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Ancient Text Confirms Mayan Calendar End Date

Mayan Carved Block
© David Stuart
Carved blocks uncovered at La Corona show scenes of Mayan life and record a political history of the city.
A newly discovered Mayan text reveals the "end date" for the Mayan calendar, becoming only the second known document to do so. But unlike some modern people, ancient Maya did not expect the world to end on that date, researchers said.

"This text talks about ancient political history rather than prophecy," Marcello Canuto, the director of Tulane University Middle America Research Institute, said in a statement. "This new evidence suggests that the 13 bak'tun date was an important calendrical event that would have been celebrated by the ancient Maya; however, they make no apocalyptic prophecies whatsoever regarding the date."

The Mayan Long Count calendar is divided into bak'tuns, or 144,000-day cycles that begin at the Maya creation date. The winter solstice of 2012 (Dec. 21) is the last day of the 13th bak'tun, marking what the Maya people would have seen as a full cycle of creation.

New Age believers and doomsday types have attributed great meaning to the Dec. 21, 2012 date, with some predicting an apocalypse and others some sort of profound global spiritual event. But only one archaeological reference to the 2012 date had ever been found, as an inscription on a monument dating back to around A.D. 669 in Tortuguero, Mexico.

Now, researchers exploring the Mayan ruins of La Corona in Guatemala have unearthed a second reference. On a stairway block carved with hieroglyphs, archaeologists found a commemoration of a visit by Yuknoom Yich'aak K'ahk' of Calakmul, the most powerful Mayan ruler in his day. The king, also known as Jaguar Paw, suffered a terrible defeat in battle by the Kingdom of Tikal in 695.
Cow Skull

Cow and woman found in Cambridgeshire Anglo-Saxon dig

© Unknown
Archaeologists described the find as "unique in Europe"
Archaeologists excavating an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Cambridgeshire say the discovery of a woman buried with a cow is a "genuinely bizarre" find.

The grave was uncovered in Oakington by students from Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire.

At first it was thought the animal skeleton was a horse.

Student Jake Nuttall said: "Male warriors might be buried with horses, but a woman and a cow is new to us."

He added: "We were excited when we thought we had a horse, but realising it was a cow made it even more bizarre."

Co-director of the excavation, Dr Duncan Sayer, from the University of Central Lancashire, said: "Animal burials are extremely rare, anyway.
Sherlock

Massive hoard of Iron Age coins discovered in Jersey after 30-year search

© Jersey Heritage/PA
An examination of the massive hoard of Iron Age coins found on the island of Jersey.
The largest hoard of Iron Age Celtic coins found anywhere in northern Europe has been discovered by two amateur metal detectorists who have been searching in the same field in Jersey for 30 years.

Reg Mead and Richard Miles found up to 50,000 silver and bronze coins, which remain clumped inside a massive block of soil. They had been hunting for buried treasure inspired by legends that a local farmer once turned up silver coins while working on the land. Earlier this year, they finally found 60 silver coins and one gold, dating from the 1st century BC. Every coin, Mead said, gave them the same thrill. "We are talking about searching for 40 to 50 hours to get these coins out, and every one gives you the same buzz."
Sherlock

'Syria's Stonehenge': Mysterious Ruins in Desert Could be 10,000 Years Old

A mysterious ancient building in Syria, described as a 'landscape for the dead' could be as old as 10,000 years ago - far older than the Great Pyramid.

But scientists have been unable to explore the ruins, unearthed in 2009, because of the conflict in the region.

The strange stone formations were uncovered in 2009, by archaeologist Robert Mason of the Royal Ontario Museum, who came across stone lines, circles, and tombs in a near-lifeless area of desert.
Syrian Ruins_1
© Daily Mail, UK
The strange stone formations were uncovered in 2009, by archaeologist Robert Mason of the Royal Ontario Museum, who came across stone lines, circles, and tombs in a near-lifeless area of desert near a monastery (pictured).
Mason talked about the finds at Harvard's Semitic Museum, said that more investigation is required to understand the mysterious rock structures - and how old they are - but Mason is unsure whether he will ever be able to return to the ruins.
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Rome Icon Actually Younger Than the City

She-Wolf
© Marcin Floryan/Wikimedia Commons
The Capitoline she wolf.
The icon of Rome's foundation, a life-size bronze statue of a she-wolf with two human infants suckling her, is about 1,700 years younger than its city, Rome's officials admitted on Saturday.

The official announcement, made at the Capitoline Museums, where the 30 inch-high bronze is the centerpiece of a dedicated room, quashes the belief that the sculpture was adopted by the earliest Romans as a symbol for their city.

"The new dating ranges between 1021 e il 1153," said Lucio Calcagnile, who carried radiocarbon tests at the University of Salento's Center for Dating e Diagnostics.

Recalling the story of a she-wolf which fed Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, and his twin brother, Remus, after they had been thrown in a basket into the Tiber River, the so called "Lupa Capitolina" (Capitoline she-wolf) was donated to the museum in 1471 by Pope Sixtus IV.

The sculpture was thought to be either the product of an Etruscan workshop in the 5th century B.C. or the masterpiece of the 6th century B.C. Etruscan sculptor Vulca of Veii.
Sherlock

Scrap of European iron found: creates 500-year-old Canadian mystery

mystery iron artifact
© Handout
Image of the site of the Mantle archaeological site in present-day Whitchurch-Stouffville, a suburban community just north of Lake Ontario about 40 km east of Toronto.
A Canadian archeologist who excavated the remains of a 500-year-old First Nations settlement near Toronto has revealed a stunning discovery: a carefully buried, European-made metal object that somehow reached the 16th-century Huron village nearly 100 years before the documented arrival of any white man in the Lake Ontario region.

The unearthing of what appears to be part of a wrought-iron axe head at the so-called "Mantle" archeological site in present-day Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ont. - a fast-growing suburb about 40 kilometres east of Toronto - is showcased in a new documentary film, titled Curse of the Axe, to be screened for the first time Monday at the Royal Ontario Museum and broadcast nationwide July 9 on History Television.

The documentary details the quest by Toronto-based archeologist Ron Williamson and his colleagues to identify the composition and origin of the metal artifact and determine how it might have wound up so far inland - at least 1,500 kilometres west of any 16th-century European whaling or fishing station on the Atlantic coast - at such an early time in Canadian history.

The Mantle site is described by Williamson as "the most complex village ever in northeastern North America." Researchers have recovered tens of thousands of artifacts indicating it was a sprawling settlement with dozens of longhouses and a fort-like palisade, all surrounded by cornfields used to feed as many as 2,000 Huron inhabitants for several decades beginning around 1500 A.D.
Pharoah

Googly-Eyed Egyptian Talisman Discovered

© Egypt Centre/Swansea University
Bes, a dwarf god and protector of young children and pregnant women, is depicted in this faience bell from the first millennium B.C.
The ancient Egyptian artifact was once used to magically protect children and pregnant mothers from evil. A newly identified googly-eyed artifact may have been used by the ancient Egyptians to magically protect children and pregnant mothers from evil forces.

Made of faience, a delicate material that contains silica, the pale-green talisman of sorts dates to sometime in the first millennium B.C. It shows the dwarf god Bes with his tongue sticking out, eyes googly, wearing a crown of feathers. A hole at the top of the face was likely used to suspend it like a bell, while a second hole, used to hold the bell clapper, was apparently drilled into it in antiquity.

Carolyn Graves-Brown, a curator at the Egypt Centre, discovered the artifact in the collection of Woking College, the equivalent of a high school for juniors and seniors. The college has more than 50 little-studied Egyptian artifacts, which were recently lent to the Egypt Centre at Swansea University where they are being studied and documented. [Gallery: Amazing Egyptian Discoveries]
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Mysterious Structure May Have Led to Ancient Artificial Island

Ancient Strutcure_1
© Steve Clarke
The western side of the site with the timber-beam slots continuing beyond the excavation. So far the researchers have found they extend at least 50 feet long.
Archaeologists have unearthed the foundation of what appears to have been a massive, ancient structure, possibly a bridge leading to an artificial island, in what is now southeast Wales. The strange ruin, its discoverers say, is unlike anything found before in the United Kingdom and possibly all of Europe.

"It's a real mystery," said Steve Clarke, chairman and founding member of the Monmouth Archaeological Society, who discovered the structural remains earlier this month in Monmouth, Wales - a town known for its rich archaeological features. "Whatever it is, there's nothing else like it. It may well be unique."

Clarke and his team discovered the remnants of three giant timber beams placed alongside one another on a floodplainat the edge of an ancient lake that has long since filled with silt. After being set into the ground, the pieces of timber decayed, leaving anaerobic (oxygen-free) clay, which formed after silt filled in the timbers' empty slots, Clarke told LiveScience.

The team initially thought the timber structures were once sleeper beams, or shafts of timber placed in the ground to form the foundations of a house. However, the pieces appear to be too large for that purpose. While a typical sleeper beam would span about 1 foot (30 centimeters) across, these timber beams were over 3 feet wide and at least 50 feet long (or about 1 meter by 15 meters). The archaeologists are still digging and don't yet know how much longer the timbers are. Clarke says the structure's builders appear to have placed whole trees, cut in half lengthwise, into the ground.
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Mysterious Building -- Older Than Pyramids?

Prehistoric Structure in Wales
© Steve Clarke
Mysterious prehistoric structure in Wales.
British archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a mysterious prehistoric structure that might be older than Egypt's pyramids.

Discovered during work at a housing development in Monmouth, Wales, the bulky feature consists of a series of trenches possibly housing the timber foundations of a massive building.

"We have what appear to be huge parallel sleeper beams set close to the edge of an ancient, dried up lake," archaeologist Steve Clarke of Monmouth Archaeology told Discovery News.

Made from what seems to be entire tree trunks, the sleeper beams are huge, measuring more than 50 ft in lenght and more than 3 ft across.

"It's huge and presumably prehistoric but otherwise we haven't a clue what it is, we don't know how old it is and we don't know how long it is," Clarke said.

Continuing beyond the excavations, the timber structure was cut into the surface of a burnt mound, presumably dating to the Bronze Age.
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Stonehenge a Monument to Unity, New Theory Suggests

Stonehenge
© Albo, Shutterstock
The reason for Stonehenge's construction is unknown.


The mysterious structure of Stonehenge may have been built as a symbol of peace and unity, according to a new theory by British researchers.

During the monument's construction around 3000 B.C. to 2500 B.C., Britain's Neolithic people were becoming increasingly unified, said study leader Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield.

"There was a growing islandwide culture - the same styles of houses, pottery and other material forms were used from Orkney to the south coast," Parker Pearson said in a statement, referring to the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland. "This was very different to the regionalism of previous centuries."

By definition, Stonehenge would have required cooperation, Parker Pearson added.

"Stonehenge itself was a massive undertaking, requiring the labor of thousands to move stones from as far away as west Wales, shaping them and erecting them. Just the work itself, requiring everything literally to pull together, would have been an act of unification," he said.

The new theory, detailed in a new book by Parker Pearson, Stonehenge: Exploring the Greatest Stone Age Mystery (Simon & Schuster, 2012), is one of many hypotheses about the mysterious monument. Theories range from completely far-fetched (space aliens or the wizard Merlin built it!) to far more evidence-based (the monument may have been an astronomical calendar, a burial site, or both).
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