Wednesday, December 01, 2004

"Neanderthal. N-E-A-N-D-E-R-T-H-A-L. Neanderthal." Neandertals Beaten by Rivals' Word Skills, Study Says

Ever since evidence of Neandertals was discovered in Germany in 1856, the question of what happened to them has captured the popular imagination.

This hairy, thickset species of human vanished some 35,000 years ago. Neandertals' disappearance coincided with an influx of modern humans (Homo sapiens) to Europe and western Asia, leading scientists to speculate that the two events are closely linked.

Now a new study, published tomorrow in the journal Nature, suggests that the modern humans' more sophisticated communication skills may have helped to finish off the Neandertals (Homo neanderthalensis).

The study's author, Paul Mellars, professor of prehistory and human evolution at Cambridge University in England, bases his theory on existing evidence.

This idea also made a splash some years back with the discovery of a "language gene" that may have been a key mutation enabling complex speech in modern humans.

What about Stuckey's? Welcome to the Little Chef of the ancient world

Their dried-out food, cheerless service and overpriced petrol have made motorway service stations the bane of modern travel.

However, archaeologists have found evidence that they are not such a modern phenomenon after uncovering the remains of the Roman equivalent of Newport Pagnell services.

Deep beneath a bus terminus in the town of Neuss, near Dusseldorf, they have found the 2,000-year-old foundations of a roadside rest-stop complete with forecourt, chariot workshop, restaurant and an area to give horses water and hay.

Now, this is cool Radiologists help provide worldwide access to ancient art

Using computed tomography (CT)and 3-D modeling, radiologists are assisting in the restoration and display of a 5,300-year-old Egyptian mummy mask. This is the first time that CT and 3-D modeling were used to study, preserve and display an antiquity with an outer and inner surface, according to research presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

"Previously, radiologists have focused on the mummy itself," said Douglas D. Robertson, M.D., Ph.D, associate professor of radiology and director of the musculoskeletal imaging and biomechanics lab at the University of Pittsburgh. "With this project, we focused on the mask as a work of art. We hoped not only to conserve the mask, but also to create a virtual reality replica that would allow worldwide access via the Internet."

Antiquities Market update Iran Recovers 940 Stolen Antiquities, Arrests 36

Iranian police have smashed an antiquities smuggling ring, arresting 36 people and recovering more than 940 stolen treasures, the Web site of the state Cultural Heritage Organization said Tuesday.

Police in the central Zagros mountain province of Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari recovered gold and silver coins, swords, figurines, vases, mirrors and inscribed tablets from pre-Islamic dynasties such as the Seleucids and Sassanids.

Looting of archaeological sites has been widespread in Iran, with private collectors in Europe and the United States offering high prices for masterpieces of Persian art.

Iran is belatedly turning up the pressure on smugglers through a special task force. Two smugglers were sentenced to hang earlier this year.

That's the whole thing. Score one for the good guys.

Don't know if hanging is actually appropriate though. . . . .

Another interesting way to preserve a body Second Salt Man discovered in northwest Iran

A miner working at the Hamzehlu salt mine near Zanjan in northwest Iran recently discovered the remains of a skeleton of a man buried in the salt.

According to the director of the Zanjan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department, Yahya Rahmati, the new skeleton is only the second Salt Man ever discovered in the world.

“The remains of the skeleton are almost perfect, and they include parts of the skull, jaw, both arms, as well as the left and right legs and feet,” he said, adding that part of the skin, nails, and hair are also in good condition.

Seems a bit pricey Bronze age boat to be recreated

Archaeologists are planning to build a copy of an ancient boat found in Dover and sail it from Britain to France.

The £200,000 project is intended to demonstrate how the boat might have been used thousands of years ago.

The boat is one of the best preserved examples of a coastal vessel from the bronze age and was found in a chance discovery in 1992.

Funding is now needed and the project could attract EU money thanks to a partnership with French museums.

News from. . . .Mainichi? Unearthed painting fragments point to ancient fire in Nara

Numerous fragments of burned wall paintings have been unearthed at Nara Prefecture's Horyuji Temple, underscoring descriptions in ancient literature of a fire that broke out in 670.

Officials of the Ikaruga Municipal Board of Education said they believed wall-painting fragments found near the famous Minami Daimon gate of Horyuji Temple were those from a hall in the temple, which was built in the early 7th century.

It's in Japan.

We are also happy to report that, in a link from the same page, a wounded duck was successfully captured, treated, and released. This part gave us the giggles:

The vet and others prepared a canoe and headed out onto the pond, using a landing net to chase it.

After someone fell out of the canoe and the bird escaped from the net, much to the amusement of onlookers, they finally managed to capture it and free it from its plight.