Thursday, July 31, 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 September.

You can find further information here…


A unique Iron Age burial site has been discovered during work on a new housing development in North Bersted, Bognor Regis.

Because of previous archaeological finds in Sussex, a dig had been included as one of the planning conditions for the site, where Berkeley Homes and Persimmon Homes are building 650 homes on former farmland.

The 2,000-year-old grave of an Iron Age warrior was uncovered by archaeologists, but it was kept a secret until the delicate work of removing remains to a laboratory had been completed.

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History fans who want to find out how to lay siege to a medieval castle or watch a re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings can now tune into a series of online TV shows from English Heritage.

The national heritage body is officially launching EHTV, which provides a range of video and audio programmes with information on great moments in English history and behind-the-scenes looks at historic sites.

Programmes on the site include celebrities Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen presenting a show on Eltham Palace and Konnie Huq talking about Osborne House.

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Viking ship sets sail across North Sea

THE VIKING replica longship Sea Stallion is en route across the North Sea on the most demanding leg of its voyage from Ireland to Denmark.

The replica, which is modelled on an Irish-built longship, left Lowestoft on the east English coastline early this week on a light southeasterly wind. Lack of suitable winds for its square sail had forced it to berth for almost a fortnight in the English port.

The longship had to weather gales when it set off from Dublin port in late June on its return voyage to the Danish harbour of Roskilde, home of the Viking Ship Museum and the original Sea Stallion, or Havhingsten fra Glendalough.

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Medieval 'calculator' stays in UK

A rare 14th Century scientific instrument dubbed the "pocket calculator" of its age is to remain in the UK.

The British Museum has raised the £350,000 needed to buy the Canterbury Astrolabe Quadrant which was uncovered during building work in Kent in 2005.

Culture Minister Margaret Hodge placed an export ban on the item after it sold at auction for £138,000 in March 2007.

It is said to be one of only eight examples in the world.

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Ancient rock carvings discovered

More than 100 new examples of prehistoric art have been discovered carved into boulders and open bedrock throughout Northumberland and Durham.

The 5,000-year-old Neolithic carvings of circles, rings and hollowed cups, were uncovered by volunteers.

One of the most interesting discoveries was an elaborately carved panel on Barningham Moor, near Barnard Castle in County Durham.

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Skeletons uncovered in friary dig

Archaeologists in Perth have uncovered more than 50 skeletons at the site of a medieval friary.

The team is excavating land at the corner of Riggs Road and Jeanfield Road before retail units are built.

As well as the bones, the team has discovered pieces of grave slabs, window glass and further evidence of the 13th century Carmelite friary.

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First indication for embalming in Roman Greece

A Swiss-Greek research team co-lead by Dr. Frank Rühli from the Institute of Anatomy, University of Zurich, found indication for embalming in Roman Greek times. By means of physico-chemical and histological methods, it was possible to show that various resins, oils and spices were used during embalming of a ca. 55 year old female in Northern Greece. This is the first ever multidisciplinary-based indication for artificial mummification in Greece at 300 AD.

The remains of a ca. 55-year old female (ca. 300 AD, most likely of high-social status; actual location: Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Greece) shows the preservation of various soft-tissues, hair and part of a gold-embroidered silk cloth. This unique find allows multidisciplinary research on these tissues. In addition to macroscopic and anthropological analyses, electron microscopy and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry examinations were also performed. These showed the presence of various embalming substances including myrrh, fats and resins, but could not demonstrate clearly a conservatory influence of the surrounding lead coffin from Roman period. The findings significantly increase knowledge about the use of tissue-preserving, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidative substances in the mortuary practices of Roman Greece.

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Bones mystery

CREMATED bones thought to date from around 3,500BC to 2,000BC have been unearthed by archaeologists during a dig near Lough Fea.

A team of four archaeologists came across a mound of stones, known as a cairn which often points to a burial site, at the Creagh Concrete plant near Blackwater Bridge.

The find was unearthed when workers from Creagh Concrete were extracting gravel earlier this week. An archaeologist is always present on site when work of this nature is being carried out.

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Greeks followed a celestial Olympics

Chalk up another Olympian feat to a mechanical gadget discovered more than a century ago in a 2,100-year-old shipwreck.

Scientists over the past decades have determined that the device was used to perform complex astronomical calculations, including the prediction of solar and lunar eclipses and the movement of the planets.

Known as the Antikythera mechanism, for the small Greek island near which sponge divers discovered it in 1900, the device is split into 82 fragments and is an agglomeration of disintegrating bronze gears and teeth, encrusted dials and hard-to-read inscriptions. Researchers have long been intrigued by both the gear teeth and inscriptions.

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Discovering How Greeks Computed in 100 B.C.

After a closer examination of a surviving marvel of ancient Greek technology known as the Antikythera Mechanism, scientists have found that the device not only predicted solar eclipses but also organized the calendar in the four-year cycles of the Olympiad, forerunner of the modern Olympic Games.

The new findings, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, also suggested that the mechanism’s concept originated in the colonies of Corinth, possibly Syracuse, on Sicily. The scientists said this implied a likely connection with Archimedes

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ruins may be Viking hunting outpost in Greenland

OSLO – Ruins recently discovered on Greenland may mark the Vikings' most northerly year-round hunting outpost on the icy island, a researcher said on Monday.

Knut Espen Solberg, leader of 'The Melting Arctic' project mapping changes in the north, said the remains uncovered in past weeks in west Greenland may also be new evidence that the climate was less chilly about 1,000 years ago than it is today.

'We found something that most likely was a dock, made of rocks, for big ships up to 20-30 metres (60-90 ft) long,' he told Reuters by satellite phone from a yacht off Greenland. He said further study and carbon dating were needed to pinpoint the site's age.

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New stage in Trojan excavations

A German archaeologist in charge of excavations in ancient Troy announced that a new dimension will be added to the excavations with the finds of the past 20 years being gathered together for the first time. Member of the teaching staff at Tübingen University, Dr. Ernst Pernicka told the Anatolia news agency Thursday that they were ready to present the intermediate results of the two-decade dig saying, "We will crown the past 20 years of work with publications. This project will be the intermediate results of the past 20 years of work."

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Many hands painted Lascaux caves

The painted caves of Lascaux in the Dordogne region of France are one of the most famed monuments of Ice Age art. Dating back about 17,000 years, the great Hall of the Bulls and its adjacent chambers proved so popular with visitors that a generation ago the cave had to be closed to save the paintings from encroaching mould. A replica, Lascaux II, was built nearby and has proved equally popular.

One thing that strikes the visitor is the exuberance of the compositions, with hundreds of animals, including bison, horses and deer, parading along the walls and ceilings, often overlapping. A big problem in sorting out possible groupings of animals, and possible motives for painting them, has been the issue of contemporaneity — what was painted when?

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Ancient Greek ship fished from sea

An ancient Greek trading ship that had lain on the seabed off the coast of Gela in southern Sicily for 2,500 years was brought to the surface for the first time on Monday. The ancient Greek vessel is 21 metres long and 6.5 metres wide, making it by far the biggest of its kind ever discovered. Four Greek vessels found off the coasts of Israel, Cyprus and France are at most 15 metres long.

The one in Gela is also of particular value for scholars who will be able to delve into Greek naval construction techniques thanks to the amazing find of still-intact hemp ropes used to 'sew' together the pine planks in its hull - a technique described in Homer's Iliad. ''Gela's ancient ship is the patrimony not only of Sicily but of all humanity,'' said Sicily's regional councillor for culture Antonello Antinoro, who watched Monday's operation.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Dig deep to unearth chapel site

Volunteers are invited to help with an archaeological dig that aims to unearth evidence of a medieval burial site in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The National Park Authority is working with Dyfed Archaeological Trust to excavate around the site of a ruined medieval chapel in Porthclew, near Freshwater East.

The three-week project, which starts tomorrow, July 28th, is funded by Cadw and organisers are keen for local people to take part. Visitors will also be able to find out what’s going on during site tours on Tuesdays to Saturdays at 3pm.

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Woodwork discovery means summertime dig ends on a high

THE latest summer season at one of the longest-running and most important archaeological excavations in the north-east has ended on a high note, with the uncovering of mediaeval woodwork.

Peat-rich soil around the site of a lost bishop’s palace, just outside Kemnay, has preserved sections of centuries-old carpentry in remarkable condition.

Saw marks are visible on one piece and another has been turned and decorated on a primitive lathe by a skilled craftsman.

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Ancient grave found on Bognor new homes site

Land soon to become a new housing estate has yielded an unexpected treasure – a 2,000- year-old skeleton, believed to be that of a prince, a warrior or a priest.

Planning permission has been granted for more than 600 houses in open fields at North Bersted near Bognor.

But before the work could go ahead, an archaeological survey had to be carried out on the site to check if there was anything of historical interest under the topsoil.

What the team from the Thames Valley Archaeological Services found was beyond their wildest dreams.

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Ancient Olympic Chariot Racetrack Located?

As the Beijing Olympics draw near, archaeologists are reporting the discovery of the long-lost chariot race track at the Greek birthplace of the games.

German researchers claim to have identified the hippodrome at Olympia, in Western Greece, some 1,600 years after the historic sports venue disappeared under river mud.

The ancient circuit, where Olympic competitors raced in chariots or on horseback, was found in May by a team including Norbert Müller of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

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Flint hints at existence of Palaeolithic man in Ireland

The possibility of a Palaeolithic human presence in Ireland has once again presented itself. A flaked flint dating to about 200,000 years ago found in Co Down is certainly of human workmanship, but its ultimate origin remains uncertain.

Discovered at Ballycullen, ten miles east of Belfast, the flake is 68mm long and wide and 31mm thick. Its originally dark surface is heavily patinated to a yellowish shade, and the lack of sharpness in its edges suggests that it has been rolled around by water or ice, Jon Stirland reports in Archaeology Ireland.

Dr Farina Sternke has identified it as a classic Levallois-type flake from the rejuvenation of a flint core; such flakes are characteristic of stone-tool industries made by archaic humans of the pre-Neanderthal era, as technology moved towards making multiple flakes from one core and then trimming them into a variety of different tool types.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

New light thrown on Roman villa remains

A rare, complete set of 30 glass counters for a Roman board game has been set out again, more than 50 years since they were excavated and almost 1,700 years since they went into the tomb with their twentysomething owner.

His skeleton, still in its handsome scallop shell decorated lead coffin, is now surrounded again by the refreshment provided for his journey to the next world - flagons, bottles, spoons and bowls, and the 30 counters, probably for the gambling game duodecim scripta, laid on top of his coffin - as well as hundreds of other objects excavated a lifetime ago but now going on show.

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Tomb reveals ancient trade network

Ancona, July 24 - The tomb of a woman who died around 2,600 years ago on the eastern Italian coast is helping archaeologists piece together the vast trade network that once linked this area with the Middle East, North Africa and Greece.

Experts working on a tomb near the port of Ancona say the site contains over 650 artefacts from the 7th century BC, including numerous items made in other parts of the world.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Roman spa unearthed in southern Serbia

Prokuplje -- Archeologists say they have discovered a Roman spa of monumental proportions in downtown Prokuplje.

The spa was found during works to reconstruct the parochial seat of the local church of Sv. Prokopije in this southern Serbian town.

Archeologist Julka Kuzmanović-Cvetković says the discovery is important because it will put Prokuplje on Serbia's map of ancient Roman sites, known as the Trail of Roman Emperors.

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Gold Ring from Middle Ages Found in East Iceland

Archeologists discovered a gold ring in a grave in Skriduklaustur in east Iceland where there used to be a monastery. The discovery is considered significant because very few gold rings have been found in archeological excavations in Iceland.

“It looks like a normal wedding ring, but it has been decorated a little,” archeologist Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir, who is responsible for the current excavation project in Skriduklaustur, told Morgunbladid.

The ring is engraved with a leafy pattern and Kristjánsdóttir believes that indicates that the ring was made in the 16th or 17th century.

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Historic abbey uncovered in dig

Parts of one of Scotland's most influential religious and historic buildings have been uncovered for the first time in centuries.

Archaeologists have been digging at Scone Palace and believe they have found the walls of the lost abbey.

Despite the site's significance, there is very little sign of the 12th century building above ground.

The team is also examining the Moot Hill - where kings, including Macbeth and Robert the Bruce, were crowned.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Man arrested for tunnelling

A Greek man was arrested for digging tunnels from his home to protected archaeology sites in Megara, west of Athens, in a suspected case of antiquities trafficking, officials said on Saturday.

The 44-year-old man allegedly dug a well nearly four metres deep, as well as a tunnel seven metres long leading to three smaller tunnels in an archaeological zone, Athens police said in a statement.

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Ein Menschenschädel an der Seseke

Dank ehrenamtlicher Unterstützung konnten Archäologen des Landschaftsverbandes Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) bei Renaturierungsmaßnahmen der Seseke bei Kamen (Kreis Unna) einen menschlichen Schädel dokumentieren und bergen. Wann und warum der Schädel in den Boden gelangte, werden die Spezialisten der LWL-Archäologie für Westfalen nun zu klären haben.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Unearthing castle secrets

Experts began to unearth the secrets of Nevern Castle as exciting ancient artefacts were discovered last week.

Clues to life at the site during the 12th century emerged during the dig, and pottery, a board game and counter, and a passageway were among the finds.

The two week excavation, organised by Nevern Community Council and the National Park, was led by Dr Chris Caple, senior lecturer at Durham University's archaeology department, who was joined by a team of five helpers.

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Quarry dig unearths a slice of town's history

Last month the Evening Leader reported that archaeologists had uncovered the remains of a Neolithic settlement at Tarmac's Borras quarry at Wrexham. Reporter Rob Bellis visited the quarry to speak to the team of archaeologists currently involved in a full-scale investigation on the site and to see what they have discovered so far.

"If it weren't for large scale mineral extraction then we wouldn't find sites like this," says Ian Grant who is leading a team of archaeologists from the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust, currently excavating a Neolithic site at the Borras quarry near Wrexham.

Ian explained that small trenches are insufficient for finding such sites and that they could easily go undiscovered unless archaeologists are able to view a large area.

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From the granary to the field; archaeobotany and experimental archaeology at l’Esquerda (Catalonia, Spain)

The study of a granary excavated at the medieval site of l’Esquerda has increased our knowledge of agricultural practices and economy. To deepen this knowledge, an experimental project was started with the late P.J. Reynolds (Butser Ancient Farm, England). Since the start of the experiment, 15 years of harvests have been collected from four fields near the archaeological site, which were cultivated with the cereals of medieval times and with a simulation of medieval farming practices. Meteorological conditions are measured by an automatic weather station, and the results are compared with those obtained in England. The research, initially started to provide more insight into crop yields, was extended towards medieval crop storage practices. The granary excavated at l’Esquerda has now been rebuilt using medieval techniques. This has allowed us to answer many questions about medieval architecture, tools and Blacksmith’s technology. Some underground pits were also dug. Experiments in crop storage using both systems are continuing.

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Loud and clear

Fossil finds suggest an early origin for human speech

t may be time to rethink the stereotype of grunting, wordless Neandertals. The prehistoric humans may have been quite chatty — at least if the ear canals of their ancestors are any indication.

The findings suggest human speech may have originated earlier than some researchers contend. Anthropologists disagree about whether language sprang up rapidly around 50,000 years ago or emerged more gradually over a longer period of time, says Rolf Quam, a paleoanthropologist at the American Natural History Museum in New York and coauthor of the new study.

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Iron Age and Roman remains have been discovered next to Rutland Water.

Archaeologists have found a large area possibly used as an animal enclosure during the Iron Age - from about 800BC to the Roman conquest - as well as the foundations for a 3rd century AD circular Roman building.

The team has been carrying out a survey for Anglian Water, which is creating a series of lagoons at the site.

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Ancient River Camps Are Oldest Proof of Humans in Paris

Hunter-gatherers who made temporary camps along the Seine about 9,500 years ago were among the earliest "residents" of what is now Paris, archaeologists say.

A recent dig near the river revealed thousands of arrowhead bits and animal bones from about 7600 B.C. that scientists say are the oldest evidence of human occupation within modern city boundaries.

Previously the oldest such evidence was a 4500 B.C. fishing village near the current Gare de Lyon railway station.

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Crumbling Pompeii site in "state of emergency"

ROME (Reuters) - The Italian government declared a state of emergency at the Pompeii archaeological site on Friday to try to rescue one of the world's most important cultural treasures from decades of neglect.

A cabinet statement said it would appoint a special commissioner for Pompeii, the ancient Roman city buried by an eruption of the Vesuvius volcano in AD 79 and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

"To call the situation intolerable doesn't go far enough," said Culture Minister Sandro Bondi, who took office in Silvio Berlusconi's new conservative government in May.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

The Sea Stallion has left Ireland on course for Lands End

The high tide bore the Sea Stallion away from Ireland with 200-400 nautical miles ahead

We have the opportunity for the longest single voyage in the Sea Stallion's existence in the next few days. The Viking Ship Museum’s research project, the "Sea Stallion from Glendalough", left the little port of Wicklow in Ireland at high tide shortly before noon today. The ship had been waiting three days in Wicklow for a favourable wind for its journey home to Roskilde.

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Treasure including a Viking gold finger ring and a silver buckle have been found in Notts.

An hearing was held on the finds yesterday at Nottingham Coroner's Court.

The 14th Century silver 'D' shaped buckle was found on land near Weston near Newark.

The ring was found by metal detector enthusiast Bill Severn on land at South Muskham near Newark last April. After the hearing, the 67-year-old from Codnor near Ripley, said: "I've never found anything around there before. I was on my way back to the car and suddenly got a signal. I only had to dig two inches deep and there it was looking at me. I knew it was old and I knew what it was."

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Uncovering stone circle's secrets

A major archaeological investigation is getting under way at one of Western Europe's most impressive prehistoric sites.

The Ring of Brodgar in Orkney is the third largest stone circle in the British Isles, but little is known about it.

A month-long programme of investigations will be undertaken by a 15-strong team.

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The hill of slaves

For almost 2,000 years they have been sleeping there, on the hill just beyond the estuary of the Tiber: the man with a broken back due to the harbour’s very hard work, still with the coin in his mouth with which to pay Charon; the woman buried with her small mirror and few other joys of a small uneventful life; the child laid down to rest with much love and with a bracelet of various colours to enable him to buy his passage to the afterlife; the 31-year-old male born with a rare deformation of the mouth with teeth locked together whom some friends must have rudimentally tried to help by knocking off some side teeth to enable him to be fed and to breathe, even while working as a slave.

For all this time their repose has been unbroken, until now. This is a story like that of Spoon River, the Imperial Rome cemetery with 270 still perfectly-formed skeletons uncovered in recent months in the Castel Malnome area in the Tiber estuary environs, just a short distance from the Roman saltpans and the twin harbours built by Claudius and Trajan.

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Antonine Wall set to take centre stage

The Roman wall that Hadrian didn’t build doesn’t get a lot of attention, but it’s poised to become a World Heritage Site

It begins in Old Kilpatrick, on the River Clyde, and ends in Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth. It runs inconspicuously by cemeteries, schools and rows of shops, along streets where pedestrians walk, probably unknowingly, along its spine.

In some places railway tracks and roads cross it, in others the trains and traffic race alongside. The Antonine Wall is Scottish history’s forgotten legacy.

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Greek affinity with 'Ephesus' of the Black Sea

A team of eight students hopes to unearth the remains of an ancient city on the Black Sea coast, regarded by many as the �Ephesus of the Black Sea.� Excavations will be made July 15, aiming to unveil the architectural plan of Teion (or Tion) located in the city of Zonguldak's Filyos district.

Archaeologist Sümer Atasoy said the excavation team, composed of a map engineer, an archeologist, an art historian and eight students from Greek Yanya University, will conduct a major dig in the ancient city with a team of 35 people, speaking to the Anatolia news agency.

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Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been Concert Halls

Prehistoric peoples chose places of natural resonant sound to draw their famed cave sketches, according to new analyses of paleolithic caves in France.

In at least ten locations, drawings of horses, bison, and mammoths seem to match locations that focus, amplify, and transform the sounds of human voices and musical instruments.

"In the cave of Niaux in Ariège, most of the remarkable paintings are situated in the resonant Salon Noir, which sounds like a Romanesque chapel," said Iegor Reznikoff, an acoustics expert at the University of Paris who conducted the research.

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Lage des Hippodroms und geographische Ausdehnung mit modernen geophysikalischen Methoden entdeckt

Die Lage der antiken Pferderennbahn von Olympia, auf der auch Kaiser Nero zum olympischen Sieg fuhr, ist enträtselt. Die Entdeckung des Hippodroms gelang einer Forschungskooperation unter Beteiligung des Mainzer Sporthistorikers Professor Dr. Norbert Müller, des Kölner Sportarchäologen Dr. Christian Wacker und PD Dr. Reinhard Senff, Ausgrabungsleiter des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts (DAI) in Olympia.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Archaeologists discover Britain's first 'shopping centre' in Roman dig

One of Britain's very first shopping centres has been unearthed - a high street that was fashionable 1,800 years ago when togas were still in vogue.

A row of narrow shop buildings uncovered by archaeologists shows that the Romans in Britain had their very own well-heeled fashionistas.

The shop buildings used by the stylish Romans in ancient Britain were uncovered by archaeologists in fields at Monmouthshire, South Wales.

The site, now occupied only by the rural village of Caerwent near Newport, was formerly Venta Silurum - one of 15 major towns in Britain at the time.

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Rare Roman artifact found near Sicily

Italian researchers say a rostrum, used by ancient Romans to ram enemy ships, was found off the coast of Sicily.

The rare bronze appendage may have been used in the final naval battle of the First Punic War, ANSA reported Tuesday. The rostrum was recovered about 230 feet below the surface by divers aided by remotely operated vehicles.

Sicily's maritime affairs department department head, Sebastiano Tusa, said the Egadi rostrum confirms his theory that a battle took place northeast of the island of Levanzo between fleets from Rome and Carthage during the Battle of the Egadi in 241 B.C., the Italian news agency said.

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Doubt over date for Brit invasion

Julius Caesar's invasion of Britain in 55BC could not have occurred on the dates stated in most history books, a team of astronomers has claimed.

The traditional view is that Caesar landed in Britain on 26-27 August, but researchers from Texas State University say this cannot be right.

Dr Donald Olson, an expert on tides, says that the English Channel was flowing the wrong way on these dates.

An invasion of the south coast at Deal on August 22-23 is favoured instead.

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Heritage: Race to save mystery wreck from shipworm

In the depths of Poole harbour there is a magnificent ship in serious trouble. The vessel, lying off the Dorset coast, sank almost 400 years ago but its surviving timbers are now being devoured by Mediterranean shipworms flourishing in the warmer British waters.

Archaeologists from Bournemouth University have recovered from the wreck a spectacular merman, which was part of the decorative carving from the stern. Divers plan to descend again to lift the 8.5-metre (28ft) rudder.

The ship, and the fate of hundreds of souls on board, is a mystery.

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Jacobean 'Titanic' discovered by archaeologists

The wreck of a richly-jewelled 17th century ship has been discovered in the English Channel.

Marine archaeologists who explored the 600-ton vessel off Dorset believe it may have been as luxurious in its day as the Titanic.

Among the treasures they have retrieved is a statue of a merman whose eye sockets would have held precious stones.

The 4.5ft wooden figure was one of a number of statues that would have adorned the stern of the vessel.

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