Sunday, October 31, 2010

How 5000-yr-old Neolithic men painted their homes

London, Oct 30 : A new research has revealed that our ancestors from 5,000 years ago painted their homes to brighten up their places too.

They used red, yellow and orange pigments from ground-up minerals and bound it with animal fat and eggs to make their paint, the new study from a Stone Age settlement on the island of Orkney revealed.

Several stones used to form the buildings painted and decorated by the locals in about 3,000 BC, most probably to to enhance important buildings and may have been found in entranceways or areas of the building, which had particular significance.

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New study finds headless skeletons in ancient cemetery were Romans

Eighty headless skeletons unearthed between 2004 and 2005 from an ancient English cemetery in the city of York or the then Roman capital Eboracum holds proof that they all lost their heads far away from home.

Archeologists say the burial ground was used by the Romans throughout the second and third centuries A.D. Almost all the bodies were of males with more than half of them had been decapitated, and many were buried with their detached heads.

Eboracum was the Roman Empire's northernmost provincial capital during that period.

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Scientists issue call to action for archaeological sites threatened by rising seas

global warming cause sea levels to rise as predicted in coming decades, thousands of archaeological sites in coastal areas around the world will be lost to erosion. With no hope of saving all of these sites, archaeologists Torben Rick from the Smithsonian Institution, Leslie Reeder of Southern Methodist University, and Jon Erlandson of the University of Oregon have issued a call to action for scientists to assess the sites most at risk.

Writing in the Journal of Coastal Conservation and using California's Santa Barbara Channel as a case study, the researchers illustrate how quantifiable factors such as historical rates of shoreline change, wave action, coastal slope and shoreline geomorphology can be used to develop a scientifically sound way of measuring the vulnerability of individual archaeological sites. They then propose developing an index of the sites most at risk so informed decisions can be made about how to preserve or salvage them.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Armenian archeologists: 5,900-year-old skirt found

An Armenian archaeologist says that scientists have discovered a skirt that could be 5,900-year-old.

Pavel Avetisian, the head of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography in Yerevan, said a fragment of skirt made of reed was found during recent digging in the Areni-1 cave in southeastern Armenia. Avetisian told Tuesday's news conference in the Armenian capital that the find could be one of the world's oldest piece of reed clothing.

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Roman villa set to close to the public

A HISTORIC tourist attraction looks set to close to the public after council chiefs announced cuts and job losses within the museum service.

The nationally important Rockbourne Roman Villa and Museum near Fordingbridge has now closed for the winter after being open daily throughout the summer and attracting |thousands of visitors.

But the villa – the largest known villa in the area with its |history spanning from the Iron Age to the 5th century AD – will most likely not re-open as usual in the spring.

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Headless Romans in England Came From "Exotic" Locales?

An ancient English cemetery filled with headless skeletons holds proof that the victims lost their heads a long way from home, archaeologists say.

Unearthed between 2004 and 2005 in the northern city of York (map), the 80 skeletons were found in burial grounds used by the Romans throughout the second and third centuries A.D. Almost all the bodies are males, and more than half of them had been decapitated, although many were buried with their detached heads.

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Reiche Bestattungen aus der Jungsteinzeit und der Bronzezeit

Auf einer Länge von ca. 150 km wird die neue Bundesstraße B6n den niedersächsischen Harz mit der Bundesautobahn A9 im Osten von Sachsen-Anhalt verbinden. Seit dem Jahr 2000 finden im Vorfeld des Großprojektes umfangreiche archäologische Grabungen auf einigen hundert Hektar Fläche statt.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just ask Mummy: Cancer the least of their worries

Just imagine: a world without cancer. It's a tantalizing thought, recently floated by researchers at Manchester University in the UK.

That world may well have existed, but in the distant past, according to their survey of hundreds of mummies from Egypt and South America. The researchers found that only one mummy had clearly identifiable signs of cancer.

The study suggested that industrialization, pollution and the ills of modern life are to blame for the epidemic of cancer now seen sweeping around the globe.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Heat brought instant death in Pompeii: Scientists

The people of Pompeii who died when Vesuvius erupted nearly 2,000 years ago were killed by intense heat rather than suffocation, according to a new study.

Thousands of the Roman city's inhabitants were caught in a firestorm in which they were exposed to temperatures of up to 600 C, a team of Italian scientists believe.

The temperatures would have killed fleeing people in just 10 seconds, according to the volcanologists and anthropologists from Naples, the city overshadowed by the volcano.

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Turkey's underwater cultural heritage in danger, says expert

Turkey’s underwater cultural heritage faces a number of threats, especially from sport divers, an archaeology expert says during a meeting in Istanbul. ‘When sport divers go down 30 meters and find an artifact, they consider that a huge success and want to keep it,’ says an academic, adding that laws must be more strictly enforced

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Archaeology: 8000-year-old skeleton found in Bulgaria

Bulgarian archaeologists, led by lecturer Boris Borissov from the university of Veliko Turnovo, unearthed a skeleton estimated at 8000 years old, Bulgarian media reported on October 25 2010.

The remains were found while land was being cleared for the construction of the Maritsa motorway, en route to Turkey, near the village of Kroum, municipality of Dimitrovgrad. Experts say that the skeleton, was from the Neolithic age, dates back to 6000 BCE, and belonged to a young boy, aged 10-15.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stonehenge bosses 'regret' photography ban (update)

English Heritage has issued a statement to photographers after it sent an email that banned commercial use of images of historic tourist attraction Stonehenge.

The storm centred on a message sent to picture agency fotoLibra which read: 'We are sending you an email regarding images of Stonehenge on your fotoLibra website.

'Please be aware that any images of Stonehenge cannot be used for any commercial interest, all commercial interest to sell images must be directed to English Heritage.'

But the email prompted a flood of angry responses on fotoLibra's website.

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Archeology digs at Roman sites

A new project has been launched this week to explore East Oxford’s Roman and medieval archaeological sites.

Led by the University’s Department for Continuing Education, the project has been made possible by a £330,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Academics on the project will spend the next three years working with Oxford residents on digs, excavations, and surveys at sites believed to include Roman settlements, a medieval leper hospital and Civil War siege works.

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York Archaeological Trust find Roman vase at Hungate dig in York

A RARE glimpse into the world of Roman funeral rituals is on offer to visitors to DIG in York.

Archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust, who are excavating the Hungate site, have unearthed a small Roman cemetery which has so far revealed 20 burials and six cremations. In two graves, which contained the remains of Roman citizens, was an assembly of rich grave goods.

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Restoring 'lost city' of medieval Spain

It has been 100 years since excavations started on the Madinat Al Zahra, the magnificent 10th century palace city near Cordoba in southern Spain.

Although only 11% of the city - built by the powerful caliph Abd Al Rahman III - has been uncovered, it is unlikely that it will take another century to unearth the remainder of the site given the rapid advances in excavation technology.

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Archaelogists may have discovered 12th century royal court in Aber

ARCHAEOLOGISTS in Abergwyngregyn may have discovered one of the most iconic royal buildings of the 12th century.

Up to 20 archaeologists are digging into the history of the area which has links to the medieval Prince Llewellyn.

The dig has already unearthed a building which archaeologists say could be a royal court.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hunting for the Dawn of Writing, When Prehistory Became History

One of the stars of the Oriental Institute’s new show, “Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond,” is a clay tablet that dates from around 3200 B.C. On it, written in cuneiform, the script language of ancient Sumer in Mesopotamia, is a list of professions, described in small, repetitive impressed characters that look more like wedge-shape footprints than what we recognize as writing.

In fact “it is among the earliest examples of writings that we know of so far,” according to the institute’s director, Gil J. Stein, and it provides insights into the life of one of the world’s oldest cultures.

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Archaeologists find early Neolithic evidence

Cornell archaeologists are helping to rewrite the early prehistory of human civilization on Cyprus, with evidence that hunter-gatherers began to form agricultural settlements on the island half a millennium earlier than previously believed.

Beginning with pedestrian surveys of promising sites in 2005, students have assisted with fieldwork on Cyprus led by professor of classics Sturt Manning, director of Cornell's archaeology program. The project, Elaborating the Early Neolithic on Cyprus (EENC), has involved undergraduate and graduate students from Cornell, the University of Toronto and the University of Cyprus.

Their findings were published recently in the leading archaeological journal Antiquity, after being reported to Cyprus' Department of Antiquities and presented at an annual archaeological conference there.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Five things archaeologists can learn from Dragon's Den

It's not surprising that archaeologists are, on the whole, pretty poor business people: they don't want to be business people. But an industry that employs thousands of people in hundred of companies, partnerships and freelance operations, turning over £100m a year, IS a business: the question is whether we embrace that fact, and see what we can do to improve, or we ignore it and trust to luck.

It is possible to learn a lot about business from Dragon's Den: not so much from the revolutionary rubber hammers, innovative chocolate teapots, and re-engineered sliced bread that hopes to be the best thing since the original sliced bread, but from the pooled practical experience of the entrepreneurs. After a while their questioning starts to form a pattern, from which I'd highlight these:

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Archeologists aim to shed light on Sherwood Forest ancient monument

ARCHEOLOGISTS are bidding to shed light on one of Notts' most mysterious ancient monuments.

Three years ago the Forestry Commission revealed that the Friends of Thynghowe had found a Viking meeting place in the Birklands, part of Sherwood Forest, near Mansfield.

The earthen mound has now been listed on English Heritage's National Monument Record.

New studies have also found the name Thynghowe in an ancient Sherwood Forest book dated to around the 1200s.

But more research is needed to understand its mysterious story.

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5,000-year-old door found in Europe

Archaeologists in the Swiss city of Zurich have found a 5,000-year-old door that may be one of the oldest ever found in Europe.

Niels Bleicher, the chief archaeologist, said the ancient poplar wood door is "solid and elegant" with well-preserved hinges and a "remarkable" design for holding the boards together.

Using treee rings to determine its age, Bleicher believes the door could have been made in the year 3,063BC, around the time construction on Britain's Stonehenge monument began.

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Britain's first hospital discovered

A site which may house Britain's earliest known hospital has been uncovered by archaeologists.

Radio carbon analysis at the former Leper Hospital at St Mary Magdalen in Winchester, Hampshire, has provided a date range of AD 960-1030 for a series of burials, many exhibiting evidence of leprosy, on the site.

A number of other artefacts, pits, and postholes also relate to the same time including what appears to be a large sunken structure underneath a medieval infirmary.

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Site of 'Britain's oldest hospital' uncovered

A site which may house Britain's earliest known hospital has been uncovered by archaeologists.

Radio carbon analysis at the former Leper Hospital at St Mary Magdalen in Winchester, Hampshire, has provided a date range of AD 960-1030 for a series of burials, many exhibiting evidence of leprosy, on the site.

A number of other artefacts, pits, and postholes also relate to the same time including what appears to be a large sunken structure underneath a medieval infirmary.

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Swiss archaeologists find 5,000-year-old door

Archaeologists in the Swiss city of Zurich have found a 5,000-year-old door that may be the oldest ever found in Europe.

Chief archaeologist Niels Bleicher says the ancient poplar wood door is "solid and elegant" with well-preserved hinges and a "remarkable" design for holding the boards together.

Bleicher said Tuesday the door has been dated to 3,100 years B.C.

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Ancient Shipwreck Points to Site of Major Roman Battle

The remains of a sunken warship recently found in the Mediterranean Sea may confirm the site of a major ancient battle in which Rome trounced Carthage.

The year was 241 B.C. and the players were the ascending Roman republic and the declining Carthaginian Empire, which was centered on the northernmost tip of Africa. The two powers were fighting for dominance in the Mediterranean in a series of conflicts called the Punic Wars.

Archaeologists think the newly discovered remnants of the warship date from the final battle of the first Punic War, which allowed Rome to expand farther into the Western Mediterranean.

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Stone Age flour found across Europe

Once thought of as near total carnivores, early humans ate ground flour 20,000 years before the dawn of agriculture. Flour residues recovered from 30,000-year-old grinding stones found in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic point to widespread processing and consumption of plant grain, according to a paper published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1.

"It's another nail in the coffin of the idea that hunter–gatherers didn't use plants for food," says Ofer Bar-Yosef, an archaeologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who was not involved in the study. Work in recent years has also uncovered a handful of Stone Age sites in the Near East with evidence for plant-eating.

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Neanderthal Children Were Large, Sturdy

Neanderthal youngsters that made it to the "terrible two's" were large, sturdy and toothy, suggests a newly discovered Neanderthal infant. The child almost survived to such an age, but instead died when it was just one and a half years old.

The remains of this infant -- a lower jaw and teeth unearthed in a Belgian cave -- are the youngest Neanderthal ever found in northwest Europe, according to a study that will appear in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Since the remains of two adults were also previously discovered in the cave, the fossil collection may represent a Neanderthal family.

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A Setback for Neandertal Smarts?

Neandertals are looking sharp these days. Many researchers now credit our evolutionary cousins, once regarded as brutish and dumb, with "modern behavior," such as making sophisticated tools and fashioning jewelry, a sign of symbolic expression. But new radiocarbon dating at a site in France could mar this flattering view. The study concludes that the archaeological layers at the site are so mixed up that ornaments and tools once attributed to Neandertals could actually be the work of modern humans, who lived in the same cave at a later date.

One prominent researcher even argues that this celebrated site, the Grotte du Renne (literally "reindeer cave") at Arcy-sur-Cure in central France, should now be eliminated from scientific consideration. "This key site should be disqualified from the debate over [Neandertal] symbolism," says Randall White, an archaeologist at New York University. But João Zilhão, an archaeologist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom who has often tussled with White and other researchers over the evidence from the Grotte du Renne, says that the new study "prove[s] the exact opposite of what [its] authors claim."

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Roman coins valued at £320,250

A stash of more than 50,000 Roman coins found in a field by a treasure hunter has been valued at £320,250.

The exact value of the hoard, which was uncovered in a field near Frome last April, was determined following several hours of debate including the differing opinions of three experts.

The coins, stashed in a large jar, include five particularly rare silver pieces made for the emperor Carausius, who ruled from 286 to 293AD.

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Archaeological finds at A483 Four Crosses bypass

Archaeologists have discovered Iron, Bronze and Roman Age remains on the route of a new bypass on the Powys/Shropshire border.

In a dig before the construction work on the A483 Four Crosses bypass, Bronze Age burial monuments, Iron Age burials and metalworking, and Roman metalworking and farming activity are believed to have been found.

The Welshpool-based Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) said today that archaeologists will now analyse the findings.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Man who discovered Iron Age torcs with metal detector set for £460,000 windfall

Amateur metal-detecting enthusiast, David Booth, who discovered a collection of Iron Age gold in a field near Stirling has could be in line for a £460,000 payment.

The keeper at Blair Drummond Safari park, pictured, had owned his metal detector for only five days when he discovered four 2,000-year-old gold neckbands last September.

Mr Booth, who was on his first trip outdoors with the equipment, took the bands back to his home near Stirling and contacted the authorities.

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Colosseum to open gladiator tunnels to public

The dark stone tunnels in which gladiators prepared to do battle in the Colosseum are being opened to the public for the first time.

But archeologists are concerned about the impact that millions of tourists will have on the subterranean maze of tunnels and galleries as they seek to experience their very own Gladiator moment, re-enacting scenes from the Ridley Scott blockbuster starring Russell Crowe.

From next week, visitors will be able to venture into the bowels of the amphitheatre, the largest ever built by the Romans, exploring the cells and passageways in which wild animals such as lions, tigers, bears and hyenas were corralled.

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Who Ate All the Pigs in Medieval Denmark?

It’s fair to assume that Valdemar the Conqueror, while ruling over Denmark in the early 1200s, ate like a king. But, what was the diet like for the peasants below him? The answer depends on where in Denmark the peasants called home.

Radford University anthropology professor Cassady Yoder researched the diets of peasants of medieval Denmark and found a significant difference in the foods consumed by those living in rural areas as opposed to city-dwelling peasants. Yoder’s research was published in the September issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

As part of her research, Yoder examined the diet of Dane peasants in Ribe, Denmark’s largest city during medieval times, the mid-sized city of Viborg and the population buried at a rural Cistercian monastery. Yoder found significant regional variation among the different sites. She says the city dwellers in Ribe and Viborg ate more protein rich foods such as meat from cows, pigs and fish.

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My bright idea: Civilisation is still worth striving for

If it is hard to talk of "civilisation" as an ideal to cherish because of the chauvinistic and elitist connotations it carries today, then no one has told Richard Miles. Or rather, it's a term that this 41-year-old archaeologist and historian wants to reclaim. Something of a throwback to another era himself, he has directed archaeological digs in Carthage and Rome, lectured at Cambridge University and now teaches classics at the University of Sydney.

Next month he presents a six-part history series on BBC2 called Ancient Worlds in which he travels to Iraq and beyond in a "Search for the Origins of Western Civilisation", as the subtitle of an accompanying book puts it.

Championing civilisation – it seems an old-fashioned, almost politically incorrect idea. What do you think about that?

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Investing in heritage 'makes economic sense' claims report

INVESTING in heritage makes sound economic sense, with regional and local communities and businesses, in particular, benefiting, according to the 2010 Heritage Counts report prepared by English Heritage on behalf of the heritage sector.

The report shows that:

Over the past decade, investments in 72 historic visitor attractions across the country have created 3,600 jobs and safeguarded a further 6,900.

On average, each site has generated almost £3 million of additional expenditure in regional economies.

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Maghera tomb: 5,000-year-old burial site to give up secrets

Archaeologists are to dig out a portal tomb in Northern Ireland for the first time in 50 years.

The collapse of Tirnony Dolmen near Maghera has produced a rare opportunity to discover what lies beneath — and exactly how old it is.

Normally portal tombs, which are among the oldest built structures still standing in Northern Ireland, are off limits to excavators and must be preserved.

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How Middle Eastern Milk Drinkers Conquered Europe

New research has revealed that agriculture came to Europe amid a wave of immigration from the Middle East during the Neolithic period. The newcomers won out over the locals because of their sophisticated culture, mastery of agriculture -- and their miracle food, milk.

Wedged in between dump trucks and excavators, archeologist Birgit Srock is drawing the outline of a 7,200-year-old posthole. A concrete mixing plant is visible on the horizon. She is here because, during the construction of a high-speed rail line between the German cities of Nuremberg and Berlin, workers happened upon a large Neolithic settlement in the Upper Franconia region of northern Bavaria.

The remains of more than 40 houses were unearthed, as well as skeletons, a spinning wheel, bulbous clay vessels, cows' teeth and broken sieves for cheese production -- a typical settlement of the so-called Linear Pottery culture (named after the patterns on their pottery).

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Cancer is a man-made disease, controversial study claims

Is the common nature of cancer worldwide purely a man-made phenomenon? That is what some researchers now suggest.

Still, other specialists in cancer and in human fossils have strong doubts about this notion.

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for roughly one in eight of all deaths in 2004, according to the World Health Organization. However, scientists have only found one case of the disease in investigations of hundreds of Egyptian mummies, researcher Rosalie David at the University of Manchester in England said in a statement. (The researchers did not reply to repeated queries made via phone and e-mail.)

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Bejeweled Stonehenge Boy Came From Mediterranean?

As a major attraction for more than 3,500 years, Stonehenge has inspired many an ancient road trip.

Now, new evidence shows that Bronze Age people journeyed all the way from the Mediterranean coast (regional map)—more than 500 miles (805 kilometers) away—to see the standing stones on Britain's Salisbury Plain. (See Stonehenge pictures.)

Chemical analysis of the teeth of a 14- or 15-year-old boy—buried outside the town of Amesbury (map), about three miles (five kilometers) from Stonehenge (map)—reveal that he hailed from somewhere in the Mediterranean region, new research shows.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

The end of County Archaeology in Nottinghamshire?

'Today Notts County Council have just published proposals to cut their conservation budget by 75% and to reduce their staff from 33 to 6. This will effectively mean the end of all county archaeology services in Nottinghamshire. At the moment it seems unlikely that any of the remaining 6 staff will be archaeologists.

The proposal can be found as a pdf here:

under the catagory B services list.

The proposal states that the effects of the cuts will be:

"Reduced access to the Historic Environment Record for all external service users.
District, town and parish councils, community groups and individuals willl need to identify
other sources for advice on conservation and heritage issues . External conservation and
heritage partnerships, projects and events will need to secure any support they need from
other sources."

Obviously many of us who make use of the help and advice from the County Archaeology services are rather upset about this and would appreciate any voices in support of the department. There is great concern as to what this would mean for basic oversight of development and the recording and protection of sites.'

(Source - BRITARCH)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

CBA calls for urgent Treasure Act review

Following the sale of the Crosby Garrett helmet by auction at Christies on Thursday for over £2 million, the CBA has called for an urgent review of the Treasure Act by the Coalition Government.

CBA Director, Dr Mike Heyworth, said:

The review of the Treasure Act was due to have taken place back in 2007. We are writing to the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries Ed Vaizey MP to ask him to ensure that the long-promised review happens as a matter of urgency. It was a tragedy that the Crosby Garrett helmet has now apparently disappeared into a private collection and may never be seen in public again. This is not in the public interest, and it is certainly highly frustrating for all the supporters of the fantastic appeal to raise funds to keep the find in Cumbria in a public museum where it surely belongs.

The CBA believes that the definition of Treasure should be extended to incorporate Roman base metal hoards and single finds of Roman and Anglo-Saxon coins made of precious metal.

At the same time the CBA will be asking the Culture Minister to speak with colleagues in the Ministry of Justice to move forward with the implementation of aspects of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 which relate to the Treasure Act.

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Hungate dig to feature on Time Team

The Hungate excavation is the biggest ever archaeological dig in York city centre.

Highlights of the dig include uncovering part of a 1,700 year old Roman cemetery and learning more about Viking York.

The dig began in 2007 and is scheduled to take five years, at a cost of £3.3 million.

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Bronze Age civilisation discovered in Russian Caucasus

Traces of a previously unknown Bronze Age civilisation have been discovered in the peaks of Russia's Caucasus Mountains thanks to aerial photographs taken 40 years ago, researchers said on Monday.

"We have discovered a civilisation dating from the 16th to the 14th centuries BC, high in the mountains south of Kislovodsk," in Russia's North Caucasus region, Andrei Belinsky, the head of a joint Russian-German expedition that has been investigating the region for five years, told AFP.

He said researchers had discovered stone foundations, some up to a metre (3.3 feet) high, at nearly 200 sites, all "visibly constructed according to the same architectural plan, with an oval courtyard in the centre, and connected by roads."

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Pictures: Rare Roman Helmet Sells for $3.6 Million

A rare Roman helmet dating to the late first to second century A.D. fetched nearly $3.6 million dollars at a London auction on October 7.

The bronze helmet and face mask, (seen above in an undated photo), was discovered in May 2010 by a treasure hunter using a metal detector in a field in Cumbria, a county in northwestern England.

(Related pictures: "Giant, Bulging-Eyed Roman Emperor Statue Found.")

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Digging for treasure at town's heart

THE search for treasure in the heart of Cheltenham has begun.

Archaeologists began digging trenches in North Place and Portland Street car parks yesterday.

The work comes as the borough council prepares to develop the site.

Earlier this year, the authority changed its mind on the future of the car parks, which are in line for development under the Civic Pride scheme.

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Exeter Roman fort finds on view to the public

HISTORIC remains of a Roman fort unearthed during excavations in Exeter will be on display to the public for the first time this weekend.

As the Echo revealed in the summer, the city's early history could soon be rewritten as a result of the extraordinary find on the former St Loyes Foundation site in Topsham Road.

And visitors will have the opportunity to explore the area at a open day on Saturday.

With Roman remains dating back to approximately AD50, the site owners Helical Bar PLC and Urban Renaissance Villages said they are keen for the general public to visit and gain a better understanding of how the city's history was shaped by the conquering Roman army.

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Hidden medieval village discovered by students

Amateur archaeologists in the Vale of Glamorgan believe they have uncovered a lost medieval village.

The Time Signs archaeology students made the discovery behind the railway viaduct at Porthkerry near Barry.

They are working with tutor Karl James Langford to prove his theory that the village of Whitelands existed.

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Viking treasure discovered in North Yorkshire village

A VIKING treasure pendant, which has laid buried for more than 1,000 years, has been unearthed by an amateur archaeologist.

The silver pendant, known as Thor's Hammer, has been declared treasure at an inquest in Harrogate.

It had been found near Coprove in September last year, by metal detectorist Michael Smith, who, not knowing what it was, had dismissed it as worthless.

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Cause of the big plague epidemic of Middle Ages identified

Geographical position of the five archaeological sites investigated. Green dots indicate the sites. Also indicated are two likely independent infection routes (black and red dotted arrows) for the spread of the Black Death (1347-1353) after Benedictow. ©: PLoS Pathogens

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Weymouth's Vikings set for Time Team

THE Vikings are coming… on a Time Team special featuring war graves on the Weymouth relief road route.

The mass burial pit was unearthed in June, 2009 on the top of the Ridgeway with 50 decapitated skulls and the bodies strewn nearby.

The grim discovery will be included in a show called In The Real Vikings: A Time Team Special on Monday, October 11 at 8pm on Channel 4.

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Worry over home for Newport's medieval ship

Campaigners say they are concerned that there are still no permanent plans for a medieval ship discovered on the banks of the River Usk in Newport in 2002.

The vessel has been called the world's best example of a 15th Century ship.

As conservation work continues, campaigners say they are worried it could end up hidden in a warehouse.

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Burial law is threatening archaeological research, say experts

Scientists object to Ministry of Justice rules which force them to rebury bones after just two years

Severe restrictions on scientists' freedom to study bones and skulls from ancient graves are putting archaeological research in Britain at risk, according to experts.

The growing dispute relates to controversial legislation introduced by the Ministry of Justice in 2008, which decreed that all human remains found during digs in Britain must be reburied within two years.

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My bright idea: Neanderthals could show compassion

Dr Penny Spikins is a young archaeologist at the University of York who focuses her research on social and cognitive evolution and prehistoric social dynamics, writing across a diverse range of subjects including the role of prestigious leaders and the occurrence of autism in past societies.In her new book, The Prehistory of Compassion, written with researchers Holly Rutherford and Andy Needham, she rejects the popular portrayal of Neanderthals as simple, unfeeling brutes and suggests that our closest ancient relatives may well have demonstrated a level of compassion that would put many modern humans to shame, caring for the infirm and the vulnerable for years at a time in organised groups.

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Landowners fear flood of treasure hunters after £2.3 million Roman helmet sale

Landowners fear flood of treasure hunters after £2.3 million Roman helmet sale

The find is the latest in a series of high profile artifacts unearthed by amateurs armed with metal detectors.

However the Country Land and Business Association is warning that property owners can become embroiled in costly legal disputes if they fail to agree contracts with anyone searching on their land.

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'Mini-Pompeii' Found in Norway

Norwegian archaeologists have unearthed a Neolithic “mini Pompeii” at a campsite near the North Sea, they announced this week.

Discovered at Hamresanden, not far from Kristiansand’s airport at Kjevik in southern Norway, the settlement has remained undisturbed for 5,500 years, buried under three feet of sand.

“We expected to find an 'ordinary' Scandinavian Stone Age site, badly preserved and small. Instead, we discovered a unique site, buried under a thick sand layer,” lead archaeologist Lars Sundström, of the Museum of Cultural History at the University in Oslo, told Discovery News.

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Friday, October 08, 2010

Ancient Roman helmet sells for 10 times estimated amount

A detailed and well-preserved Roman parade helmet -- complete with fine facial features on its face mask, tight curly hair, and a griffin-topped cap -- sold at auction Thursday for 10 times its estimated amount.

The helmet sold at Christie's auction house in London for 2.28 million pounds ($3.6 million). It had been estimated at 200,000 to 300,000 pounds (about $316,000 to $475,000).

The buyer of the helmet was not immediately known.

The Tullie House Museum in Carlisle, near where the helmet was found in May by a person with a metal detector, had launched a public fundraising appeal to try to procure the helmet as the centerpiece for a new Roman gallery.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Video News From TAC

A half-hour video news magazine each month bringing you stories from the wide world of archaeology

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Archaeologists debate Stonehenge

LEADING archaeologists got together at Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum on Saturday for a Solve Stonehenge debate.

Professor Tim Darvill, Professor Mike Parker Pearson, Mike Pitts and Julian Richards, who have all directed work within the Stonehenge landscape over the last 30 years, were kept in order by Andrew Lawson as they shared their expertise, discussing such questions as Did Stonehenge have a roof?, Which is more important, Durrington Walls or Stonehenge? and Who built Stonehenge?.

The debate was part of a weekend conference to celebrate the museum’s 150th anniversary.

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Roman helmet 'would be huge draw' for Cumbria

Tourism chiefs believe keeping a rare Roman helmet in Cumbria would result in a £3m boost for the area.

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

It will be auctioned by Christie's in London on Thursday, where it is expected to fetch £300,000.

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Newsletter from the Viking Ship Museum

The latest newsletter from the Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde is now online.

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Neolithic tomb found in garden 'extremely significant'

WHEN Hamish Mowatt decided to investigate a mysterious mound as he tidied an Orkney garden, he had little idea he would uncover a hoard of bodies that had lain untouched for around 5,000 years.

Archeologists believe the tomb he discovered under a boulder outside a bistro in South Ronaldsay could lead to new insights into how our neolithic ancestors lived and died.

But they face a race against time as water washing in and out of the newly uncovered tomb could wash away its contents and dissolve any pottery and human remains inside.

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Monday, October 04, 2010

New images may yield Viking ships

Archaeologists think they have found two more Viking ships buried in Vestfold County south of Oslo. The biggest may be 25 metres long, larger than any found so far.

This image, and another like it, may lead archaeologists to the discovery of more Viking ships buried south of Oslo. PHOTO: LBI ArchPro/NIKU

Road construction near the old Viking trading center at Kaupang has led to the discovery of two large ship silhouettes on ground radar pictures. The pictures have been made possible through a venture involving the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (Norsk institutt for kulturminneforskning, NIKU) and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archeological Prospection and Virtual Archeology.

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Why the Roman spa town of Allianoi must be saved

We continue to believe that it is still not too late for Turkish political leaders to take necessary action to avoid such a cultural tragedy to take place. Allianoi need not be sacrificed

The most recent reports from Turkey about the Roman spa complex of Allianoi, sent by the local Allianoi Initiative led by the archaeologist professor Ahmet Yaras, says that now only the tops of excavated walls and columns poke through sand that workers employed by the Turkish State Waterworks are laying. This outstanding Roman archaeological site is being made ready to be submerged under water as work resumes on the controversial Yortanli dam. If the dam's construction goes ahead and the valley flooded to create a reservoir, ancient history will be lost by an irrigation scheme with an expected life-span of only 50 years.

Excavated by archaeologists only relatively recently, the ancient spa complex of Allianoi near Bergama in western Turkey has already revealed many historically rich monuments, including the thermal baths, bridges, streets and dwellings, and provided important scientific insights into Roman art, architecture, engineering, hydrology, medicine and pharmacology. Enlarged by the Emperor Hadrian, Allianoi dates mainly from the 2nd century AD, a time of emerging urban centers in Anatolia and of the construction of the famous Asklepion of nearby Pergamon.

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Berlin Researchers Crack the Ptolemy Code

A 2nd century map of Germania by the scholar Ptolemy has always stumped scholars, who were unable to relate the places depicted to known settlements. Now a team of researchers have cracked the code, revealing that half of Germany's cities are 1,000 years older than previously thought.

The founding of Rome has been pinpointed to the year 753. For the city of St. Petersburg, records even indicate the precise day the first foundation stone was laid.

Historians don't have access to this kind of precision when it comes to German cities like Hanover, Kiel or Bad Driburg. The early histories of nearly all the German cities east of the Rhine are obscure, and the places themselves are not mentioned in documents until the Middle Ages. So far, no one has been able to date the founding of these cities.

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Even the Romans recycled glass

The Romans weren't just dab hands at making beautiful vessels, ornaments and plates from glass; they were also good at recycling the stuff. A new study has found that towards the end of their rule in Britain, the Romans were recycling vast amounts of glass.
Roman glass

But the researchers behind the study think this probably had less to do with their concern for the environment, and more to do with the fact that glass became scarcer in the northern fringes of the Roman Empire during the last century of their rule.

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Unearthed Aryan cities rewrite history

BRONZE Age cities archaeologists say could be the precursor of Western civilisation is being uncovered in excavations on the Russian steppe.

Twenty of the spiral-shaped settlements, believed to be the original home of the Aryan people, have been identified, and there are about 50 more suspected sites. They all lie buried in a region more than 640km long near Russia's border with Kazakhstan.

The cities are thought to have been built 3500-4000 years ago, soon after the Great Pyramid in Egypt. They are about the same size as several of the city states of ancient Greece, which started to come into being in Crete at about the same time.

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Archaeologists find ‘mini-Pompeii’

The most well-preserved pottery from the Stone Age ever found in Norway has turned up in an unspoiled dwelling site not far from Kristiansand. The find is considered an archaeological sensation.

The discovery of a “sealed” Stone Age house site from 3500 BC has stirred great excitement among archaeologists from Norway’s Museum of Cultural History at the University in Oslo. The settlement site at Hamresanden, close to Kristiansand’s airport at Kjevik in Southern Norway, looks like it was covered by a sandstorm, possibly in the course of a few hours.

The catastrophe for the Stone Age occupants has given archaeologists an untouched “mini-Pompeii,” containing both whole and reparable pots.

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Portal Rheinische Geschichte ist online

Der LVR startete gestern das erste Internetportal zur Geschichte des Rheinlandes.

Auf finden Nutzerinnen und Nutzer Informationen zu zwei Jahrtausenden rheinischer Geschichte – von der Vor- und Frühgeschichte über die Römerzeit, das Mittelalter und die „Franzosenzeit" bis hin zur Gegenwart.

Das Portal des Landschaftsverbandes Rheinland ist das erste chronologisch, geographisch und thematisch umfassende Online-Informationssystem zur rheinischen Geschichte. Es stellt das Rheinland als „Geschichtslandschaft" einer breiten Öffentlichkeit vor und ist Plattform für Forschung, Information und Diskussion.

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Steinzeit-Skelett aus Arnoldsweiler geborgen

Die Ausgrabung eines großen Fundplatzes auf der künftigen Trasse der A 4 bei Düren-Arnoldsweiler hatte spektakuläre Ergebnisse erbracht – sie waren bereits Anfang September der Öffentlichkeit vorgestellt worden. Neben Funden aus der Römer- und der Bronzezeit gruben die Archäologen ein jungsteinzeitliches Dorf der ersten Bauern im Rheinland samt Bestattungsplatz aus.

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No Evidence Found Of Catastrophic Impact In Pleistocene

Anthropology professor Vance T. Holliday and others take issue with claims that a comet strike led to the demise of Paleoindian megafauna hunters during the Pleistocene.

The notion of an object such as a comet or asteroid
striking the Earth and wiping out entire species is compelling, and sometimes there's good evidence for it. Most scientists now agree that a very large object from space crashed into what is now the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico 65 million years ago, altering climate patterns sufficiently to end the age of the dinosaurs.

The theory was backed up by supporting evidence, and while not everyone in the scientific community was on board at first, it's now generally accepted.

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Seafood diet behind big brains

Our love of seafood goes way back. Archaeologists have found crocodiles, turtles and fish were eaten by early humans almost 2 million years ago.

According to the study's researchers, this is the oldest evidence for a diet containing aquatic animals. And the nutrients they provided could have fuelled the evolution of our large hu man brains, the boffins added.

"These aquatic foods are really important sources of the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and docosahexaenoic acid that are so critical to human brain growth," said co-author and paleoanthropologist Dr. Richmond. "Finding these foods in the diets of our early ancestors suggests they may have helped to lift constraints on brain size and fuel the evolution of a larger brain."

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Friday, October 01, 2010

Roman circus fundraiser brands plan ‘a betrayal’

ARCHAEOLOGISTS say they are “disappointed” their plans for a Roman chariot racing heritage centre have been publicly criticised by a one-time supporter of the project.

Colchester Archaeological Trust hopes to create a visitor centre on the site where the starting gates of Britain’s only Roman circus were unearthed in 2004.

The plan was backed by hundreds Gazette readers who pledged money to help buy the former sergeants’ mess building in Le Cateau Road.

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Iron Age gold ring found on Funen

Yet another handcrafted gold artifact has been found on Funen, just weeks after the discovery by a local fisherman of a gold bracelet from 800AD.

The gold neck ring, estimated to be 1,500 years old, was found by professional archeologists.

They say the 140-gram, 50-centimetre long ring was hidden away in a small clay pot believed to have been buried in the ground as a hiding place for valuables. The find comes after a fisherman in the town of Vordingborg this August found a golden arm ring dating back 1,200 years.

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Twenty Years of Oxford Experience

The Oxford Experience summer school celebrated its 20th birthday this summer.

The summer school, which offers classes in a wide variety of subjects including archaeology, is held in Christ Church, Oxford.

Photos of the Final Dinner celebrations can be found on the Oxford Experience web site – follow the “20 Years of Oxford Experience” link.

Ancient Roman spa awaits flooding in Turkey

Under a mild autumn sun, workers bustle about like bees at a Roman bath complex sprawling over a green plain in western Turkey in what looks like a regular excavation site.

But the fate awaiting the impressive ancient spa of Allianoi is dark: the workers here are tasked with burying the site and not digging it out to reveal its secrets.

Much to the consternation of archaeologists and civic bodies, the Turkish government has said it will go ahead with flooding the valley the site sits in to serve as a dam reservoir with a capacity to irrigate 8,000 hectares (19,760 acres) of farmland.

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Remains of Roman settlement discovered under Newnham

It seems that Newnham College has been hiding several skeletons in its back gardens, providing a group of Sixth Formers with the perfect opportunity to get a rare taste of a hands-on archaeological dig.

While digging at Newnham, the group of 20 girls from schools in Peterborough, London and Birmingham uncovered evidence that the college was once the site of a significant Roman settlement, as well as the location of a farmhouse from the 16th or 17th century.

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'Hobbit' Was an Iodine-Deficient Human, Not Another Species, New Study Suggests

A new paper is set to re-ignite debate over the origins of so-called Homo floresiensis -- the 'hobbit' that some scientists have claimed as a new species of human.

The University of Western Australia's Emeritus Professor Charles Oxnard and his colleagues, in a paper in PLoS ONE have reconfirmed, on the post-cranial skeleton, their original finding on the skull that Homo floresiensis in fact bears the hallmarks of humans -- Homo sapiens -- affected by hypothyroid cretinism.

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Two weeks to spend in the past

One of Scotland’s oldest and biggest archaeology festivals, this will see over 100 events, most of them free, taking place across the region, including guided walks, family activities, self-guided trails, evening lectures, special exhibitions, competitions and concludes with a two day conference at the Spectrum Centre in Inverness revealing what is new in Highland archaeology.

Co-ordinated by Highland Council’s archaeology unit, the festival’s events are organised by a wide range of community groups, interested individuals and museums and professional bodies such as Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland.

“What’s really fantastic about the festival is that there are so many local societies involved,” Cara Jones of the council archaeology unit commented.

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