Archaeology news

Ghana, Carthage, and Tutankhamun

BBC News February 17th ... archaeologists have unearthed dozens of clay figures in Ghana that are thought to shed some light on pre-Islamic society (80 sculptures dating between 600-1200AD). The culture appears to have disappeared when Islam arrived - they either converted to the new religion or were the victims of the slave trade.

The Vancouver Sun and archaeology stories

Two stories from the Vancouver Sun (see and click on archaeology stories). On December 29th 2009 it was revealed that a study has found what people were eating a 100,000 years ago in southern Africa. Dozens of stone tools found during excavation are the earliest evidence, so far, of human reliance on grain (Julio Mercader of the University of Calgary). The diet of early humans was much more diverse than archaeologists have previously realised. Grains were as much part of their diet as roots, tubers, fruit and berries.

Bronze Age boats in the Atlantic Daily Telegraph, February 13th ... a trading vessel carrying a cargo of tin and copper ingots was found on the sea bed off the coast of Devon - and dates back to the Late Bronze Age, around 900BC. Copper and tin was used to make bronze used for weapons, tools, jewellery, ornaments and ornamentation.

C14 calibration February 11th ... Gerry McCormac and Paula Reimer of Queens University in Belfast (the '14 Chrono Centre') have created a new archaeological tool, a calibration curve that reaches back 50,000 years ago. The curve is known as INTCAL09 and full details are published in the journal Radiocarbon. It not only extends the C14 calibration curve but also improves earlier parts of the curve - which will prove very interesting. More information is available online at 

Latest Archaeology news from the horses mouth

Current Archaeology March 2010.

Rising sea levels are not a recent phenomenon it would seem as the seabed off the coast of the Orkney island of Darnsay has been investigated by a team led by the University of Aberdeen and they have discovered stone buildings and walls, as yet undated. What is intriguing is that some of the finds may be connected to an early chapel as it is known to have formerly been part of a larger complex. It now sits on what seems to be a disappearing shoreline - yet northern Scotland is supposed to be bouncing back from the Ice Age. The sebed around the Orkneys could be littered with human structures according to a geophysicist on site. Study of sediments show that Orkney only reached present sea level at 2000BC, and considerable coastal change has taken place since that time (as elsewhere around the coasts of Britain).

Current Archaeology 239 February 2010

Several items are worth repeating to the wider world. The Clovis culture people are blamed for the extinction of mammoths in North America according to the overkill hypothesis. Research has now shown the mammoth population fell sharply towards the end of the Ice Age and before the Clovis people - though mammoths, in smaller numbers, did continue to exist until the Younger Dryas Event.


The Boston Globe (online version), January 11th ... the discovery publicised a couple of years ago of the find in a cave at the mouth of the Wadi Gawasis on the Red Sea coast of pharaonic sea-going boats has been followed in December 2009 by an update of the archaeology. A storeroom containing ship's parts, jugs, trenchers, lines and hieroglyphic records has been investigated.

Stonehenge Hedge

The Guardian February 4th ... Stonehenge is revealing more secrets. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of the Great Stonehenge Hedge. Apparently, around 2000BC (a date that may be revised after further investigation) the henge was surrounded by two circular hedges planted on low concentric banks. They are being interpreted by some archaeological commentators as screens to shield secret ceremonies carried out by an elite of priests - but that might just be another conspiracy theory.

Silbury Hill, and other archaeological news

Gazette and Herald, February 2nd ... letters that were archived over 200 years ago seem to suggest Silbury Hill may originally have been constructed around a huge pillar - or tree trunk. Letters written in 1776 and stored in the British Library describe a 40 foot pole which once stood at the centre of the hill - when it was much smaller, little more than a large mound. When the hill was built up to its present size the tree trunk was buried in situ as on separate excavations a long cavity was found or fragments of oak timber within a cavity.


The BBC History magazine volume 10:12 December 2009 ... has an article on the Vikings and what may have drove them to attack the monasteries of Britain, Ireland, and NW Europe. Robert Ferryman suggests one motivation might have been a desire to defend their own culture which was under threat from Christian missionary activity in which Britain, Ireland and the Frankish Kingdom played a prominent role. In 782AD Charlemagne's army forcibly baptised and then executed four and a half thousand German Saxons.