www.archaeology.ws/archive

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5363328.stm

'Lucy's baby' found in Ethiopia

 

The 3.3-million-year-old fossilised remains of a human-like child have been unearthed in Ethiopia's Dikika region.

 

The female Australopithecus afarensis bones are from the same species as an adult skeleton found in 1974 which was nicknamed "Lucy".

 

Scientists are thrilled with the find, reported in the journal Nature.

 

They believe the near-complete remains offer a remarkable opportunity to study growth and development in an important extinct human ancestor.

 

Juvenile Australopithecus afarensis remains are vanishingly rare.

 

The skeleton was first identified in 2000, locked inside a block of sandstone. It has taken five years of painstaking work to free the bones.

 

"The Dikika fossil is now revealing many secrets about Australopithecus afarensis and other early hominins, because the fossil evidence was not there," said dig leader Zeresenay Alemseged, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

 

Delicate bones

 

The find consists of the whole skull, the entire torso and important parts of the upper and lower limbs. CT scans reveal unerupted teeth still in the jaw, a detail that makes scientists think the individual may have been about three years old when she died.

 

This puts afarensis in a special position to play a pivotal role in the story of what we are and where we come from Zeresenay Alemseged, Max Planck Institute

 

Remarkably, some quite delicate bones not normally preserved in the fossilisation process are also present, such as the hyoid, or tongue, bone. The hyoid bone reflects how the voice box is built and perhaps what sounds a species can produce.

 

Judging by how well it was preserved, the skeleton may have come from a body that was quickly buried by sediment in a flood, the researchers said.

 

"In my opinion, afarensis is a very good transitional species for what was before four million years ago and what came after three million years," Dr Alemseged told BBC science correspondent Pallab Ghosh.

 

"[The species had] a mixture of ape-like and human-like features. This puts afarensis in a special position to play a pivotal role in the story of what we are and where we come from."

 

This early ancestor possessed primitive teeth and a small brain but it stood upright and walked on two feet.

 

There is considerable argument about whether the Dikika girl could also climb trees like an ape.

 

This climbing ability would require anatomical equipment like long arms, and the "Lucy" species had arms that dangled down to just above the knees. It also had gorilla-like shoulder blades which suggest it could have been skilled at swinging through trees.

 

But the question is whether such features indicate climbing ability or are just "evolutionary baggage".

 

The Dikika girl had an estimated brain size of 330 cubic centimetres when she died, which is not very different from that of a similarly aged chimpanzee. However, when compared to the adult afarensis values, it forms 63 - 88% of the adult brain size.

 

This is lower than that of an adult chimp, where by the age of three, over 90% of the brain is formed. This relatively slow brain growth in the Dikika girl appears to be slightly closer to that of humans.

 

Slow, gradual development in an extended childhood is regarded as a very human trait - probably to enable our higher functions to develop.

 

Professor Fred Spoor of University College London said the find would give scientists a "detailed insight into how our distant relatives grew up and behaved... at a time of human evolution when they looked a good deal more like bipedal chimpanzees than like us."

 

Dr Jonathan Wynn of the University of St Andrews, UK, and colleagues at the University of South Florida dated the sediments surrounding the remains and came up with an age of 3.3 million years.

 

The "Lucy" skeleton, discovered in Hadar, Ethiopia, in 1974 belongs to the same species as the Dikika girl. For more than 20 years it was the oldest human ancestor known to science.

 

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/sci/tech/5363328.stm

 

Published: 2006/09/20 17:05:09 GMT

 

BBC MMVI

 

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/article1726096.ece

Human Evolution: An exclusive interview with the man who discovered the oldest child in the world

Dr Zeresenay named her Selam and calls her his daughter. But she was born 3.3 million years ago

Published: 24 September 2006

 

She was three years old when she died. Flood waters tore through the forest, separating mother from child. Guttural cries of alarm echoed in the lush canopy. Possibly. There was nobody there to record her death. The body sank to the bottom of the water, out of sight of predators, and was covered over by stones and sand. The riverbed turned to rock eventually, and so did her bones.

 

The child lay buried for a very long time. More than three million years, until a Sunday afternoon in December six years ago when strangers came looking for bodies. By then the forest had long disappeared. The hillside was a dry, rocky, hostile place. The heat was ferocious. A boot stirred the dust. Its owner looked down and saw a portion of bone, half-buried.

 

"A cheekbone was sticking out of the sand," says the young Ethiopian who found her, Dr Zeresenay Alemseged (Zeray, as his friends call him). He was looking because that has been his life's work, driven by an obsession with finding the remains of all our ancient ancestors in the country of his birth. On that day, after several years of trying, he did it. The find was stunning. Details of it, emerging only now, challenge long-held beliefs about the way human beings evolved.

 

For the first time, the scientist holding up an extraordinary find from Africa is an African. But whatever the impact he has made across the world, for the 37-year-old this is still deeply personal. "I have a son who is nine months old," he told me, speaking in Addis Ababa. "I also have a daughter who is 3.3 million years old. I am living in both epochs."

 

Except she is not his daughter, and could never have been. That is the point. This child is a hominin, an ape closely related to humans. Hers is the oldest and most complete infant skeleton ever found, a refugee from the time when our ancestors had just begun to stand on their two hind limbs.

 

Zeray has spent more than five years separating her bones from the cement-like sandstone "grain by grain". He named her Selam, which means "peace" in several Ethiopian languages. She is in pieces now, in a laboratory at the National Museum in Addis, close to the bungalow in which his real family lives.

 

Selam is also on the cover of National Geographic magazine, as a computer reconstruction that gives her a friendly expression and a relatively hairless face. It is guesswork, but the image is one reason why this tiny ape-child from prehistory has struck a chord in cynical modern human hearts. The other is the unearthing of her hyoid, the delicate bone that holds open the throat and which suggests the noises that Selam made as she was held in her mother's arms (or was parted from them by surging waters) were more human than ape.

 

"This has been my life," said Dr Zeresenay, who trained in Paris but returned to search the Afar badlands as soon as he could. "All my efforts, energies and time have been devoted towards finding, analysing and describing this specimen and what it represents." So what does Selam represent? "She has many significances. The completeness of this find means it contains many new and previously unknown elements, and they raise many questions."

 

For scientists like Bernard Wood, a paleoanthropologist at George Washington University in the US, Selam is "a veritable mine of information about a crucial stage in human evolutionary history". The chief surprise is that her shoulder blades and arms still look like those of a gorilla. There is now hot debate over whether they are just useless evolutionary baggage or a sign that 3.3 million years ago Selam and her family were still swinging.

 

If they were, then the most popular theory of why humans stood up is challenged, says Desmond Morris, the zoologist who studies human behaviour. This theory says they did it because they had learned to use their hands for making tools and weapons but still needed to get around. "If Selam is significant and not an oddity, that means bipedalism came first. So there must have been a different reason for it."

 

But he warns against drawing too many conclusions. "People end up basing their idea of an entire species on a little girl's skeleton. There's a man in the Guinness World Records who is eight feet tall. If you found him, and only him, in three million years' time what would you think we had been?"

 

The question of who we once were has led many people to Axum, the town where Zeray was born in 1969. It was once the seat of the Axumite Kingdom, a power listed by one contemporary as ranking alongside those of Rome, Persia and China. So the young boy grew up watching Western archaeologists, fortune hunters and tourists rifling through his town. "The Axumite ruins were just like a kitchen in disorder on an ordinary day," he once said. History and the present lay side by side in the dust.

 

Zeray was five years old when the ageing Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed by Marxist members of the military in 1974. That was also the year a paleoanthropologist called Donald Johanson saw a bony elbow sticking out of the gravel in the Afar region. He had found the partial skeleton of an adult female from 3.2m years earlier. Nicknamed Lucy after a Beatles song, she was the oldest hominin ever found at the time. Lucy was the first to be identified as Australopithecus afarensis, a missing link between apes and humans.

 

Zeray was 15 and at high school in Addis when Western eyes turned to Ethiopia again in 1984, during the famine. He graduated in geology there and was sent to France on a scholarship. But he came back at the age of 30, badgering the ministry for a permit to start searching his own parcel of land. The chosen spot was the inhospitable Dikika, two hours' drive from the nearest village. The name means nipple in the local language, and comes from the hill being shaped like a breast.

 

The landscape has a wild beauty, but it can be deadly. The heat can kill, but there are also lions and snakes, and mosquitoes that carry malaria. Flash floods still sweep people away. The bandits have a reputation for scuttling out of the heat haze like scorpions.

 

For a long time the team found nothing of great significance. They were close to giving up on the afternoon of 10 December 2000 but kept going, moving slowly, their heads bowed to scan the sand and rocks. A shout was stifled by the dead air. Someone had seen a flash of bone. Zeray got down on his knees and breathlessly but carefully removed all he could of the debris and dry grass. The cheek was attached to a skull. He recognised the smooth brow as that of a hominin, but had to do many more tests before he could be sure it was A. afarensis, the same species as Lucy: his dream find.

 

There were many other bones too, invisible in a hard ball of sandstone. "We brought the initial block here to the museum because there is no laboratory on the hillside," said Zeray with huge understatement. "It is a place with many challenges."

 

The bones were extricated using dental drills that direct precise blasts of compressed air into the rock. "This causes vibrations in the sand and cleans it from the fossil without you having to touch the bone at all," he said. Cleaning the tiny ribs and vertebrae with meticulous care took thousands of hours. The true scale of the find was not revealed until a paper was published in the journal Nature last Thursday.

 

"This is a stunning discovery," said Martin Meredith, author of The State of Africa, "but it does not change the picture of human evolution. What we're doing now is filling in the pieces." For him and many other observers, one of the most significant things about Selam is the identity of the man who discovered her. Desmond Morris agrees. "It is wonderful news," he said. "There is still a colonial and imperial flavour to anthropology - virtually all the discoveries are made by Europeans and Americans who go out to these remote places with the help of the locals, who also do the digging. So the fact that Selam was discovered by an African leading a team in his own backyard is brilliant."

 

Dr Zeresenay is now attached to the Max Planck Institute of Leipzig in Germany. He will have to get used to acclaim. But it will not keep him from his "daughter", who is still partly encased in sand in the laboratory in Addis. And soon he will be out in the crippling heat again, on the hillside. The bones of her long-lost relatives are calling.

 

She was three years old when she died. Flood waters tore through the forest, separating mother from child. Guttural cries of alarm echoed in the lush canopy. Possibly. There was nobody there to record her death. The body sank to the bottom of the water, out of sight of predators, and was covered over by stones and sand. The riverbed turned to rock eventually, and so did her bones.

 

The child lay buried for a very long time. More than three million years, until a Sunday afternoon in December six years ago when strangers came looking for bodies. By then the forest had long disappeared. The hillside was a dry, rocky, hostile place. The heat was ferocious. A boot stirred the dust. Its owner looked down and saw a portion of bone, half-buried.

 

"A cheekbone was sticking out of the sand," says the young Ethiopian who found her, Dr Zeresenay Alemseged (Zeray, as his friends call him). He was looking because that has been his life's work, driven by an obsession with finding the remains of all our ancient ancestors in the country of his birth. On that day, after several years of trying, he did it. The find was stunning. Details of it, emerging only now, challenge long-held beliefs about the way human beings evolved.

 

For the first time, the scientist holding up an extraordinary find from Africa is an African. But whatever the impact he has made across the world, for the 37-year-old this is still deeply personal. "I have a son who is nine months old," he told me, speaking in Addis Ababa. "I also have a daughter who is 3.3 million years old. I am living in both epochs."

 

Except she is not his daughter, and could never have been. That is the point. This child is a hominin, an ape closely related to humans. Hers is the oldest and most complete infant skeleton ever found, a refugee from the time when our ancestors had just begun to stand on their two hind limbs.

 

Zeray has spent more than five years separating her bones from the cement-like sandstone "grain by grain". He named her Selam, which means "peace" in several Ethiopian languages. She is in pieces now, in a laboratory at the National Museum in Addis, close to the bungalow in which his real family lives.

 

Selam is also on the cover of National Geographic magazine, as a computer reconstruction that gives her a friendly expression and a relatively hairless face. It is guesswork, but the image is one reason why this tiny ape-child from prehistory has struck a chord in cynical modern human hearts. The other is the unearthing of her hyoid, the delicate bone that holds open the throat and which suggests the noises that Selam made as she was held in her mother's arms (or was parted from them by surging waters) were more human than ape.

 

"This has been my life," said Dr Zeresenay, who trained in Paris but returned to search the Afar badlands as soon as he could. "All my efforts, energies and time have been devoted towards finding, analysing and describing this specimen and what it represents." So what does Selam represent? "She has many significances. The completeness of this find means it contains many new and previously unknown elements, and they raise many questions."

 

For scientists like Bernard Wood, a paleoanthropologist at George Washington University in the US, Selam is "a veritable mine of information about a crucial stage in human evolutionary history". The chief surprise is that her shoulder blades and arms still look like those of a gorilla. There is now hot debate over whether they are just useless evolutionary baggage or a sign that 3.3 million years ago Selam and her family were still swinging.

 

If they were, then the most popular theory of why humans stood up is challenged, says Desmond Morris, the zoologist who studies human behaviour. This theory says they did it because they had learned to use their hands for making tools and weapons but still needed to get around. "If Selam is significant and not an oddity, that means bipedalism came first. So there must have been a different reason for it."

 

But he warns against drawing too many conclusions. "People end up basing their idea of an entire species on a little girl's skeleton. There's a man in the Guinness World Records who is eight feet tall. If you found him, and only him, in three million years' time what would you think we had been?"

 

The question of who we once were has led many people to Axum, the town where Zeray was born in 1969. It was once the seat of the Axumite Kingdom, a power listed by one contemporary as ranking alongside those of Rome, Persia and China. So the young boy grew up watching Western archaeologists, fortune hunters and tourists rifling through his town. "The Axumite ruins were just like a kitchen in disorder on an ordinary day," he once said. History and the present lay side by side in the dust.

 

Zeray was five years old when the ageing Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed by Marxist members of the military in 1974. That was also the year a paleoanthropologist called Donald Johanson saw a bony elbow sticking out of the gravel in the Afar region. He had found the partial skeleton of an adult female from 3.2m years earlier. Nicknamed Lucy after a Beatles song, she was the oldest hominin ever found at the time. Lucy was the first to be identified as Australopithecus afarensis, a missing link between apes and humans.

 

Zeray was 15 and at high school in Addis when Western eyes turned to Ethiopia again in 1984, during the famine. He graduated in geology there and was sent to France on a scholarship. But he came back at the age of 30, badgering the ministry for a permit to start searching his own parcel of land. The chosen spot was the inhospitable Dikika, two hours' drive from the nearest village. The name means nipple in the local language, and comes from the hill being shaped like a breast.

 

The landscape has a wild beauty, but it can be deadly. The heat can kill, but there are also lions and snakes, and mosquitoes that carry malaria. Flash floods still sweep people away. The bandits have a reputation for scuttling out of the heat haze like scorpions.

 

For a long time the team found nothing of great significance. They were close to giving up on the afternoon of 10 December 2000 but kept going, moving slowly, their heads bowed to scan the sand and rocks. A shout was stifled by the dead air. Someone had seen a flash of bone. Zeray got down on his knees and breathlessly but carefully removed all he could of the debris and dry grass. The cheek was attached to a skull. He recognised the smooth brow as that of a hominin, but had to do many more tests before he could be sure it was A. afarensis, the same species as Lucy: his dream find.

 

There were many other bones too, invisible in a hard ball of sandstone. "We brought the initial block here to the museum because there is no laboratory on the hillside," said Zeray with huge understatement. "It is a place with many challenges."

 

The bones were extricated using dental drills that direct precise blasts of compressed air into the rock. "This causes vibrations in the sand and cleans it from the fossil without you having to touch the bone at all," he said. Cleaning the tiny ribs and vertebrae with meticulous care took thousands of hours. The true scale of the find was not revealed until a paper was published in the journal Nature last Thursday.

 

"This is a stunning discovery," said Martin Meredith, author of The State of Africa, "but it does not change the picture of human evolution. What we're doing now is filling in the pieces." For him and many other observers, one of the most significant things about Selam is the identity of the man who discovered her. Desmond Morris agrees. "It is wonderful news," he said. "There is still a colonial and imperial flavour to anthropology - virtually all the discoveries are made by Europeans and Americans who go out to these remote places with the help of the locals, who also do the digging. So the fact that Selam was discovered by an African leading a team in his own backyard is brilliant."

 

Dr Zeresenay is now attached to the Max Planck Institute of Leipzig in Germany. He will have to get used to acclaim. But it will not keep him from his "daughter", who is still partly encased in sand in the laboratory in Addis. And soon he will be out in the crippling heat again, on the hillside. The bones of her long-lost relatives are calling.

 

http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200wales/tm_objectid=17810563%26method=full%26siteid=50082%26headline=boffin%2dlooks%2dto%2dwales%2dfor%2dneanderthal%2dblood-name_page.html

Boffin looks to Wales for neanderthal blood

Sep 24 2006

James McCarthy, Wales on Sunday

 

IF YOU think your man is a neanderthal, research by a leading DNA expert may mean you're closer to the truth than you ever realised.

 

But Bryan Sykes, a professor of human genetics at Oxford University, says the last of the real neanderthal bloodline could have been carried by a pair of Mid Wales twins who died in the 1980s.

 

It could make the brothers the missing link between ancient and modern man.

 

In his new book Blood of the Isles, which traces the ancestry of the British, Prof Sykes says he first heard of the Tregaron Neanderthals while visiting the 13th Century Talbot Hotel in Mid Wales during a research trip.

 

The twin bachelors lived behind the ruins of a Cistercian monastery at nearby Strata Florida, where they were apparently visited every year by school pupils eager to learn about human evolution.

 

Prof Sykes told WoS: "By the time I heard the story, they were dead, but it was always said that these bachelors were neanderthals. It is just possible. Children would be taken to see them in geography or history lessons.

 

"I have looked at 10,000 people in the UK and I have never seen a piece of neanderthal DNA, but I have not given up hope.

 

"There are negative connotations of being a neanderthal, which are totally unfair, because they had larger brains than we do. If someone remembers meeting them or has photos then that would be great. Then I could get to work."

 

While some may accuse his claims as crackpot, Prof Sykes is a respected academic, whose book also reveals the Welsh have the oldest DNA in Britain and Ireland.

 

The boffin spent 10 years taking samples from 10,000 people around Britain and Ireland and he found people in parts of Mid Wales whose bloodlines stretch back 10,000 or even 12,000 years, to when man first began repopulating Britain after the last Ice Age.

 

He said: "In Mid Wales, around Tregaron, I found the oldest ancestry. We were looking at modern descendants of the oldest ancestors in Britain.

 

"There are pockets of people in Mid Wales whose ancestors go right back 10,000 years. They would have been hunter-gatherers. The fact that Wales and Mid Wales is hilly and mountainous is one of the reasons it has been undisturbed and we can see some of the oldest DNA here."

 

What is more, he says the Welsh are more Celtic than the Irish and Scots.

 

"Wales has a much higher proportion of Celtic DNA than anywhere but England, which people think is populated by Saxons, but in reality is predominantly Celtic too," he said.

 

http://www.ttc.org

9,500-YEAR-OLD DECORATED SKULLS FOUND IN SYRIA

Received Sunday, 24 September 2006 13:43:00 GMT

 

DAMASCUS, Sept 24, 2006 (AFP) - Archaeologists said Sunday they had uncovered decorated human skulls dating back as long as 9,500 years ago from a burial site near the Syrian capital Damascus.

    "The human skulls date back between 9,500 and 9,000 years ago, (on which) lifelike faces were modelled with clay earth ... then coloured to accentuate the features," said Danielle Stordeur, head of the joint French-Syrian archaeological mission behind the discovery.

    Located at a burial site near a prehistoric village, the five skulls were found earlier this month in a pit resting against one another, underneath the remains of an infant, said Stordeur.

    The French archaeologist described as "extraordinary" the find at the Neolithic site of Tell Aswad, at Jaidet al-Khass village, 35 kilometres (22 miles) from Damascus.

    The discovery was not the first of its kind in the Middle East, but "the realism of two of these skulls is striking," stressed Stordeur, in charge of the excavation along with Bassam Jamous, the chief of antiquities of Syria's National Museum.

    "They surprise by the regularity and the smoothness of their features," Stordeur said of the skulls.

    "The eyes are shown as closed, underlined by black bitumen. The nose is straight and fine, with a pinched base to portray the nostrils.

    "The mouth is reduced to a slit," said Stordeur, of the Asian research house of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), France's largest scientific establishment.

    The decorated skulls were devoted "only to important individuals, chosen according to social or religious criteria," she added.

 

http://fullcoverage.yahoo.com

Lebanon's ancient ruins suffer from Israeli bombing

by Albion Land and Pierre Sawaya Tue Sep 19, 2:53 PM ET

 

BEIRUT (AFP) - Archeologists excavating a necropolis uncovered by construction workers in Beirut only two weeks before war broke out between Hezbollah and

Israel had to stop work this summer when Israeli bombs started falling on the country.

Click to learn more...

 

But Fadi Beayno and his team were lucky. The 300 square meter (3,200 square foot) dig on a quiet street in the Christian district of Ashrafiyeh was spared any bombing.

 

Ironically, however, the first bombs to strike the center of the capital during the 34-day war hit only about 100 meters away, destroying some water boring machinery.

 

Beayno said it belonged to the same man providing equipment for the building being erected on the site of the dig, and that he had suffered a heart attack on hearing the news and died.

 

The 37 graves so far discovered, dating from some time between the first and beginning of the third centuries, were undamaged.

 

Little is yet known about the site, except that some graves had masonry frames with either terra cotta or lead coffins. Other bodies were buried in wooden coffins.

 

Beayno said his 22-man team is removing the remains as quickly as possible, so that construction can continue, and that the findings would be analyzed afterwards.

 

But while the Ashrafiyeh site was spared the damage of war, the same cannot be said for some of the ancient ruins that dot the country, dating back beyond the Romans, to the Greeks and Phoeniceans.

 

A team from UNESCO has already begun assessing the damage from 34 days of bombing and shelling to often fragile structures, already ravaged by time, earthquake, looting and previous wars.

 

This tiny country, about the size of the state of Connecticut, has no less than five entries on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Perhaps the most famous is Baalbek, called Heliopolis by the Romans, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) east of Beirut.

 

It is perhaps most famous for the stunning remains of the Temple of Jupiter, but there are also temples to Bacchus and Venus.

 

UNESCO's deputy director general, Mounir Bouchnaki, told AFP that "the major sites registered on the World Heritage List suffered damages, but it was minimal."

 

He has visited not only Baalbek, but also sites in Tyre, on the southern Mediterranean coast and Byblos, north of the capital, and said more time will be needed to assess the true extent of damage.

 

Bouchnaki told a press conference in Paris Monday that the stones of the port would have to be cleaned by hand, one at a time, and that the cost could reach 100,000 dollars.

 

"If we do not deal with this before the winter, it will truly be a disaster," he said.

 

At Baalbek, the six columns of the Temple of Jupiter that have captivated visitors for centuries, are nearly 6.5 meters (21 feet) in diameter and more than 21 meters (70 feet) tall, rising from a base and an entablature that takes them to an awe-inspiring 38 meters (125 feet) in above the surrounding plain.

 

The temple is located only about 300 meters from the center of Baalbek, which was a stronghold of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah and repeatedly targeted by Israeli bombing.

 

It was spared any direct hits, but Professor Giorgio Croci, a specialist on the temple who was part of the UNESCO team, said "new cracks appeared during the Israeli offensive and a plan of action needs to be developed quickly.

 

Bouchnaki said a detailed evaluation needs to be carried out over the next six months to determine the true extent of damage.

 

Cracks in stone were not the only damage caused in Baalbek. For the past 50 years, the town has been host to an international festival of art, music and dance each summer, and rehearsal for opening night was taking place the day the war broke out on July 12.

 

Tourism revenues lost by the cancellation of this year's festival have been estimated at 900,000 dollars.

 

Meanwhile, at a Phoenician port in Byblos, damage was of a different sort.

 

Early in the war, Israeli warplanes knocked out a power plant south of Beirut, and 15,000 tonnes of fuel oil poured into the Mediterranean, severely polluting a large swathe of Lebanon's coastline and that of Syria to the north.

 

At the Byblos port, Bouchnaki said "we have begun an urgent plan to clean and reinforce the structures."

 

And in Tyre, a missile fired at a building near the Roman hippodrome missed its target and hit a mausoleum, destroying some frescoes. Fortunately, there was no other damage.

 

There are other important archaeological sites in the south of Lebanon where most of the heavy combat and bombing took place, such as at Shemaa and Bint Jbeil. But so far, no assessment has been made of damage there.

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/5374748.stm

Mummified dogs uncovered in Peru

By Dan Collyns

BBC News, Lima

 

Archaeologists in Peru have uncovered the mummified remains of more than 40 dogs buried with blankets and food alongside their human masters.

 

The discovery was made during the excavation of two of the ancient Chiribaya people who lived in southern Peru between 900 and 1350 AD.

 

Experts say the dogs' treatment in death indicated the belief that the animals had an afterlife.

 

Such a status for pets has only previously been seen in ancient Egypt.

 

Hundreds of years before the European conquest of South America, the Chiribaya civilisation valued its dogs so highly that when one died, it was buried alongside family members.

 

'Distinct breed'

 

The dogs, which have been called Chiribaya shepherds for their llama-herding abilities, were not sacrificed as in other ancient cultures, but buried with blankets and food in human cemeteries.

 

Biological archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 40 dogs which were naturally mummified in the desert sand of Peru's southern Ilo Valley.

 

Now they have teamed up with Peru's Kennel Club to try to establish if the dogs represent a new distinct breed indigenous to South America.

 

The country is full of breeds which arrived in the last few centuries, but they believe some dogs living today in southern Peru share the characteristics of their ancestors.

 

The Chiribaya dog looked rather like a small Golden Retriever with a medium-sized snout, beige colouring, and long hair.

 

The only other indigenous Peruvian canine is the hairless dog, which evolved over more than 2,000 years from Asian ancestors brought across the Bering Straits.

 

It was recognised as a distinct breed just 20 years ago.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/americas/5374748.stm

 

Published: 2006/09/23 19:25:16 GMT

 

BBC MMVI

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/tees/5355992.stm

600-year-old dog puzzles experts

Mystery bronze dog

 

The 600-year-old bronze silhouette of a snarling dog unearthed on Teesside is baffling archaeologists.

 

The 9in-long "Hound of Hartlepool" was found by Tees Archaeology before building work began on the new Headland Sports Hall.

 

The dog has now been cleaned up and conserved by Durham University experts who are trying to work out what it is.

 

They believe it was nailed to a house and may have been a weathervane or a "Beware of the Dog" sign.

 

Rachel Grahame, project officer for Tees Archaeology, said: "This is one of the most unusual archaeological objects to have come to light in the region.

 

"At some point in the past it must have fallen down a narrow gap between two buildings - perhaps during a storm and has been forgotten. Remarkably, it has survived the centuries."

 

Other experts believe the dog may have been a sign outside a public house.

 

Stephen Sherlock, the director of the excavation, said: "The teeth and eye are particularly crudely cut suggesting that this is home-made rather than made by a craftsman."

 

http://www.horncastletoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=825&ArticleID=1777121

ROMAN REMAINS FOUND IN GARDEN

 

THE DISCOVERY of human remains just half a metre below ground level brought digging work to an abrupt halt on Monday morning in Croft Street Horncastle.

A partial skeleton, a mixture of bones, sections of three human jaws and two intact glass bottles were unearthed in a garden at the home of Sarah Town.

A large well in immaculate condition was also found; the entrance of which is divided equally between Sarah's property and that of her neighbour Maria Benton.

Both women are having extensions to their respective adjoining properties.

 

On finding the remains, Sarah said: "I was a bit freaked out at first, but now it is exciting, especially for the children."

Her son, Alex, added: "It is unbelievable how much stuff you can find in a little part of the garden."

Muckton archaeologist, Marc Berger, was already on site when the remains were found as planning conditions stipulated an archaeological watching brief was required.

About the remains, Marc said: "It's not particularly new knowledge and a question mark remains over the date of the burials."

 

He believes they could be Roman, or from the plague which struck in the 13th and 14th centuries or possibly mediaeval times.

At the time of going to press, Marc was waiting for a license from the Department of Constitutional Affairs to continue the excavation.

This is required as a resting place has been disturbed and there is a need to respect the dignity of the humans buried on the site.

 

Croft Street, once known as Church Street is designated as a potential burial site.

The New Jerusalem Chapel on Croft Street is where three lead coffins were found in 1908 and later six burial sites were found in the grounds of Croft House.

 

The remains will be transported to the University of Cambridge for analysis and depending on their significance they could be housed in a Horncastle church or Lincoln museum.

20 September 2006

 

http://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/news/lakes/display.var.934660.0.coniston_museum_next_home_for_bluebird.php

Coniston museum next home for Bluebird

By The Westmorland Gazette

 

Donald Campbell's world famous Bluebird boat could be given to the museum where it is hoped she will one day be displayed in her record-breaking glory.

 

The speed ace's daughter, Gina Campbell, said this week that the family trust that owns the boat was considering making the donation if it would help along the process of rebuilding her and returning her to Coniston.

 

Miss Campbell was speaking after a second bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore Bluebird and house her at an extension at the village's Ruskin Museum was turned down.

continued...

 

Miss Campbell said this week that the decision was not down to her alone. She was in discussions with the other four members of the trust, as any decision would have to be a joint one.

 

"It's an option under discussion," she said. "I'm personally contemplating donating the boat to the museum if it would expedite the restoration process and the extension at the museum."

 

If the donation was made, it would also have to be subject to conditions that would include the boat being restored, and her future being secured, she added.

 

The curator of the Ruskin Museum, Vicky Slowe, said: "Certainly that would be an extremely generous gesture and endorses their commitment to having Bluebird in Coniston."

 

She said the team behind the rebuild, which includes Bill Smith, the diver who recovered the boat from Coniston Water in 2001 and who has looked after her since that time, was still determined to bring Bluebird "home", and display her in her prime.

 

She also appealed to anyone interested in making a donation to contact the museum.

 

This week also marks the 50th anniversary of Campbell's first water speed record on Coniston Water. On September 19, 1956, he achieved a speed of 225.63mph in Bluebird.

 

11:08am Friday 22nd September 2006