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Archeo-news: Latest from the world of the past

This Torah scroll may be more than 850 years old
'World's oldest Torah' scroll found in Italy
(May 28, 2011)

The University of Bologna in Italy has found what it says may be the oldest complete scroll of Judaism's most important text, the Torah. The scroll was in the university library but had been mislabelled, a professor at the university says. It was previously thought the scroll was no more that a few hundred years old.

Read more. Source: BBC

Palace of Knossos
DNA reveals origin of Minoan culture
(May 15, 2011)

Europe's first advanced civilization was local in origin and not imported from elsewhere, a study says. Analysis of DNA from ancient remains on the Greek island of Crete suggests the Minoans were indigenous Europeans, shedding new light on a debate over the provenance of this ancient culture. Scholars have variously argued the Bronze Age civilization arrived from Africa, Anatolia or the Middle East.

Read more. Source: BBC

Neanderthal reconstruction
Neanderthals used feathers to decorate themselves
(Sep 19, 2011)

Neanderthals used feathers as personal decoration, according to a new study, providing further evidence that Neanderthals thought and behaved in a similar way to modern Homo sapiens. The find is based on an analysis of bird bones found at the sites of hominid relatives in Europe and Asia. Cuts on the bones – especially wing bones – indicate that Neanderthals were systematically removing flight feathers, especially from dark species, including corvids and birds of prey.

Read more. Source: BBC

Fragment from a 20,000 year old bowl found in Southern China
Pottery invented in China to cook food and brew alcohol
(Jun 29, 2011)

The oldest known samples of pottery have been unearthed in southern China. The US archaeologists involved have determined that fragments from a large bowl found in Xianrendong Cave, Jiangxi Province, are 20,000 years old. The discovery, published in the journal Science, is the latest in recent years that have pushed back the invention of pottery by 10,000 years.

Read more. Source: BBC

hand stencils in El Castillo
Oldest cave paintings may be creations of Neandertals
(Jun 15, 2011)

Hand stencils are a common motif in the cave paintings of Spain and France, and have long been considered to be the work of anatomically modern humans like us. But a new analysis of the age of the paintings in El Castillo and other Spanish caves shows that some of these paintings are much older than previously thought – old enough, in some cases, to be the handiwork of our cousins the Neandertals.

Read more. Source: Scientific American

mammoth ivory flute
Earliest music instruments found
(May 28, 2011)

Researchers have identified what they say are the oldest-known musical instruments in the world. The flutes, made from bird bone and mammoth ivory, come from a cave in southern Germany which contains early evidence for the occupation of Europe by modern humans - Homo sapiens. Scientists used carbon dating to show that the flutes were between 42,000 and 43,000 years old.

Read more. Source: BBC

Mesopotamian tablet bearing lost language
Ancient language discovered found amid ruins of 2800 year old Middle Eastern palace
(May 10, 2011)

Archaeologists have discovered evidence for a previously unknown ancient language – buried in the ruins of a 2,800-year-old Middle Eastern palace. The discovery is important because it may help reveal the ethnic and cultural origins of some of history’s first 'barbarians'.

Read more. Source: The Independent

Oetzi on the examination table
Oetzi the Iceman's blood is world's oldest
(May 2, 2011)

Researchers studying Oetzi, a 5,300-year-old body found frozen in the Italian Alps in 1991, have found red blood cells around his wounds. Blood cells tend to degrade quickly, and earlier scans for blood within Oetzi's body turned up nothing. Now a study in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface shows that Oetzi's remarkable preservation extends even to the blood he shed shortly before dying.

Read more. Source: BBC

The helmet had to be rebuilt from hundreds of corroded pieces stuck in a block of earth
Hallaton helmet unveiled after nine-year restoration
(Jan 10, 2011)

What has been hailed as one of the most significant recent UK Iron Age finds is going on display after a nine-year conservation project. The decorated Roman cavalry helmet was discovered at a site in Leicestershire. Experts said its date, close to the Roman invasion of 43 AD, meant it could be evidence of Celtic tribes serving with the Roman army.

Read more. Source: BBC

Stonehenge rocks Pembrokeshire link confirmed
(Dec 19, 2011)

Experts say they have confirmed for the first time the precise origin of some of the rocks at Stonehenge. It has long been suspected that rhyolites from the northern Preseli Hills helped build the monument. But research by National Museum Wales and Leicester University has identified their source to within 70m (230ft) of Craig Rhos-y-felin, near Pont Saeson.

Read more. Source: BBC

Archaeologists make new Stonehenge 'sun worship' find
(Nov 28, 2011)

Two previously undiscovered pits have been found at Stonehenge which point to it once being used as a place of sun worship before the stones were erected. The pits are positioned on celestial alignment at the site and may have contained stones, posts or fires to mark the rising and setting of the sun. An international archaeological survey team found the pits as part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project.

Read more. Source: BBC

Dotted horses in the cave of Pech Merle in France
Ancient horses' spotted history reflected in cave art
(Nov 8, 2011)

Scientists have found evidence that leopard-spotted horses roamed Europe 25,000 years ago alongside humans. Until now, studies had only recovered the DNA of black and brown colored coats from fossil specimens. New genetic evidence suggests "dappled" horses depicted in European cave art were inspired by real life, and are less symbolic than previously thought.

Read more. Source: BBC

mastodon bone with projectile tip embedded in it
Old American theory is 'speared'
(Oct 21, 2011)

An ancient bone with a projectile point lodged within it appears to up-end – once and for all – a long-held idea of how the Americas were first populated. The rib, from a tusked beast known as a mastodon, has been dated precisely to 13,800 years ago. This places it before the so-called Clovis hunters, who many academics had argued were the North American continent's original inhabitants.

Read more. Source: BBC

The toolkits were removed from the Blombos sediment in 2008
Ancient 'paint factory' unearthed
(Oct 14, 2011)

The kits used by humans 100,000 years ago to make paint have been found at the famous archaeological site of Blombos Cave in South Africa. The hoard includes red and yellow pigments, shell containers, and the grinding cobbles and bone spatulas to work up a paste – everything an ancient artist might need in their workshop. This extraordinary discovery is reported in the journal Science.

Read more. Source: BBC

Pictish stone symbol
Pictish beast intrigues Highland archeologists
(Sep 1, 2011)

A Pictish symbol stone built into the wall of a Highland farm building has been recorded by archeologists. The markings show a beast, crescent, comb and mirror. Archeologist Cait McCullagh said it was a mystery how it had taken until this year for the stone to be officially recorded.

Read more. Source: BBC

Tomb found at Stonehenge quarry site
(Sep 1, 2011)

The remains of the original builders of Stonehenge could have been unearthed by an excavation at a site in Wales. The Carn Menyn site in the Preseli Hills is where the initial bluestones used to construct the first stone phase of the henge were quarried in 2300BC. Organic material from a tomb there will be radiocarbon dated.

Read more. Source: BBC

Remains at the Buran-Kaya cave site bear cut marks where stone tools were used to remove flesh
Oldest traces of modern European humans found in Europe
(Jun 22, 2011)

A Ukraininian cave site has yielded evidence of modern Homo sapiens dating back 32,000 years. The finds include human bones and teeth, tools, ivory ornaments and animal remains. Interestingly, the human bones include very few long bones and also show evidence of having been processed differently than animal bones.

Read more. Source: BBC

A close-up view of the red marks on the floor in the pyramid
Robot explorer finds puzzles inside pyramid chamber
(May 29, 2011)

Mysterious markings in a secret chamber inside the Great Pyramid of Giza have been seen for the first time in four-and-a-half thousand years, thanks to a "micro snake" camera. The markings take the form of hieroglyphic symbols in red paint as well as lines in the stone that may have been made by masons when the chamber was being built.

Read more. Source: CNN

early American tools found in Texas
Stone tools 'demand new American story'
(Mar 27, 2011)

The long-held theory of how humans first populated the Americas may have been well and truly broken. Archaeologists have unearthed thousands of stone tools that predate the technology widely assumed to have been carried by the first settlers. The discoveries in Texas are seen as compelling evidence that the so-called Clovis culture does not represent America's original immigrants.

Read more. Source: BBC

examples of tools, including arrowheads, found on islands off the Californian coast
Island tool finds show early settlers' diversity
(Mar 5, 2011)

Caches of tools and animal remains from around 12,000 years ago, found on islands off the California coast, have given remarkable insight into the lives of the first Americans. The finds show fine tool technology and a rich maritime economy existed there. The tools vary markedly from mainland cultures of the era such as the Clovis.

Read more. Source: BBC

reconstruction of Oetzi
Model gives ancient Iceman Oetzi new face
(Feb 28, 2011)

Oetzi the Iceman has reappeared looking fighting fit – as a new model on show in the Italian Alps, where he died from an arrow wound some 5,300 years ago. In 1991 a German couple found Oetzi's mummified corpse embedded in a glacier, in a high mountain pass. Using 3D images of the corpse and forensic technology two Dutch experts – Alfons and Adrie Kennis – created a new Oetzi model. They gave him brown eyes.

Read more. Source: BBC

tree rings
Roman rise and fall 'recorded in trees'
(Jan 15, 2011)

An extensive study of tree growth rings says there could be a link between the rise and fall of past civilizations and sudden shifts in Europe's climate. A team of researchers based their findings on data from 9,000 wooden artifacts from the past 2,500 years. They found that periods of warm, wet summers coincided with prosperity, while political turmoil occurred during times of climate instability.

Read more. Source: BBC


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