News

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Dissecting the diet of medieval peasants

A recent project analysing food residue on pottery from a medieval rural settlement in Raunds, Northamptonshire, has yielded detailed new information on the diet of peasants between the late Anglo-Saxon period and the 15th century – a vital aspect of medieval life that is often overlooked in the historical record.

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Roman marching camp revealed in Ayr

A previously unknown Roman marching camp has been discovered in Ayr, adding new evidence to our understanding of the Roman conquest of Scotland.

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Science Notes – Picking out Paget’s disease using proteomics

In CA 338, we discussed proteomics – the study of proteins – and how it is quickly growing as a new way of analysing archaeological remains. That month’s ‘Science Notes’ explored how it had been applied to dental calculus, or plaque build-up, to assess an individual’s diet and health. Now research has used proteomics to help with the identification and diagnosis of ancient diseases, further proving its potential to revolutionise our understanding of health through history.

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Generating the genomes of ancient plague

New DNA research into the evolution and spread of the plague has shown that during the first documented pandemic (AD 541-750) there were several different strains of the bacterium, Yersinia pestis, affecting different parts of Europe during different waves of the disease. The project also identified the earliest evidence of plague in Britain.

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Roman rabbit discovered at Fishbourne

A chance find made during re-examination of zooarchaeological remains from Fishbourne Roman palace could push back the timeline of the introduction of rabbits to Britain by more than a millennium.

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Finding the origins of the first farmers

A recent ancient DNA study looking at the genetics of Neolithic Britons provides strong evidence to suggest that the shift to farming in Britain was due to migration from the Continent and not from local populations adopting agricultural methods – something that has been hotly debated for decades.

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Getting to the core of Stonehenge

A long-forgotten piece of one of Stonehenge’s famous sarsen stones, which make up the outer ring of the monument, has travelled thousands of miles from the USA to return to the Salisbury Plain site. The core was drilled from one of the stones during excavation work in 1958, when archaeologists raised an entire fallen trilithon.

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Remains of Kirkwall Castle revealed

The remains of a long-destroyed medieval castle have been unearthed by the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA) during a watching brief for a road infrastructure project in the centre of Kirkwall, Orkney.

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Unusual Iron Age burial uncovered at Childrey

A settlement dating to the Iron Age and the Romano-British period has been uncovered near the village of Childrey in Oxfordshire, ahead of works to lay new water pipes for a Thames Water project.

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Science Notes – Fashioning the face of man’s best friend

Facial reconstructions have become an increasingly common output of archaeological analysis. From the dark-skinned Cheddar Man (see CA 337) to the battle-scarred men from the Mary Rose, these life-like models put a face (literally) on the past in a way that artefacts cannot. Now, a reconstruction has been created from the skull of a Neolithic dog, opening up new possibilities for the ways in which this forensic technique may be used in the future. But how are these models created, and how accurate are they? In this month’s ’Science Notes‘, we explore the details of this technique and how it was applied to a canine from Orkney.

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