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Archive for September, 2013

A PRE-HISTORIC elephant has revealed clues of what life was like for early humans and how it met its end.

Wessex Tours

University of Southampton lecturer and archaeologist Dr Francis Wenban-Smith discovered remains and has spent the last ten years studying the creature.

Now he has published a book that will teach other archaeologists about life for people that existed thousands of years before Neanderthals.

The extinct straight-tusked elephant was found in Ebbsfleet in Kent, below, while construction workers were preparing the build the High Speed 1 rail link between the Channel Tunnel and London.

The species was twice the size of today’s African elephant and almost four times the weight of a family car.

The 420,000-year-old remains were buried along with other creatures, including prehistoric ancestors to cattle and extinct forms of rhinoceros and lions.

It was also found surrounded by flint tools used to cut meat from carcasses, which have lead Dr Wenban-Smith to believe early humans may have eaten and possibly hunted the creature in a group.

Dr Wenban-Smith, pictured below, said: “The key evidence for elephant hunting is that, of the few prehistoric butchered elephant carcasses that have been found across Europe, they are almost all large males in their prime, a pattern that does not suggest natural death and scavenging.

“Although it seems incredible that they could have killed such an animal, it must have been possible with wooden spears.

“Rich fossilised remains surrounding the elephant skeleton, including pollen, snails and a wide variety of vertebrates, provide a remarkable record of the climate and environment the early humans inhabited.

Full article in the Salisbury Journal: http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/archive/2013/09/22/10690698.Prehistoric_giant_elephant_unlocks_mysteries_of_ancient_hunters/
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Stonehenge News and Information

Despite being one of the world’s most valued heritage sites Stonehenge has never been treated with the respect that it deserves. A new visitor centre will change the way we view this national treasure.

Pondering the enigma of the imposing stone circle that stands on Salisbury Plain early in the 17th century King James I commissioned his architect general, Inigo Jones, to prepare a report on the stones’ condition and their origins. Jones concluded that only the Romans could have built such a sophisticated structure, backing up his case with crisp drawings of the stones in a pre-ruinous state, while dismissing the ancient Britons as savages incapable of building such ‘stately structures’.

Four hundred years later much the same questions are still being asked about Stonehenge. Who built it? What was it for? But in more recent years the focus has been how best to preserve the stones…

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Appeal to keep 2,000 year-old torc in Britain

The Heritage Trust

 

Natalie McCaul, Curator of Archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum, with the gold torc (right) that the Museum is hoping to buy and reunite with one found metres from it at Towton (left) already in the Museum’s collection

Dan Bean, writing in The Press yesterday, reports that –

GOLD jewellery thought to be 2,000-years-old could leave North Yorkshire, if essential funds can not be raised. The gold torcs, or bracelets, are currently on show at the Yorkshire Museum, and are the first items of Iron Age gold jewellery ever found in the north of England. Both pieces were discovered in Towton, near Tadcaster, by metal detectorists in 2010 and 2011, and are believed to have belonged to an extremely wealthy member of the Brigantes tribe, which ruled most of North Yorkshire at the time.
 
The first torc was bought by the museum in January 2012 for £25,000 raised through a public…

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The Heritage Trust

 
Murals by pre-Raphaelite artists recently discovered at the Red House in south-east London
Image credit Linda Nylind
 
Writing in The Guardian last month Maev Kennedy reports that –
 
It began as an attempt to restore one blurry image that had been hidden for a century behind a large built-in wardrobe on William Morris’s bedroom wall. Months later, the painstaking removal of layers of paint and wallpaper revealed that an entire wall at the artist and craftsman’s first married home was painted by his young friends who would become world-famous pre-Raphaelite artists.
 
The near-lifesize figures on the wall at the Red House, now buried in south-east London suburbia at Bexleyheath, are now believed to represent the joint work of Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his wife Elizabeth Siddal, Ford Madox Brown and Morris.
 
Full article here.
 
 

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Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper

car park panorama small

If you visit Stonehenge now – as huge numbers did in August – you’ll really see signs that things are changing. Work continues in the car park to prepare a turning circle at the end of what will be the stub of the old A344. The road itself as it once continued eastwards to Stonehenge Bottom has now all but gone, exposing the chalk below. Wessex Archaeology has been monitoring it, and has excavated parts of the two parallel Avenue ditches, and a small part of what looks like the lip of the Heelstone ditch, as Ollie Good kindly showed me.

My interest in this was naturally strengthened by my excavations immediately beside the road there in 1979 and 1980. We had several advantages over the modern archaeologists.

The team were almost all volunteers, archaeology students and staff from Southampton University, so brought considerable skill, but at no cost to…

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Stonehenge News and Information

  • Skull is  believed to be of a middle aged woman living in 3,300 BC
  • Unbroken  skull found on the banks of the River Avon in Worcestershire
  • Carbon  dating technology places the piece between 3,338BC and 3,035  BC
  • The  ‘exceptional’ find suggests there is an undiscovered burial site  nearby

A 5,000-year-old human skull in ‘fabulous’  condition has been discovered on the banks of a river in Worcershire by a walker  who thought it was a coconut.

Experts said the piece of ancient skull is an  ‘exceptional find’ as the intricate marks  from blood vessels are still visible on the inner surface.

The smooth dark outer side gives only a  tantalising glimpse as to what the person may have looked like, although there  are ‘tentative’ suggestions it may have belonged to a woman in middle age living  in the Neolithic period – around the time Stonehenge was built.

The skull is not…

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