Friday, August 18, 2017

Viking Borgring Fortress Discovered In Denmark

The Borgring fortress was discovered using airborne laser technology. It was built during the reign of the  Viking king Harald Bluetooth in the 10th century 
[Credit: Goodchild et al./Antiquity 2017]

A rare archaeological discovery has brought to light a historic 10th century Viking fortress to the south of Copenhagen.

The Borgring fortress is an incredibly accurate circular shape, measuring about 150 metres in diameter. It is the first of its kind to be found in Denmark for 60 years. The findings are published in a study in the journal Antiquity.

The structure is one of the Trelleborg-type fortresses that have a distinctive overall shape and internal structure. The earthworks, houses and other structures are meticulously arranged within the fortress. They have V-shaped ditches that are precisely circular, with four gates at the four points of the compass.

The Borgring fortress had been tentatively identified in the 1970s, but the technology was lacking then to verify whether it really was a Trelleborg-type fortress, study author Søren Michael Sindbæk of Aarhus University, told IBTimes UK.

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Bronze Age tombs unearthed during car park construction in Switzerland

The burial site of a Bronze Age warrior has revealed yet more treasures 
[Credit: SBMA - ARIA SA]

Workers digging the foundations for a new car park have unearthed the burial site of a Bronze Age warrior, revealing a rich source of artefacts including a sword, jewellery and other ornaments. 

The tombs were discovered in Sion, a town in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. The artefacts were dated between 850 and 400 BC – a period when the Bronze Age was giving way to the second Iron Age.

A bronze sword with an ivory pommel was discovered among the remains of an adult male, along with numerous other ornaments, including a razor.

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13 million-year-old infant ape skull discovered in the Turkana Basin

Alesi partially excavated after careful removal of loose sand and rocks with dental picks and brushes. © Isaiah Nengo.

The discovery in Kenya of a remarkably complete fossil ape skull reveals what the common ancestor of all living apes and humans may have looked like. The find, announced in the scientific journal Nature on August 10th, belongs to an infant that lived about 13 million years ago. The research was done by an international team led by Isaiah Nengo of the Turkana Basin Institute and De Anza College, U.S.A.

Among living primates, humans are most closely related to the apes, including chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and gibbons. Our common ancestor with chimpanzees lived in Africa 6 to 7 million years ago, and many spectacular fossil finds have revealed how humans evolved since then.

In contrast, little is known about the evolution of the common ancestors of living apes and humans before 10 million years ago. Relevant fossils are scarce, consisting mostly of isolated teeth and partial jaw bones. It has therefore been difficult to find answers to two fundamental questions: Did the common ancestor of living apes and humans originate in Africa, and what did these early ancestors look like?

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New 13-million-year-old infant skull sheds light on ape ancestry

Alesi, the skull of the new extinct ape species Nyanzapithecus alesi (KNM-NP 59050)
[Credit: Fred Spoor]

The discovery in Kenya of a remarkably complete fossil ape skull reveals what the common ancestor of all living apes and humans may have looked like. The find, announced in the scientific journal Nature, belongs to an infant that lived about 13 million years ago. The research was done by an international team led by Isaiah Nengo of Stony Brook University-affiliated Turkana Basin Institute and De Anza College, U.S.A.

Among living primates, humans are most closely related to the apes, including chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and gibbons. Our common ancestor with chimpanzees lived in Africa 6 to 7 million years ago, and many spectacular fossil finds have revealed how humans evolved since then.

In contrast, little is known about the evolution of the common ancestors of living apes and humans before 10 million years ago. Relevant fossils are scarce, consisting mostly of isolated teeth and partial jaw bones. It has therefore been difficult to find answers to two fundamental questions: Did the common ancestor of living apes and humans originate in Africa, and what did these early ancestors look like?

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Friday, August 11, 2017

home UK politics world sport football opinion culture business lifestyle fashion environment tech travel browse all sections Archaeology The bone collector: eccentric archaeological treasury to be digitised

Calvin Wells a GP and palaeopathologist whose work continues to be cited. His quirky sense of humour, however, was not to everyone’s taste. Photograph: University of Bradford

An archaeological treasury – the voluminous collection of papers, slides, research notes, recordings, jokey postcards, and miscellaneous bits of long-dead human beings collected by the late Calvin Wells – is to be digitised to make it available in its eccentric entirety to scholars for the first time.

The archive, for which the University of Bradford has won a grant of almost £140,000 from the Wellcome Trust, includes thousands of the “bone reports” for which Wells became famous. The reports were based on boxes of human remains sent by archaeologists to Wells’s home and studied on the kitchen table.

Wells, a Norfolk-based GP is regarded as a founding figure of the discipline of palaeopathology, the study of ancient diseases. Professor Charlotte Roberts, president of the British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology, said the archive would be invaluable for researchers: “Calvin Wells remains one of the most prolific publishers from the UK in this field today, who studied a diversity of subject matter from artistic representations of disease in the past to mummified remains. In many instances his publications were ‘firsts’ and continue to be cited in our field today.”

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DNA from Viking cod bones suggests 1,000-year history of European fish trade


UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE—Norway is famed for its cod. Catches from the Arctic stock that spawns each year off its northern coast are exported across Europe for staple dishes from British fish and chips to Spanish bacalao stew.

Now, a new study published today in the journal PNAS suggests that some form of this pan-European trade in Norwegian cod may have been taking place for 1,000 years.

Latest research from the universities of Cambridge and Oslo, and the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology in Schleswig, used ancient DNA extracted from the remnants of Viking-age fish suppers.

The study analysed five cod bones dating from between 800 and 1066 AD found in the mud of the former wharves of Haithabu, an early medieval trading port on the Baltic. Haithabu is now a heritage site in modern Germany, but at the time was ruled by the King of the Danes.

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'I've got some Viking': English villagers surprised by DNA test results

DNA testing of residents of ancient village of Bledington showed genetic heritage spanning 18 locations around the world. Photograph: Simon Pizzey/AncesteryDNA/PA

The residents of the Cotswold village of Bledington were entitled to see themselves as the quintessential English villagers, blessed with a village green, stream, medieval church, Kings Head pub, mention in the Domesday Book, even a Victorian maypole. However, a DNA survey, one of the most comprehensive attempts to capture an entire village, has revealed their surprisingly diverse origins.

The village was classified as white British in ethnic origin from census data, but the saliva samples contributed by almost 120 of the residents – including the pub landlord, a farmer, an artist, a marketing director and the village historian – told another story: not a single individual of those tested was 100% English.

Just 42.5% of their DNA was Anglo-Saxon in origin: other ancestry derived from Europe, from Finland to Spain, the Celtic nations, including Scotland, Wales and Ireland, Native American, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Melanesia.

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Christopher Kissane: ‘Historical myopia is to blame for the attacks on Mary Beard’

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ‘legitimises autocracy with historical myths’.
Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
2017 Anadolu Agency

On the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the historian calls for an end to the trivialisation of the lessons of the past

Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther sparked a movement of Reformation that would leave indelible marks on European history. While some have used this anniversary as an opportunity for reflection, and others a chance to heal old wounds, 2017 finds us in an age of intense historical myopia. Breathless news cycles and furious outrage are shrinking our horizons just as they need to widen. Public debate barely remembers the world of last year, “old news”, let alone that of a decade or few ago.

History’s expertise, and most dangerously its perspective, are being lost in our inability to look beyond the here and now. We stumble into crises of finance and inequality with ignorance of economic history, and forget even the recent background to our current politics. We fail to think in the long term and miss a growing environmental catastrophe. We refuse help to millions of refugees by turning away from our own history. As technology and globalisation bring the world closer together, we have narrowed rather than broadened our perspective. With challenges on many fronts, history needs to be at the heart of how we think about our ever-changing world.

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Engraved bones are 'evidence of cannibalistic rituals by early humans'

The researchers suggest the engravings may have been part of an elaborate post-death ritual carried that culminated in the deceased being eaten. Photograph: Bello et al (2017)
Engraved bones unearthed in a Somerset cave have revealed new evidence of macabre cannibalistic rituals carried out by early humans in Britain.
The latest analysis of the bones, which were first discovered in the 1980s in Gough’s Cave in the Cheddar Gorge, show signs of having been filleted using sophisticated butchery techniques, decorated and gnawed by fellow humans around 15,000 years ago.
Previous investigations of the remains, belonging to a three-year-old child, two adolescents and at least two adults, already pointed to the grisly possibility that the individuals had been eaten by fellow early modern humans.
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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Mary Beard is right – ‘Romans’ could be from anywhere, from Carlisle to Cairo


Mary Beard has faced ‘unnecessary insult, misogyny and language of war’ for defending the BBC cartoon.

The classics professor’s naysayers refuse to believe ancient civilisations could have been anything but Caucasian, but there is evidence that proves them wrong.

The wonderful Mary Beard has been sucked into another Twitter row – where she faced, in her words, “unnecessary insult, misogyny and language of war”. This latest tussle has been about her defence (which, as usual, was measured, graceful and – above all – well-informed) of a BBC cartoon showing a Roman British family with a black father. For some people this was infuriating, disgusting: a politically correct piece of anachronistic nonsense, throwing modern multicultural values back on to the past. And yet, as Prof Beard has pointed out, of course it is perfectly possible, even pretty likely, that such families existed in Roman Britain, and an entirely reasonable thing for the BBC cartoon to have posited.

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Sunday, August 06, 2017

Scientists uncover secrets of 12 Christian relics in Paris

Alexandre Gérard examines one of the apostle statues. Photo: AFP

Scientists in Paris are cracking the mystery of the 12 apostle statues that sat atop the Gothic marvel of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris for five centuries.

Having lost their heads, been pulled from their plinths, smashed and even buried, things are at last looking up for some of the unluckiest statues in Christendom.
   
For five centuries the 12 apostles looked down on the adoring hordes who marvelled at the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, arguably the greatest Gothic edifice ever build.
   
Standing between its spectacular stained glass windows -- one of the wonders of the medieval world -- they could have been forgiven for feeling smug having survived the Reformation without a scratch.
   
But the statues were caught in the whirlwind of not just one French revolution but two, and since then history has been less than kind.

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Construction of a Luxury Hotel is Continuing in Sofia Despite the Discovery of an Ancient Roman Necropolis


Work was in full swing at the building site of the first Hyatt hotel in Bulgaria, in the centre of the capital, Sofia, on Monday, Balkaninsight reported. 

While numerous machines laid concrete and strengthened the foundations of the future 190-room five-star hotel, a team of archaeologists with an excavator was carefully digging a rare find out of the ground.

They recently discovered an ancient Roman tomb – part of the eastern side of the necropolis of the Roman city of Serdica, which lies under Bulgaria’s capital – which could soon be buried under the luxury new hotel.

The same fate has already befallen six other tombs discovered at the construction site in April.
They were recently covered up by the construction company, Tera Tour Service, sparkling public outrage.

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Miles of forgotten first world war trenches unearthed in England

Trenches at Larkhill are clearly visible through the chalk backfill. 
Photograph: © WYG/Wessex Archaeology

Vast extent of the fortifications surprises archaeologists who used new technology and the knowledge of local historians

The full extent of the networks of trenches and defensive fortifications built in England during the first world war has been revealed in the first major survey of its kind.

Detailing how resources were concentrated along England’s eastern and southern coasts – where the main thrust by an invading German army was expected to come – the study draws on existing periodicals and local history as well as LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) data gleaned from the use of lasers by the Environment Agency to plot the bumps and dips of British topography.

“We are all very aware of the defence of Britain in the second world war, but people don’t tend to think that the same threat was there during the first world war,” said Martin Brown, an archaeologist who led the research for government body Historic England.

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'Monumental' 16th century city walls unearthed by Antwerp tram work

Belgian archaeologists inspect a 16th century fortification unearthed after tram works in Antwerp, Belgium 
[Credit: Christopher Stern, Reuters]

Archaeologists in Antwerp have spent the last two weeks excavating parts of a six-metre-high (20-foot) fortified wall that was built around the Belgian city 500 years ago.

The ruins were exposed during preparations for a massive infrastructure project on a major boulevard, including tunnels and a new tram line. 

"When we compare to other cities, it was really a monumental and impressive masterpiece already at that time, and still," archaeologist Femke Martens told Reuters, while standing between two unearthed pillars of what was a bridge to the Red Gate.

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Contents of 2,500-year-old sarcophagus discovered in Turkey's Balıkesir revealed


Researchers at the ancient Greek city of Antandrus, located in Turkey's Balıkesir province, have discovered the remains of a woman and a man, as well as numerous artifacts inside a 2,500-year-old sarcophagus, reports said Sunday.

According to a statement by project leader Professor Gürcan Polat from Ege University, the excavations, which started on July 10, shed light to the 5th Century sarcophagus.
"The bones most probably belonged to the people from the same family" Polat said.
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Meet the mummified Polar beauty, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

She has long eyelashes, a full head of hair - and impressive teeth. Picture: Irina Sharova

Unearthed on the edge of the Arctic, she is the only woman so far found in an otherwise all-male necropolis, buried in a cocoon of copper and fur.

This haunting 12th century woman is a member of an unknown hunting and fishing civilisation that held sway in the far north of Siberia - with surprising links to Persia.

Accidentlally mummified and probably aged around 35, her delicate features are visible, the green tinge on her face being the traces of the pieces of a copper kettle that helped preserve her in her permafrost grave. 

Bronze temple rings were found close to her skull, wrapped inside animal skin - possibly reindeer  - and birch bark that cocooned her. 

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Ancient Greek quarry in Marseille 'partly classified' as historic monument

The Greek quarry dating from the 5th century BC in Marseille is going to be partly classified 
as a Historical Monument [Credit: AFP/Bertrand Langlois]

Discovered by chance during the construction of a building in the center of Marseille, a Greek quarry dating from the 5th century BC will be partly classified.

This represents a first victory for the residents against the French city’s authorities who were planning to build on the historic site, according to a report by French Agency, AFP.

“It’s a great step forward,” exclaimed with a smile a resident of the Sandrine Rolengo district where the quarry was discovered.

Minister of Culture Françoise Nyssen, who visited the site recently, decided to protect part of the site.

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Slawische und eisenzeitliche Siedlung bei Theißen entdeckt

Blick auf die Ausgrabungsfläche mit Gruben und weiteren Befunden der slawischen Siedlung. 
Foto © LDA Sachsen-Anhalt

Bei Ausgrabungen im Zuge des Neubaus der Ortsumfahrung östlich des Zeitzer Ortsteils Theißen (Burgenlandkreis) wurden die Überreste einer ländlichen mittelslawischen Siedlung des 8.-10. Jh. und Siedlungsbefunde aus der Eisenzeit freigelegt. Die ältesten Befunde sind eine Hockerbestattung aus dem Endneolithikum und eine glockenbecherzeitliche umgebettete Bestattung.

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Thursday, August 03, 2017

The Greeks really do have near-mythical origins, ancient DNA reveals

A Mycenaean woman depicted on a fresco at Mycenae on mainland Greece.

Ever since the days of Homer, Greeks have long idealized their Mycenaean “ancestors” in epic poems and classic tragedies that glorify the exploits of Odysseus, King Agamemnon, and other heroes who went in and out of favor with the Greek gods. Although these Mycenaeans were fictitious, scholars have debated whether today’s Greeks descend from the actual Mycenaeans, who created a famous civilization that dominated mainland Greece and the Aegean Sea from about 1600 B.C.E. to 1200 B.C.E., or whether the ancient Mycenaeans simply vanished from the region.

Now, ancient DNA suggests that living Greeks are indeed the descendants of Mycenaeans, with only a small proportion of DNA from later migrations to Greece. And the Mycenaeans themselves were closely related to the earlier Minoans, the study reveals, another great civilization that flourished on the island of Crete from 2600 B.C.E. to 1400 B.C.E. (named for the mythical King Minos).

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Archaeologists uncover 'little Pompeii' in southeast France

Archaeologists work on a mosaic on July 31, 2017, on the archaeological antiquity site of Sainte-Colombe, near Vienne, eastern France. Remains of an entire neighbourhood of the Roman city of Vienne have been uncovered in Sainte-Colombe, with lavish residences decorated with mosaics, a philosophy school and shops. The dig of the site, discovered prior to housing construction on a parcel of 5000 m2, began in April 2017 and was due to last six months, but have been extended to December 15, 2017, after the site was classified as an "exceptional discovery" by the French Culture Minsitry 
[Credit: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP]

A "little Pompeii" is how French archaeologists are describing an entire ancient Roman neighbourhood uncovered on the outskirts of the southeastern city of Vienne, featuring remarkably preserved remains of luxury homes and public buildings.

"We're unbelievably lucky. This is undoubtedly the most exceptional excavation of a Roman site in 40 or 50 years," said Benjamin Clement, the archaeologist leading the dig on the banks of the Rhone river, about 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of Lyon.

The city of Vienne -- famous for its Roman theatre and temple -- was an important hub on the route connecting northern Gaul with the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis in southern France.

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Mammut und viel Rohkost

Hinterkopf-Knochen eines anatomisch modernen Menschen der Fundstelle Buran-Kaya III. 
(© S. Prat)

Senckenberg-Wissenschaftler haben die Ernährung des anatomisch modernen Menschen untersucht. Sie konnten in ihrer aktuellen Studie widerlegen, dass sich der frühe Homo sapiens-Vertreter flexibler ernährte, als die Neandertaler.

Auf den Tellern unserer Vorfahren landeten, wie bei den Neandertalern, überwiegend Mammutfleisch und Pflanzen – eine Ernährung mit Fisch konnte nicht nachgewiesen werden. Das internationale Team vermutet daher, dass die Verdrängung der Neandertaler durch eine direkte Konkurrenzsituation erfolgte.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Etruscans Were Expert Beekeepers, Ancient Honeycombs Suggest

Scientists discovered charred honeycombs, preserved honeybees (shown here) and honeybee products on the floor of a workshop at an Etruscan trade center in Milan, Italy.
Credit: Lorenzo Castellano

The charred remains of 2,500-year-old honeycombs, as well as other beekeeping artifacts, have been discovered in an Etruscan workshop in northern Italy.

The findings included the remains of a unique grapevine honey produced by traveling beekeepers along rivers, according to a new study.

"The importance of beekeeping in the ancient world is well known through an abundance of iconographic, literary, archaeometric and ethnographic [or cultural] sources," Lorenzo Castellano, a graduate student at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University and first author of the new study, told Live Science. (In archaeometry, scientists use physical, chemical and mathematical analyses to study archaeological sites.)

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Archaeology: More than 80 mediaeval tombs found at Bulgaria’s Perperikon


Professor Nikolai Ovcharov’s archaeological team working at the ancient sacred site of Perperikon in Bulgaria has discovered more than 80 tombs in a necropolis estimated to date from the 12th to the 14th centuries CE.
The number of tombs found, in the southern section of Perperikon, is expected to increase to more than 100, an announcement about the July 2017 find said.
Ovcharov said that in 2016, his archaeological dig team had uncovered 37 tombs, containing what he described as some very interesting finds, including earrings, other jewellery and beautiful ornaments.
Referring to the new finds, Ovcharov said: “At this stage we have not opened the graves, this year we decided to photograph the necropolis in its entirety, and later, in August, we shall open them and see what their contents are”.

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Mittelalterliches Gehöft in Velen-Ramsdorf freigelegt


In Velen-Ramsdorf (Kreis Borken) haben Archäologen des Landschaftsverbandes Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) bei Ausgrabungen im Vorfeld von Bauarbeiten Reste von Häusern aus dem Mittelalter entdeckt. Auf einer Fläche von 1.500 Quadratmetern standen auf dem geplanten Neubaugebiet einst drei Holzbauten, die zu einem bäuerlichen Gehöft gehörten.

Nachdem der Oberboden mit einem Bagger abgetragen wurde zeichneten sich die ehemaligen Pfosten der Häuser als dunkle Verfärbungen im Boden ab. So konnten die LWL-Archäologen die Grundrisse rekonstruieren. Das größte Haus war 22,5 Meter lang.

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Bronze Age Iberia received fewer Steppe invaders than the rest of Europe

Archaeological remains of individual MC337 excavated from the site of Hipogeu de Monte Canelas I, Portugal, and analysed by the archaeologist Rui Parreira and the anthropologist Ana Maria Silva.
Credit: Rui Parreira

The genomes of individuals who lived on the Iberian Peninsula in the Bronze Age had minor genetic input from Steppe invaders, suggesting that these migrations played a smaller role in the genetic makeup and culture of Iberian people, compared to other parts of Europe. Daniel Bradley and Rui Martiniano of Trinity College Dublin, in Ireland, and Ana Maria Silva of University of Coimbra, Portugal, report these findings July 27, 2017 in PLOS Genetics.
Between the Middle Neolithic (4200-3500 BC) and the Middle Bronze Age (1740-1430 BC), Central and Northern Europe received a massive influx of people from the Steppe regions of Eastern Europe and Asia. Archaeological digs in Iberia have uncovered changes in culture and funeral rituals during this time, but no one had looked at the genetic impact of these migrations in this part of Europe. Researchers sequenced the genomes of 14 individuals who lived in Portugal during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages and compared them to other ancient and modern genomes. In contrast with other parts of Europe, they detected only subtle genetic changes between the Portuguese Neolithic and Bronze Age samples resulting from small-scale migration. However, these changes are more pronounced on the paternal lineage.
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Malaria already endemic in the Mediterranean by the Roman period

Malaria was already widespread on Sardinia by the Roman period, long before the Middle Ages, as indicated by research at the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine of the University of Zurich with the help of a Roman who died 2,000 years ago.
Even today, Malaria is one of the greatest medical challenges worldwide, killing hundreds of thousands of people every year. In the past, people have adapted to the threat of malaria in various ways. These methods range from interventions in the environment like draining swamps, to genetic adaptations in the human body.

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Tomb depicting famous gladiator brawl discovered in Pompeii


A brawl between gladiators that ended in tragedy, narrated by Tacitus, and a mysterious character that probably died in it is a 2,000-year-old mystery of Pompeii brought to light by a marble monumental tomb with the longest funerary epigraph ever found. The excavation was connected with the rehabilitation of state-owned property as part of the Great Pompeii Project in the San Paolino area near Porta Stabia, one of the accesses to the ancient city.

The tombstone was made shortly before the eruption that destroyed Pompeii in 69 AD and was presented on Thursday in the archaeological area. The inscription is over 4 meters long, in seven narrative registers, and though it does not include the deceased's name, it describes in detail the major events in the life of the man buried within it: from the acquisition of the 'toga virilis' to his wedding, and describes the munificent activities that accompanied such events such as public banquets, largess, the holding of gladiatorial games and battling large beasts.


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Medieval men were diagnosed with infertility and prescribed treatments

Some medieval medical books had unusual advice to help improve men’s fertility. 
Credit: University of Exeter

Men could be held responsible for the failure to produce children as far back as medieval times, a new study of medical and religious texts has shown.

The analysis of popular medical and religious books by the University of Exeter shows that from the 13th century, widely-circulated medical texts recognised the possibility of male infertility, including sterility and 'unsuitable seed'.

A urine test to determine if a husband or a wife was to blame for the absence of children in a marriage was even devised, and medical recipes drawn up as a treatment for men.

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Archaeology: Ancient stone baptismal vessel found at Plovdiv’s Episcopal Basilica site


A team of archaeologists coming to the close of a 10-month project at Plovdiv’s Episcopal Basilica site have found a stone baptismal vessel given to the basilica by a Bishop Makedonii, possibly dating from some time in the fifth century.
The 10-month archaeological excavations at the 2500 square metre site come to a close this week, and it is expected that early in the week beginning on July 31, the site will be visited by a commission from the Ministry of Culture.
Archaeological team leader Zheni Tankova expressed thanks to the America for Bulgaria Foundation, which together with Plovdiv municipality “gave the opportunity to reveal this truly amazing monument of architecture, culture, art and religion”.
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16th century copy of Hesiod examined with different imaging techniques by Northwestern researchers 
[Credit: Emeline Pouyet]

After being hidden for centuries, the secrets within medieval manuscripts might soon come to light. By fusing two imaging techniques — visible hyperspectral imaging and x-ray fluorescence — an interdisciplinary team of Northwestern University researchers has developed a new, non-destructive technology that gives access to medieval texts hidden inside of ancient bookbindings.

Between the 15th and 18th centuries, bookbinders recycled the bindings from medieval parchments into new binding materials for printed books. While scholars have long been aware that books from this time period often contain hidden fragments of earlier manuscripts, they never had the means to read them.

“For generations, scholars have thought this information was inaccessible, so they thought, ‘Why bother?’” said Marc Walton, senior scientist at the Northwestern University-Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies (NU-ACCESS). “But now computational imaging and signal processing advances open up a whole new way to read these texts.”

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