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News: archaeological stories hot from the press

21 July 2010

At www.novinite.com/newsletter/print.php?id=118366 we learn that Bulgarian archaeologists have discovered the palace of the ruler of the Odysian federation of Thracian tribes in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. A fortress and sanctuary in the mountains.

www.monstersandcritics.com/news/middleeast/news/article_1572260.php archaeologists have discovered a statue in Jordan dating back 6000 Years, it is claimed – some 35cm high. It has a long nose and is bearded with an abstract face in what was once a burial cairn dating to the Chalcolithic era.

www.physorg.com/print198858228.html the cucumber and honeydew melon were thought to have originated and diversified somewhere in Africa simply because there are many wild species of the Cucumis found there. However, a molecular genetic analysis has now shown they originated in Asia from wild species in the Himalayan foothills. In addition, another 25 related species have now been recognised in Asia, Australia, and in countries around the Indian Ocean. The cucumber is among the top ten crop plants cultivated worldwide. What is surprising is that the closest living wild relative of the cultivated melon is a native of Australia although it was India and China that was responsible for domesticating this fruit. This suggests that the Cucumis family of plants has an origin back when Africa, India and Australia were still joined in one land-mass.

http://news.yahoo.com July 22nd … Lake Qaru, in the Fayoum, is being explored with remote sensing radar in search of sunken basalt blocks seen on a satellite survey of the Western Desert. Zahi Hawass says the stones may have been intended as building blocks for the pyramids.

www.news.illinois.edu/news/10/0721dive.html … archaeologist divers are exploring and mapping 25 freshwater pools in Belize. They have found a huge underwater cavern which is being explored and it is thought the Maya used these pools to deposit votive offerings and as a source of water in times of drought.

The big news comes from Stonehenge – see for example www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2010/jul/22/stonehenge-new-discovery/print where the new investigation of the environs around Stonehenge are being explored in a 3 year project and has produced dividends in its first couple of weeks- the discovery of another Woodhenge, just 900m from the Stonehenge, and its contemporary. Sure enough, TV news, such as the BBC, provided us with a view of the quad bike and the banks of sensors, and an interview with Vince Gaffney (see In the News a couple of days ago). Stonehenge clearly did not exist in splendid isolation as the Woodhenge was on the same alignment, comprising a segmented ditch with NE and SW entrances (the Stonehenge ditch was probably segmented when first built) with a central ring of posts up to a metre in diameter that once held, virtually, tree trunks.

www.aolnews.com/world/article/evidence-found-of-sophisticated-public-works-among-amazon-indians/19531559 … this appears to be one of those mass media hypes that are not really anything to do with the headline – but it sounds good anyway. The story was sent in by member Matthew Baldwin, and the headline is, ‘Amazon indians more advanced than we knew’ – for years Amazon indians have been regarded as simple hunter-gatherers who lived in scattered villages and eked out a living in a difficult environment. Well, that is probably still true as this story does not really affect that view as it refers to an intrusive culture that spread into the Amazon basin in eastern Bolivia – or that is how the story is presented in other sources. It is in fact an old story but is the subject of a forthcoming paper outlining recent cataloguing of what is there by using satellite images. Huge earthen pyramid structures, networks of canals and causeways deep in the Amazon were constructed possibly using co-opted labour from Amazon indians. See earlier posts on In the News for other information on the same subject – and sources.

At www.physorg.com/print199101603.html .. is another old story but this time from Australia and concerns the discovery of Aborigine rock art that dates to around 1600AD and clearly shows visiting sailing vessels – presumably from SE Asia.

At the BBC website, http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/news.bbc.co.uk/local/northeastwales/ we have an update on an archaeological dig at the Pillar of Eliseg in Llangollen. Roman pottery has been found  as well as shards of post-medieval pottery. A third trench has now been opened where archaeologists are investigating features discovered via geophysics. The Pillar of Eliseg appears to have been erected on a burial mound.

At http://news.discovery.com/oldest-dog-fossil.html … is about the remains of a dog dating back to 14,000 years ago (some 1000 years before the YD event to place it in perspective) in a Swiss cave – and it is clearly a domesticated animal. DNA studies may eventually answer some questions but it is likely they will find out where wolves originated rather than dogs – domesticated forms of wolves. 

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