Archaeology News for the Week of August 18th, 2013

August 19th, 2013

World’s oldest temple built to worship the dog star

THE world’s oldest temple, Göbekli Tepe in southern Turkey, may have been built to worship the dog star, Sirius. The 11,000-year-old site consists of a series of at least 20 circular enclosures, although only a few have been uncovered since excavations began in the mid-1990s. Each one is surrounded by a ring of huge, T-shaped stone pillars, some of which are decorated with carvings of fierce animals. Two more megaliths stand parallel to each other at the centre of each ring. (New Scientist)

Handaxe Design Reveals Distinct Neanderthal Cultures

A study by a postgraduate researcher at the University of Southampton has found that Neanderthals were more culturally complex than previously acknowledged. Two cultural traditions existed among Neanderthals living in what is now northern Europe between 115,000 to 35,000 years ago. (Science Daily)

Hot summer unearths Roman discoveries in Wales

A rare Roman fort and marching camp have been discovered in Wales by aerial archaeologists during the hot summer. The major Roman fort complex was spotted on parched grassland near Brecon, Powys, and the marching camp near Caerwent in Monmouthshire. Aerial archaeologist Toby Driver said he could not believe his eyes when he spotted the fort from the air. (BBC News)

Changing Climate May Have Driven Collapse of Civilizations in Late Bronze Age

Climate change may have driven the collapse of once-flourishing Eastern Mediterranean civilizations towards the end of the 13th century BC, according to research published August 14 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by David Kaniewski from the University of Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France and colleagues from other institutions. (Science Daily)

Mystery dagger molds imply ancient links to northern China

Ancient molds for daggers with a double-ringed pommel and a straight blade, which have no precedent in Japan or even the nearby Korean Peninsula, have been unearthed at an archaeological site in this western city, cultural property officials said. The Shiga Prefectural Association for Cultural Heritage said Aug. 8 the finds from the Kami-Goten site likely date from between 350 B.C. and A.D. 300. (The Asahi Shimbun)

Mystery Badger Leads Archaeologists To Medieval Burial Site

Archaeologists who unearthed the tombs of two medieval lords are crediting a badger living underneath a farm in the Brandenburg town of Stolpe with an assist on the discovery, various media outlets are reporting. The 12th century burial site is home to a pair of Slavic lords, as well as a cache of artifacts including a sword, bronze bowls, an ornate belt buckle and skeletal remains, UPI reported early last week. While researchers Lars Wilhelm and Hendrikje Ring were the humans in charge of the expedition, however, they unlikely wouldn’t have found the graves without the help of the short-legged omnivore. (RedOrbit)

Nara researcher finds oldest weights in Japan

Archaeologist Susumu Morimoto recently made a landmark discovery that could change today’s views of Japan’s ancient measuring system and of the Yayoi Period (300 B.C. to 300). The head of the International Cooperation Section at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties discovered that what were believed to be grinding stones from the first half of Yayoi, about 2,400 years ago, are actually weights for scales. (Japan Times)

The Race to Save Petra From Its Own Success

A victim of its own success and fragility, the World Heritage site of Petra is currently under assessment to limit the safety risks it poses to both tourists and its local population. A two-and-a-half year UNESCO project, which was launched in July 2012 to monitor the slopes in the Siq as a response to the instability of its sandstone rocks, unearthed other underlying challenges facing the site, according to UNESCO. (