Audio News for September 17th through the 23rd, 2006.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Laura Kelley and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news for September 17th through the 23rd, 2006.
Ancient Utah drawings will be feature of new suburb
Our first story is from the United States, where developers have discovered that, along with brand new houses, their suburb will include some very old rock art. The planned development near Salt Lake City is the location of a group of 6,000-year-old archaic period petroglyphs, as well as younger rock art made by the Fremont people. According to Nina Bowen of the Utah Rock Art Research Association, the archaic period petroglyphs are some of the oldest rock art in Utah. The most distinctive designs at the site, however, date to the Fremont period, about AD 500-1300. The Fremont art shows what appears to be three figures holding hands and dancing, according to Troy Scotter, the president of Utah Rock Art Research. He said that Utah has probably the largest concentration of rock art of almost anywhere in the world, certainly in the United States. But this site, west of Utah Lake, is an unusual location for such art. It is possible that this site had ceremonial significance, such as a clear view of the sunrise. The rock art researchers have known about the site for at least a decade, and reported it to the city. In turn, city officials let developers know once they announced their plans. The petroglyphs are on private land, which means that federal antiquities protection laws are no defense. The developers are willing to protect the petroglyphs, however, and will incorporate them into the planned open space and trail system. Interpretive signs could be developed to describe the rock art, its significance, and history. City officials are now considering an ordinance that would bring steep fines for vandalism of the ancient art.
English dog cutout is a medieval metal mystery
In Britain’s Teeside, a 600-year-old bronze silhouette of a snarling dog was unearthed and is baffling archaeologists. The art item was dubbed the "Hound of Hartlepool." Measuring nine inches across, it was found by Tees Archaeology before building work began on a new sports center. The dog has now been cleaned up and conserved by Durham University experts who are trying to work out what it was for. The leading theory is that it was nailed to a house and may have been a weathervane or a "Beware of the Dog" sign. Stephen Sherlock, the director of the excavation, called attention to the crude cutting to form the teeth and eye, which suggests that the snarling hound was home-made rather than the a craftsman’s work. Other specialists believe the dog may have been a sign outside a public house. Rachel Grahame, project officer for Tees Archaeology, called it one of the most unusual archaeological objects to have come to light in the region. At some point in the past it must have fallen down a narrow gap between two buildings and was forgotten.
New work on Roanoke Island will include underwater search for early Virginia colony
In Virginia, as many as 15 archeologists may converge upon Roanoke Island next month, in hopes of finally finding the exact site of the Sir Walter Raleigh colony. Depending on the availability of financial resources and the approval of the National Park Service, excavations will begin in October. The new search for Roanoke’s earliest traces will be led by Eric Klingelhofer, of Macon, Georgia, and Nick Lucetti, of Jamestown, Virginia, who are the co-vice presidents of the First Colony Foundation. Their objective is to find out exactly where the site is, what it looks like, how big it is and what has survived five centuries of erosion. The team will work along the edge of a bluff at the water line. They hope for artifacts, a refuse pit or even an intact layer related to either Raleigh settlement. At the same time, another Foundation project will be going on underwater. The offshore archaeology project will be under the direction of well-known underwater archeologist Gordon Watts. Watts is director of the Institute for International Maritime Research, Inc., of Washington, North Carolina. The location for excavations was chosen because a colonist-era barrel was found in shallow water there in the 1980s. It is thought to be the bottom barrel of a barrel-lined well, and was carbon-dated to the Raleigh settlement era. Also found were an axe head and ceramic shards that are consistent with what the colonists would have used. Researchers have expressed concern that the quickly eroding shoreline on northeast Roanoke Island may be giving up its secrets to the sound. The non-profit Foundation still has fund-raising to do to be able to house and feed the archaeologists and pay a modest stipend. Pending approvals and funding, work could begin as early as October 9.
Peruvian dog burials show love, respect for ancient pets
Archaeologists in Peru have uncovered the mummified remains of more than 40 dogs buried with blankets and food alongside their human masters. The discovery was made during the excavation of two of the ancient Chiribaya people who lived in southern Peru between AD 900 and 1350. Experts say the dogs' treatment in death indicates the belief that the animals had an afterlife. Such a status for pets has only previously been seen in ancient Egypt. Hundreds of years before the European conquest of South America, the Chiribaya civilization valued its dogs so highly that when one died, it was buried alongside family members. The dogs, which have been called Chiribaya shepherds for their llama-herding abilities, were not sacrificed as in other ancient cultures, but buried with blankets and food in human cemeteries. Biological archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 40 dogs which were naturally mummified in the desert sand of Peru's southern Ilo Valley. Now they have teamed up with Peru's Kennel Club to try to establish if the dogs represent a new distinct breed indigenous to South America. The country is full of breeds which arrived in the last few centuries, but they believe some dogs living today in southern Peru share the characteristics of their ancestors. The Chiribaya dog looked rather like a small Golden Retriever with a medium-sized snout, beige coloring, and long hair. The only other indigenous Peruvian canine is the hairless dog, which evolved over more than 2,000 years from Asian ancestors brought across the Bering Straits. It was recognized as a distinct breed just 20 years ago.
That wraps up the news for this week!
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I'm Laura Kelley and I'll see you next week!