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QuoteA Greek archaeologist announced Thursday he has located the tomb of Aristotle, the classical philosopher whose voluminous writings shaped the intellectual trajectory of Western civilization.Konstantinos Sismanidis, the archaeologist who excavated the find, announced the discovery at a conference in Thessalonica. The site is located in Stagira, a village in Greek Macedonia where Aristotle was born. "We had found the tomb," he said. "We've now also found the altar referred to in ancient texts, as well as the road leading to the tomb, which was very close to the city's ancient marketplace within the city settlement." Although the evidence of whose tomb it was is circumstantial, several characteristics — its location and panoramic view; its positioning at the center of a square marble floor; and the time of its construction, estimated to be at the very beginning of the Hellenistic period, which started after the death of Aristotle's most famous student, Alexander the Great, in 323 B.C. — "all lead to the conclusion that the remains of the arched structure are part of what was once the tomb-shrine of Aristotle," Mr. Sismanidis said.During his life, Aristotle wrote on subjects ranging from aesthetics to zoology, taught at Plato's Academy, and tutored Alexander the Great, whose conquest of the Persian Empire in the fourth century B.C. led to the spread of Hellenistic culture—and Aristotelian thought—from the Nile to the Ganges.
QuoteSpanish archaeologists say they have discovered an exceptional set of Paleolithic-era cave drawings that could rank among the best in a country that already boasts some of the world's most important cave art.Chief site archaeologist Diego Garate said that an estimated 70 drawings were found on ledges 300m (1,000 ft) underground in the Atxurra cave in the northern Basque region. He described the site as being in "the Champions League" of cave art and among the top 10 sites in Europe. The engravings and paintings feature horses, buffalo, goats and deer, dating back 12,500-14,500 years.But Garate said access to the area was so difficult and dangerous that it was unlikely to be open to the public.The cave was discovered in 1929 and first explored in 1934-35, but it was not until 2014, when Garate and his team resumed their investigations, that the drawings were discovered. Experts say it is too early to judge whether the discovery ranks alongside Spain's most prized prehistoric cave art site, but the Altamira caves – known as the Sistine chapel of Paleolithic art – Atxurra looks promising."No one expected a discovery of this magnitude," said Jose Yravedra, a prehistory professor at Madrid's Complutense University. "There a lot of caves with drawings but very few have this much art and this much variety and quality."Altamira and other major sites in Spain and France have several hundred cave art images.Garate highlighted one buffalo drawing, which he said must have the most hunting lances stuck in it of any such drawing in Europe. He said most hunting drawings have four or five lances but this had almost 20 and it was not clear why.Yravedra said the cave's hidden location and the number, variety and quality of its drawings meant the site was being classified as a "sanctuary," or special Paleolithic meeting ritual place, like those at Altamira and Lascaux in France.Regional officials hope to set up a 3D public display of the art.
QuoteFlores fossil discovery provides clues to 'hobbit' ancestors Researchers find what appear to be predecessors of tiny humans whose bones were first unearthed on Indonesian island in 2004More than a decade ago, researchers in a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Flores unearthed the bones of an ancient race of tiny humans. Now, in sandstone laid down by a stream 700,000 years ago, they have found what appear to be the creatures' ancestors.The new fossils are not extensive. A partial lower jaw and six teeth, belonging to at least one adult and two children, are all researchers have. But the importance of the remains outweighs their number. They suggest that dwarf humans roamed the island - hunting pygmy elephants and fending off komodo dragons - for more than half a million years.The first bones belonging to the miniature humans were dug from the floor of the Liang Bua cave on Flores in 2004. The 50,000-year-old fossils pointed to a now-extinct group of humans that stood only a metre tall. Named Homo floresiensis, but swiftly nicknamed the "hobbits", they made simple stone tools and had desperately small brains, one third the size of ours.For all that was known about the diminutive humans, countless questions remained. How the species arose was anyone's guess. Meanwhile, some experts argued they were not a new species at all, simply modern humans whose growth had been stunted by disease.The newly discovered fossils from Mata Menge, a large basin overshadowed by volcanoes in central Flores about 50km east of Liang Bua, effectively rule out the modern human theory. The tiny individuals were alive and making stone tools on Flores half a million years before modern humans existed. "This is the final nail in the coffin for that hypothesis," said team leader Gert van den Bergh at the University of Wollongong in Australia. "700,000 years ago, there were no Homo sapiens."But the fossils, described in two papers in Nature, lend weight to another explanation already favoured by some paleontologists. In this scenario, a founder population of Homo erectus, a forerunner of modern humans, washed up on Flores from a neighbouring island, perhaps clinging to plant debris uprooted by powerful tsunamis that crash through the region. Marooned on Flores with limited food at hand, evolution favoured the small. Over 300,000 years, the new arrivals rapidly lost stature.Adam Brumm at Griffith University in Queensland, who co-led the excavations, said: "The island is small and it has limited food resources and few predators, other than komodo dragons, so large-bodied mammals that wound up on this rock would have been under immediate selective pressure to reduce their body mass. Being big is no longer an advantage when you're trying to survive in such an isolated and challenging environment."The team from Australia, Indonesia and Japan worked with 140 locals on Flores to excavate the fossils. The jawbone is tiny, at least 20% smaller than that of the Liang Bua "hobbits", but CT scans showed the wisdom tooth had erupted, a sign that it came from an adult. The shape of the jawbone resembles a smaller version of that found in Homo erectus, as does a molar tooth.Among the ancient remains were the bones of beasts. Pygmy elephants and komodo dragons were commonplace, but crocodiles, giant rats, frogs and birds shared the island with the "hobbits". Giant rats persist on the island today. The researchers have one, the size of a cat, at the house they rent in the nearby town of Mengeruda. "It's a really cute animal. If we can domesticate them, they can be kept as pets," said van den Bergh. "They would be a cheap source of meat for the people."Simple stone tools, mostly sharp-edged flakes, were also found at the site, though no signs of butchery have been spotted on the animal bones. Curiously, the tools at Mata Menge are similar to those found at the Liang Bua cave, but simpler and smaller than others found at an older site on the island called Wolo Sege. These heftier, more advanced implements, including carefully shaped core tools known as picks, may be the million-year-old work of the island's large-bodied founding population, said Brumm, a technology later lost as the dwarfing process took its toll in the islanders' brains.Still more fossils are needed to complete the picture. The researchers are eager to find long bones at Mata Menge that prove beyond doubt the site holds the remains of archaic dwarf humans. Elsewhere on the island, the search is on for the elusive first arrivals, perhaps full-sized Homo erectus, or maybe a smaller ancestor. Where they came from remains another open question. The trip from Java is 300 miles, a long way to cling to a bobbing mat of vegetation. Sulawesi to the north is more distant still, but strong currents could have done the job. "That's a reasonable chance," said Van den Bergh. "But we'll probably never know."Dean Falk, an evolutionary anthropologist at Florida State University, said the new fossils will help to convince all but the most diehard sceptics that Homo floresiensis is a legitimate species. She said the 700,000 year-old date for the new finds, and the fact that they are at least as small as the Liang Bua individuals, is exciting. She added: "Although in my opinion one still cannot rule out the possibility that Homo erectus and Homo floresiensis may have shared a common ancestor that was an unknown small-bodied and small-brained hominin."
QuoteA huge monument has been discovered buried under the sands at the Petra World Heritage site in southern Jordan.Archaeologists used satellite images, drone photography and ground surveys to locate the find, according to the study published in the American Schools of Oriental Research.The large platform is about as long as an Olympic swimming pool and twice as wide.Researchers say it is unlike any other structure at the ancient site.The study, by Sarah Parcak of the University of Birmingham, and Christopher Tuttle, executive director of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, describes the find as "hiding in plain sight".Petra dates back to the fourth century BC, when it was founded by the Nabataean civilization, who inhibited parts of what is now Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.Surface pottery suggests the platform was built in the mid-second century BC, when Petra was at its peak.It is thought the structure may have had a ceremonial purpose.The survey also revealed a smaller platform was contained inside the larger one, which was once lined with columns on one side with a vast staircase on the other.Ms Tuttle told National Geographic that someone in decades of excavation "had to know" the structure was there yet it had not been written up."I've worked in Petra for 20 years, and I knew that something was there, but it's certainly legitimate to call this a discovery."Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Petra each year, although numbers have been hit by the conflict against so-called Islamic State.The site is best-known for the Treasury Building, which is carved from sandstone and featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
QuotePublished: 16 Jun 2016 10:34 GMT+02:00 Three amateur archaeologists have uncovered the largest ever trove of Viking gold in Denmark. The three archaeologists, who call themselves Team Rainbow Power, found seven bracelets from the Viking Age in a field in Vejen Municipality in Jutland. The bracelets, six gold and one silver, date to around the year 900. With a combined weight of around 900 grammes, the find is the largest ever discovery of Viking gold in Denmark. Team Rainbow Power member Marie Aagaard Larsen said that she had only been on the field for around ten minutes before striking gold – literally. "We really felt like we had found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when we found the first bracelet, but when others then appeared it was almost unreal," she said in a National Museum of Denmark press release. After finding the first three rings, the amateur archaeologists called in professional back-up in the form of Lars Grundvad from Sønderskov Museum, who said he was blown away by the discovery. "At the museum, we had talked about how interesting it could be to check out the area with metal detectors because there was a 67-gramme gold chain found there back in 1911. But I would have never in my wildest fantasies believed that amateur archaeologists could uncover seven bracelets from the Viking Age," Grundvad said, adding that the chain found over a century ago was likely part of the same treasure trove. Two of the newly-founded bracelets were made in the so-called Jelling style that is associated with the elite members of society during the Viking Age. Peter Pentz, a Viking expert at the National Museum, said the bracelets could have been used by a Viking leader to form alliances or to reward his faithful followers."Just finding one of these bracelets would have been major so it is very special to find seven," Pentz said. He said archaeologists may explore the site further to try to discover why the valuables ended up where they did. "The treasure could have been buried in some sort of ritual at some point in the 900s. But it could have also been that the treasure was buried because someone wanted to take care of it but then was never able to retrieve it again for whatever reason," he said. Sønderskov Museum plans to display the find before it is sent to the National Museum in Copenhagen for further study.
Quote'Britain's Pompeii' was 'Bronze Age new build' siteThe beads found at Whittlesey show this Bronze Age village of the ancient Fens was nevertheless tied into a trade network that may have stretched to the Middle East.An ancient village dubbed "Britain's Pompeii" was just a few months old when it burnt down, it has emerged.Analysis of wood used to build the settlement suggests it was only lived in for a short time before it was destroyed.Despite this, archaeologists said the site gives an "exquisitely detailed" insight into everyday Bronze Age life.Evidence of fine fabric-making, varied diets and vast trading networks has been found during the 10-month dig.The level of preservation at the site, in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, has been compared to that seen at Pompeii, a Roman city buried by ash when Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. The stilts that held the houses can be seen, together with collapsed roof timbers At least five circular houses raised on stilts above the East Anglian fens have been found. David Gibson, of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, University of Cambridge, said the site allowed researchers to "visit in exquisite detail everyday life in the Bronze Age"."Domestic activity within structures is demonstrated from clothing to household objects, to furniture and diet," he said. "These dwellings have it all, the complete set, it's a 'full house'.'Pompeii of the Fens'What the excavation reveals:◾The people living here made their own high quality textiles, like linen. Some of the woven linen fabrics are made with threads as thin as the diameter of a coarse human hair and are among the finest Bronze Age examples found in Europe ◾Other fabrics and fibres found include balls of thread, twining, bundles of plant fibres and loom weights which were used to weave threads together. Textiles were common in the Bronze Age but it is very rare for them to survive today◾Animal remains suggest they ate a diet of wild boar, red deer, calves, lambs and freshwater fish such as pike. The charred remains of porridge type foods, emmer wheat and barley grains have been found preserved in amazing detail, sometimes still inside the bowls they were served in◾There were areas in each home for storing meat and a separate area for cooking◾Even 3,000 years ago people seemed to have a lot of stuff. Each of the houses was fully equipped with pots of different sizes, wooden buckets and platters, metal tools, saddle querns (stone tools for grinding grains), weapons, textiles, loom weights and glass beadsAfter the fire, the buildings sank into a river which has helped preserve them. The charred remains of porridge type foods, emmer wheat and barley grains have been found preserved in amazing detail, sometimes still inside the bowls they were served in The tip of a spear Evidence, including tree-ring analysis of the oak structures, has suggested the circular houses were still new and had only been lived in for a few months.The homes were, however, well equipped with pots of different sizes, wooden buckets and platters, metal tools, saddle querns (stone tools for grinding grains), weapons, textiles, loom weights and glass beads.Archaeologists say beads found at the site originally came from the Mediterranean or Middle East. An example of the types of fabric found at Whittlesey Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: "This has transformed our knowledge of Bronze Age Britain."Over the past 10 months, Must Farm has given us an extraordinary window into how people lived 3,000 years ago. "Now we know what this small but wealthy Bronze Age community ate, how they made their homes and where they traded. "Archaeologists and scientists around the world are learning from Must Farm and it's already challenged a number of longstanding perceptions."Must Farm was named best discovery at the 2016 British Archaeological Awards.
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