All posts by Archaeology World Team

Newly-Discovered Remains Suggest Earliest Humans Came From Europe, Not Africa

Newly-Discovered Remains Suggest Earliest Humans Came From Europe, Not Africa

For 200,000 years on earth has been Homo sapien, give or take a few ten-thousand-year stretches. Much of that time is shrouded in the fog of prehistory.

Everything we know has been assembled into the principles of evolutionary theory by deciphering fossil record. Nonetheless, new discoveries have the ability to refresh their information and bring researchers to new results that have not yet been considered.

This may just have happened a set of 8 million years old teeth. The upper and lower jaw of an ancient European ape was recently examined by scientists.

Their findings suggest that the forebears of mankind may have originated in Europe before migrating to Africa, potentially upending a scientific consensus that has stood since Darwin’s day.

Rethinking humanity’s origin story

The frontispiece of Thomas Huxley’s Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature (1863) sketched by natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins.

As reported in New Scientist, the 8- to 9-million-year-old hominin jawbones were found at Nikiti, northern Greece, in the ’90s.

This upper mandible was found in Nikiti, northern Greece

Scientists originally pegged the chompers as belonging to a member of Ouranopithecus, a genus of an extinct Eurasian ape.

David Begun, an anthropologist at the University of Toronto, and his team recently reexamined the jawbones.

They argue that the original identification was incorrect. Based on the fossil’s hominin-like canines and premolar roots, they identify that the ape belongs to a previously unknown proto-hominin.

The researchers hypothesize that these proto-hominins were the evolutionary ancestors of another European great ape Graecopithecus, which the same team tentatively identified as an early hominin in 2017.

Graecopithecus lived in south-east Europe 7.2 million years ago. If the premise is correct, these hominins would have migrated to Africa 7 million years ago, after undergoing much of their evolutionary development in Europe.

Begun points out that south-east Europe was once occupied by the ancestors of animals like the giraffe and rhino, too.

“It’s widely agreed that this was the found fauna of most of what we see in Africa today,” he told New Scientists. “If the antelopes and giraffes could get into Africa 7 million years ago, why not the apes?”

He recently outlined this idea at a conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

It’s worth noting that Begun has made similar hypotheses before. Writing for the Journal of Human Evolution in 2002, Begun and Elmar Heizmann of the Natural history Museum of Stuttgart discussed a great ape fossil found in Germany that they argued could be the ancestor (broadly speaking) of all living great apes and humans.

“Found in Germany 20 years ago, this specimen is about 16.5 million years old, some 1.5 million years older than similar species from East Africa,” Begun said in a statement then.

“It suggests that the great ape and human lineage first appeared in Eurasia and not in Africa.”

Divers found a perfectly preserved ancient Chinese underwater city

Divers found a perfectly preserved ancient Chinese underwater city

A maze of white temples, memorial arches, paved roads, and houses… hidden 130 feet underwater: this is China’s real-life Atlantis.

Incredible images show an incredible sunken city hidden in the depths of Qiandao Lake in China. Divers discovered a jaw-dropping labyrinth of adorned temples, memorial arches and dragon carvings, deep in the tranquil waters.

The ancient city, which is hidden 130 feet underwater, was once Shi Cheng – the centre of politics and economics in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

But despite it’s beauty, the city was deliberately flooded by the Chinese government in 1959 to make way for a new hydroelectric power station.

The historical metropolis, built over 1,300 years ago, was slowly filled with water until it was completely submerged by the turquoise-blue mass now referred to as Qiandao Lake.

Qiandao Lake, China. The city was submerged when the valley was flooded to build the Xin’anjiang Reservoir and Xin’an River hydroelectric station in 1959.

The city, which is now dubbed “Lion City” because it is tucked between the Five Lion Mountains, then lay forgotten for 53 years in the man-made lake.

The 1,300-year-old city is in near-perfect condition 

But since being rediscovered in almost perfect condition, it has resurfaced as an underwater adventure park for tourists. Depending on where on the lake bottom it is, the city is between 85 and 131 feet underwater.

Qiu Feng, a local official in charge of tourism, introduced the idea of using Shi Cheng as a destination for diving clubs.

The first voyage was one of discovery, and Qui said: “We were lucky. As soon as we dived into the lake, we found the outside wall of the town and even picked up a brick to prove it.”

It was later discovered that the entire town was intact, including wooden beams and stairs. Now the city has attracted interest from archaeologists and a film crew has been on site to record the preservation of the lost ruins.

Visibility can be quite low due to the unusual conditions

April-October is the recommended months to visit, as there is warmer weather at the lake and hopefully warmer water below the thermocline.

The colder air temperatures in Nov-March can make it uncomfortable for divers to do three dives in a day, particularly those diving in wetsuits. Depending on the time of year, the water temperature can range from 7-16c.

The Dives

Although it is breathtaking, it’s important to remember the differences between the conditions encountered here vs. clear ocean water. All divers are required to do an initial 25ft dive in the lagoon, to ensure they are safe to continue.

Visibility at the surface is about 5ft at best, dropping down to a mere 6 inches in some places at the bottom of the lagoon. But this isn’t the only bizarre sunken city which has been uncovered after years of neglect.

Real-Life Excalibur Found Underwater In Bosnia – Medieval Sword In Stone Pulled Out

Real-Life Excalibur Found Underwater In Bosnia – Medieval Sword In Stone Pulled Out

A 700-year-old sword stuck in the solid rock was pulled out. Credit: Igor Radojicic, the mayor of nearby Banja Luja, the second-largest city in Bosnia

The 700-year-old weapon is being compared to King Arthur’s legendary magical sword because of similarities in how it was discovered.

According to ancient legend, King Arthur was the only person able to pull a sword called Excalibur from a stone, making him the rightful heir to Britain in the 5th and early 6th centuries.

We haven’t been able to locate King Arthur’s legendary sword, but this discovery is stunning, nevertheless.

The archaeologists who recently pulled the 14th-century sword from the Vrbas River will not be getting a royal status but their find is being called archaeologically significant.

Archaeologists report they have pulled a Medieval sword embedded in rock at the bottom of the Vrbas River in Bosnia.

Igor Radojicic, the mayor of nearby Banja Luja, the second-largest city in Bosnia

The 700-year-old sword was found 36 feet underwater, stuck in a rock while archaeologists were excavating a nearby castle.

Only one other sword like this is thought to have been found in the Balkans in the past 90 years.

According to Ivana Pandzic, archaeologist and curator at the Museum of the Republika Srpska said: “The sword was stuck in solid rock, so special care was needed when pulling it out.

The blade has been dated back to around the 14 century and is the first sword to be found near the medieval city of Zveča.

The medieval castle nearby was destroyed in 1777 but had likely been home to medieval nobility who ruled over the local village of Zvecaj.

“Janko Vracar, a historian of the Republika Srpska Museum, the main museum in the mainly Serb entity of Bosnia, told the media that the sword was of a type used from the end of the 13th to the first half of the 15th century, based on analysis of the blade,” Balkan Insight reports.

Experts are now trying to work out how the weapon came to be embedded in the rock and why.

6,000-Year-Old Pre-Viking Artifacts Discovered in Norway as Climate Change Melts Glaciers

6,000-Year-Old Pre-Viking Artifacts Discovered in Norway as Climate Change Melts Glaciers

Over thousands of years, ancient objects hidden in snow and ice in the Norwegian mountains appear at an unprecedented rate, with archeologists trying to gather them all before it is too late.

The research results were remarkable: iron arrowheads from 1,500 years old, tunics from the Iron Age and even the remains of the wooden ski with leather binding left somewhere behind sometime in the year 700.

The cause behind the rapid emergence of these old relics is climate change, which dramatically reduces the alpine ice, which is a time capsule for lost treasures, by low natural snow and hotter summers.

Lars Pilö, an archeologist who works for the county council of Oppland, told Archaeology in 2013 that “ice is a time machine.” “When you’re really lucky, the artifacts are exposed for the first time since they were lost.”

Unlike glaciers, which tend to crush and grind objects as they move down a mountain, the majority of artifacts coming out of Norway are being recovered from ice patches.

These isolated non-moving accumulations of ice and snow are significant to the archeological record because of their extreme stability, with many containing layers of seasonal snowpack dating back thousands of years.

Sections of ice in the Juvfonne snow patch in Jotunheimen, Norway, are an astounding 7,600 years old, according to a 2017 study.

An Iron Age tunic recovered from the Lendbreen ice patch in August 2011. 

Despite their remote setting and scarce visits from modern-day humans, ice patches for thousands of years were veritable hot spots for ancient hunters.

In the summer, reindeer herds often crowd together on the islands of snow and ice to escape pesky, biting botflies, which have a strong aversion to the cooler temperatures. In the past, hunters would follow, losing or forgetting precious equipment along the way that was later buried and preserved in the winter snows.

Some items, such as the 1,600-year-old knife shown in the video below, look as if they were lost only a few decades ago.

Because ice patches in the past have contracted and expanded due to temperature shifts, many of the objects recovered have likely one time or another been exposed and then reburied by snow and ice. They also have a tendency to be carried by meltwater.

As explained on the Secrets of the Ice Facebook page, the 2,600-year-old arrows shown in the image below were washed downslope far from the place they were originally lost.

Arrows discovered in the scree of an ice patch were later determined to date back to 600 B.C.

Some of the most exciting finds are those objects found emerging from the surface of the ice, a sign that they have previously been untouched by melting, according to researchers from the Oppland County Council.

These artifacts are generally exceptionally preserved, with organic materials such as leather and fabric still present. It’s also an indication of the severity of anthropogenic global warming, with certain ice patches in Norway estimated to have retreated to levels last seen during the Stone Age.

“It’s very impressive when you can say this melting ice is 5,000 years old, and this is the only moment in the last 7,000 years that the ice has been retreating,” Albert Hafner, an archaeologist at the University of Bernsays Hafner, told Archaeology. “Ice is the most emotional way to show climate change.”

The preserved remains of a 3400-year-old hide shoe discovered on an ice patch in 2006. Over the last 30 years, some 2,000 artifacts have been recovered from Norway’s melting ice fields.

Unfortunately for archaeologists, the rate of ice loss coupled with the extremely small annual windows of opportunity to scour the alpine patches means some newly exposed items will break down and disappear before anyone has a chance to study them.

“This material is like the library of Alexandria. It is incredibly valuable and it’s on fire now,” George Hambrecht, an anthropologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, told New Scientist.

Right now you might be thinking, “I want to help find and preserve these incredible artifacts!,” and we agree, it sounds like quite the adventure to take a romp into the Norwegian wilderness and possibly stumble upon a well-preserved Viking Sword (see below). The reality, however, is that fieldwork can sometimes be laborious and uncomfortable, with every day at the mercy of Mother Nature’s fickle moods.

That said, the Oppland County Council did accept volunteers last spring and it’s possible, especially with so many finds emerging from the ice each year, that others may be called upon to assist.

“We may not find much (or we could strike the jackpot, who knows),” Lars Pilø wrote last April in the Secrets blog. “It all depends on the melting conditions, and they develop over the summer and during fieldwork. If we are unlucky, the scenery and the team spirit make up for the lack of finds.”

A Viking sword discovered in 2017 and dating back to c. AD 850-950.

‘One of the greatest finds’: experts shed light on Staffordshire hoard

‘One of the greatest finds’: experts shed light on Staffordshire hoard

A collection of Anglo-Saxon gold artifacts known as the Staffordshire hoard has been hailed as ‘one of the greatest finds of British archaeology’ by researchers.

The archaeologist believes the booty originated in a series of Dark Age battlefields, during conflicts between rival English kingdoms. now they believe they were captured in several big mid-seventh century battles.

The gold, dubbed the Staffordshire Hoard, may have been recovered at up to six major military encounters. It is said that this treasure was taken from Northumbria, East Anglia and possibly Wessex by the English Midland kingdom of Mercia.

The collection-the greatest golden treasure ever found – is one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made in Britain.

'One of the greatest finds': experts shed light on Staffordshire hoard
Dr. Fern believes the items were taken from Northumbria and East England by Mercian armies from a kingdom in the center of what is now England, The Guardian reports

In an area in south-eastern Staffordshire, archäologists will publish a complete account after ten years ‘ detailed research of hundreds of high-status gold and silver artifacts that a metal detector found a decade ago.

The resulting book, published by the world’s oldest historical organization, describes all of the hoard’s 700 objects, including 4kg of gold items and 1.7kg of silver.

The ancient artifacts amazingly do not seem to reflect the wide range of gold and silver artifacts that would have existed in Anglo-Saxon society.

Research instead suggests the material is almost exclusively military in nature.

Even one of the small number of ecclesiastical objects in the hoard appears to have been of a potential military character. Highlights of the Staffordshire Hoard include golden fittings from up to 150 swords, gold and garnet elements of a high-status fighting knife.

Other notable items include a spectacular gilded silver helmet, an impressive 30cm-long golden cross, a beautiful gold and garnet pectoral cross, a probable bishop’s headdress and what is thought to have been a portable battlefield shrine.

A reconstruction of a gold helmet from the period.

An extraordinarily ornate bishop’s headdress is the world’s earliest surviving example of high-status ecclesiastical headgear.

Dating from the mid-seventh century AD, its presence in an otherwise predominantly military hoard suggests its religious owner may well have been performing a supporting role on a battlefield.

The headdress bears no resemblance to later medieval or modern bishops’ miters and will likely trigger debate among historians as to its stylistic origins, due to its similarity to those worn by early medieval clerics.

The discovery may, therefore, prompt scholarly speculation that the style of headwear worn by senior Christian priests in the early medieval period could have been at least partly inspired by perceived biblical precedent.

The headdress, crafted in gold and inlaid with garnets and white and dark red glass, dates from the period when Christianity was being re-established across many of the local kingdoms that would eventually become England.

It represents the status and prestige of the Church – but, significantly, it is decorated with typical pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon semi-abstract animal designs as well as seven Christian crosses.

If indeed the archaeologists are right in believing it to be potentially an early-to-mid-seventh century bishop’s headdress, it would have been worn, perhaps during royal or other ceremonial events, by the first or second generation of clergy involved in the re-Christianisation of what is now England.

The portable shrine, potentially presided over by the owner of the headdress or a similar senior cleric, was probably designed to be carried into battle on two horizontal poles. Only seven elements of the shrine, all made of gold, have survived.

Evidence of hidden pyramid discovered in Saqqara near Egypt’s oldest pyramid

Evidence of hidden pyramid discovered in Saqqara near Egypt’s oldest pyramid

A 30-year-old archeologist with work experience in Egypt made an impressive report.

It says it has found evidence of a secret pyramid deep below the desert of Saqqara. If it has proven to be correct, that could be said that Egypt has still many other pyramids.

According to the Daily Express, ‘ The last thirty years Dr. Vasko Dobrev has been exploring the area just 19 miles from Giza’s world-famous Pyramid.

During this time he made many amazing discoveries. The specialist has recently appeared on Channel 5, a British television channel. The series starred Tony Robinson, the popular TV character and is called “Opening the Great Tomb of Egypt.”

Development of the Pyramid

Two royal burial sites, located near the old Egyptian capital city of Memphis, were visited by Robinson and Dobrev. This area was crucial in the development of the step-pyramids during the Old Kingdom period.

The first of this type of construction was built here for Pharaoh Djoser of the 3rd Dynasty by the architect Imhotep, but these monuments were not perfected until the reign of Snefru (reigned 2613 to 2589 BC). This Pharaoh, who established the 4th dynasty, constructed three pyramids, of which the best known is the Red Pyramid.

Hunting for a Buried Pyramid

Dobrev claims to have found the remains of a pyramid. He believes that a ‘new Pyramid may lie buried beneath the sand in the area of Saqqara South,’ reports

It is located north-west of the burial place of Pharaoh Pepi I , in Tabbet al-Guesh. Dobrev told Robinson that Saqqara still has more wonders to reveal.

Kneeling statue of Pharaoh Pepi I.

The Egyptologist told the amazed British documentary-maker, that “ Saqqara boasts the first pyramid and a great many more,” according to the Daily Express.

Dobrov believes that all the members of a dynasty were buried here because of its close proximity to Memphis. Not all of the royal burials have been accounted for and he believes this means more pyramids are yet to be found.

The Egyptologist took Robinson to a flat plateau where he believes there are traces of a pyramid. It has remained undiscovered for millennia, he believes. Dobrov is confident that the base of a pyramid built for Pharaoh Userkare (23rd century BC) lies under the sand.

Buried in the Desert Sands

The Egyptologist argues that this pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty did not live long enough for his pyramid to be built. quotes Dobrov saying that the monarch, “may have only had time to create the pyramid base .” 

The expert believes that the location was likely the site of the Userkare pyramid because it is near his father’s and other family members’ burial places.

The Egyptologist revealed that there is an unidentified structure underneath the sand in the area that is likely to be man-made because it has right angles.

This was revealed by a scan of the location, conducted using the latest geophysical technology. The structure is estimated to measure 240 ft by 240 ft (80m by 80m), based on the scan. reports this is ‘precisely the dimension of a pyramid spanning back to the period when Userkare reigned’.

Scan of the desert where a possible pyramid exists buried beneath the sand. Image Credit: Channel 5 (UK).

Traces of Userkare’s Pyramid?

It appears that the expert found a square structure that could very well be the base of a pyramid. Dobrov provided the British documentary maker with an image of a scan. This showed something unusual beneath the desert sands, however, it is debatable if it is conclusive proof.

There are no indications yet of any future plans to excavate the area where a lost pyramid may be buried. It seems likely that Dobrov will continue to work in the area as he has done for some three decades. If he is proven correct, there could be many more than the 120 currently known pyramids in Egypt.

Divers exploring a shipwreck share video of encounter with enormous alien-like egg sac

Divers exploring a shipwreck share video of encounter with enormous alien-like egg sac

The deep seas reveal the most alien-looking life we will ever have without leaving Earth. Over and over. This was exactly the case at the recent water dive in the vicinity of Ørstafjorden, Norway.

While discovering a shipwreck of the Second World War, according to the BBC, sailors were on their way back, when they stumbled upon a mysterious translucent orb floating just 50 feet above the ocean floor.

At first sight, the giant blob looking totally alien, with a tissue-like material inside it — as large as the strange divers swimming around it — looks.  One of the researchers documented the strange encounter on video.

As it turned out, the otherworldly-looking object was actually a giant squid egg sac.

In the two-and-a-half minute recording of the encounter, divers Ronald Raasch and Nils Baadnes can be seen curiously circling the enormous ball, which appeared translucent in the cloudy water.

As they inspected the orb closer, they shined their flashlights onto the surface of the object’s exterior — illuminating the silhouettes of the swarms of tiny, maggot-like creatures wriggling around inside. The egg sac was likely carrying thousands of baby squids.

The official account for the researchers’ REV ocean vessel tweeted out the full video of the encounter, complete with the divers’ conclusions about the strange-looking orb: “#Mysterysolved! Captain Baadnes & Ronald Raasch discovered this giant gel ball while diving in Orstafjord, which is actually an eggmass of 10-armed.”

These egg masses are very rarely glimpsed because the sacs fill up with water and sink down toward the bottom of the ocean floor, where it is difficult for divers to reach.

But this latest sighting in the deep waters off the shores of Norway isn’t the first time that marine researchers have unexpectedly crossed paths with these giant jelly nurseries.

In 2015, squid expert Danna Staaf captured her encounter with a 13-foot-wide red flying squid egg mass while diving in the Gulf of California. In the subsequently-released study, Staaf noted that the giant egg sac likely functioned as a protective shield for the squid embryos inside it, keeping them safe from predators and parasites.

“We know that mama squid has these special glands in her body that make jelly and she mixes that jelly with her eggs in some way,” Staaf explained in a video published by National Geographic.

“And it’s concentrated. So when she produces it, it’s just a concentrated ball of snot with eggs in it, basically. We don’t know exactly what the chemicals are but they have some reaction, some ability to absorb water and expand in water. And we’ve all seen artificial chemicals like that… but this is just nature’s version of that.”

Todarodes sagittatus, the European flying squid that lives in the Norwegian Sea and which might have been the species that laid the egg sac in question.

The elastic nature of the egg sac is also believed to help maintain enough space between each squid embryo so that each egg can get enough oxygen to somehow support the development of the baby squids.

When Staaf and her team tried to grow young squid inside the laboratory using in vitro fertilization, the embryos — grown without the protective egg sac from their mother — became infected and were unable to mature properly.

One unsolved question still remains from Baadnes’ and Raasch’s recent egg encounter: Which species of squid did the egg sac come from? Although the REV account attributed the eggs to a “10-armed squid,” there are no known squid species with that many tentacles.

It’s difficult to pinpoint which species may have laid the giant egg sac. For one, several different species lay their eggs inside similar jelly-like protectors. The egg sacs between different species aren’t easily distinguishable simply by looking at them, either.

The baby squid visible within the egg sac.

Some possible species known to live in the Norwegian waters are the Boreoatlantic armhook squid (Gonatus fabricii) and the European flying squid (Todarodes sagittatus), but we’ll never know for sure where this enormous egg mass came from.

There is much that scientists still don’t know about these elusive sea creatures and how they breed, and the little we know about these animals might as well make them alien to us after all.

Ancient astronaut theorists take note as scientists trace ancestral home of all humans to southern Africa

Ancient astronaut theorists take note as scientists trace ancestral home of all humans to southern Africa

According to researchers, all modern human beings could have descended from people now in Botswana.

Scientists believe they have discovered for the first time the “cradle of humanity,” where the first modern human beings evolved before spreading throughout the world.

In the prehistoric wetland of Makgadikgadi – Okavango just to the south of the Zambezi River are believed to have flourished.

Researchers have shown that the genetic root of every modern person comes from this region 200,000 years ago, a study of DNA records and migration patterns shows.

The wetland was a warm, lush green Garden of Eden in which early humans thrived before migrating when a wobble in the earth’s axis 130,000 years ago caused the climate to turn dry.  

And direct descendants of these pioneers can still be found living in the arid Kalahari desert today.

The first humans are believed to have developed in the prehistoric Makgadikgadi–Okavango wetland, just to the south of the Zambezi River. Their direct descendants – the Kehoe San people – still live there today
The Zambezi river pouring into Victoria Falls, near to the Kehoe San people’s homeland in Botswana
Zambezi River borders of Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe & Botswana

‘It has been clear for some time anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago,’ said the lead researcher, Professor Vanessa Hayes.

‘What has been long debated is the exact location of this emergence and subsequent dispersal of our earliest ancestors.’

Professor Hayes, from Sydney University, studied the DNA of more than 1,200 living African people to pinpoint the origin of modern humanity.

She took samples from people called the Kehoe San, who live in rural Africa and who are known to be the most closely related to the original humans, and people genetically linked to them.

Her team could trace common ancestors of all the distinct groups back to the Makgadikgadi area of Botswana, which they have deemed the origin of man.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, add to existing geological and fossil evidence that proves Lake Makgadikgadi was home to early humans. In the past, scientists have suggested that smaller pockets of humans evolved in various places around Africa before spreading.

But Professor Hayes said the original humans evolved in the Makgadikgadi–Okavango wetland and remained there for a whopping 70,000 years.

‘There was a very large lake,’ she said. ‘By the time modern humans arrived, it was breaking up into smaller ones – creating a wetland.’

And she claims ‘green corridors’ of vegetation grew out of the wetland, which developed from a lake twice the size of the 23,000-square-mile Lake Victoria in Tanzania and Uganda, allowing people to migrate north-east and south-west.

Wetland is one of the healthiest ecosystems for sustaining life and would have been abundant enough for the human species to become established.

The climate then changed, drying out the land and causing the wetland to become what is now a region of salt pans and desert – this forced people to migrate.

Professor Hayes said: ‘The first migrants ventured northeast, followed by a second wave of migrants who traveled southwest.

‘A third population remained in the homeland until today. ‘In contrast to the northeasterly migrants, the southwesterly explorers appear to flourish, experiencing steady population growth.’