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Archaeologists discover Skeleton in Doctor's Garden

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© Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Bristol
A University of Bristol archaeologist uncovering the skeleton in Dr Jenner's garden
A skeleton, possibly dating from Roman times, has been unearthed by archaeologists from the University of Bristol during a dig in the garden of vaccination pioneer Dr Edward Jenner in Berkeley, Gloucestershire.

The archaeologists, led by Professor Mark Horton and Dr Stuart Prior, have been excavating part of the garden of The Chantry, the former country home of vaccination pioneer, Dr Edward Jenner (1749-1823), during a series of annual digs since 2007. They have already established that Berkeley is an important Anglo-Saxon site with a mynster of the same scale and status as Gloucester.

Sherlock

Nubian Mummies Had 'Modern' Disease

Nubian Mummy
© Dennis Van Gerven
One of the Nubian mummies studied by the team led by Amber Campbell Hibbs and George Armelagos at Emory University.

A "modern" disease of humans may have been what sickened ancient Nubian cultures, research on more than 200 mummies has found. The mummies were infected by a parasitic worm associated with irrigation ditches.

The disease, called schistosomiasis, is contracted through the skin when a person comes into contact with worm-infested waters. The disease infects over 200 million people worldwide a year; once contracted, the disease causes a rash, followed by fever, chills, cough and muscle aches. If infection goes untreated, it can damage the liver, intestines, lungs and bladder.

The species of Schistosoma worm, called S. mansoni, found to be prevalent in the Nubian mummies had been thought of as a more recent agent of disease, linked to urban life and stagnant water in irrigation ditches.

"It is the one most prevalent in the delta region of Egypt now, and researchers have always assumed that it was a more recent pathogen, but now we show that goes back thousands of years," said study researcher George Armelagos of Emory University in Atlanta.

Although Armelagos and his colleagues weren't able to discern how bad the infections were in these Nubians, they said those who were infected would have felt run down - which would have affected their work (mostly farming).

Key

Ancient Iberian sanctuary uncovered in Villajoyosa

Iberian Sanctuary
© Town Hall
The dig in Villajoyosa

Evidence of an ancient Iberian sanctuary dedicated to the Mother Goddess has been uncovered at a site in Villajoyosa. EFE reports that the project is sponsored by the French Foreign Ministry in collaboration with the local Town Hall.

Archaeological experts from the Town Hall and the universities of Alicante and Paris have been working at the dig at La Malladeta since 2005 and their findings are due to be presented in Madrid this summer. They have found clues hidden in the 190 archaeological strata they have investigated which suggest that the site was active as an Iberian sanctuary over the 4th-1st Centuries BC.

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Forerunner of Egyptian Pyramids found in Romania?

Tomb Romania

Archaeologists claim to have found a forerunner to the pyramids not in Egypt - but in southern Romania.

The discovery being hailed as a sensation has been dated as being over 4,500 years old after it was unearthed in Aricestii Rahtivani, in Prahova county in southern Romania.

Archaeologist Alin Franculeasa, from the History and Archeology Museum in Prahova, said: "If we take the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen - he reigned between 1333 - 1323 BC, but this tomb is even older - from a man who obviously also had great wealth and importance but who would have lived 4,500 years ago.

"There are clearly similarities between the tomb we are looking at and that of the pyramids.

Info

Human Ancestors in Eurasia Earlier Than Thought

Homo Erectus
© photolibrary.com
A new find has muddied the water on the origins of Homo erectus.

Archaeologists have long thought that Homo erectus, humanity's first ancestor to spread around the world, evolved in Africa before dispersing throughout Europe and Asia. But evidence of tool-making at the border of Europe and Asia is challenging that assumption.

Reid Ferring, an anthropologist at the University of North Texas in Denton, and his colleagues excavated the Dmanisi site in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia. They found stone artefacts - mostly flakes that were dropped as hominins knapped rocks to create tools for butchering animals - lying in sediments almost 1.85 million years old. Until now, anthropologists have thought that H. erectus evolved between 1.78 million and 1.65 million years ago - after the Dmanisi tools would have been made.

Furthermore, the distribution of the 122 artefacts paints a picture of long-term occupation of the area. Instead of all the finds being concentrated in one layer of sediment, which would indicate that hominins visited the site briefly on one occasion, the artefacts are spread through several layers of sediment that span the period between 1.85 million and 1.77 million years ago. The findings are published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.1

"This is indeed suggestive of a sustained regional population which had successfully adapted to the temperate environments of the southern Caucasus," explains Wil Roebroeks, an archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Pharoah

Pyramid Hieroglyphs Likely Engineering Numbers

Hieroglyphs
© Djedi Team
Hieroglyphs written in red paint on the floor of a hidden chamber in Egypt's Great Pyramid are numerical signs meaning 100, 20 and 1.

Mysterious hieroglyphs written in red paint on the floor of a hidden chamber in Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza are just numbers, according to a mathematical analysis of the 4,500-year-old mausoleum.

Shown to the world last month, when the first report of a robot exploration of the Great Pyramid was published in the Annales du Service Des Antiquities de l'Egypte (ASAE), the images revealed features that have not been seen by human eyes since the construction of the monument.

Researchers were particularly intrigued by three red ochre figures painted on the floor of a hidden chamber at the end of a tunnel deep inside the pyramid.

"There are many unanswered questions that these images raise," Rob Richardson, the engineer who designed the robot at the University of Leeds, told Discovery News. "Why is there writing in this space? What does the writing say? There appears to be a masonry cutting mark next to the figures: why was it not cut along this line?" Richardson wondered.

Magic Wand

Athos of Romania: The mystical cave churches and the Buzau Mountains' enigma

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© Unknown
One of the most interesting ecumenical sites in Romania is just a stone´s throw away from Bucharest, though far away from any civilisation or tourism circuit. An isolated, spiritual and magical place, full of history, where time seems to stand still. The cave churches and settlements of Buzau are not less than the cradle of Christianity on Romanian territory - an archaeological and cultural treasure amidst breathtaking landscape.

Locals believe in the spirituality of this region, which has been used as a worship place for several thousands of years. Hundreds of legends and paranormal appearances have been reported. Even dictator Nicolae Ceausescu sent a special agent of his secret service to investigate the so-called enigma of Buzau Mountains. Today, only very few tourists visit this extraordinary region, not only due to the missing infrastructure, but also due to the widely neglected tourism promotion by local authorities.

This place is unlike any other tourism destination in Romania. It is not made for hundred of buses, even off-road cars cannot access some areas. It is not made just to take some pictures and to eat some grilled meat with French fries.

The journey is the reward. You can already feel it once you have left the national road between Buzau and Brasov, in the village of Patarlagele where you enter the amber region of Colti, the only place in Romania where amber was extracted. Amber is a fossil resin and estimated to be 50-60 million years old. The Romanian amber is regarded as one of the oldest in the world. Amber is said to have special healing properties and is used as talisman in many cultures. The exploitation of amber in Colti is done since time immemorial, mostly for making jewels or religious objects.

Ark

Were Ancient Human Migrations Two-Way Streets?

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© Associated Press
Washington - The worldwide spread of ancient humans has long been depicted as flowing out of Africa, but tantalizing new evidence suggests it may have been a two-way street.

A long-studied archaeological site in a mountainous region between Europe and Asia was occupied by early humans as long as 1.85 million years ago, much earlier than the previous estimate of 1.7 million years ago, researchers report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Early human Homo erectus is known to have occupied the site at Dmanisi later. Discovering stone tools and materials from a much earlier date raises the possibility that Homo erectus evolved in Eurasia and might have migrated back to Africa, the researchers said - though much study is needed to confirm that idea.

"The accumulating evidence from Eurasia is demonstrating increasingly old and primitive populations," said Reid Ferring of the University of North Texas. Dmanisi is located in the Republic of Georgia.

Hourglass

A Computer Dating Revolution (of the Archaeological Kind)

Windmill Hill
© The Independent, UK
Windmill Hill, a large Neolithic causewayed enclosure in Avebury, was dated within a span of six centuries, but the new project has narrowed that down to just six decades
Innovations in programming are changing archaeologists' perception of how settled life and early agriculture spread through Britain.

The long-lost 'history' of prehistoric Britain, including our island's first wars, is being re-discovered - courtesy of innovations in computer programming as well as archaeology.

Using newly refined computer systems, developed over recent years by programmers at Oxford University, archaeologists from English Heritage and Cardiff University have for the first time been able to fairly accurately date individual prehistoric battles, migrations and building construction projects.

After eight years of research, the team has been able to create a 'historical' chronology for the first 700 years of settled life in Britain.

Info

Ancient Cavemen Stayed Local While Women Left Home

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© unknown
A group of tourists are guided through the Sterkfontein Caves in South Africa, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009. The caves are the best-known of a dozen sites in the area where a wealth of important fossils and stone tools have been found.
Analysis of the fossilized teeth of our early ancestors living in southern Africa shows it was the women who ventured out when they came of age, while men tended to remain close to home, researchers say.

Archeologists studied teeth from 19 sets of prehistoric early human remains found in two caves in South Africa's Sterkfontein Valley.

The researchers, whose work was published in the journal Nature, were able to surmise that the females grew up in a different area from where they died, while the men appeared to be local.

Julia Lee-Thorp, co-author of the study, told CTV.ca the research helps provide a rare glimpse into the way human ancestors lived their lives.

"It's exciting because it's the first real hard evidence we have of an ancient social pattern, so it begins to give us much better clues about how they constructed their family groups than we had before," said Lee-Thorp, reached by phone at Oxford University in the U.K., where she is an archeological scientist.