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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Archaeology news updates
    Posted: 14-Feb-2012 at 11:56
Conservation plan in place for Guernsey Neolithic site
As part of the final phase of the project to conserve a Neolithic gallery grave in Delancey Park (in Guernsey, a British Crown dependency located in the English Channel), archaeologist Dr George Nash has recently submitted to the Admiral de Saumarez Trust and the States of Guernsey Museums and Gallery Service a Conservation Management Plan. This document provided the stakeholders associated with the monument a strategy for the future protection and enhancement of the ancient site.     Dr Nash, who teaches within the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol, ran three fieldwork seasons at the site between 2009 and 2011. The excavation revealed a complex history of the site that dates back to the Early Neolithic period, some 5,500 years ago. The project also revealed evidence of two previous excavations that took place in 1919 and 1932. The finds, some exotic, typify a site such as this and included three glass beads - their chemical properties suggesting an eastern European origin and dating to the Bronze Age (c. 1500 - 2000 BCE) -  a spindle whorl (used for the weaving of textiles) and an array of pottery and diagnostic flint.
     Although the site is classified as a gallery grave, finds from the 2011 excavation suggest that the site was in use much earlier, possibly as a settlement; this is not an uncommon association. The majority of the trenching was on the northern side of the monument, located over two previous archaeological spoil heaps. The team was surprised and in some ways disappointed with the results within this part of the site as it appears much of trenching revealed evidence of previous archaeological activity. However, at base of the trenching in this area was a clear prehistoric palaeosol (high organic soil) horizon which is currently been dated using chronometric dating techniques. This ancient soil horizon extended across most of the site. Incorporated into this ancient soil were the three very small blue glass beads, which probably date to the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age,
     The Conservation Management Plan has identified a number of existing long standing issues that need to be addressed such as sporadic vandalism and tree root infestation. It is hoped that the Conservation Management Plan will pave the way of enhancing the monument through sensitive landscaping and visual enhancement in area of Delancey Park that has seen much neglect in recent years.
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Feb-2012 at 12:01

Archaeologist Says Rockart Found at Local Paleoindian Site

Clarke County resident Chris White points out rock indentations that he discovered near his Blue ridge Mountain home

The site of a possible Paleo-Indian solstice site recently discovered in Clarke County, Virginia gained new interest among members and guests who attended the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Archeological Society of Virginia (NVCASV) during its monthly meeting in January. Lead archaeologist for the site, Jack Hranicky, announced new findings to include what Hranicky reportss are stone art carvings located in rocks near the area of the initial discovery.

“A new major feature is a shelter on the site that contains Indian rockart including geometric ‘glyphs’ and one of two sets of right-hand prints,” Hranicky briefed the 32 NVCASV members at the Falls Church James Lee Community Center, who attended to hear his results of this three-year investigation into Northern Virginia’s archeology.

“Glyphs” or petroglyphs, are rock engravings created by removing part of a rock surface with carving, picking, incising or abrading. The human hand is one of the most common rockart elements found around the world. Petroglyphs are found worldwide, but few are found in Virginia. There are 17 known rockart sites in Virginia, all recorded by Hranikcy.

Hranicky has two other rockart sites containing concentric rings, altar and hand glyphs. Hranicky reports that the Clarke County Spout-Run complex pre-dates all of his previous discoveries.

Hranicky explained that the Spout-Run “petroglyphs” should not be confused with “pictographs” –  images drawn on rocks. “These petroglyphs were cut out of the stone” Harnicky said.

Hranicky says that further studies would be needed to reveal when, why and by whom the petroglyphs were created.

“We began with rock rings, now we have a 2-mile complex with 15 above-ground features including two sets of hand prints,” reported Hranicky. He went on to describe the early people who roamed the area approximately 12,000 years ago as “Virginia’s first Engineers.”

During his one-hour presentation Hranicky explained the Spout Run site’s defining characteristics including direct alignment with both solar solstices, alignment east-to-west with the seasonal equinoxes, the site’s lunar focus, stone concentric rings and fire hearth as well as the site’s major feature, a stone altar which also aligns with the summer solstice.......

http://www.clarkedailynews.com/archaeologist-says-rockart-found-at-local-paleoindian-site/29289


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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Feb-2012 at 12:07

Workmen discover a Muslim cemetery

Roadwork excavations in Marsa have revealed the archaeological remains of a Muslim cemetery dating back to 1675, confirming historians’ belief of the existence of a Turkish slave cemetery in the area.

The find is being documented and excavated by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and an archaeologist specialising in documentation of human remains is closely following the investigation.

The roadworks have been temporarily halted on the relevant sections until the preservation works are complete.

Sections likely to be impacted by ongoing roadworks will be scienti-fically extracted and taken to the superintendence for further testing, analysis and conservation.

The unaffected parts will be protected and left on site, undisturbed.

Two archaeologists were working hard at documenting the findings yesterday afternoon. Remains ran along the chiselled rock at various points, with the occasional bone jutting out.

“We’re working along the cross section, cleaning up the debris surrounding the bones and noting everything we find,” Marvin Demicoli said.

Colleague and fellow archaeologist Michelle Padovani said that many of the remains were in good condition and that work was proceeding briskly, although she could not say how long they would last.

“We’ve been working hand in hand with Transport Malta and everyone involved on the site to ensure things move as quickly as possible,” Ms Padovani noted.

The two archaeologists pointed to the trench’s north wall – a sheer face some five metres high with scree and other rock debris at its foot – and said they had been asked by health and safety authorities to avoid working on it for the time being.

Initial indications are that the remains are part of the burial ground granted to the Muslim slave community by Grand Master Niccolo Cotoner in 1675.

The cemetery replaced an older one that had been destroyed by the Knights to make way for the Floriana fortifications.

Slavery in Malta ended with Napoleon’s arrival in 1800 but the cemetery continued to serve as a Muslim burial place until the middle of that century, according to historian Godfrey Wettinger.

“At the time, the British admiralty decided to extend the inlet available to Maltese boats,” he said, “but, unfortunately, in doing so they also buried the cemetery.”

An agreement between the British and Turkish authorities soon rectified the situation.

In 1874, Malta’s Muslim cemetery was transferred to another Marsa site very close to existing one in the area commonly known as Iċ-Ċimiterju tat-Torok (The Turkish Cemetery).

Prof. Wettinger yesterday welcomed the archaeological discoveries as “very interesting”. They appear to confirm his long-held belief of a Turkish slave cemetery in the Marsa area, mentioned in his book, Slavery In The Islands Of Malta And Gozo.

The human remains are oriented south-eastwards, facing Mecca. As is customary in a Muslim burial place, those laid to rest appear to have been buried with no accompanying relics or artefacts.

Some historians had also floated the suggestion that the remains could be part of a makeshift cemetery built by the Ottomans during the Great Siege of 1565.

The Ottomans had chosen to situate their base camp at Marsa throughout the three months of the siege. But the two archaeologists working yesterday thought the hypothesis unlikely.

“In my opinion, these remains are too carefully laid out and spaced out to have been a war camp cemetery,” Mr Demicoli said.

Any remains extracted and taken to a laboratory for further analysis could be subjected to a number of tests.

Carbon dating will determine how old the remains are, confirming or rejecting the existing hypothesis that they belong to a Knight-era cemetery.

DNA tests, which archaeology professor Anthony Bonanno described as “a very complex and complicated process”, could be used to help determine the remains’ origin.

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20120211/local/Workmen-discover-a-Muslim-cemetery.406205



Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 14-Feb-2012 at 12:09
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Feb-2012 at 12:12

More details emerge about Roman ruins in Bulgaria’s Bourgas

More details have emerged about the archaeological find of Roman ruins at a spot near Bourgas on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast – including the fact that they have been found before and funding already has been allocated to investigate them. 
The ruins emerged after huge seas scoured the Black Sea coast earlier in February 2012, prompting speculation whether this represented a hitherto unknown Roman settlement or just a small sewerage or sanitation installation.
 
Bourgas mayor Dimitar Nikolov went to see for himself and trumpeted the find, which hit national headlines amid the bitter winter weather chaos.
 
But it turned out that the existence of the ruins was well-known to archaeologists and 120 000 leva (about 60 000 euro) already had earmarked to investigate the site.
 
However, Bulgarian National Television said that while the site, near Sarafovo, was well-known to archaeologists, excitement about the extent to which the February storm had unveiled them had prompted hopes of new impetus for the project.
 
It was still not clear what the site represented, because so far all that was visible was a large Roman-era wall.
 
Konstantin Gospodinov, curator of the Archaeological Museum in Bourgas, said that a Roman-era coastal road had passed the site.
 
Bozhidar Dimitrov, director of the National History Museum, said that the ruins first had been found in September 2011, also after a storm.
 
The site appeared to stretch about 200 to 300 metres, he said. Dimitrov said that the government had allocated the 120 000 leva as part of a pilot project to develop cultural and historical tourism on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.
 
He said that the sea had uncovered parts of ancient buildings and streets, and the site appeared to be a small Roman settlement that before September last year, had been unknown to archaeologists.
 
Dimitrov, speaking in an interview with local news agency Focus, said that it was certain that this was an urban settlement because Roman villages did not have sewerage, temples with columns and buildings made of blocks weighing hundreds of kilograms.
 
He said that it was most interesting that the settlement was not shown on ancient maps and navigational charts.
 
"There is no mention of an ancient settlement at this place," Dimitrov said.
However, this was no big surprise because there were only two ancient maps of the coast available, and they identified only the names of the largest settlements – Anchialos (today’s Pomorie), Apollonia (today’s Sozopol) and Menebria (today’s Nessebur).
 
Dimitrov said that Professor Lyudmil Vagalinski, director of the Institute of Archeology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, will be the archeologist in charge of the site.
 
"The excavations will begin when the snow melts and the weather gets better, because the next sea storm might wash away part of the ancient settlement," Dimitrov said.
 
He said that the site had a pillar with lines of writing on it that had not yet been deciphered, and he hoped that this would reveal the name of the settlement.
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Feb-2012 at 12:16
The Villa Loupian: a Gallo-Roman estate in Languedoc

The ancient Roman world saw the rise and expansion of large-scale, estate-based agriculture, and at the heart of this system lay a very special institution – the villa.

Excavation of one of these large estates, the Villa Loupian in France’s Languedoc province, provides a glimpse of rural life in Roman Gaul. We see traces of the great landowners, who divided their time between otium (time for relaxation and study) and negotium (the world of business), as well as their massive estates, run by a small army of slaves.

A new website from France’s Ministry of Culture and Communication takes visitors inside the Villa Loupian, offering never-before-seen 3D reconstructions, a virtual tour of the estate as it changed through the centuries, and panoramic views of the superb polychrome mosaics from Late Antiquity that were uncovered.

Location of mosaics. © Ministère de la culture et de la communication

Location of mosaics. © Ministère de la culture et de la communication

A uniquely- designed interface allows users to explore a rural residence and estate that have been painstakingly excavated and studied. A wealth of data, complemented by a rich collection of media is presented in such a way as to make it accessible to a wide audience.

Visitors can learn about the ever-changing field of Gallo-Roman villa research, the most recent findings and the variety of architectural styles found throughout the three provinces that made up Roman Gaul.

Designed by Christophe Pellecuer, curator with the Languedoc-Roussillon Regional Cultural Affairs Directorate, the new web site is a shining example of a partnership between the State, local authorities and the collection of communities north of the Etang de Thau.

A multi-disciplinary team of archaeologists, conservators, architects and mediators worked together to study and preserve the villa’s remains and present them to the public at the on-site museum.

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2012/the-villa-loupian-a-gallo-roman-estate-in-languedoc


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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Feb-2012 at 20:48

Animal mummies discovered at ancient Egyptian site

Written By Owen Jarus-Published February 14, 2012-LiveScience



A wealth of new discoveries, from animal mummies linked to the jackal god and human remains to an enigmatic statue, are revealing the secrets of an ancient holy place in Egypt once known as the "Terrace of the Great God."

The mysterious wooden statue may be a representation of Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh who ruled the land 3,500 years ago, the researchers say. She was typically portrayed as a man in statues, but this one, giving a nod to femininity, had a petite waist.

The discoveries were made during one field season this past summer by a team led by Mary-Ann Pouls Wegner, director of the excavation and a professor at the University of Toronto. The findings offer insight into Abydos, a site that was considered a holy place, Pouls Wegner said at a recent meeting of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities in Toronto, Canada.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/02/14/animal-mummies-discovered-ancient-egyptian-site/#ixzz1mPXiU2gs



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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Feb-2012 at 20:54

'Woolly mammoth' video a hoax

Published February 13, 2012

TechMediaNetwork, Benjamin Radford


Last week, a new video surfaced claiming to show a live woolly mammoth — an animal scientists think has been extinct for at least four millennia — crossing a river in Russia. The suspiciously blurry footage was allegedly "caught by a government-employed engineer last summer in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug region of Siberia," according to a story in The Sun newspaper.

The video became an Internet sensation, making headlines around the world. Some Bigfoot believers and Loch Ness Monster lovers murmured their tentative approval, hoping it proved that large unknown (or assumed extinct) animals still exist in Earth's remote wilds



Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/02/13/woolly-mammoth-video-hoax/#ixzz1mPZPdlps
 


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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Feb-2012 at 09:26

Queen of Sheba's lost gold mine discovered, archaeologist claims

Published February 15, 2012-NewsCore


A British archaeologist working in northern Ethiopia believes she may have discovered an ancient goldmine that holds clues about where the Queen of Sheba obtained her storied wealth.

Louise Schofield, a former curator at the British Museum, told The Observer she was alerted to the mine by a gold prospector while working on an environmental development project in Ethiopia's Tigray region.

The shaft, buried some four feet (1.2 meters) underground with an ancient human skull embedded in its entrance, apparently had not attracted much attention, even though locals panned for gold in a nearby river.



Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/02/15/queen-shebas-lost-gold-mines-discovered-archaeologist-claims/#ixzz1mScbjPlO



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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Feb-2012 at 14:57

Life on Earth Began on Land, Not in Sea?

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Steam rises from geothermal plains in Kamchatka, Russia.

Earth's first cellular life probably arose in vats of warm, slimy mud fed byvolcanically heated steam—and not in primordial oceans, scientists say.

(Also see "All Species Evolved From Single Cell, Study Finds.")

The concept, based on the latest cellular and geologic research, resembles a suggestion by famed naturalist Charles Darwin that life could have sprung from a "warm little pond" rich in nutrients.

(Find out about Darwin's scientific inspirations in National Geographicmagazine.)

Despite this early musing by Darwin, marine-origin theories for life have been popular in recent years, because oceanographers continue to find oases of life thriving on the seafloor.

In these deepwater ecosystems, simple yet hardy microbes munch on noxious minerals spewing from hot volcanic vents—a setting many experts think could resemble the birthplace of the first cells.

(Related pictures: "'Lost World' of Odd Species Found Off Antarctica.")

But in the new study, researchers argue that the fluid all cells struggle to keep within their thin cellular membranes couldn't be more dissimilar to ancient ocean water.

Instead, the team discovered, this cellular fluid is very similar to condensed vapors found in volcanic mud pots on land.

Such terrestrial environments boast the high ratios of potassium to sodium found in all living cells. Marine environments, meanwhile, are far too rich in sodium.

"For cells to synthesize proteins—their molecular machines—they need a lot of potassium. Sodium blocks these activities," said study co-author Armen Mulkidjanian, a biophysicist at the University of Osnabrück in Germany.

"Life cannot live without synthesizing proteins, so it must keep potassium high."

Keep It Simple, Cells

Cells today rely on complex proteins to pump excess sodium out through their membranes, so the cells can function properly.

The first cells, however, had no such machinery at their disposal—just rudimentary cellular membranes and whatever nutrients the cells were lucky enough to trap inside.

As a result, the first cells were highly permeable and completely at the mercy of their environments. The ratio of potassium to sodium therefore had to be greater than one to one, in favor of potassium.

But in ancient seawater—as well as in modern seawater—sodium outnumbers potassium 40 to 1.

With this hurdle in mind, Mulkidjanian and his colleagues enlisted the help of geologists to understand where else life might have originated between 4.3 and 3.8 billion years ago. (Related: "Life Ingredients Found in Superhot Meteorites—A First.")

The team realized that geothermal fields on land could do the job, particularly the mud pots found in places such as Yellowstone National Park.

"Mud pots are where steam is coming out of the earth and condensing, carrying with it many minerals, including potassium," Mulkidjanian said. "They look like slime coming out of the earth and would make a nice kind of hatchery for the first cells."

Scientists had long ignored mud pots as possible analogs to primordial ooze, because the modern-day versions are swimming in sulfuric acid, a deadly chemical that forms when hydrogen sulfide encounters oxygen in the atmosphere.

(Related: "Space Poison Helped Start Life on Earth?")

"People were scared away by the acidic condition, but Earth used to have very little oxygen in its atmosphere," Mulkidjanian said.

"These anoxic environments were stable over millions of years and were probably conducive to supporting the first life on Earth."

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/02/120213-first-life-land-mud-darwin-evolution-animals-science/


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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Feb-2012 at 15:02

Charter Service: Encasing the Magna Carta

The Magna Carta rests in its argon-filled NIST encasement at the Archives Conservation lab.

You often hear about the Framers of the Constitution, but not so much the framers of the Magna Carta. They work for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Not the authors, of course; they've been dead 700 years. But a NIST engineering team, at the behest of the National Archives, designed and built a state-of-the-art encasement and transport cart to protect the Archive's prized copy of the 1297 Magna Carta. Their work -- and the freshly conserved Magna Carta -- were on display Feb. 2, 2012, at a special "behind-the-scenes" showing at the National Archives Conservation Lab. The enclosure is designed to visually enhance the parchment document while maintaining the interior environment so it does not degrade the document, which is the underpinning to Western Civilization and U.S. law.

The encasement is basically a controlled environment, explained NIST Project Engineer Jay Brandenburg, who regularly does similar tasks to isolate sensitive lab equipment.

The first Magna Carta was signed in 1215 by King John of England. He was forced by an assembly of barons to put in writing, for the first time, the traditional rights and liberties of the country's free persons. After another confrontation with barons, Edward I not only reissued the Magna Carta in 1297, but for the first time, it was entered into the official Statute Rolls of England and became the foundation of English law.

The owner of this copy of the Magna Carta, David M. Rubinstein, loaned the document to the National Archives and paid for its restoration and encasement.

While the Archives refurbished the parchment, NIST engineers and crafts people built a platform to hold the Magna Carta, the large encasement it sits in and a heavy-duty cart.

NIST worked from a three-dimensional laser scan of the document to support it on the platform and to create a nest to hold the original wax seal with Edward I's likeness, which is attached to the Magna Carta by a frail parchment ribbon.

The platform was created from a single 6-inch thick block of aluminum to minimize the number of joints or spots that could cause leaks in the encasement, explained Brandenburg. About 90 percent of the block was cut away with a computer-controlled milling machine based on the three-dimensional image to create the perfect fit.

The end result is an enclosure about 41 inches wide by 28 inches long and 6 inches deep. It weighs 225 pounds. The encasement cover is made of a special laminated glass with antireflective coatings to ensure maximum visibility of the document while protecting it. The encasement is sealed with close-fitting bolts that hold the frame against double O-rings that create the encasement seal. The case was filled with argon gas and will be monitored to avoid as much oxidation damage as possible.

The enclosure will likely never be seen in its entirety again. By mid-February it will be placed inside the new interactive display in the West Rotunda Gallery of the U.S. National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. There, alongside three other documents for which NIST built similar enclosures -- the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights -- it will be on display for the 1 million visitors that pass through the Archives each year.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120208132842.htm

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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Feb-2012 at 14:18
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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Feb-2012 at 14:27

Why Do Dinosaur Skeletons Look So Weird?


ScienceDaily (Feb. 16, 2012) — Many fossilized dinosaurs have been found in a twisted posture. Scientists have long interpreted this as a sign of death spasms. Two researchers from Basel and Mainz now come to the conclusion that this bizarre deformations occurred only during the decomposition of dead dinosaurs.
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Feb-2012 at 11:21
The birds in the Iliad strengthened warriors

The birds in the Iliad help warriors and kings make difficult decisions and satisfy the basic human need for self-esteem and security.

This is the conclusion of a new doctoral thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, that analyses 35 bird scenes in Homer’s Iliad from around 700 B.C.

In the Iliad, gods use birds to disguise themselves and as transmitters of messages to humans. Similarly, humans use birds as signs and symbols that they interpret to acquire knowledge about the presence and identities of gods and their intentions for the future. Birds therefore have a very important function as intermediaries between humans and their gods.

The birds are central in the event structure of the Iliad. They often appear in dangerous and important war situations and prior to risky journeys. Receiving a positive bird sign from the gods in those situations strengthened the warriors’ fighting spirit and ability to fight, but it also evoked a sense of relief since it indicated that the god was with them,’ says the author of the thesis Karin Johansson.

In her thesis, Johansson identifies the different bird species that are included in the Iliad and shows that they are carefully selected to fit into the particular situations and environments where they appear. The most common species are the peregrine falcon, the rock dove and the golden eagle, but also the so-called bearded vulture, with is very uncommon today.

It is important to identify the birds and pay attention to their behaviour and characteristics. The specific species are also chosen to convey and add specific information. If we neglect these details, we also lose important parts of the messages,’ says Johansson.........

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2012/the-birds-in-the-iliad-strengthened-warriors


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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Feb-2012 at 14:50

Stonehenge inspired by illusions, archaeologist suggests

Written By Stephanie Pappas-Published February 17, 2012-LiveScience


Theories about the purpose of Stonehenge range from a secular calendar to a place of spiritual worship. Now, an archaeologist suggests that the Stonehenge monument in southern England may have been an attempt to mimic a sound-based illusion.

If two pipers were to play in a field, observers walking around the musicians would hear a strange effect, said Steven Waller, a doctoral researcher at Rock Art Acoustics USA, who specializes in the sound properties of ancient sites, or archaeoacoustics. At certain points, the sound waves produced by each player would cancel each other out, creating spots where the sound is dampened.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/02/17/stonehenge-inspired-by-sound-illusion-archaeologist-suggests/#ixzz1mfd2Yyfb



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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Feb-2012 at 09:20

Earliest image of Mother Goddess found

Statue of mother Goddess dating back to 3rd Century B.C. discovered by Archaeological Survey of India at Sri Chalukya Kumara Bheemeswara Swamy temple at Samarlakota in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh near Kakinada
Statue of mother Goddess dating back to 3rd Century B.C. discovered by Archaeological Survey of India at Sri Chalukya Kumara Bheemeswara Swamy temple at Samarlakota in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh near Kakinada

The first-ever ‘Mother Goddess' image carved in sandstone rock — representing the earliest perception of idolising woman as Goddess dating back to 3 Century BC — has been found close to the Sri Chalukya Kumara Bheemeswara Swamy temple at Samarlakota near Kakinada in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

Archaeological Survey of India's Superintending Archaeologist R. Krishnaiah, told The Hindu that while conducting an exploration around the Bheemeswara Swamy temple to ascertain its origin and antiquity, their Deputy Superintending Archaeologist D. Kanna Babu discovered the stunning and unique image of a seated mother goddess (Yakshini), in a remote corner outside the temple.

The centuries old temple is revered as one of the ‘Pancharama Kshetras.' From the archaeological research point of view, the ‘mother goddess' sculpture was a rare discovery, said Mr. Krishnaiah. This find would be vital for reconstructing the cultural life of ancient Andhra, the origin and evolution of early cultural art. This idol was believed to be from the Ashoka period in 3 Century BC.

Samarlakota might have played a vital role with prominent cultural activity from the early times dating back to the 11 century Chalukya period, he added. “We will conduct more explorations in the near future to bring out archaeological richness of the ancient Godavari Valley,” he said.

The archaeologist Mr. Babu, who made the discovery, said that such an early image of Mother Goddess had not been found so far in entire South India in stone media. The highly eroded sandstone sculpture is 150 cm tall, 67 cm wide and 28 cm thick life-size form of a Mother Goddess seated on a broad pedestal.

“Her facial physiognomic feature is roundish, dignified with chubby cheeks, wide open eyes, a broad heavy nose, and close cut tender pair of lips. She is potbellied, her arms and wrists are embellished with a series of big bangles and she is wearing earrings. The head is covered with a beautiful head-dress, but it is in a deeply eroded state.”

The drapery covers her waist, hanging down between her legs and bears folds. Hands rest on her thighs and hold something which the ASI presumes are foodgrain. Mr. Babu says these features have striking similarities with the unique Yaksha, Yakshini images unearthed at important cultural sites like Beta, Patna, Deedarganj, Lauria, Nandanagarh, and Amaravathi of the Mauryan period.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2897216.ece

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Feb-2012 at 16:41

Fossilized Pollen Unlocks Secrets of Ancient Royal Garden

Artist's rendering of Ramat Rahel site.

Researchers have long been fascinated by the secrets of Ramat Rahel, located on a hilltop above modern-day Jerusalem. The site of the only known palace dating back to the kingdom of Biblical Judah, digs have also revealed a luxurious ancient garden. Since excavators discovered the garden with its advanced irrigation system, they could only imagine what the original garden might have looked like in full bloom -- until now.

Using a unique technique for separating fossilized pollen from the layers of plaster found in the garden's waterways, researchers from Tel Aviv University's Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology have now been able to identify what grew in the ancient royal gardens of Ramat Rahel. And based on the garden's archaeological clues, they have been able to reconstruct the lay-out of the garden.

According to Prof. Oded Lipschits, Dr. Yuval Gadot, and Dr. Dafna Langgut, the garden featured the expected local vegetation such as common fig and grapevine, but also included a bevy of exotic plants such as citron and Persian walnut trees. The citron, which apparently emigrated from India via Persia, made its first appearance in the modern-day Middle East in Ramat Rahel's royal garden.

Plastered pools a "pollen trap"

One of the unique features of Ramat Rahel's garden is its advanced irrigation system. The scope of the garden is even more impressive, says Dr. Gadot, because there was no permanent water source at the site. Rainwater was efficiently collected and distributed throughout the garden with aesthetic water installations that included pools, underground channels, tunnels, and gutters.

These installations finally allowed researchers to uncover what they had been searching for. Early attempts to remove pollen grains from the site's soil in order to reconstruct the botanical components of the garden were unfruitful because the pollen had oxidized. But after noticing that the channels and pools themselves were coated with plaster, probably due to renovation, the researchers theorized that if the plaster had ever been renewed while the garden was in bloom, pollen could have stuck to the wet plaster, acting as a "trap," and dried within it. Luckily, this hunch proved to be correct.

While some plaster layers included only typicalnative vegetation, one of the layers, dated to the Persian period (the 5th-4th centuries B.C.E.), also included local fruit trees, ornamentals, and imported trees from far-off lands. "This is a very unique pollen assemblage," explains Dr. Langgut, a pollen expert. Among the unusual vegetation are willow and poplar, which required irrigation in order to grow in the garden; ornamentals such as myrtle and water lilies; native fruit trees including the grape vine, the common fig, and the olive; and imported citron, Persian walnut, cedar of Lebanon, and birch trees. Researchers theorize that these exotics were imported by the ruling Persian authorities from remote parts of the empire to flaunt the power of their imperial administration.

This is the first time that the exact botanical elements have been reconstructed in an ancient royal garden, say the researchers. The botanical and archaeological information they have collected will help them to re-create the garden so that visitors can soon experience the floral opulence of Ramat Rahel.

The origins of tradition

In their migrations, human beings distributed different plants and animals throughout the world, mostly for economic purposes, says Dr. Gadot. In contrast, at Ramat Rahel, royalty designed the garden with the intent of impressing visitors with wealth and worldliness.

Certainly, the decision to import various trees has had a lasting impact on the region and on Judaism as well, says Prof. Lipschits. The citron tree, for example, which made its first appearance in Israel in this garden, has worked its way into Jewish tradition. The citron, or etrog, is one of the four species of plants used at Sukkot, and the earliest appearance of these species was at the garden of Ramat Rahel.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120216134112.htm

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Feb-2012 at 22:25

'Unique' 11th Century coin discovered near Gloucester

Front and back view of coin
The silver coin was found just north of Gloucester

A "unique" medieval coin from the reign of William the Conqueror has been discovered in a field near Gloucester.

The hammered silver coin was found by metal detectorist Maureen Jones just north of the city in November.

Experts from the Portable Antiquities Scheme said the find "filled in the hole" in the dates the Gloucester mint was known to have been operating.

The coin, which dates from 1077-1080, features the name of the moneyer Silacwine and where it was minted.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme said that until the coin was discovered, there were no known examples of William I coins minted in Gloucester between 1077-1080.

"The discovery of this coin therefore proves that the mint was in operation throughout the whole reign of William I," it said.

Ms Jones, who found the coin, is a member of Taynton Metal Detecting Club.

"I went out with two other ladies to an open field and that's where I found it," she said.

"I know it's a silver hammered coin but I didn't recognise the king.

"It's quite amazing."

Kurt Adams, finds liaison officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, said the penny coin would have been "quite valuable" at the time that it is thought to been lost by its owner more than 900 years ago.

It is due to be returned to Ms Jones shortly.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-17027300

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Feb-2012 at 18:42

Archaeologists discover Jordan’s earliest buildings

Archaeologists working in eastern Jordan have announced the discovery of 20,000-year-old hut structures, the earliest yet found in the Kingdom. The finding suggests that the area was once intensively occupied and that the origins of architecture in the region date back twenty millennia, before the emergence of agriculture.

The research, published 15 February, 2012 in PLoS One by a joint British, Danish, American and Jordanian team, describes huts that hunter-gatherers used as long-term residences and suggests that many behaviours that have been associated with later cultures and communities, such as a growing attachment to a location and a far-reaching social network, existed up to 10,000 years earlier.

Excavations at the site of Kharaneh IV are providing archaeologists with a new perspective on how humans lived 20,000 years ago. Although the area is starkly dry and barren today, during the last Ice Age the deserts of Jordan were in bloom, with rivers, streams, and seasonal lakes and ponds providing a rich environment for hunter-gatherers to settle in.

“What we witness at the site of Kharaneh IV in the Jordanian desert is an enormous concentration of people in one place,” explained Dr Jay Stock from the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge and co-author of the article.

“People lived here for considerable periods of time when these huts were built. They exchanged objects with other groups in the region and even buried their dead at the site. These activities precede the settlements associated with the emergence of agriculture, which replaced hunting and gathering later on. At Kharaneh IV we have been able to document similar behaviour a full 10,000 years before agriculture appears on the scene.”

The archaeologists, who were funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK, spent three seasons excavating at the large open-air site covering two hectares. They recovered hundreds of thousands of stone tools, animal bones and other finds from Kharaneh IV, which today appears as little more than a mound 3 m high rising above the desert landscape.

Based on the size and density of the site, the researchers had long suspected that Kharaneh IV was frequented by large numbers of people for long periods of time; these latest findings now confirm their theory. “It may not look very impressive to the untrained eye, but it is one of the densest and largest Palaeolithic open-air sites in the region,” said Dr Lisa Maher, from the University of California, Berkeley, who spearheads the excavations.

“The stone tools and animal bone vastly exceed the amounts recovered from most other sites of this time period in southwest Asia.” In addition, the team also recovered rarer items, such as shell beads, bones with regularly incised lines and a fragment of limestone with geometric carved patterns.

So far, the team has fully excavated two huts; but there may be several more hidden beneath the desert’s sands. “They’re not large by any means. They measure about 2–3 m in maximum length and were dug into the ground. The walls and roof were made of brush wood, which then burnt and collapsed leaving dark coloured marks,” described Dr Tobias Richter from the University of Copenhagen and one of the project’s co-directors.

Radiocarbon dating suggests that the hut is between 19,300 and 18,600 years old. Although a team of archaeologists working at Ohalo II on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in 1989 found the region’s oldest hut structures, which date from 23,000 years ago, the team working at the Kharaneh IV site believe their discovery is no less significant, as Dr Maher explained:

“Inside the huts, we found intentionally burnt piles of gazelle horn cores, clumps of red ochre pigment and a cache of hundreds of pierced marine shells. These shell beads were brought to the site from the Mediterranean and Red Sea over 250 km away, showing that people were very well linked to regional social networks and exchanged items across considerable distances.”

http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/archaeologists-discover-jordans-earliest-buildings/

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Feb-2012 at 18:46

Evidence of massacre in Bronze Age Turkey

Evidence of massacre in Bronze Age Turkey
Stele of Naram-Sin, celebrating victory against the Lullubi from Zagros 2260 BC.

Determining social relationships between populations in the past can be difficult. Trade can be inferred from evidence such as pottery with foreign designs, or non-local foods. Warfare can be determined from the presence of mass graves or cemeteries of adult males displaying trauma, or  weaponry showing signs of frequent use. However, trauma is not always a sign of conflict with external populations. It can also reflect the normal struggles of daily life or even interpersonal violence within the community.

Skeletal collections with trauma found from the Neolithic period in Anatolia suggest that injury was caused by daily activities and lifestyle, rather than systematic violence. However, shortly after this period there is an increase in trauma associated with violence that may suggest an increase in stress within and between populations in this area. In order to examine this conclusion, a new article by Erdal (2012) looked at the skeletal remains of a potential massacre site from the Early Bronze Age in Turkey.

Mass burial in plastered basin in the Outer Town at Titris Hoyuk. Image: Titriş Höyük Photographic Archive

Mass burial in plastered basin in the Outer Town at Titris Hoyuk. Image: Titriş Höyük Photographic Archive

The human remains come from the site of Titriş Höyük, dating to 2900-2100 BCE. The site grew very quickly in this period from a small farming community to an urban centre within a large mud-brick fortification wall built over a stone foundation. Within one of the house structures (House #2, Room 13), a burial was found in a plaster basin beneath the floors. While the location of the burial and the basin are not unique, the state of the individuals is.

Unique burial

Instead of the normal burials recovered from these basins, the team from University of California, San Diego and University of Akron found a large number of disarticulated remains with the crania placed at the top. Based on the strata of the burial, it is unknown whether this burial was created in a single moment or over time. Given their layout and the slight connection of some of the remains, it was more likely there was a single burial episode rather than a multiple event internment. Since the bones were co-mingled, determining the number of individuals required counting the number of repeating bone elements. The researchers looked at crania and long bones and from this they argue there are a minimum number of 13 adult males, 3 adult females and 3 sub-adults. This burial dates to the end of the period of occupation, approximately 2200-2100 BCE.

Analysing the wounds

The trauma analysis was done using the cranial remains and classified as premortem (before death), perimortem (sustained at death) or postmortem (after death). This was determined by looking at wounds for evidence of healing that would indicate it was sustained prior to death, or bright white colouration which means it was sustained after death (potentially caused by damage done during the excavation or collapse of the grave over time). Location of the trauma and appearance was recorded, as well as shape of the wound in order to determine potential weapons. When looking at the appearance and shape, Erdal (2012) recorded whether there was the appearance of radiating concentric lines indicative of blunt force trauma, or V shaped inward fractures indicative of sharp force trauma.Titris wounds

The results of the study showed that 11 of the 13 males had sign of one or more cranial traumas, only 1 female had signs of trauma, and there was no sign of trauma in the sub-adults. Of them, 13 of the 14 cranial traumas were unhealed and suggestive of perimortem damage. Most individuals suffered multiple wounds, resulting in a total of 26 unhealed cranial traumas for the entire sample. The most frequent appearance was inward bevelling with concentric fractures radiating from the centre, 23 of these were penetrating completely through the bone, and they were primarily found on the parietal bones. Comparing size of the wounds, Erdal (2012) found that they occurred in two specific clusters, which potentially means there were two types of weapon used.

Identifying violence in the past from skeletal remains can be difficult, and many archaeologists argue that the presence of embedded weapons is the only true indicator. However, trauma found on skulls caused by blunt or sharp weapons are a fairly good indicator of conflict, warfare or massacre according to Erdal (2012).

The presence of such a high number of perimortem wounds, all in the same area and occurring on the majority of individuals in a single mass grave all point to the conclusion that their deaths, or at least injuries, were not accidental. Combining this with the evidence of fortifications around the city suggests that these individuals were killed by intruders rather than interpersonal violence. Comparing the two types of injury clusters with weapons from this period leads to the conclusion that they were caused by battle axes in the case of the larger injuries, and dagger or spears for the smaller ones.

Evidence of violence and cultural change

Erdal (2012) argues that “the frequency of perimortem trauma increases during periods of environmental deterioration, population growth, political breakdown and competition over resources while sub-lethal cranial trauma are observable during all periods”. Since Anatolia was undergoing a period of environmental, as well as cultural change, it is likely that violence was one of the consequences.

Combining this data with other sites from this period in Turkey may reveal an overall trend of increased violence in the Neolithic / Bronze Age transition. The conclusion is based on a fairly extensive dataset, and is well argued in Erdal’s paper. There is further discussion of the meaning behind the plaster basins the individuals were found in. This is a good example of combining bioarchaeology with the contextual archaeological evidence, both in the grave and mortuary setting, but also the broader cultural and environmental context.  It is concluded that the collapse of the Akkadian Empire, the deterioration of the trade-based economy and resource stress might have been possible factors that played a role in the excessive violence, or even a massacre in Titriş Höyük.

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2012/evidence-of-massacre-in-bronze-age-turkey



Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 20-Feb-2012 at 18:51
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Feb-2012 at 18:54

Archaeologists Excavate Magnificent Monumental City of the Decapolis

A line of fallen ancient columns remain in place today, undisturbed, configured exactly where they fell after a massive, devastating earthquake destroyed this city on January 18th, 749 C.E. They appear as though the event had happened only yesterday. Images of ancient Pompeii come to mind.

But this was not Pompeii.

Known as Antiochia Hippos (Hippos meaning "horse", or Hebrew Sussita, also meaning "horse"), its ruins are perched atop Sussita Mountain, an isolated table-top mountain that overlooks the eastern bank of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) in present-day Israel. Established initially by the Seleucids as a Greco-Roman enclave, it once controlled two port facilities on the lake and its surrounding countryside. Hippos was part of the "Decapolis", a group of ten cities in Roman Palestine that were maintained as Greco-Roman cultural islands in the Near East. The damage the earthquake caused Hippos was so severe that its citizens abandoned it, never to return again. This left it to the ages with no succeeding settlement and, coupled with its relative isolation and enduring basaltic construction, preserved it much like it was left in the 8th century for 20th century archaeologists to explore.  Since the year 2000, a team of archaeologists, specialists, students and volunteers under Professor Arthur Segal and Dr. Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa, have been excavating the site. 

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undefinedHippos, the forum. The columns still lay where they fell in the 749 CE earthquake. Photo courtesy Michael Eisenberg

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"Twelve years of continuous archaeological excavations on the site," report Segal and Eisenberg, "have unearthed a wealth of Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad structures erected during a period of a thousand years – from the 2nd century BCE to the 8th century CE. Yet much excavation work still has to be done to reveal the city in all its former magnificence and glory."

Thus far, Segal and Eisenberg and their team have excavated a 42 x 42m Roman forum complex, a 55 x 30m Roman basilica, a structure called a "kalybe" (an imperial cult shrine established to express loyalty to Roman imperial rule), the walls of a Hellenistic sanctuary, or temenos, an odeion ( a small theatre-like structure used for small-scale entertainment events), and the remains of two Byzantine churches. 

Says Eisenberg: "During the past twelve seasons we have exposed only a small percentage of the total area of Hippos. Excavation is still in its first stages, but what has so far been discovered is sufficient to show that this is a fascinating site.......The building complexes, the rough wildness of the area, as well as the sweeping panorama of the landscape viewed from the mountain top overlooking the Kinneret and the Galilee, make Hippos one of the most attractive and impressive archaeological sites in Israel." .......

http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/december-2011/article/archaeologists-excavate-magnificent-monumental-city-of-the-decapolis

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