Saturday, September 30, 2006


A rare piece of Viking gold that was discovered in the possessions of a deceased builder from York has finally gone on display at the Yorkshire Museum.

The pure gold armband weighing three quarters of a Kilogram is only the third of its type ever to be found in Britain and Ireland and experts at the museum believe it would have been worn by one of the richest people living in Viking York, then called Jorvik.

Following its discovery two years ago when the relatives of the builder took it to their local finds liaison officer the armband was declared treasure by a coroners’ court. The York Museum Trust, which runs the Yorkshire Museum, was successful in applying for funding to purchase the arm ring and it will go on display in the next few weeks.

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Kids to be archaeologists as new building could uncover a Roman camp

TODAY it's home to a Leeds school with more than 1,000 students.

But backtrack 2,000 years and the site of Allerton High in Moortown could have been occupied by soldiers from one of history's largest empires.

The east end of the site may have once contained a Roman camp, it has been discovered.
The discovery was made by surveyors preparing for a new £25m school to replace the current buildings in two years.

In the meantime, a group of Allerton pupils aged 11 and 12 studying the Romans will be taking part in an official archaeology dig to investigate the site.

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Medieval finds of what could be 'lost village'

A PLOUGHED field on the outskirts of Nuneaton could be the site of the lost medieval settlement of Copston Parva.

Dozens volunteered to become archaeological sleuths for the day in a bid to unearth clues and pinpoint the exact location of the long-forgotten Warwickshire village.

About 100 people converged on farmland between Nuneaton and Hinckley - and they discovered "huge amounts" of medieval material.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Armring found by builder's son is bought by museum

Pure gold... rare piece of Viking jewellery returns to the city of York

ONE of the rarest pieces of Viking gold jewellery to be found in Britain or Ireland has returned to the City of York.

The arm ring – weighing 325 grammes – was found among the possessions of a former builder after the 88-year-old man died in February, 2004.

It was taken to York coroner, Donald Coverdale, by Douglas Ingle who found the ring while sorting through his father's belongings and realised it had archaeological importance.

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1,600-year-old dog found in Roman well at Liss

ARCHAEOLOGISTS digging on the site of a Roman settlement in Liss have discovered the skeleton of a dog they believe was offered as a gift to the gods 1,600 years ago. Archaeozoologist Sheila Hamilton-Dyer, told The Herald it was not uncommon to find dogs at the bottom of Roman wells and “Brutus” , as the Liss volunteers have christened the remains, was probably placed in the well by Roman settlers. “Dogs are found at the bottom of Roman wells on about half of the sites excavated,” she told The Herald. “It’s probably associated with the fact that they were associated with death, and I think this dog was already dead when it was thrown or placed in the well, judging by the ‘floppy’ way it was lying.”

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rare Iron Age settlement is about to be unearthed

ARCHAEOLOGISTS will soon be uncovering a rare Iron Age settlement in a North Somerset village.

The ancient site at Goblin Combe Environmental Centre in Cleeve is the only known Iron Age settlement in Britain not to have been dug up.

The trees and plants currently covering the site will be cleared this winter in preparation for a team of archaeologists to study the site in detail.

A group of 45 pupils from Broadoak Mathematics and Computing College in Weston started the work this week by helping clear some trees.

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Oxford archaeologists want to join studies on Iran's salt men

"A group of Oxford University archaeologists has prepared a plan, asking to participate in the study, and the Center for Archaeological Research is investigating the plan," Abolfazl Aali told the Persian service of CHN on Wednesday

"The archaeologists will be invited to the project if their plan is approved by the center. The collaboration would be a good experience for both sides," he added.

Last year, pieces of clothing and DNA samples from three of the four ancient salt men were sent to Oxford University for carbon-14 dating.

"The Chehrabad Salt Mine is one of the world's unique ancient sites, but there are also similar sites in other countries where their archaeologists have had many experiences, which could be helpful for us," Aali said.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Neanderthal 'butcher's shop' found near Somme

Neanderthal finds are like prehistoric buses. You wait for tens of thousands of years, and then two important revelations come along together.

French and Belgian archaeologists have found proof that Neanderthals - mankind's closest relatives - were living in near-tropical conditions, hunting rhinoceros and elephant, close to what is now France's Channel coast 125,000 years ago.

No traces of Neanderthal activity have previously been found in north-west Europe during this period - a 15,000-year interval between two ice ages.

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Archaeologists excavating a Roman settlement in Liss believe they have unearthed the remains of a dog over 1,600 years after it fell down a well.

The curious incident of the dog from the fourth century has led to a modern day investigation in a field at the village.

The ill fated mutt came to a sad end at the bottom of a well.

More than 1,600 years later, its skeleton has been recovered by amateur archaeologists carrying out excavation work on the settlement.

The remarkably well preserved remains are currently being analysed by an expert in animal bones.

Meanwhile, the dog has been given a suitably Roman name by the archaeologists – Brutus.

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Secret Death Chamber Found in Temple of Apollo

Underneath the Temple of Apollo in the Hierapolis located near Denizli, Turkey, archaeologists have made an astounding discovery. There is a tunnel underneath the temple leading from a death pit outside to a secret chamber under the main temple where priests may have secretly prepared the sacrifices made outside - and this is all related to the famed hot springs which even today bring in large numbers of tourists.

In this way, a sacrifice tossed into the pit would seem to miraculously appear, fully prepared, in the temple not long after. That doesn't sound so amazing, except for one fact: the death pit killed instantly due to large amounts of poisonous gasses from a geologic fault that the temple was built over. No one could approach or enter the pit, so no one would suspect priests being able to enter to retrieve the sacrifice, with or without an underground tunnel.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Croatian Apoxyomenos in Italy

The Croatian Apoxyomenos in Italy

Apoxyomenos, The Athlete of Croatia will be on view in the Medici Riccardi
Palace in Florence between 30th September 2006 and 30th July 2007. The ancient bronze statue Apoxyomenos, the figure of a young athlete, was
found in 1996 by a Belgian tourist under the sea off the little island
near Losinj in Croatia. The statue was lying on a sandy seabed, stuck
between two rocks, at a depth of approximately 45 m.

Information from Andrea Devlahovic

For more info, please visit:


Location: Arkansas Length: 6 min.

Life as a cultural resource management (CRM) field archaeologist might not be what you expect. In this sequel to our first video spinoff of the Shovel Bum zine, T-Bone tells about a freeway project near Texarkana, Arkansas. Irate landowners, scenic delights, large snakes, night-screaming roommates, and backbiting co-workers all help to portray the "shovel bum lifestyle." In this episode by the University of New Mexico's Troy Lovata, T-Bone (using Trent's real voice) and Betsy finally get fed up with the scene in Arkansas and head west to greener pastures.

Watch the video...

8,400-year old settlement unearthed in İzmir’s Ulucak tumulus

A team of archaeologists working at the Ulucak tumulus, located in İzmir's Kemalpaşa district, have unearthed a Neolithic settlement area dating back some 8,400 years, an archaeologist announced last week.

Archaeologist Fulya Dedeoğlu of Ege University told the Doğan News Agency that excavations had been under way in the area since 1995.

She said they believed their latest discovery could be the oldest settlement dating from the Neolithic period unearthed to date and added that further excavations on the lower levels could reveal even older remains.

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Bulgarian archaeologists and criminal groups were in a race to find ancient treasures first, an article in The Guardian named Bulgaria Fights to Save its Golden Past from the Curse of the Gangsters said.

A number of Thracian treasures have already been found on the territory of Bulgaria, the report said. These artifacts were about to disprove claims that the Thracians were “barbarian race whose greatest contribution to history was Spartacus, the slave who rebelled against Rome.”

At the same time, criminal groups proved sometimes more skillful and faster than archaeologists and managed to unearth ancient treasures first, The Guardian said.

Some Thracian treasures could even rival findings from ancient Troy, the report said. Among the most impressive pieces were a solid gold mask and a platinum dagger found recently.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Fragments from a sacred landscape

To the untrained eye it looks like a piece of rubble. For archaeologists however, this 4,000 year-old fragment is part of the one of the most significant discoveries in Norwich for more than 60 years.

It was unearthed at an excavation in Ber Street and is believed to come from a Bronze Age Round Barrow - also thought to be the first ever found in the heart of the city.

Giles Emery, project officer for NAU which is part of Norfolk Property Services (NPS), said: “The monument would have measured up to 20m in diameter, consisting of a central burial or cremation covered by a circular mound surrounded by a ditch and bank.

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Money runs out for excavating oldest church

The tourist development venture at a Christian altar found at the Megiddo Prison, considered the world’s oldest church dating to the third of fourth century CE, has been halted because of a lack of money. The Israel Antiquities Authority financed the excavations and preservation of the site for years, but says it can no longer bear the cost.

Since the relevant authorities have not allocated the necessary resources to dedicate the site and develop it into a global tourist attraction, the Antiquities Authority has had to cover the ruins with sand and a tarpaulin in order to preserve them. The purpose is to prevent natural or human-induced damage to the uncovered mosaic. The decision is reversible, and if and when money is found to continue development of the site, the Antiquities Authority can continue activity at the dig to prepare it for visitors.

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Archaeologist gagged by power firm

ENERGY chiefs have been accused of gagging one of Scotland's leading archaeologists after he discovered that proposed power lines would run through the site of a major "lost" battlefield.

Dr Tony Pollard has pinpointed the precise location of the 1715 Battle of Sheriffmuir, but the firm that commissioned the work, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), will not let him reveal his findings due to "legal advice".

SSE is already facing growing environmental opposition to its plans for a £320m, 137-mile string of pylons from Beauly in Inverness-shire to Denny in Stirlingshire.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

National Geographic Channel Seeks The Historical Truth In SEARCH FOR NOAH′S ARK

National Geographic Channel Investigates The Latest Clues And Competing Theories In The SEARCH FOR NOAH′S ARK

"There′s an Indiana Jones kind of quality to it - you′ve got a secret map for a priceless treasure."

It is a tale of divine punishment, human survival ...and historical truth? In one of the seminal stories of the Bible, Noah is handpicked by God to build an ark and save his family and the animals of the earth from a catastrophic worldwide flood meant to punish human beings for their wicked ways. Strikingly similar stories have been told for thousands of years in the Middle East and among North and South American Indian cultures. Is this a remarkable coincidence or a conceivable - and provable - historical fact?

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Tolbooth found in Capital's facelift

THE remains of Edinburgh's medieval tolbooth have been unearthed during road repairs on the Royal Mile.

Historians have always known the tolbooth was located somewhere between St Giles' Cathedral and the City Chambers, but until now had been unable to pinpoint its location.

The archaeological investigations, carried out as part of a £1.5 million upgrade of the Royal Mile, have discovered a large section of the lost building's northern wall which they believe dates to the late 14th century.

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That huge gap between us and the cavemen is getting smaller all the time

The remains of a neanderthal settlement have been found on the Rock of Gibraltar, carbon-dated to just 24,000 years ago. This is 10,000 years later than the last known remains and, according to the rampant neanderthal lobby, brings these lovable people almost to the present day. It proves to those who have championed their cause that every discovery about neanderthals has them surviving longer than was previously thought.

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Life on the edge: was a Gibraltar cave last outpost of the lost neanderthal?

The final resting place of the last neanderthals may have been unearthed by fossil-hunters excavating deep inside a cave in Gibraltar.

Primitive stone tools and remnants from wood fires recovered from the vast Gorham's cave on the easternmost face of the Rock suggest neanderthals found refuge there, and clung to life for thousands of years after they had died out elsewhere.

Carbon dating of charcoal fragments excavated alongside spear points and basic cutting tools indicates the cave was home to a group of around 15 neanderthals at least 28,000 years ago, and possibly as recently as 24,000 years ago. Previously uncovered remains lead scientists to believe the neanderthals died out in Europe and elsewhere some 35,000 years ago.

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Romanian archaeologists discover Roman stronghold

Romanian archaeologists have unearthed an unknown Roman stronghold dating back more than 2,000 years in the southwest Mehedinti County, Romanian Rompres news agency reported on Wednesday.

The archaeologists discovered that the fortification, in the Izvoarele locality, was from the time of the Roman emperor Diocletian, showing that it was built after the Romans withdrew their armies from Dacia (271-274 BC). The fortification was one of the strongholds in the defence system built by the Romans along the Danube.

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Neanderthal's last stand

Gibraltar may have been the last refuge of the Neanderthals, according to the results of a six-year archaeological dig.

The findings, which show that Neanderthals lived alongside modern humans for thousands of years, bring fresh evidence to the debate on what happened to our evolutionary cousins, and whether modern humans drove them to extinction.

Clive Finlayson from the Gibraltar Museum and his colleagues found Neanderthal artefacts in a site called Gorham's Cave. The dig there has so far unearthed 103 items, including spear-points, knives and scraping devices, bearing the marks of Neanderthal craftsmanship. Radiocarbon dating suggests that most of the objects are about 28,000 years old, with the youngest being 24,000 years old.

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Remains of Roman bath house uncovered in Kent

Substantial remains of an octagonal Roman bath house, probably reused as a Christian baptistry, have been uncovered during a student training excavation near Faversham in Kent.

The central cold plunge pool was five metres (16ft) across, and stood within a structure which also had underfloor heating and hot pools, probably originally under a domed roof.

Bits of painted wall plaster, blue floors and multicoloured mosaics were found by students from Kent Archaeological Field School.

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Archaeologist Backs Dig at Bosnia Site

An Egyptologist who investigated two hills in central Bosnia believed by some to be ancient pyramids on Wednesday recommended that archaeological digs be carried out there.

After investigating the two hills for a week, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Ali, a professor of Egyptology in Cairo, said nobody should be jumping to conclusions but having in mind everything he had seen in Visoko, his recommendations would be that 'it is worth digging here.'

'You have to be patient. This might take decades,' he said.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Skeletons from historic battle unearthed

REMAINS of victims of the longest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil have been unearthed beneath the floor of the dining room of Towton Hall near Tadcaster.

Four skeletons, all of which display evidence of horrendous sword injuries, date from the Battle of Towton in North Yorkshire in 1461, when the Yorkists massacred the Lancastrians during the Wars of the Roses.

The discovery forms part of a 10-year long investigation into the archaeological evidence of the battle, which cost the lives of about 28,000 men. It was prompted by the unearthing of a mass grave at the hall in 1996, which contained 37 victims.

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Young Archaeologists dig for facts and fun

AN INTREPID group of Whitehaven youngsters are seeking new members to join them in their quest to uncover the secrets of Cumbria’s past.

The Young Archaeologists Club is a group of eight-to-16-year-olds who meet on the last weekend of every month, and take part in hands-on workshops, attend field trips and explore all aspects of archaeology, both ancient and modern.

The nationwide Young Archaeologists Club was formed in 1972, and the Whitehaven branch has been running since 1998. The club has 3,000 members across Britain, and 60 local branches.

Averil Dawson is a visitor host at The Beacon, and the assistant leader of the Whitehaven branch.

She thinks the Young Archaeologists Club provides the perfect mix of education and adventure.

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Stone Age female statue unearthed

Archaeologists have unearthed the largest Neolithic female figurine ever found in Italy, according to a press report .

The 7,000-year-old stone statuette, discovered during excavations of a burial site near the northern Italian city of Parma, is over 20 centimetres tall, the archaeological monthly Archeo reported .

It depicts a woman with an oval face, slit eyes, a prominent nose and long hair. Her arms are bent at her elbows, sticking out at right-angles to her body .

Although such statuettes are fairly common, it is rare to find figurines this old in Europe, and the majority represent a mother earth divinity with a swelling belly symbolizing fertility .

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Colourful beginning for humanity

Evidence is emerging from Africa that colours were being used in a symbolic way perhaps 200,000 years ago, a UK scientist working in the region claims.

Lawrence Barham has been studying tools and other artefacts left by ancient humans at a site in Zambia.

He says the range of mineral pigments, or ochres, found there hints at the use of paint, perhaps to mark the body.

If correct, it would push back the earliest known example of abstract thinking by at least 100,000 years.

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Archaeologists find traces of legendary Viking centre By Thoralf Plath

By Thoralf Plath, Kaliningrad, Russia- Russian and German archaeologists believe they may have found traces of human settlement in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad that could lead to the legendary Viking trading centre of Wiskiauten. The find lies three kilometres south of the coastal resort of Selenogradsk in a field near the Curonian Spit, a narrow strip of sand dune off the coast.

The stone structures found almost a metre down are the remains of a well and several houses and date to the 12th century.

"This is still a bit recent, as the Viking era is at least two centuries earlier," the head of the German team, Timo Ibsen, says.

"But we are on the right track."

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Dig unearths evidence of Neolithic partying

STONEHENGE visitors had the opportunity to get a glimpse of what life was like in Britain more than 4,000 years ago over the bank holiday weekend.

A team of 100 archaeologists, from various universities around Britain, along with Wessex Archaeology, has been carrying out excavations as part of the seven-year Riverside Project at Woodhenge, Durrington Walls and Stonehenge Cursus to find out more about the sites and their links with Stonehenge in the 26th Century BC.

Over the weekend the public was invited to attend excavation open days which included tours of the site, the opportunity to meet the archaeologists, and re-enactments of life 4,000 years ago. The open days were a great success with over 2,000 people turning up to see what the team had unearthed.

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Greece to loan Minoan antiquities to British Museum

Greece has agreed to loan London's British Museum a collection of priceless Minoan-era antiquities for an exhibition to be held by 2009, the Greek culture ministry has said.

Among antiquities on display will be the renowned bull-leaping frescoes from the Minoan palace of Knossos, Crete, a 3,700-year-old site excavated by British archaeologist Arthur Evans in the early 20th century.

The loan will be possible because of ongoing restoration works on Crete's Heraklion Museum, where the antiquities are currently housed, a culture ministry official said Friday.

Greek daily Eleftherotypia Friday reported that the loan "aims to reopen talks for the return of the Parthenon Marbles," a collection of sculpted friezes depicting gods, men and monsters shipped to Britain in the early 19th century on orders from Lord Elgin, British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

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Late Roman villa unearthed in ancient city of Laodicea

A villa dating back to the late Roman era has been unearthed in the ancient city of Laodicea, located close to the Aegean village of Eskihisar, announced Associate Professor Celal Şimşek, head of excavations at the site.

Şimşek, of Pamukkale University, said the villa had been unearthed near a railway line to the south of the ancient city, reported the Anatolia news agency.

Illegal excavations had been carried out in the region some time ago, added Şimşek, and his team of archaeologists were able to make out some mosaics through the resulting hole. “Therefore, we launched excavations in this area, although it's not a part of our program. And we discovered a villa there,” he stated.

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Der Glauberg in keltischer Zeit. Öffentliches Symposium

Das Hessische Landesmuseum Darmstadt zeigt bis 2007 die aufsehenerregenden Funde keltischer Fürstengräber, die Mitte der 1990er Jahre am Glauberg entdeckt wurden. Die seither stattfindenden Ausgrabungen vor Ort nehmen das Landesmuseum und das Amt für archäologische Denkmalpflege nun zum Anlass eines öffentlichen Symposiums. Vom 14. bis 16. September 2006 diskutieren Archäologen, Althistoriker, Kulturgeographen, Geo- und Biowissenschaftler die jüngsten Erkenntnisse zu frühkeltischem Leben auf dem Glauberg.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cornish crosses are fitted with microchips after wave of thefts

Since the 10th century, travellers to Cornwall have been helped by hundreds of distinctive Celtic crosses, carved from rough-hewn granite, which mark their route. But a recent wave of thefts, fuelled by Cornish nationalism, has prompted officials to adopt a 21st-century solution to help to protect the ancient signposts.

Cornwall County Council has become so alarmed at the loss of the relics that, in an effort to deter thieves, it is fitting them with microchips.

The crosses have become a powerful symbol of Cornish independence and the authority believes that they are being stolen to meet a growing interest in the region's heritage and nationalism.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Cave colours pose a new tongue-twister

OUR early human ancestors may have been smarter than we have given them credit for.

Archaeologists have found evidence that language developed at least 100,000 years before the evolution of modern-day Homo sapiens, the supposedly wise version of human-like species.

According to findings in a cave complex at Twin Rivers in Zambia, Homo heidelbergensis, believed to be a common ancestor of both modern humans and Neanderthals, made and used a range of colours. These included red, yellow, brown, pink, black and a "sparkling" purple.

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Remains of battle victims found at hall

REMAINS of victims of the longest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil have been unearthed beneath the floor of the dining room of Towton Hall in North Yorkshire.

Four skeletons, all of which display evidence of horrendous sword injuries, date from the Battle of Towton in North Yorkshire in 1461, when the Yorkists massacred the Lancastrians during the Wars of the Roses.

The discovery forms part of a 10-year long investigation into the archaeological evidence of the battle, which cost the lives of about 28,000 men. It was prompted by the unearthing of a mass grave at the hall in 1996, which contained 37 victims.

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Egyptian Writing "Scanned" Using High-Tech Methods

Jean Revez studies old things, but that doesn't make him wedded to old ways.

The professor of Egyptian history at the University of Montreal in Canada is developing one of several emerging techniques for electronically recording and interpreting ancient stone inscriptions.

Today most archaeologists record writing and other architectural details using pencils, pens, and paper, "tools that are really quite ancient," Revez said.

In his vision of the future, epigraphists—archaeologists who study inscriptions—will rely instead on digital cameras, specialized computer software, and their dexterity with a mouse.

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Discovery Films Ancient World's Sanctuary at Perperikon

A team of Discovery Channel has commenced filming the royal palace at Perperikon - ancient sanctuary believed to be more respected than Delphi Oracle.

The world-popular travel channel has sent its team for the first time in Bulgaria, intrigued by the yet not completely known world of ancient Thracians.

The team including a producer and a photographer is to tour all the sites related to the history and culture of Thracian tribes.

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Body art made its mark 300,000 years ago, scientists claim

The use of coloured pigments in early forms of body art may have begun many tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought, according to a study of artefacts found at an ancient archaeological site in Africa.

Scientists working at the Twin Rivers hilltop cave near Lusaka in Zambia have found evidence for the use of colours - possibly for body painting - as early as 300,000 years ago.

This would predate the known use of coloured pigments in cave art by more than 200,000 years and, if confirmed, mark the point when humans began to experiment with paint.

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Modern humans, not Neandertals, may be evolution's 'odd man out'Looking incorrectly at Neandertals

Could it be that in the great evolutionary "family tree," it is we Modern Humans, not the brow-ridged, large-nosed Neandertals, who are the odd uncle out?

New research published in the August, 2006 journal Current Anthropology by Neandertal and early modern human expert, Erik Trinkaus, professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, suggests that rather than the standard straight line from chimps to early humans to us with Neandertals off on a side graph, it's equally valid, perhaps more valid based on what the fossils tell us, that the straight line should be from the common ancestor to the Neandertals, and the Modern Humans should be the branch off that.

Trinkaus has spent years examining the fossil record and began to realize that maybe researchers have been looking at our ancient ancestors the wrong way.

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In the end they really weren't so horrible

RAPING and pillaging. Longboats and horned helmets. Beards and ginger hair. Is that all there was to the Vikings?

Certainly the people who came from what is modern-day Scandinavia - Norway, Sweden and Denmark - and travelled to Scotland over 1200 years ago leaving their homes behind them, must have had more about them than a taste for beer and hunks of animal flesh. Yet this is the way many people today think of Vikings.

It's hardly surprising when you think of the way they're portrayed on film and television. And even though there's a variety of evidence available when studying Viking Scotland including language, place-names, documentary sources, oral tradition and archaeology - there are still many questions unanswered.

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Etruscan Holy City Discovered

Italian archaeologists believe they have found the mysterious sanctuary which was the religious and political centre of the Etruscan civilisation. The Etruscans were an ancient people known to have lived in the area of Italy between Rome and Florence from the 8th century BC until they were absorbed by Rome about 600 years later. For centuries they dominated the fledgling city on the Tiber and even supplied its first kings. But most traces of the Etruscan civilisation, which produced sophisticated art, were obliterated as Roman grew into an empire .

The Etruscan world was organised around a federation of 12 city states. Each spring the political and religious leaders from the cities would meet at a holy place called the Fanum Voltumnae to hold a council. Here they would discuss military campaigns, civic affairs and pray to their common gods. Chief amongst these was Voltumna, god of the underworld. Until now it has never been clear where the Fanum, which means sanctuary, was located and historians have been looking for it for at least six centuries .

Now, after extensive digs at a site near the hill town of Orvieto, 60 miles north of Rome, a team of archaeologists from Macerata University is sure the mystery has been solved. They have found the walls of a central temple, two important roads and part of the perimeter wall of an extensive shrine, all built in the tufa stone used by the Etruscans. They have also uncovered fragments of 6th century BC ceremonial vases used for religious rites. "It has all the characteristics of a very important shrine, and of that shrine in particular," said Simonetta Stopponi, professor of Etruscan studies at Macerata University. Listing some of those characteristics, she mentioned "the scale of the construction, its intricate structure and layout, the presence of wells and fountains and the central temple building".

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Archaeologists from VU Amsterdam at the heart of a European heritage project in Italy; Multi-million grant for new approach to Classical heritage

In the Apulia region of southern Italy, VU archaeologists will be assisting with the establishment of archaeological parks around the ruins of two cities dating from classical antiquity. The European Union has allotted a total of 1.1 million euros to this project, which takes an entirely new approach to digs. This time, the objective is not to search for objets d'art and then exhibit them in museums elsewhere. Instead, the objects that are dug out of the ground are to be retained in their local context, and the history of the cities in question is to be made accessible in the form of parks.

The two walled cities in southern Italy were partially excavated at the end of the 1990s and at the start of the year 2000. The digs were conducted by Gert-Jan Burgers, Douwe Yntema and Jan Paul Crielaard, classical archaeologists from the Faculty of Arts at VU Amsterdam. For two thousand years, the cities had remained buried under vineyards and fields of grain. The remains really fired the imagination of the local population. For this reason, the local authorities appealed for European grants, in order to construct visitors’ centres on site.

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Construction Workers Uncover Roman Village in Bonn

A UN construction site in Bonn was converted to an archeological dig when a 2,000-year-old Roman village was discovered. Jugs, plates, remnants of a public bath and a paved street reveal a surprisingly modern people.

The mass of dirt directly across from the plenary hall in Bonn's former government quarter looks like the surface of the moon. Deep pockets have been dug out in several spots and three excavators are boring their way deeper into the ground.

Nora Andrikopoulou-Strack is standing on one of the other-worldly dirt mounds, with clay-smeared boots on her feet and a broad smile on her face. She is responsible for turning this construction site into an archeological dig.

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Britain's human history revealed

Eight times humans came to try to live in Britain and on at least seven occasions they failed - beaten back by freezing conditions.

Scientists think they can now write a reasonably comprehensive history of the occupation of these isles.

It stretches from 700,000 years ago and the first known settlers at Pakefield in Suffolk, through to the most recent incomers just 12,000 years or so ago.

The evidence comes from the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

German gesture reopens debate on Elgin Marbles

THE British Museum was under new pressure to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece yesterday after a German university gave back a tiny sculpture taken from the 2,500-year-old Parthenon.

The 3in by 5in sculpture of a man's foot, from the north section of the Parthenon frieze, was handed back by Heidelberg University, and Giorgos Voulgarakis, the Greek culture minister, said: "This is a major symbolic gesture ... a new page in the previously deadlocked debate for the return of all [Parthenon] sculptures from museums abroad."

Greece says the Elgin Marbles - removed by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century - are an integral part of the temple on the Acropolis in Athens.

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Delos relics to be rescued, restored with EU funding

he House of the Lake and the House of the Diadoumenos, which are both in the ancient sanctuary of Delos, are expected to be restored and maintained through a project funded by the EU’s Third Community Support Framework and managed by the Central Archaeological Council. The two relics have been ravaged by nature and neglect.

Two monuments at the archaeological site of Delos in the Cyclades will be restored and maintained with European Union money, after the Greek Central Archaeological Council (KAS) approved two studies for the relics’ upkeep earlier this summer.

Delos, which mythology says is the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo, is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the Cyclades.

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Remains of ‘Viking’ boat discovered by archaeologists at Castlebar lake

ARCHAEOLOGISTS working on the Castlebar sewage scheme stumbled upon what has been described by the National Museum of Ireland as a ‘significant and exciting archaeological find’.

While trench testing close to Lough Lannagh they uncovered a wooden boat, believed to be medieval with a strong possibility that it could even be from the Viking period of around 1,100 years ago.
Measuring 10 feet long and some six-foot wide, the boat is in reasonable condition having been preserved in a blanket of peat which covered it from once the Castlebar lake receded.

It may have been used as a cargo or fishing vessel. Its discovery was made possible due to a drop in the water levels of the lake which have dropped significantly since the 1800s when water was diverted for a mill race. The Moy Drainage Scheme in the 1960s also led to a lowering of the lake levels by as much as 12 feet.
The discovery was made by Olga Sheehy, who is one of a team of six archaeologists headed by licensed archaeologist, Joanna Nolan, currently working at the site.

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Ancient treasures found

SOFIA (Bulgaria): A 2,200-year-old set of gold jewellery was unearthed from a Thracian burial mound on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast, the archaeologist who led the excavations said on Monday. Daniela Agre said her team in late August found dozens of tiny jewellery pieces in the tomb of a woman, most likely a Thracian priestess, near the resort of Sinemorets, about 500 km southeast of the capital, Sofia. The discovery included two earrings, crafted like miniature chariots, as well as parts of gold necklaces, one decorated with a sculpture of a bull's head. A tiny plaque that appears to be the necklace's fastener bears a Greek inscription, saying ``made by Demetrius,'' Ms. Agre said, suggesting this could have been the name the nobleman who ordered the jewellery.

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Rare mural-covered Bronze Age tomb discovered

Sofia, Bulgaria - Archaeologists in southern Bulgaria have located remains of a completely preserved Thracian domed tomb decorated with murals, the daily Trud reported on Monday.

The tomb, near the town of Haskovo, 234km southeast of Sofia, is made of big stone blocks and has two chambers forming a dome at the top. There are paintings of horses and Thracian armed warriors on the walls.

The Thracians were Bronze Age people, whose civilisation thrived in the Balkans from 2000 BC until the invasion of the Slavs in the sixth century AD.

This is only the second Thracian tomb with murals of humans discovered in Bulgaria and one of the most significant in Thracian archaeology in this century, experts say.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Enthusiast uses Google to reveal Roman ruins

Using satellite images from Google Maps and Google Earth, an Italian computer programmer has stumbled upon the remains of an ancient villa. Luca Mori was studying maps of the region around his town of Sorbolo, near Parma, when he noticed a prominent, oval, shaded form more than 500 metres long. It was the meander of an ancient river, visible because former watercourses absorb different amounts of moisture from the air than their surroundings do.

His eye was caught by unusual 'rectangular shadows' nearby. Curious, he analysed the image further, and concluded that the lines must represent a buried structure of human origin. Eventually, he traced out what looked like the inner courtyards of a villa.

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Hadrian's Roman soldiers 'had military tattoo'

A pictorial exhibition exploring the history of tattooing in Britain is to go on display in the unlikely setting of Newcastle University's Museum of Antiquities (Tuesday 29 August).

Currently fashionable among celebrities, footballers and pop stars, historical texts and archaeological evidence suggest that some form of tattooing has been practised in the British Isles for thousands of years.

'It's a little known fact, but it would appear that all of the legionaries and some of the auxiliaries on Hadrian's Wall would have had a tattoo', says the University's Director of Archaeological Museums and Roman expert, Lindsay Allason-Jones.

The evidence comes from the Roman writer Vegetius, whose Epitome of Military Science, written around the 4th Century AD, is the only account of Roman military practice to have survived intact.

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Dig unearths 'unique' Roman baths

An archaeological dig in Kent has turned up a Roman bathhouse described as "totally unique" for the county.
The remains of the 5th Century building were uncovered in a field in Faversham by students working with the Kent Archaeological Field School.

Dr Paul Wilkinson said the Roman baths came to light during a number of excavations for Swale Borough Council.

He claimed the octagon-shaped bathhouse was a "very exciting" find and a first for the South East.

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

New discoveries in Aljezur

THE RUINS of two mosques have been unearthed during the latest archaeological dig at Ponta da Atalaia, on the Aljezur coast. Excavation work, co-ordinated by archaeologists Rosa and Mário Varela Gomes, began on August 1 and will continue until the end of the month.

For the fifth consecutive year, remains have been uncovered from the mythical Rîbat da Arrifana, a fortressed monastery built by Ibn Qasi, a Sufi master and Muslim monk-warrior who lived there with his community during the 12th century.

The archaeologists have already discovered the remains of six mosques and their respective oratories, the foundations of a circular minaret and those of what is thought to have once been a school.

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Iron Age chamber found under tractor

An underground chamber undisturbed since the Iron Age was revealed on North Uist when a 10ft hole opened beneath the wheel of a tractor.

Archaeologists assessed the find at Port nan Long at the north of the island, which has been sealed off from the public.

Dr Mary MacLeod, Western Isles Council's archaeologist, was delighted to declare the hole an Iron Age souterrain, or underground chamber.

She said: "It is particularly exciting because it is so well preserved.

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