CHYPRE – Archae Frangkissa - Archaeologists excavating near ancient Tamassos have located one of the most important sanctuaries discovered in Cyprus to date, more than 100 years after its exact position was forgotten, the department of antiquities said on Wednesday. The Sanctuary of Apollo at Frangkissa, with its wealth of sculptures, was subject to a rescue operation in 1885 by the German archaeologist Max Ohnefalsch-Richter. Most of the finds were taken to museums abroad although some, including the famous Colossus of Tamassos, are in the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia. The sanctuary’s location was subsequently forgotten and sought in vain through the years. Fittingly, archaeologists linked to two German universities have now rediscovered the sanctuary. The survey revealed a high concentration of sherds, but also fragments of ancient sculptures and terracotta figurines in a relatively narrowly defined area. A geophysical survey by GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) carried out in cooperation with the University of Cyprus under the direction of Apostolos Sarris confirmed these findings. According to the survey, deep structures in the ground can only be found in the part of the valley that was also prominent in the archaeological survey. A preliminary analysis of the finds showed that the area had been occupied since the Iron Age and was used throughout the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods. The numerically smaller finds from the Roman and Byzantine era are considerably more eroded and probably originate from a settlement further downstream, which is already known. The finds from earlier periods, however, which can be ascribed to the use of the sanctuary of Apollo, are relatively well-preserved. They probably originate from the debris of the 1885 excavations and were overlooked at that time. In particular, the numerous fragments of limestone figures and large-size terracotta statues prove that these are the remains of an ancient sanctuary, as corresponding finds in settlements and necropoleis are uncommon. In fact, the types of figurative finds correspond exactly to the material excavated in 1885 which is now in museums in Canada, Great Britain, Ireland and possibly even Russia. Only a small part of the finds from 1885 have remained in Cyprus and are now in the Cyprus Museum. The characteristic finds are small chariots, riders and warrior figures in terracotta and large hollow terracotta statues of up to life size depicting the donators. Many draped figures of votaries were also made of limestone. Besides these human figures, many fragments especially of horses (or riders on horses) have been found. Confirmation that the site of the important sanctuary of Apollo has been identified in this area was also provided by the location of an almost 15-metre long trial trench, which can be traced back to the activities of 1885 and which is also mentioned in the old excavation reports, the department added. A detailed investigation of the area as part of an archaeological excavation is planned for spring 2021.


ARABIE SAOUDITE – Footprints 1600874826 Nefud - A uniquely preserved prehistoric mudhole could hold the oldest-ever human footprints on the Arabian Peninsula, scientists say. The seven footprints, found amidst a clutter of hundreds of prehistoric animal prints, are estimated to be 115,000 years old. Many fossil and artifact windfalls have come from situations like this special lakebed in northern Saudi Arabia. Archaeologists uncovered the site, deep in the Nefud Desert at a location nicknamed “the trace” in Arabic, in 2017, after time and weather wiped the overlying sediment away. In their new paper, the scientists actually examine why that ancient mud was so special at all: “An experimental study of modern human footprints in mud flats found that fine details were lost within 2 days and prints were rendered unrecognizable within four, and similar observations have been made for other non-hominin mammal tracks.” “Seven hominin footprints were confidently identified, and given the fossil and archeological evidence for the spread of H. sapiens into the Levant and Arabia during [the era 130,000 to 80,000 years ago] and absence of Homo neanderthalensis from the Levant at that time, we argue that H. sapiens was responsible for the tracks at Alathar. In addition, the size of the Alathar footprints is more consistent with those of early H. sapiens than H. neanderthalensis.” “The lack of archaeological evidence suggests that the Alathar lake was only briefly visited by people,” the scientists conclude. “These findings indicate that transient lakeshore use by humans during a dry period of the last interglacial was likely primarily tied to the need for potable water.” These Homo sapiens could be the last ones on their way through a temperate place as an impending ice age descends. That would also explain why their tracks weren’t tracked over by another group, at least not before an entire fresh layer of sediment accumulated.


CARAÏBES – Cannibaltop 800x533 - In his accounts of encounters with the inhabitants of the Caribbean Islands in the 15th century, Christopher Columbus made several allusions to Carib raids upon peaceful Arawak villages, including sensational claims of the invaders eating the men and taking the women as wives. "I saw some who had marks of wounds on their bodies and I made signs to them asking what they were," Columbus wrote in one account from his first voyage, upon arriving on the Bahamian island of Guanahani. "They showed me how people from other islands nearby came there and tried to take them, and how they defended themselves; and I believed and believe that they come Tierra Firme to take them captive." Most archaeologists have long dismissed these accounts as myths, but new scientific tools are helping shed light on the truth of the Caribbean's original islanders. And the conflicting results of two separate studies, published 11 months apart, are raising fresh questions. The results of an analysis of facial characteristics from ancient human skulls from the region seemed to indicate Columbus' account was accurate, according to a January paper published in Scientific Reports. But a follow-up paper published last week in Nature yields a different picture with its combination of genetic analysis with decades of archaeological research.According to Keegan, the working hypothesis among archaeologists has long been that the Caribs only arrived in the region shortly before Europeans, and even then were found only in the Windward Islands at the Lesser Antilles, based on decorations found on ancient pottery. It was assumed Caribs had never made it farther north than Guadalupe. He himself ascribed to that view until the facial characteristic analysis showed evidence of a distinct third migratory group—evidence that Carib marauders did indeed invade Jamaica, Hispaniola, and the Bahamas. Keegan ruefully admitted at the time that he set out to prove Columbus was wrong, but the January findings seemed to prove the famed explorer right. Then came the results of the DNA study, which showed only two distinct migratory groups, once again muddying the waters. "We have several different notions of what Carib might be," Keegan told Ars. "We have cultural evidence, we have Columbus' reports, we have the accounts of French missionaries in the 1700s. Trying to sort through what all these different Caribs are, or whether they're even just one single cultural group, is what we were hoping that the DNA would help sort out. But as often happens in science, our questions are more subtle than our data."


CHINE – Xinjiang - Archaeologists have found a housing site dating back about 3,300 years in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, authorities said. The housing site, covering some 1,240 square meters and consisting of 12 rooms including an anteroom, a kitchen and a warehouse, was discovered in the Kazak Autonomous County of Barkol. The site had been renovated, used and abandoned at least three times, according to Ren Meng from Northwest University who is a leading member of the archaeological team. The first use of the site was estimated at between 1,300 BC and 1,100 BC, and the second from 1,100 BC to 900 BC. During the first two times, the structure of the site remained basically unchanged. Archaeologists basically identified the location of the kitchen on the basis of excavated relics, such as stoves, ash pits as well as barley in potteries, and inferred the positions of the main room and warehouse by analyzing the layout, wall structure and unearthed relics. "We have decided to call the site 'the luxury lake-view house' because it features a complicated structure and is located near the Barkol Lake," Ren said. Excavations revealed that by the time the site was rebuilt and used for the third time dating from 900 BC to 800 BC, the walls of the house had been buried and turned into earthen mounds. Besides, two artificial platforms were also built atop the mounds. Based on fragmented pottery, barley, as well as traces of fire use, archeologists speculated that the site at that time was no longer a house with tall walls, but tent-like structures set up on the platforms. "Both the tent-style structures built to replace the original house and the rough pottery discovered there indicate people seemingly had opted for a nomadic lifestyle during that period," Ren said. To explore the impact of environmental changes on human activities, the archeology team and the department of geology at Northwest University conducted a study on the changes in the surface of the Barkol Lake. The study found that before 1,000 BC, the water level of the lake was much higher than today, and the local climate was relatively warm and humid. After 1,000 BC, the lake began to recede, the climate became dry and cool, and drought-resistant plants began to grow on the grassland. "It is likely that in the process of climate change, human beings at that time found the original lifestyle unsustainable, so they gradually embraced a nomadic life," said Ren, adding that the discovery is of great significance to figuring out key issues such as ascertaining the origin of the nomadic economy in the region.