Thursday, June 29, 2006

2000 year old tomb unearthed in central China

Chinese archaeologists have unearthed a large tomb, possibly the grave of an aristocrat, dating back 2,000 years in the central province of Hunan.

The tomb could belong to the eminent Changsha King appointed by an emperor of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), archaeologists from Changsha Archaeology Research Institute cited initial study as saying.

Discovered at a construction site in northwestern Changsha, the provincial capital, the tomb is about 30 meters long and 15 meters wide, with high-quality construction techniques and design.

The tomb is the largest excavated in the province, and bigger than the Mawangdui Tomb, which is famous for the preserved 2,000-year-old women's corpse.

Grave robbers had broken into the tomb, stealing many funerary objects and causing serious damage.

Fortunately, the coffin remained intact. The identity of the tomb owner would be determined after the coffin was opened and seals or other materials are found, archaeologists said.

A bronze goat-shaped container, a gilded jade, a celadon bowl and a celadon jar were excavated from the tomb. Experts said the first two were original items in the tomb but the others were left by the robbers."

Turkey requests return of Mausoleum reliefs


Until I visited the British Museum earlier this spring, I was not even aware that anything remained from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Therefore I was thrilled to see the wonderful statues of a very handsome King Mausollos and Queen Artemisia there.

See my pictures!

So, the following article caught my eye:

The New Anatolian: "Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Mugla Deputy Fahrettin Ustun has asked Culture and Tourism Minister Atilla Koc to take the initiative to get remaining sections of the Mausoleum, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, currently at the British Museum, back to Turkey. Ustun said that a similar request was made in the past as well, but it didn't bear any fruit, and told the following story:

King Mausolus' wife and sister built a mausoleum for the deceased ruler in 350 B.C. in Halicarnassus (modern-day Bodrum). According to the ancient Greek historian Pliny, the Mausoleum is the first example of its kind in Anatolia with a pyramidal roof and is about 50 meters high. The white marble used in the pyramid was brought from the island of Pharos, which lay at the mouth of the harbor of Alexandria, Egypt. On the top step of the pyramid stood lion monuments and at the summit of the whole mausoleum were statues of King Mausolus and Queen Artemisia in a chariot. But the Mausoleum was demolished probably in the large Anatolian earthquake of 1304. When the Knights of Rhodes arrived in Bodrum, they used the stones and pillars of the Mausoleum to build the Bodrum Castle.

British Ambassador to Istanbul Lord Stratford Canning asked Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid (1823-1861) for permission to take to the United Kingdom the 13 reliefs that were used in the walls of the castle by the Knights of Rhodes."

Later, famous writer Cevat Sakir Kabaagacli (1890-1973), known as the Fisher of Halikarnas, sent a letter to Britain's Queen Elizabeth. Kabaagacli, a graduate of Oxford University, said that he was very sad that the Mausoleum pieces that were sent to the British Museum were kept in London's cold, foggy weather instead of their own natural atmosphere. He said that the pieces that were exhibited in London were built for Bodrum, and that their real beauty can only be seen when they are juxtaposed with the blue of the Bodrum sea, and so they shouldn't be taken out of the place where they truly belong.

The queen sent the letter to the director of the museum. A few months later, the director sent the following reply: "We've taken your suggestion very seriously. Indeed, their real value can be seen when together with blue. Therefore, we painted the hall in the museum where they are exhibited a Bodrum blue. Thank you very much for your interest."

Coptic Museum reopens after three year renovation

The Coptic Museum, the only one in the World dedicated to the art and antiquities of Christian Egypt, reopened its doors today after three years of restorations. Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, was present at the inauguration of the museum located at Misr Al Qadim (Ancient Egypt), where Christian, Islamic and Judaic temples are located. The museum, whose renovations have cost 5 million dollars, contains antiquities that date from the Coptic period, which spanned between the V and VII centuries of our era.

The objects displayed rise up to 16000 pieces approximately, arranged as possible in chronological order in 12 different sections.

DNA shows foreigner worked on royal tomb

DNA shows foreigner worked on royal tomb: "DNA tests have identified the remains of what may prove to be China's first foreign worker - an early European who worked on the mausoleum of China's first emperor.

The DNA tests were done on remains from one of the laborers' tombs surrounding the mausoleum of Qinshihuang, in northwestern Shaanxi Province.

The mausoleum was built more than 2,200 years ago.

Scientists found the foreign remains among 121 shattered human skeletons in a tomb about 500 meters from the famous museum housing the life-sized terracotta warriors and their horses and weapons.

The discovery means contacts between the people in east Asia and those in what is now central Asia began a century earlier than the previously supposed Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) period, said Duan Qingbo, head of the Qinshihuang Mausoleum Excavation Team under the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage.

Scientists collected bone fragments from 50 sets of remains in the laborers' tomb that was unearthed in 2003 and from these extracted 15 DNA samples.

Most of the bodies were males aged from 15 to 55, Duan said.

Tan Jingze, an associate professor at Shanghai-based Fudan University, which conducted the DNA tests, said one sample had genetic features commonly associated with the Parsi in India and Pakistan, the Kurds in Turkmenistan and the Persians in Iran."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

'Fang' dentures link to skeleton

BBC NEWS : "A man whose 4,500-year-old bones were found in Mexico may have worn ceremonial dentures made from jaguar or wolf fangs, an archaeologist claims.

The find is said to represent one of the earliest examples of dentistry in the Americas.

The man's remains were found in volcanic ash beneath a cliff painted with ancient rock art in a remote mountain region of western Mexico.

James Chatters, an archaeologist and palaeontologist with Amec Earth and Environmental and a member of the research team, said the man's upper and front teeth had been removed - possibly to insert a ceremonial denture made from the palate of a wolf or a jaguar.

"Such a denture might be something like the mouthparts of a predatory animal or some fierce animal of some sort," he said.

It was also possible the man's teeth had been cut off for cosmetic reasons, or to indicate special status, perhaps as a priest or shaman, Dr Chatters said.

He would not have been able to bite with his front teeth but appears to have been well-fed. An examination of the body indicates he did not do hard work, perhaps having been an important person in the society.

The man may have died from an infection related to his dental work, Dr Chatters explained.

"They cut his teeth off right down to gum and exposed the pulp cavity, and he had two abscesses in his mouth at the time he died. Blood poisoning is a possibility there," he said."