Archaeology news

Assyrian retraction

At ... an article in the journal Climate Change claims drought was responsible for the decline of the Assyrian Empire in the second half of the 7th century - beginning in around 657BC. Within 5 years of that date the political and economic stability of the empire had eroded resulting in rebelllions and civil wars. However, the region was used to bouts of drought and these are recorded from all the previous centuries as Assyria grew in importance. As climate scientists, or climate researchers, they have a particular agenda.

Big Wave in Oman

At ... which is roughly contemporary the 2300BC event (nuances in dating methodology, changes as a result of calibration etc). The tsunami wave washed over a village that has recently been subject to archaeological research and it seems to have shifted large amounts of sand and human detritus, such as charcoal from fire pits. Bivalve shells with both sides of the shell intact have been found stranded onshore, a sure sign of a tsunami wave as humans would have broken them apart to get at the insides.

Flint Mines

At ... where we learn about flint mines that dwarf those of Grimes Graves in East Anglia. The flint mines in Bavaria are 8m deep but there are 20,000 mining shafts. The Late Neolithic Cham culture (3400-2700BC) existed for a brief period of time but appear to have traded extensively by using the Danube and its tributaries.


Two articles in Current Biology of October 23rd 2014 both concern Polynesians reaching S America. The first one claims the indigenous Botocundos tribe of Brazil have a genomic history that is Polynesian - see ... and in the second article it is said there was considerable genetic evidence of early contact between Polynesians and the Americas, especially with Easter Island.

The Step Pyramid of Djoser (update November 2014)

Laurence Dixon supplied the link to this picture of the Stepped Pyramid which has apparently upset UNESCO. Go to


At ... early Americans were in a remote oasis high in the Andes, 14,000 feet above sea level, as recently as 12,800 years ago. Most of us would not raise an eyebrow over this but apparently archaeologists are surprised by this. Okay, people were on the coast, migrating southwards, reaching the tip of S America as early as 14,500 years ago. What then is so surprising.

Ness of Brodgar and the Big Cow

At ... namely, they have dug up the remains of an aurochs, a prehistoric ancestor of modern cattle which roamed in the wild across Europe.

Meanwhile, in Israel archaeologists have discovered a Canaanite cult centre at Tel Burna - see It is thought to be a cult site dedicated to Baal, or perhaps, Anat. It measures 52 feet by 52 feet and there is evidence of animal sacrifices.


Excellent programme on BBC2 last night, the 15th of October, on the discovery of Heracleion in the delta zone of Egypt, at the head of the Canopic branch. Lots of collapsed Greek style temples and Egyptian inscriptions etc. After an hour we learned that it was an earthquake that may caused the sand and silt of the delta to collapse like quicksand. Other sources on the internet appear to suggest the sheer weight of stone monuments was part of the process - gradually sinking into the soft Nile delta soil.


Current World Archaeology 67 also has an article on the Moche culture of coastal Peru. Interestingly, it mentions a century of climatic and societal turmoil (assumed to involve El Nino swings) between AD550 and 650. This century directly follows on from the low growth tree ring event that Mike Baillie dated to AD536-45. The century also included the beginnings of Islam in Arabia and the swathe of conquests unleashed against the Roman and Persian empires, in crisis.

The femur bone that caused a ripple

In Current World Archaeology 67 (Oct., 2014) - or go to ... there is an article by Tom Higham on Denisova Cave which famously produced the finger bone from which a genome was produced of an entirely new human species. It is located in the remote Altai Mountains at the far side of central Asia. Clearly, it could not have been so remote in the past as it has produced remains of Homo erectus, Denisovans, Neanderthals, and Modern Humans.