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Circle of Bones, Knowth and Lapita

4 December 2011

At www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/12/02/3381368.htm … the Lapita culture has been found around the coastline of southern Papua New Guinea and it is thought Torres Strait Islanders may be direct descendants. The seafaring people are thought to have developed their culture around 3500 years ago on islands on the other side of New Guinea, expanding out into the Pacific Ocean around 1200/1150BC onwards, and colonising Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, and somewhat later, moving on to Samoa and Tonga. It seems some of them also moved around New Guinea rather than striking out due east into the ocean.

The Meath Chronicle has a report on a geophysics research project in the vicinity of Knowth, in the Boyne Valley – throwing up evidence of human activity from the Neolithic to the Medieval periods (see www.meathchronicle.ie/news/roundup/articles/2011/12/02/4007977-new-anice…

At www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/336659/title/Neandertals’_mammoth_bu… is interesting, although the link is clearly corrupt, so you might have to play around at the site to get the story, is about the possibility that Neanderthals in the Ukraine might have been the builders of a huge circle of mammoth bones, using some 116 tusks and mammoth leg bones etc. It has been dated to around 44,000 years ago, that grey area where C14 is a major problem with widely spaced dating results, but by necessity preceding modern humans in the region – or that 'might be' or not. Now, the bones are the surviving part of the construct. The big question is what might be missing – perhaps a wooden wall screen to keep out the cold (published in Quaternary International Nov. 26th). Its all a bit of guess work when it comes down to it – not just Neanderthal versus modern human but what on earth was it? What was it for? It encircled an area of 40 square metres in which there is evidence of mammoths, red deer, and other animals being butchered etc. Was it some kind of communal feast? Was it a seasonal hunt kill site? What was previously known is that during the Late Glacial Maximum, between 27,000 and 15,000 years ago, mammoth bones were used to construct huts – but if they were dwellings or built for some other use is again not known. 

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