Basques were fishermen more than 8,000 years ago
The Basques that settled 8,300 years ago in the Jaizkibel Mountain near the Basque coast were skillful enough to go fishing two kilometres out to sea.
The human beings that lived in the Basque Country in the Mesolithic, more than 8,000 years ago, set sail out to sea fishing, something which meant 50 percent of their diet, Aranzadi society of sciences reported Tuesday after examining archaeological remains found in Gipuzkoa.
They did not hunt whales, as their descendants many years after, neither tuna nor anchovy as the current Basque fishermen but the Basques that settled some 8,300 years ago between the Pasaia and Hondarribia coast, were skillful enough to set sail one or two kilometres out to sea to fish.
Moving from Paleolithic to Neolithic and immersed in climatic and cultural changes, men had no alternative but to search for new ways to get food and made their way out to sea, Alvaro Arrizabalaga, member of the Aranzadi Society of Sciences and Prehistory professor at the Basque Public University explains.
The remains discovered in Gipuzkoa show a man between 30 and 40 years old with a diet consisting on some species of fishes that are usually caught some kilometres far from the coast. Other human remains found in some caves in the Spanish region of Asturias showed similar conclusions.
Archaeologists uncover 6,500-year-old Neolithic shrine in Prague
Prague, June 9 (CTK)
Archaeologists have uncovered a 6,200-6,500 year-old round shrine (rondel) from the Neolithic Age in Prague, archaeologist Milan Kucharik from the Museum of the Capital Prague told reporters today.
The shrine served religious rituals, and it was probably also used for feasts and exchange of goods, said Kucharik.
The rondel building with a 23-metre diameter was enclosed by two ditches with three palisades and it had two gates - one from east and the other from west.
The shrine´s age may be determined more precisely on the basis of the analysis of animal bones found in the rondel, Kucharik said.
Archaeologists have been searching the spot at the construction site Prague´a Na Hurce neighbourhood since March.
Apart from the shrine, they have found two houses of a probably important Neolithic settlement as not all settlements had their own shrine, said Kucharik.
It has been the third prehistoric rondel building uncovered on Prague´s territory. The other two are in Prague´s Krc and Vinor neighbourhoods.
Apart from the remains of prehistoric buildings, the archaeologists found a number of Neolithic tools, broken ceramic pieces and even some whole vessels. They have also revealed nine graves from the Old Bronze age on the site.
Round Neolithic buildings have been uncovered on the territory of East Germany, the Czech Lands and Hungary. They were built by descendants of old farmers´ cultures.
Martin Kuna from the Czech Academy of Sciences´ Archaeological institute said that over 10 rondels had been found in the Czech Republic, the most famous are in Tesetice, south Moravia, and in Bylany near Kutna Hora, central Bohemia.
The Rondel shrines could have spread through Moravia to Bohemia from the Danube River valley where the Neolithic culture originated from.
Ancient Stone Chimes Unearthed in SW China
Chinese archaeologists on Saturday unearthed two good-sized stone chimes, an ancient musical instrument, dating back to the Shang Dynasty (16th-11th centuries BC) in the southwestern province of Sichuan.
The bigger one of the two stone chimes, which is about 110 cm long and the largest of all Shang stone chimes ever excavated, was found in the Jinsha Ruins in the suburbs of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan and about 2,200 kilometers southwest of Beijing.
Small holes were drilled in the stone chime, which is in an elliptic shape, so that it could be suspended from a frame. The other smaller stone chime, unearthed together with the big one, has two string lines.
"Stone chimes served as special musical instruments at imperial rituals in the Shang age, and it is the first time to find stone chimes in southwest China," said Wang Yi, director of Chengdu Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.
"The two stone chimes show that the Shang people had fairly complete rites and music system for the activity of sacrifice," he said, adding that the performance must have been quite spectacular because the size of the stone chimes is so big.
(Xinhua News Agency June 11, 2006)
New glacier theory on Stonehenge
A geology team has contradicted claims that bluestones were dug by Bronze Age man from a west Wales quarry and carried 240 miles to build Stonehenge.
In a new twist, Open University geologists say the stones were in fact moved to Salisbury Plain by glaciers.
Last year archaeologists said the stones came from the Preseli Hills.
Recent research in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology suggests the stones were ripped from the ground and moved by glaciers during the Ice Age.
Geologists from the Open University first claimed in 1991 that the bluestones at one of Britain's best-known historic landmarks had not come from a quarry, but from different sources in the Preseli area.
The recent work was conducted by a team headed by Professor Olwen Williams-Thorpe, who said she and her colleagues had used geochemical analysis to trace the origins of axe heads found at Stonehenge and this backed up the original work.
There has been a great reluctance to allow facts to interfere with a good story
Dr Brian John
"We concluded that the small number of axes that are actually bluestone derive from several different outcrops within Preseli," she said.
"Axes found at or near Stonehenge are very likely to be from the same outcrops as the monoliths, and could even be made of left-over bits of the monoliths."
Archaeologists claimed the stones came from a quarry at Carn Menyn
Dr Brian John, a geomorphologist living in Pembrokeshire, said he always thought the idea that Bronze Age man had quarried the stones and then taken them so far "stretched credibility".
But he said the debate would go on until someone was able to prove beyond doubt what happened one way or the other.
"This is very exciting, and it moves the bluestone debate on from the fanciful and unscientific assertions of the past," he said.
"Much of the archaeology in recent years has been based upon the assumption that Bronze Age man had a reason for transporting bluestones all the way from west Wales to Stonehenge and the technical capacity to do it.
"That has been the ruling hypothesis, and there has been a great reluctance to allow facts to interfere with a good story.
"Glaciers may move very slowly, but they have an excellent record when it comes to the transport of large stones from one part of the country to another."
Archaeologists uncover ‘remarkable’ building
ARCHAEOLOGISTS working in a Perthshire forest have made some “remarkable” prehistoric discoveries.
Excavations began at the site of an ancient fortified house at Black Spout Wood near Pitlochry as part of Perthshire Archaeology Month and the findings have caused quite a stir.
Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust archaeologist Sarah Winlow is excited by what has been uncovered.
“The remains of this prehistoric homestead are truly remarkable,” she said.
“The sheer size of the walls and their sturdy construction mean the house must have been a high status, imposing residence.”
The homestead survives as a large circular stone enclosure nearly 20 metres in diameter. It is defined by a stone wall 1.5 metres thick that has survived to a height of up to a metre.
The homestead’s interior is now to be excavated to reveal occupation deposits and answer the question of how such a large space was roofed.
“The homestead is thought to date from the late Iron Age to the early medieval period, over 1500 to 2000 years ago,” Sarah said.
“It is one of around 60 examples in Highland Perthshire, few of which have been excavated.”
An archaeological team will soon go to work on the site in a dig open to the public between 11am and 4pm each day.
Oldest Example of Mesoamerican Dentistry Found in Ancient Grave
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
June 17, 2006
A 4,500-year-old grave in the Mexican state of Michoacan has revealed a macabre example of ancient dentistry — the skull of a young man whose upper teeth had been modified to accept a denture made from the palate and teeth of a wolf or panther.
Although cavities were drilled out of teeth as long as 9,000 years ago, this unexpected modification is the oldest known dentistry discovered in the Americas, predating previously discovered filed teeth and jeweled inlays by at least 1,000 years.
The dentures themselves were not found, but the alterations to the teeth were typical of those associated with such dentures found in later periods, according to archaeologist Tricia Gabany-Guerrero of the University of Connecticut, who announced the find Wednesday.
The 30-year-old man, nicknamed "Huitsiniki," or the "Bald Man" by the Purépecha community in the area, may have suffered severely from the dentures. The filing exposed the pulp of his teeth, and two of them were badly infected. Although the cause of his death is unknown, the team speculates that he died of blood poisoning from the infections.
The body was found beneath a massive panel of rock art, suggesting the man was a prince or religious leader. That speculation is supported by bone evidence indicating that the young man did not work strenuously, according to Gabany-Guerrero, who led the team that made the discovery.
The burial also contained obsidian flakes from a place called Cerro Varal in eastern Michoacan, "very far from where he is buried," Gabany-Guerrero said in a statement. "This means people were mining and trading, and moving it very early" in the history of this region.
The rock art panel, which contains stick figures apparently posed in dance positions, also contains calendar and other symbols that tie this region to the rest of Mesoamerica, she said.
Early dental work found on skeleton from 2,500 B.C.
By Reuters and The Associated Press
Researchers say teeth found at a 4,500-year-old burial site in a remote mountain region in western Mexico's Michoacán state are the oldest known example of dental work in the Americas.
MEXICO CITY — A man whose 4,500-year-old skeleton was found in Mexico may have worn ceremonial dentures made from wolf or jaguar fangs, in one of the earliest examples of dentistry in the Americas, scientists said Wednesday.
The skeleton, found buried in volcanic ash beneath a cliff painted with ancient rock art in a remote mountain region of western Mexico, dates from around 2,500 B.C. The man was between 28 and 32 years old and stood about 5 feet 1 inch tall, said University of Connecticut researchers.
The man's upper and front teeth had been cut off, possibly to insert a ceremonial denture made from the palate of a wolf or a jaguar, said James Chatters, an archaeologist and paleontologist with AMEC Earth and Environmental in Seattle, and a member of the research team.
"Such a denture might be something like the mouthparts of a predatory animal or some fierce animal of some sort," he said in a telephone interview.
It was also possible the man's teeth had been cut off for cosmetic reasons, or to indicate special status, perhaps as a priest or shaman, Chatters said.
Many pre-Hispanic Mexican cultures revered wild animals like jaguars. The Maya, for example, believed the big cat ruled the underworld; they used jaguar pelts in religious ceremonies.
The man may have died from an infection related to his dental work, Chatters said.
"They cut his teeth off right down to gum and exposed the pulp cavity, and he had two abscesses in his mouth at the time he died. Blood poisoning is a possibility there," he said.
"During the Late Post Classic period, shortly before the Spanish came, we have seen evidence of insertion of turquoise and filed teeth in different forms, but this is the earliest evidence of a dental modification by about one thousand years," said Tricia Gabany Guerrero, who heads the team working at the burial site.
She said the team only found the remote spot after being led there by elders from the Purepecha Indian group that now lives in the area in Michoacán state. Locals call the skeleton "The Bald Man."
The cliff walls at the site are painted with designs that include calendar symbols, linking the little-studied area to Mexico's more famous cultures, including the Aztecs and Maya.
"It is astounding that we have calendar symbols on the rock art wall that tie this region to the rest of Mesoamerica," she said.
Archaeologists believe that some groups were starting to cultivate corn and squash in this period elsewhere in Mexico.
Primary funding for the research came from the National Geographic Society with added support from other organizations in Mexico and the United States.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company
Search for India's ancient city
Archaeologists working on India's south-west coast believe they may have solved the mystery of the location of a major port which was key to trade between India and the Roman Empire - Muziris, in the modern-day state of Kerala.
For many years, people have been in search of the almost mythical port, known as Vanchi to locals.
Much-recorded in Roman times, Muziris was a major centre for trade between Rome and southern India - but appeared to have simply disappeared.
Now, however, an investigation by two archaeologists - KP Shajan and V Selvakumar - has placed the ancient port as having existed where the small town of Pattanam now stands, on India's south-west Malabar coast.
"It is the first time these remains have been found on this coast," Dr Sharjan told BBC World Service's Discovery programme.
"We believe it could be Muziris."
Pattanam is the only site in the region to produce architectural features and material contemporary to the period.
"No other site in India has yielded this much archaeological evidence," said Dr Roberta Tomber, of the British Museum.
"We knew it was very important, and we knew if we could find it, there should be Roman and other Western artefacts there - but we hadn't been able to locate it on the ground."
Muziris is located on a river, distant from Tindis - by river and sea, 500 stadia; and by river from the shore, 20 stadia
Roman description of the location of Muziris
Until recently, the best guesses for the location of Muziris centred on the mouth of the Periyar river, at a place called Kodungallor - but now the evidence suggests a smaller town nearby, Pattanam, is the real location.
Drs Shajan and Selvakumar now meet locals on a regular basis as they continue their work, with some older people in particular remembering picking up glass beads and pottery after heavy rains.
Undoubtedly, they told Discovery, the many pieces of amphora are from the Mediterranean - a key to establishing Pattanam as the place where Muziris once stood.
"These amphora are so common," Dr Shajan said.
"We have hundreds of shards of Mediterranean pottery."
Muziris became important because of the Romans' interest in trading, and their desire to have contact with regions beyond the reach of conquest and set up trading routes with these places.
"India had a long fascination for the Romans, going back to Alexander the Great," Dr Tomber said.
"Alexander was a huge model for succeeding Roman emperors, and the fact that he had been in India and brought back tales of the fantastic things, the people and products there, heightened the Roman desire to continue that association."
What is known, from a 1st Century document, is that the harbour was "exceptionally important for trade."
Clues to its location are provided in ancient Indian texts. Professor Rajan Gerta, from Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala, said that there are many references to "ships coming with gold, and going back with 'black gold'" - pepper.
"These ships went back with a whole lot of pepper and various aromatic spices, collected from the forests," he added.
Merchants from a number of different cultures are believed to have operated in the port, and there are numerous Indian finds from the time as well as Roman ones.
In 1983, a large hoard of Roman coins was found at a site around six miles from Pattanam.
However, even if Muziris has been found, one mystery remains - how it disappeared so completely in the first place.
Dr Tomber said that it has always been presumed that the flow of the trade between Rome and India lasted between the 1st Century BC through to the end of the 1st Century AD, but that there is growing evidence that this trade continued much longer, into the 6th and early 7th Century - although not necessarily continually.
"We're not quite clear how long it went on in Muziris, and the more evidence we can gather from the artefacts, the clearer the picture that will build up," she added.
"What is interesting is that in the 6th Century, a Greek writer, writing about the Indian Ocean, wrote that the Malabar coast was still a thriving centre for the export of pepper - but he doesn't mention Muziris."
June 17, 2006, 1:58AM
Oldest known frescoed tomb is found
Authorities in Italy unveil a royal burial chamber showing origin of Western painting
By ARIEL DAVID
VEIO, ITALY - A suspected tomb raider has led archaeologists to what experts described Friday as the oldest known frescoed burial chamber in Europe.
The tomb, located on a wheat field north of Rome, belonged to a warrior prince from the nearby Etruscan town of Veio, said archaeologists who took journalists on a tour of the site.
Dating from around 690 B.C., the underground burial chamber is decorated with roaring lions and migratory birds. Experts are hailing it as the earliest example of the funerary decorations that would become common in Greece and Rome.
"This princely tomb is unique and it marks the origin of Western painting," said Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli.
Authorities were led to the site in May by an Italian man on trial for trafficking in illegally excavated artifacts. He revealed the location of the tomb in hopes of gaining leniency from the court, said Carabinieri Gen. Ugo Zottin, head of the paramilitary police squad assigned to art theft. He declined to reveal the man's identity.
Looters who plundered the tomb overlooked several funerary objects that were hidden by the partial collapse of the chamber's ceiling.
Besides the frescoes, archaeologists have uncovered decorated vases imported from Greece, a sword and metal spits used to roast meat for the prince's table. A bronze chariot was found in front of the archway that leads to the chamber.
The recovery of elegant broaches, a wool spindle and other objects usually used by females suggests that at least one woman, possibly the prince's wife, was buried in the tomb, said Francesca Boitani, the lead archaeologist on the dig. The urns containing the cremated remains of the tomb's owners are believed to have been taken by looters, Boitani said.
Although decorated prehistoric caves predate by millennia the Etruscan tomb, experts say it is the oldest example in the Western world of a specially built funerary chamber decorated with mural paintings.
"Prehistoric paintings are something else," Boitani said. "Here we see used for the first time the techniques described in ancient texts and used in Western civilization in the following centuries."
Man Leads Archaeologists to Frescoed Tomb
Suspected Tomb Raider Leads Archaeologists to Frescoed Tomb North of Rome; May Be Europe's Oldest
VEIO, Italy Jun 16, 2006 (AP)— A suspected tomb raider turned police informant has led archaeologists to what experts described Friday as the oldest known frescoed burial chamber in Europe.
The tomb, located on a hilly wheat field north of Rome, belonged to a warrior prince from the nearby Etruscan town of Veio, according to archaeologists who took journalists on a tour of the site.
Dating from around 690 B.C., the underground burial chamber is decorated with roaring lions and migratory birds.
"This princely tomb is unique and it marks the origin of Western painting," said Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli, referring to the ancient art of burial painting.
Authorities were led to the site in May by an Italian on trial for trafficking in illegally excavated artifacts. He revealed the location of the tomb in hopes of gaining leniency from the court, said Carabinieri Gen. Ugo Zottin.
The Times June 15, 2006
Swoop by Customs returns Brutus to scene of the crime
By Dalya Alberge
A rare coin marking the assassination of Julius Caesar will be sent back to its home in Greece
A RARE Roman coin celebrating the murder of Julius Caesar has been returned to Greece after an operation by British Customs.
The 1st century BC Brutus coin, with a double-dagger design representing the Roman politician’s role in the assassination of Julius Caesar, was excavated illegally and brought to London by two Greeks.
The daggers flank the cap of Liberty, the special head-dress of the twins Castor and Pollux given to freed slaves and used to charactise Caesar’s murder as a patriotic act.
The Greek Government used a Council of Europe directive to claim back what it described as a national treasure. It is the first time European law on stolen cultural items has been used in Britain.
A British dealer, who insisted that he bought the 18mm coin in good faith, has handed it over to the Greek Embassy in London. Eric McFadden, the senior director of the Classical Numismatic Group, confirmed that he had bought it from two Greeks — even though one of them had allegedly been linked with Nino Savoca, an Italian dealer in Munich, who died in 1998 after being found to have been dealing in smuggled antiquities.
Mr McFadden, whose company is regarded as one of the world’s leading specialists in Greek and Roman coins, told The Times: “He did some work for Nino in the 1980s ... One doesn’t refuse to deal with someone because he has a slightly shady background.
“One looks at the deal on the table. We’re business people. If there’s any indication something’s not legitimate, we don’t deal in it.”
The silver denarius coin came from a mobile military mint travelling with Brutus in exile in northern Greece in 42BC when he was the self-styled Emperor after taking part in the killing of Caesar in on the Ides of March in 44BC.
Barely 80 examples are thought to have survived worldwide and few are in public collections.This example came to Britain last summer. Two Greeks were stopped by Customs at Stansted airport. They claimed that they had arrived to spend the day in London, but they carried hardly any money.
When they returned to the airport in the evening they were stopped again by Customs, when they were found to be carrying a large sum of cash in euros.
An investigation by Customs determined that the cash was payment for a coin that they had sold that morning to Classical Numismatic Group, of London. The cash was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act, and Customs contacted the Greek Embassy.
After extensive research by its Culture Ministry’s unit against the illegal traffic of antiquities, the Greek Government exercised a European directive on the return of cultural objectsthat passed into British law in 1994. Alan Bercow, of Stephenson Harwood, British lawyers for the Greek Government, said: “These laws have been in force for over ten years but this is the first time they have been used in Britain.”
Victoria Solomonidis, the cultural counsellor at the Greek Embassy, said that the coin had been “safely delivered unconditionally” by Classical Numismatic Group.
Roman treasure discovered on farm
Coins of the 'late Roman' period feature the standard 'head' and 'tails'
Farm contractors have unearthed 2,000 Roman coins beneath a field at a farm near Carmarthen.
The coins, which date from late Roman times, have been categorised as "treasure".
They contain a small amount of silver, but experts have not yet put a value on the find.
The exact location of the discovery is being kept secret to protect the site from treasure hunters. The HM Coroner has been informed.
The coins are thought to have been lying just 12 inches beneath the surface of a field.
The Romans left Wales in 410AD, having first arrived in 47AD. Carmarthen was a Roman settlement from the first century AD.
Coins of the late Roman period feature the standard head and tails, with a Roman emperor on the head and a goddess - of fortune, hope or chastity - on the reverse.
The farmer, on whose land the find was made, said: "There are lots of wild rumours flying about but I don't really want to say anything.
"The coins are at the museum now, and we are waiting to hear what happens next," he added.
Edward Besley, of the National Museum of Wales, in Cardiff confirmed that the coins were at the museum and were being cleaned, examined and catalogued.
He said: "When our investigations are complete, I will submit a report to the coroner who will then decide when to hold an inquest."
Mosaic find halts work
WORK has stopped on a new Italian restaurant after builders uncovered a high-quality Roman mosaic floor.
The patterned floor was revealed as trenches were being dug for a new kitchen at the Trinity Street, Dorchester, premises.
Restaurant owner Luciano Tombolani said he was not surprised to find Roman remains at the site but he was astonished by the quality.
He said: "This looks to me like a very important person's house. It must have been done by craftsmen perhaps four or five of them from Rome maybe came here to work on it."
Mr Tombolani, who is from Venice, added: "They came over here and have stopped me from working on my restaurant now."
Archaeologists from Context One Archaeological Services, who were overseeing the work because Roman remains had been found in the area in recent developments, spotted the floor as a mini digger started to prepare the footings for a kitchen extension.
Archaeologist Peter Fairclough said: "At about 80 centimetres down we found some tesserae. It was very exciting we knew it was Roman straight away. We appear to have found the border pattern for a larger floor."
His colleague Joshua Slator added: "It's like getting a snapshot of what's there. We'll need to do a lot of research to find out more.
"It's a very good find a real highlight in an archaeologist's career to find something like this."
They also found Roman roof tiles, known as tegula, as well as animal bones, oyster shells and fine tableware that was probably imported from the continent.
Mr Fairclough said the main part of the floor appeared to run away from the restaurant and under concrete hard-standing. "We'll probably never know what the main central pattern is."
Mr Tombolani said he was pleased to find the floor and wants the people of Dorchester to be able to see it. He said: "This is the history of Dorchester. In Italy we find things like this all the time and know how to deal with it. I would like part of it to be exposed under glass so people can come and see it."
He said he was worried that work had to stop while archaeologists, his architect and council conservation officers were deciding how to proceed.
He added: "It is possible to put a foundation over it without damaging the floor but Dorchester people should be able to see it. I'm worried about the expense of all this it's already caused a delay. I don't want to have a bill for thousands of pounds for it. The council should do it."
Richard McConnell of Context One said: "The mosaic would have decorated the floor of a room in an opulent town house.
"A previous discovery of a mosaic further along Trinity Street suggests that both belong to the same property.
"The mosaic has survived remarkably well and shows an intricate border of swirling waves, chevrons and interwoven bands made from tiny red, white, grey and dark blue tesserae."
He added that detailed recording would be carried out and the mosaic would be protected before building work continues. Specialists would analyse the finds and they would go to Dorset County Museum in Dorchester.
West Dorset District Council's design and conservation officer Kim Winter said the council's planning consent was subject to a condition that archaeological finds must be observed and recorded.
She added: "We are working closely with the county archaeologist and the owner's architect."
Mr Tombolani had planned to open his La Gondola restaurant in July.
He opened his first restaurant in Hampton Court in the 1990s and has had others in Eastbourne and Brighton.
12:21pm Monday 12th June 2006
Cemetery gives up Saxon secrets
By Samantha Simpson
Archaeologists have struck gold to unearth buried treasure in Carterton.
Experts have been investigating part of a new cemetery in Black Bourton - and have discovered a Saxon gilded buckle.
Archaeologists from the John Moore Archaeological Service made the discovery during a dig on a 30m by 15m area of land at the site.
Pupils from Edith Moorhouse Primary School were among children invited to visit dig to find out about archaeology and the area's history.
Carterton Town Council bought the extra land three years ago and the extended cemetery opened last year. Several burials have since taken place.
Council clerk Tan Marchant said the excavation was being done in a way that would cause minimal disruption and relatives of the deceased had been informed of the work.
She said: "When the council purchased the land, it was required to carry out a trial dig which showed there to be Saxon remains in the area.
"As part of the planning approval the council is required to carry out a fuller dig before than land can be used for graves."
Work on the dig has now been completed.
The new cemetery is expected to provide enough space for burials for the next 20 years, but Carterton still needs extra burial ground.
The town council has been searching for additional land since 1990 and has funding set aside, but Mrs Marchant said it had not had any luck finding anywhere suitable.
In 2001, West Oxfordshire District Council turned down plans for two sites near Stonelands Quarry, off Kilkenny Lane and off School Land in Black Bourton.
Mrs Marchant said: "The problem is that a lot of people don't want a cemetery built on their land or close to it, and it's also difficult to find land that is suitable because of the strict conditions that have to be met."
Witney Town Council had similar problems a few years ago, but was able to purchase an area of farmland off Oxford Hill, Witney, to build a new cemetery the Windrush Cemetery which opened in May 2004."
8:55am Saturday 17th June 2006
Medieval homes under golf course
The remains of the medieval village
Archaeologists are now working on the Archerfield site
The remains of a medieval village have been discovered at the Archerfield estate in East Lothian under the site of a new golf course.
Archaeologists have uncovered several houses from the 12th to 15th centuries in the middle of the 17th fairway of the new course.
Every inch of the medieval homes will be recorded before the golf course is safely created on the top.
An open day to see the medieval village is being held on Sunday.
John Gooder, AOC Archaeology senior project officer, said: "We know quite a lot about castles, about medieval towns but we know very little about rural settlements and it is these sort of settlements that 90% of Scottish people actually lived in at the time.
"Historical text may talk about church affairs and great affairs of state but they don't actually talk about how the ordinary people lived and that's where excavations like this come in.
"They allow us to fill in the gaps in our knowledge about how the people in Scotland lived in the past."
Don Placek, senior design associate at Renaissance Golf Design which designed the new golf course, said: "What we are hoping to do is integrate the contours that were here with the archaeology in such a way that they are not unnatural.
"But at the same time trying to incorporate some of the archaeology into those contours so that whoever plays golf here will have some sense of history and the different things that happened here hundreds of years ago."
Biddy Simpson, East Lothian Council archaeologist, said: "The golf course is really keen to make sure that everyone knows about this site so there will be interpretation in the club house and on the site."
The Renaissance Club at Archerfield, which is due to open in 2008, will consist of an 18 hole championship golf course.
The medieval village open day on Sunday will run between 1000 BST and 1600 BST.
19 June 2006
WAS ROBIN HOOD'S HOUSE IN SHEFFIELD?
REMAINS COULD BE A BLOW TO NOTTS
By Stephen White
IT won't go down well in Nottingham, but a pile of stones near Sheffield could be Robin Hood's home.
For centuries it has been thought the legendary archer was based in Sherwood forest while he robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.
But now archaeologists claim they have found the remains of his house - 52 miles away in South Yorkshire.
And that could be a bit of a blow for Nottingham and Sherwood forest where visitor centres have been making a killing from Robin Hood merchandise. Experts from Sheffield University have started a preliminary dig at the site of an 11th century castle in the village of Bolsterstone.
Tourism chiefs and historians recently claimed that the green-clad outlaw lived in Yorkshire rather than Notts.
Hood's friend Little John was born and died in Hathersage, near Sheffield. And experts believe finding the castle remains backs up their story.
All right, we know Robin Hood was a mythical folk hero, but the scientists reckon the home found at the dig played a major part in creating the legend of the brave bowman - played by Errol Flynn in the 1938 movie The Adventures of Robin Hood.
They believe it is where Waltheof, the Earl of Huntingdon who fiercely opposed the Norman invasion, based his empire.
He started two revolts against the attackers and was executed at 30 for planning a third in 1076.
Waltheof was the father of Robert Fitzwalter, an archer who became known as Robin Hood.
One of the volunteers at the archaeological dig, Steve Moxon, said: "This site might have major historical significance.
"Robin Hood was mythical, however Waltheof inspired the key ballad about the death of Hood and the 15th century prose account of him."
The team will now seek further funding to carry out extensive exploration at the site in a bid to confirm the stone and wood building was the archer's home.
Nottingham folk won't agree, but Robin of Sheffield does have a certain ring to it.
Reports: Turkey orders 500-year-old inscription erased from castle
ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey's Islamic-rooted government has ordered a 500-year old Latin inscription believed to have been carved by the Knights of St. John erased from an old castle, newspaper reports said Tuesday.
In the written order, the Culture Minister told museum officials to scrape away the inscription "Inde deus abest," or "Where God does not exist," carved at the entrance to the dungeon of the Castle of St. Peter in the Aegean resort of Bodrum, Hurriyet, Sabah and Milliyet newspapers reported Tuesday.
The ministry claimed the inscription had no historical value, the papers said.
Culture Ministry officials would not immediately comment on the reports but said a statement would be released on the issue later.
The move comes at a time when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government is under criticism for alleged attempts to raise Islam's profile in predominantly Muslim but secular Turkey. The government denies it has an Islamic agenda.
The sign could be considered offensive to devout Muslims who believe in God's omnipresence.
"Baffling censorship on 500-year-old inscription," Sabah said in a banner headline.
"500-year-old inscription has no historic value!" read the headline in Milliyet.
The Castle of St. Peter is now a museum of underwater archaeology displaying ship wrecks. The castle's dungeon -- the Gatineau dungeon -- was used as a lockup and torture chamber from 1513 to 1523.
Milliyet said the ministry ordered the inscription erased two months ago. Museum officials had removed a tin plate sign with the English and Turkish translations of "Inde deus abest" and were pondering what to do with the inscription, it said.
"Either we will scrape it away or cover it somehow," the paper quoted museum director Yasar Yildiz as saying. (AP)
June 13, 2006
Downtown dig reveals Tucson of 1880-1915
Old privies yielding artifact treasure-troves
Tucson's past is being unearthed downtown as a prelude to the city's future.
Two archaeological digs offer slices of life in the Old Pueblo, circa 1880 to 1915, adding to the relatively skimpy knowledge available about commercial establishments from territorial days up to and through statehood in 1912.
While we can expect more digging as redevelopment progresses, archaeological work won't necessarily uncover everything downtown. That's because such work, required when federal dollars are involved, is not required when projects are done with purely private funds.
That makes the current digs more significant, archaeologists say.
"This was a block that had saloons and restaurants, an opera house and billiard halls," said Homer Thiel, dig project manager for Desert Archaeology, the private firm gathering data from the site, which is just north of the Martin Luther King Jr. apartments and just east of the Ronstadt Transit Center downtown.
"People would get off the train across the street and come here" for food, drink, entertainment and a place to sleep, he said.
The location is directly south of the Historic Train Depot on Toole Avenue, a site being prepped for a major new mixed-use development for Depot Plaza, which is to be a cornerstone of the city's ambitious Rio Nuevo downtown rejuvenation.
The new development will house residential, retail, restaurant and other commercial enterprises, an upscale version of the small commercial node that Thiel and his team of archaeologists have probed for the past three weeks and will continue to study for 2 1/2 weeks.
What they are finding offers insight into the daily lives of merchants and customers of the businesses at the dig site: bottles; pottery, both intact and in pieces; a corroded ax head - odd bits and pieces that were parts of people's lives.
Excavation pits dot the site, unearthing old foundations, even the remnants of an old orchard, that researchers believe will tell them about the nature of the buildings and architecture of that period.
"We're hoping to find samples of materials from the restaurants and saloons and other buildings that were here," Thiel said.
While the archaeological record of the area is relatively strong when it comes to human occupation and dwellings going back thousands of years, hard knowledge about commercial goings-on and the establishments in which business was conducted in Tucson is weaker.
The railroad had arrived when the structures being excavated were built.
Businesses also located near the depot near Sixth Street and Toole Avenue including warehouses, a bottling plant, ice house and iron works, an office for John Rockefeller's Standard Oil, and the San Xavier Hotel, which burned to the ground in 1903, said Jennifer Hushour, project historical researcher for Tierra Right of Way Services, the archaeological firm excavating at that location.
The hotel was just north of the Historic Depot on Toole.
"It was right by the depot," Hushour said. "It was where everyone stayed when they came to town."
The site is a city park and parking lot and will be part of the Rio Nuevo downtown rejuvenation.
Most think of early Tucson in terms of culture and colorful characters, but the Old Pueblo had a bustling commercial and industrial side as well.
"I think this is one of the first digs that is showing important commercial activity" of the territorial era, said Marty McCune of Tucson's Historic Preservation Office.
Almost all traces of those structures may have been buried, built on or paved over since they were closed, abandoned, burned or torn down. Fortunately, records remain of those businesses and their locations in the form of old fire insurance maps that reveal to archaeologists what the ground now covers.
It is a slow process. Areas to be excavated have to be marked. Then the soil is removed and screened down to the smallest human-made relics. Artifacts are painstakingly recorded and carefully packaged for study.
Many of the artifacts and materials are being recovered from a singularly unlikely place - the deep, hand-dug holes that served as outhouses. The holes also served as convenient disposal chutes for trash - the very same artifacts being unearthed about a century later.
"People dumped just about everything down the privy," Hushour said.
Sometimes, a piece of recognizable Americana is unearthed.
"We actually found a piece of an Anheuser-Busch window or platter" that would likely have been an advertisement at a saloon, Thiel said.