A remarkable archaeological discovery in a Co. Clare cave has pushed back the date of human existence in Ireland by 2,500 years.
This discovery re-writes Irish archaeology and adds an entirely new chapter to human colonisation of the island – moving Ireland’s story into a new era.
Radiocarbon dating of a butchered brown bear bone, which has been stored in a cardboard box at the National Museum of Ireland for almost 100 years, has established that humans were on the island of Ireland some 12,500 years ago – 2,500 earlier than previously believed.
Since the 1970s, the oldest evidence of human occupation on the island of Ireland has been at Mount Sandel in Co. Derry. This site has been dated at 8,000 BC, which is in the Mesolithic period, indicating that humans had occupied the island for some 10,000 years.
However, new analysis of the bear patella – or knee bone – originally found in Co. Clare in 1903 gives us undisputed evidence that people existed in Ireland during the preceding Palaeolithic period at 10,500 BC, some 12,500 years ago.
This is a major breakthrough for archaeologists who have spent decades searching for earlier signs of human occupation on the island.
The discovery was made by Dr Marion Dowd, an archaeologist at IT Sligo, and Dr Ruth Carden, a Research Associate with the National Museum of Ireland.
Read the whole story on IT Sligo News
Full article with evidence is published on Quaternary Science Reviews, Volume 139, 1 May 2016, Pages 158–163.
A new storytelling project about life through death in medieval Donegal, Ireland, is out. It’s called “Ballyhanna, Stories from the Grave” and it’s an audiobook, produced by Abarta Audioguides on behalf of Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the Ballyhanna Research Project, a companion to the new publication: “The Science of a Lost Medieval Gaelic Graveyard, The Ballyhanna Research Project”.
The Ballyhanna Research Project is a cross-border collaborative research project that was established to investigate a medieval church and burial ground on the outskirts of Ballyshannon in County Donegal. The audiobook gives an account of the archaeological excavation of a forgotten graveyard which contained the burials of over 1,200 individuals, representing over 1,000 years of history. The remains of these individuals were scientifically studied by the Ballyhanna Research Project, whose remarkable findings are now detailed in the new publication.
The site was lost from local knowledge for centuries, rediscovered in 2003 and subsequently excavated. One of the primary aims of the project is to show how scientific research may aid our interpretations of archaeology and reveal new insights into past societies. The project research tells us about this community through death and burial traditions, and by examining these aspects, it also tells us about the people that lived in this medieval community, who, over the course of a millennium, were laid to rest in a small graveyard by the banks of the River Erne.
The chapters of this audiobook are broken into tracks, with each track discussing a particular aspect of the story of Ballyhanna. Five of these tracks are written from the first-person perspective of individuals whose remains were discovered during the excavation, or who were likely to have lived and worked at Ballyhanna in the past. These first-person accounts are fictional, but attempt to recreate their time, surroundings and lives, based on the information retrieved during the excavation and analysis, and from contemporary historical records.
This new archaeology audiobook, Ballyhanna; Stories from the Grave, is available free on Abasta Audioguides website and SoundCloud.
Please find more info here.