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Shaman stones found in Panama include magnetic rocks, crystals


An archaeologist and her colleagues have identified a cache of 12 unusual rocks and crystals in a cave in western Panama, but just what the stones were used for is unclear.
Forget wands, talismen and cauldrons -- in Pre-Columbian Central America, it was all about magic rocks.

An archaeologist and her colleagues have identified a cache of 12 unusual rocks and crystals in a cave in western Panama, but just what the stones were used for is unclear.

The minerals were found in an archaeological site known as the Casita de Piedra rock-shelter, near the town of Boquete. Analysis of charcoal bits found directly above and below the stones suggest they date back 4,000 to 4,800 years.
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Storms reveal Iron Age skeleton

Skeletal Remains
© Shetland Amenity Trust
Skeletal remains uncovered by storms.
A series of storms that hit Scotland's Shetland Islands over the holidays revealed what archaeologists believe could be 2,000-year-old human remains.

Police were initially called to the scene when storms eroded a cliff at Channerwick and exposed the skeleton, but officials soon determined that they wouldn't have to open a homicide investigation.

Local archaeologist Chris Dyer said the ancient skeleton looked as if it were contemporary with the remains of Iron Age structures revealed nearby. Researchers then identified evidence of one or possibly two more burials at the site, but another storm caused a further chunk of the cliff to crumble, covering up the discovery.
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'Peaceful' Minoans surprisingly warlike

Minotaur
© Public domain
The Greek hero Theseus slays the minotaur in this 6th-century depiction on pottery.
The civilization made famous by the myth of the Minotaur was as warlike as their bull-headed mascot, new research suggests.

The ancient people of Crete, also known as Minoan, were once thought to be a bunch of peaceniks. That view has become more complex in recent years, but now University of Sheffield archaeologist Barry Molloy says that war wasn't just a part of Minoan society - it was a defining part.

"Ideologies of war are shown to have permeated religion, art, industry, politics and trade, and the social practices surrounding martial traditions were demonstrably a structural part of how this society evolved and how they saw themselves," Molloy said in a statement.
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Elgin Marbles and the Parthenon

Elgin Marbles
© Mark Higgins | Shutterstock
A marble frieze from the Parthenon, now displayed in the British Museum, depicts a procession of gods and mortals.
The Elgin Marbles, sometimes referred to as the Parthenon sculptures, are a collection of marble sculptures that originally adorned the top of the exterior of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, and are now in London, England.

They are currently exhibited, free to the public, in the Duveen Gallery in the British Museum. Although today the sculptures appear white, originally they were painted in vivid colors, something that new research is revealing.

The marbles in London were removed from the Parthenon in the first decade of the 19th century under the auspices of Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin, and were first exhibited in London in 1807. Their removal is deeply controversial and the Greek government has requested that they be repatriated, a debate that has garnered extensive media attention. Not all the sculptures from the Parthenon are in the British Museum; another large portion is still in Athens, while a few other sculptures are in different museums throughout the world.
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Genes show Indian influence in Australia

Australia might not have been as isolated for the 40,000 years before European colonisation as once thought.

A new study has found evidence of substantial gene flow between Indian populations and Australia about 4000 years ago.

The researchers also suggest the dingo might have arrived on Australian shores about that time, along with tool technology and food processing.

The study, published in the journal PNAS, says it was commonly assumed that Australia remained largely isolated following initial colonisation some 40,000 years ago - but genetic histories had not been explored in detail.

Irina Pugach, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, joined colleagues in analysing large-scale genotyping data from Aboriginal Australians, New Guineans, island Southeast Asians and Indians that suggest a new possibility.

The authors found a common origin for populations in Australia, New Guinea and the Mamanwa (a Negrito group from the Philippines) and estimated these groups split from each other about 36,000 years ago.
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New fossils help bring hobbit humans to life

© SUSAN HAYES, UNIVERSITY OF WOLLONGONG
A reconstruction of a Hobbit face.
New bones attributed to Homo floresiensis -- aka the "Hobbit Human" -- along with other recent findings, are helping to reveal what members of this species looked like, how they behaved, and their origins.

The latest findings, described in a Journal of Human Evolution paper, are wrist bones unearthed on the Indonesian island of Flores. Since they are nearly identical to other such bones for the Hobbit found at the site, they refute claims that H. floresiensis never existed.

"The tiny people from Flores were not simply diseased modern humans," Caley Orr, lead author of the paper, told Discovery News.

"The new species of human stood approximately 3' 6" tall, giving it its nickname 'The Hobbit,'" continued Orr, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy at Midwestern University.

He said that they were "similar to modern humans in many respects." For example, he explained that they walked on two legs, had small canine teeth, and lived what appears to have been an iconic "cave man'" lifestyle.
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Down the drain: Lost items reveal Roman bath activities

Ancient Bath
© mary416 , Shutterstock
A pool in an ancient Pompeii bath.

Ever go swimming with rings on your fingers or hoops in your ears only to find your jewelry had vanished after your dip?

If so, you've got something in common with ancient Romans.

A new study of objects lost down the drains in the bathhouses from the Roman Empire reveals that people got up to all sorts of things in these gathering places. They bathed, of course, but they also adorned themselves with trinkets, snacked on finger foods and even did needlework.

"For the Romans, the baths weren't just a place to get clean, but this larger social center where a variety of activities were taking place," said study researcher Alissa Whitmore, a doctoral candidate in archaeology at the University of Iowa.
Pharoah

Ancient tombs unearthed in Egypt

© Image from cefb.it
The excavations on the area of the Temple of Millions of years of Amenhotep II (XVIII Dynasty).
A group of Italian archaeologists have reportedly discovered tombs in the ancient city of Luxor believed to be at least 3000 years old.

Egypt's Antiquities Minister told AP the discovery was made beneath the mortuary temple of King Amenhotep II. The temple of the seventh Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, who reigned from 1427 to 1401 B.C., is situated on the west bank of the Nile.
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Pompeii 'wall posts' reveal ancient social networks

Ruins of Pompeii
© perspectivestock / Shutterstock.com
The ruins of Pompeii. In A.D. 79, a massive eruption by Mount Vesuvius buried the town in ash, freezing it in time.
Think of it as the earliest version of the Facebook wall post: Ancient Pompeii residents revealed their social networks through graffiti on actual walls.

Now, a new analysis of some of these scribbled messages reveals the walls of the wealthy were highly sought after, especially for political candidates hoping to drum up votes. The findings suggest that Pompeii homeowners may have had some control over who got artistic on their walls, said study researcher Eeva-Maria Viitanen, an archaeologist at the University of Helsinki.

"The current view is that any candidate could have chosen any location and have their ad painted on the wall. After looking at the contexts, this would not seem very likely," Viitanen told LiveScience. "The facades of the private houses and even the streetwalks in front of them were controlled and maintained by the owner of the house, and in that respect, the idea that the wall space could be appropriated by anyone who wanted to do it seems unlikely."
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2,000-year-old treasure discovered in Black Sea fortress

Buried Treasure
© Russian-Ukrainian Archaeological Artezian Expedition
Researchers working at the site of Artezian in the Crimea (Ukraine) have discovered two hoards of buried treasure (one hoard shown here) dating to A.D. 45, a time when the people of the citadel were under siege by the Roman army. Here, two silver anklets, beads, numerous coins and a white, glass flask with a two-headed face, one side serious and the other happy.
Residents of a town under siege by the Roman army about 2,000 years ago buried two hoards of treasure in the town's citadel - treasure recently excavated by archaeologists.

More than 200 coins, mainly bronze, were found along with "various items of gold, silver and bronze jewelry and glass vessels" inside an ancient fortress within the Artezian settlement in the Crimea (in Ukraine), the researchers wrote in the most recent edition of the journal Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia.

"The fortress had been besieged. Wealthy people from the settlement and the neighborhood had tried to hide there from the Romans. They had buried their hoards inside the citadel," Nikolaï Vinokurov, a professor at Moscow State Pedagogical University, explained. [See Photos of the Buried Treasure]

Artezian, which covered an area of at least 3.2 acres (1.3 hectares) and also had a necropolis (a cemetery), was part of the Bosporus Kingdom. At the time, the kingdom's fate was torn between two brothers - Mithridates VIII, who sought independence from Rome, and his younger brother, Cotys I, who was in favor of keeping the kingdom a client state of the growing empire. Rome sent an army to support Cotys, establishing him in the Bosporan capital and torching settlements controlled by Mithridates, including Artezian.

People huddled in the fortress for protection as the Romans attacked, but Vinokurov said they knew they were doomed. "We can say that these hoards were funeral sacrifices. It was obvious for the people that they were going to die shortly," he wrote in an email to LiveScience. The siege and fall of the fortress occurred in AD 45.

Curiously, each hoard included exactly 55 coins minted by Mithridates VIII. "This is possibly just a simple coincidence, or perhaps these were equal sums received by the owners of these caskets from the supporters of Mithridates," the team wrote in its paper.
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