Saturday, November 12, 2011

Archaeology in Europe

Archaeology in Europe

Startling discovery of lost Norman town

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 09:27 AM PST

THE astonishing story of a Norman town lost for centuries is being brought back to life.

Cutting edge LIDAR technology, deployed by armed forces to detect underground bunkers, has uncovered the streets, towns and dwellings of an early Norman settlement known as Newtown just outside Thomastown.

Within 15 miles of Kilkenny, the medieval settlement has been the focus of a recent archaeological dig backed up by the latest technology to tell the story of what has been described as 'Kilkenny's Pompeii.'

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Vikings Navigated With Translucent Crystals?

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 09:24 AM PST

Icelandic spar may have revealed sun's position on cloudy days, study says.

Vikings may have navigated by looking through a type of crystal called Icelandic spar, a new study suggests.

In some Icelandic sagas—embellished stories of Viking life—sailors relied on so-called sunstones to locate the sun's position and steer their ships on cloudy days. (See Iceland photos submitted by readers like you.)

The stone would've worked by detecting a property of sunlight called polarization.

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A question of style: Reading rock art using art history

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 09:23 AM PST

Ancient engravings and drawings are present all around the world. They are witnesses of people's journeys through time and space. While their original meaning is lost, they still tell stories about their creator, about the content, about the climate and the environment of that time.

About rock art

Contrary to common assumptions, rock art is not only restricted to the Ice Age. It is a phenomenon that has survived until today. In northern Europe it mostly appears in the form of graffiti, which can be found nearly everywhere people have passed.

Although the meaning and purpose of today's rock art is most probably different from ancient forms, the methodological approach to their study is similar. Researchers commonly refrain from explaining rock art's meaning, since there is no absolute proof to any given hypotheses.

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New dating of cave site upsets Neanderthal theory

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 09:21 AM PST

Members of our species (Homo sapiens) arrived in Europe several millennia earlier than previously thought. This was the conclusion by a team of researchers, after carrying out a re-analyses of two ancient deciduous teeth.

These teeth were discovered in 1964 in the "Grotta del Cavallo", a cave in southern Italy. Since their discovery they have been attributed to Neanderthals, but this new study suggests they belong to anatomically modern humans. Chronometric analysis, carried out by the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at the University of Oxford, shows that the layers within which the teeth were found date to ~43,000-45,000 cal BP. This means that the human remains are older than any other known European modern humans. The research work was published in the renowned science journal Nature.

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Prehistoric Men Scarred, Pierced, Tattooed Privates

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 09:19 AM PST

Men in prehistoric Europe scarred, pierced and tattooed their penises, likely for ritualistic and social group reasons, according to a new study.

Analysis of phallic decorations in Paleolithic art, described in the December issue of The Journal of Urology, may also show evidence of the world's first known surgery performed on a male genital organ. The alteration, or surgery, might have just been for ornamental purposes, or a piercing, the researchers suggest.

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Ground-breaking technology shows no second chamber at Newgrange

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 09:17 AM PST

The technology used in an attempt to find out whether a second passage tomb, which may also be aligned with a solstice event, exists at Newgrange had proved its worth during experimentation by a Slovakian team of scientists who visited the Boyne Valley, an Irish archaeologist said this week.

Dr Conor Brady, archaeologist and lecturer at Dundalk Institute of Technology, who lives at Slane, said that while there would be no "dramatic announcements" about discovery of a second chamber at Newgrange at this stage, the microgravitational technology used in the experiments had proven valuable to archaeologists and scientists.

The possibility that Newgrange could have a second passage tomb, which may also be aligned with a solstice event, was being explored by a team of Irish and Slovakians archaeologists using ground-breaking technology.

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Who were the 99% of ancient Rome?

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 09:15 AM PST

From Gibbon to "Gladiator," it might seem like we know a lot about Ancient Rome, but our view of this civilization is a skewed one. The Romans lived in one of the most stratified societies in history. Around 1.5% of the population controlled the government, military, economy and religion. Through the writings and possessions they left behind, these rich, upper-class men are also responsible for most of our information about Roman life.

The remaining people – commoners, slaves and others – are largely silent. They could not afford tombstones to record their names, and they were buried with little in the way of fancy pottery or jewellery. Their lives were documented by the elites, but they left few documents of their own.

Now, Kristina Killgrove, an archaeologist from Vanderbilt University, wants to tell their story by sequencing their DNA, and she is raising donations to do it. "Their DNA will tell me where these people, who aren't in histories, were coming from," she says. "They were quite literally the 99% of Rome."

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