Thursday, November 29, 2012

A look round David's Tower - Edinburgh's first medieval 'high rise'

A medieval tower which housed kings and hid treasure was the first "high rise" in Edinburgh. 

David's Tower was itself hidden beneath Edinburgh Castle until its rediscovery 100 years ago. 

BBC Scotland's arts correspondent Pauline McLean has had a look around.

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Palaeolithic Macedonia: Landscape in the Mist

What do we know about paleolithic Macedonia? Some scarce finds, mostly stone tools, and usually “orphan”, and some general dating references maintain until today a fragmentary, rather distorted picture about this distant era, a picture which is being even more obscured by soil erosion and climate changes that occurred over the last 100,000 years.

Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Nikos Efstratiou, spoke about the need for new, dynamic approaches to this research field, in his announcement at the conference entitled “Hundred Years of Research in Prehistoric Macedonia”.

Mr. Efstratiou pointed out that prehistoric research in Macedonia is still in its infancy and said that one of the most significant problems is the fragmentary character of all periods of the Pleistocene. He also referred to institutional problems, lacking of educational and research programs about this period, as well as the general conditions that do not encourage the realization of systematic paleolithic surveys. The surveys conducted allow a reduced archaeological “visibility” of paleolithic groups, because of the features of the geomorphological landscape of the region and the paleoenvironmental changes, that interfere in a dramatic way in every attempt to reconstruct settlement systems.

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Digs reveal evolution of Paphos theatre

Fragments of marble sculptures from a monument consecrated to the nymphs of ancient Greek and Roman mythology have been uncovered during on-going excavations at Paphos' ancient theatre, the archaeological team in charge of the dig have announced.

The 15th season of excavations into one of Cyprus’ largest ancient theatres unearthed a number of significant finds, including fragments of carved marble adornments from the stage and from a monument to the nymphs or nymphaeum.

Paphos was the capital of Cyprus in Greek and Roman times and its ancient archaeological remains are on the World Heritage List.

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Bronze Age Brain Surgeons

The 4,400-year-old skull of an early neurosurgery patient.

5,000 years ago, people living in Turkey were surprisingly good at what seems like a purely modern practice.

You might shudder at the mere thought of ancient brain surgery, but recent studies of the practice at Bronze Age sites in Turkey suggest that early neurosurgeons were surprisingly precise and that a majority of their patients may have survived.

At Ikiztepe, a small settlement near the Black Sea occupied from 3200 to 1700 B.C., archaeologist Önder Bilgi of Istanbul University has uncovered five skulls with clean, rectangular incisions that are evidence for trepanation, or basic cranial surgery. The procedure may have been performed to treat hemorrhages, brain cancer, head trauma, or mental illness. Last August Bilgi also unearthed a pair of razor-sharp volcanic glass blades that he believes were used to make the careful cuts.

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Secrets of an Iron Age smith

Ironworking may have been carefully controlled knowledge in the Iron Age, leaving the uninitiated wondering whether it involved divine power, higher knowledge, or perhaps even magic.  If so, the Iron Age smiths kept their secrets well, for the scarcity of direct archaeological evidence leaves many questions about how they practiced their craft.  New finds at Beechwood Farm, Inverness may help to reveal these ancient techniques, and provide new perspectives on metalworking in northern Scotland.   As well as ironworking debris in the form of slag the site has yielded an unusual find: the remains of a clay-lined furnace, a feature that only rarely survives in the archaeological record.

The excavation, conducted by AOC Archaeology Group, has unearthed evidence showing that activity on the site stretches back to before the age of metal, into the Neolithic. Early prehistoric artefacts have also been recovered, including a selection of pottery sherds and quern stones used for grinding grain into flour.

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Bulgaria Unearths Ancient 'Millionaire's' Treasure

Bulgarian archaeologists have unearthed 40 silver coins during excavations in the second largest city of Plovdiv.

The coins, dating from the 3rd century A.C., have images of a number of Roman Emperors or different Gods.

They are extremely well-preserved, meaning they have not been in circulation, experts say.

The coins were located in an ancient hiding place and were a real treasure for this period with their owner being a very wealthy man, they further explain, adding the hiding place in the floor showed the said owner had intentions to get them back at some point, but was prevented, most likely because he was killed.

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Antiquity: Submerged Prehistoric Archaeology and Landscapes of the Continental Shelf

For most of human history on this planet—about 90 per cent of the time—sea levels have been substantially lower than at present, exposing large tracts of territory for human settlement. Europe alone would have had a land area increased by 40 per cent at the maximum sea level regression (Figure 1). Although this has been recognised for many decades, archaeologists have resisted embracing its full implications, barely accepting that most evidence of Palaeolithic marine exploitation must by definition be invisible, believing that nothing has survived or can be found on the seabed, and preferring instead to emphasise the opportunities afforded by lower sea level for improved terrestrial dispersal across land bridges and narrowed sea channels.

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Bronze Age "microbrewery" found by Manchester scientists

Archaeologists led by an expert from the University of Manchester are raising a glass to the discovery of a Bronze Age "microbrewery" in western Cyprus.

The team excavated a 2 metres x 2 metres mud-plaster domed structure which it says was used as a kiln to dry malt and make beer 3,500 years ago.

Beers of different flavours would have been brewed from malted barley and fermented with yeasts with an alcoholic content of around 5%. The yeast would have either been wild or produced from fruit such as grape or fig, according to the researchers.

Dr Lindy Crewe has led the excavation at the Early-Middle Bronze Age settlement of Kissonerga-Skalia, near Paphos, since 2007.

She said: "Archaeologists believe beer drinking was an important part of society from the Neolithic onwards and may have even been the main reason that people began to cultivate grain in the first place.

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'Spectacular finds' may see road delayed to August and extra £2m cost

The archaeological dig on the route of the new Cherrymount Link Road in Enniskillen could delay the opening until next August at an additional cost of over £2 million, it has been claimed. 

Just a week ago the Department of Regional Development announced that the by-pass linking the Cherrymount Roundabout with a new roundabout on the Tempo Road was due to open next March.

However, last Friday a number of public representatives visited the excavation of the Drumclay Crannog, the site of an ancient dwelling on the section of the by-pass between Cherrymount and the Coa Road.

Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott was among those who met the team of over 30 archaeologists involved in the dig.

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Medieval artefacts found at crannog

Pieces of a medieval board game and 1,000-year-old combs are among rare artefacts uncovered during an archaeological dig that is set to rewrite the history books.

Experts have hailed the finds in Co Fermanagh as internationally significant, claiming they shed new light on life in medieval Ireland and its connection with the wider world.

Iron, bronze and bone ornaments have been discovered at the crannog just outside Enniskillen, along with the chess-like pieces believed to have been part of the game. Parts of log boats, leather shoes, knives, decorated dress pins, wooden vessels and a bowl with a cross carved on its base were also unearthed during the six-month dig.

The style and design of the antler and bone combs suggest influences from northern Europe and indicate that the Fermanagh settlement had international links 1,000 years ago.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Winchester Palace Roman Wall Painting Website

Sadly, the erstwhile conservator for the Department of Greater London Archaeology, Sean A. MacKenna (Tony MacKenna), Tony died in October 2012.

The most important project of his career was the excavation and restoration of the Winchester Palace Roman wall painting.  Tony had published a detailed account of the work on his own website, but that website will not remain.

The material has, therefore, been transferred to the Archaeology in Europe website.  You can find it at:

The work is sure to be of considerable interest to Romanists and Conservators alike.

Go to the website...

Weitere Spuren römischer Besiedlung in Liechtenstein

Im Oktober entdeckte das Team der Landesarchäologie im Winkel in Balzers weitere Spuren der römischen Siedlung. Dabei handelt es sich um die letzten Reste eines Gebäudes, das vermutlich von den unberechenbaren Fluten des Rheins zerstört worden ist.

Bei Aushubarbeiten kamen in einer Kiesschicht ca. 1,5 Meter unter der Oberfläche römische Funde ans Tageslicht. Das eingestürzte Mauerwerk mit Resten eines rötlichen Verputzes und die Dachziegelfragmente dürften von einem Gebäude stammen. Sie werden genau gleich wie die Keramikscherben in das 2./3. Jahrhundert n. Chr. datiert.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Fragments of an early Anglo-Saxon silver brooch found in Norfolk has given archaeologists new evidence of a cremation burial in the area.

Experts say the 6th Century brooch, found near West Acre, could possibly have originated in mainland Europe.

The brooch, along with a Medieval copper coin-like medal known as a jetton and a Middle Anglo-Saxon sword belt mount, has been declared treasure.

An expert from the British Museum said the 13th Century jetton was "unusual".

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'Trust' provides answer to handaxe enigma

Trust rather than lust is at the heart of the attention to detail and finely made form of handaxes from around 1.7 million years ago, according to a University of York researcher.

Dr Penny Spikins, from the Department of Archaeology, suggests a desire to prove their trustworthiness, rather than a need to demonstrate their physical fitness as a mate, was the driving force behind the fine crafting of handaxes by Homo erectus/ergaster in the Lower Palaeolithic period.

Dr Spikins said: “We sometimes imagine that early humans were self-centred, and if emotional at all, that they would have been driven by their immediate desires. However, research suggests that we have reason to have more faith in human nature, and that trust played a key role in early human societies. Displaying trust not lust was behind the attention to detail and finely made form of handaxes.”

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Police recover artefacts stolen from Olympia

An array of ancient artifacts are displayed by police after they were recovered. Greek police say they have arrested three people in connection with an armed robbery that targeted the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, the birthplace of the ancient Olympics. The three men were arrested Friday in the western Greek city of Patras, close to Ancient Olympia, after they tried to sell the most ancient of the antiquities to an undercover policeman [Credit: AP]

Police say they have arrested three people in connection with an armed robbery that targeted the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, the birthplace of the ancient Olympics.

The three men were arrested Friday in the western Greek city of Patras, close to Ancient Olympia.

They were arrested after they tried to sell the most ancient of the antiquities, a golden seal-ring dating from the late Bronze Age, about 3,200 years ago, for an initial asking price of (EURO)1 million ($1.3 million).

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cardinal Wolsey's Hall at Christ Church, Oxford

This short video, made by Paul Matwiy for the Oxford Experience, shows details of Cardinal Wolsey's Great Hall at Chrrst Church.

Wolsey built the Hall and Kitchen as part of Cardinal's College.  When he fell from grace in 1529 the college became the property of King Henry VIII.  Henry re-founded the College in 1546 and appointed the old monastery church as cathedral of the new diocese of Oxford.  The Hall is the largest in Oxford and gained fame as the model for Hogwart's Hall in the Harry Potter films,

Watch the video...

Ottawa researcher’s firing derails Viking project

This should be the best of times for Pat Sutherland. November’s issue of National Geographic magazine and a documentary airing Thursday night on CBC’s The Nature of Things both highlight research the Ottawa archeologist has been doing in the Canadian Arctic for the past dozen years that could fundamentally alter our understanding of our early history.

If Sutherland is right, Norse seafarers — popularly known as Vikings — built an outpost on Baffin Island, now called Nanook, centuries before Columbus blundered on to North America. Moreover, there’s evidence they traded with the Dorset, the Arctic’s ancient, now-vanished inhabitants, for as many as 400 years.

”That’s incredible,” says Andrew Gregg, who wrote, directed and produced The Norse: An Arctic Mystery, the CBC documentary that recounts Sutherland’s findings. “That rewrites all the history books.”

But Sutherland’s pleasure at the recognition her discoveries are receiving has been sharply tempered by a harsh reality. Last April, even as the documentary about her work was being filmed, the 63-year-old, then curator of Arctic archeology at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, was abruptly dismissed from her job.

At the same time, museum officials also stripped her husband, Robert McGhee — himself a legendary Arctic archeologist described as “one of the most eminent scholars that Canada has produced” — of the emeritus status it had granted him after his retirement from the Gatineau museum in 2008.

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Skulls, longbows, arrows … and nitcombs! Science sheds light on life aboard Tudor warship

Tudor skulls, bones, longbows, arrows and nitcombs were among the array of artefacts examined by Bishopston Comprehensive School pupils as Swansea University academics showed how 21st century technology is shedding new light about life aboard the 16th century warship The Mary Rose.


Nick Owen and Dr Sarah Forbes-Robinson from the Colleges of Engineering and Science visited the Year 8 pupils at the school to reveal how science and technology has helped them to discover more about the lives of the people on board Henry VIII’s warship which was sunk in 1545.

Mr Owen, a Sport and Exercise Biochemist who has been working with The Mary Rose Trust, showed pupils his work on samples of skeletons that were raised with the ship from the Solent in 1982.

Mr Owen’s research has focussed on the bones believed to be those of an elite company of professional archers who were known to have been on board the ship when it went down. Many of the skeletons show evidence of repetitive stress injuries of the shoulder and lower spine which are thought to be as a result of the shooting heavy longbows regularly.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Scan reveals 5500-year old mummy was stabbed in back

An ancient mummy who has been on display in the British Museum for over 100 years was a young man murdered by a killer who stabbed him in the back, new research shows.

Scans of the ancient Egyptian, known officially as Gebelein man but nicknamed Ginger for his red hair, show that a puncture just beneath his left shoulderblade was made by his murderer.

Forensic experts studied the scan on a 'virtual autopsy table' concluded that there is almost no doubt he was the victim of a deliberate, violent killing in peacetime.

Daniel Antoine, the museum's expert on human remains, told The Times: 'His left shoulderblade is slightly damaged.

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You may also be interested in this Oxford summer school course:

Treasures of the British Museum...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Roman jug found behind Estepona high street

A ROMAN jug has been unearthed behind Estepona high street.

A team of archaeologists discovered the ancient artifact yesterday morning close to the town’s shopping area.

Sailing instructor Tomas Reyes spotted the organised dig outside his house and took the snap above.

“It was very interesting, it must be at least 2,000 years old.

“I asked if I could take a picture as they found it,” said Reyes.

Romans used the containers to transport liquids such as water, wine, oil and honey.

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Charcoal clues to Assynt's Bronze Age woodland

Analysis of charcoal at the site of a suspected Bronze Age "sauna" suggests the surrounding area hosted a rich and diverse woodland.

Archaeologists have been examining what is called a burnt mound at Stronechrubie, in Assynt. Wood from birch, alder, hazel and hawthorn, or apple, trees has been identified.

Archaeologists said the species were far more diverse than those found in Assynt today.

Excavations of the burnt mound - a crescent shaped mound of stones - revealed a metre-deep pit linked to a nearby stream by a channel.

The find was made by the Fire and Water Project, which is run by archaeology and history group Historic Assynt and AOC Archaeology.

The project's archaeologists believe it may have been created for bathing, or as a sauna.

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Excavating a Roman Floor

Not only have our archaeologists have been hard at work carefully excavating the heart of Roman Londinium, they’ve been given a chance to play with some new kit. And now we have a chance to take you out on site with us through the power of time-lapse video! In a series of videos we recorded the whole process of uncovering, recording and lifting a Roman tessellated floor!  The first video follows our archaeologists (and our friendly McGee site labourers) uncovering the tessellated floor by removing the trampled material that lay on top. 

So here is the first in our series of videos featuring our lovely archaeologists, a massive Roman tessellated floor, and some homegrown rock and roll for good measure:

Watch the video...


Site: Emporion Pistiros, between the small towns of Septemvri and Vetren,  Southern Bulgaria.
Project Venue: the spa village of Varvara, Southern Bulgaria is situated 14 km away from the site, in the foothills of majestic Rhodopi Mountains. There are several spa & wellness hotels and swimming pools with mineral water in the village that is also a stop on the picturesque narrow gauge railway (the last functioning one in Bulgaria) from Septemvri to Dobrinishte. 
Period(s) of occupation: Classical, Hellenistic (5th – 2nd century BC)

Further information...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ancient Quernhow monument commemorated

Highways Agency project manager David Brindle with former Quernhow Cafe owner Brian Lye with the new stone and plaque commemorating the Bronze Age burial mound. 
A BRONZE Age monument has been commemorated after a long-running campaign. 

The 4,000-year-old Quernhow burial mound, which was obliterated by the upgrading of the A1(M), has been marked with a plaque and stone by the Quernhow Café, near Ainderby Quernhow, by the Highways Agency. 

Archaeologists say the site was “of primary importance in prehistoric times” as it stood on the plain between the three great henges of Thornborough to the north and those on Hutton Moor to the south, accompanied by a number of other tumuli nearby.

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Ancient tunnels in Rome reopen to the public

The network of underground passageways beneath the Baths of Caracalla is also home to the largest temple of Mithra in the Roman Empire
Few people have ever visited the long network of underground tunnels under the public baths of Caracalla, which date back to the third century AD and are considered by many archaeologists to be the grandest public baths in Rome. This underground network, which is due to be reopened in December, is also home to a separate structure, the largest Mithraeum in the Roman Empire, according to its director Marina Piranomonte. The Mithraeum has just reopened after a year of restoration work which cost the city’s archaeological authorities around €360,000. 

To celebrate the reopening, Michelangelo Pistoletto has installed his conceptual work Il Terzo Paradiso (the third heaven), which he first presented at the 2005 Venice Biennale, in the gardens surrounding the public baths. The work, made of ancient stone fragments and pieces of columns arranged in a triple loop, represents the harmonious union of the natural and technological worlds, according to the artist. It will be on view until 6 January 2013.
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Archaeologist to discuss Pictish discoveries in Aberdeenshire

A University of Aberdeen archaeologist is to share news of the fascinating Pictish finds from an excavation at Rhynie with the local community.

Dr Gordon Noble, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, will give a public talk at Rhynie School on Thursday (November 22) at 7.30pm where he will explain just how significant the region was during the time of the Picts.
Dr Noble has been part of a team working in the area around the famous Craw Stane for around two years. Their findings have revealed that Rhynie was a key seat of Pictish power and may even have been a royal settlement in the 5th and 6th centuries AD.
He said: “Rhynie has always been noted as somewhere special because of the many Pictish standing stones that come from the village. One in particular, the Craw Stane, is particularly significant as it still stands in its original position.

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Pyramids 3D at Tap! The iPhone and iPad magazine

Pyramids 3D app lets you fly across the Giza plateau with 360° views of The Great Pyramid, The Sphinx and the rest of the ancient complex. It gives aspiring explorers and armchair travellers an equally fulfilling way to sample one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. But it’s once you enter the tombs that the app really comes into its own.

Every inch of the network of passages has been rendered from real photographs; even the tunnels closed to real visitors are included. There’s a small HUD and flashlight indicator to show your direction of travel. Scroll around with one finger and tap to move forward down the passages. You begin to feel like a real explorer, but the somewhat creepy soundtrack is a little off putting. These are peaceful places where the pharaohs ascended to the gods, after all, not scenes from The Mummy!
Read review on

Watch the video...

Mexican silver made it into English coins

Chemical studies of old English coins are helping unravel a centuries-old mystery: What happened to all the silver that Spaniards dug out of the New World?

Silver from Mexican mines started being incorporated into English coins around the mid-1550s, a new study shows. But silver from the legendary Potosí mines, in what is now Bolivia, didn’t show up until nearly a century later, researchers report online November 6 in Geology.

The new study adds hard data to theories linking the transatlantic influx of silver to price inflation across Europe from about 1515 to 1650.

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Hunters used stone-tipped spears 200,000 years earlier than previously thought

A University of Toronto-led team of anthropologists has found evidence that human ancestors used stone-tipped weapons for hunting animals 500,000 years ago — 200,000 years earlier than previously thought.

"This changes the way we think about early human adaptations and capacities before the origin of our own species," says Jayne Wilkins, a PhD candidate in the department of anthropology at the University of Toronto and lead author of a new study in Science magazine. 

"Although both Neanderthals and humans used stone-tipped spears, this is the first evidence that the technology originated prior to or near the divergence of these two species."

Attaching stone points to spears — known as "hafting" — was an important advance in hunting weaponry for early humans, says Wilkins. Hafted tools require more effort and foreplanning to manufacture, but a sharp stone point on the end of a spear can increase its killing power.

Hafted spear tips are common in Stone Age archaeological sites beginning about 300,000 years ago. This new study shows that they were also used in the early Middle Pleistocene, a period associated with the Homo heidelbergensis species, who were the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mary Rose: scientists identify shipwreck's elite archers by RSI

A company of elite longbow archers perished aboard Henry VIII's flagship the Mary Rose when it sank almost five centuries ago, scientists have discovered.

Researchers have identified the elite archers who died alongside sailors on Henry VIII's flagship, due to evidence of repetitive strain in their shoulders and spines.
The ship sank off Spithead in The Solent in 1545, while leading an attack on a French invasion fleet. It stayed on the seabed until it was raised in 1982 and put on public display.
Over the past two years, scientists from the University of Swansea have been working to identify almost 100 skeletons kept at the Mary Rose Museum, in Portsmouth.
DNA identification has been difficult because they have been contaminated by cockles, molluscs and algae.
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The Mary Rose archers were among the elite soldiers of the 16th century, research reveals

The archers who fought on Henry VIII’s warship the Mary Rose, which sank in 1545, would have been elite soldiers for their time, standing over 6 feet tall and able to pull weights over 200 lbs. These findings come from a new research project being carried out by sports scientists at Swansea University and the Mary Rose Trust to discover more about the lives of the 16th century archers on board the ship.
When the ship was raised from the Solent in 1982, many thousands of medieval artefacts along with 92 fairly complete skeletons of the crew of the Mary Rose were recovered.
Nick Owen, Sport and Exercise Biomechanist from the College of Engineering at Swansea University said, “This sample of human remains offers a unique opportunity to study activity related changes in human skeletons. It is documented that there was a company of archers aboard when the ship sank, at a time when many archers came from Wales and the South West of England.
“These archers had specialist techniques for making and using very powerful longbows. Some bows required a lifetime of training and immense strength as the archers had to pull weights up to 200lbs (about 90kg).”
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Is it King Richard III? We we will know in January

The DNA and scientific testing to confirm whether or not the remains of an individual discovered in Leicester is that of England’s King Richard III will be known early in the new year, according to officials from the University of Leicester.
DNA testing, environmental sampling and radiocarbon dating are some of the tests being undertaken to determine whether the skeleton found in Leicester was once Richard III – and there are also plans to do a facial reconstruction.
Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, of the University of Leicester’s Archaeological Services, explains “We are looking at many different lines of enquiry, the evidence from which all add up to give us more assurance about the identity of the individual. As well as the DNA testing, we have to take in all of the other pieces of evidence which tell us about the person’s lifestyle – including his health and where he grew up.
“There are many specialists involved in the process, and so we have to coordinate all of the tests so the analysis is done in a specific order. The ancient DNA testing in particular takes time and we need to work in partnership with specialist facilities. It is not like in CSI, where DNA testing can be done almost immediately, anywhere – we are reliant on the specialist process and facilities to successfully extract ancient DNA.”
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You may also be interested in this Oxford summer school course about Richard:

The Life and Times of Richard III... 

Two-tonne Witch computer gets a reboot

The world's oldest original working digital computer is going on display at The National Museum of Computing in Buckinghamshire.
The Witch, as the machine is known, has been restored to clattering and flashing life in a three-year effort.
In its heyday in the 1950s the machine was the workhorse of the UK's atomic energy research effort.
A happy accident led to its discovery in a municipal storeroom where it had languished for 20 years.
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How Vikings killed time

The Vikings played ball, lifted stones and wrestled. Often the games turned violent and bloody, occasionally resulting in death.

When Viking men played their games, the women watched - except in drinking games. This is a scene from at saga play in Steigen, Norway. (Photo: Mari Pedersen)

Life in the Viking Age was tough and hard, and physical work filled much of their days, but their lives were not without leisure.

In a new study, Leszek Gardela uses archaeological findings and careful reading of Viking sagas to describe how Vikings killed time when they were in mood for entertainment.

The archaeologist paints a vivid picture of Viking life, but the familiarity of many of the activities suggests that while Vikings had shorter lives and arguably vented their frustrations in more violent ways than what most people do today, leisure time in the Viking Age was not too different from leisure time in 2012.

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Sorry, vegans: Eating meat and cooking food made us human

A feast fit for ... our prehuman ancestors? While vegetarian, vegan and raw diets can be healthy today — likely far healthier than the typical American diet, to continue to call these diets "natural" for humans, in terms of evolution, is a bit of a stretch.

Vegetarian, vegan and raw diets can be healthy — likely far healthier than the typical American diet. But to continue to call these diets "natural" for humans, in terms of evolution, is a bit of a stretch, according to two recent, independent studies. 

Eating meat and cooking food made us human, the studies suggest, enabling the brains of our prehuman ancestors to grow dramatically over a period of a few million years. 

Although this isn't the first such assertion from archaeologists and evolutionary biologists, the new studies demonstrate, respectively, that it would have been biologically implausible for humans to evolve such a large brain on a raw, vegan diet and that meat-eating was a crucial element of human evolution at least 1 million years before the dawn of humankind.

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Stone Age houses are discovered on our doorstep!

STONE Age records of the first native people in Britain has been found after archaeologists discovered three houses from nearly 8,000 years ago that could ‘rewrite the history books'.

Environment Agency officials were undertaking a project in Lunt Meadows to help clean water supplies but commissioned archaeology experts from the Museum of Liverpool to oversee any excavations.

Over the summer, several finds were made including the foundations of three houses preserved one meter underground, several tools, remains of camp fires and even nearby snacks such as hazelnut shells.

There are only three other sites of similar importance in the country and this is the only one based in the North West.

The finding is a first for archeologists, who have always assumed that Mesolithic man was nomadic, but this site presents the possibility that several families could have lived in just one place.

Radiocarbon dating that took place towards the end of last month proved the findings, based near Sefton Village church, dated back to around 5,800BC.

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Archaeologists unearth Stone Age dwelling on the banks the of new Forth crossing

new forth crossing artists impression of the dwelling that archaeological excavation 
from the mesolithic period

THE remains of an ancient dwelling believed to be Scotland’s oldest house have been discovered on the banks of the River Forth.

Experts say the Stone Age timber structure – which may have resembled the wigwams constructed by North American Indians – was built more than 10,000 years ago, possibly as a winter retreat, in the ­period after the last ice age. 

It was discovered in a field outside the village of Echline, near South Queensferry, during routine archaeological excavations in advance of work on the new Forth Replacement Crossing over the Forth estuary and contained flint arrowheads used by the original ­occupants.

Dated from the mesolithic era, the remains consist of a large oval pit, seven metres long and half a metre deep, with a series of holes which would have held upright wooden posts. They would have supported walls possibly made from animals skins, ­although some experts believe there may have been a flatter turf roof.

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Greenland's viking settlers gorged on seals

Archaeologists dig up skeletons of Norse settlers  in 2010 at the Norse farm Ø64, 
Igaliku Fjord,  Østerbygden, Greenland. Photo: Jette Arneborg


Greenland's viking settlers, the Norse, disappeared suddenly and mysteriously from Greenland about 500 years ago. Natural disasters, climate change and the inability to adapt have all been proposed as theories to explain their disappearance. But now a Danish-Canadian research team has demonstrated the Norse society did not die out due to an inability to adapt to the Greenlandic diet: an isotopic analysis of their bones shows they ate plenty of seals.

“Our analysis shows that the Norse in Greenland ate lots of food from the sea, especially seals,” says Jan Heinemeier, Institute of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University.

“Even though the Norse are traditionally thought of as farmers, they adapted quickly to the Arctic environment and the unique hunting opportunities. During the period they were in Greenland, the Norse ate gradually more seals. By the 14th century, seals made up between 50 and 80 per cent of their diet.”

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Bulgarians Want Unique Thracian Treasure Back in Hometown

An object from the unique gold Thracian treasure recently discovered in Bulgaria. 
Photo by BGNES 

Residents of Bulgaria’s town of Isperih plan to launch a petition to have the unique gold Thracian treasure, recently discovered in the nearby famous Sveshtari tomb, to be returned to them.

The news was reported by Standard daily, citing the secretary of the Town Hall.

The precious find is now on display at the Archeology Museum in the capital Sofia, but locals demand from the Culture Ministry to have it back in Isperih.

Isperih Mayor, Beysim Basri, has talked to the Director of the local museum, Boryana Mateva. Together with the museum and the police, the municipality is committed to preserve both the treasure and the archaeological reserve Sboryanovo with the Sveshtari tomb since treasure hunters have shown huge interest after the latest find.

The tomb is on the world cultural-historical heritage list of UNESCO.

Mateva notes that according to the Cultural and Historical Heritage Act, archaeological discoveries must be transferred to the museum which initiated the unearthing or to the storage closer to the site.

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Ancient cistern found in SW Turkey

A cistern has been found during the archaeological excavation of King Hecatomnus' grave in Milas district of Muğla province in southwestern Turkey.

The vaulted and rectangular-shaped cistern is located 100 meters from Hecatomnus' grave.

"We suppose that it might be only one part of a complex of cisterns" the director of the Milas Museum, Ali Sinan Özbey, said, adding that this region will be opened for visitors as an archaeo-park when the excavation of the 2,400-year-old remains of Hecatomnus is finished.

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A significant part of the Cononian walls of Piraeus, which measured approximately 450 m in length, will be restored, aiming at the promotion of the remains of Antiquity at the Athenian port. The restoration will be based on a new study, which has been approved by the Central Archaeological Council. The part which will be restored is located at the Themistocles coast, in front of the Cruise Passenger Terminal B of the Piraeus Port Authority, and beside the new conference and exhibition centre of the port.

Apart from the restoration of the walls, the project includes the landscaping of the surrounding area for the accessibility to the outdoor spaces of the Kanellos Terminal. It should be noted that this terminal has recently been extended, in order to be used as a waiting room for passengers. The new sections also includes shops, restaurants, offices etc.

A small bridge made of wood and glass floor, passing over the walls, will allow visitors to view them. The project also includes a minor intervention at the spot where the scarce remains of one of the fortification’s towers lie.

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Water mains work unearths Roman cemetery in Somerset

Several Roman human remains were discovered at Banwell in Somerset

A Roman cemetery containing several human burials has been found during work on a new water mains in Somerset.

The finds were made by archaeologists during the laying of a four-mile (7km) long mains between Banwell and Hutton. 

Among the skeletons, which have been exhumed for further study, there was one in a partially-preserved coffin.

A Bristol Water spokesman said the excavation had been described as "potentially the most important for 100 years in North Somerset".

The cemetery was discovered "isolated from the surrounding landscape" in a curved water-filled ditch.
Roman cemeteries, according to Neil Shurety from Border Archaeology, are generally sited outside settlements and away from areas of human habitation.

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