Archaeological News

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One of the most important archaeological sites in the North East is up for sale.

Binchester Roman town near Bishop Auckland is being sold by the Church Commissioners. Auckland Castle Trust say they fear it may fall into the hands of developers and have put in a £2m bid to buy the site.

But the Church Commissioners say fears of development on the site are “a scare story” and it is protected not just by the landowner but by the County Council, English Heritage and the Secretary of State.

Binchester, just outside Bishop Auckland, has some of Britain’s best-preserved Roman remains, including a bath house with seven-foot walls and painted plaster. Read more.

PARIS (AFP).- France returned the skull of a New Caledonian rebel chief on Thursday, 135 years after it was cut off in a battle between the people of the South Pacific island and their French colonisers.

In a solemn ceremony in Paris, France’s Overseas Territories Minister George Pau-Langevin handed back the skull of the great Kanak rebel chief Atai to one of his descendants.

"I cannot tell you how emotional I am. I have waited for this moment for so many years. I had started to give up hope," said Berge Kawa, a direct descendant of the chief.

The story dates back to 1878, a quarter of a century after colonial power France had taken possession of the archipelago around 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) to the east of Australia. Read more.

A team led by University of Kansas Distinguished Professor Rolfe Mandel in July excavated a northeast Kansas site in Pottawatomie County seeking to find artifacts tied to the Clovis and Pre-Clovis peoples, the founding populations of the Americas.

The team is awaiting the results of dating of sediment samples tied to recovered artifacts, and if the sediments are confirmed to be more than 13,500 years old it would open the door to a discovery of the earliest evidence of people inhabiting this part of the state and the Central Great Plains.

"If we want to know about the history of the arrival of people in the Great Plains, this is the sort of work that’s going to unravel that," said Mandel, who in addition to his appointment with the Department of Anthropology is also a senior scientist with the Kansas Geological Survey. Read more.

Grant Aylesworth recognizes that many people think archaeology involves khaki-clad researchers digging up museum-bound artifacts in exotic locales.

That happens, but in Canada a growing number of professional archaeologists such as Mr. Aylesworth are actually consulting for natural resource companies on their Canadian projects. Recent Supreme Court of Canada rulings underscore the need for energy and other resource companies to ensure their projects will not interfere with aboriginal title or treaty rights. Studying a project site for its archaeological or cultural significance is now part of the regular permitting process. Read more.

Thailand will help Burma improve the landscapes of the Pyu ancient cities, the first sites in the country to receive Unesco World Heritage status earlier this year.

A representative of Thailand’s Ministry of Culture met with Burma’s deputy minister of culture in Naypyidaw on Aug. 22, agreeing to work together to manage and conserve the three ancient cities of Sri Ksetra, Halin and Beikthano in central Burma.

“We have seen that Thailand has successfully conserved its ancient city, Ayothaya,” said a spokesman from Burma’s Archeology Department, under the Ministry of Culture. “So we asked them to cooperate with us, and to help draw landscape designs for our Pyu ancient cities.” Read more.

PHILADELPHIA — The Penn Museum will move the 6,500-year-old human skeleton — found in a museum storage room — to a public space beginning on Aug. 30 for guests to view.

"Our goal as a museum and research institution is to share what we love with the public — the thrill of discovery, or in this case, the thrill of re-discovery," said Julian Siggers, the Penn Museum Williams Director in a press release. "Exploring and investigating our shared human past, whether it be in the field, in the lab, in the archives, or in storage, is what makes the field of archaeology and anthropology so exciting for us. We hope our visitors can join us as we make these fascinating connections." Read more.

On August 26, 40 paddlers and a few brave swimmers made their way to Grace Islet in Ganges Harbour, led by a 30 ft cedar dugout canoe from Cowichan Tribes. Holding hands and singing, they came to support demands by chiefs from seven local First Nations to stop construction of a luxury home on this sacred burial ground.

Led by Tseycum Chief Vern Jacks and together with members from the Cowichan, Musqueam and Kwakiutl First Nations, protectors of all ages from Salt Spring Island bore witness to the desecration of the ancient burial cairns, now encased in concrete in complete violation of the site alteration permit issued by the Archaeology Branch. Read more.

Three scientists yesterday lost their bid to prevent burial of two 9000-year-old human skeletons claimed by the Kumeyaay people of southern California. The 9th circuit federal court in San Francisco ruled against university professors who filed suit in 2012 to halt the repatriation in order to analyze the ancient bones. But the professors aren’t giving up yet and may appeal.

The skeletons, which the researchers say are scientifically valuable because of their antiquity, were discovered in 1976 near the swimming pool of the chancellor’s residence at the University of California, San Diego. After a protracted legal battle, the university agreed in 2012 to return the skeletons to the nearby Kumeyaay tribe, which claimed them. Read more.