Cut marks indicate hominids already practised sophisticated hunting techniques in East Asia

Posted by TANN Anthropology, Breakingnews, China, Early Humans 8:00 PM


More than ten thousands of bone fragments were recovered from the Lingjing site, Henan Province during 2005 and 2006. By taking statistical analyses of the skeletal elements of the two predominant species in this assemblage, aurochs (Bos primigenius) and horse (Equus caballus), scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, found that hominids at this site have already practiced sophisticated hunting techniques and subsistence strategies and may be quite familiar with the ecological and anatomical characteristics and nutritional values of the large-sized prey animals and can accordingly take different processing and handling strategies at the hunting site, as reported in the journal of Science China Earth Sciences, 2012, 55 (2).


The Lingjing site is located in the west part of Lingjing town, about 15 km to the northwest of the Xuchang City, Henan Province and stands at an elevation point of 117 m. Initially discovered in the middle of the 20th century, this site was re-excavated by researchers from the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology during 2005 to 2006. Within an area of about 300 m2, the Lingjing site yielded nearly 20 fragments of human fossils, 10 thousands of stone artifacts and more than 10000 pieces of animal fossils. Within the Chinese Paleolithic cultural system, it is of the transitional status between the Early and Later Paleolithic Age. Animal fossils in statistics are primarily from the stratum bearing the hominid fossils - the “Lower Cultural Layer”.


Researchers assessed the differential influences and weights of a variety of taphonomic agencies in the formation of the assemblage, and found hominid hunting and the subsequent disarticulation, slaughtering, and their transport of the bone elements of the prey species are the main factors accounting for the formation of the present assemblage. 


After observing the distributional patterns of cut marks on the long bones of animals from the site, researchers found that most cut marks were on the midshaft portions of the bone (185 pieces, 98.45%), whereas only two pieces of distal epiphysis and one piece of proximal epiphysis (1.06% and 0.53%) were cut-marked. And of all the cut-marked long bones, 34% and 41% specimens belong to the upper and middle limbs of herbivores respectively, whereas only 25% belong to the lower limbs. This data suggests that hominids at the Lingjing site first accessed the animal resources prior to the carnivores and cut off the meat on the long bones.


Mortality patterns for two dominant species of the Lingjing site indicate that both animals have the mortality profiles of prime-adults dominated and accompanied by a small proportion of juvenile individuals, implying that hominids there already had relatively mature and systematical living strategies and social organizations in this period.


The distributions of the long bone circumferences and bone lengths could partially reflect the differential modifications of the hominids and carnivores on archaeofauna. The long bone circumferences of most specimens of the Lingjing assemblage is less than 25%, which is identical to that of hominid sites, but much different from that of the carnivore lairs. The lengths of 1300 pieces of long bones measured, are mostly distributed in the area of 3–6 or 6–9 cm, clearly displaying hominids’ influences on the archaeofauna at the Lingjing site.


There is a big difference between the skeletal element profiles of aurochs and horse in the Lingjing assemblage. There are relatively more fragments of horse’s skulls and mandibles, but its long bones are almost absent from the site. Perhaps, just as modern humans did, hominids always preferred to transport all the skeletal parts of the horses back to their base-camps whereas they dropped most of the bones of the aurochs in the killing sites. As compared to the artiodactyls, skeletal elements of the equids have relatively stronger muscle attachment points, and even after a more detailed field processing (such as defleshings, etc.) there will still be a large amount of nutritional components attached to the bone surfaces. If hominids dropped the bones in the field, it will inevitably have resulted in the loss of much nutrients. Furthermore, the marrow cavities within the long bones of equids are significantly smaller and its marrow content is mainly inside the spongy parts of the bones, which cannot be efficiently utilized by ancient humans.


The taphonomic study of the Lingjing site shows that this fauna is not a consequence of a large-scale hunting activity, instead it is just a final synthesis of several episodes of small-scale hunting events. For homonids with limited resources, perhaps the most sensible choice is to move those skeletal elements which still have much nutritional contents adhered, back to the base-camp, where they not only have enough time, but also have technology and capacity to extract nutrition thoroughly from those bones.


“The study of skeletal element profiles is an essential tool to reconstruct hominid behaviors, their social activities or the functions of archaeological sites”, said study lead author Dr. ZHANG Shuangquan of the IVPP, “This study initiatively identifies hominid’s differential treatment of the bones of aurochs and horse in the Paleolithic record of East Asia”.


Source: Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology [May 23, 2012]



Hominids practised sophisticated hunting techniques in East Asia

3 June 2012


More than ten thousand bone fragments were recovered from the Lingjing site, Henan Province, China, during 2005 and 2006. Statistical analyses of the skeletal elements of the two predominant species in this assemblage - aurochs (Bos primigenius) and horse (Equus caballus) - found that hominids at this site already practiced sophisticated hunting techniques and subsistence strategies.

     The site is located in the west part of Lingjing town, about 15 kilometres to the northwest of the Xuchang City. Initially discovered in the middle of the 20th century, the site was re-excavated during 2005 to 2006. Within an area of about 300 square metres, the site yielded nearly 20 fragments of human fossils, 10,000 stone artefacts, and more than 10,000 pieces of animal fossils from the transition between the Early and Later Palaeolithic Age in China.

     Hunting, and the subsequent disarticulation, slaughtering, and transport of the bones, suggests that hominids at Lingjing already had relatively mature and systematical living strategies and social organisations in this period, processing and handling the two species differently, according to their anatomical characteristics and nutritional values.

     "The study of skeletal element profiles is an essential tool to reconstruct hominid behaviors, their social activities or the functions of archaeological sites", said the study's lead author, Dr Zhang Shuangquan, of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, "This study initiatively identifies hominid's differential treatment of the bones of aurochs and horse in the Palaeolithic record of East Asia".


Edited from PhysOrg (23 May 2012)


The first prehistoric Iberian twins have been found

Public release date: 31-May-2012

Contact: SINC



FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology


Researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) have discovered the remains of newborn twin girls in the archaeological site of Olèrdola in Barcelona. They date back to between the middle of the 4th century B.C. to the beginning of the 2nd century B.C. The findings are the first bone remains of twins to be recorded.


"This is the first documented case in the Iberian Peninsula. There has been much talk of possible twins but never has sufficient data been gathered in the field to determine whether findings belong to the same chronological moment in time, nor has data ever been found on the same stratigraphic level to guarantee with such certainty like in this instance," as explained to SINC by Eulalia Subira, researcher at the UAB and coauthor of the study published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.


The remains were found in the archaeological site of Sant Miquel d'Olèrdola in Catalonia and it is expected that they belong to two girls between 38 and 40 weeks of gestation who were buried at the same time in the same grave with their legs entwined.


According to the study, "none of the bone remains show pathological evidence of the cause of death but it could have been a consequence of difficult pregnancy or childbirth. Lack of sufficient hygiene could have lead to infant and maternal mortality in Prehistoric times."


In order to test this finding, scientists used forensic anthropology methods, first determining the age and sex. "The specialist carrying out such assessment was 'blind'. In other words, she was not told at any time that both individuals were found next to each other or that they could be twins."


The age of the twins was estimated by taking the tooth germs, the length of the bones and the state of ossification. In addition, experts used photographs of the site to see whether they had been buried at the same time or not, they spoke with archaeologists, who indicated that the two remains had been found in the same grave, and they studied the planimetries.


Subirà points out that "they also carried out DNA analysis but it was not possible to obtain DNA data on one of the individuals despite repeating sampling taking and analysis."


Children buried near to their mothers


This discovery offers new information to the numerous documented cases of child burials during the Iberian Age, when perinatal children were not buried in cemeteries.


"The Olèrdola archaeological site is itself very interesting. It has always been said that throughout the Iberian Age newly born children were not buried in cemeteries. In this case, they were found in a skin tanning and dying area: in other words, a space dedicated to work," points out Subirà.


For the researcher, finding newly born children buried in a work area could indicate that it was where the mothers used to work. This provides information on society and the attachment relationship that parents had with deceased newly born children.


"Recognition of this type of burial will be of great assistance in the future when it comes to interpreting the socio-cultural impact of the arrival of twins in a pre or proto-historic population, their treatment and their life expectancy. We are currently working in the same archaeological site but on more recent remains," as the researcher concludes.


References: L. Cresco, M. E. Subaru, J. Ruiz. Twins in Prehistory: The Case from Olèrdola (Barcelona, Spain; s. IV II BC) International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 21: 751-756 (2011). DOI: 10.1002/oa.1169.



Class system began 7,000 years ago, archaeologists find


Published on Tuesday 29 May 2012 01:09


THE idea of the “haves” and the “have-nots” may seem like a largely modern concept – but in reality social inequality dates back to the Stone Age, archaeologists have discovered.


By analysing 300 human skeletons from the early Neolithic era, scientists from three British universities have discovered that social inequality began more than 7,000 years ago.


It is the earliest evidence yet found of members of society having unequal access to land and possessions, and suggests that the concept of inherited wealth started with Neolithic man.


And they also found that, for Stone Age women, it was the norm to leave their families and move in with the families of their new husbands – a social structure known as patrilocality.


The archaeologists, from the universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Oxford, discovered that farmers buried with tools had access to better land than those buried without.


Isotope analysis was carried out on the skeletons to work out their place of origin. Those men buried with stone tools for smoothing or carving wood, known as adzes, had access to close, and probably better, land than those buried without.


Professor Alex Bentley, professor of archaeology and anthropology at the University of Bristol, said: “The men buried with adzes appear to have lived on food grown in areas of loess, the fertile and productive soil favoured by early farmers. This indicates they had consistent access to preferred farming areas.”


The strontium isotope analysis also revealed that early Neolithic women were more likely than men to have originated from areas outside those where their bodies were found. The scientists say this is a strong indication of “patrilocality” – a social system where women move to live in the location of their husband when they marry.


The strontium isotope ratios in teeth stay constant from childhood, and can be matched to the geology where they grew up, giving an insight into the location of their birth.


The evidence is backed up by other archaeological, genetic, anthropological and linguistic evidence for patrilocality in Neolithic Europe. The study authors believe the new research has implications for genetic modelling of how human populations expanded – and they believe status differences are crucial for this modelling.


Prof Bentley said: “Our results, along with archaeobotanical studies that indicate the earliest farmers of Neolithic Germany had a system of land tenure, suggest the origins of differential access to land can be traced back to an early part of the Neolithic era, rather than only to later prehistory when inequality and intergenerational wealth transfers are more clearly evidenced in burials and material culture.


“It seems the Neolithic era introduced heritable property – land and livestock – into Europe, and that wealth inequality got underway when this happened. After that there was no looking back: through the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Industrial era, wealth inequality increased but the ‘seeds’ of inequality were sown way back in the Neolithic.”


The research is published in the journal PNAS



Archaeologists in Oban discover Bronze Age was height of cool


Published on Sunday 3 June 2012 00:00


THEY had fridges, state-of-the-art heating systems and possibly even access to a sauna. Archaeologists have discovered that Bronze Age people, at a settlement on the west coast of Scotland dating back up to 4,000 years, had a range of mod cons that would be envied by home owners today.


A dig on the site of a new housing development near Oban has uncovered what are believed to be some of Scotland’s earliest cold storage larders in six Bronze Age roundhouses. A team led by Dr Clare Ellis, from Argyll Archaeology, claim the roundhouses at Dunstaffnage are the first in Scotland to have ring ditches inside the structure. These may have been used as cellars to cool food – a precursor to the refrigerator.


They also have vents leading into the central hearths which would have allowed the occupants to regulate their heating, while outside are the remnants of what could be a very simple form of sauna.


But Ellis said the most significant find was the internal ring ditches. “This is a new design, not recognised or seen before in Scotland. The general consensus until now was that ring ditches occur outside the roof supports of roundhouses, but still within the roundhouse structure, and were erosional features where animals were kept. But these are inside the roof support area and the theory is that they are low cellars that would have had wooden floors over them. We think they are an early form of larder storage system.


“In the Iron Age they had banana-shaped cellars and this would appear to be the precursor to that. They are on the north-east side, the coolest side of the house [away from the sea]. It’s like an early form of refrigeration, where they would keep cheeses, milk, dried meat, salted fish and grain.”


Ellis, 43, said another important find, in terms of Scottish archaeology, was the discovery of air vents coming out of the ring ditches and the hearths.


She added: “These channels coming out are wood-lined vents to let air through and to allow the washing-out of some of the ring ditches occasionally. This is a new design that’s not really been recognised or seen in Scotland before.” The vents in the hearths would allow air to be channelled into the base of the fire.


As well as uncovering the roundhouse sites, the team has uncovered ancient burial pits. Other finds include a hammerstone, dating back 3-4,000 years, which would have been used for mashing up vegetable matter.


In addition, a flint, imported or traded from Ireland, has been found in a burial pit, along with several pieces of decorated pottery thought to be from pots used to lay to rest cremated human remains.


The area around Oban is believed to have been well populated by Bronze age man because of its sheltered climate. Settlements have been found throughout the area and at Dunstaffnage, about four miles to the north, where communities were built on the flat terraces overlooking the Firth of Lorn.


The recently discovered roundhouses were originally enclosed by a ditch, which dates back earlier than the actual homes. A burnt mound has been uncovered at the site. This was an area where water was heated, with some theories suggesting this was an early form of sauna.


The finds all date back to the Bronze Age but radio carbon dating will be used to determine a more accurate date for the settlement, to within 40 years.


Ellis said: “It’s unusual to get so many roundhouses surviving together in this way. They are not particularly huge so they were probably just ordinary people living here. They would have been farming – and communication would have been by sea, rather than by land. It’s a good spot. There is a lovely sheltered bay here and you have got all the islands, like Lismore and Mull nearby.”


Historian Catherine Gillies said the area was turning up “some vastly important sites. You only have to look at the scattering of Bronze Age and Iron Age sites in places like the isle of Lismore to see that we are genuinely only scratching the surface of what there is.”


Affordable housing is to be built at the site by West Highland Housing Association. Lesley McInnes, the association’s chief executive, said: “Whilst we are looking to develop the site we are going to look at having something there in the future that would be able to bring the past to life.”.



Coin from 32 BC oldest in Beau Street Hoard

31 May 2012 Last updated at 19:00

By Jane Onyanga-Omara

BBC News Bristol


A coin from 32 BC similar to the one pictured was the oldest identified so far


The oldest Roman coin in a hoard discovered in Bath dates back more than 200 years earlier than the others already examined.


The Beau Street Hoard of more than 20,000 silver coins was found in a stone-lined box by archaeologists working in Bath in 2007.


Work has begun at the British Museum to clean them.


Stephen Clews, manager of the Roman Baths, said a coin from 32BC was the oldest identified so far.


British Museum conservator Julia Tubman said the coins were initially estimated to number about 30,000, but having excavated the soil block they were contained in, she believes there are no more than 22,000.


Discovered about 150 yards from the Roman Baths, the hoard is described as the fifth largest ever found in the UK.


British Museum staff say it appears to be six smaller collections of coins in bags which is "very unusual".


The coins were found close to the Roman Baths

Mr Clews said the previous oldest coin found in the hoard was from about 190 AD but one has now been dated from the time of Mark Antony.


"The 32 BC coin is quite worn and must have circulated a bit before it was hoarded," he said.


He said the previous most recent coin was from 268 AD to 270 AD but one from 274 AD has now been found.


"The whole hoard must be at least five years younger than we thought," Mr Clews said.


"The make-up of the hoard may shift quite dramatically when a new bag is done.


"It's a developing live story."


Once cleaned, the Treasure Valuation Committee will value the hoard, which Mr Clews said could be by autumn next year.


The Roman Baths Museum hopes to eventually purchase the hoard and put it on public display.



Major Roman Hoard Found in Britain

By Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News

May 21, 2012



What is believed to be the fifth largest hoard of ancient Roman coins ever unearthed in Great Britain was recently announced through Roman Baths, the organization that hopes to become the conservator of the find.


The more than 30,000 silver coins were actually found in 2007. The announcement of their discovery was kept from the press until the coins were recently sent to the British Museum for restoration and examination.


Hoard discoveries are always of interest to collectors, however what makes this find different is who found it. According to Roman Baths and Pump Room Manager Stephen Clews, “The find is also unusual as it was discovered by professional archaeologists as opposed to an amateur using a metal detector.”


Having been found by professionals the coins are able to be studied in the context of their find location, then will be able to be studied as a group and as individual pieces. The problem usually encountered at the time of such a discovery is that the coins are removed by amateurs without first being studied at the site of their find. In Great Britain amateurs finding such hoards will likely turn the finds over to the proper authorities because the finder can anticipate compensation for his efforts, however in other European countries where no compensation can be expected many times the coins are sold clandestinely into the black market. Some of these countries include Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.


Many times coins found in Great Britain are declared to be treasure trove. Once the find receives this designation it may eventually be offered to the collecting public once the study has been completed. In countries where coin finds are more likely to enter the local black market or be smuggled out of that country all academic opportunities are lost. This is a primary reason why there has been so much political intrigue recently in the United States regarding the import of ancient coins from certain countries where coin finders will otherwise receive no compensation for their discovery.


This find, now known as the Beau Street Hoard, was discovered at the site of work on the Gainsborough Hotel in Bath. The coins were found about 450 feet from the ruins of the Roman baths on Beau Street. The hoard dates from about AD 270, about the time of the reign of Victorinus.


Marcus Plavvonius Victorinus was the emperor of the secessionist Gallic Empire or Gallo-Roman Empire from 268 to 270. Victorinus was declared emperor by his troops in Germany. Gaul and Britain recognized him in the West, but Spain did not. He was murdered by Attitianus, who was one of his officers, allegedly for seducing Attitianus’ wife.


Since the coins were recently declared treasure trove Roman Bath has put in a request for their formal valuation. Once this value has been established Roman Baths hopes to purchase the coins with the intension of displaying them. An appeal has been recently launched by Roman Baths to raise about £150,000 to acquire, conserve, and display the find.


According to Clews, “At the time [the coins were struck] there was a lot of unrest in the Roman Empire so there may be some explanation for why the coins were hidden away.”


The Beau Street Hoard is the largest such find ever discovered at the site of what had been a Roman town in Great Britain. The largest ancient Roman coin find in Great Britain is the 52,503-coin Frome Hoard discovered in April 2010. The Frome Hoard was discovered by Dave Crisp, an amateur using a metal detector along the edge of a field near what had been a Roman road in Somerset. The Frome Hoard consists of coins dating from AD 253 to AD 293 and is valued at £320,250. The coins were found buried in a single container. The discovery in this context suggests the coins were buried intentionally, with their original owner hoping to reclaim his hoard at some later date.


The Beau Street Hoard was found fused together. For this reason the coins will need restoration at the British Museum prior to their being studied individually and as a group. It is likely, as silver coins, that they are each of the antoninianus or double denarius denomination, although no such details have yet been released.



In the Line of Fire: Syrian Conflict Damages Priceless Archaeological Sites

As armed conflict wears on in Syria, archaeological sites and artifacts fall to destruction and looting.

Mon, Jun 04, 2012


Perched snuggly atop centuries-old archaeological ruins in a historic ancient village in northern Syria, an armed sniper watches, commanding a strategic view of the landscape below. Already pockmarked by bullet holes and damaged by shelling from nearby artillery, the ancient village, many of its residents having already fled their homes, may see more shelling from nearby artillery positions.

At another location, Syrian security forces are set up at a high vantage point inside a historic citadel overlooking a town that features famous Roman ruins. They are shooting at any targets that move below among the ruins. They are looking for anti-regime rebels. As reported in a recent publication by the Global Heritage Fund (GHF)* about recent events there: “Tanks were also deployed near the Roman ruins at the entrance to Palmyra ... Although communications with Palmyra were severed at the start of the campaign, those residents who have managed to get out spoke of daily machinegun and tank fire.” Inscribed as an important site on the World Heritage List in 1980, Palmyra was one of the most important cities in ancient Syria. Its location ensured its function as an important stop on trade routes going back to the second millennium BC. It developed as a significant Roman, Byzantine and Islamic city, and today boasts some of the best preserved archaeological ruins in the world, reflecting a mix of cultures. When discovered in the 17th century, the ancient structures inspired a new renaissance of classical architecture and have been among the most popular international tourist destinations.

Miles away, a 12th century Arab fort or citadel known as Qal’at al-Mudiq has received repeated shelling.  It rests near the remains of the ancient city of Apamea, a city of the Seleucid kings in 300 B.C. Among the features of this city is the classic ancient colonnade, for which it is famous. But the colonnade, too, is in danger. Restored and re-erected by conservators in the past century, 400 columns (out of an original 1,200) are now within the cross-hairs of gunfire and artillery. Damage has already been reported there. And the Citadel above it has suffered more severe damage. According to the Local Coordination Committee in Mudiq and a recent GHF report, "the southern wall had sustained severe structural damage". Tanks have been seen at the Citadel gates, and fire inside.  Bulldozers had punched a hole through the walls to create an entrance and excavated into the side of the Citadel mound. Trenching, not of the archaeological kind, has occured about the base.


These are but a few examples of what is now happening to archaeological and historical sites throughout embattled Syria, highlighted in a recently released GHF report by Emma Cunliffe, a 2010 Global Heritage Preservation Fellow and current PhD researcher at Durham University. In that report, entitled Damage to the Soul: Syria’s Cultural Heritage in Conflict,  Cunliffe relates information received about a number of sites throughout the country that have recently suffered, in many cases, irreparable damage: 

The reported damage to the sites takes multiple forms: as well as direct shelling damage from the conflict, some sites are simply suffering collateral damage. Other sites are hit by gunfire, or are damaged by the movements of tanks or bulldozers entrenching positions. In addition to the direct damage, the breakdown in security has led to increased looting, of which numerous reports are beginning to circulate. Some looting is opportunistic: the conflict has left sites unguarded, providing easy access, but other reports suggest some thefts are planned. 

Cunliffe states that shelling damage is reported to have occurred at three World Heritage Sites, at least one Tentative World Heritage Site, and several national heritage sites, including the site of Tell Sheikh Hamad (Dur Katlimmu), where an ancient Assyrian temple actually collapsed under shell fire, “transformed into a battlefield between deserters and army”.

Cunliffe's list of sites where destruction in some form has occurred include the following:

·         The Archaeological Villages of Northern Syria, in particular al-Bara, Deir Sunbel, and Aïn Larose.

·         Bosra 

·         Crac des Chevaliers

·         Apamea and the citadel of Qal’at al-Mudiq and surrounding town.

·         Tell Sheikh Hamad (Dur Katlimmu)

·         Mosque of Idlib Sermin

·         Mosque of al-Tekkiyeh Ariha

·         Al-Qusaayr – Great Mosque and Mar Elias monastery

·         Mosque al-Herak in the Dara’a region

·         Oldest mosque in the city of Sermin

·         Our Lady of Seydnaya Monastery; and

·         Tomb of the Sheikh Dahur al-Muhammad in Rityan, in Aleppo province.


But the reports are not going unnoticed by a world community, including the Syrian citizens.

"Cultural heritage experts and organisations are now beginning to take stock of the damage", says Cunliffe. "Concerned citizens within the country, expatriates and heritage organisations are monitoring the damage as best they can and sending as much information as possible to the outside world". 

But damage control and action is an elusive commodity in a region where escalating conflict makes it nearly impossible to protect monuments and artifacts from the ravages of war. For now, watching on the sidelines and taking note seems to be the order of the day.


* Cunliffe, Emma, Damage to the Soul: Syria’s Cultural Heritage in Conflict, 16 May 2012  Global Heritage Fund.



Major archaeological survey uncovers secrets of Plymouth Sound

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Plymouth Herald


LONG-lost treasures and historical artifacts dating back centuries are being discovered in Plymouth Sound in the first ever major archaeological survey of its kind.


A huge US-led marine research and exploration project is currently under way in the city to discovery the secrets of the Sound.


The project is being led by ProMare, a not-for-profit charity which was established in 2001 to promote marine research and exploration throughout the world.


Since 2001 it has developed archaeological research projects and uncovered treasures in countries including Norway, Italy, Portugal, the US and Argentina.


And since June 2010, the ProMare team has been focused on uncovering the hidden gems underwater in Plymouth Sound.


"Since we began we have found evidence of up to 800 shipwrecks in Plymouth Sound alone," said Ayse Atauz the president of ProMare who has re-located to Plymouth.


"We've found ancient wooden ships, ceramics and pottery and cannons to name just a few things.


"We've found hundreds of new artifacts and targets in Plymouth Sound since we started in 2010.


"It has been used since Roman times or even before then. We've even discovered evidence of Viking settlements in the Tamar area.


"Most of these are of national and international significance. We know that Plymouth has been extremely important over the centuries as a port.


"It was one of the major ports for the south of England. The history of anchorage here goes back to when people first began to go to sea.


"This is the first ever major archaeological survey of Plymouth Sound. It's the first attempt at a systematic survey of the Sound."


Ayse said ProMare chose Plymouth because of the potential concentration of shipwrecks in the area.


"It's one of the largest natural harbours in England and it's been used by seafarers for centuries," added Ayse.


"Plymouth is perfect because of its archaeological potential. That's why we chose the city."


Ayse said the research project currently involves dozens of people and ProMare is working alongside Oxford University, The Nautical Archaeology Society, Plymouth University, Exeter University and The Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery as well as numerous Plymouth-based diving and historical interest groups.


Ayse said rather than unearthing what they are discovering, the team is cataloguing the finds for its website, and allowing groups such as The South West Maritime History Society to publish the results.


The Turkey-born chief archaeologist is based at Estover-based MSubs Ltd which is where her husband, Brett Phaneuf, works in business development.


MSubs Ltd has contracts with the Ministry of Defence and the US Navy to design and build submarines.


In between projects the city firm is also building a 24ft diesel electric submarine which will be launched later this year.


The bright red submarine named 'Fruitcake' – which will be able to be remotely controlled or controlled by two men – will be able to dive to depths of 100 metres.


Brett said the plan is to base the submarine at either Sutton Harbour or Queen Anne's Battery marina, and use it to search the Sound's seabed for shipwrecks or historical artifacts.


The 43-year-old, who is also an archaeologist, said MSubs Ltd's new submarine and the current research project are the "perfect match".


"We are in a great position because we build submarines and we all have a great interest in archaeology," he said.


"It goes hand in hand."


Brett also urged people in Plymouth to "embrace" their history and get involved in the project.


"We want to reach out to people in Plymouth and say 'this is your history' and 'this is why it's interesting'," said the 43-year-old American.


"Plymouth Sound and this whole area is such a dynamic place.


"Every single day we're expecting something new to be discovered.


"There are thousands of ships and artifacts that are waiting to be discovered."


If you wish to get involved in ProMare's research in Plymouth, email info@promare.org.


Treasures discovered in and around Plymouth Sound


·         A Prussian gun was found by three Plymouth divers in 1972 on the east side of Drake's Island. It has been provisionally dated as 1750 to 1780.

·         A brass key fob has been found east of Drake's Island which bears the inscription 'ST NICHS ISLAND 8' on one side and 'MASTER GUNNER STORE' on the other.

·         The wreck of the Coronation was discovered off Rame Head, and off Lady Cove in 1969.

·         A copper alloy nail was found on the 'inshore Coronation' site.

·         The Coronation site is littered with debris dumped from barges on their way to the dumping ground so this nail may not have come from the wreck of the Coronation. It has been provisionally dated as 1691.

·         A 355mm tall earthenware jug was recovered from the Tamar near Cremyll.

·         A red salt glazed stoneware Bellarmine or Beardman jar – which were used from medieval times until about 1700 – is believed to have been found in Plymouth Sound.

·         A 566mm 9kg Greco-Roman lead anchor stock was found on rocks off Fort Bovisand.

·         A 360mm 15kg single-hole granite anchor was found west of the Erme Estuary.

·         A 335mm 10kg three-hole stone anchor was found off Rame Head.