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Archaeological Headlines By JESSICA E. SARACENI
Thursday, October 16

Prehistoric Camps Found in the High Tetons

JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING—Matt Stirn and Rebecca Sgouros of the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum have found 30 previously unrecorded camps on the west slope of the Teton Range. They think families may have spent the summer, and perhaps the spring and fall, on the mountain, beginning as early as 11,000 years ago. They found stone points, tools, soapstone fragments, and one complete soapstone bowl—its lip was visible above the ground surface. Biomolecular testing may reveal how old the bowl is and what it was used for. “What we consider steep and difficult terrain probably was nothing for them. It would be interesting to ask: Did the severity of the topography on the Jackson side of the Tetons cause problems? Or maybe not. Both answers would be interesting,” Stirn told The Jackson Hole News & Guide. Further research will explore the east side of the Tetons and melting ice patches that may hold preserved artifacts. Stirn and Sgouros will also work with the U.S. Forest Service to develop a protection and preservation plan for the newly discovered archaeological sites. To read about Stirn's previous high altitude discoveries, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "Villages in Wyoming Challenge Migration Map."

Persephone Revealed in Amphipolis Mosaic

AMPHIPOLIS, GREECE—The Greek Ministry of Culture has released additional images that show the completely uncovered mosaic floor in the Macedonian tomb at Amphipolis. Persephone can now be seen riding in the chariot, wearing a white robe fastened with a red ribbon, as she is abducted and taken to the underworld by Hades. The Greek Reporter states that protective layers have been placed over the mosaic as archaeologists continue with their work. To read about the rescue of ancient mosaic floors in Turkey, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "Mosaic Masters."

MRI Shows ‘Princess Ukok’ Suffered From Breast Cancer

NOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA—MRI scans of ‘Princess Ukok,’ the mummified remains of a Pazyryk woman who was buried in the permafrost of the Altai Mountains 2,500 years ago, show that she suffered from breast cancer. It had been thought that her fractured skull and dislocated joints, perhaps from a fall from a horse, had been the cause of her death. “During the imaging of the mammary glands, we paid attention to their asymmetric structure and the varying asymmetry of the MR signal. We are dealing with a primary tumor in the right breast and right axial lymph nodes with metastases,” Andrey Letyagin of the Russian Academy of Medical Science told The Siberian Times. Letyagin and his colleague Andrey Savelov think that in her weakened state, the princess may have fallen from her horse while traveling to winter camp. To read about body decoration on other Pazyryk mummies, see ARCHAEOLOGY's special package "Ancient Tattoos."

Wednesday, October 15

Glass Produced in Sweden Earlier Than Previously Thought

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN—Anna Ihr of the University of Gothenburg has researched how vitrified artifacts from archaeological sites can be interpreted. She analyzed pieces of primary glass remains found in a cracked crucible at Old Lödöse, a medieval trade center located along Sweden’s Gota Älve River. “The dating of my finds shows that glass was produced in Old Lödöse prior to 1260. That’s 300 years earlier than the previously oldest known written sources, which are from 1556. This means that Sweden’s history of glass production now has to be revised,” Ihr told Innovations Report. Ihr also studied the glassy slag that was unintentionally produced in ceramic kilns at the ancient city of Qalhat in Oman. Her analysis showed that the kilns were fueled with dried fish, which fused with ashes and minerals in sand. “The use of dried fish was a conscious choice, though,” she said.

Prehistoric Barbeque, Oven Uncovered in Cyprus

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND—An ash-filled pit lined with rocks that may have been used as a barbeque in prehistory has been excavated at the Prastio-Mesorotsos site in western Cyprus. “If this feature was for roasting food, this pit-roast technique would have served the needs of a great number of people, possibly bands of hunters exploiting the upland resources,” read a statement from the Cyprus department of antiquities, reported in the Cyprus Mail. The excavation team, led by Andrew McCarthy of the University of Edinburgh, also uncovered a domed structure that may have been used as an oven for baking bread and roasting meat. To read about cooking and experimental archaeology, see "How to Cook Like a Mycenaean." 

Cult Complex Found at Israel’s Tel Burna

ISTANBUL, TURKEY—Archaeologists working at Israel’s site of Tel Burna described their discovery of a 3,300-year-old cult complex at the annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists in Istanbul. Artifacts from the complex include three connected cups, thought to have been imported from Cyprus; a cylinder-shaped seal; a scarab bearing Egyptian hieroglyphs; fragments of two masks that may have been used in processions; and massive pithoi that may have held goods paid in tithes or stored food for ritual feasts. “From the finds within the building, we can reconstruct the occurrence of feasts, indicated by several goblets and a large amount of animal bones. Some of these animal bones are burnt, probably indicating their use in some sacrificial activity,” Itzhaq Shai of Ariel University told Live Science. The analysis of residues from the cups and the pithoi could offer more information on their use. Shai thinks the complex may have been devoted to the worship of Baal, the Canaanite storm god, or perhaps the war goddess Anat. To read about a 5,000-year-old sanctuary in Syria, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "Temple of the Storm God."

Sicily’s Selinunte Had a Large Industrial Quarter

BONN, GERMANY—An industrial area with 80 kilns has been found at the Greek site of Selinunte on the southwest coast of Sicily. “The largest one is 17 feet in diameter, making it the biggest kiln ever found in a Greek city,” Martin Bentz of the University of Bonn told Discovery News. Although located within Selinunte’s city walls, the industrial quarter, which dates to 550 B.C., was separated from inhabited areas to keep residents from the fire danger, smell, and noise. It had a central courtyard where products such as roof tiles and vases were dried before firing, two large working and firing areas, and a shop. “The whole construction is more than 3,900 square feet, by far the largest workshop we know in the Greek world,” Bentz said. To read about a recently discovered Phoencian ship that was engaged in trade with Sicily, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "Phoenician Artifacts Recovered Off Coast of Malta."

Tuesday, October 14

Did Neanderthals Hunt With Projectiles?

NORMANDY, FRANCE—Arm bones that may have belonged to a Neanderthal 200,000 years ago have been recovered from silts close to the River Seine in Tourville-la-Rivière. “These are the oldest fossils found near Paris; it’s the oldest Parisian, if you like,” Bruno Maureille of the Université de Bordeaux told BBC News. The robustness of the humerus, ulna, and radius suggests that they are from a juvenile or young adult Neanderthal, but without other fossils, it is impossible to make a positive identification. A ridge on the upper-arm bone indicates that the individual might have been hurt by repeatedly throwing something. “There has been a widespread view that Neanderthals and earlier humans were reliant on thrusting spears, used for dangerous close-range confrontational hunting, and that only modern humans perfected launched projectiles—that view could now be questioned,” commented Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum. To read about the role of throwing in human evolution, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "No Changeups on the Savannah."

Celtic Chariot Fittings Found at Iron Age Hill Fort

LEICESTER, ENGLAND—Chariot fittings decorated with a triskele motif of three wavy lines were uncovered by students from the University of Leicester at the Burrough Hill site. They found the matching set of fittings, which appear to have been placed in a box and surrounded by iron tools and other accoutrements, in a pit near a house. “The function of the iron tools is a bit of a mystery, but given the equestrian nature of the hoard, it is possible that they were associated with horse grooming. One piece in particular has characteristics of a modern curry comb, while two curved blades may have been used to maintain horses’ hooves or manufacture harness parts,” John Thomas, co-director of the project, told Culture 24. Cereal chaff had been placed underneath the box and then the box and the chaff were burned in what may have been a religious ritual. The deposit was then covered with a layer of burnt cinder and slag. “This is a very rare discovery, and a strong sign of the prestige of the site,” Jeremy Taylor, co-director of the project, explained. To read about a chariot burial contemporary to the Celtic find, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "Remains of Upright Horses Discovered in Thracian Tomb."

Viking Hoard Unearthed in Scotland

DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY, SCOTLAND—Metal detector enthusiast Derek McLennan found a hoard of more than 100 Viking artifacts on land owned by the Church of Scotland. County archaeologist Andrew Nicholson excavated the first level of the hoard, which contained an enameled silver Christian cross dating to the ninth or tenth century, dozens of silver arm rings, and ingots. “We were searching elsewhere when Derek initially thought he’d discovered a Viking gaming piece. A short time later he ran over to us waving a silver arm-ring and shouting ‘Viking’! It was tremendously exciting, especially when we noticed the silver cross lying face-downwards. It was poking out from under the pile of silver ingots and decorated arm rings, with a finely wound silver chain still attached to it. It was a heart-stopping moment when the local archaeologist turned it over to reveal rich decoration on the other side,” Rev. Dr. David Bartholomew recounted. A second cache of objects was found underneath the first. It included a silver Carolingian pot that was probably 100 years old when it was buried. “We still don’t know exactly what is in the pot, but I hope it could reveal who these artifacts belonged to, or at least where they came from,” McLennan said. To read about an infamous massacre carried out against Vikings in England, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "Vengeance on the Vikings." 

Mosaic Floor Discovered in Amphipolis Tomb

AMPHIPOLIS, GREECE—A late fourth-century B.C. floor mosaic depicting Hermes, the Greek god of travel and a guide to the underworld, and a chariot in motion, has been uncovered in what is thought to be the antechamber to the main burial at the Macedonian tomb in Amphipolis. “The chariot is pulled by two white horses and driven by a bearded man wearing a laurel wreath on his head,” Greece’s Ministry of Culture announced in a press release reported by Discovery News. Part of the center mosaic, which is made up of white, black, gray, blue, red, and yellow pebbles, is missing, but enough fragments remain to reconstruct a large part of it. The image is framed by a wide border with a double meander, squares, and spiral shapes. To read more about Hellenistic mosaics, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "Zeugma After the Flood."