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Thursday, December 18, 2008

In Archaonews

You may already know of
Archaeonews, the archaeological news section of Stone Pages (one of my favorite sites around the net that deals primarily with Megalithism), section that is mirrored at Archaeoforums. Usually I pick up one or two news as they arrive but, as I have been rather inactive and uninterested in everything intellectual for the last months, many have piled up - and many are very interesting actually. In this post I will try to ammend my laziness of late times, listing all those I would have surely mentioned anyway:

Huge fortress revealed in Wales. The Gaer Fawr fortress has been described as "the Milennium Stadium of the Iron Age" because of its unsual dimensions. A masive piece of egineering, with five terraces cut in the hillside. Being the area a dense forest its dimensions were not really understood until now. The apogee of the site is from 900-800 BCE (Late Bronze Age) but it was in use until Roman times. (forum links 1, 2)

Oldest European cremation burials found in Neolithic Istanbul. They are also the oldest of that kind in Anatolia. The urn necropolis has been found as the subway is being laid in the Turkish city, in the district of Marmaray and date to some 8000 years ago, long before other peoples ever adopted cermation anywhere in Europe. (forum link)

Neanderthals did not hurl weapons, Sapiens did. H. sapiens right humerus from c. 28,000 BP (Gravettian culture) are clearly rotated in a way that can only derive from frequent missile throwing since childhood. No Neanderthal remains show this feature, what means that they probably fought in close combat most of the time, be it against hunting prey or other peoples. While the authors suggest that projectile weapons may have dated from 100,000 BP in Africa, the evidence gathered in their study appears inconclusive for the supposed Sapiens military/hunting advantage over Neanderthals they claim, because Neanderthals had already lost most of their territory by that time. Now, I imagine that they could not study earlier remains because of the scarcity of them (Gravettian Cromagnons left many human remains in comparison with other older or more recent cultures), so maybe the hypothesis stands after all. (forum link)

Oldest marihuana stash found in Uyghuristan. The finding of 780 grams, still keeping their green color and psychoactive properties (but not the characteristic smell), belongs to the Gushi culture (Tocharians) and is dated to c. 700 BCE. It was found alongside a mummy of what is believed to be a Tocharian shaman. The article describes him as "fair-haired and blue-eyed" but while I can accept that hair preserves well in such exceptional conditions, I really suspect that the journalist was letting his/her imagination fly when describing the eyes, a most perishable part of the body. Otherwise the eyes would be the news, not the cannabis. (forum link)

Dugout oak canoe found in Black Sea. It is not dated but must be from long ago. The unusual lack of oxygen and aboundance of hydrogen disulfide at the deep layers of the Black Sea have allowed it to arrive to us in excellent condition. It was found by local fishermen off the Bulgarian coast. (forum link)

New Gravettian art set found in Russia. The portable artwork found at Zaryak (some 160 km SE of Moscow), carved on mammoth bone, is being compared to that of Kostienki and Avdeevo, and is dated to c. 22-21,000 years ago. It includes engravings of mammoths and diagonal cross patterns, as well as two "venus" statuettes (ritually placed in pits surrounded by colored sand), the style resembles very much that of Avdeevo, further south. (forum link)

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