Saturday, 20 December 2008

Reading Bones to Unlock Mysteries of the Evolution of Hunting and Warfare

Read any good bones lately?

Visiting biological anthropologist Jill Rhodes has, and they may provide some of the earliest evidence of when modern humans started doing something that would have been a pivotal development in the evolution of hunting and warfare—something we all take for granted.

New research by Rhodes and Steven E. Churchill of Duke University published in the Journal of Human Evolution addresses the question of when human hunters added long-range projectile weapons (those thrown overhead) to their arsenal and whether this was a hunting method also employed by Neandertals of the time.

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Friday, 12 December 2008

Medieval Teutonic knights' remains found in Poland

Polish archaeologists said this week that they had identified the remains of three leaders of the Teutonic Knights, an armed religious order that ruled swathes of the country centuries ago.

"Anthropological and DNA testing has enabled us to back up the theory that these are the remains of the grand masters. We can be 96 percent certain," Bogumil Wisniewski, head of a team which found the skeletons, told AFP on Thursday.

Wisniewski said his team was convinced the men were Werner von Orseln, who led the knights from 1324-1330, Ludolf Koenig (1342-1345), and Heinrich von Plauen (1410-1413).

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Friday, 21 November 2008

Money for castle repairs rejected

A councillor has lost his fight to restore a castle, but says his campaign will go on.

Monmouthshire councillors rejected Tony Easson's call for funding to be "sourced immediately" by the authority to make repairs to Caldicot Castle.

Problems include the roof of the south-west tower leaking and windows rotting in the banqueting hall.

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Monday, 17 November 2008

Mary Rose sunk by French cannonball

For almost 500 years, the sinking of the Mary Rose has been blamed on poor seamanship and the fateful intervention of a freak gust of wind which combined to topple her over.

Now, academics believe the vessel, the pride of Henry VIII's fleet, was actually sunk by a French warship – a fact covered up by the Tudors to save face.

The Mary Rose, which was raised from the seabed in 1982 and remains on public display in Portsmouth, was sunk in 1545, as Henry watched from the shore, during the Battle of The Solent, a clash between the English fleet and a French invasion force.

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New dawn for knights of old

The sword is the stuff of legend, jousting knights and the fabled Round Table of King Arthur.

In medieval times, no weapon was as clinically deadly as the sharpened longsword. But many centuries-old fighting styles were forgotten with the invention of gunpowder, which left swords obsolete.

Now, Bradford group Scola Gladiatoria is reviving some of the lost styles of European martial arts in a movement which is rapidly growing in popularity.

Thousands of martial arts enthusiasts are now practising medieval sword-fighting in countries including the USA, Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium and Italy.

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Thursday, 13 November 2008

How warfare shaped human evolution

IT'S a question at the heart of what it is to be human: why do we go to war? The cost to human society is enormous, yet for all our intellectual development, we continue to wage war well into the 21st century.

Now a new theory is emerging that challenges the prevailing view that warfare is a product of human culture and thus a relatively recent phenomenon. For the first time, anthropologists, archaeologists, primatologists, psychologists and political scientists are approaching a consensus. Not only is war as ancient as humankind, they say, but it has played an integral role in our evolution.

The theory helps explain the evolution of familiar aspects of warlike behaviour such as gang warfare. And even suggests the cooperative skills we've had to develop to be effective warriors have turned into the modern ability to work towards a common goal.

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Animated Bayeux Tapestry

This is a clever and amusing animation of the second part of the Bayeux Tapestry (from Harold’s coronation to his death in battle).

The animation was prepared by David Newton, a freelance graphic designer.

Watch the video...

One thousand year old Danish shield discovered

Danish archaeologists say they have found a well-preserved Viking shield that is more than 1,000 years old. Archaeologist Kirsten Christensen said the wooden shield has a diameter of 80 centimetres (32 inches). It was found Tuesday during excavations near Viking-age castles, some 100 kilometres west of Copenhagen.

Christensen said Thursday it is the first time such a shield has been found in Denmark. She said the moist soil in the area is "ideal to preserve wood."

The fir shield is believed to date from the late 10th century. Danish Vikings launched bloody raids along the coasts of Western Europe about 1,000 years ago and even occupied parts of England.

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Viking Age Triggered by Shortage of Wives?

During the Viking Age from the late eighth to the mid-eleventh centuries, Scandinavians tore across Europe attacking, robbing and terrorizing locals. According to a new study, the young warriors were driven to seek their fortunes to better their chances of finding wives.

The odd twist to the story, said researcher James Barrett, is that it was the selective killing of female newborns that led to a shortage of Scandinavian women in the first place, resulting later in intense competition over eligible women.

"Selective female infanticide was recorded as part of pagan Scandinavian practice in later medieval sources, such as the Icelandic sagas," Barrett, who is deputy director of Cambridge University's McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, told Discovery News.

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Viking longship returns to home port after epic sail

THE VIKING replica longship Sea Stallion returns to home waters in Roskilde today, after a 2,800 nautical-mile round trip between Denmark and Ireland.

The return of the ship with 60 multinational crew - under sail or rowing, depending on weather - will be greeted by countless vessels at sea, and up to 10,000 people ashore.

Young pupils from Dublin's St Patrick's Cathedral School and choir, along with members of Dublin Civil Defence were among an Irish welcoming party who flew to Denmark from Dublin yesterday.

The Sea Stallion, known in Danish as Havhingsten fra Glendalough, left Dublin port on June 29th, and navigated via the southern English coast and Holland. Project leader Preben Rather Sorensen described the initial return leg between Ireland and England as the "hardest yet", and four crew had to be transferred to the support ship, Cable One.

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Unearthing castle secrets

Experts began to unearth the secrets of Nevern Castle as exciting ancient artefacts were discovered last week.

Clues to life at the site during the 12th century emerged during the dig, and pottery, a board game and counter, and a passageway were among the finds.

The two week excavation, organised by Nevern Community Council and the National Park, was led by Dr Chris Caple, senior lecturer at Durham University's archaeology department, who was joined by a team of five helpers.

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Viking warship to begin homeward journey

A Viking warship will be hoisted out of the National Museum today in preparation of its journey back to Denmark.

The Sea Stallion will be lifted about 150ft out of Clarke Square, Collins Barracks, where it has been on show to the public for the last nine months.

The vessel sailed back into Dublin last August, almost 1,000 years after its original departure.

Weather permitting, it will be gently lowered into the main museum car park at 3pm in preparation for her return voyage to Denmark.

Then at 2am the replica vessel will be lifted over the Luas track to the quays where it will be carried on a low-loader to Dublin port.

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The Real Knights of the Round Table: A Time Team Special

The regular series of Time Team delights lovers of history with every episode, but occasionally something so marvellous comes to light it requires a spin-off programme.

The Real Knights of the Round Table: A Time Team Special is just such a show, and will have devoted fans jumping for joy.

In 2006, the team undertook one of their most ambitious live projects ever - a series of digs at three royal palaces, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and Holyrood Palace. The event was timed to coincide with the Queen's 80th birthday celebrations, but no one could have guessed what fabulous gifts were waiting to be discovered.

At Windsor, the oldest inhabited royal residence in the world, the experts went in search of a fabled lost building - Edward III's Round Table.

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Norman invasion word impact study

A project examining the impact the Norman invasion of Britain had on the English language has won £874,000.

The Anglo-Norman dictionary, housed at Aberystwyth University, will use the money to continue revising its online edition.

The university's Professor David Trotter said it reflects the "enduring influence" of the Anglo-Normans.

The dictionary, and its associated texts collected at Swansea University, now stands at eight million words.

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Medieval castle unearthed in Maenclochog

A team of professional and voluntary archaeologists have uncovered what seem to be the remains of a medieval castle in a north Pembrokeshire car park.

The dig, organised by PLANED, Cambria Archaeology and the National Park, and funded by the EU Transnational project, is taking place at the castle site in Maenclochog, beneath the village's car park.

So far excavators have uncovered what look to be the outer walls of a medieval castle, as well as post holes, the hearth of a medieval house and fragments of medieval pottery.

They have also discovered the skeleton of a dog, which archaeologists think is likely to be a family pet dating from the Middle Ages.

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Archaeologists get to work at Clitheroe Castle

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are compiling a comprehensive record of historic Clitheroe Castle and Museum.

The castle and its associated buildings are undergoing a £3.2m. development scheme and archaeologists have seized the opportunity to record some of its ancient features using special measuring and imaging equipment. Once complete, the record will be stored at Lancashire Records Office.

Meanwhile, pieces of medieval pottery discovered during the work will eventually go on display at the new-look Clitheroe Castle Museum.

Senior achaeologist Ian Miller said: "This is the first time this kind of work has been undertaken at Clitheroe Castle and it has given us crucial information about how the site has developed.

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Top 25 Most Beautiful Castles in the World

Everyone seems to know that the most luxurious castles are located in Europe. Or, are they? As we traveled the world we learned that castles exist everywhere. From South Africa to Louisiana and from New Zealand to Iran, a curious traveler can find a castle in just about every corner in the world.

Just to prove this theory to you, we’ve gathered twenty-five amazing castles from around the world for your perusal. This selection represents some of the most intriguing castles in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, North America, and from around the world. The oldest castle is being restored in Iran after an earthquake destroyed eighty percent of its buildings.

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