Chemical analysis reveals first cheese making in Northern Europe in the 6th millennium BC
Public release date: 12-Dec-2012
Contact: Hannah Johnson
University of Bristol
The first unequivocal evidence that humans in prehistoric Northern Europe made cheese more than 7,000 years ago is described in research by an international team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, UK, published today in Nature.
By analysing fatty acids extracted from unglazed pottery pierced with small holes excavated from archaeological sites in Poland, the researchers showed that dairy products were processed in these ceramic vessels. Furthermore, the typology of the sieves, close in shape to modern cheese-strainers, provides compelling evidence that these specialised vessels have been used for cheese-making.
Before this study, milk residues had been detected in early sites in Northwestern Anatolia (8,000 years ago) and in Libya (nearly 7,000 years ago). Nevertheless, it had been impossible to detect if the milk was processed to cheese products.
Researchers from the Organic Geochemistry Unit at the University of Bristol, together with colleagues at Princeton (USA), Łódź, Gdánsk and Poznań (Poland) studied unglazed pottery from the region of Kuyavia (Poland) dating from around 7,000 years ago. These had been typologically interpreted as cheese-strainers by archaeologists for more than 30 years due to the peculiar presence of small sized holes on the surface of the sherds. In fact, these archaeological sherds looked like modern cheese-strainers.
Using lipid biomarker and stable isotope analysis, researchers examined preserved fatty acids trapped in the fabric of the pottery and showed that the sieves had indeed been used for processing dairy products. Milk residues were also detected in non-perforated bowls, which may have been used with the sieves.
Contrastingly, the analyses of non-perforated pottery (cooking pots or bottles) demonstrated that they were not used for processing milk. The presence of ruminant carcass fats in cooking pots showed that they were likely used to cook meat, while the presence of beeswax in bottles suggests the sealing of the pottery to store water.
Thus, the analyses of such a range of ceramics from the same area showed for the first time that different types of pottery were used in a specific manner, with sieves (and maybe bowls) being used for cheese-making, cooking pots for cooking meat and waterproofed bottles for storing water.
The processing of milk and particularly the production of cheese were critical in early agricultural societies as it allowed the preservation of milk in a non-perishable and transportable form and, of primary importance, it made milk a more digestible commodity for early prehistoric farmers.
Mélanie Salque, a PhD student from the University of Bristol and one of the authors of the paper said: "Before this study, it was not clear that cattle were used for their milk in Northern Europe around 7,000 years ago. However, the presence of the sieves in the ceramic assemblage of the sites was thought to be a proof that milk and even cheese was produced at these sites. Of course, these sieves could have been used for straining all sorts of things, such as curds from whey, meat from stock or honeycombs from honey. We decided to test the cheese-making hypothesis by analysing the lipids trapped into the ceramic fabric of the sieves.
"The presence of milk residues in sieves (which look like modern cheese-strainers) constitutes the earliest direct evidence for cheese-making. So far, early evidence for cheese-making were mostly iconographic, that is to say murals showing milk processing, which dates to several millennia later than the cheese strainers."
Peter Bogucki one of the co-authors of this new study and proponent of the cheese strainer hypothesis nearly 30 years ago notes that: "As well as showing that humans were making cheese 7,000 years ago, these results provide evidence of the consumption of low-lactose content milk products in Prehistory. Making cheese allowed them to reduce the lactose content of milk, and we know that at that time, most of the humans were not tolerant to lactose. Making cheese is a particularly efficient way to exploit the nutritional benefits of milk, without becoming ill because of the lactose."
The leader of the Bristol team, Professor Richard Evershed added: "It is truly remarkable the depth of insights into ancient human diet and food processing technologies these ancient fats preserved in archaeological ceramics are now providing us with!"
The research was funded by the 7th EU framework Marie Curie Initial Training Networks (FP7-ITN-215362-2) and the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
For more information on using small molecules to answer archaeological questions please visit the Organic Geochemistry Unit http://www.bristol.ac.uk/chemistry/research/ogu/.
If you would like to learn more about similar research in which ancient biomolecules and isotopes has been used to shed new light on the past please visit 'The Palaeodetectives' at: http://www.bris.ac.uk/publicengagementstories/stories/2009/73.html
'Earliest evidence for cheese making in the sixth millennium BC in northern Europe' by Mélanie Salque, Peter I. Bogucki, Joanna Pyzel, Iwona Sobkowiak-Tabaka, Ryszard Grygiel, Marzena Szmyt and Richard P. Evershed in Nature.
Issued by the Public Relations Office, Communications Division, University of Bristol, tel: (0117) 928 8896, email: email@example.com
Oops! Brain-Removal Tool Left in Mummy's Skull
By Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor | LiveScience.com – Fri, Dec 14, 2012
A brain-removal tool used by ancient Egyptian embalmers has been discovered lodged in the skull of a female mummy that dates back around 2,400 years.
Removal of the brain was an Egyptian mummification procedure that became popular around 3,500 years ago and remained in use in later periods.
Identifying the ancient tools embalmers used for brain removal is difficult, and researchers note this is only the second time that such a tool has been reported within a mummy's skull.
Located between the left parietal bone and the back of the skull, which had been filled with resin, the object was discovered in 2008 through a series of CT scans. Researchers then inserted an endoscope (a thin tube often used for non-invasive medical procedures) into the mummy to get a closer look and ultimately detach it from resin to which it had gotten stuck.
"We cut it with a clamp through the endoscope and then removed it from the skull," said lead researcher Dr. Mislav Cavka, of the University Hospital Dubrava in Zagreb Croatia, in an interview with LiveScience.
They found themselves peering at an object more than 3 inches (8 centimeters) long that would have been used for liquefying and removing the brain. "It almost definitely would have been used in excerebration [brain removal] of the mummy," Cavka said.
The instrument would have been inserted through a hole punched into the ethmoid bone near the nose. "Some parts [of the brain] would be wrapped around this stick and pulled out, and the other parts would be liquefied," Cavka said.
The Egyptian mummy could then be put on its abdomen and the liquid drained through the nose hole. "It is an error that [the] embalmers left this stick in the skull," said Cavka, adding the tool may have broken apart during the procedure.
This embalming accident, unfortunate for the ancient mummy, has provided researchers with a very rare artifact. Cavka's team point out in a paper they published recently in the journal RSNA RadioGraphics the only other brain-removal stick found inside a mummy's skull dates back 2,200 years.
"Probably in museums in Egypt there are many other evidences, but they were not found inside the skull," making it tricky to identify such artifacts as brain-removal tools, said Cavka.
The mummy is currently in the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb Croatia and is that of a woman who died around the age of 40. Brought to Croatia in the 19th century without a coffin, it's not known where she was found in Egypt. Radiocarbon dating and CT scans of the mummy determined its date to be around 2,400 years. Her cause of death is unknown.
The stick is quite brittle and the team could not do as thorough of an analysis as they'd hoped. Looking at it under a microscope, botanical experts determined the tool is made from plants in the group Monocotyledon, which includes forms of palm and bamboo.
The most curious find came when the researchers compared their discovery with an ancient account of brain removal made by the Greek writer Herodotus in the fifth century B.C. A visitor to Egypt, he had this to say about how Egyptian brain removal worked (as translated by A. D. Godley, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1920, through Perseus Digital Library):
"Having agreed on a price, the bearers go away, and the workmen, left alone in their place, embalm the body. If they do this in the most perfect way, they first draw out part of the brain through the nostrils with an iron hook, and inject certain drugs into the rest."
The recent discovery suggests an organic stick, not an "iron hook," was used in at least some of these procedures, possibly for economic reasons. Researchers note that the tool found in the skull of the other mummy, dating from 2,200 years ago, was also made of an organic material.
"It is known that mummification was widely practiced throughout ancient Egyptian civilization, but it was a time-consuming and costly practice. Thus, not everyone could afford to perform the same mummification procedure," write the researchers in their journal article.
GALLIC ELITE PROSPERED FROM ROMAN OCCUPATION
Article created on Sunday, December 9, 2012
In 2010 French archaeologists carried out excavations on a 3.5 hectares site in Bassing, Moselle. Over a period of one thousand years – 200 BCE to 800 CE – this site had been occupied by a Gallic aristocratic establishment, a Gallo-Roman villa and several medieval buildings.
Numerous weapons and the discovery of 1,165 Gallic coins testify to this place belonging to the Bassing elite, both during and after the Gallic wars (58 to 50 BCE).
Between 150 and 120 BCE, a large rural settlement was built at Bassing. A 3 metre wide ditch with sloping sides and palisade surrounded the habitation area (1 hectare in size). Inside this stood wooden farm buildings and a farmhouse. This group lasted until 14 CE.
The size of the farm and its ditches and the richness of the excavated materials has reveal the privileged status of the occupants. The jewellery featured bracelets of cobalt blue glass along with a piece of Baltic amber and123 fibulae, some of which had been produced on-site. In fact, the site produced evidence for foundry activities, spinning, weaving and shoemaking. It is also apparent from the discovery of many amphorae and Italian drink strainers that wine imported from the Mediterranean was drunk in large quantities.
Located on Franco territory between Department (Metz) and Saverne oppida, this Bassing aristocrat was not only a successful farmer, but also a warrior. Both Gallic and Italic items were uncovered, including parts of chariots, a battle axe, a Roman Legionary dagger (pugio), arrowheads, uniform adornments and nails for sandals and Roman cavalry horse shoes.
The conquest of Gaul appeared not to have adversely affected the occupants. During this troubled period the settlement appears to be stable and prosperous with a dense and constant population. In 27 BCE, stone replaced wood in the rural settlement still located within the Gallic enclosure.
1,165 Gallic coins
This site contained an exceptional monetary deposit of 1,165 Gallic coins; dispersed since the middle ages by farming practices. The archaeologists gradually collected the coins during the 2010 works, finally amassing a total of 1,111 silver, 3 gold and 51 bronze, buried between 40 and 20 BCE. All these coins were issued during the 1st century BCE, the majority just after the Gallic wars.
One of the peculiarities of this treasure is that it mainly consists of silver coins. Indeed, in this period, bronze coins and gossip (copper, tin and lead alloy), occupy a central place in daily exchange. What is very rare is the three gold coins which are local. The two kilograms of silver include different types of coins issued in several regions of Gaul:
74% are from East-Central Gaul and belong to the Sequani of Besançon, the Lingones de Langres, the Aedui de Bibracte and Autun
14% are from the people of the Val de Loire, 7% from Remes of Reims (Belgiun Gaul)
3% of the Arverni in Clermont-Ferrand
A few rare copies belong to the Rhône, people located near Lyon
These currencies are the Gallic imitation of quinaires, a Roman silver coin, with a diameter of less than 1.5 cm. Northeastern Gaul, nicknamed “the area of the Gallic last” by numismatists, distinguished itself after the conquest by the imitation of Roman coins. The last Gallic is equivalent to a demi-denier (or quinaire) of the Roman Republic. This standard facilitated trade between Rome and Gaul.
One third of the Bassing coins contains imitations with striking defects. Some depictions of Graeco-Roman, helmeted Roman or Gallic warriors are rough in style. These imitations are usually carried out in emergency contexts. Between the years 40-30 BCE, the lack of Roman Denarii in necessary quantities, meant that such copies were minted for military contingents including the Gallic auxiliary troops recruited into the Roman army.
It seems from the archaeological and artefactual evidence that the nobility of Bassing enjoyed great wealth both before, during and after the conquest of Gaul. During the conquest, Caesar relied on a section of the Gallic elite and this nobility largely adhered to the new Roman power. Local aristocrats and their warrior contingents, later contributed to the Roman conquests. The Bassing hoard is equivalent at the beginning of the Empire, to a year and a half salary for a Roman legionnaire. It is possible that this large sum of money could represent a Mediomatrique (a people of Belgic Gaul, including part of French Moselle region) chieftan’s funds to pay his own troops.
This research was carried out in advance of the construction of the East European high-speed rail line by network Ferré de France.
Send for the bard! Carnyx discovery leaves archaeologists little the wiser
Ancient Gallic horns immortalised in Asterix books are found in deliberately sabotaged condition to prevent them being played
Arthur de Pas
Guardian Weekly, Tuesday 11 December 2012 14.01 GMT
In the Asterix books, Cacofonix the bard is forbidden to sing because his voice causes wild boar, villagers, Normans and Romans alike to flee. But Cacofonix does play the carnyx, a long, slender trumpet-like instrument decorated with an animal's head at the top end, and used by the Celts in the last three centuries BC.
The Greek historian Polybius (206-126BC) was so impressed by the clamour of the Gallic army and the sound of the carnyx, he observed that, "there were countless trumpeters and horn blowers and since the whole army was shouting its war cries at the same time there was such a confused sound that the noise seemed to come not only from the trumpeters and the soldiers but also from the countryside which was joining in the echo".
When the remains of seven carnyx were unearthed recently, Christophe Maniquet, an archaeologist at Inrap, the national institute for preventive archaeological research (Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives), was curious to find out exactly what sound it produced when it drove the Romans mad, or was used to call upon the god Toutatis.
In 2004, more than 500 iron and bronze items placed as offerings to the gods were discovered a small 30cm-deep pit in Tintignac, in the Corrèze department. "These items were deliberately damaged so that they could not be used again by mere mortals," said Maniquet.
Some 40 fragments were identified as being parts of a carnyx, making it possible to restore a tall, 1.8-metre-long instrument with a stylised boar head at the top – a first in archaeology. "Some carnyx pieces were discovered in England, Scotland, Germany and Italy, mainly in the 19th century, but the context was unclear and we have never found so many instruments in one go," said Maniquet.The carnyx is a wind instrument, part of a sub-family of brass instruments defined by the presence of a mouthpiece. The sub-sub family would be natural brass instruments without valves. With its conical shape the carnyx resembles a soft brass instrument like the horn, with a more muffled sound than a cylindrical trumpet-like brass instrument.
Unfortunately since it was impossible to play the instruments the pious Gauls had so carefully dismantled, Maniquet asked an instrument maker to reproduce a brass carnyx of the same size. The archaeologist worked with experts from the acoustics laboratory at the Maine-CNRS University in Le Mans, headed by Joël Gilbert, a brass instruments specialist, who carried out an in-depth analysis of the specimen.
A study presented by a group of researchers and instrument makers in Le Mans last month, revealed that the resonance frequency determined the series of playable notes. In a well-designed instrument this resembles a harmonic series. If the musician had the base note he could easily produce others (mainly octaves, fifths and thirds), by modulating air flow and lip tension.
The carnyx has a fairly low base note because of its length but researchers found that the resonance frequencies obtained with the copy of the carnyx were far from harmonic. According to Gilbert, when he and his colleagues looked into this they suddenly had an idea. "The carnyx is not a primitive instrument and it was known for being very powerful. We therefore worked on the hypothesis that our copy was incomplete," he said.
Maniquet believes that is quite plausible, especially since no one is really sure how the mouthpiece connects to the tube. The acoustics experts have pursued their research by doingsimulations with a mathematical model, this time adding an additional part to a virtual carnyx. They tested two lengths, 10cm and 20cm, which produced a lower sound and altered the resonance harmony.
The simulations showed that the optimum length was achieved by adding a 10cm part, which could match an item in the catalogue of finds from the Tintignac site. Maniquet is now planning to build a second prototype instrument to include the additional 10cm. "That should make this carnyx more powerful and easier to play," said Gilbert, confident that his calculations are correct.
Cacofonix can remain gagged; it seems that relief is on its way.
First Harbor of Ancient Rome Rediscovered
Dec. 10, 2012
Archaeologists have unearthed the great ancient monuments of Ostia, but the location of the harbour which supplied Rome with wheat remained to be discovered. Thanks to sedimentary cores, this " lost " harbour has eventually been located northwest of the city of Ostia, on the left bank of the mouth of the Tiber. Stratigraphy has revealed that at its foundation, between the 4th and 2nd century BC, the basin was deeper than 6.5 m, the depth of a seaport.
This research was carried out by a French-Italian team of the Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée (CNRS / Université Lumière Lyon 2), the Ecole Française de Rome and Speciale per i Beni Soprintendenza Archeologici di Roma -- Sede di Ostia* and will be published in the Chroniques des Mélanges de l'Ecole Française de Rome in December 2012.
According to ancient texts, Ostia was founded by Ancus Marcius, the 4th king of Rome. This new settlement is supposed to have aimed three goals: to give Rome an outlet to the sea, to ensure its supply of wheat and salt and finally, to prevent an enemy fleet to ascend the Tiber. Archeological excavations showed that the original urban core (castrum) dates back to the turn of the 4th and 3th centuries BC. Major ancient buildings and main roads were progressively revealed, but the location of the Ostia river mouth harbour remained unknown to this day. For some, it was considered as lost forever. Since the Renaissance, many attempts to locate the harbour of Ostia were undertaken without success. It was not until the 19th and 20th centuries that Italian archaeologists defined an area north-west of the city, near the Imperial Palace. At the turn of the century, archaeologists confirmed the probable location of the basin, in that zone, by using geomagnetic instruments. However there was still no consensus on the exact location of the port and the debate was still alive.
A French-Italian team led by Jean-Philippe Goiran, CNRS researcher, has tried to definitely verify the hypothetical location of the harbour, by using a new geological corer. This technology solves the problem of groundwater which makes this area rather difficult for archeologists to excavate beyond 2 m deep.
Two sediment cores have been extracted, showing a complete 12 m depth stratigraphy and the evolution of the harbour zone in 3 steps:
1 -- The deepest stratum, before the foundation of Ostia, indicates that the sea was present in that area in the early 1st millennium BC.
2 -- A middle layer, rich in grey silty-clay sediments, shows a typical harbour facies. According to calculations, the basin had a depth of 6.5 m at the beginning of its operation (dated between the 4th and 2d centuries BC). Previously considered as a river harbour that can only accommodate low draft boats, Ostia actually enjoyed a deep basin capable of receiving deep draft marine ships.
3 -- Finally, the most recent stratum, composed of massive alluvium accumulations, shows the abandonment of the basin during the Roman imperial period. With radiocarbon dates, it is possible to deduce that a succession of major Tiber floods episodes of the Tiber finally came to seal the harbour of Ostia between the 2nd century BC and the 1st quarter of the 1st century AD (and this despite possible phases of dredging). At that time, the depth of the basin was less than 1 m and made any navigation impossible. It was then abandoned in favor of a new harbour complex built 3 km north of the Tiber mouth, called Portus. This alluvium layer fits with the geographer Strabo's text (58 BC -- 21/25 AD) who indicated the sealing of the harbour basin by sediments of the Tiber at that time (Geographica, 231-232).
The discovery of the river mouth harbour of Ostia, north of the city and west of the Imperial Palace, will help better understand the links between Ostia, its harbour and the ex-nihilo settling of Portus, initiated in 42 AD and completed in 64 AD under the reign of Nero. This gigantic 200 ha wide complex became the harbour of Rome and the largest ever built by the Romans in the Mediterranean.
Between the abandonment of the port of Ostia and the construction of Portus, researchers estimate that nearly 25 years have passed. Rome was the capital of the ancient Roman world and the first city to reach one million inhabitants. So how was it supplied with wheat during that period? The question arises now researchers.
*This work was also carried out in collaboration with the Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l'Homme (CNRS / Aix-Marseille Université), the Universita Roma 3, the Institut Universitaire de France and received the support of the ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche).
RESTORATION OF ROMAN TUNNELS GIVES A SLAVE’S EYE VIEW OF CARACALLA BATHS
Article created on Wednesday, December 12, 2012
This article titled “Restoration of Roman tunnels gives a slave’s eye view of Caracalla baths” was written by Tom Kington in Rome, for guardian.co.uk on Tuesday 11th December 2012 18.55 UTC
In the middle of a patch of grass amid the ruins of the Caracalla baths in Rome, there is a staircase that takes visitors deep into the ground to a world resembling the lair of a James Bond villain.
“This is our glimpse at maniacal Roman perfection, at incredible hydraulic technology,” said archaeologist Marina Piranomonte, as she descended and waved at a network of high and wide tunnels, each measuring six metres (20ft) high and wide, snaking off into the darkness.
The baths, on a sprawling site slightly off the beaten track in a city crowded by monumental attractions, hold their own against the nearby Circus Maximus, its shattered walls standing 37 metres high, recalling its second century heyday when it pulled in 5,000 bathers a day.
But for Piranomonte, it is the three kilometre, triple-tiered grid of tunnels that lies under the site – the first tract of which will open for visits this month – which really shows off how seriously the Romans took their sauna time.
An army of hundreds of slaves kept firmly out of sight of bathers scurried along the tunnels feeding 50 ovens with tonnes of wood a day to heat water surging through a network of underground channels that arrived via aqueduct from a source 100km away. Below that, massive sewers, which are now being explored by speleologists, flowed towards the Tiber.
“It’s the dimension and the organisation that amazes – there is no spa as big as this anywhere in the world today,” said Piranomonte.
Upstairs, Romans would kick off a visit with a session in one of two gyms, then enjoy a sauna and a spell in a hot tub in the 36 metre (120ft) wide, domed caldarium – slightly smaller than Rome’s Pantheon. The tepidarium then beckoned, before a cool down in the frigidarium, a space so elegant its design and dimensions were copied at Union station in Chicago.
“The side room at the station where the shoot-out on the stairs is set in The Untouchables actually contained a large cold bath here,” said Piranomonte.
To complete the experience, a pool 50 metres long and a garden complete with lending library flanked the baths. “The emperor Caracalla was cruel, but he built beautiful things,” said Piranomonte, who is charged with the site’s upkeep.
A thousand years after it was built, the ghostly ruins of the massive buildings were overgrown and abandoned. “Because it was on the outskirts of Rome, no one built on top of it and the tunnels were simply forgotten, probably sealed by undergrowth,” she added.
Following their rediscovery at the end of the 19th century, Mussolini strengthened the tunnels when he decided to stage operas amid the ruins overhead, but Piranomonte was less than impressed with his handiwork.
“Look at the rain water trickling through; that’s Mussolini’s bricks leaking while ours are fine,” she said, pointing to the perfect Roman brick arches disappearing into the gloom.
The reopening of a short stretch of the tunnels on 21 December caps a clean-up of the baths. The opera, which used the remains of the caldarium for a stage and kept a stage-set workshop in one of the saunas, has been shunted back into the gardens.
A €450,000 (£360,000) restoration programme also resulted in the reopening this month of an underground temple at the baths, linked to the tunnel network and dedicated to Mithras, the deity whose popularity soared just before Christianity took hold in the Roman empire. Entering the temple, which boasts black-and-white floor mosaic and is the biggest of its kind in the Roman empire, Piranomonte points to a frieze of Mithras holding a globe but missing his head. “Probably taken off by the Christians,” she said.
A chamber flanked by space for spreading out on during banquets centres on a large pit where a drugged bull was placed on a metal grill and butchered. Below the grill is a small niche where an initiate to the cult would crawl to be drenched with litres of bull’s blood. “It was a cruel cult, for men only, so you understand why Christianity got the upper hand,” said Piranomonte.
Emerging from the temple, the archaeologist turns left and pauses before what she describes as her favourite part of the baths – an authentic Roman roundabout. A large arch leads to the entrance of the tunnel network, where carts carrying tonnes of logs would queue to enter to feed the ovens. Now fully excavated and restored, the tunnel starts with a roundabout that circles a guard’s kiosk to stop traffic jam.
“A Roman spa with a roundabout,” said Piranamonte, “That I find really fascinating.”
Roman road unearthed beneath York Minster
Archaeologists have unearthed a section of Roman road beneath York Minster.
The road was found during construction work for new visitor displays in the medieval minster's undercroft.
The York Archaeological Trust said the road was probably a backstreet that ran behind the Roman basilica, the site the minster sits on.
The work in the undercroft is part of the £10.5m York Minster Revealed project due to be completed in May 2015.
It is the first time for 40 years that archaeologists have been permitted to work at the cathedral.
Ian Milsted, lead archaeologist at the trust, said: "It's a huge privilege to be revealing pieces of the past in such an iconic building, all of it contributing to our picture of life in ancient York."
He added the street, probably part of the Via Quintana, would have been used for several centuries and appears to have been frequently patched and repaired.
Roman York (Eboracum) was founded in AD71 and remained a major military and economic hub in Roman Britain until the early 5th Century.
The Dean of York, the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, said: "While it was not as grandly paved as the main streets of Roman York, you can imagine that this backstreet, situated as it was between the Basilica and the Praetorium, was exactly the kind of place where the real business of the empire was done.
"It probably even witnessed the very first Christians on their way to worship."
Archaeological analysis of all that York Archaeological Trust has uncovered during its work, including human remains found in March, will be published in February 2013.
Carpark skeleton will be confirmed as Richard III
Human remains found in the resting place of Richard III have already been identified as those of the king but information is being held back ahead of a major press conference next month, sources close to the project claim.
By Nick Collins, Science Correspondent7:45AM GMT 15 Dec 2012
A source with knowledge of the excavation told the Telegraph archaeologists will name the skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park in September as the Plantagenet king even if long-awaited DNA results on the bones prove inconclusive.
Additional evidence not revealed at a major press conference after the remains were found demonstrates beyond all reasonable doubt that the body is the King's, even without genetic proof, the source said.
Leicester University experts announced earlier this year that there was convincing evidence suggesting the remains were those of Richard III, but have always insisted DNA analysis is needed before a conclusion can be reached.
Clues to the body's identity include a wound to the skull and a twist in the spine which match historical accounts of the King and his death in battle, but these alone are not enough to prove it is the King, archaeologists said at the time.
A spokesman for Leicester University denied any information had been withheld from the public at the press event in September, but said various new evidence gathered since then will be announced to the public next month.
This will include the results of radiocarbon dating tests, which will indicate the date the individual died within an 80-year range, and analysis of dental calculus which could reveal details about their and lifestyle, as well as the first images of the body.
The spokesman said: "There will be things that have been discovered during the course of the investigation that will be announced at the press conference, but everything we were willing to reveal and that we were sure of, we revealed [in September]."
A Channel Four documentary, which initially led to the university's involvement, will also be screened in January and is expected to reveal new information about the project.
The University insists it has been open about the analysis of the skeleton from the start, but a number of people close to the study have become uncomfortable that new evidence is not being published.
A source told the Telegraph: "Unfortunately, an awful lot of stuff is being kept from the public.
"I am told that circumstantial evidence of the find which is not going to be broadcast until this programme (on Channel Four) is brought out in January will confirm the body is Richard III's, even if the DNA does not."
The University said all available information will be announced at the press event and insisted it had no knowledge of any information which is being withheld for the documentary.
The body was identified just weeks into a project which began when experts identified a council car park in Leicester as the most likely historical location of the church of Grey Friars, where the King was said to have been buried after his defeat in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
The archaeologists initially described the dig as a "long shot" but have since uncovered the foundations of a church along with two bodies, one of which is thought to be that of the King.
UNTOUCHED 18TH CENTURY WOODWORKING SHOP FOUND
Analysis by Larry O'Hanlon
Thu Dec 13, 2012 01:41 PM ET
Imagine peeking into an old garden shed and discovering the oldest woodworking shop in United States. It's a kind of traditional woodworker's dream. This is basically what happened to a University of Delaware professor recently.
"The first time I saw it, I about fell over,” said Ritchie Garrison, professor of history professor and director of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware. "It was a bit like walking into the past."
The discovery was entirely accidental. Garrison and Michael Burrey were in the process of revamping Garrison's 19th century house in Plymouth, Mass. Burrey was also working on a project at a local preschool in Duxbury, Mass., where he discovered what turns out to be a 18th century joiner's shop. Garrison invited several experts in material culture got to see the shop for themselves.
"I said 'holy cow!'" recalled Garrison, of his first look. If the date painted on the building is accurate the shop could trace back to at least 1789. Eighteenth century shops are extremely rare, unlike the more common 19th-century shops, said Garrison.
The shop provided all sorts of clues to its uses and even the local ecology 200 years ago. And although the school used the shed, many of the features of the shop are essentially untouched. The original workbenches, for instance, are still intact and in good condition. Those benches show different kinds of uses and even the woods they were made of contain clues about the local forests in the 1700s. There was also a conspicuously removed fireplace.
"The fireplace told me that they were doing things that required warmth, such as using glue," said Garrison after explaining that 18th-century glue needed to reach a certain temperature temperature to work.
As for the wood itself, dendrochronology shows that it's from the second or third generation of trees replanted after original New England settlement by Europeans.
According to local records, the workshop belonged to a master carpenter named Luther Sampson, according to Garrison.
Experts are clamoring for the building be designated a national historic landmark, said Garrison. All interested parties are working on a plan that will tackle the preservation of the shop and work for the town and the preschool.