ScienceDaily — University of Cincinnati research is revealing early farming in a former wetlands region that was largely cut off from Western researchers until recently. The UC collaboration with the Southern Albania Neolithic Archaeological Project (SANAP) will be presented April 20 at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA).
Susan Allen, a professor in the UC Department of Anthropology who co-directs SANAP, says she and co-director Ilirjan Gjipali of the Albanian Institute of Archaeology created the project in order to address a gap not only in Albanian archaeology, but in the archaeology in Eastern Europe as a whole, by focusing attention on the initial transition to farming in the region.
“For Albania, there has been a significant gap in documenting the Early Neolithic (EN), the earliest phase of farming in the region,” explains Allen. Read more.
Archaeologists believe they have uncovered the remains of the earliest stringed instrument to be found so far in western Europe.
The small burnt and broken piece of carved piece of wood was found during an excavation in a cave on Skye.
Archaeologists said it was likely to be part of the bridge of a lyre dating to more than 2,300 years ago.
Music archaeologist Dr Graeme Lawson said the discovery marked a “step change” in music history.
The Cambridge-based expert said: “It pushes the history of complex music back more than a thousand years, into our darkest pre-history.
“And not only the history of music but more specifically of song and poetry, because that’s what such instruments were very often used for.
“The earliest known lyres date from about 5,000 years ago, in what is now Iraq, and these were already complicated and finely-made structures. Read more.
Scientists already know from genetic evidence that human populations of Africa and Europe mixed in ancient times, from the days of the Roman Empire through to the slave trade of the colonial period. But evidence of any mixing prior to that has been comparatively less abundant. Now, researchers conclude from a recently completed study (published online on March 27, 2012 in Genome Research) that genetic material was exchanged between Europe and Africa as far back as 11,000 years ago, or more.
“It was very surprising to find that more than 35 percent of the sub-Saharan lineages in Europe arrived during a period that ranged from more than 11,000 years ago to the Roman Empire times,” said senior study author Dr. Antonio Salas of the University of Santiago de Compostela. The other 65% of European lineages showing African lineage represent population groups that arrived more recently.
The researchers analyzed and compared mtDNA genome sequences from different regions of Europe with that of other groups around the world. During this process they analyzed the mtDNA genomes of “haplogroup L”, (a lineage of sub-Saharan African origin) in Europe. Read more.
ScienceDaily — If you wanted to get ahead in Iron-Age Central Europe you would use a strategy that still works today — dress to impress and throw parties with free alcohol.
Pre-Roman Celtic people practiced what archaeologist Bettina Arnold calls “competitive feasting,” in which people vying for social and political status tried to outdo one another through power partying.
Artifacts recovered from two 2,600-year-old Celtic burial mounds in southwest Germany, including items for personal adornment and vessels for alcohol, offer a glimpse of how these people lived in a time before written records were kept.
That was the aim of the more than 10-year research project, says Arnold, anthropology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and co-director of a field excavation at the Heuneburg hillfort in German state of Baden-Wurttemberg. The work was partially funded by the National Geographic Society and Arnold collaborated with the State Monuments Office in Tübingen, Germany. Read more.
The processes behind building the oldest boat ever found in Western Europe will be investigated by a team of modern- day maritime experts.
Archaeologists from the University of Exeter will lead the project at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth as they attempt to rebuild a sewn-plank boat, examples of which date to around 2000 BC. The Bronze Age vessels, which measured up to 16 metres in length, are thought to have been unique to England and Wales.
“Because none of the boats have ever been found as complete boats, this project will seek to understand how they were constructed, how to steer such a long boat, measure how fast it can go, understand how the crew used paddles, as sails were not evident, and how watertight it is,” said Professor Robert Van de Noort, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter.
The hulls of these prehistoric boats were made by stitching together planks of wood using fibres from yew trees because nails had yet to be invented. Read more.
Skeletons don’t lie. But sometimes they can mislead, as in the case of bones that reputedly showed evidence of syphilis in Europe and other parts of the Old World before Christopher Columbus made his historic voyage in 1492.
None of this skeletal evidence, including 54 previously published reports, holds up when subjected to standardised analyses for both diagnosis and dating, according to an new appraisal in the current Yearbook of Physical Anthropology. In fact, the skeletal data strengthens the case that syphilis did not exist in Europe before Columbus set sail.
“This is the first time that all 54 of these cases have been evaluated systematically,” says George Armelagos, an anthropologist at Emory University and co-author of the appraisal. “The evidence keeps accumulating that a progenitor of syphilis came from the New World with Columbus’ crew and rapidly evolved into the venereal disease that remains with us today.” Read more.
Competitive board games — played on the ground, on the floor, or on boards — emerged as pastimes for the elite, with the Roman Empire spreading their popularity throughout Europe, according to a new study.
The study, published in the journal Antiquity, mentions that board games likely originated and disseminated from Egypt and the Fertile Crescent regions at around 3500 B.C. From there, they spread around the Mediterranean before reaching the Roman Empire and what is now Europe.
Based on the archaeological record, board games didn’t even reach Britain until the very end of the 1st century B.C. from newly conquered Gaul. At the time, Gaul was a region encompassing present-day France, Belgium, most of Switzerland and other areas.
Not just anyone could play board games then either. Read more.
The Sicevo Gorge is a rugged, picturesque river canyon cut into the Kunivica plateau in southeastern Serbia. Containing a nature park, it draws visitors for its beautiful landscape, the result of the occurrence and interaction of geological, geomorphological and hydrological phenomena. But it also contains a series of caves, at least one of which has yielded evidence of human presence during the shifting glacial times of the Ice Age of present-day Europe. The Gorge was placed on the map of popular attention when, in 2008, anthropologists uncovered a partial human mandible (lower jaw), complete with three teeth, while excavating in a small cave.
“We were looking for Neanderthals,” said Dr. Mirjana Roksandic, a participating paleoanthropologist with the University of Winnepeg and a leading research team member. “But this is much better.”
What they discovered was a fossil specimen, definitely a human that, at least in terms of morphology, predated the Neanderthal and may have had more in common, physically, with Homo erectus, thought by many scientists to be the precursor to Neanderthals and Homo sapiens (modern humans). Read more.