A village of small houses about three kilometers from Britain’s mysterious Stonehenge that may have sheltered its builders has been found, local media reported Wednesday.

The ancient houses have been excavated by a group of archaeologists studying the stone circle in England at a site known as Durrington Walls, where it is also the location of a wooden version of the stone circle, said Mike Parker Pearson of Sheffield University at the National Geographic Society.

“Eight of the houses, with central hearths, have been excavated, and there may be as many as 25 of them,” said Parker Pearson, “the village was carbon dated to about 2600 B.C., about the same time Stonehenge was built.”

Both Stonehenge and Durrington Walls have avenues connecting them to the Avon River, indicating a pattern of movement between the sites, according to researchers.

“Clearly, this is a place that was of enormous importance,” said Julian Thomas of Manchester University.

Stone tools, animal bones, arrowheads and other artifacts were uncovered in the village. Remains of pigs indicated they were about nine months old when killed, which would mark a midwinter festival.

The researchers speculated that Durrington Walls was a place for the living and Stonehenge — where cremated remains have been found — was a cemetery and memorial, media reported.

The megalithic ruin known as Stonehenge stands on the open downland of Salisbury Plain west of the town of Amesbury, Wiltshire, in Southern England. It is not a single structure but consists of a series of earth, timber, and stone structures that were revised and re-modelled over a period of more than 1400 years. Source

Advertisements

European history was altered by a bacterial infection in someone’s stomach, according to a report from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

The stomach in question belonged to Napoleon, and the infection led to ulcers, which likely caused the French dictator to get cancer and die. Even if Napoleon had managed to escape from house arrest on the island of St. Helena, where the British stuck him after the 1815 battle of Waterloo, he would have been too weak to mount a comeback, the researchers added.

The study also cast doubt on the theory that Napoleon was poisoned with arsenic.

Dr. Robert Genta at UT, along with Canadian and Swiss scientists, essentially took the notes from the autopsy conducted at Napoleon’s death and threw it a battery of modern tests. The autopsy descriptions show that Napoleon’s stomach was filled with a dark material that resembled coffee grounds, an indication of gastrointestinal bleeding that likely was the immediate cause of death, according to Genta. The doctors then compared the descriptions against modern images of 50 benign ulcers and 50 gastric cancers. They determined that no benign cancer could look like the lesion described in the autopsy.

“It was a huge mass from the entrance of his stomach to the exit. It was at least 10 centimeters long. Size alone suggests the lesion was cancer,” Genta said in a prepared statement.

Genta also noted that contemporaries noted that Napoleon–who was rather tubby in his lifetime–lost 20 pounds toward the end. An ironic ending for a man who has a pastry named after him.

source

Before the great pyramids, ancient Egyptian kings left less grandiose monuments to themselves: fortresslike sanctuaries enclosed by mud-brick walls. Inside these mortuary complexes, people presumably gathered to worship and perpetuate the memory of their departed ruler.

The crumbling, almost vanished remains of such structures, archaeologists say, attest to the political hierarchy and religion of the newly unified Egyptian state, beginning more than 5,000 years ago. As symbols of the early power of kings and their roles in the cosmic order, these mysterious funerary centers are considered ancestral in purpose to the classic pyramids of Giza. Read the rest of this entry »

From a new analysis of a human skull discovered in South Africa more than 50 years ago, scientists say they have obtained the first fossil evidence establishing the relatively recent time for the dispersal of modern Homo sapiens out of Africa.

The migrants appeared to have arrived at their new homes in Asia and Europe with the distinct and unmodified heads of Africans. Read the rest of this entry »