Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gold artifacts recovered from Archaic-period graves in Pella

Photo Archaeologists have unearthed gold jewellery, weapons and pottery at an ancient burial site near Pella in northern Greece, the birthplace of Alexander the Great, the culture ministry said on Thursday.

The excavations at the vast cemetery uncovered 43 graves dating from 650-279 BC which shed light on the early development of the Macedonian kingdom, which had an empire that stretched as far as India under Alexander's conquests.

Among the most interesting discoveries were the graves of 20 warriors dating to the late Archaic period, between 580 and 460 BC, the ministry said in a statement.

Some were buried in bronze helmets alongside iron swords and knives. Their eyes, mouths and chests were covered in gold foil richly decorated with drawings of lions and other animals symbolizing royal power.

"The discovery is rich in historical importance, shedding light on Macedonian culture during the Archaic period," Pavlos Chrysostomou, who headed the eight-year project that investigated a total of 900 graves, told Reuters.

Pavlas said the graves confirmed evidence of an ancient Macedonian society organized along militaristic lines and with overseas trade as early as the second half of the seventh century BC.

Among the excavated graves, the team also found 11 women from the Archaic period, with gold and bronze necklaces, earrings and broaches.

Nine of the graves dated to the late classical or early Hellenistic period, around the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. - More

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Glacier-free Schnidejoch passes yields ancient artifacts

Figure 1Receding Alpine glaciers have uncovered a trove of ancient artifacts in recent years. Last month, Swiss archaeologists announced that they had dated some of the items to as far back as 4500 B.C.E.--1000 years before the famous Iceman.

The owner of the items--a piece of wooden bowl and leather from a shoe--remains missing. But he has been named "Schnidi" after the Schnidejoch pass, where the items were found. "We now know that the findings at Schnidejoch are the oldest [yet discovered] in the Alps," said Albert Hafner, chief scientist at the Archaeological Survey of the Canton of Bern, at a news conference.

Since 2003, when record-high summer temperatures caused extensive melting of the ice at the 2756-meter-high pass, archaeologists have retrieved 300 items of hunting gear, fur, leather and woolen clothing, and tools belonging to early travelers or hunters moving between the Rhône Valley and parts north. Radiometric dating at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology indicates that a bow, a birch-bark quiver, and arrows were dropped in the pass in the early Bronze Age, about 4000 years ago. Other finds include Roman coins and needles dating to about 200 C.E. and fragments of early and late Medieval apparel. - More

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Lava pool measurements may predict next eruption of Vesuvius

Image: volcanoThe magma pool feeding the Italian volcano that destroyed Pompeii in AD 79 has shifted in the past 2,000 years, a discovery that could help in predicting future eruptions, researchers said in the journal Nature.

Vesuvius is in southern Italy near Naples, one of the most densely populated volcanic regions in the world. Its crater is 4,200 feet above and 13 miles away from Naples, Italy's third largest city.

Scientists had thought the pool remained constant over the past 4,000 years but new investigations detailed on Wednesday showed the chamber had actually shifted higher between the Pompeii eruption in AD 79 and the Pollena one in AD 472.Knowing the location of the lava pool is important because more pressure builds up the deeper a pool is, resulting in more powerful eruptions, said Michel Pichavant, a geologist at the University of Orleans in France, who worked on the study.

The findings can help build more accurate models to predict damage from future eruptions by factoring in the movement of these pools, he said. - More

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Rare sacrifice of pregnant victim found in pre-Inca tomb

Archaeologists in Peru say they have discovered the jawbone of a fetus among the remains of a sacrificed woman in a pre-Inca tomb, suggesting the Lambayeque culture practiced the atypical sacrifice of pregnant women and their children.

The remains of the woman and unborn child were found in a tomb with three other sacrificed women and several sacrificial llamas, lead archaeologist Carlos Wester La Torre told The Associated Press.

In all, Wester La Torre's team reported finding the remains of seven women in two tombs at the Chotuna Chornancap archaeological site, each showing signs of having been cut at the throat.

The sacrifice of a pregnant woman "is very unusual" in the pre-Inca world, said respected Peruvian archaeologist Walter Alva, who was not involved in the discovery.

"The concept of fertility was well respected, so this could represent a sacrifice for a very important religious event," he said Wednesday.

Chotuna Chornancap is a sacred site of the Lambayeque culture, which flourished in northern Peru between 800 and 1350 A.D. - More

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Channel 4 produces short about Odysseus Unbound project


British Channel 4 has produced a video short about progress on the Odysseus Unbound project. Report shows mysterious Ithaca, home of Odysseus the hero of Homer's Odyssey, is a step closer to being found.