Daily Dose of Archaeology: 5.0

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Jun 2014
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Over 1,000 Ancient Stone Tools, Left by Great Basin Hunters, Found in Utah Desert | Western Digs An array of stone tools discovered in northern Utah — including the largest instrument of its kind ever recorded — may change what we know about the ancient inhabitants of the Great Basin, archaeologists say.

Researchers exploring the desert flats west of Salt Lake City have uncovered more than a thousand tools, such as spear points, a type of rectangular implement that hasn’t been reported before, and objects that an archaeologist describes as “giant scrapers coming out of the ground … fresh as daisies.”
 

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Jun 2014
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Prehistoric Temples on Maui Reveal Origins of Island?s First Kingdom | Western Digs The remains of small sea creatures are providing fresh insights into one of the most important periods in the history of pre-contact Hawaii, archaeologists say.

A new study of indigenous temples, or heiau, on the island of Maui has set out to identify when the island’s native population — initially spread out over several small chiefdoms — first came together under a single ruler. “Heiau vary tremendously in size and form; there were different kinds of heiau for different gods,” he explained.

“When in use, they had thatched buildings to hold temple paraphernalia, wooden images, wooden oracle towers, et cetera, but all of those perishable superstructures are now gone.... Kirch and his colleagues dated the sites using a different technique. Instead of analyzing carbon, they studied the corals’ levels of uranium, which decays into the element thorium at predictable rates.

Their analysis of 46 coral samples from 26 of the temple sites suggests that most of the heiau were built more recently and more rapidly, over a span of no more than 150 years, ending around the year 1700.
 

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Jun 2014
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Bodies believed to be of Japanese WWII soldiers discovered in Palau cave sealed off for 70 years - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) The bodies of six soldiers, believed to be Japanese troops who fought in World War II, have been discovered in a reopened cave in the tiny Pacific nation of Palau.

The site — one of around 200 sealed caves on the island of Pelileu — was recently opened again for the first time in nearly 70 years.

The caves were used when US and Japanese forces fought a fierce battle on the island's beaches in September 1944.

Steve Ballinger, operations director with non-government organisation Cleared Ground Demining, said the bodies of the six soldiers would be repatriated. "During the detection and investigation we located hand grenades, large projectiles, small arms ammunition and (an) array of explosive remnants of war," he said.

The decision to open the caves in Palau comes ahead of an imperial visit next week by Japanese emperor Akihito and empress Michiko.

The team tasked with making the caves safe for anthropologists to investigate has been operating in Palau to clear remnants of WWII ordnance for six years.
 

okamido

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Jun 2009
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Altamura Man yields oldest Neanderthal DNA sample
A team of researchers working in Italy has confirmed that Altamura Man was a Neanderthal and dating of pieces of calcite which were on the remains has revealed that the bones are 128,000 to 187,000 years old. In their paper published in the Journal of Human Evolution, the team describes how they extracted a small bone sample and examined it and what they found by doing so.

Altamura Man was discovered in a cave in southern Italy in 1993 by cave explorers. The finding was reported to researchers at the University of Bari. The remains were embedded in rock and were covered in a thick layer of calcite (they lie in a karst borehole rich in limestone amid running water.) It was thought that excavating the remains would cause irreparable damage and thus, they have remained in situ for over twenty years, leaving researchers to rely on casual observation for their studies. For that reason, there was some debate initially about morphology and age. Subsequent study led to a consensus that the remains (only the head and part of a shoulder are visible) were that of an archaic Neanderthal, of a Homo genus believed to have been widespread in Europe 200,000 to 40,000 years ago.
 

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Jun 2014
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The Archaeology News Network: Two Old Kingdom tombs discovered south of Saqqara During excavation work by the French Institute for Oriental Studies (IFAO) at Tabetl Algish in the south Saqqara necropolis, two very-well preserved tombs were uncovered.The tombs belong to two priests from the reign of the sixth dynasty King Pepi II, and include their skeletons and a few items of their funerary collection. The first priest is named Ankhti and the second is Saby.

 

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Jun 2014
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The Archaeology News Network: Stone tools at Greek site at least 206,000 years old Paleontologist Vangelis Tourloukis of Eberhard Karls Universitat Tubingen in Germany told the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists that stone implements from a higher sediment layer at a site known as Kokkinopilos date back to about 206,000 years ago, while implements from a higher sediment layer date to about 172,000 years ago.

 

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Jun 2014
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The Archaeology News Network: Battle of Waterloo skeleton identified by historian The only complete skeleton from the Battle of Waterloo found in the last 200 years was discovered under a parking lot, and that's not even the most interesting thing about it.
The skeleton belongs to a Hanoverian man with a hunchback, the archaeologists announced. The find is truly unique, though, because the musket ball that killed the man was still stuck in the skeleton's ribs.The skeleton was first discovered in 2012, but archaeologists have just now revealed the details and significance of the find.

One historian, Gareth Glover, believes he knows exactly who the skeleton belongs to: Friedrich Brandt, a 23-year-old private in the King's German Legion of George III. Brandt was killed by a musket ball, The Independent reports.
 

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Jun 2014
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The Archaeology News Network: Mummies from Hungary reveal TB's Roman lineage Bodies found in a 200 year-old Hungarian crypt have revealed the secrets of how tuberculosis (TB) took hold in 18th century Europe, according to a research team led by the University of Warwick.

A new study published in Nature Communications details how samples taken from naturally mummified bodies found in an 18th century crypt in the Dominican church of Vác in Hungary have yielded 14 tuberculosis genomes, suggesting that mixed infections were common when TB was at peak prevalence in Europe.