Audio News for October 28th to November 3rd, 2002

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Laura Pettigrew
and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from
October 28th to November 3rd.


Cemetery yields clues to early Thai culture


Our first story is from Thailand, where archaeologists have discovered
an enormous ancient cemetery that could provide clues to the region's
origins. Located 90 miles north of Bangkok, it is the largest such site
ever found in the country. Along with human remains, the graves contain
artifacts made of bronze, iron, seashell, turtle shell, glass and stone.
Carbon dating of the bones shows the site is about 2,200 years old. Experts estimate the cemetery could contain up to 10,000 skeletons and
due to its size, it is related to a very large settlement. A
co-operative study with the Italian Institute for the Study of Africa
and the Far East will start in December, and is planned to last for 5
years. The team will study the bones and artifacts to clarify the
development of the Thai culture.

Mexican pyramid burial continues to yield surprises

From Mexico, recent discoveries at the Moon Pyramid at Teotihuacan
(TAE-oh-TEE-wah-CON ) are providing experts with a surprise: artifacts
within the burials show a connection to early Mayans. A distinctive
burial site in the pyramid contained three ceremonially positioned
bodies, other ceremonial items, and jade artifacts that appear to be
carved in Maya style. The offerings strongly suggest a direct relation
between the Teotihuacan (TAE-oh-TEE-wah-CON ) ruling group and the Maya
royal families. Among the items is a spectacular jade statuette of a
person with moderately realistic features and big eyes. Jade is a rare
material in Central America. The nearest and most likely source of the
stone is located in a valley in Guatemala, which seems to further
confirm the Mayan origins. The burial site is located in the fifth of
the pyramid's seven layered stages, and appears to have been created as
an offering during the construction of the sixth stage, which is dated
around AD 350, the time of Teotihacan's (TAE-oh-TEE-wah-CON) greatest
power. Unlike earlier burials discovered at the Pyramid of the Moon,
these were found in a rare cross-legged seated position. Similar
positioning has also been found in burials at a Mayan site in the
Guatemalan highlands. Archaeologists have found indications of noble
Teotihuacan (TAE-oh-TEE-wah-CON) visitors and of their possible
influence on government in the art and records of a number of Mayan
cities, including Tikal (ti-CALL) and Copan (co-PAWN). Some evidence has
also been found for the presence of Mayan visitors in the common
residential and commercial districts of Teotihuacan (TAE-oh-TEE-wah-CON).


Subterranean Scottish caves may have been drinking den


In Scotland, several feet below street level in a suburb of Edinburgh,
archaeologists have been exploring an unusual network of caves and
tunnels dug out of the rock that was possibly used as a drinking den in
the 18th century. There is a cavern with carved and domed ceilings, and
rock-cut benches and tables covered in graffiti - mostly initials. One
table has a carved punch-bowl at one end with etched masonic symbols. In the 18th century, the cave is believed to have belonged to Gilmerton
Park, a long-since vanished country house in the area. The Gilmerton
caverns are reputed to have been built in about 1723 and were first
described in 1792; but their original purpose remains a mystery.
According to a local archaeologist, underground drinking societies were
not uncommon in the 18th century and usually were home to various
nefarious groups.

Masada placed on U.N. Heritage list

This week UNESCO announced that the ancient hilltop fortress of Masada
(ma-SAW-da ) has become one of the first two Israeli heritage sites to
join this prestigious protected list. Two thousand years ago, 960 Jewish
rebels occupied King Herod's winter palace and held off besieging Roman
legionnaires for months. Once the Romans finally broke through the
ramparts, however, they found the rebels had killed themselves rather
than be conquered. At a ceremony held at the monument towering 1,400
feet over the Dead Sea, the Hungarian head of UNESCO's World Heritage
Committee said, "The question we faced in making the decision was
whether Masada (ma-SAW-da) has universal and unique value or not. The
suicide is not really the point. What is important is this very heroic
story -- the Jewish history, Roman history". Yet in recent years some
historians have cast doubt on the account of the Masada (ma-SAW-da)
sacrifice and, like most debates in Israel, this one has a modern-day
political side to it. The details of the Masada (ma-SAW-da ) siege are
derived from one source --"The Jewish War" by Flavius Josephus
(FLAY-vee-us joe-SEE-fus), a Jewish general who defected to the Romans
and subsequently chronicled their campaign to crush the Palestinian
revolt of AD 67 to 73. The UNESCO Heritage List of 730 sites in 125
countries is designed to protect the world's cultural and natural treasures.

Hadrian's temple to favorite male lover


Our last story is from Italy, where archaeologists digging at Hadrian's
villa have discovered a previously unknown Egyptian-style temple
commemorating the untimely death of the emperor's beloved young lover,
the boy Antinous (an-TIN-oh-us). The Roman Emperor Hadrian, who ruled
from AD 117 to 138, had numerous mistresses as well as a wife, but
Antinous (an-TIN-oh-us) was his favorite. The temple consists of a
30-meter wide colonnaded (CALL-uh-NAID-ed) semi-circle behind two
rectangular buildings, with niches and fountains. Beneath the complex
are well-preserved tunnels. The finds include a seated statue in grey
granite of the Pharaoh Rameses II, which Hadrian probably had transported here from Memphis, in Egypt. Hadrian first met Antinous
(an-TIN-oh-us) at Bithynium (bi-THIN-ee-um) in Asia Minor, now Turkey,
and the beautiful boy became his young lover and companion in hunting
and sports. But at the age of only 20, Antinous (an-TIN-oh-us) drowned
in the Nile, near Alexandria in AD 130. It was rumored that he killed
himself in a sacrificial rite, although Hadrian denied this. The Emperor
broke down "and cried with the tears of a woman" at Antinous's
(an-TIN-oh-us's) loss, and mourned him for years. Hadrian not only built
an elaborate tomb for Antinous (an-TIN-oh-us) in Egypt, he created
around it a town that was the center of a cult in which his dead lover
was identified with Osiris, the Egyptian god of the afterlife. Scholars
had long been puzzled, however, by the apparent absence of a memorial to
Antinous (an-TIN-oh-us) at Hadrian's huge, architecturally elaborate
estate at Tivoli, northwest of Rome.

That wraps up the news for this week!
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