Audio News for September 30th to October 6th, 2002

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Laura Pettigrew
and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from
September 30th to October 6th.

Mexican pyramid of the moon tomb


Our first story is from Mexico at the Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacan
(TAY-o-TEE-wah-KHAN) where a tomb containing the remains of three bodies
has been discovered. The tomb is in a shaft that lies at the bottom of a
cramped, dimly lit, tunnel, extending downward from an entrance more
than halfway up the pyramid. Archeologists found what they called
"offerings and ornaments of exceptional quality" in the mortuary
chamber, including remains of clothing, finely polished green stone beads, and obsidian chipped into anthropomorphic figures, knives,
arrowheads and razors. Contrasting to other human remains found
previously, the three bodies in the newly discovered tomb were not
reclining on the floor, nor were their hands bound. The bodies were
perched with their legs crossed on seats made of wood or fabric, a
favorable treatment indicating they were powerful people. Members of the
excavation team were cautious in evaluating the significance of their
discovery, but they feel the find will prove very important in adding to
what we know about these sacred buildings and their relationship to
Teotihuacan's (TAY-o-TEE-wah-KHAN'S) government and religion. The name
Teotihuacan (TAY-o-TEE-wah-KHAN) means "the place of the gods" in the
indigenous language of the region. Erected between AD 100 and 500, the
city reached its peak around AD 450, when it was home to a population of

Mudpack treatment to restore Taj Mahal's charms


In India, experts from the Archaeological Survey department are
abandoning modern technology and using an ancient beauty mask to restore
the Taj Mahal to it's gleaming whiteness. Known as "Multani Mitti"
(mool-TANEE MIT-tee)or "Mud from Multan" (mool-TAN), the brown clay is
used traditionally by Indian men and women to rejuvenate their skin. The
mud paste will be spread on the marble surface, left to sit for 24 hours
and rinsed off with water. Locals say they ar confident the ancient
preparation will bring results. The work will continue through the end
of the year. The Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in the 16th
century as a tribute to a favored wife after she died giving birth to
his 14th child. Tons of marble were hauled to the building site by
elephants and 20,000 stonemasons, gem cutters, and laborers worked to
complete the tomb in 1648.

Ancient human sacrifice on Peruvian seacoast


From Peru, archeologists have uncovered the remains of 200 fishermen
savagely stabbed to death 650 years ago on a beach in central Peru, some
170 miles north of Lima. Researchers say the fishermen were knifed
through the collarbone in a huge human sacrifice ceremony by members of
the powerful Chimu (che-MOO) people as a sign of gratitude to their sea
god Ni (Nee) after they conquered the fishermen's fertile seaside valley
in AD 1350.  The remains of 107 intact bodies were found lying on their
stomachs, their heads toward the water and their hands tied behind their
backs. Many of the fishermen, believed to be between 18 and 35 years old, were found arched backward as if in the final spasm of death. The
fishermen were blindfolded with the headdress worn over their flowing
hair, and clothed in only loincloths. Their bodies were left unburied by
the Chimu (che-MOO) and later covered up by wind-driven sand. No ornate
offerings were found, as often accompany high-caste or sacred burials.
Little is known about the Chimu (che-MOO), who were eventually defeated
by the Inca decades before the Spanish invasion in the 1530s. At their
peak, the Chimu (che-MOO) controlled some 600 miles of Pacific
coastline. They were known as the finest metalworkers of pre-Hispanic
Peru and their leaders wore emerald-encrusted gold nose rings.
Archeologists say that those who survived the invasion, the wives and
children of the sacrificed, made a giant offering nearby of everyday
items the fishermen could use in the next life, including simple jugs
filled with grains or liquor, even a fishing net.

Dead Sea site's archaeology may rewrite story of scrolls


In Finland, archaeologists are challenging conventional ideas of the
Essean (es-SEA-ann) civilization as known through the Dead Sea Scrolls.
More than 2,000 years ago Qumran (KOOM-ran) was home to a community
known as the Esseans (es-SEA-anns). The community left behind ruins,
many artifacts, a large cemetery, and writings written on leather,
papyrus, and metal. According to archaeologist Kenneth Linnqvist
(LINN-kvist), most research has focused on the writings - especially
those linked with Christianity. The interest among theologians derives
from the fact that the approximately 1,000 scrolls include parts of the
Old Testament, and texts that interpret them. Some texts have been
voluminously published.
However, very little of the archaeological context has been published, or even adequately researched. Of the approximately 3,500 titles in the library at the French Biblical and
archaeological school maintained by Dominican monks in Jerusalem, only
100 involve archaeology. Of these, about 20 alone are scientific
reports, and even the latter group do not all appear to have been
written by professional archaeologists. Linnqvist and his wife Minna are
among the few dozen people who have seen the original archaeological
material of Qumran. As Minna Linnqvist points out, "According to the
prevailing view the Esseans were an austere and isolated pre-Christian
monastic order who fled to the desert. In fact, they lived quite
comfortably, engaged in flourishing trade, and practicing a mystical
Hellenistic religion." This contradiction deserves examination, through
professional study and analysis, the archaeologists feel. Amateurish
excavations have been destroying this site, one of the world's most
important ancient finds, for over half a century. It was not until the 1990s that trained archaeologists from Israel and several other
countries took control of the archaeological excavations. The place was
then revealed as a scene of extensive destruction. Only scattered notes
were available from the original excavations. Unknown persons even
removed the rear parts of the altars that were located in the largest
room of the ruins. The large stones can still be seen in a photograph
taken in the 1950's.

Drought may have driven Monongahela disappearance

Our final story is from the United States where for decades, researchers
have worked to explain why the thriving Monongahela (mon-NONG-ga-HAY-la)
Indian culture disappeared from southwestern Pennsylvania by 1635. In a
recent edition of the journal "Archaeology of Eastern North America,"
experts propose that two massive droughts, one from 1587-1589 and a
second from 1607-1612, drove the Monongahela (mon-NONG-ga-HAY-la)
Indians from southwestern Pennsylvania. Because the Monongahela relied
on a maize-based agriculture for subsistence, the two droughts put
unendurable stress on their food supply. Evidence suggests that after
the first drought the Monongahela shrank to a core area in Greene
County, Pennsylvania. Further weakened by the 1607-1612 drought, the
Monongahela fled to the East and South by 1635 to seek better farming
lands, as well as to escape increasingly frequent raids by the Iroquois.
The Iroquois were competing to trap fur-bearing animals, valuable trade
commodities with the newly arrived French and English fur-trading
For nearly a century after the Monongahela left, southwestern
Pennsylvania remained uninhabited, until the 1720s, when the Delaware
Indians moved into the region. The new study is based on new tree-ring
data from West Virginia that provides a year-to-year climate record,
which can be correlated with the contraction of the Monongahela
population from A.D. 1050 to 1635. By analyzing the size of the tree
rings -- the smaller the ring, the drier the year -- the archaeologists,
headed by Jim Richardson of the Carnegie (car-NAY-ghee) Museum of
Natural History in Pittsburgh, were able to determine when a drought
occurred as well as its duration and severity. Droughts have
historically wreaked havoc on agriculturally based societies,
contributing to the collapse of the Mayan civilization and the Akkadian
Empire of the Near East. In this sense, the study is another example of
how drastic climate change can shape cultural change.

And by the way, you can see archaeologists exploring the mystery of the Monongahela right here on The Archaeology Channel in an excellent video called Ghosts of the Mountains.

That wraps up the news for this week! For more stories and daily news
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