Aphrodite Statues Discovered in Jordan

Archaeology News - September 15, 2016

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA—Live Science reports that a team of researchers discovered two marble statues representing the goddess Aphrodite, or Venus, at Petra, the ancient Nabataean capital. The team is codirected by Tom Parker, of North Carolina State University, and Megan Perry, of East Carolina State University. Working in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, the team has been excavating in a previously unexplored area of the city known as the North Ridge, where non-elite residents are thought to have lived. Most of the pieces of the Roman-style statues, which date to the second century A.D., have been recovered, and they still retain traces of paint. One of the statues is still attached to its base and a figure of Cupid. The statues were found in a first-century villa complete with a bath complex that may have been abandoned and later used for debris storage after an earthquake in A.D. 363. Coins and pottery helped the archaeologists determine that the statues were probably placed in the building late in the fourth century. “The statues were packed in pretty tight—I think that’s what preserved them in such extraordinary condition,” Parker said. For more, go to "Mystery Buildings at Petra."

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Inscribed Scale Weight Unearthed in Jerusalem

Archaeology News - September 15, 2016

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—Ynetnews.com reports that a scale weight dating to the Second Temple period has been found in the Old City, at the site where the nineteenth-century Tiferet Israel Synagogue was located. Oren Gutfield of Hebrew University said that the weight is carved with two lines of text in Aramaic, which have not been fully translated, but are said to include the family name of a high priest. The weight was found beneath a burned layer thought to represent the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Artifacts from the Ottoman, Mamluk, Byzantine, and First Temple periods have also been recovered. For more, go to "The Gates of Gath."

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Roman Goddess Statuette Found on Croatian Beach

Archaeology News - September 15, 2016

ZADAR, CROATIA—Total Croatia News reports that after a sunbather removed an uncomfortable rock from beneath her towel at Kolovare Beach and tossed it away from her, swimmers Dejan Filipčić, who studied archaeology, and Hrvoje Mijić, a geographer, picked it up. They saw that the "rock" was actually a statuette of the Roman goddess Diana thought to date to the second century A.D., when there was a Roman colony along the Dalmatian Coast. Filipčić said that fingerprints are still visible on the back of the figurine, likely left behind by the artist who made it. The figurine is missing its head, which may have broken off or been dissolved by the sea, he added. To read about more recently discovered Roman-era figurines, go to "Sun and Moon."

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Aureus Discovered in Jerusalem

Archaeology News - September 15, 2016

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA—Live Science reports that a gold coin bearing the image the Roman Emperor Nero has been discovered near the ruins of a first-century villa on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion. Archaeologist Shimon Gibson of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, said that the villa is in the priestly and aristocratic quarter in the Upper City of Jerusalem. His team has also uncovered the villa’s well-preserved rooms; a mikveh, or Jewish ritual pool; and a bathroom. Gibson thinks the coin, which dates to A.D. 56, may have been lost and the villa destroyed in A.D. 70, when the Romans sacked the city. To read about Nero's lavish imperial palace, go to "Golden House of an Emperor."

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Dogs and Guinea Pigs Unearthed Near Peru’s Central Coast

Archaeology News - September 14, 2016

LIMA, PERU—Peru This Week reports that the remains of an additional ten dogs, two guinea pigs, and a person from the pre-Incan culture of Lima were found on the grounds of the Parque de las Leyendas zoo this year. “The cuy (guinea pig) of the Andes was a very important food source, and these dogs were buried next to their owners to serve as guides to reach the afterlife,” said archaeologist Lucénida Carrion. She added that some of the dogs had brown fur, while the guinea pigs were black. The dogs were wearing leashes and their legs had been tied. To read about another recent discovery in Peru, go to "Women in a Temple of Death."

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Nineteenth-Century Shipwreck Found in Arctic Waters

Archaeology News - September 14, 2016

VANCOUVER, CANADA—A team from the Arctic Research Foundation claims to have found the wreckage of HMS Terror about 31 miles from the site where the wreckage of HMS Erebus was discovered in 2014, according to a report in The Guardian. Both ships and all 128 members of Sir John Franklin’s expedition to search for the fabled Northwest Passage to Asia were lost in 1848. The ship thought to be Terror was found standing upright and in pristine condition in Terror Bay, near the coast of King William Island, after Sammy Kogvik, a Canadian Ranger and Inuk hunter, told operations director Adrian Schimnowski that he had spotted what looked like a large pole—perhaps a ship’s mast—sticking up out of the sea ice while snowmobiling. The location is about 60 miles from the area where historians thought Terror had been crushed by ice. “Given the location of the find and the state of the wreck, it’s almost certain that HMS Terror was operationally closed down by the remaining crew who then re-boarded HMS Erebus and sailed south where they met their ultimate tragic fate,” said philanthropist Jim Balsillie, founder of the Arctic Research Foundation. Parks Canada has not yet confirmed the identity of the ship. For more on the discovery of Erebus, go to "Franklin’s Last Voyage."

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Intact Figurine Unearthed at Neolithic Town in Turkey

Archaeology News - September 13, 2016

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA—The Daily Sabah reports that an intact female figure carved from marble was recently unearthed at Çatalhöyük by a team of archaeologists led by Ian Hodder of Stanford University. Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced that the statue dates to between 8000 and 5500 B.C., measures about 6.7 inches long, and weighs about two pounds. For more on archaeology in Turkey, go to "Zeugma After the Flood."

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Neolithic Snowshoe Found in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains

Archaeology News - September 13, 2016

BOLZANO, ITALY—The Telegraph reports that a snowshoe discovered on the Gurgler Eisjoch glacier at an altitude of about 10,000 feet has been dated to between 3800 and 3700 B.C. The snowshoe, made of birch wood, was found by cartographer Simone Bartolini of Italy’s Military Geographical Institute in 2003 while he was mapping the border with Austria. Bartolini says that he thought the snowshoe might have been about 100 years old, but he recently realized that it could be much older and handed it over to archaeologists. The new date suggests that the snowshoe is about 500 years older than the frozen mummy known as Ötzi the Iceman, who was found in the same region about 25 years ago. Catrin Marzoli, director of the cultural heritage department for South Tyrol province, said at a press conference that the shoe is further evidence that well-equipped people were traveling through the Alps in the Neolithic period, perhaps hunting, fleeing enemies, or engaging in ritual activity. The snowshoe will eventually go on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, where the Ötzi's remains are housed. To read more about Ötzi, go to “Heart Attack of the Mummies.”

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Marble Sarcophagus Found in Turkey

Archaeology News - September 13, 2016

BURSA, TURKEY—The Daily Sabah reports that police officers looking for a stolen truck in northwestern Anatolia discovered a well-preserved sarcophagus decorated with lion-headed antefixes at the site of an illegal excavation in an olive grove. Archaeologists from Iznik Museum carefully finished uncovering the six-ton marble coffin, which they think dates to the second century A.D. The sarcophagus will eventually be displayed at Iznik Museum. For more on archaeology in Turkey, go to "In Search of a Philosopher’s Stone."

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Radar Scans Detect Possible Royal Grave at Reading Abbey

Archaeology News - September 13, 2016

READING, ENGLAND—BBC News reports that graves have been detected with ground-penetrating radar behind the high altar at the ruins of Reading Abbey, where King Henry I is said to have been buried in 1136. He founded Reading Abbey in 1121, and King Henry VIII sacked it during the dissolution of the monasteries in the mid-sixteenth century. A jail, a parking lot, a church, and public gardens are among the buildings that were later built on the site. Twelve archaeological digs to look for additional traces of the medieval abbey and the remains of the king are planned. For more, go to "Legends of Glastonbury Abbey."

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Lion Carving Reused in Slovakia Manor House

Archaeology News - September 10, 2016

JELŠAVA, SLOVAKIA—The Slovak Spectator reports that a carving of a lion was found in a wall of the Coburg manor house in central Slovakia. Viera Kozárová, coordinator of the restoration, thinks that the lion may have been a decorative element in a railing or a brick stove before it was reused in the brick wall, and placed just under the current building’s roof. “We’re guessing that it comes from the Renaissance period and maybe even older,” said Kozárová. The lion carving may be taken out of the wall and put on display in the manor house. For more, go to "The Many Lives of an English Manor House."

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Traffic Dangers Force Closure of Neolithic Tomb in Scotland

Archaeology News - September 10, 2016

ORKNEY, SCOTLAND—According to a report in The Scotsman, Maes Howe, a Neolithic passage tomb, and Tormiston Mill, a late-nineteenth-century water-powered mill, will close at the end of September due to safety concerns. The 5,000-year-old chambered cairn and the neighboring mill are located near one of the busiest roads on the Orkney mainland. Officials from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) have determined that it is dangerous for visitors to access the historic monuments from the parking lot. “We will of course continue to conserve the site, and hope to see a positive resolution so we can continue to let visitors enjoy a special place,” said David Mitchell, acting chief executive and director of conservation at HES. To read more about archaeology on Orkney, go to "Neolithic Europe's Remote Heart."

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Archaeology News - September 9, 2016

ISTANBUL, TURKEY—The Daily Sabah reports that a statue of Cybele, the mother goddess of Anatolia, has been found in the Kurul Kalesi, a 2,300-year-old fortress on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. The marble figure was damaged, but it is still seated on its throne. “According to our research, the statue remained intact after the walls of the entrance of the fortress of Kurul collapsed during an invasion by Roman soldiers. This statue has also shown us that the fortress of Kurul in Ordu was a very important settlement,” explained Süleyman Yücel Şenyurt of Gazi University. The statue will eventually be moved to the archaeology museum in Ordu. To read about another discovery in Turkey, go to "In Search of a Philosopher’s Stone."

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Archaeology News - September 9, 2016

AVDAT NATIONAL PARK, ISRAEL—The Times of Israel reports that a 1,500-year-old stable has been found in a rock-hewn cave in the Negev Desert by a team of archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and DePaul University. The structure is thought to have been used by monks, who built stone walls in the cave and crafted stone basins to hold food and water for the animals. Crosses had been painted on the walls. A three-foot-deep layer of manure in the structure revealed that the stable was home to donkeys, sheep, and goats. The team also collected plant remains, including grape seeds, for analysis. The stable is thought to have been destroyed in the seventh century by an earthquake. To read about a recent discovery of Roman-era figurines off the coast of Israel, go to "Sun and Moon." 

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Archaeology News - September 8, 2016

LIMA, PERU—Fox News Latino reports that at least 13 graves of the Chimu-Inca culture have been found at the Chornancap temple, located on the northern coast of Peru. The graves date to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Archaeologists led by Carlos Wester La Torre found the remains of six children who had been buried in pairs in shallow graves on the north, east, and west sides of the temple. The remains of the two children found on the west side are missing their feet. The team members speculate that the feet were amputated and the children sacrificed to act as “guardians” of the other tombs, which contained the remains of men and women. Some of these people may also have been sacrificed. One of the burials contains offerings that resemble objects depicted in a painting discovered in the temple. Those items include a vessel shaped to resemble the head of a coca-leaf chewer, and a standing, smiling man. To read about another recent discovery in Peru, go to "A Life Story."

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Archaeology News - September 8, 2016

LONDON, ENGLAND—The Independent reports that genetic traces of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes bubonic plague, have been detected in skeletons recovered from an orderly, seventeenth-century burial pit in London’s Bedlam burial ground. No outward evidence of the disease, which kills quickly, was found on the bones, but plague killed more than 100,000 people in London in 1665, so researchers suspected that the possibly 100 people buried in the pit died in the epidemic. Fragments of pottery, glass, and coffin handles in the pit were used to help date it. The remains of the dead were stacked with care in the crowded cemetery, where more than 3,000 people were interred in all. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute in Jena, Germany, will now sequence the recovered Yersinia pestis genome and compare it to pathogens from other historic outbreaks of plague. Further tests on the bones could yield information on the victims’ diets and where they had been born. To read more about London, go to "Haunt of the Resurrection Men."

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Archaeology News - September 7, 2016

TAHRIR, EGYPT—Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities has authenticated an ancient ushabti figurine recovered in Mexico. Ahram Online reports that the wooden statuette was handed over by a Mexican citizen who found it in his newly purchased house. Shabab Abdel-Gawad, head of Egypt's Antiquities Repatriation Department, said that the carving dates to the nineteenth dynasty, from around 1292 to 1190 B.C. Hieroglyphic text on the figurine includes the name “Ra-Nes,” and says that “he was honest.” Abdel-Gawad also suggested that the artifact had been excavated illegally and smuggled out of the country. The statuette is being restored at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir. To read more about Egypt, go to "The Great Parallelogram."

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Archaeology News - September 7, 2016

CLYDEBANK, SCOTLAND—BBC News reports that Kenny Brophy of Glasgow University is leading a team of researchers in a new study of the Cochno Stone. “This is the biggest and, I would argue, one of the most important Neolithic art panels in Europe,” he said. The stone, which measures about 26 feet by 42 feet and is located in an urban area, was buried in 1965 to protect it from the weather, foot traffic, and vandals who carved graffiti into its surface. As a first step, the team is uncovering the stone. Then they will use 3-D imaging technology to record its cup and ring marks, and produce a life-size copy. The facsimile will include the prehistoric surface and the pre-1965 graffiti. To read about a silver hoard found in Scotland, go to "Lost and Found (Again)."

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Archaeology News - September 7, 2016

DINAJPUR, BANGLADESH—The Dhaka Tribune reports that a figurine of Mohini, the only female avatar of the god Vishnu, has been found in a temple estimated to date to the eleventh or twelfth century. This is the thought to be the first time that a stone idol of Mohini, whose image is well known in south and west India, has been found in the eastern subcontinent. The style of the temple itself is also highly unusual for the region. The Madhabgaon Vishnu temple “is the first Navarath temple in Bangladesh,” explained archaeologist Shadhin Sen. The team of archaeologists and students from Jahangirnagar University also found a shankha, or conch shell, which had been placed in the hand of a Vishnu statue; a sudarshana chakra, or a weapon with more than 100 serrated edges used by Vishnu; a mace; and part of the foot of a Vishnu statue. Local people have asked that this temple be opened to the public after the excavation is completed. For more, go to "Letter from Bangladesh: A Family's Passion."

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Archaeology News - September 7, 2016

ARAKAN STATE, MYANMAR—Narinjara News reports that a stone engraved with 44 sentences of text was unearthed at a pagoda located near the western coast of Myanmar. U Nyein Lwin, director of the local archaeological department, said that that almost half of the sentences on the stone are illegible because the stone was damaged on one side. The text is thought to date to the Mrauk Oo period, which dates from around 1430 to 1785, and will be translated. For more on Myanmar, go to "Earthquake Strikes Bagan Archaeological Zone."

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