www.archaeology.ws/archive

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/06/italy-earthquake-damage-historic-churches

Italy earthquake damages historic buildings

Medieval church and 16th-century fortress among heritage sites damaged

Peter Walker

guardian.co.uk, Monday 6 April 2009 16.34 BST

 

The earthquake that killed scores of people in central Italy today has severely damaged a series of important historic buildings, including a famous medieval church and one of the country's best-preserved Renaissance castles.

 

At least four old churches were damaged in the 6.3-magnitude quake that struck early this morning, the culture ministry in Rome said.

 

Among them was the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio, a striking pink-and-white stone-faced structure known for its architecture and for an annual pilgrimage honouring a 13th-century pope, Celestine V, a former hermit who was both crowned and buried there.

 

One nave wall in the church, which is also celebrated for its 14th-century frescoes and lavish Gothic interior, collapsed in the quake, while the bell tower of another church, the lavish Renaissance-era Basilica of San Bernardino, collapsed.

 

Also damaged was a castle renowned as one of Italy's best-preserved 16th-century fortresses. The Forte Spagnolo, or Spanish Fort, is so called because it was built under the orders of Spain's then king, Charles V, whose forces had defeated local rebels.

 

The quake was powerful enough to be felt in Rome, around 60 miles from the epicentre. Heritage officials in the capital said the tremor had been strong enough to damage the third-century Baths of Caracalla, the Roman public baths popular with tourists.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/5114636/LAquila-earthquake-damaged-ancient-baths-in-Rome.html

L'Aquila earthquake damaged ancient baths in Rome

The third-century Baths of Caracalla in Rome were damaged by the earthquake that struck near L'Aquila central Italy on Monday, a city archaeological authority told reporters.

Last Updated: 3:44PM BST 06 Apr 2009

 

The baths "suffered some damage," Angelo Bottini said, adding that the results of an initial inspection had "not yet been precisely evaluated."

 

The red-brick ruins, which cover some 11 hectares (27 acres) at the foot of Rome's Aventine Hill, are the frequent site of opera productions and open-air concerts in the summer.

 

During Emperor Caracalla's era, the bathing facilities could accommodate more than 1,600 people and included gymnasiums, libraries and gardens.

 

Bottini said no other historic sites in the city were damaged.

 

The quake in the Abruzzo region northwest of Rome woke many residents of the Italian capital at shortly after 3:30 am (0130 GMT).

 

In the quake's epicentre, the Abruzzo capital L'Aquila, the dome of a church fell in and the city's main San Massimo cathedral was damaged.

 

The cathedral was initially built in the 13th century, but was destroyed in an earthquake early in the 18th century.

 

The present facade dates to 1851 and has two belltowers in the neo-classical style.

 

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16873-early-humans-may-have-cared-for-disabled-young.html

Early humans may have cared for disabled young

14:03 31 March 2009 by Ewen Callaway

 

A recently unearthed ancient human skull shows signs of a disorder that might have caused mental retardation. This offers the earliest evidence that ancestors of Homo sapiens did not abandon young with severe birth defects.

 

The 500,000-year-old skeleton belonged to a five to 12-year-old child who suffered from craniosynostosis. The rare congenital condition occurs when two of the flat bones that make up the skull fuse together along their margins (sutures) too early during fetal development, hindering brain growth.

 

Spanish researchers discovered the first pieces of the skull near Atapuerca, Spain, in 2001, but they only recently pieced enough of it together to make a conclusive diagnosis.

 

"We were sure we had evidence of a real pathology," says Ana Gracia, a palaeoanthropologist at Complutense University in Madrid, who led the new study. "It's obvious – you only have to look at the cranium."

 

The child suffered from a form of craniosynostosis that occurs in about 1 in every 200,000 children.

 

He or she was a member of the species Homo heidelbergensis, – early humans that lived in Europe up to 800,000 years ago and may have given rise to Neanderthals.

 

The discovery marks the earliest example of a human skeleton with signs of a physical deformity that that might have made the individual dependent on others for survival.

 

Most animals, including primates, sacrifice or abandon young born with crippling deformities, Gracia says. It's impossible to know whether the child suffered from any cognitive problems, but he or she would undoubtedly have looked different from family and friends, she says.

 

"The obvious conclusion is that [this child] was being helped by other members of the social group," says Erik Trinkaus, a paleoanthropologist at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri.

 

However, Matthew Speltz, a psychologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, says the link between craniosynostosis and cognitive problems is not so clear-cut. Speltz is leading an ongoing study to track the development of children born with various forms of the condition.

 

His team has found that children with craniosynostosis are more likely than other kids to have cognitive and motor problems. But the condition is by no means a guarantee of severe learning difficulties. "There might be a slight increased risk of mental retardation," he says.

 

Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0900965106)

 

http://www.sciam.com/blog/60-second-science/post.cfm?id=neandertal-cannibalism-maybe-not-2009-04-02

Neandertal cannibalism? Maybe not

By Kate Wong in 60-Second Science Blog 

Apr 2, 2009 06:50 PM

CHICAGO

 

Scientists have long argued that Neandertal remains from the site of Krapina in northern Croatia exhibit evidence of cannibalism. The fragmentary nature of the bones, along with cut marks on a number of fragments, were said to be signs that our closest relatives feasted on one another. But a new study suggests that the nicks seem to be the result of much more recent handiwork.

 

Paleoanthropologist and archaeologist Jörg Orschiedt of the University of Hamburg in Germany reported yesterday at the annual meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society here that cut marks in the Krapina fossils he studied are randomly distributed and did not necessarily occur in spots that would permit de-fleshing (such as where muscles attach to bones). What's more, the scratches varied – some were shallow and others deep.

 

“I kept thinking it doesn’t make sense,” Orschiedt told ScientificAmerican.com.

 

An alternative explanation to cannibalism dawned on him as he sifted through photos of the bones. Specifically, he came across a picture of a bone fragment with the letter F for femur (the thighbone) scrawled on it. It turns out the bone was mislabeled—it was actually part of a shinbone, not a thighbone—but what caught Orschiedt’s eye was that the cut marks interrupted the F. He concluded that the scratches were likely made inadvertently by a researcher—possibly during measurement of the bone with sharp instruments—after the bone was labeled, probably in the early 1900s.

 

One Krapina specimen that Orschiedt believes does have genuinely ancient cut marks is a famous partial skull known as the C skull. These nicks, which appear in the center of the forehead, are encrusted with minerals that could only have accumulated long ago. What do the marks mean? “It’s tempting to say it has to do with burial customs,” he says, although it is impossible to know the exact nature of those practices.

 

As for the fact that many of the Krapina Neandertal bones are broken to bits, which investigators have long attributed to the hominids extracting nutritious marrow, Orschiedt believes that hungry carnivores were responsible for much of the damage. He also thinks that as the roof of the rock shelter crumbled over time, falling rocks smashed the bones.

 

If Orschiedt is right, what is arguably the most famous example of cannibalism among our closest relatives can no longer be held up as such. That does not mean Neandertals never ate their own, however. Neandertal remains from other sites bear signs that they snacked on one another.. But Orschiedt says some of those fossils, too, should be re-examined in light of his observations at Krapina.

 

http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/402/2

Oldest Stone Blades Uncovered

By Ann Gibbons

ScienceNOW Daily News

2 April 2009

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--Paleoanthropologists working in Africa have discovered stone blades more than a half-million years old. That pushes the date of the earliest known blades back a remarkable 150,000 years and raises a question: What human ancestor made them?

 

Not long ago, researchers thought that blades were so hard to make that they had to be the handiwork of modern humans, who had evolved the mental wherewithal to systematically strike a cobble in the right way to produce blades and not just crude stone flakes. First, they were thought to be a hallmark of the late Stone Age, which began 40,000 years ago. Later, blades were thought to have emerged in the Middle Stone Age, which began about 200,000 years ago when modern humans arose in Africa and invented a new industry of more sophisticated stone tools. But this view has been challenged in recent years as researchers discovered blades that dated to 380,000 years in the Middle East and to almost 300,000 years ago in Europe, where Neandertals may have made them (ScienceNOW, 1 December 2008).

 

Now it appears that more than 500,000 years ago, human ancestors living in the Baringo Basin of Kenya collected lava stone cobbles from a riverbed and hammered them in just the right way to produce stone blades. Paleoanthropologists Cara Roure Johnson and Sally McBrearty of the University of Connecticut, Storrs, recently discovered the blades at five sites in the region, including two that date to between 509,000 and 543,000 years ago. "This is the oldest known occurrence of blades," Johnson reported Wednesday here at the annual meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society.

 

Johnson and McBrearty found the stone blades in a basalt outcrop known as the Kapthurin Formation, including four cores from which the blades were struck. "These assemblages would have been made by a different species of human," Johnson said. "Who were they?" The blades come from the same part of the formation where researchers have found two lower jaws that have been variously described as belonging to Homo heidelbergensis or H. rhodesiensis, human ancestors in Europe and Africa that predate the origin of our species, H. sapiens.

 

Regardless of the identity of the toolmakers, other researchers say that the discovery of blades this early suggests that these toolmakers were capable of more sophisticated behavior than previously thought, perhaps as a result of the last dramatic expansion of brain size in the human lineage about 600,000 years ago. "It's reflective of a major shift in human cognition," says Alison Brooks, a paleoanthropologist at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

 

To convince most researchers that such a dramatic breakthrough really took place so early in human evolution, however, anthropologists will have to find more blades this ancient, says paleoanthropologist Rick Potts of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Stay tuned: The search is already under way for more African blade runners.

 

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hbA1toEwcEZfiZRMbIOq_exLNnaA

Nefertiti got extreme makeover: researchers

 

BERLIN (AFP) — German researchers said Tuesday they have uncovered a second, hidden face within one of ancient Egypt's most treasured artefacts, the bust of legendary beauty Queen Nefertiti.

 

The delicately sculpted face on the interior, revealed when the bust underwent a computed tomography (CT) scan, indicates that Nefertiti may not have been the flawless beauty depicted on the bust's exterior.

 

Compared to the outer stucco face, the hidden limestone visage had less depth in the corners of the eyelids, laugh lines around the corners of the mouth and cheeks, less prominently regal cheekbones and a tiny bump on the ridge of the nose.

 

"We acquired a lot of information on how the bust was manufactured more than 3,300 years ago by the royal sculptor," said the chief author of the study published Tuesday in the April issue of Radiology, Alexander Huppertz.

 

Huppertz, who is director of the Imaging Science Institute at Berlin's Charite teaching hospital, said that advances in CT technology allowed the team to do a deeper analysis of the bust.

 

The 3-D surface reformation of the inner limestone sculpture indicated that it was created in several steps, and the artist's makeover may have reflected the aesthetic ideals of the era.

 

The study said that the CT scan, which is most commonly used in screening patients for disease, could reveal vulnerable areas of the fragile bust to help protect it in its handling.

 

"Non-invasive CT technology and very advanced 3-D post-processing tools allow us greater insight into the internal composition and conservation status of the sculpture," Huppertz said.

 

"This knowledge will greatly contribute to the preservation of this priceless antiquity."

 

Nefertiti, renowned as one of history's great beauties, was the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaton, remembered for having converted his kingdom to monotheism with the worship of one sun god, Aton.

 

German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt brought the figure to Berlin in 1913, a year after it was unearthed on the banks of the Nile.

 

It is a prime attraction at the city's Altes Museum but will move into its own hall at the newly renovated Neues Museum when it reopens to the public in October.

 

The bust has long been a source of friction between Egypt and Germany. Cairo alleges that Borchardt fraudulently spirited it out of the country and has demanded its return.

 

German authorities have reportedly said they are willing to consider whether the statue could be returned to Cairo temporarily for display and the study's findings could help determine whether it could safely make the trip.

 

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-04/01/content_11109979.htm

Prehistoric cave homes among China's top 10 archaeological discoveries

www.chinaview.cn 2009-04-01 08:05:39

BEIJING, March 31 (Xinhua)

 

A group of man-made cave houses dating back 5,500 years ranked top among the 10 most significant archaeological discoveries in China in 2008, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) announced on Tuesday.

 

Other discoveries included a Bronze-Age graveyard in northwest China's Gansu Province, a tomb that proves the existence of a kingdom during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), and a "shopping district" of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) in southwest China's Chengdu City.

 

"Every discovery, chosen from 25 nominated projects, is of great and special significance in archaeological studies," said XuPingfang, a leading archaeologist with the Institute of Archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

 

The Yangguanzhai ruin, in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, consists of 17 cave houses on a cliff and adjacent pottery kilns near Gaoling county, 20 km away from the provincial capital Xi'an.

 

Scientists believe the caves, built between 3,500 to 3,000 BC, were the earliest man-made cave homes in China, and belonged to a late Neolithic culture named Yangshao.

 

Yangshao culture originated on the middle reaches of the Yellow River and was considered a main ancestor of Chinese civilization.

 

Archaeologists also found pottery kilns and caves to store pottery beside the houses in Yangguangzhai, as well as pottery items, fragments and tools. They believed the caves were homes to families of pottery makers.

 

In Lintan County, Gansu, archaeologists excavated more than 340tombs at a graveyard near the Tao River and unearthed many pottery items, which were believed to provide new clues to the study of 4,000-year-old Qijia culture.

 

The excavation of the Shuangdun tomb in Bengbu City, central China's Anhui Province, provided strong evidence for the existenceof the Zhongli Kingdom during the Spring and Autumn Period, thanks to enormous discoveries of bronze and pottery items.

 

The site of an ancient city in the center of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, triggered curiosity among researchers and the public about possible boom of the city during the Tang (681-907) and Song dynasties.

 

The ongoing excavation found the city had already developed advanced street and sewage systems in its commercial center.

 

The site was found accidentally when a real estate project was constructed in the center of Chengdu.

 

"It is very rare in China that an urban construction contributed to such a big archaeological discovery," said Tong Mingkang, deputy director of the SACH.

 

This was the 19th consecutive year that the SACH invited renowned archaeologists to choose top 10 archaeological discoveries of the year.

 

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-04/uoh-adi040609.php

Archaeological discovery in Jordan valley: Enormous 'foot-shaped' enclosures

Public release date: 6-Apr-2009

Contact: Rachel Feldman

rfeldman@univ.haifa.ac.il

972-482-88722

University of Haifa

 

"The 'foot' structures that we found in the Jordan valley are the first sites that the People of Israel built upon entering Canaan and they testify to the biblical concept of ownership of the land with the foot," said archaeologist Prof. Adam Zertal of the University of Haifa, who headed the excavating team that exposed five compounds in the shape of an enormous "foot", that it were likely to have been used at that time to mark ownership of territory.

 

On the eve of the Passover holiday, researchers from the University of Haifa reveal an exceptional and exciting archaeological discovery that dates back to the time of the People of Israel's settlement in the country: For the first time, enclosed sites identified with the biblical sites termed in Hebrew "gilgal", which were used for assemblies, preparation for battle, and rituals, have been revealed in the Jordan valley. The researchers, headed by Prof. Adam Zertal, exposed five such structures, each in the shape of an enormous "foot", which they suppose functioned during that period to mark ownership on the territory. "I am an archaeologist and only deal with the scientific findings, so I do not go into the additional meanings of the discovery, if there are any," Prof. Zertal said.

 

The Hebrew word "gilgal" (a camp or stone-structure), is mentioned thirty-nine times in the Bible. The stone enclosures were located in the Jordan valley and the hill country west of it. To this day, no archaeological site has been proposed to be identified with the gilgal. Between the years 1990 and 2008, during the Manasseh Hill-Country Survey that covers Samaria and the Jordan Valley, five such enclosures were found and excavated, all designed in the shape of a human foot. All of these sites were established at the outset of the Iron Age I (the 13th-12th centuries BCE). Based on their size and shape, it is clear that they were used for human assembly and not for animals.

 

Two of the sites (in Bedhat esh-Sha'ab and Yafit 3) were excavated in the years 2002-2005, under the directorship of Dr. Ben-Yosef and the guidance of Adam Zertal. The findings, mostly of clay vessels and animal bones, date their foundation to the end of the 13th century BCE, and one of them endured up to the 9th or 8th century BCE without architectonic adjustment.

 

In at least two cases, paved circuits, some two meters wide, were found around the structures. These were probably used to encircle the sites in a ceremony. "Ceremonial encirclement of an area in procession is an important element in the ancient Near East," Prof. Zertal says, adding that the origins of the Hebrew term "hag" (festival) in Semitic languages is from the verb "hug", which means "encircle". Thus, this discovery can also shed new light on the religious processions and the meaning of the Hebrew word for festival, "hag".

 

Prof. Zertal emphasized that the "foot" held much significance as a symbol of ownership of territory, control over an enemy, connection between people and land, and presence of the Deity. Some of these concepts are mentioned in ancient Egyptian literature. The Bible also has a wealth of references to the importance of the "foot" as a symbol: of ownership over Canaan, the bond between the People of Israel and their land, the link between the People and God's promise to inherit the land, defeating the enemy 'underfoot', and the Temple imaged as a foot.

 

"The discovery of these 'foot' structures opens an entirely new system of linguistic and historical perceptions," Prof. Zertal emphasizes. He explains that the meaning of the biblical Hebrew word for "foot" - "regel" – is also a "festival", "holiday", and ascending to see the face of God. As such, the source of the Hebrew term "aliya la-regel", literally translated as "ascending to the foot" (and now known in English as a pilgrimage), is attributed to the "foot" sites in the Jordan valley. "Now, following these discoveries, the meanings of the terms become clear. Identifying the 'foot' enclosures as ancient Israeli ceremonial sites leads us to a series of new possibilities to explain the beginnings of Israel, of the People of Israel's festivals and holidays," he stated.

 

According to Prof. Zertal, the "foot" constructions were used for ceremonial assemblies during Iron Age I (and probably after). When the religious center was moved to Jerusalem and settled there, the command of "aliya la-regel" (pilgrimage) became associated with Jerusalem. The source of the term, however, is in the sites that have now been discovered in the Jordan valley and the Altar on Mt. Ebal. "The biblical text testifies to the antiquity of these compounds in Israel's ceremonials, and the 'foot' structures were built by an organized community that had a central leadership," Prof. Zertal stated. He stressed that there is a direct connection between the biblical ideology, which identifies ownership over the new land with the foot and hence with the shape of the constructions.

 

Amir Gilat, Ph.D.

Communication and Media Relations

University of Haifa

Tel: +972-4-8240092/4

Cell: +972-52-6178200

agilat@univ.haifa.ac.il

 

http://www.ana-mpa.gr/anaweb/user/showplain?maindoc=7472140&maindocimg=7471646&service=102

Philip II's palace revealed

 

The restoration works on the palace of Aigai at the archaeological site of Vergina of northern Greece have provided archaeologists with additional information on the impressive construction, described as in league with the Parthenon atop the Acropolis in central Athens and three times as large.

 

The recently completed three-million-euro initial restoration phase was funded by the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) and according to findings presented at the 22nd scientific meeting on archaeological excavations and work the Macedonia and Thrace provinces, restoration works have helped to document many facts on the building's ground plan.

 

Construction work on the palace of King Philip II of Macedon began in 350 BC and was completed in 336 BC providing important information on ancient Macedonian architecture, because it was completed without interruptions and posterior interventions or alterations.

 

The restoration of the two-storey gallery (stoa) in the building's front section was a "revelation" for archaeologists' studying ancient architecture, as it contradicted earlier beliefs according to which such galleries were a later practice, dating in the 2nd century BC. The galleries' architectural sections are built based on the "golden mean" ratio (1 to 1.6).

 

Archaeologists believe that Pytheos was the palace's architect, who had also designed the mausoleum of Halicarnassus, while the mausoleum's sculptor Leocharis had also worked on the palace of Aigai.

 

http://austriantimes.at/index.php?id=12244

Builders stumble on Dark Ages village in Salzburg

 

The ruins of a village dating back to the fall of the Roman empire have been found at an excavation site in Salzburg.

 

Workers found the remains of the village which is thought to date back to the 5th to 7th centuries at a 6,000-square-metre site for construction of a home for pensioners at Anif-Niederalm in the Flachgau region.

 

Archaeologists say that a layman probably wouldn’t recognise anything special at the site, but claim it may shed considerable light on a period of local history about which relatively little is known.

 

An archaeologist said it was the largest find from that period of history in Salzburg to date. He noted the settlement had consisted of wooden buildings and such items as jewellery, tools like hammers and anvils and vessels made of clay had already been found at the site.

 

Archaeologists are trying to finish their work at the site as rapidly as possible before construction of the home for pensioners resumes.

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/highlands_and_islands/7976510.stm

Clues to ancient invasion in DNA

 

Scientific evidence of an ancient invasion of Scotland from Ireland may have been uncovered by DNA techniques.

 

Researchers from Edinburgh University said studies of Scots living on Islay, Lewis, Harris and Skye found strong links with Irish people.

 

Early historical sources recount how the Gaels came from Ireland about 500 AD and conquered the Picts in Argyll.

 

Scientists said the study was the first demonstration of a significant Irish genetics component in Scots' ancestry.

 

The research, which features work by geneticist Dr Jim Wilson, a specialist in population genetics, is being featured in programmes on Gaelic television channel BBC Alba.

 

The study also suggests intriguing ancestry of Scots living on the Western Isles and in the north and north east of Scotland.

 

Dr Wilson said: "It was extremely exciting to see for the first time the ancient genetic connection between Scotland and Ireland - the signature of a movement of people from Ireland to Scotland, perhaps of the Scots or Gaels themselves."

 

The origin of the Gaels - who by conquering and integrating with Pictish northern tribes created the Kingdom of Alba - has been debated by historians for centuries.

 

The earliest historical source comes from around the 10th Century and relates that the Gaels came from Ireland in about 500 AD, under King Fergus Mor.

 

However, more recently archaeologists have suggested the Gaels had lived in Argyll for centuries before Fergus Mor's invasion.

 

The study also suggested an east-west genetic divide seen in England and attributed to Anglo-Saxons and Danes was evident in the north of Scotland.

 

This was noted in places far from Anglo-Saxon and Danish settlements, indicating that this division was older and may have arisen in the Bronze Age through trading networks across the North Sea.

 

Geneticists also said as many as 40% of the population on the Western Isles could have Viking ancestry, while no Viking ancestry was found in north east Scotland.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/archeology/5105568/Search-on-for-lost-battlefields-of-England.html

Search on for 'lost' battlefields of England

By Jasper Copping

Last Updated: 10:49PM BST 04 Apr 2009

 

They are the bloody fields on which the nation's history was forged.

 

But, over the centuries, many of England's battlefields have faded into obscurity, often lost under concrete.

 

Now, a major new project is under way to find the country's "lost" battlefields, from the Roman invasion to the Jacobite Rebellion in the eighteenth century, in order to preserve what is left of them.

 

The Battlefields Trust and English Heritage have launched the scheme to try to establish the exact locations and details of around 100 battles and to compile an online register of sites, giving their topography and history.

 

The £105,000 project will also see the creation of a "neighbourhood watch" scheme, to report on threats such as planning applications or illegal metal detecting.

 

Local "custodians" are to be appointed, who will also have responsibilities to raise their battle's profile and, where possible, to boost tourism by organising history walks and erecting plaques and signs. In some cases interpretative centres could be built.

 

No definitive list of English battlefields exists but it is thought there could be as many as 450.

 

The Trust has already drawn up a list of 77 using a shorter register kept by English Heritage, Ordnance Survey maps, and other historical sources.

 

The aim is to have custodians at 100 battle sites within two years.

 

Although some battle sites on the list are known and recorded - including celebrated sites like Hastings (1066) and Bosworth (1485) - many are not.

 

Frank Baldwin, chairman of the Trust, said: "This is to preserve our heritage, whether it is in the form of monuments, the landscape itself, or in archaeological evidence that may not yet even have been found.

 

"We have a complicated and bloody history for a small country and the history is all around us. Our knowledge is only really scratching the surface at the moment.

 

"Some of these sites are all but forgotten. These battles are fascinating parts of our history but most people have never heard of them.

 

"They are lost sites and lost stories which we need to recover. In some cases, we don't even know the exact sites of the battle.

 

"Even the sites we think we know about, we can't be sure they are actually in the right place and we don't know who owns them and who is responsible for them.

 

"The project will help us pin down where many of these battles were, what happened and what we need to do to preserve them."

 

The project will take in battles from 43AD, at Medway, in Kent, where British tribes were defeated by a large invading Roman force, to a clash between government forces and Jacobite rebels at Clifton Moor, Cumbria, in 1745.

 

Among battles likely to be included in the custodian scheme is Sheerness, in Kent, where, in 1667, a Dutch force landed and succeeded in capturing the town, supported by a fleet of battleships offshore. The likely site of the fighting is now a supermarket.

 

The project will also focus on the Civil War battle at Tresco, in the Isles of Scilly, in 1651, and St Albans, site of two battles in the Wars of the Roses, the opening skirmish in 1455 and a second fight in 1461.

 

Mr Baldwin said the project was needed to gather information about sites and to ensure they were sufficiently protected.

 

Advances in archaeological techniques mean new research at the sites could uncover fresh evidence about the battles.

 

"We have to preserve these lost sites because we can really extend our knowledge," Mr Baldwin added. "There has been a real revolution in battlefield archaeology in the last few years.

 

"The evidence is still there but we have got to look after the sites, because as further improvements occur, we are going to be able to learn more and more."

 

A report last year by English Heritage found that eight of the best-known battlefields are currently at "high risk".

 

Russell Walters, from the organisation, said: "The new project is about engaging these new local groups to write guides about their sites, encouraging the authorities to put up interpretive signs and raising them up the agenda for local authorities.

 

"The idea is to make them better known and better loved. That will reduce the risks to them."

 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/03/photogalleries/blackbeard-artifacts/

Blackbeard Pirate Relics, Gold Found

March 30, 2009

 

A brass navigational instrument known as a chart divider is among artifacts recently recovered from a shipwreck thought to be the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of the infamous 18th-century pirate Blackbeard, archaeologists said in March 2009.

 

Some of the newfound relics add to evidence that the ship belonged to the pirate. ""We feel pretty comfortable that that's what this is," said Marke Wilde-Ramsing, director of the Queen Anne's Revenge project for the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology.

 

Underwater archaeologists from the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources have been excavating the wreck—which lies 22 feet (7 meters) underwater a few miles off Beaufort, North Carolina—since 1997.

 

Navigational instruments were favorite targets of looting pirates, because the tools could easily be sold or traded, said archaeologist David Moore of the North Carolina Maritime Museum, who is working on the wreck site.