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Fri, 02 Dec 2022
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Sherlock

US: Ancient bronze artifact unique in Arctic Alaska archaeology

Nothing like this has ever before been found in an Arctic Alaska archaeological site: a cast bronze buckle-like object, discovered in August in a 1,000-year-old Inupiat dwelling on Cape Espenberg, just south of Kotzebue on the Chukchi Sea coast. Since ancient Alaskans had no bronze culture, the object was either carried across the Bering Strait by ancestors of modern Inupiat or obtained by trade from Asia, say the University of Colorado-led scientists who discovered it.


Sherlock

10,000 Unique Archaeology Treasures to Be Unveiled in Bulgaria

Bulgaria's National History Museum will put on display about 10 000 "extremely valuable" archaeological finds and artifacts.

The finds in question were seized from a treasure hunting and antiques trafficking crime group back in 2004, and are now being transferred from the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office to the ownerships of the National History Museum in Sofia.

Image
© BGNES
10 000 previously unexplored archaeological finds are to be shown to the public in Sofia.
They feature archaeological items from various ages - from prehistory all the way to the 20th century, the Bulgarian National History Museum announced.

Some of the more interesting treasures to be put on display include:

22 silver coins from the rule of medieval Bulgarian Tsar Mihail Shishman (1323-1330 AD);

154 silver coins minted in the northwest of the Second Bulgarian Empire in the 14th century, as well as Venetian and Serbian coins;

56 silver coins minted by the last ruler of the Second Bulgarian Empire before it was conquered by the Ottoman Turkish Empire - Tsar Ivan Sratsimir, who was killed in 1396 AD by the Ottomans.

Magnify

Paleontologists turning to neural networks to find new dig sites

For hundreds, if not thousands of years, researchers of one kind or another have dug into the earth in search of clues to help explain our past. In so doing they have found evidence of ancient peoples that roamed around in an environment that we can only vaguely imagine. Such evidence is generally composed of remnants of dwellings, clothing, tools and most especially bones. Traditionally, such relics have been found either by accident or by serious-minded teams of professional scientists scanning likely terrain and having at it with small axes and shovels.

Now however, new technology is helping such teams better their chances. Satellite imagery, for instance can highlight certain types of geographical regions that are similar to others that have been found to contain fossils, thus reducing the amount of ground that paleontologists must cover. But even that can only reduce the work so much. Enter Bob Anemone, a paleontologist and his team from Western Michigan University; they've developed a computer system that can scan satellite images for them and highlight the areas that are most likely to contain fossils, thus increasing the chances of finding fossils while doing far less work. They have published their findings in Evolutionary Anthropology.

Fish

US: Northwest natives were fishers, not hunter-gatherers

Image
© Society for American Archaeology Press
In two new books, the University of Oregon's Madonna Moss challenges conventional thinking about the region's early inhabitants, pointing to cultures built around fishing, fish processing and fish resource management

Native people of the Pacific Northwest were fishermen and food producers, as well as stewards of their environment who timed their fishing practices to promote the production of salmon and the other fish that they relied on. They were not simply hunter-gatherers, says University of Oregon archaeologist Madonna L. Moss.

Moss takes aim at the label "hunter-gatherer," writing in chapter three of her new book Northwest Coast: Archaeology as Deep History (Society for American Archaeology Press) that the "moniker has outlived its utility" for the people who inhabited the land from Alaska to Oregon long before European explorers arrived.

Moss, who has studied the Northwest since the mid-1970s, provides readers with an overview -- in easy-to-read language -- of what researchers have discovered at archaeological sites dating back more than 12,000 years. Most sites, she notes, are rich in fish remains. And many more sites, she says, likely have been buried by rising sea levels and never will be found.

"Most of what makes up these sites are faunal remains [animal bones and shells]. Most of the bones in these sites are fish bones. This book is about the 85 percent fish bones that make up these sites and what they can tell us about the people who lived here in the past," Moss said in an interview. It doesn't make sense for archaeologists to refer to early people of the Northwest coast as hunters-gatherers anymore, not even as complex hunter-gatherers. These people were fishers. They were fishermen. They knew how to process fish, live on fish. Local tribes often are confused by the term 'hunter-gatherer.' They have always thought of themselves as fishermen."

Blackbox

Pompeii Is Crumbling - Can It Be Saved?

Last month, part of a major wall came tumbling down in Pompeii, the ancient Roman city frozen in time by a first-century eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It was only the latest in a spate of collapses at the site, which experts say is in critical condition.

Though the site is said to be safe for tourists, the disintegration is alarming enough to have spurred the European Union to pledge 105 million euros (145 million dollars) for preservation.
Image
© Roberto Salomone, AFP/Getty Images
The structural problems in Pompeii started with the collapse of a wall a year ago.

(Related: "Pompeiians Flash-Heated to Death - 'No Time to Suffocate.'")

Troubles at the World Heritage site, near modern Naples in southern Italy, began in earnest last year. In November 2010 Pompeii's Schola Armaturarum, a large building once used by gladiators for training, crumbled overnight due to water infiltration. Just a few weeks later, a 12-meter-long (13-yard) wall protecting a structure known as the House of the Moralist had fallen down in heavy rain.

Now that poor weather has returned, more trouble has followed. In late October, a portion of Pompeii's perimeter wall came apart.

Sherlock

Udupi: Ancient Sculpture Causes Ripples in Archaeology Circles

A rare stone sculpture depicting a bullock cart has been found by professor and students of Government First Grade College, HD Kote. The sculpture is assumed to be of the Punnata era.

Image
© Unknown
Punnata was an ancient kingdom of Karnataka. There are various references to several naval expeditions sent by the rulers of Egypt from V and VI dynasties to the distant and mysterious land of 'Punt'. This reference of Punt is identified as 'Punnata' by some scholars. Ptolemy called it 'Pounnata'. An inscription from 300 AD says it is adorned by the rivers Kaveri and Kapini. Punnata rulers had matrimonial alliances with Kadambas and Gangas. All these evidences indicate the antiquity of Punnata.

Sherlock

Cave-painters of horses were 'realists'

An international team of researchers say they have found the first evidence that spotted horses, often seen depicted in cave paintings, actually existed tens of thousands of years ago.

That means ancient artists were drawing what they saw around them, and were not abstract or symbolic painters - a topic of much debate among archaeologists - said the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

By analysing bones and teeth from more than 30 horses in Siberia and Europe dating back as many as 35,000 years, researchers found that six shared a gene associated with a type of leopard spotting seen in modern horses.
Image
© AP
A photo from the Pech Merle Prehistory Center shows a cave painting of pair of spotted horses, found in the Pech Merle Cave in Cabrerets, southern France. Scientists estimate the drawing, measuring about four metres wide by 1.5 metres high, is about 25,000 years old.
Until now, scientists only had DNA evidence of monochrome horses, such as bay and black.

One prominent example that has generated significant debate over its inspiration is the 25,000-year-old painting, The Dappled Horses of Pech-Merle in France, showing white horses with black spots.

Sherlock

Archaeological dig in Qatar reveals fascinating material

Image
© Emma Tetlow
Excavation of the late Neolithic fish midden at Wadi Debay’an.
Carbon dating of ancient organic remains from Wadi Debay'an, a site a few kilometres south of Al Zubara on Qatar's north-west coastline, has yielded the earliest yet known date for human occupation in Qatar - 7,500 years before present.

This was revealed by Environmental archaeologist Dr Emma Tetlow of the Qatar National Environment Record (QNER) in a presentation last week to members of the Qatar Natural History Group on recent investigations at Wadi Debay'an.

The QNER is a combined project of the Qatar Museums Authority and the University of Birmingham, UK, directed by Dr Richard Cuttler.
Previous to the work of the QNER, the application of environmental archaeology and geoarchaeology to sites in Qatar has been limited, but now geomorphological and sedimentological data are being used to establish sites which would have been favourable for human occupation. Applying analytical techniques to pollen, macroscopic plant remains and those of insects - Tetlow's special field of research - is revealing fascinating material about the terrain and climate of Qatar seven millennia ago.

Info

Castles of 'Lost Cities' Revealed in Libyan Desert

Mudbrick Village
© Toby Savage
An ancient mudbrick village with a castle-like structure visible in the center of the image.

New evidence of a lost civilization in an area of the Sahara in Libya has emerged from images taken by satellites.

Using satellites and air photographs to identify the remains in one of the most inhospitable parts of the desert, a team from the University of Leicester in England has discovered more than 100 fortified farms and villages with castle-like structures and several towns, most dating between AD 1 to 500.

"It is like someone coming to England and suddenly discovering all the medieval castles. These settlements had been unremarked and unrecorded under the Gadhafi regime," said project leader David Mattingly, professor of Roman archaeology at the university. The fall of the regime has opened up Libya to more exploration by archaeologists of its pre-Islamic heritage.

These "lost cities" were built by a little-known ancient civilization called the Garamantes, whose lifestyle and culture was far more advanced and historically significant than ancient sources had suggested.

Info

Was the Spotted Horse an Imaginary Creature?

Spotted Horses
© The Bridgeman Art Library/Getty Images; Thomas Hackmann (insert)
No flight of fancy? DNA evidence suggests that spotted horses (inset) probably existed at the time cave artists were painting them, for example, 25,000 years ago at this cave in Spain.

About 25,000 years ago, humans began painting a curious creature on the walls of European caves. Among the rhinos, wild cattle, and other animals, they sketched a white horse with black spots. Although such horses are popular breeds today, scientists didn't think they existed before humans domesticated the species about 5000 years ago. Now, a new study of prehistoric horse DNA concludes that spotted horses did indeed roam ancient Europe, suggesting that early artists may have been reproducing what they saw rather than creating imaginary creatures.

Archeologists have found more than 100 painted caves depicting at least 4000 animals in Europe, nearly all of them concentrated in southern France and northern Spain. They include France's Chauvet Cave, dated to at least 32,000 years ago and featuring the earliest known cave art, as well as the roughly 15,000-year-old caves of Lascaux in France and Altamira in Spain. Nearly a third of the animals in painted caves are horses; and nearly all of the horses are rendered in brown or black, similar to the bay or black colors of today's horses.

But a small number of caves, including 25,000-year-old Pech Merle in southern France, feature horses painted white with black spots. Some archaeologists have argued that this leopardlike pattern was fanciful and symbol laden rather than realistic. Indeed, in a 2009 analysis of DNA from the bones of nearly 90 ancient horses dated from about 12,000 to 1000 years ago, researchers found genetic evidence for bay and black coat colors but no sign of the spotted variety, suggesting that the spotted horse could have been the figment of some artist's imagination. Although researchers can only speculate on what prehistoric artists were trying to express, hypotheses range from shamanistic and ritualistic activities to attempts to capture the spirit of horses and other animals that ancient humans hunted.