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May 13, 2016

World\’s oldest known hafted axe fragment found in Western Australia

World’s oldest known hafted axe fragment found in Western Australia

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Friday, May 13, 2016

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On Wednesday Australian archaeologists published an analysis of a previously discovered axe fragment which indicates it is up to 49,000 years old.

The axe fragment was originally discovered in Western Australia‘s Kimberley region in 1991 by Professor Sue O’Connor of the Australian National University but was only recently examined. The recent analysis and dating published in journal Australian Archaeology indicates the fragment came from the head of a hafted axe 46,000 to 49,000 years old. This is currently the world’s oldest known hafted axe fragment.

According to coauthor Professor O’Connor, this predates all other known evidence of axe hafting, as in Japan where evidence of hafted axes around 35,000 years old has been found. Professor O’Connor said, “Nowhere else in the world do you get axes at this date […] in most countries in the world they arrived with agriculture after 10,000 years ago.”

Analysis by coauthor Professor Peter Hiscock of the University of Sydney showed the axe-head was made of basalt, a hard volcanic rock. Axe-heads like this one would have been ground against a softer rock to shape and polish them. This recent discovery indicates the early inhabitants of Australia developed and used complex tools soon after they arrived in Australia 50,000 to 55,000 years ago.



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August 26, 2012

New research shows over 400 languages may have originated in Turkey

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

The ancient land of Anatolia is now in the west of modern Turkey.
Image: NASA.

Journal Science published research this week showing that modern Indo-European languages originated in Turkey, around 9,000 years ago. Over 400 languages, spoken by in excess of 3 billion people, are traced back to Anatolia, now part of modern-day Turkey.

The paper, “Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family“, contradicts the established view that the Indo-European group of languages originated in the Pontic steppes of south-west Russia around 6,000 years ago. Researchers used techniques originally developed to track the spread of viral epidemics to give new insights into the development of languages. They say that “Both the inferred timing and root location of the Indo-European language trees fit with an agricultural expansion from Anatolia beginning 8,000 to 9,500 years ago.”

The hypothesis that Indo-European languages came from Anatolia was first proposed in the 1980s by archaeologist Colin Renfew, Baron Renfew of Kaimsthorn.



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New research shows over 400 languages originated in Turkey

New research shows over 400 languages originated in Turkey

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

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The ancient land of Anatolia is now in the west of modern Turkey.
Image: NASA.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Academic journal Science published research this week claiming that modern Indo-European languages originated in Turkey, around 9,000 years ago. Over 400 languages, spoken by in excess of 3 billion people, are traced back to Anatolia, now part of modern-day Turkey.

The paper, “Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family“, contradicts the established view that the Indo-European group of languages originated in the Pontic steppes of south-west Russia around 6,000 years ago. Researchers used techniques originally developed to track the spread of viral epidemics to give new insights into the development of languages. They say that “Both the inferred timing and root location of the Indo-European language trees fit with an agricultural expansion from Anatolia beginning 8,000 to 9,500 years ago.”

The hypothesis that Indo-European languages came from Anatolia was first proposed in the 1980s by archaeologist Colin Renfew, Baron Renfew of Kaimsthorn.



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March 23, 2012

Roman coins hoard found in Somerset, England

Roman coins hoard found in Somerset, England

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Friday, March 23, 2012

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It has now emerged that in the past four to five years, approximately thirty thousand silver Roman coins were discovered in the city of Bath, in Somerset, England.

A model of the nearby baths and an adjoining temple, as they would have appeared in Roman times.
Image: Rod Ward.

Archaeologists discovered the coins, which are thought to date back to the year 270, on the site of a new hotel on Beau Street in the city as work was underway 150 metres away from the Roman Baths. The hoard, named as the Beau Street Hoard, is understood to be the fifth largest ever uncovered in the United Kingdom and the greatest one found at a Roman town in the country.

Speaking on behalf of Roman Baths, Stephen Clews stated: “We’ve put in a request for a formal valuation and then hope to buy the coins to display them at the baths. At the time there was a lot of unrest in the Roman Empire so there may be some explanation for why the coins were hidden away.” This discovery was “unusual as it was discovered by professional archaeologists as opposed to an amateur using a metal detector,” according to Clews.

The discovered coins were found to be in a large block joined together, increasing the difficulty of establishing what exact kind of coins these are, as well as the total number of them. The hoard has been sent to the British Museum in the capital London where conservators are anticipated to take twelve months or more to analyse the coins.

The Roman Baths is now attempting to accumulate £150,000 (180,000 or US$237,000) in funding so as to allow them to acquire the coins and place them on display.



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June 22, 2011

Brazil spots unknown tribe of indigenous people in Amazon jungle

Brazil spots unknown tribe of indigenous people in Amazon jungle

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Map of Brazil. Javari river valley reservation is near the border of Peru.
Image: Felipe Menegaz.

Brazil has located an isolated group of indigenous, uncontacted people in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, the Brazilian National Foundation of Indians (FUNAI) announced today.

FUNAI, a state agency, uses aerial expeditions to avoid impacting uncontacted people and invading their land. The agency’s policy is to avoid maintaining any human contact with untouched tribes.

Clearings in the Javari river valley reservation were first identified by satellite; the group’s existence was only verified later by air flights over the area. The flights established the existence of three clearings with four straw-roofed buildings, known as malocas, which may shelter over 200 Indians. Also visible were areas where crops such as bananas, maize and perhaps peanuts were apparently being grown.

FUNAI’s Javari valley coodinator told the Brazilian news agency Estado that both the croplands and the malocas “are new” and are estimated to have been used “for at most one year”.

Cquote1.svg [T]he Amazon region contains the majority of untouched tribes without any contact with the exterior in the World. Cquote2.svg

—Fabricio Amorim, FUNAI coordinator

Amorim said, “[T]he Amazon region contains the majority of untouched tribes without any contact with the exterior in the World.” And he said the recent findings highlight that the Javari valley holds, “the greatest concentration of isolated groups in Amazonia“.

The newly identified group is located close to Brazil’s border with Peru in the huge Vale do Javari reservation. Fourteen known uncontacted tribes have been spotted there and up to eight more are suggested by aerial evidence. Altogether, there are about 2,000 individuals in the reservation, according to Amorim.

He said that their culture and their very survival is threatened by illegal removal of the area’s natural resources, as well as many other intrusions of civilization, but most of Brazil’s indigenous groups have not changed their languages or traditions. FUNAI estimates that the recently discovered tribe likely belongs to the pano language group.

Brazil’s indigenous peoples have tenaciously fought for their legal right to reclaim their traditional lands which were allotted to them in Brazil’s 1988 constitution stating that all indigenous ancestral lands were to have their boundaries clearly marked and returned to tribes within five years.



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June 11, 2010

World\’s oldest leather shoe found in Armenia

World’s oldest leather shoe found in Armenia

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Friday, June 11, 2010

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Areni village as seen from Areni Church

What is believed to be the world’s oldest leather shoe, over 5,500 year old, has been found in a cave in Armenia by a team of archaeologists.

The Armenian shoe is in a perfectly preserved condition and is a few hundred years older than the one found on Ötzi the Iceman, making it the oldest piece of leather footwear in the world, and the oldest footwear yet found in Europe. Researchers published details in the journal PLoS ONE.

The leather shoe was found in a cave dubbed Areni-1, near the village of Areni in the Vayots Dzor province of Armenia, on the Iranian and Turkish borders. “I was amazed to find that even the shoe-laces were preserved,” recalled Diana Zardaryan, the Armenian PhD student who made the discovery.

According to researchers, the shoe, made of cow-hide, consists of only one leather piece and was probably customised to the wearer’s foot. It was relatively small, measuring the corresponding to European size 37 or US size 7 women, however, it could have been worn by a man.

It was kept in excellent condition by a thick layer of sheep excrement, which acted as a seal, helping it survive the millennia. The shoe contained grass, although the archaeologists were uncertain as to whether this was to used to maintain the shape of the shoe and/or prepare it for storage.

“We thought initially that the shoe and other objects were about 600-700 years old because they were in such good condition,” said co-author Dr. Ron Pinhasi from the University College Cork in Ireland. “It was only when the material was dated by the two radiocarbon laboratories in Oxford and in California that we realised that the shoe was a few hundred years older than the shoes worn by Ötzi the Iceman”.

The shoe and the cave will continue to be researched. “We do not know yet what the shoe or other objects were doing in the cave or what the purpose of the cave was”, said Pinhasi, “We know that there are children’s graves at the back of the cave but so little is known about this period that we cannot say with any certainty why all these different objects were found together”.

Currently, the oldest known footwear are sandals made from sagebrush bark, found in Fort Rock Cave, Oregon in the United States. These shoes were discovered in 1938, and have been dated to about 10,000 years before present.

Discoveries within the cave move early bronze-age cultural activity in Armenia back by about 800 years. Additional discoveries yielded an extensive array of Copper Age artifacts dating to between 6,200 and 5,900 years ago.



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March 14, 2010

UK Wikinews Shorts: March 14, 2010

UK Wikinews Shorts: March 14, 2010 – Wikinews, the free news source

UK Wikinews Shorts: March 14, 2010

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A compilation of brief news reports for Sunday, March 14, 2010.

Archaeologists: 51 decapitated skeletons discovered in pit in Dorset, England were Vikings

Map of England with Dorset highlighted in red

According to what archaeologists have stated, 51 decapitated skeletons that were discovered in a burial pit in Dorset, England in June 2009, after excavations took place there, belonged to Vikings and are approximately a thousand years old. On closer inspection, analysis of the teeth on ten of the male bodies found that the individuals came from a country with a climate colder than that of the United Kingdom, most likely the Scandinavian region of Europe. Archaeologists from Oxford, Oxfordshire think that the Viking people were possibly given an execution by Anglo-Saxons, who came from a local area, between the years of approximately 910 AD and approximately 1030 AD, according to radiocarbon dating.

David Score, who is the manager of the Oxford Archaeology project, stated: “To find out that the young men executed were Vikings is a thrilling development. Any mass grave is a relatively rare find, but to find one on this scale, from this period of history, is extremely unusual.”

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Man dies after van and truck crash in Cheshire, England

File photo of a Ford Transit from 2007

A man who came from Greater Manchester, England has died after being involved in a two vehicle collision in the county of Cheshire in the same country. The gentleman, who is currently remaining unidentified, was travelling on the A57 road in his Ford Transit when he crashed into a heavy goods vehicle at approximately 0005 GMT on Saturday. A spokesperson for Cheshire Police stated that the 20-year-old man was declared dead at the scene of the collision. The truck driver suffered from minor injuries.

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One dead after car collides with bicycle in Tyne and Wear, England

File photo of a Vauxhall Vectra from 2009

A girl has died after her bicycle collided with a car in Tyne and Wear, in the north-east of England. The 11-year-old has been identifed as Kately Weldon. According to police, she came from the local area. She was riding on her bicycle in the city of Sunderland at 2049 GMT on Saturday when a Vauxhall Vectra collided into her, causing her to fall of the bike. She was fatally injured as a result of the crash, which closed the road the collision occurred on for three hours so as to allow an investigation to take place. No other individuals suffered injuries as a result of the incident.

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January 25, 2010

People limited to 150 friends, despite Facebook, says academic

People limited to 150 friends, despite Facebook, says academic

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Monday, January 25, 2010

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Human brains cannot manage more than 150 friendships – even with the advent of social networking websites like Facebook, Bebo and Myspace. This is the conclusion of Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford. Dunbar originally carried out research in this area in the 1990s, looking at social groups from modern offices back to ancient villages. He found that the neocortex in the brain, used for thinking and language, cannot cope with more than 150 friends – a conclusion known as “Dunbar’s number”. Groups of people tend to be limited to about 150 as, beyond that, social cohesion suffers. Revisiting the topic, Dunbar’s view is that this number has not increased even with online methods of keeping in touch with friends, like Facebook.

Dunbar compared the online activity of those with thousands of internet friends and those with hundreds, before concluding that there was no appreciable difference in their levels of activity. He defined a friend as someone that the individual cared about and made contact with at least yearly. “The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world. […] People obviously like the kudos of having hundreds of friends but the reality is that they’re unlikely to be bigger than anyone else’s”, he observed.

Another conclusion of his study was that women were better at keeping friendships going on Facebook than men – “girls are much better at maintaining relationships just by talking to each other. Boys need to do physical stuff together”. The full results of his study are due to be published later in 2010.

Dunbar, 52, has been an Oxford professor since 2007, having previously been Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Liverpool. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.



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November 4, 2009

Staffordshire hoard goes on display in British Museum in London, England

Staffordshire hoard goes on display in British Museum in London, England

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Archaeology
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Some of the notable pieces from the gold and silver hoard which was found in a private field in Staffordshire, England by a metal-detector user have been put on display in the British Museum in the city of London.

A photo of one of the gold pieces found in the Staffordshire hoard

Approximately 1,500 pieces were found in July of this year; the discovery was reported by news sources in September. The value of the hoard itself is still being checked. 18 of the pieces have now gone on display in the museum in London, England, and can be seen by members of the public.

Fred Johnson, who is the owner of the land in which the hoard was found, said: “It’s been an incredible experience. I’m overwhelmed by it all. They say this will change the history books; it’s a strange thought that came from something lying in my field all this time. I’m trying to keep a level head about it. I’m trying not to think at all about the value of it.” Johnson will share the sum of the value of the hoard with Terry Herbert, who found the pieces. The hoard is believed to date back to the 7th century.

“People laugh at metal detectorists,” Herbert said in late September. “I’ve had people go past and go ‘beep beep, he’s after pennies’. Well no, we are out there to find this kind of stuff and it is out there.”

Cquote1.svg What is interesting about the hoard as a whole is all the objects are associated with war to some or a greater extent. Cquote2.svg

—Michael Lewis, Deputy Head of Department of Portable Antiquities in the British Museum

Michael Lewis is the deputy head of the Department of Portable Antiquities in the British Museum. Speaking to BBC News about this event, he said: “The view is that it was probably in some sort of container but that has not survived and it was deliberately hoarded, put into the ground, what is unclear is why, and I suppose what we find is they would have been objects that had been stripped from the enemies’ weapons.

“What is interesting about the hoard as a whole is all the objects are associated with war to some or a greater extent. What the hoard consists of is mainly gold objects, there are some silver ones, basically they have been stripped from whatever they were on for instance sword fittings. What it demonstrates is that the Anglo-Saxons as a people were very able to do amazing things with objects and I reckon people nowadays attempting to make these objects would have great difficulty in doing so.”



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September 24, 2009

Large hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold found in Staffordshire, England

Large hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold found in Staffordshire, England

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Archaeology
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Pieces from the hoard.
Image: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

A large hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold has been found in a field in Staffordshire, England.

The hoard, which was found in a private field over the course of five days in July 2009, is in fact the most Anglo-Saxon gold that has ever been unearthed at one site in the United Kingdom. Roughly 1,500 gold and silver pieces were found and the hoard contains roughly 5kgs of gold and 2.5kgs of silver — far more than the previous record of 2.5kgs of gold which was found at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge.

The big haul in Staffordshire was found by 55-year-old Terry Herbert, while he was using a metal-detector. He had asked a local farmer’s permission to search the land beforehand. Terry is unemployed, and has been in the hobby of metal-detecting for the last 18 years. He said: “People laugh at metal detectorists.

“I’ve had people go past and go ‘beep beep, he’s after pennies’. Well no, we are out there to find this kind of stuff and it is out there.”

It is estimated to take over twelve months before the value of the hoard can be valued specifically. South Staffordshire Coroner Andrew Haigh declared it “treasure”. That means that it belongs to the Crown. Archaeology experts have predicted that it could be worth “a seven-figure sum” and that the treasure may date back to the 7th century. The exact location where the hoard was found is currently being kept secret.



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