04 NOVEMBRE 2023 NEWS
INSTITUT SUPERIEUR D'ANTHROPOLOGIE
INSTITUT OF ANTHROPOLOGY
COURS ONLINE – COURS A DISTANCE
EGYPTE – Abousir - In the 19th century, a French scholar named Auguste Mariette found the tomb of Ptahshepses, an ancient Egyptian high priest. He then partially excavated it, removing key parts of the tomb, like its intricate false door. After the extraction of these objects, the tomb disappeared under the sand, with its location remaining a mystery—until now. A team of Czech archaeologists have rediscovered this site, long thought lost to Egyptologists. The Czech Institute of Egyptology, part of the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, made the thrilling discovery. The tomb of Ptahshepses was found between the pyramid fields of Abusir and Saqqara, in Egypt. One of the most significant elements of this archeological site is that it contained the mummified remains of Ptahshepses, which date back to 4,400 years ago. The false door and lintel that were removed by Mariette are now exhibited in the British Museum. The door, which is a symbolic entrance the Egyptians believed the deceased could use to exit the tomb, also had significant inscriptions. These detailed carvings list the main events in Ptahshepses' life, from his birth under king Menkaure and his education at the palace to his marriage to the daughter of pharaoh Userkaf. Following the site’s rediscovery in 2022, the team carried out their excavations throughout 2023. After exposing the extensive 137.7-foot long and 72-foot wide structure of the mastaba—a rectangular structure found in Egyptian tombs—they finally entered the actual chamber. There, they spotted some of the original equipment used for the burial, like votive offerings, pottery, and a mummified fish. However, the most important finding was that of the mummified remains, which will shed light on the evolution of mummification.
TURQUIE – Dana - The ruins of the world’s largest and oldest ancient shipyard were found in the north of the island of Dana, located along the coastline of the Silifke district of Mersin province in the Mediterranean region of Türkiye. Dana Island is a small island in Turkey’s Rough Cilicia region, which is located near Silifke of Mersin. Because of the cedar trees in the Taurus mountains and iron ore deposits in the Gazipaşa and Anamur regions, the island’s region has been subject to international politics and trade since the Bronze Age. To date, many 276 slipways from different periods have been discovered in situ on the island. With the new finds, the number of sleds reached 294. This means nearly 300 ships could have been simultaneously built, and these were warships. We can consider that they were reconstructed within the same year and contributed to the naval power in the Mediterranean. The simultaneous construction of 300 ships is so significant that it could alter the political, military, and commercial balances in the Mediterranean.” Associate Professor Dr. Öniz highlighted that ships built on Dana Island were involved in various wars, including naval battles between the Sea Peoples migration during the Bronze Age and conflicts between Greeks and Persians. He stated, “The entire world is aware of the existence of a shipyard set up side by side on Dana Island in Mersin and the capability to build nearly 300 ships. These slipways also served as a place for the annual maintenance of wooden ships. We have proven that it is the world’s oldest, untouched, and preserved shipyard.” Dana Island’s slipways are mostly rock-cut and are classified based on their visible physical characteristics. The majority of the slipways were built side by side. The front parts of some slipways eroded away, but the back parts towards the mainland remained intact. There are also some unstudied rock-cut constructions behind large slipways that are likely special places for their service boats. Some slipways had also collapsed into the sea as a result of earthquakes.
ITALIE – Vulci - In Vulci Archaeological Park, central Italy, a 2,600-year-old intact double-chambered Etruscan tomb that was discovered in April and had remained untouched was opened. The double-chambered tomb located in the Osteria necropolis in Vulci, a rich Etruscan city in what is now northern Lazio, central Italy, is intact and contains extremely rare remains and artifacts. The tomb is approximately 2,600 years old and contains a rich collection of pottery, amphorae, utensils, cups, and a bronze cauldron. The objects are all in excellent condition, including a tablecloth that was used in the Etruscan religious ritual of the “last meal,” a food offering burned inside the tomb before it was sealed. In detail, the tomb is very large, double-chambered carved into the tuff, and architecturally noteworthy Simona Carosi, archaeologist in charge of the Archaeological and Nature Park, emphasizes how this find “gives us back in an unusual way the actual funerary banquet, as the Etruscans had laid it centuries and centuries ago.” Archaeologists found a large tomb with two chambers dug into the soft volcanic tufa. The first chamber contained four Etruscan transport amphorae for local wine. The second chamber contained amphorae and ceramics from eastern Greece, Ionia, Corinth, and local production including black bucchero pottery. Archaeologists believe the two amphorae in Chamber B came from the island of Chios, the most prized wine in the Greco-Roman world. A tripod bowl and iron objects were also found in Chamber B. As reported by Carlo Casi in the Messenger, director of the Vulci Foundation and host “Appears to be characterized by a septum spared in the rock that creates an archway between the dromos, that is, the short corridor with steps, and the vestibule, from which there was access to the two chambers, the front, and the left: the one, usual, on the right is missing, evidently because the space had already been occupied by other tombs.”
ITALIE – Este - After eight years of complex excavation, recovery, and restoration, a rare 3,300-year-old wooden yoke discovered in a Late Bronze Age pile-dwelling settlement in Este, Veneto, northern Italy, has been presented to the public. The archaeological discovery of a recent Bronze yoke (14th – 13th century BC) from the stilt house in Via Comuna in Este (province of Padua), in 2015, had not received the deserved response. In fact, it took eight years to complete the delicate restoration operations, while the study of the artifact and other materials is still ongoing, involving various scientific professionals. Finally, in 2023, the Padua Superintendency presented – at Palazzo Folco – the wooden finds from the Atestino site. . The wooden remains underwent radiocarbon and dendrochronological dating, which showed that the settlement was occupied between the middle of the 13th and middle of the 14th century B.C. Although there have been a few finds from this era made in the Este region before, this is the first instance of a clearly organized Bronze Age settlement. The yoke is a head yoke, used by attaching it to the neck of a pair of draft animals (probably oxen) and securing it to their horns with leather straps or ropes. Curved cut-outs were made to fit the yoke snugly around the animals’ horns. It was originally estimated to be one meter (3.2 feet long), but about foot of it — the section that was mounted to the second animal of the pair — did not survive the millennia. This yoke is significantly smaller than early modern yokes, indicating that domesticated bovines in Northern Italy during the Bronze Age were much smaller than they would later become. An ancient repair to one of the teeth in the yoke beam to which the horns were strapped is of particular archaeological interest. The farmer or craftsman must have broken it off while using it, and in order to place a new tooth, they dug out a square hole.
MEXIQUE – El Tigre - Archaeologists have a discovered an ancient structure in the jungles of Mexico that may have been linked to the cult of a Maya serpent deity. A team of researchers with the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) uncovered the circular structure at the archaeological site of El Tigre, Campeche state, in the Yucatán Peninsula. El Tigre likely corresponds to an ancient Maya settlement that was known as Itzamkanac, which was a regional capital and commercial hub. The inhabitants of the region were the Chontal or Putun Maya culture, who worshipped the serpent deity Kukulcán, among other gods. The recently discovered structure dates to the period 1000-1200 A.D. and could be linked to the cult of Kukulcán, who is equivalent to the wind god Quetzalcóatl of Aztec mythology, INAH said in a press release. The structure, which consists of two levels, likely supported a flat-roofed temple dedicated to Kukulcán, according to archaeologists. It is similar to several other structures that have previously been found across the Yucatán at sites such as Edzná, Becán, Uxmal and Chichen Itzá. The importance of the structure lies in its age, which corresponds to a time when the ancient Maya settlement maintained strong ties with other regions of Mesoamerica—such as central Mexico, Oaxaca and the Gulf coast. These links would have enabled the spread of religious ideas between the Chontal Maya and the other regions. For example, while the cult of Kukulcán had its origins in earlier Maya traditions, it may have also been influenced by the Quetzalcóatl cult. An important historical document of the region known as the Paxbolón Maldonado Papers, describes a settlement called Itzamkanac that features temples dedicated to the four main deities of the Postclassic period Maya, one of whom was Kukulcán. The latest discovery of the circular structure that potentially represents the remains of a temple dedicated to Kukulcán suggests that El Tigre is the city of Itzamkanac described in historical sources, given the site's location and other archaeological data, according to INAH researcher Ernesto Vargas Pacheco. "This building broadens our knowledge of the late occupation of El Tigre. Circular structures generally correspond to the early Postclassic period between A.D. 1000 and 1200, when the Maya zone had links with other regions of Mesoamerica," INAH general director Diego Prieto said at a press conference.
TURQUIE – Konuralp - The marble head, decapitated from its former body, was discovered in the remains of the upper levels of a Roman theater at Konuralp, north of Düzce, Turkey. Part of the Roman Empire, it has once been Alexander the Great's territory. However, the statue was created in the second century CE, over 400 years after the leader's death. Despite this temporal gap, archeologists were able to recognize it by the distinctive posture and hairstyle. Firstly, his eyes are lifted to heaven, a typical glance seen in depictions of Alexander. Additionally, the elegantly carved voluminous hair of the statue is iconically Alexander. “The two tufts of hair in the middle of the forehead, which are separated to the back and sides, are like a lion's mane,” reads a statement from Düzce. “This depiction is a hairstyle unique to Alexander the Great.” Also, Alexander was famous for preferring a clean-shaven look.
ALLEMAGNE – Eisleben - Archaeologists are scratching their heads over the 1,000-year-old remains of a woman, buried next to her husband, with her face and head hollowed out. The curious couple had been unearthed in the former royal palace of Helfta in Eisleben, in the German state of Saxony, The alleged bride, who stood at five feet, was lying next to her slightly bigger husband. It’s not yet clear how or when they died, however most peculiar was the fact that the wife was missing all the bones in her face while her husband’s countenance was still intact. Unfortunately, as of yet, the reason for the bride’s literal loss of face remains a mystery. Archaeologists are currently examining the remains at the lab to try and crack this 1,000-year-old cold case file. Experts did deduce that the pair were of noble blood due to the “royal accouterment” in the husband’s possession. “Among other things, they found a knife, a belt set and the fittings for a so-called official staff, such as those carried by generals, on him,” archaeologist Felix Biermann from the Saxony-Anhalt State Office for Monument Preservation and Archeology told the German newspaper Bild, per the Daily Mail. His other half, meanwhile, was interred sans possessions — a phenomenon that Biermann deemed quite “unusual” for a noblewoman. His only theory was that she and her grave-mate were ancient adherents to Christianity, which traditionally shunned being buried with baubles. However, this wouldn’t explain why the husband’s corpse was so ornately adorned.
VIET-NAM – Tam Chuc Pagoda Complex - Mai Thanh Chung, director of the Ha Nam Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said at a meeting Thursday that the remains were found during an excavation carried out by the Vietnam Institute of Archaeology at the Tam Chuc Pagoda Complex in Kim Bang District last March. Archaeologists discovered three graves of children and adults, with the people buried in a kneeling position. "This is the first-time human remains dating back 10,000 years have been discovered in Vietnam," said Chung. In addition to human remains, scientists also found in the excavation pit mollusk shells and teeth bones of small animals, which could have been food sources for ancient people.
ECOSSE – Stirling - A 2000-year-old ancient Roman road was unearthed in Old Inn Cottage’s garden near Stirling, Scotland. The site is located a few miles away from Stirling’s city center, next to the Old Stirling Bridge. It has been described as the most important road in Scottish history, the cobbled road was built by the Roman armies of General Julius Agricola in the 1st century AD and would have connected to a ford that crossed the River Forth. The road and the crossing would have been used again by the Romans in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD as units launched fresh invasions of Scotland under the emperors Antonine and Severan. To the south the road heads towards Falkirk and would eventually take you to England. To the north, it would take you a crossing over the Tay and the edge of the Roman Empire.
ESPAGNE – San Juan ante Portam Latinam - Hundreds of human remains unearthed from a burial site point to a warfare between Stone Age people long before the formation of powerful states in Europe, according to a new study. The evidence comes from a re-analysis of more than 300 sets of skeletal remains uncovered in northern Spain (radiocarbon dated to between 5,400 and 5,000 years ago). The bones are predominantly male and many have evidence of injuries from stabbing and blunt-force trauma – suggesting they belonged to a warrior class. The study pushes the first evidence of large-scale warfare back more than 1,000 years, and indicates that periods of conflict lasted for months on end. Previous research has suggested that conflicts during this period, known as the Late Neolithic, consisted of short raids lasting no more than a few days and involved small groups of 20-30 individuals. The assumption, therefore, was that early societies lacked the logistical capabilities to support longer, larger-scale conflicts. In the new study, researchers re-examined the skeletal remains of 338 people recovered from a mass grave site in a shallow cave in the Rioja Alavesa region of northern Spain. The site in question is San Juan ante Portam Latinam, a rock shelter in a valley in northern Spain. Teresa Fernández Crespo and colleagues from the University of Oxford re-examined the skeletal remains of 338 individuals for evidence of healed and unhealed injuries. Some 52 flint arrowheads had also been discovered at the same site, with previous research finding that 36 of these had minor damage associated with hitting a target. San Juan ante Portam Latinam is about 20 square meters in area. In that small space, researchers found densely packed human bones. They include 90 complete skeletons, over 200 partial skeletons and thousands of seemingly isolated bones. There were also many stone weapons, including blades, arrowheads, and axes. The authors found that 23.1% of the individuals had skeletal injuries, with 10.1% having unhealed injuries, substantially higher than estimated injury rates for the time (7–17% and 2–5%, respectively). Most of the head injuries could be attributed to blunt-force trauma, which may have been caused by axes, wooden clubs, slingshots or thrown stones. The researchers also found that the majority of injuries had occurred in adolescent or adult males – a significantly higher rate than in females. The findings suggest many of the individuals at the burial site were exposed to violence and may have been casualties of conflict. The earliest such conflict in Europe was previously thought to have occurred during the bronze age, approximately 4,000 to 2,800 years ago.