Top 10 Archeology Discoveries of 2008

From Archeology magazine via MSNBC are some fascinating stories that once again show scientists that they are not as smart as they think they are.

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  • The secret of Maya Blue: Sacred blue pigment the Maya made through ritual burning of a mix of ingredients, including indigo, minerals and copal incense.
  • Masked mummy of Peru: An intact 1,700-year-old mummy, bearing a wooden mask with seashell eyes.
  • The stone with soul: 2,800-year-old funerary monument in southeastern Turkey. A 13-line inscription was chiseled into basalt stone, in which a high official refers to food offerings that were made “for my soul that is in this stele.” This proves that Iron Age culture believed the soul was separate from the body.
  • Brown gold from Oregon: 14,300-year-old preserved feces found in eastern Oregon cave. Researchers even extracted DNA which could clear up longstanding mysteries about the first Americans.
  • Oldest oil paintings: In a maze of caves in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley.
  • The first European? A cave in northern Spain turned up a chunk of a Homo erectus jawbone that has been dated back to 1.3 million years ago. That suggests that our ancestors made their way into Europe about 500,000 years earlier than previously thought.
  • The earliest shoes: An analysis of 42,000-year-old human toe bones from a dig in China provided evidence of some form of footwear.
  • Pristine Portuguese shipwreck: Geologists working off the coast of Namibia turned up a 16th-century cargo ship that was buried on the seafloor, safe from underwater treasure hunters.
  • The colossal heads of the Roman Empire: Archaeologists are uncovering the monumental marble heads of Roman emperors at a dig in central Turkey.
  • The origins of whaling: A 20-inch-long walrus tusk, found at an archaeological site on Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula, bears the carvings of a seal, a bear and a boatful of people hunting a whale from a boat. The tusk dates back about 3,000 years, which would make the carving “the earliest evidence for whaling.”

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