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Monday, November 19
by Jessica E. Saraceni
November 19, 2012

On the banks of Scotland’s River Forth, archaeologists have unearthed a 10,000-year-old dwelling  that they are calling the oldest in the country. Post holes surrounding the large oval pit held upright wooden posts, which would have been covered to create walls. Some scientists think that animal skins may have been used to fashion a wigwam-style home, while others think a flatter turf roof is more likely. Inside the structure, archaeologists found traces of several fireplace hearths, in addition to charred hazelnut shells and more than 1,000 flint objects. “The discovery of this previously unknown and rare type of site has provided us with a unique opportunity to further develop our understanding of how early prehistoric people lived along the Forth,” said Ed Bailey, manager of the excavation project.

Another Mesolithic site, dating to 8,000 years ago, has been found in northwest England. This one boasts three structures, stone tools, evidence of camp fires, and more hazelnut shells. “The homes look like a family would comfortably fit in them and they were hollowed out in the sand as if they are using the place as natural shelter. There would have been wooden stakes that would have held the roof up but this kind of material doesn’t really survive,” said Ron Cowell of the Museum of Liverpool. Environmental evidence suggests that these dwellings were positioned on the edge of a swamp or lake.

Archaeologist Ken Tankersley and his students at the University of Cincinnati were surveying a floodplain of Ohio’s Little Miami River ahead of proposed highway construction when they found the Fort Ancient village  linked to the Madisonville site cemetery, which was discovered in the nineteenth century, and a serpent mound earthwork located on a ridge overlooking the village. “I’ve been trying to find this since 1972,” he said.

At least four petroglyphs have been stolen from public lands in area known as the Volcanic Tableland in California’s Eastern Sierra region. Additional images were damaged and defaced. “The individuals who did this were not surgeons, they were smashing and grabbing,” said Greg Haverstock, U.S. Bureau of Land Management archaeologist. The 3,500-year-old petroglyphs are sacred to the Paiute-Shoshone tribe and are still used in ceremonies. The BLM is offering a $1,000 reward for information in the case.

Last week, federal prosecutors filed papers in United States District Court in Manhattan claiming that Sotheby’s auction house colluded with the owner of a tenth-century Cambodian statue  to hide information from American customs officials. The government says it can prove that the statue was taken from the temple of Prasat Chen, where its feet remain, in 1972. Sotheby’s says that the statue left Cambodia before 1970, when United Nations agreements protecting cultural heritage went into effect. “There is no clear and unambiguous law that would have given purchasers fair notice that the modern state of Cambodia claims ownership of everything a long-defunct regime made and then abandoned 50 generations ago,” Sotheby’s said in a statement.

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