Monday, June 29, 2015

Historian Uses Lasers to Unlock Mysteries of Gothic Cathedrals


Thirteen million people visit the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris every year, entering through massive wooden doors at the base of towers as solidly planted as mountains. They stand in front of walls filigreed with stained glass and gaze at a ceiling supported by delicate ribs of stone.

If its beauty and magnificence is instantly apparent, so much about Notre Dame is not. To begin with, we don't know who built this cathedral—or how.

The bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully, commissioned the massive church complex around 1160. Yet the names of those who first constructed this masterpiece are lost to history. They left no records—only centuries of speculation—behind.

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Lasers reveal mysteries of Notre Dame Cathedral


Notre Dame is one of the most iconic buildings in the world. Built from 1160 to 1345, the massive cathedral is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Paris and is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture that exists today. For all its storied past, however, little information survives about the architects and designers who raised the building. That’s where art historian and laser modeler Andrew Tallon has stepped in, with new methods of gathering data about Notre Dame that shed light on some of its earliest history. 


Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris  [Credit: osc-vector.com] 

The actual laser modeling is done by mounting a laser from a tripod and shooting the gallery, taking time to measure the distance between the scanner and every point it hits. Each one of these points represents a distance — by mapping millions of points from a single location, historians can measure how the building expands and contracts during the day, as well as how it shifts over longer periods of time. By combining the point cloud data generated by the laser scanner with on-site photographs taken at the same time, Tallon has created extremely accurate models of the underlying structure and design of the cathedral, and identified points where the cathedral’s masons either deviated from the original plan or paused work to allow the ground to settle.

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Rare Viking relic discovered at Perthshire dig


ARCHAEOLOGISTS delving into Scottish history believe they have discovered a rare object at a Viking-age longhouse in Perthshire

The small circular stone, with a central hole - thought to be a spindle whorl - was found by Diana McIntyre, who was on a dig with Glenshee Archaelogy Project at Lair in Glenshee.

A spindle whorl, was a weight fitted to a spindle while hand spinning textiles to increase and maintain the speed of the spin.

The stone, which is only around 5cm in diameter, has been carefully shaped to be symmetrical, but what has interested the team are the symbols and designs carved onto one surface.

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Dundee experts recreate face of Saxon man at Lincoln Castle


Facial reconstruction experts at the University of Dundee have recreated the face of a Saxon man whose skeleton was discovered on the site of an old church at Lincoln Castle.
On Monday 8th June, the new-look castle will be officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal. On that day, a new exhibition will be revealed in the Victorian Prison, sharing some of the archaeological finds unearthed during the Lincoln Castle Revealed project.
As part of the exhibition, experts at the University of Dundee have recreated the face of an Anglo Scandinavian man whose skeleton was discovered on the site of an old church within the castle grounds. The skeleton was one of ten sets of remains discovered.
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Polish farmer finds 2,500 year old gold bracelets


Gold items preliminarily dated to 1600-400 BC have been discovered by a farmer near Jasło in the Subcarpathia. The antique objects have been taken to the Sub-Carpathian Museum in Krosno. 


The three gold bracelets dating to between 1600 and 400 BC unearthed by a farmer in southeastern Poland [Credit: PAP © 2015/Darek Delmanowicz] 

During field work near Jasło, a farmer found three gold bracelets tied with golden wire. He then informed the archaeological service. 

Archaeologists now intend to study the place of discovery because the want to determine whether it was a discovery of a treasure, or perhaps the remains of a burial ground, as Jan Gancarski, director of the Sub-Carpathian Museum in Krosno said. 

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Archaeologists find Bronze Age food at prehistoric settlement "comparable to the Mary Rose"

Archaeologists found food from between 800-1000 BC in a set of pots, textiles and other material at a Cambridgeshire settlement destroyed by fire during the Bronze Age
© Cambridge Archaeological Unit

An “extraordinary testimony” to the lives of prosperous people in Bronze Age Britain could lie under the soil of a 1,100-square metre site destroyed in a fire 3,000 years ago, say archaeologists who are about to start digging within a brick pit near Peterborough.

Must Farm – part of the Flag Fen Basin, and the site where nine pristine log boats were famously unearthed in 2011 – was protected by a ring of wooden posts before a dramatic fire at the end of the Bronze Age caused the dwelling to collapse into the river.

Its submergence preserved its contents, creating what experts are describing as a “time capsule” of “exceptional” decorated tiles made from lime tree bark.

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Roman shipwreck found off coast of Sardinia


Italian police released a video on Tuesday (June 23) showing a well-preserved ancient Roman ship that was recently discovered in waters off the coast of Sardinia. 


The well-preserved ancient Roman ship was found in the strait that separates  Sardinia from Corsica [Credit: Polizia di Stato] 

In the video police officers were seen approaching the shipwreck as fish swam in the clear seas surrounding the Italian island. 

Italian police said their historical discovery was made in collaboration with the Archaeological Superintendence, the country's ministerial institute for archaeology.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Magna Carta: explore the document in full


Find out for yourself what Magna Carta says by consulting the original document, with English translation, Latin transcription, and expert commentary from the AHRC’s Magna Carta Project

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Scholars reveal church’s role in Magna Carta


Study of handwriting shows church scribes copied two of the surviving four historical parchments

Magna Carta, signed by King John 800 years ago on Monday, laid the groundwork for the modern state, imposing the first limits on the monarch’s power. Now the true extent of the role the church played in sending its message across Britain has been uncovered by academics studying the four surviving copies of the parchments.
After scrutinising the handwriting, researchers working on the University of East Anglia and King’s College London’s Magna Carta Project are convinced that the Lincoln and Salisbury charters were written by religious scribes working outside the court. This means the famous Runnymede deal was backed by England’s bishops, as much as by the rebel barons whom John was hoping to appease.
Scholars believe the Lincoln charter was written by a scribe working for the Bishop of Lincoln, while the Salisbury charter was done by a scribe working for the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury.
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How did the Turin Shroud get its image?


On Sunday, Pope Francis will "venerate" the famous Shroud of Turin, which is thought by some to be the burial wrapping of Jesus Christ - and by others to be a medieval fake. Whatever it is, it's a mystery how the cloth came to bear the image of a man. Science writer Philip Ball discusses the theories.
In a carefully worded announcement, the Archbishop of Turin says that the Pope "confirms the devotion to the shroud that millions of pilgrims recognise as a sign of the mystery of the passion and death of the Lord".
You'll notice that this says nothing about its authenticity. The Catholic Church takes no official position on that, stating only that it is a matter for scientific investigation. Ever since radiocarbon dating in 1989 proclaimed the 14ft by 4ft piece of linen to be roughly 700 years old, the Church has avoided claiming that it is anything more than an "icon" of Christian devotion.

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1,000-year-old wine pitcher found in Jutland


Ribe’s archaeology never ceases to surprise, and now teams from the University of Aarhus and Sydvestjyske Museum have made yet another unique find during excavations in the city’s oldest burial ground. 


The 1,000-year-old French wine pitcher was found in Ribe during excavations  of the city’s oldest burial ground [Credit: Sydvestjyske Museer] Half a metre underground in a parking lot, wedged between other urns and tombs, they have discovered a perfectly intact French wine pitcher, which is predicted to be around 1,000 years old. 

“It is a unique find,” said Morten Søvsø, the head of archaeology at Sydvestjyske Museum. 

“The pitcher is an example of the finest pottery produced in northern Europe at the time, and it has never been seen before in Denmark. The vessel reveals information about the vast trading network that put Ribe on the map during the Viking era.” 

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British scientists hunt for Viking traces in Norman DNA


British researchers on Monday began collecting the DNA of residents from Normandy in northern France in search of Viking heritage, but the project has raised concerns amongst some local anti-racism activists.
Around a hundred volunteers from the Cotentin Peninsula area are giving DNA samples to academics at the University of Leicester, who are trying to find descendants of the Vikings who invaded what is now Normandy in the 9th century.
The aim is to learn more about "the intensity of the Scandinavian colonisation" in the 9th and 10th centuries in the Cotentin Peninsula, said Richard Jones, a senior history lecturer at the University of Leicester.
That includes trying to find out whether the colonisers kept to themselves or married amongst the locals, he added.
The French volunteers have been chosen because they have surnames that are of Scandinavian origin or that have been present in France since at least the 11th century. They also qualify if all four of their grandparents lived within a 50-kilometre (30-mile) radius of their current home.
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This ancient liquor popular among Vikings may be the answer to antibiotic resistance


Scientists in Sweden are launching their own mead — an alcoholic beverage made from a fermented mix of honey and water — based on old recipes they say could help in the fight against antibiotic resistance.
Together with a brewery, the scientists, who have long studied bees and their honey, have launched their own mead drink: Honey Hunter's Elixir.
Lund University researcher Tobias Olofsson said mead had a long track record in bringing positive effects on health.
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“Globally unparalleled” evidence of prehistoric Welsh feasting practices unearthed by archaeologists


New research led by archaeologists at Cardiff University has showcased "globally unparalleled" evidence of a unique prehistoric pork-focused feasting practice in South Wales
After 10 years of excavation and research, analysis of animal bones deposited in a 'midden' or rubbish heap at a prehistoric feasting site in Llanmaes, Vale of Glamorgan, has revealed the novel custom of mass feasting focused specifically on pigs' right forequarters.
The research - a collaboration between the University's School of History, Archaeology and Religion and National Museum Wales - has provided extraordinary insights into the lives of Wales' prehistoric ancestors.
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400,000-year-old dental tartar provides earliest evidence of manmade pollution


Most dentists recommend a proper teeth cleaning every six months to prevent, among other things, the implacable buildup of calculus or tartar -- hardened dental plaque. Routine calculus buildup can only be removed through the use of ultrasonic tools or dental hand instruments. But what of 400,000-year-old dental tartar?
Tel Aviv University researchers, in collaboration with scholars from Spain, the U.K. and Australia, have uncovered evidence of food and potential respiratory irritants entrapped in the dental calculus of 400,000-year-old teeth at Qesem Cave near Tel Aviv, the site of many major discoveries from the late Lower Paleolithic period. 
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Award-winning Maryport Roman Temples Project begins its final dig at Hadrian's Wall


This will be the final year of a five-year project which has done much to deepen understanding of “one of the most important Roman cult complexes” at Hadrian's Wall

The final opportunity to visit the award-winning annual dig at the Maryport Roman Temples Project and learn about the excavation directly from lectures by the archaeologists involved has begun in Cumbria. 

The eight-week dig aims to explore Roman Maryport’s complex religious landscape and to learn more about the famous altars found at the site, on display in nearby Senhouse Roman Museum.  

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Le prince au torque d’or de Lavau


Exhumée par une équipe d’archéologues de l’Inrap, la tombe princière de Lavau, datée du début du Ve siècle avant notre ère, a révélé un mobilier funéraire exceptionnel : chaudron en bronze méditerranéen à têtes de lionnes et d’Acheloos (dieu-fleuve), oenochoé attique à figures noires, ciste, bassins en bronze etc. Dans le cadre des Journées nationales de l’archéologie (19-21 juin 2015), l’Inrap présente les derniers résultats de cette fouille achevée depuis quelques jours.

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Construction workers dig up medieval ships in Estonia


The capital of Estonia is perhaps not the place where one would expect to find the remains of medieval ships, but that is exactly what happened to a group of construction workers in Tallinn this week. 


The remains of a medieval ship uncovered by construction workers building  a new residential area in Tallinn, Estonia [Credit: Sander Ilvest] While working on the foundations for high-end apartments in a seaside area of the Baltic state's capital, the men noticed something strange in the ground: the remains of at least two ships thought to be from the 14th-17th centuries. 

"We were digging the ground, when we found some massive wooden pieces, and we decided this might be something interesting," said Ain Kivisaar, spokesman for property developer Metro Capital. 

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hunt for Viking DNA among Normandy residents riles anti-racism activists


British scientists searching for evidence of Norse colonisation in the communities of the Cotentin peninsula warn of ‘sensitivities’ over the issue


British researchers on Monday began collecting the DNA of residents from Normandy in northern France in search of Viking heritage, but the project has raised concerns amongst some local anti-racism activists.
Around a hundred volunteers from the Cotentin peninsula area are giving DNA samples to academics at the University of Leicester, who are trying to find descendants of the Vikings who invaded what is now Normandy in the 9th century.
The aim is to learn more about “the intensity of the Scandinavian colonisation” in the 9th and 10th centuries in the Cotentin Peninsula, said Richard Jones, a senior history lecturer at the University of Leicester.
Read the rest of this article...

Scholars reveal church’s role in Magna Carta



Magna Carta, signed by King John 800 years ago on Monday, laid the groundwork for the modern state, imposing the first limits on the monarch’s power. Now the true extent of the role the church played in sending its message across Britain has been uncovered by academics studying the four surviving copies of the parchments.
After scrutinising the handwriting, researchers working on the University of East Anglia and King’s College London’s Magna Carta Project are convinced that the Lincoln and Salisbury charters were written by religious scribes working outside the court. This means the famous Runnymede deal was backed by England’s bishops, as much as by the rebel barons whom John was hoping to appease.
Scholars believe the Lincoln charter was written by a scribe working for the Bishop of Lincoln, while the Salisbury charter was done by a scribe working for the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury.
Read the rest of this article...

EMAS Field Trip to Worth, Arlington, Bishopstone, Sompting and Poling


Field Trip to Worth, Arlington, Bishopstone, Sompting and Poling

Guide: David Beard MA, FSA

11 July 2015

Pick up 8:00 am at London Embankment


A visit to five Anglo-Saxon Churches.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Historian mapping out a new view of the Medieval world

Maps show us the way and identify major landmarks – rivers, towns, roads and hills. For centuries, they also offered a perspective on how societies viewed themselves in comparison to the rest of the world. New research looks at maps from the medieval and early-modern Muslim world.

Classic KMMS world map, “??rat al-Ar?” (Picture of the World), from an abbreviated copy of al-I??akhr?’s Kit?b al-mas?lik wa-al-mam?lik (Book of Routes and Realms). 589/1193. Mediterranean. East is on top.
Credit: Courtesy Leiden University Libraries. Cod. Or. 3101, fols. 4b–5a.

Karen Pinto, assistant professor of history at Boise State University, is researching a book project titled "The Mediterranean in the Islamic Cartographic Imagination," which looks at maps from the medieval and early-modern Muslim world. Her research is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Modern humans migrated out of Africa via Egypt, suggests genetic study


How and when the first modern human populations emerged out of Africa to settle Europe and Asia has been at the center of a long-standing debate among researchers and scholars. The results of a new genetic study, however, suggests that modern humans made their first successful major migration out of Africa around 55,000 – 60,000 years ago through Egypt, and not from further south through Ethiopia, as suggested by another proposed theory.
Dr. Luca Pagani, of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge in the UK, and his colleagues analyzed the genetic information from six modern Northeast African populations (100 Egyptians, and five Ethiopian populations each represented by 25 people).
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New human ancestor species from Ethiopia lived alongside Lucy's species

Holotype upper jaw of a new human ancestor species found on March 4, 2011. 
Credit: Yohannes Haile-Selassie, Cleveland Museum of Natural History

A new relative joins "Lucy" on the human family tree. An international team of scientists, led by Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, has discovered a 3.3 to 3.5 million-year-old new human ancestor species. Upper and lower jaw fossils recovered from the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia have been assigned to the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. This hominin lived alongside the famous "Lucy's" species, Australopithecus afarensis. The species will be described in the May 28, 2015 issue of the international scientific journal Nature.

Lucy's species lived from 2.9 million years ago to 3.8 million years ago, overlapping in time with the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. The new species is the most conclusive evidence for the contemporaneous presence of more than one closely related early human ancestor species prior to 3 million years ago. The species name "deyiremeda" (day-ihreme-dah) means "close relative" in the language spoken by the Afar people.

Australopithecus deyiremeda differs from Lucy's species in terms of the shape and size of its thick-enameled teeth and the robust architecture of its lower jaws. The anterior teeth are also relatively small indicating that it probably had a different diet.

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Mystery Deepens Over Rare Roman Tombstone


Mystery has deepened over a Roman tombstone unearthed earlier this year in western England, as new research revealed it had no link with the skeleton laying beneath it.
The inscribed stone was discovered during the construction work of a parking lot in Cirencester.
Made from Cotswold limestone, it was found laying on its front in a grave — directly above an adult skeleton.
When it was turned over, the honey colored stone revealed fine decorations and five lines of Latin inscription which read: “D.M. BODICACIA CONIUNX VIXIT ANNO S XXVII,” possibly meaning: “To the shades of the underworld, Bodicacia, spouse, lived 27 years.”
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New finds at Plassi, Marathon in Attica


This year’s excavations of the Prehistoric-Classical site of Plassi, Marathon in Attica, conducted by the University of Athens, have been completed last week. The survey of the site began last year. 


Buildings and pottery kiln of the Prehistoric era 
[Credit: National and  Kapodistrian University of Athens] 

The Plassi excavation has once again brought to light important finds showing that the site remained the most important settlement of the Marathon plain from the end of the Neolithic period (ca 3500 BC) until the Late Roman years (300 AD).

During this year’s excavation season the trial trenches of 1969 (made by archaeologists Sp. Marinatos and E. Mastrokosta) were revealed and cleaned and new ones were opened, in order to answer questions which had remained unanswered.

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Brumath-Brocomagus, Civitas Capital of the Triboci



Brumath-Brocomagus, Civitas Capital of the Triboci

Exhibition at Musée Archéologique, Strasburg

until 31 December 2015

Occasioned by urban redevelopment projects involving housing schemes and business parks, the numerous successive archaeological excavations of recent decades in the town of Brumath and its surrounding area have helped to renew and considerably widen our knowledge of the antique city. Today, the wealth of discoveries prompts us to make an initial assessment of the settlement's development and the history of the territory of Brumath from Prehistory to the early Middle Ages. Central to the exhibition will be a review of the expansion of the Gallo-Roman city: urban topography, public and private buildings, aspects of daily life, production and trade, beliefs and religion, graveyards and funeral rites. The visitor will thus be offered an overall vision of the different aspects of Romanization and urban life in Alsace under Roman rule. 

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dark Side of Medieval Convent Life Revealed

The skeleton of a sinner woman buried in face down. Her lower legs had been truncated by a later burial of an infant.

British archaeologists excavating a church site in Oxford have brought to light the darker side of medieval convent life, revealing skeletons of nuns who died in disgrace after being accused of immoral behavior.
Discovered ahead of the construction of a new hotel, the burial ground stretches around what used to be Littlemore Priory, a nunnery founded in 1110 and dissolved in 1525.
Archaeologists led by Paul Murray, of John Moore Heritage Services, found 92 skeletons of women, men and children.
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Secrets of Staffordshire Hoard Revealed


  • Hundreds of fragments grouped together to reveal remains of incredibly rare high status helmet
  • Unique form of sword pommel also uncovered
  • Historic England gives £400,000 towards research but £120,000 still needed

Ground breaking research and conservation of the Staffordshire Hoard has uncovered two internationally important objects that link us to an age of warrior splendour, and further our knowledge of seventh century Anglo-Saxon England.

Historic England, has given £400,000 to help reveal the secrets of the Staffordshire Hoard

and increase public understanding of this unique archaeological treasure. The research will culminate in an online catalogue, launched in 2017. The following year will see a major publication exploring the Hoard in more depth, the objects’ meanings and how they relate to each other. The owners of the Hoard, Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent City Councils, and Birmingham Museums Trust and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery who care for it on their behalf, have also contributed towards the research.

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Staffordshire Hoard sword and helmet reconstructed


Thousands of metal fragments from the Staffordshire Hoard have been reconstructed into two "significant" new 7th Century objects. 


Front view of the sword pommel reconstructed from 26 fragments  found in the Staffordshire Hoard [Credit: Birmingham Museums Trust] 

Researchers have pieced together parts of a silver helmet and a previously unseen form of sword pommel. 

The hoard, which is valued at £3.2m, was found in a field near Burntwood, Staffordshire in July 2009. 

Both items have been put on display at Birmingham's Museum and Art Gallery from Tuesday. 

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Il y a 35 000 ans, les Aurignaciens, premiers hommes modernes à occuper la grotte du Mas d’Azil


Une équipe d’archéologues et de géo-archéologues de l’Inrap et du laboratoire Traces (CNRS – université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès), intervient depuis 2011, sur prescription de l’État (Drac Midi-Pyrénées), dans la grotte-tunnel du Mas d’Azil en Ariège.

Ces recherches préventives et programmées s’intègrent dans un vaste projet de valorisation et de compréhension du site. Les multiples opérations préventives sont liées aux divers aménagements touristiques de la grotte (parcours, bâtiment d’accueil…) et à la mise en sécurité de la route départementale la traversant. Elles se doublent d’un programme complet d’étude archéologique et géologique sur le terrain : une étude méticuleuse centrée sur les occupations préhistoriques durant la dernière grande glaciation (entre -40 000 et -13 000). Mais la grotte joue aussi le rôle d’enregistreur climatique et témoigne des alternances entre des périodes très inhospitalières et des phases plus clémentes, pendant lesquelles les groupes préhistoriques accèdent à l’intérieur de la cavité.

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Evidence of 430,000-year-old human violence found


Human remains from a cave in northern Spain show evidence of a lethal attack 430,000 years ago, a study has shown.
Researchers examined one skull from a site called the Pit of Bones, which contains the remains of at least 28 people.
They concluded that two fractures on that skull were likely to have been caused by "multiple blows" and imply "an intention to kill".

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'New species' of ancient human found

Researchers say the jaw bones and teeth are unlike any they have seen before

A new species of ancient human has been unearthed in the Afar region of Ethiopia, scientists report.
Researchers discovered jaw bones and teeth, which date to between 3.3m and 3.5m years old.
It means this new hominin was alive at the same time as several other early human species, suggesting our family tree is more complicated than was thought.
The new species has been called Australopithecus deyiremeda, which means "close relative" in the language spoken by the Afar people.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Orkney Islanders are 25 percent Norwegian

This is how the populace of the Orkney Islands lived 5,000 years ago. The Stone Age settlement Skara Brae is preserved so well that it is referred to as “Scotland’s Pompeii”. Recently it was discovered that the Orkney Islanders still have a surprising amount of DNA from the people who dwelled there long before the Vikings arrived. (Photo: Georg Mathisen)

They are proud of their Viking ancestors but are not as Norwegian as they might think. The lion’s share of the genes of Orkney Islanders can be traced to the native peoples who lived their several millennia before Norwegians invaded and annexed the islands in the 9th century.
Mapping genes
British and Australian researchers have mapped the genetic structure of today’s Brits. They found that the only place where the Viking inheritance is genetically strong is the Orkney Islands. Orkney were under Norwegian rule for centuries and as a result, 25 percent of Orkney Islanders’ genes can be traced to Norway.
The locals tend to be enthusiastic about their Viking heritage, which has now also been strongly identified in their genes:
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Danish Bronze Age girl may have been German


One of Denmark's proudest relics may not be Danish after all, researchers have found.

In a feat of laboratory sleuthing, scientists on Thursday provided a background to a mysterious Bronze Age teenager who died in modern-day Denmark 3,400 years ago.
 
The "Egtved Girl," uncovered at a village in the Jutland peninsula, was probably born in southwestern Germany and may have been married off to cement ties between powerful families, they said.
 
One of Denmark's proudest relics, the Egtved Girl was found in 1921 at a burial mound, inside an oak coffin that dates her interment to a summer's day in the year 1370 BC.

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Archaeologists put Roman gateway on wishlist after finding ancient water tank at Vindolanda fort


Fine carving for Roman goddess of hunting and first copper lock barrel in 34 years among finds in Roman north-east

Archaeologists are hoping to find a gate and its stone inscription after discovering tank features, buildings, a roadway, animal bones, pens, hairpins and barrels during the first two excavation sessions of the year at Vindolanda, the Roman fort near Hadrian’s Wall.

Facing snow and torrential rain during their early investigations – conditions they admit were “horrendous” – the team uncovered a free-standing water tank and a depiction of a hare and hound carved for Diana, the goddess of hunting.

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Our bond with dogs may go back more than 27,000 years


Dogs' special relationship to humans may go back 27,000 to 40,000 years, according to genomic analysis of an ancient Taimyr wolf bone reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biologyon May 21. Earlier genome-based estimates have suggested that the ancestors of modern-day dogs diverged from wolves no more than 16,000 years ago, after the last Ice Age.
The genome from this ancient specimen, which has been radiocarbon dated to 35,000 years ago, reveals that the Taimyr wolf represents the most recent common ancestor of modern wolves and dogs.
"Dogs may have been domesticated much earlier than is generally believed," says Love Dalén of the Swedish Museum of Natural History. "The only other explanation is that there was a major divergence between two wolf populations at that time, and one of these populations subsequently gave rise to all modern wolves." Dalén considers this second explanation less likely, since it would require that the second wolf population subsequently became extinct in the wild.
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BULGARIAN ARCHAEOLOGISTS REVEAL BEAUTIFUL EARLY CHRISTIAN FLOOR MOSAICS AMIDST UNPLEASANT PRESENT-DAY ‘FINDS’ IN PLOVDIV’S GREAT BASILICA


Unique Early Christian floor mosaics have been re-excavated by Bulgarian archaeologists working on the restoration of the 5th century AD Great Basilica in Plovdiv. Photo: Plovdiv24

Bulgarian archaeologists and restorers have revealed beautiful Early Christian floor mosaics in the 5thcentury AD Great Basilica whose re-excavation, restoration, and conservation started two weeks agoin the southern city of Plovdiv.
The Early Byzantine Great Basilica in Bulgaria’s Plovdiv was discovered in the 1980s but its ruins andunique floor mosaics have been re-buried with soil and sand as a means of preserving them in anticipation of the resolution of legal disputes over the property, and the securing of sufficientfunding for the further excavation and conservation of the site.
The project for the excavation and restoration of the 5th century Great Basilica in the Southern Bulgarian city of Plovdiv is going to focus on the recovery, restoration, and conservation of its Early Christian mosaics.
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Archaeological find at Norton Bridge turns out to be from Saxon period



ARCHAEOLOGISTS have discovered a wooden butter churn lid unearthed at Norton Bridge is from the Saxon period following scientific tests.
Evidence of prehistoric activity was uncovered in the same area of the site and archaeologists believed the butter churn could be from the same period.
But radiocarbon tests have revealed the lid of the butter churn dates from the early medieval period when the area was part of the Mercian kingdom.
The tests have put a fragment of wood found with the lid as dating between AD715-890, so the lid is from the same period as the Staffordshire Hoard.
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Amazing medieval hospital find halts York panto plans


PLANS for Berwick Kaler’s 37th writing and starring role in Christmas pantomime Dick Whittington (and his Meerkat) at York Theatre Royal have had to be abandoned following the important find of a medieval hospital foundations beneath the venue during its £4m redevelopment.
The panto will now be staged at the 1,000-seat purpose-built theatre at York's National Railway Museum.
The tight 27-week schedule always had a back-up plan, and archaeologists and builders are working extended hours to complete necessary work. Over the last few weeks the archaeological finds under the stage and in the auditorium have been staggering and bigger than previously predicted.
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The Viking’s grave and the sunken ship


Mapping archaeological digs takes plenty of time and a lot of measuring, photographing, drawing and note taking. Now, most of this work can be done with a technique called photogrammetry. 


Detailed image of a shield boss found in what is likely a Viking’s  grave in Skaun 
[Credit: NTNU University Museum] 

Photogrammetry is a method that uses two-dimensional images of an archaeological find to construct a 3D model. 

You don't need and special glasses or advanced equipment to use make use of this new technique. Together with precise measurements of the excavation, photogrammetry can create a complete detailed map of an archaeological excavation site. 

"This is still a very new technique," say archaeologists Raymond Sauvage and Fredrik Skoglund of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's University Museum. 

Photogrammetry is in many ways much more precise than older, more time-consuming methods.

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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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