Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Theseus and the Minotaur retold with Machinima Software iClone 2.1

I've been exploring Machinima Software, which is software to produce 3D animated films on just a consumer-grade computer, and found this excellent example of using animation software to retell a classic story of Greek mythology - Theseus and the Minotaur.

Whole Villages in Bulgaria Turn To Tomb Raiding

This is really heartbreaking. Perhaps Bulgaria should adopt England's approach to rewarding amateur artifact hunters with a share of the value of their finds.

Sofia News Agency, "Tens of thousands of tomb raiders are systematically stripping Bulgaria. In some parts of the country, whole villages have taken up tomb-raiding and many of the digs are organised by the local mafia.

Volodia Velkov, the head of the police unit that combats organised crime, said tomb-raiding was now generating about £4 billion a year for the crime syndicates.

Mr Velkov and a team of 30 officers are trying to track looted antiquities and stop them leaving the country.

"Since last October, when we started the new department, we have seized 16,000 artefacts," he said.

"More than 30,000 people are involved in tomb-raiding. The business is very well-organized and the expeditions are financed by rich Bulgarians living in the US, Britain and Germany."

Last Friday, a 43-year-old man was caught trying to smuggle more than 100 items into Germany in special compartments within the floor of a lorry. Police found antiquities dating back to 300BC, worth £345,000.

"The main route is through Germany, where there are huge warehouses full of our antiquities," said Mr Velkov.

Friday, August 17, 2007

27th Dynasty Noblewoman found in Saqqara

"An ancient Egyptian noblewoman's large stone coffin has been found in a tomb near the pyramid of Unas, experts announced yesterday Archaeologists were digging near the crumbling pyramid in Saqqâra, 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of Cairo, when they discovered the tomb, which had been built more than 600 years before the noblewoman's death.

El-Aguizy said the coffin of the noblewoman, named Sekhemet Nefret, was the first from Egypt's 27th dynasty (525 to 402 B.C.) to be found in this part of Saqqâra, an ancient royal burial ground.

The walls of the burial shaft were made in part with carved stone slabs, known as stelae. The stone dates from the even earlier reign of the pharaoh Djoser.

Like other burial grounds near Egypt's ancient capital Memphis, the site was abandoned for centuries and then came back into use after the Persian conquest of Egypt in 525 B.C. At that time, nearby temples were renovated and religious cults flourished. Noblewoman Nefret's family had a direct role in that conquest.

She was related to Udja Hor Resenet, a physician and scribe. Resenet helped the Persian king Cambyses II conquer Egypt and later tutored the new ruler in Egyptian religion and rituals."

Ecological disaster being reconsidered as cause of Angkor's collapse

"Excavations are planned at Angkor to scour for more clues about ecological problems which led to the demise of Cambodia's great ancient city, an Australian archaeologist said Thursday.

"We have clear evidence now that Angkor was big enough to have caused environmental problems," Damian Evans said.

"But we need finer-grained detail to determine for sure how severe those problems were, and whether or not the local population was able to deal with them or not," said Evans, deputy director of the Greater Angkor Project at the University of Sydney.

His group published its findings in this week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They reveal that Angkor, during its zenith between the 9th and 14th centuries, was "the world's most extensive preindustrial low-density complex" and far larger than previously thought. It included an elaborate water management network encompassing nearly 1,000 square kilometers (390 square miles).

Extending rice fields to support a population of more than 1 million resulted in serious ecological problems, including deforestation, topsoil degradation and erosion.

The study's conclusions supported a theory in the early 1950s by Bernard-Philippe Groslier, a prominent French archaeologist, that the collapse of Angkor stemmed from over-exploitation of the environment.

The study produced a comprehensive digital mapping database detailing tens of thousands of individual features across nearly 3,000 square kilometers (1,160 square miles).

Previously, there were around 800 known temple sites in the mapped area, Evans said in an e-mail, adding that the number will likely be between 950 and 1,000 once results from the excavations have been verified on the ground."

Greek archaeologists to excavate Alexander's outpost in Kuwait

"Greek government experts are going to Failaka - a Gulf outpost of Alexander's army, now governed by Kuwait.

The island's bullet-holed buildings tell of a conflict still fresh in people's memories - Saddam Hussein's brief occupation of Kuwait in the early 1990s.

Beneath the sun-baked sands of Failaka, archaeologists hope to unearth the secrets of an earlier conquest - a settlement established by Alexander's general, Nearchus, in the 4th Century BC.

The excavations will focus on the ruins of an ancient citadel and cemetery, the general secretary of the Greek culture ministry, Christos Zahopoulos, told the BBC News website.

Earlier work by French archaeologists has uncovered the remnants of a temple to Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting, as well as several Greek coins and idols." - BBC News

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tomb of Ancient Athlete Found In Bulgaria

"A team of Bulgarian archaeologists unearthed Tuesday an ancient stone tomb, dated back to the 4th century BC, Darik News reported.

The team, lead by Krastina Panayotova, stumbled upon the tomb during the annual archaeological excavations on the Harmani beach of the Black Sea town of Sozopol.

A man, probably an athlete, had been buried in the tomb because the team found an object used by athletes in antiquity.

Just a day earlier the archaeologists came upon the grave of another man, probably a gambler. The grave was full of dice, backgammon pieces and coins.

Last week the same team unearthed a tomb of a citizen, who lived in the ancient city of Apollonia, which is today's Sozopol.

The team of Krastina Panayotova is working on the Harmani beach of Sozopol, a site which archaeologist have been exploring for many years now.

Sozopol is one of the oldest towns on Bulgarian Thrace's Black Sea coast. The first settlement on the site dates back to the Bronze Age. Undersea explorations in the region of the port reveal relics of dwellings, ceramic pottery, stone and bone tools from that era. Many anchors from the second and first millennium BC have been discovered in the town's bay, a proof of active shipping since ancient times.

The town, at first called Antheia, was colonized by Anaximander. The name was soon changed to Apollonia, on account of a temple dedicated to Apollo in the town, containing a famous colossal statue of the god by Calamis, 30 cubits high, transported later to Rome by Lucullus and placed in the Capitol. At various times, Apollonia was known as Apollonia Pontica (that is, Apollonia on the Black Sea, the ancient Pontus Euxinus) and Apollonia Magna."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Field Musicians of the Civil War

I was searching for Civil War music to use as a soundtrack for my podcast about the Living History Festival that was held recently here in Springfield and I came across this exceelent presentation. I like the way the creator took a collection of photographs and focused on a particular aspect of the conflict.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

First Royal Aztec Tomb Discovered

Mexican archaeologists using ground-penetrating radar have detected underground chambers they believe contain the remains of Emperor Ahuizotl, who ruled the Aztecs when Columbus landed in the New World. It would be the first tomb of an Aztec ruler ever found.

The find could provide an extraordinary window into Aztec civilization at its apogee. Ahuizotl (ah-WEE-zoh-tuhl), an empire-builder who extended the Aztecs' reach as far as Guatemala, was the last emperor to complete his rule before the Spanish Conquest.

Accounts written by Spanish priests suggest the area was used by the Aztecs to cremate and bury their rulers. But no tomb of an Aztec ruler has ever been found, in part because the Spanish conquerors built their own city atop the Aztec's ceremonial center, leaving behind colonial structures too historically valuable to remove for excavations.

One of those colonial buildings was so damaged in a 1985 earthquake that it had to be torn down, eventually giving experts their first chance to examine the site off Mexico City's Zocalo plaza, between the Metropolitan Cathedral and the ruins of the Templo Mayor pyramid.

Archaeologists told The Associated Press that they have located what appears to be a six-foot-by-six-foot entryway into the tomb about 15 feet below ground. The passage is filled with water, rocks and mud, forcing workers to dig delicately while suspended from slings. Pumps work to keep the water level down.

Citizen of Ancient Apollonia discovered in Sozopol Bulgaria Archaeologists from the Bulgaria's National History Museum have unearthed a tomb of a citizen, who lived in the ancient city of Apollonia, which is today's Black Sea town of Sozopol.

The team of Krastina Panayotova is working on the Harmani beach of Sozopol, a site which archaeologist have been exploring for many years now. During regular excavations Panayotova's team stumbled upon the tomb.

When the scientist opened it they found many pottery, the skeleton of a man, who lived some 2,500 years ago and a huge ceramic bowl with an inscription in ancient Greek.

The bowl has been already taken for a thorough expertise and a team of linguists was called to decipher the inscription. When this is done, the Head of the Museum Bozhidar Dimitrov hopes the scientists will get a further understanding of Apollonia Pontica - the first democratic state in the lands of today's Bulgaria.

The interesting thing for this artefact is that it was unearthed in the family part of the necropolis, where Histiyani, the tyrant of Milet, was buried.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Museums in Izmir, Turkey drawing thousands of tourists

With the rising popularity of cruise line tourism, more people are visiting the archeological, ethnographical, historical arts and Atatürk museums in İzmir.

The İzmir Archeology Museum was established on a 500-square-meter area in Bahribaba Park in 1984. In this four-floor museum, the exhibition is organized in sections. Ceramic and precious artifacts are on the upper floor, stone statues, busts and portraits are on the middle floor, and while the ground floor is reserved for the administration, the basement is used as a storage room. There are 58,788 items on display in the museum and in its garden.

The Ethnography Museum is also located in Bahribaba Park. The museum building was constructed in the 19th century in neoclassical style on a sloped terrace. The building was used as the St. Roch Hospital in 1983, and was converted into a care-house for poor Christian families by the French in 1845.

The Selçuk Museum is another notable museum in İzmir. Museum officials point out that many tourists, especially those who come to the region on cruise line tours, have been visiting the Ephesus Museum, St. John’s Basilica and the ancient city of Ephesus in greater numbers since April 2007.

Cairo toe earliest fake body part

BBC NEWS : "An artificial big toe found on the foot of an ancient Egyptian mummy could be the world's earliest functional fake body part, UK experts believe. A Manchester University team hope to prove that the leather and wood 'Cairo toe' not only looked the part but also helped its owner walk.

They will test a replica in volunteers whose right big toe is missing. If true, the toe will predate the currently considered earliest practical prosthesis - a fake leg from 300BC. The Roman Capua Leg, made of bronze, was held at the Royal College of Surgeons in London but was destroyed by Luftwaffe bombs during the Second World War.

Lead researcher Jacky Finch said: 'The toe dates from between 1069 and 664BC, so if we can prove it was functional then we will have pushed back prosthetic medicine by as much as 700 years.'"