New evidence challenges hypothesis of modern human origins

www.chinaview.cn  2005-04-27 17:00:01


WUHAN, April 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese archaeologists said newly found evidence proves that a valley of Qingjiang River, a tributary on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, might be one of the regions where Homo sapiens, or modern man, originated.


The finding challenges the "Out-of-Africa" hypothesis of modern human origins, according to which about 100,000 years ago modern humans originated in Africa, migrated to other continents, and replaced populations of archaic humans across the globe.


The finding comes from a large-scale excavation launched in the Qingjiang River Valley in 1980s when construction began on a rangeof hydropower stations on the Qingjiang River, a fellow researcher with the Hubei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.


Archaeologists discovered three human tooth fossils in one mountain cave in Mazhaping Village, in the Gaoping Township of Jianshi County, western Hubei Province, and found pieces of lithictechnology and evidence of fire usage in Minor Cave in Banxia. There were similar findings in Nianyu Mountain and in Zhadong Cavein Banxia, all in Changyang Prefecture of the Qiangjiang River Valley.


A special research panel named the Jianshi Man research team has been set up to analyze the findings.


Zheng Shaohua, a member of the Jianshi man research team from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, confirmed the tooth fossils belonged to humans dating back between 2.15 and 1.95 million yearsago.


The archaeologists also found fossils of bone implements in thecultural strata at the ruins where the human tooth fossils were discovered.


The fossilized bone implements bear traces of human beating, testifying that humans, not apes, lived inside the mountain cave, said Qiu Zhanxiang, another member on the Jianshi Man research team.


The pieces of lithic technology and traces of human fire usage found in Minor Cave in Banxia were said to date back 130,000 years,the ruins of human fire usage in Nianyu Mountain were dated as 120,000 years or 90,000 years old, while pieces of lithic technology and traces of fire usage found in Zhadong Cave in Banxia, were dated as 27,000 years old, said Professor Zheng.


Before these latest archaeological findings, Chinese archaeologists had found fossils of what is now known as ChangyangMan in 1957 under the leadership of renowned Chinese paleoanthropologist Jia Lanpo. Changyang Man represents early Homosapiens dating back 200,000 years.


The latest archaeological findings together with the earlier discovery of Changyang Man all prove there was continuity in Homo sapiens' development in China, said Liu Qingzhu, head of the Archaeology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.


"They are also of great significance to research on Paleolithic era in China and East Asia, and theories regarding multiple origins of mankind," said Liu. Enditem



Stone Age Cutups

Deathly rituals emerge at Neandertal site


After excavating a cache of Neandertal fossils about 100 years ago at Krapina Cave in what's now Croatia, researchers concluded that incisions on the ancient individuals' bones showed that they had been butchered and presumably eaten by their comrades. That claim has proved difficult to confirm. A new, high-tech analysis indicates that the Krapina Neandertals ritually dismembered corpses in ways that must have held symbolic meaning for the group-whether or not Neandertals ate those remains.


Neandertals apparently possessed a facility for abstract thought that has often been regarded as unique to modern Homo sapiens, says study director Jill Cook of the British Museum in London. The Krapina Neandertals lived around 130,000 years ago.


"Some kind of mortuary practice that had symbolic significance was going on at Krapina," Cook suggests. Although cannibalism might also have occurred, the bodies were systematically sliced up rather than quickly butchered, in her view. "Even eating people is a complex behavior" that likely would have included ritual of some kind, the British anthropologist notes.


GROOVY GUY in a new study, a partial skull from Croatia's Krapina cave revealed a sequence of stone-tool incisions, one of which is clearly visible (arrow) atop the head.


Cook described the new investigation last week in Milwaukee at the annual meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society.


She and her colleagues used digital-imaging microscopy to generate high-resolution views of stone-tool incisions on Krapina remains. Many of the more than 800 fossils, which represent nearly 80 individuals, contain such markings. The researchers digitally lifted and separated images of incisions on individual bones for closer examination.


A partial skull known as Krapina 3 provided the biggest jolt. To the researchers' surprise, it contains a pattern of regularly spaced, parallel grooves across the top of the head. "Someone sat with this skull in their lap and produced this extraordinary pattern with a stone tool," Cook says.


Krapina 3 and other skull remains exhibit marks made by slicing away the ears, removing the tongue, detaching the lower jaw, and skinning the head. Lower-body fossils contain incisions created by removing muscle from bones as well as abrasions caused by scrubbing fat and gristle off bones. Cuts on pelvic and leg bones indicate that bodies lay facedown during dismemberment.


Researchers who have worked at the Krapina Cave greeted the new findings with caution. "We can't rule out some type of ritual activity at Krapina, or even cannibalism," says Fred Smith of Loyola University in Chicago. "But we can't tell for sure why these bones were processed." Many limb bones at the site were smashed open, perhaps to extract protein-rich marrow, Smith notes.


Even with digital technology, it's difficult to pinpoint incisions on the Krapina fossils, adds Milford Wolpoff of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. A shellac coating applied to the bones as a preservative shortly after their discovery obscures many surface features on the bones, he asserts.


Of stone-tool marks that can be seen with digital microscopy, many resemble those on butchered-animal remains at later Stone Age sites, says Paola Villa of the University of Colorado Museum in Boulder. In her view, that raises the possibility that cannibalism, devoid of ritual, occurred at Krapina.


Studies comparing the Krapina bones with those of prehistoric game animals are under way, Cook says. -B. BOWER


Copyright Science Service, Incorporated Apr 16, 2005

Source: Science News



Tehran: 16:55 ,  2005/05/

Ancient clay tariff certificates discovered at Toll-e Bondu

TEHRAN, May 6 (MNA) -- A team of archaeologists recently discovered over 50 clay tariff certificates at the 6000-year-old site of Toll-e Bondu in the southern Iranian province of Fars, the director of the team announced on Thursday.


“The tariff certificates indicate that there were substantial trade exchanges in the region,” Ehsan Yaghmaii added.


Toll-e Bondu is located near Nurabad, 158 kilometers west of the provincial capital Shiraz.


“The tariff certificates are similar to modern-day jettons. Merchants of Toll-e Bondu certified their goods through the clay tariff certificates, and the number and quality of the commodities were inscribed on them,” Yaghmaii said.


The clay tariff certificates are the same size as a match box, he added.


The team of archaeologists had previously discovered over 5000 pottery works and shards and a large pottery workshop at the ancient site. Due to the evidence of mass production of pottery, archaeologists believe that the products were also exported to other regions.


Toll-e Bondu is situated between Marvdasht and Khuzestan Province, wherein some productions of the site were previously found. In fact, the people of Toll-e Bondu exported their products to Susa and Haft-Tappeh in Khuzestan and Marvdasht in Fars, experts say.


At the ancient site, the team also recently discovered an instrument which archaeologists believe is a pen dating back to the mid-Elamite era (1500-1100 BC).


The archaeological studies are being carried out by Kazerun Azad University and the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization.



Tantalizing clues in ancient mounds



SAGA-Ancient mounds here may be among the nation's oldest and prove that the original owners were pretty inventive for their day.


Recent excavations at the Higashimyo archeological site indicate the shell mounds date back 7,000 years-to the early Jomon Period (8000 B.C.-300 B.C.).


Higashimyo has western Japan's largest such mounds. They are believed to have been created by the dumping of shells and other refuse.


Remains of more than 40 baskets, hand-woven from thin strips of wood, have been found there. Experts say they may be the oldest so far discovered.


Many large mounds have been found in eastern Japan, mainly in the Kanto region, that date from the Jomon Period. But sites as large and as old as those in Higashimyo are rare, experts said.


"The mounds illustrate how people shifted from hunting to cultivating marine resources," said Masayuki Komoto, a Kumamoto University professor who heads the excavation. "The findings will allow us to make a thorough study of ancient people's daily lives."


The city's board of education, which is overseeing the excavation, concluded the shell mounds are from the early Jomon Period because pottery particular to that time was found.


The mounds were excavated in May 2004. Earlier, remains of settlements and graves were discovered. Six mounds, covering a total area of about 1,250 square meters, are being examined.


Stratum in the soil shows evidence of a shell layer at least 1 meter deep and up to 15 meters wide that runs north to south for about 500 meters across the entire area.


About 10 percent of the site has been excavated. Archaeologists have discovered not only shells and remnants of hand-woven wooden baskets, but also fish bones and tools fashioned from deer antlers.


The hand-woven containers are in four styles.


The tools are patterned with regular notches of about 1 millimeter in diameter.


Tatsuo Kobayashi, a professor of archaeology at Kokugakuin University, said the containers and tools are evidence that, despite popular belief, Jomon Period people had a relatively high level of technology.


The Higashimyo site was discovered during the construction of a reservoir designed to offset flood waters.


Experts believe the area used to be an estuary which was connected to a shoreline during the Jomon Period.(IHT/Asahi: May 4,2005)



Over 3,000-year-old bronze sword discovered in Henan

www.chinaview.cn 2005-05-04 15:30:59


ZHENGZHOU, May 4 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese archaeologists have recently unearthed a short bronze sword in one of the seven newly-discovered pits of chariots and horses in the famous ruins of Yin, in Anyang city of central China's Henan Province, said a local cultural relic official.


The official with the Henan Provincial Cultural Heritage Administration said the double-edged sword is about 30 to 35 centimeters long, and its handle, body and ridge are all clear andeasy to be identified.


The official said the seven pits of chariots and horses as wellas three medium-sized tombs were discovered in a recent excavation at the western edge of the Yin Ruins in Anyang, which was the capital of the late Shang Dynasty (c. 1300-1050 BC), some 500 km south of the national capital Beijing.


Five of the seven newly-discovered pits remained basically intact and they are arranged in a line, with chariots and horses facing eastward, according to the official.


Archaeologists also unearthed 30 bronze arrowheads in the same pit where the sword was found.


Of the three tombs, the one coded M13 was the biggest, which archaeologists said to have been robbed of, losing many cultural relics. But they still unearthed a dozen bronze daggers, a musical stone and over 20 bronze arrowheads from the tomb.


Covering 30 square kilometers, the Yin Ruins was first discovered by a Chinese archaeologist in 1899. Yin was an ancient name for the Shang Dynasty.


Excavations on either side of the Huan River have revealed tombs, foundations of palaces and temples (but no city wall), bronzes, jade carvings, lacquer, many inlaid items, white carved ceramics and high-fired green-glazed wares as well as oracle bones. One of important discoveries of Yinxu (Yin Ruins) is the inscribed animal bones and tortoise shells, known as oracle bones. The bonesand shells, used for divination by Shang kings, carry the earliestknown examples of Chinese characters.


Yin Ruins topped the 100 greatest archaeological discoveries of China in the 20th century.


The recent excavation at Yinxu was jointly conducted by the archaeological research institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Anyang City Cultural Relics Work Team from January to April this year. Enditem



Major Bronze Age haul unearthed 

More than 140 pieces have been recovered from the garden


The 145 items, dating from about 800BC, were found by Simon Francis as he landscaped the grounds of a house in Cringleford, near Norwich.


Norfolk County Council archaeologists say the haul is one of the largest and most significant they have known.


Curator of archaeology Alan West said: "The items are in good condition and the more items we find the better knowledge we can develop of the era."


It is very unusual to find items from two completely different eras all on one site


Norfolk curator of archaeology Alan West 


He said the items, one of the biggest finds in Norfolk, had been buried in a shallow pit.


"I would have thought the items were buried there as it was a safe area and they planned to return to recover them at a later date but, for whatever reason, that never happened," Mr West said.


Since the first 135 items were found on Friday, archaeologists have revisited the site and found more, including a Viking brooch.


Mr West said: "It is very unusual to find items from two completely different eras all on one site."


The haul included axe heads, spear heads, sword parts, tools and ingots.


Mr West said the coroner would now decide if the find qualifies as treasure.


It is hoped the artefacts will eventually go on public display.



Mycenaean port of Athens found?

Archaeologists in the capital’s southern coastal suburb of Palaio Faliro have uncovered what appear to be traces of ancient Athens’s first port before the city’s naval and shipping center was moved to Piraeus, a report said yesterday.


A rescue excavation on a plot earmarked for development has revealed artifacts and light structures dating, with intervals, from Mycenaean times to the fifth century BC, when the port of Phaleron — after which the modern suburb was named — was superseded by Piraeus, according to Ta Nea daily.


“This is a port associated with two myths — Theseus and the Argonauts — and an historic event, the Trojan War,” archaeologist Constantina Kaza was quoted as saying. Theseus is believed to have been a Late Bronze Age king of Athens whose successors sent a contingent to fight in Troy.


The site, some 350 meters from the modern coastline, contained pottery, tracks from the carts that would have served the port, and makeshift fireplaces where travelers waiting to take ship would have cooked and kept warm.



2,300 years old and still stunning



ARCHAEOLOGISTS yesterday unveiled what they said might be the "most beautiful mummy ever discovered in Egypt".


The superbly maintained 2,300-year-old mummy, bearing a golden mask and covered in brightly coloured images of gods and goddesses was revealed at the Saqqara Pyramids complex, south of Cairo.


The unidentified mummy, dating from the 30th pharaonic dynasty, was found by an Egyptian-led archaeological team in a wooden sarcophagus buried in sand at the bottom of a 20ft shaft.


It was covered from head to toe in brightly coloured burial material depicting a range of graphic scenes, including Maat, the goddess of balance and truth, who was shown with outstretched arms that took the shape of feathered wings.


Also shown were the four children of the falcon-headed god, Horus, and the rituals and processes used to mummify the person, who is thought to have been wealthy considering the burial location and fine gold used for the mask.


Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said: "The sand revealed what may be the most beautiful mummy ever found in Egypt.


"The ancient Egyptians drew maybe the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen in my life on a mummy.


"The artists who made this mummy more than 2,000 years ago demonstrated the brilliance of the ancient Egyptians by using stunning colours and depicting his face so graphically."


Mr Hawass said that, within the next week, experts would use CT scanning technology to reveal more details about the ancient Egyptian’s identity and how he lived and died.


Afterwards, the mummy would be displayed at Saqqara’s museum of Imhotep, the famed architect who designed the Stepped Pyramid - Egypt’s oldest.


The mummy had been buried within the necropolis of King Teti, a funerary area containing scores of burial chambers, temples and false doors that ancient Egyptians said the souls of the dead would use to leave their tombs.


The necropolis is built alongside the collapsed pyramid of Teti, who ruled during ancient Egypt’s 6th dynasty, more than 4,300 years ago.


Mr Hawass said that a "lost" pyramid had been located in the Saqqara area and would be uncovered after two months.


Saqqara, located about 12 miles from Cairo, is one of Egypt’s most popular tourist sites and hosts a collection of temples, tombs and funerary complexes.


The latest discovery follows last month’s breakthrough by Egyptian archaeologists who revealed more details about the circumstances of the death of the boy king Tutankhamun.


A detailed CT scan, involving 1,700 three-dimensional colour images of his mummified body, established that the teenage Egyptian pharaoh was not, as had been claimed, the victim of murder. However, the scan was unable to determine precisely what did kill him more than three millennia ago.


The new find was made close to where an Australian-led team of archaeologists recently discovered three coffins after they opened a secret door hidden behind a statue in a separate burial chamber.


The team that made that discovery had been exploring a much older tomb - dating back some 4,200 years - belonging to a man believed to have been a tutor to the 6th dynasty King Pepi II, when they moved a pair of statues and came across the door, Mr Hawass said.


Inside, they found a tomb from the 26th dynasty with three intricate coffins, each with a mummy. One of the mummies that was swathed in turquoise blue beads and bound in strips of black linen.


Mr Hawass told reporters that the wooden coffins - called anthropoids, because they were in the shape of human beings - bore inscriptions dating to the 26th dynasty, together with a statue of a deity called Petah Sakar.


Petah was the god of artisans, while Sakar was the god of the cemetery.


The door was hidden behind the statues of a man believed to have been Meri, the tutor of Pepi II, and Meri’s wife, whose name was not revealed.


Meri also was believed to oversee four sacred boats found in the pyramids, which were buried with Egypt’s kings to help them in the afterlife.


"I believe this discovery can enrich us about two important periods in our history, the Old Kingdom, which dates back to 4,200 years, and the 26th dynasty, that was 2,500 years ago," Mr Hawass said.


According to tradition, Pepi II - the last pharaoh of the 6th dynasty - ruled from 2278-2184 BC, one of the longest reigns in ancient Egyptian history.


After Egypt’s 30th dynasty, the country was ruled by Persians, who occupied it for about 15 years before the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great took control.



Magnificent mummy found in Egypt 


A discovery that's been called the "most beautiful mummy" in Egypt has been dug up by archaeologists.

The find dates back to the 30th Dynasty, which means it is around 2,300 years old, and has some of the most exquisite decoration ever seen.


The mummy is wearing a golden mask and has brightly-coloured pictures of gods and goddesses on it.


It was found buried in a pit. "The sand revealed maybe the most beautiful mummy ever found in Egypt," one expert said.


Archaeological experts will now do special scans on the mummy to find out more about who he was and how he lived and died.


The mummy was found near the famous Saqqara pyramids, where there are lots of burial chambers.


Once research is finished, the mummy will be displayed at Saqqara's museum of Imhotep - named after the man who designed the oldest pyramids in Egypt.




May 6, 2005

Roman ruins dig up debate

Archaeologist says he unearthed palace that backs up myths; others question link.

By Ian Fisher

New York Times News Service


ROME -- This is a sublime moment for Andrea Carandini, an imposing man with white hair under a blue beret who looks every inch like what he is: one of Italy's most renowned archaeologists. It is not just that he has discovered something extraordinary underneath the tightly packed ruins of the Roman Forum: a palace that he thinks belonged to the first king of Rome, who just maybe was actually named Romulus.


But after 20 years of digging into the very heart of Rome, he is also convinced that now, finally, other scholars, whom he calls "my opponents," will be forced to "shut up."


"I can see, little by little, them falling apart," he said, in English unnervingly more refined than that of most people who grew up speaking it.


"Opponents" may be too strong a word. But in the two decades that Carandini, 68, has excavated in and around the Palatine Hill, the epicenter of successive generations of Roman rulers, he has without doubt attracted a fair share of skeptics. That is not for his skills as an archaeologist or for his discoveries, which everyone agrees are world-class.


The issue, they say, is how much weight to give the mythical accounts of the early histories of Rome when archaeologists decide what it is they have dug up. How seriously to take the story of Romulus, who by legend was suckled by a she-wolf, killed his brother Remus, then founded Rome on the Palatine, by some accounts, in 753 B.C. (before being swallowed up by a cloud).


Carandini's answer -- and this is what gets him into trouble -- is, very seriously.


In fact, he says his latest discoveries show that the myth could be true, even if the king's name was not necessarily Romulus (though he thinks it could have been), and that his wet nurse was not a she-wolf.


The new discoveries, he says, also add weight to one he made in the late 1980s -- still contentious in the sharp-elbowed world of ancient history -- of what he says was a fortifying wall on the Palatine built by the founders of Rome, dated, he says, to about 750 B.C., the same time as Romulus.


He says he is not, as some of his detractors suggest, obsessed with the idea of Romulus or proving the Roman legends correct. But he does think that in the end, he is proving that they are not completely false either.


"There is a convergence between the king who built this wall and the literary tradition of Romulus," he said on a recent tour of his entire excavation.


Others say that in his two decades at the site, Carandini has sometimes worked backward from myth to explain what he has found, rather than waiting for evidence to emerge from the finds.


"He's a distinguished archaeologist, with a very interesting and imaginative way of interpreting his evidence," said Tim Cornell, director of the Institute of Classical Studies at the University of London.


Carandini's most recent discoveries have not yet been published formally -- a fact that in itself raises some scholarly eyebrows. But over the last two years, he has uncovered what he says is a giant aristocratic house, with two big wooden beams, a banquet hall, seats, pottery and a large courtyard. Just outside the palace, he says, are other important and related discoveries, notably a house that he thinks held the household fire of the Virgins of Vesta, the goddess of the early Romans.


However history judges Carandini's work, supporters and skeptics will have an opportunity to judge for themselves. Rome will be putting on the first exhibition of his finds this summer.



Italian digs unearth ancient Parthian court

Turin, May 7, ANSA/IRNA -- Italian digs in Turkmenistan are unearthing an extensive archaeological complex that was once a flourishing artistic and political center for the ancient civilization of Parthia. The latest round of digs has revealed invaluable detail about a fortified complex, located 18km southwest of the country's modern capital Ashkhabad, near the border of Iran, according to the excavation director, Antonio Invernizzi of Turin University.


Archaeologists believe that Old Nisa, one of the Parthian Empire's earliest capitals, was founded in the 2nd century BC.


It was renamed Mithradatkirt, or fortress of Mithradates (171-138 BC) after the king who turned Parthia into a powerful empire and one of Ancient Rome's greatest rivals.


Invernizzi explained that the complex expanded out from an original cluster of buildings protected by walled fortifications after Mithradates conquered Iran and Mesopotamia.


So far, he said, perfectly conserved walls of six to eight meters high had been uncovered, with the original decoration still distinguishable.


Substantial buildings, Mithraic mausoleums and shrines, inscribed documents and a looted treasury have also come to light.


Smaller finds include various artworks, marble statues, fragments of massive clay monuments -- including a depiction of Mithradates -- and around 40 ivory drinking horns, the outer rims of which decorated with people or classical mythological scenes.


Italian archaeologists started excavating Old Nisa -- which was totally destroyed by an earthquake in the first decade BC -- in 1990, picking up where earlier digs by the Russians had left off in the 1950s.


The Parthian Empire was the most powerful force on the Iranian plateau from the 3rd century BC onwards, intermittently controlling Mesopotamia between 190 BC and 224 AD.


Originally a tribe of nomads, the Parni people rose to power under Mithradates.


At one point, its empire occupied all of modern Iran, Iraq and Armenia, parts of Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. It also briefly held territories in Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine.



Digging into the past

Published on 05/05/2005


What the Romans did for Carlisle: The three photographs show Roman remains uncovered during building work at West Walls in the city. It is thought they are the remenants of a bath house that served a post house for visiting officials. Large pillars and tubes were found By Anna Richardson


REMINDERS of Carlisle’s rich Roman past have been discovered by builders working in West Walls.


The remains, which include a complex under-floor heating system, were found last month while builders were excavating foundations for a property development.


It is believed that they may have been part of a bath-house serving a post house for travelling government officials.


The remains have been removed to be studied, but may return as an display in the garden area of the five flats, to be known as Weaver Court, which will be completed in August.


Dave Sullivan, contracts manager for Boardwell Building company, said: “In the building we were in we had an idea there would be something there.


“It was really good to find them – it’s unearthing part of history.”


The artifacts included large pillars – known as monoliths – and tubes through which hot air would have been blown into a series of rooms via an outside furnace.


Carlisle, which went by the Roman name Luguvallium, was the most north-western town in the Roman Empire.


But remains from the period have never been found so far west, suggesting that the Roman town was larger than historians previously believed.


Archaeologist Ian Caruana, who was on-site to watch the excavation, said: “It has helped us confirm the intention of this building and gives a good indication of the importance of this part of the town.”


The current building was converted into houses in the mid 19th century and then to flats in 1957.


Structural problems have occurred over time due to medieval ground build-up and sewers installed in the 19th century, which weakened the foundations.


The building and the surrounding area have been further damaged by increased traffic and vandalism, making the excavation necessary.


K3D Partnership, the development wing of Phoenix Architecture & Planning of Abbey Street, are developing the building.


They are working with assistance from Carlisle City Council and English Heritage as part of the council’s Heritage Economic Regeneration Scheme.



200-year-old mummy found in Vietnam

May 07 2005 at 11:11AM  


Hanoi - The well-preserved remains of a 200-year-old mummy in Hanoi, buried in layers of fine silk, have been discovered in Vietnam, an archaeologist said Saturday.


The corpse - estimated to be a man who died in his early sixties - was unearthed last week by workers at a construction site, said Nguyen Lan Cuong of the National Institute of Archaeology, who was involved in the excavation.


Cuong said the corpse was placed in a two-layer wooden coffin and sealed by a covering of limestone, sand, syrup and paper, and had remained intact.


Experts have removed scented oils from the coffin, along with 14 traditional silk tunics and two pairs of trousers that the man was dressed in and were all still in good shape, he said.


"It's a very interesting discovery because we could get to know what clothes people at that time were wearing," Cuong said, adding he believes the man belonged to a wealthy family and was likely buried at the end of the 18th century or early 19th century.


Cuong said the institute has discovered about 35 other similar corpses, with the oldest dating back to the 17th century. However, the scented oils poured onto this corpse to preserve it, did not emit a foul smell as has been the case with many others.


The corpse was expected to be reburied later on Saturday because experts were struggling to preserve it, he said, adding that they had determined he was not a famous historical figure. - Sapa-AP



Unearthing of skeletons sheds light on legend of saint



ABOUT 200 skeletons dating as far back as 1200 years have been unearthed.

The foundations of a medieval church and graveyard have also been found by Historic Scotland near Tantallon Castle, by North Berwick.

Archaeologists were called in earlier this year when human remains were found during ploughing at Auldhame farm.

Some of the graves are believed to be medieval, but others could date from the time of St Baldred, who lived in the eighth century.

The saint founded a monastery at nearby Tyninghame and lived as a hermit on Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth before his death in 756AD.

Historic Scotland said some of the earlier burials might provide evidence of links between Auldhame and St Baldred.

It is believed that the team could uncover structures dating from the time of the saint.

Patrick Ashmore, principal inspector of ancient monuments at Historic Scotland, said the discoveries would prove crucial to understanding East Lothian's past.

Biddy Simpson, East Lothian council archaeologist, who is involved at the site, stressed the significance of the finds.

She said: "This is an extraordinary multi-period site in an area already known to be rich in archaeological remains and connected by tantalising historical associations with the legend of St Baldred."

John Gooder, senior project officer with AOC Archaeology, which is carrying out the Auldhame excavation work for Historic Scotland, said: "The excavation provides an exciting addition to East Lothian's rich heritage. The area we are working on overlooks the Bass Rock and appears to have been a focal point for many centuries for worship and burial in the medieval period, but perhaps also for a prehistoric settlement."

The foundations of the early chapel uncovered on the site show signs of several phases including a mortar-bonded structure, which could possibly be a mausoleum.

The date of the earliest settlement at Auldhame is unknown, but the discovery of a prehistoric round cairn and Iron Age burials nearby suggest the area was occupied from at least the Bronze Age.



Soil search reveals Rose Theatre secrets

29 April 2005 London SE1 website team


New light is being shed on the Elizabethan Bankside theatregoing experience by a re-examination of evidence from an old excavation of the Rose Theatre site in Park Street.


According to a report in the latest issue of BBC History Magazine, a detailed new analysis of soil samples taken from the site 15 years ago suggests that a trip to the theatre in the 1590s was a huge party.


Beer, ale and wine were drunk in apparently large quantities, huge numbers of cockles, mussels and oysters were consumed, and tobacco was already being smoked extensively, even though it had only been introduced to Europe a few decades earlier.


The soil search was carried out by Julian Bowsher, one of the archaeologists on the original dig. He says it provides hitherto unsuspected clues to the social habits of Elizabethan theatre audiences. The full findings will be present a book to be published next year by English Heritage and the Museum of London Archaeological Service, but Bowsher shared some of his discoveries with BBC History Magazine because there is the prospect of a new excavation.


The Rose, the first theatre to be built on Bankside, was built in 1587 and demolished in 1606. It was uncovered in a pre-development investigation of the site in 1989 and the remains proved far more detailed than expected. Stars including Ian McKellen and Judi Dench led protests to prevent bulldozers destroying the remnants.


As a result of the campaign, the remains were buried under a protective concrete shell. Recent checks have confirmed that the previously unexplored areas of the wooden building are still in good condition. Now it is hoped that a new dig can take place and a permanent display be created with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund.



Trousers tell why Napoleon died 

Clothes appear to confirm the official explanation for Napoleon's death


A study of Napoleon Bonaparte's trousers could put an end to the theory that the French Emperor was poisoned.

Napoleon died aged 52 on St Helena in the south Atlantic where he had been banished after his defeat at Waterloo.


His post mortem showed he died of stomach cancer, but it has been suggested arsenic poisoning or over-zealous treatment was to blame.


Now Swiss researchers say his trousers show he lost weight prior his death, confirming he had cancer.


The research, by scientists from the anatomical pathology department of the University Hospital in Basel and the Institute of Medical History at the University of Zurich, looked at 12 pairs of Napoleon's trousers.


Four were from before his exile and eight were pairs he wore during the six years he spent in exile on St Helena, including the pair he wore while dying.


The researchers also collated information from post mortems on the weights of patients who had died of stomach cancer.


They then measured the waists of healthy people to work out the correlation between that measurement and their actual weight.


This information was then used to calculate Napoleon's weight in the months leading up to his death.


The largest pair of trousers Napoleon wore had a waist measurement of 110cm; those he wore just before his death measured 98cm.


This, they say, shows he lost between 11 and 15kg over the last six months of his life.




The Swiss team say the presence of arsenic in Napoleon's hair, the source of the poisoning theory, was linked to this enthusiasm for wine.


At the time, it was the custom of winemakers to dry their casks and basins with arsenic.


Dr Alessandro Lugli, who carried out the study which appeared in the American Review of Human Pathology, told the BBC News website he thought theories about alternative explanations for Napoleon's death would continue to be put forward.


But he said: "We are sure that the autopsy report speaks clearly in favour of gastric [stomach] cancer."


The demise of the French Emperor has provoked numerous theories.


Last year, researchers from the San Francisco Medical Examiner's Department said in New Scientist magazine that it was regular doses of antimony potassium tartrate, or tartar emetic a poisonous colourless salt which was used to make him vomit, that killed him.


He was also given regular enemas.


The researchers, led by forensic pathologist Steven Karch, say this would have caused a serious potassium deficiency, which can lead to a potentially fatal heart condition called Torsades de Pointes in which rapid heartbeats disrupt blood flow to the brain.


Dr Karch told BBC News Online at the time that he studied similar modern cases.


He said: "There is a very strong argument for this - but it's not as sexy as the idea that he was murdered.


"The arsenic wasn't killing him - his doctors did him in!"