01 MARS 2023 NEWS
INSTITUT SUPERIEUR D'ANTHROPOLOGIE
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CHILI - Rapa Nui - A new moai statue has been found on Rapa Nui, a Chilean territory also known as Easter Island, prompting excitement among researchers that there may yet be others waiting to be discovered. The sacred monument, which is smaller than most others on the island, was found buried in a dry lake bed. This area is not usually accessible to humans but had dried out most likely due to climate-related weather conditions, allowing archaeologists to attempt an excavation.There are approximately 1,000 moai on Easter Island. These monolithic human figures were carved out of volcanic rock some 500 years ago by the Polynesian tribe Rapa Nui. They are believed to embody ancestral spirits and were placed in a ring around the island, facing inwards.
ITALIE – Pompéi - In a new research project by a team of archaeologists, archaeobotanists, numismatic volcanologists, ancient topographers, as well as architects, engineers and geologists, the project led by the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, is excavating a large area of 3,200 m2. The excavation area is focused on Insula 10 of Regio IX, which occupies the central part of Pompeii, bounded to the north by the Via di Nola, to the west by the Via Stabiana, and to the south by the Via dell’Abbondanza. The team have already started to reveal the masonry ridges of the upper floors of ancient buildings. This includes a house first studied in 1912, which was converted in its later stages into a fullonica (Roman laundry) and contains an oven in the upper cell.A series of holes identified in the upper stratigraphic levels demonstrate the agricultural use of the land or are perhaps linked to the lapilli quarrying activities in the modern era.
ARMENIE – Metsamor - The Metsamor archaeological site in Armenia, near the border with Turkey, was inhabited from the 4th millennium B.C. until the 17th century, according to a news release from Science in Poland. Layers upon layers of human life have accumulated at the settlement. The oldest portion of Metsamor was a settlement surrounded by walls with a necropolis, or cemetery, nearby, experts said. A joint team of Polish and Armenian archaeologists decided to excavate the necropolis, according to the Feb. 27 news release. The archaeologists uncovered a stone tomb where two people were buried, according to a news release from Armenia’s Service for the Protection of Historical Environment and Cultural Museum-Reserves. The tomb was just almost a square, measuring about 8 feet by 7 feet. The floor of the tomb was made of stones with a funeral bed placed on top, archaeologists said. The two skeletons were found touching at the hip but facing opposite directions. A man and a woman, most likely a couple, were buried in this tomb between 1300 and 1200 B.C., Polish archaeologists said. The well-preserved bones indicated the pair had slightly shrunken legs and died between the age of 30 and 40. Researchers don’t know how the couple died, but they died together, archaeologist Krzysztof Jakubiak told Science in Poland. Their tomb showed no signs of being reopened — either for a second burial or for looting. Buried around the pair was a rich collection of treasure. Archaeologists found over 100 jewelry beads, including several gold pendants. The mixture of beads, mostly made from gold and carnelian, a red-brown stone, likely formed three necklaces, Jakubiak said in the release. A vase imported from the Syrian-Mesopotamian region was also uncovered from the 3,200-year-old tomb, researchers said. This imported vessel was one of about a dozen pottery items found. A bronze bracelet was found around the wrist of one skeleton; a thin, tin ring found on the other’s wrist, Armenian archaeologists said. Beyond the necropolis, Metsamor also boasts a fortress complex used from the 11th to 9th century B.C., Polish archaeologists said. This complex is surrounded by temples with seven sanctuaries. The ruins of a large columned hall, likely a public building, dating from this Iron Age period were also found at the site, according to a news release from Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Warsaw.
PEROU – Puno - Police in Peru have seized a mummified human, between 600 and 800 years old, from a former food delivery man who claimed to have had it at his home for three decades. According to the Ministry of Culture, the pre-Hispanic relic was a "mummified adult male individual, presumably from the eastern area of Puno", a region in the Peruvian Andes some 1,300 kilometers (more than 800 miles) southeast of Lima. The mummy was of a man at least 45 years old. The body was wrapped in bandages in the fetal position.
POLOGNE – Małopolska - Prehistoric stone tools found in a cave in Poland 50 years ago were recentlyidentified as some of the oldest ever discovered in the region. The tools from the Tunel Wielki cave in Małopolska are between 450,000 and 550,000 years old. This dating may allow scientists to learn more about the humans who made them, and their migration and habitation in Central Europe across prehistory. For example, the timeframe likely means that the tools were made by extinct human species Homo heidelbergensis, usually considered the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans (us). And it means the region was inhabited by humans at a time that Central Europe's harsh climate would have required significant physical and cultural adjustment. "This is an extremely interesting aspect of analyses for us," archaeologist Małgorzata Kot of the University of Warsaw in Poland explained to Science in Poland back in October 2022 when the research was released. "We can examine the limits of the possibilities of survival of Homo heidelbergensis, and thus observe how he adapted to these adverse conditions." Tunel Wielki cave was excavated in the 1960s, with archaeologists returning again to the site in 2016. Layers of material were dated to the Holocone, dating back to around 11,700 years ago, and the Middle Paleolithic, stretching as far as 40,000 years ago. But archaeologist Claudio Berto of the University of Warsaw thought the dating was at odds with what he was observing. Animal bones recovered from the site, he concluded, were almost certainly older than 40,000 years. So, in 2018, Kot and her team returned to the cave. They reopened and extended one of the trenches, carefully examining the different layers of material accumulated over the years, and collecting more bone material to analyze. They found that the upper layers did indeed contain the bones of animals that lived in the Late Pleistocene and the Holocene. But the bottom layer was distinctly older. It contained the bones of several species that lived half a million years ago: the European jaguar, Panthera gombaszoegensis; the Mosbach wolf, ancestor to modern gray wolves, Canis mosbachensis; and Deninger's bear, Ursus deningeri.The layer that yielded the bones also contained evidence of flint knapping, including flint flakes, the "blanks" from which other tools can be shaped, and the cores from which they are struck. There were also some finished tools, such as knives."Since these items come from the same layer as the bones, it means that their age is very similar," Kot explained. "This assumption was confirmed by excavations carried out in the cave in 2018. They confirmed the arrangement of layers described by researchers half a century ago. We also discovered more production waste and animal bones. Previously, she added, there were only two known sites in Poland with tools from around the same time period: Trzebnica and Rusko. But the Tunel Wielki cave artifacts are different. Several archaeological sites in the area show evidence of ancient human habitation – but they are all open-air sites.To find artifacts dating from that time in a cave is, according to Kot, very unexpected."We were surprised that half a million years ago people in this area stayed in caves, because those were not the best places to camp," she noted."Moisture and low temperature would discourage that. On the other hand, a cave is a natural shelter. It is a closed space that gives a sense of security. We found traces that may indicate that the people who stayed there used fire, which probably helped tame these dark and moist places." Also of interest was the technique used to knap the flint found in the cave. This technique is the simplest used by ancient humans, and, at the time the tools were created, rarely used as a primary mode; usually, it was only used on poor-quality materials, or when flint was in short supply.Only one other site, Isernia La Pineta in Italy, was using the technique as the primary one. The Tunel Wielki flint was not poor quality, nor was it scarce, being locally obtained. This was also the case for Isernia La Pineta; finding a second site with the same characteristics might help archaeologists work out the reason these ancient humans used that specific technique.The team hopes to return to the cave to search for bones of Homo heidelbergensis.The research was published in Scientific Reports.
ANGLETERRE – Bar Hill - A hair comb made from part of a human skull has been identified recently from among thousands of ancient artifacts recovered during archeological excavations around Cambridge, England. The comb, dubbed the Bar Hill Comb, was found by scientists from the Museum of London Archaeology in London, England. The ancient bone comb, "dating from the Iron Age (750 BC - 43 AD), was found at Bar Hill, four miles (6.4km) northwest of Cambridge," said the BBC. Only two other comparable artifacts have ever been found in Britain, both within 15 miles of where the comb was discovered. Though it's shaped like a comb and has teeth like a comb, the artifact's exact use is not known. It may provide important context around "ritual and belief" in Britain during the Iron Age, including "how human remains were looked after and sometimes modified within local communities," said the BBC. Objects made from human bone may have been used in special rituals around the dead, but others were apparently used as tools. "The Bar Hill Comb may have been a highly symbolic and powerful object for members of the local community," team lead Marshall said, according to BBC. Of the Bar Hill Comb, archeological team lead Marshall said, "It is possible it was carved from the skull of an important member of Iron Age society whose presence was in some way preserved and commemorated through their bones." Marshall said there is "no evidence of wear" on the comb teeth, suggesting it was never used as a comb, but instead worn as an amulet, said the BBC.
ISRAEL – Tel Lachish - When two friends went for a walk through an Israeli national park and archaeological site in December last year, the broken piece of ceramic they found stood out as being of immediate interest.The shard they found in Tel Lachish, an area of ruins with a rich biblical history, bore an Aramaic inscription. In what was once an ancient Canaanite and Israelite city, the pair suspected that they had stumbled across a real piece of history. They sent it off to an advanced analytical lab to be studied by experts from the Israel Antiquities Authority, who soon reported back that what they had found was evidence for the Persian royal administration at Lachish in the Archaemenid period around 2,500 years ago. The inscription reads ‘Year 24 of Darius’, in reference to Persian king Darius the Great, father of Ahasuerus – also known as the biblical Achashverosh from the Book of Esther, which is read annually on the Jewish festival of Purim. xperts believe that the inscription may have been an administrative note, not unlike a receipt for goods, with the fortified city of Lachish having been a regional centre for tax collection for the Persian king’s treasuries. The British Archaeological Expedition carried out excavations at Tel Lachish in the 1930s and uncovered an elaborate administrative building from the Persian period, built on top of the podium of the destroyed palace-fort of the Judean kings. The Persian-era residence extended over a large area and comprised elaborate halls and courtyards with a majestic columned portico entrance in Persian style.