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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lascaux Cave

In Southwestern France, there lies a cave system that depicts some of the earliest Paleolithic Cave art, dating back about 17,000 years. Lascaux Cave was discovered in France’s Dordogne River Valley in September 1940 by teenagers, who were frolicking in the woods when their dog disappeared down a hole.

Lascaux Cave
Image Source


The Unicorn

The Lascaux Cave has over 2000 figures depicted on the walls, 900 of those being various breeds of animals. The most famous section of the animal paintings is the “Great Hall of Bulls”, where stags, equines, and bulls are depicted. One of the bulls is 18 feet long, making it the largest cave art representation of an animal.

Due to the high levels of CO2 deteriorating the paintings caused by foot traffic and the humidity from the visitor’s breath, the cave was closed for visitors. Lascaux II was opened to the public in 1983 and rivaled the popularity of the original cave.

The debate over the ideology and reasoning for the cave painting continues, as many of these famous paintings were found at sites not meant to be seen by wanderers or tourists.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Ancient City of Ephesus

"Ephesus ... was a city of ancient Anatolia. During the period known as Classical Greece it was located in Ionia, where the Cayster River (Küçük Menderes) flows into the Aegean Sea. It belonged to the Ionian League.

Ephesus hosted one of the seven churches of Asia, addressed in the Book of Revelation of The Bible), and the Gospel of John might have been written here. It is also the site of a large gladiator graveyard.

The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), and both were destroyed by the Goths in 263. The emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected a new public bath. The town was again partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614. The importance of the city as a commercial centre declined as the harbour slowly filled with silt from the river.

Today's archaeological site lies 3 kilometers south of the Selçuk district of İzmir Province, Turkey." -

Read More:Turkey: The Ancient City of Ephesus

Contributed by Emm in London

Also from this writer:

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Word from the Ancient Digger

I hope everyone's enjoying the content so far on the Ancient Digger and I hope that I can bring you up to date and interesting material to enlighten the mind and educate you as well.

If you have any questions about the site or if you have an interesting educational piece based on the site subject, I would be more than happy to feature it on the Ancient Digger.

After all, what is life with out the support of others.

Take care,
The Ancient Digger

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Rock Cut Architecture and Underground Archeology

The ritual of rock-cut architecture goes back all the way to the Great Temple of Ramses located along the Nile in Nubia.

Rock-cut architecture occupies a predominantly significant place in the history of Architecture, but "the ritual goes back all the way to the Great Temple of Ramses, known as Abu Simbel," located along the Nile in Nubia. Dated back to 1280 BCE, it is comprised of a mammoth scaled portico carved out of the cliff with interior chambers that form its asylum.The initial structures were typically carved out by starting at the top to construct a crown and then working downward, for the apparent reason that stones would not be falling on one's head.

The Buddhist "Carpenter's Cave"

images sources: jackfrench, danchitnis, fotomoe, kumara sastry

images sources: koshyk, dharmesh, akuppa, tamurello

Located at Ellora in Maharashtra, India, this structure represents the essence of Indian rock-cut architecture. The caves are comprised of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhists temples and monasteries that were originally constructed between the 5th and 10th century. There is a sense of synchronization in accordance with these caves concerning religion during this period of history.


images sources: d winton, betta design, ahron de leeuw

Petra is an archaeological site in Arabah, Jordan. Lying on the gradient of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern border of Arabah, the large valley runs from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.

This World Heritage Site was discovered in 1812 by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig BurcKhardt. This rock-cut structure was adopted by the Nabataeans who extended this tradition by "carving their temples and tombs into the yellowish-orange rock that defines the canyons and gullies of the region." One of the more interesting aspects of Petra is that there was an actual theater with rock carved seats found inside.

Lycian Tombs

images sources: aliza, scott henderson

The Lycian tombs, circa 400 AC, were developed by the Lycian people who had perfected this type of architecture that relied on the abundance of soft limestone within the region. These monumental tombs are most noteworthy for their quality of stone masonry and of course the quantity that most recently was revealed at a count of 1085 still intact.

Mount of Olives, Jerusalem

images sources: john donaghy, aedes, wikipedia

At the base of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem rests the tombs of Absalom and Zechariah the Prophet. The Shrine of Absalom is said to have been built by the disobedient son of King David before his death. The monument of the Prophet Zechariah is an amazing feat of construction, considering it was carved entirely out of the mountain side, including the intricate detail. Both are a short walk to the east of the Old City of Jerusalem. It's not a paved area and there is low-lighting and plenty of graves from centuries ago, hence it is recommended to visit the area only in the daytime.

Longmen Grottoes

images sources: uwe fischer, miss mita, jackal1

These caves are the most impressive collection of Chinese art dating from 316 to 907 CE, representing the pinnacle of stone carving in China. The Longmen Grottoes, the Mogao Caves and the Yungang Grottoes consist of hundreds of caves, several with statues of Buddha. The majority of the rock-architecture was built during 460-525 AD.


images sources: subcomandanta, herr hartman, ternua, eileen delhi, mrflip, ctsnow, aluka digital library

Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and is "a center of pilgrimage for much of the country."This pastoral city is known around the globe for its monolithic churches which play an imperative part in the history of rock-cut architecture. Most of these structures are thought to have been constructed around the 12th and 13th centuries.

Elephanta Caves

image sources: analogian, jonhurd

The Elephant caves date back to 600 AD and are located on Gharapuri Island, which was renamed Elephanta Island by the Portuguese. It is located in the Mumbai harbor off the coast. The Shiva cult that inspired this temple demanded silence and somberness therefore; the caves were a place of reverence in the middle of the vast ocean. Today, this site is a principal tourist attraction associated with small businesses.


image sources: dachalan, jungle boy, marielito

Aksaray, Turkey contains several underground cities, largely used by early Christians as hiding places before they became a justifiable religion. "These rock-cut buildings and churches were built over a span of hundreds of years prior to the 5th century CE." The emphasis of the structures was largely put on the interiors rather than the exteriors.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Archeology in Turkey

They call it the "place where ghosts don't jump". The location where many sea-vessels met their demise, hitting the inner banks of rigid rock formations. The steepest theater in the World, causing theater guests to hold on to their seats instead of each other.

5th Century Shipwreck

In 1999, the INA formed a Nautical Archeological Team to investigate the remains of a 5th century B.C. shipwreck located off the coast of the Aegean Coast of Turkey in Tektas, Burna. The excavation was lead by Nautical Archeologist and Director George Bass and Assistant Director Deborah Carlson from Texas A & M, with the assistance of a brilliant team of volunteers from Turkey, the U.S., Canada, Spain, the U.K., Australia, Holland, and Israel.

Tektas, Burna


The initial excavation of the wreck was grueling due to the team leader obtaining special permission and licensing to bring the remains of the wreck to the surface. It took quite a while and during the lapse of time, the volunteers tried to keep themselves busy by building living quarters fully equipped with an air conditioned bathroom and bedrooms, which were supremely decorated with fly strips.

After weeks of hard work creating time stamps and investigating, the team determined that the ship had been carrying a large shipment of wine, glass jars, pottery, and amphora's. "An Amphora is simply a ceramic vase with two handles and a long neck narrower than the body."

An example of an "Amphora"

Image Source

A volunteer aboard the ship discovered a drinking cup that was preserved in its original condition within another Tupperware like container. In the eyes of an Archeologist, the best kinds of finds are the ones that present a hundred treasures neatly packed into one little box.

"Remains of the ship also included a pair of marble ophthalmoi– the only ones ever found in association with an ancient vessel – and the earliest securely dated examples of lead-filled anchor stocks."

This Classical shipwreck was the first to be entirely excavated in Aegean waters. This incredible archeological find sheds light on local trade and economic order when "Athens is thought to have dominated maritime commerce in the Aegean."

Note: Tektas is known to be a very inhospitable location, so there is little photographic evidence of its sites and history.

Temple of Trajan


The Temple of Trajan in Akropolis, Bergam, was built in the 2nd century by Hadrian , son of Trajan. The temple's dedicatory inscription survives in the Vatican Museums and the granite and marble columns are still found standing in their original places. The Temple was said to have an enormous portico, much like the Temple of Hadrian,



The Asklepion was a revolutionary medical facility built in honor of Asklepios, the god of healing. It was also the world's first psychiatric hospital. Asklepion acted more along the lines of a day spa, tending to the gladiators, providing deep tissue massage, mud baths and warm Turkish bathing holes.

The Theater of Pergamum


Pergamum, built in the 3rd century, is known to be the steepest theater in the world, and has a seating capacity of 10,000. "There is a 246.5 m long and approximately 16 m wide stoa (portico) in front of the theater."

What's your favorite site in Turkey?

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