The remains of two barnacle species that once lived exclusively on the exterior of whales have been found in a camp fire at the Cueva de Nerja (the Caves of Nerja) in Málaga, Spain. Researchers from the University of Valencia have dated the charcoal from the fire to between 14,500 and 13,500 years ago.Barnacles on a grey whale. Image: jpmckenna (Flickr, used under a CC BY 3.0) Earliest consumption of whale meat
Scientists at the University, coordinated by Professor Joan Emili Aura Tortosa, analysed stone artefacts, horn and bone found in the fire along with the charcoal to arrive at the date. The scientific results show evidence of human consumption of whale meat during Prehistory in Europe.
The remains of the whale barnacles were found in occupation layers dating to the end of the last glacial maximum and associated with the Upper Palaeolithic Magdalenian period.
The association of the remains of barnacles with hunting and fishing equipment made of bone and stone is the oldest indirect evidence of whale consumption though not of whale hunting.
The whale may have become stranded on a beach at low tide and hunters would have taken the opportunity to take meat, fat and skin back to the cave for processing and consumption.
No whale bones have been identified in Nerja, unlike dolphins and seals, which are represented by various skeletal parts (jaws, teeth, vertebrae , ribs, etc), which suggests the hunters are only using (or able to transport) the flesh and skin of the whale.Remains of whale barnacles. Image: Esteban Álvarez-Fernández and René-Pierre Carriol Palaeoecological data
Whale barnacles are crustaceans living on the skin of whales and so their presence within the cave’s archaeological deposits could only be the result of human action, with the coastline during this period lying around 4 km away. Currently, the cave is situated less than 1 km away from the sea.
The two species identified have been associated with a type of Southern Hemisphere whale (Eubalaena australis), although there are also suggestions of the barnacles being found on the north Atántico (Eubalaena glacialis).
This study also has relevance to palaeoecological studies, as it confirms a significant drop in the temperature of sea water in the region, previously suggested by research surveys conducted in the Alboran Sea, and also alters the distribution of these species of whales in the past.
Source: University of ValenciaMore Information
By Larry Coben and Rebekah Junkermeier
In some locations around the world major cultural heritage sites are being left to deteriorate and in many instances the communities surrounding them are living far below the poverty line. As a result local communities see these sites as opportunities to loot, graze animals or to grow crops on in an attempt to provide themselves and their families with the essentials.
While we may want to preserve these archaeological sites for future generations to study and enjoy, how can we tell people not to economically exploit them without somehow providing a viable alternative?
The Sustainable Preservation Initiative’s (SPI) concept answers this question by empowering local entrepreneurs and providing transformative economic opportunities. Investing in locally-created and owned businesses whose financial success is tied to the preservation of the site, SPI helps preserve cultural heritage and alleviates poverty in the surrounding communities.Archaeologists working at the San José de Moro site: Image: SPI San José de Moro
SPI’s first project was at San José de Moro in Peru which is the site of one of the most important cemeteries and ceremonial centres of the ancient Moche culture. Hundreds of burials, including the remains of elite Moche priestesses and one of the largest caches of fineline ceramics ever discovered, have been excavated at the site since 1991.
Moro is also home to an impoverished, rural community of approximately 5,000 inhabitants. Most of these residents are struggling to makes ends meet; the average daily income is approximately $9.50 per day.A sustainable economic-based solution
Before SPI’s involvement in the site, Moro’s archaeological director, Dr. Luis Jaime Castillo and his team attempted to start a community development programme alongside the excavations. They tried all of the typical non-sustainable solutions to preserve the site and help the local community – conservation, education and museums. Yet, none of these were effective.
“For years we were doing little contributions to the towns, schools, and to some pressing need, but we could never focus on a long term and sustainable effort that was both different from and integrated with the values and goals of the project,” said Dr. Castillo.
He realised a sustainable economic-based solution was required.
In March 2010, SPI awarded a $40,000 grant for artisan and tourist development around the site with the aim of creating a long-term business revenue and employment for local residents, as well as powerful incentives for the community to preserve this important site. In this way, the population view their rich archaeological patrimony as an economic asset and source of income and progress, not an impediment to its natural growth.
The development plan features the patented SPI-designed visitor and training centre, incorporating a crafts workshop, store, and exhibition area. The workshop includes training for additional local artisans and provides tourists with the opportunity to observe them producing their wares, participate in the ceramic making process and even purchase the finished products.
Adjacent to the exhibition centre are a picnic and rest area, small snack bar, and toilet facilities, also constructed with the SPI grant.Impressive results
As with all of its projects, SPI tracks the progress and impact of these facilities to measure the long-term effects and sustainability within the community. Under the direction of Dr. Castillo and the management of Solsire Cuscanqui, SPI employed more than 20 individuals from the community to work on the construction of the new workshop, exhibition and store facilities, and tourism amenities. The visitor centre was completed within 6 months under budget and opened with an inauguration celebration planned with the community.San José de Moro – Entrance to the site. Image: SPI
Twelve residents of San Jose de Moro are employed at the artisan workshop and tourist centre. Julio Ibarrola, a ceramicist renowned for his replicas of late Moche fineline ceramics – like those excavated at the Moro site – and Eloy Uriarte, a blacksmith specialising in archaeological tools and implements, both direct the workshop.
Under Julio’s direction, other local residents have learned the tradition of creating replicas of Moche fineline ceramics. Once the students have reached a sufficient level of craftsmanship, they go on to sell their wares within the exhibition and store facilities. The artisans receive 80% of the revenue earned on the sale of the items they have produced. They invest the remaining money in the project to pay for raw materials and facility maintenance. In addition, 3 women in the community have been employed as weavers and 7 women as cooks as entrepreneurship spreads, bringing the total number of permanent jobs so far to 22. Total revenues have been impressive; in 2011 they totalled over $5,000 and those in 2012 over $11,000.Julio Ibarrola is an expert in replicas of late Moche fineline ceramics. Image: SPI Economic expansion
Demand for the local artisans’ handmade works of art continues to grow. Master artisan Julio Ibarrola recently received an order from a major Peruvian university for 100 of his ceramics, and NOVICA, an online global platform that connects local artisans to customers around the globe, nearly sold out of Julio’s work this past holiday season.
Felix Salmon, a financial columnist for Reuters, calls SPI’s creation of jobs and substantial income from the tourism facilities “impressive.” These results continue to inspire entrepreneurship and economic development throughout the town, with five new shops having opened this year to serve the burgeoning tourist and artisanal demand.
Dr. Castillo notes, “SPI is helping to turn an important archaeological site into a source of tourism-related cash for a poor local community, thereby creating an enormous incentive to protect that site rather than looting it or building on it.” After just one year of operations, the project is completely economically sustainable with no additional funding needed.
SPI’s initial investment has inspired additional economic activity to serve tourists visiting the site, including the following:
• A non-SPI sponsored ceramic replica stand (in competition with SPI’s) was established just outside the site’s borders.
• Townspeople are now serving traditional lunches in their homes for tourists.
• Local women artisans are selling textiles in the visitors centre.
• Two new small snack bars (for a total of three in the town) have opened to serve tourists.Local government action
SPI’s project has also spurred the local government into action concerning the site. The municipality of Chepen (where San Jose de Moro is located) is paying for and installing a new entrance and signage on the Pan-American Highway as well as for the publication of additional Moro guidebooks for use by their newly reconstituted tourism board and in their schools.
Local officials are recognizing the economic potential not just of San Jose de Moro, but the entire cultural heritage in the area. The Mayor of Chepen recently visited the nearby site of Cerro Chepen with police to denounce incursions and eject interlopers trying to grow crops on that site, an unprecedented act by a municipal official that acknowledges the vast potential economic value of the region’s cultural heritage.
Most importantly, local residents now view the site as a valuable economic asset, and the key to sustainable community income, a sea change from its prior attitudes ranging from diffidence to hostility. Destructive practices at the site, such as looting and encroachment from economic development, have come to a halt.Bandurria. Image: Martintoy (Flickr, used under a CC BY-NC 3.0) People Not Stones – 2013 crowdfunding campaign
SPI has just launched its first crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo to raise $49,000 needed for its two newest projects in Bandurria and Chotuna-Chornancap. As with San José de Moro the two sites are home to poor communities and a rich cultural heritage.
Bandurria archaeological site represents the earliest monumental architecture of the Americas, consisting of four pyramids rising to heights of 26 – 40 feet that are nearly 5,500 years old.
Excavations have also revealed ancient homes and a cemetery that belonged to a complex pre-ceramic society that had developed a tradition of reed and rush weaving, a skill used to produce such objects as mats and baskets.
However, Bandurria is also home to an impoverished community of 23 families who are continuing their ancestors’ tradition of reed and rush handicrafts, but are struggling to make ends meet.
They live behind the mounds above and directly over the archaeological remains, which are protected by Peruvian law that prohibits the community from digging and installing such basics as water and electricity.Ornate walls of Chotuna archaeological site: Image: SPI
The current location of their community is also destroying the archaeological site, the very thing that could attract tourists to the area to buy their traditional woven handicrafts.
Chotuna-Chornancap is a stunning 235-acre monumental temple complex where several royal tombs have been discovered, one of which contained the skeletons of 33 women and one recently discovered which contained four corpses that was likely built by an ancient water cult and meant to be flooded.
The project partners with Chotuna’s head of excavations, Carlos Wester La Torre, and invests in the local cotton textile artisans, constructing a facility for artisan training and production as well as a small picnic and sales area for their work near the archaeological site.
The project will also build a store and showroom for these handicrafts in the nearby city of Lambayeque, as well as promotional materials for the site.
Due to the generosity of one of our donors, any donation you make will be matched, doubling your contribution to the project. Please help us empower local communities and at the same time save the sites of Bandurria and Chotuna-Chornancap.You can donate here.
Source: Sustainable Preservation Initiative
- Sustainable Preservation Initiative
- People Not Stones blog
- San José de Moro Archaeological Program
- Human Sacrifice Victims at Chotuna-Chornancap: Multidimensional Reconstruction of Ritual Violence in the Late Pre-Hispanic Lambayeque Valleymore by Haagen Klaus
- Ancient Tomb Built to Flood—Sheds Light on Peru Water Cult?
Sustainable Preservation Initiative. Transforming lives and preserving Peruvian heritage. Past Horizons. February 26, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2013/transforming-lives-and-preserving-peruvian-heritage For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
ON FEBRUARY 26, 1974, a young geologist managed to stretch Australian history by 20,000-odd years when he found 40,000-year-old human remains buried in a dry lake bed in south-western New South Wales.
The discovery, made in the midst of the Aboriginal rights movement would later double the time that Australia’s first humans were thought to have arrived on the continent.
Jim Bowler, now in his 80s, and an Honorary Professor at the University of Melbourne, was with the Australian National University when he came across the remains at Lake Mungo, about 700 km west of Sydney.See on www.australiangeographic.com.au
ON FEBRUARY 26, 1974, a young geologist managed to stretch Australian history by 20,000-odd years when he found 40,000-year-old human remains buried in a dry lake bed in south-western New South Wales.
The discovery, made in the midst of the Aboriginal rights movement – which would quickly intergrate the findings into its slogans – would later double the time that Australia’s first humans were thought to have arrived on the continent.
Jim Bowler, now in his 80s, and an Honorary Professor at the University of Melbourne, was with the Australian National University when he came across the remains at Lake Mungo, about 700 km west of Sydney.
- Amazing find in Dartmoor Bronze Age grave
- Prehistoric origins of skin decoration
- Did overhunting lead to domestication?
- A glimpse into 9,000 years of village life
- Soup making in the Stone Age
- Intact dolmen found in Switzerland
- Ancient rock art under threat in Paraguay
Please note that now your favourite podcast – along with a great deal of additional features – is available also as an app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch on iTunes Store.
By Loren Steffy
The letters nagged at me like a persistent hint from the past. I’d first encountered them among my father’s papers as I researched my book, The Man Who Thought Like a Ship. They pertained to a ship model he’d built in the 1950s of an ancient Egyptian vessel. The model left home before I was born, and everyone, my father included, assumed it had been discarded long ago. I’d only ever seen it in pictures.The model soon after arriving at the Philadelphia Maritime Museum in 1965. Not the clay figures of the crew, which have since crumbled. A pioneer
My father, J. Richard “Dick” Steffy, was a pioneer in nautical archaeology. He developed a method for rebuilding ships from their sunken hull fragments and proved those theories by rebuilding the 2,300-year-old Kyrenia Ship in Cyprus in the early 1970s. He helped found the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 1985.
For the first 25 years of his working life, he was a small-town electrician in central Pennsylvania, and then, without even a bachelor’s degree himself, used his expertise in ship reconstruction to become a professor at Texas A&M University. Today, scores of his former students employ his methods worldwide.
The Egyptian model, though, hearkened to an earlier time, to the early years when my father still spent six days a week wiring factories and the wee hours of his nights building ship models in the basement.Original construction techniques
Using what scant research he could find at the time about Egyptian shipbuilding, he attempted to reproduce with his model the original construction techniques. Each hull plank was about an inch and a half long, reflecting the short trees that the Egyptians used in shipbuilding. They were painstakingly edge-joined, and the entire hull retained its shape from tension applied by a rope truss that ran from stem to stern. The Egyptians used no keels or frames.
In all, the model had 2,000 pieces, and it took him more than 400 hours over 12 years to complete. As he built it, he began to lay the foundations of his new career, formulating the use of models in rebuilding sunken hulls.An example of the model’s joinery.
In 1963, he arranged a meeting with George Bass, who had led the world’s first underwater archaeological dig off the coast of Turkey three years earlier. My father offered to build a model of a Byzantine wreck from the seventh century that Bass had uncovered. To seal the deal, to show his meddle as a modeller, he brought the Egyptian vessel with him to the meeting.
“I had no way of knowing how accurate it was or anything else,” Bass recalled. “It was the first time I’d ever looked at the model of an ancient ship. It wasn’t one of these slick yacht models.”
Nevertheless, Bass was thrilled with the idea of a Byzantine model, and this electrician seemed to know what he was doing. The two would begin a friendship and professional collaboration that would last the rest of their lives.Search for Egyptian model
While my father would embark on one of the world’s more unusual career changes, the Egyptian model seemed to disappear.
No one, least of all my father, spent much time wondering what happened to it. He had little love for his models. Most weren’t built for aesthetics. He saw them as research tools that, once he had learned all he could from them, should be discarded. Because part of their lesson was to show how a ship broke apart when it sank, most didn’t last long. Only three others – including the one of the Byzantine wreck that he agreed to build for Bass – are known to have survived and are on display in museums in Cyprus, Turkey and South Carolina.
Perhaps that’s why I couldn’t get those letters out of my mind. Given the chance to find one of his long-lost works, I decided I had to know for sure what had become of the Egyptian ship. The letters provided a clue.
I got in touch with Cynthia Eiseman, a former student of Bass’s who’s been involved with nautical archaeology for decades. She wrote one of the letters in 1969, while working a summer job at the Philadelphia Maritime Museum. Her letter indicated my father had donated the Egyptian model to the museum, and she was asking what he wanted done with it.
“It was a surprise to hear the model is still in existence as it was not built for display purposes and has led a hard life,” he wrote back. “I would like to see the model on my next trip to the museum to find out why it has not disintegrated because it is basically only held together by the pressure of its own gunwales.”
Eiseman, who still lives in Philadelphia, didn’t remember the exchange or the model, but she offered to help look for it.
A few days later, she called to say she’d found it. It had been sitting for years in the storeroom of the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, which had been searching for a home for it.The Egyptian ship as it is now. In the store room
The museum focuses on the maritime history of Philadelphia. Ancient Egyptian ships fall outside of its mandate, and the museum had “deaccessioned” the model in 1993. Since then, it remained in the store room filled with shelves of ship models and seafaring artwork.
“Given that your dad never kept his models, it’s extraordinary that this one has survived,” Eiseman said.
Fortunately, the museum couldn’t bring itself to part with the ship.
“Museums sometimes have a hard time letting go,” Chief Curator Craig Bruns told me. “Nobody found a proper place for it until you asked. As a curator, I see it as a happy ending.”Independence Seaport Museum Chief Curator Craig Bruns in the museum’s storeroom.
Last summer, I went to Philadelphia and drove the model to Texas, where it will but put on display in INA’s headquarters once a building renovation project is completed later this year.
Bruns provided letters from the museum’s files that filled in a few key details of the model’s history. My father wrote to the museum in 1963 and offered to loan it the model, which he did in the summer of 1965.
While it didn’t fit with the museum’s mission, it was on display there for a time. Bruns gave me a plaque that had accompanied it and included the explanation: “While not a part of Delaware Valley history, it could be considered the `grandfather’ of all sea-going ships.”Transformation from hobbyist to ship expert
It could also be considered the work that best represents my father’s transformation from hobbyist to ship expert.
The model remains in excellent condition. A few of the oars have fallen off and the crude figures my father fashioned to represent the crew have crumbled or broken away. The hull itself though, remains intact, still held to the proper curvature by the rope truss.
“It is an artefact of a discipline that he helped create,” INA Presdient Deborah Carlson said. “As a teaching tool the model will be accessible to students and faculty leading seminars in ancient seafaring and ship construction technology.”
I wonder what my father, with his lack of sentiment for his creations, might say about that. He would be embarrassed by the model — there’s nothing that can be learned from it, he would say — yet if it benefited students, we would probably acquiesce to the display.
In the meantime, the Lost Ship Model waits to complete the last leg of its amazing journey. Sometimes, as I pass the room it’s in, I can’t help but steal there and peek inside its travelling crate. It’s as if my father’s dreams remain there, suspended in a time before they were fulfilled.
Nautical archaeology is now a recognized field of study, thanks to decades of effort by early pioneers like Bass and my father and the students they helped train. It is old enough that the field itself is developing its own history, a way for students who didn’t know the first generation to better understand how they honed their skills.
In a field that studies the past, the long-lost ship model offers a touchstone to its own unique history.More Information
- The Man Who Thought Like a Ship
- A Tribute from George Bass: first published in the Winter 2007/08 issue of The INA Quarterly Volume 34, No. 4
- Institute of Nautical Archaeology
- Independence Seaport Museum
- George F Bass
Loren Steffy. The Man Who Thought Like a Ship. Past Horizons. February 25, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2013/the-man-who-thought-like-a-ship For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
PLEASE NOTE: Add your own commentary here above the horizontal line, but do not make any changes below the line. (Of course, you should also delete this text before you publish this post.)
A bronze tap from a garden fountain, a street sign settling a boundary dispute, a clothes chest, a loaf of bread: some of the objects to survive the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79 heading to the British Museum were so recently excavated that dark volcanic clay still clings to them. Curator Paul Roberts wants his exhibition, which opens next month bringing together for the first time objects from Pompeii and Herculaneum, including many never normally displayed even in Italy, to give a vivid feeling of life, not death, in an ordinary Roman town.
The spectacular loans, including a star exhibit from the archaeology museum in Naples, a famous sculpture from Herculaneum of Pan having sex with a nanny goat, are also intended to generate good publicity for the sites, after damaging reports in recent years. Roberts hopes the exhibition will increase support for the places he has loved and visited, where he is greeted by name by guides and staff on every ancient street corner, since he excavated at Pompeii as a student.
Many archaeologists are as concerned about the future of the sites as their past. Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, former director of the British School in Rome, and author of Herculaneum: Past and Future, has called the damage to Pompeii, including recent building collapses, “a second death”. This month, the European Union promised a €105m conservation fund, and protection to ensure it is not diverted into bureaucracy or corruption.
The tottering Italian economy is hitting funding for both sites, leaving them dangerously dependent on increasing tourist numbers. At Herculaneum, restored buildings remain closed because there aren’t enough staff to guard them – when Roberts recently visited the Suburban Baths, one of the most impressive and intact in the Roman world, tourists literally shook the bars of the locked gate pleading to be allowed in.
At both sites the simplest projects often get bogged down in labyrinthine bureaucracy. The book shops recently closed in a dispute over who should run them, and at Herculaneum, where the only site cafe closed years ago, discussion has continued for the last year over new vending machines for bottled water.
Although Roberts wants his exhibition to evoke life, the shadow of death will lie heavily on it. The little cradle from Herculaneum still sways on its charred rockers. For this baby the world ended in the small hours of 25 August AD79. When the rocker was originally chipped carefully away from the petrified mud, it held a little woollen blanket and tiny bones.
It was originally thought that everybody escaped from Herculaneum, with at least 12 hours’ warning while the ground shook and the sky turned black but in the night the wind changed, the ash cloud collapsed, and a tidal wave of boiling mud and rock poured down the mountain. On a first floor of the main street, near the house where the cradle was found, a pair of charred window shutters still stands ajar as if somebody looked out incredulously at catastrophe overwhelming their town.
When the archaeologists found the ancient shoreline, now half a mile inland, it was littered with bodies. Hundreds, perhaps thousands more will certainly be exposed when the main harbour is eventually discovered.
“If it weren’t for their death, nobody would remember the names of Herculaneum and Pompeii today, certainly no tourist would bother setting foot there,” Roberts concedes. “If they continued as towns at all, the Roman level would have vanished under medieval buildings, with maybe the forum as open space and the odd chunk of a temple preserved in a church. Pompeii would be a nondescript little market town, Herculaneum one of the many outlying villages of Naples.”
The ruins of Pompeii became a marble quarry, but Herculaneum was only rediscovered by two men digging a well in 1720. For decades miners were sent burrowing to recover wonderful marble and bronze statues, frescoes and mosaics, which astonished Europe. Most of Pompeii, easier to excavate, has been uncovered, most of Herculaneum still lies under a cliff of petrified mud up to 25-metres thick, with the modern town perched on top.
For the last decade the Herculaneum Conservation Project, funded by David Packard, co-founder of US firm Hewlett Packard, has worked with the heritage authority, the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei. It had planned to pull out by now after conserving scores of buildings judged fragile or dangerous, and consolidating sites destabilised by earlier excavation.
New finds coming to London including the marble relief revealed when a muddy wall crumbled, and fragments of everyday life right up to the day of the disaster, glass and pottery, jewels and kitchenware, toys and lamps, all found when they scoured out the great Roman sewer to help drain water from the steep site.
The Herculaneum Conservation Project will remain in place for the foreseeable future, and despite the bottled water impasse, is considering an enormous undertaking: a new museum. Meanwhile, spectacular finds including the unique furniture, preserved as charcoal by the boiling mud which vaporised human flesh, will be in Bloomsbury. At Herculaneum they usually rest on the top floor of a deserted museum built in the 1970s and never opened, its glass cases gathering dust, the building judged too poorly designed for use.
It may be blithely ignored by local residents and tourists alike, but the greatest threat to these windows on the ancient world may remain the volcano itself.
In the modern town of Ercolano, washing flutters directly below the slopes of Vesuvius. In AD79 the people knew the mountain well, but after 700 years they had forgotten it could explode, and that earthquakes could be the warning. A little fresco from a garden shrine in Pompeii, coming to the exhibition, shows Vesuvius with the steep peak that was blown away in the eruption. It looks green and tranquil, then and now well overdue its next eruption.
The difference today is the population density, including the traffic choked streets of Naples. A group of international scientists has warned in the journal Nature that the lives of 700,000 people could be at risk.
“My sister is a geologist,” Jane Thompson, an English archaeologist and director of the Herculaneum Conservation Project, said. “She has asked me ‘of all the archaeology sites in all the world, why did you have to come here. Why?’ We don’t forget about Vesuvius.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
catholic guilt first put the British off the idea of eating horses almost 1,500 years ago, archaeologists have concluded.
A new study of the eating habits of the Anglo Saxons suggests that they may have developed a strong distaste for horsemeat because they saw it as a “pagan” food.
The findings, published in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology, could help explain the level of revulsion at the recent revelations that consumers have been eating horsemeat uwittingly.
Evidence from animal bones found at settlement sites across England shows that horses appear to have been eaten on special occasions in the early Anglo Saxon period.read the article on www.telegraph.co.uk
Remains of an industrial installation from the Byzantine period which was used to extract liquid were recently exposed by archaeologists working at Hai Gaon Street, Tel Aviv, Israel.Alcoholic beverage production
Installations such as these are usually identified as wine presses for producing wine from grapes, and it is also possible they were used to produce wine or alcoholic beverage from other types of fruit that grew in the region.
Jaffa’s rich and diverse agricultural tradition has a history thousands of years old beginning with references to the city and its fertile fields in ancient Egyptian documents up until Jaffa’s orchards in the Ottoman period.
According to Dr. Yoav Arbel, director of the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority:
“This is the first important building from the Byzantine period to be uncovered in this part of the city. The fact that the installation is located relatively far from Tel Jaffa adds a significant dimension to our knowledge about the impressive agricultural distribution in the region in this period.
The installation, which probably dates to the second half of the Byzantine period (sixth century – early seventh century CE), is divided into surfaces paved with a white industrial mosaic. Due to the mosaic’s impermeability such surfaces are commonly found in the press installations of the period which were used to extract liquid. Each unit was connected to a plastered collecting vat.
The pressing was performed on the mosaic surfaces whereupon the liquid drained into the vats. It is possible that the section that was discovered represents a relatively small part of the overall installation, and other elements of it are likely to be revealed in archaeological excavations along adjacent streets which are expected to take place later this year”.
Preservation in situ
Upon completion of the excavation the installation was covered over, and new infrastructures were laid in place above it without damaging it, thereby enabling the continued work on the infrastructure without compromising the preservation of the antiquities for future generations.
The infrastructure development was preceded by the Israel Antiquities Authority excavations because the region is an official, declared antiquities site. As was the case with antiquities that were previously uncovered, this project also reflects the cooperation and balance between the historical archaeological finds and their preservation on the one hand and the necessary development of the city on the other.
Source: Israel Antiquities AuthorityMore Information
Israel Antiquities Authority. Byzantine wine press found in Israel. Past Horizons. February 23, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2013/Byzantine wine presses a reminder of Jaffa’s rich agricultural past For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
Caithness, in the far northern mainland of Scotland is well known for its spectacular archaeology but a recent LiDAR survey carried in the north of the county has allowed the opportunity to glimpse the wider, hidden landscapes that are less easily appreciated. This survey is beginning to rewrite the history of northern mainland Scotland.
In response to a requirement to record the landscape surrounding the nationally significant cluster of Neolithic chambered cairns at Hill of Shebster, Baillie Windfarm Ltd. commissioned AOC Archaeology Group to carry out a LiDAR survey, the result was stunning and they decided to create a new website to let people explore the ancient landscape hidden beneath fields and woodland in north-west Caithness.
The main focus of the survey was Cnoc Freiceadain, a prominent ridge which is the site of a spectacular group of Neolithic monuments including two long cairns and a series of stone settings.
The 21-turbine project at Baillie Hill, west of Thurso, was granted permission subject to a number of conditions, one of which was to improve public access to the Hill of Shebster and Cnoc Freicedain scheduled ancient monuments, incorporating the results of a LiDAR laser scanning survey.A palimpsest of landscapes through time at Broubster. Image: AOC Archaeology Group A billion individual points
LiDAR – which stands for ‘Light Detection and Ranging’ – works by illuminating the ground with laser light and analysing the backscattered light. Modern scanners can fire thousands of laser pulses per second, and by mounting the instrument on an aircraft, large areas can be covered in high resolution in short spaces of time.
Nearly a billion points were collected during the recent LiDAR survey. Once the raw data was gathered it was processed to create very high-resolution elevation models, detailed enough to record field boundaries, walls and ancient monuments – giving an unparalleled view of the archaeology in the area. Features that are difficult to distinguish on the ground or even through aerial photography can be identified by overlaying hillshades of the DEM model created with artificial illumination from various angles, as with this example.
With LiDAR the ability to produce high-resolution datasets quickly and relatively cheaply is a massive advantage and the ability to penetrate forest canopy has led to the discovery of features that were not distinguishable through traditional methods.Over 300 new sites
As well as providing spectacular new images of the previously-known monuments around Cnoc Freiceadain the survey has so far revealed over 300 new sites.
The most prominent archaeological features detected by the survey relate to settlement and agriculture dating to around 3000 years ago on one hand, and to post-medieval farming on the other. In many areas, the survey has allowed the identification of palimpsests of agriculture and settlement, where medieval and later rig and furrow systems overlie much earlier cairnfields, interspersed with the fragmentary remains of 3000 year old hut-circles and associated enclosures.
Archaeologist Andy Heald from AOC Archaeology Group said the survey was the first of its kind in the far north of mainland Scotland.
Sites include Sithean Dubh, a chambered cairn where in 1831 it was said two skeletons of “gigantic size” were found.Campster Cairns, Caithness . Image: AOC Archaeology Group An opportunity for exploration
This ground-breaking survey offers an unparalleled opportunity for further study of the development of the modern Caithness landscape.
It becomes clear from the LiDAR survey that reanalysis of large parts of Highland Scotland is likely to produce numerous new monuments, and fragments of the prehistoric farming landscape may still remain beneath areas of later activity but unrecognised until this form of survey allows us to view the landscape as a 3D model.
The dataset, therefore, constitutes an invaluable research tool and an unparalleled means of preserving the landscape of 21st century Caithness by record and provides another tool for archaeological research.
One of the main aims of the project was to present the results of the Baillie survey online, in a format that allows different users to explore the data, identify features of interest and explore monuments that are familiar to them.
A dedicated website which showcases the survey results has been produced, linked to the Highland Council’s Historic Environment Record and gives visitors a ‘virtual tour’ of Caithness archaeology.
The website provides information that illustrates the time depth of the land use over thousands of years and becomes a unique window onto Caithness’s past, acting as a valuable resource for archaeological research and interested visitors alike. The archaeologists are already working on the next project to open up data recovered from projects such as this to citizen scientists across the globe.
You can access the web resource and begin your exploration here at www.aocarchaeology.com/Baillie
Source: AOC Archaeology GroupMore Information
- AOC Archaeology Group
- Caithness Archaeological Trust
- The information contained within A Window on Caithness’ Past was gathered during a LiDAR survey funded by Baillie Windfarm Limited.
AOC Archaeology Group. Hidden Landscapes: LiDAR survey allows public to discover new sites. Past Horizons. February 21, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2013/hidden-landscapes-lidar-survey-allows-public-to-discover-new-sites For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
A new study examining upper Palaeolithic burial practices in Eurasia shows they varied widely, as some graves were filled with a large number of personal and ritual items while the vast majority were fairly simple.No simple answer
“We don’t know why some of these burials were so ornate, but what’s striking is that they postdate the arrival of modern humans in Eurasia by almost 10,000 years,” said Julien Riel-Salvatore, Ph.D., assistant professor of anthropology at University of Colorado Denver, and lead author of the study. “When they appear around 30,000 years ago some are lavish but many aren’t and over time the most elaborate ones almost disappear. So, the behaviour of humans does not always go from simple to complex; it often waxes and wanes in terms of its complexity depending on the conditions people live under.”
The study, re-examined 85 burials from the Upper Palaeolithic period, found that male burials were more common that female, and infants were rare, if present at all in later periods, a difference that could perhaps be related to changes in subsistence and climate.
The research highlighted the few known ornate burials in Russia, Italy and the Czech Republic that stretch back nearly 30,000 years are anomalies, and rather than the rule are the exception. They therefore cannot be seen as representative of the earliest Homo sapiens burial practices in Eurasia, although they are the most visible in the modern perception of Upper Palaeolithic burial.Photograph of the Palaeolithic Skeleton discovered in the Fifth Cave in the Rochers Rouges, near Mentone, on January 12, 1894. Reproduced by the kind permission of M. Bertrand, Mentone. Making sense of ritual with a limited dataset
In addition to this, Riel-Salvatore highlights the greatest problem in trying to make sense of the burial rituals as a whole, “The problem with these burials is they are so rare – there’s just over three per thousand years for all of Eurasia – so it becomes difficult to draw any clear conclusions about what they meant to their societies.”
In fact, the majority of the burials were fairly plain and included mostly items of daily life as opposed to ornate burial goods. In that way, many were similar to Neanderthal graves.
Both early humans and Neanderthals put bodies into pits sometimes with household items. During the Upper Palaeolithic, this included ornaments worn by the deceased while they were alive. When present, ornaments of stone, teeth and shells are often found on the heads and torsos of the dead rather than the lower body, consistent with how they were likely worn in life.
“Some researchers have used burial practices to try and separate modern humans from Neanderthals,” said Riel-Salvatore. “But we are challenging the orthodoxy that all modern human burials were necessarily more sophisticated than those of Neanderthals.”Shanidar Neanderthals Burial. Image: JohnConnell, Flickr Symbolic behaviour
Many scientists believe that the capacity for symbolic behaviour separates humans from Neanderthals, who disappeared about 35,000 years ago.
“It’s thought to be an expression of abstract thinking” Riel-Salvatore said. “But as research progresses we are finding evidence that Neanderthals engaged in practices generally considered characteristic of modern humans.”
Riel-Salvatore is an expert on early modern humans and Neanderthals. His last study proposed that, contrary to popular belief, early humans didn’t wipe out Neanderthals but interbred with them, swamping them genetically. Another of his studies demonstrated that Neanderthals in southern Italy adapted, innovated and created technology before contact with modern humans, something previously considered unlikely.
This latest study, “Upper Paleolithic mortuary practices in Eurasia: A critical look at the burial record” co-authored with Claudine Gravel-Miguel (Arizona State University), will be published in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial in April.
The book reveals intriguing variation in early human burial customs between 10,000 and 35,000 years ago. And this study raises the question of why there was so much variability in early human burial practices.
“There seems to be little rhyme or reason to it,” Riel-Salvatore said. “The main point here is that we need to be careful of using exceptional examples of ornate burials to characterize Upper Palaeolithic burial practices as a whole.”
Source: University of Colorado DenverMore Information
- Julien Riel‐Salvatore and Geoffrey A. Clark (2011) Middle and Early Upper Paleolithic burials and the use of chronotypology in contemporary Paleolithic research, Current Anthropology, Vol. 42, No. 4 (August/October 2001), pp. 449-479 Published by:The University of Chicago Press on behalf of Wenner-Gren Foundation for AnthropologicalResearch
- Karen Ann Watson, 1970, Neanderthal and Upper Palaeolithic Burial Patterns: A Re-examination, TAJA, Volume 7, Issue 4 – pp302-306, article first published online: 10 FEB 2009
- Giacomo Giacobini, 2007, Richness and Diversity of Burial Rituals in the Upper Paleolithic Diogenes 54(2):19-39
- The Palaeolithic Origins of Human Burial – Paul Pettitt
University of Colorado Denver. Upper Palaeolithic burials no more sophisticated than Neanderthals. Past Horizons. February, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2013/upper-palaeolithic-burials-no-more-sophisticated-than-neanderthals For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
cyber-archaeology is the marriage of the latest developments in computer science and engineering with archaeology.
Digital advances are enabling archaeologists, traditionally experimenters and early adopters of new technologies, to use ever more powerful and portable devices to collect and analyse vast amounts of information from the cultural and natural environment.
Simultaneously, rapid economic development, regional conflict and population growth have increased the threat of damage and destruction to global archaeological resources. The recent partnership between the University of California, San Diego-California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology (UCSD-Calit2), the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) and the Department of Antiquities of Jordan in the Petra Archaeological Park represents a case study in how cyber-archaeology can contribute to both conservation and research goals of different stake-holders.
Read the full article on antiquity.ac.uk
The story started in January 2011, when Paige Glenen and Katie Urban made an incredible discovery in storage rooms at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. The pair found box after box of artefacts labelled simply as “Old World Roman.”Roman Terra Sigillata c. 200 CE — Ubaid period pottery c. 5900-4000 B.C.E. – reference card found with the collection Inside Roman pots
At first they were excited at the prospect that two Classical archaeologists in Canada had a collection of Roman artefacts they could handle and explore, but then events took a remarkable turn.
It soon became very apparent that there was more to the story than they had originally thought as most of the boxes contained artefacts that were most definitely not Roman in origin; but where were they from, who found them, and more importantly – what were they?
There were some largely complete, or almost complete Roman pots stuffed with yellowed newsprint, but when they started to remove this stuffing they began to find many more small artefacts, pots, figurines and two cone-shaped clay pieces covered with cuneiform writing.Gudean foundation cone, Mesopotamia (Gudea was a Sumerian ruler who reigned between 2140-2120 B.C) Mystery collection
Now able to examine these new items, they were able to determine that the majority of the artefacts were Mesopotamian in origin and belonged to the archaeological site of Ur (in modern southern Iraq). The bulk of the collection dated to between c. 5900 – 2000 B.C.E.
The Lost Collections of the Ancient World is now available online where you can learn much more about the discovery.
Source: Katie Urban and Paige GlenenMore Information
- newmuseumkat ~ Culture Is Our Past, Present and Future
Lost Collections of the Ancient World. Past Horizons.February, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2013/lost-collections-of-the-ancient-world For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
Offerings in the ancient Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlán (now in modern Mexico City) have been linked to the cycle of the agricultural seasons and involved human sacrifice to Quilaztli Cihuacóatl, one of the Aztec goddesses of earth and fertility.Fray Diego Durán, Aztecs: The History of the Indies of New Spain. Sacrifice of children. Image: INAH Ritual deposits
Two 500 year old ritual depositions were located at the corner of the platform north of Templo Mayor and consisted of various artefacts, including human skulls and polychrome pots and were the subject of a presentation in Mexico City this month.
According to the archaeologist Diego Jimenez Badilla, a researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), these offerings “were part of a ritual in which Tenochca returns fertility to the land, in exchange for these offerings at each harvest. Such offerings were made to the land via the earth and fertility goddess. “
The practice was discussed by the specialist at a recent conference in honour of the thirty-fifth anniversary of the discovery of the disc monolith on the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui, now in the Museo del Templo Mayor (MTM ).
Both offerings (No. 22 and No.58) were discovered in 1979 and 1980, on a floor level corresponding to the construction of Templo Mayor between 1469-1481 CE and in interpreting these elements together, he commented that “nothing is arranged in an offering by chance, everything has a reason.”Saw toothed snout of the sawfish or Carpenter Shark. Image: INAH Offerings linked to the land
During the presentation, the archaeologist explained the relationship of these offerings to the goddess Cihuacóatl Hispanic-Quilaztli, a mother earth deity related to fertility, and how the meaning of each element of the offerings were linked to the agricultural cycle.
The two offerings consist of a sawfish toothed snout, clay models of cranial deformation cradles, a fragmented mask made with a human skull and a pot with the effigy of the deity of fertility. In addition was the skull of a child who has been ritually sacrificed as well as several turtle shells, sea shells and hundreds of green stones.
Diego explained that each of these objects is directly related to the germination of corn. “The ceramic effigy (see main image) wears a garland of marigolds that still retains traces of yellow paint and there are symbols regarded as blue clouds, as well as bun-feature on the figurine’s headdress that resemble ears of corn.”
Contemporary writers of the sixteenth century, such as the friars Diego Duran and Sahagun, mentioned that in certain ceremonies called titl, a young maiden dressed in the garb of the goddess Cihuacóatl-Quilaztli was beheaded with a sawfish blade – the Aztec called acipactli, meaning ‘instrument of sacrifice’, in order to bring about germination of the corn fields.
All these elements; acipactliand; young decapitated skulls and effigy of the goddess Cihuacóatl-Quilaztli were found in the offerings.
The young girl was aged 14 – 16 years old when she was sacrificed, maybe dressed as the deity herself, as they found adornments that are characteristic of the goddess such as earrings and a necklace of seven snails, alluding to the seven ears of corn borne by Cihuacóatl Quilaztli.Offerings from Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan included human sacrifice to Quilaztli Cihuacóatl, and model cradles designed for cranial deformation. Image: INAH Cranial deformation cradles
Diego also remarked that crib deformation models relate to a myth narrated by the Friar Diego Durán in the late 16th century, in which he says “..when the earth goddess believed that the sacrifices in her honour were sufficient she would come to Tlatelolco market carrying a wooden cradle with an infant strapped within, promising to return soon.”
“When she did not return for the child, those watching the cradle found an obsidian knife instead of an infant, which was interpreted by the population as a requirement , by the goddess for more human sacrifices. “
Jimenez Badillo explained that these strapped cradles were used during the first weeks after birth, with the intention of creating skull deformations for which they tied cloths on the forehead to generate pressure.
Finally, the researcher explained how the snails, shells, mother of pearl and hundreds of green stones, symbolised the cold water environment of the underworld where the earth deities lived, so the Aztecs tried to reproduce this space within the offering.
Source: INAHMore Information
- Museo del Templo Mayor
- National Institute of Anthropology and History
-  Fray Diego Durán, 1581, The History of the Indies of New Spain, University of Oklahoma Press, 1994
INAH. Aztec sacrifices at Tenochtitlán . Past Horizons. February 20, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2013/aztec-sacrifices-at-tenochtitlan For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
The Karnak Great Hypostyle Hall Project is a joint endeavor of the University of Memphis, in Memphis, Tennessee (U.S.A.), and the Université de Québec à Montréal (Canada). We work in cooperation with Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Centre Franco-égyptien d’études des temples de Karnak (France). For more information contact the Project Director Dr. Peter J. Brand.
David Connolly‘s insight:
Enjoy this website and get lost in it’s grandeur!
See on www.memphis.edu
A 4,000 year old treasure of golden objects that was stolen on a dark night in March 2009.
The remarkable tale of the Coggalbeg hoard. This story begins in March 1945 when a Roscommon farmer, Mr Hubert Lannon, was cutting turf on his bog in the west of Ireland. As he sliced through the dark peaty soil a flash of gold suddenly caught his eye. Bending down for a closer inspection he slowly uncovered a hoard of golden treasure. It consisted of a beautiful gold lunula and two gold discs, which had lain hidden in the depths of the bog for over 4,000 years. Hubert carefully gathered the precious items together and then brought them home for safe keeping.
An item of great prestige it was probably originally worn around the neck. Lunulae, such as this one, appear to be a distinctively insular form of jewellery, with the vast majority of the 100 or so known examples coming from Ireland. They are a striking testament to the metal working skills of our Early Bronze Age ancestors.
Read the full article on irisharchaeology.ie
Researcher Ingrid Ystgaard from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has studied the weapons found in graves and examined the battle techniques they would best suit during the important transition from the early to the late Iron Age in Norway around 500 AD.A time of conflict
The Western Roman Empire was collapsing, and warfare engulfed Europe, major alliances were splintered and smaller bands of men started vying with one another. Ystgaard feels it may be significant that the battle axe became a favoured weapon during this time.
Ystgaard also studied the simple stone fortifications (Bygdeborgen ) built for protection on hilltops or other sites that were easy to defend. Relatively common, they were maintained between 400 AD to 600 AD and then, over the course of a single generation, abandoned and left to crumble.
The researcher wondered why people gave up fortifications that had been used for more than six generations and feels she has found one answer in some 100 weapon graves in mid-Norway dating to this turbulent and violent period.
“The Roman Empire’s weapon technology and warfare set the standards not just in the Empire and its provinces, but also here, in free Germania and up through Scandinavia. The arms we find until the 500s are a Germanic adaptation of Roman legionnaire equipment,” explains Ystgaard.
But this was set to change.<To read the full article in ScienceNordic – click here>
Two barriers were made by the Romans to mark the extremes of their north-westerly frontier zone: Hadrian’s wall, built around AD 122 between the Solway firth and the Tyne; and the Antonine wall, built in the early AD 140s between the firths of Clyde and Forth.
Scholars still debate what, precisely, these walls were for: the notion that they were simply there to keep at bay incursions from the north has now given way to the idea that they were more concerned with movement control and sheer propaganda value – hulking great edifices of turf and stone, emitting power. The Antonine wall was in use for just a couple of decades: many have adduced its building to Antoninus Pius’s desire for an achievable victory to shore up his military credentials early in his reign. Hadrian’s wall, used for much longer, has been ascribed to this emperor’s policy of imperial consolidation and demarcation rather than expansion.
It is in the walls’ existences beyond the end of Roman rule in Britain, though, that Lawrence Keppie and Richard Hingley are primarily interested. How did these monuments come to be rediscovered? What did they mean to those who encountered them? How did they survive? What has been lost? For Hingley, writing in Hadrian’s Wall: A Life (416pp, Oxford, £75), Hadrian’s wall was in the mind of Michael Drayton when he conjured the personified Picts’ wall in Poly-Olbion, a poetical work of 1622 that described the regions of England and Wales. (The wall became Hadrian’s with firmness only in the mid-19th century.) The character “Pictswall” also appears in an accompanying engraving, reclining in the landscape with the wall in his venerable hand. Hadrian’s wall is a living thing, Hingley argues.
The two walls present different characters to the visitor. These days, Hadrian’s has its own designated footpath, its own branding (“Hadrian’s Wall Country“); and its own bus service. It has become a popular destination for walkers; the rural central section, which teeters dramatically along the edge of the volcanic Whin Sill, is one of the most beautiful tracts of land in England. It has not always been so admired, nor so safe: when William Camden, the great humanist antiquary, went there in 1599, this “debatable land” between Scotland and England was so lawless that he “could not with safety take the full survey of it for the ranke robbers there about”. And when the writer William Hutton walked along it in 1801, he recorded: “A more dreary country than this in which I now am, can scarcely be conceived. I do not wonder it shocked Camden. The country itself would frighten.”
The Antonine wall, often running through suburbs and sprawl, lacks the romance of its southern cousin – and is less obviously well-preserved. (Built in turf rather than stone, the wall’s surviving trace is most frequently its accompanying ditch. Though often it’s no more than a dip in a field, it has many moments of beauty and drama at spots such as at Bar Hill and Rough Castle.) But its history is no less rich and fascinating than that of its southerly cousin’s.
In the 18th century, it found itself caught up in the nascent industrial revolution. The gentry on whose lands it stood – some of whom were important antiquaries, collecting and preserving the inscribed stones that were found along it – were beginning to make serious money from coal and steel. Keppie points out that in some cases it was the same scholars who came to study the wall who also developed bright ideas about a canal that could usefully link the Forth and the Clyde: when the canal was built, it cut through parts of the wall, as did, in turn, the Edinburgh-Glasgow railway and the M9. These interventions destroyed but they also revealed. In the 1890s, antiquary John Buchanan saw “an entire mass of broken stones mingled with fragments of pottery” exposed when the railway line was cut through Castlecary fort.
For all the destruction – and as recently as the early 20th century lengths of Hadrian’s wall were lost to quarrying – there has also been preservation, scholarly study, even reconstruction. Hingley writes of the 19th-century Newcastle antiquary John Clayton, who bought as much as he could of the land through which Hadrian’s wall ran, and rebuilt tracts of it. The walls, as both these works powerfully communicate, are in a state of constant flux – sometimes giving up more of their secrets, sometimes showing us a different face, always allowing us to invoke them as mirrors for our own concerns and anxieties. When Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Ardoch, a fort north of the Antonine wall in Perthshire, the queen stayed in her carriage. Albert got out and took the tour. Afterwards, Keppie writes, he mused on the fort. It was, he decided, an “interesting memorial of the ‘Mother of Dead Empires’”.
• Charlotte Higgins’s Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain will be published by Jonathan Cape in June. The Antiquarian Rediscovery of the Antonine Wall by Lawrence Keppie is published by The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (176pp, £30); Hadrian’s Wall: A Life by Richard Hingley is published by Oxford University Press (416pp, £75).
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
A team of archaeologists from the University of York are to travel to the roof of the world to discover, survey, and record mountain archaeology in the Nepalese Himalayas.
The Himalayan Exploration and Archaeological Research Team (HEART) will spend four weeks documenting high-altitude artefact scatters, rock shelters and formerly inhabited hand-cut cave systems that were used either as settlements and/or tombs dating back to the 3rd century BC.Despite the challenging terrain and remote living conditions, this lama hermitage is built into a rock face nearly 4000m up, and is still occupied. Image: University of York Piecing together the prehistory of the Himalayas
The five-strong team, led by Dr Hayley Saul, of the Department of Archaeology at York, will be based in the Mustang valley in the Annapurna massif where they will use digital 3D imaging to survey and record the features as part of a new initiative to piece together the prehistory of the high Himalayas.
They will also trace the way mountain cultures have occupied and adapted to the landscape through time, seeking to set Himalayan archaeology in a broader global framework. This will include the role of the region in the development of the domestic cultivation of rice, a historical perspective on mountain resource exploitation, and the spread of Buddhism.
Dr Saul says: “Despite the fact that a lot of important processes, such as the domestication and movements of many plants, converge on this area very little is known about its pre-history.”Many archaeological remains well preserved
Following a reconnaissance expedition in 2011, she realised that many archaeological remains in the dessicated environment of the high mountains while well-preserved, remain unrecorded and undated.
Dr Saul adds: “There is potential that these remains could contribute hugely to our understanding of significant prehistoric events. We shall keep interference of remains to a minimum and seek to involve local people in our work.”
The HEART team comprises Dr Cath Neal and Dr Suzi Richer of the Department of Archaeology at York, and York Archaeology graduates Jim Williams and James Kilroy. You can follow their progress on Facebook.Working with charities
As well as the archaeological investigations, the team is working in association with a charity Community Action Nepal, which was founded by the mountaineer Doug Scott, to develop heritage-based initiatives to stimulate local economies in the mountains.
They aim to work with Community Action Nepal and NGOs to use archaeological fieldwork and heritage as a vehicle to stimulate positive economic development and to create a repository of mountain peoples’ heritage, with an accessible digital archive. They also plan to promote modern Himalayan arts and crafts in the UK.Exhibiting archaeology and art
HEART plans to stage an exhibition of archaeology and Nepalese art, including indigenous crafts and Tibetan Thanka art, in York and London in autumn 2013. The exhibition will also include artwork from children based at the Bahrabise school for the deaf. All profits go to Thanka art schools in Kathmandu and Bahrabise.
The York exhibition will coincide with a lecture in the city by Doug Scott on his mountaineering exploits including his first ascent of the south-west face of Everest.
At the conclusion of the research project, Dr Saul will visit schools in the Helambu region to teach archaeology. She will also visit monuments in Langtang, including a 500 year old gompa , a Buddhist monastery, which are in need of conservation.
Source: The University of York
The University of York. Archaeologists to survey and record prehistoric Himalayas. Past Horizons. February, 19, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2013/archaeologists-to-survey-and-record-prehistoric-himalayas For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
A rare and “amazing” burial discovery dating back 4,000 years has been described as the most significant find on Dartmoor and has given archaeologists a glimpse into the lives of the people who once lived there.
The discovery of a bronze age granite cist, or grave, in 2011 in a peat bog on White Horse Hill revealed the first organic remains found on the moor and a hoard of about 150 beads.
As the National Park’s archaeologists levered off the lid they were shocked by what lay beneath.
The park’s chief archaeologist, Jane Marchand, said: “Much to our surprise we actually found an intact cremation deposit [human bones] which is actually a burial alongside a number of grave goods.
See on www.bbc.co.uk
- Support Us