Archaeology news

Early Farmers

At ... domesticated plants and animals are part of everyday life but they represent a unique change in the way of life of humans, allowing large numbers of people to live in one place. How did farming take off in the Americas - 5000 years ago? In this study it was preceded by a population boom, they claim, which led, relentlessly, to a shortage of food as there were more mouths to feed.

Sun Stones

At .... another study on the Viking sun stones - this time a proper experiment ...

wildfire chronology

Wildfires are known to have been frequent features of the Australian past - and Aborigines usually get the blame as they have a habit of setting the bush alight in controlled fires to manage the vegetation and flush out wildlife. At ... scientists are hoping to map landscape fires by using dripping water in caves. The idea is to plot a sequence of wild fires on the land above the caves which hopefully will reveal some interesting information about timescales involved.

Rope making

At ... a German team (see Archaologische Ausgrabungen Baden Wurttemberg) have found a rope or twine making tool dating to the Aurignacian period (roughly 40,000 years ago). Rope and twine are essential components in the toolbox of mobile hunting groups. Impressions of string have been found in fossil clay and are depicted on Ice Age art but on the whole rope, twine and string are biodegradable and absent from archaeological sites. The find is made from mammoth bone ...   

Hill of Chert

At .... a hill, 118m high, on the coast of Aghios Prokopios on the island of Naxos (in the Cyclades) has outcroppings of chert that have attracted humans for thousands of years - from deep in the Palaeolithic into relatively modern times. Today the hill is situated on a promontory that juts into the Aegean Sea. During the Ice Age and early Holocene Naxos was part of a much larger land mass, a big island comprising several of the Cyclades plus low lying areas that are now on the sea floor.

Early Farmers

This one is a bit of a surprise. Just as we were about to accept that early farming evolved in the Fertile Crescent and the descendants outbred hunter gatherers and gradually replaced them - or hybridised (and then went on to colonise large areas of the world from Europe to the Indian subcontinent) genetic research appears to have come up with something unexpected. The Fertile Crescent has been regarded as the cradle of agriculture for a long time - but is that view justified?


At ... excavations in Aberlady have unearthed the foundations of a large building that has been dated by animal bone to between the 7th and 9th centuries AD. The site is defined as Anglo Saxon as metal objects were recovered at the site but was it a monastery rather than a timber hall. Aberlady was on a pilgrimage route between Iona in the Western Isles and Holy Island in Northumbria - see also

South Downs LIDAR

BBC News also had a report of the discovery of an extensive field system on the South Downs, including beneath woodland. The LIDAR images are ground penetrating radar that are taken from overhead in light aircraft. They are often used by the Water Board for example, or the environmental agencies. In this instance the new South Downs National Park arranged for them to be made. There is also an extensive LIDAR set running along the length of the HS2 route (the high speed rail link between London and Manchester) but this is not yet at the public's disposal.

Must Farm

As the Must Farm excavations in the Cambridgeshire fens draw to a close we get a more balanced idea of the findings - go to ... the Bronze Age settlement has been opened up over a 10 month period and has yielded lots of finely woven textiles as well as beads from the Mediterranean and everyday domestic artefacts. It is being called the Pompei of the Fens as the preservation is so good. The homes on wooden stilts were burnt down and fell into the river below.

from erectile to cavern

Homo erectus walked just like modern humans - see ... which was proved by the discovery of footprints said to be one and a half million years of age.

At ... archaeologists have unearthed an interesting burial in Leicester. It contained a skeleton wearing a ornamented belt in a style known to be used by Late Roman soldiers and civil administrators (who were sometimes retired soldiers). The belt contains symbols of Roman authority.