Audio News for February 16th to February 22nd.

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Laura Pettigrew and these
are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from February 16th
to February 22nd.

Ancient Accessories and Makeup Found Near Dead Sea


Our first story is from Jerusalem, where archaeologists excavating caves
near the Dead Sea discovered jewelry, a makeup kit and a small mirror. The
items apparently belonged to Jewish women who returned from exile in Babylon
in the 6th century B.C. The find is considered very rare. Finds of this
opulence from this period are almost unheard of. Archeologists found the
artifacts under an accumulation of sediment by a nearby spring. They
included a necklace made of 130 beads of semiprecious stones and gold; a
scarab; an agate medallion of Babylonian origin; and a silver pendant with
an engraved crescent moon and pomegranates. What appears to be a makeup kit contained an alabaster bowl for powders, a stick to apply the cosmetics and
a bronze mirror. They also found a pagan stamp showing a Babylonian priest
bowing to the moon. When the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar (
NEB-e-ked-NEZ-er) conquered the Kingdom of Judah in 597 B.C., he sent many
Jews into exile in Babylon. These Jews and their descendants were later
allowed to return by the Persian monarch Cyrus in 538 B.C.

Mayan Kingdom in Guatemala Investigated


In Guatemala, archeologists are exploring a ruined kingdom to figure out how
it endured centuries of conflict in the ancient Mayan Indian world before
being abandoned more than 1,200 years ago. Known as Naachtun (nac-TOON),
the city-state played a strategic and possibly unique diplomatic role in the
turbulent politics of the Mayan civilization.  Earlier this month, an
expedition team left for the remote Peten (pe-TEN) jungle area near the
border with Mexico to excavate at Naachtun (Nac-TOON), a Mayan name meaning
"distant stone." The team’s goal is to try to explain how Naachtun survived
the collapse of the great pre-classic Mirador (MIR-a-DOR) civilization and
then went on to blossom during the centuries of conflict that followed. The
region appears to have thrived between around 500 and 800 A.D. This is the
same time of almost constant warfare in the Mayan area, with Tikal (tee-KAL)
and Calakmul (CAL-ak-MUL), the two area superpowers, locked in a frequently
vicious fight for supremacy. Naachtun (nac-TOON) was located directly en
route between the two great powers and came to be vitally important to both
the war and trade strategies of the rival kingdoms. Archeologists are not
sure whether Naachtun (nac-TOON) was neutral territory or a strategically
placed entity where warring third parties would compete for influence. The
team also believes the remote site's real name is Masul (ma-SUL), one of a
handful of Mayan kingdoms named in hieroglyphic carvings whose precise
location has long been a mystery. Spotted with pyramids, numerous stone
carvings and a sprawling 10-acre palace complex, Naachtun (nac-TOON) was
founded around 400 BC and is believed to have been home to up to 20,000
people at the peak of its powers. Hieroglyphic records show that the
heavily fortified city shifted allegiances repeatedly, unusual in the highly
polarized classic era of Mayan civilization. One explanation is that the
rival powers recognized the importance of the site as a frontier between
them and wanted to control it to use it as a kind of early warning system.
The last serious exploration attempt at Naachtun (nac-TOON) was a three-week
visit by the Carnegie Institution in Washington in 1933 that produced the
only map of the site.

Artifacts Hint Towards Viking Boat Burial in England


In Northwest England, the discovery of a handful of ancient iron nails, a belt buckle and some silver coins are hinting strongly that a Norse boat
burial site may lie beneath the Yorkshire soil. The site, which is being
kept secret, was found in December by amateur metal detector enthusiasts who
reported their discoveries to experts in January. The presence of the
nails, specifically designed for use in boat making, along with fragments of
two swords and coins, raised hope that excavation will uncover the remains
of the Norse ceremony in which the dead were buried in a boat with their
possessions to take with them to the afterlife. True to the Viking longship
design, the vessel itself appears to be about 30 yards in length, judging by
the spread of the nails as shown by the metal detectors. It was the narrow,
highly maneuverable longship that enabled the invaders from Scandinavia to
move swiftly and strike before defenders could rally to fight them off. The
Yorkshire find apparently dates from the late ninth century, a time when the
Vikings were beginning to conquer and settle in England rather than just
invading and pillaging. The prospect of excavations at the site has
provoked a wave of excitement among Viking scholars, particularly in
Scandinavia. About a dozen nails have been recovered so far, including
boat building nails that were driven into boards through metal washers. Some
still have the washers attached. This find is more likely be a burial of a
wealthy merchant than of a prince or king. The coins include seven from the
reign of King Burgred of Mercia in what is now central England, two from the
kingdom of Alfred the Great, king of Wessex in what is now southern England,
and one fragment of an Arab dirham coin. The Norsemen from Scandinavia
traded widely in addition to their invasions and conquests in Britain
between the eighth and 11th centuries. The last major Norse invasion was in
1066, shortly before the Norman conquest of England by William the

New Zealand Find Gives Clues to Pre-historic Past


Our final story is from New Zealand, where archaeologists excavating a well
preserved early settlement at Westport's Carter's Beach have found far more
riches than they expected. A team from the Historic Places Trust and Otago
University uncovered the site near the Buller River on a recent three-week
excavation. It was first discovered in the 1970s by archaeologist D. Wayne
Orchiston. Senior archaeology lecturer Dr Richard Walter dates the site at
between AD1300 and AD1400 and stated the site was a much larger and richer
site than anticipated. They have excavated a number of small houses and some
large communal moa ovens. About 10 to 15 families probably lived in the
village for months at a time, Dr Walter said. The site most likely spanned
family generations and was the largest archaic site of its type in the
country. The most important part is that it's so early, it's so big and
it's so well-preserved. It has the potential to really answer some
fundamental questions about the very early stages of New Zealand pre-history. The site, which would have been close to the shoreline 600
years ago, will be further investigated next summer.

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