miércoles, 31 de octubre de 2012

Easter Island Statues Could Have 'Walked'

Rossella Lorenzi
The giant stone statues in Polynesia's Easter Island may have just been "walked" out of quarry, according to a controversial new theory on how the monolithic human figures were transported to every corner of the island.
In a piece of experimental archaeology, a team of local and U.S. researchers showed that the massive statues, known as moai, can be moved from side to side by a small number of people, just as one might move a fridge.
"We constructed a precise three-dimensional 4.35 metric ton replica of an actual statue and demonstrated how positioning the center of mass allowed it to fall forward and rock from side to side causing it to 'walk,'" Carl Lipo, an archaeologist at California State University, Long Beach, and colleagues wrote in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
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Nearly 1,000 huge statues stand on the remote Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island. With sizes ranging from about 6 to 33 feet in height, the rock effiges feature human-like figures ending at the top of the thighs with large heads, long ears and pursed lips.
Scholars have long debated how the multi-ton statues were moved from the quarry in Rano Raraku, an extinct volcano where they were carved, throughout the island's rugged terrain.
Claims ranged from extra-terrestrial intervention to molding in situ. However, most archaeologists agree that the colossal stone statues were moved by rolling them on logs. In doing so, the statue-obsessed Rapa Nui people would have depleted the island of its forests.
But according to Lipo's team, new evidence challenges the "longstanding notions of 'ecocide' and population collapse before European contact."
The researchers looked at the statues that were successfully placed on platforms on the island's perimeter, and others that the islanders abandoned on road sides in an apparently random fashion.
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According to Lipo, the position of the incomplete road moai shows that they fell over from upright positions, contradicting the theory that they were horizontally rolled on logs.
"The majority of statues are found facedown when the road slopes downhill, and often on their backs when going uphill," he said.
To test the walking hypothesis, Lipo and colleagues built a 4.35-ton concrete statue, which they say is a "precise proportionally scaled replica of an actual road moai shaped appropriately for transport."
Then they tested its upright movement at Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii.
Chanting "heave-ho," a team of 18 people managed to get the statue walking using three hemp ropes.
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One was tied from behind near the top of the head at the eyes to keep the statue from falling on its face. The other two, tied to the same location at the eyes, were stretched on either side and pulled in alternating fashion to rock the statue.
"Each roll caused the statue to take a step," Lipo said. In under an hour, the statue traveled 100 meters.
"In contrast to popular notions of sledges, rollers or sliders of trees, the evidence shows that moai were specifically engineered to 'walk' in an upright position achieved using only ropes, human labor and simple cleared pathways," wrote the researchers.
They noted that material for ropes was abundant on the island since they were made from a woody shrub. Therefore, "statue making and transport cannot be linked to deforestation," they said.
"Multiple lines of evidence, including the ingenious engineering to 'walk' statues, point to Easter Island as a remarkable history of success in a most unlikely place," they concluded

Skeleton in Richard III hunt may be friary founder

Archaeologists enter royal tomb in Palenque

A multidisciplinary team from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) first entered a burial chamber in Temple XX at Palenque in southern Mexico, 13 years ago. The tomb contained the remains of one of the first rulers of the ancient city – K uk Bahlam I - who came to power in 431 AD and founded the dynasty which included the famous Mayan ruler Pakal.

Birthplace of a dynasty

Before the small group of specialists entered the tomb, a tiny video camera was inserted to view the condition of the frescoes last seen in 1999 during the work of the Institute of Pre-Columbian Art Research and again briefly in 2011.
Archaeologist Arnoldo Gonzalez Cruzwho who made the discovery of the tomb of the Red Queen in Palenque in 1994, along with restorer and fellow archaeologist, Rogelio Rivero Chong, decided to re-examine and further conserve the Temple XX tomb, located in the South Acropolis of Palenque in the land of Lakamha or “Place of the Great Waters”.
We are at the birth of the Palenque dynasty, around 400 AD, and likely looking at the funerary enclosure of its founder; although this continues to be speculation pending further archaeological exploration,” explained Arnoldo Gonzalez. “Even this space could be an antechamber, we do not yet know if there are lower chambers. “
On the floor of the chamber, no skeletal remains have yet been spotted; however, already visible are eleven vessels and about a hundred smaller artefacts such as beads, mostly green stone, possibly jade and the rich red murals decorating the walls.

Brilliant red hues of the murals

Unlike the burial chambers of Pakal and the Red Queen, the chamber or antechamber of Temple XX has yet to reveal a sarcophagus, but the highlight is the brilliant red hues of the murals on three sides, with representations of the Nine Lords of Xibalba, a common theme in the tombs of Maya rulers.
The murals depict mythical characters wearing headgear, shields and sandals. The importance of burial sites from the Early Classic period (400-550 CE), are the rare fresco images and this is one of the few examples of murals discovered in funerary contexts at Palenque.

The murals had only been seen before on video,but now archaeologists, restorers, chemists, architects, photographers and graphic designers, have been able to directly observe the paintings and begin the task of preservation.
Although the multidisciplinary team consists of 60 individuals, the tomb can only contain two or three people at one time – who must also wear Tyvek coveralls (to avoid any contamination). Humidity and temperature, is strictly controlled to remain at 25 ° centigrade.
Conservation of the murals within the royal tomb. Image: INAH
Conservation of the murals within the royal tomb. Image: INAH
The burial chamber is rectangular, measuring 3.40 m long, 1.43 wide and 2.50 m high and project members will enter this main chamber by a smaller one that is located on the west side.
Although the wealth of archaeological materials from the tomb of Temple XX is clear, they will not be retrieved during the stabilisation of the mural. Early studies show a high concentration of mercuric sulfide or cinnabar, a pigment that was highly valued in Mesoamerica and often used in funerary images.
The conservators will record, photograph and draw the murals before consolidating the weakened borders where collapse has


Above Scotland with an aerial archaeologist

It's a bit like a mini with wings, says Dave Cowley, aerial archaeologist with RCAHMS (the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland).
And as we walk down the small runway at Fife Airport towards the even smaller Cessna plane, it seems it is an entirely apt description.
Dave and his colleagues make 40 to 50 trips a year in this four-seater plane and today they are squeezing two more guests in - myself and cameraman Douglas Macleod - to get a glimpse of their work.
Most archaeologists keep their feet firmly on the ground but Dave is convinced you can see so much more from the skies.
As we shudder up to a couple of thousand feet above Glenrothes, he points out crop markings in the fields below, remnants of ancient forts and other markings unnoticed from ground level.
Surveyors and developers are grateful for views of the urban development.
Historians and academics can contrast current photos with much earlier ones to see what has changed.
All are added to the massive photographic collection RCAHMS maintains - upwards of 1.6 million photographs.
It's not for the faint-hearted. Dave has been doing this for 10 years so he is blasé about throwing open the window and leaning forward for a better view.
As Ronnie the pilot banks the plane for a better view of the Forth Bridges, Douglas and I let out a comedy shriek.
Hopetoun House is an amazing sight from the air - its formal gardens offering perfect symmetry from the air. Neighbouring Mavisbank is a more poignant sight, lying derelict, its gardens reclaimed by the natural landscape.
From the air it seems so much larger, so much less vulnerable to decay.
Over the Pentland Hills, Dave points out even older markings - ancient fortifications made by man, other landscapes altered by time and weather.
Different times of year offer different weather conditions, and a chance to examine certain kinds of formations.
Summer is good for buried archaeology. It also offer the sorts of clear, clement conditions required for photographing water. Autumn with good light is the best time for built heritage.

As we circle back to Fife, avoiding a scary thunderous rain shower on the edge of Leith, there's a chance to look at one of Scotland's newest landscapes from the air.
Charles Jencks's latest land sculpture is being built on a former open cast mine in Fife.
The swirling green mound rises up from a sea of mud and rubble - an extraordinary sight not yet properly visible from the ground.
With that, it's back down to earth with only the slightest of bumps. Ronnie parks the aircraft and Dave packs up his photographic equipment and returns to the office to download his latest images.
Many of his photos feature in a new exhibition at the Lighthouse in Glasgow - a collaboration between RCAHMS and Architecture and Design Scotland.
Photos are enlarged and on tables beneath giant magnifying glasses, allowing the visitor to have that same birds' eye view of Scotland, with their feet firmly on the ground.
The Above Scotland exhibition will run until the 23 January 2013 in Gallery 2, The Lighthouse, Glasgow. Admission is free.


lunes, 29 de octubre de 2012

Celtic sacrifices confirmed at famed ancient site

Dan Vergano USA TODAY @dvergano
Ancient Celts practiced startling ritual murder practices, decorating sacrifice sites with ghoulish entanglements of human bones, most likely as a warning to foes and the folks they ruled.

October 27. 2012 - Halloween brings trick-or-treaters, candy and rather macabre displays of skeletons and graves suddenly dotting suburban lawns.
All in fun, but for the ancient Celts who cooked up the autumn festival of Samhain, a predecessor to today's Halloween, a new study confirms such displays were serious business.
"The ancient Celts were most definitely head-hunters," prone to displaying these trophies, says anthropologist Mary Voigt, who has long headed the Penn Museum's excavations at the storied site of Gordion in modern-day Turkey. "And they were definitely Celts at Gordion."
What were those Celts (pronounced with a hard "K" sound) doing in Turkey? Well, in a forthcoming study in the Journal of Osteoarchaeology by archaeologist Page Selinsky of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, it seems they were definitely continuing some startling ritual murder practices. They decorated sacrifice sites with ghoulish entanglements of human bones, perhaps as a warning to foes and the folks they
Gordion is the place where Alexander the Great famously severed the intractable "Gordian Knot," a knot so complex that legend has it that whoever undid the knot would rule all of Asia, on his conquests around 334 B.C. The death of Alexander also brought Celts, originally mercenaries and later conquerors, to Gordion, a citadel mound in central Turkey that was once ruled by the King Midas of the golden touch myth.
But by 240 B.C., the time examined in Selinsky's study, Gordion was ruled by a group of Celts called the Galatians (which very roughly means the "Greek Gauls," where the Gauls were the Celtic tribes who ruled today's France in the era when ancient Rome was a rising republic). Houses and pottery, loom weights and other artifacts at the site take on Celtic appearances from that time.
The other thing that takes on a Celtic appearance at the time, Selinsky reports in her study, is a graveyard. Bones and skulls from more than a dozen men, women and children arranged in odd ways appear to have been scattered around the site, in six clusters. Later Roman-era burials at the site, in contrast, are in rows of coffins and cremation urns, unlike the Galatian ones, with one exception.
"Understanding what they intended is the million-dollar question in Celtic ritual practices," Selinsky says. "These are big questions of life and death and what they believed. We may be seeing several different types of rituals."
In one case, a middle-aged woman's skeleton, her skull dented by three hammer blows, lay atop a younger woman's skeleton pinned under two large grinding stones. The bones of two children lay placed among them. In another, a teenager's clearly-decapitated head was arranged amid dog bones. Perhaps most bizarre, three skeletons mingled in doubled-over positions include the skull of a woman who appears to have been decapitated. Several men appear to have been decapitated among the bone clusters, their heads displayed singly in the manner of war trophies.
The Celts were big fans of skulls, Voigt notes in a chapter of the bookSacred Killing: The Archaeology of Sacrifice in the Ancient Near East, edited by Anne Porter and Glenn Schwartz. The Romans noted they collected heads of enemies to hang from their horses, and they sacrificed criminals and captured enemies, using their death throes to foretell the future. "The heads of those enemies that were held in high esteem they would embalm in cedar oil and display them to their guests, and they would not think of having them ransomed even for an equal weight of gold," wrote the ancient Greek historian, Strabo.

Voigt suggests that the bodies displayed by the Galatians, which would have been clearly visible to anyone living in the town below their citadel, were meant as a warning either to foes or the subject population of the town. Perhaps some were victims of ritual murder in attempts to tell the future when the Romans invaded their realm. While Selinsky is more cautious about attaching meaning to the bone displays than Voigt, her study does confirm violent death as the end for many of the skeletons, a suggestion that first made news a decade ago. "Here we see further investigation confirming a hypothesis, which is a good thing in science," Selinsky says.
It's worth noting that the Galatians didn't expose everyone who died this way. One young woman found near the ritual area was buried in a wooden coffin and was wearing lion-headed gold earrings, according to Voigt. The Romans who buried people so nicely after them weren't sweethearts either; they wiped out the Galatians in a war marked by genocide around 189 B.C.
As for the Halloween connection, some researchers see links, "but all we can say really is that there was a Celtic festival called Samhain in the fall when animals were slaughtered for the winter, that in some ways preceded the holiday," Voigt says. Any certainty about the deeper connection to today's trick-or-treating skeletons is as uncertain as the meaning of the curious bones left on a hillside below the ruins of Gordion.

Más hallazgos bajo el santuario

Las excavaciones que se llevan a cabo en el santuario patronal con motivo de las obras de emergencia tras los terremotos han permitido dejar al descubierto nuevos hallazgos que arrojan luz sobre el pasado islámico de este emplazamiento, que fue adaptado para ser transformado en templo cristiano.
Entre las novedades está la aparición de lo que sería un cuarto arco islámico (en el año 2000 se hallaron restos de otros tres). El nuevo arco se ha descubierto bajo el pavimento de una de las capillas laterales de la iglesia franciscana por la que continúa el muro islámico que apareció también en el 2000, cuando se realizaron obras de consolidación de la escalera de la Tota Pulchra.
Ese muro, construido con sillares de piedra caliza de color 'beige' blanquecino, dispuestos a soga y tizón, con una longitud de algo más de 11 metros, contaba con tres vanos en los que se pudieron determinar tres arcos: uno lobulado, otro de herradura y un tercero indeterminado por estar muy transformado.
En las iniciales investigaciones se pudo comprobar que en algunos de los arcos quedaban restos de la decoración de la época islámica, a base de franjas blancas que alternaban rojas en imitación de una sucesión de dovelas rojas y blancas. Son escasas las referencias de enlucidos conservados.
Durante la época bajomedieval el vano occidental fue remodelado, insertándose sillares que formaban un arco apuntado gótico de menor tamaño, mientras el arco central fue tapiado para colocar una estrecha ventana.
La investigación actual que llevan a cabo los arqueólogos Ana Pujante, Andrés Martínez y Juana Ponce -los dos últimos participantes en la primera excavación en el año 2000- ha sacado a la luz, como ya se ha indicado, el que puede ser cuarto arco de este muro islámico. Los indicios apuntan a que fue transformado en una ventana de la antigua iglesia.
Ahora se sigue la excavación hacia el exterior del edificio conventual para comprobar si el muro continua en esa dirección porque, dado el sistema constructivo islámico, debe existir un quinto arco, cuanto menos.
Tras estudiar este tramo de paramento, los expertos confirman que se trata de los restos de una obra homogénea, con empleo del aparejo de sillería a soga y tizón característico de la arquitectura califal, lo que permite fijar su construcción entre finales del siglo X y principios del XI.
El lugar en que se ubica el santuario patronal estuvo ocupado desde el siglo I después de Cristo por un establecimiento relacionado con la explotación agropecuaria. A finales del siglo X existió un importante edificio de carácter palacial. Lo mandó construir una persona con estrecha relación con el poder califal y que participaba de los gustos de la capital. Esta es la hipótesis que se contiene en los informes de las excavaciones.
Los arqueólogos añaden que es posible que la arquería descubierta diera acceso al salón meridional de un palacio, aunque no se han podido determinar sus dimensiones puesto que el muro se introduce por el este bajo las capillas de la actual iglesia, y por el otro extremo bajo lo que fue huerto del convento.
Como hipótesis, cuya confirmación dependerá de futuras excavaciones, se apunta a que el patio de este palacio estaría situado hacia el norte, ocupando lo que en la actualidad es el coro de la iglesia. Para Andrés Martínez Rodríguez, la leyenda que sitúa en este lugar el campamento del príncipe Alfonso durante la conquista de Lorca en 1244, del que no se ha hallado ninguna evidencia arqueológica, pudo surgir a partir de la repoblación de la zona en época bajomedieval, debido a la existencia de los restos del palacio califal.
La impronta cristiana
Tanto el muro islámico como otros restos del edificio palacial fueron reutilizados en la construcción de la ermita del siglo XV. La ermita primitiva pudo tener una planta rectangular con nave única, a la que se accedería desde el lado norte a través de una puerta formada por el vano de arco apuntado gótico. En las actuales excavaciones se ha encontrado el vano de una ventana y parte de uno de los muros de esa ermita, en uno de los cuales aparece una decoración de pintura mural que se está investigando.
La iglesia del primer convento pudo englobar la ermita en una de sus capillas. El edificio, al igual que los anteriores, resultó dañado por sucesivas riadas, en especial la de San Severo, en 1653, que arruinó totalmente el convento franciscano. Antes, en 1579, un terremoto hizo bascular el edificio islámico y se hundió su parte occidental unos ocho centímetros.

domingo, 28 de octubre de 2012

Cultura estudia reabrir el yacimiento arqueológico del Castillo de Calatrava (Ciudad Real)

El director general de Cultura y Patrimonio, Francisco Javier Morales, ha asegurado hoy que la Junta estudia, junto con el Ayuntamiento de Carrión de Calatrava (Ciudad Real), la reapertura de yacimiento arqueológico del Castillo de Calatrava la Vieja.
Según ha informado el Ayuntamiento, el director general de Cultura y Patrimonio ha realizado estas declaraciones durante la visita que, junto con otras 200 personas, ha realizado a este yacimiento arqueológico en el marco de las XIV Jornadas de Historia que se han celebrado en el municipio.
Javier Morales, que ha visitado el yacimiento junto a la alcaldesa carrionera, Ana María López, ha indicado que "el castillo de Calatrava la Vieja es de gran valor patrimonial y supone un revulsivo para Carrión y su comarca, por lo que compartimos con el ayuntamiento su importante apuesta por mejorar el conocimiento y reconocimiento de sus recursos culturales".
En este sentido, ha apuntado que "desde la Junta estamos colaborando con ellos, mano a mano, para que este Castillo tenga una mayor repercusión y sirva para dinamizar el patrimonio cultural y arquitectónico, que, unido a otros recursos de la zona en materia de gastronomía, enoturismo, hostelería y oferta cultural, permita mostrar una infraestructura turística que mejore el conocimiento de la zona y cree riqueza en Carrión".
El director general ha señalado que las negociaciones con el Ayuntamiento de Carrión para reabrir y gestionar las visitas al Castillo van "muy avanzadas".
Y ha añadido que ambas administraciones han visto "las necesidades mínimas" para reabrir cuanto antes esta infraestructura patrimonial y están trabajando conjuntamente con el Ayuntamiento y con la Mancomunidad Campo de Calatrava para hacerlo cuanto antes.
La alcaldesa de Carrión, Ana María López, ha insistido en las gestiones que el Ayuntamiento está realizando con la Junta para poner en valor la riqueza del parque arqueológico y que ha apuntado también que "van por buen camino".
El objetivo es que el consistorio asuma la gestión directa del parque, "algo que tenemos en estudio para organizar visitas privadas organizadas", ha concluido la alcaldesa.

sábado, 27 de octubre de 2012

«Las tumbas antropomorfas más relevantes de Asturias estaban en la Rúa» (Asturias)

El arqueólogo, director de la excavación de la ampliación del Bellas Artes, muestra el catálogo de objetos encontrados en el subsuelo del museo
Los objetos encontrados durante las excavaciones de la ampliación del Museo de Bellas Artes constituyen una muestra suficiente como para inaugurar una colección ovetense del siglo IX al XVII. El arqueólogo Rogelio Estrada lo dejó claro ayer durante su conferencia «Las excavaciones de Oviedo» en el Club Prensa Asturiana de LA NUEVA ESPAÑA, dentro del ciclo de charlas de la Sociedad Ovetense de Festejos, SOF.

De forma didáctica, gracias a una proyección de fotografías, y ante un numeroso público, el director de las excavaciones realizadas en los solares de los edificios que ahora forman parte del Bellas Artes, mostró el catálogo de objetos y tumbas antropomorfas halladas en los trabajos de ampliación que comenzaron en 2002 y finalizaron en la segunda mitad del pasado año. Vajillas de Faro
juguetes, cántaros fabricados en Miranda (Avilés), loza importada de Portugal, Italia, Holanda e Inglaterra; piezas de azabache y tumbas de forma antropomórfica son las piezas más relevantes del inventario.

Estrada articuló su discurso de forma ordenada, de acuerdo a la numeración de los edificios que componen la ampliación del Bellas Artes. Los portales 10, 12, 14 y 16 de la Rúa, y el inmueble que hace esquina con la plaza de la Catedral.

La casa de los Solís-Carbajal, reformada en el siglo XVII, escondía un importante secreto. «Durante la reforma los dueños sellaron una letrina a la que habían tirado toda clase de objetos, desde platos a loza de más allá de nuestras fronteras», explicó el arqueólogo. Para Estrada, este hallazgo desmiente una de las premisas históricas sobre Oviedo. «Muchas corrientes históricas afirman que Asturias estaba fuera de los grandes ejes comerciales europeos, pero está claro que las familias adineradas tenían acceso a piezas exquisitas italianas o portuguesas entre otras», matizó.

En el número 12 de la Rúa, conocido como la casa de Omaña, los arqueólogos descubrieron los restos de un pequeño taller de azabache. «Las piezas encontradas son la prueba fundamental del gran florecimiento que experimentó la industria del azabache en Asturias a finales del siglo XV y principios del XVI», explicó Estrada.

En el portal de al lado, los trabajos para la ampliación del Bellas Artes dejaron al descubierto uno de los mayores descubrimientos de la excavación: un conjunto «notabilísimo» de tumbas. Las pruebas del carbono 14 dataron los enterramientos entre el siglo IX y el X. «Algunas de las tumbas antropomorfas más relevantes de Asturias estaban en la Rúa», afirmó Estrada, que explicó que «las tumbas fueron extraídas y se encuentran a la espera de un depósito definitivo».

Estrada también alabó el trabajo de su compañero Carlos Álvaro en las labores de restauración de los hallazgos, «en los que invirtió varios meses de esfuerzo».

La cronista oficial de Oviedo, Carmen Ruiz-Tilve, y la concejala de Festejos, Belén Fernández, asistieron a la conferencia. Ruiz-Tilve se encargó además de presentar al arqueólogo a los oyentes. «Gracias al trabajo de Estrada los ciudadanos descubrimos un Oviedo nuevo, ajeno para la mayoría».

Budapest persigue y atrapa a Cézanne

Tras 20 años, el Museo de Bellas Artes abre la exposición más espectacular sobre el pintor

Numerosas obras maestras figuran entre el centenar de piezas

Casi siempre resultan indescifrables los vaivenes del destino. Aquellos que en las postrimerías del XIX llevaron al artista maldito, al hombre aislado mental y profesionalmente, a apostarse frente a aquella montaña con la obcecación de, una y otra vez, reducir con el repetitivo movimiento de su pincel su poderosa masa a su más perfecta abstracción geométrica. También los que introdujeron en la taberna al hijo del banquero que prefirió enriquecerse frente a un lienzo para capturar en un momento trivial a unos jugadores de cartas abstraídos, melancólicos, condensados en su forma cilíndrica más estilizada, y a la vez, tan profusa. O los que hicieron autorretratarse al pintor con el rostro severo y maduro, cuya obra solo se le reconoció ya cercana su muerte.
Aquel hombre, Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), que en su soledad pudo hallar el arte de la filosofía y de la forma pura, precursor del cubismo y a la vez estandarte del naturalismo, desarrollador del posimpresionismo, es protagonista de una gran retrospectiva sobre su trabajo, inaugurada el jueves en el Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Budapest. La ironía es doble, pues no solo encuentra la memoria el creador rechazado sino que, además, lo hace desde una perspectiva radicalmente diferente a aquella con la que se ha comprendido su obra de manera póstuma, la de su aportación fundamental a la apertura hacia la modernidad.
Pinturas, acuarelas y dibujos proceden de más de cuarenta instituciones
La exposición Cézanne y el pasado. Tradición y creatividad presenta, hasta el próximo 13 de febrero en la capital húngara, un centenar de obras entre pinturas, acuarelas y dibujos. El espectacular conjunto procede de más de cuarenta instituciones de todo el mundo (desde el Louvre hasta el Albertina vienés, pasando por museos y colecciones de EE UU, la Tate londinense o el Thyssen-Bornemisza madrileño).
El privilegiado recorrido por el planeta Cézanne está acompañado de otras cuatro decenas de piezas de artistas de todas las épocas para, en una vuelta de tornas abarcar la amplitud del trabajo de toda una vida comprendido, por gracia de una posmodernidad que rompió con el relato lineal de la historia, desde su relación con el pasado.
Probablemente el mismo Cézanne se asombraría hoy al ver cómo tan lejos de su luminosa y amada Provenza natal, en un Budapest hermosamente gris y pesante, sus cuadros se admiran como los de uno de los más grandes creadores de todos los tiempos. “El más influyente pintor para el arte moderno”, en palabras de Nicholas Penny, director de la National Gallery londinense, en el acto de presentación de la muestra.
La retrospectiva, preparada en cinco años, ha costado un millón de euros
No ha sido fácil el camino para los responsables del Museo de Bellas Artes de Budapest hasta poder poner en pie semejante cúmulo de tesoros: varias versiones de La montaña de Sainte-Victoire (las más importantes son las procedentes del Courtauld Institute de Londres y de la Phillips Collection de Washington), otras dos de Los jugadores de cartas (una del Museo de Orsay de París y otra del Metropolitan de Nueva York), Las bañistas (Chicago Art Institute) y Madame Cézanne en sillón rojo (Museo de Bellas Artes de Boston) son solo algunas de las obras maestras presentes.
La exposición tiene más mérito aún si se tiene en cuenta el carácter relativamente humilde del museo de Budapest en comparación con los grandes templos del arte a nivel internacional. Sus responsables han sido capaces de establecer una compacta y millonaria red de espónsors, concretamente diversas empresas subsidiarias de una gran aseguradora internacional. Esa red ha aportado casi medio millón de euros que, sumados al apoyo del Estado tras un acuerdo total del Parlamento húngaro (Gobierno y oposición) han logrado reunir el millón de euros largo que, como explicó László Baán, el director de la institución, ha costado organizar la retrospectiva. El montante total de los seguros para garantizar el viaje de tal cúmulo de obras maestras, asciende, según datos del museo, a más de mil millones de euros

Dividida en tres partes ordenadas cronológicamente, la exposición comisariada por Judit Geskó, directora de la colección del Museo a partir de 1800 (quien, por cierto, llevaba 25 años empeñada en llevar a buen puerto esta idea, y otros cinco trabajando sin parar en ella) comienza con las obras de juventud de un Cézanne sombrío y dolido. Junto a sus creaciones, pueden verse piezas de Miguel Ángel, de Poussin, de Goya o de Braque, de las que el artista posimpresionista creó estudios y copias y que dejan patente la enorme influencia que ejercieron sobre él. La segunda sección se adentra en su faceta de paisajista, por la que es más célebre, aunque sin dejar de lado sus inmortales bodegones o sus expresivos retratos simplificados. Estos últimos componen la tercera y última porción del recorrido, que incluye además de las antes mencionadas, obras de Rafael, de Tiziano, Bernini o Van Dyck.
Prueba de la importancia de este acontecimiento museístico fue la relevancia de los invitados a la inauguración, cuyo representante más ilustre fue el primer ministro húngaro, Viktor Orbán. Su discurso fue más que elocuente para tiempos como estos de recortes en lo cultural: “Hay gente que piensa que en malos tiempos no hay que invertir en cultura, pero nosotros creemos lo contrario. La vida no es solo la lucha por el día a día: la cultura puede mostrar la grandeza, y esa es la prueba de nuestro orgullo nacional”.

 Datos para una exposición
La muestra está formada por un centenar de pinturas, acuarelas y dibujos del maestro Cézanne, acompañados por otras cuarenta de diferentes artistas de todas las épocas.

Una red de espónsors ha aportado medio millón de euros y el Estado húngaro otro medio para financiar esta ambiciosa exposición.

Los seguros para cubrir los desplazamientos de las obras maestras asciende a más de mil millones de euros.

Judit Geskó ha invertido cinco años de trabajo para levantar la muestra.

viernes, 26 de octubre de 2012

Hallan la estatua humana de cerámica más antigua de la península Ibérica

  • Fue hallada por arqueólogos de la Universidad de Barcelona en Begues.
  • Tiene 6.500 años de antigüedad y estaba en la cueva de Can Sadurní.
Arqueólogos de la Universidad de Barcelona (UB) han hallado en Begues (Barcelona) la estatuilla prehistórica de cerámica más antigua de la península Ibérica, un objeto con unos 6.500 años de antigüedad y que permanecía oculto en la cueva de Can Sadurní
El fragmento hallado corresponde al tronco, el cuello y uno de los brazos de una estatua humana que, según el director de la excavación, Manel Edo, respondería al concepto de "ídolo neolítico" con una fuerte carga simbólica y espiritual
La figura, que es también la estatuilla humana más antigua de la prehistoria de Cataluña, tiene 8 centímetros de altura y corresponde probablemente a un hombre, algo poco frecuente ya que el 80% de las representaciones similares en el Mediterráneo y en Europa son imágenes femeninas.
Los dos brazos están perforados verticalmente, lo que denota que se trataría de una figura suspendida de un cordón o de una correa de cuero para llevarla en el cuello o colgarla en algún lugar del interior de la cueva.
El director de la excavación ha explicado que la estatua se sitúa en una época en la que había "una cultura sedentaria, con ganado y cultivos, capaz de almacenar el grano y de extraer minerales de las montañas del Garraf".
Las excavaciones arqueológicas en Can Sadurní se iniciaron hace 34 años y, entre otros hallazgos de la época neolítica, destaca la identificación de las evidencias más antiguas del procesamiento de cerveza en Europa lo que la convierten en "una cueva muy importante a nivel de patrimonio material", según el director del Museo Arqueológico de Catalunya, Xavier Llovera.
Hallazgos como el del ídolo o el del uso de la cerveza son indicios, según los expertos, de que Can Sadurní era un lugar de encuentro para los habitantes de las áreas más cercanas y que en la cueva se podrían haber celebrado banquetes y rituales simbólicos


Complete Mitochondrial Genome Sequences of Ancient New Zealanders

ScienceDaily (Oct. 22, 2012) — In a landmark study, University of Otago researchers have achieved the feat of sequencing complete mitochondrial genomes for members of what was likely to be one of the first groups of Polynesians to settle New Zealand and have revealed a surprising degree of genetic variation among these pioneering voyagers.
The Otago researchers' breakthrough means that similar DNA detective work with samples from various modern and ancient Polynesian populations might now be able to clear up competing theories about the pathways of their great migration across the Pacific to New Zealand.
Results from the team's successful mapping of complete mitochondrial genomes of four of the Rangitane iwi tupuna (ancestors) who were buried at a large village on Marlborough's Wairau Bar more than 700 years ago will be published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Study director Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith explains that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is only inherited through the mother's side and can be used to trace maternal lineages and provide insights into ancient origins and migration routes.
"We found that three of the four individuals had no recent maternal ancestor in common, indicating that these pioneers were not simply from one tight-knit kin group, but instead included families that were not directly maternally related. This gives a fascinating new glimpse into the social structure of the first New Zealanders and others taking part in the final phases of the great Polynesian migration across the Pacific."
The researchers discovered that the four genomes shared two unique genetic markers found in modern Maori while also featuring several previously unidentified Polynesian genetic markers. Intriguingly, they also discovered that at least one of the settlers carried a genetic mutation associated with insulin resistance, which leads to Type 2 diabetes.
"Overall, our results indicate that there is likely to be significant mtDNA variation among New Zealand's first settlers. However, a lack of genetic diversity has previously been characterised in modern-day Maori and this was thought to reflect uniformity in the founding population.
"It may be rather that later decimation caused by European diseases was an important factor, or perhaps there is actually still much more genetic variation today that remains to be discovered. Possibly, it may have been missed due to most previous work only focusing on a small portion of the mitochondrial genome rather than complete analyses like ours."
Professor Matisoo-Smith and colleagues including ancient DNA analysis expert Dr Michael Knapp used Otago's state-of-the-art ancient DNA research facilities to apply similar techniques that other scientists recently employed to sequence the Neanderthal genome.
"We are very excited to be the first researchers to successfully sequence complete mitochondrial genomes from ancient Polynesian samples. Until the advent of next generation sequencing techniques, the highly degraded state of DNA in human remains of this age has not allowed such genomes to be sequenced," she says.
Now that the researchers have identified several unique genetic markers in New Zealand's founding population, work can begin to obtain and sequence other ancient and modern DNA samples from Pacific islands and search for these same markers.
"If such research is successful, this may help identify the specific island homelands of the initial canoes that arrived in Aotearoa/New Zealand 700 years ago," she says.
This research is the most recent output from the Wairau Bar Research Group, a collaboration between Otago researchers and Rangitane-ki-Wairau. The Otago research team is led by archaeologist Professor Richard Walter (Department of Anthropology and Archaeology), and biological anthropologists Associate Professor Hallie Buckley and Professor Matisoo-Smith (Department of Anatomy).
Background information
First excavated over 70 years ago, the Wairau Bar site is one of the most important archaeological sites in New Zealand because of its age and the range of material found there.
It is the site of a fourteenth century village occupied by some of the first generations of people who settled New Zealand. The material excavated from the site, most of which is now cared for in the collections at Canterbury Museum, provided the first conclusive evidence that New Zealand was originally settled from East Polynesia.
This discovery was first reported to the NZ public in 1950 by the late Dr Roger Duff, Director of Canterbury Museum, in his ground breaking book The Moahunter Period of Maori Culture. The principal evidence for his conclusions was in the artefacts found; however, the site also contained a large number of human burials.
Between 1938 and 1959 a total of 44 graves were excavated from the site and the grave contents taken to Canterbury Museum for study. For many years Marlborough Iwi, Rangitane, sought to have the remains repatriated so they could be reburied in the site and an agreement was reached with Canterbury Museum.
The reburial took place in April 2009, following earlier archaeological investigations of the site undertaken in collaboration with Rangitane.
A University of Otago-led multidisciplinary team of scientists have been analysing tooth samples recovered from the koiwi tangata (human remains) of the Rangitane iwi tupuna prior to their reburial. This work includes studies of the diet and health of the tupuna.

Are bodies of 10,000 lost warriors from Battle of Hastings buried in this field?

Historian believes the 10,000 victims of the Battle of Hastings may be buried in a field one mile north west of the official site at Battle.

Are bodies of 10,000 lost warriors from Battle of Hastings buried in this field?

Historian believes the 10,000 victims of the Battle of Hastings may be buried in a field one mile north west of the official site at Battle.

10,000 lost bodies from Battle of Hastings could be buried in nearby field
The North side of Caldbec Hill, identifiable by the white windmill, seen center top of the image. The line of trees at the bottom is the site of a hudge ditch where 10,000 warriors are believed to be buried. Photo: BNPS
The site of where the Battle of Hastings has been commemorated for the last 1,000 years is in the wrong place, it has been claimed.
Ever since the 1066 battle that led to the Norman Conquest, history has recorded the event as happening at what is now Battle Abbey in the East Sussex town.
But although some 10,000 men are believed to have been killed in the historic conflict, no human remains or artefects from the battle have ever been found at the location.
This has given rise to several historians to examine alternative sites for the battle that was a decisive victory for William the Conqueror and saw the death of King Harold.
Now historian and author John Grehan believes he has finally found the actual location - on a steep hill one mile north west of Battle

It is documented that Harold assembled his English army on Caldbec Hill before advancing on Senlac Hill (Battle Hill) a mile away to meet the invading Normans.
But Mr Grehan believes his research shows Harold never left his defensive hilltop position and the Normans took the battle to the English.
He has studied contemporaneous documents in the national archives and built up a dossier of circumstantial evidence that, when put together, make a more than convincing argument in his favour.
Witness accounts from 1066 state the battle was fought on steep and unploughed terrain, consistent with Caldbec Hill. Senlac Hill was cultivated and had gentle slopes.
The Normans erected a cairn of stones on the battle site to commemorate their victory, known as a Mount-joie in French. The summit of Caldbec Hill is still today called Mountjoy.
One English source from the time, John of Worcester, stated the battle was fought nine miles from Hastings, the same distance as Caldbec Hill. Senlac Hill is eight miles away.
Harold is supposed to have abandoned his high position to meet William on lower ground, a tactical move that makes no sense at all as he would have been moving away from his reinforcements.
Furthermore, Mr Grehan believes he has identified the site of a mass grave where the fallen soldiers were buried after the battle at a ditch at the foot of Caldbec Hill.
He is now calling for an archaeological dig to take place there straight away.
If he is proven right, the history books published over the last millennium may have to be re-written.
Mr Grehan, a 61-year-old historian from Shoreham, West Sussex, has made his arguments in a new book about to be published called 'The Battle of Hastings - The Uncomfortable Truth'.
He said: "I assumed everything was known about the Battle of Hastings but I found that almost nothing is known by way of fact.
"The evidence pointing towards Caldbec Hill as the scene of the battle is, at present, circumstantial, but it is still more than exists for the current Battle Abbey site.
"Excavations have been carried out at Battle Abbey and remnants pre-dating the battle were found but nothing relating to the conquest.
"The Battle of Lewis took place 200 years later 20 miles down the road and they dig up bodies by the cart load there.
"Some 10,000 men died at the Battle of Hastings; there has to be a mass grave somewhere.
"You would have also expected to find considerable pieces of battle material like shields, helmets, swords, axes, bits of armour.
"Having carried out the research, there are 11 main points which suggest the battle was fought in the wrong place.
"Harold is supposed to have abandoned his assembly point on Caldbec Hill to take up a position on the lower ridge of Battle Hill even though many of his men had still not arrived.
"This means that even though he could see the Normans approaching he moved further away from his incoming reinforcements. This makes no sense at all.
"The primary sources state Harold was taken by surprise.
"This means he could not have been advancing to meet the Normans as his troops would have been in some kind of formation.
"The only possible interpretation of this can be that Harold was not expecting to fight at that time and was taken unawares at the concentration point with his army unformed.
"This must mean that the battle was fought at the English army's assembly point."
Mr Grehan said he believes the human remains from the battle were hastily rolled down the hill and buried in an open ditch by the victorious Normans.
He said: "Two days after the battle the Normans moved on towards Winchester. They had two days to get rid of the thousands of bodies. You can't dig that many graves in such a short space of time.
"At the bottom of Caldbec Hill is Malfose ditch, I believe the bodies were rolled down the hill and dumped in this ditch which was filled in.
"A proper archaeological dig of that ditch now needs to happen.
"Whatever the outcome, it doesn't make a difference which hill the battle was fought on.
"But history books may need to be re-written if I am proved right."
Roy Porter, the regional curator for English Heritage which owns Battle Abbey, said they were obliged to look into alternative theories for the battle site.
But he said the spot the abbey is built on was not the most obvious at the time as it required major work to dig into the hill.
He said: "Archaeological evidence shows that the abbey's impractical location required extensive alterations to the hill on which it sits.
"Any suggestion that the battle occurred elsewhere needs to explain why this difficult location for the abbey was chosen instead.
"The tradition that the abbey was founded on the site of the Battle of Hastings is based on a number of historical sources, including William of Malmesbury and is documented before 1120.
"It would be premature to comment on Mr Grehan's thesis until the book is published.
"The interpretation of our sites is subject to periodic revision and this process involves our historians reassessing the available evidence and considering new theories.
"Battle Abbey will be the subject of this work in due course but at the present time there is little reason to discount the scholarly consensus regarding the site."


2,000 Years of history: Paris in 3D

The latest project from Dassault Systèmes with the help of historians and archaeologists is the remarkable Paris 3D Saga, an interactive model that guides you through two millennia of Paris’ history.
You are taken through the French capital at various stages of its’ development from 52 BC Gallic Oppida through the Roman city and on to the present day. You can witness the construction of the Bastille and Notre Dame and walk through winding stone streets in the middle ages and then visit the 1889 World’s Fair to see the Eiffel Tower just after completion.
The Paris 3D Saga let’s you experience the city like you have never seen it before. Go on a journey through more than 2000 years of history: discover Paris’ most famous monuments, with new 3D reconstructions carried out with historians, and HD clips of the documentary series “Paris, the great saga”.

Immersive experience

“This is the first time we have a digital model of Paris, and this is a big advantage over what we’d had in the past,” says Mehdi Tayoubi, VP of design and experimental strategy at Dassault Systèmes. “It can be adapted as archaeologists make new discoveries. It’s a kind of living world; we’re going to add other monuments, make other representations.”
Users can take guided tours from the Paris 3D web browser or on the corresponding iPad app.
The experience was revealed earlier this month in Paris as part of a giant virtual reality show, featuring nine screens with different clips of the city during various periods with 15,000 Parisians attending the launch.
“We demonstrated that virtual reality is a real tool for research, education and cultural exploration for the general public,” Mehdi says.
Most of the documents used for Paris 3D were 2D drawings or black and white photographs, so the archaeologists had to fill in the blanks.
Before creating Paris 3D, which the Dassault team spent two years building, they had already created Giza 3D , released in May 2012 that explored and allowed the virtual exploration of the Giza Plateau in Egypt.
The Paris 3D project is logical continuation of the Giza 3D project,” Mehdi says. “It was a great opportunity for us as a French company to collaborate, lead a scientific project and see Paris in the past like never before.”
Mehdi says Dassault has now received requests from several cities to create virtual reality versions of their histories, to be used in documentary films, set up in museums and to add a new dimension to mobile apps.

Augmented reality book

In addition there is a 3D reality book, which presents the story of Paris for the first time in augmented reality.
Readers use their computer webcams in combination with some of the illustrations in the book and get a true in-depth look at Paris over the centuries, with 3D animation and augmented reality techniques the past literally comes to life.

Skeleton at Llanbedrgoch, Anglesey, sheds light on Viking Age

The discovery of a skeleton in a shallow grave has raised new questions about Wales in the age of the Vikings.
The skeleton, found at Llanbedrgoch, Anglesey, has forced experts to revise the theory that five earlier skeletons were the victims of a Viking raid.
Evidence now suggests the men may have spent the first part of their lives in Scandinavia.
Experts say artefacts discovered confirm Llanbedrgoch as a 10th Century manufacture and trade centre.
The site was discovered in 1994, and in the late 1990s, five bodies - two adolescents, two adult males and one woman - were found.
The bodies were thought to be victims of Viking raiding, which occurred throughout the Viking period (850 to 1,000).
However, the new skeleton discovered this summer was buried in a shallow grave, which National Museum Wales archaeologists say was unusual for the period.
They say the "non-Christian orientation of the body" and its treatment "point to distinctions being made in the burial practices for Christians and other communities during the 10th Century".
Analysis indicates the males were not local to Anglesey, but may have spent their early years - at least up to the age of seven - in north west Scotland or Scandinavia.
Excavations this year also produced 7th Century silver and bronze sword and scabbard fittings.
Archaeologists believe it suggests the presence of a "warrior elite and the recycling of military equipment" during a period of rivalry and campaigning between kingdoms Northumbria and Mercia.
Excavation director, Dr Mark Redknap, said: "Other finds from the excavation, which include semi-worked silver, silver-casting waste and a fragment of an Islamic silver coin - exchanged via trade routes out of central Asia to Scandinavia and beyond - confirm Llanbedrgoch's importance during the 10th Century as a place for the manufacture and trade of commodities."


Bali’s ‘largest’ ancient Hindu temple unearthed

Denpasar, Indonesia - Construction workers in Bali have discovered what is thought to be the biggest ancient Hindu temple ever found on the Indonesian island, archaeologists said.
The workers were digging a drain in the island's capital Denpasar at a Hindu study centre when they came across the remains of the stone temple.
They reported the discovery to the Bali archaeology office, which then unearthed substantial foundations of a structure that the excavation team believes dates from around the 13th to 15th centuries.
“We think this is the biggest ancient Hindu temple ever discovered in Bali,” Wayan Suantika, the head of the team, said late Wednesday.
He said the excavation was still in progress and the team did not yet know whether enough stones would be unearthed to allow them to reconstruct the temple.
The construction workers on Sunday found the first stone one metre underground, which was one metre long, 40 centimetres deep and 40 wide, said Ida Resi Bujangga Wisnawa Ganda Kusuma, owner of the Hindu centre.
The excavation team then found what they believe is the foundation of the structure's 20-metre-long east wing, Suantika said.
The popular resort island is a pocket of Hindu culture in a country with the biggest Muslim population in the world. - Sapa-AFP 



Archaeologists find burnt stucco floor related to astronomical event 1,350 years ago

TECOZAUTLA, MEXICO.- During the excavations in Pañhu, an archaeological zone which will soon open its doors to the public in the municipality of Tecozautla, Hidalgo, archaeologists registered a burn stucco floor, evidence that its main pyramid was desacralized approximately 1,350 years ago. This coincides with an astronomical event which was thought, by its inhabitants, to be a cataclysm.

Archaeologist Fernando Lopez Aguilar, director of the site’s investigation project promoted by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH – Conaculta), informed that there was a solar eclipse at sunrise the 3rd of August in the year 650 AD.

“To these old societies, the eclipse must have represented a catastrophe which is why they made sacrifices in order to ‘keep the star alive’, since they believed the black sun or hell’s sun had imposed on their sun ‘a giver of life’. This event generated a gradual abandonment in Teotihuacan and also had repercussions in Pañhu”, the investigator explained.

This phenomenon, Lopez Aguilar said, was interpreted as an omen to leading to the end of the cycle, so in Pañhu they decided to desacralize the main pyramid –to the north, over the plateau where the site is located– and to dig and extract the offerings to the tutelary god. This god was probably the Old Fire God, also known as Huehueteotl, Xiuhtecuhtli or the name he was called by the Otomi people, Otontecuhtlu.

Over the remains of this construction (400 – 650 AD) they built another in a different style which was appropriate to the architecture of the Late Classic period (650 – 900 AD) in the region of Huichapan, where other settlements where distributed (this includes Pañhu). The Pañhu where characterized for settling over plateaus and for keeping extensive economic links. Such has been confirmed by the finding of the turquoise originated from New Mexico, the jadeite of Valle de Motagua (Guatemala) and shells from the Gulf of Mexico.

This area, according to the archaeologist, was also the scene where one of the most important myths (The Snake) of Mesoamerican culture was created. This is where the god Huitzilopochtli defeated his brothers, the Centzohuiznahua and the Coyolxauhqui.

“In the territory that goes from the Cerro del Aguila, next to Pañhu, to Cerro del Astillero (towards the southeast and also identified as the mythical Coatepec), a conflict ensued which in pre Hispanic times would give this region the name ‘Teotlapan’, ‘Land of the Gods’, and which in modern day is Mezquital.”

The Pañhu Archaeological Project team infers the former vision that the Otomi people contributed very little to the Mesoamerican culture “can be attributed to the dominant culture: the Mexica, although Otomi speaking villages that inhabited this place possibly since the year 400 AD, were already identified with these sacred places (Cerro del Aguila, Coatepec, among other) and hid their knowledge and their customs”.

After the archaeological work carried out in the 80’s, when a preliminary exploration of Pañhu structures was done in the Valle del Mezquital Project of ENAH, and after a period of five years of uninterrupted labors (2007 – 2012), this archaeological zone is ready to open to the public. The site will have an interpretative hall which will work with a wind turbine and a solar panel, self-sustainable energy sources

martes, 23 de octubre de 2012

Museo de Penn devela misterio de restaurar momias


    El Museo Penn está desenvolviendo el misterio detrás de la restauración de momias, ofreciéndole al público una muestra inusual de los esfuerzos de investigadores por preservar reliquias de la antigua Egipto.Momias de humanos y animales, así como un ataúd con complicados grabados, son algunos de los artículos sometidos a tratamiento y reparación en el recién instalado Laboratorio de Artefactos de la institución en Filadelfia.
    Albergada en una galería especial, el área de trabajo con pared de vidrio les permite a los visitantes compartir "la emoción de descubrir", dijo el director del museo, Julian Siggers.
    "Muestra el trabajo que de hecho se hace entre bambalinas en estas galerías", añadió.
    Los visitantes pueden ver a miembros del personal usar microscopios, brochas y otras herramientas para inspeccionar, estudiar y preservar objetos que incluyen la momia de una niña de 5 años, varias cabezas humanas, un sarcófago colorido pero dañado y la pintura de una pared de un mausoleo.
    Pantallas planas exhiben imágenes ampliadas de las reliquias mientras éstas son examinadas. Los curadores también apartarán tiempo dos veces al día para responder preguntas del público.
    El museo de arqueología y antropología ha identificado 30 objetos a ser próximamente restaurados de su colección egipcia de 42.000 piezas. Muchos de los artículos en el laboratorio no se han exhibido antes debido a su pobre condición, dijo la curadora Molly Gleeson.
    Entre los primeros proyectos de Gleeson está preservar las momias de un gato, un halcón y un ibis. Describió los envoltorios de hilo del halcón como deshilachados y pulverulentos, y apuntó que su precaria cabeza adjunta debía ser estabilizada antes de que la momia pueda exhibirse.
    También se estudian tablas de madera inscritas con jeroglíficos que comprenden el ataúd de un egipcio llamado Ahanakht, de alrededor del año 2000 a.C. Los esfuerzos de restauración llevaron a los investigadores a descubrir inscripciones ocultas en las grietas, dijo David Silverman, curador en jefe de la sección egipcia del museo.
    La curadora principal Lynn Grant dijo que los miembros de su equipo experimentan continuamente una sensación de asombro mientras trabajan con artefactos históricos.
    "Es un placer, con este nuevo espacio, poder compartir eso con nuestros visitantes y darle a la gente una idea de lo que ocurre entre bambalinas", dijo Grant

     Foto: La foto muestra una inscripción jeroglífica sobre una pieza de madera que compone parte del ataúd de un egipcio llamado Ahanakht, de alrededor del año 2000 aC en el Museo Penn en Philadelphia.
    Jacqueline Larma / AP

    Read more here: http://www.elnuevoherald.com/2012/10/22/1327906/museo-de-penn-revela-metodos-de.html#storylink=cpy

    Breakthrough in world's oldest undeciphered writing

    The world's oldest undeciphered writing system, which has so far defied attempts to uncover its 5,000-year-old secrets, could be about to be decoded by Oxford University academics.
    This international research project is already casting light on a lost bronze age middle eastern society where enslaved workers lived on rations close to the starvation level.
    "I think we are finally on the point of making a breakthrough," says Jacob Dahl, fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford and director of the Ancient World Research Cluster.
    Dr Dahl's secret weapon is being able to see this writing more clearly than ever before.
    In a room high up in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, above the Egyptian mummies and fragments of early civilisations, a big black dome is clicking away and flashing out light.
    This device, part sci-fi, part-DIY, is providing the most detailed and high quality images ever taken of these elusive symbols cut into clay tablets. This is Indiana Jones with software.
    It's being used to help decode a writing system called proto-Elamite, used between around 3200BC and 2900BC in a region now in the south west of modern Iran.
    And the Oxford team think that they could be on the brink of understanding this last great remaining cache of undeciphered texts from the ancient world.
    Tablet computer Dr Dahl, from the Oriental Studies Faculty, shipped his image-making device on the Eurostar to the Louvre Museum in Paris, which holds the most important collection of this writing.
    Jacob Dahl at the Ashmolean Museum Jacob Dahl wants the public and other academics to help with an online decipherment of the texts
    The clay tablets were put inside this machine, the Reflectance Transformation Imaging System, which uses a combination of 76 separate photographic lights and computer processing to capture every groove and notch on the surface of the clay tablets.
    It allows a virtual image to be turned around, as though being held up to the light at every possible angle.
    These images will be publicly available online, with the aim of using a kind of academic crowdsourcing.
    He says it's misleading to think that codebreaking is about some lonely genius suddenly understanding the meaning of a word. What works more often is patient teamwork and the sharing of theories. Putting the images online should accelerate this process.
    But this is painstaking work. So far Dr Dahl has deciphered 1,200 separate signs, but he says that after more than 10 years study much remains unknown, even such basic words as "cow" or "cattle".
    He admits to being "bitten" by this challenge. "It's an unknown, uncharted territory of human history," he says.
    Extinct language But why has this writing proved so difficult to interpret?
    Dr Dahl suspects he might have part of the answer. He's discovered that the original texts seem to contain many mistakes - and this makes it extremely tricky for anyone trying to find consistent patterns.


    • Proto-Elamite is the name given to a writing system developed in an area that is now in south-western Iran
    • It was adopted about 3200BC and was borrowed from neighbouring Mesopotamia
    • It was written from right to left in wet clay tablets
    • There are more than a thousand surviving tablets in this writing
    • The biggest group of such texts was collected by 19th Century French archaeologists and brought back to the Louvre
    • While other ancient writing, such as Egyptian hieroglyphics, Sumerian and Mesopotamian, have been deciphered - attempts with proto-Elamite have proved unsuccessful
    He believes this was not just a case of the scribes having a bad day at the office. There seems to have been an unusual absence of scholarship, with no evidence of any lists of symbols or learning exercises for scribes to preserve the accuracy of the writing.
    This first case of educational underinvestment proved fatal for the writing system, which was corrupted and then completely disappeared after only a couple of hundred years. "It's an early example of a technology being lost," he says.
    "The lack of a scholarly tradition meant that a lot of mistakes were made and the writing system may eventually have become useless."
    Making it even harder to decode is the fact that it's unlike any other ancient writing style. There are no bi-lingual texts and few helpful overlaps to provide a key to these otherwise arbitrary looking dashes and circles and symbols.
    This is a writing system - and not a spoken language - so there's no way of knowing how words sounded, which might have provided some phonetic clues.
    Dr Dahl says that one of the really important historical significances of this proto-Elamite writing is that it was the first ever recorded case of one society adopting writing from another neighbouring group.
    But infuriatingly for the codebreakers, when these proto-Elamites borrowed the concept of writing from the Mesopotamians, they made up an entirely different set of symbols.
    Why they should make the intellectual leap to embrace writing and then at the same time re-invent it in a different local form remains a puzzle.
    But it provides a fascinating snapshot of how ideas can both spread and change.
    Mr One Hundred In terms of written history, this is the very remote past. But there is also something very direct and almost intimate about it too.
    You can see fingernail marks in the clay. These neat little symbols and drawings are clearly the work of an intelligent mind.
    Inside dome of imaging device A set of 76 lights are used in the capturing of images of surface marks in the ancient tablets
    These were among the first attempts by our human ancestors to try to make a permanent record of their surroundings. What we're doing now - my writing and your reading - is a direct continuation.
    But there are glimpses of their lives to suggest that these were tough times. It wasn't so much a land of milk and honey, but porridge and weak beer.
    Even without knowing all the symbols, Dr Dahl says it's possible to work out the context of many of the messages on these tablets.
    The numbering system is also understood, making it possible to see that much of this information is about accounts of the ownership and yields from land and people. They are about property and status, not poetry.
    This was a simple agricultural society, with a ruling household. Below them was a tier of powerful middle-ranking figures and further below were the majority of workers, who were treated like "cattle with names".
    Their rulers have titles or names which reflect this status - the equivalent of being called "Mr One Hundred", he says - to show the number of people below him.
    It's possible to work out the rations given to these farm labourers.
    Dr Dahl says they had a diet of barley, which might have been crushed into a form of porridge, and they drank weak beer.
    The amount of food received by these farm workers hovered barely above the starvation level.
    However the higher status people might have enjoyed yoghurt, cheese and honey. They also kept goats, sheep and cattle.
    For the "upper echelons, life expectancy for some might have been as long as now", he says. For the poor, he says it might have been as low as in today's poorest countries.
    The tablets also have surprises. Even though there are plenty of pictures of animals and mythical creatures, Dr Dahl says there are no representations of the human form of any kind. Not even a hand or an eye.
    Was this some kind of cultural or religious taboo?
    Dr Dahl remains passionate about what this work says about such societies, digging into the deepest roots of civilisation. This is about where so much begins. For instance, proto-Elamite was the first writing ever to use syllables.
    If Macbeth talked about the "last syllable of recorded time", the proto-Elamites were there for the first.
    And with sufficient support, Dr Dahl says that within two years this last great lost writing could be fully understood.
    Thank you for the very many offers of help. We've had so many that we're closing this for now and will go through those submitted. A number have been forwarded to Dr Dahl. Here is a small selection of your comments.

    Top ten archaeological finds in Ireland - PHOTOS Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/Top-ten-archaeological-finds-in-Ireland---PHOTOS-174391661.html#ixzz2A7NJfA2N

    Secrets of Ireland’s ancient history discovered and preserved

    IrishCentral Staff Writer
    Ireland has a rich history of stunning archaeological finds. From jewelry, to people, to ancient sites, here are some of the more recent artifacts discovered in and around Ireland.

    1. Clonycavan Man
    Clonycavan Man was discovered in Meath in February of 2003 after its remains dropped off of a peat cutting machine, reports the BBC. Most interesting about him is that his hair appeared to have a sort of hair gel in it, which slicked his hair up into a mohawk. The ingredients of the “gel” were traced back to either France or Spain. Judging by the deep wounds in his skull, Clonycavan Man appeared to have been brutally murdered, supposedly by an axe approximately 2300 years ago. Clonycavan Man has found a new home and is on display at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

    2.Oldcroghan Man
    Oldcroghan Man was named for the location he was found, Croghan Hill in Offaly. This mummy had the distinguishing traits of being 6’6, quite tall for the time period he existed during, as well as neatly manicured nails. National Geographic reports that Oldcroghan’s body was preserved so finely that upon its discovery, a murder investigation was launched. Later, he was found to have been brutally murdered which was deducted from his lack of head and lower body. His stomach gave evidence of a wheat and buttermilk diet. He, along with Clonycavan Man (who was found only three months earlier and about 25 miles away), is on display at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

    3.Linn Duachaill
    Just this month, a Viking settlement village was discovered in Annagassan, County Louth. The village is presumed to be what was a Viking winter base, one of only two in Ireland. The untouched “virgin” site is said to be a massive discovery. After some testing by Dundalk’s County Museum, it was discovered that the site was in fact an area used to repair long ships, a base for inland raids and later, a trading site. Its importance is attributed to its early time period as it was founded in 841 among the earliest settlements of Vikings in Ireland.

    4. Bog butter
    This batch of butter was dug up in Tullamore and is believed to be a staggering 5,000 years old. The “butter” was discovered by turf cutters who found it seven feet underground it what appeared to be a “keg” or “urn” type capsule. They cut it open with a spade to find the butter inside. Presumably, the butter was buried as a form of refrigeration. Although ‘bog butter’ is a more common discovery around Ireland, the discovery in 2011 was remarkable for its size - 100 pounds! The substance was said to still have a “dairy smell,” though no one is positive what exactly the substance is.
    After two thieves robbed a shop in Strokestown, Roscommon, they discarded the necklace and other documents in a dumpster in Dublin. Police, short on time before trash collection, luckily found the precious artifact which is believed to be 4,000 years old and a belonging of an early king of Ireland. The necklae, called a lunala, was originally found in 1945 when it was dug up in Roscommon. It was given to the Strokestown shopkeeper where he kept it locked away in a safe until the robbery.
    6. Ancient Latin Psalter
    In 2006, a mechanical digger unearthed a 1200 year old manuscript in Faddan More near Riverstown in Tipperary. The manuscript was made up of 60 vellum pages and had covers made from animal skin. It was found undisturbed and open to the Latin version of Psalm 83. The discovery was said to be of staggering impact, and changed the understanding of how old Irish manuscripts were created.

    7. Sacrificed king in Laois
    A mummified body found in Laois became special interest to archaeologists when it was discovered on the boundary of two ancient Irish kingdoms, thus suggesting that the body may have been that of a king. The 3000 year old remains were found just moments before a Bord na Mona worker almost drove over it. In addition to its location, the body discovered had various cuts on it, suggesting a ritual sacrifice.

    8. Mabel Bagenal, Ireland’s ‘Helen of Troy’
    The remains of what is believed to be Ireland’s ‘Helen of Troy’ was discovered in Dungannon’s Castle Hill in Tyrone this past July. Evidence suggests that the body could be that of Mabel Bagenal, who died in 1596 and was the third wife of the Early of Tyrone, Hugh O’Neill. Ornate details in her burial point to her high societal status during her life, that of one fitting for the wife of an Earl.

    9. Burial Ground in North Dublin
    In June, workers in North Dublin unearthed what appears to be a pre-Viking burial site. Scientists from Queen University conducted tests on the site and concluded that the site was created in the seventh century AD. With this information, it was deduced that the site is from the pre-Viking era landing it in the era of Christian conversion. Tests are still being done on the site in order to gather more information about its function.

    10. “Zombie” Graveyard
    Just in time for Halloween! The Independent reports that a so-called “zombie” graveyard was discovered in September at a site overlooking Lough Key in Roscommon. The skeletal remains found there were discovered to have large rocks placed in their mouths, supposedly in hopes of preventing the souls raising up to terrorise the living. The findings at Lough Key will be the feature of a National Geographic special early next year.

    Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/Top-ten-archaeological-finds-in-Ireland---PHOTOS-174391661.html#ixzz2A7NaDXbj

    Archaeologists work to uncover shipwreck remains in Portimão

    by TPN/ Lusa, in Algarve · 18-10-2012 10:13:00 · 1 Comments
    A team of archaeologists are working to try and discover remains of a shipwreck from the Roman period, among other potential finds, in the Arade River in Portimão as part of an underwater archaeological campaign that started on Wednesday. 
    Archaeologist Cristóvão Fonseca explained that the fieldwork, which is due to last two weeks, will comprise an initial phase of visual prospection and data recording with photographs and drawings, and the excavation of artefacts that may be found on the surface.
    It is believed one of the locations identified for prospection may have been the site of a shipwreck during Roman times, due to the discovery of a large concentration of ceramic vases called amphora, some still intact.
    Despite this, the theory may only be confirmed with excavations, which depending on the results obtained during the next two weeks could take place next year.
    If confirmed, the area may become part of a tourist diving route, attracting more visitors to Portimão, which will see two decommissioned ships sunk at the end of this month as an underwater museum.
    “The antiquity of the artefacts and the possibility that they tell a story makes diving in that area more interesting,” said Mr. Fonseca.
    The archaeologist, along with José Bettencourt, are coordinators of the archaeological campaign carried out by the Sea History Centre of the Faculty of Social Sciences from Lisbon’s Nova University.
    The work, which should extend for the next three to four years, is part of an investigation project entitled ‘Between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic: getting closer to the underwater cultural heritage of the Arade River estuary.”
    Aside from that area, the archaeologists will dive in other sections of the river where the remains of five iron cannons and ammunition were found as well as bronze weapon artefacts from the 17th and 18th centuries.
    The study on the cannons and weapons, identified during the 1990s, point to a shipwreck in that area of a ship that may have sailed under the Spanish crown during the beginning of the 17th century.
    Another area to be explored appears to have the partially buried remains of a large wooden ship from the same time period.
    The team of archaeologists, supported by technicians from Portimão museum and volunteers from a diving centre, among others, aims to carry out two dives per day to a depth of between four and ten metres.
    The last archaeological prospection work to take place in the Arade River occurred five years ago.