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Stone Age Human Tomb Crammed with Thousands of Bones on Scottish Island Unearthed

Image
© The History Blog
The newly excavated Tomb of the Otters in Scotland.
A 5,000 years old burial site with thousands of human skeleton parts belonging to the Neolithic, or the New Stone Age, has been unearthed on South Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

The site, which was found in 2010, has finally been excavated, though partially, which archaeologists believe belong to the prehistoric times.

According to Julie Gibson, county archaeologist for Orkney, human bones found inside the burial are of mix of genders and age groups, including children and babies.

Initial excavation of the site had also revealed bones of prehistoric otters (semi-aquatic mammals), giving the Orkney Islands tomb the name of "Tomb of the Otters".

Orkney is also the location of the Neolithic Tomb of the Eagles, which was excavated in 1976 and found to contain around 16,000 human bones along with hundreds of sea eagle bones. Hence, the name.

Orkney has some of the most preserved and "undisturbed" stone-built Neolithic settlements. Skara Brae, a Neolithic village and a UNESCO World Heritage Site now, is one such dwelling that has revealed about art and culture of the prehistoric era.

As with the latest excavation of the tomb archaeologists look forward to know more about the Orkney's Neolithic human's community, here are a few pictures of the ancient tombs:

Cow Skull

Ziegler Reservoir Fossil Site Sets Mastodon Record

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks during a press conference
© Heather Rousseau/Aspen Daily News
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks during a press conference Thursday held by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science at the Ice Age Discovery Center in Snowmass Village on Thursday. The press conference wrapped up a seven-week ice age dig at Ziegler Reservoir that ended last weekend. In the foreground are recently-unearthed ice age bones. Behind in the crowd is Hickenlooper’s son resting in a chair, state Sen. Gail Schwartz, and Snowmass Mayor Bill Boineau, standing back right.
Theories abound about how the scores of prehistoric animals unearthed at Ziegler Reservoir - including the most mastodons ever found in one site - all met their fates in the same place.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has his own: "I think it was the huckleberries, a rare type," he said, drawing laughs during a press conference Thursday in Snowmass Village.

The governor and Dr. Kirk Johnson of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science addressed reporters and members of partner organizations as part of the wrap-up of a dig unprecedented in state history. After nearly 70 days of digging, the museum announced what Johnson, its chief curator, called a "staggering" total of 4,826 bones.

"It is a true treasure trove and is one of the finest mastodon sites in the world," Johnson said. "We have crushed Boney Springs," a site in Missouri where 31 individual mastodons were found.

Better Earth

US: Local Man Makes Prehistoric Discovery in His Own Backyard

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© KENS 5
Somewhere in Comal County is a small parcel of private land full of breathtaking views. Hidden amidst the beauty is a mysterious entrance to the unknown.

Inside, there is not much space and it quickly goes from dry to wet. That's because it's a cave full of spring-fed water. And there are plenty of creatures living inside.

"There's a small colony of bats in there," said William "BT" Price, who owns the land.

Price bought the land where the hidden cave is located two years ago. Now, he's a retired banker who had become an explorer of his own backyard.

The cave is at least a mile in length but goes further. Price and friends are constantly pushing the limits by going into areas where the water and ceiling are separated by inches.

"It can be very dangerous -- very, very dangerous -- if it's not done right," said Price.

Info

Black Sea's Ancient Coast Found - Report

Black Sea
© NASA

Bulgarian scientists have found the ancient shores of the Black Sea, currently deep beneath the waves, which they claim were the original shores about 7500 years ago, when the Black Sea at the time was just a fresh water lake, the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported on July 7 2011.

The team, led by Professor Petko Dimitrov of the Institute of Oceanology in Varna, which is part of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS), returned from an expedition aboard the research vessel Akademik, saying that they have found the ancient coastline close to the Cape of Emine. Archaeological evidence suggest that this particular spot was part of the ancient coastline, the BNT said.

The common theory of the creation of the Black Sea says that there was a massive deluge through the straits of Bosporus (modern Istanbul), where waters from the Mediterranean flooded into the lake. Once the Mediterranean Sea breached the Bosporus Strait, it irreversibly changed the history of the people in the area, as well as the flora and fauna.

In 1997, William Ryan and Walter Pitman published evidence that a massive flooding of the Black Sea occurred about 5600 BCE through the Bosporus. According to the theory, glacial melt-water had turned the Black and Caspian Seas into vast freshwater lakes draining into the Aegean Sea before that event. As glaciers retreated, some of the rivers emptying into the Black Sea declined in volume and changed course to drain into the North Sea.

Sherlock

Scotland: "Tomb of the Otters" Filled With Stone Age Human Bones

Five-thousand-year-old chamber stumbled upon in Scotland.

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© Mark Newton
The so called "Tomb of the Otters" came to light during a residential landscaping project.
Thousands of human bones have been found inside a Stone Age tomb on a northern Scottish island, archaeologists say.

The 5,000-year-old burial site, on South Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands, was accidentally uncovered after a homeowner had leveled a mound in his yard to improve his ocean view.

Authorities were alerted to the find in 2010 after a subsequent resident, Hamish Mowatt, guessed at the site's significance.

Mowatt had lowered a camera between the tomb's ceiling of stone slabs and was confronted by a prehistoric skull atop a muddy tangle of bones.

Sherlock

Prehistoric Sarcophagi Discovered in Eastern Taiwan

A cluster of three ancient sarcophagi recently discovered in eastern Taiwan's Taitung City could give scholars new insight into their understanding of a nearby prehistoric site, a researcher from the National Museum of Prehistory said Thursday.

Parts of the sarcophagi, or stone coffins, have already been unearthed, showing them to be 60 cm high and 50 cm wide, although their lengths have yet to be determined as the excavation is still underway.

Weathered remains and mortuary objects such as jade adzes have been found in the sarcophagi, located on a hill over 200 meters above sea level and around three kilometers from the Peinan archeological site. The prehistoric site, where more than 20,000 ancient objects have been unearthed, is one of the largest archeological sites in Taiwan.

After the discovery was made by construction workers who were widening a road, the Taitung city government decided to suspend the road expansion project, while an archeological group from the museum, which is located at the Peinan site, began to excavate the stone coffins.

Info

Earliest Europeans Wore Bling - Were they also Cannibals?

Cut Marks on Human Bone
© L. Crépin - S. Prat / MNHN - CNRS
Cut marks are seen on this early human bone recovered from southeastern Europe.

Early humans wore jewelry and likely practiced cannibalism, suggest remains of the earliest known Homo sapiens from southeastern Europe.

The remains, described in PLoS One, date to 32,000 years ago and represent the oldest direct evidence for anatomically modern humans in a well-documented context. The human remains are also the oldest known for our species in Europe to show post-mortem cut marks.

"Our observations indicate a post-mortem treatment of human corpses including the selection of the skull," co-author Stephane Pean, a paleozoologist and archaeologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, told Discovery News. "We demonstrate that this treatment was not for nutritional purposes, according to comparison with game butchery treatment, so it is not a dietary cannibalism."

Instead, Pean said that he and his colleagues believe that the "observed treatment of the human body, together with the presence of body ornaments, indicates rather a mortuary ritual: either a ritual cannibalism or a specific mortuary practice for secondary disposal."

Sherlock

Dorset Burial Pit Viking Had Filed Teeth

Viking filed teeth
© Oxford Archaeology
Archaeologist David Score said the practice would not have been a "pleasant experience"
Archaeologists have discovered one of the victims of a suspected mass Viking burial pit found in Dorset had grooves filed into his two front teeth.

Experts believe a collection of bones and decapitated heads, unearthed during the creation of the Weymouth Relief Road, belong to young Viking warriors.

During analysis, a pair of front teeth was found to have distinct incisions.

Archaeologists think it may have been designed to frighten opponents or show status as a great fighter.

Oxford Archaeology project manager David Score said: "It's difficult to say how painful the process of filing teeth may have been, but it wouldn't have been a pleasant experience.

Pharoah

Italy: 18th Century Egyptian-Inspired Room Found

Egyptian Room_1
© Rossella Lorenzi
The Egyptian room of Casalbuttano.

Strange hieroglyphs and representations of Egyptian gods and goddesses have been found in the middle of the Po valley in northern Italy, revealing a unique example of Egyptomania.

Found in Casalbuttano ed Uniti, a village some 10 miles north of Cremona, the Egyptian-inspired motifs materialized as restorers removed the tapestry in a room of Palazzo Turina, an 18th century building which now houses the town hall.

A blue starry ceiling emerged, while walls decorated with pink and cream colored bands revealed a wealth of hieroglyphs.

Painted with stunning trompe l'oeil effects to produce the illusion of real statues, depictions of Egyptian god and goddesses emerged at the room corners.

"It has been an amazing discovery. The animal glue used for the tapestry actually preserved the frescoes, which only needed some basic cleaning," Virginia Bocciola, one of the architects who carried the restoration, told Discovery News.

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Woman's skeleton found at Sedgeford dig sheds light on Norfolk 4,000 years ago Chris Bishop

Woman Skeleton Sedgeford 4,000 years ago

The 4,000-year-old woman's skeleton found by the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP) last year.

Curled up in her burial pit with her amber beads, an ancient woman's remains show our ancestors farmed a lush Norfolk valley thousands of years earlier than previously believed.

Archaeologists confirmed the significance of the discovery yesterday as work got under way for the summer season at Sedgeford, near Heacham.

Martin Hatton, curator of human remains at the site, was staking out an area of chalk down close to where the find was made last summer, ready for this year's eagerly-awaited dig to begin.

"It was a total surprise to us," he said. "You don't bury people anywhere other than near where they live, so what we can say is that people were farming the land here 4,000 years ago."