Audio News for July 1st to July 7th, 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 July 1st through July 7th.
Royal Egyptian wife and mother was also a feminist
In a recent report of their research, French archaeologists are asserting that an Egyptian Queen fought 4,000 years ago for equal political rights and was granted the honor of a pharaonic burial. In a reinterpretation of texts in the pyramid of the Queen Ankhenespepi II at Saqqara, researchers found that the engravings were meant to allow her to become immortal, a tribute previously restricted to the pharaohs. The discovery of the texts was announced two years ago, but the indications published at the time said they were prayers for the immortality of the pharaohs, not her own. The funerary complex was built for this influential woman, and the pyramid texts engraved in the tomb chamber were meant to open the road of eternity before her. Ankhenespepi II married two kings, Pepi I and his successor Merenre, and then ruled for many years as regent for her son, Pepi II, who was only six years old when he rose to assume the throne. Because she ruled like a king, she claimed the right to immortality, implementing a pharaonic version of equal rights and duties. According to Manetho, an Egyptian historian of the third century BC, Pepi II ruled 94 years, the longest reign in history. Pepi II was also the last pharaoh of the Old Kingdom, a period covering four centuries (2600 to 2200 BC) that ended in the chaos of a rebellion during which royal tombs were desecrated and pillaged.
Chinese site turns up another coin of Byzantium
In China, a Byzantine gold coin was recently discovered in Dulan in the Qinghai Province and it may offer news theories on the history of East-West trade routes. The coin was made during the reign of Theodosius II, who ruled the later Roman Empire till AD 450. The coin was found in a tomb from China’s Northern Dynasties, which lasted from AD 386 to 550. This is the second ancient Roman gold coin unearthed in Dulan. Experts stated that a number of recent archeological findings from the tombs, including this coin, have focused attention on Dulan County deep in the Qaidam Basin. They believe the region occupied a very important position for East-West traffic during the early and middle fifth century. Before sea routes opened between the East and the West, the Silk Road was the land corridor linking China with Central and Western Asia to the eastern shore of the Mediterranean between 100 BC and AD 800.
Divers eye U.S. deep water shipwreck
From the United States, archaeologists will conduct the country’s first full excavation of a historic shipwreck off the southern coast. Oilworkers discovered the wreck in 2001, and named it Mica, after the oilfield. The ship measures approximately 80 feet long. Lying below about 2,625 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico, it is the oldest known deep-water wreck in the area. Team members plan to explore it using remote-operated vehicles, the Navy's NR-1 nuclear research submarine and other tools. Because of the depth of the exploration, the expedition will be a unique group effort between ExxonMobil, the military, Texas A&M's Department of Oceanography and Nautical Archaeology Program and the Marine Mineral Management Service, which oversees oil exploration. The vessel is clad in copper, a common practice from about 1775 to 1830 for keeping out wood-boring parasites, though not often used on such small ships. Work will include mapping the wreck, and hunting for artifacts that might give clues to the date the ship sank and its name. Such information could help lead the researchers to historic records of the ship.
Unique Islamic atlas acquired by Bodleian
In England, the Bodleian Library at University of Oxford has purchased what could be the most important Islamic scientific manuscript to come on the market for the last 100 years. 'The Book of Strange Arts and Visual Delights' is a medieval Arabic manuscript, which contains important and previously unknown series of colorful maps, providing a view into medieval concepts of the world. The 96-page manuscript includes two books, the first on celestial matters and the second on terrestrial matters. It includes two world maps, a map of Sicily and one of Cyprus, as well as astral diagrams. Most are unparalleled in any other Greek, Latin, or Arabic material known. The author is not known, but he acknowledges the Fatimid imams, who ruled at Cairo from 969-1171. This demonstrates that the work was composed in the late 11th or early 12th century, and the copy now owned by the Library was probably made in the late 12th or early 13th century in Egypt or Syria. The manuscript is to undergo conservation work, and it is expected that a working copy will be available by late 2002.
Sunken temple ruins may be missing pagodas
Our final story is from India, where underwater structures found in the Bay of Bengal could solve the mystery of seven pagodas dating back to the 7th century. The Archaeological Survey of India has discovered three walls and a number of carved architectural members of ancient temples about 1,500 feet off shore. According to researchers, the walls are made of thick slabs of granite. Two long stone slabs, each with two vertical slits to receive two other stone slabs, were kept upright. Several such blocks arranged in a row formed a wall. The remains are well carved and look like the moldings and pillars of a temple. The ASI is planning to undertake diving toward the south of the temple. Experts will trace the submerged structures and clean them to confirm their conclusions. A local legend that tells of submerged offshore temples was first recorded by William Chambers, a British traveler, in the Asiatic Research Journal in 1788. He quoted older people having seen the ''tops of several pagodas far out in sea'', covered with copper. By the time Chambers visited the place, ''the effect was no longer the same as the copper had been encrusted with mold and verdigris.''
That wraps up the news for this week!
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For Claire Britton-Warren, I’m Laura Pettigrew, and I'll see you next week!