Audio News for January 25th to February 1st

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Laura Pettigrew and these
are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from January 26th to
February 1st.

The Harp of Ur Will Sound Again


Our first story is from Britain, where a harp enthusiast is hoping to
recreate the first working copy of the famous Harp of Ur. Andy Lowings
wants the replica instrument to be as close to the 4,750 year-old original
as possible, even down to the source of the wood. The musical director was
moved to act last April when the harp's remains were destroyed by thieves in
Baghdad's main museum. His project caught the imagination of a nearby RAF
squadron who agreed to collect two pieces of cedar wood from Basra. He
approached RAF Wittering after a Muslim group in Baghdad found him authentic
planks of wood. Bomb disposal experts from the 5131 Squadron stationed in
Iraq agreed to deliver the materials back to Cambridgeshire. Interest in
the project has flooded in, including offers of help from a skilled Iraqi calligrapher, metal conservationists from West Dean College, in Sussex, and
a London-based Iraqi harp player. An expert in Austria is now transforming
the wood into a harp and Mr. Lowings hopes it will be ready for its first
performance in August. He is currently looking for funding to take the
completed harp on a yearlong tour. Remains of three harps were excavated
from a royal mass grave in the Mesopotamian city of Ur in 1929. They were
shared among museums in Pennsylvania, Baghdad and the British Museum in
London. Each museum reconstructed the harps for display but they were
unplayable. The Harp of Ur is about the same age the Great Pyramid of Egypt.
Sumerian artists crafted the harp out of cedar, with a gold bull's head
attached. It was buried in the grave of Queen Pu-Abi around 2500 BC.

Discovery Points to Early Teotihuacan Influence in Mexico City


In Mexico, archaeologists have discovered an ancient Teotihuacan
(TAE-o-TEE-wa-KAN) settlement in central Mexico City, 30 miles from the
pyramids where the culture thrived nearly 2,000 years ago. The discovery of
structures and tools suggests the Teotihuacan (TAE-o-TEE-wa-KAN) culture
spread and influenced the area around Mexico City even earlier than
previously thought. The ancient city of Teotihuacan (TAE-o-TEE-wa-KAN) lies
north of modern Mexico City. One of the largest cities in the world around
the time of Christ, it had an estimated 150,000 citizens and influenced art
and architecture as far away as the Yucatan peninsula. However, it had been
abandoned and crumbling for centuries by the time of the Aztecs. The
artifacts discovered may push the date of Mexico City's founding back to the
classic Teotihuacan period of 300-600. The Aztecs are credited with founding
Mexico City in the 1300s. Scattered settlements and relics dating to the
time before the Aztecs previously have been found on the outskirts of modern
Mexico City, but few have been found so close to the island that formed the
Aztec city's center. Relics found in the excavation include six pairs of
ceramic urns of Teotihuacan (TAE-o-TEE-wa-KAN) style. The purpose of the
urns is unclear, but archeologists suspect they may have been used to hold
the remains of children sacrificed to the god of rain. The other relics
found included ceramic domestic tools, a bone needle, and a figurine thought
to be used in rituals. In another dig, officials uncovered remnants of a
stone wall and floor dating from the same period. The new site's excavation
began when the National Historical Museum undertook a complete restoration
of the Chapultepec (cha-PUL-te-PEK) castle in 1998. Pre-Hispanic vestiges
were discovered underneath the castle's structure and in the surrounding
hill. These are the first remains to be found in Chapultepec
(cha-PUL-te-PEK) Park, an area that served as a retreat for rulers from
Aztec kings to Emperor Maximillian. New excavations on the southern and
western flanks of the hill are now being proposed.

Medieval ship shown to have famous owner


In the United Kingdom, historians working on Britain's sole surviving
medieval ship, which was recovered in South Wales two years ago, believe the
Earl of Warwick owned it during the War of the Roses. A letter by the Earl,
one of the most powerful figures of the 15th century, reveals that he
ordered repairs on an ocean-going ship in Newport in 1469. The date and
place match repairs being carried out on the medieval boat, which is
regarded as the most important maritime find since the Mary Rose. The
medieval boat is one of Britain's most important historical treasures
because not only was it found fairly intact, but also it comes from a period
where no other ships of this type have been recovered. Found during the
construction of an arts centre in South Wales in 2002, the preserved oak ship was found to be around 100 ft long and weighing between 100 and
200 tons. It once had three masts and a large square-rigged mainsail. The
hull was "clinker built," with oak planks overlapping each other. Using
tree ring data, researchers discovered that one of the timbers was cut down
in 1465 or 1466. Parts of the hull were ruinously cracked, while other
timbers had recently been replaced at the time of abandonment. The
discovery of Portuguese copper coins and pottery and a lump of cork showed
that the vessel had links to the Iberian Peninsula. The link with Warwick
emerged from a letter, found in Warwickshire's county archives. Warwick was
a key player in the rapidly changing political scene of 15th Century
England. In 1460 he captured Henry VI in London and put his nephew Edward
IV on the throne the following year. Over the next 10 years, Warwick
remained a major influence in government, but increasingly came into
conflict with his king. In 1470, in danger from Edward IV, he fled to
France, made a deal with the French and returned to London where he ruled in
Henry VI's name. The following year he was killed at the Battle of Barnet.
The repair work appears to have been abandoned around the time of Warwick's
exile and the vessel was left to rot.

Were Egyptians the World's First Bowlers?


Our final story is from Egypt where an Italian team excavating at Madi
(MA-dee), a city in the Fayyoum (fy-YOOM), has unearthed an open structure dating
back to the Ptolemaic age. The floor comprises a single large block
of limestone with a groove 4 inches deep and 8 inches wide. In the middle
is a 5 inch-square hole. The team found two balls of polished
limestone, one of which fits the groove and the other the square hole. The
structure is like no other found in the ancient world. It has been proposed
that it might be a first attempt at the practice of bowling. The alleged
bowling track was found next to the remains of a number of houses, each made
up of two rooms with a large hall. The team had recently found papyrus scrolls dating back to the Ptolemaic period, pottery shards, glass utensils,
and copper tools in the area. The archaeological site of Medinet Madi is
one of the most complete. The oldest of its monuments is a 12th Dynasty
temple dedicated to the harvest goddess and the crocodile-god Sobek
(so-BEK). The temple is decorated with murals showing the kings of the 12th
Dynasty worshiping the gods.

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 Laura Pettigrew and I’ll see you next week!