Islamist insurgents retreating from Timbuktu set fire to a library containing thousands of priceless historic manuscripts, according to the Saharan town’s mayor, in an incident he described as a “devastating blow” to world heritage.
Hallé Ousmani Cissé told the Guardian that al-Qaida-allied fighters on Saturday torched two buildings that held the manuscripts, some of which dated back to the 13th century. They also burned down the town hall, the governor’s office and an MP’s residence, and shot dead a man who was celebrating the arrival of the French military.
French troops and the Malian army reached the gates of Timbuktu on Saturday and secured the town’s airport. But they appear to have got there too late to rescue the leather-bound manuscripts that were a unique record of sub-Saharan Africa’s rich medieval history. The rebels attacked the airport on Sunday, the mayor said. Read more.
ARCHAEOLOGISTS have made a landmark discovery that could help answer the question that has puzzled Irish historians for over 200 years.
Could an invasion of Ireland by Napoleon’s French forces have succeeded and triggered Irish independence more than century earlier than it was actually won?
A team of experts — led by Rubicon Archaeology — has discovered a near pristine gun emplacement on Bere Island in west Cork.
They have also revealed tantalising hints that Britain’s coastal defensive network was much more formidable than first thought — and would have left the French facing their own 19th Century version of D-Day and Germany’s Atlantic Wall.
Until now, it had been presumed that only bad weather, poor planning and luck had kept crack French troops away from the Irish coast. Read more.
A French couple have found a hoard of gold coins worth at least 100,000 euros (£89,000; $140,000) in the cellar of their home in the town of Millau.
They were working on their drains when they dug up the 34 coins in a little clay pot, French media said.
The coins date from 1595 to the French Revolution, which began in 1789, said a local coin expert who evaluated them.
The most valuable is a double louis from 1640, during the reign of Louis XIII, worth 6,500 euros. Read more.
PARIS (AFP) – French Egyptologist Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, known for her books on art and history and for saving the Nubian temples from flooding caused by the Aswan Dam, has died at the age of 97, her editor Telemaque said Friday.
In a career spanning more than half-a-century, Desroches-Noblecourt also helped preserve the mummy of King Ramses II, which was threatened by fungus, and became the first French woman to lead an archaeological dig in 1938.
Born on November 17, 1913 in Paris, she was captivated by Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamon, and joined the Egyptian Antiquities department at the Louvre.
During World War II she joined the Resistance, and hid the Louvre’s Egyptian treasures in free areas of France.
Desroches-Noblecourt’s greatest accomplishment came in 1954 when the government of Gamal Abdel Nasser decided to build a new dam with a capacity of 157 billion cubic metres, which would extend into Sudan.
The monuments of ancient Nubia would have been flooded if the new Aswan Dam project was implemented in its original form. Read more.
New study unveils archaeobotanical evidence of beer brewing in Iron Age France
Evidence of beer making in Mediterranean France, as far back as the 5th century BC, has been unearthed by Laurent Bouby from the CNRS - Centre de Bio-Archeologie et d’Ecology in Montepellier, France, and colleagues. Their analyses at the Roquepertuse excavation site in Provence reveal the presence of poorly preserved barley grains suggesting germination, as well as equipment and other remains of deliberate malting in the home. Taken together, these findings suggest that, as well as regular wine making, the French had an early passion for beer brewing. The work has just been published online in Springer’s journal Human Ecology.
To date, researchers had only found evidence of wine production in the region. Bouby and team analyzed three samples of sediment from excavations carried out in the 1990s. One sample was taken from the floor of a dwelling, close to a hearth and oven. The other two samples came from the contents of a ceramic vessel and from a pit. There were carbonized plant remains in all three samples, dominated by barley. Read more.
It’s the oldest French scientific institute based in a foreign country and the first archaeological institute that was established in the Greek capital. The French School of Athens was founded in 1846 by order of King Louis-Philippe, amid the wave of French philhellenism which followed the birth of the modern Greek state a few years earlier.
The Athens-based school has a long history that is closely connected with the growing interest in Greek archaeology and the excavations of key archaeological sites, covering virtually all historical periods.
Most people probably already know of the excavations at Delos, Argos, Philippi or Malia. However, the one on Thasos, an island in the northeast Aegean Sea, is no less important. Thasos used to be among the 10 most powerful cities of the ancient world and was rich in marble quarries, gold mines and pottery workshops. Read more.