Audio News for June 21st to June 27th.
Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Laura Pettigrew and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from June 21st to June 27th.
Baalbek’s original city name discovered
Our first story is from Lebanon, where one archaeologist believes he has located the ancient city of Tunip (TOO-nip), the "city of the sun" named in many Egyptian texts, beneath the famous ruins of Baalbek (BAL-bek). Ibrahim Kawkabani explained how this was determined at a conference this week at the Lebanese American University. Excavations began in the city in 1986, in the great hall in front of the Temple of Jupiter. It was believed that the Romans erected their temples on a hill, which they had partially leveled to widen the building space. The work turned up not only Roman artifacts, but far older materials -- flints, axes and a scarab dating back to the 18th to16th centuries BC. The key find was broken pieces of pottery dating from 1200 to 1600 BC, the most significant of which was a piece of pottery only a few centimeters in length dating back to 1200 BC. It showed a ritual scene and carried a signature seal in cuneiform writing. The importance of this piece is twofold: it refers to Tunip (TOO-nip), the mystery city ... and the signature was discovered in the great hall excavations of Baalbek (BAL-bek). After reviewing the documents from Egypt to Mesopotamia that mention Tunip (TOO-nip), to better understand its presumed location, additional confirmation came from a 15th century BC message sent by the pharaoh's military chief, referring to a city called Eastern Heliopolis. It appears that Greeks used the same name for Baalbek (BAL-bek) that the pharaohs used -- "city of the sun" -- only in Greek, instead of Egyptian. From the time of Tuthmosis III (15th century BC) until Ramses II (13th century BC), Egyptians used to call Baalbek (BAL-bek) Tunip (TOO-nip), city of the sun, and the Greeks hellenized the name after conquering the East, making Tunip (TOO-nip) into Heliopolis. The city kept that name until the Arab conquest, when Baalbek (BAL-bek) recovered its original Canaanite name.
Rancher saves ancient sites in Utah
In the United States, a rancher kept people off his land and hid an archaeological secret for more than 50 years. On the Utah ranch of Waldo Wilcox lie the remains of Native American settlements so well preserved that beads, potsherds and arrowheads are just lying in the open. Around the year 1000, people now known as the Fremont Indians built villages in the unforgiving terrain of central Utah's Range Creek, likely chosen as a place easy to defend against potential invaders. Nearly a thousand years later, rancher Wilcox showed his own passion for defense. He and his family spent nearly 50 years keeping artifact hunters and vandals away from the remains of the Fremont pit houses, granaries and pottery. For the past two years, archaeologists from the Utah Museum of Natural History, have worked on the Fremont finds. To date, about 200 separate sites along a 12-mile stretch have been identified; hundreds more await discovery. While the Southwest has many historical American Indian sites, few remain as pristine as those at Range Creek. Of the 200 documented sites on the ranch, at least 150 are untouched.
Arrow find shows where Bannockburn was fought
In Scotland, a rare 700-year-old armor-piercing arrowhead may help experts pinpoint the location of the first day of the battle of Bannockburn on June 24, 1314, where Robert the Bruce defeated the forces of Edward II. Historians have debated the battle's exact location for centuries. This find will shed light on the exact nature of Scottish and English troop positions on the battlefield, located two miles from Stirling Castle.
The fourteenth-century iron arrowhead, about one-and-one-half inches long, was discovered in topsoil during trench work near the Bannockburn visitor centre in the area of Borestone. The extremely important artifact is the first find of a weapon from the battle site. The engagements of the first day of the clash took place somewhere between an area called the Borestone and the crossing of the Bannockburn, further to the south. It was here Bruce killed Henry de Bohun before repulsing a frontal attack of the vanguard of Edward II's army. The English army had large numbers of longbowmen, many from Wales, and although these feared archers are mentioned in accounts of the second day of the battle, when they were driven from the field by the Scottish cavalry, no mention is made of them on the first day. It is unclear whether the find represents an English arrow fired at Scottish positions or a Scottish arrow that was never fired.
Technology helps map Chinese tomb without digging
Our final story is from China, where archaeologists at one of China's most significant archaeological sites are learning more by digging less. Scientists unearthing relics under the Mausoleum of the First Emperor of the Qin (chin) Dynasty (221-207 BC) are using advanced technology to protect buried relics. The use of remote sensing technology was used to investigate and uncover the relics. The ruins around the tomb cover about 25 square miles. There are more than 600 remains and some 50,000 relics have been unearthed. Experts say the tomb is in front of the mountain and covered with a large amount of sand and stones from flood deposits over the last 2,000 years. Upon this are villages, factories and schools. More than 6,000 people live in the tomb area. Thus, it is very difficult to survey the area with traditional methods. The site, however, cannot be properly protected without a clear understanding of what is buried in the area. Archaeologists estimated that it would take some 200 years, using traditional methods, to survey the entire area. So, in 2002, the Ministry of Science and Technology developed a plan to use remote sensing technology. In 2003, the remote sensing survey successfully showed the exact location, size and depth of the underground palace of the mausoleum. Researchers learned a great deal about the palace's building materials, inner structures, drainage system and walls around it. The result was a more thorough understanding of what was underground without actual digging. With further development, remote sensing survey technology will play a more important role in research and investigation on the Qin (chin) tomb area. Combined with traditional measures, which provide exact and detailed information, Chinese archaeologists will get a complete picture of the tomb in the near future. The mausoleum is located some 15 miles east of Xi'an (SHE-AN), locations of the famed Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses Museum. It is one of the most important national protection units and one of the most popular tourism destinations in China.
That wraps up the news for this week! For more stories and daily news updates, visit Archaeologica on the World Wide Web at www.archaeologica.org, where all the news is history!
I’m Laura Pettigrew and I’ll see you next week!