In the recent hot weather, the trees that line many of our urban streets offer welcome shade – but when these leafy avenues were first introduced to Britain they were highly controversial. We trace the progress and pitfalls of this movement from its 19th-century roots to the present day. Greenery was also a key feature […]
Last month, we reported in ‘News’ on the recent LiDAR work done to accurately measure the length of the Antonine Wall. Here, we highlight further groundbreaking research being carried out to uncover the history of this magnificent monument. Dr Louisa Campbell from the University of Glasgow has used X-ray and laser technology to analyse the remnants of the Wall as part of the Historic Environment Scotland-funded project, Paints and Pigments in the Past.
This month we are doing something a little different, exploring a wider theme rather than a specific technique. A recent public-interest piece in Nature – published in response to their research paper about the Bell Beaker culture (for more on this research, see CA 338) – discusses the ‘sometimes straining’ relationship between archaeologists and geneticists.
The nearly 10,000-year-old skeleton who came to be known as ‘Cheddar Man’ was found in 1903, in Gough’s Cave at Cheddar Gorge, Somerset. In more recent times, his remains have been on display in the Human Origins Hall at the Natural History Museum. Despite his fame, until recently little was known about this individual. Now a team from UCL and the Natural History Museum has successfully sequenced his DNA for the first time, revealing a wealth of details about his physical appearance – with dramatic implications for our understanding of how inhabitants of Mesolithic Britain looked.
Ancient DNA analysis of an Anglo-Saxon woman from East Anglia, afflicted with leprosy, has indicated that there could be a link between the spread of the disease and squirrels. The discovery adds to the already comparatively high number of medieval leprosy cases from the region.
In the first ‘Science Notes’ (CA 333), we discussed the identification of a possible female Viking warrior using ancient DNA analysis. This is a guaranteed way to confirm sex in human remains, but can be costly, time-consuming, and destructive to the bone, meaning that it is not feasible when a project needs to determine the sex of a large number of skeletons.
The Mesolithic–Neolithic transition in Britain is a widely debated topic, particularly with regard to the role migration played in spreading Neolithic farming practices from the Continent to Britain. Now researchers from Durham University are using isotope analysis to examine the childhood origins of early Neolithic Britons, in an initiative aiming to address this question.
For this month’s ‘Science Notes’, we went to the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU ) to explore the enigmatic process behind radiocarbon (14C) dating, sitting down with Professor Tom Higham, the deputy director of ORAU, and Dr David Chivall, the lab’s chemistry manager, to discuss ORAU’s history, laboratory practices, and current research, as well as future prospects.
A newly opened exhibition at Stonehenge documents the diet of the community thought to have been responsible for erecting the main phase of the monument – including the surprisingly far-flung origins of some of their food.
Joe Flatman explores half a century of reports from the past. A selection of articles mentioned by Joe Flatman in this month’s column below can be accessed for free for one month via Exact Editions, from 7 December. Use the links within the text to jump to the individual articles, or click on the covers below. […]