A dozen of the world’s earliest known masks have been brought together for the first time for an exhibition at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The rare stone artifacts were sculpted by early farmers whose immediate ancestors had given up hunting and gathering and settled in the Judean Hills, the location of the modern city of Jerusalem, and in the fringes of the nearby Judean Desert.
That momentous change in lifestyle, along with the first stirrings of organized religion, may have prompted the farmers to create the stark stone images for their cult rituals.
Debby Hershman, curator of the museum’s Prehistoric Cultures Department, has spent the last decade conducting the first comprehensive study of the 15 known stone masks from the Neolithic era—those on exhibit plus three others. “Many of them look like dead people,” she says. “In fact, I think they’re portraits of specific people—probably important ancestors.” Read more.
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Archaeologists are excited about rock at the Mission of Nombre de Dios is St. Augustine.
They’re working on a dig to know more about what is believed to be the first stone church in St. Augustine and possibly in Florida.
Just feet away from the Great Cross in St. Augustine, stone foundations of walls are visible on the dig site.
The church was built in 1677 by the Spanish. No one really knows what it looked like.
Linda Chandler, a University of Florida Archaeology Tech, explained all the excitement boils down to construction materials. Read more.
Scientists have unearthed and dated some of the oldest stone hand axes on Earth. The ancient tools, unearthed in Ethiopia in the last two decades, date to 1.75 million years ago.
The tools roughly coincided with the emergence of an ancient human ancestor called Homo erectus, and fossilized H. erectus remains were also found at the same site, said study author Yonas Beyene, an archaeologist at the Association for Research and Conservation of Culture in Ethiopia. Collectively, the finding suggests an ancient tool-making technique may have arisen with the evolution of the new species.
"This discovery shows that the technology began with the appearance of Homo erectus," Beyene told LiveScience. "We think it might be related to the change of species." Read more.
ScienceDaily (Nov. 6, 2012) — Jewelry and female figurines from Belica, Serbia, to be exhibited for the first time at Tübingen University Museum.
Archeologists from the University of Tübingen’s Institute of Prehistory are working with the Serbian Archaeological Institute in Belgrade to analyze the most comprehensive Early Neolithic hoard ever found. Work on the nearly 8000 year old collection of jewelry and figurines is funded by the Thyssen Foundation.
The unique hoard is composed of some 80 objects made of stone, clay and bone. “This collection from Belica, in all its completeness, provides a unique glimpse into the symbols of the earliest farmers and herdsmen in Europe,” says Tübingen archaeologist Dr. Raiko Krauss, who heads the German side of the project. Read more.
Students of Department of Epigraphy and Archaeology of Tamil University here have discovered an important hero stone, a stone commemorating a heroic act, with Tamil-Brahmi (Tamizhi) inscription near Pudukottai. The discovery is considered to be significant in the history of early Tamil epigraphical research.
T. Thangadurai, S. Pandyan and A. Moses, research students of the Department of Epigraphy and Archaeology, found the stone slab at Porpanaikottai near Pudukottai during fieldwork last week.
The stone, lying near a pond close to the village, was being used by people for washing clothes. The triangular stone, measuring about 60 cm x 60 cm in area, is 10-cm thick. The stone has a five-line inscription written in Tamil using Tamil-Brahmi characters of circa 2 century Christian Era. Read more.
Australian researchers have discovered a 17th-century postal system made of dozens of stone inscriptions on the island of Madagascar.
Carved between 1601 and 1657 by sailors aboard Dutch East India Company ships on their way to the East Indies, the stones often featured letters placed at their base. The missives, carefully wrapped in layers of canvas, tar and lead envelopes, were left for other ships to pick up.
"The idea was that the crew of the next Dutch ship to anchor in that same place would pen down the message on the rock and collect the letters," Wendy van Duivenvoorde, a lecturer in maritime archaeology at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, told Discovery News.
"Basically it was like an early postal system," she said. Read more.
A stone discovered by chance on the Isle of Canna is Scotland’s first known example of a bullaun “cursing stone”, experts have revealed.
Dating from about 800 AD, the stones are associated with early Christian crosses - of which there is one on the isle.
It was found in an old graveyard by a National Trust for Scotland (NTS) farm manager.
The stone is about 25cm in diameter and engraved with an early Christian cross.
It was later found to fit exactly into a large rectangular stone with a worn hole which was located at the base of the Canna cross.
NTS manager of Canna, Stewart Connor, said the importance of the stone became clear after he was notified of the discovery.
He said: “We knew of the importance of bullaun stones and that it could be a really significant find. Read more.
The Liuhuaishan site is an important early Paleolithic site found in the Bose Basin. In December 2008, Scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Youjiang Museum for Nationalities, Bose, carried out a short survey around this site and found three new Paleolithic localities with a collection of 37 stone artifacts. This new finds will help better understand the human behavior at open-air sites in south China, researchers reported in the latest issue of Acta Anthropologica Sinica 2012 (2).
The stone artifact assemblage included cores, flakes, chunks, choppers and chopping tools, and picks, which were mainly made of quartzite, silicarenite and siltstone. The size of all artifacts was large and most of the tools were retouched on pebbles. The characteristics of these stone artifacts showed very strong ties with the pebble tool tradition of south China. Read more.