• Novel Bacterial DNA Detected in Ancient Coprolites

    CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS—According to a Science Magazine report, a team of researchers led by microbiologist Aleksandar Kostic of Harvard University analyzed eight coprolites recovered from three rock shelters in Mexico and the southwestern United States to look for traces of the ancient human microbiome. The feces ranged in age from 2,000 to 1,000 years old. First, tiny samples were rehydrated and strands of DNA were recovered by archaeologist Meradeth Snow of the University of Montana, M
  • How Did Paleolithic People Light Up Their Caves?

    SANTANDER, SPAIN—According to a statement released by the Public Library of Science, a team of researchers led by Mª Ángeles Medina-Alcaide of the University of Cantabria tested possible sources of light employed by Paleolithic peoples to reach the deepest, darkest areas of caves. The lights, including torches made of sticks from five different trees, two stone lamps fueled with animal fat, and oak and juniper burned in a small fireplace, were based upon archaeological evidence
  • Plague Victims Identified in Individual Graves in England

    CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—According to a statement released by the University of Cambridge, researchers have detected DNA from Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes Black Death, in the teeth of people buried in a parish cemetery and friary in Cambridge and in the nearby village of Clopton. Plague victims can die quickly, leaving no visible trace on their skeletal remains, and scientists had previously only been able to identify individuals killed by the Black Death when they were buried in m
  • Two Historic Shipwrecks Discovered Off Coast of Singapore

    SINGAPORE—The AFP reports that the site of two shipwrecks has been investigated off Singapore’s easternmost point by researchers from Singapore’s National Heritage Board and the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. The first ship, which had been loaded with Chinese ceramics, was found in 2015 and has been dated to the fourteenth century. “Many of the pieces [of Yuan dynasty blue-and-white porcelain] are rare, and one is believed to be unique,” said Michael Flecker of the IS
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  • Study Suggests Neanderthals and Modern Humans Met in Israel

    REHOVOT, ISRAEL—According to a statement released by The Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Elisabetta Boaretto of the Weizmann Institute of Science and Omry Barzilai of the Israel Antiquities Authority have developed a new chronology for the occupation of the Boker Tachtit site, which is located in southern Israel’s Negev Desert. The study suggests that modern humans, as represented by the Emiran culture, and Neanderthals, as represented by the late Mousterian culture, cro
  • Genetic Study Suggests Neanderthal Society Was Patrilocal

    LEIPZIG, GERMANY—Science Magazine reports that 14 Neanderthal genomes have been sequenced from remains recovered from two caves in Siberia’s Altai Mountains. The remains of seven males and five females came from Chagyrskaya Cave, and the remains of one male and one female came from Okladnikov Cave. All of the individuals are thought to have lived within 100 years of each other, based upon an analysis of shared mitochondrial DNA, between 49,000 and 59,000 years ago. Two of the individ
  • 1,000-Year-Old Chicken Egg Found in Israel

    YAVNE, ISRAEL—According to a statement released by The Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority, a chicken egg was recovered from a cesspit in central Israel by a team of researchers led by Elie Haddad, Liat Nadav-Ziv, and Jon Seligman. The human waste in the cesspit, which has been dated to the Islamic period, some 1,000 years ago, is thought to have cushioned and preserved the egg. Poultry expert Lee Perry Gal said much of the contents of the egg had leaked out of a crack in its botto
  • 9,000-Year-Old Obsidian Tools Recovered from Great Lake

    ARLINGTON, TEXAS—According to a statement released by the University of Texas at Arlington, 9,000-year-old tools made from obsidian quarried in central Oregon have been found some 2,000 miles away at an undisturbed archaeological site now submerged in Lake Huron. Researcher Ashley Lemke said the sharp edges on the small pieces of volcanic glass may have been used by caribou hunters at the end of the last Ice Age, when water levels were much lower. These flakes are the farthest east that we
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  • Beaver Castoreum Detected on 6,000-Year-Old Dart in Canada

    YUKON, CANADA—Yukon News reports that beaver castoreum has been detected on a 6,000-year-old atlatl throwing dart recovered in 2018 from melting alpine ice in the traditional territories of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and the Kwalin Dün First Nation in northwestern Canada. The yellowish-brown fluid is produced in the castor sacs of mature beavers. Valery Monahan of Yukon Museums said the substance looks like orange residue coating the binding sinews on the wood artifact. It is no
  • 1,800-Year-Old Statue Discovered in Turkey

    İZMİR, TURKEY—Hurriyet Daily News reports that an 1,800-year-old statue of a woman has been unearthed in western Turkey, at the site of the ancient city of Metropolis. The city, which is near ancient Ephesus, was occupied during the Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods. Ongoing excavations are being conducted by archaeologists from the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry and Celal Bayar University. To read about a Roman amphitheater unearthed at the anci
  • Seals Used by Prehistoric Traders Unearthed in Israel

    JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—According to a statement released by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a 7,000-year-old piece of clay bearing impressions made by two different geometric stamps has been identified among the more than 150 bullae unearthed at Tel Tsaf, a prehistoric village site in northern Israel’s Beit She’an Valley. Archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel said the use of two different stamps on the same seal suggests that two individuals may have placed their mark on a shipment of g
  • 5,000-Year-Old Fingerprints Analyzed

    ORKNEY, SCOTLAND—BBC News reports that archaeologists have analyzed fingerprints found on a piece of pottery uncovered at the Ness of Brodgar, a Neolithic ceremonial site on the island of Orkney. Kent Fowler of the University of Manitoba said that the researchers measured the density and breadth of the fingerprint ridges, accounting for the shrinkage produced when clay is dried and fired. They then determined that the prints were left behind by two young men, who tend to have broader ridge
  • Audio News for June 6th through the 12th, 2021


    News items read by Laura Pettigrew include:Rare early coins found in Polish field(details)New evidence shows prehistoric Amazonians protected the rainforest(details)Native American tribe buys back ancestral home in Maine(details)COVID-19 gives cover to increased looting of Italy’s antiquities(details)
  • Rare Viking Textiles Recovered in Norway

    TRONDHEIM, NORWAY—According to a statement released by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, six pieces of wool and two pieces of linen have been recovered from a Viking woman’s grave in central Norway dated to between A.D. 850 and 950. Some of the textiles were found in layers in the pins of the woman’s brooches, and may represent inner and outer garments. One of the pieces of fabric, found with an oval brooch, measures about four inches long. Archaeologist Raymo
  • 18th-Century Wooden Road Unearthed in Poland

    JAROSŁAW, POLAND—Science in Poland reports that a 100-foot-long segment of a three-foot-wide wooden road dated to the eighteenth century has been discovered in southeastern Poland, in the center of the town of Jarosław, where fabric, leather, and wine merchants gathered for fairs that may have attracted as many as 30,000 people. Archaeologist Katarzyna Oleszek said she has found additional, shorter sections of the road while excavating other areas of the town. The wood, thought t
  • Medieval Shoe Fashion May Have Left Marks on Wearers’ Feet

    CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—According to a Gizmodo report, a team of archaeologists led by Piers Mitchell of the University of Cambridge suggests that a rise in the occurrence of hallux valgus, or bunions, could be attributed to the late-fifteenth century fashion for wearing poulaines, a type of shoe with a long pointy toe. An examination of skeletons from a charity hospital cemetery, a friary, a parish graveyard, and a rural burial ground all located near Cambridge, England, revealed that overall,
  • Study Reviews Evidence of Māori Voyages to the Antarctic

    SOUTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND—A review of literary accounts, oral history, and carvings and weavings conducted by Priscilla Wehi of Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research and her colleagues suggests that Māori explorers sailed from New Zealand into Antarctic waters as early as the seventh century A.D., according to a Gizmodo report. One Māori narrative records a southward journey taken by Polynesian chief Hui Te Rangiora and his crew aboard the TeI vi o Atea some 1,320 years ago. Hui
  • Diet of Siberia’s Neanderthals Studied

    VALENCIA, SPAIN—Neanderthals whose remains were recovered in Siberia’s Altai Mountains consumed large and medium-sized game and a wide range of plants, according to a statement released by Asociacion RUVID, the Network of Valencian Universities for the Promotion of Research, Development, and Innovation. An international team of scientists, including Robert Power of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Domingo Carlos Salazar García of the University of Valenc
  • DNA Analysis Reunites Viking Relatives 1,000 Years Later

    COPENHAGEN, DENMARK—The AFP reports that DNA analysis has linked the remains of two men who died some 1,000 years ago. The remains of one man, who was in his early 20s when he died from head wounds, were found in a mass grave in Oxford, England. His relative, whose remains were unearthed in Denmark, died in his 50s. These bones bear the marks of healed wounds. “This is a big discovery because now you can trace movements across space and time through a family,” said Jeanette Var
  • Hoard of Medieval Silver Coins Unearthed in Poland

    WARSAW, POLAND—Live Science reports that a hoard of more than 100 silver coins has been discovered in a farmer’s field in northeastern Poland. Mateusz Bogucki of the University of Warsaw said the 1,200-year-old coins, which bear Latin inscriptions and a central cross, were minted in the Carolingian Empire—an area that covered much of what are now France, Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy. Only three such coins had previously been found in Poland, at the Norse trading cen
  • Ancient Necropolis Found on Croatian Island

    HVAR, CROATIA—Croatia Week reports that a section of stone wall dated to the second century A.D., ramparts and a fifth-century city gate, and a well-preserved necropolis dated to the late fourth century were uncovered by Eduard Viskovic, Joško Barbarić, Marko Bibić, Jure Tudor, Marina Ugarković, and Josip Baraka Perica of Kantharos d.o.o. during excavations ahead of a construction project on the island of Hvar, which is located in the Adriatic Sea. The remains of 12 p
  • Search for Lost Settlement of Sarabay Yields Site in Florida

    JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA—According to a statement released by the University of North Florida, a team of researchers has uncovered the remains of a possible settlement in northeastern Florida that could be the Mocama-speaking Timucua community of Sarabay. French and Spanish chroniclers described Timucuan communities as having wooden palisade walls, houses, public buildings, and granaries. The researchers have uncovered Spanish pottery, locally produced pottery, and items made from bone, stone
  • Shackled Roman-Era Skeleton Unearthed in England

    LONDON, ENGLAND—According to a CNN report, construction workers in central England discovered the skeletal remains of a man with iron fetters around his ankles. The bones have been radiocarbon dated to between A.D. 226 and 427. “We do know that the Roman Empire relied quite heavily on slave labor,” said osteologist Chris Chinnock of the Museum of London Archaeology. Chinnock and his colleagues suspect that this man, who was found on his right side with his left side and arm on
  • DNA Study Investigates Early Goat Herd in Iran

    DUBLIN, IRELAND—Courthouse News Service reports that an international team of scientists led by Kevin G. Daly of Trinity College Dublin examined the remains and DNA samples of goats that lived at Ganj Dareh, an archaeological site in western Iran’s Zagros Mountains, at least 10,000 years ago. Several bricks bearing the imprint of goat hooves have been found at the settlement, Daly added. The animals resembled the wild bezoar ibex, with robust bodies, large cloven hooves, and scimitar
  • Possible Traces of 4,500-Year-Old Cabin Found in China

    CHENGDU, CHINA—Xinhua reports that possible traces of a cabin made of bamboo and mud some 4,500 years ago have been uncovered at the Baodun Ancient Town site in southwest China. Tang Miao of the Chengdu Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute said that the six pieces of carbonized bamboo show that bamboo and mud structures were built on the Chengdu Plain earlier than had been previously thought. Pottery, stoneware, and possible traces of rice paddies were also unearthed, he adde
  • The Special Status of Britain’s Ancient Chickens

    EXETER, ENGLAND—According to a statement released by the University of Exeter, researchers led by Sean Doherty have developed a method to determine the age of domesticated chickens at the time of death. Scientists rely upon tooth wear and bone fusion to determine the age at death of mammals, but these methods do not apply to birds. Instead, the team members measured the size of modern chickens’ tarsometatarsal spur, which begins to grow on the legs of adult cockerels and continues to
  • Audio News for May 30th through June 5th, 2021


    News items read by Laura Pettigrew include:Scotland’s Galloway Hoard unveils new mysteries of the Viking Age(details)National Guard mobilized to protect Teotihuacan from illegal building(details)Piecing together countless fragments of the past, then and now(details)Roman graves in England held decapitated victims of harsh legal code(details)
  • Beeswax Discovered in 400-Year-Old Wooden Box in Norway

    OSLO, NORWAY—Gizmodo reports that researchers from the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo identified the remnants of beeswax candles inside a well-preserved wooden box that was discovered in 2019 in melting glacial ice along the Lendbreen mountain pass in Norway’s Breheimen National Park. The lid of the box was held shut with leather straps. The pine used to make the box has been radiocarbon dated to between A.D. 1475 and 1635. Farmers used such boxes to transport candles, which were
  • Additional Burials Found at Mass Grave Site in Tulsa

    TULSA, OKLAHOMA—State Archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck announced that three additional burials were found at the site of a mass grave at Oklahoma’s Oaklawn Cemetery, according to a KJRH News report. The mass grave is thought to hold the remains of victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, according to old funeral home records. An estimated 300 people were killed and 800 wounded on May 31 and June 1 when a white mob attacked businesses, homes, and churches in the area of Tulsa’s pr
  • Rattling Noise Made by Prehistoric Ornaments Investigated

    HELSINKI, FINLAND—According to a statement released by the University of Helsinki, auditory archaeologist Riitta Rainio and artist Juha Valkeapää danced for six consecutive hours while wearing elk tooth ornaments sewn in rows on an apron, and then examined the microscopic wear marks left behind on the teeth as they clattered against each other. The researchers then compared these wear marks to elk teeth recovered from four graves at Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov, a Late Mesolithic cemete

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