Thursday 31 May 2018

Warring patrilineal clans blamed for ancient men shortage

Recent genetic research suggests that the number of reproducing men plummeted around 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. Scientists think this population dropped by 95 percent. Now researchers have an explanation. Warring patrilineal clans—where membership follows the male line—could be to blame. In 2015 scientists identified a historical bottleneck, where the diversity of the Y chromosome—which is passed from father to son—appeared to collapse. No such pattern was found in the mitochondrial DNA—which is passed from mother to child. This suggests no big changes in the number of reproducing women at the time.
After the advent of farming some 12,000 years ago, hunter-gatherer societies began to morph into larger, patrilineal clans, where women could move and marry between different clans but men stayed put. The team’s models and simulations backed up the idea of warring, patrilineal clans. When competing patrilineal groups fought and wiped each other out in their simulations, Y chromosome diversity took a nosedive.

5,000 to 7,000 years ago wasn’t the best time to be a male, unless you were a member of one of those very few clans we are all now descended from.

Monday 28 May 2018

Colossal 3,000-year-old statue unearthed in Cairo

A team of archaeologists discovered a giant 3,000-year-old statue last year thought to depict Ramses II, in what the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities is describing as "one of its most important archaeological discoveries."

The head and torso will be moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, which is due to open in late 2018.
Archaeologists from Egypt and Germany began removing the quartzite statue -- estimated to stand 30 feet tall -- from the ground in Matariya, greater Cairo.

Ramses II, known as the "Great Ancestor" to his descendants, ruled for 66 years from 1279 to 1213 BC as part of Ancient Egypt's 19th dynasty.

Saturday 26 May 2018

Gold coin featuring King Ptolemy III found

Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed the remains of a Roman bath — as well as a mountain of treasures, including a statue of a ram and a gold coin featuring King Ptolemy III.
The artifacts uncovered at the site of San El-Hagar, in Tanis, include pottery vessels, terra-cotta statues, bronze tools, a stone fragment engraved with hieroglyphs and a small ram statue. The gold coin was created in the 221 B.C. to 205 B.C. reign of King Ptolemy IV in memory of his father.

Wednesday 23 May 2018

The Saddle Ridge Hoard

The Saddle Ridge Hoard is the name given to a treasure trove of 1,427 gold coins unearthed in the Gold Country of the Sierra Nevada, California in 2013. Collectors scooped up the gold coins from the Saddle Ridge Hoard at a brisk pace. Nearly half of the 1,427 coins sold within the first dozen hours at per coin prices ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. The collection was estimated in value of at least $10 million.

The treasure of gold pieces were discovered in buried cans on a couple’s private land. They went on sale May 27, 2015 on the websites of and
The Saddle Ridge 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle is one of the best ever discovered, it is valued at close to $1 million.

Broken out by type, the hoard consists of 1,373 $20 Double Eagles, 50 $10 gold coins and 4 $5 gold coins.
"John: Years ago, on our first hike, we noticed an old tree growing into the hill. It had an empty rusty can hanging from it that the tree had grown around – that was right at the site where we found the coins… At the time we thought the can might be a place for someone to put flowers in for a gravesite – something which would have been typical at the time.

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Gold Coins of the Kushans

Little is known about the Kushans, a dynasty that controlled much of India nearly 2,000 years ago. Written records of the era, where they exist at all, are all from others and are imprecise and lacking in detail. The Kushans emerged from western China and swept into the Indian subcontinent in the second century BCE.
They are believed to be a branch of the Yuezhi, fierce nomadic horsemen.

Kushan Empire, Huvishka, gold dinar, c. 155-190 CE
Kushans first swept through Bactria, occupying modern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, where they assimilated native forms of dress, a slightly modified Greek alphabet, and a mixture of Iranian and Greek religion.

Kushan king Huvishka

Vima Kadphises. Circa AD 100-128
Kushan coins favoured the Hindu pantheon. Kanishka the Great was a vocal proponent of Buddhism. Impressive Kushan gold coins marked the apex of the Kushan empire. By the the fifth century AD Hunnic rulers and later, the Muslims, incorporated Kushan lands into their own territories.

Saturday 19 May 2018

Valuable Roman sarcophagus used as flower pot for 100 years

Last year an ancient Roman sarcophagus worth up to £300,000 was discovered on the grounds of Blenheim Palace where it had been used for the last 100 years as a flower pot. The marble coffin has been exposed to the elements for the last century and used as an oversized planter to grow tulips in a rock garden in Oxfordshire.

For 100 years before that the 1,800 year old sarcophagus was used as a makeshift water feature by the fifth Duke of Marlborough who obtained it in the 19th century.

Experts identified the basin as a white marble sarcophagus depicting Dionysian revelry dating back to 300AD. It's carvings depict a drunken Dionysus, the god of wine, leaning on an equally inebriated woodland satyr.

The extremely high quality of the sarcophagus panel suggests it was made in Rome for a high status member of the patrician elite. Officials have since moved the sarcophagus indoors.

Sunday 13 May 2018

Remains of ancient horse discovered at Pompeii

Archaeologists have been able to cast the complete figure of a horse that perished in the volcanic eruption at Pompeii.

The discovery was made outside the city walls, in Civita Giuliana to the north of Pompeii proper.
Excavation in the area revealed what archaeologists identified as a stable, complete with the remains of a trough. Traces of a harness in valuable iron and bronze were found by its head, suggesting that the animal was of considerable value. While the skeletons of donkeys and mules have been found at Pompeii, in a stable attached to the Casa dei Casti Amanti ('House of the Chaste Lovers'), it's the first time archaeologists have unearthed the complete outline of a horse. Discoveries continue to be made at Pompeii.
Last month, archaeologists discovered the complete skeleton of a young child in a bathhouse long thought to have been fully excavated.
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Thursday 10 May 2018

Tyrant Collection of Ancient Coins at Long Beach

Unique variety Antiochos gold Stater, 280-217 B.C."The Tyrants of the Tigris & Euphrates" exhibit will be at the Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp & Sports Collectible Expo, June 14-16, 2018. ( King Mithradates I is on this Parthian Kingdom silver Tetradrachm, circa 154-132 B.C.

Electrum Stater of Ephesus, circa 625-600 B.C. One of five known.

Darius gold Daric, circa 500-485 B.C., King of Persia
One of only about two dozen known examples of the world’s first gold coin, Stater prototype, circa 564-539 B.C., of King Kroisos.

New strains of hepatitis B virus discovered in ancient human remains

The hepatitis B virus has been infecting people since at least the Bronze Age, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.

304 samples of humans from Europe and Asia, who lived between 200 and 7,000 years ago, were examined for hepatitis B DNA. Researchers found matches for the virus in the remains of 25 people, including in the bones of a warrior buried in a mass grave in Mongolia.

Some versions of the ancient hepatitis virus still infect humans. Another died out.

Wednesday 9 May 2018

Ancient Egyptian General's Tomb Discovered in Saqqara

A tomb dating back about 3,300 years has been discovered at the site of Saqqara in Egypt. Hieroglyphic inscriptions say that the tomb was built for an army general named Iwrhya.

Saqqara Step Pyramid
Excavations are ongoing, and much of the tomb has yet to be excavated.

So far, no human remains have been found in the tomb.

Tuesday 8 May 2018

Fossil jaw from Pterosaur found

A fossil jaw from Romania is the largest pterosaur bone of its kind ever discovered, hinting that a giant species with a 29-foot wingspan once cast its shadow over what is today the region of Transylvania. During the last part of the Cretaceous period, when sea levels were higher, the predator lived in an island archipelago. This was shortly before the mass extinction event 66 million years ago that killed off all the pterosaurs alongside the nonavian dinosaurs.

The massive jaw bone—the only part of the new animal found so far—was originally dug up in the Hateg region of Transylvania in 1978, but at the time it wasn’t recognized as a pterosaur.

Saturday 5 May 2018

2.6 billion year-old rock on display in London

A rock formed 2.6 billion years ago and found in a Rio Tinto mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region will be displayed at London’s Natural History Museum. The 2.5 tonne rock sourced from the Mt Tom Price Mine will be part of an exhibition celebrating the natural world. The colourfully layered rock is a piece of banded iron formation created when bacteria in the earth’s young oceans began to produce oxygen through photosynthesis.
That oxygen combined with iron in the water to form iron oxide and sank to the sea floor.

Layers of it developed between layers of silica-rich sediment and played an essential role in oxygenating the ocean and supporting the evolution of more complex life.