The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

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Dig to uncover rare undisturbed Bronze Age burial in Lancashire

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Cave paintings change ideas about the origin of art

Prehistoric Human Brain Found Pickled in Bog

A human skull dated to about 2,684 years ago with an "exceptionally preserved" human brain still inside of it was recently discovered in a waterlogged U.K. pit, according to a new Journal of Archaeological Science study.

The brain is the oldest known intact human brain from Europe and Asia, according to the authors, who also believe it's one of the best-preserved ancient brains in the world.

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Doghouse Hill (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

West Dorset 'Oldest' human settlement found

Archaeologists working for the National Trust think they have found west Dorset's oldest human settlement.

Excavations over the last two weeks began when a number of artefacts were found by a man walking his dog.

Experts now believe people lived on Doghouse Hill on the Golden Cap estate up to 10,000 years ago.

Finds included a stone hearth, fire pit and pot shards from Bronze Age periods (2,500 to 1,000BC) and others from the Mesolithic Age (10,000 to 4,000BC)

Martin Papworth, from the National Trust, said: "Although it's a stunning coastal site now, 6,000 to 8,000 years ago this area would have been over a mile inland.

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German 'Venus' may be oldest yet

A grotesque carving in mammoth ivory is arguably the world's oldest depiction of a human figure, scientists say.

The distorted sculpture, which portrays a woman with huge breasts, big buttocks and exaggerated genitals, is thought to be at least 35,000 years old.

The 6cm-tall figurine, reported in the journal Nature, is the latest find to come from Hohle Fels Cave in Germany.

Previous discoveries have included exquisite carvings of animals, and an object that could be a stone "sex toy".

Moreover, the range and sophistication of similar materials found across the Schwabian region of southern Germany has led some researchers to believe cave complexes such as Hohle Fels could have been early artists' workshops.

The Venus of Hohle Fels was found in six fragments in September 2008. It is still missing its left arm and shoulder, but researchers are hopeful these will emerge in future excavations of the cave's sediments.

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Canadian WoodHenge found.

During a remote-sensing survey of the Fort Ancient Earthworks in 2005, Jarrod Burks of Ohio Valley Archaeological Consultants discovered a circular pattern in the soil that stretched nearly 200 feet in diameter.

Fort Ancient is a massive earthwork in Warren County that was built more than 2,000 years ago by the Hopewell culture.

Robert Riordan, an anthropology professor at Wright State University, directed excavations there in 2006 and last month completed a report on his initial explorations of the circles.

Dubbed the "Moorehead Circle" by Riordan in honor of pioneering archaeologist Warren K. Moorehead, the area was a "woodhenge," defined by a double ring of posts.

The outer ring consisted of large posts about 9 inches in diameter set about 30 inches apart in slip trenches filled with rock. The inner ring had similar-size posts set about 15 feet inside the outer ring.

Riordan estimates that the outer ring would have held more than 200 posts, each 10 to 15 feet tall. Inner posts likely were shorter.

At the center of the circle was a

2.5-foot-deep pit that was 15 feet long by 13 feet wide and filled with red, burned soil. The pit was ringed by a shallow trough in which large timbers of red oak had been burned. Excavators found little ash, so the burned soil must have been brought in.

A radiocarbon date on charcoal from a remnant trace of a post suggests it was built between 40 BC and AD 130. Burned timber fragments from the pit were dated AD 250 to AD 420.

The different ages suggest to Riordan that a "sequence of ceremonial events" took place at this location. The two rings of posts and the pit might be related, or they might represent three separate rituals.

With less than 5 percent of the circle investigated, Riordan warns, our understanding of it remains tentative.

"We avidly look forward to subsequent field seasons, new data and altered perspectives," he wrote.

More information about the

excavation of the Moorehead Circle can be found on the Ohio Historical Society's archaeology blog:

Bradley T. Lepper is curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society.

Left-handedness Common in Ice Age

The fraction of left-handed people today is about the same as it was during the Ice Age, according to data from prehistoric handprints.
They were found in caves painted during the Upper Palaeolithic period, between 30,000 and 10,000 years ago.

Left-handedness may have conferred prehistoric man advantages, such as in combat, say the researchers.

The research is published in the February issue of the journal Biology Letters.

Evolutionary advantages
When Stone Age man produced their remarkable cave paintings they often left handprints on the walls produced by blowing pigments from one hand through a tube held by the other hand.

Charlotte Faurie and Michel Raymond at the University of Montpellier, France, deduced the prehistoric cave painters' handedness by spraying paint against cave walls to see which hand they pressed against the wall, and therefore did not use for drawing.

Looking at 507 handprints from 26 caves in France and Spain, they deduced that 23% of them were right-handed, which indicated that they were made by left-handers.

In the general population today about 12% are left-handed, though populations vary considerably, between 3 and 30%.

Because handedness has a genetic component the researchers wondered why the proportion of left-handers should have remained so constant over 30,000 years - the age of the oldest cave studied.

They suggest that because left-handedness is relatively rare it provides certain advantages over those who are right-handed, such as in solo and group fighting.

The researchers say their findings add to the evidence that the evolutionary forces that cause right- and left-handedness are independent of culture.
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