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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Archaeology News: January 4, 2012

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology on the Penn campus in Philadelphia dates its official founding to December 6, 1887. On that date, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania resolved to send “an exploring expedition to Babylonia”—with the stipulation that the University would build “suitable accommodations” to house any artifacts that the first expedition team, and others, would bring back.

A 400-year-old metallurgical furnace and irons for printing cylinder seals, discovered in Russia for the first time, are unique finds for Russian archaeologists in 2011. Archaeologists are convinced that these artifacts, which help us to understand life in Russia in the olden days, are interesting to everyone and not only to experts.

When two hikers came across a human corpse in the Ötztal Alps 20 years ago, speculation raged over the age of the body, and the life and death of the man who became known as Ötzi – the name coined by an Austrian journalist. The oldest, most well-preserved, frozen Neolithic mummy soon became a world sensation. Francesca Vella recently visited the special exhibition ‘Ötzi20 – Life. Science. Fiction. Reality’ at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy, which was set up to mark the 20th anniversary of the discovery and which has been extended by a year

A Roman coin that was probably used by a lustful legionary has washed up on the banks of the Thames. Made from bronze and smaller than a ten pence piece, the coin depicts a man and a woman engaged in an intimate act.

"Before, China had a large number of valuable ancient tombs and although it was really depressing to see a tomb raided, it was still possible to run into a similar one in the future, said Professor Wei Zheng, an archaeologist at Peking University. "Nowadays too many have been destroyed. Once one is raided, It is really difficult to find a similar one.

Jerusalem archaeologist Gabriel Barkay announced this week that the Temple Mount Sifting Project has discovered a fragment of a seventh-century B.C.E. clay bulla impressed with the ancient Hebrew inscription [g]b’n lmlk, or “Gibeon, for the king.”

A farmer living near Vietnam’s Ru Than Mountain uncovered a bronze drum decorated with scenes from daily life. The drum is estimated to be between 2,000 and 3,000 years old.

Two teams of Michigan State University researchers -- one working at a medieval burial site in Albania, the other at a DNA lab in East Lansing -- have shown how modern science can unlock the mysteries of the past. The scientists are the first to confirm the existence of brucellosis, an infectious disease still prevalent today, in ancient skeletal remains.

The Bulgarian Government is to give 120 000 leva (about 60 000 euro) each to 14 archaeology sites along the country’s Black Sea coast for "preliminary research" into archaeological sites, it was announced on January 4 2012.

The discovery of a Stone Age temple on Orkney looks set to rewrite the archaeological records of ancient Britain with evidence emerging it was built centuries before Stonehenge.

One hundred forty-six years ago today, a violent storm lashed the Tampa Bay area, imperiling two U.S. Navy warships — tugboats with cannons — that had seen Civil War action in the Gulf of Mexico and were headed for peacetime duty after the war ended. One survived the storm. The other, the USS Narcissus, which had participated in the Battle of Mobile Bay, been sunk and refloated, did not. It ran aground on a shoal northwest of Egmont Key and sank in 15 feet of water after its boiler exploded. No one survived.


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