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Thursday, November 29

Archaeologists from the University of Manchester digging in western Cyprus say that a 3,500-year-old domed kiln they unearthed near Paphos was used to dry malt and make beer during the Bronze Age. They also found grinding tools and mortars that may have been used to break down the grain, along with a hearth, cooking pots, and jugs that may have contained other ingredients such as yeast and flavorings. “Beer was commonly drunk because it is more nutritious than bread and less likely to contain harmful pathogens than drinking water which can make you ill,” explained archaeologist Lindy Crewe.

A fleet of nineteenth-century ships and an ancient harbor  have been found off the coast of northern Israel, near the site of Akko. The shipwrecks, which had been uncovered by a storm, may have been used in an Ottoman attempt to capture Akko in 1831. These ships and the structure of the Hellenistic port were discovered while testing a sub-bottom profiler for a project in deeper waters. The scientists were delighted by the discovery, however, because they think they might find rare Hellenistic ships buried in the port’s sediments. “We’ve got fragmentary historic records for this area in the Hellenistic period, and now we’ve found a very important feature from the ancient harbor. Ancient shipwrecks are another piece of the puzzle that will help us rewrite the story of this region at a critical time in Mediterranean history,” said Bridget Buxton of the Israel Coast Exploration Project.

The Drumclay Crannog  is an artificial island built in a lake in Northern Ireland’s County Fermanagh. Excavation of the crannog has uncovered homes that probably belonged to a noble family between 600 and 1600 A.D. “What has been found has the potential not only to be internationally important but ultimately to lead to a reassessment of life in Ulster in early Christian and medieval times,” said Environment Minister Alex Attwood. Combs, carved from antler and bone, suggest that the crannog residents had contact with northern Europe, where such items are known to have been made. Archaeologists have also found medieval artifacts such as chess-like gaming pieces; iron, bronze, and bone ornaments; parts of log boats; leather shoes; knives; dress pins; and wooden bowls. Here are some photographs  of features and artifacts from the site.

In 1769, Spanish soldiers, sailors, and missionaries built a fortress that became known as the San Diego Royal Presidio, where they interacted with Native American groups living in California at the time. “This site needs to be studied and interpreted and brought to the attention of the world as a World Heritage site,” said archaeologist Paul Chace. “For the first 60 years of operation, everyone had to live inside the walls of the fort made from adobe bricks. But after the Mexican Revolution, which freed Mexico from the rule of Spain, the Presidio was not funded and it fell into disrepair….By 1835, the Presidio was totally abandoned,” he said. City officials argue that the analysis of artifacts and oral histories already in their possession has to be completed first. “I don’t think anyone has a price-tag on what such a project would cost,” added Myra Herrmann of the city’s development services department.

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