Siberia’s Spaso-Zashiverskaya

Archaeology News - January 2, 2015

NOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA—Spaso-Zashiverskaya, originally built in 1700 in the town of Zashiversk, was a center for the Christianization of the people who lived near Siberia’s Indigirka River. The town became an administrative and trade center until 1803, when the fur trade declined. A smallpox outbreak in 1840 killed all but one of the town’s remaining settlers. In the 1940s, the top of the church’s belfry collapsed, but archaeologist Alexey Okladnikov described the church in 1969 as a “splendor,” according to The Siberian Times. The timber church was disassembled in 1971, and stored until the late 1980s, when it was reassembled at an open-air museum at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk. 

Categories: Blog

Medieval Hoard Discovered Beneath Russian Museum

Archaeology News - December 31, 2014

TVER, RUSSIA—During excavations conducted in conjunction with the restoration of the Tver State Museum in western Russia, archaeologists discovered a medieval silver hoard lying just six feet below the office of the museum's general director. Buried in a small hole covered with ceramics sometime during the Mongol invasions of the mid-thirteenth century, the hoard contained silver headdresses, chains, beads, and pendants, among other items. According to RU Facts, archaeologists believe the jewelry may have belonged to a Tver noblewoman who died in the assault on the city or was otherwise unable to retrieve her precious cache. The hoard narrowly missed being discovered in the fifteenth century, when the area on which the museum now sits was leveled and workers may have come within less than five inches of the jewlery. To read about another recently unearthed cache, see "Viking Hoard Unearthed in Scotland."

Categories: Blog

Medieval Hoard Discovered Beneath Russian Museum

Archaeology News - December 31, 2014

TVER, RUSSIA—During excavations conducted in conjunction with the restoration of the Tver State Museum in western Russia, archaeologists discovered a medieval silver hoard lying just six feet below the office of the museum's general director. Buried in a small hole covered with ceramics sometime during the Mongol invasions of the mid-thirteenth century, the hoard contained silver headdresses, chains, beads, and pendants, among other items. According to RU Facts, archaeologists believe the jewelry may have belonged to a Tver noblewoman who died in the assault on the city or was otherwise unable to retrieve her precious cache. The hoard narrowly missed being discovered in the fifteenth century, when the area on which the museum now sits was leveled and workers may have come within less than five inches of the jewlery. To read about another recently unearthed cache, see "Viking Hoard Unearthed in Scotland."

Categories: Blog

Norwegian Vikings Among the First to Raid British Isles

Archaeology News - December 31, 2014

TRONDHEIM, NORWAY—A new examination of ninth-century A.D. burial sites in the central Norwegian region of Trøndelag has revealed they contain many more artifacts from Britain, such as brooches, drinking horns, and swords, than had been previously believed. “These graves are some of the earliest proof that we have of contact between Norway and the British Isles,” archaeologist Aina Margrethe Heen Pettersen told Science Nordic. She argues that Vikings from Trøndelag were among the first to voyage across the North Sea, and emphasizes that they were not simply bent on raiding. “Contact with the Anglo-Saxons means more than just violent pillaging. Drinking horns and swords are considered to be gifts in support of alliances. And scales that have been found suggest that there was trading between the Vikings and the people of the British Isles at the time.” To read in-depth about some of the earliest Viking raids, see "The First Vikings."

Categories: Blog

Norwegian Vikings Among the First to Raid British Isles

Archaeology News - December 31, 2014

TRONDHEIM, NORWAY—A new examination of ninth-century A.D. burial sites in the central Norwegian region of Trøndelag has revealed they contain many more artifacts from Britain, such as brooches, drinking horns, and swords, than had been previously believed. “These graves are some of the earliest proof that we have of contact between Norway and the British Isles,” archaeologist Aina Margrethe Heen Pettersen told Science Nordic. She argues that Vikings from Trøndelag were among the first to voyage across the North Sea, and emphasizes that they were not simply bent on raiding. “Contact with the Anglo-Saxons means more than just violent pillaging. Drinking horns and swords are considered to be gifts in support of alliances. And scales that have been found suggest that there was trading between the Vikings and the people of the British Isles at the time.” To read in-depth about some of the earliest Viking raids, see "The First Vikings."

Categories: Blog

Antiquities Thief Arrested in Israel

Archaeology News - December 31, 2014

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—Israeli Border Police caught a man with a metal detector and digging implements at the Roman and Byzantine-era town Khribat Marmita. A search of the man's home by Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) inspectors yielded over 800 illegally excavated coins from the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman eras, as well as seals and bronze necklaces. Eitan Klein, deputy head of the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery told The Times of Israel that the man is one of over 100 looters apprehended in 2014 by the IAA and that the coins he removed now have no scientific value. “Disconnecting the coin from an archaeological site is irreversible damage,” said Klein, “which doesn’t allow a restoration of the data, and effectively erases a whole chapter of history from an archaeological site.” To read about a scientifically excavated coin, see "Rare Coin Discovered in Israel."

Categories: Blog

Antiquities Thief Arrested in Israel

Archaeology News - December 31, 2014

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—Israeli Border Police caught a man with a metal detector and digging implements at the Roman and Byzantine-era town Khribat Marmita. A search of the man's home by Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) inspectors yielded over 800 illegally excavated coins from the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman eras, as well as seals and bronze necklaces. Eitan Klein, deputy head of the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery told The Times of Israel that the man is one of over 100 looters apprehended in 2014 by the IAA and that the coins he removed now have no scientific value. “Disconnecting the coin from an archaeological site is irreversible damage,” said Klein, “which doesn’t allow a restoration of the data, and effectively erases a whole chapter of history from an archaeological site.” To read about a scientifically excavated coin, see "Rare Coin Discovered in Israel."

Categories: Blog

Two Large Buildings Discovered in Agora at Nea Paphos

Archaeology News - December 30, 2014

KRAKOW, POLAND—Traces of two large public buildings have been found in Nea Paphos, an ancient city founded in Cyprus at the end of the fourth century B.C. “One of them was probably a temple, the other probably served as a warehouse. Both were very well built,” Ewdoksia Papuci-Wladyka of Jagiellonian University told Science & Scholarship in Poland. The buildings are in the city’s agora, or central gathering place. An ancient well was found at its eastern entrance. “When the well was no longer in use, it served as the trash: it was mainly filled with broken vessels and kitchenware. Inside we also found fragments of statues and coins,” she said. The vessels, many decorated with red, glossy surface slips, date to the Hellenistic period. “They testify to the wealth of the residents of Paphos.” For more on the archaeology of ancient Greek agoras, see "Attention Shoppers."

Categories: Blog

Two Large Buildings Discovered in Agora at Nea Paphos

Archaeology News - December 30, 2014

KRAKOW, POLAND—Traces of two large public buildings have been found in Nea Paphos, an ancient city founded in Cyprus at the end of the fourth century B.C. “One of them was probably a temple, the other probably served as a warehouse. Both were very well built,” Ewdoksia Papuci-Wladyka of Jagiellonian University told Science & Scholarship in Poland. The buildings are in the city’s agora, or central gathering place. An ancient well was found at its eastern entrance. “When the well was no longer in use, it served as the trash: it was mainly filled with broken vessels and kitchenware. Inside we also found fragments of statues and coins,” she said. The vessels, many decorated with red, glossy surface slips, date to the Hellenistic period. “They testify to the wealth of the residents of Paphos.”

Categories: Blog

Remains May Be Irish Children Who Died in Wreck of Coffin Ship

Archaeology News - December 30, 2014

MONTREAL, CANADA—Human bones eroded and recovered from a beach on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula have been described as three European children suffering from malnutrition. Parks Canada archaeologists think the children may have died in the 1847 wreck of the Carricks, a ship carrying immigrants fleeing the famine in Ireland. An estimated 100 bodies washed ashore after the ship sank in a violent storm and were buried in a mass grave thought to be located in the area where the bones were found. Two of the children were between the ages of seven and nine. The third child was between 11 or 12 years of age. One of the children suffered from rickets, a condition caused by vitamin D deficiency. Analysis of tooth enamel indicates that the children ate a plant-based diet in Europe. A button from the site has also been traced to nineteenth-century Europe. “They are witnesses to a tragic event. You can’t have a more tangible witness to tragedy than human remains,” Parks Canada archaeologist Pierre Cloutier told The Globe and Mail. To read about another discovery dating to the era of the Great Famine, see "Mass Graves Found at Irish Prison Site."

Categories: Blog

Remains May Be Irish Children Who Died in Wreck of Coffin Ship

Archaeology News - December 30, 2014

MONTREAL, CANADA—Human bones eroded and recovered from a beach on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula have been described as three European children suffering from malnutrition. Parks Canada archaeologists think the children may have died in the 1847 wreck of the Carricks, a ship carrying immigrants fleeing the famine in Ireland. An estimated 100 bodies washed ashore after the ship sank in a violent storm and were buried in a mass grave thought to be located in the area where the bones were found. Two of the children were between the ages of seven and nine. The third child was between 11 or 12 years of age. One of the children suffered from rickets, a condition caused by vitamin D deficiency. Analysis of tooth enamel indicates that the children ate a plant-based diet in Europe. A button from the site has also been traced to nineteenth-century Europe. “They are witnesses to a tragic event. You can’t have a more tangible witness to tragedy than human remains,” Parks Canada archaeologist Pierre Cloutier told The Globe and Mail. To read about another discovery dating to the era of the Great Famine, see "Mass Graves Found at Irish Prison Site."

Categories: Blog

Large Underground City Discovered in Turkey

Archaeology News - December 30, 2014

NEVŞEHIR, TURKEY—An underground city estimated to be 5,000 years old has been discovered in Turkey’s Central Anatolian province, surrounding Nevşehir fortress, which sits on a conical-shaped hill. The area was being prepared by the Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) for an urban transformation project. “It is not a known underground city. Tunnel passages of seven kilometers are being discussed. We stopped the construction we were planning to do on these areas when an underground city was discovered,” TOKİ Head Mehmet Ergün Turan told Hurriet Daily News. This city is thought to be much larger than other underground cities in the region. “We believe that people, who were engaged in agriculture, were using the tunnels to carry agricultural products to the city. We also estimate that one of the tunnels passes under Nevşehir and reaches a faraway water source,” said Özcan Çakir of 18 March University. To read about the spectacular remains of a Hellenistic and Roman-era city in central Turkey, see "Zeugma After the Flood."

Categories: Blog

Large Underground City Discovered in Turkey

Archaeology News - December 30, 2014

NEVŞEHIR, TURKEY—An underground city estimated to be 5,000 years old has been discovered in Turkey’s Central Anatolian province, surrounding Nevşehir fortress, which sits on a conical-shaped hill. The area was being prepared by the Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) for an urban transformation project. “It is not a known underground city. Tunnel passages of seven kilometers are being discussed. We stopped the construction we were planning to do on these areas when an underground city was discovered,” TOKİ Head Mehmet Ergün Turan told Hurriet Daily News. This city is thought to be much larger than other underground cities in the region. “We believe that people, who were engaged in agriculture, were using the tunnels to carry agricultural products to the city. We also estimate that one of the tunnels passes under Nevşehir and reaches a faraway water source,” said Özcan Çakir of 18 March University. To read about the spectacular remains of a Hellenistic and Roman-era city in central Turkey, see "Zeugma After the Flood."

Categories: Blog

Belize’s Blue Hole Yields Evidence of Drought in Maya World

Archaeology News - December 29, 2014

HOUSTON, TEXAS—New evidence from Belize’s Great Blue Hole strengthens the case that drought contributed to the collapse of Maya civilization. Earth scientist André Droxler of Rice University and his team drilled cores from the sediments of the Great Blue Hole, located near the center of Lighthouse Reef. “It’s like a big bucket. It’s a sediment trap,” Droxler told Live Science. The team also collected samples from Romboid Reef and analyzed their chemical composition, especially the ratio of titanium to aluminum. When rain is plentiful, titanium from volcanic rocks in the region is swept into streams and carried to the ocean. Low levels of titanium to aluminum suggest a period with less rainfall. Droxler’s team found that between A.D. 800 and 1000, when Maya civilization collapsed, there were only one or two tropical cyclones every two decades, rather than the usual five or six big storms. According to the new results, another major drought struck between 1000 and 1100, about the time of the fall of Chichen Itza. “When you have major droughts, you start to get famines and unrest,” Droxler explained. To read about a similar study, see "Long-Term Drought May Have Led to Fall of Harappan Civilization."

Categories: Blog

Belize’s Blue Hole Yields Evidence of Drought in Maya World

Archaeology News - December 29, 2014

HOUSTON, TEXAS—New evidence from Belize’s Great Blue Hole strengthens the case that drought contributed to the collapse of Maya civilization. Earth scientist André Droxler of Rice University and his team drilled cores from the sediments of the Great Blue Hole, located near the center of Lighthouse Reef. “It’s like a big bucket. It’s a sediment trap,” Droxler told Live Science. The team also collected samples from Romboid Reef and analyzed their chemical composition, especially the ratio of titanium to aluminum. When rain is plentiful, titanium from volcanic rocks in the region is swept into streams and carried to the ocean. Low levels of titanium to aluminum suggest a period with less rainfall. Droxler’s team found that between A.D. 800 and 1000, when Maya civilization collapsed, there were only one or two tropical cyclones every two decades, rather than the usual five or six big storms. According to the new results, another major drought struck between 1000 and 1100, about the time of the fall of Chichen Itza. “When you have major droughts, you start to get famines and unrest,” Droxler explained. To read about a similar study, see "Long-Term Drought May Have Led to Fall of Harappan Civilization."

Categories: Blog

Poor Sanitary Conditions Found at Celtic Site

Archaeology News - December 29, 2014

BASEL, SWITZERLAND—The eggs of roundworms, whipworms, and liver flukes have been identified in coprolite samples from the Basel-Gasfabrik site, a Celtic settlement in Central Europe that dates to 100 B.C., using new geoarchaeological methods. Micromorphological thin sections, which enable the parasite eggs to be captured directly in their original settings, were prepared from soil samples embedded in synthetic resin, rather than by wet sieving of the soil samples. The researchers from the University of Basel found that some individuals had more than one parasite. They were also able to determine that human and animal waste may have been used as a fertilizer, and that humans and animals lived in close contact. For a similar discovery, see "6,000-Year-Old Human Parasite Egg Discovered in Syria."

Categories: Blog

Poor Sanitary Conditions Found at Celtic Site

Archaeology News - December 29, 2014

BASEL, SWITZERLAND—The eggs of roundworms, whipworms, and liver flukes have been identified in coprolite samples from the Basel-Gasfabrik site, a Celtic settlement in Central Europe that dates to 100 B.C., using new geoarchaeological methods. Micromorphological thin sections, which enable the parasite eggs to be captured directly in their original settings, were prepared from soil samples embedded in synthetic resin, rather than by wet sieving of the soil samples. The researchers from the University of Basel found that some individuals had more than one parasite. They were also able to determine that human and animal waste may have been used as a fertilizer, and that humans and animals lived in close contact. For a similar discovery, see "6,000-Year-Old Human Parasite Egg Discovered in Syria."

Categories: Blog

Possible Roman-Era Synagogue Unearthed in Israel

Archaeology News - December 26, 2014

MAGDALA, ISRAEL—Excavations on the shore of the Sea of Galilee have revealed a large public structure outfitted with elaborate columns that suggest it could have been a synagogue dating to the Roman period. "So far, we have not found another use that could have been made of the structure besides a synagogue," Bar-Ilan University archaeologist Michael Osband told Y Net News. "The structure joins a very limited list of rural synagogues dated to the Roman period that have been uncovered so far." Abandoned sometime after the middle of the fourth century A.D., the building is still being excavated. Osband and his team hope further digging at the site will shed light on when it was occupied. To read about a spectacular discovery at another synagogue in Israel, see “Mosaics of Huqoq.” 

Categories: Blog

Possible Roman-Era Synagogue Unearthed in Israel

Archaeology News - December 26, 2014

MAGDALA, ISRAEL—Excavations on the shore of the Sea of Galilee have revealed a large public structure outfitted with elaborate columns that suggest it could have been a synagogue dating to the Roman period. "So far, we have not found another use that could have been made of the structure besides a synagogue," Bar-Ilan University archaeologist Michael Osband told Y Net News. "The structure joins a very limited list of rural synagogues dated to the Roman period that have been uncovered so far." Abandoned sometime after the middle of the fourth century A.D., the building is still being excavated. Osband and his team hope further digging at the site will shed light on when it was occupied. To read about a spectacular discovery at another synagogue in Israel, see “Mosaics of Huqoq.” 

Categories: Blog

Geologist Speculates on Disappearance of Sanxingdui

Archaeology News - December 25, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—Niannian Fan, a river sciences researcher at Tsinghua University in Chengdu, China, presented new thoughts on the disappearance of the Sanxingdui culture from a walled city on the banks of China’s Minjiang River some 3,000 years ago, at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. “The current explanations for why it disappeared are war and flood, but both are not very convincing,” Fan told Live Science. In the 1980s, scientists found two pits of broken Bronze Age jades, elephant tusks, and bronze sculptures. Similar artifacts have been found nearby at another ancient city known as Jinsha. Did the people of Sanxingdui relocate to Jinsha? Fan thinks that the epicenter of an earthquake recorded to have occurred in 1099 B.C. some 250 miles away may have actually been close to Sanxingdui. Geological clues in the mountains suggest that a major earthquake triggered a landslide that dammed the river, reduced the water to Sanxingdui, and rerouted its flow to Jinsha. Later documents tell of floods that support the idea that the flow was rerouted. 

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