The first known masks are Halloween-like stone portraits of the dead, according to an upcoming exhibition at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
The exhibit, called Face to Face: The Oldest Masks in the World, reveals for the first time 12 Neolithic masks featuring wide toothy smiles and large eyes.
According to the curators, who set up the display after 10 years of investigative work, the eerie stone portraits were carved out of limestone some 9,000 years ago by Stone Age people who were among the first to abandon nomadic life.
Analysis into the type of stone revealed the masks came from the Judean Hills and nearby Judean desert in Israel. Read more.
CARLISLE’S Tullie House museum has been donated two very rare Neolithic wooden tridents by Cumbria County Council and is putting them on display for the public to give their theories on what they were used for.
The two tridents were discovered during the archaeological excavations prior to the construction of the Carlisle Northern Development Route (CNDR), and add to the mystery surrounding identical finds in Cumbria and Northern Ireland around 200 years ago.
Only four other similar tridents exist in the UK and the fact that they have almost identical designs and show a proficiency in woodworking suggests they were made for an accepted purpose. But experts are unsure what that was, with theories including fishing, hunting or agricultural use. Read more.
Excavations in 1986 and 1987 at the early Neolithic site of Jiahu, located in Henan Province, Northern China, yielded six complete bone flutes as well as fragments of approximately 30 others.
Tonal analysis of the Neolithic flutes revealed that the seven holes they contain corresponded to a scale remarkably similar to the eight-note scale of “do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do“. This carefully-selected tone scale suggested to the researchers that the musician of the seventh millennium BCE could play music and not just single notes.
The exquisitely-crafted flutes are all made from the ulnae or wing bones of the red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis Millen). The best-preserved flute has actually been played and this presented a rare opportunity to hear musical sounds from nine millennia ago. Read more.
HEFEI — Archaeologists said a Neolithic Chinese city was excavated on Wednesday in east China’s Anhui Province.
Part of a trapezoidal city wall and moat from the 4,500-year-old Nanchengzi Ruins in Guzhen County have been uncovered, along with a great number of houses, according to archaeologists from Wuhan University.
The archaeology team has also unearthed items from the Neolithic Age to the Han Dynasty, which dates back about 2,000 years. The items include deer heads and antlers, tortoise shell, and wheat and rice seeds. Read more.
An archaeology team led by an academic from London’s Kingston University has delved back into a Neolithic site at Damerham, Hampshire, and uncovered a sink hole of material that may hold vital information about the plant species that thrived there 6,000 years ago.
Dr Helen Wickstead said the find was completely unexpected and had initially confused the team digging on the farmland. This is the sixth year of the project at Damerham, located about 15 miles from the iconic British monument Stonehenge, with four areas of a temple complex excavated during the summer. The surprise came in the largest of the openings, approximately 40 metres long, where careful extractions revealed a layer of uncharacteristic orange sand and clay. Typically the archaeological survey would involve mapping and cataloguing such finds as bone, pottery and tool-making waste fragments. Read more.
A new study reported in the journal Nature Communications provides the first multi-disciplinary evidence that humans in what is now China first domesticated cattle around 8,000 BC, around the same time cattle domestication took place in the Near East.
Until now, scientists believed that humans started domesticating cattle around 10,000 years ago in the Near East, which gave rise to humpless cattle, while 2,000 years later humans began managing humped cattle in Southern Asia.
However, scientists from China and Europe reveal evidence for management of cattle in north-eastern China around 10,000 years ago. Read more.
An ancient relic that shines a light on Neolithic life has been discovered on a picturesque reserve in Highland Perthshire.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust made the exciting archaeological discovery while repairing a wall in Balnaguard Glen. Volunteers were working on field walls on the hillside when they noticed one of the wall stones was shaped like a shallow basin.
It has since been identified as a possible Neolithic quern stone — potentially more than 6,000 years old — with its shape created by years of rubbing grain with a heavy stone to make flour.
The conservation charity believes the find is good evidence that people once lived and farmed on the hill. Read more.
ISLANDS perhaps better known for their Bronze Age relics are revealing traces of an earlier civilisation.
A settlement being unearthed on St Martin’s represents “the most promising neolithic site in Scilly”, according to Dr Duncan Garrow of Liverpool University, a specialist in the prehistory of North- West Europe.
Along with maritime archaeologist Dr Fraser Sturt of Southampton University and a ten-strong team, supplemented by locals, he is exploring how Neolithic man arrived on the islands some 5,000 to 6,000 years ago.
After identifying a possible Mesolithic or Neolithic occupation site at St Martin’s Old Quay last year, based on finds of pottery and flint tools, Dr Garrow is now conducting a dig in the area, and called it the most promising site in Scilly. Read more.