Audio News for June 3rd to June 9th, 2002.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Claire Britton-Warren/Rick Pettigrew and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from April 15th through April 21st.
Low Tide Exposes Sunken Scottish Village
Our first story is from Scotland, where a quirk of nature and a member of the heritage society have uncovered a seaport buried 300 years ago. The town on Findhorn was established in a burgh of Barony in 1532. It was a thriving community and the principal harbor on the Moray Firth coast. In the 17th century, the harbor began to silt up, forcing the village to move up the coast several miles. In 1702, the town disappeared when the waters of the River Findhorn overran the sand barriers that had protected the community.
Recently, Tim Negus, a retired surgeon and a member of the local heritage society, took advantage of an exceptionally low spring tide to find parts of the lost town. Maps from the heritage center guided him to the location, where he spotted well-masoned stonework from a substantial building. The discovery of the village’s resting place fills a large gap in the region's history, but a detailed excavation will not be carried out due to shifting tides and dangerous currents.
Lives of Ancient Bureaucrats Revealed by New Egyptian Tomb
At Saqqara in Egypt, archaeologists have unearthed six 3,500-year-old tombs that are expected to add to our understanding of how the government functioned during the New Kingdom. Found at the foot of the third-dynasty Step Pyramid, the tombs appear to belong to government officials who worked in northern Egypt at the end of the 18th dynasty and early 19th dynasty (1567-1200 BC), at a time when the seat of power was in southern Egypt. One of the tombs was capped with a 15-inch block of limestone carved in the shape of a pyramid, a characteristic of New Kingdom burials that is an unusual find for northern Egypt. The six buried in the tombs included at least one royal scribe and a temple scribe. Archaeologists were still trying to determine the roles of all those buried played. It is believed they were administrators. It enlarges our knowledge of the government structure at the time, stated Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of the Antiquities.
New Architectural Features Uncovered at Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu
From Peru, previously undetected terraces, water channels and a wall located in the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu were discovered by National Culture Institute (INC) archeologists working in the area. Researchers and workers were removing thick vegetation to uncover possible additional ruins. The wall is adjacent to a group of farming terraces. The wall is a finely engineered stone structure, which separated the urban area from the sacred area. Near the same area archaeologists have also discovered a series of crescent-shaped platforms housing at least 20 niches, which may have been used by the Inca in the worship of their gods. Machu Picchu is near the southern Andean city of Cuzco, approximately 650 miles southeast of Lima. Cuzco was capital of the powerful Inca Empire from the 13th century to the 16th century. The empire stretched from Colombia to Chile.
Pocketwatch found on Civil War Submarine May Tell More Than Time
In the United States, the latest research on the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley reveals the recovery of the gold pocket watch of Lt. George Dixon. The timepiece, decorated on both sides and including a chain and fob, has not yet been opened. Opening the watch will be a delicate task. Archaeologists want to X-ray it to check the condition of its mechanisms, but first need to make sure radiation will not damage any possible photograph it might contain. Experts say that the watch may also contain a small pocket of trapped ancient air that could provide information from 1864 to scientists studyingatmospheric changes. Until the watch is opened, archaeologists will not know the time it stopped. The time could prove to be an important component in reconstructing the final voyage of the Hunley, which sank in a battle with the USS Housatonic on February 17, 1864.
Excavators of Scottish Stables Puzzled by Find of Rare Egyptian Carving
From Scotland, a funerary seal belonging to Tuthmosis III has been found in the rubble of an ancient bonfire in a 400-year-old stable block. The polished two-inch seal, made of a soft blue-gray stone, was found during excavations of Newhailes, a 17th-century country house near Edinburgh. Hieroglyphics carved inside a royal cartouche identify this as a seal of office, which would have been issued to a member of the royal household for the funeral of Tuthmosis III, who reigned in 1500 BC. Archaeologists working at the historic Scottish house said, “How it came to be discarded among the remains of a bonfire buried under the courtyard of the stable we can only guess. It appears to have been hollowed out and adapted as perhaps the handle of a riding crop and at some later stage discarded with the rubbish."
Ancient Central Asia May Be Home of Early Horse Tamers
Our final story is from Kazakhstan in central Asia, where archaeologists are tracing the earliest proof of horse domestication. Evidence suggests the untamed animal was once a ferocious creature hunted for its meat across Eurasia. But at a site in the north of the region, the scientists are now attempting to establish to what extent these creatures were under the control of humans. Researchers have discovered whole vertebral columns, skulls and massive equine hipbones at Krasnyi Yar. To confirm their suspicions, the archaeologists need to find out if the animals were brought back to the site as carcasses. No evidence has been found that the animals were slaughtered on site, leading experts to their theories of domestication. The process of horse domestication is one of the least understood and most controversial aspects of Eurasian prehistory. Where and when the process began is a crucial part of the story of human use of the horse, perhaps the most important animal in history. The work at Krasnyi Yar could yield this knowledge. The site was inhabited by the Botai culture around 5,500 years ago. Excavations at the village have revealed more than 160 houses aligned in an organized plan.
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 Claire Britton-Warren and I'll see you next week!