'S a question at the heart of what it is to be human: why do we go to war? The cost to human society is enormous, yet for all our intellectual development, we continue to wage war well into the 21st century.

Now a new theory is emerging that challenges the prevailing view that warfare is a product of human culture and thus a relatively recent phenomenon. For the first time, anthropologists, archaeologists, primatologists, psychologists and political scientists are approaching a consensus. Not only is war as ancient as humankind, they say, but it has played an integral role in our evolution.

The theory helps explain the evolution of familiar aspects of warlike behaviour such as gang warfare. And even suggests the cooperative skills we've had to develop to be effective warriors have turned into the modern ability to work towards a common goal.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tools Give Earlier Date For ‘modern-thinking’ Humans

An international team, including Oxford University archaeologists, has dated two explosions of sophisticated stone tool making in southern Africa much more precisely than has previously been possible.

The team dated the two events, known as the Still Bay and Howieson’s Poort industries, to around 80,000 and 60,000 years ago respectively.

This provides further evidence that humans (Homo sapiens) in southern Africa were ‘behaviourally modern’ – that is, thought and behaved like modern humans – before any migration of biologically modern humans to the rest of the world: most likely dated at around 60,000 years ago according to the ‘out of Africa 2’ theory.

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Ancient Rome lives again on Google Earth

The glory that was Rome is to rise again. Visitors will once more be able to visit the Colosseum and the Forum of Rome as they were in 320 AD, this time on a computer screen in 3D.

The realisation of the ancient city in Google Earth lets viewers stand in the centre of the Colosseum, trace the footsteps of the gladiators in the Ludus Magnus and fly under the Arch of Constantine.

The computer model, a collection of more than 6,700 buildings, depicts Rome in the year 320 AD. Then, under the emperor Constantine I, the city boasted more than a million inhabitants –- making it the largest metropolis in the world. It was not until Victorian London that another city surpassed it.

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Digging deep to pin down Iron Age fort

An expert from English Heritage has been to visit the site of what could be the remains of an Iron Age hill fort in Wednesbury.

The official from the organisation which protects and promotes sites of interest came out to view land in St Mary’s Road yesterday afternoon.

If as suspected, two ditches, discovered on an archeological dig, do date back to the Anglo-Saxon or even the Iron Age era, the site would be of national importance.

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The annual showcase for the best in British archaeology and a central event in the archaeological calendar, the British Archaeological Awards (BAA), took place at the British Museum this week.

Established in 1976, the BAA has grown to encompass 14 commendations and awards, covering every aspect of British archaeology from important discoveries and community archaeology to books, TV programmes and kids’ archaeology.

An important winner for the Council of British Archaeology (CBA) was its Best ICT Project award for the Community Archaeology Forum (CAF) website which was set up two years ago as a resource for anyone working in community archaeology.

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Did the Romans have money problems?

Historians will debate if people living in the Iron Age and early Roman Britain had money problems, at the next meeting of the South West Hertfordshire Archaeological and Historical Society.

Ian Leins, curator of Iron Age and Roman coins for the British Museum, will give a talk to the group and discuss what currency from this period tells us about their lives and the way they lived.

The talk starts at 8pm (doors open at 7.30pm) on Wednesday, November 19, at Cassio Lodge, The Avenue, Watford.

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Google Earth brings ancient Rome to life

Its creator has called it a "virtual time machine" – a digital reconstruction of ancient Rome that today became available to hundreds of millions of internet users around the world.

Users of Google Earth can now see the city, down to the last aqueduct and arena, just as it looked at midday on April 1 AD320. They can float through the Forum, past the platform or "rostra" from which Cicero once declaimed, admire the statues, read the inscriptions, pry into palaces, and then slip round to the Colosseum or whisk over to the Circus Maximus where the ancient Romans held their chariot races.

There, the virtual traveller will find, not the slightly disappointing, though enormous, oval expanse of grass that confronts the real tourist, but the huge, walled stadium that tourists are forced to conjure up from their imagination.

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