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Neanderthal Division of Labor

February 19, 2015

MADRID, SPAIN—A study published by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has concluded that within communities of Neanderthals, some jobs were divvied up between men and women according to their sex. While the research showed that both sexes had dental grooves as a result of the use of their mouths as a kind of third hand, the grooves in the teeth of adult women were longer than those in adult men, leading to the conclusion that each sex performed different jobs, although it is not yet clear exactly which belonged to men and which to women. "Nevertheless, we believe that the specialization of labor by sex of the individuals was probably limited to a few tasks, as it is possible that both men and women participated equally in the hunting of big animals,” says Almudena Estalrrich of the CSIC. To read about the Neanderthal genome project, go to “Neanderthal Genome Decoded.” 

 

Categories: Blog

Neanderthal Division of Labor

February 19, 2015

MADRID, SPAIN—A study published by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has concluded that within communities of Neanderthals, some jobs were divvied between men and women according to their sex. While the research showed that both sexes had dental grooves as a result of the use of their mouths as a kind of third hand, the grooves in the teeth of adult women were longer than those in adult men, leading to the conclusion that each sex performed different jobs, although it is not yet clear exactly which belonged to men and which to women. "Nevertheless, we believe that the specialization of labor by sex of the individuals was probably limited to a few tasks, as it is possible that both men and women participated equally in the hunting of big animals,” says Almudena Estalrrich of the CSIC. To read about how the Neanderthal genome project, go to “Neanderthal Genome Decoded.” 

Categories: Blog

Researchers Discover How Ants Came to the Old World

February 19, 2015

CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS—Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have analyzed the genomes of insects from 192 locations and discovered that the tropical fire ant was the first great transatlantic ant explorer. Crews of 16th-century Spanish galleons would fill their ships with soil in the New World and, when they reached a new port, replace it with cargo, explains entomologist and biologist Andrew Suarez, one of the study’s authors. The ants would be offloaded at locations across Europe when the ballast was dumped. This invasive species of insect created a massive problem for local agriculture and native animal and bird populations.  “This was one of the first global invasions,” says Suarez. To read about a 16th-century galleon’s trip to the American South, go to “Sunken Dreams.”

Categories: Blog

Researchers Discover How Ants Came to the Old World

February 19, 2015

CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS—Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have analyzed the genomes of insects from 192 locations and discovered that that the tropical fire ant was the first great transatlantic ant explorer. Crews of 16th-century Spanish galleons would fill their ships with soil in the New World and, when they reached a new port, replace it with cargo, explains entomologist and biologist Andrew Suarez, one of the study’s authors. The ants would be offloaded at locations across Europe when the ballast was dumped. This invasive species of insect created a massive problem for local agriculture and native animal and bird populations.  “This was one of the first global invasions,” says Suarez. To read about a 16th-century galleon’s trip to the American South, go to “Sunken Dreams.”

Categories: Blog

Golden Treasure on the Seafloor

February 19, 2015

CAESAREA, ISRAEL—At the site of the ancient Roman harbor of Caesarea, scuba divers have discovered the largest hoard of gold coins ever found in Israel, reports the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Soon after they found the first coins, which were exposed by winter storms, the divers reported their discovery to authorities. Archaeologists from the IAA then explored the site, where they uncovered almost 2,000 coins dating from the second half of the ninth to the eleventh century A.D., the period of the Fatimid Caliphate. Marine archaeologist Kobi Sharvit of the IAA will lead future excavations on the seafloor near the findspot of the hoard in the hopes of possibly finding the ship that may have been carrying the coins, and that may have sunk to the bottom of the Mediterranean almost a thousand years ago.  To read about one of the largest coin hoards ever found in England—one of last year’s Top 10 Discoveries, go to “The Seaton Down Hoard.” 

Categories: Blog

Golden Treasure on the Seafloor

February 19, 2015

CAESAREA, ISRAEL—At the site of the ancient Roman harbor of Caesarea, scuba divers have discovered the largest hoard of gold coins ever found in Israel, reports the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Soon after they found the first coins, which were exposed by winter storms, the divers reported their discovery to authorities. Archaeologists from the IAA then explored the site, where they uncovered almost 2,000 coins dating from the second half of the ninth to the eleventh century A.D., the period of the Fatimid Caliphate. Marine archaeologist Kobi Sharvit of the IAA will lead future excavations on the seafloor near the findspot of the hoard in the hopes of possibly finding the ship that may have been carrying the coins, and that may have sunk to the bottom of the Mediterranean almost a thousand years ago.  To read about one of the largest coin hoards ever found in England—one of last year’s Top 10 Discoveries, go to “The Seaton Down Hoard.” 

Categories: Blog

A Surprise Discovery in Ireland

February 18, 2015

COUNTY TYRONE, NORTHERN IRELAND—At the site of Tullaghoge Fort, the hilltop where chieftans of the O’Neill clan were crowned from the 14th to 17th century, archaeologists have uncovered surprising evidence of inhabitants of this area from a much earlier time period when people first settled on the islands, reports the Belfast Telegraph. "We were looking back 700 years and we got 7,000, that would be a good way to put it," archaeologist John O’Keefe told the paper. During excavations in preparation for a new visitors’ center, researchers have unearthed flint tool fragments dating to before 5000 B.C. They also found other evidence at Tullaghoghe Fort that will help to fill in the site’s history before the powerful O’Neills ruled the land, including traces of cereal harvesting there during the 7th to 9th centuries A.D. "We think we have a better understanding of the site as it would have been when the O'Neills were there but now we have found this other layer of history that we didn't expect to find," said O'Keeffe. To read more about a series of puzzling Bronze Age structures in Ireland. Go to "Letter from Ireland: Mystery of the Fulacht Fiadh."

Categories: Blog

A Surprise Discovery in Ireland

February 18, 2015

COUNTY TYRONE, NORTHERN IRELAND—At the site of Tullaghoge Fort, the hilltop were chieftans of the O’Neill clan were crowned from the 14th to 17th century, archaeologists have uncovered surprising evidence of inhabitants of this area from a much earlier time period when people first settled on the islands, reports the Belfast Telegraph. "We were looking back 700 years and we got 7,000, that would be a good way to put it," archaeologist John O’Keefe told the paper. During excavations in preparation for a new visitors’ center, researchers have unearthed flint tool fragments dating to before 5000 B.C. They also found other evidence at Tullaghoghe Fort that will help to fill in the site’s history before the powerful O’Neills ruled the land, including traces of cereal harvesting there during the 7th to 9th centuries A.D. "We think we have a better understanding of the site as it would have been when the O'Neills were there but now we have found this other layer of history that we didn't expect to find," said O'Keeffe. To read more about a series of puzzling Bronze Age structures in Ireland. Go to "Letter from Ireland: Mystery of the Fulacht Fiadh."

Categories: Blog

Grand Mound to Reopen

February 18, 2015

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, MN—A place known for its frigid winter temperatures may soon be attracting visitors in the warmer months to see one of Minnesota’s most impressive ancient attractions. About 15 miles from the city, the site of Grand Mound, a 25-foot-high burial mound that is thought to be the largest prehistoric structure in the Midwest, may once again be open to the public after remaining closed for 8 years, reports the Grand Forks Herald. Though once concerned about using a burial site as a tourist attraction, the Indian Advisory Council now believes that it would be appropriate to open Grand Mound to visitors once again and to continue efforts to ensure the mound’s long-term preservation. Grand Mound is the largest of five burial mounds that make up the site and were built by the Laurel Indians more than 2,000 years ago. To read about massive prehistoric earthen mounds of Georgia, go to “City Beneath the Mounds.”

Categories: Blog

Grand Mound to Reopen

February 18, 2015

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, MN—A place known for its frigid winter temperatures may soon be attracting visitors in the warmer months to see one of Minnesota’s most impressive ancient attractions. About 15 miles from the city, the site of Grand Mound, a 25-foot-high burial mound that is thought to be the largest prehistoric structure in the Midwest, may once again be open to the public after remaining closed for 8 years, reports the Grand Forks Herald. Though once concerned about using a burial site as a tourist attraction, the Indian Advisory Council now believes that it would be appropriate to open Grand Mound to visitors once again and to continue efforts to ensure the mound’s long-term preservation. Grand Mound is the largest of five burial mounds that make up the site and were built by the Laurel Indians more than 2,000 years ago. To read about massive prehistoric earthen mounds of Georgia, go to “City Beneath the Mounds.”

Categories: Blog

Norway's Oldest Man

February 18, 2015

STOKKE, NORWAY—A skeleton found south of Oslo may be the oldest human remains ever found in the country. Dating to perhaps 8,000 years ago, the skeleton, dubbed “Brunstad Man,” is a “sensational discovery in a Norwegian, and indeed even in a north European context,” archaeologist Almut Schülke told The Local. Found in a fetal position, as is common for Mesolithic period (10,000-4000 B.C.) burials, Brunstad Man will be carefully studied at a laboratory in Oslo to determine his age at the time of his death and to search for evidence of his diet. Researchers also hope to learn how he found his way to Scandinavia so many thousands of years ago.  To read about the discovery of more than 100 medieval Norwegian burials, go to “Medieval Graves Unearthed in Norway.

Categories: Blog

Norway's Oldest Man

February 18, 2015

STOKKE, NORWAY—A skeleton found south of Oslo may be the oldest human remains ever found in the country. Dating to perhaps 8,000 years ago, the skeleton, dubbed “Brunstad Man,” is a “sensational discovery in a Norwegian, and indeed even in a north European context,” archaeologist Almut Schülke told The Local. Found in a fetal position, as is common for Mesolithic period (10,000-4000 B.C.) burials, Brunstad Man will be carefully studied at a laboratory in Oslo to determine his age at the time of his death and to search for evidence of his diet. Researchers also hope to learn how he found his way to Scandinavia so many thousands of years ago.  To read about the discovery of more than 100 medieval Norwegian burials, go to “Medieval Graves Unearthed in Norway.

Categories: Blog

A Trip to the Market

February 17, 2015

TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA—At the location of a former parking lot in the city of Hobart, a team from the University of Tasmania has uncovered artifacts relating to the site’s past history as a nineteenth-century farmer’s market, reports ABC News. Tokens for free beers or to signify good credit, coins, jewelry, and even parts of a leather saddle and riding boots are among the objects unearthed thus far on the site of what will be a new dormitory for students of the university. The site is one of the oldest parts of the city, with newly excavated remains of buildings dating back to the 1820s. To read about a prison for female convicts in Tasmania, go to “Convict Mothers.”

Categories: Blog

A Trip to the Market

February 17, 2015

TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA—At the location of a former parking lot in the city of Hobart, a team from the University of Tasmania has uncovered artifacts relating to the site’s past history as a nineteenth-century farmer’s market, reports ABC News. Tokens for free beers or to signify good credit, coins, jewelry, and even parts of a leather saddle and riding boots are among the objects unearthed thus far on the site of what will be a new dormitory for students of the university. The site is one of the oldest parts of the city, with newly excavated remains of buildings dating back to the 1820s. To read about a prison for female convicts in Tasmania, go to “Convict Mothers.”

Categories: Blog

Greek Double Burial

February 17, 2015

DIROS, GREECE—DNA tests on two skeletons found in 2013 at the site of Diros in southern Greece have revealed that they belong to a man and a woman buried almost 6,000 years ago, making it the oldest of this kind in the country, lead archaeologist Anastassia Papathanassiou told the Daily News. Although it is not yet clear how the man and woman, who appear to have been in their 20s, died, Papathanassiou says it is “most likely” they died holding each other. To read about another incredible double burial, go to “Eternal Embrace.”

Categories: Blog

Greek Double Burial

February 17, 2015

DIROS, GREECE—DNA tests on two skeletons found in 2013 at the site of Diros in southern Greece have revealed that they belong to a man and a woman buried almost 6,000 years ago, making it the oldest of this kind in the country, lead archaeologist Anastassia Papathanassiou told the Daily News. Although it is not yet clear how the man and woman, who appear to have been in their 20s, died, Papathanassiou says it is “most likely” they died holding each other. To read about another incredible double burial, go to “Eternal Embrace.”

Categories: Blog

Bronze Hoard Discovered in Poland

February 17, 2015

RZEPEDZ, POLAND—At a remote site in the Bieszczady Mountains, beyond the Carpathian Mountains, Polish archaeologists have uncovered a hoard of bronze artifacts including a pickax, and a necklace and bracelet hidden inside a clay vessel. According to Science & Scholarship in Poland, the find was originally made by an amateur who saw the ax sticking out of the ground and immediately alerted the local museum. "For me, as an archaeologist, it is very important that after finding one object the discoverer did not explore the place further himself, but reported the discovery and waited for specialists,” says Sanok Museum archaeologist Piotr Kotowicz, adding, “We do not yet know who and why had hidden the treasure so carefully.” To read more the discovery of a Viking burial in Poland, go to “An Elite Viking.”

Categories: Blog

Bronze Hoard Discovered in Poland

February 17, 2015

RZEPEDZ, POLAND—At a remote site in the Bieszczady Mountains, beyond the Carpathian Mountains, Polish archaeologists have uncovered a hoard of bronze artifacts including a pickax, and a necklace and bracelet hidden inside a clay vessel. According to Science & Scholarship in Poland, the find was originally made by an amateur who saw the ax sticking out of the ground and immediately alerted the local museum. "For me, as an archaeologist, it is very important that after finding one object the discoverer did not explore the place further himself, but reported the discovery and waited for specialists,” says Sanok Museum archaeologist Piotr Kotowicz, adding, “We do not yet know who and why had hidden the treasure so carefully.” To read more the discovery of a Viking burial in Poland, go to “An Elite Viking.”

Categories: Blog

Italian Cholera Victims Unearthed

February 17, 2015

COLUMBUS, OHIO—Archaeologists from The Ohio State University and the University of Pisa are excavating a village cemetery surrounding an abandoned church in Tuscany. In the 1850s, victims of a worldwide cholera epidemic were buried there. The bodies were buried quickly and covered in lime, likely to contain the disease’s spread, which had the unintended consequence of preserving the bones, says Ohio State bioarchaeologist Clark Spencer Larsen. “To our knowledge, these are the best preserved remains of cholera victims of this time period ever found,” says Larsen. “We’re very excited about what we may be able to learn.” The lime also may have preserved the DNA of bacteria, and the team is now studying samples of soil trapped near the bones for traces of the bacterium that causes cholera. The cemetery was in use from 1056, so the team might also recover the remains of 14th-century victims of the Black Death, as well as people from other eras. “We have a thousand-year window into the health of this village,” Larsen said. “It is a microcosm of what is happening in Italy and all of Europe during this time frame.” For more, read “Medieval DNA, Modern Medicine.”

Categories: Blog

Italian Cholera Victims Unearthed

February 17, 2015

COLUMBUS, OHIO—Archaeologists from The Ohio State University and the University of Pisa are excavating a village cemetery surrounding an abandoned church in Tuscany. In the 1850s, victims of a worldwide cholera epidemic were buried there. The bodies were bried quickly and covered in lime, likely to contain the disease’s spread, which had the unintended consequence of preserving the bones, says Ohio State bioarchaeologist Clark Spencer Larsen. “To our knowledge, these are the best preserved remains of cholera victims of this time period ever found,” says Larsen. “We’re very excited about what we may be able to learn.” The lime also may have preserved the DNA of bacteria, and the team is now studying soil samples from the genetic signature of the bacterium that causes cholera. The cemetery was in use from 1056, so the team might also recover the remains of 14th-century victims of the Black Death, as well as people from other eras. “We have a thousand-year window into the health of this village,” Larsen said. “It is a microcosm of what is happening in Italy and all of Europe during this time frame.” For more, read “Medieval DNA, Modern Medicine.”

Categories: Blog

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