Audio News for August 13th to August 19th, 2001.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Claire Britton-Warren and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from August 13th through August 19th, 2001.
Excavations in Britain have revealed a large Roman villa complex and details into the life of Sussex 2,000 years ago. Believed to be the largest structure of it’s type found in Britain, the ten room house was thought to have been occupied by a wealthy Roman family from 50 AD to 500 AD. The foundation and walls, mosaic tiles, and small tools were found just 3 feet under the surface. The dig will come to an end shortly and the site will be re-buried to prevent damage from treasurer seekers.
Damascus was famous for it’s steel in the middle ages. But, how they made Damascus steel was a mystery that confounded experts for centuries. Now, a science professor from Iowa and a Florida blacksmith may have solved the puzzle. The secret was to make a metal extremely high in carbon, but not to the point of being brittle. Historically, instructions from the original artisans proved to be more of a hindrance than help. The key ingredient seemed to be vanadium, an element that occurs naturally through the heating and cooling process of the metal. Legend has it, that a Damascus blade could slice a silk scarf, falling in midair!
An announcement was made in Singapore that a team of archaeologists will start test digging for evidence of a 14th century city. Earlier excavations revealed a brick wall dating back to 1,300 AD near to the current site. Along with the old city structures, experts are hoping to find porcelain dating to the Qing Dynasty and artifacts from the colonial period. The survey is expected to last six days.
In Mongolia, archaeologists discovered thousands of gold and silver pieces near the shine of 8thcentury ruler, Bilge Kaghan. Dating back to the 700’s the find included numerous pins, hooks, cups and 2,000 silver ornaments. The most significant piece was a gold crown, decorated with a bird that at one time held a precious stone in its mouth. Experts said that this find has given them insight into the urban life of the nomadic Turks. The artifacts will be displayed in museums in Mongolia.
Original Headline: Scanners probe Stone Age mystery
In England, scientists will use computer-imaging technology to look inside and solve the mystery of Silbury Hill. The 130 foot mound is the largest man made structure of its type in Europe and dates back more than 4,000 years ago. Experts theorize that it would have taken 700 men 10 years to complete the hill using ancient bone tools. Four small holes are to be drilled to allow the insides of the mound to be scanned. The results should be known in October.
In northern Russia, 5 mummies dating to the 6th through 7th century were found. The area is considered unique, due to the number of mummified remains that have been unearthed there. Dressed in furs and boots and buried in wooden sarcophagi, these mummies differ from a discovery of last year in which the body was packed in elm and moss for mummification. Experts are continuing to research what caused mummification in this new find.
Researchers in the United States are using an innovative mapping technique to locate buried archaeological sites with remarkable accuracy. The predictive model is based on the essential needs of humans for water, heat and light and how those elements applied to the use of the land. 72% of 418 sites were identified in one county using this method. This new technology will be used on controlled digs in two National Parks over the next four years.
From Mongolia, a team searching for the tomb of Genghis Khan came across a ‘promising’ walled burial ground 200 miles northeast of the capital. The hilltop site is said to contain at least 20 unopened tombs. Purportedly, these are the graves of people of high status. Khan created an extensive empire in the 1200’s. He was buried in 1227 by 2,000 servants. These servants were killed by 800 soldiers. The soldiers where then killed upon returning to the capital, just to protect the secret burial spot.
In Switzerland, at the Augusta Raurica site, archaeologists unearthed evidence of a Jewish presence in the form of a ring that may be 1,900 years old. The bronze ring, found at a 2nd century site, bears a traditional menorah and ram’s horn of Rosh Hashanah. The Roman settlement is the oldest on the River Rhine and by 200 AD boasted 20,000 inhabitants.
In Tibet, tourism and weather are damaging the Potola Palace, the former winter residence of the Dalai Lama. Urgent repairs are being called for. Once the center of religious and political events in Tibet, the building had been home to spiritual leaders since its construction in 1645. The Potola is currently a museum, housing 70,000 Buddhist artifacts, considered to be one of the world’s largest collections.
From Wales, a council chamber, dating back more than 1,900 years, has been identified. The chamber or curia was used by the Silures tribe after the conquering Romans decided them worthy of self-government. Measuring 40 feet by 25 feet it was large enough to hold dozen of councilors and petitioners. Coins of Emperor Trajan and datable pottery show construction took place around 120 AD, nearly eighty years after the Roman conquests. Work is nearly complete at the site, which will then be openned to the public.
Off the north coast of Scotland, a 400-year-old shipwreck was found that might have been loaded with bribes for English conspirators. Along with four cannons, divers found extremely valuable Majolica tableware. Some of the pieces are decorated with once-fashionable images of mythological creatures and the whole set would be valued at $70,000 in today’s currency. This is the first time such high-grade civilian ceramics have been found on an Armada site, suggesting it was taken along to impress or bribe potential allies.
That wraps up the news for this week! For more stories and daily news updates, visit Archaeologica on the world wide web at www.archaeologica.org , where all the news is history!
I’m Claire Britton-Warren and I’ll see you next week!