Sunday, February 26, 2017

Danish Vikings could have been economic migrants to Britain


The Viking invasion of Britain in the ninth century may have been the result of economic migration, a study has found.
Jane Kershaw, a postdoctoral fellow at University College London,  believes that they crossed the seas find a better life, the Local reported.
She told the told the Danish magazine Videnskab that their motivation was little different from migrants arriving in the United Kingdom and Denmark today.
"At that time, there may not have been enough resources in the Vikings' homeland, but in eastern England the Vikings found an agriculturally rich area," she said.    "We are currently living in a time of large-scale migration,” she added. 
Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Neanderthal DNA contributes to human gene expression

The last Neanderthal died 40,000 years ago, but much of their genome lives on, in bits and pieces, through modern humans. The impact of Neanderthals' genetic contribution has been uncertain: Do these snippets affect our genome's function, or are they just silent passengers along for the ride? In Cell on February 23, researchers report evidence that Neanderthal DNA sequences still influence how genes are turned on or off in modern humans. Neanderthal genes' effects on gene expression likely contribute to traits such as height and susceptibility to schizophrenia or lupus, the researchers found.

"Even 50,000 years after the last human-Neanderthal mating, we can still see measurable impacts on gene expression," says geneticist and study co-author Joshua Akey of the University of Washington School of Medicine. "And those variations in gene expression contribute to human phenotypic variation and disease susceptibility."

Read the rest of this article...

Medieval graffiti survey underway in Bolton to uncover different marks used to ward of evil spirit


MEDIEVAL markings to ward off evil spirits and bad omens are being uncovered in Bolton’s historic buildings to form part of a national survey.
Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society is co-ordinating the Medieval Graffiti Survey locally to record the variety of marks that can be found on buildings to give an insight into past superstitions and fears — and the society wants to hear from anyone who knows of a building locally with elements that pre-date 1700.
The Bolton survey got under way this week, with members of the society enjoying a tour of Hall i’th’ Wood, including rooms which are normally shut off to the public, where they saw witch markings, including daisy wheels, the VV sign, symbolising Virgin Virgins, and taper burns.
Read the rest of this article...

Mystery over male Black Death victims found buried hand in hand

A skeleton unearthed during the Crossrail excavations at Liverpool Street on display at the Museum of London Docklands. Photograph: AFP/Getty

The skeletons of two men who were buried apparently hand in hand during an outbreak of the Black Death have been excavated from a plague burial ground in London.

The men, believed to have been in their 40s, were buried in the early 15th century in a carefully dug double grave, in identical positions, with heads turned towards the right and the left hand of one man apparently clasping the right hand of the other.

Both are assumed to have died in one of the bubonic plague epidemics that swept the capital in the years after the most famous outbreak in 1348, which is estimated to have killed more than half London’s population.

Read the rest of this article...

Stretch of Roman road unveiled beneath McDonald's restaurant


Customers in search of a little cultural heritage along with their Big Macs and fries can descend underground and view the Roman road, as well as three ancient skeletons that were found buried in the culverts either side of it. CREDIT: MAURO CONSILVIO

Two thousand years after legionaries tramped along its well-worn paving stones, an exceptionally well-preserved stretch of Roman road has been opened to the public – beneath a McDonald’s restaurant.

In what the American burger chain says is its first museum-cum-restaurant anywhere in the world, the 150ft-long stretch of basalt road has been cleared, cleaned and made into a permanent attraction at Frattocchie, south of Rome.

Customers in search of a little cultural heritage along with their Big Macs and fries can descend underground and view the Roman road, as well as three ancient skeletons that were found buried in the culverts either side of it.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Did Stone Age People Build A Large Labyrinth In Denmark?


A series of Stone Age palisade enclosures have been discovered in Denmark in recent years and archaeologists are still wondering what they were used for.


The dark green dotted lines indicate where scientists have dug their trenches and excavated the site. The position of  where the palisade is believed to have been is marked in red. The light green dashed line shows the lack of finds 
Credit: Danish Geodata Agency/Pernille Rohde Sloth]

One of the latest additions is a huge construction, discovered by archaeologists from the Museum Southeast Denmark. The fence dates from the Neolithic period and seems to frame an oval area of nearly 18,000 square meters.

“It was actually somewhat overwhelming to experience that it is possible to reveal the traces of such a huge building from the Neolithic period. There are many suggestions for what they could’ve been used for, but to put it simply, we just don’t know,” says archaeologist Pernille Rohde Sloth who leads the excavation.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, February 20, 2017

Woolly mammoth on verge of resurrection, scientists reveal


Scientist leading ‘de-extinction’ effort says Harvard team could create hybrid mammoth-elephant embryo in two years


Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), a model of an extinct Ice Age mammoth. Photograph: Andrew Nelmerm/Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley

The woolly mammoth vanished from the Earth 4,000 years ago, but now scientists say they are on the brink of resurrecting the ancient beast in a revised form, through an ambitious feat of genetic engineering.

Speaking ahead of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston this week, the scientist leading the “de-extinction” effort said the Harvard team is just two years away from creating a hybrid embryo, in which mammoth traits would be programmed into an Asian elephant.

“Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo,” said Prof George Church. “Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. We’re not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years.”

Read the rest of this article...

Transport back in time to ancient Roman sites with virtual reality


Cutting-edge technology is helping bring ancient Rome back to life.
Visitors at historic sites thousands of years old can now use virtual reality headsets to see what they once looked like. Digital artists used Renaissance-era artists’ depictions to help re-envision the relics. CBS News correspondent Seth Doane went inside the ancient underground ruins in Rome, where tourists can see what’s no longer there.
The cavernous space was once above ground, the grand home of Emperor Nero, and considered one of the most magnificent palaces ever built. Its name, “Domus Aurea,” means “golden house.” It’s hard to believe it was once colorful and flooded with light. But now, modern technology is letting tourists peek into the past.
Read the rest of this article...

Facial reconstruction made of 'brutally-killed' Pictish man


The face of a Pictish man who was "brutally killed" 1,400 years ago has been reconstructed by Dundee University researchers.
Archaeologists found the man's skeleton buried in a recess of a cave in the Black Isle, Ross-shire.
Forensic anthropologist Dame Sue Black and her team at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) have now detailed the man's injuries.
He was found in a cross-legged position with stones holding down his limbs.

Read the rest of this article...

Late Bronze Age Weapons Hoard Dug Up At Scottish Building Site


GUARD Archaeologists have recently recovered a very rare and internationally significant hoard of metalwork that is a major addition to Scottish Late Bronze Age archaeology.


The Bronze Age Hoard as it was first revealed during excavations at Carnoustie 
[Credit: © GUARD Archaeology Ltd]

A bronze spearhead decorated with gold was found alongside a bronze sword, pin and scabbard fittings in a pit close to a Bronze Age settlement excavated by a team of GUARD Archaeologists led by Alan Hunter Blair, on behalf of Angus Council in advance of their development of two football pitches at Carnoustie.

Each individual object in the hoard is significant but the presence of gold ornament on the spearhead makes this an exceptional group. Within Britain and Ireland, only a handful of such spearheads are known - among them a weapon hoard found in 1963 at Pyotdykes Farm to the west of Dundee. These two weapon hoards from Angus - found only a few kilometres apart - hint at the wealth of the local warrior society during the centuries around 1000-800 BC.

Read the rest of this article...

National Trust blamed for visitors urinating on Avebury stones after deciding to close loos at 4pm


The National Trust is being blamed for visitors urinating on Europe's largest stone circle

after deciding to shut its loos early.

Locals in the village of Avebury in Wiltshire say the 5,000-year-old monuments are being damaged by tourists who are getting caught short.

The residents say it's down to the National Trust only opening the doors to the toilets in its museum from 10am to 4pm each day.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Viking VIP: Grave Belonging to 'Warrior of High Status' Uncovered

Archaeologists found several grave goods within the Viking burial, including a sword (top),
the remains of fabric that was wrapped around the blade of the sword (lower right)
and the decoration on the pommel of the sword (bottom left).
Credit: Pieta Greaves/AOC Archaeology
About 1,000 years ago, Vikings dug a grave for a "warrior of high status" and buried him in a boat that was overflowing with grave goods, including a hefty sword and a broad-bladed ax, according to a new study.
The Viking warrior was buried in western Scotland's Swordle Bay, far from his home in Scandinavia. But, the artifacts found in his grave are Scandinavian, Scottish and Irish in origin, the researchers found.
The rare finding provides insights into how the peoples of western Scotland lived and interacted during the 10th century, when this Viking was buried, the researchers said. [Images: Viking Jewelry Revealed in Sparkling Photos]
Read the rest of this article...

Pottery clues to medieval Nottingham's growth industry


Behind the white fencing at the back of Pryzm nightclub, archaeologists are unearthing clues that may help illuminate the story of medieval Nottingham.
And they may one day be able to state that a monument to one of the city's creative industries of the future was built on the foundations Nottingham's creative industry of the past.
Long before pharmaceuticals and cigarettes, bicycles and lace, Nottingham was renowned as a centre for pottery. And not just in England, for the town's distinctive green glazed crockery was exported around Europe.
Items of pottery, glass and roof tiles – and what looks like the remains of a brick kiln - have now been discovered by archaeologists ahead of the redevelopment of the Convent Street site as a digital learning centre the Nottingham Trent University and Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies.
Read the rest of this article...

7,000 Year Old Enigma Displayed At The National Archaeological Museum In Athens


The “7,000-year-old enigma,” as it has been dubbed by the National Archaeological Museum, has been put on display until March 26 after being brought from the museum’s storerooms.

It is the latest item to be presented under the title “The Unseen Museum” — a reference to the roughly 200,000 antiquities from statues to gold jewellery and every-day objects in store and not on daily display.

Carved out of granite, the 36cm “enigma” statuette of the late Neolithic era has a pointed nose and long neck leading to a markedly round belly, flat back and cylindrical stumpy legs.

“It could depict a human-like figure with a bird-like face, or a bird-like entity which has nothing to do with man but with the ideology and symbolism of the Neolithic society,” Katya Manteli, an archaeologist with the museum, told Reuters.


Read the rest of this article...

The archaeological legacy of the Crossrail excavations


The skeletons of plague victims, a Tudor bowling ball and medieval ice skates fashioned from animal bones are among hundreds of artefacts on display at a new exhibition showcasing the most interesting finds made during the Crossrail excavations.
What's been unearthed undoubtedly offers a fascinating insight into London life over the centuries - but what will be the archaeological legacy of what is Europe's largest infrastructure project?
Tens of thousands of artefacts have been dug up during work to create the 42km (26-mile) Elizabeth Line, which runs from the east to the west of the capital.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Revealed: the secrets of rare Viking boat burial uncovered in Swordle Bay on Ardnamurchan peninsula


IT was the first intact Viking ship burial to be unearthed on the UK mainland, with two teeth the only remains of the person who was laid to rest there more than 1,000 years ago.
Now the first report on the rare archaeological find, discovered on the Ardnamurchan peninsula on the west coast of Scotland, has raised the intriguing possibility it may have held the body of a female warrior, rather than a male Viking chieftain as previously assumed.
Researchers believe the person was a warrior of high status, with weapons such as a spear, shield, sword and axe also found buried in the small rowing boat – but there were an assortment of other artefacts including a large iron ladle, a sickle and part of a drinking horn.
An analysis of chemical elements known as isotopes found in the two teeth suggest the Viking may have grown up in a coastal village in Norway.
While there are few clues as to why their elaborate burial site is on the remote Scottish peninsula, one theory is it could have taken place to mark the first settlement of the area by Vikings.
Read the rest of this article...

Neue Erkenntnisse zu den Verwandtschaftverhältnissen auf frühmittelalterlichen Gräberfeldern


In einem gemeinsamen Projekt des Bayerischen Landesamtes für Denkmalpflege und der Staatssammlung für Anthropologie und Paläoanatomie München wurden menschliche Skelette aus frühmittelalterlichen Steinplattengräbern in Bayern erstmals genetisch untersucht. Es konnte gezeigt werden, dass hier überwiegend Verwandte bestattet wurden.

Read the rest of this article...

Stonehenge tunnel plan given backing by English Heritage and National Trust


Plans for a tunnel past Stonehenge would reconnect the "extraordinary"  ancient landscape which is severed by a busy road, heritage groups have said. 

Under proposals announced by Highways England, a large strip of the A303  road will be excavated and placed alongside the Bronze Age ruins. 

Having won the support of English Heritage and the National Trust, the two  bodies that manage the historical site, the new dual carriageway will  replace the existing road infrastructure, in turn minimising the damage caused by nearby congestion and pollution. 

Read the rest of this article...

Stonehenge tunnel: heritage groups warn over ancient barrow


Historic England, English Heritage and the National Trust say western end is too close to important neolithic tombs

Traffic passing Stonehenge on the A303 in Wiltshire. 
Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

The Stonehenge tunnel scheme has suffered a setback after three influential heritage organisations closely involved in the ancient site and the surrounding landscape raised concerns over a crucial aspect of the government’s preferred route.
Historic EnglandEnglish Heritage and the National Trust all said they backed the idea of a tunnel for the busy A303, which would remove the sight and sound of thousands of vehicles thundering close to the stone circle.
However all three are worried that the proposed western portal – the tunnel entrance and exit – is too close to the Normanton Down Barrows, an important collection of tombs considered one of the gems of the wider Stonehenge landscape.
Read the rest of this article...

Face of Orkney's St Magnus reconstructed


Forensic artist Hew Morrison used specialist computer software for his 
reconstruction of St Magnus

A facial reconstruction has been made of Orkney's St Magnus to help mark the 900th anniversary of his death.
Forensic artist Hew Morrison's research included studies of photographs taken in the 1920s of what is said to be the skull of the 12th Century Norse earl.
Before sainthood, Magnus Erlendsson shared the earldom of Orkney with his cousin, Hakon.
Hakon's jealousy of his cousin's popularity on the islands led to Magnus being put to death.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, February 06, 2017

38,000-Year-Old Rock Art Discovered in France

Archaeologists discovered this 38,000-year-old engraved image of an aurochs in a rock shelter in France.
Credit: Ph. Jugie/Musée national de Préhistoire collections

In the summer of 2012, a group of archaeologists turned over a broken block of limestone on the floor of a rock shelter in southwestern France and discovered what could be one of the oldest examples of art in Europe.
Scrawled with the image of an aurochs (an extinct species of cattle) and dozens of small dots, the slab was created by the Aurignacians, the first Homo sapiens to arrive in Europe. Radiocarbon tests showed that the engraving dates back to about 38,000 years ago, according to a Jan. 24 report in the journal Quaternary International.
New York University anthropologist Randall White, a co-author of the study who led recent excavations at the rock shelter, said that the discovery "sheds new light on regional patterning of art and ornamentation across Europe" at a time when humans were just starting to spread across the continent. [Gallery: Photos of Europe's Oldest Rock Art]
Read the rest of this article...

Baltic Hunter Gatherers Adopted Farming Without Influence Of Mass Migration, Ancient DNA Suggests


Ancient DNA analyses show that – unlike elsewhere in Europe – farmers from the Near East did not overtake hunter-gatherer populations in the Baltic. The findings also suggest that the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family originated in the Steppe grasslands of the East.


The shores of Lake Burtnieks in Latvia, near where the human remains were discovered from which  ancient DNA was extracted for this study [Credit: Valters Grivins]

New research indicates that Baltic hunter-gatherers were not swamped by migrations of early agriculturalists from the Middle East, as was the case for the rest of central and western Europe. Instead, these people probably acquired knowledge of farming and ceramics by sharing cultures and ideas -- rather than genes -- with outside communities.

Scientists extracted ancient DNA from a number of archaeological remains discovered in Latvia and the Ukraine, which were between 5,000 and 8,000 years old. These samples spanned the Neolithic period, which was the dawn of agriculture in Europe, when people moved from a mobile hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a settled way of life based on food production.

We know through previous research that large numbers of early farmers from the Levant (the Near East) -- driven by the success of their technological innovations such as crops and pottery -- had expanded to the peripheral parts of Europe by the end of the Neolithic and largely replaced hunter-gatherer populations.


Read the rest of this article...