Audio News for June 25th to July 1st, 2001.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Claire Britton-Warren and these are the headlines this week in archaeological and historical news.
Original Headline: Naval Secrets Of D-Day Landing Emerging From Coastal Depths, As Archaeologists Continue Omaha And Utah Beach Survey
On Monday, June 25th, in Normandy, France, fifty-seven years after the allies landed, a team of archaeologists are surveying the wreckage off Omaha and Utah beaches. The purpose of the investigation is to learn more about what happened in naval operations on D-Day. Using a remotely operated vehicle and sonar equipment, the team has located and photographed a landing craft tank, which carried troops and equipment to shore and two amphibious British Double Duty tanks with their guns still partially elevated for attack. Last summer, six to eight Sherman tanks and more than two dozen wrecks were identified with these methods.
Also reported on Monday, after 15 years of searching, archaeologist Andrew Stewart has found evidence of the Hellenistic lifestyle at Dor, an ancient port on Israel’s northern coast. This year, his team discovered a 2,200-year-old headless statue of a Greek Goddess among fragments of a Greek Temple. Speculation is that the temple was destroyed during the invasions of 138-139 AD.
Original Headline: £15m manuscript saved for nation
On Tuesday June 26th, in Britain, a unique, 15th century manuscript, was successfully preserved by digitizing it. The Sherborne Missal, originally produced under the Abbot of Sherborne and the Bishop of Salisbury, is 694 pages of elaborate scripting and illustrations of the words and music used in Catholic Church services of the time. The manuscript is regarded as one of the most important treasures of the late Middle Ages. The British Library, responsible for the preservation, has also made a virtual computer version available to its visitors.
On Wednesday June 27th, in Scotland, archaeologists believe they may have found the ancient stronghold of the legendary St. Blane, one of Scotland’s most popular saints. Aerial photographs appear to show the circular outlines of an early, fortified settlement. Archaeologists hope to discover the secret tunnels that are said to have connected Blane’s monastery with the present day cathedral. The cathedral is thought to have been built on the site of Blane’s wooden church. Legend has it that St. Blane, upon returning from a pilgrimage to Rome, brought the dead son of a British Chief back to life.
On Thursday June 28th, in southern Lebanon, four lead Roman sarcophagi were found embedded into the walls of a grotto. Inside them were human remains, silver Roman coins, and small glass flasks. Dolphins and human figure engravings adorned the sides of the sarcophagi. There are still four more adjacent caves in the grotto which have yet to be excavated. The finds have not yet been dated. The site is believed by biblical scholars, to be where Christ transformed water into wine.
Also on Thursday, in China, the government is calling upon domestic and foreign experts to help save the world’s oldest and tallest wooden pagoda. Earthquakes, weather and it’s own 5,700 ton weight have damaged the structure since it’s construction in 1058 AD. Column heads and beams are twisted and broken, awaiting more than 50 experts of ancient architecture to discuss how to repair them, while preserving its original appearance.
From Cairo Egypt, reports that a 17th Dynasty royal tomb has been discovered at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings! Experts reported that they are convinced the 3,500-year-old tomb was occupied by Nub-Kheper-Ra-Intef. At the front of the tomb is a small, mud-brick pyramid. Inside is a burial shaft where the toppled head of a life size sandstone statute of the Pharaoh was found. A time of political confusion, the 17th Dynasty has never provided archaeologist with a royal tomb to study-until now. Excavations will continue in October to see what lies underneath the burial shaft.
Original Headline: Dating study 'means human history rethink'
Also on Friday, British and American scientists announced a breakthrough in archaeological dating techniques. Using ancient limestone formations in caves, scientists calculated the formations age comparing carbon dating techniques and their new method, which is known as uranium dating. They found that the further back in time they went, the more the carbon dates were off. Sometimes, by thousands of years! Will this call for a re-write of history? Researchers say it could!
On Saturday June 30th, in the United States, a key to understanding how a Civil War blockade-runner had successfully outrun the Yankees was pulled from Galveston Bay. The artifact is the cap from the steamship Denbigh’s superheater that powered its paddlewheels, giving it the advantage to outrun the Union Navy. Missions run by this ship were so profitable that a single trip could pay for a ship’s purchase price and so treacherous that the average boat survived only two runs from port. The Denbigh made 13 runs and it could do it in only 10 feet of water. The artifact is badly decomposed, making preservation almost impossible, and the cap will ultimately be returned to the water. Funds are now being sought for another excavation to search for the paddlewheel and engine assembly.
Also on Saturday, in Venice, an operation is underway to temporarily recover two ships that had been anchored off the sunken island of San Marcos. One of the vessels is a 14th century Venetian galley and the other a flat hulled transport of a kind never encountered before. It is believed that the ships were filled with mud by monks that once occupied the former island, in the hope of propping up the foundation of the 2 acre land mass. Archaeologist will have only 2 weeks to examine the ships before they sink again.
On Sunday July 1st, in Cairo Egypt, it was reported that the location of the Pharaonic tomb that was found in the Valley of the Kings was located with the help of a 20th Dynasty papyrus document, held by the British Museum. This papyrus mentions the tomb and details about other royal tombs that were pillaged during a period of anarchy at the time. Officials and experts are quoted as saying that because of the recent discovery and the aid of this document they may be able to find more royal tombs.
That’s the news for this week! For more news and daily updates, check out Archaeologica on the world wide web at www.archaeologica.org.
Thank you for joining us! I’m Claire Britton-Warren and I’ll be back with more exciting archaeological and historical news stories next week!