Archaeological News

            The latest news in archaeology.             

Nine human skeletons have been found by archaeologists excavating land to be used for a water pipeline in Suffolk.

Eight of them, found together near Barnham, are believed to date back to about AD300. Two of the bodies had been buried with a brooch and a knife.

The other skeleton was discovered at Rougham.

Anglian Water, which is installing a new pipeline to serve Bury St Edmunds, said items from the dig would be “kept in a secure museum archive”.

The dig took five months and also unearthed evidence of Anglo Saxon “grub huts” from the 6th Century, near Barnham. Read more.

A 174-year-old marble globe in the middle of Istanbul’s historical peninsula went missing last month, daily Milliyet reported on April 22.

The globe came from a shrine, ordered to be built by Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid for his father Mahmud II in the Çemberlitaş neighborhood in 1840. The Ottoman-Armenian royal architects Ohannes and Bogos Dadyan completed the shrine in empirical style, including a 2.5-meter high drinking fountain on one of its corners, which was also decorated with a 70 cm-wide marble globe.

Officials from the Directorate of Shrines cannot explain how the globe was lost. Read more.

A cave located on Spain’s Canary Islands, in what was probably the aboriginal region of Artevigua, could reveal an unsuspected knowledge of astronomy by the ancient islanders since it marks equinoxes and solstices, while inside it the light recreates images related to fertility.

The cave was used as a temple and, besides its astronomical function, the light creates in its interior a mythological account of fertility, the likes of which exist nowhere else in the world,” archaeologist Julio Cuenca, who has investigated the area since the 1990s, said.

“It’s like a projector of images from a vanished culture,” Cuenca told Efe, adding that during a six-month period the light creates phallic images on cave walls that are covered with engravings of female pubic triangles. Read more.

A team of researchers with members from France, Great Britain and the U.S. has found that lead concentrations in drinking water in Rome, during the height of the Roman Empire were 100 times that of local spring waters. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes how they took sediment samples from two sources in the city that revealed lead levels over a thousand year period.

Scientists and historians have for years debated the possibility that lead poisoning was a contributing factor in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire—water carried from afar in aqueducts was directed into lead pipes for distribution in the empire’s capital city of Rome—leading to speculation that leaders had gone mad due to exposure in their drinking water. In this new effort, the researchers have concluded that while lead levels in the ancient drinking water were high, they weren’t high enough to have been a major health hazard, and thus, lead cannot be blamed for the demise of the empire. Read more.

Neanderthals were remarkably less genetically diverse than modern humans, with Neanderthal populations typically smaller and more isolated, researchers say.

Although Neanderthals underwent more genetic changes involving their skeletons, they had fewer such changes in behavior and pigmentation, scientists added.

Modern humans are the only humans alive today, but Earth was once home to a variety of other human lineages. The Neanderthals were once the closest relatives of modern humans, with the common ancestors of modern humans and Neanderthals diverging between 550,000 and 765,000 years ago. Neanderthals and modern humans later interbred — nowadays, about 1.5 to 2.1 percent of DNA of people outside Africa is Neanderthal in origin. Read more.

Modern humans may have dispersed in more than one wave of migration out of Africa, and they may have done so earlier than scientists had long thought, researchers now say.

Modern humans first arose between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago in Africa. But when and how the modern human lineage then dispersed out of Africa has long been controversial.

Scientists have suggested the exodus from Africa started between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago. However, stone artifacts dating to at least 100,000 years ago that were recently uncovered in the Arabian Desert suggested that modern humans might have begun their march across the globe earlier than once suspected. Read more.

When Samuel Smith, major general of the Maryland militia, needed a headquarters to plot Baltimore’s defense from British invaders in the summer of 1814, archaeologists believe he called on the owner of a shop that gives Butcher’s Hill its name.

Jacob Laudenslager leased much of what is Patterson Park today from landowner William Patterson, including a butcher’s shop steps from where the park’s iconic pagoda sits today.

Archaeologists have uncovered a wall of that structure as they embark on a dig for a better understanding of what happened when thousands of militiamen camped along the hills of southeast Baltimore during the War of 1812. Read more.

A community dig has shed new light on a castle which for centuries was in the front line of the conflict between England and Scotland.

It has shown that Wark Castle on the Northumberland side of the River Tweed was more of a heavyweight prospect than previously believed.

The excavations are the latest in a series by the Flodden 500 Archaeological project.

The venture began in 2009 with a grant from English Heritage in the run-up to last year’s marking of the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden.

It has led to the setting up of the Till Valley Archaeology Group, which now has more than 100 members. Read more.