Audio News for January 7th to January 13th, 2007.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Laura Kelley and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news for January 7th to January 13th, 2007.
Ancient warrior burial found in Russian permafrost
Our first story is from Russia, where archaeologists have uncovered the 2000-year-old remains of a warrior preserved intact in permafrost in the Altai Mountains region. The warrior was blond, with tattoos on his body, and was wearing a felt coat with sable fur trimmings. He was buried in a wooden frame containing drawings of mythological creatures. An ice pick lay beside him. Local archaeologists believe the man was part of the ruling elite of a local nomadic tribe known as the Pazyryk. Numerous other Pazyryk tombs have been found in the area. According to archaeologist Alexei Tishkin, this is a significant discovery and it is fortunate for research that the burial was in permafrost so it was so well preserved.
Minnesota site below glacial deposits may be older than Clovis
In the United States, archaeologists have discovered stone tools on a hill in northern Minnesota that may be 13,000 to 14,000 years old. According to biologist and archaeologist Matt Mattson, the rough stone tools found at the Walker site, in a Minnesota town, may be from the earliest occupants of the North American continent. Britta Bloomberg, Minnesota's deputy historic preservation officer, said it might be among the oldest known archaeological sites in North and South America. The half-dozen archaeologists, soil scientists and others who have examined the site all said the artifacts are genuine. The stone tools, 50 or more objects altogether, were found while archaeologists were investigating the path of a road where the city is planning to expand for a community center, housing and businesses. The artifacts ranged from large hammerstones to small hand-held scrapers. Mattson said the objects were found underneath a band of rock and gravel that appeared to have been deposited by melting glaciers and then covered by windblown sediment. David Mather, the state archaeologist, said the site appears to be much older than the Clovis era of finely made spear points that defines the paleo-Indian period. No other remains have been found so far. Bones, wood or textiles, if there were any, would have dissolved long ago in the acidic soil. The oldest human remains found in Minnesota belonged to the Browns Valley Man, who lived about 9,000 years ago. His remains were discovered in 1933 in a gravel pit near the town of Browns Valley in western Minnesota. Walker, the town where the new site was found, is about 190 miles northwest of the Twin Cities.
Tasmanians excavate history of convict women and their children
On the Australian island of Tasmania, an archaeological dig at Ross in the midlands is expected to unearth new and informative artifacts on the life of convict women and their children. International and local archaeologists are excavating the site of a women's factory that housed convicts shipped from England between 1847 and 1854. It is the third time in about 10 years the site has been excavated, but this time the work is focusing on the prison nursery. Any artifacts found will help piece together female convict history while also enhancing the interpretation facilities for tourists to Ross. According to D. Martin Gibbs from the University of Sydney, little is known about how convict women lived, and in particular, how they lived as mothers of children. The children were of course not convicts themselves, but free children, yet they lived with their mothers who were serving time and doing hard labor. While the documents of the time note the presence of the children, it is unknown if they were allowed to have a childhood, or whether, given the nineteenth century’s thinking about the inheritance of moral flaws, these children were seen as proto-criminals who had to be trained out of it. The Ross dig is expected to continue for some time.
Cranial measurements help recreate Dante’s face
Our final story is from the University of Bologna, in Italy, where scientists believe they have recreated the closest match of the face of the famous poet Dante Alighieri from his actual cranial measurements. For scholars, the work has thrown up a few surprises. For instance, Dante has always been portrayed as having a classically Italian, long aquiline nose. But the restoration by the science team shows that it was bent and crooked. The popular conception of what Dante looked like came from portraits of the time. According to Professor Gruppioni, the anthropologist behind the project, Renaissance artists did most of these portraits after Dante had died. They are, in fact, what Gruppioni calls psychological renditions - impressions the artists had formed of Dante from reading his poems, not from physical observation. Dante died in 1321, shortly after finishing his work called Paradise, the last book of the Divine Comedy. In 1509, monks who feared his bones might be stolen from his hometown moved them to the northern town of Ravenna. His face has been modeled from measurements taken of the skull when the crypt was opened in the 1920s. The measurements are thought to be correct but the jawbone, which was missing from the crypt, has been reverse-engineered to fit the skull. The science team used computer technology and new forensic techniques to simulate the muscles with plaster, plastic and other materials.
That wraps up the news for this week!
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I'm Laura Kelley and I'll see you next week!