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

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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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You can get hands-on with history this summer with over 1,000 events nationwide bringing our archaeology to life during the 23rd Festival of Archaeology,13-28 July 2013.

“The Festival is a fantastic opportunity to get out, look at and do archaeology!” 

About the Festival of ArchaeologyThe Festival – coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology – is a great opportunity to discover your inner archaeologist and to meet the experts. Whether you are young or old, enthusiast or beginner, there will be something for everyone.

If you’ve always wanted to have a go at archaeology, handle real finds, try out calligraphy and potmaking or even shoot an arrow our hands-on events will give you a chance to experience the excitement of the past for yourself. We also have events where you can ask the experts about your own finds. You can even volunteer at a dig and see archaeology at work.

The events will kick off the summer holidays with excavation open days, behind-the-scenes tours and workshops, guided walks, talks and finds identifications, family fun days, and much more. Visit our EVENTS SEARCH to see what’’s on in your area!

If you enjoy the Festival why not check out Scottish Archaeology Month which takes place in September every year. More details can be found on Archaeology Scotland’s website here.

Mick Aston, Archaeologist

“Every time we walk through a street, across a field, down a country lane or hurtle along a motorway, the ghosts and fragments of the past are all around us. Archaeology is a brilliant way of understanding and appreciating this massively important connection.”

“The Festival of Archaeology gets us even closer and celebrates Britain’s incredibly rich archaeological inheritance. There are a whole series of events organised across the country for everyone from budding archaeologists, and historians to those who just want to have fun learning more about the world we live in.”

About the Festival of Archaeology

Dig into the past at the 23rd Festival of Archaeology! Co-ordinated by the Council for British Archaeology, the Festival offers over 1,000 events nationwide, organised by museums, heritage organisations, national and country parks, universities, local societies, and community archaeologists.

http://www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk/

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Engineers digging the Crossrail tunnels have uncovered a plague pit believed to date from the Black Death in the 14th century. Here’s the BBC’s video of the site.

Photo courtesy of Crossrail.

Photo courtesy of Crossrail.

Over the past two weeks 13 skeletons have been discovered at a shaft in Charterhouse Square, just outside the boundaries of the  City of London, with more being unearthed every day. Experts believe they date from the Black Death, which killed tens of millions during the medieval period, wiping out up to 60% of the continent’s population.

A burial site was understood to be in the Farringdon area, but until now its precise location was uncertain. The Smithfield area is proving a fecund ground for archaeologists: in 2011 researchers were able to reconstruct the plague’s genetic code, using skeletons discovered in the 1980s.

This is the second major archaeological discovery in London of recent weeks, after the remains of a Roman settlement were uncovered in February. A pit of ‘lunatic’ skeletons was also discovered by Crossrail workers in 2011.

Source link: http://londonist.com/2013/03/14th-century-plague-pit-found-during-crossrail-dig.php

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It feels as if we’ve always cherished the ruins of our stately homes, great abbeys, castles and ancient monuments. Yet our love affair with historic buildings is relatively recent. It’s been a revolution that flew in the face of industrial change and has been inspired both by acts of personal bravado and government intervention.

Main Image: BBC/English Heritage

Main Image: BBC/English Heritag

A new series on BBC Four this month called “Heritage! The Battle for Britain’s Past” looks at those pioneers of the past who fought to save the physical remains of the nation’s history. Some like William Morris, Octavia Hill and John Betjeman are familiar names, others – the “men from the ministry” /who worked quietly behind the scenes – are unsung heroes.

 
The first episode charts the birth of the heritage movement and the battle to save Britain’s great sites from destruction. The second episode looks at the interwar years, the rise of the day out to a historic site, and the struggle for the future of the English country house. And the final episode examines how in the second half of the 20th century, the definition of what did and did not constitute “heritage” changed.heritage-bbcfour

Made in partnership with English Heritage, the series features contributions from many of EH’s experts and draws upon its research into the early acts of heritage legislation – including the landmark Ancient Monuments Act of 1913.

A timely reminder to all of us about just how important these buildings remain, how we so nearly lost so many and the lessons we mustn’t forget.

Heritage! The Battle for Britain’s Past starts tomorrow at 21.00 on BBC Four
Links source: http://www.primeresi.com/heritage-the-battle-for-britains-past/12094/

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Google, today, commemorates Mary Leakey’s 100th birthday anniversary with an attractive doodle. Leakey, a renowned British archaeologist and anthropologist, was born on February 6, 1913 in London, England and is well known for her significant discoveries and exploring the fossils of the ancient hominines. She collaborated with her husband Louis Leakey through a large part of her career and her three sons also entered the same field. She died on December 9, 1996 at the age of 83.

mary_leakeys_100th_birthday-1026006-hpLeakey’s discoveries included the fossilised Proconsul skull, an extinct ape that is believed to be ancestor to humans. Another discovery was that of the Zinjanthropus skull, an early hominin, at Olduvai Gorge. She is also credited with developing a system to classify stone tools found at Olduvai as well as discovering Laetoli footprints. Over the course of her career, Leakey wrote four books.

Her passion towards unearthing the fossils was somewhat influenced by John Frere, an antiquarian, and Sheppard Frere, an archaeologist. Moreover, she had a chance to accompany Elie Peyrony during an excavation at Les Eyzies, where she came across collection scrapers and other tools from the dump. It is believed that at this phase her interest in prehistory gradually sparked.

Google’s doodle to mark the 100th birth anniversary of Mary Leakey with an image of a female archaeologist working at an excavation site marked with footprints. She is surrounded by archaeological tools like brush, leaf-and-square and trowel, while two dogs play around the site.

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The Chalke Valley History Festival is unique, with a literary history festival, living history through the ages, and a new schools programme.  Attracting some 13,000 in only its second year in 2012, 2013 promises to be even better…

The Chalke Valley History Festival has been created to further the enjoyment and understanding of our rich and varied history. All proceeds go to the Chalke Valley History Trust, created to help further the education of history in our schools. We look forward to seeing you there…

chalk-valleyLiving History.

The Festival will become a giant encampment of living history through the ages, from Romans to the Second World War, and displayed by some of the very best re-enactors and historical interpreters in the UK.  With an air show featuring Spitfires and other warbirds, with Sword School, Have-a-Go Archery, an interactive First World War trench experience, and a battle re-enactment of the Battle of Vitoria, there will be much to see for all the family.

Literary Festival

Throughout the week, the Festival plays host to many of our most popular, passionate and leading historians, from Max Hastings and Neil Oliver, to Michael Morpurgo and Dan Snow, and from Horrible Histories through to Boris Johnson and Tom Stoppard. Covering a wide variety of subjects from Ancient Rome to the Iron Curtain and with debates, discussions, lectures, seminars and events for all the family, this is Britain’s premier History Literary Festival.

Schools Programme

Two days of history featuring a wide range of curriculum-based subjects delivered by leading and best-selling historians, including Tom Holland, Michael Burleigh and Laurence Rees. From 1066, through the Tudors and the First World War, and the rise of the Nazis to the Second World War, the programme will offer a series of lectures, seminars, living history and inter-active demonstrations to bring history alive, excite and inspire Year 10 and 12 students.

http://www.cvhf.org.uk/

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Human remains found in the resting place of Richard III have already been identified as those of the king but information is being held back ahead of a major press conference next month, sources close to the project claim

A source with knowledge of the excavation told the Telegraph archaeologists will richard_3
name the skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park in September as the
Plantagenet king even if long-awaited DNA results on the bones prove
inconclusive.

Additional evidence not revealed at a major press conference after the remains were found demonstrates beyond all reasonable doubt that the body is the King’s, even without genetic proof, the source said.

Leicester University experts announced earlier this year that there was convincing evidence suggesting the remains were those of Richard III, but have always insisted DNA analysis is needed before a conclusion can be reached.

Clues to the body’s identity include a wound to the skull and a twist in the spine which match historical accounts of the King and his death in battle, but these alone are not enough to prove it is the King, archaeologists said at the time.

A spokesman for Leicester University denied any information had been withheld from the public at the press event in September, but said various new evidence gathered since then will be announced to the public next month.

This will include the results of radiocarbon dating tests, which will indicate the date the individual died within an 80-year range, and analysis of dental calculus which could reveal details about their and lifestyle, as well as the first images of the body.

The spokesman said: “There will be things that have been discovered during the course of the investigation that will be announced at the press conference, but everything we were willing to reveal and that we were sure of, we revealed [in September].”

A Channel Four documentary, which initially led to the university’s involvement, will also be screened in January and is expected to reveal new information about the project.

The University insists it has been open about the analysis of the skeleton from the start, but a number of people close to the study have become uncomfortable that new evidence is not being published.

A source told the Telegraph: “Unfortunately, an awful lot of stuff is being kept from the public.

“I am told that circumstantial evidence of the find which is not going to be broadcast until this programme (on Channel Four) is brought out in January will confirm the body is Richard III’s, even if the DNA does not.”

The University said all available information will be announced at the press event and insisted it had no knowledge of any information which is being withheld for the documentary.

The body was identified just weeks into a project which began when experts identified a council car park in Leicester as the most likely historical location of the church of Grey Friars, where the King was said to have been buried after his defeat in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

The archaeologists initially described the dig as a “long shot” but have since uncovered the foundations of a church along with two bodies, one of which is thought to be that of the King.

By , Science Correspondent – Full article

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