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Fri, 21 Oct 2016
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Radiocarbon analyses suggests that Aegean civilization ended about a century earlier than thought

Assiros Toumba excavation site
Conventional estimates for the collapse of the Aegean civilization may be incorrect by up to a century, according to new radiocarbon analyses.

While historical chronologies traditionally place the end of the Greek Bronze Age at around 1025 BCE, this latest research suggests a date 70 to 100 years earlier.

Archaeologists from the University of Birmingham selected 60 samples of animal bones, plant remains and building timbers, excavated at Assiros in northern Greece, to be radiocarbon dated and correlated with 95.4% accuracy using Bayesian statistical methodology at the University of Oxford and the Akademie der Wissenschaften Heidelberg, Germany.

The findings are published in the journal PLOS One.


Archaeologists discover bronze remains of Celtic Iron Age chariot

© University of Leicester
Here is the chariot linch pin from three angles, showing the intricate decoration at the ends.
Team uncovers a matching set of decorated bronze parts from a 2nd or 3rd century BC Celtic chariot at Burrough Hill Iron Age hillfort

University of Leicester archaeologists have made a "once-in-a-career" discovery of the decorated bronze remains of an Iron Age chariot.

A team from the University's School of Archaeology and Ancient History has unearthed a hoard of rare bronze fittings from a 2nd or 3rd century BC chariot which appears to have been buried as a religious offering.

The archaeologists found the remains during their ongoing excavation of the Burrough Hill Iron Age hillfort, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

The School has led a 5-year project there since 2010, giving archaeology students and volunteers valuable experience of archaeological excavations.

© University of Leicester
This is a selection of chariot fittings: miniature terret ring (upper left), large terret ring (upper right), strap junction (lower left) and barrel-shaped harness fitting.
Burrough Hill is owned by the education charity, the Ernest Cook Trust, which has also funded site tours and school visits to the excavation.

While digging a large, deep pit near the remains of a house within the hillfort, a group of four students found a piece of bronze in the ground - before uncovering a concentration of further parts very nearby.

Taken together, the pieces are easily recognisable as a matching set of bronze fittings from a mid to late Iron Age chariot. As a group of two or more base metal prehistoric artefacts this assemblage is covered under the Treasure Act.

After careful cleaning, decorative patterns are clearly visible in the metalwork - including a triskele motif showing three waving lines, similar to the flag of the Isle of Man.

Treasure Chest

Pictures: Retiree with metal detector finds 1000-year old Viking treasure hoard in Scotland

© Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Darren Webster examines a silver arm-ring he discovered dating from 900 AD which is part of the Silverdale Viking Hoard on December 14, 2011 in London, England. Another hoard of Viking gold and silver artifacts dating back over 1,000 years has been discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland, in a find hailed by experts as one of the country's most significant.
A hoard of Viking gold and silver artifacts dating back over 1,000 years has been discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland, in a find hailed by experts as one of the country's most significant. Derek McLennan, a retired businessman, uncovered the 100 items in a field in Dumfriesshire, southwest Scotland, in September. Amongst the objects is a solid silver cross thought to date from the 9th or 10th century, a silver pot of west European origin, which is likely to have already been 100 years old when it was buried and several gold objects.

"Experts have begun to examine the finds, but it is already clear that this is one of the most significant Viking hoards ever discovered in Scotland," Scotland's Treasure Trove unit said in a statement.

The Viking hoard is McLennan's second significant contribution to Scotland's understanding of its past. Last year, he and a friend unearthed around 300 medieval coins in the same area of Scotland.


Antikythera shipwreck discoveries cast light on ancient culture

© Flickr
A statute of the goddess Athena with her spear
A team of Greek and international divers and archaeologists have retrieved stunning new discoveries from an ancient Greek ship that sank over 2,000 years ago off the remote island of Antikythera. The rescued antiquities include tableware, ship components and a giant bronze spear that would have belonged to a life-sized warrior statue.

The Antikythera wreck was first discovered back in 1900 by sponge divers who were blown off course by a storm. They subsequently recovered an outstanding haul of ancient treasures including bronze and marble statues, jewellery, furniture, luxury glassware, and the surprisingly complex Antikythera Mechanism. However, they were forced to end their mission prematurely at the 55-meter-deep site after one diver died of the bends and two were paralysed. Ever since, archaeologists have been left wondering if the site is home to even more treasure buried beneath the seabed.

Now a team of international archaeologists including Brendan Foley from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Theotokis Theodoulou from the Hellenic Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities have returned to the treacherous site, this time accompanied with state-of-the-art technology. During the first excavation season, taking place from September 15th to October 7th 2014, the researchers have created a high-resolution, 3D map of the site using stereo cameras mounted on an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Divers proceeded to recover a series of finds that prove that much of the ship's cargo is indeed still preserved beneath the sediment.


Bronze Age sundial-moondial discovered in Russia

© Vodolazhsky D.I.
A slab of rock discovered in Russia and dating to the Bronze Age may have helped ancient skywatchers track the motions of the sun and moon.
A strange slab of rock discovered in Russia more than 20 years ago appears to be a combination sundial and moondial from the Bronze Age, a new study finds.

The slab is marked with round divots arranged in a circle, and an astronomical analysis suggests that these markings coincide with heavenly events, including sunrises and moonrises.

The sundial might be "evidence of attempts of ancient researchers to understand patterns of apparent motion of luminaries and the nature of time," study researcher Larisa Vodolazhskaya of the Archaeoastronomical Research Center at Southern Federal University in Russia told Live Science in an email.


Neolithic village discovered in a lake in Northern Poland

© A. Pydyn
After diving in lake Gil.
The first Stone Age settlement identified in Polish waters has been discovered in the lake Gil Wielki, Iława Lake District (Warmia and Mazury) by underwater archaeologists led by Dr. Andrzej Pydyn from the Department of Underwater Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń.

The discovery was made in the project carried out in cooperation with the Warsaw branch of the Scientific Association of Polish Archaeologists.

"In shallow water in the reservoir we found a large amount of animal bones, remains of tools made of antler and numerous fragments of pottery, used at various times by ancient communities. Among them, the fragments that caught our attention relate to the tradition of late Neolithic, probably associated with the so-called Corded Ware culture" - told PAP Dr. Andrzej Pydyn.


Diver finds evidence showing giants lived in Arkansas

© KFSM News
Fort Smith - A local diver will appear on national television after he was asked to help the History Channel. The program will present evidence from a dive showing giants once lived in Arkansas. It was a two day, 40-foot adventure in July on Beaver Lake for Mike Young from Fort Smith.

"Being the explorer, I had to go look at it," Young said.

Young said he was looking for giants.

"They were between eight to 10 feet long," Young said. "There was one room off to the back that did get pretty tight."

Comment: Evidence proves giant race of humans roamed the Earth

Bizarre skeletons unearthed in Russian mound, satyr and giant horse

Fairy tale giants real, says science: My battle with Snopes

They might be giants! 18ft. tall giant human skeleton found by oil prospector J. Mckinney in Texas!

A giant mystery: 18 strange giant skeletons found in Wisconsin: Sons of god; Men of renown


Rare 'prone' burial in Italy attributed to a 'witch girl'

© Stefano Roascio
The way a person is buried by their community says a lot about how they were perceived in life. For that reason, burial customs are often used by anthropologists to gain a better understanding of how ancient civilisations and the various communities within them once functioned. Even today, there are still such strong ties between a person's religion in life and the burial customs that follow them into death, the alien anthropologists that will one day study us will no doubt appreciate the effort.

Fortunately for us, shaming a person in death, or taking measures against the possibility of supernatural retribution from beyond the grave, is far less common now as it has been in much of human history. An interesting example of this is the rare 'prone burial', which sees the skull of the deceased person being positioned face-down in their grave. The earliest known case of prone burial was found in the Czech Republic and dated to 26,000 years ago, while the most recent one was found in a World War I grave unearthed in Belgium.

Now archaeologists have found a new example of a prone burial - a 13-year-old girl in Italy, buried face-down in a grave facing what once was a church. The girl's remains have yet to be carbon dated, but it's been estimated that she lived some time between the Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, so between 400 and 1,000 AD.


Storm god worship: Ancient cult complex discovered in Israel

© Professor Itzhaq Shai
The foundations of the ancient cult complex in Israel were made of field stone.
A massive cult complex, dating back about 3,300 years, has been discovered at the site of Tel Burna in Israel.

While archaeologists have not fully excavated the cult complex, they can tell it was quite large, as the courtyard alone was 52 by 52 feet (16 by 16 meters). Inside the complex, researchers discovered three connected cups, fragments of facemasks, massive jars that are almost as big as a person and burnt animal bones that may indicate sacrificial rituals.

The archaeologists said they aren't sure who was worshipped at the complex, though Baal, the Canaanite storm god, is a possibility. "The letters of Ugarit [an ancient site in modern-day Syria] suggest that of the Canaanite pantheon, Baal, the Canaanite storm god, would have been the most likely candidate," Itzhaq Shai, a professor at Ariel University who is directing a research project at Tel Burna, told Live Science in an email. [See Images of the Cult Building and Related Artifacts]

The researchers said they can't rule out that a female deity, such as the ancient war goddess Anat, was worshipped there, Shai said.


Medieval "vampire" burial unearthed in Bulgaria

A skeleton with a stake driven through its chest has been unearthed in Bulgaria, in what archaeologists are terming a "vampire grave"

© Rex
The skeleton with an iron spike through the chest, which was supposed to stop the dead rising.
A "vampire grave" containing a skeleton with a stake driven through its chest has been unearthed by a man known as "Bulgaria's Indiana Jones".

Professor Nikolai Ovcharov - a crusading archaeologist who has dedicated his life to unearthing mysteries of ancient civilisations - said that he had made the discovery while excavating the ruins of Perperikon, an ancient Thracian city located in southern Bulgaria, close to the border with Greece.

The city, inhabited since 5,000 BC but only discovered 20 years ago, is believed to be the site of the Temple of Dionysius - the Greek God of wine and fertility. And among the finds at the site, which includes a hilltop citadel, a fortress and a sanctuary, are a series of "vampire graves".

On Thursday Professor Ovcharov announced that he had found a remarkably-preserved Medieval skeleton at the site in what he termed "a vampire grave".