04 SEPTEMBRE 2023 NEWS
INSTITUT SUPERIEUR D'ANTHROPOLOGIE
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CHINE – Xinzheng - A total of 24 well-preserved Chinese bianzhong (chime bells) in two sets from the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC) were unearthed in the ruins of Ancient Capital City of the Zheng and Han States in Xinzheng, Central China’s Henan. This rare discovery of significant academic value was found in a sacrificial pit near the ruins of a palace. Bianzhong are an ancient Chinese musical instrument consisting of a set of bronze bells, played melodically. These sets of chime bells were used as polyphonic musical instruments. They were hung in a wooden frame and struck with a mallet. Although tuned bells have been created and used in many cultures for musical performances, Bianzhong are unique among all other types of cast bells in several ways. They have a lens-shaped (rather than circular) section, a distinctive “cutaway” profile on the bell mouth, and 36 studs or bosses symmetrically placed around the body in four groups of nine on the outer surfaces of the large bells. This special shape gives Bianzhong bells the remarkable ability to produce two different musical tones, depending on where they are struck. They are also known as “One bell, two sounds”. The bianzhong were used at the kingdom palace as part of the ritual system. Yu Jie, a staff member at the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, said that the bianzhong sacrificial pit at the site is 2.6 meters long from east to west, 1.4 meters wide from north to south, and 0.8 meters deep. “There are three rows of bell frames in the pit, with a total of 24 chime bells. The chime bells are well preserved, without any signs of looting, and the wooden frame is clearly visible,” Yu explained, adding that the frame can be “dated back to the middle and late Spring and Autumn Period”.
PEROU – Terlen-La Bomba- Peruvian and Japanese archaeologists have collaboratively excavated a pre-Hispanic archaeological site in northern Peru. This site was dedicated to the veneration of ancestors and features burial chambers, human remains, and ceramic offerings. "We have discovered an archaeological site of the Wari period with an antiquity of between 800 to 1000 years AD" in the Cajamarca region 900 kilometers (560 miles) north of Lima, Japanese archaeologist Shinya Watanabe told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Saturday. "Two burial chambers with pits for placing mummies and offerings to the ancestors were found at the site," the expert said. Each burial chamber contains two levels, and both have five niches in the walls that contain offerings such as mollusk shells, ceramic fragments and a tripod dish with three conical supports. A bundle containing a female character, a black Wari ceremonial vessel, two musical ceramic wind instruments, and two copper fasteners were also found. The discovery occurred in the Jequetepeque valley in the province of San Miguel in Cajamarca, a region that abuts Ecuador. The Wari culture survived between the 7th and 13th centuries over territory that is present-day Peru, but by 1100 A.D. the Wari were conquered by the rising Inca empire. The discovery was made by the Project of Archaeological Investigation (PIA) Terlen-La Bomba and it occupies about 24 hectares (60 acres).
ESPAGNE – El Burgo de Ebro - Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient Roman forum from more than 2,000 years ago at the site of an unknown city in the municipality of El Burgo de Ebro in northeastern Spain. Excavations by the Institute of Heritage and Humanities of the University of Zaragoza, co-directed by Alberto Mayayo and Borja Díaz, have found the forum — the most important part of a Roman city and where its most prominent political and religious institutions were located — which is considered the oldest ever unearthed in the interior of Spain. The name of this Roman city on the banks of the Ebro is unknown, though some experts believe it could be Castra Aelia, a second-line Roman camp that became a city with a large forum after the defeat of the Celtiberians in Numancia. The city, which was first built as a military camp, only existed for a brief period of time because evidence suggests that it was obliterated during a conflict known as the Sertorian Wars in the early first century B.C. The Sertorian War was a bloody military conflict that took place in Hispania, between the years 82 B.C. and 72 B.C. and between the two factions that disputed power in Rome: the populares of Quintus Sertorius and the optimates of Quintus Caecilius Metellus and Gnaeus Pompeyus Magnus. This year’s excavations have focused on the central part of the site, where the team has uncovered the remains of an enormous plaza. The plaza is framed by a portico and surrounded by a series of rooms that opened onto it, which may have been used for commercial activities. In the central part of the site, between the thermal baths and the warehouses, is the forum. “It is a large porticoed plaza,” adds Díaz, “onto which a series of rooms probably intended to serve as commercial premises opened.” According to the expert, it must have had “a monumental appearance.” “This is a find of exceptional importance, not only because of its dimensions and architectural complexity, but because it is the oldest civic square found in the interior of the Iberian Peninsula to date, whose discovery will contribute to radically transforming our knowledge of the initial phase of the spread of Roman architectural models in Hispania,” he said. The main function of the city that once stood at La Cabañeta may have been an entry and redistribution point for goods arriving by the river, Borja Díaz told El País. “We are in a very old site. The existence of similar monumental complexes with this age is not common—not even in Italy, where there are few cities that provide such a clear image of Roman urbanism of the 2nd century B.C. It provides us with a valuable picture of the formative phase of the plaza forum model that would end up being standardized” in later periods, Borja Díaz told Spanish media outlet El País.
AUTRICHE – Dürrnberg - An “extremely well-preserved” Iron Age child’s shoe was discovered in Austria during excavations at Dürrnberg, near the historic town of Hallein. Since 2001, the German Mining Museum Bochum, Leibniz Research Museum for Georesources, has been conducting mining archeological investigations with its mining archeology research area on the Dürrnberg near Hallein. The Dürrnberg near Salzburg is known for its rock salt mining, which already occurred in the Iron Age. Due to the preservation effect of the salt, organic remains are particularly well preserved, in contrast to other excavations, where such finds are in short supply. During this year’s campaign in the Georgenberg tunnel, a children’s shoe made of leather came to light. The shoe is made of leather and roughly corresponds to today’s shoe size 30 (12.5-inch). The shape, as well as the lace-up closures, which were likely made of flax or linen, are still intact. The shoe’s design provides additional indications of its manufacture, which was most likely in the second century B.C. The condition of the shoe that was found is outstanding,” says the head of the research area, Prof. Dr. Thomas Stöllne. “Organic materials usually decompose over time. Finds such as this children’s shoe, but also textile remains or excrement, such as those found on the Dürrnberg, offer an extremely rare insight into the life of the Iron Age miners.” Several finds of leather shoes are already known from the Dürrnberg, but a child’s shoe is always something special, as it proves the presence of children underground. In addition, in this case, as an exception, a remnant of a lacing made of flax or linen has been preserved. In this way, conclusions can be drawn as to how the shoes were laced. In the vicinity of the well-kept find, archaeologists also found other organic materials, namely a fragment of a wooden shovel in the shape of a blade and the remains of fur with lacing that possibly belonged to a fur hood.
TURQUIE – Magnesia - Archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Magnesia, located in the western province of Aydın’s Germencik district, have uncovered the altar of the Temple of Magnesia Zeus, the replica of which is on display at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. As a result of the work that started two years ago, the remains of the Temple of Zeus, located in the area described as the “religious agora” in the ancient city, were unearthed. During the work in the western part of the temple, the altar with a width of 3 meters 53 centimeters, a length of 5 meters 10 centimeters, and a height of 70 centimeters was found. Görkem Kökdemir reminded the AA reporter in his statement, that nearly 600 architectural blocks belonging to the Temple of Zeus were taken out of the excavation area with their work. Stating that they uncovered the floor of the temple this year with cleaning and excavation works, Kökdemir said: “Now, starting from the ground level, we have started to work on raising the temple gradually. It’s a great pride, a great joy. We had truly envisioned and aimed for this, but seeing it come to fruition brings immense happiness.” “We have found about 80% of the original materials of the temple. In fact, this temple was excavated by Germans 100 years ago, and after the German excavations, about 10% of the temple’s architectural elements were taken to Germany, and 10% original material was displayed alongside 90% imitation material in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Now, in our restoration work, there will be around 90% original material and 10-20% imitation material, but this time, it will be in Aydın, in Germencik, in its original location where visitors can come and explore the temple.” Kökdemir, while continuing the documentation efforts of the temple, also mentioned that they are continuing with the excavations. He stated, “As a significant result of this year, we have uncovered a previously unknown marble altar belonging to the temple. This was, of course, very important. It provided us with crucial information about the temple and the Zeus cult to which it was dedicated.”
GALLES – Chepstow - Archaeologists have discovered evidence of Roman and Anglo-Saxon fortifications in the town of Chepstow in the United Kingdom. Surprisingly, however, the town was also home to an ancient bridge that connected England and Wales before the formation of the two countries. Archaeologists discovered the wooden structure while looking for evidence in the shadow of a 950-year-old Norman castle on a muddy bank on the Wye riverbank. Known as the gateway to Wales, Chepstow is a border town steeped in history. This wooden structure – believed to have been built by the Romans 2,000 years ago – was found preserved in mud following a race against time to uncover it during an ‘extreme low tide event’. The ancient crossing links a route between Wales and England from around half a mile upstream of Chepstow to the village of Tutshill in Gloucestershire. It served as a vital link between these regions for centuries, long before modern transportation networks existed.
MEXIQUE – Palenque - A Mayan nose ornament made of human bone was uncovered by archaeologists with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Palenque, a city in the Southern Mexican state of Chipas, according to the Art Newspaper. The artifact, which was carved to fit over the bridge of one’s nose, was meant to be worn by priests during funeral ceremonies and is decorated with the likeness of K’awiil, the deity of corn, fertility and abundance. The long ornamental piece was carved from a distal tibia and displays the profile of a man, himself wearing a headdress topped with a bird, wristbands, and beaded collar. His left arm is adorned with the Mayan glyph ak’ab’, which represents “darkness” or “night”. The carving wraps around the object to reveal that the man is holding a long stick or rod in his right hand. In a press release, the INAH said the artifact was part of a “ritual deposit” made between 600 BCE and 850 BCE to commemorate the completion of a part of an ancient palace in Palenque within an architectural complex that has recently undergone conservation work by the INAH and Mexican Ministry of Culture. The director of the Palenque Archaeological Project (PAP), Arnoldo González Cruz, said the ornamental piece was “part of the attire of the city’s elite.” “We believe that it was used to personify the deity of corn,” Cruz said in the press release, noting that the artifact “is an example of Mayan artistic sensitivity, while its iconographic and conceptual message illuminates the beliefs of the ancient Palencans about the funerary cult and the ultra-earthly existence of the human being.”
FRANCE – Béniguet - Sur la petite île bretonne de Béniguet, au large du Finistère, les archéologues espèrent faire parler des déchets ménagers piégés dans la dune depuis l'âge du Bronze. Un défi tant scientifique qu'humain. "On fait les poubelles des gens qui ont vécu là il y a 4 000 ans", explique Yvan Pailler, archéologue à l’Université de Bretagne occidentale (UBO), devant le chantier de fouilles. "Cela nous permettra d'analyser leur économie, comment ils vivaient, de savoir quelles espèces animales ils élevaient..." Depuis 2021, une autorisation exceptionnelle de fouilles a été accordée sur cet îlot de 60 hectares de l'archipel de Molène, classé réserve naturelle depuis 1993 et donc interdit d'accès. Au bord de l'eau, sur un carré de quelques m2 creusé dans la dune, étudiants et archéologues explorent un vaste amas coquiller, piégé par la dune pendant des millénaires, avant d'être mis à nu par une tempête en 2014. Le site contient plusieurs couches de détritus, répartis en strates, dont les plus anciennes remontent au néolithique. L'espèce la plus répandue dans cet amas de détritus ancestral est la patelle (ou bernique), ce fameux coquillages en forme de chapeau chinois. Ce petit gastéropode brouteur qui vit sur les estrans rocheux a été consommé par les îliens pendant des millénaires. On va pouvoir utiliser ces petites patelles comme archives climatiques et retracer l'histoire environnementale et climatique de la région", souligne Jean-François Cudennec, biologiste marin, qui a consacré sa thèse aux patelles retrouvées sur ce site. En analysant les coquilles, il est en effet possible d'esquisser l'histoire des femmes et des hommes qui les ont ramassées. "On peut déterminer la température de l'eau juste avant la mort de l'animal", explique M. Cudennec. "Cette information va nous donner la saison à laquelle ces gens allaient pêcher la patelle." Ce qui permet alors de connaître "la saisonnalité de l'occupation du site" car "si on a des patelles collectées toute l'année dans les amas, ça veut dire que les gens étaient là toute l'année", ajoute le chercheur. Au fil des siècles, des périodes d'occupations pérennes ou épisodiques ont pu ainsi être identifiées. "On a à la fois des installations massives et pérennes et des petits instants de vie scellés par le massif dunaire", décrit Clément Nicolas, chercheur en archéologie au CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique). Spécialiste des sociétés de 3e et 2e millénaires avant notre ère, cet archéologue espère en apprendre plus sur le mode de vie des hommes du campaniforme, une culture alors répandue dans toute l'Europe, dont l'origine et la diffusion rapide restent débattues. "On connaît cette culture surtout à travers les dolmens, les tombes", comme à Carnac (Morbihan), détaille M. Nicolas. "Les habitats, on commence à les connaître. Et là, on a les poubelles campaniformes. C'est déjà en soi, une petite révolution à l'échelle de la Bretagne." D'autant que la dune, riche en calcaire, conserve très bien les ossements, contrairement aux sols acides. "Notre rêve, ça serait de trouver une sépulture", ce qui permettrait de retracer l'origine de ces populations grâce à des analyses ADN, confie l'archéologue.