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Wednesday, September 24
September 24, 2008

Italian president Giorgio Napolitano handed over a chunk of the Parthenon Marbles removed from Greece by Lord Elgin in the nineteenth century. The fragment had been in a museum in Sicily. “This gesture is especially appreciated,” said Greek president Karolos Papoulias.

A multinational team of archaeologists has been racing to salvage the sixteenth-century shipwreck discovered at a diamond mine off the coast of Namibia. The site is surrounded by a massive wall of sand to hold back the sea, but only until October 10. The ship was carrying copper, tin, ivory, gold and silver coins, and cannons and cannonballs, and is thought to have been a merchant crown ship of Portugal.  

Scientists are analyzing the composition of kangaroo fossils in order to try to trace ancient Aboriginal settlement, migration, and fire stick farming, a traditional Australian practice of burning wooded areas to force lizards out of hiding. Kangaroos and emus then eat the grasses that grow on the cleared land. This change in diet could show up in their fossils. “It’s completely untested. It might not work. But if it does, that’d be cool,” said Doug Bird of Stanford University.  

The Iraqi city of Samarra has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  

A photograph of the Riace Bronzes taken just after they were pulled from the sea in 1972 has once again prompted speculation by amateur sleuth Giuseppe Bragho. He says that a third statue, two shields, and a lance were spotted by the scuba diver who reported his discovery.  

A seventeenth-century Basque whaling station in Iceland includes a building for melting whale blubber, a barrel workshop, and a bunkhouse for the hunters.  

Police in Macedonia raided the homes of two suspected antiquities smugglers, and confiscated coins, terracotta figurines, jewelry, and amphora thought to have been stolen from the site of Isar.  

Here’s some more information on the pre-Columbian artifacts repatriated to Ecuador yesterday. The looted objects were recovered in Miami two years ago.

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Tuesday, September 23
September 23, 2008

Neanderthals ate a wider variety of foods than previously thought. Bones of seals and dolphins, and open mussel shells that may have been heated, were found in caves in Gibraltar. “They were also heating bones, not to cook the meat but to get at the marrow inside. By putting bones in fires, they were making them more brittle so they could get them open more easily,” said Chris Stringer from London’s Natural History Museum.

Chimpanzees in captivity clearly prefer cooked food over raw, supporting the idea that early humans probably began cooking shortly after mastering the use of fire.   

Here’s more information from the recent excavation at Stonehenge from The Guardian.  

Part of the sixteenth-century Venetian bastion of Nicosia, Cyprus, was uncovered by archaeologists working in the city’s historic center. “When the British wanted to connect Stasinou Avenue with Ledra and Onasagorou streets sometime before the 1930s, they either knocked the wall down where Eleftheria Square is now, or they simply covered it. So we were expecting something,” said Pavlos Flourenzos, director of the antiquities department.  

The story of the skeletons discovered beneath the floorboards of St. Peter’s Church in St. George, Bermuda, has popped up again.  

The New Lynn Hotel was built in Aukland the late nineteenth century, and torn down in July. “There aren’t many hotel sites that have been excavated to that extent in New Zealand and certainly not many of that era in Waitakere city, it’s quite important,” said archaeologist Hans Bader.  

Scientists used a particle accelerator to examine a painting by Van Gogh, and found another painting beneath it. “Normally we work on minerals, biological cells, bone samples, trying to establish their molecular composition,” said Wolfgang Drube of the electron synchrotron research center in Hamburg, Germany. “With this new technique we can reveal the image in color,” he added.  

Some 150 stolen artifacts recovered in Miami in 2006 will be returned to Ecuador today.

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