Sunday, January 28, 2018

EARLIEST MODERN HUMAN FOSSIL EVER FOUND OUTSIDE OF AFRICA -- IN ISRAEL (JAWBONE BETWEEN 175,000-200,000 YEARS OLD)

A large international research team, led by Israel Hershkovitz from Tel Aviv University and including Rolf Quam from Binghamton University, State University of New York, has discovered the earliest modern human fossil ever found outside of Africa. The finding suggests that modern humans left the continent at least 50,000 years earlier than previously thought.

"Misliya is an exciting discovery," says Rolf Quam, Binghamton University anthropology professor and a coauthor of the study. "It provides the clearest evidence yet that our ancestors first migrated out of Africa much earlier than we previously believed. It also means that modern humans were potentially meeting and interacting during a longer period of time with other archaic human groups, providing more opportunity for cultural and biological exchanges."

The fossil, an upper jawbone with several teeth, was found at a site called Misliya Cave in Israel, one of several prehistoric cave sites located on Mount Carmel. Several dating techniques applied to archaeological materials and the fossil itself suggest the jawbone is between 175,000-200,000 years old, pushing back the modern human migration out of Africa by at least 50,000 years.

Researchers analyzed the fossil remains relying on microCT scans and 3D virtual models and compared it with other hominin fossils from Africa, Europe and Asia.

"While all of the anatomical details in the Misliya fossil are fully consistent with modern humans, some features are also found in Neandertals and other human groups," said Quam, associate professor of anthropology at Binghamton. "One of the challenges in this study was identifying features in Misliya that are found only in modern humans. These are the features that provide the clearest signal of what species the Misliya fossil represents."

The archaeological evidence reveals that the inhabitants of Misliya Cave were capable hunters of large game species, controlled the production of fire and were associated with an Early Middle Paleolithic stone tool kit, similar to that found with the earliest modern humans in Africa.

While older fossils of modern humans have been found in Africa, the timing and routes of modern human migration out of Africa are key issues for understanding the evolution of our own species, said the researchers. The region of the Middle East represents a major corridor for hominin migrations during the Pleistocene and has been occupied at different times by both modern humans



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-01-scientists-oldest-modern-human-fossil.html#jCp

Saturday, January 27, 2018

EVIDENCE GROWS THAT NEANDERTHALS LIVED IN A CARING SOCIETY

In 1957 a team of archaeologists working in the Shanidar caves in Iraqi Kurdistan, discovered the bones of a 50,000 year old Neanderthal, nicknamed Shanidar 1. Nothing extra remarkable in that you may think, however the individual was aged between 40 and 50 (from dental analysis) and had several things wrong, including a fractured skull, amputated forearm, together with other multiple signs of ageing. These all made the fact that he had survived into his 40s quite a considerable achievement.

Now a new team headed up by the French National Center for Scientific Research has conducted some more investigations on the remains, with astounding results.

They examined the skull in minute detail and noticed some serious deformities in the bones of both ears. As Sebastien Villotte, from the Research center explains "It would have been essentially impossible for Shanidar 1 to maintain a sufficiently clear canal for adequate sound transmission. He would therefore have been effectively deaf in his right ear and he likely had at least partial CHL [conductive hearing loss] in his left ear".

Couple this with his other physical disabilities and survival in a brutal environment was near impossible without the help and assistance of other tribe members. So he must have received some social support. This theory is given credence by other Neanderthal traits such as burying their dead, which shows that they lived in socially caring and supportive groups.

Edited from PhysOrg (23 October 2017) and Gizmodo (24 October 2017)
http://tinyurl.com/yc5975na
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BRONZE AGE SITE IN PALESTINE UNDER SERIOUS THREAT

Archaeologists and activists are seriously concerned that a valuable Bronze Age site on the outskirts of Gaza City (Palestine) is under threat of destruction.

The site was first identified in 1998 and is believed to be the remains of a fortified Canaanite city, dating back to between 3,200 BCE and 2,000 BCE. Further archaeological excavation works were carried out between 1999 and 2000 on what is basically a mound with a diameter of approximately 300 metres, located at Tell es-Sakan near Gaza.

Over the intervening years since the first excavations several attempts to flatten the site have been thwarted, as this area has been zoned by the local authority for housing projects. Ironically, it was the first attempt to bulldoze the area that alerted archaeologists to its potential and significance.

Even though the latest demolition attempt had been halted, Palestinian archaeologists are still extremely concerned over the site's future. Before the bulldozing had been stopped serious damage had already been inflicted, as advised by Moain Sadeeq, the Palestinian archaeologist who first uncovered the potential back in 1998, who is quoted as saying "The damage is very, very significant. Ancient dwelling structures and sections of the ramparts have been destroyed. Moveable artefacts have been taken away". When questioned on whether he thought that the Gaza housing authority would keep to their word and leave the site alone, he replied "I'm not sure it will last forever".

Edited from PhysOrg (24 October 2017)
http://tinyurl.com/y9xcx945
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A MINIATURE POMPEII MAY LIE BENEATH TEMPLES IN THE SELINUTE ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK IN SICILY


Geologists from the University of Camerino, using a thermal imaging camera mounted on a drone, found thermal anomalies traceable to important structures that were buried around 2,700 years ago, stretching from "Temple M" downwards towards the port, said geoarchaeologist Fabio Pallotta, a consultant to the University of Camerino and the Selinunte Archaeological Park.

"It was likely a succession of temples and tubs full of clear spring water that flowed towards the African sea offering precious refreshment to travelers at the border," Pallotta said.

"From these thermal images, everyone can see how the heat gradient delineates perfect geometric designs in the area surrounding the ruins of Temple M, which is now located along the right-hand shore of the Selino River, but originally came forth in all of its beauty from the far west promontory of the enchanting lagoon," he said.

Thus far, fourteen flights have been undertaken by a hexacopter, a six-armed drone, which revealed temperatures of both living and chemically inactive materials.
Selinunte Archaeological Park Director Enrico Caruso said the discovery will allow the park to find better solutions for protecting the heritage of Selinunte, one of Europe's largest archaeological parks.

"There are still many structures to investigate," Caruso said. "We need to understand the geological structure of the area and why the Selinuntites chose it for their settlement. The city is certainly much larger than its modern-day counterpart," he said.

While giving a tour of the area to members of the Italian and international press, Caruso also announced other discoveries from the site.
"In Selinunte we have found pipes built by the Greeks that provided homes with running water, new domestic areas devoted to religion such as cylindrical altars, and the most ancient depiction in the entire Greek world of Hekate, a figure of pre-Indo-European origin who was depicted in Greek mythology.
Ecate, or Hekate, reigned over evil demons, the night, and the moon," he said

UPPER PALEOLITHIC CAVE PAINTING FOUND IN THE URALS

The ancient image of a two-humped camel has been discovered in the Kapova cave (Southern Urals). With the dating of cave painting being estimated to between 14,500 and 37,7000 years ago this artwork confirms the belief that artists in the Upper Paleolithic could migrate over long distances, especially as camels were not native to this region during this time.

The discovery was made by Eudald Guillamet, a restorative specialist from Andorra, who was invited by the State Office of Protection of Cultural Heritage of Bashikira to clean graffiti from the cave.

V.S. Zhitenev, who is the head of Moscow's State University's South Ural archaeological expedition and leading researcher for the Kapova and Ignatievskaya caves, commented: "This painting, cleared on the polychrome panel 'Horses and Signs', which has been well-known since the late 1970s, has no analogues in the art complexes of the caves of France and Spain, but does have some resemblance to the camel painting from the Ignatievskaya cave. Now it will probably become a significant image in the Upper Paleolithic cave bestiary of the Southern Urals,"

The long evolution of cave art in this region is supported by several factors, among which is the cave paintings depicting images of horses, bisons, mammoths, and wooly rhinoceroses, as well as local fauna, with analysis of stone tools confirming this assumption. The presence of the camel also confirms the Volga-Caspian direction of the connections made by people who sought shelter in the cave, which was earlier grounded in fossil shell ornaments form the Caspian Region.
In December, the archaeologists from Moscow State University will continue researching the Paleolithic art in the caves. This is due to the walls being much drier, making it easier to reveal the smallest details of the paintings. Further monitoring will also be done to study the dynamic factors surrounding the underground environment on geochemical processes related to the destruction of wall paintings.

Edited from EurekAlert! (27 November 2017)
http://tinyurl.com/yd7jo7p8

VARIED PATHWAYS TO AGRICULTURE AS SEEN IN NATUFIAN CULTURE C. 14,500-11,500 YEARS AGO


Around 15,000 years ago, the Natufian culture appeared in what is today's Middle East. This culture, which straddled the border between nomadic and settled lifestyles, had diverse, complex origins. This finding arises from new research by a team of scientists and archaeologists from the Weizmann Institute of Science and the University of Copenhagen.

The hunter-gatherers of the Natufian culture were spread over modern-day Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria around 14,500 - 11,500 years ago. They were some of the first people to build permanent houses and tend to edible plants. These innovations were most likely crucial to the subsequent emergence of agriculture during the Neolithic era. Previous research had suggested that the center of this culture was the Mount Carmel and Galilee region, and that it had spread from there to other parts of the region. The new study by the Copenhagen-Weizmann team, challenges this 'core region' theory.

Excavations of the Shubayqa 1 site uncovered a well-preserved Natufian site, which included, among other things, a large assemblage of charred plant remains. These kinds of botanical remains enabled the Weizmann-Copenhagen team to obtain the largest number of dates for any Natufian site yet in Israel or Jordan. The dating was undertaken by Prof. Elisabetta Boaretto at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Over twenty samples from different layers of the site were dated, showing that the site was first settled not long after the earliest dates obtained for northern Israel. Either Natufians expanded very rapidly into the region (which is the less-likely explanation), or the settlement patterns emerged more or less simultaneously in different parts of the region.

"The early date of Shubayqa 1 shows that Natufian hunter-gatherers were more versatile than previously thought. Past research had linked the emergence of Natufian culture to the rich habitat of the Mediterranean woodland zone. But the early dates from Shubayqa show that these late Pleistocene hunter-gatherers were also able to live quite comfortably in more open parkland steppe zones further east," says Dr.Tobias Richter, who led the excavations at the site from 2012 to 2015. Some of their subsistence appears to have relied heavily on the exploitation of club rush tubers, as well as other wild plants and the hunting of birds, gazelle and other animals.

These new dates do not always jibe with the idea that climate change was the main driver of abandonment or resettlement, although it clearly played a role. Boaretto says that the 'core area' theory may have come about, in part, because the Mt. Carmel sites have been the best preserved and studied, until now. In addition to calling into question the idea of the Natufian beginning in one settlement and spreading outwards, the study suggests that the hunter-gatherers who lived 15,000 to 12,000 years ago were ingenious and resourceful. They learned to make use of numerous plants and animals where ever they were, and to tend them in a way that led to early settlement. The authors say that this supports a view in which there were many pathways to agriculture and "the 'Neolithic way of life' was a highly variable and complex process that cannot be explained on the basis of single-cause models."

Edited from EurekAlert! (7 December 2017)
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Sunday, January 14, 2018

CASTLE WHERE RICHARD THE LIONHEART DIED IS UP FOR SALE

12 JANUARY 2018 • 8:05PM
The French chateau where Richard the Lionheart died after being hit by a bolt from a crossbow has quietly been put on the market with a small ad offering this remarkable piece of Anglo-French history for well under a million pounds. The castle of Châlus-Chabrol, about 110 miles northeast of Bordeaux, has been for sale on France's most popular classified ads website Le Bon Coin since December 30th at the price of €996,400, or £884,000. The title of the ad states merely that a “15-room, 600 square metre castle” is available. The historic import of the chateau is only revealed by the text below the photos showing run-down buildings that are “in need of restoration.”

In March 1199, Richard the Lionheart – Duke of Aquitaine and Normandy, Count of Anjou, and King of England – was at Châlus-Chabrol to inspect a siege organised by his faithful mercenary, Mercadier. A crossbow bolt hit his left shoulder, penetrating deep into the flesh. Richard, one of the most popular kings in England history, ripped the sharpened metal out, but poor medical care soon saw the wound turn gangrenous. On learning who was injured, the castle’s defenders surrendered, and opened their facilities for the care of the king. When it became clear that Richard would die, his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, arrived from Fontevraud to receive his last wishes.

Richard died from the wound on 6 April 1199, two days after being hit by the bolt.

The castle today boasts 15 rooms, a dungeon and “is located in the heart of (the village of) Chalus, with the whole of the domain offering unparallelled views over the entire region,” according to the ad. It consists of two parts, one private and the other at times open to the public. The current owners are believed to be three Dutch nationals.

In line with Richard’s wishes, his body, crown, and regalia were buried in the royal abbey at Fontevraud, next to his father, King Henry II of England. His heart went to Rouen cathedral, to honor his love of Normandy. Recent analysis shows it was embalmed with frankincense, myrtle, mint, poplar, bellflower, and lime. His entrails were buried in the Limousin region, whose knights had been his most faithful companions-in-arms, and whose language he had favoured for his poetry.

One chronicle tradition noted that, before dying, Richard forgave Pierre Basile, the man who fired the crossbow, for killing him, and presented him with a bag of money. But Mercadier, Richard’s stalwart lieutenant, had other ideas. Once Richard was dead, Pierre was skinned alive, then hanged.

5,000 YEAR OLD ARTIFACTS SHOW RISE OF ANCIENT JERICHO

A joint Italian-Palestinian team has been conducting archaeological digs at the site of Tell es-Sultan since 1997.

During their latest excavation season, the team made an extraordinary discovery in a home occupied some 5,000 years ago: five mother of pearl shells, stacked one on top of the other, that could only have come from the Nile. Two of the shells still contained the residue of a dark substance, which a laboratory analysis identified as manganese oxide. That powdered mineral was the main component of a cosmetic known as kohl, used as an eyeliner in ancient times.

Researchers think the powder probably came from the Sinai Peninsula, where manganese mines that the ancient Egyptians once exploited have been found. "The discovery confirms a close commercial relationship, already in the early third millennium BCE, between the ancient city in Palestine and Egypt," says lead archaeologist Lorenzo Nigro of the Sapienza University of Rome. "It also shows the rise of a sophisticated local elite in Jericho."

The city of Jericho, in what is today the West Bank, grew around an abundant spring. As far back as 10,500 BCE, people began to gather at this oasis. Eventually they settled down, cultivated crops, and domesticated animals. At the beginning of the third millennium a fortified city arose, and then a ruler's palace.

The latest excavation season also revealed evidence of continuing ties between Jericho and Egypt several centuries later than the cosmetic find: a unique burial dating to about 1,800 BCE. Unlike earlier excavations, which have uncovered groups of wealthy graves, very likely royal, in the area encircled by the palace walls, the Italian-Palestinian team found a distinctly different burial right below the palace floor, an indication of special status.

This elite burial chamber held the remains of two people: a 9- or 10-year-old girl adorned with jewelry, and an adult female who was presumably an attendant. The bones of two young sacrificed animals as well as six pottery vessels were also discovered by the archaeologists. The most interesting vessel was a small black burnished jug that contained a perfume or an ointment and may have been left in this spot so the deceased could smell sweet aromas throughout eternity.

The young aristocrat's ornaments included two pairs of bronze earrings, a bronze bracelet, a bronze pin on the left shoulder, a bead necklace with a carnelian set between pairs of rock crystals, and a bronze signet ring with a local type of scarab that was inscribed with protective signs. A second stone scarab, resting on the girl's chest, bore hieroglyphics that testify to Egypt's cultural influence on Jericho's elites.

The end of this thriving, international era at Jericho came in about 1,550 BCE, when a violent attack reduced the city to a heap of smoldering ruins. Its destruction was so violent that it became embedded in the collective memory of the Canaanite peoples, resounding in the biblical narrative of Joshua and his destruction of the city according to God's command.

Edited from National Geographic (19 December 2017)
http://tinyurl.com/y86v5876
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SMUGGLING ANTIQUITIES IN EGYPT HAS BEEN UNCOVERED AND PUNISHMENT UPCOMING

Parliament's Media, Culture and Antiquities Committee is preparing a report on an amendment proposed by the government to the antiquities protection law.

The amendment is to toughen punishment for smuggling antiquities up to a life sentence and a fine of LE10 million (about $0.56 million).

Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anani said in a statement in December that 329 ancient coins were seized with an Egyptian passenger at Cairo International Airport while trying to smuggle them to France.

According to police reports in November, the Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Police managed to seize 464 artifacts including Ushabtis and statues, made of rare blue ceramic, from illegal antiquities merchants in Fayoum.

BURIAL GROUND FROM ROMAN TIMES UNCOVERED IN BRITAIN

A burial ground dating back to Roman times and containing hundreds of graves has been uncovered at a site earmarked for housing.

Professional archaeologists have been at the site on the fringes of the village of Yatton to carry out a detailed excavation.

EXCITING NEW RARE LOWER PREHISTORIC SITE IN CENTRAL ISRAEL 500,000 MILLION YEARS OLD NEWLY DISCOVERED


​An astonishing discovery in Jaljulia: a rare and important prehistoric site, roughly half of a million years old, extending over about 10 dunams, was uncovered during the last few months in a joint archaeological excavation conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in cooperation with the Archaeological Department of Tel Aviv University. The archaeological excavation was funded by the Israel Land Authority, towards the expansion of Jaljulia.

The excavation revealed a rich lithic industry, including hundreds of flint hand axes, typical tools of the ancient Acheulian culture.

According to Maayan Shemer, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Prof. Ran Barkai, head of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University: “The extraordinary quantity of flint tools uncovered in the excavation provides significant information about the lifeways of prehistoric humans during the Lower Paleolithic period. It seems that half a million years ago, the conditions here in Jaljulia were such, that this became a favored locality, subject to repeated human activity. We associate the industry found on site to the Homo Erectus – a direct ancestor of the Homo Sapiens, the human species living today. A geological reconstruction of the prehistoric environment, shows that the human activity took place in a dynamic environment, on the banks of an ancient stream (possibly Nahal Qaneh, which now flows approximately 500 m' south of the site). This environment is considered to have been rich with vegetation and herding animals, a ‘green spot’ in the landscape.

In this place, three basic needs of the ancient hunter gatherers were met: clear water, a variety of food sources (plants and animals) and flint nodules, of which tools were made. The fact that the site was occupied repeatedly indicates that prehistoric humans possessed a geographic memory of the place, and could have returned here as a part of a seasonal cycle.”

Handaxes, found at the site in relatively large quantities, are very impressive tools, their shape somewhat reminding a teardrop. The production of these tools require careful and meticulous work, and a deep familiarity of the raw material in use. In Jaljulia handaxes were made of a variety of flint types, and we also observe a differentiation in the production quality. Almost as if some of the handaxes were made by a master craftsmen and others- by someone less qualified.

Hand axes were used as dominant tools by prehistoric humans for more than a million years. Yet, its particular use is still debated. Some scholars suggest that these were the tools used to dismember large animals such as elephants. Others say that handaxes were the “Swiss Army knife” of the Stone Age and had additional uses such as hunting, hide working and the working plant and vegetal material. Large quantities of additional flint artifacts attest to technological innovation, development and creativity.

Maayan Shemer, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: “Coming to work in Jaljulia, nobody expected to find evidence of such an ancient site, let alone one so extensive and with such impressive finds. There are only two sites whose estimated age is close to Jaljulia in the Sharon, or central Israel: one in Kibbutz Eyal, approximately 5 km to the north, and the other, dated to a slightly later cultural phase, at Qesem Cave located approximately 5 km to the south. The findings are amazing, both in their preservation state and in their implications about our understanding of this ancient material culture. We see here a wide technological variety, and there is no doubt that researching these finds in-depth will contribute greatly to the understanding of the lifestyle and human behavior during the period in which Homo Erectus inhabited our area.

Prof. Ran Barkai, head of the Archaeology Department of Tel Aviv University: “It’s hard to believe that between Jaljulia and highway 6, five meters below the surface, an ancient landscape some half of a million years old has been so amazingly preserved. This extraordinary site will enable us to trace the behavior of our direct prehistoric ancestors, and reconstruct their lifestyle and behavior on the very long journey of human existence. The past of all of us, of all human beings, is buried in the earth, and we have a one-time opportunity to travel back half a million years and better get to know the ancient humans who lived here before us, between Jaljulia and road 6.”


Monday, December 11, 2017

JODI MAGNESS LECTURES ON THE HUQOQ SYNAGOGUE

rofessor Jodi Magness embarked on a mission in 2011 to excavate the Huqoq synagogue in Israel with little idea of its contents — and with only an ancient village as its possible location.

Unsure of whether they would find anything, Magness’ team randomly picked a square as their first dig site and discovered archaeological fragments. Eventually, the team unearthed mosaic pavings crafted on the synagogue’s foundation depicting biblical scenes relevant to the history of Israel. Since then, Magness has been working on the excavation and preservation of the historical site in the ancient village of Huqoq, with the eventual goal of relocating the mosaics to public areas.

Pitt’s Jewish Studies program and Nationality Rooms program came together Monday night to host Magness and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Israel Heritage Classroom — the 20th Nationality Room constructed in the Cathedral.

Magness — a University of North Carolina professor with a bachelor’s in archaeology and history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem — shared the current status of the excavation site at the Late Roman-era synagogue with more than 80 people during her lecture, “More than Just Mosaics: the Huqoq Synagogue,” in the Cathedral of Learning.

Magness and her excavation team have gone out every summer digging season since 2011 and unearthed a variety of partial and complete mosaic scenes throughout the stone foundations of the Jewish synagogue.

Magness showed the audience of community members, Pitt staff and students unreleased images of the dig sites and the mosaic pavings within — including scenes depicting biblical motifs and stories such as Noah’s Ark and Helios and the Zodiac Cycle, as well as figures including Dionysus and Alexander the Great.
The surviving mosaics stayed preserved under dirt and stone rubble after the synagogue was abandoned due to unknown circumstances, she said. Magness and her team bury the artifacts again after each digging season. “The only way to protect our mosaics from vandalism is to backfill them at the end of the season,” Magness said.



OLDEST VIRTUALLY COMPLETE FOSSIL OF HUMAN ANCESTOR FOUND IN SOUTH AFRICA -- CALLED "LITTLE FOOT"

South Africa's status as a major cradle in the African nursery of humankind has been reinforced with today's unveiling of "Little Foot", the country's oldest, virtually complete fossil human ancestor.

Little Foot is the only known virtually complete Australopithecus fossil discovered to date. It is by far the most complete skeleton of a human ancestor older than 1.5 million years ever found. It is also the oldest fossil hominid in southern Africa, dating back 3.67 million years. The unveiling will be the first time that the completely cleaned and reconstructed skeleton can be viewed by the national and international media.

Discovered by Professor Ron Clarke from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, the fossil was given the nickname of "Little Foot" by Prof. Phillip Tobias, based on Clarke's initial discovery of four small foot bones. Its discovery is expected to add a wealth of knowledge about the appearance, full skeletal anatomy, limb lengths and locomotor abilities of one of the species of our early ancestral relatives.
"This is one of the most remarkable fossil discoveries made in the history of human origins research and it is a privilege to unveil a finding of this importance today," says Clarke.

After lying undiscovered for more than 3.6 million years deep within the Sterkfontein caves about 40km north-west of Johannesburg, Clarke found several foot bones and lower leg bone fragments in 1994 and 1997 among other fossils that had been removed from rock blasted from the cave years earlier by lime miners. Clarke sent his assistants Stephen Motsumi and Nkwane Molefe into the deep underground cave to search for any possible broken bone surface that might fit with the bones he had discovered in boxes. Within two days of searching, they found such a contact, in July 1997.

Clarke realised soon after the discovery that they were on to something highly significant and started the specialised process of excavating the skeleton in the cave up through 2012, when the last visible elements were removed to the surface in blocks of breccia. "My assistants and I have worked on painstakingly cleaning the bones from breccia blocks and reconstructing the full skeleton until the present day," says Clarke.

In the 20 years since the discovery, they have been hard at work to excavate and prepare the fossil. Now Clarke and a team of international experts are conducting a full set of scientific studies on it. The results of these studies are expected to be published in a series of scientific papers in high impact, peer reviewed international journals in the near future. This is the first time that a virtually complete skeleton of a pre-human ancestor from a South African cave has been excavated in the place where it was fossilized.

The 20-year long period of excavation, cleaning, reconstruction, casting, and analysis of the skeleton has required a steady source of funding, which was provided by the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST) – a Johannesburg-based NGO that promotes research, education and outreach in the sciences related to our origins. Among its many initiatives aimed at uplifting the origin sciences across Africa, PAST has been a major funder of research at Sterkfontein for over two decades.

After 20 years, researcher presents the most complete Australopithecus fossil ever found

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-12-years-australopithecus-fossil.html#jCp

Sunday, December 03, 2017

ROMAN TEMPLE UNCOVERED IN HAMPSHIRE MAY BE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN BRITAIN DATING TO REIGH OF EMPEROR NERO

The temple remains were found within the grounds of the Old Manor House in the Roman town at Silchester, along with rare tiles stamped with the name of the emperor, who ruled AD 54-68.

The temple joined two others to make a group of three when it was investigated in Silchester in autumn 2017, and is the first to be identified in the town for more than 100 years. The three temples are located in a walled sanctuary, numbered Insula XXX by Victorian archaeologists. It would have been a striking gateway to the city for travelers from London.

Four fragments of tiles stamped in Nero's name were found in a ritual pit within the temple site – the largest concentration ever found in the town – along with another three at the kiln site which made the tiles in nearby Little London. These provide further evidence that the temples could all have been part of a Nero-sponsored building project in Silchester.

Professor Mike Fulford at the University of Reading, who is leading the Silchester archaeology team, said: "These findings are a crucial piece of the jigsaw as we look to solve the mystery of Nero's links to Silchester. This is something that has puzzled archaeologists for more than a century. "Only a handful of Nero-stamped tiles have ever been found in the UK, so to unearth this many was very exciting. It adds to the evidence that Nero saw Silchester as a pet project where he could construct extravagant buildings like those seen in Rome, to inspire awe among his subjects in the UK."

The three temples are the earliest known masonry constructions in Silchester, the city of Calleva in Roman times. They would therefore have been the most prominent buildings in the city, being erected decades before others, like the great complex of the forum basilica in the center of the town, were rebuilt in masonry. They were aligned north to south at the eastern end of the Roman town.

Credit: University of Reading
The remains of the first two temples on the Insula XXX site were first found during grave-digging in St Mary's churchyard in 1890, with evidence of the third building unearthed in 1902. However, its identity as another temple was overlooked until now.


Ground-penetrating radar, and a follow-up excavation this autumn, have confirmed three temples once stood on the site. They had a typical 'double-square' plan – a central cella (shrine) surrounded by a walkway. This design originated in the late Iron Age, and is rare in Britain but more common in France and Germany.
The foundations suggest the temples could have been up to 15m high. The dimensions of the third temple, 15m by 17.5m, are similar to those of the southernmost Insula XXX temple but smaller than the central one, which still remains the largest known of its type in Roman Britain.
Although the religious purpose of the temples remains a mystery, evidence uncovered at the latest temple site suggests it was built in the 50s or 60s of the first century AD – within Nero's short reign. Similarities in the layout within the three temples suggest all three were conceived and built at a similar time, although further excavations by the team will test this theory.
Nero's reign is associated with brutality and extravagance. He was known for the persecution of Christians as well as his grand building plans, some of which were constructed after Rome's great fire, before his suicide. Nero's buildings were made in high-quality stone, as well as ceramic brick and tile, but only the tiles found at Silchester are stamped in his name.
The existence of one of his buildings in Roman Britain, as well as evidence he might have visited, has always remained elusive. However, the find of the seven tiles, adding to only 14 previously found in the UK, only at Silchester and Little London, validates the theory that Nero was keen to sponsor a building project in Silchester.


Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-11-roman-temple-silchester-emperor-vanity.html#jCp

UNUSUAL STONE TOOLS UNLIKE ANY OTHERS FOUND IN BRONZE AGE SITE IN WALES

Mysterious stone tools unearthed at Welsh Bronze Age site

Amateur archaeologists excavating a Bronze Age site in Wales have discovered a cache of unusual stone tools unlike any that have been found before. The tools appear to have been deposited deliberately - perhaps ceremonially - in what would have been a stream around 4,500 years ago, according to the researchers.

Around 20 of the roughly triangular stone hand tools, of various sizes, were found at the excavation site in the Clwydian Range, a series of hills in Denbighshire in northeast Wales, by the Clwydian Range Archaeological Group (CRAG) during four weeks of excavations in July and August.

"I've not seen anything like them before, and I've talked to a number of colleagues who've never seen anything like them," said Ian Brooks, an archaeologist employed as a consultant by CRAG. The tools were made from a hard limestone found locally, but not in the immediate area of the excavation. "They are rough slabs of the limestone, which have been shaped to produce one pointed end," he said.

The tools vary in size, between 2 inches (50 millimeters) long to about 8.6 inches (220 mm) long. "But they all have this characteristic point at one end, which has then been battered - you've got pitting and distinctive damage on the end, so they've been heavily used," Brooks said.

The purpose of the tools is unknown, and future work by the archaeological team would include examining the utensils in more detail. But, it's possible that the tools were used for chipping ornamental designs onto rock surfaces, he said. "One of the things that you do get in the Bronze Age is the decoration of natural boulders and rock faces, producing things like cut marks and rings and suchlike," Brooks said. "The point on these things would be about the right sort of size for pecking that sort of design."

Brooks explained that all of the mysterious stone tools were found at the bottom of what would have been a stream around 4,500 years ago, on a plateau northeast of the Moel Arthur hill fort. Brooks thinks the site where the tools were found could be more than 1,000 years older than the hill fort itself, based on carbon dating of stones from an 'burnt mound', located beside the former streambed, that dates to between 2456 to 2583 BCE.

The limestone tools did not seem directly related to the activity at the burnt mound, but they appeared to have been deposited on purpose at a particular spot nearby, in what would have been a running stream at the time, he said. Geophysical surveys, funded by CRAG in 2011 and 2012, indicated that the plateau near the burnt mound and the ancient stream may have included a small settlement of roundhouses, a typical style of dwelling in Bronze Age Britain.

NEW SETS OF CAVE PAINTINGS IN NORTHERN SPAIN POSSIBLY 30,000 YEAR AGO

Researchers have discovered four new sets of cave paintings in Cantabria, northern Spain, the oldest of which was made nearly 30,000 years ago – making it one of the earliest known examples of prehistoric art in the world. The team from the Museum of Prehistory of Cantabria, led by Spanish prehistorian Roberto Ontañón, used cutting-edge imaging techniques to identify the drawings.

Twenty years ago, a speleologist – a scientist who studies caves – had informed archaeologists of the possible existence of ancient paintings in various rock cavities in Cantabria. However, the techniques available at the time were not sufficient to confirm the existence of the art.

The paintings, like much prehistoric artwork, had degraded so much over time that they were difficult to identify with the naked eye. To overcome this, Ontañón and his team used a 3D laser scanning method, which reproduced the artwork on a computer.

"These technologies allow you to detect colors beyond the range of the visible spectrum (infrared to ultraviolet) and, in this way, 'reveal' paintings that at first sight are imperceptible or difficult to
distinguish", Ontañón told IBTimes UK.

The artworks are estimated to have been made between 30,000 and 20,000 years ago, making them older than the famous bison drawings at the renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site at nearby Altamira – created around 16,000 years ago – but not as old as the earliest example in the region.

That title goes to the cave drawings at El Castillo, also in Cantabria, which were made more than 40,000 years ago and are arguably the oldest in the world.

Cantabria has some of the highest concentrations of prehistoric art anywhere on Earth. This can be attributed to the fact that the region was a good place to live during glacial periods in the Earth's history, a result of its temperate climate and abundance of wild animals.

PREHISTORIC SCOTTISH CAVE -- DIGITAL EXPLORATION

During the late Bronze Age, the The Sculptor's Cave in Moray (Scotland) appears to have been a repository for precious objects, with finds ranging from bronze bracelets via pottery to a swan's neck pin.

Large quantities of human remains have also been discovered, suggesting that the cave may have been a center for funerary rites. Intriguingly, on the frontal bone of one child, there is evidence suggestive of deliberate defleshing. Some of the cave's most important features, however, are the Pictish symbols that can be found on the walls of its entrance.

Problematically, the cave is only accessible at low tide, making investigation of the interior time-sensitive. A new project, funded by Historic Environment Scotland and carried out by Professor Ian Armit and Dr Lindsey Büster at the University of Bradford, has created a high-resolution animated model of the cave. Through laser scanning and structured light scanning, the details of the cave have been digitally preserved to allow for more in-depth exploration of the cave - and the Pictish symbols - no matter whether the tide is high.

"The Sculptor's Cave is a fascinating location, known for decades for the richness of its archaeology and for the unusual Pictish carvings around its entrance," said Professor Armit of Bradford's School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences. "This walk-through animation allows us to study the carvings in detail, and to present this inaccessible site to the public through online and museum displays. It also ensures that we can preserve the cave and the carvings digitally for future generations to study."

The digital model will be deposited in the Elgin Museum and included in their exhibition on the cave. A video of the 3D animation can be found on YouTube.

SKULL FOUND IN CHINA COULD REWRITE HUMAN EVOLUTION -- NEW RESEARCH SUGGESTS THAT IMPORTATN CHARACTERISTICS OF HUMANS ACTUALLY DEVELOPED IN EAST ASIA

A skull found in China could re-write our entire understanding of human evolution.

That's according to scientists who have examined the important, ancient head and say that it proves the existing theory of how humans came to be is wrong.

Most anthropologists believe that our species came about in Africa around 200,000 years ago – and that one group left around 80,000 years later before spreading across the world. But instead of humans purely coming out of Africa, the new research suggests that important characteristics of humans actually developed in east Asia.

In fact there might have been times of intense intermingling as those early humans in Asia moved out of and back into Africa, with no single event when modern humans came into being. That means that modern humans are made up of the DNA of ancestors from both Asia and Africa, if the researchers are correct.

The story is a development of a theory that has been widely dismissed by mainstream academics for decades, some of whom suggest that it is being made up to emphasise the role of China. But if the new claims are true, it might prove that the long-ridiculed theory is actually true.

The important head, known as the Dali skull, was found 40 years ago in China. It was once a member of the early species – and our ancestor – the Homo erectus. It is surprisingly intact, with scientists still able to see the face and brain case as it would have been when its owner was living around 260,000 years ago.

It has strange similarities too with modern Homo sapiens. And the new research suggests that it has far more than expected in common with specimens found in morocco.

Taken together, the research suggests that humans might not have evolved in Africa and then left, as has long been thought to be the case, researchers Xinzhi Wu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Sheela Athreya of Texas A&M University told the New Scientist. The similarities suggest that the early modern humans might not have been isolated in one place as their characteristics evolved, the scientists say, instead sharing characteristics across the world.

The scientists now hope to do even more detailed comparisons of the Dali skull with those found in Morocco, to understand how the specimen found in China is similar to and different from other examples of early humans.

FIRST LANDING OF CAESAR'S INVASION OF BRITAIN HAS BEEN DISCOVERED

Based on new evidence, the team suggests that the first landing of Julius Caesar's fleet in Britain took place in 54 BC at Pegwell Bay on the Isle of Thanet, the north—east point of Kent.

This location matches Caesar's own account of his landing in 54 BC, with three clues about the topography of the landing site being consistent with him having landed in Pegwell Bay: its visibility from the sea, the existence of a large open bay, and the presence of higher ground nearby.

The project has involved surveys of hillforts that may have been attacked by Caesar, studies in museums of objects that may have been made or buried at the time of the invasions, such as coin hoards, and excavations in Kent.
The University of Leicester project, which is funded by the Leverhulme Trust, was prompted by the discovery of a large defensive ditch in archaeological excavations before a new road was built. The shape of the ditch at Ebbsfleet, a hamlet in Thanet, is very similar to some of the Roman defenses at Alésia in France, where the decisive battle in the Gallic War took place in 52 BC.

The site, at Ebbsfleet, on the Isle of Thanet in north-east Kent overlooking Pegwell Bay, is now 900 m inland but at the time of Caesar's invasions it was closer to the coast. The ditch is 4-5 meters wide and 2 meters deep and is dated by pottery and radiocarbon dates to the 1st century BC.

The size, shape, date of the defences at Ebbsfleet and the presence of iron weapons including a Roman pilum (javelin) all suggest that the site at Ebbsfleet was once a Roman base of 1st century BC date.
The archaeological team suggest the site may be up to 20 hectares in size and it is thought that the main purpose of the fort was to protect the ships of Caesar's fleet that had been drawn up on to the nearby beach.

Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, Research Associate from the University of Leicester's School of Archaeology and Ancient History said: "The site at Ebbsfleet lies on a peninsular that projects from the south-eastern tip of the Isle of Thanet. Thanet has never been considered as a possible landing site before because it was separated from the mainland until the Middle Ages.


Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-11-evidence-julius-caesar-invasion-britain.html#jCp

PREHISTORIC SCHOOL IN ISRAEL DATED TO 400,000 YEARS AGO -- THE OLDEST SCHOOL IN THE WORLD

Archaeologists have uncovered what they believe was a prehistoric school, where the ancestors of modern humans taught their children how to survive by manufacturing flint instruments and dismembering animals, 400,000 years ago.

The hominini, ancestors of today’s homo sapiens, had a similar brain size to today's humans and, according to the findings in the Kessem Cave in central Israel, had developed relatively advanced techniques of manufacture.

The dig, led by Avi Gopher and Ran Barkai, of Tel Aviv university, has been dubbed “the oldest school in the world”, because it suggested hominini had used the space to impart flint skills to their children, the oldest such documented find.



Sunday, October 22, 2017

TWO ARCHAEOLOGISTS REVEAL HOW CIVILIZATIONS COLLAPSE THEN AND NOW AND HOW ANCIENTS PAINTED THEIR SCULPTURES

By Anne W. Semmes

Sentinel Correspondent

Archaeologist Dr. Eric Cline before his talk at the Bryam Shubert Library, shows his new book, “Three Stones Make a Wall,” that gives the history of archaeology from an amateur pursuit to its cutting-edge science with descriptions of the major archaeological sites and discoveries.

Some 40 attendees on Sept. 16 were made privy to the probable causes of how civilization collapsed in history’s “first Dark age,” in the 12th century BCE as shared by Dr. Eric Cline, professor of classics and anthropology at George Washington University, and author of, “1177 B.C. The Year Civilization Collapsed.” That collapse told Cline had some startling examples of causes that are present with us now.

Cline has spent 30 seasons excavating often in the areas of the nine civilizations he focused on in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. A slide showed the connectedness of those civilizations, including Egyptians, Babylonians, Minoans, and Assyrians, with the caption, “Here, we are considering a globalized world system with multiple civilizations all interacting and at least partially dependent upon each other.”

Then came the perfect storm: the onslaught of the “Sea Peoples”- warrior groups overrunning countries and kingdoms by land and sea, then drought, famine, invaders, and earthquakes that brought down those civilizations 3,500 years ago in the late bronze age.

He pointed to how the 300-year drought’s effect on the Myceneans was similar to the havoc brought on in Syria with a four-year drought that began in 2006. With drought came famine, and with earthquakes, said Cline, “Sites were destroyed — and skeletons found under fallen doorways in Mycenae.”

These events had brought important trade to a standstill between the civilizations, “from Egypt to Crete to Messina.” How rich that trade was Cline described in the famous Uluburun sunken ship excavated off the coast of Turkey. “Eight different cultures were found…10 tons of copper that would have furnished 300 soldiers…Ingots of cobalt blue raw glass.”

Cline sees the same global connectedness today.“There are only a few instances in history of such globalized world systems; the one in place during the Late Bronze Age and the one in place today,” Cline said.

He sees also the same problems, and “drought is at the top of the list.” “Studying this collapse is more relevant than you first suspect.” Cline’s warnings as spelled out in his book are apparently hitting a nerve – his lecture on the subject of his book given a year ago has been viewed on YouTube close to a million times.

Professor Kathy Schwab of Fairfield University had earlier given an equally unsettling while informative talk on the new reality of her subject, “Color in Ancient Greek Sculpture.” “We’re going to talk about pigments used on ancient sculpture,” she eased into her talk with a slide of the brilliant colors sourced from Malachite, Golden Ocher, Azurite, Red Ocher, Cinnabar, and Hematite.

For those who equate classical antiquity with white marble, imagine seeing the Parthenon in technicolor. Schwab, who spends her research seasons in Athens, Greece, described her plan for drawn color reconstructions of the Parthenon Metopes (her specialty) — though there’s a question of what color goes where.

“You see here,” she said, “how every surface is colored, even the skin, with yellow, ochre, and red mixed in.” Schwab whose expertise includes ancient Greek hairstyles, shared that “Acropolis maiden’s hairstyles have a residue of red, then brown. Painters created lights and darks in the hair, and even eyelids were painted.

“In ancient Egyptian art, color showed gender. Reddish for men, a light buff yellow to white for females. Bronze Age tattoos had color. A Mycenean sphinx had tattooed rosettes and tattoos.” In a recent news story Schwab spied a Syrian woman refugee with tattoos on her face similar to those used in 1,300 BCE. “There is a longevity of these traditions,” she noted.

And yet, “There is no evidence of paint on bronze,” she said, “only paint on marble. Paint protects the art – just like our house. Marble is protected by paint.”

“Bringing color in creates a different narrative,” Schwab concluded, and, “More and more museums are trying to find ways for visitors to understand this.” She pointed to the efforts of German archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkman to change that narrative with his extensive color reconstructions of Greek and Roman statuary that have toured the world. Time Magazine had addressed the public response with, “The exhibition forces you to look at ancient sculpture in a totally new way.”










STONEHENGE BUILDERS BROUGHT FOOD IN FROM SCOTLAND

The "army of builders" of Stonehenge ate animals brought from as far away as the north east of Scotland, according to a new exhibition at the famous Neolithic site in Wiltshire.

Analysis of pig and cattle teeth has revealed some of the animals were from as far as 500 miles away.
The "Feast! Food at Stonehenge" exhibition includes the skull of an aurochs, an extinct species of cattle. It is aimed at allowing visitors to explore diet from 4,500 years ago.

Raising the ancient stones was an incredible feat but so too was feeding the army of builders.
"Our exhibition reveals just how this was done. The displays reveal research and stories from a "feeding Stonehenge" project, which has been exploring the lives of the people who lived at the nearby settlement of Durrington Walls.

Monday, October 09, 2017

DEAD SEA SCROLLS ARE COMING UP AS FORGERIES


A Bedouin shepherd hears pottery break as he throws stones into a cave while searching for lost sheep among arid cliffs abutting the Dead Sea. He enters the cave and uncovers the find of the 20th century — 2,000-year-old Hebrew and Aramaic scrolls, then the earliest written record of the Bible.

Seven decades have passed since that Hollywood-esque discovery of some 900 manuscripts and up to 50,000 fragments in the 11 caves of Qumran. Now, accusations of dozens of million-dollar forgeries make for a worthy sequel.

It’s a whodunit involving a complex network of high-stakes deals with dubious provenance, and perhaps even academic obfuscation. The process by which the forgeries are being manufactured has yet to be fully exposed. The motive is entirely clear: The tiniest of ancient snippets sells for well over $100,000 per fragment in these private off-the-books sales.

Since 2002, the world’s private antiquities markets have been saturated with certified millennia-old leather inscribed with biblical verses by what, on expert inspection, appears to be a modern hand. This has led some scholars to believe one or more of their own has gone rogue and created a proliferation of fakes that are being peddled to a growing number of Evangelical Christian collectors.

The Museum of the Bible, set to open this November in Washington, DC, is foremost among those collectors who have been “duped,” to the tune of millions of dollars, scholars say. A series of recent articles in respected academic journals calls into question the authenticity of at least half a dozen in its trove of tiny scroll fragments.

Among those raising awareness of the allegedly forged fragments is paleographer Dr. Kipp Davis, a research fellow at Trinity Western University and associate of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute at TWU.
“There is a growing emerging consensus among Dead Sea Scroll scholars that many of the fragments in the private collections are fakes,” Davis told The Times of Israel. In his latest article, “Caves of Dispute,” published in the Brill Dead Sea Discoveries series this month, Davis found that at least six of the Museum of the Bible’s 13 published fragments are forgeries.

In conversation with The Times of Israel, Davis said while he is convinced that six of the fragments are forgeries, “that number could be higher. There are people out there that think that all 13 of the fragments are fake. I’m not quite there, but I have colleagues who are fairly sure they are forgeries.”
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IN GAZA, HAMAS LEVELS AN ANCIENT TREASURE

Palestinian and French archaeologists began excavating Gaza's earliest archaeological site nearly 20 years ago, unearthing what they believe is a rare 4,500-year-old Bronze Age settlement.

But over protests that grew recently, Gaza's Hamas rulers have systematically destroyed the work since seizing power a decade ago, allowing the flattening of this hill on the southern tip of Gaza City to make way for construction projects, and later military bases. In its newest project, Hamas-supported bulldozers are flattening the last remnants of excavation.

"There is a clear destruction of a very important archaeological site," said Palestinian archaeology and history professor Mouin Sadeq, who led three excavations at the site along with French archaeologist Pierre de Miroschedji after its accidental discovery in 1998. "I don't know why the destruction of the site was approved."

Tel Es-Sakan (hill of ash) was the largest Canaanite city between Palestine and Egypt, according to Sadeq. It was named after the great amount of ash found during the excavations, which suggests the settlement was burnt either naturally or in a war.

Archaeologists found the 10-hectare (25-acre) hill to be hiding a fortified settlement built centuries before pharaonic rule in Egypt, and 1,000 years before the pyramids. But the excavations stopped in 2002 due to security concerns.

Now it is destroyed all around. It's among the earliest sites indicating the emergence of the "urban society" concept in the Near East, when communities were transforming from farming villages around 4,000 BC, and it was on trade routes between Egypt and the Levant, according to Humbert.

Humbert shared an aerial photo from 2000 showing patterns of walls from atop the mound. The area "was the first city of Palestine to have a city wall," he said. Now, "the field work you see in the photo is totally destroyed."



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-10-gaza-hamas-ancient-treasure.html#jCp

POSSIBLE AILEXANDER THE GREAT SITE 200 MILES NORTHEAST OF BAGHDAD HAS BEEN ABANDONED

The discoveries of two statues may help to prove this was once a thriving hub founded by one of the ancient world's most powerful rulers—Alexander the Great. Until recently the dig, some 330 kilometers (200 miles) northwest of Baghdad, was buzzing with activity as a team of 15 archaeologists from both Iraq and abroad worked under the stewardship of the British Museum in London to uncover more invaluable treasures.

But now the site is silent as the foreign experts—two Britons and a Hungarian—packed up and left last week to avoid becoming stranded after a spat between Iraq's central government and the Kurdish authorities over a disputed independence referendum that saw Baghdad cut international air links to the region. "This is the first time researchers from abroad have had to leave," said student Rzgar Qader Boskiny, who has been working on a neighboring dig."They even stayed here when the Islamic State group came near," he said referring to the jihadists.

The sudden disappearance of foreign experts has left Nuraddini guarding Qalatga Darband. That is a major job for the self-taught man from the nearby town of Ranya who in 2013 helped to guide foreign researchers to the 60-hectare site perched on the edge of a lake.

Archaeologists who have been working on the site describe the find as "exceptional", but it will take the British Museum project years longer to determine if it genuinely was linked to Alexander the Great.
Some believe it could be a major city from Alexander's empire that was lost from historical records for millennia. But even if those hopes prove unfounded, it is still an important find.

The lakeside site was discovered by a team of Iraqi and British archaeologists led by experts from the British Museum. "It was a strategic town, maybe even a provincial capital, that controlled the routes linking different worlds—Mesopotamia, Persia and Ancient Greece," said Jessica Giraud, the head of French archaeological mission in the region.

While the hunt for more clues about Qalatga Darband has ground to a halt, it was assistance from an unlikely source flying overhead that helped experts hone in on the ruins. Archaeologists used declassified images taken by the CIA's Cold War spy satellite program in the 1960s to help them survey the site and better focus their explorations. An image of the area from 1967, seen by AFP, shows the outlines of ancient walls, roads and what appears to be a large building that researchers think was a fort and a temple.

A joint French-Iraqi mission to map archaeological finds has already found some 354 sites in the region.Experts put the density of finds down to fertility of the land and the fact that the area was at the crossroads of major kingdoms.

The British Museum project began last autumn and is set to run until 2020, but the current disruptions could mean delays in answering questions surrounding Qalatga Darband.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-10-iraq-flight-halts-lost-ancient.html#jCp