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Earliest cave paintings were made by Neanderthals, Southampton scientists discover

Scientists have found the first major evidence that Neanderthals made cave paintings, indicating they may have had an artistic sense similar to our own. A new study led by the University of Southampton and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology shows that paintings in three caves in Spain were created more than 64,000 years ago – 20,000 years before modern humans arrived in Europe. Continue reading →

Analysis of animal teeth suggests Neolithic cattle grazed at home and away

An international team of researchers has shown in unprecedented detail that prehistoric farmers took their animals away from permanent settlements to graze in more fertile areas – probably because of high demand for land locally. Analysis of strontium isotopes in teeth of Neolithic cattle suggests that early Europeans used specialised strategies to manage herding, according to a study by the universities of Basel, Southampton, Bristol and the The Curt-Engelhorn-Centre for Archaeometry. Continue reading →

New archaeological evidence throws light on efforts to resist ‘the living dead’

A new scientific study of medieval human bones, excavated from a deserted English village, suggests the corpses they came from were burnt and mutilated.  Researchers from the University of Southampton and Historic England believe this was carried out by villagers who believed that it would stop the corpses arising from their graves and menacing the living. Continue reading →

Postcard from Iberia: RTI recording of Palaeolithic cave and rock art in Spain and Portugal

Marta Díaz-Guardamino and Paul Pettitt recording Palaeolithic art in El Castillo Cave, Spain It was 40oC in the direct sun, too hot and too bright to head into Portugal’s Côa valley to record the open-air Paleolithic rock engravings of this World Heritage Site, so we waited until 8pm, until the temperature reached a slightly more manageable 32oC, and more importantly the sun was setting behind the steep side of the valley. Continue reading →

Archaeologists discover evidence of prehistoric gold trade route

Archaeologists at the University of Southampton have found evidence of an ancient gold trade route between the south-west of the UK and Ireland. A study suggests people were trading gold between the two countries as far back as the early Bronze Age (2500BC). The research, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, used a new technique to measure the chemical composition of some of the earliest gold artefacts in Ireland. Continue reading →

New BA (hons) Archaeology and Anthropology degree at Southampton University

Snake boat festival at Aranmula, Kerala, India, Photo: Jesse Ransley Now recruiting for 2015 entry, the University of Southampton is pleased to announce our new BA (Hons) in Archaeology and Anthropology. Based in the Department of Archaeology, this exciting programme draws from Social Sciences and Humanities and gives students the opportunity to understand human social organization and behaviour both past and present, using wide ranging methods from ethnography to the study of artefacts. Continue reading →

Earliest Cave Paintings feature on Human Universe with Brian Cox

Brian Cox (Bob Lee) – Flickr/ Wikipedia Hand stencils and other cave art, in El Castillo Cave, Spain features in the BBC Two documentary Human Universe, to be broadcast on 4th November. Some of the art in El Castillo Cave was recently dated by my team, showing it to be the earliest in Europe, dating to at least 40,800 years ago. In the show, Brian Cox suggests the art demonstrates the ability of these early painters to envision not just the past and the present, but also the future. Continue reading →