Audio News for February 4th to February 11th, 2002.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! This is Rick Pettigrew for The Archaeology Channel. Technical problems got in the way of the Audio News for the past couple of weeks, but now we’re getting back on track. I'm filling in for Claire Britton-Warren this week and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from February 4th through February 10th. We hope you find this a valuable part of your day.
Global warming threatens England's wetland archaeological sites
The Council for British Archaeology announced that new studies show the potential loss of entire groups of ancient settlements and artifacts due to climatic changes in Britain's wetlands. Thousands of archaeological sites and artifacts have already been lost from the wetlands in the past 50 years because of this climate change. Wetlands are ideal for preserving organic remains because the waterlogged peat can prevent decomposition for thousands of years. This preservation is lost when the peat dries up and shrinks, thus exposing the artifacts to air. Using measurements taken at various over a period of 10 years it is estimated that ground surface height is decreasing by two to three yards per century in arable wetlands. Rates are likely to increase over the next few decades as the summers get hotter and drier. Proposals are being considered to slow the damage.
Cave art found in Dominican Republic
Archaeologists in the Dominican Republic have discovered rock paintings in a cave in the western region of the country. The 43 images were done in black, with fine, gentle brush strokes, and mostly representations of humans. Some of the art demonstrates a clear geometrical tendency. Experts noted the artists apparently used a stalactite as a pendulum and traced its movements. Among the new discoveries are small human figures with elaborate headdresses and what appear to be earflaps. Adolfo Lopez, a Spanish researcher associated with the Museum of Dominican Man, said that the Dominican Republic is one of the countries with the most rock art in the whole world. Lopez nevertheless emphasized that "only 5 percent of the country has been explored.”
Threats face ancient Peruvian city
Original Headline: Ancient Peruvian city in dire peril
The remains of a Peruvian city thought to be the oldest in the Americas could be lost to erosion and exposure, scientists are saying. Caral, whose importance was brought to the world's attention last year, was recently named one of the world's most-endangered sites. Signs are appearing that the structures and artwork are beginning to crumble. The site faces the added risks of agricultural intrusion, looting, governmental failure to protect, and insufficient funds for conservation. Caral, a complex of stone temples, altars and dwellings located 110 miles north of Lima, dates to before 2,600 BC; around the same time the Giza pyramids were built in Egypt. The World Monuments Fund is seeking funds to assist the cash strapped government with preservation. To learn more about the site, go to our Audio Interview with Dr. Ruth Shady, chief archaeologist at Caral, right here on The Archaeology Channel.
London Museum opens up huge archive
The Museum of London, Europe's largest archived archaeological collection, will be opening it's doors to the public when it launches the London Archaeological Archive and Research Center. Stored in 120,000 cardboard boxes stacked on more than six miles of shelves, the collections includes more than 200,000 individually recorded finds, over 7,000 human skeletons, and excavated objects including everything from Roman pomegranate seeds to Saxon jewelry to Tudor tankards. All of this was dug up in Britain over the past two centuries. The new center would allow the public and as well as academics and researchers to hold ancient artifacts in their hands and learn about their discovery and context. Anyone with access to the Internet will be able to search for archaeological sites or particular finds. They can also hunt out types of discoveries, such as combs, moulds or scabbards.
Stacked cities announced in China
Original Headline: Six Piled-up Ancient Cities Discovered Under Kaifeng
In China, six ancient cities, stacked one on top the other, have been unearthed. All except the oldest, dating back 2,000 years, have now been fully excavated. The announcement follows 20 years of digs at the site in Henan(he-nan) province and confirms the centuries-old suspicion among local residents that the ground contains a pile of lost cities. The search began in 1981 after workers found a Ming Dynasty mansion, once the home of a prince, while dredging a lake. Cities from the Qing (ching) Dynasty, the Jin period, the Northern Song Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty have all been uncovered.
Details surface on Civil War sub crew
Studies in the US continue on the remains of the crew from the excavated Civil War-era submarine H.L. Hunley. Experts are beginning to get a clearer picture of the men who died when the world's first successful attack sub mysteriously sank in 1864. One surprise was how tall they were. The captain of the 43-foot sub, Lt. George Dixon, was 6-feet tall and the others were also much taller than the scientists had expected. The men ranged in age from 18 or 20 to their early 40s, and suffered back problems and torn rotator cuffs from cranking the sub's propeller. Teams of scientists have been assembling the bones recovered from the sub in skeletal form. The anthropologists will return in May to start a detailed study of the remains. Linda Abrams, a genealogist, has been trying to track down the history of the crewmembers. She said she had found descendants from possibly two crewmen, but still had not been able to find even the first names of some of the crew.
Egyptians: first gold miners?
The recent discovery of several Egyptian mines dating to 5,500-3,100 B.C. has researchers thinking the ancient Egyptians were the first to extract gold and using it to make jewelry. While the exact dates of the mines have yet to be confirmed, researcher Ali Barakat recently told the Egyptian State Information Service that the Egyptians who lived around the Red Sea were the world's first goldsmiths and the first to map geological. He also said that they developed an effective technique for extracting gold from quartz veins. Lisa Schwappach, Curator of the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, Calif., agrees that Egyptians were mining gold at an early date, but thinks that the Mesopotamians might have done so even earlier. The Egyptians worked with copper before gold, and may have picked up basic gold mining techniques from the Mesopotamians. According to Schwappach, "The Egyptians referred to it as the skin, or the flesh, of the gods because of its color. Gold was also associated with the sun and was extremely common in ancient Egypt. Silver was much rarer. Only two silver objects were found in King Tut's tomb: a trumpet and a vase in the shape of a pomegranate."
That wraps up the news for this week!
For more stories and daily news updates, visit Archaeologica on the World Wide Web at www.archaeologica.org , where all the news is history!
I'm Rick Pettigrew for Claire Britton-Warren and we'll see you next week!