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Additional Bronze-Age Items Found in Swiss Alps

October 5, 2017

BERN, SWITZERLAND—The Local reports that snow melt in the Lötschberg Pass, a shortcut between the Bernese Oberland and the Valais, has revealed additional items in a cache of Bronze Age artifacts. Researchers from the Archaeological Service of the Canton of Bern say the cache included a wooden box of flour, fragments of bows, flint arrowheads, birch bark, a cord made of animal fibers, and a container made of cow horn. Radiocarbon dates suggest the box was left behind by a mountain traveler some 4,000 years ago. For more, go to “Switzerland Everlasting.”

Categories: Blog

Bronze Sculptures Recovered at Antikythera Shipwreck Site

October 5, 2017

ANTIKYTHERA, GREECE—According to a report in The Guardian, pieces of at least seven different bronze sculptures have been recovered at the site of the Antikythera shipwreck, made famous by the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism in 1901. Brendan Foley of Lund University said the pieces were found among large boulders that may have tumbled over the wreckage during an earthquake in the fourth century A.D. with an underwater metal detector. Recovering any possible additional statue pieces will require moving the boulders, some of which weigh several tons, or cracking them open. The team also discovered a slab of red marble, a silver tankard, pieces of wood from the ship’s frame, and a human bone. A bronze disc about the size of the geared wheels in the Antikythera mechanism was also found this year. Preliminary X-rays of the object revealed an image of a bull, but no cogs, so it may have been a decorative item. Investigation of the deepwater site will continue next year. “We’re down in the hold of the ship now, so all the other things that would have been carried should be down there as well,” Foley said. To read about the discovery of a skeleton discovered at the same site, go to “Antikythera Man.”

Categories: Blog

Section of Hadrian's Wall Discovered in Newcastle

October 4, 2017

NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND—A previously recorded stretch of Hadrian's Wall has been rediscovered in Newcastle in northeastern England, according to a report in ChronicleLive. Archaeologists working on a project to restore a building in the city's center unearthed the section, which was last seen during 1952 construction on the same site. More sections of the wall are understood to occupy space underneath Newcastle, and the remains of a milecastle—a small Roman fort—have also been found nearby. To read more about Hadrian's Wall go to “The Wall at the End of the Emire.”

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Norse Meeting Place Investigated in Scotland

October 4, 2017

 

THURSO, SCOTLAND—A geophysical survey may have detected evidence of a medieval Norse parliament meeting place in the Scottish Highlands, according to a report from BBC News. The survey of Thing’s Va Broch, which was carried out by researchers from the Orkney Research Center for Archaeology, the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, and the Caithness Broch Project, detected “faint features” that may relate to activity associated with the meetings. Thing’s Va, which is the site of an Iron Age broch, or stone-built roundhouse, derives its name from “ting,” the Norse word for meeting place. Archaeologists will undertake exploratory excavations this month to try to learn more about the site. For more on archaeology in Scotland, go to “Neolithic Europe's Remote Heart.”

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How Agriculture Developed in Northern Mesopotamia

October 3, 2017

TELL BRAK, SYRIA—Science Nordic reports that a new study of grains excavated from ancient cities in northern Mesopotamia is giving archaeologists a new picture of how agriculture developed in the area. A team led by Oxford University archaeologist Amy Styring measured the stable isotopes of 276 grain samples taken from the Syrian site of Tell Brak, as well as four other settlements dating from 6500 to 2000 B.C. They compared the results with modern samples grown under controlled conditions, which allowed them to assess how much manure was used to cultivate the grains. Among their findings was that as the cities grew in size, farmers cultivated larger areas and used less manure, in contrast with southern Mesopotamia, where irrigation became widespread and the land was farmed very intensively. To read more, go to “Urbanization at Tell Brak, Syria.”

Categories: Blog

19th-Century Flour Mill Unearthed in Northern Virginia

October 3, 2017

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA— The Alexandria Times reports that archaeologists are working at the site of Robinson Terminal South, a planned luxury condiminum and retail complex near the banks of the Potomac River. They have uncovered the foundation of a flour mill called Pioneer Mills, which dates back to 1854. At its height, Pioneer Mills produced thousands of barrels of flour a month, which were brought down the Potomac and out to the Atlantic Ocean for shipment up and down the east coast. After surviving multiple ownerships, the American Civil War, and Reconstruction, the mill was damaged by a cyclone and an interior fire in 1896. The space subsequently housed a grain warehouse, a shipbuilding facility, and an airplane engineering facility, among other ventures, before the Washington Post purchased the building. The paper sold the property to its current owners, the development company EYA, in 2013. To read more about archaeology in Virginia, go to “Letter from Virginia: American Refugees.”

Categories: Blog

19th-Century Flour Mill Unearthed in Northern Virginia

October 3, 2017

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA— The Alexandria Times reports that archaeologists are working at the site of Robinson Terminal South, a planned luxury condiminum and retail complex near the banks of the Potomac River. They have uncovered the foundation of a flour mill called Pioneer Mills, which dates back to 1854. At its height, Pioneer Mills produced thousands of barrels of flour a month, which were brought down the Potomac and out to the Atlantic Ocean for shipment up and down the east coast. After surviving multiple ownerships, the American Civil War, and Reconstruction, the mill was damaged by a cyclone and an interior fire in 1896. The space subsequently housed a grain warehouse, a shipbuilding facility, and an airplane engineering facility, among other ventures, before the Washington Post purchased the building. The paper sold the property to its current owners, the development company EYA, in 2013. To read more about archaeology in Virginia, go to “Letter from Virginia: American Refugees.”

Categories: Blog

How Did Modern Humans Contract HSV2?

October 3, 2017

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—Virologist Charlotte Houldcroft of the University of Cambridge and her colleagues think Paranthropus boisei may have infected the ancestors of modern humans with herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV2), the virus that results in genital herpes. According to a report in Live Science, an earlier genetic study of HSV2 suggests the virus infected the ancestors of modern humans between three and 1.4 million years ago. So, the team of researchers found tropical rainforest areas in Africa where the ancestors of modern chimpanzees may have lived during the last three million years. Then they layered the climate data with the locations of hominin fossils. The scientists found that Paranthropus boisei, known for its massive jaws and huge molars, was the most likely of the hominin species living during the time period in question to have come in contact with ancestral chimpanzees and other hominins. They speculate that Paranthropus boisei contracted the virus from these ancestral chimps and eventually passed it on to Homo erectus. For more, go to “Diagnosis of Ancient Illness.”

Categories: Blog

Archaeologists Investigate Site of the Battle of Grunwald

October 3, 2017

GRUNWALD, POLAND—Archaeologists and metal detectorists joined forces to look for traces of the Battle of Grunwald, fought on July 15, 1410, according to a report in Science & Scholarship in Poland. On that day, the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania defeated the German-Prussian Teutonic Knights in what is remembered as one of the largest battles in medieval Europe. Szymon Drej of the Battle of Grunwald Museum said the team recovered about 300 artifacts, including arrowheads, Prussian spearheads, and a seal bearing a Christian image of a pelican feeding blood to chicks in a nest. The seal, thought to be connected to a chapel that later stood on the battlefield, resembles one found in the courtyard of Malbork, a castle built by the Teutonic Knights in what is now northern Poland. After the battle, Polish and Lithuanian forces laid siege to the Malbork Castle in an attempt to crush Prussia. But the castle withstood the siege and the Teutonic Knights lost little territory in the Peace of Thorn of 1411. The researchers will continue to search the area for evidence of the battle. For more, go to “Off the Grid: Krakow, Poland.”

Categories: Blog

Fragment of Akhenaten Sculpture Unearthed in Egypt

October 3, 2017

MINYA, EGYPT—According to a report in Ahram Online, the head of a statue of the 18th dynasty pharaoh Akhenaten has been discovered in the first hall of the Great Atun Temple at Tel El-Amarna, Akhenaten’s capital city, by a joint Egyptian-English archaeological mission headed by Barry Kemp of the University of Cambridge. The head, which was carved from gypsum, measures about five inches long. Akhenaten is remembered for abandoning polytheism in favor of worship of the sun god, Aten, alone. For more, go to “In Search of History's Greatest Rulers: Nefertiti, Great Royal Wife and Queen of Egypt.”

Categories: Blog

DNA Study Suggests New Dates for Modern Humans

September 30, 2017

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA—Cosmos Magazine reports that a team of scientists has used a “molecular clock” to push back the emergence of anatomically modern humans in Africa by about 100,000 years, to between 260,000 and 350,000 years ago. Marlize Lombard of the University of Johannesburg, Carina Schlebusch and Mattias Jakobsson of Uppsala University, and colleagues examined DNA obtained from the 2,000-year-old bones of a young boy discovered on a beach in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa. Known as the Ballito Bay child, his genome indicates he was a member of the San branch of the Khoe-San peoples. The Khoe-San are thought to have diverged from a common Homo sapiens ancestor long before any other groups, and therefore carry unique DNA. The scientists compared the Ballito Bay child’s DNA to that of six other individuals from KwaZulu-Natal who lived between 300 and 2,300 years ago—before and after the Khoe-San mixed with migrants from the north—and then estimated how long it would have taken for various mutations to have occurred over the course of many generations, in order to arrive at a date for the split between anatomically modern humans and archaic humans. The information also suggests that anatomically modern humans may have evolved in multiple places in Africa. “We’re at the stage now where we are going to meet up with paleontological and archaeological estimates to see how archaic humans transitioned to modern humans,” Schlebusch said. For more, go to “Our Tangled Ancestry.”

Categories: Blog

Carvings of Maya Ball-Game Players Found in Belize

September 30, 2017

CAYO DISTRICT, BELIZE—According to a report in Live Science, two stone panels engraved with images of the Maya ball game have been discovered at the site of Tipan Chen Uitz by Christopher Andres of Michigan State University and his colleagues. The table-sized engravings, thought to date to between A.D. 600 and 800, may have been part of the façade at the entrance to the city’s palatial complex. The first carving shows a large ball and a ball player wearing a protective belt. Hieroglyphics refer to a “nine-hand-span ball,” but the researchers don’t know if the measurement refers to the piece of latex used to make the ball, or to the size of the finished object. The second panel also shows a man wearing a protective belt. He is lunging forward, braced against his left knee. The image may depict a player attempting to strike a ball, the researchers said. His name, which has also been seen at a ball court in Naranjo, a Maya city in Guatemala, was included on the panel as well. The two carved names could refer to the same person. Architectural evidence also suggests a link between the two cities. To read about the burial of a Maya ruler in Guatemala, go to “Tomb of the Vulture Lord.

Categories: Blog

2,000-Year-Old Terracotta Toys Discovered in Turkey

September 29, 2017

ÇANAKKALE, TURKEY—Toys and figurines have been recovered from the 2,000-year-old tombs of children in the ancient city of Parion in northwest Turkey, according to a report in The Daily Sabah. Hasan Kasaoğlu of Atatürk University said female figurines were found in girls’ tombs, while male figurines were found in boys’ tombs. Figurines representing animals and mythological creatures were also uncovered. Kasaoğlu thinks the toys may have been presented as gifts to accompany the children on the journey to the afterlife. A baby bottle was discovered in the same necropolis earlier this month. To read about another discovery in Turkey, go to “Let a Turtle Be Your Psychopomp.”

Categories: Blog

Wooden Sculptures Found at Peru’s Chan Chan

September 29, 2017

TRUJILLO, PERU—Archaeologist Cintia Cueva Garcia reportedly told Andina News Agency that four wood sculptures, a scepter, metal vessels, textiles, and winkle shells were uncovered at the Chayhuac An enclosure at Chan Chan, which is located on Peru’s northern coast. The fourth wood sculpture, found lying on a funerary platform, represents a male figure holding a cup at chest height. His face is covered with white clay. “It is common to find wood figures at Chan Chan, but what matters now is that we have found one [in a funerary context],” Garcia said. Such sculptures are thought to have been used to mark the tombs of important people. One of the four wood sculptures is female, which is also unusual, Garcia explained. For more, go to “Peruvian Woman of Means.”

Categories: Blog

New Thoughts on the Battle of Wood Lake

September 29, 2017

WOOD LAKE, MINNESOTA—The West Central Tribune reports that archaeologists Sigrid Arnott and David Maki, assisted by battlefield archaeologist Douglas Scott, have analyzed nearly two dozen pieces of ammunition recovered from the steep ravine and military road at Wood Lake Battlefield. On September 23, 1862, some 700 Dakota warriors, led by Little Crow and other chiefs, concealed themselves along the ravine and planned to ambush the 1,700 soldiers, led by Lt. Col. Henry Sibley, after they had broken camp and were spread out over the road. But the warriors opened fire when a number of members of the Third Regiment went out to look for food on the prairie just after daybreak. The positions of conical bullets, fired by the U.S. military, and handmade musket balls, shot by the Dakota, suggests that other members of the Third Regiment joined the fight. Sibley then ordered a retreat, under the cover of the Renville Rangers, a group of mixed-blood Dakota who had enlisted to fight in the Civil War. Arnott said the analysis also shows the final battle took place to the west, where the Dakota lacked the cover of the ravine and were vulnerable to Sibley’s artillery. For more on Civil War–era archaeology, go to “Life on the Inside.”

Categories: Blog

Additional Colossal Statue Pieces Recovered in Cairo

September 29, 2017

CAIRO, EGYPT—According to a report in Egypt Independent, German and Egyptian archaeologists have recovered two toes and the pedestal for the colossal statue of King Psammetich I that was discovered in Cairo’s Matariya neighborhood earlier this year. Psammetich I ruled for 54 years during the 26th Dynasty, some 2,600 years ago. The pedestal, which is engraved with a hieroglyphic inscription, was damaged by its long submersion in groundwater. The team has now recovered 40 percent of the statue. Additional pieces of the 30-foot-tall sculpture may still be uncovered at the site. To read about another recent discovery in Egypt, go to Afterlife on the Nile.

Categories: Blog

Nahuange Metalsmiths May Have Preferred Rose Gold

September 28, 2017

BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA—Live Science reports that Marcos Martinón-Torres of University College London and Juanita Saenz-Samper of the Museum of Gold in Bogotá examined 44 metal artifacts created by the Nahuange culture between A.D. 100 and 1000 in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range. The objects included nose pendants, necklaces, earrings, belts, and bracelets. They determined that the Nahuange artifacts had undergone a process of oxidation and polishing known as depletion gilding, which involves beginning with a mixture of gold and copper, and bringing the gold to the surface. Then the Nahuange metalsmiths are thought to have removed the gold surface in order to bring out the pink and orange color of the remaining metal. “That defies our expectations that the more golden the better,” Martinón-Torres said. For more, go to “Bronze Age Ireland’s Taste in Gold.”

Categories: Blog

Bronze Dog Statue Unearthed in England

September 28, 2017

BRISTOL, ENGLAND—According to a report in The Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review, two men discovered a hoard of Roman bronze artifacts in southwest England. Archaeologist Kurt Adams, Gloucestershire and Avon finds liaison officer, said the hoard dates to the fourth century A.D. and includes items that may have been deliberately broken, including small vessel fittings. A detailed statue of a standing dog with an open mouth was found intact. The “licking dog” may have been connected to a Roman healing temple located on what are now the grounds at Lydney Park, a nearby seventeenth-century country estate, or perhaps another undiscovered temple. To read about another discovery from Roman England, go to “London’s Earliest Writing.”

Categories: Blog

Boat Petroglyph Discovered in Northern Norway

September 28, 2017

NORDLAND COUNTY, NORWAY—According to a report in The Local, a 13-foot-long petroglyph depicting a boat was discovered in northern Norway by retired geologist Ingvar Lindahl. Archaeologist Jan Magne Gjerde of Tromsø University said the petroglyph is thought to be between 10,000 and 11,000 years old, based upon the height of water level marks on the rock where it was carved. Gjerde said the image shows the boat’s keel line and railing line, as well as the boat’s bows. For more, go to “The Church that Transformed Norway.”

Categories: Blog

1,000-Year-Old Victims of Human Sacrifice Found in Peru

September 27, 2017

LAMBAYEQUE, PERU—International Business Times reports that the remains of nine men of the Sican culture were discovered by a team of Peruvian and Japanese archaeologists at the site of Huaca de la Cruz, which is located in the Pomac Forest Historic Sanctuary in northern Peru. The men are thought to have been ritually killed some 1,000 years ago. The team also unearthed a metallurgy workshop and a tomb thought to have belonged to a member of the Sican elite. For more, go to “Letter From Peru: Connecting Two Realms.”

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