Archaeological News

            The latest news in archaeology.             

The Adamkayalar (man-rocks), located on the sheer slopes of the Şeytan Deresi Valley in the southern province of Mersin, often take visitors by surprise with their large-scale human reliefs, which are estimated to have been made between the first century B.C. and the second century A.D.

The rocks are made up of 11 males, four females, two children, an ibex and Roman eagle reliefs in nine niches. Ümit Aydınoğlu, an associate professor in the Archaeology Department of Mersin University, said the Adam Kayalar are completely unique in Anatolia.

As the Adam Kayalar region was once considered a sacred area, the reliefs of notables or commanders’ families and children were made on the rocks to show appreciation. Read more.

Who says only modern-day pro wrestling is fake?

Researchers have deciphered a Greek document that shows an ancient wrestling match was fixed. The document, which has a date on it that corresponds to the year A.D. 267, is a contract between two teenagers who had reached the final bout of a prestigious series of games in Egypt.

This is the first time that a written contract between two athletes to fix a match has been found from the ancient world.

In the contract, the father of a wrestler named Nicantinous agrees to pay a bribe to the guarantors (likely the trainers) of another wrestler named Demetrius. Both wrestlers were set to compete in the final wrestling match of the 138th Great Antinoeia, an important series of regional games held along with a religious festival in Antinopolis, in Egypt. They were in the boys’ division, which was generally reserved for teenagers. Read more.

Russian archaeologists have resumed excavations in a remote site near the Arctic Circle in the attempt to understand a perplexing find of medieval mummies clad in copper masks.

Roughly 1,000 years old, the mummies were found during a series of excavations that started in 1997 in a Siberian necropolis near the village of Zeleniy Yar, at the base of a peninsula local people called “the end of the Earth.”

The archaeologists found 34 shallow graves with seven male adults, three male infants, and one female child wearing a copper mask. Buried with a hoard of artifacts, most of the bodies had shattered or missing skulls, and smashed skeletons. Read more.

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People of numerous pre-Columbian civilizations in northern Chile, including the Incas and the Chinchorro culture, suffered from chronic arsenic poisoning due to their consumption of contaminated water, new research suggests.

Previous analyses showed high concentrations of arsenic in the hair samples of mummies from both highland and coastal cultures in the region. However, researchers weren’t able to determine whether the people had ingested arsenic or if the toxic element in the soil had diffused into the mummies’ hair after they were buried.

In the new study, scientists used a range of high-tech methods to analyze hair samples from a 1,000- to 1,500-year-old mummy from the Tarapacá Valley in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Read more.

Located in south central Bulgaria, the city of Plovdiv, known to many as the “Eternal City of Bulgaria”, is among the oldest cities in Europe, with evidence of human settlement going back 6,000 years. Established first as the Thracian settlement of Eumolpia, today its ancient remains near the city center are most often identified with the name Philippopolis by archaeologists. That was the name given to the city after it was Hellenized within the Macedonian Empire under Philip II during the 4th century, B.C.E.

But its most visible ancient remains took shape when the city was absorbed into the orbit of ancient Rome during the 1st century B.C.E. - 1st century C.E., the time period of Augustus. It was during this time when the great monumental structures, such as the Theater, Stadium, Treasury, Thermae, Odeon, and other associated structures of its central Forum, were built. Read more.

One of the oldest surviving complete Roman mosaics dating from 1,700 years ago, a spectacular discovery made in Lod in Israel, will go on show at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, UK. The exhibition Predators and Prey: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel is presented in association with the Israel Antiquities Authority and in collaboration with the British Museum, from 5 June – 2 November 2014.

Measuring eight metres long and four metres wide, and in exceptional condition, the Lod mosaic depicts a paradise of birds, animals, shells and fishes, including one of the earliest images of a rhinoceros and a giraffe, richly decorated with geometric patterns and set in lush landscapes. Read more.

Florence, April 14 - Archaeologists digging up the remains of an ancient Roman theatre discovered under the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence have found a “vomitorium” or corridor used by as many as 15,000 theatre goers in the first and second centuries A.D., city officials say.

The latest find at the site in the centre of the Tuscan capital includes the original painted stone pavements along which spectators used to walk from the outer circle of the theatre to the orchestra pit, which already had been excavated during previous digs. Also discovered were well shafts going as deep as more than 10 metres below the current surface of Florence, providing water and waste disposal for the theatre, as well as remains of the foundations of the walls used to build the Salone dei Cinquecento. Read more.

Lamia al-Gailani pulls a folder of crumbling letters from a battered metal cabinet – part of what she considers the secret treasures of the Iraq Museum.

The cabinets hold archives from the beginnings of the venerable institution, established after World War I by Gertrude Bell, the famed British administrator, writer, and explorer. Hundreds of thousands of documents and photographs, neglected until now, hold the untold story of an emerging nation whose borders “Miss Bell” helped to draw.

“Wonderful isn’t it?” says Ms. Gailani, an archaeologist. She pulls out photographs of the Iraq pavilion at the 1938 Paris Expo and a yellowing, typewritten letter from 1921 confirming the appointment of Bell as honorary museum director. “People probably thought these archives don’t exist. These are treasures that no one knows about.” Read more.