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Sherlock

Scotland: "Tomb of the Otters" Filled With Stone Age Human Bones

Five-thousand-year-old chamber stumbled upon in Scotland.

Image
© Mark Newton
The so called "Tomb of the Otters" came to light during a residential landscaping project.
Thousands of human bones have been found inside a Stone Age tomb on a northern Scottish island, archaeologists say.

The 5,000-year-old burial site, on South Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands, was accidentally uncovered after a homeowner had leveled a mound in his yard to improve his ocean view.

Authorities were alerted to the find in 2010 after a subsequent resident, Hamish Mowatt, guessed at the site's significance.

Mowatt had lowered a camera between the tomb's ceiling of stone slabs and was confronted by a prehistoric skull atop a muddy tangle of bones.

Sherlock

Prehistoric Sarcophagi Discovered in Eastern Taiwan

A cluster of three ancient sarcophagi recently discovered in eastern Taiwan's Taitung City could give scholars new insight into their understanding of a nearby prehistoric site, a researcher from the National Museum of Prehistory said Thursday.

Parts of the sarcophagi, or stone coffins, have already been unearthed, showing them to be 60 cm high and 50 cm wide, although their lengths have yet to be determined as the excavation is still underway.

Weathered remains and mortuary objects such as jade adzes have been found in the sarcophagi, located on a hill over 200 meters above sea level and around three kilometers from the Peinan archeological site. The prehistoric site, where more than 20,000 ancient objects have been unearthed, is one of the largest archeological sites in Taiwan.

After the discovery was made by construction workers who were widening a road, the Taitung city government decided to suspend the road expansion project, while an archeological group from the museum, which is located at the Peinan site, began to excavate the stone coffins.

Info

Earliest Europeans Wore Bling - Were they also Cannibals?

Cut Marks on Human Bone
© L. Crépin - S. Prat / MNHN - CNRS
Cut marks are seen on this early human bone recovered from southeastern Europe.

Early humans wore jewelry and likely practiced cannibalism, suggest remains of the earliest known Homo sapiens from southeastern Europe.

The remains, described in PLoS One, date to 32,000 years ago and represent the oldest direct evidence for anatomically modern humans in a well-documented context. The human remains are also the oldest known for our species in Europe to show post-mortem cut marks.

"Our observations indicate a post-mortem treatment of human corpses including the selection of the skull," co-author Stephane Pean, a paleozoologist and archaeologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, told Discovery News. "We demonstrate that this treatment was not for nutritional purposes, according to comparison with game butchery treatment, so it is not a dietary cannibalism."

Instead, Pean said that he and his colleagues believe that the "observed treatment of the human body, together with the presence of body ornaments, indicates rather a mortuary ritual: either a ritual cannibalism or a specific mortuary practice for secondary disposal."

Sherlock

Dorset Burial Pit Viking Had Filed Teeth

Viking filed teeth
© Oxford Archaeology
Archaeologist David Score said the practice would not have been a "pleasant experience"
Archaeologists have discovered one of the victims of a suspected mass Viking burial pit found in Dorset had grooves filed into his two front teeth.

Experts believe a collection of bones and decapitated heads, unearthed during the creation of the Weymouth Relief Road, belong to young Viking warriors.

During analysis, a pair of front teeth was found to have distinct incisions.

Archaeologists think it may have been designed to frighten opponents or show status as a great fighter.

Oxford Archaeology project manager David Score said: "It's difficult to say how painful the process of filing teeth may have been, but it wouldn't have been a pleasant experience.

Pharoah

Italy: 18th Century Egyptian-Inspired Room Found

Egyptian Room_1
© Rossella Lorenzi
The Egyptian room of Casalbuttano.

Strange hieroglyphs and representations of Egyptian gods and goddesses have been found in the middle of the Po valley in northern Italy, revealing a unique example of Egyptomania.

Found in Casalbuttano ed Uniti, a village some 10 miles north of Cremona, the Egyptian-inspired motifs materialized as restorers removed the tapestry in a room of Palazzo Turina, an 18th century building which now houses the town hall.

A blue starry ceiling emerged, while walls decorated with pink and cream colored bands revealed a wealth of hieroglyphs.

Painted with stunning trompe l'oeil effects to produce the illusion of real statues, depictions of Egyptian god and goddesses emerged at the room corners.

"It has been an amazing discovery. The animal glue used for the tapestry actually preserved the frescoes, which only needed some basic cleaning," Virginia Bocciola, one of the architects who carried the restoration, told Discovery News.

Magnify

Woman's skeleton found at Sedgeford dig sheds light on Norfolk 4,000 years ago Chris Bishop

Woman Skeleton Sedgeford 4,000 years ago

The 4,000-year-old woman's skeleton found by the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP) last year.

Curled up in her burial pit with her amber beads, an ancient woman's remains show our ancestors farmed a lush Norfolk valley thousands of years earlier than previously believed.

Archaeologists confirmed the significance of the discovery yesterday as work got under way for the summer season at Sedgeford, near Heacham.

Martin Hatton, curator of human remains at the site, was staking out an area of chalk down close to where the find was made last summer, ready for this year's eagerly-awaited dig to begin.

"It was a total surprise to us," he said. "You don't bury people anywhere other than near where they live, so what we can say is that people were farming the land here 4,000 years ago."

People

Family didn't really matter 9,000 years ago

London, July 4: If recent findings from one of the world's best-preserved Stone Age settlements are anything to go by, then perhaps biological kinship need not have had much significance in early prehistoric societies.

In Turkey's Catalhoyuk, at least, it seems that people did not live in families. Instead, the society seems to have been organized completely differently.

Many buildings in Catalhoyuk were built so close together that people had to get in through the roof.

Its residents farmed crops and domesticated animals, and tried their hands in painting and sculpture.

Bizarro Earth

Ossuary Yields New Detail of Gospel Story

Image
© Unknown
Background comes to light on the family of the high priest who pursued Jesus

The bone box itself was plundered from a Second Temple-era grave by looters. But when archaeologists finally got their hands on it some 2,000 years later, they guessed its inscription could possibly shed light on one of the major figures surrounding the death of Jesus.

They were right.

"It is remarkable and exciting," Boaz Zissu, a senior lecturer in the Department of Land of Israel and Archaeology Studies at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, told The Media Line.

Zissu and his colleague Yuval Goren, of Tel Aviv University, discovered that the ossuary, or small stone chest that Jews used at the time to store bones, belonged to a woman belonging to the family of Caiaphas, the high priest who the Gospels say sent Jesus to the Romans to be crucified.

While Christians may find an archeological remnant of the Gospel story to be intriguing, Zissu and Goren are more focused on the rest of the inscription, which for the first time revealed that Caiaphas was a member of the priestly division called Ma'aziahu and was probably born in the hills south of Bethlehem.

Pharoah

Two new monuments uncovered at Karnak Temple

An ancient Egyptian wall that once enclosed the Petah temple has been found at the Karnak Temple complex in Luxor

Image
© Unknown
Image
© Unknown
This week, during their routine excavation work, the French-Egyptian archaeological team working at the Karnak Temple in Luxor uncovered two major monuments. The first is the wall that once enclosed the New Kingdom temple of the god Petah and the second is a gate dated back to the reign of 25th dynasty King Shabaka (712-698 BC).

Christophe Tiers, director of the Karnak French mission, said that the mission has also unearthed a number of engraved blocks from the Petah temple. During the restoration process, archaeologists realised that the blocks date to the reign of King Tuthmosis III (1479-1425 BC) which means that the construction of the temple started under Egyptian rule and not during the Ptolemaic dynasty as was previously thought.

Cow Skull

Archaeology: 7500-year-old skeleton found in northeastern Bulgaria

Image
© Nadezhda Chipeva
Bulgarian archaeologists have found the remains of what seems to be a 7500-year-old prehistoric skeleton in the region of Koriyata, near the town of Suvorovo in northeast Bulgaria, Focus news agency reported on June 27 2011.

The skeleton was found during excavations of an ancient village dated from fifth century BC.

Historian from Varna university and leader of the expedition in the region Koriyata, Vladimir Slavchev, described the discovery as "an unusual finding" because complete prehistoric skeletons were very rarely preserved.