02 FEVRIER 2011


 - 02  FEVRIER

 - FRANCE – Chartres - A la suite de travaux de réseau menés dans la rue Vangeon et dans tout le quartier Saint-Brice, les archéologues ont fait une importante découverte liée au temple du sanctuaire de Saint-Martin-au-Val. Pas de doute, il s'agit bien d'une construction gallo-romaine, comme le sanctuaire découvert près de l'église Saint-Martin-au-Val. « Ces murs utilisent la même technique de construction et ont la même orientation que le sanctuaire, cela correspond au plan restitué », affirment les archéologues. Située à l'angle de la rue Vangeon et de la place Saint-Brice, cette construction en mortier et avec des assises en mortier hydraulique et briques mesure 1,5 mètre de long sur plus d'un mètre de large « mais cette largeur n'est pas significative car on a retrouvé des traces d'une largeur supérieure à deux mètres », détaille Apolline Louis, assistante de conservation au service archéologie de la municipalité. Il correspondrait au mur intérieur du portique de l'édifice. Un peu plus loin, les engins de chantier ont aussi permis de mettre au jour un autre mur, situé juste devant le numéro 5 de la rue Vangeon. « Celui-ci fait trois mètres de large, il répondrait à l'emplacement du mur extérieur », précise l'archéologue. Enfin, un troisième vestige a été découvert un peu plus haut, à proximité du feu tricolore qui sépare la rue Vangeon et la rue de Reverdy, à l'intersection de la rue Saint-Brice. Et c'est ce dernier qui présente le plus d'intérêt. « Nous ne le connaissions pas, il pourrait être le signe de la présence du temple », dit Apolline Louis. Un élément corrobore cette hypothèse : « Nous avons découvert un très grand sol en mortier de plus de 30 mètres de long. C'était une pièce très importante, dont nous n'avons pas la largeur. Malheureusement, il n'y a pas de traces de mobilier ou d'utilisation. Cela pourrait correspondre à l'architecture d'un sanctuaire qui a la forme d'un très grand rectangle avec un temple proéminent sur le côté ouest. Cela existe ailleurs. » Si elle s'avérait, cette théorie mettrait fin aux longues recherches entreprises pour trouver ce temple, notamment place Saint-Brice et sur le parvis de l'église Saint-Martin-au-Val. Les archéologues attendaient cette découverte pour tenter de comprendre à quelle divinité ce sanctuaire construit à partir de 60 après Jésus-Christ était dédié.


 - ROYAUME-UNI – Tauton - A unique medieval mural of Henry VIII has been discovered by a couple renovating their Tudor home. They uncovered the 20ft wide, six ft high, wall painting as they peeled back wallpaper and mortar from their grade II listed home. The priceless picture, which shows the monarch sitting on his throne wearing his crown and holding a sceptre, is thought to have been painted shortly after the house was built at the turn of the 15th century.  At the time it was the home of Thomas Cranmer, the Archdeacon of Taunton who went onto become the Archbishop of Canterbury and helped Henry break from the Catholic Church and set up the Church of England. Though the artist is unknown, it is thought to be unique. The only other known mural of the King, painted in the Palace of Whitehall, was destroyed when it burned down in the 16th century. Cranmer was chosen to be Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533 and immediately declared Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon void, and four months later married him to Anne Boleyn. With Thomas Cromwell, he supported the translation of the bible into English. In 1545, he wrote a litany that is still used in the church. In 1549, he helped complete the book of common prayer. After Edward VI's death, Cranmer supported Lady Jane Grey as successor. Her nine-day reign was followed by the Roman Catholic Mary I, who tried him for treason. After a long trial and imprisonment, he was forced to proclaim to the public his error in the support of Protestantism, an act designed to discourage followers of the religion. Despite this, Cranmer was sentenced to be burned to death in Oxford on 21 March 1556. He dramatically stuck his right hand, with which he had signed his recantation, into the fire first.


 - INDE --  Chennai - When the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology (DAHA) of the University of Madras conducted a workshop on "Archaeological reflections of culture and civilisation of Tamils" , a wealth of interesting trivia about coins in the Sangam period (300 BC to 300 AD) came to light. "There are at least 1000 different symbols embossed on coins from that period," said retired professor of University of Madras, P Shanmugam. Students were keen to know why certain symbols such as elephant, sun and mountain, appeared more often than others. "The symbols must have reflected day to day life. Objects that powerfully represented daily life were embossed more often than others on coins," said Shanmugam. Given the available technology during that period, it was a challenge to emboss symbols on a 2-cm square punch-marked coin of the Sangam Pandyas. "There are at least five symbols on a single coin. This speaks volumes about the artistic creativity of an ancient society," he said. When you examine each coin carefully, you will be able to decipher how they were transformed depending on usage and demand. "Punch-marked coins actually come from the pre-Mouria period (before emperor Ashoka). The Chera, Chola, Pandyas of the Sangam period used it. Initially, they printed each symbol separately, but as the demand increased they started printing the symbols together on coins using a single mold," the retired professor explained. Most Sangam period coins, excavated from various parts of Tamil Nadu, were made of copper. There are some silver coins, but gold coins have not been found so far. Some coins even had legends in ancient Tamil Brahmi embossed on them. In Tami Nadu, the Amaravati bed of Karur is where coins from the Sangam period as well as from countries like Egypt and Rome were mostly found. "Coins from the Sangam period were found in Sri Lanka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The Amaravati river bed is a treasure house of coins, not only from the Sangam period, but from different parts of the world, like Egypt and Rome. This shows that global trade existed even in those days.


 - MEXIQUEHundreds of sunken boats and thousands of other items that lie hidden in the ocean, rivers, lakes and cave pools and that make up part of Mexico’s cultural heritage each year are the much-desired booty of marine treasure hunters.  There are up to 250 sunken boats registered in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean but it is estimated that there are thousands of vessels, both large and small, that sank off the country’s coasts. In addition, some 30 areas of items have been tallied in cenotes and sunken caves where ancient civilizations like the Maya deposited bodies, personal objects and food in conducting their spiritual rituals. The treasures of Mexico are exposed to looting by adventurers who erase the traces of the country’s forebears. The boats that sank in Mexico belonged to the series of fleets that starting in the 16th century were used by the colonizers to transport people and merchandise from the New World to Spain. These vessels were mainly loaded with cargoes of gold, silver and precious stones that the colonies sent to Madrid as tribute to offset the expenses of the Spanish monarchy. Since the 1970s, INAH has refused more than 30 requests to do salvage work on sunken vessels that have been found in Mexican waters. One of those requests came from Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., which became famous in 2007 after salvaging $500 million in gold and silver coins from the wreck of a Spanish ship that sank in an 1804 battle off the coast of Portugal, though U.S. courts must still decide whether the treasure rightfully belongs to the firm or to Spain’s government. In Mexico, Odyssey intended to explore the Nuestra Señora del Juncal, a galleon that sank in 1631 in the Bay of Campeche while en route to Spain as part of a fleet comprising 18 other vessels. The Juncal is one of the vessels most sought after by underwater salvage firms because it is the first in the country for which it is known for certain that there is a cargo of treasure within the wreck. According to the magazine Arqueologia Mexicana, that fleet set sail from the Port of San Juan de Ulua, in Veracruz, bearing a cargo of silver, silk, leather, precious woods and chocolate.


 - ISRAËL  - Jérusalem - The pursuit of a gang of grave robbers has led to the discovery of an ancient church outside Jerusalem that may contain the burial place of the biblical prophet Zechariah, Israeli authorities said Wednesday. The hill-top church was destroyed by an earthquake some 1,300 years ago and lay partly buried until detectives from Israel's Antiquities Authority, pursuing a gang of antiquity thieves, noticed an elaborate doorpost poking through the earth. The robbers got away -- they were caught a few months later at a site nearby -- but after weeks of digging, archaeologists uncovered the remains of the church. It was about the size of a basketball court and contained fallen marble pillars and a nearly pristine 10-meter-long mosaic floor.



Beneath the church's altar is a burial chamber that the Antiquities Authority said may have been the tomb of the prophet Zechariah, known from the eponymous book in the Bible, written around 520 BC. The claim, which a number of experts have based on Christian sources and an ancient diagram known as the Madaba Map, has not been proved and is still being studied, they said. Shai Bartura, Ganor's deputy, said the building, which was used between the 5th and 7th Century AD, was a unique discovery because of its size and good condition. Like many ancient structures, it was built on even older foundations dating back to the Roman Empire and the period of the second Jewish Temple. It includes a subterranean complex of caves and tunnels used by Jewish rebels fighting the Romans in the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132 AD.


 - ROYAUME-UNI –   FolkestoneWork has begun on an archaeological project proving that Folkestone was a major gateway to the Mediterranean 90 years before the Roman invasion. Over 300 bags of Roman coins, pottery and wine vessels have been removed from the site of the Roman villa on the cliffs above Folkestone. Dr Andrew Richardson from the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, which has been excavating the site, said the villa on Folkestone's West Cliff is continuing to erode over the edge and archaeologists are hoping to capture as much information from the site before it crumbles into the sea. The villa was built on the site of an iron age roundhouse and was a key trading post on the routes between the Mediterranean and Britain.



The newly opened shop on Tontine Street, Folkestone is being used as a workshop where conservation work can be done on the finds. The shop is open to the public most days where they can learn about the on-going excavation of the Roman villa site and find out about how to volunteer with A Town Unearthed Project.