martes, 22 de enero de 2013

Dig discovers 9,000-year-old remains at Didcot

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have proved for the first time that people started living in the Didcot area as early as 9,000 years ago.

3/4. One of the flint arrowheads found at the dig
 Oxford Archaeology has been excavating land at Great Western Park, where more than 3,300 homes are being built, to detail the site’s history.
The two-and-a-half-year dig has uncovered the remains of a Roman villa, and early Bronze Age arrowheads which will now go on display.

Rob Masefield – director of archaeology at RPS Planning, which is managing the investigation – said one of the most important discoveries was hundreds of flints dating back over 9,000 years to the Mesolithic period.
He said: “There might have been one or two finds from the Mesolithic period in the past but they have not been scientifically dated in such a significant way before – these were working flints used around campfires about 9,000 years ago.

“This is one of the largest and most significant archaeological projects to have taken place in Oxfordshire in recent years, with results providing a detailed historical narrative for Didcot and the surrounding area that extends back deep into prehistory.”
Oxford Archaeology project manager Steve Lawrence, who is based in Osney Mead, Oxford, added: “The site demonstrates about 1,000 years of continuous settlement.”

Key finds include Bronze Age arrowheads from a ceremonial pond barrow burial mound, and a piece of Roman pottery featuring a face design.
Investigations launched in 2011 unearthed early prehistoric finds including a complete Neolithic bowl of the earliest farmers, dating to about 3600 BC.

And excavations last year revealed a rare example of a late Neolithic to early Bronze Age pond barrow, from about 2000 BC.
The dig also located a large hillcrest Iron Age settlement, west of Stephen Freeman Primary School, with up to 60 roundhouses.

There were also hundreds of grain storage pits, human burials, domestic rubbish, pottery dumps and animal bones.
The Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot is staging an exhibition about the dig, from February 7 to March 3.

Actualización 14-02-13. Didcot dig: A glimpse of 9,000 years of village life
When archaeologists began digging the fields in 2010 they knew it was a site of historical interest, but even they were surprised by the wealth of ancient finds their trowels unveiled...

Fossil human traces line to modern Asians

Researchers have been able to trace a line between some of the earliest modern humans to settled China and people living in the region today.

The evidence comes from DNA extracted from a 40,000-year-old leg bone found in a cave near Beijing.

Results show that the person it belonged to was related to the ancestors of present-day Asians and Native Americans.

The results are published in the journal PNAS.

Humans who looked broadly like present-day people started to appear in the fossil record of Eurasia between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago.

But many questions remain about the genetic relationships between these early modern humans and present-day Homo sapiens populations.

For example, some evidence hints at extensive migration into Europe after the last Ice Age.

And fossil finds from Red Deer Cave, also in China, and Iwo Eleru in Nigeria point to a hitherto unappreciated diversity among Late Pleistocene humans.

New technique

The team managed to extract genetic material from an ancient leg bone found in 2003 at the site of Tianyuan Cave outside Beijing. [...] BBC News

Link 2: A relative from the Tianyuan Cave: Humans living 40,000 years ago likely related to many present-day Asians and Native Americans

Actualización. Hallan un antiquísimo pariente de asiáticos y americanos actuales en una cueva de China
 El análisis del ADN de los restos fósiles de una pierna de 40.000 años de antigüedad ayudará a comprender la expansión de los humanos modernos por Eurasia.
El análisis del ADN de los restos fósiles de la pierna de un humano moderno temprano ha revelado el parentesco entre este y los asiáticos y los americanos actuales. Los restos tienen una antigüedad de 40.000 años y fueron encontrados en 2003 en una cueva cercana a Pekín. Según los investigadores, este parentesco genético no existe con los antepasados de los actuales europeos. Futuros análisis de los restos podrían explicar mejor cuándo y cómo los humanos modernos se expandieron por Europa y Asia. [...] Tendencias 21

Referencia bibliográfica:
Qiaomei Fu, Matthias Meyer, Xing Gao, Udo Stenzel, Hernán A. Burbano, Janet Kelso, Svante Pääbo. DNA analysis of an early modern human from Tianyuan Cave, China. PNAS, Online Early Edition (2013).