Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Balloons help spot ancient sites

Archaeologists are to take to the skies above north Wales in hot air balloons in an attempt to spot long-lost ancient sites.

Balloonists preparing for the weekend's Llangollen Balloon Festival will take archaeologists up in their craft to allow them to take aerial photographs.

Many ancient sites can only be spotted from the air with slow-flying balloons ideal for landscape photography.

Top of the airborne archaeologists' list to photograph is Dinas Bran Castle in Llangollen and the string of Iron Age hill forts that stretch along the Clwydian Range."
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Friday, August 26, 2005

'Henry VIII hunting whistle' unearthed

Telegraph : "A silver huntsman's whistle, which may have belonged to Henry VIII, has been unearthed during a metal detectors' club gathering. The whistle is engraved with motifs that appear to link it to the king's first wife, Catherine of Aragon. It is being studied at the British Museum.

The finder, Keith Stuart, 62, was taking part in the club event in a field on the Isle of Wight and is now waiting to be told the whistle's value after having it declared treasure by a coroner's court.

Archaeologists have dated it to the 16th Century and have told Mr Stuart that it will fetch many thousands of pounds. The whistle, 2?in long, is engraved with roses and pomegranates, the latter being the emblem of Catherine of Aragon, Henry is believed to have hunted on the Isle of Wight and the whistle may have been dropped during a visit."
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Punic, Mauretanian, Roman and Islamic remains found in Moroccan excavation "An archeological site which dates from the Phoenician era (6th century BC), has recently been discovered near Ksar Sghir, reported MAP. The site which held four civilizations was discovered accidentally in the region of Dhar Sakfane during work on the motorway section in Tangier ?Oued R'mel. An archeological team is at present carrying out an emergency excavation.

After the first observations, the team from the National Institute for Archeological Sciences and Heritage ( INSAP) affirmed that the site was unusual in having been occupied four successive civilizations: Punic, Mauretanian, Roman and Islamic. It overlooked a marshy zone a few kilometers near the Mediterranean, a typical location for Phoenician sites.

The Phoenicians probably occupied the 1.5 ha site in the 6th century BC. The local people, Mauretanians, followed in the fifth to 2nd century BC, while the Romans settled in the site from 40 BC to 5th century AD. A few archeological remains show an Islamic presence from the 12th to 13th centuries."
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Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Hunt for William Wallace

Wallace emerged from obscurity with the brutal murder of William Heselrig, the English sheriff of Lanark, in May 1297. Tradition ascribes this act to revenge for Heselrig?s treatment of Wallace?s lover, Marion Braidfute: the truth is more likely to be found in the political situation in Scotland. In the previous year, Edward I had invaded Scotland when defied by John Balliol King of Scots over the matter of suzerainty. Edward defeated and imprisoned Balliol and imposed his own government on Scotland under Earl Warenne and Hugh Cressingham, the treasurer, whom the Scots came to know as ?the treacherer?. Edward then left for the Continent, believing that Scotland was pacified.

In this, he was quickly shown to be mistaken. Rebellion against English rule broke out across the country. In the north, Andrew Murray led the rebels in a series of attacks on centres of English power. Further south, Wallace became the focal point of resistance. His murder of Heselrig, whether motivated by patriotism or passion, drew the disaffected to him. If not previously an outlaw, he was certainly one now.

At once, he demonstrated the vigour and military skill which were his trademarks. Soon after Lanark, we find him at Scone, eighty miles to the north, where he almost captured William Ormsby, Edward?s justiciar. He then swept the English out of Perthshire and Fife, and by August had laid siege to Dundee. In the vicinity of Stirling, he joined forces with Andrew Murray at the head of what the English called ?a very large body of rogues?.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Treasure Rivaling Schliemann's Trojan Gold unearthed in Bulgaria

Bnn, Bulgarian news network: "Bulgarian archeologists have discovered more than 15,000 gold jewellery items, which likely belonged to Thracian rulers, who reigned on the Balkans in the third millennium B.C., an official said Wednesday.

'The golden objects unearthed near the village of Dabene in
central Bulgaria are not just pieces of Thracian jewellery. They are objects of exquisite regal ornamentation,' National Museum of History Director Bozhidar Dimitrov told the AFP.

Some of the rings are so finely crafted that the point where the ring is welded is invisible with an ordinary microscope.

The archaeologists started the excavations near Dabene a year ago after seeing a local woman wearing a necklace of golden rings. She said her husband found them on his farm."

The objects were found in the tomb of a "proto-Thracian" man. His people were "ancestors of the Thracians, who lived in what is now Bulgaria and parts of modern Greece, Romania, Macedonia and Turkey until the 8th century C.E., when they were assimilated by invading Slavs."
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Friday, August 12, 2005

Ancient Labrys Unearthed in Bulgaria

Ancient Labrys Unearthed in Bulgaria: "Bulgarian archeologists accidentally unearthed a bronze labrys, a double headed ritual axe, symbol of the King's authority in the history of the Thracian tribes.

The labrys was found during rescue opearions at the Ada Tepe hill, near Krumovgrad. The archaeologists say that the finding dates back to the Bronze era and is unique for Bulgaria.

The bronze labrys is 15cm long and proves Ada Tepe's links to the Minoan culture."
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Thursday, August 11, 2005

The "Goatscape" of the Mediterranean Basin

Ecoscience: The Greek and The Romans Did It Too: "The ancient Greeks took an essentially scientific view of their environment, and some Grecian writers saw that their land was deteriorating under human stewardship. Four centuries before Christ, Plato described Attica (the region around Athens), saying: 'What now remains compared with what then existed is like the skeleton of a sick man, all the fat and soft earth having wasted away, and only the bare framework of the land being left.' The description is even more apt today.

Soil erosion on the slopes of the rugged Greek hills helped prevent reforestation . . . as did grazing and browsing animals, which killed the seedlings before they could establish themselves. Especially prominent in the latter role were goats . . . the "horned locusts" that have destroyed so much of the vegetation of the Mediterranean region and other areas where they've been introduced. (In fact it's not unfair, today, to describe much of that territory as a "goatscape". )

The Romans, in contrast, took a strictly utilitarian view of their environment: The land was there to be exploited by Homo Sapiens. The trend toward deforestation started in Greece and spread?during the Roman Empire?from the hills of Galilee in Palestine and the Taurus Mountains of Turkey in the east, to the mountains of Spain in the west. Various features of the Roman agricultural economy greatly encouraged this process . . . and their society had no counterbalancing conservation ethic."
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Friday, August 05, 2005

Electronic Tools and Ancient Near Eastern Archives

A colleague of mine recently brought this fascinating website to my attention:

Electronic Tools and Ancient Near Eastern Archives

"A number of interesting digital projects have recently been sponsored
by the National Science Foundation, and the Electronic Tools and
Ancient Near Eastern Archives (ETANA) is one such project. With the
support and primary documents of a number of important institutions,
such as the Society of Biblical Literature and Case Western Reserve
University, the mission of ETANA is to "develop and maintain a
comprehensive Internet site for the student of the ancient Near East."
While the project is still in development, the site's creators have
added numerous helpful resources so far to the archive, including the
ETANA Core Texts. In this section, visitors can view digitized texts
related to scholarship on the ancient Near East, such as James
Breasted's monumental work, "Ancient Records of Egypt", along with 171
other key documents. Visitors will also want to take a look at ABZU,
which is another database collection that contains items relevant to
the study of the ancient Near East that are available online."
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Monday, August 01, 2005

Zoroaster's Kaba a solar observatory?

Iran News: I see that ann Iranian archaeologist, Reza Moradi Ghiasabadi, has rejected the theory describing the Achaemenid era monument, Zoroaster's Kaba, near the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis, as an ancient government archive, saying that the monument is the world's most unique calendrical and astronomical building.

"At the end of Shahrivar (the sixth month of the Iranian calendar, August 23-September 22) we can determine exactly the day of the month by the light shed by the sun on Zoroaster's Kaba. It has been used for daily needs, determining the time of cultivating crops, and collecting taxes," Ghiasabadi explained.

There are various theories on the original purpose of Zoroaster's Kaba. Some experts believe that the monument was the home of a complete copy of the Avesta which had been written on 12,000 cow hides. Some Orientalists also believe that Zoroaster's Kaba was a place where the Zoroastrians' sacred fire was kept burning eternally.

A number of other researchers say that the monument is the tomb of Smerdis, the son of Cyrus the Great, who was murdered by his brother Cambyses (king of Persia 530?522 BC).

Zoroaster's Kaba bears a Sassanid era inscription explaining the historical events during the reign of the Sassanid king Shapur I (241-272 CE).

The trilingual inscription, written in the Sassanid and Parthian dialects of Middle Persian and ancient Greek, describes the war between Persia and Rome in which Shapur I defeated the Roman emperor Valerian, who was captured in June 260 and died in captivity.
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