Archaeology News for the Week of October 6th, 2013

October 6th, 2013

Human brain boiled in its skull lasted 4000 years

SHAKEN, scorched and boiled in its own juices, this 4000-year-old human brain has been through a lot. It may look like nothing more than a bit of burnt log, but it is one of the oldest brains ever found. Its discovery, and the story now being pieced together of its owner’s last hours, offers the tantalising prospect that archaeological remains could harbour more ancient brain specimens than thought. If that’s the case, it potentially opens the way to studying the health of the brain in prehistoric times. (New Scientist)

London Dig Uncovers Roman-Era Skulls

Tunnelers expanding London’s Underground (Tube) stations have stumbled on a cache of more than two dozen Roman-era skulls. The skulls likely date from the first century A.D. and may possibly—just possibly—be victims of the famed Queen Boudicca’s troops, decapitated during her uprising against Roman rule in 61 A.D. The intriguing find was made some 20 feet below Liverpool Street as workers bored through ancient river sediments from the long-vanished Walbrook River, once a tributary of the Thames. (National Geographic)

Rats! Diet of Easter Islanders Revealed

The inhabitants of Easter Island consumed a diet that was lacking in seafood and was, literally, quite ratty. The island, also called Rapa Nui, first settled around A.D. 1200, is famous for its more than 1,000 “walking” Moai statues, most of which originally faced inland. Located in the South Pacific, Rapa Nui is the most isolated inhabited landmass on Earth; the closest inhabitants are located on the Pitcairn Islands about 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) to the west. (Live Science)

Long-Hidden Sites Discovered in the Southwest May Change Views of Ancient Migrations

A type of site never before described by archaeologists is shedding new light on the prehistory of the American Southwest and may change conventional thinking about the ancient migrations that shaped the region. The sites, discovered in the southern mountains of Arizona and New Mexico, are remote Apache encampments with some often “disguised” features that have eluded archaeologists for centuries. (

Archaeologists unearth Sweden’s own Pompeii: Hundreds died in ‘brutal massacre’ at island fort 1,500 years ago

Swedish archeologists have uncovered the remains of a brutal fifth century massacre at a remote island fort, described as being ‘frozen in time’ like the ruins of the Roman city of Pompeii. Bodies of victims slaughtered in the violence on the island of Öland, just off the Swedish coast, have remained untouched for centuries, and were found to resemble a modern day crime scene. (

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Arizona

Nearly 50 miles or so southeast of Phoenix, Arizona stands Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, built by the mysterious Hohokam civilization in the early 1300s. Archaeologists suggest that the “Great House” was an observatory of sorts, noting that the small round window on the west wall aligns perfectly with the setting sun on the annual summer solstice (June 21). Other openings line up with the sun and moon at significant dates throughout the year. (InfoLific)

Gamers take aim at ancient Pictish stone puzzle

ONLINE gaming fans are to be recruited by Scotland’s national museum to harness their technical skills to help piece together more than 3,000 recently discovered fragments depicting the Cross on a Pictish slab. The project, the first of its kind in the archaeological world, will see participants use a unique 3D programme developed by a Scottish technology firm to try to solve the mystery of the Hilton of Cadboll Stone. (The Scotsman)