Archaeology news

Hoard of Roman Coins in a field in Somerset

Some 52,500 bronze and silver coins dating from the 3rd century AD have been  found by a hobby metal detectorist in a field near Frome in the West Country. It is the largest single hoard ever found in Britain - and they all date between 253-293AD. A Roman road ran nearby but there is no trace, as yet, of a villa or settlement, so it is a bit puzzling. Archaeologists said that hoards are usually buried at times of invasion and civil unrest - the Irish and Saxon raids of the 5th century might be a more fitting time.

An Armenian Genesis

A bit of nationalism and wishful thinking is apparent in this story from where it claims Mesopotamian civilisation originated in Armenia. It does however probably provide a clue to the direction from which came the Jemdat Nasr people that invaded Sumeria around 3200BC. As for the Sumerians themselves, who arrived somewhat earlier, they remain a mystery - unless you adher to the David Rohl version of events.

stone age amputation July 5th ... stone age surgeons (4900BC) in France performed an amputation operation on a man whose skeleton was found 40km south of Paris with grave goods suggesting he was an important member of the community. According to the Daily Mail he was probably given pain killing plants such as hallucinogenics, when the knife cut flesh.

Na Dene and Ket

This is probably an old story but it pops up at - researchers at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks claim there is an ancient language link between people of northern Siberia, namely the Ket, and possibly other small tribes of the Yenisei Valley, and North America, a discovery that has been endorsed by linguistic scholars.

Greek Fire June 28th ... Greek inventor Archimedes is said to have used mirrors to burn the ships of an attacking Roman fleet advancing on Syracuse. The story comes from the medieval period and appears to be an attempt, at that time, to try and understand what Archimedes did. New research has suggested he may have used steam cannons and fiery cannonballs, instead of mirrors (a process that is too slow). The battle took place between 214 and 212BC but no contemporary Greek or Roman source mentions a device involving mirrors.

exhibition in Oxford

There is an exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford on 'The Lost World of Old Europe' - basically, Europe between 6000 and 3000BC, the Climatic Optimum (or a period of history sandwiched between two events). Various objects from the Danube civilisation and the Balkans will be on display, including from the Varna civilisation. There is evidence of widespread trade from northern France, Germany and Denmark, across central and eastern Europe into South Russia, and the artifacts reflect this situation. Exhibition from now until August 15th.

Atlatl Dart recovered from melting glacier

This story is interesting as it involves melting mountain glaciers - alleged to be the result of global warming. A new field of archaeological investigation has developed over the last 8 years or so as it was realised some well preserved artifacts were being uncovered by melting ice - not just in North America, as in this instance, but in the Alps and other locations. It is a well established fact that some mountain glaciers melt on a regular basis.

Peopling North America

From the nature of the title it is obvious this is a study with a focus on North America - and basically, it has been found that mtDNA amongst Native Americans is more varied than earlier studies claimed. It also adhers to the favoured North American position on the date of entry (from Beringia), between 18 and 15,000 years ago (at the end of the Ice Age). This heavily loaded statement, the consensus opinion, is an influence on the arguments made - so one has to read between the lines.

Egypt's Pre-dynastic

At there is a report of a plan by Zahi Hawass to introduce museums that specialise - including one housing artifacts of the Pre-dynastic period which he intends to establish at Qena. The Pre-dynastic phase represent the period preceding unification. Neolithic people appeared around 5000BC, the general date, replacing earlier hunter-gatherer socieities on the Nile river terraces.

Ice Age face reconstruction

Excellent but long article on Ice Age Homo sapiens and Neanderthal interaction prompted by a Russian restoration of the facial features of a 30,000 years old skull (see It appears the mtDNA of the Ice Age man still survives in modern European populations - but there is the usual recital of the consensus theory concerning the origins and spread of humans and assumptions on migration routes based on the Ice Age theory of a c