Audio News for June 20th to June 26th

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Laura Kelley and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from June June 20th to June 26th.

New finds overturn entire history of Roman Britain

Original Headline: Revealed: our friends the Romans did not invade Britain after all


Our first story is from Britain, where some cherished national history will have to be rewritten, now that an astounding find has changed the entire story of the Roman conquest.  A series of Roman weaponry finds now dates the Roman arrival to between the late first century BC and early first century AD.  This is 50 years before the famous AD 43 invasion under the Roman Emperor Claudius.  Even more startling than a decades-earlier arrival is the notion now being aired that the AD 43 invasion simply never happened.   At least, not as a full-out invasion.  That now appears to have simply been a piece of sophisticated political spin by a weak Emperor Claudius, whose rule was firmed up by reporting a distant conquest. The new finds appear to show that ancient Britons, sometime during the prior rule of Augustus, had welcomed Roman troops with open arms during a period when warring local kings had the British countryside in turmoil. Dr Francis Pryor, president of the Council for British Archaeology, said the new finding would prove controversial and cause lively debate among Roman specialists. The AD 43 Roman invasion is one of the most famous dates in British history. More than 40,000 Roman soldiers landed in Richborough, Kent , before carving their way through the English countryside. The evidence unearthed in Sussex overturns the drama of this scenario, though. Archaeologists now believe that Roman soldiers arrived up to 50 years earlier, and in Chichester. The clans of southern England, tired of their disruptive tribal kings, welcomed them as liberators who would overthrow the local tyrants. Sussex and Hampshire thus became part of the Roman Empire 50 years before the invasion that historians have always believed was the birth of Roman Britain. Julius Caesar was the first who tried to conquer Britain in 55 BC, but storms in the English Channel turned back his two legions. In 54 BC, five legions landed successfully and defeated one strong local king, before news of rebellion in Caesar’s official province of Gaul, which is modern France, forced him to return there. Some 25 tribes occupied Britain at this stage in history, and not all of them joined the coalition to fight Caesar. At least one, in fact, had appealed to Caesar to protect them from others who were raiding into their territory. It appears that the recent Sussex findings prove that relationships between southern English tribes and the Romans continued after Caesar's attempted invasion. Oxford historian Dr Martin Henig said that the whole of southern England could have been a Roman protectorate for nearly 50 years prior to the AD 43 invasion. The Emperor Claudius merely practiced some “spin” on his own garrison’s movements to bolster his newly acquired reign in Rome, far away from the site of the facts. Whatever those facts now turn out to be, British television Channel 4 will cover the Sussex finds as the first part of the biggest ever archaeological examination into Roman Britain, running over eight days and featuring hundreds of archaeologists at sites across Britain. The Sussex discovery, from excavations at Fishbourne Roman Palace , will be published later this year.

Sim-Southwest suggests new reasons for Anasazi abandonment

Original Headline: Researchers Simulate Long-gone Societies of the American Southwest


According to new research at Washington State University in the U.S., climate change alone cannot explain why the Anasazi abruptly abandoned the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest in the 1300s after hundreds of years of residence.  It is now thought that human impact on the environment, high population levels and social and political factors, including violent conflict, likely played important roles.  Most of what we know about this human history was carefully reconstructed from archeological evidence, including tools, pottery and architecture, left behind by ancient societies.  But artifacts alone can't capture the dynamic factors that shaped and changed those societies.  Tim Kohler of Washington State University uses the results of computer modeling simulations to balance out traditional archaeological research performed by his team, supported by National Science Foundation grants.  Computer models have long been used by researchers.  But today's "object-oriented" computer languages, like Java, allow scientists to simulate the behavior of ancient societies and their responses to environment change.  Kohler's team, working with a group led by George Gumerman of the School of American Research in Santa Fe, used the approach to explore how environmental conditions may have influenced Anasazi people's settlement and land use in the central Mesa Verde region of Colorado and the Long House Valley of Arizona.  First, they programmed the computer to simulate the effects of population growth, resource use and documented environmental factors on the behavior of virtual households.  Then, they compared the models to the abundant archaeological record of the region. The simulations indicate environmental factors alone can't explain the abrupt disappearance of the Anasazi from Four Corners region 700 years ago.  They conclude the change was driven by factors not included in their models.  The Mesa Verde experiments suggest the Anasazi impact on the environment through deer hunting, use of fuel wood and soil exhaustion probably contributed to their decisions to leave these areas.  Simulations are particularly valuable to historical sciences such as archaeology and the social sciences where researchers either can’t run experiments in real time or it would not be ethical to do so.

Western Iran traces its Hellenistic history

Original Headline: Excavations underway to locate ancient Greek temple in western Iran


In Iran, a team of archaeologists recently began searching for the location of the ancient Greek Laodicea (loud-ISS-eya) Temple in the Hamedan Province.  In 1943, archaeologists discovered an ancient inscription written in Greek, indicating the existence somewhere in the area of the temple dating back to the reign of Antiochus (ant-TIE-oh-cus) III the Great, the Seleucid (SEL-you-sid) king who ruled Asia Minor from 223-187 BC.  Antiochus (ant-TIE-oh-cus) was one of the most notable successor kings who followed Alexander the Great.  He made vassal states out of Parthia in present-day northeastern Iran and Bactria, warred successfully against the Egyptian king Ptolemy V, and in 198 BC obtained possession of all of Palestine and Lebanon.  He later became involved in a conflict with the Romans, who defeated him at Thermopylae in 191 BC and at Magnesia, now Turkey in 190 BC., and was forced to surrender costly tribute and all of his western dominions.

Welsh source for Stonehenge bluestones finally found

Original Headline: Archaeologists figure out mystery of Stonehenge bluestones


Our final story is from Wales, where archaeologists have solved one of the greatest mysteries of Stonehenge, the exact spot from where its huge stones were quarried.  A team has pinpointed the precise place in Wales from where the bluestones were removed in about 2500 BC.  It found the small crag-edged enclosure at one of the highest points of the 1,008 foot high Carn Menyn Mountain in Pembrokeshire's Preseli Hills.  The enclosure is just over one acre in size but, according to team leader Professor Tim Darvill, it provides a veritable "Aladdin's Cave" of made-to-measure pillars for aspiring circle builders.  Within and outside the enclosure are numerous laid-out pillar stones with clear signs of working.  Some are fairly recent, as shown by the technology of their drill holes.  Other blocks may have been wrenched from the ground or the crags in ancient times.  They were then moved 240 miles to the famous site at Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.  The discovery comes a year after scientists proved that the remains of a "band of brothers" found near Stonehenge were Welshmen who transported the stones.  Workmen laying a pipe found the skeletons and chemical analysis of their teeth revealed they were brought up in South West Wales.  Experts believed the family accompanied the stones on their epic journey to Salisbury Plain.  Now after three years, Professor Darvill and colleagues have confirmed where exactly those stones began the trek.  Professor Darvill is hopeful that in the future they will be able to trace the exact holes where the stones were extracted.  The "band of brothers" found last year were a family unit of three adults, one teenager and three children buried in the same grave 4,300 years ago, at the start of the metal age.  Prof Darvill's discovery will be published in the July-August edition of British Archaeology.  He has been researching Stonehenge for the last 10 years.

That wraps up the news for this week!

For more stories and daily news updates, visit Archaeologica on the World Wide Web at , where all the news is history!

I’m Laura Kelley and I’ll see you next week!