Audio News for September 9th to September 15th, 2002
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Claire Britton-Warren
and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from
September 9th to September 15th.
Egyptian workers ate well under Roman rule
Our first story is from a remote area of the Egyptian desert where
archeologists concluded Roman quarrymen employed in the desert may have
worked like slaves but they ate like emperors. The discovery of well
preserved rubbish dumps at two large quarry complexes dating to the
first four centuries AD shows evidence of some 55 different food plants
and 20 sources of animal protein. Dietary staples included wheat,
lentils, dates, onions, garlic, olives, coriander, donkey meat and wine
- all brought in from the Nile valley - as well as fish from the Red
There were also luxuries, which included artichoke, hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts, pomegranate, almonds, grapes, figs, melon, cucumber
and even black pepper imported all the way from India. The most
surprising find was seeds of lettuce, mint, cress, leaf beet and
cabbage, which showed that fresh vegetables were grown locally.
Documents confirmed the presence of gardens, but all evidence of the
garden plots themselves is thought to have been washed away by floods.
The two sites are where stone was quarried for majestic Roman buildings
Germany to rebuild Bronze Age observatory
In Germany, experts hope to rebuild a Bronze Age observatory where 3,600
years ago, priests used the solar calendar to foretell days for planting
and harvesting. The site on a hill in the middle of a forest is the
world's oldest surviving astronomical observatory.
Relic hunters stumbled on the site four years ago and dug up the world's
oldest astronomical map, a 32-centimetre bronze disc, but the first
scientific excavation of the site only began last month. The head of the
Halle (HAL-le) Prehistoric Museum said the dig has shown the structure
was probably built of logs, not stone. Dating of artifacts suggest the
ancients used it for more than 1,000 years. The circular site, 600 feet
across, has features that line up with rising points of the sun.
Recently archaeologists have found more than 100 artifacts including
half a neck ring with a spiral decoration that dates to about 2,700
years ago. The identity of the Bronze Age people of the region has been
lost, with only their hut sites, graves and artifacts left. It is
impossible to guess the language they spoke. The location has been kept
secret so artifacts robbers will not disturb it, but the media will be
granted a first glimpse September 25.
Pyramid of the Moon may solve Mexican mystery
From Mexico, researchers working in Teotihuacan (TAE-oh-tee-wa-KON),
the "City of the gods," are closing in on a mystery regarding the form
of government at this major ancient pre-Hispanic city. Scientists said
excavations inside the "Pyramid of the Moon" at Teotihuacan
(TAE-oh-tee-wa-KON) are pointing to a presence in the tomb of an
important personality, possibly a king. Mexican and Japanese
archeologists leading the expedition believe that Teotihuacan
(TAE-oh-tee-wa-KON), a city of 150,000 inhabitants at its height between
AD 200 and 700, could have been a kingdom. The discovery of a royal tomb would confirm that theory. Experts believe that if a tomb of a king or
of a person of high rank exists, the Pyramid of the Moon would be the
most logical place for its location. The Pyramid of the Moon Project,
begun in 1998, is backed by Mexican and U.S. institutions and has
received funding from the National Geographic Society.
Archaeologists are now awaiting the completion of that work, which will
place steel girders to ensure the structure does not collapse, before
they continue excavating the tunnel, located midway up the pyramid about
100 feet above ground.
Bronze Age burials are uncovered in Sidon
In Lebanon, several Bronze Age graves have been unearthed including that
of an ancient warrior buried with his ax in Sidon (SID-on). The
warrior's grave dates back to the Middle Bronze Age, around the second
millennium BC, and included an unusually well preserved bronze duck-bill
ax with a wooden handle. The team from the British Museum also
discovered four Middle Bronze Age children buried in jars, two of them
with Egyptian scarabs. The archaeologists, in their fourth season of
excavations at the site, said a Byzantine grave marker with an engraved
cross shows that the city had been continuously occupied. They said they
also found a Phoenician inscription on a piece of pottery, the first
such inscription found in Sidon from the ancient seafarers. The Sidon
dig was the first urban excavation in Lebanon since Beirut was excavated
in the 1990s. Archaeologists digging in central Beirut, during
rebuilding after the civil war, unearthed traces of successive
civilizations going back 5,000 years.
Ancient Macedonian dead were clad in gold
Our finals story is from Macedonia, where forty graves, most of them
untouched by thieves, are shedding light on burial rituals and life in
the ancient civilization and showing the wealth they hoped would follow
them into the afterlife. The mid-sixth century BC graves are in an
ancient cemetery, used from the Iron Age (1000 BC) through the early
Hellenistic Age (up to 280 BC). The ancient settlement, whose name is
unknown, was the most important urban center in the northern part of the
ancient province of Bottiaia (BOT-tee-EYE-a) during the prehistoric and
historical periods until the end of the fifth century BC, when Pella
became the new capital of the Macedonian Kingdom.
Experts said the ancient Macedonians buried their dead in wooden sarcophagi in pit
graves, the men with their heads facing west or north, the women facing
east or south. Warriors were buried with their armor and weapons (bronze
helmet with gold strips, iron sword with gold decoration, knives and spear tips). They wore gold and silver mouthpieces, gold, silver or
ivory rings on the fingers and precious metal clasps on their garments.
Their shoes were decorated with gold ribbons and rosettes, while their
leather or linen cuirasses and other garments were ornamented with gold
foil decorated with rampant lions, plants and geometric designs. The
women were also richly garbed from top to toe. One woman had been buried
wearing a gold mouthpiece, with her eyes covered by gold foil in the
shape of eyes.
The bodies of both men and women were accompanied by clay
figurines of people and animals, bronze and clay pots, and metal models
of farm carts and furniture, which indicate funeral rites, beliefs and
the activities of the dead in the other world.
That wraps up the news for this week! For more stories and daily news
Archaeologica on the World Wide Web at www.archaeologica.org , where all
the news is
I'm Claire Britton-Warren and I'll see you next week!