Archaeology news


Two articles in Current Biology of October 23rd 2014 both concern Polynesians reaching S America. The first one claims the indigenous Botocundos tribe of Brazil have a genomic history that is Polynesian - see ... and in the second article it is said there was considerable genetic evidence of early contact between Polynesians and the Americas, especially with Easter Island.

The Step Pyramid of Djoser

Laurence Dixon supplied the link to this picture of the Stepped Pyramid which has apparently upset UNESCO. Go to


At ... early Americans were in a remote oasis high in the Andes, 14,000 feet above sea level, as recently as 12,800 years ago. Most of us would not raise an eyebrow over this but apparently archaeologists are surprised by this. Okay, people were on the coast, migrating southwards, reaching the tip of S America as early as 14,500 years ago. What then is so surprising.

Ness of Brodgar and the Big Cow

At ... namely, they have dug up the remains of an aurochs, a prehistoric ancestor of modern cattle which roamed in the wild across Europe.

Meanwhile, in Israel archaeologists have discovered a Canaanite cult centre at Tel Burna - see It is thought to be a cult site dedicated to Baal, or perhaps, Anat. It measures 52 feet by 52 feet and there is evidence of animal sacrifices.


Excellent programme on BBC2 last night, the 15th of October, on the discovery of Heracleion in the delta zone of Egypt, at the head of the Canopic branch. Lots of collapsed Greek style temples and Egyptian inscriptions etc. After an hour we learned that it was an earthquake that may caused the sand and silt of the delta to collapse like quicksand. Other sources on the internet appear to suggest the sheer weight of stone monuments was part of the process - gradually sinking into the soft Nile delta soil.


Current World Archaeology 67 also has an article on the Moche culture of coastal Peru. Interestingly, it mentions a century of climatic and societal turmoil (assumed to involve El Nino swings) between AD550 and 650. This century directly follows on from the low growth tree ring event that Mike Baillie dated to AD536-45. The century also included the beginnings of Islam in Arabia and the swathe of conquests unleashed against the Roman and Persian empires, in crisis.

The femur bone that caused a ripple

In Current World Archaeology 67 (Oct., 2014) - or go to ... there is an article by Tom Higham on Denisova Cave which famously produced the finger bone from which a genome was produced of an entirely new human species. It is located in the remote Altai Mountains at the far side of central Asia. Clearly, it could not have been so remote in the past as it has produced remains of Homo erectus, Denisovans, Neanderthals, and Modern Humans.

Another One Bites the Dust

The consensus turned upside down and a wriggling in the aisles. This time it is the consensus view on how to read ancient stone tools found in sediments such as river gravels and fossil soils. When archaeologists look at stone tools (assuming they are tools rather than bits of fractured and broken stone that look like tools) as used by early Palaeolithic peoples they look at them through the lens of an assumed Darwinian evolution in the technology. This view is fostered at university and in text books and even in examples of tools found in museums, and so on.

Seems like the Late Roman period is alive and kicking

Gunnar Heinsohn has been using his scissors to telescope AD chronology which included axing the Late Roman period (after 250BC) and making the 6th century AD event the same as the 3rd century AD setback which befell the Romans and threatened their frontiers (far and wide). This is said tongue in cheek by the way as Heinsohn's theory appeals to a very small minority.

Vanuatu and Florida

At ... we have Polynesians (the Lapita culture) arriving in Vanuatu around 3000 years ago. Was this migration spurred on by events in the sky - the events that brought Late Bronze civilisation to an end in the Near East, Anatolia, and the Aegean. The thrust of the research in Vanuatu is on the switch towards a diet that relied mostly on cultivated plants such as taro, jams, and bananas.