Archaeological News

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Posts tagged "ancient"

A newly identified googly-eyed artifact may have been used by the ancient Egyptians to magically protect children and pregnant mothers from evil forces.

Made of faience, a delicate material that contains silica, the pale-green talisman of sorts dates to sometime in the first millennium B.C. It shows the dwarf god Bes with his tongue sticking out, eyes googly, wearing a crown of feathers. A hole at the top of the face was likely used to suspend it like a bell, while a second hole, used to hold the bell clapper, was apparently drilled into it in antiquity.

Carolyn Graves-Brown, a curator at the Egypt Centre, discovered the artifact in the collection of Woking College, the equivalent of a high school for juniors and seniors. The college has more than 50 little-studied Egyptian artifacts, which were recently lent to the Egypt Centre at Swansea University where they are being studied and documented. Read more.

Seven-million-year-old trail of fossilised footprints in the Arabian desert was left by a herd of ancient elephants, according to scientists.

Researchers say the “trackways” reveal that animals that left them had a rich and complex social structure.

Just like modern elephant society, this consisted of family herds and of solitary male animals.

The study is published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Lead researcher Dr Faysal Bibi, a palaeontologist based at the University of Poitiers in France and the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, Germany, described the footprints as “fossilised behaviour”.

Dr Bibi explained to BBC Nature that there were two different sets of tracks across the site.

"We have tracks from a herd, from which we calculated the size profile [of each animal]," he said.

"And, just by luck, we also have the trackway of a solitary individual travelling almost perpendicular to the herd."

Dr Bibi described the site as “absolutely unique”. Read more.

A former University of Guam archaeologist has uncovered 3,500-year-old pottery and artifacts in Tinian, a find that could add to theories about how people first came to Micronesia.

Mike Carson, a lecturer at Australian National University, and his wife, Hsiao-Chun Hung, discovered the artifacts at the Taga historical site in early December, according to the Richard F. Taitano Micronesia Area Research Center Archaeological Laboratory at UOG.

The House of Taga, most notable for a set of large, latte stone pillars, has been the site of previous excavations in the mid-20th century. Carson took the digging deeper and discovered a treasure trove of Marianas redware pottery.

Carson couldn’t be reached for this article, but John Peterson, a UOG archaeologist, confirmed the find. Marianas redware is thin-walled pottery with a characteristic red hue and distinct geometric patterns, Peterson, said. Read more.

Comparatively few people are privileged to get within a foot or two of the physical remains (actual or cast) of ancient or historic human ancestors……at least, not without the necessary scientific credentials and sanctions reserved exclusively for the scientists who are responsible for examining and studying them. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, however, has made it possible for the interested public to approach and position their eyes within inches of some of the most significant skeletal, fossil, and mummified finds of the past two centuries.  

Here is a sampling of a tour specially tailored and undertaken by the writer in January, 2012: 

Stop No. 1: The Hall of Human Origins

It is a small, inconsequential case tucked almost secretively against a back wall. But it contains a rare cast of a cranium of an early human that may, according to scientists, lay at the root of the genus that eventually led to modern humans. Read more.

Tucked away behind metal construction fences lie some of the visible remains of an ancient temple.  Most of the ancient temple foundations are now hidden, overlaid by urban sprawl, and what fraction can still be seen is eclipsed and sandwiched in by buildings.  The unsuspecting pedestrian may never even notice it. It is shrouded in part by overhanging vegetation. It lies almost forgotten now within its modern context as the steady march of change and development has passed it by.

The Late Archaic period temple, 200 years older than the Parthenon, was originally built to honor the Greek godess of Aphrodite (Venus), the godess of love, in the 6th century B.C.  It was later moved during Roman times to another location, which was considered a sacred area where there was a concentration of temples and shrines. Read more.

BOERNE — Part of the construction of a water treatment plant has come to a halt in Boerne due to an archaeological find.

Construction to Boerne’s new sewer plant had to be halted for several weeks in order for archaeologist to clear the site. Now studies need to be finished before work may resume.

Director of Public Works Michael Mann said workers noticed some artifacts starting to show up which during excavation. When they got to a significant deposit, builders were asked to stop digging.

Mann said they found charred rocks and what appear to be spearheads or arrowheads.

"Well, I’m a laymen, and to me it looks like rocks," Mann said. "But the archaeologists are very excited.”

Researchers told the city they think the charred rocks come from an ancient oven. Read more.

BEIJING (UPI) — Chinese archaeologists say they’ve found evidence of agricultural activity in an ancient vanished city that was a pivotal stop along the famous Silk Road.

Scientists from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics said remote sensing procedures, field investigations and sample testing in the area showed there were once large tracts of farmland in Loulan, an important trading city that mysteriously disappeared in the third century A.D., China’s official news agency Xinhua reported Sunday.

Farmland featuring regular and straight plots stretching for 200 to 1,000 yards, as well as irrigation ditches running throughout, have been found, Qin Xiaoguang, a member of the research team, said.

Grain particles in the area’s ground surface are very likely the remains of crop plants, Qin said.

Evidence of an ancient canal measuring 10 to 20 yards wide and 5 feet deep suggest the city, which is thought to have perished in drought, was once rich in water resources, the researchers said. (source)

SOFIA (AFP) - Archaeologists in the central Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora have unearthed an exquisite floor mosaic dating back to Roman times, local media reported on Tuesday.

The seven-by-three metre mosaic shows two women dancing next to a man with a sceptre and a laurel wreath, Darik radio cited archaeologist Dimitar Yankov as saying.

The figures are very realistic, with the mosaic’s tiny tiles varying in all shades of colours to depict their clothing, movements, facial expressions, hair and jewellery. Yankov dated the find to the late 2nd, early 3rd century AD, according to the Stara Zagora Dnes website.

Archaeologists discovered the mosaic during excavations in the pit of a newly constructed block of flats just outside what used to be the northern gate of the ancient Roman settlement of Augusta Trayana in Stara Zagora. (source)