Friday, July 31, 2009

Giant pencil traces archaeological finds fast

EVERY object unearthed by an archaeological dig must have its exact position recorded. This is normally a painstaking process involving measuring rods and string, but a device that uses technology originally developed to guide robots could speed up the process.

Gran Dolina in central Spain is a Palaeolithic site that contains important hominin remains which date from between 780,000 and 300,000 years ago. Thousands of fossils are discovered there every year, but registering them all by hand makes progress frustratingly slow. So archaeologists working on the site contacted Angélica de Antonio Jiménez and Fernando Seco at the Institute of Industrial Automation in Madrid, to see if they could come up with a better way.

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Ancient warrior's skeleton found buried in a tomb on a beach near Rome

Archaeologists have found the skeleton of a warrior from up to 5,000 years ago floating in a tomb filled with sea water on a beach near Rome, Italy's art squad said Friday.

The bones — believed to date from the 3rd millennium B.C. — were discovered in May as art hunters were carrying out routine checks of the region's archaeological areas, Carabinieri art squad official Raffaele Mancino said.

Archaeologists believe the warrior was likely killed by an arrow, part of which was found among his ribs, Mancino said. There was also a hole in the back of the skull, and six vases and two daggers were found buried nearby.

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Secret life of medieval city found under Cathedral Square

HISTORIC treasures buried under Peterborough's Cathedral Square have revealed a little-known side to the city.

Archaeologists at Peterborough Museum say the finds, which have been uncovered since works to install new fountains in the square got under way in April, reflect medieval life in the city centre.

And city museum archaeologist Ben Robinson is confident there are many more surprises to be stumbled across which will provide the key to life beyond the 16th century.

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Henry II 'spent a fortune on Dover Castle to counter Becket cult'

Henry II spent vast sums on Dover Castle as an international public relations exercise to counter the growing "anti-monarchial cult" of Thomas Becket's shrine in nearby Canterbury, according to a new analysis.

The fiery monarch spent at least £6,440 throughout the 1180s – more than a quarter of his average annual income – building and furnishing the impressive keep at the castle, according to a study of his finances by John Gillingham, Professor Emeritus in medieval history at the London School of Economics.

The rooms have just been renovated and refurbished in a £2.45 million project managed by English Heritage, to resemble how they would have done in Henry's day.

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A taste of medieval life in all its gaudy glory

When the Great Tower of Dover Castle throws open its doors again today, visitors will be struck by its power and its gaudiness: the 10metre-thick walls are 12th century, but everything inside the vast stone rooms, from the king's fur strewn bed to the stained glass window lighting his chapel, is new and seething with colour. The effect is certainly striking, but does slightly look as if in 1179 King Henry II ran amok in a furniture warehouse on an extended free credit deal.

The £2.45m recreation by English Heritage of the castle's lost medieval interiors is not history in tasteful shades of parchment and chalk. New oak doors an inch thick, painted green, bright blue or a dark red called Dragon's Blood, open onto interiors both sumptuous and garish enough to make the unwary blink.

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King's tower of 'bling' recreated

The opulent interiors of King Henry II's Dover Castle have been recreated by English Heritage in a £2.45m project lasting two years.

The Kent castle's Great Tower has been brought back to life with almost psychedelic colour and drama, its restorers said. It reopens on Saturday.

It follows extensive research by a team of historians who worked closely with artists and craftspeople.

English Heritage said the castle had been a palace of "Versace-esque bling".

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Maps reveal Venice 'forerunner'

Aerial photographs have revealed the streetplan of a lost Roman city called Altinum, which some scholars regard as a forerunner of Venice.

The images reveal the remains of city walls, the street network, dwellings, theatres and other structures.

They also show a complex network of rivers and canals, revealing how the people mastered the marshy environment in what is now the lagoon of Venice.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Bishop’s Palace to yield its final secrets as dig ends

Archaeologists will mark the end of 16 years of excavations at Aberdeenshire’s lost Bishop’s Palace today by recovering a large and rare section of a mediaeval bridge.

Penny Dransart, project leader at the Fetternear dig, near Kemnay, said: “It is a truly remarkable find. The wood has been perfectly preserved through being below the water table.

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Prehistoric hut gives clues to ancient Alp life

Archaeologists in a remote region of Switzerland have excavated the ruins of the oldest hut in the Alps, a prehistoric discovery that dates back nearly 3,000 years.

The find in the Silvretta mountains near the Austrian border gives scientists the oldest architectural proof that early Iron Age shepherds spent summers living among the rich alpine grasses, tending to herds and using milk to make cheese, in a way much like farmers today.

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Treasures of Art, Buried for Centuries

In the first century B.C., the Gulf of Naples became the playground par excellence of the Roman elite. Here, according to Cicero, was to be found an endless round of “banquets, parties, song, music, excursions in boats,” not to mention “intrigues, love affairs and adulteries.”

The idyll came to an abrupt end in August A.D. 79, with the eruption of Vesuvius. Along with the now more familiar Pompeii and Herculaneum, the seaside resort of Stabiae was also buried in several meters of cinder and ash. Stabiae, to the south of Pompeii, was not a town but a string of enormous luxury villas stretching along the coast, their remains now contiguous with the port town of Castellammare di Stabia.

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Silvio Berlusconi sex scandal overshadowed by cave row

A row about the discovery of a series of 2,300-year-old caves has emerged as a potentially greater threat to Silvio Berlusconi than allegations he slept call girl Patrizia D'Addario.

The latest extracts of taped bedroom conversations to be released contained an apparently innocuous remark by the Italian prime minister that he had discovered 30 ancient tombs on one of his estates.

He is heard boasting to Miss D'Addario, 42, about the existence of Phoenician tombs, from the 3rd Century BC on his Villa Certosa estate on Sardinia where guests have included Tony Blair.

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Turkey: Archaeological Remains of Roman Theatre to be Unearthed in Ankara

The remains of an ancient Roman theatre, which are partly buried underneath a building, will be unearthed in Turkey’s capital to become a spot for cultural events.

As a result of the initiative of Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, a building constructed 15 years ago atop the remains of the Roman theatre will be torn down, the television channel CNN Türk reported today.

The ancient remains were discovered in 1982 in the Ulus quarter of the capital, which used to be the heart of old Ankara.

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Ancient tiles found as Time Team dig reopens

History experts have begun work to explore the remains of an ancient Northamptonshire castle, picking up where Time Team's archaeologists left off eight years ago.

Experts from the Channel 4 programme carried out excavation work at The Mount in Alderton, close to Towcester in 2001.

But because Time Team's digs are limited to just three days, they only scratched the surface of the historic site, where work to build the long-since-vanished castle began soon after the Norman Conquest in 1066.

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Ancient Theater Masks Rediscovered in Pompeii

A set of 15 mysterious life-size masks, reminiscent of ancient Roman drama, have been rediscovered in Pompeii after being forgotten for more than two centuries, according to Italian archaeologists who have shown them for the first time at an exhibition in Naples, Italy.

Made of plaster, the rather heavy masks were unearthed in 1749 in Pompeii during the excavations promoted by King Charles of Bourbon. They were deposited, along with many other artifacts, in the Royal Palace of Portici, a town on the Bay of Naples.

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4000-year-old paraplegic found

Archaeologists have uncovered the ancient remains of a young man in northern Vietnam who could be the oldest known paraplegic in the world.

The discovery has astounded researchers, showing the long-term survival of a man with a severe disability in a community where almost 50 per cent of people died before they turned five.

The remains, which are between 3500 and 4000-years-old, reveal the man was about 25 and was born with a rare disorder called Klippel-Feil syndrome.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

1000-Year-Old Cowshed Discovered

Archeological research undertaken earlier this summer in Keldudalur in Skagafjördur has brought to light an unusually well-preserved cowshed from the 10th century; the first one to be unearthed in Northern Iceland, archeologist Ragnheidur Traustadóttir told

Remains from man-made structures from the 11th and the 12th century were also discovered.

The cowshed surfaced just west of the living quarters of cow farmers Thórarinn Leifsson and Gudrún Lárusdóttir at Keldudalur. Research has been ongoing there since the year 2002. An ancient burial ground has been found there and it has been known since 2007 that ancient man-made structures existed.

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Archaeologists find graveyard of sunken Roman ships

A team of archaeologists using sonar technology to scan the seabed have discovered a "graveyard" of five pristine ancient Roman shipwrecks off the small Italian island of Ventotene.

The trading vessels, dating from the first century BC to the fifth century AD, lie more than 100 meters underwater and are amongst the deepest wrecks discovered in the Mediterranean in recent years, the researchers said on Thursday.

Part of an archipelago situated halfway between Rome and Naples on Italy's west coast, Ventotene historically served as a place of shelter during rough weather in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

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Archaeologists Discover Nymph Sanctuary in Central Bulgaria

A sanctuary where the nymph cult used to be celebrated in Antiquity was recently found by archaeologists in the vicinity of the Nicopolis ad Istrum ancient site, located near the town of Veliko Tarnovo in central Bulgaria.

The experts discovered an alley, leading to a spring and covered with limestone tiles decorated in a stand-out relief.

The find is a first of its kind in the region, Pavlina Vladkova, leader of the archaeological team, told national media. Until now, she said, the only testament of the nymph cult in Nicopolis ad Istrum used to be images on coins made in the second century under the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, as well as ancient inscriptions.

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VISITORS to Wanstead Park will be able to see archaeology come to life this weekend as part of the 2009 Festival of British Archaeology.

VISITORS to Wanstead Park will be able to see archaeology come to life this weekend as part of the 2009 Festival of British Archaeology.

The Wanstead Parklands Community Project will be presenting a programme activities in the park on July 25 and 26, in collaboration with the West Essex Archaeology Group and the City of London Corporation.

Activities on show will include digging and finds processing, geophysical testing, and a literature stall.

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Human bones unearthed as tram workers hit ancient graveyard

WORKERS have discovered centuries-old human remains while digging tram works on Leith Walk.

Archaeologists are said to believe that the skeletons, found near Elm Row, may be up to 500 years old, and there could once have been a graveyard on the site.

They began painstakingly removing and cataloguing the bones following the discovery yesterday. The news follows a similar discovery in Constitution Street in May.

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Alter to Mysterious Deity Found at Roman Fort

A massive altar dedicated to an eastern cult deity has emerged during excavations of a Roman fort in northern England.

Weighing 1.5 tons, the four-foot high ornately carved stone relic, was unearthed at the Roman fort of Vindolanda, which was built by order of the Emperor Hadrian between 122-30 A.D.

The Romans built the defensive wall across the north of Britain from Carlisle to Newcastle-on-Tyne, to keep out invading armies from what is now Scotland.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Medieval massacre site found in Dorset

In June archaeologists and workers expanding a road in Dorset discovered the site of a grizzly medieval massacre, which perhaps was the result of Viking raids in the tenth or early eleventh century.

They found the skeletal remains of fifty-one men, all decapitated before their bodies were thrown in a pit. Their heads were also found, stacked to one side.

At first, the bodies were believed to have been from people who lived in ancient or Roman times, but radio-carbon dating revealed that they were killed between 890 and 1034, when the South of England was pillaged by Viking raiders from Scandinavia.

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Vinland Map is authentic, expert confirms

The 15th century Vinland Map, the first known map to show part of America before explorer Christopher Columbus landed on the continent, is almost certainly genuine, a Danish expert said Friday.

Controversy has swirled around the map since it came to light in the 1950s, many scholars suspecting it was a hoax meant to prove that Vikings were the first Europeans to land in North America -- a claim confirmed by a 1960 archaeological find.

Doubts about the map lingered even after the use of carbon dating as a way of establishing the age of an object.

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Jorvik Viking Centre set for £1million upgrade

A MILLION pound redevelopment of the Jorvik Viking Centre is expected to be announced tomorrow by Culture Minister Barbara Follett.

The decision by York Archaeological Trust to revamp the hugely popular attraction will include an underfoot reconstruction of the original Coppergate excavation, state of the art animatronics and the reconstruction of a new Viking-age house and backyard. The Minister for Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism said: “This is a major boost for tourism in Yorkshire. “The Jorvik Viking Centre is without doubt one of the region’s flagship attractions.

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Excavation work takes place on Stone Age dwelling

EXCAVATION work was due to finish at the weekend on a Stone Age dwelling unearthed at Ronaldsway.

The 8,000-year-old structure, found during construction of the airport runway extension, is believed to be the oldest house ever found in the Isle of Man.

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When and wear: the prehistory of clothing

Ask Ian Gilligan about his research project, and he’ll begin with a contradiction.

“My great interest is in clothing, because I think it’s our most important invention,” he says. “But the next thing I’m going to say is that I’m not interested in clothing at all.”

Is this the sign of a confused mind, or a rampant contrarian? Far from it.

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Ancient shrine found at Hadrian's Wall fort

A unique religious shrine to a Roman god has been uncovered at a fort along Hadrian’s Wall.

The altar dedicated to Jupiter of Doliche has been discovered next to the north gate of Vindolanda in Northumberland.

Director of excavations Andrew Birley said: “What should have been part of the rampart mound near the north gate has turned out to be an amazing religious shrine with a substantial and exceptionally well preserved altar dedicated by a prefect of the Fourth Cohort of Gauls to an important eastern god, Jupiter of Doliche.

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Neanderthals Were Few and Poised for Extinction

Neanderthals are of course extinct. But there never were very many of them, new research concludes.

In fact, new genetic evidence from the remains of six Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) suggests the population hovered at an average of 1,500 females of reproductive age in Europe between 38,000 and 70,000 years ago, with the maximum estimate of 3,500 such female Neanderthals.

"It seems they never really took off in Eurasia in the way modern humans did later," said study researcher Adrian Briggs of the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Archaeology Excavations Start at Bulgaria's Roman City Nikopolis ad Istrum

New archaeological excavations are starting Monday, July 13, 2009, at the ancient Roman city of Nikopolis ad Istrum in Central Northern Bulgaria.

The excavations are a joint undertaking of the Veliko Tarnovo University and the Regional History Museum in Veliko Tarnovo, and are funded by the EU Social Fund through the Ministry of Education with a project for practical student work in a real environment.

30 archaeology students will participate in the work at Nikopolis ad Istrum together with their professors for over a month.

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Archaeology Quiz: Otzi the Iceman

Today's Archaeology Quiz of the Week is on Otzi the Iceman, that poor old fellow discovered eroding out of a glacier in the Europeans Alps.

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Archaeologists search for tomb of Suleiman I in Hungary

An international team of archaeologists started excavations near Szigetvar, S Hungary, to find the tomb of Suleiman I, the Lawgiver, regional daily Uj Dunantuli Naplo said on Monday.

Suleiman (1494-1566), also called as the Magnificent, was the longest reigning sultan of the Ottoman Empire, one of the most prominent monarchs of 16th-century Europe, presiding over the golden age of the empire. He died during the siege of the fortress of Szigetvar after 46 years of rule.

The excavations were initiated by archaeologists of Pecs University. Composed of Hungarian and Turkish experts, the team hopes to find the exact location of Suleiman's tomb at the church of Turbek.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Did an Ancient Volcano Freeze Earth?

One fine day about 74,000 years ago, a giant volcano on Sumatra blew its top. The volcano, named Toba, may have ejected 1000 times more rock and other material than Mount St. Helens in Washington state did in 1980. In the process, it cooled the climate by at least 10°C, causing a global famine. But could the aftermath have been even worse? A new study puts to rest questions about whether Toba plunged Earth into a 1000-year deep freeze and whether an equivalent event today could jump-start a new, millennia-long ice age.

Giant volcanic eruptions such as Toba briefly cause the opposite of global warming. Although eruptions do emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, volcanoes also spew sulfur dioxide. Combined with water vapor, sulfur dioxide forms sulfate aerosols, which can spread around the globe, blocking solar radiation and chilling the air before becoming acid rain and snow.

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The Turkish Dam That 'Would Never Have been Permitted' in Germany

The German government, along with the Austrians and Swiss, pulled their support for a huge hydro-energy project in Turkey this week. The required dam would have flooded an ancient city and displaced more than 10,000 people. German papers praised the decision, asking why it took so long to make.

It was meant to be one of the most ambitious energy policy programs ever undertaken by the Turkish government, but on Tuesday, Germany, Austria and Switzerland withdrew their backing for the controversial Ilisu dam project. The governments of the countries said they would suspend loan guarantees to European construction companies participating in the mega project.

Construction of the 1,820 meter (1.1 miles) long and 135 meter (443 feet) high dam would have meant flooding the archeologically significant, ancient city of Hasankeyf on the Tigris River as well as the enforced relocation of more than 10,000 people.

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Archaeologists Discover Mesolithic Human Traces in South-Western Romania

Human traces dating from the Early Mesolithic Period were recently discovered at the Schela Cladovei archaeological site in south-western Romania by experts from the University of Edinburgh and of the “Vasile Parvan” Bucharest Institute of Archaeology.

The unearthed finds indicate the beginning of human sedentary life, the transition from the food-gathering, fishing and hunting stage to a primitive civilization dating from 7100 to 5500 BC, Professor Adina Boroneanţ, the archaeological team’s coordinator recently told the Romanian press agency Agerpres.

“It is the first time when, for a period specific to the Romanian Neolithic, we come upon one of a kind traces. These are the ruins of an artisan centre producing malachite beads. We found such pieces in both unprocessed and processed stage. And what is more interesting, we even found the silex tools used to manufacture these ornaments,” Boroneanţ explained.

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New Report Identifies Maritime Archaeology Skills

The Nautical Archaeology Society has published a study into what makes someone a competent maritime archaeologist. The study makes recommendations which seek to ensure that skills competency is a key factor in the development of maritime archaeology in the UK.

The research, funded by English Heritage, was designed to identify the range and level of skills required in maritime archaeology, define competencies and standards, identify and define how training should be developed in order to meet those standards, and to determine how to provide sufficient opportunities in order to maintain those competencies.

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Secrets of 'unlucky' Bradford hill fort under the microscope

Described by one archaeologist as the unluckiest hill fort in Wiltshire, the Iron Age past of Budbury in Bradford on Avon remains to this day shrouded in mystery.

Local historians have been trying to unlock Budbury’s secrets ever since eminent archaeologist GJ Wainwright uncovered evidence of a substantial hill fort in the area, which is now developed into housing, dating back to as early as 600BC.

Wainwright believed he was on the verge of uncovering a burial mound, so the discovery of the hill fort, thought to cover up to six acres of land, came as a complete surprise.

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Archaeologists move on new west Cumbrian hospital site

A major excavation will start next week ahead of a multi-million pound project to transform Cumbria’s once-doomed cottage hospitals.

Cockermouth is the first of nine community hospitals to be developed into a modern health campus, combining inpatient beds with a much wider range of services.

Hoped to start this year, the project will see a complete rebuild on land next to the existing Isel Road building, at a cost of £14.6 million.

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anced VAG Cruck database released.

This resource consists of the tree-ring dates for 2450 buildings in the United Kingdom, ranging from cathedrals to cottages and barns. The database holds period, location and reference information for each record. The database was compiled by the Vernacular Architecture Group and is based on the lists published annually in the journal Vernacular Archaeology.

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Cambridge yields Anglo-Saxon remains

Archaeological excavations in the central offices of Cambridge University have revealed that the area was occupied by Anglo-Saxons.

The finds include Roman pottery, medieval remains and 11th Century dog bones, which indicate Cambridge was established in the final decades of the Saxon era.

"The site has enabled us to prove what we previously had no proof for - that by the time of the Norman Conquest there was a thriving settlement in the middle of Cambridge," BBC quoted Richard Newman of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit as saying.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Ancient henge may be largest one in county

Remains of a pre-historic henge could be lying just feet below a Lincolnshire field, say experts.

Studies of a large site in Navenby, north of Lincoln, have revealed telltale signs of what could be the county's biggest henge.

The Bronze age place of ritual, worship or community gatherings is thought to be lying on a strip of land which was later turned into a Roman settlement.

Geophysics studies, which are used to detect underground geology and artefacts, have revealed a circular structure.

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World's oldest bible published in full online

The oldest bible in the world was displayed in its entirety for the first time in 150 years today after researchers digitised its four sections kept in cities thousands of miles apart and placed the reunited text in cyberspace.

The Codex Sinaiticus, which was written some 1,600 years ago on more than 800 pages of animal skin parchment, is available on a free website following a collaboration between four institutions in Germany, Russia, Egypt and Britain, which have held different parts of the ancient book after it was bought on behalf of the Russian Tsar in the mid-19th century.

The British Library, which has led the project, has held the largest chunk the bible- some 600 pages - since it bought most of the book from the Soviet Union in 1933 for £100,000 raised by public subscription amid fears that the Communist regime would discard it.

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Medieval finds at university dig

Roman pottery, medieval remains and 11th Century dog bones have been found at the heart of Cambridge University during an archaeological dig.

The dig has been taking place beneath a tearoom in the university's central offices, known as the Old Schools.

It was one of the events marking the 800th anniversary of the university.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Roman road discovery is ‘missing link’ in Huddersfield history

IT’s a small strip of land, barely six metres long.

But for historians and archaeologists, the patch of earth near Outlane is a remarkable find.

And it is more evidence of how the Romans lived and worked in Huddersfield 2,000 years ago.

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Experts hold summit to unravel mystery of rebel Roman fortress in Norfolk

Last week (June 25 2009) a summit was held at the University of Nottingham to discuss new revelations on the mysterious Norfolk town of Caistor St Edmund.

A buried Roman province which caused sensation when RAF pictures of the site appeared on the front page of The Times in 1929, Caistor was adjudged to have been a densely-occupied urban area, abandoned by the Emperor of the struggling empire in 5AD.

New research, though, suggests such theories could be flimsily inaccurate. Using a Caesium Vapour magnetometer – a virtual grid survey device which resembles a cross between a calculator and an iPod – an expert team discovered a theatre, traces of Queen Boudicca's rebel Iceni tribe and strong signs of activity in the area through the Iron Age and up to 900AD.

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Roman well discovered at hotel site

A Roman well has been unearthed on a Chester development site which will soon house a new hotel.
Just two weeks of digging on Upper Northgate Street and Delamere Street has exposed a rock-cut Roman well and several large quarries.

The quarries were used as medieval rubbish dumps which experts say may prove invaluable to archaeologists.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Archaeologist warns of threat from development

PRECIOUS archaeological treasures could be destroyed by a proposed 12,000-home development to the east of Swindon.

This is the view of an expert who has been speaking out against the Eastern Development Area (EDA) for more than a decade.

Houses, community facilities, schools and shops are planned for the EDA, on land between Wanborough and South Marston.

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Rare Peek at Riches of Past in Rome

For decades now, excavations in the Roman Forum and on the Palatine Hill have yielded grand halls and imperial residences with fanciful frescoes and graceful stucco reliefs.

Often, after the initial news media fanfare that usually accompanies such finds and their restoration, many of the ancient habitats have returned to the obscurity from which they emerged. There just aren’t enough custodians to monitor these important archaeological sites, and so they are off limits to the public.

But this summer — except in August, when it’s too hot — Rome’s archaeological authority has reallocated money so that it can provide staffs for five monuments in the ancient heart of Rome that are usually closed. The initiative will also allow nighttime visits to the Colosseum and offer free after-hours concerts in the museums that house the state’s collection of ancient Roman art.

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Caution urged on St Paul body find

A recent scientific analysis on a tomb Vatican officials believe belongs to St Paul does not ''confirm or exclude'' that the relics inside are those of the apostle, the head of the Vatican Museums' diagnostics laboratory said Friday.

Speaking at a Vatican press conference Ulderico Santamaria, who is also a science professor at Tuscia University, said the analysis did not offer conclusive proof.

However, Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls where the tomb was found in 2006, said the results made him optimistic.

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No Etruscan link to modern Tuscans

The current population of Tuscany is not descended from the Etruscans, the people that lived in the region during the Bronze Age, a new Italian study has shown.

Researchers at the universities of Florence, Ferrara, Pisa, Venice and Parma discovered the genealogical discontinuity by testing samples of mitochondrial DNA from remains of Etruscans and people who lived in the Middle Ages (between the 10th and 15th centuries) as well as from people living in the region today.

While there was a clear genetic link between Medieval Tuscans and the current population, the relationship between modern Tuscans and their Bronze Age ancestors could not be proven, the study showed.

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Archaeology team get to work at Medieval Village

THIS week, and until the end of July, a team of archaeologists led by Professor John Hines from Cardiff University School of History and Archaeology will be investigating the remains of the medieval manor house at Cosmeston Medieval Village.

Community volunteers will play a key part in these important investigations and are joining the team to look for evidence of the past and find out more about this unique Welsh historical site.

The dig site can be easily viewed from public footpaths in Cosmeston Country Park but FREE guided tours by archaeologists are also available at 11.30am and 2.30pm, Monday to Sunday, excluding Fridays, meeting at the main Visitor Centre.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

British Archaeology to Stand on the Fourth Plinth

Mike Pitts, editor of the CBA’s British Archaeology magazine, will be occupying the Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square on 29 July, during the Festival of British Archaeology.

The details of Mike’s performance will remain secret until the day, but given his interests we have every reason to expect he will do something that engages deeply with the past. He will, he says, be posting linked texts on his website at the time of the event, and will welcome comments and suggestions now and afterwards.

The empty Fourth Plinth is being used for 100 days from 6 July by the sculptor Antony Gormley, who is inviting participants like Mike to help create ‘an astonishing living monument’. Anybody can go and view Mike’s plinth performance in person, or events can be followed on the Fourth Plinth website. Further news and information of the event will also take place on the CBA website and Mike Pitts’ website.

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Iron Age coins declared treasure

One of the UK's largest hauls of Iron Age gold coins has been declared treasure at an inquest in Suffolk.

The 840 handmade coins, called staters, were unearthed in a field near Wickham Market, Suffolk, in March last year.

After Michael Dark made the discovery with his metal detector, archaeologists found more coins, which are now at the British Museum in London.

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New Fossil Primate Challenges "Missing Link" Ida

Remember Ida? It's been just a month since the fossil primate made her debut on the History Channel where she was called a "missing link" between humans and primitive primates and a "revolutionary scientific find that will change everything." But Ida may be robbed of her claim to that title by a new fossil primate from Asia, published today. "It shows that Ida is out of the running as a [human] ancestor," says the fossil's discoverer, paleontologist K. Christopher Beard of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Researchers have long searched for the earliest anthropoids, advanced primates that were the ancestors of humans, apes, and monkeys. Until recently, most scientists thought anthropoids arose in Africa, where the oldest widely accepted members of the group lived as early as 37 million years ago in the Fayum province of Egypt.

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Via Aurelia: The Roman Empire's Lost Highway

French amateur archaeologist Bruno Tassan fights to preserve a neglected 2,000-year-old ancient interstate in southern Provence

At first glance, it didn't appear that impressive: a worn limestone pillar, six feet high and two feet wide, standing slightly askew beside a country road near the village of Pélissanne in southern France. "A lot of people pass by without knowing what it is," Bruno Tassan, 61, was saying, as he tugged aside dense weeds that had grown over the column since he last inspected it. Tassan was showing me a milliaire, or milestone, one of hundreds planted along the highways of Gaul at the time of the Roman Empire. The inscription had worn away ages ago, but Tassan, a documentary filmmaker and amateur archaeologist, was well versed in the artifact's history. This particular stone, set in place in 3 B.C. during the reign of Augustus, was once a perfect cylinder, set along the nearly 50 miles between Aquae Sextiae (Aix-en-Provence) and Arelate (Arles). "It's one of the last standing," Tassan said.

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Heritage Bill Dropped Again!

There is deep disappointment again that the Heritage Protection Bill for England and Wales does not appear in the Draft Legislative Programme for 2009/10 announced by the Government this week.

The Programme indicates the legislation likely to be included in the Queen’s Speech for the next parliamentary session. Clearly there is now little expectation of the legislative reforms which the 2007 White Paper promised would place the historic environment at the heart of the planning system. The Bill aimed to simplify and strengthen existing legislation and introduce opportunities for people to be more involved in protecting and enhancing their local heritage. It also paved the way for the signing and ratification of the Hague Convention, the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Without the Bill, the UK will soon be the only international power not to have signed the convention.

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Archaeological Excavations at Tetovo Fortress in Macedonia Yield Ottoman Period Finds

Several important structures and objects dating to the Ottoman Era were unearthed during last year’s excavations of the fortress of the town of Tetovo, located in north-western Macedonia, near the capital Skopje.

The newly discovered structures included three tunnels with underground corridors that connected them, a kitchen and dining room, a covered and a summer saray and a double well, Lulieta Abazi, Senior Custodian and the Manager of the Project, and Srekko Jovanovski, director of the Tetovo Museum, told the Utrinski Vesnik today.

Among the objects found during excavations were a silver-gilded cigarette box with preserved tobacco, coins from the Turkish period and ceramic fragments of smoking pipes.

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Remains of a medieval castle found at St. Adrian's tunnel in Basque Region

Those responsible for leading excavations into the St Adrian tunnel (between Gipuzkoa and Alava) which started a year ago have been amazed by recent findings.

"This is double what we expected (to find)," said one archaeologist. "Without doubt, what is emerging here is a big surprise."

Remains which have been found inside the tunnel, where today only the old Roman road and an ancient chapel still stand, have lead archaeologists to conclude that there once stool a medieval castle of some magnitude, as well as possibly an inn and a cemetery. All of these are evidence of the importance of the underpass which joins the Basque provinces of Gipuzkoa and Alava.

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Bulgaria: Archaeologists Research Balkans’ Oldest Funeral Site

A team of Dutch archaeologists has come to the village of Dzhulyunitsa in central northern Bulgaria in order to research the oldest funeral site in the Balkans.

The site, discovered by Nedko Elenski, an archaeologist from the Regional History Museum of Veliko Tarnovo in 2004, is a funeral of a person of the age between 12 and 13, which dates to 6300 – 6150 BC.

The Neolithic settlement near the modern-day village of Dzhulyunitsa existed between 6300 and 5700 BC. The settlement flourished around 6000 BC but, 300 years later, life there ceased to exist due to reasons that are still unknown to archaeologists.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Builder backs preservation of Roman Circus

A DEVELOPER has voiced support for plans to preserve Colchester’s Roman Circus.

Taylor Wimpey is building on part of the site, which was discovered in 2004.

There have been efforts to preserve it, including a failed bid by Colchester Council for £1million of lottery funding to build a visitors’ area.

Since then, Destination Colchester has been set up, with a brief to keep in public ownership as much as possible of the chariot racing circus’ footprint.

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Turkey plans to restart work on controversial dam project

Turkey today announced plans to resume a controversial £1bn dam project in the face of environmental protests that it would displace thousands of people, destroy habitats and drown priceless archaeological treasures.

The environment minister, Veysel Eroglu, said work on the Ilisu hydroelectric dam on the Tigris river in south-east Turkey would restart after a six-month funding suspension ends next week.

The announcement disappointed campaigners who believed that the project had suffered a potentially fatal blow last December, after German, Swiss and Austrian institutions announced they were withholding finance because fears about the dam's environmental and social impact had not been addressed. The governments agreed that 150 World Bank conditions on the environment, heritage sites, neighbouring states and human relocation must be met.

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'Hanging' Judge Jeffrey's privy uncovered at castle

A PRIVY that may have been used by ‘Hanging’ Judge Jeffreys has been discovered at Taunton Castle.

Excavations there have revealed several previously unrecorded features in the castle’#s Great Hall.

As well as the 17th Century toilet, several even older features have been uncovered.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Archaeology in Europe Weblog on Twitter

Following Kris Hirst’s very useful article “Twitter and Archaeology”, I have decided to add a Twitter feed from the Archaeology in Europe Weblog. You can find the feed at , or use the link in the sidebar.

Feature - Grid makes a SPLASH in underwater archaeology

Submerged beneath the waves lies a large part of human history.

For our ancestors, the ancient coastlines were attractive places to settle and experiment with what became the foundations of civilization. As the major glaciers melted between sixteen and six thousand years ago, these sites — where people first began to make fishing equipment, build boats and create permanent settlements — became engulfed by the rising seas.

But rather than destroying these ancient landscapes, the rising sea level instead preserved many of them, and with them many details in the story of our past.

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Computer Recognizes Archaeological Material And Fake Van Goghs

People find it very easy to recognise a face, even under very different circumstances. For a computer, on the other hand, it is extremely difficult. Dutch researcher Laurens van der Maaten has developed a new analytical technique which enables the computer to better interpret the content of photos and images, but also of data.

The ‘proof of the pudding' of his technique for automatic image analysis is a system for the automatic analysis and recognition of archaeological material such as pottery, Roman coins and glass from the Middle Ages. Van der Maaten has also successfully used the technique to distinguish forgeries and paintings by contemporaries of Van Gogh from paintings by Van Gogh himself.

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Record event numbers announced as Britain gets set for nationwide archaeology bash

Festival: The Festival of British Archaeology, various venues, July 28 – August 2 2009

More than 600 events are set to take place during this year's Festival of British Archaeology, the UK's biggest archaeological extravaganza.

Attractions range from foraging for secrets on the Thames foreshore to opportunities to join the excavation of a Victorian terraced house. There are also guided walks around the archaeological monuments of Cornwall and a visit to the dig of an 18th-century latrine. Many events have limited spaces, so booking is essential.

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