New discovery hints at still further treasures hidden at famous shipwreck

The ship bound for Rome sunk in 1BC and was first discovered off the coast of Greece in 1900. And yet the Antikythera shipwreck is still providing new discoveries.

The Guardian reports an expedition to the site last month turned up a silver tankard, a human bone, and much more. Perhaps most exciting: the arm of a bronze statue and evidence that the remains of at least seven bronze statues are still buried there.

Previous bronze statues found at the Antikythera shipwreck were dated to the 4th century BC. Bronze statues from that time period are extremely rare, with only about 50 known in the world, according to Gizmodo.

National Geographic reports that based on the positioning of the fingers, the newly discovered arm may belong to a statue modeled on a philosopher. Recovering the rest of the statue—and the others at the site—won’t be easy.

The Antikythera shipwreck is 180 feet underwater on a slope and has been buried by boulders from a succession of earthquakes starting in the 4th century AD.

It will take a lot of time and money to move the boulders, recover the statues, and reconstruct them. Also discovered in last month’s expedition was a mysterious bronze disc that the dive team originally thought could be a missing component of the famous Antikythera Mechanism.

The mechanism, often called an “ancient computer,” could predict eclipses and the movements of various heavenly bodies and was discovered at the site. However, X-rays of the disc show it’s engraved with a bull and was likely a piece of decoration for a statue or the ship itself.

The next expedition to the Antikythera shipwreck is scheduled for spring 2018. (An odd item was found at the site in 2016.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Famous Shipwreck May Still Hold Priceless Treasures

Giant, dinosaur-eating crocodile discovered in Texas

A giant, 20-foot long crocodile from the Cretaceous Period has been discovered in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas.

Dubbed the Deltasuchus motherali, the ancient beast was discovered by a local teenager, Austin Motheral. Motheral worked with paleontoligists from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, who spent a decade excavating the bones.

The creature existed approximately 95 million years ago, at the same time as Tyrannosaurus Rex. During that era, modern-day Texas was largely covered by a shallow sea. In addition to T. rex, the area was home to other dinosaurs, turtles, crocodiles, mammals and fish.

DINOSAURS’ MISSING LINK FOUND

UT paleontologist Stephanie Drumheller-Horton said, based off the fossils and bite marks, the animal ate whatever it wanted. However, there is much to be learned from this era.

“We simply don’t have that many North American fossils from the middle of the Cretaceous, the last period of the age of dinosaurs, and the eastern half of the continent is particularly poorly understood,” Drumheller-Horton said in a press release. “Fossils from the Arlington Archosaur Site are helping fill in this gap, and Deltasuchus is only the first of several new species to be reported from the locality.”

CAR-SIZED ‘LOCH NESS MONSTER’ WAS RUNT OF THE LITTER

“Prior to this discovery, the only identified crocodyliforms from the Woodbine Formation had been the longirostrine taxa Terminonaris and Woodbinesuchus,” according to a research journal, detailing the findings.

The research has been published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Wreckage of lost World War II bomber discovered in the North Sea

Engineers working on a sub-sea power link have found what is believed to be the wreckage of a World War II Royal Air Force bomber off the coast of Norway.

The engineers were conducting surveys of the seabed as part of the North Sea Link project to build a power cable between the U.K. and Norway when they found the plane wreckage. The discovery off the Norwegian city of Stavanger may help solve a decades-old mystery.

Experts consulted by the North Sea Link program identified the wreck as an RAF Short Stirling heavy bomber, which played a key role in delivering supplies from Britain to Norwegian resistance fighters during the war.

STUNNING PICTURES REVEAL THE WRECK OF US WORLD WAR II-ERA SUB

The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) brought in World War II aviation enthusiast Bengt Stangvik to study the find. In a statement released by North Sea Link partner National Grid, Stangvik explained that several Short Stirlings disappeared without a trace on missions to Norway during the winter of 1944 to 1945. “Based on the location of this wreck, it is probable that it was on a mission to drop supplies to the resistance forces in western Norway,” he said.

Stangvik noted that, of 30 British aircraft that went missing on missions to the Norwegian resistance, 19 were Short Stirlings. The discovery off Stavanger is likely to be one of six Short Stirlings that are still unaccounted for, he said.

The Short Stirling was the RAF’s first four-engine heavy bomber during World War II, according to Stangvik, who said that the planes encountered problems flying above 15,000 feet when fully loaded. With other RAF bombers able to fly higher, German Luftwaffe nightfighters concentrated their efforts on the Short Stirlings during attacks.

SUNKEN SHIP MAY CONTAIN $130 MILLION OF NAZI GOLD

A spokesman for National Grid in the U.K., which is working with Norwegian electricity company Statnett to build the North Sea Link, told Fox News that engineers have made a careful record of the wreckage site. “We have noted where the wreckage is,” he said, adding that the cable route will bypass the remains. “We will go around it to ensure that the wreck is not disturbed.”

National Grid contacted the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre within the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence to notify them of the find.

In the statement, JCCC team member Sue Raftree acknowledged the potential discovery, but could not confirm it definitively. “Discoveries at sea are relatively rare due to their very location. A number of aircraft are known to have been lost in the North Sea during the course of the Second World War but we need positive evidence before we can confirm,” she said. “We would class this aircraft as a war grave. It is protected under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 which covers crashed military aircraft in both UK territorial and international waters.”

MINNESOTA WOMAN REUNITED WITH FATHER’S WWII HELMET FOUND ON DUTCH BATTLEFIELD

Nigel Williams, North Sea Link project director for National Grid, explained that sonar equipment is used to scan the sea bed at depths between 328 feet and 1969 feet. Any objects or structures detected are marked as “target points” and investigated using a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) or a ‘drop cam,’ he added.

“When images of what appeared to be an aircraft wheel came through, you can imagine our surprise. It was only when experts investigated the images in more detail that we learnt there was a strong possibility it could be a British aircraft that served during World War Two,” Williams said, in the statement. “Sadly, it appears the pilot and the crew of this particular aircraft were never able to complete their mission.”

WORKERS UNCOVER FORGOTTEN WWII MILITARY AIR RAID SHELTER

The 447-mile North Sea Link, which is expected to become operational in 2021, will enable the U.K. and Norway to trade electricity.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Lost Roman city that was home to Jesus’ apostles found, say archaeologists

Experts believe they have found the lost Roman city of Julias, formerly the village of Bethsaida, which was the home of Jesus’ apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip.

Last month, archaeologists from the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology at Kinneret College, Israel and Nyack College in New York, completed excavations at el-Araj on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. El Araj has long been considered a possible location of ancient Julias, which was also known as Bethsaida.

“The results of this season’s excavation indicate that el-Araj should now be considered a leading candidate for the lost city of Jesus’ Apostles,” explained the excavation team, in a statement emailed to Fox News.

EXPERTS HUNT FOR BIBLICAL TABERNACLE THAT HOUSED THE ARK OF THE COVENANT

“There are indications that we’re excavating Bethsaida-Julia – we have to continue digging to confirm and clarify,” Prof. Steven Notley of Nyack College, the dig’s academic director, told Fox News. “This is really one of the few [biblical sites] that has remained lost.”

The Roman city of Julias was born out of the Jewish fishing village of Bethsaida during the first century A.D, according to the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius. The New Testament describesBethsaida as the home of Jesus’ apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip. Jesus also healed a blind man at Bethsaida, according to Mark 8:22-26, while Luke 9:10-17 describes a nearby location for the feeding of the five thousand people.

While many experts had previously assumed there was no human presence at el-Araj during the Roman period, this summer’s excavations have shed new light on the site. A previously unearthed Byzantine structure, for example, offered plenty of clues to the archaeologists. More than 30 coins found beneath the structure’s floor dated its construction to the 5th century A.D.

DNA DISCOVERY IDENTIFIES LIVING DESCENDANTS OF BIBLICAL CANAANITES

Below the Byzantine era level, however, Roman era pottery dating back to between the 1st and 3rd centuries A.D. was found, along with a bronze coin from the late 2nd century and a silver denarius coin of the Emperor Nero that dates from 65 to 66 A.D.

Some 6.6-feet below the Byzantine floor, a Roman period wall was also discovered. Adjacent to the wall was a large section of black-and-white mosaic floor with mortar, clay bricks and ceramic vents typical of Roman bathhouses.

The archaeologists note that Roman-style baths were uncommon in rural settlements, so their presence at el-Araj indicates an urban site, making it a strong candidate for the city of Julias.

ARCHAEOLOGISTS UNEARTH 2,700-YEAR OLD RESERVOIR IN ISRAEL

Geological research also suggests that the Sea of Galilee, the second lowest lake in the world, was at a lower level than previously thought during the Roman era. Experts had long thought the lake was 686 feet below sea level in Roman times, with the el-Araj site underwater until the Byzantine period centuries later. The Roman wall, however, was discovered at a depth of 692 feet below sea level.

Geologists studying el-Araj found that the site was covered with mud and clay, possibly from flooding of the nearby Jordan river, and abandoned sometime between 250 A.D and 350 A.D. “The Roman layer was buried at a certain period by these sediments derived from the nearby outlets of the Jordan River and Meshushim stream,” explained Prof. Noam Greenbaum of Haifa University, who participated in the excavation. “We hope to deepen and extend our study in the future in order to clarify the full picture.”

The site appears to have been resettled towards the end of the 4th century A.D. during the Byzantine period.

EXPERTS UNCOVER EVIDENCE OF ANCIENT JERUSALEM’S DESTRUCTION BY THE BABYLONIANS

The Byzantine structure at el-Araj also offers a fascinating glimpse into the site’s biblical past. Small gilded glass blocks called tesserae that form part of a mosaic were found, suggesting that the building was once an important church. Archaeologists note that Willibald, the bishop of Eichstatt in Germany, visited the Holy Land in 725 A.D., and describes visiting a church at Bethsaida built over the remains of the house of apostles Peter and Andrew. “It may well be that the current excavations have unearthed evidence for that church,” explained the archaeologists, in their statement.

Other archaeologists have been looking to prove that the nearby site of e-Tell is the location of Bethsaida-Julias.

Excavations at el-Araj will start again in June 2018. “We’re looking right now at trying to do another five seasons,” said Notley.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Ancient Roman concrete outperforms our own, and science only just worked out why

The Roman Empire may be long gone, but its architecture has stood the test of time — most notably, its insanely durable concrete, which has been hailed as the world’s strongest. The building material, which still remains intact and stronger than ever in many places, has long puzzled scientists who couldn’t fully explain why it was so remarkably strong, or why modern efforts to duplicate its strength have fallen flat. Now, new research suggests that the ancient concrete’s unique mixture had a little help from Mother Nature in becoming one of the best building materials humanity has ever known.

Roman concrete was typically made with a mixture of volcanic ash, rock, and lime, and while that recipe has been known for several years, scientists couldn’t pinpoint what it was that caused the combination to be so well suited for construction, especially on harbors and piers where modern concrete would deteriorate rather rapidly. By studying samples of the concrete and putting it through various tests, scientists working on the Roman Maritime Concrete Study were able to determine that a chemical reaction between the concrete and seawater was the missing piece.

When the seawater filtered through tiny cracks in the concrete it reacted with the concrete’s volcanic ingredients and produced a rare crystal called tobermorite. These crystals helped to further fuse the concrete together, adding strength and durability that modern concrete simply lacks.

The researcher is significant for a couple of reasons. First, finding a way to reliably produce tobermorite — which has a variety of industrial applications — is a huge plus. And, second, finally cracking the mystery of the concrete means that we’re one step closer to reproducing it, and in places where concrete is used in seawater, it would be the ideal material to use.

Human remains unearthed in biblical city, 3,200 years after it was destroyed by ancient Egyptians

Archaeologists in Israel discovered the ancient bodies in the biblical city of Gezer, more than 3,000 years after its destruction by ancient Egyptians.

The 33-acre Tel Gezer archaeological site is located in the foothills of the Judean Mountains in central Israel and continues to fascinate experts. The ancient city of Gezer is mentioned in the biblical account of King Solomon’s fortifications, as well as in several ancient Egyptian and Assyrian texts.

Excavations this summer revealed the remains of three people in a building destroyed by an ancient Egyptian army. “This past season we uncovered a building dating to the end of the 13th century BC that was violently destroyed,” explained Prof. Steven Ortiz, Professor at the Tandy Institute for Archaeology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, in an email to Fox News.

KING SOLOMON-ERA FORT IN SOUTHERN ISRAEL REVEALS ITS SECRETS

The destruction is associated with the “Merneptah campaign,” when the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah attacked Gezer, according to Ortiz, who co-directed the excavation with Samuel Wolff of the Israel Antiquities Authority. At the time of the attack, Gezer was part of the ancient Canaanite civilization.

The Israeli website Haaretz reports that the remains of two adults and a child, the latter wearing earrings, were discovered in a building in the south of the ancient city.

One adult and the child were found under a 3.3-foot layer of ash and burnt bricks in a room of the building, according to Haaretz. The adult, who was so badly burnt that the sex could not be determined, was lying on its back with its arms above its head.

CRUSADER-ERA HAND GRENADE SURPRISES ARCHAEOLOGISTS

Other artifacts found in the room include a table, storage jars, a grinding stone and a large earthenware jar.

The skeletal remains of the second adult were found beneath rubble in another room within the complex, Haaretz reports. Other items in that room included a 13th century B.C. amulet and cylinder seals.

The finds, Ortiz says, show the importance of the ancient city of Gezer and provide evidence of Egyptian military campaigns at the end of the late Bronze Age. The city was strategically located at a crucial crossroads guarding the pass from the coast up to Jerusalem.

THE WEEK IN PICTURES

The Tandy Institute for Archaeology has made 10 excavations at the site, starting in 2006, and  uncovered a King Solomon-Era palace last year.

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Archaeologists find tunnel that may emulate underworld

What would make the discovery of a secret passageway under Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Moon even more intriguing? A theory that the tunnel was used to emulate the underworld, to start.

CT scans performed by archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History in June indicate that a tunnel about 30 feet underground spans from the pre-Aztec pyramid to the middle of its outer central square, reports Live Science.

They say it’s possible the tunnel was used for ritualistic purposes, such as ceremonies marking the different agricultural cycles. “The function of the tunnel may have been to reproduce the underworld, a world where life, animals, and plants originated,” says archaeologist Verónica Ortega, per the International Business Times. Construction began on the Pyramid of the Moon in 100 BC; it was initially a small platform that grew in stages over roughly 500 years to a height of 150 feet. The pyramid is believed to have been the site of human sacrifices and other grisly rituals, indicated by its tombs holding human and animal remains. Researchers believe the tunnel below it may contain artifacts that reveal more about the ancient civilization, but further investigation is needed to confirm the tunnel’s existence before it can be explored. A passageway below the Temple of the Sun, Teotihuacan’s largest pyramid, was discovered in the ’70s but had been looted several centuries prior. An interesting side note from the AP: In contrast to other ancient Mexican sites, no remains believed to belong to Teotihuacan’s rulers have ever been uncovered. (Meanwhile, a 3,000-year-old prosthetic toe was found in Egypt).

This article originally appeared on Newser: Archaeologists Find Tunnel That May Emulate Underworld

Early church discovered on UK Holy Island, may be linked to medieval saints

Archaeologists have discovered an early medieval church on the remote Holy Island of Lindisfarne that could be linked to key figures in the history of British Christianity.

“We’re just really excited because, potentially, it’s evidence of the earliest church on the island and it’s linked to historical figures like St. Aidan and St. Oswald,” Sara Rushton, conservation manager of Northumberland County Council, told Fox News.

Rushton explained that the church may have been built as early as the mid-seventh century A.D., possibly around the year 650. The island off the coast of North East England is an important site in British Christianity – St. Aidan established a monastery on the island in 635 A.D, which became an international center for learning and craftsmanship before it was ransacked by Viking raiders in the late 8th Century. The monastery was re-established in the 11th century.

BRONZE AGE CEMETERY DISCOVERED AT RITUAL SITE IN WALES

Rushton explained that, while the church could date from the seventh to the ninth centuries, there are plenty of hints that it was built in the early part of the island’s history. A stone, possibly an altar stone, was found at the east end of the church, a feature of northern British churches before 671 A.D, according to Rushton. “The other reason we think it might be earlier is because of the style of the stonework – it’s very crude” she said, noting that it lacks the refinement seen in later churches.

The church’s location on a steep, rocky narrow ridge that runs across the northern end of the island also provides a clue. “It’s the type of location that appealed to the Celtic church,” said Rushton.

Additionally, the church’s position may have been chosen to face Bamburgh Castle on the nearby coast. Bamburgh was the royal court of St. Oswald of Northumbria, a Saxon king credited with helping spread Christianity in the region.

VIKING DISCOVERY: EXPERTS USE TECH TO REVEAL SETTLEMENT BENEATH SAINT-KING’S CHURCH

“Because it’s high they looked across to Bamburgh castle,” said Rushton, who believes that the potential church discovery cements Holy Island as one of the most important early medieval sites in Britain.

Until this summer archaeologists thought that the early churches on the island were located elsewhere. Like Holy Island’s monastery, it was thought that the churches were in the shelter of the rocky narrow ridge, known as ‘The Heugh.’

Last year excavations on the western part of the ridge revealed a massive foundation wall that archaeologists speculate is part of a watch tower.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Ancient land-dwelling crocodile had T. rex sized teeth, study shows

A new study has finally shed light on a mysterious, jaw fragment discovered on Madagascar years ago. It is from an ancient crocodile, nearly 24-feet in length, with teeth like a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The study, published in the journal PeerJ, highlights the creature, identified as Razanandrongobe sakalavae, as an enormous crocodile ancestor. The ancient croc likely walked on land, hunting its prey with its massive teeth and jaws.

DINOSAUR EXTINCTION ALLOWED FROGS TO CONQUER THE PLANET

Put together by researchers Cristiano Dal Sasso​​, Giovanni Pasini, Guillaume Fleury and Simone Maganuco​, the study notes that the teeth are “remarkably large [i.e., even larger than the largest denticles in large-bodied theropods, Tyrannosaurus rex included].”

The longest tooth found was 15 cm (5.9 inches) in length. By comparison, the longest T. rex tooth ever found was 12 inches, though they often vary in length.

R. sakalavae means “giant lizard ancestor from Sakalava region.”

“Razanandrongobe sakalavae is the largest terrestrial carnivore from this Middle Jurassic terrestrial ecosystem and was perhaps one of the top predators in Madagascar at the time,” the study’s conclusion reads. “Its jaws were extremely robust and high, but possibly short, and bore large teeth with serrated edges resembling those of theropod dinosaurs. Many features of this species strongly suggest that it fed also on hard tissue such as bone and tendon.”

THE RISE OF THE DINOSAURS MAY HAVE BEEN CAUSED BY VOLCANOES, NEW STUDY FINDS

It is the oldest and largest known “notosuchian,” a suborder of Gondwanan mesoeucrocodylian crocodylomorphs that lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. It predates other members of the species by 42 million years.

The fossils are from the mid-Jurassic period, approximately 166 million years ago. They were first found in the early 1970s, with other parts of the Razana skull found later. The findings were made after the fossils were made available to the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Toulouse, France, where they were then analyzed and reconstructed. They had been previously part of a private collection.

The skull was reconstructed using a CT scan, as well as using 3-D printers to print out missing bone fragments, using mirror images of existing fragments.

Rare woolly dog hair found in blanket

A tear in an ancient blanket has revealed a rare piece of local history.

Researchers with Seattle’s Burke Museum recently discovered a museum blanket containing extinct woolly dog fur.

Woolly dogs were raised by the endemic Coast Salish people for more than a thousand years. The Salish people raised the small, long-haired dogs as a source of hair for textile production. The dogs were raised in pens and kept from breeding with other dogs.

100-YEAR-OLD SHIPWRECK OF FOUND OFF CALIFORNIA COAST

The woolly dog’s hair was thick, and spun into yarn in a sophisticated practice, researchers with the Burke Museum said.

The dogs became extinct less than 150 years after the first European explorers landed on the Northwest Coast due to inbreeding, and the prevalence of easier weaving material.

Most objects containing the rare fur were lost or destroyed, researchers with the museum said. The blanket containing the fur would have remained obscure, researchers said, if not for a tear that revealed some of the hair.

“As soon as I saw the warp yarns exposed by the tear, I knew this was an unusual blanket,” said Liz Hammond-Kaarremaa, a Coast Salish spinning expert.

The blanket is made of multiple different materials, including woolly dog hair. It is the only object known in a Northwest museum confirmed to be made with the hair, researchers said.

This article first appeared in Q13Fox.