Audio News for August 13th to August 19th, 2006.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Laura Kelley and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news for August 13th to August 19th, 2006.
Important ancient Welsh city found using modern technology
Our first story is from Wales, where the Ancient British Historical Association says they have been able to pinpoint the location one of the most important locations in all of ancient British history, the fabled fortress city of King Caradoc I. Caradoc I, or Caractacus, fought the Romans between AD 42-51 during the reign of Emperor Claudius. According to historians Alan Wilson and Baram Blackett, there is a clearly defined walled city in the modern town of Caer Caradoc in Glamorgan near St. Peter’s. The term “Caer” refers to a major fortress for cities and towns. This location is exactly the place where the historical records say the ancient site should be. The Welsh manuscripts are precise, and have allowed for progress in terms of identifying royal burial mounds, tombs, and artifacts. The research team obtained aerial photographs for survey purposes via Google Earth. In addition, there are many historical references to Caer Caradoc including statements in the Brut Tyssilio ( dated AD 684) and the later Gruffydd ap Arthur (dated AD 1135). Another reference can be found in Teithfallt/Theodosius, who buried the 363 British noblemen murdered by treacherous Saxons at the notorious "Peace Conference” of AD 456. The city, Caer Caradoc, was once the capital of the Paramount King of Britain, and the team started to look for its precise location in 1990. Only after the development of aerial imaging programming like Google Earth that they were able to make the identification through a difficult process of checking and re-checking. There is further conclusive evidence based upon Tithe maps. These maps represent a detailed record of every Welsh field. Each field had a designated number, details of the owner and tenant farmer and, most importantly, the field's name. Every field had a name and often described what had occurred there, if anything. Around St. Peter’s, the field names show it to be the location where the Peace Conference of 456 took place. "Field of the Conference, "Field of the Quarrel," "Field of the Blood". Copies of Tithe maps are easily obtained. The team says this is a major find by any standards and they welcome questions, queries and requests for further detail from any interested parties.
Musket ball discovery may reveal facts about Acadian deportation of 1755
Our next story is from Nova Scotia, Canada, where a discovery at Grand Pre has archeologists speculating if they've unearthed the site of the Acadian deportation of 1755. Nova Scotia archeologist Jonathan Fowler and his team recently discovered about 15 musket balls in the ruins of an old house. According to Fowler, the volume of musket balls is strange compared to the usual domestic occupation found at other Acadian archeological sites. Fowler feels the team may have found the British headquarters for ‘ground zero’ of the deportation. The team is now hoping to find evidence of a fence that researchers believe the British built around two houses, a church and a cemetery. If they can find that, they believe that everything within that perimeter is ground zero for the events of 1755. Grand Pre, along the Minas Basin in central Nova Scotia, was the largest Acadian community when the British ordered the deportation of thousands of Acadians in 1755. British troops arrived in August, taking over the church, the priest's house and another building as their headquarters. Since the Grand Pre archeological field school project began in 2001, the team has uncovered thousands of artifacts. Fowler, director of the project, said the team has not found any signs of the old church, which acted as a prison for Acadian men and boys. He acknowledges there is already a lot known about that time and place, but hopes finding ground zero will give people another way to connect with history.
Archaeological finds challenge link between Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient religious sect
In Israel, new evidence is raising questions about the conventional theory linking the ruins of the ancient settlement of Qumran with the Dead Sea Scrolls. After early excavations at the site, academics surmised that followers of a strict Jewish sect, the Essenes, lived there in a monastery and apparently wrote the scrolls in the first centuries AD. Most of the texts describe religious doctrine in ancient Israel. Two archaeologists, Yizhak Magen and Yuval Peleg of the Israel Antiquities Authority, have excavated the site intermittently for more than 10 years and now claim that Qumran had nothing to do with the Essenes, a monastery, or the scrolls. Instead, the site is described as a pottery factory. The researchers are reporting that their excavations have turned up pottery kilns, complete vessels, production rejects, thousands of clay fragments, and remnants of water reservoirs that held thick deposits of fine potters’ clay. Dr. Magen and Dr. Peleg said the elaborate water system appeared to be designed to bring the clay-laced water into the site for the purposes of the pottery industry. No other site in the region has been found to have such a water system. By the time the Romans destroyed Qumran in AD 68 in the Jewish revolt, the settlement had been a center of the pottery industry for at least a century. Dr. Magen expressed the view that the association between Qumran, the caves and the scrolls is a hypothesis lacking any factual archaeological basis. This is not the first challenge to the Essene hypothesis originally presented by Roland de Vaux, French priest and archaeologist and early interpreter of the scrolls. Others have suggested that Qumran was a fortified manor house or a villa, possibly a community or commercial trading center. Dr. Golb said that Qumran could have been both a monastery and a pottery factory. But he added that there is not a scrap of evidence that it was a monastery. In his opinion, many different groups probably wrote the cave scrolls, and they were removed from Jerusalem libraries by refugees in the Roman war. Refugees may well have deposited the scrolls for safekeeping in the many caves near Qumran. The new research appears to support this latter view. Qumran in those days was at a major crossroads of traffic to and from Jerusalem and along the Dead Sea, and similar scrolls have been found at Masada, where Jewish rebels held out against the Romans. Dr. Magen reported that the jars in which most of the scrolls were stored probably came from the pottery factory and this may prove to be the only established connection between the Qumran settlement and the scrolls.
Another blow to looters through the recovery of ancient Peruvian headdress
Our final story is from London, where another blow has been dealt to the illegal antiquities trade. An ancient Peruvian headdress, a prized example of artwork, was recovered in a police raid on a London law firm. The pre-Incan artifact, estimated to be at least 1,300 years old, was made by the Moche civilization of northern Peru. Specialist art detectives seized the object after a lengthy investigation into stolen goods. The piece, which bears the image of a feline sea god with octopus-like tentacles, had vanished from a royal tomb in Peru in the late 1980s. Michel Van Rijn, a London-based art dealer, said he alerted police to the artifact after being asked to facilitate its sale. He said the headdress was looted from an archaeological dig at a royal tomb in Peru in 1988 and then stolen from the office of an art dealer in Peru in 1996. Christine Hastorf, an anthropologist at the University of California at Berkeley and expert in early South American civilizations, reported that the gold ornament was intended to be worn with the sea god’s face on the user's forehead and the octopus limbs reaching high above the wearer's head. Hastorf confirms this opinion, citing observations made through careful study of Moche pottery depicting such a surreal arrangement. Peruvian archaeologist Walter Alva, who excavated one of the most famous Moche sites, the Royal Tombs of Sipán, told police that he is thrilled that the recovered headdress will soon be returned to Peru.
That wraps up the news for this week!
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I'm Laura Kelley and I'll see you next week!