Audio News for July 30th to August 5th, 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 30th through August 5th, 2001.
It was announced in Egypt that a team of British and American archaeologists will explore a sunken Roman ship off in the Red Sea off the Egyptian coast. Dating back 2,000 years, the experts believe the ship sunk shortly after leaving port between 1st Century BC and 1st Century AD and possibly belonged to Emperor Augustus. The remains were initially discovered 8 years ago. The current exploration is estimated to take 4 years as the ships lies 200 feet below water.
In news from Britain, a site near Yorkshire is revealing an incredible amount of detail about life in the Dark Ages. Findings included the remains of homes, workshops for leather goods and woodworking, pottery and two pieces of Celtic rare crosses. Evidence showed the settlement may have started to service the Whitby Abbey founded in the 7th Century. Experts hope to return to the site next year.
Original Headline: Poetic justice for Horace
In Rome, a dig beneath a luxurious palace may prove the poet Horace was a man of humble means and that his writings could be trusted. The palace thought to belong to Vespasian was previously believed to be the farmhouse of Horace. Son of a freed slave he was considered to be a model of austerity. The dig revealed a dwelling matching the poet’s account. Horace has been a key source of information on the end Rome’s Republic.
Original Headline: Stone Coffins Discovered in Tibet
In Tibet, researchers discovered 8 groups of ancient tombs. Stone coffins, in good condition, were found in the tombs and are currently being excavated. The stone used in the construction is a black rock that is not found in the area. This style of burial dates back more than 1,300 years before Buddhism was brought to Tibet. Experts say the find has already provided important clues about Tibetan history and culture.
Original Headline: Rethinking a History That's Carved in Stone
In an update to an earlier story, three months ago, a tiny stone object inscribed with symbols was found in Central Asia and it has become a puzzle for experts. Once thought to be the writings of an unknown desert culture from 4,000 years ago, some are questioning and arguing the symbols might be a form of Chinese writing dating to about 200 BC. Several explanations have been offered to explain the differences in theories ranging from ignoring the archaeological context to a greater western influence on Chinese writing than previously thought. Archaeologists say they will widen their investigations at the depth the seal was found in hopes of finding more answers.
Original Headline: Wooden Spade Used in China 3,000 Years Ago
In China a 3,000 year old wooden spade was discovered in the province of Shanxi. The piece had decayed into ashes but its’ form remained and experts were able to recreate the spade to its original size. Experts say it resembles the small shovels used in field research today and has provided an important clue to life around 1070 BC.
Also from China Archaeologists announced their top 10 findings for the year 2000. These were selected from 40 possibilities from more than 400 projects by a panel of experts. The criteria were that the findings must be new or show new material for study. Some of the best included a prehistoric site dating back 4,000 years in the Jiangsu province covering 14,000 square meters and a large palace site dating to 700 BC in the Hubei province.
In Japan, an 11-year-old boy unearthed a rare 5th century piece of stoneware. The sixth grader was participating in a ‘hands on excavation experience’ program in the town of Kamigori. Officials were surprised at the rarity of the artifact.
The United States government announced this week it would return more than 300 archaeological pieces to Mexico. The artifacts include pre-Columbian ceramics, sculptures and a 14thcentury skull and snail shell engraved with warriors and deities thought to belong to the Mixtec culture. The pieces were part of a US Customs seizure in 1994 that included additional 500 artifacts from Latin America and Africa. Officials stated they plan to return all pieces to their countries of origin.
Original Headline: Tomb raider jailed for Getty goddess
In Rome, the Italian courts sent a zero tolerance message to those dealing in stolen antiquities by jailing an 80-year-old dealer. Investigators uncovered his involvement in a smuggling network after spotting a 2,500-year-old statue of Aphrodite at the Getty Museum in California. The statue was plundered from a site at Morgantina in 1970. Getty returned the piece in 1999 and the dealer will be spending the two years in prison.
On Saturday August 4th, three stories lead the news:
In the U.S. a non-profit group said they have located the first USS Arizona, a Union gunboat that caught fire and sunk in 1865 in the Mississippi River. Sonar showed the wreckage is about two-thirds exposed above the river bottom in 100 feet of water. Still considered Navy property, the group has been authorized to dive and collect artifacts. The more famous USS Arizona sunk at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
From London, the British Museum announced it will not return to China any of the cultural relics purportedly taken by archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein in the early 1900’s. The artifacts include paintings, scrolls, bronze deities and The Diamond Sutra which dates back to 868 AD and is one the oldest printed books in existence. A small number are on display while the remaining are stored in vaults. According to officials, the British Museum Act of 1963 forbids the return of any item to the country of origin.
A 16th century medal was unearthed from ruins in southwestern Japan. The medal is believed to be Christian in origin and was found in the ruins of a house occupied by feudal lord Sorin (1530-1587) who had welcomed Christianity to the region. The artifact is one of only two such pieces found in Japan.
In Berkley California, in the United States, a series of lectures has suggested the shellmounds of the Bay Area may have played a more complex role in Native American life than previously thought. Once numbering in the hundreds, the mounds were believed to be the garbage dumps of European settlers and most have been destroyed. Experts stated that these sites should be looked at through a ‘new interpretive lens’ that takes into account the symbolic importance. Considered to be place of mortuary feasting and places where people were physically buried, it is believed that more went on in these locations.
In our final story the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has returned a 3,330-year-old engraving to Cairo. The object, stolen 60 years ago, was purchased by the Museum from its owner in order to return it to Egypt. The 19-inch by 12-inch engraving shows the wife of Pharaoh Seti I feeding a child with the words “Seti I” and “milk” etched in hieroglyphs. Seti I was a 19th Dynasty Pharaoh who ruled Egypt from 1,318 BC to 1,304 BC.
That’s the news for this week! For more archaeological and historical news stories, check out Archaeologica on the World Wide Web at www.archaeologica.org
I’m Claire Britton-Warren, thanks for tuning in to this week’s edition of the Audio News from Archaeologica. I’ll see you next week!