20 AVRIL 2018: Raunds - Champ-Durand - Guernesey -
INSTITUT SUPERIEUR D'ANTHROPOLOGIE
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ROYAUME UNI – Raunds - Builders have uncovered the henge, which is 100m (330ft) in diameter, at Warth Park in Raunds, Northamptonshire. However, archaeologists say that site, known as Cotton Henge, has previously been investigated twice before. Oxford Archaeology East, working on behalf of developer Roxhill, said the henge was first identified by aerial photography in the 1970s. They added that it was likely to date from the late Neolithic period (circa 3000BC -2500BC) and forms part of a larger group of ceremonial landscape features located and excavated as part of the Raunds Area Project. The current archaeological work is the first time the henge has been uncovered in full. But Matthew Nicholas, Historic England's science advisor for the East Midlands, tempered excitement by saying it was "not a new discovery". He said the monument "was studied carefully in the 1980s and 90s, but there were still some unanswered questions about its function". Excavations are planned to continue for a few more weeks.
FRANCE – Champ-Durand - A hole in the skull of a Stone Age cow was likely made by humans about 5,000 years ago, probably by a primitive veterinarian or trainee surgeon, scientists said Thursday. The hole appears to have been painstakingly carved into the animal's head, but whether it was an operation to save the cow or practice for surgery on humans, was not clear, a duo of anthropologists reported in the journal Scientific Reports. Either way, the puncture does seem to represent the earliest known example of veterinary "trepanation" -- the boring of a hole into the skull, they said. "There are many Neolithic (human) skulls in Europe which bear the marks of trepanation. But we have never seen it in animals," co-author Fernando Ramirez Rozzi of France's CNRS research institute told AFP. The Neolithic era was the closing chapter of the Stone Age -- a time when prehistoric humans, hunter-gatherer nomads until then, first tried their hand at cultivating crops and building permanent villages. The cow skull comes from an archaeological site in western France, inhabited by a Stone Age community between 3,400 and 3,000 BC.It was thought at first that the matchbox-sized hole was made when the cow was gored by a horned rival in a fight. But on closer inspection with high-definition scanners, the team found no splintering or fractures consistent with such a strong blow. The puncture was too regular to have been the work of a gnawing pest, nor did it appear to have been made by a tumour or infectious disease, such as syphilis or tuberculosis, as the skull showed no other signs of sickness. Religious ritual also seemed an unlikely explanation, as the skull was thrown away with the rubbish. Cut- and scrape marks were found around the hole, said Rozzi -- similar to those seen on Neolithic human skulls into which holes had been bored. "I believe that the evidence of trepanation is indisputable," the researcher added. "It is the only possible explanation." But why would a Stone Age human operate on an animal? "There are two possible explanations," according to Rozzi. "Either they were treating the cow, or they were practicing on it before trying their hand at surgery on humans." The first option seemed unlikely, he added, given that cows were in such abundance. The team could not determine whether the hole was made while the cow was still alive, or after it died. The bone, however, had not started regrowing around the hole, which showed the cow either did not survive the operation, if there was one, or was cut post-mortem.
ROYAUME UNI – Guernesey - A tiny fragment of charcoal has led to a St Saviour’s dolmen being named as the oldest passage grave of its type on the Channel Islands. The news came as a surprise to local experts, as the unusual structure on the Catioroc headland at the western end of Perelle Bay had been thought to be one of the more modern dolmens. But a dig last summer saw a fragment of charcoal discovered, which gave a date of around 4400BC – making the grave more than 6,000 years old. Last summer’s dig at Le Trepied was a collaboration between the States of Guernsey and the Clifton Antiquarian Club. States archaeologist Dr Phil de Jersey said this was now the oldest reliably dated dolmen. As the dolmen is smaller than graves like Les Vardes, Mr Waite said there had been a perception that Le Trepied was more modern. ‘But maybe now we can turn that on its head,’ he said. The oldest burial tomb of any kind in the Channel Islands is Les Fouaillages long mound, at Les Amarreurs, which has been dated to about 4900 BC. But that is much smaller than the more commonly known dolmens and of a different design. This was the early neolithic era, where islanders were using stone, flint and wooden tools, and were just starting to make stone axes. It is believed that they first started settling about 5000BC, which could explain the start of the grave monuments. Dr de Jersey said Les Fouaillages was a much smaller grave, with smaller stones, so would have been easier for a few people to build. But Le Trepied would have been a big project, requiring a team. ‘The middle stone at Le Trepied is about five tons,’ said Dr de Jersey. He said that possibly the larger dolmen was a sign that the community was growing. The speck of charcoal was found under the remnants of the mound that would have once covered the tomb and was dated to between 4400BC and 4300BC. A second sample from the chamber entrance was from 3000–2900 BC, suggesting the tomb was used repeatedly over a long period. Mr Waite said they believed the charcoal could have come from when the site was cleared to allow the grave to be built. Two other Channel Island passage graves have previously been radiocarbon dated. Le Dehus in the Vale was dated to 4100BC from a human bone in the chamber. A construction phase at La Hougue Bie on Jersey has also been dated to a similar period.