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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Round Up: Top Archaeology and Anthropology News 2/6/2011

Put those bones back! Future of archaeology threatened by law forcing scientists to rebury ancient remainsA controversial law that requires all human remains unearthed at ancient settlements to be reburied within two years threatens the future of archaeology, it is claimed today.
Under legislation introduced in 2008, bones and skulls found at sites in England and Wales, such as Stonehenge, have to be put back where they were found after 24 months.

A group of leading archaeologists has written to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke to protest that this will vastly diminish their ability to research the history of humans in Britain.


Giant archaeological trove found in Google Earth

Almost two thousand potential archaeological sites in Saudi Arabia have been discovered from an office chair in Perth, Australia, thanks to high-resolution satellite images from Google Earth.

"I've never been to Saudi Arabia," says David Kennedy from the University of Western Australia, Australia. "It's not the easiest country to break into."
Instead Kennedy scanned 1240 square kilometres in Saudi Arabia using Google Earth. From their birds-eye view he found 1977 potential archaeological sites, including 1082 "pendants" - ancient tear-drop shaped tombs made of stone.

~Archaeology Daily

State of Egyptian Antiquities

Today is a new day, but there are still marches in the streets of Cairo. I am personally very sad for my country. I cannot believe the devastation that has happened in the streets, and that so much has stopped in the last 11 days. We have lost so much, and I do not
understand how this could be. It is like a dream for me.

I have come into this new position at a very critical time, but the most important thing about this is that for the first time in history Egypt has a Ministry of Antiquities. The reason that this has never happened before was because archaeology was considered a minor thing. Previously, the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) had fallen under the ministries of education, tourism, and, most recently, culture. Now, I am happy to say that there is a Ministry of Antiquities that is separate from the Ministry of Culture.


Tourists find new petroglyph in USVI National Park
Archaeologists say two participants in a petroglyph seminar at the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park have come across the first newly discovered rock carving there since the 1970s.

The carving looks like a spearhead or an elongated leaf. Park archaeologist Ken Wild says the design is different from others on St. John island. "It's the type that's seen in Venezuela or St. Lucia" across the Caribbean.

Rock carvings dot the island and the park's website says they were probably carved by the Indian cultures that lived on the island from about 840 B.C. until the arrival of Europeans brought disease and subjugation that exterminated the native peoples.
Wild said Friday that the petroglyph was found last month.

14 Intact Pre-Columbian Tombs, Temple Found in Northern Peru

An important religious temple of the Mochica culture, along with a group of tombs from all the cultures that inhabited the northern coast of Peru from 1,500 B.C. until the Spanish conquest, have recently been discovered in the Lambayeque region of Peru’s north coast.
Edgar Bracamonte, the archaeologist heading the project, told Efe Thursday that the discoveries indicate that the region, famous for the discovery of the magnificent tomb of the Lord of Sipan – considered the Tutankhamun of America – has many more surprises in store.

Work began on the Santa Rosa pre-Colombian tomb last November as part of a series of projects that include new explorations but also entail work to protect the archaeological sites from the weather and to prevent looting by tomb raiders.

~Latin American Herald Tribune

Archaeological dig finds historical chess pieces

Presidents James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, who shared interests in education, architecture and politics, loved to match wits.
Often, the architect of the Bill of Rights and the author of the Declaration of Independence dueled over a chess board.

And now, archaeologists at Madison's home in Orange County say they've unearthed fragments of a chess set they think Madison used when playing his friend from neighboring Albemarle County.

Archaeologists recently found fragments of two pawns while investigating part of Madison's Montpelier estate. Initially, they thought the pieces' quarter-inch tops were sewing bobbins, but then figured out they were shards of chessmen.

Matthew Reeves, director of archaeology at the 2,650-acre estate, called the pieces "a treasure from the past reflecting James Madison's intellectual pursuits and social life."

Ruins of wooden Great Wall discovered in NE China

Archaeologists have identified the dilapidated walls in northeast China to be the remains of the "Wooden" Great Wall, breaking the stereotype that the landmark wall of China was only made of stone and earthen bricks.

Some willow fences, found in the mountainous areas of Dandong City, Liaoning Province, helped corroborate the existence of the "Wooden Great Wall", which is mentioned in ancient history books, according to a report jointly released by Liaoning Culture Relics Bureau and Liaoning Bureau of Surveying and Mapping.

The willow fences were built upon the remains of the oak walls in the Qing Dynasty (A.D. 1636 - 1911), after the wooden structures corroded and collapsed, said the report.


U.S. Silk Road show to open without Chinese artifacts

The University of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology said Chinese officials had withdrawn about 100 artifacts and two mummies from the "Secrets of the Silk Road" exhibition, which opens on Saturday and will run until June 5.

The exhibit will include text, images, sound, maps, a recreated excavation site and photographs of the withdrawn items.
The show "has been modified ... at the request of Chinese officials," the museum said in a statement.

Architect unveils ‘pyramid’s secret rooms’

A French architect, who is campaigning for a new exploration of the Great Pyramid of Giza, claims to discovered the existence of two previously unsuspected rooms, antechambers next to the final resting place of the Pharoah Khufu where items like a bed, table and chairs would be placed for the dead leader to use in the afterlife.

Archaeology: a load of old rubbish?

As an academic discipline, rather than in popular culture, archaeology finds it rather more difficult to justify itself in these days of university impact statements and funding cuts.
Within archaeology debates rage between those unhappy with the rigid but human-centred scientific approach of the 'New Archaeology' of the 1960s ('archaeology is anthropology or it is nothing') and postmodernists who stress the role of interpretation over process, culturally-sensitive self-reflexivity over impartiality.

Ancient Heritage and Archaeology of the Sperrins

A wonderful video explaining the hidden gems of the Sperrins Region, which include a visit to Beaghmore Stone Circles in the Cookstown District.


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