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Archaeology Articles and Books
The latest research in archaeology and related subjects - exciting and engaging
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PLOS ONE: Presumed Symbolic Use of Diurnal Raptors by Neanderthals

PLOS ONE: Presumed Symbolic Use of Diurnal Raptors by Neanderthals | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

In Africa and western Eurasia, occurrences of burials and utilized ocher fragments during the late Middle and early Late Pleistocene are often considered evidence for the emergence of symbolically-mediated behavior. Perhaps less controversial for the study of human cognitive evolution are finds of marine shell beads and complex designs on organic and mineral artifacts in early modern human (EMH) assemblages conservatively dated to ≈100–60 kilo-years (ka) ago. Here we show that, in France, Neanderthals used skeletal parts of large diurnal raptors presumably for symbolic purposes at Combe-Grenal in a layer dated to marine isotope stage (MIS) 5b (≈90 ka) and at Les Fieux in stratigraphic units dated to the early/middle phase of MIS 3 (60–40 ka). The presence of similar objects in other Middle Paleolithic contexts in France and Italy suggest that raptors were used as means of symbolic expression by Neanderthals in these regions.

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PLOS ONE: Neanderthal Extinction by Competitive Exclusion

PLOS ONE: Neanderthal Extinction by Competitive Exclusion | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

Background

Despite a long history of investigation, considerable debate revolves around whether Neanderthals became extinct because of climate change or competition with anatomically modern humans (AMH).

 

Methodology/Principal Findings

We apply a new methodology integrating archaeological and chronological data with high-resolution paleoclimatic simulations to define eco-cultural niches associated with Neanderthal and AMH adaptive systems during alternating cold and mild phases of Marine Isotope Stage 3. Our results indicate that Neanderthals and AMH exploited similar niches, and may have continued to do so in the absence of contact.

 

Conclusions/Significance

The southerly contraction of Neanderthal range in southwestern Europe during Greenland Interstadial 8 was not due to climate change or a change in adaptation, but rather concurrent AMH geographic expansion appears to have produced competition that led to Neanderthal extinction.

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Discovery of a geoglyph on the Zjuratkul Ridge in the southern Urals

Discovery of a geoglyph on the Zjuratkul Ridge in the southern Urals | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

While traditionally archaeologists in the region have concentrated upon the study of steppe sites, recent archaeological investigations have led to many unexpected discoveries in the southern Urals. This mountain and woodland area, where Stone Age settlements interpreted as short-term camps of hunters and fishers are known to have existed, was studied only incidentally. Now new systematic work has begun to alter our understanding of this region. For example, many megalithic sites with features in common with European megaliths (Grigoriev & Vasina 2010) have been located: some 300 are known but have not yet been studied in detail. The hill figure discovered on the Zjuratkul Ridge and reported here adds a new element to this region.

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PLOS Genetics: The Date of Interbreeding between Neandertals and Modern Humans

PLOS Genetics: The Date of Interbreeding between Neandertals and Modern Humans | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

Comparisons of DNA sequences between Neandertals and present-day humans have shown that Neandertals share more genetic variants with non-Africans than with Africans. This could be due to interbreeding between Neandertals and modern humans when the two groups met subsequent to the emergence of modern humans outside Africa.

 

However, it could also be due to population structure that antedates the origin of Neandertal ancestors in Africa. We measure the extent of linkage disequilibrium (LD) in the genomes of present-day Europeans and find that the last gene flow from Neandertals (or their relatives) into Europeans likely occurred 37,000–86,000 years before the present (BP), and most likely 47,000–65,000 years ago.

 

This supports the recent interbreeding hypothesis and suggests that interbreeding may have occurred when modern humans carrying Upper Paleolithic technologies encountered Neandertals as they expanded out of Africa.

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British Library EThOS - search and order theses online

The home page of the British Library EThOS service. Search across 300,000+ theses for free and order full text quickly and easily.
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PLOS ONE: Risk of Resource Failure and Toolkit Variation in Small-Scale Farmers and Herders

PLOS ONE: Risk of Resource Failure and Toolkit Variation in Small-Scale Farmers and Herders | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

Recent work suggests that global variation in toolkit structure among hunter-gatherers is driven by risk of resource failure such that as risk of resource failure increases, toolkits become more diverse and complex.

 

Here we report a study in which we investigated whether the toolkits of small-scale farmers and herders are influenced by risk of resource failure in the same way. In the study, we applied simple linear and multiple regression analysis to data from 45 small-scale food-producing groups to test the risk hypothesis.

 

Our results were not consistent with the hypothesis; none of the risk variables we examined had a significant impact on toolkit diversity or on toolkit complexity. It appears, therefore, that the drivers of toolkit structure differ between hunter-gatherers and small-scale food-producers.

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The Bible and Interpretation - Bible and Archaeology: Another try

The Bible and Interpretation - Bible and Archaeology: Another try | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it
How should the historian deal with the biblical texts on the one hand and archaeological data on the other? The collapse of “biblical archaeology” has left many scholars without any agreed procedure. At one pole is a clique clinging to “biblical historicity”; at the other pole are those who want to construct a purely archaeological history. Between the poles lie the rest of us, apparently uncertain as to how to proceed. Some claim that biblical texts and archaeology largely do not intersect, and others that the biblical texts have virtually no relationship to history, some work ad hoc. I’m not going to provide names here, because any individual scholar may resent being crudely labelled.

Here, instead, I’m going to sketch a basic methodology, based on three principles.

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PLOS ONE: A Pre-Hispanic Head

PLOS ONE: A Pre-Hispanic Head | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

his report on a male head revealed biologic rhythms, as gleaned from hydrogen isotope ratios in hair, consistent with a South-American origin and Atomic Mass Spectrometry radiocarbon dating (AMS) compatible with the last pre-Hispanic period (1418–1491 AD, 95.4% probability). Biopsies showed exceptionally well-preserved tissues. The hair contained high levels of toxic elements (lead, arsenic and mercury) incompatible with life. There was no evidence for lead deposition in bone consistent with post-mortem accumulation of this toxic element in the hair. We propose that the high content of metals in hair was the result of metabolic activity of bacteria leading to metal complexation in extra cellular polymeric substances (EPS). This is a recognized protective mechanism for bacteria that thrive in toxic environments. This mechanism may account for the tissues preservation and gives a hint at soil composition where the head was presumably buried. Our results have implications for forensic toxicology which has, hitherto, relied on hair analyses as one means to reconstruct pre-mortem metabolism and for detecting toxic elements accumulated during life. Our finding also has implications for other archaeological specimens where similar circumstances may distort the results of toxicological studies.

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Saudi Aramco World : Discovery at al-Magar

Saudi Aramco World : Discovery at al-Magar | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it
Discovery at al-Magar...

 

When Mutlaq ibn Gublan decided to dig a birka (pond) to keep his camels watered, he arranged for a backhoe and drums of diesel fuel to be driven from the road to the site on his ancestral grazing lands in southwest Saudi Arabia. The spot he had chosen, amid finger-like valleys that cut through low sandstone hills, was near traces of an ancient waterfall, which hinted that, in millennia past, nature itself supplied more than a mere birka.

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The £50,000 Roman sarcophagus found abandoned under the bushes in a Dorset back garden

The £50,000 Roman sarcophagus found abandoned under the bushes in a Dorset back garden | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

A rare and beautifully carved Roman sarcophagus found overgrown by plants in a back garden is set to sell for more than £50,000.

An eagle-eyed antiques expert spotted a corner of what looked like a trough when he visited a property to look at some art indoors.

However, the expert spotted something in the garden - and fought through the undergrowth to reveal a 1,900-year-old marble sarcophagus.

 
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High-precision radiocarbon dating and historical biblical archaeology in southern Jordan

High-precision radiocarbon dating and historical biblical archaeology in southern Jordan | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

Recent excavations and high-precision radiocarbon dating from the largest Iron Age (IA, ca. 1200–500 BCE) copper production center in the southern Levant demonstrate major smelting activities in the region of biblical Edom (southern Jordan) during the 10th and 9th centuries BCE. Stratified radiocarbon samples and artifacts were recorded with precise digital surveying tools linked to a geographic information system developed to control on-site spatial analyses of archaeological finds and model data with innovative visualization tools. The new radiocarbon dates push back by 2 centuries the accepted IA chronology of Edom. Data from Khirbat en-Nahas, and the nearby site of Rujm Hamra Ifdan, demonstrate the centrality of industrial-scale metal production during those centuries traditionally linked closely to political events in Edom's 10th century BCE neighbor ancient Israel. Consequently, the rise of IA Edom is linked to the power vacuum created by the collapse of Late Bronze Age (LB, ca. 1300 BCE) civilizations and the disintegration of the LB Cypriot copper monopoly that dominated the eastern Mediterranean. The methodologies applied to the historical IA archaeology of the Levant have implications for other parts of the world where sacred and historical texts interface with the material record.

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PLOS ONE: The Pace of Cultural Evolution

PLOS ONE: The Pace of Cultural Evolution | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it
PLOS ONE:

 

Today, humans inhabit most of the world’s terrestrial habitats. This observation has been explained by the fact that we possess a secondary inheritance mechanism, culture, in addition to a genetic system. Because it is assumed that cultural evolution occurs faster than biological evolution, humans can adapt to new ecosystems more rapidly than other animals. This assumption, however, has never been tested empirically. Here, I compare rates of change in human technologies to rates of change in animal morphologies. I find that rates of cultural evolution are inversely correlated with the time interval over which they are measured, which is similar to what is known for biological rates. This correlation explains why the pace of cultural evolution appears faster when measured over recent time periods, where time intervals are often shorter. Controlling for the correlation between rates and time intervals, I show that (1) cultural evolution is faster than biological evolution; (2) this effect holds true even when the generation time of species is controlled for; and (3) culture allows us to evolve over short time scales, which are normally accessible only to short-lived species, while at the same time allowing for us to enjoy the benefits of having a long life history.

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Longer time scale for human evolution (Hawks 2012)

Longer time scale for human evolution (Hawks 2012) | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

Scally and Durbin published a recent review on the implications of a slower human autosomal mutation rate, and now John Hawks has a commentary on the same topic in PNAS (pdf; paywall). He goes through a lot of the evidence of early fossil hominins and ape and mentions several examples that harmonize with the slower mutation rate. As expected, he also finds a better agreement of the slow mutation rate with the evidence for Neandertals where 530,000 year old finds from Atapuerca show signs of belonging to the Neandertal lineage, a date that is inconsistent with a late divergence of modern humans and Neandertals. Finally, he has this to say about modern humans:

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Don’t trust an archaeologist about genetics, don’t trust a geneticist about archaeology | Gene Expression | Discover Magazine

Don’t trust an archaeologist about genetics, don’t trust a geneticist about archaeology | Gene Expression | Discover Magazine | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it
Anthroplogy | Human Evolution | Who to trust? That is the question when you don't know very much (all of us). Trust is precious, and to some extent sacred.
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Picturing the past : Past Horizons Archaeology

Picturing the past : Past Horizons Archaeology | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

The photographs are not only a window into the ancient past, they also document the ‘archaeo-interpreters’ as they have aged, the buildings as they have worn in and the gardens as they have matured. This small selection of 20 images from 2010 is just a taste of the hundreds of stunning photographs you can find on Hans’ Flickr Gallery.

This in a way is as valid as any research project as any publication - this is real life. 

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PLOS ONE: Pollen and Phytoliths from Fired Ancient Potsherds as Potential Indicators for Deciphering Past Vegetation and Climate in Turpan, Xinjiang, NW China

PLOS ONE: Pollen and Phytoliths from Fired Ancient Potsherds as Potential Indicators for Deciphering Past Vegetation and Climate in Turpan, Xinjiang, NW China | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

PLOS ONE:

It is demonstrated that palynomorphs can occur in fired ancient potsherds when the firing temperature was under 350°C. Pollen and phytoliths recovered from incompletely fired and fully fired potsherds (ca. 2700 yrs BP) from the Yanghai Tombs, Turpan, Xinjiang, NW China can be used as potential indicators for reconstructing past vegetation and corresponding climate in the area.

 

The results show a higher rate of recovery of pollen and phytoliths from incompletely fired potsherds than from fully fired ones. Charred phytoliths recovered from both fully fired and incompletely fired potsherds prove that degree and condition of firing result in a permanent change in phytolith color.

 

The palynological data, together with previous data of macrobotanical remains from the Yanghai Tombs, suggest that temperate vegetation and arid climatic conditions dominated in the area ca. 2700 yrs BP.

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PLOS ONE: The Sea Peoples, from Cuneiform Tablets to Carbon Dating

PLOS ONE: The Sea Peoples, from Cuneiform Tablets to Carbon Dating | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it
The 13th century BC witnessed the zenith of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean civilizations which declined at the end of the Bronze Age, ~3200 years ago. Weakening of this ancient flourishing Mediterranean world shifted the political and economic centres of gravity away from the Levant towards Classical Greece and Rome, and led, in the long term, to the emergence of the modern western civilizations. Textual evidence from cuneiform tablets and Egyptian reliefs from the New Kingdom relate that seafaring tribes, the Sea Peoples, were the final catalyst that put the fall of cities and states in motion. However, the lack of a stratified radiocarbon-based archaeology for the Sea People event has led to a floating historical chronology derived from a variety of sources spanning dispersed areas. Here, we report a stratified radiocarbon-based archaeology with anchor points in ancient epigraphic-literary sources, Hittite-Levantine-Egyptian kings and astronomical observations to precisely date the Sea People event. By confronting historical and science-based archaeology, we establish an absolute age range of 1192–1190 BC for terminal destructions and cultural collapse in the northern Levant. This radiocarbon-based archaeology has far-reaching implications for the wider Mediterranean, where an elaborate network of international relations and commercial activities are intertwined with the history of civilizations.
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PLOS ONE: Choosing the Best Plant for the Job: A Cost-Effective Assay to Prescreen Ancient Plant Remains Destined for Shotgun Sequencing

PLOS ONE: Choosing the Best Plant for the Job: A Cost-Effective Assay to Prescreen Ancient Plant Remains Destined for Shotgun Sequencing | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it
DNA extracted from ancient plant remains almost always contains a mixture of endogenous (that is, derived from the plant) and exogenous (derived from other sources) DNA. The exogenous ‘contaminant’ DNA, chiefly derived from microorganisms, presents significant problems for shotgun sequencing. In some samples, more than 90% of the recovered sequences are exogenous, providing limited data relevant to the sample. However, other samples have far less contamination and subsequently yield much more useful data via shotgun sequencing.

 

Given the investment required for high-throughput sequencing, whenever multiple samples are available, it is most economical to sequence the least contaminated sample. We present an assay based on quantitative real-time PCR which estimates the relative amounts of fungal and bacterial DNA in a sample in comparison to the endogenous plant DNA. Given a collection of contextually-similar ancient plant samples, this low cost assay aids in selecting the best sample for shotgun sequencing.

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Russian History: From the Early East Slavs to the Grand Duchy of Moscow | Global Research

Russian History: From the Early East Slavs to the Grand Duchy of Moscow | Global Research | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

This series is aimed at shedding light over contemporary Russian affairs, as I firmly believe that in order to analyze properly current international relations, one must get a strong historical background.

 

Part 1 will be dedicated to the foundation of the Russian state, and the process, as we will see, began way before 862. Indeed, a political embryo emerged with the state of Gardaríki, centered in Novgorod, which included the areas inhabited by Votes, Veps and Ilmen Slavs. It was set up by the Varangian chief Rurik in 862, marking the traditional beginning of Russian history.

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Robert T. Preston's curator insight, May 22, 2013 9:52 PM

Russian history is varied, and complex, but fascinating.

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Evidence of Authentic DNA from Danish Viking Age Skeletons Untouched by Humans for 1,000 Years

Evidence of Authentic DNA from Danish Viking Age Skeletons Untouched by Humans for 1,000 Years | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

Given the relative abundance of modern human DNA and the inherent impossibility for incontestable proof of authenticity, results obtained on ancient human DNA have often been questioned. The widely accepted rules regarding ancient DNA work mainly affect laboratory procedures, however, pre-laboratory contamination occurring during excavation and archaeological-/anthropological handling of human remains as well as rapid degradation of authentic DNA after excavation are major obstacles.

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PLOS ONE: Beeswax as Dental Filling on a Neolithic Human Tooth

PLOS ONE: Beeswax as Dental Filling on a Neolithic Human Tooth | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it
Evidence of prehistoric dentistry has been limited to a few cases, the most ancient dating back to the Neolithic. Here we report a 6500-year-old human mandible from Slovenia whose left canine crown bears the traces of a filling with beeswax. The use of different analytical techniques, including synchrotron radiation computed micro-tomography (micro-CT), Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating, Infrared (IR) Spectroscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), has shown that the exposed area of dentine resulting from occlusal wear and the upper part of a vertical crack affecting enamel and dentin tissues were filled with beeswax shortly before or after the individual’s death. If the filling was done when the person was still alive, the intervention was likely aimed to relieve tooth sensitivity derived from either exposed dentine and/or the pain resulting from chewing on a cracked tooth: this would provide the earliest known direct evidence of therapeutic-palliative dental filling.
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flor molina's curator insight, January 18, 2014 1:23 AM

Items from the prehistoric dentistry show that an old human mandible carried crowns that were filled in with beeswax material. The reason for the use of beeswax is because helped tooth sensitivity.

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Roman News and Archeology: Amphitheatres of Roman Britain: a study of their classes, architecture and uses

Roman News and Archeology: Amphitheatres of Roman Britain: a study of their classes, architecture and uses | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

bstract: This thesis is a study of the classes, architecture and uses of Romano-British amphitheatres. Such a study is useful in providing an understanding of the architectural characteristics of Romano-British amphitheatres, the manner in which they differed from and resembled those in other parts of the Empire and of the types of activities for which they were used.

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A Practical Course in Bayesian Graphical Modeling

For several years now, Michael Lee and I have been working on a course book about Bayesian graphical modeling. This book is used to teach graphical modeling courses at UCI and UvA.

 

After working through the examples provided in this book, you should be able to use the WinBUGS program to build your own Bayesian models, apply them to your own data, and draw your own conclusions.

The book is based on three principles.

 

The first is that of accessability: the book's only prerequisite is that you know how to operate a computer; you do not need any advanced knowledge of statistics or mathematics. The second principle is that of applicability: the examples in this book are meant to illustrate how Bayesian modeling can be useful for problems that people in cognitive science care about. The third principle is that of practicality: this book offers a hands-on, "just do it" approach, one that we feel keeps students interested and motivated to learn more.

Note: the book is still undergoing development, so any feedback you have is greatly appreciated. The latest version of the book is available for download HERE. Almost all of the examples come with Matlab and R code, available for download here.

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DNA of Hungarian mummies may help combat tuberculosis : Past Horizons Archaeology

DNA of Hungarian mummies may help combat tuberculosis : Past Horizons Archaeology | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

One wears a prim white bonnet. Another sticks out its tongue, hands resting over abdomen. A third clutches at its chest, mouth seemingly frozen in a scream. They are faces from the past, just as they were when laid to rest nearly 300 years ago.

 

In 1994 workers discovered a secret crypt that had been bricked up for 200 years in the northern Hungarian town of Vac, inside were 265 hand painted coffins stacked, one on top of the other, in order of size. The occupants were buried between 1731 and 1838 in the crypt of a Dominican church and had naturally mummified, due to environmental conditions within the sealed room.

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