Welcome to Sott.net
Sat, 27 Nov 2021
The World for People who Think

Secret History
Map

Info

Sacks of Human Waste Reveal Secrets of Ancient Rome

Ancient Chamber
© Domenico Camardo, Herculaneum Conservation Project
Now excavated, an ancient Roman chamber once held tons of decayed garbage and human waste.

You might turn your nose up at sifting through hundreds of sacks of human excrement, but researchers are doing just that in Italy - and happily.

The unprecedented deposit is said to be yielding new insights into everyday life in the ancient Roman Empire.

Admittedly, at 2,000 years old, the feces "isn't remotely unpleasant," Roman historian Andrew Wallace-Hadrill said. "There's absolutely no scent. It's exactly like earth compost."

Ten tons of the stuff has been excavated from a cesspit beneath the ancient town of Herculaneum, near Naples.

Flushed down sewers from apartment blocks and shops, the deposit - the largest collection of ancient Roman garbage and human waste ever found, researchers say - dates to about A.D. 79. That year a catastrophic volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried Herculaneum, along with its more famous neighbor, Pompeii.

Lost jewelry, coins, and semiprecious stones from a gem shop have been found, along with discarded household items such as broken lamps and pottery, according to Wallace-Hadrill, director of the Herculaneum Conservation Project, a Packard Humanities Institute initiative.

And, coming from a onetime district of shopkeepers and artisans, the organic material has revealed just what your run-of the-mill Roman might have eaten in this coastal town, according to project scientists, who collaborated with the British School at Rome and the archaeological authorities for Naples and Pompeii.

Arrow Down

Van Gogh's "Self-Portrait" Actually His Brother: Study

Image
© unknown
Art researchers at Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum said Tuesday they have "discovered" a work by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh -- long thought to have been a self-portrait -- was in fact a picture of his younger brother Theo.

"According to current opinion, Vincent van Gogh never painted his brother Theo, on whom he was dependent," the Van Gogh Museum said in a statement.

But senior researcher Louis van Tilborgh now believed the 1887 painting of a man wearing a light-coloured hat and a dark blue jacket was in fact Van Gogh's brother Theo, Vincent's junior by five years.

"The conclusion is based on a number of obvious differences between the two brothers," said the museum, pointing out dissimilar features including the neatness of the subject's beard and his round-shaped ear, "something Vincent did not have."

2 + 2 = 4

Are We All Asian After All

New research suggests that the ancestors of Homo sapiens may not have evolved in Africa at all, but Asia instead. Are we all secret Chinese clones?

It has long been held by evolutionary experts that the original ancestors of humanity were found in Africa, but new research is suggesting that early examples of the genus Homo - we are the Homo sapiens variety - might well have actually evolved in Asia before journeying to Africa, not,as many scientists have assumed in the past, the other way round.

Paleoanthropologists have long favored an African origin option, especially for the evolution of our human ancestor Homo erectus, though the latest finds reveal that these 'people' lived at Dmansi, a West Asian site between1.85 and 1.77 million years ago, quite possibly a little sooner in time than the earliest African so far discovered.

Clock

Image of Ancient Mammoth or Mastodon Found on Bone in Florida

Image
© Jeff Gage/Florida Museum of Natural History
Washington - Some of the earliest Americans turn out to have been artists.

A bone fragment at least 13,000 years old, with the carved image of a mammoth or mastodon, has been discovered in Florida, a new study reports.

While prehistoric art depicting animals with trunks has been found in Europe, this may be the first in the Western Hemisphere, researchers report Wednesday in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

"It's pretty exciting, we haven't found anything like this in North America," said Dennis J. Stanford, curator of North American Archaeology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, who was a co-author of the report.

They hunted these animals, Stanford explained, and "you see people drawing all kinds of pictures that are of relevance and importance to them."

"Much of the real significance of such finds is in the tangible, emotional connection they allow us to feel with people in the deep past," said Dietrich Stout, an anthropologist at Emory University in Atlanta, who was not part of the research team.

The bone fragment, discovered in Vero Beach, Fla., contains an incised image about 3 inches long from head to tail and about 1 3/4 inches from head to foot.

Arrow Down

Bulgarian Archaeologists Uncover Story of Ancient Thracians' War with Philip II of Macedon

Image
© National History Museum
The freshly uncovered section of the northeastern wall of the Thracian kings' residence.
Bulgarian archaeologists have made crucial discoveries at the residence of the rulers of the Odrysian Kingdom, the state of the most powerful tribe of Ancient Thrace, including details about its sacking by the troops of Philip II of Macedon.

The discoveries have been made within the project of Bulgaria's National History Museum, whose team started in early June 2011 the largest alpine expedition in the history of Bulgarian archaeology in order to excavate the residence of the rulers of the Odrysian Kingdom.

Bulgarian archaeologists uncovered the unique residence of the rulers of the Odrysian Kingdom in July 2010, after its location was initially detected in 2005.

The residence is located on the Kozi Gramadi mount in the Sredna Gora mountain, in the village of Starosel, close to the resort town of Hissar in central Bulgaria, at about 1 200 m above sea level.

The National History Museum announced Tuesday that its archaeologists have uncovered in full the northeastern wall of the Thracian kings' residence; it is 13 m long, and has been preserved at a height of 2 m, according to the head of the expedition, Prof. Ivan Hristov.

Not unlike the facade of the building uncovered in 2005, the northeastern wall is made with "perfectly prepared stone blocks with encarved decorations." The building is believed to have hosted the treasury of the Odrysian rulers. It was erected by Ancient Greek architects between 354 BC and 342 BC, which is also when the Thracian kings' residence is dated, during the rule of Odrysian king Teres II (351 BC-341 BC).

Info

Iraq's Ancient Ur Site in Danger

Ur City
© Getty Images
The Ur archeological site, where Abraham was supposedly born, as shown in 2008 when Coalition Forces used it as one of their bases.

Standing before the imposing ziggurat which was once part of a temple complex at the Sumerian capital of Ur, Iraqi archaeologist Abdelamir Hamdani worried about the natural elements that are eating away at one of the wonders of Mesopotamia.

"Is there anybody thinking about preserving these monuments?" asked the doctoral student from New York's Stony Brook University who is one of the leaders of a nascent project to conserve the few unearthed remains of ancient Mesopotamia, one of the cradles of civilization.

The buried treasures of Ur still beckon foreign archaeologists who have begun cautiously returning to Iraq, but experts like Hamdani say that preserving the sites is more urgent than digging for more.

Ur, the Biblical birthplace of Abraham, and which more than 4,000 years ago was the capital of a prosperous empire ruling over Mesopotamia, is believed to have so far relinquished only a fraction of its buried antiquities.

Magnify

Researchers Explain Ancient Copper Artifacts

Northwestern University researchers ditched many of their high-tech tools and turned to large stones, fire and some old-fashioned elbow grease to recreate techniques used by Native American coppersmiths who lived more than 600 years ago.

This prehistoric approach to metalworking was part of a metallurgical analysis of copper artifacts left behind by the Mississippians of the Cahokia Mounds, who lived in southwestern Illinois from 700 until 1400 A.D. The study was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science in May.

Magnify

Cyprus: Excavations shed light on ancient Paphos city

Image
Aarchaeological investigations at the edges and to the south of the Hellenistic-Roman theatre of Nea Paphos have identified significant structures of the ancient city, according to an official announcement by the Department of Antiquities yesterday.

The investigations were carried out October 6 to November 17 of last year by the University of Sydney, under the direction of Emeritus Professor Richard Green, Dr Craig Barker and Dr Smadar Gabrieli.

Magnify

Morocco: University of Pennsylvania Team Uncovers Skeleton of "World's Oldest Child"

Image
© Unknown
Paleoartist Viktor works on the model of Bouchra, which means "good news" in Arabic. Some say it's possible this child's people were part of our ancestry.
Last year, while a Penn team of archaeologists was working in Morocco, members uncovered a treasure beyond anything they'd imagined - a skeleton of a child from 108,000 years ago.

They don't know what killed him at about age 8, but his remains are believed to be one of the most complete ever found of this period.

The skeleton promises to open a window into a pivotal time in human evolution when Neanderthals still ruled Europe, and Africans were inventing art and symbolic thought.

One of the earliest sites where people left evidence of artwork and symbolism is in Morocco, where a team led by Penn Museum's Harold Dibble found the child.

One of Dibble's students was the first to notice a piece of bone the size of a quarter, said Dibble, who is a curator at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. To everyone's surprise, the bone was part of a remarkably complete skull and upper body of a child that died 108,000 years ago, as shown by various dating techniques.

Magnify

Archaeologists discover evidence of prehistoric settlement on remote Scottish island

Scottish Ancient Settlement
© Doc Searls
Isolated: The tiny island of Boreray is remote but beautiful.

'Incredibly significant find' on tiny island of Boreray is 'is further evidence of the international importance of the St Kilda archipelago'.

Evidence of a permanent Iron Age settlement on one of Europe's most inhospitable islands has been uncovered by archaeologists.

It had been thought that the St Kildan island of Boreray, 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides in the Atlantic Ocean, had never been populated.

Inhabitants of nearby Hirta island only visit Boreray in the summer to hunt birds and gather wool.

But the new discovery suggests that people may have lived on the steep slopes of the island back in prehistoric times.

The last 36 inhabitants of the St Kilda archipelago left the islands in 1930.

Archaeologists from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland made the discovery on an eight-day research trip to Boreray.