Archaeology

Strelok16

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Yeah I heard about that as well but for some reason didn't think of posting it >.<


I'm waiting for the results, even though its so extremely unlikely the bones are hers. You'd think they'd find her plane before finding her.
 

GRtak

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The plane was probably taken by the sea. There is a piece of plastic that has the same curve as one of the windows of the type of plane she was using.
 

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/mar/26/siberia-new-human-being


Is this a new species of human being?

Scientists have extracted DNA from a bone discovered in Siberia that almost certainly belongs to a new kind of human ? one that may have lived as recently as 30,000 years ago. Will this transform our views of human evolution?

From nothing more than a piece of bone from a child's little finger, the human family tree has gained another member, one who lived alongside modern humans perhaps as recently as 30,000 years ago.

Yesterday's revelation, that scientists in Germany had discovered ? to their amazement ? that the bone recovered from a cave in the mountains of southern Siberia almost certainly belonged to a new species of human, has sent ripples of excitement through academic circles. For the first time, the analysis of ancient DNA has rewritten the human story. Some 30,000 years ago, human life was far richer than we could have imagined.

Until recently, palaeontologists' view of human evolution was desperately lacking. Ask them to paint a picture of human existence 40,000 years ago, say, and they would mention modern humans, Homo sapiens, occupying vast territories. The only other hominid (a human or close relative) in existence back then, Homo neanderthalensis, was eking out a life alongside us modern humans, but its populations were in terminal decline. Then the Neanderthals became extinct around 25,000 years ago. That much was agreed upon.

Things changed in 2003. Field researchers working in caves on the Indonesian island of Flores uncovered remains of a diminutive human relative that lived at least 13,000 years ago. The Flores "hobbits" grew to be a metre tall as adults and could be traced back to Homo erectus, the forerunner of modern humans that left Africa 1.9m years ago. The hobbits' size is thought to be a direct result of their isolation.

Then there is the latest discovery, with which the number of early human species, or hominids, living 30,000 years ago has risen to four. In the space of a decade, the size of the human family has doubled.

And it's not just the cast list of the human evolution story that has had to be revised. Excavations of fossilised human remains have now led scientists to talk of three great migrations out of Africa. The first footprints leading off the continent were left by Homo erectus (the ancestor we share with the Neanderthals, with those hobbits, and with this new species of human). The next migration, around 450,000 years ago, was the Neanderthals. Then, perhaps as recently as 60,000 years ago, the first modern humans left to populate Eurasia and beyond ? the humans from whom all of us alive on earth today are descended. The new species of human appears to fit in with none of these migrations out of Africa, and instead points to yet another great exodus, one that happened around 1m years ago.

To some scientists, even this fairly complicated picture is beginning to feel over-simplistic. "I don't think we can be absolutely certain about anything now," says Professor Terry Brown, an expert in ancient DNA at Manchester University.

What we do know is that the story starts in Africa, but that early humans then decided to leave. "There's no reason why a hominid should remain in Africa if the population increases," says Brown. "The natural thing for it to do is to move." The march out of the cradle of humanity may have been more of an ongoing wander, with early humans moving farther afield as and when they needed.

What's also known is that with the exception of the hobbits of Flores, every human species is thought to have evolved before making its way out of Africa. How we ended up with a number of different hominids is probably down to geography: species can split into two when groups of individuals become isolated from one another. When they stop interbreeding, the genetic makeup of each group drifts and diverges. They adapt differently to their habitats. Eventually, the differences became so large they cannot reproduce even if they tried.

In Africa ? a very big place ? small groups of thousands likely occupied disparate territories, and many splits may have occurred. Eventually, as the evolutionary clock ticked by, some Homo erectus embarked on a route that culminated in the Neanderthals. Others went down the route that led to modern humans. Still others, scientists now believe, became the new human species that left its little finger in a Siberian cave.

The most intriguing thing, perhaps, about this new discovery is its location. The bone was uncovered in an area where the remains of humans and Neanderthals have all been found from around the same period in history. Together, the evidence points to a time, between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago, when all three species were there. Did they ever meet? Did they make out? Did they fight? And why was Homo sapiens the last human standing? Do we owe not only the Neanderthals but this new species a big apology?

"It could have been that there was a period of occupation, where as one species moved out, another moved in. Ten thousand years is a long, long time and it is possible they never actually met," says Brown. "The alternative is that they may have been having parties every Saturday night, all three of them, getting together and talking about the Neanderthals down the road."

If they did live alongside one another, they needn't have been in constant conflict. Related species of other animals ? big cats for example ? share territories, yet show their neighbours nothing but cool indifference. Conflict is only likely when there is competition for the food, mates or shelter. That said, the three human species probably all hunted large mammals, including woolly mammoths and woolly rhinos, the remains of which have been unearthed in the area.

So what is the fourth human to be called? In lieu of a formal name for the new species, Svante P??bo and Johannes Krause at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig ? who extracted and analysed the DNA from the finger bone ? gave our latest ancient relative the nickname "X-woman". From the size of the finger bone, they suspect it belonged to a child aged between five and seven years old, but whether it was a boy or girl is unknown. The nickname is a nod to the laboratory tests they used to identify the creature as something new to science: they examined DNA locked up in tiny organelles called mitochondria, which are passed down the maternal line only.

What genetic material the scientists have analysed so far points to an early human that shared a common ancestor with modern humans and the Neanderthals 1m years ago. (Modern humans and Neanderthals split from their own common ancestor 500,000 years ago.)

The work at the Leipzig lab is ongoing, however. In the next few months, the team expects to have sequenced the creature's full genome, a step that will do more than confirm whether it is a new species or not. One of the perennial questions in human origins research ? and one genetics is uniquely well-placed to answer ? is whether co-existing human species mated with each other. Detailed studies of several Neanderthal genomes by the same laboratory have found no compelling evidence that interbreeding happened between modern humans and Neanderthals. But only further work will rule it out, or in, completely.

There is good reason to suspect, however, that, even if our ancient ancestors never got up close and personal with each other, we played a role in their demise. The Neanderthals died out in Europe soon after the arrival of modern humans. A coincidence? Some scientists put the blame on climate change, and suggest the Neanderthals ? who were probably not so different from us, using tools, possibly talking to each other ? were poorly equipped for the upheaval that ensued. But the Neanderthals were hardy creatures and died during the middle of the last ice age, not during the major period of transition at the end. More likely, say some scientists, was that Homo sapiens out-competed the Neanderthals for food and other crucial resources.

The discovery of this new human species, one that lived at the same time as modern humans and the Neanderthals, does nothing to make this uncertain picture any clearer. Now there are two human species that died out, if not in our presence, then certainly in our proximity. "That makes the whole argument more interesting and it is going to be the debate that is had over the next 10 years," says Brown.

Casting an eye over the last 6m years of human evolution, from the moment we split from a common ancestor with modern apes, to the rise of Homo sapiens, it is hard not to notice that scores of other early human species have come and gone: evolutionary experiments that failed. And yet we prevailed. Why should Homo sapiens be any different? Could we die out too at some point? Or are we destined to be just another branch on the tree, one that paves the way for the next, more evolved version of a human being?

As for dying out, we are safer, perhaps, in being able to control our environment ? to some extent at least. As to us evolving into something different, some biologists believe that Homo sapiens has to all intents and purposes stopped evolving, or at least that the pace of our evolution has slowed. That could leave us more vulnerable to new diseases or wild changes in the environment. Then again, change could come in more dramatic fashion.

"If a global disaster wiped out much of the human race, leaving only a population of few hundred thousand, they would probably evolve into something very different to us," says Brown. A passing asteroid might thump into the planet and leave only isolated pockets of Homo sapiens, living in a habitat unrecognisable to the world today. Some groups would inevitably die out, but those that survived would eventually carry on the human line under a new name.

But then there are no certainties here, and indeed the history of our understanding of human evolution shows us that whatever we believe now could be turned on its head within a matter of decades. It used to be believed, assumed rather, that Neanderthals were our ancestors ? the cave men that came before us. Of course that turned out not to be true: they lived alongside us. And now it turned out that these others, the fourth humans, did too.

The really good news is that against the backdrop of this more academic debate, against all this uncertainty, there now lies a realm of new opportunity and new understanding thanks to the potential of DNA analysis. The discovery of X-woman marks a first in using genetics alone to identify what many palaeontologists believe must be a new human species. But this is also one of the earliest attempts to look at ancient DNA from human remains.

The fossil record we have for humans is patchy and incomplete, but tiny fragments that have been labelled, over the course of many decades, as Homo sapiens, or Homo neanderthalensis, or Homo erectus, sit in museums and laboratories all over the world.

Are there fragments of bone from other unknown humans among them? "It could be that there is a whole load of human ancestors out there that we don't know about yet, and I mean five, six, or seven types of human," says Brown. "Everything is wide open now."
 

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Jason and the argot: land where Greek's ancient language survives
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Monday, 3 January 2011

An isolated community near the Black Sea coast in a remote part of north-eastern Turkey has been found to speak a Greek dialect that is remarkably close to the extinct language of ancient Greece.

As few as 5,000 people speak the dialect but linguists believe that it is the closest, living language to ancient Greek and could provide an unprecedented insight into the language of Socrates and Plato and how it evolved.

The community lives in a cluster of villages near the Turkish city of Trabzon in what was once the ancient region of Pontus, a Greek colony that Jason and the Argonauts are supposed to have visited on their epic journey from Thessaly (now Thessaloniki) to recover the Golden Fleece from the land of Colchis (present-day Georgia). Pontus was also supposed to be the kingdom of the mythical Amazons, a fierce tribe of women who cut off their right breasts in order to handle their bows better in battle.

Linguists found that the dialect, Romeyka, a variety of Pontic Greek, has structural similarities to ancient Greek that are not observed in other forms of the language spoken today. Romeyka's vocabulary also has parallels with the ancient language.

Ioanna Sitaridou, a lecturer in romance philology at the University of Cambridge, said: "Romeyka preserves an impressive number of grammatical traits that add an ancient Greek flavour to the dialect's structure, traits that have been completely lost from other modern Greek varieties.

"Use of the infinitive has been lost in all other Greek dialects known today ? so speakers of Modern Greek would say 'I wasn't able that I go' instead of 'I wasn't able to go'. But, in Romeyka, not only is the infinitive preserved, but we also find quirky infinitival constructions that have never been observed before ? only in the Romance languages are there parallel constructions."

The villagers who speak Romeyka, which has no written form, show other signs of geographic and cultural isolation. They rarely marry outside their own community and they play a folk music on a special instrument, called a kemenje in Turkish and Romeyka or lyra as it is called in Greek, Dr Sitaridou said. "I only know of one man who married outside his own village," she said. "The music is distinctive and cannot be mistaken for anything else. It is clearly unique to the speakers of Romeyka."

One possibility is that Romeyka speakers today are the direct descendants of ancient Greeks who lived along the Black Sea coast millennia ago ? perhaps going back to the 6th or 7th centuries BC when the area was first colonised. But it is also possible that they may be the descendants of indigenous people or an immigrant tribe who were encouraged or forced to speak the language of the ancient Greek colonisers.

Romeykas-speakers today are devout Muslims, so they were allowed to stay in Turkey after the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, when some two million Christians and Muslims were exchanged between Greece and Turkey. Repeated waves of emigration, the dominant influence of the Turkish-speaking majority, and the complete absence of Romeyka from the public arena, have now put it on the list of the world's most endangered languages.

"With as few as 5,000 speakers left in the area, before long, Romeyka could be more of a heritage language than a living vernacular. With its demise would go an unparalleled opportunity to unlock how the Greek language has evolved," said Dr Sitaridou. "Imagine if we could speak to individuals whose grammar is closer to the language of the past. Not only could we map out a new grammar of a contemporary dialect but we could also understand some forms of the language of the past. This is the opportunity that Romeyka presents us with."

Studies of the grammar of Romeyka show that it shares a startling number of similarities with Koine Greek of Hellenistic and Roman times, which was spoken at the height of Greek influence across Asia Minor between the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD.

Modern Greek, meanwhile, has undergone considerable changes from its ancient counterpart, and is thought to have emerged from the later Medieval Greek spoken between the 7th and 13th Centuries AD ? so-called Byzantine Greek.

Future research will try to assess how Pontic Greek from the Black Sea coast evolved over the centuries. "We know that Greek has been continuously spoken in Pontus since ancient times and can surmise that its geographic isolation from the rest of the Greek-speaking world is an important factor in why the language is as it is today," Dr Sitaridou said. "What we don't yet know is whether Romeyka emerged in exactly the same way as other Greek dialects but later developed its own unique characteristics which just happen to resemble archaic Greek.

Many of the world's languages are disappearing as once-isolated populations become part of the global economy, with children failing to learn the language of their grandparents and instead using the dominant language of the majority population, which in this part of the world is Turkish.

"In Pontus, we have near-perfect experimental conditions to assess what may be gained and what may be lost as a result of language contact," Dr Sitaridou said.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-s...greeks-ancient-language-survives-2174669.html

Did not realized there were still that many Greek speakers in Turkey. I thought most were moved during the population exchanges with Greece.
 

GRtak

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Not exactly archeology, but....

http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2011/01/ancient_egyptian_pygmy_mammoth.php


Did the ancient Egyptians know of pygmy mammoths? Well, there is that tomb painting.

One of the things that came up in the many comments appended to the article on Bob's painting of extinct Maltese animals was the famous Egyptian tomb painting of the 'pygmy mammoth'. You're likely already familiar with this (now well known) case: here's the image, as it appears on the beautifully decorated tomb wall of Rekhmire, 'Governor of the Town' of Thebes, and vizier of Egypt during the reigns of Tuthmose III and Amenhotep II (c. 1479 to 1401 BCE) during the XVIII dynasty...

In 1994, Baruch Rosen published a brief article in Nature in which he drew attention to the small, tusked, hairy elephant in the painting, shown as being waist-high to the accompanying people. The people next to the elephant seem to be Syrian traders, carrying objects that include tusks (note that a small bear is shown in the painting as well: that's very interesting but I don't have time to discuss it here). African elephants Loxodonta and the now extinct Middle Eastern population of the Asian elephant Elephas maximus were both known to the ancient Egyptians, but Rekhmire's elephant doesn't seem to be either. Its apparent hairiness, convex back and domed head make it look like a juvenile Asian elephant, but then why it is shown with huge tusks? It seems to have a fairly large ear [the best close-up I could get is shown below], though whether this ear is shaped more like that of Loxodonta or Elephas is difficult to say.

Inspired by the then-new discovery that a dwarfed population* of Woolly mammoths Mammuthus primigenius were still living as recently as 3700 years ago (albeit on Wrangel Island in the Siberian Arctic: Vartanyan et al. (1993), Guthrie (2004)), Rosen (1994) made the tentative suggestion that the elephant shown in Rekhmire's tomb might actually be a dwarf Woolly mammoth. If true, this would have radical implications. It would mean that the ancient Egyptians had a trading link of sorts with far eastern Siberia, and also that mammoths were captured and then transported alive to Africa!

* Richard Stone's 2002 book Mammoth: the Resurrection of an Ice Age Giant includes the claim that Dirk Jan Mol was able to discredit the idea that the Wrangel mammoths were dwarfs (or dwarves. Whatever). Apparently, the 'dwarf' ones were just small, old females. I haven't read this anywhere else - does anyone know if this is correct, and was it ever published anywhere in the technical literature?

However, Rosen (1994) also made the suggestion that the elephant in the painting might be a symbolic representation of an elephant rather than a 'real-life' depiction of one. The idea here is that, since the accompanying person is shown carrying tusks, the artist added a miniature elephant to signify the known origin of these tusks. The suggestion has also been made that Egyptian artists sometimes showed non-human animals as smaller than actual size in order that the animals didn't take up too much space in the illustrated procession (Davies N. de Garis, cited in Masseti 2001). But then some people say that Egyptian artists just didn't do things this way and, in any case, the elephant in the painting doesn't look stylized - it's depicted as a real, life-sized animal. Counting against the idea of the hairy dwarf elephant being a stylized miniature is the fact that a giraffe also featuring in Rekhmire's tomb was shown as tall as possible [the image of the tomb painting shown here is borrowed from this article on Rock Art Blog]. Doubtless some of you know much more about the habits of Egyptian artists than I do, so please tell us if any of this is or is not reasonable.

As you may already have guessed, there is then a third possibility: this being that Rekhmire's elephant is neither a Siberian mammoth nor a wrongly-scaled 'symbolic' elephant, but perhaps a depiction of one of the pygmy Mediterranean island-dwelling species. Most of the dwarf Mediterranean elephants were Pleistocene animals that were long gone by the time of the Pharoahs, but Masseti (2001) noted that a population of dwarfed elephants seem to have lingered on in isolation on the Greek island of Tilos (located between Rhodes and Kos). The Tilos elephants apparently remain unnamed [UPDATE: not true, they are Elephas tiliensis Theodorou et al., 2007] but have often been compared to E. falconeri of Malta and Sicily. Incidentally, these Mediterranean dwarf elephants are still very frequently said to belong to Elephas, but is this right? Aren't they most likely part of Palaeoloxodon? The latter is frequently stated without ambiguity (e.g., Caloi & Palombo 2000), yet still we're stuck with an archaic taxonomy. Hopefully this will get sorted out eventually [adjacent illustration, showing a Tilos palaeoloxodontine to scale with the probable ancestor Palaeoloxodon antiquus, is by A. Mangione and borrowed from Masseti (2001). And Burian's classic painting of a Mediterranean pygmy elephant is shown below].

Anyway, radiocarbon dating of the Tilos dwarf elephants apparently puts some of them as recent as about 4300 years old (+/- 600 years), meaning that they overlapped with the presence of Bronze Age people on the island (Masseti 2001). The remote possibility exists, therefore, that Tilos elephants were captured by ancient Aegeans and then traded between Aegeans, Near Eastern people, and Egyptians - in fact, known trade did occur between these regions during the late Bronze Age at least.

There are a few other possibilities that could explain the look of the Rekhmire tomb elephant though. I said earlier that its large tusks demonstrate adult status, and hence show that it can't be a juvenile Asian elephant. But maybe, just maybe, the painting could depict a freak juvenile Elephas that precociously developed large tusks. We know that African forest elephants L. cyclotis can be precocious in terms of tusk growth (this may partly explain sightings of alleged Pygmy elephants)*. Any such individual would perhaps be regarded as an unusual thing of interest and value. And there's also the possibility that the animal depicts an individual from another late-surviving dwarf population that we don't know about. Some of the extinct Mediterranean dwarf elephants are now suspected of being dwarf mammoths (as in, members of Mammuthus) rather than species of Elephas/Palaeoloxodon and, in life, these animals might indeed have looked more like the hairy, dome-skulled animal in Rekhmire's tomb [the photo of the section of the painting below is by N. Douek Galante, from Masseti (2001)].

* Indeed White (1994) suggested that the Rekhmire tomb elephant could depict a miniature African elephant. At first site this looks unlikely to be right in view of the Rekhmire elephant's hairiness, highly convex back and domed head. But you could play devil's advocate: maybe the artist screwed up (after all, none of the features are as clear as we might like), and is the animal really shown as being hairy? Maybe those lines are meant to be wrinkles. And African elephants can be very brown-skinned.

As is so often the case with pieces of evidence like this, it's likely that we may never know the truth of the matter. But not only is it fun to speculate, our speculations can mean that we gradually winnow away the possibilities and perhaps get closer to the truth. The notion that ancient Egyptians could have gotten hold of dwarf Mediterranean elephants, for example, is more likely than the more incredible suggestion that they somehow had access to those from a Siberian island.

One more thing to note: at the time of writing I haven't seen Alexandra van der Geer et al.'s 2010 book Evolution of Island Mammals: Adaptation and Extinction of Placental Mammals on Islands. It may well contain some very relevant and interesting material on dwarf, island-endemic Mediterranean elephants that I should be noting and citing. Hey, if I had the book here, that's exactly what I would be doing. But I don't.

It's been suggested that other exotic animals were also depicted by the Egyptians. See this article on duikers for more. And for more on proboscideans at Tet Zoo, please see...
 

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http://www.history.com/topics/vikings-sunstones?cmpid=twitter-history-020211

Did Vikings Use Crystals to Navigate?

Viking fables tell of a magical stone that helped sailors pinpoint the sun even when it was veiled by dense clouds and fog. New research suggests that these mythic ?sunstones? may be more than the stuff of legend, and that the North Atlantic?s most intrepid ancient warriors may have harnessed the power of light polarization hundreds of years before the phenomenon was discovered.

How exactly the seafaring Scandinavians known as the Vikings navigated millions of miles of open water, raiding ports and settling uncharted territories from roughly 900 to 1200 A.D., has baffled historians and scientists. Archaeological evidence suggests they traveled with portable wooden sundials, but these instruments would only have been useful on clear days. Along the Vikings? primary sailing routes, however, the sun could disappear for days at a time.

The sunstone?or s?larsteinn?appears most prominently in a Viking saga about the Norse hero Sigurd. Under snowy, overcast skies, King Olaf asks Sigurd to locate the sun through the impenetrable haze. To verify Sigurd?s answer, which turns out to be correct, Olaf ?grabbed a sunstone, looked at the sky and saw from where the light came, from which he guessed the position of the invisible sun.?

In 1967, the Danish archaeologist Thorkild Ramskou speculated that these fabled stones were actually crystals?possibly cordierite or Iceland spar?that act as natural polarizing filters. By pointing a sunstone skyward and rotating it until the light passing through it reached its brightest point, he theorized, Viking navigators could have located the sun.

Many scholars accept Ramskou?s hypothesis that Vikings used polarizing crystals, but critics have doubted the technique?s efficacy in cloudy or foggy weather. Recently, a group of researchers led by G?bor Horv?th of Hungary's E?tv?s University put it to the test, publishing their findings in the March 2011 issue of the online journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

The team used a polarimeter, a device that measures the degree of polarization of light, under a range of weather conditions in Tunisia, Finland, Hungary and the Arctic Ocean. The study yielded unexpected results, suggesting that sunstone-like filters could indeed help pinpoint the sun?s whereabouts through clouds and fog. ?To our great surprise,? they wrote, ?the patterns of the direction of polarization under totally overcast skies were very similar to those of the clear skies.?

In the future, Horv?th and his colleagues hope to achieve a more realistic simulation of how Vikings may have used sunstones by collecting various types of naturally occurring polarizing crystals and enlisting volunteers to test them out. ?Since the psychophysical experiments?cannot be performed with Viking navigators,? they wrote, ?we plan to measure the error functions by using male German, Hungarian and Swedish students.?


Isn't it a bit funny how many things that were forgotten technologies are being "rediscovered".
 

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/02/israel-old-church_n_817422.html#s234091

1,500-Year-Old Church Uncovered In Israel


HIRBET MADRAS, Israel ? Israeli archaeologists presented a newly uncovered 1,500-year-old church in the Judean hills on Wednesday, including an unusually well-preserved mosaic floor with images of lions, foxes, fish and peacocks.

The Byzantine church located southwest of Jerusalem, excavated over the last two months, will be visible only for another week before archaeologists cover it again with soil for its own protection.

The small basilica with an exquisitely decorated floor was active between the fifth and seventh centuries A.D., said the dig's leader, Amir Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority. He said the floor was "one of the most beautiful mosaics to be uncovered in Israel in recent years."


Some good pics on the site.
 

GRtak

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Ah OK, had not heard of that type of migration before, interesting. :think:

If you can remember the NGC show and find the program details, then I would be interested in looking into it some more.

* * *

Time Team today showed episode 2, of the second half of the 2010 series, which investigated an early medieval 14th century castle in Treguk, Wales.



Time Team C4Website ? 2010 series to date
Link contains dig reports and some behind the scenes notes, for all previous programs shown in 2010.

:)

This is a very similar show I caught today.

 

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This is a very similar show I caught today.
* youtube video History Channel
"Who really discovered America?" *

Outstanding, thanks! :thumbsup:

* * *

Probably of interest to our Australian & New Zealand members, as well as the military historians at FG.

Sydney Morning Herald - Almost a century on, a glimpse of life at Gallipoli is unearthed

Sydney Morning Herald said:
THE first archaeological study of the Gallipoli battlefield shows that troops on opposing sides quenched their thirst with different brews. While the Anzacs were more likely to drink rum, beer was the beverage of choice for their Turkish enemies.

The preliminary findings of a joint Australian, New Zealand and Turkish project to identify and record Gallipoli's significant sites before the battle's centenary in 2015 were unveiled by Veterans' Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon yesterday.

more
 

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Heathrow

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BBC News - Mass burial suggests massacre at Iron Age hill fort

BBC News said:
Archaeologists have found evidence of a massacre linked to Iron Age warfare at a hill fort in Derbyshire.

A burial site contained only women and children - the first segregated burial of this kind from Iron Age Britain.

Nine skeletons were discovered in a section of ditch around the fort at Fin Cop in the Peak District.

Scientists believe "perhaps hundreds more skeletons" could be buried in the ditch, only a small part of which has been excavated so far.

Construction of the hill fort has been dated to some time between 440BC and 390BC, but it was destroyed before completion.

more - click link above
I really like pre-history and this kind of evidence, although the story is a bit speculative, with only nine skeletons found thus far.

Makes you wonder what the story was and who these people were.

"The archaeological team believe they were probably massacred after the fort was attacked and captured."

Seems like a reasonable theory, but what a crap way to die, then get thrown in a ditch.

There are lots of Hill Forts in England and they have been recognised as ancient monuments for hundreds of years. Because of this, nobody normally would able to bulldoze one away then build a McDonalds on top. So, they don't get looked at much because the archeology trade says "ah, Hillfort, next" and digging them is a straight out cost.

Whereas, in the City of London, for example, when a developer want to throw up a huge new office, he has to pay a team of archeologists to examine the site first. (Also applies if you are just building your own house on land you own.)

Paid work > cost work.



Interesting, it is well known that there was long distance travel, trade and communications in pre-history. Stonehenge was bulit during the Bronze age, where the "blue stones" are supposed to have been transported from Wales.

So, having a "sat-nav" would have been well handy for the prehistoric truck drivers. :p
 

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It's a good bit of law actually.

My second year dig was down in Taunton for that very reason, but we had a couple of days over in Shepton Mallett on a massive Roman site that was about to be covered over by a new Babycham factory. The saddest and most annoying thing was that a local guy with a metal detector had been finding stuff for years and never bothered to tell anyone. Evaluation trench went in and the field unit guys were finding coins in the mud on their boots at the end of the day.

If the idiot had piped up sooner the chances are this settlement could have been properly excavated and preserved. It wouldn't have been as big as, but could easily have been the British equivalent of Pompeii. Meanwhile this twat is in all the papers and on local news crowing his sorry little heart out.

:mad:

EDIT: Just did some browsing and came across this - http://www.oxbowbooks.com/bookinfo.cfm/ID/25431//Location/Oxbow - not planning to buy it but might see if I can find it in a library somewhere, assuming there are any still open in this country.
 
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Heathrow

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It's a good bit of law actually.

My second year dig was down in Taunton for that very reason, but we had a couple of days over in Shepton Mallett on a massive Roman site that was about to be covered over by a new Babycham factory.

* snip - F**kin Nighthawks *

Hey, that's Prof. Mick Aston & Phil Harding country.

Did you ever get to meet them and shall I call you
Prof. Mick-Works-Fine from now on? :p

* * *

Discovery News - Did Neanderthals Believe in an Afterlife?

Discovery News said:
A possible Neanderthal burial ground suggests that they practiced funeral rituals and possessed symbolic thought before modern humans.

THE GIST

* Neanderthal skeletons found in apparent burial poses have been unearthed at a site in Spain.

* The site, Sima de las Palomas, may be the first known Neanderthal burial ground of Mediterranean Europe.

* Remains for six to seven other Neanderthals, including an infant and two juveniles, as well as associated tools and food, have also been excavated.


Evidence for a likely 50,000-year-old Neanderthal burial ground that includes the remains of at least three individuals has been unearthed in Spain, according to a Quaternary International paper.

The deceased appear to have been intentionally buried, with each Neanderthal's arms folded such that the hands were close to the head. Remains of other Neanderthals have been found in this position, suggesting that it held meaning.

Neanderthals therefore may have conducted burials and possessed symbolic thought before modern humans had these abilities. The site, Sima de las Palomas in Murcia, Southeast Spain, may also be the first known Neanderthal burial ground of Mediterranean Europe.

"We cannot say much (about the skeletons) except that we surmise the site was regarded as somehow relevant in regard to the remains of deceased Neanderthals," lead author Michael Walker told Discovery News. "Their tools and food remains, not to mention signs of fires having been lit, which we have excavated indicate they visited the site more than once."


more - click link above

Finding so many skeletons in one place is very unusual. Maybe they did have burial rituals and this place is a cemetary of some sort. I love the panther paws in the grave, though.

It's possible that they saw modern humans burying people and copied them, anyways an interesting bit of archeology news.

:cool:
 

MWF

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It is, but I was there with the Field Unit from the University of Birmingham. Dig director was a chap called Ian Ferris - was a dead ringer from Father Mulcahy from M*A*S*H!

Great story from a few years earlier. He was on a dig in Uttoxeter where Bamfords (JCB) were extending their factory. They supplied the plant and the drivers of course, all of whom were from the JCB Display Team.

Ian was up to his waste in a post feature when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around to come face to bucket with the back hoe that had just tapped him! :lol:
 

GRtak

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http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2033038,00.html

More Proof That Vikings Were First to America

Pity poor Leif Ericsson. The Viking explorer may well have been the first European to reach the Americas, but it is a certain Genoan sailor who gets all the glory. Thanks to evidence that has until now consisted only of bare archeological remains and a bunch of Icelandic legends, Ericsson has long been treated as a footnote in American history: no holiday, no state capitals named after him, no little ditty to remind you of the date of his voyage. But a group of Icelandic and Spanish scientists studying one mysterious genetic sequence ? and one woman who's been dead 1,000 years ? may soon change that.

Ten years ago, Agnar Helgason, a scientist at Iceland's deCODE Genetics, began investigating the origin of the Icelandic population. Most of the people he tested carried genetic links to either Scandinavians or people from the British Isles. But a small group of Icelanders ? roughly 350 in total ? carried a lineage known as C1, usually seen only in Asians and Native Americans. "We figured it was a recent arrival from Asia," says Helgason. "But we discovered a much deeper story than we expected."


Helgason's graduate student, Sigridur Sunna Ebenesersdottir, found that she could trace the matrilineal sequence to a date far earlier than when the first Asians began arriving in Iceland. In fact, she found that all the people who carry the C1 lineage are descendants of one of four women alive around the year 1700. In all likelihood, those four descended from a single woman. And because archeological remains in what is Canada today suggest that the Vikings were in the Americas around the year 1000 before retreating into a period of global isolation, the best explanation for that errant lineage lies with an American Indian woman: one who was taken back to Iceland some 500 years before Columbus set sail for the New World in 1492.


"Quantitatively, the importance of the discovery is fairly minimal," says Carles Lalueza, a researcher at Barcelona's Institute of Evolutionary Biology, who collaborated on the project. "You're talking about a few people on a remote island. But qualitatively, the fact that there is evidence for the transmission of genes between two continents at that early a date is very exciting."


And it's not just the mere fact of contact that is intriguing. Until now, the historical evidence has suggested that while the Vikings may have reached the Americas, they didn't really engage with the indigenous population. "According to the sagas, the Vikings had troubles with the locals and couldn't settle there, so they returned to Iceland," says Helgason. "But if we're right, it will mean they didn't just sail there and come back. They had real contact with them."

For now, the story of the lone American Indian woman taken on a Viking ship to Iceland remains a hypothesis. To prove it will require finding the same genetic sequence in older Amerindian remains elsewhere in the world ? family members, as it were, of that 1,000-year-old woman who ended up so far from home. That sounds like a daunting task, but Helgason and his team hope that as news of their finding spreads, other geneticists will re-examine remains they have already studied for evidence of the same lineage.


In the meantime, Helgason will also be exploring one other possible explanation for the unexpected finding. Though unlikely, the presence of the C1 lineage could indicate that it originated in those ancient populations who dispersed from Europe into Asia and the Americas. In other words, instead of a single American Indian carrying the lineage to Europe, it may have risen out of primitive Europe and migrated to different parts of the world. "If that's the case, we'd be talking about 14,000 years ago," says Helgason. "So even if we're wrong about this one Amerindian woman, the other answer would be even more spectacular."
 

Heathrow

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Vikings!

BBC Scotland - Aerial surveys of Viking shipyard on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

McBBC Scotland said:
Aerial surveys are being carried out over Skye to help archaeologists investigate a 12th Century Viking shipbuilding site.

Boat timbers, a stone-built quay and a canal have already been uncovered at Loch na h-Airde on Skye's Rubh an Dunain peninsula.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) has launched the air surveys.

Staff hope to pinpoint new sites for investigation.

Working with marine archaeologists, RCAHMS also hope to find potential dive sites for searches for the remains of ships and other artefacts.

Archaeologists now believe the loch was the focus for maritime activity for many centuries, from the Vikings to the MacAskill and Macleod clans of Skye.

Have visited Skye and the other Islands several times, it is a beautiful, remote and wild place with weather consisting of 20 types of rain.

Lots of mediaeval history and now it seems important Viking archeology as well.

This story made the six o'clock News tonight.

:cool:
 

GRtak

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Beneath a Temple in Southern India, a Treasure Trove of Staggering Riches

MUMBAI, India ? A court-ordered search of vaults beneath a south Indian temple has unearthed gold, jewels and statues worth an estimated $22 billion, government officials said Monday.

The treasure trove, at the 16th century Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, is widely believed to be the largest find of its kind in India, catching officials in the state of Kerala by surprise and forcing the government to send two dozen police officers to the previously unguarded shrine for round-the-clock security.

The discovery has also revived questions about who should manage the wealth, much of which is believed to have been deposited at the temple by the royal family of the princely state of Travancore, which acceded to India when the country became independent in 1947. Some of the vaults under the temple have not been opened for nearly 150 years, temple officials have said.

Temples in India often have rich endowments, mainly from donations of gold and cash by pilgrims and wealthy patrons, but the wealth discovered at Padmanabhaswamy dwarfs the known assets of every other Indian temple. Such assets are typically meant to be used by administrators to operate temples and provide services to the poor, but they have often become the subject of heated disputes and controversies.

India?s Supreme Court ordered the opening of the vaults at Padmanabhaswamy to assess the wealth of the temple after a local activist, T. P. Sundararajan, filed a case accusing administrators of mismanaging and poorly guarding the temple. Descendants of the royal family still control the trust that manages the temple, which is devoted to the Hindu god Vishnu.

Searchers have found bags of gold coins, diamonds and other jewels and solid-gold statues of gods and goddesses. On Monday, searchers started to unseal ?Section B? of the vaults, a large space that was expected to reveal another sizable collection, said P. T. Chacko, the spokesman for the chief minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy.

Mr. Chacko said Kerala would not seek control of the temple or its treasure, a step that some activists have recommended. ?The treasure is donated to the temple from disciples and believers; it?s the property of the temple,? he said. ?It has nothing to do with the state.?

India?s Supreme Court will decide what happens to the treasure and the rest of the temple, which sits in the heart of Kerala?s capital, Thiruvananthapuram, once it has established the total value of the holdings, which could take months to finish. Early estimates of the treasure have been raised several times as searchers have opened more of the vaults in recent days.

The economy of Kerala, a relatively prosperous Indian state, relies heavily on remittances from migrant workers in the Middle East and elsewhere. For many decades, it led the country in improving development indicators like literacy and infant mortality.
 
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