Cavemen started bling-bling culture
Bling-bling culture started with Stone Age cavemen up to 280,000 years ago.
A new scientific study says hunters loved to be dripping in luxury goods, and the taste for flashy trinkets may have been what turned humans from savages into a civilised society.
Beads, jewellery and ornaments found at a cave in Blombos, South Africa, are thought to be status symbols dating back up to 77,000 years.
Until now it had been thought that an interest in fancy accessories only started around 40,000 years ago.
The New Scientist report says the earliest nomadic hunters were far more civilised than thought previously. And the lust for bling led to an early pecking-order in which people with the right gear seemed more important.
The report said: "Mass consumerism may be a 20th century invention but its roots go back to the dawn of humanity.
"Prestige goods could be the first step on the road to modern civilisation, paving the way for agriculture and urbanisation. "No one believes the guy who spends £670,000 on a Bugatti Veyron does so because he needs to travel at 250mph.
"We all know he is buying an exclusive status symbol. But don't knock it - he is just being civilised."
Major discovery at Sto:lo dig
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
CHILLIWACK -- A group of archaeology students working with the Sto:lo expected to find some artifacts at the site near Agassiz this summer.
But they ended up finding something bigger, and older, than anything they imagined.
"We had it in our mind it was a younger site," SFU archeology professor Dana Lepofksy said.
After turning up a large collection of tools and leftover stone chips, one student found what appears some type of smokehouse that has since been radiocarbon-dated at 5,700 years old.
Much of the work at the site during the summer centred around a long trench that had been dug up using a backhoe. Through most of the project, the group collected a lot of small items, which Lepofsky is currently looking at.
"We're analyzing the artifacts and all the little bits and pieces of stuff we collected."
As the project wore on though, the group began small excavations using shovels, most of which came up negative. On one of these digs though a student named Meagan Cameron turned up what turned out to be a portion of the smokehouse.
"The archeology gods were with us," Lepofsky said.
While the group left the structure partially buried, they were able to run the necessary tests to determine age of the structure.
"It's only partially excavated and we'd like to leave that way," she said. "It's a public resource."
They also found that the site was built around a hugh hearth, used for for heat and for cooking, according to the professor.
They also did carbon-dating on some midden material that turned out to be about 6,100 years old.
"We're really quite pleased with those dates," she said.
Lepofsky figures the site at that time was not a permanent settlement but was used as a stopping grounds by what she terms as 'hunter-gatherer-fisher-folk'.
"We're thinking of a very different Fraser Valley than we have today."
This summer's dig near Agassiz was a joint effort between SFU, students from other universities and the Sto:lo. Lepofsky said local communities were also very co-operative in helping the project.
The work was part of a longer term effort looking at old First Nations sites in the Fraser Valley as a whole, and it will continue next summer somewhere in this region.
"Next year we're going to be at a different site," Lepofsky said. "We want places that are connected to the Sto:lo traditions."
© Chilliwack Times 2004
Yale has been a place where people have lived for over 8,000 to 10,000 years. Archaeologists have found many places near Yale where stone tools and other objects were used by the First Nations people. First Nations people still live here in a small village near the Fraser River. They call the river "Sto:lo" [pronounced Stah-low] and the First Nations people who live along the Fraser River in Yale call themselves Tait People. The First nations who lived along the Fraser River used the plentiful salmon as their main source of food. Today if you look down at the rocks below the highway you can still see some of the wooden racks used for drying fish that are still used by the First Nations people.
Xá:ytem Longhouse Interpretive Centre - Mission
At Xa:ytem Longhouse Interpretive Centre near Mission, members of the Sto:lo Nation describe the traditions associated with the great Hatzic Rock, a short walk from the Longhouse displays.
Activity: A designated BC Heritage Historic site, Xá:ytem (pronounced "HAYtum") is the oldest known dwelling site in British Columbia, dated by archaeologists at 9000 years old. Xá:ytem refers to a huge rock (also known as the Hatzic Rock) on an ancient terrace on the Fraser River. The Sto:lo people attach great spiritual significance to this monolith. The Xá:ytem Longhouse, constructed in the traditional Sto:lo way now stands near the rock.
Details: 35087 Lougheed Hwy., Mission, BC. Open for public visits from June to September. For exact dates and times, call (604) 820-9725. Admission: $4. Website: xaytem.museum.bc.ca
To get to the Xá:ytem Longhouse Interpretive Centre take Highway 7 east from Vancouver to Mission. The centre is 3 kilometres east of Mission. Or take the Trans Canada Highway (Highway 1) east to Abbotsford and then go north across the Fraser River via Highway 11 to Mission.
The world's oldest dam
Source: Al Ahram (16 September 2004)
The first dam in history is clearly a major engineering achievement. But it is also something of a disaster story. Dating back some 4000 years ago, and estimated to have been between 10 and 15 years in the making, Sadd Al-Kafara was destroyed by heavy rainfall soon after its completion. The experience was so traumatic for the Ancient Egyptians, that they never tried to build a dam again.
"This is the first known instance of a stone dam to be constructed across a river anywhere in the world. I'm surprised that so little is known about it," said John Broad, a retired consulting engineer with a passionate interest in ancient structures. According to the records, the dam is situated between Wadi Al-Hof and Wadi Al-Garawi, some 25 kilometres south of Cairo.
When Sadd Al-Kafara was discovered in 1885 by the German archaeologist G.Schweinfurth, he calculated that it had been necessary to excavate and transport approximately 100,000 cubic metres of rock and rubble for its construction. Schweinfurth also established that the central section of the dam was missing. "That turned out to be a mixed blessing," Broad said, "because although the structure was no longer complete, the fact the middle was missing exposed cross sections of the remaining parts of the dam. So it was possible to study its construction."
The dam was built straight across Wadi Al-Garawi at a point where the valley narrows to about 100 metres wide. The floor was covered with gravel and boulders of various sizes. Here and there was a thin veneer of alluvium, cracked by the heat where it was not held together by soil-binding desert plants. The sloping outer faces, according to existing records, are about 13 metres wide at the top, and 24 metres at the base, the space between the two walls being filled with rubble. It must have been an impressive structure before the whole of the central part, covering a width of about 36 metres, was washed away. No mortar was used, as it was not considered to be a sealing material in ancient times.
"The Ancient Egyptians lacked experience in sealing the dam face and its base against the percolation of water through and under the dam," Broad explained. "This water gradually eroded larger cavities and pathways until the increasing rush of water caused the dam to collapse. It is not known if a spillway was provided; that would have allowed excess water to pass safely over the top of the dam. In all likelihood it was not, and the overspill from the full dam caused erosion on the downstream side which led to its collapse."
The dam has now been authoritatively dated to the Third or Fourth Dynasties (between 2686 and 2498 BCE).
Stonehenge centre plans unveiled
Plans for a £67.5m visitors' centre, which will help rejuvenate facilities at Stonehenge, have been unveiled.
The proposals, submitted by English Heritage, are for a single-storey building two miles from the stones.
Around 750,000 people visit Stonehenge each year, but the site's facilities have been slammed by critics who have called them "a national disgrace".
Sir Neil Cossons, chairman of English Heritage, said: "Until now, we have let our ancestors down."
He added: "If successful, this planning application will allow us to remove the worst excesses of the modern day and create a seamless downland landscape."
The proposed new centre is the product of three years' work by English Heritage.
It will be built just outside the World Heritage site and will contain exhibitions, educational facilities and a cafe.
A new land train will take visitors on a 25-minute journey from the centre to the stones, via a series of drop-off points across the site.
The plans have been submitted to Salisbury District Council and a decision is expected in 2005.
"At last, it looks as if the millions of people who come to visit Stonehenge from all over the world will receive the inspiring and uplifting experience that they expect and the stones deserve," said Sir Neil.
A public inquiry was held earlier this year into a separate £193m scheme, which would see the busy A303 re-routed away from the Stonehenge site through a tunnel.
The findings of that inquiry are being examined by an independent planning inspector.
A report from the inspector will be used by the government to decide whether the plans get the go-ahead.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/09/15 11:14:48 GMT
© BBC MMIV
Large Roman coin cache found in Surrey Sep 16 2004
One of the biggest finds of Roman coins ever discovered in Surrey has been unearthed on a farm at Leigh.
Almost 60 silver denarii dating back to 30BC were located after Martin Adams, a metal detecting enthusiast, received a signal on his machine.
Father-of-two Mr Adams was sweeping the field with fellow members of the Downland and Weald Metal Detecting Club when he received a strong bleep on his machine - a Laser Hawkeye.
A short while later, the roofer received two more promising signals. He dug down and uncovered two more coins which turned out to be about 2,000 years old.
Meanwhile, fellow detectorist David Williams, a postman, located another coin from a similar period in history. He then announced to the club that a "hoard operation" would have to be implemented.
Mr Adams, 41, from Bushfield Drive, in Whitebushes, near Redhill, was told he could select two other people to search the designated hoard area, which would have to be taped off.
Within a few hours, 23 more Roman coins were unearthed, together with the scattered fragments of a pot in which the money had probably been contained.
Surrey County Council archaeologist Dr David Bird was immediately notified of the find and an official dig of the area closest to the pot shards was arranged. The archaeologists dug out further silver coins - some at a depth of eight or nine inches - and the detectorists located more further afield on the same farm.
The farm, the location of which is not being revealed for fear of unauthorised visits by treasure hunters, is owned by the county council and is tenanted by a farmer. The fields have been ploughed by generations of farmers.
The coroner based at Reigate Police Station was informed and an inquest is to be held to decide if the coins are treasure trove.
If it ruled that they are, the state is entitled to keep the specimens but normally, the finder will be given the market value - in today's currency, of course.
Chief finder Mr Adams said this week he was still over the moon at the discovery. "It's out of this world. It's really really exciting. I think it's not so much the value of the coins, which we don't know yet, but it's the history. That's the main feeling above everything else."
Mr Adams has only been detecting for 18 months and joined the club to share his interest with others.
The discovery was carefully logged and plotted on a map by another David Williams, from Reigate. He is the county portable antiquities scheme finds liaison officer employed by Surrey County Council.
Archaeologist Mr Williams said he was excited that the operation went so well.
"There are coins from about half a dozen Roman rulers. This is the first Roman find in the area for some 30 years and now we know that there must have been a settlement.
"These areas on the edge of the weald were not intensively occupied. We are talking about a small farm - similar to that recently discovered at Meath Green, Horley, which is Roman or earlier, and points to a surprising amount of ancient activity.
"The settlement at Leigh would probably have been an early type of farm with a non-tiled dwelling made from wattle and daub - a network of twigs and rods plastered with mud or clay used as a building material. In other words a primitive cement.
"It seems that this whole area was more visited or lived in than we thought.
"The bulk of Roman activity was in the Crawley district, where a lot of iron-working took place.
Mr Williams added that he was pleased at the responsible way the detectorists had behaved in immediately reporting the find. He was sure that there was nothing of interest left at the site still to be dug up.
On Thursday, Mr Williams handed over the hoard to the British Museum in London where they will remain until full identification is given and a decision is made on whether or not to hold a treasure trove inquest.
Further fragments of metallic objects were located on the farm but have not been identified.
The discovery comes hot on the heels of another fascinating find in the Ashcombe Road area of Dorking.
Fourteen Saxon skeletons were uncovered when contractors working for the Sutton and East Surrey Water company dug a huge trench last year.
The skeletons were all lying in a certain position indicating the presence of a early form of Christian cemetery. In May, detectorists supervised by archaeologists found an Early Iron Age brooch along with a 1st century brooch at Bocketts Farm, Fetcham.
HOW ROMANS' FAMOUS ROAD CUT THROUGH BATH
BY TOM BRADSHAW
11:00 - 17 September 2004
Bath's position as a flourishing town in Roman times has been reinforced, thanks to discoveries made during an ambitious excavation project. A two-year dig near the Royal Crescent has unearthed Roman burial sites and buildings, and allowed archaeologists to piece together how the most important road in early Roman Britain cut through the city.
The excavation by the Bath Archaeological Trust also revealed the Georgian and Victorian history behind three former coach houses in Crescent Lane.
A two-man team from the trust was able to excavate while developer Future Heritage began building six new townhouses on the lane.
The dig led to Channel 4's popular Time Team programme, which is presented by Tony Robinson, filming an episode at the site in 2002.
The famous Roman road, whose route through Bath had previously been a mystery, was built in the first century and became known as the Fosse Way.
Tim Robey, projects manager for the trust, said: "This project did result in a significant discovery, providing the first positive evidence of the route of the Fosse Way across Bath, a discovery which solved a long-standing archaeological mystery, and spawned the Time Team programme around the Royal Crescent."
Excavation work on the site of the former coach houses and stables in Crescent Lane began in 2002.
It had been thought that the mews buildings, which were constructed for the owners of the Royal Crescent between 1767 and 1774, had been demolished. However, investigations behind the face of a disused garage on the site revealed that many features of the original coach houses and stables had survived as part of the new buildings.
The external walls of the mews, complete with the doorways through which grooms would have once walked to and from the Royal Crescent, were hidden away behind more modern brick facings.
Inside, the stumps of the internal walls and nearly all of the old floors had survived below the reinforced concrete floor of the garage.
Investigations at the site then unearthed part of the Fosse Way. The discovery represented the finding of a 'missing link' that completed knowledge of the Roman road's route across the south-western suburbs of Bath towards Odd Down.
The site was subsequently visited by the TV show, which worked alongside the trust and made more discoveries.
They included Roman burials on the lawn in front of the Royal Crescent, and Roman buildings below the site of the former St Andrew's Church which stood on the green behind it.
A detailed record has been made of the discoveries, including a comprehensive photographic record.
The excavation was funded by developer Future Heritage, which is reusing many of the old materials discovered during the dig.
Marek Lewcun, the trust's project officer, who was involved in the excavations from start to finish, said he was thrilled at what had been unearthed.
"The project has gone very well indeed, " he said. "We learnt a lot about the western side of Bath while working with Time Team."
EXPERTS THRILLED BY ROMAN DISCOVERIES
12:49 - 20 September 2004
Roman remains and a gravestone of "national importance" have been discovered during an archaeological dig in the middle of Gloucester.
The discoveries - which included the skeletons of five Romans, the cremated remains of three other people, plus Roman and medieval pottery - were made underneath the former Esso petrol station on London Road. The recent excavation also turned up what could prove be a highly unusual find - a gravestone for a 14-year-old slave boy called Martialis.
City archeologist Richard Sermon said: "We are very excited about the tombstone. If it does turn out to be a tombstone for a slave, this is quite rare. These finds are of national importance."
If the gravestone turns out to be one dedicated to a slave, it will be a major coup for Gloucester Museum, which will receive the artefacts to put on display.
Jim Hunter, the consultant archeologist on the project said: "There were five inhumations - that is burials of bodies. And there were three cremations and two round pottery vessels.
"The most spectacular find was the remains of a grave marker. The inscription underneath suggests - that is we only have part of the inscription - that 'Martialis, the slave of Cloni, died aged 14 years and lies here'.
"That's quite striking in that the commemoration of a slave on a gravestone is very unusual."
Oxford Archaeology excavated the site at 118 to 120 London Road during August and the beginning of this month.
The mixture of unusual items has now been taken away for further analysis, but Mr Hunter believes the gravestone can be dated to between the first and second century A.D.
The site was dug up because 32 apartments are to be built on top of the known Roman burial ground.
Angela Boyle, from Oxford Archaeology said: "What's most exciting about this stone is that it was found in the original Roman cemetery soil and had not been moved. Usually these stones have been used in other contexts like walls or churches. This is quite significant."
n Martialis may have been a Gloucester- born Briton taken into slavery and given a Roman name. However, many slaves were brought over with families who moved from Italy.
He may have even volunteered to become a slave because the life could be easier. Both men and women were sold as slaves but young boys were the most expensive slaves to buy.
Unique shipwreck found in good shape
The wreckage of a ship dating from the 14th century has been found by divers in the Skien River in Telemark. Archaeologists have a new treasure on their hands, because the wreckage can offer rare insight into vessel construction in the Middle Ages.
Divers found well-preserved wooden portions of the vessel from the Middle Ages.
Many had feared that the vessel from the Middle Ages was damaged when it was first discovered during dredging operations in the 1950s.
"The dredging brought up large portions of the vessel's woodwork in 1953, and marine archaeologists thought the vessel itself had been destroyed," Pål Nymoen of the Norwegian Maritime Museum in Oslo told newspaper Aftenposten.
The use of divers in marine archaeology wasn't very advanced at the time, he noted, and the shipwreck dubbed Bølevraket was largely forgotten.
It resurfaced, so to speak, this summer when Norwegian authorities decided to place stones along the bottom of the Skien River, which runs into open sea south of Oslo, to hinder underwater erosion. Divers from the Norwegian Maritime Museum were sent into the area, to check whether any cultural treasures remained.
It didn't take long before they could report the re-discovery of wreckage that seemed largely intact. The vessel is believed to have been built during the late 1300s either in Scandinavia or the Baltic region.
The vessel was single-masted and is believed to have been about 20 meters long. Archaeologists think it was sailing from Eidsborg in Lårdal when it sank. The wreckage is lying at a depth of just 10 meters, around 300 meters upstream from Menstad.
Nymoen, who's thrilled over the discovery, is planning a full excavation of the vessel and hopes to raise its smallest portions. "We don't know much about Norwegian vessels from the Middle Ages, except that they became bigger, wider and could carry more cargo over the years," he said. "Pictures have been found in churches and on stone monuments."
"Our goal is to secure as much as possible from the vessel," he said.
Aftenposten English Web Desk
D'ya dig my new image?
By MEL HUNTER
SHOPPERS in London's Oxford Street ignored this ug-ly mug sauntering along ... unaware it was gardener Alan Titchmarsh disguised as a caveman for his new telly show.
Alan was testing the theory that our 500,000-year-old ancestors Neanderthal man would not stand out from the crowd today.
So he underwent four hours of make-up to emerge with bulbous nose, matted hair and beard, high forehead and brown stumpy teeth.
But no one looked twice when he donned modern clothes to walk down the heaving street.
He said: "I bought a card in Clintons - not an eye was batted. Then I checked into the Grosvenor House Hotel - there was not a flicker.
"It proved we are not as different from them as we like to think.
"Neanderthal man has had a bad press. He is seen as a grunting caveman but in fact he buried his dead, respected his elders and so was not so different after all."
The housewives' favourite, who quit Ground Force and Gardener's World two years ago, is back on BBC with British Isles: A Natural History.
The eight-part series sees him turn action man as he climbs, sails and goes whitewater rafting.
The star, 55, said: "In a way natural history came before gardening. I was the little boy in the garden looking at worms and birds and butterflies before I decided plants were interesting too."
Woman finds rare car buried in garden
A woman has found a 60-year-old car buried in her garden.
The unnamed woman from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, called in experts after discovering metal under the grass at her home as she mowed the lawn.
The car turned out to be a rare Ford V8 Pilot, says the Daily Mirror.
Sheets of corrugated steel and a frame of railway sleepers buried with the motor suggest it was used as a makeshift air-raid shelter. The car was buried without its engine or wheels and may have been built in 1935 or 1936.
The Early Ford V8 Club UK, who identified it, said: "We are absolutely astonished. We usually find cars in barns."
Research showed workmen had unearthed it in 1948 - but covered it up. The owner is a mystery, and the society must now decide whether to display the car - or bury it again.