Archaeological News

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An attempt to smuggle seven Ottoman coins was foiled Wednesday at Cairo International Airport.

Youssef Khalifa, head of the ancient Egyptian antiquities section of the Ministry of Antiquities, related that during a routine inspection of luggage at the airport, customs personnel discovered seven antique coins in the luggage of an Egyptian citizen who was travelling to the United Arab Emirates.

The coins were of the same size and eroded. They bear the year when they were made, and decorative elements. Khalifa continued that customs officers asked the Ministry of Antiquities to assign an archaeological committee to check the authenticity of the coins.

The committee, he said, verified the authenticity of the coins, saying they date back to the Ottoman period. The coins are now in the Egyptian Museum for restoration and study. (source)

Canada has determined the historic Franklin Expedition shipwreck discovered in the Arctic last month is in fact the HMS Erebus, the vessel on which Sir John Franklin sailed.

It’s another puzzle solved in the enthralling story of the famous British expedition that tried to traverse the Northwest Passage but ended in misery with all 129 crew members perishing.

The Erebus was the vessel that Franklin occupied as the commander of the expedition and was the base for the captain’s quarters.

Stephen Harper, whose government had backed annual searches for the lost Franklin expedition as a demonstration of Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic, announced the news of the ship’s identification Wednesday in the House of Commons. Read more.

From the mouth of a cave high in the Andes, Kurt Rademaker surveys the plateau below. At an altitude of 4,500 metres, there are no trees in sight, just beige soil dotted with tufts of dry grass, green cushion plants and a few clusters of vicuñas and other camel relatives grazing near a stream.

The landscape looks bleak, but Rademaker views it through the eyes of the people who built a fire in the rock shelter, named Cuncaicha, about 12,400 years ago. These hunter-gatherers were some of the earliest known residents of South America and they chose to live at this extreme altitude — higher than any Ice Age encampment found thus far in the New World. Read more.

Saint Louis University students participating in the 2014 Archaeological Field School at the Fingerhut Tract of Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, a World Heritage UNESCO site, made a significant contribution to the understanding of American Indian prehistory with the discovery of three additional partial house basins and the entire basin of a burned sweat lodge.

Generally, a sweat lodge is a domed hut made of natural materials. They were — and continue to be — used by American Indians as steam baths for physical cleansing as well as for ritual purification.

The sweat lodge discovered this summer is three feet in diameter and superimposes the corner of a large rectangular structure. Read more.


The national leadership of the American Institute for Archaeology (AIA) has voiced its “deepest concern” over a planned sale on 2 October of ancient Egyptian “treasure” by a St Louis chapter of the organisation. The AIA says it was not consulted before the collection, estimated to bring in £80,000-£120,000, was consigned to auction at Bonhams, London.

“We are strongly opposed to the proposed sale”, says Ann Benbow, the executive director of the AIA, in an email to The Art Newspaper. “If [it] goes forward, it will tarnish the long-standing reputation of the AIA, which has a strong stance against the sale of antiquities… Archaeological artifacts should be cared for and made available for educational purposes, not put up for auction.” Benbow adds that the AIA has “formally asked the St Louis Society not to go forward with the sale and are awaiting their response”. Read more.

Scientists from the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University are searching for traces of human presence from the Stone Age to the Roman period near Tafilah in southern Jordan.

"We have just started the first season of work, which will continue until the beginning of October - explained Dr. Piotr Kolodziejczyk, who leads the project together with Dr. Wojciech Machowski. - This year’s surface surveys, during which we search for fragments of pottery and ancient tools on the surface, are carried out in very difficult, mountainous conditions" - he added.

Some parts of the area selected jointly by the Poles and the Jordanian Department of Antiquities are almost inaccessible or will require climbing, and even the use of drones in the process of documentation. Read more.

Archaeologists have found a burial vault beneath a floor they were preparing for restoration in a church in east Cork.

The vault — believed to date from the 1700s — was discovered in the 900-year-old St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Youghal.

During excavations, the archaeologists also found evidence of centuries-old heating systems.

The vault, 30cm beneath the surface, was unearthed by Daniel Noonan, who runs an archaeological consultancy agency, working with John Kelly of David Kelly Partnership.

They were investigating the floor’s subsidence in a €60,000 restoration project funded by the Heritage Council of Ireland. The stone vault was crisscrossed by protective pine beams between it and the floor. Read more.

ARIEL, West Bank (JTA) — The small cardboard box in Elyashiv Drori’s palm looks like it’s full of black pebbles.

Closing the box quickly, he explains that it cannot be open for long. The pebble-like pieces, which were uncovered in an archaeological dig near Jerusalem’s Old City, are in fact remains of a kilo of grapes stored nearly 3,000 years ago. They were preserved under layers of earth from the era when David and Solomon ruled over the Land of Israel.

Next to his laboratory at Ariel University, Drori — an oenophile who has judged international wine competitions — already has barrels of wine made from grapes that have grown in Israel for two millennia. Finding a living sample of the 3,000-year-old grapes will be the next step in his years-long quest to produce wine identical to that consumed in ancient Israel. Read more.