Audio News for July 23rd to July 29th, 2001.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Claire Britton-Warren and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from July 23rd through July 29th, 2001.
On Monday July 23rd from the United Kingdom, 16 year old Adam Cadwell discovered a 3,000 year old Egyptian ornament while on a visit to a local museum. Cadwell, a member of an Ancient Egypt group also reads hieroglyphics. The stone ushabti was found in the museum’s storeroom and recognized by the boy to be from the tomb of Queen Henuttawy. Officials reported the museum is planning an Egyptian exhibition next February.
Original Headline: Disputed Art At The Getty
Also on Monday, there are allegations of possible illicit artifacts at the Getty Museum in California. The object in question is a 6thCentury Clazomenian sarcophagus obtained by the museum in 1977. Made of terracotta and beautifully illustrated, the piece is notable for its’ size and the fact it is still intact. Since 1906 Turkish law forbade the export of any antiquities for sale. The first government sanctioned dig started in 1979. The Getty Museum has responded with ‘there is no reason to question’ the origins of the artifact but offer no proof of the source.
Original Headline: Archaeologists Find World's Earliest Paper Package Ads
On Tuesday July 24th in China, experts announced they have found the earliest paper advertisements. Dating back about 700 years the two pieces of wrapping paper had 70 Chinese characters which describe the variety, quality and characteristics of the product, the address of the store and a statement attesting to the uniqueness of the product when compared to others. The pieces were unearthed in 1985, their archaeological significance was only recently realized
Also on Tuesday, a rare sculpture was uncovered in Syria. The one ton slab was found at Palmyra, 150 miles from Damascus. The 7ft by 3 ft carving depicts a winged goddess of victory standing on a sphere and holding the head of a young man. Although the face of the second century sculpture was destroyed, the figure was recognized by her clothing and will now be displayed in Palmyra’s museum.
On Wednesday July 25th, experts in Rome have discovered how the Bronze Age hunter known as Ötzi or the Iceman died. X-rays revealed a flint arrowhead embedded in his shoulder. The 5,300 year old well preserved frozen body was discovered a decade ago but the question of his death was never answered. The Director of the Tyrol Museum was quoted as saying “This changes everything. Now research on the Iceman starts over.” The museum was built to house Iceman and the weapons and tools found at his side.
Also on Wednesday, in Great Britain the first underwater pictures of the HMS Hood have emerged. The battlecruiser sank in 1941 after being torn apart in a conflict with the infamous Bismarck and sunk to 10,000 feet in the Denmark Straits between Iceland and Greenland. For 20 years the Hood was the world’s largest warship but was built only of light armor and vulnerable to heavy shells. Split in two, the ship sank in three minutes with the loss of all but three of it’s 1,419 man crew. The film footage will be used for a documentary entitled “Hunt for the Hood”.
On Thursday July 26th, Archaeologists in Qumran on the West Bank have discovered a mausoleum and coffin close to where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. The mystery grave was located a year ago, but grave robbers that presumably saw experts looking around the area had plundered the site before the dig could begin. One of the remaining pieces was the bottom of a zinc coffin; purportedly the first of it’s kind in Palestine and Israel. The location mausoleum suggests who ever was buried there was of very high status. Analysis continues at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum.
Also on Thursday, from Spain researchers have found evidence of a 200,000 year old barbecue pit. The find includes the remains of deer and saber tooth tiger and shows these people’s sense of neatness where they designated separate areas for tool building and waste disposal. The cooking pit provided the oldest proof of fire utilization in the Iberian region and could help experts understand how the use of fire spread through prehistoric societies.
On Friday, July 27th, three stories head up the news:
In Dimini Greece, archaeologists uncovered a city and palace that may have been the inspiration for the fable of Jason and the Argonauts. The ruins fit the mythical description and historical period of a major trading center that reached its glory about 1,200 BC. Experts were quick to point out there is no solid evidence linking the ruins with Jason but there are hints pointing to the theory that the fable may have been based on a composite of actual places. There are plans to expand the dig in hopes of strengthening the association between myth and reality.
Also on Friday from Egypt a formal announcement was made that the 55 foot high statue of Ramesses II at the funerary temple in Thebes will be reconstructed. The pink granite Pharaoh now lays scattered in pieces at the entrance to the Rasesseum’s second court. Once weighing over 1,000 tons, it is one of the largest freestanding statues ever made.
And finally on Friday, in the high desert of California, Forest Service archaeologists were digging to learn more about the ancient Serrano people. The excavation has produced fragments of a bone awl used for making baskets, grinding tools and a quartzlike rock not found locally in the area. The dig stems from attempts to permanently close the area to traffic for protection from illegal off-road activities. Modern Serrano peoples have been working with the experts to save and share their culture.
On Saturday July 28, the Oxford University in Britain reported that over the past several months, about 30 theological books dating from the 17thcentury have been smuggled out of the library. The value of the books is approximately $1.5 million dollars and local police are baffled as to how the thieves managed to walkout with 30 volumes, each four times the size of an average paperback. One theory on their whereabouts is that they were shipped to New York and sold on the antiquities market to collectors unaware of their origin.
Original Headline: Ancient sculpture returns to Egypt
Also on Saturday, the sculpted head of Queen Nefertari and six papyrus scrolls were flown back to Cairo from London. The gray granite head dating to 1,300 BC is one of several pieces taken out of the country in the 1990’s. Authorities have been fight in court for the return of another head representing a Pharaoh sold to a private collector and pieces smuggled to New York.
Original Headline: Priceless documents of Alfred the Great found
On Sunday July 29th, from England, priceless documents of Alfred the Great have been found. The papers, which document King Alfred’s foundation of a ninth century monastery, were found on a shelf in the strong room of a stately home. The four inch thick, 490-page charter is well preserved in original 15thcentury leather binding. King Alfred is commonly credited with inventing the idea of England and the only English monarch who earned the title ‘the Great’. Experts say this find may shed more light on the study of Anglo Saxon history.
Also on Sunday, in the United States the remains of a Colonial-era tavern were found in Maine. The tavern operated between 1765 and 1803 and so far the dig has produced shards of wine bottles, clay tobacco pipe fragments, hand-wrought nails, bricks, mortar, and ceramics. Being the center of life in the settlement historians say the discovery of the tavern provides an important link to understanding the area's history.
That’s the news for this week! For more archaeological and historical news stories, check out Archaeologica on the World Wide Web at www.archaeologica.org
I’m Claire Britton-Warren, thanks for tuning in to this week’s edition of the Audio News from Archaeologica. I’ll see you next week!