Friday, November 25, 2011


A group of scientists and archeologists from Canakkale (Dardanelles) University have found traces of a lost city,
older than famed Troy, now buried under the waters of Dardanelles strait.

Led by associate professor Rüstem Aslan, the archeology team made a surface survey in the vicinity of Erenkoy, Canakkale on the shore. The team has found ceramics and pottery, what led them to ponder a mound could be nearby. A research on The found pottery showed that the items belonged to a 7000 years old ancient city. The team has intensified the research and discovered first signs of the lost city under the waters of Dardanalles Strait.

The lost city lies in the sea floor in the Aegean entrance of the strait on the shores of Europen side. The professor told"the pottery indicates the city is from around 5000 BC. We believe the civilizations on the shores of Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits had been buried under water. This latest mound discovered is also 90% under water and gives significant hints on the sea levels then."


Research indicates young children expressed themselves in an ancient form of finger-painting. And, just as in modern homes, their early efforts were given pride of place on the living room wall. A Cambridge University conference on the archaeology of childhood reveals a tantalizing glimpse into life for children in the palaeolithic age, an estimated 13,000 years ago.

Archaeologists at one of the most famous prehistoric decorated caves in France, the complex of caverns at Rouffignac in the Dordogne known as the Cave of a Hundred Mammoths, have discovered that children were actively helped to express themselves through finger fluting - running fingers over soft red clay to produce decorative crisscrossing lines, zig-zags and swirls. The stunning drawings, including 158 depictions of mammoths, 28 bisons, 15 horses, 12 goats, 10 woolly rhinoceroses, four human figures and one bear, form just a small proportion of the art found within the five-mile cave system.

The majority of the drawings are flutings covering the walls and roofs of the many galleries and passages in the complex. One chamber is so rich in flutings by children it is believed to be an area set aside for them. The marks of four children, estimated to be aged between two and seven, have been identified there. "It suggests it was a special place for children. Adults were there, but the vast majority of artwork is by children," said Jess Cooney, a PhD student at the university's archaeology department.

The presence of children's art was first revealed in 2006 by archaeologists Leslie Van Gelder, of Walden University, in the US, and her husband Kevin Sharpe. Cooney, working alongside Van Gelder, has spent two years analyzing
the presence of the hunter-gatherer offspring. Flutings thought to be by a five-year-old girl are the most prolific
throughout the cave system. Work by four adults has also been identified, though it is possible there were two further adults present. The juxtaposition of the flutings of individuals indicate the relationships between the cave dwellers, the researchers say. For example, the markings show that one seven-year-old girl was most often in the company of the smallest of the adults, probably a male and possibly an older brother.

"Some of the children's flutings are high up on walls and on the ceilings, so they must have been held up to make them or have been sitting on someone's shoulders," said Cooney. Flutings by the two-year-old suggest the child's hand was guided by an adult. Cooney said: "The flutings and fingers are very controlled, which is highly unusual for a child of that age, and suggests it was being taught. The research shows us that children were everywhere, even in the deepest, darkest, caves, furthest from the entrance. They were so involved in the art you really begin to question how heavily they were involved in everyday life. Cooney said the object of her research was "to allow prehistoric children to
have a voice", because so much archaeological study focused on men's activities.

"What I found in Rouffignac is that the children are screaming from the walls to be heard. Their presence is everywhere. And there is a five-year-old girl constantly shouting: 'I wanna paint, I wanna paint'."

Sunday, November 20, 2011


The gold still glistened after a more than 1,000 years underground; the gemstones glinted at their first touch of sunlight, undimmed by a millennium in the dirt. “It’s a necklace,” said a Polish archaeologist breathless with excitement. “They’ve found a gold necklace!”

As the fine grey sand of Afghanistan’s sun-bleached mountains was gently sieved away, there was treasure in the pan: tiny golden orbs adorned with even smaller gold beads, tulip-shaped pendants no bigger than a fingernail, red gemstones and swirling gold bowls, like acorn lids. Next to them were two spoons and a brooch made of copper, green from corrosion, and two copper hairpins embellished with gold.

Excavations at Mes Aynak have already unearthed three Buddhist monasteries and an ancient copper mine replete with statues, coins, reliefs and murals – which is more than enough to secure its place as one of the most significant archaeological digs in a generation.

Yet last week’s discovery was the first time since archaeologists started work in 2009 that anyone has found jewelery in the mountains, 35km south of Kabul, and with at least three more monasteries still to be explored, Afghan officials hope the discoveries will elevate Mes Aynak into the archaeological pantheon, alongside Tillya Tepe, home of the Bactrian hoard. The archaeological remains in Logar province date from the 1st to the 7th centuries; first settled by the Khushan dynasty and eventually abandoned by the Hephtalites, with the advent of Islam to Afghanistan.

“The gold, the wall paintings, the statues all suggest that the inhabitants of the site were quite wealthy,” said Hans Curvers, leading archeologist on site. “Not a surprise when you live in the place were the Khushan empire mines, its main financial resources.” But the treasure is both a blessing and a burden for the Afghan government, which is desperate to start exploiting its minerals as a source of income.

The archaeological sites sit directly on top of a world class copper deposit which a Chinese state mining company paid $3 billion (£1.9bn) to acquire, in 2008. It was Afghanistan’s largest foreign investment, and allegedly came with a $30m bribe to the then minister of mines. The Afghan government hopes to earn up to $350m a year in royalties – equivalent to 20 per cent of Kabul’s tax revenue – once the mine is operational, but recently agreed a 12-month delay, to give the archaeologists more time.

“The artifacts are right on top of the copper,” said Nasir Ahmad Durrani, deputy minister of mines. “Unless we remove them we can’t get to the mine.” The government has also spent $6.5m clearing Soviet-era landmines from the site. “The landmines and artifacts amounted to a force majeure,” Mr Durrani added. “The original timelines didn’t take into account the realities on the ground … but we believe that by 2014 we will be able to start commercial production.”

Western officials are less sure. The Chinese have improved the road to the mine and built a camp to house their workers but they are yet to start work on the railway or the power station, stipulated in their contract, which they will need to purify the copper and then export it. Omar Sultan, the deputy minister of culture, said he was confident the archaeologists would excavate the areas in immediate danger before the Chinese “start blowing it up”.

“We are not going to let anybody destroy our culture and I haven’t seen any intention to go and do that from the Chinese or anybody else,” he said.

He hopes to relocate the monasteries, block by block, in a purpose-built museum nearby.

“This was a crossroads of civilizations,” he said. “We have a cultural heritage that doesn’t just belong to Afghanistan. It belongs to all of humanity.”


The historical monuments including the Fort of Mong, which relate Mandi Bahauddin region to before the Christ era, are in a shambles and urgently need to be revived to keep alive the relics of Alexander the Great in Pakistan, The Nation has learned.

Mong village has a few signs of the fort of Raja Porus that fought a formidable battle against Alexander the Great. The battle is counted as the last heroic fight of the Macedonian king. Alexander, after conquering states of Afgania and Asia of that time, encamped on the northern bank of the river Jal which has been renamed as River Jhelum near Harranpur in district Jhelum.

He came to know about King Porus and he sent a messenger to call upon him to give in to his empire and accept his lordship else be ready against all the odds. However, Raja refused to bow down before the threats and got ready to face the challenge.

The Porus army led by the son of Porus anticipated the Macedonian men in Khewa village on the southern bank of the River Jhelum which was called by the Greeks as Hydaspes. The fight is remembered as the ‘Battle of Hydaspes’ but locally as the ‘Battle of Jhelum’. It was fought in 326 BC and more than 4,000 elephants also participated.

On the first day of the heroic battle, Prince Harsy Roy, the son of Raja Porus, was killed and the beloved horse of Alexander the Great was wounded by one of the Porus arrows as the famous Hollywood film ‘Alexander” also shows the scene. Although Porus was supported by elephants, 300 chariots, 4,000 cavalry, 3,000 infantry, yet he could not compete with the force of Alexander and was defeated and arrested.

When he was presented before the Macedonian King who triumphantly asked Raja, ‘How do you expect to be treated’, Porus replied, “As a king ought to be.” The reply impressed Alexander and he forgave the Raja and returned his wealth and state to him.

This historical event is an unforgettable chapter in world history. However, the Pakistani government's apathy is destroying the historic monuments related to the fighters. Alexander set up three towns at that time in Mandi Bahauddin. Nicacaea (victory) was given to present Mong; Bucephalus and Helena were set up in the memory of his horse Phalia and Helen of Troy respectively. The Nation reports that nothing has been done to keep alive these monumental places.


A Canadian archeologist is being credited — nearly 50 years after the fact — with discovering a prehistoric petroglyph site in southern Egypt that is now being described as a "Lascaux-on-the-Nile" because of its similarity in age and style to France's world-famous, cave-wall gallery of Stone Age cattle, deer and horses.The inscribed Egyptian images of extinct wild oxen, hippopotami, fish, gazelle and other animals — now firmly dated to a time in the late Pleistocene era at least 15,000 years ago — are being hailed as the oldest rock art in North Africa and as a pivotal discovery in the evolution of artistic behavior by ancient humans.

It has taken nearly a half-century for experts to obtain a reliable age for the animal figures, which number close to 200 and are found etched into a sandstone cliff high above the banks of the Nile River at Qurta, about 600 kilometers southeast of Cairo. That's where the young Canadian scientist Philip Smith — a University of Toronto archeologist from Fortune, N.L. — was working in 1962 and 1963 as part of a federally sponsored series of "rescue" digs aimed at preserving traces of ancient Egyptian settlements before their potential destruction from the building of the Aswan Dam. Smith, who went on to a distinguished 40-year career at the University of Montreal, was probing an archeological site from thousands of years before the Egyptian pyramids were built when he "accidentally" discovered the carvings at Qurta.

Now 84 and long retired from archeological field work, Smith told Postmedia News that he remembers scrambling up the cliffs to take a photograph of a dig site on the plain below when he suddenly spied scores of animals carved into the rocks. "They were everywhere on the rock," Smith said. "But we weren't able to date it directly. At that time there was no way of dating art on the cliffs themselves." He recalls, though, that he "speculated that it was certainly pre-pharaohnic — before the pharaohs — and probably pre-neolithic, before the introduction of agriculture. But, of course, I wasn't able to go much further back than that."

Years passed. Then decades. No further study of the Qurta animal engravings was carried out, and even knowledge of their whereabouts was lost to a younger generation of scientists. Then, about five years ago, Belgian archeologists working on paleolithic sites in Egypt found evidence of prehistoric rock art at a different site and began a broader study that turned up the Canadian research at Qurta from the early 1960s. That led to the latest research on the Qurta carvings, to be published in the December edition of the journal Antiquity by a team of scientists from Belgium and the U.S.

They used a process called "optically stimulated luminescence" to test the wind-blown sediments accumulated on the etchings to determine the last time the most deeply buried grains of sand were exposed to sunlight. Their study pegs the creation of the artwork at between 15,000 and 19,000 years ago. That places the Egyptian carvings in roughly the same timeframe as the famous cave paintings of animals at Lascaux and other Ice Age sites in Europe.

"The paleolithic rock art at Qurta reveals that the well-known cave art of the late Pleistocene in Europe was not an isolated phenomenon," study co-author John Coleman Darnell, a Yale University professor of Egyptology, states in a summary of the study. "Qurta puts North Africa firmly in the world of the earliest surviving artistic tradition, and shows that tradition to have been geographically more widespread than heretofore imagined."

Read more:


If you follow news about human evolution, you’ve probably noticed that our ancestors are increasingly called hominins rather than hominids. Why the change? It’s the result of researchers revising how they classify primates.

The system of taxonomy that biologists use to categorize animals, plants, bacteria and other organisms is based on the work of the 17th-century scientist Carl Linnaeus. It consists of nested, hierarchical groups that get more and more narrow as you go down the taxonomic chain. To understand what the terms hominins and hominids mean, let’s first look at the traditional classification of modern humans.

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata (animals that have a notochord at some point in their lives; in fish, reptiles, birds and mammals, the notochord becomes the vertebral column)

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates (lemurs, bush babies, tarsiers, monkeys, apes and humans)

Family: Hominidae (modern humans and our close extinct relatives, such as Ardipithecus and Australopithecus)

Genus: Homo

Species: sapiens

Under this system, the term hominid refers to members of the Hominidae family (in taxonomy, names that end in -idae refer to a family). But in the past few decades, the definition of Hominidae has been broadened to include orangutans, gorillas and chimpanzees because of the recognition that these apes are very closely related to humans. In the past, they had their own family—Pongidae—based on the physical characteristics that seemed to unite the great apes as a group. Genetic analyses, however, indicated that gorillas and chimpanzees are actually more closely related to humans than they are to orangutans. Therefore, the Pongidae family didn’t make sense (in technical terms, it was paraphyletic). The genetic discoveries led to a new classification of humans, starting at the family level.

Family: Hominidae (orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and humans)

Subfamily: Homininae (gorillas, chimpanzees and humans)

Tribe: Hominini (humans and our close extinct relatives; the group that was called Hominidae in the previous classification)

Genus: Homo

Species: sapiens

Here, the term hominin refers to the tribe Hominini. That’s why many of our extinct ancestors are now called hominins. But it’s not technically wrong to call them hominids—all members of Hominini are also members of the subfamily Homininae and the family Hominidae, that’s how the nesting system works. It’s just a less precise term.

At Hominid Hunting, we generally use the term hominid in the traditional sense of the word: humans and their close extinct ancestors. But rather than being old-fashioned, I think it means we’re allowed to write about chimpanzee, gorilla or orangutan evolution from time to time.


This 1.9-million-year-old creature caused a sensation when the discovery of its fossil remains in South Africa was first announced in 2010. A. sediba has a curious mix of ape and human features, suggesting it could be one of our direct ancestors. "This is one of the most exciting and controversial fossil finds of recent years and it's fantastic to have this material at the museum," said Prof Ian Owens, the NHM's director of science.

"Researchers will get to work with it, but also the public will get to see it, and we hope that will really help bring the science alive," he told BBC News.

The replicas are a gift from the government of the Republic of South Africa and the University of the Witwatersrand, which is leading the investigation into the fossils. The real specimens were found at Malapa in the famous Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, just to the northwest of Johannesburg. They were pulled from a pit - a depression left in the ground by a cave complex that lost its roof through erosion. Identified as the remains of an adult female and a juvenile male, the two individuals were quite possibly mother and son.

It seems they died together in some tragic accident that saw them either fall into the cave complex or become stuck in it. After death, their bodies were washed into a pool and cemented in time along with the skeletons of many other animals - sabre-tooth cats, hyenas, antelope, even birds and mice. "All of this accumulation happened very, very quickly - in a few days, weeks or months," said lead researcher Prof Lee Berger of the Institute for Human Evolution at Wits University. "Once we've completed this project, we're going to be able to show a texture of a moment in time that we have never seen before except in maybe the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the burial of Pompeii."

Scientists are now engaged in an intense debate over the status of A. sediba in the story of our origins.

Prof Berger and his colleagues say the creature's mix of ancient and modern traits probably makes it central to that story. They propose that A. sediba could even sit on, or very close to, the line that led directly to us - modern humans (Homo sapiens). Other scientists remain to be convinced, and argue too little is known about the diversity of ancient human forms this far back in time to make any bold statements. What is not in doubt is the remarkable preservation of the fossils, which includes a stunning articulated hand. The hand of a female with nearly all its bones In something of a coup for the NHM, the replicas have copies of bones not yet described in the scientific literature - a knee bone, vertebrae, and fragments of lower jaw from the female.

So good was the process of fossilisation at Malapa that more finds are sure to follow. It is expected that many of the parts missing from the existing skeletons will be unearthed at some point, along with the bones of other A. sediba individuals. "We have not excavated yet but we can see at least four others," said Prof Berger. "There's a baby that may be about 18 months of age based on the arm we can see. There's probably another juvenile. There's probably another two adults."