Archaeological News

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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.

The National Board of Antiquities has announced plans to carry out further, deeper excavations at the site where the grave of a thousand-year-old swordsman was discovered last year.

Earlier this month archaeologists from York University in the UK carried out geophysical surveys of the field, accompanied by a television film crew.

The preliminary results of the tests suggest widespread evidence of human activity remains deep beneath the surface of the field. Some signs point to the area housing an ancient burial ground or even a settlement.

The York team carried out a series of geophysical tests using equipment including a pulse-induction metal detector and a magnetometer. Read more.

Archaeologists have exposed the scale of an 18th century olive oil merchant family’s drive to introduce a range of culinary tastes to Britain.

A 17-day excavation in the grounds of 390-year-old Kiplin Hall, between Northallerton and Richmond, revealed previously unknown layers of history, including how the road running by the 4,500-acre estate to the towns was changed twice to develop a pioneering horticultural enterprise.

Archaeologist Jim Brightman said the contents of trenches at five places across the estate illustrated how generations of the non-aristocratic Crowe family, which bought the property in 1722, had displayed nouveau riche tendencies as they worked to establish their country gentry credentials. Read more.

Rome, September 30 - Events marking the bimillennium of the death of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, continued on Tuesday with the reopening of the ancient Vicus Iugarius, or street of the Yoke-makers, in the Roman forum after restoration lasting four years.

Visitors can now follow the street running along the shoulder of the Capitoline hill to the Basilica Julia that once represented part of the original trade route to the river Tiber.

The reopening of the Vicus Iugarius was one of a series of initiatives by Rome’s cultural and archaeological authorities to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of the death of Augustus, including the reopening of part of the ancient Roman Baths of Diocletian following a 6.5-million-euro restoration project lasting six years. (source)

A tablet found on a rock during excavations in Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite civilization in the central Anatolian province of Çorum, will be deciphered with a 3D scanning system.

Assistant Professor Andreas Schachner, the head of the excavations, said the team had started working to decipher the 3,500-year-old tablet. He said that what was written on the tablet had been an object of interest to the science world, and added the writing was nearly wiped off after being exposed to bad weather conditions for millennia.

“The Hittites used two different writing systems,” Schachner explained. “The first is the cuneiform script on kiln tablets and the other is hieroglyphs, which is mostly seen on rocks.” Read more.