Archaeology news

Polynesian Pyramids

At www.physorg.com/print197873712.html we have a story on Polynesian temples on one particular island, Mo'orea - their evolution from small to monumental pyramids took place in less than 140 years. A paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences used what is said to be high precision thorium/uranium dating methodology to process samples of decorative veneers and religious offerings - all made of coral, found at 22 different temple sites.

Arthur, old chap ... where be ye ...

The Daily Telegraph July 11th had a story in which researchers claimed King Arthur's Camelot was built on the site of a recently discovered Roman amphitheatre in Chester that appears to have been fortified and occupied in the Dark Ages. Regional noblemen, it is imagined, would have gathered around a circular meeting place = the Round Table. However, Chris Gidlow suggests that rather than an actual dining table it was a venue for upwards of a thousand people. In The Independent of July 12th they have a similar story - but from a different angle.

British Oldies

The Guardian July 7th (see www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/jul/07/first-humans-britain-stone-tools/print is a story about flint tools found on a beach at Happisburgh in Norfolk that are said to be some 840,000 to 950,000 years of age, based on dating the geology (or sediments). The tools according to Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum, are mint fresh and exceptionally sharp - which suggests they have not moved very far from where they were left - if at all.

Roman Galilee

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100707080941.htm - archaeologists exploring the Galilee region in the Roman period have found a synagogue which is being dated to around 400AD.

Hoard of Roman Coins in a field in Somerset

Some 52,500 bronze and silver coins dating from the 3rd century AD have been  found by a hobby metal detectorist in a field near Frome in the West Country. It is the largest single hoard ever found in Britain - and they all date between 253-293AD. A Roman road ran nearby but there is no trace, as yet, of a villa or settlement, so it is a bit puzzling. Archaeologists said that hoards are usually buried at times of invasion and civil unrest - the Irish and Saxon raids of the 5th century might be a more fitting time.

An Armenian Genesis

A bit of nationalism and wishful thinking is apparent in this story from www.panarmenian.net/eng/society/news/50844/ where it claims Mesopotamian civilisation originated in Armenia. It does however probably provide a clue to the direction from which came the Jemdat Nasr people that invaded Sumeria around 3200BC. As for the Sumerians themselves, who arrived somewhat earlier, they remain a mystery - unless you adher to the David Rohl version of events.

stone age amputation

www.epochtimes.com July 5th ... stone age surgeons (4900BC) in France performed an amputation operation on a man whose skeleton was found 40km south of Paris with grave goods suggesting he was an important member of the community. According to the Daily Mail he was probably given pain killing plants such as hallucinogenics, when the knife cut flesh.

Na Dene and Ket

This is probably an old story but it pops up at http://newsminer.com/printer_friendly/8387910 - researchers at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks claim there is an ancient language link between people of northern Siberia, namely the Ket, and possibly other small tribes of the Yenisei Valley, and North America, a discovery that has been endorsed by linguistic scholars.

Greek Fire

www.livescience.com/history June 28th ... Greek inventor Archimedes is said to have used mirrors to burn the ships of an attacking Roman fleet advancing on Syracuse. The story comes from the medieval period and appears to be an attempt, at that time, to try and understand what Archimedes did. New research has suggested he may have used steam cannons and fiery cannonballs, instead of mirrors (a process that is too slow). The battle took place between 214 and 212BC but no contemporary Greek or Roman source mentions a device involving mirrors.

exhibition in Oxford

There is an exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford on 'The Lost World of Old Europe' - basically, Europe between 6000 and 3000BC, the Climatic Optimum (or a period of history sandwiched between two events). Various objects from the Danube civilisation and the Balkans will be on display, including from the Varna civilisation. There is evidence of widespread trade from northern France, Germany and Denmark, across central and eastern Europe into South Russia, and the artifacts reflect this situation. Exhibition from now until August 15th.