Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Prehistoric Find Bolsters Armenian Pride

Proof of human ingenuity five millennia ago fits Armenians’ sense of themselves as ancient nation.

The discovery of a shoe dating back over 5,000 years has boosted Armenians’ pride in their ancient heritage, as well as pleasure at being in the headlines for a positive reason. More practically, the find could encourage greater foreign interest in Armenia and its archaeological heritage.

The moccasin, made from a single piece of cowhide, was found in a cave in the tiny village of Areni in the Vayots Dzor region in 2008. It shot to fame only recently, when recent carbon dating shows that it could be 5,600 years old. That makes it the world’s oldest item of all-leather footwear, although sandals found in Missouri date back still further.

Read the rest of this article...

Orkney Venus dig reaches exciting phase, says expert

Orkney Venus dig reaches exciting phase, says expert

An ARCHAEOLOGICAL dig where the Orkney Venus was found last year has entered an "exciting phase" as excavations resumed.

Archaeologists hope the Links of Noltland dig will reveal more about people who lived on the Orkney island of Westray thousands of years ago.

The sand dunes protecting the area have been reduced by winds over the past few decades.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Work starts on prehistoric Marden Henge in Wiltshire

Work on one of Britain's least understood ancient sites is to start.

Marden Henge has been almost destroyed by ploughing and no longer has any standing stones, but encloses an area of 15 hectares (37 acres).

A mound at the centre of the Wiltshire site still exists, which English Heritage archaeologists plan to spend six weeks delving into.

Read the rest of this article...

New excavation begins at Marden Henge

An excavation that hopes to reveal the secrets of the largest prehistoric henge enclosure in the country has begun at Marden, near Devizes.

Marden Henge, thought to date back to between 2400BC and 2000BC, is the largest but least understood ancient monument in Britain.

It measures 10.5 hectares, considerably bigger than Avebury, and was last investigated in 1969 when Professor Geoffrey Wainwright dated the henge from fragments of deer antler found in the area.

Read the rest of this article...

Digging resumes at Neolithic site

An archaeological dig where the Orkney Venus was found last year has entered an "exciting phase" as excavations resumed.

Archaeologists hope the Links of Noltland dig will reveal further finds to help discover more about people who lived on the Orkney island of Westray thousands of years ago.

Read the rest of this article...

Russians restore face to 30,000+ year-old Kostenki cave man

According to a Jan. 1, 2010 BBC news article, by BBC News science reporter, Paul Rincon, "DNA analyzed from early European," scientists have studied and extracted DNA from the remains of a 30,000 year old European cave man who hunted wild mammoths in the region of Kostenki, Russia about five to ten thousand years before the last ice age began, at a time when Russia was warmer than it is today. Also, in another study, scientists found that about 4 percent (from 2% to 5%) of Europeans, East Asians, Papua-New Guineans, but not any Africans, have inherited Neanderthal genes, at least traces of them. The prehistoric man is known as the Markina Gora skeleton.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Anglers catch ancient canoe in the Boyne

HISTORIANS are probing links between an ancient dugout canoe discovered on the banks of the Boyne and the landmark Newgrange site.

The canoe, which has an unusual design and is believed to be unique in Ireland, was yesterday removed from the river by experts from the National Museum.

It was discovered two weeks ago by two local fishermen, Ivan Murphy and Kevin Tuite, who immediately contacted the authorities.

Read the rest of this article...

4,000-year-old necklace found in dumpster

A 4,000 year old necklace is in The National Museum of Ireland after it was found in a dumpster.

Worn by early kings the necklace, called a lunala, and discs were worn by the early kings of Ireland. It is thought to day from between 2,300 and 1,800 BC.

In March 1945 it was found in Coggalbeg, County Roscommon by farmer Hubert Lannon. He found it in a bog while he was cutting turf and kept it in his home.

Read the rest of this article...

Council worker stumbles across 3,000-year-old carving

PREHISTORIC art 3,000 years old was discovered by chance in woodland by a council worker while carrying out routine maintenance work.

John Gilpin, a woodlands officer in the Parks and Countryside department, stumbled upon the find in Ecclesall Woods.

He discovered a boulder with a series of markings, lines and cuts - which, after being examined by experts, has been declared a significant archaeological find.

Read the rest of this article...

Serbian site may have hosted first copper makers

An archaeological site in southeastern Europe has shown its metal. This ancient settlement contains the oldest securely dated evidence of copper making, from 7,000 years ago, and suggests that copper smelting may been invented in separate parts of Asia and Europe at that time rather than spreading from a single source.

The find extends the known record of copper smelting by about 500 years, an archaeological team headed by Miljana Radivojević and Thilo Rehren of University College London reports in an upcoming Journal of Archaeological Science. The pair were joined by Serbian researchers, led by Dušan Šljivar of the National Museum Belgrade, and German scientists directed by Ernst Pernicka of the University of Tübingen.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Archaeologists make 'spectacular' discovery at Delancey

A Neolithic burial site in the parish of St Sampson has yielded pottery fragments and flints that date back 4,500 years.

They were discovered in a gallery grave, which lies within Delancey Park.

Evidence has also been found of related structures that were previously unknown to archaeologists.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Agers, neo-pagans see Stonehenge solstice

SALISBURY, England – Thousands of New Agers and neo-pagans danced and whooped in delight Monday as a bright early morning sun rose above the ancient stone circle Stonehenge, marking the summer solstice.

About 20,000 people crowded the prehistoric site on Salisbury Plain, southern England, to see the sunrise at 4:52 A.M. (1152EST), following an annual all-night party.

The event typically draws thousands of alternative-minded revelers to the monument, as they wait for dawn at the Heel Stone, a pockmarked pillar just outside the circle proper, which aligns with the rising sun.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Government Cuts Budget for Stonehenge

What are your views on the British government’s plans to cut the budget for a new visitor’s centre at Stonehenge?

Express your views on the discussions page on the Archaeology in Europe Facebook site.

Bones from a Cheddar Gorge cave show that cannibalism helped Britain's earliest settlers survive the ice age

New carbon dating techniques reveal that 14,700 years ago humans living in Gough's Cave in the Mendips acquired a taste for the flesh of their relatives, and not just for ritual reasons

Scientists have identified the first humans to recolonise Britain after the last ice age. The country was taken over in a couple of years by individuals who practised cannibalism, they say - a discovery that revolutionises our understanding of the peopling of Britain and the manner in which men and women reached these shores.

Research has shown that tribes of hunter-gatherers moved into Britain from Spain and France with extraordinary rapidity when global warming brought an end to the ice age 14,700 years ago and settled in a cavern – known as Gough's Cave – in the Cheddar Gorge in what is now Somerset.

Read the rest of this article...

Excavation at Iron Age hill fort near Melton Mowbray

One of Leicestershire's most important archaeological monuments is being excavated for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Trenches are being dug up in the Iron Age hill fort at Burrough on the Hill near Melton Mowbray in the hope of finding clues about life from 600BC.

The site is being opened to the public on Sunday.

Site directors said hill forts were enigmatic monuments which had rarely been scientifically excavated.

Read the rest of this article...

Ancient Humans May Have Dined on Hyenas

It's already been shown that hyenas ate humans, but did early humans likewise dine on hyenas? They might have, say Spanish researchers who found evidence of human "processing" of hyena bones in an ancient hyena den.

"Although the interaction between hyenas and hominids is a constant throughout human evolution, consumption of these animals by our ancestors has never before been documented," said researcher Antonio Rodríguez-Hidalgo of the Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain. His paper announcing the discovery appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Taphonomy.

Read the rest of this article...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Coalition's cuts are final betrayal of Stonehenge

Cancelling what was already an inadequate plan for the site's rehabilitation just adds insult to injury to this wonder of the world

In a world of specialisms you can fool all of the people some of the time because every case has its own detailed context. We know we don't know all the pros and cons. But the sad story of Stonehenge is one I have followed for the last few years, so this week's ugly betrayal of our greatest national monument is something I know is wrong. The coalition's first cultural cuts include the cancellation of plans for a £25m visitor centre at Stonehenge: a callous and unjustified assault on a wonder of the world.

These cuts are presented as the hacking away of Labour excess, the pragmatic cure for the last lot's fiscal foolery. However, there was nothing excessive, careless or even generous about this plan for Stonehenge. It was in fact a parsimonious, limited, and barely adequate solution to what has long been recognised as the disgracefully shabby presentation of this world-famous site.

Read the rest of this article...

Mystery near Marden of henge

A site at Marden, near Devizes, rivalled Stonehenge and Avebury in its day, says English Heritage.

The group is about to undertake a six-week dig at the site close to the village, starting on June 28.

Unlike Stonehenge and Avebury, Marden Henge no longer has any surviving standing stones, but its sheer size is astounding.

Read the rest of this article...

Archaeologists Discover Early Neolithic Grave in North-Western Bulgaria

A grave of a man filled with burial gifts, dating from the early Neolithic period, was recently discovered by archaeologists Georgi Ganetsovski from the Vratsa History Museum, during the renewed excavations of the prehistoric settlement in the Valoga area near the north-western Bulgarian village of Ohoden.

The prehistoric man’s skeleton is amazingly well preserved, although it has been underground for almost 8,000 years, Ganetsovski explained, cited by national media. The archaeologist said that the man’s body was laid on its back and his legs were bent to the left, in a pit that was especially dug out for it. Next to the man’s head was found a fully preserved ceramic, spherical vessel, and next to his right shoulder – a flint knife. The traces of the burial ceremony, according to Ganetsovski, can be easily seen.

Read the rest of this article...

£25m Stonehenge visitor centre axed

Government funding for a £25 million project to build a new visitor centre at Stonehenge has been axed as part of a review of public spending projects.

The withdrawal of public funding for the plans – which include a new visitor centre and closing an adjacent main road – is the latest setback to efforts to improve the World Heritage Site. But the Treasury said that if non-government funding was identified, the scheme to revitalise the prehistoric site could still go-ahead.

Read the rest of this article...

Neolithic finds unearthed by Ormesby St Michael dig

Some of the earliest pottery ever found in Britain has been unearthed on farmland on the Norfolk Broads.

The Neolithic flints and pottery shards dating back more than 5,000 years were found by the Oxford East Archaeology unit next to Ormesby Broad.

They include a loom weight for weaving cloth and a rare whetstone, used for sharpening tools, something normally only found in burial grounds.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Archaeology: Central Europe’s Oldest Cave Drawings Found in Romania

A group of Romanian speleologists recently discovered in a cave in north-western Romania a series of drawings from the Palaeolithic Period, thought to be the oldest of their kind in Central Europe.

The cave drawings were found in the Coliboaia cave in the Bihorului Mountains, on the territory of the Apuseni National Park, the Mediafax news agency reported recently.

According to the speleology experts, the newly discovered drawings portray a variety of animals, including a bison, a horse, a bear’s head, two rhinoceroses and members of the cat family. An image of a female torso was also found, which is throught to have a symbolic role.

Read the rest of this article...

The Evolutionary Road

The Middle Awash area of Ethiopia is the most persistently occupied place on Earth. Members of our lineage have lived, died, and been buried there for almost six million years. Now their bones are eroding out of the ground. Step by step they record how a primitive, small-brained primate evolved to conquer a planet. Where better to learn how we became human?

In the Afar desert of Ethiopia, there are a lot of ways to die. There is disease, of course. One can also perish from wild animal attack, snakebite, falling off a cliff, or in a shoot-out between one of the Afar clans and the Issa people across the Awash River to the east.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ancient cave paintings found in Romania

Romanian experts have discovered the most ancient cave paintings found to date in Central Europe, aged up to 35,000 years old, Romanian and French scientists said Sunday.

The pictures show animals including a buffalo, a horse and even a rhinoceros.

"It is for the first time in Central Europe that... art this old has been found and confirmed", said a joint statement from the Romanian Federation of Speleology -- the scientific study of caves -- and Jean Clottes, an expert working with UNESCO.

Read the rest of this article...

The Thunderstone Mystery: What's a Stone Age Axe Doing in an Iron Age Tomb?

"If one finds something once, it's accidental. If it is found twice, it's puzzling. If found thrice, there is a pattern," the archaeologists Olle Hemdorff and Eva Thäte say.

In 2005 the archaeologists investigated a grave at Avaldsnes in Karmøy in southwestern Norway, supposed to be from the late Iron Age, i.e. from 600 to 1000 AD. Avaldsnes is rich in archeological finds. They dot an area that has been a seat of power all the way back to around 300. Archaeologist Olle Hemdorff at the University of Stavanger's Museum of Archaeology was responsible for a series of excavations at Avaldsnes in 1993-94 and 2005-06.

Read the rest of this article...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Crocodile and Hippopotamus Served as 'Brain Food' for Early Human Ancestors

Your mother was right: Fish really is "brain food." And it seems that even pre-humans living as far back as 2 million years ago somehow knew it.

A team of researchers that included Johns Hopkins University geologist Naomi Levin has found that early hominids living in what is now northern Kenya ate a wider variety of foods than previously thought, including fish and aquatic animals such as turtles and crocodiles. Rich in protein and nutrients, these foods may have played a key role in the development of a larger, more human-like brain in our early forebears, which some anthropologists believe happened around 2 million years ago, according to the researchers' study.

Read the rest of this article...

Creswell Crags exhibition explores 200 years of archaeological excavation

Exhibition: Great Excavations at Creswell Crags, June 12 until winter 2010

Creswell Crags, the limestone gorge on the border between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, has for years offered up its secrets to archaeologists in search of evidence of the Ice Age inhabitants of its mysterious caves.

Perhaps most famous among these is Church Hole, which in 2003 yielded the only known Ice Age art in Britain. Further archaeological finds across the site date back between 10,000 and 50,000 years and include flint and bone tools and carvings, proving that Ice Age hunters visited the site to hunt reindeer and horse.

Read the rest of this article...

'Oldest leather shoe' discovered

The oldest example of a leather shoe has been discovered by archaeologists in a cave in Armenia.

At 5,500 years old, the well preserved cow-hide shoe pre-dates Stonehenge by 400 years and the Pyramids of Giza by 1,000 years.

It was made of a single piece of leather and was shaped to fit the wearer's foot, the researchers say.

They have published details of the discovery from south-east Armenia in the journal Plos One.

Read the rest of this article...

Der älteste Lederschuh kommt aus Armenien

Archäologen haben in einer armenischen Höhle einen äußerst gut erhaltenen Lederschuh ausgegraben. Naturwissenschaftlichen Datierungen zufolge ist der Schuh 5.500 Jahre alt und stammt aus dem Chalkolithikum, also der Periode zwischen Jungsteinzeit und Bronzezeit.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Researchers: Cavemen feasted on lions

Waiting in line at the drive-through may be a drag, but it sure beats what our ancestors had to do for fast food. Try take-out lion. A Spanish team reports Neanderthals likely hunted and ate a big cat at a cave site.

In the current Journal of Archaeological Science, a team led by Ruth Blasco of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain, describes lion bones found at the Gran Dolina site in Sierra de Atapuerca. The cave contains hundreds of animal bones, largely red deer and horses, but also a few carnivores in rock layers dating to 250,000 to 350,000 years ago.

Read the rest of this article...

Who killed the iceman?

It sounds like the opening to a television forensics drama. On a sunny September day in 1991, a German couple hiking through the Alps make a gruesome discovery.

Initially, the corpse partially jutting out of the melting ice is thought to be from a recent mountaineering accident. But on closer inspection, a far more stunning revelation emerges. The body is that of a murder victim; a murder that transpired five millennia ago.

Dated to around 5,300 years old, the remarkably well-preserved Neolithic Iceman came to be known as Ötzi, after the Ötztal region of the Austrian-Italian border where he was found.

Read the rest of this article...

Spain to reopen Caves of Altamira despite warnings

A cave complex boasting prized prehistoric paintings will reopen after eight years of closure, despite scientists' warnings that heat and moisture from human visitors damage the site known as the Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic Art.

The Culture Ministry and the site's board of directors said Tuesday that visits to the Caves of Altamira in the northern Cantabria region will resume next year, although on a still-unspecified, restricted basis.

The main chamber at Altamira features 21 bison painted in red and black, which appear to be to charging against a low, limestone ceiling. The site was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1985. The paintings are estimated to be 14,000 to 20,000 years old.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Neanderthal man was living in Britain 40,000 years earlier than thought

Neanderthal man was living in Britain at the start of the last ice age - 40,000 years earlier than previously thought, archaeologists have said.

Francis Wenban-Smith from the University of Southampton discovered two ancient flint hand tools used to cut meat at the M25/A2 road junction at Dartford, Kent, during an excavation funded by the Highways Agency.

Tests on sediment burying the flints showed they date from around 100,000 years ago - proving Neanderthals were living in Britain at this time.

Read the rest of this article...