04 JUILLET 2021 NEWS
INSTITUT SUPERIEUR D'ANTHROPOLOGIE
INSTITUTE OF ANTHROPOLOGY
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SUMMER TERM : JULY 2021
ALLEMAGNE – Eisleben - A 1,000-year-old church built by Otto the Great, who greatly extended the influence of the Catholic Church in Europe as Holy Roman Emperor, has been found under a cornfield in Germany. Archaeologists uncovered the foundation walls of the large church at the rediscovered Royal Palace of Helfta near Eisleben in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. The town is famous as the hometown of Martin Luther. The church was built by Otto I, traditionally known as Otto the Great, who was king of Germany from 936 and Holy Roman Emperor from 962 until his death in 973. "With a length of 98 feet (30 meters) and a width of around 66 feet (20 meters), Otto had effectively built a church that resembles a miniature cathedral," said project manager Felix Biermann. The church was founded before 968 and is believed to have been consecrated to Saint Radegund, the Thuringian princess and Frankish queen who founded the Abbey of the Holy Cross at Poitiers. The church, which existed for around 500 years, was demolished during the Reformation, the split of the Western Church into Protestantism and what is now the Roman Catholic Church. In addition to the foundation walls, a number of coins and a tiled stove from the 14th and 15th centuries, as well as a fragment of a bell, were found on the site. A cemetery containing 70 graves was also found, as well as several stone tombs from the 10th to the 15th century, which, according to Biermann, was "the burial place for the aristocratic families of the region."
INDE – Sivagalai - Archaeologists have discovered a full human skeleton inside an urn which they excavated from the Sivagalai archaeological site in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district. This is a first at the site where there are remnants of ancient civilisation. “We have found evidence of second burials before but this was the first time that we discovered a primary burial,” said site excavation director, M Prabhakaran. “We found the skeleton in a lying down position like the head had been positioned to a side and the legs were folded. The skull was severely damaged so we could only collect pieces.”
GUATEMALA – Itzan - Benjamin Keenan and his colleagues measured levels of organic molecules found in human and animal feces in Guatemala’s Laguna Itzan as a way to estimate the size of the population living in the nearby Maya city of Itzan. The researchers then compared the resulting population estimates with the historical record, archaeological evidence, and information about changes in climate and vegetation in the region beginning about 3,300 years ago. The study suggests that the Maya inhabited the area some 650 years earlier than previously thought, and continued to live in the city of Itzan after the so-called Maya “collapse” between A.D. 800 and 1000, when the area was believed to be deserted. Drought brought on population decline between 1350 and 950 B.C., and again from A.D. 90 to 280, and A.D. 730 to 900. A very wet period between 400 and 210 B.C. also caused a population decline. However, Keenan and his team recorded a low level of fecal stanols in the lake sediments at a time when archaeological evidence indicates there had been a large population living in the city. They think the Maya may have adapted to changes in climate conditions by diverting human waste from the lake and using it as a fertilizer for their crops. Finally, refugees are thought to have caused the population spike observed around A.D. 1697, when the Spanish attacked the last Maya stronghold in the southern Maya lowlands.
ITALIE – Vasca Votiva - Sturt Manning of Cornell University and his colleagues have dated the Vasca Votiva, a pit lined with wood unearthed in Italy’s Po Valley in 2004, to between 1436 and 1428 B.C. through a study of the timbers’ growth rings and levels of carbon-14. The pit was about 40 feet long, 23 feet wide, more than ten feet deep, and lined with poles, planks, and beams of oak, elm, and walnut. Layers of sediment in the pit revealed that the structure held water. No channels to distribute the water were found, however. “As you would have come up to this thing, as soon as you’d been able to start to see the surface, you would have seen effectively the edge of the land around the sky,” Manning said. Looking at the reflected sky, he explained, might have been understood as entering another world. Pottery and figurines found in the Vasca Votiva also suggest it was used in rituals. Traces of a larger tank were also uncovered at the site, but it is thought to have collapsed as it was being built, some ten years before the Vasca Votiva.
ANGLETERRE - Huntingdonshire - More than 50 skeletons were discovered at a Roman burial site on a farm, in Huntingdonshire. The remains were found at Knobb’s Farm, in Somersham. Three cemeteries were then uncovered by archaeologists from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU) and a total of 52 bodies were discovered, with 17 decapitated individuals believed to be victims of Roman execution methods. “So the team were able to look at the neck and the head under the microscope and identify the traces left by a sword and the direction of the cut, so in three bodies we can identify they were decapitated by sword." Enough structures had survived for the archaeological team to determine that the site probably originated as a late Iron Age settlement and was abandoned by the third century AD. Dr Isabel Lisboa said: “It is a major contribution to the understanding of Roman Britain. “Allying the detailed bone study and setting the practice of decapitation against the local socio-political context, as the cemetery is surrounded by unusually large settlements which are proposed to be sponsored farm, supplying food for the Roman army. "This has allowed us to understand why so and the date of the cemeteries (a time of social and political instability) allows us to understand why there are such large proportion of decapitations.
INDE - Balasore - Archaeologists have discovered fortified historical sites in Odisha's Balasore district. Articles, dating back from 2000 BC to 100 BC and belonging to the Chalcolithic phase, Iron age and Early Historic period have been recovered for the first time in Durgadevi and Ranasahi in Balasore. Located 20 km from Balasore town, bordering the Mayurbhanj district, the Durgadevi site has a circular mud fortification of about 4.9 km in circumference between the river Sona on the south and Burahabalang on its north-eastern side. The three cultural phases discovered at the site are — Chalcolithic (2000 to 1000 BC), Iron Age (1000 to 400 BC) and Early Historic Period (400 to 200 BC). These phases cover the time period from 2000 BC to 200 BC, which means 4000 to 2000 years from the current time. During excavation, the excavators discovered the base of circular huts, black on red painted pottery, black slipped ware, red slipped ware and copper objects belonging to the Chalcolithic period (2000 to 1000 B.C.).The floor of the circular huts was rammed with red soil mixed with Genguti. The base of the circular hut and utilitarian objects indicated the lifestyle of people, who were mostly leading a settled life with agriculture, domestication of animals and fishing as occupation. The evidence and remains of the Iron Age period (1000 to 400 B.C.) found from the area included pottery remains of black burnished ware, black and red ware, red polished fine black ware with slip and chocolate ware, terracotta sling balls, hopscotch along with iron objects like nails, arrowhead, crucible and slag of various kinds. The lifestyle of this phase is marked little improved and it depended on agriculture and production of various other crops. People during this period also led a settled life. The use of iron is a landmark phase in the growth of civilization in Odisha, particularly in North Odisha.