Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dam Threatens Tomb of Cyrus the Great

History be dammed |Guardian Unlimited: "He founded the world's first multinational empire, was celebrated in the Bible and Qur'an and is recognised as ancient Persia's greatest king. But now the 2,500-year-old tomb in which Cyrus the Great rests is at risk from one of the many vast dam projects that Iran's present rulers say is vital to future development.

Conservationists, including the UN's heritage body, Unesco, say the 15.5m pound Sivand dam threatens the long-term survival of the historic tomb and the remains of several adjoining palaces at Pasargad in southern Iran.

The dam's opening has already been postponed by more than a year to allow international teams of archaeologists to dig in the neighbouring Tange Bolaghi gorge, where civilisation is believed to date back 6,500 years. Excavations have uncovered a wealth of remains, including remnants of a palace belonging to King Darius the Great, a successor to Cyrus, and an iron smelting plant traced back to around 2,500BC. The skeleton of a human female, originating from around 4,000BC was also discovered in a cave.

The gorge, thought to have been a hunting area for kings during the 2,800-year-old Achaemenid dynasty, will be flooded once the dam starts operating. Hundreds of hectares of farmland will also be swamped, necessitating compensation for local farmers.

The water authority insists the tomb will be unaffected but has offered to install humidity measuring devices to monitor possible damage."

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Tomb find reveals pre-Inca city

BBC NEWS: "Archaeologists working in northern Peru have discovered a spectacular tomb complex about 1,000 years old.

The complex contains at least 20 tombs, and dates from the pre-Inca Sican era.

Among the discoveries are 12 'tumis', ceremonial knives which scientists have not been able to study in a burial site before, as well as ceramics and masks.

The Sican culture flourished from approximately AD 800-1300, one of several metalworking societies which succumbed to drought and conquest.

The burial site sits on Peru's northern coast, near the town of Ferrenafe.

Discoveries in the tomb complex include tumis formed from an alloy of silver, copper and gold; masks, breastplates and ceramics.

The dig. Image: AP
The site contains at least 20 tombs, making it a "religious city"
Buried in a pyramid 30m (100ft) long, archaeologists found the bones of a woman in her early 20s surrounded by figurines of Sican gods, ceramics and objects in copper and gold.

Another set of bones, clearly from a person of some stature, were found in a seated position accompanied by a metallic crown, part of a thorny oyster, and various ceramic objects including a vase.

The tumis are a prize find, because until now the knives have come to scientists from tomb raiders. Finding them in situ would allow a closer understanding of their role in Sican culture, researchers said.

One of the tumis features a representation of Naylamp, the mythical founder of Sican society who according to legend emerged from the sea and became a god."

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Java sunken treasure to be sold

BBC NEWS : "Scientists in Indonesia are preparing to auction tens of thousands of artefacts salvaged from a sunken ship off the coast of Java.

The items, which are believed to be more than 1,000 years old, include ceramics, tombstones and swords.

The ancient treasure, which was discovered 18 months ago, is expected to fetch several million US dollars.

About 150,000 pieces are still intact and some of them are expected to go to Indonesia's museums.

Salvaged after 1,000 years at the bottom of the sea, the haul includes bowls from China, Thailand and Vietnam; perfume bottles from Persia; and swords and tablets engraved with Koranic inscriptions.

It is an extraordinary finding because on the ship we can find artefacts that come from five Chinese dynasties
Expert, Siawaori Nissia

They were only discovered when fishermen off the coast of Java brought up nets clogged with shards of ancient ceramics.

According to Horst Liebner, an expert involved in cataloguing the find, the artefacts probably came from onboard an Indonesian trading ship.

'There is a chance of about 70% that the cargo was loaded in China and then traded down the coast of Palembang and then was heading for Java.

'It's a very funny ship. It's very broad, it's very flat on the bottom, it's very sharp in the bow. It must have been very high if you see the amount of cargo which was on there - about four metres high, maybe four-and-a-half,' he said."
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Tomb of Aztec Emperor May Lie in Mexico - "Mexican archeologists are investigating if the tomb of an Aztec emperor lies beneath a recently excavated stone monolith depicting a fearsome god.

It would be the first burial site ever found of a leader of the 1427-1521 Aztec empire, said archaeologist Eduardo Matos Thursday.

Matos, who leads the excavation project at the Templo Mayor ruins in Mexico City's main square, said a date carved on the stone suggests it contains the remains of emperor Ahuizotl, the father of Moctezuma, the Aztec ruler defeated by the Spaniards.

The stone was unearthed at the foot of the western face of the Templo Mayor, the Aztecs' main religious site. Carvings on the stone show Tlaltecuhtli, an Aztec god was so fearsome the Aztecs normally buried her depictions face-down in the earth."
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