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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Archaeology news updates
    Posted: 24-Mar-2012 at 17:44
One step forward for early hominins
One step forward for early hominins
A

study published in the journal Current Biology this week (Tuesday, 20 March), investigated the behaviour of modern-day chimpanzees as they competed for food resources, in an effort to understand why our “hominin”, or “human-like” ancestors became bipedal.

Its findings suggest that chimpanzees switch to moving on two limbs instead of four in situations where they need to monopolise a resource, usually because it may not occur in plentiful supply in their habitat, making it hard for them to predict when they will see it again. Standing on two legs allows them to carry much more in one go because it frees up their hands.

The joint University of Cambridge and Kyoto University team of biological anthropologists, led by PhD student Susana Carvalho and Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa, conclude that our earliest hominin ancestors may have lived in shifting environmental conditions in which certain resources were not always easy to come by. Over time, intense bursts of bipedal activity may have led to anatomical changes that in turn became the subject of natural selection where competition for food or other resources was strong.

Professor William McGrew, from the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, said: “Bipedality as the key human adaptation may be an evolutionary product of this strategy persisting over time. Ultimately, it set our ancestors on a separate evolutionary path.”

Lack of evidence in the fossil record means that researchers remain divided over when these ancestors became bipedal. It is widely believed that they did so because of climatic changes, which reduced forested areas and forced them to move longer distances across open terrain more often.

Adult male carries three papayas (one in each hand and one in mouth) during crop-raiding. Image: Current Biology

Adult male carries three papayas (one in each hand and one in mouth) during crop-raiding. Image: Current Biology

What forced our ancestors onto two legs?

The new research digs deeper, however, by attempting to explain what particular pressures within that context forced those hominins to modify their posture and resort to moving on their legs.

The team theorised that the reason for this change may have something to do with the need to transport resources with maximum efficiency. Because bipedal movement is sometimes observed in modern great apes, they decided to monitor the behaviour of chimpanzees and, if possible, determine when and why they resorted to moving on two legs.

Two surveys were carried out. The first was in Kyoto University’s “outdoor laboratory” of a natural clearing in Bossou Forest, Guinea. Here, the researchers allowed the chimpanzees access to different combinations of two different types of nut – the oil palm nut, which is naturally widely available, and the coula nut, which is not, so the latter is an “unpredictable” resource.

Monitoring  behaviour under test conditions

Adult male carries both anvil and hammer stones (anvil in left hand, hammer in left foot) and Coula edulis nuts (in mouth and right hand) during an experimental nut-cracking session, before depositing items and starting to crack nuts. Inset shows two species of nuts presented at outdoor laboratory (left: Elaeis guineensis, right: Coula edulis). Image: Current Biology

Adult male carries both anvil and hammer stones (anvil in left hand, hammer in left foot) and Coula edulis nuts (in mouth and right hand) during an experimental nut-cracking session, before depositing items and starting to crack nuts. Inset shows two species of nuts presented at outdoor laboratory (left: Elaeis guineensis, right: Coula edulis). Image: Current Biology

Their behaviour was monitored in three different situations: (a) when only oil palm nuts were available, (b) when a small number of coula nuts was available, and (c) when coula nuts were the majority available resource.

When the rare coula nuts were available only in small numbers, the chimpanzees transported far more in one go. Similarly, when coula nuts were the majority resource, the chimpanzees ignored the oil palm nuts altogether. Clearly, the chimpanzees regarded the coula nuts as a more highly-prized resource and competed for them more intensely.

In such high-competition settings, the frequency of cases in which the chimpanzees started moving on two legs increased by a factor of four. Not only was it obvious that bipedal movement allowed them to carry more of this precious resource, but also that they were actively trying to move as much as they could in one go by using everything available – even their mouths.

The second survey was a 14-month study of Bossou chimpanzees crop-raiding, a situation in which they have to compete for rare and unpredictable resources. Here, 35% of their activity involved some sort of bipedal movement, and once again, this behaviour appeared to be linked to a clear attempt to carry as much as possible in one go.

The study concludes that unpredictable resources, like the coula nut in the field survey, are seen by chimpanzees as more valuable. When these resources are scarce and access to them is on a “first-come, first-served” basis, they are more prone to switch to bipedal movement, because it allows them to carry more of the resource at once.

For our early ancestors, unpredictable access to vital resources may have been a frequent occurrence because of climatic shifts and rapid environmental change. Those who resorted to bipedal movement may have had an advantage, and gradually, anatomical change may have taken place as they used this strategy again and again. Once that happened, ability to move more easily on two legs may have become a selection pressure, so that over many generations, it became the norm.

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/03/2012/one-step-forward-for-early-hominins



Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 24-Mar-2012 at 17:48
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Mar-2012 at 17:58

Mozart piano composition uncovered in Austria


A previously unknown piece by Mozart, believed to have been written when he was as young as 10, has been uncovered in Austria.

The piece, thought to have been composed in 1767 or 1768, was found in a notebook in an attic.

Researchers recently determined there was strong evidence Allegro Molto is a Mozart composition.

It was transcribed into a notebook bearing the name Del Signore Giovane Wolfgango Mozart.

Although the music was not written in the hand of Mozart or his father Leopold, historians at Salzburg's Mozarteum foundation strongly believe it is by the burgeoning composer.

Music expert Hildegard Herrmann-Schneider said only Leopold Mozart used this name when writing down his son's name.

The 160-page handwritten notebook, dated 1780, also contained musical works written by Mozart's father.

Austrian musician Florian Birsak performed the four-minute piece at Mozart's childhood home on his original piano.

He said: "It's not just anyone's piece, there is already a touch of the great Mozart he later became."

In 2009, researchers uncovered two pieces of music believed to have been written when Mozart was seven or eight.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17490070



Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 24-Mar-2012 at 18:00
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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Mar-2012 at 10:55
Titanoboa! 45-foot-long prehistoric snake amazes NYC
Written By Jennifer WelshPublished March 26, 2012LiveScience

NEW YORK – A strange sight accosted visitors at Grand Central Station last week: a gigantic snake. A life-size model of the 60-million-year-old Titanoboa has taken stage at the train terminal, an advertisement for a new documentary on the Smithsonian Channel.
"That thing would swallow me whole," Grand Central visitor Sarah Bouroque said when she saw the giant snake. "I'd have to run and hide if I saw that thing in real life."
Remains of the ancient Titanoboa snake, which weighed in at a whopping 2,500 pounds (more than 1,100 kilograms) and a length of 48 feet (almost 15 meters), were first found near fossilized plants, giant turtles and crocodiles dating back to the Paleocene Epoch (about 60 million years ago). This was when the world’s first known rain forest emerged, and dinosaurs no longer ruled the Earth. "It was an actual animal? A real animal? It's huge, that's impressive," visitor Chris Wood said, eyeballing the giant reptile. "It's pretty impressive — I don’t know what to make of it, really."

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/03/26/grand-centrals-gigantic-snake-amazes-commuters/Titanoboa! 45-foot-long prehistoric snake amazes NYC
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 11:38

Study Shows Mixing Between Prehistoric Populations of Europe and Africa


"..."It was very surprising to find that more than 35 percent of the sub-Saharan lineages in Europe arrived during a period that ranged from more than 11,000 years ago to the Roman Empire times," said senior study author Dr. Antonio Salas of the University of Santiago de Compostela. The other 65% of European lineages showing African lineage represent population groups that arrived more recently....

...The authors infer that these contacts were likely made via movements to and from North Africa over both land connections and coastal routes, possibly as groups in Europe migrated south because of expanding glaciation of the Ice Age, producing southward pressure on populations, and returning northward as glaciation receded. The mixing thus may have occurred in tandem with the ebb and flow of the Ice Age glacial movements.  ..." http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/march-2012/article/study-shows-mixing-between-prehistoric-populations-of-europe-and-africa
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 11:45
"...An ancient stone monolith in England was likely an astronomical marker, according to new archaeological evidence.The 4,000-year-old stone is triangular in shape and angles up toward geographic south. Its orientation and slant angle are aligned with the altitude of the sun at midsummer, researchers said.And new evidence shows that there are packing stones around the base of the 7.2-foot tall (2.2-meter) monolith, indicating that it was placed carefully in its location and position, they added.

"Given the sensitivity of the site, we can't probe under the surface of the soil," astronomer Daniel Brown of Nottingham Trent University in England said in a statement. "However, through our survey, we have found a higher density of packing stones on one side, supporting the case that the stone has been orientated intentionally."

The monolith is located at a ridge called Gardom's Edge in the Peak District National Park near Manchester, an area that shows evidence of human occupation extending far back though its history. Other ancient monuments such as Bronze Age roundhouses and a late Neolithic enclosure have been found nearby.The seemingly astronomical monolith is thought to have been erected by Neolithic people around 2000 B.C.

"The stone would have been an ideal marker for a social arena for seasonal gatherings," Brown said. "It's not a sundial in the sense that people would have used it to determine an exact time. We think that it was set in position to give a symbolic meaning to its location, a bit like the way that some religious buildings are aligned in a specific direction for symbolic reasons."...
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46868977/ns/technology_and_science-space/#.T3H39Wve58E

D. Brown / Nottingham Trent University
This 4,000-year-old monolith in England may have been an ancient astronomical tool to mark the seasons, according to archaeological evidence.



Edited by Don Quixote - 28-Mar-2012 at 11:45
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 17:01

DNA traces cattle back to a small herd domesticated around 10,500 years ago


"...All cattle are descended from as few as 80 animals that were domesticated from wild ox in the Near East some 10,500 years ago, according to a new genetic study.

An international team of scientists from the CNRS and National Museum of Natural History in France, the University of Mainz in Germany, and UCL in the UK were able to conduct the study by first extracting DNA from the bones of domestic cattle excavated in Iranian archaeological sites. These sites date to not long after the invention of farming and are in the region where cattle were first domesticated.

The team examined how small differences in the DNA sequences of those ancient cattle, as well as cattle living today, could have arisen given different population histories. Using computer simulations they found that the DNA differences could only have arisen if a small number of animals, approximately 80, were domesticated from wild ox (aurochs).

The study is published in the current issue of the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. Dr Ruth Bollongino of CNRS, France, and the University of Mainz, Germany; lead author of the study, said: "Getting reliable DNA sequences from remains found in cold environments is routine.

"That is why mammoths were one of the first extinct species to have their DNA read. But getting reliable DNA from bones found in hot regions is much more difficult because temperature is so critical for DNA survival. This meant we had to be extremely careful that we did not end up reading contaminating DNA sequences from living, or only recently dead cattle."

The number of animals domesticated has important implications for the archaeological study of domestication...." http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-03/ucl-dtc032712.php

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 17:06
And a follow-up on the Gardom's Edge monolith:

Evidence Stacks Up That Monolith at Gardom's Edge Is Astronomically Aligned


"...The 3-D modelling shows that during the winter half-year, the slanted side of the stone would remain in permanent shadow; during most of the summer half-year it would only be illuminated during the morning and afternoon; close to midsummer it would be illuminated all day. The researchers are currently backing up the model by gathering contemporary photographic evidence of the stone.

"The stone would have been an ideal marker for a social arena for seasonal gatherings," said Dr Brown. "It's not a sundial in the sense that people would have used it to determine an exact time. We think that it was set in position to give a symbolic meaning to its location, a bit like the way that some religious buildings are aligned in a specific direction for symbolic reasons."

The researchers hope that the new evidence will support the case for a wider archaeological survey of the site.

"The use of shadow casting in monuments of this period is quite rare in the British Isles," said Dr Brown. "But there are some examples including New Grange, Ireland, and some Clava cairns in the north-east of Scotland that have been proposed to include the intentional use of shadows. Both are associated to burial sites using the symbolism of a cyclic light and shadow display to represent eternity. Given the proximity of the Neolithic enclosure and possible ritual importance of this site, the Gardom's Edge monolith could be another such example."..." http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120327093532.htm

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 17:17

"...Archaeologists in Greece have stumbled upon the remains of a sanctuary to Asclepios, the ancient god of healing, during the construction of a highway in central Greece, a project official said on Monday. “We were fortunate enough to find this previously unknown sanctuary,” supervising archaeologist Maria-Fotini Papaconstantinou said.
She added that her team had “raced against time” to study and relocate the findings before the bulldozers moved in. “It was just before the deadline for excavation when we would have had to hand over the site to construction,” she said. “In six months we carried out work that could have taken at least two years.”
The sanctuary was found some 200 kilometres north of Athens on the outskirts of the ancient port town of Dafnounta, near the present city of Lamia.
It dates to the fifth century BCE and is one of the oldest associated with the cult of Asclepios — and best preserved — ever discovered in Greece, the archaeologist said. Its modest size, 30 by 15 metres, suggests that it was near a small provincial town, she said. The remains of the sanctuary, which had been visited and cited by the Greek historian Strabon in the first century AD, were found during construction on the new Patras-Athens-Thessaloniki highway in 2005-2007. Its identity was confirmed thanks to the discovery of snake-shaped offerings and jewels and shards bearing the healing god’s name. Asclepios, son of the sun-god Apollo, carried a snake-entwined staff which remains a symbol of medicine today.
The entire sanctuary was removed stone by stone using cranes and rebuilt at an adjacent location as it lay directly in the highway’s path, Papacon-stantinou said. The largest Greek shrine to Asclepios is in Epidaurus in the southern Peloponnese peninsula...." http://www.asianage.com/newsmakers/greeks-find-remains-healing-sanctuary-492
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 17:21

Searching for the Venice of the Nile


"...Together with British, Egyptian and French colleagues, Graham is looking for ancient water channels. Texts and pictures from nearby temples and tombs suggest that sites on both sides of the Nile were connected by canals and navigable by boat. Descriptions of the Beautiful Festival of the Valley, for example, state that statues of gods were taken by barge from the temple complex at Karnak on the east bank to visit the dead kings at their mortuary temples on the west bank.

These descriptions have never been tested, and Graham wants hard evidence. If the waterways existed, did they operate all year round or just during flood season? Were they also used to transport supplies, including the immense stones used to build the temples?

His previous work at Karnak has already changed ideas about the layout of the Nile's east bank. It had been assumed that the temple was always on the riverbank, as it is now, but with Judith Bunbury of the University of Cambridge, Graham has found that the Nile shifted course over the centuries. The temple was originally on an island in the river, which would have been submerged each year as the Nile flooded.

Scholars knew that Karnak symbolised the ancient Egyptians' view of how the world was created - as a "primeval mound" emerging from infinite waters - but the finding suggests that Karnak demonstrated this physically...."http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21328574.800-searching-for-the-venice-of-the-nile.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news


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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 17:36

Greek police recover ancient statue from goat pen


"... ATHENS, Greece — Greek police recovered an ancient statue that was illegally excavated and hidden in a goat pen near Athens, and arrested the goat herder and another man who were allegedly trying to sell the work for (EURO)500,000 ($667,000).

The marble statue of a young woman dates to about 520 B.C. and belongs to the kore type, a police statement said Wednesday. Police photos showed the 1.2-meter (4-foot) work to be largely intact, lacking the left forearm and plinth.

Although dozens of examples of the kore statue and its male equivalent, the kouros, are displayed in Greek and foreign museums, the type is considered very important in the development and understanding of Greek art. New discoveries in good condition are uncommon...."

Greece Looted Statue

http://www.thestate.com/2012/03/28/2211416/greek-police-recovers-ancient.html


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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 17:41

Skye cave find western Europe's 'earliest string instrument'


"...Archaeologists believe they have uncovered the remains of the earliest stringed instrument to be found so far in western Europe.The small burnt and broken piece of carved piece of wood was found during an excavation in a cave on Skye.Archaeologists said it was likely to be part of the bridge of a lyre dating to more than 2,300 years ago.Music archaeologist Dr Graeme Lawson said the discovery marked a "step change" in music history.The Cambridge-based expert said: "It pushes the history of complex music back more than a thousand years, into our darkest pre-history.

"And not only the history of music but more specifically of song and poetry, because that's what such instruments were very often used for."The earliest known lyres date from about 5,000 years ago, in what is now Iraq, and these were already complicated and finely-made structures."But here in Europe even Roman traces proved hard to locate. Pictures, maybe, but no actual remains."

The remains, which were unveiled in Edinburgh, were found in High Pasture Cave, where Bronze and Iron Age finds have been made previously.Cultural historian Dr Purser said: "What, for me, is so exciting about this find is that it confirms the continuity of a love of music amongst the Western Celts.

Part of the instrument. Pic: Historic Scotland Archaeologists said the find marked a "step change" in music history

"Stringed instruments, being usually made of wood, rarely survive in the archaeological record, but they are referred to in the very earliest literature, and, in various forms, were to feature on many stone carvings in Scotland and Ireland, and to become emblematic in both countries."Steven Birch, an archaeologist involved in the excavation, said deeper sections of the cave were reached using a flight of stone steps.

He said: "Descending the steep and narrow steps, the transition from light to dark transports you out of one world into a completely different realm, where the human senses are accentuated."Within the cave, sound forms a major component of this transformation, the noise of the underground stream in particular producing a calming environment."

Dr Fraser Hunter, principal curator of Iron Age and Roman Collections at National Museums Scotland, said the fragment of musical instrument put "sound into the silent past".Culture and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop added: "This is an incredible find and it clearly demonstrates how our ancestors were using music and ritual in their lives."The evidence shows that Skye was a gathering place over generations and that it obviously had an important role to play in the celebration and ritual of life more than 2,000 years ago."..." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-17537147

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 18:07

'Lucy' Lived Among Close Cousins: Discovery of Foot Fossil Confirms Two Human Ancestor Species Co-Existed


"...ScienceDaily (Mar. 28, 2012) — A team of scientists has announced the discovery of a 3.4 million-year-old partial foot from the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia. The fossil foot did not belong to a member of “Lucy’s” species, Australopithecus afarensis, the famous early human ancestor. Research on this new specimen indicates that more than one species of early human ancestor existed between 3 and 4 million years ago with different methods of locomotion....

....“The Burtele partial foot clearly shows that at 3.4 million years ago, Lucy’s species, which walked upright on two legs, was not the only hominin species living in this region of Ethiopia,” said lead author and project leader Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, curator of physical anthropology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. “Her species co-existed with close relatives who were more adept at climbing trees, like ‘Ardi’s’ species, Ardipithecus ramidus, which lived 4.4 million years ago.”

The partial foot is the first evidence for the presence of at least two pre-human species with different modes of locomotion contemporaneously living in eastern Africa around 3.4 million years ago. While the big toe of the foot in Lucy’s species was aligned with the other four toes for human-like bipedal walking, the Burtele foot has an opposable big toe like the earlier Ardi.


The Burtele partial foot (BRT-VP-2/73). A laboratory photo after cleaning and preparation. It is shown here in its anatomically articulated form. (Credit: © The Cleveland Museum of Natural History Photo courtesy: Yohannes Haile-Sel

“This discovery was quite shocking,” said co-author and project co-leader Dr. Bruce Latimer of Case Western Reserve University. “These fossil elements represent bones we’ve never seen before. While the grasping big toe could move from side to side, there was no expansion on top of the joint that would allow for expanded range of movement required for pushing off the ground for upright walking. This individual would have likely had a somewhat awkward gait when on the ground.”...

...The fossils were found below a sandstone layer. Using the argon-argon radioactive dating method, their age was determined to be younger than 3.46 million years, said co-author Dr. Beverly Saylor of Case Western Reserve University. “Nearby fossils of fish, crocodiles and turtles, and physical and chemical characteristics of sediments show the environment was a mosaic of river and delta channels adjacent to an open woodland of trees and bushes,” said Saylor. “This fits with the fossil, which strongly indicates a hominin adapted to living in trees, at the same time ‘Lucy’ was living on land.”..." http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120328135930.htm

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 18:47

Archaeologists discover earliest known metal bit


"...The earliest known metal equestrian bit has been unearthed by archaeologists in Israel.The bit was discovered in an equid burial site at Tel-Haror, and had probably been used on a donkey.Archaeologists led by Professor Eliezer Oren, from Ben Gurion University,  made the discovery in a layer of material dating from 1750 BC to 1650 BC, known as the Middle Bronze IIB Period.It is among a growing number of sites in the Near East yielding the remains of horses and donkeys...

...The southeastern wall of the burial edifice was overlaid by a thick mudbrick partition that surrounded a nearby temple complex.Klenck, an archaeologist specialising in the analysis of animal remains, noted the animal was a donkey, as evidenced by foot bone measurements and traits on the grinding surfaces of its teeth.Klenck said the site yielded the earliest direct evidence of a metal equestrian bit.
“Until the excavation at Tel Haror, archaeologists had only indirect evidence for the use of bits,” he said.

“An example of this indirect evidence is wear marks on equid teeth at the fortress of Buhen in contexts dating to the 20th century BC.“At Tel Haror, we retrieved the actual metal device.”

Round plates on either end of the ancient bit feature triangular spikes that pressured the lips of the equid if the reins were pulled from one direction. Other discoveries in recent years in the Near East have painted a picture revealing the extensive use of donkeys and horses in ancient cultures.

The Vulture Stele, in Mesopotamia, dating to 2600BC to 2350BC, known as the Early Dynastic III period, portrays an equid pulling a chariot-like vehicle.Various Mesopotamian manuscripts dating to this period mention the horse, donkey, hemione and hybrids such as the mule.From Sumeria, terracotta reliefs from the early second millennium BC show equids pulling a chariot and a human riding horseback.

Hittite art from the 13th century BC, in modern Turkey, show a larger species of equid, perhaps a horse, pulling a chariot with three soldiers, in contrast to smaller equids in Egyptian murals pulling chariots with only two men.Horse bones were found at Tell el-’Ajjul, in Israel, in contexts dated to around 3400BC and, in Turkey, at Bogazkoy, from the 17th century BC.Archaeologists excavated donkey remains at Tell Brak in Mesopotamia dating between 2580BC and 2455BC.

Egyptian donkey burials dating to 2000 BC to 1550 BC, known as the Middle Bronze II periods, include those found at Inshas, Tell el-Farasha, Tell el-Maskhuta, and Tell el-Dab’a.From similar time periods in the Levant – the area including most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories – archaeologists have excavated donkeys at Tell el-’Ajjul and Jericho...." http://horsetalk.co.nz/2012/03/20/archaeologists-discover-earliest-known-metal-bit/





Edited by Don Quixote - 29-Mar-2012 at 09:56
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  Quote Centrix Vigilis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Mar-2012 at 08:49
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

S. T. Friedman


Pilger's law: 'If it's been officially denied, then it's probably true'

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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Mar-2012 at 11:20

Fossilized poop reveals ancient hyena's main dish

Written By Jennifer Welsh-Published March 28, 2012-LiveScience


By reading the genes in ancient poop, researchers have uncovered the diet and descendents of the cave hyena, which roamed throughout Eurasia alongside the Neanderthals.

The cave hyena, named Crocuta crocuta spelaea, lived for about 1 million years in Eurasia, before dying out some 10,000 to 30,000 years ago. Not only were they about 25 percent larger than modern hyenas, they were also more powerful and had a stronger bite, study researcher Jean-Marc Elalouf, of the Instituteof Biology and Technology Saclay, in France, told LiveScience. The new data suggest that these prehistoric predators were probably a subspecies of the modern spotted hyena and liked to dine on red deer.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/03/28/fossilized-poop-reveals-ancient-hyenas-main-entre/#ixzz1qWVxWVlO





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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Mar-2012 at 12:42

1,000-year-old skeleton found at Taichung dig


http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2012/03/29/2003528985

"...Three human skeletons were recently unearthed at the Chung-she archeological site in Greater Taichung, a finding that a local archeologist described on Monday as a significant discovery.

One of the skeletons dates back about 1,000 years, the latter stages of the Fanzaiyuan culture, said archeologist Liu Yi-chang (劉益昌), a researcher at Academia Sinica’s Institute of History and Philology.

The skeleton is believed to be that of a middle-aged female, about 1.62m tall, he said.

It was found face down with both arms behind its back. The other two skeletons have not yet been completely analyzed, he said.

The three skeletons were discovered at a construction site for a road in the city, said Liu, who has been in charge of the excavation of the site, which is expected to be completed at the end of May.

Liu said the construction project would shift into a higher gear soon, which means he and his team must speed up their work to recover as many artifacts as possible before the site is covered in concrete.

The archeological team has also unearthed pottery and agate pieces at the site that date back 1,800 years. An entire village, complete with a drainage system and stilt houses, has been unearthed as well, he said.

The Chung-she archeological site, uncovered in 1997, contains evidence of multiple cultures and is spread over an area of about 1 million square meters...."

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Mar-2012 at 12:46

Rare Animal-Shaped Mounds Discovered in Peru by MU Anthropologist


"...COLUMBIA, Mo. — For more than a century and a half, scientists and tourists have visited massive animal-shaped mounds, such as Serpent Mound in Ohio, created by the indigenous people of North America. But few animal effigy mounds had been found in South America until University of Missouri anthropology professor emeritus Robert Benfer identified numerous earthen animals rising above the coastal plains of Peru, a region already renowned for the Nazca lines, the ruined city of Chan Chan, and other cultural treasures....

...Benfer identified the mounds, which range from five meters (16.5 feet) to 400 meters (1,312 feet) long in each of the six valleys he surveyed in coastal Peru. The mounds pre-date ceramics and were probably built using woven baskets to carry and pile up rock and soil.

Like the Nazca lines, which include a series of giant animal outlines drawn on the ground to the south, the animal mounds were best observed from a higher vantage point. Google Earth images of the mounds revealed the shapes of birds, including a giant condor, a 5,000 year-old orca, a duck, and a caiman/puma monster seen in bone and rock carvings from the area.

“The finding of animal effigy mounds where there were none before changes our conception of early Peruvian prehistory,” Benfer said. “That they probably represent the Andean zodiac is also a new find. A controversial interpretation of some Nazca figures as representations of the zodiac is supported by these mounds.”

Benfer suggested the structures may have been built as terrestrial manifestations of constellations the ancient Peruvians saw in the stars above. The mounds not only represented the stars, they aligned with them. So far, Benfer has found astronomical orientations at every giant mound....

...Benfer suggested the structures may have been built as terrestrial manifestations of constellations the ancient Peruvians saw in the stars above. The mounds not only represented the stars, they aligned with them. So far, Benfer has found astronomical orientations at every giant mound.

For example, at the Chillón Valley site, an earthen condor’s charcoal eye lined up with the Milky Way when viewed from a nearby temple. The monstrous caiman/puma mound aligned with the June solstice when viewed from the same temple.

According to Benfer, astronomer priests may have made directed construction of the mounds and then made observations of the sky and offerings to the Earth from atop the earthen creatures. For the ancients, having a celestial calendar allowed farmers and fisherman to prepare for the year ahead...."

http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2012/0328-rare-animal-shaped-mounds-discovered-in-peru-by-mu-anthropologist/

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Mar-2012 at 12:49

Archaeologist investigates legend of mythical ruler of ancient Peru


"Long before the Spanish arrived in Peru in 1530 and brought with them a written language with which to record history, legends about ancient Peru were passed down through generations by oral “historians” who were trained to flawlessly recount these stories of mythical heroes and villains.

Among the most colorful of these stories was the legend of Naymlap, the fearless founder of a centuries-old dynasty that supposedly ruled the Lambayeque Valley in northern Peru.
 As the legend goes, Naymlap arrived with a vast fleet of balsa rafts carrying an entourage that included a chief wife and many concubines. He also brought with him an idol made of green stone, and he built a palace where it was installed. In his court were a trumpeter who blew through shells much prized by the Indians; a servant who scattered the dust of pulverized seashells on the ground where Naymlap tread; and servants who tended his every need, from an official bather to the keeper of his feathered shirts...."
...
Throughout Naymlap’s long reign, the tale continued, people enjoyed peace until his death, kept secret by his attendants who — fearing that his followers would find out their venerated leader had succumbed to this human fate — buried him in the same room where he had lived. Saddened by his mysterious disappearance, many of his followers abandoned their homes to find him.

The ancient search for Naymlap was, in one sense, re-launched in modern times by an internationally known UCLA archaeologist who set out in 1980 to determine whether the story could actually have occurred in real life by excavating two adjacent sites in the Lambayeque Valley: Chotuna and Chornancap...."
http://today.ucla.edu/portal/ut/archaeologist-sets-out-to-validate-230460.aspx
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Mar-2012 at 12:53
More on Skye and the oldest string instrument found in Europe, 2300 years ago
"...The earliest known lyres date from about 5,000 years ago, in what is now Iraq: and these were already complicated and finely-made structures. But in Europe even Roman traces proved hard to locate, with many references and images but no actual remains.

The location of the find is exciting in itself, as here is an object which places the Hebrides, and by association the neighbouring mainlands, in a musical relationship not only with the rest of the Barbarian world but also with famous civilisations. It now becomes a world that was held together not just by technology and trade but also by something as ephemeral and wonderful as music and poetry and song.

Digital reconstruction with strings shown (AOC)

Digital reconstruction with strings shown

The mysterious cave

High Pasture Cave on the island of Skye is one of an entirely new category of archaeological site – shedding light on the life, death and thinking of Iron Age people. It’s marked by fire and feasting. In mid-winter, sacrifices of as many as 50 piglets could be made, their bones deposited in the cave, along with many other gifts for the gods.  But there was also death here, in this cave with its underground stream. The bones of a woman, a very young baby and a foetus were offered up, covered by stones on a ritual stairway to the depths. The foetal bones had been mixed with the bones of a fetal pig. Isotope analysis even showed that the woman and the babies were related....

...


In 2006, 80 fragments of bone and antler were uncovered, the majority typical of Iron Age domestic assemblages, such as points, pins, needles, handles and fittings. But there was also a number of unusual finds consisting of a cache of seven bone/antler points, their tips showing polish and fine circumferential wear. The wear pattern was unusual and the only comparanda were for tuning pegs for lyres, the wear arising from the movement of the strings. These are a highly unusual find, but there is a similar example from Cnip, Lewis (Hunter 2006, 147-8, fig 3.24a).

Seven antler lyre tuning pegs found in 2006. (High Pastures Cave Project)

Seven antler lyre tuning pegs found in 2006. (High Pastures Cave Project)

The deposits from which the bridge was recovered date to between 450 to 550BCE, which may fit with the tuning pegs recovered in a cache from Bone Passage dating to around 500BCE.  A tentative reconstruction of the bridge fragment would indicate a six-stringed instrument, while the cache of tuning pegs also contained seven pegs. So, there is potentially more than one instrument deposited at this site....

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/03/2012/the-music-of-the-islands-2300-year-old-lyre-comes-to-life

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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Apr-2012 at 01:08

Humans used fire 1 million years ago, scientists say

Written By Charles Choi-Published April 02, 2012-LiveScience


Ash and charred bone, the earliest known evidence of controlled use of fire, reveal that human ancestors may have used fire a million years ago, a discovery that researchers say will shed light on this major turning point in human evolution.  Scientists analyzed material from Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa, a massive cavern located near the edge of the Kalahari Desert. Previous excavations there had uncovered an extensive record of human occupation.

Microscopic analysis revealed clear evidence of burning, such as plant ash and charred bone fragments. These materials were apparently burned in the cave, as opposed to being carried in there by wind or water, and were found alongside stone tools in a layer dating back about 1 million years. Surface fracturing of ironstone, the kind expected from fires, was also seen.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/04/02/our-ancestors-used-fire-million-years-ago-scientists-say/#ixzz1qx1Hnv5d
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