Audio News for March 4th to March 10th, 2002.

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Claire Britton-Warren/Rick Pettigrew and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from March 4th through March 10th.



Pictish fort to be exposed



In Scotland, archaeologists have begun excavations in the northeast to uncover more information on the largest remaining Pictish(pik-tish) fort in the region. Over a three-week period, more than 150 metric tons of modern day debris will be removed to reveal the rare construction of the ramparts over 1,600 years ago. Timber was used like scaffolding and filled in with rubble for durability. This is the first large-scale dig on the stronghold since the mid and late 1800's. The fort is thought to have been a major power base of the realm of the Northern Picts(pikt), historically prominent from 300 AD to 843 AD when their kingdom was merged with the Scots.



Estate sale gives up Medieval book

Original Headline:  Medieval book found in US farmhouse



From the New England area of the United States, a book dealer has discovered a rare medieval book at a farmhouse estate sale. A copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle, a forerunner to the Guttenberg Bible, is one of only a limited number in existence. Published in 1493, the 600-page tome was the work of medieval physician Hartmann Schedel (shy-del) and his interpretation of the history of the world beginning with the book of Genesis. Written in Middle High German, experts say the book would have been popular among the wealthy and non-scholarly because of its' superb pictures done in woodcuts of the era. The book is currently on display as a local library.



Pella temple reveals changing religious practices



In Jordan, archaeologists have uncovered a room at the site of ancient Pella in the Migdol Temple that is revealing something exceptional: a 3,600-year-old textbook in stone. The single room contains one of the most important events in human history: the transition from polytheism to monotheism. The Temple measures 29 by 22 meters, and is the largest Bronze and Iron Age Temple known to man. It may have once functioned as a temple to the Canaanite god El. In continuous use from 1650 BC to 850 BC, the Temple holds hundreds of artifacts that point to five distinctive phases of occupation and reconstruction. Archaeologists have already found 250 artifacts from each period of occupation. Pella is a one of the world's oldest cities with nearly 9,000 years of habitation.



Wales goes digital

Original Headline:  Database digs deep into Wales past



In Wales, the National Museum & Gallery of Cardiff has installed a user-friendly database in their galleries allowing visitors to search any area in the country for archaeological artifacts. Over 300,000 objects ranging from 250,000 years ago to the Industrial Revolution are stored and displayed and can now be accessed through computer screens. Visitors can track the objects to the precise areas where they were found. Detailed information on each individual find can then be accessed including a reference to its place in the gallery. A partnership with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments is being formed to share and widen the information in the database. This will allow all partners to view data that is more comprehensive and draw a clearer picture of the development of Wales. A CD disc of the detailed database will be distributed free to most of the 1,000 schools in Wales.



Taliban may have missed a Buddha



A French archeologist has substantiated a rumor that a third giant Buddha statue in Afghanistan escaped destruction. Professor Tarzi, former head of Afghanistan's department of archeology, said he had pinpointed the location of the Buddha 25 years ago using writings by a 7th-century Chinese explorer. The form of a sleeping Buddha measuring at least 350 meters in length lies under and near a monastery. Even though the location of the monastery is known and has been identified, the Buddha has not been uncovered. First, there must be preliminary studies of the area, stated Tarzi.



Excavation accelerates at Cypriot parliament site



In Cyprus, controversy surrounds the construction of a new parliament building. The home of the new structure is on the site were the only known relics of ancient Nicosia are still being excavated. The Director of Antiquities stated that current excavations are focused on revealing any masonry and no layered archaeological work would be carried out at this stage. He said that since the architectural designs would be changed to allow integration of the antiquities in the parliament building, further study of excavated areas could be undertaken at a later stage. Since accelerated digging resumed in mid-February, large sections of stone settlements have been uncovered. Current cement foundations and drainage are making work difficult and indicating that damage has been done to the ancient masonry and artifacts. It has been established that the site has been successively inhabited for about 4,500 years, from the Neolithic to present age. Recent discoveries so far include a small stone head of about the 3rd century Hellenistic period, a clay statuette dating as far back as the 7th century BC and a Ptolemaic coin from about the 2nd century BC. Challengers of the new construction want the area to be saved as an archaeological park.



Did Roman commanders become Dark Age kings?

Original Headline:  Roman commanders Dark Age kings



In our final story, a report out of Britain is exploring what Roman military troops did with themselves when their rule ended. In the north around Hadrian's Wall, archaeological work has brought an exciting change in the perception of how society changed in the late Roman and post-Roman periods. Evidence is leading towards the evolution of a patchwork of minor kingdoms created by the Generals and troops. The commanding officer's quarters at some sites are larger and more elaborate in the 4th century than in earlier times. These residences may reflect an extension of the authority of commanders into civil occupations. They may have become civil magistrates. The reuse of granaries and forts refurbished and converted to churches are just a few of the additional clues. These men may have been of sufficient influence to become imperceptibly more like chieftains in control of war bands than Roman commanders and maintained rule of their conquered land.



That wraps up the news for this week!
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I'm Claire Britton-Warren/Rick Pettigrew and I'll see you next week!