Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
(AP) -- Archaeologists excavating a sprawling prehistoric fortress in southern Greece have discovered a secret underground passage thought to have supplied the site with water in times of danger.
Dating to the mid-13th century B.C., the stone passage passed under the massive walls of the Mycenaean citadel of Midea and probably led to a nearby water source, authorities said Friday.
The passage would allow the people of Midea, about 93 miles south of Athens, safe access to drinkable water even in times of enemy attack.
"It is a very important discovery, which gave us great joy," excavation director Katie Demakopoulou said.
Only three such networks - major engineering feats requiring intensive labor - from Mycenaean times have been found so far.
Excavations in late June and July at Midea revealed cut rock steps leading to the triangular passage, whose entrance was covered with a large stone lintel. At the entrance to the 5-foot-high passage, archaeologists found quantities of broken clay water jars and cups.
The 6-acre site was girdled with a wall of huge stone blocks, built around 1250 B.C. Excavations have also uncovered several buildings - some decorated with painted plaster walls - pottery, a clay figure of a goddess, seal-stones and an amethyst vase shaped like a triton shell.
Controlling a strategic road in the northeastern Peloponnese, Midea was first occupied in the later Neolithic period, in the 5th millennium B.C. It flourished during Mycenaean times and was destroyed by earthquake and fire at the end of the 13th century B.C. - after which the site diminished in size and significance. Traces of habitation have also been located from the Archaic (7th and 6th centuries B.C.), Roman and Byzantine periods.
Greek state archaeologists and archaeologists from the Swedish Institute at Athens, a private foundation financed by the Swedish government, have systematically excavated Midea since 1983.
© 2006 The Associated Press.
August 26, 2007
LEGEND has it that the royal tombs of ancient
Egypt were sealed with monstrous curses
against all who trespassed into the domain of
In the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun,
hieroglyphs were said to have spelled out a
dreadful end for all who entered. Howard
Carter, the archaeologist who opened the tomb
in 1923, wrote that "all sane people should
dismiss such inventions with contempt".
But a German man has decided the curse of the
mummies is definitely not a myth — and has
returned a plundered ancient carving he says
has fatally cursed his family. The relic was
stolen three years ago from the Valley of
Kings, home to the tombs of dozens of
pharaohs and nobles who were buried 3000
The unnamed man decided to take it home to
Germany with him as a souvenir of his trip.
Trouble began on his return, according to an
anonymous note that accompanied the carving
when it was recently returned to the Egyptian
embassy in Berlin.
The thief was struck down with inexplicable
fatigue and fever, paralysis, and ultimately
death. The stolen piece was returned by his
stepson, who believed the curse would not end
with his relative's death.
Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities said
that by returning the carving, the stepson
hoped his relative's soul could rest in
peace. The apparent curse is the latest in a
long series of bedevilments to have struck
explorers and plunderers. King Tut's "curse"
is the most famous of those attached to the
pharaohs. The team that excavated his tomb is
said to have suffered a series of unexplained
Saturday, August 25, 2007
By Chris Hooper
Could Stonehenge be the site of the lost city of Apollo? DB2685
A RENOWNED archaeologist, who shot to national prominence last year
with his amazing discovery of Stonehenge's lost alter stone by a
roadside in Berwick St James, now claims to have found the famed lost
city of Apollo in the land around Stonehenge.
Dennis Price, who is an expert on the history of Stonehenge and who
used to work with Wessex Archaeology, believes the lost city of Apollo
is located at King's Barrow Ridge, overlooking Stonehenge.
The lost city is believed by many to be mythical but, after working
with language experts at Exeter University, Mr Price is convinced the
city exists and that it is right here on the outskirts of Salisbury.
The team painstakingly deciphered the works of an ancient Greek
mariner named Pytheas of Massilia.
Mr Price explained that Pytheas was known to have visited Britain in
around 325 BC and in his chronicles he wrote of the lost city of
Apollo and a site similar to Stonehenge.
He said: "There is a passage that apparently refers to Stonehenge
which has long fascinated people, but there is also a repeated
reference made to a city sacred to Apollo which has gone completely
It was this which first intrigued Mr Price and led him to look a
little harder at Pytheas' text. And this deeper investigation allowed
him to find the exact location of the city.
He said: "Just a mile or so to the east of Stonehenge is a gigantic
prehistoric earthwork called Vespasian's Camp, named in later years by
William Camden, after the same Vespasian who subjugated the south west
of England during the Roman invasion of Britain in 43AD.
"It is invariably described as an Iron Age hill fort, yet excavations
there have shown the existence of far earlier Neolithic pits, while
there still exist the remains of early Bronze Age funeral barrows,
showing the site was in use while nearby Stonehenge was being
"Vespasian's Camp lies at the bottom of a slope occupied further up by
what is known as the King's Barrow Ridge, overlooking Stonehenge,
while this is further divided into the New King Barrow and Old King
"Vespasian's Camp cannot be seen from Stonehenge, but it lies to the
east of the ruins, in the direction of the rising sun. As Apollo had
largely become thought of as a Sun god by the time Pytheas was
writing, it is an obvious connection.
"Given the huge scale of the earthworks at Vespasian's Camp, it is not
unthinkable that Pytheas may have thought of Troy, another city sacred
to or beloved of Apollo, as some later versions of the stories of this
place speak of Apollo building the walls there along with Poseidon.
"We cannot know precisely how Pytheas came to equate the sanctuary,
the temple and the city with Apollo, but it is not unthinkable that
some future excavation at Stonehenge might provide evidence of this."
For more on this discovery see www.eternalidol.com.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
From correspondents in London
From a local rag:
A BRITISH student archaeologist has
discovered a 5000-year-old piece of chewing
Sarah Pickin, 23, found the lump of birch
bark tar - complete with Neolithic tooth
prints - on a dig in Finland.
Ms Pickin's tutor at the University of Derby,
Professor Trevor Brown, said birch bark tar
contained phenols, which are antiseptic
"It is generally believed that Neolithic
people found that by chewing this stuff if
they had gum infections it helped to treat
the condition. It's particularly significant
because well-defined tooth imprints were
found on the gum which Sarah discovered," he
Ms Pickin was on a volunteer program at the
Kierikki Centre on the west coast of Finland
when she made the find.
More articles here:
Stone Age Chewing Gum Stories
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Robert G. Bednarik leads sea voyages just like homo erectus would have had to make 800,000 years ago on rafts made by hand-axe technology;
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Did Early Humans First Arise in Asia, Not Africa?
National Geographic News, December 27, 2005
Two archaeologists are challenging what many
experts consider to be the basic assumption of
human migration-that humankind arose in Africa
and spread over the globe from there.
Robin Dennell, of the University of Sheffield in
England, and Wil Roebroeks, of Leiden University in
the Netherlands, describe their ideas in the
December 22 issue of Nature.
They believe that early-human fossil discoveries over
the past ten years suggest very different
conclusions about where humans, or humanlike
beings, first walked the Earth.
Here's the Link:
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Here is a very interesting article about an aborigine skull from a tribe member who died in the 1800s. It is remarkably like that of Homo Erectus Soloensis, who lived in Java over 28,000 years ago.Modern Homo Erectus Hybrid in Australia?
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Science Daily - In 1942, a human braincase was found in Romania during phosphate mining. The skull's geological age has remained uncertain. Now, new radiocarbon analysis appearing in the August issue of Current Anthropology directly dates the skull to approximately 33,000 years ago, placing it in the Upper Paleolithic.
Though this braincase is in many ways similar to other known specimens from the period, the fossil also presents a distinctly Neanderthal feature, ubiquitous among Neanderthals, extremely rare among archaic humans, and unknown among prior modern humans.
"The mosaic is most parsimoniously explained as the result of a modest level of admixture with [Neanderthals] as modern humans dispersed across Europe," write Andrei Soficaru (Institutul de Anthropologie, Romania), Catalin Petrea (Institutul de Speologie, Romania), Adiran Dobos (Institutl de Arheologie, Romania), and Erik Trinkaus (Washington University, St. Louis). "Given the reproductive compatibility of many closely related species and the culturally mediated nature of mate choice in humans, such admixture should neither be rare nor unexpected."
Known as the Cioclovina 1 neurocranium, the skull is one of a very small number of European early modern humans securely dated prior to ca. 28,000 before present. It is unusual in its preservation, showing little signs of external abrasion and no carnivore damage to the bone. The person's age-at-death was probably somewhere in the 40's, "best considered mature, but not geriatric," the authors write.
The skull has been described from the outset as that of an early modern human, due to ear anatomy, details of the neck muscle attachments, and the presence of a high, rounded braincase. The lateral bones resemble those of recent human males. However, the area above the neck muscles contains a distinctly Neanderthal feature, a suprainiac fossa - a groove above the inion, or, the place on the bone at the lower back of a human skull that juts out the farthest.
"This feature implies some level of Neanderthal ancestry in this otherwise modern human fossil," the authors explain. "It joins other early modern European fossils, from the sites of Oase and Muierii in Romania, Mlasdec in the Czech Republic, and Les Rois in France in indicating some degree of Neanderthal admixture occurred when modern humans spread across Europe starting around 40,000 years ago."
Reference: Andrei Soficaru, Catalin Petrea, Adiran Dobos, and Erik Trinkaus. "The Human Cranium from the Pestera Cioclovina Uscata, Romania." Current Anthropology 48:4.
Source: University of Chicago Press Journals
Read The Article Here
Friday, August 10, 2007
4500 year old beer. Wisely the ancient Irish seem to have had a wider
source of different beers than the present scant selection.
Archaeologists Recreate Ancient Irish Beer
Two Galway Archaeologists have proposed a theory that one of the most
common archaeological monuments in the Irish landscape may have been
used for brewing a Bronze Age Beer.
Billy Quinn and Declan Moore, two archaeologists with Moore
Archaeological & Environmental Services (Moore Group) in Galway,
believe that an extensive brewing tradition existed in Ireland as far
back as 2500 BC. In an article to be published in Archaeology Ireland
next month, they detail their experiments and research into the
enigmatic site that is the fulacht fiadh. These monuments (of which
there are approx. 4500), which present in the landscape as small,
horseshoe shaped grass covered mounds, have been conventionally
thought of by archaeologists as ancient cooking spots. However, Quinn
and Moore believe that they may have also been used as breweries.
According to Quinn "the tradition of brewing in Ireland has a long
history, we think that the fulacht may have been used as a kitchen
sink, for cooking, dying, many uses, but that a primary use was the
brewing of ale." The two set out to investigate their theory in a
journey which took them across Europe in search of further evidence.
To prove their theory, Quinn & Moore set out to recreate the process.
They used an old wooden trough filled with water and added heated
stones. After achieving an optimum temperature of 60-70°C they began
to add milled barley and after approx 45 minutes simply baled the
final product into fermentation vessels. They added natural wild
flavourings (taking care to avoid anything toxic or hallucinogenic)
and then added yeast after cooling the vessels in a bath of cold water
for several hours.
According to Moore "including the leftover liquid we could easily have
produced up to 300 litres of this most basic ale". Through their
experiments, they discovered that the process of brewing ale in a
fulacht using hot rock technology is a simple process. To produce the
ale took only a few hours, followed by a three-day wait to allow for
Quinn and Moore point out that although their theory is based solely
on circumstantial and experimental evidence, they believe that,
although probably multifunctional in nature, a primary use of the
fulacht fiadh was for brewing beer.
For additional information on ancient Irish beer, contact Declan or
Billy or visit Moore Group.
A selection of photographs can be viewed at
Ancient Irish beer Photos. Larger versions can be provided on request.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Beyond Mesopotamia: A radical new view of human civilization reported
A radically expanded view of the origin of civilization, extending far beyond Mesopotamia, is reported by journalist Andrew Lawler in the 3 August issue of Science.
Mesopotamia is widely believed to be the cradle of civilization, but a growing body of evidence suggests that in addition to Mesopotamia, many civilized urban areas existed at the same time -
about 5,000 years ago - in an arc that extended from Mesopotamia east for thousands of kilometers across to the areas of modern India and Pakistan, according to Lawler.
"While Mesopotamia is still the cradle of civilization in the sense that urban evolution began there," Lawler said, "we now know that the area between Mesopotamia and India spawned a host of cities and cultures between 3000 B.C.E. and 2000 B.C.E."
Evidence of shared trade, iconography and other culture from digs in remote areas across this arc were presented last month at a meeting in Ravenna, Italy of the International Association for the Study of Early Civilizations in the Middle Asian Intercultural Space. The meeting was the first time that many archaeologists from more than a dozen countries gathered to discuss the fresh finds that point to this new view of civilization's start. Science's Lawler was the only journalist present.
Archaeologists shared findings from dozens of urban centers of approximately the same age that existed between Mesopotamia and the Indus River valley in modern day India and Pakistan. The researchers are just starting to sketch out this new landscape, but it's becoming clear that these centers traded goods and could have shared technology and architecture. Recovered artifacts such as beads, shells, vessels, seals and game boards show that a network linked these civilizations.
Researchers have also found hints, such as similar ceremonial platforms, that these cultures interacted and even learned from one another. A new excavation near Jiroft in southeastern Iran, for example, has unearthed tablets with an unknown writing system. This controversial find highlights the complexity of the cultures in an area long considered a backwater, Lawler explained.
These urban centers are away from the river valleys that archaeologists have traditionally focused on, according to Lawler. Archaeologists now have access to more remote locations and are expanding their studies.
Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science
Read Article Here
I understand the current view of neanderthal man is that he was 5'6",
at least three times as strong as a modern human, with robust bones
that were much denser and thicker than ours.
And yet, the given average weight is 150 pds.
My mother is 5'7" and weighs 135 pounds. She is skinny, almost
waifish....and she's a female homo sapien sapien!
Why are scientific journals so conservative on weight estimates?
At 6'3 my suggested weight is something like 170 or 180 pds. If I
weighed only 180, I would look anorexic.
Here's the discussion on Usenet:
Scientists and Hominid Weight
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
before 15,000 years ago.
How do they date the bow and arrow? Is it only through the stone tips? Why would archeologists have any evidence of bow use before 13,000 BC, if at that remote time they had simply sharpened the end of the wooden shaft of an arrow instead of attaching a sharpened stone?
Here's how the discussion went on Usenet:
Bow and Arrow Dating
Asian Homo Erectus In The News
AFP - Tuesday, August 7 02:59 am
CHICAGO (AFP) - A new analysis of the dental fossils of human ancestors suggests that Asian populations played a larger role than Africans in colonizing Europe millions of years ago, said a study released Monday.
The findings challenge the prevailing "Out of Africa" theory, which holds that anatomically modern man first arose from one point in Africa and fanned out to conquer the globe, and bolsters the notion that Homo sapiens evolved from different populations in different parts of the globe.
The "Out of Africa" scenario has been underpinned since 1987 by genetic studies based mainly on the rate of mutations in mitochondrial DNA, a cell material inherited from the maternal line of ancestry. But for this study, European researchers opted to study the tooth fossil record of modern man's ancestors because of their high component of genetic expression.
The investigators examined the shapes of more than 5,000 teeth from human ancestors from Africa, Asia and Europe dating back millions of years. They found that European teeth had more Asian features than African ones. They also noted that the continuity of the Eurasian dental pattern from the Early Pleistocene until the appearance of Upper Pleistocene Neanderthals suggests that the evolutionary courses of the Eurasian and African continents were relatively independent for a long period. "The history of human populations in Eurasia may not have been the result of a few high-impact replacement waves of dispersals from Africa, but a much more complex puzzle of dispersals and contacts among populations within and outside continents," the researchers wrote.
"In the light of these results, we propose that Asia has played an important role in the colonization of Europe, and that future studies on this issue are obliged to pay serious attention to the 'unknown' continent."
The paper was written by researchers at Spain's national center for research into human evolution in Burgos and appears in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"It's amazing how journalists can draw a conclusion that's factually different than the quotes they use in the article. This research doesn't seem to dispute OoA but refine it very slightly. We already know that peoples move around, so people moving to Asia first and then moving to Europe isn't exactly a revolutionary suggestion. Given how often Asian peoples moved into Europe historically (Mongols, Turks, Huns, Avars, etc.), it's expected that there would have been pre-historic migrations west from Central Asia. They still came from Africa originally. Moving from New York to Chicago in 1950 doesn't mean you weren't born in Pitsburgh in 1920."
I think you are over simplifying. The study is talking millions of years ago, not thousands. The major debate has been the mainstream view that the homo erectus was totally wiped out by homo sapien vs the multi-regional viewpoint, wherein homo erectus was absorbed and contributed some traits to modern homo sapien. It is interesting that the asian specimens almost always show the evolutionarily "transitory" versions of hominids.
The classification of the first homo erectus found in south east asia is still debated by some- it's either the earliest homo erectus or the most advanced homo habilis or austrolepithecine. The most advanced homo erectus/ergaster is found also in southeast asia, and was once considered an early homo sapien. African homo sapien was supposed to have made it out of Africa 50,000 years ago, but he shows up in Australia 60,000 years ago with a few traits in common with homo erectus soloensis (which may have survived in southeast asia until 27,000 years ago). The out of africa theory has never explained how the 950 - 1100 cc brain of ergaster and antecedent suddenly jumped to 1400 in heidelbergensis and then 1600 in neanderthal. Asian homo erectus didn't have to jump much at all, already having a 1,200 to 1,300 cc brain at the time.
I have often entertained the theory that the vast continent of Sundaland was the perfect condition for the development of homo sapien. Before the last glacial maximum, south east asian homo erectus had been isolated for quite some time. Then the lowering sea levels allowed the species to spread into mainland asia. Shortly thereafter, heidelbergensis appears in the middle east, the first homo sapien.
The middle east would have been the perfect melting point between erectus, ergaster, and antecedent. And if the tall ergaster and the smart erectus had a child, it would look alot like the tall, smart heidelbergensis.
Read the Article