Daily Dose of Archaeology: 5.0

okamido

Forum Staff
Jun 2009
29,885
land of Califia
Stone-age Italians defleshed their dead | Science/AAAS | News
About 7000 years ago in Italy, early farmers practiced an unusual burial ritual known as “defleshing.” When people died, villagers stripped their bones bare, pulled them apart, and mingled them with animal remains in a nearby cave. The practice was meant to separate the dead from the living, researchers say, writing in the latest issue of the journal Antiquity.

“[Defleshing] is something which occurs in burial rites around the world but hasn't been known for prehistoric Europe yet," says John Robb, an archaeologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and leader of the research project. Robb and his team examined the scattered bones of at least 22 Neolithic humans—many children—who died between 7200 and 7500 years ago. Their remains were buried in Scaloria Cave, a stalactite-filled grotto in the Tavoliere region of southeastern Italy, where Robb says that they provide the "first well-documented case for early farmers in Europe of people trying to actively deflesh the dead."

The cave—sealed off until its discovery in 1931—was uniquely able to preserve the human remains, which were mixed randomly with animal bones, broken pottery, and stone tools. This level of preservation is unusual: "Neolithic assemblages are often very challenging to interpret, as they are commonly broken, mixed up, and poorly preserved," says Martin Smith, a biological anthropologist at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the research.
 

okamido

Forum Staff
Jun 2009
29,885
land of Califia
Earliest humans had diverse range of body types, just as we do today
One of the dominant theories of our evolution is that our genus, Homo, evolved from small-bodied early humans to become the taller, heavier and longer legged Homo erectus that was able to migrate beyond Africa and colonise Eurasia. While we know that small-bodied Homo erectus - averaging less than five foot (152cm) and under 50kg - were living in Georgia in southern Europe by 1.77 million years ago, the timing and geographic origin of the larger body size that we associate with modern humans has, until now, remained unresolved.
But a joint study by researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Tübingen (Germany), published today in the Journal of Human Evolution, has now shown that the main increase in body size occurred tens of thousands of years after Homo erectus left Africa, and primarily in the Koobi Fora region of Kenya. According to Manuel Will, a co-author of the study from the Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology at Tübingen, "the evolution of larger bodies and longer legs can thus no longer be assumed to be the main driving factor behind the earliest excursions of our genus to Eurasia".
Researchers say the results from a new research method, using tiny fragments of fossil to estimate our earliest ancestors' height and body mass, also point to the huge diversity in body size we see in humans today emerging much earlier than previously thought.
 

Lowell2

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,541
California
The Archaeology News Network: Roman horse skeleton found under hotel site
The skeleton of a horse thought to be from the Roman period has been discovered at the Biomedical Campus in Cambridge – three metres below ground with a broken leg.

Alison Dickens, archaeological manager at the Cambridge archeology unit at Cambridge University, said a full analysis had not yet been carried out but initial investigations by an animal bones specialist found it was a horse about one-and-half metres high. (about 14.3 hands).
 

Lowell2

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,541
California
The Archaeology News Network: Medieval priory discovered in Northumberland The remains of what is believed to be a medieval priory have been unearthed following a Time Team-style dig by Northumberland villagers. It was the latest in several attempts by villagers over recent years to find the priory, which was established in the 12th Century and lasted until it was targeted in Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.
 

Lowell2

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,541
California
The Archaeology News Network: Revisiting the origins of the Harappan civilisation Recent linguistic studies of the Rig Veda that show that the period is assignable to the 3rd - 4th millennia BCE, if not earlier, duly supported by the evidence of field archaeology, hydrology and radiocarbon dating, were discussed. The academics with their researches were able to nullify the misplaced belief that the Rigvedic people were nomads.
Fresh studies were included in the seminar that suggested that these people had regular settlements, sometimes even fortified, carried on trade by land and sea routes, and also had a governance, a regular hierarchy of rulers, including a Samrata (emperor), rajas (kings), rajakas (kinglings). The archaeological data presented negated invasion at any Harappan site, and claimed to put across the so called ‘massacre’ at Mohenjo-daro as ‘a myth’.
 

okamido

Forum Staff
Jun 2009
29,885
land of Califia
Together for 2000 years, ?father and son? in grave - Edinburgh Evening News

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have uncovered a 2000-year-old tomb believed to contain a wealthy father and son who were artisan weavers by trade and walked with the same “pigeon-toed” feet.

The men were laid to rest in an Iron Age stone cist close to the National Trust for Scotland’s (NTS) House of the Binns near Linlithgow.

One skeleton belonged to a man aged around 40 when he died between 92BC-65AD, while his relative was around 20 when he died some time later, 44BC-79AD, and his body was pushed in alongside him.
Skeletal analysis shows both men stood around 5ft 5in tall and suffered from worn teeth associated with weaving.

They also shared an unusual anomaly of the muscle attachment in the upper leg, which would have caused their legs to rotate inwards and made them walk with their toes turned in – pigeon-toed.
 

okamido

Forum Staff
Jun 2009
29,885
land of Califia
China's Mysterious Stone Circles May Have Been Used For Sacrifice
Mysterious stone formations found in China's Gobi Desert may have been built thousands of years ago by sun-worshipping nomads who used them for sacrifice, a local expert has announced.

About 200 of the circular formations have been found near Turpan City in the northwestern part of the country, China Daily reported.

Although they had been known to locals, especially those from the nearby village of Lianmuqin, the formations were first discovered by archaeologists in 2003. Some began to dig under the stones to search for graves. China's CCTV reported that no graves have been found, and local government has stepped in to stop the digging to protect the sites.

Now one archaeologist has said he believes the circles were used for sacrifice.

"Across Central Asia, these circles are normally sacrificial sites," Lyu Enguo, a local archaeologist who has done three studies at the circles, told CCTV.