Archaeology News for the Week of February 9th, 2014

February 10th, 2014

Genetic Origins of High-Altitude Adaptations in Tibetans

Genetic adaptations for life at high elevations found in residents of the Tibetan plateau likely originated around 30,000 years ago in peoples related to contemporary Sherpa. These genes were passed on to more recent migrants from lower elevations via population mixing, and then amplified by natural selection in the modern Tibetan gene pool, according to a new study by scientists from the University of Chicago and Case Western Reserve University, published in Nature Communications on Feb. 10. (Popular Archaeology)

Gladiator Heads? Mystery of Trove of British Skulls Solved

A trove of skulls and other body parts unearthed in the heart of London may have once belonged to Roman gladiators, war captives or criminals, a new study suggests. The remains, described in the January issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, belonged to about 40 men, mostly ages 25 to 35, and were marred by violence: cheek fractures, blunt-force trauma to the head, decapitation and injuries from sharp weapons, said study co-author Rebecca Redfern, a curator and bioarchaeologist at the Museum of London. (Live Science)

Aztalan Astronomical Observatory Linked to Sun Worship

Archaeologists have located an astronomical observatory linked to sun worship in the Cerro de Coamiles site, one of the leading centres of Aztatlán (AD 850/900-1350 ) culture located in the central coast of Nayarit, Western Mexico. This discovery has helped define the importance astronomy had for the coastal boreal Mesoamerican.  (Past Horizons)

3D technology gives face to a centuries-old female skull

The scattered pieces of a centuries-old female skull have been reassembled and a new face has been formed for it thanks to 3D technology. A scattered female skull, which was found during excavations in the Aktopraklık tumulus in the northwestern province of Bursa’s Akçalar district and determined to have been killed with torture, has been reassembled and its face has been constructed with 3D technology. (Hurriyet Daily News)

New Dating Pushes Atapuerca Homo Antecessor to 900,000 BP

The caves of the Sierra de Atapuerca contain a rich fossil record of the earliest hominins in Europe starting nearly one million years ago. They represent an exceptional reserve of data, the scientific study of which provides priceless information about the appearance and the way of life of these remote human ancestors. (Past Horizons)

Spanish, Egyptian Archaeologists Make Discovery That Changes Chronology of the Pharaohs

A team of Spanish and Egyptian archaeologists made a find in a southern Egyptian tomb that opens the way to a reinterpretation of Pharaonic chronology, since it could show that Amenhotep III and his son Amenhotep IV reigned together. The team, headed by Spaniard Francisco Martin Valentin and funded by Spain’s Gaselec foundation, excavated the remains of a wall and columns of the mausoleum of a minister of the 18th Pharaonic dynasty – 1569-1315 B.C. – in the province of Luxor. (Latino Daily News)

Achaemenid Inscription Found in Iran’s Perspolis

The inscription was unearthed at the Palace of Xerxes King (Khashayar Shah) reigned around 520 BCE. A team of experts is trying to attach the pieces together to decipher the text of inscription, said the team leader Professor Gian Pietro Basello of the University of Naples, Italy. Basello is a specialist in historical philology of Iranian languages of the “L’Orientale.” (Fars News)

Remains of building may be part of ancient queen’s palace

New excavations at the Makimuku archaeological dig here have unearthed the remains of a building that further indicate the palace of the shaman queen Himiko was located on the site in the earliest days of Japan, municipal education board officials said Feb. 6. (The Asahi Shimbun)