Some interesting bits of archaeology news…

The oldest yet-dicovered paintings of signs/symbols in central europe have been found in southern Germany – central europe is not known for much cro-magnon era painting.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111108075401.htm

Three of the new painting show double rows of red dots on limestone cobbles, while one painted fragment may originate from the wall of the cave. These are the first examples of painted rocks recovered in Germany since 1998 when Prof. Nicholas Conard’s team working at Hohle Fels discovered a single painted rock. In addition to the painted rocks, finds of ochre and hematite that were used to make pigments have also been recovered.

Although Ice Age cave paintings are well documented in western Europe, particularly in France and Spain, wall paintings are unknown in central Europe. The lack of wall paintings at Hohle Fels in particular as well as in Central Europe as a whole may in part be a reflection of the harsh climate of the region that continually led to the erosion and damage to the walls of the caves. The paintings from Hohle Fels Cave in the Ach Valley near Schelklingen document the oldest tradition of painting in central Europe. The painted limestone cobbles from Hohle Fels all show very similar motifs, and these rows of painted red dots certainly must have had a particular meaning to the inhabitants of the region. This being said, unlike the many examples of painting of animals in the Paleolithic art, these abstract depictions remain difficult to interpret.

Bronze castings from Asia discovered in a 1.000 year old eskimo house excavation – evidence of the movement of culture around the planet. The moement of technology and ideas, even if only in fragments.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111114112314.htm

The artifact consists of two parts — a rectangular bar, connected to an apparently broken circular ring, said CU-Boulder Research Associate John Hoffecker, who is leading the excavation project. The object, about 2 inches by 1 inch and less than 1 inch thick, was found in August by a team excavating a roughly 1,000-year-old house that had been dug into the side of a beach ridge by early Inupiat Eskimos at Cape Espenberg on the Seward Peninsula, which lies within the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve.

Both sections of the artifact are beveled on one side and concave on the other side, indicating it was manufactured in a mold, said Hoffecker, a fellow at CU-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. A small piece of leather found wrapped around the rectangular bar by the research team yielded a radiocarbon date of roughly A.D. 600, which does not necessarily indicate the age of the object, he said.

“I was totally astonished,” said Hoffecker. “The object appears to be older than the house we were excavating by at least a few hundred years.”

Hoffecker and his CU-Boulder colleague Owen Mason said the bronze object resembles a belt buckle and may have been used as part of a harness or horse ornament prior to its arrival in Alaska.

The new archaeology being practiced around Stonehenge uncovers ceremonial areas the predate the stones, indicating the long use of the area as a sacred region.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-15917921

Procession route

It is thought the pits, positioned within the Neolithic Cursus pathway, could
have formed a procession route for ancient rituals celebrating the sun moving
across the sky at the midsummer solstice.

A Cursus comprises two parallel linear ditches with banks either side closed
off at the end.

Also discovered was a gap in the northern side of the Cursus, which may have
been an entrance and exit point for processions taking place within the
pathway.

These discoveries hint that the site was already being used as an ancient
centre of ritual prior to the stones being erected more than 5,000 years ago,
the team said.

Archaeologist and project leader at Birmingham University, Professor Vince
Gaffney, said: “This is the first time we have seen anything quite like this at
Stonehenge and it provides a more sophisticated insight into how rituals may
have taken place within the Cursus and the wider landscape.”