17/12/2019: Kefalonia - Paris - Tuna el-Jebel - Par-Tee -
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SUMMER TERM : JANUARY 2020
GRECE – Kefalonia - Two thousand years ago, this ship was crossing the Mediterranean Sea full of its cargo of amphorae - large terracotta pots that were used in the Roman Empire for transporting wine and olive oil. For some reason, it never made it to its destination. But having languished at the bottom of the sea for around two millennia, it has now been rediscovered by archeologists, along with its cargo, and dated to between 100 BCE and 100 CE. And it has already been judged to be the largest classical shipwreck found in the eastern Mediterranean. The wreck of the 35-metre ship, along with its cargo of 6,000 amphorae, was discovered at a depth of around 60m during a sonar-equipped survey of the seabed off the coast of Kefalonia - one of the Ionian islands off the west coast of Greece. The survey was carried out by the Oceanus network of the University of Patras, using artificial intelligence image-processing techniques. The research was funded by the European Union Interreg program. It is the fourth largest shipwreck from the period ever found in the entire Mediterranean and is of "significant archaeological importance," according to George Ferentinos from the University of Patras, who along with nine of his fellow academics has unveiled the discovery in the Journal of Archeological Science. "The amphorae cargo, visible on the seafloor, is in very good state of preservation and the shipwreck has the potential to yield a wealth of information about the shipping routes, trading, amphorae hull stowage and ship construction during the relevant period," they wrote.
FRANCE – Paris - After a wildfire on April 15 that consumed its roof and spire, Paris’s Notre-Dame Cathedral is undergoing massive repair work. The site remains closed to the public but rare access inside the cathedral has been granted to see how things are coming along, and to get a sense of the task that still lies ahead. Once inside Notre-Dame, there is a quiet stillness. The floor of the nave has been cleared except for some piles of gravel. It rains inside the church. One has to look up to understand just how much work has to be done. There are gaping holes in the vaults of the ceiling, twisted piles of burned metal and wood, and at the summit, partially burned scaffolding towers overhead, still in danger of collapsing. The 300-ton structure must be reinforced before it can be taken down slowly, piece by piece, a process expected to take until June. In front of the cathedral, tents shelter much of the precious debris. Tens of thousands of pieces of stone and some metal that archeologists are in the process of restoring. But today the chief architect has a different priority. He's concerned about the vaults in the ceiling: “If we remove the burned wood and the pieces of the framing that burned, and the metal elements that accumulated since April 15th, we don't know what will happen. So today we absolutely cannot say that Notre-Dame has been saved.”
EGYPTE – Tuna el-Jebel - Archaeologists in Egypt’s central Minya governorate have uncovered a small statue of a royal sphinx. The Egyptian Archaeological Mission, led by Sayed Abdel-Malek, discovered the statue in the Tuna El Jebel archaeological area, where two cemeteries housing 40 mummies were uncovered early last year. Gamal Al Samastawy, director general of the antiquities for middle Egypt, said the limestone sphinx head is 35cm high and 55cm wide. It isn’t the only find from the third mission to excavate the Tuna El Jebel area, 270km south of Cairo. Archaeologists also found ancient amulets and pottery, clay pots of various shapes and sizes, and an alabaster bottle. Those working on the site said a survey and archaeological excavations will continue to find out why the statue was found in the location.
USA – Par-Tee site - Fragments of mini-sized weapons found by archaeologists on the West Coast of the United States show how Native American children were taught survival skills almost 2,000 years ago. The artefacts from the Par-Tee burial site in Oregon are believed to be fragments of atlatls - dart-throwing devices that pre-date the bow and arrow. They provide evidence that the North American inhabitants of around 1,500 years ago used scaled-down weapons to teach the next generation essential life skills. We found that people at this site were using a learning strategy still used today with children learning some sports,’ said Robert Losey, lead author of the study of the findings. ‘Basically, they scaled-down their atlatls so they were more easily usable in small hands. This helped children master the use of these weapons.’ The atlatl fragments were found to be made of whalebone and constructed specifically to fit the hands of children. The atlatl features a grip at one end and a hook for the dart at the opposite end - sometimes with a weight attached for leverage. Parts of the atlat that were uncovered were fragments of the grip hook, through which the young user inserted the fingers of their throwing arm. The ability to operate such weapons was a critical skill but not an easy one to master, according to the researchers. Those who did master using the device would have had more success with hunting, which is why children would have been made familiar with it early on -much like today’s aspiring young athletes. Children would have been trained with atlatls at the Par-Tee site between the years of AD 100 and AD 800. In southern California, a newer invention - the bow and arrow - appeared in some interior regions no earlier than AD 200 and would have reached further north around AD 900 or later.