Archaeology news

Ancient Wall

http://news.yahoo.com March 22nd ... a source in Greece has announced the discovery of a wall which stood at the entrance to a cave in Thessaly dating back some 23,000 years ago - at the height of the last glacial maximum.

Maya Dynasty

The Times March 20th ... see Register: Archaeology. The Journal of Anthropological Archaeology reports that scientific analysis has shown one of the Maya kings was an outsider. He came and conquered the city of Copan in the 5th century AD - founding a new dynasty that lasted for a further 400 years. The dates here are very interesting, as they coincide with blips in climate - usually manifested by drought in the Maya lands as a result of shifting monsoon patterns of rainfall.

Vikings and Celtic peoples

The Copenhagen Post March 19th (www.cphpost.dk/news/ reports on a Danish analysis of DNA from a Viking cemetery near a 1000 year old church in southern Greenland that shows a strong Celtic bloodline, according to science website www.videnskab.dk . The settlers were Nordic but they had mixed origins - or genes. These were Scandinavian and Celtic (from Britain and Ireland). The colonies in Greenland were first established in AD985 and the skeletons under study date from shortly afterwards.

Boat Mummies

This subject comes up on a regular basis but research by Chinese archaeologists have clarified some issues - but introduced other ideas. The New York Times (see www.nytimes.com March 17th) which begins by describing the location of the dessicated corpses (rather than real mummies) in a desert to the north of Tibet, and tells us that Chinese archaeologists have excavated an extraordinary cemetery - first excavated by Scandinavians some 50 years or so ago and off-limits to westerners for most of the time since then.

The Druid's Arms

www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/Finding-stones-near-Bristol-place-history/article ... Stanton Drew stone circle may be much older than previously thought due to the discovery of new evidence by amateur archaeologists from a local society, Bath and Camerton. It seems that long before the stone circle was erected around 2500BC there was a long barrow on the site - it's remains are now known as the Cove, three standing stones nestled at the back of the Druid's Arms pub car park.

Horticulture and Agriculture

There is another consensus model under attack. This time the oft repeated claim that plant cultivation made a sudden appearance in the Near East around 10,000 years ago and spread rapidly into Anatolia, the Balkans, through the Mediterranean and across central Europe (in one direction) and into the Indian sub-continent in the other. The spread of farmers into these regions is often integrated with the theory of the spread of language - in both directions. It also affects the way that human genes are being interpreted - in Europe for example.

Tasmanian Aborigines

Various  web sites are mentioning the discovery of a meeting ground for Aborigines in Tasmania which is reputed to be 40,000 years of age, such as Discovery News 11th March (see http://news.discovery.com/archaeology/australia-aborigines-tribe.htm ) which is written in US 'politically correct' speak. Roadworks in Tasmania cut into the meeting ground and an absolutely massive site has been unearthed - but only partially.

The edge of the Trowel

The April issue of Current Archaeology had a feature, 'From the Trowels Edge' where news editor Chris Catling mentions attending a meeting of The Society of Antiquaries that included a talk on the life of the archaeologist, Jacquetta Hawkes. Geoff Wainwright, chairman of the society, shed some light on modern archaeological group-think. He revealed that Hawkes, like himself, had no time for numerologists and measurements such as the Megalithic Yard - or any interest in a hypothetical prehistoric calendar.

'Current Archaeology' - April 2010

Paul and Barbara Brown have discovered, recorded and published hundreds of marked rock faces in northern Britain. The latest example comes from Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Stone number 1594 in their collection is a wedge shaped sandstone boulder with 81 cups, 16 of them surrounded by single rings and one with three rings, all incorporated within a sea (or sky?) of shallow 'pecked' grooves. It doesn't seem to have any connection with plasma or aurorae but the ring as a shape was of course reproduced in henges and stone circles, and round barrows.

Stonehenge Queries

In Current Archaeology 241 April 2010, the 'News' section has a short piece on Stonehenge and the most recent discoveries, shallow banks and depressions within the henge earthwork. These may lead to a radical reappraisal of the site. For instance, one low bank has been dubbed the 'north barrow' as it appears to actually underlie in part the enclosing bank and ditch. That would mean it was the earliest earthwork on the site.