sábado, 28 de diciembre de 2013

Significance of sun alignment with two Roman monuments

Significance of sun alignment with two Roman monuments
An archaeo-informaticist from Indiana University has used virtual simulations to turn back the clock over two thousand years to show the significance of an alignment of the sun with two monuments tied to the founder of the Roman Empire – Caesar Augustus.
For half a century, scholars had associated the Ara Pacis, the “Altar of Peace” (dedicated in 9 BCE to Emperor Augustus), and the Obelisk of Montecitorio (a 71-foot-high granite monument brought by Augustus from Egypt), with the 23rd September – the founder’s birthday.
Research had previously shown that on this day, the shadow of the obelisk (which served as a gnomon, for a giant sundial on the plaza floor), would point toward the middle of the Ara Pacis. The Senate had commissioned the Ara Pacis to recognise the peace brought to the Roman Empire through Augustus’ military victories.

Another explanation

However, informatics and computing professor Bernie Frischer announced that there was another explanation for the original placement of the two landmarks that lay both parallel and adjacent to a major road, the Via Flaminia. This road led from Rome over the Apennine Mountains to the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
“What’s important is not the shadow of the obelisk, but the sun’s disk seen over the centre of the top of the obelisk from a position on the Via Flaminia in front of the Ara Pacis,” Frischer said. New computer simulations now show that German scholar Edmund Buchner’s long-standing theory that the shadow of the obelisk hit the centre of the façade of the Ara Pacis was wrong.

Campus Martius

GPS coordinates, known dimensions and additional bibliographical sources were also used to create the 3-D models of the Ara Pacis, the meridian, and the obelisk, all of which would have been located at the 490-acre site then known as the Campus Martius. Frischer said his Rome-based assistant Ismini Miliaresis conducted critical research on the meridian line location, and independent scholar and professional meridian designer and engineer Paolo Albèri Auber conducted the refined work on the obelisk’s original size.
Using NASA’s Horizons System, which gives the position of objects in the solar system in the sky at any time in history as seen from any spot on earth, along with surveys of the location of the sundial’s original meridian line, and the height of the obelisk in exacting detail, Frischer and a team that included John Fillwalk, director of the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts at Ball State University, determined that the Sun’s placement at the top of the obelisk occurred on the 9th October.
“Inscriptions on the obelisk show that Augustus explicitly dedicated the obelisk to his favourite deity, Apollo, the Sun god,” Frischer said. “And the most lavish new temple Augustus built, the Temple of Palatine Apollo, was dedicated to his patron god and built right next to Augustus’ own home. The new date of the alignment, the 9th October, is actually what we know to be the annual festival of the Temple of Palatine Apollo.

Using virtual environments

The work is a statement to the possibilities inherent in using information technology to support the work of archaeologists, and specifically for Frischer, the use of 3-D modelling.
“Empiricism, that sense of direct observation of nature through the senses, in some cases has had to give way to thought experiments and likewise, to computer simulations, as objects of study recede beyond our innate sensory apparatus in time, space and scale,” he said. “I call it ‘simpiricism,’ where we create computer simulations to bring our object back within the ken of the natural senses so it can be observed again, in a way analogous to what was done in the time of classic empiricism.”

8 very old sites in the New World

By Leslie Gilbert Elman, Special to CNN
CNN) -- When European explorers were planting their flags all over North and South America, they referred to the territory as the "New World." That was a misnomer. For while the Americas might have been "new" to the Europeans, they weren't new on the world timeline.
Things were happening in the Western Hemisphere a long, long time ago, as the sites on this list (a very small sampling) demonstrate. Some you might know already; others might come as a surprise. Many of them are sites of active archaeological research that continues to unearth new examples of very interesting old stuff.
Tiwanaku, Bolivia
Tiwanaku, Bolivia
Theorists have explained Tiwanaku as everything from a temple complex built by nomads to the work of an extraterrestrial society. Its truth is only slightly less extraordinary, and it tantalizes with questions of why and how a city of temples, public buildings, homes, streets and irrigation systems was built at 13,000 feet above sea level in the Altiplano of the Bolivian Andes.
Between 500 and 900 A.D., the Tiwanaku civilization numbered in the hundreds of thousands. By 1200, they were gone. Archaeologists continue to study the site, even constructing reed boats to demonstrate how stones weighing several tons might have been transported from one shore of nearby Lake Titicaca to the other. You'll need imagination to picture Tiwanaku as it was; a visit during the winter or summer solstice celebrations can enhance its mystical qualities.
Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

About 75 million years ago, western Canada was part of an island continent called Laramidia, and this 30-square-mile expanse of badlands was populated by creatures great and small. Sounds like the start of a fantasy novel, but it's a dream come true for anyone fascinated by dinosaurs.

Since the turn of the last century, when paleontologists began working here in earnest, the park has yielded thousands of prehistoric remains, including hundreds of complete dinosaur skeletons from the Late Cretaceous Period.
At the park you can join in or observe current fieldwork. There are activities for families and kids, guided and self-guided tours, and sunset excursions for photographers. To see more specimens recovered from the park, visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, two hours away.
Tikal, Petén, Guatemala
With its five towering pyramids, probably built between 250 and 900 A.D. (ongoing research regularly revises the dates) and situated to correspond with the position of the sun, Tikal is the site by which other Mayan archaeological sites are measured, both in scope and significance. Tikal National Park also encompasses Uaxactún -- once a separate city -- as well as nearly 55,000 acres of rainforest that add to its beauty and mystery.

Tikal, Petén, Guatemala
With its five towering pyramids, probably built between 250 and 900 A.D. (ongoing research regularly revises the dates) and situated to correspond with the position of the sun, Tikal is the site by which other Mayan archaeological sites are measured, both in scope and significance. Tikal National Park also encompasses Uaxactún -- once a separate city -- as well as nearly 55,000 acres of rainforest that add to its beauty and mystery.
The Petén Region in northern Guatemala continually yields archaeological discoveries from the Maya, such as the stunning frieze found in Holmul earlier this year. The murals at San Bartolo are under consideration for UNESCO World Heritage site status. In neighboring Honduras, is the Mayan site of Copán -- founded by a splinter group from Tikal.
Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico
Monte Albán is a marvel of urban planning, especially when you consider that the Olmecs -- and later the Zapotecs -- who built it did so by carving its terraced landscape out of the mountainside. And they began construction sometime around 500 B.C. It was built to be grand, from the ceremonial pyramids to the stadium surrounding the ball court, and because it's so impressive Monte Albán tends to be heavily visited today.
The most famous artifacts are the series of Olmec carved stone slabs known as Los Danzantes (The Dancers) because it was originally assumed they depicted dancing men. Current scholarship says they depict disemboweled prisoners of war, which would be strange, yet in keeping with the unusual artistic sensibilities of the Olmecs.
Parque Museo La Venta, Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico
It's hard to know what to think about the Olmecs. They practiced ritual human bloodletting and raised dogs that they subsequently ate as part of their regular diet. On the other hand, they're probably responsible for introducing chocolate to the world. They also left a wondrous legacy of carved stone sculptures, especially the enormous stone heads for which they're known.
Many Olmec sculptures discovered at San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán in Veracruz and at La Venta in Tabasco -- Olmec settlements dating back to 1200 B.C. -- have been relocated to museums where they're more accessible for public viewing. You'll find more than 30, including three 20-ton heads, at Parque Museo La Venta in Villahermosa. The 16-acre park is known for its tropical foliage and for the dramatic sound and light show that illuminates the sculptures at night.
Chan Chan, Peru
Machu Picchu is the most widely known archaeological site in Peru, the Nazca Lines are arguably the most mysterious, but Chan Chan, located about three miles from Trujillo, deserves mention because while its past is documented, its future is uncertain.
The capital of the Chimú culture, Chan Chan probably dates back to before 850 A.D. At its peak in the early 1400s it had a population of 30,000 before the Inca came and wiped it all out. What remains of the huge earthwork city is still astounding -- networks of beautifully carved and sculpted adobe walls delineate enclaves devoted to work, worship and family life.
About five square miles of the Chan Chan site is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, but even UNESCO can't stop the wind and weather from slowly eroding Chan Chan.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville, Illinois, United States
Cahokia Mounds looks like a grouping of giant lumps in the earth -- hills where no hills should be, built by the Mississippian culture more than 1,000 years ago. The largest is 100 feet high and bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza at its base.
Around it once stood wooden houses and plazas where people gathered for ceremonies that involved a potent concoction called Black Drink and competitions in a vigorous sport called chunkey. Inside the mounds, archaeologists have found a wealth of objects including unexpected specimens like shark's teeth carried from the Gulf of Mexico to western Illinois in some way yet to be determined. In fact, much of what went on at Cahokia is still undetermined, including why this thriving community -- the oldest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico -- disappeared in the early 14th century.
Rock Art of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, Texas, United States
Around Comstock, Texas, where the Pecos River meets the Rio Grande, acres of unremarkable terrain hold a remarkable surprise: cave paintings (pictographs) and carvings (petroglyphs) made by the prehistoric hunter-gatherers who lived here thousands of years ago. They're not especially easy to reach, which has been their salvation, having left them largely unmolested throughout the centuries.
Recently archaeologists have been working to raise awareness of the sites in order to catalog, preserve and protect them. Guided tours at Seminole Canyon State Park take you on a rigorous 1.5-mile hike to the Fate Bell Shelter. Other tours conducted by members of the nonprofit Rock Art Foundation visit sites located on private land. Panther Cave and Parida Cave in the Amistad National Recreation Area near Del Rio are accessible by boat.

An unidentified royal statue head found in Luxor

A black granite head of an unidentified New Kingdom king's statue has been uncovered in Luxor

The Egyptian-Spanish archaeological mission unearthed on Thursday a large granite head of a statue of an unidentified New Kingdom king during routine excavation at King Thutmose III’s funerary temple on Luxor’s west bank.

Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Section at the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA), explained that the head is 29.6cm high, 24.3cm wide and 26.9cm deep. The head depicts a round face of a royal figure, not identified yet, wearing a wig, with traces of a broken nose, and two long ears that each reach 8cm. The eyes, he continued, have traces of kohl, with thick eyebrows.

Abdel-Maqsoud said that the head was found buried in sand in a pit on the northern side of the second court of the temple. Studies are underway in an attempt to determine which New Kingdom king it belongs to.

The temple of Thutmose III is a vey small temple located beside the temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Al Deir Al-Bahari. It was first discovered in February 1962 during routine restoration work carried out by a Polish excavation mission of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology led by archaeologist Kazimierz Michalowski.

The temple is poorly preserved and was dedicated to god Amun-Re.  Although Thutmose III’s actual funerary temple Henkhet-Ankh is located a short distance away, such a temple had played some role within the king’s funerary cult.

martes, 24 de diciembre de 2013


6,000-year-old tombs unearthed in northeast Vietnam

Tombs built 6,000 years have just been excavated in Bac Kan Province in the Northeast region, reported newspaper The Thao & Van Hoa (Sports & Culture) this week.


Six tombs have been dug up at the province’s Na Mo Cave in Huong Ne Commune, Ngan Son District, 180 kilometers north of Hanoi.
Local archaeologists used the absolute dating method on snail shells found inside the tomb to determine that the relics dated back more than 6,000 years ago.
The items, of which four have been exposed to the open air, were found together with broken skeletons excluding skulls and teeth, said excavation team leader Professor Trinh Nang Chung of the Hanoi-based Institute of Archaeology.

 That the team couldn’t find any traces of the human skulls and teeth at the site raised the hypothesis among the scientists that the corpses were victim to “headhunting” practices in which the early peoples of Southeast Asia would steal skulls to rob the dead of their power


Two skeletons among the six were buried with cutting tools made of stone as burial belongings. The tombs were made of stones.
The discovery is considered new evidence and a major stepping stone in the study of the prehistory of Bac Kan in particular and Vietnam in general since the cave is known to have been the home of many generations of early humans.
According to researchers and scientists, the first residents of the cave were of the Hoa Binh – Bac Son culture (4,000 BC – 5,000 BC), whereas the last ones had lived there during the late Stone Age – early Iron Age.
Aside from the cutting tools, hundreds of artifacts made of ceramic and stone, including jewelry, tools, ochre (a soil of yellow color, mixed with water to decorate the bodies of both the dead and the living) that represent the two cultures have been unearthed at the site.
In addition, scientists have collected many samples of spores for further research on the ancient ecological environment of the area.


Ancient Ohio cultures were devoted to sun and moon

Ancient Ohio cultures were devoted to sun and moon


About 2,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean, certain magi were said to have observed the rising of a star to which they attached portentous significance. Those wise men must have been paying close attention to the night sky to have noticed a new star among the 3,000 or so visible each night.

About the same time in the Ohio Valley, the indigenous American Indians must have had their own magi carefully observing the heavens because they aligned their most magnificent earthen monuments to the rising and setting of the sun and moon.

The Newark Earthworks showcase how astronomical alignments were woven into the designs of Hopewell culture architecture. They extend across nearly 5 square miles between Raccoon Creek and the South Fork of the Licking River.

These earthworks include the Great Circle, the Octagon Earthworks (which combine an enormous octagon with a circle only slightly smaller than the Great Circle), a large square enclosure and an oval earthwork surrounding numerous burial mounds. Only the Great Circle and the Octagon Earthworks survive largely intact.

In 1982, Ray Hively and Robert Horn, professors at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., showed that the Octagon Earthworks encoded the 18.6-year cycle of moonrises and moonsets into its walls. The duo’s latest research, published this year in Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, suggests the Newark magi made their incredibly precise astronomical observations from the tops of prominent hills surrounding the earthworks.

Hively and Horn identified four key hilltops overlooking the earthworks that offer unobstructed views to the horizon. From one of these — the most prominent overlook to the southwest — you can see directly across the center of the Octagon Earthworks to where the moon rises at its northernmost point on the eastern horizon.

From that same hilltop, you can look across the center of Newark's Great Circle to a point about 14 degrees to the south, which marks the minimum northern moonrise.

The three other prominent hilltops provide vantage points for observing alignments of key elements of the earthworks with the southern maximum and minimum moonrises and the four moonsets that, together with the four moonrise alignments, encompass the entire 18.6-year lunar cycle.

Astonishingly, sightlines between these four hilltops mark the sunrises and sunsets on both the summer and winter solstices. Those alignments intersect at the approximate center of the earthworks at a point that is midway between the Great Circle and the large circle at the Octagon Earthworks.

These observations make it clear that the Newark Earthworks represent an unprecedented interweaving of geometry, astronomy and landscape into monumental architecture on a mind-boggling scale. Pilgrims from the ends of the Hopewell

lunes, 9 de diciembre de 2013

Serbian archaeologist finds 4,000-year-old chariot

Pirot – During the protective archaeological works, carried out in parallel with the construction of Corridor 10, archaeologist Zoran Mitic found the remains of beautifully decorated chariot, assumed to be aged between 3,000 and 4,000 years and to have belonged to a Thracian from the elite of the time.
According to Mitic, this an unique and extremely important item, which he found near the village of Stanicenje.
“This is a chariot, drawn by two horses. My assumption is that the chariot belonged to a Thracian citizen,” Mitic told Tanjug.
He said that this is backed by the fact that, at the location where the chariot was found, was also found a tumulus – a tomb.
“Judging by the manner of burial, I guess that it was a member of Thracian people, not ordinary, but someone who occupied an important place in the hierarchy, due to the fact that the chariot is decorated with beautiful bronze applications,” he said.

Roman Jupiter donated to Cambridge museum

A Roman sculpture of the god Jupiter, dating from between the 2nd and 4th Century AD, has been donated to a Cambridge University museum.
Hanson Aggregates, which owns the Earith quarry where it was found in, has given the piece to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
It was discovered by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit which excavated the site between 1997 and 2007.
The sculpture is made from Upwell limestone from Norfolk.
It originally formed part of a larger monument topped with a freestanding figure (lion, sphinx or gryphon). Paws can be seen at the top of the cornice.
'Amazing find' The drilled eyes of the face would have once been filled with coloured paste to make the sculpture more lifelike.
The historians did not find any other fragments of the original larger sculpture, suggesting this section was taken to the area, near Huntingdon, as a fragment.
It is likely it was re-used as a grave marker.
Christopher Evans, of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, said: "It was an amazing piece to find on a Fenland site, and it is truly gratifying that it can now be appropriately displayed for the wider public to appreciate."
The sculpture will be on display in the museum's ground floor Cambridge gallery from 10 December.


Neolithic wooden tridents – mystery artefacts

Tullie House Museum in Carlisle, Northwest England, has two rare Neolithic wooden tridents now on display. The artefacts were discovered in 2009 during excavation work, but so far, despite much examination and discussion, these 6000 year old objects have baffled archaeologists as to their intended function.

A rare find

Only four other similar tridents exist in the UK and they were all found in the nineteenth century, two from Ehenside Tarn, in Cumbria, Northwest England, and two from a bog in Armagh, Northern Ireland. They are all almost identical in design and this suggests that they were made for a purpose that required a very specific form that was understood when crafted.

River Eden flood plain

The two tridents displayed at Tullie House, were discovered during archaeological excavations prior to the construction of the Carlisle Northern Development Route (CNDR) by a team from Oxford Archaeology North in advance of a new transport route on the River Eden flood plain to the west of the village of Stainton. Archaeological surveying in an area rich in Roman heritage was an important part of the planning and pre-construction process and the exceptional preservation found in the ancient paleochannels has excited everyone, including the construction firm building the road.

National importance

Andy Dean, Regional Director from Balfour Beatty said, “The discovery of these tridents was an important and exciting event during the preparation work for the new road. The project team expected there to be archaeological finds in the vicinity of Hadrian’s Wall and Vallum, however the tridents, tools and flints discovered in the flood plain is of [equal] national importance.”

The tridents both measure over 2 metres in length and each has been expertly crafted – using stone tools – from a single plank of mature split oak (c 300 year old tree). They would have been heavy objects, seemingly built for their strength.
An exceptional opportunity

The fieldwork was undertaken in 2009, and a programme of post-excavation analysis is ongoing involving specialists from a wide range of fields and different organisations.

One of the most exciting areas uncovered – which produced the tridents – was a a multi-period prehistoric site to the west of the village of Stainton, perched upon an early Holocene terrace of the River Eden and excavations soon unearthed a large assemblage of finds, dating predominantly from the very end of the Mesolithic and into the Neolithic period.

It comprised a series of palaeochannels, with a dense, in situ scatter of struck lithic material (c 300,000 pieces) on an island between two of these channels. Finds of worked wood and stone within the channels, associated with well-preserved palaeoenvironmental assemblages, indicate various phases of human activity from from c 5500 BC cal onwards.

The lithic material is predominately characteristic of a narrow-blade, geometric microlithic technology and so is in general, consistent with a late Mesolithic date (OA North 2011). The other types which were also recovered, such as leaf-shaped points and polished stone pieces are usually considered to be later in date. One possible conclusion is that the site is transitional, encompassing the Mesolithic-Neolithic continuum
Palaeochannel assemblages

Within the palaeochannels, finds of worked wood and stone, associated with well-preserved palaeoenvironmental assemblages, indicate various phases of human activity. The earliest of these, dating to the later Mesolithic represents the opportunistic reuse of beaver-made structures bearing the scars left by voracious gnawing.

Beavers can have a dramatic effect on their environment, coppicing woods to create clearings, ponding streams with their dams and creating artificial islands with their lodges. Human hunter-fishers may have been attracted to such modified environments, perhaps explaining the evidence for human activity at this level within the channel at Stainton West.

One log bore what has been interpreted as claw marks of a brown bear that had once climbed a tree prior to felling and then reused within a beaver dam.

Neolithic and later activity

Subsequently, a later Neolithic phase of activity starting in the early part of the fourth millennium cal BC comprised the construction of a wooden platform and other structures in a channel and the accidental or deliberate deposition of various wooden and stone artefacts. This included the two large wooden tridents, several polished axeheads and fragments of polissoirs (stones for polishing stone axeheads).

Burnt mounds, a sauna type structure, fish traps and medieval exploitation of the river continue to show the areas importance over thousands of years. To learn more about the finds, visit the dedicated website: http://cndr.thehumanjourney.net/ where hundreds of images can be viewed.
Trident mystery

Despite detailed study of the Stainton West tridents, the function of these objects still remains a mystery. They do not appear to be well-suited for use as digging forks or fishing spears, or once covered in skin and used as paddles, as was speculated in the case of the Ehenside tridents from Penrith. However, there was no evidence for this at Stainton West, and they do not seem ideally formed for use as paddles.

Generally, it is not possible to deduce the function of the objects from patterns of wear on the tines or elsewhere, as none is evident. Taylor and Bamford (2013) have examined the tridents and then compared them to wooden forks of known function, concluding that there are no clear parallels.

martes, 26 de noviembre de 2013

Egypt: Italian technology to save Egyptian museum papyri

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, NOVEMBER 18 - Italian technology will allow the restoration and preservation of thousands of very delicate papyri at the Egyptian museum in Cairo.

The initiative was presented on Monday morning during a ceremony at the museum attended by Gianpaolo Cantini, director general for the cooperation for development, Egyptian antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim, Italian ambassador Maurizio Massari and the museum's director Tarek el Awadi. It is part of the 'commodity aid' programme of Italian cooperation.

High tech instruments in particular provided by Italtrend Spa and produced by Bresciani Srl, which will play a role in saving the museum's secular papyri, were shown during the ceremony. They are a laser and a portable instrument. The laser, an Italian-made groundbreaking tool in the preservation of artwork, uses non-invasive technology to clean very delicate and sensitive surfaces and allows not to use chemical products. The spectrometer is used for chemical-physical measurements and to analyze material without the extraction of samples.

In order to save and preserve the precious papyri of the Egyptian museum, a low-pressure table with a humidifier to restore paper documents has been provided together with ten humidifiers and thermometers and five climatic chambers to preserve the findings to recreate the same condition as in the tombs where the papyri were found.

They were also especially planned for the museum overlooking the famous Tahrir square, one of the busiest in Cairo, and were made with special gas filters against pollution.

The initiative in favour of the Egyptian antiquities ministry is part of a programme of aid which aims to import to Egypt high tech Italian products and train specialized personnel in a number of sectors.

The programme which spans almost two decades was agreed in 1994, kicked off in 1996 and has funded until today the importation of Italian goods worth 37 million euros. The instalment for the Egyptian museum has a value of 300,000 euros.


The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon

The legendary ‘Hanging Garden of Babylon’ has since ancient times been recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of the World – but no trace of it has ever been found.

After 20 years of research, Dr Stephanie Dalley may have discovered why.

Dr Dalley, an honorary research fellow at Somerville College and part of the Oriental Institute at Oxford University, believes the garden was actually created at Nineveh, 300 miles from Babylon, in the early seventh century BC. She argues that it was built by the Assyrians in the north of Mesopotamia – modern-day Iraq – at the instigation of the Assyrian king, Sennacherib.
Unrivalled palace

One piece of evidence is a record of description by Sennacherib of an ‘unrivalled palace’ and a ‘wonder for all peoples’. He describes the marvel of a water-raising screw made using a new method of casting bronze.

A recent excavation near Nineveh found traces of an aqueduct with the inscription: ‘Sennacherib king of the world … Over a great distance I had a watercourse directed to the environs of Nineveh‘.

Dr Dalley also believes the landscapes of Babylon and Nineveh support her conclusion – the flat countryside around Babylon would have made it impossible to deliver water to the raised gardens as described in classical sources.

New Babylon

Dr Dalley suggests that after Assyria conquered Babylon in 689BC, the Assyrian capital Nineveh may have been seen as the ‘New Babylon’, which could have created the confusion. Earlier research showed that after Sennacherib conquered Babylon, he renamed all the gates of Nineveh after the names used for Babylon’s city gates.

Moreover, Dr Dalley believes the Hanging Garden may in fact have been depicted in a bas-relief from Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh, which shows trees growing on a roofed colonnade as described in classical accounts of the ‘Babylon’ gardens (see header image).

‘It has taken many years to find the evidence to demonstrate that the gardens and associated system of aqueducts and canals were built by Sennacherib at Nineveh and not by Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon,’ Dr Dalley says.

‘For the first time it can be shown that the Hanging Gardens really did exist.’

Source: University of  Oxford


sábado, 23 de noviembre de 2013

Archeologist find shiloh altar using during Temple Era

Shiloh, in Samaria, was the site of the first Tabernacle in Israel. Archaeologists now have found evidence that after Shilo was destroyed and Jews returned, they sacrificed even during the First Temple period.
A dramatic discovery at the ancient site of Shiloh, located in Samaria, provides the first–ever evidence that it continued to be a religious center after it was destroyed by the Philistines and Jews returned to the city, home of the Tabernacle.

The altar is thought to have been used to offer sacrifices even after the First Temple was built in Jerusalem.

The stone from the Iron Age, coinciding with the period of the first kings of Israel, was found in a wall built later in the Byzantine period.

Archaeologists think that Byzantines took the stone altar from its original site, which might have been in the same location as the Tabernacle. There are two conflicting theories on its location, one stating it is on the northern side of ancient Shiloh and the other placing it on the southern side.

Avital Faleh, administrator of the Tel Shiloh site, told The Jewish Press Wednesday that the wall was on the southern side and that it is more reasonable that the Byzantines carried the altar from nearby rather than several hundred yards, which would be the case if the Tabernacle were located on the northern side.

The stone was measured at two feet by two feet and almost 16 inches high.

Other altars used for sacrificial worship during the First Temple era have been discovered in Be’er Sheva and near Arad in the south and in Tel Dan and near Shiloh in the north. Faleh explained that the stone altar is almost identical with others that have been discovered.

The revelation on Tuesday of the discovery at Shiloh is the first evidence of post-Tabernacle sacrificial worship at the same site where the Bible states the first Tabernacle was erected after the Jews entered Israel following the Exodus from Egypt and the 40 years of living in the Sinai.

Joshua 18:1 states, “The whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh and erected there the Tent of Assembly, and the land was conquered before them.” The Tabernacle remained at Shiloh for 369 years, according to the Talmud.

The Philistines went to war against the Jews, destroyed the city, and captured the Holy Ark. The Tabernacle probably had been removed before the end of the war but was not used when sacrificial offerings were later offered at two other places, Nov and Gideon, until King Solomon built the First Temple.

However, it took years before Jewish communities, especially Shiloh that was the home of the first sacrifices Israel, adjusted to the cultural and religious change.

In July, archaeologists  said they believed they discovered the remains of the Biblical tabernacle site, after finding holes carved into the rock and which may have been used to hold beams for the Tabernacle.

The Jewish Press reported here in January, that the discovery of  an uncovered broken clay pitcher, embedded in a layer of reddish ashes, is from the time of the devastation of Shiloh, offering detailed evidence of the destruction.

Shiloh was the most significant religious center for Israel before the Philistines destroyed it. The Jewish people offered mandatory sacrifices, and it was there that lots were cast for tribal areas and the cities of the Levites.

Deuteronomy 12:4-7, states,  “You should not do any [act of sacrificial worship] to God, your God, other than at the site which God, your God will choose, to place His Name there, from amongst all your tribes. You should seek out His dwelling [place in the Tabernacle at Shiloh] and come there. You should bring there your burnt offerings, and your [obligatory peace] offerings, your tithes, [first fruits] lifted from your hand [by the priests]—your vows, your pledges, and the firstborn of your cattle and of your sheep [which are to be given to the priests]. [It is] there that you should eat [your sacrifices] before God your God. Then you and your households will rejoice in all the work of your hands. [You should bring offerings according to the means with] which God, your God, blesses you.”

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About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the
Jewish Press.


The stone altar above may have been used for sacrificial offerings in ancient Shiloh long after the time of the Tabernacle.
Photo Credit: Ancient Shiloh.

Rome ancient frescoes reignite debate over women priests

The reopening of a labyrinth of catacombs in Rome has reignited a debate over women priests in early Christianity.

Women's groups say frescoes on the walls at the Catacombs of Priscilla are evidence that women occupied the role of priests in ancient times.

A major clean-up operation that took five years has revealed the images in greater clarity.

But the Vatican has dismissed them as pure "fable, a legend".

The catacombs - discovered in the 16th Century - are famous for housing the oldest known image of the Madonna and Child dating from around AD230-240.

They were originally built as Christian burial sites between the Second and Fifth Centuries and stretch 13km (8 miles) over several levels.

But two rooms in particular have been a source of lively debate for years.

In one, known as the Cubiculum of the Veiled Woman, there is an image of a woman with arms outstretched as if saying Mass. She is wearing what some say are garments worn by priests.

In another room, known as the Greek Chapel, a group of women sit at a table with arms outstretched and celebrating a banquet.

Organisations promoting a female priesthood, such as the Women's Ordination Conference and the Association of Roman Catholic Woman Priests, say these scenes are evidence of a female priesthood in the early Church.

Fabrizio Bisconti of the Vatican's archaeology commission said the fresco of the woman was "a depiction of a deceased person now in paradise", and that the women sitting at the table were taking part in a "funeral banquet".

The Vatican has restricted the priesthood for men and teaches that women cannot become priests because Jesus willingly chose only men as his apostles.

domingo, 17 de noviembre de 2013

William Blake, el hombre que vio el lado oscuro de la modernidad

Día 17/11/2013 - 01.45h

Autor fundamental, anunció en pleno siglo XVIII que el racionalismo y el materialismo traerían la destrucción de la naturaleza y la alienación del hombre. Ahora sus «Libros Proféticos» se editan completos en español

«No hay nadie como William Blake en la literatura y el arte ingleses». Esta vigorosa afirmación abre la primera edición completa de los «Libros Proféticos» del autor británico, que acaba de publicar Atalanta. ¿Por qué no tiene comparación? A la vista de este libro resulta asombrosamente fácil responder: Blake vivió entre 1757 y 1827, es uno de los autores fundamentales de la modernidad y, sin embargo, fue el único moderno capaz de atisbar los peligros del racionalismo y el materialismo, aun en pleno siglo XVIII: advierte de que el materialismo traerá la destrucción de la naturaleza y la alienación del hombre. O tal vez habría que decir que lo vio.
Para ser exactos, los llamados «Libros Proféticos» de William Blake no lo son tanto por su capacidad de anticipación de hechos o situaciones como por la claridad de su visión, espiritual, del alma, la naturaleza y la sociedad. El poeta y grabador hace una crítica feroz al racionalismo –es para él como perder la visión– ya que percibió como ningún otro las sombras agazapadas en el Siglo de las Luces. Para formular sus visiones acude a los arquetipos y construye con ellos una mitología propia. Era consciente de que, «si no creaba una mitología, sería esclavizado por la de otro hombre», como advierte Patrick Harpur en la brillante introducción. Y son muy pocos, verdaderamente, los creadores que han logrado ese acto supremo de dar vida a una mitología nueva, un conjunto profundo y coherente de mitos verdaderos, símbolos que despiertan en los hombres una nueva explicación del mundo. «Está Wagner, está Blake –nos recuerda el editor, Jacobo Siruela– y muy pocos más».

Un místico excéntrico

Blake fue tomado por loco por la mayoría de sus contemporáneos. Poco o mal comprendido, su carácter místico y a veces colérico le aisló notablemente. Veía desde niño ángeles en los árboles y se comunicaba con presencias que nadie más podía percibir. Resultaría excéntrico cuando leía bajo una parra, junto a su esposa, ambos desnudos, «El Paraíso Perdido» de Milton.
Se adelantó a su época. Aquella temprana visión crítica del progreso no ayudaba, ni lo hacían las críticas a la represión sexual y moral (antes que Freud) o la intolerancia que sentía ante todas las religiones organizadas. También apoyó la efervescencia de las revoluciones (América y Francia, con lo que preocupaban en Gran Bretaña) hasta que llegó el Terror y abjuró del camino que tomaban: el baño de sangre. Incluso William Hayley, su mecenas, trató de apartarle paulatinamente de los infructíferos «Libros Proféticos» y le animaba a convertirse en un autor más amable y comercial. La brecha se agrandó entre ambos hasta la ruptura.

La Imaginación de Blake

Su trabajo artístico es inseparable del literario y por ello el lector español no había tenido hasta ahora en sus manos una plasmación tan fiel de la mezcla de sus poemas y grabados (que él individualizaba «iluminándolos» con acuarela). Son como obras miniadas, que tardaron mucho tiempo en ser comprendidas. Sus mitos, extraídos de la Biblia, de la mitología celta y las leyendas artúricas y orientales, cobran nuevo y profundo sentido en la Imaginación de Blake, así escrita, con mayúsculas, puesto que ese es el sustrato de la realidad con el que quiere conectar.
El racionalismo ha reducido la imaginación a fantasía, a ficción contrafactual. Para el poeta, el mundo que percibimos es tan solo como una ventana que nos permite contemplar ese reino de la Imaginación, hirviente de vida y habitado por dioses, ángeles y demonios. En lugar de contemplar el cristal de la ventana, dedicó toda su vida a la invocación poética de ese mundo desterrado por la modernidad materialista.

Contra Bacon y Newton

Esta visión neoplatónica que adquirió en intensas lecturas de Swedenborg y Böhme le pone en contacto con la tradición hermética de Paracelso. Pero el mundo al que arroja su energía crítica es contemporáneo. Su mística busca una Inglaterra ideal. Y culpa a John Locke, por encima de todo, por su dogma de la tabula rasa que indica que venimos al mundo como un folio en blanco. Pero también se enfurece contra Francis Bacon (el filósofo) y contra Isaac Newton. En este punto hay que subrayar que, como hombre moderno e ilustrado, no critica la ciencia: admira la capacidad de medición y exactitud pero le exaspera el culto a la Razón.
La única exposición de sus grabados recibió críticas tan destructivas –«un desgraciado lunático»– que pocos podían suponer su enorme influencia: Coleridge, Worsworth, Keats, Yeats, Eliot... Y en el presente, como en toda época de cambio, su canto a la Imaginación, vuelven a ponerlo de actualidad.

Por primera vez podemos entenderle


martes, 12 de noviembre de 2013

'Roman child's coffin' opened for first time

A coffin dating back more than 1,600 years has been opened by scientists in a bid to learn more about life and death in Roman Britain.
Tests being carried out are expected to confirm later this week that it contains the remains of a child.
Made of lead, the coffin was discovered last month in a field in Witherley, west Leicestershire.
Scientists said they hoped it would reveal more about the culture of Roman Britain and even Romans' diets.
They had previously used an endoscope to probe inside the coffin, but said it was "almost entirely full of clay silt".
Stuart Palmer, from Archaeology Warwickshire, which is leading the work, said the contents could also show more about burial rites, clothing, disease and even drug use at the time.
The group is asking for the public's help in naming the child, running a poll on its website.
'Rare and exciting'
The lead coffin was discovered by metal detecting enthusiasts Chris Wright and Steve Waterall.
Mr Wright, 30, from Derby, is a member of the Digging Up the Past Club. He discovered the coffin three weeks ago during an organised dig.
He has been a member of the club for about a year and his most impressive find was a Crimean War medal until the coffin.
He said he initially thought he had found a hoard but was thrilled when he realised it was a grave.
"The response I've had has been interesting," he said.
"To be associated with an object that will help build a picture of what this period was like is an honour."
Archaeology Warwickshire spokesman Stuart Palmer said: "It's important because it's a rare opportunity to look at the burial customs, the environment and the type of clothing.
"At the moment we don't know - it's all guesswork. We hope it will shed much needed light on a remote period of our past."
Before Monday, analysis of the coffin had shown it was made from a single sheet of lead, with hammer marks still visible. The corners were sealed with molten lead.
Archaeologists believe the coffin belongs to the ch
ild of a wealthy family and represents an early example of Christian burial.
Mr Palmer said the find was as exciting as the recent discovery of King Richard III's skeleton beneath a Leicester car park.
"This is a different story and will allow us to ask different sorts of questions," he said.


'Roman child's coffin' opened for first time

Archaeologists discover ruins of Elymais temple in southwestern Iran

TEHRAN -- A team of Iranian and Italian archaeologists has unearthed ruins of an ancient temple in an Elymais site in the Kaleh Chendar region in southwestern Iran, the Iranian director of the team announced on Saturday.
Most parts of the structure have been built with large stones without mortar in form of a broad platform like those built at Persepolis, Jafar Mehrkian told the Persian service of CHN.
The structure also includes platforms made of brick, which were usually built in the ancient temples, he added.
Vito Messina of the University of Turin and a number of his colleagues accompanied the team during the excavation intended to gather information about the Elymais period, about which little is known in Iranian history, he stated.
According to Britannica, Elymais was an ancient Parthian vassal state located east of the lower Tigris River and usually considered part of the larger district of Susiana.
It incorporated much of the area of the biblical region of Elam, approximately equivalent to the modern region of Khuzestan, Iran.
Though the capital city of Susa belonged to Elymais, it seems to have been administered by a Persian satrap. The heart of the kingdom centered near the mountains of Lorestan near modern Behbehan and Izeh, where the local dynasty left rock reliefs and inscriptions in a form of Aramaic. 
The dynasty seems to have been founded by Kamnaskires, known from coins dated 81 BC. The kingdom, though seldom mentioned, survived until its extinction by the Sassanid king Ardashir I (reigned 224–241 CE).
The Iranian-Italian team dug six trenches at the site located near the village of Shami, Mehrkian said.
“A structure entirely built from rectangular bricks was uncovered in the third trench… A member of the team says that it was an altar or a small platform for worship,” he added.
The first trench was dug in a spot that had first been excavated by Polish-born British archaeologist A. Stein about 77 years ago during his project “Old Routes of Western Iran”. The life-size bronze figure of a Parthian prince, which is on display at the National Museum
of Iran, is surmised to have been discovered at this site.
In the sixth trench, the archaeologists have discovered an ancient family grave which was used by members of a family for about one hundred years during the period. 
“This tomb represents a style of burial. It is a small rectangular room with a stone structure,” Mehrkian stated.
This season of excavation was carried out based on a five-year agreement between Iran and Italy under the auspices of the Iranian Center for Archaeological Research and the Archaeological Excavations and Research Center of Turin.
Illegal excavations by artifact smugglers are currently threatening the site.

New Peruvian archaeological finds at Caral, 19 years after its discovery

Lima, Nov 9 (EFE).- The city of Caral, considered the oldest in the Americas, celebrates the 19th anniversary of its discovery in Peru with new finds among its urban remains, even as studies continue to indicate that climate change ended this civilization that existed more than 5,000 years ago.
Located in a desert region north of Lima between the valley of the Supe River and the country's coastline, the archaeological site was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2009.
As part of the anniversary celebration, a number of activities are being offered over the weekend, beginning Friday with the inauguration of the Supe Community Museum and the ceremony of the cult of Pachamama (Mother Earth) in Caral.
Being held on Saturday is the "Catu Caralino," or the fair of sustainable agricultural and handcrafted products produced by settlers of the Barranca and Huaura provinces, the "Taste of the Land" gastronomic festival, and the artistic/cultural event "Runa Raymi."
Nineteen years after research uncovered the remains of this civilization, which was contemporaneous with Egypt and Sumeria, the head of the Caral Archaeological Area, Ruth Shady, told Efe that researchers have discovered a path which they have dubbed "Social Integration Street" because it connects the center with an outlying district.
Caral's central core is the sector of the city with the most noteworthy public buildings and homes of the elite, while on the periphery were this civilization's humbler abodes.
Here on the periphery is where a somewhat smaller public building was discovered this year, along with a street that connected the area with the central core, which according to Shady shows that both areas "were connected and participated in the same social and cultural system."
The archaeologist said she is currently working on 11 different settlements, which indicates that this civilization had "great prestige which it maintained for more than 1,000 years" until it was plunged into crisis by an overpowering "climate change."


More burials from the 12th - 18th century discovered in the oldest Polish school

More human remains from burials in the period from the 12th to the 18th century have been discovered during the renovation of the oldest school in Poland and one of the oldest in Europe, the Marshal Stanisław Małachowski High School in Płock (Mazowieckie).
Excavation work coordinator archaeologist Dr. Marek Barański told PAP that in the immediate vicinity of the foundations of the Romanesque Collegiate Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, archaeologists found the remains of about 70 people, including children, in successive layers.

Earlier, in February, in the basement of early school buildings - in preserved part of the collegiate church and adjacent area, archaeologists discovered the remains of about 100 people.

"Małachowianka", as the school is popularly called, was founded in 1180 at the Collegiate Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, and has operated continuously in the same place since. It is one of the oldest schools in Europe. According to recent studies , reconstructed the Romanesque collegiate church was one of the earliest Gothic buildings in Poland.
"Remains recently discovered on the south side of the Collegiate Church confirmed that this was the location of a large cemetery complex, where the people of Płock were being buried since the early Middle Ages" - Dr. Barański told PAP. He explained that the oldest burials were found at a depth of about two and a half meters in the layer from the 12th and 13th centuries, and others in successive layers to the most recent one, dating back to the 18th century.

Barański added that only few artefacts had been discovered in these burials, mostly fragments of pottery and a medieval spur. "This is a curiosity, because we expected to find more artefacts, such as clothing accessories of coffin nails. It was probably the custom here to bury the dead in the shroud only" - said the archaeologist.

Barański announced that the recently discovered remains , as those found previously, would be subjected to detailed anthropological research. Upon completion of excavation and research, all the remains found during excavations will be buried again on the school area, at the location chosen specifically for this purpose.

Renovation work at "Małachowianka" began in September 2012 and will continue until 2014. They include the renovation of the roof and facades of historic buildings, and the foundations will be drained. Renovation and modernization will also cover the museum located in the school basement. The cost of the works, exceeding PLN 29.9 million, will be covered mostly by the European Union, and the Płock City Hall will cover the rest.

The Marshal Stanisław Małachowski High School received its current name by resolution of the Płock City Council in 1921. The school was founded in 1180 at the Collegiate Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, as a foundation of Dobiechna, widow of Wojsław, guardian of Bolesław III Wrymouth, the ruler of Poland, buried in the crypt of the cathedral of Płock. Since then, many times rebuilt, the school has been on the same site.

The oldest preserved part of the school are the foundation and part of the walls of the early medieval Collegiate Church of St. Michael the Archangel. Other surviving objects ate the 15th century tower and the 17th century wing of the Jesuit College, which existed from 1611 until the second half of the 18th century.

The teachers of the school included: professor of rhetoric St. Andrew Bobola (c. 1591-1657), Wojciech Szweykowski (1773-1838) - the first rector of the University of Warsaw. Famous students include: Hieronim Napoleon Bońkowski (1807-1886), who later became a teacher of children of Adam Mickiewicz; Honorat Koźmiński (1829-1916) beatified by Pope John Paul II, president of the Second Republic of Poland, professor at the Lviv Polytechnic Ignacy Moscicki (1867-1946) , colonel of aviation, fighter in the Battle of Britain, commander of the Polish wing and the famous 303 Squadron Jan Zumbach (1915-1986) and Tadeusz Mazowiecki (1927-2013) - the first Prime Minister of the Third Republic of Poland.

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland


Written on her bones: the life of a Mixtec woman

A study of the skeleton of a young Mixtec woman who lived in the Late Post Classic period (A.D. 1250-1540) in Mexico, has revealed a range of both genetic diseases and work related skeletal damage. The results are now part of an exhibition in the Regional Historical Museum of Ensenada, Baja California called Itandikaa Ndiko’o Flor de la eternidad (Itandikaa Ndiko’o -  Flower of Eternity).
Physical anthropologist Martha Alfaro Castro and a teams of doctors from the Civil Hospital of Oaxaca who are specialists in genetics, orthopaedics, radiology and dentistry, conducted an interdisciplinary study of the skeleton, found in 2007 in the Mixteca Alta of Oaxaca during a rescue excavation.
The different phases of the analysis, as well as some of the major pathologies detected in the skeletal remains, are presented in 37 photographs as well as seven watercolours created by Oaxacan artist Arrona Ernesto Santiago and acrylic on bark paper by Juan Francisco Lopez Ruiz.

Genetic syndrome

The archaeological materials were transferred to the laboratory of the Centro INAH Oaxaca Osteology, where anthropologist Alfaro Castro performed the analysis of the skeletal remains.
“She suffered a genetic syndrome known as Klippel-Feil Syndrome, that usually causes facial asymmetry and merging of some cervical vertebrae, with the consequent shortening of the neck and mobility limitation in this anatomic region,”  explained Alfaro.
“She also presented a deformation of the shoulder blades, caled Sprengel Deformation , responsible for further asymmetry of the shoulders that gave the women the appearance of having one shoulder higher than the other”  the researcher concluded.

An active life

The osteological evidence, the archaeological context and ethnohistoric sources indicate that women probably belonged to a lower social stratum and despite the health problems associated with the genetic syndrome had an active life and performed a variety of physical tasks from a very early age.
There is osteological evidence to suggest that she was carrying heavy loads on her back with the help of a band or backstrap – which caused vertebrae compression (see painting above).  She also spent much of her time squatting or kneeling which corresponds to tasks such as shelling corn and maize cobs, as well as preparing clay for pottery making, which caused some changes in bones in the region of the knee and feet.
Normally we see the elite of the society, but here we can meet and appreciate the life and work of an ordinary person from the Mixtec culture.” said Alfaro Castro
The exhibition is presented in the city of Ensenada on the initiative of the director of the Baja California INAH Centre, archaeologist Bendímez Julia Patterson, and the director of the Regional Historical Museum of Ensenada, Mario Acevedo Andrade, with the purpose of making aspects of ancient cultures of the south such as the Mixteca more accessible.


The exhibition will be at the Regional Historical Museum of Ensenada, until January 2014, the site is located in avenue Gastelum s/n, Ensenada, Baja California.
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00.
Admission is free.