Archive for October, 2011

Topic Cooking near Stonehenge:

Stonehenge, Wiltshire county, England

Image via Wikipedia

An archeological treasure trove unearthed by a team from the Open University
could transform our understanding of Stonehenge. The most significant artifacts
uncovered are two carved ducks, the first of their kind to be found in
The ducks were likely, say the team, to be a result of the Bronze
Age tradition of carving animal figurines which were then thrown into water as
But while the ducks date back to 700 BCE, a ceremonial dagger
was also found which was twice as old, originating around 1400 BCE. However,
another item which the team of diggers initially believed was a cow’s tooth was
revealed by radiocarbon dating to date back to around 6250 BCE, some 3,000 years
before work began on Stonehenge. It was part of a tranche of more than 200
animal bones that were buried alongside evidence of a large fire, suggesting a
Mesolithic feast for up to 100 people. The bones transpired not to be from cows
but instead from aurochs, a now extinct animal about the size of a buffalo.

“It’s probably one the earliest recorded hot meals in Britain, with these
people likely cooking this huge creature,” Open University tutor David Jacques,
who led the field work, said. Further excavations revealed a hoarde of more than
5,500 worked flints and tools. Given that only a few Mesolithic items had ever
previously been found around Stonehenge, the discovery is strong evidence of the
continuity of human life at the site. That means Stonehenge could have been a
site of great significance to humans for several thousand years before the
monument was built.
“It’s not a surprise because we new there was a
Mesolithic monument there somewhere, because of the (totem) posts that were
found during the excavation of the car park some years ago,” said Mr Jacques.
“The massive missing link between those two things has been that there is no
evidence of people using them until now,” he added.
Mr David Jacques,
who runs a course on Roman History, used his OU students to excavate a site
north east of the Iron Age hill fort known as Vespasian’s Camp. Digging down
into the bed of a former spring revealed the trove of artifacts. The team began
its excavations at the privately owned land in 2005 and has relied on council
and English Heritage funding. It is now hoping to attract more funds to support
its work.

Original article:


October 5, 2011


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Topic Salt Site Lincolnshire England

Salt site dig

Archaeologists say the community who settled on the site in
25AD would have traded salt for food

Hundreds of artefacts have been unearthed at a
2,000-year-old salt making site on the Lincolnshire fens.

Pottery, hair pins and tools were found during a two-week dig at Willow Tree
Fen, near Bourne.

Archaeologist David Trimble said the full story of salt production at the
site had been unravelled.

Experts were invited to carry out excavations by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
prior to the area being turned into a nature reserve.

Essential in 25AD

Two thousand years ago the fens would have looked very different, with tidal
creeks running far inland, experts said.

Mr Trimble, the site’s project manager, said: “Salt making was fairly common
on a small scale on the Lincolnshire coast.

“Each village community might be going out on to the
salt marsh and making a bit of their own,” he said.

Seawater would have been collected in ceramic pans and boiled, leaving behind
the salt.

The community who settled on the site in 25AD would have used salt in their
diet, for preserving meat and for trading for food and goods.

Remnants of the salt making process found at the dig at Willow Tree Fen will
be analysed before being given to a local museum.

The site is to become part of a 114-hectare nature reserve attracting
wildlife such as wading birds and dragonflies.

Marcus Craythorne, from Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, said: “My primary
concern is what’s happening on the surface, establishing the grassland habitat
to bring in the wildlife, but to go down just a foot and travel back 2,000 years
is really interesting.”

The archaeologists’ finding and the story of the site will be to be told in
an interpretation centre at Willow Tree Fen.

Use the link below to see a short vido on the subject.

Original article:

October 4, 2011


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Category:Maps of the Mongol Empire

Image via Wikipedia

Topic: What foods will archaeologists find?

I picked this up from yahoo. I can’t wait to see what food stuffs they find in such a wreak, and in what condition they will be.

Marine archeologists say that the ancient wreckage of a ship discovered in the seabed off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan, belongs to the ancient “lost fleet” of ships belonging to China‘s 13th century Mongol ruler Kublai Khan, CNN reports.

Explorers found the 20-meter-long shipwreck by using ultra-sound equipment some 25 meters off the coast of Nagasaki. The team of researchers buried the ultra-sound sensors about a meter deep in the sandy earth beneath the sea. Archeologists believe the ship dates back to 1281, and was part of a 4,400-vessel fleet that China’s Mongol rulers during the Yuan Dynasty had employed as an invasion force.

The discovery of the ship’s well preserved and mostly intact 12-meter-long keel “could go a long way to helping researchers identify all the characteristics of the 20-meter warship,” CNN reported, citing the head of the research team that made the discovery.

“This discovery was of major importance for our research,” Yoshifumi Ikeda, of Okinawa’s University of the Ryukyus, said at a recent press conference in Nagasaki, according to the CNN report. “We are planning to expand search efforts and find   further information that can help us restore the whole ship.”

According to Japanese legend, two typhoons–known as the Kamikaze–that occurred seven years apart in the 13th century twice saved Japan from Mongol invasion by “destroy[ing] two separate Mongol invasions fleets so large they were not eclipsed until the D-Day landings  of World War II,” CNN reported. China was not so spared, however, and was ruled by the Mongol Yuan Dynasty from 1271-1368.

“According to a contemporary account cited in the book Khubilai Khan’s Lost fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada,”  by maritime archaeologist James P. Delgado, the typhoon’s destruction of the over 4,000-vessel Yuan Dynasty invasion fleet created such a vast quantity of material wreckage “that ‘a person could walk across from one point of land to another on a  mass of wreckage,'” CNN reported.

The wooden-planked ship, originally believed to have been painted light gray, is among “more than 4,000 artifacts, including ceramic shards, bricks used for   ballast, cannonballs and stone anchors [that] have been found in the vicinity   of the wreck, linking it to the Yuan Dynasty invasion fleet,” CNN reported.

Link shows a vido of the site: yahoonews

Original article:

By By Laura Rozen | The Envoy

Oct 26, 2011

The Envoy is the Yahoo! News foreign affairs blog bringing readers news of Washington and the world at-large.


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Topic: Early tools

201110227432 | 9,000 Year Old Tools Found in Mexico.

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Topic: Hunter-Gathers also farmed the land


Archaeology | Agriculture’s role in our societies not so simple.

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Topic: Diet of early man

New technologies challenge old ideas about early hominid diets.

Original article:

oct 13, 2011


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Topic:Greeks ship bearing food gifts

DNA tests of shipwrecked jars illuminate early trade markets in the Mediterranean.

Researchers were able to retrieve DNA from ancient Greek amphorae and use it to determine what the jars once held.Theotokis Theodoulou

A DNA analysis of ancient storage jars suggests that Greek sailors traded a wide range of foods — not just wine, as many historians have assumed. The study, in press at the  Journal of Archaeological Science1, finds evidence of vegetables, herbs and nuts in nine jars taken from Mediterranean shipwrecks. The researchers say DNA testing of underwater artefacts from different time periods could help to reveal how such complex markets developed across the Mediterranean.

Archaeologist Brendan Foley of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts and geneticist Maria Hansson of Lund University, Sweden, retrieved DNA from nine amphorae — the storage containers of the ancient world — from sunken ships dating from the fifth to the third centuries BC.

The researchers found grape DNA — as would be expected for containers of wine — in only five of the nine jars, and olive DNA, possibly from olive oil, in six of them. Other ‘hits’ included DNA from legumes, ginger, walnut and juniper and from herbs such as mint, thyme and oregano.

Amphorae have been found in their thousands in wrecks all over the Mediterranean Sea. Some of them contain residues of food, such as olive pits and fish bones, but the vast majority of them are discovered empty and unmarked.

Foley says historians tend to assume that these containers were used mainly to transport wine — in a survey of 27 peer-reviewed studies describing 5,860 amphorae, he found that 95% of the jars were described as having carried the beverage.

Out of the darkness

To test that assumption, he and Hansson first investigated an amphora that was donated to WHOI by the French diver and explorer Jacques Cousteau, but it yielded only a Carling Black Label beer can from the 1950s.

So they gained permission from Greek authorities to test amphorae that had been held in storerooms in Athens since their retrieval as many as 20 years ago. This time, the tests were successful, possibly because the jars had been kept in the dark, protecting the DNA from the damaging effects of sunlight.

The range of ingredients found in each jar suggests that amphorae were commonly reused, and that they may have contained more complex foodstuffs than previously imagined, incorporating herbal flavourings or preservatives.

Mark Lawall, a specialist in ancient Mediterranean trade at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, says that historians have been quick to make assumptions about how the jars were used. “They just restated the common opinion without any thought,” he says. He says the team’s results fit with other archaeological and written evidence suggesting wine, oil and honey were traded, as well as fruit, fish, meat and resin.

He says the DNA approach offers “great promise for advances in terms of analysing amphora contents from archaeologically documented wrecks”, where DNA data can be combined with other sources of information about a ship and its contents.

This is indeed the team’s plan — they already have plans to analyse samples taken from a fully excavated third-century-BC wreck that was found near Kyrenia, Cyprus. Foley says he would also like to screen amphorae of different ages to build a picture of how ancient trade developed over time, pinpointing when different crops were introduced.

Theotokis Theodoulou, an archaeologist at the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in Athens and a co-author on the paper, says there are “several thousand” amphorae held in store rooms around Greece, which could now be tested. “Even when they have been in store rooms for two decades, DNA is still on them,” he says.

The study of DNA from underwater artefacts is still in its infancy, but in theory, the stable temperatures and pH of sea water should preserve DNA well, adds Matthew Collins, a bioarchaeologist from the University of York, UK.

The approach is not necessarily limited to amphorae — it could also be used on tableware, or on small bottles and jars that might have held cosmetics or medicines, says Foley. “This opens up an entirely new view of this early market,” he says. “Now we can start to record what was actually being traded.”

Original Article:

by Jo Marchant, 10/14/2011


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