LUXOR, EGYPT—Ahram Online reports that fragments of statues of the lioness goddess Sekhmet have been unearthed at the King Amenhotep III funerary temple by a team led by archaeologist Hourig Sourouzian. Mostafa Waziri of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said the tallest of the 27 black-granite statues would have stood more than six feet tall. The surfaces of those that had been deep underground were damaged by water and salt, but the statues closer to the surface are well preserved, in some cases only missing the base and feet. More than 280 statues of Sekhmet have been unearthed in the temple since the excavation began in 1998. The walls and columns of the King Amenhotep III funerary temple were toppled by an earthquake in 1200 B.C. “The sculptures are of a high artistic quality and of the greatest archaeological interest,” Sourouzian said. The statues will be cleaned and desalinated and eventually returned to the temple when it has been restored. To read in-depth about ancient Egypt, go to "The Cult of Amun."
AUSTIN, TEXAS—Newsweek reports that fragments of a rare Christian text dating to the fifth or sixth century have been found in the Nag Hammadi Library, which was discovered in Egypt in 1945 and is now housed at Oxford University. A collection of 13 Gnostic books, or codices, the documents in the Nag Hammadi Library purported to record “secret knowledge” imparted by Jesus to his followers. Most of the documents are translations in the Coptic language, but the newly discovered fragments, from the First Apocalypse of James, were written in Greek, the text’s orginial language. The copy is thought to have been used as a teaching tool because the neatly written words had been broken down into individual syllables with mid-dots, according to Brent Landau of the University of Texas at Austin. “This new discovery is significant in part because it demonstrates that Christians were still reading and studying extra-canonical writings long after Christian leaders deemed them heretical,” explained colleague Geoffrey Smith. To read more about early Christian manuscripts, go to "Artifact: The Fadden More Psalter."
OXFORD, ENGLAND—BBC News reports that a stone road dating to the medieval period was found in southern England during work to alleviate flooding problems. The road was made from rounded river pebbles, limestone, and chalk. Ruts made by wheels have been found on some of the stones. Horseshoes have also been found among the cobbles. Scientists will examine the horseshoes with X-rays in order to date them. The excavation team members also uncovered evidence of roundhouses, pottery, and animal bones dating to the Bronze and Iron Ages. For more on the medieval period, go to “Letter from England: Writing on the Church Wall.”
CINCINNATI, OHIO—It had been thought that Ancestral Puebloans living in the Grand Canyon region were sustained by corn, like Ancestral Puebloans based in other parts of the Southwest, but little evidence of corn farming had been found there. According to a Laboratory Equipment report, Alan Sullivan of the University of Cincinnati thinks Ancestral Puebloans in the Upper Basin may have set small fires to clear away the grasses and weeds growing under nut and berry-producing pinyon and juniper trees and encourage the growth of nutritious, wild sprouts such as amaranth and goosefoot. In fact, Sullivan said the land was covered with such plants after a recent fire in the Upper Basin. Archaeologists have also found evidence of wild edible plants growing in abundance at the time Ancestral Puebloans lived in the area, and no burn scars, which would suggest big fires, in the rings of ancient trees. For more on Ancestral Pueblo sites, go to “Angry Birds.”
NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND—A medieval garbage pit in Newcastle city center has yielded leather, green-glazed pottery, and animal bone, according to a Chronicle Live report. The waterlogged artifacts are thought to date to the twelfth century, when the area was known for its markets. “Particularly interesting finds here were several examples of animal horn neatly cut, presumably for reuse as handles or another function,” said archaeologist Richard Carlton of the Archaeological Practice. The excavation also uncovered a medieval woven wood fence and traces of a dwelling facing the modern street. A pit with layers of burned deposits found inside the building is thought to have been used as an oven. For more, go to “The Curse of a Medieval English Well.”