Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stonehenge Precursor Found? Island Complex Predates Famous Site

On an island off Britain's northern tip, new discoveries suggest a huge Stone Age ritual complex is older than Stonehenge.

But age is only the half of it. Researchers say the site may have in fact been the original model for Stonehenge and other later, better-known British complexes to the south.

First discovered in 2002, the waterside site—called the Ness of Brodgar ("Brodgar promontory")—lies on Mainland, the largest of Scotland's Orkney Islands (map).
Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Arabia the First Stop for Modern Humans Out of Africa, Suggests New Study

Questions surrounding when and where early modern humans first migrated from Africa to populate the rest of the world have long been a focus of debate and study among scientists, where genetic research has played a key role. Now, recent genetic research study results have been released by an international team of scientists. The research, published January 26 by Cell Press in the American Journal of Human Genetics, suggests that modern humans settled first in Arabia more than 60,000 years ago on their way out through the Horn of Africa.  
Says senior study author Dr. Luisa Pereira of the University of Porto in Portugal (IPATIMUP): "A major unanswered question regarding the dispersal of modern humans around the world concerns the geographical site of the first steps out of Africa. One popular model predicts that the early stages of the dispersal took place across the Red Sea to southern Arabia, but direct genetic evidence has been thin on the ground."

Read the rest of this article...

The forgotten Mound of Down

There are plenty of drumlins in County Down - but have you heard of the Mound of Down? 

If not, that is probably because it has been hidden from public view by trees and gorse for decades.

But work is now under way to expose this fortification which could be about 1,000 years old.

Tim Campbell, director of the St Patrick Centre in Downpatrick, said it was one of the largest megalithic hill forts in western Europe.

Read the rest of this article...

Archaeologists Excavate Ancient Populonia

A team of archaeologists and students excavate the remains of a major Etruscan center in Italy.

Archaeologists Excavate Ancient Populonia
A team of archaeologists, students and volunteers will return again during the summer of 2012 to investigate the remains of a major Etruscan port city that straddles the Mediterranean coast of Tuscany, Italy. Located near the Italian town of Piombino, it features one of the most important necropolises in the country, as well as an acropolis and a history that goes back to Etruscan settlers around 900 B.C.E. and a Bronze Age culture that dates back to about 1200 B.C.E. The ancient site is known today as Populonia, a city that was for centuries a prominent Mediterranean center for iron smelting and trade.

The "main objective is to fill as many of the gaps as possible in our knowledge of the history of Populonia and its territory, from the late Etruscan period to the late Roman age", reports the team leadership. Co-led by Andrea Camilli (Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Tuscany), Giandomenico De Tommaso (University of Florence), and Carolina Megale (Archeodig Project), they intend to focus their investigation on a section of the site's lower city that is still intact, where they have identified evidence of a late Roman building and, beneath that, a part of the Etruscan necropolis.
Read the rest of this article...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Archaeology Courses at the Oxford Experience 2012

The Oxford Experience Summer School

1 July to 11 August 2012

The 2012 Oxford Experience Programme is now online.

The Oxford Experience is a residential summer school held at the college of Christ Church, University of Oxford.

The programme consists of 6 weeks of courses and participants attend for one or more weeks.
It offers a choice of twelve seminars each week over a period of five weeks. Participants do not need any formal qualifications to take part, just an interest in their chosen subject and a desire to meet like-minded people.

You can also find details of the various archaeology courses offered at Oxford Experience here...

Underwater archaeology: Hunt for the ancient mariner

Armed with high-tech methods, researchers are scouring the Aegean Sea for the world's oldest shipwrecks.

Brendan Foley peels his wetsuit to the waist and perches on the side of an inflatable boat as it skims across the sea just north of the island of Crete. At his feet are the dripping remains of a vase that moments earlier had been resting on the sea floor, its home for more than a millennium. “It's our best day so far,” he says of his dive that morning. “We've discovered two ancient shipwrecks.”

Foley, a marine archaeologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, and his colleagues at Greece's Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in Athens have spent the day diving near the cliffs of the tiny island of Dia in the eastern Mediterranean. They have identified two clusters of pottery dating from the first century BC and fifth century AD. Together with other remains that the team has discovered on the island's submerged slopes, the pots reveal that for centuries Greek, Roman and Byzantine traders used Dia as a refuge during storms, when they couldn't safely reach Crete.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Neanderthals used ochre much earlier than previously thought

Scientists have uncovered evidences that show Neanderthals were using red paint up to 250,000 years ago - thousands of years earlier than previously thought. 

Traces of the paint, made from ochre, were dug up in the Netherlands and dated to a quarter of a million years ago. 

Scientists are upto finding out what the sub-species of humans did with it back then although it is often considered a sign of symbolic behaviour such as artwork and body painting. 

Read the rest of this article...

Facebook in our Genes?

A new study indicates that social networking is an integral part of humankind's nature, carried down from ancient humans who lived tens of thousands of years ago.
Facebook in our Genes?
This was Hadza land, a type of rugged African landscape that we have all seen in pictures and movies about the African Serengeti. Coren Apicella and her research assistants were frequently on the move, traveling the region by Land Cruiser, struggling to cross mud-drenched trails. At one location, they had to lay felled trees on the ground in order to advance, and at another point, they had to flee a horde of elephants. But it all came with the territory. They were studying a nomadic people called the Hadza, or Hadzabe, an ethnic group of people in north-central Tanzania, living around Lake Eyasi in the central Rift Valley and in the neighboring Serengeti Plateau. The Hadza people number less than 1,000 in total population. Roaming over 4,000 square kilometers of the African landscape, several hundred of them still live as hunter-gatherers, much as their ancestors lived tens of thousands of years ago before the invention of agriculture. Some consider them to be the last full-time hunter-gatherers in Africa. To Coren and other researchers, they offer an interesting case for ground-breaking research and discovery about the dynamics and evolution of social networking in the human family, one element that made modern humans what they are today.

Read the rest of this article...

Complex Fish Traps Over 7,500 Years Old Found in Russia

One might argue that the stone age technology among people living in Russia during the Mesolithic and Neolithic ages was relatively unimpressive. But the fishing equipment of a certain group living near present-day Moscow more than 7,500 years ago would be something to shout about, according to archaeologists.

An international team of archeologists, led by Ignacio Clemente, a researcher with the Spanish National Research Council, has discovered and documented an assemblage of fish seines and traps in the Dubna Basin near Moscow that are dated to be more than 7,500 years old. They say that the equipment, among the oldest found in Europe, displays a surprisingly advanced technical complexity. The finds illuminate the role of fishing among European settlements of the early Holocene (about 10,000 years ago), particularly where people did not practice agriculture until just before the advent of the Iron Age.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Neanderthals and their contemporaries engineered stone tools

New published research from anthropologists at the University of Kent has scientifically supported for the first time the long held theory that early human ancestors across Africa, Western Asia and Europe engineered their stone tools.

For over a century, anthropologists have debated the significance of a group of stone age artifacts manufactured by at least three prehistoric hominin species, including the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis). These artifacts, collectively known as ‘Levallois’, were manufactured across Europe, Western Asia and Africa as early as 300,000 years ago.

Levallois artifacts are flaked stone tools described by archaeologists as ‘prepared cores’ i.e. the stone core is shaped in a deliberate manner such that only after such specialised preparation could a prehistoric flintknapper remove a distinctive ‘Levallois flake’. Levallois flakes have long been suspected by researchers to be intentionally sought by prehistoric hominins for supposedly unique, standardised size and shape properties. However, such propositions were regarded as controversial by some, and in recent decades some researchers questioned whether Levallois tool production involved conscious, structured planning that resulted in predetermined, engineered products.

Read the rest of this article...

Modern flint expert 'reverse engineers' Neanderthal stone axes - and says our ancestors were clever, elegant craftsmen

Researchers at the University of Kent have recreated the processes Neanderthals used to produce sharp flint axes, and found that our ancestors were skilled engineers. 

A modern-day 'flintknapper' replicated the sharpening processes that Neanderthals used to create tools - a sort of modern 'reverse engineering' of ancient techniques in use by three kinds of early 'hominin' including Neanderthals as early as 300,000 years ago.

The researchers found that Neanderthals could shape 'elegant' stone tools - shaping them to be hard-wearing, easily sharpened and with a perfectly balanced centre of gravity.

Read the rest of this article...

Star Carr archaeologists given more than £1m in funding

rchaeologists excavating what they claim is Britain's oldest house have secured more than £1m in funding.

The circular structure at Star Carr near Scarborough was found in 2008 and dates from 8,500BC.

Archaeologists from the Universities of Manchester and York say the site is deteriorating due to environmental changes.

The European Research Council has given them £1.23m to finish the work before information from the site is lost.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Seeing beneath Stonehenge revealed

Two new 21st century inventions are helping us to understand and visit the wonders of Stonehenge from the comfort of our own homes. ‘Google Under-the-Earth’ is an extension of the well known ‘Google Earth’ and adds archaeological layers to the base levels.

‘Seeing beneath Stonehenge’ has been developed as part of the Stonehenge Riverside Project, using data gather by the combined team from the Universities of Sheffield, Manchester, Bristol, Southampton and London.

Google Under-the-Earth: Seeing Beneath Stonehenge is the first application of its kind to transport users around a virtual prehistoric landscape, exploring the magnificent and internationally important monument.

Read the rest of this article...

Bronze Age boat to ride the waves

A modern day boat builder is being challenged to recreate one of the oldest boats found in western Europe, dating to around 1500 BCE.

The prehistoric boat will be built using ancient tools including bronze axes at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth, as part of a collaborative project devised by the University of Exeter.

Sewn plank boats

The construction will be overseen by a professional boat builder as they begin building their ‘sewn-plank boat’ in April.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Archaeologists uncover oldest evidence of ploughing in Czech lands

Archaeologists in Prague-Bubenec have uncovered a site with the oldest traces of ploughing and a field in the Czech Lands, that date back to the mid-4th millennium B.C., Archaeological Institute spokeswoman Jana Marikova has told CTK.

The research in two streets, completed late last year, also uncovered a rich evidence on the area's population in later periods, from the Celtic people and German tribes to the early medieval inhabitants, Marikova said.

Probably the most important find is the system of four approximately parallel lines that are nine metres long, ten metres wide and eight centimeters deep, which archeologists say, are furrows.

Experts believe the furrows date back to the earlier phase of Copper Age, i.e. between 3800 and 3500 B.C.

Read the rest of this article...

Ancient Greek sites could soon be available for rent

In a move bound to leave many Greeks and scholars aghast, Greece's culture ministry said Tuesday it will open up some of the debt-stricken country's most-cherished archaeological sites to advertising firms and other ventures.

The ministry says the move is a common-sense way of helping "facilitate" access to the country's ancient Greek ruins, and money generated would fund the upkeep and monitoring of sites. The first site to be opened would be the Acropolis.

Archaeologists, however, have for decades slammed such an initiative as sacrilege.

The culture ministry said any renting of ancient Greek sites would be subject to strict conditions.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Maritime Museum in Falmouth to build Bronze Age ship

Academics from the University of Exeter, overseen by a professional boat builder, are to reconstruct a Bronze Age ship.

The ship will be built of oak planks stitched together with flexible yew stems at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth.

The aim is to see how seaworthy the vessels were when they were in use 4,000 years ago.

Building is expected to start in April and last five months.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Must Farm Bronze Age site: Archaeologists at work

Over three thousand years ago the inhabitants of a small southeast fenland community were skilled boat builders, enjoyed fishing, and practised a method of eel trapping still in use today in East Anglia. Mark Knight, senior project officer for Cambridge Archaeological Unit, said: “It’s archaeology like it’s never been preserved before.” The incredibly detailed picture of  Bronze Age life discovered on the River Nene, at Must Farm quarry, Whittlesey, has everything from well preserved boats, spears and swords to clothing and jewellery as well as carved bowls and pots still full of  food, making it one of the most significant sites of its kind ever found in Britain. View the rest of this article

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Archaeologist objects - Achill-Henge may be built over prehistoric site - VIDEO Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/news_from_ireland/Archaeologist-objects---Achill-Henge-may-be-built-over-prehistoric-site---VIDEO

Theresa McDonald, Managing Director of the Achill Archaeological Field School, voiced her objections this week over the Achill-Henge which was built at Pollagh in November by Joe McNamara. The archaeologist believes that a prehistoric site could be less than half a kilometer from where Achill-Henge is now standing.

Speaking to The Mayo News, McDonald said, “We’re worried that there is an archaeological site, mostly prehistoric, less than half a kilometre from the site. It is mostly covered by bog, as are a lot of sites in Ireland. There was also an old railway line from Slieve Mor going through the site of the so-called ‘henge’ to Purteen Harbour, that’s gone now because of the unauthorised development.”

The Achill-Henge was constructed in November by architect Joe McNamara and resembles the famous Stonehenge structure.

Read the rest of this article...

Archaeologists ready for Bronze Age boat build

The processes behind building the oldest boat ever found in Western Europe will be investigated by a team of modern- day maritime experts.

Archaeologists from the University of Exeter will lead the project at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth as they attempt to rebuild a sewn-plank boat, examples of which date to around 2000 BC. The Bronze Age vessels, which measured up to 16 metres in length, are thought to have been unique to England and Wales.

"Because none of the boats have ever been found as complete boats, this project will seek to understand how they were constructed, how to steer such a long boat, measure how fast it can go, understand how the crew used paddles, as sails were not evident, and how watertight it is," said Professor Robert Van de Noort, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter.

Read the rest of this article...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Meet the Contenders for Earliest Modern Human

Paleoanthropologists agree that modern humans evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago, yet the fossil evidence for the earliest examples of Homo sapiens is scarce. One problem is the difficulty in recognizing true modern humans in the fossil record: At this time, many of the fossils thought to be early members of our species possess a mix of modern and primitive traits. For some paleoanthropologists, it means our species once had a greater range of physical variation than we do today. For others, it means more than one species of Homo may have lived in Africa at this time, sharing some traits in common.

Despite the challenges of identifying early humans, there are several candidates for the earliest known members of our species. Here’s a look at some of the top contenders.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Star Carr excavations enter exciting new phase

A rchaeologists at the University of York have secured major European funding to carry out sophisticated new research at one of Europe’s most important Early Mesolithic sites.

A team led by Dr Nicky Milner has won a €1.5 million grant from the European Research Council to develop a high-resolution approach to understanding how hunter-gatherers adapted to climatic and environmental change between 10,000 and 8,000 BC at Star Carr in North Yorkshire.

Last year a team of archaeologists, from York and the University of Manchester, discovered Britain’s earliest surviving house. The house dates to at least 9,000 BC – when Britain was part of continental Europe. The research team unearthed the 3.5 metres circular structure next to an ancient lake at the site, near Scarborough, which archaeologists say is comparable in importance to Stonehenge. They also excavated a well preserved 11,000 year-old tree trunk with its bark still intact and the earliest evidence of carpentry in Europe.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Archaeologists get £1m funding boost to carry out research at Stone Age Star Carr site

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have secured more than £1 million in funding to delve deeper into the history of Britain’s earliest surviving house discovered in North Yorkshire, writes Daniel Birch.

A team of archaeologists from the universities of York and Manchester helped unearth the house at Star Carr, a Stone Age site, near Scarborough, in 2010.

The wooden house, which is 3.5 metres wide, predates the house previously thought to be Britain's oldest house in Howick, Northumberland, by at least 500 years.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's Official: Stonehenge Stones Were Moved 160 Miles

Some of the volcanic bluestones in the inner ring of Stonehenge officially match an outcrop in Wales that's 160 miles (257 kilometers) from the world-famous site, geologists announced this week. (See Wales pictures.)

The discovery leaves two big ideas standing about how the massive pieces of the monument arrived at Salisbury Plain: entirely by human hand, or partly by glacier.

As it looks today, 5,000-year-old Stonehenge has an outer ring of 20- to 30-ton sandstone blocks and an inner ring and horseshoe of 3- to 5-ton volcanic bluestone blocks. (See Stonehenge pictures.)

Read the rest of this article...