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The Menhirs, Cyprus in the Neolithic, Ancient Writing, and a wooden door that was made 5000 years ago

21 October 2010

At http://www.russia-ic.com/news/show/10889/ … the Russian Information Centre has released news of archaeological findings in the South Urals where they have unearthed an ancient complex including settlements, burial grounds, avenues of menhirs. One site consisted of a central upright stone around 2m high surrounded by a ring of recumbent stones – with the odd outlier.

At www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Oct10/ManningCyprus.html … the transition to agriculture on Cyprus was apparently somewhat earlier than previously imagined, quoting a paper in Antiquity by a Cornell archaeologist. It began as long ago as 8500BC – possibly a little earlier. This provides a direct link to early Neolithic activity in the Levant and also suggests maritime contact.

At www.ny.times.com 21st Oct … the University of Chicago exhibition at the Oriental Institute says Egyptian hieroglyphs and Sumerian cuneiform evolved separately. However, as the latter used clay tablets which when fired was durable we know more about them than the former, who used papyrus (which is bio degradable). The same goes for primitive Semitic alphabetic scripts. The odds are they developed as a response to hieroglyphics, as they are known to occur as primitive alphabetic signs at a turquoise mine in Sinai – dated around 1800BC. However, it is the limit of our knowledge that causes these interpretations, rather than what may really have happened.

At http://heritage-key.com/blogs/ann/5000-years-history-zurich-rescue-excavations-stone-age-wooden-door/ archaeology from the construction of an underground car park in Zurich has discovered five successive prehistoric settlements – as well as some well preserved artefacts such as a flint dagger and a wooden door which has been dated by dendrochronology to 3063BC. Some finds have been dated as early as 3700BC but what caught my attention was that four layers of sediment were discovered indicating the water level of Lake Zurich fluctuated on a number of occasions.

At http://heritage-key.com/blogs/ann/iron-age-settlement-and-roman-remains-discovered/ … this refers to archaeology at Sutton near Epsom and the North Downs as a result of foundations being laid for a new school. It appears to be part of a late Iron Age and Roman period farming community but rather mysteriously the remains of domestic animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, and dogs seem to have been killed and deposited in deep pits cut 4m deep in to the underlying chalk. It is suggested this may have been a ‘closure’ ceremony, effectively shutting down the community as the pits may originally have functioned to store grain. This is of course guesswork but closure ceremonies are a distinct feature of British archaeology – the question is why, at this point in time.

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