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Ancient restaurant highlights Iraq's archeology renaissance

Ancient Site
© AP Photo/Nabil al-Jourani
What is considered a world's oldest bridge , some 4,000 years-old is seen by the ancient city-state of Lagash, near Nasiriyah, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023.
BAGHDAD — An international archeological mission has uncovered the remnants of what is believed to be a 5,000-year-old restaurant or tavern in the ancient city of Lagash in southern Iraq.

The discovery of the ancient dining hall — complete with a rudimentary refrigeration system, hundreds of roughly made clay bowls and the fossilized remains of an overcooked fish — announced in late January by a University of Pennsylvania-led team, generated some buzz beyond Iraq's borders.

It came against the backdrop of a resurgence of archeology in a country often referred to as the "cradle of civilization," but where archeological exploration has been stunted by decades of conflict before and after the U.S. invasion of 2003. Those events exposed the country's rich sites and collections to the looting of tens of thousands of artifacts.

"The impacts of looting on the field of archeology were very severe," Laith Majid Hussein, director of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage of Iraq, told The Associated Press. "Unfortunately, the wars and periods of instability have greatly affected the situation in the country in general."

With relative calm prevailing over the past few years, the digs have returned. At the same time, thousands of stolen artifacts have been repatriated, offering hope of an archeological renaissance.

"'Improving' is a good term to describe it, or 'healing' or 'recovering,'" said Jaafar Jotheri, a professor of archeology at University of Al-Qadisiyah, describing the current state of the field in his country.

Iraq is home to six UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites, among them the ancient city of Babylon, the site of several ancient empires under rulers like Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar.

Better Earth

Further details emerge of unknown lineage of ice age Europeans that vanished at end of last ice age

Gravettian ancient human
© Michelle O'Reilly and Laurent Klaric, inspired by the original work by Benoit Clarys
The Gravettian populations were widespread around Europe about 32,000-24,000 years ago. Although these prehistoric human groups differed in terms of genetics, they did share similar cultural traits. On the left we see a depiction of the west Gravettian population that survived during the Last Glacial Maximum while sadly the eastern and south Gravettian populations disappeared.

Comment: This report is a detailed update to the same author's previous article from January of this year that can be found here.


The largest study yet to look at the genetics of ice age hunter-gatherers in Europe has uncovered a previously unknown lineage dubbed the Fournol.

A previously unknown lineage of Europeans survived the coldest parts of the last ice age, only to vanish when Europe went through a warm spell starting about 15,000 years ago.

The discovery comes from the largest study yet to look at the genetic makeup of ice age European hunter-gatherers.

Comment: See also: World's oldest cooking pots found in Siberia, created 16,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age


Gear

Evidence of steel tool use during Late Bronze Age in Europe

bronze age
© University of Freiburg
Researchers have discovered that steel tools were being used on the Iberian Peninsula during the Late Bronze Age 2,900 years ago.

An international study has conducted a geochemical analysis on stone pillar stelae found in the Iberian Peninsula, revealing that engravings on the rock face were created using tempered steel.

This is supported by a metallographic analysis of an iron chisel from the same period found at Rocha do Vigio, which has the necessary carbon content to be classified as steel.

Comment: See also:


Info

New Moai statue that 'deified ancestors' found on Easter Island

A newly discovered Moai statue on Easter Island has been found buried in a dried up lake bed.
moai statue
© Marko Stavric Photography via Getty Images
A moai statue at Tongariki with the Ahu Tongariki moai in the background on Easter Island. The newfound moai (not pictured here) was found buried at a dried up lake bed.
A previously unknown moai statue, one of Easter Island's massive carved monoliths, has been found buried beneath a dried up lake bed, Good Morning America reports.

Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, sits about 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers) off the western coast of Chile and is home to nearly 8,000 people and about 1,000 moai statues. Unlike the other statues, which were found across the island, including on the slopes around Lake Rano Raraku, a volcanic crater that supplied much of the volcanic stone used to craft the moai statues, this moai was found in an unexpected place: the bottom of Lake Rano Raraku. The crater held freshwater until climate change and other factors, such as human use, caused it to dry up in recent years; in 2018, the lake water had nearly disappeared, according to a 2021 study published in the journal PLOS One.

"We think we know all the moai, but then a new one turns up, a new discovery," Terry Hunt, a professor of archaeology at the university of Arizona who specializes in the environmental histories of the Pacific Islands, told Good Morning America.

Arrow Up

3000-year-old leather shoe discovered in the UK

Leather Shoe
© Steve Tomlinson
The shoe as it was found on a foreshore in North Kent.
A Bronze Age relic found on a Kent beach is believed to be the oldest shoe ever found in the UK.

The artefact, which has been dated at 3,000-years-old, was discovered on a foreshore in the north of the county by professional archaeologist Steve Tomlinson.

Mr Tomlinson, who lives in Ramsgate, found the child's shoe in September last year, and was "in deep shock" when he heard how old it was.

He recalled: "We had been out for three hours scouring the shoreline, when I came across what looked like a very old shoe like piece of leather washed up on the mud.

"I picked it up and I immediately thought it looks like the sole of an old little shoe."

The leather was sent to the SUERC carbon dating unit in East Kilbride, Scotland, to find out who wore the little shoe, and Mr Tomlinson was told he "may need to sit down for the news".

"The date they had given me was just astonishing," the 51-year-old explained.

Archaeology

Excavation finds that Europe's earliest humans hunted with bows and arrows

replica stone arrow points ancient humans
© Ludovic Slimak
The researchers made replicas of the stone points using local flint, and incorporated them into spears and arrows.
A cave site in France holds hundreds of tiny stone points, alongside remains thought to belong to Homo sapiens.

A 54,000-year-old cave site in southern France holds hundreds of tiny stone points, which researchers say closely resemble other known arrowheads — including replicas that they tested on dead goats.

The discovery, reported on 22 February in Science Advances1, suggests that the first Homo sapiens to reach Europe hunted with bows and arrows. But it also raises the question of why Neanderthals — which occupied the Grotte Mandrin rock shelter in the Rhône Valley before and after Homo sapiens — never adopted these superior weapons.

Blue Planet

Homes of Europe's first megalithic monument makers discovered

prehistoric megalithic
© Antiquity (2023). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2022.169
Archaeologists in France have found one of the first residential sites belonging to the prehistoric builders of some of Europe's first monumental stone structures.

During the Neolithic, people in west-central France built many impressive megalithic monuments such as barrows and dolmens. While these peoples' tombs stood the test of time, archaeologists have been searching for their homes for more than a century.

"It has been known for a long time that the oldest European megaliths appeared on the Atlantic coast, but the habitats of their builders remained unknown," said Dr. Vincent Ard from the French National Center for Scientific Research.

Comment: See also: And check out SOTT radio's:


Blue Planet

Neanderthal hunting strategies unchanged over millennia despite repeated climate change

Neanderthals

Neanderthals were a species of archaic humans that lived in Europe and Asia from around 400,000 to 40,000 years ago.
Neanderthals were a species of archaic humans that lived in Europe and Asia from around 400,000 to 40,000 years ago.

The remains of hunted animals at Combe-Grenal, France, showed that they were consistently sourced from open tundra-like habitats.

A study conducted by Emilie Berlioz of CNRS/Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès and colleagues, and published in the journal PLOS ONE, has found that Neanderthals in Combe-Grenal, France, favored hunting in open environments and maintained this strategy despite periods of climatic change. This research was part of the ANR DeerPal project and provides valuable insight into the hunting habits of Neanderthals in this region.

For many millennia during the Middle Palaeolithic, from around 150,000 to 45,000 years ago, the Neanderthals made Combe-Grenal in France their home. These ancient humans hunted the local animals, whose remains have been discovered at the site. The region underwent frequent fluctuations in climate and environmental conditions during the Neanderthals' occupancy, affecting the behavior of the local wildlife.

Comment: It's notable that the history of the Neanderthal's reveal little innovation throughout, and across the board.

See also:


Blue Planet

Evidence of 3,500 year old brain surgery uncovered at Tel Meggido in Israel

Tel Megiddo
© Kalisher et al., PLoS One, 2023
An individual buried in a Bronze Age grave in Tel Megiddo, Israel.
A Late Bronze Age grave in the archaeological site of Meggido, Israel, has presented researchers with a rare example of delicate cranial surgery that could be the earliest of its kind in the Middle East.

In 2016, archaeologists excavated a pair of tombs in the domestic section of a palace in the famous Biblical city, uncovering the remains of two individuals buried together nearly 3,500 years ago.

Now researchers from institutions in the US and Israel have published the results of an analysis of their skeletons, revealing a tragic tale of two brothers whose affluence wasn't enough to save them from an early death.

Comment: See also:


Info

6,000-year-old settlement was home to Europe's first megalithic monument makers

Ancient Buildings
© Antiquity (2023). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2022.169
Archaeologists in France unearthed the remains of a series of wooden buildings within a defensive enclosure that were built at the same time as the first stone monuments were being erected.

People in west-central France built a variety of megalithic monuments during the Neolithic period, including mound-like barrows and "dolmens" — a type of single-chamber tomb supported by two or more upright megaliths. While these stone monuments are visible and have withstood the test of time, traces of their homes have been more difficult to find — until now.

Now, Dr. Vincent Ard from the French National Center for Scientific Research. and a team of researchers working in the Charente department has identified the first known residential site belonging to some of Europe's first megalithic builders.

"It has been known for a long time that the oldest European megaliths appeared on the Atlantic coast, but the habitats of their builders remained unknown," said Dr. Vincent Ard.

Since it was first found during an aerial survey back in 2011, the enclosure at Le Peu, in the commune of Charmé, has been the focus of an intense investigation.

The results of this work, published in the journal Antiquity, revealed a palisade encircling several timber buildings built during the fifth millennium BC.