Tuesday, August 26, 2014


The Bureau of Land Management is offering up to $500 for information leading to the arrest/conviction of vandals responsible for defacing rock near rock art thousands of years old. The vandalism happened July 25-31, 2014.
Vandals spray-painted more than a dozen silhouette targets on rocks near Native American rock art at Utah County's Lake Mountain and then engaged in practice shooting with a large-caliber firearm.

The BLM said similar vandalism happened in 2011, prompting the federal agency to go to great lengths to remove the paint to prevent any more damage to the rock art.Native American rock art sites are protected under federal law by the Archaeological Resource Protection Act of 1976. Violators causing damage to cultural resources on federal lands can face severe penalties including fines and jail time.

In May, a vandal etched initials and a date into the dark patina next to the prehistoric image known as the Pregnant Buffalo on a rock panel in Nine Mile Canyon.An investigation subsequently revealed that two youths from the Salt Lake City area were responsible for the Memorial Day weekend incident. A payment from the vandals for $1,500 helped to mitigate the damage, according to the BLM.

Anyone with information on this latest incident should call BLM ranger Randy Griffin at 801-977-4314.


Nobody would mistake the municipality of Savsjo for the borough of the Bronx.

Savsjo, surrounded by dense forests in southern Sweden between Stockholm and Malmo, has about 5,000 inhabitants (about one-tenth as many as the Co-op City section of the borough alone, but about 10 times as many as the number of Bronxites who claim Swedish heritage). Its medieval churches date to the 12th century (the oldest existing house in the Bronx was built in 1748). Savsjo’s best-known sports team plays handball, not baseball.

And yet the two localities share one largely forgotten favorite son, whose Swedish heritage has only recently been confirmed: Jonas Bronck. Bronck was born in 1600 just outside Savsjo (pronounced SEV-sho) in the hamlet of Komstad. He emigrated to Denmark, where he became a mariner, and then to the Netherlands, where he married a local woman. In 1639, after the local economy was roiled by a boom-and-bust mania for tulip bulbs, the couple sailed on the Fire of Troy for New Amsterdam.

The Broncks built a stone house they named Emmaus (after a site where Jesus appeared after his resurrection) at what would become East 132nd Street and Lincoln Avenue, on a bluff overlooking what would become a 680-acre farm flanked by the Harlem River, the Bronx Kill, which separates the borough from Randalls Island, and the Aquahung, which later became known as Bronck’s River.

The 375th anniversary of Bronck’s arrival and settlement as the first European in the Bronx will be celebrated this weekend in Savsjo by his descendants and dignitaries from both countries. (This year is also the centennial of Bronx County, New York State’s youngest.) “The invisible hand of the Almighty Father,” Bronck wrote to a friend in Amsterdam, “surely guided me to this beautiful country, a land covered with virgin forest and unlimited opportunities. It is a veritable paradise and needs but the industrious hand of man to make it the finest and most beautiful region in all the world.”

Bronck died childless at age 43 of unknown causes. His widow remarried and moved to what would be called upstate New York. Several descendants of his nephew or cousin Pieter, whose stone house in Coxsackie is now the headquarters of the Greene County Historical Society, plan to attend the commemoration.

“We have always been very proud of the fact that you do not go to Bronx but to the Bronx, meaning to visit that family or what remains of it,” said Audrey Bronk of Pinehurst, N.C., whose husband, Charles, 85, born in Brooklyn and raised in New Jersey, a former salesman for a plumbing and heating company, is a 10th-generation descendant of Pieter. (The name, which gained an X from the Dutch, lost a C in English.)

The celebration was largely conceived by Brian G. Andersson, a Bronxite of Swedish ancestry. He is the former commissioner of records for New York City and a founding director of the Jonas Bronck Center in Savsjo, which is hosting the commemoration.

“The story behind Jonas Bronck will serve as a model and be the power behind Jonas Bronck Center’s goal — to make the cultural and historical treasure in Smaland and Savsjo, the focal point of tourism in this part of Sweden,” said Curt Wrigfors, the chairman of the center, which is also conducting historical and genealogical research. The center, a former hotel, also houses a Vietnamese restaurant and a tattoo parlor.

Until recently, when it has begun a modest rebound, the Bronx has been famous for the Yankees, the zoo and the New York Botanical Garden, but also disparaged for the Bronx cheer and Ogden Nash’s ultimate contumely (later retracted) “The Bronx? No thonx,” and mocked at home as a national symbol of urban blight (Howard Cosell: “The Bronx is burning;” Tom Wolfe’s “The Bonfire of the Vanities”).

So New Yorkers may be surprised that Jonas Bronck himself has been claimed as a native of Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and the Frisian and Faroe Islands. His Swedish roots were established only in the last few decades by Lloyd Ultan, the Bronx borough historian, and further authenticated by an Irish historian and Mr. Andersson.


Faint as the Avenue was, Vince Gaffney hustled along as if it were illuminated by runway lights. A short, sprightly archaeologist of 56, from Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England, he knows this landscape as well as anyone alive: has walked it, breathed it, studied it for uncounted hours. He has not lost his sense of wonder. Stopping to fix the monument in his eyeline, and reaching out toward the stones on the horizon, he said, “Look, it becomes cathedralesque.”

Gaffney’s latest research effort, the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, is a four-year collaboration between a British team and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Austria that has produced the first detailed underground survey of the area surrounding Stonehenge, totaling more than four square miles.

The results are astonishing. The researchers have found buried evidence of more than 15 previously unknown or poorly understood late Neolithic monuments: henges, barrows, segmented ditches, pits. To Gaffney, these findings suggest a scale of activity around Stonehenge far beyond what was previously suspected. “There was sort of this idea that Stonehenge sat in the middle and around it was effectively an area where people were probably excluded,” Gaffney told me, “a ring of the dead around a special area—to which few people might ever have been admitted....Perhaps there were priests, big men, whatever they were, inside Stonehenge having processions up the Avenue, doing...something extremely mysterious. Of course that sort of analysis depends on not knowing what’s actually in the area around Stonehenge itself. It was terra incognita, really.”

The huge bluestones each weigh between four and eight tons and were brought to the site from North Wales, 170 miles away. The Stonehenge landscape, the new evidence suggests, guided the movement of great crowds. The heelstone aligns with the rising sun on the summer solstice as seen from the stone circle, about 80 yards away. It is one of “an excessive number” of such features in the Stonehenge landscape. The massive stone monument rising from Salisbury Plain must have been an impressive sight to ancient visitors.

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project used ground-penetrating radars and GPS-guided magnetometers (right) to produce what amounts to a 3-D map of a four-square-mile area. Nighttime only enhances the mystery of Stonehenge. Was it a temple? A graveyard? A healing place? Scholars believe the first stones were erected at Stonehenge around 2600 B.C. and that construction continued on the site for a millennia.

Nobody has yet put a spade in the ground to verify the new findings, which were painstakingly gathered by geophysicists and others wielding magnetometers and ground-penetrating radars that scan the ground to detect structures and objects several yards below the surface. But Gaffney has no doubt of the work’s value. “This is among the most important landscapes, and probably the most studied landscape, in the world,” he says. “And the area has been absolutely transformed by this survey. Won’t be the same again.”

Take the big question: Was Stonehenge predominantly a temple, a parliament or a graveyard? Was it a healing ground? We don’t know, for sure. We know that people were buried there, and that the stones are aligned in astronomically important ways. We also understand, because of the chemical composition of animal bones found nearby and the provenance of the stones, that people traveled hundreds of miles to visit Stonehenge. But we cannot say, with certainty, why.

See the wonderful photos in Smithsonian Magazine. Interested in a young adult book on Stonehenge? Caroline Malone and Nancy Bernard 's Stonehenge is still available through Amazon.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-lies-beneath-Stonehenge-180952437/#fDgV9ocsGUIoMvvF.99
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Escargot is more than just a modern delicacy: Ancient humans who lived 30,000 years ago ate the mollusks too, a new archaeological excavation has revealed. Archaeologists recently uncovered evidence of a fireplace and snail shells with evidence of burning in a rock shelter in Spain. The find, which dates to 30,000 years ago, suggests humans ate snails during the Paleolithic period.

Hundreds of burnt snail shells were found near fireplaces along with tools and other animal remains in rock shelters along a cliff in Spain. The finding suggests Paleolithic people on the Iberian Peninsula ate snails more than 10,000 years earlier than those who lived in the neighboring Mediterranean region.

The snails probably didn't make up a calorically significant part of these Paleolithic people's diet, but may have provided key vitamins and nutrients, said study lead author Javier Fernández-López de Pablo, an archaeologist at the Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social in Spain

Monday, August 25, 2014


A monster mouth doorway, ruined pyramid temples and palace remains emerged from the Mexican jungle as archaeologists unearthed two ancient Mayan cities. Found in the southeastern part of the Mexican state of Campeche, in the heart of the Yucatan peninsula, the cities were hidden in thick vegetation and hardly accessible. "Aerial photographs helped us in locating the sites," expedition leader Ivan Sprajc, of the Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU), said.

Sprajc and his team found the massive remains as they further explored the area around Chactun, a large Maya city discovered by the Slovenian archaeologist in 2013. No other site has so far been located in this area, which extends over some 1800 square miles, between the so-called Rio Bec and Chenes regions, both known for their characteristic architectural styles fashioned during the Late and Terminal Classic periods, around 600 - 1000 A.D. One of the cities featured an extraordinary facade with an entrance representing the open jaws of an earth monster.

The site was actually visited in the 1970s by the American archaeologist Eric Von Euw, who documented the facade and other stone monuments with yet unpublished drawings. However, the exact location of the city, referred to as Lagunita by Von Euw, remained lost. All the attempts at relocating it failed. "The information about Lagunita were vague and totally useless," Sprajc told Discovery News. "In the jungle you can be as little as 600 feet from a large site and do not even suspect it might be there; small mounds are all over the place, but they give you no idea about where an urban center might be," he added. Laguinita was identified only after the archaeologists compared the newly
found facade and monuments with Von Euw's drawings.

The monster-mouth facade turned to be one of the best preserved examples of this type of doorways, which are common in the Late-Terminal Classic Rio Bec architectural style, in the nearby region to the south. "It represents a Maya earth deity related with fertility. These doorways symbolize the entrance to a cave and, in general, to the watery underworld, place of mythological origin of maize and abode of ancestors," Sprajc said. He also found remains of a number of massive palace-like buildings arranged around four major plazas. A ball court and a temple pyramid almost 65 ft high also stood in the city, while 10 stelae (tall sculpted stone shafts) and three altars (low circular stones) featured well-preserved reliefs and hieroglyphic inscriptions.

Similar imposing was the other city unearthed by Sprajc. Previously unknown, the city was named Tamchen, which means "deep well" in Yucatec Maya. Indeed, more than 30 chultuns were found at the site. These are bottle-shaped underground chambers, largely intended for collecting rainwater. "Several chultuns were unusually deep, going down as far as 13 meters," Sprajc said.

Like in Laguinita, plazas were surrounded by large buildings. These include the remains of an acropolis supporting a courtyard with three temples on its sides. A pyramid temple with a rather well preserved sanctuary on top and a stela and an altar at its base was also unearthed. Tamchen appears to have been contemporaneous with Lagunita, although there is evidence for its settlement history going back to the Late Preclassic, between 300 B.C. and 250 A.D.

"Both cities open new questions about the diversity of Maya culture, the role of that largely unexplored area in the lowland Maya history, and its relations with other polities," Sprajc said.



Archaeologists in Greece have uncovered the entrance to a vast ancient tomb guarded by two sphinxes, adorned with frescoed walls, and surrounded by a nearly 500-meter long wall carved from marble, according to a news release
in the Greek Reporter. The unique burial monument, which dates from 325 to 300 BC, is the largest ancient tomb ever discovered in Greece and is believed to belong to a very important figure in history. Plans are to enter the tomb next month, when hopefully the identity of the tomb owner will be revealed.

Excavations on the massive burial mound, which is located on Kasta Hill, Amphipolis, in the country's Macedonian region about 100km northeast of Thessaloniki, first started in 2012, and have focused on uncovering the impressive marble wall surrounding the tomb. More recently, the archaeologists discovered a wide path leading to a tomb where the entrance is guarded by two statues of sphinxes carved from marble.

Experts believe a five-meter-tall lion sculpture, known as the Lion of Amphipolis, previously discovered nearby once stood atop the tomb. The famous lion monument, which was found in 1912 by the Greek Army in the Strymonas River, is one of the best preserved monuments from 4th century BC. Archaeologists believe that it once stood at the highest and most central point of the Kasta Hill mound. It now stands next to the old bridge over Strymónas River, on the street Amphipolis-Serraiki Akti.

Local media have been quick to speculate on the owner of the tomb, with Alexander the Great being the prime candidate. Alexander the Great died in 323 BC under mysterious circumstances and the location of his tomb is one of
the great mysteries of antiquity. However, a Culture Ministry official said there was no evidence to suggest a link to Alexander the Great. It could be possible that the tomb belongs to a Macedonian royal. Amphopolis was also the birthplace of three famous admirals from the Macedonian period - Nearchus, Androsthenes of Thasos, and Laomedon (a close friend of Alexander the Great).



A six-year-old's discovery of a flint tool in a Neolithic ditch was the first of a "significant number" of thrilling finds at a Cardiff hill fort. Archaeologists hoping to discover Roman and Iron Age finds at a Welsh hillfort were shocked to unearth pottery and arrowheads predating their predicted finds by 4,000 years at the home of a powerful Iron Age community, including flint tools and weapons from 3,600 BC.

Caerau, an Iron Age residency on the outskirts of Cardiff, would have been a battleground more than 5,000 years ago according to the arrowheads, awls, scrapers and polished stone axe fragments found during the surprising excavation.

"Quite frankly, we were amazed," says Dr Dave Wyatt, the co-director of the dig, from Cardiff University. "Nobody predicted this. Our previous excavation [in 2013] yielded pottery and a mass of finds, including five large Roundhouses, showing Iron Age occupation, and there's evidence of Roman and medieval activity. "But no-one realized the site had been occupied as far back as the Neolithic - predating the construction of the Iron Age hillfort by several thousand years."

Oliver Davis, Dr Wyatt's colleague on the CAER project, says the ditches date from the early Neolithic period when communities first settled and farmed the landscape. "The location and number of Neolithic finds indicate that we have discovered a causewayed enclosure - a special place where small communities gathered together at certain important times of the year to celebrate, feast, exchange things and possibly find marriage partners," he believes. "Such sites are very rare in Wales with only five other known examples, mostly situated in the south.

"What's fascinating is that a number of the flint arrowheads we have found have been broken as a result of impact - this suggests some form of conflict occurred at this meeting place over 5,000 years ago." More than 250 community volunteers assisted an excavation visited by more than 1,200 people. "What's really great about this story is that we've made the Neolithic discoveries with the help of local people," says Dr Wyatt. Experts plan to use the finds and soil samples to draw conclusions about the occupation of the site and the stories of the people who lived there.



The ancient Egyptians began mummifying bodies as far back as 6,000 years ago, analysis of Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic funerary wrappings has revealed. The finding predates the origins of mummification in ancient Egypt by 1,500 years, indicating that resin-soaked textiles used in the prehistoric period (c. 4500 - 3350 B.C.) are the true antecedents of Egyptian mummification.

Experts have long assumed that in the 5th and 4th millennia B.C. preservation of soft tissues was due to natural processes, since buried bodies were naturally desiccated in the hot, dry desert sand.

The start of true Egyptian mummification is generally dated to the Old Kingdom (2500 B.C.), although the use of preservative resinous recipes became evident centuries later during the Middle Kingdom (c. 2000 - 1600 B.C.). Detailing their finding in the current issue of PLOS ONE journal, researchers from the Universities of York, Macquarie and Oxford report that complex embalming agents were soaked in linen wrappings covering bodies from Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic period tombs at Badari and Mostagedda in Upper Egypt. "In 2002, I examined samples of funerary textiles from these sites that had been sent to various museums in the United Kingdom through the 1930s from Egypt," Jana Jones of Macquarie University, Sydney, said.

Preliminary microscopic analysis by Jones revealed resins were likely to have been used. After a number of aborted attempts by other experts, Stephen Buckley, a Research Fellow at the University of York, was able to carry
successful biochemical analysis. Using a combination of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and sequential
thermal desorption-pyrolysis, Buckley examined 23 samples of wrappings from Mostagedda. Radiocarbon dating at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit confirmed the Late Neolithic and predynastic dating of the textiles, with the oldest wrappings dating between 4316-3986 B.C. Buckley identified a pine resin, an aromatic plant extract, a plant
gum/sugar, a natural petroleum source, and a plant oil/animal fat in the wrappings. "These are embalming agents," Buckley told Discovery News.

"Ingredients were brought from the North East Mediterranean. For example, the pine resin must have come from what is now south eastern Turkey," Buckley said. According to Buckley, the mixtures, which had antibacterial properties, show
the same ingredients used in approximately the same proportions in mummies from the pharaonic period some 3000 years later, when mummification was at its zenith. Buckley says there is no doubt prehistoric Egyptians experimented with
artificial mummification. Experts have previously described resin-impregnated linen being used to mold the shape of the bodies around 2800 B.C. as a forerunner to a more complex process, yet this research suggests the use of embalming agents in this way started over a millennia earlier.

He believes the resinous recipes probably started as something symbolic. Then, through observation and subsequent experimentation, the preservative qualities of the recipes would have appeared as vital for the body and the spirit in the afterlife. "The process evolved, by trial and error, rather than emerging from nowhere fully formed," Buckley said.



A Neolithic ditch which became a huge funerary monument when it was enlarged with an outer ring during the Bronze Age has been found on housing development grounds in Kent. Archaeologists suspect a "sacred way" could have led to a henge 6,000 years ago at Iwade Meadows, to the west of the Kent industrial town of Sittingbourne.

Positioned on a north-west slope, the 30-metre diameter structure is one of several prehistoric monuments on a north-west slope above the Ridham fleet stream running through the center of the site. "Its purpose is not known," says Dr Paul Wilkinson, of excavators SWAT Archaeology. "But it may be that the monument was reused as an enclosure for stock management at this time or could formally have been used as a 'sacred way' leading to the Neolithic 'henge'.
"The monuments are in a location that would have formerly had extensive views to the Swale Estuary and the Island of Sheppey beyond.

"The archaeological evidence suggests that the outer ditch may have originated in the Neolithic and been later transformed in the Bronze Age into a funerary monument with the addition of the inner ring." Archaeologists now hope to determine the exact date, phasing and character of the monuments. "The outer ring has an entrance facing north-east suggesting that it may have originated as a henge-type monument - a ceremonial gathering place of which Stonehenge is our most well known example," says Dr Wilkinson. "The inner ring appears to be later and is an unbroken circuit. This may be associated with a Bronze Age burial, as a barrow, though no burials have yet been found. "A second smaller monument lies close to the larger rings and may be a secondary barrow dating to the Bronze Age.

"The importance of the location in the Neolithic period is reinforced by the rare findings of a series of pits close to the monuments that may indicate the area was being used before the construction of the monument or represents activity associated with it."



Scientists at the Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) announced Tuesday they had found a 6,500-year-old skeleton in the museum basement. The bones belonged to a once well-muscled, 5'9" man estimated to be at least 50 years old. His remains had been lying in a coffin-like box for 85 years with no identifying documents. Since he likely outlived a great flood that, millennia later would be a precursor to the Biblical story, some are referring to the skeleton as "Noah."

Records revealed the complete skeleton was unearthed at the site of Ur, an ancient city near modern-day Nasiriyah in southern Iraq, in 1929-30. At that time, a joint Penn Museum/British Museum excavation team led by Sir Leonard Woolley excavated 48 graves in a floodplain, all dating to the Ubaid period. This was a culture characterized by large village settlements that originated on the alluvial plains of southern Mesopotamia around 5500 B.C. and lasted until roughly 4000 B.C.

Of all the bones found, only one skeleton was in good enough condition to recover. Buried with arms at his sides and hands over his abdomen, with pottery vessels at the feet, the skeleton is 2,000 years older than the famous Mesopotamian "royal tombs" that Woolley found in the same Ur location.

After Woolley discovered the Royal Cemetery, he kept digging. Around 40 feet down, he reached a layer of clean, water-lain silt. Digging further, he found graves cut into the silt and eventually another silt layer. This "flood layer" was more than 10 feet deep. Reaching below sea level, Woolley concluded that Ur had originally been a small island in a surrounding marsh. Then a great flood washed away the land. The burial that produced the Penn Museum skeleton was one of those cut into the deep silt. This indicates the man, as well as other people in Ur, had lived after the flood.

Archaeologists believe the disaster likely inspired stories of an epic flood which are the historic precursors of the biblical story written millennia later. As such, Penn researchers named the rediscovered skeleton "Noah." Though, since the skeleton is much older than the Bible, "Utnapishtim" would have been more appropriate. "He was named in the Gilgamesh epic as the man who survived the great flood," William Hafford, Ur Digitization Project Manager at Penn.

Hafford was able to reconstruct how the skeleton reached the museum. Woolley himself painstakingly removed the intact skeleton, covered it in wax, fastened it onto a piece of wood, and lifted it out with the surrounding dirt using a burlap sling. He shipped the remains to London for examination, and then on to Philadelphia. There, the skeleton rested in a wooden box with no catalog card, or identifying number, for 85 years -- one of 150,000 bone specimens
in the museums possession.

Complete skeletons from the Ubaid period are extremely rare. According to archaeologists, the re-discovered skeleton may open up new research possibilities. "Today's scientific techniques, unavailable in Woolley's time, may provide
new information about diet, ancestral origins, trauma, stress, and diseases of this poorly understood population," the Penn Museum said.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Archaeologists carrying out excavations in Arequipa in southern Peru were stunned to find a large geoglyph which resembles the famous Nazca lines, according to a report in Peru21. The massive geoglyph is the first of its kind discovered in the region. It has been linked to the pre-Inca Wari culture (1200-1300 AD), although it is not clear how the researchers reached this conclusion.

The geoglyph, which measures 60 meters by 40 meters, was discovered during archaeological investigations being carried out ahead of an irrigation project in the province of Caylloma. It consists of a large rectangular image with geometric shapes and lines within it and is similar to many of the geoglyphs found in Nazca.

The Nazca geoglyphs cover an incredible 450 km2 and are among archaeology's greatest enigmas because of their quantity, nature, size and continuity. The geoglyphs depict living creatures, stylized plants and imaginary beings, as
well as geometric figures several kilometers long. The startling feature of the Nazca geoglyphs is that they can only really be appreciated from the air, raising questions about how and why they were created.

While the Nazca geoglyphs date back to between 200 BC to 500 AD, to a time when a people referred to as the Nazca inhabited the region, archaeologists have dated the latest discovery in Arequipa to the later part of Wari culture (1200 - 1300 AD). However, no explanation has yet been given about why the geoglyph has been associated with the Wari and how it was dated.

The Wari (Spanish: Huari) civilization flourished from about 600 AD in the Andean highlands and forged a complex society widely regarded today as ancient Peru's first empire. Their Andean capital, Huari, became one of the world's great cities of the time. Relatively little is known about the Wari because no written record remains, although thousands of archaeological sites reveal much about their lives. If indeed the newly-discovered geoglyph was created by the Wari, the finding serves to shed new light on Wari cultural practices, which could have been influenced by the Nazca people.

Much to the annoyance of Consorcio Angostura-Siguas, the agroindustrial company executing the irrigation project, the finding now jeopardizes the continuity of the plan.

By April Holloway


Archaeologists in Peru made a remarkable discovery when they found what they believe is a stone altar containing ancient petroglyphs dating back to 3,500 to 4,000 years ago, according to a news report in Andina. Researchers said
the engravings were used to track stars and therefore to forecast rain fall.

The discovery was made at the archaeological complex of Licurnique, located four hours from Olmos district in Peru's northern region of Lambayeque. The Lambayeque region is known for its archaeological finds and rich Moche and Chimú historical past. The name Lambayeque is a Spanish derivation of the god Yampellec, said to have been worshiped by the first Lambayeque king, Naymlap.

According to ancient legend, a great float of balsa rafts arrived at the beaches of the existing San José cove. Formed by a brilliant cortège of nine foreign warriors, this float was led by a man of great talent and courage, named Naymlap, the mythical founder of the first northwest civilization. Among the descendants of Naymlap were the Moche, the Wari', and the Chimú peoples.

Researchers Juan Martinez and Manuel Curo explained that the Licurnique archaeological site is unique because it combines prehistoric, Hispanic, and Andean influences. According to the report in Andina: "archaeologists found a petroglyph that consists of a lithic altar, an expression of religious superposition. It details and provides an understanding of Licurnique's inhabitants."

Although the archaeologists have not detailed the method they used to date the petroglyphs to the 4th millennium BC, they said that the astronomical functions that were engraved on the rock has successfully stood the test of time.

Featured image: Peruvian archaeologists found carvings that depict the stars and have lasted thousands of years. Photo: Silvia Depaz/Andina

By April Holloway


A groundbreaking excavation of a prehistoric temple complex on the Scottish island of Orkney has revealed that the Neolithic inhabitants of the island were far more advanced than initially realized, according to a news release in The Scotsman. As well as a large collection of ancient artifacts that reflect a complex and culturally-rich society, archaeologists also discovered that the three major monumental structures on the island - the Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stennes, and the Maes Howe tomb - were "inextricably linked in some grand theme".

The archaeological site, known as the Ness of Brodgar, covers an area of over 6 acres and consists of the remains of housing, remnants of slate roofs, paved walkways, colored facades, decorated stone slabs, a massive stone wall with foundations, and a large building described as a Neolithic 'cathedra' or 'palace', inhabited from at least 3,500 BC to the close of the Neolithic period more than a millennium and a half later.

"Their workmanship was impeccable. The imposing walls they built would have done credit to the Roman centurions who, some 30 centuries later, would erect Hadrian's Wall in another part of Britain. Cloistered within those walls were dozens of buildings, among them one of the largest roofed structures built in prehistoric northern Europe. It was more than 80ft long and 60ft wide, with walls 13ft thick," said Roff Smith, author of an article on the Ness of Brodgar to be released in the August edition of National Geographic.

The archaeological excavation, which has so far only unearthed around 10 per cent of the original site, has yielded thousands of incredible artifacts including ceremonial mace heads, polished stone axes, flint knives, a human
figurine, miniature thumb pots, beautifully crafted stone spatulas, highly-refined colored pottery, and more than 650 pieces of Neolithic art, by far the largest collection ever found in Britain.

The monumental sites of the Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stenness, and the Maes Howe tomb, all located within several miles of the Ness, used to be seen as isolated monuments with separate histories, but as excavations at the Ness have progressed, archaeologists have come to believe that the megalithic sites in the surrounding region were all connected in some way with the Ness of Brodgar, although its purpose remains unknown.

"What the Ness is telling us is that this was a much more integrated landscape than anyone ever suspected," said archaeologist Nick Card, excavation director with the Archaeology Institute at the University of the Highlands and Islands. "All these monuments are inextricably linked in some grand theme we can only guess at. The people who built all this were a far more complex and capable society than has usually been portrayed."

"Stand at the Ness today and several iconic Stone Age structures are within easy view, forming the core of a World Heritage site called the Heart of Neolithic Orkney," said Smith. "The Ness of Brodgar appears to be the anchor piece - the showpiece, if you will - that links these other great monuments into one great monumental landscape of a sort nobody had dreamed existed. And to have had it ­lying underfoot, unsuspected, for so many centuries only adds to the sense of wonder surrounding its discovery.

By April Holloway


An archaeological team assigned to reconstruct the 5,200-year-old Burnt City, a recently listed World Heritage Site in Iran, have unearthed a series of unusual burials depicting ritualistic funerary practices, according to a report in the Tehran Times.

Located near Zabol in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, the ancient site of Shahr-i Sokhta ("Burnt City") is one of the largest and richest Bronze Age sites in Iran and the Middle East, and is believed by some to have been the capital of an ancient civilization that flourished on the banks of the Helmand River in around 3,200 BC.

Spanning more than 300,000 hectares, the Burnt City was once a trade center for merchants from Mesopotamia, Indus Valley and Central Asia and represents the emergence of the first complex societies in eastern Iran. Four civilizations lived Shahr-I Sokhata, which was burnt down three times and not rebuilt after the last fire in around 1800 BC. Despite the excavations and studies carried out at the site, the reasons for the unexpected rise and fall of the Burnt City still seem to remain a mystery.

In the last 40 years, archaeologists have uncovered more than 1,200 graves, some of which have revealed some amazing finds, such as the well-preserved remains of a woman in her late 20s who died between 2900 and 2800 B.C. She was buried with an ornate bronze mirror and what researchers believe is an artificial eyeball made of bitumen paste and gold that was once held in place with fine thread. Microscopic examination showed that the artificial eyeball left an imprint in her eye socket, a sign that it was there for a long period of time before her death.

In the latest excavations, researchers found the remains of a middle-aged man in the center of a circle-shaped grave with the skulls of two dogs placed above his head. In addition, 12 human skulls were located on the north side of the grave.

Due to the structure of the grave, and the fact that no other similar burials have been found like it, Team Director Seyyed Mansur Sajjadi believes the grave belongs to the people who migrated from Central Asia to the Iranian Plateau. "This kind of burial indicates strong relations between the people of the region and Central Asia," he said.

Another unique burial contained the remains of a young man whose head was separated from his body and placed at his lower right side, along with two daggers. The archaeologists surmise that the man was beheaded with the cutting tools.
Finally, grave 609 was found to contain six skulls with a large number of long human bones.

"All these burials raise a number of questions: Why were the men buried in such styles during the third millennium? Were the men buried in these styles by accident or on purpose? Were the men buried in such ways to save ground in the graveyard? Or are there other reasons behind these burial styles and we are unaware of them," Sajjadi asked.

Thousands of artifacts have been discovered among the ruins of the Burnt City in the course of 22 seasons of archaeological excavations, and it is hoped that further research will continue to shed light on the life and customs of the inhabitants of this ancient city.

By April Holloway


Archaeologists from the University of Tübingen have found an ancient fragment of ivory belonging to a 40,000 year old animal figurine. Both pieces were found in the Vogelherd Cave in southwestern Germany, which has yielded a number of remarkable works of art dating to the Ice Age. The mammoth ivory figurine depicting a lion was discovered during excavations around eighty years ago. The new fragment makes up one side of the figurine's head, and the sculpture may be viewed at the Tübingen University Museum from 30 July,2014

"The figurine depicts a lion," says Professor Nicholas Conard of Tübingen University's Institute of Prehistory and Medieval Archaeology, and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment Tübingen. "It is one of the most famous Ice Age works of art, and until now, we thought it was a relief, unique among these finds dating to the dawn of figurative art. The reconstructed figurine clearly is a three dimensional sculpture."

Vogelherd Cave, which covers an area of 170 square meters, is the richest of four caves in the region to have produced examples of the world's earliest figurative art, dating back to the time when the first modern humans settled in Europe. The faunal assemblages suggest that the cave was used over tens of thousands of years for butchering, processing and consuming game resources. It was first discovered when Stone Age artifacts turned up from a badger's burrow leading to a thorough exploration conducted by Gustav Riek in 1931.

The new fragment was discovered when today's archaeologists revisited the work of their predecessors from the 1930s. "We have been carrying out renewed excavations and analysis at Vogelherd Cave for nearly ten years," says Conard. "The site has yielded a wealth of objects that illuminate the development of early symbolic artifacts dating to the period when modern humans arrived in Europe and displaced the indigenous Neanderthals." He points out that the Vogelherd Cave has provided evidence of the world's earliest art and music and is a key element in the push to make the caves of the Swabian Jura a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Overall, Vogelherd Cave has yielded more than two dozen figurines and fragments of figurines made from mammoth ivory, including wild horse, bison, reindeer, rhinoceros, mammoth, snow leopard, and human statuette. According to archaeologist Nicholas J. Conard from the University of Tübingen, the figurines are "among the oldest and most impressive examples of figurative artworks from the Ice Age". They are in fact the oldest known pieces of art
and are currently considered key elements in definitions for modern human behavour and early cultural innovation.

By April Holloway


Excavations at an archaeological site at Kathu in the Northern Cape province of South Africa have produced tens of thousands of Earlier Stone Age artifacts, including hand axes and other tools. These discoveries were made by archaeologists from the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa and the University of Toronto (U of T), in collaboration with the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, South Africa.

The archaeologists' research on the Kathu Townlands site, one of the richest early prehistoric archaeological sites in South Africa, was published in the journal, PLOS ONE, on 24 July 2014. It is estimated that the site is between 700,000 and one million years old.

Steven James Walker from the Department of Archaeology at UCT, lead author of the journal paper, says: "The site is amazing and it is threatened. We've been working well with developers as well as the South African Heritage
Resources Agency to preserve it, but the town of Kathu is rapidly expanding around the site. It might get cut off on all sides by development and this would be regrettable."

Today, Kathu is a major iron mining center. Walker adds that the fact that such an extensive prehistoric site is located in the middle of a zone of intensive development poses a unique challenge for archaeologists and developers to find strategies to work cooperatively.

The Kathu Townlands site is one component of a grouping of prehistoric sites known as the Kathu Complex. Other sites in the complex include Kathu Pan 1 which has produced fossils of animals such as elephants and hippos, as well as the earliest known evidence of tools used as spears from a level dated to half a million years ago.

"We need to imagine a landscape around Kathu that supported large populations of human ancestors, as well as large animals like hippos. All indications suggest that Kathu was much wetter, maybe more like the Okavango than the Kalahari. There is no question that the Kathu Complex presents unique opportunities to investigate the evolution of human ancestors in Southern Africa."

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by University of Toronto.

Journal Reference:
Steven J. H. Walker, Vasa Lukich, Michael Chazan. Kathu Townlands: A High
Density Earlier Stone Age Locality in the Interior of South Africa. , July
24, 2014 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103436