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Experts working on a site in Monmouth have unearthed the remains of a large prehistoric building that some believe could be older than Egypt’s pyramids. The wooden foundations, discovered by archaeologists from Monmouth Archaeology, could be up to 6,500 years old, and may have once formed part of a long house that sat on the edge of a lake.
Entire tree trunks were used to create the building’s foundations, and were placed on a prehistoric “burnt mound”. Some experts believe this mound would have been used to heat stones, which were then placed in a pot or trough to boil water, while others think the heated stones were used to create a type of sauna. The results of radiocarbon tests on the site are due later this month.
The debate over Italy’s commitment to protecting the country’s heritage has ignited once more after ornate stucco reliefs on one of Rome’s most famous landmarks crumbled earlier this week. City officials have blamed the incident, which saw fragments of a gargoyle's head and foliage from the Trevi fountain’s top frieze crash to the ground, on water infiltration caused by excessive snowfall in the city over the winter. The fountain was commissioned in 1732 and last underwent major works in 1990. The news comes just weeks after a 2,000-year-old wall collapsed in Pompeii.
Some 67,000 Victorian criminal records from the Dorset History Centre have been digitised and made available online via family history website Ancestry.co.uk. The records, which include details of arsonists, murderers and a man who was given hard labour for stealing a donkey, also feature Dorset’s prison registers from 1782–1901 and 1854–1904 Many of the records contain photographs of the detained. The documents are available to view for a fee via Ancestry.co.uk, and can be accessed for free using the public computers at the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester.
Look out for a future slideshow of images from the records at www.historyextra.com/feature/galleries
Paleolithic paintings discovered in El Castillo cave in northern Spain are Europe’s oldest known cave art, according to research published in the journal Science. A team of UK, Spanish and Portuguese researchers dated 50 paintings in 11 caves in northern Spain, and now believe that hand stencils and disks made by blowing paint onto the wall in El Castillo cave date back at least 40,800 years. If the dating is correct, the paintings are some 5,000–10,000 years older than previous examples from France.
A large club-shaped symbol in the famous polychrome chamber at the nearby Altamira cave was found to be at least 35,600 years old, indicating that painting started there 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. The findings also indicate that the cave was revisited and painted a number of times over a period spanning more than 20,000 years.