Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Thracian Gold Fever

Thracian Gold Fever: "Finds from the tombs of the Valley of Thracian Kings include decorative equestrian ornaments and a delicate gold kylix, or drinking cup.

While the sensational finds from a 2,500-year-old necropolis dubbed the 'Valley of the Thracian Kings' have fired the imagination of the Bulgarian public and the world beyond, the story behind the discoveries, centered around the controversial methods of the archaeologist who made them--unorthodox excavation practices, shady business deals, allegations of collaborations with looters--raises questions about how this poor former East Bloc nation will manage the future of its past."

The Lost Goddess of Israel

The Lost Goddess of Israel: "Asherah is arguably the most important goddess in the Canaanite pantheon. The prototypical mother of gods and humans and consort of the chief god, El, she is also the mistress of the sea and the land, and protector of all living things. We have long known Asherah from the immense library of thirteenth-century cuneiform tablets found in Syria at the site of Ugarit. But there are also more than 40 references to Asherah in the Old Testament. What could she have meant to the people of monotheistic ancient Israel?

A bit too much, apparently, at least according to the authors of the biblical texts, who attack her relentlessly.

These passages reflect both the worship of Asherah and efforts to stamp out her cult during in the Iron Age. But it was only in the succeeding Persian period, after the fall of Judah in 586 B.C. and the exile in Babylon, that Asherah virtually disappeared.

Ultimately, the campaign to eliminate the goddess has failed. "Asherah was buried long ago by the Establishment," declares respected biblical scholar William H. Dever. "Now, archaeology has excavated her." Dever is quite certain that he knows who the Asherah of ancient Israel and of the biblical texts is--she is the wife or consort of Yahweh, the one god of Israel. Many of his colleagues would agree. "

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Archaeologists excavating underwater city uncovered by tsunami

Post Gazette: "Three rocky structures with elaborate carvings of animals have emerged near the coastal town of Mahabalipuram, battered by the Dec. 26 Asian tsunami. As the tsunami's waves receded, the force removed sand deposits that had covered the structures, which appear to belong to a port city built in the seventh century, said T. Satyamurthy, a senior archaeologist with the Archaeological Survey of India.

The six-foot rocky structures that have emerged in Mahabalipuram, 30 miles south of Madras, include an elaborately carved head of an elephant and a horse in flight. Above the elephant's head is a small square-shaped niche with a carved statue of a deity.

Another structure uncovered by the tsunami has a reclining lion sculpted on it.

According to archaeologists, lions, elephants and peacocks were common motifs used to decorate walls and temples during the Pallava period in the seventh and eighth centuries."

Monday, February 07, 2005

Five ancient game pieces discovered among artifacts illegally excavated in Jiroft

MehrnewsArchaeologists have identified five stone game pieces among the artifacts excavated by smugglers at the site of ancient Jiroft, the director of the archaeological team working on Jiroft and the Halil-Rud River cultural area announced.

"Three of the game pieces were made in the shapes of eagles, one of them is in the shape of a scorpion with a man?s head, and the other is a flat surface. All have 12 to 20 holes in them, with an equal number of holes on either side," added Yusef Majidzadeh.

"It is not clear how the people played the games, but their shapes and the holes in equal numbers indicate that the pieces were for a game like backgammon," he said.

The objects indicate that the people of the region had entertainment perhaps as far back as 5000 years ago.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Precise ancient ruler discovered in Iran

Precise ruler from ancient times discovered in Burnt CityArchaeologists recently discovered a 10-centimeter ruler with an accuracy of half a millimeter in the ruins of the 5200-year-old Burnt City.

"During the recent excavation, we found a piece of ebony wood 10 centimeters in length with regular furrows which seemed to be created by a sharp instrument. After several examinations using special tools, we learned that the grooves were carved in lengths of one millimeter and half a millimeter," Mansur Sajjadi, archaeological team leader, added.

"Through more studies, we became certain that the instrument is a ruler which was used by the people of the Burnt City in precision industries."

Experts believe the instrument indicates that the ancient inhabitants of the Burnt City were very adept in mathematics and geometry.

"The people surely used other measuring tools, but such a ruler must have been used for tiny works, since we had already ascertained that the people were very skilled in making handicrafts such as jewelry," Sajjadi said.