Sunday, 20 August 2017

Stone Age 'Lunch Box' found

Over the past 100 years glaciers and ice fields of the European Alps have lost half their volume to global warming, and their continued retreat, like that of glaciers everywhere, is accelerating. By 2100 many scientists predict they will have all but disappeared. As glaciers recede, they are releasing human artifacts that they have absorbed through the ages, including humans themselves. Ötzi the iceman, the five-thousand-year-old mummified mountaineer discovered in 1991, being the most amazing.

An object four thousand years old was found in 2012: a circular box, several inches wide, made of willow and pine and sewn together with twigs. The recovery of a wooden artifact so old and well preserved is remarkable. Even more remarkable was it's contents, a blob found to be “some sort of wheat”.

As far back as seven thousand years ago, people who lived in the lower valleys brought their goats and sheep to graze in high-elevation fields for days or weeks at a time. The wooden containers held several days’ worth of meals.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Ancient infant ape skull - Redux

The complete cranium of a Miocene ape from Africa has been found. It lived before the human lineage split off from the common ancestors we share with chimpanzees some 7 million years ago.

Scientists in Kenya found the prize: an almost perfectly preserved skull roughly the size of a baseball from an infant. The remarkably complete skull was discovered in the Turkana Basin of northern Kenya 3 years ago.
Researchers measured argon isotopes—which decay at a fixed, predictable rate—within the fossil’s rock layer, revealing that it was about 13 million years old.

3D animation of the Alesi skull computed from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) microtomographic data. It shows the skull in solid 3D rendering
X-rays fired at the skull turned up such high-res images of its teeth that the infant's age could be determined to within a matter of months. But the scientists were most excited about its ears. The inner ear structure suggests that it would not have had the balance to perform treetop aerial antics.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Drinking water in ancient Pompeii likely hazardous

The Romans were famous for their advanced engineering related to water supply. But the drinking water in the pipelines was probably poisoned on a scale that may have led to daily problems with vomiting, diarrhea, and liver and kidney damage. This according to an analysis of water pipe from Pompeii. Results suggest the pipes contained high levels of the toxic chemical element antimony.
Lead often takes the blame for the fall of the Roman Empire. Lead water pipes, lead cooking vessels, and lead utensils poisoned unwitting Romans, at least that was the theory. The fragment of an ancient lead pipe from Pompeii was loaded with antimony, a chemical that’s even more toxic than lead. The inside of lead pipes calcify quickly, forming a barrier between the poisonous lead and the drinking water flowing through the pipe. Antimony might have been the real culprit. A grey metal-like chemical used in making lead batteries, electronics, and other products, antimony is especially common in groundwater near volcanoes. Thus more samples from other locations is required for proof.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Chilesaurus; 'Most bizarre dinosaur ever found'

A vegetarian dinosaur with the silhouette of a flesh-ripping velociraptor, whose fossilized remains were unearthed in southern Chile 13 years ago, is a missing link in dinosaur evolution, say researchers. An inverted, bird-like hip structure and flattened, leaf-shaped teeth prove an exclusively vegetal diet, not a meat eating one. Chilesaurus is more closely related to a group including Triceratops and the three-tonne Stegosaurus.

The first dinosaur emerged some 228m years ago. The new findings support the idea that Chilesaurus is the 'missing link' between the T-Rex Family and Herbivores. Theropods and ornithischians may have shared a common ancestor as early as 225m years ago.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Roman artifacts recovered from shipwreck at the ancient port of Caesarea

Ancient artifacts have been recovered from a Roman merchant ship that sank off the port of Caesarea 1,600 years ago.

Figurine of the moon goddess Luna
The objects include thousands of coins and rare bronze statues, which were likely destined for an ancient Roman recycling depot. The artifacts include a bronze lamp depicting the image of the sun god Sol, a figurine of the moon goddess Luna, a lamp in the image of the head of an African slave and fragments of three life-size bronze cast statues.

Bronze lamp depicting the image of the sun god Sol
The range of finds recovered from the sea reflects the large volume of trade and the status of Caesarea’s harbour during the late Roman period, which was known as a period of economic and commercial stability.
The largest cache of gold coins ever found in Israel was discovered by chance by divers at Caesarea in early 2015. The treasure included at least 2,000 gold coins from the Fatimid period, approximately 1,000 years ago.
Most of the coins belong to the Caliph Al-Hakim, who ruled from 996 to 1021, and to his son, Al-Zahir (1021–1036), and were minted in Egypt and North Africa. The earliest coin in the cache is a quarter-dinar minted in Palermo, Sicily in the second half of the 9th century.

The latest coin dates to 1036, so it can be concluded that the ship sank around that year, although until excavations are carried out around the spot where the cache was found, the date is difficult to determine.

Caesarea was a harbor city founded by King Herod the Great about 2,000 years ago.

At the time the coins were minted, the city was a bustling, prosperous port that played an important role in the Fatimid's trading network.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Ancient Helmets


Flattened copper helmet and skull found in the Royal Tomb at Ur
The most vulnerable part of the soldier in battle was his head, so the search for protection by some form of helmet goes back to the earliest times.

Helmets were purpose-built to protect the wearer against the specific weapons he faced. At first, ancient helmets seem to have been pointed at the top, to deflect the downward force. When the ax became popular as a weapon, the shape of the helmet was modified to counter the cutting edge of a downward-falling blade.

The Crosby Garrett Helmet is a copper alloy Roman cavalry helmet dating from the late 2nd or early 3rd century AD. It was found near Crosby Garrett in Cumbria, England

Bronze Helmet from Ancient Greece, around 460 BC

Roman horseman's helmet, found in the Peel district, The Netherlands
This 2,600-year-old bronze helmet was discovered in the waters of Haifa Bay, Israel in 2012. When it was made Greek colonies dotted the Mediterranean coast, stretching from the Black Sea to southern France.

This warrior was likely one of Egyptian pharaoh Necho II's troops, which he sent through Israel accompanied by a fleet of ancient ships. The pharaoh was involved in military campaigns in the region for nearly a decade, operations in which this warrior and his group likely were involved.
Ancient Greek helmets from the Archaic period (800 BC – 480 BCE). A Corinthian-type, found in Leivadia. The second is a Illyrian-type helmet from Leivadia. The third is from Agia Paraskevi near Kozani. All are made of bronze.

The Helmet of Agighiol is a Geto-Dacian silver helmet dating from the 5th century BC.

Sutton Hoo helmet reconstructed

The Golden Helmet of Coţofeneşti

Gladiator helmet from Pompei

Greek Spartan Crest Helmet

Spanish morion (helmet)


Helmet covered in heavy gold florets with spike top, visor front. Chou Dynasty, Emperor Wu Wang tomb complex at Laoyang, circa 1020 BC.

Helmet of a Yuan Dynasty officer

Japanese helmet, circa 1590–1640.

Chinese chichak-style helmet, Ming Dynasty

Helmet from 7th century Viking boat grave
A common myth about the Vikings was that they wore horned helmets in battle. Archaeologists have found no proof to say that their helmets had horns. The reason their helmets didn't have horns was because they would have gotten in the way in battles and may have ended up injuring the wearer.

Real Viking helmets had protective metal down and around the ears and some helmets found in burial mounts had a metal mask in front.

German helmet by famous armorsmith Jörg Seusenhofer ca. 1540