Audio News for April 1st to April 7th, 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 April 1st through April 7th.



Roman fort faces deadline

Original Headline:Two weeks left for 2 000-year-old fort


In Slovenia, near a border crossing with Croatia, archaeologists are racing to examine a recently unearthed ancient Roman military fort. They have only two weeks to complete their investigations. Dating from the time of Emperor Augustus, experts stated there are no excavations of Roman forts in this region from this period making this a extremely significant find. Inside the rectangular fort, some 200 pits have been discovered. It is unclear what some of them were used for, while others are believed to have served either as storage or rubbish pits and contained broken amphoras and drinking vessels. The site is also proving to be wealthy in tools, pieces of military and horse equipment and a complex of 14 ovens or furnaces probably used for ironwork. A Bronze Age cremation cemetery dating from about 900 BC was discovered just outside the fort, containing substantial findings in the form of pieces of bronze and gold jewelry. The site will be lost in the next few months when border-crossing expansion is completed as part of Slovenia's preparations for European Union membership.



Etruscan city discovered


From the Tuscan region in Italy, the ruins of an unknown Etruscan city have been discovered. The 2,700-year-old city was covered by woodlands and has been named Accesa after the lake on whose shores it was found. So far, five living quarters have been uncovered. They are laid out on a formal, rectangular plan, with houses built on streets that intersect at right angles. The houses revealed fragments of inscriptions and several tools mainly related to spinning work, indicating female activity in what is thought to be a mining town. Before their defeat by the Romans in the 4th century BC, the Etruscans created one of Italy's most sophisticated civilization then they disappeared, leaving little trace. "For centuries archaeologists have only excavated Etruscan tombs. Now we have the chance to understand more about their daily life," said experts from the Florence University.



Scottish chariot had advanced design


From Scotland, important new clues about life in the Iron Age have been discovered during restoration work on remains of the first chariot found in the country. The find, which dates back to 400BC, was made in January 2001 during excavations near Edinburgh. A curator at the National Museums of Scotland, said examination of the chariot, which was buried intact, with its owner, showed technology of the time was more advanced than expected. Advancement was in the construction of the wheel. The rim is a single piece of wood bent into a circle. Similarities in design and materials with chariots discovered in France and Belgium suggested strong links with Europe. It is suggested the owner could be descended from the Votadini tribe, which lived on the eastern seaboard, from the Lothians to Northumberland from around 2000BC.



Ancient Assyrian city to be inundated

Original Headline:Ruins of an ancient trading center soon to be under water


In Iraq, the ruins of the ancient city of Assur (also known as Ashur) lie in the path of a reservoir that will fill with the completion of a dam across the Tigris River. Assur is the oldest and most well-known documented trade center of the region and understanding Assyria's trade and manufacturing pattern have come from data learned at the site and surrounding areas. Key parts of Assur are built on a rocky outcrop that rises more than 100 feet above the Tigris's flood plain, researchers note. Some find it hard to see that part of the city threatened. But rising waters could threaten low-lying commercial and residential sections of the city; either by inundation or through the effects from a rising water table. The impending loss of Assur, and what Iraqi officials estimate to be at least 100 other ancient sites, is part of an accelerating trend in the region as countries struggling to develop their economies build dams to supply irrigation water and electricity.



Minoan ring not fake after all


In Greece, a ring according to folklore to have belonged to the legendary King Minos and dismissed as fake has been found to be a real 3,500-year-old artifact. Greek Culture Minister announced that the Minos Ring is worth about $350,000 on the antiquities market and would now be displayed in a museum. Discovered in 1928 by locals at the ruins of Knossos on Crete the thick gold seal ring depicts a boat at sea between two ports where Minoan women sit among houses and plants. Authorities declared it as a fake. Local lore said King Minos himself heaved his ring into the Aegean Sea only for it to be found by Theseus, the hero who killed the Minotaur in the Knossos labyrinth.



Ancient Chinese women’s language nearing extinction

Original Headline:Race against time to save ancient Chinese language


In our final story, scholars have begun a project to save a secret women's language developed over thousands of years in southern China that is now spoken by just two women. The first origins of Nushu have been traced to writings on animal bones and tortoise shells dating more than 3,000 years ago. Some claim the history of the language originated 1,000 years ago when a concubine of a Song Dynasty emperor was confined to a palace but invented a language and script that allowed her to communicate with her sisters outside. The language has been passed on from generation to generation as a way of maintaining a degree of female privacy in a male-dominated world. Academics rediscovered the language in 1983, they have only been able to collate 2,000 characters, a fraction of the complete tongue. Unlike the slashes and strokes that form Chinese characters, the script of the Nushu is made up of curving, tilted lines that create a graphic image that was often embroidered on fabric. Time is of the essence for the last days in which a Nushu conversation can take place are at hand. The oldest speaker of the language is 93. The only other woman still able to speak Nushu as a mother tongue is who is 63.


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!