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Sat, 03 Dec 2016
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Medieval chess pieces unearthed in England

The chess pieces were found in a large dump of off-cuts near the foundations of a timber-framed building
Archaeologists have found two Medieval chess pieces made from antler during the final stages of a dig in Northampton town centre.

The excavation is at St John's Street, at the location of Northamptonshire County Council's new £43m headquarters.

Archaeologist Jim Brown said the pieces were "clear evidence" of demand for a "leisure product" in middle to late 12th Century Northampton.

The dig has now been completed and the finds will eventually go on display.

The larger piece was probably intended to be a bishop and is 60mm (2.3in) high, while the second piece was the top part of a king and is about 30mm (1.2in) high.

Mr Brown, from the Museum of London Archaeology, said the chess pieces were found among bone and antler off-cuts, and appear to been discarded during their manufacture.


"Ancient" skull recovered from a cave in England

© The Westmorland Gazette
Rescuers called in by police
Police are investigating after a human skull was discovered by cavers in a north Lancashire pothole.

Members of Clapham-based Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO) were asked by Lancashire Police to retrieve the skull - which the rescuers described as "ancient" - from Dunald Mill Hole, Nether Kellet, yesterday.

The CRO team received the call at 11.21am on Friday.

A spokesman said: "An ancient human skull was discovered by cavers in Dunald Mill Hole and reported to the police.

"CRO was asked to retrieve it as part of the subsequent police investigation and a small team completed the task later in the day."


Ancient village discovered in Colombia

Archaeologists have discovered a pre-Columbian town in central Colombia, recovering tons of archaeological evidence of which some dates as far back as 900BC, sponsor EPM said Friday.

The site was initially found when EPM, a public-private energy company, did soil research while planning the construction of an energy network in the municipality of Soacha, just southwest of the capital Bogota.

According to EPM, the archaeological site is the biggest ever found in Colombia, measuring some 4.9 hectares, and allows scientists to understand how now-extinct indigenous tribes lived.

"The relevance of this finding lies in the information contained in the settlement patterns, the architectural and agricultural development of the societies that lived on the central high plans of Colombia and, in general, about demographic aspects in pre-Hispanic times," archaeologist John Alexander Gonzalez told EPM, that paid for the $7.5 million operation.


Magnificent ancient Roman silver treasure revealed

Roman Treasure of Berthouville makes its debut after meticulous conservation efforts.

© Wikimedia Commons
Cup with centaurs, detail. Italy, middle of the 1st century CE. From the Treasure of Berthouville, 1830.
Accidentally discovered by a French farmer plowing his field near the village of Berthouville in rural Normandy in 1830, the spectacular hoard of gilt-silver statuettes and vessels known as the Berthouville Treasure was an ancient offering to the Gallo-Roman god Mercury.

Following four years of meticulous conservation and research in the J. Paul Getty Museum's Antiquities Conservation Department, the exhibition Ancient Luxury and the Roman Silver Treasure from Berthouville, on view at the Getty Villa November 19, 2014, to August 17, 2015, will present this unique collection of ancient silver in its full splendor and offer new insights about ancient art, technology, religion, and cultural interaction. The opulent cache - in the collection of the Cabinet des médailles (now the Department of Coins, Medals and Antiques) at the Bibliothèque nationale de France - is displayed in its entirety for the first time outside of Paris, together with precious gems, jewelry, and other Roman luxury objects from the Cabinet's royal collections.

"Since 2010, this magnificent collection of silver objects has been undergoing extensive conservation and study at the Getty Villa, providing us a unique opportunity to examine the production of Roman luxury materials and seeing what this has to teach us about the art, culture and religion of Roman Gaul," says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. "Being able to display this dazzling hoard at the Getty Villa is a great privilege for us and our visitors, and we have the added satisfaction of knowing that they will return to France much better understood and looking spectacularly better than before."


Ancient stone circles in Mideast baffle archaeologists

© David L. Kennedy, copyright is retained by the Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East imageAPAAME_20040601_DLK-0041
The Big Circle called J1 is about 390 meters (1,280 feet) in diameter, with an open area created by bulldozing in its interior.
Huge stone circles in the Middle East have been imaged from above, revealing details of structures that have been shrouded in mystery for decades.

Archaeologists in Jordan have taken high-resolution aerial images of 11 ancient "Big Circles," all but one of which are around 400 meters (1,312 feet) in diameter. Why they are so similar is unknown but the similarity seems "too close to be a coincidence" said researcher David Kennedy.

The Big Circles (as archaeologists call them) were built with low stone walls that are no more than a few feet high. The circles originally contained no openings, and people would have had to hop over the walls in order to get inside. [See Aerial Images of the Mysterious Big Circles in the Mideast]

Their purpose is unknown, and archaeologists are unsure when these structures were built. Analysis of the photographs, as well as artifacts found on the ground, suggest the circles date back at least 2,000 years, but they may be much older. They could even have been constructed in prehistoric times, before writing was invented, scientists say.


Roman sculptures discovered in Northern England

Archaeologists find fertility genius, godheads and oil lamps in Roman Cumbria

© Megan Stoakley / Wardell Armstrong Archaeology
The Fertility Genius from Papcastle: likely a local deity representative of an area rather than a town or fort.
A fertility genius in "amazing" condition, believed to be a local deity thousands of years ago, and the carved heads of male and female Roman gods have been found by archaeologists digging at a village in Cumbria.

The vague outline of an altar can be seen below the hand of the genius, unearthed in a 2,500-square metre area at Papcastle, where the 2009 floods gave excavators the first glimpses of Roman remains.

A cap worn by the male statue comes from the Phrygian kingdom in modern-day Turkey, meaning the figure could be Mithras, who was worshipped in the north between the 1st and 4th centuries AD. Archaeologists are also speculating that he could be the Greek god Attis, which would be likely to identify the female head as Cybele - Phrygia's only known goddess.

"This happens once in a lifetime," says Frank Giecco, of Wardell Armstrong Archaeology, which has overseen the Heritage Lottery Fund-backed Discovering Derventio project.

"You can work in archaeology all your life and never find anything like that. It's incredible."


Amelia Earhart plane fragment identified

© Tighar
A piece of aluminum debris recovered in 1991 appears to belong to Earhart’s lost plane.
A fragment of Amelia Earhart's lost aircraft has been identified to a high degree of certainty for the first time ever since her plane vanished over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937, in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator.

New research strongly suggests that a piece of aluminum aircraft debris recovered in 1991 from Nikumaroro, an uninhabited atoll in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati, does belong to Earhart's twin-engined Lockheed Electra.

According to researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has long been investigating the last, fateful flight taken by Earhart 77 years ago, the aluminum sheet is a patch of metal installed on the Electra during the aviator's eight-day stay in Miami, which was the fourth stop on her attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

The patch replaced a navigational window: A Miami Herald photo shows the Electra departing for San Juan, Puerto Rico on the morning of Tuesday, June 1, 1937 with a shiny patch of metal where the window had been.


We no longer see the funny side of clowns

© Rex Features
Clowns, such as this one in Stephen King's It, have always been figures of fear
Let's be honest, does anybody nowadays really like clowns? Certainly not in France. There has been a spate of reports this week of people dressed as clowns, some armed with pistols, knives and baseball bats, wreaking havoc in towns across the country. In Montpellier, a clown was arrested after attacking a pedestrian with an iron bar, and, in the nearby town of Agde, police arrested 14 teenagers dressed as clowns and carrying weapons.

The phenomenon has even prompted what has been described as "anti-clown vigilantism", and follows on the heels of reports of clowns stalking towns in California armed with knives and baseball bats. Nobody would pretend circus life is easy, but have things really got this bad?

Blame has been placed on everything from - inevitably - the internet to the popularity of a television series American Horror Story: Freak Show, featuring a serial killer called Twisty the Clown. As the actor Lon Chaney Jr, who spent a lifetime terrifying cinema audiences in the guise of various wolf men and monsters, once observed: "There is nothing laughable about a clown in the moonlight." And as these latest incidents suggest, if you wish to strike unease and terror into the hearts of people there is no more potent disguise than the garishly painted white face and fright wig of the clown.

In a sense, they always were figures of fear. The character of the clown - as jester, or fool - goes back to Roman times, a figure who was given license to poke fun at symbols of power and authority - the fool who is not a fool at all - but who also portended something more anarchic and subversive, if not malevolent.


Two Swedish craters are the first evidence of binary asteroid hitting Earth

© Unknown
The Swedish Lockne crater, 7.5 km wide and Målingen, about 0.7 km, were caused both by the shock of a double asteroid, an object made up of about 600 m and a smaller 150 m . Both came after the explosion of a massive asteroid collision some 200 km in the main asteroid belt 470 million years ago. So suggests a study published this week in the open access journal Scientific Reports, a research team led by Jens Ormo, the Astrobiology Centre (INTA-CSIC).

"For the first time has been dated with high precision as a pair of craters of this type, both created 458 million years ago and are the only known example land that can no doubt be attributed to the impact of a binary asteroid" highlights Ormo to Sync. "All other potential candidates have ages with double periods of time not to be excluded that are formed separately."

The good condition of Lockne and Målingen, about 16 km away, has enabled very necessary to relate geological evidence.

"The double impact occurred in a shallow sea, and the two objects collided on the same rock stratigraphic setting beneath a water column of 500 meter" Ormo explains. The research highlights the value of such data "as a reference for numerical simulations of these events, and therefore, to assess the potential risks of asteroid impacts in the ocean."


Preserved grains & trade goods unearthed in Indonesia

Liyangan archaeological site on the slope of Mount Sindoro in Temanggung regency, Central Java, has again proven its position as home to one of main archeological findings in Indonesia after archeologists from the Yogyakarta Archeology Agency found the fossilized remnants of staple foods, comprising maize and rice, still inside a bamboo basket at the site.

The archeologists said the finding indicated that Indonesia had long been part of an international agriculture network because maize was not endemic to Java and at the site they had also found many artifacts from other countries, especially China.

Head of the Yogyakarta Archeology Agency, Siswanto, said the findings proved that agricultural produce had been one of the primary commodities traded between Indonesia and its trade partners.

"The finding is also crucial to help us trace the history of food cultivation and technology in Indonesia, especially in Java," said Siswanto, who spoke during the opening of the 2014 General Soedirman University (Unsoed) Fair in Purwokerto, recently.