Archaeology news

'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.

Mound Culture in North America

At March 7th ... there is a lengthy article about mounds in the US - mainly in the Mississipi, Ohio and Tenessee river valleys, and the lower south east region. The earliest mound is an earth ring 300 feet in diameter dating back to 3500BC. Between 2500 and 1200BC shell mounds or rings were built along the south Atlantic coast (in Georgia for example). Between 1500BC and 1000AD mounds appeared inland - made of earth and fresh water mussel shells.

Kutch March 7th ... a large settlement of the Harappa culture has been excavated in the Hindu Kutch. It had been heavily fortified with walls that were 10m thick, and was spread over a hectare in area. The question that might be asked - were the walls built so thick in order to combat earthquakes. It was built at some stage between 2500-2200BC.

Czechs in Iraq March 8th ... Czech archaeologists have found remnants of a 150,000 years old prehistoric settlement at Arbil in northern Iraq - what is now Kurdistan. The find consisted mainly of stone tools 9m under the surface.

Neta'im professor Gershon Galil of the Dept of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa has identified Khirbet Qeiyafa as 'Neta'im' which is mentioned in Chronicles. It was a centre of pottery manufacture in the service of the king and interestingly was located near the border with Philistia.

Ice Age Florida March 4th ... a local newspaper with a story about human bones found in association with extinct Pleistocene animals - in Florida. Excavations are being organised to unearth more information but provisionally they are assumed to date shortly before the YD boundary event. The discovery was made some 80 years ago during the digging out of a canal. It hit national newspapers at the time but scientists ignored it as they did not believe humans coexisted with mammoths and other beasts of the Pleistocene fauna.

Fossil Coral, Spirits in the Sand, and Lakes in the Sahara

Science Daily March 2nd id100301182106 ... fossil coral a half a million years of age seems to show reefs are quite capable of withstanding stress imposed by global warming - or freezing. Reef ecosystems appear to have persisted through massive environmental changes imposed by sharply falling sea levels during previous Ice Ages. Eight reefs on Papua New Guinea show they survived from Ice Age to Ice Age (and the warming between).

Akhenaten Mummy

News from the Valley of the Kings (see ) March 2nd ... a week or so ago Zahi Hawass claimed the mummy in Kv55 is 'probably' Akhenaten. The media accepted this attribution as a fact but this article disagrees - and says the mummy in Kv55 was not Akhenaten. She draws on the personal relationships between the last members of dynasty 18 and the role of Ay, a brief successor to Tutankhamun. Velikovsky, of course, saw some strange relationships among the final few kings, is his book Oedipus and Akhenaten.

Ostrich Eggs and Symbolic Writing

Science News March 2nd ( id 56807) ... a cache of ostrich shells have been found in South Africa with geometric designs engraved on them. They go back 60,000 years, it is said, and some experts are saying they represent evidence that humans at this time were capable of creating symbolic signs = a rudimentary language. This is surprising as we are talking about hunter-gatherers, probably related to the San people.