Thursday, June 29, 2017

First new church found on Holy Island, Northumberland, in over a thousand years

The newly-excavated church on Holy Island (Photo: Handout)

For the first time in more than a thousand years, a service will be held today within the boundaries of a newly-discovered church on Holy Island in Northumberland.

The find in the dig by volunteers has been described by historic buildings expert Peter Ryder as “probably the most significant archaeology find ever on Holy Island.”

The excavations, led by Richard Carlton of The Archaeological Practice and Newcastle University, began around a fortnight ago and will finish at the end of this week.

He said: “It is a very exciting and hugely significant find.”

The community archaeology project is part of the Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership project, which is backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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Analysis of Neanderthal teeth grooves uncovers evidence of prehistoric dentistry

Three views of the four articulated teeth making up KDP 20. a. occlusal view showing lingually placed mesial interproximal wear facet on P4 (arrow) and buccal wear on M3; b. lingual view showing a mesially placed interproximal wear facet on P4 (arrow), chips from lingual faces of all teeth and rotated, partially impacted M3; c. buccal view showing rotated buccal face of M3 (arrow) and hypercementosis on its root.
Credit: David Frayer, University of Kansas

Neanderthals treating toothaches?
A discovery of multiple toothpick grooves on teeth and signs of other manipulations by a Neanderthal of 130,000 years ago are evidence of a kind of prehistoric dentistry, according to a new study led by a University of Kansas researcher.
"As a package, this fits together as a dental problem that the Neanderthal was having and was trying to presumably treat itself, with the toothpick grooves, the breaks and also with the scratches on the premolar," said David Frayer, professor emeritus of Anthropology. "It was an interesting connection or collection of phenomena that fit together in a way that we would expect a modern human to do. Everybody has had dental pain, and they know what it's like to have a problem with an impacted tooth."
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Dead heads: Turkish site reveals more evidence of neolithic 'skull cult'

Fragments of three skulls found at Göbekli Tepe have hallmarks of being carved with flint after being scalped and defleshed first

 A carving found on a pillar at Göbekli Tepe, apparently showing a figurine holding a head. Photograph: German Archaeological Institute (DAI)

Wednesday 28 June 2017 20.06 BST Last modified on Wednesday 28 June 2017 20.12 BST
Fragments of carved bone unearthed at an ancient site on a Turkish hillside are evidence that the people who spent time there belonged to a neolithic “skull cult” – a group that embraces rituals around the heads of the dead.

The remains were uncovered during field work at Göbekli Tepe, an 11,000-year-old site in the south-east of the country, where thousands of pieces of human bone were found, including sections of skulls bearing grooves, holes and the occasional dab of ochre.

Pieces of three adult skulls recovered from the sitehave hallmarks of being carved with flint after being scalped and defleshed first. Evidence that the latter was not always an effortless affair is found in multiple scrape marks where the muscles once attached to the bone.

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Roman oil and wine pottery found at Ipplepen dig site

Archaeologists washing evidence of the iron works and pottery

Archaeologists say pre-Roman Britons who lived in a rural location since the 4th Century BC may have enjoyed Mediterranean oil and wine.

Radiocarbon analysis of a dig site showed there was a settlement at Ipplepen, Devon, for about 1200 years longer than previously thought.

The discovery of Roman pottery suggests there was a community trading widely with the Roman world.

University of Exeter archaeologists are digging at the site this month.

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Podkarpackie / Unique figurine from 7 thousand years ago discovered in arable field

Photo by Piotr Alagierski
While walking in a field in one of the villages of Podkarpacie, an archaeologist from Wielkopolska came across a fragment of a clay figurine from around 7 thousand years ago, depicting a man. This is one of the few finds of this type from this period in Poland - believes the finder.
Archaeologist Piotr Alagierski spent his vacation in the village Kosina in Podkarpacie. On a Sunday walk in a cultivated field, he stumbled upon a 7-centimeter fragment of a man figurine made of fired clay. Most of the clearly shaped head, torso and part of the hand have survived to our times - according to the information provided to PAP by the finder.

"There is no doubt that this is a national-level monument - one of the oldest depictions of a human in our country. Similar finds from that period are very rare" - the archaeologist noted in an interview with PAP.

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7,000 year old human remains discovered in Swiss city

The remains of ancient villages dating back to 5,500BC have been discovered on a construction site in Sion in the Valais.

Burial found at the site [Credit: Valais Archaeological Service]

The find was made by archaeologists during building work on the site of the the Arsenaux cultural centre in the city, Sion authorities said in a statement on Thursday. 

The archaeologists uncovered evidence of human habitation, including graves and the remains of houses, which date back as far as the Neolithic period (5,500-4,800 BC). 

Construction work at the site – intended to be a new centre for the city’s archives – has been suspended until in mid-September so archaeologists can carry out their work. 

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Avebury stone circle contains hidden square, archaeologists find

A model of the inner square at the Avebury Neolithic stone circl.
Photograph: Mark Gillings / University of Leicester

Radar technology detects inner stone structure thought to commemorate Neolithic building dating to 3500BC and a focal point for Neolithic communityA mysterious square formation has been discovered within the Neolithic stone circle monument at Avebury, rewriting the narrative of one of the wonders of the prehistoric world.
Archaeologists believe the hidden stones, discovered using radar technology, were one of the earliest structures at the site and may have commemorated a Neolithic building dating to around 3500 BC.
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Rome Metro Excavations Unearth 3rd Century 'Pompeii-Like Scene'

Digging for Rome's new subway has unearthed the charred ruins of an early 3rd-century building and the 1,800-year-old skeleton of a crouching dog that apparently perished in the same blaze that collapsed the structure.

A significant discovery was made under Rome’s metro system [Credit: Getty]

Archaeologists on Monday said they made the discovery on May 23 while examining a 10-meter (33-foot) -deep hole bored near the ancient Aurelian Walls as part of construction work for the Metro C line.

"A Pompeii-like scene" was how the Culture Ministry described the findings that evoked comparisons to the inhabitants trapped by the 79 A.D. Vesuvius volcanic explosion and preserved for centuries in the ruins of Pompeii.

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À Thonon-les-Bains, en Haute-Savoie, une équipe de l’Inrap étudie, sur une surface de 1 400 m²,  un atelier de potier de la seconde moitié du Ier siècle de notre ère qui s’insère dans un quartier artisanal situé au sud-est de l’agglomération antique de Thonon.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Cyprus reveals rare Roman horse race mosaic in Akaki

Scenes from a chariot race are depicted in a rare Roman mosaic found in rural Cyprus.
Dating from the 4th Century AD, it lies in Akaki, a village not far from Nicosia.
Only nine similar mosaics - showing a hippodrome race - have been found at ancient Roman sites.
The ornate 26-metre-long (85ft) mosaic was probably part of a wealthy man's villa. The excavation is led by archaeologist Fryni Hadjichristofi.

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Ancient skulls shed light on migration in the Roman empire

A student uses a digitizer to record geometric morphometric sites on a skull.
Credit: NC State University

Skeletal evidence shows that, hundreds of years after the Roman Republic conquered most of the Mediterranean world, coastal communities in what is now south and central Italy still bore distinct physical differences to one another -- though the same could not be said of the area around Rome itself.

Using state-of-the-art forensic techniques, anthropologists from North Carolina State University and California State University, Sacramento examined skulls from three imperial Roman cemeteries: 27 skulls from Isola Sacra, on the coast of central Italy; 26 from Velia, on the coast of southern Italy; and 20 from Castel Malnome, on the outskirts of the city of Rome.

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Hill figures: The stories behind the scars on England's skin

Hill figures, emblazoned like scar tissue across England's undulating landscape, hark back to times when gods were honoured and appeased by grand gestures.

Although horses - and some well-endowed giants - are perhaps the most well-known hill figures there are also some more unusual creatures and carvings.

A lion stands proudly in Bedfordshire. A kiwi in Wiltshire is a testament to the homesick New Zealand soldiers once stationed nearby.

Here are the stories behind some of the enormous symbols which have become part of the country's very fabric.

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1,000 year old Viking toilet uncovered in Denmark

Is this Denmark’s oldest toilet? Here you can see the various preserved layers. The lowest dark layer is human waste 
[Credit: Anna S Beck]

In a Viking settlement on Stevns in Denmark, archaeologists have excavated a two metre deep hole. But it is not just any old hole. This hole, it seems, may be the oldest toilet in Denmark.

Radiocarbon dating of the faeces layer dates back to the Viking Age, making it quite possibly the oldest toilet in Denmark.

“It was a totally random find. We were looking for pit houses—semi-subterrenean workshop huts—and it really looked like that from the surface. But we soon realised that it was something totally different,” says PhD student Anna Beck from the Museum Southeast Denmark.

Apart from representing Denmark’s oldest toilet, the discovery goes against archaeologists’ theories surrounding people’s toilet habits through time, says Beck. Not least because it was discovered in an area of Viking countryside and not in a Viking city.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Viking shield, spear points and human bones recovered from Viking boat burial in N. Iceland

THE DYSNES SITE The exploration of the site has barely begun. Photo/Auðunn

Archeologists working at a dig in Eyjafjörður fjord in North Iceland have announced they have discovered a shield, human bones and two spear points from two of the boat burials. Previously they had uncovered the bones of what appears to be a Viking chief who was buried with his sword and dog at the site. The dig has barely started. Four of the graves have yet to be explored at all, and more could still be discovered at the site.

According to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service the artifacts found today came from two separate boat burials. The spear points were recovered from a burial which has been badly eroded by the ocean. The waves have already washed away half of the boat, and any items it might have contained.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Archaeologists unearth prehistoric ritual area around Bryn Celli Ddu

Bryn Celli Ddu, a Neolithic passage tomb on the Isle of Anglesey. 
Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Previously unknown Anglesey landscape possibly includes cairn cemetery in what experts described as ‘really exciting stuff’

Archaeologists have uncovered a prehistoric ritual landscape that possibly includes a cairn cemetery around a 5,000-year-old burial mound aligned with the summer solstice sun on Anglesey.

Though far less famous than Stonehenge, the spectacle of sunlight shining down a long narrow passage to light up the inner chamber of Bryn Celli Ddu on the longest day of the year is unforgettable. Excavation now suggests the site had significance for prehistoric people that lasted for millennia after the earth mound was raised over a stone passage grave.

The monument, whose name translates as the mound in the dark grove, was first excavated in 1865 and heavily reconstructed in the 1920s, but excavations over the last three summers – with members of the public joining archaeologists – are unveiling 5,000 years of human activity in the landscape. 

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Brewing Viking Beer — With Stones

When archaeologist Geir Grønnesby dug test pits at 24 different farms in central Norway, he nearly always found thick layers of fire-cracked stones dating from the Viking Age and earlier. Carbon-14 dating of this evidence tells us that ago, Norwegians brewed beer using stones.

There’s nothing archaeologists like better than piles of centuries-old rubbish. Ancient bones and stones from trash heaps can tell complex stories. And in central Norway, at least, the story seems to be that Vikings and their descendants brewed beer by tossing hot rocks into wooden kettles.

“There are a lot of these stones, and they are found at most of the farmyards on old, named farms,” says Geir Grønnesby, an archaeologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s University Museum.

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Archaeologists in N. Iceland discover Viking age chief buried in ship with his sword and dog

AT THE SITE Archaeologists at work excavating the Dysnes site. Dysnes translates as "Burial-ness". Photo/Auðunn

Yesterday archeologists, who are working at a large burial site in Eyjafjörður fjord in north Iceland, announced that they had discovered the remains of a ship burial dating back to the Viking age. A wealthy chieftain seems to have been buried in one of his boats along with some of his worldly possessions, including a sword and his dog. More unexplored burial sites are believed to be located at the site.

The grave is believed to date back to the 9th or 10th centuries. The sword, which was found close to the surface is in very poor condition. The archeologists expect to remove the sword from the ground today.
A site of regional significance during Viking Age 
The archeological dig takes place north of the town of Akureyri at a site which is believed to have been of enormous local importance during the Viking age. A few hundred meters south of the burial site is Gáseyri, which was the primary trading post in Eyjafjörður fjord during the Viking age.   
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Second Viking Age ship burial found at archaeological site in N. Iceland

Yesterday archaeologists discovered a second boat burial at an archaeological site at Dysnes ness in Eyjafjörður fjord in North Iceland. On Tuesday a burial site where a Viking age chief was buried in his boat, along with his sword and dog had been discovered. Two other graves dating to the Viking Age have been found at the site. Archaeologists working at the site are optimistic to find more, as the dig has only just started.

Undisturbed graves

Neither boat burial has been disturbed by grave robbers, as many Viking age burial sites have been. Most Viking Age burial sites seem to have been opened up relatively early, only decades after the burial, and valuables, especially swords, removed. The reasons for such grave robbing are not known.

Archaeologists working at Dysnes have now found four different Viking age graves at the site. Two were boat burials. An archaeologist working at the dig told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV that they expected to find more. "Everywhere we stick a shovel into the ground we seem to find something". 

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Monday, June 05, 2017

Millions needed to save priceless archaeological remains from coastal erosion

WAVES The advancing seas are eroding beaches along Iceland's coasts and imperiling archeological remains that have not yet been researched. Photo/Vísir.

Archeological remains of great cultural value are in danger of being washed away by coastal erosion on many of Iceland's shores, according to the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. An MP for the Left Green Movement warns of an impending "cultural disaster" due to a lack of financing for their preservation. Documenting and preserving the remains might cost hundreds of millions of ISK, according to an official estimate. 

Only a quarter of known remains has been documented

In a written response to questions from MPs in the Icelandic parliament, the Minister of Education, Science and Culture, said that the ministry was aware of a number of places around the country where valuable remains were in danger of being lost. However, the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland has only documented around a quarter of the remains that are protected by law due to their age.

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