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 on: Yesterday at 01:11:58 pm 
Started by Krystal Coenen - Last post by Krystal Coenen
Maori Artifacts Point to Early Polynesian Settlement in New Zealand

By Tom Metcalfe, Live Science Contributor |  August 9, 2017 07:41am ET   

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Maori Artifacts Point to Early Polynesian Settlement in New Zealand

The dig was a joint project between archaeologists from New Zealand government agencies and Otago University, and local Maori groups.

Credit: Heritage New Zealand

Archeologists in New Zealand are starting to unravel the mysteries of an early settlement near the northern tip of the islands that may have been founded by some of the first Polynesians to arrive in the region around 700 years ago.

The artifacts from Moturua Island include a pendant made from shell that appears to have originated in tropical Pacific waters, which may have been brought by the earliest generations of Polynesian settlers, who developed New Zealand's indigenous Maori culture in the centuries that followed, say the researchers.

The archaeological site, located beside a beach at Mangahawea Bay on Moturua island, about 124 miles (200 kilometers) north of the city of Auckland, was first excavated by archaeologists from the University of Auckland in 1981. [See Photos of the Early Maori Site in New Zealand]

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Although some research on the bones of Polynesian dogs ("kuri" in Maori) found at the site was published a few years later, details of the excavation itself were not formally written up, and the bulk of the archaeological work from the site remains unpublished almost 40 years later.

"Everyone's known about it, everyone knows that it's potentially important, but no one's actually been able to do any work on it,” said Andrew Blanshard, a ranger for New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, who initiated the project that led to the latest dig at Moturua Island in February of this year.

Now, some of the artifacts from the 1981 dig, along with bone fish hooks, shell fragments and the bones of animals found in a stone-lined underground oven, or hangi, on the site will undergo scientific testing for the first time, Blanshard said. This is part of an effort to determine if the site may have once been home to some of the first Polynesians to settle in New Zealand, which is thought to have been in the late 13th century, he added.

Mysterious pendant

Among the key findings at the site during the latest excavations are the cooked remains of seals, shellfish and moa — New Zealand's largest flightless bird, now extinct. Moa disappeared from the region due to predation soon after the first humans settled in New Zealand, Blanshard told Live Science.

The researchers are also focusing attention on the type of shell used in a pendant found at the site in 1981, which appears to be a species of pearl oyster — tropical shellfish that are not found in cold New Zealand waters, he said.

If the shell in the pendant is confirmed to be mother-of-pearl, then it may have been brought to New Zealand by some of the very earliest settlers from tropical parts of Polynesia: "But at this stage, it's still very much a wish, rather than something we can prove," Blanshard said.

The archaeological site on Moturua Island in New Zealand's Bay of Islands may prove be one of the earliest Maori settlements ever found.

The archaeological site on Moturua Island in New Zealand's Bay of Islands may prove be one of the earliest Maori settlements ever found.

Credit: Heritage New Zealand
Blanshard became interested in this archeological "cold case" when he helped build a walking track around the island in 2006.

After being told that the results from the 1981 dig were never written up and published, and that the artifacts from the site remained undated, “I decided that we probably needed to think about doing something a little bit better than that,” he said. [The 25 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth]

Blanshard spent nine years locating the artifacts, field notebooks and other research from the 1981 dig to prepare for this year's excavations. Many of the items were found in the archives of universities and government departments in different cities around New Zealand, he said.

The notebooks, in particular, enabled the new team of archeologists to make sense of the field work that was carried out in 1981.

"We were able to redig one of their holes, and have a look at the sides of the hole — what we would call the profile — and that allows us to better understand the samples and artifacts that we've got from the 1981 excavation," Blanshard said, "so it starts to fill in the blanks of the jigsaw."

Maori partnership

The excavation at Moturua Island earlier this year was a partnership between New Zealand's Department of Conservation, the government agency Heritage New Zealand, archeologists from the University of Otago at Dunedin in the South Island, and two local Maori clans: Ngati Kuta and Patu Keha.

Heritage New Zealand archaeologist James Robinson, who led the latest dig on Moturua Island, said the involvement of the local Maori was important in helping the researchers to understand the various functional areas of the site, such as the structures of buried storage pits for sweet potatoes, or "kumara," of a type still being used in Maori communities in the area in the 1950s.

Although carbon dating on various items recovered during the latest dig will not be completed for several months, Robinson told Live Science that "we're happy at this stage to say that we're dealing with what's sometimes referred to as an archaic [Maori] or an early Polynesian site."

The latest dig has also revealed signs of archeological layers that indicate the site was occupied successively during different periods of Maori cultural development — an unusual find in New Zealand, where many early sites were often abandoned when some key local resource became scarce, Robinson said.

Initial research from the latest Moturua Island dig was presented at an archaeological conference in New Zealand earlier this year, and scientific papers about the findings, combining the work done by the 1981 and 2017 dig teams, are currently being prepared for publication, he said.

"It's an interesting site — it's one that deserved the attention that led to it being excavated in 1981, but it's really important that these things do get published and analyzed properly," Robinson said.

Original article on Live Science.

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 on: Yesterday at 01:07:42 pm 
Started by Krystal Coenen - Last post by Krystal Coenen

Poisonings went hand in hand with the drinking water in Pompeii

University of Southern Denmark


IMAGE: The lead pipe sample is being analyzed at University of Southern Denmark. view more 

Credit: SDU
The ancient Romans were famous for their advanced water supply. But the drinking water in the pipelines was probably poisoned on a scale that may have led to daily problems with vomiting, diarrhoea, and liver and kidney damage. This is the finding of analyses of water pipe from Pompeii.

- The concentrations were high and were definitely problematic for the ancient Romans. Their drinking water must have been decidedly hazardous to health.

This is what a chemist from University of Southern Denmark reveals: Kaare Lund Rasmussen, a specialist in archaeological chemistry. He analysed a piece of water pipe from Pompeii, and the result surprised both him and his fellow scientists. The pipes contained high levels of the toxic chemical element, antimony.

The result has been published in the journal Toxicology Letters.

Romans poisoned themselves
For many years, archaeologists have believed that the Romans' water pipes were problematic when it came to public health. After all, they were made of lead: a heavy metal that accumulates in the body and eventually shows up as damage to the nervous system and organs. Lead is also very harmful to children. So there has been a long-lived thesis that the Romans poisoned themselves to a point of ruin through their drinking water.

- However, this thesis is not always tenable. A lead pipe gets calcified rather quickly, thereby preventing the lead from getting into the drinking water. In other words, there were only short periods when the drinking water was poisoned by lead: for example, when the pipes were laid or when they were repaired: assuming, of course, that there was lime in the water, which there usually was, says Kaare Lund Rasmussen.

Instead, he believes that the Romans' drinking water may have been poisoned by the chemical element, antimony, which was found mixed with the lead.

Advanced equipment at SDU
Unlike lead, antimony is acutely toxic. In other words, you react quickly after drinking poisoned water. The element is particularly irritating to the bowels, and the reactions are excessive vomiting and diarrhoea that can lead to dehydration. In severe cases it can also affect the liver and kidneys and, in the worst-case scenario, can cause cardiac arrest.

This new knowledge of alarmingly high concentrations of antimony comes from a piece of water pipe found in Pompeii.

- Or, more precisely, a small metal fragment of 40 mg, which I obtained from my French colleague, Professor Philippe Charlier of the Max Fourestier Hospital, who asked if I would attempt to analyse it. The fact is that we have some particularly advanced equipment at SDU, which enables us to detect chemical elements in a sample and, ever more importantly, to measure where they occur in large concentrations.

Volcano made it even worse
Kaare Lund Rasmussen underlines that he only analysed this one little fragment of water pipe from Pompeii. It will take several analyses before we can get a more precise picture of the extent, to which Roman public health was affected.

But there is no question that the drinking water in Pompeii contained alarming concentrations of antimony, and that the concentration was even higher than in other parts of the Roman Empire, because Pompeii was located in the vicinity of the volcano, Mount Vesuvius. Antimony also occurs naturally in groundwater near volcanoes.

This is what the researchers did

The measurements were conducted on a Bruker 820 Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer.

The sample was dissolved in concentrated nitric acid. 2 mL of the dissolved sample was transferred to a loop and injected as an aerosol in a stream of argon gas which was heated to 6000 degrees C by the plasma.

All the elements in the sample were ionized and transferred as an ion beam into the mass spectrometer. By comparing the measurements against measurements on a known standard the concentration of each element is determined.

 on: Yesterday at 10:15:42 am 
Started by Behold, I am Death, Destroyer of Worlds - Last post by Behold, I am Death, Destroyer of Worlds

Standalone Obi-Wan Movie in Development with Director Stephen Daldry

Spencer PerryAug 17, 2017


Standalone Obi-Wan Movie in Development with Director Stephen Daldry

Standalone Obi-Wan movie in development with director Stephen Daldry

The Hollywood Reporter brings word that the “anthology” branch of Star Wars movies are about to gain another notable addition with the fan-favorite idea of an Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off film.

The trade reports that Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader) is in early talks to helm the feature and with no script in place, he would be able to oversee its development.

What fans have especially been eager for, however, is that Ewan McGregor would reprise as the character, having played him in Episodes 1, 2, and 3 of the franchise. THR notes that no actors are currently attached to the project, but McGregor has previously expressed a lot of interest in returning.

Between the events of Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV A New Hope, Obi-Wan lived in exile on Tatooine, having delivered the infant Luke Skywalker to his uncle and aunt. We do know that at one point, Owen Lars forbade Kenobi from speaking to Luke for fear that he would turn out like his dad, perhaps a moment that we will see in the upcoming film.

As the Skywalker family story continues to be told in the episodic films of Star Wars, Lucasfilm has sought to fill in the gaps of events in the franchise and tell origin stories with their standalone movies The first “Star Wars Story” was last year’s Rogue One, which pieced together just how the Rebels were able to get the Death Star plans during the events of Star Wars. The next standalone feature will be the untitled Han Solo movie, which has Ron Howard directing, after replacing Phil Lord and Chris Miller. It has also been previously reported that Lucasfilm is interested in Yoda and Boba Fett-centric movies.


 on: August 17, 2017, 01:15:45 pm 
Started by Starsius - Last post by Starsius

Captain Marvel movie enlists new screenwriter

Deadline brings word that a new screenwriter has been brought on to script the upcoming Captain Marvel movie starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson as the titular hero.

Marvel Studios has hired Geneva Robertson-Dworet to write the feature, having previously written other high profile female lead tentpoles, including the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot and a draft of Warner Bros.’ Gotham City Sirens. Writers Meg LeFauve (Inside Out) and Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) wrote the first draft of the feature.

It was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con that Captain Marvel will include Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, who will instead have both of his eyes in the feature because it will be set in the early ’90s. In addition, the antagonists for the film will be the alien race The Skrulls. A piece of concept art for the film was revealed at Comic-Con which you can view below.

RELATED: Brie Larson Shares Her Thoughts About the Captain Marvel Film

The directing pair of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Mississippi Grind) have signed on to direct the film. Kevin Feige will produce the film. Marvel Studios’ Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, and Jonathan Schwartz serve as Executive Producers alongside Stan Lee.

In the regular Marvel Comics continuity, Carol Danvers made her first appearance in 1968’s Marvel Super-Heroes #13. A Security Chief in the US air force, Danvers would later be transformed into the superhero Ms. Marvel following an explosion involving Kree technology. More recently, Danvers took on the identity of Captain Marvel after being “promoted” to the moniker of the former Kree superhero.

Captain Marvel is set to hit theaters on March 8, 2019 and will begin production next year in Los Angeles, California.


 on: August 17, 2017, 01:10:05 pm 
Started by Starsius - Last post by Starsius




Peru: 3000-year-old circular stone wall found in Cusco

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 Cusco (Cusco region), Aug. 11.
Experts from the Decentralized Culture Directorate of Cusco (DDCC) have unearthed architectural ruins dating back over 3,000 years in Marcavalle archaeological area, located in South-Andean Cusco region.

The finds include a 7-meter-diameter circular wall made of stone and mud belonging to pre-Inca Marcavalle culture in what is today a youth rehabilitation center.

According to Luz Marina Monroy, archaeologist in charge of the research, the ring-shaped structure would have been used as a dwelling and a ritual site.

Archaeologists also discovered part of a similar wall —believed to have been part of a workshop and warehouse— with signs of successive human occupation.

Inside both constructions, the experts found a large number of Marcavalle culture pottery fragments decorated with human and animal faces, obsidian points, stone tools, as well as stone and bone beads.


Other artifacts included needles and spatulas made out of animal bones; ceremonial figurines; dogs and camelid bone remains; as well as remains of seeds and products like corn and beans.

The discovery confirms Marcavalle culture developed at the time when Chavin and Paracas cultures ruled Ancash and Ica regions, respectively.

DDCC head Vidal Pino Zambrano underlined the enormous value of the finding, which is proof that Cusco saw "the first steps of Andean civilization, which found its ultimate expression in the Inca culture."

"We will continue to foster this research project, since Marcavalle is like a book one must keep reading in order to understand our history," Pino pointed out.


 Published: 8/11/2017

 on: August 17, 2017, 10:18:43 am 
Started by Kara Sundstrom - Last post by Kara Sundstrom


Archaeologists uncovered the fifth known Viking Age ring fortress in Denmark, which would have looked similar to this Swedish fortress reconstruction.

Antony McAulay

Thousand-year-old Viking fortress reveals a technologically advanced society

By Michael PriceAug. 16, 2017 , 3:02 PM

When archaeologists uncovered four ancient ring-shaped fortresses in Denmark in the 1930s, the find profoundly changed the way they thought about the Vikings that built them. Rather than mindless marauders, Vikings in the Middle Ages must have been a complex, technologically advanced people to build these fortifications. Now, Danish archaeologists have described a fifth ring fortress—the first such discovery in more than 60 years—revealing even more about these architecturally gifted warriors.

The new fortress, called Borgring, was found principally using an aerial, laser-based surveillance method called LIDAR, which returns an extremely high-resolution 3D ground map. It’s located on the Danish island Zealand, south of Copenhagen. The stronghold is a perfect circle with an outer diameter of 144 meters, and has four main gates crisscrossed by wood-paved roads. The outer ramparts were built from earth and timber. Counting tree rings from its timber reveals that, like its cousins, it was built sometime in the 970s or 980s.

Though they have been excavating Borgring since 2014, archaeologists published the first comprehensive overview of their findings this month in Antiquity. Science spoke with the study’s corresponding author, Søren Michael Sindbæk, an archaeologist at Aarhus University in Denmark, about the Viking fortress’s discovery and how it helps correct the record on a misunderstood people. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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Q: How did you discover the fortress?

A: It’s a bit of a detective story. I’ve been working with these ring fortresses for quite some time, and I came to the conclusion that their distribution didn’t make sense. There were gaps in the network of known fortresses where logically another fortress should have been. I went out looking for landscape features that matched those of the fortresses we knew already, namely accessibility to land and water routes. There were only a few locations in Denmark that really fit the pattern. The Danish state has made a high-resolution LIDAR image of the whole country, so we searched that and found this very, very big feature.

Søren Michael Sindbæk (left) and Nanna Holm (right) point to charred timbers found inside Borgring.

Museum of Southeast Denmark
Q: How did it go unseen for so long?

A: The agricultural activity around it was extremely destructive. For hundreds of years throughout the Middle Ages, peasants ploughed and leveled the field. When we came, the fortress’s ramparts were less than half a meter above the average level of the field. You could walk the field, and I might have a hard time convincing you there was anything at all, but the LIDAR image was decisive.

Q: Why did Vikings build ring-shaped fortresses?

A: The ring is the perfect shape for a fortress. It’s the shape that encompasses the greatest area within the smallest circumference. But there’s no need to make it a perfect circle, and that’s what distinguishes the Viking Age ring fortresses in Denmark. Clearly the person who built these Viking ring fortresses—and we think that was King Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson [who united Scandinavia, converted the Danes to Christianity and, more recently, lent his name to Bluetooth wireless technology], whose father was the first ruler of the Danish kingdom—wanted something more. All the fortresses share this strict geometry. Somebody with magnificent land-surveying skills was involved in this building work for no other reason than sheer prestige and to signal command and ability.

Q: Did the they invent the ring-shaped fortress?

A: No, they probably learned it from their own invasions in England. The people there built a network of fortifications about 100 years before our structures as a defense against the Vikings. It worked so well that the invaders could not get a foothold and had to turn back. It was a huge success for the Anglo-Saxon kings. So we believe that when ring fortresses then pop up in Denmark, it’s a copying of that strategy.

Q: What was fortress life like?

A: Most of the time, it would have been quite peaceful. They were really put there to make a statement that foreign armies shouldn’t even try. From previous fortress excavations, we know that it wasn’t just soldiers in them. There were women buried in burial grounds outside the fortress, as well as children’s graves. So presumably there was a group of people stationed there: the king’s men and their families.

Jonas Christensen (left) and Nanna Holm (right) excavating a trench at Borgring.

Museum of Southeast Denmark
Q: What have you learned about this fortress?

A: The biggest surprise is that, unlike the other fortresses that were abandoned after about 2 decades, this one appears to have been used for more than a generation after that. And we found a silver bracelet that is quite closely associated with silver rings, pendants, and other adornments that have been found at the other fortresses, so we can begin to link them together.

We also found the fortress had been attacked, and two of the gates were burned severely. We found a fantastic carpenter’s toolbox that had been left behind when it burned, with a woodworking plane, a nail iron for producing iron nails, awls, chisels, and a fragment of something called a back knife, which is another kind of plane—a little of everything.

Q: Do you know who attacked and burned it?

A: Unfortunately, no. Harald Bluetooth’s enemies, certainly. Since this fortress is located where the Baltic Sea runs against the Danish coast, the most likely people to come from that sea would be Swedish Vikings. And actually, just a few decades later, we have reports of a major battle between the Danish and the Swedes in just those waters.

Q: Why are these structures important?

A: These ring fortresses have been the biggest mystery in Viking archaeology since the 1930s. People couldn’t believe the Vikings in their own country built these structures. They thought foreign armies must have built them. But as we found more of these, we found it was indeed a Danish king and his Viking warriors, and for that reason they have been part of the most fundamental reassessment of what the Vikings were all about. They were warriors, obviously, but they were warriors out of a very organized society.

Posted in: Archaeology



Michael Price
Michael Price is a former scientific employment and training writer at Science Careers.
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‘Vanished’ people may live on in the U.S. Southwest

By Michael PriceAug. 8, 2017 , 3:17 PM

In the late 1200s, the Ancestral Puebloan people of what is today the Four Corners Region of the U.S. Southwest suddenly vanished. For centuries, the culture—also known as the Anasazi—had grown maize and built elaborate villages and sandstone castles. Then, it was gone. Now, using DNA extracted from ancient turkeys, researchers say they have new insights into where these mysterious people went, though some experts are skeptical of the findings.

“While I think the concept behind the study is a terrific idea, and they present a really plausible case … the evidence is a little weak,” says R. G. Matson, an anthropologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

Scientists think they know why the Ancestral Puebloans disappeared. The primary culprit, studies suggest, was a megadrought that would have made it impossible to grow enough food to feed the tens of thousands of people living in the region. That, combined with factors like deforestation and topsoil erosion, led the Ancestral Pueblos to leave their homes at Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde in search of a better life elsewhere.

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Where they migrated to remains a mystery, however. One of the prevailing theories—backed by modern Puebloan peoples’ own narratives and history—is that most relocated to the northern Rio Grande region of northwestern New Mexico, but that has not been conclusively proven by science. “[It] has long been a question in Southwest archaeology,” says Scott Ortman, an anthropologist at the University of Colorado in Boulder and co-author of the new study.

One reason is that scientists haven’t been able to tie the Ancestral Puebloans to other native populations because tribes in the region have been reluctant to give permission to analyze ancient human remains. So Ortman and a team of archaeologists and anthropologists led by molecular anthropologist Brian Kemp at the University of Oklahoma in Norman turned to the next best thing: the DNA of the animals these ancient people domesticated.

These leg bones from an adult male turkey were discovered in an Ancestral Puebloan site in southwestern Colorado.

Robin Lyle
They analyzed the mitochondrial DNA—the maternally inherited genetic material that lives in a cell’s energy producing machinery—of hundreds of samples of turkey bones, which are plentiful and well-preserved at the Ancestral Puebloans’ homeland near Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado. The researchers compared the genetic material from Mesa Verde turkeys to turkeys found in the northern Rio Grande region before and after the Ancestral Puebloans disappeared.

Before 1280, the two turkey populations were unrelated in the maternal line, the team found. But afterward, the northern Rio Grande turkeys carried Mesa Verde “haplogroups”—clusters of genes inherited together as a group—indicating they were descended at least in part from the Ancestral Puebloans’ stock.

The most likely explanation, the researchers argue in PLOS ONE, is that the Ancestral Puebloans left Mesa Verde around 1280 and brought their turkeys with them. This transplanted line of turkeys then replaced those that lived in northern Rio Grande before their arrival.

The implication is that many of the Ancestral Puebloans appear to have joined a smaller population already living in the northern Rio Grande region, says Ortman; their descendants form the Tewa Pueblo population that still lives there today. That conclusion fits previous research that found telling similarities between the face shapes of modern Tewa and Ancestral Puebloans, he says.

“I think our study is a good illustration of the value of curation,” he says. “The people who collected these turkey bones had no idea that one day we would get DNA out of them and use them to answer questions about ancient human migration.”

Matson doesn’t doubt the migration story, but he has concerns about the validity of the DNA evidence in the study. Some of the turkey DNA sequences are incomplete, because of deterioration, and the haplogroups varied depending on how complete the sequences were. “This bizarre difference … creates some doubt about the evidence,” he says.

Bruce Bernstein, a tribal historic preservation officer in the Pueblo of Pojoaque, New Mexico, says the study adds some valuable insight into the lives of Pueblo people’s ancestors. “People don’t need their own history to be verified by archaeology, but they are interested in having science work alongside them, not in spite of them,” he says. “This is a good example of work that fills in some gaps in what Tewa people have talked about.”

Posted in: Archaeology,


 on: August 16, 2017, 01:09:38 pm 
Started by Kristina - Last post by Kristina
40 eerie images of abandoned transportation from around the world

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