www.archaeology.ws/archive

http://www.eurekalert.org/bysubject/archaeology.php

Public release date: 7-Sep-2006

Contact: Neil Schoenherr

nschoenherr@wustl.edu

314-935-5235

Washington University in St. Louis

Modern humans, not Neandertals, may be evolution's 'odd man out'

 

Could it be that in the great evolutionary "family tree," it is we Modern Humans, not the brow-ridged, large-nosed Neandertals, who are the odd uncle out?

 

New research published in the August, 2006 journal Current Anthropology by Neandertal and early modern human expert, Erik Trinkaus, professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, suggests that rather than the standard straight line from chimps to early humans to us with Neandertals off on a side graph, it's equally valid, perhaps more valid based on what the fossils tell us, that the straight line should be from the common ancestor to the Neandertals, and the Modern Humans should be the branch off that.

 

Trinkaus has spent years examining the fossil record and began to realize that maybe researchers have been looking at our ancient ancestors the wrong way.

 

Trinkaus combed through the fossil record, identifying traits which seemed to be genetic markers – those not greatly influenced by environment, life ways and wear and tear. He was careful to examine traits that appear to be largely independent of each other to avoid redundancy.

 

"I wanted to see to what extent Neandertals are derived, that is distinct, from the ancestral form. I also wanted to see the extent to which modern humans are derived relative to the ancestral form," Trinkaus says. "What I came up with is that modern humans have about twice as many uniquely derived traits than do the Neandertals."

 

"In the broader sweep of human evolution," says Trinkaus, "the more unusual group is not Neandertals, whom we tend to look at as strange, weird and unusual, but it's us - Modern Humans. The more academic implication of this research is that we should not be trying to explain the Neandertals, which is what most people have tried to do, including myself, in the past. We wonder why Neandertals look unusual and we want to explain that. What I'm saying is that we've been asking the wrong questions."

 

The most unusual characteristics throughout human anatomy occur in Modern Humans, argues Trinkaus. "If we want to better understand human evolution, we should be asking why Modern Humans are so unusual, not why the Neandertals are divergent. Modern Humans, for example, are the only people who lack brow ridges. We are the only ones who have seriously shortened faces. We are the only ones with very reduced internal nasal cavities. We also have a number of detailed features of the limb skeleton that are unique.

 

"Every paleontologist will define the traits a little differently," Trinkaus admits. "If you really wanted to, you could make the case that Neandertals look stranger than we do. But if you are reasonably honest about it, I think it would be extraordinarily difficult to make Neandertals more derived than Modern Humans."

###

 

Full text of the article is located online at, http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/CA/journal/issues/v47n4/120413/120413.web.pdf

 

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-09/uoea-ccr090406.php

Public release date: 7-Sep-2006

Contact: Simon Dunford

s.dunford@uea.ac.uk

44-016-035-92203

University of East Anglia

Climate change rocked cradles of civilization

 

Severe climate change was the primary driver in the development of civilisation, according to new research by the University of East Anglia.

 

The early civilisations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, South Asia, China and northern South America were founded between 6000 and 4000 years ago when global climate changes, driven by natural fluctuations in the Earth's orbit, caused a weakening of monsoon systems resulting in increasingly arid conditions. These first large urban, state-level societies emerged because diminishing resources forced previously transient people into close proximity in areas where water, pasture and productive land was still available.

 

In a presentation to the BA Festival of Science on September 7, Dr. Nick Brooks will challenge existing views of how and why civilisation arose. He will argue that the earliest civilisations developed largely as a by-product of adaptation to climate change and were the products of hostile environments.

 

"Civilisation did not arise as the result of a benign environment which allowed humanity to indulge a preference for living in complex, urban, 'civilized' societies," said Dr. Brooks.

 

"On the contrary, what we tend to think of today as 'civilisation' was in large part an accidental by-product of unplanned adaptation to catastrophic climate change. Civilisation was a last resort - a means of organising society and food production and distribution, in the face of deteriorating environmental conditions."

 

He added that for many, if not most people, the development of civilisation meant a harder life, less freedom, and more inequality. The transition to urban living meant that most people had to work harder in order to survive, and suffered increased exposure to communicable diseases. Health and nutrition are likely to have deteriorated rather than improved for many.

 

The new research challenges the widely held belief that the development of civilization was simply the result of a transition from harsh, unpredictable climatic conditions during the last ice age, to more benign and stable conditions at the beginning of the Holocene period some 10,000 years ago.

 

The research also has profound philosophical implications because it challenges deeply held beliefs about human progress, the nature of civilisation and the origins of political and religious systems that have persisted to this day. It suggests that civilisation is not our natural state, but the unintended consequence of adaptation to climatic deterioration - a condition of humanity "in extremis".

 

Dr. Brooks said: "Having been forced into civilized communities as a last resort, people found themselves faced with increased social inequality, greater violence in the form of organised conflict, and at the mercy of self-appointed elites who used religious authority and political ideology to bolster their position. These models of government are still with us today, and we may understand them better by understanding how civilisation arose by accident as a result of the last great global climatic upheaval."

 

The day after tomorrow: a Hollywood fantasy or wake up call? will be held in the ZICER seminar room at UEA on Thursday September 7 from 9am-1pm.

 

The BA Festival of Science is hosted by the University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park and Norwich City Council and will take place from September 2-9 in venues across UEA, NRP and the city of Norwich. For further information about the hundreds of events taking place during the Festival visit www.the-ba.net/festivalofscience. Tickets can be booked online, by calling 020 7019 4963, or in person at the Tourist Information Centre based in the Forum, Norwich. The BA Festival of Science is supported by the East of England Development Agency.

 

Notes to Editors:

For further information or to arrange pictures or interviews, please contact Simon Dunford at the UEA press Office on 01603 592203/s.dunford@uea.ac.uk.

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5317762.stm

Britain's human history revealed

By Jonathan Amos

Science reporter, BBC News, Norwich

 

The story has been filled out but human remains are scarce

Eight times humans came to try to live in Britain and on at least seven occasions they failed - beaten back by freezing conditions.

 

Scientists think they can now write a reasonably comprehensive history of the occupation of these isles.

 

It stretches from 700,000 years ago and the first known settlers at Pakefield in Suffolk, through to the most recent incomers just 12,000 years or so ago.

 

The evidence comes from the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project.

 

This five-year undertaking by some of the UK's leading palaeo-experts has reassessed a mass of scientific data and filled in big knowledge gaps with new discoveries.

 

The project's director, Professor Chris Stringer from London's Natural History Museum, came to the British Association Science Festival to outline some of the key findings.

 

What has been uncovered has been a tale of struggle: "In human terms, Britain was the edge of the Universe," he said.

 

           

Australian aboriginals have been in Australia longer, continuously than the British people have been in Britain

Prof Chris Stringer, Natural History Museum

 

The project has established that a see-sawing climate and the presence of intermittent land access between Britain and what is now continental Europe allowed only stuttering waves of immigration.

 

And it has extended the timing of what was regarded to be the earliest influx by 200,000 years.

 

More than 30 flint tools unearthed in a fossil-rich seam at Pakefield, Lowestoft, on the east coast, represent the oldest, unequivocal evidence of humans in northern Europe.

 

But the story from then on is largely one of failed colonisation, as retreating and advancing ice sheets at first exposed the land and then covered it up.

 

"Britain has suffered some of the most extreme climate changes of any area in the world during the Pleistocene," said Professor Stringer.

 

"So places in say South Wales would have gone from something that looked like North Africa with hippos, elephants, rhinos and hyenas, to the other extreme: to an extraordinary cold environment like northern Scandinavia."

 

THE HISTORY OF HUMANS IN BRITAIN

 

 

Scientists now think there were seven gaps in the occupation story - times when there was probably no human settlement of any kind on these shores. Britain and the British people of today are essentially new arrivals - products only of the last influx 12,000 years.

 

"Australian aboriginals have been in Australia longer, continuously than the British people have been in Britain. There were probably people in the Americas before 12,000 years ago," Professor Stringer explained.

 

Dr Danielle Schreve from Royal Holloway, University of London, has been filling out part of the story at a quarry at Lynford, near Norwich.

 

She and colleagues have found thousands of items that betray a site occupied some 60,000 years ago by Neanderthals.

 

The discoveries include the remains of mammoths, rhino and other large animals; and they hint at the sophistication these people would have had to employ to bring down such prey.

 

The oldest evidence of occupation comes from Pakefield, Suffolk

 

It seemed likely, she said, that the Neanderthals were picking off the weakest of the beasts and herding them into a swampy area to kill them.

 

"In the past, Neanderthals have been described as the most marginal of scavengers, and yet we have increasing evidence that they were supreme hunters and top carnivores," Dr Schreve told the festival.

 

One major piece of this great scientific jigsaw remains outstanding: extensive remains of the ancient people themselves.

 

What we know about the early occupations comes mostly from the stone tools and other artefacts these Britons left behind; their bones have been elusive.

 

Professor Stringer is confident, though, that major discoveries are still ahead.

 

Some of the earliest human settlements would have been in what is now the North Sea. Indeed, trawlermen regularly pull up mammoth fossils from the seabed, for example.

 

"There are very many promising sites in East Anglia where there is tremendous coastal erosion going on. That's bad news for the people who live there now; and we don't want it too happen to quickly either because we need time to get to grips with what's coming out of the cliffs."

 

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/article1431124.ece

Body art made its mark 300,000 years ago, scientists claim

By Steve Connor, Science Correspondent

Published: 09 September 2006

 

The use of coloured pigments in early forms of body art may have begun many tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought, according to a study of artefacts found at an ancient archaeological site in Africa.

 

Scientists working at the Twin Rivers hilltop cave near Lusaka in Zambia have found evidence for the use of colours - possibly for body painting - as early as 300,000 years ago.

 

This would predate the known use of coloured pigments in cave art by more than 200,000 years and, if confirmed, mark the point when humans began to experiment with paint.

 

Lawrence Barham, an archaeologist at the University of Liverpool, said an analysis of coloured stains on rock tools found at the site indicated that early humans were grinding ochre pigments long before they were known to be used for cave paintings.

 

"My work in Zambia is beginning to show that, at least in this one small part of central Africa, the use of mineral pigments or ochres as colours goes back at least 300,000 years," Dr Lawrence said yesterday.

 

"There is a long period between the appearance of rock art about 32,000 years ago - which is strong evidence of colour symbolism - and this more indirect, ambiguous evidence in the archaeological record of Africa," Dr Barham told the British Association's annual meeting at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

 

Archaeologists digging at the Twin Rivers site found ochre pigments of various colours, including red, yellow, brown, black and "sparkling purple", at levels in the ground that correspond to 300,000 years ago - long before the rise of modern man, Homo sapiens.

 

Dr Barham said the evidence pointed to the use of coloured pigments as part of symbolic rituals by the primitive Stone Age people who lived there. They possibly belonged to Homo heidelbergensis, a species with a relatively large brain.

 

"If you were to argue that these iron oxides are purely functional, and are of no historic value, how do you explain away the range of colours that are being selected from different places in the landscape?" Dr Barham said.

 

"If it was just the iron element, any of them would do, whether it was the red or the yellow. Some colours are closer to the site than others so people are deliberately selecting the pigments for the colours, that's how I interpret this," he told the meeting.

 

Until now, the only unambiguous use of colour in symbolic art is found in our own species in the form of rock art, beads and pigments - such as the famous cave paintings of Lascaux in France.

 

In Europe the earliest cave art appears no earlier than 40,000 years ago, long after Homo sapiens originated in east Africa about 200,000 years ago, Dr Lawrence said.

 

"In South Africa, at Blombos Cave, shell beads - some ochre-stained - have been found with engraved blocks of red ochre that suggest colour symbolism existed 75,000 years ago. But that is still less than half the age of Homo sapiens," he said.

 

It is possible that an interest in the use of coloured pigments for symbolic purposes developed at the same time that early humans made the radical shift from hand-held stone axes to finer stone tools tied to wooden or bone handles. "It may seem a simple development but it is the foundation for all the technologies we use today. It's called composite technologies," Dr Lawrence said.

 

"I think by that time we have not just language, but the development of quite a complex language, which allows the planning that you see in the artefacts but also the planning to take something out of the environment and to change its meaning by putting it on your body."

 

It may, however, be difficult to prove unless the art itself was preserved. "We'd love to find a bog body of that age which is covered in tattoos, but that is not going to happen," Dr Lawrence said.

 

The use of coloured pigments in early forms of body art may have begun many tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought, according to a study of artefacts found at an ancient archaeological site in Africa.

 

Scientists working at the Twin Rivers hilltop cave near Lusaka in Zambia have found evidence for the use of colours - possibly for body painting - as early as 300,000 years ago.

 

This would predate the known use of coloured pigments in cave art by more than 200,000 years and, if confirmed, mark the point when humans began to experiment with paint.

 

Lawrence Barham, an archaeologist at the University of Liverpool, said an analysis of coloured stains on rock tools found at the site indicated that early humans were grinding ochre pigments long before they were known to be used for cave paintings.

 

"My work in Zambia is beginning to show that, at least in this one small part of central Africa, the use of mineral pigments or ochres as colours goes back at least 300,000 years," Dr Lawrence said yesterday.

 

"There is a long period between the appearance of rock art about 32,000 years ago - which is strong evidence of colour symbolism - and this more indirect, ambiguous evidence in the archaeological record of Africa," Dr Barham told the British Association's annual meeting at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

 

Archaeologists digging at the Twin Rivers site found ochre pigments of various colours, including red, yellow, brown, black and "sparkling purple", at levels in the ground that correspond to 300,000 years ago - long before the rise of modern man, Homo sapiens.

 

Dr Barham said the evidence pointed to the use of coloured pigments as part of symbolic rituals by the primitive Stone Age people who lived there. They possibly belonged to Homo heidelbergensis, a species with a relatively large brain.

 

"If you were to argue that these iron oxides are purely functional, and are of no historic value, how do you explain away the range of colours that are being selected from different places in the landscape?" Dr Barham said.

 

"If it was just the iron element, any of them would do, whether it was the red or the yellow. Some colours are closer to the site than others so people are deliberately selecting the pigments for the colours, that's how I interpret this," he told the meeting.

 

Until now, the only unambiguous use of colour in symbolic art is found in our own species in the form of rock art, beads and pigments - such as the famous cave paintings of Lascaux in France.

 

In Europe the earliest cave art appears no earlier than 40,000 years ago, long after Homo sapiens originated in east Africa about 200,000 years ago, Dr Lawrence said.

 

"In South Africa, at Blombos Cave, shell beads - some ochre-stained - have been found with engraved blocks of red ochre that suggest colour symbolism existed 75,000 years ago. But that is still less than half the age of Homo sapiens," he said.

 

It is possible that an interest in the use of coloured pigments for symbolic purposes developed at the same time that early humans made the radical shift from hand-held stone axes to finer stone tools tied to wooden or bone handles. "It may seem a simple development but it is the foundation for all the technologies we use today. It's called composite technologies," Dr Lawrence said.

 

"I think by that time we have not just language, but the development of quite a complex language, which allows the planning that you see in the artefacts but also the planning to take something out of the environment and to change its meaning by putting it on your body."

 

It may, however, be difficult to prove unless the art itself was preserved. "We'd love to find a bog body of that age which is covered in tattoos, but that is not going to happen," Dr Lawrence said.

           

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/09/07/nscience07.xml

Gristhorpe Man 'was Bronze Age warrior chieftain'

Reports by Roger Highfield and Nic Fleming

(Filed: 07/09/2006)

 

Gristhorpe Man, who was found buried in a tree trunk in the 19th century, has been identified as a Bronze Age warrior chieftain by archaeologists.

           

Although a few examples of burial in a scooped-out oak tree have been found in Scotland and East Anglia, it was an unusual method and the example found near Scarborough, North Yorks, was the best preserved.

 

The remains were discovered in 1834 by William Beswick, a local landowner, in an ancient burial mound near Gristhorpe and excavated under the gaze of members of the Scarborough Philosophical Society.

 

A "well argued" monograph suggesting that he had a high status was written at the time by William Crawford Williamson, who went on to become a professor of natural history at the age of 17, said Prof Carl Heron, of the University of Bradford.

 

The Bronze Age remains were originally donated to the Rotunda Museum in Scarborough and was taken to Bradford last year for a new evaluation while the museum was being refurbished, said Prof Heron, who discussed the work yesterday at the Festival of Science at the University of East Anglia.

 

The team deduced that the man was indeed a high status individual – "not unlike a tribal chieftain" – judging by his height of six feet.

 

Nigel Melton, who is leading the research project with Janet Montgomery and Andrew Wilson, said: "Growing to such a height may well have been because of a relatively good diet, an indication of social standing. He also boasts a full set of teeth in remarkable condition."

 

Other clues to his status come from the grave goods, said Prof Heron. "There are a lot of artefacts. The body was wrapped in a skin cloak, of which only fragments survive." There was a bronze dagger, a bark vessel that was sealed in some way, flint tools, hair from the hide and a wicker basket containing food residue.

 

The individual was in his forties, a reasonable age in those days, and seems to have died from natural causes. "There were no blunt force injuries related to his death," said Christopher Knusel, a team member.

 

However, there were many healed fractures, consistent with the life of a warrior. But much of what was dug up almost two centuries ago has not survived. There was a lot of fatty material, probably from degraded body tissues, in the watery coffin which had dried out.

 

The bones were blackened by a reaction of the iron in the water with the tannin in the bark of the coffin and the skeleton was preserved by boiling it in horse glue in a laundry copper, wrecking any chance by the latter day archaeologists to do a DNA study, or use collagen from the body for dating purposes.

 

But the composition of a ceremonial bronze dagger helped confirm the dating, in work by Peter Northover, of Oxford University, that sheds light on ancient trade routes.

 

"The bulk of the metal in it probably originated in south-west Ireland and the tin in south-west England. But by the time it was made into the dagger it had probably been recycled several times," he said.

 

The work will permit comparison with radiocarbon dates from other British examples, as well as with the series of dendrochronological (tree ring) dates obtained from Bronze Age tree-trunk coffin burials excavated in Denmark where such burials are much more common. The isotopic make-up of the bones should also reveal whether Gristhorpe Man was a Briton or from the Continent.

 

The Rotunda Museum in Scarborough plans to put him on display again next year, alongside details of the new insights and findings into his warrior life.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/ukraine/story/0,,1867219,00.html?gusrc=ticker-103704

Bronze Age pyramid found in Ukraine

Tom Parfitt in Moscow

Thursday September 7, 2006

The Guardian

 

Archaeologists in Ukraine have unearthed the remains of an ancient pyramidal structure that pre-dates those in Egypt by at least 300 years. The stone foundations of the structure, which probably resembled Aztec and Mayan ziggurats in South America, were discovered near the eastern city of Lugansk.

 

It is thought they were laid about five millennia ago during the early Bronze Age by animists who worshipped a sun god. The "pyramid" is in fact a complex of temples and sacrificial altars topping a sculpted hillside with steps on its sides.

 

Viktor Klochko, head of the excavation, said the discovery was of international significance. "This is the first monument of its age and kind found in eastern Europe," he told the Guardian. "It changes our whole conception of the social structure and the level of development of the cattle breeders and farmers who were the direct ancestors of most European peoples."

 

There are about 100 pyramids in Egypt, and the remains of Mesopotamian pyramids are preserved in Iraq and Iran. Ziggurats are also found in Mexico, and the Nubians built pyramids as burial sites for monarchs in the Nile valley. But pyramid structures are rare in Europe. One of the few is a Roman-era pyramid near Nice, France, that may have built by legionnaires involved in an Egyptian cult.

 

Although graves have been found at the Lugansk site, archaeologists think it was used for sacrifice by burning, rather than as a burial ground. "People lived in the surrounding valleys and climbed up it to carry out their ceremonies," said Mr Klochko. "They had a pagan cult that bowed down to the sun, as did the ancestors of the Slavs."

 

Remains of sacrifice victims, ashes and ceramics have been found at the site, but no jewellery or treasure. The three-quarters of a square mile complex, which was an estimated 60 metres (192ft) high, was probably used for about 2,000 years.

 

"What surprised me most is the scale of this enormous complex," Stanislav Mogilny, a student working on the excavation, told Russian television. It's just incredible - a titanic feat."

 

http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=31&art_id=qw977145540408B214

Rare mural-covered Bronze Age tomb discovered

December 18 2000 at 03:19PM

 

Sofia, Bulgaria - Archaeologists in southern Bulgaria have located remains of a completely preserved Thracian domed tomb decorated with murals, the daily Trud reported on Monday.

 

The tomb, near the town of Haskovo, 234km southeast of Sofia, is made of big stone blocks and has two chambers forming a dome at the top. There are paintings of horses and Thracian armed warriors on the walls.

 

The Thracians were Bronze Age people, whose civilisation thrived in the Balkans from 2000 BC until the invasion of the Slavs in the sixth century AD.

 

This is only the second Thracian tomb with murals of humans discovered in Bulgaria and one of the most significant in Thracian archaeology in this century, experts say.

 

The first Thracian tomb of this kind was unearthed in 1944 in the town of Kazanlak, 200km east of Sofia.

 

Earlier this year, archeologists discovered a palace and tomb of Thracian rulers, which is next to the biggest Thracian remains found to date in Bulgaria, about 161km south of the newly discovered painted tomb. - Sapa-AP

 

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/09/04/europe/EU_GEN_Bulgaria_Gold_Treasure.php

Ancient gold treasures unearthed in Thracian tomb near Black Sea

The Associated Press

Published: September 4, 2006

 

SOFIA, Bulgaria A 2,200-year-old set of gold jewelry was unearthed from a Thracian burial mound on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast, the archaeologist who led the excavations said Monday.

 

Daniela Agre said her team in late August found dozens of tiny jewelry pieces in the tomb of a woman, most likely a Thracian priestess, near the resort of Sinemorets, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) southeast of the capital, Sofia.

 

The discovery included two earrings, crafted like miniature chariots, as well as parts of gold necklaces, one decorated with a sculpture of a bull's head.

 

A tiny plaque that appears to be the necklace's fastener bears a Greek inscription, saying "made by Demetrius," Agre said, suggesting this could have been the name the nobleman who ordered the jewelry.

 

The artifacts were unearthed Aug. 25-27 during urgent recovery works at the Sinemorets mound, which was half destroyed, allegedly by a local hotel owner who thought the pile of earth was an ugly sight for tourists.

 

Most of the more than 160 finds, including gold and silver accessories and pottery, were badly damaged because the woman's body had been cremated, an unusual practice for this region, Agre said.

 

The Thracians were an ancient people that inhabited the lands of present day Bulgaria and parts of modern Greece, Turkey, Macedonia and Romania between 4,000 B.C. and the 6th century A.D., when they were assimilated by the invading Slavs.

 

About 10,000 Thracian mounds — some of them covering monumental stone tombs — are scattered across Bulgaria.

 

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3299730,00.html

2,100 year old cave found under high school

Students at Rogozin High School in Tel Aviv don’t need to go far to get an archeology lesson: Just a few feet under their classrooms, municipal workers discovered ancient burial cave

Roee Mendel

Published:      09.04.06, 22:08

 

History lesson at Rogozin High: While carrying out ordinary infrastructure work on Mesilat Haolim Street in Tel Aviv, unsuspecting public works authority employees stumbled onto a surprising archeological find. While digging in front of the city’s Rogozin High School, a massive underground cavern opened up beneath them, that was apparently used as a burial space during the first century BCE.

 

Yossi Cohen, chief archeologist of the central district, described the subterranean space as 20 meters long by 4 meters wide and subdivided into a central vestibule flanked by three smaller rooms, all carved into the sandstone. According to Cohen, archeologists in the 1950s – before Rogozin High was built – were already aware that a burial cave may be located in the area. In 1964 the whole area was declared an official antiquities site.

 

Now, however, the public works authority and the Tel Aviv municipality are hastening to seal the cave, as the infrastructure work damaged

it and the stone it was carved into has cracked. Tel Aviv district safety staff declared that the street is in severe danger of collapse if immediate emergency work isn’t carried out to stabilize the foundations.

 

Laborers were working to remove the cave’s ceiling and the thick layer of dust inside, and to excavate it completely and fill it in anew. Only then can the new road be constructed above it. “If we only fill in the exposed part without digging the cave out in its entirety, the street will collapse from the weight of cars and trucks,” Cohen said.

 

According to Peter Gendelman, the senior archeologist at the site, it appears the area of the cave extends underneath the high school.

 

The principal of the school, Karen Tal, said: “I very much hope they find something interesting here and the school area becomes an attraction. But if it is a space underneath the school which has to be filled in, I believe the authorized officials will tell us what to do. This school has been around for nearly 50 years, and I trust those responsible that it will continue operating without interruption.”

 

The Tel Aviv-Yaffo municipality stated that “the site is being examined by the city’s department for hazardous buildings, and they took out a special warrant to fill in the cave according to the advice and directions of land consultants and the antiquities authority. Likewise, the state fenced in the northeastern part of the school.”

 

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2143358,00.html

Germany | 04.09.2006

Construction Workers Uncover Roman Village in Bonn

Archeologists are bringing Bonn's ancient history to light

 

A UN construction site in Bonn was converted to an archeological dig when a 2,000-year-old Roman village was discovered. Jugs, plates, remnants of a public bath and a paved street reveal a surprisingly modern people.

 

The mass of dirt directly across from the plenary hall in Bonn's former government quarter looks like the surface of the moon. Deep pockets have been dug out in several spots and three excavators are boring their way deeper into the ground.

 

Nora Andrikopoulou-Strack is standing on one of the other-worldly dirt mounds, with clay-smeared boots on her feet and a broad smile on her face. She is responsible for turning this construction site into an archeological dig.

 

"This dig site is, technically speaking, the greatest coherent window into the history of a Roman vicus that we've ever had in Germany," she said.

 

When it came to floor heating systems, the Romans were well ahead of their timeBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  When it came to floor heating systems, the Romans were well ahead of their time

 

Construction workers were in the middle of building a new UN convention center when they quite literally ran into the vicus, that is, a Roman village. The building project has now been put on hold while archeologists uncover the plates, pots, bones and other historical treasures that lie three meters (10 feet) underground.

 

Excavators and shovels are used for the rough work before rakes are brought in for the parts of the process that require a finer, more detailed touch.

 

"Actually it's a garden tool," said an assistant in the dirt-coated overalls, referring to the rake. "We can use it to clean off parallel surfaces."

 

Everything that the 50-person team has uncovered in the past several weeks -- cups, jugs, pottery shards, hair pins and bones -- has been cleaned up, numbered and carefully stored. Some 300 boxes have already been filled with artifacts discovered in the ancient apartments, hidden for so many years underground.

 

Some 2,000 people probably lived in the Roman villageBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Some 2,000 people probably lived in the Roman village

 

"This plate is a particular highlight. It really looks as if it just came from the potter's workshop. After more than 2,000 years the quality is still excellent," said head archeologist Peter Hendrick, holding up a piece of porcelain.

 

In addition to Claudius Secundus, whose name is on one of the plates, around 2,000 people must have lived in the village. They made their homes in stable houses with shops at the front and gardens out back.

 

The village boasted a paved street, a temple and a brick oven, and apparently also had a public bath with floor heating.

 

The artifacts Hendrick and his team have found are not limited to Roman times, however. More recent items, from the 19th and 20th centuries, have also been discovered.

 

The numerous bottles and caps that have surfaced offer insight into the history of Bonn's breweries, for example. A rusted American helmet from World War II -- with a bullet hole -- was also among the finds.

 

Marcus Boesch (kjb)

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/columnist/vergano/2006-09-04-apollo-secrets_x.htm

Fiery furnace? Temple of Apollo had secret death chamber

Posted 9/4/2006 11:18 AM ET

           

As the devout among the ancients knew well, nothing spices up a boring sermon like having your own sacrifice pit parked in front of your church. Throw in a secret tunnel to the death chamber, and you've got a churchgoing experience that no suburban mega-church, no matter how many good parking spots it offers, could ever match.

 

An ancient Temple of Apollo located amid the ruins of Hierapolis, the "sacred city," in Western Turkey suggests such attractions may have been something of a franchise among temples during the Roman era. Hierapolis was a Greek city famed for its hot springs that the Romans took over in 133 B.C. Apollo, the Sun god, was the chief deity of the city, and Italian researchers from the University of Lecce reveal some of the inner workings of the temple there in the current Journal of Archaeological Science.

 

The temple's ruins rest on a plateau running along the eastern side of the Menderes River, which itself runs along a geological fault. The fault produced Hierapolis' hot springs, popular with the bath-loving Romans, and also poisonous gases. Those poisonous gases, in this case it seems suffocating quantities of carbon dioxide, appear to be one of the secrets of the Temple of Apollo.

 

The temple, dating to the 3rd Century A.D, sat atop a monumental staircase and "near it there is an underground cavity called the Plutonion," says the study. A hole nearly 30 feet wide, surrounded by a fence, the Plutonion was "covered by a thick mist, making it impossible to see inside," study co-author Giovanni Leucci said by email. "The air outside the fence is quite clear, and when no wind is blowing there is no danger in approaching it, but any living creature that enters the hole dies instantly."

 

A tough place to do research, in other words. But starting in 2001, a team led by Leucci and his colleague Sergio Negri, along with the late Ivo Richetti, undertook a series of ground-penetrating radar and electrical resistance studies of the Plutonion and the temple. "The Plutonion was used in the past to perform animal sacrifices and only the eunuchs of the Temple of Cybele were able to spend time within the cavern without being affected," Leucci says. (Cybele was an Earth Mother-type goddess associated with caverns whose most devoted followers castrated themselves and were regarded as belonging to a third gender by the ancients. Cybele's cult also revolved around a theme of death and rebirth, which may explain the attraction of going spelunking in a poisonous death trap.) The eunuchs likely covered their heads with four sacks of cloth, Leucci says, which held a pocket of air that allowed them to survive for few minutes inside the Plutonion.

 

The Plutonion, named after Pluto, the god of the underworld, was known to widen as it descended. The researchers hoped to learn whether it was connected to the temple itself.

 

It does. "The survey carried out of the Temple of Apollo clearly suggests the presence of a man-made structure," Leucci says, namely a tunnel about 8 to 14 feet under the temple. And a room about 13 feet across seems to lie at a similar depth beneath the temple. The find suggests that priests likely retrieved sacrifices from the pit, prepared them in an underground room, and displayed them in the temple above as part of a religious ritual that may have resembled an elaborate stage magician's trick.

 

The search also turned up that an unsuspected geologic fault runs under the temple grounds. Such faults may be a hallmark of Apollo's temples, as well as the famed Oracle of Delphi, whose visions some suspect came from underground fumes. Other temples of Apollo in Turkey were home to oracles and they were built over active springs, such as those at Didyma and Claros.

 

So the key to temple success way back when may have rested on a rather earthly concern, access to a geologic fault, something even harder to find than a good parking spot is today.

 

http://www.con-telegraph.ie/article-detail.asp?article_id=3530

Remains of ‘Viking’ boat discovered by archaeologists at Castlebar lake

Source: John Melvin

Issue No: 200636

 

ARCHAEOLOGISTS working on the Castlebar sewage scheme stumbled upon what has been described by the National Museum of Ireland as a ‘significant and exciting archaeological find’.

While trench testing close to Lough Lannagh they uncovered a wooden boat, believed to be medieval with a strong possibility that it could even be from the Viking period of around 1,100 years ago.

Measuring 10 feet long and some six-foot wide, the boat is in reasonable condition having been preserved in a blanket of peat which covered it from once the Castlebar lake receded.

It may have been used as a cargo or fishing vessel. Its discovery was made possible due to a drop in the water levels of the lake which have dropped significantly since the 1800s when water was diverted for a mill race. The Moy Drainage Scheme in the 1960s also led to a lowering of the lake levels by as much as 12 feet.

The discovery was made by Olga Sheehy, who is one of a team of six archaeologists headed by licensed archaeologist, Joanna Nolan, currently working at the site.

The team is working on the preservation and recording of the various parts of the boat which has already been visited by conservators from the National Museum of Ireland who have taken samples of the vessel for carbon 14 dating and a sample of the keel also taken for a dendrochronology test which will give it an even more accurate date than the carbon 14 result.

At first it was thought the boat was the remnants of a trackway which were quite common on boggy areas but closer examination revealed quite a significant hull, floor and a vessel that was clinker built and very definitely based on Viking technology.

Joanna Nolan explained that the iron nails were a particular diagnostic feature which gives the boat a very definite medieval date and possibly of the Viking period.

“We are hoping it is but it is certainly unique and very definitely medieval,” said Joanne.

“It is a unique boat and the lightness of planking would suggest it was a cargo boat of light construction. It was found near the old lakeshore, which we believe receded twice in the 1800s when a mill race was being constructed.

“A further drop in water level was caused in the 1960s when the Moy Drainage Scheme was in operation and the lake has dropped by some 12 feet over a period.

“After we did some cleaning, remnants of a larger boat with a keel plank and bilge area with flattened out timber crossing, became visible.

“There is a base of a keel and at least one rib fragment which gave the planking stability. It was clinker built, that means a series of planks were used and they were fastened by iron nails hammered through the plank and held by a clench plate on the end, the clench plate acting like a washer.

“We are naturally hoping that it is early rather than late medieval,” she said.

The fact that the National Museum of Ireland has expressed an interest in the find would certainly indicate that it is significant and experts from the museum have already been to Castlebar to examine the boat.

Describing the find as ‘significant’, Mr. Eamon Kelly, Head of Antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland, said the technology used to design the boat was undoubtedly Viking but whether the boat itself is from the Viking period is still not certain.

That will be established when a carbon date is returned in the next week or two.

“What we can say is that this was a boat based on the Viking style of building, which was used up to the 17th century.

“In fact, the legendary pirate queen, Grainne Uaille O’Malley, used these style of boats for her famous galleys which were copies of the Vikings so it could fit into a number of periods but it is undoubtedly medieval.

“There was a strong Scandinavian presence around the Clew Bay region and there are several references in the annals concerning the Vikings taking over fishing in the region.

“Such Vikings ships became common around the 9th century when the Vikings first invaded Ireland and were not uncommon in the west of Ireland where fishing was a major occupation of the Viking settlers.

“Mayo would have been a popular area for fishing by Vikings and it was certainly an area where Viking boat building was quite common.”

This latest archaeological find is one of a number of significant discoveries on a number of Mayo County Council projects in a county that has a rich archaeological heritage.

The same team that is working on the Castlebar boat also uncovered what was thought to be a boat in Ballina but subsequent tests have now established that it was a wooden trough, possibly used for washing or cooking.

The Castlebar team would like to thank a number of people who have made their work at the site easier, particularly the owners of the land where the find was made, Carmel and Trevor McDonald.

“Roadbridge Ltd., who are constructing the Castlebar Sewage Scheme along with Mayo County Council have been very supportive of our work as indeed are Tobin Constructing Engineers who are administering the project.”

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/5326042.stm

Peru bans flights over Inca ruins

By Dan Collyns

BBC News, Lima

 

Machu Picchu was rediscovered in 1911

The Peruvian government has reversed a decision to allow flights over the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu after an outcry from environmental groups.

 

Peru's Transport and Communications ministry has declared the area around the site a no-fly zone.

 

Environmentalists said a number of rare animals and plants would have been severely affected by the low-flying helicopter tours.

 

Machu Picchu, a world heritage site, is Peru's biggest tourist attraction.

 

Little more than a week after a licence was granted for helicopter tours over South America's most famous ruin, it was taken away again.

 

The Transport and Communications Ministry was forced to reverse its decision after complaints from environmentalists and archaeologists.

 

After a short meeting with Peru's departments of Culture and Natural Resources, the ministry declared a flight restriction in the whole area surrounding Machu Picchu.

 

Several leading environmentalists said the flights would have caused irreparable damage to the ruins and rare wildlife, such as spectacled bears and vicunas, would have been scared away.

 

Such flights had been allowed during the 1990s but were banned shortly afterwards.

 

Peru's Institute of Natural Resources said those flights led to the disappearance of a rare species of orchid and the Andean Condor from the area.

 

Machu Picchu is one of the best-preserved pre-Columbian ruins on the continent.

 

But experts say the Unesco World Heritage Site is being slowly damaged by the hordes of tourists which visit it every year.

 

Meanwhile, the Peruvian government says its investing in a campaign to make Machu Picchu one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

 

http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/nation/200609/kt2006090819195311990.htm

Parties to Tackle China’s Distortion of History

By Lee Jin-woo

Staff Reporter

 

Floor leaders of the governing and opposition parties yesterday agreed to cooperate to address China's distortion of history.

 

The five parties also decided to fully support a resolution unanimously proposed by a National Assembly panel on Thursday.

 

In the resolution, members of the Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee denounced China for intentionally distorting ancient Korean history.

 

They said the controversial research results of the state-funded Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) are not purely a scholastic product, but the Chinese government's intention to claim ancient Korean kingdoms originated in mainland China.

 

The parties that struck the agreement are the governing Uri Party, the largest opposition Grand National Party (GNP), the Democratic Party (DP), the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) and the People First Party (PFP).

 

The floor leaders called on the government to take tougher measures to counter China's claims instead of being lukewarm in its response.

 

During a meeting of an ad hoc Assembly panel, which was first set up to counter historical and territorial disputes last June, lawmakers questioned ranking government officials including Vice Foreign Minister Lee Kyu-hyung over the government's low-key approach to the issue.

 

``China is believed to have carried out its `Northeastern Project' to help maintain and consolidate ethnic groups in its territory,'' Lee said. ``The South Korean government will consider this aspect and take systematic measures to cope with China's attempt to distort Korea's history.''

 

China has recently published four books and several articles, claiming that the Koguryo (37 B.C.-668 A.D.) and Palhae (698-926) kingdoms, which occupied today's northern part of the Korean Peninsula and the northeastern region of China, were part of ancient China.

 

things@koreatimes.co.kr

09-08-2006 19:20