Humans in Britain earlier than thought

The Independent June 1st ... until last month there was no evidence of humans in Britain between 200,000 and 65,000 years ago - but that was only because no evidence had been found. Now it has - humans were here 110,000 years ago - the trusty Neanderthals. Southampton University and Oxford Archaeology have discovered stone tools in Kent and it is being floated that humans were able to cross from France to SE England because sea levels were so low.

Huge Flare

At www.physorg.com/print194274365.html ... XMM Newton images of the emisson of the neutral iron flourescent line in molecular clouds around Sgr A taken between 2004 and 2008 shows that the supermassive black hole thought to be at the centre of the Milky Way went through a turbulent phase during the past few centuries. The evidence comes from surrounding molecular clouds whose variation in X-ray and gamma-ray luminosity reflects a major flare in the recent past (see the Astrophysical Journal).

Himalayan Smack

At www.physorg.com/print194263023.html May 28th ... geologists have found evidence that when India collided with Asia 90 million years ago the crust of the Indian tectonic plate was forced beneath the larger Asian plate and sank into the mantle of the earth to a depth of at least 200km. This is double that of previous estimates.

Mesolithic Scots

Herald, Scotland May 29th - www.heraldscotland.com ... a stone age camp site has been found at a farm by amateurs (2005) to the north of Biggar. The oldest found in Scotland so far, it is said to date back as early as 14,000 years ago, before the Younger Dryas event. Some 40,000 fragments, or microliths, have been found at the site - and Mesolithic sites (after the YD event) are being found on a regular basis, dating between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago.

Fayoum discoveries

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/print/2010/1000/eg10.htm Al Ahram says archaeologists working in the Fayoum have found a group of 45 intact Egyptian tombs complete with painted sarcophagi at Lahoun. A dynasty 18 tomb contained 12 wooden sarcophagi stacked on top of one another - each having its own well preserved mummy. They were covered in caronnage decorated with writings from the Book of the Dead and scene depicting various Egyptian deities. Images will be interesting when they are available.

The Northern Jordan Valley

The Jordan Times May 30th (see www.jordantimes.c0m/index.php?news=26973 ) ... Archaeological finds in the northern Jordan Valley are causing experts to re-evaluate the pattern of civilisation. At Tabqet Fahel 90km N of Amman, the suggested site of ancient Pella, may have been occupied from the early Holocene to the Mamaluke era, and may have been integral to the cradle of civilisation.

Titbits

At www.google.com/hostednews/ there is an article on divers exploring the ruins of Cleopatra's palace, dated May 26th. An international team with a French leader who has spent some years exploring ship wrecks and treasure hunts, is investigating underwater archaeology off the coast at what was Alexandria. It slid into the sea after earthquakes in the 4th and 8th centuries AD and much of the city is still intact - including temples, palaces and military outposts and the general mundane things of life.

Genetic research in Africa

At www.upenn.edu/pennnews/news/penn-researchers-add-genetic-data-archaeology.html there is a report, or news flash, about genetic research they hope will shed light on the demographic history of Africa as it is now known from anthropology, archaeology, and linguistic studies, and it is being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It is nice to read some research which does not mention global warming.

Martian Ice Cap

www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/2010-180 data from NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have provided evidence of a large chasm and a series of spiral troughs on the northern ice cap of Mars (see also Nature May 27th and NASA newsletter May 26th at info [at] jpl [dot] nasa [dot] gov ). The Shallow Radar instrument onboard is sending back detailed information and it seems the northern ice cap is a stack of ice and dust layers up to 2 miles deep covering an area roughly the size of Texas.

Drought, Lightning, and the Sun ...

At www.physorg.com/print194030525.html tree rings have been used to compile a temperature proxy over 900 years in North West Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) and they show dry periods in the 13th and 16th centuries - and in the late 20th century. They appear to coincide with warmish weather in northern Europe - droughts are virtually absent after 1500AD for about 400 years when it was very cold in northern Europe.