Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Darius bas relief, Babylonian inscription unearthed in Bushehr

Mehr News"An inscription written in neo-Babylonian as well as a bas relief of Darius the Great have been unearthed at the Darius Palace in Dashtestan in Iran?s southern province of Bushehr, an official of the Bushehr Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department said.

The archaeological team began the excavations in early winter under the supervision of Iranian expert Dr. Ehsan Yaqmaii, whose team had discovered the Darius Palace, also known as the Bardak Siah Palace, in 1978. Like Apadana in Persepolis, the palace had 36 columns. Sixteen bases of the columns were unearthed during the first phase of the excavations. Each column rose to nearly 20 to 23 meters. At the top of the columns were capitals decorated with the images of eagles and lions. Pieces of the capitals, including eyes, wings, fangs, and snouts, have been discovered during previous excavations."

Remains of ancient Egyptian seafaring ships discovered

New Scientist Breaking News : "The first remains of ancient Egyptian seagoing ships ever to be recovered have been found in two caves on Egypt's Red Sea coast, according to a team at Boston University in the US.

The team also found fragments of pottery at the site, which could help resolve controversies about the extent of ancient Egyptian trade voyages. But details of the newly disclosed finds remain sketchy.

Kathryn Bard, who co-led the dig with Italian archaeologists in December 2004, has revealed to the Boston University weekly community newsletter that the team found a range of items - including timbers and riggings - inside the man-made caves, located at the coastal Pharaonic site of Wadi Gawasis.

According to the report, pottery in the caves could date at least some of the artefacts to a famous 15th century BC naval expedition by Queen Hatshepsut to the mysterious, incense-producing land of Punt. This voyage is depicted in detailed reliefs on Queen Hatshepsut's temple on the west bank of the Nile, near modern-day Luxor."

New exhibit focuses on cultural relations between Egypt and France

Al-Ahram Weekly : "Twenty-five granite and limestone statues -- just a few of the 779 objects discovered by George Legrain in 1904 in the Hypostyle Hall of the temple of Amun-Re at Karnak -- lie in an atmosphere of divinity and serenity in a new exhibit debuting at the Egyptian Museum. Black and white photographic illustrations show workmen in action during the 1904 excavations; removing limestone blocks, brushing the sand off a statue which is half-buried in sand; or pulling a thick rope with a huge granite object attached. A portrait of Legrain along with a short biography flashes on one wall.

Among the most significant items on display are a fine limestone statue of Psammetik I, founder of the 26th dynasty, in the shape of a sphinx; a dark gray diorite statue of Shapenoupet II, daughter of the 25th- dynasty Pharaoh Piankhi, in the shape of a female sphinx holding a bust of a bull; a white limestone statuette of Amun's musician Taheret with curly hair; and a yellow quartzite statue of the high priest of Memphis, Khaemouset, son of Ramses II.

Egyptian Museum director Wafaa El- Saddiq told the Weekly that some of the objects illuminated an important Egyptian religious tradition of "the Divine Wives of Amun", or royal princesses who gave their lives to serve the god. "This is similar to Coptic monotheism," El-Saddiq said.

In the second half of the exhibition are displayed some of Champollion's personal objects, which in their own way illustrate his long path to breaking the mystery code of hieroglyphics."

Possible Michelangelo Self-Portrait Foun


Discovery Channel : "A unique bas-relief, which might be the first known self-portrait of Michelangelo, has emerged from a private collection, art historians announced in Florence this week.

The sculpture, a white marble round work attached to a flat piece of marble, with a diameter of 14 inches depicting a bearded man, was lent by a noble Tuscan family to the Museo Ideale in the Tuscan town of Vinci for a study on the relationship between Michelangelo and Leonardo."

Monday, March 07, 2005

3000-year-old skeleton of metalworker discovered near Zabol

Mehr News: "Archaeologists working at the Espidej historical site in Sistan-Baluchestan in southeast Iran recently discovered a tomb containing a 3000-year-old skeleton of a metalworker buried with all his tools.

The tools include an awl, a brass ladle, a whetstone, as well as water pots to temper copper and brass, indicating that metalworking was an important industry in the region 3000 years ago.

According to the head of the archaeological team, Mohammad Heydari, a brass statue of a dog was also discovered inside the grave. The statue is only one centimeter long, showing that the tools used 3000 years ago were accurate enough to make such delicate and small statues."

Friday, March 04, 2005

Unique column bases of Palace of Cyrus unearthed in Charkhab

Unique column bases of Palace of Cyrus unearthed in Charkhab"Archaeologists have excavated three column bases with wonderfully unique masonry at the Palace of Cyrus the Great in Charkhab near Borazjan in Iran?s southern province of Bushehr, the director of the Iranian archaeological team working in the region announced on Saturday.

"The bases are from three of the four columns, which were located at the main gate of the palace. Archaeologists have not yet found the fourth one,"Ali-Akbar Sarfaraz added.

"The bases were made using the same black and white stones which were used in the main hall of the palace, but artistically they are very similar to the bases of Pasargadae.

"It is no exaggeration to say that the bases are unique and unparalleled in the art of masonry. They have been so finely crafted that you think of lathe workshops or plasterworks," Sarfaraz said.

The skill and sense of aesthetics used to make the bases has surprised experts, making them wonder what artists with what tools cut the stones in such a way that has never been seen, even in Persepolis, the main capital of the Achaemenids, he added.

Diggers find oven at Roman hotspot in Manchester

Manchester Online: "A ROMAN oven and pieces of pottery have been uncovered beneath the site of a new shopping arcade. In addition to the Roman oven and pottery, remains of Westerwold German stoneware have been uncovered.

Wigan was the site of a Roman fort known as Coccium, which was in existence in the second century AD.

Three Roman roads have been traced in the Wigan area and researched by the Wigan Archaeological Society.

Other Roman finds in the area include hordes of coins, cremation urns and a headless statue of the Persian god Cautopates."

'Atomic Paring Knife' Will Help Probe Ancient Civilizations

Newswise Mississippi State researchers are acquiring a high-tech laser instrument described as an "atomic paring knife" that will be used, among other things, to probe the mysteries of ancient civilizations.

Hailed as the first such unit of its type in the Southeastern United States, the university?s Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometer will provide organizations across Mississippi-academic, non-profit and industrial-with unique capabilities for quantitative surface analysis and depth profiling.

It was purchased with a National Science Foundation grant of more than $264,000 awarded to a team of MSU researchers at Diagnostic Instrumentation and Analysis Laboratory-known as DIAL-and Cobb Institute of Archaeology.

"The instrument can be used to map surfaces?find defects or specific surface features," said DIAL director John Plodinec. "One also can do depth profiling-using the laser system as an atomic paring knife, peeling away layer after layer of material."

Associate anthropology professor Evan Peacock predicted the new instrument will greatly enhance MSU?s ongoing archaeological investigations at Lyon's Bluff, an Oktibbeha County site where Native Americans dwelled A.D. 1000-1650. Numerous artifacts and the foundation of a prehistoric fort have been found there, the Cobb research associate added.

"The new laser ablation (precise removal) system provides a rapid, non-destructive way of tracing pottery to its source," Peacock, an environmental archaeologist, said.

Plodinec said the system uses a laser to gently scratch the sample surface, ejecting a small amount of material into plasma, where the atoms are separated by mass.

"The instrument provides a complete, rapid and accurate compositional analysis of almost any materials-stone, glass, ceramics, metals-with no sample preparation and minimal damage to the original sample," said DIAL assistant research professor Adriana Giordana, who is coordinating the technological effort for the lab."

Bulgarian Archaeologists Search for Thracian King's Body

I was very excited to read that Thracian artifacts discovered in the excavation at the Goliamata Kosmatka tomb are going to be featured in a traveling exhibit beginning next year. I will have to keep tabs on this development to see where the exhibit site nearest to my home will be.

Sofia News Agency: "Bulgarian archaeologists are attempting to find the body of the ancient Thracian king Seutus III. The archaeologists will search for the king's remains at the Goliamata Kosmatka tomb, where they found a bronze helmet with a sign reading that it has belonged to the ancient king.

The Goliamata Kosmatka finds will be exhibited in full in the National Museum of History in Sofia. After 2006 it is expected to start its journey in the museums worldwide. There have been invitations from the US, Japan, Spain, France and South Korea, archaeologist Georgi Kitov said."

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Beaded Mummy One of Best Ever Preserved

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Archaeologists uncovered three coffins and a remarkably well-preserved mummy in a 2,500-year old tomb discovered by accident - after opening a secret door hidden behind a statue in a separate burial chamber, Egypt's chief archaeologist said Wednesday.

The Australian team was exploring a much older tomb - dating back 4,200 years - belonging to a man believed to have been a tutor to the 6th Dynasty King Pepi II, when they moved a pair of statues and discovered the door, said Zahi Hawass, Egypt's top antiquities official.

Inside, they found a tomb from the 26th Dynasty with three intricate coffins, each with a mummy.

'Inside one coffin was maybe one of the best mummies ever preserved,' Hawass told reporters at the excavation site in the cemetery of Saqqara, a barren hillside pocked with ancient graves about 15 miles south of Cairo.

'The chest of the mummy is covered with beads. Most of the mummies of this period - about 500 B.C. - the beads are completely gone, but this mummy has them all,' he said, standing over one of the mummies that was swathed in turquoise blue beads and bound in strips of black linen.

The names of the mummies have not been determined, but the tomb is thought to be that of a middle-class official."