Who Painted the Meidum Geese?

Archaeology News - April 1, 2015

ENNA, SICILY—Francesco Tiradritti of Kore University of Enna and director of the Italian archaeological mission to Egypt thinks that the Meidum Geese, a painting supposedly found in a tomb near the Meidum Pyramid in 1871 by Luigi Vassalli, may be a forgery. Vassalli is credited with removing the painting, now housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and putting it in the Museum Bulaq, where he was a curator. The painting depicts three kinds of geese: white-fronted geese, bean geese, and red-breasted geese. Tiradritti told Live Science that when he realized that the bean goose and the red-breasted goose were unlikely to have been seen in Egypt, he took a more critical look at the painting, considered by many to be a masterpiece of Egyptian art. He found that some of the colors in the painting are unique, and the way that the geese are drawn, so that they appear to be the same size, is also unusual. The ancient Egyptians drew animals and people in different sizes, sometimes in order to convey their importance. Tiradritti adds that the cracks in the painting “are not compatible with the supposed ripping of the painting from the wall.” He thinks the geese were painted by Vassalli, who was a trained artist. “The only thing that, in my opinion, still remains to ascertain is what was (or ‘is’) painted under them. But that can be only established through a noninvasive analysis,” he said. To read about Egyptian animal mummies, see "Messengers to the Gods."  

Categories: Blog

Who Painted the Meidum Geese?

Archaeology News - April 1, 2015

ENNA, SICILY—Francesco Tiradritti of Kore University of Enna and director of the Italian archaeological mission to Egypt thinks that the Meidum Geese, a painting supposedly found in a tomb near the Meidum Pyramid in 1871 by Luigi Vassalli, may be a forgery. Vassalli is credited with removed the painting, now housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and putting in in the Museum Bulaq, where he was a curator. The painting depicts three kinds of geese: white-fronted geese, bean geese, and red-breasted geese. Tiradritti told Live Science that when he realized that the bean goose and the red-breasted goose were unlikely to have been seen in Egypt, he took a more critical look at the painting, considered by many to be a masterpiece of Egyptian art. He found that some of the colors in the painting are unique, and the way that the geese are drawn, so that they appear to be the same size, is also unusual. The ancient Egyptians drew animals and people in different sizes, sometimes in order to convey their importance. Tiradritti adds that the cracks in the painting “are not compatible with the supposed ripping of the painting from the wall.” He thinks the geese were painted by Vassalli, who was a trained artist. “The only thing that, in my opinion, still remains to ascertain is what was (or ‘is’) painted under them. But that can be only established through a noninvasive analysis,” he said. To read about Egyptian animal mummies, see "Messengers to the Gods."  

Categories: Blog

Medieval Hospital Cemetery Unearthed in Cambridge

Archaeology News - April 1, 2015

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—A medieval hospital cemetery beneath the Old Divinity School at St John’s College, Cambridge, has turned out to be much larger than previously thought. More than 400 intact burials were excavated during the renovation of the building, along with the disarticulated remains of as many as 1,000 individuals, for “one of the largest medieval hospital osteoarchaeological assemblages from the British Isles,” Craig Cessford of Cambridge University said in a press release. Most of the burials lacked coffins, and many even lacked shrouds, suggesting that the cemetery served “poor scholars and other wretched persons,” who were cared for at the hospital, as described in its Augustinain ordinance from 1250. “Evidence for clothing and grave-goods is rarer than at most hospital cemeteries, principally because this was a purely lay graveyard with no clerics present,” Cessford said. Pregnant women were not cared for at the hospital, and in fact, no remains of infants and few young women were identified among the bodies. The cemetery had gravel paths and a well. Seeds from flowering plants have also been recovered. To read in-depth about a similar discovery, see "Haunt of the Resurrection Men." 

Categories: Blog

Medieval Hospital Cemetery Unearthed in Cambridge

Archaeology News - April 1, 2015

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—A medieval hospital cemetery beneath the Old Divinity School at St John’s College, Cambridge, has turned out to be much larger than previously thought. More than 400 intact burials were excavated during the renovation of the building, along with the disarticulated remains of as many as 1,000 individuals, for “one of the largest medieval hospital osteoarchaeological assemblages from the British Isles,” Craig Cessford of Cambridge University said in a press release. Most of the burials lacked coffins, and many even lacked shrouds, suggesting that the cemetery served “poor scholars and other wretched persons,” who were cared for at the hospital, as described in its Augustinain ordinance from 1250. “Evidence for clothing and grave-goods is rarer than at most hospital cemeteries, principally because this was a purely lay graveyard with no clerics present,” Cessford said. Pregnant women were not cared for at the hospital, and in fact, no remains of infants and few young women were identified among the bodies. The cemetery had gravel paths and a well. Seeds from flowering plants have also been recovered. To read in-depth about a similar discovery, see "Haunt of the Resurrection Men." 

Categories: Blog

New Technique Could Cut Dating Wait Times

Archaeology News - March 31, 2015

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND—The electronic engineering and electronics departments at The University of Liverpool are developing a new carbon-dating technique that could provide results for bones in just two days, at a lower cost than current methods, which can take more than six weeks. The Norton Priory Museum and Gardens has provided the university with samples of animal bones that have already been dated for analysis with the prototype technology, a form of quadruple mass spectrometer (QMS). The unit will be based at the museum next year, when it reopens after extensive renovations, thanks to funding from Arts Council England. “The potential of this new technique is incalculable. Archaeologists will, for the first time, be able to make decisions on site and within days of sampling,” Frank Hargrave, director of Norton Priory, told The Liverpool Echo. “It will be a challenge to develop a portable instrument to achieve the required performance, but thanks to this funding we are in a strong position to make a real attempt,” added Steve Taylor, leader of the project. To read about a similar innovation, see "Nondestructive Radiocarbon Dating."

Categories: Blog

New Technique Could Cut Dating Wait Times

Archaeology News - March 31, 2015

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND—The electronic engineering and electronics departments at The University of Liverpool are developing a new carbon-dating technique that could provide results for bones in just two days, at a lower cost than current methods, which can take more than six weeks. The Norton Priory Museum and Gardens has provided the university with samples of animal bones that have already been dated for analysis with the prototype technology, a form of quadruple mass spectrometer (QMS). The unit will be based at the museum next year, when it reopens after extensive renovations, thanks to funding from Arts Council England. “The potential of this new technique is incalculable. Archaeologists will, for the first time, be able to make decisions on site and within days of sampling,” Frank Hargrave, director of Norton Priory, told The Liverpool Echo. “It will be a challenge to develop a portable instrument to achieve the required performance, but thanks to this funding we are in a strong position to make a real attempt,” added Steve Taylor, leader of the project. To read about a similar innovation, see "Nondestructive Radiocarbon Dating."

Categories: Blog

“The Red Lady” of Spain

Archaeology News - March 31, 2015

 

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO—The 18,700-year-old bones of a woman whose remains were found in northern Spain’s El Mirón Cave is the first Magdalenian burial to be found in the Iberian Peninsula, according to Lawrence Straus of the University of New Mexico and Manuel González Morales of the University of Cantabria. They discovered the grave behind a block of engraved limestone that had fallen from the ceiling of the cave. “The lines seem to be sort of random, but there is a motif that is a triangle—repeated lines that make a V-shape. What is being represented, at least by some of these lines, might be a female person. Conceivably, this block serves as some kind of marker,” Straus told New Scientist. They first glimpsed a jaw and a tibia covered in ochre, and later recovered more than 100 of the woman’s bones, which had been placed in the small space after her body had decomposed. A carnivore’s teeth marks on the tibia may account for the missing skull and long bones. Dubbed “The Red Lady,” the woman was between 35 and 40 years old at the time of death, and she ate ibex, red deer, fish, mushrooms, fungi, and seeds. The ochre on her bones “is a color that in their lives must have been very spectacular,” Straus added. To read about a spectacular piece of Paleolithic art, see "A New Life for Lion Man."

Categories: Blog

“The Red Lady” of Spain

Archaeology News - March 31, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO—The 18,700-year-old bones of a woman whose remains were found in northern Spain’s El Mirón Cave is the first Magdalenian burial to be found in the Iberian Peninsula, according to Lawrence Straus of the University of New Mexico and Manuel González Morales of the University of Cantabria. They discovered the grave behind a block of limestone engraved with lines and a triangular shape that had fallen from the ceiling of the cave. The scientists first glimpsed a jaw and a tibia covered in ochre, and later recovered more than 100 of the woman’s bones, which had been placed in the small space after her body had decomposed. “The Magdalenian people did a lot of manipulation of skeletons,” Straus told Live Science, which may account for her missing skull and long bones, although teeth marks on the tibia suggest that a carnivore could also be to blame. Dubbed “The Red Lady,” the woman was between 35 and 40 years old at the time of death, and she ate ibex, red deer, fish, mushrooms, fungi, and seeds. The ochre on her bones was not from a local source—someone “took pains to find and grind it,” Straus added. To read about a spectacular piece of Paleolithic art, see "A New Life for Lion Man."

Categories: Blog

Trolley Rails Unearthed Near Former Factories

Archaeology News - March 31, 2015

ONTARIO, CANADA—Rail ties that were part of a trolley network 100 years ago were uncovered by construction crews in the Waterloo-Kitchener area. The first rail cars on the Berlin & Waterloo Street Railway were pulled by horses, followed by electrified cars in 1895. “Running a trolley line down King Street would have been able to give working class people in those areas a chance to get to work, without having to worry about cars, without having to worry about horses,” historian Geoff Hayes of the University of Waterloo told CBC News. The railway went out of service in 1946 as cars gained in popularity. A new light rail system is now under construction to carry workers to the new businesses in the area. To read about a similar discovery, see "Trains in the Round."

Categories: Blog

Trolley Rails Unearthed Near Former Factories

Archaeology News - March 31, 2015

ONTARIO, CANADA—Rail ties that were part of a trolley network 100 years ago were uncovered by construction crews in the Waterloo-Kitchener area. The first rail cars on the Berlin & Waterloo Street Railway were pulled by horses, followed by electrified cars in 1895. “Running a trolley line down King Street would have been able to give working class people in those areas a chance to get to work, without having to worry about cars, without having to worry about horses,” historian Geoff Hayes of the University of Waterloo told CBC News. The railway went out of service in 1946 as cars gained in popularity. A new light rail system is now under construction to carry workers to the new businesses in the area. To read about a similar discovery, see "Trains in the Round."

Categories: Blog

Spanish Armada Cannonball Found on Irish Beach

Archaeology News - March 31, 2015

COUNTY SLIGO, IRELAND—A cannonball thought to have come from the ill-fated Spanish Armada has washed up on a beach in Ireland’s County Sligo. “We’ve had a number of items discovered recently because of the winter storms with them washing up then on the spring tides,” Dónal Gilroy, who found the cannonball while walking on the beach, told The Journal. Gilroy is chair of the Grange Armada Development Association. “It would have come from a smaller swivel cannon,” he added. Three of the ships of the fleet that attempted to invade England were driven into Donegal Bay by bad weather on September 21, 1588, where they wrecked four days later after putting down anchor. More than 1,000 people are thought to have died when the ships, La Lavia, La Juliana, and Santa Maria de Vision were lost. To read more about underwater discoveries, see "History's 10 Greatest Shipwrecks." 

Categories: Blog

Spanish Armada Cannonball Found on Irish Beach

Archaeology News - March 31, 2015

COUNTY SLIGO, IRELAND—A cannonball thought to have come from the ill-fated Spanish Armada has washed up on a beach in Ireland’s County Sligo. “We’ve had a number of items discovered recently because of the winter storms with them washing up then on the spring tides,” Dónal Gilroy, who found the cannonball while walking on the beach, told The Journal. Gilroy is chair of the Grange Armada Development Association. “It would have come from a smaller swivel cannon,” he added. Three of the ships of the fleet that attempted to invade England were driven into Donegal Bay by bad weather on September 21, 1588, where they wrecked four days later after putting down anchor. More than 1,000 people are thought to have died when the ships, La Lavia, La Juliana, and Santa Maria de Vision were lost. To read more about underwater discoveries, see "History's 10 Greatest Shipwrecks." 

Categories: Blog

Intact Horse’s Skeleton Found at Roman Site

Archaeology News - March 30, 2015

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—The skeleton of a horse estimated to have died 2,000 years ago has been unearthed at the construction site of a new biomedical campus. The almost complete skeleton shows that the horse had suffered a broken leg that had begun to heal before the animal died. “It was in a pit around it which we think were dug for quarrying gravel in the Roman period. The other signs were fragments of pottery and fragments of other animals. It was probably just on the edge of a settlement, there is certainly a Roman settlement to the north of it and it’s in the general area of Roman activity,” Alison Dickens of the Cambridge Archaeology Unit told Cambridge News. She suspects that the horse died or had to be put down after a “specific incident,” since it is unusual to find the intact remains of an animal. “It is a fascinating discovery. The horse may have been just a workhorse for the quarries, which supplied construction materials for the nearby Roman settlement, or it might have been someone’s prize thoroughbred; we won’t know until tests are done,” commented Keith McNeil, chief executive of Cambridge University Hospitals. To read in-depth about excavations at one of the most important ancient Roman sites, see "Rome's Imperial Port."

Categories: Blog

Intact Horse’s Skeleton Found at Roman Site

Archaeology News - March 30, 2015

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—The skeleton of a horse estimated to have died 2,000 years ago has been unearthed at the construction site of a new biomedical campus. The almost complete skeleton shows that the horse had suffered a broken leg that had begun to heal before the animal died. “It was in a pit around it which we think were dug for quarrying gravel in the Roman period. The other signs were fragments of pottery and fragments of other animals. It was probably just on the edge of a settlement, there is certainly a Roman settlement to the north of it and it’s in the general area of Roman activity,” Alison Dickens of the Cambridge Archaeology Unit told Cambridge News. She suspects that the horse died or had to be put down after a “specific incident,” since it is unusual to find the intact remains of an animal. “It is a fascinating discovery. The horse may have been just a workhorse for the quarries, which supplied construction materials for the nearby Roman settlement, or it might have been someone’s prize thoroughbred; we won’t know until tests are done,” commented Keith McNeil, chief executive of Cambridge University Hospitals. To read in-depth about excavations at one of the most important ancient Roman sites, see "Rome's Imperial Port."

Categories: Blog

5,000-Year-Old Egyptian Beer Vessels Unearthed In Tel Aviv

Archaeology News - March 30, 2015

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL—Fragments of pottery basins used by Egyptians to make beer 5,000 years ago have been unearthed at a construction site in central Tel Aviv. Traces of barley have been found on similar vessels from other sites. Tests should reveal if the containers had been carried from Egypt, or if they had been made locally in the Egyptian style. “This is also the northernmost evidence we have of an Egyptian presence in the Early Bronze Age I,” Diego Barkan, director of the excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, told Live Science. “Until now, we were only aware of an Egyptian presence in the northern Negev and southern coastal plain, whereby the northernmost point of Egyptian occupation occurred in Azor.” The excavation also uncovered 17 pits used for agricultural storage during the early Bronze Age, and a 6,000-year-old copper dagger and flint. To read about Egyptian animal mummies, see "Messengers to the Gods."

Categories: Blog

5,000-Year-Old Egyptian Beer Vessels Unearthed In Tel Aviv

Archaeology News - March 30, 2015

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL—Fragments of pottery basins used by Egyptians to make beer 5,000 years ago have been unearthed at a construction site in central Tel Aviv. Traces of barley have been found on similar vessels from other sites. Tests should reveal if the containers had been carried from Egypt, or if they had been made locally in the Egyptian style. “This is also the northernmost evidence we have of an Egyptian presence in the Early Bronze Age I,” Diego Barkan, director of the excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, told Live Science. “Until now, we were only aware of an Egyptian presence in the northern Negev and southern coastal plain, whereby the northernmost point of Egyptian occupation occurred in Azor.” The excavation also uncovered 17 pits used for agricultural storage during the early Bronze Age, and a 6,000-year-old copper dagger and flint. To read about Egyptian animal mummies, see "Messengers to the Gods."

Categories: Blog

1,000-Year-Old Salve Recipe Kills MRSA Cultures

Archaeology News - March 30, 2015

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND—A ninth-century Anglo-Saxon remedy for eye infections has been found to kill the modern-day superbug MRSA and disrupt naturally antibiotic-resistant biofilms in tests conducted by researchers from The University of Nottingham and Texas Tech University. Anglo-Saxon expert Christina Lee enlisted the microbiologists who recreated the potion, which includes ingredients such as onion, garlic, and part of a cow’s stomach brewed in a copper vessel. The recipe is from Bald’s Leechbook, a volume in the British Library that is thought to be one of the earliest-known books of medical advice and medicines. “We thought that Bald’s eye salve might show a small amount of antibiotic activity, because each of the ingredients has been shown by other researchers to have some effect on bacteria in the lab—copper and bile salts can kill bacteria, and the garlic family of plants make chemicals that interfere with the bacteria’s ability to damage infected tissues. But we were absolutely blown away by just how effective the combination of ingredients was,” Freya Harrison said in a press release. Steve Diggle adds that people may have been carrying out detailed scientific studies before bacteria were even discovered in order to produce such effective remedies. To read in-depth about Anglo-Saxon archaeology, see "The Kings of Kent."

Categories: Blog

1,000-Year-Old Salve Recipe Kills MRSA Cultures

Archaeology News - March 30, 2015

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND—A ninth-century Anglo-Saxon remedy for eye infections has been found to kill the modern-day superbug MRSA and disrupt naturally antibiotic-resistant biofilms in tests conducted by researchers from The University of Nottingham and Texas Tech University. Anglo-Saxon expert Christina Lee enlisted the microbiologists who recreated the potion, which includes ingredients such as onion, garlic, and part of a cow’s stomach brewed in a copper vessel. The recipe is from Bald’s Leechbook, a volume in the British Library that is thought to be one of the earliest-known books of medical advice and medicines. “We thought that Bald’s eye salve might show a small amount of antibiotic activity, because each of the ingredients has been shown by other researchers to have some effect on bacteria in the lab—copper and bile salts can kill bacteria, and the garlic family of plants make chemicals that interfere with the bacteria’s ability to damage infected tissues. But we were absolutely blown away by just how effective the combination of ingredients was,” Freya Harrison said in a press release. Steve Diggle adds that people may have been carrying out detailed scientific studies before bacteria were even discovered in order to produce such effective remedies. To read in-depth about Anglo-Saxon archaeology, see "The Kings of Kent."

Categories: Blog

Medieval Devotional Panel Displayed

Archaeology News - March 30, 2015

LONDON, ENGLAND—A fourteenth-century devotional panel discovered in 2000 by archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology will go on display for the first time at the Museum of London. Discovered in the north bank of the Thames, along with pilgrim badges, shoes, and a leather knife sheath, the well-preserved metal panel depicts the life and execution of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, a cousin of the unpopular King Edward II. Lancaster tried to curb the king’s power and was publicly beheaded for treason in 1322. Within six weeks of his death, Londonist reports that miracles were being attributed to Lancaster. The panel may have been associated with a shrine at St. Paul’s Cathedral, where he was venerated. To read more about archaeology in London, see "Haunt of the Resurrection Men."

Categories: Blog

by archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology

Archaeology News - March 30, 2015

LONDON, ENGLAND—A fourteenth-century devotional panel discovered in 2000 by archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology will go on display for the first time at the Museum of London. Discovered in the north bank of the Thames, along with pilgrim badges, shoes, and a leather knife sheath, the well-preserved metal panel depicts the life and execution of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, a cousin of the unpopular King Edward II. Lancaster tried to curb the king’s power and was publicly beheaded for treason in 1322. Within six weeks of his death, Londonist reports that miracles were being attributed to Lancaster. The panel may have been associated with a shrine at St. Paul’s Cathedral, where he was venerated. 

Categories: Blog

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