Audio News for November 25th to December 1st, 2002

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Laura Pettigrew
and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from
November 25th to December 1st.

Possible ancestral Cherokee site found


Our first story is from the United States where in North Carolina,
archaeologists have excavated part of what once was a cornfield and
uncovered an American Indian mound that offers a complete picture of a
culture of a prehistoric people known as the Connestee (con-NEST-tay).
Archaeologists believe that between around AD. 200 and AD. 500 -- what
is known as the Middle Woodland period -- the site was a major
ceremonial center for the Connestee (con-NEST-tay ), who may have been
ancestors of the Cherokee tribe. The 1,000-square-foot site is unique
for the area because its multiple layers of dirt are clearly stratified
and discernible as sharply different colors, offering clues to what occurred here at different points of occupation. Each tonal layer of
earth -- mossy green, medium brown, orange, tan, dark brown or yellow --
tells a story. The deepest layer, a yellow subsoil, represents the
earliest period of occupation, when the site was a Connestee
(con-NEST-tay) village. Archaeologists have identified nine stages of
construction at the site. They've found evidence of five different
earthen floors and about three dozen postholes suggesting a series of
large structures, about 75 to 80 feet in diameter. Also found were
fragments of tools, mostly hunting weapons, pottery and small-bladed
knives, as well as pieces of clay figurines that may have belonged to
children. Future digs hope to answer the question about the Connestee
(con-NEST-tay): What happened to them?

Bulgarian archeologists find road to famed ancient temple


In Bulgaria, archeologists are close to discovering the ancient Dionysus
(Dye-e-NYE-sus) temple in the Rhodopi (ra-DOP-ee) Mountains. The temple
is known for its splendor in antiquity -- and in its elusiveness in
modern times. The expedition is searching the vicinity of the mountain
town Peshtera (PESH-tuh-ruh), where a Roman road that led to the
sanctuary in ancient times has already been discovered. This road was
the main thoroughfare in the Western Rhodopi (ra-DOP-ee) Mountains,
along which merchants traveled between the ancient Thracian (THRAE-shen)
states of this region and Peloponnesia (PEL-a-pon-NEE-sea-a) -- ancient
Greece -- to the south. Thanks to the latest excavations, the road find
indicates the temple may lie in the proximity of Peshtera (PESH-tuh-ruh), stated local archaeological officials. The hypothesis is supported by
the discovery of four ancient fortresses that guarded the road.

Ancient Anatolian envelopes held business and love letters


In Central Anatolia, digs this past summer revealed that not only were
people writing letters to each other 4000 years ago, they used envelopes
to seal in their private words. More than 270 items were recovered,
including letters written on tablets and tucked into mud envelopes. The
find sheds light on the past and forms a bridge with the present. The
contents of the 4000-year-old letters were not much different than those
of today, talking about the economy, inheritance, love and complaints.
The mud tablets, written in cuneiform, were placed in small mud
envelopes after they dried. This form of sealed correspondence was
carried out between Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Experts note that the
envelopes indicate the importance already attributed to privacy in ancient societies.

Namibia find is nest of ostrich egg water bottles


From Namibia, a Scottish volunteer and amateur archaeologist found
something experts had been looking for years. Amateur Wesley Bradd
discovered a clutch of rare and ancient ostrich eggs, which could be
tens of thousands of years old. Academics are particularly excited
because the eggs carry engravings by bushmen and the shells have been
expertly turned into water bottles. Mr Bradd was taking a break from
working on projects in the southwest of the country, when he explored a
crevasse under a rock overhang and found the rare egg water bottles. The
bottles were used by the original inhabitants of the area, who drilled a
hole in one side of a fresh egg, cleaned it out and after filling it
with water, plugged the holes with a mixture of beeswax and grass. Two
of the eggs are decorated with engravings, and one is also touched up
with red ochre. It is thought the cache of bottles was left by the
Bushmen for the return leg of a long journey, but were never retrieved.
These "nests" were usually abandoned due to a change of route, and are
only very occasionally discovered. As the eggs are not threatened by
their current location, they have been replaced again, and left in situ
pending further investigation by experts. As well as the water bottles,
the group also discovered some previously unknown rock paintings,
depicting an antelope, hunting bags and a larger, unidentified animal.

Science will reconstruct face of Mayan city's founder


Our final story is from Honduras, where a group of scientists plan to
reconstruct the facial features of the founder and first ruler of the
great Mayan city of Copan (co-PAWN). Forensic archaeologists and
anthropologists will use X-rays and other tools to reconstruct the
facial features of Quetzal Guacamayo ( KATE-sal GUAC-a-my-o), whose
remains were discovered in 1992. The remains of Quetzal Guacamayo (
KATE-sal GUAC-a-my-o) were discovered in the citadel of the Ruins of
Copan (co-PAWN), and were surrounded by evidence of offerings and
ornaments. Nearby, researchers have discovered the remains of a woman
believed to have been the ruler's wife, whose tomb was looted 3 years
ago. Quetzal Guacamayo ( KATE-sal GUAC-a-my-o) founded the Copan
(co-PAWN) dynasty and is believed to have ruled between AD 426 and 435.
Researchers have also uncovered stelae, pyramids, altars and
hieroglyphic stairs containing the most extensive collection of pre-Columbian writing in the Americas.

That wraps up the news for this week!
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