DNA may find 'living Incas'


Scientists are using DNA to track down the living relatives of mummified Incas.

Samples have been taken from thousands of well preserved bodies which were recently found in an ancient Lima cemetery.


Now hundreds more are being taken from living Peruvians to see if any match.

Doctors will initially focus on the more common mitochondrial DNA of cells which is passed on from the mother.


Then they will focus on nuclear DNA which provides the genetic fingerprint of an individual.


Dr Johan Reinhard, explorer in residence of National Geographic who is leading the study, said the cemetery provides "an extraordinary collection of all kinds of social categories and age groups, a slice of Inca life".


The Daily Telegraph reports the study could take several years because advancing technology will always allow more information to be drawn from a sample.


Story filed: 09:02 Monday 13th May 2002


Archaeologists Find Ancient Statue

Saturday May 11, 2002 7:50 AM


ATHENS, Greece (AP) - German archaeologists digging in a Greek burial ground have found a 2,600-year-old statue that appears to be another masterpiece by an acclaimed - but anonymous - ancient artist.


The find - a nearly complete statue of a young man called a ``kouros'' - bears the stylistic hallmarks of works attributed to a sculptor known only as Dipylos after the neighborhood where his works were found.


``After 140 years of excavations ... no one could imagine that a new work by the Dipylos sculptor would come to light. But it happened,'' Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier, head of the German archaeological digs in the area, said Friday.


The new statue was discovered in March along with other antiquities, including two lion sculptures and a sphinx, near the Sacred Gate, one of two portals into ancient Athens. The finds date from the Archaic period, which was about 900-510 B.C.


Another Dipylos kouros is at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The National Archaeological Museum in Athens also has one.


Digs in the area have been going on for more than a century and fragments of several kouros figures have been found. But it is rare to find one as complete as the latest find, which is missing portions of its legs and face.


Similarities in facial features, hair and body type among all the finds have led experts to believe they were created by the same artist or workshop.


Niemeier said the newly uncovered statue has striking similarities to the Dipylos work in New York. When it was complete, the statue may have stood as tall as 6 feet 6 inches tall.


``This find is important ... Greece, which is a vast archaeological area, provides and will always provide the joy of this kind of discovery,'' said Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos.


Kouros are sculptures of standing young men, typically with one leg slightly forward. Their original use or meaning is unknown. Some were later used as building material for roadways, presumably after they lost their cultural significance.


The sphinx dates back to 560 B.C. and is the twin of one found in 1907. One of the two lions was found in fragments, but the other was intact, Niemeier said.




The richest Early Bronze Age burial in Britain has been found by astonished archaeologists.


The grave of a mature man was found near Amesbury, Wiltshire and contains far more objects than any other burial of this date, about 2,300 BC.


He has been identified as an archer on the basis of stone arrow heads and stone wristguards that protected the arm from the recoil of the bow. There were also stone tool kits for butchering carcasses, and for making more arrowheads if needed.


According to Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, Project Manager for Wessex Archaeology, what makes the find unique is the quantity and quality of the finds. 'As well as the archery equipment, the man had three copper knives and a pair of gold earrings. We think that the earrings were wrapped around the ear rather than hanging from the ear lobe. These are some of the earliest kinds of metal object found in Britain. They were very rare and the metals they were made from may have been imported. The fact that so many valuable objects have been found together is unique. This association is the most important thing about the find'.


The grave was found in the course of excavations on behalf of Bloor Homes and Persimmon Homes South Coast. Ron Hatchett, Strategic Land Director of Bloor Homes said 'we have worked closely with the archaeologists and have altered our plans to protect known archaeological sites'. Paul Bedford Senior Land and Planning Manager for the Persimmon region added 'it is impossible to predict a unique and exciting find like this.'


The area around Stonehenge is famous for its rich Bronze Age burials. Andrew Lawson, Chief Executive of Wessex Archaeology, points out that this burial is several hundred years earlier than any of them. 'It raises the question of who this archer was and why his mourners buried so many valuable things with him?'


The Amesbury Archer is, by a great distance, the most well-furnished Beaker burial found in Britain. Beaker burials have often been considered 'rich' if they contain four or five objects, one of which is of copper or bronze, or of gold.

It is the number of finds, around 100, their early date within the Early Bronze Age, the quality of some of them, and above all the associations between them that is particularly important. All the finds are of well-known types that form the Beaker package that is found across much of central and western Europe.


In a British context the gold earrings (or perhaps tress ornaments) are rare, with only half a dozen other findspots known. The association of three tanged knives - almost certainly of copper rather than bronze - is without parallel, as is the number of Beakers from a single burial. The range of arrowheads, bracers, flints, and spatula are amongst the largest groups of archery equipment found together.

The burial dates to the second half of the third millennium and perhaps nearer to 2,500 cal. BC rather than 2,000 cal. BC, say 2,300 BC.


Friday, 10 May, 2002, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK


Plough unearths Roman villa


A large Roman villa has been uncovered a short distance from the site of a spectacular Fourth Century mosaic in Somerset.


The discovery was made after pieces of floor tile were disturbed by a plough in a field at Dinnington, near Ilminster.


A three-day archaeological dig, filmed for a television documentary, has revealed a large mosaic floor with an elaborate diamond and rope patterned border.


Somerset County Council archaeologist Bob Croft said it was a building complex more than 100m long and believed to be the home of a wealthy Briton.


Landowner's daughter, Trudy Ridgers, said she saw the mosaic tiles by chance, while out walking her dog.


"If I had been a few inches either side, I wouldn't have hit that particular place," she told the BBC.


The villa is a short distance from Lopen, where the most spectacular Roman floor to be discovered in Britain for 50 years was found last year.


Both sites are close to a Roman road, the Fosse Way, which is now the A303.

It stretched from Lincoln to Exeter and was one of the major routes of Roman Britain.


This latest discovery has prompted the suggestion that the the Fosse Way was a 4th Century millionaires' row.


Mr Croft said: "It was clearly a very popular area to be in the Roman period.

"All along the Fosse Way, about every couple of miles, it appears there are very large Roman buildings."


The villa will be covered over with earth again on Saturday to protect it until enough money can be raised to dig for longer


History under rubble

May 14 2002


By Lisa Smith, Evening Mail


The remains of a building dating back to the 17th century have been unearthed beneath the rubble of one of the first major developments of the city's Eastside project.


History buffs from Birmingham University were brought in by property developer Marcity Developments working on the new 17 million home of South Birmingham College.


They were joined by experts from Birmingham City Council's planning department in trying to establish the historical significance of the site in Digbeth, thought to be a 17th Century tannery.


The team have already uncovered 40 cattle horn cores which were a waste product of the leather industry and also discovered other items dating back to before the industrial revolution.


Work on the development of the site is now expected to start in three weeks once archaeologists have completed their excavations.


Dr Mike Hodder, the city council's planning archaeologist, said: "There was a thriving cattle market in the St Martin's area and it is likely cattle were brought here from Wales, slaughtered for meat and their hides then transported to the tannery in Digbeth.


"Bits of leather, soles of shoes and pits of lime used to clean the hides have also been discovered there."


The archaeological site has also given up fragments of pottery, some large wooden timbers, some old wine vessels and part of a crucible used to mix and heat glass.


Egyptian GP gains momentum

''The plans are pretty advanced at this stage.'' [13/05/02 - 07:00]


According to reports on the BBC, Egypt could be the newest contender on the 2005 Formula One calendar. Ashraf Mahmoud, chairman and chief executive officer of the Egyptian Motor Sport Corporation, was at the A1-Ring this weekend as a special guest of Formula One supremo, Bernie Ecclestone and he took the opportunity to discuss the country's plan to host a round of the championship in the future.


The new circuit, due to be given the green light soon will be built near the Pyramids with advanced plans for it's design already in place. One of the designs being considered it based on the shape of a Sphinx, the ancient half-human, half-lion structure. Mahmoud explained that the design was his and it looks like a very fast circuit, however he is unsure if it would be feasible from a commercial and technical view.


"The plans are pretty advanced at this stage," Mahmoud explained. "We have been working on the project since July 1998 and we now have the full approval and support of the Egyptian government. The feedback from Bernie has been positive and he has been to Egypt. We are considering sites on the Red Sea coast. But Cairo as a city has a charm in itself. The most preferred site is on the outskirts of greater Cairo, on the west side of the Nile about 10 minutes drive from the Pyramids which would be in view for television. There are no archaeological problems with the site."


Robyn Schmidt, Chief English Editor

CAPSIS International


Blesses are the oarsmen

May 13 2002

By Tony Henderson, The Journal


Heritage chiefs are casting their net wide for a boatman with a talent for talking.

The part-time job involves rowing visitors from English Heritage's Warkworth Castle across the River Coquet in Northumberland to a 14th Century hermitage on the other bank.


The ferryman - or woman - will then be expected to explain to tourists the fascinating past of the hermitage, which was carved from a rocky outcrop.

The job has been carried out for years by Peter Little, but he is now concentrating on his duties as custodian of the castle.


Warkworth villager John Wilson stepped in as a stop gap measure, but with a full-time job as personnel manager for Berwick Council he has decided to hang up his oars at the beginning of next month.


That leaves English Heritage with the task of finding a replacement to work two days a week and bank holidays at an hourly rate of 5.64.


The boat is needed to reach the hermitage as the attraction is difficult to reach on foot on the north bank of the river. John said that busy days could mean rowing up to 200 people across the river - equivalent to about 30 trips.


The hermitage features ceiling beams, an altar, font, and religious scenes and symbols, all carved from the rock.


"It is a fascinating place and people are intrigued by it. You get a varied clientele and I have shown Brazilian, American and German visitors around the hermitage," said John.


"You have to be confident in handling a boat and have an interest in meeting people and in the history of the area."


English Heritage area manager Mark Fulton said: "We provide the boat and lifejackets, and we are looking for somebody who is a competent swimmer and who would enjoy talking about local history to the public."


Applicants should ring (01289) 309785.


Shetland set to adopt Viking road signs


Officials in Shetland want to celebrate links with the Vikings by adding Norse translations to local road signs.


Councillors hope the bilingual road signs will help attract tourists from Scandinavia


It means visitors could find themselves heading for the capital of Leir-vik, which translates as Shit-creek.


The Independent reports the Scottish Executive is expected to give Shetland Council legal permission to introduce the change.


The islands were ruled by Norway until they were pledged to Scotland in 1469.

Shetland archivist Brian Smith, who has researched the Norse spellings, said: "These people tended to call a spade a spade."


He believes the Vikings probably called Lerwick Shit-creek because their longship got stuck in mud on Bressay Sound.


Mr Smith said: "I presume the tide must have been out when they arrived, and it wasn't too pleasant a landing. They were a very down to earth race."


Story filed: 08:24 Tuesday 14th May 2002