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

The Medes

Median dynasty architectural remains have been found in Azerbaijan (see August 11th) ... a joint US/ Azerbaijani team of archaeologists have found remains  dating to the dynasty of the Medes, the first Iranian people to rule over what is now Iran and various other regions which included a large part of northern Mesopotamia including parts of modern Azerbaijan. What is now known as Oglangala was an ancient kingdom that was desperately trying to thwart the expansion of Urartu.

'Censorinus, the Sothic Cycle, and Calendar Year One in Ancient Egypt: the epistemological problem'

This was sent in by member Eric Aitchison after he had received the link from Bergen, one of the Chronology members. Bergen posted it in response to a post by Ian Onvlee who maintained that Sothic dates are based on the risings of the star Sirius - without any doubt. He did experiment with a location of Sothis in Orion's Girdle, for an undisclosed reason, but found this could not be sustained.

Are physicists making up dark energy?

This story was sent in by Gary Gilligan and is interesting as it represents the problem from an astro-physicist that believes dark energy is real rather than a critique from a detractor. He is the author of a popular book and can be read on a regular basis at and as well as the article itself some of the comments following it are also just as interesting - the interaction between supporters of the consensus as opposed to the irreverent.

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.

Back to Kola

Pierre Gosselin, on his blog August 7th ... discusses a series of tree ring proxies near the Arctic shores of Euroasia which includes the Kola peninusular proxy mentioned on a post last week. Only one of these proxies actually showed any evidence of a hockey stick - but it's inclusion in the series gave shape to the multiplication of proxies (some four or five).

Marden Henge - what do we know?

Actually, we still know very little. The latest bit of archaeological investigation has now come to an end (see BBC News August 6th) and we know more than what was known previously - but that is not a lot as the excavations were made in just one small section of what is a huge site. Indeed, English Heritage have no say on most of the henge.

Neanderthal Sleeping Quarters

At otherwise Discovery News, there is a description in juvenile terminology of the discovery of a separate space set aside in a cave in Cantabria with a makeshift bed.