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Bronze sword, gold-decorated spearhead unearthed at Scottish construction site

Lifting the Bronze Age sword (© GUARD Archaeology Ltd).

Lifting the Bronze Age sword (© GUARD Archaeology Ltd).

Archaeologists in Scotland have unearthed a hoard of stunning prehistoric artifacts, including a bronze sword and rare gold-decorated spearhead.

The trove was found prior to the construction of two soccer fields in Carnoustie by experts from GUARD Archaeology, working on behalf of the local government. A spokesman for  GUARD Archaeology told Fox News that excavations at the site have just finished.

The artifacts, which date to around 1,000 B.C. to 800 BC, have delighted archaeologists. “It is very unusual to recover such artefacts in a modern archaeological excavation, which can reveal so much about the context of its burial,”said GUARD Archaeology Project Officer Alan Hunter, who directed the excavation, in a statement.

 

The excavation site contains a host of archaeological features, including 12 circular houses that probably date the Bronze Age, as well as two halls likely dating to the Neolithic period, one of which is the largest of its type ever found in Scotland, estimated to be 6,000 years old. Clusters of large pits were also discovered, one of which contained the haul of metalwork.

In addition to the bronze spearhead and sword, archaeologists also found a lead and tin pommel from the end of a sword’s hilt, a bronze scabbard mount and chape (the metal point of a scabbard), and a bronze pin.

Archaeologists say that the spearhead’s gold ornament is particularly noteworthy, with the precious metal likely used to enhance the weapon’s visual impact.

The Carnoustie excavation also unearthed rare organic remains, such as a wooden scabbard that encased the sword blade, fur skin around the spearhead and textile around the pin and scabbard.

‘Organic evidence like Bronze Age wooden scabbards rarely survive on dryland sites so this just underlines how extraordinary these finds are,’ said GUARD Project Officer, Beth Spence, in the statement.

Because the remains discovered at Carnoustie are so fragile, archaeologists removed the entire pit and its surrounding subsoil and transported it to GUARD Archaeology’s lab, where it was CT scanned and X-rayed by the School of Veterinary Medicine at Glasgow University. Scan and X-ray data helped experts remove the artifacts from the block of soil. The bronze sword, pin, and scabbard fittings were unearthed near the spearhead.

This is just the latest fascinating archaeological discovery in Scotland. Experts, for example, have spent the last few years piecing together the history of a long-lost early medieval kingdom in southern Scotland.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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Biologists find weird cave life that may be 50,000 years old

  • FILE - In this July 3, 2008, file photo, New Mexico Tech professor Penny Boston crawls through the Mud Turtle Passage on the way to the Snowy River formation during an expedition in Fort Stanton Cave, N.M. Boston, who discovered extreme life in New Mexico caves in 2008, presented new findings on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 of microbes trapped in crystals in Mexico that could be 50,000 years old. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

    FILE – In this July 3, 2008, file photo, New Mexico Tech professor Penny Boston crawls through the Mud Turtle Passage on the way to the Snowy River formation during an expedition in Fort Stanton Cave, N.M. Boston, who discovered extreme life in New Mexico caves in 2008, presented new findings on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 of microbes trapped in crystals in Mexico that could be 50,000 years old. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)  (The Associated Press)

In a Mexican cave system so beautiful and hot that it is called both Fairyland and hell, scientists have discovered life trapped in crystals that could be 50,000 years old.

The bizarre and ancient microbes were found dormant in caves in Naica, Mexico, and were able to exist by living on minerals such as iron and manganese, said Penelope Boston, head of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute.

“It’s super life,” said Boston, who presented the discovery Friday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Boston.

If confirmed, the find is yet another example of how microbes can survive in extremely punishing conditions on Earth.

Though it was presented at a science conference and was the result of nine years of work, the findings haven’t yet been published in a scientific journal and haven’t been peer reviewed. Boston planned more genetic tests for the microbes she revived both in the lab and on site.

The life forms — 40 different strains of microbes and even some viruses — are so weird that their nearest relatives are still 10 percent different genetically. That makes their closest relative still pretty far away, about as far away as humans are from mushrooms, Boston said.

The Naica caves — an abandoned lead and zinc mine — are half a mile (800 meters) deep. Before drilling occurred by a mine company, the mines had been completely cut off from the outside world. Some were as vast as cathedrals with crystals lining the iron walls. They were also so hot that scientists had to don cheap versions of space suits — to prevent contamination with outside life — and had ice packs all over their bodies.

Boston said the team could only work about 20 minutes at a time before ducking to a “cool” room that was about 100 degrees (38 Celsius).

NASA wouldn’t allow Boston to share her work for outside review before Friday’s announcement so scientists couldn’t say much. But University of South Florida biologist Norine Noonan, who wasn’t part of the study but was on a panel where Boston presented her work, said it made sense.

“Why are we surprised?” Noonan said. “As a biologist I would say life on Earth is extremely tough and extremely versatile.”

This isn’t the oldest extreme life. Several years ago, a different group of scientists published studies about microbes that may be half a million years old and still alive. Those were trapped in ice and salt, which isn’t quite the same as rock or crystal, Boston said.

The age of the Naica microbes was determined by outside experts who looked at where the microbes were located in the crystals and how fast those crystals grow.

It’s not the only weird life Boston is examining. She is also studying microbes commonly found in caves in the United States, Ukraine and elsewhere that eat copper sulfate and seem to be close to indestructible.

“It’s simply another illustration of just how completely tough Earth life is,” Boston said.

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Dogs And Monkeys Judge You On How You Treat Others

Not long ago, we reported on a study that suggested babies as young as 6 months old have an innate sense of morality. Now, another study has looked into whether that applies to animals, such as dogs and monkeys. It turns out yes, both judge humans on how they treat other people, and both prefer us when we are nice, helpful, and fair.

Both animals displayed a preference for helpfulness in humans, and though the monkeys appeared to show a preference for fairer people, your dog is definitely still judging you.

 dog

The researchers from Kyoto University, Japan, suggest in their paper published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews that these types of judgment of behaviors could help us understand the origins of human morality.

The team carried out a series of experiments where humans acted out various behavioral scenarios and made the animals watch, to test how the animals reacted to human interactions. In one of the scenarios, an actor struggled to open a can and asked for help from a second person, who either helped or refused. Sometimes a third person passively watched, but did not get involved.

Afterward, the researchers got all three actors to offer treats to the animals who had been watching, and they reported that after all the experimental scenarios, all of the animals showed a clear disinclination to accept a treat from the person who refused to help, compared to those who were helpful and even the passive players.

According to lead author James Anderson, the tests showed that both monkeys and dogs make social judgments in a similar way to human children, primitive instinctive evaluations that may be the root to understanding our own sense of morality.

“If somebody is behaving antisocially, they probably end up with some sort of emotional reaction to it,” he told New Scientist. “In humans, there may be this basic sensitivity towards antisocial behavior in others. Then through growing up, inculturation and teaching, it develops into a full-blown sense of morality.”

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Scientists discover gigantic lost continent that sunk into the ocean millions of years ago

File photo - The sun rises over St. Clair beach in Dunedin Sept. 5, 2011. (REUTERS/Brandon Malone)

File photo – The sun rises over St. Clair beach in Dunedin Sept. 5, 2011. (REUTERS/Brandon Malone)

A lost continent that sunk 100 million years ago has been discovered underneath New Zealand.

The sunken world has been dubbed Zealandia as is mostly submerged beneath the South Pacific.

Zealandia stretched 1.9 million square miles and was 94 percent underwater, according to research published in the Geological Society of America’s Journal, GSA Today.

This makes it the size of greater India.

RESEARCHERS SAY LONG-LOST CONTINENT LIES BENEATH INDIAN OCEAN ISLAND

It was part of the Gondwana super-continent but broke away about 100 million years ago, researchers claimed.

New Zealand has never been regarded as part of the Australian continent, although the geographic term Australasia often is used for the collective land and islands of the southwest Pacific region.

But after 20 years of research, scientists believe that the isolated island belonged to its own super land mass.

There is no official body that recognizes new continents, but the scientists believe Zealandia has the same features as the six we are familiar with.

Lead author Nick Mortimer said scientists have been gathering data to make the case for Zealandia for two decades.

FIRST CAME A ‘CATASTROPHIC COLLAPSE,’ THEN A TSUNAMI

He wrote: “As well as being the seventh largest geological continent, Zealandia is the youngest, thinnest, and most submerged.

“The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is much more than just an extra name on a list.

“That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented makes it a useful and thought-provoking geodynamic end member in exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust.”

Discoveries of this kind proves that “the large and the obvious in natural science can be overlooked”, Mortimer concluded.

This article was originally published by The Sun.

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Civil War Cannons Retrieved From The Great Pee Dee River, South Carolina

Oct 23, 2016 George Winston

William Lockridge is part of a team that raised three Civil War cannons from the Great Pee Dee River.

“I had three children, and it’s kind of like having a child I guess, they show up and you’re happy and sooner or later when the crowd thins out I’ll go over and they’ll dry my babies out and I’m gonna kiss them,” he said.

The archaeologist was part of a team from the University of South Carolina.

 Each of the cannons weighs between 10,000 and 15,000 pounds. Two of them are Confederate Brooke Rifle cannons that are 11.8 and 12.25 feet each. The third is a captured Union Dahlgren cannon that is 8.9 feet long.

The cannons were artillery on the CSS Pee Dee. The gunboat was tasked with protecting the coast at the Mars Bluff Navy Yard. When it seemed the ship would be captured by the enemy, commanders ordered the cannons dumped into the river, and the ship set alight.

“Over the years ever since the guns were thrown overboard, people have always wondered about what happened to these guns, and so a number of individuals in the past, as well as present, were sort of looking for these guns,” underwater archaeologist James Spirek said.

It took twenty years for researchers to locate the first two cannons in 2009. The third one was located in 2012.

World War II veteran Catesby Jones was in the crowd watching the cannons get pulled out of the river. His great-grandfather made the Brooke Rifle Cannons in Selma, Alabama in 1863, WPDE reported.

 “I’ve been all over the country seeing these other tubes that were made in Selma, now that I’ve seen these two I’ve seen all of them,” Jones said.

“To the history of the shipyard, the history of the Confederacy, the Confederate navy, it’s a huge addition, and it can’t be measured. I don’t know that I have the words to properly express it,” Lockridge said.

Next up for the cannons is two years of soaking in preservation tubs at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston. Eventually, they will be displayed outside of the new Veterans Administration building in Florence County.

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