Audio News for July 8th to July 15th, 2002.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm _______________ and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from July 8th through July 15th.
Tibetan home of heroes identified
Our first story is from the autonomous region of Tibet where researchers have confirmed the birthplace of Gesser, the legendary hero of a twenty million-word epic. The birthplace was confirmed by experts after investigations at Axu, in Dege County. The story of Gesser has been handed down for 1,000 years by Tibetan folk artists who sing and recite the ancient Tibetan folk epic, "King Gesser", possibly the longest epic in the world. The researchers have concluded that Gesser was born in Axu Township, saying the landforms there correspond completely with what the epic describes as the birthplace of the hero. Also discovered were the ruins of the castles of Gesser's 30 senior generals and his wives in Dege County, in addition to many literary quotations about Gesser. Dege now has 33 place names connected to characters in the epic, and all the county's 57 temples have Gesser relics. During their investigation, experts found many historical sites relating to the Tibetan hero, including the capital of Lingguo, the ruins of ancient houses, a tent in which Gesser once lived, castles and other facilities.
Congratulations, it’s a boy mummy
In Pretoria, South Africa, a genderless Fayum mummy has been declared a man. State-of-the-art scanning technology makes it almost certain that this mysterious figure wrapped in cloth is male. The mummy was donated to the then State Museum in 1899; it had been shipped from Cairo to Pretoria. In 1966, X-rays were taken of it, revealing a broken leg. In the 1970s, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research dated the mummy to 175 AD, placing it in the Graeco-Roman period of ancient Egypt. The goal of the current research was to determine the sex of the mummy, its age and the possible cause of death. The mummy could not be unwrapped because it would fall apart. In outline, it looked like someone with his legs crossed and his hands by his sides. At the bottom, the toes peeped through the wrapping. The bones are jumbled. The skull and rib cage are shattered, but the profile of the face is visible. No one knows how the mummy ended up in its broken-up state.
Roman product labeling shows early start to advertising
In England, archeologists have discovered an ancient example of marketing at one of three forts investigated at Carlisle. The hand-written clay label was attached to a jar of first- century tuna fish relish, shipped from Spain to a fort on the northern edge of the Roman Empire. The words "excellent" and "top quality" are still clearly visible written in black ink. Of the forts, first two were made of timber and the third of stone. Experts are especially excited by the discovery of the fort's headquarters or principia, where the foot soldier came to get his daily orders, collect his pay or receive punishment. Other finds at the site included jewelry, well-preserved armor similar to that used by gladiators, and white gaming pieces similar to modern checkers. There was a variety of coins dating from around A.D. 70 to the 4th century and hundreds of animal bones, indicating that the garrison ate sheep, cattle, pigs, deer and birds. Plant remains show that dill and coriander were also on the Roman menu. The jar containing the tuna was found outside the commanding officer's house, or praetorium. It is thought the mixture was shipped from the Spanish port of Cadiz, where there was a large industry processing tuna fish.
On early road, footprints of the Vikings
From Norway, archaeologists discovered for the first time five Viking footprints preserved in an old roadway. The footprints indicate a shoe size from six nine and a half, suggesting that they were made by both men and women. The impressions were made in a muddy narrow road, which at some stage was covered with a layer of sand, probably to make it less muddy. The sand filled in the footprints, so that when it was removed, the prints remained. The footprints confirm that the Vikings used the typical North European shoes, with no heel, just a soft sole and shoe, tied together on the side or in the frontwith leather strapping. The largest excavation in Norwegian history, the investigation at this region outside Oslo has already re-written history books. Lying in a small inlet, protected from the sea by two small islands, the town was founded in the 780s, and flourished for more than a hundred years. The sheltered location would have allowed it to be the launching point for many of the raids on Britain, Ireland, France, the Low Countries, now where the Netherlands is, Spain and Italy. Islamic silver coins, Baltic amber, beads from southern Russia and India, pottery from France and the Rhineland, looted silver from England, were all found at the site, providing new evidence of the Vikings's commercial society and the great distances they covered.
Prehistoric sites at Atapuerca incorporate sophisticated technology
Our final story is from Atapuerca, in northern Spain, where innovative computer technology joins the prehistoric and ancient. A new system is being introduced that will allow archaeologists to carry out data-taking and investigative work on-site at much faster speeds than with manual methods. The system is a turning point in archaeological research. Until now, archaeologists have used a manual data registration system, writing all the data concerning each find on paper. They would also write the features of each part found on blank labels to later be pasted onto a container bag for the classification process. Finally, the completed data were entered into the computer back at the lab. With the new technology, researchers will use a mobile wireless system that allows them to carry out their excavation work, data-gathering, and subsequent analysis much more quickly and efficiently. The system is estimated to produce time savings of 50 per cent for field work and halve the time spent in the lab. Each team of archaeologists will have a PDA connected by wireless cards to a signal repeater incorporated in the unit. The repeater can connect the PDAs to a portable computer that works as a server. All the information the teams have recorded in both the portable computer and the PDAs and will be accessible to all the scientists on the dig. The data will then be transferred to a database, which will assist analysis work on the remains. In addition, instead of writing labels by hand as has traditionally been done on digs around the world, the Atapuerca scientists will send the data collected on their PDAs through to a printer located on-site. Once printed, the labels will show data such as the exact co-ordinates of where the classified remains were found, the type of find, its physical properties and so on, greatly increasing the importance of location analyses and the context in which each individual remain was found.
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 _________________ and I'll see you next week!