Sunday, January 21, 2018

Ancient human remains found in Mayo date back over 5,000 years

Ben Gorm Mountain, Mayo
Image: T Kahlert via Department of Culture

THE DEPARTMENT OF CULTURE, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has revealed that ancient human remains, which were discovered by a local hillwalker on a Mayo mountainside in 2016, date back as early as 3,600 BC.
The research found that the natural boulder chamber in which the remains were found was used for human burial practice through the Neolithic period.
A least 10 individuals – adults, teenagers and children – were placed in the chamber over a period of up to 1,200 years, according to the research. One of the adult bones dated to 3,600 BC, while a bone of a child skeleton dated to 2,400 BC.
In August 2016, local hillwalker Michael Chambers discovered a cave-like chamber among some large boulders on Ben Gorm Mountain in Newport, Mayo.
He found human bones scattered over the rock floor of the chamber and contacted gardaí in order to have them tested.
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Unusually sophisticated prehistoric monuments and technology in the heart of the Aegean

Excavations underway on Dhaskalio, off Keros 
[Credit: Cambridge Keros Project]

New work at the settlement of Dhaskalio, the site adjoining the prehistoric sanctuary on the Cycladic island of Keros, has shown this to be a more imposing and densely occupied series of structures than had previously been realised, and one of the most impressive sites of the Aegean during the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC).

Until recently, the island of Keros, located in the Cyclades, south of Naxos, was known for ritual activities dating from 4,500 years ago involving broken marble figurines. Now new excavations are showing that the promontory of Dhaskalio (now a tiny islet because of sea level rise), at the west end of the island next to the sanctuary, was almost entirely covered by remarkable monumental constructions built using stone brought painstakingly from Naxos, some 10km distant.

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Bronze Age Arrows and a Viking Sword – The 2017 Fieldwork Was Awesome!

The Storfonne ice patch, photographed in September 2014 during a major melt. Notice the light grey lichen-free zone surrounding the ice. This area was exposed by ice melt in the last 15-20 years. Photo: Lars Pilø, Secrets of the Ice/Oppland County Council.

Both sites had only seen short visits prior to this field-season. This had resulted in a number of artifact recoveries, especially arrows, found close to the melting ice. However, we knew that there were other finds on these sites, and that they were lying on the surface, exposed to the elements. The main job would be to rescue these artefacts. To achieve this, we planned to conduct a systematic and thorough survey of the lichen-free zone (where the ice has melted recently) surrounding the ice on both sites.

The Lauvhøe ice patch

The Lauvhøe ice patch was up first. The earliest finds from this site were reported in 2007: three arrows, dating to the Iron Age and the medieval period. Even with these remarkable finds, the site had to wait ten years for a proper systematic survey. This may sound harsh, but with the short time window available for surveys each year, other sites with more and older finds had to be surveyed first. Lauvhøe’s turn had finally come this year.

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LES FOUILLES ARCHÉOLOGIQUES PRÉVENTIVES DÉMARRENT SUR LA ZAC ODE ACTE 2 SUR LES COMMUNES DE LATTES ET DE PÉROLS (HÉRAULT)


Les fouilles préventives du site des « Hauts de Lattes » s’inscrivent dans la poursuite de l’aménagement de la « Zac Ode Acte 2 », dans le cadre du projet urbain Ode à la Mer qui s’étend depuis la Lironde jusqu’au Parc des Expositions, sur les communes de Lattes et de Pérols.

8 HECTARES DE FOUILLES SUR LE SITE « HAUTS DE LATTES »
À la suite d’un diagnostic archéologique réalisé fin 2015 - début 2016, l’État (Drac Occitanie) a prescrit la réalisation d’une fouille préventive de 8 hectares, situés à l’extrémité nord de la « butte de Pérols », entre la vallée de la Lironde et l’étang de l’Estanel. La SA3M ( Société d’Aménagement de Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole), ainsi que deux autres maîtres d’ouvrage (les sociétés Pitch Promotion et Pégase Immobilier) ont choisi de confier ces recherches à l’Inrap, qui s’est associé au service archéologique de la SAM (Sète Agglopole Méditerranée) pour cette opération.

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Menschheitsgeschichte muss nicht neu geschrieben werden


Der »Fall Untermaßfeld«

In einer kürzlich im Fachjournal »Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology« veröffentlichten Studie widerlegt der Senckenberg-Wissenschaftler Prof. Dr. Ralf-Dietrich Kahlke gemeinsam mit einem internationalen Team renommierter Steinzeitexperten eine kürzlich erschienene Veröffentlichung zur Ausbreitung des Menschen in Europa. In dieser wird die These aufgestellt, dass die ersten Menschen schon vor etwa einer Million Jahre in Nord- und Mitteleuropa lebten – gut 200.000 Jahre früher als bisher belegt. Das Team zeigt zudem, dass die »Belegstücke« der archäologischen Untersuchung vermutlich aus der Forschungsgrabung Untermaßfeld gestohlen wurden.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Neolithic girl's reconstructed face unveiled at Athens Acropolis Museum on January 19th

Myrtis is the reconstructed head of a girl that once lived in Classical-era ancient Athens and died during the plague in Athens in the 5th century BC

An 18-year-old girl who lived in Greece 7,000 years ago and was unearthed by archaeologists in Theopetra cave, near the city of Trikala, has had her face reconstructed and is about to officially introduce herself to the public.

Eight years after the revelation of Myrtis, the reconstructed head of a girl that once lived in Classical-era ancient Athens and died during the plague in Athens in the 5th century BC and following the international sensation that it caused, the Acropolis museum is ready to to introduce Dawn’s new face from an even earlier past, to Greek and international audiences.

Dawn (Avgi in Greek) is a woman from the Mesolithic era (7,000 BC) who lived in the Theopetra cave, according to Athens University professor Manolis Papagrigorakis; who has invested a great deal of time and learning in order to bring Greeks “face to face” with their ancestors.

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Ancient highland ruins probed by archaeologists


ARCHAEOLOGISTS are probing an ancient mystery uncovered by workers deep in a Highland forest.

The crumbling ruins are believed to have been an Iron Age fort, or possibly the home of a local chief or lord, and date back to about 2,400 years ago.

The site was known about from a survey taken in the 1940s, but had been forgotten about until it was spotted by loggers clearing the land.

Now researchers are unravelling its tantalising mystery, with evidence showing the structure may have a violent past and was burnt down twice and rebuilt before finally being abandoned.

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Viking centre discovered in Cork city predates Waterford settlement

The latest discoveries at the South Main Street site confirm Cork’s significance in the Hiberno-Norse world, archaeologist says

Cork was a significant centre for Vikings in Ireland with an urban centre that predates the Viking settlement in Waterford, a new report on the excavation of the city’s event centre has revealed.

According to the report by Cork City Council executive archaeologist, Joanne Hughes, the latest discoveries at the South Main Street site confirm Cork’s significance in the Hiberno-Norse world.

In the report presented to members of Cork City Council, Ms Hughes said that excavation of the site by archaeologist Dr Maurice Hurley for developers BAM, was highly revealing about Cork’s past.

She explained that the site of the former Beamish and Crawford Brewery adjacent to the south channel of the Lee had been divided into three separate sections for excavation purposes.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Evidence of 'special site' for Bronze Age burials near Loch Ness

The latest grave to be found is pictured before and after soil was removed from inside it
Archaeologists say they are finding increasing evidence that a site near Loch Ness was important for burials in the Bronze Age.

A second 4,000-year-old grave has been located in an area being developed in Drumnadrochit where a stone-lined grave known as a cist was found in 2015.

The discovery two years ago included human remains.

The latest grave had filled with soil causing degradation to the pit, but a single Beaker pot was found.

Archaeologists said the decorated pot may have held an offering to the person who was buried in the cist.

The first grave was discovered during work constructing the new Drumnadrochit Medical Centre and excavated by AOC Archaeology Group.

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The tense truce between detectorists and archaeologists

Metal detecting has a contentious history within the heritage community. 
Photograph: Antonio Olmos for the Observer

There’s been reason for cheer in metal detecting circles, with the news this month that 2016 saw a record number of finds reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme. This announcement has spawned numerous congratulatory reports – including in the Guardian – detailing the wonderful things found, the back-stories of the lucky finders, and the sometimes extraordinary sums of money their finds have fetched. The rise in finds is attributed to improved detector technology and an increase in the number of people taking up the hobby, encouraged by recent spectacular finds and the popularity of the BBC’s Detectorists series.

Within the archaeological community the response has not been quite so cheerful. Several archaeologists have complained to me about the Guardian appearing to promote metal detecting as a harmless leisure pursuit, and online there’s been a distinct rumble of archaeological discontent. So why are some archaeologists upset about the swelling ranks of detectorists and the flood of important finds they’re turning up? The explanation lies in the uneasy relationship between archaeology and metal detecting which stretches back over the last 50 years.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Prehistoric women's arms 'stronger than those of today's elite rowers'

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins celebrate Olympic victory in 2012. Neolithic women’s arm bones were about 30% stronger than those of women today. 
Photograph: Francisco Leong/IOPP Pool/Getty Images

Prehistoric women had stronger arms than elite female rowing teams do today thanks to the daily grind of farming life, researchers have revealed, shedding light on their role in early communities.

The study of ancient bones suggests that manual agricultural work had a profound effect on the bodies of women living in central Europe between about the early neolithic and late iron age, from about 5,300BC to AD100.

“We think a lot of what we are seeing is the bone’s response to women grinding grain, which is pretty much seated but using your arms really repetitively many hours a day,” said Dr Alison Macintosh, co-author of the research from the University of Cambridge.

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Viking-Era Stone Carved with Runes Found in Norway

This whetstone (a stone used for sharpening knives) has letters known as runes engraved on it, archaeologists found. Discovered recently during excavations in Oslo, the stone dates back to the Middle Ages, a time when the Vikings flourished in Norway
Credit: Karen Langsholt Holmqvist/NIKU

A stone carved with symbols known as runes and dating to the Middle Ages has been discovered during an excavation ahead of a railway-construction project in Oslo, Norway.

The runes, which were found engraved on a whetstone (a stone used for sharpening knives), date to sometime around 1,000 years ago when the Vikings (also called the Norse) flourished in Norway. The runic writing system conveyed a language and could be used to record and convey information as well as cast spells. Each rune formed a letter or sign and a combination of runes could spell out a word. Who engraved the runes on this newly discovered stone is unknown.

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The Viking Spear from the Lendbreen Ice Patch


The Lendbreen ice patch, September 1974. Young student Per Dagsgard from Skjåk was visiting the ice patch to search for remains from ancient reindeer hunting. Little did he know that he would make the archaeological discovery of a lifetime on this day – a find still surrounded by mystery.

The Discovery

Dagsgard hiked from the valley up to the ice patch in about two hours. When he arrived at the lake in front of the ice, he could see that the ice patch had melted back considerably in the previous years.

Dagsgard went around the lake and came close to the lower part of the ice patch. He suddenly saw a long wooden stick lying among the stones. A large iron object was situated at one end of the stick. When he got closer, it became clear to him that it was a complete spear, with both the spearhead and the shaft preserved. As Dagsgard had a keen interest in history, he knew that Viking Age arrowheads had been found at the Lendbreen ice patch previously. His immediate thought was that the spear dated to the Viking Age as well. He was right.

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'Santa's bone' proved to be correct age


A fragment of bone claimed to be from St Nicholas - the 4th-Century saintly inspiration for Father Christmas - has been radio carbon tested by the University of Oxford.

The test has found that the relic does date from the time of St Nicholas, who is believed to have died about 343AD.

While not providing proof that this is from the saint, it has been confirmed as authentically from that era.

The Oxford team says these are the first tests carried out on the bones.

Relics of St Nicholas, who died in modern-day Turkey, have been kept in the crypt of a church in Bari in Italy since the 11th Century.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ancient sword and other incredible items discovered during dig at Glenfield Park


Archeologists have discovered an unprecedented collection of artefacts from the Iron Age at Glenfield Park in Leicestershire.
Prehistoric cauldrons, a complete ancient sword and third century BC brooch, and dress pins are among the nationally significant findings discovered by University of Leicester archaeologists.
The Iron Age site is believed to have been a ritual and ceremonial centre for a community that also hosted large feasts, while the findings represent the most northerly discovery of such objects on mainland Britain and the only find of this type of cauldron in the East Midlands.
Evidence also suggests the site was used over a long period of time by multiple generations and underwent striking changes in character.
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Third Roman Temple In Silchester May Have Been Part Of Nero's Vanity Project

Aerial view of the temple site in Silchester [Credit: Dr Kevin White, University of Reading]

The temple remains were found within the grounds of the Old Manor House in the Roman town at Silchester, along with rare tiles stamped with the name of the emperor, who ruled AD54-68.

The temple joined two others to make a group of three when it was investigated in Silchester in autumn 2017, and is the first to be identified in the town for more than 100 years. The three temples are located in a walled sanctuary, numbered Insula XXX by Victorian archaeologists. It would have been a striking gateway to the city for travellers from London.

Four fragments of tiles stamped in Nero's name were found in a ritual pit within the temple site – the largest concentration ever found in the town – along with another three at the kiln site which made the tiles in nearby Little London. These provide further evidence that the temples could all have been part of a Nero-sponsored building project in Silchester.

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Caesar's invasion of Britain began from Pegwell Bay in Kent, say archaeologists


Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain was launched from the sandy shores of Pegwell Bay on the most easterly tip of Kent, according to fresh evidence unearthed by archaeologists.

Researchers named the wide, shallow bay the most likely landing spot for the Roman fleet after excavators found the remains of a defensive base dating to the first century BC in the nearby hamlet of Ebbsfleet, near Ramsgate.
The ancient base covered more than 20 hectares and would have been ideally placed to protect the 800 ships the Roman army had to haul ashore when they were battered by a storm soon after they arrived from France in 54BC.

“This is the first archaeological evidence we have for Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain,” said Andrew Fitzpatrick, a researcher at the University of Leicester. “It’s a large defended site that dates to the first century BC.”

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Julius Caesar's Britain invasion site 'found by archaeologists'

Archaeologists from the University ofLeicester believe the ditch was part of a large fort in Kent

Archaeologists believe they may have uncovered the first evidence of Julius Caesar's invasion of Britain in 54BC.

The discovery of a defensive ditch and weapons led them to identify Pegwell Bay in Thanet, Kent, as the place they believe the Romans landed.

The ditch, in the nearby hamlet of Ebbsfleet, was part of a large fort, the University of Leicester team says.

Its location was consistent with clues provided by Caesar's own account of the invasion, the team said.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Denmark’s first Viking king printed in 3D

Gorm the Old’s bones are printed in a range of colours (Photo: Marie Louise Jørkov)

For the first time ever, bones from the famous Danish Viking king, Gorm the Old, have been reconstructed and printed in 3D.

Gorm the Old was the first to call himself king of Denmark. He was also the first to use the name ‘Denmark’ for the country he reigned over for decades until his death in 958 CE.

Even though the bones are damaged and parts of the skeleton are missing, being able to hold pieces of one of Denmark’s greatest kings is a unique experience, says archaeologist Adam Bak, curator at Kongernes Jelling, National Museum of Denmark, who facilitated the reconstruction.

“It’s a great feeling to stand with them in your hand, turning them over, and looking at them. From a pure science communication perspective, it’s so much better to have a ‘real’ bone in your hand than to read a dry text about a, historical person. I can’t deny that I’ve also played Hamlet with his skull,” says Bak.

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Archaeologists uncover ancient Viking camp from the 870s in village of Repton

University of Bristol students excavated a Viking camp dating to a winter in the 870s (PA)

A Viking camp that dates back to the 870s has been been unearthed by archeologists in the small village of Repton in Derbyshire.

The new discoveries were located at a campsite in the village, which has been known about since the 1970s.

Techniques including ground penetrating radar were used to reveal evidence for workshops and ship repairs over a much larger area.

A team from the University of Bristol also discovered structures, dating from the winter of 873-874, such as paths and possible temporary buildings.

Excavations showed these to be gravel platforms that may have held temporary timber structures or tents.

There were fragments of Saxon millstones and a cross fragment from the monastery, as well as broken pieces of weaponry including fragments of battle-axes and arrows.

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New Research on Viking Army Camp at Repton

(Courtesy Cat Jarman)

Archaeologists have turned up new evidence about a ninth-century Viking overwintering camp in the Derbyshire village of Repton, according to a report from Yahoo News. The site, which was occupied by a Viking army in the winter of 873-4, was previously excavated starting in the 1970s and was thought to have been limited to a fortified D-shaped enclosure measuring just a few acres. Now, a team from the University of Bristol has found evidence of structures and activities including metalworking and ship repair in the area outside this enclosure. Among the items found there were lead gaming pieces, fragments of battle-axes and arrows, and nails with roves, which are a telltale feature of Viking ship nails. The finds show that the Viking camp was larger and host to a wider range of activities than had been previously known, said Cat Jarman of the University of Bristol. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, when the Vikings arrived in Repton in 873, they drove the Mercian king Burghred overseas. The researchers also confirmed that a mass grave at the site containing at least 264 people dates to the time of the overwintering camp and likely holds Viking war dead. For more on the Vikings in England, go to “Vengeance on the Vikings.”

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Bronze Age Burial Of 'Shaman' Discovered In Slovakia


Archaeologists found an interesting discovery when researching the area of the transport infrastructure for Jaguar Land Rover and accompanying industrial park in Nitra. They found a human skeleton from the Bronze Age that was probably a shaman. He was not buried in a standard grave but placed in hole serving a food storage.

“When the hole was not used anymore, people backfilled it with soil and this person was placed or thrown inside later. We don’t know whether he was thrown in or placed in, because the human was lying on his stomach,” said Klaudia Daňová, a scientific secretary from the Archaeological Institute in Nitra, as cited by the SITA newswire.

“Bronze decorations were placed near his ears. They were connected by little ear bones,” added Daňová for SITA. Archaeologists suggest that those are poultry bone but an analysis will be done to make sure.


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Fairy Tales Are Much Older Than You Think

How does the same story come to be known as “Beauty and the Beast” in the U.S. and “The Fairy Serpent” in China?
As Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm collected Germanic folktales in the 19th century, they realized that many were similar to stories told in distant parts of the world. The brothers Grimm wondered whether plot similarities indicated a shared ancestry thousands of years old.
Folktales are passed down orally, obscuring their age and origin. “There’s no fossil record [of them] before the invention of writing,” says Jamie Tehrani, an anthropologist at Durham University.
To test the Grimms’ theory, Tehrani and literary scholar Sara Graça da Silva traced 76 basic plots back to their oldest linguistic ancestor using an international folktale database. If a similar tale was told in German and Hindi, the researchers concluded its roots lay in the languages’ last common ancestor. “The Smith and the Devil,” a story about a man who trades his soul for blacksmith skills, was first told some 6,000 years ago in Proto-Indo-European. Now we tell a similar tale about the blues guitarist Robert Johnson.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Construction workers find Byzantine sarcophagus lid in northeastern Turkey


province discovered a 1,407-year-old Byzantine sarcophagus cover, assumed to belong to a "blessed" figure, near the ancient city of Satala, reports said Friday.

Workers immediately informed authorities after discovering the 2-meter long ancient cover in Gümüşhane's Kelkit district, Anadolu Agency reported.

Gümüşhane Museum officials said that there was a writing on the cover, saying "Blessed Kandes sleeps here" in Greek characters.

Museum Director Gamze Demir told reporters that the cover is from 610 AD and the sarcophagus is believed to be under the ground.

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Rare Pictish carving of “big nosed warrior” found near Perth

Detail from the stone found near Perth. PIC: Contributed.

A large Pictish stone decorated with what appears to be a big nosed warrior holding a spear and a club has been found by workmen on the outskirts of Perth.

Work on the upgrade to the A85/A9 junction was halted following the discovery with archaeologists called in to examine the stone.

Mark Hall, of Perth Museum & Art Gallery said the stone carried a type of Pictish carving not seen before in the area.

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Byzantine Shipwreck Found Off Coast Of Sicily


The wreck of a Byzantine ship has been found on the sea bed at a depth of 3 metres, buried by about 2 metres of sand, off Ragusa, sources said Friday. 

The wreck is now being examined by the University of Udine's Kaukana Project, which combines research activities with the training of students of underwater archaeology.

The project is directed by Massimo Capulli, professor of underwater and naval archaeology at the Department of Humanities and Cultural Heritage Studies (Dium) at the University of Udine, and by Sebastiano Tusa, of the Soprintendenza del mare della Regione Sicilia, with the support of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology of the Texas A&M University College Station.

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When the Gloves Come Off – Why We Do Not Use Gloves to Handle Artifacts in the Field


Ever since we started publishing pictures of our crew holding artifacts without using gloves, we have taken some heat in the Facebook comment sections. People have been worrying (or even cringing) about bad effects of touching the artifacts with bare hands. Their worry is that this could contaminate the artifacts with body oils or DNA. This blogpost explains why using gloves in the field is not necessary.

Body oils and other residues

When artefacts are handled in museums, you will see the museum staff wearing gloves while holding the objects. This is done to protect the artifacts from getting into contact with body oils and other residues on the person’s hand. It may seem like an obvious conclusion that the artifacts should also be handled wearing gloves in the field. However, this is rarely seen in practice. Why is there a difference in procedures?

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English Heritage joins the digital age with new Google partnership

Free online collection of high-resolution images offers visitors an intimate look at historic buildings, artwork and artefacts

The decorative ceiling in the library of English Heritage’s Kenwood House, one of the sites included in the project. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Viewers will be able to peer into English Heritage palaces, explore castle ruins and admire historic ceilings in detail without leaving the comfort of their own homes through a new partnership between the charity and Google Arts and Culture.

The website will open up 29 English Heritage properties – the first time that Google has worked with an arts institution across so many sites – including stately homes, castles, prehistoric sites and 19th-century industrial buildings.

Launched in 2011, Google Arts and Culture is an online platform that offers visitors free virtual tours of collections from partner galleries and museums, and high-resolution images of artwork and artefacts.

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Living With Gods review – 40,000 years of religious art, and this is it?

 Chosen for content over aesthetic merit … six Zoroastrian tiles, Parsi shrine, 1989-90, India. Photograph: © Trustees of the British Museum

After a few minutes in the exhibition that accompanies Neil MacGregor’s new BBC Radio 4 series on the power of religion, my skin started to sizzle and my blood to boil. I truly felt branded inside, marked out as a reprobate, for the premise of the show is that belief in God(s) is such a universal human trait that if you lack it, you may not be human.

That is signalled by a large wall text at the start, suggesting that the correct name for our species may not be homo sapiens, but “homo religiosus”. As someone who doesn’t believe in God and doesn’t miss her, I felt a bit left out. Is belief really the all-pervasive force this exhibition claims?

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Fossil of 'our earliest ancestors' found in Dorset


The mammals ventured out at night to hunt insects

Fossils of the oldest-known ancestors of most living mammals, including human beings, have been unearthed in southern England.

Teeth belonging to the extinct shrew-like creatures, which scampered at the feet of dinosaurs, were discovered in cliffs on the Dorset coast.

Scientists who identified the specimens say they are the earliest undisputed fossils of mammals belonging to the line that led to humans.

They date back 145 million years.

''Here we have discovered from the Jurassic coast a couple of shrew-like things that are to date unequivocally our earliest ancestors,'' said Dr Steve Sweetman of Portsmouth University, who examined the ancient teeth.

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