Audio News for September 22nd to September 28th

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Laura Pettigrew and
these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from
September 22nd to September 28th.

Oregon dig explores Chinookan village

Our first story is from Portland, Oregon, in the northwest United States, where an excavation is uncovering tools and other signs of a Chinookan (shi-NOOK-an) village thought to have existed from about 200 to 600 years ago. The archaeology project is rescuing information in advance of construction for industrial development. Project Leader Richard Pettigrew, representing Seattle firm Cascadia Archaeology, said several hundred Chinook might have lived in the village of large plank houses. Artifacts exposed in the deep excavation trenches include projectile points as well as two antler wedges and one bone wedge that probably were used to split cedar planks for Chinookan (shi-NOOK-an) houses. Also found were sculpted stone mauls that could have been used for driving the wedges, or pounding in stakes. Tests on volcanic ash and charcoal taken from possible fire pits will help provide an approximate date for the village. No one knows why the village was abandoned, but its inhabitants may have been hard-hit by the epidemics early in the 19th century that devastated Native American tribes along the lower Columbia River. The excavation, which began three weeks ago, is scheduled to conclude in the first week of October.  Archaeological Legacy Institute is producing a documentary film about the project to be shown right here on The Archaeology Channel!

Spanish work uncovers huge Roman amphitheater

In Spain, officials announced the discovery of an ancient Roman amphitheater that is the second largest in Europe. The amphitheater, in the southern city of Cordoba, is 535 feet across at its widest point and 60 feet high. It is the third largest known from the Roman world, with Rome’s Coliseum coming first, and the second largest being in north Africa, in the ancient city of Carthage. The site of the Spanish arena shows that it could hold up to 50,000 people. Researchers have determined that it was built for gladiatorial combat during the reigns of the Roman emperors Claudius and Nero, in the first century A.D. It was destroyed sometime between the fourth and seventh centuries, some time before Arab forces conquered the southern region of Andalusia (AN-dal-oo-SEE-a) early in the eighth century. The site has revealed various inscriptions, including those marking the reserved seating for a prominent Cordovan (COR-do-van) family and what is being called the
largest collection of gladiator inscriptions known outside Rome. Some 20 carved gravestones of fallen gladiators are prompting experts to conclude that Cordoba was an important training school for gladiators. The inscriptions record the category of the gladiator, his victories, the laurels and prizes awarded, and his age at death. Less than one-tenth of the arena is currently visible, but archaeologists plan to uncover one sixth of it - 2,000 square meters - in coming years.

Bolivian lake mud tells long history of silver working

From Bolivia, a study of sediment from a lake in the Andes Mountains suggests that people living nearby were mining and using silver 400 hundred years before the Incas began smelting the precious metal in the 1400s. The study, appearing in the journal Science, found evidence that silver was mined from a rich belt at Cerro Rico (SER-ro REE-co) long before the Incas controlled the area. Although legend attributes the discovery of silver at Cerro Rico (SER-ro REE-co) to the 11th Inca ruler in the mid-15th century, the data suggests the deposit was known and exploited as early as the 11th century. The Incas created a sophisticated civilization in the 15th century before European invaders, principally the Spanish, conquered them. But before the Incas, another culture, the Tiwanaku (TEE-wa-NA-coo), lived in the Cerro Rico (SER-ro REE-co) area. The authors, Mark Abbott of the University of Pittsburgh and Alexander Wolfe of the University of Alberta, in Canada, analyzed sediment specimens cored from the bottom of a lake near the Bolivian mining area. They found evidence of metals given off during the process of smelting silver from ore. Based on the date of this material, they estimated that silver mining started in the Cerro Rico (SER-ro REE-co) area about the year 1000, well before the Incas processed the precious metal and before Europeans arrived in the Americas. The researchers estimate that between 20,000 and 40,000 metric tons of silver were extracted from Cerro Rico (SER-ro REE-co) after 1545. From this, they
suggest that several thousand tons of silver were mined and smelted at the Bolivian site during the earlier pre-Inca times. They write that it is possible most of the silver was recycled and transported elsewhere in the Americas before conquest or eventually exported overseas by the Spanish.

Fly a kite, find a site new approach in Egypt

Our final story is from the Kharga (KAR-ga) Oasis in Egypt, where surveyors are flying kites to check out archaeology sites. The oasis is in a military zone, so researchers are using the kites, fitted with remotely operated cameras, to rise above military restrictions and help map one of Egypt's richest, least-studied archaeological regions. Dotting the oasis is a magnificent series of well-preserved Roman forts, possibly built on top of ruins from the time of the Pharaohs. The oasis
is 100 miles long and ranges from 10 to 180 miles wide. Many of its ruins have never been mapped; but looters have preyed on the Kharga (KAR-ga), and now a race is on to preserve it. The researchers work in the early morning and evening when the ruins, some almost completely
buried, cast long shadows over the stony terrain. The aerial view allows the researchers to see features not obvious from the ground. Kharga (KAR-ga) thrived during periods of strong Pharaonic (FAIR-ai-ON-ic) rule, 1400 BC to 800 BC, and again from 600 BC to AD 500 under a series
of foreign conquerors -- Persians, Greeks and Romans. In the 4th century A.D., Kharga (KAR-ga) was the southern rim of the Roman Empire. One of the most impressive sites in the region consists of a small fort in a fortified settlement with grand houses, some of them three stories tall, along with aqueducts and ten cemeteries. The cemeteries span as many as ten generations. The variation in tombs from carved rock, painted brick and ground; suggest that all classes of society lived in closeness. The area also encompasses a temple with hieroglyphs and scenes of Egyptian deities, as well as a Christian church. The settlement may represent a transition point in worship.

That wraps up the news for this week!
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I'm Laura Pettigrew and I'll see you next week!