Thursday, May 29, 2008

Viking warship to begin homeward journey

A Viking warship will be hoisted out of the National Museum today in preparation of its journey back to Denmark.

The Sea Stallion will be lifted about 150ft out of Clarke Square, Collins Barracks, where it has been on show to the public for the last nine months.

The vessel sailed back into Dublin last August, almost 1,000 years after its original departure.

Weather permitting, it will be gently lowered into the main museum car park at 3pm in preparation for her return voyage to Denmark.

Then at 2am the replica vessel will be lifted over the Luas track to the quays where it will be carried on a low-loader to Dublin port.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Authentic Viking DNA Retrieved From 1,000-year-old Skeletons

Although "Viking" literally means "pirate," recent research has indicated that the Vikings were also traders to the fishmongers of Europe. Stereotypically, these Norsemen are usually pictured wearing a horned helmet but in a new study, Jørgen Dissing and colleagues from the University of Copenhagen, investigated what went under the helmet; the scientists were able to extract authentic DNA from ancient Viking skeletons, avoiding many of the problems of contamination faced by past researchers.

Analysis of DNA from the remains of ancient humans provides valuable insights into such important questions as the origin of genetic diseases, migration patterns of our forefathers and tribal and family patterns.

Unfortunately, severe problems connected with the retrieval and analysis of DNA from ancient organisms (like the scarcity of intact molecules) are further aggravated in the case of ancient humans. This is because of the great risk of contamination with abundant DNA from modern humans. Humans, then, are involved at all steps, from excavation to laboratory analyses. This means that many previous results have subsequently been disputed as attributed to the presence of contaminant DNA, and some researchers even claim that it is impossible to obtain reliable results with ancient human DNA.

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Historic excavation wins funding

Plans to excavate and reconstruct an historic but eroding burnt mound on Bressay have been awarded more than £70,000 of funding.

Bressay History Group's plans at Cruester follow coastal erosion threatening the site.

The plan is to rebuild the landmark near the local heritage centre.

Different types of mounds are found across the country, and varying theories exist about their function, ranging from cooking sites to saunas.

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Location: Peru Length: 12 min.

Recent research shows that cities in the New World arose nearly a millennium earlier than previously believed. Radiocarbon dates from the ancient city of Caral, Peru, show that monumental architecture was under construction as early as 2627 B.C., even before ceramics and maize appeared. The site is enormous, with platform mounds (or "pyramids"), sunken circular plazas, and residences. Caral is by far the largest pre-2000 B.C. recorded site in the Andean region and seems to be the model for the urban design followed over four millennia.

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Mysterious pits shed light on forgotten witches of the West

Evidence of pagan rituals involving swans and other birds in the Cornish countryside in the 17th century has been uncovered by archaeologists.

Since 2003, 35 pits at the site in a valley near Truro have been excavated containing swan pelts, dead magpies, unhatched eggs, quartz pebbles, human hair, fingernails and part of an iron cauldron.

The finds have been dated to the 1640s, a period of turmoil in England when Cromwellian Puritans destroyed any links to pre-Christian pagan England. It was also a period when witchcraft attracted the death sentence.

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Archeologists Discover Unique Things in Veliki Novgorod

A group of archeologists carrying out diggings in Veliki Novgorod have found several ancient feeding bottles for babies.

The finds were discovered at the digging site in Mikhailova Street. Here the archeologists found wooden feeding devices made of cow horns. The Slavs used to attach leather sacks with milk to the broad ends of hollow horns and their babies would suck the milk through holes in the narrow part of horns.

It is interesting to note that not far from the archeological excavation site there is a working municipal kindergarten.

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Home For Sale, Comes With Skeleton In Basement

York, England (AHN) -- Lovers of historical homes and buildings could be tested on how much they truly appreciate authenticity, that is, if they are interested in buying a Georgian style home that was recently put on the market, because it comes complete with a human skeleton entombed in the basement.

When the home was built in the Georgian era, part of the basement was found to be the remnants of a Roman burial chamber. Workers built around it, and today the skeleton is visibly entombed in an archway.

The current owner of the building dubbed the remains, his "Roman Princess."

He told reporters he does not think the skeleton will be too much of a deterrent to buyers.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Galilee cave reveals secrets of hunter-gatherers

A wealth of new information about the way of life of early man in the eastern Mediterranean, long before the invention of the wheel, is likely to be uncovered after the startling discovery of a cave inhabited by hunter-gatherers between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago.

Workers constructing a sewage line through a forest in northern Israel stumbled across a large cave containing stalactites and strewn with discarded fragments of prehistoric tools and the burnt bones of animals which have long been extinct in the region, including red deer, fallow deer, buffalo and even bears.

While examination of the remains is at a preliminary stage, experts have hailed the discovery – at an undisclosed location in western Galilee – as the most important of its kind in the southern Levant for up to half a century. Dr Ofer Marder, the head of the prehistory branch of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and an archaeologist colleague were lowered 30m down into the darkness by rope. He described the cave as "one of the best preserved I have seen" and added: "It was if prehistoric man had left it five days earlier."

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Latest Newsletter from Havhingsten fra Glendalough

The latest Newsletter from Havhingsten fra Glendalough (The Sea Stallion from Glendalough) in now available.

The reproduction Viking ship will sail from Dublin back to Denmark on 29 June. This time the course will be south, round Land’s End, and into the English Channel. The Sea Stallion will stick close to the south coast of England with its famous seaside towns and historic harbours from the days of the full riggers, and then cross the North Sea to Danish waters. The voyage will end in Roskilde on 9th August.

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Sea Stallion steps back in history

AT three o’clock next Thursday afternoon Dubliners will be treated to an extraordinary spectacle. The Viking ship Sea Stallion, which has been on display at the National Museum in Collins Barracks, will be lifted 50 metres into the air by a giant crane. Then the huge vessel will be swung out over the three-storey museum building and deposited in the nearby Croppy’s Acre. In the middle of the night it will be moved to the River Liffey, prior to its long sea journey back to Denmark.

The Sea Stallion was built at Roskilde, the ancient capital of Denmark, and now a quiet town at the head of a long narrow fjord. About 900 years ago ships were scuttled in the fjord to protect the harbour from pirates. In 1962 five of the wrecks were discovered, one of which turned out to have Irish timbers; it had been built in Dublin about the year 1042. A replica was constructed. It required 7,000 iron rivets and 340 trees had to be felled. On September 4, 2004, the ‘Havhingsten fra Glendalough’ was christened by Queen Margrethe.

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Stonehenge builders had geometry skills to rival Pythagoras

Stone Age Britons had a sophisticated knowledge of geometry to rival Pythagoras – 2,000 years before the Greek "father of numbers" was born, according to a new study of Stonehenge.

Five years of detailed research, carried out by the Oxford University landscape archaeologist Anthony Johnson, claims that Stonehenge was designed and built using advanced geometry.

The discovery has immense implications for understanding the monument – and the people who built it. It also suggests it is more rooted in the study of geometry than early astronomy – as is often speculated.

Mr Johnson believes the geometrical knowledge eventually used to plan, pre-fabricate and erect Stonehenge was learnt empirically hundreds of years earlier through the construction of much simpler monuments.

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Star watch - Archaeologists discover a “cosmic clock”

Overcrowded in their lower reaches they might be, but the Canary Islands still possess some solitary mountain wilder-nesses, places little visited thanks to their rugged inaccessibility, and which have hardly changed since they were frequented by the pre-colonial aboriginal islanders.

And traces of their presence are still turning up, often in the form of petroglyphs, enigmatic scratched marks on rocks and boulders which held some special significance about which we can only guess today.

The latest find is, say archaeologists, one of the most exciting. They are calling it a cosmic clock, a description guaranteed to get the imagination of any sci-fi fans racing.

But there are no flashing lights and strange dials. The reality, a piece of stone 44 centimetres high and 34 wide, would certainly disappoint them, but the experts are hailing the Summer Stone as a major discovery.

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Danewerk und Haithabu sollen Weltkulturerbe werden

Mit einem länderübergreifenden Antrag wollen Island, Dänemark, Schweden und Deutschland ihre Stätten der Wikingerkultur als gemeinsames UNESCO-Welterbe anerkennen lassen. Das internationale Propjekt fimiert unter dem Namen "Phenomena and Monuments of Viking Culture".

Die Initiatoren betreten mit ihrem gemeinsamen Antrag weitgehend Neuland. Anträge mehrerer Staaten sind bei der UNESCO bisher selten. Die vier Partner sind zuversichtlich, dass ihr Antrag Erfolg haben wird. Auch hoffen sie, dass sich ihnen weitere Länder mit ihren Wikingerstätten anschließen werden. Erste Signale hierzu aus Kanada und Norwegen sind positiv.

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'Diabetes' as described by Byzantine writers from the fourth to the ninth century

According to a study from Thessaloniki, Greece, "Diabetes was first extensively described by Aretaeus of Cappadocia, and his contemporary, Galen of Pergamum, in the second century AD. Aretaeus is said to have introduced the term diabetes, though there are some indications of previous references to the term."

"When referring to the disease, Galen accepts that the term belongs to 'other writers'. There are, in fact, many other Graeco-Roman accounts of diabetes, and in this paper we also examine the texts of Pliny the Elder (first century AD), Rufus of Ephesos (early second century AD), Oribasius (fourth century AD), Stephanus Alexandrinus (fifth century AD), Aetius (sixth century AD), Alexander of Tralles (sixth century AD), and Theophilus Protospatharius (seventh century AD), together with his contemporaries Paulus of Aegina, Stephanus of Athens and Leon of Pella (ninth century AD). All these writers use almost the same terminology when referring to the disease, and consider that symptoms of excessive thirst and urination are due to disease of the kidneys and the bladder. Similar treatments are also advocated, and relate to nutritional advice, herbal medications, poultices, bloodletting and abstinence from diuretic substances," wrote H. Christopouloualetra and colleagues, Aristotle University (see also Diabetes).

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Unique Dutch settlement discovered from Bronze Age

Amsterdam - Archaeologists have found a settlement dating back to the Bronze Age just north of Eindhoven, a city in the southern Netherlands, Dutch archaeologist Nico Arts told Dutch media Friday.

The discovery was made during preparations for the building of a highway junction at Ekkersrijt, north of Eindhoven.

The settlement may be the largest ever discovered in the Netherlands, and is definitely the largest settlement ever found in the southern Netherlands.

Bronze Age settlements (1500-850 BC) have also been discovered in the province of Drenthe in the eastern Netherlands. However, these are smaller than the Eindhoven settlement.

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Vandals in attack on Stonehenge

Suspected souvenir hunters broke into Stonehenge and vandalised the ancient monument, English Heritage has said.

A hammer and screwdriver were used to take a small chip the size of a 10p piece from the side of the Heel Stone.

English Heritage said further damage was prevented by security guards who spotted the two men at the 5,000-year-old site in Wiltshire.

Police believe the vandals could be the same two people caught on CCTV acting suspiciously a few days earlier.

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Tower found under mound

WORK to repair Oxford Castle's mound has revealed a ten-sided tower that has been hidden for more than two centuries.

The foundations of a 13th-century tower that once stood on top of the mound were discovered during work to deal with land slippage.

Excavation work at the Oxford landmark on New Road has led to a section of the tower seeing the light of day for the first time since the 1790s.

The current grass mound is the main surviving part of the Norman castle built by Robert D'Oilly in the 1070s.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Location: China Length: 12 min.

The 1,200-year old Foguang Temple in Shanxi Province, China, is one the most important remaining wooden architectural jewels of Chinese civilization. Built during the Tang Dynasty, the temple is a tribute to the peak of Buddhist art and architecture from the 9th century AD. Without regular maintenance and conservation by successive Chinese dynasties, the structure has fallen into dangerous state of disrepair. Global Heritage Fund (GHF) will provide funding and expertise for the investigation, planning and scientific conservation of the site.

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Car park dig for ancient settlement

ARCHAELOGICAL investigations have started in Neston looking for evidence of an ancient settlement.

The results of the investigation will be used in connection with a planning application submitted for a major retail development in the present car park.

The dig, between Brook Street and Raby Road, will establish whether more extensive archaeological work would be needed, if planning permission was granted.

Fragments of memorial stones from the parish church suggest that there has been a settlement at Neston for at least 1,000 years and examination of early maps and other documentary evidence indicate that the western part of the car park, behind the High Street, lay within the original settlement area.

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Silbury gives up its final secret

The secret of Silbury Hill, the most enigmatic prehistoric monument in Europe, isn't the monument but the monumental effort which went into building it, according to the archaeologist who has spent most of the last year slipping around on wet chalk deep in the heart of the hill.

On a sunny morning last week a local druid scattered Wiltshire grass and wild flower seed on the summit of Silbury, to mark what engineers and archaeologists devoutly hope is the completion of a project to prevent the 4,500 year old hill from collapsing - 10 months and £1m over budget.

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Grave robbers strike Sussex tomb of Bronze Age chief

Archaeologists excavating an enigmatic burial mound in Sussex believe that grave robbers beat them to the prize of finding the remains of a Bronze Age chief.

Racing against time to date a burial mound on the cliffs at Peacehaven Heights in East Sussex before it collapses into the sea, they have found evidence of human occupation of the site spanning back to 8,000 years BC.

But the prize was to find the remains of the warrior chief who was placed there in the Bronze Age, when the burial mound was built some 2000-3000 years ago, around the same time as the famous stones were erected at Stonehenge.

Many such mounds were built in the Bronze Age, often in high places, to mark the burial of a local chief.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Plan to prevent erosion of Neolithic sites

A LONG-TERM strategy is planned to protect one of Europe's most important archaeological sites from erosion.

A consultation was launched yesterday into a future management plan for the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site (WHS), which aims to protect, conserve and improve understanding of the historic area.

The WHS comprises six sites: the Skara
Brae settlement, Maeshowe chambered tomb, the Stones of Stenness, the Watch Stone, the Barnhouse Stone, and the Ring of Brodgar and associated monuments. The monuments, dating from 3000-2000BC, are regarded as outstanding testimony to the cultural achievements of the Neolithic people of northern Europe.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Archaeology dig in car park site

An archaeological dig is taking place in the planned site of a supermarket car park after it was found it could be part of an ancient settlement.

Historians moved into Neston, Cheshire, after investigations revealed it may be part of a 1,000-year-old settlement.

Fragments of memorial stones from the parish church suggest that there has been a settlement there for at least 1,000 years.

The work is being carried out to establish whether remains are present.

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Dive team to scour Danube for Queen Mary's lost belongings

The legend goes something like this: after the disastrous Battle of Mohács in 1526, the twenty-one-year-old Queen Mary of Hungary fled the encroaching Ottoman army on a caravan of ships headed to Vienna. But, on her way up the Danube a few ships sank along with their valuable cargo. It is said that to this day they remain hidden in the murky depths of the river. Soon, any truth to this story may soon be discovered, or disproved.

According to, a team of Hungarian archaeologists are launching an underwater excavation of the Danube to find ships identified by American radar technology.

The investigation is bound to be interesting, says Attila J. Tóth, departmental leader of the Hungarian Alliance Archeology and History of Art (Magyar Régészeti és Művészettörténeti Társulat), but whether or not the remains of the submerged sunken ships actually belong to the Hapsburg Queen's caravan can only be determined with intensive scuba diving.

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Italian builders uncover 2,000-year-old tombs

ARCHAEOLOGISTS were yesterday celebrating the discovery of 27 2,000-year-old tombs in Italy's "Valley of the Dead".
The tombs, some dating back to the 7th century BC, were found by chance while builders carried out work.

The whole area was sealed off yesterday and put under police guard to prevent anyone from trying to steal artefacts inside the burial chambers.

Grave robbers, or tombaroli as they are known in Italy, make a lucrative living from selling such objects to museums or private collectors.

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German archeologist unearths the riches of Turkey

Christine Bruns-Özgan, a German native and archaeologist, has made the unearthing of Knidos her life project over the last 20 years. With teams from the University of Konya she has made dozens of trips to the southern peninsula to find the traces of its history

Christine Bruns-Özgan, head of the archeology department at Mimar Sinan Güzel Sanatlar Universitesi, knows the historical value of a Turkish stone all too well.

Having lived in the heart of Turkey, Konya, for 26 years and having attended dozens of excavations in her lifetime, Bruns-Özgan, a German native, told the Turkish Daily News that Turkey holds a new surprise for her and the country's cultural collective history every year.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Metal detectorists thrilled at Viking sword find

BURIED for more than a 1,000 years, these beautifully cast fragments of a Viking sword could be a once-in-a-lifetime find for two metal detector enthusiasts in the Isle of Man.
Only the 13th recorded Viking sword found in the Island, it was unearthed by Dan Crowe and Rob Farrer while metal detecting in the north west of the Island.

The two Manx Detectorists Society members have found many interesting artefacts over the years, so they knew the importance of what they had found.

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Irish Viking trade centre unearthed

One of the Vikings' most important trading centres has been discovered in Ireland.

The settlement at Woodstown in County Waterford is estimated to be about 1,200 years old.

It was discovered during archaeological excavations for a road by-pass for Waterford city, which was founded by the Vikings.

The Irish government said the settlement was one of the most important early Viking age trading centres discovered in the country.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bavarian police confiscate Latin American treasures

Police in Bavaria have confiscated a trove of ancient Latin American artefacts from the Mayan, Aztec and Incan cultures worth an estimated $100 million.

The collection of cultural treasures is thought to have been smuggled to Munich from Costa Rica by way of Spain, according to the Bavarian state police. Several countries including Peru, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador lay claim to various items that were in the possession of a 66-year-old Costa Rican art collector.

According to the Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, the man, identified as Leonardo Augustus P., claims to be a former diplomat who properly obtained the artifacts. The man, now a resident primarily of Geneva, is reportedly well-known to police dealing with smuggled art and exotic animals on several continents. He has even picked up the unflattering nickname “The Thief of the Treasures” in his native Costa Rica.

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