Archaeology news

The peculiar properties of sound at Stonehenge

New Scientist August 27th ... acoustic experiments were made at Stonehenge in an attempt to determine how it may have sounded during prehistoric gatherings. Once the acoustic fingerprint was discovered it could then be analysed - or modelled, using an anechoic chamber (at the University of Salford), and afterwards, convoluted. Due to reflection of sound from the stones, reverberating sounds such as drumming become deeper - as if the bass had been turned up and the tenor turned down.

Early Americas

Daily Mail August 25th ... the remains of a prehistoric child were found in an underwater cave in Mexico - dating back over 10,000 years ago. Scientists hope the skeleton will offer clues to ancient human migrations into the Americas - from SE Asia. Anthropologists think the body was placed in the cave in a funeral ceremony performed when the sea level was some 488 feeet lower than it is today.

Arrows give the game away

BBC News August 26th ... archaeologists in South Africa have unearthed stone points dated 64,000 years ago which were probably arrow heads. A microscope revealed traces of blood and bone. They also found traces of a glue - a plant based resin that was possibly used to fasten them to a wooden shaft. The use of bows and arrows as a hunting tool enabled humans to kill from a distance where previously they had used ambush tactics in order to move in with spears at fairly close quarters.

Archaeology in the Western Desert

At http://yalealumnimagazine.com/issue/2010_09/egypt3841.html ... Yale University press release. Egyptologists have barely explored the western desert, an expanse the size of Texas, but recently some intrepid archaeologists with links to Yale have been tracking back along old roads crossing the desert, fanning out from Thebes. They have found a lost pharaonic complex with administrative buildings, garrison quarters, and small industries and workshops.

Maya archaeology updates

At www.usatoday.com August 26th .... it is claimed archaeologists are near to finding out why the Maya abandoned their cities - in the 9th century AD. It was very rapid it seems - pottery and tools were left behin, and grinding stones used to mill corn. The interior of houses appeared to suggest people had left quickly - leaving behind some of their belongings. We know when they went, it continues, as many of them still live in the north or along the coast.

Late Pleistocene Notts

The Independent and the daily Mail August 26th  (see also www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1306616/Axes-Ice-Age-dating-13-000 ....) excavations preceding road widening on the A46 in Nottinghamshire have found Iron Age and Roman remains - and flint tools and flint knapping debris dating back to 11,000BC (shortly before the Younger Dryas event). The A46 at this point follows the line of the Roman road known as the Fosse Way.

Digging for Britain; August 26th

BBC 2 'Digging for Britain' 26th August ... looked at various archaeological sites from Creswell Crags to the Beaker people - and surprisingly, they moved around a lot. Unsurpringly, this occurs between 2300 and 2000BC (but you need to read Moe Mandelkehr's articles in SIS journals on what might have been going on then to understand why). However, what caught my attention was the Neolithic farm and various associated buildings.

Mammoths, and other sturdy beasts with big stomachs

There is an unusual posting at http://chiefio.wordpress.com August 24th .. on the mammoths and what they might mean for climate change.

Mush

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100823131743.htm there is a piece on archaeology in Utah some 10,000 years ago (early Holocene) which shows a distinct change in diet that may be significant. People living in a rock shelter adopted grinding stones in order to mill the very small seeds of sage brush, making a flour that was cooked into a mush - or porridge. It therefore has analogies with the adoption of oat porridge in Europe at an indeterminate point in time.

Another henge found ... near Letchworth

BBC News August 24th ... archaeologists have discovered a henge near Letchworth in Hertfordshire. It would have been visible from another henge on what is known as the Western Hills. Henges tend to occur in clusters so there may be others not far away. This one was discovered by an aerial photograph that revealed an extensive ring of chalk fill which had been ploughed out and on the ground it was not discernible. Archaeologists dug out a couple of trenches and found the remains of the encircling chalk bank - which had massive ditches inside and out.