Lost Roanoke Colony’s Ft. Raleigh? New Find on Roanoke Island Creates Stir

The following excerpt is from m.obsentinel.com

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Scott Dawson, a native of Hatteras Island and now a resident of Colington, has shared the location of a discovery he made on National Park Service property with that agency, which has now secured the area and posted surveillance to insure that intruders don’t disturb the site.

Doug Stover, park historian of the Park Service, said that park officials think that the site may be the remains of Fort Blanchard, a Civil War fort.

But if proven correct in his beliefs, Dawson will be the envy of many archaeologists who have spent their careers in the search of the long-lost Ft. Raleigh, Ralph Lane’s 1585 fort on Roanoke Island.

Read the full article.

To learn more about the Lost Colony of Roanoke check out this Wikipedia page.

View From Space Hints at a New Viking Site in North America

The following teaser is from an article posted on nytimes.com

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A thousand years after the Vikings braved the icy seas from Greenland to the New World in search of timber and plunder, satellite technology has found intriguing evidence of a long-elusive prize in archaeology — a second Norse settlement in North America, further south than ever known.

The new Canadian site, with telltale signs of iron-working, was discovered last summer after infrared images from 400 miles in space showed possible man-made shapes under discolored vegetation. The site is on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, about 300 miles south of L’Anse aux Meadows, the first and so far only confirmed Viking settlement in North America, discovered in 1960.

Since then, archaeologists, following up clues in the histories known as the sagas, have been hunting for the holy grail of other Viking, or Norse, landmarks in the Americas that would have existed 500 years before Columbus.

Read the full article.

Dr Kit Messham-Muir Joins Past Preservers

The following is from Nigel J Hetherington at Past Preservers:

CAIRO AND LONDON–30th January 2013–Past Preservers is proud to announce that our talented group of presenters at Past Preservers People has grown with the addition of Dr Kit Messham-Muir, a highly recognized art theorist and historian.

Currently, Kit is a Senior Lecturer in Art History at The University of Newcastle and Program Organizer of the Bachelor of Fine Art. In recent years, Kit has been recognized and rewarded for his inspiring and innovative teaching practices.

“I have a passion for teaching,” says Kit “I introduce ‘tactical ruptures’ into my lectures, to disrupt the flow and provoke students to think more actively. These are often videos made especially for the class, performances such as George Maciunas’s 1962 Fluxus piece, Solo for Violin, which involves destroying a violin with power tools, or changing into my pyjamas in a lecture on Surrealism. I’ve jumped out of a plane to demonstrate the role of fear in the Enlightenment notion of ‘the sublime’ and frequently travel the world collecting footage and interviews with artists, curators and critics for my students.” Watch Kit in action in the video, ‘The sublime’

Read further here-http://pastpreservers.blogspot.com/2013/01/past-preservers-latest-signing-takes.html

Has Richard III’s Body Been Found?

The following teaser is from the September 12, 2012 edtiion of The Telegraph:

‘Strong evidence’ Richard III’s body has been found – with a curved spine
Archaeologists searching under a city centre car park for the lost grave of King Richard III have discovered human remains. Here are the latest developments as scientists unveil their “stunning” findings.

Read the full article – and watch video.

Biological Anthropologists Question Fossils’ Place in the Tree of Life

“Too simple” and “not so fast” suggest biological anthropologists from the George Washington University and New York University about the origins of human ancestry. In the upcoming issue of the journal Nature, the anthropologists question the claims that several prominent fossil discoveries made in the last decade are our human ancestors. Instead, the authors offer a more nuanced explanation of the fossils’ place in the Tree of Life. They conclude that instead of being our ancestors the fossils more likely belong to extinct distant cousins.

“Don’t get me wrong, these are all important finds,” said co-author Bernard Wood, University Professor of Human Origins and professor of Human Evolution Anatomy at GW and director of its Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology. “But to simply assume that anything found in that time range has to be a human ancestor is naïve.”

The paper, “The evolutionary context of the first hominins,” reconsiders the evolutionary relationships of fossils named Orrorin, Sahelanthropus and Ardipithecus, dating from four to seven million years ago, which have been claimed to be the earliest human ancestors. Ardipithecus, commonly known as “Ardi,” was discovered in Ethiopia and was found to be radically different from what many researchers had expected for an early human ancestor. Nonetheless, the scientists who made the discovery were adamant it is a human ancestor.

“We are not saying that these fossils are definitively not early human ancestors,” said co-author Terry Harrison, a professor in NYU’s Department of Anthropology and director of its Center for the Study of Human Origins. “But their status has been presumed rather than adequately demonstrated, and there are a number of alternative interpretations that are possible. We believe that it is just as likely or more likely that they are fossil apes situated close to the ancestry of the living great ape and humans.”

The authors are skeptical about the interpretation of the discoveries and advocate a more nuanced approach to classifying the fossils. Wood and Harrison argue that it is naïve to assume that all fossils are the ancestors of creatures alive today and also note that shared morphology or homoplasy – the same characteristics seen in species of different ancestry – was not taken into account by the scientists who found and described the fossils. For example, the authors claim that for Ardipithecus to be a human ancestor, one must assume that homoplasy does not exist in our lineage, but is common in the lineages closest to ours. The authors suggest there are a number of potential interpretations of these fossils and that being a human ancestor is by no means the simplest, or most parsimonious explanation.

The scientific community has long concluded that the human lineage diverged from that of the chimpanzee six to eight million years ago. It is easy to differentiate between the fossils of a modern-day chimpanzee and a modern human. However, it is more difficult to differentiate between the two species when examining fossils that are closer to their common ancestor, as is the case with Orrorin, Sahelanthropus, and Ardipithecus.

In their paper, Wood and Harrison caution that history has shown how uncritical reliance on a few similarities between fossil apes and humans can lead to incorrect assumptions about evolutionary relationships. They point to the case of Ramapithecus, a species of fossil ape from south Asia, which was mistakenly assumed to be an early human ancestor in the 1960s and 1970s, but later found to be a close relative of the orangutan.

Similarly, Oreopithecus bambolii, a fossil ape from Italy shares many similarities with early human ancestors, including features of the skeleton that suggest that it may have been well adapted for walking on two legs. However, the authors observe, enough is known of its anatomy to show that it is a fossil ape that is only distantly related to humans, and that it acquired many “human-like” features in parallel.

Wood and Harrison point to the small canines in Ardipithecus and Sahelanthropus as possibly the most convincing evidence to support their status as early human ancestors. However, canine reduction was not unique to the human lineage for it occurred independently in several lineages of fossil apes (e.g., Oreopithecus, Ouranopithecus and Gigantopithecus) presumably as a result of similar shifts in dietary behavior.

From the February 16, 2011 edition of EurekaAlert.org.

The Lost Colony Revisited

My friend, Jennifer Sheppard, alerted me to this article about the Lost Colony. Jennifer works with the Scott Dawson in researching the “Croatian” mystery.

Following is a teaser:

Hatteras Island native Scott Dawson stands in his Hatteras Histories and Mysteries Museum, which he opened in Buxton after the April dig. (L. Todd Spencer | The Virginian-Pilot)

It’s a typical day at the Hatteras Histories and Mysteries Museum in Buxton, N.C., and Scott Dawson is buzzing around glass cases full of centuries-old arrowheads and broken pottery. Puzzled visitors listen as he explains for the gazillionth time the difference between fact and speculation. • He speaks with certainty in a voice tinged with more than a hint of frustration. • “Anybody who researches it knows that the colony came down here,” he says, confidently dismissing competing theories on America’s oldest unsolved mystery. • The artifacts, many unearthed during archaeological digs in the past year, may hold the clues that finally answer the question: What happened to the Lost Colony, a group of 117 Englishmen who settled on a tiny island off the North Carolina coast and then vanished with barely a trace?

The 32-year-old Dawson has a personal stake in what happened to the early settlers. The son of a family whose roots can be traced back to the Croatoan Indians, he thinks his ancestors have been falsely maligned by the legends that have grown up around the case of the missing Englishmen.

Read the full article from the November 1, 2010 edition of the Virginian-Pilot.

Mini-Stonehenge Called Bluehenge Discovered in Wiltshire

Archaeologists have discovered a mini-Stonehenge, a mile from the site of Wiltshire’s famous stone circle. Stonehenge

“Bluehenge”, named after the hue of the 27 stones from Wales which once formed it, has been described by researchers as a “very important” find.

All that now exists of the 5,000-year-old site is a series of holes where the dolerite monoliths once stood.

Bluehenge lies at the end of the “Avenue” – a pathway connecting the larger Stonehenge to the River Avon.

The remains of the monument was unearthed over the summer by researchers from Sheffield University.

Read the full article about Bluehenge in the October 3, 2009 edition of bbc.co.uk