Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Iron Age road link to Iceni tribe

A suspected Iron Age road, made of timber and preserved in peat for 2,000 years, has been uncovered by archaeologists in East Anglia.

The site, excavated in June, may have been part of a route across the River Waveney and surrounding wetland at Geldeston in Norfolk, say experts.

Causeways were first found in the area in 2006, during flood defence work at the nearby Suffolk village of Beccles.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Iron Age people gave interiors of dwellings a decorative streak

Archaeologists in Saxony-Anhalt have discovered a 2,600-year-old wall painted in bright patterns. It reveals that Iron Age houses were not the drab constructions they were once thought to be.

The State Museum for Prehistory in the eastern German city of Halle put part of the prehistoric clay wall on display on Monday. The wall was apparently part of a sprawling, Iron Age human settlement.

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Stone Age toe could redraw human family tree

ON THE western fringes of Siberia, the Stone Age Denisova cave has surrendered precious treasure: a toe bone that could shed light on early humans' promiscuous relations with their hominin cousins.

New Scientist has learned that the bone is now in the care of Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who revealed the first genetic evidence of interbreeding between ancient humans and other hominins (New Scientist, 30 July, p 34).

There are tantalising hints that the find strengthens the case for a third major group of hominins circulating in Eurasia at the same time as early humans and the Neanderthals. It might possibly even prove all three groups were interbreeding (see diagram).

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Snails help date Britain's last three million years

Scientists have built the most comprehensive timeline yet for working out the exact order in which geological and archaeological events happened in Britain over the last three million years. And they've done it using fossilised snails.

The mammoth 11-year project, published online in Nature, is the most comprehensive of its kind and clears up a number of archaeological and geological debates.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Archaeologists uncover 3,000-year-old lion adorning citadel gate complex in Turkey

Archaeologists leading the University of Toronto's Tayinat Archaeological Project in southeastern Turkey have unearthed the remains of a monumental gate complex adorned with stone sculptures, including a magnificently carved lion. The gate complex provided access to the citadel of Kunulua, capital of the Neo-Hittite Kingdom of Patina (ca. 950-725 BCE), and is reminiscent of the citadel gate excavated by British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley in 1911 at the royal Hittite city of Carchemish.

The Tayinat find provides valuable new insight into the innovative character and cultural sophistication of the diminutive Iron Age states that emerged in the eastern Mediterranean following the collapse of the great civilized powers of the Bronze Age at the end of second millennium BCE.

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Ancient DNA reveals secrets of human history

For a field that relies on fossils that have lain undisturbed for tens of thousands of years, ancient human genomics is moving at breakneck speed. Barely a year after the publication of the genomes of Neanderthals1 and of an extinct human population from Siberia2, scientists are racing to apply the work to answer questions about human evolution and history that would have been unfathomable just a few years ago.

The past months have seen a swathe of discoveries, from details about when Neanderthals and humans interbred, to the important disease-fighting genes that humans now have as a result of those trysts.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Thank climate change for the rise of humans

SOME claim climate change will destroy our species; now it seems it also helped forge it. The rapid fluctuations in temperature that characterised the global climate between 2 and 3 million years ago coincided with a golden age in human evolution.

The fossil record shows that eight distinct species emerged from one hominin species, Australopithecus africanus, alive 2.7 million years ago. The first members of our genus appeared between 2.4 and 2.5 million years ago, while Homo erectus, the first hominin to leave Africa, had evolved by 1.8 million years ago.

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Ancient stone chamber unearthed in garden

An ancient underground chamber which could date back 2,000 years has been unearthed near Clonmany in Inishowen.

Discovered by Clonmany man Sean Devlin, the previously unrecorded structure appears to be an underground tunnel or souterrain.

Mr Devlin revealed yesterday that he first discovered the underground chamber several years ago while landscaping his front garden, but didn’t make much of a fuss about his amazing find at the time. The historic significance of the tunnel only became apparent recently after Mr Devlin showed it to amateur archaeologist friends.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Going underground: The massive European network of Stone Age tunnels that weaves from Scotland to Turkey

Stone Age man created a massive network of underground tunnels criss-crossing Europe from Scotland to Turkey, a new book on the ancient superhighways has claimed.

German archaeologist Dr Heinrich Kusch said evidence of the tunnels has been found under hundreds of Neolithic settlements all over the continent.

In his book - Secrets Of The Underground Door To An Ancient World - he claims the fact that so many have survived after 12,000 years shows that the original tunnel network must have been enormous.

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Important finds at Late Bronze Age site

A LARGE building dating as far back as 1200 BC and a female goddess figurine were only some of the fascinating finds following five-week long excavations at the Late Bronze harbour city of Hala Sultan Tekke in Larnaca.

Inside the 30 by 20m building were both living and working spaces containing spindle whorls and loom weights, which indicate the production of textiles, as well as a plethora of high-quality pottery imported mainly from the Mycenaean world. Jugs, bowls and jars were among the pottery uncovered.

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Ancient Graves Reveal When Elderly Gained Power

It's not easy to study the elderly in a society where life was all too often cut short by disease, childbirth and injuries. But new research on people living in the Bronze Age suggests the elderly began to gain power over a 600-year period in Austria.

The findings rely on skeletal aging and a comparison of objects placed in graves of individuals of different ages. As time passed in the small farming hamlets of lower Austria, researchers reported online July 15 in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology, older men began to be buried with copper axes, a privilege not granted to younger men. That might indicate that in some ancient societies, the elders were in charge, said study researcher Jo Appleby, a research fellow in archaeology and anthropology at the University of Cambridge

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