Archaeology news

Tutankhamon - another theory on the cause of death June 25th reports on a German theory that rejects malaria as the cause of death but blames sickle cell disease (quoting a letter written to the Journal of the American Medical Association by a couple of medical scientists).

Copper exploitation June 26th ... pieces of copper slag from smelting activity have been found in Serbia dating back as early as 7000 years ago. This is 500 years earlier than any significant sign of metallurgy in the Middle East - namely, in southern Iran around 6500 years ago. The Journal of Archaeological Science has the paper and says that other sites in SE Europe date from 6000 years ago and the contemporary Vinca culture is famous for its metal objects, including copper vessels.

Jill Eyers on Roman brothel in a des res village in the Thames Valley

Hambledon village, between Henley and Marlow, a short distance from the Thames Long Distance footpath, is an upmarket village with a nearby winery and toff food on offer, yet it has been hiding a secret. The presence of a brothel. In this instance the brothel is a Roman one and was attached in some way to a villa complex near the modern village - now under a field of growing barley. The story comes from BBC News and will shortly be the focus of a BBC2 programme.

Megaliths, Roman Cornwall, Caral ... and those darn Neanderthals again ...

At we have an article that suggests Neanderthals separated from other Homo sapiens as early as one million years ago - going by DNA analysis. Once again, this is an exercise in computer simulation dressed up as fact, and it goes on to conclude no actual hominid ancestor for either Neanderthals or Homo sapiens has been found - the missing link is still missing. In the study only dental morphology was analysed - nothing else but teeth.

Egyptian C14 dates are right according to new analysis

BBC News Thursday June 17th ... experts have used scientific dating techniques to show the chronology of ancient Egypt is largely right. C14 was used to date material from museums around the world and the OK, MK and NK dates as devised by academics over the years have proved to be spot on - hardly a variation of note. However, it was not C14 as it was formerly used, which tended to produce somewhat erratic dates, but a new C14 technique by a laboratory regarded as state of the art.

Skulls and Immigrants ... the online journal PLoS One has an article on the differences between palaeo-americans and amerindians, a huge morphological dissimilarity involving crania shape and size. The claim is that the earliest Americans were Australo-Melanesians and the second wave of immigrants came from East Asia.

Ra, the red sun disc

A web site that might interest SIS members, which is run by Gary Gilligan, a contributor to the web site and a member of SIS and an attendee at our bi-annual meetings. It has several long pages of articles and views that some might find thought provoking. Basically, the idea of the divinity of the pharaoh, the representative of the God on earth, his physical and human representation as leader of people etc, is challenged.


At we have a story about an Iron Age grave in Norway that dates somewhere between 600 and 1000AD which contained a prehistoric stone axe head - made of greenstone. Such axes, the news blurb announces, symbolised thunderstones. The idea of a rock falling out of the sky as a result of lightning is common around the world it continues, and has an obvious connection with meteors - or lightning bolts.

Romanian caves June 13th ... Romanian archaeologists have found ancient cave paintings aged between 23,000 and 35,000 years ago. They are drawings of buffalo, horse, and rhinoceros, and clearly these animals must have roamed in the immediate vicinity during the Ice Age - but this is well to the south of the ice sheet.

Tutankhamun Funeral

The Times May 29th .... archaeology correspondent Norman Hammond reported on an exhibition in New York, at the Metropolitan, 'Tutankhamun's Funeral'. A decade before the actual discovery of his tomb, some jars and broken pottery, bandages and animal remains, and dried flowers were found in a pit nearby. They were the remains of Tutankhamun's funeral, too impure to be buried in the tomb but safely hidden not far away.