Two sets of mammoth bones unearthed in Minsk


Published: Friday, July 25, 2008


MINSK - Workers building a business centre in Minsk came across the bones of two mammoths thought to be between 25,000 and 45,000 years old, an official from Belarus' Academy of Sciences told AFP on Friday.


The construction workers did not realize the bones could be prehistoric until they discovered tusks and immediately called in experts, said Alexander Medvedev, who heads the Academy's archaeology department.


Scientists determined the discovery to be the bones of two young mammoths, Medvedev said. "For us, it is a very important and very rare discovery," he said.



Flint hints at existence of Palaeolithic man in Ireland

200,000 year-old flaked flint is certainly of human workmanship, but its ultimate origin remains uncertain

Norman Hammond

Archaeology Correspondent


The possibility of a Palaeolithic human presence in Ireland has once again presented itself. A flaked flint dating to about 200,000 years ago found in Co Down is certainly of human workmanship, but its ultimate origin remains uncertain.


Discovered at Ballycullen, ten miles east of Belfast, the flake is 68mm long and wide and 31mm thick. Its originally dark surface is heavily patinated to a yellowish shade, and the lack of sharpness in its edges suggests that it has been rolled around by water or ice, Jon Stirland reports in Archaeology Ireland.


Dr Farina Sternke has identified it as a classic Levallois-type flake from the rejuvenation of a flint core; such flakes are characteristic of stone-tool industries made by archaic humans of the pre-Neanderthal era, as technology moved towards making multiple flakes from one core and then trimming them into a variety of different tool types.


The date assigned of between 240,000 and 180,000 years matches a similar flake discovered by the late Professor Frank Mitchell near Drogheda, Co Louth, 40 years ago, which has until now been the only uncontested Palaeolithic tool from Ireland.


The problem, as with the Drogheda flake, lies in the context: the Ballycullen specimen was shown to have come from a drumlin mound, deposited by glacial activity. The last such activity in Co Down was about 16,000 years ago, and the ice sheet had spread west from Scotland.


Other materials in the drumlin led Dr Ian Mitchell, of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, to suggest that the flake could have been transported “a significant distance, from eastern Antrim, from the sea bed in the North Channel, or even from the West Coast of Scotland”, the same conclusion that Professor Mitchell came to about the Drogheda specimen in 1968. So the evidence for the earliest Irish remains enticing, but tenuous.


Archaeology Ireland Vol. 22 No. 1: 23-24



Poles point to Yunnan Neolithic age site

(China Daily)

Updated: 2008-07-22


DALI, Yunnan -- More than 2,000 wooden poles recently unearthed at a site in Jianchuan county, have been found to be more than 3,000 years old.


The poles, still standing, were dug 4.5 m into the ground.


Archaeologists said carbon tests showed the poles were from the Neolithic age, and were probably the foundations for a structure built by a community that existed at the time in southwest China.


They said this community may turn out to be the largest Neolithic one of its kind that has ever been discovered in China, or even in the world. It could be older than the Hemudu community in Yuyao, Zhejiang province, birthplace of the Yangtze River civilization.


"I was shocked when I first saw the site. I have never seen such a big and orderly one. This could be only a small fraction of the actual community that existed at the time," Yan Wenming, history professor at Peking University, said.


Excavation of the site is still going on. A total of 28 excavations have been made so far of an area that covers 1,350 sq m. Min Rui, a researcher at the Yunnan Archaeological Institute who leads the excavation, said the area could eventually cover 4 sq km


Yan said the poles could have been the foundations for a house as these types of structures have been found in Hubei, Guangdong, Zhejiang and other provinces, the most famous being the Hemudu site.


"Right now there is also such a site being excavated in Switzerland. But that site is smaller than the one in Yunnan. The Yunnan one could be the largest in the world," Yan said.


Archaeologists have also found more than 3,000 artifacts made of stone, as well as pottery, wood, iron and bones. The most eye-catching piece is a red jar, Min said.


The site, which lies on the banks of the Jianhu Lake, was discovered in 1957 during the construction of a canal. Broken pieces of pottery were found nearby. Excavation started in January this year - five decades after the discovery.





800-year-old footprint unearthed in Canada



OTTAWA, July 22 (Xinhua) -- A footprint of 800 years old has been unearthed at one of Canada's top archaeological sites in the western Manitoba Province, scientists announced Tuesday.


The footprint was discovered when archaeologists dug at the site located in the central area of provincial capital Winnipeg. The area has a rich history that includes aboriginal camping, the fur trade, the construction of the railway, waves of immigration and the Industrial Age.


The place has been determined as the future site of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and archaeologists have been scraping away at the site for the basement of the building.


Thousands of artifacts have been uncovered, including pottery and arrowheads, chief archaeologist Sid Kroeker said.


The footprint, found about two meters below the surface, was probably left in the mud around 1200 A.D.. Pieces of pottery and fish remains were found underneath it, he said.


"They stepped down and their foot pressed into the clay, left a footprint and either the ground dried out and hardened, or it froze. The next flood episode that came through put down a slightly different type of sediment, so that the two soils didn't meld together and obliterate it," he said.     



Tomb reveals ancient trade network

Adriatic coast linked with Mideast, North Africa and Greece

(ANSA) - Ancona, July 24


The tomb of a woman who died around 2,600 years ago on the eastern Italian coast is helping archaeologists piece together the vast trade network that once linked this area with the Middle East, North Africa and Greece.


Experts working on a tomb near the port of Ancona say the site contains over 650 artefacts from the 7th century BC, including numerous items made in other parts of the world.


''This tomb is of extraordinary importance, as it contains the only known funerary finds in the area of Conero dating from this time,'' said the Archaeology Superintendent for the Marche region, Giuliano de Marinis. The pieces demonstrate that an extensive network of contact and trade once linked this section of the Adriatic coast not only to Sicily and southern and central Italy, but also much further afield. The tomb contains artefacts manufactured in sites as far away as modern-day Egypt, Rhodes, mainland Greece, the Palestinian Territories and Anatolia. ''This discovery fills in a big gap in our knowledge and helps define the role this area played in past centuries,'' continued De Marinis. ''For example, it shows that items from Greece and the eastern Mediterranean passed through here en route to other parts of the Italian peninsula''. Of particular value are five glazed pottery pendants, which were made in Egypt. Probably used as amulets, they are each six centimetres in length and are shaped like seashells. Also of special interest are a bowl and lid, intricately decorated with horses, and a cowry disc from the Indian Ocean. This latter was considered a fertility symbol and was reproduced in Ancient Egyptians tombs.


Among the other items contained in the tomb were pendants of ivory, glass paste and amber, scarabs, and belts of buckle and bone. The head of the archaeological project, Maurizio Landolfi, said: ''These items were possibly transported to the Marche along with consignments of amber, which was in great demand for decorating jewellery and homes''. Over the last two years, over 200 tombs have been uncovered in the area, particularly around the towns of Sirolo and Numana.



Roman spa unearthed in southern Serbia

20 July 2008 Source: B92


Prokuplje -- Archeologists say they have discovered a Roman spa of monumental proportions in downtown Prokuplje.


The spa was found during works to reconstruct the parochial seat of the local church of Sv. Prokopije in this southern Serbian town.


Archeologist Julka Kuzmanović-Cvetković says the discovery is important because it will put Prokuplje on Serbia's map of ancient Roman sites, known as the Trail of Roman Emperors.


Roman spas were the equivalent of today's fitness centers, frequented by the wealthiest and most respected residents of the ancient Hameum, as a matter of prestige, experts explain.


"The discovery is exceptional, because until now we knew little about Hameum. We knew of this Roman temple and that there are remains of a fort on the Hisar hill, that we have not dug up yet. These structures are another significant addition, as they show us where the urban nucleus likely was," Kuzmanović-Cvetković said.


Scientists are guessing about the size of the settlement that included the spa. So far, the sites in today's Prokuplje also yielded tombs and jewelry used in the burial rituals, and everyday items such as plates and cups, exhibited at the town's National Museum which boasts a rich Roman collection.



Iron Age warrior's grave a unique find

Published Date:

26 July 2008

By Elise Brewerton


THE 2,000-year-old grave of an Iron Age warrior has been discovered in the trenches of a new housing development.


The discovery by archaeologists is thought to indicate a burial site unique in the UK – and so important that the find was kept under wraps until the delicate process of moving the remains to a laboratory had been completed.


This was for fear of illegal treasure-hunters descending on North Bersted, Bognor Regis.


Archaeologists believe the remains, from between 40AD and 60AD, are of a wealthy man in his 30s who was either a highly decorated soldier or a member of an extremely important family, maybe even a prince.


He was buried with a rich array of Roman goods including a Montefortino helmet – only ever previously found on the continent – a shield and highly-decorated lattice sheets.


The helmet and shield suggest he may have been sent to Britain by his family to be educated or fight.


The lattice work, which may have covered the shield, is of particular significance and Mark Taylor, senior archaeologist at West Sussex County Council, said nothing to rival it has been discovered in Europe before.


'This is a spectacular find in terms of burial,' said Mr Taylor. At the moment we don't think there are any obvious parallels for this material.


'There will now be meticulous analysis of what has been found which we hope can help us discover more.'


Pottery jars were also found in what appears to have been an iron burial casket. They were probably filled with offerings to the gods or food for the afterlife.


Because of previous rich archaeological finds in Sussex, Berkeley Homes and Persimmon Homes had to organise the archaeological dig as part of planning conditions for 650 homes on former farmland.


The development will still go ahead but excavation work will continue until the end of September.


The skeleton has been sent to Thames Valley Archaeological Services, which unearthed the grave, and the helmet, shield and lattice work have been sent to a laboratory in Salisbury for detailed analysis.


Margaret Rule, one of the country's leading archaeologists, said she was excited by the find. She said: 'It seems very interesting, and it's certainly lavish. The area of Chichester has a rich iron age history so I hope they keep working and uncover more artefacts.'

Ancient grave found on Bognor new homes site

9:45am Monday 28th July 2008

By Sam Underwood, www.theargus.co.uk


Land soon to become a new housing estate has yielded an unexpected treasure – a 2,000- year-old skeleton, believed to be that of a prince, a warrior or a priest.


Planning permission has been granted for more than 600 houses in open fields at North Bersted near Bognor.


But before the work could go ahead, an archaeological survey had to be carried out on the site to check if there was anything of historical interest under the topsoil.


What the team from the Thames Valley Archaeological Services found was beyond their wildest dreams.


After digging tirelessly for several months they have made numerous discoveries.


The excavations revealed Bronze Age boundary ditches and evidence of occupation, four Middle Bronze Age bronze axes known as palstaves, an Iron Age roundhouse and a Roman building set among fields.


But there was more. Hidden just below the surface was a burial mound containing a well-preserved skeleton of a man that had lain undisturbed for about 2,000 years.


Around him were three pots containing various items suggesting he was a man of wealth.


Steve Ford, a director of the archaeological service, said: “The deceased, a mature male more than 30 years old, was laid out in a grave and was accompanied by grave goods.


“These comprised three large pottery jars placed at the end of the grave, presumably containing offerings to the gods or food for the journey into the afterlife, an iron knife and several items made of bronze.


“One appears to be a helmet and the other a shield boss.


“Also present are two bronze latticework sheets highly decorated, perhaps used to cover a shield.


“The burial and its grave goods seems to have been placed in a large coffin or casket bound by iron hoops with an iron framed structure placed on top.”


The intricate metalwork is so unusual that even the professor of European archaeology at Oxford University, Professor Barry Cunliffe, who visited the site, said he had seen nothing like it before.


In order to remove the objects from the ground without damaging them, they were lifted in blocks of soil by a specialist conservator for more delicate excavation and conservation in a laboratory.


Mr Ford said the pottery indicated that the burial took place either at the end of the Late Iron Age or just into the Roman period, around AD 50.


He said the burial was similar to famous graves of the Late Iron Age found in Hertforshire, Kent and Essex.


All of these, he said, are likely to have been graves of princes, chiefs or possibly priests but that they were all dated a little earlier than the North Bersted site.


Building work on the land has been temporarily halted by developers Berkeley Homes and Persimmon Homes due to the credit crunch.




Church reveals its 142-year-old secret

8:07am Thursday 24th July 2008

By Lauren Pyrah


A VICTORIAN message in a bottle was uncovered at a church yesterday.


Contractors restoring the floor at St Helen’s Church, in St Helen Auckland, County Durham, were stunned when they discovered the 142-yearold bottle, with a piece of paper still inside.


The message, which states it was written in 1866 when the medieval church was restored, gives details of the restoration and the people who carried it out.


It also asks the finder to return it to the church’s foundations.


The bottle was found by Stephen Smith, of Grove Reconstruction, the contractors who are restoring the church.


It had been sealed with a cork, which had partly disintegrated and crumbled when it was removed. The message was in an envelope, which disintegrated when it was handled, but the note inside remained intact.


The bottle, which is made of clear glass and may have held ginger beer, is marked with the words “Auckland” and “JW Townend”.


It was found in the foundations of the church’s southeast chapel.


Other features of archaeological interest have also been discovered.


The remains of a medieval wall painting were found and it was also discovered that the bottom of the pillars is made of brick, which means that they probably date from around the time of the restoration.


Archaeologist Peter Ryder, who has been on site, said although he had seen other messages from the past left in different ways, the discovery of a message in a bottle was unusual.


“I’ve not seen anything quite like this,” he said.


“It is the classic message in a bottle.”


As requested on the paper, details of the latest restoration were added to it and it was resealed in the bottle and put back into the church foundations yesterday