Audio News for November 18th to November
24th, 2002

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm
Claire Britton-Warren and these are the headlines in
archaeological and historical news from November 18th
to November 24th.

Oregon coastal site date is even older than thought


Our first story is from the United States, where a site on the southern
Oregon coast has been re-dated to about 10,400 years old. This
prehistoric site, marked by many flakes from stone tool manufacture, was
dated by University of Oregon researchers at about 8,300 years old. The dating makes this area older than anything on the Washington Coast, and
is comparable to sites along the California, British Columbia, and
Alaska Coasts. Experts performed Geographical Information Systems
modeling for this project, which allowed the team to investigate the
landscape comparing what it looks like now to what it would have looked
like in the past. The Coquille (co-QUILL) tribe in the region helped
with the investigation, which takes place in their ancestral territory.
The next steps in the project is to investigate the surrounding area to
see how far these 10,400-year-old deposits extend. After that, botanical
or microscopic work may be
incorporated in the area. This information is useful anthropologically
in that it aids in understanding what routes may have been used for
travel into the Americas.

Nasca message solved by reading between the lines


Two European archaeologists who have studied the patterns of the Nasca
(NAS-ka) and Palpa (PAL-pa) in Peru for the past five years say they may
have solved the riddle of their meaning. According to the researchers,
the famous Nasca (NAS-ka) lines and less well-known Palpa (PAL-pa) lines
nearby were all about water in one of the world's driest deserts. They
noted that the giant "geoglyphs", that include birds, figures,
trapezoids and spirals, lie on a plain cut by three rivers, something
that would have made it a very fertile site. Thusly, it appeared that
people living on the Palpa plains chose where to settle based on where
their water sources were. Some trapezoids seem to point towards the
source of the rivers, and two in particular point to a convergence of
water that could be another clue. Furthermore, the team's excavations of
mounds at the end of some of the trapezoids turned up offerings such as
fragments of a kind of shell that has been symbolized water and
fertility in the Andes for thousands of years. The first Palpa lines
date from around 200 B.C., near the end of the Paracas (pa-RA-cus)
culture, which flourished from 800 BC to 200 BC. The study also
identified and excavated what is thought to be key religious and
administrative sites from the early-and mid-Nasca (NAS-ka) period,
although tomb-robbers had long ago plundered them. Evidence is showing
that the lines weren't just made once and then left, but were used
throughout time. Some were erased or remodeled or lines were
superimposed by new lines. Despite the new answers, more questions
remain and scientists were planning to use a revolutionary irradiation
technique to pinpoint the lines' ages by measuring when the stones they contained were last exposed to daylight. Because the lines were made by
piling surface shale on top of other stones, irradiating those that were
hidden could prove a reliable dating method.

Scottish quarry yields rare Mesolithic house site


From Scotland, archaeologists have unearthed the remains of the house
on the site of a limestone quarry that dates from the Mesolithic
(MEZ-o-LITH-ic) era of the hunter-gatherers between 8000 BC and 4000 BC.
The site could pre-date the Skara Brae (SCAR-a bray) settlement in
Orkney, which dates from around 2000 BC in following Neolithic period.
The newly discovered remains might never have been found had planners
not insisted archaeologists' survey the site before quarrying began. The
discovery of holes for wooden posts for a teepee-like structure, suggest
for the first time that the hunter-gatherers built semi-permanent
structures from which to roam in search of food. First indications of
the site's age emerged with the discovery of thousands of flint
fragments from stone tool manufacture, the tools themselves and burned
hazelnut shells. But significantly, the discovery of the inward-sloping
8-inch diameter postholes indicated that the partially natural hollow
around which they had been sunk was more than an overnight shelter.
Experts stated that considerable effort was taken in building this round
house showing evidence that a Mesolithic family spent a lengthy stay in
the area, or perhaps returned to the house at particular times of the
year over a lengthy period.

Panamian site dates from Spanish conquest


In Panama, a team of experts plans to conduct archaeological excavations
at a site believed to be
the ancient city of Acla (AK-la) on the Caribbean coast, the location
where Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa (VAS-co NOON-yez de
bal-BO-a) was beheaded in 1519. The research is a follow-up to work
started in 1979 by British archaeologists looking for evidence of
Scottish colonies. In their search, the British scientists collected
some 24 boxes of items and removed other articles from a site since
confirmed to be Acla. Vasco Nunez de Balboa(VAS-co NOON-yez de bal-BO-a), who discovered the Southern Sea (later
named the Pacific Ocean), was beheaded on accusations of treason several
years later by order of the Spanish Governor. Some of the boxes that
found contain Spanish ceramics from the era, leading to the
identification of this site as Acla, or, as it was known then, Acla
Minor. The search must go farther into the jungle to find remnants of
the larger site called Acla Major, which was part of a network of
Spanish forts from the colonial era. These fortifications crossed the
Darien jungle and reached as far as the San Miguel Gulf, on the Pacific
coast, and were part of a major route for transporting Spanish treasures
through America.

Israeli cave coins may document Simon Bar-Kochba


Our final story is from Israel, where a cave survey in the Judean Desert
has uncovered papyrus scrolls, coins and arrowheads from the period of
the Jewish rebellion against the Romans in the second century. The
scrolls, while believed to be less significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls
found in the region in 1947, will shed light on the time of the revolt
led by Simon Bar Kochba. The artifacts were found in a nature reserve,
near the Dead Sea. Historians believe the rebels fled to the desert
after the Romans crushed the revolt, hiding out in hillside caves dotted
throughout the rugged terrain. Exploring into the cave, archaeologists
found the papyrus scrolls as well as coins bearing the name "Shimon," or
Simon, quite likely a reference to Bar Kochba, who led rebellion in A.D.
132-135. Archaeologists also found a dozen wooden arrows and metal
arrowheads, and scraps of cloth. The scrolls, yet unopened, have been
given to the Israel Museum, where they will be studied. Between 1947-65,
archaeologists found hundreds of ancient Jewish documents at Qumran, the
area where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Decades later,
archaeologists believed all the scrolls in the area had been found until
the discovery of a number of documents near Jericho between 1986-93.

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