One of the most astounding archaeological discoveries of the 20th century is arguably the life-size terra-cotta army buried alongside China’s first emperor. Now, scientists have figured out how the bronze triggers for the crossbows of the 8,000 terra-cotta warriors were manufactured.
Teams of craftspeople worked in small groups to produce the bronze pieces in batches for the tomb of ancient Emperor Qin Shi Huang, according to a new study detailed in the March issue of the journal Antiquity.
Historical documents suggest that soon after Emperor Qin Shi Huang ascended to the throne in 246 B.C., he began work on his tomb near Xi’an, China. When the tomb was first unearthed in the 1970s,it revealed thousands of lifelike terra-cotta statues of artisans, musicians, officials, horses and soldiers. Read more.
Shark-tooth weapons once used for warfare in the Central Pacific have revealed two locally extinct shark species, a new study says.
Historical records show that natives of the Gilbert Islands, now part of the country of Kiribati, once battled one another using wooden swords, spears, daggers, and other weapons inlaid with the sharp, jagged teeth of local shark species.
By studying 120 such weapons housed at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, scientists determined that Gilbert Islanders used teeth from at least 17 shark species in making their weapons.
To their surprise, however, the researchers discovered that two of the species—the spotfin shark and the dusky shark—are no longer found in the reefs off Gilbert Island. Read more.
More than two dozen prehistoric tools and weapons found on an undeveloped plot in Pitkin County could provide archaeologists information about hunter-gatherer toolmaking in the West.
The find, on private property in the Emma area, on Bear Ridge Road, was reported last week to the Pitkin County commissioners. The owners of the site, David Brown and Jody Anthes, have building rights on the property. They asked the local government last week to place it, instead, on the county’s historical register and grant them two transferable development rights.
An archaeological survey of the site, conducted in December and made public last week, concluded the artifacts are from the Archaic Period, which ran roughly from 6400 to 400 B.C.
Archaeologists who surveyed the site for its owners recommended it as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Read more.
Some 5,200 years ago, in the mountains of western Iran, people may have used takeout windows to get food and weapons, newly presented research suggests.
But rather than the greasy hamburgers and fries, it appears the inhabitants of the site ordered up goat, grain and even bullets, among other items.
The find was made at Godin Tepe, an archaeological site that was excavated in the 1960s and 1970s by a team led by T. Cuyler Young Jr., a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, who died in 2006.
A team of researchers took up his work after he died and recently published the results of the excavation, along with more recent research on the artifacts, in the book “On the High Road: The History of Godin Tepe" (Hilary Gopnik and Mitchell Rothman, Mazda Publishers, 2011). In addition a symposium was held recently where the takeout windows, among other research finds at Godin Tepe, were discussed.
The idea that they were used as takeout windows was first proposed by Cuyler Young and is based mainly on their height and location beside the central courtyard. Read more.
Elite members of ancient Egypt, including the pharaoh himself, likely wielded ornate daggers, swords and axes in battle, or to personally execute prisoners, rather than using the shiny metal for ceremonial purposes, research suggests.
The weapons were used during the Bronze Age, a period between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago when the civilization was at its height, according to Daniel Boatright, an Egyptologist at Isle of Wight College in the United Kingdom.
This finding is “strange considering the amount of literature that’s been composed so far that basically says that all of them were for ritualistic purposes and were never used in battle,” Boatright told LiveScience. Read more.
CAMINADA HEADLAND, LA. (AP) - Cleanup after the BP oil spill has turned up dozens of sites where archaeologists are finding human and animal bones, pottery and primitive weapons left behind by pre-historic Indian settlements _ a trove of new clues about the Gulf Coast’s mound dwellers more than 1,300 years ago. But they also fear the remains could be damaged by oil or lost to erosion before they can be fully studied.
So far, teams of archaeologists hired by the oil giant have visited more than 100 sites and sent back a growing list of finds to labs for radiocarbon dating and other tests, though extensive excavations haven’t been done. Scholars have also accompanied cleanup crews to make sure they don’t unwittingly throw away relics. Read more.
When archeologists recently excavated a 3,800-year-old palace near the eastern German city of Weimar, they discovered about 100 valuable weapons buried next to a massive structure. Now they are puzzling over how an ancient chieftain buried nearby became so rich.
In 1877, when archeology was still in its infancy, art professor Friedrich Klopfleisch climbed an almost nine-meter (20-foot) mound of earth in Leubingen, a district in the eastern German state of Thuringia lying near a range of hills in eastern Germany known as the Kyffhäuser. He was there to “kettle” the hill, which entailed having workers dig a hole from the top of the burial mound into the burial chamber below.
When they finally arrived at the burial chamber, everything lay untouched: There were the remains of a man, shiny gold cloak pins, precious tools, a dagger, a pot for food or drink near the man’s feet, and the skeleton of a child lying across his lap.
The “prince” of Leubingen was clearly a member of the elite. Farmers who had little to eat themselves had piled up at least 3,000 cubic meters (106,000 cubic feet) of earth to fashion the burial mound. They had also built a tent-shaped vault out of oak beams and covered it with a mound of stones, as if he had been a pharaoh. Read more.
After more than two centuries lying 30 feet under the Atlantic Ocean, two cannons raised Tuesday from a shipwreck have a new home - conservation vats behind the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum.
As visitors watched at 4 p.m. Tuesday, they were lowered into fresh water to begin cleaning off concretion from weapons carried by a ship archaeologists believe could date from 1776 to 1810.
When the job is done, markings on weapons which weigh about 1,200 and 1,800 pounds respectively could tell archaeologists what ship they were on when it sank. But until then, having weapons of war becoming tools of learning was “public archaeology at its best” in the museum’s backyard, said spokesman Beau Philips. Read more.