Audio News for May 13th to May 19th, 2002.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Laura Pettigrew filling in for Claire Britton-Warren and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from May 13th through May 19th.
Bronze Age archer found with spectacular grave goods
In Britain, an Early Bronze Age burial has astonished archaeologists. The grave of a man was found at Amesbury near Stonehenge and contains far more objects than any other burial of its age, about 2,300 BC. The man has been identified as an archer based on stone arrowheads and stone wrist guards. The discovery is unique because of quantity and quality of the artifacts. Along with the archery equipment, more than 100 pieces were uncovered including three copper knives and a pair of gold earrings. These are some of the earliest kinds of metal objects found in Britain. The fact that so many valuable objects were found together is unusual. The area around Stonehenge is known for its Bronze Age burials, but experts point out that this burial is several hundred years earlier than any of them.
Technology brings Wyoming students to the Caribbean
From the Untied States, students at a Wyoming middle school are learning about archaeology and history using an Internet conference link. By logging in, the students are following a dig in the Dominican Republic where experts are looking for evidence of Christopher Columbus' ships. The lesson plan and uplink gave the children an opportunity to have their questions answered by archaeologists and field experts in real time. Following the dig is teaching them about the archaeological process and about the history of the region. Students have been able to talk with the native people, the Tainos (TI-nos), about their thoughts and feelings on Columbus, who many feel invaded their homeland. They've also been able to see what the schools on the island are like.
Ink dates Galileos theory of falling bodies
In London, physicists have solved the mystery of when Galileo formulated his theory of Falling Bodies. Using x-ray analysis to determine various metal ratios in the ink he used, researchers at Indiana University were able to date the text by comparing it with other samples. It was found that the ink used in Galileo's notes on the law was also used in financial records dated 1604. Historians have been perplexed about exactly when he formulated the law, which says that objects of different mass fall at the same rate under the Earth's gravity, because it is not included in a text written in 1590 but was finished by the time he completed another work in 1632. Most of the notes of the distinguished Italian mathematician and astronomer between those periods were not dated.
Australian zoo keepers uncover mysterious cannons
In Australia, workers at a Sydney zoo have found three cast-iron Scottish cannons believed to date back to the late 1700s. The cannons, each weighing about 450 pounds, were found less than two feet below the ground. A worker found the artifacts while digging up land for a new exhibit. New South Wales state Premier Bob Carr says that archaeologists have inspected the site, but no other relics have been found. "Weapons of this type have not been found in Australia before and have great historical significance," he said. The zoo hopes to place the cannons on permanent display. Experts think the cannons may have been used in the Napoleonic wars but it's a mystery how they got to this site.
Historians compile digital library of cuneiform tablets
At the University of California, Los Angeles, 5,200-year-old cuneiform writing system is going online in dictionary, photographic and 3-D forms. The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative has put digital photos of 60,000 tablets online and hopes to post 60,000 more, all from 3200 to 2000 BC. When completed in five to 10 years, the dictionary will tie with other ongoing projects in England and Baltimore with to bring ancient Sumeria into the modern age. About 120,000 cuneiform tablets are scattered throughout the world. Thousands more are plundered each year in Iraq and dumped on the world antiquities market. Cuneiform tablets hold the Code of Hammurabi, the world's first recorded legal code, as well as early religious texts and even the world's first recorded prescription.
English archaeologists reveal surprising Roman site
Our final story is from Cheshire, England, where archaeologists have discovered a large Roman settlement and salt works. The site dates back to the first century and is believed to have been a large-scale industrial community. Along with the industrial works, the complex includes a domestic area and the remains of a Roman road. Also found were a Roman altar, timber-framed buildings, shoes, coins, and pottery. According to the researchers, the new discoveries are suggesting that the site was run by the Roman military rather than the local Romano-Britons. The complexity of the site is reported to be surprising. It is providing an insight into the volume of salt working of the time.
That wraps up the news for this week!
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Visit us again next week when Claire Britton-Warren returns with another batch of new finds from the world of archaeology!