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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mummy's Hairstyle from Roman-ruled Egypt is Recreated


© Victoria Lywood
CT scans of the mummy of a young woman in McGill University’s Redpath Museum have allowed researchers to recreate a hairstyle that was popular in Roman-ruled Egypt, nearly 2,000 years ago.

“The mummy's hair is readily appreciable,” wrote the team in a recently published paper, “with longer strands at the middle of the scalp drawn back into twists or plaits that were then wound into a tutulus, or chignon at the vertex (crown) of the head.”

The researchers also studied two other Egyptian mummies from the museum, one of an older woman who lived at the same time as the well-coiffed mummy, and the other of a young man who lived a few centuries earlier. Both had severe dental problems.

Source: Archaeology.org

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Skulls of human sacrifice victims discovered in Mexico


An excavation in Mexico has led to the discovery of troves of human skulls. Archaeologists believe that the skulls come from the largest mass human sacrifice unearthed yet in ancient Meso-America.

The study, published in the journal Latin American Antiquity, describes the surprising finding. The skulls were found miles from the nearest study in what used to be a body of water called Lake Xaltocan but now simply contains an empty field. The location was so unassuming that researchers had not even immediately thought to look there; they discovered the site when they stumbled upon evidence of looting when viewing satellite images of ancient canals, irrigation channels and lakes that would have surrounded the ancient Teotihuacan kingdom, according to LiveScience.

Upon investigation, the archaeologists discovered over 150 human skulls that were attached to one or two vertebra. The location also held a shrine, which contained incense burners, deity figurines and pottery that indicated a ritual linked with local agriculture. Through carbon dating, researchers have found that the skulls were a minimum of 1,100 years old and, of the dozens of skulls that have been tested so far, the majority belonged to men.

Because most of the skulls belonged to men, researchers believe that they were carefully chosen, rather than the result of indiscriminate slaughter of a village. However, that determination shakes up previously held assumptions about human sacrifice in the region. While several cultures in Meso-America, including the Teotihuacan kingdom, participated in human sacrifice, they mostly occurred at large urban pyramids and were connected to state power - a far cry from this mass human sacrifice that would have taken place in a rural area.

Researchers believe that a drought caused the end of the Teotihuacan kingdom, which led to a period of bloody war and political infighting among several regional groups.

Source: Medical Daily

Monday, January 28, 2013

Battle of Cape Passaro Cannons Discovered Off Coast of Siciliy


Marine archaeologists working on a wreck off the coast of Sicily have discovered five large cannon from a British ship, believed to have sunk in a major battle with Spanish galleons.

The team searching waters near the city of Syracuse said the "exceptional" find dates back to the Battle of Cape Passaro in the early 1700s.

Pictures taken by divers show the cannon were barely covered by sand. The discovery has helped pinpoint the exact location of the famous battle.

The cannon have now been brought to the surface - after 300 years in the deep sea - and cleaned.

According to the archaeologists, they are in such fine condition that - in some places - the barrels still gleam in the light.

The team said they were able to identify the guns using part of an inscription on the handle of a piece of cutlery also discovered nearby.

The letters LONDO were found under what appeared to be a picture of an English rose, clearly indicating the word London - they said.

This and other evidence has convinced the researchers that the cannon came from a British vessel sunk at the Battle of Cape Passaro in 1718.

The battle involved more than 60 ships and ended in defeat for the Spanish.

At the time, the British were attempting to drive them out of Sicily.

Source: BBC News

Thursday, January 24, 2013

DNA shows ancient humans related to Asians and Native Americans


Early DNA has revealed that humans living some 40,000 years ago in an area near Beijing were likely related to many present-day Asians and Native Americans.

An international team of researchers including Svante Paabo and Qiaomei Fu of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, sequenced nuclear and mitochondrial DNA that had been extracted from the leg of an early modern human from Tianyuan Cave near Beijing, China.

Analyses of this individual’s DNA showed that the Tianyuan human shared a common origin with the ancestors of many present-day Asians and Native Americans.

In addition, the researchers found that the proportion of Neanderthal and Denisovan-DNA in this early modern human is not higher than in people living in this region nowadays.

Humans with morphology similar to present-day humans appear in the fossil record across Eurasia between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago.

The genetic relationships between these early modern humans and present-day human populations had not yet been established. Qiaomei Fu, Matthias Meyer and colleagues of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, extracted nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from a 40,000 year old leg bone found in 2003 at the Tianyuan Cave site located outside Beijing.

For their study the researchers were using new techniques that can identify ancient genetic material from an archaeological find even when large quantities of DNA from soil bacteria are present.

The researchers then reconstructed a genetic profile of the leg’s owner.

“This individual lived during an important evolutionary transition when early modern humans, who shared certain features with earlier forms such as Neanderthals, were replacing Neanderthals and Denisovans, who later became extinct,” study leader Svante Paabo said.

The genetic profile reveals that this early modern human was related to the ancestors of many present-day Asians and Native Americans but had already diverged genetically from the ancestors of present-day Europeans.

In addition, the Tianyuan individual did not carry a larger proportion of Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA than present-day people in the region.

“More analyses of additional early modern humans across Eurasia will further refine our understanding of when and how modern humans spread across Europe and Asia,” Svante Paabo added.

Source: DNA India

Monday, January 21, 2013

Site Seeing Exhibit Draws Crowds at the University of Oregon’s Museum of National and Cultural History


A new exhibit at the University of Oregon’s Museum of National and Cultural History — “Site Seeing: Snapshots of Historical Archaeology in Oregon” — proves that the past doesn’t have to be ancient to be fascinating.

Take the Stevens family cemetery, discovered five years ago when a heavy-equipment operator named Erica French — she’s now considered a “heritage hero” by the state of Oregon — turned up some bones as she worked on the construction site of the Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, along the McKenzie River in north Springfield.

French alerted her employer, the Wildish Co., which notified PeaceHealth, owner of the construction site, which contacted the state, which called in the UO archaeologists to examine the site.

They found the remains of the family’s burial ground, which originally contained 12 bodies — including those of patriarch William Stevens and his wife, Hixey Jones Stevens — although eight had been removed to a different cemetery around the turn of the last century, after the Stevens family donation land claim was sold.

The four remaining graves — p­erhap­s left behind because they were not members of the Stevens family — contained an adult male and three children estimated to be an infant, a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old.

The other three sections of the exhibit illuminate different and perhaps less well-known aspects of Oregon’s cultural history.

“Jacksonville and Kam Wah Chung” looks at the experience of Chinese laborers who trekked to Oregon by the thousands after the California Gold Rush expanded to include the gold country of Southern Oregon.

Upon arrival, they found that they were excluded from owning their own mining claims but were welcome to work in the mines, or as fisherman or on road or railroad construction.

The “Portland Privy” exhibit takes a different sort of look at the way people lived in different parts of the city, by recapturing artifacts discarded in outdoor toilets that doubled as personal landfills for used-up items or belongings no longer wanted when people moved to a new neighborhood.

Similarly, the “Beatty Curve” aims to recapture the lifestyle of people living in a cabin in the Klamath River Basin. Its occupants may have been Native Americans caught between their own and European culture during the era when federal policy pursued forced assimilation of tribal members.

UO archaeologists have been involved in nearly two dozen excavations around the state, but these four were chosen for an initial exhibit “based on how interesting the artifacts are and giving an idea of the breadth of cultural history in the state,” museum exhibit coordinator Ann Craig said.

“We wanted to include Native voices and also show the importance of the Chinese experience in our state’s history, which many people may not be so familiar with.”

There will be a free reception, attended by the archaeologists from the projects, on Friday. The exhibit will be up for the rest of the year. Possibilities for future archaeology exhibits include exploration of mining, logging and farming cultures, Craig said.

She was surprised by several things as the new exhibit was put together, such as learning more about the influx of the Chinese population in the mid-1800s.

“The Chinese people who came were almost all men — most of them did not start families here and apparently did not intend to stay their whole lives,” Craig said.

“But many of them died here, and it’s possible that many of their families never knew what had happened to them.”

The new exhibit explores two aspects of Chinese culture, one based on the lifestyle of working men in the Chinese quarter of Jacksonville and the other on the contents of a Chinese-run general store in John Day.

Patricia Konova, a UO sophomore with majors in history and Chinese language, took in the exhibit on Friday, its opening day. “It doesn’t take up much space, but it packs in a lot of information,” she said.

A couple perusing the exhibit hovered around the Beatty Curve section, which Craig also finds interesting because of its mystery.

“Cabins like this were built in this area — which had been inhabited by Native Americans for 10,000 years — by the Indian Agency to try to force them to take on Euro-American ways,” she said. “This particular cabin definitely has signs of both cultures in it.”

It may be that the Native American inhabitants outwardly exhibited white culture while secretly holding onto their traditional ways, Craig said. “The archaeologists found pieces of obsidian — called tinklers and used by Native Americans on their regalia — hidden under the floor in a leather sack.”

In terms of number of artifacts, the Stevens Cemetery exhibit has relatively few, but it nonetheless sheds much light on who may have been the original white residents in what is now Springfield.

After filing his land claim in October 1847, according to the “Illustrated History of Lane County, Oregon,” published by A. G. Walling in Portland in 1884, William Stevens “commenced the erection of a house in December 1847, the rest of his family joining him on Christmas Day of that year.

“This was the first house erected in what is known as the Forks of the Willamette, the timber used in its construction being the first cut by a white man in that vicinity,” Walling wrote.

Descendants of the Stevens family still live in the area and loaned the museum a copy of the family Bible in which the names of William and Hixey Stevens and their descendants are recorded, Craig said.

The most poignant of artifacts also may belong to the Stevens Cemetery portion of the exhibit. A small silver ring found in the empty burial site No. 8 could have been worn to the grave by 5-year-old Mandely Stevens, who once occupied that plot.

And it’s possible that the infant and 4-year-old found in the cemetery may have been buried in shrouds instead of clothing, because only straight pins — no buttons — were found in their graves, No. 2 and No.

Source: Register Guard

Archaeology Event at Campus Martius Museum


I'm a Buckeye at heart so I had to share. It's important to share what's going in the smaller community museums as well as the world.

The Campus Martius Museum was filled on Saturday with people wanting to learn the history of the Mid-Ohio Valley through the "Digging the Past," an archaeology-centric event.

"I am a wannabe archaeologist and I love being part of things like this," said Jerrel Anderson, of Vienna.

The retired research scientist for DuPont worked on a number of research archaeology digs in Wood County for his job and brought a number of artifacts from a couple of sites, including in the Marrtown area and near the Memorial Bridge.

Archaeologists Annette Erickson, director of Archaeology Studies at Hocking College, and Stephen House speak with amateur archaeologist Jerrel Anderson, of Vienna, on Saturday in the main room of Campus Martius Museum during the “Digging the Past” Archaeology Day.

"I will be working this summer doing an archaeological dig on Blennerhassett Island with geophysical surveys and things," Anderson said. "It is exciting and I look forward to looking through the island because I'm sure there is a treasure trove of things yet to be found."

Along with a display of colorful Flint Ridge flint, the museum also hosted flintknappers and an identification clinic from the Ohio Historical Society.

Bill Reynolds, organizer of the event and historian at the museum, said he was pleased with the event.

"We have many ages of history on display here," he said. "We have items from prehistory and objects all the way to the Civil War, which is a long span."

The prehistoric items, such as arrowheads, are as old as 9,500 years while other items include pottery that dates a little more than a century.

"This is a great program that I think we need more of in this area," said Brian Kesterson, of Parkersburg, who had an extensive display of Civil War artifacts related to the local area from his collection.

Many of Kesterson's items came from the Fort Boreman area and included bullets, buttons and other items.

"There are historic items around us every day and people should have a knowledge of what they are looking at and how to find it," Kesterson said. "Living in the Mid-Ohio Valley, many of us could find artifacts in our back yards, if we knew what we were holding in our hands."

During the event, speakers included retired Ohio Department of Transportation archaeologist Wes Clark who spoke about the Temples at Ankor Wat, Cambodia, and in Thailand; Bill Pickard with the OHS who talked about Fort Laurens, Ohio's only Revolutionary War fort; Annette G. Erickson, director of Archaeology Studies at Hocking College, who talked about being an archaeologist and opportunities within the field; and Reynolds discussed the Deming site with a study of the material culture of the New England family from 1796 through 1890.

"Everything in this museum is a part of our history," Reynolds said. "It is all around us and is part of our everyday culture; to know that there were people living here thousands of years before we were even thought of is amazing and through the items they left behind, we can get a glimpse of the daily lives of people long gone."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Shaman Stones Uncovered in Panama


Archaeologists have unearthed nearly 5,000-year-old shaman's stones in a rock shelter in Panama. The stone collection may be the earliest evidence of shamanic rituals in that region of Central America, researchers say.

The 12 stones were found in the Casita de Piedra rock shelter, in the Isthmus of Panama. The rocks, which carbon-dating of surrounding material showed to be between 4,000 and 4,800 years old, were clustered in a tight pile. That suggests they had been carried there, likely in a leather pouch that has long-since disintegrated, said study co-author, Ruth Dickau, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter, in an email.

"If our interpretation is correct, it constitutes the earliest material evidence in lower Central America of shamanistic practice," the authors wrote in the article.

The findings were published online Dec. 27 in the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

The Pre-Columbian rock shelter was first discovered in the 1970s, and was initially thought to have been used by people since about 6,500 years ago. In 2006 Dickau reanalyzed the shelter and found that people had used the shady nook for cooking and tool-making for over 9,000 years. During the excavations, she also uncovered the mysterious cache of stones. [In Photos: Amazing Ruins of the Ancient World]

The collection, which included translucent quartz, pyrite, magnetic rocks and bladed tools, was likely used in shamanic rituals because of how closely together they were packed, Dickau told LiveScience. Some of the rocks contained grains of iron called magnetite, and showed magnetic properties by deflecting a compass needle. In addition, the stone types themselves don't come from the rock shelter, but were historically used in shamanic rituals throughout the region.

The stones came from a distant, gold-rich region of Panama called the Central Cordillera up to 3,000 years before mining of the precious metal began, said study co-author and consulting geologist Stewart Redwood in a statement.

"However, there are no gold artifacts in the rock shelter, and there's no evidence that the stones were collected in the course of gold prospecting as the age of the cache pre-dates the earliest known gold artifacts from Panama by more than 2,000 years," Redwood said in a statement.

The shaman who once used these rocks probably belonged to an indigenous culture that lived off maize, manioc and wild tubers. But the story of the rocks themselves may remain an enigma.

"We will never be entirely sure how the ancient people used the stones in the past," Dickau wrote.

Modern-day practices, however, can provide some clues. Even today, indigenous shamans in Costa Rica will chant, sing and blow tobacco smoke over stones to communicate with otherworldly spirits or diagnose illnesses, she wrote. The stones' movement in the shaman's hands are taken as responses to questions. In addition, in indigenous myths and stories in the region, crystals are linked to transformative experiences.

Source: Live Science

Monday, January 14, 2013

Traces of Erotic Frescos Found in Colosseum


"We have found traces of erotic decorations in blue, red and green," Rossella Rea, director of the 2000-year-old amphitheatre, said.

The fragments "seem to depict the glory of the gladiator world, with laurels, arrows, victory wreaths and even erotic scenes," the Repubblica newspaper said.

The frescoes were found in a corridor currently closed to the public while archaeologists were working to restore an area between the second and third floor of the Colosseum, which has fallen into disrepair in recent years.

"We have also found writing dating back to the 17th century as well as the signatures of spectators and foreign visitors" who had come to watch the Colosseum's famed gladiatorial contests and mock sea battles, Rea said.

"We hope to be able to find other traces in this corridor but that depends on the funds available to continue with the restoration," she added.

The frescoes are located in an area covering several square feet in a corridor which is around sixty metres long, and should be open to the public by summer 2014, Rea said.

The Colosseum, which was completed in 80 AD by the Roman emperor Titus and is now one of the most visited sites in the world, is in a pitiful state.

Bits of stone, blackened by pollution, have fallen off in previous years, and some experts have voiced concern that the foundations are sinking, giving the amphitheatre a lean.

The number of visitors to the Colosseum, which measures 188 metres by 156 metres and is 48.5 metres high, has increased from a million to around six million a year over the past decade thanks mainly to the blockbuster film Gladiator.

Source: AFP

Friday, January 11, 2013

3000 Year Old Tombs Discovered Beneath Temple of King Amenhotep II


Egypt's Antiquities Minister says Italian archaeologists have unearthed tombs over 3,000 years old in the ancient city of Luxor.

Mohammed Ibrahim says the discovery was made beneath the mortuary temple of King Amenhotep II, seventh Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty who reigned from 1427 to 1401 B.C. The temple is located on the western bank of the Nile.

Ibrahim says remains of wooden sarcophaguses and human bones were found inside the tombs.

Mansour Barek, head of Luxor antiquities, says jars used to preserve the liver, lungs, stomach and intestines of the deceased were found. They were decorated with images of the four sons of the god Horus — figures seen as essential by ancient Egyptians to help the soul of the deceased find its way to heaven.

Source: The Associated Press

Twitter Users Speak out: 21 Items Archaeologists Can't Live Without on a Dig


Ancient Digger's Twitter followers are the best. Leave it to them to come up with some funny and completely accurate items that archaeologists can not live without on dig.

As for me, I had a hard time deciding.  I like a good bandanna and comfortable shoes. I have these awesome Columbia hiking shoes that are great in the dirt, but what else?

Ok, so, have you seen my hair? It's like Repunzel length, so I would have to say 20 bobby pins, a good hair tie, and maybe some mascara. Yes I said it, mascara. There's no reason to go into the field not looking your best, lol! I like being dirty, but I like being pretty while I'm getting dirty. That sounded dirty, lol.

  1. Patience! @Rockhunter710 , Team Hartman
  2. Handkerchiefs to their noses filled with earth ... iughhhhhhhhh!!! :P #archaeology. @zoraxhm
  3. Good Scotch  @AinslieCogswell
  4. Sharpies, trowels, and toilet paper @kbiittner 
  5. On a scorching, hot, summers day, gotta have water in a trench!... I always miss post holes without :( haha! @willsmith700
  6. I'm ok with Sharpies, but tape measures! The ability they have to vanish has left me baffled for years! @willsmith700
  7. Thermos of whisk- uh, coffee. @AccessArtefacts 
  8. A nearby pub!! ;) @xCharliBobx
  9. Comfortable shoes, a pen that isn't clogged up with dust/mud, some filthy jokes, a perfectly vertical baulk wall. @lshipley805
  10. A spray bottle with water is a must have for wall profiles (esp in rock shelters with low light) @kbiittner 
  11. Mascara. I like being dirty, but I like being pretty while I'm getting dirty. @Ancientdigger
  12. Well tea at a push but obviously a glass or three of real ale would be better , but LOTS of cake naturally :) @tesschwarz
  13. A sense of history, a feeling of déjà vu. @thampuran
  14. Pants! Also, brambles. Shorts won't hack it.! @processarch
  15. Kneepads and insect repellant. @SusanLlewellyn
  16. A sense of humor!! @thetimetribe 
  17. Change of underwear, maybe ten
  18. A sports bra. Gotta keep these babies in tact!
  19. Sunscreen or Banana boat Oil. Choose your poison!
  20. A knife. You'd be surprised how often we can't find one. ‏@JRyme
  21. My Marshalltown of course.


So what is that you as an archaeologist can't live without on a dig? Even if you're not an archaeologist, what do you think they can't live without?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

10,000 Year Old Neolithic Floor Discovered


An Ancient floor which has not seen the light of day for 10,000 years has been uncovered at the Ayia Varvara-Asprokremmos site, the antiquities department said yesterday.

The department said new finds during the latest excavations had redefined the understanding of the kind of human occupation that existed at the Neolithic site in the Nicosia district, which has been radio-carbon dated to between c. 8,800-8,600 BC.

The excavations took place in November 2012 and were run by Dr Carole McCartney on behalf of the University of Cyprus working in partnership with Cornell University and the University of Toronto.

According to an announcement, the floor which “was exposed for the first time in 10,000 years” exhibited a dished form, raised above the central area providing a rough bench that ran along the circumference of the interior wall.

The floor was made of trampled mud, refreshed by erosional washed sediments that appear to have collected during short term (perhaps seasonal) abandonment events.

“As seen in the northern side of the feature, ash heaps and stone tools were stratified in a sequence of repeated use events,” the department said.

The presence of buried artefacts (usable, but abandoned) and evidence of erosional episodes indicated the punctuated character of the structure’s occupation, while the nature of the artefacts demonstrated the domestic character of the building, it added.

Constructional features illustrated the significant degree of investment given to the building, including the deeply dished form of the building dug into bedrock and a 10-15 cm thick wall lining.

The department said the latter exhibited significant evidence of burning and was likely constructed of an organic super-structure of branches cemented in place by mud plaster.

It said the finds suggested a decline in the investment applied to the construction of shelters utilised at the site, and a shift towards a more temporary architectural form during later phases of occupation. A large carefully engraved teardrop-shaped picrolite pendant, representing a more developed form of ornament than those recovered previously, was also recovered.

Renewed excavation in another area of the site uncovered a unique arrangement of chalk slabs encircling a large hearth-like setting of burnt stone.

“This provides important information regarding the activities conducted at the site,” said the department, adding that the indications were the site may have been used for the tanning of animal, and specifically pig, skins as multi-coloured pigments, including red, yellow, orange, purple and grey ochre as well as bright green, terra verde, were found.

Source: Cypress Mail

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Augustan-era Sculptures Discovered by Archaeologists


Archaeologists say they've uncovered an "exceptional" group of sculptures dating to the 1st century BC in a villa in Rome's suburb of Ciampino.

The sculptures, found in an ancient villa owned by Roman general Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus, a patron of the poet Ovid, tell the myth of Niobe, the proud daughter of Tantalus who lost all her 14 children after boasting to the mother of Apollo and Artemis, Leto, about her fertility.

Niobe, regarded as a classic example of the retribution caused by the sin of pride or hubris, was turned to stone. Excavations at the villa have also revealed a thermal bath area with fragments of artistic mosaics and a swimming pool as long as 20 meters with walls painted blue.

Inside the bath area were found seven sculptures dating to the Augustan age, as well as a complete series of fragments that experts say can be reassembled. The group tells the story of Niobe, which figured in Ovid's epic poem of transformation, the Metamorphoses, published in AD 8. La Repubblica newspaper said Tuesday a team of archaeologists made the valuable discovery last summer.

"Statues of Niobe have been found in the past, but in the case of Ciampino, we have a good part of the group," of statues, said Elena Calandra, superintendent of archaeological heritage.

According to their reconstruction of the bath area, experts say the statues were carved on all four sides of the swimming pool, which may have been buried by an earthquake in the 2nd century AD.

Source: Gazzetta del Sud

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Rare Vase Discovered in Antique Store


(AP Photo/Interior Ministry)
The owner of an antique shop in Spain was arrested after police investigators found a vase there dating back to the late second century B.C., officials said Saturday.

The antiquity had been illegally plundered from an Iberian era archeological site in the province of Alicante, an Interior Ministry statement said.

Inspectors found it in a cardboard box during a routine search of the shop in the eastern town of El Campello.

"We are not yet aware of the full importance of this discovery, but in 20 years' time we will still be talking about this vase," said Jose Luis Simon, an expert from the cultural heritage service of the Ministry of Culture.

Simon said the piece showed decorative paintwork from the Iberian era that tells the story of a hunter who had managed to kill a wild boar, one of the rituals of the time that proved a youth had attained the status of manhood.

He said that while fragments of vases from this antiquity exist in Spain, this was the first to be found whole, making it "of exceptional value."

Simon said the hunting sequences showed similarities to some found on an ancient Greek vase, known as a crater, in the Vatican museum in Rome.

The Interior Ministry said the inspectors who opened the cardboard box knew right away they were dealing with something out of the ordinary and requested technical backup.

"The technicians did not take long to arrive and issue a report confirming the vase's originality," Simon said.

He said it has been moved to the Alicante Archeological Museum for safekeeping.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Maya 'fat god' platter discovered in ruins


An international archaeology team, for example, reports that a well-known Maya ruin site had its origins further back in time than anyone first supposed. Nestled in the hilly interior of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the ruin of Kiuic turns out to boast a pyramid of surprising antiquity, dating back to 700 B.C., as shown by carbon dating. Long seen as a transitional corridor between the ancient Maya cities of Central America and the later ones of the Yucatan coast, the hilly "Puuc" region that is home to Kiuic and other sites, instead, looks like a longtime home of the vanished culture.

"They were living here going way back," says archaeologist George Bey of Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. The pyramid was discovered long ago, with writer John Lloyd Stephens visiting Kiuic's ruins in the 1840s, and dates to after 800 A.D., when the site was thriving. But now excavation to the foot of a four-story pyramid in the center of the ruin has helped pin down its birth date, showing it started out as a ceremonial platform, as was typical of ancient Maya towns and cities.

In 2010, Bey and Mexican archaeologist Tomás Gallareta Negrón of INAH reported that artifacts left at Kiuic indicated the site had undergone rapid abandonment around 880 A.D., part of the famed collapse of ancient Maya cities at the time. More than 6 million Maya still live in Central America today, but the rulers and the pyramid cities of the era were abandoned in a diaspora that modern-day scholars have tied to long-term drought, over-farming and other factors.

At one of the houses showing signs of rapid abandonment on a hilltop overlooking Kiuic, the team reports they have found inscriptions on a keystone block as well as the remains of a large feasting bowl left behind, more evidence of rapid flight. Earlier discoveries at the site included grinding stones left tilted against doorways, kitchen implements left stacked in rooms and remains of ancestors left behind that Maya traditions would have typically seen as needing removal if a place faced permanent abandonment. Instead, it looks like the residents just left, expecting to shortly return. But they never did. "These were the Maya middle class, and they were doing well," Bey says.

The three feet of the platter depicted the Maya "fat god," a patron of feasting, appropriately enough, next to tools for applying stucco to homes. Apparently, the heavy feasting platter was too big to take when the homeowner left (sort of like leaving the family silver behind when going on a vacation now), Bey says, but such a valuable object would have been taken if a permanent move were planned.

The team hopes that analysis of the site, slowly being unearthed by archaeologists, provides a time capsule of the time when abandonment took place at Kiuic, and might offer insight into its occurrence elsewhere. Scholars generally divide ancient Maya eras into a Classic one that started after 200 A.D. and a "Pre-Classic" one that dates back to perhaps 900 B.C., but the latest finds point to more continuity between the two eras instead, Bey suggests.

Source: 9 News

Archaeology News: January 7, 2013


Ancient digger brings you latest in archaeology news and discoveries. Here's what's been discovered today JANUARY 7, 2013.

Remains of Göring's first wife Discovered

Swedish scientists have solved the mystery over a a zinc coffin found 21 years ago at the German estate of Hitler's right-hand man, Hermann Göring, by identifying the skeletal remains as those of Göring's first wife Carin.

Ancient manuscripts indicate Jewish community once thrived in Afghanistan

A trove of ancient manuscripts in Hebrew characters rescued from caves in a Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan is providing the first physical evidence of a Jewish community that thrived there a thousand years ago.

On Thursday Israel's National Library unveiled the cache of recently purchased documents that run the gamut of life experiences, including biblical commentaries, personal letters and financial records.

Staffordshire Hoard: 'Opening a window into the Mercian kingdom'

Speculation has already begun about how much 81 newly-discovered pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard will be worth.

The pieces of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver were declared treasure by coroner Andrew Haigh on Friday and will now be valued by the British Museum.

There are two items in the current collection that do not sparkle as much as the others but which could be the most valuable to archaeologists researching the hoard.

Unearthing our Ulster Scots history

The history of Ulster Scots is unearthed in a new television series celebrating the archaeology and history of Northern Ireland’s past.

Ulster Unearthed begins on Monday night with the first in a series six half-hour programmes delving into the history of Ulster Scots links to Northern Ireland.

Using laser technology and state-of-the-art computer imaging, a team of experts explores a variety of local sites and digs across Ulster and reveals exciting new finds.

The Ulster Unearthed series is presented by UTV’s Rita FitzGerald and produced by Televisionary:NI - a new, local independent production company.

'The Tutankhamun dig of aviation': Brits to begin digging up missing Spitfires buried in Burmese jungle

A Lincolnshire farmer who has spent 17 years investigating rumours that dozens of factory-fresh Spitfires could be lying buried under Burmese soil expects to find the aeroplanes “perfectly preserved”.

David Cundall, 62, who has four decades experience excavating military aircraft, set out on an expedition to excavate the first of three possible burial sites this morning.

He expects to find the planes packed up in sealed wooden crates, which he hopes will have protected them from corrosion. A 91-year-old British veteran of the Burma campaign, Stanley Coombe, who says he remembers seeing “double-decker bus-sized crates” being prepared for burial at the end of the war, is accompanying the 21-person expedition team.

World's Oldest Shipwreck Reveals Treasure Trove 

An entire decade of archaeological investigation into what is the world’s oldest known shipwreck has revealed a vast cornucopia of ancient treasures, and the wreck was voted by Scientific American journal to be one of the ten greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century.

Following the chance discovery of the wreck in 1982, archaeological excavations were carried out between 1984 and 1994 by George F. Bass and Cemal Pulak of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. Due to the wreck’s tricky location on a steep rocky slope 50 metres beneath the surface, excavation time for each diver had to be limited to 20 minutes per dive, twice a day. The total number of dives to take place was 22,413.

Dried, hollowed squash Holds Key to Bloodline

Two centuries after the French people beheaded Louis XVI and dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood, scientists believe they have authenticated the remains of one such rag kept as a revolutionary souvenir.

Researchers have been trying for years to verify a claim imprinted on an ornately decorated calabash that it contains a sample of the blood of the French king guillotined in Paris on January 21, 1793.

The dried, hollowed squash is adorned with portraits of revolutionary heroes and the text: "On January 21, Maximilien Bourdaloue dipped his handkerchief in the blood of Louis XVI after his decapitation".

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Torandwar Existed in Sirpur Earlier Than Believed


In a claim that could stroke a debate in archaeology, archaeologists excavating at Sirpur in Chhattisgarh are pointing out that the concept of "Torandwar" in temples existed in primitive forms here in sixth century AD questioning the known history known so far that the concept was first developed in South Indian temples and it later travelled to other places.

"Recent findings in Sirpur is enough to indicate that the idea of 'Torandwar" existed here in the 6th century and it later travelled to South India in the 7th century", octogenarian archaeologist A K Sharma, who is also excavator for the ancient site, told TOI.

He said the known history so far was that 'Torandwar' in temples was developed in South Indian temples, apparently in the 8th century. "Now, there are sufficient evidences, including stone pillars with specific inscriptions, to prove it otherwise," he claimed.

Elaborating his point, Sharma said the 7th century ruler of erstwhile Dakshinkaushal, Mahashivgupta Balarjun, had two wives—Amba Devi from local Chhattisgarh region and Ambaddi Devi, who was a princess from Karnataka region. "People from Ambaddi Devi's region took the concept of 'Torandwar and fortification" to the Southern state of Karnataka," he claimed.

The veteran archaeologist, who has excavated, exposed and conserved 48 mounds ”out of the total 184 mounds spread over in an area of 29.25 square kilometre, said the archaeological findings proved that Sirpur—a little known town in Mahasamund district ”was once the nucleus of culture. It was home for Hindus, Buddhists, Shaivas as well as Jains. Known as the city of wealth from 6th century, Sirpur had a very rich multi-faith culture.

"Even today, there are people who think that Chhattisgarh is a tribal dominated remote area. The archaeological findings and revelations from Sirpur are sufficient to prove that the region was much developed than many other known civilizations from 6th to 10th century," Sharma said adding that the region, however, was destroyed in 12th century AD due to a powerful earthquake with an epicentre somewhere near Amravati in Vidarbha, now in Maharashtra.

Throwing light on other Sirpur findings, Sharma said recovery of 85 bronze statues, raw materials such as ancient ingots and crucibles indicated that the region had one of the biggest stone and metal art centre. Besides, lakhs of pieces of glass and coloured glass bangles were found during excavations indicating that the region was also a fine glass producing centre. "In the sand of river Mahanadi, gold traces are found. The glass produced with gold mixed sand was considered fine," he added.

Source: Times of India

Friday, January 4, 2013

Archaeology News: January 4, 2013


Renowned archaeologist SR Rao passes away

India’s renowned archaeologist and scholar Professor SR Rao passed away on Thursday at his residence in Jaynagar, Bangalore.

Rao had two major path-breaking excavations to his credit, namely the Harappan port of Lothal and the submerged city Dwarka of Lord Krishna.

Dr Rao had carried out excavation work at north Gujarat’s Siddhpur based Rudramahal site amid protests of local Muslims. He had discovered a mandir within the structure of converted mosque.

Source: Niticentral

Bulgarian Archaeologists Discover Greek Temples of Poseidon and Priapus

Archaeologists in Bulgaria have uncovered two temples honoring Gods of Greek mythology, in the Black Sea town of Sozopol. The temples are said to be in honor of the Greek Gods Poseidon and Priapus, and the discovery of an extremely well preserved altar to the Greek god Poseidon has been located.

Archaeologist Todd Surovell to Speak on Photo Research in Mongolia

Archaeologist Todd Surovell, interim director of the Frison Institute of Anthropology at the University of Wyoming, will give a presentation on his ethnoarchaeological project Saturday at the James Lee Community Center.

Surovell is studying the Dukha nomadic reindeer herders of the Khövsgöl Province of Mongolia near the border with Siberia. In the summer of 2012, he mapped people performing their daily activities, an approach that differs from the traditional method of mapping material remains of the archaeological record. For the project, people were photographed from a variety of angles every two minutes for a month, and time-lapse photography and photogrammetry was used to map the spatial distribution of genders, ages, activities, and equipment in exterior spaces.

The talk will take place at the next meeting of the Friends of Fairfax County Archaeology and Cultural Resources, scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Urbanites Room of the James Lee Community Center, 2855 Annandale Road, Falls Church.

Source: Falls Church News Press

Archaeologists rush to save relics in Danjiangkou

Chinese archaeologists are rushing to collect relics in Danjiangkou, an area expected to be cleared and flooded in 2014 to store water for China's massive water-diversion project. The Henan provincial cultural relics bureau said that since an emergency salvage program was launched seven years ago, excavations have been carried out in 123 archeological sites covering 310,000 square meters and 35,000 items have been unearthed.

Source: Global Times

Archaeologists find 800 year old skeletons in Mexico

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico found in the center of the country, skeletons of 13 persons, children and adults, estimated to have lived approximately 800 years ago. The discovery occurred when archaeologists supervised the installation of a new drainage system in Cholula, a town about 120 kilometers from Mexico City, the capital.

Stone Figure: Proof That Christians Influenced Mecca?

A new discovery in Yemen may prove that a Christian church existed there and influenced Mecca around the time of the prophet Muhammad, the Daily Mail reports. Paul Yule, an archaeologist from Germany, found the stone carving of a Christian figure in the city of Zafar and dated it to about 530AD. He says evidence from other sites in Zafar indicate that it was home to a vast Arab tribal confederation that ruled even Mecca, about 581 miles to the north.

Chinese archaeologists excavate 3500 kgs of ancient coins

About 3,500 kilograms of ancient coins dating back to around early first millennia AD have been excavated in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The coins were found in three millennia-old coin pits in the ancient town of Huoluochaideng in Ordos City after police cracked three theft cases, Lian Jilin, a researcher with the regional Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology said.

Mexican archaeologists have found 60 arrowheads made in the period from 3000 to 4500 years ago.

This time was marked by rapid migration of peoples to the territory of present-day Mexico, resulting in formation of many new settlements. The find was made in the state of Sinaloa, a region known for its petroglyphs - ancient images carved in stone. According to researchers, the new findings may help locate settlements of the ancient people who left the petroglyphs. Besides the arrowheads, scientists were able to find several burial sites dating, possibly, to the 8th – 13th centuries.

Source: The Voice of Russia

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Archaeologists Believe Christians Influenced Mecca


A new discovery in Yemen may prove that a Christian church existed there and influenced Mecca around the time of the prophet Muhammad, the Daily Mail reports. Paul Yule, an archaeologist from Germany, found the stone carving of a Christian figure in the city of Zafar and dated it to about 530AD. He says evidence from other sites in Zafar indicate that it was home to a vast Arab tribal confederation that ruled even Mecca, about 581 miles to the north.

The multicultural confederation—home to Arabs, Jews, and Christians—flourished between the 3rd and 5th centuries and managed the influential port of Aden in southern Yemen, says Yule. But tensions over the advance of Christianity led Arab kings to attack a Christian colony in the Saudi Arabian city of Najran—sparking a holy war with Byzantines and Africans that ended with the triumph of Islam in the 7th century, reports Der Spiegel. As for the stone figure, Yule says it probably depicts a descendant of Africans who arrived in 525AD to spread Christianity.

Source: Newser

Archaeologists find 800 year old skeletons in Mexico


Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico found in the center of the country, skeletons of 13 persons, children and adults, estimated to have lived approximately 800 years ago. The discovery occurred when archaeologists supervised the installation of a new drainage system in Cholula, a town about 120 kilometers from Mexico City, the capital.

Archaeologists are now working to identify the sex and ethnicity of the skeletons. The skeletons were found in 12 boxes made of basalt, a funeral tradition. According to experts, the skeletons were grouped into two burials, probably a family mortuary space.

In the same region, a few months ago, mammoth bones were found more than 10,000 years old. According to scholars, the animals lived in the Ice Age.

In April, 17 skeletons about 700 years old were also discovered in the same region.

According to experts, the Chiapas region is full of shelters under the rocks of Guanajuato, which contributes to the discovery of artifacts and skeletal remains.

Experts say the studies show that there are paleontological discoveries dating back to the Ice Age (10,000 years ago), with cave paintings and tools of hunter-gatherers of the first inhabitants of the Americas.

Some skeletons wore ornaments made from shells and snails found in the region of the Gulf of California. They were bangles, a nose ring, earrings, pendants and necklaces of shell beads. Also, an individual was buried with a turtle shell placed at the height of the abdomen.

"The North, the desert, the Northeast and the coast are the most researched, from these findings it is known that the southeast is different from what was known, this side is completely new."

Translated from the Portuguese version by: Lisa Karpova

Source: Pravda.Ru

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