Archaeology news


At ... the cave of Niaux was never used as a dwelling but it has a lot of cave paintings. Anne Marie provides the history leading up to a proper investigation of the cave and its heritage. The mountain itself is riddled and hollowed out by a network of caves but in one large gallery there are over 10 figures and representations, 55 of which are bovine and 29 equine. The vast cavity, 45m high and shaped like a nave, has exceptional accoustic qualities. The least murmur or noise is repeated and amplified as an echo.


At ... Zahi Hassan announced (January 16th 2018) that excavations in the Valley of the Kings where the tomb of Tutankhamun's wife may be located is about to commence. The excavation is near the tomb of Ay, the short term successor of Tutankhamun. Radar images seem to show a tomb entrance way 16 feet below the surface. Ankhesenamun as later married to Ay - sealing his right to the throne. He was quickly replaced by the general Horemhab.

Black Death Pandemic

Two stories on the Black Death - one at ... and ... at the first one we learn about analysis of thousands of skeletons. Genetic material from infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and the plague leave fossil traces of themselves in human teeth. A molecular fossil record was used to build a genetic profile of Yersinia pestis - the organism behind bubonic plague. The research team were able to trace the disease back to the Stone Age - which was a surprise.

Yorkshire Woodhenge

At ... excavations at a quarry in East Yorkshire have come across what was a henge (without the stones) - one made with tree posts. It is circular in shape with a surrounding ditch and bank (classic henge dynamics). However, there is also a bit of a mystery - lots of burnt stones. You can often come across heaps of burnt flints in Iron Age enclosures in various locations in the UK but the professionals usually take a view that doesn't leave them hanging themselves out with a theory that may prove to be wrong.

Hoxne Hoard

See ... the story of how a lost hammer in a field led to the discovery of the Hoxne Hoard in Suffolk. The farmer went and got hold-of a metal-detector-to search for a hammer that he had lost but found a cache of Roman coins and Roman silver. Why had it been buried?

20,000 years ago plus

At ... excavations at a site in Alaska have found genetic lines of early Native Americans that may have entered N America more than 20,000 years ago. The findings are published in the journal Nature (January 2018). It is though they arrived from Siberia and continued to have contacts with Siberia for a considerable period of time - finally losing that contact at the end of the Ice Age. The Bering Land Bridge is touted as their route of entry - but equally they could have arrived by boat.

Mastodon shenanigans

At ... we have a somewhat long story about a State re-widening project in California that unearthed a lot of fossil animals - but the prize of the group was a mastodon, whose bones had been shattered. Other animals found included a lot of rodents and birds as well as lizards and other small creatures. However, the focus from the beginning was on the mastodon - and why its bones were broken and splintered.

Defending the Sedentary

At ... reports on the discovery from aerial photography and satellite images of the discovery of more than a thousand sites across eastern Syria that seem to be a military network defending Middle Bronze Age urban and sedentary kingdoms in the west - and their hinterlands (the rural farmland). The defence system was clearly aimed at controlling intrusions from the Syrian steppe zone (or semi desert region of tribal habitat).

Decorative Celtic Books

At ... excavations at a Viking site in Trondheim in Norway has uncovered a decorative fitting from a book pilfered from Ireland (or the Celtic fringe). It is gold plated on silver and seems to have come from a religious book - probably from a monastery in Ireland at some point in the 800s. Hence, such embellished books really did exist in the pre-Norman era, contrary to what is inferred in MJ Harper's book, Meetings with Remarkable Forgeries.

Tempest Stela

It seems the Tempest stela of Ahmose, first king of dynasty 18, belongs to a delicate stage in the removal of the Hyksos from the delta region in Egypt. The city of Avaris was under seige by the army of Ahmose, king of Upper Egypt. As such, the tempest was influential in the events that followed, culminating in the expulsion of the Hyksos from Lower Egypt. The big question is - did the tempest have anything to do with the eruption of the Thera volcano in the Aegean. It is thought the ash cloud primarily moved eastwards across southern Anatolia.