05 DECEMBRE 2016 NEWS: Saser La - Canacona - Leicester - Prastio-Mesorotsos - Grays Harbor - Effaneaux -
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INDE - Saser La - An ancient camping site used by pre-historic man and datable to circa 8500 BCE, has been found at an altitude of about 4,200 metres near Saser La in the Nubra Valley, Ladakh. Saser La leads to the Karakoram Pass . A camping site is a place where hunter-gatherers stayed temporarily before they moved on to another place. S.B. Ota, Joint Director General, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), found the camping site during an exploration there in 2015-16. Charcoal pieces from hearth activity and remains of bones associated with it were found at the site. The charcoal pieces sent for dating to Beta Analytic, Florida, U.S., revealed that the site belonged to circa 8500 BCE. Only 6th century CE to 7th century CE remains were reported in Ladakh. Rough terrain, high altitudes and extreme weather made it difficult for any explorer to undertake archaeological expeditions in the region.
INDE - Canacona - This six metre tall, almost conical blackish brown granitic rock (at least 2500 million years old) standing in a farm close to a rocky outcrop and sacred grove, projects abruptly from the soil like a sore thumb. Is it natural or artificial? Former Head of Goa University’s Earth Sciences Department AG Dessai had researched extensively on Geology of Canacona and the unique local mesoarchean granite rocks. The place with thumb shaped rock is known as “Gulem” in Canacona. It is close to the narrow road connecting the National Highway to Palolem beach. Although local people in Canacona have forgotten the etymological roots of the place name “Gulem”, it means “polished spherical rock (gulo) or a rotund object”. Naturally the place’s name must have originated from the mysterious landmark – the granitic monolith. Why the Gulem monolith is mysterious? First it is close to a very ancient trade route which linked the Western Ghats to the west coast and such routes all over the world are marked by megaliths. Second – it clearly stands out as a landmark in a low lying sub-coastal area. Third – it has too symmetrical shape as if touched by human hands. It appears like a miniature mountain. Ex director of Goa archives, Prakashchandra Shirodkar has shed light on 2500-3000 years old megalithic culture of Goa. Megaliths in Goa are classified as menhirs, dolmens and hood stones. Granite, basalt or laterite stones are used for these megaliths. Shirodkar has listed megaliths from Quepem, Paroda, Cumbarmol, Adnem, Vhalshi, Shirvoi, Sao Jose de Arial, Pulamaol, Balli, Padi, Malar-Corlim, Rivona, Usgao, Pilgao, Assagao, Mardol, Kundaim, Adacolna, Chandranath, Chorao, Curdi, Aroba, Tuem, Mole, Shigao, Kakumoddi, Verna, Velinga, Narve, Aquem, Nagarcem etc. On four occasions in past twenty years I had chance to inspect the Gulem monolith. Such tall single rocks surrounded by flat, plain land are known as “inselbergs” (terrestrial islands). But Gulem monolith appears more like an artificial entity and big challenge to archaeologists. There are two possibilities which I explored – first, whether this monolith could be an undocumented, forgotten rock edict of Mauryan emperor Ashoka. A close examination of the exposed surface up to two metres height from ground level did not reveal any inscription although there are some mysterious marks which cannot be deciphered easily. Due to torrential rainfall, exposure to sun and wind the surface of the monolith has eroded and developed fissures, so after standing for 2300 years, inscriptions if any carved on surface would not have survived. But if Gulem is plotted on the locational map of 33 edicts of Emperor Ashoka in Indian sub-continent then we find an interesting quadrilateral tetrad pattern in western India – linking it with Sopara, Sannati and Brahmagiri edicts of emperor Ashoka. Konkan and Goa region was known from Mahabharata period as “Aparant” and during Buddhist period as “Sunaparant” or “Shonaparant”. It was part of Mauryan Empire. So archaeological investigations are required to verify whether Gulem, Canacona granitic monolith could be a forgotten, eroded Ashokan rock edict? Even if it’s not the question still remains about its astounding homology with menhirs found in Europe. Menhirs are tall rocks which are dragged to a particular place and erected vertically. Until excavation is done all around and below the Gulem monolith it’s impossible to say whether it was dragged there and erected. But for several square kilometers in that area we see irregular, natural rock outcrops but we don’t come across similar monoliths. Ground penetrating radar can map the foundation of Gulem menhir and establish its identity either as a natural geological oddity, a natural inselberg or a manmade menhir. If it turns out to be a menhir then it would confirm historian DD Kosambi’s hypothesis that prehistoric humans migrated from Deccan towards the west coast in search of fresh sea salt. Indeed, natural, pure sea-salt is available plentifully inside the depressions, fissures, cavities of granite rocks on Palolem beach. So to exploit these salt deposits salt trails could have been laid out by the megalithic people. These salt trails linked the coastal areas to mountain passes. If Gulem menhir turns out to be a natural geological oddity then also certain question remains about its occurrence.
ROYAUME UNI – Leicester - Skeletons found during an archaeological dig in Leicester could be the first example of African people living in the city. Some 83 remains dating back to the 2nd century AD were discovered during investigations into a large Roman cemetery at the former Equity Shoes factory on Western Road, in Leicester's West End. Now archaeologists from the University of Leicester have said five of the skeletons' cranial features suggest they might have Africanor mixed ancestry. The skeletons are now undergoing analysis to find out if they were born in Britain or elsewhere in the Roman Empire. So far, it has been discovered that two appear to have been born in Britain, one in the Pennines area and one in the Leicester area.
CHYPRE – Prastio-Mesorotsos - An excavation of a multi-period site in southwestern Cyprus has provided insight evidence into the transition of humans through different periods bridging 9,000 years. The team from the Archaeology Department of the University of Edinburgh led by Dr. Andrew McCarthy, a professor of history and archaeology and director of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute, has been excavating for nine seasons at the site of Prastio-Mesorotsos on both banks of the Dhiarizos river, about 15 km from the southwestern coast of Cyprus. It collected evidence about the people who lived there continually from the Pre-Pottery (Aceramic) Neolithic period to the late Bronze Age, as well as the Late Roman/Byzantine eras, that is from 58 B.C. to at least 695 A.D.."We believe that the place had been inhabited continually perhaps from the 7th millennium B.C. to about 1,000 B.C. and then was abandoned for about two centuries until it was inhabited again by the same or other people," Dr. McCarthy told Xinhua. The inhabitants of the site, like people from other sites, probably moved to the newly created city of Palaipaphos, Old Paphos, set up by Mycenean Greeks at the mouth of Diarizos river, which had become famous all over the known world at the time as the center of ceremonies for the worship of Aphrodite, goddess of love. The same or other people inhabited again the place until 1953 that was abandoned following a strong earthquake that flattened several villages in the area, among them Prastio, which means a suburb with fields or a small settlement near a town. The archaeologists concluded that the people at the site had to adapt to rapid and radical changes that were brought about by the discovery of copper and the onset of bronze. The team discovered a series of Early Bronze Age roundhouses, unusual for that period, which show continuity from the preceding Late Chalcolithic period. "A significant architectural and social change seems to have occurred near the end of the Early Bronze Age and the start of the Middle Bronze Age. It can now be demonstrated that the Middle Bronze Age architecture was built using the same basic infrastructure used to build Early Bronze Age houses," a report on the excavation said. The archaeologists believe from the Middle Bronze Age inhabitants began to terrace and pre-plan their village layout in a more structured manner. "This marks a drive toward more sophistication and control of the inhabited space just before the site was abandoned at the end of the Middle Bronze Age," the report said. The team excavated several shallow pits, in one of these pits they found a fragment of an anthropomorphic figurine, perhaps the oldest statue ever found in Cyprus, made of unfired clay. Earlier excavations at the Prastio site led to the discovery of a pit oven for cooking meat for a large crowd.
USA – Grays Harbor - On Feb. 21, 2014, Skipper Phil Westrick aboard his Westport-based charter boat The Ultimate pulled up a crab pot from a depth of 90 to 100 feet about 2.3 miles west of Ocean Shores and found most of her skull. “The FBI lab determined it was a female, and DNA was extracted, but the profile didn’t match any missing persons,” Grays Harbor Coroner Lane Youmans said Thursday. “A piece of the skull was sent to a private lab [Beta Analytics in Miami] in Florida for radiocarbon dating. The lab determined that the skull is from 360-400 B.C.” Was she a Coast Salish bride? Could she have been a slave from outside the area? Did she die in childbirth, by disease, by drowning? Was her skull in the ocean for many hundreds of years, or was it washed out to sea by some recent storm? Could an ancient skull have been transported from somewhere else and disposed of in local waters? We may start getting some answers as early as the middle or end of next week.
FRANCE – Effaneaux - Le site des Effaneaux est sur le point de recevoir une nouvelle visite d’archéologues. Des fouilles complémentaires vont être menées sur ce vaste terrain, situé à la fois à Chamigny, Dhuisy et Sainte-Aulde, où est prévue la création d’une zone d’activités économiques de 57 hectares. Les premières recherches ont révélé des traces d’une occupation de ces terres à la Préhistoire, à l’Antiquité et au Moyen-Âge : les services de l’INRAP souhaitent aujourd’hui en apprendre davantage.