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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Archaeology news updates
    Posted: 12-Mar-2012 at 01:58

Indiana Jones goes geek: Laser-mapping LiDAR revolutionizes archaeology

"This is it—the paradigm shift," archaeologist Chris Fisher told Ars. "Just like the advent of radiocarbon dating, LiDAR will have the same impact."

LiDAR, or "light detection and ranging," acts as a sort of radar with light, painting the target area with lasers and recording the time it takes to reflect back to the instruments.

An archaeologist specializing in Western Mexico, Fisher studies the way environments affect and change cultures. LiDAR has helped him repaint the picture of ancient Mexico, bringing the little-known Purepecha empire a lot more historical prominence.

In the once tech-resistant area of anthropology, high-tech tools are enabling new discoveries on an almost-daily basis. Several years ago, Fisher started out with rugged handheld computers and a few GPS receivers to map the recently-discovered city Sacapu Angamuco in western Mexico, occupied from about 1,000 to 1,350 CE. The Purepechan or Tarascan people had proven more difficult to pinpoint archeologically than had their contemporaries and rivals, the Aztecs. But initial data gathering and geo-referencing allowed Fisher to identify the city at an important moment on the crux of empire, and to do so in a fraction of the time it would have taken with tape measures and grid-plotting. Still, there was more to be done.

Last year, LiDAR enabled Fisher to create a full-fledged picture of the important Mesoamerican capital in greater detail. This included the discovery of several pyramids, ceremonial complexes and thousands of residences and other buildings that no one knew existed in the city. Much is known about the Purepecha at the time of European contact in the 16th century, but little has been uncovered about their origins. This project should help with that.

These three images illustrate three ways scientists can visualize LiDAR  information. The top image is unfiltered LiDAR feedback, the second is filtered to show ground surface and prehistoric features, and the last is filtered even more to show ancient structures that remain.
These three images illustrate three ways scientists can visualize LiDAR information. The top image is unfiltered LiDAR feedback, the second is filtered to show ground surface and prehistoric features, and the last is filtered even more to show ancient structures that remain.
Chris Fisher

"We got LiDAR flown over the ancient city last January and were able to use the data last summer," Fisher said. "We've been able to analyze and manipulate the data quite a bit since then. Wow! What's unique about our use of LiDAR is the density of points and the high accuracy levels. Our data are like the scene in Avatarwhere they have the three-dimensional table and are planning the assault on the home tree."

LiDAR, short for "light detection and ranging," is a remote sensing technology. Analogous to radar, a LiDAR array fires light at a target, often via laser. The light can be visible spectrum, ultraviolet, or near-infrared. The time it takes for the light to reflect back to the scanner is measured, with each measurement registered as a data point. In archaeology, the data thus gathered are used to plot differences in elevation and shape; from this data cloud, a picture is built up of the observed area.

In addition to archaeology, LiDAR has geological, forestry, agricultural, military and meteorological uses; it's accurate enough to chart urban environments, for instance, and to plot electric transmission lines on a map. As well as giving scientists a picture of what lies beneath them on (and under) the ground, LiDAR can even measure rain and chemicals.

Though often deployed on planes that fly specially-charted flight plans, covering an area with overlapping coverage strips, LiDAR can also be deployed on land-based vehicles and is even used in stationary devices to do 3D scans of rooms and objects.

Just for the record, Fisher and his students aren't looking to take down the metaphorical tree. Far from it; hisLegacies of Resilience project is dedicated to understanding landscape change over time, both for the historical merit of such an investigation and for the practical purposes of understanding our own future. Fisher and his team seek to understand how the environment allowed for the development of a people capable of limiting Aztec expansion.

Pure science is not the only rationale for the use of LiDAR and other technologies. In a tight economic time, academic funds are sparser that usual, so anything that can save money is welcome.

"LiDAR technology (helps) map not only ancient architecture," Fisher wrote, "but the underlying landscape in a more cost-effective manner than would a traditional archaeological survey."

Additionally, the quality of the data is better than any method that has come before.

"LiDAR has been around for a while (since the 80’s), used extensively for archaeology in the UK, and other places in Europe," Fisher said. "But it has only been recently that the resolution is high enough to see individual archaeological features.  Each point that we have has a plus/minus range of 2.5cm—roughly the size of a Rubik’s Cube. So we can now use it to investigate not only ancient cities but the broader landscape, and connections between these features on the landscape. For the first time we are able to record the world in the same way that we experience it—in three dimensions. "

LIDAR planes map in strips that are stitched together by computer
LIDAR planes map in "strips" that are stitched together by computer

A geospatial revolution

The only other analogous use of LiDAR since the data density has increased was by Arlen and Diana Chase, at Caracol in Belize. In four days of LiDAR over-flights in 2009, the Chases gathered more information than in the previous 25 years of investigations at that site, mapping 80 square miles of the city and its surroundings.

Arlen Chase responded briefly to our inquiries. ("I am currently at Caracol on a BlackBerry barely sending through a Guatemalan cell tower," he wrote.) He agreed with Fisher's description of LiDAR. "LiDAR is a paradigm shift for archaeology," he wrote. In fact, he, Diane Chase, and Fisher have co-authored a yet-to-be-published paper that makes that case: "The Geospatial Revolution in Archaeology: LiDAR, Regional Survey, and the Protection and Modeing of Ancient Societies."

What exactly does this revolution consist of? Speed. Cost. Complexity. LiDAR and its related technology have compressed information gathering in much the same way that computing itself increased the speed of number-crunching. A landscape, with its architectural and agricultural artifacts, can be mapped in extraordinary detail in a fraction of the time it used to take, and for a much-reduced price. This enables archaeologists to model, reason, and theorize, to spend more of their time using the data rather than gathering it. 

Additionally, the information gathered is conceivably immune to time, or at least more resistant to decay than much of archaeology's early information.

"The data are indelible," Fisher told Ars, "not like a photograph; [they] do not degrade. They also represent a point cloud rather than a static image. We as archaeologists are in a losing battle to preserve cultural heritage in the face of an ever expanding world. LiDAR freezes the landscape--everything in that landscape; vegetation, animals, etc.--at the moment.  Imagine if we had LiDAR images for critical archaeological sites from a hundred years ago.  We hope that a hundred years from today researchers will be able to use our LiDAR data to investigate Angamuco in ways that we cannot yet conceive."

http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2012/03/indiana-jones-goes-geek-laser-mapping-lidar-revolutionizes-archaeology.ars?clicked=related_right

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Mar-2012 at 02:00

U.S. archaeologists unearth Iraq's ruins

Vanished cities abound in Iraq —Babylon, Nineveh and Ur just for starters — so much that archaeologists joked that the only advice needed to uncover history is "just dig."

War and international sanctions closed these locations off to the world and to scholars. The ruins of ancient Mesopotamia, in modern-day Iraq, have mostly seen visits from looters for the last two decades.

But that may be changing. A U.S. archaeology team that was one of the first to visit Iraq in more than two decades, has just returned from a dig there. They are now among a growing list of other archaeologistsreturning to the war-ravaged nations.

"There is so much gloom and doom in news from Iraq, this is a really hopeful moment," says archaeologist Elizabeth Stone of Stony Brook (N.Y) University. "Iraq, Mesopotamia, is so rich in archaeological sites. It was wonderful to be back."

Stone spent Christmas in southern Iraq on a dig project co-headed by colleague, Paul Zimansky. Their four-week visit marked the first U.S. archaeological efforts in the country outside of Kurdish regions in two decades, since the 1990 Gulf War, and one of the first foreign efforts in a decade as well.

Stone has been there before, most notably on ahelicopter tour of sites looted in the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq War. At that time, the sacking of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad was also accompanied by an orgy of looting of archaeological sites that peaked that year. From the looting tour and satellite photos looking across Iraq, Stone and colleagues determined that robbers dug the equivalent of 3,700 acres of holes in archaeological sites across a region filled with ancient history.

"Things are better now and there was real interest among Iraqi scholars and officials in resuming archaeological work there," Stone says. By design, her team started small on a four-week winter break between classes. Instead of a city, they hoped to find an ancient village at a site called Tell Sakhariya, near the southern Iraq city of Nasiriyah, and about four miles from the ancient ruins of Ur, the fabled birthplace of Abraham in the Old Testament.

"As the last U.S. convoy was leaving (on Dec. 17) we were headed into Iraq, which was a fitting moment," says Stone, who had last worked inside Iraq on projects such as excavations of the ancient Babylonian city of Mashkan-shapir in 1990. "The soldiers were leaving and the archaeologists were returning."..........

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/columnist/vergano/story/2012-03-10/archaeology-returns-to-iraq/53449318/1

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Mar-2012 at 02:03

Kirkton water works reveal Roman artefacts at fort site

Floor tile
A range of Roman artefacts have been uncovered during the water works in southern Scotland

A series of Roman artefacts has been found during works to install a water main through a former fort site.

The discovery was made as work was carried out at Wellington Bridge near Kirkton in Dumfries and Galloway.

Archaeologists supervised the Scottish Water works through the site of the Carzield Roman Fort.

Items discovered included Roman tiles, clay fragments and pieces of cast iron metalwork which will now be taken for analysis and carbon dating.

John Atkinson, of GUARD Archaeology, said: "A series of archaeological features were uncovered during the work, which appear to correlate with the projected layout of Carzield Roman Fort as witnessed during previous investigations.

"These features included the remains of four separate areas of cobbled surface, three of which coincide with the position of a projected barrack block on the south-west edge of what would have been the main Roman road through the fort.

"The most north-westerly of the surfaces lay within what would have been the central area of the fort and appeared to be more refined in its construction.

"Below the surfaces there were two ditch features extending north-west and south-east."

'Sensitive site'

Further analysis should allow the origin of the artefacts to be better understood and allow "detailed insight" into life in the area during Roman times or possibly earlier.

Simon Brassey, a Scottish Water specialist engineer, said: "When working near sites like this we rely on the expertise of the archaeologists to assist us in causing minimum disruption to the sites while also keeping an eye out for any interesting items that may be uncovered.

"The work to date and study of the items is likely to take around six months.

"In the meantime we have managed to complete and commission a new water main successfully in a very sensitive site."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-17237825

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Mar-2012 at 02:24
Egypt's Art Before the Pyramids
DESCRIPTIONDESCRIPTION

Petroglyphs found near the village of Qurta in southern Egypt have been confirmed as the first known Paleolithic artwork in North Africa. They were dated using a technique called optically stimulated luminescence on sand that had piled up against the rock face where the images were carved. The team of archaeologists from Belgium, Australia, and the United States showed that the carvings are at least 15,000 years old and possibly much older. Before this research, the idea that Egypt had any Paleolithic rock art had been controversial.

The site consists of at least 179 figures deeply carved into sandstone. Many depict animals in a more naturalistic style than was used in later petroglyphs at sites nearby. Some of the most remarkable petroglyphs are less naturalistic—stylized images of people with large buttocks, similar to ones made in Europe around 14,000 years ago. According to Dirk Huyge of Belgium's Royal Museums of Art and History, these images could be evidence of an indirect link between very distant cultures. Since 2005, when the team first published descriptions of the art at Qurta, four or five other sites with images made in a similar style have been identified about 45 miles south of the site. "One find provokes another," says Huyge. "Qurta has opened up a whole new area of Paleolithic art research."

http://www.archaeology.org/1203/trenches/paloelithic_rock_art_qurta_egypt.html

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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Mar-2012 at 19:07

Dinosaur Guts Reveal Velociraptor's Last Meal
Written By Jeanna Bryner-Published March 06, 2012-LiveScience


A lightweight Velociraptor dinosaur may have chowed down on the carcass of a much larger flying reptile not long before meeting his own demise some 75 million years ago.

The evidence comes from a pterosaur bone discovered in the gut of the skeletal remains of what was likely a Velociraptor mongoliensis that lived in what is now the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. The fossil, the first pterosaur bone to be found inside dinosaur guts, was discovered in 1994 but not fully analyzed and detailed in a scientific publication until now.  Velociraptor was known to have fearsome sickle-shaped talons on the second toe of each foot; it kept these talons off the ground like foldable switchblades. Past research has shown these theropod dinosaurs used their talons to slash live prey and hook them to keep them from escaping.



Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/03/06/dinosaur-guts-reveal-velociraptors-last-meal/#ixzz1ox0O53jq
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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Mar-2012 at 19:09

Tiny four-winged dinosaur sported shimmery black feathers

Written By Jennifer Welsh-Published March 09, 2012-LiveScience


A new fossil of a four-winged dinosaur about the size of a pigeon shows he apparently sported quite the costume, complete with glossy black feathers and a tail tipped with a pair of decorative streamer feathers.

The newly discovered fossil of Microraptor lived about 130 million years ago, during the early Cretaceous period, in what is now northeastern China. The latest depictions of the beast, whose feathery adornments may have extended to other Microraptor species, suggest it looked similar to a crow, even though non-avian dinosaurs had already separated from the ancestors of modern birds by that time.

It may have looked like a crow, but researchers also think it may have flashed its tail feathers in the manner of a peacock.



Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/03/09/tiny-four-winged-dinosaur-sported-shimmery-black-feathers/#ixzz1ox1BOBRD
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Mar-2012 at 18:26

The Pearl Trade


For at least 7,000 years, people have settled along the shores of the Persian Gulf, in what one scholar calls “one of the most inhospitable regions on the planet.” Despite its lack of natural resources, such as water or fertile soil, what the Gulf region did have was the world’s most reliable source of fine pearls, until they began to be grown artificially a century ago. The long history of pearls and pearling in the Persian Gulf was, as a result, largely forgotten due to the collapse of the natural pearl industry in the early 1900s. Soon, the region came to be known only for exporting oil, despite the fact that some of the cities lining the Gulf’s coast actually owe their early origins to pearls.

The luminescent gems have been prized as a symbol of luxury since antiquity. The ever-increasing demand for the tiny spheres not only attracted people to the Gulf’s Arabian shores, but also provided the raw material for an economy that may have been one of the most enduring in the world. Nearly all that was known about the ancient pearling industry came from scattered mentions in texts that date only as far back as the fourth century B.C. However, archaeologists working at sites from Kuwait to Oman are now discovering evidence of ancient pearls, pearling, and the pearl trade. Because of this, they are beginning to understand the role the gem played in the region at Neolithic villages, Bronze Age centers, and wealthy cities of the eighteenth century. Says Robert Carter, an archaeologist at the University College London’s new campus in Doha, Qatar, “The societies of the Gulf were shaped by the pearl oyster and trade from the earliest days.”

http://www.archaeology.org/1203/features/pearl_trade_zubarah_as-sabiyah_al-buhais.html



Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 13-Mar-2012 at 18:28
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Mar-2012 at 22:48

LOST DA VINCI FOUND? MONA LISA PAINT LENDS CLUE

THE GIST
  • Art experts have drilled a hole through a 14th-century frescoed wall and recovered traces of a paint once used by Da Vinci in the Mona Lisa.
  • The researchers believe this may be evidence that a long lost Da Vinci masterpiece has been hidden behind the wall.
  • The work is a painting called the "Battle of Anghiari" and its recovery would be a huge discovery.
  • Researchers struggling to solve a longstanding Leonardo da Vinci mystery -- the fate of a lost masterpiece known as the "Battle of Anghiari -- have found intriguing traces of paint hidden behind a 5-inch-thick frescoed wall in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence's 14th-century city hall.

    The color is consistent with that used by the Renaissance creator of the Mona Lisa, suggesting that Leonardo's artwork has remained hidden behind that frescoed wall for more than 500 years.

    Known as the "Battle of Marciano," the mural was painted by the renowned 15th-century painter, architect and writer Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) in the imposing Hall of the Five Hundred. The hall was a room built at the end of the 15th century to accommodate the meetings of the Florentine Council.

    Right behind that wall could lie one of the biggest discoveries in the history of art, according to art diagnostic expert Maurizio Seracini, director of the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology at the University of California, San Diego, who has been searching for the lost masterpiece since the 1970s.

    Three months ago Seracini's team drilled six tiny holes into Vasari's fresco, inserted a 0.15-inch-wide probe and micro-cameras and collected samples of red, white, orange and black material.

    Analysis with a scanning electron microscope revealed the black material had an unusual chemical makeup of manganese and iron.

    The compound corresponds to the "black pigment found in brown glazes on Leonardo's 'Mona Lisa' and 'St John the Baptist,'" Seracini said on Monday at a press conference in the Hall of Five Hundred.

    Red material, most likely red lacquer, was also found. The researchers said that this kind of material is unlikely to be present in an ordinary plastered wall. High definition endoscopic images also revealed a beige material which "could only have been applied by a paint brush," the researcher said.

    "Evidence suggests we are searching in the right place," Seracini said.

    "The Battle of Anghiari" has a mysterious history. It was conceived in 1503, when Leonardo and Michelangelo received twin commissions to paint on opposite walls of the Palazzo Vecchio.

    Both murals were to represent historic Florentine victories, and the commissions reinforced the intense rivalry between the two artists.

    While Michelangelo never got past a sketch of his "Battle of Cascina," Leonardo began to paint the "Battle of Anghiari" on June 6, 1505, when he was 53. The mural would celebrate the Florentines' victory over Milanese troops in 1440.

    In his 1550 book "Lives of the Artists," Vasari said that Leonardo painted only a portion of the 12- by 15-foot fresco. It was a battle known as the "Fight for the Standard," which represented "the rage and fury both of the men and the horses," Vasari wrote.

    PHOTOS: Da Vinci's 'Magi' Hides Master's Original Vision

    He also said that Leonardo abandoned the project because of technical problems arising from his experimental mixing of oil paint and fresco.

    Historians, however, have questioned Vasari's conclusion. Some speculated that he made up the story, and that the fresco actually was completed.

    Hailed by Leonardo's contemporaries as his finest work, the "Battle of Anghiari" now survives in several preparatory drawings and sketches by the master himself and in a Rubens drawing which was inspired by an anonymous copy of the fresco.

    Ten years after writing his account of the "Battle of Anghiari," Vasari was hired to modify the council room into the Hall of Five Hundred, a hall dedicated to the ruling Medici family.

    In the course of this work, Leonardo's mural disappeared.

    It wasn't the only artwork to dissolve. Working on the city-wide renovation plan devised by Duke Cosimo I to celebrate the Medici family, Vasari had to sacrifice masterpieces such as Masaccio's Trinity in the church of Santa Maria Novella.

    Yet he did not destroy the work; he just bricked it over and added his own fresco, the "Madonna of the Rosary."

    Masaccio's work remained obscured until 1861, when Vasari's wall was removed.

    NEWS: Nude, Mona Lisa-Like Painting Surfaces

    In 2000, at a da Vinci conference, leading scholar Carlo Pedretti proposed that Vasari saved Leonardo's masterpiece just as he had Masaccio's.

    The conference prompted Seracini to carry out sophisticated tests that involved the use of laser scanners, X-ray machines, and thermographic and radar equipment.

    The only nonfictional living character mentioned in "The Da Vinci Code," Seracini found a Dan Brown-like clue in the wall housing the "Battle of Marciano."

    There, on a tiny painted green flag, Vasari wrote: "Cerca, trova -- seek and you shall find."

    A radar survey carried out last year revealed the presence of a hollow space between Vasari's "Battle of Marciano" and the original stone wall.

    The existence of the air gap was confirmed by the team's probe, strongly pointing to the bricked-up theory. "No other gaps exist in the Hall of Five Hundred," the researchers said.

    Matteo Renzi, the mayor of Florence, said he had asked the Italian government for permission to carry out further drilling in over a dozen areas where the Vasari's fresco no longer exists.

    "We need to know how much is left of the painting. We are not some crazy art vandals. We are curious people who are not afraid of solving one of art history's greatest mysteries," Renzi said.

http://news.discovery.com/history/lost-da-vinci-painting-120312.html

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Mar-2012 at 22:53

Genetic Studies of Modern Populations Show Varying Neandertal Ancestry

The complex world of human genetics research speaks a language unfamiliar to most of us, but it has opened up a new window on our understanding of the dynamics of ancient populations; and few areas of research have been more tantalizing than that surrounding the questions of how modern humans are related to the Neandertals, an ancient species of human whose morphology or physical characteristics disappeared from the human fossil record roughly 30,000 years ago. The most recent studies have provided evidence about when the Neandertal (Homo neandertalensis) and modern human populations (Homo sapiens) first diverged from a common ancestral population. They have also suggested that Neandertals and ancient modern humans interbred, and that some distinct modern populations have more Neandertal ancestry than others.

In a 2010 benchmark study conducted by a consortium of scientists and institutions, researchers compared and analyzed a Neandertal genome constructed from samples taken from the bones of three Neandertal individuals excavated at the Vindija Cave in Croatia. A genome is an organism's complete hereditary information as encoded encoded in DNA. They compared the genome with modern human genomes from a sampling of present-day human groups from different parts of the world. What they found was a number of genetic variants in regions along the genome that both Neandertals and modern humans shared as a result of positive natural selection, "including genes involved in metabolism and in cognitive and skeletal development". [1] 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Vindija Cave, Croatia. Tomislav Kranjcic, Wikimedia Commons

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The evidence suggested some additional conclusions. One of them deals with the long-standing debate about when modern humans and Neandertals diverged in the time-line of evolution. Examination of the new data now indicates that the split took place between 270,000 and 440,000 years ago, "a date that is compatible with some interpretations of the paleontological and archaeological record" and a common ancestor that lived within the last 500,000 years. 

Equally significant is the answer they found regarding how the Neandertal genome variants ended up in the modern human genome in the first place.  

"A challenge in detecting signals of gene flow between Neandertals and modern human ancestors," state the study authors in the report, "is that the two groups share common ancestors within the last 500,000 years, which is no deeper than the nuclear DNA sequence variation within present-day humans. Thus, even if no gene flow occurred, in many segments of the genome, Neandertals are expected to be more closely related to some present-day humans than they are to each other. However, if Neandertals are, on average across many independent regions of the genome, more closely related to present-day humans in certain parts of the world than in others, this would strongly suggest that Neandertals exchanged parts of their genome with the ancestors of these groups." 

In other words, if there are differences in the degree to which different geographically dispersed present-day population groups show Neandertal ancestry, this would suggest that Neandertals and ancient modern human ancestors interbred. 

*We performed this test using eight present-day humans: two European Americans (CEU), two East Asians (ASN), and four West Africans (YRI)  We find that the Neandertals are equally close to Europeans and East Asians....... However, the Neandertals are significantly closer to non-Africans than to Africans."  

The researchers' best explanation for these findings is that the Neandertals exchanged genes with the ancestors of non-Africans. Eurasian Neandertals interbred with ancient modern humans.  But, the study authors continue, "the actual amount of interbreeding between Neandertals and modern humans may have been very limited, given that it contributed only 1 to 4% of the genome of present-day non-Africans". 

What is more, they were able to determine the relative time in which the mixing began:

A striking observation is that Neandertals are as closely related to a Chinese and Papuan individual as to a French individual, even though morphologically recognizable Neandertals exist only in the fossil record of Europe and western Asia. Thus, the gene flow between Neandertals and modern humans that we detect most likely occurred before the divergence of Europeans, East Asians, and Papuans. This may be explained by mixing of early modern humans ancestral to present-day non-Africans with Neandertals in the Middle East before their expansion into Eurasia. Such a scenario is compatible with the archaeological record, which shows that modern humans appeared in the Middle East before 100,000 years ago whereas the Neandertals existed in the same region after this time, probably until 50,000 years ago. 

Any canoodling, then, may have actually started before the two species encountered each other in what is now present-day Europe or West Asia. 

The picture becomes more complicated with later studies, which have shown some interesting new details. John Hawks, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, reports the results of a study of the comparison of East Asian region samples (Japanese, Han Chinese in Beijing, and Han Chinese originating in South China) with European region samples (Tuscans, British, Finn, CEU, and Spanish) taken from the 1000 Genomes Project in his weblog entitled The Malapa Soft Tissue Project. Here he concludes that "the Europeans average a bit more Neandertal than Asians", suggesting that "Europeans may have mixed with Neandertals as they moved into Europe, constituting a second process of population mixture beyond that shared by European and Asian ancestors". [2] More interesting still were the differences detected among the samples within each of the two regions. Within the East Asian region, the North China population was found to have more Neandertal indicators than the South China, and within the European region, the southern populations more than the northern, with the Tuscans having "the highest level of Neandertal similarity of any of the 1000 Genomes Project samples".  Hawks relates the results of research on African populations, as well, which also show variability. He points to the Yoruba people, a West African population, having significantly more Neandertal genome similarity than the Luhya, an East African population. "We now know from examination of genetic variation within Africa today," states Hawks about the possible implications, "that some of today's diversity can be traced to ancient population structure in Middle Pleistocene African populations. For example, Neandertals could be more closely related to some African populations than others today because Neandertals actually exchanged genes with some ancient African populations. Or Neandertals might have sprung from one African population among many who lived 250,000 years ago..........As we combine the archaic genome data with our growing picture of diverse lineages in Africa today, we may discover ancient populations that are not apparent archaeologically. Again, genetics is giving us a totally new picture of the diversity and population dynamics of ancient people." 

Genome research continues to provide new findings through an expanding source of shared data, affording new details. Looking forward, Hawks asks the next question: "Which Neandertal-derived variants are shared between regions, and which are unique to one region?......Now, we have sequences capable of telling us much more." 

http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/march-2012/article/genetic-studies-of-modern-populations-show-varying-neandertal-ancestry

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Mar-2012 at 23:00

Hong Kong dentist to help check pharaoh's cavity

A Hong Kong dentist is wielding forceps to help reach for answers inside the last surviving example of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Pulling teeth by day and devising inventions by night, Ng Tze-chuen, 59, said he organized a team working with Egypt's former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass to unlock the mystery surrounding the doors blocking two narrow shafts in the pyramid, which is the tomb of the Pharaoh Cheops, also known as Khufu.

"The Chinese have more experience with chopsticks. And a dentist has more experience in gripping with forceps," said Ng.

"Why Egypt is so interesting, it's because of the hieroglyphics. It's like a detective story. It's all waiting for me to use my grippers."

Inspired by dental forceps -- he has designed 70 of his own to properly grip the tricky crevices of patients' teeth -- Ng said his team will mount tiny grippers on an insect-sized robot expected to gently trek the winding shafts of the pyramid without causing damage to the walls.

The Great Pyramid, the largest and oldest of the three pyramids at Giza, stands 146.5 meters (482 ft) and was completed around 2,500 BC.

The two shafts, which rise from a chamber in the pyramid, and their doors have puzzled archaeologists since they were first discovered in 1872. There is some speculation that Khufu's burial chamber might lie beyond the doors.

The robot will travel up the shafts, which are so narrow only a small robot could fit, to eventually drill through the two doors. It carries a camera to record what it finds.

The international team, which will take the name Djedi -- after the magician with whom Khufu is thought to have consulted for the pyramid layout -- plans to use the robot this spring, depending on when the license to do so will be issued, Ng said.

The expansive Giza plateau is a far cry from Ng's office in a high rise amidst the concrete jungle of Hong Kong, where he said dentists prefer to talk about money and expensive cars rather than ancient Egypt or Mars, another of his passions.

"I want to test my grippers in the most secretive places," said Ng. "I want to see my tools used on sea, land and space."

He already has an impressive record and says he was behind the concept to use a rock sampling tool on board the Beagle 2 mission to Mars in 2003.

A self-described maverick as a child, with an adamant allergy to schoolwork, Ng said he was an avid daydreamer who imagined playing marbles on Mars and feels he lived on Mars in a previous incarnation.

"I always think that I was a Martian crab in my past life," added Ng, whose home is stacked with cat drawings, volumes on ancient Egypt, and books by Carl Sagan. On the walls are plaques and newspaper clippings recognising his contribution to a number of projects.

The Great Pyramid is only one of 10 missions Ng plans to finish before the age of 65. Future plans include a German rover to sample soil on the moon, a submarine rescue cutter, and a search for Cleopatra's tomb - all scrawled in marker pen on the inside of his mobile phone cover so he is constantly reminded of his dreams.

"Egypt is one of the testing grounds for my toys," he said.

Even talk of the apocryphal "Curse of the Pharaohs" said to cause the illness or death of anybody who disturbs the mummy of an ancient Egyptian doesn't faze him -- much.

"No matter, curse or no curse, I just want to take a peek. That's it," he said. "And then I will run."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/08/us-hongkong-dentist-egypt-idUSBRE82707K20120308

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Mar-2012 at 23:08
Greek archaeologists plead for help to protect heritage
Greek archaeologists appealed to Europeans to help defend the nation’s cultural heritage and history amid cuts in the budget to maintain sites that include those around the 2,500 year-old Acropolis in Athens.

“The same austerity packages and authoritarian measures that are currently tearing apart Greece and its monuments, are going to be imposed across Europe,” the Association of Greek Archaeologists said in an e-mailed statement today.

The budget of the Culture and Tourism Ministry’s archaeological service was reduced by 35 percent, to 12 million euros ($16 million) in 2011 and will be cut further this year, the group said in the statement. The ministry’s total budget has been cut by 20 percent since 2010.

The government undertook to impose more austerity measures last month to secure a second 130 billion-euro aid package from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The 7,000 ministry employees, including 950 archaeologists and 2,000 guards, are responsible for 19,250 archaeological sites and monuments; 106 museums and collections of prehistoric, classical and Byzantine antiquities; 366 projects and hundreds of excavations. They have a budget of 498 million euros that the EU co-finances, according to the statement.

“We are not overstaffed, nor are we being overpaid,” the group said. A new hire earns 670 euros a month after tax and other contributions, compared with 880 euros a month in 2009.

Receipts from visits to museums and archaeological sites rose 4.6 percent to 47.3 million euros in the first 11 months of 2011, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on March 8.

Funding for museum security will be cut 20 percent, the archaeologists said. This comes after two big robberies in January and February, one at the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games, the other at the National Gallery in central Athens. Three paintings were stolen from the gallery, including one donated by Pablo Picasso.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_12/03/2012_432460

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Mar-2012 at 23:11

Oldest human-shaped 'haniwa' in Japan found in Shimane Prefecture

Fragments of fifth-century clay figures shaped in human form have been found at a burial mound here -- the oldest such figures ever discovered in Japan, according to local officials.

The terra-cotta "haniwa" figures are presumed to have been made for ritual use and buried with the dead in ancient Japan. The six figures were unearthed from the Ishiya burial mound in the Shimane Prefecture capital of Matsue, local board of education officials said on March 8.

Two of the six figures depict sumo wrestlers, two are in the form of warriors, and one depicts the chair portion of a seated human. Archeologists believe the remaining one may depict an aristocrat.

One of the sumo wrestling figures shows the lower part of a human body dressed in a loincloth with spiny weapons attached to the ankles. The height of the complete figure is estimated to have been approximately 110 to 120 centimeters.

According to officials, although several other ancient human-shaped haniwa parts, including a shrine maiden's head, were previously discovered at the Daisenryo (Emperor Nintoku) mound in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, this is the first time that haniwa in the form of wrestlers, warriors and a seated person have been ever found in Japan.

Archeologists believe that the use of human-shaped haniwa sets began around the fifth century -- about the same period that the recently discovered haniwa are presumed to date from -- at large keyhole-shaped mounds in the southern-central Kinki region of Japan, which includes Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and other prefectures.

"This is a major discovery, because it shows that the Yamato rulers at the time had close ties to powerful clans in the Izumo region (modern day Shimane Prefecture)," says Katsuhisa Takahashi, a professor of archeology at Hanazono University in Kyoto Prefecture.

Along with the six human-form haniwa, archeologists further discovered two horse figures, also presumed to be among the oldest of their kind in Japan.

During a major 1978 excavation at the Ishiya mound in Matsue, archeologists discovered a large quantity of other haniwa fragments. The recent discovery comes as the Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo reorganizes its collection of the ancient figures ahead of an exhibition in Kyoto this summer.

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120310p2a00m0na010000c.html

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2012 at 13:26
I found this article interesting:
"...The results of recent research suggests that ancient, or prehistoric, builders of the monumental structures found in such diverse places as Ireland, Malta, southern Turkey and Peru all have a peculiarly common characteristic -- they may have been specially designed to conduct and manipulate sound to produce certain sensory effects. 

Beginning in 2008, a recent and ongoing study of the massive 6,000-year-old stone structure complex known as the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum on the island of Malta, for example, is producing some revelatory results. Like its related prehistoric temple structures on Malta, this structure features central corridors and curved chambers. But this structure is unique in that it is subterranean, created through the removal of an estimated 2,000 tons of stone carved out with stone hammers and antler picks. Low voices within its walls create eerie, reverberating echoes, and a sound made or words spoken in certain places can be clearly heard throughout all of its three levels. Now, scientists are suggesting that certain sound vibration frequencies created when sound is emitted within its walls are actually altering human brain functions of those within earshot.

"Regional brain activity in a number of healthy volunteers was monitored by EEG through exposure to different sound vibration frequencies," reports Malta temple expert Linda Eneix of the Old Temples Study Foundation,  "The findings indicated that at 110 Hz the patterns of activity over the prefrontal cortex abruptly shifted, resulting in a relative deactivation of the language center and a temporary shifting from left to right-sided dominance related to emotional processing and creativity. This shifting did not occur at 90 Hz or 130 Hz......In addition to stimulating their more creative sides, it appears that an atmosphere of resonant sound in the frequency of 110 or 111 Hz would have been “switching on” an area of the brain that bio-behavioral scientists believe relates to mood, empathy and social behavior. Deliberately or not, the people who spent time in such an environment under conditions that may have included a low male voice -- in ritual chanting or even simple communication -- were exposing themselves to vibrations that may have actually impacted their thinking." [1]Researchers at the University of Malta are confirming the findings in an ongoing study...."

http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/march-2012/article/ancient-builders-created-monumental-structures-that-altered-sound-and-mind-say-researchers

I posted the article in it's entirety because I found it very significant - it seems that the effects on sound on human brain activity was somehow understood and used in practice, if not in theory. One time using such effect is may be a random occurrence, two times  - a coincidence, more than two - we may be  looking at a pattern.




Edited by Don Quixote - 14-Mar-2012 at 13:27
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2012 at 13:50

Artifacts Show Sophistication of Ancient Nomads

PRESERVED Some of the most illuminating discoveries dispelling notions that nomadic societies were less developed than many sedentary ones are now coming from burial mounds, called kurgans, in the Altai Mountains of eastern Kazakhstan, near the borders with Russia and China.

Ancient Greeks had a word for the people who lived on the wild, arid Eurasian steppes stretching from the Black Sea to the border of China. They were nomads, which meant “roaming about for pasture.” They were wanderers and, not infrequently, fierce mounted warriors. Essentially, they were “the other” to the agricultural and increasingly urban civilizations that emerged in the first millennium B.C.

As the nomads left no writing, no one knows what they called themselves. To their literate neighbors, they were the ubiquitous and mysterious Scythians or the Saka, perhaps one and the same people. In any case, these nomads were looked down on — the other often is — as an intermediate or an arrested stage in cultural evolution. They had taken a step beyond hunter-gatherers but were well short of settling down to planting and reaping, or the more socially and economically complex life in town.

But archaeologists in recent years have moved beyond this mind-set by breaking through some of the vast silences of the Central Asian past.

These excavations dispel notions that nomadic societies were less developed than many sedentary ones. Grave goods from as early as the eighth century B.C. show that these people were prospering through a mobile pastoral strategy, maintaining networks of cultural exchange (not always peacefully) with powerful foreign neighbors like the Persians and later the Chinese.

Some of the most illuminating discoveries supporting this revised image are now coming from burial mounds, called kurgans, in the Altai Mountains of eastern Kazakhstan, near the borders with Russia and China. From the quality and workmanship of the artifacts and the number of sacrificed horses, archaeologists have concluded that these were burials of the society’s elite in the late fourth and early third centuries B.C. By gift, barter or theft, they had acquired prestige goods, and in time their artisans adapted them in their own impressive artistic repertory.

Almost half of the 250 objects in a new exhibition, “Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan,” are from these burials of a people known as the Pazyryk culture. The material, much of which is on public display for the first time, can be seen at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, on loan from Kazakhstan’s four national museums. Two quietly spectacular examples are 13 gold pieces of personal adornment, known as the Zhalauli treasure of fanciful animal figures; and the Wusun diadem, a gold openwork piece with inlaid semiprecious stones from a burial in the Kargaly Valley in southern Kazakhstan. The diadem blends nomad and Chinese characteristics, including composite animals in the Scytho-Siberian style and a horned dragon in an undulating cloudscape.

Artifacts from recent kurgan digs include gold pieces; carved wood and horn; a leather saddle; a leather pillow for the deceased’s head; and textiles, ceramics and bronzes. Archaeologists said the abundance of prestige goods in the burials showed the strong social differentiation of nomad society.

Jennifer Y. Chi, the institute’s chief curator, writes in the exhibit’s catalog, published by Princeton University Press, that the collection portrays “a world of nomadic groups that, far from being underdeveloped, fused distinct patterns of mobility with apparently sophisticated ritual practices expressive of a close connection to the natural world, to complex burial practices and to established networks and contacts with the outside world.”

Walking through the exhibit, Dr. Chi pointed to nomad treasures, remarking, “The popular perception of these people as mere wanderers has not caught up with the new scholarship.”

Excavation at the Altai kurgans, near the village of Berel, was begun in 1998 by a team led by Zainolla S. Samashev, director of the Margulan Institute of Archaeology, on a natural terrace above the Bukhtarma River. Some work had been done there by Russians in the 19th century. But the four long lines of kurgans, at least 70 clearly visible, invited more systematic exploration.......

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/science/from-their-graves-ancient-nomads-speak.html?_r=2

LINK TO PAGE TWO http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/science/from-their-graves-ancient-nomads-speak.html?pagewanted=2&_r=2

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2012 at 13:58

New Norway Viking settlement discovered

Experts have found a hitherto unknown Viking area with the aid of modern science and no shovels, reports say.

Scientists using a magnetometer in Gokstad
Gokstad's grave mound can be seen in the backgroundScientists using a magnetometer in Gokstad
Photo: Norwegian Institute for Cultural heritage


Using a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and magnetometer, surveys have revealed the settlement in Sandefjord in Gokstadhaugen, eastern Norway, has 15 buildings, an 80-metre long street and a port.

Archaeologists from Oslo’s Museum of Cultural History and the Norwegian Institute for Cultural heritage Research (NIKU) were among those that made the discovery, in cooperation with Vestfold County.

Work in Gokstadhaugen began in 2011 with drilling there, as well as experts making geophysical surveys from the sea a northwards in what is called Gokstad Valley (Gokstaddalen).

NIKU’s Knut Paashe told Aftenposten, “There is no doubt that we have encountered a market town-like structure from the Viking age with houses and streets.”

Further investigations of the area can now take place following archaeologists’ confirmation a Viking settlement is present.

“We have identified a lot using technology. It helps us to find the location of the interesting places to dig. This means we never have to spend lots of time and money to dig where there is nothing,” county archaeologist Terje Gansum said to NRK.

Last month, NTNU Museum of Natural History and Archaeology personnel discovered an H sword in Melhus as a result of construction work in the area.

http://theforeigner.no/pages/news/new-norway-viking-settlement-discovered/

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2012 at 14:04

Remains found in Mexico came from ancient cemetery


A representative of Mexico’s main anthropology agency says the remains of 167 people found in a cave in the country’s south were part of a pre-Hispanic cemetery dating back some 1,300 years.

The Chiapas state prosecutor’s office said authorities found the remains on Friday on the Nuevo Ojo de Agua ranch in a region where Central American migrants pass through while heading north. Local farmers had first come across the cave last week and had alerted authorities.

Emilio Gallaga of the national anthropology institute says the first test results show the remains come from a still-unspecified pre-Hispanic community dating to the eighth century. He says clay artwork that could have come from a pre-Hispanic group was also found in the cave.

http://articles.boston.com/2012-03-11/news/31145796_1_ancient-cemetery-central-american-migrants-cave

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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2012 at 23:55

Mysterious dark-skinned stone age people found

Written By Jennifer Viegas-Published March 14, 2012-Discovery News


A newly found Stone Age people featured darker skin, an unusual mix of primitive and modern features and had a strong taste for venison.  Fossils of the so-called "Red Deer Cave People" were unearthed in southwest China and may represent a new species of human. he fossils from two caves, date to just 14,500 to 11,500 years ago. Until now, no hominid remains younger than 100,000 years old have been found in mainland East Asia resembling any other species than our own.

"We have discovered a new population of prehistoric humans whose skulls are an unusual mosaic of primitive, modern and unique features -- like nothing we've seen before," said Darren Curnoe, associate professor in the School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales and lead author of a study about the find in the journal PLoS One.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/03/14/mysterious-dark-skinned-stone-age-people-found/#ixzz1p9sAUTma



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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2012 at 23:59

South Korean Scientists Plan to Clone Woolly Mammoth

SEOUL –  A South Korean research laboratory led by a controversial scientist said Tuesday it planned to work with a Russian university to clone a woolly mammoth, the Yonhap news agency reported.  The Sooam Biotech Research Foundation (Sooam BRF) signed a research pact with Russia's North-Eastern Federal University to clone the creature, which became extinct 4,500 years ago, from remains found in Siberia.  Scientists plan to replace the nuclei of egg cells from a modern Indian elephant with those taken from the mammoth's somatic cells, which could produce embryos with mammoth DNA. The embryos will then be implanted into the elephant for a 22-month pregnancy, which will hopefully produce a live mammoth.

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Mar-2012 at 00:49

Megalithic burial site, also a place of worship, unearthed

Researchers from the city-based Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute recently unearthed four megalithic burials at Hirapur in Chandrapur district, which, the researchers say, were used for more than just burying the dead.

Material evidences unearthed at the excavation sites testify that these burials or 'megaliths', dating between the 3rd and the 2nd century BC, were also worshipped by the local rural communities, and guarded with Laterite protection walls. Archaeologists said this is perhaps the first time that a megalithic structure has been found to have been worshipped. Archaeologists said the megaliths might have been erected and protected during the Asmaka Janapada or in the Satavahana periods.

Archaeologists have termed the four non-sepulchral megaliths as unique burial-cum-temple architectural structures, discovered for the first time in the South Asian megalithic culture.

The excavation was carried out under the supervision of Kantikumar A Pawar, assistant professor at the Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune. Ismail Kellelu, Ganesh Halkare, Amod Gaurkar, Kim Yongjun and Akash Srinivas were also part of the research team.

"One of the four megaliths is intact. In fact, it is huge and is perhaps the largest in India. It was made of laterite and sandstone. The height of the dolmens' standing stones is about 10 ft, whereas the covering capstone is 17 by 15 ft (length) in size and weighs 80 tons. The structure has two separate chambers with big rectangular portholes (usually small circular window) designed for offering food to the dead as well as for worshipping them," said Pawar.

According to archaeologists, since megalithic people believed in life after death, there have been evidences of materials offered to appease the dead. "We have also found glass bangles, a copper bangle, stone Celt and various potsherds (fragment of broken pottery) from the site. The second and third megaliths found were quite small, yielding only a few potsherds, some iron ore and its residue, which suggested that the nearby area could be used for iron smelting purposes. This is interesting because megalithic burials have never before yielded iron ore," said Pawar.

The fourth megalith had a unique architectural pattern. "This single-chambered structure was probably disturbed by human activities, evident by its missing cap-stone. The chamber itself is floored by seven properly dressed laterite blocks, which are placed in the east-west direction. In the west corner of this chamber, above the dressed stone block, a huge ceramic assemblage was placed. Similarly, in the eastern corner, close to the northern standing stone, one punch marked coin, having the 'Three-arch hill' symbol was placed. This shows some sort of royal treatment conferred upon the dead buried inside the chamber," he said.

Pawar added that the arrangement goes on to show that the location of all the burials could have been the result of meticulous planning and deep devotion for the dead. "Adjoining thisburial is a huge, enclosing linear laterite structure, 11 metres in length towards the northern direction. It then turns west and again towards south, serving the purpose of a protection wall, which is first of its kind evidence available anywhere in Indian sub-continent," he added.

Though the excavated site falls under the jurisdiction of the forest department, a major portion of it is inhabited by villagers.

"And yet, this place is used as a cremating ground by the villagers. This shows a continuation in the tradition of parting with the dead bodies at the same place. In addition, this is perhaps the first site in the region which was not only used for burying the dead, but was also used as a place of worship," said Pawar.

He said given the site's rich archaeological and cultural nuances, the urgency to preserve it cannot be discounted. "In fact, one of the double-chambered megaliths found is still worshipped by a tribal community after they harvest their fields," he said. Other necessary details would come out only after the remaining excavation of this site. "Also, Carbon-14 dating would also be done to assign an exact date to this site," he added.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-03-12/pune/31152337_1_megalithic-iron-ore-hirapur

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Mar-2012 at 16:19

New viking village discovered


orwegian archeologists have discovered the foundations of at least 15 buildings, an 80-meter long street and a harbour near Gokstadhaugen burial mound in Sandefjord.

So far, the ground hasn’t even been broken into. The remains that could potentially be part of an entire village have been located by using ground penetrating radar and magnetometer.

Archeologists from the Cultural and Historic museum in Oslo, the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) and Vestfold County made the discovery at Gokstadhaugen, where the famous Gokstad viking ship and burial ground were also discovered in 1880.

"This is a very exciting and surprising find that shows there have been several buildings located close to the burial mound Gokstadhaugen," Professor Jan Bill at the University of Oslo tells NRK.

Another discovery was made back in the mid-90s, when archeologist Terje Gansum excavated in the area in relation to a road construction. He tells NRK that he saw several artifacts back then, and he is not surprised by the latest discovery.

"This find simply shows that it is useful to start this type of work in classic, familiar places like Gokstadhaugen," Gansum explains.

The archeologists have already decided that more searches will be conducted this summer. "We can map out a lot by using technology," Gansum says. "This helps us save lots of time and money spent on excavations."

The discovery was made with help from Austrian experts who brought the equipment needed to help confirm what was believed buried underneath the top soil.

http://www.norwaypost.no/news/new-viking-village-discovered-26610.html

What a handsome figure of a dragon. No wonder I fall madly in love with the Alani Dragon now, the avatar, it's a gorgeous dragon picture.
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