Centuries before the first massive sarsen stone was hauled into place at Stonehenge, the world’s most famous prehistoric monument may have begun life as a giant burial ground, according to a theory disclosed on Saturday.
More than 50,000 cremated bone fragments, of 63 individuals buried at Stonehenge, have been excavated and studied for the first time by a team led by archaeologist Professor Mike Parker Pearson, who has been working at the site and on nearby monuments for decades. He now believes the earliest burials long predate the monument in its current form.
The first bluestones, the smaller standing stones, were brought from Wales and placed as grave markers around 3,000BC, and it remained a giant circular graveyard for at least 200 years, with sporadic burials after that, he claims. Read more.
The Mold Gold Cape will go on loan from the British Museum for public display in Wales this summer. In partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives, this will be the third time the cape will have been displayed in Cardiff and will go on to be shown in Wrexham, not far from where it was found. The Cape will be on display for free at both venues as part of the Spotlight Tours organised through the British Museum’s Partnership UK Scheme.
The Mold Cape is a unique ceremonial gold cape and made around 3,700 years ago, during the Early Bronze Age. A highlight exhibit at the British Museum, the cape will be shown at National Museum Cardiff 2 July to 4 August and then Wrexham County Borough Museum, 7 August to 14 September 2013.
The cape is one of the finest examples of prehistoric sheet and embossed-gold working in Europe. Skillfully and carefully fashioned from a single sheet of thin gold, it is unique in design. Read more.
Archaeologists from the University of Southampton studying a Neolithic archaeological site in central Greece have helped unearth over 300 clay figurines, one of the highest density for such finds in south-eastern Europe.
The Southampton team, working in collaboration with the Greek Archaeological Service and the British School at Athens, is studying the site of Koutroulou Magoula near the Greek village of Neo Monastiri, around 160 miles from Athens.
Koutroulou Magoula was occupied during the Middle Neolithic period (c. 5800 - 5300 BC) by a community of a few hundred people who made architecturally sophisticated houses from stone and mud-bricks. The figurines were found all over the site, with some located on wall foundations. Read more.
While it is a painful truism that brutality and violence are at least as old as humanity, so, it seems, is caring for the sick and disabled. And some archaeologists are suggesting a closer, more systematic look at how prehistoric people — who may have left only their bones — treated illness, injury and incapacitation. Call it the archaeology of health care.
The case that led Lorna Tilley and Marc Oxenham of Australian National University in Canberra to this idea is that of a profoundly ill young man who lived 4,000 years ago in what is now northern Vietnam and was buried, as were others in his culture, at a site known as Man Bac.
Almost all the other skeletons at the site, south of Hanoi and about 15 miles from the coast, lie straight. Burial 9, as both the remains and the once living person are known, was laid to rest curled in the fetal position. Read more.
The first unequivocal evidence that humans in prehistoric Northern Europe made cheese more than 7,000 years ago is described in research by an international team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, UK, published today in Nature.
By analyzing fatty acids extracted from unglazed pottery pierced with small holes excavated from archaeological sites in Poland, the researchers showed that dairy products were processed in these ceramic vessels. Furthermore, the typology of the sieves, close in shape to modern cheese-strainers, provides compelling evidence that these specialized vessels have been used for cheese-making.
Before this study, milk residues had been detected in early sites in Northwestern Anatolia (8,000 years ago) and in Libya (nearly 7,000 years ago). Nevertheless, it had been impossible to detect if the milk was processed to cheese products. Read more.
Prehistoric artists were better at portraying the walk of four-legged animals in their art than modern man, according to new research published December 5 in the open access journal PLoS ONE by Gabor Horvath and colleagues from Eotvos University (Budapest), Hungary.
Most quadrupeds have a similar sequence in which they move each limb as they walk, trot or run, and this sequence was studied and outlined in the early 1880s by Eadweard Muybridge. The authors examined prehistoric and modern artwork ranging from cave paintings of cows and elephants to statues and paintings of horses, elephants and other quadrupeds in motion to see how well these artistic depictions matched the scientific observations of animal motion. Read more.
US scientists say they can track early human movements by analyzing molecules in ancient fecal matter.
Researchers were able to use prehistoric poo to establish the presence and size of a population dating back over 7,000 years.
They argue the method could be used to distinguish human from natural impacts on past environments.
Details have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The presence of charcoal from human fires and pollen from cultivated plants have long been used as biological markers of human activity. Often found in lake bed sediments that have been built up over thousands of years, they provide at best a rough guide to the presence of humans. Read more.
Archaeologists in Bapska, eastern Croatia have stumbled across 6,500 year old deer antlers. The hunting trophy was found hanging on the wall of prehistoric house along with valuable items of jewellery, writes website dalje.com.
“We have the oldest deer hunting trophy in Croatia,” said Marcel Buric, the head researcher at the Department of Prehistoric Archaeology of the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb.
According to Buric, local hunters from Bapska have estimated that the deer, where the antlers trophy has come from, would have weighed between 220 and 250 kilograms and would have been extremely strong due to its 12 antlers.
“It was in prehistoric times and would have needed real skill to catch such an animal, and with only stones as weapons. It is a known fact that deers are fast animals,” concluded Buric. (source)