Archaeology News for the Week of June 2nd, 2013

June 6th, 2013

Bone Tumor Found in Neanderthal Rib

For the first time, a bone tumor has been found in a Neanderthal rib bone dated to about 120,000 years ago. The rib was recovered at a site near Krapina in present-day Croatia. The tumor, a form of cancer called fibrous dysplasia, predates previous evidence of such by more than 100,000 years. Prior to this, the earliest known bone cancers were detected in samples approximately 1,000-4,000 years old. Fibrous dysplasia in modern-day humans occurs more frequently than other bone tumors, but study author David Frayer of the University of Kansas says that the evidence for cancer almost never shows up in the human fossil record. This may be partly due to the fact that the fossil record accounts for a comparatively small sampling of human species or human ancestors. (Popular Archaeology)

Fossil Discovery Will Rewrite Primate and Human Evolutionary History, Say Scientists

An international research team has announced the discovery of the world’s oldest known fossil primate skeleton, an animal that lived about 55 million years ago during the Eocene Epoch in present-day China. Smaller than today’s smallest primate (the pygmy mouse lemur), Archicebus achilles, as they named it, was unearthed from an ancient lake bed in central China’s Hubei Province near the Yangtze River. (Popular Archaeology)

How Timbuktu’s manuscripts were smuggled to safety

When Islamist rebels set fire to two libraries in Timbuktu earlier this year, many feared the city’s treasure trove of ancient manuscripts had been destroyed. But many of the texts had already been removed from the buildings and were at that very moment being smuggled out of the city, under the rebels’ noses. (BBC News)

2nd-century wooden mask unearthed in Nara, oldest yet found

Once used to hide a face, a wooden mask fragment recently discovered here and currently on public display hints at ancient cultural links between this part of western Japan and China, archaeologists said May 30. (The Asashi Shimbun)

Roman Seawater Concrete Holds the Secret to Cutting Carbon Emissions

The chemical secrets of a concrete Roman breakwater that has spent the last 2,000 years submerged in the Mediterranean Sea have been uncovered by an international team of researchers led by Paulo Monteiro of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. (Science Daily)


June 4th, 2013

Earliest Archaeological Evidence of Winemaking in France Discovered

A team of researchers from France and the U.S. have uncovered evidence for the earliest winemaking industry in France, a country long well known for its preeminence in the production of fine wines. While investigating the ancient port site of Lattara in southern France, archaeologists uncovered imported ancient Etruscan amphorae and a limestone press platform. (Popular Archaeology)

Diet Change After 3.5 Million Years Ago a Gamechanger for Human Ancestors, Say Scientists

It has long been theorized by human evolutionists that the human diet, and how it may have changed over hundreds of thousands of years, was a central element in the successful emergence of modern humanity from the biological and behavioral backdrop of the animal world. Now, the results of a series of four newly completed studies by a team of two dozen researchers from several institutions have shed more light on the ‘what’ and ‘when’ of these changes. (Popular Archaeology)

Eight bronze age boats surface at Fens creek in record find

A fleet of eight prehistoric boats, including one almost nine metres long, has been discovered in a Cambridgeshire quarry on the outskirts of Peterborough. The vessels, all deliberately sunk more than 3,000 years ago, are the largest group of bronze age boats ever found in the same UK site and most are startlingly well preserved. (The Guardian)


The ivory carvings and plaques found at the 8th century BCE Phoenician city of Arslan Tash — “Stone Lion” — may appear as flat monochrome objects when viewed in museums today, but once they shone with brilliant blue, red and several other colours as well as glittering with real gold paint. (Past Horizons)

Gladiators of Aydın to appear on 3D screens

The Aydın Archeology Museum starts a new project to exhibit ancient gladiator mosaics on screens. Ancient mosaics and excavated blocks from the Orthosia ancient city, which include many gladiator patterns and shapes, have been portrayed onscreen with animations and detailed visuals (Hurriyet Daily News)

How to Really Eat Like a Hunter-Gatherer: Why the Paleo Diet Is Half-Baked

We are not biologically identical to our Paleolithic predecessors, nor do we have access to the foods they ate. And deducing dietary guidelines from modern foraging societies is difficult because they vary so much by geography, season and opportunity (Scientific American)