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Thursday, 19 March 2015

The face of an 11 year old girl from Classical Athens

A fascinating story from Kathemerini and then in  

Around 430 BCE, typhoid fever wiped out a third of the Athenian population. Among the many casualties was the great Athenian politician, Pericles. In 1994-95 Greek archaeologists excavated a mass grave in the Kerameikos cemetery.

The grave contained the remains of 150 men, women and children all hastily buried. One of those victims was an 11 year old girl, which [who] archaeologists have dubbed ‘Myrtis’. The girl’s skull was so well preserved that scientists have been able to reconstruct her face down to the last detail. 

She evidently had reddish-brown hair, brown eyes, a straight nose and slightly protruding teeth.

What do I think?  Science is not dispassionate and there is no doubt that everyone who was / is involved with this project felt deeply for this little girl who probably didn’t make it to her 12th birthday.  It is truly fantastic that we can now see her face and we can learn so much from her death. Through the application of science, her untimely demise leaves us the richer.

Also we must record that this work is being funded and carried out under the aegis of the University of Athens – a place where the true meaning of the phrase ‘financial cuts’ must be blatantly apparent!

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Current Archaeology Rescue Dig of the Year 2015 - Winners!

As you may know, we sponsored the Current Archaeology Rescue Dig of the Year Award 2015.  

Here is a picture of me with the winners – Chris Stringer and Simon Lewis.  (I am the strange looking chap in the jauntily angled tie!)  As I have said before, this was a happy reunion as I worked with both them at Boxgrove in the mid 1990s (and they were kind enough to recall my work on the use-wear analysis of the Boxgrove handaxes).  

From Current Archaeology:

Congratulations to First Impressions: discovering the earliest footprints in Europe, winner of the Rescue Dig of the Year category in the 2015 Current Archaeology Awards.

The award was accepted by Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum and Dr Simon Lewis of Queen Mary, University of London, on behalf of the Happisburgh Project team for their work at Happisburgh in Norfolk. Their investigations at this remarkable site has revealed tangible traces of some of Britain’s earliest known human inhabitants, including a series of footprints dating back almost 1 million years.

 On accepting the award, Chris Stringer said: ‘There are two of us here tonight, but we are accepting this award on behalf of a much bigger team who have been involved in recording the ancient footprints and getting our findings published. We are also grateful to the ancient humans who left the footprints in the first place!’

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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Marketing emails are a pain in the neck, but…..


I agree, marketing emails are a pain in the neck.  Like every business we get hundreds every day.  Most are automatically assigned to the “SPAM” folder, but many still arrive in my inbox and I am forced to give them a cursory glance.  It is only on very rare occasions that there is anything of interest or which is worth following up.

So, I get it!!  Please stop sending marketing emails!

In the run-up to April 1st 2015 we have sent a couple of rounds of emails – very carefully targeted to researched and relevant ‘prospects’ who we know are very likely to be interested in our insurances.  Out of the 800 or so emails sent, only one individual has requested that we stop.  I am sad about this because the individual in this instance is the Secretary of a voluntary archaeology group which survives purely on monies donated – and we could have saved them money on their insurances this year………but they are not to know that.

If there was another way, I would use it, but there isn’t! 

Apologies if our emails have clogged-up your inbox or annoyed you – I appreciate that insurance is boring, dull, uninteresting and also a pain in the neck……except when it comes to making a claim…..and choosing your supplier isn’t all about price, but about existing relationships too. 

Anyway there is still time for us to get you an insurance quote in time for your April 1st renewal.  Junk emails or no junk emails, our prices are very competitive this year and you won’t regret getting to know us a little bit better. 

We are very committed to UK archaeology and we want to do our best for the groups that support it!

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Monday, 16 March 2015

Ring brings ancient Viking, Islamic civilizations closer together

An interesting article found at these links:

Ring brings ancient Viking, Islamic civilizations closer together

More than a century after its discovery in a ninth century woman’s grave, an engraved ring has revealed evidence of close contacts between Viking Age Scandinavians and the Islamic world.

Excavators of a Viking trading center in Sweden called Birka recovered the silver ring in the late 1800s. Until now, it was thought that it featured a violet amethyst engraved with Arabic-looking characters. But closer inspection with a scanning electron microscope revealed that the presumed amethyst is colored glass (an exotic material at the time), say biophysicist Sebastian Wärmländer of Stockholm University and his colleagues.

Read more at:

and at

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Towergate seeks US bankruptcy protection for restructure

Published in insurance Times last week:
Protection designed to ward off challenges from US investors……

The article is copyright protected, so if you want to read more, you can find the whole article at this link:

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