The Prehistoric Archaeology Blog is concerned with news reports featuring Prehistoric period archaeology. If you wish to see news reports for general European archaeology, please go to The Archaeology of Europe Weblog.
New evidence including this ancient, charred vole mandible suggests that 5,000 years ago, rodents were on the menu in Europe. (Courtesy of Jeremy Herman)
The European palate may not always have been so sophisticated.
This week, researchers report the first evidence of ancient Europeans snacking on rodents at least 5,000 years ago.
The discovery suggests that rodents like mice and voles have not always been mere pests hellbent on annoying humanity throughout its history: They may have been a food source as well.
“Rodents are frequently excavated from older archaeological sites in Europe, but people haven’t examined why they are there,” said Jeremy Herman, a biologist at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh. “Maybe because they are not currently a food source in Europe, no one ever thought to ask if they had been in the past.”
More and more Stone Age maps are turning up on Bornholm (photo: National Museum)
A mysterious stone found in a ditch on Bornholm by archaeology students during the summer has proven to be a 5,000 years old map.
According to the magazine Skalk, the stone was discovered during archaeological excavation work at the Neolithic shrine Vasagård.
The stone has been studied by researchers at the National Museum of Denmark. Unlike previous and similar findings, archaeologist and senior researcher at the National Museum, Flemming Kaul, is reasonably certain that the stone does not show the sun and the sun’s rays, but displays the topographic details of a piece of nature on the island as it appeared between the years 2700 and 2900 BC.
A computer model simulated human density 80,000 years ago, showing the arrival of humans in eastern China and southern Europe as well as migrations out of Africa along vegetated paths in Sinai and the Arabian Peninsula.
Credit: Tobias Friedrich
Ancient human migrations out of Africa may have been driven by wobbles in Earth's orbit and tilt that led to dramatic swings in climate, a new study finds.
Modern humans first appeared in Africa about 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. It remains a mystery as to why it then took many millennia for people to disperse across the globe. Recent archaeological and genetic findingssuggest that migrations of modern humans out of Africa began at least 100,000 years ago, but most humans outside of Africa most likely descended from groups who left the continent more recently — between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago.
Previous research suggested that shifts in climate might help explain why modern human migrations out of Africa happened when they did. For instance, about every 21,000 years, Earth experiences slight changes to its orbit and tilt. These series of wobbles, known as Milankovitch cycles, alter how much sunlight hits different parts of the planet, which in turn influences rainfall levels and the number of people any given region can support. [See Photos of Our Closest Human Ancestor]
Das Kupfer von Ötzis Beilklinge stammt nicht – wie bisher angenommen ‐ aus dem Alpenraum, sondern wurde aus südtoskanischem Erz gewonnen. Ötzi war wahrscheinlich nicht in den Prozess der Metallverarbeitung eingebunden, wie es erhöhte Arsen‐ und Kupferwerte in seinen Haaren bislang vermuten ließen. Seine Ermordung vor über 5.000 Jahren scheint auf eine persönliche Konfliktsituation Tage vor seinem Tod zurückzugehen, und der Mann aus dem Eis litt trotz Normalgewichts und viel Bewegung unter etlichen Gefäßverkalkungen. Diese und andere neue Erkenntnisse präsentieren Wissenschaftler aus aller Welt in diesen Tagen auf dem internationalen Mumienkongresses in Bozen. Zum 25. Jubiläum von Ötzis Entdeckung waren alle drei Kongresstage, vom 19. ‐ 21.9.2016, dem Mann aus dem Eis gewidmet. Read the rest of this article...
The first extensive study of Indigenous Australians' DNA dates their origin to more than 50,000 years ago, backing the claim that they are the most ancient continuous civilisation on Earth. Scientists used the genetic traces of the mysterious early humans that are left in the DNA of modern populations in Papua New Guinea and Australia to recontruct their journey from Africa around 72,000 years ago. Experts disagree on whether present-day non-African people are descended from explorers who left Africa in a single exodus or a series of distinct waves of travelling migrants. The new study supports the single migration hypothesis. It indicates that Australian aboriginal and Papuan people both originated from the same out-of Africa migration event some 72,000 years ago, along with ancestors of all other non-African populations alive today.
Work resumed at the site of Smerquoy, on the Orkney Mainland, at the start of this month, involving a team of archaeologists from the UHI Orkney College, the University of Manchester and the University of Central Lancashire, as well as volunteers.
Excavations in previous years uncovered the remains of early Neolithic houses, alongside more ephemeral remains and structures.
In this final year we hope to understand the sequence of house construction across the site and definitively date the different phases of use.
Progress has been slowed by some mixed weather in the first week, including heavy rain, thick mist and strong gales. Nevertheless there have been some very exciting finds.
When someone in Bronze Age Denmark quickly disposed of a burnt pot, they unintentionally provided archaeologists with a unique find.
A moment of carelessness, 3,000 years ago has given Danish archaeologists an unexpected gift.
A clay pot unearthed during an archaeological excavation in central Jutland, Denmark, contains the possible remains of a failed attempt of cheese making.
Something went wrong during the process and the cheese maker most likely threw the pot away into the street, only to show up again thousands of years later.
“We found the clay pot in what was once a pit. Quite unusually, it was in near mint condition and this is itself is an exciting find,” says curator and archaeologist Kaj F. Rasmussen from Museum Silkeborg, Denmark.
Scientists in Italy’s Dolomite mountains have unveiled what they believe to be the world’s oldest snowshoe.
The snowshoe was discovered by chance on the Gurgler Eisjoch glacier, close to Italy’s border with Austria
Carbon-dating has shown that the rudimentary snow shoe, made of birch wood and twine, was made in the late Neolithic age, between 3,800 and 3,700 BC. “It is the oldest snowshoe in the world so far discovered, dating to around 5,800 years ago,” scientists said in a statement. It was discovered by chance at an altitude of 3,134 metres (10,280ft) on the Gurgler Eisjoch glacier, close to Italy’s border with Austria. The ice and freezing temperatures of the glacier had provided “ideal conditions for the preservation of organic material,” the researchers said. Read the rest of this article...
The mysterious site was found near Aars west of the Limfjord in northeastern Jutland (photo: Google Maps)
Danish archaeologists have discovered a mysterious New Stone Age construction near the town of Aars in northeastern Jutland.
“I never use the word sensation, but I must admit this is as close as it gets,” Bjarne Nielsen, the leader of the research team and curator at Vesthimmerlands Museum, told newspaper Nordjyske Stiftstidende.
The month of July 2016 saw the traditional archaeological season in Bulgaria in full swing, with finds at digs in various parts of the country – from an 8000-year-old settlement in Sofia to the rock tomb of a Thracian princess near Benkovski to the long-awaited unearthing of the eastern gate of Perperikon – producing headlines.
An aerial shot showing the excavated section of the prehistoric, ancient, and medieval rock city of Perperikon in Southern Bulgaria, i.e. almost fully excavated acropolis
[Credit: Nikolay Ovcharov]
At the beginning of July, it was announced that a team of Bulgarian archaeologists had uncovered the remains of an early Neolithic settlement, dating back 8000 years, in the Slatina neighbourhood of Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia.
It has long been known by archaeologists that the oldest human settlement in Sofia was in Slatina.
In recent days, archaeologists had come across the remains of two burnt houses, of an impressive size for the age. The head of research, Professor Vassil Nikolov, said that the structures were 150 square metres, with three rooms and two additional business premises.
ARCHAEOLOGISTS have found a human arm bone during an excavation of Neolithic buildings at Ness of Brodgar on Orkney.
The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, leading the dig, believe the bone was deliberately placed and could be the remains of a respected original founder of the large complex.
Ness of Brodgar site director Nick Card described it as an important and exciting find.
He said there were several theories as to who the arm belonged to which would be explored further.
The Ness of Brodgar is a new archaeological discovery in Orkney located between the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness.
When we talk of the history of computers, most of us will refer to the evolution of the modern digital desktop PC, charting the decades-long developments by the likes of Apple and Microsoft. What many don't consider, however, is that computers have been around much longer. In fact, they date back millennia, to a time when they were analogue creations.
The fragmented remains of the Antikythera mechanism
[Credit: Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis]
Today, the world's oldest known "computer" is the Antikythera mechanism, a severely corroded bronze artefact which was found at the beginning of the 20th Century, in the remains of a shipwreck near the Mediterranean island of Antikythera. It wasn't until the 1970s that the importance of the Antikythera mechanism was discovered, when radiography revealed that the device is in fact a complex mechanism of at least 30 gear wheels. The mechanism has since been established as the first known astronomical calendar, a complex system which can track and predict the cycles of the solar system. Technically, it is a sophisticated mechanical "calculator" rather than a true "computer", since it cannot be reprogrammed, but nonetheless an impressive artefact.
Archäologen der Universität Tübingen präsentieren gut erhaltenen Fund aus Mammutelfenbein – Test an der Universität Lüttich bestätigt Funktion Schon vor 40.000 Jahren haben Menschen ein spezielles Werkzeug zur Herstellung von Seilen genutzt. Wie Professor Nicholas Conard und seine Grabungsmannschaft von der Universität Tübingen am Freitag berichteten, wurde bei Ausgrabungen im »Hohe Fels« auf der Schwäbischen Alb ein gut erhaltenes Exemplar dieses Werkzeugs gefunden. Das sorgfältig geschnitzte Stück aus Mammutelfenbein ist 20«4 Zentimeter lang und diente dazu, Pflanzenfasern zu Seilen zu drehen, wie Tests an der Universität Lüttich in Belgien zeigten. Read the rest of this article...