Audio News for February 9th to February 15th.

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Laura Pettigrew and these
are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from February 9th to
February 15th.

75 Years After Discovery, Clovis Man Still a Mystery


In our first story, this past week marks 75 years since an amateur
archaeologist discovered the site of Blackwater Draw, about 14 miles southwest of
Clovis, New Mexico, in the United States. Other than knowing he lived among
saber-toothed cats, hunted giant mammoths, and even dug water wells,
thousands of years later, we still don't know much about the people known
collectively today as Clovis. Clovis people lived between 11,500 and 13,000
years ago. Since the Clovis discovery, evidence has surfaced that
humanity’s first North American appearance may have been on the East
Coast, but many researchers still favor the Clovis people as the oldest known North American group. In their time, Columbian mammoths and giant bison roamed the Plains. We don't know specifically what the Clovis people ate, what they wore, or what they looked like, because skeletal evidence has not been found for these people.  However, we
know of their existence because of the finding of fluted projectile points
that were most likely from spears in the skeletal remains of mammoths and
bison. Radiocarbon dating of these points and bones show the Clovis people
are certainly the earliest known human occupant of this region, if not in
North America. The earliest recorded finding of the points and mammoth
bones was on Feb. 5, 1929, by a 19-year-old man named Ridgley Whiteman.
Several years later, researchers learned that Clovis people used carved mammoth bone
to create shafts attached to arrow points.  Animal bones also have told us
that Clovis groups were surrounded not only by mammoths, but tapirs,
four-pronged antelopes, llamas, deer, short-faced bears, beavers, armadillos
and peccary. Scientists believe Clovis people also created the earliest water
control system in the New World.  Wells found at Blackwater Draw point to climate fluctuations and variable water tables in one of the most stable spring-fed lakes of the past.  Layers of sand that can be dated indicate Clovis people dug these wells.

Book Created by Famous Publisher Found in Russia


In Russia, an excellent copy of an ancient book of the biography of saints
has been found in Ufa (oo-FA). First Russian publisher Ivan Fedorov
presumably issued it. The book dates back to 1580 and is one of the first
ten books issued by the ancient publisher. No such rarities exist in any of
the museum collections in the region. Considered in very good condition,
the book has survived in an attic of an old house. A bronze pin remains that
has been left intact, while the cover has a single minor crack. The book is
printed in Greek and old Slav languages on watermark paper. The book
produces a strong impression given its unique editor's culture, and has an
excellent two-color filigree print and highly skilled drawings. The house
where the rare book was found had once been owned by the Dean of the
cathedral, a rector of the Ufa (oo-FA) Seminary, who was killed by the
Bolsheviks during the 1917-1918 revolution in Russia. The Dean had amassed
a huge collection of church books dating back to the16th- 19th centuries.
When he moved from Samara to Ufa (oo-FA), his books were carried by six
carts, while the rest of his belongings were packed in a single suitcase.

New Theory Explains Development of Egyptian Pyramids


A German archaeologist has revealed his theory on the building of Egypt's
ancient pyramids. He believes they are probably a byproduct of a decision to
build walls around the tombs of kings. Guenter Dreyer based his theory on
similarities between Egypt's first pyramid, built at Saqqara for the Pharaoh
Zozer in about 2650 BC, and the structure of the tomb of one of his immediate predecessors. The Saqqara pyramid, known as the Step Pyramid
because of its shape, began as a flat mound about 25 feet high built over
the burial chamber of the pharaoh. At a slightly earlier Pharonic tomb, at
the old royal cemetery at Abydos in southern Egypt, excavators found
evidence of a similar flat mound covering the central part of the
underground burial complex. The walls in the center of the tomb were
compacted in such a way as to suggest a heavy weight had once stood on top.
The Abydos complex also had an enclosure wall, which later became a
distinctive feature of the dozens of pyramids built along the western edge
of the Nile Valley. But in the Abydos example, the enclosure wall was much
further from the tomb than at Saqqara. Dreyer’s theory is that Zozer united
the two elements of the mound and the wall at Saqqara. The large surrounding
wall hid the mound on top of the tomb making it invisible. The architects
of the Saqqara complex built another smaller flat mound on top of the first
and then decided to extend it upwards by adding more mounds. The Saqqara
pyramid is an intermediate stage between the flat mounds, or mastabas, of
the earlier period to the smooth-sided classical pyramids found at Giza.
Archaeologists have long speculated that the pyramids are an extension of
the mastaba concept but Dreyer's theory adds the enclosure wall as an
explanation for the transition. Dreyer, who has spent the last decade
studying the kings who ruled in southern Egypt during the pre-dynastic
period, which is before about 3100 BC, said he now believes he has
identified another king from the period, known by the name of Horus. This is
also the name of the falcon god. He is basing his theory on a close
analysis of two ancient palettes, which are flat ceremonial stone plates.
Two palettes show a Horus falcon in a context, which Dreyer interprets as
the place where the name of a king should appear. Several palettes have
been interpreted as commemorating the conquest of Nile Delta towns by the
kings from the south, a process that later led to the political unification
of Egypt. The conquest has traditionally been attributed to either King
Narmer or King Aha, who lived about 200 years later.

Lebanese Garden Site of Archaeologic Jewels


Our final story is from Beirut, Lebanon, where a major redevelopment project
known as the Garden of Forgiveness is revealing artifacts from Roman and
Hellenistic societies. As a symbol of the country’s unity, the garden
combines various elements of the Lebanese landscape into mountain terraces
and olive and fruit trees. By descending the garden stairs, one steps into
nearly 2,500 years of history. The garden represents a vast history by
incorporating a growing number of ruins. After excavating the area for over
a decade, a virtual open-air museum has been uncovered, with such findings
as a sacred Hellenistic area near a spring, a fountain once gushing with
water which is surrounded by ornate statues, and the remnants of a 17th
century palace. One of the most recent discoveries includes the remains of what is believed to be a Roman temple, as well as elaborate Byzantine
mosaics made of tiny green, yellow and red stones. Even more exciting for
the archaeologists on site was last year's discovery of the Decumanus
(de-CU-ma-nus) Maximus, the Roman main street that ran from east to west
through the city and was unearthed below the Amin (a-MEEN) Mosque. The
street was removed from its original site after it's discovery, but plans
have been made to reinstate it in the basement of the Mosque. The Cardus
Maximus (CAR-dus MAX-i-mus), the other main Roman road that ran north to
south, was partially uncovered in 1995, and has already been preserved and
will be part of the garden. The Cardus (CAR-dus) and Decumanus
(de-CU-mu-nus) were most likely constructed in 2 AD. The streets played an
enormous social, cultural and economic role. They were the main arteries of
the city. The grand streets, raised above other roads, were lined with
columns and provided shaded walkways where merchants exhibited their most
luxurious goods. Water flowed along the streets in clay and lead tubes and
people were able to drink from babbling fountains. The team is currently
working to uncover what they believe will be a Roman temple, possibly dating
back to Hellenistic times, that is situated near the striking ruins of the
standing Byzantine columns. One room of the temple has been found, and
experts hope excavations will lead to more. On a smaller scale, but
certainly just as historically important, the digs have uncovered a golden
necklace, a ring, Byzantine coins and two 1,000-year-old Iraqi dinars, items
that are now on display at the National Museum. With the exception of the
Roman columns, Ottoman arches are the only other archaeological find visible
from the street. These arches were used as building foundations to bring
Ottoman Beirut to the same level as the city center today. The whole
project should be complete in June or July of 2005.

That wraps up the news for this week!
For more stories and daily news updates, visit Archaeologica on the World
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I’m Laura Pettigrew and I’ll see you next week!