Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ancient Perfume materials from Cyprus sent to the Capitoline Museum

Looks like I'll be too late to see the exhibit when I visit Rome in October. Oh well, maybe some of the aroma will remain!

"Archaeologists carrying out research in Cyprus claim to have discovered the oldest perfume factory in the world.

Located on Cyprus, fabled home of the goddess of love, Venus, the remains of a 4,000-year-old factory that made prehistoric scents are causing excitement for experts.

The prehistoric scents and 60 objects from the site in Cyprus have been placed on display at the Capitoline Museums in Rome, having been found in 2003.

Perfumes named after Greek goddesses and made from pine, coriander, olive oil, parsley, bergamot, bitter almonds and laurel were discovered in alabaster vials."

"The archaeologists used fragrances extracted from traces left in containers at the site to recreate ancient aromas with the same techniques used in the past, said Maria Rosaria Belgiorno, the leading archaeologist who discovered the factory in 2003."
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Queen Elizabeth I's christening gown rediscovered

A christening gown once worn by Queen Elizabeth I has been discovered by chance during a clear-out of a Gloucestershire stately home.

The 500 year-old gown was found at Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, by Lady Elizabeth Ashcombe while she was tidying a box of textiles in a cupboard.

The gown, worn by Henry VIII's daughter at her baptism in Greenwich in 1533, was authenticated by experts in the 1880s, yet subsequently forgotten about.

Speaking to the Daily Express, Jean Bray, an archivist working at Sudeley said: "The dress was handed down in the family, which claims descent from Henry's sixth wife Katherine Parr. It was authenticated at the Victoria and Albert museum".

It is now thought the gown will take pride of place at an exhibition in Sudeley - recently the setting for Liz Hurley's wedding - in June.

Elizabeth's connection with Sudeley started as a child and continued into her reign. She visited the 15th century castle three times as queen, notably at a feast in 1592 celebrating the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
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Pollen may provide clue to kilns that produced China's Terracotta Warriors

Scientists have been examining pollen in China's terracotta warriors in a bid to find out where they were made.

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing discovered that the warriors and horses that form the Terracotta Army contain different pollen signatures.

The soldier figures appear to have been fired at kilns located a significant distance from the Chinese Emperor's tomb they were designed to guard, while the heavier horses seem to have been created locally as they are more fragile and could have been damaged by transportation.

Experts hope that the research will enable them to pinpoint the locations of the kilns used to make the famous statues of warriors, horses and chariots. It marks the first time that pollen samples have been recovered from pottery and used for analysis in this way.

More than 2,200 years old, the Terracotta Army comprises 8,000 soldiers, 300 horses and 200 chariots and was unearthed in the tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shihuang, in 1974.
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Iron Age statue found in Iran

Archaeologists working in Iran are hoping the discovery of a statue buried in a grave will help unveil secrets of the Iron Age.

The statue, unearthed in a corpse-like position on a mountain near Abyek in Qazin province, was discovered together with human bones and pottery objects.

Experts believe the strange discovery may well be linked to complex burial ceremonies known to be held for the dead during that time

Speaking to reporters, a member of the excavation team said: "The new discovery could lead us to further questions concerning the burial methods of Iron Age man."

Iran's Iron Age, believed to have taken place in the neo-elamite period between 1400 and 550BC, is considered by historians to be a crucial time in terms of the country's cultural and religious development.
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Evidence found of Toltec child sacrifice

Remains of around two dozen pre-Hispanic Mexican children discovered on the site of the former capital of the ancient Toltec civilisation, Tula, point to them having been decapitated in a group.

Dating from between 950 AD and 1150 AD, the bones were unearthed around 50 miles (80km) north of Mexico City and the ancient warrior-like Toltecs were known to have sacrificed adults during their rituals.

Aged between five and 15, the children were buried with a statue of Tlaloc, the god of rain, around a shrine and were all laid out facing east.

Archaeologist Luis Gamboa claims that evidence at the mass grave indicates that the children were human sacrifices to the gods, including incisions that may have been made by sharp instruments.
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Monday, April 23, 2007

Unique Ancient Thracian Chariot Unearthed in Bulgaria

This is such an exciting discovery. I'm definitely going to have to put Bulgaria on my must see list!

Sofia News Agency: "A completely intact Thracian chariot was unearthed by the Bulgarian archaeologist Vesselin Ignatov on Friday, Darik News reported.

The chariot was found near a burial barrow close to the central Bulgarian town of Nova Zagora. Ignatov and his team have already dated the finding to 2 century BC. The chariot has two wheels with its roof made of heavy bronze in the form of eagle heads and a folding iron chair, where the driver sat. The chariot was aimed to be pulled by three horses.

The uniqueness of the finding is that it is completely intact, with all its parts on place except the wooden ones, and now we can calculate its precise size and how exactly it was placed in the tomb, Ignatov said. He believes a second chariot will be found as the excavations continue."
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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Early history of Belgium

455-843 Frankish Empire: The start of the great divide

A slow peaceful invasion takes place - more like a colonisation of the sparsely populated lands of today's Flanders. It was at this time that the division between the Flemish and Walloons originated.

The Franks were not conquerors. Accepted by the Romans as mercenaries with their own chiefs, they were loyal to Rome and considered themselves a part of its army. They used its political organisation and titles, and even dressed in Roman style. But the language became Frankish, a primitive form of Dutch, and was used throughout the region right down to Paris and the Loire. Latin was the language of the church. Frankish was used for administration. The upper/ruling classes employed both...

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Study points to the seats as the reason for acoustics at Epidaurus

As the ancient Greeks were placing the last few stones on the magnificent theater at Epidaurus in the fourth century B.C., they couldn’t have known that they had unwittingly created a sophisticated acoustic filter. But when audiences in the back row were able to hear music and voices with amazing clarity (well before any theater had the luxury of a sound system), the Greeks must have known that they had done something very right because they made many attempts to duplicate Epidaurus’ design, but never with the same success.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have pinpointed the elusive factor that makes the ancient amphitheater an acoustic marvel. It’s not the slope, or the wind — it’s the seats. The rows of limestone seats at Epidaurus form an efficient acoustics filter that hushes low-frequency background noises like the murmur of a crowd and reflects the high-frequency noises of the performers on stage off the seats and back toward the seated audience member, carrying an actor’s voice all the way to the back rows of the theater.

The research, done by acoustician and ultrasonics expert Nico Declercq, an assistant professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Georgia Tech Lorraine in France, and Cindy Dekeyser, an engineer who is fascinated by the history of ancient Greece, appears in the April issue of the Journal of the Acoustics Society of America.

While many experts speculated on the possible causes for Epidaurus’ acoustics, few guessed that the seats themselves were the secret of its acoustics success. There were theories that the site’s wind — which blows primarily from the stage to the audience — was the cause, while others credited masks that may have acted as primitive loudspeakers or the rhythm of Greek speech. Other more technical theories took into account the slope of the seat rows.

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Egyptian archaeologists find oldest fort to date on Horus road

"Egypt's chief archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, took a bus of journalists into the North Sinai to showcase his agency's latest discovery - the ancient buried walls of a military fort and a few pieces of volcanic lava.

According to Egyptian officials, the evidence of lava is from a volcano in the Mediterranean Sea that erupted in 1500 BC and is believed to have killed 35,000 people and wiped out villages in Egypt, Palestine and the Arabian Peninsula.

The same diggers found evidence of a military fort with four rectangular towers, now considered the oldest fort on the Horus military road."
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