15/01/2020 NEWS




KURDISTAN – Udmain Duhok -  A group of Italian archaeologists from the University of Udine in Italy has made significant progress at an ancient site in the Kurdistan Region’s Duhok province. Il Giornale Dell’Arte published some photos of the excavation site on Tuesday, describing the recent progress as “extraordinary.” The new discovery includes the uncovering of 10 new rock inscriptions that show “the Assyrian ruler Sargon in the presence of divinity,” which date back to 705-720 BC. The discovery took place along an ancient irrigation canal approximately seven kilometers long in the Faida district, located 20 kilometers south of Duhok. The joint project, called “Land of Nineveh,” began in August 2012 with support from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the University of Udine in Italy.  The group of archaeologists intend to make new discoveries during their excavation campaign in 2020 and apply for the site to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Il Giornale Dell’Arte said.

Photos = https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/cd87152e-5db2-481a-a5c5-70d573e41ef5

RUSSIE - Byzovaya - More than 1,000 miles from Moscow, Byzovaya sits on a river bluff in the foothills of the Ural Mountains, which form the border between Europe and Asia. At 65 degrees latitude, the site is about 100 miles shy of the Arctic Circle. Beginning in the 1960s, Byzovaya has been excavated several times by different research groups. Over the years, archaeologists have unearthed more than 300 stone artifacts and 4,000 animal bones, mostly from woolly mammoth. Handcrafted tools and butchered bones prove some kind of humans (a group that includes Neanderthals) were once there, but leave unanswered the mystery of who these people were. The latest investigation, by a French-Russian team, produced 33 radiocarbon dates from animal bones found with the artifacts. The new data suggest the finds are 31,400 to 34,600 years old. On its own, that result is exciting, but also agrees with expectations: Other archaeological sites 30,000 to 43,000 years old dot the Urals. And a few sites this age or slightly older have been found even farther north, within the Arctic Circle. Most researchers assume H. sapiens alone occupied these locales — that only our species had the smarts and technology (like tailored clothing and boots) necessary to survive at such high latitudes. But the Byzovaya study caused a stir because of its other, more provocative conclusion. The artifacts were made by Neanderthals — the last and northernmost of their kind. The trouble with the claim: No Neanderthal — or any human — fossils have been found at Byzovaya. Just stone tools and animal bones. To definitively prove a Neanderthal presence, researchers would need bones bearing Neanderthal DNA. Lacking this, the conclusion comes from analysis of the 313 stone artifacts recovered from Byzovaya. Based on comparisons with well-accepted Neanderthal sites in central and eastern Europe, the scientists contend the tool types and style of craftsmanship are distinctly Neanderthal. Contemporaneous H. sapiens in Eurasia didn’t make stuff like that, they argue. Which brings us back to the stalemate over Byzovaya. Different researchers, viewing the same material, came to differing conclusions. Another group of stone-tool experts thinks the finds more closely resemble artifacts from similarly aged sites in western Russia that have H. sapiens skeletons. In this view, Byzovaya was just another modern human spot. To date, there are still no DNA-bearing human fossils from Byzovaya. But ancient genomes have been recovered from other sites, which figure into the debate. There’s now DNA data confirming, beyond doubt, the H. sapiens status of skeletons from two western Russian sites (Kostenki and Sungir) with artifacts similar to those from Byzovaya. This strengthens the case that H. sapiens occupied Byzovaya. Except that the sites are not that close: From Byzovaya, it’s more than 700 and 1,000 miles to Sungir and Kostenki, respectively. They’re just the sites nearest in both time and space, with fossils as well as similar-looking artifacts. And the nearest sites with DNA-confirmed Neanderthals are roughly double the distance, far to the south (Okladnikov, Denisova and Mezmaiskaya). We still don’t know which humans left artifacts and butchered animals at Byzovaya. They may have been Earth’s last Neanderthals or modern humans venturing polar-ward. Alternatively, the group could have comprised a mix of Neanderthals and H. sapiens, or even another type of human, like Denisovans. Given the vastness of the Eurasian landmass, it’s highly possible some groups of Neanderthals persisted in remote pockets — missing the memo their species was destined for extinction.


TANZANIE – Olduvai stone tools Olduvai Gorge - As far back as the Early Stone Age people were engineering stone tools in complex ways to ensure they were right for the job, according to new research in Tanzania’s famous Olduvai Gorge. Mechanical testing of raw materials and artefacts by British and Spanish scientists has revealed that Palaeolithic hominins selected different raw materials for different tools based on how sharp, durable and efficient they were. They made these decisions in conjunction with information about the length of time the tools would be used for and the force with which they could be applied. This, the researchers say, reveals previously unseen complexity in the design and production of stone tools during this period. The research, which employed experimental methods more commonly used in modern engineering, was led by anthropologist Alastair Key from the University of Kent, UK, and is described in the journal Royal Society Interface. Key and colleagues found that hominins preferentially selected quartzite, the sharpest but least durable stone type at Olduvai for flake tools – a technology thought to have been used for expedient, short-lived cutting activities. Whenever it was available, chert – which was identified as being highly durable and nearly as sharp as quartzite – was favoured for a variety of stone tool types due to its ability to maximise cutting performance over extended tool-use durations. Other stone types, including highly durable lavas, were available, but their use varied according to factors such as how long a tool was intended to be used for, a tool's potential to create high cutting forces, and the distance hominins had to travel to raw material sources. Previous research has demonstrated that Early Stone Age populations in Kenya to select highly durable stone types for tools, but Key says the new study is the first to find evidence of cutting-edge sharpness being considered. Why Olduvai populations preferentially chose one raw material over another has puzzled archaeologists for more than 60 years,” he says. This has been made all the more intriguing given that some stone types, including lavas and quartzite, were always available."What we've been able to demonstrate is that our ancestors were making quite complex decisions about which raw materials to use and were doing so in a way that produced tools optimised for specific circumstances.Although we knew that later hominin species, including our own, were capable of such decisions, it's amazing to think that populations 1.8 to 1.2 million years ago were also doing so.”


SUISSE – Swiss 01 Swiss 02 Thoune - Archaeologists are diving into Switzerland’s Lake Thun to rescue the remains of Bronze Age pile dwellings before they wash away. According to canton Bern’s education and culture authorities, the 3,500-year-old settlement is endangered by erosion and likely to disappear soon. From January through March, the divers will be working in front of Schadau Castle. Initial investigations revealed that the northern area of the site was in a worrying condition. The last remains of the pile dwellings now lie unprotected at the bottom of the lake. The erosion, which washes away up to 50cm of sediment per year, is caused by the strong natural current of the Aare river as well as boat traffic.In 2014, a recreational diver turned in various bronze objects that he had found in Lake Thun. Archaeologists immediately launched an investigation and soon found piles and ceramic shards, which were clearly from prehistoric settlements. The piles date from the early Bronze Age, circa 1590 to 1540 BC. The three-month rescue excavation aims to document the valuable evidence before it disappears. Before the discovery five years ago, pile dwellings were hardly known in Lake Thun. However, graves from the Early Bronze Age had been found in Thun, Hilterfingen, Amsoldingen and Spiez. Meanwhile, several settlements from the early and late Bronze Ages have been found in the area. According to archaeologists, their dimensions are considerable and are in no way inferior to the large lakeside settlements on the edge of the Jura.

ARMENIE – Artashat - Archaeologists have discovered a 2nd century aqueduct during excavations in Artashat, a town in the province of Ararat 30 km southeast of Yerevan.  The water bridge was constructed sometime between 114-117, according to Pavel Avetisyan – the Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences. He said the finding is a “huge water supply structure”. We have unearthed the foundations of this aqueduct. 20 foundations were unearthed in one kilometer territory”, Avetisyan said. He said studies will actively continue in 2020 to understand what has been preserved and what can be excavated in the “legendary capital city of Artashat”. Founded by King Artashes I in 176 BC, Artashat served as the capital of the Kingdom of Armenia from 185 BC until 120 AD. Moreover, experts have revealed that several massive royal palace buildings have been recorded in what near the highway leading to Khor Virap outside Artashat. The foundations of these structures have been preserved and are currently on lands that is privately owned. Avetisyan said they will work in this direction also.