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Welcome to History Buff, a blog for history lovers everywhere! History Buff brings news stories about archaeology from around the world together on one site. From finds in ancient Egypt to new discoveries in anthropology, History Buff wants to know. And feel free to stop by History Buff's ** Author Interviews** for Q&As with authors of historical fiction. Enjoy!

Michelle Moran
Historical fiction author

As an historical fiction writer I am fascinated by news stories featuring the past as it's unearthed and reimagined and brought to life. I spend a
large quantity of time searching for news in archaeology and history. Once in a great while a new archaeological discovery will act as an inspiration for what I'm currently writing. But most of the time the news stories I read are simply interesting tidbits of history. Unfortunately, I have disallowed comments because I travel so frequently that I can neither monitor nor respond to them. But I would still love to share the history that I find fascinating each day. So welcome! And feel free to visit my website at www.michellemoran.com.

Logo designed by Shaun Venish

Blog designed by Mia Pearlman Design

9.30.2008

Landfill hearing reopens on concern that site is prehistoric 'sacred place'

TIM O'BRIEN

AN BORD Pleanála yesterday reopened a two-year-old oral hearing into proposals for a major regional landfill on a 600-acre site at Nevitt in north Co Dublin.

The board said the re-opening was in response to concerns from academics that the site may be the location of a pre-Christian, "large-ditched enclosure of the Tara or Navan kind".

Read the rest on the IrishTimes.


Machu Picchu’s far-flung residents


High in Peru’s Andes, the skeletons of people buried at the famous Inca site of Machu Picchu tell a tale of displacement and devoted service. A new chemical analysis of these bones supports the previously postulated idea that Inca kings used members of a special class of royal retainers from disparate parts of the empire to maintain and operate the site, which served as a royal estate.

Read the rest here.


Fish Sauce Used to Date Pompeii Eruption

Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
Fateful Day
Fateful Day

Remains of rotten fish entrails have helped establish the precise dating of Pompeii's destruction, according to Italian researchers who have analyzed the town's last batch of garum, a pungent, fish-based seasoning.

Read the rest on Discovery.com.


Ancient Saxons could hold up supermarket

REMAINS of a Saxon settlement could hold up the construction of a budget supermarket on land at Kingsteignton.

German supermarket chain Lidl, submitted pans to Teignbridge Council to build a 1,000 square metre supermarket on the old Wilcocks agricultural site at Newton Road.

Officers have recommended outline planning permission for the store, which could provide up to 30 jobs, be turned down.

Read the rest here.

9.29.2008

Hidden histories: 'The Odyssey' and 'The Iliad' are giving up new secrets about the ancient world

By Jonathan Gottschall

NEARLY 3,000 YEARS after the death of the Greek poet Homer, his epic tales of the war for Troy and its aftermath remain deeply woven into the fabric of our culture. These stories of pride and rage, massacre and homecoming have been translated and republished over millennia. Even people who have never read a word of "The Iliad" or "The Odyssey" know the phrases they have bequeathed to us - the Trojan horse, the Achilles heel, the face that launched a thousand ships.

Read the rest on the Boston Globe.


Civil War soldiers may be buried in couple's yard

The Associated Press

A couple in central Kentucky will soon have scientific proof of whether their yard is the final resting place of hundreds of civil war dead.

Ben Breeding, owner of the old Jack Arnold House in Washington County, already has all the evidence he needs though.

Read the rest here.


Port of 'second Carthage' found

(ANSA) - Oristano, September 25 - Archaeologists in Sardinia said Thursday they have found the port of the Phoenician city of Tharros, held by some to be the ancient people's most important colony in the Mediterranean after Carthage.

Researchers from the University of Cagliari and Sassari found the submerged port in the Mistras Lagoon, several kilometres from the city ruins.

Read the rest here.


Vromans Book Signing in Pasadena

I had an amazing time last night at the book launch of my novel The Heretic Queen. We sold out every book in the store, and there were still people left wanting to purchase some! I also had the chance to meet some truly wonderful people there. The parents of ex-students, the web designer of an amazing Egyptian forum, and the authors Karen Essex (whose hair I have an unnatural envy of), Robin Maxwell (whose upcoming book, Signora Da Vinci is the best book I've read in a very long time) plus the hilarious and charming Christopher Gortner (who has a new book on Catherine Medici which I can't wait to get my hands on).

So here is the only photo of the night (if anyone sends me others, I'll post them). Yes, that's a Christmas tree. And yes, my big yap is open and flapping. In fact, it flapped for about thirty-five minutes on the topics of ancient Egypt, Nefertari and Ramesses the Great. We also debuted my book trailer for Cleopatra's Daughter (which I promise to upload here sometime soon).



A huge thank you to everyone who came and to all of my friends who traveled several hours to make it!



9.27.2008

Scholars Hunt for Missing Pages of Ancient Bible

AP: JERUSALEM — A quest is under way on four continents to find the missing pages of one of the world's most important holy texts, the 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible known as the Crown of Aleppo.

Crusaders held it for ransom, fire almost destroyed it and it was reputedly smuggled across Mideast borders hidden in a washing machine. But in 1958, when it finally reached Israel, 196 pages were missing — about 40 percent of the total — and for some Old Testament scholars they have become a kind of holy grail.

Read the rest on FoxNews.


9.26.2008

Kangaroo Bones Could Solve Aussie Aborigine Mystery

By Brandon Keim

Kangaveg_2
By using kangaroo fossils as archaeological biosensors, scientists could help solve one of Australia's enduring mysteries.

Aborigines arrived 45,000 years ago, spreading across the continent with startling rapidity. Then, in anthropological terms, they cooled their heels for the next 40,000 years: no significant population expansion. No fundamental changes in lifestyle.

That changed 5,000 years ago. Populations shot up. Settlements increased in number, and their inhabitants grew more sedentary. Scientists can't explain it.

"What's going on? Why change then? There's no obvious environmental or ecological correlate. There's no climate change," said Doug Bird, a Stanford University anthropologist who's helped devise an ingenious investigative workaround: kangaroo fossil analysis.

Bird's team recently published a study on "fire stick farming," a traditional method of ecosystem management still used by aborigines in Australia's Western Desert. By burning old-growth spinifex grass, making it easier to hunt lizards; cookpot-friendly kangaroos and emus fatten themselves on grasses flourishing on newly cleared lands.

Read the rest on Wired.

9.25.2008

Rare Viking ingot found


Coin declared treasure goes on display at Bedford Museum.

An ancient solid silver ingot found in Stagsden is stealing the limelight at Bedford Museum.

The Viking coin is the first of its kind discovered in the county and dates from AD 850-1000.

It was found by treasure hunters in the north Bedfordshire village last year, but has only just been bought by the museum following lengthy examination and valuation at the British Museum in London.

Read the rest here.


Ancient statue of Ramses II found near Cairo

Ancient statue of Ramses II found near Cairo:
Archaeologists found the Ramses II statue at a site 50 miles north of Cairo Photo: GETTY

Egyptian archaeologists located the pink, granite monument at a site in Tell Basta, once the capital of the ancient state 50 miles north of Cairo.

The great king's nose had been broken and his beard was missing, said Zahi Hawass, the head of the country's supreme council of antiquities.

Ramses, also known by his Greek name Ozymandias, commanded a mighty empire during Egypt's new kingdom from 1279-1213 BC.

Read the rest on The Telegraph.

9.24.2008

Romans 'brought leeks to Wales'

Leeks
Roman soldiers grew leeks to add flavour to food, says the museum

The Romans gave us roads, plumbing, wine and irrigation and now it seems they may have also introduced Wales' unofficial icon - the garden leek.

The National Museum of Wales says the Romans probably planted domesticated varieties to flavour their stews.

The museum has recreated a Roman-design garden at the National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon, near Newport.

The garden aims to show how troops posted to the edge of the empire created their own home-from-home.

"We've used archaeological remains and research to interpret a Roman garden," said Andrew Dixey, Estate Manager for National Museum Wales.

"The Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD and brought their garden designs with them.

Read the rest on the BBC.


Neanderthals ate seafood and had sophisticated palates

Neanderthals clubbed seals and ate dolphins and other seafood to survive in what was thought to be their last holdout before they were driven to extinction.

The evidence that they had more sophisticated tastes than their caveman image, dining on seafood, suggests comes from Gibraltar, from Vanguard Cave and Gorham's Cave, where the last group ended up some 26,000 years ago.


Harp seal: Neanderthals had more sophisticated diets than previously thought
Harp seal: Neanderthals had more sophisticated diets than previously thought

This was the last of a mighty Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) empire that once stretched from Asia to Western Europe from as much as 300,000 years ago, thriving on the cold of ice ages in woodlands where they hunted with heavy spears.

Read the rest on the Telegraph.

9.23.2008

Rock temple found in Sri Lankan jungle yields historical treasure


This is an ancient rock temple found in an unreachable jungle area of Deegalla, located seven kilometers from Mathugama.

There is an old statue of Buddha in sleeping posture inside the rock cave.

Read the rest here.


Agha Khan uses his massive wealth to protect precious sites in Syria

Annick Benoist

Agence France Presse

ALEPPO: The majestic citadel atop Syria's ancient city of Aleppo, the Masyaf Fortress of the sinister order of the Assassins and the castle of Arab conqueror Salah al-Din (Saladdin) have all been given a new lease on life as part of a project by the Agha Khan to promote Islamic sites.

"We don't do enough to illustrate to the peoples of our world the greatness of Islamic civilizations," the 71-year-old billionaire spiritual leader of the world's 15 million Shia Ismailis told AFP in an interview.

The Agha Khan, who last year celebrated 50 years as head of his community, said at a recent ceremony capping work in Aleppo that his goal is to educate the world on the wealth of Muslim culture.

Read the rest on the DailyStar.


9.22.2008

Sunken Swedish ship the Kronan offers up historic haul

Silver coins from 17th Century warship Kronan
FROM the depths ... 800-year-old Kalmar castle.

Margaret Turton

THE sunken wreck of a 17th-century warship - lying undisturbed at the bottom of crystal-clear Swedish waters - has given up a trove of treasures.
Nothing grows in the layer of sand on the seabed and, just below the sand, glacial and moraine clay preserves the Kronan and its contents.

The ship was pride of the fleet in the era when Sweden was a maritime superpower.

It had three, full-width cannon decks, an armament of up to 128 cannons, and it was big - 53m from bow to stern.

By way of comparison, Endeavour was just over 33m in length, so the Kronan was impressive, by anybody's standards.

Read the rest on the CourierMail.com.au


DNA indicates humans in N. America 14,300 years ago

University of Oregon archaeologist Dennis Jenkins (center) handed up a device to a co-worker for measuring temperature at the Paisley Caves outside Paisley, Ore.
University of Oregon archaeologist Dennis Jenkins (center) handed up a device to a co-worker for measuring temperature at the Paisley Caves outside Paisley, Ore. (Jeff Barnard/ Associated Press)

By Jeff Barnard
Associated Press

PAISLEY, Ore. - For some 85 years, homesteaders, pot hunters, and archaeologists have been digging at Paisley Caves, a string of shallow depressions washed out of an ancient lava flow by the waves of a lake that comes and goes with the changing climate.

Until now, they have found nothing conclusive - arrowheads, baskets, animal bones, and sandals made by people who lived thousands of years ago on the shores of what was then a 40-mile-long lake, but is now a sage brush desert on the northern edge of the Great Basin.

But a few years ago, University of Oregon archaeologist Dennis Jenkins and his students started digging where no one had dug before. What the team discovered in an alcove used as a latrine and trash dump has elevated the caves to the site of the oldest radiocarbon dated human remains in North America.

Read the rest on Boston Globe.


Stonehenge May Have Healed Sick, Injured

Stonehenge has a new age — and a new purpose.

It's long been understood that the Neolithic stone circle on Salisbury Plain in southern England was an observatory tuned to the summer solstice and the positions of the stars.

But new excavations led by a pair of British archaeologists show that it was also a healing center, a sort of pagan Lourdes for chronically ill and crippled pilgrims from across western Europe.

Read the rest here.


9.20.2008

Scholar Claims to Find 1000-Year Old Jewish Capital

AP: MOSCOW — A Russian archaeologist says he has found the lost capital of the Khazars, a powerful nation that adopted Judaism as its official religion more than 1,000 years ago, only to disappear leaving little trace of its culture.

Dmitry Vasilyev, a professor at Astrakhan State University, said his nine-year excavation near the Caspian Sea has finally unearthed the foundations of a triangular fortress of flamed brick, along with modest yurt-shaped dwellings, and he believes these are part of what was once Itil, the Khazar capital.

By law Khazars could use flamed bricks only in the capital, Vasilyev said. The general location of the city on the Silk Road was confirmed in medieval chronicles by Arab, Jewish and European authors.

Read the rest here.



WWII Bomb Blows Up Vienna Garden, Set Off by Local Quake

AP: Vienna, Austria — Austrian authorities say a small earthquake set off a large World War II-era bomb in the garden of a Vienna home. No one was injured in the explosion.

Investigators think the bomb weighed up to half a ton. It lay buried for decades in the garden, and no one knew it was there.

Read the rest here.


9.19.2008

Ike Uncovers Mystery Civil War-Era Shipwreck

FORT MORGAN, Ala. , Texas — When the waves from Hurricane Ike receded, they left behind a mystery — a ragged shipwreck that archeologists say could be a two-masted Civil War schooner that ran aground in 1862 or another ship from some 70 years later.

The wreck, about six miles from Fort Morgan, had already been partially uncovered when Hurricane Camille cleared away sand in 1969.

Researchers at the time identified it as the Monticello, a battleship that partially burned when it crashed trying to get past the U.S. Navy and into Mobile Bay during the Civil War.

Read the rest here.



Archaeologists find medieval artefacts on Mt. Visocica, disparage pyramid seeker

By Jusuf Ramadanovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo

photo

Bosnian explorer and archaeological enthusiast Semir Osmanagic points at excavated stone fragments discovered on Mt. Visocica in BiH. Osmanagic, a business owner in the United States, has spent tens of thousands of euros seeking Europe's first pyramids. [Getty Images]

Summer excavations at Bosnia and Herzegovina's Mt. Visocica yielded results, but not the kind an entrepreneur turned amateur archaeologist was looking for. Semir Osmanagic, a US businessman of BiH origin, has invested large amounts of his own money in a personal quest to unearth what he says are Europe's first pyramids.

His claims have not yet been corroborated. Instead, an archeological team said over the summer that it has unearthed significant artefacts from a more recent era. These include eight pieces of Gothic architectural carvings and parts of glass vials dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries, imported from Venice and principalities of today's Germany, as well as numerous pieces of ceramic. They have also found 20 silver objects dating from the 15th-century.

Read the rest here.



Roman cemetery revealed in Enderby

skeleton in grave (not from Enderby dig

A small Roman rural cemetery containing six skeletons has been discovered at an archaeological dig in Enderby.

The human burials were found during an excavation at the new park and ride site alongside Iron Age, Roman and medieval finds including pottery, a denarius - a type of Roman silver coin, and a number of brooches.

Analysis of the skeletons, found close to the line of the former Fosse Way Roman road, will now take place to identify the gender, age at death, health and life style of the individuals they represent.

As the area has been cultivated since medieval times, the skeletons are in relatively poor condition.

Read the rest here.


Defences at Troy reveal larger town

Troy
(Corbis): Troy

Normand Hammond, Archaeology Correspondent

Ancient Troy was much bigger than previously thought, and may have housed as many as 10,000 people, new excavations have revealed. The lower town, in which most of the population would have lived, may have been as large as 40 hectares (100 acres), according to Professor Ernst Pernicka. The new data include two large storage pithoi found near the city’s boundary ditch. The pots, which may have been as much as 2 metres high, were kept in or near homes, suggesting that houses in the lower town stretched to its limits, another indication that Troy’s lower town was fully inhabited and the city was bigger than revealed in previous expeditions, Professor Pernicka told reporters at the opening of a new exhibitio

Read the rest on the TimesOnline.


The Ptolemies through plexi-glass

The committee to establish Egypt's proposed underwater museum will have its first meeting next month in Alexandria, Nevine El-Aref reports.

Statues of Serapis, Osiris and Isis found in the Mediterranean Sea which will house Egypt's first underwater museum

The history of a city caught in a time-warp when it was submerged by the sea while it was part of a unique civilisation that once held sway over much of the ancient world will, in the near future, be accessible and visible to all visitors to Alexandria. The International Scientific Advisory Committee is meeting in October to discuss plans for Egypt's first offshore underwater museum.

On the seabed of Alexandria's Eastern Harbour lie the royal quarters of the Ptolemaic dynasty complete with temples, palaces and streets. Queen Cleopatra's Palace and Antirhodos Island, now near the centre of the harbour between Qait Bay fortress to the north, Silsila on the east and Mahattat Al-Raml to the south, were in the same position.

These magnificent monuments were hidden beneath the waves after sinking in antiquity until 1996, when a joint mission by the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology and the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), with sponsorship from the Hilti Foundation of Liechtenstein, began scientific and archaeological studies in the Eastern Harbour.

Read the rest here.

9.18.2008

100s of new species discovered in Australia

In  this 2008 photo provided by the Queensland Museum is a white ...
In this 2008 photo provided by the Queensland Museum is a white topped coral crab collected from dead coral head off Australia's Heron Island. Marine scientists have discovered hundreds of new animal species on reefs in Australian waters, including brilliant soft corals and tiny crustaceans. (AP Photo/Gary Cranitch, Queensland Museum)

See more photos here.


New Mozart piece found in French library

Image: Piece of music by Mozart
David Vincent / AP: A previously unknown piece of music by Mozart is displayed, discovered by a library as staff were going through its archives, Thursday, Sept. 18, in Nantes, western France.

PARIS - A French museum has found a previously unknown piece of music handwritten by Mozart, a researcher said Thursday. The 18th century melody sketch is missing the harmony and instrumentation but was described as an important find.

Read the rest here.



Ancient settlements unearthed in eastern Turkey

A settlement dating back to Early Bronze Age, and remains of a building dating to Hittite era were recovered during excavations in Aslantepe, Malatya, professor Marcella Frangipane, the head of the excavations and a lecturer at the Italian La Spienza University, told AA correspondent.

Aslantepe was a city from 5000 BC to 712 BC, until the Assyrian invasion, and was later abandoned for a long time. It then became a Roman village from 500 to 600 AD, and later the Byzantine necropolis.

The first palace in the world was built in Aslantepe in 3350 BC. There are storage chambers, a corridor, a courtyard and a temple in the palace.

"We are trying to find two layers in Aslantepe dating back to Early Bronze Ages, and we have unearthed a part of a city walls dating to 2,900-2,800 BC. This city wall is like an acropolis," Frangipane said.

Frangipane said the excavation team had also uncovered houses and cookers on the hills, which might indicate that there was a settlement during 3,000-2,500 BC.

Read the rest here.


Muddy myths sink Queen of the Nile

The only carving of Cleopatra in existence
The only carving of Cleopatra in existence, pictured with her son by Julius Caesar, Caesarion, at the Temple of Hathor, Dendara in Egypt (Source: iStockphoto)

The world is fascinated by Cleopatra. Cleopatra (Cleopatra VII to be exact) was the last pharaoh of Egypt — and has inspired books, plays, movies and 32 operas.

Most of us are not experts in Egyptology, but we all think that we know a few things about Cleopatra — something along the lines that this Egyptian woman was stunningly beautiful, and committed suicide by getting a small snake, an asp, to bite her.

The only correct belief in all of that is that she was a woman.

First, Cleopatra was not Egyptian, she was Macedonian.

Read the rest on ABC.


History's Horrors In the Present: Argentine mom seeks daughter forced into prostitution

By Brian Byrnes

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNN) -- When Susana Trimarco's daughter Marita Veron was 23, she vanished from their hometown in Argentina, a suspected victim of a human trafficking and prostitution ring with links throughout Latin America and Europe.

Marita Veron, who is missing, hugs her daughter Micaela. Police believe Marita was forced into sexual slavery.

Marita Veron, who is missing, hugs her daughter Micaela. Police believe Marita was forced into sexual slavery.

Trimarco, 54, has spent the last 6 ½ years searching for her daughter, often putting herself at risk. While chasing down leads on Marita's whereabouts, she's entered into dark and dangerous brothels and confronted pimps and politicians who, she says, are complicit in her daughter's disappearance.

Read the rest on CNN.


9.17.2008

Viking Age Triggered by Shortage of Wives?

Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
The Oseberg
The Oseberg

During the Viking Age from the late eighth to the mid-eleventh centuries, Scandinavians tore across Europe attacking, robbing and terrorizing locals. According to a new study, the young warriors were driven to seek their fortunes to better their chances of finding wives.

The odd twist to the story, said researcher James Barrett, is that it was the selective killing of female newborns that led to a shortage of Scandinavian women in the first place, resulting later in intense competition over eligible women.

"Selective female infanticide was recorded as part of pagan Scandinavian practice in later medieval sources, such as the Icelandic sagas," Barrett, who is deputy director of Cambridge University's McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, told Discovery News.

Read the rest on Discovery.


Ramses temple found in eastern Cairo

Cairo - An Egyptian archaeological team has unearthed a temple and parts of a statue belonging to one of Egypt's most famous pharaohs, in a rare find inside the capital, the official Mena agency reported on Monday.

A temple built for 19th-dynasty King Ramses II was found in east Cairo, Mena said.

Read the rest here.


Discovery of Bronze-Age `Refrigerators' Expands Homer's Troy

Interview by Catherine Hickley

The remains of two outsized earthenware pots, a ditch and evidence of a gate dating back more than 3,000 years are changing scholars' perceptions about the city of Troy at the time Homer's ``Iliad'' was set.

The discoveries this year show that Troy's lower town was much bigger in the late Bronze Age than previously thought, according to Ernst Pernicka, the University of Tubingen professor leading excavations on the site in northwestern Turkey.

His team has uncovered a trench 1.4 kilometers long, 4 meters wide and 2 meters deep. The full length of the trench, which probably encircled the city and served a defensive purpose, may be as much as 2.5 kilometers, Pernicka said in an interview in his office in Mannheim, Germany. Troy may have been as big as 40 hectares, with a population as high as 10,000, he estimates.

Read the rest on Bloomberg.com.



PHOTO IN THE NEWS: DNA-Based Neanderthal Face Unveiled

Neanderthal with red hair named Wilma - photo of reconstruction
by David Braun
Meet Wilma—named for the redheaded Flintstones character—the first model of a Neanderthal based in part on ancient DNA evidence.

Artists and scientists created Wilma (shown in a photo released yesterday) using analysis of DNA from 43,000-year-old bones that had been cannibalized. Announced in October 2007, the findings had suggested that at least some Neanderthals would have had red hair, pale skin, and possibly freckles.

Created for an October 2008 National Geographic magazine article, Wilma has a skeleton made from replicas of pelvis and skull bones from Neanderthal females. Copies of male Neanderthal bones—resized to female dimensions—filled in the gaps.

Read the rest on National Geographic.



How the barbarians drove Romans to build Venice

A gondolier rows his gondola in a canal in Venice

The hidden ruins of an ancient lagoon city that was the ancestor of Venice have been unearthed by scientists using satellite imaging. The outlines are clearly visible about three feet below the earth in what is now open countryside.

Venice was a powerful maritime power during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It seemed, however, an unlikely spot to choose for a leading world power, stretching across 118 small islands in the marshy saltwater Venetian lagoon.

Read the rest on the Timesonline.co.uk


Roman skeleton may give TB clues

Roman skeleton
The skeleton is an unusual find

A newly-discovered Roman skeleton could be one of the earliest British victims of tuberculosis, experts believe.

Archaeologists hope the discovery will reveal clues about how the deadly disease spread across Britain.

The man's remains - which date from the fourth century AD - were found on a construction site at York University.

The first known case of TB in Britain is from the Iron Age - but finding cases from Roman times is still rare, especially in the north.

Most finds have been confined to the southern half of England.

Read the rest on the BBC.

9.16.2008

Andy Warhol and artist 'who never existed'

Works by Pietro Psaier have appeared at sales all over the world, including several held by Christie's, Sotheby's and Bonhams, attracting prices of up to £14,000.

They were given added kudos by the claim that Psaier worked in Warhol's studio, the Factory, and that the pair were friends who collaborated on several pieces.

However, officials at the Andy Warhol Foundation have come forward to say they have never heard of Psaier, and suggested that the whole relationship may have been a hoax.

Read the rest here.



The farm girl who inspired Thomas Hardy to write Tess of the D'urbervilles

Augusta Way was 'Tess Durbeyfield' of the novel. In the book, Tess was the eldest daughter in a poor, rural working family - a fresh, pretty country girl with a good heart and a sensitive soul.

The middle-aged woman pictured below with her husband, was just 18 when Hardy spotted her milking a cow on a Wessex farm.

Hardy
Historic character: Augusta Way with her husband Arthur Bugler. Years before this picture was taken, Augusta helped inspire Thomas Hardy to pen Tess of the D'urbervilles when she was spotted milking a cow on a Wessex farm

He was so attracted to the beautiful teenager that he had her in mind three years later when he wrote his famous novel in 1891.

Read the rest on DailyMail.


Publication Day!!!!!!!



Today is the release of my second novel The Heretic Queen! As many of my blog readers know, the journey from finished product to publication often takes a year, so after a long year's wait I can finally say that the book is in a store near you!!!!

I am so grateful to the many, many people who helped The Heretic Queen on its journey, from my editor, to my wonderful team at Crown Publishers, to the amazing bloggers who agreed to read early copies and post their reviews. One particular review that almost stopped my breath was Julianne Douglas's of Writing the Renaissance. Julianne is a writer herself with an eye for detail that would put Sherlock Holmes to shame.


Thank you so much to everyone who has helped along the way, and I hope you enjoy The Heretic Queen as much as I enjoyed writing it! There are quite a few bloggers giving away free copies in honor of the release day. Although the wonderful Books 'N Border Collies contest is over, you can enter another contest on the blog Favorite PASTimes as well as Historical Tapestry! Just leave a comment for a chance to win!

9.15.2008

Rare Mass Tombs Discovered Near Machu Picchu

José Orozco in Caracas, Venezuela
for National Geographic News

Eighty skeletons and stockpiles of textiles found in caves near the ancient Inca site of Machu Picchu may shed light on the role that the so-called Lost City of the Inca played as a regional center of trade and power, scientists say.

Researchers found the artifacts and remains at two sites within the Machu Picchu Archaeological Park in southeastern Peru, said Fernando Astete, head of the park (see map of Peru).

bones in machu picchu cave picture

The remains, most of which were found in May 2008 at a site called Salapunku, probably date to 500 to 550 years ago, said Francisco Huarcaya, the site's lead researcher.

Due to extensive looting, however, as much as 75 percent of the fabrics found wrapped around the remains are in "bad shape," Huarcaya said.

So far only the heads and shoulders of most of the bodies have been uncovered, Astete added.

Read the rest on National Geographic.


Roundhouses

In 1970, writing in CA 21, architect-turned archaeologist Chris Musson estimated that there were perhaps 200 roundhouses known in archaeological literature. The result of recent work is that now, 30 years after Musson’s estimate, we can suggest that the number of excavated roundhouses in Britain must be rapidly approaching 4,000 – a staggering 20-fold increase in archaeological data. What can it tell us?

To start at the beginning, the roundhouse is found first in the later 3rd millennium BC in South-West Scotland. Attracted to the easily tilled soils, early Bronze Age people settled in upland landscapes and often built houses on platforms levelled into the hillside. By the end of the Bronze Age, house size had increased (to c.10m in diameter): the implication is that more people were, by that time, living together. The number of houses being built increased substantially after c.400 BC – as shown in recent work by John Thomas of University of Leicester Archaeological Services – and we currently think that this indicates population increase. River-valley landscapes, in particular, saw much greater use, linked to new innovations in farming at this time.

Read the rest on archaeology.co.uk.


Meet the flint-knappers

RED RIVER GORGE — On a flat, grassy piece of land beside the Red River, a man sat in the shade, striking a piece of wood against a rock, slowly shaping a rough piece of flint into a spear point.

Because he had done this many times before, the man knew just where to hit the flint to produce a strong, thin point that could easily pierce an animal's hide and sink into a vital organ.

The scene could have taken place on the same spot thousands of years ago, but it happened last week.

The man was wearing a T-shirt, green Forest Service uniform pants, and, in a radical meeting of ancient and modern technologies, a microphone that sent signals to a high-definition digital video camera.

Read the rest here.


Historic First in the UK: Britain Adopts Islamic Law, Gives Sharia Courts Full Power to Rule on Civil Cases

Islamic law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through county courts or the country's High Court, a part of its Supreme Court system.

Read the rest here.



Chianti: Secret to Long Life, Says Ancient Recipe

Secret to Long Life?
Secret to Long Life?

by Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

The elixir of life may be a concoction of honey, cherries and secret herbs infused in a full Chianti wine, according to a centuries-old recipe discovered in one of Italy's oldest pharmacies.

The 18th century-old recipe was discovered in an old manuscript found among the shelves of a pharmacy in Asciano near Sienna dating back to 1715.

Read the rest on Discovery.


Antiquities smuggling: Growing problem at US ports

By TAMARA LUSH, Associated Press Writer

MIAMI - Three years ago, an elderly Italian man pulled his van into a South Florida park to sell some rare, 2,500-year-old emeralds plundered from a South American tomb. But Ugo Bagnato, an archaeologist, didn't know his potential customer was a federal agent.

Bagnato flashed the green gems, which were as large as dominoes, and explained to the immigration and customs agent that he had bribed South American authorities and used fake paperwork to smuggle the highly illegal goods into the United States.


Read the rest on Yahoo.


Good Luck, Not Superiority, Gave Dinosaurs Their Edge, Study Of Crocodile Cousins Reveals


A montage of the skulls of several crurotarsan archosaurs, the "crocodile-line" archosaurs that were the main competitors of dinosaurs during the Late Triassic period (230-200 million years ago). Dinosaurs and crurotarsans shared many of the same ecological niches, and some crurotarsans looked remarkably similar to dinosaurs. However, by the end of the Triassic period most crurotarsans were extinct, save for a few lineages of crocodiles, while dinosaurs weathered the storm and began a 135-million-year reign of dominance. Top (l-r): The rauisuchians Batrachotomus and Postosuchus; middle: the phytosaur Nicrosaurus and the aetosaur Aetosaurus; bottom: the poposauroid Lotosaurus and the ornithosuchid Riojasuchus. (Credit: Steve Brusatte)

ScienceDaily: In a paper published in Science, Steve Brusatte and Professor Mike Benton challenge the general consensus among scientists that there must have been something special about dinosaurs that helped them rise to prominence.

Dinosaurs epitomize both success and failure. Failure because they went extinct suddenly 65 million years ago; success because they dominated terrestrial ecosystems for well over 100 million years evolving into a wide array of species that reached tremendous sizes.

Read the rest on ScienceDaily.



Ancient camel jawbone discovery is just deserts for archaeologists


ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed a camel jawbone in Syria that might belong to an undiscovered tiny species of the desert-cruising animal and – at a million years old – be the oldest camel remains ever found.

The jawbone was uncovered last month near the village of Khowm in the Palmyra region, about 150 miles northeast of the capital, Damascus, said Heba al-Sakhel, one of the leaders of the team of Syrian and Swiss archaeologists.

Read the rest here.


Roman bones at park-and-ride site

Roman skeleton (courtesy Leicestershire Councty Council)
The Roman cemetery is thought to be a significant find

A team of archaeologists in Leicestershire has uncovered several ancient bodies at the site of a new park-and-ride development.

Excavations are continuing in Enderby after the discovery of what is thought to be a small Roman rural cemetery.

The skeletons were found close to the former Fosse Way Roman road.

Archaeologists have also found bodies from the Iron Age at the same site, a silver Roman coin as well as items from the medieval period.

Read the rest on the BBC.


Terrifying Crocodile-Like Frog Stalked Ancient World

A prehistoric predator that looked like a big crocodile paddled around the Antarctic region 240 million years ago, sporting sizable fangs not only along the edge of its mouth but also halfway down the roof of its mouth.

The newly described freshwater species, Kryostega collinsoni, is a temnospondyl, a once-diverse but extinct group of amphibians that lived during the Triassic period, when dinosaurs first showed up. Temnospondyls are extinct cousins of modern salamanders and frogs.

This one was probably about 15 feet in length with a long and wide skull even flatter than a crocodile's.

Read the rest on FoxNews.

9.13.2008

Saxon graves found in Lakenheath

DISCOVERED: Archaeologists and personnel from RAF Lakenheath look at the graves which have been discovered
DISCOVERED: Archaeologists and personnel from RAF Lakenheath look at the graves which have been discovered

Some 450 graves have been found in Lakenheath after a discovery during recent roadworks.
The find of three Saxon graves has helped to define the size of one of the largest burial grounds in Suffolk, which has been part of a 10-year study by the archaeological services at Suffolk County Council.

During the last six to nine months, Jo Caruth, senior project officer for Archaeological Services, said the team have been monitoring roadworks taking place in RAF Lakenheath as the area was known for its ancient discoveries.

Read the rest here.


More on the Greek dig unearthing secrets of Alexander the Great's golden era

By Ryan Kisiel

It would be more than 100 years at least until Alexander the Great led the forces of Macedonia to conquer the Hellenistic world.

But, even in its early days, the Greek kingdom's warriors were already an imposing sight on the battlefield.

A dig in an ancient burial ground in Alexander's birthplace of Pella, northern Greece, has unearthed the graves of 20 warriors in battle dress, a find which archaeologists say sheds fresh light on the development of Macedonian culture.

helmet
Imposing: A bronze helmet with golden facial plates (left) and a copper helmet and gold eye-cover of two ancient warriors were found in a cemetery in Pella

The warriors, whose remains have been dated to the late Archaic period, between 580BC and 460BC, were among 43 graves excavated in the latest dig, with the other bodies ranging from 650BC to 279BC.

Some of the warriors were buried in bronze helmets alongside iron swords and knives.

Their eyes, mouths and chests were covered in gold foil richly decorated with drawings of lions and other animals symbolising royal power.

Gold jewellery

Gold jewellery was found in a woman's grave at the ancient cemetery

Other finds included gold jewellery and pottery.

Read the rest on DailyMail.

9.12.2008

Over 1,400 ancient graves found in Greek metro dig

ATHENS (AFP) — Archaeologists in Greece have unearthed more than 1,400 ancient graves and tombs during excavation work for a new metro in the northern city of Salonika, the culture ministry said on Thursday.

The graves and tombs spanned an 800-year period from the fourth century BC to Roman times in the fourth century AD.

The finds range from humble pits and altar tombs of stone to marble sarcophagi, the ministry said.

Read the rest here.



Ancient Figs May Be First Cultivated Crops

Correction: In the broadcast version of this story, an archeological site in the lower Jordan Valley was incorrectly identified as being in Israel. The site is in the occupied West Bank.

Figs
Courtesy Jonathan Reif: An ancient fig (left), appears next to an Iranian commercial variety (center), and a common variety of Turkish fig (right). The ancient fig's color was altered to prepare it to be photographed in magnified form.

All Things Considered, June 2, 2006 · The discovery of figs in an 11,400-year-old house near the ancient city of Jericho may be evidence that cultivated crops came centuries before the first farmers planted cereal grains.

Archeologists in Israel discovered the figs in an excavated house in a village called Gilgal 1. The fruits were mutant figs -- growing on a rare kind of tree that isn't pollinated by insects and won't reproduce unless someone takes a cutting and plants it.

Read the rest on NPR.


Greece unearths treasures at Alexander's birthplace

ATHENS (Reuters) - Archaeologists have unearthed gold jewellery, weapons and pottery at an ancient burial site near Pella in northern Greece, the birthplace of Alexander the Great, the culture ministry said on Thursday.

The excavations at the vast cemetery uncovered 43 graves dating from 650-279 BC which shed light on the early development of the Macedonian kingdom, which had an empire that stretched as far as India under Alexander's conquests.

Read the rest here.

9.11.2008

Unloved Winston Churchill painting dumped in attic for 30 years could sell for £150,000 at auction

A painting kept in an attic for 30 years because the owner did not like it has turned out to be the work of Sir Winston Churchill.

The wartime Prime Minister painted Windlesham Moor in Surrey around 1934. The house was later the first home of the Queen and Prince Philip.

The oil painting is expected to fetch up to £150,000 when it is sold later this month at John Dickins Auctioneers in Buckinghamshire.

Hidden treasure: Churchill's painting of Windlesham Moor was lost in an attic for 30 years and now might sell at auction for £150,000
Hidden treasure: Churchill's painting of Windlesham Moor was lost in an attic for 30 years and now might sell at auction for £150,000

The oil painting was passed on to Churchill's wartime director of Home Intelligence, Baron Stephen Taylor, who later gave it to his secretary as a gift.

Read the rest on the DailyMail.



'Extinct' Frog Found Alive and Well in Australia

SYDNEY, Australia — A tiny frog species thought by many experts to be extinct has been rediscovered alive and well in a remote area of Australia's tropical north, researchers said Thursday.

The 1.5 inch-long Armoured Mistfrog had not been seen since 1991, and many experts assumed it had been wiped out by a devastating fungus that struck northern Queensland state.

But two months ago, a doctoral student at James Cook University in Townsville conducting research on another frog species in Queensland stumbled across what appeared to be several Armoured Mistfrogs in a creek, said professor Ross Alford, head of a research team on threatened frogs at the university.

Read the rest here.