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Thu, 02 Dec 2021
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Secret History


US: Archaeological research gives glimpse of life on Maine coast

© Courtesy of: Dr. Arthur Spiess
The darker cod vertebra, left, was excavated from a shell midden site in Acadia National Park and is estimated to be 2,000 years old. It is shown in comparison to vertebra from a more recently caught cod, right.
An archaeological research project focusing on the food remnants left by pre-Columbian inhabitants of coastal Maine is shedding new light on the diet and habits of some of Maine's earliest citizens. The big find: indigenous people in Maine held to the coast during the winter until the arrival of Europeans changed their long established migratory patterns.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Arthur Spiess - who is both the lead archaeologist for the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and a board member with Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor - have since the summer of 2010 been examining items recovered from a coastal shell midden within Acadia National Park. The project was funded by the L.L. Bean Acadia Research Fellowship and was facilitated by Acadia National Park staff.

A shell midden is essentially an ancient dump site where the leftovers of the meals of native Maine inhabitants were discarded. According to Spiess, the discovery of clam and mussel shells mixed with bones of other food animals at such sites is a great boon to archaeologists. Typically, the acidic soil common to Maine will cause most discarded bones to completely decompose within 100 years. The presence of shells at midden sites has the effect of neutralizing the soil, allowing fish, bird and mammal bones to remain intact for millennia. There reportedly exist thousands of shell middens worth excavating along the coast of Maine, three quarters of which are located around Frenchman Bay.

The items Spiess and his team have been studying recently are estimated to be around 2,500 years old - a period of time known as the ceramic period - and were excavated from a site within Acadia National Park in the late 1970s by University of Maine archaeologist Dr. David Sanger. For Spiess, the research of items from the Acadia shell midden site is one small part of a larger study.


UK: Secret history of Cwmbran revealed in community project

© unknown
The project has involved 150 volunteers from the surrounding area
Historical secrets uncovered during one of Wales' largest community archaeology projects are to be revealed at a public meeting.

Local volunteers joined archaeologists to investigate several ancient sites in Cwmbran, Torfaen, with obscure origins.

The research focused on sites of archaeological interest in the Thornhill and Greenmeadow areas, one of which dates back more than 3,500 years.

Project leader Richard Davies said the work had "only scratched the surface".

Cwmbran is mainly known for the post-war new town, but the area has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

The Iron Age Silures tribe later held sway before being subdued by the Romans but this 18-month series of investigations has proved a history stretching back to the Bronze and Stone Ages.


Did Neanderthals Believe in an Afterlife?

Neanderthal Burials
© Corbis
Neanderthals may have conducted burials and possessed symbolic thought before modern humans had these abilities. The site, Sima de las Palomas in Murcia, Southeast Spain, may also be the first known Neanderthal burial ground of Mediterranean Europe.

Evidence for a likely 50,000-year-old Neanderthal burial ground that includes the remains of at least three individuals has been unearthed in Spain, according to a Quaternary International paper.

The deceased appear to have been intentionally buried, with each Neanderthal's arms folded such that the hands were close to the head. Remains of other Neanderthals have been found in this position, suggesting that it held meaning.

Neanderthals therefore may have conducted burials and possessed symbolic thought before modern humans had these abilities. The site, Sima de las Palomas in Murcia, Southeast Spain, may also be the first known Neanderthal burial ground of Mediterranean Europe.

"We cannot say much (about the skeletons) except that we surmise the site was regarded as somehow relevant in regard to the remains of deceased Neanderthals," lead author Michael Walker told Discovery News. "Their tools and food remains, not to mention signs of fires having been lit, which we have excavated indicate they visited the site more than once."

Walker, a professor in the Department of Zoology and Physical Anthropology at the University of Murcia, and his colleagues have been working at the site for some time. So far they have found buried articulated skeletons for a young adult female, a juvenile or child, and an adult -- possibly male -- Neanderthal.

Light Sabers

Northern England: Prehistoric war unearthed in Peak District

Evidence for a hitherto totally unknown prehistoric war has been discovered in northern England. Archaeologists excavating the remains of a large fortified Iron Age settlement at Fin Cop in the Peak District have so far found the skeletons of nine victims of what they believe was a massacre which took place around 2400 years ago.

However, they suspect that dozens of other victims may still lie buried there. Poignantly, the nine corpses - mainly of women and children - had been thrown into a two metre deep rock-cut ditch originally built to defend the settlement.

Only ten out of 400 metres of the ditch have so far been excavated. So it's conceivable that the entire rock-cut dry moat could contain literally hundreds of victims. As well as killing the women and children of the ten acre settlement, the attackers also systematically destroyed it, tearing down the dry stone defences with extraordinary ferocity.


Archaeological Survey of India to hold exhibition at Khirsara

The excavation branch of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will organise an exhibition at Khirsara in Kutch on Monday to draw attention towards this site of western Kutch once citadel of Harappan civilisation.

"We are holding this exhibition at primary school of Khirsara to mark the World Heritage Day," says superintending archaeologist (excavation branch) of ASI's Vadodara circle Jitendra Nath.

ASI is conducting excavations at Khirsara in Nakhatrana taluka of Kutch district since 2009-10. "The excavations carried during last two seasons have yielded very interesting results," says Nath, adding that the tripartite plan shows that there was a fortified settlement at Khirsara comprising a citadel, a habitation annexed and even a 'ware house'.


Russia: Archeologists Find Mysterious 4200-Year-Old Circles in Murmansk Region

© Unknown
An earlier unknown monument of archeology has been discovered on Peninsula Sredniy, Murmansk Region.

Workers of the Arctic Technologies company carrying out geological exploration occasionally found strange circles of stones and then the object was examined by archeologists.

Archeologists were amazed at strange constructions of boulders - these are well distinguishable stone-laid circles six meters in diameter with a crosswise masonry inside.


Evolutionary Babel was in southern Africa, a researcher claims

Where did humanity utter its first words? A new linguistic analysis attempts to rewrite the story of Babel by borrowing from the methods of genetic analysis - and finds that modern language originated in sub-Saharan Africa and spread across the world with migrating human populations.

Quentin Atkinson of the University of Auckland in New Zealand designed a computer program to analyse the diversity of 504 languages. Specifically, the program focused on phonemes - the sounds that make up words, like "c", "a", and "tch" in the word "catch".

Earlier research has shown that the more people speak a language, the higher its phonemic diversity. arge populations tend to draw on a more varied jumble of consonants, vowels and tones than smaller .

Africa turned out to have the greatest phonemic diversity - it is the only place in the world where languages incorporate clicks of the tongue into their vocabularies, for instance - while South America and Oceania have the smallest. Remarkably, this echoes genetic analyses showing that African populations have higher genetic diversity than European, Asian and American populations.

Light Sabers

Bones of Leper Warrior Found in Medieval Cemetery

Warrior Leprosy Middle Age
© Mauro Rubini
Bone wasting reveals the owner of this skull to have suffered from leprosy. An unhealed gash on the forehead suggests that the man died a violent death, perhaps in battle
The bones of a soldier with leprosy who may have died in battle have been found in a medieval Italian cemetery, along with skeletons of men who survived blows to the head with battle-axes and maces.

Studying ancient leprosy, which is caused by a bacterial infection, may help scientists figure out how the infectious disease evolved.

The find also reveals the warlike ways of the semi-nomadic people who lived in the area between the sixth and eighth centuries, said study researcher Mauro Rubini, an anthropologist at Foggia University in Italy. The war wounds, which showed evidence of surgical intervention, provide a peek into the medical capabilities of medieval inhabitants of Italy.

"They knew well the art of war and also the art of treating war wounds," Rubini told LiveScience.

Card - VISA

Ancient 'debit card' discovered in Saxony-Anhalt

Archaeologists in the town of Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, have unearthed a 453-year-old wooden "tally stick" used to keep track of debts.

Ancient Credit Card
© unknown
"It's something of a rare find in Europe" said archaeologist Andreas Hille from the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt.

The antiquated debt counter measures 30 centimetres in length and displays 23 notches, with both a name and the date 1558 visible.

Archaeologists made the exciting find during excavations in the small easterly university town of Wittenberg, made famous by the Protestant theologian Martin Luther.

The well-preserved tally stick was used in the Middle Ages to count the debts owed by the holder in a time when most people were unable to read or write.


Sands, Not Lights, Cover Gaza Archaeology Sites

Gaza Strip
© Reuters / Suhaib Salem
Palestinians build a house in the southern Gaza Strip, in an April 2009 photo.

Khan Younis - Five thousand years of fascinating history lie beneath the sands of the Gaza Strip, from blinded biblical hero Samson to British general Allenby.

The flat, sandy lands on the Mediterranean's southeastern shore have been ruled by Ancient Egyptians, Philistines, Romans, Byzantines and Crusaders.

Alexander the Great besieged the city. Emperor Hadrian visited. Mongols raided Gaza, and 1,400 years ago Islamic armies invaded. Gaza has been part of the Ottoman Empire, a camp for Napoleon and a First World War battleground.

But archaeology here does not flourish.

"The only way to preserve what we discover is to bury it until the proper tools are available," says Hassan Abu Halabyea of the Gaza ministry of Tourism and Archaeology.

"We lack the capability, the support and the proper materials needed to maintain this historical site or that. We bury it to preserve it from destruction," he says.