Monday, May 07, 2007

Finally! Looks like the TARA road is squelched.

We've been watching this story for several years and so pleased that FINALLY something put a stop to this ridiculous road that was going too close to legendary TARA. Hard to believe that they missed this important archaeological site.

The Irish Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, has ordered that work be stopped on the highly controversial M3 motorway near Tara, Co Meath (Ireland), because of the discovery of a substantial national monument. The archaeological site was discovered in Lismullen beside the Hill of Tara, and is said to be the size of three football fields.
It had been the Save Tara Campaign that first alerted the National Museum to the potential significance of the Liamullen site, a wood henge which is within 100mts of the Rath Lugh monument, and directly within the path of the proposed motorway.

The Lismullen site had not been accurately identified during the initial archaeological survey of the route and the discovery of a henge almost 80mts in diameter and comprising of two concentric circles caused surprise to the archaeological contractors and to the National Roads Authority. It would appear that there are underground
passages associated with the henge.

The highway was planned to pass less than a mile from the Hill of Tara, the site of a 5,000-year-old passage tomb, burial grounds and ancient stone monuments. "Everybody knew that this route was destined to destroy the landscape of Tara if it went ahead," the Campaign to Save Tara group said in a statement welcoming the halt.

Work had begun a day earlier. Ireland's National Roads Authority said before construction began that it was "unlikely that any major archaeological site would be uncovered during the construction stage" because of the 'unprecedented' level of study during planning. Environment Minister Dick Roche is consulting the director of
Ireland's National Museum on the discovery and is awaiting a report by the National Monuments Service.

Michael Canney from the Save Tara Campaign said: "Minister Cullen and the NRA must now admit that this road is wholly inappropriate for the landscape of Tara and initiate a review of the whole project."

Sources: RTE News (1 May 2007), Bloomberg, Save Tara Press Release (2 May 2007)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Little Neanderthal in all of Us?

For nearly a century, anthropologists have been debating the relationship of Neandertals to modern humans. Central to the debate is whether Neandertals contributed directly or indirectly to the ancestry of the early modern humans that succeeded them.

Erik Trinkaus, Ph.D., professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. Trinkaus has examined the earliest modern humans in Europe, including specimens in Romania, Czech Republic and France. Those specimens, in Trinkaus' opinion, have shown obvious Neandertal ancestry.

In an article appearing the week of April 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Trinkaus has brought together the available data, which shows that early modern humans did exhibit evidence of Neandertal traits.

"When you look at all of the well dated and diagnostic early modern European fossils, there is a persistent presence of anatomical features that were present among the Neandertals but absent from the earlier African modern humans," Trinkaus said. "Early modern Europeans reflect both their predominant African early modern human ancestry and a substantial degree of admixture between those early modern humans and the indigenous Neandertals."

This analysis, along with a number of considerations of human genetics, argues that the fate of the Neandertals was to be absorbed into modern human groups. Just as importantly, it also says that the behavioral difference between the groups were small. They saw each other as social equals.


Petroglyph National Monument is the latest target of an ongoing
battle between Albuquerque (New Mexico, USA) gangs bent on proving
dominance, this time by vandalizing the hallowed and historic park
with graffiti. At least eight large basalt boulders at the southern
edge of the escarpment were marred with gang initials, or tags,
written in silver metallic spray paint.

In the following days, tags had been removed from all but three
boulders at the top of the ridge. Monument Superintendent Joseph
Sanchez said his staff was hoping to complete the cleanup very soon.

"We're sending a message that we're out there watching, and that such
vandalism won't be tolerated and will be dealt with immediately,"
Sanchez said. No petroglyphs - ancient symbols carved in the rocks as
far back as 3,000 years ago - were damaged by the spray paint, and no
other lasting injury to the rocks was noted, Sanchez said.

Vandalism in the monument is rare but does happen on occasion,
he said. But one neighbor said it was the first time she could recall
seeing such vandalism at the south end of the escarpment.

Sanchez said park archaeologists, cultural and natural resource
experts, law enforcement officers and park rangers were called in to
handle the cleanup process. "We're charged with the preservation and
protection of the site for future generations," Sanchez said.

Damaging monument property is punishable by fines or incarceration;
heftier penalties apply under the federal Archaeological Resources
Protection Act if it can be proved that the suspect deliberately
intended to damage the petroglyphs, Fuller said.

To report information on the graffiti vandalism at Petroglyph
National Monument or to report other vandalism call 899-0205, (800)
227-7286 or 452-5206.