Monday 21 December 2015

Help welcome in cleaning neolithic excavation finds 9-10.1.2016 at Heureka

The cleaning and sorting of last summers neolithic excavation finds from Vantaa Jokiniemi will take place at Science Centre Heureka on Saturday and Sunday 9-10.1.2016 from 10-16. This is an excellent opportunity for you to familiarize yourself with a multitude of different types of neolithic stone age finds!

Picture from the 2015 cleaning session at Heureka.

No previous experience about cleaning and sorting excavation finds is required. All cleaning equipment and other materials are supplied by Heureka. The event is free of charge!

Comb ceramic potsherds from the excavations.

Please note that on Saturday (9.1) 16-17 PM there will also be a lecture about the 2015 excavation results (Jan Fast).

Wednesday 16 December 2015

First real case in Latvia where grave looters have been brought to justice!

It seems that some justice has finally been done in Latvia where grave robbing and illegal metal detecting is a huge problem! 

The Alūksne District Court in Latvia sentenced grave robbers who plundered a Late Iron Age cemetary in  NE Latvia in April 2016 in search for antiques.  The men were sentenced to 160 hours of forced labor each. This is the first time that a court sentence of this kind has been proclaimed in Latvia. 

According to personal communication with Latvian archaeologist Arturs Tomsons "This is the first time when grave looters in Latvia are brought to, at least, some kind of justice."

Link to the news annoncement (in Latvian)

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Traces of viruses found in the DNA of Finnish Second World War casualities

Graves of fallen soldiers in Tiiksi (Karelia). Photo SA-kuva.

"DNA in human skeletal remains represents an important historical source of host genomic information and potentially of infecting viruses. However, little is known about viral persistence in bone. We searched ca. 70-year-old long bones of putative Finnish casualties from World War II for parvovirus B19 (B19V) DNA, and found a remarkable prevalence of 45%. The viral sequences were exclusively of genotypes 2 (n = 41), which disappeared from circulation in 1970´s, or genotype 3 (n = 2), which has never been reported in Northern Europe. Based on mitochondrial and Y-chromosome profiling, the two individuals carrying B19V genotype 3 were likely from the Soviet Red Army. The most recent common ancestor for all genotypes was estimated at early 1800s. This work demonstrates the forms of B19V that circulated in the first half of the 20th century and provides the first evidence of the suitability of bone for exploration of DNA viruses.

The bones had remained in the battlefields of Karelia district, near the border of Finland and Russia at the time of WWII. The climate in this region comprises four divergent seasons, with sub-zero temperatures and snow-cover during winter and long day lengths (≤20 hrs) during summer. The soil is generally acidic, with regional and micro-scale variations. The remains were initially considered Finnish in origin based on visual inspection of vestiges of military uniforms, ID tags or personal belongings1 under the coordination of the Association for Cherishing the Memory of the Dead of the War. DNA extracts of altogether 106 bone samples from WWII casualties were obtained from the Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Helsinki."

Toppinen, M. et al. Bones hold the key to DNA virus history and epidemiology. Sci. Rep. 5, 17226; doi: 10.1038/srep17226 (2015).

See also