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Archeo-news archive: January-February 2006

excavation on Mount Tambora
'Pompeii of the East' discovered
(Feb 28, 2006)

An expedition to the site of the largest volcanic eruption in modern times has uncovered a lost kingdom. More than 100,000 people died when Mount Tambora erupted on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa in 1815. Remains of a house with two occupants buried under ash have been unearthed for the first time in a discovery hailed the "Pompeii of the East".

Read more. Source: BBC

human skull
Europe's chill linked to disease
(Feb 27, 2006)

Europe's "Little Ice Age" may have been triggered by the 14th Century Black Death plague, according to a new study. Pollen and leaf data support the idea that millions of trees sprang up on abandoned farmland, soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This would have had the effect of cooling the climate, a team from Utrecht University, Netherlands, says.

Read more. Source: BBC

Shakespeare model
Images 'show face of Shakespeare'
(Feb 24, 2006)

Forensic experts claim to have proved a bust and a death mask are the exact likeness of William Shakespeare. Scientists in Germany scanned the sculptures using computerised imaging techniques to show that they match up with portraits of the Bard. The systems, used by police, map out a person's face to identify whether they tally with known pictures.

Read more. Source: BBC

scene from the film Gladiator
Gladiators fought by the book
(Feb 23, 2006)

The Roman arena may have played host to appalling brutality in the name of entertainment, but at least the gladiators who fought there maintained certain standards. A forensic analysis of remains from a gladiator cemetery at Ephesus in Turkey reveals that unlike the gory free-for-all depicted in films like Ridley Scott's Gladiator, real gladiators stuck to strict rules of combat and did not resort to the savage violence and mutilation typical of battlefields of the era.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Tutankhamen's mask
Tutankhamen liked his wine white
(Feb 16, 2006)

It seems that Tutankhamen, the teenage king of ancient Egypt, sloped off to the afterlife with a good supply of fine white wine. It's a surprising discovery, considering there is no record of white wine in Egypt until the 3rd century AD, 1600 years after the young pharaoh died. Rosa Lamuela-Raventós and her colleagues from the University of Barcelona, Spain, used liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to analyse the residue from six of the jars in Tutankhamen's tomb.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Alexander the Great
Greek tomb find excites experts
(Feb 13, 2006)

Archaeologists in Greece say they are examining the largest underground tomb ever found in the country. They said a farmer had stumbled across the tomb carved into the rock near the ancient city of Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great. Archaeologists believe it dates to the period after Alexander's death, which was marked by mass power struggles.

Read more. Source: BBC

ancient Eyptian tomb contents
Pharaonic tomb find stuns Egypt
(Feb 10, 2006)

Archaeologists have discovered an intact, ancient Egyptian tomb in the Valley of the Kings, the first since King Tutankhamun's was found in 1922. A team led by the University of Memphis found the previously unknown tomb complete with unopened sarcophagi and five undisturbed mummies. The archaeologists have not yet been able to identify them.

Read more. Source: BBC

Robert Hooke, modern painting
Eureka! Lost manuscript found in cupboard
(Feb 9, 2006)

A long-lost 17th century manuscript charting the birth of modern science has been found gathering dust in a cupboard in a Hampshire home. Filled with crabby italics and acerbic asides, the 520 or so yellowing and stained pages are the handwritten minutes of the Royal Society as recorded by the brilliant scientist Robert Hooke, one of the society's original fellows and curator of experiments. The notes describe in detail some of the most astounding and outlandish scientific thinking from meetings of the society between 1661 to 1682.

Read more. Source: Guardian

Otzi the Iceman being examined
Infertility link in iceman's DNA
(Feb 3, 2006)

Oetzi, the prehistoric man frozen in a glacier for 5,000 years, could have been infertile, new research on his genes suggests. The study, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, also confirms that his roots probably lie in Central Europe. The iceman was discovered in 1991 by hikers on a glacier in the Alps. The researchers speculate that Oetzi's possible infertility may have been a factor leading to his violent death.

Read more. Source: BBC

Neanderthals: top-notch hunters
(Feb 3, 2006)

Neanderthals did not disappear because modern humans were better hunters and thus out-competed them for resources, according to U.S. and Israeli anthropologists. On the contrary, they were top predators who knew how to hunt the biggest and fastest of the animals. Neanderthals went extinct about 30,000 years ago, after having inhabited Europe and parts of Asia for roughly 200,000 years. The reason for their demise has been long debated and frequently attributed to modern humans' greater intelligence and consequently greater hunting skills.

Read more. Source: Discovery Channel

Isaac Newton
Document reveals Newton's love of alchemy
(Jan 31, 2006)

A recently rediscovered manuscript confirms what has always been something of a dirty secret about Isaac Newton – that the father of modern physics was also a passionate alchemist who longed to find a "philosopher's stone" that could turn base metals into gold. Newton devoted much of his early life to alchemy. The physicist was fascinated by the prospect of transmuting one metal to another, says Rob Iliffe, head of the Newton Project at Imperial College London. Newton believed that metals were the living opposites of trees, growing underground rather than overground.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

A plague victim's skull
Time changes modern human's face
(Jan 26, 2006)

Researchers have found that the shape of the human skull has changed significantly over the past 650 years. Modern people possess less prominent features but higher foreheads than our medieval ancestors. Writing in the British Dental Journal, the team took careful measurements of groups of skulls spanning across 30 generations. The scientists said the differences between past and present skull shapes were "striking".

Read more. Source: BBC

Partheon in Athens
Typhoid 'caused fall of Athens'
(Jan 25, 2006)

The Athenian empire was brought to its knees by typhoid fever, a Greek team of archaeologists has suggested. A University of Athens team analysed DNA from dental pulp found in a burial pit dating back to 430 BC and linked it to the organism that causes typhoid. Scientists have long debated the cause of the plague that ended Athenian dominance of the classical world.

Read more. Source: BBC


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