Audio News for February 28th to March 6th.

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I'm Laura Kelley and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from February 28th to March 6th, 2005.

Peruvian desert reveals more giant lines
Original Headline: Ancient Earth Drawings Found in Peru

Our first story is from Peru, where archaeologists have discovered a new group of giant figures carved into the hills of the southern coastal desert. They are believed to predate the country's famed Nazca lines. There are 50 figures, covering an area of approximately 90 square miles. They lie near the city of Palpa, 220 miles southeast of Lima. According to the director of the Andean Institute of Archaeological Studies, the drawings are believed to have been created by members of the Paracas (pah-RAH-cas) culture sometime between 600 and 100 B.C. They include human figures as well as animals such as birds, monkeys, and felines. One clearly drawn figure appears to represent a deity commonly depicted on textiles and ceramics from the period. The recently discovered designs predate the country's famous Nazca lines, which were added to the United Nation's Cultural Heritage list in 1994 and are one of Peru's top tourist attractions. The Nazca lines cover a 35-mile stretch of desert some 250 miles south of Lima and were made between 50 B.C. and 600 A.D. The thousands of lines were made by clearing away darker rocks on the desert surface to expose lighter soil underneath.

Egyptian tomb exploration discovers more mummies
Original Headline: 2,500 years old, and as fresh as the day she was buried

In Egypt, a team of Australian archaeologists has found an extraordinarily well-preserved mummy, hidden in a sprawling tomb behind a pair of ancient statues. The mummy was found unexpectedly in the tomb in Saqqara, the long-time burial site for Memphis, the early capital of ancient Egypt. The mummy is of a woman, whose dark eyebrows and terracotta face are vividly lifelike, covered in turquoise beads and swaddled in black linen. The mummy is nestled in a wooden sarcophagus believed to be 2,500 years old. The archaeological team was exploring a tomb dating back 4,200 years as part of a project that has gone on for 10 years so far. They pushed aside a pair of ancient statues and found a door, which led to a tomb containing three cedar coffins, each containing a mummy. Inside one was the magnificently preserved, bead-adorned woman. Wooden boxes next to the coffins contained vital organs. Excavations at Saqqara have been going on for the past two centuries, with new tombs found every few years. The door of the beaded woman's tomb was hidden behind statues of a man believed to have been Meri, the tutor of King Pepi II who was the last ruler in Egypt's 6th Dynasty, and the tutor's wife. After Pepi II's rule, the site was covered by 50 feet of sand, until it was used again as a cemetery 2,600 years later. The identity of the mummies has not yet been ascertained, and they are to undergo ultrasound and X-ray testing, which may reveal their age, signs of disease and the possible cause of death. But there is speculation that the mummies may have been teachers, like the famous royal teachers whose statues were found guarding their resting place.

Early site in Nepal may be palace

Original Headline: Remains of 1,000-year-old building found in Nepal

In Nepal, a large archaeological site believed to be over 1,000 years old has been discovered in southeastern region. The team uncovered a huge structure, with a wall 1020 feet long, made up of bricks on a foundation of stone. The ruin is in the Saptari district, some 120 miles southeast of Kathmandu.  According to the national Archaeology Department, the structure was a palace or possibly a monastery, and its age could be over a thousand years. The swans and geometric shapes seen in the walls show similarities to the art of that time.  The ruined structure includes windows, entrances and rooms as well as numerous artifacts, including the remains of crockery and engraved bricks.  The site could have been part of a palace built by Bengali Kings on their way to Makawanpur during their conquests.

Lucy's ancestor found in Ethiopia

Original Headline: Ethiopia Archaeologists Make Important Fossil Find

Our final story is from Ethiopia, where archaeologists have discovered 12 fossils that appear to be older than the famous fossil "Lucy," the team leader said on Saturday. The very early hominid fossil specimens are estimated to be between 3.8 and 4 million years old, and will be important in terms of understanding the early phases of human evolution before Lucy.  Lucy is Ethiopia's world-acclaimed archaeological find. The 1974 discovery of the almost complete hominid skeleton, estimated to be at least 3.2 million years old, was a landmark in the search for the origins of humanity. The new find was made approximately 37 miles north of the site where Lucy was discovered in the eastern region of Afar (AH far).  The excavated specimens included parts of one individual's skeleton, complete with ribs, vertebrae and pelvis.  Animal remains were also uncovered.  Twenty years after Lucy was unearthed, archaeologists dug up the remains of a chimpanzee-sized ape, estimated at 4.4 million years old, in the same Afar region.
That wraps up the news for this week!
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I?m Laura Kelley and I'll see you next week!