Archaeology & Paleontology December 2014

Coolest Archaeological Discoveries of 2014   Live Science - December 25, 2014

1. An Alexander the Great-era tomb at Amphipolis
2. Stonehenge's secret monuments
3. A shipwreck under the World Trade Center
4. Richard III's twisted spine, kingly diet and family tree
5. A teenager in a "black hole"
6. Syria by satellite
7. Jesus' wife?
8. Mummy cheese 9. King Tut's 3,300-year erection
10. Artists like us?

Mystery of Ancient Chinese Civilization's Disappearance Explained   Live Science - December 24, 2014

An earthquake nearly 3,000 years ago may be the culprit in the mysterious disappearance of one of China's ancient civilizations, new research suggests. The massive temblor may have caused catastrophic landslides, damming up the Sanxingdui culture's main water source and diverting it to a new location. That, in turn, may have spurred the ancient Chinese culture to move closer to the new river flow.

Ancient China

8,000-Year-Old Olive Oil Found in Ancient Clay Pots   Live Science - December 18, 2014

Ancient people pressed olive oil as far back as 8,000 years ago in Israel, a new study finds. Researchers found residues of the Mediterranean-diet staple on ancient clay pots dating back to the 6th century B.C. This is the earliest evidence of the use of olive oil in the country, and perhaps the entire Mediterranean basin.

Ancient Farmhouse Found in Israel Reveals Agricultural Secrets   Live Science - December 17, 2014

An ancient farmhouse dating back to 2,800 years ago - complete with 23 rooms, winepresses and a grain silo - is no longer lost to the ages. Over the past few weeks, archaeologists have uncovered the sprawling stone house in Rosh Ha-'Ayin, in central Israel. Archaeologists found the farmhouse during an excavation that the government required be done before construction could begin to enlarge the modern city. The house, which measures 98 by 131 feet (30 by 40 meters), is "extraordinarily well preserved.

Egypt unveils renovated Tutankhamun gallery   BBC - December 16, 2014

Four renovated halls in the Tutankhamun gallery in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo have been unveiled. The renovation is part of a seven-year project to refurbish the entire Egyptian Museum.

Ancient Egypt

Million-Mummy Cemetery Unearthed in Egypt   Live Science - December 16, 2014

The remains of a child, laid to rest more than 1,500 years ago when the Roman Empire controlled Egypt, was found in an ancient cemetery that contains more than 1 million mummies, according to a team of archaeologists from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The cemetery is now called Fag el-Gamous, which means "Way of the Water Buffalo," a title that comes from the name of a nearby road. Archaeologists from Brigham Young University have been excavating Fag el-Gamous, along with a nearby pyramid, for about 30 years. Many of the mummies date to the time when the Roman or Byzantine Empire ruled Egypt, from the 1st century to the 7th century A.D.

Did Ancient Egyptians Have Airplanes? Mechanical Engineer Thinks So   Epoch Times - December 16, 2014

The pyramids and other advanced artifacts from ancient Egypt continue to awe archaeologists and archaeology enthusiasts, but is it possible the ancient Egyptians had aviation? A wooden carving dating from the 3rd century B.C. was found in a tomb in Sakkara (also spelled Saqqara), Egypt, in 1898. It was classified as a bird figure and placed with other bird carvings at the Cairo Museum, until Dr. Khalil Messiha, a medical doctor and Egyptologist, saw in it 1969 and realized it looked like the model airplanes he made as a child.

In Photos: Ancient Egyptian Coffin with 'Odd' Art   Live Science - December 9, 2014

Radiocarbon dating shows that this Egyptian coffin dates back more than 2,400 years, to a time when the Persian Empire controlled Egypt. Inscriptions on the coffin show that it belonged to someone named Denit-ast, or Dent-ast, likely a woman. The coffin contains a number of unusual features, likely a product of the Persian Empire's deportation of Egyptian artists.

Ancient Egypt

2,400-Year-Old Coffin's 'Odd' Art Hints at Ancient Egypt's Brain Drain   Live Science - December 9, 2014

In ancient Egyptian coffin with strange and amateurish decorations has been revealed, shedding light on a tumultuous period in Egyptian history when the Persian Empire was in control of the region. In 525 B.C., Persian King Cambyses marched into Memphis, the Egyptian capital, inaugurating a period of Persian rule that would last for more than a century. The Persian Empire was a vast entity that stretched from modern-day Afghanistan to the west coast of Turkey. Ancient texts say that the Persian kings deported Egyptian artists and used them for building projects in Persia. The coffin bears a series of unusual features that are likely related to the Persian Empire's deportation of artists.

Ornate Clothing from the Ming Dynasty Unearthed in China   Live Science - December 9, 2014

On the coast of the East China Sea, near the modern Taizhou City, archaeologists have unearthed an unusual find: A husband-and-wife tomb dating to the Ming Dynasty that contains extraordinarily well-preserved clothing, decorated with elaborate designs. Gowns belonging to both the husband and wife covered in highly intricate patterns - including lotus flowers, banana leaves, coins and chime stones - were unearthed when the 500-year-old tomb was excavated, the researchers reported. The findings demonstrate that China was a prosperous place during the Ming Dynasty, which lasted from 1368 to 1644, experts said.

Ancient China

Oldest horned dinosaur species in North America found in Montana   PhysOrg - December 10, 2014

The limited fossil record for neoceratopsian - or horned dinosaurs - from the Early Cretaceous in North America restricts scientists' ability to reconstruct the early evolution of this group. The authors of this study have discovered a dinosaur skull in Montana that represents the first horned dinosaur from the North American Early Cretaceous that they can identify to the species level.


Feathered Fossils Give Scaly Dinosaurs a Makeover   National Geographic - December 10, 2014

Which came first, the feathers or the birds? Feathers first, scientists now say definitively. Yet this feathery revelation doesn't arise from discoveries of ancient birds, but of birds' ancestors - dinosaurs.

Phenomenal fossil and detailed analysis reveal details about enigmatic fossil mammals   Science Daily - December 10, 2014

Mammals that lived during the time of the dinosaurs are often portrayed as innocuous, small-bodied creatures, scurrying under the feet of the huge reptiles. In reality, this wasn't the case, and a new fossil from Madagascar further underscores this point, revealing fascinating perspectives on the growing diversity of Mesozoic mammals.

Weird Fossil Reveals Ancient Balloon Animal   Live Science - December 9, 2014

A real-life balloon animal that once lived in the ancient sea looks like a bird's nest in fossil form. The newly discovered species hails from 520 million years ago, during the Cambrian Period, when life on Earth exploded in diversity. Dubbed Nidelric pugio, this creature had a balloon-like body covered in an exoskeleton of spines. Nothing precisely like it exists today.

  Watch Paleontologists Discover Sue, the Best T. Rex Skeleton Ever   Wired - December 9, 2014

If you've ever been to the Field Museum in Chicago, you've met Sue. She's 42 feet long, weighs nearly 4,000 pounds, and is the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found. She was also the subject of one of the craziest legal battles over a dinosaur ever. That legal struggle is chronicled in meticulous (and heartbreaking) detail in the documentary Dinosaur 13, which will air on CNN this week. But before the battle, there were just the bones, which were found by Peter Larson and his team at the Black Hills Institute in South Dakota in 1990.