Scientists Are Investigating Signs of Ancient Human Civilization Underwater

Archaeologists are trying to piece together the mystery of an underwater trail of ancient rock piles, or cairns, that stretch for miles under the shimmering waters of Lake Constance, a glacial lake that lies between Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, and which appear to have been made by humans who lived some 5,500 years ago, according to a 2021 study.

The huge cairns have attracted public attention and expert debate ever since they were first discovered in 2015 by the Institute for Lake Research in Langenargen. Roughly 170 of these rock formations are arranged in a line under the shallow waters of Lake Constance, several hundred feet from its southwest Swiss shore. 

A team led by Urs Leuzinger, an archaeologist at the Museum of Archaeology of the Canton of Thurgau, have amassed compelling evidence that the rock formations were made by humans who lived in the area during the Neolithic period. 

The piles are several dozen feet wide, with heights of up to six feet, distinguishing them as impressive structures that would have required a lot of effort and time to build, though “the function of this 10-kilometer long prehistoric feature remains enigmatic,” according to a 2021 study published in the Annual Review of Swiss Archaeology. The findings of this study will be presented in a pop-up exhibit this week called “Bodensee Stonehenge” (meaning Lake Constance Stonehenge) at the Office for Archaeology Thurgau.

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The Remains of This Recently Found Ancient Structure Are Even Older Than The Pyramids

Archaeologists digging near Prague have discovered the remains of a Stone Age structure that’s older than Stonehenge and even the Egyptian pyramids: an enigmatic complex known as a roundel.

Nearly 7,000 years ago during the late Neolithic, or New Stone Age, a local farming community may have gathered in this circular building, although its true purpose is unknown.

The excavated roundel is large – about 180 feet (55 meters) in diameter, or about as long as the Leaning Tower of Pisa is tall, Radio Prague International reported.

And while “it is too early to say anything about the people building this roundel”, it’s clear that they were part of the Stroked Pottery culture, which flourished between 4900 BCE and 4400 BCE, Jaroslav Řídký, a spokesperson for the Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IAP) and an expert on the Czech Republic’s roundels, told Live Science in an email.

Miroslav Kraus, director of the roundel excavation in the district of Vinoř on behalf of the IAP, said that revealing the structure could give them a clue about the use of the building.

Researchers first learned about the Vinoř roundel’s existence in the 1980s, when construction workers were laying gas and water pipelines, according to Radio Prague International, but the current dig has revealed the structure’s entirety for the first time.

So far, his team has recovered pottery fragments, animal bones, and stone tools in the ditch fill, according to Řídký.

Carbon-dating organic remains from this roundel excavation could help the team pinpoint the date of the structure’s construction and possibly link it with a Neolithic settlement discovered nearby.

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Brochs: The mysterious circular symbols of Scotland

Travel north through Scotland’s deep glens, its mist and mountains and its velvety moorland and you’ll eventually see them: crumbling stone towers rising against the Highland peaks like ancient crag-top castles. These mysterious Iron Age monuments are known as brochs and they exist nowhere else but here. Yet, while these circular dry-walled structures are as symbolic a feature as any in the Scottish Highlands, their purpose remains unknown.

What is known is that around 2,000 years ago, local tribes started harvesting local stone to build massive prehistoric buildings with walls 5m thick and stretching 13m high. To date, anywhere from 100 to 500 broch sites have been identified, with the densest concentration centred in Scotland’s northern Caithness and Sutherland counties, as well as the Northern Isles.

While early archaeologists thought that brochs (whose name derives from the Lowland Scottish word for “fort”) were the citadels of local chieftains, more recent excavations suggest that the structures were more likely used for residential rather than defensive purposes.

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Archeologists Discover Evidence Of Oldest Surgical Amputation In One-Legged Skeleton

Archeologists discovered what they believe to be evidence of the oldest known surgical amputation: a 31,000-year-old one-legged skeleton, according to a paper published Wednesday. 

Australian and Indonesian researchers excavated the skeleton in 2020 from a limestone cave in the Indonesian section of Borneo, an island divided between Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. The skeleton, missing its lower left leg, is the oldest known example of surgical amputation, according to a report published in Nature. 

“It was a huge surprise that this ancient forager survived a very serious and life threatening childhood operation,” University of Sydney bioarchaeologist Melandri Vlok said, adding “that the wound healed to form a stump, and that they lived for years in mountainous terrain with altered mobility – suggesting a high degree of community care.” 

Researchers say the amputation was successfully performed on a child, who likely lived between 6 and 9 years after the procedure. The report called the discovery “unexpectedly early evidence” of a successful operation of its kind, leading researchers to believe people of the time, at least in tropical Asia, had medical knowledge and skills not previously attributed to the time period. 

The body’s remains were placed in the Liang Tebo cave on Indonesian Borneo, the third largest island in the world, in the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan. The area is also known for having some of the earliest-dated rock art in the world. 

Prior to this discovery, the earliest known evidence of an amputation “operation” was a 7,000-year-old skeleton of a European farmer’s left forearm, just above the elbow, which was found in France. According to the report, this amputation partially healed and would have required technical skills and knowledge of human anatomy. 

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Archeologists Unearth ‘Vampire’ Buried in Poland Pinned By Sickle in Her Grave

The local population has believed that some of their neighbors could be vampires and return from the dead to feast on the living for centuries. The superstition led to some unusual burial techniques for those suspected to be a vampire. How locals determined if a person was undead, however, remains unclear.

Archeologists from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland have unearthed an unusual, if not unique, grave of a “vampire” – at least so thought to be by relatives or those who buried her near the city of Pień, Poland in the 17th century.

Was it the pale skin, nasty temperament, midnight shenanigans or distaste for garlic and silverware? Researchers do not know what led locals to believe that the woman was a vampire, but they sure did try to make sure she never rose from the grave again. The deceased was pinned in her tomb by a sickle, with the sharp edge touching her neck so that if she had second thoughts about dying, she would cut her head off trying to escape the coffin.

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Gender activists push to bar anthropologists from identifying human remains as ‘male’ or ‘female’

As soon as ancient human remains are excavated, archaeologists begin the work of determining a number of traits about the individual, including age, race and gender.

But a new school of thought within archaeology is pushing scientists to think twice about assigning gender to ancient human remains.

It is possible to determine whether a skeleton is from a biological male or female using objective observations based on the size and shape of the bones. Criminal forensic detectives, for example, do it frequently in their line of work.

But gender activists argue scientists cannot know how an ancient individual identified themselves.

“You might know the argument that the archaeologists who find your bones one day will assign you the same gender as you had at birth, so regardless of whether you transition, you can’t escape your assigned sex,” tweeted Canadian Master’s degree candidate Emma Palladino last week.

Palladino, who is seeking an advanced degree in archaeology, called assigning gender to an ancient human “bullshit.”

“Labelling remains ‘male’ or ‘female’ is rarely the end goal of any excavation, anyway,” wrote Palladino. “The ‘bioarchaeology of the individual’ is what we aim for, factoring in absolutely everything we discover about a person into a nuanced and open-ended biography of their life.”

She is not alone. Gender activists have formed a group called the Trans Doe Task Force to “explore ways in which current standards in forensic human identification do a disservice to people who do not clearly fit the gender binary.”

“We propose a gender-expansive approach to human identification by combing missing and unidentified databases looking for contextual clues such as decedents wearing clothing culturally coded to a gender other than their assigned sex,” the group’s mission statement reads.

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9,000-year-old ritual complex found in Jordan desert

Archaeologists deep in the Jordanian desert have discovered a 9,000-year-old ritualistic complex near what is thought to be the earliest known large human-built structure worldwide.

The Stone Age shrine site, excavated last year, was used by gazelle hunters and features carved stone figures, an altar and a miniature model of a large-scale hunting trap.

The giant game traps the model represents — so-called “desert kites” — were made of long walls that converge to corral running gazelles into enclosures or holes for slaughter.

Similar structures of two or more stone walls, some several kilometres (miles) long, have been found in deserts across Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and Kazakhstan.

The Neolithic-era ritual site was discovered inside a larger campsite last October by a joint French-Jordanian team called the South Eastern Badia Archaeological Project.

The nearby desert kites in Jibal al-Khashabiyeh are “the earliest large-scale human built structures worldwide known to date,” said a statement by the SEBA Project.

It hailed the “spectacular and unprecedented discovery” of the ritualistic site, believed to date to about 7000 BC.

It featured two steles with anthropomorphic features, the taller one 1.12 metres high, other artefacts including animal figurines, flints, and some 150 arranged marine fossils.

The wider, decade-old research project aims to study “the first pastoral nomadic societies, as well as the evolution of specialised subsistence strategies”.

The desert kites suggest “extremely sophisticated mass hunting strategies, unexpected in such an early timeframe,” said the project’s statement.

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Archaeologists Claim They’ve Discovered the Trojan Horse in Turkey

Turkish archaeologists claim they have found what they believe are pieces of the Trojan Horse. According to a report by newsit.gr, Turkish archaeologists excavating the site of the historical city of Troy on the hills of Hisarlik have unearthed a large wooden structure. Historians and archaeologists think what they have discovered are remains of the legendary Trojan Horse.

The excavations brought to light dozens of fir planks and beams up to 15 meters (49 feet) long. The remnants were assembled in a strange form, that led the experts to suspect they belong to the Trojan Horse. The wooden structure was inside the walls of the ancient city of Troy.

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Sensational archaeological find uncovers “Ukrainian Stonehenge” in eastern Ukraine

A team of Ukrainian archaeologists has almost completed excavations of an ancient kurgan (burial mound, sacred hill) which historians claim is older than the Egyptian pyramids.

The archaeologists state that this “Ukrainian Stonehenge”, an ancient burial ground, is more than 5,300-5,500 years old, dating back to the Bronze Age.

There are numerous kurgans scattered throughout eastern and southern Ukraine and archaeologists and historians are worried that, in many cases, urban sprawl will lead to the destruction of these ancient burial mounds. Thus, they are rushing to excavate as many of them as possible in order to save and preserve priceless items from bulldozers and rapid urbanization.

Such a mound was found near the village of Novooleksandrivka, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. Items and artefacts discovered in this almost eight-meter hill bear witness to the flourishing of Indo-Aryan tribes who developed an elaborate burial tradition used by the entire population. These tombs illustrate unique characteristics, not only in terms of their number, density and scale, but also in terms of details such as burial chambers, burial gifts and mummified bodies.

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Archaeologist Solves Mystery of the Phaistos Disc in Greece

The mystery of the Phaistos Disc has been “solved by 99 percent” says linguist, archaeologist and coordinator of the program Erasmus of Crete Technological Institute; Gareth Owens.

Owens has devoted 30 years in trying to solve the puzzle. The Minoan goddess of love, Astarte, who is linked to the Eastern goddess Ashtart, is the key figure that unlocks the mystery of the Phaistos Disc, Owen argues.

The Phaistos Disc is a disk of fired clay from the Minoan palace of Phaistos on the island of Crete, possibly dating to the middle or late Minoan Bronze Age (second millennium B.C.).

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