Audio News for December 6th to December 12th

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Laura Kelley and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from December 6th to December 12th.

Roman war monument found in Greek field

Original Headline: Greek Farmer Finds 2,000-Year-Old Monument


Our first story is from central Greece, where a farmer plowing his field hit on an ancient Roman trophy dating from 86 BC. Archaeologists have unearthed the lower part of the stone monument, found some 60 miles northwest of Athens near the village of Pyrgos (PEER-goss). This monument was mentioned by the Greek historian Plutarch, but the precise location of the long-sought monument, which was believed to stand 23 feet tall originally, was a mystery until last month's find. An inscription proclaims that it was erected there by the Roman general Sulla after his victory over Mithridates, King of Pontus - a kingdom on the Black Sea in Asia Minor. The column was carved to look like a tree trunk bearing the armor of fallen soldiers from the defeated army, a common style at the time. Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who lived from 138-78 BC, later became infamous for his unprecedented move of marching on Rome with his legions during the early civil wars. Mithridates (132 - 63 BC), his enemy at this time, had challenged the Romans in their eastern holdings.

Northwest Pacific village dates to fur trading days

Original Headline: Buried treasures: Archaeologists unearth 1800s-era artifacts from site located along the Columbia


In the United States, archaeologists are working on a Columbia River site believed it to be an early Chinook Indian village. According to archaeologist Bob Cromwell, the site, across the river from Astoria, Oregon, dates to between 1800 and 1830 and could yield new information about the tribe and its relationship with fur traders of European descent. "We don't have very many archaeological sites or artifacts representing this early period of the fur trade," Cromwell said. "It tells us about how active the Chinook were in trading in this early period." To date, researchers have found glass beads, pieces from alcohol bottles consistent with the period, musket balls, fish bones and broken fragments of Chinese porcelain. Cromwell believes white men traded the items to the Chinook for fur and salmon. In addition, Cromwell said the archaeologists have discovered rocks believed to come from Chinook fire pits. The Chinook were known to dig pits, throw rocks into them and then light fires. As the rocks became hot, they cooked the food. The evidence shows that hundreds of meals were cooked at the site. A team of 12 is conducting the excavation. Many of them have worked in the field for 30 years and have never seen artifacts dating from this era of the fur trade. The artifacts will be cleaned and analyzed in an on-site laboratory, cataloged and then taken to Fort Vancouver. The Chinook site, measuring about 500 feet by 60 feet, is near Lewis and Clark's Station Camp. No artifacts from the Lewis and Clark expedition have been found. The dig is a joint effort between the National Parks Service, the Washington Department of Transportation and the state historical society.


Egyptian pharaoh's sun boats need rescue from the rays
Original Headline: SCA launches operation to rescue sun boats


In Egypt, the Supreme Council of Antiquities has announced that it will be carrying out an emergency project to rescue the ancient sun boats of Pharaoh Khufu. The boats have been badly affected by the ultra-violet rays of the sun, which have damaged the organic components of the wooden hulls. Antiquities head Zahi Hawas (ZAH-hee ha-WASS) said the boat displayed in the Solar Boat Museum is the only one of its kind in the world. The museum's glass windows allow the sun to penetrate directly into the body of the boat, unfortunately, exposing its ancient material to damage. The SCA has conducted a scientific study proposing a set of measures to preserve the boats. They were discovered in 1954 in the rectangular boat pits on the south side of the Great Pyramid, covered by huge limestone slabs. These Royal Boats would have transported Pharaoh Khufu's body to his Great Pyramid, and then been dismantled for placement in the pits. It was common practice to bury all items connected with the Royal Funeral close to the final resting-place of the King. The boat presently on display was made of 1,224 separate parts, and measures 142 feet long. The boat pits could have been symbolic transport mechanisms for the King's ascent to the heavens, westwards with the setting sun and eastwards with the rising sun.

Japanese find is evidence of earliest bells
Original Headline: Oldest bell mold from Yayoi period excavated in Aichi


Our final story is from Japan, where a fragment of a mold believed to have been used in the making of an ancient type of Japanese bronze bells has been excavated at the Asahi ruins in Aichi Prefecture. The 2,000-year-old discovery is expected to provide clues about when the production of bronze bell-shaped objects began in Japan. This is the first time archeologists have unearthed part of a mold with clear signs that was used for Ryokanchu style bells. The bells themselves have been found in past excavations. Analysis of other material excavated with the piece showed it was made around the third to second century BC, during what is known as the Yayoi period. The mold piece is about 4 centimeters long, 1.5 cm wide and 3 cm thick, weighs about 20 grams and is the shape of the upper part of the bell. The bell would have been 20-25 cm long. Experts found it unusual that the fragment was found in the Tokai region of central Japan because the Kinki region to the south has been considered the center of bronze culture that characterizes the Yayoi period. Yozo Namba, head of the Department of Archeology at the Kyoto National Museum, said further analysis of the mold piece could shed light on whether the device was made by craftsmen who moved from Kinki to Tokai or whether it was made by local people in the central Japan region.

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