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Ancient tomb found near Sweden's 'Stonehenge'

© Annika Knarrström, Swedish National Heritage Board
Archaeologists clearing part of the trench with Ale's Stones in the background.
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.

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Expedition to legendary city of Troy begins in 2013

© Photos.com
Troy is a legendary city and center of The Trojan War, as described in The Epic Cycle, and especially in The Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer. Today it is the name of an archaeological site, the traditional location of Homeric Troy, Turkish Truva, in Hisarlık in Anatolia, close to the seacoast in what is now Çanakkale Province in Northwest Turkey, Southwest of the Dardanelles under Mount Ida.
"Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men. Now the wind scatters the old leaves across the earth, now the living timber bursts with the new buds and spring comes round again. And so with men: as one generation comes to life, another dies away." ― Homer, The Iliad
The city-state of Troy is the stuff of legends, with mythical heroes, women of unsurpassed beauty and the fabled wooden Trojan Horse. Now a cross-disciplinary team of scientists will begin a new excavation project in 2013.

University of Wisconsin-Madison classics Professor William Aylward will lead the expedition. Aylward is an archaeologist with a long history of experience digging in the ruins of the classical world, including in Troy itself. The new excavation project, which will be a series of summer-time expeditions, will be an international collaboration with many organizations, conducted under the auspices and in cooperation with Turkey's Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, which is close to the site of Troy.

"Troy is a touchstone of Western civilization," says Aylward. "Although the site has been excavated in the past, there is much yet to be discovered. Our plan is to extend work to unexplored areas of the site and to systematically employ new technologies to extract even more information about the people who lived here thousands of years ago."

Sherlock

Did Lenin travel to Ireland to meet Irish revolutionary hero? Irish PM drops bombshell at Michael Collins commemoration speech

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Russian embassy says Lenin spoke English with Irish accent

Enda Kenny has received support from the most unexpected quarter after his Michael Collins gaffe - with the Russians backing him.

The Irish PM had to backtrack after telling a commemoration honouring Collins that the famous Irish rebel had brought Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin to Ireland.

Kenny was forced to backtrack and admit that there was no evidence to support the theory that Lenin had visited the country at the invitation of Collins.

But now a report in the Irish Independent says that the Russians have offered Kenny some diplomatic support in the row.

The Russians have even claimed that there is proof that communist boss Lenin spoke English with an Irish accent.

Pyramid

Unsolved Mystery: Ancient Tunnels at Baiae

© Wikicommons
Baiae and the Bay of Naples, painted by J.M.W. Turner in 1823, well before modernization of the area obliterated most traces of its Roman past.
There is nothing remotely Elysian about the Phlegræan Fields, which lie on the north shore of the Bay of Naples; nothing sylvan, nothing green. The Fields are part of the caldera of a volcano that is the twin of Mount Vesuvius, a few miles to the east, the destroyer of Pompeii. The volcano is still active - it last erupted in 1538, and once possessed a crater that measured eight miles across - but most of it is underwater now. The portion that is still accessible on land consists of a barren, rubble-strewn plateau. Fire bursts from the rocks in places, and clouds of sulfurous gas snake out of vents leading up from deep underground.

The Fields, in short, are hellish, and it is no surprise that in Greek and Roman myth they were associated with all manner of strange tales. Most interesting, perhaps, is the legend of the Cumæan sibyl, who took her name from the nearby town of Cumæ, a Greek colony dating to about 500 B.C. - a time when the Etruscans still held sway much of central Italy and Rome was nothing but a city-state ruled over by a line of tyrannical kings.

The sibyl, so the story goes, was a woman named Amalthaea who lurked in a cave on the Phlegræan Fields. She had once been young and beautiful - beautiful enough to attract the attentions of the sun god, Apollo, who offered her one wish in exchange for her virginity. Pointing to a heap of dust, Amalthaea asked for a year of life for each particle in the pile, but (as is usually the way in such old tales) failed to allow for the vindictiveness of the gods. Ovid, in Metamorphoses, has her lament that "like a fool, I did not ask that all those years should come with ageless youth, as well." Instead, she aged but could not die. Virgil depicts her scribbling the future on oak leaves that lay scattered about the entrance to her cave, and states that the cave itself concealed an entrance to the underworld.

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Mystery of ancient city's alignment comes down to the sun

© Martin Heemskerck
Both practical and beautiful, the 400-foot lighthouse at the mouth of Alexandria harbor started guiding sailors home around 250 BC. A fire made the lighthouse glow at night and a mirror reflected sun rays during the day, some say up to 35 miles away. The Pharos of Alexandria, an ancient lighthouse, is depicted in this hand-colored engraving by Martin Heemskerck.
The Egyptian city of Alexandria, home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, may have been built to align with the rising sun on the day of Alexander the Great's birth, a new study finds.

The Macedonian king, who commanded an empire that stretched from Greece to Egypt to the Indus River in what is now India, founded the city of Alexandria in 331 B.C. The town would later become hugely prosperous, home to Cleopatra, the magnificent Royal Library of Alexandria and the 450-foot-tall (140 meters) Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the wonders of the ancient world. Today, more than 4 million people live in modern Alexandria.

Ancient Alexandria was planned around a main east-west thoroughfare called Canopic Road, said Giulio Magli, an archaeoastronomer at the Politecnico of Milan. A study of the ancient route reveals it is not laid out according to topography; for example, it doesn't run quite parallel to the coastline. But on the birthday of Alexander the Great, the rising sun of the fourth century rose "in almost perfect alignment with the road," Magli said.

The results, he added, could help researchers in the hunt for the elusive tomb of Alexander. Ancient texts hold that the king's body was placed in a gold casket in a gold sarcophagus, later replaced with glass. The tomb, located somewhere in Alexandria, has been lost for nearly 2,000 years.

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Cyprus: Archaeologists explore ancient shopping mall

Archaeologists exploring the Agora (market) of ancient Paphos have found a small tablet with the name of an official in Greek and a plethora of other artefacts including a golden pendant, it was announced this week.

"The most spectacular finds are a golden earring or pendant, ending in an ivy leaf, bronze objects such as a jug, a ladle with an iron handle, bronze ring, numerous coins, pins and other artefacts," the department of antiquities said. "The most notable artefact among the lead objects - apart from a ladle with an iron handle, similar to the one uncovered last year, and weights - is a small tablet with Greek inscription mentioning the official - - Seleukos, son of Agoranomos (market administrator) Ioulios Bathylos.

Paphos was the capital of Cyprus in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Sherlock

World's best-preserved gladiatorial relics are discovered in the suburbs of York


A 4th century mosaic showing a gladiator in combat
Eighty skeletons - including one apparently killed by a large carnivore - found close to city centre

Archaeologists investigating an ancient Roman burial site in Britain have identified what may be the world's best preserved remains of gladiators and other arena fighters who entertained audiences through bloody confrontations with wild animals.

Eighty skeletons have been unearthed at the site in Driffield Terrace, south west of the centre of York, over the past decade. One man appears to have been killed by a large carnivore - almost certainly a lion, tiger or bear. Others have weapon impact damage and many of them have specific features, including marks on their bones, consistent with tough training regimes.

Sherlock

Understanding Stonehenge: Two Explanations

© Getty Images
A symbol of unity or healing? The debate continues.
Was the prehistoric monument built to unite a land or as a destination to heal the sick? Recent research supports both ideas.

After centuries of puzzling over the meaning of Stonehenge, laser-equipped researchers have concluded that the prehistoric monument was built to show off the solstices.

Apart from revealing 71 new images of Bronze Age axeheads, which bring the number of this type of carvings known at Stonehenge to 115, the English Heritage groundbreaking analysis showed that the stones were shaped and crafted differently in various parts of the stone circle.

In particular, the stones first seen when approaching the monument from the north-east were completely "pick dressed." Stonehenge workers removed their brown and grey surface crust to show a bright, grey-white surface that would glisten at sunset on the shortest day of the year and in the dawn light on the longest day.

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Spot where Julius Caesar was stabbed discovered

© Antonio Monterroso/CSIC
This is the monumental complex in Torre Argentina (Rome), where Julius Caesar was stabbed.
Archaeologists believe they have found the first physical evidence of the spot where Julius Caesar died, according to a new Spanish National Research Council report.

Caesar, the head of the Roman Republic, was stabbed to death by a group of rival Roman senators on March 14, 44 B.C, the Ides of March. The assassination is well-covered in classical texts, but until now, researchers had no archaeological evidence of the place where it happened.

Now, archaeologists have unearthed a concrete structure nearly 10 feet wide and 6.5 feet tall (3 meters by 2 meters) that may have been erected by Caesar's successor to condemn the assassination. The structure is at the base of the Curia, or Theater, of Pompey, the spot where classical writers reported the stabbing took place.

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A pre-Islamic civilization in Saudi Arabia

© Flickr/SammySix
The ancient past of one of the world's most closed countries is beginning to be revealed.Mada'in Saleh, about 200 miles north of Medina in northwestern Saudi Arabia, is an impressive remnant of the Nabataean civilization, the same people who built Petra in Jordan 2,000 years ago. Massive tombs carved out of cliffs tower over the desert. Some are decorated with carvings or bear ancient inscriptions dedicated to the dead who lie within. Around the tombs are the ruins of a once-thriving city at a key node of an extensive trade network.

The Nabataean Kingdom stretched from its capital Petra in what is now Jordan deep into the Arabian Peninsula. It grew wealthy from trading in incense from southern Arabia to the Mediterranean. Incense was used in religious rituals and burials and was vitally important for many cultures, including the Romans. The Nabataeans had a powerful kingdom from 168 B.C. until the Roman Empire annexed it in 106 A.D.

Mada'in Saleh was near the southern edge of Nabataean territory, perfectly poised to control the trade route. Even though it's in the middle of a desert, there are good wells at the site and the Nabataeans managed to cultivate sizable tracts of land.