13 Jun 2014

2,300 year old grave found in Oman by Faizul Haque

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To read the whole article, please go to: http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2014/06/harappan-style-burial-found-in-oman.html#.U5tHjpRdXTo

During an excavation, archaeologists have found the tomb of a man who was buried with sword and daggers made of iron and steel that are said to have first been invented in the Indus Valley. It has been scientifically proved that iron and steel arms were made in the Indus Valley civilization first time ever. Sultan Bensaif Al Bakri, director of Excavations and Archaeological Studies of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture has said that this finding may prove the influence of the Indian civilization on Oman during that period. However, he said that further studies would be carried out on this regard. Al Bakri has said that a 2,300- year-old underground chamber was found during rescue excavations 22km south of Sinaw. This was the burial chamber of a man in his 50′s, buried along with his personal arms. Near his grave, two male and female camels were also buried. They were slaughtered after the death of the man. The walls of the graves of these camels were erected with stones.

2,000 year old built-tomb discovered near Sinaw [Credit: Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Oman]

He said that the man was buried separately, on the right side of the camels’ graves, with his 88cm sword in front of him. In addition, two daggers were tied on the right and left sides of his waist. A robe and woolen cap was also buried along with him. According to the descriptions provided by the archaeologists, the sword and daggers were made of iron and steel which was first made in the Indian civilization from where it spread to the neighboring civilizations, including Oman, said Al Bakri. He said that the sword was kept in front of the man as the handle of the sword was facing him. Its handle was partly covered with textured ivory shaped like an eagle’s beak. It is believed that the man was a chieftain of a tribe, as is evident from the sword and the robe. He was buried as his head was on a pillow and his hat was kept near his head. He was wearing leather shoes.

Read more at: http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2014/06/harappan-style-burial-found-in-oman.html#.U5tHjpRdXTo

24 May 2014

Exclusive: Found after 500 years, the wreck of Christopher Columbus’s flagship the Santa Maria

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To read the whole article and more about Christopher Columbus, please go to: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/exclusive-found-after-500-years-the-wreck-of-christopher-columbuss

The wreck of the ‘Santa Maria’, as envisaged in 1492

Santa Maria.

“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria,” said the leader of a recent reconnaissance expedition to the site, one of America’s top underwater archaeological investigators, Barry Clifford. So far, Mr Clifford’s team has carried out purely non-invasive survey work at the site – measuring and photographing it.
Tentatively identifying the wreck as the Santa Maria has been made possible by quite separate discoveries made by other archaeologists. In 2003 the probable location of Columbus’ fort was relatively nearby. Armed with this new information about the location of the fort, Clifford was able to use data in Christopher Columbus’ diary to work out where the wreck should be.
It’s a current re-examination of underwater photographs from that initial survey (carried out back in 2003), combined with data from recent reconnaissance dives on the site (carried out by Clifford’s team earlier this month), that have allowed Clifford to tentatively identify the wreck as that of the Santa Maria.
The evidence so far is substantial. It is the right location in terms of how Christopher Columbus, writing in his diary, described the wreck in relation to his fort. A re-examination of the photographic evidence taken during the 2003 initial survey of the site by Mr. Clifford and his son Brandon has also provided evidence which is consistent with the vessel being from Columbus’ era – including a probable early cannon of exactly the type known to have been on-board the Santa Maria.

It’s a current re-examination of underwater photographs from that initial survey (carried out back in 2003), combined with data from recent reconnaissance dives on the site (carried out by Clifford’s team earlier this month), that have allowed Clifford to tentatively identify the wreck as that of the Santa Maria.
The evidence so far is substantial. It is the right location in terms of how Christopher Columbus, writing in his diary, described the wreck in relation to his fort. A re-examination of the photographic evidence taken during the 2003 initial survey of the site by Mr. Clifford and his son Brandon has also provided evidence which is consistent with the vessel being from Columbus’ era – including a probable early cannon of exactly the type known to have been on-board the Santa Maria.
When Clifford and his team returned to the site earlier this month, their intention was to definitively identify the cannon and other surface artifacts that had been photographed back in 2003. But tragically all the key visible diagnostic objects including the cannon had been looted by illicit raiders.
“We’ve informed the Haitian government of our discovery – and we are looking forward to working with them and other Haitian colleagues to ensure that the site is fully protected and preserved. It will be a wonderful opportunity to work with the Haitian authorities to preserve the evidence and artifacts of the ship that changed the world,” said Mr. Clifford.
“I am confident that a full excavation of the wreck will yield the first ever detailed marine archaeological evidence of Columbus’ discovery of America.”
“Ideally, if excavations go well and depending on the state of preservation of any buried timber, it may ultimately be possible to lift any surviving remains of the vessel, fully conserve them and then put them on permanent public exhibition in a museum in Haiti.
“I believe that, treated in this way, the wreck has the potential to play a major role in helping to further develop Haiti’s tourism industry in the future,” he said. Leading American maritime archaeologist, Professor Charles Beeker of Indiana University, who accompanied Mr Clifford’s recent reconnaissance expedition to Haiti and who also carried out an underwater visual assessment of the site, says that it “warrants a detailed scientific investigation to obtain diagnostic artifacts”.
“There is some very compelling evidence from the 2003 photographs of the site and from the recent reconnaissance dives that this wreck may well be the Santa Maria,”
“But an excavation will be necessary in order to find more evidence and confirm that,” said Professor Beeker who is Director of the University of Indiana’s Office of Underwater Science.
The evidence so far is substantial. It is the right location in terms of how Christopher Columbus, writing in his diary, described the wreck in relation to his fort.
The site is also an exact match in terms of historical knowledge about the underwater topography associated with the loss of the Santa Maria. The local currents are also consistent with what is known historically about the way the vessel drifted immediately prior to its demise.
The footprint of the wreck, represented by the pile of ship’s ballast, is also exactly what one would expect from a vessel the size of the Santa Maria.

The Santa Maria was built at some stage in the second half of the 15 century in northern Spain’s Basque Country. In 1492, Columbus hired the ship and sailed in it from southern Spain’s Atlantic coast via the Canary Islands in search of a new western route to Asia.
After 37 days, Columbus reached the Bahamas – but, just over ten weeks later, his flagship, the Santa Maria, with Columbus on board, drifted at night onto a reef off the northern coast of Haiti and had to be abandoned. Then, in a native village nearby, Columbus began building his first fort – and, a week later, leaving many of his men behind in the fort, he used his two remaining vessels to sail back to Spain in order to report his discovery of what he perceived as a new westerly route to Asia to his royal patrons – King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.

03 May 2014

Egypt Archaeologists May Have Found Alexander the Great’s Tomb by Nikoleta Kalmould

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Read more at: http://world.greekreporter.com/2014/04/30/egypt-archaeologist-may-have-discovered-tomb-of-alexander-the-great/


In Egypt, a team of archaeologists and historians from the Polish Center of Archaeology have revealed a mausoleum made of marble and gold that might be the tomb of Alexander the Great. The site is situated in an area known as Kom el-Dikka in the heart of downtown Alexandria, only 60 meters away from the Mosque of Nebi Daniel.
The monument was apparently sealed off and hidden in the 3rd or 4th century AD, to protect it from the Christian repression and destruction of pagan monuments after the change of the official religion within the Roman Empire. It is a testimony to the multicultural nature of Alexander’s empire, as it combines artistic and architectural influences from Greek, Egyptian, and Persian cultures. The inscriptions are mainly in Greek but there are also a few Egyptian hieroglyphs, mentioning that the mausoleum is dedicated to the “King of Kings, and Conqueror of the World, Alexander III.” The finding is extremely important as it can provide new information about Alexander the Great.
The mausoleum contains a broken sarcophagus made of crystal glass, 37 bones, mostly heavily damaged but presumably all from the same adult male, as well as some broken pottery dating from the Ptolemaic and Roman ages. A carbon-dating analysis and a series of other tests will determine the age of the bones and whether or not they belong to the Macedonian King.

read more at: http://world.greekreporter.com/2010/03/05 coiins-from-alexander-the-great-found-found-in-syria

18 Apr 2014

Anglesey: Mysterious artefact discovered at Neolithic tomb · By Dion Jones

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To read the complete article, please go to: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/anglesey-mysterious-artefact-discovered-neolithic-6997721

Copper artifact found in an archaeological excavation at Perthi Duon on Anglesey. Photo courtesy of Dr George Nash

Find at Perthi Duon excavation site near Brynsiencyn could prove existence of a British Copper Age says archeology expert. The discovery of a mysterious copper artifact at a Neolithic tomb on Anglesey could help to answer one of archaeology’s burning questions.
Dr George Nash, who led the excavation at Perthi Duon near Brynsiencyn, says the find could lend weight to the idea of a British Copper Age, which is currently being debated by archaeologists.
Perthi Duon – described by Dr. Nash as Anglesey’s “least known Neolithic chambered tomb” – is believed to have been a portal dolmen, a type of single-chamber tomb mostly built in the early Neolithic period, and dates to around 3,500BC or earlier.
Dr Nash, of Bristol University, said the monument was in a “ruinous” state by the early years of the nineteenth century and had been incorporated into a boundary hedge.
An international team of archaeologists from the Welsh Rock Art Organization recently excavated the site and uncovered “several significant features”, said Dr Nash. Among them was the “curious” copper artifact, which could be a piece of jewelry worn thousands of years ago.
Dr Nash said: “This item could be an important discovery which may reinforce the notion of a Copper Age in the British Isles. Copper items from the British Neolithic (c. 4,000 – 2,000BC) and Early Bronze Age (c. 2,500 – 1,800BC) are considered rare.”
Dr Nash said: “The big question in archaeology at the moment is whether there was a Copper Age in Britain. “Did copper come to Britain before bronze? “This discovery helps to suggest that we did have a Copper Age.
Plowing around the monument during the latter part of the 20th century caused “a lot of disturbance” to the archaeological remains, said Dr Nash.
However, other finds made at the site included areas of compacted stone which would once have formed a kidney-shaped mound around the chamber, and a rare circular stone socket which would have supported a kerbstone used to delineate the shape of the monument. Shards of pottery were also found.
Dr Nash said: “These discoveries clearly show this monument to be a portal dolmen, one of the earliest Neolithic monument types in Wales. “More importantly, the architecture of Perthi Duon appears to be a blueprint for other portal dolmen monuments within what is termed the Irish Sea Province. From this excavation, we now have a better understanding of the burial and ritual practices that went on at this site some 5,500 years ago.”

28 Mar 2014

The Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the Myth? By Amanda Foreman

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Strong and brave, the Amazons were a force to be reckoned with in Greek mythology—but did the fierce female warriors really exist?
Read more:http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/amazon-women-there-any-truth-behind-myth-180950188/#gUKulS6wIfe0yetI.99

The creators of Wonder Woman had no interest in proving an actual link to the past. In some parts of the academic world, however, the historical existence of the Amazons, or any matriarchal society, has long been a raging issue. The origins of the debate can be traced back to a Swiss law professor and classical scholar named Johann Jakob Bachofen. In 1861 Bachofen published his radical thesis that the Amazons were not a myth but a fact. In his view, humanity started out under the rule of womankind and only switched to patriarchy at the dawn of civilization. Despite his admiration for the earth-mother women/priestesses who once held sway, Bachofen believed that the domination of men was a necessary step toward progress. Women “only know of the physical life,” he wrote. “The triumph of patriarchy brings with it the liberation of the spirit from the manifestations of nature.”
There was, however, one major problem with the Bachofen-inspired theory of matriarchy: There was not a shred of physical evidence to support it. In the 20th century, one school of thought claimed that the real Amazons were probably beardless “bow-toting Mongoloids” mistaken for women by the Greeks. Another insisted that they were simply a propaganda tool used by the Athenians during times of political stress. The only theorists who remained relatively unfazed by the debates swirling through academia were the Freudians, for whom the idea of the Amazons was far more interesting in the abstract than in a pottery fragment or arrowhead. The Amazonian myths appeared to hold the key to the innermost neuroses of the Athenian male. All those women sitting astride their horses, for example—surely the animal was nothing but a phallus substitute. As for their violent death in tale after tale, this was obviously an expression of unresolved sexual conflict.
The eighth-century B.C. poet Homer was the first to mention the existence of the Amazons. In the Iliad—which is set 500 years earlier, during the Bronze or Heroic Age—Homer referred to them somewhat cursorily as Amazons antianeirai, an ambiguous term that has resulted in many different translations, from “antagonistic to men” to “the equal of men.” In any case, these women were considered worthy enough opponents for Homer’s male characters to be able to boast of killing them—without looking like cowardly bullies.
By the mid-sixth century B.C., the foundation of Athens and the defeat of the Amazons had become inextricably linked, as had the notion of democracy and the subjugation of women. The Hercules versus the Amazons myth was adapted to include Theseus, whom the Athenians venerated as the unifier of ancient Greece. In the new version, the Amazons came storming after Theseus and attacked the city in a battle known as the Attic War. It was apparently a close-run thing. According to the first century A.D. Greek historian Plutarch, the Amazons “were no trivial nor womanish enterprise for Theseus. For they would not have pitched their camp within the city, nor fought hand-to-hand battles in the neighborhood of the Pynx and the Museum, had they not mastered the surrounding country and approached the city with impunity.” As ever, though, Athenian bravery saved the day.
The first pictorial representations of Greek heroes fighting scantily clad Amazons began to appear on ceramics around the sixth century B.C. The idea quickly caught on and soon “amazonomachy,” as the motif is called (meaning Amazon battle), could be found everywhere: on jewelry, friezes, household items and, of course, pottery. It became a ubiquitous trope in Greek culture, just like vampires are today, perfectly blending the allure of sex with the frisson of danger. The one substantial difference between the depictions of Amazons in art and in poetry was the breasts. Greek artists balked at presenting anything less than physical perfection.
The trail of the Amazons nearly went cold after Herodotus. Until, that is, the early 1990s when a joint U.S.-Russian team of archaeologists made an extraordinary discovery while excavating 2,000-year-old burial mounds—known as kurgans—outside Pokrovka, a remote Russian outpost in the southern Ural Steppes near the Kazakhstan border. There, they found over 150 graves belonging to the Sauromatians and their descendants, the Sarmatians. Among the burials of “ordinary women,” the researchers uncovered evidence of women who were anything but ordinary. There were graves of warrior women who had been buried with their weapons. One young female, bowlegged from constant riding, lay with an iron dagger on her left side and a quiver containing 40 bronze-tipped arrows on her right. The skeleton of another female still had a bent arrowhead embedded in the cavity. Nor was it merely the presence of wounds and daggers that amazed the archaeologists. On average, the weapon-bearing females measured 5 feet 6 inches, making them preternaturally tall for their time.
Finally, here was evidence of the women warriors that could have inspired the Amazon myths. In recent years, a combination of new archaeological finds and a reappraisal of older discoveries has confirmed that Pokrovka was no anomaly. Though clearly not a matriarchal society, the ancient nomadic peoples of the steppes lived within a social order that was far more flexible and fluid than the polis of their Athenian contemporaries.
To the Greeks, the Scythian women must have seemed like incredible aberrations, ghastly even. To us, their graves provide an insight into the lives of the world beyond the Adriatic. Strong, resourceful and brave, these warrior women offer another reason for girls “to want to be girls” without the need of a mythical Wonder Woman.

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