Play Was Important -- Even 4,000 Years Ago
It is uncommon for archaeologists excavating old settlements to come across play and game-related finds, and even those that have been found have not been really studied as they are seen by the scientists as things that do not matter.
However in Mohenjo-daro, almost one in every 10 items found appears to be play related. These include dice and other game pieces. Also, these items have been found concentrated in a few places, which seems to show that there were distinct places where people went to play the games. The number of finds also shows that they must have been an important part of everyday life.
From the article on http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110207114941.htm

Montana Tribes Ready For Historic Return Of Buffalo

Date: 09-May-11
For the first time in nearly 140 years, the Indian tribes of northeastern Montana are preparing for the return of wild buffalo that are descended from herds that once thundered across the vast American West. The Sioux and Assiniboine tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in coming months will claim dozens of buffalo originating from Yellowstone National Park, home to the last free-roaming, purebred bands of buffalo, or bison, in the United States.
For American Indians, whose fortunes in the 19th century declined with eradication of the herds they depended on, the buffalo's return symbolizes fresh hope for an ancient culture.
"It's the beginning of a whole new chapter for the bison and for us. It brings us right back to where we were," said Robert Magnan, head of Fort Peck's fish and game department.
Systematic hunting of buffalo west of the Mississippi cut their numbers from tens of millions to the fewer than 50 animals that found refuge at Yellowstone in the early 20th century. That population has since grown to some 3,700 head. This is too many for Yellowstone to keep so the native Americans of Fort Peck are the first of several researves set to take bison into their land.

My Pakistan Chest By Callum

We bought a Pakistan Chest when my mum lived in Pakistan. She had been living on the banks of the Indus River and bought a chest that had been made by wood from that area in the Indus Valley.
It has pictures that have been carved in and words on top of them written in an unknown language.



Source: A massive haul of bones discovered in a medieval graveyard has given an insight into the medical capabilities of people 1,500 years ago. The skeletons, found in central Italy, show that many soldiers buried close to one another survived after suffering blows to the head with maces and battle axes. There are signs of medical interventions with one man going on to live despite having a two inch hole in his head, probably caused by a Byzantine mace.
Soldier 1: Mace wound to the skull with smooth edges and no fragments. He probably had 'brain surgery' and lived for a few years after treatment
Soldier 2: Axe wound to the skull, partial healing and after his treatment he went on to live for a long time
Soldier 3: Sword slash to the skull, he is not likely to have lived for more than a few hours after sustaining his injury. He also had the added problem of coping with leprosy
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1375463/Hole-head-How-medieval-soldiers-survived-battle-thanks-early-day-brain-surgery.html#ixzz1JCnbodjG

Robin Hood, a myth? Well maybe not!

Stories of Robin Hood go back to 1450 and many ballads were written about him. For those of you who don’t know about him, he was said to have lived in Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire in central England with his band of ‘Merry Men’. Among them were Friar Tuck, Little John and others. They stole from the rich to give to the poor, were constantly harried by the Sheriff of Nottingham, who was buddies with Bad King John, and were good friends with King Richard who was off fighting in the crusades.
This has long been believed to be a huge myth as no-one could find out anything solid about him. However, there were rumours about who he might have been. Now a retired professor thinks he has enough evidence to nail Robin down. David Baldwin claims that the real Robin was Roger Godberd who was a farmer. His list of crimes would certainly make him fit the idealised description of the legend. Godberd was a real-life outlaw who robbed the rich and was even captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham and held in Nottingham Castle for his crimes. He led a band of merry men who ambushed wealthy travellers across Sherwood Forest and was even helped by a friendly knight who helped him evade the law.

A very old and nearly perfect copy of the stories of King Arthur on sale

Read the full article here

King Arthur medieval manuscript to fetch up to £2m at auction

Three huge volumes of Rochefoucauld Grail tell tales of Arthur, Merlin, the Round Table, Guinevere and Lancelot, and the quest for the Holy Grail are on sale at Southerby's in London. Do follow the link and see one of the amazing illustrations.

Wind Could Have Parted Red Sea For Moses

Moses might not have parted the Red Sea, but a strong east wind that blew through the night could have pushed the waters back in the way described in biblical writings and the Koran.
As part of a larger study of the interaction between wind and water, it has been shown to be possible according to the laws of physics for water to be held back for a short period before the water returns.
It requires a strong wind for a number of hours blowing in a particular direction and river with a lagoon nearby . They think they have found where it could have happened – in the SE corner of the Mediterranean where one of the distributaries of the Nile has such a lagoon next to it – a distributaries is the name given to the branches of a delta.

Mystery: 97 new born babies found buried together in a Roman Villa


An extensive study of a mass burial at a Roman villa in the Thames Valley suggests that the 97 children all died at 40 weeks gestation, or very soon after birth. The archaeologists believe that locals may have been killing and burying unwanted babies on the site in Hambleden, Buckinghamshire.

What we need to know about the Romans’ attitude to infants. They didn't consider infants were human beings until the age of about 2, and so babies dying before that did not have a formal burial but would be buried close to home without ceremony. There was no contraception and so unwanted babies might have been smothered at birth. Why might these infants have been unwanted? If their mothers were slaves or workers, then they were not permitted to take time off to look after the infants.

Because there were so many, one of the leading thoughts are that the villa was a brothel – and this is the idea that hit the headlines. However there are other finds that point in different directions, for example there were a large number of metal styli ( Latin for pens), which points to a large number of people who could write. So another theory is that it was an Imperial supply depot, with a lot of literate and numerate workers, perhaps processing grain (explaining the corn drying kilns). If the literate workers were mostly women, then the need to keep them working may help explain the infanticide.

The Hambleden investigation features in a new BBC TV archaeology series, Digging for Britain presented by Dr Alice Roberts, to be broadcast on BBC Two in July and August.

Romans 'may have settled as far south-west as Cornwall'

Archaeologists have discovered a Roman fort in a part of Britain where experts previously thought the ancient civilisation did not settle. It has always been believed that the Romans stopped at the edge of the border with Devon and stayed the other side of the River Tamar.

What had been assumed to be an Iron Age settlement near St Austell in Cornwall turned out to have Roman pottery and glass present. This has been dated to 250AD. Archaeological Jonathan Clemes discovered various artefacts by studying the earth after it had been ploughed.

Following the discovery of the artefacts a geophysical survey uncovered a fort and a marching camp.

Archaeological geophysical surveying uses a variety of methods to find out any anomalies (things that you don’t expect in the earth), using magnetism or sound or x-ray technology to do it . This picture shows some evidence walls and buildings buried deep underground.

What is radio carbon dating and how does this help tell just how long ago the Egyptian Pharaohs lived?

Carbon comes in 3 forms Carbon 12, Carbon 13 and carbon 14. The numbers tell you how heavy each type is.
Carbon 12 is the regular version and makes up most of the carbon in the world. It has 6 protons and 6 neutrons. Carbon 13 and carbon 14 both have an extra neutrons which make them heavier.
Carbon 14 is radioactive which means you can measure how much there is with a Geiger counter. It is also unstable. Over a fixed period of time, it looses a fixed percentage of the extra neutrons, so over time the reading on the Geiger counter goes down. From this you can work out how old the item is.
Each living thing has a fixed amount of carbon 14 but once it has died no more gets added, so then after 5730 years, half of it will have broken down and after 11,460, ¾ of it will have decayed. So using this graph, you can work out how long ago the item died by how much Carbon14 it contains.
This is the method they used to fix more clearly when the Pharaohs lived. They collected odd seeds and tiny scraps of cloth and pieces of basket from known sites from Egypt and the countries around like Sudan and Lebanon. They dated them all using carbon14 dating techniques. Mostly they confirmed that the previous ideas were more or less correct but in the case of earliest Pharaohs, they found they were even older that people had originally thought.

Neanderthals in Britain much earlier than we thought

Flint fragments were found in an excavation near the M25/A2 junction which were dated, by the layer they were in (see archaeology lesson after half-term Y7), at around100, 000 years ago. Now this is very different from what had been expected.
We know that early pre-Neanderthals inhabited Britain before the last ice age, but were forced south by a previous glaciation about 200,000 year ago. When the climate warmed up again between 130,000 and 110,000 years ago, they couldn't get back because, similar to today, the English Channel blocked their path.
It had always been assumed that they were unable to return until about 60,000 during the last ice age occurred between around 110,000 to 10,000 years ago. It was only then that the sea levels fell opening up a land bridge from the continent.
But this discovery,100,000 years ago shows they returned to our shores much earlier than the previous evidence suggested.
For more details follow this link:

On Crete, New Evidence of Very Ancient Mariners

Early humans, possibly even prehuman ancestors, appear to have been going to sea much longer than anyone had ever suspected.
That is the startling implication of discoveries made the last two summers on the Greek island of Crete. Stone tools found there, archaeologists say, are at least 130,000 years old, which is considered strong evidence for the earliest known seafaring in the Mediterranean and cause for rethinking the maritime capabilities of pre-human cultures.
Crete has been an island for more than five million years, meaning that the toolmakers must have arrived by boat. So this seems to push the history of Mediterranean voyaging back more than 100,000 years, specialists in Stone Age archaeology say. Previous artefact discoveries had shown people reaching Cyprus, a few other Greek islands and possibly Sardinia no earlier than 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.
The oldest established early marine travel anywhere was the sea-crossing migration of anatomically modern Homo sapiens to Australia, beginning about 60,000 years ago. There is also a suggestive trickle of evidence, notably the skeletons and artefacts on the Indonesian island of Flores, of more ancient hominids making their way by water to new habitats.

THE Viking influence on Orkney and Shetland is to be investigated as part of a major international study over the next three years.

An £850,000 funding award has been given to the project involving Dr Alexandra Sanmark, from the Centre for Nordic Studies, part of the prospective University of the Highlands and Islands, in collaboration with colleagues from the universities of Oslo, Vienna and Durham.

The Humanities in Europe Research Awards scheme will fund an investigation into the role of Norse governing assemblies – or "things" – in the creation, consolidation and maintenance of collective identities and kingdoms in medieval Northern Europe.

The Centre of Nordic Studies, which has campuses in Kirkwall in Orkney and Scalloway in Shetland, is to receive £118,000 towards archaeological fieldwork on outdoor parliament and court sites in the islands, as well as workshops and an exhibition planned for next year.

Orkney and Shetland were ruled by Norsemen for about 600 years and the Viking culture is still apparent through the names of island people, places and streets as well as festivals such as Up-Helly-Aa.

Anne Frank diary guardian Miep Gies dies aged 100

Miep Gies, the last surviving member of the group who helped protect Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis, has died in the Netherlands aged 100.
She and other employees of Anne Frank's father Otto supplied food to the family as they hid in a secret annex above the business premises in Amsterdam.
Anne's diary of their life in hiding, which ended in betrayal, is one of the most famous records of the Holocaust. It was rescued by Mrs Gies, who kept it safe until after the war.

Neanderthal 'make-up' discovered

Scientists claim to have the first persuasive evidence that Neanderthals wore "body paint" 50,000 years ago. They believe that shells containing pigment residues were Neanderthal make-up containers. Scientists unearthed the shells at two archaeological sites in the Murcia province of southern Spain. [Shells in the picture contain pigments]Neanderthal_shells.jpg
Black sticks of the pigment manganese, which may have been used as body paint by Neanderthals, have previously been discovered in Africa. "[But] this is the first secure evidence for their use of cosmetics,. The use of these complex recipes is new. It's more than body painting."
The scientists found lumps of a yellow pigment, that they say was possibly used as a foundation.
They also found red powder mixed up with flecks of a reflective brilliant black mineral. Some of the sculpted, brightly coloured shells may also have been worn by Neanderthals as jewellery.
"The association of these findings with Neanderthals is rock-solid and people have to draw the associations and bury this view of Neanderthals as half-wits. It's very difficult to dislodge the brutish image from popular thinking," Professor Stringer told BBC News. "When football fans behave badly, or politicians advocate reactionary views, they are invariably called 'Neanderthal', and I can't see the tabloids changing their headlines any time soon."

From Samuel Pepys’ Diary – remember that about the bean and the pea on Twelfth Night!

Friday 6 January 1660

This morning Mr Sheply and I did eat our breakfast at Mrs Harper's, (my brother John being with me,) upon a cold turkey-pie and a goose. From thence I went to my office, where we paid money to the soldiers till one o'clock, at which time we made an end, and I went home and took my wife and went to my cosen, Thomas Pepys, and found them just sat down to dinner, which was very good; only the venison pasty was palpable beef, which was not handsome. After dinner I took my leave, leaving my wife with my cozen Stradwick, and went to Westminster to Mr Vines, where George and I fiddled a good while, Dick and his wife (who was lately brought to bed) and her sister being there, but Mr Hudson not coming according to his promise, I went away, and calling at my house on the wench, I took her and the lanthorn with me to my cosen Stradwick, where, after a good supper, there being there my father, mother, brothers, and sister, my cosen Scott and his wife, Mr Drawwater and his wife, and her brother, Mr Stradwick, we had a brave cake brought us, and in the choosing, Pall was Queen and Mr Stradwick was King. After that my wife and I bid adieu and came home, it being still a great frost.
Note the odd spellings!

Ancient Weapons Dug Up by Archaeologists in England

Nov 17th http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091116114256.htm
flints.pngA recently excavated major Prehistoric site at Asfordby, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire is a Mesolithic site may date from as early as 9000 BC. The Mesolithic people would have returned to the area after the Ice Age by way of the land bridge which joined Britain to Europe – the land bridge was not flooded for several more centures

New battle over Bosworth's site

On BBC site http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/8329251.stm
October 28th 2009

Many people visit the battle of Bosworth site every year to see ‘the place where Richard III was killed’ – and according to Shakespeare – was heard to call out , A horse, a horde, my kingdom for a horse’.
There has always been a certain amount of academic discusion about exactly where this site is but now a team of historians and archaeologists says it has found the site - and it is not where everyone thought it was.

But they are being a little coy about exactly where it is, as they are concerned that treasure hunters make steal artefacts. However, they are going as far to say that ‘the location of the battlefield was two miles to the south and west.’Bosworth_field.png

But if you look on the map, the red circle has a radius of 2 miles from the centre of the current site and the green arc marks off the region from the south to the west – so somewhere along that line is the newly discovered site.

What is their evidence? They have used metal detectors and checked soil samples> They have looked at ancient maps and documents. Using references to places like Redmore (or Reed Moor) and Sandyford (a sandy crossing in the marsh) they have built up a picture of the landscape at the time of the battle.
But their most important finds include 22 lead shots fired by the smallest hand-held gun of the time and balls from the largest cannon of the time. So the study has thrown new light on the use of medieval artillery. So even at this point, it was not all archers and swords!


According to the Daily Mail
someone has given away the secret! I wasn't that far out, was I?

World's Oldest Submerged Town Dates Back 5,000 Years

ScienceDaily (Oct. 16, 2009) — Archaeologists surveying the world’s oldest submerged town have found ceramics dating back to the Final Neolithic (Bronze Age). Their discovery suggests that Pavlopetri, off the southern Laconia coast of Greece, was occupied some 5,000 years ago — at least 1,200 years earlier than originally thought.

These remarkable findings have been made public by the Greek government after the start of a five year collaborative project involving the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and The University of Nottingham.

As a Mycenaean town the site offers potential new insights into the workings of Mycenaean society. Pavlopetri has added importance as it was a maritime settlement from which the inhabitants coordinated local and long distance trade.

This summer the team carried out a detailed digital underwater survey and study of the structural remains, which until this year were thought to belong to the Mycenaean period — around 1600 to 1000 BC. The survey surpassed all their expectations. Their investigations revealed another 150 square metres of new buildings as well as ceramics that suggest the site was occupied throughout the Bronze Age — from at least 2800 BC to 1100 BC.

Dr Jon Henderson said: “This site is unique in that we have almost the complete town plan, the main streets and domestic buildings, courtyards, rock-cut tombs and what appear to be religious buildings, clearly visible on the seabed. Equally as a harbour settlement, the study of the archaeological material we have recovered will be extremely important in terms of revealing how maritime trade was conducted and managed in the Bronze Age.”

Possibly one of the most important discoveries has been the identification of what could be a megaron — a large rectangular great hall — from the Early Bronze Age period. They have also found over 150 metres of new buildings including what could be the first example of a pillar crypt ever discovered on the Greek mainland. Two new stone built cist graves were also discovered alongside what appears to be a Middle Bronze Age pithos burial.

Mr Spondylis said: “It is a rare find and it is significant because as a submerged site it was never re-occupied and therefore represents a frozen moment of the past.” He is an expert in Aegean Prehistory and the archaeology of Laconia.

Dr Gallou said: “The new ceramic finds form a complete and exceptional corpus of pottery covering all sub-phases from the Final Neolithic period (mid 4th millennium BC) to the end of the Late Bronze Age (1100 BC). In addition, the interest from the local community in Laconia has been fantastic. The investigation at Pavlopetri offers a great opportunity for them to be actively involved in the preservation and management of the site, and subsequently for the cultural and touristic development of the wider region.”

This year, through a British School of Archaeology in Athens permit, The Pavlopetri Underwater Archaeology Project began its five year study of the site with the aim of defining the history and development of Pavlopetri.

To see the expedition for yourself, watch the video podcast on YouTube — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kepaQu4uerg

And on the University's Podcast website — http://communications.nottingham.ac.uk/podcasts.html.

Original story: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091016101809.htm