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All known tumi knives were looted by grave robbers, Shimada said. Sican artifacts, he has argued in his research, were often misidentified as coming from the later Inca Empire because they were always seen out of context.

"It is the first time that such a tumi has been found in context, in a scientific manner, and therefore we will be able to speak a lot about the cultural significance of this object," he said.

Alva agreed that the discovery could help explain the history of these ceremonial weapons, with their figurine handles and arched-shaped blades.
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"Finally, archaeologists have the opportunity to show a scientifically excavated tomb where the context can be known for these objects," said Alva, who led one of Peru's most famous archaeological digs, which uncovered the Lords of Sipan tombs in the late 1980s.

The archaeologist gave President Alan Garcia a tour Tuesday of the Pomac Forest excavation site, where Shimada said his team has found 22 tombs at up to 33 feet below ground level.

"This is an extraordinary find," Garcia said.

One grave contains the remains of a woman about 25 years old buried with 120 miniature clay "crisoles" or crucibles, Shimada said, which he believes were made by each member of the funeral ceremony "as a sort of last offering to be placed in the burial chamber."
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Posted: 14 December 2006 at 9:11pm | IP Logged
Rome's She-Wolf Younger Than Its City
Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
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Nov. 22, 2006 — The icon of Rome's foundation, the Capitoline she-wolf, was crafted in the Middle Ages, not the Antiquities, according to a research into the statue's bronze-casting technique.

The discovery quashes the long-prevailing belief that the she-wolf was adopted as an icon by the earliest Romans as a symbol for their city.

Recalling the story of a she-wolf which fed Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, and his twin brother, Remus, after they had been thrown in a basket into the Tiber River, the statue has been always linked to the ancient world.
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It was thought to be either the product of an Etruscan workshop in the 5th century B.C. or the masterpiece of the 6th century B.C. Etruscan sculptor Vulca of Veii.

It was believed that the Romans later adopted the wolf since her defiant stance and raised eyebrows seemed to reflect Rome's liberation from the Etruscan rule.

On the contrary, scholars have long established that the bronze figures of Romulus and Remus were added in the Renaissance, in accordance to the legend of Rome's foundation.

"Now incontestable proofs tell us that also the she-wolf is not a product of the Antiquities," Adriano La Regina, former Rome's archaeological superintendent and professor of Etruscology at Rome's La Sapienza University, wrote in Italy's daily "La Repubblica."

According to La Regina, analysis carried out by restorer Anna Maria Carruba during the 1997 restoration of the bronze statue showed that the she-wolf was cast as a single unit. This technique was typically used in the Middle Ages.

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"Ancient bronzes differentiate from those made in the Middle Ages because they were cast in separate parts, and then brazed together," La Regina said

First used by the Greeks and then adopted by Etruscan and Roman artists, the technique basically consisted of brazing the separate joints using bronze as welding material.

The new dating of the Capitoline she-wolf was not revealed at the presentation of the restored statue in 2000. The Capitoline Museum, where the bronze is displayed, claims the artwork traces back to 480-470 B.C.
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"Analysis and findings from the restoration were ignored," wrote La Regina.

Indeed, it might have not been easy for the Romans to accept that the archetypal symbol of Rome was cast in the relatively recent Middle Ages.

The she-wolf was one of the favored images of Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator, who considered himself the founder of the New Rome. He sent various copies of the bronze to American cities.

The Capitoline she-wolf was also used in the poster of the 1960 Rome Olympics and is one of the most popular items among souvenir sellers in Rome.

Gregory Warden, a professor of art history at Southern Methodist University who specializes in Etruscan bronzes, found the suggestion that the she-wolf may be medieval "intriguing." But, he does not consider the matter closed.

"While the statue is singular, and thus difficult to compare to other Etruscan statuary, I do not think that the technical argument is fully persuasive, since we have so little comparative evidence for large-scale bronze casting in the Etruscan world," he said. "We certainly cannot assume that Etruscan bronze-casting techniques would always have been identical to those of the Greeks."
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Posted: 14 December 2006 at 9:13pm | IP Logged
Jamestown Skeleton Still a Mystery
Sonja Barisic, Associated Press
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Nov. 21, 2006 —Bones discovered four years ago at the site of America's first permanent English settlement could be those of Jamestown's unsung founder, a knight or a captain.

A tooth analysis did not rule out that the skeleton is, as Jamestown researchers had theorized, that of Capt. Bartholomew Gosnold, principal organizer of the expedition from England that established Jamestown in 1607. Next year marks the settlement's 400th anniversary.

But test results released Monday also suggest two other possible candidates: Sir Ferdinando Wenman, the master of ordnance at Jamestown, and Capt. Gabriel Archer, a lawyer who was the first recorder of Jamestown.
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Gosnold is still the leading candidate, based on historical, archaeological and forensic evidence, said William Kelso, director of archaeology at the Jamestown site.

"I still think the evidence lines up, until proven otherwise, that we have Gosnold," Kelso said in a telephone interview.

The Church of England, however, says the Jamestown skeleton is likely that of someone other than Gosnold. A tooth analysis of a skeleton buried in a church grave in Shelley, England, suggests it is that of Gosnold's sister, Elizbeth Gosnold Tilney. However, DNA tests on the two skeletons don't match, showing they're not related.

"While it would appear that the body discovered in Jamestown is not Gosnold, the coffin with the staff makes it clear that it is the grave of an important early settler," said James Halsall, spokesman for the Diocese of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich.



The skeleton was buried in a coffin — usually reserved at the time for people of higher status — with a captain's staff placed on the lid, in a spot outside Jamestown's triangular fort.

Kelso said that makes Wenman the least likely candidate because a knight would more likely be buried with his sword.

Archer was a captain, but he died during the "Starving Time" winter of 1609-1610. Kelso said it is doubtful Archer would have been ceremoniously buried in a coffin outside the fort during that period, when Jamestown was under siege by Indians.
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In the tooth test, the National Environment Research Council Isotope Geosciences Laboratory of the British Geological Survey studied strontium and oxygen isotopes in tooth enamel. The isotope ratios, compared with ratio of isotopes in drinking water, can determine where a person lived during childhood, when the teeth are formed.

Gosnold was born and grew up in the Otley area of southeast Suffolk in England. The tests show the Jamestown skeleton was that of someone who probably came from southern England, but the results are inconsistent with the chalk-dominated terrain of Otley.

However, geological conditions a few miles south of Otley would satisfy the chemical signature found in the tooth of the Jamestown skeleton, researchers said, so Gosnold can't be ruled out because he could have been eating food and drinking water from nearby areas.
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Posted: 14 December 2006 at 9:15pm | IP Logged
Neanderthal Genome Being Mapped
Malcolm Ritter, Associated Press
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Nov. 15, 2006 —A bone fragment that scientists had initially ignored has begun to yield secrets of the Neanderthal genome, launching a new way to learn about the stocky and muscular relative of modern humans, scientists say.

Genetic material from the bone has let researchers identify more than a million building blocks of Neanderthal DNA so far, and it should be enough to derive most of the creature's 3.3 billion blocks within the next two years, said researcher Svante Paabo.

"We're at the dawn of Neanderthal genomics," said gene expert Edward Rubin of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.
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Such research will "serve as a DNA time machine that will tell us about the biology and aspects of Neanderthals that we could never get" otherwise, Rubin said.

And the Neanderthal data will shed light on what DNA changes helped produce modern humanity by revealing which changes appeared relatively late in human evolution, after the ancestors of Neanderthals and of humans split apart, scientists said.

Paabo, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues present an initial analysis of Neanderthal DNA in this week's issue of the journal Nature. Rubin and his collaborators present their own analysis in this week's issue of Science.

Both are based on DNA extracted from a bone fragment that lay in a Croatian cave for 38,000 years. "It's rather small and uninteresting and was thrown into a big box of uninformative bones" at a museum in Zagreb, Croatia, Paabo said.

So it wasn't handled very much, which meant that its DNA was not extensively contaminated by that of modern-day people, a major plus for the new DNA work, he said. Only about one-seventh of an ounce or less of the bone will be enough to get a rough draft of the Neanderthal genome, he said.

DNA analysis indicated that the bone fragment came from a male.


Todd Disotell of the Center for the Study of Human Origins at New York University, who did not participate in the research, said he found it "really amazing (that) 38,000-year-old fossils are yielding enough DNA to eventually get a whole genome.... Just the fact that they can do this is amazing."

He also called the two new papers impressive "tours de force."

The two teams basically agree, within their margins of error, that the evolutionary lineages of Neanderthals and modern humans split somewhere around 500,000 years ago, he said. That number had been suggested by far more limited DNA analysis before, so it's comforting to see it backed up with more extensive analyses, he said.
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Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans coexisted in Europe for thousands of years, until Neanderthals died out some 28,000 years ago. Scientists have been debating whether the two groups interbred and whether modern humans carry some genetic remnants of Neanderthals.

Rubin said his analysis, like some previous work, found no evidence of such intermixing, though it'll take more DNA to rule it out.

Paabo's analysis didn't directly address whether modern humans have DNA from Neanderthals, but it did raise speculation that DNA from anatomically modern humans might have found its way into Neanderthals. Scientists will have to examine more Neanderthal DNA to study that, he said.

Rubin also said analysis so far suggests human and Neanderthal DNA are some 99.5 percent to nearly 99.9 percent identical.
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Posted: 14 December 2006 at 9:17pm | IP Logged
Roman Shipwreck Bears Culinary Treasure
Daniel Woolls, Associated Press
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Nov. 14, 2006 —A shipwrecked first-century vessel carrying delicacies to the richest palates of the Roman Empire has proved a dazzling find, with nearly 2,000-year-old fish bones still nestling inside clay jars, archaeologists said Monday.

Boaters found its cargo of hundreds of amphoras in 2000 when their anchor got tangled with one of the two-handled jars.

After years of arranging financing and crews, exploration of the site a mile off the coast of Alicante in southeast Spain began in July, said Carles de Juan, a co-director of the project, who works for the Valencia regional government.
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The ship, estimated to be 100 feet long with a capacity for around 400 tons of cargo, is twice the size of most other Roman shipwrecks found in the Mediterranean, de Juan said.

Its cargo of an estimated 1,500 well-preserved clay amphoras was used in this case to hold fish sauce — a prized condiment for wealthy Romans, he said.

For nearly 2,000 years, the 3-foot-tall amphoras lay undisturbed except for the occasional octopus that would pry one open, breaking the ceramic-and-mortar seal in search of food or shelter.

Besides the size of the ship and good condition of its cargo, the site is also important because it is so easily accessible — in just 80 feet of water about a mile from the coast. Other wrecks are so deep they cannot be examined by scuba divers.

"I am not going to say it was on the beach, but almost," said de Juan, who was among the first divers to examine the shipwreck in 2000.

"We knew it was an important find but had no real idea until now," he said. "It is an exceptional find."

The last time a ship of this size and quality emerged was in 1985 off Corsica, he said.

Javier Nieto, director of the Center for Underwater Archaeology of Catalonia and not related to this project, also called it immensely important because of the good condition of the cargo. No other Roman shipwreck is currently under study in the Mediterranean, he added.

"For archaeologists, a sunken ship is a historic document that tells us about ancient history and how its economy worked," Nieto said from Barcelona. "This ship will contribute a lot."



This ship probably sank in a storm while sailing back to Rome from Cadiz in the south of what is now Spain. The storm must have been ferocious because it is odd for such a vessel to have been so close to shore.

"The crew did not care about the cargo or money or anything. They headed for land to save their lives," de Juan said.

De Juan and the other co-director of the project, Franca Cibercchini of the University of Pisa in Italy, presented their first report on the site at a marine archaeology conference last week in the town of Gandia, near Valencia.
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When word of the find first spread in 2000, pirate scuba divers raided the site and stole some of the amphoras. This forced the Valencia government to build a thick metal grating to cover the remains and protect the jars.

What remains of the wooden structure of the ship itself — about 60 percent — is buried under mud in the seabed, de Juan said.

The cargo probably also includes lead, which the Romans used for plumbing, and copper, which they mixed with tin to make bronze for everything from plates to jewelry.

The fish sauce is no longer in the amphoras because the seals were not hermetic and could not withstand 20 centuries under water. But traces of fish bone remain inside and these will help researchers determine how the sauces were made, de Juan said.
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Posted: 14 December 2006 at 9:18pm | IP Logged
Venus Statue X-Rayed for Cracks
Giovanna Dell'orto, Associated Press
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Nov. 3, 2006 —Conservators trying to restore a 1,900-year-old statue of Venus have put their heads together with airline maintenance inspectors who usually scrutinize welds and repairs in jet engines for any cracks.

Officials at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University this summer bought the Roman marble statue and its head, which had broken off sometime in the past 170 years.

On Thursday, they enlisted the help of Delta Air Lines inspectors at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, who took X-rays of the statue and the head to try to determine where the statue has been broken before and how old repairs are holding up.
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Conservators will look for rusting metal pins that might have been inserted to fix cracks. Once they establish the condition of those repairs, which could date from antiquity to as recently as 200 years ago, they will know how best to put the 4-foot-6-inch statue back together.

"I spend two-thirds of my time reversing other people's good intentions," museum conservator Renee Stein said jokingly of old repairs.

The statue, by an unknown artist, is a copy of a Greek bronze sculpture that many scholars say is the most widely reproduced female statue in antiquity. While there are thousands of similar images of Venus in all sorts of sizes and materials, this restoration is significant because few statues are as large and nearly intact as this one, missing only the right arm.

"When statue pieces go down different roads, and they're recognized, bought, and put back together, it's extremely noteworthy," said Francesco de Angelis, a professor of Roman art at Columbia University. "This type of statue was incredibly popular in antiquity."

The museum bought the charmingly prudish sculpture of the goddess of love for $968,000 at a Sotheby's auction in New York on June 6. A private collector in Houston, Texas, agreed to sell the head to the buyer of the body, and the museum purchased it for about $50,000.

Delta inspectors, who have previously worked with the museum on a vase and a statue, volunteered their time for the Venus.

"It's a privilege for us to assist and help the Carlos bring this kind of history and art to our hometown of Atlanta," said Delta spokeswoman Gina Laughlin.

The statue portrays Venus — called Aphrodite by the Greeks — caught off guard as she, having removed all her clothes to take a bath, glimpses an unseen onlooker. She tries to cover herself with her hands, with a result that's more provocative than protective. A small figure of Eros rides a dolphin at her feet, a reference to the goddess' birth from the sea.

The statue probably stood next to a fountain or pool in the gardens of a villa somewhere in the Roman Empire, possibly in today's France. It was first documented in the collection of Napoleon's art adviser in the 1830s, said Jasper Gaunt, curator of Greek and Roman art at the Carlos.

An 1836 engraving showed the statue intact, and it is not known how or when the head and arm broke off. The arm remains missing.

Stein will have to drill through the plaster keeping in place an old pin that was inserted in the head to prop it up on a display stand, as well as a lead insert on the base of the neck. She'll most likely replace it with a stainless steel pin.

Because the jagged edges in the break between the head and the neck were smoothed over, curators will have to study how much space to fill in once the pieces are superimposed again.

Venus is expected to strike her pose at the Carlos sometime in the spring.

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Posted: 14 December 2006 at 9:19pm | IP Logged
Topless Skull Confirms Earliest Autopsy
David Sharp, Associated Press
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Nov. 1, 2006 — The earliest confirmed autopsy in North America was conducted more than 400 years ago by French colonists desperate to determine what was killing them as they endured a rugged winter on St. Croix Island, scientists concluded.

A team of forensic anthropologists from the United States and Canada confirmed that the skull of a man buried on the island over the winter of 1604-05 showed evidence of having undergone an autopsy, scientists said.

Nearly half of the 79 settlers led by explorers Pierre Dugua and Samuel Champlain died over that winter from malnutrition and the harsh weather.
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The skull in question was discovered during excavations by the National Park Service in June 2003. The top of the skull had been removed to expose the brain; the skull cap was replaced before the body was buried, the scientists said.

"This is the same procedure that forensic pathologists use to conduct autopsies today," said Thomas Crist from Utica College in upstate New York, who led the team of forensic anthropologists analyzing the remains.

The conclusion, announced by the National Park Service, will be the subject of a program on the Discovery Health Channel series "Skeleton Stories" on Nov. 10.

The findings fit with the writings of Champlain, who described a dire situation in his memoirs published in 1613. He wrote that his barber-surgeon was ordered to "open several of the men to determine the cause of their illness."

Dugua, a nobleman known as Sieur de Mons, chose the small island in the St. Croix River that separates what's now Maine and New Brunswick. The settlers cleared a site, planted gardens and erected dwellings including a kitchen, storehouse, blacksmith shop and chapel.

But the winter was harsh, with the first snow falling in October, not long after Champlain returned from a historic voyage to Mount Desert Island. Thirty-five of the settlers died and were buried on the island.

Scientists using modern techniques have concluded that the French settlers died from scurvy, which is caused by a lack of vitamin C.

A ship arrived in June with supplies. Dugua then moved the settlement to Nova Scotia at a spot Champlain named Port Royal.

The St. Croix settlement turned out to be short-lived but it gave the French credit for beating the English to establish a permanent presence in the New World.

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