ORIGINAL ARTICLE BY JENNIFER WALSH AT LIVESCIENCE.COM
The axes may have been traded between human groups and would have served as a social cue to others, Mimi Lam, a researcher from the University of British Columbia, suggested in her talk at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting here on Feb. 18.
“The Acheulean hand ax was standardized and shaped, became exchanged in social networks and took on a symbolic meaning,” Lam said. “My suggestion was that hand axes were the first commodity: A marketable good or service that has value and is used as an item for exchange.”
“Humans are unique in their use of tools,” Lam said. “We make stone tools and the stones are durable and become part of our external environment.” These tools, she added, could have been passed down in family groups or traded with other ancient hominids.
As humans became more intelligent, their tools become more symmetrical. “They became standardized as a result of social norms and also utility. Eventually, over time, hand axes were made special to set them apart,” Lam said. “There was a trend to distinguish these common tools that had a standard shape.”
Examples of hand axes from about 250,000 to 700,000 years ago contain some of these special properties, such as being made of pink rock or rock embedded with fossils. Ancient humans also made large axes that stood out from the crowd.
CONTINUE READING AT LIVESCIENCE.COM …
Hill in Wiltshire school grounds nicknamed Silbury’s little sister revealed as important neolithic monument
For generations, it has been scrambled up with pride by students at Marlborough College. But the mysterious, pudding-shaped mound in the grounds of the Wiltshire public school now looks set to gain far wider acclaim as scientists have revealed it is a prehistoric monument of international importance.
After thorough excavations, the Marlborough mound is now thought to be around 4,400 years old, making it roughly contemporary with the nearby, and far more renowned, Silbury Hill.
The new evidence was described by one archeologist, an expert on ancient ritual sites in the area, as “an astonishing discovery”. Both neolithic structures are likely to have been constructed over many generations.
The Marlborough mound had been thought to date back to Norman times. It was believed to be the base of a castle built 50 years after the Norman invasion and later landscaped as a 17th-century garden feature. But it has now been dated to around 2400BC from four samples of charcoal taken from the core of the 19 metre-high hill.
The samples prove it was built at a time when British tribes were combining labour on ritual monuments in the chalk downlands of Wiltshire, including Stonehenge and the huge ditches and stone circle of Avebury.
History students at the college will now have the chance to study an extraordinary example just a stone’s throw from their classroom windows. Malborough’s Master Nicholas Sampson said: “We are thrilled at this discovery, which confirms the long and dramatic history of this beautiful site and offers opportunity for tremendous educational enrichment.”
READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE AT GLASGOW LOCAL NEWS
Husband and wife team Duncan and Linda Lunan have formed a new organisation, Friends of the Sighthill Stone Circle, to promote and further plans to renovate and complete the astronomically aligned stone circle in Sighthill Park, Glasgow, the first of its kind in the UK for 3000 years.
The Sighthill circle was designed by Duncan and erected by the Glasgow Parks Department Astronomy Project, as part of the Jobs Creation/Special Temporary Employment Programme, 1978-79. It was dedicated to four prominent experts in the field of ancient astronomy, all with close connections to Glasgow. Following the change of government in 1979 the circle was never completed, and it has never become the local and visitor attraction which was intended. Four unused stones lie on the site to this day, the stones are partly buried following incorrect landscaping in 1982, and there is nothing to tell visitors who put them up, to whom they’re dedicated or how the circle works.
Following a public lecture and mass visit to the circle at the summer solstice in 2010, the existing paths around the circle have been cleared by Land and Environment Services. The aim now is to erect the final stones, install a plaque to explain the circle’s origins and function, restore the stones to full height and provide better footpath access. This will highlight its links to the past and the future of the area and to other astronomical attractions in the city and beyond.
Duncan and Linda invite those interested in progressing this work to contact them at: Friends of the Sighthill Stone Circle, www.sighthillstonecircle.net or tel: 0141 221 7658 or to attend the next meeting in the Ogilvie Centre, 25 Rose Street, Glasgow G3 6RE on Wednesday 22 June 2011 at 7.30pm. This will be followed by a visit to the Stone Circle in time to see the sunset there and get an understanding of how the circle works.
READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE AT GLASGOW LOCAL NEWS
FULL ARTICLE AT PRESS & JOURNAL
STAFF at Aberdeenshire’s troubled prehistory park will lose their jobs today – but talks will be held later this week to try to rescue the tourist attraction.
The last four workers at the Archaeolink centre were to have been made redundant at the start of this month – the day it should have opened for the new visitor season.
But they were kept on for a further fortnight as discussions continued between the Archaeolink Trust and a potential investor.
Last night, Mid Formartine councillor John Loveday, who sits on the board of trustees, said: “I am still hopeful that Archaeolink can be saved.
“I did say things were going right down to the wire last week but it isn’t over yet.”
Mr Loveday said the trust remained determined to do everything it could to preserve the prehistory park at Oyne, and staff had made every effort to help achieve that.
But he added: “The situation now is that the talks that have been continuing over these past weeks have hit a complication.
“Unfortunately, we just cannot hold on to the staff any longer for financial reasons. We simply would not have enough cash remaining now to meet bills coming in and to meet the redundancy terms.
“They will get the package agreed but it does mean the staff redundancies will have to take effect.”
It is understood that discussions with the one remaining party to have shown an interest in taking over the site broke down because of a legal issue involving the terms of the deed of trust agreement.
READ FULL ARTICLE AT PRESS & JOURNAL
More than a dozen skeletons thought to be thousands of years old, have been found by Oxford archaeologists working at an ancient burial site in Dorset.
Excavations are taking place at the site in Weymouth before builders move in to build an access road to the Olympic sailing centre for 2012.
Archaeologist David Score said they had catalogued finds from almost every period of human life.
He said it “really added to knowledge of the Bronze and Neolithic eras”.
“Building the relief road has given archaeologists an excuse to excavate and record finds dating back thousands of years,” Mr Score said.
“I think it is very important because it’s not very often that you get the opportunity to excavate an area of this size, in a location of such importance with so many burials from a wide span of time.
“I think once we have done all the analysis it really will contribute quite a lot to the corpus of knowledge that we’ve got about the Bronze Age and Neolithic periods in this area.
“We found more than a dozen skeletons they’re in various states of preservation. Some are fairly poorly preserved, but the later ones, particularly the Roman ones are fairly well preserved.”
All the finds are being taken back to Oxford where they are being catalogued.
Scientists will also look for small fish bones or charred plant remains to try and find out more about ancient eating habits.
The items will eventually be returned to Dorset where they will be put on display in a museum.
A collection of rare Bronze Age axe heads discovered in Cornwall has gone on display in Truro after a campaign to keep the relics in the county.
The 3,000-year-old artifacts were found in perfect condition, buried in a clay pot at Mylor near Falmouth during a search using metal detectors.
The collection would have gone to the British Museum but the Royal Cornwall Museum raised about £10,000 to keep it.
The find is believed to be the biggest of its type in Cornwall.
Conservator Laura Ratcliffe said: “All finds like this would normally go to the British Museum, but they were so special we wanted to keep them for Cornwall.
“To get such a large collection in one place is pretty unusual.
“It’s the biggest hoard to come out of Cornwall by a long shot.”
The axe heads, all found in pristine condition, are thought to have been buried on purpose thousands of years ago.
Ms Ratcliffe said: “It could have been for security purposes or ritual, we just don’t know.”
The following is an article from the Irish Times by Charles Taylor
“THE HILL of Tara is among a number of locations which have been nominated for inclusion on a list of possible Unesco world heritage sites.
Campaigners against the route of the M3 motorway in Co Meath have joined heritage groups in submitting proposals to an advisory group, set up by Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley, to review the list of Irish sites.
The existing tentative nomination list for world heritage sites dates back to 1992 and includes Killarney National Park, the Burren and Clonmacnoise. Deadlines for submissions for inclusion on the revised list closed yesterday.
Tarawatch and the Campaign to Save Tara group have claimed that the Hill of Tara complex qualifies for world heritage status as a natural and cultural landscape of outstanding universal value, due to its unique cultural significance and the extent of the surviving remains. Campaigners believe that if the site is shortlisted as a heritage site, then changes would have to be made to the route of the controversial motorway, which runs close to the hill.
“We’d love it if the whole area was chosen to be a world heritage site, but because of the destruction that has been caused by the work on the M3, there is a worry that it might be refused,” Dr Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, of the Campaign to Save Tara group, said.
Mr Gormley has said previously that he supported the plan to have the Hill of Tara considered as a world heritage site as a means of preventing future development in the vicinity of the site.
World heritage sites include the Alhambra in Spain, the Taj Mahal in India and the Acropolis in Greece.”
Anyone interested in the history of Silbury Hill and what has been going on more recently should have a look at the NEWSLETTER OF THE ENGLISH HERITAGE RESEARCH GROUP.
Christopher Scull, research director says:
“In Issue 10 of Research News we concentrate on the multidisciplinary project carried out at Silbury Hill in order to save the largest prehistoric monument in Europe from collapse.
Silbury Hill has been dug into from the 18th century, if not before. In 1776 a shaft was sunk from the top of the hill by Colonel Drax, and in 1849 Dean Merewether excavated a lateral tunnel to the centre of the mound. The Merewether tunnel was re-excavated by Professor Richard Atkinson in 1968 for the famous BBC2 archaeological television programme Chronicle.
In late May 2000 a hole appeared in the top of the hill as the 18th-century shaft, which had been capped but not backfilled, opened up. A further collapse in December showed that there were other voids in the hill. Seismic survey and remote photography confirmed the problem and it was decided that the best course was to re-enter the hill, clear the tunnels and voids, and backfill them fully in order to stabilise the monument. Integral to this was a full programme of archaeological investigation and recording which would be the last time that archaeologists would gain access to the interior of Silbury Hill.
The archaeological programme inside Silbury Hill took a full year and deployed novel uses of photogrammetry and geophysical techniques as well as conventional methods of recording and sampling. The archaeological work was undertaken in tandem with the clearing and stabilisation of the tunnels and neither objective could have been achieved without seamless working between archaeologists and engineers. Working conditions inside the hill were challenging, but the new archaeological information gained is transforming our understanding of the monument and its contexts.
It now appears that Silbury Hill was not raised in three clear phases, as had been thought. Instead, the evidence suggests a much more complex sequence of development. In its earlier phases the monument may have been important as an enclosure, and it seems that the mound itself was raised incrementally, being altered and added to over time with several episodes of remodelling apparent. New radiocarbon dating places the earliest phases of the mound around 2,400 BC, and the environmental data recovered promise important insights into the history of environment and landscape. Geophysical survey has revealed an extensive Roman settlement around the monument, and the original summit appears to have been reduced and flattened in the early Middle Ages to take a building or palisade.”
“The Monkswood hoard was found in the St Catherine’s valley near Bath during the construction of a reservoir in the 1930s. It contains 38 pieces of Bronze age metalwork. This talk by Stephen Clews, Manager of the Roman Baths & Pump Room, looks at the objects in the hoard from the perspective of what they can tell us about people and society in the area around Bath nearly 3,000 years ago.”
Stephen Clews, of the Roman Baths and Pump Room, said: “Two of the hoards have been found very recently whilst one was found in the 20th Century.
“They range in date from the late Bronze Age to the medieval period and each of these talks, arranged by Bath and North East Somerset Council, has a very different story to tell, reflecting changing times and circumstances over more than 2,500 years.”
The Roman hoard discovered near Thornbury included 11,460 small coins from the Constantine period, known as nummi.
The Monkswood hoard contains 38 pieces of bronze age metalwork and was discovered during the construction of a reservoir.
The Guildhall, Bath
Tuesday 17 February 2009, 1.10- 1.45pm
Refreshments on sale from 12.45pm
LECTURE: The Invisible Stone Circle: To See or Not to See
2:30 pm, Saturday, 21 March, 2009 at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum
A lecture by renowned archaeologist Aubrey Burl.
There are hundreds of stone circles in the British Isles. Every year hundreds of thousands of people visit them. Sometimes there is a sign, usually uninformative, occasionally inaccurate. There may be stones in a ring, tall stones, small stones, fallen stones – but nothing else. Just silence.
Yet, it is untrue. The stones tell their own story, unshaped but intentionally chosen to record the beliefs of the people who erected them. The stones are the literature distant, illiterate people left for us to read. One stone circle shows how it can be read ……
A member of the Society, Aubrey Burl was at one time Britain’s best selling archaeological author. His books on Stone Circles have been published and reprinted in many editions (with slight variations of title), and he is well known for challenging the theory that the bluestones were brought to Stonehenge from Preseli by man and has written extensively too on Avebury. For many years as principal lecturer in archaeology at Hull, he now works as an archaeological consultant and writer. He was quite particular about the choice of date for his lecture ……
Recommended. Contact the Bookings Secretary on 01380 727369, or click here to send an e-mail.
Cost: £4.00 (£3.00 for WANHS members)