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2010 Archeology News Recap: December

News of a collection of well-preserved Neanderthal bones found in 1994 hit the headlines this month, as scientists announced that they believe they belonged to an extended family. With careful analysis, archeologists were able to put together the bones to reveals approximate ages and genders of the family.

Neanderthal Bones Found in Spanish Cave

It is now the belief that the remains found in the Spanish cave known as El Sidrón are 12 members of a family that were killed and butchered. The remains depict a horrific end for whoever the bones belonged to.

The discovery of the family first occurred when human jawbones were found in a cave in 1994. At first, scientists felt that they had remains of Spanish Civil War victims because it was not uncommon for Republican fighters to hide out in caves. However, more bone fragments were uncovered and then sent to forensic scientists, who reported that the bones were not of soldiers or even humans from modern times, but they belonged to humans that died 50,000 years ago.

Sorting through the bones was a task likened to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The shape of the bones helped researchers come to a conclusion of the estimated ages and gender of the family members. The tally included three men, three women, three teenage boys and three children, which included one infant.

Other archeology headlines for December 2010 include:

In southern Siberia, a finger bone found in the region has undergone DNA analysis that suggests that another ancient human relative was in existence in Asia about 30,000 years ago. So far, the group has been given the name of the Denisovans.

Found under shallow ground at the Yorkshire Museum in England, news of a man believed to have been a disgraced Roman gladiator was revealed this month. After analyzing the physical evidence, it was shown that the remains belonged to some sort of swordsman. His body was dumped with garbage and was never given a proper burial or ceremony. It is believed that the site was once the location of the York’s Roman amphitheater.

After sustaining injuries during an excavation in Montreal, an archeologist named Mario Bergeron died as a result at the age of 55. At the time of his death, Bergeron was working towards revealing the remains of the first permanent parliament building in Canada.

Private collections around the world have had the pleasure of hosting a mummified head that had been previously unidentified until recently. Assassinated in 1610, the head belongs to King Henri IV of France. The king was buried in a royal chapel north of Paris, but was removed from his final resting place when a mob of revolutionaries raided his tomb in 1793.