Archaeology news


In World Current Archaeology 81 (February 2017) ( ), the News section, there is half a page on smallpox - when did the virus reach Europe. It seems that it may not have made the leap from animal to human that long ago. According to previous studies on ancient disease it has been assumed smallpox has been around for a long time - and entered Europe in the Roman period as a result of contact with more exotic climes. It is even thought Ramses V of dynasty 20 died from smallpox towards the end of the Late Bronze age in Egypt.

Vitrified Forts

Although there are plenty of examples of vitrified hill forts on the continent this offering is concerned solely with Scotland. They have periodically been of interest to neo-catastrophists on the basis there is a small chance they may have been vitrified as a result of fire from the sky (whatever that may entail). None of these forays have proved worth pursuing as C14 dates for vitrified forts tend to be all over the place (especially in the first few centuries AD). One can hardly advocate multiple atmospheric air blasts in a well recorded period of history.

Donkey Stables

In a recent screening of Robin Hood on TV (an old film from back in the 1950s or 1960s) they had a podgy Friar Tuck trying to coax a donkey out of a stable - but the donkey was having none of it. He just sat down and refused to budge - even though he was at first encouraged and then berated. The stubborn donkey just would not move. It seems donkeys were a common animal used to carry merchandise and equipment in the ancient world and they also had a better technique in getting them to move. At ...


At ... this concerns the controversial Bluefish Caves in the Yukon where evidence seems to exist to show humans were living in the region 24,000 years ago - at the height of the Late Glacial Maximum.

Iron Age Knossos

nAt ... contrary to what most people think, that Knossos was severely affected by the Thera volcano and limped on towards the end of the Bronze Age, it seems that Knossos did not disappear - but thrived even in the Iron Age (in spite of what might have happened to bring the LB age to an end). It has all the hallmarks of a civilisation reasserting itself after a natural disaster - the nature of which is poorly understood.

Lost Biblical Texts

At ... many scholars think the Bible was consolidated by the end of the 5th century BC but almost no manuscripts from that period survive. Why? The material on which books and documents were written, such as papyrus and leather, are perishable. The same if true of the Phoenicians. They spread the alphabet around the Mediterranean basin yet virtually nothing of their writings has survived. The same goes for the Egyptians. All we have left are hieroglyphs on temples and in tombs.

Newgrange Roof Box

At ... where we are told the roof box or sun trap in the passage tomb of Newgrange may only be 50 or so years old as the tomb was subject to some Ministry of Works restoration, kind of thing. It also goes back to one archaeologist, we are told, who happened to be the tutor of the complainant, Michael Gibbons. Martin Brennan is not mentioned - but you would not expect an archaeologist to mention him in any case.

Walls and Plants

At ... archaeologists from the University of Birmingham and the Egypt Exploration Society, along with Egyptian comrades, have discovered a wall dating back to the Old Kingdom. The wall protects a number of OK tombs - yet to be explored. The tombs are of pharaohs and pharaohs provincial officials, from the MK as well as the OK, and are situated near modern Aswan.

Chinese Flood

At ... we have a story sent in by Gary. Chinese archaeologists begin to excavate a 2600 year old city wiped out by floods in central China. The city began life in 624BC and was overwhelmed by water, muds, and silts in AD742. The ruins are surrounded by a 5 mile long wall, 61 feet in width and 13 feet high. It is hoped it will be a time capsule of the Tang dynasty.

Beaker Folk

It seems the Amesbury Archer may not have hailed from the Alps as the media and archaeologists have been trumpeting for the last few years. According to research on a new project using isotopes, teeth enamel and bone callogen he could have come from Scotland, a sort of prehistoric drover. The Neolithic in Britain, it has been found, was an extremely mobile society, quite unlike the Bronze Age. It seems to have been primarily a pastoral society.