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.”
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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.

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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.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

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.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

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. 

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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.
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Monday, February 6, 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]
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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.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Iceman Oetzi's last meal was 'Stone Age bacon'

Oetzi the famous "iceman" mummy of the Alps appears to have enjoyed a fine slice or two of Stone Age bacon before he was killed by an arrow some 5,300 years ago.
His last meal was most likely dried goat meat, according to scientists who recently managed to dissect the contents of Oetzi's stomach.
"We've analysed the meat's nanostructure and it looks like he ate very fatty, dried meat, most likely bacon," German mummy expert Albert Zink said at a talk in Vienna late Wednesday.
More specifically, the tasty snack is thought to have come from a wild goat in South Tyrol, the northern Italian region where Oetzi roamed around and where his remains were found in September 1991.
Read more at:

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Neolithic hoard discovered during St Andrews University energy centre work

Pottery and flint tools buried for 4,000 years were uncovered during excavations for St Andrews University’s new energy centre.
The ancient artefacts were dug up at Kincaple as engineers laid pipework.
Archaeologist Alastair Rees from consultancy firm ARCHAS Ltd said the find, which included flint tools believed to be from Norfolk or Yorkshire, provided more evidence of trade links across the UK.
“These finds provide yet another piece in the jigsaw to help us reconstruct the mundane, as well as the more interesting, aspects of how societies interacted and travelled in ancient Britain,” he said.
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The Caves That Prove Neanderthals Were Cannibals

Deep in the caves of Goyet in Belgium researchers have found the grisly evidence that the Neanderthals did not just feast on horses or reindeer, but also on each other.

Belgian archaeologist Christian Casseyas shows the latest explored area as he gives a tour of the Goyet cave, where 96 bones and three teeth from five Neanderthal individuals were found 

[Credit: Emmanuel Dunand, AFP]

Human bones from a newborn, a child and four adults or teenagers who lived around 40,000 years ago show clear signs of cutting and of fractures to extract the marrow within, they say.

"It is irrefutable, cannibalism was practised here," says Belgian archaeologist Christian Casseyas as he looks inside a cave halfway up a valley in this site in the Ardennes forest.

The bones in Goyet date from when Neanderthals were nearing the end of their time on earth before being replaced by Homo sapiens, with whom they also interbred.

Once regarded as primitive cavemen driven to extinction by smarter modern humans, studies have found that Neanderthals were actually sophisticated beings who took care of the bodies of the deceased and held burial rituals.

But there is a growing body of proof that they also ate their dead.

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Archäologen entdecken weitere Teile eines 5.000 Jahre alten Wagens

Erfolgreicher Abschluss der öffentlich zugänglichen Grabung von Olzreute-Enzisholz (Landkreis Biberach)
Kurz vor Weihnachten 2016 wurden die Arbeiten auf der Ausgrabung in Olzreute-Enzisholz (Landkreis Biberach) beendet. Archäologen des Landesamtes für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart untersuchten dort eine fast 5.000 Jahre alte Siedlung der Jungsteinzeit. In den vergangenen Jahren waren dort schon einige hölzerne Wagenräder zum Vorschein gekommen. Nun fanden die Forscher kurz vor dem Ende der Geländearbeiten einen weiteren Beleg für die steinzeitliche Mobilität: ein Achsenfragment aus Holz.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Europe's Earliest Humans Did Not Use Fire

New research conducted by scientists at the University of York and the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona reveals for the first time that Europe's earliest humans did not use fire for cooking, but had a balanced diet of meat and plants - all eaten raw.

Studying dental plaque from a 1.2 million year old hominin (early human species), recovered by the Atapuerca Research Team in 2007 in Sima del Elefante in northern Spain, archaeologists extracted microfossils to find the earliest direct evidence of food eaten by early humans.

These microfossils included traces of raw animal tissue, uncooked starch granules indicating consumption of grasses, pollen grains from a species of pine, insect fragments and a possible fragment of a toothpick.

All detected fibres were uncharred, and there was also no evidence showing inhalation of microcharcoal - normally a clear indicator of proximity to fire.

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Archäologen entdecken erste befestigte Flachland-Siedlung der Eisenzeit in Westfalen

Werne (lwl). Wo der Versandhandelsriese Amazon aktuell künftige Geschenke für das Weihnachtsfest lagert, deponierten die Menschen schon vor über 2.000 Jahren in Speichern und Gruben Lebensmittel und Ernten. Mit Siedlungsspuren aus dem ersten Jahrhundert vor Christi Geburt rechneten die Archäologen des Landschaftsverbandes Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) durchaus, als die Untersuchungen auf dem Gelände des neuen Logistikzentrums des Versandhändlers in Werne begannen. Dass zusätzlich eine gewaltige Befestigungsanlage bei den Bauarbeiten im neuen Gewerbegebiet Wahrbrink II zum Vorschein kam, war eine Überraschung. Die Archäologen dokumentierten hier die Spuren der ersten Siedlung der Eisenzeit in Westfalen abseits der Gebirgsregionen, die mit einem riesigen Graben gesichert war. 

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