Audio News for August 6th to August 12th, 2001.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Claire Britton-Warren and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from August 6th through August 12th, 2001.
A recent discovery in the United Kingdom has shown that during the Dark Ages the Celts held beach parties to welcome traders. Experts have unearthed stylish dinnerware along with 2,400 pieces of animal bone and 530 fragments of 6th century eastern Mediterranean wine amphorae from regions of North Africa, Palestine and Turkey. Evidence indicates guests filled themselves on a variety of meats and washed it down with great quantities of the Byzantine wine. Archaeologists stated the finds might be an important clue to Britain’s relationship with the wider world.
From the central United States, an extraordinary find of seventy axe heads was discovered. The axe heads, which were dated at 900 years old were brand new when they were buried. They are made of a volcanic rock found only in the west. Experts believe the pieces were an indicator of wealth or social status and the un-used condition hints that the burial was part of some commemorative ritual.
In Scotland, the ramparts of an ancient fortress were unearthed at Wallace Monument, the 13th century fortress of William Wallace who was immortalized in the film, Braveheart. This site is now known to be far older and more significant than previously thought. The 3,000-year-old battlements were constructed of stone laced with timber and flat flagstones where lookouts patrolled. The ancient structure is considered one of Scotland’s best examples of ‘vitrification’-the use of fire to bind timber and stone.
More than a dozen mace heads were discovered in northwest China. Dating back 3,000 to 5,000 years ago, the pieces are similar to those used by kings of Ancient Egypt. The heads are made of stone, jade and bronze and in the shape of balls, pentagrams, sheep and bull’s heads. Previous discoveries had shown east/west cultural exchanges dating back 2,000 years. Now Archaeologists feel this find greatly pushes back that date.
In Bulgaria, the remains of a prestigious Byzantium monastery were uncovered. Dating back 10 centuries, experts are classifying it as one of the richest churches of the Byzantine Empire. So far, 15 noble seals had been found along with a matrix, worn by a monastic superior as a pendant. It is made of black onyx and contains the monastery’s seal. The entrance to a well-preserved main church was unearthed along with surrounding buildings. Experts are calling this one of Bulgaria’s most important discoveries.
In Norway, Archaeologists have discovered an untouched 8th century Viking grave. The grave measures 6 and a half feet in length and contains a variety of weaponry, a glass pearl, a bronze buckle and several types of fabric. There are no signs of a funeral pyre. Experts say the rare completeness of this find will provide a reference point for assessing other less complete finds. Experts will return to the site in autumn for further research.
A United States court has blocked a construction project and granted permission for an exploratory dig to take place on an ancient Native American site. The lawsuit contended that construction would destroy an area that held native villages over a 10,000-year period. The dig will be the subject of a geomorphologic study. This study is not focused on artifacts but examines soil structure for archaeological potential. Leaders of the Lenape tribe are protesting the use of a backhoe for the research. Results are to be presented later this month.
From inside the ancient walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, archaeologists have unearthed what is believed to be part of a palace built for King Herod. Dating back 2,000 years, five walls from two different periods were found and a large platform for the palace. Four of the walls, built from limestone, are considered to be the palace of Herod. The experts say their theory is based on descriptions of the area by first century historian Flavius Josephus and their own knowledge of Herod’s architectural style. Herod reigned from 37 BC to 4 BC.
In Greece, Archaeologists report finding two rare Roman tombs near the port city of Patras. Dating back to the first century BC, the discovery was considered ‘monumental’ and is the only one of its kind in the area. The tombs are still sealed and the contents of the tombs have not yet examined, but researchers report one has gold plated walls and two female marble busts at its entrance! Measuring 13 feet wide, 12 feet long and having 13-foot roofs, experts speculate the tombs were part of a private graveyard belonging to a retired Roman soldier.
In Egypt, the idea that statues were only sculpted to glorify kings, queens and deities was dispelled by the recent discovery of a life size effigy of a military officer. The statue is of Neb-Re, a commander in the Army of Pharaoh Ramsess II who was charged with protecting Egypt’s western border from Libya. The well-preserved piece features the commander in military costume holding a text in his right hand.
A team of experts has returned to Iceland to the crash site of a World War II bomber that has been buried in ice for 60 years. The goal of the group was to make the site safe, to preventing looting and to return personal effects to the families of the airmen. A previous operation was cut short because of movement in the glacier where the wreckage lies, near the summit of a 4,000 foot mountain. The remains of the airman were found last August and returned to their homes.
Scottish archaeologists stopped the Aberdeen University from demolishing a condemned residence until they could take a closer look at it. They believe the site may contain a historic palace dating to the 12th century! Experts feel the palace belonged a Bishop who was a diplomat for King Robert the Bruce in 1320 The palace was leveled by King Edward III in 1336 and rebuilt in 1459 only to be demolished, once and for all, in 1651.
That wraps up the news for this week!
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I’m Claire Britton-Warren and I’ll see you next week!