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Mon, 20 Mar 2023
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Secret History


Ancient Roman 'spike defenses' made famous by Julius Caesar found in Germany

caesar wood spikes defense germany excavation
© Frederic Auth
Roman-era wooden spikes were found preserved in the damp soil in the Bad Ems area of Germany.
Archaeologists have found ancient Roman "barbed wire," famously used and written about by Julius Caesar, for the first time near a German silver mine.

In 52 B.C., Julius Caesar used an ingenious system of ditches and stakes to defend his soldiers from an encroaching Gallic army in modern-day central France. More than two millennia later, archaeologists have discovered the first preserved example of similar defensive stakes, which likely protected an ancient silver mine.

A student team made the unprecedented discovery in the area of Bad Ems, halfway between the present-day cities of Bonn and Mainz in Germany, on the former northern border of the Roman Empire.


Minoan civilisation may have used celestial 'star path' navigation techniques

Minoan Boat
© Alessandro Berio

The study by skyscape archaeologist, Alessandro Berio, has uncovered new evidence that the ancient Minoan civilisation developed significant nautical technologies to aid in the international sea trade, which is linked to the wealth and expansion of the culture throughout the Mediterranean. Due to its location, reliance on open sea navigation and international trade cycles were at the heart of Minoan culture.

The Minoans were a Bronze Age Aegean civilisation on the island of Crete, which flourished from 2600 - 1100 BC. The term "Minoan" refers to the mythical King Minos of Knossos, a figure in Greek mythology associated with Theseus, the labyrinth and the Minotaur.

The study examined the orientations of the palaces along navigational directions, where the grand rectangular central courts, oriented generally north south on the long axis, are considered the defining architectural characteristic of the Minoan palace construction.

The analysis showed that the axis of the Minoan palaces were oriented toward the rising or setting of important navigational stars, which may have helped sailors to navigate to the bustling commercial destinations in the Levant and Egypt. The orientation of these palaces symbolised Crete's special relationship with foreign trading hubs and the control that local elites wielded over specific sea lanes.


Archaeologists discover secret chamber inside Great Pyramid of Giza

secret chamber pyramid Giza
© The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities/Handout via REUTERS
A 30-foot-long corridor was discovered by scientists Thursday March 2, 2023, near the main entrance of the 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.
Perhaps it could lead to a real-life Chamber of Secrets.

A 30-foot-long hidden corridor was discovered by scientists Thursday near the main entrance of the 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, Reuters reported.

The pyramid — considered the last of the seven wonders of the world still standing — has been undergoing regular searches using infrared and cosmic-ray imaging since 2015 as a part of the Scan Pyramids project.

Officials said the newly unearthed hallway could lead to more knowledge about the structure.

"We're going to continue our scanning so we will see what we can do ... to figure out what we can find out beneath it, or just by the end of this corridor," said Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Comment: Video from Disclose.tv:


Oldest human genome from southern Spain

A new study reports on genomic data from a 23,000-year-old individual who lived in what was probably the warmest place of Europe at the peak of the last Ice Age. The oldest human genome recovered from the southern tip of Spain adds an important piece of the puzzle to the genetic history of Europe.
Overview of Cueva de Malalmuerzo.
© Pedro Cantalejo
Overview of Cueva de Malalmuerzo.
An international team of researchers has analysed ancient human DNA from several archaeological sites in Andalucía in southern Spain. The study reports on the oldest genome to date from Cueva del Malalmuerzo in southern Spain, as well as the 7,000 to 5,000-year-old genomes of early farmers from other well-known sites, such as Cueva de Ardales.

The Iberian Peninsula plays an important role in the reconstruction of human population history. As a geographic cul-de-sac in the southwest of Europe, it is on one hand considered a refuge during the last Ice Age with its drastic temperature fluctuations. On the other hand, it may have been one of the starting points for the recolonisation of Europe after the glacial maximum. Indeed, previous studies had reported on the genomic profiles of 13,000 to 8,000-year-old hunter-gatherers from the Iberian Peninsula and provided evidence for the survival and continuation of a much older Palaeolithic lineage that has been replaced in other parts of Europe and is no longer detectable.

After an organism's death, its DNA is only preserved for a certain period of time and under favourable climatic conditions. Extracting DNA from ancient remains from hot and dry climates is a huge challenge for researchers. In Andalucía, in the south of present-day Spain, climatic conditions are similar to those in North Africa - however, DNA has successfully been recovered of 14,000-year-old human individuals from a cave site in Morocco. The new study fills crucial temporal and spatial gaps. Researchers can now directly investigate the role of the southern Iberian Peninsula as a refuge for Ice Age populations and potential population contacts across the Strait of Gibraltar during the last Ice Age, when sea-levels were much lower than today.


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


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:


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.


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.