Audio News for December 29th to January 4th.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Laura Pettigrew and these
are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from December 29th
to January 4th.
World's Oldest Leper Unearthed in Jerusalem
Our first story is from Jerusalem where an Israeli archaeologist has
unearthed what are believed the oldest remains of a leprosy victim. The
2,000-year-old remains of a man were found in a niche of a family burial
cave in the city's Hinnom (HIN-nom) Valley. Until now the oldest findings
of leprosy, known in medical terms as Hansen's Disease, were from the
Byzantine period, around the fifth century. Researchers say that the
Hebrew word "Shara," mentioned in the Bible, could be interpreted to mean
not only leprosy but also other forms of skin diseases. The Jerusalem find
confirms that people in the time of the New Testament did suffer from leprosy. Although the discovery was made three years ago, publication of
the results were held off until DNA tests confirmed the man suffered
leprosy and a meticulous examination of the bones and fibers in the
skeleton's shroud were complete.
Possible Clues of North American Migration Found in Siberia
From Siberia, Russian archaeologists say humans occupied the freezing lands
high above the Arctic Circle during the last Ice Age. The Institute for the
History of Material Culture in St Petersburg, Russia, and others have
uncovered numerous new artifacts from Yana (YA-na) in northern Siberia
that have pushed back the human presence in the Arctic to 30,000 years,
surprising many experts. The finds also hint that North America may have
been populated much earlier than thought given the dig's proximity to the
Bering Strait. The artifacts, made by modern humans, include spear
"foreshafts" and stone tools. Foreshafts are the long part of the spear
that had attached spear-points and were used for hurling at prey. They
allowed hunters to replace broken spear-points quickly and throw the spear
again. Two of these found at the site are made from mammoth ivory, while
another is somewhat remarkable in being created from the horn of a woolly
rhino. The animal bones found at the site belong to mammoths, bison and
horses amongst others. The site also shows that people adapted to the
harsh, high-latitude, Late Pleistocene environment much earlier than
previously thought. The Yana (YA-na) River valley is about 300 miles above
the Arctic Circle. Around 30,000 years ago, human hunters would have
needed all their resilience and ingenuity to survive in this freezing
environment, especially during winter. The artifacts found at the site
date to a time when the climate was in the process of cooling down, turning
open meadows into frozen tundra. But it is impossible to know how long
humans occupied the region, or whether they lived there at all. They may
simply have made excursions here from bases in warmer climates.
Intriguingly, the researchers are suggesting that the foreshafts they used
bear a likeness to those of the Clovis people, long regarded as the first
human settlers of North America. To some researchers, the observation that
people had adapted to living in the Arctic by 30,000 years ago raises the
possibility that settlers could have reached North America even earlier.
But the suggestion is considered highly controversial.
Egyptian Excavation Yields Tomb of Ancient Official
In Egypt, Polish and Egyptian teams have unearthed a necropolis containing
the 4,000-year-old stone tomb of a royal official. The necropolis near the
pyramids of Saqqara, about 15 miles south of Cairo, contained the tomb of
the priest of the pyramids of kings Unas and Teti, who ruled successively
from 2375 to 2291BC. The rectangular-shaped tomb had false doors, a chapel and a burial chamber decorated with scenes showing deceased's daily life.
It also portrays his titles which include that of keeper of the king's
property and the head steward of the Great House. Most of the reliefs were
very well preserved, the most impressive being one showing the deceased
walking with his son. The tomb was found below a dense cluster of mummy
remains, wooden coffins and skeletons that dated back to the late ancient
Egyptian period, known as the Ptolemaic and Greco-Roman periods.
Original Inhabitants of Britain Annihilated by Romans
Our final story is from Scotland; where new research has unearthed evidence
that Roman legions may have caused such widespread destruction that some
areas took centuries to recover. Archaeologists investigating one of the
largest campaign camps in Britain have suggested that the military force of
Rome may have radically reduced the numbers of native peoples, leaving
large areas of the country empty for hundreds of years. Excavations in
Aberdeenshire are revealing that the occupation lasting between the first
and third centuries AD was followed by a break of site activity for more
than 300 to 400 years. Experts say they don't have evidence of burnt houses
or the like to prove destruction. However, there is no gap in occupation
before the Romans arrived at the site, followed by a run of activity for
600 years, and finally a long period of minimal activity after the leaving
of the Romans. A number of fascinating artifacts and buildings were also
discovered in the recent dig, including a beaker decorated with crushed
bone and a series of 30 roundhouses dating from 1500BC to AD100. The
entrances of the roundhouses move in counter-clockwise directions over
time. The findings also hint that the legions may have brought treasure
from Europe in an attempt to bribe boisterous local tribes. One of the most
fascinating finds was a Roman casket, the first of its kind to be found in
Britain. Archaeologists think it may have carried a vast bribe to pay off
local tribal leaders. The camp would have been home to several thousand
men and was on the line of the Roman advance into northeast Scotland. It
is thought the troops may have been a staging area for troops heading for
Mons Graupius ( MONZ GRAU-pi-us) in AD84, where they won a bloody victory
over Caledonian tribesmen. In AD 83, the Caledonian tribes faced invasion,
and according to Tacitus (TAS-i-tus), the Roman historian, turned to armed
resistance on a large scale, attacking Roman forts and their legions.
Agricola (a-GRIK-o-la), the Roman governor, advanced into the Caledonians'
stronghold in the summer of AD84, resulting in the battle and the loss of
around 10,000 Caledonian lives.
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 Laura Pettigrew and I’ll see you next week!