Audio News for September 23rd to September 29th, 2002

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Claire Britton-Warren
and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from
September 23rd to September 29th.

Site on Crete contains clues to early Greeks


Our first story is from Crete, where a team of archaeologists from
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill has unearthed a lost city
that could lead to a better understanding of a "silent period" in Cretan
history -- the time around the 6th century BC. The site, called Azoria
(AZ-or-ee-ya), overlooks the Aegean Sea from a mountain on the northeast
coast of Crete and covers an estimated 150,000 square meters. Only one percent of the site has been uncovered so far, but already the
discoveries are yielding clues to life during a relatively unknown
period of the beginning of the Greek city-states. Among the artifacts
found so far are glass and gold beads, bronze pins and nails, iron
tools, decorated pottery, animal bones, even olive pits and grape seeds.
Researchers were thrilled when they found a piece of a bronze helmet
crest decorated with lotus flowers. The helmet, worn by Greek
aristocrats and military leaders of that era, is only the second of its
type ever found. Experts believe Azoria (AZ-or-ee-ya) was occupied from
1200 BC. until 500 BC., when disaster struck. The city was heavily
damaged by fire, reoccupied for a short time, and then abandoned again,
some time before an earthquake destroyed it. Researchers believe the
city had been abandoned before the earthquake, because very few human
remains have been found at Azoria (AZ-or-ee-ya). The city was never
inhabited again, which is good news for the archaeologists. Most large,
well-known Greek cities have been inhabited through the years, building
new layers throughout those centuries, and heavily altering the old.
Lacking such disturbance, Azoria (AZ-or-ee-ya) is being called a
pristine 6th-century city.

Roman factory found under English moor


In Britain, a huge Roman iron factory has been unearthed at a remote
spot near Exmoor. The dig has yielded furnaces and equipment used to
smelt hundreds of tons of iron a year. Experts believe the site, nearly
2,000 years old, would have supplied markets across the Roman Empire.
The excavation team, 20 students and staff from the University of
Exeter's archaeology department, has dug a trench over 10 feet deep
across a platform and through a heap of discarded iron slag, which
reveals the scale of iron production on the site. Pottery fragments
found within the trench date the site to the second and third centuries
AD. One of the questions being raised by the find is whether the factory
was run by the Roman army or by a local entrepreneur. The amount of
metal produced appears to be greater than local requirements.
Preparations are being made for further excavations that will try to
answer this question.

Italian navy helps with Malta's ocean archaeology


In Malta, the Italian navy is helping Maltese archaeologists carry out
preliminary studies to identify and protect archaeological and historical sites at sea. Using a minesweeper ship, experienced Navy
personnel will use remote sensing technologies and surveying operations
at sea to identify archaeological and historical features in varying
local geographic contexts. The type of data collected will allow experts
to develop the best strategies for mapping, monitoring and protecting
Malta's submerged cultural heritage. This heritage stands in danger of
being destroyed by looters, as well as by a wide range of proposed
developments at sea. The Navy vessel has 45 men on board and is equipped
with remote piloted vehicles, as well as with the equipment to conduct
underwater surveys and search operations.

Isle of Orkney burials raise questions


From Scotland, archaeologists are trying solve a mystery surrounding an
Iron Age home in Orkney. The stone building is the best-preserved house
from this period ever found, but it is surrounded by a mound in which
hundreds of bodies lie buried. To date the skeletons of six or seven
Pictish (PIK-tish) people have been carefully removed for analysis. Only
the surface of the site has been investigated so far, but it appears as
if the entire mound covering the house could contain between 50 and 100
individuals. The team working at the site believes that the first house
construction on the remote headland was around 2,000 years ago. It was
apparently abandoned at some stage, and then taken over again in Pictish
(PIK-tish) times, in the seventh or eighth century AD, while the island
was still a pagan community. The headland is in an isolated corner of
the island, battered by Atlantic storms in winter. It would have been an
inhospitable dwelling place, which leads the archaeologists to believe
it may have served a ritual purpose, linked to the burial of an entire
community. The bones are from people of all ages and both sexes. Some of
the bodies were laid out straight, some were crouched and lying on their
side, and one was on its back. One expert stated, "This was a
pre-Christian pagan burial site and we need to come back for another two
summers if we are to get a better understanding of what happened here."

Tibetan researcher maps major ancient trade routes


From China, after years of field research, a noted Tibetan scholar has
drawn up a map of five commercial routes collectively known as the Cha
Ma Ancient Road, traveled by caravans years ago across Tibet and four
western China provinces -- Yunnan (YOO-nan), Sichuan (SHAY-WAN), Gansu
(GAN-SUE) and Qinghai (CHING-HI ). At a recent seminar, the scholar described these routes as corridors for cultural and economic exchanges
between Tibet and the Han people in southern China, as well as extending
into India, Nepal, and other south Asian countries. The ancient route
got the name of "Cha Ma," which means "tea horse" in Chinese, because
traders used to transport tea and sugar on horseback from Yunnan
(YOO-nan), Sichuan (SHAY-WAN) and other southwest provinces to Tibet in
exchange for a new horse. The routes were said to have been opened
during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The locations of the first two routes
were previously known, while three have been mapped and made public more

Rosetta Stone celebrates its anniversary


In our final story, we celebrate the 180th anniversary of the decoding
of the Rosetta Stone. The Stone needs little introduction; it is one of
the most famous Egyptian antiquities next to the Pyramids, and has lent
its name to any artifact that is offers the clue to solving an ancient
mystery. The Rosetta Stone, uncovered by one of Napoleon's soldiers
during the French invasion of Egypt, is a large fragment of a granite
stela (STEE-la) inscribed with a priestly edict in honor of Ptolemy V.
The significance of its text lies not in its content, however, but in
the fact that it bears the same message written in three scripts --
Hieroglyphic, demotic and ancient Greek. The breakthrough translation by
Jean-Francois (ZHON-fron-SWA) Champollion (shom-poll-ee-OHN) in 1822
opened the door to the ancient Egyptians through their language, which
had remained a mystery for thousands of years. The Rosetta Stone is 44.2
inches tall, 29.8 inches wide, 11.2 inches thick and weighs 345.6
pounds. The inscriptions are dated to 196 BC. The Stone is in the
British Museum.

That wraps up the news for this week!
For more stories and daily news updates, visit Archaeologica on the
World Wide Web at , where all the news is history!
I'm Claire Britton-Warren and I'll see you next week!