Saturday, September 3, 2011

Archaeology in Europe

Archaeology in Europe

500 years ago, yeast's epic journey gave rise to lager beer

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 10:42 AM PDT

In the 15th century, when Europeans first began moving people and goods across the Atlantic, a microscopic stowaway somehow made its way to the caves and monasteries of Bavaria.

The stowaway, a yeast that may have been transported from a distant shore on a piece of wood or in the stomach of a fruit fly, was destined for great things. In the dank caves and monastery cellars where 15th century brewmeisters stored their product, the newly arrived yeast fused with a distant relative, the domesticated yeast used for millennia to make leavened bread and ferment wine and ale. The resulting hybrid - representing a marriage of species as evolutionarily separated as humans and chickens - would give us lager, the clear, cold-fermented beer first brewed by 15th century Bavarians and that today is among the most popular - if not the most popular - alcoholic beverage in the world.

And while scientists and brewers have long known that the yeast that gives beer the capacity to ferment at cold temperatures was a hybrid, only one player was known: Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the yeast used to make leavened bread and ferment wine and ale. Its partner, which conferred on beer the ability to ferment in the cold, remained a puzzle, as scientists were unable to find it among the 1,000 or so species of yeast known to science.

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Roman Remains Found at Charles Street, Dorchester

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 10:36 AM PDT

Wessex Archaeology has just completed a four week excavation within the southern part of the Charles Street Development in Dorchester. Neil Holbrook, of Cotswold Archaeology has been acting as archaeological consultant on behalf of the developers, Simons Developments and WDDC. A watching brief is currently being maintained on groundwork being undertaken by Cowlin Construction and their subcontractors associated with the construction of West Dorset District Council's new offices, library and adult learning centre.

As the site occupies an area near to the southern edge of the Roman town of Durnovaria it was predicted evidence of Roman town life would be uncovered during the works. The prediction proved correct; immediately below the modern overburden, the remains of Roman houses were uncovered.

These buildings were built around 100AD and were orientated according to the town's street plan, which it has been possible to map using evidence from other excavations in Dorchester.

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Ancient Gold Necklace Found in West Fjords

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 10:33 AM PDT

Archeologists and university students recently discovered an ancient gold necklace during an excavation project in Vatnsfjördur in Ísafjardardjúp in the West Fjords, which has been ongoing for the past eight summers.

Scientists from different fields participate in the project, along with international university students, reports.

Vatnsfjördur was settled early in the Settlement Era, which sources state began in the 9th century AD, and later became the site of a manor and a chieftain's residence.

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Archaeologists uncover amphitheatre used to train gladiators near Vienna

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 10:31 AM PDT

The ruins are a 'sensational discovery' with a structure to rival the Colosseum in Rome, archaeologists say

Archaeologists say they have located and excavated the ruins of a huge amphitheatre used to train gladiators east of Vienna, describing it as a "sensational discovery".

They claim that the ruins found through ground radar measurements rival the Colosseum and the Ludus Magnus in Rome in their structure. The Ludus Magnus is the largest of the gladiatorial arenas in the Italian capital, while the Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Roman empire.

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Iron age hill fort excavation reveals 'possible suburbia'

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 10:28 AM PDT

Size of settlement suggests Ham Hill site was a town rather than a defensive structure, archaeologists believe

The most intensive investigation ever undertaken of Britain's largest iron age hill fort is expected to reveal new details of how Britons lived 2,000 years ago – and maybe even that they were almost as suburban as we are.

Stretching across 80 hilltop hectares, behind three miles of ramparts, the fort, at Ham Hill in Somerset, and the outline of its history have been known for many years.

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Bronze Age excavation project begins in Cornwall

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 10:25 AM PDT

A 10-day excavation project at a Bronze Age site in Cornwall has begun.

Organisers hope they will find more information on a settlement at the site near Lanyon.

Previous excavations have revealed Middle Bronze Age and Iron Age artefacts, said archaeologist, Dr Andy Jones.

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Tomb found at Stonehenge quarry site

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 10:23 AM PDT

The tomb for the original builders of Stonehenge could have been unearthed by an excavation at a site in Wales.

The Carn Menyn site in the Preseli Hills is where the bluestones used to construct the first stone phase of the henge were quarried in 2300BC.

Organic material from the site will be radiocarbon dated, but it is thought any remains have already been removed.

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Stone tools shed light on early human migrations

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 10:21 AM PDT

Hominins with different tool-making technologies coexisted.

The discovery of stone axes in the same sediment layer as cruder tools indicates that hominins with differing tool-making technologies may have coexisted.

The axes, found in Kenya by Christopher Lepre, a palaeontologist at Columbia University in New York, and his team are estimated to be around 1.76 million years old. That's 350,000 years older than any other complex tools yet discovered.

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Conditions in Nelson's navy uncovered by scientists

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 10:15 AM PDT

Sailors in Admiral Nelson's navy were plagued by scurvy, ridden with syphilis and often mutilated by amputations but only a minority were from lowest social class, Oxford University archaeologists have found.

An examination of 340 skeletons from three 18th and 19th century Royal Navy graveyards found that a "surprisingly high" proportion suffered from scurvy and infected wounds.

The bones, excavated from sites in Greenwich, Gosport and Plymouth, also found that more than six per cent of sailors in Nelson's navy, were amputees, many of whom died as a result of operations that went wrong.

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