Audio News for August 30th to September 5th
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Laura Kelley and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from August 30th to September 5th.
New Thracian treasure revealed in Bulgaria
Our first story is from Bulgaria, where a new Thracian treasure was unearthed in a highland tomb. Bulgarian archaeologists working in the region near the city Kazanlak (ka-ZAN-lak) displayed a golden necklace and a pair of earrings from the tomb. Dozens of Thracian mounds are spread throughout this region, dubbed "the Bulgarian valley of kings" in reference to the Valley of Kings near Luxor, which is home to the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs. The Thracian tribes lived on the fringes of the Greek and Roman civilizations, and fought often with the more advanced cultures until they were absorbed around 45 AD. The homeland of these dispersed tribes is now in modern-day Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Turkey and Greece. Archaeologist Georgi Kitov (YORG-ee KEE-tof), head of the team, said the jewelry dates back to the first half of the 4th century BC. The golden beads of the necklace are hollow and weigh just 20 grams. Earlier in August, Bulgarian archaeologists unearthed a 2,500-year-old gold mask believed to show the face of King Seutus III (SYOO-tus), a 5th century BC leader of the Thracians.
Vikings to invade England again, in replica ship
The current Queen of Denmark, whose ancestors once raided continental Europe and the British Isles, will christen a replica of a 1,000-year-old Viking ship that was built with a more peaceful purpose. The Vikings are preparing to cross the North Sea again. Plans are for a crew of 60 men to sail the vessel to Britain and Ireland in 2007 along the routes once used by marauding Norsemen. Builders say this is the world's longest Viking ship reconstruction. Crew members will study how Viking ships behave at sea. They're also planning to exchange knowledge with their British and Irish colleagues about the Viking warriors who once ruled over large parts of northern Europe and traded with merchants as far away as Central Asia. The ship is a replica of a vessel believed to have been built in 1042 by a Norse chieftain in Dublin, which was founded by Vikings. Craftsmen working since 2000 on the 90-foot-long and nearly 15-foot-wide ship have used hammers, chisels, knives, spoon bits and axes made by a blacksmith to resemble Viking tools. They also used 7,000 hand-forged iron rivets. To keep it as authentic as possible, a flax sail was woven, and two miles of rigging was made from linen rope and horse hair. The precise route and program for the Britain and Ireland trips have not been decided yet. Before heading west, the crew will test the maneuverability of the ship and get used to the many hours of rowing, eating and drinking on board. The actual journey is expected to take two weeks.
Ancient tomb found in shadow of the Pyramids
In Egypt, the antiquities chief revealed a 2,500-year-old hidden tomb under the shadow of one of Giza's three giant pyramids. It contained 400 small statues and six coffin-sized niches carved into granite rock. Archaeologists had been working for three months to clear sand from a granite shaft found between the pyramid of Khafre and the Sphinx. On Thursday, Giza's latest ancient discovery came to light after archaeologists detected what appeared to be a four-sided shaft. The antiquities chief verified it by climbing a pyramid to get a bird's eye look. Excavators later removed several tons of fine sand to descend 33 feet below ground level to where they found the niches. A wooden coffin and a pile of turquoise-colored figurines made of faience, a non-clay ceramic material used by ancient Egyptians, were also found. Workers will continue clearing sand from the shaft for a further 33 feet, where they suspect more antiquities, including a granite sarcophagus, could be unearthed. The shaft was built in late Egyptian times, the 26th pharaonic dynasty, during a period of cultural revival.
The virtual trowel lets viewers learn archaeology online
In our final story, students and archaeology enthusiasts alike will be able to catch a glimpse of a real archaeological dig online, by December. The Old Pueblo Archaeology Center, in the American Southwest, is building an interactive website called the "Web of Archaeology." The website will be set up with the modern ground surface on the screen, so that viewers can decide how to excavate it, according to the center's executive director, Al Dart. The center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating people about archaeology and to researching the Native American cultures of the Southwest. It concentrates for the most part on the Hohokam (HO-ho-kahm) Indians, who inhabited southern and central Arizona from 400 BC. until the mid 1400s. Several controversies exist regarding the Hohokam – for instance, whether their platform mounds housed the elite members of Hohokam society, or had religious and ceremonial purposes. The Hohokam are thought to have played a variation of the Mesamerican sport, tlachco (TLAHCH-co), but in oval ball courts, not rectangular. They left irrigation canals, some of them still in use today, and semi-subterranean housing, called pithouses, which the Old Pueblo organization is excavating. Although "Web of Archaeology" participants will not have the advantage of using a real trowel to dig up artifacts, they will still learn the fundamental principles of archaeology. The website has two advantages. It does not cost as much for archaeologists to reproduce. Where grade-school fieldtrips can be costly, the website is free of charge. Also, the website is available worldwide. Director Dart said, "We see this website as an alternative for people who cannot afford to do our program, and for individuals who wouldn't have the opportunity to do it because they're too far away." Prompts will pop up throughout the process to develop the participant's interpretive skills." People will have to come up with a set of research questions to begin with, before they begin the online excavation, and they will have to proceed from level to level and make interpretations as they go," Dart said. "They'll have to answer their own questions. We want them to learn what the interpretation process is all about." Dart hopes the website will be as successful as the Center’s existing tour and classroom projects. "The real focus of the website," he said, "is to teach people the principles of archaeology for any culture, and how to go through the process of studying an ancient culture through archaeological investigation."
That wraps up the news for this week!
For more stories and daily news updates, visit Archaeologica on the World Wide Web at http://www.archaeologica.org/ , where all the news is history!
I’m Laura Kelley and I’ll see you next week!