Archaeological News

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A cross made of iron, coins, bronze bracelets – and a container dating from the 12th to 13th century on which is inscribed, “Lord, help Veronica”. All of these and more are among finds made by archaeologists during the summer 2014 dig at Bulgaria’s ancient sacred site of Perperikon.

Professor Nikolai Ovcharov, who has been overseeing archaeological work since 2000 at Perperikon – a site where human habitation dates back to about 5000 BCE, on a rocky hill 15km from the town of Kurdjali in southern Bulgaria – unveiled the finds at a news conference on September 28 2014.

He showed a coin from the reign of Tsar Ivan Alexander of 1343, which he said indicates that at the time there was a Bulgarian military campaign in the Eastern Rhodopes, aimed at taking back lost lands. Read more.

Sophisticated ocean going canoes and favorable winds may have helped early human settlers colonize New Zealand, a pair of new studies shows.

The remote archipelagos of East Polynesia were among the last habitable places on Earth that humans were able to colonize. In New Zealand, human history only began around 1200-1300, when intrepid voyagers arrived by boat through several journeys over some generations.

A piece of that early heritage was recently revealed on a beach in New Zealand, when a 600-year-old canoe with a turtle carved on its hull emerged from a sand dune after a harsh storm. The researchers who examined the shipwreck say the vessel is more impressive than any other canoe previously linked to this period in New Zealand. Read more.

The UK’s Northampton Museum could face new harsh sanctions for the sale of the ancient Egyptian Sekhemka statue. Sanctions include possible suspension of member status in the UK’s largest museum organisation, the British Museum Association.

The British Museum’s Association will hold a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday to decide on the possible actions against the Northampton Borough Council (NBC) which sold the statue on 10 July.

The 4,500-year-old, painted limestone statue was sold to a private buyer at Christie’s in London for £15.8m (about LE183.6 million). Read more.

What can DNA from the skeleton of a man who lived 2,330 years ago in the southernmost tip of Africa tell us about ourselves as humans? A great deal when his DNA profile is one of the ‘earliest diverged’ – oldest in genetic terms – found to-date in a region where modern humans are believed to have originated roughly 200,000 years ago.

The man’s maternal DNA, or ‘mitochondrial DNA’, was sequenced to provide clues to early modern human prehistory and evolution. Mitochondrial DNA provided the first evidence that we all come from Africa, and helps us map a figurative genetic tree, all branches deriving from a common ‘Mitochondrial Eve’.

When archaeologist Professor Andrew Smith from the University of Cape Town discovered the skeleton at St. Helena Bay in 2010, very close to the site where 117,000 year old human footprints had been found – dubbed “Eve’s footprints” – he contacted Professor Vanessa Hayes, a world-renowned expert in African genomes. Read more.

Archaeologists exploring the high desert of northern Arizona have found a pair of “matching” villages that date back some 1,300 years, revealing evidence of a crucial phase in Southwestern prehistory.

Researchers found the two large settlements — about a kilometer apart from each other — while surveying ranch land recently acquired by Petrified Forest National Park.

For the past two summers, park archaeologist William Reitze and his colleagues have been exploring the new lands to see what clues they hold about the distant past.

Last year, among some grass-covered sand dunes, they found traces of a large settlement, with 50 to 75 structures ranging in size from storage cists to pithouses. Read more.

A place where people performed rituals more than four thousand years ago has been discovered by archaeologists in Supraśl (Podlaskie). The closest analogies to discovered fragments of ceramic vessels originate from the Iberian Peninsula, told PAP Dariusz Manasterski, one of the leaders of the excavation.

The discovery was made on a sands and gravels elevation covered with oaks, formed as a result of a moving glacier. Dr. Włodzimierz Kwiatkowski of the Knyszyń Forest Landscape Park suggested that in terms of the environment and vegetation, the area looked similar at the time of the creation of the ritual place.

At the highest point of the elevation, archaeologists stumbled upon fragments of cups and bowls, belonging to the Bell Beaker community, named after the culture’s distinctive pottery drinking vessels that resemble inverted bells. Read more.

Human remains, a section of a wall and a “large assemblage” of medieval material have been found at the headquarters of a 13th century Dominican friary destroyed in Stirling during the Reformation in 1559.

Archaeologists say it is unclear if the skeletal parts of the individual, discovered opposite Stirling Railway Station, date from the foundation of the nearby medieval friary, in 1233, or several centuries later.

"This is an exciting and totally fascinating find,” said Murray Cook, the Archaeologist for Stirling Council.

“For Stirling, this is the first time that a medieval site has been subject to modern excavation on this scale. Read more.

An ancient Egyptian mummy is sparking new questions among archaeologists, because it has one very rare feature: The blood vessels surrounding the mummy’s brain left imprints on the inside of the skull.

The researchers are trying to find what process could have led to the preservation of these extremely fragile structures.

The mummified body is that of a man who probably lived more than 2,000 years ago, sometime between the Late Period and the Ptolemaic Period (550 – 150 B.C.) of Egyptian history, the researchers said.

"This is the oldest case of mummified vascular prints" that has been found, study co-author Dr. Albert Isidro told Livescience in an email. Read more.