Archaeology news

The Menhirs, Cyprus in the Neolithic, Ancient Writing, and a wooden door that was made 5000 years ago

At http://www.russia-ic.com/news/show/10889/ ... the Russian Information Centre has released news of archaeological findings in the South Urals where they have unearthed an ancient complex including settlements, burial grounds, avenues of menhirs. One site consisted of a central upright stone around 2m high surrounded by a ring of recumbent stones - with the odd outlier.

Stone Age (Palaeolithic) flour

At www.nature.com/news/2010/101018/full/news.2010.549.html there is a report on a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (this week) (see doi.10.1073/pnas.1006993107 ) that claims that Palaeolithic people were making flour in Europe as early as 30,000 years ago - from plant grains and roots. The idea that Palaeolithic hunters were almost exclusively meat eaters has always been insecure.

Megalithic Tombs

Another locked in consensus point of view might be about to start rocking at the hinges. I am referring to some of the abstract ideas that have proliferated in archaeology textbooks in recent years regarding the use of the landscape by our ancestors in NW Europe. Very often, long barrows and prehistoric graves seem to occupy high ground - significant ridges or terraces. This has given the impression the intention was to dominate the surrounding landscape, to impress or mark out ownership of the valley or lowland below, and various other ideas, sometimes quite woolly.

Ulster Tomb

The Belfast Telegraph (see www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-reland/maghera-tomb/ ) ... Portal Tombs, a form of dolmen, are only found in Ireland, Wales, and Cornwall, and there has been an archaeological debate on their origins as they seem to appear at the same time as large rectangular long houses.

Middle East Milk Drinkers

At www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,druck-723310,0.html a German journalist reports on mainly German research that is now claiming that agriculturalists came to Europe during a wave of migration with origins in the Fertile Crescent (the Middle East, Iran, and Anatolia) that basically swept aside the indigenous Mesolithic peoples. However, in all such blanket assertions, there are some noteable problems - completely ignored by the journalist.

Tayinat Oath Platform in the Holy of Holies

At http://heritage-key.com/blogs/owenjarus/oath-platform-2700-year0old-temple-tayinat/ we have an unusual take on the excavations being currently undertaken at Tayinat, an ancient city of the Amuq Plain, on the banks of the Orontes, and conquered by the Assyrians in 738BC. The Temple in question belongs to the Assyrian era and the oath tablet was discovered on a platform in the most sacred part - the Holy of Holies.

Was the White Horse at Uffington a dog?

No, not so barmy - a vet has suggested it resembles a greyhound or a wolfhound rather than a stylised horse (see www.guardian.co.uk/sciences/2010/oct/12/white-horse-uffington-dog/ ... the argument is based on the long tail and small head, which certainly could be a dog rather than a horse. In addition, it is known that Britain and Ireland were famous for their hunting dogs and they were traded far and wide.

Bronze Age Caucasus

High in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia a previously unknown Bronze Age civilisation has been discovered - dating back to the 16th and 14th centuries BC. The sites are spread over 60 miles between the Kuban River and Nalchik in the east (see www.redorbit.com/modules.news/tools.php?tool=print&id1929825 - and it is probably connected to the Kuban civilisation which was discovered over a hundred years ago - but slightly later in date.

Black Death

At www.physorg.com/print206009200.html ... scientists in Germany have examined the skeletons of plague victims, testing their DNA and analysing protein, and they say they have proved the Black Death was caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis which occurs as pathogens. Skeletons of plague victims were examined in England, France, Germany, Italy and Holland. The next goal is to find the exact route of transmission - how did it get here.

Submerged lands off the coast of Wales

At www.walesonline.co.uk September 25th ... archaeologists are looking for evidence of the prehistoric past - under the water off the coast of Wales. Dry stone walling and willow fencing has been discovered on the seabed - these features are still common on Welsh hills today. Fossil forests and the discovery of drowned peat bogs have surfaced over the years and it is thought they were submerged around 6000 years ago, environmental archaeologists suggest.