Saturday, April 30, 2011

Monkeys, Brains, and Human Evolution: New Findings

Two recently conducted studies may add some possible new revelations related to our understanding of human or primate evolution. In one, researchers have concluded that certain monkeys, like humans, have the ability to recall or remember things and then even apply those memories to novel situations, suggesting the possibility that recollection did not necessarily depend upon language and that this ability may have been present in a common primate ancestor 30 million years ago. In another, researchers are suggesting that a single gene mutation may have controlled or directed the evolution of the cerebral cortex of the human brain over the last 5 million years.

Study No. 1

Having a memory like a monkey may not be quite as bad as it sounds. A recent study conducted by Benjamin Basile and Robert Hampton of Emory University shows that rhesus monkeys are capable of not only recognizing things they have seen before, but can also recollect or recall images and impressions from the past by recreating them in a new situation.

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Imperial period Roman ship found in Ostia Antica

Archaeologists say they have found part of an ancient ship near Rome during repair work to a bridge. The 11 metre vessel is one of the largest ancient vessels excavated near Ostia Antica, a port city founded some 2,500 years ago.

The original river harbour of Ostia had limitations as larger ships such as this one could not enter it due to a sand bar near the mouth of the river. Mercantile goods that arrived in large sea going ships had to be transferred to smaller vessels at sea then these shallow-draught vessels could navigate the river and moor at the Tiber quays, but as time passed there was just not enough capacity for Rome’s growing needs.

The Emperor Claudius started the construction of an artificial harbour, in AD 42 a few kilometres to the north of Ostia. A huge basin was created by enhancing a natural bay, protected by two curved moles and a lighthouse. A number of ships filled with Roman concrete was used as foundations for these moles.

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St Albans clock tower reopens ahead of schedule

One of St Albans' oldest monuments has reopened after being renovated.

Vital repairs to the 600-year-old Grade I-listed clock tower have taken about 10 weeks.

The district council replaced ageing wooden louvre window slats and re-pointed much of the ancient brickwork.

A full survey of the medieval building, which was built between 1403 and 1412, was also carried out to secure its long-term future.

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Italy: Ancient ship uncovered near Rome coast

Builders have unearthed the remains of a 2,000 year-old wooden ship dating from the Roman Empire, near the Italian capital Rome's ancient port of Ostia. The ship's discovery, made during work at the site of a new road, was hailed as an important one by archaeologists.

"It shows that the coastline during during ancient Roman times was some 3-4 kilometres farther inland than it is now," said Ostia archaeology official Anna Maria Moretti .

The wooden ship was about 11 metres long, making it one of the largest ancient vessels excavated near Ostia Antica, a port city founded some 2,500 years ago and Rome's first colony.

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"hie sal nymant yn gan ..." - Mittelalterliches "Verbotsschild" entdeckt

Das wohl ältestes "Verbotsschild" Westfalens haben Denkmalpfleger des Landschaftsverbandes Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) jetzt auf der Burg Dringenberg im Bad Driburger Ortsteil Dringenberg (Kreis Höxter) entdeckt. Im Torhaus der Burg wurde eine äußerst seltene in den Putz geritzte Inschrift aus der ersten Hälfte des 15. Jahrhunderts identifiziert.

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Roman Ship Emerges Near Ancient Port

A 2,000-year-old Roman ship in the middle of a plain near the ancient port of Rome has been unearthed by Italian archaeologists.

The wooden vessel was found at a depth of 13 feet during repair work on a bridge that links the modern town of Ostia with Fiumicino, where Rome's main airport is located.

Measuring 36 feet in length, the ship is the largest ever excavated near the ruins of Ostia Antica, a port city near the mouth of the Tiber River that rivals the riches of Pompeii.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Girl 'murdered' by Roman soldiers in north Kent

The body of a girl thought to have been murdered by Roman soldiers has been discovered in north Kent.

Archaeologists working on the site of a Roman settlement near the A2 uncovered the girl who died almost 2,000 years ago.

"She was killed by a Roman sword stabbing her in the back of the head," said Dr Paul Wilkinson, director of the excavation.

"By the position of the entry wound she would have been kneeling at the time."

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Bear DNA is clue to age of Chauvet cave art

EXPLORING a gorge in south-east France in 1994 for prehistoric artefacts, Jean-Marie Chauvet hit the jackpot. After squeezing through a narrow passage, he found himself in a hidden cavern, the walls of which were covered with paintings of animals.

But dating the beautiful images - which featured in Werner Herzog's recent documentary film Cave of Forgotten Dreams - has led to an ugly spat between archaeologists. Could the bones of cave bears settle the debate?

Within a year of Chauvet's discovery, radiocarbon dating suggested the images were between 30,000 and 32,000 years old, making them almost twice the age of the famous Lascaux cave art in south-west France (see map). The result "polarised the archaeological world", says Andrew Lawson, a freelance archaeologist based in Salisbury, UK.

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Significant mediaeval treasure found in Austria

The Austrian Federal Monument Agency (BDA) reported a “fairy tale” find on Good Friday. An unidentified Austrian man found about 200 mediaeval artefacts estimated to be around 650 years old while digging to expand a garden pond in 2007. The discovery has been called one of the most “significant mediaeval treasure finds.”

Austria’s BDA, in charge of national antiquities, said the treasure trove, found in the vicinity of Wiener Neustadt, consists of more than 200 rings, brooches, ornate belt buckles, gold-plated silver dishes and other pieces or fragments, many encrusted with pearls, fossilized coral and other ornaments. It says the objects are about 650 years old and are being evaluated for their provenance and worth.

According to to the BDA, the man was digging to enlarge a small pond in his back garden when he found the buried treasure in 2007 consisting of 153 pieces of jewellery and 75 other precious objects and fragments.

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Remains of ancient Roman temple uncovered

WORK being carried out in the area surrounding the Roman ruins in Torrox have uncovered remains of a temple dating back to the first century. Between 30 and 40 pieces, mainly lintels and fragments of columns have been found near the coast and work is ongoing in the hopes of discovering other hidden remains.

The archaeologist supervising the works, Aurora Urdiales, has classified it as an “impressive discovery, both due to the magnitude and dimension of each element and due to the state of conservation in which they have been found”.

The temple is believed to be part of the old Roman town of Caviclum, located in the area where the lighthouse can now be seen.

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Roman tomb found under Naples toxic waste dump

Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Roman mausoleum under an illegal toxic waste dump near Naples.

The sprawling 2nd-century AD tomb, complete with stucco work and decorations, was found under nearly 60 tonnes of refuse illicitly piled up in 17th-century ruins at Pozzuoli, site of the ancient Roman seaside town of Puteolanum.

Police with diggers cleared away the top level of garbage and unearthed an underground tunnel leading into the mausoleum which archaeologists described as "of extraordinary interest".

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Historic Church's Subterranean Secrets Revealed

Researchers from Kingston University in London have carried out a full scientific survey of an historic churchyard widely believed to be the site of the crowning of at least two Anglo-Saxon kings. The team used an earth resistance meter to survey a graveyard at the site where possibly as many as seven kings were crowned, during the 10th Century, including Athelstan, the first king of a unified England in 925, and Ethelred the Unready in 978-9.

An archaeological team from Kingston University in South West London has gone beneath the surface of the historic churchyard at the borough's All Saints Church to try to find out more about its history. The team carried out a full scientific survey of the site in the heart of Kingston's town centre, with local people and school children also taking the opportunity to get involved.

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Anglo-Saxon hall unearthed at Bamburgh Castle

An archaeological research team in Northumberland has unearthed a medieval hall underneath Bamburgh Castle.

Bamburgh Castle Research Project dug up a small trench under the inner courtyard at the core of the castle and discovered an Anglo-Saxon hall.

The team believes that the discovery probably dates back to medieval times.

The dig was carried out after the researchers invited Channel 4's Time Team to the castle to help them with their latest archaeological project.

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Italy: Ancient Roman mausoleum found under tonnes of garbage

Italian police near Naples discovered a 2,000-year-old Roman-era mausoleum buried under tons of illegally-dumped garbage.

The mausoleum, which dates back to the second century AD, was found by police hidden beneath 58 tonnes of garbage in the coastal town Pozzuoli while they were impounding the site they say was used to illegally dispose of waste.

Police used earth-moving equipment to dig through the garbage revealing the entrance to the mausoleum which was used to hide refuse.

Marble beams and decorations came to light after trash was removed from the tunnel.

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Archaeologists Explore Site for Answers About First European Farmers

It is a small, quiet village in Bulgaria. Before now, few people knew of its existence. It sits adjacent to mountains in a river valley and any photographer might say that, from a distance and at the proper elevation, viewing it from afar would be a scenic experience. What may place this little village on the map, however, has nothing to do with scenery. In the coming months, it will be the focus of a group of archaeologists who hope to find some answers to questions about the first farmers of Europe.

Nestled in the small Middle Struma River Valley in southwestern Bulgaria, a site near the town of Ilindentsi is one of six early Neolithic settlements that have been mapped by scientists as archaeological sites that contain evidence left behind by some of Europe's earliest agriculturalists. Initial excavation probes were conducted at the site from 2004 to 2009 by archaeologists from the Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History.

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Four Individuals Caught in 'Death Trap' May Shed Light on Human Ancestors

Finding one partial skeleton of an ancient member of the human family is the rarest of rare discoveries in human evolution. So, paleoanthropologists murmured in surprise at a meeting here Saturday when South African researchers announced that they had found at least four individuals of a new species of early human, Australopithecus sediba. The discoverers say that this hominin shows some surprisingly modern traits and its species may even be an ancestor of our own genus. “We really have found something very, very odd and very unexpected,” says discovery team leader Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. But other paleoanthropologists are waiting for more detailed analysis of the still-unpublished fossils before they agree on its identity or place in the human family tree.

The four hominin individuals died when they fell into a “death trap” in a cave about 2 million years ago at Malapa, South Africa, according to new dates reported by Berger in his talk at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA). In addition to the articulated partial skeletons of a youth and an older female unveiled last year in Science, the team members reported the discovery of bones of an 18-month-old infant and at least one other adult. This means they are getting a good look at Au. sediba’s development from infancy to old age. “It is going to be a remarkable record,” Berger said. “And we still haven’t found everything!”

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Cavemen, Cave Bears Battled Over Turf

After prehistoric humans and cave bears competed for the same real estate, the bears were wiped out. But are our ancestors to blame?

Cavemen may have had to jostle with bears to settle into caves up to 32,000 years ago, as research shows cave bears lived in the same spaces coveted by prehistoric humans.

The new study on cave bears, which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Archaeological Science, may also shed light on the age of cave art depicting these enormous animals and why the bears eventually went extinct.

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Advertisement A digital archive for Cyprus’ antiquities

GETTING information on Cyprus’ antiquities used to be a chore discouraging potential hobbyists and frustrating specialists who were forced to do a lot of running around but this will hopefully change with the imminent completion of a digitisation programme.

The Cyprus Archaeological Digitisation Programme (CADiP) started in mid-October 2009 in order to manage thousands antiquities scattered all over Cyprus “and serve the needs of the Antiquities department as well as those of researchers and the public,” Curator of Antiquities Despo Pilides yesterday said at a news conference.

Roughly 1,300 monuments have been catalogued under the project. Also catalogued are Paphos Museum’s 5,000-odd artefacts found up until 1975.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Uncovered: The remains of two Roman soldiers

ARCHAEOLOGISTS believe they have uncovered the remains of two Roman soldiers beneath one of Colchester’s former barracks.

The remains of two spearmen, laid to rest on their backs with their weapons and armour, have been discovered in a cemetery beneath the former Hyderabad Barracks.

The Colchester Archaeological Trust believes they could have been Saxon soldiers hired in the 4th or 5th century AD – the final days of the Roman empire.

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Tyrannical Roman Emperor's Home Reconstructed

Notorious for being a cruel megalomaniac tyrant who persecuted early Christians, had his stepbrother, two of his wives and even his own mother murdered, Rome's fifth emperor, Nero, has never been held dear in Roman history.

In fact, he has been accused of nearly destroying Rome, itself, by allegedly setting the Great Fire in 64 A.D. that devastated the city.

Now tourists can tour his first palace.

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Legendary Saints Were Real, Buried Alive, Study Hints

Bones of a Roman couple—killed for being Christian—may have been identified.

The skeletons of two married, early-Christian saints—said to have been buried alive nearly 2,000 years ago—may have been identified in Italy, scientists announced Thursday.

Analysis of the skeletons—sealed off for centuries in an Italian cathedral until recently—seems to support the legend of Chrysanthus and Daria, who are said to have been persecuted in the city of Rome for being Christians.

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Dundee academics reconstruct Viking woman's face

Academics at Dundee University have helped recreate the face of a Viking woman whose skeleton was unearthed in York more than 30 years ago.

The facial reconstruction was achieved by laser-scanning her skull to create a 3D digital model.

Eyes were then digitally created, along with hair and a bonnet, to complete the look.

The project was part of a £150,000 investment at York's Jorvik Viking Centre.

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Did Lucy's species butcher animals?

In August 2010 archaeologists announced that they had discovered evidence that pushed back the origin of butchery nearly 800,000 years. Studying bones of cow- and goat-size animals dated to around 3.4 million years ago from a site in Ethiopia called Dikika, Shannon McPherron of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and his colleagues observed several distinctive marks. After conducting an extensive analysis of the marks, the team determined that they resulted from butchery with stone tools, although no implements were recovered at the site. Because the only human remains known from Dikika belong to Australopithecus afarensis—the species to which the famous Lucy fossil belongs—the researchers concluded A. afarensis was the butcher.

The discovery made a big splash, because scientists thought stone tool use and butchery originated with human ancestors more advanced than Lucy's kind. Furthermore, according to conventional wisdom, A. afarensis relied primarily on plant foods.

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Rising above the Acropolis – Constellation “Draco” signalled beginning of Athenian athletic festival new research shows

When the dragon rose the games began!

About 2,500 years ago, at a time when Athens was in its prime, the people of the city celebrated the birth of Athena, their patron goddess, with a great event.
Known as the Panathenaic festival it featured a series of athletic games that included chariot races, javelin throwing and boating. It even had a bloody contest known as pankration, a combination of wrestling and boxing which is not that dissimilar from today’s mixed martial arts.

Celebrated annually around late July – mid August it was an important part of the city’s life and now, thanks to new research by Professor Efrosyni Boutsikas of the University of Kent, we have evidence that astronomy played a role in these games. She reconstructed the sky over the Athenian acropolis, determining how it would have looked about 2,500 years ago. Her results were published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Archaeology.

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Mass burial suggests massacre at Iron Age hill fort

Archaeologists have found evidence of a massacre linked to Iron Age warfare at a hill fort in Derbyshire.

A burial site contained only women and children - the first segregated burial of this kind from Iron Age Britain.

Nine skeletons were discovered in a section of ditch around the fort at Fin Cop in the Peak District.

Scientists believe "perhaps hundreds more skeletons" could be buried in the ditch, only a small part of which has been excavated so far.

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Discovering Santa Fiora

The Caput Aquae of the Aqua Traiana

Two web pages about the Santa Fiora Aqueduct:

The Archaeology of the Spring Chamber at the Santa Fiora Nymphaeum


Features of the Aqua Traiana Aqueduct Tunnel at Santa Fiora

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Aqueduct Hunter dot Com launches on Worldwide Water day 2011

The AqueductHunter Website has launched today on Worldwide Water day, and features a special report on the discovery of the Santa Fiora Nymphaeum, the primary source of the Aqua Traiana Aqueduct. has twelve pages of information on the Santa Fiora discovery and the Aqua Traiana, twenty six image pages and four brand-spanking new plans and projections of the Fiora Nymphaeum site. is a great resource for Emperors, Enthusiasts and Erudati alike.

Come and read about the world of Roman Water and meet the fearless aqueduct hunters

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ancient 'debit card' discovered in Saxony-Anhalt

"It’s something of a rare find in Europe” said archaeologist Andreas Hille from the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt.

The antiquated debt counter measures 30 centimetres in length and displays 23 notches, with both a name and the date 1558 visible.

Archaeologists made the exciting find during excavations in the small easterly university town of Wittenberg, made famous by the Protestant theologian Martin Luther.

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Midlands Viking Symposium to explore the legacy of the Vikings in Ireland

This year’s Midlands Viking Symposium will be taking place outside the United Kingdom for the first time in its history as scholars focus on the role of the Norse in Ireland.

The symposium (April 29th – May 1st) will be held in Dublin, with the opening address and reception taking place at the National Museum of Ireland.

The Vikings left a strong imprint on Ireland that is still apparent in place-names, archaeological finds and in the DNA of the modern population.

Recent archaeological finds of weapons, jewellery and Viking remains have provided new evidence of the deep and widespread impact that the invaders had on Ireland, when they started arriving on its shores more than a thousand years ago. The recently-discovered site of Annagassan promises to rival Viking Dublin in the richness and variety of relics uncovered there.

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Dundee University staff bring Viking's face to life

Academics at Dundee University have helped recreate the most accurate picture of Viking life yet as part of a £150,000 investment at York's Jorvik Viking Centre.

York Archaeological Trust, owner of Jorvik, has used the most advanced scientific and archaeological research techniques to bring York's Vikings to life and allow the public to come face to face with the most accurate picture of Vikings at two new exhibitions at the centre, launched this week.

The trust enlisted the skills of academics at Dundee University to produce a facial reconstruction of a female skeleton — one of four excavated at Coppergate in York over 30 years ago.

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This cult of the ruin renders England's landscape soulless. Better to rebuild

A bad omen is at hand. The cult of the ruin is back. I mean not just the return of such modern "ruins" as the Great Depression, Liberal coalitions or royal weddings, but ancient ones too. Television is furiously walking, digging and rescuing relics of the past. The British Museum recalls the venues of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and, perhaps, whatever the RAF leaves standing of Libya. Meanwhile, publishers are chiselling ever more tomes from the walls of castles and abbeys. No self-respecting coffee table is without a leg-buckling volume of ruination.

The architectural writers Jeremy Musson and John Goodall are the latest priests of the cult to celebrate its mysteries. Musson's English Ruins exults in such shrines as Glastonbury, Fountains, Dunstanburgh, Bodiam, Cowdray and even Battersea power station. England to him "is a landscape of ruins". Not a town is without some clump of tumbled stone, telling of "the rise and fall of dynasties … of great follies and long-forgotten certainties". It does not matter if the original is a Norman keep or the boarded-up houses of Yvette Cooper's "Pathfinder" northern ghost towns. They are grist to Musson's mill of fossilised history.

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Lewis Chessman exhibition opens in Stornoway museum

Some of the historic Lewis Chessmen have gone on display on the island where they were found more than 150 years ago.

More than 30 of the 12th Century pieces are being shown at the exhibition at Museum nan Eilean in Stornoway.

The chessmen were found beneath a sand dune near Uig on the west coast of Lewis at some point before 1831.

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Was Eurasia a stone's throw for early humans?

Picture this scene: it’s 1.8 million years ago in the southern reaches of the Caucasus Mountains and a powerful feline, an ancestor of the modern jaguar, has just made a kill. The predator retreats to a secluded gully where it can feed on the bloodied carcass at its leisure. Suddenly a volley of rocks rains down, delivering painful blows and forcing the big cat to abandon its dinner and withdraw. Moments later, a band of prehistoric humans scrambles down the gully to claim the prize. Chalk up another victory for the diminutive scavengers whose relatives will one day take over the planet.

The scenario is speculative, but based on evidence unearthed at the Dmanisi excavation site in the Republic of Georgia and presented earlier this month at a meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Sacramento, California.

Reid Ferring, a geoarchaeologist at the University of North Texas, has championed the idea, which arose from his ongoing interest in the numbers and arrangements of stones found at the dig. The stones or 'cobbles' are intriguing, he says, because they are otherwise nonexistent in the layers of volcanic sediment that encase the ancient site. “There’s no possible way they got there naturally,” he says of the nearly 200 stones he’s studied.

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Roman kilns and Bronze Age remains at Plumley Wood

rchaeological fieldwork carried out in advance of mineral extraction unearthed a group of pottery kilns dating from the late Roman period. This is one of several discoveries revealed by Thames Valley Archaeological Services (TVAS) during the course of quarrying in the area and includes an important Late Palaeolithic site just to the south at Somerley.

The New Forest has long been recognized as an important centre of pottery production in Roman Britain, its products being widely traded throughout the province. It is, however, a somewhat surprising location for site director Andy Taylor and his team to find such an industry. The main drawback being the lack of locally available clay suitable for potting. It appears that the supply of timber for fuel was more important than the lack of clay.

The pottery produced here is distinctive for its shiny appearance, which seems to have been intended to imitate metallic vessels (silver or pewter); and even the shapes also seem to copy metal vessel shapes, such as the very typical indented beaker (see photograph).

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A temple of Roman goddess Nemesis, discovered in Alba Iulia

A temple built by Roman legions at the end of the second or start of the third century has been discovered within the Alba Iulia citadel, reports Mediafax news wire. The intricate detail of this discovery consists in the fact that a sacred temple was rarely, if ever, built inside a Roman legion camp.

The discovery was made during improvement works developed at the archaeological site of the Alba Iulia citadel. The temple is part of the Gemina Legion 13 camp and is believed to have been built by the soldiers, as an offering to their patron. The temple comprises a votive altar, a marble plaque representing a gladiator and a marble statue of the goddess, reports Mediafax. Several other traces of the Roman legion camps were also discovered at the site.

Nemesis was the goddess of revenge for Romans, being also regarded as the patron of gladiators and soldiers.

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Römisches Kriegsschiff kreuzt im Dienst der Wissenschaft

Trierer Professor Christoph Schäfer betreut Nachbau einer „Navis Lusoria“

Ein Desaster? Über Monate haben viele Hände an dem Nachbau eines römischen Kriegsschiffs gebaut. Und dann das: Bei der Jungfernfahrt dringt Wasser in den Rumpf. Was Laien in eine Schrecken versetzt, ist für Experten kein unrühmlicher Untergang eines ambitionierten Projekts, sondern durchaus beabsichtigt.

Damit das Schiff schwimmt, müssen seine Planken Feuchtigkeit aufnehmen, aufquellen und auf diese Weise den Bootsrumpf abdichten. Nicht nur bei diesem Verfahren halten sich die Bootsbauer, die in einer Germersheimer Bundeswehrkaserne eine sogenannte „Navis Lusoria“ nachbauen, getreu an die historischen Vorbilder. Wie diese römischen Kriegsschiffe des dritten und vierten nachchristlichen Jahrhunderts konstruiert und gebaut waren, weiß in Deutschland kaum jemand besser als Prof. Dr. Christoph Schäfer, Althistoriker an der Universität Trier. Es ist nicht die erste Rekonstruktion, die unter seinen wissenschaftlichen Fittichen entsteht und neue Erkenntnisse erbringen soll.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Job cuts at the Museum of London 'will cripple its vital academic work'

The Museum of London (MoL) is planning to axe curators and conservators from its staff amid accusations that academic expertise no longer counts for anything.

Up to 17 posts have been targeted, sparking outrage from eminent scholars. John Clark, a leading medievalist and former senior curator, now retired, has written to the MoL director, Professor Jack Lohman, protesting at proposals that will "cripple" curatorial work.

He is so alarmed by the cuts that he is considering resigning his honorary title of Curator Emeritus, MoL. In his letter, he told Professor Lohman: "If the proposals for the future of curatorial posts… go ahead, I feel I shall have very little option other than to resign the role of Curator Emeritus for the hollow sham it is."

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Craft, churches and charcoal

Norway’s more than 1,000 year-old-city and historical capital, Trondheim, was a beehive of activity in medieval times. Recent archeological research by scientists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Museum of Natural History and Archaeology in the city’s popular public forest, “Bymarka”, has uncovered more than 500 charcoal pits, tell-tale signs of substantial medieval metal working activity.

For centuries, Trondheim – or Nidaros as it was then called – was home to the Archdiocese of Norway, and also for the Faeroe Islands, the Orkney Islands, the Isle of Man, Iceland and Greenland. Nidaros Cathedral, the city’s gothic cathedral, held reliquaries from St. Olaf and thus attracted thousands of pilgrims. And the cathedral was not the only church in town. While just two of the many churches erected in the town center in medieval times still stand, 25 stone churches were built during the Middle Ages in the countryside around Trondheim.

“This charcoal production is most probably directly linked to major historic events and processes occurring in central Norway at the beginning of the Middle Ages. One obvious explanation is the Church’s impact on economic growth and production as well as its demand for building materials,” explains archeologist Ragnhild Berge, a PhD candidate based at NTNU's Museum of Natural History and Archaeology in Trondheim.

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Archaeologists hope to find pieces of history on Halifax library site

HALIFAX - Archaeologists in Halifax will be looking for history than what’s in the books at the city’s central library.

Bellvue House - the home for Halifax’s Commander-in-Chief of the British Army - once stood on the same property as Halifax Regional Library, on Spring Garden Rd.

As construction crews begin digging up the ground around the library ahead of the construction of a new building, archaeologists will be keeping a close eye out for artifacts or signs of former structures lying beneath the grass and concrete.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Dragon Harald Fairhair

The largest Viking ship built in modern times

In March of 2010, construction began on what will be the largest Viking ship ever built in modern times. Named after Harald Fairhair, the king who unified Norway into one kingdom, the great dragon ship is coming together in the town of Haugesund in Western Norway.

At a hundred and fourteen feet of crafted oak, twenty-seven feet on the beam, displacing seventy tons, and with a thirty-two hundred square foot sail of pure silk, this magnificent ship will indeed be worthy of a king.

The Dragon Harald Fairhair will have 25 pairs of oars. It is necessary to have at least two people on each oar to row the ship efficiently. That will give a crew of at least 100 persons, yet the craft should be able to be sailed by only twelve.

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Roman “Treasure Trove” find is so saucy!

A SOLID gold pendant with an unmistakable shape was the subject of a “treasure trove” inquest at Lynn County Court yesterday.

For the item on which Norfolk coroner William Armstrong was being asked to adjudicate was a Roman golden pendant in the distinctive shape of a phallus.

The coroner said the pendant was found on land belonging to farmer Neil Riseborough at Hillington on January 30 this year by Kevin Hillier.

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TV’s Time Team unveil palace’s secrets

KINGS Clipstone again played host to history in the making last week as television show Time Team finally uncovered some of the secrets of King John’s Palace.

The Channel 4 crew arrived last Monday to conduct the first major excavation of the medieval site in some 50 years.

Producers largely managed to keep the dig under wraps to deter treasure hunters but organised tours were laid on for around 100 lucky locals.

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Macedonians created cement three centuries before the Romans

Some of the finest ancient treasures of Greece have gone on display, in Oxford's Ashmolean Museum in Britain, even though some of the discoveries have never been seen by Greeks.

They have been unearthed in a royal complex belonging to Alexander the Great and his father Philip.

Archaeologists have determined that Alexander's Macedonians were not only great warriors but revolutionary builders as well.

Malcolm Brabant reports from Vergina in Northern Greece.

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9000 years of drifting sand in Norway

The sand along the south-western coastal rim of Norway has drifted for more than 9000 years, triggered by sea-level changes and human activity, new research has found.

Researchers in countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland study sand drift, but most of them focus on dunes along the coastline, not on the plains further inland.

“Sand dunes are dynamic. For all we know, they may have been formed last year. But sand plains are much older and more stable. Thin organic layers present in sand is interesting, when trying to understand sand drift in pre-historic times,” says botanist Lisbeth Prøsch-Danielsen at the University of Stavanger’s Museum of Archaeology.

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Shakespeare's last home is focus of archaeological dig

Archaeologists have begun delving into layers of Tudor soil untouched for 400 years as they resume a dig on the site of William Shakespeare's last home.

The dig is being carried out at New Place, in Stratford-upon-Avon.

For the next seven months, visitors to Nash's House and New Place will be able to watch the team of archaeologists and volunteers at work.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Hole in the head: How medieval soldiers survived after battle thanks to early day brain surgery

A massive haul of bones discovered in a medieval graveyard has given an insight into the medical capabilities of people 1,500 years ago.

The skeletons, found in central Italy, show that many soldiers buried close to one another survived after suffering blows to the head with maces and battle axes.

There are signs of medical interventions with one man going on to live despite having a two inch hole in his head, probably caused by a Byzantine mace.

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Achaeologists excitement over an old plough found at Lyminbge in Kent that reveals how farmers worked in the 7th Century

An archaeological discovery is set to shed new light on the history of farming.

Dr Gabor Thomas of the University of Reading and his team have found a 7th Century iron plough coulter during excavations at Lyminge .

A coulter is a vertical soil slicer mounted like a knife to cut through the soil ahead of a plough share to improve the plough's efficiency.

Unlike the small fields associated with earlier light ploughs they cultivated the land in long narrow strips making the large open fields which would become a standard feature of the medieval countryside.

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Scientists speak out to discredit 'gay caveman' media reports

Reports that surfaced last week about the remains of a "gay caveman" found in the Czech Republic have prompted scientists to take on an unlikely foe -- an overhyped news media that may be overblowing the archaeological find.

"Dudes! I could be wrong, but I think that to have a 'gay caveman,' you need a skeleton that is both gay and a caveman. And this ain't either!" John Hawks, an associate professor of anthropology at University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote on his blog in bold type.

Hawks joined a chorus of fellow paleoanthropologists, archaeologists and other bone experts who carefully dissected media reports about the dig, which began to increase after first appearing in British and Czech newspapers.

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Farnham Castle appoints New Chief Executive

Farnham Castle has today announced the appointment of Phil Hackett as its new chief executive. Hackett takes over from Jim Twiss, the former chief executive at the Castle for ten years, who retired last month.

Previously Hackett has worked for some of the country’s finest cultural icons; having managed and promoted over 500 destinations and attractions including museums, galleries, sculpture parks, historic abbeys, castles, stately homes, heritage sites, ancient monuments; World Heritage Sites & areas of outstanding natural beauty. He joins Farnham Castle from Shakespeare Country, the tourist board for Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick, Royal Leamington Spa, Kenilworth, the Cotswolds and the quintessential English market towns and villages in the Heart of England, where he was chief executive for over three years.

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Mystery over Shakespeare's last home

William Shakespeare's last home in Stratford-Upon-Avon is the site of an archaeological dig that hopes to reveal details of the playwright's life, including solving the mystery of what type of house he lived in.

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How Civil War Photography Changed War

Civil War photographers completely changed popular perceptions of modern warfare.

We've all seen photographs of the Civil War: black-and-white images of bearded Union generals or mustachioed Confederate colonels posing to one side of the camera, dead bodies stacked on the battlefield or common soldiers around a camp tent.

Looking back 150 years to the start of the Civil War this month, what impact did photography have on the war? On the people who lived during the time? What do these images tell us today about the soldiers and their families?

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University archaeologists start Tregaron elephant dig

Archaeologists are digging up a pub beer garden in search of a legendary Victorian circus elephant.

The Tregaron Elephant has long had its place in local folklore, and is thought to have been buried behind the town's Talbot Hotel after dying on tour.

The small-scale excavation started on Saturday morning and the hunt for clues about the animal's final resting place will continue until next Thursday.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fall of Roman Empire caused by 'contagion of homosexuality'

A prominent Italian historian has claimed that the Roman Empire collapsed because a "contagion of homosexuality and effeminacy" made it easy pickings for barbarian hordes, sparking a furious row.

Roberto De Mattei, 63, the deputy head of the country's National Research Council, claimed that the empire was fatally weakened after conquering Carthage, which he described as "a paradise for homosexuals".

The remarks prompted angry calls for his resignation, with critics saying his comments were homophobic, offensive and unbecoming of his position.

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'Gay Caveman' Story Overblown, Archaeologists Say

Archaeologists in Prague say they've uncovered a Stone-Age man buried in a position usually reserved for women — but media claims of a "gay caveman" may be exaggerated, according to some researchers.

The skeleton, which dates back to about 2,500 to 2,800 B.C., was found in the outskirts of Prague. The culture the man belonged to (known as the Corded Ware culture for their pottery decorated with the impressions of twisted cord) was very finicky about grave rituals, reported Iranian news network Press TV, which visited the excavation site. According to the Czech news website, Corded Ware males were usually buried on their right sides with their heads facing east. This man, however, was buried on his left with his head facing west — a traditionally female position.

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Archäologie der Schlachtfelder - Konferenz »Fields of Conflict« erstmals in Deutschland

Schlachtfeldarchäologie ist eine junge archäologische Disziplin. Erstmals findet die internationale Konferenz zum Thema »Fields of Conflict« vom 15. bis 18. April in Deutschland statt. Veranstalter sind die Universität Osnabrück und die Varusschlacht im Osnabrücker Land – Museum und Park Kalkriese. Die rund 120 internationalen Konferenzteilnehmer werden sich in Osnabrück und Kalkriese mit antiken aber auch jüngeren militärischen Konflikten beschäftigen.

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Friday, April 08, 2011

Neanderthals: Bad luck and its part in their downfall

AS OUR ancestors moved north out of Africa and onto the doorstep to the rest of the world, they came across their long-lost cousins: the Neanderthals. As the popular story goes, the brutish hominins were simply no match for cultured, intelligent Homo sapiens and quickly went extinct.

Maybe, but it's also possible that Neanderthals were simply unlucky and disappeared by chance, mathematicians propose.

We know that humans and Neanderthals got pretty cosy during their time together in the Middle East, 45,000 years ago. Between 1 and 4 per cent of the DNA of modern non-Africans is of Neanderthal origin, implying their ancestors must have interbred before humans moved into Europe (New Scientist, 15 May 2010, p 8).

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St Bride's Bay grave remains recorded by archaeologists

Archaeologists are excavating early medieval remains from a cemetery before they are washed away by the sea.

It is known the site at St Bride's Bay in Pembrokeshire contains graves that date back to the 9th and 10th Centuries.

The graves are close to the edge of low cliffs, and Dyfed Archaeological Trust is keen to analyse their contents before they disappear.

Thursday is the last day of excavation work before the site is refilled.

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Canterbury’s Roman Theatre revealed

Canterbury’s Roman Theatre has once again taken centre stage. Routine investigations at the north-east end of Castle Street, revealed a section of paving that probably formed part of the orchestra, together with masonry possibly associated with the stage.

Blocks of tightly-jointed, squared blocks of greensand were found in the first trench (0.10m in thickness and on average measuring about 1 by 1.20m) and were laid over a thick bedding of mortared flints.

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iPad Helps Archaeologists

New technology is revolutionizing the precise recording of history at an ancient, lost city, bucking a tradition that has been in place for centuries. University of Cincinnati researchers will present "The Paperless Project: The Use of iPads in the Excavations at Pompeii"* at the 39th annual international conference of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA). The conference takes place April 12-16 in Beijing, China.

UC teams of archaeologists have spent more than a decade at the site of the Roman city that was buried under a volcano in 79 AD. The project is producing a complete archaeological analysis of homes, shops and businesses at a forgotten area inside one of the busiest gates of Pompeii, the Porta Stabia.

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Canterbury site reveals a rich past

An excavation site in Canterbury, south England, has yielded an amazing amount of material, ranging from a 400,000 year old elephant tusk, to items from the more recent past.

The site lies within an important suburb of the Roman, Anglo-Saxon and medieval city and has been intensively used for the past 2000 years.
Roman development

The earliest deposits encountered comprise clay quarries and rubbish pits of the early to mid Roman period (1st – late 3rd centuries AD), perhaps suggesting some form of ribbon development against a Roman road following the line of the present day, St Dunstan’s Street.

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What caused Britain's Bronze Age 'recession'?

A large gap in pre-history could signal that Britain underwent an economic downturn over 2,500 years ago.

In history lessons, the three ages of pre-history - Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age - seem to flow together without a gap.

But there is a 300-year period in British history between around 800 BC and 500 BC where experts still struggle to explain what happened, where bronze is in decline and iron was not widely used.

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Anglo-Saxon 7th Century plough coulter found in Kent

An archaeological discovery by the University of Reading is set to shed new light on the history of farming.

Dr Gabor Thomas and his team have found a 7th Century iron plough coulter during excavations at Lyminge, Kent.

A coulter is a vertical soil slicer mounted like a knife to cut through the soil ahead of a plough share to improve the plough's efficiency.

The coulter, one of the defining features of a 'heavy plough', transformed the landscape of England.

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Bodies found from London's Bedlam hospital

LONDON - Archaeologists have unearthed hundreds of skeletons at a 16th Century burial ground in the heart of the city that once served London’s most notorious psychiatric hospital, the original “Bedlam.”

The bones are expected to yield valuable information about mortality, diet and disease in the period.

They were discovered while experts surveyed a site that is destined to become a new ticket hall for the capital’s huge Crossrail project at Liverpool Street Station.

Opened in 1247, the Bethlehem Royal Hospital began admitting the mentally ill in the 14th Century, eventually becoming known by its middle-English abbreviation Bedlam.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

1,700-year-old African skeleton could be an ancestor

It is hoped a 1,700-year-old African skeleton unearthed in Warwickshire could provide data about the DNA history of later populations and the ethnic origin of modern Britons.

The male skeleton, thought to be of a Roman soldier, was found earlier this year in a Roman cemetery in Stratford.

Discovered by Archaeology Warwickshire, the skeleton is thought to belong to the county's earliest known African.

Further tests aim to determine the man's place of birth.

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Crossrail archaeology dig unearths mass burial ground

Archaeologists surveying the ground at Liverpool Street station in preparation for Crossrail tunnelling have unearthed hundreds of skeletons on the site of a historic mental health hospital.

Opened in 1247, St Bethlehem hospital was the first institution dedicated to mental health patients and is believed to have led to the coining of the word "bedlam".

The site now lies beneath what will be Liverpool Street's new Crossrail ticket hall.

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Monday, April 04, 2011

New funding unveiled for Stonehenge

Plans to transform the surroundings of Stonehenge came another "crucial" step closer today, English Heritage said as new funding was unveiled.

The £27 million project to build a new centre for visitors and close a road adjacent to the World Heritage Site was hit last year when the new Government announced it was cutting £10 million earmarked for the project.

But it received a boost in October when the Heritage Lottery Fund announced it was more than doubling its contribution to the project to £10 million.

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Oldest known written record in Europe discovered

A clay tablet discovered in an excavation in Greece has changed what is known about the origins of literacy and bureaucracy in Bronze Age Southern Europe. Measuring 5cm by 8cm, this tiny tablet fragment is thought to be the earliest known written record in Europe – dating back to between 1450 and 1350 B.C. – 100 to 150 years before the tablets from the Petsas House at Mycenae.

“I was in disbelief,” said Michael Cosmopoulos, the Professor of Greek Studies at University of Missouri–St. Louis (UMSL)U and director of the Iklaina Archaeological Project, which he has directed for 11 years. “According to what we knew, that tablet should not have been there.”

The rare find was unearthed in 2010 at Iklaina, which lies in the middle of an olive grove in southwest Greece.

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Nanotechnology to protect rock tombs in southern Turkey

Nanotechnology, which is the production and use of materials at the smallest possible scale, will be used to restore and protect ancient rock tombs in the Aegean province of Muğla. A project has been prepared and will be presented to TÜBITAK for the protection of tombs with this technology. It will be the first time nanotechnology will be used for protecting cultural assets in Turkey.

The 2,400-year-old rock tombs in Dalyan in the Aegean province of Muğla’s Ortaca district is set to be protected through the use of nanotechnology.

Professor Cengiz Işık, head of excavations at the Kaunos archaeological site, said the idea to protect the rock tombs came up last year during the visit of Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay. It then led to the creation of the Scientific and Technological Council of Turkey, or TÜBITAK’s, Support Program for Research Projects of Public Institutions.

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Friday, April 01, 2011

Action on illegal diving at shipwrecks

English Heritage has issued a warning that action will be taken against anyone illegally accessing, damaging or removing items from protected historic wrecks.

This follows the launch of the Alliance to Reduce Crimes Against Heritage (ARCH) in February with the support of over 40 organisations

English Heritage and the police are increasingly working together to safeguard wreck sites designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. In recent weeks, the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) intercepted divers on the edge of the protected wreck site of the British warship, the Coronation, off Penlee Point, near Plymouth. A number of items in their boat were then taken for analysis to determine if they had been taken from the wreck. Officers are now awaiting specialist assessment of the items to see if further enquiries will need to be carried out

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Longer Pregnancy + Breast-Feeding = Bigger Brains, Longer Life Rea

Advice around breast-feeding can drive new mothers mad, but a new study suggests that the long pregnancies and lactation periods of our prehistoric mamas are responsible for the relatively big brains that differentiate humans from other animals.

By comparing 128 species of mammals, researchers at the University of Durham in England sought to answer this question: do large brains make species live longer by making them smarter in cheating death, or is the longer lifespan of big-brained animals simply the result of the fact that big brains require more care and time to grow?

"We already know that large-brained species develop slowly, mature later and have longer lifespans but what has not always been clear is why brains and life histories are related," said Robert Barton, lead author of the research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in a press release.

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Ancient Tablet Found: Oldest Readable Writing in Europe

Marks on a clay tablet fragment found in Greece are the oldest known decipherable text in Europe, a new study says.

Considered "magical or mysterious" in its time, the writing survives only because a trash heap caught fire some 3,500 years ago, according to researchers.

Found in an olive grove in what's now the village of Iklaina (map), the tablet was created by a Greek-speaking Mycenaean scribe between 1450 and 1350 B.C., archaeologists say.

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