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Old August 6th, 2008 #1
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Default Finds, Digs, Discoveries

Archaeologists think they have found Germany's answer to the Stonehenge monument.
Old August 8th, 2008 #2
Alex Linder
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German scientists dig for their own Stonehenge

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Archaeologists have discovered traces of a Bronze Age place of worship in Germany in what they say might be the country's answer to Stonehenge.

Scientists from a university in Halle are excavating a roughly 4,000 year-old circular site in eastern Germany which contains graves that bear a strong resemblance to Stonehenge, a prehistoric stone circle of towering megaliths in southern Britain.

"It is the first finding of this kind on the European mainland which we have been able to fully excavate and which shows a structure we have until now only seen in Britain," Andre Spatzier, head of the excavation team, told Reuters TV.

He thinks rituals and ceremonies took place at the site, possibly even sacrifices.

"The way it is built, with many concentrated rings of graves, walls, palisades and pillars are very similar to the British monument at Stonehenge," added Spatzier.

The site, near the town of Poemmelte, was discovered through aerial photos which showed the formation of the graves in a ring with a diameter of about 80 meters (yards).

One difference to Stonehenge, however, is that the remains are made out of wood rather than stone.

So far the scientists have found few items such as bones or pieces of glass, but they expect to find more as the dig continues. The final results are expected to take up to three years.

Stonehenge goes back to 3,100 BC when native Neolithic people started its construction. There is no consensus among scholars on whether it was a temple, burial ground or an astronomical site.

(Reporting by Reuters Television, Writing by Madeline Chambers, editing by Paul Casciato)
Old August 8th, 2008 #3
Alex Linder
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Fully preserved Thracian chariot discovered near Elhovo
18:27 Fri 08 Aug 2008 - Svetlana Guineva

A team led by archaeologist Daniela Agre of Bulgaria's National Institute of Archaeology unearthed an ancient four–wheel chariot near the Borissovo village in the Elhovo region, dating back from the first half of the second century ACE, Focus news agency reported.

Along with the 1900-year-old chariot, in the funeral mound the team discovered shields, richly adorned in bronze, as well as table pottery and glass vessels. The finds led Agre to believe that she had come across the funeral of a wealthy Thracian aristocrat.

The chariot was fully preserved, which, the archaeologist said, was a rare circumstance and it was the first such case in Bulgaria.

Agre’s team also found the skeletons of two riding horses and some leather objects placed next to them, believed to be horse harnesses. The archaeologist suspected the horses have been sacrificed for the burial ceremony.

Agre has explained that the discovery could be traced back to the rule of Roman emperor Trajan (from 98 to 117 ACE), when Thrace was a Roman province. Thracian aristocrats, however, displayed loyalty by serving in the Roman army, and were able to preserve their privileges of nobility.
Old August 22nd, 2008 #4
Alex Linder
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Mummified Iceman's Ancient Job Determined

By Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer

Before his body froze and mummified, a now-famous Neolithic guy dubbed the Iceman took his last steps while donned in a coat and leggings made of sheep's fur and moccasins made of cattle leather. That was more than 5,000 years ago.

The 45-year-old man apparently trekked up the Schnalstal glacier in the Italian Alps before dying, and a new study reveals more about how he lived.

The body of the Iceman (also called tzi, Frozen Fritz and Similaun Man) was discovered in 1991 by accident by German tourists and made headlines around the world. At first he was thought to have died recently.

Since then, the ancient mummy has undergone a slew of examinations from which scientists have gleaned bits of information about the man’s last steps on Earth, ranging from his last meal (unleavened bread and meat) to the cause of death. The most recent verdict is the Iceman died of head trauma.

Still, questions have abounded regarding tzi's occupation, and the new findings provide clues.

"There is a long lasting debate about the socio-cultural state of Iceman's society," lead researcher Klaus Hollemeyer of Saarland University in Germany told LiveScience. "One fraction says he belongs to the gatherer-hunter society, which is more primitive than the more progressive pastoral-agricultural society which followed after."

While clothing made from domesticated animals would support him being a herdsman (pastoral-agricultural society), attire made from wild animals could suggest a hunter-gatherer, the researchers say. Although his clothes were known already to be made of animal skins, their exact origin was uncertain, with previous studies revealing conflicting results.

The new clothing discovery, detailed today in the journal Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, supports the idea that the Iceman herded sheep, cattle and perhaps goat.

The researchers used a mass spectrometer, which measures the heft and concentrations of atoms and molecules, to look for various proteins in hair samples taken from the Iceman's clothing, comparing the results with proteins from the hairs of modern-day animals, including goat, sheep, elk, wild boar and caribou.

"We found that the hairs came from sheep and cattle, just the types of animals that herdsmen care for during their seasonal migrations," Hollemeyer said.

Next, Hollemeyer hopes to use the same technique to analyze the fur from the Iceman's cap and soles of his shoes.
Old August 25th, 2008 #5
Alex Linder
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'Sensational' fossil illuminates birth of dinosaurs

By Harry de Quetteville
Last Updated: 2:01pm BST 22/08/2008

An archaeological dig in central Germany has unearthed fossils which could be the oldest record of dinosaur life ever.

The dinosaur find, at a quarry near the town of Bernburg 90 miles south-west of Berlin, appears to date from 250 million years ago.

Scientists previously believed that dinosaurs evolved from smaller reptilians around 235 million years ago.

But the new find could radically redraw archaeologists' understanding of the dawn of the Triassic age, and the birth of the dinosaur era.

"This is a spectacular, unique achievement," said regional archaeology chief Harald Meller, announcing the discovery.

He said that the crucial remnants * believed to be fossils of bone fragments - had been secured, but the German authorities called on amateur enthusiasts to stay away from the site, for fear of damaging potential further finds.

Other experts declared the dig of "sensational importance".

If confirmed, the find would add to a long list of landmark archaeological dinosaur discoveries in Germany, including the Archaeopteryx, which showed a link between dinosaurs and birds.

It was discovered in southern German in the 19th century, helping to cement the reputation of Darwin's theory of evolution.
Old August 27th, 2008 #6
Alex Linder
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Pre-Incan Wari Mummy found with BLUE eyes
Old August 28th, 2008 #7
Alex Linder
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'Complexity' of Neanderthal tools

Neanderthal flake or point (SPL)
Neanderthal tools were just as efficient as those made by our ancestors

Early stone tools developed by our species Homo sapiens were no more sophisticated than those used by our extinct relatives the Neanderthals.

That is the conclusion of researchers who recreated and compared tools used by these ancient human groups.

The findings cast doubt on suggestions that more advanced stone technologies gave modern humans a competitive edge over the Neanderthals.

The work by a US-British team appears in the Journal of Human Evolution.

The researchers recreated wide stone tools called "flakes", which were used by both Neanderthals and early modern humans.

We know that the Neanderthals were very capable technicians
Prof Chris Stringer, NHM

They also reconstructed "blades" - a narrower stone tool later adopted by Homo sapiens.

Some archaeologists often use the development of stone blades and their assumed efficiency as evidence for the superior intellect of our species.

The team analysed the data to compare the number of tools produced, how much cutting edge was created, the efficiency in consuming raw material and how long tools lasted.

They found no statistical difference in the efficiency of the two stone technologies.

In some respects, the flakes favoured by Neanderthals were even more efficient than the blades adopted by modern humans.

Pros and cons

The result casts doubt on the idea that blades were a significant technological advance, helping our ancestors out-compete, and eventually eradicate, their evolutionary cousins the Neanderthals.

The Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) appear in the fossil record about 400,000 years ago.

At their peak, these squat, physically powerful hunters dominated a wide area spanning Britain and Iberia in the west, Israel in the south and Siberia in the east.

Neanderthal (l) and Cro-Magnon (r) skulls (SPL)
Neanderthals (l) were different from our species (r), but not inferior
Meanwhile, Homo sapiens evolved in Africa, and displaced the Neanderthals after spreading into Europe about 40,000 years ago.

The last known evidence of Neanderthals comes from Gibraltar and is dated to between 28,000 and 24,000 years ago.

Lead author Metin Eren, from the University of Exeter, UK, said: "Technologically speaking, there is no clear advantage of one tool over the other.

"When we think of Neanderthals, we need to stop thinking in terms of 'stupid' or 'less advanced' and more in terms of 'different'."

He added: "Our research disputes a major pillar holding up the long-held assumption that Homo sapiens was more advanced than Neanderthals.

"It is time for archaeologists to start searching for other reasons why Neanderthals became extinct while our ancestors survived."

Greater variety

Professor Chris Stringer, head of human origins at London's Natural History Museum, said: "There are now very few palaeoanthropologists who consider the Neanderthals to have been 'stupid', or who consider that they died out because they made flake rather than blade tools."

Professor Stringer, who was not connected with the study, added: "We know that the Neanderthals were very capable technicians, and that their tools would have been excellent for activities such as butchery, working skins or wood.

"However, the blade tools manufactured by early modern humans in Europe were often modified for specialisation as piercers, chisels or engravers, and as parts of composite tools, such as harpoons.

"With modern humans we not only find a greater variety of tools, but also much greater working of difficult materials like bone, antler and ivory."

The authors of the paper in Journal of Human Evolution suggest that, since they conferred no technological advantage, modern humans may have used blades because they had cultural meaning.

"For early Homo sapiens colonizing Ice Age Europe, a new shared and flashy-looking technology might serve as one form of social glue by which larger social networks were bonded," said Mr Eren.
Old September 10th, 2008 #8
Robert Bandanza
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Default Pre-Islamic Necropolis Found in Northern Iran

TEHRAN (FNA)- Archeologists have discovered a burial ground and a unique burial ritual dating back to Sassanid and post-Islamic eras in northern Iran.

Recent excavations in the northern province of Mazandaran uncovered a burial ground, and brought to light a unique burial ritual.

Nails were discovered around the ancient bodies, but archeologists say that these did not come from any coffin. The nails were found in a deliberate pattern. One nail was found beside the knee, one beside the left shoulder, some on top of the head and a few others under the feet, CHN reported.

The specific practice has not been observed in any other historical study. Archeologists therefore believe the discovery of the burial ground could be of great importance.

The graves all belong to young people and children, and the nail patterns have turned into a puzzle which archeologists are keen to try and solve.

Silver spoons and bracelets, as well as turquoise beads were found near graves.

Further studies of the burial site and the relics are expected to reveal more clues as to the meaning behind the nails, and the identities of those buried.
Old October 21st, 2008 #9
Mike Mazzone of Palatine
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Be sure to check out link for pics.

Geologists discover 'dinosaur dancefloor' in remote American wilderness

By Claire Bates
Last updated at 3:38 PM on 21st October 2008

An amazing array of footprints made by more than 1,000 dinosaurs have been uncovered on the Arizona-Utah border in the U.S.

Scientists have likened the wealth of tracks and tail-drag marks on the three-quarter acre site to a crowded 'dinosaur dance floor.'

Geologist Winston Seiler with some of the dinosaur tracks he identified for his thesis as a University of Utah master's degree student. The tracks were made some 190 million years ago

They believe the remote dry wilderness was once a sandy desert oasis 190 million years ago. It was then in the tropics as part of the supercontinent Pangaea.

'We're looking at an area much like the Sahara Desert with blowing sand dunes,' geologist Winston Seiler reported in the international paleontology journal Palaios.

'Areas between these sand dunes could have had ponds - oases.'

This would explain the sheer number of tracks as the exhausted thirsty giants traveled to the watering hole.

'Unlike other trackways that may have several to dozens of footprint impressions, this particular surface has more than 1,000,' lead researcher Professor Marjorie Chan from Utah University said.

'It was a place that attracted a crowd, kind of like a dance floor.'

Tracks from sauropodomorphs - dinosaurs who walk on four legs - were found at the site

The range of tracks suggest at least four dinosaur species ranging from youngsters to adults visited the site.

'The different size tracks (from one to 20 inches long) may tell us that we are seeing mothers walking around with babies,' Seiler said.

He marked off 10 random plots of two square yards and counted 473 tracks - an average of 12 per square yard. His conservatively estimates the site has more than 1,000 tracks, but he and Chan believe there could be thousands.

They also discovered 2.4inch-wide tail-drag marks up to 24 feet long, which are particularly rare. There are fewer than a dozen such sites worldwide.

dinosaur tracks

Geologists believe these markings show dinosaur footprints and tail-drag marks. Dinosaur footprints are named by their shape because the species and genus of animal that made them isn't known

When the site was first visited in 2005, Professor Chan originally thought they were strange potholes caused by erosion. However, on closer examination she discovered dinosaur features such as obvious claw, toe and heel marks.

After the dinosaurs left their prints the trample surface was covered by shifting dunes, which eventually became Navajo Sandstone. Then the rock slowly eroded away exposing the tracks.

'The tracks will eventually erode too,' Seiler said.

(L) A 14-inch-long Sauropodomorph dinosaur track is two footprints in one. It was left by the front and back foot of a dinosaur that walked on four legs
(R) Scientists believe this 4-inch long Grallator dinosaur track was made by a tiny dinosaur only 3ft tall
Old November 24th, 2008 #10
Alex Linder
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Archaeologists have unearthed a well-preserved 1,800-year-old bronze chariot at an ancient Thracian tomb in southeastern Bulgaria, the head of the excavation said Friday.

"The lavishly ornamented four-wheel chariot dates back to the end of the second century A.D.," Veselin Ignatov told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the site, near the southeastern village of Karanovo.

He said it was found in a funerary mound that archaeologists believe was the grave of a wealthy Thracian aristocrat, as he was buried with his belongings.

Along with the chariot, which was decorated with scenes from mythology, the team unearthed well-preserved wooden and leather objects, some of which the archaeologists believe were horse harnesses.

In August, excavations at another ancient Thracian tomb in the same region revealed another four-wheel chariot.

About 10,000 Thracian mounds — some of them covering monumental stone tombs — are scattered across Bulgaria.

The Thracians were an ancient people who inhabited the lands of present-day Bulgaria and parts of modern Greece, Turkey, Macedonia and Romania between 4,000 B.C. and the 6th century A.D., when they were assimilated by the invading Slavs.
Old November 24th, 2008 #11
Alex Linder
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Metal detector man's 350,000 Iron Age neckband

A metal detector enthusiast discovered a 2,000-year-old golden neckband worth 350,000 while out looking for bits of Second World War aircraft.

By Stephen Adams, Arts Correspondent
Last Updated: 5:44PM GMT 20 Nov 2008

Maurice Richardson discovered the Iron Age gold and silver choker, known as a torc, in a Nottinghamshire field near his Newark home.

Archaeologists believe the torc, the most expensive single treasure find since 1996, was made by the Iceni tribe, once headed by Boudica, which had its power base in present-day East Anglia.

Four other similar torcs have been discovered, but they were all found some 100 miles away in Norfolk.

Dr Jeremy Hill, head of research at the British Museum, described the Newark torc as "probably the most significant find of Iron Age Celtic gold jewellery made in the last 50 years".

It suggested the Newark area was not the Iron Age backwater it was widely considered to be.

"The person who owned an item like this was someone of tremendous power and wealth," he said.

He thought it might have been given to its Midlands recipient as a diplomatic present.

It was buried in a pit in a similar fashion to its East Anglian counterparts, he said, "possibly as an offering to the gods".

"It shows an incredibly high level of technological skill in working the metal and a really high level of artistry. It is an extraordinary object." he said.

It was "almost identical" to one found in Sedgeford, north Norfolk, he said, concluding: "I'm convinced they were made by the same hand."

Mr Richardson, 58, a tree surgeon, said of his 2005 find: "I dug down with a spade, and then used my hands and this beautiful necklace started to appear. It was as clean as the day it was made."

He made 175,000 when he sold it to Newark and Sherwood District Council, under a provision of the Treasure Act 1996 that ensures the finder receives half its estimated value. The land owner got the other half. Before 1996 the legal process for dealing with treasure was less clear.

The torc is by far the most significant object to have been dealt with by the treasure process in 2005 and 2006, according to the British Museum.

Other items include a gold and garnet Anglo-Saxon jewellery mount, acquired by Chelmsford Museum in Essex for 3,000, and a Roman coin hoard of 3,600 pieces found in Kent.

Barbara Follett, the culture minister, welcomed the finds.

She said: "Since the implementation of the Treasure Act in 1996 - which ruled that finders and landowners will be eligible for rewards for finds - museums have reported a ten-fold increase in the treasure items offered to them."
Old November 24th, 2008 #12
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Yesterday I was shocked to hear a Fox News reporter on the recent Bulgarian discovery, linked to the Thracians " ... an ancient Indo-European nomadic people ... "

The first and last time that hint as to the antiquity and extent of our cultural origins will ever reach the American masses.
Old November 25th, 2008 #13
Alex Linder
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[via email from reader]

Old European / Vinča / Danube script

These symbols have been found on many of the artefacts excavated from sites in south-east Europe, in particular from Vinča near Belgrade, but also in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, eastern Hungary, Moldova, southern Ukraine and the former Yugoslavia. The artefacts date from between the 7th and 4th millennia BC and those decorated with these symbols are between 8,000 and 6,500 years old.

Some scholars believe that the Vinča symbols represent the earliest form of writing ever found, predating ancient Egyptian and Sumerian writing by thousands of years. Since the inscriptions are all short and appear on objects found in burial sites, and the language represented is not known, it is highly unlikely they will ever be deciphered.
Symbols dating from the oldest period of Vinča culture (6th-5th millennia BC)

Common symbols used throughout the Vinča period

Other Vinča symbols

Font created by Sorin Paliga ([email protected]) of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Bucharest, Romania

Download Vinča font (TrueType, 55K)

Information about this script
Other undeciphered writing systems

Linear A, Proto-Elamite, Old Elamite, Rongo Rongo, Vinča

Last edited by Alex Linder; November 25th, 2008 at 09:58 PM.
Old November 26th, 2008 #14
Alex Linder
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Vinča symbols
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from Danube script)

The Vinča symbols, or signs, also known as the Vinča alphabet, Vinča-Turdaş script, or Old European script, are a set of symbols found on prehistoric artifacts from southeastern Europe. A few scholars believe they constitute a writing system of the Vinča culture, which inhabited the region around 6000-4000 BC. Most, however, doubt that the markings represent writing at all, citing the brevity of the purported inscriptions and the dearth of repeated symbols in the purported script; it is all but universally accepted among scholars that the Sumerian cuneiform script of c. 3000 BC is the earliest form of writing. It is more likely that the symbols formed a kind of "proto-writing"; that is, that they conveyed a message but did not encode language.

[edit] Discovery

See also: Tărtăria tablets

In 1875, archaeological excavations led by the archeologist Zsfia Torma (1840–1899) at Turdaş (Tordos), near Orăştie in Transylvania, Romania unearthed a cache of objects inscribed with previously unknown symbols. A similar cache was found during excavations conducted in 1908 in Vinča, a suburb of Belgrade (Serbia), some 120km from Tordos. Later, more such fragments were found in Banjica, another part of Belgrade. Thus the culture represented is called the Vinča culture, and the script often called the Vinca-Tordos script.

The discovery of the Tartaria tablets in Romania by Nicolae Vlassa in 1961 reignited the debate. Vlassa believed the inscriptions to be pictograms and the finds were subsequently carbon-dated to before 4000 BC, thirteen hundred years earlier than the date he expected, and earlier even than the writing systems of the Sumerians and Minoans. To date, more than a thousand fragments with similar inscriptions have been found on various archaeological sites throughout south-eastern Europe, notably in Greece (Dispilio Tablet), Bulgaria, former Yugoslavia, Romania, eastern Hungary, Moldova, and southern Ukraine.

Most of the inscriptions are on pottery, with the remainder appearing on whorls (flat cylindrical annuli), figurines, and a small collection of other objects. Over 85% of the inscriptions consist of a single symbol. The symbols themselves consist of a variety of abstract and representative pictograms, including zoomorphic (animal-like) representations, combs or brush patterns and abstract symbols such as swastikas, crosses and chevrons. Other objects include groups of symbols, of which some are arranged in no particularly obvious pattern, with the result that neither the order nor the direction of the signs in these groups is readily determinable. The usage of symbols varies significantly between objects: symbols that appear by themselves tend almost exclusively to appear on pots, while symbols that are grouped with other symbols tend to appear on whorls.

The importance of these findings lies in the fact that the oldest of them are dated around 4000 BC, around a thousand years before the proto-Sumerian pictographic script from Uruk (modern Iraq), which is usually considered as the oldest known script. Analyses of the symbols showed that they had little similarity with Near Eastern writing, leading to the view that these symbols and the Sumerian script probably arose independently. There are some similarities between the symbols and other Neolithic symbologies found elsewhere, as far afield as Egypt, Crete and even China. However, Chinese scholars have suggested that such signs were produced by a convergent development of what might be called a precursor to writing which evolved independently in a number of societies. Indeed, there are some similarities between Sumerian cuneiform script and stone markings from atalhyk in Turkey and Kamyana Mohyla in Southern Ukraine, both predating the Vinča culture by several millennia[citation needed].

Although a large number of symbols are known, most artifacts contain so few symbols that they are very unlikely to represent a complete text. Possibly the only exception is a stone found near Sitovo in Bulgaria, the dating of which is disputed; regardless, the stone has only around 50 symbols. It is unknown which language used the symbols, or indeed whether they stand for a language in the first place.
Clay amulet, one of the Tărtăria tablets unearthed near Tărtăria, Romania, and dated to ca. 4500 BC

[edit] Meaning of the symbols

The nature and purpose of the symbols is a mystery. It is not even clear whether they constitute a writing system. If they do, it is not known whether they represent an alphabet, syllabary, ideograms or some other form of writing. Although attempts have been made to decipher the symbols, there is no generally accepted translation or agreement as to what they mean.

At first it was thought that the symbols were simply used as property marks, with no more meaning than "this belongs to X"; a prominent holder of this view is archaeologist Peter Biehl. This theory is now mostly abandoned as same symbols have been repeatedly found on the whole territory of Vinča culture, on locations hundreds of kilometers and years away from each other.

The prevailing theory is that the symbols were used for religious purposes in a traditional agricultural society. If so, the fact that the same symbols were used for centuries with little change suggests that the ritual meaning and culture represented by the symbols likewise remained constant for a very long time, with no need for further development. The use of the symbols appears to have been abandoned (along with the objects on which they appear) at the start of the Bronze Age, suggesting that the new technology brought with it significant changes in social organization and beliefs.

One argument in favour of the ritual explanation is that the objects on which the symbols appear do not appear to have had much long-term significance to their owners - they are commonly found in pits and other refuse areas. Certain objects, principally figurines, are most usually found buried under houses. This is consistent with the supposition that they were prepared for household religious ceremonies in which the signs incised on the objects represent expressions: a desire, request, vow, etc. After the ceremony was completed, the object would either have no further significance (hence would be disposed of) or would be buried ritually (which some have interpreted as votive offerings).

Some of the "comb" or "brush" symbols, which collectively compose as much as a sixth of all the symbols so far discovered, may represent numbers. Some scholars have pointed out that over a quarter of the inscriptions are located on the bottom of a pot, an ostensibly unlikely place for a religious inscription. The Vinča culture appears to have traded its wares quite widely with other cultures (as demonstrated by the widespread distribution of inscribed pots), so it is possible that the "numerical" symbols conveyed information about the value of the pots or their contents. Other cultures, such as the Minoans and Sumerians, used their scripts primarily as accounting tools; the Vinča symbols may have served a similar purpose.

Other symbols (principally those restricted to the base of pots) are wholly unique. Such signs may denote the contents, provenance/destination or manufacturer/owner of the pot.

Griffen (2005) claims to have partially deciphered the script, identifying signs for "bear", "bird" and "goddess". He compares two spinning whorls, Jela 1 and 2, with almost identical marks, and identifies similar marks on bear and bird figurines. The whorl inscriptions would read "bear — goddess — bird — goddess — bear — goddess–goddess" which he interprets as "bear goddess and bird goddess: bear goddess indeed", or "the bear goddess and the bird goddess are really a single bear goddess". Griffen compares the amalgamation of a goddess with bearlike and birdlike attributes in Greek Artemis. Griffen's "goddess" sign is two vertical strokes, apparently symbolizing a vulva; this is reminiscent of the Linear B "female" sign, two upright slanting strokes.

[edit] Marija Gimbutas and Vinča as pre-writing

The primary advocate of the idea that the markings represent writing, and the person who coined the name "Old European Script", was Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994), an important 20th century archaeologist and premier advocate of the notion that the Kurgan culture of Central Asia was an early culture of Proto-Indo-Europeans. Later in life she turned her attention to the reconstruction of a hypothetical pre-Indo-European Old European culture, which she thought spanned most of Europe. She observed that neolithic European iconography was predominantly female—a trend also visible in the inscribed figurines of the Vinča culture—and concluded the existence of a "matristic" (her term for "woman-centered", as opposed to androcentric, but not necessarily matriarchal) culture that worshipped a range of goddesses and gods. (Gimbutas did not posit a single universal Mother Goddess.) She also incorporated the Vinča markings into her model of Old Europe, suggesting that they might either be the writing system for an Old European language, or, more probably, a kind of "pre-writing" symbolic system. Most archaeologists and linguists disagree with Gimbutas' interpretation of the Vinča signs as a script.

[edit] Fringe literature

Like most undeciphered writing systems, the Vinca script has attracted the attention of fringe authors. The Serbian archaeologist Radivoje Pešić proposes in his book The Vinča Alphabet (ISBN 86-7540-006-3) that all of the symbols exist in the Etruscan alphabet, and conversely, that all Etruscan letters are found among the Vinča signs. This view is not accepted by mainstream archaeologists.
Old December 5th, 2008 #15
Alex Linder
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Lost city of 'cloud people' found in Peru

Archaeologists have discovered a lost city carved into the Andes Mountains by the mysterious Chachapoya tribe.

By Jeremy McDermott, Latin America Correspondent
Last Updated: 7:39PM GMT 03 Dec 2008

Buildings carved into the Pachallama peak mountainside in Peru, by Chachapoya

The settlement covers some 12 acres and is perched on a mountainside in the remote Jamalca district of Utcubamba province in the northern jungles of Peru's Amazon.

The buildings found on the Pachallama peak are in remarkably good condition, estimated to be over 1,000 years old and comprised of the traditional round stone houses built by the Chachapoya, the 'Cloud Forest People'.

The area is completely overgrown with the jungle now covering much of the settlement but explorers found the walls of the buildings and rock paintings on a cliff face.

The remote nature of the site appears to have protected the site from looters as archaeologists found ceramics and undisturbed burial sites.

Archaeologist Benedicto Prez Goicochea said: "The citadel is perched on the edge of an abyss.

"We suspect that the ancient inhabitants used this as a lookout point from where they could spot potential enemies."

The ruins were initially discovered by local people hacking through the jungle. They were drawn to the place due to the sound of a waterfall.

The local people "armed with machetes opened a path that arrived at the place where they saw a beautiful panorama, full of flowers and fauna, as well as a waterfall, some 500 metres high," said the mayor of Jamalca, Ricardo Cabrera Bravo.

Initial studies have found similarities between the new discovery and the Cloud Peoples' super fortress of Kulep, also in Utcubamba province, which is older and more extensive that the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, but has not been fully explored or restored.

Little is known about the Chachapoya, except that they had been beaten into submission by the mighty Incas in 1475.

When in 1535 the Spanish Conquistadores arrived in Peru, they found willing allies in the Cloud People for their fight against the Incas.

Spanish texts from the era describe the Cloud People as ferocious fighters who mummified their dead.

They were eventually wiped out by small pox and other diseases brought by the Europeans.

The women of the Chachapoya were much prized by the Incas as they were tall and fair skinned. The Chronicler Pedro Cieza de Len offers wrote of the Chachapoyas.

"They are the whitest and most handsome of all the people that I have seen in Indies, and their wives were so beautiful that because of their gentleness, many of them deserved to be the Incas' wives and to also be taken to the Sun Temple."
Old June 26th, 2009 #16
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35,000 year old flute found in Germany

Prehistoric flute in Germany is oldest known

BERLIN – A bird-bone flute unearthed in a German cave was carved some 35,000 years ago and is the oldest handcrafted musical instrument yet discovered, archaeologists say, offering the latest evidence that early modern humans in Europe had established a complex and creative culture.

A team led by University of Tuebingen archaeologist Nicholas Conard assembled the flute from 12 pieces of griffon vulture bone scattered in a small plot of the Hohle Fels cave in southern Germany. Together, the pieces comprise a 8.6-inch (22-centimeter) instrument with five holes and a notched end. Conard said the flute was 35,000 years old.

"It's unambiguously the oldest instrument in the world," Conard told The Associated Press this week. His findings were published online Wednesday by the journal Nature. Other archaeologists agreed with Conard's assessment.

April Nowell, a Paleolithic archaeologist at the University of Victoria in Canada, said the flute predates previously discovered instruments "but the dates are not so much older that it's surprising or controversial." Nowell was not involved in Conard's research.

The Hohle Fels flute is more complete and appears slightly older than bone and ivory fragments from seven other flutes recovered in southern German caves and documented by Conard and his colleagues in recent years.

Another flute excavated in Austria is believed to be 19,000 years old, and a group of 22 flutes found in the French Pyrenees mountains has been dated at up to 30,000 years ago.

Conard's team excavated the flute in September 2008, the same month they recovered six ivory fragments from the Hohle Fels cave that form a female figurine they believe is the oldest known sculpture of the human form.

Together, the flute and the figure — found in the same layer of sediment — suggest that modern humans had established an advanced culture in Europe 35,000 years ago, said Wil Roebroeks, an archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands who didn't participate in Conard's study.
Old August 8th, 2009 #17
Alex Linder
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World's oldest map: Spanish cave has landscape from 14,000 years ago

Archaeologists have discovered what they believe is man's earliest map, dating from almost 14,000 years ago.

Published: 7:30AM BST 06 Aug 2009

Archaeologists have discovered what they believe is man's earliest map, dating from almost 14,000 years ago

A stone tablet found in a cave in Abauntz in the Navarra region of northern Spain is believed to contain the earliest known representation of a landscape.

Engravings on the stone, which measures less than seven inches by five inches, and is less than an inch thick, appear to depict mountains, meandering rivers and areas of good foraging and hunting.

"We can say with certainty that it is a sketch, a map of the surrounding area," said Pilar Utrilla, who led the research team.

"Whoever made it sought to capture in stone the flow of the watercourses, the mountains outside the cave and the animals found in the area."

"The landscape depicted corresponds exactly to the surrounding geography," she said. "Complete with herds of ibex marked on one of the mountains visible from the cave itself."

The research, which is published in the latest edition of the Journal of Human Evolution, furthers understanding of early modern human capacities of spatial awareness, planning and organised hunting.

"We can't be sure what was intended in the making of the tablet but it was clearly important to those who populated the cave 13,660 years ago," said Ms Utrilla. "Maybe it was to record areas rich in mushrooms, birds' eggs, or flint used for making tools."

The researchers believe it may also have been used as a storytelling device or to plan a hunting expedition.

"Nothing like this has been discovered elsewhere in western Europe," she said.
Old August 15th, 2009 #18
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Default 4,000 year old royal tomb found in Scotland

Ancient royal tomb found in Scotland

Archaeologists stunned as dig unearths 4,000-year-old burial treasures unrivaled anywhere in Britain

By David Keys, Archaeology correspondent

Friday, 14 August 2009

Hidden beneath a four-ton slab of rock and surrounded by ancient carved symbols of prehistoric power, a spectacular high-status potentially royal tomb, dating back 4,000 years, has been discovered by archaeologists in Scotland.

The find of international importance is unique in Britain. The excavations at Forteviot, near Perth, have yielded the remains of an early Bronze Age ruler buried on a bed of white quartz pebbles and birch bark with at least a dozen personal possessions including a bronze and gold dagger, a bronze knife, a wooden bowl and a leather bag.

The discovery has huge implications for Scottish history. Forteviot has long been known to have been a great royal centre in the early medieval period. It was a "capital" of a Pictish Kingdom in the 8/9th century AD and one of Scotland's earliest kings, Kenneth MacAlpin, is said to have had a palace there.

But up until now nobody suspected that Forteviot's royal roots might be thousands of years older. The newly discovered prehistoric tomb is of particular importance because it lies at the very heart of Scotland's largest pre-historic ritual/religious ceremonial complex. The excavations are now revealing that back in around 2600 BC, local Neolithic people constructed a giant 250m diameter circle of 200 timber obelisks with a ceremonial processional way leading to its entrance and an inner timber circle at its centre. Each oak obelisk was up to a metre in diameter. Then, by 2400BC, a massive earthwork enclosure with a 10m wide, 3m deep moat was built inside that inner timber circle.

At roughly the same time two other similar earthwork enclosures "henges" were built, north of the large timber circle. And finally in around 2000BC the tomb was built underground in what was probably the most prestigious location immediately opposite the entrance to the henge at the centre of the entire complex.

Uniquely, the tomb's stone wall, at the head end of the grave, was decorated with carvings of two bronze axes. What's more, the tomb's great 2m by 2m, four-ton stone roof was decorated with a much older carving of a probable Neolithic stone battle axe or ceremonial mace head a fact which suggests that it was removed from an older monument specifically for use in this ultra-high-status prehistoric tomb.

The use of white quartz pebbles and white birch bark as bedding for the dead man may well have been seen as a way of helping to guarantee rebirth in the next world.

The excavation is being directed by Professor Stephen Driscoll and Dr Kenneth Brophy of the University of Glasgow and Dr Gordon Noble of the University of Aberdeen.

"The sheer size of the stone slabs used to construct the tomb, the extremely rare rock engraving, the rare preservation of the leather, wood and bark items and the high status location make this a find of both national and international importance," said prehistorian Dr Noble.

"In terms of preservation, location and scale, this tomb is unparalleled in Britain," he said.

The excavation is continuing on site and in Edinburgh where archaeologists are examining large blocks of excavated earth from the tomb under laboratory conditions.
Old September 24th, 2009 #19
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Default Buried


Page last updated at 02:25 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 03:25 UK

The UK's largest haul of Anglo-Saxon gold has been discovered buried beneath a field in Staffordshire.
Experts said the collection of 1,500 pieces, which may date back to the 7th Century, is unparalleled in size.

A spokeswoman for the British Museum said the find, which is due to be classed as treasure, was the equivalent of finding a "new Book of Kells".

Terry Herbert, who found it on farmland using a metal detector, said it "was what metal detectorists dream of".

It may take more than a year for the gold, which is expected to be classed by a coroner as treasure later, to be valued.

The collection contains about 5kg of gold and 2.5kg of silver, making it far bigger than the Sutton Hoo discovery in 1939 when 1.5kg of Anglo-Saxon gold was found near Woodbridge in Suffolk.

Leslie Webster, former keeper at the British Museum's Department of Prehistory and Europe, said: "This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so, as the Sutton Hoo discoveries.

"(It is) absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells."

'Absolutely phenomenal'

Mr Herbert, 55, of Burntwood in Staffordshire, who has been metal detecting for 18 years, came across the hoard as he searched land belonging to a farmer friend. The exact location has not been disclosed.

"I have this phrase that I say sometimes; 'spirits of yesteryear take me where the coins appear', but on that day I changed coins to gold.

"I don't know why I said it that day but I think somebody was listening and directed me to it.

"This is what metal detectorists dream of, finding stuff like this. But the vast amount there is is just unbelievable."

Duncan Slarke, finds liaison officer for Staffordshire, was the first professional to see the hoard which contains warfare paraphernalia, including sword pommel caps and hilt plates inlaid with precious stones.

"Nothing could have prepared me for that," he said.

"I saw boxes full of gold, items exhibiting the very finest Anglo-Saxon workmanship.

"This is absolutely phenomenal.

"It is a hugely important find - the most important one that I have dealt with, but this has got to rank as one of the biggest in the country."

The collection is currently being kept in secure storage at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery but a selection of the items are to be displayed at the museum from Friday until 13 October.

A Treasure Valuation Committee made up of independent experts will then value the find.
Isn't it strange that we talk least about the things we think about most?

We cannot allow the natural passions and prejudices of other peoples
to lead our country to destruction.

-Charles A. Lindbergh
Old June 23rd, 2010 #20
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Lucy no longer alone: Relative of famed fossilised skeleton is even OLDER and walked upright 3.6m years ago

By James White
22nd June 2010

Finder: Owen Lovejoy, standing next to the reconstructed skeleton of Lucy, was part of the team which found a much-older skeleton

Scientists may have found the great, great, great grandfather of the famous fossil Lucy.

A new partial skeleton of an early hominid known as Australopithecus afarensis was discovered in a mud flat of the Afar region of Ethiopia.

Dated about 3.6 million years ago, the find is about 400,000 years older than the famous Lucy, which was among the earliest upright walking hominids.

The bones indicate this ancestor also walked upright, but was considerably larger than Lucy, who stood about 3.5 feet tall.

Because of his size - more than 5 feet tall - the new specimen has been named 'Kadanuumuu', which means 'big man' in the Afar language.

'This individual was fully bipedal and had the ability to walk almost like modern humans,' said Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History whose scientists made the discovery.

'As a result of this discovery, we can now confidently say that Lucy and her relatives were almost as proficient as we are walking on two legs, and that the elongation of our legs came earlier in our evolution than previously thought,' he said.

The find was made by an international team led by Haile-Selassie and Owen Lovejoy of the Cleveland museum.

It was found in the Woranso-Mille area of Ethiopia's Afar region and excavated over five years after the discovery of a fragment of the lower arm bone in 2005.

The excavation recovered the most complete clavicle and one of the most complete shoulder blades ever found in the human fossil record.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the National Geographic Society.

Lucy was falso found in Ethiopia in 1974, sparking world-wide interest.


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