Archaeology news

Swiss Shepherds

Shepherds, or goatherds come to that, go back a very long way, even in the heart of Europe. At ... we learn that Swiss shepherds, around 5000BC, shifted their animals to high pastures, into mountain valleys (some of which have been covered by glaciers until recently). Pasture was sought out at 2750m above sea level in the SW region of the Alps. Glaciers have come and gone on a number of occasions. For instance, during the Roman period glaciers had retreated much further than today.

Corded Ware Culture

At ... the period, 2300-2000BC was not just one of turmoil and upheaval, with evidence of site destruction far and wide, including earthquakes and perhaps atmospheric explosions of meteors, it was also one of migration and plague. This is too early for most books on historical epidemics to mention (they usually begin with the Bible or Roman records) but we have seen previously that plague or epidemics were a feature of the period around 3000BC also.

King Solomon's Mines

At ... it seems archaeologists came across some donkey manure dating back 3000 years ago, preserved in the arid environment of the Timna Valley. It had accumulated in an ancient mining camp at the back of a mesa like sandstone formation known as Slaves Hill. They were probably pack animals used to transport the metal and ores - and bring in supplies to the miners. The area is peppered with copper mines and smelting sites (where the ore was heated and the metal extracted).

Fluting Flint

At ... it seems Clovis Points, which are fluted, are still a problem for archaeology. What was the reasoning behind the fluting of flint points? Clovis points date from around 13,500 years ago - and disappeared at the Younger Dryas boundary. The flute is the groove chipped off the base of the point, on both sides. It seems that this thinning action, rather than weakening the points, actually is able to make the point more powerful in that it is able to withstand and absorb the shock of colliding with a hard object, such as the bones of a prey animal.

Chariot Burial

At ... in the foothills of the Yorkshire Wolds, on the outskirts of the market town of Pocklington, a chariot burial (with horse remains) has been unearthed. Two horses pulled the chariot.


Danish Vikings - why they moved to England - see ... as many as 35,000 Danes decided to seek pastures new in the 9th and 10th centuries AD (a sort of re-enactment of the Anglo Saxon invasions - with an origin in Denmark and NW Germany).  They were interested at first in portable treasures - especially gold and silver owned by the Church. After a while they settled and established the Danelaw - a sizable chunk of eastern England. Canute was king of England and king of Denmark.

Historical Bexits

At ... which is guest post by Keith Ray on plans to preserve Offa's Dyke (used as a recreation source by long distance walkers). It's an arduous walk, in places, and some stages are long winded between stopping points (signs of human habitation with a jug of beer or a bed for the night). Nevertheless, lots of people do it - and apparently, enjoy the experience (blisters and all). In this article, we go back to Offa himself, the contemporary of Charlemagne, king of the Franks.


Finistere is best known from the UK shipping forecast. At ... some 40 prehistoric engravings have been found in Finistere in Britanny ...


Ava is the name given to a woman buried near Wick in northern Scotland over 4000 years ago. Beside her remains archaeologists found a beaker - and she is now thought to be part of a wider European folk migration, that of the Beaker People. Whether the Beaker phenomenon represents a human migration or the spread of a cult is debatable but the beaker in the burial has been analysed and published with details of pollen in cooking residue (as well as other goodies archaeologists like). See ...


We had a long article in the March issue of Current Archaeology on dolmens in Pembrokeshire. There are a lot of dolmens along the western sea lanes from Britain and Ireland to France and Spain/ Portugal. These are generally dated from as early as the 4th millennium BC (although they may have continued to have been built into the next millennium). There was an odd coincidence as dolmens in Upper Galilee were the subject of a post at ...