Tag Archives | Archaeology

Stonehenge Expert Julian Richards on The Black Fridays!

The Black Fridays Episode 16 — Julian Richards

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The Black Fridays is pleased to bring you Julian Richards! We believe Julian to be one of the foremost experts on Stonehenge today and we were thrilled that stopped by for a chat! We cover most of the new discoveries that have been made in the areas around the site, as well as other sites of interest in the vicinity. Our honor to talk to Julian … we hope you enjoy!

You can learn more about Julian Richards at www.archaemedia.net.

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Enter Syria’s ‘Tell Zeidan’: A 7,500 Year-Old Harbinger of The World’s First Cities

Truly fascinating article from John Noble Wilford in the New York Times. Is this the place where social classes — the rich and the poor — as we know them today first emerged? Reports the New York Times:
Tell Zeidan Artifacts

Archaeologists have embarked on excavations in northern Syria expected to widen and deepen understanding of a prehistoric culture in Mesopotamia that set the stage for the rise of the world’s first cities and states and the invention of writing.

In two seasons of preliminary surveying and digging at the site known as Tell Zeidan, American and Syrian investigators have already uncovered a tantalizing sampling of artifacts from what had been a robust pre-urban settlement on the upper Euphrates River. People occupied the site for two millenniums, until 4000 BC — a little-known but fateful period of human cultural evolution.

Scholars of antiquity say that Zeidan should reveal insights into life in a time called the Ubaid period, 5500 to 4000 BC.

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Dr. Robert Schoch on The Black Fridays!

The Black Fridays Episode 14 — Dr. Robert Schoch

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Robert SchochWell, what can we say? Dr. Robert Schoch! How humbling it has been to have the guests we’ve had so far! But, this goes beyond our expectations. We talk with Dr. Schoch about his findings in Bosnia and Japan and of course his discoveries that turned the scientific world on it’s head.

Dr. Robert M. Schoch, a full-time faculty member at the College of General Studies at Boston University since 1984, earned his Ph.D. (1983) in Geology and Geophysics at Yale University. He also holds an M.S. and M.Phil. in Geology and Geophysics from Yale, as well as degrees in Anthropology (B.A.) and Geology (B.S.) from George Washington University.

Dr. Schoch is the author or coauthor of both technical and popular books, including the trilogy with R. A. McNally: Voices of the Rocks: A Scientist Looks at Catastrophes and Ancient Civilizations (1999), Voyages of the Pyramid Builders: The True Origins of the Pyramids from Lost Egypt to Ancient America (2003), and Pyramid Quest: Secrets of the Great Pyramid and the Dawn of Civilization (2005).… Read the rest

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Vampire Exorcism Skull Found in Venice

Venice VampireMove over Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, looks like the Old World had their fair share of these abominations. Christine Dell’Amore reports on National Geographic:

Among the many medieval plague victims recently unearthed near Venice, Italy, one reportedly had never-before-seen evidence of an unusual affliction: being “undead.”

The partial body and skull of the woman showed her jaw forced open by a brick (above) — an exorcism technique used on suspected vampires.

It’s the first time that archaeological remains have been interpreted as belonging to a suspected vampire, team leader Matteo Borrini, a forensic archaeologist at the University of Florence, told National Geographic News.

“I was lucky. I [didn't] expect to find a vampire during my excavations,” he said. Belief in vampires was rampant in the Middle Ages, mostly because the process of decomposition was not well understood.

For instance, as the human stomach decays, it releases a dark “purge fluid.” This bloodlike liquid can flow freely from a corpse’s nose and mouth, so it was apparently sometimes confused with traces of vampire victims’ blood.

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Oldest ‘Writing’ Found On 60,000-Year-Old Eggshells

What do they say? (Image: Pierre-Jean Texier/Diepkloof Project)

By Kate Ravilious for New Scientist:

Could these lines etched into 60,000-year-old ostrich eggshells (see photo) be the earliest signs of humans using graphic art to communicate?

Until recently, the first consistent evidence of symbolic communication came from the geometric shapes that appear alongside rock art all over the world, which date to 40,000 years ago (New Scientist, 20 February, p 30). Older finds, like the 75,000-year-old engraved ochre chunks from the Blombos cave in South Africa, have mostly been one-offs and difficult to tell apart from meaningless doodles.

The engraved ostrich eggshells may change that. Since 1999, Pierre-Jean Texier of the University of Bordeaux, France, and his colleagues have uncovered 270 fragments of shell at the Diepkloof Rock Shelter in the Western Cape, South Africa.

They show the same symbols are used over and over again, and the team say there are signs that the symbols evolved over 5000 years.

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Researchers Uncover 30,000-Year-Old Written Language

cave

The Globe and Mail reports on the discovery of what might be the earliest written language, comprised of lines and geometric shapes:

A graphic code uncovered by researchers at the University of Victoria suggests that written communication may have started 30,000 years ago.

Compiling the cave signs of nearly 150 sites across Ice Age France, researchers found striking similarities that suggest human beings may have used a graphic language made up of simple lines and geometric shapes to communicate shortly after the first African civilizations arrived in Europe…suggesting that the “creative explosion” occurred tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

26 signs illustrated in a consistent style were found across the sites using images from a digital archive. While the illustrations may be rudimentary – composed of circles, straight lines and triangles – she said they suggest the seeds of a prehistoric mode of communication.

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An Archaeological Dig in Turkey is Reshaping Human History

Patrick Symmes writes on Newsweek:
A temple complex in Turkey that predates even the pyramids is rewriting the story of human evolution.

They call it potbelly hill, after the soft, round contour of this final lookout in southeastern Turkey. To the north are forested mountains. East of the hill lies the biblical plain of Harran, and to the south is the Syrian border, visible 20 miles away, pointing toward the ancient lands of Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent, the region that gave rise to human civilization. And under our feet, according to archeologist Klaus Schmidt, are the stones that mark the spot — the exact spot — where humans began that ascent.
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The Roman Army Knife Predates the Swiss Army One by 1,800 Years

Via the Daily Mail:

The world’s first Swiss Army knife’ has been revealed — made 1,800 years before its modern counterpart. An intricately designed Roman implement, which dates back to 200 AD, it is made from silver but has an iron blade. It features a spoon, fork as well as a retractable spike, spatula and small tooth-pick.

Experts believe the spike may have been used by the Romans to extract meat from snails. The Roman army pen knife It is thought the spatula would have offered a means of poking cooking sauce out of narrow-necked bottles.

The 3 in x 6 in (8 cm x 15 cm) knife was excavated from the Mediterranean area more than 20 years ago and was obtained by the museum in 1991. The unique item is among dozens of artefacts exhibited in a newly refurbished Greek and Roman antiquities gallery at the Fitzwilliam Museum, in Cambridge.… Read the rest

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Egypt Announces Find of Ancient Cat Goddess Temple

HAMZA HENDAWI writes in the AP via Yahoo News:

CAIRO — Archaeologists have unearthed a 2,000-year-old temple that may have been dedicated to the ancient Egyptian cat goddess, Bastet, the Supreme Council of Antiquities said Tuesday. The ruins of the Ptolemaic-era temple were discovered by Egyptian archaeologists in the heart of the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C.

Cat Goddess Ancient Egypt

The city was the seat of the Greek-speaking Ptolemaic Dynasty, which ruled over Egypt for 300 years until the suicide of Queen Cleopatra. The statement said the temple was thought to belong to Queen Berenice, wife of King Ptolemy III who ruled Egypt in the 3rd century B.C.

Mohammed Abdel-Maqsood, the Egyptian archaeologist who led the excavation team, said the discovery may be the first trace of the long-sought location of Alexandria’s royal quarter. The large number of statues depicting Bastet found in the ruins, he said, suggested that this may be the first Ptolemaic-era temple dedicated to the cat goddess to be discovered in Alexandria.

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