ARCHEOLOGY


ARCHEOLOGY
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July 9, 09: The oldest viable seeds in the world, thot to date from the Pleistocene era, are not what we thought. New dating techniques have revealed that the seeds, which have been grown into live Arctic lupine plants, are not 10,000 years old as believed, but now known to date from the 1950s. They are modern seeds which contaminated ancient rodent burrows.
Jun 24, 09: People have been making music for more than 35,000 years, judging by prehistoric bird-bone flutes excavated in southwest Germany. Researchers said they had found a five-hole flute made from the radius bone of a griffon vulture and two fragments of ivory flutes in a cave in the Swabian Jura mountains. The flutes are at least 5,000 years older than any previous confirmed archaeological examples of musical instruments.
Jun 23, 09: People were storing grain long before they learned to domesticate crops, a new study indicates. A structure used as a food granary discovered in recent excavations in Jordan dates to about 11,300 years ago.
Apr 15, 09: Archaeologists are to search three sites in Egypt that they say may contain the tomb of doomed lovers Anthony and Cleopatra.
Apr 10, 09: Archaeologists have discovered the earliest evidence of human beings ever found in Scotland. The flints were unearthed in a plowed field. They are similar to tools known to have been used in the Netherlands and northern Germany 14,000 years ago, or 12,000 BC. They were probably used by hunters to kill reindeer, mammoth and giant elk and to cut up prey and prepare their skins.
Mar 31, 09: Researchers in Germany have used a modern medical procedure to uncover a secret within one of ancient Egypt's most treasured artworks —-the bust of Nefertiti has two faces. A team led by Dr. Alexander Huppertz, director of the Imaging Science Institute at Berlin's Charite hospital and medical school, discovered a detailed stone carving that differs from the external stucco face when they performed a computed tomography, or CT, scan on the bust.
. . The findings are the first to show that the stone core of the statue is a highly detailed sculpture of the queen.
Mar 27, 09: An Italian archaeologist says she has discovered what is believed to be the oldest site of religious worship in Cyprus, a temple which is about 4,000 years old.
Mar 25, 09: The world may be able to get a whiff of that ancient royal scent when researchers complete their investigation into the perfume worn by Hatshepsut, the powerful pharaoh-queen who ruled over ancient Egypt for 20 years beginning around 1479 B.C.
. . Analyzing a metal jar belonging to the famous queen, the team from the Bonn U Egyptian Museum recently found residue thought to be leftovers from Hatshepsut's own perfume. Their next step will be attempting to "reconstruct" the scent, which was likely made from pricey incense imported from present-day Somalia.
. . Using powerful X-rays, the remains of a dried-out fluid were discovered at the bottom of the flacon. Pharmacologists will now analyze the residue and break it into its constituents, in the hopes of putting the scent back together, 3,500 years after Hatshepsut last wore it.
Mar 23, 09: A Greek fisherman must have been expecting a monster of a catch when he brought up his nets in the Aegean Sea last week. Instead, Greek authorities say his haul was a section of a 2,200-year-old bronze statue of a horseman. Dating to the late 2nd century B.C., the statue represented a male rider wearing ornate breast armor over a short tunic and armed with a sheathed sword.
Mar 17, 09: Biblical scholars have long argued that the Dead Sea Scrolls were the work of an ascetic and celibate Jewish community known as the Essenes, which flourished in the 1st century A.D. in the scorching desert canyons near the Dead Sea. Now, a prominent Israeli scholar, Rachel Elior, disputes that the Essenes ever existed at all - a claim that has shaken the bedrock of biblical scholarship.
. . Elior, who teaches Jewish mysticism at Jerusalem's Hebrew U, claims that the Essenes were a fabrication by the 1st century A.D. Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus and that his faulty reporting was passed on as fact throughout the centuries. As Elior explains, the Essenes make no mention of themselves in the 900 scrolls found by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947 in the caves of Qumran, near the Dead Sea. "Sixty years of research have been wasted trying to find the Essenes in the scrolls. But they didn't exist. This is legend on a legend."
. . Early descriptions of the Essenes by Greek and Roman historians has them numbering in the thousands, living communally ("The first kibbutz", jokes Elior) and forsaking sex --which goes against the Judaic exhortation to "go forth and multiply." Says Elior: "It doesn't make sense that you have thousands of people living against the Jewish law and there's no mention of them in any of the Jewish texts and sources of that period."
. . So who were the real authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls? Elior theorizes that the Essenes were really the renegade sons of Zadok, a priestly caste banished from the Temple of Jerusalem by intriguing Greek rulers in 2nd century B.C. When they left, they took the source of their wisdom --their scrolls-- with them.
. . James Charlesworth, director of the Dead Sea Scrolls project at Princeton Theological Seminary and an expert on Josephus, says it is not unusual that the word Essenes does not appear in the scrolls. "It's a foreign label. When they refer to themselves, it's as 'men of holiness' or 'sons of light.' " Charlesworth contends that at least eight scholars in antiquity refer to the Essenes.
Mar 17, 09: Egypt's chief archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, said the chambers of the 330-foot-pyramid outside the village of Dahshur, 75km south of Cairo, will be opened for the first time to tourists within the next "month or two." "This is going to be an adventure."
. . Hawass said archaeologists believe the 4th dynasty founder Pharaoh Sneferu's burial chamber lies undiscovered inside the pyramid.
. . The inner chambers of the nearby Red pyramid, also built by Sneferu, are already accessible to visitors. Hawass said several other nearby pyramids, including one with an underground labyrinth from the Middle Kingdom, would also be opened in the next year. "It is amazing because of a maze of corridors underneath this pyramid."
. . The western fast food restaurants and hundreds of hawkers selling kitschy souvenirs near the Giza pyramids would not be allowed at Dahshur, which is currently surrounded by agricultural fields on one side and open desert on the other.
Mar 16, 09: Cleopatra, the last Egyptian Pharaoh, renowned for her beauty, was part African, says a BBC team which believes it has found her sister's tomb.
. . Queen Cleopatra was a descendant of Ptolemy, the Macedonian general who ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great. But remains of the queen's sister Princess Arsinoe, found in Ephesus, Turkey, indicate that her mother had an "African" skeleton. Experts have described the results as "a real sensation."
Mar 6, 09: No one can pinpoint exactly when humans first started keeping dogs as pets, but estimates range from roughly 13,000 to 30,000 years ago. Skeletal differences: Dogs had smaller teeth, for example, and a reduced "Sagittal crest" —the bone ridge that runs down the forehead and connects to the jaw. The earliest dog bones, discovered in Belgium in 2008, are from 31,700 years ago.
. . Sheep and goats were first domesticated roughly 11,000 years ago, while cats became pets around 7000 B.C. with the advent of agriculture. (As people collected and stored grain, it would attract mice, which would then attract cats.) Around the same time, people started keeping cattle for consumption purposes. Several thousand years later, around 4000 B.C., as trade routes developed, humans began using oxen, donkeys, and camels to transport goods. Horses were eventually domesticated for both riding and carrying goods, but scholars differ on which purpose came first.
Mar 5, 09: Horses were first domesticated on the plains of northern Kazakhstan some 5,500 years ago --1,000 years earlier than thought-- by people who rode them and drank their milk, researchers said. Taming horses changed human history, influencing everything from transport to agriculture to warfare.
. . But experts have struggled to pinpoint when and where it first happened. Now, archaeologists think they have the answer, after finding the world's oldest horse farm among the Kazakh people of the ancient Botai culture. Remains of bones, teeth and shards of pottery, used to store mare's milk, all indicate horses were selectively bred and exploited for domestic use east of the Ural mountains around 2,000 years before they are known to have been used in Europe.
Feb 26, 09: Belgian archaeologists have rediscovered an ancient Egyptian tomb that had been lost for decades under sand. In 1880, Swedish Egyptologist Karl Piehl uncovered the tomb of Amenhotep, the deputy seal-bearer of the Pharaoh King Tuthmosis III, in the city of Luxor, about 600 km to the south of the capital Cairo.
Feb 26, 09: Japanese archaeologists working in Egypt have found four wooden sarcophaguses and associated grave goods which could date back up to 3,300 years, the Egyptian government said.
Feb 24, 09: Maintenance workers at Egypt's Giza Pyramids have found an ancient quartzite statue of a seated man buried close to the surface of the desert.
Feb 12, 09: As it turns out, banging special kinds of rocks together can produce an additional feature of technology, one that would come to distinguish us as a species about 2 million years ago. It all started when we banged together iron pyrite with ocean sponges --actually, to state it more properly, we started to bang together iron pyrite with a metamorphosed mixture of chalk with the internal skeletons of ocean sponges. This metamorphic chalk and sponge skeletal material is commonly known as "flint." And, as we know, when struck with iron, it makes a spark of fire. And we are the only species that uses fire.
Feb 11, 09: Holocaust! Archeologists have found a mass grave in Mexico City with four dozen human skeletons laid out in neat lines that could reveal clues about the 16th century Spanish conquest that killed millions.
. . The skeletons of two children, a teenager, and an old person wearing a ring that could signify higher status, were found along with 45 young adults in the tomb. The scientists expect to find at least 50 more bodies as excavations continue at the massive Tlatelolco complex, home to 67 ancient structures, including massive pyramids.
. . It is likely the indigenous people buried in the grave died in battle against the invading Spanish or fell victim to diseases that wiped out large swaths of the native population in 1545 and 1576, Guilliem said.
. . Many Aztec fighters died resisting the Spanish invasion and millions also perished during a four-year epidemic of hemorrhagic fever that began in 1545, killing 80% of indigenous Mexicans.
. . The four-by-10-meter burial site differs from other conquest-era graves because of the reverential way the bodies were buried, following Christian customs of the time, unlike thousands of contemporary graves at other Aztec cities where bodies were thrown in at random.
Feb 9, 09: Egyptian archaeologists say they have discovered 30 mummies inside a 4,600-year-old tomb, in the latest round of excavations at the vast necropolis of Saqqara, 20 km south of Cairo.
Feb 5, 09: A team of Egyptian and European archaeologists have discovered two statues of King Amenhotep III, who ruled Egypt roughly 3,400 years ago, the Supreme Council for Antiquities said.
Jan 29, 09: Ancient Greek homes doubled as pubs & brothels. Domestic walls might have also hidden other dubious commercial activities. Indeed, drinking, eating and sex seemed to have gone hand in hand in the homes of ancient Greece.
. . Presenting her research on prostitution in classical Athens, Allison Glazebrook of Brock U, agreed that interpreting the physical evidence of Greek remains is a challenge. In some cases, she argued, buildings believed to be simple homes were instead "porneia", dedicated to prurient activities.
. . "There is no evidence of any purpose-built brothels for ancient Greece. We should not expect brothel spaces to look that different from houses in the material record because girls lived in brothels in which they worked", Glazebrook said.
. . Hints to distinguishing a porneia, or brothel, from an ordinary house include not only the number of drinking cups, but also the presence of multiple entrances, the existence of oikemata or little rooms --working in a brothel is usually coined as "sitting in a little room" in ancient Greek texts-- and an abundance of cisterns and wells, since bathing after sex was customary in Greece.
. . The new interpretation of Greek houses casts a new light on the economy in classical Greece. The Greeks simply did it all at home.
Jan. 28, 2009 --Oetzi, the 5,000-year old man whose frozen body was discovered in a glacier in the Alps in 1991, may have been attacked not once but twice in his final few days, German researchers said.
. . It was known that Oetzi, the oldest ice mummy ever found, was shot in the back with an arrow but scientists at Munich's LMU have now concluded that he may have survived this, if only for a few minutes or hours at most. And in addition to his being whacked with a blunt object just before Oetzi's 46-year existence in the Neolithic Age ended, he also sustained a nasty gash in his hand several days earlier, the LMU said.
. . "We are now able to make the first assertions as to the age and chronology of the injuries", said Professor Andreas Nerlich, who led the study. "It is now clear that Oetzi endured at least two events resulting in injury in his last days, which may imply two separate attacks."
Jan 8, 08: Egyptian archaeologists have found the remains of a mummy thought to be that of Queen Seshestet, the mother of a pharaoh who ruled Egypt in the 24th century BC, the government said.
Dec 17, 08: Researchers digging at the Cerro Patapo archeological site in northern Peru have discovered the ruins of an entire city, which may provide the "missing link" between two ancient cultures, investigators said.
. . The find, located 14 miles from the Pacific coast, likely dates to the Wari culture, which existed in what is now Peru between about 600 AD and 1100 AD. If initial assumptions prove correct, the discovery would connect the ancient Wari civilization to the Moche culture, which flourished from about 100 AD to 600 AD.
. . The sprawling site, which stretches over 3 miles, also shows evidence of human sacrifice, with special spots designated for the purpose and a heap of bones at the bottom of a nearby cliff.
. . Peru is a country rich in archeological treasures. It has hundreds of sites that date back thousands of years and span dozens of cultures, including the Incan empire that was in power when Spanish explorers arrived in the early 1500s.
Dec 5, 08: From the 15th century on, Spain's Jews were mostly expelled or forced to convert, but today some 20% of Spanish men tested have Sephardic Jewish ancestry, and 11% can be traced to North Africa, a study has found.
. . Hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from Spain in various repressive moves, started by the Catholic Monarchs. The study suggests many Jews converted rather than face repression. Some Sephardic communities to this day speak Ladino, which is similar to medieval Spanish and can be understood by present-day Spaniards.
Dec 4, 08: An analysis of rings on a stalagmite from a cave near Jerusalem reveals a drier climate in the region at a time in history when the Roman and Byzantine empires were in decline, scientists reported.
. . U of Wisconsin geologists analyzed the chemical composition of individual rings as small as one-hundredth of a millimeter across that formed the stalagmite growing up from the floor of the Soreq Cave near Jerusalem between 200 B.C. and 1100 A.D.
. . Geologists concluded the climate was drier in the eastern Mediterranean between 100 A.D. and 700 A.D., with steep drops in rainfall around 100 A.D. and 400 A.D. --a period of waning Roman and Byzantine power in the region.
. . The team is now applying the same geochemical technique to examine older samples from the cave from the time of the last glacial retreat roughly 19,000 years ago, to help understand how weather patterns respond to fast-warming temperatures.
Dec 2, 08: Dental plaque scraped from the teeth of people who lived in Peru as much as 9,200 years ago revealed traces of cultivated crops, including squash and beans. These ancient people also ate peanuts and a local fruit known as pacay.
Nov 24, 08: Marine archaeologists have found the remains of a slave ship wrecked off the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1841, an accident that set free the ancestors of many current residents of those islands.
Nov 21, 08: Archaeologists have unearthed an elaborately decorated 1,800-year-old chariot sheathed in bronze at an ancient Thracian tomb in southeastern Bulgaria.
Nov 20, 08: Researchers believe they have identified the remains of Nicolaus Copernicus [Kopernigk] by comparing DNA from a skeleton they have found with that of hair retrieved from one of the 16th-century astronomer's books.
. . Facial reconstruction of the skull his team found buried in a cathedral in Poland closely resembles existing portraits of Copernicus, whose theories identified the Sun, not the Earth, as the center of the universe.
Nov 18, 08: Israeli archaeologists excavating what they believe is the tomb of biblical King Herod said they have unearthed lavish Roman-style wall paintings of a kind previously unseen in the Middle East and signs of a regal two-story mausoleum, bolstering their conviction that the Jewish monarch was buried here. "There has been no other discovery of this type of painting in the Middle East, as far as we know, until now", she said.
. . Gidon Foerster, a professor of archaeology at the Hebrew U not connected with this dig, agreed that the art is "unique" here. "The artists were most likely brought in from Italy to work on this", he said. "This kind of art has never been found in Israel before. King Herod is said to have been buried there and this proves it as much as it can possibly be proved." Herod's most famous construction project was expanding the Jewish Second Temple in Jerusalem.
. . After Herod's death in the first century B.C., Herodium became a stronghold for Jewish rebels fighting Roman occupation, and the site suffered significant battle damage before it was conquered and finally destroyed by Roman forces in A.D. 71, a year after they destroyed the Jerusalem temple.
. . The insurgents reviled the memory of Herod as a Roman puppet, and Netzer and his team believe that the violence with which the first stone casket was smashed suggests they knew it held his bones.
. . No human remains or inscriptions proving conclusively that the tomb was the king's have been found, but excavation work continues.
Nov 18, 08: The oldest genetically identifiable nuclear family met a violent death, according to analysis of remains from 4,600-year-old burials in Germany. Researchers say the broken bones of these stone age people show they were killed in a struggle.
. . Comparisons of DNA from one grave confirm it contained a mother, father, and their two children. The son and daughter were buried in the arms of their parents. In total, the four graves contain 13 bodies, eight children aged six months to nine years and five adults aged 25 to 60.
. . In two graves, DNA was well preserved, which allowed comparisons between the occupants. One of these contained the nuclear family, while the other grave contained three related children and an unrelated woman. The researchers suggest she may have been an aunt or stepmother.
. . At least five of the individuals show the effects of a violent attack, one even had the tip of a stone weapon embedded in a vertebra. They say that as most of the people in the graves were women and children it is probable that most of the adults were elsewhere at the time of the attack, perhaps out fighting or working in their fields.
Nov 12, 08: Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a pyramid buried in the desert and thought to belong to the mother of a pharaoh who ruled more than 4,000 years ago.
Nov 10, 08: The Israel Antiquities Authority says archeologists have discovered a 2,000-year-old gold earring beneath a parking lot next to the walls of Jerusalem's old city.
Nov 6, 08: A stalagmite rising from the floor of a cave in China is providing clues to the end of several dynasties in Chinese history. Slowly built from the minerals in dripping water over 1,810 years, chemicals in the stone tell a tale of strong and weak cycles of the monsoon, the life-giving rains that water crops to feed millions of people.
. . Dry periods coincided with the demise of the Tang, Yuan and Ming dynasties, researchers report. A change in the cycles around 1960 which they said may indicate that greenhouse gases released by human activities have become the dominant influence on the monsoon.
. . Stalagmites are largely made up of calcium carbonate, which precipitates from groundwater dripping from the ceiling of a cave.
Oct 31, 08: For thousands of years, the Acropolis has withstood earthquakes, weathered storms and endured temperature extremes, from scorching summers to winter snow. Now scientists are drawing on the latest technology to install a system that will record just how much nature is affecting the 2,500-year-old site. They hope their findings will help identify areas that could be vulnerable, allowing them to target restoration and maintenance.
Oct 30, 08: "Otzi", Italy's prehistoric iceman, probably does not have any modern day descendants, according to a study. A team of Italian and British scientists who sequenced his mitochondrial DNA --which is passed down through the mother's line-- found that Otzi belonged to a genetic lineage that is either extremely rare or has died out. Otzi's 5,300-year-old corpse was found frozen in the Tyrolean Alps in 1991.
Oct 30, 08: The seafaring Phoenicians left the world more than a legacy of alphabets and purple dye --they left their DNA scattered throughout Mediterranean men, as well, according to a report.
Oct 27, 08: The fictional King Solomon's Mines held a treasure of gold and diamonds, but archaeologists say the real mines may have supplied the ancient king with copper.
Oct 23, 08: A 6,000 year-old set of household gear, including crockery and two wood-fired ovens, has been found in the buried ruins of a prehistoric farmhouse in northern Greece, officials said.
Sept 25, 08: Egypt's antiquities council says that archaeologists have unearthed a 3,000-year-old red granite head believed to portray the 19th Dynasty pharaoh Ramses II. The 30-inch high head belonged to a colossal statue of Ramses II that once stood in the area. Its nose is broken and the beard that was once attached to the king's chin is missing. Archeologists are still digging on the location for the rest of the statue.
Sept 22, 08: Archaeologists have pinpointed the construction of Stonehenge to 2300BC --a key step to discovering how and why the mysterious edifice was built. The radiocarbon date is said to be the most accurate yet and means the ring's original bluestones were put up 300 years later than previously thought. Mineral analysis indicates that the original circle of bluestones was transported to the plain from a site 240km away.
. . Professors Darvill and Wainwright believe that Stonehenge was a center of healing --a "Neolithic Lourdes", to which the sick and injured travelled from far and wide, to be healed by the powers of the bluestones.
. . They note that "an abnormal number" of the corpses found in tombs nearby Stonehenge display signs of serious physical injury and disease. And analysis of teeth recovered from graves show that "around half" of the corpses were from people who were "not native to the Stonehenge area".
Sept 18, 08: Danish archaeologists say they have found a well-preserved Viking shield that is more than 1,000 years old.
Sept 9, 08: A giant Buddha was found near the famous Bamiyan Buddhas that were destroyed by the Taleban in Afghanistan.
Sept 3, 08: Israeli archaeologists unveiled a 2,100-year-old Jerusalem perimeter wall --along with beer bottles left behind by 19th century researchers who first discovered the stone defences.
Aug 25, 08: Parts of a giant, exquisitely-carved marble sculpture depicting the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius have been found at an archaeological site in Turkey. Fragments of the statue were unearthed at the ancient city of Sagalassos.
. . So far, the statue's head, right arm and lower legs have been discovered, high in the mountains of southern Turkey. The colossal head, which is just under 1m in height, is said to bear his characteristic bulging eyes and beard. He reigned from 161AD until his death in 180AD. In addition to his deeds as emperor, Marcus Aurelius is remembered for his writings, and is considered one of the foremost Stoic philosophers.
. . Last year, the team led by Prof Marc Waelkens, from the Catholic U of Leuven in Belgium, uncovered fragments of a colossal marble statue of the emperor Hadrian in the rubble. This month, the researchers found a huge head and arm belonging to Faustina the Elder --wife of the emperor Antoninus Pius.
. . Archaeologists now think the room hosted a gallery of sculptures depicting the "Antonine dynasty" --rulers of Spanish origin who presided over the Roman Empire during the second century AD. The experts suggest Antonine emperors occupied niches on the western side of the room, while their spouses stood opposite, on the east side.
. . The imperial succession from Marcus Aurelius to his son Commodus. While Marcus Aurelius is considered, along with Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, as one of Rome's Five Good Emperors, Commodus' reign was marked by internal strife, cruelty and conspiracies. Commodus took part, naked, in gladiatorial battles --which he always won. Opponents, whose lives were apparently spared, would eventually submit to the emperor. He was murdered in 192AD: not by a general called Maximus, but by an athlete named Narcissus, sent by conspirators to strangle the megalomaniac emperor in his bath.
Aug 15, 08: Mexican archeologists have discovered a maze of stone temples in underground caves, some submerged in water and containing human bones, which ancient Mayans believed was a portal where dead souls entered.
Aug 7, 08: Archaeologists have unearthed a 1,900-year-old well-preserved chariot at an ancient Thracian tomb in southeastern Bulgaria, the head of the excavation said.
July 5, 08: Crumbling Pompeii site is in "state of emergency". The Italian government declared a state of emergency at the Pompeii archaeological site on Friday to try to rescue one of the world's most important cultural treasures from decades of neglect.
July 3, 08: Archeologists are opening a cave sealed for more than 30 years deep beneath a Mexican pyramid to look for clues about the mysterious collapse of one of ancient civilization's largest cities.
Jun 24, 08: Using clues from star and sun positions mentioned by the ancient Greek poet Homer, scholars think they have determined the date when King Odysseus returned from the Trojan War and slaughtered a group of suitors who had been pressing his wife to marry one of them. Interpreting clues in Homer's "Odyssey" as references to the positions of stars and a total eclipse of the sun allowed them to determine when a particular set of conditions would have occurred.
. . It was on April 16, 1178 B.C. that the great warrior struck with arrows, swords and spears, killing those who sought to replace him, a pair of researchers say.
Jun 12, 08: A tree from a 2,000-year-old seed is doing well. Just over three years old and about four-feet tall, Methuselah is growing well. "It's lovely", Dr. Sarah Sallon said of the date palm, whose parents may have provided food for the besieged Jews at Masada some 2,000 years ago.
Jun 11, 08: Humans started wearing shoes about 40,000 years ago, much earlier than previously thought, new anthropological research suggests. Anthropologists are tapping into that knowledge base, looking for the physical changes caused by wearing shoes to figure out when footwear first became fashionable.
. . Wearing shoes changes the way humans walk and how their bodies distribute weight. If you wear shoes regularly, as most modern humans do, those changes end up reflected in your bones and ligaments.
. . Researchers have found several differences between feet that regularly wear shoes and those that don't. For instance, wearing tight shoes can lead to bunions, which are painful enlargements of the bone or tissue in the big toe, she said. People who don't wear shoes have wider feet and bigger gaps between their big toe and the other four. And women who spend a lot of time in high heels wind up with smaller calf muscles.
. . Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at Washington U in St. Louis, was the first person to apply this understanding of how fashion alters physical bodies to anthropology. He found a point in human history where the size of toe bones began to shrink. Combining that data with knowledge of how shoes change the way people walk, Trinkaus reasoned that smaller toe bones meant people had started wearing shoes.
. . "Bone, at least to a certain extent, responds during a person's lifetime to the mechanical stresses placed on it", said Tim Weaver, a U of California, Davis, anthropologist. "If you work out at the gym, not only will your muscles get bigger, your bones will become thicker."
. . But, around 40,000 years ago, that began to change. Trinkaus noticed that skeletons from this time period still had strong, thick leg bones, but their toes had suddenly gotten smaller. "They had wimpy toes", he said. "I tried to figure out what would take away stresses on the toes, but not the legs, and the answer was shoes."
. . While Weaver agrees with Trinkaus' theory, Cachel doesn't buy it. She pointed out that, not long after the time period Trinkaus looked at, humans apparently stopped being so active and all their limb bones, not just the toes, started to shrink. "If the footbones are smaller, this probably reflects less walking and physical activity, rather than the invention of supportive footware", Cachel said.
. . Both Weaver and Cachel think that it would make sense for shoes to hit it big around the time Trinkaus thinks they did. Around 40,000 and 30,000 years ago, human culture went through a growth spurt.
Jun 9, 08: Archaeologists have discovered a nearly 2,000-year-old, intact necropolis on the outskirts of Rome that gives a rare insight into the lives of poor laborers in the Roman era.
Jun 6, 08: Egyptian archaeologists unveiled a 4,000-year-old "missing pyramid" that is believed to have been discovered by an archaeologist almost 200 years ago and never seen again. Zahi Hawass, Egypt's antiquities chief, said the pyramid appears to have been built by King Menkauhor, an obscure pharaoh who ruled for only eight years. Jun 6, 08: In 1842, German archaeologist Karl Richard Lepsius mentioned it among his finds at Saqqara, referring to it as number 29 and calling it the "Headless Pyramid" because only its base remains. But the desert sands covered the discovery, and no archaeologist since has been able to find Menkauhor's resting place.
. . Hawass said the style of the pyramid indicates it was from the Fifth Dynasty, a period that began in 2,465 B.C. and ended in 2,325 B.C. That would put it about two centuries after the completion of the Great Pyramid of Giza, believed to have been finished in 2,500 B.C.
May 29, 08: Stonehenge may have been a burial ground for an ancient royal family, British researchers said. New radiocarbon dates of human remains excavated from the ancient stone monument in southwest England suggest it was used as a cemetery from its inception just after 3000 BC until well after the larger circle of stones went up around 2500 BC. Built between 3000 and 1600 BC as a temple, burial ground, astronomical calendar or all three, the stone circle is sometimes called "Britain's pyramids."
. . Last year, the same researchers found evidence of a large settlement of houses nearby. The team estimates that between 150 to 240 men, women and children were buried at Stonehenge over a 600-year period, making it likely that the relatively low figure over such a long points to a single elite family. A clue is the few burials in Stonehenge's earliest phase, a number that grows larger in following centuries as offspring would have multiplied.
. . Dating of cremated remains shows burials took place as early as 3000 B.C., when the first ditches around the monument were being built. There were at least 300 and perhaps as many as 1,000 homes in the village, he said. The small homes were occupied in midwinter and midsummer.
. . The village also included a circle of wooden pillars, which they have named the Southern Circle. It is oriented toward the midwinter sunrise, the opposite of Stonehenge, which is oriented to the midsummer sunrise.
. . They estimate that up to 240 people were buried within Stonehenge, all as cremation deposits.
May 29, 08: Along Utah's Nine Mile Canyon lies what some call the longest art gallery in the world —-thousands of prehistoric rock carvings and paintings of bighorn sheep and other wildlife, hunters wielding spears.
May 14, 08: Divers trained in archaeology discovered a marble bust of an aging Caesar in the Rhone River that France's Culture Ministry said could be the oldest known. [I s'pose they mean Julius...] The life-sized bust showing the Roman ruler with wrinkles and hollows in his face is tentatively dated to 46 B.C. Divers uncovered the Caesar bust and a collection of other finds in the Rhone near the town of Arles —-founded by Caesar.
. . Among other items in the treasure trove of ancient objects is a 5.9 foot marble statue of Neptune, dated to the first decade of the third century. Two smaller statues, both in bronze and measuring 27.5 inches each also were found, one of them, a satyr with his hands tied behind his back, "doubtless" originated in Hellenic Greece, the ministry said.
May 8, 08: Bits of chewed-up or burned seaweed discarded more than 14,000 years ago confirm that people were in Chile at least that long ago and shed light on what their culture was like, researchers reported.
Apr 23, 08: Painting with oils was taking place in what is now Afghanistan centuries before such techniques were known to Europeans, researchers say. French-based scientists have been investigating cave paintings at the ancient complex of Bamiyan.
. . Until 2001, two vast 6th-Century Buddhas stood at Bamiyan. Then they were blown up by Afghanistan's then-Taleban government as un-Islamic. Behind the Buddhas was a network of caves in which monks lived and prayed.
. . Researchers painstakingly analysed the ancient paintings in those caves. They say that in 12 caves, 7th-Century wall-paintings were created using oil paint, derived possibly from walnuts or the poppies which grew in the area.
Apr 7, 08: A large cache of stone tools estimated to be up to 35,000 years old has been discovered on the site of one of Australia's largest iron ore mines, sparking calls for the site's preservation.
Apr 3, 08: DNA from ancient human feces found in a cave in Oregon provides biological verification that people were in North America 14,000 years ago, researchers said. Using written symbols such as hearts, arrows and hands, the ancient Aztecs maintained an arithmetic system that was far more complex than previously understood, scientists said.
. . The Aztecs, an empire in central Mexico toppled by Spanish invaders in 1519, has long been recognized for its sophistication in architecture, engineering, astronomy and other fields. And the new research confirms arithmetic can be added to the list. An examination of these hieroglyphic records showed that the Aztecs used their own calculation system to figure out, for example, the area of a parcel of land.
. . The two manuscripts --one found in a library in France and the other in Mexico-- were written on European paper by Aztecs a couple of decades after the conquest, using the Aztec system.
Apr 9, 08: Archaeologists carrying out an excavation at Stonehenge say they have broken through to a layer that may finally explain why the site was built. The team has reached sockets that once held bluestones --smaller stones, most now missing or uprooted, which formed the site's original structure. The researchers believe that the bluestones could reveal that Stonehenge was once a place of healing. [this seems to be pure conjecture!]
. . The dig is the first to take place at Stonehenge for more than 40 years. The team now needs to extract organic material from these holes to date when the stones first arrived.
. . The archaeologists have also unearthed a whole host of other finds as they have peeled back the layers of the 2.5m-by-3.5m trench. These include a beaker pottery fragment, Roman ceramics and ancient stone hammers.
Mar 31, 08: The earliest known gold jewelry made in the Americas has been discovered in southern Peru. The gold necklace, made nearly 4,000 years ago, was found in a burial site near Lake Titicaca, researchers report.
Mar 27, 08: Scientists have detected the faint genetic traces left by medieval crusaders in the Middle East. The team says they found a particular DNA signature which recently appeared in Lebanon and is probably linked to the crusades. The finding comes from the Genographic Project, a major effort to track human migrations through DNA.
. . The researchers found that some Christian men in Lebanon carry a DNA signature hailing from Western Europe. The scientists also found that Lebanese Muslim men were more likely than Christians to carry a particular genetic signature. But this one is linked to expansions from the Arabian Peninsula which brought Islam to the area in the 7th and 8th Centuries.
. . But they emphasise that the differences between the two communities are minor, and that Christians and Muslim Arabs in Lebanon overwhelmingly share a common heritage.
Mar 13, 08: Researchers have found the ruins of an Inca temple built for religious ceremonies in the Andes mountains, at a park in the archeologically rich region of southern Peru that includes Machu Picchu. The temple measures 2,700 sq feet, includes 11 rooms of various sizes and an area in the shape of a Chacana, an Incan religious symbol.
. . Scientists were lucky to have found the temple, part of which was destroyed nearly 100 years ago by dynamite blasts at a nearby rock quarry.
Mar 11, 08: Greek archaeologists said they have unearthed rare evidence of what they believe was brain surgery performed nearly 1,800 years ago on a young woman —-who died during or shortly after the operation. "We interpret the find as a case of complicated surgery which only a trained and specialized doctor could have attempted", Graikos said.
Mar 11, 08: Greek workers discovered around 1,000 graves, some filled with ancient treasures, while excavating for a subway system in the historic city of Thessaloniki. Some of the graves, which dated from the first century B.C. to the 5th century A.D., contained jewelry, coins and various pieces of art. Graves ranged from traces of wooden coffins left in simple holes in the ground, to marble enclosures in five-room family mausoleums.
. . Thessaloniki was founded around 315 B.C. and flourished during the Roman and Byzantine eras. Today it is the Mediterranean country's second largest city.
Mar 10, 08: "The sea was driven back, and its waters flowed away to such an extent that the deep sea bed was laid bare and many kinds of sea creatures could be seen", wrote Roman historian Ammianus Marcellus, awed at a tsunami that struck the then-thriving port of Alexandria in 365 AD.
. . "Huge masses of water flowed back when least expected, and now overwhelmed and killed many thousands of people... Some great ships were hurled by the fury of the waves onto the rooftops, and others were thrown up to 3 km from the shore."
. . Ancient documents show the great waves of July 21, 365 AD claimed lives from Greece, Sicily and Alexandria in Egypt to modern-day Dubrovnik in the Adriatic. Swamped by sea water, rich Nile delta farmland was abandoned and hilltop towns became ghost-like, inhabited only by hermits.
. . The tsunami was generated by a massive quake that occurred under the western tip of the Greek island of Crete, experts believe.
. . Subduction zones usually have measurable creep, of say a few centimeters a year. But as the rock becomes brittle and deformed at greater depths, these zones can also deliver titanic quakes, displacing so much land that, when the slippage occurs on the ocean floor, a killer wave is generated.
. . The 365 AD quake occurred at a point on the 500-kilometer-long Hellenic subduction zone, which snakes along the Mediterranean floor in a semi-circle from southwestern Turkey to western Greece. They conclude the slippage occurred along 100 km on a previously unidentified fault that lies close to the surface, just above the subduction zone.
. . A computer simulation of the quake, based especially on fieldwork in Crete where the push forced up land by as much as 10 meters. They estimate the quake to have been 8.3-8.5 magnitude and that its land displacement --of 20 meters on average-- puts it in the same category as the 9.3 temblor that occurred off Sumatra in 2004.
. . After the 365 AD quake, the fault is likely to remain quiet for around 5,000 years. But if the tectonic structure along the rest of the Hellenic subduction zone is similar, a tsunami-generating quake could strike the eastern Mediterranean in roughly 800 years, the scientists estimate.
. . The last tsunami to hit the eastern Mediterranean occurred on August 8, 1303. According to research published in 2006, a quake off Crete of about 7.8 magnitude hit Alexandria 40 minutes later with a wave nine meters high.
Mar 7, 08: A sixth-century copper factory, medieval kitchens still stocked with pots and pans, and remains of Renaissance palaces are among the finds unveiled by archaeologists digging up Rome in preparation for a new subway line.
Mar 7, 08: Scientists hope to unlock secrets contained in the DNA of what are believed to be the only polar bear remains to be found in Britain. The skull, of which only a part survives, was found at Inchnadamph in the Scottish Highlands in 1927.
. . Genetics experts at Trinity College in Dublin have now approached the National Museum of Scotland about running tests on its DNA. The results could reveal what the bear ate and how it came to be in the area. Dr Ceiridwen Edwards, of Trinity's Smurfit Institute of Genetics, said it may be found that the animal had a terrestrial diet, rather than a marine one, and preyed on reindeer and not seals. She said the results could also shed light on what it was doing in Assynt 18,000 years ago.
Feb 27, 08: There was more than the obvious reason to feel blue for people offered in human sacrifice rituals by the ancient Maya to their rain god --they were painted blue before being heaved into a watery sinkhole.
Feb 26, 08: A runway fashion show in Viking times would have spotlighted women cloaked in imported colored-silk gowns adorned with metallic breast coverings and long trains.
. . This surprising claim is the result of a new analysis of remnants from a woman's wardrobe discovered in a grave dating back to the 10th century in Russia, painting a picture of Viking panache before Christianity was established that runs counter to previous ideas about buttoned-up, prudish looking Norsewomen. "Now we can say the pre-Christian dress code was very rich, but "When Christianity came, the dress was more like that of nuns.
. . The fashion findings go beyond apparel, revealing that the Viking Age from 750 A.D. to 1050 A.D. was not uniform and might even have been sort of sexy.
. . Until now, anthropological evidence showed a Viking woman wearing an apron on top of a linen robe. The apron consisted of two rectangular pieces of cloth, in which strings on the back panel attached to the front with brooches. The outfit was completed with an outer woolen shawl or sweater.
. . The new finding reveals instead that a Viking woman's dress consisted of a single piece of fabric with an opening in the front. A pair of brooches, or clasps, was situated on top of the breasts to accentuate the wearer's figure.
Feb 25, 08: A circular plaza built 5,500 years ago has been discovered in Peru, and archeologists involved in the dig said carbon-dating shows it is one of the oldest structures ever found in the Americas.
Feb 20, 08: Ancient Mayan astronomers aligned their soaring temples with the stars and now modern archeologists have found the ruins of hidden cities in the Guatemalan jungle by peering down from space.
Feb 19, 08: More than two million people have registered as descendants of Confucius, tripling the size of the celebrated Chinese philosopher's family tree, state media reported.
Feb 13, 08: People who migrated from Asia to the New World camped out for 20,000 years on land now submerged under the Bering Strait between Alaska and Siberia, according to a genetic analysis. Combined studies of DNA, archeological evidence, climate data and geological data to come up with their new theory, which describes a much longer migration than most other researchers have proposed.
. . Mulligan's team proposes that the people who left Central Asia to eventually populate the Americas passed quickly through Siberia, and then got stuck in Beringia --a former land mass that now lies under the frigid Bering Sea. There they stayed for 20,000 years, until glaciers melted about 15,000 years ago, opening a route to the Americas.
. . The researchers used sequences of mitochondrial DNA taken from Asians and Native Americans for their analysis. This type of DNA is passed along virtually unchanged from mother to child. The small mutations that occur can be used as a genetic clock to track the descent and the sizes of ancient populations. "This rapid colonization of the New World was achieved by a founder group with an effective population size of 1,000 to 5,400 individuals."
. . The U of Florida's Michael Miyamoto said the DNA suggests a 20,000-year "waiting period" during which generations passed and genetic changes accumulated. "By looking at the kinds and frequencies of these mutations in modern populations, we can get an idea of when the mutations arose and how many people were around to carry them", he said.
Jan 21, 08: The victims of human sacrifice by Mexico's ancient Mayans, who threw children into water-filled caverns, were likely boys and young men not virgin girls as previously believed, archeologists said. The Maya built soaring temples and elaborate palaces in the jungles of Central America and southern Mexico before the Spanish conquest in the early 1500s.
. . Maya priests in the city of Chichen Itza in the Yucatan peninsula sacrificed children to petition the gods for rain and fertile fields by throwing them into sacred sinkhole caves, known as "cenotes". The caves served as a source of water for the Mayans and were also thought to be an entrance to the underworld.
. . Archeologist Guillermo de Anda from the U of Yucatan pieced together the bones of 127 bodies discovered at the bottom of one of Chichen Itza's sacred caves and found over 80% were likely boys between the ages of 3 and 11. The other 20% were mostly adult men.
. . Archeologists previously believed young female virgins were sacrificed because the remains, which span from around 850 AD until the Spanish colonization, were often found adorned with jade jewelry. It is difficult to determine the sex of skeletons before they are fully matured, said de Anda, but he believes cultural evidence from Mayan mythology would suggest the young victims were actually male.
Dec 29, 07: Archeologists have discovered the ruins of an 800-year-old Aztec pyramid in the heart of the Mexican capital that could show the ancient city is at least a century older than previously thought.
Dec 21, 07: After 800 years at the bottom of the sea, a merchant ship loaded with porcelain and other rare antiques was raised to the surface Friday in a specially built basket.
Dec 12, 07: The Greek myth that ancient Spartans threw their stunted and sickly newborns off a cliff was not corroborated by archaeological digs in the area, researchers said.
. . After more than five years of analysis of human remains culled from the pit, also called an apothetes, researchers found only the remains of adolescents and adults between the ages of 18 and 35.
. . According to Pitsios, the bones studied to date came from the fifth and sixth centuries BC and come from 46 men, confirming the assertion from ancient sources that the Spartans threw prisoners, traitors or criminals into the pit.
. . The discoveries shine light on an episode during the second war between Sparta and Messene, a fortified city state independent of Sparta, when Spartans defeated the Messenian hero Aristomenes and his 50 warriors, who were all thrown into the pit, he added.
Dec 6, 07: Israeli archaeologists digging in an east Jerusalem parking lot have uncovered a 2,000-year-old mansion they believe likely belonged to Queen Helene of Adiabene, a minor but exceptional character in the city's history.
Dec 4, 07: An ancient Roman wood and ivory throne has been unearthed at a dig in Herculaneum, Italian archaeologists said, hailing it as the most significant piece of wooden furniture ever discovered there.
. . The throne was found during an excavation in the Villa of the Papyri, the private house formerly belonging to Julius Caesar's father-in-law, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, built on the slope of Mount Vesuvius. The name of the villa derives from the impressive library containing thousands of scrolls of papyrus discovered buried under meters of volcanic ash after the Vesuvius erupted on 24 August 79.
. . Little is known about how the throne would have been used but the elaborate decorations discovered on the chair celebrate the mysterious cult figure of Attis. The most precious relief shows Attis, a life-death-rebirth deity, collecting a pine cone next to a sacred pine tree. Other ornaments show leaves and flowers suggesting the theme of the throne is that of spring and fertility.
Nov 19, 07: Italian archaeologists believe they have found the cave where, according to legend, a she-wolf nursed Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of Rome. An underground cavity decorated with seashells, colored marble mosaics and pumice stones was discovered near the ruins of the palace of Emperor Augustus on the Palatine hill.
. . Experts say they are "reasonably certain" it is the long-lost place of worship sacred to ancient Romans and known as Lupercale, from the Latin word for wolf. The cave was found 16 meters underground in a previously unexplored area during restoration work on the palace of Augustus, the first Roman emperor.
. . Archaeologists investigating Renaissance descriptions of the sanctuary used a camera probe and the images suggest the vault, which has a white eagle at the center, is well-preserved. "You can imagine our amazement, we almost screamed", said Giorgio Croci, head of the archaeological team.
. . Finding out more about the cave without damaging it or the foundations of the surrounding ruins will not be easy. More than two-thirds of the cavity, which is about 8 meters high and 7 meters wide, is filled with debris and earth after part of it collapsed, and it is not clear where the entrance is.
Nov 19, 07: Over 100 ancient jade artifacts in museums across southeast Asia have been traced back to Taiwan, shedding new light on sea trade patterns dating back 5,000 years, researchers said.
. . Using X-ray spectrometers, the international team of scientists analyzed 144 jade ornaments dating from 3,000 BC to 500 AD and found that at least 116 originated from Fengtian in eastern Taiwan.
Nov 17, 07: An ancient flood some say could be the origin of the story of Noah's Ark may have helped the spread of agriculture in Europe 8,300 years ago by scattering the continent's earliest farmers, researchers said on Sunday.
. . Using radiocarbon dating and archaeological evidence, a British team showed the collapse of the North American ice sheet, which raised global sea levels by as much as 1.4 meters, displaced tens of thousands of people in southeastern Europe who carried farming skills to their new homes.
. . The researchers said their study provides direct evidence linking the flood that breached a ridge keeping the Mediterranean apart from the Black Sea to the rise of farming in Europe. "The flooding of the Black Sea was not well dated but we got it down to about 50 years. As soon as the flooding is done, farming goes crazy across Europe." "When the Black Sea flooded at end of last ice age, some people have suggested it was the origins of the Noah's Ark myth", he said. "If you lived in that basin it would have seemed like the whole world had flooded."
. . The researchers created reconstructions of the Mediterranean and Black Sea shoreline before and after the rise in sea levels. They estimated the flood covered some 73,000 square km over a 34-year period, causing mass displacement of people.
Nov 15, 07: One of Western Europe's earliest known urban societies may have sown the seeds of its own downfall, a study suggests. Mystery surrounded the fall of the Bronze Age Argaric people in south-east Spain --Europe's driest area.
. . Data suggest the early civilization exhausted precious natural resources, helping bring about its own ruin. The study provides early evidence for cultural collapse caused --at least in part-- by humans meddling with the environment, say researchers.
. . Before the appearance of the Argaric civilization, the slopes of Sierra de Baza were covered with a diverse forest dominated by deciduous oaks and other broad-leaved trees. But about 4,200 years ago --just after this civilization emerges-- significant amounts of charcoal appear in the pollen sequence. According to the study's authors, this is a sign Bronze Age people were setting fires to clear the forests for mining activities and grazing.
. . Not long afterwards, about 3,900 years ago, the diverse forest ecosystem disappears, to be replaced by monotonous and fire-prone Mediterranean scrub. The degradation of soils and vegetation could have caused the collapse of agriculture and pastoralism, the foundation of the Argaric economy. This would have led to massive depopulation of the area.
. . What astonished the researchers was the speed of this change. This ecological transformation is very abrupt, appearing to have taken place in little more than a decade. About 300 years after this ecological transformation, the Argaric civilization disappeared.
Nov 15, 07: Israeli archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a second century terraced street and bath house which provide vital clues about the layout of Roman Jerusalem.
Nov 12, 07: The chocolate enjoyed around the world today had its origins at least 3,100 years ago in Central America not as the sweet treat people now crave but as a celebratory beer-like beverage and status symbol, scientists said.
. . Researchers identified residue of a chemical compound that comes exclusively from the cacao plant --the source of chocolate-- in pottery vessels dating from about 1100 BC in Puerto Escondido, Honduras. This pushed back by at least 500 years the earliest documented use of cacao, an important luxury commodity in Mesoamerica before European invaders arrived. The Spanish conquistadors who shattered the Aztec empire in the 16th century were smitten with a chocolate beverage. The Spanish brought cacao back to Europe in the 16th century.
. . Cacao (pronounced cah-COW) seeds were used to make ceremonial beverages consumed by elites of the Aztecs and other civilizations, while also being used as a form of currency. The cacao brew consumed at the village of perhaps 200 to 300 people may have evolved into the chocolate beverage known from later in Mesoamerican history not by design but as "an accidental byproduct of some brewing", Henderson said.
. . The chocolate enjoyed by later Mesoamerican civilizations like the Maya and Aztecs was made from ground cacao seeds with added seasonings, producing a spicy, frothy drink.
Nov 11, 07: If the figurines found in an ancient European settlement are any guide, women have been dressing to impress for at least 7,500 years. Recent excavations at the site --part of the Vinca culture which was Europe's biggest prehistoric civilization-- point to a metropolis with a great degree of sophistication and a taste for art and fashion, archaeologists say.
. . In the Neolithic settlement in a valley nestled between rivers, mountains and forests in what is now southern Serbia, men rushed around a smoking furnace melting metal for tools. An ox pulled a load of ore, passing by an art workshop and a group of young women in short skirts. "According to the figurines we found, young women were beautifully dressed, like today's girls in short tops and mini skirts, and wore bracelets around their arms."
. . The unnamed tribe who lived between 5400 and 4700 BC in the 120-hectare site at what is now Plocnik knew about trade, handcrafts, art and metallurgy. Near the settlement, a thermal well might be evidence of Europe's oldest spa. "They pursued beauty and produced 60 different forms of wonderful pottery and figurines, not only to represent deities, but also out of pure enjoyment."
. . Houses had stoves, there were special holes for trash, and the dead were buried in a tidy necropolis. People slept on woolen mats and fur, made clothes of wool, flax and leather and kept animals. Artifacts include toys such as animals and rattles of clay, and small, clumsily crafted pots apparently made by children at playtime.
. . One of the most exciting finds for archaeologists was the discovery of a sophisticated metal workshop with a furnace and tools including a copper chisel and a two-headed hammer and axe. "This might prove that the Copper Age started in Europe at least 500 years earlier than we thought", Kuzmanovic said.
. . The discovery of a mine --Europe's oldest-- at the nearby Mlava river suggested at the time that Vinca could be Europe's first metal culture, a theory now backed up by the Plocnik site. The settlement was destroyed at some point, probably in the first part of the fifth millennium, by a huge fire.
Nov 10, 07: A 4,000-year-old temple filled with murals has been unearthed on the northern coast of Peru, making it one of the oldest finds in the Americas, a leading archaeologist said. The murals could be the oldest in the Americas. The temple, inside a larger ruin, includes a staircase that leads up to an altar used for fire worship at a site scientists have called Ventarron.
. . It sits in the Lambayeque valley, near the ancient Sipan complex that Alva unearthed in the 1980s. Ventarron was built long before Sipan, about 2,000 years BCE.
Oct 29, 07: U.S. and Puerto Rican archaeologists say they have found the best-preserved pre-Columbian site in the Caribbean, which could shed light on virtually every aspect of Indian life in the region, from sacred rituals to eating habits.
Oct 17, 07: In one of the earliest hints of "modern" living, humans 164,000 years ago put on primitive makeup and hit the seashore for steaming mussels, new archaeological finds show. Call it a beach party for early man. But it's a beach party thrown by people who weren't supposed to be advanced enough for this type of behavior. What was found in a cave in South Africa may change how scientists believe Homo sapiens marched into modernity.
. . Instead of undergoing a revolution into modern living about 40,000 to 70,000 years ago, as commonly thought, man may have become modern in stuttering fits and starts, or through a long slow march that began even earlier.
. . This means humans were eating seafood about 40,000 years earlier than previously thought. And this is the earliest record of humans eating something other than what they caught or gathered on the land.
Oct 17, 07: Idaho State U anthropologists are retracing American Indian trade routes by bombarding arrowheads and other stone tools with radiation that helps locate their origins. The photo activation method causes no damage, he said.
. . The work at the Idaho Accelerator Center in Pocatello involves a process called photon activation analysis. It allows researchers to measure trace elements in an object and use the data to match artifacts with their places of origin, such as matching arrowheads made of obsidian with the lava flows they came from. That can provide evidence about how such items were passed among the West's tribes.
Oct 11, 07: French archaeologists say they have excavated an 11,000-year-old wall painting in red, black and white in northern Syria which they describe as the oldest in the world, although it resembles a modern work.
Oct 2, 07: Chinese farmers cultivated rice along the eastern coast as far back as 7,700 years ago and used fire and flood control measures to manage their fields, researchers said, citing new evidence. Geographers in Britain and China described how they found artifacts --bone, bamboo and wooden tools used for foraging and cultivation-- and high concentrations of charcoal in Kuahuqiao, a freshwater marsh about 200 km southwest of Shanghai. "About 7,700 years ago, people started to burn woody crops and there's a very high concentration of charcoal there and a decline of woody tree pollen."
. . Other archaeologists found wood pilings which they believe were used as supports in the marshy ground to erect platforms for huts for the farmers and their families. These early farmers were also able to protect their paddy fields from floodwaters in the low-lying coastal area, at a time when they were constantly threatened by rising sea levels.
. . But the area was suddenly abandoned about 7,500 years ago, again evident from diatoms dating from that time. "You can see an abrupt rise in marine and brackish water diatoms, which means that up to a certain point, the people couldn't maintain the paddy fields because sea water levels kept rising and they overwhelmed the sites", Zong said.
Oct 1, 07: Hair samples taken from child mummies suggest the ancient Incas "fattened" up children chosen for ritual sacrifice months before actually killing them, British researchers said.
. . A chemical analysis of four mummies found high in the Andes mountains also indicates the Incans took the children on a lengthy pilgrimage prior to the killings, the team said. In the case of the 15-year-old "Llullaillaco Maiden" the road to death started at least 12 months before.
. . They analyzed hair samples up to 25 cm long in the children aged 6 to 15. This length represented about two-and-a-half years of hair growth, which gave researchers a picture of the doomed children's' lives over a fairly long period of time. Changes in isotopes, or chemical signatures, in the earliest samples showed the children were fed a steady diet of vegetables typical of a peasant background
. . But in the 12 months prior to sacrifice, the diet suddenly changed to food reserved for the elite such as maize and meat, likely representing the children's elevated status as offerings to the gods, the researchers said. Other isotopic changes indicate that in their final three or four months, the children began a pilgrimage to the mountains, likely from the Incan capital Cuzco after receiving ritual haircuts, Wilson said.
. . The researchers do not know exactly how all the children died, though at least one was killed by a blow to the head. "It looks to us as though the children were led up to the summit shrine in the culmination of a year-long rite, drugged and then left to succumb to exposure", said Timothy Taylor, a researcher at the U of Bradford.
Sept 17, 07: Yale University will return artifacts taken 90 years ago from Machu Picchu and said that Peru is the rightful owner of thousands of objects found at the Inca citadel.
Sept 10, 07: Israeli archaeologists find a tunnel in Jerusalem used by Jews to escape from the Romans in 70 AD. Under threat from Romans ransacking Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, many of the city's Jewish residents crowded into an underground drainage channel to hide and later flee the chaos through Jerusalem's southern end unnoticed.
Sept 10, 07: Archaeologists exhumed the body of a Viking queen, hoping to solve a riddle about whether a woman buried with her 1,200 years ago was a servant killed to be a companion into the afterlife. Archaeologists opened a Viking burial mound, seeking to learn more about two women —-possibly a queen and a princess-— laid to rest there 1,173 years ago.
Sept 6, 07: Cyprus is to launch sea surveys in an area where dozens of vessels led by warring successors to Alexander the Great are believed to have sunk in battle for control over the island in 306 BC.
. . Encouraged by the discovery of one wreck from a later Roman era, the survey slated for the summer of 2008 will extend into deep waters. The Cape Greco region --a rocky outcrop between the now popular tourist resorts of Agia Napa and Protaras-- saw one of the biggest naval battles of the ancient world.
. . According to the ancient Greek historian, Diodorus of Sicily, in 306 BC Demetrios the Poliorketes (Besieger) triumphed over Ptolemy I of Egypt in a naval engagement off Cyprus, with dozens of vessels sunk as the result of combat.
Sept 5, 07: The first domesticated pigs in Europe were introduced from the Middle East by Stone Age farmers, a new study shows. The international research project examined DNA in the jawbones or teeth of modern and 7,000-year-old pigs. The genetic investigation provides fresh insight into the immigration of ancient peoples and ideas. They brought examples of domesticated livestock.
. . Agriculture is thought to have begun about 12,000 years ago, in the central and western parts of the Middle East, known as the Near East to archaeologists. Between 6,800-4,000 BC, farming methods spread across Europe, but the question of how these methods spread has not been fully established.
. . The two competing theories are that farming spread through cultural exchange, possibly during trading or that people migrated to Europe bringing their expertise with them.
. . A previous study, in 2005, analysed modern pig DNA and showed that all modern pigs are descended from European wild boar. This led researchers to conclude that early Europeans domesticated pigs independently of other farming methods.
. . This new study, however, has discovered that the first domesticated pigs in Europe did have Near Eastern ancestry, indicating that farmers migrated to Europe, bringing their "package" of livestock and farming methods with them. Domestic pigs of European wild boar ancestry appear soon afterwards.
. . The DNA records show that European domestic pigs became widespread throughout Europe, and that the Near Eastern pigs disappeared. "The domestic pigs that were derived from the European wild boar must have been considered vastly superior to those originally from the Middle East, though at this point we have no idea why", he said.
. . "In fact, the European domestic pigs were so successful that over the next several thousand years, they spread across the continent and even back into the Middle East where they overtook the indigenous domestic pigs.
. . Studies of cattle also show that modern European cows are partly descended from ancient wild Italian aurochs, disputing a previous claim that all present-day European breeds are descended from cattle domesticated in the Near East.
Sept 5, 07: Archaeologists digging in northern Israel have discovered evidence of a 3,000-year-old beekeeping industry, including remnants of ancient honeycombs, beeswax and what they believe are the oldest intact beehives ever found.
Sept 1, 07: Archaeologists working in Syria have unearthed the remains of dozens of youths thought to have been killed in a fierce confrontation 6,000 years ago. The celebrating victors may even have feasted on beef in the aftermath.
. . The findings come from northeastern Syria, near Tell Brak, one of the world's oldest known cities. More than 30 years of continuous excavation have revealed the site's remarkable sophistication. Studies by British and American archaeologists suggest Tell Brak was a flourishing urban center at the same time as better known early cities from southern Iraq. Two mass burial pits have been excavated at this site. The first has so far revealed the bones of 34 young to middle-aged adults. Thus far, only a small portion have been excavated. "There could be hundreds and potentially thousands."
. . At least two skulls show signs of injuries that could have caused death. The absence of feet and hand bones and the fact that many of the skulls apparently rolled off when they were tossed in the pit hints that they were left to decompose before burial. Dr McMahon said she did not know whether the victors were defending or attacking Tell Brak. She estimates that the Majnuna incident took place in about 3,800BC.
. . A mass of pottery, mostly vessels for serving and eating, along with cow bones were also found lying on top of the skeletons. The experts interpret this as evidence for a large feast.
. . A second mass burial pit has been found about 12m away. At least 28 individuals have been uncovered from this location.
. . Tell Brak is a 40m-high, 1km-long archaeological mound in what would have been northern Mesopotamia. Tell Brak began as small settlements with space between them. Eventually, the population grew more dense and moved towards the center. This, researchers say, supports the idea of a lack of centralized authority.
Aug 24, 07: Archaeologists excavating a sprawling prehistoric fortress in southern Greece have discovered a secret underground passage thought to have supplied the site with water in times of danger.
. . Dating to the mid-13th century B.C., the stone passage passed under the massive walls of the Mycenaean citadel of Midea and probably led to a nearby water source, authorities said. The passage would allow the people of Midea, about 93 miles south of Athens, safe access to drinkable water even in times of enemy attack.
. . Three such networks —-major engineering feats requiring intensive labor-— from Mycenaean times have been found so far. Excavations at Midea revealed cut rock steps leading to the triangular passage, whose entrance was covered with a large stone lintel. At the entrance to the 5-foot-high passage, archaeologists found quantities of broken clay water jars and cups. The 6-acre site was girdled with a wall of huge stone blocks, built around 1250 B.C. Excavations have also uncovered several buildings —-some decorated with painted plaster walls-— pottery, a clay figure of a goddess, seal-stones and an amethyst vase shaped like a triton shell.
. . Controlling a strategic road in the northeastern Peloponnese, Midea was first occupied in the later Neolithic period, in the 5th millennium B.C. It flourished during Mycenaean times and was destroyed by earthquake and fire at the end of the 13th century BCE —-after which the site diminished in size and significance. Traces of habitation have also been located from the Archaic (7th and 6th centuries BCE), Roman and Byzantine periods.
Aug 21, 07: A volcanic eruption that buried a Mayan village 1,400 years ago preserved a manioc field --the first evidence that the nutritious crop was cultivated by the ancient people, researchers said.
Aug 16, 07: Archaelogists have discovered a more than 2,000-year-old Etruscan tomb perfectly preserved in the hills of Tuscany with a treasure trove of artifacts inside, including urns that hold the remains of about 30 people.
. . The tomb, in the Tuscan town of Civitella Paganico, probably dates from between the 1st and 3rd centuries B.C., when Etruscan power was in decline. The Etruscans lived north of Rome in present day regions of Tuscany and Umbria. Their civilization lasted for about 1,000 years, reaching its height roughly from the 7th to the 6th century B.C., before its cities were replaced by Roman settlements. Much of what is known about the Etruscans derives from other lavish burial sites, decorated with paintings and filled with vases and other objects.
Aug 16, 07: A new study of the demise of the ancient city of Angkor is a wake-up call for Cambodia to be more vigilant in its efforts to conserve the site. The study found that Angkor was far larger than previously thought, incorporating an elaborate water management network of nearly 400 square miles and rice paddies to feed more than 1 million people.
. . Researchers discovered, however, that the complex was too vast to manage and could have contributed to the civilization's decline. The extending rice fields resulted in serious ecological problems, including deforestation, topsoil degradation and erosion.
. . Soeung Kong, deputy director-general of the government agency managing the site, said that what happened to ancient Angkor "appears to be repeating itself now" due to over-exploitation from tourism, highlighting the current challenges in managing and conserving the temples.
. . They also fear that the unrestricted pumping of underground water to meet the rapidly rising demand of hotels, guesthouses and residents in the provincial town may be undermining Angkor's foundations, destabilizing the earth beneath the temples so much that they might sink and collapse.
Aug 13, 07: Two Galway archeologists believe ancient Irish monuments may have been Bronze Age breweries.
Aug 13, 07: Archeologists have discovered a more than 2,000-year-old Etruscan tomb perfectly preserved in the hills of Tuscany with a treasure trove of artifacts inside, including urns that hold the remains of about 30 people.
Aug 13, 07: Archeologists have published a new map showing an extensive ancient settlement surrounding Cambodia's Angkor Wat that supported large numbers of inhabitants before and after the famous temple was built.
Aug 10, 07: New discoveries at dig sites in Middle Asia are rocking the archeological world and redefining the origins of modern civilization. Numerous sites in modern-day Iran and the surrounding region suggest that a vast network of societies together constituted the first cities.
. . Archaeologists have thought that modern civilization began in Mesopotamia, where the large Tigris and Euphrates rivers bounded a fertile valley that nurtured an increasingly complex society. The social structures, wealth and technologies of this society slowly spread along the Nile and then the Indus rivers in the 3rd millennium B.C.
. . One site proved particularly important for convincing some scientists of the error of the accepted history. Locals had been digging up artifacts in an ancient cemetery just south of Jiroft and flooding the art market with pottery and other goods. Researchers tracked these curiously unique pieces back to their source, where, Lawler said, they found "a vast moonscape of craters made by looters."
. . But further exploration of two nearby mounds found evidence of a large city, one that may have rivaled contemporary Ur in Mesopotamia. "These people were trading with the Indus, with Mesopotamia, to the north and south."
. . According to Carl Lamberg-Karlovsky of Harvard U, the site dates back to 4000 B.C., signifying that the Jiroft site and its environs were once home to a long-lived culture, not a brief response to Mesopotamian wealth.
. . The entire area of interest spreads roughly from the eastern border of Iran to the Pakistani-Iranian border, and from the Russian steppes southward through the Persian Gulf area and onto the Arabian Peninsula. Over a period of centuries in the mid- to late-3rd century B.C., a cultural awakening occurred in many cities in this area, evidenced by the elite's showcasing of valued materials gathered across large distances and fashioned by artists. In neither case were the settlements mere satellite colonies of a larger city.
. . Three tablets, the first discovered by a local farmer and the others subsequently unearthed by professional archaeologists, appear to contain a unique iconography.
Aug 10, 07: Erosion on the floor of the English Channel is revealing the remains of a busy Stone Age settlement, from a time when Europe and Britain were still linked by land, a team of archaeologists says.
. . The site, just off the Isle of Wight, dates back 8,000 years, not long before melting glaciers filled in the Channel and likely drove the settlement's last occupants north to higher ground.
. . As the climate began to warm up near the end of the Ice Age about 10,000 years ago, people were moving into Northern Europe and settling down in the many river valleys left behind by melting glaciers, Momber explained. Many of the valleys, such as the ones now beneath the English Channel, were eventually inundated completely when temperatures returned to normal.
. . When the floodwater rose slowly in the English Channel, it deposited layers of silt atop the settlement, encasing it in an oxygen-free environment that preserves even organic materials such as wood and food. "With underwater sites, all the trappings of a society are going to remain, not just the stone."
Aug 10, 07: Parts of a giant statue of the Roman Emperor Hadrian has been unearthed at a dig in Turkey.
Aug 4, 07: Mexican archaeologists using ground-penetrating radar have detected underground chambers they believe contain the remains of Emperor Ahuizotl, who ruled the Aztecs when Columbus landed in the New World.
Aug 1, 07: Archeologists have discovered what they think are ruins of an Aztec pyramid razed by vengeful Spanish conquerors in what is now one of Mexico City's most crime-ridden districts.
Alexander the Great founded Alexandria to immortalize his name amid his quest to conquer the world —-but his was apparently not the first city on the famed site on Egypt's Mediterranean coast.
. . A Smithsonian team has uncovered underwater evidence pointing to an urban settlement at the site dating back seven centuries before Alexander showed up in 331 B.C. The city he "founded", Alexandria, has long been a source of intrigue and wonder, renowned for its library, once the world's largest, and the 396-foot lighthouse on the island of Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. But little was known about the site in pre-Alexander times other than a fishing village called Rhakotis was located there.
. . Coastal geoarchaeologist Jean-Daniel Stanley of the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History said his team's work suggested a much larger community at Rhakotis than had previously been believed. Stanley could not say exactly how big the community was. "This was proof that there was significant metallurgy and human activity going on back 1,000 years B.C.", Stanley said. "Alexandria did not just grow out from a barren desert, but was built atop an active town.
July 20, 07: Archaeologists excavating the seabed off Cyprus have discovered the tools of ancient mariners, which they believe were used by foragers more than 10,000 years ago —-before the island had permanent settlements.
July 17, 07: Archaeologists called for urgent steps to safeguard Petra, the ancient rose-red rock city recently picked as one of the new seven wonders of the world, saying an increase in visitors could damage it.
July 16, 07: A 2,400-year-old golden mask that once belonged to a Thracian king was unearthed in a timber-lined tomb in southeastern Bulgaria.
Jun 30, 07: The tomb of China's first emperor, guarded for more than 2,000 years by 8,000 terracotta warriors and horses, has yielded up another archaeological secret. After five years of research, archaeologists have confirmed that a 30-meter-high building is buried in the vast mausoleum of Emperor Qinshihuang, who unified China in 221 BC.
. . Archaeologists have been using remote sensing technology since 2002 to study the internal structure of the unexcavated mausoleum. They concluded that the building, buried above the main tomb, had four surrounding stair-like walls with nine steps each.
. . The life-size terracotta army, buried in pits near the mausoleum to guard the emperor in the afterlife, was accidentally unearthed in 1974 by farmers who were digging a well.
Jun 28, 07: Anthropologists in northern Peru have found evidence of peanut, cotton and squash farming dating back 5,000 to 9,000 years, researchers said, in a finding that helps pin down the start of organized agriculture in the Americas.
. . Farming marks an important turning point in human history because it signals a change from a nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life to more settled, sedentary society. "This seems to be a major shift for the development of social structures."
. . They dated the squash from about 9,200 years ago, the peanut from 7,600 years ago and the cotton from 5,500 years ago. These plants did not grow wild where they were found. They also found garden plots, irrigation canals and storage structures nearby.
Jun 27, 07: A single tooth has clinched the identification of an ancient mummy as that of Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt about 3,500 years ago, the country's chief archaeologist said. The right mummy turned out to be that of a fat woman in her 50s who had rotten teeth and died of bone cancer, Zahi Hawass told a news conference.
. . But the decisive evidence was a molar in a wooden box inscribed with the queen's name, found in 1881 in a cache of royal mummies collected and hidden away for safekeeping at the Deir al-Bahari temple about 1,000 meters away. During the embalming process, it was common to set aside spare body parts and preserve them in such a box.
. . Orthodontics professor Yehya Zakariya checked all the mummies which might be Hatshepsut's and found that the tooth was a perfect fit in a gap in the upper jaw of the fat woman. "The identification of the tooth with the jaw can show this is Hatshepsut", Hawass said. "A tooth is like a fingerprint."
. . The team examining the mummy are also doing DNA tests and preliminary results show similarities between its DNA and that of Ahmose Nefertari, the wife of the founder of the 18th dynasty and a probable ancestor of Hatshepsut's.
. . DNA analysis is complicated because Hawass recently concluded that the mummy once assumed to be that of Tuthmosis I, Hatshepsut's father, is not in fact his.
Jun 26, 07: Egyptologists think they have identified with certainty the mummy of Hatshepsut, the most famous queen to rule ancient Egypt, found in a humble tomb in the Valley of the Kings, said an archaeologist --Egypt's chief archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, who'll hold a news conference in Cairo. The tomb is known as KV 60.
. . The mummy of Hatshepsut was one of two females found in 1903 in a small tomb believed to be that of Hatshepsut's wet-nurse, Sitre In. Several Egyptologists have speculated over the years that one of the mummies was that of the queen, who ruled from between 1503 and 1482 BC --at the height of ancient Egypt's power.
. . Not all Egyptologists are convinced he will be able to prove his case. "It's based on teeth and body parts ... It's an interesting piece of scientific deduction which might point to the truth", the archaeologist said.
. . Her mummy may have been hidden in the tomb for safekeeping after her death because her stepson and successor, Tuthmosis III, tried to obliterate her memory.
Jun 18, 07: Even the very first modern humans may have spruced themselves up with beaded bling. Twelve shell beads discovered in a cave in eastern Morocco have been dated at more than 80,000 years old, making them one of the earliest examples of human culture. The beads are colored with red ochre and show signs of being strung together.
. . Similar beads have been found in other parts of Africa and the Middle East, suggesting the first Homo sapiens literally carried their penchant for baubles with them as they populated the world. "If you draw a triangle covering the three furthest known locations of Homo sapiens between 75,000–120,000 years ago, that triangle stretches from South Africa to Morocco to Israel."
Jun 13, 07: Chinese archaeologists have found an ancient sunken ship in the South China Sea laden with Ming Dynasty porcelain, the Xinhua news agency said.
Jun 11, 07: Tourists puzzled by the jumble of buildings in classical and modern Rome can now find their bearings by visiting a virtual model of the imperial capital in what is being billed as the world's biggest computer simulation of an ancient city.
. . "Rome Reborn" was unveiled on Monday in a first release showing the city at its peak in 320 AD, under the Emperor Constantine when it had grown to a million inhabitants.
. . Brainchild of the U of Virginia's Bernard Frischer, Rome Reborn (www.romereborn.virginia.edu) will eventually show its evolution from Bronze Age hut settlements to the Sack of Rome in the 5th century AD and the devastating Gothic Wars.
Jun 8, 07: Satellites hovering above Egypt have zoomed in on a 1,600-year-old metropolis, archaeologists say. Images captured from space pinpoint telltale signs of previous habitation in the swatch of land 200 miles south of Cairo, which digging recently confirmed as an ancient settlement dating from about 400 A.D.
. . The find is part of a larger project aiming to map as much of ancient Egypt's archaeological sites, or "tells", as possible before they are destroyed or covered by modern development. "It is the biggest site discovered so far", said project leader Sarah Parcak of the U of Alabama at Birmingham. "Based on the coins and pottery we found, it appears to be a massive regional center that traded with Greece, Turkey and Libya."
. . Another large city dating to 600 B.C. and a monastery from 400 A.D. are some of the four hundred or so sites that Parcak has located during her work with the satellites. The oldest dates back over 5,000 years.
Jun 6, 07: Italy's prehistoric iceman "Otzi" died from a shoulder wound inflicted by an arrow, according to research into his perfectly preserved 5,000-year old body. Using modern X-ray technology, however, an Italian-Swiss research team said on Wednesday it had proved the cause of death as a lesion on an artery close to the shoulder, caused by an arrowhead that remains in the iceman's back.
Jun 1, 07: Archaeologists digging in western Japan have excavated what they believe to be the oldest remains of a melon ever found, an official said. Based on a radiocarbon analysis, researchers estimate the half-rounded piece of fruit to be about 2,100 years old. The remains are believed to be the oldest of a melon that still has flesh on the rind. The melon might have been so well-preserved because it was in a vacuum-packed state in a wet layer below the ground, an environment hostile to microorganisms that might otherwise have broken down the remains.
May 25, 07: Stonehenges all around us: Stonehenge stated that a megalithic structure in the Sahara dating back 6,000 years was the oldest in the world. A site in Turkey known as Gobekli Tepe dates back more than 11,000 years.
. . The Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, dating back several hundred years, is a complex celestial calendar, its 28 spokes of aligned stones pointing to risings and settings of the sun and various stars. This medicine wheel, in turn, is similar to the Nonakado Stone Circle of Japan, from the 1st millennium BC, where standing stones mark important, calendrical events on the horizon.
. . In northern New Mexico, where in the 11th century, the Chaco culture built hundreds of miles of processional "roads." Rather than rings of giant standing stones, the Chacoans erected enormous masonry temples known as great houses. Many of these great houses are aligned to view celestial events through portals and windows.
May 25, 07: Archaeologists diving into a lake in the crater of a snowcapped volcano found wooden scepters shaped like lightning bolts that match 500-year-old descriptions by Spanish priests and conquerors writing about offerings to the Aztec rain god.
. . The lightning bolts —-along with cones of copal incense and obsidian knives-— were found during scuba-diving expeditions in one of the twin lakes of the extinct Nevado de Toluca volcano, at more than 13,800 feet above sea level.
. . Scientists must still conduct tests to determine the age of the findings, but the writings after the Spanish conquest in 1521 have led them to believe the offerings were left in the frigid lake west of Mexico City more than 500 years ago. Copal incense was burned to form "clouds", and sharp spines from the maguey cactus — which does not grow at that altitude —-indicated worshippers brought them there to draw blood from themselves as part of the sacrifice.
. . Luis Alberto Martos, the institute's director of archaeological studies, said other artifacts found in the clear 32-degree waters of the lake indicate the ritual may have started about 100 B.C. —-long before the Aztecas settled in the area in 1325.
May 24, 07: Archaeologists in central Greece have discovered thousands of miniature clay pots and statuettes in the ruins of an ancient sanctuary possibly dedicated to the Three Graces.
May 22, 07: Recent evidence suggests an enormous object struck the Indian Ocean a mere 4,800 years ago, causing global tsunamis that may have engendered the Flood referred to in the Bible.
May 21, 07: Belgian archaeologists have discovered the intact tomb of an Egyptian courtier who lived about 4,000 years ago. The tomb belonged to Henu, an estate manager and high-ranking official during the first intermediate period, which lasted from 2181 to 2050 BC and was a time of political chaos in ancient Egypt.
. . The archaeologists found Henu's mummy wrapped in linen in a large wooden coffin and a sarcophagus decorated with hieroglyphic texts addressed to the gods Anubis and Osiris. The tomb contained well-preserved painted wooden statuettes of workers making bricks, women making beer and pounding cereal, and a model of a boat with rowers, a ministry statement said. "The statuettes (are of) the best quality of their time. They are characterized by realistic touches and unusual details such as the dirty hands and feet of the brick makers."
May 19, 07: Chinese archaeologists studying ancient rock carvings say they have evidence that modern Chinese script is thousands of years older than previously thought. Researchers identified more than 2,000 pictorial symbols dating back 8,000 years, on cliff faces.
. . They say many of these symbols bear a strong resemblance to later forms of ancient Chinese characters. Scholars had thought Chinese symbols came into use about 4,500 years ago. Until this discovery, the earliest characters included 4,500-year-old inscriptions on pottery from Henan province in central China.
. . The Damaidi carvings, first discovered in the 1980s, feature more than 8,000 individual figures including the sun, moon, stars, gods and scenes of hunting or grazing. "The pictographs are similar to the ancient hieroglyphs of Chinese characters and many can be identified as ancient characters."
May 18, 07: Half a million silver coins and hundreds of gold coins have been recovered from an Atlantic colonial-era shipwreck in the largest such find of its kind, Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. said.
May 10, 07: Archaeologists in Greece have discovered a rare 2,700-year-old piece of fabric inside a copper urn from a burial they speculated imitated the elaborate cremation of soldiers described in Homer's "Iliad."
May 5, 07: Paintings of Buddha dating back at least to the 12th century have been discovered in a cave in Nepal's remote north-central region by a team of international researchers who were tipped by a local sheep herder.
May 6, 07: Archeologists have uncovered the 1,300-year-old skeleton of a ruler or priest of the ancient Tiwanaku civilization together with precious jewels inside a much-looted pyramid in western Bolivia. The corpse was found in a niche carved inside the 15-meter-high Akapana pyramid, which was built around 1200 BC and is described by experts as one of the biggest pre-Columbian constructions in South America.
. . The tomb --containing a diadem and fist-sized carved pendant of solid gold-- survived centuries of looting by Spanish invaders and unscrupulous raiders who depleted Tiwanaku of many precious treasures.
. . At its peak, the city of Tiwanaku stretched over 1,480 acres and had a population of over 100,000. The Tiwanaku civilization spread throughout southwestern Bolivia and parts of neighboring Peru, Argentina and Chile from around 1500 BC to AD 1200. Although experts still have to do carbon-dating to determine the age of the remains, archeologists estimate they were buried some 1,300 years ago, during the decline of the Tiwanaku empire.
. . In the 1900s, workers used the base of the pyramid as a quarry from which they extracted stones to build a rail line connecting the neighboring town of Guaqui with La Paz.
Apr 28, 07: LISBON, Portugal - It was a chilling discovery: a mass grave of human bones — skulls smashed and scorched by fire, dog bites on a child's thigh bone, a forehead with an apparent bullet hole.
. . Three years after the find by workers digging up the cloisters of a 17th-century Franciscan convent, forensic experts and historians say they have solved the mystery. They say the estimated 3,000 dead in the grave were victims of the earthquake that devastated Lisbon in 1755, and that this is the first mass grave of its kind ever found in the Portuguese capital.
. . The quake, which included a tsunami, and a fire that raged for six days, was one of the deadliest catastrophes ever to hit western Europe. It is thought to have killed up to 60,000 people, and it destroyed much of the wealthy and elegant capital of a Portuguese empire stretching across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Historians had a rough picture of what happened on Nov. 1, 1755, but detailed accounts were scarce. Now the mass grave presents a vivid and gruesome tableau of the past.
Apr 28, 07: Workers digging at the future site of a Wal-Mart store in suburban Mesa, AZ have unearthed the bones of a prehistoric camel that's estimated to be about 10,000 years old.
. . Arizona State U geology museum curator Brad Archer hurried out to the site Friday when he got the news that the owner of a nursery was carefully excavating bones found at the bottom of a hole being dug for a new ornamental citrus tree.
. . "There's no question that this is a camel; these creatures walked the land here until about 8,000 years ago, when the same event that wiped out a great deal of mammal life took place. This is the first camel. Others have been horses, once a mammoth."
Apr 24, 07: Archaeologists are uncovering a huge prehistoric "lost country" hidden below the North Sea. This lost landscape, where hunter-gatherer communities once lived, was swallowed by rising water levels at the end of the last ice age. This large plain disappeared below the water more than 8,000 years ago.
. . U of Birmingham researchers are heralding "stunning" findings as they map the "best-preserved prehistoric landscape in Europe". The Birmingham researchers have been using oil exploration technology to build a map of the once-inhabited area that now lies below the North Sea - stretching from the east coast of Britain up to the Shetland Islands and across to Scandinavia. So far, the team has examined a 23,000-sq-km area of the sea bed.
. . "It's like finding another country", says Professor Vince Gaffney, chair in Landscape Archaeology and Geomatics. It also serves as a warning for the scale of impact that climate change can cause, he says. Human communities would have lost their homelands as the rising water began to encroach upon the wide, low-lying plains.
. . "At times, this change would have been insidious and slow --but at times, it could have been terrifyingly fast. It would have been very traumatic for these people", he says. "In 10,000 BC, hunter-gatherers were living on the land in the middle of the North Sea. By 6,000 BC, Britain was an island. The area we have mapped was wiped out in the space of 4,000 years."
Apr 19, 07: Iranian engineers began filling a new dam today as archaeologists warned that its reservoir will flood newly discovered antiquities and could damage Iran's grandest site, the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis.
Apr 20, 07: Metals found in lake mud in the central Peruvian Andes have revealed the first evidence for pre-Colonial metalsmithing there.
. . These findings illustrate a way that archaeologists can recreate the past even when looters have destroyed the valuable artifacts that would ordinarily be relied upon to reveal historical secrets. For instance, the new research hints at a tax imposed on local villages by ancient Inca rulers to force a switch from production of copper to silver.
. . Pre-Colonial bronze artifacts have previously been found in the central Peruvian Andes dating back to about 1000 AD, after the fall of the Wari or Huari civilization , the largest empire in the Andes before the Incas.
. . The earliest evidence for metallurgy dated back to between 1000 and 1200 AD, after the fall of the Wari but well before the rise of the Inca. Metallurgy then seemed aimed toward copper and copper alloys.
Apr 11, 07: Scientists using radar techniques have peeled away the sandy cloak blanketing Darfur's parched landscape to reveal an ancient basin that once housed a mega-lake larger than Lake Erie.
. . Dubbed the Northern Darfur Mega-lake, the large pool of water is estimated to have sprawled over nearly 12,000 square miles during its heyday, with 600 cubic miles of water when filled to the brim. While the researchers are not sure of the lake's age, its substantial size suggests it was around for a long while, fed by plentiful rainfall.
A rib bone supposedly found at the site where French heroine Joan of Arc was burned at the stake is actually that of an Egyptian mummy, according to researchers who used high-tech science to expose the fake.
Apr 1, 07: Egyptian archaeologists today presented white stones of pumice that they believe a tsunami in ancient times carried 800km across the Mediterranean to north Sinai.
. . The pumice was discharged by a volcanic eruption in the ancient Greek island of Santorini in the 17th century B.C. Traces of this solidified lava foam that floats have been found in Crete and southwestern Turkey, but Egypt's archaeologists believe it also reached this site in the Sinai desert, about 6km south of the coast. The Santorini explosion was devastating. It sunk most of the island and killed over 35,000 people of a thriving Minoan community.
Mar 25, 07: Scientists believe they have found a new way to track the rise and fall of some ancient civilizations --by studying fossilized mites that thrive in the dung of their livestock. They say the tiny creatures can provide clues to changing patterns of trade and of disease epidemics through history. The researchers made the discovery while studying mud cores from a lake near the town of Cuzco, the heart of the former Inca Empire.
. . The tiny bugs --not much more than a millimeter across-- are related to domestic dust mites often found in carpets or mattresses. Some species live exclusively in moist grassland and pastures where they break down vegetable matter, including the droppings of grazing animals.
. . When the scientists started to record the numbers of mites, they obtained a plot with a very distinctive pattern. They found a huge increase in the number of fossil mites as the empire expanded from the Cuzco area in the early 1400s. A sudden drop in numbers corresponded with the collapse of the native population after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. Historical accounts from the time also document that two-thirds of the llamas in the Cuzco area died of skin diseases.
. .
. . "The Inca were a test-bed", said Dr Frogley. "Now, the findings have given us confidence to look further back into the past at civilisations that pre-date the Inca. He said it could also be used to study the Viking occupation of Greenland, which was also an animal-based economy.
Mar 25, 07: A geological engineering company said Monday it has agreed to help in an archaeological project to find the island of Ithaca, homeland of Homer's legendary hero Odysseus.
Mar 16, 07: The baby mummy had a European mom, and likely came from a wealthy family. But where he lived and why he died —-and at such a young age-— remain a mystery. The mummy, exhibited for the first time Thursday at the Saint Louis Science Center, has been the year-long focus of an international team of investigators. The museum said it may be the most extensive research project ever undertaken on a child mummy.
. . Acquired by a Hermann, Mo., dentist at the turn of the century in the Middle East, the mummy ended up in an attic of some of his relatives, before being donated to the Science Center in 1985. Then it sat in a museum warehouse.
. . A small snippet of the mummy's wrapping tested for carbon dating suggested the child had lived between 30 B.C. and 130 A.D., in Egypt's Roman period around the time of Mark Antony and Cleopatra.
. . 3-D images from CT scans of the child's bones, skull, teeth and body cavity suggested the child lived to be seven or eight months. One of the most interesting finds was a series of amulets or charms in the boy's body cavity and in the wrapping, suggesting his family was well-off. Tests showed the boy's mother was European. She plans more tests to determine his father's ancestry. Bowcock said it was amazing to get anything at all from 2,000-year-old DNA.
Mar 13, 07: Bones found at a prehistoric burial site indicate they belonged to victims of an ancient massacre, say scientists. Remains of 14 people were discovered at Wayland's Smithy, near Uffington White Horse, Oxfordshire, in the 1960s. Latest techniques date the bones at between 3590 BC and 3560 BC, and have led experts to believe the people may have died in a Neolithic Age massacre.
Feb 14, 07: Dutch archaeologists have discovered the tomb of the Pharaoh Akhenaten's seal bearer, decorated with paintings including scenes of monkeys picking and eating fruit, Egyptian antiquities officials said.
Feb 14, 07: A coin dating from 32BC and put on display in Britain today shows the phrase had an unintended double meaning --it depicts the queen as no great looker with a pointed chin, thin lips and sharp nose. Her lover, Mark Antony, fares little better on the coin's flipside --the Roman general is shown with a hook nose, bulging eyes and a thick neck. The coin has gone on display at Newcastle U, on Valentine's Day, after years of lying in a bank.
. . Lindsay Allason-Jones, the university's director of archaeological museums, said that the image of her as a great beauty is comparatively modern, dating back to medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. The coin itself represents one three hundredth of a Roman soldier's salary and was probably minted to pay the wages of those stationed in Egypt.
Feb 6, 07: Archaeologists in Italy have discovered a couple [genders unknown] buried 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, hugging each other. "There has not been a double burial found in the Neolithic period, much less two people hugging --and they really are hugging."
. . Menotti said she believed the two, almost certainly a man and a woman although that needs to be confirmed, died young because their teeth were mostly intact and not worn down.
Jan 30, 07: Evidence of a large settlement full of houses dating back to 2,600 BC has been discovered near the ancient stone monument of Stonehenge in southwest England, scientists said. They suspect inhabitants of the houses, forming the largest Neolithic village ever found in Britain, built the stone circle at Stonehenge --generally thought to have been a temple, burial ground or an astronomy site-- between 3,000 and 1,600 BC.
. . "We found the remains of eight houses", less than two miles from Stonehenge, scientists working on the seven-year Stonehenge Riverside Project detected dozens of hearths. They also uncovered the outlines of box beds and wooden dressers or cupboards and 4,600 year-old debris, including burned stones and animal bones strewn on the clay floors. The houses measured about 5 meters square and were located in a small valley north of Stonehenge that leads down to the River Avon. They are on either side of an avenue that leads from the river to a wooden version of Stonehenge.
. . The scientists believe Stonehenge and Durrington Walls were complementary sites. Neolithic people gathered at Durrington Walls for massive feasts and parties while Stonehenge was a memorial or burial site for the dead. "We are looking at least a century, probably several centuries of use, at both sites." Stonehenge's avenue is aligned on the midsummer solstice sunrise while the Durrington avenue corresponds with the midwinter solstice sunset, according to the researchers.
Jan 18, 07: An unusual archeological site discovered in Peru's mountains may hold clues to the history of the Chachapoya people, known as "cloud warriors", who fought the Inca Empire before the Spanish conquest.
. . The unfortified, possibly ceremonial structure is located in an area previously considered on the periphery of the Chachapoya domain in the upper Amazon region.
. . The Chachapoya civilization, which flourished between 800 and 1475, is known for its mountaintop citadels like Kuelpa and Vira Vira and well-preserved mummies found in tombs at the Lake of the Condors. Conquered by the Incas just before the Spanish conquest, they allied with the Spaniards after 1532, but fell victim to diseases brought from Europe and vanished.
Jan 16, 07: It was the ancient version of a last stand: Twelve clay bullets lined up and ready to be shot from slings in a desperate attempt to stop fierce invaders who soon would reduce much of the city to rubble. The discovery was made in the ruins of Hamoukar, an ancient settlement in northeastern Syria located just miles from the border with Iraq.
. . Thought to be one of the world's earliest cities and located in northern Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, it is the site of joint excavations by the University of Chicago and the Syrian Department of Antiquities.
. . Excavations have been going on at the site since 1999, but in digs conducted this past fall, researchers uncovered new evidence of the city's end and more clues about how urban life there may have begun.
Jan 13, 07: WALKER, Minn. - Archaeologists have discovered stone tools atop a hill in this northern Minnesota town that may be 13,000 to 14,000 years old. Archaeologists found 50 or more objects while digging through an area of about 50 square meters. The artifacts ranged from large hammer stones to small hand-held scrapers.
. . Mattson said the objects were found underneath a band of rock and gravel that appeared to have been deposited by melting glaciers and then covered by windblown sediment. Walker is about 190 miles northwest of the Twin Cities.
Jan 2, 07: Scientists in Italy believe they have uncovered a murder — 400 years after it is thought to have taken place. Historians have long suspected that Francesco de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and his second wife, Bianca Cappello, did not die of malaria but were poisoned —-by Francesco's brother, Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici, who was vying for the dukedom. For four centuries that theory remained just that —-a theory.
. . But following a study into the affair, forensic and toxicology experts at the University of Florence believe they have uncovered clear evidence of murder by poisoning. Francesco's "was a lethal dose, but progressive, and the symptoms were compatible with arsenic poisoning".
Jan 4, 07: Incan civilization was a technological marvel. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1532, they found an empire that spanned nearly 3,000 miles, from present-day Ecuador to Chile, all served by a high-altitude road system that included 200-foot suspension bridges built of woven reeds. It was the Inca who constructed Machu Picchu, a cloud city terraced into a precarious stretch of earth hanging between two Andean peaks. They even put together a kind of Bronze Age Internet, a system of messenger posts along the major roads. In one day, Incan runners amped on coca leaves could relay news some 150 miles down the network.
. . Yet, if centuries of scholarship are to be believed, the Inca, whose rule began 2,000 years after Homer, never figured out how to write. It's an enigma known as the Inca paradox, and for nearly 500 years it has stood as one of the great historical puzzles of the Americas. But now a Harvard anthropologist named Gary Urton may be close to untangling the mystery.
. . His quest revolves around strange, once-colorful bundles of knotted strings called khipu (KEY-poo). The Spanish invaders noticed the khipu soon after arriving but never understood their significance –-or how they worked.
. . Once, at the beginning of the 17th century, a group of Spaniards traveling in the central Peruvian highlands east of modern-day Lima encountered an old Indian carrying khipu that he insisted held a record of "all [the Spanish] had done, both the good and the bad." Angered, the Spanish burned the man's khipu, as they did countless others over the years.
. . Some of the knots did survive, though, and for centuries people wondered if the old man had been speaking the truth. Then, in 1923, an anthropologist named Leland Locke provided an answer: The khipu were files. Each knot represented a different number, arranged in a decimal system, and each bundle likely held census data or summarized the contents of storehouses. Roughly a third of the existing khipu don't follow the rules Locke identified, but he speculated that these "anomalous" khipu served some ceremonial or other function. The mystery was considered more or less solved.
. . Then, in the early 1990s, Urton, one of the world's leading Inca scholars, spotted several details that convinced him the khipu contained much more than tallies of llama sales. For example, some knots are tied right over left, others left over right. Urton came to think that this information must signal something. Could the knotted strings also be a form of writing? In 2003, Urton wrote a book outlining his theory, and in 2005 he published a paper in Science that showed how even khipu that follow Locke's rules could include place-names as well as numbers.
. . Urton knew that these findings were a tiny part of cracking the code and that he needed the help of people with different skills. So, early last year, he and a graduate student, Carrie Brezine, unveiled a computerized khipu database – a vast electronic repository that describes every knot on some 300 khipu in intricate detail. Then Urton and Brezine brought in outside researchers who knew little about anthropology but a lot about mathematics. Led by Belgian cryptographer Jean-Jacques Quisquater, they are now trying to shake meaning from the knots with a variety of pattern-finding algorithms, one based on a tool used to analyze long strings of DNA, the other similar to Google's PageRank algorithm. They've already identified thousands of repeated knot sequences that suggest words or phrases.
. . Now the team is closing in on what might be a writing system so unusual that it remained hidden for centuries in plain sight. If successful, the effort will rank with the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphics and will let Urton's team rewrite history. But how do you decipher something when it looks completely unlike any known written language – when you're not even sure it has meaning at all?
. . Bill Conklin, an architect and textile expert. As he studied the cords, Conklin had an isn't-that-funny insight: The knots that connect the small pendant strings to the primary cord are always tied the same way, but sometimes they face forward and sometimes backward. Startled, Urton soon noticed additional construction details – such as whether a fiber had been dyed to have a bluish or a reddish tint. All told, Urton has found seven additional bits of binary information that might signal something. Perhaps one means "read this as a word, not a number." Perhaps the binary code served as a kind of markup language, allowing the Inca to make notes on top of Locke's number-recording system. And perhaps the 200 or so anomalous khipu don't follow Locke's rules because they've transcended them.
Nov 30, 06: Carvings about 70,000 years old on a snake-like rock in a cave in Botswana indicate that Stone Age people developed religious rituals far earlier than previously believed, a researcher said. Ancestors of Botswana's San people apparently ground away at a natural outcrop about 2 meters high and 6 meters long to heighten its similarity to a python's head and body.
. . The previous oldest archaeological evidence of religious worship is about 40,000 years old from European caves. The Botswana find bolsters evidence that modern humans originated in Africa, along with religion and culture.
. . Coulson said the python-like rock had 300-400 carved indentations. In flickering firelight, the patterns might have seemed like scales and given the impression of movement to the rock as part of some sacred rite. Scores of carved stone items, including 115 points and 22 burned red spearheads, were abandoned on the floor of the cave beneath the snake-like rock. Many had been brought more than 200 km across the Kalahari Desert.
. . In San mythology, humankind descended from a python, and ancient streambeds nearby were believed to have been created by a shake slithering around the hills in search of water.
. . The scientists believe the cave was a purely sacred site because there were no signs of wider habitation --animal bones, tools or cooking fires.
Nov 29, 06: An ancient astronomical calculator made at the end of the 2nd century BC was amazingly accurate and more complex than any instrument for the next 1,000 years, scientists said.
. . The Antikythera Mechanism is the earliest known device to contain an intricate set of gear wheels. It was retrieved from a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901 but until now what it was used for has been a mystery.
. . Although the remains are fragmented in 82 brass pieces, scientists from Britain, Greece and the United States have reconstructed a model of it using high-resolution X-ray tomography. They believe their findings could force a rethink of the technological potential of the ancient Greeks.
. . "It could be described as the first known calculator", said Professor Mike Edmunds, a professor of astrophysics at Cardiff U. The calculator could add, multiply, divide and subtract. It was also able to align the number of lunar months with years and display where the sun and the moon were in the zodiac.
. . Edmunds and his colleagues discovered it had a dial that predicted when there was a likely to be a lunar or solar eclipse. It also took into account the elliptical orbit of the moon.
. . "What was not quite so apparent before was quite how beautifully designed this was." The model of the calculator shows 37 gear wheels housed in a wooden case with inscriptions on the cover that related to the planetary movements. "Newly deciphered inscriptions that relate to the planetary movements make it plausible that the mechanism originally also had gearings to predict the motion of the planets", he said.
Nov 21, 06: Archaeologists said they have unearthed 22 graves in northern Peru containing a trove of pre-Inca artifacts, including the first "tumi" ceremonial knives ever discovered by archaeologists rather than looted by thieves.
Oct 27, 06: It was the jewel of Pompeii's libertines: a brothel decorated with frescoes of erotic figures believed to be the most popular in the ancient Roman city.
. . The Lupanare —-which derives its name from the Latin word "lupa", or "prostitute"-— was presented to the public again today following a yearlong, $253,000 restoration to clean up its frescoes and fix the structure. [In Italian, it's "puta".}
. . Pompeii was destroyed in A.D. 79 by a cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Among the buildings was the two-story brothel with 10 rooms —-five on each floor-— and a latrine. Each room on the ground floor bears a fresco of a different sex scene painted over its door — possibly suggesting the prostitute's specialty. The upper floor was for higher-ranking clients. The stone beds were covered with mattresses and each room has names engraved in its walls.
. . The brothel —-once centrally located near the city's forum and the market-— is open to the public as part of the regular tour of the ruins of Pompeii, east of Naples. Libertine habits flourished in Pompeii, and considerable evidence testifies that the city's wealthy merchants and visiting sailors had a taste for eroticism.
. . The prostitutes were slaves and were usually of Greek or other foreign origin, and they commanded prices up to eight times the cost of a portion of wine.
Oct 22, 06: The arrest of tomb robbers led archaeologists to the graves of three royal dentists, protected by a curse and hidden in the desert sands for thousands of years in the shadow of Egypt's most ancient pyramid, officials announced.
. . The thieves launched their own dig one summer night two months ago but were apprehended. That led archaeologists to the three tombs, one of which included an inscription warning that anyone who violated the sanctity of the grave would be eaten by a crocodile and a snake.
. . The tombs, which did not contain their mummies, were built of mud-brick and limestone, not the pure limestone preferred by ancient Egypt's upper class. They date back more than 4,000 years to the 5th Dynasty, and were meant to honor a chief dentist and two others who treated the pharaohs and their families. Although their services were in demand by the powerful, the dentists likely did not share in their wealth.
. . Although archaeologists have been exploring Egypt's ruins intensively for more than 150 years, Hawass believes only 30% of what lies hidden beneath the sands has been uncovered. Excavation continues at Saqqara, he said, and his team expects to find more tombs in the area.
Oct 18, 06: Only one of the ancient wonders of the world still survives --now history lovers are being invited to choose a new list of seven.
. . Among 21 locations shortlisted for the worldwide vote is Stonehenge, the only British landmark selected. The 5,000-year-old stones on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, will be up against sites including the Acropolis in Athens; the Statue of Liberty in New York; and the last remaining original wonder, the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo.
. . An original list of nearly 200 sites nominated by the public was narrowed to 21 by the organizers and experts.
. . About 20 million votes have already been lodged, including many from India, for the Taj Mahal; China, for the Great Wall and from Peru for Machu Picchu, the fortress city of the Incas. The other original seven wonders of the ancient world were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon; the Statue of Zeus at Olympia; the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus; the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus; the Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
. . The only criterion for the new list is that the landmarks were built or discovered before 2000.
Oct 11, 06: A UK-led team is challenging cherished ideas on Greek mythology by proposing an alternative site for Ithaca. The island was said to be the home of Odysseus, whose 10-year journey back from the Trojan War is chronicled in Homer's epic poem the Odyssey.
. . Most people think the modern-day Ionian island of Ithaki is the location. But geologists are this week sinking a borehole on nearby Kefalonia in an attempt to test whether its western peninsula of Paliki is the real site.
. . The scientists hope to find evidence that the peninsula once stood proud, separated from Kefalonia by a narrow, navigable marine channel. It is only in the last 2,500-3,000 years --and after Homer's time-- that the channel has been filled in, the team contends.
Oct 11, 06: A land bridge between Alaska and Siberia flooded to make the Bering Strait 11,000 years ago, more than 1,000 years earlier than previously thought, U.S. researchers reported. This would have closed off human migration by foot across the bridge 1,000 years earlier, too.
. . They found places on the ocean floor where sediment deposits were deep enough to act as a kind of geologic clock. The researchers sampled the cores to identify skeletons of animals, known as foraminifera, that can be traced to specific water and atmospheric temperatures. The samples were also radiocarbon dated.
. . For decades, most scientists believed that the first people to settle in the Americas were the Clovis people, and that they came via the Bering land bridge between 11,000 and 12,000 years ago. But recent evidence has suggested that humans came much earlier.
Oct 6, 06: Swiss researchers have discovered the 100,000-year-old remains of a previously unknown giant camel species in central Syria. The camel's shoulders stood three meters high and it was around four meters tall, as big as a giraffe or an elephant.
. . A group of humans apparently killed the camel while it was drinking from a spring, said Tensorer, adding that 100,000-year-old human remains were discovered nearby at the once water-rich site in the desert steppe.
Oct 4, 06: Mexican archeologists have found what may be the most significant Aztec ruin in decades, with the unearthing of an altar and a monolith in the busy heart of Mexico City, Mayor Alejandro Encinas said.
Sept 30, 06: Archaeologists said they had uncovered decorated human skulls dating back as long as 9,500 years ago, from a burial site near the Syrian capital Damascus. "The human skulls date back between 9,500 and 9,000 years ago, (on which) lifelike faces were modelled with clay earth ... then colored to accentuate the features."
Sept 14, 06: A stone block from Mexico thousands of years old apparently inscribed with a previously unknown writing may be the oldest text in the New World, an international team of archaeologists said. It was taken from debris excavated out of a gravel quarry in the Mexican state Veracruz.
. . This find lights the hope of future discoveries of written records detailing the Olmecs, the likely creators of the block and the ancient civilization that in many respects was the progenitor of all later complex societies in Mesoamerica, such as the Maya and the Aztecs.
. . Surrounding the Cascajal block were ceramic sherds, fragments of clay figurines and broken stone artifacts. Based on their design, the researchers dated the slab back to 3,100 years or before, at least 400 years before writing was thought to have first appeared in the Americas.
. . Carved of the mineral serpentine, the block weighs about 26 pounds and measures roughly 35 cm long, 20 wide and 12 thick. The stone is not especially hard, and the researchers find evidence on the block that had been carved repeatedly and erased.
. . No one yet knows what the writing on the Cascajal block actually says. The researchers hope one day excavations will turn up the equivalent of a Rosetta stone, an artifact that bears both Olmec writing and translations in one or more known languages.
. . The reason archaeologists have not found other examples of Olmec writing could be that other texts were inscribed in wood and did not survive. Houston also suggested Olmec writing might not have been recognized as such until now.
. . "My colleagues and I have recently found a small baked ceramic figurine of a person, down the back of which are almost certainly other examples of the script we found on the Cascajal block that we would not have recognized before its discovery", Houston said.
Sept 10, 06: As the devout among the ancients knew well, nothing spices up a boring sermon like having your own sacrifice pit parked in front of your church. Throw in a secret tunnel to the death chamber, and you've got a churchgoing experience that no suburban mega-church, no matter how many good parking spots it offers, could ever match.
. . An ancient Temple of Apollo located amid the ruins of Hierapolis, the "sacred city", in Western Turkey suggests such attractions may have been something of a franchise among temples during the Roman era. Hierapolis was a Greek city famed for its hot springs that the Romans took over in 133 B.C. Apollo, the Sun god, was the chief deity of the city, and Italian researchers from the University of Lecce reveal some of the inner workings of the temple there.
. . The temple's ruins rest on a plateau running along the eastern side of the Menderes River, which itself runs along a geological fault. The fault produced Hierapolis' hot springs, popular with the bath-loving Romans, and also poisonous gases. Those poisonous gases, in this case it seems suffocating quantities of carbon dioxide, appear to be one of the secrets of the Temple of Apollo.
Aug 28, 06: The second largest volcanic eruption in human history was much larger than previously thought, scientists say. The Bronze Age eruption of Thera near mainland Greece would have devastated ancient civilisations in the region. Ash would likely have plunged much of the Mediterranean into darkness, and tsunami would have wrecked local ports. A survey around what is now the island arc of Santorini shows volcanic pumice to a depth of 80m covering the ocean floor for 20-30km in all directions.
. . By examining echoes from volcanic deposits on the ocean floor, researchers have shown that the Aegean eruption of Thera 3,600 years ago may have propelled 60 cubic km of magma out of the volcano's crater. The new estimates suggest that the blast was 50% larger than had earlier been supposed.
. . The eruption dwarfs even that of Krakatoa, which ejected about 25 cubic km of molten rock, ash and pumice in 1883, killing 40,000 inhabitants of Java and Sumatra in just a few hours.
. . An eruption of Thera's size would have had drastic implications for the people living in the region. No bodies were found in the nearby settlement of Akrotiri, which was buried in ash in a similar way to Roman Pompeii. The city had been evacuated shortly beforehand.
. . But giant waves from the blast would have devastated ports and coastal areas. Tsunami deposits have been found on Crete and the west coast of Turkey. During ash fallout, an area of at least 300,000 sq km would have been plunged into total darkness, say the researchers. Sulphur discharged into the atmosphere would have formed droplets, causing significant cooling of the Earth's surface.
. . Some scientists have suggested that the eruption may be connected to the decline of the Minoan people, an ancient sea-faring civilisation living on nearby Crete. Others have even tried to link the event to the legendary disappearance of the island of Atlantis.
Aug 25, 06: A massive statue of one of Egypt's greatest pharaohs, Ramses II, rolled through the streets of Cairo to a new home near the Pyramids on Friday to escape the corrosive pollution of its former spot in a crowded transit hub.
Aug 23, 06: Skeletons found at an unearthed site in Mexico show Aztecs captured, ritually sacrificed and partially ate several hundred people traveling with invading Spanish forces in 1520.
Aug 23, 06: Archaeologists in Israel have unearthed an ancient water system which was modified by the conquering Persians to turn the desert into a paradise. The network of reservoirs, drain pipes and underground tunnels served one of the grandest palaces in the biblical kingdom of Judea.
. . Archaeologists first discovered the palace in 1954, a structure built on a 2.4 hectare site where the communal Ramat Rachel farm now stands. Recent excavations unearthed nearly 70 square meters of a unique water system. "They had found a huge palace ... even nicer than the palaces in Jerusalem, from the late Iron Age to the end of the biblical period in the 7th century", Oded Lipschits, a Tel Aviv University archaeologist, said.
. . The infrastructure of the palace was remodeled throughout the centuries to fit the needs of the Babylonians, Persians, Romans and Hasmoneans who ruled the Holy Land, said Lipschits, who heads the dig with an academic from Germany's University of Heidelberg.
. . But it was the Persians, who took control of the region around 539 BC from the Babylonians, who renovated the water system and turned it into a thing of beauty.
Aug 7, 06: Christopher Columbus, the man credited with discovering the Americas (last!), was a greedy and vindictive tyrant who saved some of his most violent punishments for his own followers, according to a document uncovered by Spanish historians.
. . As governor and viceroy of the Indies, Columbus imposed iron discipline on the first Spanish colony in the Americas, in what is now the Caribbean country of Dominican Republic. Punishments included cutting off people's ears and noses, parading women naked through the streets and selling them into slavery.
. . One man caught stealing corn had his nose and ears cut off, was placed in shackles and was then auctioned off as a slave. A woman who dared to suggest that Columbus was of lowly birth was punished by his brother Bartolomé, who had also travelled to the Caribbean. She was stripped naked and paraded around the colony on the back of a mule. "Bartolomé ordered that her tongue be cut out", said Ms Varela. "Christopher congratulated him for defending the family."
. . The document was written by a member of an order of religious knights, the Order of Calatrava, who had been asked to investigate the allegations against Columbus by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, who ruled Spain together at the time. The report, by Francisco de Bobadilla, lay undiscovered in a state archive in the Spanish city of Valladolid until last year.
. . Columbus and his brothers were forced to travel back to Spain. Columbus was in chains but, although he never recovered his titles, he was set free and allowed to sail back to the Caribbean.
Aug 7, 06: A 6-inch-long gold and platinum dagger believed to be 5,000 years old has been unearthed in central Bulgaria, the archaeologist leading the excavations said.
. . Archaeologist Martin Hristov said his team discovered more than 500 tiny golden rings that appeared to be pieces of ancient jewelry. Hristov's team has found more than 15,000 miniature ancient golden rings and beads near Dabene — all dating back about 5,000 to 5,200 years. They form exquisite golden jewels said to resemble the adornment found by German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann when he discovered the site of ancient Troy.
. . "The mounds near Dabene seem part of a complex --some of them resemble tombs, while others appear to be ritual sites where ancient people buried gifts for the gods."
Aug 4, 06: An almost 7,000-year old stone tablet found in Bulgaria bears carvings that might turn out to be one of the world's oldest inscriptions, a prominent Bulgarian archaeologist said.
. . The collector asked to remain anonymous, because he risked criminal prosecution for looting or criminal possession of antiquities. The tablet, about three inches, carries five distinct signs each made up of two elements, Ovcharov said. "This could be the prototype of a script", he added.
. . Two similar tablets also dating back to the 5th millenium B.C. have also been found in Bulgaria many years ago. It could be argued that their carvings, although rather schematic, are part of the same proto-script.
Aug 4, 06: Previously hidden writings of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes are being uncovered with powerful X-ray beams nearly 800 years after a Christian monk scrubbed off the text and wrote over it with prayers.
. . Over the past week, researchers at Stanford University's Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park have been using X-rays to decipher a fragile 10th century manuscript that contains the only copies of some of Archimedes' most important works.
. . The X-rays, generated by a particle accelerator, cause tiny amounts of iron left by the original ink to glow without harming the delicate goatskin parchment. It takes about 12 hours to scan one page using an X-ray beam about the size of a human hair, and researchers expect to decipher up to 15 pages that resisted modern imaging techniques. After each new page is decoded, it is posted online for the public to see.
. . Born in the 3rd century B.C., Archimedes is considered one of ancient Greece's greatest mathematicians, perhaps best known for discovering the principle of buoyancy while taking a bath. The 174-page manuscript, known as the Archimedes Palimpsest, contains the only copies of treatises on flotation, gravity and mathematics.
. . Scholars believe a scribe copied them onto the goatskin parchment from the original Greek scrolls. Three centuries later, a monk scrubbed off the Archimedes text and used the parchment to write prayers.
July 31, 06: Ancient Hawaiians started building their monumental temples at least three centuries earlier than previously thought, a new study suggests. They also spent more time building them, renovating and constructing new temples in waves depending on the island's political situation.
. . "This research provides conclusive evidence that the Maui temple network grew and expanded over a period at least five centuries." Previous research using fewer samples dated the first temples no earlier than 1600 A.D.
. . The Hawaiian Islands have been occupied since about 300 A.D., when Polynesian settlers made their way over in large voyaging canoes.
July 31, 06: Life in the Iron Age may have been nasty, brutish and short but people still found time to style their hair and polish their fingernails --and that was just the men.
. . These are the findings of scientists who have been examining the latest preserved prehistoric bodies to emerge from Ireland's peat bogs --the first to be found in Europe for 20 years. Manicured fingernails and evidence of good diet seem to indicate that many of those who ended up in the bogs were from the upper classes.
. . One of the bodies, churned up by a peat-cutting machine at Clonycavan near Dublin in 2003, had raised Mohawk-style hair, held in place with gel imported from abroad. It was a gel made of plant oil and pine resin imported from southwestern France or Spain, showing trade between Ireland and southern Europe was taking place 2,300 years ago.
. . While the last two centuries have seen hundreds of bog bodies recovered from northern Europe's wetlands --where they were preserved by the unique chemical composition of the peat-- many were not examined in detail because techniques to further preserve them had not been perfected.
. . Archaeologists have always puzzled over why the bodies ended up in peat bogs and why so many of them show signs of violent death, with much debate about whether they were executed for crimes or ritually slain as human sacrifices. Both Clonycavan Man and Oldcroghan Man --who were in their 20s when they died-- met grisly ends, the latter in particular bearing the scars of horrific torture, including having his nipples cut almost through. Like several other bog bodies, Oldcroghan Man had been beheaded. Other examples, such as Denmark's famous Tollund Man, discovered in 1950, still had the rope used to strangle them around their necks.
. . Eamonn Kelly, keeper of Irish antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland, has developed a new theory about the bodies based on his discovery that nearly all of the Irish examples were placed in the borders immediately surrounding royal land or on tribal boundaries.
. . Another theory, prompted by the writings of Roman historian Tacitus from around the same era, is that the perpetrators of "shameful crimes" were put into the bog in order to trap their souls in a watery limbo where the body did not rot.
July 24, 06: A giant statue of Pharaoh Ramses II will be moved next month from a congested square in downtown Cairo to a more serene home near the Great Pyramids in a bid to save it from corrosive pollution. Exhaust fumes from trains, cars and buses, as well as subway vibrations, are damaging the more than 3,200-year-old granite statue at Ramses Square, its home since the early 1950s, when it was taken from a temple at the site of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis. The 125-ton statue —-a popular feature on postcards and guide books-— will become part of a new museum about a mile from the pyramids.
July 22, 06: It seems a typical scene of urban decay: abandoned buildings, crumbling walls, trash and broken wine bottles. Yet it's more than 1,500 years old. Engineers uncovered these ruins of an ancient Byzantine port during drilling for a huge underground rail tunnel.
. . Like Romans, Athenians and residents of other great historic cities, the people of Istanbul can hardly put a shovel in the ground without digging up something important. But the ancient port uncovered last November is of a different scale: It has grown into the largest archaeological dig in Istanbul's history, and the port's extent is only now being revealed.
. . Archaeologists call it the "Port of Theodosius", after the emperor of Rome and Byzantium who died in A.D. 395. They expect to gain insights into ancient commercial life in the city, once called Constantinople, that was the capital of the eastern Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. This was the ancient harbor of Byzantium.
July 20, 06: Genghis Khan --notorious as the ruthless, bloodthirsty creator of an empire that spanned Asia and Europe-- also laid the foundations for the Renaissance, China's Xinhua news agency said.
. . "Genghis Khan introduced papermaking and printing technologies to Europe and pioneered cultural exchanges between Asia and Europe. He brought cultural progress that helped liberate the Europeans from the bondage of theology --in this sense, his expeditions served as a catalyst for the Renaissance." Genghis Khan's expeditions to Europe also reopened the Silk Road and laid the path for Marco Polo's historic trip to China.
. . History is divided on when the Renaissance started and some historians believe there were a number of Renaissance periods in Europe starting from the 12th century. The Italian Renaissance in the 15th century is perhaps the most famous, during which the arts and sciences, particularly mathematics and astronomy, flourished.
July 20, 06: At the end of the last Ice Age, the Sahara Desert was just as dry and uninviting as it is today. But sandwiched between two periods of extreme dryness were a few millennia of plentiful rainfall and lush vegetation.
. . During these few thousand years, prehistoric humans left the congested Nile Valley and established settlements around rain pools, green valleys, and rivers. Around 10,500 years ago, a sudden burst of monsoon rains over the vast desert transformed the region into habitable land. "The climate change at [10,500 years ago] which turned most of the [3.8 million square mile] large Sahara into a savannah-type environment happened within a few hundred years only, certainly within less than 500 years."
. . A timeline of Sahara occupation:
. . * 22,000 to 10,500 years ago: The Sahara was devoid of any human occupation outside the Nile Valley and extended 400 km further south than it does today.
. . * 10,500 to 9,000 years ago: Monsoon rains begin sweeping into the Sahara, transforming the region into a habitable area swiftly settled by Nile Valley dwellers.
. . * 9,000 to 7,300 years ago: Continued rains, vegetation growth, and animal migrations lead to well established human settlements, including the introduction of domesticated livestock such as sheep and goats.
. . * 7,300 to 5,500 years ago: Retreating monsoonal rains initiate desiccation in the Egyptian Sahara, prompting humans to move to remaining habitable niches in Sudanese Sahara. The end of the rains and return of desert conditions throughout the Sahara after 5,500 coincides with population return to the Nile Valley and the beginning of pharaonic society.
July 18, 06: An apartheid society existed in early Anglo-Saxon Britain, research suggests. Scientists believe a small population of migrants from Germany, Holland and Denmark established a segregated society when they arrived in England. The researchers think the incomers changed the local gene pool by using their economic advantage to out-breed the native population.
. . The team tells a Royal Society journal that this may explain the abundance of Germanic genes in England today. There are a very high number of Germanic male-line ancestors in England's current population. Genetic research has revealed the country's gene pool contains between 50 and 100% Germanic Y-chromosomes. Estimates range between 10,000 and 200,000 Anglo-Saxons migrating into England between 5th and 7th Century AD, compared with a native population of about two million.
. . To understand what might have happened all of those years ago, UK scientists used computer simulations to model the gene pool changes that would have occurred with the arrival of such small numbers of migrants.
. . The team used historical evidence that suggested native Britons were at a substantial economic and social disadvantage compared to the Anglo-Saxon settlers. The researchers believe this may have led to a reproductive imbalance giving rise to an ethnic divide.
. . Ancient texts, such as the laws of Ine, reveal that the life of an Anglo-Saxon was valued more than that of a native's. "The native Britons were genetically and culturally absorbed by the Anglo-Saxons over a period of as little as a few hundred years."
June 29, 06: Bones and tusks dating back 400,000 years are the earliest signs in Britain of ancient humans butchering elephants for meat, say archaeologists. They were a tribe of the early humans around at the time, known as Homo heidelbergensis.
. . Remains of a single adult elephant surrounded by stone tools were found in northwest Kent during work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Scientists believe hunters used the tools to cut off the meat, after killing the animal with wooden spears.
. . The elephant was twice the size of those living today. It would have been eaten raw, as there is no evidence that fire was used for cooking at the time. "There does seem to be increasing evidence that they were focusing on hunting only the larger animals with more meat and suggestions that they were living in larger groups than we've generally thought."
June 27, 06: A grouping of granite blocks along a grassy Amazon hilltop may be the vestiges of a centuries-old astronomical observatory —-a find archaeologists say indicates early rainforest inhabitants were more sophisticated than previously believed.
. . The 127 blocks, some as high as 3 meters tall, are spaced at regular intervals around the hill, like a crown 30 meters in diameter. On the shortest day of the year —Dec. 21— the shadow of one of the blocks disappears when the sun is directly above it.
. . She believes it was once inhabited by the ancestors of the Palikur Indians, and while the blocks have not yet been submitted to carbon dating, she says pottery shards near the site indicate they are pre-Columbian and maybe older --as much as 2,000 years old.
. . Last month, archaeologists working on a hillside north of Lima, Peru, announced the discovery of the oldest astronomical observatory in the Western Hemisphere --giant stone carvings, apparently 4,200 years old, that align with sunrise and sunset on Dec. 21.
June 21, 06: The fundamentals of genetic science may help date centuries-old works by Shakespeare and Rembrandt. It could be a new benchmark for the science world's oddest crossover research. The newly-announced technique, which proposes to assign years to a slew of previously undated books and art, applies the same thinking behind genetic mutation studies to determine deterioration rates of the devices used in early printing. It was thought up, naturally, by a biologist.
. . Before methods were modernized in the mid-19th century, printers used either wood blocks or copper plates to transfer literature and art to paper. To save money, these plates were reused over several decades to produce multiple editions of the same print.
. . The blocks and plates would wear down over time, affecting the quality of copies printed in the later stages of a plate's run. In the case of wood blocks, Hedges said, this created a noticeable increase in the number of line breaks in a print, while copper plates showed age in images that became gradually more faded.
. . Hedges applied his theory to a 16th-century atlas created with wood blocks and came up with a date just two months shy of another independent test. "Many prints by Rembrandt are undated and I would like to try the method on them", he noted, as well as "Shakespeare's undated plays 'Hamlet' and 'Romeo and Juliet.'"
June 20, 06: The Britons of 250,000 years ago were a good deal more sophisticated than they are sometimes given credit for. Giant flint handaxes have been unearthed at a site at Cuxton in Kent from old sand deposits in a front garden. The tools display exquisite, almost flamboyant, workmanship not associated with this period until now. One of The axes measured 307mm in length.
. . "It is a site where there would once have been a slow-moving river. At some point, a Palaeolithic man was doing something there, left his handaxes, and they got covered up." It was probably used to butcher prey, which at that time would have included rhino, elephants, large deer and an extinct type of cattle known as aurochs.
. . The period from about 400,000 to 250,000 years ago is known to have been one of intense occupation; not by modern humans (Homo sapiens), who were not in Europe at this time, but by what is now an extinct human form evolving into Homo neandertalensis, the Neandertals.
. . "This points to their mental capabilities. It shows that they could hold in their minds the idea of the shape they wanted to make. There are also technical traits in terms of how they were sharpened which would have to have been preconceived. To my mind, this helps prove that these people were not so far away from us as some would think and also that there were probably using language."
June 22, 06: Ancient beads that may represent the oldest attempt by people at self-decoration have been identified from sites in Algeria and Israel. The beads, made from shells with holes bored into them, date to around 100,000 years ago, some 25,000 years older than similar beads discovered two years ago in South Africa.
June 1, 06: Archaeologists report that they have found evidence that ancient people grew fig trees some 11,400 years ago, making the fruit the earliest domesticated crop. The find dates use of figs some 1,000 years before the first evidence that crops such as wheat, barley and legumes were being cultivated in the Middle East. Remains of the ancient fruits were found at Gilgal I, a village site in the Jordan Valley north of ancient Jericho. Gilgal was abandoned more than 11,000 years ago.
. . Other food remains found there included acorns and wild oats and wild barley, but no other domesticated crops, they said.
. . In this variety, known as parthenocarpic figs, the fruit develops without insect pollination and is prevented from falling off the tree, which allows it to become soft, sweet, and edible. But because such figs do not produce seeds, they cannot reproduce unless people propagate them, perhaps by planting shoots or branches. Fig trees will grow this way. "This edible fig would not have survived if not for human intervention."
. . Parthenocarpic: literally meaning virgin fruit. The production of fruit without fertilization. The fruit is therefore seedless. eg: pineapples, naval oranges, and bananas.
. . The carbonized figs were not distorted, which, the researchers said, suggested they may have been dried for human consumption.
June 1, 06: An underwater explorer who found the Titanic and a team of international scientists will soon survey waters off the Greek island of Crete for clues to a once-powerful Bronze Age-era civilization.
. . The expedition about 110 km northwest of Crete aims to learn more about the Minoans, who flourished during the Bronze Age, and seeks to better understand seafaring four millennia ago. U.S. researchers say the Minoans were engaged in broad-based trade with other civilizations, such as the Mycenaeans on mainland Greece and perhaps with peoples as far away as the present-day Middle East.
. . "No one knows who the Minoans were", said Robert Ballard. "They don't think they were Greeks ... they think they might actually be Egyptian. Obviously a lot of these mysteries will be solved if we find their ships and especially their cargoes."
. . The archeologists also hope for new insight into shipping in the Bronze Age, which lasted from about 3000 BC to about 1100 BC and witnessed a dramatic expansion in sea trade that went beyond the Aegean region. Much like today, they believe, shipping was comprised of large transit vessels that could sail for long distances and local peddlers who stuck close to the shore.
June 1, 06: A collection of charred scraps kept in a Greek museum's storerooms are all that remains of what archaeologists say is Europe's oldest surviving book --which may hold a key to understanding early monotheistic beliefs.
. . More than four decades after the Derveni papyrus was found in a 2,400-year-old nobleman's grave in northern Greece, researchers said they are close to uncovering new text --through high-tech digital analysis-- from the blackened fragments left after the manuscript was burnt on its owner's funeral pyre.
. . Large sections of the mid-4th century B.C. book --a philosophical treatise on ancient religion-- were read years ago, but never officially published. U.S. imaging and scanning techniques will considerably expand and clarify that text.
. . The scroll, originally several yards of papyrus rolled around two wooden runners, was found half burnt in 1962. It dates to around 340 B.C., during the reign of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. "It is the oldest surviving book, if you can use that word for a scroll, in western tradition."
. . Greek philosophy expert Apostolos Pierris said the text may even be a century older. "It was probably written by somebody from the circle of the philosopher Anaxagoras, in the second half of the 5th century B.C." . Veleni said: "We were now able to read even the most carbonized sections, as there were pieces that were completely blackened and nobody could make out whether there were letters on them."
. . The scroll contains a philosophical treatise on a lost poem describing the birth of the gods and other beliefs focusing on Orpheus, the mythical musician who visited the underworld to reclaim his dead love and enjoyed a strong cult following in the ancient world.
. . The Orpheus cult raised the notion of a single creator god --as opposed to the multitude of deities the ancient Greeks believed in-- and influenced later monotheistic faiths. "In a way, it was a precursor of Christianity", Pierris said.
May 30, 06: For the first time, Stanford researchers have used novel statistical computer modeling to simulate demographic processes affecting the population of Tuscany over a 2,500-year time span. Rigorous tests used by the researchers have ruled out a genetic link between ancient Etruscans, the early inhabitants of central Italy, and the region's modern day residents.
. . The findings suggest that something either suddenly wiped out the Etruscans or the group represented a social elite that had little in common with the people who became the true ancestors of Tuscans.
. . Some ancient historians, including Herodotus (circa 430 B.C.), suggested that the Etruscans came to Italy from Asia Minor. But most modern archaeologists, along with Dionysius of Halicarnassos (circa 100 B.C.), believe that the Etruscan civilization developed locally from the 10th century B.C. Iron Age Villanovan culture. In the second century B.C., the Etruscans were given Roman citizenship, and soon afterward their language disappeared from records, the paper explains.
. . "The Etruscans seem to be quite different in many ways from other ancient Italians, and archaeological evidence indicates that they spoke a non-Indo-European language" Mountain said. "Because of the cultural and linguistic shifts, scholars see the Etruscans as an enigma."
May 22, 06: Egyptian authorities have given the go ahead for the underwater exploration of what appears to be a Roman city submerged in the Mediterranean. Zahi Hawass said that an excavation team had found the ruins of the Roman city 35 km east of the Suez Canal on Egypt's north coast.
. . Archaeologists had found buildings, bathrooms, ruins of a Roman fortress, ancient coins, bronze vases and pieces of pottery that all date back to the Roman era, the statement said. Egypt's Roman era lasted from 30 BC to 337 AD. The excavation team also found four bridges that belonged to a submerged castle, part of which had been discovered on the Mediterranean coastline in 1910.
. . The statement said evidence indicated that part of the site was on the coast and part of it submerged in the sea. The area marked Egypt's eastern border during the Roman era.
May 14, 06: Archaeologists discovered a pre-colonial astrological observatory possibly 2,000 years old in the Amazon basin near French Guiana, said a report. "Only a society with a complex culture could have built such a monument."
. . The observatory was built of 127 blocks of granite each three meters high and regularly placed in circles in an open field. The blocks are positioned to mark the winter solstice. In December, the path of the sun allows rays to pass through a hole in one of the blocks, possibly to calculate agricultural activity and religious rituals.
. . Its exact age has been difficult to determine, but based on ceramic fragments found nearby, archaeologists estimate it between 500 and 2,000 years old.
May 12, 06: A survey of British skulls from the early part of the New Stone Age, or Neolithic, shows societies then were more violent than was supposed. Blunt instruments such as clubs were responsible for most of the traumas. Early Neolithic Britons had a one in 20 chance of suffering a skull fracture at the hands of someone else and a one in 50 chance of dying from their injuries. Details were presented at a meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
. . This is not the first time human-induced injuries have been identified in Neolithic people; but the authors say it is the first study to give some idea of the overall frequency of such traumas.
May 9, 06: A Greek fisherman has handed over to authorities a large section of an ancient bronze statue brought up in his nets in the Aegean Sea. The male torso was located last week near the eastern Aegean island of Kalymnos.
. . The one-meter high find belonged to a statue of a horseback soldier, and would have been part of the cargo of an ancient ship that sank in the area. It was taken to Athens to be cleaned and dated.
. . Together with the torso, the fisherman brought up two small bronze pieces believed to belong to the statue, and a wine-jar from the ancient city of Knidos --in what is now Turkey-- dating from the first century B.C, the ministry said.
. . The seas around Kalymnos are rich in ancient wrecks and have yielded several impressive finds in recent years, including a large female statue now exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The fisherman who netted it in 1995 earned a euro440,000 (US$558,000) reward.
May 6, 06: Deep beneath pavement pounded by tourists on Paris' Left Bank lies an ancient path --a 2,000-year-old Roman road recently excavated during construction work.
Apr 27, 06: The discovery of an olive branch buried in volcanic ash for centuries is helping scientists pinpoint the date of one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in the last 10,000 years.
. . The finding could force archeologists to revise historical timelines for civilizations inhabiting the Mediterranean basin during the Late Bronze Age. Cultures traditionally thought to have been trading and influencing one another might have actually existed at different times.
. . About 3,500 years ago, a volcano on the Greek island of Thera erupted with such force that it created a column of smoke and debris 35 km high and flung ash to places as far away as China, Greenland and the western United States. The blast also triggered 12-meter-high tsunamis that slammed into the island of Crete about 110 km away and likely contributed to the downfall of its famed Minoan civilization.
. . Despite its widespread influence, the precise date of the eruption has been hard to pin down. Some archeologists have put the event at around 1500 B.C. Radiocarbon experts, meanwhile, have consistently dated the event to about 100 years earlier. Now, two new radiocarbon studies detailed in the April 28 issue of the journal Science support the other radiocarbon studies.
. . Another study by geologist Walter Friedrich of the University of Aarhus in Denmark and colleagues, uses a single branch to pinpoint the time of death for an olive tree believed to have been buried alive during the eruption. Together, the two studies strongly suggest an eruption date of somewhere between 1600 and 1660 B.C.
. . One important implication of the new eruption date is that civilizations in Crete, Cyprus and Greece couldn’t have traded with Egypt’s New Kingdom as traditionally thought because the latter didn't exist at the time. Instead of Egypt, these civilizations were probably interacting with the Canaanites, a culture that occupied the Levant, a region that today includes Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.
. . It could also explain some anomalies that have long puzzled historians. For example, it's been speculated that there is a connection between Anat, a virgin goddess of war worshipped in the Levant, and Athena, one of the most important goddesses in Greek culture.
Apr 5, 06: Archeologists have discovered a huge 1,500-year-old pre-Hispanic pyramid in a working class district of Mexico City. The unnamed pyramid has the same sized base as the giant Pyramid of the Moon at the famous archeological site of Teotihuacan, an hour's drive northeast of the capital.
. . The latest find was built by the same people who constructed Teotihuacan between A.D. 400 and 500, and has evidence that it was used for ceremonial purposes.
. . Houses built illegally on one side of the hill have also damaged the pyramid, which is about 60 feet tall, half the height of the Pyramid of the Moon. The site overlooks a vast suburban neighborhood, considered one of Mexico City's poorest and most dangerous. A periphery fence is to be built around it to stop vehicles from entering and damaging it more.
. . The find is one of many examples in Mexico of important pre-Hispanic sites that have become Catholic places of worship. After the Spanish conquest, conquistadors and envoys of the church superimposed their beliefs on indigenous life. Churches were built atop ancient shrines and pyramids in sites around Mexico, including Chalma and Cholula near Mexico City. The Mexican capital's massive cathedral was built from stone from pyramids flattened by the Spaniards.
Apr 5, 06: Proving prehistoric man's ingenuity and ability to withstand and inflict excruciating pain, researchers have found that dental drilling dates back 9,000 years. Primitive dentists drilled nearly perfect holes into live but undoubtedly unhappy patients between 5500 B.C. and 7000 B.C., an article in Thursday's journal Nature reports. Researchers carbon-dated at least nine skulls with 11 drill holes found in a Pakistan graveyard.
. . That means dentistry is at least 4,000 years older than first thought — and far older than the useful invention of anesthesia.
. . This was no mere tooth tinkering. The drilled teeth found in the graveyard were hard-to-reach molars. And in at least one instance, the ancient dentist managed to drill a hole in the inside back end of a tooth, boring out toward the front of the mouth. The holes went as deep as 3.5 mm. Researchers figured that a small bow was used to drive the flint drill tips into patients' teeth. Flint drill heads were found on site.
. . The dentistry probably evolved from intricate ornamental bead drilling that was also done by the society there, went on for about 1,500 years until about 5500 B.C., Macchiarelli said. After that, there were no signs of drilling.
. . Macchiarelli and Frayer said the drilling was likely done to reduce the pain of cavities. Macchiarelli pointed to one unfortunate patient who had a tooth drilled twice. Another patient had three teeth drilled. Four drilled teeth showed signs of cavities. No sign of fillings were found, but there could have been an asphalt-like substance inside, he said.
Mar, 06: Among the ruins of a 3,200-year-old palace near Athens, researchers are piecing together the story of legendary Greek warrior-king Ajax, hero of the Trojan War. Archaeologist Yiannis Lolos found remains of the palace while hiking on the island of Salamis in 1999.
. . Now, he's confident he's found the site where Ajax ruled, which has also provided evidence to support a theory that residents of the Mycenean island kingdom fled to Cyprus after the king's death.
. . Ajax was one of the top fighters in the legendary Greek army that besieged Troy to win back the abducted queen of Sparta, Helen. Described in Homer's Iliad as a towering hero protected by a huge shield, Ajax killed himself after a quarrel with other Greek leaders.
. . The site flourished in the 13th century B.C. —-at the same time as the major centers of Mycenae and Pylos in southern Greece-— and was abandoned during widespread unrest about 100 years later. Scholars have long suspected a core of historical truth in the story of Troy, and archaeological evidence from the Kanakia dig appears to agree.
. . Salamis was founded around 1100 B.C., when Enkomi —-some 2.5 miles away-— was abandoned. "It was probably the refugees' children that moved there", Lolos said. The emigration theory would explain why almost no high-value artifacts were found at the Greek site, which bore no signs of destruction or enemy occupation.
. . "The emigrants, who would have been the city's ruling class, took a lot with them, including nearly all the valuables", Lolos said. The rest of the population moved to a new settlement further inland that offered better protection from seaborne raids.
. . Lolos is particularly pleased with a piece of a copper mail shirt stamped with the name of Pharaoh Ramses II, who ruled Egypt from 1279-1213 B.C. "This is a unique find, which may have belonged to a Mycenaean mercenary soldier serving with the Egyptians."
Mar 12, 06: Underground chambers and tunnels used during a Jewish revolt against the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago have been uncovered in northern Israel. The find shows the ancient Jews planned and prepared for the uprising, contrary to the common perception that the revolt began spontaneously.
. . The underground chambers at the Israeli Arab village of Kfar Kana, north of Nazareth, were built from housing materials common at the time and hidden directly beneath the floors of aboveground homes. Built like igloos, the chambers are wide at the base and small at the top. The tunnels between them are short and the ceilings are too low for standing upright.
. . The Jewish revolt against Roman rule ended in A.D. 70, when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Second Temple. The ancient Jews at the Kfar site built their houses over the ruins of a fortified Iron Age city, reusing some of the stones from the original settlement. Then they dug through 5 feet of debris from the ruins to build their hideaway complex. "It was quite a lot of work", Alexandre said.
. . The original settlement, which dates from the 10th and 9th centuries B.C., is also a new discovery.
Mar 9, 06: The first settlers on Easter Island didn't arrive until 1200 AD, up to 800 years later than previously thought, a new study suggests. The revised estimate is based on new radiocarbon dating of soil samples.
. . The finding challenges the widely held notion that Easter Island's civilization experienced a sudden collapse after centuries of slow growth. If* correct, the finding would mean that the island's irreversible deforestation and construction of its famous Moai statues began almost immediately after Polynesian settlers first set foot on the island.
. . According to one widely held view, a small band of Polynesian settlers, perhaps no more than a few dozen people, arrived on the Easter Island sometime between 400 and 1000 AD. The settlers lived in harmony with the environment for hundreds of years and the population slowly grew. Some scientists estimate that at its height, Easter Island's population may have been as much as 20,000 people.
. . Around 1200 AD, the story goes, the inhabitants began cutting down the island's subtropical trees and giant palms in large numbers to build canoes and to transport the giant stone statues, which started going up around this time. The large-scale deforestation led to soil erosion and over a span of several centuries, the island's ability to support wildlife and farming was compromised. People began to starve. In a last ditch effort at survival, they became cannibals. The collapse of both the island's ecology and civilization was so complete that by the time the Dutch arrived in the 1700s, Easter Island was a sandy grassland void of nearly all its native wildlife; its human inhabitants were reduced to a starving population of 3,000 or less.
. . This is the story pieced together by researchers over the past several decades, but Hunt and Lipo think it is wrong. If colonization didn't begin until 1200 AD, then the island's population wouldn't have had time to swell to tens of thousands of people. "Instead, [humans] have an immediate impact."
. . Also, the few thousand people Europeans encountered when they first arrived on Easter Island might not have been the remnants of a once great and populous civilization as widely believed. The researchers think a few thousand people might have been all the island was ever able to support.
. . The researchers also dispute the claim that Easter Island's human inhabitants were responsible for their own demise. Instead, they think the culprits may have been Europeans, who brought disease and took islanders away as slaves, and rats, which quickly multiplied after arriving with the first Polynesian settlers. "The collapse was really a function of European disease being introduced", Lipo said.
. . At a scientific meeting last year, Hunt presented evidence that the island's rat population spiked to 20 million from the years 1200 to 1300. Rats had no predators on the island other than humans and they would have made quick work of the island's palm seeds. After the trees were gone, the island's rat population dropped off to a mere one million.
Mar 9, 06: Long before olive oil made it into the Mediterranean diet, Cypriots used it as fuel to melt copper, archaeologists say. Italian researchers have discovered that environmentally friendly olive oil was used in furnaces at a site in southern Cyprus up to 4,000 years ago, instead of the fume-belching charcoal used in industry for hundreds of years since. Cyprus was famed in antiquity for its copper and is believed to have given its name to the Latin term for the metal, Cuprum.
. . The find by Belgiorno's team suggested mankind might be returning to its roots, at least in terms of energy. "It is the first time this has been discovered ... and in Europe it's only recently that industry has turned to biofuels. This oil burns like benzene." Tests have discovered olive oil residues in ovens on the site. "There were no storage areas for charcoal. We have discovered that to melt copper you need five kilos of olive oil, compared to 80 kilos of charcoal."
. . Last year at the same site, Belgiorno's team found what they described as the world's most ancient perfumery, which used olive oil infused with local herbs. The site's textile dyeing facilities also suggested Cypriots had a fashionable flair with their fabrics, using tiny veins painstakingly extracted from Mediterranean sea snails to dye their clothes indigo. "Nobody can really speak about prehistory without mentioning Cyprus. It was a filter, it took technology from the Middle East and redistributed it to the western world."
Mar 6, 06: Excavations at an ancient Egyptian shipyard have unearthed remains of the world's oldest seafaring ships. The 4,000-year-old timbers were found alongside equally ancient cargo boxes, anchors, coils of rope and other naval materials just as old, at what archaeologists are calling a kind of ancient military administration site. The massive complex, made up of six manmade caves, is located at Wadi Gawasis, a small desert bluff on the Red Sea near the modern city of Port Safaga.
. . According to Ward, it was widely thought that while ancient Egyptians often traveled along the Nile in smaller river boats, they did not have the technological ability to voyage long distances. Evidence at Wadi Gawasis seems to suggest that they were, in fact, prolific sea-goers like later civilizations in Greece and Rome.
. . Specifically, hieroglyphs inscribed on some of the cargo boxes indicate that many came from a single origin: the almost mythical city of Punt, whose exact location is still unknown but is thought to lie nearly 1,000 miles away in the southern reaches of the Red Sea.
. . "You can compare these caves to airport hangars, more than anything else. If all the planes were flown out of the hangars, what would be left over? Parts, tools, bits and pieces; it's the same here", she said. "We also found that the Egyptians had recycled a lot of ship parts and reused them architecturally within." Timber remains at Wadi Gawasis demonstrate that when ships returned from several months at sea, they were disassembled in the caves and parts inspected for wear and tear. Those pieces that were too badly worn by the burrowing of shipworms were discarded, while those in better shape were kept for later voyages.
. . The mere presence of shipworm damage, accrued usually during voyages of at least several months, suggests that ancient Egyptians actually spent a lot of time at sea. "Egyptians even sailed to Lebanon to gather cedar for building their ships", Ward said. "The resin in this wood was thought to prevent damage, but it obviously didn't work very well."
Mar 4, 06: Archaeological finds from Mexico and Peru show that, long before Europeans arrived, women served as warriors, governors and priestesses.
Feb 26, 06: Its austere white is on every postcard, but the Athens Parthenon was originally daubed with red, blue and green, the Greek archaeologist supervising conservation work on the 2,400-year-old temple said.
. . "A recent cleaning operation by laser revealed traces of hematite (red), Egyptian blue and malachite-azurite (green-blue) on the sculptures of the western frieze." While archaeologists had found traces of the first two colors elsewhere on the temple years ago, the malachite-azurite coloring was only revealed in the latest restoration process. Given the testimony of ancient writers, it is not unlikely that the Parthenon's trademark columns were also colored.
. . Dedicated to the ancient Greek goddess Athena, patron of the ancient city of Athens, the Parthenon was badly damaged during a Venetian siege of occupying Ottoman Turkish forces in 1687. Much of the temple's eastern frieze was removed in the early 19th century by agents of Lord Elgin, then British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Elgin subsequently sold the sculptures to the British Museum in London, where they are still on display, despite persistent efforts by the Greek government to secure their return for the past 20 years.
Feb 26, 06: Statues weighing up to five tons and thought to be of one of ancient Egypt's greatest pharaohs, Ramses II, have been found northeast of Cairo, Egypt's Supreme Antiquities Council said. Ramses II ruled Egypt from 1304 to 1237 BC, and presided over an era of great military expansion, erecting statues and temples to himself all over Egypt. He is traditionally believed to be the pharaoh mentioned in the biblical story of Moses.
. . "Many parts of red granite statues were found, the most important of which had features close to Ramses II ... The statue needs some restoration and weighs between four and five tons. A royal head weighing two to three tons and a seated 5.1 meter statue were also found, with cartouches, or royal name signs, of Ramses II on the side of the seated statue.
Feb 18, 06: Ancient humans from Asia may have entered the Americas following an ocean highway made of dense kelp. The new finding lends strength to the "coastal migration theory", whereby early maritime populations boated from one island to another, hunting the bountiful amounts of sea creatures that live in kelp forests. Kelp forests are some of the world's richest ecosystems. Today, a nearly continuous "kelp highway" stretches from Japan, up along Siberia, across the Bering Strait to Alaska, and down again along the California coastline.
Feb 18, 06: The first humans to spread across North America may have been seal hunters from France and Spain. This runs counter to the long-held belief that the first human entry into the Americas was a crossing of a land-ice bridge that spanned the Bering Strait about 13,500 years ago.
. . Recent studies have suggested that the glaciers that helped form the bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska began receding around 17,000 to 13,000 years ago, leaving very little chance that people walked from one continent to the other. Also, when archaeologist Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institution places American spearheads, called Clovis points, side-by-side with Siberian points, he sees a divergence of many characteristics. Instead, Stanford said today, Clovis points match up much closer with Solutrean style tools, which researchers date to about 19,000 years ago. This suggests that the American people making Clovis points made Solutrean points before that. There’s just one problem with this hypothesis—Solutrean toolmakers lived in France and Spain. Scientists know of no land-ice bridge that spanned that entire gap.
. . Stanford has an idea for how humans crossed the Atlantic, though—boats. Art from that era indicates that Solutrean populations in northern Spain were hunting marine animals, such as seals, walrus, and tuna. They may have even made their way into the floating ice chunks that unite immense harp seal populations in Canada and Europe each year. Four million seals, Stanford said, would look like a pretty good meal to hungry European hunters, who might have ventured into the ice flows much the same way that the Inuit in Alaska and Greenland do today.
. . It’s possible that some groups of these hunters ventured out as far as Iceland, where they may have gotten caught up in the prevailing currents and were carried to North America. "You get three boats loaded up like this and you would have a viable population,” Stanford said. “You could actually get a whole bunch of people washing up on Nova Scotia."
Feb 15, 06: Many art historians and anthropologists believe Paleolithic cave wall art was done by accomplished shaman-artists, but mixed in with the finer paintings are graffiti-like scenes of sex and hunting. An analysis of thousands of paintings from the late Pleistocene epoch suggests the graffiti artists back then were likely the same as today -—teenage males.
. . Most cave art from 10,000 to 35,000 years ago was done by hand, quite literally. Artists would chew up a bit of red ocher, place their hand against a wall, and spit over their hand. Men and women have different hand proportions -—men have thicker thumbs and palms—- so by analyzing the dimensions of the hands in European cave art, and comparing them to 1,000 photocopies of modern hands of men and women of different ages, Guthrie determined just who painted what. Men and women and boys and girls of all ages left their marks but, statistically, teenage males dominated, contrary to popular belief.
. . "They painted what was on their minds." And as with modern teenagers, the ancients had more on their minds than just cars and sports. "In the graffiti, there is a lot of below-the-belt-art", Guthrie said. "The people in the art are predominantly women, and not a single one has any clothes on." But these weren't just any women, they were Pleistocene Pamela Andersons adorned with ludicrously huge breasts and hips. The walls were also decorated with graphic depictions of genitalia.
Feb 6, 06: Cave drawings thought to be older than those in the famed caves of Lascaux have been discovered in a grotto in western France. A first analysis by officials from the office of cultural affairs suggests the drawings were made some 25,000 years ago. Cavers exploring a part of a grotto in the Vilhonneur forest made the discovery in December. News was withheld until a first investigation could be carried out.
. . The famed Lascaux Cave in Montignac, in the Dordogne region of southwest France, has long been considered one of the finest examples of cave paintings. The art dates back 13,000 years, like those in Altamira, in northwest Spain. However, the Chauvet cave, discovered in the mid-1990s in southeast France, features some 300 examples of Paleolithic animal art dating back in some cases 31,000 years.
Feb 3, 06: A Stone Age man found frozen in the Alps some 5,300 years after he was murdered under mysterious circumstances may have been a childless social outcast, a new study showed.
. . Italian anthropologist Franco Rollo studied fragments of the DNA belonging to Oetzi, as the mummy has come to be known, and found two typical mutations common among men with reduced sperm mobility, the museum that stores the "iceman" said. A high percentage of men with such a condition are sterile. "Insofar as the 'iceman' was found to possess both mutations, the possibility that he was unable to father offspring cannot be eliminated."
. . Rollo, a researcher at the University of Camerino in Italy, was also able to assign the mummy's DNA to one of the basic groups of human DNA historically occurring in Europe. His basic DNA resembles that of the Ladines, an ethnic group still living in the region today, and that of residents of the Oetztal valley where he was found.
Feb 2, 06: The remains of an ancient Greek cargo ship that sank more than 2,300 years ago have been uncovered with a deep-sea robot, archaeologists announced today. The ship was carrying hundreds of ceramic jars of wine and olive oil and went down off Chios and the Oinoussai islands in the eastern Aegean Sea sometime around 350 B.C.
. . Archeologists speculate that a fire or rough weather may have sunk the ship. The wreckage was found submerged beneath 60 meters of water. The researchers hope that the shipwreck will provide clues about the trade network that existed between the ancient Greek and their trading partners.
Jan 27, 06: An American-Italian team of archaeologists has found the remains of 4,000-year-old ships that used to carry cargo between Pharaonic Egypt and the mysterious, exotic land of Punt.
Jan 24, 06: Egyptologists have discovered a statue of Queen Ti, wife of one of Egypt's greatest pharaohs and grandmother to the boy-king Tutankhamun, at an ancient temple in Luxor, an Egyptian antiquities official said. The official said the roughly 3,400 year-old statue was uniquely well preserved. Ti's husband, Amenhotep III, presided over an era which saw a renaissance in Egyptian art. Queen Ti was also mother to Akhenaten, the sun-worshipping pharaoh some credit with starting the world's first known monotheistic religion. Queen Ti helped to prepare Akhenaten's son, Tutankhamun, for kingship.
. . Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in the United States discovered the 160 cm (five-foot) high black granite statue at the Temple of Mut in the ancient temple complex in Karnak. The statue is missing its legs but is otherwise well preserved, Aziz said. It was buried under about half a meter of rocks and sand.
Jan 23, 06: Athens fell because a plague swept the empire. But scientists have debated what illness was responsible. A new DNA analysis of teeth from an ancient Greek burial pit indicates typhoid fever caused the epidemic. The plague began in Ethiopia and passed through Egypt and Libya to Greece in 430-426 B.C. It changed the balance of power between Athens and Sparta, ending the Golden Age of Pericles and Athenian dominance in the ancient world. An estimated one-third of Athenians died, including Pericles, their leader.
. . Typhoid fever is transmitted by contaminated food or water. It is most common today in developing countries.
Jan 20, 06: Archaeologists digging beneath the Roman Forum have discovered a 3,000-year-old tomb that pre-dates the birth of ancient Rome by several hundred years. Archaeologists were excavating under the level of the ancient forum, a popular tourist site, when they dug up the tomb, which they suspect is part of an entire necropolis. "I am convinced that the excavations will bring more tombs to light."
. . Legend has it that Rome was founded in 753 B.C. by Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of the god of war, Mars. Last year, archaeologists who have been digging for some two decades in the forum said they believed they found evidence of a royal palace roughly dating to the period of the legendary founding.
Jan 6, 06: Archeologists excavating a pyramid complex in the Guatemalan jungle have uncovered the earliest example of Mayan writing ever found, 10 bold hieroglyphs painted on plaster and stone. The 2,300-year-old glyphs were excavated last April in San Bartolo and suggest the ancient Mayas developed an advanced writing system centuries earlier than previously believed.
Jan 1, 06: The preserved remains of two prehistoric men discovered in an Irish bog have revealed a couple of surprises --one used hair gel and the other stood 6 foot 6 inches high, the tallest Iron Age body discovered. "He would have been a giant... the other man was quite short, about 5 foot 2 inches." The shorter man appeared to attempt to give himself greater stature by a rather curious headdress which was a bit like a Mohican-style with the hair gel, which was a resin imported from France." The fashion-conscious gel wearer has been named Clonycavan Man and Kelly said the fact he was able to buy imported cosmetics suggests he was a wealthy member of Irish society about 2,300 years ago.
. . Bacterial conditions found in the peat bogs preserved the remains so that even fingerprints were clearly visible.
Dec 28, 05: Short stature didn't prevent dwarves in ancient Egyptian culture from attaining high positions in society. Some served as assistants to the pharaoh, while others were looked up to as gods. Chahira Kozma, a pediatrician at Georgetown University, examined remains and depictions of dwarves in ancient Egypt and concluded they were respected and that their disorder was not seen as a physical handicap. Ptah, a deity associated with regeneration and rejuvenation and who was also worshipped as the creator of the universe, was sometimes portrayed as a dwarf.
. . There are more than 100 known medical conditions that can lead to dwarfism. One of the most common is achondroplasia, a genetic disorder that affects approximately 1 in 30,000 children born each year.
Dec 14, 05: A new study examining the largest collection of South American skulls ever assembled suggests that a different population may have crossed the bridge to the New World 3,000 years before those Siberians.
. . Scientists occasionally discover skulls in South America that look more like those belonging to indigenous Australians and Melanesians than Northern Asians, but researchers tend to regard these skulls as anomalies due to natural variation rather than a norm, mainly because there were too few to study.
. . Now scientists have compared 81 skulls from the Lagoa Santa region of Brazil to worldwide data on human variation. While the skulls of Native Americans and Northern Asians --the descendents of the early Siberian settlers-- generally feature short, wide crania, a broader face, and high, narrow eye sockets and noses, this collection was remarkably different.
. . The skulls belonging to the earliest known South Americans --or Paleo-Indians-- had long, narrow crania, projecting jaws, and low, broad eye sockets and noses. Drastically different from American Indians, these skulls appear more similar to modern Australians, Melanesians, and Sub-Saharan Africans. This indicates that these skulls --which date to 7,500 to 11,000 years ago-- were not merely anomalies but rather were the majority, supporting the hypothesis that two distinct populations colonized the Americas.
. . People with skulls resembling Paleo-Indians were present in Asia around 20,000 years ago, and lacking the technology to cross the Pacific Ocean by boat, they probably crossed the land bridge to Alaska several thousand years before the Siberians, said study co-author Mark Hubbe of the Universidade de So Paulo. "We don't know for sure, but we believe at least 3,000 years earlier. We have a difference of 3,000 years in South America, and we can assume the difference is the same in North America."

Nov 21, 05: Archaeologists have discovered what they believe is the earliest evidence yet of long distance seafaring in the eastern Mediterranean, undermining beliefs that ancient mariners never ventured into open seas.
. . Fragments of stone implements believed to be up to 12,000 years old have been found at two sites of Cyprus, suggesting roving mariners used the areas as temporary camp sites after forays from what is today Syria and Turkey. It's more than 1,000 years older than the timing of the first permanent settlers to the island.
. . Cyprus, lying at least 45 kms away from any other land mass, was not settled by man 12,000 years ago, but there is evidence it was populated by pygmy elephants and hippopotamuses.


Nov 15, 05: An ancient weapon that struck fear in the hearts of Spanish conquistadors, and that some think was used to slay wooly mammoths in Florida, may soon be added to the arsenal of Pennsylvania's hunters.
. . The state Game Commission is currently drafting proposed regulations to allow hunters to use the atlatl, a small wooden device used to propel a six-foot dart as fast as 80 mph. The commission could vote to legalize its use as early as January 06. It's unclear which animals atlatlists may be allowed to hunt, but the proposal is being pushed by people who want to kill deer
. . At BPS Engineering in Manhattan, Mont., a leading manufacturer of atlatls, sales have averaged about 450 in recent years, said owner Bob Perkins. Customers pay $140 for his company's 2-foot maple production-line model, the Warrior, along with a set of five 5 1/2-foot aluminum darts.
. . "Atlatls were the first true weapon system developed by the human race", he said. "They were used longer than any other weapon. There is evidence that the weapons were used more than 8,000 years ago in Pennsylvania. Prehistoric atlatls have a distinctive counterweight feature called a winged banner stone
. . The World Atlatl Association, which has 380 members, has held an annual accuracy contest since the mid-1990s, and this year more than 2,000 people participated.
Nov 9, 05: Two lines of an alphabet have been found inscribed in a stone in Israel, offering what some scholars say is the most solid evidence yet that the ancient Israelites were literate as early as the 10th century B.C. [3000+ yr ago] "This is very rare. This stone will be written about for many years to come." "This makes it very historically probable there were people in the 10th century (B.C.) who could write."
Oct 12, 05: Archeologists excavating an ancient Chinese settlement discovered a small pile of well-preserved noodles after turning over an upside-down clay bowl. Prior to the discovery, the earliest mention of noodles was in a 1,900 year old book. The bowl was buried beneath 10 feet of sediment in Lajia, a small community located by the Yellow River in northwestern China that was destroyed by an earthquake about 4,000 years ago.
. . The thin, yellow noodles were about 20 inches long and resembled La-Mian, a type of traditional Chinese noodle made by grinding wheat to make dough and then repeatedly pulling and stretching the dough by hand.
. . Another surprise: the ancient noodles were not made from wheat like modern noodles, but from millet, a type of grain that, along with rice, formed the foundation of agriculture in ancient China.
Oct 2, 05: The life-sized marble statues of two ancient Greek goddesses have emerged during excavations of a 5,000-year-old town on the island of Crete, archaeologists said. The works, representing the goddesses Athena and Hera, date to between the second and fourth centuries —-during the period of Roman rule in Greece-— and originally decorated the Roman theater in the town of Gortyn.
. . Standing 2 meters high with their bases, the works were discovered Tuesday by a team of Italian and Greek archaeologists excavating the ruined theater of Gortyn.
. . Micheli said the goddesses were toppled from their plinths by a powerful earthquake around A.D. 367 that destroyed the theater and much of the town. The statues fell off the stage, and were found just in front of their original position.
. . Gortyn, the Roman capital of Crete, was first inhabited around 3000 B.C., and was a flourishing Minoan town between 1600-1100 B.C. It prospered during classical and Roman times, and was destroyed by an Arab invasion in A.D. 824.
Sept 21, 05: The ruins of an ancient temple built by a long-vanished kingdom in southern India are being excavated by archaeologists who said the Hindu sanctum may have been destroyed centuries ago by a tsunami. The temple appears to have been built between the second century B.C. and the first century A.D.
. . It was found is in the region affected by the Dec. 26 Asian tsunami, and the "discovery now poses very interesting questions ... about the history of tsunamis." The archaeologists are trying to determine the date of the tsunami that may have destroyed the temple from sand and seashells found at the brick structure.
. . The temple was found one layer below a granite temple excavated by the same team in July, leading archaeologists to theorize that the Pallava kings, who ruled the region between 580 A.D and 728 A.D., built the latter temple atop the remains of the older one.
. . According to descriptions by early British travel writers, the area was also home to seven pagodas, six of which were submerged by the sea.
. . Last year's Indian Ocean tsunami revealed other temples and monuments that had been buried for centuries. In February, archaeologists began underwater excavations of what is believed to be an ancient city and parts of a temple uncovered by the waves, which archaeologists have said appear to belong to a port city built in the seventh century.
Aug 18, 05: The first supportive footwear was probably modest, but it definitely predates the Nike Empire. Erik Trinkaus at Washington University in St. Louis says the first shoes designed to do more than insulate and cushion were worn between 26,000 and 30,000 years ago in Eurasia.
. . He has no old shoes to prove the claim. They wouldn't have survived that long. Instead, Trinkaus studied anatomical evidence in early modern humans and found a reduction in the strength of the smaller toes in folks of the Upper Paleolithic. "I discovered that the bones of the little toes of humans from that time frame were much less strongly built than those of their ancestors while their leg bones remained large and strong", Trinkaus said. "The most logical cause would be the introduction of supportive footwear."
. . During barefoot walking, the smaller toes flex for traction, keeping the toe bones strong. Supportive footwear lessens the roll of the little toes, thus weakening them. But oh, how it saves the arches.
. . Trinkaus figures humans living in far northern climates began to put insulation on their feet around 500,000 years ago.
Aug 16, 05: Bulgarian archaeologists have unearthed about 15,000 tiny golden pieces that date back to the end of the third millennium B.C. — a find they said Wednesday matches the famous treasure of Troy.
. . The golden ornaments, estimated to be between 4,100 and 4,200 years old, have been unearthed gradually during the past year from an ancient tomb. "This treasure is a bit older than Schliemann's finds in Troy, and contains much more golden ornaments."
. . Golden artifacts from a vast burial complex discovered in the 1970s near the Black Sea port of Varna date back to the end of the fifth millennium B.C. and are internationally renowned as the world's oldest golden treasure.
Aug 3, 05: Much of what ancient scribes carved in stone is lost to weathering. Among the hard-to-read are tablets from Draco, a rather severe politician who codified the laws of ancient Athens. A new technique promises to reveal these and other stone scribblings using X-rays.
. . Cornell researchers developed a process called X-ray fluorescence (XRF) imaging to recover faded text on stone by "zapping and mapping" the inscriptions. The group built a machine that generates X-rays a million times more intense than what the doctor uses to image your bones. An X-ray beam is fired at a stone, scanning back and forth. Atoms on the stone's surface emit lower-energy fluorescent X-rays, and different wavelength emissions reveal zinc, iron and other elements in the stone.
. . Historians know that iron chisels were commonly used to inscribe stone, and the letters were usually painted with pigments containing metal oxides and sulfides. So where letters and numbers are no longer visible to the eye, the newfound minerals trace their shapes. Tests conducted on stone tablets a hundred generations old clearly reveal writing that was lost to the eye.
. . You've heard Draco's name referred to in phrases starting with "Draconian". He didn't make up the laws, but he was the first to get them written down. Back then, minor offenses carried the death penalty, and debt was a road to slavery.
July 16, 05: An international congress devoted to the myth of the lost continent of Atlantis opened on the Greek island of Milos, attended by seismologists, geologists, geographers, philosophers, historians and archaeologists from five existing continents. Pavlidis, one of the congress organizers, said that contributions from some speakers were rejected for being "too fantastical."
. . The seismology professor personally sees in the Atlantis tale told by the fourth century BC Greek philosopher Plato "an allegory on the decline of a civilization, with the hint of a true story at its core." [T'was an island wiped out by the explosion of Thera/Santorini, I'd say. JKH]
July 7, 05: Peat bogs are marshy areas of dead vegetation and sphagnum moss. The water's high iron content, tannic acid and lack of oxygen act as a preservative. Remarkably well-preserved bodies have been found in bogs, many by bog cutters, who harvest peat bog for fuel, although nowadays machines are used more often and bodies are sometimes damaged. Several dozen exist.
. . A picture of one mummy, not on display, shows perhaps the best preserved body. Known as Tollund man, after where he was found in Denmark 55 years ago, the man, with his silver-gray skin, seems as though he was carved from pencil lead. Stubble sprouts from his chin. "Red Franz'' has red hair, a beard and a gaping slit across his neck. Two mummies, believed to be about 2,000 years old, are displayed together, as they were found.
. . Scientists have determined diet and health of bog people from stomach contents and soft tissue analysis --far more than can be learned from skeletal remains. Though some bog people were likely murder victims or criminals, the exhibit argues the abundance of other items found buried in bogs makes it likely that many were sacrificed. More than 300 such items, including coins, jewelry, ceremonial musical instruments and weaponry, are on display. Ancient Europeans made offerings to their gods in natural settings, Olsen said. Watery places such as rivers, lakes and bogs were seen as conduits to the gods, she said.
July 11, 05: Archaeologists working at a proposed development site in Mesa say they have unearthed one of the largest integrated canal systems the Hohokam Indians ever built in the Phoenix area. Twenty Hohokam canals, uncovered during an ongoing archaeological survey of the 240-acre site, have been found since October. The largest measures 14 meters wide and 5 meters deep. "They are the size of canals in Phoenix today, but these were done with digging sticks and baskets."
. . Historians believe the Hohokam lived in central and southern Arizona for about 1,500 years, sometime between 300 B.C. and A.D. 1400. They were a largely agricultural community known for their sophisticated canal systems.
May 25, 05: A new study of DNA suggests North America was originally settled by just a few dozen people who crossed a land bridge from Asia during the last Ice Age. About 14,000 years ago, humans crossed the Bering land bridge from Siberia to North America, most experts agree. But just how many intrepid explorers were involved has not been known.
. . Previous DNA analyses of the New World's founding looked at just one gene and assumed populations sizes have been constant over time. The new study looked at nine genomic regions to account for variations in single genes, and it assumed that sizes of founding populations change over time. The method favored actual genetic data over estimates used in previous calculations.
. . "The estimated effective size of the founding population for the New World is about 70 individuals", said Jody Hey, a professor of genetics at Rutgers University.

May 10, 05: Three teams of scientists have created the first facial reconstructions of King Tutankhamun based on CT scans of his mummy. The images are strikingly similar both to each other and to ancient portraits of the boy pharaoh, including his depiction on the famed golden mask he wore into the crypt. The models bear a strong resemblance to the gold mask of King Tut found in his tomb in 1922 by the British excavation led by Howard Carter.
. . The teams --from France, the United States and Egypt-- each built a model of the pharaoh's face based on some 1,700 high-resolution images from CT scans to reveal what he looked like the day he died nearly 3,300 years ago. The three teams created their reconstructions separately. The CT scans --the first done on an Egyptian mummy-- have suggested King Tut was a healthy, yet slightly built 19-year-old, standing 5-feet-6 at the time of his death.
. . They were able to dismiss a long held theory that Tut, who died around 1323 B.C., was murdered by a blow to his skull or killed in an accident that crushed his chest. It raised a new possibility for the cause of death: Some experts on the scanning team said it appeared Tut broke his left thigh severely --puncturing his skin-- just days before his death, and the break could have caused an infection.

May 10, 05: Egyptian scientists have finally lifted the veil of mystery surrounding famed pharaoh Tutankhamun's death, saying he died of a swift attack of gangrene after breaking his leg ... and no other indication he was killed. The scientists confirmed previous findings that the king died aged 19, was in good health and did not suffer from any illnesses as a child. Tutankhamun is thought to have been the 12th ruler of the 18th dynasty.


May 4, 05: A superbly preserved 2,300-year-old mummy bearing a golden mask and covered in brilliantly colored images of gods and goddesses was unveiled Tuesday at Egypt's Saqqara Pyramids complex about 12 miles south south of Cairo. The unidentified mummy, from the 30th pharaonic dynasty, was enclosed in a wooden sarcophagus and buried in sand at the bottom of a 20-foot shaft. The necropolis lies alongside the collapsed pyramid of Teti, who ruled during ancient Egypt's 6th dynasty, more than 4,300 years ago.
. . Zahi Hawass: "We have revealed what may be the most beautiful mummy ever found in Egypt." Hawass also said a previously unknown pyramid had been located in the Saqqara area and would be uncovered after two months. Saqqara is one of Egypt's most popular tourist sites and hosts a collection of temples, tombs and funerary complexes.
Apr 21, 05: Archaeologists digging in a 5,600-year-old funeral site in southern Egypt unearthed seven corpses believed to date to the era, as well as an intact figure of a cow's head carved from flint. The American-Egyptian excavation team made the discoveries in what they described as the largest funerary complex ever found that dates to the elusive 5-millenia-old Predynastic era.
. . The find is significant because little is known about the early phase of Predynastic period. That era predates the unification of upper and lower Egypt that triggered the Dynastic era, when the pharaohs ruled. Little remains from the Predynastic period.
. . Hawass said Egyptian flint figurines are extremely rare. Only 50 have been discovered. He said the uncovering two fine examples in one site is a stroke of luck.
Mar 17, 05: For a few minutes, after the water had receded far from the shore and before it came raging back as a tsunami, the fishermen stood along the beach and stared at the reality of generations of legends. Or so they say. Spread across nearly a mile, the site was encrusted with barnacles and covered in mud. But the fishermen insist they saw the remains of ancient temples and hundreds of refrigerator-sized blocks, all briefly exposed before the sea swallowed them up again. "You could see the destroyed walls covered in coral, and the broken-down temple in the middle." Some fishermen insist they saw more than the six vanished temples when the waters fell back. "There must have been at least 20."
. . The tsunami scrubbed away 2meters of sand from a section of beach, uncovering a small cluster of long-buried boulders carved with animals, gods and servant girls.
. . This is a town made for legend. It is home to dozens of Hindu temples, baroque stone structures often covered with carvings. But legend speaks of its most famous temples: the Seven Pagodas, named for the vaguely pagoda-like style of Hindu temples in this part of India. Those temples, which according to myth are said to have once lined the shore, were so beautiful that the gods destroyed all but one —-the so-called Shore Temple, a magnificently carved complex that is now considered a national treasure.
The true Hanging Gardens of Babylon might in fact have been sunken gardens --and not at Babylon, but at Nineveh. Karen Polinger Foster of Yale University suggests that the hanging gardens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, could have been a living carpet of trimmed flowers and shrubbery laid out below the viewer.
. . Five descriptions exist of the hanging gardens, but they are contradictory and vague. And excavations of Babylon, near modern Baghdad, have failed to find convincing evidence for the gardens or associated structures.
. . In 1993, Stephanie Dalley of the University of Oxford argued that the gardens were at Nineveh, near modern Mosul, and were created in the time of the Assyrian ruler Sennacherib, in about 700 BC.
Feb 28, 05: Archaeologists have discovered a group of giant figures scraped into the hills of Peru's southern coastal desert that are believed to predate the country's famed Nazca lines. About 50 figures were etched into the earth over an area roughly 90 square miles. The lines, thousands of them in all, were made by clearing darker rocks on the desert surface to expose lighter soil underneath.
Jan 24, 05: It has long been a matter of contention: Was the Aztec and Mayan practice of human sacrifice as widespread and horrifying as the history books say? Or did the Spanish conquerors overstate it to make the Indians look primitive? In recent years archaeologists have been uncovering mounting physical evidence that corroborates the Spanish accounts in substance, if not number. Using high-tech forensic tools, archaeologists are proving that pre-Hispanic sacrifices often involved children and a broad array of intentionally brutal killing methods.
. . For decades, many researchers believed Spanish accounts from the 16th and 17th centuries were biased to denigrate Indian cultures, others argued that sacrifices were largely confined to captured warriors, while still others conceded the Aztecs were bloody, but believed the Maya were less so.
. . The Spaniards probably did exaggerate the sheer numbers of victims to justify a supposedly righteous war against idolatry, said David Carrasco, a Harvard Divinity School expert on Meso-American religion. But there is no longer as much doubt about the nature of the killings. Indian pictorial texts known as "codices", as well as Spanish accounts from the time, quote Indians as describing multiple forms of human sacrifice.
. . The dig turned up other clues to support descriptions of sacrifices in the Magliabecchi codex, a pictorial account painted between 1600 and 1650 that includes human body parts stuffed into cooking dishes, and people sitting around eating, as the god of death looks on. "We have found cooking dishes just like that", said archaeologist Luis Manuel Gamboa. "And, next to some full skeletons, we found some incomplete, segmented human bones." However, researchers don't know whether those remains were cannibalized.
. . In 2002, government archaeologist Juan Alberto Roman Berrelleza announced the results of forensic testing on the bones of 42 children, mostly boys around age 6, sacrificed at Mexico City's Templo Mayor, the Aztec's main religious site, during a drought.
. . The Maya, whose culture peaked farther east about 400 years before the Aztecs founded Mexico City in 1325, had a similar taste for sacrifice. But in carvings and mural paintings, he said, "we have now found more and greater similarities between the Aztecs and Mayas", including a Maya ceremony in which a grotesquely costumed priest is shown pulling the entrails from a bound and apparently living sacrificial victim.
. . Researchers have largely discarded the old theory that sacrifice and cannibalism were motivated by a protein shortage in the Aztec diet, though some still believe it may have been a method of population control.
. . Pre-Hispanic cultures believed the world would end if the sacrifices were not performed. Sacrificial victims, meanwhile, were often treated as gods themselves before being killed. "It is really very difficult for us to conceive", Pijoan said of the sacrifices. "It was almost an honor for them."
Dec 6, 04: Neolithic people in China may have been the first in the world to make wine, according to scientists who have found the earliest evidence of winemaking from pottery shards dating from 7,000 BC in northern China.
. . They analyzed samples of 3,000-year-old wine from hermetically sealed bronze vessels found in Shang Dynasty burial tombs from the Yellow River Basin. The liquid was preserved because a thin layer of rust had sealed the bronze jars completely. A small sample of the remains of the wine, a clear colorless liquid, gave off a faint aroma similar to nail polish remover or varnish. McGovern said when he first smelled the wine, it was floral scented.
. . One of the ancient jars contained a liquid that had traces of wormwood, suggesting the beverage might have been an early version of absinthe.
Dec 5, 04: These days, Iranian women are not even allowed to watch men compete on the football field, but 2,000 years ago, they could have been carving the boys to pieces on the battlefield.
. . DNA tests on the 2,000-year-old bones of a sword-wielding Iranian warrior have revealed the broad-framed skeleton belonged to woman. The tomb, which had all the trappings of a warrior's final resting place, was one of 109 and that DNA tests were being carried out on the other skeletons.
. . Hambastegi said other ancient tombs believed to belong to women warriors have been unearthed close to the Caspian Sea.
Dec 4, 04: The discovery of a tomb filled with decapitated bodies suggests Mexico's 2,000 year-old "Pyramid of the Moon" may have been the site of horrifically gory sacrifices, archeologists said. The tomb at Teotihuacan, the first major city built in the Americas, whose origins are one of history's great mysteries, also held the bound carcasses of eagles, dogs and other animals.
. . The city is believed to have housed 200,000 people at its peak in 500 A.D. --rivaling Shakespeare's London, but a millennium earlier.
Oct 10, 04: Four years ago, scientists thought they had found the perfect place to settle the Noah flood debate: A farmer's house on a bluff overlooking the Black Sea built about 7,500 years ago — just before tidal waves inundated the homestead, submerged miles of coastline and turned the freshwater lake into a salty sea.
. . Some believed the rectangular site of stones and wood could help solve the age-old question of whether the Black Sea's flooding was the event recounted in the Biblical story of Noah. That story told of a calamitous flood occurring over 40 days and nights. Scientists had largely dismissed it, believing the Black Sea filled up gradually with gently rising waters. That wisdom was rocked, however, when two scholars claimed several years ago that the Black Sea's flooding was more recent —-and so rapid and widespread that it forced people to move as far away as mainland Europe.
. . Scholars agree the Black Sea flooded when rising world sea levels caused the Mediterranean to burst over land and fill the then-freshwater lake. The flood was so monstrous it raised water levels by 509 feet and submerged up to 58,000 square miles of land, an area roughly the size of the state of Georgia.
. . But scholars are divided on when the flood occurred, and how rapidly. Most believed it took place about 9,000 years ago and was gradual. But Columbia University marine geologists Walter Pitman and William Ryan wrote in 1997 that the flood was sudden and took place about 7,150 years ago. The scientists' conclusions reinvigorated the Noah flood debate.
. . Scientists who in the summer of 2003 visited the underwater site off the northern Turkish coastal town of Sinop couldn't arrive at any conclusions. The settlement, about 330 feet underwater, was "contaminated" by wood that had drifted in, foiling any attempt to accurately date the ruin —-and thus date the flood.
. . "We were not able to get a smoking gun", said Robert Ballard, the underwater explorer and discoverer of the Titanic.
Oct 6, 04: Archaeologists have unearthed the site of Genghis Khan's palace. A Japanese and Mongolian research team found the complex on a grassy steppe 150 miles east of the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator. They believe the long-sought grave of the 13th century Mongolian warrior is somewhere nearby. Ancient texts say court officials commuted from the mausoleum later built on the grounds to the burial site daily to conduct rituals for the dead. Kato said his group was not aiming specifically to find the grave. Still, he said finding it would help uncover the secrets of Genghis Khan's power. According to ancient texts, 13 or 14 Khan warriors, including Genghis and Kublai, are buried in the same place.
. . According to legend, in order to keep it secret, his huge burial party killed anyone who saw them en route to it; then servants and soldiers who attended the funeral were massacred.
. . If researchers do find the tomb, they would also likely discover the graves of Kublai Khan —-Genghis' grandson who spread the Mongol empire to southeast Asia and became the first emperor of China's Yuan Dynasty-— at the same time.
. . Genghis Khan (c. 1162-1227) united warring tribes to become leader of the Mongols in 1206. After his death, his descendants expanded his empire until it stretched from China to Hungary.
Oct 5, 04: A team of Bulgarian archeologists announced that they had unearthed a large, intact Thracian mausoleum dating back from the fifth century BC near the central Bulgaria.
. . The mausoleum "features an incredible architecture and is laden with golden, silver, bronze and earthenware objects."
. . The tomb includes a 13-meter (40') corridor leading to three rooms, one of them a huge grantie block hollowed out to form a death chamber, its floor strewn with more than 70 gold, silver, bronze and clay objects.
Sept 15, 04: Ancient Egyptians revered cats and other animals and took as much care in preparing them for their passage to the next life as they did with humans, scientists said. Millions of mummified animals, birds and reptiles have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, which has led scientists to assume that little care or expense was involved. It was thought they were simply wrapped in coarse linen bandages and dipped in preservatives.
. . But Evershed and his team, who studied the mummies of a cat, two hawks and an ibis, dating from 818-715 BC and 380-343 BC, found traces of beeswax, tree resin, petroleum bitumen, Pistacia and possibly cedar resins and vegetable oil --the same as those used for humans.
May 26, 04: Polish archaeologists have unearthed 13 lecture halls believed to be the first traces ever found of ancient Egypt's University of Alexandria, the head of the project said. "This is the oldest university ever found in the world."
. . The lecture halls, with a [total] capacity of 5,000 students, are part of the 5th century university, which functioned until the 7th century. All the lecture halls are of identical dimensions. Each contains rows of stepped benches in a form of semicircle and an elevated seat apparently for the lecturer.
. . Ancient Alexandria was home to a library, which was founded about 295 B.C. and burned to the ground in the 4th century. Ruins were never found, but Alexandria was an intellectual center where scholars are thought to have produced the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and edited Homer's works.
Jan 1, 04: Russian scientists uncovered a 30,000-year-old site where ancient hunters lived on the Yana River in Siberia, some 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle and not far from the Bering land bridge that then connected Asia with North America. The discovery is very significant because it is so much earlier than any other proven evidence of people living in the frigid lands of Siberia that formed the gateway to the Americas.
. . The Yana River area was freezing but ice free, a dry flood plain without glaciers. It was home to mammoth, horse, musk ox and other animals that provided food for the human hunters.
. . "It makes it plausible that the first peopling of the Americas occurred prior to the last glacial maximum." That was 20,000 to 25,000 years ago. The Bering land bridge connected the two continents until about 11,000 years ago, when a rising sea level flooded the connection and created what is now called the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska. "Getting people across to the New World was not the problem", said Grayson. "The problem was getting people into that part of the world so they could cross."
Nov 15, 03: Cyprus's national theater company, Thoc, plans a modern-day world premiere of Aeschylus's Trojan War story Achilles in Cyprus --summer '04. Scholars had believed the trilogy to be lost forever when the Library of Alexandria burned to ashes in 48 BC. "But in the last decades, archaeologists found mummies in Egypt which were stuffed with papyrus, containing excerpts of the original plays of Aeschylus."
Nov 26, 03: The vast group of languages that dominates Europe and much of Central and South Asia originated around 8,000 years ago among farmers in what is now Anatolia, Turkey. According to this idea, words --like genes-- survive according to their fitness.
. . So say a pair of New Zealand academics who have remarkably retraced the family tree of so-called Indo- European languages -- a linguistic classification that covers scores of tongues ranging from Faroese to Hindi by way of English, French, German, Gujarati, Nepalese and Russian.
. . About 6,000 years ago, the western branch of linguistic migration began to fork into smaller branches, according to their calculations. The branches progressively became the Celtic languages (2,900 years ago), Romance languages (1,700 years ago) and, 1,750 years ago, the Germanic languages of northern Europe, including rudimentary English.
. . As for the eastern branch, the biggest fork occurred about 4,600 years ago. It split into two groups, one of which became the languages of Central Asia today while the other eventually evolved into the major languages of the latter-day sub-continent.
Nov 18, 03: Small colorful fish are disappearing from the reefs of Vanuatu owing to surging demand for tropical aquarium fish prompted by the hit cartoon movie "Finding Nemo".
Nov 20, 03: Driftnets are killing tens of thousands of dolphins in the Mediterranean despite bans on the fishing method by the European Union and United Nations, a major environmental group said. The Swiss-based WWF-International said fishermen from Italy, France, Turkey and Morocco --and probably other countries-- were decimating the dolphin population as well as shark and turtle species by using the nets. [I think they mean much more than mere decimation, which is only 10%. ]
. . The 15-nation EU banned all driftnet fishing by member states from January 1 last year and there has been a U.N. moratorium on large-scale driftnets since 1992.
. . They said the Moroccan driftnet fleet with 177 boats was "the most lethal for Mediterranean marine biodiversity", catching annually 3,000-4,000 of one threatened dolphin variety alone in a south-western part of the sea. This was more than one tenth of the dolphin population of the area, known as the Alboran sea.
. . The WWF said the Italian driftnet fleet, which had 700 boats in the early 1990s, still had nearly 100 boats that had not been adapted despite restructuring subsidies from the EU, & France still had 75 boats that did not comply with the Brussels ban.
Oct 31, 03: The mysterious 5,200-year-old iceman found in an Alpine glacier was born in a valley in what is now northern Italy and didn't travel far from home Indeed, the iceman, known as Oetzi, probably spent his whole life within about 37 miles of the spot near the Italy-Austria border where he was found frozen.
. . They studied the forms of different elements in Oetzi's teeth, bones and intestines and compared them with the types found in water and soil in the region. Elements such as oxygen and argon are found in different forms, called isotopes, and by comparing the ratio of one isotope to another in body tissue scientists can determine the source of the food or water the person has been consuming. The researchers also looked at the isotopes of strontium and lead in Oetzi.
. . Bone analysis of the isotope level ingested as an adult shows a contribution from both northern and southern water sources, something they said could indicate migration into one or more of several nearby valleys. The isotope ratios for strontium and lead vary depending on the types of rock and soil in an area. The scientists also analyzed the argon ratio of bits of mica found in the intestine, believed to have been ingested as a result of eating stone-ground grain.
. . Using this data, the team was able to rule out the region south of Bolzano as home to Oetzi, saying instead that he more likely resided in the Schnals or Etsch/Adige valley near Merano or the nearby Ulten, middle Eisack or lower Puster valleys, between Bolzano and the Austrian border. They noted that one location, Feldthurns, near Bressanone in the Eisack valley, gives the closest match between local soils and Oetzi's tooth enamel.
Sept 18, 03: Brazil's northern Amazon region, once thought to have been pristine until modern development began encroaching, actually hosted sophisticated networks of towns and villages hundreds of years ago, researchers said. The settlements dated to between 1200 A.D. and 1600 A.D.
. . Archeological evidence and satellite images show the area was densely settled long before Columbus and European settlers arrived, with towns featuring plazas, roads up to 150 feet wide, deep moats and bridges, the researchers found.
. . The roads were mathematically parallel."In the villages sometimes the roads are 50 meters wide. Why 50 meters? There were no wheeled vehicles. Heckenberger believes the wide boulevards and plazas were the early Xinguano society's version of monuments --akin to the pyramids of the Maya. [JKH: why assume the boulevards were empty?! --cuda been markets, etc.]
Aug, '03: Ancient Romans in Britain apparently wore socks with their sandals, a modern-day fashion faux-pas, archeologists at work on a 2,000-year-old site in south London have revealed. A foot belonging to a bronze statue, unearthed on the 1.2 hectare (usta be three acre) site of a Roman temple complex, appears to be wearing a kind of woollen stocking under a Mediterreanean-type sandal. "We know from the writings of Tacitus that the weather in Britain was terrible."
Aug 13, 03: A prehistoric Italian iceman nicknamed "Otzi" may have been shot in the back with an arrow, but he only died after prolonged combat with his foes, new DNA evidence has shown.
. . The 5,000-year-old corpse, dug out of a glacier in northern Italy more than a decade ago, had traces of blood from four different people on his clothes and weapons, a molecular archeologist said. He also had "defensive cut wounds" on his hands, wrists and rib cage.
. . "I think one of the things we could advance is that he shot at least two different people and retrieved his arrow, but then he shot at something else and missed, shattering his arrow."
. . Loy took initial blood samples from Otzi's arrows, knife and coat in July. Amplifying and sequencing the samples, he concluded they belonged to four different people --not including Otzi himself.
Aug 13, 03: For centuries, scholars have debated whether Caligula, the Roman empire's eccentric third ruler, was a megalomaniac who dared to defy the gods or a maligned emperor whose caprices were exaggerated after his death.
. . Now, a group of archaeologists digging up Caligula's ancient palace say they have finally found concrete evidence that he was indeed a "maniac" who turned one of Rome's most revered temples into the front porch of his residence.
Mar 30, 03: Egyptian archaeologists opened a 5,000-year- old wooden coffin in the desert near Cairo to find a pile of bones which they said showed the oldest evidence yet found of human mummification in Egypt. The bones were covered with a resin used in the mummification process and remnants of skin.
May, 01: A handful of 13,000-year-old shards, excavated in Russia's Amur river valley, has shattered the common archaeological belief that the Japanese made the first pottery.

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