Thursday, September 30, 2010

Trampling Skews Artifact Dates by Thousands of Years?

Around the world, the hooves of water buffaloes, goats, and other large animals may have propelled countless Stone Age artifacts back in time, at least as far as archaeologists are concerned.

In wet areas, wild or domestic animals' heavy footfalls can push stone artifacts deep into the ground, making them seem older than they really are—in some cases, thousands of years older—according to a new study.

Scientists often date artifacts of the Stone Age, which began about two and a half million years ago, based on the depths at which the items are found: The deeper the object, the older it is, generally speaking.

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Legendary Roman wolf cave 'found'

Archaeologists believe they've found the sacred cave where, according to legend, a she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of Rome.

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Kilwinning dig moves to resident's garden

ARCHAEOLOGISTS and volunteers landed on Kilwinning resident Anne Denniston’s doorstep on Thursday armed with their tools to dig up her back garden.

And Anne, who is also a volunteer on the dig, couldn’t be happier.

The team spent the day digging up her garden while Ann and volunteers riddled the soil to see what treasures lay beneath.

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What we can learn from our hunter-gatherer ancestors

The roots of our current problems of climate change and resource depletion go back 6,000 years to the arrival of farming

As an archaeologist my work is rooted in the past. As an inhabitant of the 21st century, I try to be "green". As an academic I am keen to re-awaken interest in the ancient hunter-gatherer population who lived in Britain before the arrival of farming 6,000 years ago. In my recent research, I found that all three come together and, what is more, they help me to show that archaeology has relevance – it is not just old stones and bones.

There is a growing realisation that life, as we live it, is not sustainable. We devote books, magazines, courses and thinktanks to the problem. But the existing analysis is shallow; it focuses on the present and on the status quo. For this reason, there is no quick fix for us today; to talk about climate change, renewable energy or staycations is merely to scratch the surface of something much deeper.

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Success in Roman helmet appeal

A magnanimous philanthropist has anonymously donated £50,000 to help galvanise the fundraising campaign to buy the rare Crosby Garrett Roman Cavalry Helmet, but time is running out.

The recently-discovered Crosby Garrett Roman Calvary Parade Helmet. (C) Christie's Images Ltd, 2010In a show of generosity the businessman has donated the funds on one condition, that the public match his donation pound for pound.

Carlisle's Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery is calling on those interested in Roman heritage to help trigger the benefactor's double-your-money offer with a Give a Quid to the Bid campaign as it races to raise the funds for the auction on 7 October 2010.

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Ancient sanctuary dedicated to Mithras discovered in France

Archaeologists excavating at Angers, France, have discovered the remains of a temple dedicated to the Indo-Iranian god Mithras. The small, rectangular chapel, in which worshippers gathered for banquets and sacrifices dedicated to the god, is dated to the third century AD.

At the sanctuary, a typical bas-relief of the god Mithras wearing his Phrygian cap shows him slaughtering a bull – the so-called tauroctony. The depiction of the god was intentionally damaged in ancient times, possibly by early Christians trying to suppress the pagan cult.

Among the artefacts discovered are oil lamps, fragments of a chandelier containing Nubian terracotta figures, a bronze 4th century crucifix fibula and about 200 coins. Large quantities of cockerel bones (a favoured dish at the cultic banquets) were found inside and around the ancient temple.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Did volcanoes really kill off the Neanderthals?

According to a flurry of news stories this week, a series of massive volcanic eruptions were to blame for the extinction of the Neanderthals.

The paper isn't online yet so we can't judge it, but we don't need to see it to know that this is just one of many possible explanations.

The volcano idea stems from archaeologist Lubov Golovanova of the ANO Laboratory of Prehistory in St. Petersburg, Russia, and will be published in the October issue of Current Anthropology.

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Saxons and Vikings battle it out at Stamford Bridge re-enactment

SAXON and Viking warriors slug it out during a re-enactment of the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Members of the Volsung Vikings recreated the battle which saw the Saxon army clash with the Norwegian invaders in 1066.

Saturday’s event, held at the town’s sports club in Low Catton Road, was organised by the Battle Of Stamford Bridge Society.

It also included a living history exhibition and craft stalls. Andy McKie, group leader of the Volsung Vikings, said: “Our main aim is to make events like this as true to life as possible.

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Consultation on Stonehenge and Avebury- Have your say

A consultation has been launched to find out what people think about a document which will help manage and protect the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Sites.

The consultation gives the public a chance to comment on a document called a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value that summarises exactly what makes Stonehenge and Avebury (just 6 miles from Marlborough) internationally important.
The document will provide a crucial reference for those making decisions on how best to manage the site and look after the very special features which made it eligible to be included in the World Heritage List.

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How global warming is aiding – and frustrating – archaeologists

From hunting gear to shoes, ancient artefacts once covered by ice are being unearthed in Norway. Now scientists face a race against time to preserve them

Archaeologists have gained an unexpected benefit from global warming. They have discovered melting ice sheets and glaciers are exposing ancient artefacts that had been covered with thick layers of ice for millennia.

The discoveries are providing new insights into the behaviour of our ancestors – but they come at a price. So rapid is the rise in global temperatures, and so great is the rate of disintegration of the world's glaciers, that archaeologists risk losing precious relics freed from the icy tombs. Wood rots in a few years once freed from ice while rarer feathers used on arrows, wool or leather, crumble to dust in days unless stored in a freezer. As a result, archaeologists are racing against time to find and save these newly exposed wonders.

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Work unearths previously unknown Roman road in Kent

A previously unknown Roman road and evidence of a medieval manor house have been uncovered during excavations in Kent.

Archaeologists employed by South East Water made the finds ahead of a £321,000 scheme to lay a pipe near Bearsted.

Tim Allen, from Kent Archaeological Projects, described the discoveries as "very exciting".

South East Water said it had the survey carried out as a precaution.

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Mystery man pledges £50,000 to help buy Cumbrian Roman helmet

A mystery benefactor has pledged £50,000 to help buy the rare Roman helmet found in Cumbria.

The businessman, who does not want to be named, has promised the money on condition the public match his cash pound for pound.

Tullie House museum in Carlisle is aiming to raise between £300,000 and £400,000 to keep the helmet – which was found in a field in Crosby Garrett in May – in the county.

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Stonehenge boy 'was from the Med'

Chemical tests on teeth from an ancient burial near Stonehenge indicate that the person in the grave grew up around the Mediterranean Sea.

The bones belong to a teenager who died 3,550 years ago and was buried with a distinctive amber necklace.

The conclusions come from analysis of different forms of the elements oxygen and strontium in his tooth enamel.

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Archaeologists on Crete find skeleton covered with gold foil in 2,700-year-old grave

Greek archaeologists have found an ancient skeleton covered with gold foil in a grave on the island of Crete, officials said Tuesday.

Excavator Nicholas Stampolidis said his team discovered more than 3,000 pieces of gold foil in the 7th-century B.C. twin grave near the ancient town of Eleutherna.

Cemeteries there have produced a wealth of outstanding artifacts in recent years.

The tiny gold ornaments, from 1 to 4 centimetres (0.4 to 1.5 inches) long, had been sewn onto a lavish robe or shroud that initially wrapped the body of a woman and has almost completely rotted away but for a few off-white threads.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Remains of Neolithic village discovered in SW Budapest

The remains of a 7,000-year-old village have been unearthed in southwest Budapest's 22nd district by archaeologists of the Budapest History Museum, the museum reported on its website on Wednesday.

During the excavations, which precede earthworks for a section of the M0 ring around the city, the experts have discovered the foundations of six buildings which originally had clay walls supported by wooden beams.

Next to the houses, the archaeologists have found remains of baking ovens, storage pits and waste holes in the ground, yielding a rich collection of broken clay vessels and stone tools from the Linear Pottery Culture, Gabor Szilas, leader of the excavations told MTI.

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Animal burials at Carshalton

A series of 2,000 year old animal burials have been found at Carshalton, London Borough of Sutton.

The burials, which were placed in pits, were discovered in an excavation being done before Stanley Park High School moves from its current location to a new site on the former Queen Mary’s Hospital at Orchard Hill. The pits belonged to a farm that was lived in before the Roman conquest in AD 43 and which continued to be occupied for a few generations afterwards. At this time people lived in round houses which had conical thatched roofs.

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Canossa and the Lands of Matilda

Location: Italy Length: 14 min

Matilda of Canossa, called the “Great Countess,” was a principal figure of European medieval history, an exceptional case for that time: a woman of international rank and culture. The lands of Matilda are an area in Italy with a strong identity distinguishing itself within the regional panorama for its environmental, landscape, and historical-cultural characteristics. Layers of deep history are attested by many archaeological sites, the standing remains of castles, and by numerous villas and rural dwellings.

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Roman circus uncovered at Outlane

Local archaeologists have discovered Huddersfield’s long-lost circus or sporting arena, built by the Romans in the village of Outlane nearly 2,000 years ago.

And they believe crowds of up to 2,000 would pack into the amphitheatre to watch horsemanship displays by the Roman cavalry.

The soldiers were based at the Slack Roman fort, built to protect the military road from Chester to York.

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Volcanoes Killed Off Neanderthals, Study Suggests

Catastrophic volcanic eruptions in Europe may have culled Neanderthals to the point where they couldn't bounce back, according to a controversial new theory.

Modern humans, though, squeaked by, thanks to fallback populations in Africa and Asia, researchers say.

About 40,000 years ago in what we now call Italy and the Caucasus Mountains, which straddle Europe and Asia, several volcanoes erupted in quick succession, according to a new study to be published in the October issue of the journal Current Anthropology.

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Long-Sought Viking Settlement Found

The Vikings, the famed Scandinavian warriors, started raiding Ireland in 795 and plundered it for decades, before establishing two Irish outposts, according to the Annals of Ulster, a 15th century account of medieval Ireland. One outpost, Dúbh Linn, became Dublin, the other, Linn Duchaill, was lost in time. Perhaps until now. A team of archaeologists announced on Friday that it has found the lost Viking settlement near the village of Annagassan, 70 kilometers north of Dublin. "We are unbelievably delighted," said archaeologist and team leader, Mark Clinton, an independent archaeological consultant.

The Annagassan locals have long believed they lived near an ancient Viking town or fort. The stories of Viking raids were told to local children by schoolteachers, and there were also occasional finds that underscored this story. For example, a few years ago, a set of handcuffs once used to shackle Viking slaves was found by a farmer ploughing land. The modern search for Linn Duchaill began 5 years ago when a local filmmaker named Ruth Cassidy, a member of the Annagassan and District Historical Society, enlisted the help of Clinton, a family friend, to find the lost Viking town. They searched through 2005, 2006, and 2007 and were on the point of despair when they came across a flat area—ideal for lifting boats out of the water for shipbuilding and repairs—a couple of kilometers up the River Glyde. They managed to secure funding to pay for a geophysicist, John Nicholls, to survey the site. Nicholls found a series of defensive ditches about 4 meters deep, running in lines. The pattern of ditches does not seem compatible with the typical Irish structure of the period, a ring fort, and no evidence of a Norman settlement, such as moat or castle remains, was found. That left just one other option: Vikings.

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Cambridge dig looking for Anglo-Saxon skeletons finds Roman settlement

A dig in search of Anglo-Saxon skeletons has instead unearthed signs of a sprawling Roman settlement. The discovery was made last week, on the grounds of Cambridge's Newnham College.

Evidence of a 16th or 17th century farmhouse that could date back to the reign of Henry VIII was unearthed at the site as well.

"We knew there was a Roman settlement here before but we had no idea of the size," said Dr Catherine Hills.

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Newly restored Staffordshire Hoard items on display

A year on from the public unveiling of the Staffordshire Hoard, some newly restored items have gone on display.

A pectoral cross is just one of 21 new exhibits on show at the Potteries Museum in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.

The £3.3m hoard was discovered in a field in south Staffordshire and has been heralded as one of the greatest archaeological finds ever.

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Marauding Vikings' ale packs a real punch

A team of archaeologists has recreated the heather ale drunk by marauding Vikings to boost their ferocity in battle.

Galway archaeologists Billy Quinn and Nigel Malcolm and businessman Declan Moore have been involved in their "great experiment" for the past three years, sampling Bronze Age brews and unearthing Ireland's ancient recipes and beer-making traditions.

The intrepid trio have just brewed their first heather ale using a recipe believed to date back to the 8th century AD.

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Neanderthals More Intelligent Than Thought

For the last fifty years, any discovery of modern tools associated with a Neanderthal community was thought to be a byproduct of Neanderthal-human interactions. The scientific thinking was that there was no way these other hominids could have developed such technology on their own.

Or could they? Now a new study suggests that at least one group of Neanderthals learned how to adapt and make different, better tools independently.

Anthropologist Julien Riel-Salvatore of the University of Colorado, Denver has studied Italian Neanderthal communities for the last seven years. His work sheds new light on the way we look at Neanderthals and their history.

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Internationales Symposium der Byzantinischen Archäologie Mainz

Unter dem Titel „Der Doppeladler – Byzanz und die Seldschuken in Anatolien vom späten 11. bis 13. Jahrhundert“ veranstaltet die Byzantinischen Archäologie Mainz (BAM) vom 1. bis 3. Oktober 2010 im Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseum ein internationales Symposium, das die soziokulturellen und künstlerischen Beziehungen des Byzantinischen Imperiums mit dem Reich der Seldschuken thematisiert.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Online Courses in Archaeology with the University of Oxford

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

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

View the courses available this term...

Caveman diet could hold key to optimum nutrition

Unilever has for the first time gathered unlikely scientific bedfellows from the fields of archaeology, anthropology, evolutionary genetics, food science and botany to recreate the diet of a caveman.

The research seeks to improve understanding of the complex relationship between our genetic make-up and the changes to our diet since the pre-farming Stone Age period, and could unlock the potential to enhance our own health in the 21st century.

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In pictures: Bronze Age dig uncovers murdered man

The Bronze age in the Isle of Man ran from around 2000 BC to 600 BC. Houses, burial sites and artefacts from this era have been found all over the Island.

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Coffin shows Silk Road cultural exchange

Chinese archeologists say a royal stone coffin at the Shaanxi History Museum is new evidence of cultural exchange on the ancient Silk Road.

The 1,200-year-old coffin, which was stolen from Empress Wu Huifei's tomb in the southern suburbs of Xi'an, was smuggled out of China and returned to the country in April 2006.

The 27-ton Tang Dynasty sarcophagus bears reliefs of four European-looking warriors, lion-like beasts, deer, tigers and goats.

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Ancient weapons and Anglo-Saxon gold among subjects for Treasure House lectures

A series of autumn lectures are being at the Treasure House, Beverley.

Dr David Marchant, museum's registrar, will begin the series on October 12 with a talk on the South Cave weapons cache - seven years on and what have we learned?

This will be followed by Janet Tierney's Past times, past apparel – a look at costumes in the East Riding museum service collections on Tuesday, October 19. Janet is curator of Goole Museum and Skidby Windmill and Museum of East Riding Rural Life.

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After dark tours at Rome's ancient baths

New night tours of Rome's spectacular Baths of Caracalla offer a rare chance to see the ancient ruins at their best, without the heat and the crowds

Few visitors to Rome get to see the Baths of Caracalla, the ruins of the third-century leisure complex that could hold up to 1,500 bathers. Even fewer visitors get to see them at night.

Which is a shame, because there may be no better time to see Rome's ruins, the baths included, than when the crowds have gone, the air is cool, and the silence that comes with abandonment – a silence that has accompanied the structures for most of their existence – returns.

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Big noses, curly hair on empress's coffin suggests deep cultural exchange on Silk Road

Chinese archeologists have found new evidence of international cultural exchange on the ancient Silk Road.

Four European-looking warriors and lion-like beasts are engraved on an empress's 1,200-year-old stone coffin that was unearthed in Shaanxi Province, in northwestern China.

The warriors on the four reliefs had deep-set eyes, curly hair and over-sized noses -- physical characteristics Chinese typically associate with Europeans.

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Bulgarian Archaeologists Unearth Ancient Roman Highway, Fortress

A team of archaeologists from the Bulgarian National History Museum has uncovered a highway dating back to the zenith of the Roman Empire.

The archaeologists led by Dr. Ivan Hristov have been excavating the fortress of Sostra, an Ancient Roman horse-changing station along the highway in question, since the beginning of September.

It is located near the village of Lomets, close to the town of Troyan in the Stara Planina mountain.

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8,000-year-old seal unearthed in western Turkey

Archaeologists have unearthed a seal believed to be 8,000 years old during excavations in the Yeşilova Tumulus, one of the oldest settlements in western Turkey.

Associate Professor Zafer Derin, who has been leading the excavations from Ege University’s Department of Archaeology, said they found a historical artifact that proved that settlement in the western province of Izmir began some 8,500 years ago.

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Ancient Arabian treasure trove unearthed in Germany

Archaeologists in northern Germany have unearthed a treasure of Arabian silver dirhams dating back to the first half of the seventh century in a spectacular find that proves brisk trade between the Middle East and northern Europe already existed more than 1,200 years ago.

A total of 82 coins were found in a field near the town of Anklam, a few kilometres from the Baltic Sea coast, in excavations completed on September 2. They come from regions that are now Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and northern Africa. The oldest coins, about an inch in diameter, were minted around 610 AD and bear the portrait of Khosrau II, the 22nd Sassanid King of Persia who ruled from 590 to 628 AD.

Other coins in the trove were minted around 820 AD and have inscriptions in Arabic. “They are little works of art with delicately engraved writing on them,” Fred Ruchhöft, an archaeologist and historian at the nearby University of Greifswald who has analysed the find, said in an interview. “It’s good silver. It just needs a clean and then it’s like new.”

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Romanians seek halt to Canadian gold mine project

Opponents of a Canadian gold mine project in a Romanian village on Saturday called on the Romanian culture ministry to save a threatened ancient site in the area.

"The universal value of the Rosia Montana site and especially of the Roman mining tunnels of the Carnic mountains has been acknowledged by numerous specialists around the world," local NGO Alburnus Maior said.

"Issuing an archaeological discharge certificate would lead to the destruction of the site and would seriously alter this cultural heritage," the NGO added.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Shattered Marble Map Mystifies Puzzlers

Think that 800-piece clown puzzle in your basement might be missing a few pieces? You’ve got nothing on this ancient mystery, as Jane Doh describes.

An unintentional jigsaw puzzle made of marble, over two millennia old, and missing most of its pieces has defied scholars and puzzle-solvers for centuries. Measuring 60 x 43 feet and carved in the 3rd century CE, the Severan Marble Plan of Rome captured the groundplan of Roman architecture in minute detail, even down to staircases, but only 10 to 15 percent of the intricately carved map has been found. Excavations for Rome’s new subway line this year may soon unearth further pieces to the puzzle, according to an article from Discovery News.

Roughly on a scale of 1:240, the Severan Marble Plan consisted of 150 slabs mounted on what was once the interior wall of the Temple of Peace (now the exterior wall of the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian). During the Middle Ages, the Plan was slowly destroyed, parts of it ground up and repurposed into building materials, pieces broken and re-broken over centuries. Some pieces just fell to the base of the wall and were buried by time. The holes where the slabs were once anchored to the wall are still visible.

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Viking Fortress Discovered in Ireland

A Viking fortress of major importance has been discovered at Annagassan, County Louth in Ireland. The extensive site, which was uncovered following targeted research excavation, is believed to be the infamous Viking base of Linn Duchaill. A defensive rampart, consisting of a deep ditch and a bank, was excavated and while radio carbon dates are awaited to confirm the date the rampart has all the appearances of the main fortification of the Viking Fortress.

Linn Duchaill was founded by Vikings in 841 AD – according to medieval Irish annals, the Norsemen used this place to raid throughout Ireland, trade good and export Irish slaves. A battle was recorded as having taken place her in 851, and in 927 the Vikings abandoned Linn Duchaill in order to move to Britain.

The archaeological work was only started three weeks ago on a stretch of farm land between the coast and the river Glyde. Finds of Viking ship rivets and cut-up Viking silver and looted Irish metalwork also appears to be amongst the excavated material.

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Last Bishop’s Palace dig uncovers rare bottle seal

A relic dug up during the final archaeological excavation of the lost Bishop’s Palace near Kemnay has been identified as a rare seal from a 17th-century bottle.

The item from this summer’s dig at Fetternear is a piece of Piermont Water glassware dating from around 1690.

The seal is a memento from the heyday of Fetternear House rather than from the ancient palace site uncovered nearby.

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Caerleon dig sheds light on time when Romans left

ONE of the most significant archaeological digs ever to take place in Caerleon is expected to shed new light on what happened in the area during and immediately after the Roman occupation.

A team of 50 archaeologists from Cardiff University and University College London yesterday finished a six-week dig at the CADW-owned Priory Field.

During that time, they uncovered a set of Roman body armour - one of only four such discoveries ever in Britain.

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Carlisle museum raises £20,000 in four days to buy Crosby Garrett Roman helmet

Attempts to raise enough money to keep a unique Roman artefact in Cumbria have already drawn in more than £20,000.

Tullie House has launched an appeal to raise £80,000 to keep a beautifully preserved Roman cavalry parade helmet found by a metal detectorist in a field near Crosby Garrett in its new Roman gallery.

And by yesterday, just four days into the appeal, the campaign had already raised about £24,000 in its opening four days.

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Roman week in St Albans

SCHOOLCHILDREN from across the district will be exploring everyday life in Roman times at St Albans Abbey next week.

The cathedral has arranged a Roman festival, with a packed four-day programme of events which have been rapidly booked up by local schools.

The events include drama and hands on activities such as cooking Roman dishes and handling genuine 2,000 - year-old archaeological finds.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

I am a Viking! DNA test reveals shock result for Leicestershire villager

Little did village heritage warden Wayne Coleman realise what a simple DNA test would reveal about his family.

He had just wanted to help build up a picture of the history of his home village of Kibworth Beauchamp.

For hundreds of years the Coleman family has been part of the rural life of the community.

Mr Coleman, who has done much to protect the fabric of the village, readily took the swab of the inside of his mouth and sent off the sample.

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Greek archaeologists uncover ancient tombs

Greek archaeologists on Thursday announced the discovery of 37 ancient tombs dating back to the iron age in a cemetery near the ancient Macedonian capital of Pellas.

Discoveries at the site included a bronze helmet with a gold mouthplate, with weapons and jewellery, in the tomb of a warrior from the 6th century BC.

A total of 37 new tombs were discovered during excavation work this year, adding to more than 1,000 tombs since work began in 2000, researchers said.

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Appeal to save rare Roman helmet unearthed in Cumbria

An appeal to keep a rare Roman bronze helmet in Cumbria has so far raised about £20,000, museum officials said.

The helmet, complete with face mask, was found by a metal detector enthusiast in Crosby Garrett, near Kirkby Stephen, in May.

It is expected to fetch more than £300,000 when it comes up for auction at Christie's in London next month.

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Roman Helmet Appeal

A Roman helmet of national significance, found in Crosby Garrett, North Cumbria, will be auctioned on 7th October.

Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle, Cumbria, has launched an urgent public and corporate appeal to help to secure this exceptionally rare Roman Cavalry Parade Helmet, dating from the end of the 1st to mid 3rd century AD, as a centrepiece for its new £1.5m Roman Frontier: stories beyond Hadrian’s Wall gallery, due to open summer 2011.

The helmet was found by a metal detector user earlier this year and was reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a voluntary scheme that records archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales.

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Investigating Ragnar Shaggy-Breeches

Dr Elizabeth Ashman Rowe, Lecturer in Scandinavian History in ASNC, writes about her current research on Ragnar Loðbrók:

One of my current research projects has to do with a legendary Viking named Ragnar Loðbrók. His nickname means ‘Shaggy Breeches’, and my husband likes to refer to him as ‘Ragnar Shaggy-Pants’. According to Ragnar’s saga (here illustrated by Niels Skovgaard), Ragnar got his nickname from the time that he killed a serpent, protected from the monster’s venom by a suit of fur clothing dipped in tar. As you might expect, by killing the serpent he won the hand of the lovely Thora. The story of Ragnar was very popular in Iceland in the Middle Ages, and Ragnar was believed to have been a real person, and even the ancestor of certain Icelanders. My project is to survey these references to Ragnar and to investigate what he meant to different authors.

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New finds suggest Romans won big North Germany battle

New finds at a well-preserved ancient battlefield in the north of Germany are not only rewriting geo-political history, but also revealing some of the secrets of Rome's military success.

Until only two years ago, northern Germany was believed to have been a no-go area for Roman troops after three legions were wiped out by German tribesmen in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9.

The revelation that two centuries later a Roman force mounted a punitive raid deep inside the tribal areas in AD 235 has changed all that, suggesting that a soldier-emperor, Maximinus Thrax, seriously attempted to subjugate the north of Germany.

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Iron Age village found at UK school building site

Ancient human infant and animal remains believed to be more than 2,000 years old have been unearthed during the construction of a school in London. Archaeologists say the discovery, one of the most important in the British capital in recent years, points to evidence of an Iron Age and early Roman farming settlement.

Experts say the find is important because similar sites from the period in the area have been destroyed by later development.

Excavations have revealed child and animal burials -- some dating from Roman rule -- dotted across the south London site as well as an assortment of weaponry, including a spear and a shield.

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UK archaeologists discover Roman armor

Cardiff University archaeologists excavating at the Roman Fortress in Caerleon, South Wales have discovered what they believe is a complete suit of Roman armour.

The team, which includes staff and students from Cardiff and University College London (UCL) made the discovery in their penultimate week of excavations at the site.

Speaking about the find, Dr. Peter Guest, from the University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion who is leading the dig said it was “extremely rare” and “really special.”

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Bronze Age burials at Inverness Asda site

A Bronze Age burial site has been uncovered at the planned location of the Highlands' first Asda supermarket.

Archaeologists found an area of cremation pits surrounded by a ring ditch at Slackbuie, in Inverness.

Almost 2,000 flints were also recovered from the field on the city's distributor road.

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Northumberland Roman fort's child murder mystery

Archaeologists believe they have uncovered an 1,800-year-old murder mystery in Northumberland.

During a dig at Vindolanda Roman fort, the skeleton of a child, aged between eight and 10, was found in a shallow pit in the corner of a barrack-room.

Foul play is suspected, because human burials in built-up areas were strictly forbidden in Roman times.

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Researchers unearth 8,500-year-old bodies near Bursa

Ancient bodies believed to be 8,500 years old have been unearthed at a burial mound in the Akçalar area of the Marmara province of Bursa.

The five bodies, reportedly belonging to two adults and three children aged between 3 and 5, were found at the Aktopraklık mound.

“Their arms were tied behind their backs, indicating that they may have been killed or sacrificed,” said Associate Professor Necmi Karul, head of the prehistory department at Istanbul University’s literature faculty and leader of the excavation.

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Violent death of Bronze Age man examined by Manx Museum

Investigations into the mysterious death of a Bronze Age man are helping to paint a picture of life on the Isle of Man over 3,000 years ago.

During excavations at Ronaldsway in 2008, three burial sites and the remains of a village were unearthed.

Archaeologists found that one skeleton bore the marks of a violent death.

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Kent's Big Road Dig Interview 2010

Britain's largest archaeological excavation has taken place in East Kent, where building work for a new access road unearthed 10,000 finds, including a pair of beautiful Bronze-Age gold bracelets.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Melting glaciers expose artifacts

Climate change in northern Europe is exposing hunting gear used by the Vikings' ancestors faster than archaeologists can collect it. Stuart McDill reports.

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Dig uncovers the oldest standing walls in Cheshire

A DIG to reveal and explore an Iron Age hillfort beneath the surface of Eddisbury Hill is in its final week.

The true extent of the fort in Delamere has been unveiled after weeks of work by a team of archaelogists and volunteers.

They were set to dig at the site for four weeks but extended their work for another three weeks so that they could uncover more of the fort’s entrance beneath a potato field.

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Hadrian's Wall child murder: estimated time of death pre-367AD

The murderous reputation of one of Britain's best-known Roman towns has been raised by the discovery of a child's hastily buried skeleton under a barrack room floor.

Archaeologists at Vindolanda fort near Hadrian's Wall are preparing for a repeat of a celebrated coroner's inquest in the 1930s that concluded two other corpses unearthed near the site were "victims of murder by persons unknown shortly before 367AD".

The latest discovery at the frontier settlement in Northumberland is thought to be the remains of a girl aged between eight and 10 who may have been tied up before she died.

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Archaeologists surprised by medieval skeletons found at Chickerell site

Medieval skeletons have been uncovered during the first stage of £200,000 building work to revamp a church in Chickerell.

Archaeologists were called in when the remains of two children, thought to be from as early as the 13th century, were found close to the main building of St Mary the Virgin Parish Church.

Builders had expected to uncover remains during their work to create a two-storey extension on the former vestry site but not so close to ground level.

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Scientists give a face to ancient Greek girl

Greek scientists and archaeologists have given an ancient Athenian girl from the 5th century BC a face by using her skeleton, found in an ancient grave. 'Myrtis' has been brought back to life through facial reconstruction from her intact skull and teeth.

The 11-year-old Athenian girl died of typhoid fever in 430 BC during a plague, and her bones were found in a mass grave near the ancient Athenian cemetery of Keramikos when the Athens subway was being dug up in 1995. The mass grave was full of 150 men, women and children.

Professor and orthodontist from the University of Athens Manolis Papagrigorakis, with a team of one Swedish and 19 Greek scientists, said Myrtis was chosen because of the good condition of her skull and teeth that gave them a lot to work with.

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Eisenzeit-Siedlung auf Sizilien entdeckt

Göttinger Archäologen haben bei großflächigen Geländebegehungen im Umfeld der antiken Stadt Akragas eine bisher unbekannte Höhensiedlung aus der Eisenzeit, Gräber und Heiligtümer entdeckt.

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Bucharest hosts International Aerial Archaeology Conference

More than 100 scientists from 24 countries will attend the AARG 2010 International Aerial Archeology Conference that takes place for the first time in Bucharest, between September 15-18, the organizers of the event – the International Association of the Aerial Archeology Research Group (AARG) and the CIMEC Cultural Memory Institute in Bucharest, informed in a release.

The AARG 2010 brings together for the first time the results of several aerial research projects conducted in various regions of Romania, highlighting their contribution to archaeological knowledge and the study of cultural landscapes, as aerial archaeology is widely used in many countries as an efficient non-destructive method to index, study, monitor and protect the cultural heritage, especially the archaeological one.

The first day of the conference will be dedicated to the usage of aerial photography for archaeological purposes, aerial archeology projects carried out in various regions and the interpretation of aerial images; in the second day of the conference, scientific papers will be presented on the use of satellite, aerial photographs and scanning for the investigation of landscape evolution.

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Some light on old bones

One of Scotland's top archaeologist is to reveal the secret of medieval skeletons discovered at Stirling Castle.

Gordon Ewart, who runs Kirkdale Archaeology in Edinburgh, discovered the skeletons while excavating a lost royal chapel at the castle.

They were then examined by forensic anthropologist Professor Sue Black, and featured in the recent BBC2 History Cold Case documentary.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Taking molecular snaps of ancient crops

RNA molecules could help to reveal plant breeding in action hundreds of years ago.

Archaeologists interested in the genetics of ancient organisms have a new molecular tool at hand — RNA. Two teams of scientists have decoded RNA from ancient crops in the hope of understanding the subtle evolutionary changes that accompanied the process of plant domestication.

Unlike DNA, which remains largely unchanged throughout the life of an organism, RNA molecules offer a snapshot of the activity of a cell, indicating which genes are turned on and off, and to what extent.

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Skellig Michael's first sea steps found

A NEWLY discovered set of steps, carved out of stone on the north-east monastery area of the island, is likely to be the earliest sea entrance to the sixth-century monastic island of Skellig Michael, a Unesco world heritage site, the Office of Public Work has said.

The new sea access steps on the northeastern edge of the island were stumbled upon by the Skellig’s resident rope man and safety expert, New Zealander Colin McGorlick just weeks ago, as a team of architects, archaeologists and masons was completing the restoration and excavation of the hermitage on the steep southern peak on the opposite side of the island.

Senior OPW architect Grellan O’Rourke, who has overseen work on the Skellig for over 30 years, said: “This is really exciting because I think they are of great antiquity. They have been abandoned a very long time.”

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Viking silver found on Isle of Man declared as treasure

A rare Viking silver ingot found in the North of the Island has been declared as treasure trove by the Coroner at Douglas Courthouse.

The ingot was found in a field in Andreas by John Crowe in October 2009.

Manx National Heritage believe the ingot, which contains 87% silver and weighs 20 grams, could date back a thousand years.

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Roman cavalry helmet found with metal detector may go abroad at auction

A stunning Roman cavalry helmet, made to awe the spectators in a procession of wealth and power rather than for practical use in combat, has been found by a metal detector user near the village of Crosby Garrett in Cumbria.

However, the artefact is not certain to end up in a local museum as single items of bronze are not covered by the Treasure Act.

Instead the helmet, the best found in Britain in more than a century, is likely to make its finder rich at auction, with a guide price at Christie's of £300,000.

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Rare Roman suit of armour found at Caerleon dig

Archaeologists digging at a site in south Wales have uncovered an entire suit of Roman armour and some weapons.

The rare discovery was made during an excavation at the fortress of Caerleon in south Wales, one of Britain's best known Roman sites.

Dig leader Dr Peter Guest of Cardiff University said the suit was only the third or fourth to be found in the UK, and the first in Wales.

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FEATURE-Home of "Ice Giants" thaws, shows pre-Viking hunts

Climate change is exposing reindeer hunting gear used by the Vikings' ancestors faster than archaeologists can collect it from ice thawing in northern Europe's highest mountains.

"It's like a time machine...the ice has not been this small for many, many centuries," said Lars Piloe, a Danish scientist heading a team of "snow patch archaeologists" on newly bare ground 1,850 metres (6,070 ft) above sea level in mid-Norway.

Specialised hunting sticks, bows and arrows and even a 3,400-year-old leather shoe have been among finds since 2006 from a melt in the Jotunheimen mountains, the home of the "Ice Giants" of Norse mythology.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

'Birth certificate of Scotland' unearthed by archaeologists

IT IS one of the most evocative sites in Scotland's turbulent history - the place where Robert the Bruce was crowned King of Scots before his victory over the English at Bannockburn.

The ancient mound known as the Moot Hill in the ground of Scone Palace was once the site of the "lost" abbey of Scone, founded in 1114 by Alexander I, where Scottish kings are believed to have assumed the mantle of power on the Stone of Destiny.

It was revealed yesterday that archaeologists studying the historic site have been able to use radiocarbon dating to push back the origins of the ancient seat of ecclesiastical and royal power to at least 1,000 years ago, in a remarkable breakthrough that has been hailed as uncovering the "birth certificate of Scotland".

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Ancient DNA reveals ingredients of Roman medicine

Ancient Roman pharmacies must have looked a lot like vegetable gardens. DNA analysis of 2000-year-old medicinal tablets suggests the pills included onions, carrots and other garden vegetables.

Medical texts written by Pliny the elder and others detail herbal remedies the Romans and Greeks used, but not a lot is known about the contents of individual tablets, says Robert Fleischer, a geneticist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C. He presented early results from the analysis at the International Symposium of Biomolecular Archaeology in Copenhagen, Denmark yesterday.

His team obtained the tablets from a shipwreck off the coast of Tuscany that probably occurred between 140 and 120 BCE, based on items recovered from the ship, which was excavated in the 1980s and 90s. Among them was a wooden medical chest stocked with well-preserved tablets filled with what looked like ground plants and vegetables.

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AP Interview: Acropolis' Nike temple rises again

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — After a decade–long facelift, the ancient Greek temple of Athena Nike is back up, patched up and unfettered on the Acropolis.

The slender marble building first erected in the 5th century B.C. was unburdened of its scaffolding in recent days — 10 years after being completely dismantled for repairs.

Unlike other ancient monuments battered by war or natural disaster, the four–columned temple near the entrance of the world–renowned Athens citadel fell prey to the best of intentions: Previous restorations simply hadn't stood the tests of time.

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Friday, September 03, 2010

Bronze Age Gold Treasure found in East Kent

Two Bronze Age gold bracelets almost 3,000 years old have been discovered during excavations along the route of the East Kent Access Road. When they were found one bracelet was placed inside the other.

Find out more on the Archaeology of the East Kent Access Road website.

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West Cumbrian trust steps in to save Roman Maryport

THE Senhouse Roman Museum Trust is considering a £300,000 investment to save Roman Maryport.

The announcement comes after news that the £11 million Roman visitor centre, due to be completed next year, will now be put back until at least 2014.

Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd is still confident that it will obtain the funding despite being told by the Northwest Development Agency that there was no money in the kitty.

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First Roman watermill discovered in West Cumbria

THE first Roman watermill to be discovered in Cumbria has been unearthed in an archaeological dig on the edge of Cockermouth.

The discovery, behind the Lakes Homecentre, signals that the River Derwent, on the banks of which it stood, was an important part of Romano-British life in Cockermouth.

The watermill, thought to date back to the first or second century, is the last and most exciting find of the project led by Grampus Heritage and Training, which finishes today.

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Saxon boat found by workmen

A Saxon boat has been uncovered during flood defence work on the River Ant.

Broadland Environmental Services Ltd (BESL), working on behalf of the Environment Agency, made the significant archaeological discovery.

The boat, approximately three metres long, had been hollowed out by hand from a solid piece of Oak and is believed to date from Saxon times. Five animal skulls were also found close to the boat, which was discovered at a depth of more than two metres.

It is the first opportunity in Norfolk for a vessel of this type and date to be excavated and recorded using modern archaeological methods.

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Oak tracks at 10th century road site leave archaeologists puzzled

ARCHAEOLOGISTS ARE puzzled as to the exact purpose of an ancient oak road unearthed on a Bord na Móna bog in Co Tipperary.

Operations manager and site director with Archaeological Development Services (ADS) Jane Whitaker believes the track, which runs parallel to a modern road, may have formed part of an ancient road network.

The road, discovered by ADS during a walking survey, is constructed from oak planks laid across oak beams and gravel. Mortise holes have been bored into the planks to facilitate wooden pegs. All of the materials were brought to the site from other locations.

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Scalpels and skulls point to Bronze Age brain surgery

Önder Bilgi talks about his discovery of a razor-sharp 4000-year-old scalpel and what it was originally used for

Where are you digging?

At an early Bronze Age settlement called Ikiztepe, in the Black Sea province of Samsun in Turkey. The village was home to about 300 people at its peak, around 3200 to 2100 BC. They lived in rectangular, single-storey houses made of logs, which each had a courtyard and oven in the front.

You have found what appear to be scalpels.

That's right. We have just found two cutting blades made of obsidian, a volcanic glass that forms a sharp edge when it fractures. The obsidian must have been imported from another region as there is no natural source of it in the area. We found the blades next to a circular clay platform that may have been used for religious ceremonies. The blades are double-sided, about 4 centimetres long, and very, very sharp. They would still cut you today.

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Human Meat Just Another Meal for Early Europeans?

For some European cavemen, human meat wasn't a ritual delicacy or a food of last resort but an everyday meal, according to a new study of fossil bones found in Spain.

And, it seems, everyone in the area was doing it, making the discovery "the oldest example of cultural cannibalism known to date," the study says.

The 800,000-year-old butchered bones from the cave, called Gran Dolina, indicate cannibalism was rife among members of western Europe's first known human species, Homo antecessor.

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Rare Roman lantern found in farmer's field

An intact Roman lantern made of bronze, believed by experts to be the only one of its kind in Britain, has been unearthed in a field by a metal-detecting enthusiast.

The unique artefact which dates from between the 1st and 3rd century AD was discovered by 21-year-old Danny Mills at a detecting rally near Sudbury, Suffolk.

Mills reported the find to local archaeologists and the landowner later donated it to the regional museum.

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Archaeologists solve riddle of bones in Eynsham garden

ONCE surrounded by his aged peers, he is the one they left behind.

Archaeologists yesterday confirmed that the human skeleton discovered in the garden of a house in Wytham View, Eynsham, was that of a man buried 1,500 years ago.

The site was known to be an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and archaeologists had excavated all the other bodies about 40 years ago – but missed him.

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