Lost city found at Stonehenge
By Chris Hooper
A RENOWNED archaeologist, who shot to national prominence last year with his amazing discovery of Stonehenge's lost alter stone by a roadside in Berwick St James, now claims to have found the famed lost city of Apollo in the land around Stonehenge.
Dennis Price, who is an expert on the history of Stonehenge and who used to work with Wessex Archaeology, believes the lost city of Apollo is located at King's Barrow Ridge, overlooking Stonehenge.
The lost city is believed by many to be mythical but, after working with language experts at Exeter University, Mr Price is convinced the city exists and that it is right here on the outskirts of Salisbury.
The team painstakingly deciphered the works of an ancient Greek mariner named Pytheas of Massilia.
Mr Price explained that Pytheas was known to have visited Britain in around 325 BC and in his chronicles he wrote of the lost city of Apollo and a site similar to Stonehenge.
He said: "There is a passage that apparently refers to Stonehenge which has long fascinated people, but there is also a repeated reference made to a city sacred to Apollo which has gone completely unremarked upon."
It was this which first intrigued Mr Price and led him to look a little harder at Pytheas' text. And this deeper investigation allowed him to find the exact location of the city.
He said: "Just a mile or so to the east of Stonehenge is a gigantic prehistoric earthwork called Vespasian's Camp, named in later years by William Camden, after the same Vespasian who subjugated the south west of England during the Roman invasion of Britain in 43AD.
"It is invariably described as an Iron Age hill fort, yet excavations there have shown the existence of far earlier Neolithic pits, while there still exist the remains of early Bronze Age funeral barrows, showing the site was in use while nearby Stonehenge was being constructed.
"Vespasian's Camp lies at the bottom of a slope occupied further up by what is known as the King's Barrow Ridge, overlooking Stonehenge, while this is further divided into the New King Barrow and Old King Barrow.
"Vespasian's Camp cannot be seen from Stonehenge, but it lies to the east of the ruins, in the direction of the rising sun. As Apollo had largely become thought of as a Sun god by the time Pytheas was writing, it is an obvious connection.
"Given the huge scale of the earthworks at Vespasian's Camp, it is not unthinkable that Pytheas may have thought of Troy, another city sacred to or beloved of Apollo, as some later versions of the stories of this place speak of Apollo building the walls there along with Poseidon.
"We cannot know precisely how Pytheas came to equate the sanctuary, the temple and the city with Apollo, but it is not unthinkable that some future excavation at Stonehenge might provide evidence of this."
For more on this discovery see www.eternalidol.com
8:40am Friday 24th August 2007
FERRYBRIDGE HENGE EXTENSION DISCOVERED IN WEST YORKSHIRE
By 24 Hour Museum Staff 30/08/2007
Broadacre director, Chris Duckworth (left) and Jason Mole of AOC Archaeology Group, pictured examining the archaeological discovery at Broadacre’s new development in Ferrybridge, Yorkshire. Courtesy Broadacre Homes
Archaeologists investigating the site of a housing development in West Yorkshire believe they have found an extension of the renowned Ferrybridge Henge, a partially lost prehistoric ceremonial monument dating from the Neolithic period.
Located near Pontefract where builders Broadacre Homes are planning to build a row of mews homes, archaeologists from AOC Archaeology Group have discovered a field system and drainage ditches just a few feet below the ground that are thought to date back to the Iron Age or Romano-British period.
“This is a very useful discovery as it paints a broader picture of an area which is already renowned for its historical significance,” said Jason Mole of AOC Archaeology Group. “The field system and drainage were built over 2,000 years ago.”
Thanks to a combination of centuries of farming, its proximity to the A1 and M62 road systems and a nearby power station, little of Ferrybridge Henge can now be seen. However, in the Neolithic period it was the focus of a wider ritual landscape.
Today it is regarded as a site of national importance and its environmental remains have helped to build up a picture of the local ecology almost 4,000 years ago.
Broadacre Homes say that when the archaeologists have finished their investigations and the housing development is complete the company will look to incorporate a ‘suitable monument’ which recognises the site’s ancient past.
Neolithic humans had gum habit
Monday August 20 2007
A 5,000-year-old piece of chewing gum - one of the oldest ever to be discovered - has been found by a British archaeology student.
The discovery of the Neolithic gum, made from birch bark tar, was made by Sarah Pickin, 23, during a dig in Finland. The gum had tooth prints in it.
Trevor Brown, her tutor at the University of Derby, said: "Birch bark tar contains phenols, which are antiseptic compounds. It is generally believed that Neolithic people found that by chewing this stuff if they had gum infections it helped to treat the condition."
He said it was particularly significant because of the well defined tooth prints.
Ms Pickin said she was delighted to find the gum and was excited to learn more about its history.
She was one of five students from Britain on a volunteer programme at the Kierikki Centre, a museum and archaeological exhibition on the west coast of Finland.
She also found part of an amber ring and a slate arrow head, all of which will be displayed at the centre once they have been analysed by a laboratory.
Sini Annala, from the Kierikki Centre, said: "The actual material is some kind of tar, that was made by heating birch bark.After the tar was made ... it was boiled, and when it cooled, it became solid.
"When it was heated again, it became softer, and it was used as some kind of chewing gum."
Public release date: 30-Aug-2007
Contact: Amy Lavoie
New research challenges previous knowledge about the origins of urbanization
Cambridge, Mass. -- Ancient cities arose not by decree from a centralized political power, as was previously widely believed, but as the outgrowth of decisions made by smaller groups or individuals, according to a new study from researchers at Harvard University, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Edinburgh.
Published in the Aug. 31st Science, the research was led by Jason Ur, assistant professor of anthropology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, with Philip Karsgaard of the University of Edinburgh, and Joan Oates of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research of the University of Cambridge.
“The results of our work show that the existing models for the origins of ancient cities may in fact be flawed,” says Ur. “Urbanism does not appear to have originated with a single, powerful ruler or political entity. Instead, it was the organic outgrowth of many groups coming together.”
To understand patterns of population growth in the earliest urban areas, archaeologists surveyed the spatial distribution of artifacts at Tell Brak, located in northern Mesopotamia, in what is today northern Iraq and northeastern Syria. The researchers’ work was based on observation of surface objects at the site, along with satellite imagery and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) spatial analysis. Surface artifacts included bits of broken pottery and other ancient garbage, which indicated to the archaeologists where the inhabitants of the city lived. In this survey, the patterns of distribution of these objects were examined over an 800 year period.
Excavation of Tell Brak has been conducted by researchers from the University of Cambridge since 1976. While archaeologists had been aware of the large scale of Tell Brak, they had previously concentrated on excavating and observing the more densely populated “central mound.” This field survey has demonstrated that the city was much larger geographically than realized, and had also been populated by settlement clusters surrounding the “central mound.”
According to the survey of distribution of artifacts, around 4200 BCE the “central mound” was suddenly surrounded by these clusters, suggesting immigration to the city. These clusters were separated from one another, indicating social distance among the groups, possibly because the social mechanisms that allow strangers to live together in an urban environment had not yet evolved. The patterns of settlement and distance from the “central mound” also signified autonomy from the political center of the city.
The theory of a singular leader as the catalyst for urbanization has been widely supported in part because it is reinforced by the story of Gilgamesh, who “built” the city of Uruk. Uruk, located in what is today southern Iraq, had been considered the world’s oldest city. The field survey, along with recent related excavation by the University of Cambridge has shown that the urban development of Tell Brak was concurrent, or may have been earlier, than the development of Uruk.
“Ours is a largely urban society, and the nascent urbanization of Tell Brak tells us about the formation of the very first cities in the world,” says Ur.
The research was funded by the British Academy, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, the Society of Antiquaries, the Charlotte Bonham-Carter Charitable Trust, the University of Michigan and Harvard University.
1.5 tons of ancient coins discovered in north China
21:20, August 30, 2007
A cellar containing 1.5 tons of ancient coins, including some 2,000-year-old ones, have been discovered by a villager in Changzi County, north China's Shanxi Province.
The man in Qianwanhu village discovered the cellar with some 10,000 coins, ranging from 3 cm to 1 cm in diameter, on Aug. 23 when he was digging a channel to place pipes for tap water, said Li Lin, an official of the Changzi Center of Cultural Heritage and Tourism.
The "money cellar" was 1.5 meters under the earth, with coins being piled orderly into a cuboid of 1.3 meters long, 0.65 meter wide and one meter high, Li said.
Most of the coins were made during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) with the remainders made during Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) and Tang Dynasty (618-907), Li said.
Many coins were in good condition, and characters on the surface were still legible, while some others were rusty. The largest coin is 3 cm in diameter and the smallest is one cm, Li said.
Archaeologists said the coins were there for three reasons: the coins were liege lords' private wealth; or they were buried by ancient Chinese private banks during war; or they belonged to rich people who buried them during war but had forgotten.
The coins have been sent to local cultural relics authorities.
Second longest 'Great Wall' in Asia discovered in Iran
From our ANI Correspondent
Tehran, Aug 27: British and Iranian archaeologists have discovered the ruins of a 200 kilometre long wall, the second longest wall in Asia after the Great Wall of China, in northern Iran.
Experts believe the Gorgan Great Wall in northern Iran's Golestan Province was built at about the same time as the 'Great Wall' and was used as a defence system against the invasions of the Ephthalites, a nomadic people who once lived in Central Asia.
Archaeologists also discovered a 50-kilometre long stretch of a canal near the wall that was used to transfer water from the Gorganrud River to the people who once lived in the vicinity of the wall.
According to Hamid Omrani, the leader of the Iranian team, this section of the canal was still in use until the 1979 Islamic Revolution when French engineers built the Voshmgir Dam.
Mehr News Agency reported that last week, the team, which includes experts from the universities of Durham and Edinburgh, also discovered a sixteenth century fort at the Gorgan Great Wall.
Eighth-century old Hindu temple discovered in Kashmir
From our ANI Correspondent
Situated in the Manasbal Lake, the temple is located about 32 kilometres away from Srinagar.
The tourist department of the area stumbled on the ancient temple during excavation work. About 8 to 9 feet of the temple structure was below water.
Rising water flows caused by constant digging, however, is hampering the work.
Tourism authorities say they are working in tandem with the State archaeological department to ensure preservation of the heritage site.
We have taken the experts' opinion on how to proceed in the matter so that the temple's architecture does not get disturbed. This place has become a new attraction for Amarnath pilgrims," said Nazir Ahmad Mir, Chairman Manasbal Development Authority.
The site falls enroute to the Amarnath cave, a revered pilgrim destination.
The state tourism department believes the temple will be a new attraction for the pilgrims and tourists alike.
Some locals said they had an opportunity to go inside the temple and see the carvings and the sculptures inside the temple's dome.
"I think 5-8 people can go inside at a time. I saw five sculptures inscribed in the dome structure inside the temple," said Muhammad Ashraf, a local resident who went inside the temple.
The temple is believed to have been built in honour of Lord Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction as some shivlings (phallic symbols) have been found in the temple.
Revealedix: the Gaul of Asterix was no joke
By Justin Stares in Brussels, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:17am BST 02/09/2007
Fighting with his bare fists, and massively outnumbered, France's cockiest Gaul, Asterix, led a brave rebellion against the Roman occupier.
Not only was his little village encircled by Julius Cæsar's troops, it was up against an expanding empire - unequalled in the art of warfare and determined to civilise a backward people who worshipped druids and believed in magic potions. Or so it was thought until now.
But a discovery in central France has led to a significant reassessment of the Gauls, who were, it transpires, much more advanced than previously thought.
Rather than the random gatherings of rudimentary thatched huts illustrated in the Asterix books, first published in 1961, archaeologists now believe the Gauls lived in elegant buildings with tiled roofs, laid out in towns with public squares or forums.
They also crafted metalwork just as complex as anything produced by the Romans, even before the Roman invasion in 52BC.
The findings have been made at a dig in Corent, near Lyon, where archaeologists have uncovered what they believe is the palace of Vercingetorix, the last military leader of all Gaul.
After the Romans arrived, Vercingetorix, a prince who also appears in the Asterix volumes, was taken prisoner, held in a prison in Rome and garroted several years later to celebrate Caesar's triumph.
"What we have found here proves that the Gauls were much more civilised than we thought," Matthieu Poux, the archaeology professor who is heading the dig, told The Sunday Telegraph.
"The Asterix albums will need to be completely rewritten, as they are based on the typical image of the Gauls which has been passed down through the centuries, one of a prehistoric man who lives in the forest. We have discovered that they had not only complex military structures, but civilian and trading structures too.
"Until now Gauls for the French were people who lived in huts among the trees, frightening people. Parents would threaten to send their children to the Gauls if they did not go to sleep.
"But we have discovered large buildings and public spaces which prove there were Gauls of considerable social standing.
"Very high magistrates or nobles lived here, possibly even Vercingetorix. We think we are working on the site where he was given leadership over all of Gaul in order to fight the Roman invasion."
Mr Poux's team has uncovered previously unknown building techniques, elaborate foundations and tiled roofing which together suggest that the architecture in Gaul was just as advanced as that in Rome around 80 to 70BC.
Evidence of a Roman-style forum for public gatherings and a gallery housing boutiques and workshops has also been discovered, together with ironmongers' tools, coins and scales. The dig, which has until now concentrated on small, localised sites, will now be expanded by several miles in the hope of unearthing an entire city.
Gaul's leaders, it would seem, were a far cry from the buffoon cartoon character Abraracourcix (Vitalstatistix in the English version), the chief of Asterix's tribe. His main worry, other than finding food, was that the sky would fall on his head.
However, perhaps not surprisingly, there is resistance to the idea of revising the Asterix stories to reflect the new historical findings.
"I have read about the new discoveries, but to be honest I don't think we will be reworking the Asterix stories," said Florence Richaud, a spokesman for Albert René, publishers of the series of albums. "The illustrator Albert Uderzo did try to make it authentic, but rather than educational material these are stories designed basically to make children laugh."
Mr Uderzo, 80, who has illustrated all of the Asterix adventures, is working on his memoirs and has no plans to give new life to his ferocious, moustached creation.
01 September 2007
The oldest Roman frontier system produces another twist in Scotland’s history
Archaeologists working on Scotland’s Gask Ridge Frontier, which dates to the early 70s AD, have discovered evidence that part of the visible monument is in fact 70 years younger than previously believed and dates from the Antonine period. The Gask frontier is the oldest Roman frontier anywhere in the Empire and predates Hadrian’s Wall by 50 years
The Gask Ridge Frontier is a combination of forts, watch towers and a road. It stretches from around Dunblane in Perthshire to north of Perth itself, mainly running on the low Gask Ridge. Work this summer, by the Roman Gask Project, University of Liverpool, indicates that the visible Roman road is younger than the watch towers that are arranged along it. The towers date from around 70 AD and would have been linked by a road or track, however the visible road is Antonine in date (around 140 AD).
During the Antonine period Hadrian’s Wall was abandoned and a new frontier of wood and turf – the Antonine Wall – was built between the Clyde and Forth. At the same time some of the forts that made up the Gask system were rebuilt as outposts of the Antonine Wall.
“The archaeology of the Gask is becoming more complex than originally believed and shows that it played an active part in the military history of Roman Scotland for a considerable time,” said Dr David Woolliscroft co–Director of the project.
“The watch towers must have been linked by a road or track, to allow the tower teams to reach their posts from the nearby forts, but that road remains to be found. The wonderfully engineered road we see today was built later when the forts came back into use in the mid 2nd century.”
The combination of road and watch towers that was first created in Scotland was used as a model by the Roman army in Germany 20 years later when they built their frontier from the Rhine to the Danube.
Hurricane reveals ancient cannons in Mexico
August 30 2007 at 02:01AM
Mexico City - Hurricane Dean's rampage over Mexico's Caribbean coast last week unearthed three rusted 18th century cannons that had lain buried under a sandy beach for decades.
The cannons, around 1.8m long, were spotted poking through the sand on a beach near the arty resort of Tulum after Dean hit on August 21, Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said on Wednesday.
Believed to be from a shipwrecked European galleon, the badly corroded cannons will be put back in to the sea to protect them from faster corrosion onshore and for scuba divers to enjoy, it said.
"People started working to clear up the beach and they found three artifacts that were uncovered when sand was torn away by the strong winds that hit the region," INAH's director in the region, Adriana Velazquez, said in a statement.
She could not be reached directly because of damage to telephone lines from Hurricane Dean.
The cannons appeared just south of the clifftop Mayan ruins at Tulum, which INAH said were left intact by the Category 5 storm's 250km/h winds and lashing rains.
Lying on what is now a bar-lined tourist haven, the cannons were a flashback to the centuries following Spain's 1521 conquest of Mexico, when fleets of Spanish galleons loaded with gold, silver and other New World plunder crossed the Caribbean, often with English, French or Dutch pirates in pursuit.
The cannons are similar to others discovered in past years along Mexico's Caribbean coast and they appear to be more than 200 years old, Velazquez said.
Their bad state of corrosion suggests they were taken out of the sea many years ago and left out in the salty air, she said.
Coin find hints at visit to Australia before 1597
August 30, 2007 09:31am
A COIN found in a swamp could help prove a Spanish or Portuguese ship was wrecked on Australia's east coast years before Captain James Cook's voyage.
The coin, found in a snake-infested marsh, could help prove a century-old theory that a Spanish or Portuguese ship was wrecked on Australia’s east coast years before Captain Cook’s famed voyage of discovery.
The find, made by an expedition led by self-funded Brisbane historian Greg Jeffreys, is the first piece of dated evidence among a number of artefacts found in Eighteen Mile Swamp on Queensland’s North Stradbroke Island.
An independent UK expert from Cambridge University has been able to confirm the coin as being dated 1597 for NEWS.com.au from what he could see in this picture.
“If it were the genuine object it does suggest a late 17th century wreck,” the expert from the Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum told NEWS.com.au. “It’s pre-Captain Cook by a long way.”
Mr Jefferys, who is himself waiting to have the piece verified in Europe, hopes the coin will lead him to the wreck first rumoured to be there from witness accounts in the 1890s.
“It’s the first thing that we can date 100 per cent,” he said. “This has the date stamped on it so it has to be a 17th century wreck.”
Tales include Aborigines in the 1920s finding gold coins in the area with locals claiming to have seen the wreck throughout the years.
There has also been speculation Captain Cook used secret Spanish or Portuguese maps to navigate before he made landfall in Australia in 1770.
“All the evidence points to either a Portuguese or Spanish ship,” Mr Jeffreys said. “It’s not likely to be a galleon - all the eye-witness accounts put it at 30m long so it’s probably a caravel or carrack which were used for exploration.”
Mr Jeffreys said his team was resting on a sand spit after slowly hacking their way through 3m razor grass when a colleague stumbled on the piece.
“He was scratching in the sand and his machete turned up this coin,” Mr Jeffreys said. “It’s one of those fluke things – it’s amazing.”
Mr Jeffreys, an archaeology graduate and historian, has looking for a wreck to support the theories for more than 20 years.
The quest has not been without its disappointments.
In 2002, he thought he’d found muzzles and barrels of cannons from a 16th-century Portuguese or Spanish galleon only to concede days later in the national press that the pieces were actually lifeboat supports from a 19th-century ship.
More recently he has discovered a brass button, a sailor’s blade and a fishing weight in the dense swamp.
The group had gone to the location after a tip-off from the son of a RAAF pilot whose father had flown over the area many times during World War II.
The pilot - Cyril Broome - claimed to have seen the shipwreck in the swamp between 1938 and 1942 while flying training missions and calculated the location on a military map using area landmarks.
Another map published by Shell in the 1920s includes an entry for “Wreck of Spanish Galleon” in about the same location.
Authorities in Queensland have previously expressed scepticism about the claims.