New Research Suggests Neanderthals a Separate Species

Archaeology News - November 19, 2014

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—A new study of the Neanderthal nasal complex suggests that Neanderthals were a distinct species separate from modern humans. Rather than comparing Neanderthal noses to those of modern Europeans and the Inuit, whose nasal complexes are adapted to cold and temperate climates, the scientists, led by Samuel Márquez of SUNY Downstate Medical Center, examined the nasal regions of diverse modern human population groups with 3-D coordinate data and CT imaging. They found that the Neanderthal upper respiratory tracts had a mosaic of features not found among any population of modern humans as a result of a separate evolutionary history. “The strength of this new research lies in its taking the totality of the Neanderthal nasal complex into account, rather than looking at a single feature. By looking at the complete morphological pattern, we can conclude that Neanderthals are our close relatives, but they are not us,” team member Jeffrey T. Laitman of the Icahn School of Medicine and the Center for Anatomy and Functional Morphology told Science Daily. To read more about Neanderthal genetics, see "Should We Clone Neanderthals?"

Categories: Blog

New Research Suggests Neanderthals a Separate Species

Archaeology News - November 19, 2014

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—A new study of the Neanderthal nasal complex suggests that Neanderthals were a distinct species separate from modern humans. Rather than comparing Neanderthal noses to those of modern Europeans and the Inuit, whose nasal complexes are adapted to cold and temperate climates, the scientists, led by Samuel Márquez of SUNY Downstate Medical Center, examined the nasal regions of diverse modern human population groups with 3-D coordinate data and CT imaging. They found that the Neanderthal upper respiratory tracts had a mosaic of features not found among any population of modern humans as a result of a separate evolutionary history. “The strength of this new research lies in its taking the totality of the Neanderthal nasal complex into account, rather than looking at a single feature. By looking at the complete morphological pattern, we can conclude that Neanderthals are our close relatives, but they are not us,” team member Jeffrey T. Laitman of the Icahn School of Medicine and the Center for Anatomy and Functional Morphology told Science Daily.

Categories: Blog

Egyptian Tomb-Builders’ Bones Studied

Archaeology News - November 19, 2014

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA—The bones of the skilled Egyptian workers who lived in the village of Deir el-Medina show that they worked under grueling conditions in the Valley of the Kings, but written records indicate that they could take a paid sick day or receive a free checkup. Osteoarchaeologist Anne Austin of Stanford University has compared those records to the skeletal evidence to get a better idea of how the tomb-builders lived. She saw the stress of the climb from the village to the Valley of the Kings in the form of arthritis in knees and ankles. In one case, she found evidence in the bones of a blood-borne infection, along with signs that the man continued to work while he was sick. “Rather than take time off, for whatever reason, he kept going,” she said. In another case, the remains of a young man with a disabled leg showed “no signs of other health issues, or of having lived a hard life. That suggests to me that they found a role for him in this community even though the predominant role, of working in the tombs, could not be met.” To read about how workers in the Valley of the Kings kept time, see "Artifact: A 19th-Dynasty Sundial."

Categories: Blog

Egyptian Tomb-Builders’ Bones Studied

Archaeology News - November 19, 2014

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA—The bones of the skilled Egyptian workers who lived in the village of Deir el-Medina show that they worked under grueling conditions in the Valley of the Kings, but written records indicate that they could take a paid sick day or receive a free checkup. Osteoarchaeologist Anne Austin of Stanford University has compared those records to the skeletal evidence to get a better idea of how the tomb-builders lived. She saw the stress of the climb from the village to the Valley of the Kings in the form of arthritis in knees and ankles. In one case, she found evidence in the bones of a blood-borne infection, along with signs that the man continued to work while he was sick. “Rather than take time off, for whatever reason, he kept going,” she said. In another case, the remains of a young man with a disabled leg showed “no signs of other health issues, or of having lived a hard life. That suggests to me that they found a role for him in this community even though the predominant role, of working in the tombs, could not be met.” 

Categories: Blog

Family Stele Unearthed near the Sacred Way

Archaeology News - November 19, 2014

ATHENS, GREECE—According to The Greek Reporter, part of a carved marble grave stele dating to 400 B.C. was unearthed in the Kerameikos area of Athens by a team of scientists from the German Archaeological Institute at Athens and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Athens. The figures on the stone, which is carved with the name “Dimostratos,” depict a woman sitting with a girl and another woman with a bearded man in the background. Scholars think the stele may have originally been placed in the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos near the Sacred Gate, but was reused later as a door sill and then as a sewer cover under the Sacred Way in the sixth century A.D. To read about an eighth-century B.C. funerary stele unearthed in Turkey, see "Kuttamuwa's Soul."

Categories: Blog

Family Stele Unearthed near the Sacred Way

Archaeology News - November 19, 2014

ATHENS, GREECE—According to The Greek Reporter, part of a carved marble grave stele dating to 400 B.C. was unearthed in the Kerameikos area of Athens by a team of scientists from the German Archaeological Institute at Athens and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Athens. The figures on the stone, which is carved with the name “Dimostratos,” depict a woman sitting with a girl and another woman with a bearded man in the background. Scholars think the stele may have originally been placed in the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos near the Sacred Gate, but was reused later as a door sill and then as a sewer cover under the Sacred Way in the sixth century A.D. 

Categories: Blog

China’s Terra Cotta Army May Have Been Modeled on Real Soldiers

Archaeology News - November 18, 2014

XIAN, CHINA—Were the 7,000 soldiers of the Terracotta Army modeled after individual soldiers? Archaeologists from the University College London and Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum Site Museum have used imaging technology to create 3-D models of the left ears of 30 model warriors. Human ear shapes, like fingerprints, are unique enough to identify individuals. Statistical analysis of the measurements of the 3-D ears shows that no two ears in the sample group were exactly the same. “Based on this initial sample, the terra-cotta army looks like a series of portraits of real warriors,” archaeologist Marcos Martinón-Torres of the University College London told National Geographic News. The team members of the project, known as Imperial Logistics: The Making of the Terracotta Army, is now analyzing a larger sample of statue ears and other facial features.

Categories: Blog

China’s Terra Cotta Army May Have Been Modeled on Real Soldiers

Archaeology News - November 18, 2014

XIAN, CHINA—Were the 7,000 soldiers of the Terracotta Army modeled after individual soldiers? Archaeologists from the University College London and Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum Site Museum have used imaging technology to create 3-D models of the left ears of 30 model warriors. Human ear shapes, like fingerprints, are unique enough to identify individuals. Statistical analysis of the measurements of the 3-D ears shows that no two ears in the sample group were exactly the same. “Based on this initial sample, the terra-cotta army looks like a series of portraits of real warriors,” archaeologist Marcos Martinón-Torres of the University College London told National Geographic News. The team members of the project, known as Imperial Logistics: The Making of the Terracotta Army, is now analyzing a larger sample of statue ears and other facial features.

Categories: Blog

Town Creek Indian Mound Was Once an Active Village

Archaeology News - November 18, 2014

GREENVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA—New excavations at Town Creek Indian Mound by archaeologist Tony Boudreaux of East Carolina University challenge the idea that the site served strictly as a ceremonial center inhabited by priests and visited once a year by local people. “Early on, when the Mississippian community was first founded, there seemed to be a village of at least ten houses, maybe more. There was no mound yet. There were public buildings in the area where the mound would be built,” Boudreaux explained to The News Observer. He suggests that as the residents died, they were buried in the floors of their homes until the area became a cemetery containing the remains of more than 500 people. Eventually the mound and the temple on top of it were constructed. “That’s the place where the ancestors live, where the chief is on the mound performing ceremonial activities that will help keep the universe spinning,” he said. To read about a recent discovery near Cahokia, see "Mississippian Burning."

Categories: Blog

Town Creek Indian Mound Was Once an Active Village

Archaeology News - November 18, 2014

GREENVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA—New excavations at Town Creek Indian Mound by archaeologist Tony Boudreaux of East Carolina University challenge the idea that the site served strictly as a ceremonial center inhabited by priests and visited once a year by local people. “Early on, when the Mississippian community was first founded, there seemed to be a village of at least ten houses, maybe more. There was no mound yet. There were public buildings in the area where the mound would be built,” Boudreaux explained to The News Observer. He suggests that as the residents died, they were buried in the floors of their homes until the area became a cemetery containing the remains of more than 500 people. Eventually the mound and the temple on top of it were constructed. “That’s the place where the ancestors live, where the chief is on the mound performing ceremonial activities that will help keep the universe spinning,” he said. 

Categories: Blog

Ten Unfinished Vases Found in Pompeii

Archaeology News - November 18, 2014

NAPLES, ITALY—The excavation of a pottery workshop near Pompeii’s Herculaneum gate has revealed ten vases that were dropped and abandoned at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius on August 24, 79 A.D. “They are really unique items. The potters made them with clay, embellished them with decorations, and were ready to place them into the kiln when Vesuvius erupted,” dig director Laëtitia Cavassa of the Center Jean Bérard told Discovery News. Covered and sealed in a layer of ash, the workshop had at least three rooms outfitted with tools and pottery wheels and two kilns. To read about recent work at one of the most iconic sites in Pompeii, see "Saving the Villa of the Mysteries."

Categories: Blog

Ten Unfinished Vases Found in Pompeii

Archaeology News - November 18, 2014

NAPLES, ITALY—The excavation of a pottery workshop near Pompeii’s Herculaneum gate has revealed ten vases that were dropped and abandoned at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius on August 24, 79 A.D. “They are really unique items. The potters made them with clay, embellished them with decorations, and were ready to place them into the kiln when Vesuvius erupted,” dig director Laëtitia Cavassa of the Center Jean Bérard told Discovery News. Covered and sealed in a layer of ash, the workshop had at least three rooms outfitted with tools and pottery wheels and two kilns.

Categories: Blog

Moccasins Shed Light on Utah’s Promontory Culture

Archaeology News - November 18, 2014

EDMONTON, ALBERTA—Jack Ives of the University of Alberta has led a study of the hundreds of well-preserved moccasins recovered from Utah’s Promontory Caves, on the shore of Great Salt Lake. The moccasins were unearthed during excavations in the 1930s, and more recently by Ives and his colleagues. The soles of the footwear are made from a single piece of bison leather, lined with fur, and sewn together at the heel. This style is typical of the Canadian Subarctic, which is “decidedly out of place in the eastern Great Basin,” Ives told Western Digs. His team measured 207 moccasins, worn over a period of one or two generations some 850 years ago, and estimated the age and stature of their owners, based on known anatomical ratios. They found that more than 80 percent of the moccasins were worn by children aged 12 and under. “These numerous moccasins are telling us about the structure of the population, not necessarily specific numbers. But you can see that children and sub-adults are a very big part of the population,” he explained. The number of children suggests that this population was “thriving,” in spite of the drying climate and shifting social landscapes. For more on the migration of people from the Canadia Subarctic to the Southwest, see "Who Were the Anasazi?"

Categories: Blog

Moccasins Shed Light on Utah’s Promontory Culture

Archaeology News - November 18, 2014

EDMONTON, ALBERTA—Jack Ives of the University of Alberta has led a study of the hundreds of well-preserved moccasins recovered from Utah’s Promontory Caves, on the shore of Great Salt Lake. The moccasins were unearthed during excavations in the 1930s, and more recently by Ives and his colleagues. The soles of the footwear are made from a single piece of bison leather, lined with fur, and sewn together at the heel. This style is typical of the Canadian Subarctic, which is “decidedly out of place in the eastern Great Basin,” Ives told Western Digs. His team measured 207 moccasins, worn over a period of one or two generations some 850 years ago, and estimated the age and stature of their owners, based on known anatomical ratios. They found that more than 80 percent of the moccasins were worn by children aged 12 and under. “These numerous moccasins are telling us about the structure of the population, not necessarily specific numbers. But you can see that children and sub-adults are a very big part of the population,” he explained. The number of children suggests that this population was “thriving,” in spite of the drying climate and shifting social landscapes. For more on the migration of people from the Canadia Subarctic to the Southwest, see "Who Were the Anasazi?"

Categories: Blog

Amphipolis Research Will Take Months

Archaeology News - November 17, 2014

AMPHIPOLIS, GREECE—Lina Mendoni of the Greek Culture Ministry announced that most of the field work at the Amphipolis tomb has been completed, but archaeologists have plenty of work to do to analyze what they have found. For example, it could take more than eight months to complete tests on the human remains. According to a report in eKathimerini, the research has not yet been assigned to a university or other organization. To read about the search for Alexander the Great's tomb, see "In Search of History's Lost Rulers."

Categories: Blog

Amphipolis Research Will Take Months

Archaeology News - November 17, 2014

AMPHIPOLIS, GREECE—Lina Mendoni of the Greek Culture Ministry announced that most of the field work at the Amphipolis tomb has been completed, but archaeologists have plenty of work to do to analyze what they have found. For example, it could take more than eight months to complete tests on the human remains. According to a report in eKathimerini, the research has not yet been assigned to a university or other organization. To read about the search for Alexander the Great's tomb, see "In Search of History's Lost Rulers."

Categories: Blog

Turkish & Italian Archaeologists Dig at Karkemish

Archaeology News - November 17, 2014

BOLOGNA, ITALY—Nicolo Marchetti of the University of Bologna is project director of the excavation at Karkemish, a 5,000-year-old city located along the Turkey-Syria border. About one-third of the site lies inside Syria and is off-limits. The site is also very close to Jarablous, a Syrian city that is now ISIS-controlled territory. “Still, we have had no problem at all.…We work in a military area. It is very well protected,” Marchetti told the Associated Press. This year his team has recovered sculptures from the palace of King Katuwa that date to 900 B.C., and a 700 B.C. mosaic floor in the palace of Sargon II. They also examined the ruins of the expedition house used by Lawrence of Arabia between 1911 and 1914. Karkemish could open to tourists next spring.

Categories: Blog

Turkish & Italian Archaeologists Dig at Karkemish

Archaeology News - November 17, 2014

BOLOGNA, ITALY—Nicolo Marchetti of the University of Bologna is project director of the excavation at Karkemish, a 5,000-year-old city located along the Turkey-Syria border. About one-third of the site lies inside Syria and is off-limits. The site is also very close to Jarablous, a Syrian city that is now ISIS-controlled territory. “Still, we have had no problem at all.…We work in a military area. It is very well protected,” Marchetti told the Associated Press. This year his team has recovered sculptures from the palace of King Katuwa that date to 900 B.C., and a 700 B.C. mosaic floor in the palace of Sargon II. They also examined the ruins of the expedition house used by Lawrence of Arabia between 1911 and 1914. Karkemish could open to tourists next spring.

Categories: Blog

Anglo-Saxon Cemetery Unearthed in Suffolk

Archaeology News - November 17, 2014

EXNING, ENGLAND—Twenty-one skeletons have been recovered from 20 burials found in eastern England. The Anglo-Saxon burials also contained a spear, a glass bowl, gold-plated brooches, a cloak pin, and a dagger. “We were very lucky they had survived because they were less than a foot down and the land had been plowed very recently,” Andrew Peachey of Archaeological Solutions told The Cambridge News. Additional testing will attempt to determine the age and sex of the skeletons. The site is slated for development. To read more about Anglo-Saxons, see "The Kings of Kent."

Categories: Blog

Anglo-Saxon Cemetery Unearthed in Suffolk

Archaeology News - November 17, 2014

EXNING, ENGLAND—Twenty-one skeletons have been recovered from 20 burials found in eastern England. The Anglo-Saxon burials also contained a spear, a glass bowl, gold-plated brooches, a cloak pin, and a dagger. “We were very lucky they had survived because they were less than a foot down and the land had been plowed very recently,” Andrew Peachey of Archaeological Solutions told The Cambridge News. Additional testing will attempt to determine the age and sex of the skeletons. The site is slated for development. To read more about Anglo-Saxons, see "The Kings of Kent."

Categories: Blog

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