Audio News for January 12th to January 18th.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Laura Pettigrew and these
are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from January 12th
to January 18th.
Exceptional Find in Croatia
Our first story is from Croatia, where archaeologists have found a
major Bronze Age discovery in a riverbed. The find is
considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites of the last
50 years. Items recovered from the river include more than 90 swords, a
Roman legionnaire's dagger complete with sheath, more than 30
Greco-Illyrian (i-LER-ee-an) helmets, plus numerous pieces of jewelry, axes
and spearheads. It is believed a large number of objects were thrown into
River Cetina (ce-TINA) deliberately, possibly as offerings to gods.
Initial surveys of the site indicate that the finds span a period of history from 6,000 BC onwards. 100-foot long timbers, clearly visible from
the riverbank, show evidence of late Neolithic or early Bronze Age wooden
settlements. As the majority of the Cetina (ce-TINA) Valley site is
waterlogged, the level of preservation is quite exceptional. This is
believed to be one of the most important archaeological wetlands in Europe.
Sediments in the river valley also provide an environmental record
covering around 10,000 years, offering an insight into the everyday lives
of the people who would have lived there. The team is to return to the
site in May to carry out an extensive survey.
Mummy Shows Pharoahs Worshipped the Lion
In Egypt, a mummified lion found in a tomb in the Nile Valley has confirmed
long-running theories that the pharaohs viewed the great animal as sacred.
The skeleton of the adult male lion was found at Saqqara, in what was
originally the tomb of King Tutankhamun's wet nurse, buried 3,500 years
ago. The tomb gradually became a burial chamber for the dynasties that
prevailed in the last centuries B.C. and who worshipped animal deities,
including the "cat goddess" Bastet. A French team stumbled across the
almost complete, undisturbed skeleton of the lion underneath a layer of
animal bones and human coffins in the funerary compartment of the two-level
site. Although there were no linen bandages to designate that the body
had been mummified, there was other evidence to indicate that it had; the
position of the skeleton, the presence of small fragments of tissue inside
the cavity of the canine teeth, and coloration of the bones that are
similar to those of mummified cats discovered on the site. The lion's
teeth and its calloused bones suggest it was kept in captivity and survived
to a ripe old age. The find is exceptional; it is the first time that a
complete lion skeleton has been found at a sacred pharaonic site. And it
confirms that lions were included in the cult of animal worship that
gripped the final centuries of the long reign of the pharaohs.
Tantalizing stone inscriptions have suggested lions were bred in the
precincts of sanctuaries and were buried in a sacred animal necropolis but
until now, no firm evidence has been found to back this.
Artifacts Found in Melting Yukon Snowfields
In Canada, archeologists working in the Yukon's melting snowfields hove
found some of the oldest evidence of human habitation in the territory.
After last year's warm summer melting, the territory's alpine snowfields have
become a rich source of artifacts from the territory's prehistory. The
sites have been the subject of worldwide attention since scientists
discovered the snowfields were once a favored summer hunting grounds. The
ancient weapons, tools and equipment used by the hunters still litter the sites, perfectly preserved by the ice. Yukon researcher Greg Hare keeps
one of the last field season's most fragile treasures – an ornately sewn,
small leather bag – in a small plastic tub. Radiocarbon techniques dates
the rare find of worked leather back to 1,400 years ago. Another object, a
1,200-year-old carved wooden piece, has scientists stumped as to its
purpose. Experts have never seen anything like it, and don't know what it
is, but were pleased to have found it on a new ice patch. This year's
prize is a wooden dart dated at just over 9,000 years old. These ancient
artifacts provide an insight into what the years immediately after the Ice
Age were like. Eighteen similar sites have now been identified across the
southern Yukon. American scientists are exploring two more sites just
discovered near Alaska's Denali Park last summer.
Could Dead Sea Anchor Be from Herod's Royal Yacht?
Our final story is from Israel, where an archaeologist has discovered what
he believes is a unique Roman-era wooden anchor on the shores of the Dead
Sea. Archaeologist Gideon Hadas said he would like to believe – but has no
proof – that the anchor came from a royal yacht of biblical King Herod who
ruled Judea at the time of Jesus’ birth and had a palace on nearby Mount
Masada. The 2000-year-old anchor, about six feet tall, was found last
month when it was protruding from the banks of the Dead Sea, revealed by
the receding waterline. Wooden anchors from that era have long since
fallen apart, but the unique conditions of the Dead Sea, with its high
concentration of salts and minerals, have helped to preserve this anchor.
While there is no record of Herod having a boat, it is recorded that in his
old age he would travel from Masada to hot springs on the eastern shore of
the Dead Sea for treatments. It is unlikely the ailing king traveled all
the long way around through the harsh desert by donkey. Herod is known for
building the second Jewish Temple and also beheading John the Baptist at
the behest of Salome, serving it to her on a platter. A special sled was
constructed to pull the anchor to where it will be examined. The lower half
of the anchor is still caked in Dead Sea sediment, the mud renowned for its
That wraps up the news for this week!
For more stories and daily news updates, visit Archaeologica on the World
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I’m Laura Pettigrew and I’ll see you next week!