Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ancient Arabian Stones Hint at How Humans Migrated Out of Africa

By Charles Q. Choi

Ancient Homo Skull
A 1.8-million-year-old skull that was discovered in Dmanisi, Georgia. In a study published in October 2013 in the journal Science, researchers suggested modern humans may have dispersed out of Africa in more than one wave of migration.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Georgian National Museum

Ancient stone artifacts recently excavated from Saudi Arabia possess similarities to items of about the same age in Africa — a discovery that could provide clues to how humans dispersed out of Africa, researchers say.
Follow on Bloglovin Modern humans originated about 200,000 years ago in Africa. However, scientists have long debated when and how the modern human lineage spread out of Africa.
"Understanding how we originated and colonized the world remains one of the most fascinating and enduring questions, because it is our story as humans," said lead study author Eleanor Scerri, an archaeologist at the University of Bordeaux in France.

Previous research had suggested that the exodus from Africa started between 70,000 and 40,000 years ago. However, a genetic analysis reported in April hinted that modern humans might have begun their march across the globe as early as 130,000 years ago, and continued their expansion out of Africa in multiple waves.
In addition, stone artifacts recently unearthed in the Arabian Desert date to at least 100,000 years ago. This could be evidence of an early modern-human exodus out of Africa, scientists say. However, it's possible that these artifacts weren't created by modern humans; a number of now-extinct human lineages existed outside Africa before or at the same time when modern humans migrated there. For instance, the Neanderthals, the closest known extinct relatives of modern humans, lived in both Europe and Asia around that time. [See Images of Our Closest Human Ancestor]
To help shed light on the role the Arabian Peninsula might have played in the history of modern humans, scientists compared stone artifacts recently excavated from three sites in the Jubbah lake basin in northern Saudi Arabia with items from northeast Africa excavated in the 1960s. Both sets of artifacts were 70,000 to 125,000 years old. Back then, the areas that are now the Arabian and Sahara deserts were far more hospitable places to live than they are now, which could have made it easier for modern humans and related lineages to migrate out of Africa.
"Far from being a desert, the Arabian Peninsula between 130,000 and 75,000 years ago was a patchwork of grasslands and savanna environments, featuring extensive river networks running through the interior," Scerri said.
The northeast African stone tools the researchers analyzed were similar to ones previously found near modern-human skeletons. The scientists found that stone artifacts at two of the three Arabian sites were "extremely similar" to the northeast African stone tools, Scerri told Live Science. At the very least, Scerri said, this finding suggests that there was some level of interaction between the groups in Africa and those in the Arabian Peninsula, and might hint that these Arabian tools were made by modern humans.
Surprisingly, Scerri said, tools from the third Arabian site the researchers analyzed were "completely different." "This shows that there was a number of different tool-making traditions in northern Arabia during this time, often in very close proximity to each other," she said.
One possible explanation for these differences is that the artifacts were made by different human lineages. Future research needs to uncover skeletal remains with ancient tools unearthed from the Arabian Peninsula to help solve this mystery, Scerri noted. Unless skeletal remains are found near such artifacts, it will remain uncertain whether modern humans or a different  human lineage might have made them.
"It seems likely that there were multiple dispersals into the Arabian Peninsula from Africa, some possibly very early in the history of Homo sapiens," Scerri said. "It also seems likely that there may have been multiple dispersals into this region from other parts of Eurasia. These features are what make the Arabian Peninsula so interesting."
Ancient migrants out of Africa and from Eurasia might have encountered a number of different populations in the Arabian Peninsula, Scerri said. Some of these groups may have adapted to their environment more than others had, which raises the intriguing question: "Did the exchange of genes and knowledge between such groups contribute to our ultimate success as a species?" Scerri said.
The scientists detailed their findings online Aug. 8 in the Journal of Human Evolution.

No Descendants Are Left from the First Eskimos

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2,700-Year-Old Phoenician Shipwreck Discovered

Rossella Lorenzi

Part of the cargo of the sunken Phoenician ship. Credit: University of Malta/CNRS/COMEX

View Caption +#1: Sept. 12, 2011 --
 In the search for buried history, archaeologists pour their resources into uncovering the remnants of the distant past. With know-how, persistence and a little luck, archaeologists can push aside dirt and rock and find an artifact of historical significance. Although chance plays a big role in unearthing history, archaeological treasures have been stumbled upon purely by accident, often by those outside the scientific community. In these photos, explore several particularly serendipitous finds of unique artifacts, some of which reach as far back as prehistory.
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On Sept. 12, 1940, four teenagers followed their wayward dog into a cave complex near the village of Montignac in southwestern France. To their surprise, the caves hosted something remarkable: nearly 2,000 paintings and etchings of animals, humans and abstract shapes on the walls dating back between 15,000 and 25,000 years.  Known as the Lascaux caves, the complex features figures depicted in surprising detail given the age of the illustrations. Animals portrayed on the cave walls included horses, stags, bison and felines.  Archaeologists believed the caves were used for ritualistic purposes. Some parts of the illustrations even appear to construct a narrative, but what they mean exactly has yet to be deciphered. The caves were open to the public in 1948, but closed in 1963 in order to preserve the site from damage.
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The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of over 800 biblical texts made of animal skin and papyrus. Dating to around 2,000 years ago, between the years 200 B.C. and 70 A.D., the scrolls could well be the oldest such documents in existence and have deepened historians' understanding of religious history. These documents may have been lost to history had a Bedouin shepherd named Muhammed edh-Dhib and his cousin not stumbled upon the first manuscripts along the northern shore of the Dead Sea at a remote site known as Qumran in 1947. The last fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection was uncovered in the mid-1950s. Although the scrolls have been extensively studied and translated, one big mystery remains: Who exactly wrote them?
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As Napoleon Bonaparte's army marched through north Africa during his campaign in Egypt, they stumbled upon what would become known as the Rosetta Stone, after the town where it was discovered. Within Bonaparte's army was a squadron of scholars called Institute of Egypt, also known as the Scientific and Artistic Commission. As the military settled around the Nile Delta, the Institute explored local ruins and artifacts. After the discovery of the stone in 1799, several copies of the inscriptions on its face were made, since no one could read them at the time. By 1802, the Greek and Demotic portions of the stone had been deciphered by scholars. The hieroglyphics posed a different challenge all together, however, and it would take 20 years before French scholar Jean-François Champollion announced that he had cracked the code. By deciphering the hieroglyphs, Champollion opened a whole new door to understanding the civilization of ancient Egypt. The Rosetta Stone is currently kept in the British Museum.
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In case you don't know what a geoglyph is, ancient Peruvians went through the trouble of leaving a picture-perfect definition. Known as the Nazca Lines, these giant carvings into the Earth were only discovered by airplane in the 1930s. Located in the Nazva desert in southern Peru around 250 miles (400 kilometers) south of Lima, the geoglyphs resemble a number of animals including a spider (as seen here), a condor, a monkey, a tree, as well as human figures and geometric patterns. Why exactly indigenous tribes living in the area between 100 B.C. and 650 A.D. felt compelled to produce these works remains a mystery, though archaeologists agree that it is likely tied to religious customs.
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In 1991, German tourists stumbled upon a frozen body in a glacier on the Ötztal Alps between Italy and Austria. Although they originally thought the corpse to be the result of a recent death, the iceman mummy, named Ötzi, in fact dated back 5,300 years. Since Ötzi's discovery, the mummy has been extensively studied. Scientists have learned everything from his last meal to his cause of death to his possible occupation and they have even made reconstructions of his face. Ötzi died in the spring as a result of an arrowhead striking his left clavicle artery. He likely received a ceremonial burial and was found beside tools and other personal items.
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Over the years, metal detector enthusiasts, particularly those in the United Kingdom, have uncovered archaeological treasures buried beneath the Earth. In 2009, 30-year-old Nick Davies hauled in 10,000 ancient Roman coins that he had found inside a clay pot buried in Shropshire, U.K. That same year, a trove of 1,500 gold and silver pieces dating back to the Dark Ages were found on a farmer's field in the western region of Staffordshire, England. Last year, 63-year-old David Crisp uncovered 52,000 ancient Roman coins, later given a value of around $1 million, in a clay pot in southwestern England.
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An international team of researchers has discovered the remains of a Phoenician ship that sunk in the waters off the island of Malta around 700 BC, Maltese authorities announced this week.
One of the oldest shipwrecks found in the Mediterranean, the vessel is about 50 feet long. It was found at a depth of 400 feet on the sandy seabed of Gozo island, the second-largest island in the Maltese archipelago.
“There are very good chances that the wooden hull is still present, buried beneath the sand,” Timmy Gambin, a senior lecturer in maritime archaeology at the University of Malta and the co-director of the project, told Discovery News.
Smuggled Cargo Found on Ancient Roman Ship
Gambin and colleagues from Texas A&M University and the French National Research Agency, found the ship’s cargo spread over a 700-square-foot area. According to Gambin, it was “in a fantastic state of preservation.”
The sandy seabed likely cushioned the impact when the ship sunk, leaving jars and ceramic containers unbroken.
According to the researchers, the ship carried a mixed cargo of jars and grinding stones.
About 20 grinding stones made from volcanic rock, each weighing as much as 75 pounds, were identified at the site.
Biggest Shipwreck Finds in History
“The stones, probably coming from Sicily, were being transported to be sold elsewhere in the Mediterranean,” Gambin said.
The researchers also spotted some 50 amphorae — containers with two handles and narrow necks used to hold wine and oil — made in seven different types and sizes. This would indicate the vessel had traveled to numerous harbors before sinking.
Like other Phoenician trading vessels, the ship might have made stops in Sardinia and Malta to sell its cargo.
According to Gambin, its route might have included ports of call in southern Italy, Sicily, Malta and possibly North Africa in present day Tunisia.
Roman Ship Carried Live Fish Tank
Originating from what is now Lebanon, the Phoenicians were master shipbuilders and traders who criss-crossed the Mediterranean from 1550 B.C. to 300 B.C.
Credited for developing the first alphabet, they were also the creators of a precious purple dye extracted from murex snails that was used as pigment for royal clothing.
On their trading routes, they used Maltese safe harbors as staging and anchorage posts. Indeed, Phoenician traders are believed to have been the first known inhabitants of Malta.
“The shipwreck may offer new and significant information about Phoenician seafaring and trade in the central Mediterranean during the archaic period,” Gambin said. ”To date, little is known about the earliest contact of Phoenician mariners with the Maltese islands.”
PHOTOS: Accidental Archaeological Discoveries

A very high-resolution 3-D model of the site, based on more than 8,000 photographs taken of the wreck, is being funded by the French National Research Agency.
The exact location of the 2,700-year-old wreck will be kept secret until the team has finished their research.
“We have recovered some objects this year and are currently planning future seasons of work on this site,” Gambin said.
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Unique 2000-Year-Old Wooden Toilet Seat Found

by Rossella Lorenzi

Archaeologists excavating a Roman fort in northern England have unearthed a 2,000-year-old wooden toilet seat — the only find of its kind to have survived.
The seat was found in a muddy trench at the Roman fort of Vindolanda, which was a key military post on the northern frontier of Britain before the building of Hadrian’s Wall. It had clearly been well used by soldiers stationing there.
Decommissioned from its original purpose, it was then dumped amongst other rubbish before the construction of Hadrian’s Wall started in the early second century.
“We know a lot about Roman toilets from previous excavations at the site and from the wider Roman world, which have included many fabulous Roman latrines, but never before have we had the pleasure of seeing a surviving and perfectly preserved wooden seat,” Andrew Birley, director of excavations at Vindolanda, said.
Medieval Poop Found: Still Stinks
The wooden seat has been perfectly preserved in the anaerobic, oxygen-free conditions that exist at Vindolanda.
“It is made from a very well-worked piece of wood and looks pretty comfortable,” Birley said.
Indeed, given the cold climate, the seat would have worked much better than the well-known Roman marble or stone toilet benches.
“Now we need to find the toilet that went with it as Roman loos are fascinating places to excavate — their drains often contain astonishing artifacts,” Birley added.
Discoveries from latrines at Vindolanda have included a baby boot, coins, a betrothal medallion and a bronze lamp.
Ancient Pompeians Could Go Upstairs to Pee
Excavated for decades by the Birley family, Vindolanda has yielded a variety of findings, ranging from worn shoes and socks to jewelry, gold coins and unique objects such as a gladiator's drinking glass.
Vindolanda’s most famous finds, however, are some 400 wooden writing tablets inscribed with official and private correspondences. About the size of a modern postcard, these are the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain and provide a unique insight into life at the Roman fort.
Once preservation of the wooden seat is complete — the process might take up to 18 months — the artifact will be put on display at the Vindolanda Roman Army Museum, located near the modern village of Bardon Mill.
Ancient Toilet Reveals Parasites in Crusader Poop
According to a statement by the Vindolanda Trust, archaeologists now need to find a spongia — the natural sponge on a stick that Romans used instead of toilet paper.
“With over 100 years of archaeology remaining and the unique conditions for the preservation of such organic finds, a discovery may just be possible,” the statement concluded.
Image: The 2000-year-old wooden toilet seat excavated from a muddy trench. Credit: Vindolanda Trust.
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Scribbler Tales by Mary Ann Bernal available for pre-order

“Scribbler Tales is a unique mix of genres in one anthology rich with tension, humanity and genuine emotion. Unconventional settings and unexpected twists are bound to leave you pondering long after you close this book.”

In Desperate Measures, Audrey learns of Paul’s duplicity when human cloning experiments go awry.  Forbidden Lore beckons Arianna and Ethan into a haunted cemetery where they are confronted by a gathering of witches with evil intent.  Adrian must challenge his father to marry Rina or suffer the fate of star-crossed lovers in Forever Lost.  In The Hourglass, Flair makes a covenant with the Devil to keep Brice alive.  Aaron reflects upon his childhood as a military brat in Sail with Me.


Amazon Link:

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History Trivia - Macedonian dynasty ends with the death of Byzantine Empress Theodora

August 31

 12 Caligula, Emperor of Rome 37-41, was born. He was noted for his insanity and cruelty.

161 Commodus, Emperor of Rome 180-192 was born.

651 St. Aidan died. A monk at Iona, Scotland, Aidan became the first bishop of Lindisfarne.

1056 Byzantine Empress Theodora became ill and died suddenly a few days later without children to succeed the throne, thus ending the Macedonian dynasty.

1314 King Håkon V Magnusson moved the capital of Norway from Bergen to Oslo.

1422 King Henry V of England died of dysentery while in France.

1422 Henry VI became King of England at the age of 9 months.

1535 Pope Paul II deposed and excommunicated King Henry VIII.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mr. Chuckles tips over the Wizard's Cauldron meeting 100th interview special edition: Star US chickliterati, Katie Oliver

The Wizard speaks:

For followers of the Wizard's Cauldron, Katie Oliver needs no introduction. Most people's odds-on favourite for global romance superstardom, Katie has been writing stories ever since she was old enough to hold a pencil.  

With her star currently shining brightly in our corner of the literary firmament, I thought of no-one more appropriate than Katie to be our 100th interview.

A big fan of the old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers romances and later, the Stephen Curtis chickflicks "Four Weddings" and "Notting Hill", Katie is known for her light touch, effervescent humour and gentle observations of the "battle of the sexes". 

As a prolific writer, Katie also is fond of long term character development, so you really get a sense of the creation of a literary world. 

I'm a big fan of the way she does business and am wishing her to the top. I picked up the Wizphone and caught up with Katie in her garden somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard.  Here's what she had to say to me.

Read more at:
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Audio Book Launch - The Briton and the Dane by Mary Ann Bernal, narrated by Sebastian Lockwood

Written by: Mary Ann Bernal
Narrated by: Sebastian Lockwood
Length: 11 hrs and 30 mins 
Unabridged Audiobook

King Alfred the Great has thwarted the Viking threat against his kingdom of Wessex. Signing a treaty with the formidable Danish King Guthrum, he succeeds in pushing the heathen army back to the rolling fens of East Anglia.
An uneasy peace holds sway: The King establishes a standing army under Lord Richard, who takes command of the citadel at Wareham.
Richard and his army are accompanied by his daughter, Gwyneth, an impetuous and reckless young woman - at once striking, intellectually gifted, but dangerously vain and imprudent.
While Richard broods on the Viking threat, Gwyneth falls in love with an enemy prince - only to discover that she has been betrothed to a Saxon warrior twice her age.
Refusing to countenance her grim fate, she flees the fortress, but is soon kidnapped by a Viking warrior and taken to the camp of King Guthrum while Saxon search parties scour the land.
In captivity, a hostage to fortune, and the focus of political intrigue, Gwyneth is submerged in a world of expediency, betrayal, and black treachery. Slowly, she realizes the truth is suspect, nothing is what it appears and her reality cannot be trusted.
And all the time, against this background, she desires nothing more than to be reunited with her dashing Danish prince.


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Ten things you didn’t know about author Brenda Perlin

Brenda Perlin
This was then
This is now
Ten things you didnt know about Brenda:
1.        I am the baby of the family.
2. I went to Cal Arts for Photography, but I really wanted to be an actress
3. I tend to laugh at my own jokes.
4. I was really spoiled because my mom didnt know how to say no.
5. I have a gum addiction. I am always trying to give up my chain chewing ways.
6. I have overdosed on red Swedish fish candies. Dangerous when eaten all at once. ;-)
7. My fantasy is to be a lead singer of a band, but I cant carry a tune. 
8. I often brag that Johnny Depp is my long lost brother.
9. I watch way too much reality TV.
10. My laugh can be over the top. Have scared people in the past.


Brenda Perlin is an independent adult contemporary fiction author. Brenda evokes passionate responses in her readers by using a provocatively unique writing style. Her latest book, Burnt Promises, captures the soul-wrenching conflicts of a personal struggle for emotional fulfillment.

Ever since Brenda was a child she has been fascinated with writing. She draws her biggest inspiration from Judy Blume. This sparked a passion in Brenda to pursue personal expression through writing. Once she was old enough to go to coffee shops alone, Brenda recalls losing herself in the world of writing, all while documenting her ideas on paper napkins.

"There is really no creative process, I just write."



 Want more of Brenda?  Please visit.
Blossoming Press
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History Trivia - Henry VIII signs Treaty of the More

August 30

 1181 Pope Alexander III died. He is noted in history for laying the foundation stone for the Notre Dame de Paris.

1525 Treaty of the More signed between Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France. England agreed to give up some territorial claims on France. In return, France was to pay a pension and was to prevent the Duke of Albany from returning to Scotland.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

FB Event - Kim Scott - Lilies in the Clearing' Book Launch - Lydia North - Saturday, August 30, 2014 2 pm EDT

at 2:00pm in EDT
 Kim Scott launch party for Book 2 in The Spirits of Maine Series is coming! This is the sequel to the Ghost Story 'Waiting for Harvey'.

This series of Ghost Stories is published under my pen name Lydia North. The 3rd book will be out in late December.
Lilies in the Clearing (The Spirits of Maine Book 2) by Lydia North is a fabulous follow up to Waiting For Harvey. This is a series that is spooky, clever and most of all difficult to put down. I couldn’t resist the mystery, intrigue and the evil that spread like wildfire. As in the first book, I was hooked right away and had a hard time stepping away from my iPad. This book is dark in a good way. Loved the suspense that kept me guessing throughout. So many unexpected turns. This author is truly gifted. She is skilled, making her characters not only believable but life-like and writing is super smooth. She just has a way of telling a story that makes you feel comfortable, like you are there on the scene. Her descriptions of the surroundings are mesmerizing, setting the scene perfectly. Being frightened was never so much fun. This is a great escape, a real adventure and an entertaining horror ride.

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History Trivia - Temple of Jerusalem burns after a nine-month Roman siege

August 29

 70 The Temple of Jerusalem burned after a nine-month Roman siege.

284 General Gaius Aurelius V Diocletianus Jovius became Emperor of Rome.

1350 Battle of Winchelsea (Les Espagnols sur Mer): The English naval fleet under King Edward III defeated a Castilian fleet of 40 ships. Between 14 and 26 Castilian ships were captured, and some were sunk, while 2 English vessels were sunk and many suffered heavy losses. Louis XI of France paid Edward IV of England to return to England and not take up arms to pursue his claim to the French throne. Edward's brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III), opposed the treaty and refused the pension Louis offered.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Grander designs at Guédelon: historic chateau project brings past to life

Volunteers and researchers are hewing and toiling in a French forest to build a 13th-century castle by medieval means
in Guédelon, Burgundy

Workers carry stones on the construction site
Workers carry stones at Guédelon Castle. The chateau is being built using medieval materials and techniques. Photograph: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images
Deep in the forests of northern Burgundy, history is in the making. Stonemasons hew at rough chunks of sandstone with tools produced from scratch in the forge by leather-aproned blacksmiths. The stone is transported by horse and cart to be raised to walls by workers in smocks marching in a wooden treadwheel operating pulleys capable of raising a tonne in eight minutes.
In the nearby wood, artisans have constructed a medieval flour mill based on a recent archaeological find. To their delight – and no little surprise – it works. Mobile phones, however, do not. And there are few concessions to those other perceived scourges of modern life: health and safety.
Outside the forest clearing it is 2014. Inside, it is 1245 and the fictional Guilbert Courtenay, aka Guilbert de Guédelon, is anxious to take possession of his new home: a modest chateau befitting his social station as a lowly aristocrat and knight who has fallen into royal favour.
Guédelon is a unique historical and archaeological project to build a chateau from scratch using medieval materials and techniques. Instead of digging down to solve the mysteries of history, workers at Guédelon are building up.
Such is the magic of travelling back eight centuries that 300,000 visitors flock to Guédelon every year and hundreds volunteer to join the workforce.
When the Guédelon project began 16 years ago, it was deemed essential to place the mini castle and its owner at a specific period of history. The year chosen was 1229, when Louis IX, later Saint Louis, was king of France, but at 15 he was deemed too young to rule.
As the story goes, his mother, Blanche of Castile, who holds the reins of power is informed of Courtenay's distinguished fighting for the royal army against rebellious barons and awards him a "licence" to build a modest castle.
Everything about Guédelon will reflect Courtenay's modest standing, which means he can afford to build a small chateau, but cannot afford a moat or architectural refinements.
A man at work at Guédelon Castle A man at work at Guédelon Castle. Hundreds of people have volunteered to work on the project. On the medieval building site, the present tense refers to the middle ages. The hundred years war (1337-1453) is still a century off, but an Englishwoman, Sarah Preston, originally from Bath, finds herself showing visitors around.
"Every element has to be referenced back to the 13th century. We ask ourselves, Guilbert de Guédelon is a low-ranking nobleman with limited resources so what are his options? Will he be able to afford a drawbridge that will take 57 felled trees and 66 iron nails? No," Preston says.
"This chateau is Guilbert sending a message to the medieval world about his power and wealth. There is no prison, for example, because a lord of his rank doesn't have the right to keep prisoners.
"At one point we realised the stonemasons were cutting the stones for the towers too perfectly, which just wouldn't h ave been appropriate. It would have suggested he had a lot of money and therefore a small army in the chateau, which wasn't the case."
Like all Guédelon workers, Preston has her "corde à treize noeuds", a rope with 13 equidistant knots used for measuring, marking circles and other geometric figures.
Much of the work is by trial and error. The right-hand section of chateau roof tiles is blacker than the rest due to the first few batches being left in the oven too long.
For the permanent workers, the volunteers and those who visit, often year after year to see how work is progressing, the project inspires passion.
"We are constructing in order to comprehend. From the first stone to the last tile of Guédelon we want to learn and understand," says Maryline Martin, the project's director general.
"When we started we thought about what a 13th-century chateau in this part of the world would look like, what the actual builders would be like, how they would work, with what materials. Our approach was scientific.
"We have succeeded on every level: human, scientific, archaeological, tourism. It's an adventure with a capital A."
Two years ago, French archaeologists found the remains of a flour mill, believed to date from the 13th century, in the neighbouring mountainous Jura region of eastern France. Working with Guédelon they attempted to rebuild it, to see if it would work.
"This was an exceptional experience. There were pieces that were a total mystery: we just couldn't work out what they were or where they went, but we approached things intellectually and we worked with the scientists.
A worker at the construction site of Guédelon Castle A worker at the construction site of the Guédelon Castle. Photograph: Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images "We even went to countries including Romania to see how their mills work, to see if that helped. Today, we have succeeded in building a working mill," Martin adds.
She rejects the idea that Guédelon is a bit Disney.
"It's very French that when something works we say it is because it's populist and not serious, that it is just a theme park. We refute this idea: the site is a medieval construction site. We use horses, stone, wood, water and if it rains we advise people to come in rubber boots because its medieval and not all nice and paved."
"We started with a history committee that was independent of us and approved the plan. It's experimental archaeology and it gives a better understanding and education that explains the heritage of the 13th century to the public. It's helping us decode the 13th century.
"Guédelon is built on the strength of its team of workers. The atmosphere, harmony and team spirit are extraordinary. We have people come and work with us who normally spend their days stuck to mobile phones and computers and want to experience something completely different – not just manual, but working as a team.
Visitors at Guédelon castle About 300,000 visitors flock to Guédelon every year. Photograph: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images Martin adds: "We are not just living the medieval life, it's a serious archaeological project. By decoding the 13th century we are helping people understand it."

What was going on at the time?

It is 1245 in Guédelon, in Burgundy in central France. King Louis IX is on the throne in France and King Henry III in England. Louis is married to Margaret of Provence and Henry to her sister Eleanor. The women are helping to mend relations between the two countries, riven by war since 1180 and not helped by Henry's disastrous invasion of France in 1230. In 1259 the two monarchs will sign the treaty of Paris intended to end the territorial conflict between the two countries. It will not prevent the hundred years war kicking off in 1337.
The rebuilding of what is now Westminster Abbey is being started on royal orders and the Seventh Crusade (1258 to 1254), to be led by Louis to avenge the fall of Jerusalem to the Khwarezmian Persian Sunni Muslim dynasty the previous year, has been proclaimed. It will lead to Louis's defeat, capture and ransom by the Egyptian army.
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