Friday, April 30, 2010

Virtual Medieval Museum created in Second Life

Local residents and history enthusiasts will now have the opportunity to explore Newport’s medieval past and see how the medieval castle and ship may have looked in the 15th century, by visiting an online virtual museum.

The University of Wales, Newport will this week reveal an interactive visualisation of the ship that allows people to walk around the ship’s underwater remains and visit a 3D museum containing historical information and publications.

Matt Chilcott, Development Director at the University of Wales, Newport’s, Institute of Digital Learning, (pictured left), said, “This innovative digital approach enables Newport to share its rich heritage with a range of audiences all over the world in a new and exciting way. For example, tourists planning to visit Newport can now have fun exploring the area’s history before they even arrive in Wales.”

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Rude Roman pots halt city revamp

WORK on the £11.6 million revamp of Canterbury's prestigious Beaney Institute has ground to a halt – because of Roman pornography.

Archaeologists are racing against time to recover lost evidence beneath the city's streets before the builders return.

Among the artefacts already uncovered are saucy carvings of couples having sex.

A spokesman confirmed: "We have found many personal effects and high-class pottery – known as samianware – depicting hunting and erotic scenes."

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Roman finds of ‘international importance’ from Carlisle dig

A 936-page report into the Millennium dig in the grounds of Carlisle castle in 1999 has now been published, detailing the 80,000 artefacts discovered and what they reveal about Roman life in the city.

Archaeologists dug five trenches on the Castle Green and Eastern Way and, over the following three years, unearthed a huge quantity of pottery, armour, weapons, and, unusually, wooden remains. They normally rot away but, because of the waterlogged soil, 2,000 large pieces of timber were discovered.

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Councillor wants to build houses on town centre site which could unearth medieval remains

A COUNCILLOR wants to build houses on a town centre site which archaeologists believe could unearth important medieval remains.

Experts want an investigation carried out before the artefacts are severely damaged or destroyed by work on the site.

Fenland and March Councillor Steve Count wants to build eight terraced homes on land east of 36 High Street, March.

Earlier permission for a bungalow was granted in 2007 and recently approval has been given on an adjacent site at the back of 38 High Street.

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Henry VIII replica wine fountain unveiled

A wine fountain similar to those used by Henry VIII has been unveiled at Hampton Court Palace.

The working replica was created after the remains of a 16th Century fountain were found during an archaeological dig at the London palace in 2008.

The 13ft (4m) fountain, made of timber, lead, bronze and gold leaf, stands on the site of the excavated fountain.

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Has the Anglo-Saxon stone been saved?

Earlier in the week we reported the consternation of historians over the sale of an Anglo-Saxon stone. Now the item has been withdrawn from auction

It was the Guardian wot won it. Perhaps. In Monday's G2 I reported that, to the consternation of archaeologists and historians, an Anglo-Saxon stone carving was to be sold yesterday by Bonhams in London.

The carving is part of a cross from Peakirk, Northamptonshire, a monument to St Pega, England's first female hermit, which fell into the hands of a couple called the Evereds when they acquired a former chapel and its outbuildings eight years ago. It wasn't regarded as part of the listed building; neither was it covered by the Treasure Act. So the fear was that it could disappear from public view or even go abroad.

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Humans Interbred with Neanderthals, Study Suggests

Humans today could be part Neanderthal, according to a new study that found our ancestors interbred with an extinct hominid species some millennia ago.

Neanderthals walked the Earth between about 130,000 and 30,000 years ago. While they co-existed with modern humans for a while, eventually they went extinct and we didn't. There has been intense scientific debate over how similar the two species were, and whether they might have mated with each other.

"The issue has been highly contentious for some time," said University of New Mexico genetic anthropologist Keith Hunley.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Virtual museum for Newport's medieval ship

A "virtual museum" which gives people the opportunity to experience medieval Newport and its ship and castle in the 15th Century is going online.

The University of Wales, Newport, has designed an interactive view of the medieval ship uncovered on the banks of the River Usk in 2002.

Visitors will be able to "walk" around the ship's underwater remains and see it in its medieval landscape.

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HARLOW: Workers unearth Roman finds at Prentice Place playground

The tiles, pieces of pottery and bricks which were discovered on the Potter Street site have been investigated by a team from Wessex Archaeology. The team has found the materials to be that of a Roman tile kiln.

The re-used construction of the small building's walls using tegula and brick which are typical of a kiln structure, alongside analysis of the material spread comprising dark carbon rich soils containing some Roman second and third century pottery.

After discussion with English Heritage and Essex County Council's historic buildings advisor, the remains will be retained for posterity and protected in situ with a carefully laid series of aggregates. Once covered, work will then recommence on the playground.

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Simple tools used for making cloth

THESE simple bone tools are about 1,000 years old and were discovered by archaeologists in Exeter.

They were used in different stages of making cloth. The circular items are 'spindle whorls', which originally had a wooden stick through the hole in the centre. These were used to spin wool into thread.

The plain long bones each have one pointed end. These are 'pin-beaters' which were used during weaving on a loom to push down the longitudinal threads.

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Archaeologists baffled over ‘bizarre’ Viking discovery

A TEAM of Irish archaeologists is puzzled by the "bizarre" discovery of a 1,150-year-old Viking necklace in a cave in the Burren.

Besides being the largest by far – up to 12 times longer than previous finds – the team is puzzled by how such a "high-status" Viking treasure came to lie in the Burren, an area never settled by the Norsemen.

The site where the necklace was found at Glencurran Cave was described by team leader Dr Marion Dowd of Sligo IT as a "treasure trove" for archaeologists.

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Latest Claim of Noah's Ark Discovery Like Others for Now, Experts Say

Despite the notable lack of significant evidence, the media and the blogosphere are abuzz over the cries of a team of Chinese and Turkish explorers who claim that the wooden structure they found on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey is none other than Noah’s Ark.

Experts in history, archaeology, and bibliology, meanwhile, are making note of the claim but not taking the bait.

They say they’ve heard the cries before and will need a lot more than the confirmation of 4,800-year-old wood to take the claims seriously.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Anglo-Saxon treasures revealed by Parker Library website

One of the most important collections of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts – for centuries kept at Corpus Christi College – has been entirely digitised, making it the first research library to have every page of its collection captured.

The Parker Library was entrusted to the College in 1574 by Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury under Queen Elizabeth from 1559 until his death in 1575, and one of the primary architects of the English Reformation.

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Satellite photography helps uncover lost city of Altinum

The lagoon city of Altinum was one of the richest in the Roman Empire – a staging post for traders from across the ancient world. Around the middle of the 5th century, however, its residents fled for fear of marauding barbarians, leaving a ghost town of crumbling villas and basilicas. After much of the masonry was used to build a new settlement nearby – known as Venice – the city was buried in fertile floodplains. Historians knew it existed, but it was hidden from view.

Now, more than 1500 years on, Altinum has risen again. Using sophisticated aerial photography, a crack team of earth scientists and archaeologists at the University of Padua have created a picture of how Altinum looked when it was abandoned – a unique time capsule of a city in the final years of the Roman Empire. By revealing the moisture content of the plants growing there today, which varies according to the presence of man-made structures beneath the topsoil, near infrared photographs provide a relief map of a once great city.

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U.S. military community volunteers help uncover Roman history

WIESBADEN, Germany -- They came, they dug, and they sifted through thousands of years of European history.

With construction crews chomping at the bit to lay the foundations for a new $133 million U.S. Army housing area just outside Wiesbaden Army Airfield, time is running short for German archaeologists seeking to uncover remnants of past settlements.

After having spent several months in the fall and spring sifting through soil which revealed several Roman wells, the foundations of a villa rustica (Roman farm complex) and various artifacts, members of the Hessen archaeology team put out a call for volunteers in the U.S. community to join in the documentary project.

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Roman sculptures withdrawn from auction amid fears they are stolen

Bonhams auction house acts after claims that second century AD artefacts were taken during illegal excavations

Four Roman sculptures are to be withdrawn from auction tomorrow amid claims that they were stolen from archaeological sites overseas.

Photographs seized by police suggested that the sculptures – funerary busts and a marble statue of a youth from the second century AD – were illicitly excavated, archaeologists told the Guardian.

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Viking treasure found in cave baffles experts

IRISH archaeologists have been left baffled by the 'bizarre' discovery of a 1,150-year-old Viking necklace in a Burren cave.

The necklace is the largest Viking necklace to be discovered in Ireland.

Dr Marion Dowd, of Sligo IT, is leading the excavation of Glencurran Cave in the Burren National Park, which she described as a "treasure trove" for archaeologists.

The necklace was one of the major items discovered in the dig and is described as a "stunning piece of jewellery" by Dr Dowd.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Outcry as Anglo-Saxon Inscribed Stone Goes on Sale at Bonhams

The CBA has written to Bonhams about this rare and vulnerable item of sculpture requesting that the lot is withdrawn.

CBA Director Mike Heyworth has written to the auction house Bonhams, requesting that they withdraw this lot from sale in tomorrow’s auction of antiquities and to allow the owner to receive it back without financial penalty.

The section of a cross-shaft is an important example of a rare and vulnerable form of Anglo-Saxon sculpture. Its scholarly and heritage value is recognised through the work of the British Academy-funded Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland.

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Lice hang ancient date on first clothes

For once lice are nice, at least for scientists investigating the origins of garments.

Using DNA to trace the evolutionary split between head and body lice, researchers conclude that body lice first came on the scene approximately 190,000 years ago. And that shift, the scientists propose, followed soon after people first began wearing clothing.

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Archaeologists Unearth New Finds near Strumica in Eastern Macedonia

A unique lamp from the fourth century with the image of Alexander the Great and gold jewellery from the second century BC were discovered by archaeologists in the Tsarevi Kuli area over the town of Strumica in eastern Macedonia.

The new finds discovered at the necropolis of the southern wall of the site confirm the theory that during Antiquity, Strumica was a well-developed trade centre, archaeologist Zoran Ruyak told the national newspaper Vecer today.

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Excavations near Reading show evidence of Boudicca

Evidence found at the Roman site of Silchester could mean it was the site of one of Boudicca's battles.

Professor Michael Fulford said that 13 years of excavations at Calleva had revealed evidence of the first gridded Iron Age town in Britain.

The site also bears the scars of possible early Roman military occupation, and evidence of later, widespread burning and destruction.

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Noah's Ark believed to have been found by archaeologists

Was Noah's Ark found by a team of archaeologist that were working in Turkey on Mount Ararat? The archaeologist team believes they have found the remains of Noah's Ark at an altitude of 4000 m.

A huge structure with wooden beams that were separated into a number of different compartments has been found. Carbon dating puts the find's age to be 4,800 years old which is consistent with the biblical flood records.

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Has Noah's Ark Been Found on Turkish Mountaintop?

A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers say wooden remains they have discovered on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey are the remains of Noah's Ark.

The group claims that carbon dating proves the relics are 4,800 years old, meaning they date to around the same time the ark was said to be afloat. Mt. Ararat has long been suspected as the final resting place of the craft by evangelicals and literalists hoping to validate biblical stories.

Yeung Wing-Cheung, from the Noah's Ark Ministries International research team that made the discovery, said: "It's not 100 percent that it is Noah's Ark, but we think it is 99.9 percent that this is it."

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Monday, April 26, 2010

New Light on Old Glass: Byzantine Glass and Mosaics, British Museum, 27-29 May 2010

A 3-day conference on Byzantine glass will be held at the British Museum in London 27-29 May 2010. The conference is being organised by Chris Entwistle, Curator of the Late Roman and Byzantine Collections, and Liz James, Director of the Leverhulme International Network for the Composition of Byzantine Glass Mosaic Tesserae (University of Sussex).

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Archaeological expedition seeking "volunteers"

An environmental charity wants “volunteers” for an archaeological expedition.

Earthwatch has been mapping an excavation site for more than a decade in South Shields, UK and as a volunteer you will help archaeologists excavate the Roman fort of Arbeia to better understand how ancient Romans and Europeans came into contact with each other.

The South Shields Roman Fort is the site of a Roman military and civilian settlement and lies within the UNESCO Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.

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Save our Anglo-Saxon stone!

Part of an ancient Northamptonshire monument to England's first female hermit is up for sale. Should it be allowed to leave Britain?

At the time it seemed the ideal solution. For eight years, Nick Evered has had a piece of carved Anglo-Saxon stone in his sitting room (it came with the house). "It's attractive," he says, but not the sort of thing he would go out and buy; and he could do without the responsibility of looking after it, insuring it and showing it to the occasional visiting scholar. Selling it seemed a good idea. But when he handed the stone over to Bonhams in London – where it is due to be auctioned on Wednesday – he had no idea what a storm the Anglo-Saxon specialists would blow up.

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Irish Walled Towns Initiative receives €850,000

The Irish government announced last month that the Walled Towns Initiative will receive €850,000 in funding this year. The news came as part of an announcment by John Gormley, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government of over €11.5m to support built heritage projects in Ireland.

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Probing Question: What can we learn from Neanderthal DNA?

What can we learn from the DNA of extinct humans?

"It can tell us a story about human history," says Webb Miller, Penn State professor of biology and computer science. Miller has been a leader in several major genome sequencing projects, which decipher the genetic code of all the chromosomes of an individual. Comparing the DNA sequences of modern and ancient humans can show us similarities and differences in our basic biology, he notes. It can tell us which prehistoric populations died out completely, and which contributed genes to modern humans. It can even be used to reconstruct the appearance of ancient humans. In 2007, scientists working on a single gene found that some Neanderthals may have had light skin and red hair.

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Roman altar stones unearthed at Scottish cricket ground

Roman altar stones dating back almost 2000 years have been found at a cricket pavilion in Musselburgh, East Lothian.

The stones have been described as the most significant find of their kind in the past 100 years.

Renovations were planned at the pavilion but archaeologists had to survey the protected building before work could begin.

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Hobbit debate goes out on some limbs

Two fossil hobbits have given what’s left of their arms and legs to science. That wasn’t enough, though, to quell debate over hobbits’ evolutionary status at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists on April 17.

Since 2004, the discoverers of unusual “hobbit” fossils on the Indonesian island of Flores have attributed their find to a pint-sized species, Homo floresiensis, that lived there from 95,000 to 17,000 years ago. These researchers also suspect, on the basis of hobbit anatomy and recent stone tool discoveries on Flores, that H. floresiensis evolved from a currently unknown hominid species that migrated from Africa to Indonesia more than 1 million years ago.

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Protecting Beothuk relics

A site offering a wealth of information about Newfoundland and Labrador's existence prior to European settlers is battling the affects of age, as erosion takes its toll.

An archeologist who has been digging in Burnside for almost 20 years hopes a provincial designation can help give the location a boost.

Laurie McLean, along with the Beothuk Institute and Burnside Heritage Foundation, has applied to the new Provincial Historic Commemoration Program.

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Second canoe find floats mayor's boat

THE NATIONAL Museum is to investigate what might be the discovery of an ancient dug-out canoe by the same man who found a similar boat less than a kilometre away more than 40 years ago.

Arklow mayor Peter Dempsey said he couldn't believe his eyes when he spotted what appeared to be the remnants of a dug-out canoe embedded in the bank of the Avoca river in Arklow town.

He made a similar find as a teenager in 1966 when he and a friend found what looked like a hand-made punt fashioned out of a tree near the famous 19 Arches Bridge in the Co Wicklow town.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Early humans may have bred with other species – twice

Human evolution is looking more tangled than ever. A new genetic study of nearly two thousand people from around the world suggests that some of our ancestors bred with other species of humans, such as Neanderthals, at least twice.

"The researchers suggest the interbreeding happened about 60,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean and, more recently, about 45,000 years ago in eastern Asia," Nature News reports from the annual meeting of the American Society of Physical Anthropologists in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

That conclusion is based on a study of over 600 genetic markers, called microsatellites, sequenced in nearly 100 different populations.

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Archaeologists unearth 6th century Ikea-style temple

Archaeologists in Italy have unearthed the remains of a 6th century BC temple-style building complete with detailed assembly instructions which they have likened to an Ikea do-it-yourself furniture pack.

Nearly every remaining part of the elaborate structure, excavated near the southern city of Potenza, is inscribed with detailed instructions on how it should be built.

The team believe the building, at Torre Satriano, may have been a temple or palace.

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We may all be a little bit Neanderthal as study finds species interbred twice with humans

Neanderthals may have disappeared from the world 30,000 years ago, but a new study suggests they never really left.

For a recent genetic analysis suggests the ancient species actually interbred with the ancestors of modern humans twice. All of us, it seems, are carrying a few Neanderthal genes within our DNA.

Anthropologists from the University of New Mexico studied the DNA, which are the building blocks of life, of nearly 2,000 people from around the globe.

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Bulgarian Builders Almost Ruin Thrace Archaeology Site

Specialists from the Yambol History Museum have prevented the destruction of a valuable archaeological site during road construction in Southeastern Bulgaria.

On Monday, employees of the local “Mining Company” started to expand a road running past the Ancient Thrace town of Kabile without a permission from the Tundzha Municipality.

The company also failed to inform the regional history museum of the Yambol District.

As the road construction started, the digging machines destroyed tiles and pottery from the Ancient Thrace settlement within a 50-meter long and several meters wide area along the road in question.

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The sealed wonders of Sardinia

Sardinia is an Italian island known mainly among archaeologists for its nuraghes - ancient towers somewhat reminiscent of Scottish brochs, but far more numerous and quite elaborate. On the island you will find a great number of other ancient wonders: from the so-called 'giants tombs' to the rock-cut tombs locally known as 'domus de janas' (houses of the fairies) .

So, Sardinia is truly an amazing place for everyone interested in ancient monuments. But some of the most striking examples may lie hidden for centuries after being discovered and then excavated by the archaeologists. During a recent archaeological tour of the island, we stopped for the night at Sas Abbilas farm house, located in a secluded little valley near Bonorva (Sassari), not too far from the well-known prehistoric necropolis of Sant'Andrea Priu. Mr Antonello Porcu, the farm house owner, showed us a series of striking images he had taken with his camera last year, showing 70cm wide red ochre spirals painted on the walls of a side cell of a prehistoric tomb that had been excavated in 2009. Then he told us the story of the 'tomba della scacchiera' - the chequered tomb.

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4,000-year-old lentils ready to be planted in Kütahya

Plants grown from lentils discovered during a dig in Kütahya and believed to be thousands of years old will soon be planted, scientists have announced.

Speaking to the press, Dr. Nüket Bingöl of the biology department at Dumlupınar University said the lentils, which were found in the Seyitömer district during a dig by the university’s archaeology department, were germinated four months ago using a tissue culture method. “We have in hand 17 [plants grown from the] 4,000-year-old lentils,” he said. “Now we’re going to plant our sprouts in the field and try to get seeds from them. … Our plants are living in a sterile environment, but we don’t know what will happen when they’re planted in the field.”

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Kölner Felsbildarchäologe widerspricht Artikel in "New Scientist"

Es schien, als hätten zwei kanadische Forscherinnen Urgeschichte neu geschrieben. Im Februar veröffentlichte das Fachmagazin "New Scientist" einen Artikel, und das Nachrichtenmagazin "Focus" berichtete vergangene Woche darüber, dass die Altsteinzeitarchäologin April Nowell und die Studentin Genevieve von Petzinger von der kanadischen University of Victoria die älteste Schrift der Welt entdeckt hätten.

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Climate Crank Inadvertently Does Archaeology a Favour

As mentioned here before, dendrochronology has a problem with confidential data. European dendro labs tend to keep their data as in-house trade secrets in order to be able to charge for their services. This means that the labs function as black boxes: you pay a fee, stick a piece of wood into the box, a date comes out the other end, and you have no way to evaluate the process taking place inside. This is poor science.

For reasons of climate skepticism, a London banker named Douglas Keenan has now probably managed to liberate a 7000 year base curve for Irish oak from Queen's University Belfast by legal means. Keenan is a notorious crank. But the UK Information Commissioner's Office has ruled that the university must hand over the data to him, effectively placing them in the public domain.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Climate sceptic wins landmark data victory 'for price of a stamp'

An arch-critic of climate scientists has won a major victory in his campaign to win access to British university data that could reveal details of Europe's past climate.

In a landmark ruling, the UK Information Commissioner's Office has ruled that Queen's University Belfast must hand over data obtained during 40 years of research into 7,000 years of Irish tree rings to a City banker and part-time climate analyst, Doug Keenan.

This week, the Belfast ecologist who collected most of the data, Professor Mike Baillie, described the ruling as "a staggering injustice ... We are the ones who trudged miles over bogs and fields carrying chain saws. We prepared the samples and - using quite a lot of expertise and judgment – we measured the ring patterns. Each ring pattern therefore has strong claims to be our copyright. Now, for the price of a stamp, Keenan feels he is entitled to be given all this data."

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Laser to scan Robin Hood's prison under Nottingham city

dungeon believed to have housed Robin Hood when he was caught by the Sheriff of Nottingham is to be surveyed using a laser.

It is part of a major project to explore every cave in Nottingham.

Robin Hood is believed to have been held captive in an oubliette (underground dungeon) located at what is now the Galleries of Justice.

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England's 700 year old Coronation Chair to be restored

Westminster Abbey has commissioned conservation work on the Coronation Chair in which nearly every British monarch has been crowned since 1308.

Only three sovereigns - Edward V, Mary I and Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936 before the ceremony was held - were not crowned seated in the large oak chair.

But wear and tear has taken its toll since the royal seat, housed at Westminster Abbey, was commissioned by Edward I in 1300.

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Runic Seminar at Aberdeen

There will be a one-day seminar on Runes in Context: Runes, Runic Inscriptions, Early Scandinavian Society and Early Germanic Languages at the University of Aberdeen on 3 May. I don’t have very much information about it, but the speakers have been confirmed–assuming the volcano stops doing its dirty work–as:

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Ancient Hereford ditch was 'royal city boundary'

A Bronze Age earth ditch has been found in Hereford which archaeologists say may have been used to mark the city's old tax boundary.

It is 5m (16ft) deep in places and was found using aerial, laser scanning equipment to map the land's contours.

The ditch has been filled in with earth over the years and now resembles only a slight depression at ground level.

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Nanostructure of 5,000-year-old mummy skin reveals insight into mummification process

Using cutting-edge microscopy techniques, researchers have gained insight into how human mummies can be extremely well-preserved for thousands of years. A team of scientists from Germany and Italy has investigated skin samples from Europe's oldest natural mummy, the 5,300-year-old "Iceman" who was buried in a glacier shortly after death in the Otzal Alps between Italy and Austria. The researchers found that the underlying structure of the mummy's skin is largely unaltered compared with the skin of a modern living human, likely maintaining its protective function due to dehydration.

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Legacy of Stone

Location: Ontario, Canada Length: 25 min

The golden sun setting between the soft dunes of the Sahara introduces this personal and deeply felt account in which the author reveals to the viewer a page of her intimate diary. This moving film invites spectators to open their eyes and share what the author sees of another world, specifically the west African country of Mauritania. It is a meeting between the eyes of those who are there to look and those who return the gaze. In the process, outsiders can begin to understand the life and culture of a living yet ancient society that is seldom seen or considered.

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Help choose the next UK World Heritage Site

The UK Government is preparing a new Tentative List of natural, cultural and mixed sites for potential nomination for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List, to be submitted to UNESCO in 2011, with a view to putting forward nominations to the World Heritage Committee from 2012.

Applications are invited from Local Authorities and others throughout the UK, the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, and will be assessed by a panel of independent experts appointed by Government

Find out more on the DCMS consultation website.

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Expeditions take you back in time

STEP through a window to the past on an Earthwatch expedition.

Volunteers are needed to help international environmental charity Earthwatch to unearth the past on two archaeological expeditions to the north of England and Tuscany.

Earthwatch teams have been mapping an extraordinary excavation site for more than a decade in South Shields. As a volunteer on the Earthwatch expedition Ancient Britain: Romans on the Tyne, you will help archaeologists to excavate the Roman fort of Arbeia and its surroundings, to better understand how ancient Romans and Europeans came into contact with each other. The South Shields Roman Fort is the site of a Roman military and civilian settlement and lies within the Unesco Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site.

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Archaeological investigation to take place for Nottingham's Robin Hood Month

The Galleries of Justice in Nottingham is holding a special archaeological investigation into the dungeons under Shire Hall.

Experts from Trent and Peak Archaeology, based at the University of Nottingham, have started laser scanning in the hope of discovering exactly when these mysterious dungeons were first carved out of the sandstone rock.

"Now is the time to uncover the mystery that surrounds this grim and eerie space and link the site to Nottingham's most famous outlaw," declared Tim Desmond, Chief Executive of the Galleries of Justice Museum.

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Stonehenge Down Under: Australians copy Neolithic rock structure to draw tourists

A full-sized replica of Stonehenge will be built on a beach in western Australia after a small town gave the green light for construction in a bid to draw tourists.

The shire council in Esperance, 460 miles south-west of Perth, has approved plans for the A$1.2m (£722,749) project, which it hopes will generate much-needed tourist revenue for the small coastal community – its only attraction at the moment is small piece of the US Skylab which fell onto a nearby farm in 1979.

"Stonehenge Down Under" is being spearheaded by the local Rotary club, which wants to build the structure from local pink granite on a council-owned site overlooking Twilight Beach, just outside the town.

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Ancient stones found in Devon

Archaeologists revealed today what they believe is a "spectacular" monument hundreds of years older than Stonehenge on one of the most remote peaks on Dartmoor in Devon.

The nine stones that make up the monument, which are up to 2.6 metres high but just 20cm wide, are lying flat but it is thought they originally stood in a long, thin line.

They were discovered at Cut Hill six years ago but experts have only just carbon-dated the stones to about 3,500BC. They appear to be aligned to mark the rising of the midsummer sun, which suggests they could have symbolic and astronomical purposes.

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Religious Beliefs Seen as Basis of Origins of Palaeolithic Art

The idea that palaeolithic art is based in religious beliefs isn't new. But for years, anthropologists, archaeologists and historians of art understood these artistic manifestations as purely aesthetic and decorative motives. Eduardo Palacio-Pérez, researcher at the University of Cantabria (UC), now reveals the origins of the theory.

"This theory is does not originate with the prehistorians, in other words, those who started to develop the idea that the art of primitive peoples was linked with beliefs of a symbolic-religious nature were the anthropologists," Eduardo Palacio-Pérez, author of the study and researcher at UC, said.

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Battle of Prestonpans took place 'further east'

A report has claimed that the Battle of Prestonpans actually took place 500 metres (0.3 miles) further east than previously thought.

A team from the University of Glasgow's Centre for Battlefield Archaeology (Guard) has been working in the area over the last 18 months.

It said the main area of attack happened further east towards Seton, not south of Cockenzie Power Station.

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Chinese Pigs 'Direct Descendants' of First Domesticated Breeds

Modern-day Chinese pigs are directly descended from ancient pigs which were the first to be domesticated in the region 10,000 years ago, a new archaeological and genetic study has revealed.

An international team of researchers, led by Durham University (UK) and the China Agricultural University, in Beijing, say their findings suggest a difference between patterns of early domestication and movement of pigs in Europe and parts of East Asia.

The research, published April 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, looked at the DNA sequences of more than 1,500 modern and 18 ancient pigs.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Voices of the Past

While collecting material for the list of social networks for archaeology (see Archaeology in Europe April 18) I received suggestions of several from David Connolly of the British Archaeological Jobs Resource (BAJR). Among the sites he suggested was the excellent “Voices of the Past”.

The site describes its aims as “The purpose of the Voices of the Past netcast, podcast and accompanying website is to help inspire the advancement of heritage values in our society using today’s online communications tools known as social media.”

It is a brilliantly constructed site! You can visit it at:

Valuing our heritage

For any country to have elements of its cultural or natural heritage internationally recognised is a badge of honour, all the more so if the sites in question are inscribed on Unesco’s World Heritage List. So far, the Republic has just two such world heritage sites – the great megalithic passage tombs of Brú na Bóinne and Sceilig Mhichíl, the extraordinary elevated monastic site above the Atlantic Ocean. Northern Ireland has another, the famed Giant’s Causeway on the north Antrim coast.

A new “tentative list” of six candidates for world heritage status has now been submitted to Unesco by Minister for the Environment John Gormley. As well as individual entries for the Burren, the Céide Fields and Clonmacnoise, the list includes geographically dispersed groupings - western stone forts such as Dún Aonghusa and Cahercommaun, early monastic sites such as Glendalough and Monasterboice and ancient royal sites, most notably the Hill of Tara. “The Historic City of Dublin” (code for the capital’s Georgian core) is hardly a single place, given the extent of redevelopment over the past century or more.

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Priceless Roman sculpture excavated in Stobi

A well-preserved, priceless marble head of Octavius Augustus - part of a sculpture from the early Roman period - and a small torso were excavated Friday at Stobi archaeological site, which was visited by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski together with Culture Minister Elizabeta Kanceska-Milevska and the director of the Department for Cultural Heritage Protection, Pasko Kuzman.

According to its features, the sculpture was intended to immortalize emperors and notable citizens from the first and second century A.D. It was housed in a temple, which was robbed soon after it was demolished in the classical era.

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“X-Woman” coexisted with Neanderthals and modern humans 40,000 years ago

Washington, March 25 (ANI): A new study has suggested that an unknown type of human, nicknamed “X-Woman,” coexisted with Neanderthals and our own species between 30,000 to 50,000 years ago.

According to a report in Discovery News, the as-of-yet-unnamed new human species represents the first time that a hominid has been described not from the structure of its fossilized bones, but from the sequence of its DNA.

Researchers focused on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), genes passed down from mothers to their children – hence the X-Woman nickname.

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Gerhard Bersu Stipendium und Projektförderung: Bewerbungsverfahren eröffnet

Forscher und Studenten, die archäologische Themen aus Sachsen, Böhmen oder Niederschlesien bearbeiten, können sich um Fördergelder der Stiftung Pro Archaeologia Saxoniae bewerben.

Die in Sachsen beheimatete Stiftung Pro Archaeologia Saxoniae fördert archäologische Projekte in Sachsen, Böhmen und Niederschlesien. Das vierte Bewerbungsverfahren für das Gerhard Bersu Stipendium sowie die Projektförderung für den Förderungszeitraum 2011 bis 2013 ist jetzt eröffnet.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nine megalithic sites in England linked to death rituals

Nine megalithic sites in a remote part of Dartmoor (England), share features in common with Stonehenge, and may shed light on the meaning behind these prehistoric stone monuments, according to a report in the latest issue of British Archaeology. The Dartmoor megaliths, which were recently carbon-dated to around 3500 BCE, could predate Stonehenge, but both sites feature large standing stones that are aligned to mark the rising of the midsummer sun and the setting of the midwinter sun. Yet another Dartmoor stone monument, called Drizzlecombe, shares the same orientation. The ancient Brits were not necessarily sun worshippers, however.

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Remains in Southwell 'could be Roman temple'

Remains unearthed in Nottinghamshire could be an unknown Roman temple, archaeologists have claimed.

Excavations on the Minster C of E School site in Southwell between September 2008 and May 2009 revealed walls, ditches and ornate stones.

The team analysing the finds said the shape and quality of the remains suggest it could have been an important place of worship.

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Social Networks for Archaeology

The power and importance of social networks are growing all the time, not least in the field of archaeology.

I thought that it would be useful to compile a list of these sites for archaeology. The list as it stands at the moment can be found here…, or accessed from the sidebar.

Obviously, this list is very incomplete at the moment, so if you know of any archaeological social network site that should be added, please give details on the form here…

BBC and British Library look at the history of maps

The BBC and the British Library are collaborating on projects that will explore the history of maps going back to the Middle Ages. BBC Four begins by offering two new series: Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession, and The Beauty of Maps.

Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession, which begins this weekend, is a three-part series presented by Renaissance academic Professor Jerry Brotton, which tells the epic and beautiful story of cartography, from hammered rock art through to the planetary images of Google Earth. The Beauty of Maps is a four-part series, made by Tern Television, which will reveal how a cartographic image is as much about the beauty of its colours, lines, shapes and lettering as it is a geographical tool to aid navigation.

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Row of ancient stones found in Dartmoor ‘are older than Stonehenge’

A row of ancient stones that mirrors the path of the sun like Stonehenge but is up to 1,000 years older has been unearthed on Dartmoor.

The discovery of the megaliths has thrilled archaeologists and once again raised debate about the purpose of Stonehenge, which is 120 miles away on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

The nine stones at Cut Hill, one of the highest points on Dartmoor in Devon, have been carbon-dated to around 3,500BC.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

'Java Man' takes age to extremes

New dating of Indonesian strata produces unexpected results

New age estimates for Homo erectus fossils on the Indonesian island of Java have physical anthropologists scratching their crania.

After convincing most of their colleagues that H. erectus may have persisted on the Indonesian island of Java as recently as 30,000 years ago — late enough to have coexisted in Asia with modern humans for more than 100,000 years — anthropologists presented new analyses April 14 suggesting the fossils in question may actually predate Homo sapiens by hundreds of thousands of years.

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Lead from a Roman ship to be used for hunting neutrinos

Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics, at its laboratories in Gran Sasso, has received 120 lead bricks from an ancient Roman ship that sunk off of the coast of Sardinia 2,000 years ago. The ship's cargo was recovered 20 years ago, thanks to the contribution of the INFN, which at the time received 150 of these bricks. The INFN is now receiving additional bricks to complete the shield for the CUORE experiment, which is being conducted to study extremely rare events involving neutrinos. After 2,000 years under the sea, this lead will now be used to perform a task 1,400 metres under the Apennine mountain.

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Newport's medieval ship 'probably French'

NEWPORT’S medieval ship is likely to have been built in France, new evidence suggests.

The ship discovered in the mud of the bank of the River Usk in June 2002 by workers building the Riverfront Arts Centre had for years been thought to be Portuguese.

But a small silver coin sealed into the ship’s keel as a good-luck charm has now been traced to the French village of Crémieu, in the Isère region of Central France.

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Archaeologists to probe newly-discovered tunnels

A team of archaeologists has been drafted in to explore secret tunnels discovered beneath an historic West Midland home.

The tunnels have been found at the 13th century Manor House in West Bromwich, and experts from Birmingham University are preparing to go inside and discover more secrets about the building. The entrance and exit to the network of tunnels was discovered earlier this year when the moat was drained as part of the ongoing restoration works.

Frank Caldwell, principle officer for museums arts and tourism in Sandwell, said: “We discovered an entrance large enough for a person to crawl through that seems to connect to some open drainage channels at the other end of the building.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Supervolcano: How humanity survived its darkest hour

THE first sign that something had gone terribly wrong was a deep rumbling roar. Hours later the choking ash arrived, falling like snow in a relentless storm that raged for over two weeks. Despite being more than 2000 kilometres from the eruption, hominins living as far away as eastern India would have felt Toba's fury.

Toba is a supervolcano on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It has blown its top many times but this eruption, 74,000 years ago, was exceptional. Releasing 2500 cubic kilometres of magma - nearly twice the volume of mount Everest - the eruption was more than 5000 times as large as the 1980 eruption of mount St Helens in the US, making it the largest eruption on Earth in the last 2 million years (see "Blown away").

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‘Time Team’ university centre is thrown a lifeline against closure

A closure-threatened archaeology service at a Scots university, responsible for hit TV shows such as Channel 4’s Time Team, has been given a reprieve.

The ruling court of Glasgow University is to set up a committee to look at the finances of the centre, rather than moving straight to closure.

The move comes after The Herald highlighted the plight of the Glasgow University Archeological Research Division (Guard).

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Fury as Gormley pushes Tara for heritage honour

CONSERVATIONISTS have hit out at Green Party leader John Gormley after his department included the Hill of Tara on a shortlist of seven sites put forward for world heritage status.

Campaigners from Save Newgrange and Tara Watch accused the Government of failing to protect Newgrange – which already has the coveted Unesco title – and Tara, the seat of the High Kings of Ireland.

The controversial M3 is passing just under a mile from the ancient hill, while other plans have been drawn up for the N2 Slane bypass only 1,600ft from the Newgrange-Brú na Bóinne complex.

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Ancient skeleton found on beach

A COUPLE walking their dogs on a beach at Bradwell were stunned to find a complete skeleton uncovered by the ravages of the sea.

The human bones and skull, which are thought to be centuries old, possibly even Roman, were revealed by the worst winter battering of the coast in decades.

Kim Young, 50, said: "I just saw some teeth. As I bent down I realised I was looking at a skull.

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Knaresborough Area Hoard officially declared as treasure

THE finders of a huge haul of rare silver coins in a North Yorkshire field have described the discovery as like “winning the lottery.”

The find, known as the Knaresborough Area Hoard, was the centre of a hearing in Harrogate yesterday which saw the Norman relics officially declared as treasure.

The find, estimated to be worth about £40,000, was discovered by the West Riding Detector Group in a secret location, between April 2008 and April 2009. It is the largest haul of its kind ever found in the north of England.

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New gallery at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre reveals secrets behind Tudor scrap

Two months after the exact location of the bloody 15th century battle which killed King Richard III was officially identified, a new gallery at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre will divulge how experts pinpointed the fatal field alongside a deadly display of weapons and ammunition.

Historians had spent decades debating the true location where Henry Tudor and King Richard clashed on August 22 1485, but a groundbreaking metal detecting survey named the previously unsuspected Fenn Lane field as the definitive spot.

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Cosmic archaeology: Signs of life

Is it time for a new approach to finding extraterrestrials?

IN THE Cascade mountains of California, north of Lassen Peak, astronomers are looking for aliens. The Allen Telescope Array (mostly paid for by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft) consists of 42 dish antennas, each six metres across, scattered across the countryside. When the array is complete, it will have 350 dishes that, by acting in concert, will have the power of a single instrument 700 metres across.

The Allen telescope is looking for aliens the traditional way: by searching for radio signals that have either been sent out deliberately, or leaked into space accidentally, as human radio signals are. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, is a 50-year-old idea. Much progress has been made in locating Earthlike planets (see article) but about 1,000 star systems have also been subject to serious radio scrutiny. The Allen array will increase the number to 1m within a decade.

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Roman ingots to shield particle detector

Lead from ancient shipwreck will line Italian neutrino experiment.

Around four tonnes of ancient Roman lead was yesterday transferred from a museum on the Italian island of Sardinia to the country's national particle physics laboratory at Gran Sasso on the mainland. Once destined to become water pipes, coins or ammunition for Roman soldiers' slingshots, the metal will instead form part of a cutting-edge experiment to nail down the mass of neutrinos.

The 120 lead ingots, each weighing about 33 kilograms, come from a larger load recovered 20 years ago from a Roman shipwreck, the remains of a vessel that sank between 80 B.C. and 50 B.C. off the coast of Sardinia. As a testimony to the extent of ancient Rome's manufacturing and trading capacities, the ingots are of great value to archaeologists, who have been preserving and studying them at the National Archaeological Museum in Cagliari, southern Sardinia. What makes the ingots equally valuable to physicists is the fact that over the past 2,000 years their lead has almost completely lost its natural radioactivity.

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Dig for Shakespeare goes on-line

Shakespeare fans and archaeologists can now join in the exploration of Shakespeare’s last home on-line, in a new website launched by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. The brand new website supports the groundbreaking archaeological exploration of New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon, which began earlier this month in a bid to reveal new information about Shakespeare’s later life. has been designed to keep potential visitors, as well as Shakespeare fans throughout the world, up to date with the latest news from the archaeological dig at New Place. The website has been created to keep the dig accessible to visitors young and old, incorporating a clip library with the latest footage of archaeologists at work, interviews with experts and volunteers involved in the dig, and background material about what the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is hoping to find.

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New Bosworth Battlefield gallery opens

Leicestershire County Council (LCC) has officially unveiled a new gallery at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre,Sutton Cheney, near Market Bosworth.

The attraction boasts a range of archaeological objects uncovered at the nearby 15th century battlefield site, which was the scene for the penultimate battle of the War of the Roses in 1485.

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Canterbury Cathedral to digitise archives

A unique collaboration between the University of Kent, Canterbury Cathedral Archives and researchers in Rouen has laid the foundations for a new and exciting project through which Canterbury residents and visitors may in the future gain easy access to some of the older and/or more fragile documents held in the Cathedral Archives.

Known as DocExplore, the project aims to develop an interactive system which allows digitised versions of valuable historical documents to be explored via a touch-screen, simulating, as far as possible, the experience of accessing the physical object itself. But users can see much more than the document – they can access translations and transcriptions, read more about the period in which it was written, its contents and who would have used it at the time by using the additional text, image, sound and video resources that are a feature of the system.

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CINARCHEA - Archäologie im Film

Vom 22.-24. April 2010 findet in Kiel das 9. Internationale Archäologie-Film-Kunst-Festival statt. Die archäologischen Filmtage sind die einzige Veranstaltung dieser Art in Deutschland und Nordeuropa.

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Aerial images in forensic studies

A technique that shows evidence of animals buried beneath green spaces decades ago could be used to help find human remains.

"Hyperspectral imaging" analyses visible and infrared images taken by aircraft and detects changes in vegetation caused by nutrients released from decomposing bodies.

Forensic archaeologists from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, tested the technique at a Quebec safari park and detected differences in chlorophyll content of plants growing on known burial sites. The findings, presented at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting in February, were reported in New Scientist.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bosworth battle gallery to open

A new gallery showcasing objects from a 15th Century battlefield site is opening in Leicestershire.

The display at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre will display artillery and bullets from the actual battle.

It shows how archaeologists found the true location of the conflict, centuries after it happened.

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Source of Bible Covenant with God discovered?

Archaeologists working in Turkey have unearthed an Assyrian tablet dating to around 670 BCE that "could have served as a model for the biblical description of God's covenant with the Israelites." What this fascinating discovery suggests, of course, is that the Bible tale of a divine pact does not represent "history" or a "factual" event, but is instead a fictional rewrite, borrowing or plagiarism of this older Assyrian treaty.

Over the centuries, many Bible critics, minimalists and mythicists have asserted that much of the Old Testament constitutes not factual history but a rehash of ancient myths and traditions dating to before the founding of the Jewish kingdom. This new find apparently adds more evidence to that theory, and it is quite refreshing that both the scholars and the media are spelling out clearly this possible "borrowing," without prejudice in favor of bibliolatry or upholding unprovable matters of faith.

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Do Dartmoor's ancient stones have link to Stonehenge?

LITTERED across the hills of Dartmoor in Devon, southern England, around 80 rows and circles of stones stand sentinel in the wild landscape. Now, striking similarities between one of these monuments and Stonehenge, 180 kilometres to the east, suggest they may be the work of the same people.

The row of nine stones on Cut Hill was discovered in 2004 on one of the highest, most remote hills of Dartmoor national park. "It is on easily the most spectacular hill on north Dartmoor," says Andrew Fleming, president of the Devon Archaeological Society. "If you were looking for a distant shrine in the centre of the north moor, that's where you would put it."

Ralph Fyfe of the University of Plymouth and independent archaeologist Tom Greeves have now carbon-dated the peat surrounding the stones. This suggests that at least one of the stones had fallen - or been placed flat on the ground - by between 3600 and 3440 BC, and another by 3350 to 3100 BC (Antiquity, vol 84, p 55).

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res Scotland’s archaeology

BBC ALBA is into the transmission of a compelling six-part archaeology series exploring the substance of what lies under the surface of Scotland’s landscape.

The series covers the most advanced and dynamic excavation projects taking place in Scotland including the more conventional processes of buried landscape, accidental discovery, coastal archaeology. It also explores the less conventional categories of the ritual and the extreme.

Each programme will be dedicated to exploring one theme of archaeology:

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hundreds of rare Roman pots discovered by accident off Italy's coast by British research ship

A British underwater research team has discovered hundreds of rare Roman pots by accident, while trawling the wreckages of ships on the sea bed.

The team had been using remote operated vehicles (ROVs) to scour modern wrecks for radioactive materials.

They were amazed to come across the remains of a Roman galley which sank off the coast of Italy thousands of years ago.

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300-year-old shoes found in castle wall during restoration

A collection of 300-year-old shoes has been found walled into a Gothic tower at a palace in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, regional authorities said late on Monday.

Eight women’s, men’s and children’s shoes were uncovered within the wall during restorations at the Liedberg Palace in Korschenbroich, a spokesperson for the Neuss district authority said.

Scholars working for the authority believe that the shoes were immured 12 metres high in the wall around 1708, she said.

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Anglo-Saxon Stafford. Archaeological Investigations 1954-2004. Field Reports Online

In July AD 913 Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, founded Stafford as part of a campaign for the recovery of England from the Danes. She was the commander of the left flank in the northward advance, while her brother Edward the Elder led the pincer movement on the right flank. Wessex had already been won, thanks to the persistence and ingenuity of their father, Alfred the Great.

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Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity : Special Lecture, 20 May 2010

Noel Lenski
(University of Colorado at Boulder):
‘Slavery and Society in Merovingian Gaul’
Thursday 20 May 2010 at 5pm
Danson Room, Trinity College

Professor Lenski is also talking at the Patristics Seminar, on Tuesday 18 May at 5 pm (Lecture Room 1, Christ Church, on 'John Chrysostom on Slavery'.

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Brain Parts Found in Ancient Human Ancestor

Electromagnetic radiation revealed parts of the 1.9-million-year-old brain, as well as eggs of insects that fed on it.


A remnant of brain may be present in the remains of a new human ancestor.
Fossilized insect eggs whose larvae may have fed on the ancestor could also be present.
The 1.9-million-year-old hominid's species is thought to have given rise to modern humans.

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Unshrouding the science of the Shroud

The exact history of Turin shroud, which has gone on display for the first time in 10 years, is hotly disputed. So what do we know about its authenticity?

It's perhaps the most controversial religious artefact in the world. The Shroud of Turin cloth that supposedly wrapped Jesus's body after the crucifixion and became imprinted with his image, has intrigued millions of believers and sceptics alike. Having gone on public display for the first time in a decade, the debate over its authenticity is set to resume.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

New heritage trail for Wheathampstead

A NEW village heritage trail is to be developed thanks to a £10,000 grant which has just been awarded to Wheathampstead.

The origins of the village date back to some 4,000 years BC and a huge amount of archaeological evidence has been uncovered recently including flint tools, bronze pots and Roman glassware.

The St Albans and District Local Strategic Partnership has just approved Wheathampstead parish council's grant application to showcase the history with a heritage trail, which will be designed in two phases.

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UK accused over sale of 'looted' Italian treasures to pay tax bill

Rome wants back the 3,000-year-old Etruscan artefacts that came into the hands of a dealer – but ministers aim to sell them

Ministers have been condemned for forcing through the sale of up to 1,000 antiquities allegedly stolen from Italy, in order to pay the debts of a bankrupt private collector.

The Home Office has sparked outrage by allowing Roman bronzes, Etruscan gold and other treasures to be placed on the market by liquidators acting for the government in an attempt to recover unpaid taxes from the former owner, Robin Symes, a dealer with alleged links to the smuggling trade and a UK prison record.

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Ancient Pre-Human Skeleton May Contain Shrunken Brain

A shrunken brain may potentially lie inside the fossil skull of a newfound candidate for the immediate ancestor to the human lineage, researchers now reveal.

This new species, dubbed Australopithecus sediba, was accidentally discovered in South Africa by the 9-year-old son of a scientist. Two members of this hominid were introduced to the world last week - a juvenile male and an adult female, who might have known each other in life and who could have met their demise by falling into the remains of the cave where they were discovered.

Preliminary results from scans of the extraordinarily preserved male skull now show the presence of what could be fossilized insect eggs and a brain remnant.

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New human species: Australopithecus sediba

A boy and his father were out walking around north of Johannesburg, South Africa. Luckily, the father was a paleoanthropologist and he knew the remains found by his son could be a major archeological discovery. It was! A new hominid species called Australopithecus sediba.

The bones of a four-foot, two-inch hominid boy were initially found by U.S. paleoanthropologist Lee R. Berger and his son Matthew.

Dr. Berger commented on his first reaction to his son’s discovery within the April 8, 2010 The New York Times article “New Hominid Species Discovered in South Africa.”

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Roman Circus success is moving closer

CAMPAIGNERS are now another step closer to saving Colchester’s Roman chariot racing circus.

Colchester Archaeological Trust has joined forces with tourism and regeneration group Destination Colchester to buy the sergeants’ mess building and its garden, beneath which the foundations of eight Roman starting gates are buried.

The Save Our Circus campaign, backed by the Gazette, raised £200,000 – the first step towards buying the building from developers Taylor Wimpey The campaigners’ mortgage application for the rest of the cash needed to buy the site has now been provisionally approved by the Charity Bank, with confirmation expected by the end of April.

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TV Preview: Saxon Gold: Finding the Hoard C4, 9pm

A REPEAT of the programme previously shown on National Geographic, Saxon Gold: Finding The Hoard recounts what happened when amateur metal detecting enthusiast Terry Herbert uncovered the largest Anglo Saxon treasure hoard ever found in Britain. Just below the surface of a field belonging to farmer Fred Johnson near Lichfield, he unearthed more than 200 pieces of jewelled gold and silver treasure, buried, lost and forgotten for a millennium. Archaeologists later excavated a further 1,400 items. The rest, as they say, is history.

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Competition finds over a thousand prehistoric sites on Google Street View

Following the recent expansion of Google Street View to most of the UK's roads, the Megalithic Portal has created a comprehensive map of prehistoric and ancient sites, all found on the Street View service.

"I realised we could use our web resource to pinpoint ancient stones, barrows and other sites on Google Street View.", explains Andy Burnham, the founder of the Megalithic Portal. "I was soon hooked 'driving' up and down on the computer looking for ancient sites, so I launched a competition to see who could find the most sites."

Andy's challenge has been taken up enthusiastically by amateur archaeologists up and down the UK. In just four weeks they have found over 1000 ancient sites visible from the roadside, including 550 sites in England, and over 300 in Wales and Scotland put together. Amanda Gough from Cardiff is one of the volunteers: "This really gives you an idea of just how many ancient sites are still around and visible. Many people probably don't realise that they are driving or walking past ancient monuments on a regular basis. It's amazing to think that out there beside our busy roads is thousands of years of history just waiting to be discovered."

The Megalithic Portal has created a map of the Street View discoveries at

(You can view the full press release with examples here...)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shroud of Turin goes on display

The Shroud of Turin has been put on display in the Turin Cathedral, the first time it has been seen by the public in ten years. The cloth, which depicts the image of Jesus Christ, has been carbon dated to the 13th or 14th century, but millions of Christians believe that it is relic from biblical times. The shroud's exhibition will last for six weeks and is expected to draw millions of visitors.

Here is a series of videos about the new exhibition of Shroud of Turin as well as about its history:

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Ireland promotes the Viking Triangle of Waterford as a tourist destination

Ireland's government has announced that funding of almost €9 million has been provisionally allocated under Fáilte Ireland's Tourism Capital Investment Programme for the development of museums and other tourist attractions in the centre of Waterford, known collectively as the Viking Triangle.

The objective of Waterford City Council is to create within the Viking Triangle an iconic heritage based tourist attraction to be titled ‘The Viking Triangle - A Thousand Years of History in a Thousand Paces’. The Viking Triangle forms one part of a larger overall project, the other being the development of the new Waterford Crystal Experience. This significant investment reflects the Government's determination to support tourism which the Government has identified as a vital export-oriented service industry.

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Staffordshire Hoard location revealed

The secret location where the multi-million pound Staffordshire Hoard was unearthed is to be revealed for the first time in a television documentary this week.

Newspapers and broadcasters have largely abided by archaeologists' requests not to publish the exact position of the field where metal detectorist Terry Herbert found the exquisite Anglo-Saxon collection in July last year, fearing the site could be targeted by thieves.

But a new Channel 4 documentary includes footage of the field where the hoard was discovered, and even pinpoints the location of the main archaeological trench within the plot of land.

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Egypt Study Days in London

Saturday study days presented by Joyce Filer (BA DipArch MSc MSc), held 11am to 5pm at Hughes-Parry Hall (The Garden Halls), University of London, 19-26 Cartwright Gardens, Bloomsbury, London, WC1H 9EF. Send bookings to Joyce Filer, Accountability, 4 Lowndes Court, London, W1F 7HE, with cheque (payable to 'Joyce Filer') and SAE. Fee includes afternoon refreshments.
- (45KB)

Joyce is an Egypologist and Physical Anthropologist having been the Curator for Human and Animal Remains in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum. She has undertaken cemetery excavations in Sudan, Egypt and Britain, CT scanning projects and forensic examinations. She is the only British archaeologist to have officially examined the body from Tomb KV55, often thought to be Tutankhamun's brother. She has made many TV appearances and written widely on ancient Egypt. She is also acknowledged as a world expert on mummies.

For further information on either event, contact Richard 'Rikk' Barritt, or mobile 07973 695 168.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Further excavation work at Hadrian's Wall site

More archaeological excavation work has started at Hadrian’s Wall’s historic Vindolanda site.

An unprecedented number of volunteers applied to join this year’s dig and more than 90 per cent of the 550 places were booked within the first two weeks.

In the past they have travelled from all over the UK and Europe to take part.

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Launch of the Online Froissart provides digital access to famous medieval chronicle

A unique website showcasing virtual manuscripts chronicling the Hundred Years´ War was launched online this month thanks to the work of academics from the universities of Sheffield and Liverpool.

The website, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will offer more than 100 transcriptions from the renowned Chronicles of Jehan Froissart, which provide a unique account of the epic battle between the English and the French.

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Warriors on the march during Roman festival weekend in Malton

ROMANS will be marching in Malton for the first time in 1,600 years this May bank holiday.

Legionaries, gladiators and auxiliary soldiers will be battling with Celtic warriors, parading Roman fashion and crafting their wares in a two-day festival.

Graham Harris, the day’s organiser for the Malton events committee, said: “The excitement is definitely mounting around town as so many are involved.

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Archeological survey to resume on massive Roman mosaic in Kemble

ARCHAEOLOGICAL work to determine the full extent of a massive Roman mosaic uncovered in a Cotswold field will resume shortly.

Metal detector enthusiasts Paul Ballinger and John Carter uncovered a section of the ancient mosaic in January last year in a field near Kemble.

It is believed to date back to the 4th Century and could be up to 40-foot in diameter which would make it the biggest Roman mosaic in north west Europe.

Archaeologists from Gloucestershire County Council say they will be performing further testing on the site, which is an agricultural field, throughout the summer with the permission of the landowner.

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Ruins in airpark site date from late Roman period

Archaeological ruins found at the site of the new Medavia hangar in Safi were found to be of the late Roman period and work to protect and preserve them started yesterday.

The ruins were unearthed during excavations on the site of the Medavia hangar last week and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage was alerted.

Malta Industrial Parks Ltd said the site had been fully cleared and surveyed, with a roofing structure capable of handling 40 tons at one pressure point having been designed to go over the ruins.

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Partial skeletons may represent new hominid

Nearly 2 million years ago, an adult and a child walking through the South African landscape somehow fell through openings in a partly eroded, underground cave and died. Today, that fatal plunge has led to their identification as representatives of a new hominid species — and a contentious debate among paleoanthropologists over the pair’s evolutionary relationship to modern humans.

In the April 9 Science, anthropologist Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and his colleagues assign newly discovered fossils from these ancient individuals to the species Australopithecus sediba. They propose that the species served as an evolutionary bridge from apelike members of Australopithecus to the Homo genus, which includes living people. In a local African tongue, sediba means fountain or wellspring, a reference to this species as a candidate ancestor of the Homo line.

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English megaliths linked to death rites

Dartmoor’s stones predate Stonehenge but share traits

Nine megaliths in a remote part of Dartmoor, England, share features in common with Stonehenge, and may shed light on the meaning behind these prehistoric stone monuments, according to a report in the latest issue of British Archaeology.

The Dartmoor megaliths, which were recently carbon-dated to around 3500 B.C., could predate Stonehenge, but both sites feature large standing stones that are aligned to mark the rising of the midsummer sun and the setting of the midwinter sun. Yet another Dartmoor stone monument, called Drizzlecombe, shares the same orientation.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

ARCHI Archaeologic Sites Database Update: Nearly new 1000 Archaeologic Sites Records added

The online version of the ARCHI database has been updated with the addition of nearly 1000 new records.

The update ranges from the Neolithic to the Medieval eras but with an emphasis on Roman sites.

This means that there are now more than 127,000 records of UK Archaeological Sites available for your research.

Amongst these records are:

More than 25,000 Roman Sites
More than 32,000 Medieval Sites
More than 4,500 Saxon Sites
More than 11,000 Iron Age Sites
More than 20,500 Bronze Age Sites
More than 10,000 'Stone' Age Sites

Visit the ARCHI website...

Eyes in the Eyes: Recollection of a Journey

Location: Mauritania Length: 8 min

The golden sun setting between the soft dunes of the Sahara introduces this personal and deeply felt account in which the author reveals to the viewer a page of her intimate diary. This moving film invites spectators to open their eyes and share what the author sees of another world, specifically the west African country of Mauritania. It is a meeting between the eyes of those who are there to look and those who return the gaze. In the process, outsiders can begin to understand the life and culture of a living yet ancient society that is seldom seen or considered.

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Graffiti yob sprays tag on Roman wall in Colchester

A GRAFFITI artist has provoked fury by using a piece of Colchester’s Roman heritage as a canvas.

A stretch of Roman wall, on Balkerne Hill, has been tagged by a vandal using white spraypaint.

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Staffordshire and Tamworth and announce £100,000 Hoard contribution

Staffordshire County Council and Tamworth Borough Council officially announced a £100,000 contribution to the Staffordshire Hoard Fund today.

Having successfully raised the £3.3m needed to acquire the Hoard, a further £1.7m is needed to ensure that vital conservation and research work can take place on the 1600 items that make up the treasure. It will also ensure it is appropriately displayed and interpreted for all to enjoy.

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Theoretical Archaeology Seminar at Athens

The next Theoretical Archaeology Seminar at Athens is entitled "Mortuary Practices and Society".

The Seminar is taking place at 6.30pm, 15th of April 2010 at the Irish
Institute of Hellenic Studies at Athens (51a Notara Street, Exarcheia).

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'Synagogue' find under Northampton kebab shop

Archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be the remains of a medieval synagogue underneath a kebab shop in Northamptonshire.

"Substantial" masonry walls, thought to be many hundreds of years old, were detected using ground-penetrating radar in Sheep Street, Northampton.

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Bishop's Palace up for top prize

Restoration work on the ancient Bishop's Palace at St Davids, Pembrokeshire, has brought a nomination for a top Europe-wide conservation prize.

A 15-year project at the Palace has been short-listed for one of six Grand Prix awards by Europa Nostra, the Pan-European Federation of Cultural Heritage.

It is up against 29 other similar conservation works from across Europe for the awards. The winners will be announced in Istanbul in June as outstanding examples of heritage protection.

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Fossil skeletons may belong to an unknown human ancestor

The fossil remains found in a cave in South Africa could represent an evolutionary link between tree-dwelling apes and our earliest human ancestors to walk upright

Fossilised skeletons recovered from a deep underground cave in South Africa belong to a previously unknown species of human ancestor, scientists claim.

The partial skeletons of an adult female and a young male, aged 11 or 12, were found lying side by side in sediments that first covered their remains an estimated 1.9m years ago.

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Further work at Roman Wall site

MORE archeological excavation work has started at Hadrian’s Wall’s historic Vindolanda site.

An unprecedented number of volunteers applied to join this year’s dig and more than 90 per cent of the 550 places were booked within the first two weeks.

In the past they have travelled from all over the UK and Europe to take part.

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IU's Carlson among international team of six scientists announcing new species of prehistoric human

Indiana University anthropologist Kristian J. Carlson today (April 8) joined an international team of six other scientists announcing discovery of the fossil remains of a new species of early human that could help rewrite the path of human evolution.

The two partial skeletons, dating from between 1.78 and 1.95 million years old, were discovered in South Africa and appear to represent features and attributes closer to humans -- the genus Homo -- than those from any other of our closest ancestors, the australopithecines. The new species, Australopithecus sediba, was announced today in the magazine Science by principal investigator Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and a team of six other researchers that included IU Bloomington's Carlson.

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New hominid shares traits with Homo species

Two partial skeletons unearthed from a cave in South Africa belong to a previously unclassified species of hominid that is now shedding new light on the evolution of our own species, Homo sapiens, researchers say. The newly documented species, called Australopithecus sediba, was an upright walker that shared many physical traits with the earliest known Homo species—and its introduction into the fossil record might answer some key questions about what it means to be human.

The fossils are between 1.95 and 1.78 million years old, and in this week's issue of Science, the peer-reviewed journal published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society, two reports describe both the physical characteristics of this new Australopithecus species as well as the ancient environment in which it lived and died. The emerging picture is one of a hominid with a bone structure similar to the earliest Homo species, but who employed it more as an Australopithecus, like the famed "Lucy," would have.

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Neue Hominidenart in Südafrika entdeckt

Ein internationales Team mit Forschern aus der Schweiz, Südafrika, Australien und den USA schreibt an der Entwicklungsgeschichte der Menschheit. Die Forschenden haben in Südafrika eine neue Hominidenart entdeckt.

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Ötzi-Sonderausstellung im Jahr 2011 geplant

Am 19.09.2011 wird der Mann aus dem Eis 20 Jahre alt – zumindest in seinem zweiten Leben als natürliche Eismumie und Weltsensation. Das Südtiroler Archäologiemuseum in Bozen widmet seinem "Star" deshalb im kommenden Jahr 2011 eine umfassende Sonderausstellung.

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Archaeology: Hidden treasure

The explosion in commercial archaeology has brought a flood of information. The problem now is figuring out how to find and use this unpublished literature, reports Matt Ford.

Archaeologists are used to gathering data by scratching in the dirt. But when Richard Bradley set out to write a new prehistory of Britain in 2004, he unearthed his most important finds while wearing sandals and a sweater rather than work boots and a hard hat.

Bradley is one of a growing number of academics in the United Kingdom who are doing their digging in the masses of unpublished 'grey literature' generated when commercial archaeologists are brought in to excavate before any sort of construction.

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South African fossils could be new hominid species

The remarkable remains of two ancient human-like creatures (hominids) have been found in South Africa.

The fossils of a female adult and a juvenile male - perhaps mother and son - are just under two million years old.

They were uncovered in cave deposits at Malapa not far from Johannesburg.

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Scientists come face to face with 2 million-year-old 'missing link'

HE WAS less than 13 years old when he met a sudden death, apparently plummeting tens of metres into a deep cave in southern Africa.

There he lay for almost two million years, until a nine-year-old boy searching for fossils with his archaeologist father spotted a piece of human-like collar bone.

The unearthing of the ancient child's skull and skeletal remains, and those nearby of an older female - perhaps his mother - is being hailed as one of the most significant discoveries in human archaeology and one that could rewrite our evolutionary past.

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Fossil finds give clues to ancestors

THE two-million-year-old skeletal remains of a juvenile male and an adult female, discovered in a South African cave, may be those of the direct ancestors of the first humans to walk the earth.

The claim -- from an international team led by James Cook University geologist Paul Dirks and Lee Berger, a paleoanthropologist at Johannesburg's Witwatersrand University -- is a big one.

The newfound species has been named Australopithecus sediba, a blend of the established Latin term for "southern ape" and the word for "wellspring" in the SeSotho language.

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Greece and Bulgaria: Archaeologists Excavate Previously Inaccessible Site in Border Region

An ancient sanctuary of the Roman god Mithras, located in the Rodopi Mountains border region between Greece and Bulgaria, was shown for the first time since its discovery in 1915.

The archaeological site is located 6 kilometres into Greece from the Greek-Bulgarian border, near the Greek town of Thermes. Discovered in 1915 by Bulgarian archaeologist Bogdan Filov, no archaeological research of the site was carried out since and knowledge of it was based only on his writings. Archaeologists suspect that at the foot of the rock complex, there is a large temple dating to Late Antiquity, but excavations will have to confirm this.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Druids reburial appeal rebuffed

Druids have lost a bid to have an ancient skeleton which was unearthed in Wiltshire reburied at one of the county's most famous stone age sites.

The Council of British Druid Orders told an official consultation that the body of a neolithic child, found in 1929, should be reinterred at Avebury.

The druids contend that the remains which are on display in the village need to be treated with more respect.

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Archaeologists dig up Shakespeare's 'cesspit'

Archaeologists believe they are on the cusp of shedding new light on the life of William Shakespeare – by digging up what may have been the playwright’s cesspit.

Experts have begun excavating the ruins of New Place, Shakespeare’s former home in Stratford-upon-Avon, which was demolished 250 years ago.

Although little remains of the property, the team, led by Birmingham Archaeology, believes it has identified a rubbish tip or cesspit used by the 16th century poet.

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Stele names Roman Emperor Octavian Augustus as Egyptian Pharaoh

Scholars translating a Roman victory stele, erected in the Temple of Isis at Philae in Egypt in 29 BC, have discovered the Roman Emperor Octavian Augustus’ name inscribed in a cartouche – an honour normally reserved for an Egyptian pharaoh

Octavian’s forces defeated Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, and captured Alexandria soon afterwards. Historians believe that although Octavian ruled Egypt after the death of Cleopatra in 30 BC, he was never actually crowned as an Egyptian pharaoh.

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Scientists to Unearth Ice Age Secrets from Preserved Tree Rings

Oxford University is involved in a research project to unearth 30,000 year old climate records, before they are lost forever. The rings of preserved kauri trees, hidden in New Zealand's peat bogs, hold the secret to climate fluctuations spanning back to the end of the last Ice Age.

The team, led by Exeter University, has been awarded a grant from the Natural Environment Research Council to carry out carbon dating and other analyses of the kauri tree rings. The trees store an immense amount of information about rapid and extreme climate change in the past. For instance, wide ring widths are associated with cool dry summer conditions. The scientists believe their findings will help us understand what future climate change may bring.

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UK Archaeologists dig through Shakespeare's 'cesspit'

The UK publication the Telegraph reported on April 6 that, in order to unveil something new about William Shakespeare's life, British archaeologists have started digging up what may have been the playwright's cesspit.

The report says experts have begun excavating the ruins of New Place, Shakespeare's former home in Stratford-upon-Avon, which was demolished 250 years ago. Although little remains of the property, the team, led by Birmingham Archaeology, believes it has identified a rubbish tip, or cesspit, used by the 16th century poet.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Slightly Used

In each episode of the fascinating BBC Radio 4 series “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, uses one item from that institution’s collection as a jumping-off point to discuss humanity’s long relationship with made things. The journey starts, as you would expect, with something useful: a “stone chopping tool,” believed to be about 1.8 million years old, suggests the dawning of a “relationship between humans and the things they create, which is both a love affair and a dependency,” MacGregor says. “From this point on, we can’t survive without the things we make.”

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Missing link between man and apes found

A "missing link" between humans and their apelike ancestors has been discovered.

The new species of hominid, the evolutionary branch of primates that includes humans, is to be revealed when the two-million-year-old skeleton of a child is unveiled this week.

Scientists believe the almost-complete fossilised skeleton belonged to a previously-unknown type of early human ancestor that may have been a intermediate stage as ape-men evolved into the first species of advanced humans, Homo habilis.

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