Saturday, December 19, 2009

University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology

The University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology are taking bookings for 2010.

Courses descriptions and application forms can be found here...

Newport's medieval ship model is taking shape

A model replica of Newport's medieval ship will soon be complete thanks to an innovative manufacturing process perfected at Cardiff University.

The 15th Century vessel was discovered in the banks of the River Usk in June 2002 during construction of the city's Riverfront theatre and arts centre.

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Science's breakthrough of the year: Uncovering 'Ardi'

The research that brought to light the fossils of Ardipithecus ramidus, a hominid species that lived 4.4 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia, has topped Science's list of this year's most significant scientific breakthroughs. The monumental find predates "Lucy,"—previously the most ancient partial skeleton of a hominid on record—by more than one million years, and it inches researchers ever-closer to the last common ancestor shared by humans and chimpanzees.

Science and its publisher, AAAS, the nonprofit science society, recognize the Ardipithecus ramidus fossils, including the partial skeleton named "Ardi," as 2009's Breakthrough of the Year. They also identify nine other important scientific accomplishments from this past year in a top ten list, appearing in a special news feature in the journal's 18 December 2009 issue.

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Human Ancestors Were Homemakers

In a stone-age version of "Iron Chef," early humans were dividing their living spaces into kitchens and work areas much earlier than previously thought, a new study found.

So rather than cooking and eating in the same area where they snoozed, early humans demarcated such living quarters.

Archaeologists discovered evidence of this coordinated living at a hominid site at Gesher Benot Ya‘aqov, Israel from about 800,000 years ago. Scientists aren't sure exactly who lived there, but it predates the appearance of modern humans, so it was likely a human ancestor such as Homo erectus.

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Ancient Greek Artifact Pulled Out of Mediterranean Sea

Archaeologists pulled a section of an ancient Egyptian pylon out of the Mediterranean seabed on Thursday in Alexandria.

The ruin was discovered 11 years ago by a Greek archaeological team, and dates back to around 30 B.C.. It is part of a late Ptolemaic-era temple near the tomb of Cleopatra.

Another important artifact will be brought to the surface in May.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Davy Jones's lock-up

Underwater robots can help study the world’s shipwrecks, a trove of information about the past, more easily and cheaply

A SHIPWRECK is a catastrophe for those involved, but for historians and archaeologists of future generations it is an opportunity. Wrecks offer glimpses not only of the nautical technology of the past but also of its economy, trade, culture and, sometimes, its warfare. Until recently, though, most of the 3m ships estimated to be lying on the seabed have been out of reach. Underwater archaeology has mainly been the preserve of scuba divers. That has limited the endeavour to waters less than 50 metres deep, excluding 98% of the sea floor from inspection. Even allowing for the tendency of trading vessels to be coasters rather than ocean-going ships, that limits the number of wrecks available for discovery and examination.

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Experts bid to decode Roman altar

A PAIR of German computer experts are hoping to decode part of South Shields's history by setting their sights on a mysterious Roman altar.

Bjorn Brecht and Bruno Kessler, who are both studying for their masters in geo-computer programming at the University of Applied Science in Mainz, Germany, were invited to Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum in South Shields to help make sense of a now-invisible inscription on a third century AD column.

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2010 preview: Arise, Neanderthal brother

Do we have a little Neanderthal in us? That's not a reference to your behaviour at the end-of-year office party, but to the genes of our extinct cousins. With the imminent publication of the genome sequence of Homo neanderthalis, that question may finally be answered.

So far no one has uncovered evidence of any cross-species romps - at least none that left a trace in our DNA. The 3-billion-nucleotide Neanderthal genome is our best chance yet of finding out.

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York Archaeological Trust take over running of Micklegate Museum on City Walls

A NEW era has dawned for York’s City Walls after the owners of the Jorvik Centre took possession of the keys of Micklegate Bar.

York Archaeological Trust plans to use Micklegate Museum for a series of exhibitions on the part played by the walls in the city’s history, from its Roman foundation to the 20th century.

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Stone Age Pantry: Archaeologist Unearths Earliest Evidence of Modern Humans Using Wild Grains and Tubers for Food

The consumption of wild cereals among prehistoric hunters and gatherers appears to be far more ancient than previously thought, according to a University of Calgary archaeologist who has found the oldest example of extensive reliance on cereal and root staples in the diet of early Homo sapiens more than 100,000 years ago.

Julio Mercader, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Tropical Archaeology in the U of C's Department of Archaeology, recovered dozens of stone tools from a deep cave in Mozambique showing that wild sorghum, the ancestor of the chief cereal consumed today in sub-Saharan Africa for flours, breads, porridges and alcoholic beverages, was in Homo sapiens' pantry along with the African wine palm, the false banana, pigeon peas, wild oranges and the African "potato."

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Bones find from abandoned village 'show tough life of medieval women'

The fearsome northern woman of legend and cliche, broadchested and with a frying pan poised to whack sense into her man, has proved to have genuine historic origins.

Analysis of bones from Britain's biggest medieval excavation has unearthed a race of real-life Nora Battys, ruling a Yorkshire roost nearly 1,000 years ago.

Skeletons from Wharram Percy, a village on the Yorkshire Wolds abandoned after the 14th century Black Death, have much larger bones than those of contemporaries elsewhere.

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Medieval Nora Battys uncovered

THE age of equality, it seems, dates back to the medieval era if the lives of peasant women in a famous Yorkshire settlement are anything to go by.

Archaeologists have unearthed evidence which suggests that women who were living in North Yorkshire as long ago as the 11th century joined their male counterparts to toil on the land.

English Heritage has conducted studies on nearly 120 female skeletons that were found at Wharram Percy, which lays claim to being Europe's most famous deserted medieval village.

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Marsh Archaeology Award 2009 Winner Announced

The winner of the 2009 Marsh Archaeology Award was announced earlier today by the Council for British Archaeology at the end of a session on public participation in archaeology at the Theoretical Archaeology Group conference in Durham University.

The Marsh Archaeology Award this year recognises and promotes high quality and engaging education work carried out in the UK with people under the age of 18.

The winner was Sarah Dhanjal from London. Sarah is currently undertaking PhD research at UCL Institute of Archaeology, exploring attitudes to heritage, and particularly archaeology, in Southall, west London. Sarah worked for three years at UCL from 2005-2008 as a widening participation and diversity officer, running programmes to encourage the participation of underrepresented groups in archaeology and other subjects.

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Medieval Peasants grew the best grapes, study finds

Scientists in Cambridge have discovered that a lowly grape variety grown by peasants – but despised by noblemen – during the Middle Ages was the mother of many of today’s greatest grape varieties, including the Chardonnay used in Champagne.

Several venerable grape varieties - including Chardonnay and Gamay noir - stem from crosses between Pinot noir and Gouais blanc. Until now, which variety was the father and which the mother has been a mystery.

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How did King Harold die at the Battle of Hastings

A recent article is challenging the notion that the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson was killed by an arrow to the eye during the famous Battle of Hastings. The battle, fought in 1066, was a pivotal moment in England's history, ushering in an era of Norman rule.

In an article for The Historian, a publication by the Historical Association, Chris Dennis argues that Harold Godwinson was actually hacked to death by a group of knights that may have included William the Conqueror.

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Spanish dig fails to find grave of poet Lorca

Excavations aimed at finding the remains of Spanish poet and dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca have drawn a blank, officials say.

The dig produced "not one bone, item of clothing or bullet shell", said Begona Alvarez, justice minister of Andalucia.

Lorca was murdered at the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 by right-wing supporters of Gen Francisco Franco.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Find in southern France puts humans in Europe 200,000 earlier

Experts on prehistoric man are rethinking their dates after a find in a southern French valley that suggests our ancestors may have reached Europe 1.57 million years ago: 200,000 earlier than we thought.

What provoked the recount was a pile of fossilised bones and teeth uncovered 15 years ago by local man Jean Rouvier in a basalt quarry at Lezignan la Cebe, in the Herault valley, Languedoc.

In the summer of 2008, Rouvier mentioned his find to Jerome Ivorra, an archaeological researcher at France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

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Merovingian and Carolingian burial sites discovered near Paris

A team of French archaeo-anthropologists have discovered two burial sites dating from the Early Middle Ages in Noisy-le-Grand, a suburb of Paris. The discovery was made earlier this year.

The first site, Merovingian (5th-6th centuries) consisting of almost 300 graves, is characterised by plaster sarcophagi, the dead adorned with bead necklaces, ear-rings, brooches and plate buckles (belt). The sarcophagi, orientated east-west, are grouped by family and community.

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Restoration of Medieval Monastery in Bulgaria to Begin Next Year

Restoration of the St Michael the Archangel Monastery near the Bulgarian town of Trun will begin next year, Trun Mayor Stanislav Nikolov said. The monastery has been proclaimed an archaeological and cultural monument of national importance. It is located on the left bank of the Erma River, close to the Trun Canyon.

The monastery was set up in the late 14th century and is considered an original example of medieval cult architecture in Bulgaria. An antique sacrificial stone is preserved at the place. The church, an architectural analogue of the church at the Poganovo Monastery in Serbia, is also preserved. During the National Revival Period, the monastery was home to a school. The monastery played a role in the struggle for Bulgaria's liberation from Ottoman rule. The Trun Revolutionary Committee was set up there.

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Climate Change Does Not Always Lead to Conflict

The climate change that took place in Mesopotamia around 2000 BC did not lead to war, but in fact led to the development of a new shared identity. Although increasing drought often leads to competition and conflict, there seems to be no evidence of this in northern Mesopotamia according to Dutch researcher Arne Wossink.

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Rising seas 'clue' in sunken world off Orkney

A unique discovery of submerged man-made structures on the seabed off Orkney could help find solutions to rising sea levels, experts have said.

They said the well preserved stone pieces near the island of Damsay are the only such examples around the UK.

It is thought some of the structures may date back thousands of years.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mayas Saving Maya Culture

Location: Guatemala Length: 22 min

An association of Tz’utujil Maya people from Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, struggle to establish a cultural center and archaeological site museum at the nearby lakeside site of Chuitinamit, once home to the Pre-Hispanic Maya King Tepepul and now badly looted. Including a tour of the museum, this film documents their accomplishments thus far and current endeavors in the face of artifact looting and natural catastrophe in the form of Hurricane Stan, which struck in 2005.

Watch the video...

Mel Gibson to direct DiCaprio in Viking movie: report

Hollywood actor and director Mel Gibson's next directing project will be an as-yet untitled film about Vikings, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, "Variety" reported on Monday.

Gibson is to direct DiCaprio in an untitled period drama set during Viking times, according to the film industry bible, which reported that veteran script writer William Monahan also has signed on to the project.

"This will be an awe-inspiring story, created with some of the industry?s finest cinematic talent and I am just over the moon to be making this film with Mel, Leo and Bill," said the film's producer Graham King in a statement.

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Time Team to show special on Dover Castle

The recent restoration of Great Tower at Dover Castle is the subject of a special Time Team programme, which will be broadcast in the United Kingdom on Saturday, December 19.

The castle has dominated the town and the White Cliffs since it was built in 1180 by Henry II to show off the best England could offer.

But it had become a shadow of its former self and in 2008 English Heritage decided to undertake a bold piece of restoration and recreate the rooms of the castle propelling it back to the world of King Henry II.

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Viking Weapon-Recycling Site Found in England?

Today's recyclers can now conceivably lay claim to a rich, bloody, brawny heritage, if a new Viking discovery is any indication.

The famed Norse warriors, many of whom settled parts of eastern and northern England in the Middle Ages, recycled as they fought, new excavations in the United Kingdom suggest.

An 11th-century metalworking site recently discovered in the city of York (map) is likely evidence of a makeshift recycling center, where Vikings took weapons for reprocessing after battle, according to historian Charles Jones, organizer of the Fulford Battlefield Society, which advocates preserving the battle site against potential development.

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4,000-year-old-year-old flowers found at Bronze Age dig

For the first time ever there is proof that pre-historic people placed bunches of flowers in the grave when they buried their dead, experts have said.

Archaeologists have discovered a bunch of meadowsweet blossoms in a Bronze Age grave at Forteviot, south of Perth.

The find is reported in the journal "British Archaeology", out this week.

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Archaeologists find late Roman grave in Budapest

Archaeologists unearthed a burial place from the 4th century - the last period of Roman rule in the former Pannonia province - in NW Budapest, the head of the excavation project told MTI on Monday.

Archaeologist Gabor Lassanyi said that the grave had been dated based on a bone comb it contained. The comb - made with three components fastened together by way of small iron thuds and decorated with geometric motifs - was similar to objects made by barbarian tribes on the area of today's eastern Hungary, and which only became fashionable in Pannonia during the last decades of the era, Lassanyi said.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Dig must go ahead at All Saints' before Church House can be extended

Archaeologists are to dig up part of the grounds of an Ilkley church which stands on the site of a Roman fort.

Permission is being sought for excavations at All Saints’ Church to clear the way for an extension at its neighbour, Church House.

The church, which lies at the crossroads in Ilkley, stands on the site of the Roman fort of Olicana, which is protected by scheduled monument status.

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Jorvik Viking Centre in Coppergate to close for £1 million revamp

ONE of York’s top tourist attractions will close to the public in January while a £1 million redevelopment project is completed.

Animatronic figures which will interact with figures are part of a major upgrade of facilities at the Jorvik Viking Centre.

The revamp, which began in November, will also see a reconstruction of the original Coppergate excavation and the reconstruction of a new Viking-age house and backyard.

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Was Largs a Roman holiday resort?

In this week's 'Know Your News' we head back to the distant past when the beautiful surroundings of Largs proved attractive to the Romans.

In 1958, St Columba's Parish Church Fellowship had a most interesting evening "Hearin' Aboot Auld Largs" from Mr Duncan Brown.

Mr Brown traced Largs to the days when the Romans resided by its shores. He spoke of the finds of old Roman coins and paving underneath the Post Office in Main Street in 1820; also of a Roman well found in Nelson Street while Knock Hill had been a Roman Fort.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ancient midden 'unlikely to survive beyond 2010'

An ancient midden, or rubbish dump, thought to have historical importance is under serious threat from erosion, according to archaeologists.

They said it was doubtful if artefacts at Uamh an Eich Bhric on Skye's west coast would survive beyond 2010.

Excavations at the site during 2008 and earlier this year were seen as the "only chance" to investigate it.

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Laid bare: the sex life of the ancient Greeks in all its physical glory

The ancient Greeks were never at a loss for words when it came to love and lust – and an exhibition that opened in Athens today laying bare the practice of sex in classical times through an unprecedented collection of eye-popping art partly explains why.

Eros, the god of love and the great loosener of limbs, was many things: irresistible, tender, beautiful, excruciating, maddening, merciless and bittersweet. There was no position, no touch, no predilection too outre to pay homage to him. From the affectionate embrace to group sex, love came in many forms.

"The Greeks were anything but prudes," said Nicholaos Stampolidis, director of the Museum of Cycladic Art, where the show will run for six months. "Theirs was a society of great tolerance and lack of guilt."

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Farnham Castle to be restored

Farnham Castle, which was first built in the 12th century, has been awarded £700,000 in funding for major restoration works and improvements for visitors.

The grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will complete the final phase of a major restoration programme and unite the Bishop’s Palace and Keep under single management for the first time. This will enable it as one of the leading tourist attractions in Surrey to offer an exciting and educational visitor experience, and open up the castle’s rich and varied stories to the widest possible audience.

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Scotland’s oldest book goes on display for first time

Scotland's oldest book, a medieval Celtic psalter with vivid illustrations in green, red, purple and gold, will be put on public display on Friday for just the second time in 1,000 years.

The pocket-sized book of psalms dates from the 11th century and has been described as Scotland's version of the celebrated Book of Kells in Dublin.

It contains hand-written psalms in Latin, with Celtic and Pictish illustrations of dragons and other “beasts” and is normally only available to scholars, although it was exhibited in 1967.

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Ladybridge Farm Archaeological Excavations

Planning permission was granted for a revised scheme of mineral extraction at Ladybridge Farm on the 16th January 2007. Since that time a series of archaeological excavations have taken place on the site prior to mineral extraction. All of the work is being carried out by Mike Griffiths and Associates Ltd in consultation with North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) and English Heritage and in accordance with approved Written Schemes of Investigation.

As part of an ongoing obligation by the mineral company Tarmac, the results of the archaeological work are being documented on our web site. In addition to a regularly updated site diary the web site also hosts the minutes of site meetings held between the Heritage Unit at NYCC and advisors of English Heritage as part of an ongoing iterative process.

As well as an account of our current work, the web site also contains an interactive site database and PDF copies of all of our archaeological reports, past and recent, that can be downloaded free of charge.

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Tide turns on Iron Age midden treasure trove

AN ANCIENT rubbish tip – inhabited nearly 2,000 years ago – is disappearing into the sea, archeologists have warned.

The Iron Age midden on Skye's west coast has so far yielded bone fragments, stone tools, a button manufactured from horn and the top of a human skull.

But experts are battling the elements in a race to save the 1,900-year-old treasure trove from the elements.

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Questions About Stress Resolved By Studying Hair Of Ancient Peruvians

Recent studies show that one in three Canadians suffer from stress and the number is on the rise. But stress isn't a new problem.

While the physiological state wasn't properly named until the 1930s, new research from The University of Western Ontario proves stress has plagued humans for hundreds, and perhaps thousands of years.

The first study of its kind, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, detected the stress hormone cortisol in the hair of ancient Peruvians, who lived between 550 and 1532 A.D.

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£725,000 bid to save Lewes Priory Medieval monastery wins Lottery Fund boost

A £725,000 bid to save the decaying Norman skeleton of a Grade I-listed Medieval monastery will go ahead in a two-year rebuilding campaign after Lottery chiefs agreed to fund 75% of the costs.

Lewes Priory, a Scheduled Ancient Monument set opposite a castle in the picturesque East Sussex town, will use the £545,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to create new pathways, benches, interpretive signs and education programmes during an extensive building programme expected to run throughout 2010.

"This is a massive gain for the town of Lewes," said John Lawrence, Chairman of campaigners the Priory Trust, which has helped to win the funding from the HLF, English Heritage and the local Town Council.

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Treasure trove on display at museum

ROMAN coins thought to be more than 2,200 years old are now on display at a museum.

The coins are part of a hoard of treasure found at a farm at Petworth, near Chichester, and now on display at Chichester museum.

The treasure includes two unique, unrecorded types of coin that could inspire interest from coin experts worldwide.

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Ancient Mediterranean flood mystery solved

Research has revealed details of the catastrophic Zanclean flood that refilled the Mediterranean Sea more than five million years ago.

The flood occurred when Atlantic waters found their way into the cut-off and desiccated Mediterranean basin.

The researchers say that a 200km channel across the Gibraltar strait was carved out by the floodwaters.

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Rettungsgrabungen in Ipsach

Neue Rettungsgrabungen am unteren Räberain haben die Kenntnis der frühen Geschichte Ipsachs entscheidend erweitert: Der Archäologische Dienst des Kantons Bern (Schweiz) konnte eine jungsteinzeitliche Beilproduktion nachweisen. Zudem hat er fünf latènezeitliche Gräber entdeckt und wesentliche Ergänzungen zum Grundriss des römischen Gutshofs dokumentiert.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Treasure hunter's Bronze Age find

A TREASURE hunter discovered part of a 3,000-year-old sword while out with his metal detector near Belper.

David Beard, 47, of Sandbed Lane, found the part of the Bronze Age sword when he was out with his metal detector at a farm in the Chevin area of Belper.

He took it to Derby Museum which dated it to between 1150bc and 1400bc.
He said: "You usually find something within the first few minutes but it could be a rusty nail or horse shoe.

It depends, sometimes you can go a whole day and find a Victorian penny. The detector tells you how deep it is, this was about a foot deep."

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Matthew Paris Symposium

The Fraternity of Friends of St Albans Abbey is organising a symposium to mark the 750th anniversary of the death of Matthew Paris, the famous chronicler, cartographer and artist who was a monk at St Alban's in the 13th century.

The Matthew Paris Symposium will be held Saturday, February 13, 2010 at the Abbey CE VA Primary School in St.Alban's.

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Homeless helping Stokes Croft archaeology dig

A team of homeless people are to begin excavating a derelict corner of Bristol which has been used by rough sleepers for more than 40 years.

"Turbo Island" in Stokes Croft is to be excavated in a project funded by the Council of British Archaeology.

Archaeologist Rachael Kiddey, who developed the scheme, said: "This project seeks to break down barriers."

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Homeless dig deep to help excavation of Bristol's Turbo Island

Ring pulls, needles, a syringe and a turquoise ring are just some of the items that have been found in an unusual archeological dig – at Turbo Island.

The patch of land between Stokes Croft and Jamaica Street, which has been frequented by homeless people and street drinkers for decades, is being excavated as part of a project looking at homelessness.

Homeless people in the city are helping police officers, Bristol University students and English Heritage archeologists to uncover items left on the island over the years.

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A Gaelic longboat, and the healing power of heritage

Its freshly oiled pine hull is as fragrant as a wet winter woodland. Modelled on a thousand-year-old prototype, this hulking birlinn – a Gaelic longboat – will soon be ready to sail out along the Clyde and up the west coast in homage to the time when water was Scotland's main thoroughfare. It is taking form in an old iron foundry in Glasgow's Govan, home to a uniquely imaginative community project called the GalGael Trust.

Here, local volunteers teach carpentry, saw-milling and metalwork, as well as boat-building and sailing – the skills so valued in the once thriving shipyards that secured for this area its reputation as the workshop of the empire. It was the inexorable decline in demand for such skills that gifted Govan the reality it contends with today: paralysing levels of unemployment, chronic alcohol and drug addiction, and habitual violence on the streets. The fractured life stories of the men who come here to learn bear witness to all this.

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Priory ruins get lottery makeover

The ruins of a medieval priory in East Sussex are to be transformed into a visitor attraction with lottery money.

The 11th Century Lewes Priory has been awarded £545,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Grade I listed Norman property in Cockshut Road is described by HLF as "one of the most important historical buildings in south-east England".

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Top Ten Archaeology Finds: Most Viewed of 2009

Vampires, pirates, ghost ships, skeletons—if it isn't Halloween, it can only be one thing: National Geographic News's annual lineup of our most popular archaeology coverage.

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German Excavation Reveals Signs of Mass Cannibalism

Was it mass cannibalism, ritual slaughter or both? Archaeologists who unearthed the remains of 500 Stone Age corpses in the German town of Herxheim say the meat was cut off their bones as if they were livestock. One conclusion is that the people were eaten -- after volunteering to be sacrificed.

How do you carve up a cow? First you cut the meat off the bones. You start by severing the muscles from the joints with a sharp knife. The fibrous meat can then easily be scraped off, from top to bottom. After you've removed the flesh there's still a lot of goodness left. Deep in the long bones and vertebrae lies the marrow. To get at this delicacy you smash the bones and scrape out the marrow or simply boil it out in water. What's left is a pile of naked bones with traces of scratching and scraping as well as the small debris of bone that contained marrow.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Turf Farm Hotel Proposed for Thingvellir

Four historians have presented their ideas for a turf farm hotel to the parliament’s Thingvellir committee, a living museum where tourists can travel up to 1,000 years back in time. The historians have founded a company to execute their idea, called Stórsaga.

The historians are especially interested in the area Skógarhólar, which currently has facilities for horseback riders passing through Thingvellir.

In addition to the turf farm, they are keen on building a small church, cowshed, smithy and a parliament camp, Morgunbladid reports.

During the day, tourists can observe how the Icelandic settlers lived and at night the area would be used to accommodate tourists. That way, people can experience how Icelanders used to live for centuries.

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Funding sought to buy Roman site

Campaigners are in a race against time to raise £250,000 to buy the site of a major Roman find in Colchester.

The remains of a chariot racing track at the town's former Garrison were discovered under the former sergeants mess by an archaeological dig in 2004.

A local consortium has so far raised two-thirds of the funds to buy the land from developer Taylor Wimpey.

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Should the Streets of Pompeii be Buried?

The Streets of Pompeii is a walking tour of the ruins of Pompeii, one of two Pompeii walking tours that were assembled from photographs taken by several tourists and posted on Flickr, among other places.

Recently, blogger Archaeopop wrote about a new Google Street View of Pompeii, developed with the full cooperation of the Italian government to give a boost to tourism in their country. Google Street view is video shot at ground and stitched together so that the user can get a personalized stroll through an area. While the tool is a little hard to use at first, when you try it, pretty soon you'll be gliding through the streets of Pompeii staring at ruins in amazement.

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Exeter professor advises Channel 4 team

UNIVERSITY of Exeter scientist Professor Chris Turney is the scientific advisor for the major new series which started on Channel 4 last night.

Man on Earth is a four-part series in which Tony Robinson travels back through 200,000 years of human history to find out what happened to our ancestors when violent climate change turned their world upside down – and what they can teach us as we face our own climate crisis today.

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Internet Archaeology Issue 27

Issue 27 of Internet Archaeology is now available. This issue includes articles focussing on 'Digital Avebury: New 'Avenues' of Research', 'Imperial Industry and Observational Control in the Faynan Region, Southern Jordan' and 'Land Use and the Agrarian Economy in the Roman Dutch River Area'.

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Medieval tombstones rise from flames

Medieval tombstones uncovered in a fire which devastated a County Durham church have gone on display.

The 12th and 13th Century stones were revealed when flames vaporised the interior of St Brandon's Church in Brancepeth, near Durham City, in 1998.

Local historians believe the tombstones, known as cross slabs, were hidden within the walls in the 17th Century to protect them from vandals.

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Ancient Volcano's Devastating Effects Confirmed

A massive volcanic eruption that occurred in the distant past killed off much of central India's forests and may have pushed humans to the brink of extinction, according to a new study that adds evidence to a controversial topic.

The Toba eruption, which took place on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia about 73,000 years ago, released an estimated 800 cubic kilometers of ash into the atmosphere that blanketed the skies and blocked out sunlight for six years. In the aftermath, global temperatures dropped by as much as 16 degrees centigrade (28 degrees Fahrenheit) and life on Earth plunged deeper into an ice age that lasted around 1,800 years.

In 1998, Stanley Ambrose, an anthropology professor at the University of Illinois, proposed in the Journal of Human Evolution that the effects of the Toba eruption and the Ice Age that followed could explain the apparent bottleneck in human populations that geneticists believe occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. The lack of genetic diversity among humans alive today suggests that during this time period humans came very close to becoming extinct.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Crofter finds a 'Viking' anchor on the Isle of Skye

A crofter has uncovered what is believed to be a Viking anchor while digging a drain on the Isle of Skye.

Graeme Mackenzie, 47, made the find after hiring an excavator to open the drain on rough pastureland 50yds (48m) from his home near Sleat.

Rain had partly washed away the bottom of the drain and exposed a corroded 4in (10cm) iron spike.

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The Ruins of Pompeii are now on Google Streetview

The Ruins of Pompeii are now featured on Google Streetview.

You can follow the suggested itinerary through the ruins, or rotate, zoom, etc to you heart’s content!

You can find the Ruins of Pompeii here…

Ancient site reveals signs of mass cannibalism

Archaeologists have found evidence of mass cannibalism at a 7,000-year-old human burial site in south-west Germany, the journal Antiquity reports.

The authors say their findings provide rare evidence of cannibalism in Europe's early Neolithic period.

Up to 500 human remains unearthed near the village of Herxheim may have been cannibalised.

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Excavations uncover four ossuaries at Georgian monastery

FOUR OSSUARIES were found during excavations at the church of Ayios Nikolaos, on the site of the 10th century Georgian Monastery, at Gialia village in Paphos, which have been completed, the Department of Antiquities said.

Inside the ossuaries archaeologists found the bones spread irregularly around the site, along with a large number of clay vessels.

Moveable finds, which mainly consisted of bowls, date to various periods between the 12th and 15th centuries AD.

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French immigrants founded first British farms

THE British may owe the French more than they care to admit. Archaeological finds from Britain show that farming was introduced 6000 years ago by immigrants from France, and that the ancient Brits might have continued as hunter-gatherers had it not been for innovations introduced by the Gallic newcomers.

Mark Collard from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, and his colleagues studied carbon-14 dates for ancient bones, wood and cereal grains from locations across Great Britain. From this they were able to assess how population density changed with time, indicating that around 6000 years ago the population quadrupled in just 400 years (Journal of Archaeological Science, DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2009.11.016). This coincides with the emergence of farming in Britain.

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Oslo growing older

Archeologists now say Oslo's history will have to be re-written. They have made new escavations which show that people have lived on the Ekeberg heights east of the capital for 10,000 years.

The artifacts found include flint chips and other evidence of tool production, which show that people have lived here more than 2000 years longer than experts previously believed.

The new find includes a settlement, which in those days was located at the waters edge, but now is found high up in the hillside. The land has risen after the ice cap which covered much of the area melted.

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Debate Over Evidence of Mass Cannibalism

At a settlement in what is now southern Germany, the menu turned gruesome 7,000 years ago. Over a period of perhaps a few decades, hundreds of people were butchered and eaten before parts of their bodies were thrown into oval pits, a new study suggests.
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Cannibalism at the village, now called Herxheim, may have occurred during ceremonies in which people from near and far brought slaves, war prisoners or other dependents for ritual sacrifice, propose anthropologist Bruno Boulestin of the University of Bordeaux 1 in France and his colleagues. A social and political crisis in central Europe at that time triggered various forms of violence, the researchers suspect.

“Human sacrifice at Herxheim is a hypothesis that’s difficult to prove right now, but we have evidence that several hundred people were eaten over a brief period,” Boulestin says. Skeletal markings indicate that human bodies were butchered in the same way as animals.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Oxford Summer School Courses in Archaeology

The Oxford Experience summer school runs as five separate weeks from 4 July to 7 August 2010.

The summer school is held at the Oxford college of Christ Church, and entry is open to all.

You can find a list of the summer school’s archaeology courses here....

And you can find further details of the Oxford Experience here...

Turkey: Archaeology Holds Up Construction of Tunnel under the Bosphorus

Istanbul’s Marmaray Project, which is to connect Asia and Europe through a tunnel under the Bosphorus, is held back as archaeologists excavate a fourth-century Byzantine port and other important remains.

“Archeologists are working around the clock on a huge swathe of land is being taken apart little by little,” a publication by the Voice of America News recently reported. “Eventually it will be the city's new transportation hub. But for now, it is a massive archaeological dig.”

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Archaeologists to dig up Shakespeare’s rubbish

A team of archaeologists began digging on the site of Shakespeare’s last home yesterday in a search for clues that might reveal more about his life.

They hope to discover remains of clothing, documents and even household waste. The dig is at New Place, where he lived from 1597 until his death in 1616.

Richard Kemp, of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “We are hoping to find organic debris that will teach us what the great man had for dinner. Our dream find would be the first draft of The Tempest, which we know Shakespeare did write here.”

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Portable Antiquities Conference: Archaeology, Collecting, Metal Detecting

The CBA is teaming up with Newcastle University’s International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies to organise and host a major conference titled Portable Antiquities: Archaeology, Collecting, Metal Detecting. This will take place in Newcastle upon Tyne on Saturday 13th March 2010.

Speakers will address the current issues facing those involved and interested in portable antiquities, whether from an archaeological, collecting or metal detecting background. Papers will address recent research, new initiatives and ultimately discuss what the future holds for portable antiquity management and protection in the UK and further afield.

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New evidence found about the Battle of Fulford

The discovery of over a thousand pieces of iron, including arrowheads and axe heads, may provide valuable new details about the Battle of Fulford, which was fought between a Viking and Anglo-Saxon army in 1066.

The battle was won by the Norse forces led by the Norwegian king Harold Hardrada on September 20, 1066. Historians and archaeologists have now evidence that the Vikings spent the next few days setting up hearths to reprocess metal left over from the battle. Their efforts came to a sudden halt when the Vikings were decisively defeated by the English king Harold Godwinson five days later at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

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'Pillaging' Vikings unmasked as eco warriors

THEIR reputation for raping and pillaging may not have set them out as the ideal role-models for an environmentally-friendly way of life.

But it seems that lessons could perhaps be learnt from the Vikings after the intriguing discovery in Yorkshire of what is believed to be a metal recycling centre dating back to the 11th century.

Historians and metal detector enthusiasts have made the find which is being heralded as evidence of how the Norse invaders recycled their fearsome array of weapons.

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Remains of Roman tower discovered during City Walls repair project in Chester

THE well-preserved remains of a Roman tower used by guards patrolling Chester’s City Walls has been discovered by archaeologists repairing a section which collapsed near the Eastgate Clock.

Interval towers were placed regularly every 65m or so along the rear of the main fortress wall and acted as lookout points and as bases for roman artillery. The tower has been found beneath the foundation of the city wall.

City Archaeologist Mike Morris said: “We have been working closely with the stonemasons as they carefully dismantled the City Wall.

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Ancient Temple Architects May Have Been Chasing a Buzz From Sound Waves

Six-thousand-year-old ancient temples are giving up acoustic clues for modern scientists. Intriguing new research on ancient temples in Malta and highlighted by the Old Temples Study Foundation is resonating through international archaeology and interdisciplinary classics research. Reaching beyond the scope of traditional archaeology, a multi-disciplinary approach has opened a new dimension for the study of the ancient world.

“We may be hitting on one of those ‘lost secrets’,” says Linda Eneix, President of The OTS Foundation, dedicated to archaeology research and education related to the ancient temples of Mediterranean Malta.

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Ancient gold unearthed in southern Hungary

Archaeologists have discovered rare gold objects from the time Hungarian tribes first arrived in the Carpathian basin, near Szeged, the head of the excavation told MTI on Monday.

Tibor Paluch, archaeologist of Szeged's Ferenc Mora Museum, said that the relics - thin gold sheets to cover the eyes and mouth of a dead person - had been found in one of eight early graves.

The archaeologist said that the purpose of applying the covers was to protect the soul of the dead. He added that warriors had been buried in six graves, which included the sculls of their horses.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Big Freeze Plunged Europe Into Ice Age in Months

In the film The Day After Tomorrow, the world enters the icy grip of a new glacial period within the space of just a few weeks. Now new research shows that this scenario may not be so far from the truth after all.

William Patterson, from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, and his colleagues have shown that switching off the North Atlantic circulation can force the Northern hemisphere into a mini 'ice age' in a matter of months. Previous work has indicated that this process would take tens of years.

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Greece: Archaeologists Discover Wall of Ancient City of Vergina

An exceptional fortification structure surrounding the ancient city of Vergina, located in northern Greece, was recently discovered by archaeologists from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

According to the university’s announcement, cited by the website, the architectural elements of the enclosure indicate that it dates back to the reign of Cassander, in the early third century BC, a period when Macedonia was plagued by major turmoil, including civil wars and attacks from the outside.

The finding, according to the publication, is of remarkable importance because the wall is preserved in perfect condition.

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A Lost European Culture, Pulled From Obscurity

Before the glory that was Greece and Rome, even before the first cities of Mesopotamia or temples along the Nile, there lived in the Lower Danube Valley and the Balkan foothills people who were ahead of their time in art, technology and long-distance trade.

For 1,500 years, starting earlier than 5000 B.C., they farmed and built sizable towns, a few with as many as 2,000 dwellings. They mastered large-scale copper smelting, the new technology of the age. Their graves held an impressive array of exquisite headdresses and necklaces and, in one cemetery, the earliest major assemblage of gold artifacts to be found anywhere in the world.

The striking designs of their pottery speak of the refinement of the culture’s visual language. Until recent discoveries, the most intriguing artifacts were the ubiquitous terracotta “goddess” figurines, originally interpreted as evidence of the spiritual and political power of women in society.

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Viking ‘recycling’ centre discovered at battle of Fulford site near York

HISTORIANS and metal detector enthusiasts believe they have found York’s first metal recycling centre – dating back to 1066.

A ten-year project aimed at discovering the site of the battle of Fulford, which preceded the better known battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings, has uncovered more than 1,000 pieces of iron.

Historian Chas Jones, who led the research, said the items included arrowheads and axe heads, but there was also strong evidence of metal working indicating the reprocessing of weapons used in the battle.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

"Sensational" Archaeological Find

The Polar ice cap during the last Ice Age might not have been as extensive as previously thought, according to archaeologists looking at the remains of human settlements in the north of Sweden.

People may have lived in the northern region of Tornedalen as far back as 11,000 years ago, according to Olof Östlund, speaking to the Norrländska Socialdemokraten newspaper.

The 2 settlements were found in the area around Kaunisvaara, where a new mine is about to be built. Carbon dating of the finds show that they are much older than previously thought, and mean that previous theories that the area would be covered by the huge polar ice cap are wrong.

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Event: Vikings are coming to Peterborough Museum

VISITORS to Peterborough Museum this weekend will have a chance to see Vikings, warriors and soldiers come to life.

The museum is staging a free exhibition of militaria as part of an annual fair organised by the Soke Military Society.

The museum's own collections of arms and armour will also be on show.

Visitors will be able to enjoy displays and demonstrations by costumed re-enactors from local re-enactment groups.

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Dig to start at Shakespeare site

Archaeologists are preparing to excavate the site of Shakespeare's final home to find out more about the history of the building.

The New Place, in Stratford-upon-Avon, was built in 1483 and is thought to be where the playwright died in 1616.

The building itself was demolished in 1759, but it is thought remains of the old house are still underground.

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Swedish archaeologists celebrate ancient find

People lived in the Torne River Valley on the border with Sweden and Finland some 11,000 years ago, an important new archaeological find has shown.

The settlement, found near Pajala in the far north of Sweden, are the oldest known find in the county of Norrbotten, according to the archaeologist Olof Östlund.

The find was uncovered when archaeologists were searching for ancient remains in the area around Kaunisvaar near Pajala where a new mine is set to open, according to a report in local newspaper Norrländska Socialdemokraten.

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Birmingham archaeologists in search of Shakespeare's house

BIRMINGHAM archaeologists are to take part in their own Time Team dig when they go in search of Shakespeare’s house.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon has begun preparations for an archaeological excavation at the site of the Bard’s home, New Place, where he lived out his final years until his death in 1616.

The trust has teamed up with Birmingham Archaeology on a programme of trial trenching which will help to establish levels of deposit survival at New Place and quantify the potential for waterlogged conditions, which are favourable for preserving organic materials.

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The V&A's Medieval & Renaissance Galleries, review

The V&A has filled its new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries with the very best of its collection to show the birth of art as we know it. Rating: * * * * *

The single worst review I’ve given in 23 years as a critic was devoted to a show of modern furniture held in the V&A’s medieval treasury in 2000. Just to give you hint of its content, the headline ran “How was this disgrace allowed to happen?” If I was intemperate then, it was because the V&A had allowed some of its greatest treasures to be used as backdrop for a show of plastic stacking chairs and chrome-plated sofas.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

How seat fit for a king has cast new light on Scotland's dark ages

THE first Pictish throne to be built for a millennium has been unveiled by researchers investigating the lives of Scotland's most mysterious tribal people.

The team spent a year crafting the oak of five Scottish trees into a design modelled on ancient carvings in a project that cost around £10,000. Raised thrones were important symbols of Pictish power for church leaders and kings, but none survive. The project at the National Museums of Scotland (NMS) is part of a three-year research programme, sponsored by the Glenmorangie whisky company, and aims to improve understanding of Scottish history from 300AD to 900AD.

David Clarke, the NMS keeper of archaeology, said: "During the process of recreating this piece, we've learned so much about the design, manufacture and use of these thrones. It's very exciting to see this brought to life."

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'No tax cash' for treasure hoard

Birmingham council taxpayers will not have to pay to acquire a haul of 7th Century Anglo-Saxon treasure, according to plans by the city's authority.

The hoard, valued at £3.285m, was unearthed in Staffordshire.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent are both hoping to buy the treasure from the Crown.

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The tulip entered Europe through al-Andalus in the 11th century

A new study carried out at the University of Cordoba and the School of Arabic Studies provides information on the arrival of the flower to Europe. Contrary to what was thought up until now, the first bulbs could have arrived to Holland, where today the tulip is the country symbol, through 11th century al-Andalus, five centuries before what was believed.

Researchers attempted to reconstruct the diversity of the flora present in the medieval period in al-Andalus (territory which today would be divided between Andalusia, Castilla la Mancha and areas of eastern Spain and southern Portugal) through the study of all known texts by Andalusian agronomists. This was when they discovered what appeared to be, for Esteban Hernández Bermejo and Expiración García, directors of research and researchers at the University of Cordoba and the School of Arabic Studies (Superior Council of Scientific Research), "the first historic reference to tulips."

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Pictish throne built as part of new research project

A throne built to a design used by the ancient Picts has gone on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

The seat was created by master furniture maker Adrian McCurdy who drew inspiration from stone carvings.

It was commissioned by distillers Glenmorangie and National Museums Scotland (NMS).

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Cavemen Roasted Birds, Too

Early modern humans and their predecessors in Europe were mostly big game hunters, but a pile of well-nibbled bird bones suggests that at least some prehistoric European cavemen enjoyed small prey too, according to a new study.

The 202 bones, belonging to the Aythya genus of diving ducks, were found at Bolomor Cave near the town of Tavernes in Valencia, Spain. The ducks date to around 150,000 years ago, and were not eaten daintily.

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Greece: Archaeologists to Restore Ancient Theatre of Dionysos

The ruined theatre under the Acropolis in Athens, considered as the birthplace of classical theatre, will be partially restored over the next six years, Greek authorities announced recently.

The project, worth 6 million euro, includes extensive modern additions to the surviving stone seats of the theater, where works of Euripides and other classical ancient playwrights were performed some 2,500 years ago, the Associated Press recently reported.

The theatre, located on the slopes of the Acropolis Hill, was first used in the late sixth century BC, with the performances of plays by the precursors of western theatre - tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, and Aristophanes’ comedies, according to the publication.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

History in the making: British Museum objects to tell tale of humankind

The British Museum and the BBC today announced what they called an unprecedented partnership for a project that cannot be said to lack ambition: they want to help to construct a history of the world using objects collected from 2 million years of human history.

Neil MacGregor, the museum's director, called it "the biggest thing we've ever done" while Mark Damazer, the controller of Radio 4, said it was the "most ambitious and most thrilling project" he had worked on in more than 25 years at the BBC.

Details of the collaboration, nearly four years in the planning, were released at a launch in the grand surroundings of the Enlightenment gallery of the British Museum. The aim is to get more people interested in history, get people thinking about their place in the world, and get more of them into museums across the UK.

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1,500-year-old girl is reconstructed

She was probably 16 years old and had a wide, flat Asian face, a long neck and a slim figure. The girl died 1,500 years ago. But now she’s reborn - well, partially, at least.

At the National Palace Museum of Korea yesterday officials from the Gaya National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage in Korea unveiled the restored model of the girl from the Gaya confederacy era (42-562).

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Anglo-Saxon gold is worth £3.285m

A haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure recently unearthed in Staffordshire has been valued at £3.285m.

The money will be split between metal detector enthusiast Terry Herbert, who found the hoard, and Fred Johnson, who owns the farm where it was discovered.

Mr Johnson said he had not made any plans for the money but did not think he would be leaving his farm.

The value of the 7th century hoard, the largest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard found, was set by a committee of experts.

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Staffordshire Hoard valued at £3.3 million as it goes on show at The British Museum

The Staffordshire Hoard, the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever found, has been valued at £3.3 million by the Treasure Valuation Committee in a summit at the British Museum in London, where a selection of items from the find have gone on display.

Terry Herbert’s raft of sword fittings, helmets, religious jewellery and gold, dated to the late 600s or early 700s. The metal detectorist found them in fields in South Staffordshire and will net an equal split of the total with landowner Fred Johnson in a deal struck between the pair.

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Staffordshire Anglo-Saxon treasure hoard valued at £3.3m

The largest and arguably most beautiful hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found in Britain has been valued at nearly £3.3m by a panel of experts, a reward that will be shared between the amateur metal detectorist who found it and the Staffordshire farmer in whose pasture it lay hidden for 1,300 years.

Professor Norman Palmer, chair of the treasure valuation committee, whose members pored over 1,800 gold, silver and jewelled objects in a day-long session at the British Museum, said: "It was breathtaking – we all agreed that it was not only a challenge but a privilege to be dealing with material of such quantity, quality and beauty. It was hard to stop our imaginations running away with us."

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Underground Rome: Jewish Catacombs Under Villa Torlonia

Some say the Jewish catacombs under the Villa Torlonia just outside the historic center of Rome are the oldest in the Eternal City. We recently had a chance to visit them and were surprised at the state of preservation of the frescos. (The burial chambers themselves were not so fortunate, having been looted long ago.) Our guide, Rome archaeologist Simona Morretta, hoped the catacombs will be open to the public by 2010--or as soon as safety issues are worked out. For now, you'll have to be content with some pictures your intrepid scribe has taken of our excursion:

Pictures of the Jewish Catacombs under Villa Torlonia in Rome, Italy.

Paris rediscovers its first medieval fortifications

An excavation on the rue de Rivoli is currently uncovering the first Medieval city fortifications of Paris. This excavation by an Institut national des recherches archaeologiques preventives team has found a deep ditch on land isolated among a group of buildings. This earth and wood fortification comprised a ditch and a bank, which probably held in place a wooden palisade. The bank and the palissade were destroyed when the fortification was abandoned, and have left no traces. The ditch, however, was preserved under existing Paris buildings and has now been rediscovered.

Visible for about 20 metres, this V-shaped dry ditch is approximately 12 metres wide and 3 metres deep. Being the only fortification in the capital with no preserved built remains, it is the most poorly documented. Consequently it has sometimes been called the "Carolingian wall" and at other times the "11th century wall". It is the second city wall of Paris, situated between that built in Late Antiquity (early 4th century, on the Ile de la Cité) and that of Philip Augustus (around 1200, built on both banks). From the 10th century onwards, after the Viking invasions and particularly during the siege of Paris from 885-886, the right bank experienced significant economic and urban development and its protection thus became a necessity.

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Archaeologist Set to Recreate Palace of Greatest Bulgarian Tsar

Leading Bulgarian archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov has presented a project for recreating the palace of the greatest Bulgarian medieval Tsar.

The project is aimed at creating an exact 1:10 replica (i.e. ten times smaller) of the palace of Tsar Simeon I The Great (893-927 AD) in his capital Veliki Preslav.

“My father and I have dreamed of making Veliki Preslav as popular for tourists as are the Valley of Thracian Kings and Perperikon. The great destruction of the medieval Bulgarian capital has prevented us from realizing the actual magnificence of the medieval Bulgarian Empire,” Ovcharov said.

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Archive shedding light on Shakespeare's times goes online

A unique archive on the theatre of Shakespeare's times, revealing everything from the price of a ferry ticket across the Thames to the cost of a tumbler's breeches, becomes available free to the world today when the papers of the theatre owner and entrepreneur Philip Henslowe and his actor son-in-law Edward Alleyn go online.

Henslowe built one of the first theatres in London, the Rose, on the site of a bear-baiting ring and brothel. Shakespeare almost certainly worked as an actor there and some of his plays, including Titus Andronicus, were first performed there.

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New Website: Community Archaeology North West

Community Archaeology North West is an independent consultancy affiliated to the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit. It was established in September 2009 by Dr Robert Isherwood following the successful completion of his Arts and Humanities Research Council funded doctoral research into community archaeology.

Community Archaeology North West offers a range of services to groups and organisations that are seeking to develop and deliver community and educational dimensions to archaeological and heritage projects. The design and delivery of innovative learning experiences and programmes of study for schools based around archaeology and material culture is a speciality.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Website Launched on Medieval Monasteries in Wales

A new website was launched last month by the University of Wales Lampeter with information about medieval monasteries and nunneries founded in Wales between the coming of the Normans and the Dissolution of 1530s.

The Monastic Wales website is a work in progress and already contains detailed information about individual monastic sites. It is user-friendly and partly interactive, comprising searchable information on more than 50 medieval monastic sites across Wales. For each site, the monastic order, dedications, affiliations, ownership, public access, maps, main events, and important people are detailed, along with a bibliography, images, and links to other websites of relevance. The website is designed to be of use to both academic researchers and the members of the public interested in visiting these important historic sites.

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Bid to map out 7th-century abbey

Ancient ruins in Lincolnshire are to be uncovered as part of a plan to map out the history of a former abbey.

A team of archaeologists are currently at Bardney Abbey where they are carrying out trial excavations on the site, which dates back to 7th century.

Work on the Benedictine abbey, near the banks of the River Witham, is being carried out on behalf of The Jews' Court Trust. The aim is to find out if the ruins can be safely restored and displayed.

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Iron-age dig hitch for planned 1,200 homes in Scarborough

THE discovery of a possible Iron Age or Roman settlement could scupper plans on land earmarked for a massive housing estate.

A 13.5-acre section of land owned by Scarborough Council – part of the planned 1,200-home scheme at Middle Deepdale – may cover the remains of an early Iron Age or early-Romano British ladder village.

Archaeologists have said that there is a 20 per cent risk that the remains are of such high importance that the area would be unsuitable for development.

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Diggers aim to unearth secrets of town's past

ARCHAEOLOGISTS will return to a site in Grimsby next week hoping to uncover more secrets of the town's past.

Initial excavations began in May as part of a project that could offer the last chance to discover important artefacts before the construction of a £12m residential and retail development at the town centre site.

The trial trenches confirmed the presence of well-preserved archaeological deposits dating from the medieval period.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

So that's what the Romans gave us – more historic camps than anywhere

SCOTLAND already has more identified Roman camps than any other European country – reflecting Rome's repeated attempts to stamp its rule on the troublesome north.

Now the number is set to increase. The first comprehensive survey of Roman remains for 30 years will boost the total of officially recognised sites and give them greater legal protection, officials said yesterday.

Traces of at least 225 Roman military camps dot the Scottish countryside from the Borders to Aberdeenshire.

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Death certificate is imprinted on the Shroud of Turin, says Vatican scholar

A Vatican scholar claims to have deciphered the "death certificate" imprinted on the Shroud of Turin, or Holy Shroud, a linen cloth revered by Christians and held by many to bear the image of the crucified Jesus.

Dr Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican secret archives, said "I think I have managed to read the burial certificate of Jesus the Nazarene, or Jesus of Nazareth." She said that she had reconstructed it from fragments of Greek, Hebrew and Latin writing imprinted on the cloth together with the image of the crucified man.

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Dung helps reveal why mammoths died out

Mammoth dung has proved to be a source of prehistoric information, helping scientists unravel the mystery of what caused the great mammals to die out.

An examination of a fungus that is found in the ancient dung and preserved in lake sediments has helped build a picture of what happened to the beasts.

The study sheds light on the ecological consequences of the extinction and the role that humans may have played in it.

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Did We Wipe Out the Prehistoric Hobbit Man?

A race of intelligent, diminutive hominids co-existing alongside humanity in South-East Asia? In the year 2003, a creature from mythology stepped out of the shadows and into the cold, hard light of science when an archaeological dig revealed what appeared to be a new species of hominid that matched closely with local myths of a creature known as the Ebu Gogo.

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Ancient burial site to be moved

Remains of a burial site on Skye thought to date back to Neolithic times and uncovered during house building work look set to be relocated.

Flint tools and urns along with damaged skeletal remains were found at Armadale on the Sleat peninsula.

The artefacts along with stone slabs used in creating the graves have been removed.

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Sophisticated hunters not to blame for driving mammoths to extinction

Woolly mammoths and other large, lumbering beasts faced extinction long before early humans perfected their skills as spearmakers, scientists say.

The prehistoric giants began their precipitous decline nearly 2,000 years before our ancestors turned stone fragments into sophisticated spearpoints at the end of the last ice age.

The animals, which included mammoths, elephant-sized mastodons and beavers the size of black bears, were probably picked off by more inept hunters who only much later developed specialised weapons when their prize catches became scarce.

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Farmer fears treasure hunters are threat

A SUFFOLK farmer is leading calls for a new law to punish unscrupulous metal detector enthusiasts who he claims are “ripping apart” England's heritage for their own personal gain.

John Browning, who owns farmland covering a former Roman settlement in Icklingham, has been targeted by illegal treasure hunters - known as Nighthawkers - countless times during the past 30 years.

His frustration at what he describes as paltry fines and weak court action against offenders has forced him to take his cause to Westminster.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Early Humans May Have Been Hobbits, Scientists Say

In a strange case of science imitating art, one hobbit has again become the center of a heated and ongoing conflict.

Since its 2003 discovery on the Indonesian island of Flores, the Homo floresiensis (nicknamed hobbit because it only grew to be about three feet tall) has caused scientists across the world to debate whether the find is a new species or simply a variation of the modern human. The difference could signal a major paradigm shift in the study of primitive humans.

Although several partial H. floresiensis skeletons have been identified, the majority of the attention has been given to a specimen called LB1 (the first to be discovered) because it is the most complete skeleton and the only one that has an entire cranium.

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How Humanlike Was "Ardi"?

A second look a the 4.4-million-year-old primate that has sparked debate about upright walking and what it means to be in the human tribe

For such a petite creature, the 1.2-meter-tall "Ardi" (Ardipithecus ramidus) has made big waves in the paleoanthropology world. The momentous find—announced 15 years ago and formally described in Science this October—has deepened academic debates about when bipedalism evolved, what our last common ancestor with chimpanzees looked like, and how some ancient primates gave way to modern humans.

"This is a fascinating fossil no matter what side you come down on," says William Jungers, a professor and chairman of the Department of Anatomical Sciences at the Stony Brook University Medical Center in Long, Island, N.Y. The 11-paper Science analysis has, indeed, sharpened more differences than it has smoothed over.

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Roman military sites investigated

Greater protection could be given to Roman military sites in Scotland, a country with more Roman camps than any other part of Europe.

A team from Historic Scotland is seeking to identify significant remains which do not have scheduled monument status.

It will also update information on scheduled sites following new research.

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Scuba diving to the depths of human history

KITTED out with the latest scuba gear, Garry Momber peers through the murky water to the seabed below. It's dark - Momber is 11 metres below the water's surface and the black peat of the seabed absorbs what little light reaches the bottom. Then the tide turns, and as clearer water flows in from the open seas, the decaying remains of an ancient forest emerge from the gloom. Working quickly, he records details of the exposed material before the strengthening current forces him away from the site.

This is all in a day's work for Momber, who is director of the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology in Southampton, UK. His job is to search for clues to a prehistoric world lost beneath the waves in the channel that separates the Isle of Wight from the south coast of England - to be precise, at a location 300 metres off the port of Yarmouth.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cerne Abbas Giant: is he older than we thought?

Standing proudly on a hillside in West Dorset, the chalk outline of the Cerne Abbas Giant has perplexed visitors for centuries.

To the frustration of archaeologists there is no written record of the anatomically detailed chalk figure before the late 17th century, but clues that the giant was created earlier than that have emerged in the form of suggestive earthworks built nearby.

Rob Wilson-North, historic environment manager for the Exmoor National Park Authority, believes that the giant may date from the late 16th or early 17th century after he discovered a pair of man-made earth mounds and a long gulley protruding from them.

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Ancient Weapons Dug Up by Archaeologists in England

Staff at the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) have been excited by the results from a recently excavated major Prehistoric site at Asfordby, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. The Mesolithic site may date from as early as 9000 BC, by which time hunter-gatherers had reoccupied the region after the last ice age. These hunters crossed the land bridge from the continental mainland -- 'Britain' was only to become an island several thousand years later.

The site was excavated during 2009 by ULAS in advance of a residential development for Jelson Homes Ltd. Initial trenching work identified several worked flint blades of characteristic Mesolithic type, and clearly in an unworn and undisturbed state. Further work confirmed that these rare flint finds were preserved in a Mesolithic soil, buried by a much later ploughsoil. Because this early soil had survived intact, it was thought possible that original features such as hearths and structures might still remain, and activities linked to the flint scatter could also be found.

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Giant is just a youngster

A new theory on the origins of the Cerne Giant has knocked centuries off his age.

The giant, whose outline is marked in chalk on a hillside in the village of Cerne Abbas, has long been considered the work of Celtic or Roman settlers.

But new research by historian, Rob Wilson-North, suggests that the giant may have been created in the 17th century in a gesture of defiance to Roundhead leader Oliver Cromwell.

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Anglo-Saxon treasure found in Norfolk

A silver-gilded knob dating back to the late 6th or early 7th century has been declared as treasure at a Norwich inquest.

The knob has a cast animal head on it and was found by metal detector Vincent Butler on land belonging to the Diocese of Norwich in Fransham, between Swaffham and Dereham, on October 1, 2007, but the inquest was delayed for two years for various reasons.

Greater Norfolk Coroner William Armstrong said at yesterday's Norwich inquest that the finder had permission to be detecting on the land.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Life after PPG 16

Kathryn Whittington, PR Coordinator, Institute for Archaeologists, on the major changes to the profession of the last 20 years

There has been a great deal of change over the past few years in archaeology with far reaching effects on the way archaeologists view themselves and work both with each other, other parts of the heritage sector and other industries.

The Institute for Archaeologists has been at the heart of these changes, and continues to work hard to set and maintain standards of archaeological professionalism and to make sure that archaeologists’ needs and concerns are addressed by government.

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Starvation 'wiped out' giant deer

The giant deer, also known as the giant Irish deer or Irish elk, is one of the largest deer species that ever lived.

Yet why this giant animal, which had massive antlers spanning 3.6m, suddenly became extinct some 10,600 years ago has remained a mystery.

Now a study of its teeth is producing tantalising answers, suggesting the deer couldn't cope with climate change.

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Odin at Lejre?

This Viking-Age figurine has already provoked quite a lot of interest on the net. Jonas Wellendorf brought it to my attention on norrø; it’s also been discussed in posts at Norse and Viking Ramblings and The Viking Rune. But is it really Odin, as people have already claimed?

Roskilde Museum is confident that this 2cm-high silver artifact represents Odin on his throne with his two ravens. It was found at Lejre, although not as part of the main excavations there.

It now probably won’t be long before the hall-complex at Lejre is claimed to be the prototype for Valhalla as well as for Beowulf’s Heorot … but how convincing do you find the identification with Odin? Do you have an alternative explanation for this intriguing little icon? Do you agree with Martin Rundkvist that it’s in fact a female figure–Freyja perhaps? Let the speculation begin!

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Archaeology - it's not what you know...

B&E hears from Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, head of communications at Wessex Archaeology.
‘Why?’ Dave said turning to me in exasperation, ‘why do you keep putting these archaeological sites in the way of my road?

His frustration was clear. In fact he had turned such a bright red that I was concerned for his health. But the lead-in to a sequence of closure orders and a traffic management system straight from the spaghetti factory was not the time to tell Dave what he already knew.

The archaeological sites were there long before the road was planned. Systematic archaeological trial works would probably have identified the sites. Pragmatic risk management would certainly have reduced the risk of delay to programme. But the risk hadn’t been designed out. Instead it had been left to the construction stage.

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Cerne Abbas Giant: is he older than we thought?

Standing proudly on a hillside in West Dorset, the chalk outline of the Cerne Abbas Giant has perplexed visitors for centuries.

To the frustration of archaeologists there is no written record of the anatomically detailed chalk figure before the late 17th century, but clues that the giant was created earlier than that have emerged in the form of suggestive earthworks built nearby.

Rob Wilson-North, historic environment manager for the Exmoor National Park Authority, believes that the giant may date from the late 16th or early 17th century after he discovered a pair of man-made earth mounds and a long gulley protruding from them.

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Quest to find out what the Romans dropped down the drain

Britain’s oldest bath overflow is to be given its first thorough inspection nearly 2,000 years after it was built.

For two millennia the Great Drain has carried the mineral-rich waters of Britain’s only hot spring from the Roman Bath in Bath to the nearby River Avon. The drain runs for nearly half a mile under the city but although parts of it are large enough for a man to walk through, it has never been fully explored.

Archaeologists will have their first opportunity to get inside the previously inaccessible sections of the Great Drain this month when engineers open it up for repairs.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Archaeological Study Tour to The Peak District and the Fens 1 to 6 April 2010

The EMAS Easter 2010 study tour is to the Peak District and the Fen Country. This area of middle England contains some of the highest and the lowest land in the country, and this topographical variety is reflected in the varied nature of the archaeology.

The Peak District and the surrounding areas are rich in archaeological remains, from prehistoric sites such as the caves and rock shelters at Creswell Crags or the well-preserved henge at Arbor Low to medieval sites such as Peveril Castle or Wingfield Manor. The Fenland area offers a similar range of archaeological periods, with sites varying from barrows such as Hoe Hill to late medieval buildings, such as Tattershall Castle.

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5.000 Jahre Geschichte an der Porta Westfalica

In Porta Westfalica-Barkhausen (Kreis Minden-Lübbecke) haben die Archäologen des Landschaftsverbandes Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) ihre diesjährige Ausgrabung beendet. Neben Funden aus dem 2008 entdeckten römischen Marschlager haben sie Spuren aus allen Epochen seit der Zeit früher Bauern vor 5.000 Jahren bis hin zum dreißigjährigen Krieg entdeckt.

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Iron-age village in Sidmouth?

The parents of 100 children living in Baker Close, Sidmouth, are now fighting archaeologists as well as developers in their battle to keep a field as a play area.

On Wednesday railings went up around two fields opposite Baker Close and Howarth Close, as workmen cleared the area ready for an archaeological dig, following findings during a survey on the land which has been earmarked for housing.

Building is scheduled to start next year and anomalies during a survey, believed to have been prompted by the discovery of Saxon finds, may dash hopes that the field would be retained as a play area until then.

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Archaeologists to study Bronze Age barrow at Stedham

Archaeologists are to study a Bronze Age barrow in a corner of a sand quarry site at Minsted, near Stedham.
West Sussex County Council has given consent for the scheme, submitted on behalf of the Dudman Group which operates the Minsted site.

Stedham with Iping Parish Council was told two other barrows had already been destroyed by operations at the quarry over the years, and this barrow was one of a series of five that extended to Fitzhall, on the Elsted road.

Clearance of undergrowth is due to take place this month in preparation for archaeological trenches to be dug and the findings assessed by experts in the spring of 2010.

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How Sweden conquered Finland in the Middle Ages

A new article is shedding light on how the Kingdom of Sweden was able to conquer and take control the lands of southern Finland between the 13th and 15th centuries.

In his article, "Sweden's Conquest of Finland: A Clash of Cultures," Philip Line examines how the kingdom of Sweden was able to impose their rule on Finland and convert its inhabitants to Christianity. The article appears in the book The Clash of Cultures on the Medieval Baltic Frontier, edited by Alan V. Murray.

Fine notes that many of the sources for this conquest "are both meagre and suspect," but that some information can be found from archaeological sources. Until the 13th century, the area of southern Finland seems to have been sparsely populated with just a small Christian presence. Both Sweden and the Russian state of Novgorod launched raids into the area, and Fine believes that one of the reasons for the Swedes making more aggressive moves into Finland was to prevent the territory and its trade routes from being taken by the Novgorodians first.

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Bid to bring Anglo Saxon gold hoard home

A CASH value could be placed on the Staffordshire Hoard by the end of this month giving Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery its first clear indication of how much it needs to raise to buy the treasure.

Archaeologists from the British Museum are currently casting their expert eyes over the 1,600 Anglo-Saxon gold pieces found buried in a field in near Burntwood earlier this summer.

It could be a tough job as the Staffordshire Hoard being the largest and most significant Anglo-Saxon find ever is completely unique and some would say priceless. The museum’s Treasure Valuation Committee is expected to meet before the end of the month to put its first cash figure on the largest ever Anglo-Saxon find and offer it to the Secretary of State for Media, Sport and Culture.

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The savage beauty of maligned marauders

WHEN we think of the Vikings, most of us probably conjure up images of Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis slugging it out in the famous Hollywood blockbuster.

The film was based on legendary tales from the sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons who are among the many colourful characters featured in Robert Ferguson's masterly book The Hammer And The Cross – A New History of the Vikings.

Tracing the history of the Vikings is notoriously difficult as they weren't literate and their culture was based on an oral tradition of sagas, eddas and the poetry of the skalds. As a result they're frequently portrayed as marauding hordes intent on little more than raping and pillaging.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Solar Chariot 3600 Years Old Unearthed in Saratov Region

The ancient find is a psalium, an element of harness. Experts state that it is just 200 years younger than the first chariot, invented in that very part of the continent, according to research.

The psalium is made of a bull’s hipbone. Amazing is the craftsmanship of the master who made this artifact, as well as the ideal state in which it has come down to us.

The swastika was once a symbol of the solar chariot. It is corroborated by archeological finds unearthed not far from the Nizhnyaya Krasavka Settlement of the Saratov Region. The site of the ancient settlement of the Arians has been examined by students and professors for three years already. Within this period the expedition acquired around 20 000 artifacts of various value.

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Possible Roman villa found in Ceredigion

ARCHAEOLOGISTS working for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales in Aberystwyth think they have discovered Ceredigion’s first Roman villa.

Unusual markings in summer crops first seen during aerial photography in the dry summer of 2006 showed a great rectangular structure, and footings of a simple rectangular building, buried below fields near Trawsgoed Roman fort.

This summer the site was investigated during filming for a second series of the highly acclaimed Hidden Histories television programme for BBC2 Wales, following the day to day work of the Royal Commission.

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Archaeologists discover Stone Age weapons factory in Leicestershire

University of Leicester archaeologists have discovered a Mesolithic Stone Age weapons factory on a building site near Melton in Leicestershire.

Thousands of tiny pieces of flint remained hidden and preserved by layers of soil for 10,000 years until property developers started excavations for a new housing estate.

Dr Patrick Clay and his team from the University of Leicester Archaeology Service (ULAS) now have the mammoth task of cataloguing around 8,000 finds.

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Roman ruins found under theatre

An ancient Roman ruin has been discovered by builders working on the £25.6m redevelopment of the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury.

The townhouse, thought to date from between the late second and early third Centuries, is believed to have belonged to a wealthy citizen.

Archaeologists found the remains of the building's under-floor heating, leather shoes, seeds and a plate.

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Time team star digs in for city's history event

TV'S Time Team star Paul Blinkhorm will be going back to his roots when he joins Milton Keynes Archaeology Day 2009 as its special guest.

Before his days on the screen pottery expert Paul began his career in Milton Keynes during the '80s and will be delving into the city's Anglo Saxon past and offering his expert views at the event to be hosted by Central Milton Keynes library on Saturday.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Balkan Heritage (BH) Field School

The Balkan Heritage (BH) Field School has just opened the application session for six projects in 2010 in Archaeology, Art History, Restoration and Conservation of artefacts and monuments, Fine Arts and Christian Theology:

Balkan Heritage (BH) Field School (est. 2003) functions as a legal part of Balkan Heritage Foundation – a Bulgarian public, non-profit, non-governmental organization. It implements various educative projects in the areas of Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, Folklore, Art History, Restoration and Conservation of artefacts and monuments, Fine Arts and Theology Europe with participation of students, scholars and volunteers from all over the World.

Balkan Heritage Mission is to support study, protection, restoration and promotion of sites, artefacts and practices belonging or related to the cultural heritage of South-Eastern Europe.

Projects’ location: Bulgaria, Macedonia

Projects’ language: ENGLISH

Projects in 2010...

Bulgaria: Archaeologist Unearth More Valuable Finds in Nesebar’s Necropolis

Archaeologists discovered yesterday precious objects in three new tombs in the Necropolis in the Black Sea town of Nesebar.
The archaeological excavations are being carried out on an area, where the Nesebar municipality intends to construct a building, the municipality’s press centre told media on Monday.

Household objects, mirrors and gold particles were discovered in the three tombs, the press centre said. Their exact nature, value and period from which they date will be determined after a thorough examination.

The objects discovered are the latest of the 650 finds that the team of 25 archaeologists unearthed during excavations over the past 12 months of 950 tombs dating to various historical periods.

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One step closer to bringing our treasure hoard back home

Hopes of bringing the Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure back to its home county and region have been given a boost after the British Museum said it would not try to buy it.

The news came at the launch of a temporary exhibition of the 1,662 pieces of gold and silver at the London museum.

Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “The British Museum confirmed they are not interested in acquiring the hoard and said that once the valuation is made, there is no suggestion that it will go anywhere other than Staffordshire and Birmingham.”

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