Ancient Egyptian Mummy Linen Fragments Seized in Michigan
U.S. border officials say they have seized ancient Egyptian mummy linens during enforcement operations at the Blue Water Bridge that connects Port Huron, Mich., to Sarnia, Ont.
Five containers containing the artifacts were seized on May 25 following the selection of the truck for examination in Michigan near Sarnia, Ont., the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
The artifacts had come from Canada in a bulk mail shipment, and were being shipped to a home in the United States, Kris Grogan, spokesman for the agency, said in an interview.
“It’s taken some time to identify what they were,” Grogan said. “We’ve had to work with the State Department as well as other federal agencies in identifying this.”
The artifacts would be sent back to Egypt in the near future, Grogan said.
In a statement, the agency said the importer was unable to prove the linens had been taken out of Egypt before 2016.
That could be a violation of the U.S. Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, a federal law that allows American authorities to impose import restrictions on certain classes of archeological material.
Authorities said they worked with an unidentified archeological organization to pin down the age of the artifacts, which are believed to date back to the Ptolemaic Dynasty from 305-30 B.C.
One expert in antiquities, Sue McGovern-Huffman, said trying to illegally buy ancient artifacts is more trouble than it’s worth no matter what era the object is from.
“If it’s been illegally taken out of the country, it’s got a zero value as far as the commercial market is concerned,” McGovern-Huffman, president of Sands of Time Antiquities, said from Washington, D.C.
Without an artifact’s provenance or proof of ownership and history, even illegally selling ancient artifacts would be difficult for any dealer on the black market, she said.
McGovern-Huffman, an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers, said pieces like ancient mummy linens have more archeological or study interest than collector interest.
“These fragments have very little value. There are all these reports of antiquities selling for millions and billions of dollars on the black market and it’s completely wrong,” she said. “You’d be lucky to get $50 for this stuff.”
Michael Fox, the customs agency director in Port Huron, Mich., said the seizure was of “historical importance.”
Grogan said no arrests have been made as it remains unclear who might be criminally responsible.
Archaeologists have discovered more artifacts at the first Celtic chariot burial site to be found in southern Britain.
Two iron tires and a sword from the chariot had been retrieved throughout an excavation in Pembrokeshire.
The precise website stays a secret and follows the invention of ornamental objects by a steel detector fanatic on the identical land in February 2018.
Nationwide Museum Wales is conserving the chariot items.
Archaeologists had suspected they might uncover extra beneath the farmland the place steel detectorist Mike Smith discovered a variety of objects related to a chariot.
Following a preliminary investigation in June 2018 by archaeologists from NationwideMuseum Wales and Dyfed Archaeological Belief, a dig was carried out in March and April, funded by Nationwide Museum Wales, Cadw, and the Nationwide Lottery Heritage Fund.
The staff found bronze artifacts, the iron tyres of the chariot wheels and an iron sword.
Adam Gwilt, principal curator of prehistoric archaeology at Nationwide Museum Wales, stated: “It’s the first chariot burial to be discovered not simply in Wales, however in southern Britain.
“Chariots, like warfare and ceremonial autos, had been used to show the ability and id of their homeowners and tribal communities in late Iron Age Britain, because of the nice ornament on these artifacts exhibits.
“Whereas we nonetheless know little about their proprietor, these chariot items in all probability belonged to a person or lady of some standing inside their tribe or neighborhood.”
Nationwide Museum Wales hopes to purchase the objects discovered by Mr. Smith to allow them to be displayed alongside the chariot wheels and sword at St Fagans Nationwide Museum of Historical past.
Dr. Kate Roberts, the principal inspector of historical monuments at Cadw, stated: “A singular archaeological discovery like this stirs our creativeness – we marvel who the charioteer was and concerning the world, they lived in.
“By finding out these artifacts we hope to study extra a few time when the nice change within the form of the Roman Empire was sweeping throughout Wales.”
Oldest non-African modern human fossil revealed to be 195,000 years old
The popular consensus in palaeoanthropology places the ancestors of our species exclusively in Africa before making a successful migration into Eurasia around 60,000 years ago.
There has been some level of recognition that perhaps small numbers of early modern humans reached the Levant and the Middle East around 120,000 years ago.
It was believed that these earlier populations represented a small-scale failed migration that barely managed to leave the continent before dying off. Now new Homo sapiens fossils from Israel suggest that this popular model is almost completely wrong.
Human origins are a murky affair; there is no definitive narrative to this story beyond a few fixed points between which lines can potentially be drawn in multiple (at times conflicting) directions.
The first thing anyone that follows palaeoanthropology should recognize is that the entire subject is dependent not so much on archaeological and genetic evidence as it is on accurate interpretations and sensible assumptions.
There is no Homo sapiens DNA available that is older than 45,000 years, and the fossil record of early modern and archaic Homo sapiens is very sparse. This means any favored human-origins hypothesis can change rapidly on the turn of a trowel.
Israeli scientists have published a confirmation of an archaic Homo sapiens jaw fragment associated with a discovery made back in 2002, at the Misliya Cave site, one of Mount Carmel’s many caves.
The article released in the science journal Nature, titled “Israeli Fossils Are the Oldest Modern Humans Ever Found Outside of Africa,” explains that the archaeological dig is situated just a few kilometers away from the Skhul cave, which has already produced modern-human remains dated at 80,000 to 120,000 years old.
After considerable analysis by multiple methods and involving international teams, the jaw fragment was accepted to be that of an early modern human living around 177,000 to 194,000 years ago.
“We called it ‘Searching for the Origins of the Earliest Modern Humans’; this was what we were looking for,” says Mina Weinstein-Evron, an archaeologist at the University of Haifa in Israel.
This incredibly ancient human bone further erodes the recent “Out of Africa” model. Not only were early modern human populations living beyond Africa 120,000 years ago, but they had already colonized western Eurasia almost 200,000 years ago. This date from Israel is virtually contemporary with those of the oldest early modern human remains found in East Africa, at 160,000 to 195,000 years of age (the Omo and Herto Skulls).
This latest announcement comes hot on the heels of several other “problematic” findings, including a new status for China’s Dali Skull, now identified as being that of a 260,000-year-old archaic Homo sapiens.
The other major upset for existing models involved the detection of an interbreeding event between Neanderthals and archaic Homo sapiens that occurred somewhere in Eurasia around 270,000 years ago, emerging from the study of a Neanderthal bone at the Hohlenstein-Stadel archaeological site in Germany.
The Hohlenstein-Stadel genetic study was published by Nature in late 2016, under the title “Deeply Divergent Archaic Mitochondrial Genome Provides Lower Time Boundary for African Gene flows into Neanderthals.”
When we factor in additional discoveries of potential early Homo sapiens populations living at Jebel Irhoud in Morocco around 300,000 years ago and others in China at dates closely matching those of the Dali skull, we begin to recognize Homo sapiens as a highly mobile and widespread species even from their very earliest appearance in the fossil record. It is time to completely abandon any romantic idea of a human genesis in an Eden-like human enclave somewhere in East Africa around 200,000 years ago.
“The fossil could indicate that Israel and the rest of the Arabian Peninsula were part of a larger region in which H. sapiens evolved,” says John Shea, an archaeologist at Stony Brook University in New York.
Perhaps the most intriguing implication of these very early modern human population in Eurasia is that we no longer require a migration into Eurasia 120,000 years ago to explain fossils from that later period.
It may well be that these were the descendants of more archaic Homo sapiens already present across the continent, while fully modern humans of today would be descendants of a few that survived extinction 73,000 years ago in a refuge somewhere before expanding once again across the continent 13,000 years later. Perhaps it is time for us to be more skeptical of claims involving additional migrations out of Africa and consider other interpretations of the available evidence.
Hoard of Viking coins worth at least £500,000 found during police raids
A hoard of Viking coins has been confiscated by police investigating an illegal trade in historic treasures that could rewrite British history.
The collection of coins and a silver ingot, dating back to King Alfred the Great’s reign of the 9th century, were retrieved at households in Durham County and Lancashire by police.
Believed to be worth at least £500,000, a leading expert has told the MailOnline they could ‘add significantly to our understanding of the political history of England in the AD 870s’ as they reveal a previously unknown alliance between King Alfred and his contemporary Ceolwulf II, King of Mercia.
Ceolwulf of Mercia was believed by historians to be simply a puppet of the Vikings – a minor nobleman rather than a proper King. But the recently discovered coins show the two rulers standing side by side, as allies suggesting a different story.
While Alfred became known as a national hero who defeated the Vikings, Ceolwulf was written off as insignificant and disappeared without a trace, with experts now suggesting the Mercia King was later ‘airbrushed out of history’ by Alfred. If confirmed, the discovery could reshape our view of how England was united and those who made it happen.
Police, who have now handed over the haul to the British Museum, have arrested a number of people on suspicion of dealing in culturally tainted objects and the complex police operation – codenamed Operation Fantail – is said by Durham Police to be in its early stages. They refused to give further detail on the arrests.
Detective Inspector Lee Gosling, Senior Investigating Officer for Operation Fantail at Durham Constabulary, said: ‘We believe the material recovered comes from a hoard of immense historical significance relating to the Vikings and we are delighted to have been able to hand it over to the British Museum.’
The British Museum believe the coins were in circulation at the time of King Alfred when he won a number of major battles in AD 878 that led to the defeat on the Vikings. Dr. Gareth Williams, the curator of Early Medieval Coins and Viking Collections at the British Museum, called the latest find ‘nationally important’.
He said: ‘This is the period in which Alfred the Great was fighting the Vikings, but which also led to the creation of a unified kingdom of England under Alfred and his successors. ‘The hoard contains coins both of Alfred and of his contemporary Ceolwulf II, King of Mercia.
‘The coins I have seen so far add significantly to our understanding of the political history of England in the AD 870s. Around the time the hoard was buried, probably in AD 879, Ceolwulf mysteriously disappeared, and Alfred then took over Ceolwulf’s kingdom as well as his own.’
Dr Williams added: ‘I think that the coins show that Ceolwulf II was in an alliance with Alfred of Wessex, and not a puppet of the Vikings as suggested in sources written at Alfred’s court a few years later, by which time Ceolwulf had disappeared without trace from history and Alfred had taken over his kingdom.
‘Sources from Alfred’s court, writing more than fifteen years later, describe as ‘a foolish king’s thegn’, who was only made king by the Vikings. ‘However, the coins show a working relationship with Alfred which the sources ‘forgot’ to mention, and his name suggests that he may well have been a legitimate descendant of earlier kings of Mercia.
‘Some of the coins show the name of Ceolwulf and the images on their back show two emperors standing side by side, and was almost certainly a deliberate choice to symbolize their alliance.’ This isn’t a completely new idea, but until recently coins of this period were too rare to prove the idea.
‘The discovery of this hoard strengthens the case that Ceolwulf and Alfred were allies and that Alfred’s spin-doctors later re-wrote history to suit the political situation of the time.’ The iconic figure of King Alfred is widely believed to be the man who saved England from the Vikings and is currently being portrayed by David Dawson in the BBC epic The Last Kingdom.
He spent several years fighting the Vikings, who were wreaking devastation in England, and won several decisive victories. Alfred ruled from 871 to 899 was instrumental in setting the foundations for England known nowadays without whom the English may have even spoken another language.
His defeat of the Vikings earned him the name Alfred the Great. But in recent years, his role has been called into question by a number of archaeological finds.
More than 200 pieces of Viking silver including coins, ingots, and jewellery were discovered buried in a field in Oxfordshire in 2015 which Shedd fresh light on King Alfred and the little-known ally, Ceolwulf II.
A spokesperson for Durham Police has said the investigation is ongoing and a number of people have been arrested on suspicion of dealing in ‘culturally tainted objects’.