Roman Road & Settlements Found in Northern England

Archaeology News - April 7, 2017

NORTH YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND—According to Live Science, Historic England announced that efforts to improve the A1, a road that stretches from London to Edinburgh, have uncovered evidence of wealthy Roman settlements and sections of Dere Street, an ancient Roman roadway that followed the same route as the A1. At Scotch Corner, a well-known junction where the paths to eastern and western Scotland diverge, an excavation team from Northern Archaeological Associates discovered a settlement dating to A.D. 60. It had been thought that York and Carlisle, which date to A.D. 70, were the oldest Roman settlements in northern England. A figure of a toga-clad actor carved from amber, and more than 1,400 fragments of clay molds for making gold, silver, and copper coins, were unearthed at Scotch Corner. In addition to being the most northerly example of coin production in Europe, the molds suggest that the site was an industrial and administrative center for several decades, until it was eclipsed by the rise of Cataractonium, a leatherworking center, to the south. There, archaeologists recovered a silver snake-shaped ring, keys of various sizes, pens, a pewter ink pot, and a lead plumb bob—a tool used for building straight roads. For more on life in Roman England, go to “London’s Earliest Writing.”

Categories: Blog

Technique Directly Dates Rock Art in Southern Africa

Archaeology News - April 7, 2017

QUÉBEC, CANADA—According to a report in The International Business Times, San rock art in southern Africa has been directly dated with a technique known as accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating. This method uses a much smaller sample than traditional radiocarbon dating, and thus causes less damage to the artwork. Adelphine Bonneau of Laval University explained that the study tested rock art at 14 sites located in southeastern Botswana, western Lesotho, and South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. The team members were careful to avoid paintings made with charcoal, which could have been much older than the image itself, and to remove radiocarbon contaminants from the samples. The oldest of the paintings in the study came from Botswana and was dated to between 5,723 and 4,420 years ago. “These dates are only the beginning of these investigations, but they open up the possibility of initiating a dialogue between the art of the San and their archaeological remains,” Bonneau said. “Since the rock art reflected their spiritual world, we may get new insights on their society and the cultural and spiritual connections they shared with other tribes.” To read more about rock art, go to “The First Artists.”

Categories: Blog

Metro Construction Uncovers Possible Oldest Aqueduct in Rome

Archaeology News - April 7, 2017

ROME, ITALY—The Local, Italy, reports that a 100-foot-long section of 2,300-year-old aqueduct was discovered in Rome’s historic city center during the excavation of a ventilation shaft for the new C metro line. Archaeologist Simona Morretta said that its large stone blocks, found more than 55 feet underground—a depth that archaeologists are not normally able to access safely—may have been part of the Aqua Appia, which dates to 312 B.C and is Rome's oldest known aqueduct. By the first century B.C., however, the structure may have been used as a sewer. Excavators also recovered the remains of a wide range of animals, including wild boars, swans, pheasants, and saltwater fish. Archaeologists are dismantling the structure, but it will be rebuilt at another location. To read more on Rome's aqueducts, go to “How Much Water Reached Rome?

Categories: Blog

Did Hunger Drive Cannibalism?

Archaeology News - April 7, 2017

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND—The Guardian reports that James Cole of the University of Brighton assessed the nutritional value of the human body and found that an adult male weighing about 145 pounds would have provided about 144,000 calories, with 32,000 of those calories from skeletal muscle. That number is low when compared with the caloric values of other animals whose butchered remains are found at Paleolithic archaeological sites, such as 3,600,000 calories in the skeletal muscle of a mammoth, or 200,100 calories from a horse’s muscles. Cole thinks it would have been easier to obtain food from the saiga antelope, whose muscles contained around the same number of calories as those of humans, or small animals such as birds and hares, than from a hard-to-catch hominin. “Maybe there is more of a social driver here, not ritual specifically, but social,” he said. For more, go to “Colonial Cannibalism.”

Categories: Blog

19th-Century European Artifacts Unearthed in New Zealand

Archaeology News - April 7, 2017

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND—According to a report in The Press, artifacts and features dating to the early nineteenth century have been uncovered at a construction site on New Zealand’s South Island by an excavation team from Underground Overground Archaeology. The artifacts, which are thought to have belonged to the island’s first European residents, include a jar labeled “Russian Bears Grease” (a hair care product that was probably goose fat), a child’s knife with a bone handle inscribed with the words “for a good boy,” and a glass jar from a London pharmacist. All of these objects appear to date to the 1840s. A decorated mason jug, probably made in the 1820s, may have been brought to the island from England as a family heirloom. The team has also found a well, walls, and a rubbish pit. Archaeologist Hamish Williams said the team is researching historic records to find out what sort of building once stood on the site. To read about a recent discovery in Australia, go to “Death by Boomerang.”

Categories: Blog

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