ASHKELON, ISRAEL—The Jerusalem Post reports that an Ottoman-era fisherman’s house and a lookout tower have been uncovered on the Mediterranean coastline by archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority, who were assisted by boys and girls who live in the area. Excavation directors Federico Kobrin and Haim Mamliya said that the house had three rooms, and contained metal fish hooks, lead weights, a large bronze bell, and a stone anchor. Its door was placed on the north side of the building, presumably to keep wind and sea water out. The tower, situated on a hilltop, may have served as a lighthouse. To read about another recent discovery on the coast of Israel, go to "Sun and Moon."
LEIPZIG, GERMANY—Science reports that Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology zooarchaeologist Angela Perri surveyed excavations of prehistoric sites in Japan for evidence that early dogs helped people to hunt. She focused on the hunter-gatherers of the Jōmon culture who lived off the dense forest on the east coast of the island of Honshu, and found that beginning about 9,000 years ago, the Jōmon buried their dogs in shell middens in much the same way that they buried human hunters. Some of the 110 dog burials in the literature provided evidence of broken legs and teeth, injuries that the dogs may have sustained while hunting. And some of those injuries had healed, suggesting that humans had cared for the dogs. But after the Jōmon began farming about 2,500 years ago, dog remains appeared in the archaeological record as random piles of bones, and sometimes were even butchered. Perri suggests that the Jōmon revered dogs while they served a valued purpose as hunting companions, but when they were no longer needed to flush prey out of the forest cover and protect human hunters, dogs may have become a source of food. Jōmon groups located to the north and the south of Honshu, and who lived on foods from the sea, treated dogs like food all along, she added. To read in-depth about dogs in the archaeological record, go to "More Than Man's Best Friend."
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA—WUWF.com reports that a team led by archaeologist John Worth of the University of West Florida has found a large garbage pit at the site of Spanish colonist Tristan de Luna’s 1559 settlement in the western Florida Panhandle. One month after de Luna’s arrival, a hurricane destroyed most of the expedition’s ships and supplies. So far, the team members have recovered a deer antler and the remains of shellfish, conk, oysters, and scallops, which suggests the 1,500 Spaniards in the expedition hunted and fished for food. The pit also contained pieces of iron from the straps and hoops of wooden barrels. Worth thinks de Luna’s men may have recycled the iron for nails, or may have traded it for food with local Native Americans. The team has also found floor surfaces and post molds from structures, and a balance scale weight that may have been used by the expedition’s treasurer to weigh pay for the soldiers. The hurricane “may have even changed the entire history of the continent, by altering what could have been a successful Luna Expedition, and which would never have led to St. Augustine and never have led to the southeast becoming dominated by the English,” Worth said. For more, go to "Letter from Florida: People of the White Earth."
ANTIKYTHERA, GREECE—Nature reports that a set of human remains has been found at the site of the Antikythera shipwreck, known for the discovery of a clockwork device thought to have been used to track the motions of celestial bodies some 2,100 years ago. The remains of at least four people were recovered at the site in the 1970s. The newly discovered bones, which are red in color due to corroded iron artifacts at the site, include a partial skull with a jaw and several teeth, long bones from the arms and legs, and ribs. They were found under about 18 inches of sand and pieces of pottery by underwater archaeologists from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Over the years, the sand and debris protected the remains from hungry fish and sea currents. Hannes Schroeder of the Natural History Museum of Denmark says that the size and condition of the bones suggest that they belonged to a young man. Schroeder also explained that both petrous bones—small, dense bones located behind the ear—have been recovered by the excavation team. “If there’s any DNA, then from what we know, it’ll be there,” he said. To read about another underwater discovery in Greek waters, go to "The City That Wasn’t."
OKINAWA, JAPAN—CNN reports that a team of Japanese researchers led by Masaki Fujita of the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum has found 23,000-year-old fish hooks made from sea snail shells in Sakitari Cave, located on the south side of the island of Okinawa. These fish hooks are older than hooks unearthed on Timor, which are thought to be at least 16,000 years old, and hooks found in Papua New Guinea, which have been dated to at least 18,000 years ago. The team also found evidence that early inhabitants of Okinawa cooked and ate frogs, birds, small mammals, eels, and perhaps even lobster. Human skeletal remains, beads, and an artifact that may be a grindstone have also been found in the cave. "We found fish and human bones that dated back some 30,000 to 35,000 years," Fujita said. "We don't know what kind of tools were used to catch these fish, but we're hoping to find some even older fishing tools." For more on the history of fishing, go to "Off With Their Heads."
POZNAŃ, POLAND—A report in Science & Scholarship in Poland describes a 5,000-year-old burial discovered and reconstructed by a team led by Danuta Żurkiewicz of Adam Mickiewicz University. Żurkiewicz said the evidence suggests the people buried in this cemetery, located on what is now the border between Ukraine and Moldova, were nomads who built monumental burial mounds. One mound in particular contained the remains of a man who stood over six feet tall. “This is not a typical height for the contemporary community. The man had to stand out with his stature,” Żurkiewicz explained. His body had been placed on a woven mat in a rectangular pit with a wooden roof that was covered with four limestone slabs. Analysis of the man’s bones suggests that he died between 35 and 50 years of age, and that he suffered from spinal degeneration, perhaps brought on by frequent horseback riding. To read about another group of nomads, go to "Rites of the Scythians."
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS—WCVB.com reports that an excavation in the Washington Garden at Boston’s Old North Church has recovered artifacts reflecting the lives of English, Irish, Jewish, and Italian immigrants in the nineteenth century. City archaeologist Joseph Bagley said that the artifacts, which include pottery, toys, a clay pipe emblazoned with a shamrock, wooden clothespins, animal bones, religious figurines, and medicine bottles were recovered from a tenement privy. To read about another discovery in a privy, go to "World’s Oldest Pretzels."
CHELMSFORD, ENGLAND—Essex Live reports that the archaeological investigation of a proposed development site in eastern England has uncovered a lime kiln thought to have been used between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Lime produced in the kiln by burning limestone or chalk would have been used in mortar, concrete, and plaster. The excavation team, made up of researchers from AECOM and Oxford Archaeology East, suggests that the kiln may have provided supplies for Henry VIII’s renovation of a nearby estate, which he called the Palace of Beaulieu. The building is now known as New Hall and is occupied by a school. For more on archaeology in England, go to "The Prisoners of Richmond Castle."
SILKEBORG, DENMARK—Science Nordic reports that archaeologists found a 3,000-year-old clay pot in central Jutland that appears to have been discarded after a recipe burned. Kaj F. Rasmussen of Museum Silkeborg said that the pot, found intact in a waste pit, contained a white-yellow crust, rather than the black, burned starch that is usually found in ancient cooking pots. A sample of the residue was analyzed with mass spectrometry by Mads Chr. Christensen of the Danish National Museum. The results suggest that the crusty substance was burned bovine fat, perhaps curds from making hard cheese. “I cannot help but wonder if someone had a guilty conscience. It’s well and truly burnt and must have smelt terrible,” Rasmussen said. To read about another discovery in Denmark, go to "Bronze Age Traveler."
STÖðVARFJÖðDUR, ICELAND—Iceland Review reports that excavations in Iceland’s East Fjords, led by archaeologist Bjarni F. Einarsson, have uncovered a longhouse that has been dated to as early as the year 800, some 70 years earlier than Iceland’s first permanent Nordic settler was thought to have arrived. Bjarni explained that the longhouse was built in the Nordic style, and its location is near a good harbor facing Norway and the British Isles. He thinks the building may have served as an outpost occupied on a seasonal basis to harvest natural resources. For more, go to "Iceland’s Young Migrant."
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Live Science reports that Jeffrey Splitstoser of the George Washington University and Jan Wouters of University College London used high-performance liquid chromatography to detect indigo in pieces of multi-colored cotton fabric from Peru’s Huaca Prieta, a temple made of layers of a concrete-like material made from ash, shells, and sand. The oldest scrap of blue fabric is thought to be at least 6,200 years old. When the temple was excavated in 2007 and 2008, archaeologists Tom Dillehay and Duccio Bonavia found that as the temple was renovated between 6,200 and 4,000 years ago, pieces of woven cotton in bundles were sealed in the layers of concrete-like material along a ramp to the top of the structure. The blue color of the textiles appeared when conservators washed away the ash. The first chemical analyses of the samples did not detect any indigo, which produces almost all blue dye in nature, so Splitstoser contacted Wouters, who conducted tests with the more sensitive technique. “That’s when we realized that we had the world’s oldest indigo, by far,” Splitstoser said. To read about use of an early artificial blue pigment, go to "Hidden Blues."
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA—Live Science reports that a team of researchers discovered two marble statues representing the goddess Aphrodite, or Venus, at Petra, the ancient Nabataean capital. The team is codirected by Tom Parker, of North Carolina State University, and Megan Perry, of East Carolina State University. Working in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, the team has been excavating in a previously unexplored area of the city known as the North Ridge, where non-elite residents are thought to have lived. Most of the pieces of the Roman-style statues, which date to the second century A.D., have been recovered, and they still retain traces of paint. One of the statues is still attached to its base and a figure of Cupid. The statues were found in a first-century villa complete with a bath complex that may have been abandoned and later used for debris storage after an earthquake in A.D. 363. Coins and pottery helped the archaeologists determine that the statues were probably placed in the building late in the fourth century. “The statues were packed in pretty tight—I think that’s what preserved them in such extraordinary condition,” Parker said. For more, go to "Mystery Buildings at Petra."
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—Ynetnews.com reports that a scale weight dating to the Second Temple period has been found in the Old City, at the site where the nineteenth-century Tiferet Israel Synagogue was located. Oren Gutfield of Hebrew University said that the weight is carved with two lines of text in Aramaic, which have not been fully translated, but are said to include the family name of a high priest. The weight was found beneath a burned layer thought to represent the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Artifacts from the Ottoman, Mamluk, Byzantine, and First Temple periods have also been recovered. For more, go to "The Gates of Gath."
ZADAR, CROATIA—Total Croatia News reports that after a sunbather removed an uncomfortable rock from beneath her towel at Kolovare Beach and tossed it away from her, swimmers Dejan Filipčić, who studied archaeology, and Hrvoje Mijić, a geographer, picked it up. They saw that the "rock" was actually a statuette of the Roman goddess Diana thought to date to the second century A.D., when there was a Roman colony along the Dalmatian Coast. Filipčić said that fingerprints are still visible on the back of the figurine, likely left behind by the artist who made it. The figurine is missing its head, which may have broken off or been dissolved by the sea, he added. To read about more recently discovered Roman-era figurines, go to "Sun and Moon."
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA—Live Science reports that a gold coin bearing the image the Roman Emperor Nero has been discovered near the ruins of a first-century villa on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion. Archaeologist Shimon Gibson of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, said that the villa is in the priestly and aristocratic quarter in the Upper City of Jerusalem. His team has also uncovered the villa’s well-preserved rooms; a mikveh, or Jewish ritual pool; and a bathroom. Gibson thinks the coin, which dates to A.D. 56, may have been lost and the villa destroyed in A.D. 70, when the Romans sacked the city. To read about Nero's lavish imperial palace, go to "Golden House of an Emperor."
LIMA, PERU—Peru This Week reports that the remains of an additional ten dogs, two guinea pigs, and a person from the pre-Incan culture of Lima were found on the grounds of the Parque de las Leyendas zoo this year. “The cuy (guinea pig) of the Andes was a very important food source, and these dogs were buried next to their owners to serve as guides to reach the afterlife,” said archaeologist Lucénida Carrion. She added that some of the dogs had brown fur, while the guinea pigs were black. The dogs were wearing leashes and their legs had been tied. To read about another recent discovery in Peru, go to "Women in a Temple of Death."
VANCOUVER, CANADA—A team from the Arctic Research Foundation claims to have found the wreckage of HMS Terror about 31 miles from the site where the wreckage of HMS Erebus was discovered in 2014, according to a report in The Guardian. Both ships and all 128 members of Sir John Franklin’s expedition to search for the fabled Northwest Passage to Asia were lost in 1848. The ship thought to be Terror was found standing upright and in pristine condition in Terror Bay, near the coast of King William Island, after Sammy Kogvik, a Canadian Ranger and Inuk hunter, told operations director Adrian Schimnowski that he had spotted what looked like a large pole—perhaps a ship’s mast—sticking up out of the sea ice while snowmobiling. The location is about 60 miles from the area where historians thought Terror had been crushed by ice. “Given the location of the find and the state of the wreck, it’s almost certain that HMS Terror was operationally closed down by the remaining crew who then re-boarded HMS Erebus and sailed south where they met their ultimate tragic fate,” said philanthropist Jim Balsillie, founder of the Arctic Research Foundation. Parks Canada has not yet confirmed the identity of the ship. For more on the discovery of Erebus, go to "Franklin’s Last Voyage."
STANFORD, CALIFORNIA—The Daily Sabah reports that an intact female figure carved from marble was recently unearthed at Çatalhöyük by a team of archaeologists led by Ian Hodder of Stanford University. Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced that the statue dates to between 8000 and 5500 B.C., measures about 6.7 inches long, and weighs about two pounds. For more on archaeology in Turkey, go to "Zeugma After the Flood."
BOLZANO, ITALY—The Telegraph reports that a snowshoe discovered on the Gurgler Eisjoch glacier at an altitude of about 10,000 feet has been dated to between 3800 and 3700 B.C. The snowshoe, made of birch wood, was found by cartographer Simone Bartolini of Italy’s Military Geographical Institute in 2003 while he was mapping the border with Austria. Bartolini says that he thought the snowshoe might have been about 100 years old, but he recently realized that it could be much older and handed it over to archaeologists. The new date suggests that the snowshoe is about 500 years older than the frozen mummy known as Ötzi the Iceman, who was found in the same region about 25 years ago. Catrin Marzoli, director of the cultural heritage department for South Tyrol province, said at a press conference that the shoe is further evidence that well-equipped people were traveling through the Alps in the Neolithic period, perhaps hunting, fleeing enemies, or engaging in ritual activity. The snowshoe will eventually go on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, where the Ötzi's remains are housed. To read more about Ötzi, go to “Heart Attack of the Mummies.”
BURSA, TURKEY—The Daily Sabah reports that police officers looking for a stolen truck in northwestern Anatolia discovered a well-preserved sarcophagus decorated with lion-headed antefixes at the site of an illegal excavation in an olive grove. Archaeologists from Iznik Museum carefully finished uncovering the six-ton marble coffin, which they think dates to the second century A.D. The sarcophagus will eventually be displayed at Iznik Museum. For more on archaeology in Turkey, go to "In Search of a Philosopher’s Stone."