Audio News for July 16th to July 22nd, 2001.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Claire Britton-Warren and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from July 16th through July 22nd 2001.
On Monday July 16th, we start with more news on the Assyrian temple discovered two weeks ago in Nimrud. Officials have reported that the two winged lion statutes contain cuneiform writing that indicate they date back to the time of King Ashurnasirpal II of the 9thcentury. The writing also indicated the building was the temple of Ishtar, goddess of love and war. The lions stand at the entrance of a large hall and inner gate that lead to a great open courtyard bearing the name of the same king in brick.
Original Headline: OLDEST PORTRAITS OF CHRISTIANITY FOUND IN EPHESUS
Also on Monday, in Ephesus, Turkey, the oldest portraits of Christianity were found in a cave. Experts claim the murals contain portraits of the Virgin Mary and Saint Paulos. Archaeologists say that after completing the restoration of the cave, which will take about three years, it will be opened to the public.
Finally on Monday, high school students in a Southern California program are spending their summer recreating an ancient Egyptian burial tomb. They have been recreating a paper mache mummy to learn of embalming and wrapping techniques. They will learn about excavation, writing, horticulture and more. Other students are trying to grow flax and papyrus, while other students attempt building a mud brick house. 5 of the students will act as a National Geographic Film crew. An exhibition will take place at the end of the program.
Original Headline: Live by the Pen, Die by the Sword
On Tuesday, July 17th, it was reported that there is a growing body of evidence from Mayan writing, that scribes played a major role in magnifying the political hold the kings held on their realms. A close study of text and artwork shows that those who lived by the quill would perish by their enemy’s swords because their words would influence historical accounts. Unlike other ancient writings, Mayan appears to have been used more for political purposes than anything else. Additional research continues into the glyphs of these people.
Also on Tuesday, in Greece, a geological expert reported that the Oracle, Pythia, at the Temple of Apollo may have been high on natural gas. According to legend, the oracle would enter a small chamber and go into a trance while inhaling vapors from a fissure. Researchers discovered a previously unknown geological fault under the temple that emitted the intoxicating gas that stimulates the central nervous system and produces a sense of floating.
Lastly on Tuesday, researchers reported that Archimedes was an even cleverer mathematician than previously thought. A manuscript was found that was once scraped of its text, blanched with orange juice, cut, rebound and filled with prayers by monks. This manuscript has revealed hidden text by the famed mathematician. Archimedes’ theories of infinity which were laid out in the text are not new, but, what this discovery could mean, is that Archimedes was 2,000 years ahead of his time and this could change the chronology of who thought of what and when.
On Wednesday July 18th, in a remote Sudanese town, the discovery of a 2,000 year old city built around a temple may have answered the mysteries of the ancient world of Nubia. Excavations to date, have revealed a huge temple preserved up to its roof top. Ancient cornices and moldings were found on the structure, and bread molds with bread still in them were found inside. The find was made in an area that was once very rich in Nubian trade. Experts hope future digs will reveal the reason for the decline and disappearance of the Nubian Kingdom. Excavations are to continue next February.
Original Headline: Crucifix 'confirmed' as a Michelangelo
Also on Wednesday, a wooden crucifix dating back to 1493 has been confirmed to be the work of Michelangelo. Experts examined the 53.5 inch piece and determined that because of proportions of the body’s bones and muscles that it was the work of Michelangelo and have ended the debate. There are others feel that it lacks the ‘vitality’ to be a part of his work. Previously, there had been a debate over the statute’s origins for the last 40 years.
On Thursday, July 19th, a new theory was reported that the flooding of the Nile and not earthquakes sank two cities on the coast of Alexandria. Found in 25 feet of water, these cities thrived during the Byzantine and Greek eras only to disappear in the 8th century AD. Reportedly, the theory is that the cities were built on extremely marshy ground in the Nile Delta and after a severe flood they slipped into the bay in 741 AD.
Original Headline: Italy to keep Ethiopian monument
On Friday July 20th, three stories lead the news. In Italy, officials have decided that the Ethiopian Obelisk of Axum, taken by Dictator Mussolini in 1937, would not be returned to Ethiopia. Citing age and the ‘naturalization’ of the monument, the Italian government feels that moving the obelisk would cause it to break irreparability. After 60 years, the Ethiopian government says it has not given up in its attempts to bring the monument home.
Original Headline: Meet the ancestors
Also on Friday, experts have recreated the face of a boy that lived in northern Spain over 800,000 years ago and was the victim of cannibalism. He was amongst the remains of six other people at Gran Dolina in the Atapuerca archaeological site.
Finally on Friday, the first map to use the name ‘America’ is on its way to the Library of Congress. The 394 year-old chart is the only known copy to name the continent after Amerigo Vespucci and not Columbus and to show the western hemisphere and Pacific Ocean as separate. After trying for decades, and with a price tag of $10 million dollars, the map will become part of a project to update knowledge of geography after the explorations of the late 1400’s.
On Saturday, July 21st, in east China, 15 rooms of a well-preserved pottery house were unearthed at Biji, a village that dates to the Neolithic period. Previously 41 rooms were found at this site, indicating a well planed prehistoric city or community state. Also found were urn coffins for children and a large amount of pottery. Authorities are considering turning the site into a museum.
Also on Saturday, from Russia, comes the tale of the Amber Room of Freidrich I, King of Prussia. This room has been moved around for three centuries and has now all but disappeared. In its glory, the room contained everything from chess pieces, chandeliers and toiletry items all made from amber, the material once known in ancient times as the Tears of the Gods. After numerous wars, dismantling and reinstalling, most of the pieces are now missing. There are 30 specialists engaged in cutting, decorating and refitting more than half a million thin amber pieces to recreate the room’s magnificence for the 300thanniversary of St. Petersburg in 2003.
On Sunday July 22nd, from Turkey, archaeologists uncovered a 280 mile long aqueduct built to service Constantinople 1,600 years ago. Constructed between 355 AD and 440 AD, the aqueduct took 28 years to build, employed tens of thousands of workers and more than half of it runs through virtually inaccessible forest. The team has located a dozen bridges between 82 and 118 feet high. The aqueduct is of great importance because without it Constantinople would have never survived as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, which it was for 800 years.
Also on Sunday, in Britain, it was reported that smuggled antiquities were returned to the Egyptian Government last week. The pieces, including the head of Queen Merit from the 19th Dynasty and six papyrus scrolls, were smuggled out of Egypt in the 1990s disguised as cheap souvenirs. Most of the stolen items were from the necropolis of Saqqara and from Upper Egypt. Their value is said to be beyond measure. The culprits are now doing forced labor for 5 to 15 years.
That’s the news for this week! Be sure to join me next week when I’ll have more headlines of archaeological and historical news for you!
For daily news updates, be sure to visit Archaeologica on the world wide web at www.archaeologica.org
I’m Claire Britton-Warren. Thanks for digging up the news with me! I’ll see you next week!