by Richard Owen in Rome
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History Buff, a blog for history lovers everywhere! History Buff brings
news stories about archaeology from around the world together on one site.
From finds in ancient Egypt to new discoveries in anthropology, History
Buff wants to know. And feel free to stop by History Buff's
Author Interviews for Q&As with authors of historical fiction. Enjoy!
historical fiction writer I am fascinated by news stories featuring the
past as it's unearthed and reimagined and brought to life. I spend a
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Landfill hearing reopens on concern that site is prehistoric 'sacred place'
AN BORD Pleanála yesterday reopened a two-year-old oral hearing into proposals for a major regional landfill on a 600-acre site at Nevitt in north Co Dublin.
The board said the re-opening was in response to concerns from academics that the site may be the location of a pre-Christian, "large-ditched enclosure of the Tara or Navan kind".
Machu Picchu’s far-flung residents
Fish Sauce Used to Date Pompeii Eruption
Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
Read the rest on Discovery.com.
Ancient Saxons could hold up supermarket
German supermarket chain Lidl, submitted pans to Teignbridge Council to build a 1,000 square metre supermarket on the old Wilcocks agricultural site at Newton Road.
Officers have recommended outline planning permission for the store, which could provide up to 30 jobs, be turned down.Read the rest here.
Hidden histories: 'The Odyssey' and 'The Iliad' are giving up new secrets about the ancient world
By Jonathan Gottschall
NEARLY 3,000 YEARS after the death of the Greek poet Homer, his epic tales of the war for Troy and its aftermath remain deeply woven into the fabric of our culture. These stories of pride and rage, massacre and homecoming have been translated and republished over millennia. Even people who have never read a word of "The Iliad" or "The Odyssey" know the phrases they have bequeathed to us - the Trojan horse, the Achilles heel, the face that launched a thousand ships.
Read the rest on the Boston Globe.
Civil War soldiers may be buried in couple's yard
The Associated Press
A couple in central Kentucky will soon have scientific proof of whether their yard is the final resting place of hundreds of civil war dead.
Ben Breeding, owner of the old Jack Arnold House in Washington County, already has all the evidence he needs though.Read the rest here.
Port of 'second Carthage' found
(ANSA) - Oristano, September 25 - Archaeologists in Sardinia said Thursday they have found the port of the Phoenician city of Tharros, held by some to be the ancient people's most important colony in the Mediterranean after Carthage.
Researchers from the University of Cagliari and Sassari found the submerged port in the Mistras Lagoon, several kilometres from the city ruins.
Read the rest here.
Vromans Book Signing in Pasadena
I had an amazing time last night at the book launch of my novel The Heretic Queen. We sold out every book in the store, and there were still people left wanting to purchase some! I also had the chance to meet some truly wonderful people there. The parents of ex-students, the web designer of an amazing Egyptian forum, and the authors Karen Essex (whose hair I have an unnatural envy of), Robin Maxwell (whose upcoming book, Signora Da Vinci is the best book I've read in a very long time) plus the hilarious and charming Christopher Gortner (who has a new book on Catherine Medici which I can't wait to get my hands on).
So here is the only photo of the night (if anyone sends me others, I'll post them). Yes, that's a Christmas tree. And yes, my big yap is open and flapping. In fact, it flapped for about thirty-five minutes on the topics of ancient Egypt, Nefertari and Ramesses the Great. We also debuted my book trailer for Cleopatra's Daughter (which I promise to upload here sometime soon).
A huge thank you to everyone who came and to all of my friends who traveled several hours to make it!
Scholars Hunt for Missing Pages of Ancient Bible
AP: JERUSALEM — A quest is under way on four continents to find the missing pages of one of the world's most important holy texts, the 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible known as the Crown of Aleppo.
Crusaders held it for ransom, fire almost destroyed it and it was reputedly smuggled across Mideast borders hidden in a washing machine. But in 1958, when it finally reached Israel, 196 pages were missing — about 40 percent of the total — and for some Old Testament scholars they have become a kind of holy grail.
Kangaroo Bones Could Solve Aussie Aborigine Mystery
By Brandon Keim
Aborigines arrived 45,000 years ago, spreading across the continent with startling rapidity. Then, in anthropological terms, they cooled their heels for the next 40,000 years: no significant population expansion. No fundamental changes in lifestyle.
That changed 5,000 years ago. Populations shot up. Settlements increased in number, and their inhabitants grew more sedentary. Scientists can't explain it.
"What's going on? Why change then? There's no obvious environmental or ecological correlate. There's no climate change," said Doug Bird, a Stanford University anthropologist who's helped devise an ingenious investigative workaround: kangaroo fossil analysis.
Bird's team recently published a study on "fire stick farming," a traditional method of ecosystem management still used by aborigines in Australia's Western Desert. By burning old-growth spinifex grass, making it easier to hunt lizards; cookpot-friendly kangaroos and emus fatten themselves on grasses flourishing on newly cleared lands.
Rare Viking ingot found
Coin declared treasure goes on display at Bedford Museum.
An ancient solid silver ingot found in Stagsden is stealing the limelight at Bedford Museum.
The Viking coin is the first of its kind discovered in the county and dates from AD 850-1000.
It was found by treasure hunters in the north Bedfordshire village last year, but has only just been bought by the museum following lengthy examination and valuation at the British Museum in London.
Read the rest here.
Ancient statue of Ramses II found near Cairo
Egyptian archaeologists located the pink, granite monument at a site in Tell Basta, once the capital of the ancient state 50 miles north of Cairo.
The great king's nose had been broken and his beard was missing, said Zahi Hawass, the head of the country's supreme council of antiquities.
Ramses, also known by his Greek name Ozymandias, commanded a mighty empire during Egypt's new kingdom from 1279-1213 BC.Read the rest on The Telegraph.
Romans 'brought leeks to Wales'
Roman soldiers grew leeks to add flavour to food, says the museum
The Romans gave us roads, plumbing, wine and irrigation and now it seems they may have also introduced Wales' unofficial icon - the garden leek.
The National Museum of Wales says the Romans probably planted domesticated varieties to flavour their stews.
The museum has recreated a Roman-design garden at the National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon, near Newport.
The garden aims to show how troops posted to the edge of the empire created their own home-from-home.
"We've used archaeological remains and research to interpret a Roman garden," said Andrew Dixey, Estate Manager for National Museum Wales.
"The Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD and brought their garden designs with them.Read the rest on the BBC.
Neanderthals ate seafood and had sophisticated palates
Neanderthals clubbed seals and ate dolphins and other seafood to survive in what was thought to be their last holdout before they were driven to extinction.
The evidence that they had more sophisticated tastes than their caveman image, dining on seafood, suggests comes from Gibraltar, from Vanguard Cave and Gorham's Cave, where the last group ended up some 26,000 years ago.
This was the last of a mighty Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) empire that once stretched from Asia to Western Europe from as much as 300,000 years ago, thriving on the cold of ice ages in woodlands where they hunted with heavy spears.
Read the rest on the Telegraph.
Rock temple found in Sri Lankan jungle yields historical treasure
This is an ancient rock temple found in an unreachable jungle area of Deegalla, located seven kilometers from Mathugama.
There is an old statue of Buddha in sleeping posture inside the rock cave.Read the rest here.
Agha Khan uses his massive wealth to protect precious sites in Syria
Agence France Presse
ALEPPO: The majestic citadel atop Syria's ancient city of Aleppo, the Masyaf Fortress of the sinister order of the Assassins and the castle of Arab conqueror Salah al-Din (Saladdin) have all been given a new lease on life as part of a project by the Agha Khan to promote Islamic sites.
"We don't do enough to illustrate to the peoples of our world the greatness of Islamic civilizations," the 71-year-old billionaire spiritual leader of the world's 15 million Shia Ismailis told AFP in an interview.
The Agha Khan, who last year celebrated 50 years as head of his community, said at a recent ceremony capping work in Aleppo that his goal is to educate the world on the wealth of Muslim culture.
Sunken Swedish ship the Kronan offers up historic haul
DNA indicates humans in N. America 14,300 years ago
University of Oregon archaeologist Dennis Jenkins (center) handed up a device to a co-worker for measuring temperature at the Paisley Caves outside Paisley, Ore. (Jeff Barnard/ Associated Press)
By Jeff Barnard Associated Press
PAISLEY, Ore. - For some 85 years, homesteaders, pot hunters, and archaeologists have been digging at Paisley Caves, a string of shallow depressions washed out of an ancient lava flow by the waves of a lake that comes and goes with the changing climate.
Until now, they have found nothing conclusive - arrowheads, baskets, animal bones, and sandals made by people who lived thousands of years ago on the shores of what was then a 40-mile-long lake, but is now a sage brush desert on the northern edge of the Great Basin.
But a few years ago, University of Oregon archaeologist Dennis Jenkins and his students started digging where no one had dug before. What the team discovered in an alcove used as a latrine and trash dump has elevated the caves to the site of the oldest radiocarbon dated human remains in North America.Read the rest on Boston Globe.
Stonehenge May Have Healed Sick, Injured
AP: Archaeology students Steve Bush, right, and Sam Ferguson, left, sieve through earth amongst the stones at Stonehenge, England.
Stonehenge has a new age — and a new purpose.
It's long been understood that the Neolithic stone circle on Salisbury Plain in southern England was an observatory tuned to the summer solstice and the positions of the stars.
But new excavations led by a pair of British archaeologists show that it was also a healing center, a sort of pagan Lourdes for chronically ill and crippled pilgrims from across western Europe.
Scholar Claims to Find 1000-Year Old Jewish Capital
AP: Kitchenware and a piece of lead that served as money in the Khazar state. The Khazars established the first feudal state in eastern Europe.
AP: MOSCOW — A Russian archaeologist says he has found the lost capital of the Khazars, a powerful nation that adopted Judaism as its official religion more than 1,000 years ago, only to disappear leaving little trace of its culture.
Dmitry Vasilyev, a professor at Astrakhan State University, said his nine-year excavation near the Caspian Sea has finally unearthed the foundations of a triangular fortress of flamed brick, along with modest yurt-shaped dwellings, and he believes these are part of what was once Itil, the Khazar capital.
By law Khazars could use flamed bricks only in the capital, Vasilyev said. The general location of the city on the Silk Road was confirmed in medieval chronicles by Arab, Jewish and European authors.
WWII Bomb Blows Up Vienna Garden, Set Off by Local Quake
AP: Vienna, Austria — Austrian authorities say a small earthquake set off a large World War II-era bomb in the garden of a Vienna home. No one was injured in the explosion.
Investigators think the bomb weighed up to half a ton. It lay buried for decades in the garden, and no one knew it was there.
Ike Uncovers Mystery Civil War-Era Shipwreck
AP: Sept. 16: People look over the wreck of a wooden ship uncovered by Hurricane Ike on a beach on Fort Morgan Road in Fort Morgan, Ala.
FORT MORGAN, Ala. , Texas — When the waves from Hurricane Ike receded, they left behind a mystery — a ragged shipwreck that archeologists say could be a two-masted Civil War schooner that ran aground in 1862 or another ship from some 70 years later.
The wreck, about six miles from Fort Morgan, had already been partially uncovered when Hurricane Camille cleared away sand in 1969.
Researchers at the time identified it as the Monticello, a battleship that partially burned when it crashed trying to get past the U.S. Navy and into Mobile Bay during the Civil War.
Archaeologists find medieval artefacts on Mt. Visocica, disparage pyramid seeker
By Jusuf Ramadanovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo
Summer excavations at Bosnia and Herzegovina's Mt. Visocica yielded results, but not the kind an entrepreneur turned amateur archaeologist was looking for. Semir Osmanagic, a US businessman of BiH origin, has invested large amounts of his own money in a personal quest to unearth what he says are Europe's first pyramids.
His claims have not yet been corroborated. Instead, an archeological team said over the summer that it has unearthed significant artefacts from a more recent era. These include eight pieces of Gothic architectural carvings and parts of glass vials dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries, imported from Venice and principalities of today's Germany, as well as numerous pieces of ceramic. They have also found 20 silver objects dating from the 15th-century.
Roman cemetery revealed in Enderby
A small Roman rural cemetery containing six skeletons has been discovered at an archaeological dig in Enderby.
The human burials were found during an excavation at the new park and ride site alongside Iron Age, Roman and medieval finds including pottery, a denarius - a type of Roman silver coin, and a number of brooches.
Analysis of the skeletons, found close to the line of the former Fosse Way Roman road, will now take place to identify the gender, age at death, health and life style of the individuals they represent.
As the area has been cultivated since medieval times, the skeletons are in relatively poor condition.
Read the rest here.
Defences at Troy reveal larger town
Normand Hammond, Archaeology Correspondent
Read the rest on the TimesOnline.
The Ptolemies through plexi-glass
The committee to establish Egypt's proposed underwater museum will have its first meeting next month in Alexandria, Nevine El-Aref reports.
The history of a city caught in a time-warp when it was submerged by the sea while it was part of a unique civilisation that once held sway over much of the ancient world will, in the near future, be accessible and visible to all visitors to Alexandria. The International Scientific Advisory Committee is meeting in October to discuss plans for Egypt's first offshore underwater museum.
On the seabed of Alexandria's Eastern Harbour lie the royal quarters of the Ptolemaic dynasty complete with temples, palaces and streets. Queen Cleopatra's Palace and Antirhodos Island, now near the centre of the harbour between Qait Bay fortress to the north, Silsila on the east and Mahattat Al-Raml to the south, were in the same position.
These magnificent monuments were hidden beneath the waves after sinking in antiquity until 1996, when a joint mission by the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology and the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), with sponsorship from the Hilti Foundation of Liechtenstein, began scientific and archaeological studies in the Eastern Harbour.Read the rest here.
100s of new species discovered in Australia
See more photos here.
New Mozart piece found in French library
David Vincent / AP: A previously unknown piece of music by Mozart is displayed, discovered by a library as staff were going through its archives, Thursday, Sept. 18, in Nantes, western France.
PARIS - A French museum has found a previously unknown piece of music handwritten by Mozart, a researcher said Thursday. The 18th century melody sketch is missing the harmony and instrumentation but was described as an important find.
Ancient settlements unearthed in eastern Turkey
A settlement dating back to Early Bronze Age, and remains of a building dating to Hittite era were recovered during excavations in Aslantepe, Malatya, professor Marcella Frangipane, the head of the excavations and a lecturer at the Italian La Spienza University, told AA correspondent.
Aslantepe was a city from 5000 BC to 712 BC, until the Assyrian invasion, and was later abandoned for a long time. It then became a Roman village from 500 to 600 AD, and later the Byzantine necropolis.
The first palace in the world was built in Aslantepe in 3350 BC. There are storage chambers, a corridor, a courtyard and a temple in the palace.
"We are trying to find two layers in Aslantepe dating back to Early Bronze Ages, and we have unearthed a part of a city walls dating to 2,900-2,800 BC. This city wall is like an acropolis," Frangipane said.Frangipane said the excavation team had also uncovered houses and cookers on the hills, which might indicate that there was a settlement during 3,000-2,500 BC.
Read the rest here.
Muddy myths sink Queen of the Nile
The only carving of Cleopatra in existence, pictured with her son by Julius Caesar, Caesarion, at the Temple of Hathor, Dendara in Egypt (Source: iStockphoto)
The world is fascinated by Cleopatra. Cleopatra (Cleopatra VII to be exact) was the last pharaoh of Egypt — and has inspired books, plays, movies and 32 operas.
Most of us are not experts in Egyptology, but we all think that we know a few things about Cleopatra — something along the lines that this Egyptian woman was stunningly beautiful, and committed suicide by getting a small snake, an asp, to bite her.
The only correct belief in all of that is that she was a woman.
First, Cleopatra was not Egyptian, she was Macedonian.Read the rest on ABC.
History's Horrors In the Present: Argentine mom seeks daughter forced into prostitution
By Brian Byrnes
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNN) -- When Susana Trimarco's daughter Marita Veron was 23, she vanished from their hometown in Argentina, a suspected victim of a human trafficking and prostitution ring with links throughout Latin America and Europe.
Marita Veron, who is missing, hugs her daughter Micaela. Police believe Marita was forced into sexual slavery.
Viking Age Triggered by Shortage of Wives?
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
During the Viking Age from the late eighth to the mid-eleventh centuries, Scandinavians tore across Europe attacking, robbing and terrorizing locals. According to a new study, the young warriors were driven to seek their fortunes to better their chances of finding wives.
The odd twist to the story, said researcher James Barrett, is that it was the selective killing of female newborns that led to a shortage of Scandinavian women in the first place, resulting later in intense competition over eligible women.
"Selective female infanticide was recorded as part of pagan Scandinavian practice in later medieval sources, such as the Icelandic sagas," Barrett, who is deputy director of Cambridge University's McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, told Discovery News.
Ramses temple found in eastern Cairo
Cairo - An Egyptian archaeological team has unearthed a temple and parts of a statue belonging to one of Egypt's most famous pharaohs, in a rare find inside the capital, the official Mena agency reported on Monday.
A temple built for 19th-dynasty King Ramses II was found in east Cairo, Mena said.
Read the rest here.
Discovery of Bronze-Age `Refrigerators' Expands Homer's Troy
Interview by Catherine Hickley
The remains of two outsized earthenware pots, a ditch and evidence of a gate dating back more than 3,000 years are changing scholars' perceptions about the city of Troy at the time Homer's ``Iliad'' was set.
The discoveries this year show that Troy's lower town was much bigger in the late Bronze Age than previously thought, according to Ernst Pernicka, the University of Tubingen professor leading excavations on the site in northwestern Turkey.
His team has uncovered a trench 1.4 kilometers long, 4 meters wide and 2 meters deep. The full length of the trench, which probably encircled the city and served a defensive purpose, may be as much as 2.5 kilometers, Pernicka said in an interview in his office in Mannheim, Germany. Troy may have been as big as 40 hectares, with a population as high as 10,000, he estimates.
PHOTO IN THE NEWS: DNA-Based Neanderthal Face Unveiled
Artists and scientists created Wilma (shown in a photo released yesterday) using analysis of DNA from 43,000-year-old bones that had been cannibalized. Announced in October 2007, the findings had suggested that at least some Neanderthals would have had red hair, pale skin, and possibly freckles.
Created for an October 2008 National Geographic magazine article, Wilma has a skeleton made from replicas of pelvis and skull bones from Neanderthal females. Copies of male Neanderthal bones—resized to female dimensions—filled in the gaps.
How the barbarians drove Romans to build Venice
Roman skeleton may give TB clues
The skeleton is an unusual find
A newly-discovered Roman skeleton could be one of the earliest British victims of tuberculosis, experts believe.
Archaeologists hope the discovery will reveal clues about how the deadly disease spread across Britain.
The man's remains - which date from the fourth century AD - were found on a construction site at York University.
The first known case of TB in Britain is from the Iron Age - but finding cases from Roman times is still rare, especially in the north.
Most finds have been confined to the southern half of England.Read the rest on the BBC.
Andy Warhol and artist 'who never existed'
Works by Pietro Psaier have appeared at sales all over the world, including several held by Christie's, Sotheby's and Bonhams, attracting prices of up to £14,000.
They were given added kudos by the claim that Psaier worked in Warhol's studio, the Factory, and that the pair were friends who collaborated on several pieces.
However, officials at the Andy Warhol Foundation have come forward to say they have never heard of Psaier, and suggested that the whole relationship may have been a hoax.
The farm girl who inspired Thomas Hardy to write Tess of the D'urbervilles
Augusta Way was 'Tess Durbeyfield' of the novel. In the book, Tess was the eldest daughter in a poor, rural working family - a fresh, pretty country girl with a good heart and a sensitive soul.
The middle-aged woman pictured below with her husband, was just 18 when Hardy spotted her milking a cow on a Wessex farm.
Historic character: Augusta Way with her husband Arthur Bugler. Years before this picture was taken, Augusta helped inspire Thomas Hardy to pen Tess of the D'urbervilles when she was spotted milking a cow on a Wessex farm
He was so attracted to the beautiful teenager that he had her in mind three years later when he wrote his famous novel in 1891.
Today is the release of my second novel The Heretic Queen! As many of my blog readers know, the journey from finished product to publication often takes a year, so after a long year's wait I can finally say that the book is in a store near you!!!!
I am so grateful to the many, many people who helped The Heretic Queen on its journey, from my editor, to my wonderful team at Crown Publishers, to the amazing bloggers who agreed to read early copies and post their reviews. One particular review that almost stopped my breath was Julianne Douglas's of Writing the Renaissance. Julianne is a writer herself with an eye for detail that would put Sherlock Holmes to shame.
Thank you so much to everyone who has helped along the way, and I hope you enjoy The Heretic Queen as much as I enjoyed writing it! There are quite a few bloggers giving away free copies in honor of the release day. Although the wonderful Books 'N Border Collies contest is over, you can enter another contest on the blog Favorite PASTimes as well as Historical Tapestry! Just leave a comment for a chance to win!
Rare Mass Tombs Discovered Near Machu Picchu
José Orozco in Caracas, Venezuela
for National Geographic News
Eighty skeletons and stockpiles of textiles found in caves near the ancient Inca site of Machu Picchu may shed light on the role that the so-called Lost City of the Inca played as a regional center of trade and power, scientists say.
Researchers found the artifacts and remains at two sites within the Machu Picchu Archaeological Park in southeastern Peru, said Fernando Astete, head of the park (see map of Peru).
The remains, most of which were found in May 2008 at a site called Salapunku, probably date to 500 to 550 years ago, said Francisco Huarcaya, the site's lead researcher.
Due to extensive looting, however, as much as 75 percent of the fabrics found wrapped around the remains are in "bad shape," Huarcaya said.
So far only the heads and shoulders of most of the bodies have been uncovered, Astete added.Read the rest on National Geographic.
In 1970, writing in CA 21, architect-turned archaeologist Chris Musson estimated that there were perhaps 200 roundhouses known in archaeological literature. The result of recent work is that now, 30 years after Musson’s estimate, we can suggest that the number of excavated roundhouses in Britain must be rapidly approaching 4,000 – a staggering 20-fold increase in archaeological data. What can it tell us?
To start at the beginning, the roundhouse is found first in the later 3rd millennium BC in South-West Scotland. Attracted to the easily tilled soils, early Bronze Age people settled in upland landscapes and often built houses on platforms levelled into the hillside. By the end of the Bronze Age, house size had increased (to c.10m in diameter): the implication is that more people were, by that time, living together. The number of houses being built increased substantially after c.400 BC – as shown in recent work by John Thomas of University of Leicester Archaeological Services – and we currently think that this indicates population increase. River-valley landscapes, in particular, saw much greater use, linked to new innovations in farming at this time.
Meet the flint-knappers
By Andy Mead