Audio News for July 2nd to July 8th, 2006

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica!   I'm Laura Kelley and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news for July 2nd to July 8th, 2006.

Restorations begin in Roman city of Aquileia


Our first story is from northern Italy, where archaeologists are unearthing more of the largest Roman city ever uncovered.  Aquileia (AH-kwee-LAY-ah) was once the third-largest city in Roman Italy.  Then it was virtually wiped off the map by Attila the Hun and other invaders, and centuries of looting its stone for other buildings.  However, some of its ancient splendor remained in traces of its baths, temples, public buildings, private dwellings, and its shipping port.  Recently, specialists from the University of Udine have been working to bring the city back to life.  According to lead archaeologist Marina Rubinich, the work is focused on uncovering the layout of the public baths.  These were a plush establishment.  At nearly five acres in size, they were some of the largest baths in operation in the fourth century AD.  For comparison, the largest baths in the famous buried city of Pompeii are only half the size.  Rubinich said that a set of precious mosaics from the baths, which are currently in a local museum, will be reinstalled in their original location.  Aquileia was founded around 181 BC as a frontier fortress to ward off Gallic invaders coming over the Alps.  Commercial success followed after gold was discovered nearby in 130 BC.  During the later Empire, in AD 168, Marcus Aurelius made Aquileia the main fortress of the empire against the barbarians of the North and East.  It achieved its greatest fame at this time, with a population of 100,000.  In the 4th century AD, the local Christian bishop obtained the rank of Patriarch, and a series of major religious congresses was held there.  Attila’s Huns destroyed the city in AD 452.  The devastation was so great that it became difficult to recognize the original site.

North and South Koreans work together at ancient capitol site


From North and South Korea, news of a rare joint excavation will see scholars from both countries working on an ancient site in Kaesong.  The research will investigate the location of Manwoldae, the royal palace of the ancient Koryo Kingdom.  The site lies a few kilometers from the border between North and South Korea.  Korean researchers have applied to UNESCO to designate it as a World Cultural Heritage site.  The city was the capital of the kingdom from AD 918 to 1361and is believed to contain important information and artifacts from that period.  Located beneath Mt. Songak, the palace was built in 919 and destroyed in 1361 when China invaded Korea.  According to historical records, the royal buildings were arranged in the form of stairs on a piece of land 445-yards wide and 150-yards long.  The buildings consisted of 13 castle wall gates and 15 palace gates.

Turkish researchers trace impact of ancient earthquake


In an announcement from Turkey, scientists have traced the route of a massive earthquake that destroyed the ancient city of Anamurium, located on the Mediterranean coast west of Mersin’s Anamur district, in the sixth century AD.  According to researchers at Mersin University, four fault lines in the triangle formed by the Mut, Ermenek and Anamur districts have been identified during studies conducted over the last two years.  These fault lines could extend as far as Anamur, which is known from lists of ancient ports dating back to the fourth century BC.  Cracks in the ground three meters deep along the city walls caught the attention of the researchers.  The damage that occurred inside the city was greatest, but even the city’s necropolis, located on higher land, received damage.   The city had been a thriving settlement until that time, but was then abandoned in the sixth century.  This supports the interpretation of a massive earthquake as the cause.  The ancient city of Anamurium sat on a 30-square-kilometer area west of Cape Anamur, and dated back to the prehistoric Hittite period.  According to ancient records, the name Anamurium means windy cape.

Minnesota fort yields earlier Indian materials


Our final story is from the United States, where archaeologists have been unearthing pieces of history underneath Fort Ridgely Historic District in Minnesota.  Experts have found artifacts from the actual fort, and traces of the U.S. Dakota War of 1862 - when the Dakota Indians attacked Ridgely – as well as various American Indian artifacts ranging from arrowheads to other stone tools.  Last week they came upon what may be one of the oldest and most significant finds, a hearth or fire pit thought to be between 3,000 and 8,000 years old, based on its depth below the ground surface.  Further excavation revealed a perfect circle of rocks about 3 feet in diameter.   LeRoy Gonsior, a site archeologist, reported that he has never seen one so intact.  Rock and soil samples from the pit were taken to a lab to look for bits of charcoal for carbon dating.  If tests prove the hearth is from the archaic period, it will be the oldest material the archaeologists have found at Ridgely.  American Indians likely built the hearth after walking up a nearby ravine from the Minnesota River to rest, hunt bison or camp.   Volunteers working at the site include Dakota Indian descendants and history buffs.  The Fort Ridegely site will give both local volunteers and archeologists the opportunity to learn more about ancient Dakota culture and religion.

That wraps up the news for this week!
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I'm Laura Kelley and I'll see you next week!