Audio News for May 30th to June 5th
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Laura Kelley and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from May 30th to June 5th.
Mysterious Germany Bronze Age site yields another exciting discovery
Our first story is from Germany, where archaeologists have discovered the skeleton of a lord and his retainers in a burial mound at the country’s most celebrated Bronze Age site near the city of Halle. Archaeologist Olaf Schroeder said the intact, 4,200-year-old mound was one of eight "barrows" within view of the ancient holy site that in 1999 yielded the 3,600-year-old Nebra celestial disc, a bronze and gold depiction of the heavens. Government archaeologists began excavating the wooded area after learning that treasure-hunters were digging in the area searching for gold. The first find was the skeleton of a sentry just inside the entrance to the grave. According to Schroeder, the burial chamber is 6 feet square and the sagging roof is about 18 inches high. It was fully lined with sandstone slabs. In the middle of the chamber lay the lord, his upper body and legs missing. There was a precious bronze knife and a bronze needle next to him, and the remains of his court lay in a circle round him. The skulls were deformed and these people had died violently. The tomb was dated to 3,000 years ago, making it later than the mound itself. Schroeder said retainers of Bronze Age lords expected to be buried with their master. An archaeological park is to be built in the Nebra area, in eastern Germany, to inform visitors about the mysterious culture, which is believed to have lived from farming and to have traded with other parts of the ancient world. The Nebra disc is believed to be the world's oldest surviving star map.
Searching for famous Cajun leader
In the United States, historians and archaeologists are helping Louisiana's Cajuns to locate the gravesite of Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil. Beausoleil was their Che Guevara, their Thomas Jefferson. But the gravesite of the 18th-century guerrilla fighter has long been a mystery. The Acadians were French-speaking Catholics who lived in Nova Scotia and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. In the 1750s, during hostilities between Britain and France over territory in the New World, the British crown decided to expel them by force. Yale University historian John Mack Faragher estimates 10,000 Acadians died during the Great Upheaval, what descendants call the bloody fighting that followed between Acadians and the Yankee troops sent to carry out the British orders. Broussard emerged as an Acadian leader during the Great Upheaval, organizing bands of men armed with homemade weapons and farm tools. When it became clear that the British and American troops would prevail, he led a large group of refugees to Louisiana. The 230 refugees arrived in New Orleans in 1765 and then headed into southern Louisiana's cypress swamps and prairies. Shortly after their arrival, many were afflicted by disease. A priest named Father Jean Francois accompanied the settlers, and during the next year he observed 46 ceremonies, 42 of them burials. Over time, the French-speaking Acadians gave rise to today's vibrant Cajun culture. Broussard's turbulent life has been the subject of poems, songs and paintings, many of which refer to him simply as Beausoleil. The search for his burial site is being led by a group of archaeologists and researchers. They believe the grave can be found somewhere between St. Martinville and New Iberia. But finding the spot will not be easy. According to Mark Rees, a University of Louisiana-Lafayette anthropologist and archaeologist who traces his ancestry to the Broussards, there were no maps and much of this area today is being developed. And even if burial sites are found, Rees said, it could be difficult to identify the remains.
Rarely mentioned Egyptian pharaoh’s statue found
In Egypt, a rare statue of Egypt's King Neferhotep I has been brought to light in the ruins of Thebes by a team of French archaeologists. Officials said that the statue, buried for nearly 3,600 years, was unusual in that the king is depicted holding hands with a double of himself, although the second part of the carving remains under the sand and its form has been determined by the use of imaging equipment. Archeologists unearthed the six-foot tall statue as they were carrying out repairs around Karnak Temple in the southern city of Luxor. Francois Larche, member of the team that found the limestone statue of the king, whose name means "beautiful and good", said it was lying about 5 feet below ground near an obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut. Karnak, now in the heart of Luxor, was built on the ruins of Thebes, the capital of ancient Egypt. The huge temple dedicated to the god Amon lies in the heart of a vast complex of religious buildings in the city, 435 miles south of Cairo. The statue shows the king wearing a funeral mask and royal head cloth or nemes. The forehead bears an emblem of a cobra, which ancient Egyptians used as a symbol on the crown of the pharaohs. They believed that the cobra would spit fire at approaching enemies. Larche said this was only the second time such a statue had been found in Egypt. A similar one was dug up during the excavations of the hidden treasures of Karnak from 1898 to 1904. But it is not clear when or if the statue will be completely unearthed. It is blocked by the remnants of an ancient structure, possibly a gate. In order to pull it out, a structure on top of the statue has to be dismantled and then restored. Permission from the Egyptian antiquities authorities was needed before the team could go ahead with plans to raise the statue. Neferhotep was the 22nd king of the 13th Dynasty. The son of a temple priest in Abydos, he ruled Egypt from 1696-1686 BC. Historians believe his father's position helped him to ascend the throne, as there was no royal blood in his family. Neferhotep was one of the few pharaohs whose name did not invoke the sun god, Re. It is written on a number of stones, including a document on his reign found in Aswan.
New finds at the first Bulgarian capital
Our final story is from Bulgaria, where archeologists have found the remains of a massive wood building during excavations at the site of the first Bulgarian capital Pliska, in the northeast region of the country. Circular in construction, with a diameter of approximately 90 feet, it is probably the oldest home of the first Bulgarian rulers, dating to the 7th to 8th century. It is also the largest wooden edifice ever unearthed in the land where the Bulgarian state was established. According to archeologists, the find comes as proof of the hypothesis that Old Bulgarians are unique in Europe for their prominent use of wood in constructing structures. The predominantly round form of edifices, homes, temples, and other structures, is symbolic for the rites of worship of the Sun, the Sky and the Supreme God of Tangra. Earlier this year, Bulgarian archeologists announced plans to launch excavations at the roundabouts in the Old Bulgarian capital, Pliska. Their focus is the search of an ancient town or mausoleum considered to keep the remains of Bulgarian khans. The suggested royal necropolis is believed to contain the burial sites of mighty Bulgarian khans Krum, Omurtag and their successors. The excavations are financed by the National History Museum and supported by geologists from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
That wraps up the news for this week!
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I’m Laura Kelley and I’ll see you next week!