Audio News for February 11th to February 17th, 2002..

This is Rick Pettigrew for The Archaeology Channel and welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica!  I'm filling for Claire Britton-Warren and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from February 11th through February 17th.



Pre-Crusader coins found in Caesarea



In Israel, a collection of 79 coins from the 10th and 11th century were found by accident when a park inspector at Caesarea happened to kick one of them.  According to Dr. Yosef Porat, head of archaeological digs at Caesarea, the coins date from an era just before the Crusader conquest of the country of 900 years ago.  Found in an area used to dump rubble at the archaeological park, the coins apparently were missed by a previous archaeological dig at the site.  Preliminary investigation has identified them as coins minted in Cairo, Alexandria, Palestine, Acre, Tripoli, and Tyre. The oldest one was minted in the year 1086.



El Dorado located?



Here’s a story we wouldn’t run if it hadn’t already made the Time of London. A modern explorer says he has located El Dorado, the famed city of gold in South America, in a 16th-century Jesuit manuscript from the Vatican archives and will set off in the very near future in search of it.  Jacek Palkiewicz) teaches courses on survival skills in extreme conditions and said he was ready to take on the myth of El Dorado.  According to an article in the latest issue of Archeo, the Italian archaeological review, documents in the Vatican prove that the city of El Dorado did exist and was discovered by Jesuit missionaries towards the end of the 16th century.  Professor Mario Polia, an archaeologist from the University of Lima said that documents in the archives of the Jesuit order included a report to the Pope describing the discovery but urging the utmost secrecy in case it led to mass hysteria. Palkiewicz said he was very well aware that those who had tried to find El Dorado before had met untimely ends, but stated that his intentions are scientific and nothing else.  We’ll see.



2,500-year-old wine found near French coast



In France, hundreds of liters of wine dating from 500BC have been discovered in a wreck at a secret location. The Italian wine is contained in 800 terracotta containers. Although wine was usually reserved for the upper classes and traded for metals, experts with France's Department of Underwater Archaeological Research stated, "It is a phenomenal amount of wine for a ship to be carrying at that period." Each container holds between 26 and 37 liters of wine, which, incredibly, is still alcoholic although not potable. The vessels themselves are incredibly rare. Thoughts are that the 65-ft. wreck found somewhere off the coast of Marseille was an Etruscan trading vessel that sank while heading from Tuscany to France's Mediterranean coast.  The discovery of actual wine, not just vessels that once held wine, is very remarkable and might allow a good characterization of what ancient wine actually was like.



Archaeologists reveal rich finds near Alexander the Great birthplace



In Greece at a recent archaeological conference, archaeologists announced the discovery of an ancient warrior's gold death mask, swords and opulent jewelry in more than 170 graves near the birthplace of Alexander the Great. Uncovered in 2001 in the Greek region of Pella, the artifacts date from about 900BC to 146 BC, spanning the Classical, early Hellenistic and Archaic periods.  The region is believed to have been one of the most important urban areas of Greece until the end of the 5th century B.C.  Also announced was the discovery of a 3rd century B.C. observation post that doubled as a general's headquarters.  This is the first time such an observation post had been found in the kingdom of the ancient Greek warrior kings Philip II and his son Alexander the Great.



Is it John Paul Jones’ ship?



Divers are poised to discover whether a fire-damaged hull lying off the English coast belonged to the notorious Scottish pirate who went on to became the father of the American navy.  The wreck is believed to be the Bonhomme Richard, the frigate belonging to John Paul Jones.  Archaeologists say that new evidence from the shipwreck strongly suggests it is the Bonhomme Richard.  The wreck has fire damage in its side as if it had been fired on by a row of cannons.  It is broken into at least three distinct sections with at least one piece of hull being 120ft in length and 20ft in width.  Carbon dating also shows the wreck to date between 1776 and 1780 and there is evidence of damage consistent with that of Jones' frigate.  The Bonhomme Richard sank on September 25, 1779.



Egyptian sarcophagus recovered



In Egypt, a colored sarcophagus of a cemetery foreman has been unearthed that dates back to the 28th Dynasty. The earthenware sarcophagus has black-ink inscriptions in hieratic that reads the name of the sarcophagus owner. Among the most important engravings on the coffin was that of Nut, the goddess of the sky, spreading its wings on the sarcophagus owner and another carving on both sides depicting god Anubis in the form of a black jackal and the goddess Sekhmet, and each holding the Ankh sign.  The team also discovered a collection of various forms and colors of pearls, agate amulets and three scarabs.  A full report on the find will be submitted to Culture Minister Farouk Hosni.



Ancient inscriptions recovered behind Three Gorges Dam

Original Headline: Ancient Inscribed Wooden Slips Excavated in Three Gorges Area


In our final story, Chinese archaeologists have excavated more than 20 inscribed wooden slips, confirmed as belonging to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.), in the Three Gorges Reservoir area. The relics were discovered at a group of ruins in Yunyang County.  Four of the excavated slips are inscribed with 50 Chinese characters.  One of the four has characters for a specific date.  The ruins cover over one million square meters and are one of the major sites listed in the Three Gorges area under the state protection plan.  The archaeologists say that the discovery of the inscribed wooden slips will be of great significance in the study of the history and culture of the region.



That wraps up the news for this week!
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