Thursday, May 21, 2015

Oldest stone tools pre-date earliest humans


The tools includes sharp-edged flakes, hammers and anvils

The world's oldest stone tools have been discovered, scientists report.
They were unearthed from the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya, and date to 3.3 million years ago.
They are 700,000 years older than any tools found before, even pre-dating the earliest humans in the Homo genus.
The find, reported in Nature, suggests that more ancient species, such asAustralopithecus afarensis or Kenyanthropus platyops, may have been more sophisticated than was thought.
"They are significantly earlier than anything that has been found previously," said Dr Nick Taylor, from the National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS) in France and the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Roman mosaics damaged during botched restoration, Turkish officials say


At least 10 priceless mosaics held in the Hatay Archaeology Museum in Turkeyhave been badly damaged during restoration, officials and craftsmen have said.
The Roman mosaics, some of which date back to the second century, include world-famous panels depicting the sacrifice of Isaac and another of Narcissus. The museum in Turkey’s southern province of Hatay houses one of the world’s largest collections of mosaics.
Authorities have launched an investigation following reports that restoration has distorted the mosaics’ features and left them looking markedly different from the valuable originals.
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Fashionable Vikings loved colours, fur, and silk


The year is 873 and Frida is deciding what to wear. Her new red dress is finally ready, as are her freshly polished shell-shaped brooches designed to hold it in place at her shoulders. The dress is the newest cut in Viking fashion.
Of course, we don’t know exactly how such a scenario played out. Nevertheless, to a Viking woman, Frida’s dress in vibrant red with matching brooches could have been hugely popular. In fact, red and blue were among the most popular colours in the Viking Age.
But did the Vikings really have fashion on the mind?
"Yes," says Ulla Mannering from the Centre for Textile Research at the National Museum in Copenhagen.
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Turkey: Investigation over 'ruined' Roman mosaics


Turkey's culture ministry is investigating reports that a number of valuable Roman mosaics were badly damaged during botched restoration work at an archaeological museum, according to Turkish media.
Authorities are looking into the claims of a local craftsman who raised concerns over the condition of at least 10 mosaics at the Hatay Archaeology Museum, the Hurriyet Daily News website reports. Mehmet Daskapan first spoke out in an interview with a local paper in February, but the news was only picked up by mainstream Turkish media on Monday. "Valuable pieces from the Roman period have been ruined," Mr Daskapan told the Antakya Gazetesi website at the time. "They have become caricatures of their former selves. Some are in an especially poor condition and have lost their originality and value."
Before and after photos of the mosaics presented by Mr Daskapan show the "restored" versions looking significantly different to the originals. Some stones appear to have been replaced with different colours and shapes, changing the facial expressions of the characters depicted. A report on the Radikal website has suggested the images could have been Photoshopped, but the site later noted that the region's governor had nonetheless closed off the section housing the mosaics in question.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Viking 'forest' language set for Nordic preschool


A rare Nordic language used by a tiny forest community is set to be taught in a preschool in central Sweden. Elfdalian, which shares some similarities with Old Norse is a hot topic at an international linguistics conference in Copenhagen this week, as Scandinavian language experts campaign to stop it dying out.

It might sound like something from Lord of The Rings or The Local's recent April Fool's Day prank but Elfdalian is a real language currently used by around 2500 people in central Sweden and is understood to date back to Viking times.

Previously regarded as a Swedish dialect, leading linguistics experts now consider it a separate language and are battling to save it, after figures emerged that less than 60 children can currently speak it.

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BULGARIAN ARCHAEOLOGIST FINDS ANCIENT ROMAN JACUZZI HEATER AT ‘LUXURY’ ROAD STATION NEAR SOSTRA FORTRESS

Bulgarian archaeologist Ivan Hristov shows the heater of the Ancient Roman Jacuzzi in the “luxury” Roman road station at the Sostra Fortress located near Bulgaria’s Troyan. 
Photo: InfoTroyan.eu

Bulgarian archaeologist Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ivan Hristov has discovered a heater for an Ancient Roman Jacuzzi during the ongoing excavations of the Roman road station at the Sostra Fortress near the central town of Troyan.

The Roman road station, which was first found by Hristov’s team in the spring of 2014 and is presently being excavated further, has itself been described as a “luxury” Roman motel because of the amenities that it offered for the Roman travelers taking the Via Trajana, the road used by Roman Emperor Trajan (r. 98-117 AD).

The newly found heater for a Roman Jacuzzi consists of a furnace heating up air which is then directed to a shallow pool similar to a modern-day Jacuzzi, reports local news site InfoTroyan.eu.

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Medieval 'Witch Girl' Likely Just Suffered From Scurvy


A Medieval teenage girl found buried face-down last year in northern Italy suffered from scurvy and was rejected by her community, according to new study of her burial.

Dubbed by Italian media as "the witch girl," the skeleton was unearthed in September 2014 at the complex of San Calocero in Albenga on the Ligurian Riviera, by a team of the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology at the Vatican.

The site, a burial ground on which a martyr church dedicated to San Calocero was built around the 5th and 6th centuries A.D., was completely abandoned in 1593.

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Prehistoric man with shield found after dig


An archeological dig in Pocklington has unearthed a prehistoric man buried with a shield.

The skeleton was found in one of the square barrows at the recently discovered Iron Age burial ground on Burnby Lane, which is where developer David Wilson Homes is planning to build 77 new houses.

MAP Archaeological Practice, the company which is carrying out the excavation work, says it has also discovered a man “of an impressive stature.”

The site has so far yielded more than 38 square barrows and in excess of 82 burials.

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800-year-old rune stick unearthed during excavation of Danish city



The little stick found underneath the streets of Odense, Denmark’s third largest city, is only 8.5 centimetres in length -- but it isn’t just any old stick. The so-called rune stick was made in the early 13th century, said Odense City Museums in a press release.
Archaeologists have been digging for a long time at the excavation beneath I. Vilhelm Werners Square in Odense and they were actually just about to stop when they found three pieces of wood which fitted together to make up the rune stick.
It isn’t easy to decipher what the runes say and the stick itself is extremely fragile, explained rune expert and senior researcher Lisbeth Imer from the National Museum of Denmark in the press release.
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Neolithic fishing spear found in southern Denmark


At the archaeological investigations ahead of the construction of the future Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link, archaeologists from Museum Lolland-Falster have found an object that attracts particular attention. Jammed into the marine sediments was the head part of a fragmented fishing leister consisting of parts from both lateral prongs and a bone point slightly offset between them. It has long been presumed that there was a link between leister prongs and bone points, but this is probably the first time the connection has been documented in practice. The find thus confirms a theory that has been supported by archaeologists for decades, and which has been indicated by anthropological examples as well.


The Stone Age fishing leister, as it was found  [Credit: Museum Lolland-Falster]

"It is quite amazing that we have made a find that can help prove an old theory. So far, we have found a large number of individual leister prongs and bone points, but when we found them combined, it was quite remarkable. At last we are able to positively confirm the old theory because of this find," says Søren Anker Sørensen archaeologist at Museum Lolland-Falster.

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Niedergermanischer Limes soll UNESCO-Welterbe werden


Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz und die Niederlande wollen den Niedergermanischen Limes als Welterbe bei der UNESCO anmelden. Das sieht eine Vereinbarung der beiden Bundesländer mit den Niederlanden vor, die im LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn unterzeichnet wurde.

Der Niedergermanische Limes verlief auf 385 Kilometern Länge entlang des Rheins von Remagen in Rheinland-Pfalz bis Katwijk an Zee als Grenzeinrichtung gegenüber dem feindlichen freien Germanien. Der komplette Verlauf entlang eines Flusses und seine besonders lange Existenz unterscheiden ihn von den anderen Limesabschnitten.

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17th Medieval Dublin Symposium


The 17th Medieval Dublin Symposium will be held on Saturday, 16 May 2015.

There is no registration, admission is free and all are welcome.


Further information...

Monday, April 27, 2015

France's prehistoric Chauvet cave opens


A stunning replica of the 36,000 year-old Grotte Chauvet, home to the oldest figurative cave drawings in the world and an Unesco Heritage site, opened to the public at the weekend. Here's a look inside the country's latest tourist attraction.

The grotto at Vallon-Pont d'Arc in the Ardeche region of southern France, is a reproduction of the closely guarded Grotte Chauvet, which was granted World Heritage status last year.
The French president had already officially inaugurated the museum earlier this month and it officially opened to the public on Saturday.
The replica cave, which took a team of scientists two and a half years to create, will enable tourists from around the world to continue to see the frescos of painted animals without damaging the original cave.
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Caesar did not suffer from epilepsy: scientists


    More than 2,000 years since Caesar died - assassinated by his own senators - researchers have claimed the military leader was struck by a debilitating disease in later life.
    Some academics have previously argued that Caesar suffered from epilepsy, a brain condition which causes seizures.
    But writing in the journal Neurological Sciences, researchers Francesco M. Galassi and Hutan Ashrafian have argued that the general suffered from cerebrovascular disease.
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    Viking voyages began earlier than thought


    Forget about the Viking Age beginning with the brutal sacking of Lindisfarne Priory in 793. According to new research, Norwegian Vikings began long sea voyages at least 70 years earlier, but they came looking for trade not plunder.

    Archeologists digging beneath the old marketplace of Ribe, have stumbled upon the remains of reindeer antlers from Norway, which they believe prove trade links with Vikings far to the north. 
     
    "This is the first time we have proof that seafaring culture, which was the basis for the Viking era, has a history in Ribe. It's fascinating," Søren Sindbæk, a professor at the University of Aarhus and one of the others of a new study, told ScienceNordic. 
     
    Sindbæk believes early trading trips between Norway and Denmark gave the Vikings the seafaring skills that would be used some 70 years later to strike England.

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    Sunday, April 26, 2015

    Reindeer Antlers Suggest Viking Age Began With Trade


    Antlers from Norwegian reindeer have been unearthed in Ribe, the oldest commercial center in Denmark. The antlers have been dated to A.D. 725, some 70 years before the Viking raid on the Lindisfarne monastery in northern England. “The Viking Age becomes a phenomenon in Western Europe because the Vikings learned to use maritime mobility to their advantage. They learned to master sailing to such an extent that they get to the coast of England where the locals don’t expect anything. They come quickly, plunder the unprepared victims, and leave again—a sort of hit and run,” Søren Sindbæk of Aarhus University toldScience Nordic. The Norwegian reindeer antlers suggest that Norway’s earliest so-called Vikings developed their maritime skills through trade. “Now we can prove that shipping between Norway and the market town of Ribe was established prior to the Viking era, and trade networks helped to create the incentives and the knowledge of the sea, which made the Viking raids possible. It is the first time that we can clearly link two very important phenomena, the lock and key if you like, of the Viking Age,” he said. For more, see "The First Vikings."

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    The Viking Age began in Denmark


    The story of the Vikings begins in the year 793 AD, after Norwegian Vikings landed in England on the first official Viking raid. To this day, these fierce raids are the most famous of Viking stories. Now, a new study suggests a more peaceful start to Viking seafaring -- and it all began in Denmark.


     Ribe in Denmark: Scandinavia's first town and central to the beginning  of the Viking Age
    [Credit: visitribe.dk] 

    Three archaeologists from the University of Aarhus (Denmark) and the University of York (UK) have shown that maritime voyages from Norway to Ribe, the oldest commercial centre in Denmark, occurred long before the Viking age officially began. 

    The study shows that early Vikings travelled to Ribe in South Denmark as early as 725 AD. 

    The researchers discovered deer antlers in the oldest archaeological deposits of Ribe’s old marketplace and they turned out to be the remains of Norwegian reindeer.

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    Cremated human bones in pot found in Crossrail dig suggest gruesome ritual

     A Roman shackle – one of the mass of Roman and medieval objects found during excavations at the Crossrail site near Liverpool Street station. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

    Almost 2,000 years ago somebody neatly packed cremated human bones into an old cooking pot, put the lid on, and set it by the banks of a smelly little urban river, the Walbrook in London. The discovery has deepened the mystery of scores of Roman skulls found nearby, polished till they gleam by tumbling among the pebbles of the riverbed.
    It had been suggested that the skulls ended up in the river – which vanished into culverts centuries ago – by accident, eroded out of a Roman cemetery and washed downstream until they came to rest at bends in the bank. The new finds suggest a grimmer explanation.
    Jay Carver, Crossrail’s lead archaeologist on the site yards from the bustling commuters at Liverpool Street station, said the thrifty reuse of the old pot, and its deliberate placing by the river, will force archaeologists to look again at the skulls found in this excavation and generations of previous digs around the river.
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    Tuesday, April 21, 2015

    New Thoughts on Neanderthal Cooking



    Neanderthals went extinct in most of Europe around 40,000 years ago, some 5,000 years after the arrival of the first modern humans. “The issue of Neanderthal extinction is very complex, and very little is agreed upon,” Anna Goldfield of Boston University said at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, reported in Live Science. She thinks that mastery of fire may have given modern humans an advantage over Neanderthals in the struggle for survival. Cooking would have provided modern humans with more calories from the same amount of food, and it kills bacteria, making the food safer to eat.

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    Monday, April 20, 2015

    Rare Roman owl clasp found on Danish island


    A 2,000-year-old bronze and enamel clasp has been unearthed south of the town of Nexø on the island of Bornholm. Shaped like an owl, the bronze and enamel button has large orange eyes and colourful wings. 


    A rare owl clasp has been found on Bornholm  [Credit: Bornholm's Museum] 

    “There are very few of these types of buttons,” said archaeologist Christina Seehusen from Bornholms Museum. “It is likely that someone travelling to the island carried it there.” 

    The owl was produced in regions along the Roman frontier that ran along the Danube and the Rhine at the time, so it may originate from ancient Cologne or another nearby town. The clasp was usually worn by men to hold their cloaks closed, so it is possible that a man from the island was a Germanic mercenary in the Roman army and brought the owl back to Bornholm with him. 

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