Archaeology news

The Obsidian Trade in North America

At is a story with some potential for the future (and like the previous story is also available at Science Daily). Obsidian, or volcanic glass, was prized for making tools, and an archaeologist in Idaho has plotted and catalogued obsidian pieces from his patch as he has devised a clever way of using them to shine a little window on the habits of Native Americans over the last 13,000 years.


At there was a story going the rounds a week or so ago which I passed over at the time. However, for anyone interested, the common opinion was that most people in Pompeii died from suffocation due to a combination of ash and volcanic gases. A vulcanologist from the Naples Observatory has now shown they died from an extreme heat surge produced by the volcano - between 250 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit.


The Guardian August 17th (or view online at a huge Roman town has been unearthed near Le Mans, and attention is being made to the temples that existed there. This was Vindunum, occupied between the first and third centuries AD.

Pyramids and small robotic explorers

At August 16th there is news of a robot developed at Leeds University which is designed to penetrate deeper into the Great Pyramid at Giza than ever before - known as the Djedi Project. No doubt it will be big news if anything is found, but there are a lot of ifs involved in what is a nice bit of technology. The robot will explore a shaft otherwise found inaccessible by previous robotic attempts and the hope is that a hidden chamber will be found. However, there are a few problems to overcome before such a prize.

Parts of South America may once have been under the sea - as recently as 10,000 years ago?

Parts of South America may once have been below sea level, as recently as 10,000 years ago. There is a possibility of course that it may have been below sea level in the early Holocene as we have noted previously that there is evidence of uplift, or readjustment of the ocean's geoid, as recently as 8000 and 5000 years ago.

Neolithic House in Yorkshire

The Independent August 11th ... archaeologoists have found a house dating back 11,000 years ago, at Star Carr in North Yorkshire, constructed by Mesolithic hunter gatherers. It is circular in design with 18 post holes, indicating a well built permanent structure. The site itself appears to have been used, at least partly so, for religious - or ritual activity. This is the sort of umbrella term to describe non-domestic human activity.

Skellig Michael

Some intriguing discoveries on Skellig Michael, the lump of rock in the Atlantic Ocean offshore of Kerry on which was built an early Christian monastery and hermit's lair, is reported in the Irish Times August 10th (see ). The possibility is being raised that the island may been in use previously to the monks arrival by the discovery of three new staircases. The monks may have moved into a preexisting complex, similar to what are known as 'high forts' where they occur on the Dingle peninsular and on the Blanket islands.

Megalithic tombs - new dating throws up a paradox ... it seems new dating evidence suggests the megalithic long barrows and passage tombs were built in a burst of activity over a few centuries around 4000BC. These predate the megalithic activity of around 3000BC, or that of around 2600BC and 2300-2000BC, and possibly around 1650BC.

Roman Wales

At August 12th ... there is a news release from Cardiff University saying that archaeologists may have to revise some of the details regarding the conquest of Britain. A complex of monumental buildings has been found outside the fortress of Caerleon in South Wales. It seems the Romans had plans to develop Caerleon into a major settlement but for some reason abandoned the plans. See also BBC News 11th August, at

Nefertiti in Colour

Archaeologists are examining a cache of talatat blocks stored in Luxor, some 62,000 of them. They have been locked away for some years and only now are they seriously been catalogued and dusted down, and amazingly the original pigments of colour have been preserved on what is Amarna period art that went out of favour and was reused as fill material for later constructions. The excavation reports of when and where they were located might be interesting from a revisionist angle.