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A 7,000-Year-Old Story in Turkey

November 14, 2014

MISIS, TURKEY—An enduring history is being revealed in southern Turkey at the ancient site of Misis, reports Hurriet Daily News. Located on the Silk Road, Misis was first settled some time in the fifth millennium B.C. during the Neolithic period, and, according to Giovanni Salmeri of Pisa University, who is leading the excavations, has been host to various civilizations including Chalcolithic, Hittite, Roman, and Byzantine settlements over its millennia-long history. Thus far Salmeri’s team has uncovered innumerable artifacts and impressive examples of monumental architecture—including a stone bridge, aqueduct, a city bath, tombs, and a Byzantine caravanserai—some of which were decorated with mosaics. The excavated material from Misis will be housed in the Misis Mosaic Museum along with a large mosaic that was discovered when the first digs were undertaken by German archaeologists on the 1950s. To read more about Turkey's fantastic Roman mosaics, go to "Zeugma After the Flood." 

Categories: Blog

Bronze Age Razor Unearthed in Siberia

November 14, 2014

NOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA—Excavations at a 4,000-year-old site in Siberia have revealed a thin bronze plate that could have been used as a shaving implement, reports the Siberian Times. Expedition leader Vyacheslav Molodin of the Siberian Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography says that while his team has provisionally identified the artifact as a razor, it was probably also used as a knife. The practice of shaving likely dates far back in prehistory, but appears to have become particularly popular in the Bronze Age, as evidenced by the fact that many graves of the period contain what are believed to be razor knives. To read about another Bronze Age discovery in Siberia, see "Elite Warrior's Bone Armor Unearthed."

Categories: Blog

Bronze Age Razor Unearthed in Siberia

November 14, 2014

NOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA—Excavations at a 4,000-year-old site in Siberia have revealed a thin bronze plate that could have been used as a shaving implement, reports the Siberian Times. Expedition leader Vyacheslav Molodin of the Siberian Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography says that while his team has provisionally identified the artifact as a razor, it was probably also used as a knife. The practice of shaving likely dates far back in prehistory, but appears to have become particularly popular in the Bronze Age, as evidenced by the fact that many graves of the period contain what are believed to be razor knives. To read about another Bronze Age discovery in Siberia, see "Elite Warrior's Bone Armor Unearthed."

Categories: Blog

Coin Cache, Ovens Unearthed in Egypt

November 13, 2014

CRAWLEY, AUSTRALIA—Archaeologists from the University of Western Australia are part of an international team excavating Tell Timai, the remains of the Greco-Roman town of Thmuis in Egypt. Student Liesel Gentelli found a cache of 2,200-year-old coins that she thinks may have been placed under the building’s foundation as an offering. The 13 coins date to the reigns of Ptolemy II, III, and IV, suggesting that the building was constructed no later than 221 B.C. In another part of the site, archaeologist Sean Winter found a number of ovens that may have been part of an industrial-scale bakery or a tavern sometime around the first century. “Nowhere in the published literature can we find an equivalent number of ovens in the same place,” he told Phys.org. Food remains show that the people of Thmuis ate fish and shellfish from the Mediterranean, birds, and mammals. To read more about life in Egypt during this period, see "Documents Tell of Childhood in Roman Egypt."

Categories: Blog

Coin Cache, Ovens Unearthed in Egypt

November 13, 2014

CRAWLEY, AUSTRALIA—Archaeologists from the University of Western Australia are part of an international team excavating Tell Timai, the remains of the Greco-Roman town of Thmuis in Egypt. Student Liesel Gentelli found a cache of 2,200-year-old coins that she thinks may have been placed under the building’s foundation as an offering. The 13 coins date to the reigns of Ptolemy II, III, and IV, suggesting that the building was constructed no later than 221 B.C. In another part of the site, archaeologist Sean Winter found a number of ovens that may have been part of an industrial-scale bakery or a tavern sometime around the first century. “Nowhere in the published literature can we find an equivalent number of ovens in the same place,” he told Phys.org. Food remains show that the people of Thmuis at fish and shellfish from the Mediterranean, birds, and mammals. To read more about life in Egypt during this period, see "Documents Tell of Childhood in Roman Egypt."

Categories: Blog

Intact Macedonian Tomb Discovered in Northern Greece

November 13, 2014

VERGINA, GREECE—According to The Greek Reporter, an intact tomb dating to the fourth century B.C. has been discovered at the necropolis in Aigai in northern Greece. Archaeologist Angeliki Kottaridi, head of the excavation, found a gold-plated bronze vessel and a gold-plated bronze wreath among the tomb’s burial offerings. The krater, used for mixing wine and water, was found surrounded by pieces of wood that may have been a piece of furniture. The artifacts will become part of a new archaeology museum in Aigai. To read about Roman-era funeral rites in Macedonia, see "Burial Customs."

Categories: Blog

Intact Macedonian Tomb Discovered in Northern Greece

November 13, 2014

VERGINA, GREECE—According to The Greek Reporter, an intact tomb dating to the fourth century B.C. has been discovered at the necropolis in Aigai in northern Greece. Archaeologist Angeliki Kottaridi, head of the excavation, found a gold-plated bronze vessel and a gold-plated bronze wreath among the tomb’s burial offerings. The krater, used for mixing wine and water, was found surrounded by pieces of wood that may have been a piece of furniture. The artifacts will become part of a new archaeology museum in Aigai. 

Categories: Blog

CT Scans Reveal Contents of Viking Hoard Pot

November 13, 2014

MELROSE, SCOTLAND—The Carolingian pot discovered in Dumfries and Galloway last September was given a CT scan at Borders General Hospital. The resulting image shows that the ninth-century pot contains at least 20 objects, including five silver brooches, gold ingots, and an ornate ivory beads coated in gold. The items had been wrapped in an organic material that may be leather. “Nothing else has been on my mind for two-and-a-half months than seeing what was inside the pot, and then seeing it, there was a rush of emotion and was incredibly exciting,” Derek McLennan told the Daily Mail. McLennan was investigating property belonging to the Church of Scotland with the Reverend Dr. David Bartholomew when he discovered the Viking treasures. To read about the initial discovery, see "Viking Hoard Discovered in Scotland."

Categories: Blog

CT Scans Reveal Contents of Scotland’s Viking Pot

November 13, 2014

MELROSE, SCOTLAND—The Carolingian pot discovered in Dumfries and Galloway last September was given a CT scan at Borders General Hospital. The resulting image shows that the ninth-century pot contains at least 20 objects, including five silver brooches, gold ingots, and an ornate ivory beads coated in gold. The items had been wrapped in an organic material that may be leather. “Nothing else has been on my mind for two-and-a-half months than seeing what was inside the pot, and then seeing it, there was a rush of emotion and was incredibly exciting,” Derek McLennan told the Daily Mail. McLennan was investigating property belonging to the Church of Scotland with the Reverend Dr. David Bartholomew when he discovered the Viking treasures. 

Categories: Blog

Imported Glass in Japanese Tomb Identified

November 13, 2014

KASHIHARA, JAPAN—A dark blue dish and a clear painted bowl recovered together from a fifth-century tomb in Nara Prefecture are evidence of Japan’s far-reaching trade networks. The dish has been confirmed to have been imported from the Roman Empire. Its chemical composition, analyzed with a fluorescence X-ray device, is almost identical to Roman glasswork made in the second century or earlier in the Mediterranean region. The chemical composition of the painted glass bowl matches glass fragments unearthed at the palace in the ancient Persian capital of Ctesiphon. “Japan aggressively traded with other countries in the fifth century, and (the latest findings) show various elements were entering Japan at the time. Because the glass dish may have been transported via Central Asia, it is no wonder that there was a time lag (between its production and arrival in Japan),” Takashi Taniichi of Sanyo Gakuen University told The Asahi Shimbun.

Categories: Blog

Imported Glass in Japanese Tomb Identified

November 13, 2014

KASHIHARA, JAPAN—A dark blue dish and a clear painted bowl recovered together from a fifth-century tomb in Nara Prefecture are evidence of Japan’s far-reaching trade networks. The dish has been confirmed to have been imported from the Roman Empire. Its chemical composition, analyzed with a fluorescence X-ray device, is almost identical to Roman glasswork made in the second century or earlier in the Mediterranean region. The chemical composition of the painted glass bowl matches glass fragments unearthed at the palace in the ancient Persian capital of Ctesphon. “Japan aggressively traded with other countries in the fifth century, and (the latest findings) show various elements were entering Japan at the time. Because the glass dish may have been transported via Central Asia, it is no wonder that there was a time lag (between its production and arrival in Japan),” Takashi Taniichi of Sanyo Gakuen University told The Asahi Shimbun.

Categories: Blog

How Does the Environment Shape the Development of Culture?

November 12, 2014

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—Kathelinjne Koops of the University of Cambridge has written an opinion piece in Biology Letters that challenges the adage that necessity is the mother of invention. She and her colleagues have reviewed studies on tool use among chimpanzees, orangutans, and bearded capuchins, and have found that their tool use did not increase during times of scarcity. Rather, primates use tools when there are calorie-rich, hard-to-reach foods, such as nuts and honey, available in the environment. Understanding the development of tool use in our primate cousins could provide insights into the development of human culture and technology, Koops explained. “The local environment may exert a powerful influence on culture and may, in fact, be critical for understanding the occurrence and distribution of material culture,” she told Science Daily.

Categories: Blog

How Does the Environment Shape the Development of Culture?

November 12, 2014

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—Kathelinjne Koops of the University of Cambridge has written an opinion piece in Biology Letters that challenges the adage that necessity is the mother of invention. She and her colleagues have reviewed studies on tool use among chimpanzees, orangutans, and bearded capuchins, and have found that their tool use did not increase during times of scarcity. Rather, primates use tools when there are calorie-rich, hard-to-reach foods, such as nuts and honey, available in the environment. Understanding the development of tool use in our primate cousins could provide insights into the development of human culture and technology, Koops explained. “The local environment may exert a powerful influence on culture and may, in fact, be critical for understanding the occurrence and distribution of material culture,” she told Science Daily.

Categories: Blog

“Project Rover” Finds Two World War II Aircraft

November 12, 2014

NEWARK, DELEWARE—Last March, a team of researchers and volunteers found two planes that had crashed into the Pacific Ocean near the Republic of Palau during the fierce fighting of World War II. Eric Terrill of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Mark Moline of the University of Delaware were studying currents and making maps of the flow of water around the islands when they met Patrick Scannon, whose nonprofit group BentProp uses historical records and first-hand accounts to search for the remains of American service members. Their combined efforts led to the discovery of an Avenger bomber that went down with two men and a F6F Hellcat. All of the information collected by Project Recover has been turned over the U.S. Navy. “It was an exciting time, but also a solemn time because you know there are potentially servicemen still in the plane,” Moline said. To read about similar projects, see "The Archaeology of World War II."

Categories: Blog

“Project Rover” Finds Two World War II Aircraft

November 12, 2014

NEWARK, DELEWARE—Last March, a team of researchers and volunteers found two planes that had crashed into the Pacific Ocean near the Republic of Palau during the fierce fighting of World War II. Eric Terrill of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Mark Moline of the University of Delaware were studying currents and making maps of the flow of water around the islands when they met Patrick Scannon, whose nonprofit group BentProp uses historical records and first-hand accounts to search for the remains of American service members. Their combined efforts led to the discovery of an Avenger bomber that went down with two men and a F6F Hellcat. All of the information collected by Project Recover has been turned over the U.S. Navy. “It was an exciting time, but also a solemn time because you know there are potentially servicemen still in the plane,” Moline said.

Categories: Blog

Human Remains Recovered From Amphipolis Tomb

November 12, 2014

AMPHIPOLIS, GREECE—Greece’s Culture Ministry has announced the discovery of skeletal remains in the elaborate late fourth-century B.C. tomb at Amphipolis. “The tomb in all probability belongs to a male and a general,” chief archaeologist Katerina Peristeri told BBC News. Tests on the bones may reveal the age and sex of the occupant, whose body had been placed in a wooden coffin held together with bronze and iron nails. The coffin was then buried some five feet below the floor of the tomb’s third chamber. Bone and glass fragments in the grave were probably decorations on the casket. Archaeologists found some of the remains scattered in the chamber, confirming that the tomb had been plundered. To read about the search for Alexander the Great's Tomb, see "Searching for History's Greatest Rulers."

Categories: Blog

Human Remains Recovered From Amphipolis Tomb

November 12, 2014

AMPHIPOLIS, GREECE—Greece’s Culture Ministry has announced the discovery of skeletal remains in the elaborate late fourth-century B.C. tomb at Amphipolis. “The tomb in all probability belongs to a male and a general,” chief archaeologist Katerina Peristeri told BBC News. Tests on the bones may reveal the age and sex of the occupant, whose body had been placed in a wooden coffin held together with bronze and iron nails. The coffin was then buried some five feet below the floor of the tomb’s third chamber. Bone and glass fragments in the grave were probably decorations on the casket. Archaeologists found some of the remains scattered in the chamber, confirming that the tomb had been plundered. To read about the search for Alexander the Great's Tomb, see "Searching for History's Greatest Rulers."

Categories: Blog

Pigments Could Help Scientists Date Cave Art

November 11, 2014

VALENCIA, SPAIN—A team of scientists from the University of Valencia and France’s National Center for Scientific Research has identified a new set figures painted in black on the walls of the Remígia Cave in the Valltorta-Gassulla area of Spain, and analyzed how the pigments in the artworks were prepared. The pigments were tested on site with EDXRF—energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence, and microsamples were tested in the lab with electron microscopy. Most of the rock art in the Iberian Mediterranean Basin, known as Levantine art, is made with a red pigment from iron oxide. Red was also used to paint over some of the black images. White was sometimes used to complement the red. The black pigments in these new paintings were made from carbonized plant materials that could help the team date the artwork. “Up to now, these pigments were associated with the use of mineral components such as manganese oxides, but this study has made it possible, for the first time, to identify the use of carbonized plant material to produce the black pigments used in the Levantine paintings at Valltorta-Gassulla,” Clodoaldo Roldán of the University of Valencia told Science Daily. To read about another ancient pigment study, see "From Egyptian Blue to Infrared."

Categories: Blog

Pigments Could Help Scientists Date Cave Art

November 11, 2014

VALENCIA, SPAIN—A team of scientists from the University of Valencia and France’s National Center for Scientific Research has identified a new set figures painted in black on the walls of the Remígia Cave in the Valltorta-Gassulla area of Spain, and analyzed how the pigments in the artworks were prepared. The pigments were tested on site with EDXRF—energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence, and microsamples were tested in the lab with electron microscopy. Most of the rock art in the Iberian Mediterranean Basin, known as Levantine art, is made with a red pigment from iron oxide. Red was also used to paint over some of the black images. White was sometimes used to complement the red. The black pigments in these new paintings were made from carbonized plant materials that could help the team date the artwork. “Up to now, these pigments were associated with the use of mineral components such as manganese oxides, but this study has made it possible, for the first time, to identify the use of carbonized plant material to produce the black pigments used in the Levantine paintings at Valltorta-Gassulla,” Clodoaldo Roldán of the University of Valencia told Science Daily. To read about another ancient pigment study, see "From Egyptian Blue to Infrared."

Categories: Blog

Vivid Murals Depict Daily Life in Ancient China

November 11, 2014

DATONG CITY, CHINA—Live Science reports that a circular tomb decorated with murals has been excavated in northern China. The 1,000-year-old tomb had been looted, and the name of its occupant has not survived, but a three-foot-tall statue of him was left behind. The figure, which may have been substituted for the body in the burial, is sitting cross-legged on a platform and smiling, wearing a long black robe. The tomb’s ceiling was decorated with bright red stars connected with straight lines to form constellations. Images on the walls depict attendants carrying fruit and drinks. A reclining deer, a crane, bamboo trees, and a turtle are also shown. Other animals in the paintings may have been pets of the deceased, described in the new journal Chinese Cultural Relics by a team from the Datong Municipal Institute of Archaeology as “a black and white cat with a red ribbon on its neck and a silk-strip ball in its mouth,” and “a black and white dog with a red ribbon on its neck and a curved tail.” To read about other archaeological depictions of dogs, see "More Than Man's Best Friend."

Categories: Blog

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