Archive for October, 2012


Topic:ancient fishing village

The Department of Anthropology at the University of Northern British Columbia recently finished excavating the remains of an ancient fishing village on the Babine river 100km northeast of Smithers. The project was part of a continuing partnership between the Department, the University, and the Lake Babine Nation (LBN).

“We recovered a tremendous amount of interesting data, including over 400 artefacts made from stone, bone, bark and metal,” says UNBC Anthropology Professor Farid Rahemtulla who directed the project. “The nature of these materials indicates potentially a large time span of use for the house, from ancient times to European contact and into more recent times.”

One of many long houses

A crew including several UNBC student volunteers spent six weeks in July, August, and September excavating the remains of one of the many long houses at the ancient fishing village.

Over 400 artefacts made from stone, bone, bark and metal were recovered, indicating that the excavated longhouse was in existence over a long period of time. Image: UNBC

“Contributing to such a project at an undergraduate level was extremely valuable in developing skills and experiencing the time, work, and emotions that are put into a project,” says UNBC Anthropology student Delaney Prysnuk. “Understanding and applying the concepts and politics that we are taught in class in a real life situation is very important.”

1300 year old settlement

In 2010, the village was the focus of UNBC’s Archaeology Field School, which revealed that the settlement was at least 1,300 years old. As a result of those findings, the LBN invited the Department to conduct a more research-intensive excavation, funded by the LBN Treaty Office.

Lake Babine Nation expressed its appreciation for the efforts of Dr. Rahemtulla and said it is pleased to see the protocol agreement between Lake Babine and UNBC resulting in such mutually beneficial projects. “These findings confirm the histories that our elders have passed on to us,” says Chief Wilfred Adam of Lake Babine Nation. “It is gratifying to see multi-year projects such as this one moving ahead. We look forward to working with UNBC on many more projects in the future.”

Dr. Rahemtulla says the next step will be to conduct a number of analyses, and some of the UNBC graduate students on the crew will use the information for their thesis research. When the results become available, the group plans to publish the work and give public presentations about the project.

Source: University of Northern British Columbia

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Original article:
past horizons



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Topic: Ancient Olive Trees

Olive trees in the Jerusalem garden where Jesus Christ prayed before he was crucified have “miraculously” lived through the past nine centuries bacteria-free, according to a molecular research presented last week at the Vatican Radio in Rome.

Carried by a team of researchers from Italy’s National Research Council (CNR) and various Italian universities, the three-year study investigated eight gnarled olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane, one of the holiest sites of Christendom.

The research found that three of the eight healthy trees (the only ones on which it was technically possible to carry out the dating) come from the middle of the 12th century, although the roots underground are certainly much older.

“These olives are among the oldest broad-leaved trees in the world,” lead researcher Antonio Cimato of the CNR’s Tree and Timber Institute in Florence, said.

Carbon dating showed that the trees come from the years 1092, 1166 and 1198, a period when the Crusaders, engaged in the reconstruction of the great churches of the Holy Land, re-built the Basilica of Gethsemane in Jerusalem.

According to the researchers, it is likely that during the construction of the church, the olive garden was rearranged and renovated.

Indeed, olive trees can grow back after being cut down or even burnt.

DNA analysis of the eight trees revealed they were all related to a single, older tree.

“All eight trees have similar genetic profiles, meaning they are olive ‘twins,’ all children of a single specimen,” Cimato said.

According to the researcher, this means the olives were not spontaneous trees, but were deliberately planted.

Why did the Crusaders choose one single tree, among the thousands growing in Jerusalem? Were they trying to preserve a specific, meaningful lineage? Are the olives linked to the very trees under which, according to the gospel of Luke, Jesus sweat drops of blood as he prayed?

The questions will remain unanswered, according to Cimato.

“Finding the original tree is impossible,” he said.

Despite their age, the 900-year-old olive trees were found in excellent health, unaffected by lead pollution and bacteria.

Amazingly, the garden’s earth appears to block insects and bacterial proliferation.

“I would call it a small miracle,” Cimato said.

Photos: Olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane. Credit: Corbis

Original article:

By Rossella Lorenzi

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Topic: golden cup

Archaeologists have dated a rare golden cup uearthed near the town of Montecchio Emilia in Northern Italy to about 1800 B.C., making it one of only three other similar golden cups discovered in Europe and Britain that have intrigued archaeologists and historians for years.

The cup turned up during a survey of a gravel pit located along terraces adjacent to the Enza River. Previous surveys in nearby areas also revealed evidence of dwellings of the late-Neolithic and Bronze Ages (IV-III millennium B.C), terramara cremation urns from the mid-recent Bronze Age (XIV-XII centuries B.C.), and Etruscan graves.

A recent report stated that “It had clearly been lifted up and partially moved by the plough quite some time ago. No structure, tomb or anything else that could be correlated to the original resting place of the cup was found: evidently, it must have been buried in a simple hole in the bare earth. It appears to have been smashed in ancient times, then later partially broken by a plough, which seems to have pulled out a small piece”.

Archaeologists suggest that it might have served as a ritual cup, but the difficulty of its context when found has left archaeologists puzzled about the use, meaning and owners of the vessel. As reported, “No other elements – from strictly the same period as the Montecchio cup – were found in the gravel pit area: it thus must have been hidden away or placed there as a votive offering, although some information from the archives, presently under examination, might be able to link the cup to a finding of 13 gold objects, apparently from the Bronze Age, when a field in Montecchio was ploughed on January 18, 1782: unfortunately, the items were melted down. All that remains are lively descriptions from the period”.

Regarding the three other similar cups found in previous investigations, one was discovered in Fritzdorf, Germany in 1954 (pictured right) and is currently exhibited at the Landesmuseum in Bonn, Germany. The other two are exhibited at the British Museum and were found, respectively, in Rillaton (Cornwall) and Ringlemore (Kent) in the U.K. The U.K. cups differed from the Italian and German cups in that they featured a corrugated external surface. It is thought that there could be a trade system relationship that links the cups. According to Dr. Filippo Maria Gambari, Superintendent of the Archaeological Heritage of Emilia Romagna, “this find ideally links this area of Italy with the henges of the United Kingdom and the area of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany)”.

Scientists sudying the vessel found in Italy hope that further testing and analysis will provide clues relating to the origin, purpose, and makers, including its possible relationship to the other cups and the trade relationships and systems that existed at the time of its manufacture. Says Gambari, “this research could change the well-established ideas of trade in Bronze Age Europe”.

Original article:
popular archaeology
October26, 2012

Photos courtesy Archaeological Heritage of Emilia Romagna.


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Topic Not foody but…

I just couldn’t resist posting this even though it isn’t about food, still it mentions King Ale and who knows what else they might find once they excavate further, perhaps some sort of village or a great hall where food was prepared, let’s hope.

The remains of a 5,500-year-old tomb near Ale’s Stones, a megalithic monument where, according to myth, the legendary King Ale lies buried, has been discovered by Swedish archaeologists. The discovery is the product of a geophysical investigation of the area carried out in 2006.

Intrigued by a circular structure measuring about 165 feet in diameter with a rectangular feature in its center, archaeologists of the Swedish National Heritage Board decided to dig a trial trench.

“The outer circle was difficult to prove, but we did find vague traces at the spot, possibly imprints of smaller stones,” archaeologist Bengt Söderberg told Discovery News.

In the middle, the researchers found “several components” that are evidence of a dolmen, a megalithic portal tomb usually made of two vertical stones supporting a large flat horizontal stone on top.

“The components consisted of imprints of large stones belonging to a central grave chamber, which was surrounded by large stones and a brim of smaller stones,” Söderberg said.

Oriented north-south, the 65- by 26-foot dolmen dated to the Swedish early Neolithic period, about 5,500 years ago.

“We also found a blade, a scraper and some flakes of flint. This is not unusual when it comes to this type of graves,” Söderberg said.

According to archaeologist Annika Knarrström of the Swedish National Heritage Board, the dolmen was likely “the grave of some local magnate.”

“However, we have little data to really tell who was buried there,” Knarrström said.

The newly discovered dolmen lay just 130 feet from the spectacular Ales Stenar (“Ale’s Stones”), also known as “Sweden’s Stonehenge.”

Located near the fishing village of Kåseberga, the structure consists of 59 stones, each weighing up to 4,000 pounds, that appear to form a 220-foot-long ship overlooking the Baltic Sea.

Although some researchers argue that the stone formation was assembled 2,500 years ago, during the Scandinavian Bronze Age, most scholars agree that it dates back some 1,400 years, toward the end of the Nordic Iron Age.

Like Stonehenge, the enigmatic stone ship has raised many theories about its purpose. According to local folklore, it was the final resting place of a legendary leader known as King Ale. Other theories suggest it was an ancient astronomical calendar, a cemetery, or a monument to the Vikings. The newly discovered dolmen might provide new clues on the pre-history of the monument.

“Our findings confirm what we have long suspected: Some stone-built monuments might have stood on the ridge long before the Ale’s Stones,” Knarrström said.

The older stones, as well as those making the dolmen, were most likely reused to build the stone ship.

“This discovery also confirms our belief that the site must have attracted people in all times,” Knarrström said.

Photos: Top: Archaeologists clearing part of the trench with Ale’s Stones in the background. Credit: Annika Knarrström, Swedish National Heritage Board.

Middle: Detail from the west brim of the dolmen. Archaeologist Annika Knarrström puts a mark on one of the many small stones in the brim, after digitally measuring its position. Credit: Bengt Söderberg, Swedish National Heritage Board.

Bottom: Ale’s Stones, also known as “Sweden’s Stonehenge,” consists of 59 stones that appear to form a 220-foot-long ship overlooking the Baltic Sea near the fishing village of Kåseberga. Credit: Anders LageråsI/ Wikimedia Commons.

Original article:
By Rossella Lorenzi, Oct 2012



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Topic: Etruscan tombs under wine cellar

Click on the viedo link Ancient Etruscan House   for images of an ancient house

The subterranean pyramids found in Orvieto, Italy could offer a unique insight into the mysterious Etruscan culture. Stairs carved into the wall can be seen at left. Click to enlarge this image.
The first ever Etruscan pyramids have been located underneath a wine cellar in the city of Orvieto in central Italy, according to a team of U.S. and Italian archaeologists.

Carved into the rock of the tufa plateau –a sedimentary area that is a result of volcanic activity — on which the city stands, the subterranean structures were largely filled. Only the top-most modern layer was visible.

“Within this upper section, which had been modified in modern times and was used as a wine cellar, we noticed a series of ancient stairs carved into the wall. They were clearly of Etruscan construction,” David B. George of the Department of Classics at Saint Anselm, told Discovery News.

As they started digging, George and co-director of the excavation Claudio Bizzarri of the Parco Archeologico Ambientale dell’Orvietano noted that the cave’s walls were tapered up in a pyramidal fashion. Intriguingly, a series of tunnels, again of Etruscan construction, ran underneath the wine cellar hinting to the possibility of deeper undiscovered structures below.
After going through a mid-20th century floor, George and Bizzarri reached a medieval floor. Immediately beneath this floor, they found a layer of fill that contained various artifacts such as Attic red figure pottery from the middle of the 5th Century B.C., 6th and 5th century B.C. Etruscan pottery with inscriptions as well as various objects that dated to before 1000 B.C.

Digging through this layer, the archaeologists found 5 feet of gray sterile fill, which was intentionally deposited from a hole in the top of the structure.

“Below that material there was a brown layer that we are currently excavating. Intriguingly, the stone carved stairs run down the wall as we continue digging. We still don’t know where they are going to take us,” Bizzarri told Discovery News.

VIDEO: Ancient Etruscan House Found
The material from the deepest level reached so far (the archaeologists have pushed down about 10 feet) dates to around the middle of the fifth century B.C.

“At this level we found a tunnel running to another pyramidal structure and dating from before the 5th century B.C. which adds to the mystery,” George said.

Indeed, the Etruscans have long been considered one of antiquity’s greatest enigmas.

A fun-loving and eclectic people who among other things taught the French how to make wine, the Romans how to build roads, and introduced the art of writing to Europe, the Etruscans began to flourish in Etruria (an area in central Italy area that covered now are Tuscany, Latium, Emilia-Romagna and Umbria) around 900 B.C., and then dominated much of the country for five centuries.

Known for their art, agriculture, fine metalworking and commerce, they started to decline during the fifth century B.C., as the Romans grew in power. By 300-100 B.C., they eventually became absorbed into the Roman empire.
Their puzzling, non-Indo-European language was virtually extinguished and they left no literature to document their society. Indeed, much of what we know about them comes from their cemeteries: only the richly decorated tombs they left behind have provided clues to fully reconstruct their history.

The subterranean pyramids in Orvieto could offer a unique insight into this civilization as the structures appear to be unique.

“The caves have indeed a shape unknown elsewhere in Etruria,” Larissa Bonfante, professor emerita of classics at New York University and a leading expert on the ancient Etruscans, told Discovery News.

According to Bizzarri, there are at least five Etruscan pyramids under the city. Three of these structures have yet to be excavated.

“Clearly, they are not quarries or cisterns. I would say that there is nothing like these structures on record anywhere in Italy,” Bizzarri said.

According to George, the underground pyramids could represent some sort of a religious structure or a tomb. In both cases, it would be a discovery without precedent.

“Most likely, the answer waits at the bottom. The problem is we don’t really know how much we have to dig to get down there,” Bizzarri said.

Original article

By rossella-lorenzi

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Topic: Pandas




A Chinese scientist says that humans used to eat pandas.

In a newspaper interview, Wei Guangbiao says prehistoric man ate the bears in what is now part of the city of Chongqing in southwest China.

Wei, the head of the Institute of Three Gorges Paleoanthropology at a Chongqing museum, says many excavated panda fossils “showed that pandas were once slashed to death by man.”

The Chongqing Morning Post quoted him on Friday as saying: “In primitive times, people wouldn’t kill animals that were useless to them” and therefore the pandas must have been used as food.

But he says pandas were much smaller then.

Wei says wild pandas lived in Chongqing’s high mountains 10,000 to 1 million years ago.

Pandas don’t eat much apart from bamboo.

Original article:


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I just found this article I intended to post last October but somehow missed.


Topic hunter-gatherer behavior

By studying ancient landforms, archaeologists are uncovering evidence of a novel hunter-gatherer behavior

Many bays have been lost to development, but Johns Bay, located in Allendale County, South Carolina, is still viable and filled with water. Thousands of years ago, Archaic hunter-gatherers came to these pond-like bodies of water in the fall or winter to process large, wild birds that would migrate to the bays seasonally.
(Courtesy Christopher R. Moore/SRARP)
A steady warm breeze barely ruffles the high-rise canopy of tall, straight pine trees. Diffuse sunlight filters down to the ground. Underfoot, maypop vines, flaunting fancy lavender blossoms, slyly tangle with poison ivy on a crunchy carpet of pine needles patched with peek-a-boo white sand. A bird chirps. A gnat bites. A vehicle whirs along a distant unseen road. At first take it could all pass for an unremarkable stretch of Southeastern woods. But to archaeologists of the Savannah River Archaeological Research Program (SRARP), this is Flamingo Bay. It’s a shining example of an ancient landform, once a pond-like body of accumulated rainwater with the nontechnical name “Carolina bay,” where they are finding new knowledge of Middle Archaic hunter-gatherer sustenance, industry, and lifestyles.

Mark J. Brooks, an archaeologist at the University of South Carolina and director of SRARP, trudges across the slight rise of sand that surrounds the bay as he gestures toward the scattered handful of blue, white, and orange flags stuck in the dry ground. Only the center of Flamingo Bay occasionally holds water these days. The flags indicate recent investigation. Brooks says, “From the samples we have taken we know that this area had a major concentration of food-processing activity. We have evidence that small groups of people returned here repeatedly, every fall or early winter.”

The archaeological record that Brooks and his colleagues have uncovered shows that hunter-gatherers at this bay, and perhaps others, stood notably apart from other prehistoric groups in their use of natural resources. In pre-agrarian times here, as elsewhere, people typically banded together to forage for food. They gravitated toward forests, plentifully supplied with game, deer being the main meat in their diet, and toward oceans, rivers, and streams for a steady harvest of fish and other seafood.

Brooks, though, and Christopher R. Moore, also a University of South Carolina and SRARP archaeologist, have discovered a sophisticated departure from these patterns. They have found artifacts along the edges of Carolina bays that are specifically associated with a well-organized system of preserving the meat of large migratory birds. Evidence shows that every autumn or winter people would return to the bay site, which reliably provided all the raw materials—including slow-combusting hickory nut shells, not practical for fuel but excellent for the smoking process—needed to stockpile great amounts of food. Underlying this activity would have been an understanding on the part of these prehistoric peoples that birds would arrive at Carolina bays at particular times of year and in great numbers.

Original article:
By Margaret Shakespeare, a freelance writer living in New York City and Long Island.

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