Audio News for October 14th to October 20th, 2002

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Laura Pettigrew
and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from
October 14th to October 20th.

Mother-in-law problems, Assyrian style


Our first story is from Kayseri (KEY-se-REE), Turkey, where evidence of
a disagreement between bride and mother-in-law four thousand years ago
survives on a clay tablet inscribed in cuneiform (cue-KNEE-a-form).
Cuneiform inscriptions were written on clay tablets, which were then
dried, and subsequently covered with another layer of clay, like an
envelope, and dried again. The outer "envelope" part was broken away to
read the letter underneath. Assyrian merchants exchanged cuneiform writing tablets with their trading partners in Mesopotamia and with
their relatives. A caravan brought this woman's message from Mesopotamia
to her husband, who was in Kanis (CAN-is). In the tablet, she wrote, ''I
suffer from your mother. She gives harm to me. I cannot carry this
burden any more. Come back as soon as possible and save me from this
woman.'' When her husband did not return, the bride sent another letter,
saying, '' Your children grew up, they don't listen to the things I tell
them. Come back quickly before your mother and children kill me.'' The
merchant died in Kanis (CAN-is), however, and the two tablets were found
in his grave. Women's rights were very advanced four thousand years ago.
A married woman was given a tablet recording her marriage and another
when she divorced or her husband died, so that she got her share from
the inheritance. The cuneiform inscription tablets from the merchant's
wife will be exhibited with other artifacts in Ankara's (ANK-uh-ruh's)
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and Kayseri (KEY-se-REE) Archeology

African ice cores document drought and social change


Researchers from Ohio State University have retrieved ice core samples
from the ice field of Mount Kilimanjaro and they are revealing
remarkable information. Samples show that the tropical glaciers began to
form about 11,700 years ago. The cores also yielded remarkable evidence
of three catastrophic droughts that plagued the tropics 8,300, 5,200 and
4,000 years ago. One key to dating the core came with the finding of a
chemical marker in the ice -- a spike in the isotope chlorine-36, which
is a radioactive remnant of nuclear bomb testing in 1951-52. Clues from
the cores suggest a much different, far wetter landscape near
Kilimanjaro 9,500 years ago than exists there today. The cores showed an
abrupt depletion in oxygen-18 isotopes that researchers believe signals
a drought event occurring around 5,200 years ago. This cool, dry event
coincides with the period when anthropologists believe people in the
region began to come together to form cities and complex societies.
Before this, the population of mainly hunters and gatherers had been
more scattered. Another significant marker is a visible dust layer in
the ice cores dating back to about 4,000 years ago. Experts believe this
resulted from a severe 300-year drought that struck the region.
Historical records show a massive drought in Egypt at the time that
threatened the rule of the Pharaohs.

Lost ship sought in the Arctic deep


In Canada, a scientist believes that when the Arctic ice melts next
summer he'll have evidence of one of marine archeology's prizes: A ship
from the Franklin Expedition. Dozens of search teams in three different
centuries have tried and failed, sometimes tragically, to find HMS
Terror or HMS Erebus (AIR-uh-bus), the vessels that carried legendary
19th-century explorer Sir John Franklin and his crew of 129 to their
deaths during an ill-fated voyage in the 1840s to discover the Northwest
Passage. The disappearance of Franklin and his men caused a sensation
around the world, and rescue ships were dispatched from Britain
throughout the 1840s and 1850s. The Terror and Erebus (AIR-u-bus) were
never found, but the tragic fate of the expedition was eventually
confirmed with the discovery of the frozen bodies of several sailors and
a single page from a logbook placed in a stone monument at a site called
Victory Point. The log recorded Franklin's death aboard the Erebus
(AIR-u-bus) in 1847 and the abandonment of the two ships. Improvements
in the technology and applications of magnetometry are now helping the
Irish-Canadian team conduct unprecedented scans of the Arctic seabed for
signs of metal consistent with the 14-ton iron steam engines and masses
of steel cladding that covered the hulls of Franklin's wooden sailing
ships. A key clue as to the whereabouts of the Franklin ships might lie
in oral traditions of the region's Inuit (IN-you-it) that an ice-bound
ship had once been seen just off the coast of King William Island, close
to a smaller islet the aboriginal people had named "Big Boat Island."

Nicaraguan Workers discover ancient graves


From Nicaragua, workers building a wall discovered several graves
believed to date back 1,000 years. The pre-Columbian cemetery on the
shores of Lake Xolotlan (so-lote-LAWN) in Managua (ma-NA-gwah) contained
the graves of about 20 men, women and children who were buried with
pottery and other artifacts. Archeologists told reporters the remains
are being sent to the United States for study. Experts stated that
there's a good possibility that there are many other graves in the area,
and they hope that the site will add to knowledge about the migratory
patterns of the tribes that came to Nicaragua from Central America and

Andean cultural transition shown by ancient tombs


Our final story is from Peru, where the discovery of six funeral
chambers with the bones and burial trappings of some 60 people is
expected to shed light on the decline of the Andean Moche (MO-che)
culture more than a thousand years ago. A multinational group of archaeologists found six funeral chambers at a site roughly 373 miles
north of Lima. According to the team, the chambers date from the
transition period between the Moche (MO-che) culture and that of the
Lambayeques (LAM-bai-YAY-case). The newly discovered chambers belong to
the period between AD 800 and 950, and show the cultural changes that
occurred between the time the Moche (MO-che) civilization fell and the
Lambayeques (LAM-bai-YAY-case) began to flourish. The main chamber is
five meters (16 feet) high and five meters wide and was found 13 feet
below the surface of the earth, with niches in the walls containing many
ornamental objects. According to a Peruvian archaeologist, the quality
and value of the offerings found in the main chamber indicate that one
of those buried there belonged to the Moche (MO-che) elite. Important
ceramic pieces, flutes, Ecuadorian shells and six clay figures were
among the offerings this notable was taking with him to the afterlife.
The Moche (MO-che) culture, also known as Mochica (mo-CHEE-ka ), is
known for its ceramics. It developed in northern Peru and reached its
height between the first century and the end of the seventh century.

That wraps up the news for this week!
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