Archaeology News for the Week of November 17th, 2013

November 17th, 2013

In Florida, a spring cleanup yields cornucopia of history

To the untrained eye, many of the hundreds of artifacts pulled in recent months from a Florida spring in the Chassahowitzka River look like stuff nobody wanted to buy at a yard sale: old bottles, an antler, broken pieces of a plate, a toy cap gun, a bowl, a fishhook, pins. But to archaeologist Michael Arbuthnot, who oversaw a five-month project that pulled hundreds of such items from a 2 1/2-acre field of muck as deep as 25 feet below the surface of the spring, they are much more. “We found an amazing array of artifacts that basically represent every period of human occupation in Florida,” he told CNN in a telephone interview. (CNN News)

Cave women unearth skull of unknown human ancestor

An all-woman team of spelunking scientists has retrieved hundreds of fossils from a 100-foot-deep (30-meter-deep) cave in South Africa — including the cranium from what appears to be a prehistoric humanlike creature. Friday’s retrieval of the skull was a climactic moment for the three-week expedition to the Rising Star Cave in South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, just 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Johannesburg. (NBCNews)

DNA hint of European origin for dogs

The results of a DNA study suggest that dogs were domesticated in Europe. No-one doubts that “man’s best friend” is an evolutionary off-shoot of the grey wolf, but scientists have long argued over the precise timing and location for their emergence. The new research, based on a genetic analysis of ancient and modern dog and wolf samples, points to a European origin at least 18,000 years ago. (BBC News)

Archaeologists Find More Than 100 Mummified Dogs in Peru

The discovery of 137 mummified dogs in Peru, more than 1,000 years old, serves as a reminder that historically, a dog’s responsibilities to his owner didn’t always end when the owner died. Archaeologists found 62 complete bodies and 75 incomplete skeletons buried alongside human remains. Enrique Angulo, a veterinarian who’s looked over the remains, says that the dogs were of a wide range of ages and showed signs of a variety of different illnesses. (

Scientists disagree on age of Serpent Mound

Serpent Mound arguably is the most recognizable icon of ancient America. Therefore, you might be surprised to learn that much about this mound is arguable, including its age. Serpent Mound was long thought to be an Adena mound, dating to between 800 B.C. and A.D. 100, but opinions shifted in the 1990s when a team of archaeologists obtained radiocarbon dates on charcoal recovered from the mound. (The Columbus Dispatch)

Five pharaonic statue heads found in Egypt

A team of Egyptian and French archaeologists have found five heads of royal statues from the pharaonic era, officials from the antiquities ministry said on Saturday.“The heads, which had crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt and were made from limestone, were discovered” south of Luxor, Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said in a statement. The head of the department of pharaonic antiquities, Mohammed Abdel Maqsud, said the heads measured 50 centimetres (20 inches) across and are estimated to be around 4,000 years old.(Hurriyet Daily News)

Deformed, Pointy Skull from Dark Ages Unearthed in France

The skeleton of an ancient aristocratic woman whose head was warped into a deformed, pointy shape has been unearthed in a necropolis in France. The necropolis, found in the Alsace region of France, contains 38 tombs that span more than 4,000 years, from the Stone Age to the Dark Ages. (Live Science)