When Did Modern Humans Arrive in India?

Archaeology News - February 2, 2018

CHENNAI, INDIA—According to a Washington Post report, thousands of stone tools spanning a period of one million years have been unearthed at Attirampakkam, a site in southern India. No hominin remains were found at the site, so researchers led by archaeologist Shanti Pappu of the Sharma Center for Heritage Education do not know who crafted the tools. The oldest implements are blunt Acheulean hand axes, which are thought to have been made by the first hominins to leave Africa. Stone points that may have been affixed to projectiles have also been recovered, and are thought to belong to the Levallois culture. These tools, dated to between 385,000 and 172,000 years ago, are associated with the ability to think abstractly and plan ahead. It had previously been thought that Levallois tools were first made in India by modern humans some 100,000 years ago. “We hope this will be a jumping-off point for a new look at regions like India,” Pappu said. For more, go to “Letter from India: Living Heritage at Risk.”

Categories: Blog

Range of Artifacts Found in Jerusalem Hills

Archaeology News - February 1, 2018

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—The Times of Israel reports that excavations at Ein Hanya, which is located at the site of a spring in the Judean Hills, have uncovered a system of Byzantine-era pools, a column capital dating to the First Temple era, and a Greek coin dating to the fourth century B.C. Irina Zilberbod of the Israel Antiquities Authority said a pool surrounded by roofed colonnades had been placed at the foot of a church in the center of a complex of buildings. It may have been used for irrigation, washing, landscaping, or even Christian baptismal ceremonies, she explained. Coins, pottery, glass, roof tiles, and multicolored mosaic pieces dating to the Byzantine era were also recovered. Water from the pool drained through a network of channels into a fountain, or nymphaeum. The 2,400-year-old column discovered at the site suggests it may have once been home to a royal estate. The rare coin, a silver drachma, is one of the oldest found in the region. To read about another recent discovery in Israel, go to “Reading Invisible Messages.”

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1,000-Year-Old Hunting Weapon Found in Melting Yukon Ice

Archaeology News - February 1, 2018

CARCROSS, CANADA—CBC News reports that a barbed antler arrow point with a copper end blade discovered in melting ice last summer has been radiocarbon dated to 936 years ago. Yukon archaeologist Greg Hare discovered the hunting artifact in an area frequented by caribou during the summers on the traditional territory of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation. The blade had been pointed into the earth, with the arrow half buried in ice, as if it had just been shot from a bow. “This is one of the oldest copper elements that we [have] ever found in the Yukon,” Hare said. The copper used to make the weapon was locally sourced, probably from a creek in southwest Yukon. Hare explained that in addition to representing the development of metallurgy in the Yukon, the arrow also marks the period when First Nations hunters were changing from atlatl (throwing dart) technology to bows and arrows. He thinks it may have taken two weeks to make the artifact, and that it would have been a significant loss for the hunter. For more, go to “Where the Ice Age Caribou Ranged.”

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Ancient Shell Midden Uncovered in British Columbia

Archaeology News - January 31, 2018

WHITE ROCK, CANADA—The Vancouver Sun reports that an ancient midden made up of shell, charcoal, and animal bones has been discovered in British Columbia. Joanne Charles, a council member of the Semiahmoo First Nation, said oral history marks the site, which has been disturbed by construction, as an ancient village. The site is currently part of the city of White Rock’s Memorial Park. “The midden was found when they started digging to locate the utility lines to the washrooms,” she said. An archaeological impact assessment will be conducted, and cultural monitors from the Semiahmoo and Tsawwassen First Nations have been brought onto the project to evaluate the situation before the expansion of the park resumes. For more on archaeology in British Columbia, go to “Coast over Corridor.”

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Bronze Age Skeleton Found in Northeast England

Archaeology News - January 31, 2018

NORTHUMBERLAND, ENGLAND—BBC News reports that skeletal remains were found in a burial cist on farmland in northeast England. The body and a beaker had been placed in the stone-lined grave and covered with what appears to be a horsehair blanket. Sanita Nezirovic of the University of Derby evaluated the bones. She thinks they belonged to a young man who was between the ages of 17 and 21 when he died some 3,500 years ago, and added that his teeth were in good condition. “The shape of his head is beautiful, and you can see from the teeth he would have had a perfect smile,” she said. Nezirovic also noted that he probably stood somewhere between five feet, six inches, and five feet, nine inches tall. For more, go to “Bronze Age Traveler.”

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Two-Bladed Knife Unearthed at Polish Castle Site

Archaeology News - January 31, 2018

PASYM, POLAND—Science in Poland reports that a rotary knife that may have been used by a medieval scribe was found in a hearth in a building at a castle site in northern Poland. The four-inch-long knife has two blades and is estimated to date to the eighth or ninth centuries A.D. “No similar object has been found in Poland until now,” said Slawomir Wadyl of the University of Warsaw. Similar knives have been found in the British Isles, Frisia, and Norway, however, and have been depicted in illustrations of scribes. But such knives may also have been used by other types of craftspeople. Evidence of antler processing was also found in the building where the knife was discovered. For more, go to “Off the Grid: Krakow, Poland.”

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2,200-Year Old Department of Music Found in China

Archaeology News - January 30, 2018

XI’AN, CHINA—Xinhua News Agency reports that a Qin-Dynasty office building has been uncovered in northwest China. The building’s four rooms had clay walls measuring nearly ten feet thick, possibly made from tiles and bricks. According to Xu Weihong of the Shaanxi Province Research Institute of Archaeology, 23 pieces of chime debris inscribed with the word “beigongyuefu,” which translates to “musical department of the north palace,” have been recovered. Evidence of fire was also found in the structure, but two of the building’s rooms were empty, possibly suggesting that the building was looted and then burned during the uprising that ended the Qin Dynasty in 207 B.C. To read about another recent discovery in China, go to “Underground Party.”

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Medieval Chess Piece Unearthed in Southern Norway

Archaeology News - January 30, 2018

TØNSBERG, NORWAY—According to a Live Science report, a game piece recovered from a thirteenth-century house in southern Norway is believed to be a knight from a shatranj, or ancient chess set, since it is carved with circles on the bottom, sides, and top, and a protruding snout bearing dotted circles, causing it to resemble a horse. Archaeologists from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research suspect some lead inside the thimble-shaped piece of carved antler helps it to stand upright. Lars Haugesten, project manager of the excavation, says similar game pieces are found in Arabia, where chess was first played in the seventh century. In addition, a twelfth-century chess piece has been found in Lund, Sweden. For more, go to “The Church that Transformed Norway.”

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Two Well-Preserved Shipwrecks Discovered in Baltic Sea

Archaeology News - January 30, 2018

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN—According to a report in The Local, two wooden shipwrecks have been found in the Baltic Sea, near Sweden. One of the vessels is thought to be a single-masted cog dating to the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries. The other ship, thought to date to the sixteenth century, was carrying 20 barrels of osmond iron, a type of wrought iron, and tar when it sank. Maritime archaeologist Jim Hansson said he had never seen such well-preserved shipwrecks. They will be featured in a new maritime museum in Stockholm. To read in-depth about discoveries on the Swedish island of Gotland, go to “Hoards of the Vikings.”

Categories: Blog

Fourth-Century B.C. Crown Repatriated to Turkey

Archaeology News - January 30, 2018

ANKARA, TURKEY—Hurriyet Daily  News reports that an ancient gold crown, stolen from the Aegean site of Milas, has been returned to Turkey. The 2,400-year-old crown is said to have been taken from the burial chamber of Hecatomnus in 2008. It was found in Edinburgh, Scotland, two years later, when Scottish police pursued a lead from auction house officials. In addition, a sixteenth-century Quran is in the process of being recovered. “We will not stop pursuing the artifacts that belong to our country,” said Numan Kurtulmuş, Turkey’s culture and tourism minister. The crown will be put on display at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara. To read about a discovery in Turkey, go to “Let a Turtle Be Your Psychopomp.”

Categories: Blog

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