Archaeology news

Indus collapse ... was there an epidemic?

At ... raises an interesting question. Collapse, as a result of catastrophism of some kind, whether it was tectonic or otherwise, and the shifting of the Indus river channels that left cities and towns stranded - or the complete drying up of one of those main river channels - how did it affect the survivors?

A megalithic town on a coral reef in the Pacific

This is posted as it is unusual and takes me back to my younger years and reading Thor Heyerdahl's 'Kon Tiki Expedition' - which was a best seller in its time. At ... concerns the megalithic, or large stone, remains of Nan Madol, on an island in Micronesia. Heyerdahl was fascinated by megalithic remains in the Pacific and speculated they belonged to an ancient race that preceded the more well known Polynesian migrations.

Copper mines at Tankardstown and Knockmahon

The 19th century Temperance Movement is an interesting, if brief, piece of history. When I drive to my daughter's house we go through the old part of the town of Chesham (based around an old manor farm) and where the street narrows there is a prominent building, a former temperance meeting hall. I always supposed the Temperance movement was a peculiarity of non-conformist Christianity, a sort of off-shoot of the Quakers. It seems there was an Irish variant on the movement - see ...

Spiders on Rocks ... or meteor radiants?

At and

The rock panel was found along a shallow sandstone wadi in the Kharga Oasis, 108 miles west of Luxnor - deep in the desert. The rock art may go back to 4000BC and its a matter of interpretation. You either see spiders or you don't. It could quite as easily be some kind of cosmic phenomenon, such as meteors.

Ships and Sailors ... and Churches

At ... there is a lovely tale complete with images drawn on the walls inside medieval churches, mostly in coastal locations such as Lincolnshire and East Anglia but also further afield, in landlubber territory such as Leicestershire and Hertfordshire, and deep inside Hampshire. The author of the piece is project director of a survey of medieval graffiti in the UK. In other words, an archaeologist with a nose for the unusual.

Stonehenge Man

The new visitor centre at Stonehenge has opened and includes the remade face of Stonehenge Man - see ... One is never sure of headlines at The Independent - is this a case of idealogical prejudice? Ignoring the banality of the headline, attributing it perhaps to a young journalist rather than one that is a bit crusty at the edges, the article concerns a skull from a nearby long barrow dated to around 3500BC.

Migration ... tales to tell

The recent research on a genome from an arm bone of a youth found buried in Siberia has caused waves, so to speak. It has also thrown up another interesting little tidbit not yet realised, going by what has been written so far. Go to ... and you will see that when the Late Glacial Maximum set in, the last expansion of the Ice Age, and spread southwards towards central and western Europe, humans moved south to areas such as Iberia, Italy, and the Caucasus.


The oldest of anything is only what has been discovered in the oldest setting - and so it is with human use of grains as a food or drink. The consensus view at the moment is that the first definite use of grains in the human diet comes from a Palaeolithic site in what is now Israel, dating back to around 23,000 years ago. This was at the height of the Late Glacial Maximum, prior to the advent of farming as a way of life.

Where did the lost stones go?

BBC History magazine (Christmas 2013 edition) (see raises an interesting question on Stonehenge just as the new Visitor Centre opens (18th December). Archaeologist Mike Pitts suggests Stonehenge would have been known about for miles around, even on the continent, going back to the third millennium BC. This means it would have attracted lots of visitors - throughout the ages. Yet, some time between 2500BC and AD1500 500 tonnes of stone was removed from the site. Where did it all go?

Palaeolithic preferences

At ... Tony Brown from Southampton University and Laura Bassell of Queens University in Belfast have written a paper on patterns of distribution of Palaeolithic sites in northern Europe and they have found what looks like a pattern. They tend to located in flood plains on the lower levels of rivers. They appear to avoid forested slopes, plateaus, and estuaries. The study appears to revolve around the finds of stone tools rather than skeletal material, and famously they crop up in fossil river beds and terraces.