Iron Age Artifacts Found in England

Archaeology News - January 12, 2015

LUTON, ENGLAND—Luton Today reports that three roundhouses, boundary ditches, and pits were unearthed during work to expand a cemetery in Bedfordshire by archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology East. Seven Roman cremations, three brooches, a bath flask, Roman pottery, and medieval pottery were also found. The artifacts are expected to be presented to Luton Museum. The Roman burial urns may be reinterred.

Categories: Blog

Iron Age Artifacts Found in England

Archaeology News - January 12, 2015

LUTON, ENGLAND—Luton Today reports that three roundhouses, boundary ditches, and pits were unearthed during work to expand a cemetery in Bedfordshire by archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology East. Seven Roman cremations, three brooches, a bath flask, Roman pottery, and medieval pottery were also found. The artifacts are expected to be presented to Luton Museum. The Roman burial urns may be reinterred.

Categories: Blog

Autopsy Detects Poison in Remains of Italian Nobleman

Archaeology News - January 12, 2015

VERONA, ITALY—Traces of poison were detected in the remains of Cangrande della Scala of Verona, who ruled Verona and had conquered Vicenza, Padua, and Treviso at the time of his death in 1329. Historical sources suggest that Cangrande became ill after drinking from a polluted spring, although there were rumors at the time that he’d been murdered. Gino Fornaciari of the University of Pisa and his team found that in addition to signs of arthritis and a mild form of black lung and emphysema, Cangrande had foxglove pollen in his rectum, and toxic concentrations of digoxin and digitoxin, molecules from foxglove plants, in his liver and feces samples. “He became sick with vomit and diarrhea just a few days after winning control over the city of Treviso,” Fornaciari told Discovery News. Chamomile and black mulberry were also found in Cangrande’s system, which may have been administered with the deadly plant. And although it is possible that Cangrande’s death was accidental, Fornaciari and his colleagues wrote in the Journal of Archaeological Science that he may have been killed by his rivals from the Republic of Venice or the Ducate of Milan, or perhaps even by his nephew and successor. To read more about Fornaciari's work, see "Medici Mystery."

Categories: Blog

Autopsy Detects Poison in Remains of Italian Nobleman

Archaeology News - January 12, 2015

VERONA, ITALY—Traces of poison were detected in the remains of Cangrande della Scala of Verona, who ruled Verona and had conquered Vicenza, Padua, and Treviso at the time of his death in 1329. Historical sources suggest that Cangrande became ill after drinking from a polluted spring, although there were rumors at the time that he’d been murdered. Gino Fornaciari of the University of Pisa and his team found that in addition to signs of arthritis and a mild form of black lung and emphysema, Cangrande had foxglove pollen in his rectum, and toxic concentrations of digoxin and digitoxin, molecules from foxglove plants, in his liver and feces samples. “He became sick with vomit and diarrhea just a few days after winning control over the city of Treviso,” Fornaciari told Discovery News. Chamomile and black mulberry were also found in Cangrande’s system, which may have been administered with the deadly plant. And although it is possible that Cangrande’s death was accidental, Fornaciari and his colleagues wrote in the Journal of Archaeological Science that he may have been killed by his rivals from the Republic of Venice or the Ducate of Milan, or perhaps even by his nephew and successor. 

Categories: Blog

Prehistoric Coral Bracelets Unearthed in Papua

Archaeology News - January 12, 2015

JAYAPURA, INDONESIA—Rare, prehistoric bracelets made of coral have been discovered in Puay Village on the island of New Guinea. “Most of the coral sea bracelets found in the hill slopes have been eroded by the water flowing in Lake Sentani,” archaeologist Hari Suroto told Antara News. “This kind of coral can be found in the coasts of the Pacific Ocean. The bracelets are white, and their shapes are good and smooth,” he added. The bracelets indicate that the people living near Lake Sentani had contact with people living on the coast, probably by traveling on the Jaifuri River. 

Categories: Blog

Prehistoric Coral Bracelets Unearthed in Papua

Archaeology News - January 12, 2015

JAYAPURA, INDONESIA—Rare, prehistoric bracelets made of coral have been discovered in Puay Village on the island of New Guinea. “Most of the coral sea bracelets found in the hill slopes have been eroded by the water flowing in Lake Sentani,” archaeologist Hari Suroto told Antara News. “This kind of coral can be found in the coasts of the Pacific Ocean. The bracelets are white, and their shapes are good and smooth,” he added. The bracelets indicate that the people living near Lake Sentani had contact with people living on the coast, probably by traveling on the Jaifuri River. 

Categories: Blog

Union Coat from the USS Monitor Conserved

Archaeology News - January 12, 2015

NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA—A pilot’s jacket recovered from the turret of the USS Monitor will soon be on display at the USS Monitor Center in southeast Virginia. The coat was discovered ten years ago, trapped in a marine concretion found inside the gun turret of the ironclad ship, which sank on March 9, 1861, during the Battle of Hampton Roads. “We’ve found all kinds of buttons inside the turret—some made of wood, some of glass, some of bone, some of rubber, some even mother-of-pearl. Clearly the sailors were just tearing their clothes off before jumping into the water—and doing it so fiercely that their buttons were popping off. This coat was left behind by one of those sailors—and it gives you a very real, very personal connection to the story of those men and this ship during its chaotic end,” Monitor Center director David Krop told The Los Angeles Times. The mass of concretion that contained the jacket was soaked to remove destabilizing chemicals and slowly removed with small hand tools and chisels. “It looks like it’s in great shape, but it’s actually pretty degraded,” added senior conservator Will Hoffman. The pieces of the coat are too fragile to be reassembled, and so have been mounted on archival backing for display. For more on nautical archaeology, see "History's 10 Greatest Wrecks."

Categories: Blog

Union Coat from the USS Monitor Conserved

Archaeology News - January 12, 2015

NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA—A pilot’s jacket recovered from the turret of the USS Monitor will soon be on display at the USS Monitor Center in southeast Virginia. The coat was discovered ten years ago, trapped in a marine concretion found inside the gun turret of the ironclad ship, which sank on March 9, 1861, during the Battle of Hampton Roads. “We’ve found all kinds of buttons inside the turret—some made of wood, some of glass, some of bone, some of rubber, some even mother-of-pearl. Clearly the sailors were just tearing their clothes off before jumping into the water—and doing it so fiercely that their buttons were popping off. This coat was left behind by one of those sailors—and it gives you a very real, very personal connection to the story of those men and this ship during its chaotic end,” Monitor Center director David Krop told The Los Angeles Times. The mass of concretion that contained the jacket was soaked to remove destabilizing chemicals and slowly removed with small hand tools and chisels. “It looks like it’s in great shape, but it’s actually pretty degraded,” added senior conservator Will Hoffman. The pieces of the coat are too fragile to be reassembled, and so have been mounted on archival backing for display. 

Categories: Blog

Hundreds of Wickiups Documented in the Rocky Mountain Region

Archaeology News - January 9, 2015

MESA COUNTY, COLORADO—The remains of hundreds of wickiups, conical-shaped dwellings built by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of southwestern Colorado, have been documented by the Forest Service and the Dominguez Archaeological Research Group, in partnership with the Ute Indian Tribe of northeastern Utah, Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes of southwestern Colorado, and other public land management agencies. “Wickiups and other aboriginal wooden features, such as tree platforms and brush fences, were once commonplace in Colorado. Few examples are still in existence; the majority of the remaining features can be associated with Ute culture and consequently represent the only surviving architecture of the state’s living indigenous peoples,” said Brian Ferebee, deputy regional forester for the Rocky Mountain Region. Metal and stone artifacts are often found at the sites, which range in age from less than 100 years to more than 200 years old. The sites are still used for ceremonial purposes today. “What we find helps us to manage these resources as part of our historic and cultural resource preservation goals,” added Molly Westby, the Rocky Mountain Region Heritage Program leader. To read about archaeological evidence of the Comanche, close neighbors and sometimes enemies of the Utes, see "Searching for the Comanche Empire."

Categories: Blog

Hundreds of Wickiups Documented in the Rocky Mountain Region

Archaeology News - January 9, 2015

MESA COUNTY, COLORADO—The remains of hundreds of wickiups, conical-shaped dwellings built by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of southwestern Colorado, have been documented by the Forest Service and the Dominguez Archaeological Research Group, in partnership with the Ute Indian Tribe of northeastern Utah, Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes of southwestern Colorado, and other public land management agencies. “Wickiups and other aboriginal wooden features, such as tree platforms and brush fences, were once commonplace in Colorado. Few examples are still in existence; the majority of the remaining features can be associated with Ute culture and consequently represent the only surviving architecture of the state’s living indigenous peoples,” said Brian Ferebee, deputy regional forester for the Rocky Mountain Region. Metal and stone artifacts are often found at the sites, which range in age from less than 100 years to more than 200 years old. The sites are still used for ceremonial purposes today. “What we find helps us to manage these resources as part of our historic and cultural resource preservation goals,” added Molly Westby, the Rocky Mountain Region Heritage Program leader. To read about archaeological evidence of the Comanche, close neighbors and sometimes enemies of the Utes, see "Searching for the Comanche Empire."

Categories: Blog

New Thoughts on the Impact of Climate Change in Neolithic China

Archaeology News - January 9, 2015

BEIJING, CHINA—It had been thought that the deserts in northern China are one million years old, but a new study of the Hunshandake Sandy Lands of Inner Mongolia suggests that its desert is only 4,000 years old. Xiaoping Yang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Louis Scuderi of the University of New Mexico, and their colleagues examined the patterns of dunes and depressions in the region and lake sediments, and they dated quartz from the region with a technique known as optically stimulated luminescence. They found that Hunshandake had deep lakes and rivers beginning some 12,000 years ago. “We’re amazed by how much water there was back then. There were very, very large lakes, and grasslands and forests. And based on all the artifacts we’ve found out there, there was clearly a very large population along the lake shores,” Scuderi told Live Science. Then some 4,200 years ago, the region rapidly dried out during a major, worldwide climatic shift that caused droughts throughout the northern hemisphere. These changes may have pushed the people of the Hongshan culture out of the remote north and into the rest of China. “An important possible line of research in the future is to figure out how important the Hongshan culture was to the development of later Chinese culture,” Scuderi explained. In fact, some of the earliest jade artifacts in the country are from Hongshan sites, yet the cradle of Chinese civilization has usually been placed in the Yellow River basin. To read about how climate change is impacting archaeological sites today, see "Climate Change: Sites in Peril."

Categories: Blog

New Thoughts on the Impact of Climate Change in Neolithic China

Archaeology News - January 9, 2015

BEIJING, CHINA—It had been thought that the deserts in northern China are one million years old, but a new study of the Hunshandake Sandy Lands of Inner Mongolia suggests that its desert is only 4,000 years old. Xiaoping Yang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Louis Scuderi of the University of New Mexico, and their colleagues examined the patterns of dunes and depressions in the region and lake sediments, and they dated quartz from the region with a technique known as optically stimulated luminescence. They found that Hunshandake had deep lakes and rivers beginning some 12,000 years ago. “We’re amazed by how much water there was back then. There were very, very large lakes, and grasslands and forests. And based on all the artifacts we’ve found out there, there was clearly a very large population along the lake shores,” Scuderi told Live Science. Then some 4,200 years ago, the region rapidly dried out during a major, worldwide climatic shift that caused droughts throughout the northern hemisphere. These changes may have pushed the people of the Hongshan culture out of the remote north and into the rest of China. “An important possible line of research in the future is to figure out how important the Hongshan culture was to the development of later Chinese culture,” Scuderi explained. In fact, some of the earliest jade artifacts in the country are from Hongshan sites, yet the cradle of Chinese civilization has usually been placed in the Yellow River basin. To read about how climate change is impacting archaeological sites today, see "Climate Change: Sites in Peril."

Categories: Blog

Workers Uncover Ancient Tomb in Bulgaria

Archaeology News - January 9, 2015

VARNA, BULGARIA—The Sofia News Agency reports that an ancient tomb was uncovered during construction work in the center of the Black Sea city of Varna. The tomb was first discovered in the beginning of the twentieth century, when it was resealed because of ongoing building projects in Nezavisimost Square. The burial spot was once located beyond the city walls of the ancient city of Odesos.

Categories: Blog

Workers Uncover Ancient Tomb in Bulgaria

Archaeology News - January 9, 2015

VARNA, BULGARIA—The Sofia News Agency reports that an ancient tomb was uncovered during construction work in the center of the Black Sea city of Varna. The tomb was first discovered in the beginning of the twentieth century, when it was resealed because of ongoing building projects in Nezavisimost Square. The burial spot was once located beyond the city walls of the ancient city of Odesos.

Categories: Blog

Calgary’s Hunt House Is Being Restored

Archaeology News - January 9, 2015

CALGARY, CANADA—A one-room log cabin constructed in the 1870s or 1880s across the Elbow River from Fort Calgary is being carefully restored. The cabin, known as Hunt House, is thought to be Calgary’s oldest building still in its original location. “It will become Fort Calgary’s most important artifact. We will use that to tell the story of Fort Calgary as a site and we will also use it to tell the story of the Hudson’s Bay Company that first arrived in Calgary,” Fort Calgary’s Cynthia Klaassen told CBC Canada. Among the artifacts recovered during the restoration and conservation process is a rolled up newspaper dating to 1890. It was discovered in the roof of the house, where it was probably placed as added insulation. A pair of shoes and a mummified rat were found under the cabin’s floor, as was a piece of wood that may have served as a child’s block. Several glass bottles from the site include one from London dating to the 1920s, and a vanilla bottle dating to the Hudson’s Bay period. 

Categories: Blog

Calgary’s Hunt House Is Being Restored

Archaeology News - January 9, 2015

CALGARY, CANADA—A one-room log cabin constructed in the 1870s or 1880s across the Elbow River from Fort Calgary is being carefully restored. The cabin, known as Hunt House, is thought to be Calgary’s oldest building still in its original location. “It will become Fort Calgary’s most important artifact. We will use that to tell the story of Fort Calgary as a site and we will also use it to tell the story of the Hudson’s Bay Company that first arrived in Calgary,” Fort Calgary’s Cynthia Klaassen told CBC Canada. Among the artifacts recovered during the restoration and conservation process is a rolled up newspaper dating to 1890. It was discovered in the roof of the house, where it was probably placed as added insulation. A pair of shoes and a mummified rat were found under the cabin’s floor, as was a piece of wood that may have served as a child’s block. Several glass bottles from the site include one from London dating to the 1920s, and a vanilla bottle dating to the Hudson’s Bay period. 

Categories: Blog

Solstice Sun Aligned With Rome’s Hardknott Castle

Archaeology News - January 8, 2015

TURIN, ITALY—The ruins of a Roman fort in England have been analyzed by Amelia Carolina Sparavigna of the Polytechnic University of Turin. One of the strongholds built by Emperor Hadrian to guard the Roman frontier, the fort sits near Hardknott Pass and offers a view of the Eskdale Valley. Live Science reports that Sparavigna used online software and satellite imagery to calculate the angles at which the solstice sun rises and sets at the fort. She found that during the summer solstice, the sun would rise in rough alignment with the fort’s northeastern and southwestern gates, and set in alignment with its northwestern and southeastern gates. During the winter solstice, the sun would rise in line with the fort’s southeastern and northwestern gates, and set in line with fort’s southwestern and northeastern gates. “Moreover, the four towers of the garrison seem aligned to cardinal directions,” Sparavigna wrote in the journal Philica. To read about the unusual culture that emerged in the north of Roman Britain, see "Artifact: Romano-British Brooch."

Categories: Blog

Solstice Sun Aligned With Rome’s Hardknott Castle

Archaeology News - January 8, 2015

TURIN, ITALY—The ruins of a Roman fort in England have been analyzed by Amelia Carolina Sparavigna of the Polytechnic University of Turin. One of the strongholds built by Emperor Hadrian to guard the Roman frontier, the fort sits near Hardknott Pass and offers a view of the Eskdale Valley. Live Science reports that Sparavigna used online software and satellite imagery to calculate the angles at which the solstice sun rises and sets at the fort. She found that during the summer solstice, the sun would rise in rough alignment with the fort’s northeastern and southwestern gates, and set in alignment with its northwestern and southeastern gates. During the winter solstice, the sun would rise in line with the fort’s southeastern and northwestern gates, and set in line with fort’s southwestern and northeastern gates. “Moreover, the four towers of the garrison seem aligned to cardinal directions,” Sparavigna wrote in the journal Philica. To read about the unusual culture that emerged in the north of Roman Britain, see "Artifact: Romano-British Brooch."

Categories: Blog

The Origin & Evolution of Corn in the Southwest

Archaeology News - January 8, 2015

DAVIS, CALIFORNIA—An international team of scientists has compared samples of DNA extracted from ancient corn cobs unearthed in the American Southwest, including the multiple stratigraphic layers of New Mexico’s Tularosa Cave. “When considered together, the results suggest that the maize of the U.S. Southwest had a complex origin, first entering the U.S. via a highland route about 4,100 years ago and later via a lowland coastal route about 2,000 years ago,” said Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra of the University of California, Davis. The genes also show that maize adapted to the arid climate of the Southwest and to the preferences of the local people. “These unique data allowed us to follow the changes occurring in individual genes through time,” Rute Fonseca of the University of Copenhagen said of the samples taken from Tularosa Cave. To read more about how agriculture developed in the ancient Southwest, see "Early Irrigators."

Categories: Blog

The Origin & Evolution of Corn in the Southwest

Archaeology News - January 8, 2015

DAVIS, CALIFORNIA—An international team of scientists has compared samples of DNA extracted from ancient corn cobs unearthed in the American Southwest, including the multiple stratigraphic layers of New Mexico’s Tularosa Cave. “When considered together, the results suggest that the maize of the U.S. Southwest had a complex origin, first entering the U.S. via a highland route about 4,100 years ago and later via a lowland coastal route about 2,000 years ago,” said Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra of the University of California, Davis. The genes also show that maize adapted to the arid climate of the Southwest and to the preferences of the local people. “These unique data allowed us to follow the changes occurring in individual genes through time,” Rute Fonseca of the University of Copenhagen said of the samples taken from Tularosa Cave. To read more about how agriculture developed in the ancient Southwest, see "Early Irrigators."

Categories: Blog

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