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US: 1,100-Year-Old Mayan Ruins Found in North Georgia

Image
© Flickr Commons
Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of an ancient Mayan city in the mountains of North Georgia believed to be at least 1,100 years old. According to Richard Thornton at Examiner.com, the ruins are reportedly what remains of a city built by Mayans fleeing wars, volcanic eruptions, droughts and famine.

In 1999, University of Georgia archeologist Mark Williams led an expedition to investigate the Kenimer Mound, a large, five-sided pyramid built in approximately 900 A.D. in the foothills of Georgia's tallest mountain, Brasstown Bald. Many local residents has assumed for years that the pyramid was just another wooded hill, but in fact it was a structure built on an existing hill in a method common to Mayans living in Central America as well as to Southeastern Native American tribes.

Speculation has abounded for years as to what could have happened to the people who lived in the great Meso-American societies of the first century. Some historians believed that they simply died out in plagues and food shortages, but others have long speculated about the possibility of mass migration to other regions.

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Deciphered Ancient Tablet Reveals Curse of Greengrocer

Curse Tablet
© Professor Alexander Hollmann
The curse tablet calls on Iao, the Greek name for Yahweh, god of the Old Testament, to strike down Babylas who is identified as being a greengrocer.

A fiery ancient curse inscribed on two sides of a thin lead tablet was meant to afflict, not a king or pharaoh, but a simple greengrocer selling fruits and vegetables some 1,700 years ago in the city of Antioch, researchers find.

Written in Greek, the tablet holding the curse was dropped into a well in Antioch, then one of the Roman Empire's biggest cities in the East, today part of southeast Turkey, near the border with Syria.

The curse calls upon Iao, the Greek name for Yahweh, the god of the Old Testament, to afflict a man named Babylas who is identified as being a greengrocer. The tablet lists his mother's name as Dionysia, "also known as Hesykhia" it reads. The text was translated by Alexander Hollmann of the University of Washington.

The artifact, which is now in the Princeton University Art Museum, was discovered in the 1930s by an archaeological team but had not previously been fully translated. The translation is detailed in the most recent edition of the journal Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik.

Sherlock

Ireland: Archaeologists discover new ancient burial site at Knowth

New archaeological relics from the Neolithic era have surfaced in Knowth, Co Meath, reports the Meath Chronicle. The new finds were discovered at an area just southeast of the passage tomb cemetery at Brú na Binne, which has been the focus of Professor George Eogan's study for the past few decades.
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© Google Images
Newgrange

At the site, a "number of previously unknown large-scale monuments" have been discovered. Joe Fenwick, a member of the archaeology department at NUI Galway, conducted a number of "noninvasive, topographical" surveys of the area in conjunction with Professor George Eogan.

With their study, the team has discovered "a complexity of sub-surface wall-footings, earth-filled ditches, and post-pits...This research confirms that the archaeological footprint of Knowth extends over a far greater area than previously thought," notes The Meath Chronicle.

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Humans Originated Near Rivers, Evidence Suggests

Afar People
© Nahid Gani
Afar people, living in the adjoining floodplain of the Jara River. Early humans lived in a similar river-margin environment at Aramis, Ethiopia, 4.4 million years ago.

Just as great civilizations once emerged along the banks of major rivers such as the Tigris, Euphrates, Ganges and Nile, the ancestors of humans might have originated on riversides too, scientists find.

This discovery could help us better understand the environmental forces that shaped the origin of the human lineage, such as factors of the landscape that prompted our ancestors to start walking upright on two legs, researchers said.

What may be the earliest known ancestor of the human lineage, the 4.4-million-year-old Ardipithecus ramidus, or "Ardi," was discovered in Aramis in Ethiopia. The precise nature of its habitat has been hotly debated - its discoverers claim it was a woodland creature far removed from rivers, while others argue it lived in grassy, tree-dotted savannas.

To learn more about what the area was like back then, scientists investigated sediments from the site where Ardi was excavated. They noticed layers of sandstone that were likely created by ancient streams regularly depositing sand over time. These rivers may have reached up to 26 feet (8 meters) deep and 1,280 feet (390 m) wide.

Sherlock

Poland: Mysterious Viking-era Graves Found With Treasure

Sword at his side, the so-called Young Warrior (left) is among the thousand-year-old discoveries in a newfound cemetery in Poland, a new study says.

The burial ground holds not only a hoard of precious objects but also hints of human sacrifice - and several dozen graves of a mysterious people with links to both the Vikings and the rulers of the founding states of eastern Europe.
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© S. Gronek
Who Was the Young Warrior?

Researchers are especially intrigued by the Young Warrior, who died a violent death in his 20s. The man's jaw is fractured, his skull laced with cut marks. The sword provides further evidence of a martial life.

Objects in the warrior's grave suggest he had ties to one of the region's earliest Slavic monarchs, said the project leader Andrzej Buko, head of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology at the Polish Academy of Sciences.

But the north-south orientation of the man's body is a Scandinavian custom. Slavic graves were oriented east-west, Buko says.

Sherlock

UK: Yorkshire's answer to Stonehenge awarded star billing

Archaeologists have labelled it as the region's answer to Stonehenge because of its major historical significance. Now, the North Yorkshire site, which is home to the country's oldest surviving house, has been listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument by English Heritage in a bid to preserve it for future generations.

Star Carr - a Stone Age site near Scarborough dating from 10,500 years ago - was awarded the prestigious status by the Heritage Minister John Penrose yesterday. The designation provides legal protection for the site where last year a team of archaeologists from the universities of York and Manchester discovered Britain's earliest surviving home.
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© Adrian Warren
Star Carr

The wooden building, which is circular, 3.5 metres wide, and shows evidence of a possible fireplace, predates the house previously thought to be Britain's oldest, at Howick, Northumberland, by at least 500 years. A team of researchers excavating the site, which would have overlooked a giant lake, also found a wooden platform which is the earliest evidence of carpentry in Europe and an 11,000-year-old tree trunk with its bark still intact after being preserved in peat.

Sherlock

US: Ohio's ancient earthworks are aligned to astronomical events

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© Wikimedia Commons
Opening of a ditch on the southern side of the gate to the Great Circle Earthworks in Newark, Ohio, United States; note the nearby person for scale. Along with the Octagon and Wright Earthworks, the Great Circle was built by prehistoric Hopewellian peoples. The three sets of earthworks compose the Newark Earthworks; they have been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Many of Ohio's ancient earthworks are aligned to astronomical events, such as the apparent rising and setting of the sun or the moon on key dates in their cycles.

The main axis of the Octagon Earthworks at Newark, for example, lines up to where the moon rises at its northernmost point on the eastern horizon.

Clearly, ancient Americans were paying close attention to the sky, but why?

This question is considered in a paper by Canadian archaeologists Brian Hayden and Suzanne Villeneuve published in the current issue of the Cambridge Archaeological Journal.

One of the most commonly proposed answers is that farmers need to know when to plant and harvest their crops, and the solar calendar determines the growing season.

But ancient farmers, more attuned to nature's rhythms than most modern folk, didn't need gigantic astronomical observatories for that. Moreover, the 18.6-year-long cycle of the moon, encoded in Newark's monumental earthworks, wouldn't be of any help at all in determining the best times to sow and reap.

Sherlock

UK: Is Kyle's find treasure?

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© Unknown
A young archaeologist has made his first major find at a park in Little Bowden during playtime at school.

Eight-year-old Kyle Simpson attends Little Bowden School and while at play in the nearby rec dug up four objects including a Victorian ink well.

He said: "I dug them up using a stick as I saw broken bits of pot in the area. I think there is more to find but I need help."

In a letter to Harborough District Council, Kyle, who has long been interested in being an archaeologist, has asked for help with further excavations.

He wrote: "If you could rope a small part of the park off, where I found them then I could carefully dig down a little further.

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UK: Scientists discover source of rock used in Stonehenge's first circle

Image
© Unknown
Discovery reignites debate over transportation of smaller standing stones

Scientists have succeeded in locating the exact source of some of the rock believed to have been used 5000 years ago to create Stonehenge's first stone circle.

By comparing fragments of stone found at and around Stonehenge with rocks in south-west Wales, they have been able to identify the original rock outcrop that some of the Stonehenge material came from.

The work - carried out by geologists Robert Ixer of the University of Leicester and Richard Bevins of the National Museum of Wales - has pinpointed the source as a 70 metre long rock outcrop called Craig Rhos-y-Felin, near Pont Saeson in north Pembrokeshire. It's the first time that an exact source has been found for any of the stones thought to have been used to build Stonehenge.

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Ancient Texts Tell Tales of War, Bar Tabs

Ancient Text
© The Schøyen Collection MS 2063, Oslo and Londo
In addition to the inscription this stele depicts King Nebuchadnezzar II standing beside a ziggurat he built at Babylon. The tower is dedicated to the god Marduk. This is one of only four known depictions of Nebuchadnezzar known to exist, and the best preserved.

A trove of newly translated texts from the ancient Middle East are revealing accounts of war, the building of pyramidlike structures called ziggurats and even the people's use of beer tabs at local taverns.

The 107 cuneiform texts, most of them previously unpublished, are from the collection of Martin Schøyen, a businessman from Norway who has a collection of antiquities.

The texts date from the dawn of written history, about 5,000 years ago, to a time about 2,400 years ago when the Achaemenid Empire (based in Persia) ruled much of the Middle East.

The team's work appears in the newly published book Cuneiform Royal Inscriptions and Related Texts in the Schøyen Collection (CDL Press, 2011).