Friday, April 11, 2014

Log boat dating back 4,500 years found in Lough Corrib

A 4,500-year-old log boat is among 12 early Bronze Age, Iron Age and medieval craft that have been located in Lough Corrib, along with several Viking-style battle axes and other weapons.
The vessels were discovered by marine surveyor Capt Trevor Northage while mapping the western lake to update British admiralty charts.
Investigative dives were subsequently carried out last summer by the underwater archaeology unit (UAU) of the National Monuments Service, and radiocarbon dating of samples was then conducted.
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, who was informed of the finds recently, has described them as “exceptional”.
The three Viking-style battle axes recovered from one of the vessels will be a centrepiece in the National Museum’s Battle of Clontarf commemorative exhibition, which is due to open later this month.
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Earliest evidence of human presence in Scotland found

Archaeologists have uncovered the earliest evidence of the presence of humans in Scotland it was announced today. 

Examples of te 14,000 year old flint tools unearthed at Howburn near Biggar [Credit: Historic Scotland] 

An assemblage of over 5,000 flint artefacts was recovered in 2005-9 by Biggar Archaeology Group in fields at Howburn, near Biggar in South Lanarkshire, and subsequent studies have dated their use to 14,000 years ago.  Prior to the find, the oldest evidence of human occupation in Scotland could be dated to around 13,000 years ago at a now-destroyed cave site in Argyll.

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Flint tools dated 14,000 years ago

Primitive tools dug up by archaeologists in South Lanarkshire have been dated at 14,000 years old - making them the earliest evidence of humans in Scotland.
The discovery follows a study of more than 5,000 flint artefacts recovered from fields at Howburn, near Biggar, from 2005 to 2009.
Experts observed striking similarities to previous finds in northern Germany and the south of Denmark, helping them date the tools to the very earliest part of the late-glacial period.
They now believe Howburn is likely to have hosted the very first settlers in Scotland.
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Durham Cathedral kitchen dig serves up food for thought

Archaeologists from Durham University have revealed what was on the menu at Durham Cathedral after excavating the kitchen

Archaeological dig inside Durham Cathedral Great Kitchen

A dig by archaeologists in a cathedral kitchen has served up plenty of food for thought.
The investigation by Archaeological Services Durham University has been taking place in what was the Great Kitchen of Durham Cathedral. Working with the cathedral’s archaeologist Norman Emery, they have taken the unique opportunity to carry out excavations in advance of developments linked to the cathedral’s Open Treasure project.
The former kitchen, which was later used as the cathedral bookshop, has been cleared prior to work to converting it into a new exhibition space.
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Log boat dating back 4,500 years found in Lough Corrib!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_620_330/image.jpg

A 4,500-year-old log boat is among 12 early Bronze Age, Iron Age and medieval craft that have been located in Lough Corrib, along with several Viking-style battle axes and other weapons.
The vessels were discovered by marine surveyor Capt Trevor Northage while mapping the western lake to update British admiralty charts.
Investigative dives were subsequently carried out last summer by the underwater archaeology unit (UAU) of the National Monuments Service, and radiocarbon dating of samples was then conducted.
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, who was informed of the finds recently, has described them as “exceptional”.
The three Viking-style battle axes recovered from one of the vessels will be a centrepiece in the National Museum’s Battle of Clontarf commemorative exhibition, which is due to open later this month.
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Leicester dig unearths Iron Age mint and Roman tile with dog paw prints

unearthed: The Roman tile with possible dog paw prints

Archaeologists believe they might have stumbled across an Iron Age mint which produced gold and silver coins for the coveted Hallaton Treasure.
The dig at Blackfriars, in the city, unearthed coin mould fragments which, combined with evidence from previous excavations, seems to confirm the site was a 2,000-year-old Corieltauvi tribe mint.
The Corieltauvi controlled most of the East Midlands, with Leicester as its capital.
Archaeologists believe the Blackfriars site could have produced some of the 5,000 silver and gold coins found in 2000, near the Leicestershire village of Hallaton.

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Viking artefacts, logboats found in Irish lake

A 4,500-year-old log boat is among 12 early Bronze Age, Iron Age and medieval craft that have been located in Lough Corrib, along with several Viking-style battle axes and other weapons. 

A researcher documents one of the Lough Corrib finds [Credit: RTE News] 

The vessels were discovered by marine surveyor Capt Trevor Northage while mapping the western lake to update British admiralty charts. 

Investigative dives were subsequently carried out last summer by the underwater archaeology unit (UAU) of the National Monuments Service, and radiocarbon dating of samples was then conducted. Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, who wa

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Vikings: hearts of darkness?

Slave collar, St. John’s Lane, Dublin, E173:X119. © National Museum of Ireland

Tom Williams, Exhibition Project Curator, British Museum
The tidal current runs to and fro […] crowded with memories of men and ships it had borne to the rest of home or to the battles of the sea. Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth! … The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empires.
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1899).
Here, surely, we have a passionate and evocative description of the Vikings: bold adventurers stepping forward onto the world stage, ready to set a blaze on four continents and pave the way for the nations that would rise in their wake.
In fact, this passage, taken from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, describes the explorers, buccaneers, settlers and merchants – ‘the dark ‘interlopers’ of the eastern trade, and the commissioned ‘generals’ of the East India fleets” – who had set out from the Thames from the 16th to the 19th century, laying the foundations of the British Empire and changing the world forever.
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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Book Review: An Early Meal - a Viking Age Cookbook & Culinary Odyssey by Daniel Serra and Hanna Tunberg

Raiders... conquerors... fierce in battle and strong in family. These are the images that the world has of Vikings. We know where they lived, and to some degree how they made a living. We know which gods they worshipped and how. Yet the bulk of our knowledge consists of broad brush strokes that omit the nuances of everyday life. The Vikings recorded many things, from The Sagas to business transactions and personal letters. But beyond a brief and occasional mention, two of the many things they didn’t write about were what they ate and how they prepared their meals. The Vikings left no recipes.

To that end An Early Meal, by Daniel Serra and Hanna Tunberg, is a triumph. It is a triumph of a book in the fields of both culinary history and world foods that rips the shroud of mystery off Viking cuisine. It is also the only book available with recipes that even approach authentic Viking Age dishes.

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Sitting Pretty: latrines and garderobes through the ages

Sitting Pretty: latrines and garderobes through the ages”.
Speaker: David Beard MA, FSA
7:00 p.m. Tuesday, 15 April 

Museum of London, London Wall, EC2Y 5HN

The development of sanitation has been an important aspect of human society through the ages. This talk looks at the history and archaeology of the toilet from the Neolithic to the nineteenth century.
Free to Members of EMAS - £5 for non-members

Rev's church could have been where Romeo and Juliet died

Shakespeare knew television's fictional St Saviour's as a real church in Shoreditch. Archaeology may reveal that it inspired one of his most famous scenes

The predecessor of St Leonard's church – St Saviour's in the television series - is where Shakespeare would have worshipped while living in Shoreditch. Photograph: Eric Nathan /Alamy
Some people believe Shakespeare may have worshipped there, even that it might have inspired scenes in Romeo and Juliet. Today it provides the backdrop to the hit BBC series Rev, starring Tom Hollander. Soon, an east London church could be the site of one of the most exciting archaeological investigations in recent times, one that may shed new light on the life of the playwright.
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London church may have Shakespearean ties

Some people believe Shakespeare may have worshipped at St. Leonard’s church, and that it might even have inspired scenes in “Romeo and Juliet.”
Today it provides the backdrop to the hit BBC series “Rev,” starring Tom Hollander. Soon, the East London church could be the site of one of the most exciting archaeological investigations in recent times, one that may shed new light on the life of the playwright.
St. Leonard’s church in Shoreditch — an 18th-century building known to “Rev” fans as St. Saviour in the Marshes — stands on a site occupied by its medieval predecessor, also known as St. Leonard’s, until it was demolished in the 1730s.
Historians have long speculated that large portions of the medieval church familiar to Shakespeare and many of his contemporaries might survive beneath the present church and its surrounding land. However, due to costs and the difficulties of investigating beneath and around a listed building used for worship, no work has been carried out.
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Offa's Dyke evidence at Chirk suggests earlier build

The border between England and Wales closely follows much of the dyke's route

Archaeologists have uncovered evidence which suggests that Offa's Dyke may have been built up to 200 years earlier than thought.
Samples from Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust excavations on a stretch of the dyke have been radiocarbon dated to the second half of the 6th Century.
Historians have always associated the dyke with King Offa who ruled the kingdom of Mercia in the 8th Century.
But now archaeologists believe it might have been in use before he ruled.
The trust said it was a "tremendously exciting discovery".
The excavations were taken from a section of the protected ancient monument at Chirk near the Shropshire border.
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Researchers say Neanderthals were no strangers to good parenting

Archaeologists at the University of York are challenging the traditional view that Neanderthal childhood was difficult, short and dangerous.

A research team from PALAEO (Centre for Human Palaeoecology and Evolutionary Origins) and the Department of Archaeology at York offer a new and distinctive perspective which suggests that Neanderthal children experienced strong emotional attachments with their immediate social group, used play to develop skills and played a significant role in their society.
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The cliff-hanging cists of Arran

In March 2012, the landowner and a local resident spotted a short stone cist exposed in the cliff face of a disused quarry at Sannox on the Isle of Arran. They alerted the West of Scotland Archaeology Service, which prompted Historic Scotland to commission GUARD Archaeology to undertake a rescue excavation. 

View of the site before excavation [Credit: © GUARD Archaeology Ltd] 

A GUARD Archaeology team, led by Iraia Arabaolaza, were sent to investigate the site; not an easy task given the high exposed location of the cist. The first thing the team did was to clean the exposed section of the eroding face of the sand cliff using a mechanical cherry-picker. This revealed not just the one but two cists. The subsequent excavation of the cists required the GUARD Archaeologists to wear harness and be tied to a fixed point at all times. However, the team successfully recovered and recorded the archaeological remains and brought them back to GUARD Archaeology's laboratory in Glasgow for specialist analyses, which has only just now been completed.

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Farming Changed Human Bones, Suggests Study

Because the structure of human bones can inform us about the lifestyles of the individuals they belong to, they can provide valuable clues for biological anthropologists looking at past cultures. Research by Alison Macintosh, a PhD candidate in Cambridge University's Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, shows that after the emergence of agriculture in Central Europe from around 5300 BC, the bones of those living in the fertile soils of the Danube river valley became progressively less strong, pointing to a decline in mobility and loading.

Macintosh presents some of her results at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Calgary, Alberta on April 8-12, 2014. Her research shows that mobility and lower limb loading in male agriculturalists declined progressively and consistently through time and were more significantly affected by culture change in Central Europe than they were in females.
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New method confirms Humans and Neandertals interbred

Technical objections to the idea that Neandertals interbred with the ancestors of Eurasians have been overcome, thanks to a genome analysis method described in the April 2014 issue of the journal Genetics. The technique can more confidently detect the genetic signatures of interbreeding than previous approaches and will be useful for evolutionary studies of other ancient or rare DNA samples. 

A new genome analysis method confirms that Neandertals interbred with the  ancestors of Eurasians 
[Credit: John Gurche/Chip Clark] 

"Our approach can distinguish between two subtly different scenarios that could explain the genetic similarities shared by Neandertals and modern humans from Europe and Asia," said study co-author Konrad Lohse, a population geneticist at the University of Edinburgh. The first scenario is that Neandertals occasionally interbred with modern humans after they migrated out of Africa. The alternative scenario is that the humans who left Africa evolved from the same ancestral subpopulation that had previously given rise to the Neandertals.

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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Did Europeans Get Fat From Neandertals?

Fathead? Modern humans (right) in Europe may have inherited genes from Neandertals that process fat in their brains and bodies.

Neandertals and modern Europeans had something in common: They were fatheads of the same ilk. A new genetic analysis reveals that our brawny cousins had a number of distinct genes involved in the buildup of certain types of fat in their brains and other tissues—a trait shared by today’s Europeans, but not Asians. Because two-thirds of our brains are built of fatty acids, or lipids, the differences in fat composition between Europeans and Asians might have functional consequences, perhaps in helping them adapt to colder climates or causing metabolic diseases.
“This is the first time we have seen differences in lipid concentrations between populations,” says evolutionary biologist Philipp Khaitovich of the CAS-MPG Partner Institute for Computational Biology in Shanghai, China, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, lead author of the new study. “How our brains are built differently of lipids might be due to Neandertal DNA.”
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Pillage d’une nécropole antique à Prunay-Belleville

Depuis mi-février, les archéologues de l’Inrap interviennent à Prunay-Belleville, dans l’Aube, avant l’aménagement du gazoduc « Arc de Dierrey », réalisé sous la maîtrise d'ouvrage de GRT Gaz. Cette fouille, prescrite par l’État (Drac Champagne-Ardenne), vient de révéler trois ensembles funéraires majeurs : deux enclos de l’âge du Fer ainsi qu’un ensemble de sept sépultures antiques. Ces dernières, datées des IIe-IIIe siècles, très riche en mobilier funéraire, étaient particulièrement bien conservées. 
Mardi 4 mars, l’équipe de l’Inrap a constaté le pillage d’une partie des tombes gallo-romaines. Sur les lieux, la gendarmerie de Villenauxe-Grande a démarré une enquête. Une plainte a été déposée par l’Inrap.

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Digging Up a Medieval Latrine: Photos

A number of Medieval latrines -- still filled with their original contents -- have been unearthed in Denmark, according to archaeologists working in one of the largest urban archaeological excavations in Danish history.

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Copenhagen harbour founded on old rubbish

Based on the excavations by a team of archaeologists digging out Copenhagen’s first harbour area in Gammel Strand, the harbour was founded on a pile of rubbish.
The archaeologists have been excavating the area for the past two months and have found centuries-old rubbish stemming from Copenhagen in the 1600s. Similar finds were made in Christianshavn and Slotsholmen.
In the 1680s the city harbour needed expanding, and so small wooden land excavation crates were filled up with household and construction rubbish that helped expand the wharf by eight metres over the following century.
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Study Finds Ancient Nomads Spread Earliest Domestic Grains Along Silk Road

This is a photo of the long-term settlement stratigraphy at the site of Tasbas. Mudbrick/clay oven (visible on right lower portion) contained earliest evidence for grain farming. Credit: Paula Doumani /Washington University in St. Louis (2011)

Findings push back earliest known East-West interaction along Silk Road by 2,000 years
Charred grains of barley, millet and wheat deposited nearly 5,000 years ago at campsites in the high plains of Kazakhstan show that nomadic sheepherders played a surprisingly important role in the early spread of domesticated crops throughout a mountainous east-west corridor along the historic Silk Road, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.
“Our findings indicate that ancient nomadic pastoralists were key players in an east-west network that linked innovations and commodities between present-day China and southwest Asia,” said study co-author Michael Frachetti, PhD, an associate professor of archaeology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University and principal investigator on the research project.
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Satellites and sensors to halt crumbling of Italy's Pompeii

ROME (Reuters) - The ruins of ancient Pompeii will be monitored by satellites and sensors under an agreement with Italian defense and technology group Finmeccanica to try to stop theUNESCO world heritage site from crumbling.

The state-controlled group will help train staff and donate its technology for free for three years in an investment worth up to 2 million euros ($2.75 million), after which the equipment will be left to the restoration project.

Regular collapses of walls and houses in the treasured Roman town that was covered by ash in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD have caused an international outcry and increased pressure for an end to delays dogging a 105-million-euro restoration project part-funded by the European Union and launched last year.

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More on Neanderthals’ Genetic Legacy

SHANGHAI, CHINA—Neanderthals and modern humans are thought to have interbred at least once—probably in the Middle East—after modern humans left Africa. As a result, today’s Europeans and Asians carry a small amount of Neanderthal DNA. A new analysis of some of those Neanderthal gene variants, and an examination of brain tissues, suggests that today’s Europeans have three times as many Neanderthal genes involved in the breakdown of fats than Asians have. “This is the first time we have seen differences in lipid concentrations between populations. How our brains are built differently of lipids might be due to Neanderthal DNA,” evolutionary biologist Philipp Khaitovich of the CAS-MPG Partner Institute and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology toldScience Now. Khaitovich thinks the fatty acid genes may have helped Neanderthals and Europeans adapt to living in the Northern Europe’s colder climates.

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'Homo' is the only primate whose tooth size decreases as its brain size increases

Andalusian researchers, led by the University of Granada, have discovered a curious characteristic of the members of the human lineage, classed as the genus Homo: they are the only primates where, throughout their 2.5-million year history, the size of their teeth has decreased in tandem with the increase in their brain size.

The key to this phenomenon, which scientists call "evolutionary paradox," could be in how Homo's diet has evolved. Digestion starts first in the mouth and, so, teeth are essential in breaking food down into smaller pieces. Therefore, the normal scenario would be that, if the brain grows in size, and, hence, the body's metabolic needs, so should teeth.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2014


Cabezo Pequeño del Estany. Image: University of Alicante

Researchers in Spain have applied new remote sensing and aerial imaging to the Phoenician colony of Cabezo Pequeño del Estany of Guardamar under the project “Cultural Transfers in the Ancient Mediterranean” to begin a new round of archaeological works on the site.
The settlement was first discovered by chance in the late 1980s when it was partially destroyed by an illegal cement quarry and subsequently excavated in several seasons of rescue archaeology under the direction of Antonio García Menárguez, director of the Archaeological Museum of Guardamar.
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Saudi royal family could pay for restoration of Roman monuments

Deal brokered by mayor of Rome could see Saudi Arabia provide millions of euros to restore neglected sites in exchange for loans of priceless artworks

The government in Riyadh have shown a particular interest in in the Emperor Augustus's mausoleum, a giant, circular structure located near the Tiber River Photo: Alamy

A training barracks used by Roman gladiators and the 2,000-year-old mausoleum of the Emperor Augustus could be restored with money from the Saudi royal family, in the latest effort by Italy to secure funding for its crumbling cultural heritage.
In a deal brokered by Ignazio Marino, the mayor of Rome, the Saudi royals are to provide millions of euros to pay for the restoration of some of the capital's neglected monuments.
The government in Riyadh has been presented with a dossier of nine historic sites to choose from, with greatest interest said to be in the Emperor Augustus's mausoleum, a giant, circular structure near the Tiber River that has been virtually abandoned for decades.
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Monday, March 31, 2014

Teeth help scientists unearth secrets of Black Death

You can learn a lot from a tooth.
Molars taken from skeletons unearthed by work on a new London railway line are revealing secrets of the medieval Black Death — and of its victims.
This week, Don Walker, an osteologist with the Museum of London, outlined the biography of one man whose ancient bones were found by construction workers under London’s Charterhouse Square: He was breast-fed as a baby, moved to London from another part of England, had bad tooth decay in childhood, grew up to work as a labourer, and died in early adulthood from the bubonic plague that ravaged Europe in the 14th century.
The poor man’s life was nasty, brutish, and short, but his afterlife is long and illuminating.
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Black Death skeletons unearthed by Crossrail project

The plague victims' bones reveal clues to their harsh lives in medieval London

Skeletons unearthed in London Crossrail excavations are Black Death victims from the great pandemic of the 14th Century, forensic tests indicate.

Their teeth contain DNA from the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis and their graves have been dated to 1348-50.

Records say thousands of Londoners perished and their corpses were dumped in a mass grave outside the City, but its exact location was a mystery.

Continue reading the main story

Archaeologists now believe it is under Charterhouse Square near the Barbican.

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Developers destroy 2,000-year-old Winchester Roman wall

AFTER: The site after the wall was destroyed.

IT was a plan that sparked outrage.
But despite pleas to save a 2,000-year-old Roman wall from destruction, developers have gone ahead and carted the relic off in a lorry.
As previously reported, historians were angered when it emerged thatBargate Homes were considering breaking the wall down to make way for 14 homes at the site, in Southgate Street, Winchester.
But the proposal has now become a reality.
Colin Cook, of the Winchester Area Tourist Guides Association, witnessed the destruction.
He said: “It’s desperately sad. I have got sympathy with Bargate Homes but Winchester City Council planners need to be a lot more aware of the sensitivities of these sites when they’re giving permission. As far as I can see it’s gone away on a lorry. There is no possibility of rebuilding it anywhere else.”
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3,000 year old cultivated fields unearthed in the Netherlands

Dr. Stijn Arnoldussen, an archaeologist at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, has unearthed prehistoric cultivated field sites constructed more than 3,100 years ago that were subsequently used for centuries. 

[Credit: Stijn Arnoldussen, University of Groningen, the Netherlands] 

Dr. Arnoldussen’s research focuses on long-term development of cultural landscapes from the Late Neolithic onwards, with specific attention for the interplay of funerary and settlement domains within the wider cultural landscape, and additionally on Bronze Age settlements as foci for patterned deposition and the nature and dynamics of the Celtic field system of the later Bronze Age and Iron Age. Side-projects include pottery analysis (from the Neolithic up to the Roman Period), analyses of Bronze artefacts, computer applications in fieldwork and editorial work for the Journal for Archaeology in the Low Countries. 

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Roman Emperor Dressed As Egyptian Pharaoh in Newfound Carving

A newfound stone carving reveals Roman Emperor Claudius dressed as an Egyptian pharaoh while wearing an elaborate crown. The hieroglyphs say Claudius is raising the pole of the cult chapel of Egyptian fertility god Min and suggests a ritual like this took place around the summertime.
Credit: Photo by Marleen De Meyer, line drawing by Troy Sagrillo.

An ancient stone carving on the walls of an Egyptian temple depicts the Roman emperor Claudius dressed as an Egyptian pharaoh, wearing an elaborate crown, a team of researchers has discovered.

In the carving, Emperor Claudius, who reigned from A.D. 41 to 54, is shown erecting a giant pole with a lunar crescent at the top. Eight men, each wearing two feathers, are shown climbing the supporting poles, with their legs dangling in midair.

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Centuries-old grills of ancient BBQ lovers found in western Turkey

Among the findings are earth and kiln barbecues, their tools and cookers. AA photo

Pieces of grills, which date back to 2,200 years ago, have been unearthed in the ancient city of Assos in the northwestern province of Çanakkale’s Ayvacık district. The barbecues are made of earth and kiln. 

The head of the excavations in the ancient city, Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University member Professor Nurettin Aslan said they had found important clues that locals in the area did not fry fish and meat, but grilled them in barbecues, cooking them in a healthier way. Among the findings are earth and kiln barbecues, their tools and cookers, Aslan said, adding, “These are small portable cookers. We see that some of them have the ‘bearded Hermes’ figure.”

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Researchers suggest Vikings used crystals with sun compass to steer at night

Credit: Soren Thirslund

( —A team of researchers working in Hungary has proposed that a sun compass artifact found in a convent in 1948 might have been used in conjunction with crystals to allow Vikings to guide their boats even at night. In their paper published inProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical & Engineering Sciences, the team describes theories they've developed that might explain how Viking sailors were able to so accurately sail to places such as Greenland.
Since the discovery of the sun compass fragment,  have theorized that Viking sailors used them to plot their course—at least when the sun was shining. They didn't have magnetic compasses, however, which suggest they must have had some other means for steering in the evening or the later hours. In this latest effort, the researchers describe a scenario where the Vikings might have used a type of crystal that they called a sunstone to help them use light from the sun below the horizon as a guide.
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Hadrian’s Wall Trust to close within six months as funding evaporates

The trust set up to manage Hadrian’s Wall is to close in six months after funding dried up, leaving support for the World Heritage Site “uncertain”. 

Hadrian's Wall stretches 84 miles [Credit: Rex Features] 

Hadrian’s Wall Trust revealed it is to close this week, with a series of organisations scrabbling to put funding in place to ensure one of Britain’s most famous monuments can be adequately maintained in the long term.

 Linda Tuttiett, chief executive of the Trust, said: “We hope and pray resources can be found to keep the heritage site safe” after confirming that funding cuts had forced the trustees to close the seven-year-old organisation.

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Forget GPS: Medieval Compass Guided Vikings After Sunset

The Uunartoq disc was discovered in an 11th century convent in Greenland in 1948. It is thought to have been used as a compass by the Vikings as they traversed the North Atlantic Ocean from Norway to Greenland.
Credit: Copyright Proceedings of the Royal Society A; Balazs Bernath; Alexandra Farkas; Denes Szaz; Miklos Blaho; Adam Egri; Andras Barta; Susanne Akesson; and Gabor Horvath

Often regarded as ruthless robbers, the Vikings were also impressive mariners capable of traversing the North Atlantic along a nearly straight line. Now, new interpretations of a medieval compass suggest the sea robbers may have skillfully used the sun to operate the compass even when the sun had set below the horizon.

The remains of the supposed compass — known as theUunartoq disc— were found in Greenland in 1948 in an 11th-century convent. Though some researchers originally argued it was simply a decorative object, other researchers have suggested the disc was an important navigational tool that theVikings would have used in their roughly 1,600-mile-long (2,500 kilometers) trek from Norway to Greenland.

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Beachy Head Lady was young sub-Saharan Roman with good teeth, say archaeologists

Was this Sussex’s first sub-Saharan resident? Heritage Officer Jo Seaman reveals the quest for the Beachy Head Lady in Eastbourne

The figure known as Beachy Head Lady has gone on show to the public in Eastbourne
© Graham Huntley

“We had over 300 different individuals – most skeletons, but some cremations. The idea was to go back through all those. We had some information about some of them but others we had nothing on.

They were held in the basement of the town hall, where I keep my archaeology collection. They came primarily from two main Saxon cemeteries that were excavated – one in particular had over 200 graves.

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Unearthing a Roman civilian's past at Maryport

An archaeological team is unearthing the remains of a Roman fort and settlement in the hope of gaining a better understanding of everyday Roman civilian life. 

The settlement is believed to have been divided into a series of long plots which  extended along a 1,378ft (420m) length of Roman road leading to the  fort gate [Credit: Hadrian's Wall Trust] 

Oxford Archaeology (OA) and a team of volunteers are excavating an extramural settlement at Maryport Roman fort on the west coast of Cumbria. 

Built high on the cliffs overlooking Solway Firth, it is believed the fort was founded in the First Century AD when the Roman army initially entered the region.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

‘Little Foot’ fossil could be human ancestor

A short, hairy “ape man” who tumbled into a pit in South Africa millions of years ago is back in the running as a candidate ancestor for humans, scientists saidearlier this month.
A painstaking 13-year probe has “convincingly shown,” they said March 14, that the strange-looking creature named “Little Foot” lived some 3 million years ago — almost 1 million years earlier than calculated by rival teams.
If so, it would make Little Foot — so named for the diminutive size of the bones — one of the oldest members of the Australopithecus hominid family ever found.
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Excavation of Neolithic chambered tomb on Anglesey begins

An archaeological excavation of Ynys Môn's least known Neolithic chambered tomb – Perthi Duon, west of the village of Brynsiencyn on Anglesey – has begun. The work is being carried out by a team from the Welsh Rock Art Organisation under the direction of Dr George Nash of the University of Bristol and Carol James.
Perthi Duon, considered to be the remains of a portal dolmen, is one of eighteen extant stone chambered monuments that stand within a 1.5 km corridor of the Menai Straits.
The antiquarian Henry Rowlands reports in 1723 that beneath the large capstone were three stones, possibly upright stones or pillars. However, by the beginning of the nineteenth century the  was in a ruinous state, incorporated into a north-south hedge boundary, itself now removed.
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Neolithic houses at Stonehenge

NEOLITHIC buildings are being painstakingly recreated in the new outdoor exhibition area of the Stonehenge visitor centre.
When complete, the houses will showcase what life would have been like at the time that Stonehenge was built. The re-created huts are based on archaeological evidence unearthed at the nearby Durrington Walls.
Volunteers are weaving hundreds of hazel rods through the main supporting stakes, thatching the roofs with hand-knotted wheat straw, and starting to cover the walls with a daub of chalk, straw and water.
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Shipwrecks Lost to Time That Archaeologists Would Love to Get Their Hands On

This 102-foot-long Roman barge from the first century A.D. was lifted in 2011 from the Rhône River in Arles, France. It was virtually intact after two millennia in the mud.

Finding modern ships lost at sea, even with the help of radar, sonar, and satellites, can be a herculean task. But trying to find a shipwreck from thousands of years ago is even harder. It's like looking for a wooden needle in a haystack after part of the needle has rotted away.

Underwater archaeologists keep looking, though, because finding one of these shipwrecks could yield a treasure trove of information—from how ancient peoples built their vessels to where they traveled and who their trading partners were.

Figuring out those connections would allow researchers to better understand ancient economies, and to put the cultures into a more global context, says James Delgado, director of maritime heritage for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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Syria Crusader castle Krak des Chevaliers has war scars

A Syrian soldier looking at the castle on Thursday

Government troops in Syria have recaptured the historic Crusader castle of Krak des Chevaliers from rebels, close to the border with Lebanon.
An officer said the army had killed 93 rebels in fierce fighting in the area on Thursday, while there appeared to be heavy damage to a nearby village.
Journalists allowed to visit the Unesco World Heritage site on Friday found signs of a hasty retreat.
Walls of the hilltop castle showed signs of damage from bombardment.
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