Monday, March 19, 2007

Russian filmmakers to produce "The Gold of Schliemann"

St. Petersburg Company Nikola Film starts a project about Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890), a great adventurer and a self-taught archeologist, claimed by scientific world as the first "black digger".

The project has been titled The Gold of Schliemann. World Collection of Antiquities.

Eight films will feature the story of Schliemann. Each of them will be shot in the countries where the archeologist used to travel: Russia, Greece, China, England, France, Czechia, Germany and Norway. The digging of Troy will be reconstructed in Crimea and Greece.

Excavation points to refined Philistine culture

Archaeologists have applied more polish to the long-tarnished reputation of the Philistines.

Recent excavations have raised the estimation of Philistines.

In recent years, excavations in Israel established that the Philistines had fine pottery, handsome architecture and cosmopolitan tastes. If anything, they were more refined than the shepherds and farmers in the nearby hills, the Israelites, who slandered them in biblical chapter and verse and rendered their name a synonym for boorish, uncultured people.

Archaeologists have now found that not only were Philistines cultured, they were also literate when they arrived, presumably from the region of the Aegean Sea, and settled the coast of ancient Palestine around 1200 B. C.

At the ruins of a Philistine seaport at Ashkelon in Israel, excavators examined 19 ceramic pieces and determined that their painted inscriptions represent a form of writing. Some of the pots and storage jars were inscribed elsewhere, probably in Cyprus and Crete, and taken to Ashkelon by early settlers. Of special importance, one of the jars was made from local clay, meaning Philistine scribes were presumably at work in their new home.

Dr. Cross said in an interview that several signs in the Ashkelon inscriptions “fit in with well-known Cypro-Minoan,” in particular from artifacts recovered at sites in Cyprus and at Ugarit, in Syria. He said the script had some characteristics of Linear A, the writing system used in the Aegean from 1650 B. C. to 1450 B. C. This undeciphered script was supplanted by another, Linear B, which was identified with the Minoan civilization of Crete and was finally decoded in the mid-20th century.

“We can’t read the inscription, and that’s true as well of Cypro-Minoan writing found on Cyprus,” Dr. Cross said. “We will need a lot more samples before we can think of deciphering it.”

Friday, March 16, 2007

Evidence of 6th millenium BCE wine production found in Macedonia

Ancient sources always commented on the excessive drinking at Macdonian feasts. Perhaps, the Macedonian's loved wine so much because they had been drinking it for a lot longer than nearly everyone else!

"Whither the ancient Greeks loved grape juice, or they were making wine nearly 6,500 years ago, according to a new study that describes what could be the world’s earliest evidence of crushed grapes.

If the charred 2,460 grape seeds and 300 empty grape skins were used to make wine, as the researchers suspect, the remains might have belonged to the second oldest known grape wine in the world, edged out only by a residue-covered Iranian wine jug dating to the sixth millennium B.C.

Since the Greeks influenced the Romans, who in turn influenced virtually all of Europe, it is possible that a drink made in a humble, post-framed house in eastern Macedonia influenced much of the world’s wine.

"For the Neolithic or the Bronze Age, we have no evidence for markets and a market economy," lead author Tania Valamoti told Discovery News.

"Production was on a household or communal basis," added Valamoti, who is a lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at Greece’s Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Valamoti and her team excavated four homes at a Neolithic site called Dikili Tash. After discovering the grape remains in one residence, they conducted charring experiments on fresh grapes, raisins and wine pressings to see what would best match the ancient seeds and skins. They determined the archaeological remains "morphologically resemble wine pressings and could not have originated from charred grapes or raisins."

Analysis of the grape remains determined they either were harvested from wild plants or originated from a very early cultivar.

Findings are published in the current journal Antiquities.

The scientists also found two-handled clay cups and jars, which they say suggest a use for decanting and consuming liquids. Charred figs were also found near the grape remnants. The presence of figs likely was not a coincidence, according to the researchers, who mentioned that juice from wild grapes often has a bitter taste."