Sunday, October 20, 2013

The stomach-turning truth about what the Neanderthals ate?

New thinking suggests that Neanderthals may have eaten the contents of animals' stomachs – 'a consistency and a flavour that is not unlike cream cheese'. Photograph: Corbis

The idea of these early humans being plant-eating, self-medicating sophisticates has been brought into question by the findings of researchers at London's Natural History Museum.

It was the tell-tale tartar on the teeth that told the truth. Or at least, that is what it appeared to do. Researchers – after studying calcified plaque on Neanderthal fossil teeth found in El Sidrón cave in Spain – last year concluded that members of this extinct human species cooked vegetables and consumed bitter-tasting medicinal plants such as chamomile and yarrow.
These were not brainless carnivores, in other words. These were smart and sensitive people capable of providing themselves with balanced diets and of treating themselves with health-restoring herbs, concluded the researchers, led by Karen Hardy at the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies in Barcelona. Our vision of these long-extinct people needs adjusting, they argued.
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Jersey's place in Neanderthal history revealed in study

A large portion of the site contains sediments dating to the last Ice Age

A study on a Jersey site that revealed a significant piece of late Neanderthal history has been published.
Scientists working on an archaeological dig in St Brelade said teeth found at La Cotte suggest Jersey was one of the last places Neanderthals lived.
The team of British archaeologists have unearthed items which show the presence of Stone Age hunters at the headland.
They said the finds were helping scientists understand more about the early relatives of modern humans.
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Neanderthals used toothpicks to alleviate gum disease

Removing food scraps trapped between the teeth one of the most common functions of using toothpicks, thus contributing to our oral hygiene. This habit is documented in the genus Homo, as early as Homo habilis, a species that lived between 1.9 and 1.6 million years ago.

Neanderthals used toothpicks to alleviate gum disease
In the left image, the arrow shows the interproximal groove of the upper Pm3. The right image is a groove detail view as seen with an Environmental Chamber Electron Microscope [Credit: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona]
New research based on the Cova Foradà Neanderthal fossil shows that this hominid also used toothpicks to mitigate pain caused by oral diseases such as inflammation of the gums (periodontal disease). It is the oldest documented case of palliative treatment of dental disease done with this tool.

This research is based on toothpicking marks on the Neanderthal teeth related to periodontal disease. The chronology of the fossil is not clear, but the fossil remains were associated with a Neanderthal Mousterian lithic industry (about 150,000 to 50,000 years).

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Friday, October 18, 2013

5200 BC House Discovered in Romania

Recently , we shared with you some recent discoveries in Romania, from various periods. Apparently there is room for more, as the biggest house from the pre-Cucuteni period, 5200-5100 BC was just found in Baia, Suceava. Experts from the Cambridge University support this research, seeking to identify how the grain trade between China and Europe was made at that time.

The discovery is extremely important, as it confirms the existence of the pre-Cucuteni first phase. A similar archaeological discovery, from the same period, was made in 1951.

Emil Ursu, Bucovina’s Museum Director, said that the site will be dated using Carbon 14 into a laboratory in Germany.

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Skull Find Could Change Picture of Early Human Evolutionary History

We may have to change some thinking about early human evolution in a major way, suggests researchers, after studying new fossil finds at the site of Dmanisi in the Republic of Georgia. What has previously been thought to be separate ancient human species - Homo erectus,Homo habilisHomo rudolfensis, and Homo ergaster, for example, may actually be variations of one and the same species. This is the conclusion of a recent examination of fossil finds uncovered at this, the world's earliest known hominid site outside of Africa.

The new report describes the analysis of a complete, approximately 1.8-million-year-old cranium that was discovered in 2005 by scientists who, 5 years earlier, uncovered its corresponding mandible (jaw) at the same location. Combined, these fossils now constitute the most complete adult ancient human ancestor skull known to be identified with the Early Pleistocene genus of Homo (the genus of great apes that includes modern humans and species closely related to them). The Early Pleistocene time period ranged between 2.588 ± 0.005 Ma (million years ago) and 0.781 ± 0.005 Ma.
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1.8M-year-old skull gives glimpse of our evolution, suggests early man was single species

In this photo taken Oct. 2, 2013, in Tbilisi, Georgia, David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgia National Museum, holds a pre-human skull found in 2005 in the ground at the medieval village Dmanisi, Georgia.

The discovery of a 1.8-million-year-old skull of a human ancestor buried under a medieval Georgian village provides a vivid picture of early evolution and indicates our family tree may have fewer branches than some believe, scientists say.
The fossil is the most complete pre-human  uncovered. With other partial remains previously found at the rural site, it gives researchers the earliest evidence of human ancestors moving out of Africa and spreading north to the rest of the world, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.
The skull and other remains offer a glimpse of a population of pre-humans of various sizes living at the same time—something that scientists had not seen before for such an ancient era. This diversity bolsters one of two competing theories about the way our early ancestors evolved, spreading out more like a tree than a bush.
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Archaeologists rediscover the lost home of the last Neanderthals

A record of Neanderthal archaeology, thought to be long lost, has been re-discovered by NERC-funded scientists working in the Channel island of Jersey.
The study, published today in the Journal of Quaternary Science, reveals that a key archaeological site has preserved geological deposits which were thought to have been lost through excavation 100 years ago.
The discovery was made when the team undertook fieldwork to stabilise and investigate a portion of the La Cotte de St Brelade cave, on Jersey's south eastern coastline.
A large portion of the site contains sediments dating to the last Ice Age, preserving 250,000 years of climate change and archaeological evidence.
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Blow to multiple human species idea

The 1.8 million-year-old skull is the most complete hominid skull ever found

The idea that there were several different human species walking the Earth two million years ago has been dealt a blow.
Instead, scientists say early human fossils found in Africa and Eurasia may have been part of the same species.
Writing in the journal Science, the team says that Homo habilisHomo rudolfensis and Homo erectus are all part of a single evolving lineage that led to modern humans.
But others in the field reject this.
A team looked at the most complete hominid skull ever found, which was uncovered in Dmanisi, Georgia.
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Frogs' legs may have been English delicacy 8,000 years before France

Blick Mead, near Stonehenge, where a charred toad's leg was found. Photograph: University of Buckingham/PA

If you're French, asseyez-vous, s'il vous plait. Archaeologists digging about a mile away from Stonehenge have made a discovery that appears to overturn centuries of received wisdom: frogs' legs were an English delicacy around eight millennia before becoming a French one.
The shock revelation was made public on Tuesday by a team which has been digging at a site known as Blick Mead, near Amesbury in Wiltshire. Team leader David Jacques said: "We were completely taken aback."
In April they discovered charred bones of a small animal, and, following assessment by the Natural History Museum, it has been confirmed that there is evidence the toad bones were cooked and eaten. "They would have definitely eaten the leg because it would have been quite big and juicy," said Jacques.
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bronze Age Europe – the first Industrial revolution

s part of a larger pan-European study investigating the Bronze Age of Europe, an archaeologist from the University of Gothenburg has provided the first evidence of long distance travel by an individual – probably from southern Sweden – into the territory of the Únětice culture of Silesia.

The doctoral thesis confirms evidence based on bioarchaeological data.

A traveller from Sweden

‘Over 3800 years ago, a young male, possibly born in Skåne, made a journey of over 900 kilometres south, to Wroclaw in Poland”. concludes Dalia Pokutta, author of the thesis. He met his end violently in Wroclaw, killed in the territory of the Úněticean farmers. His remains were discovered in association with two local females, who had been killed at the same time.

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Amesbury dig 'could explain' Stonehenge history

A group of archaeologists is undertaking a major dig in Wiltshire, which it is hoped could explain why Stonehenge was built where it was. 

The team, which consists of leading experts in the Mesolithic period, also hopes to confirm Amesbury as the oldest continuous settlement in the UK. 

The site already boasts the biggest collection of flints and cooked animal bones in north-western Europe.

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Iron Age camp unearthed at UK quarry

Archaeologists have unearthed an Iron Age enclosure while excavating land at the edge of a working quarry.

Iron Age camp unearthed at UK quarry
Archaeologists are excavating land close to Potgate Quarry [Credit: Steve Timms/BBC]
It is thought the encampment discovered at Potgate Quarry, near Ripon, was home to several families from as early as 130BC before being abandoned.

Dig leader Steve Timms said the site was later brought back into use in the early Roman period as a paddock.

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Forscher enträtseln die Bevölkerungsentwicklung Europas in der Jungsteinzeit

Die bisher umfangreichste und detaillierteste genetische Studie zur Besiedlungsgeschichte Europas während des Neolithikums ergab deutliche Hinweise auf vier wesentliche Migrationsereignisse in der Zeit zwischen dem 6. und 2. Jahrtausend v. Chr. Für die heute in Science veröffentlichte Studie untersuchten Anthropologen aus Mainz und Adelaide in Kooperation mit Archäologen aus Halle (Saale) hunderte DNA-Proben von jungsteinzeitlichen Skelettfunden aus dem Mittelelbe-Saale-Gebiet.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

European origins laid bare by DNA

DNA from ancient skeletons has revealed how a complex patchwork of prehistoric migrations fashioned the modern European gene pool.

The study appears to refute the picture of Europeans as a simple mixture of indigenous hunters and Near Eastern farmers who arrived 7,000 years ago.

The findings by an international team have beenpublished in Science journal.

DNA was analysed from 364 skeletons unearthed in Germany - an important crossroads for prehistoric cultures.

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Link to Oetzi the Iceman found in living Austrians

Austrian scientists have found that 19 Tyrolean men alive today are related to Oetzi the Iceman, whose 5,300-year-old frozen body was found in the Alps.

Their relationship was established through DNA analysis by scientists from the Institute of Legal Medicine at Innsbruck Medical University.

The men have not been told about their connection to Oetzi. The DNA tests were taken from blood donors in Tyrol.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Shock Bronze Age find 'changes history'

Archaeologists in northern Sweden have located the remains of a farm from the Bronze Age, a find which challenges the established history of the area around Umeå and the province of Norrland.
"It is completely unique," Jan Heinerud at Västerbotten's Museum in Umeå told The Local on Friday. "We have never previously found a long house like this so far north."

The farm was discovered in the area between Backen and Klabböle in an area known as Klockaråkern and it is thought that the farm was in use for almost 600 years from around 1100 BC.

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