martes, 2 de septiembre de 2014

Figurines provide clue to Olmec trading links in Mexico

Specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Mexico, have identified eight new sites where figurines, greenstone axes, jadeite, white ceramic bowls and gourds have been found. These sites are located in the Grande and Chica districts of the Guerrero coast (southwestern Mexico), and confirm an Olmec influence in that region.
There is ongoing debate as to whether the earliest peoples in this area were actual Olmec who had migrated, or an indigenous group who were heavily influenced by that culture, especially in the Mexcala River area. Olmec influence can certainly be seen in their cave paintings such as those found in Juxtlahuaca as well as stone tools and jade jewellery.
Eventually however, the peoples of the Mexcala River area developed their own distinctive culture, known as Mezcala or Mexcala, producing unique sculpture and ceramics, distinguished by its simplicity. Olmec influence did though remain in the villages by way of constructional techniques of the ceremonial centres and a government dominated by priests.

Olmec influence

Over the past decade over 50 distinctive Olmec artefacts have been recovered which seems to point towards the possible trade routes, connecting Central Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.
The investigator, leading the team of specialists who created the Archaeological Atlas of Guerrero reported that Olmec material culture has now been located within the communities of San Marcos, San Luis Acatlán, Acapulco, Atoyac, Ometepe and Petatlán.
“We know that there was a Pre-Olmeca (1300 BC-1100 BC) stage that developed toward the Gulf Coast; later in the period Apogee-Olmeca (1100 BC-900 BC) present in the Gulf Coast and in the Basin of Mexico, while in the Epi-Olmec (900 BC-600 BC) it radiated out to much of Mesoamerica. 

Linear trade route

It now seems more likely that the people from Guerrero were on the fringes of the main Olmec regions of La Venta and Tres Zapotes (Tabasco), and were integrated via trade routes. This speaks of a macro-regional interaction from the Gulf to the Pacific.
The archaeologist said that “Guerrero is like a time capsule in which the features of the Olmec religion are preserved in many of the rituals that are still practised in the state, such as the cult of water, the hill, the caves and the jaguar. “
A linear trade route was first proposed in the 20th century, but it was not until 2006 when archaeologists began to encounter the recognisable Olmec figurines in Costa Chica, indicating that all rivers, including the Nexpa and Santa Catarina, were being used as part of a redistribution centre of commerce and information. These small settlements were always situated near tributaries and low hills, so it is possible that there are many more Olmec sites in the region, suggested Pérez Negrete.
He added that the route went from the Highlands and Gulf Coast; linking Mexico with Central Oaxaca, Chiapas, Veracruz and Tabasco. The Olmecs appeared to be highly organised and controlled access to coastal resources. Later, the Aztecs followed the same routes as part of their trading network.

Source: Past Horizons:

El primer grabado rupestre atribuido a un neandertal (Gibraltar)


El estudio de un grabado identificado en la roca en la Cueva de Gorham en Gibraltar ha confirmado que la impresión de líneas artísticas que se observan fue con toda probabilidad elaborada intencionalmente por los neandertales, cosa que avala la capacidad de esta especie para la expresión abstracta. El hallazgo se da a conocer en un artículo desembargado el lunes 1 de septiembre por la revista PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). Entre los firmantes hay el arqueólogo Jordi Rosell, investigador del IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social) y profesor de la Universitat Rovira i Virgili de Tarragona.
Hasta el momento, los descubrimientos de arte rupestre se han atribuido exclusivamente a los seres humanos modernos, que llegaron a Europa occidental hace unos 40.000 años. En cambio, el equipo de Gibraltar, con el cual trabaja el IPHES, ha hallado un grabado cubierto por sedimento en el que previamente se habían descubierto artefactos (lascas y núcleos musterienses) confeccionados por neandertales de unos 39.000 años de antigüedad, lo que sugiere que es anterior a esta fecha.
El grabado está cubierto por una costra mineral, cuyos análisis químicos demuestran que se formó antes de ser enterrado. Los investigadores tomaron microfotografías de los surcos del grabado y después de compararlas con las obtenidas con grabados experimentales determinaron que fueron hechos con herramientas de piedra, demostrando la intencionalidad de dichas líneas artísticas.
Así, estos resultados sugieren que el modelo abstracto se suma a otras evidencias, tales como el uso de pigmentos y un entierro intencional, con lo cual quizás antes se subestimó la capacidad intelectual de los neandertales, según los autores.

Referencia bibliográfica

Article #14-11529: “A rock engraving made by Neanderthals in Gibraltar,” by Joaquín Rodríguez-Vidal et al.

Fuente: DiCYT:

Copper workers were not slaves says new study (Israel)

In 1934, the renowned American archaeologist Nelson Glueck named one of the largest known copper production sites of the Levant “Slaves’ Hill.” This hilltop site, located deep in Israel’s Arava Valley, seemed to bear all the marks of an Iron Age slave camp – burning hot furnaces, harsh desert conditions, and a massive barrier that would prevent escape. Evidence recently uncovered by Tel Aviv University archaeologists has now overturned this entire narrative.

A technological birthplace

Timna Valley is better known as one of the birthplaces of a technological revolution; when people started using metal in daily life. The Egyptians, or Edomites, a semi-nomadic tribe discovered copper ore as early as the 5th millennium BCE and began the world’s first copper production centre. The early miners were shown to have used metal chisels and hoes to mine and create tubular shafts with cut footholds in the walls to move down as far as 30 metres to reach the copper.
Archaeologists knew about the remains of copper production from surveys conducted at the end of the 19th century, but they were not given much attention. However archaeologist Nelson Glueck claimed that King Solomon, who reigned in the 10th century BCE, was responsible for the mines, and Timna Valley became a centre of scientific and religious inquiry, as well as public interest. Glueck named the site “King Solomons Mines,” but the subsequent excavations performed by Professor Beno Rothenberg placed serious doubt on the theory.
The Egyptian control of the mines declined in the 12th century BCE, but the Midianites stayed. The Midianite culture left thousands of ceremonial artefacts and the Temple of Hathor, a treasured relic. Mining then continued by the Israelites and Nabateans through into the Roman period and the first and second centuries CE. The Ummayads from the Arabian Peninsula continued the mining until the copper ore became scarce.

Examining ancient leftovers

During the course of ongoing excavations at Timna Valley, Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef and Dr. Lidar Sapir-Hen of TAU’s Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures analysed the remains of food eaten by copper smelters 3,000 years ago during the Iron Age exploitation.
The result of this analysis, published in the journal Antiquity, indicates that the labourers operating the furnaces were in fact craftsmen who enjoyed a higher social status than the previous suggestion of slavery had created for them.
“What we found represents a general trend or reality related to metal workers in antiquity,” said Dr. Ben-Yosef. “They had a very unique role in society, and we can demonstrate this by looking at Timna.”
The rare arid conditions of Timna have resulted in unparalleled preservation of organic materials usually destroyed by the march of time: bones, seeds, fruits, and even fabric dating back to the 10th century B.C.E. Using a technique called “wet sieving,” the archaeologists found miniscule animal and fish bones, evidence of a rich and diverse diet.
“The copper smelters were given the better cuts of meat – the meatiest parts of the animals,” said Dr. Sapir-Hen. “Someone took great care to give the people working in the furnaces the best of everything. They also enjoyed fish, which must have been brought from the Mediterranean hundreds of kilometres away. This was not the diet of slaves but of highly-regarded, maybe even worshipped, craftsmen.”
Copper, used at the time to produce tools and weapons was the most valuable resource in ancient societies. According to Dr. Ben-Yosef, the smelters needed to be well-versed in the sophisticated technology required to turn stone into usable copper. This knowledge was so advanced for the time it may have been considered magical or supernatural.
“Like oil today, copper was a source of great power,” said Dr. Ben-Yosef. “If a person had the exceptional knowledge to ‘create copper,’ it is not surprising he would have been treated well. In comparing our findings to current ethnographic accounts from Africa, we see smelters worshipped and even honoured with animal sacrifices.”
Copper production is a complex operation requiring several levels of expertise and perhaps the mine workers at Timna may have indeed been slaves or prisoners, because theirs was a simple task performed under severe conditions. However, the act of smelting, turning stone into metal, required an enormous amount of skill and control. The smelter had to build a furnace from clay to a precise design, then provide the right mix of oxygen and charcoal, maintain a 1,200 degree (Celsius) heat, connect bellows pipes, blow a fixed amount of air, and add an exact mixture of minerals. All told, the smelter had to manage some 30-40 variables in order to produce the coveted copper ingots.

Reconstructing social diversity

According to Dr. Sapir-Hen, an expert on early complex societies, the food remains reflect the social stratification of different labourers at the site. “By studying the remains of domesticated food animals, we reveal differential access to meat that may indicate different levels of specialization among workers at the same site. This allowed us to reconstruct social diversity at the site,” said Dr. Sapir-Hen.
The remains of the wall found at the Timna site, once considered a barrier used to contain slave labourers, apparently played a different role as well. “We now know it was a wall used to defend the sophisticated technology and its most precious product – the ingot, the result of the complex copper smelting process,” said Dr. Ben-Yosef.
The research on the ancient societies of Timna continues as part of the Central Timna Valley Project of Tel Aviv University.

Source: Past Horizons:

lunes, 1 de septiembre de 2014

Burgos, capital mundial de las Ciencias Prehistóricas y Protohistóricas (Burgos)


Burgos acoge desde hoy y hasta el próximo 7 de septiembre uno de los congresos científicos más importantes del panorama internacional. Se trata del XVII Congreso Mundial de la Unión Internacional de Ciencias Prehistóricas y Protohistóricas (UISPP), que reúne en la ciudad a más de 1.600 expertos de todo el mundo. El presidente de la Junta de Castilla y León, Juan Vicente Herrera, ha participado en la inauguración del evento donde ha destacado que es “un hito más del gran proyecto científico y cultural que es Atapuerca”, que se confirma así “como un referente mundial en investigación paleontológica y de la evolución humana”.
Herrera ha reconocido el compromiso del equipo investigador que lleva más de 30 años de trabajo riguroso, así como “el apoyo prestado por la sociedad civil, instituciones académicas, organismos científicos, particulares y entes públicos que han contribuido a asentar este proyecto científico y social de excelencia”. Esta apuesta por la excelencia, como ha expresado el presidente, se está convirtiendo “en motor real de progreso y dinamización económica para la comunidad, especialmente a través de la gestión y difusión del patrimonio cultural que permite poner en marcha nuevas actividades generadoras de empleo de calidad no deslocalizable, vinculadas a la gestión museística, la investigación científica, la restauración y el turismo de calidad”.
El jefe del Ejecutivo autonómico ha apuntado algunos datos en este sentido, como los 1’6 millones de visitantes del Sistema Atapuerca desde su puesta en marcha en 2010. En los seis primeros meses de este año las visitas se han visto incrementadas en un 36 por ciento respecto al mismo periodo del año anterior, lo que supone los mejores resultados hasta la fecha, según la información de la Junta de Castilla y León recogida por DiCYT.

119 sesiones científicas

El XVII Congreso Mundial de la UISPP contará con 119 sesiones científicas y más de 1.650 comunicaciones científicas presentadas por 3.032 diferentes autores de 55 países de los cinco continentes. Estas sesiones se celebrarán simultáneamente en 23 aulas de la Facultad de Derecho y de la Facultad de Económicas de la Universidad de Burgos. El Congreso contará con seis conferencias magistrales: una a cargo de un científico de primera fila de cada uno de los cinco continentes, y la sexta a cargo de un genetista de prestigio internacional.
Una de estas conferencias será en español, estará abierta al público y se pronunciará en el Auditorio Fórum Evolución el 3 de septiembre a las 20 horas, bajo el título‘La evolución humana en las Américas. Paralelismos globales y particularidades desde el último continente colonizado, y será impartida por José Luis Lanata, director del Instituto de Investigaciones en Diversidad Cultural y Procesos de Cambio. Universidad Nacional Río Negro, Argentina.
En el marco del Congreso, la Universidad de Burgos y la Fundación Atapuerca coeditarán una publicación que permitirá a los congresistas conocer el estado actual de la investigación científica en los principales yacimientos españoles de Prehistoria y Protohistoria. Se presentará mañana martes en dos ediciones distintas, en inglés y en español, divida en dos volúmenes por cronología: el primero sobre Los cazadores recolectores del Pleistoceno y del Holoceno en Iberia y el estrecho de Gibraltar: estado actual del conocimiento del registro arqueológico y el segundo Protohistoria de la Península Ibérica: del neolítico a la Romanización.
Como explica la Fundación Atauerca, el objetivo es que los científicos extranjeros que participen en el Congreso conozcan el estado de la investigación en los yacimientos españoles que se están excavando en la actualidad o que se excavaron en el pasado, pero siguen aportando nueva información.

Unión Internacional de Ciencias Prehistóricas y Protohistóricas

La Unión Internacional de Ciencias Prehistóricas y Protohistóricas, UISPP, nacida en 1931 con origen en 1865, reúne a gran número de investigadores y profesores universitarios vinculados a estas disciplinas en los cinco continentes, y su Congreso trienal, el más importante del mundo en su área, no se reunía en España desde hace 60 años, en 1954, y desde 2008 no se celebra en Europa. El próximo Congreso será en Melbourne (Australia) en el 2017. La UISPP es desde 1955 entidad colaboradora de la UNESCO.
Los especialistas de todo el mundo son conscientes de que en la Sierra de Atapuerca se encuentra el mayor conjunto de yacimientos paleoantropológicos de todo el planeta, declarados en 2000 Patrimonio de la Humanidad por UNESCO, y que sobre ellos se asienta uno de los más importantes proyectos científicos mundiales en el estudio de los orígenes de la humanidad, el Proyecto Atapuerca.

Fuente: DiCYT:

Hallan una necrópolis que data de la Edad Media en Moscas del Páramo (León)

Generalmente son las casualidades las que obligan a la tierra a devolver al presente parte del pasado. Ni más ni menos es lo que has sucedido en Moscas del Páramo, una localidad leonesa que ha desvelado la presencia de una necrópolis medieval en la que se pueden observar en torno a media docena de tumbas en lajas que, presumiblemente, indicaría que en las inmediaciones existiría alguna construcción religiosa, como una ermita o una iglesia.
Se trata de un hallazgo casual en un paraje en el que se estaban realizando labores de excavación para la extracción de áridos destinados a unas obras que se están realizando desde junio, denominadas “Proyecto de Infraestructura Rural en la Zona de Concentración Parcelaria del Páramo Bajo. Sector III de Riego”, que afecta a las poblaciones de Valdefuentes del Páramo, Laguna Dalga, Roperuelos del Páramo, Cebrones del Río, Zotes del Páramo y Regueras de Arriba.
Según han relatado fuentes de la Delegación Territorial de la Junta de Castilla y León, la necrópolis medieval no contiene restos humanos, previsiblemente por el hecho de que la acidez de la tierra haya disuelto los cuerpos de los sepultados. Una vez comunicado el hallazgo, desde la Junta de Castilla y León se realizó un primer análisis arqueológico de urgencia para documentar los restos.
Después, se ha realizado un estudio más exhaustivo, todavía en proceso de redacción, por lo que desde la Delegación Territorial no se han aportado más detalles y, de momento, no ha trascendido en qué periodo concreto de la Edad Media se encuadra esta necrópolis. Una vez investigado el lugar, los restos volvieron a ser tapados, con la protección de geotextiles y con un manto de arena, al estilo del proyecto de tapado de los restos Ad Legionem en Puente Castro, para garantizar su conservación y evitar espolios.
El hallazgo de este tipo de restos medievales ha sido común en la provincia de León en los últimos tiempos. Dos ejemplos han sido los encontrados en Posada de Valdeón, durante las obras para la construcción del Centro de Interpretación, mientras que en Columbrianos también se encontró una necrópolis asociada a una iglesia en la ladera del castro.

Fuente: El Norte de Castilla:

domingo, 31 de agosto de 2014

Wine cellar of Bronze Age Canaanite palace

Wine production, distribution, and consumption are thought to have played a role in the lives of those living in the Mediterranean and Near East during the Middle Bronze Age (1900-1600 BC). However, very little actual archaeological evidence is available about the role wine played during this period.
During a 2013 excavation of a Middle Bronze Age Canaanite palace in modern-day Israel carried out by Andrew Koh from Brandeis University and colleagues, 40 large storage vessels were found in an enclosed room located to the west of the central courtyard.
Tel Kabri is a 34-hectare site located in western Galilee, five kilometres east of Nahariya. During the Middle Bronze Age the site was the centre of a major Canaanite polity, with a palace covering at least 6,000 square metres, making it the largest palace from that period excavated so far in Israel.

A sophisticated understanding

An organic residue analysis using mass spectrometry revealed that all of the relatively uniform jars contained chemical compounds indicative of wine. The authors also detected subtle differences in the ingredients or additives within similarly shaped wine jars, including honey, storax resin, terebinth resin, cedar oil, cyperus, juniper, and possibly mint, myrtle, and cinnamon. The researchers suggest the detection of these additives indicates that humans at the time had a sophisticated understanding of plants and skills necessary to produce a complex beverage that balanced preservation, palatability, and psychoactivity. According to the authors, these results may contribute to a greater understanding of ancient viticulture and the Canaanite palatial economy.
Andrew Koh added, “Based on the nature of the room, it was anticipated from the beginning that residue samples extracted and studied under virtually identical circumstances with minimal variability would have the potential to reveal new and significant insights from both a scientific and archaeological perspective. We believe this study will not only change our understanding of ancient viticulture and palatial social practices, but also the manner in which we approach organic residue analysis (ORA) as an integrated, qualitative, and interdisciplinary exercise that is as field dependent as it is laboratory intensive.”

Source: Past Horizons:

Homo sapiens ‘culturally diverse’ prior to leaving Africa

Researchers have carried out the largest comparative study of stone tools dating to between 130,000 and 75,000 years ago found in the region between sub-Saharan Africa and Eurasia. The study is crucial to understanding the structure and variation of Homo sapiens populations in Africa and then trying to interpret evidence of their subsequent dispersals into Eurasia.
As part of this work they have discovered marked differences in the way stone tools were made, reflecting the development of diversity in cultural traditions. The study has also identified at least four distinct populations, each relatively isolated from the other and with their own different cultural characteristics.

Movement and exchange

The research paper also suggests that early populations took advantage of rivers and lakes that criss-crossed the Saharan desert for movement and exchange. A climate model coupled with data about these ancient water courses was matched with the new findings on stone tools to reveal that populations connected by rivers had recognisable similarities in their cultures.
This could be the earliest evidence of different populations ‘budding’ across the Sahara, using the rivers to disperse and meet people from other populations, according to the paper published in the journal, Quaternary Science Reviews.
The researchers from the University of Oxford, Kings College London and the University of Bordeaux took a staggering 300,000 measurements of stone tools from 17 archaeological sites across North Africa, including the Sahara, and then combined the stone tool data with a model of the North African environment during that period, which showed that the Sahara was then a patchwork of savannah, grasslands and water, interspersed with desert.
Mapping out known ancient rivers and major lakes has built on earlier research by Professor Nick Drake, one of this paper’s co-authors. By modelling and mapping the environment, the researchers were then able to draw new inferences on the contexts in which the ancient populations made and used their tools. The results show, for the first time, how early populations of modern humans dispersed across the Sahara, one after the other ‘budding’ into populations along the ancient rivers and watercourses.
Lead researcher Dr Eleanor Scerri, visiting scholar at the University of Oxford, said: ‘This is the first time that scientists have identified that early modern humans at the cusp of dispersal out of Africa were grouped in separate, isolated and local populations. Stone tools are the only form of preserved material culture for most of human history. In Africa, owing to the hot climate, ancient DNA has not yet been found. These stone tools reveal how early populations of modern humans dispersed across the Sahara just before they left North Africa. While different populations were relatively isolated, we were interested to find that when connected by rivers, they share similarities in their tool-making suggesting some interaction with one another.”

Consistently culturally distinctive

The researchers used a variety of tests in order to rule out causes of variability, such as differences in raw materials. This was done to establish that tool-making traditions were consistently culturally distinctive among the different populations in the study.
Dr Scerri said: “Not much is known about the structure of early modern human populations in Africa, particularly at the time of their earliest dispersals into Eurasia. Our picture of modern human demography around 100,000 years ago is that there were a number of populations, varying in size and degree of genetic contact, distributed over a wide geographical area. This model of our population history supports other theories recently put forward that modern humans may have first successfully left Africa earlier than 60,000-50,000 years ago, which had been the common view among scholars. Our work provides important new evidence that sheds light on both the timing of early modern human dispersals out of Africa and the character of our interaction with other human species, such as Neanderthals.”
Co-author Dr Huw Groucutt, from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, said: ‘The question of whether there was an early successful exit from Africa has become one of whether any of the populations discovered in this paper went in and out of Africa for some or all of this time. A crucial next step involves fieldwork in areas such as the Arabian Peninsula to understand how these populations spread into Eurasia. The ongoing fieldwork by the Oxford University based Palaeodeserts Project is seeking to do exactly that, and we are making some remarkable discoveries in the deserts of Arabia, which may also have been the region where both Neanderthal and Homo sapiens populations may have interacted.”

Source: Past Horizons:

Oldest European human footprints confirmed (Romania)

In 1965 archaeologists discovered about 400 ancient human footprints in Ciur-Izbuc Cave in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. At that time, researchers interpreted the footprints to be those of a man, woman and child who entered the cave by an opening which is now blocked but which was usable in antiquity.
The original age of the footprints was given as 10–15,000 years old based partly on their association with cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) footprints and bones, and the belief that cave bears became extinct near the end of the last ice age.

In danger of destruction

However, since their discovery, the human and bear evidence and the cave itself have attracted cavers and other tourists, with the result that the ancient footprints were in danger of destruction by modern humans – leaving only 51 of the original discovery.
But radiocarbon measurements of two cave bear bones excavated just below the footprints now indicate that Homo sapiens made these tracks around 36,500 years ago, say anthropologist David Webb of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania and his colleagues.
In an effort to conserve the footprints and information about them and to re-analyse them with modern techniques, Ciur-Izbuc Cave was restudied in summer of 2012. Although, it is impossible to confirm some of the original conclusions due to the destruction of nearly 350 footprints, the number of individuals present is now estimated to be six or seven.
Two cases of bears apparently overprinting humans help establish antiquity, and C-14 dates suggest a much greater age than originally thought.

Mapping human movement

Unfortunately, insufficient footprints remain to measure movement variables such as stride length, but detailed three-dimensional mapping does allow a more precise description of human movements within the cave
Analyses of 51 footprints that remain indicate that six or seven individuals, including at least one child, entered the cave after a flood had coated its floor with sandy mud, the researchers report in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
Published ages for other H. sapiens footprints in Europe and elsewhere go back no more than 33,000 years.
Other scientists have suggested that H. sapiens tracks at Tanzania’s Engare Sero site were 120,000 years old but these findings have still to be published, suggesting to Webb there may be a problem with dating or footprint authenticity.

Source: Past Horizons:

Bibracte: where Julius Caesar completed his “Gallic Wars” (France)

Polish archaeologists are exploring the remains of metallurgical workshops in Bibracte, a two thousand year old Celtic fortified settlement on the border of Yonne and Saône-et-Loire in Burgundy, France.
“In this oppidum, in the winter 52/51 BC Julius Caesar completed the famous Gallic Wars” explained Dr. Tomasz Bochnak of the Institute of Archaeology, University of Rzeszów, who coordinates the work of the Polish team.

Workshops several stories high

The aim of the excavation is to identify the building layout north of the main road in the area adjacent to the principal gate of the oppidum. To date, archaeologists were able to identify workshops of bronze-smiths and enamellers. It is a sloping terrain, so the occupants had to construct terraces on which to erect their buildings. These buildings were several storeys high, with entrances located at different levels.
“This year, we have discovered mainly traces of metallurgical operations, primarily slag, but also coins and fibulas, or pins. After two weeks of work we have also dug up close to 100 kg of fragments of ancient amphorae. This number is likely to increase significantly before the study ends” said Dr. Bochnak.
He added that the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus wrote that an amphora of wine cost as much as the slave who would carry it. On the whole site, since the studies resumed in the 1980s, archaeologists have discovered more than 30 tons of this type of vessel.
Excavations in Bibracte began in the nineteenth century and were interrupted by the outbreak of the World War I. Archaeologists returned to the site in the 1980s. Gradually, an extensive research centre was established around the hill, and used by scientists from all over the world. Polish archaeologists joined the team in 2005. Until 2008 they were part of the French-Polish-Czech team, led by Prof. Jean-Paul Guillaumet. Since 2009, Polish archaeologists conduct excavations in partnership with Dr. Petra Goláňová of Masaryk University in Brno. The project also involves a ceramics expert from the Archaeological Museum in Kraków and students from the Institute of Archaeology in Rzeszów, Institute of Prehistory, Adam Mickiewicz University, and the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw.

Stronghold of the Aedui

Ancient Bibracte was the main city of one of the most powerful Celtic tribes – the Aedui. The oppidum was founded probably in the late third or early second century BC, and was abandoned at the turn of the eras. Its residents owed their strong position to the favourable location: between the upper Rhone, the upper Seine and the upper Loire. Goods, especially numerous amphorae filled with wine, were shipped down the Rhone from Masalia. Then they were transported to the Seine and the Loire, and shipped to western and northern Gaul. In the middle of this junction was Bibracte surrounded by two rings of defensive walls.
“Approximately 100 tons of nails were used to build these walls, and the amount of wood needed for this purpose would have grown on the area surrounded by the walls; 200 hectares. The area was larger than medieval Kraków” described Dr. Bochnak.
The decline of the oppidum came with the defeat of the coalition of Celtic tribes led by Vercingetorix in 52 BC. Luckily for archaeologists, for nearly two millennia since the abandonment of the oppidum, human activity in the area has been small, and remains of buildings from Celtic times and the reign of Octavian Augustus are often well preserved.

Source: Past Horizons:

jueves, 28 de agosto de 2014



28 DE AGOSTO DE 2014
20:00 HORAS

lunes, 25 de agosto de 2014

Roman baths discovered in Georgia

In Gonio, south of the Georgian Black Sea town of Batumi, a team of Polish researchers have discovered baths built and used by the Roman army about 2000 years ago. The excavations are being carried out by a team from the Institute of Archaeology and the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw, together with archaeologists from the local museum.
Research is being conducted inside an ancient fort called Apsaros which was built by the Romans. Near to this fortress a road ran from Colchis (Western Georgia) to the Roman provinces in Asia Minor.
“We were surprised by both the age of the structure, as well as its build quality” said Dr. Radosław Karasiewicz-Szczypiorski, head of the excavation.
“In general, thermal baths built for the military were not luxurious. That is why we were surprised by the discovery of mosaics ornamenting the floor. We also unveiled a large part of a cool water pool, so-called frigidarium“.

An early Roman presence

The age of the baths was also a surprise for the archaeologists, as they expected to discover structures from II-III century AD. However, the baths almost certainly date to the latter part of the first century AD, and are therefore evidence of an early presence of the Romans in the area. The structure is thought to built during the reign of Emperor Vespasian.
This is the first season of work that will continue for the next two years. “We plan to uncover the whole area of baths. The remains of the baths will be conserved and covered with a roof – it will become a tourist attraction near Batumi” – concluded Dr. Karasiewicz-Szczypiorski.

Source: Past Horizons:

martes, 19 de agosto de 2014

Las excavaciones en el castro de 'El Prado de la Carrera', en Candeleda, se retoman en septiembre (Ávila)

Los trabajos de excavación del castro de ‘El Prado de la Carrera’, ubicado en Candeleda (Ávila), se reanudarán en el mes de septiembre, en concreto, del día 8 al 26. El objetivo es continuar con la excavación de la cabaña construida con postes de madera, edificación que fue hallada el año pasado.
También se quiere realizar nuevos sondeos en la muralla, con el objetivo de localizar una de las puertas de acceso al asentamiento de la Sierra de Gredos, fechado en la Edad de Bronce y ocupado posiblemente en etapas anteriores. Por último, se comenzará a excavar en el recinto superior, cuya funcionalidad es desconocida hasta el momento. El yacimiento está divido en dos recintos separados por un muro de mampostería.
En esta nueva campaña de excavaciones, promovida y financiada íntegramente por el Ayuntamiento de Candeleda, participarán ocho arqueólogos y estudiantes de las universidades de Granada, Salamanca, Extremadura y Autónoma de Madrid, dirigidos por el arqueólogo César Marco Pérez García, siendo promovida y financiada íntegramente por el Ayuntamiento de Candeleda.
En los trabajos del año pasado, además de la cabaña, se encontró una muralla y cerámicas realizadas a mano. Todo esto arroja luz sobre la vida de los pobladores del yacimiento, que eligieron un estratégico lugar defensivo, situado a más de 1.200 metros de altura, para habitar durante, al menos, una parte del año.

Fuente: El Norte de Castilla:

lunes, 18 de agosto de 2014



El próximo Miércoles 20 de Agosto de 2014 tendrán lugar en la localidad de Santa Eulalia de Tábara (Zamora), los IV Talleres Arqueológicos organizados por la Asociación Científico - Cultural Zamora Protohistórica, en colaboración con la Asociación Cultural de Santa Eulalia de Tábara.

Este evento tendrá lugar a las 18:00 horas en la Plaza de Santa Eulalia de Tábara.

Los talleres estan dirigidos especialmente a un público infantil, aunque también tendran lugar diversas actividades para los adultos. 

Entre los diversos talleres se realizarán cerámicas, talla de industría lítica, tiro con arco, arte rupestre, hornos para la fabricación de pan, abalorios, etc, y una gran batalla final entre visigodos y romanos.

Os esperamos!!

domingo, 17 de agosto de 2014

Million year hominid dispersal event in Iberia (Cataluña)

It was a world full of diverse large mammals that lived on what is now the Iberian peninsula up to 1 million years ago. This detailed reconstruction of the environment has been carried out by researchers from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the Catalan Institute of Human Palaeoecology and Social Evolution at the site of the ravine Boella, Canonja (Tarragona).
Archaeological remains dating to between 1 million to 780,000 years were also found on an excavation that has provided evidence of the first known human occupation in the Iberian Peninsula.
The study published in the journal PLoS ONE examines one of the first indicators and traces of prehistoric human dispersal technology – Acheulean – which in the Early Pleistocene was widespread in Africa but not in Eurasia.
In fact, the Acheulean technology lithics became widespread in European archaeological sites after the final settlement of the continent, which is believed to be during the second half of the Middle Pleistocene (between 500,000 to 125,000 years ago).
The existence of the Oldowan Acheulean technology at that time in the Iberian Peninsula shows a new hominid dispersal event, possibly from Africa. “This suggests the presence of Acheulean in Europe up to a million years ago, so that new immigrants coexisted in the Peninsula with more archaic populations,” explains Antonio Rosas.
“The gully of La Boella is a new set of sites that provide valuable information about the biological and cultural evolution of human populations in the Lower and Middle Pleistocene, a unique period of human evolution,” said a CSIC researcher.

A rich megafauna

Among the fossil species recovered, investigators  identified; mammoths, rhinos, bears, deer, and hippos. The presence of hippo, and the bones from a beaver, suggests that hominids exploited  natural resources near watercourses and environments subject to  flooding. Another of the conclusions reached by the study related to carnivore activity nearby. They recorded teeth marks on the remains of large animals, and also found fossilised faeces, showing animals such as hyenas were scavenging for food.
The work has involved professionals from different disciplines and institutions to establish a chronological, archaeological and palaeobiological context of the site.
The archaeological record of Barranc de la Boella completes the geographical distribution of large cutting tool (LCT ) assemblages across southern Eurasia during the Early-Middle Pleistocene Transition (EMPT), circa 942 to 641 kyr. Until now, chronology of the earliest European LCT assemblages was based on the abundant Palaeolithic record found in terrace river sequences which have been dated to the end of the EMPT and later.
The findings at Barranc de la Boella suggest that early LCT lithic assemblages appeared in the SW of Europe during earlier hominin dispersal episodes several tens of thousands of years before the definitive colonization of temperate Eurasia took place.

Source: Past Horizons: