Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Museum boss held for stealing riches of Croesus


World - Times Online: "The director of a Turkish state museum has been arrested over an alleged plot to steal the riches of Croesus and substitute the golden treasure for fakes.

Kazim Akbiyikoglu, the head of the Usak museum in western Turkey, was among nine people to be held after several ancient artefacts were found to have been switched for counterfeit copies.

A golden brooch in the shape of a winged seahorse and a golden coin are among the pieces found to have been swapped for fakes, according to Atilla Koc, the Turkish Tourism Minister.

Stories of the fabulous wealth of the king of Lydia in what is now western Turkey during the 6th Century BC have bequeathed the phrase 'as rich as Croesus'. Croesus was believed to be the first king to order coins to be minted as money, using the gold from his mines and panned from the sands of the River Pactolus."

Restoration of tomb of Cyrus underway


Restoration of tomb of Cyrus underway: "A team of experts recently began restoring the tomb of Cyrus the Great at the ancient site of Pasargadae in Fars Province, the Persian service of CHN reported on Sunday.

Several megaliths of the tomb have been dislocated over time, and the restoration project aims to put them in their proper positions in order to prevent water from seeping into the monument.

?Studies of the damage to the tomb were carried out last year, and the experts prepared a plan, which is currently being implemented,? Parseh and Pasargadae Research Foundation director Mohammad-Hassan Talebian said.

?(Iranian archaeologist Ali) Sami had restored the tomb with cement before the Islamic Revolution. Since stone discharges cement after a time, gaps emerge among the stones, allowing rainfall to leak into the tomb. But the new plan will resolve the problem forever,? he added."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Weapons Found in Moche Woman's Tomb



The Boston Globe: "Archeologists in Peru have discovered a 15-century-old mummy of a tattooed Moche woman entombed with a dazzling collection of weapons and jewelry.

The woman, clearly a member of royalty, was buried with a sacrificed teenage slave at her feet and surrounded by signs of femininity, including precious jewelry, golden needles and bejeweled spindles and spindle whorls for spinning cotton.

But her burial bundle also contained gilded copper-clad war clubs and finely crafted spear throwers -- objects never seen in a Moche woman's tomb."

Susa Park Museum reopens

CHN | News: "On the occasion of World Museum Day, Susa Park Museum will be inaugurated as the largest museum of Khuzestan province. This way the Susa Museum will be re-opened after more than two decades.

?The park of Susa Museum has been established in a 3-hectare area in the vicinity of the museum. Some historical relics unearthed during different archeological excavations in Susa historical site such as stone pillars belonging to the Achaemenid era, stone and clay objects, and many more which had been forgotten for many years will be displayed in this park museum,? said Reza Chenani, director of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of the city of Susa.

Increasing the security system of the museum and setting the articles in chronological order are some measures taken by the Cultural Heritage Department of Susa. ?One of the major problems we had with the Susa Museum in the past was that its objects were not organized in a chronological order; therefore the visitors could not get a sense of time and trace the changes in the styles of these objects. In the new decoration we have tired to set them in sequential order from the pre-historic to the Elamite and Sassanid periods,? added Chenani. "

Friday, May 12, 2006

2,400-year-old salt filter unearthed in Hebei

China View: "Archaeologists have discovered a 2,400-year-old filter that was used to extract salt from seawater in North China.

Ancient Chinese in coastal areas used to extract salt from seawater, by using a filter that would be placed under a caldron containing seawater blended with plant ash, said Wang Lingfeng, director of the office for protection of cultural relics in Haixing County, Cangzhou City of Hebei Province.

The filter is believed to be from the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC-476 BC) and was in good condition when it was found in Haixing County, Wang said.

The helmet-shaped filter is 22 cm tall with the inside diameter of 13.7 cm and the outside diameter of 19.5 cm. Winding gullies were found inside the filter."

Archaeologist sweats as fierce sun savages Taj Mahal


LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE - LBO: "An Indian archaeologist is praying for a respite from a heat wave engulfing the Taj Mahal town of Agra, warning that heavy dust in the dry air could permanently scar the marble monument to love.

Temperatures hovered this week at 45 Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit) in the city, 200 kilometres (124 miles) south of New Delhi, as a heat wave that has killed 60 people nationwide in the past week dragged on.

The Yamuna River, which runs behind the 17th-century white Mughal tomb, was dry and Agra's chief archaeologist Doraiswamy Dayalan said he was worried that dust from the nearby desert and factories would turn the marble yellow.

'The dry river allows dust and suspended particulate matter to rise and flow in the air and slam into the monument's surface,' said Dayalan, of the Archaeological Survey of India which cares for the Taj.

'If water returns to the Yamuna then there will be less suspended matter in the air,' Dayalan said, adding that he was praying the annual monsoon rains arrived by the end of June."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Jamestown well is ''a virtual time capsule,''

PilotOnline.com): "Archaeologists digging in what may be Capt. John Smith?s well at Jamestown have found seeds, insects, bones and artifacts that will shed light on the environmental conditions and culture of 400 years ago.

The items are well-preserved because they were found below the water table, which protected them from contact with air. The well is a virtual time capsule, according to archaeologists at Historic Jamestowne.

A child?s leather shoe, surgical tools, buttons, untarnished copper, nuts and seeds, including a tobacco seed, have been unearthed. Above the water level, a German jug, weapons, ceramics, beads and large quantities of butchered animal bones and seafood remains have been found. Items include clam, mussel and scallop shells; fish bones; dorsal plates from Atlantic sturgeons ; crab claws; and barnacles."

I'm sorry I didn't have time to explore Jamestown when I visited Williamsburg several years ago.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fisherman Nets Ancient Statue in Greece


Yahoo News: A Greek fisherman has handed over to authorities a large section of an ancient bronze statue brought up in his nets in the Aegean Sea, officials said on Monday.

The male torso was located last week near the eastern Aegean island of Kalymnos, the Culture Ministry said in an announcement.

The one-meter (3-foot) high find belonged to a statue of a horseback soldier, and would have been part of the cargo of an ancient ship that sank in the area. It was taken to Athens to be cleaned and dated.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Horses in classical art exhbit opens in Bloomington, Indiana

Horses in classical art: "From the hippodrome to home, horses dominated important decorative arts, appearing on painted vases, furniture, jewelry and coinage and at the crossroads of human lives in wedding and funerary sculpture. Unlike much of the mundane equine art from this century and the last, this art shows how the ancient world held the horse as a dynamic comrade rather than a luxury consumer item or lottery-ticket surrogate. Achilles' prophetic chariot horse, Xanthus, for instance, could speak and weep. It is this intimate admiration of the horse as an equal that makes the period so compelling.

Elegant stallions used in hunting, war and chariot racing were revered by mortal and god alike and appear prominently in vase painting. Calinescu has divided the works into two categories: 'Horses in Life' and 'Horses in Myth.' And, because the exhibit is primarily composed of items meant for individual handling, the show has a strong immediacy.

A fine-boned horse captured in bronze for a chair-back invites you to complete the picture with a sprawling reveler. A well-bred mule wearing a celebratory garland forms a bronze saucepan handle, raising images of ancient haute cuisine. A charming clay horse and rider ? ancient Greek folk art, if you will ? carries boisterous black stripes over a white slip and likely was either a toy or votive offering. A spectacular gold finger ring with carved carnelian shows a rider on a magnificent stallion. It is from IU's celebrated Burton Y. Berry Collection. (Burton, an IU alumnus, was a career diplomat in the 1930s and '40s.)

Perhaps the most astonishing part of the exhibition is the wealth of vase paintings. That is part of the legacy of former art museum director Thomas Solley, said Calinescu. Much of the strength of the ancient material at Bloomington is due to his prescience, she said.

Among the treasures is a black-figure band cup by an unknown painter called The Bloomington Painter after this vessel. The work has a frieze of 69 delectably crisp figures of all ages, types and sexes with four chariots and 16 spirited stallions.

Two amphorae by The Phineus Painter are equally spectacular. One of the two-handled jars includes the image of a horse so swift it outruns a bird, a bit of exclamatory art that still carries a punch after 15 centuries. Nike drives to victory around the turning pole in a hippodrome with four divine stallions in a scene on a wine bucket. Hades drives Persephone to the underworld with a chariot team borrowed from his brother, Zeus, in a jug painting. In other works, Amazons, centaurs, satyrs, sphinxes, lions, griffins, panthers, dogs, sea nymphs, donkeys, birds and an intertwined wealth of real and mythic figures play background to the horse.

Another intriguing amphora is decorated with a plunging horse with a luxuriant, almost foaming mane. This and the presence of a dolphin on the vase suggest to Calinescu, who is an expert in vase-painting interpretation, that the images refer to Poseidon, god of the sea and earthquakes. His connection to the horse is primal, she said. Myth says Poseidon created the horse when he struck a rock with his trident, and it was Poseidon in the guise of a stallion who seduced Medusa to father Pegasus."

Friday, May 05, 2006

900-year-old tombs discovered in Inner Mongolia

Xinhua, China View: "Archaeologists have discovered an unprecedented large group of 900-year-old tombs in Horinger Countyin north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The tombs, dating back to the Liao Dynasty (916-1125), were excavated in the ancient city of Tuchengzi, said Li Qiang, head ofthe archeology team.

He said it was the largest group of Liao tombs ever discovered at the southern foot of the Yinshan Mountains running west-east through Inner Mongolia.

A vase and a kettle made of brown vitreous enamel were among 14ornate porcelain and six ceramic items found at the site, said Li.

He said 18 of the 21 tombs excavated were made of brick and therest were earthen.

'The tombs are placed in order and decorated with frescos, indicating that members of an upper-class family were buried here.' said Li, adding the discovery might provide insights into life in Tuchengzi during the Liao period.

The ancient city is believed to have been established during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C."

Greek minister to meet Getty Museum head over suspect artifacts

Middle East Times: Greece said on Wednesday that the director of the Getty Museum had requested a meeting with the country's culture minister, only hours after the announcement that a new stash of ancient artifacts had been seized at a villa belonging to a former museum curator.

Michael Brand, director of the famed museum in Los Angeles, will visit Athens on May 16 for talks with culture minister George Voulgarakis, the ministry said.

In a letter to Voulgarakis, Brand requested the meeting "to establish a productive dialogue", it said.

Earlier on Wednesday police said that 12 ancient artifacts had been seized at an island villa that a police source said belonged to former Getty curator Marion True, who faces trial in Italy on charges of conspiring to traffic in stolen antiquities.

A raid a month ago on the same villa, located on the Greek Cycladic island of Paros, yielded 17 antiquities from the Hellenistic and Roman eras.

The police said that the items were "illegally held" in violation of Greek antiquity laws, which require that all artifact collections be declared to the authorities.

An official police statement said that among the new items confiscated in the search on Tuesday, conducted in the presence of an archaeologist, were two marble sarcophagi and a marble olive press slab. "