06 AVRIL 2020 NEWS
ONLINE COURSES / COURS A DISTANCE
WINTER TERM : APRIL 2020
EGYPTE – Oxyrhynchus - The archaeological mission returned this March to the ancient city of Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. The work had to finish early due to the COVID-19 epidemics, although the campaign could focus on the study of architectonic structures and funerary rituals from the Saite Period (corresponding to the Late Period of Egypt, which started in the 7th century BC) until the Christian-Byzantine period. The work was focused on the site of the High Necropolis. Researchers conducted anthropological studies of the buried deceased and consolidation and restoration tasks on wall paintings and different objects that were recovered during the excavation. They also worked on remains from the great religious building from the Christian-Byzantine period found in the site. They recovered many elements such as lesenes, cornices, and fragments from archs that were decorated with plant and floral, geometrical and zoomorphic themes. They highlighted the remains of a papyrus with a Greek carved text, which is under study, and a gravestone with an engraved text in Coptic. During the campaign, the researchers found a total of six individual gravestones from the Saite Period and two from the Roman Period. This is the first time to find Saite-Persian gravestones under the bases of the gravestones from a Roman Period. Some of the findings were related to the deceased people from the Byzantine Period, such as inkpots and bronze earrings, ostracons (pieces of pottery to write on) and a funerary gravestone from a freedman (libertus), a released slave who could prosper and had been asked to work on a stele. Last, during this mission, researchers worked on topographical works, as well as 3D photogrammetry and aerial imaging.
SLOVAQUIE – Obišovce - While removing the floor of the church in Obišovce near Košice, the foundations of the old church were uncovered. During this work, the archaeologists discovered a unique treasure trove of coins, kept in a ceramic mug and covered with a small stone slab, under the original stone floor close to the western entrance of the church. The hoard consists of more than 500 coins, most of them mining salary plates. The silver coins were wrapped separately, probably in linen clothing. The coins date the treasure to 1702 at the earliest. The mining salary plates and coins were minted in Košice, Smolník and Banská Štiavnica, proof that believers journeyed from those regions and probably left them as charitable gifts. There were Polish coins amongst the treasure as well. The old church was established in the time of the Rennaisance and it was dismantled in the middle of the 19th century to be replaced by the current church.
CAMBODGE – Angkor - Large statue fragments have been recovered from a canal near the Gate of the Dead at Angkor Thom by members of Cambodia’s Department of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology, the heritage police, and agents from the Apsara Authority. “The god statue found by the working team has four pieces, while another giant statue has only the back part without a face,” said Chhouk Somala of the Department of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology. The pieces are thought to have come from a sculpture depicting the Hindu story of the Churning of the Milk Ocean, in which the semi-divine half-human, half-serpent who lived on Shiva’s neck was used as a churning rope wrapped around Mount Mandara. The gods held one end of the naga, while demons held the other. As each side tugged on the naga, the mountain rotated, churned the ocean, and produced the nectar of immortality and other valuables. The carvings will be conserved and housed in the Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum.
NORVEGE – Fredrikstad - The Tune ship was discovered in 1867 on an island farm near Fredrikstad in south-east Norway. Paasche’s team at NIKU created a digital reconstruction of the ship using laser scanning techniques. Following the work, they concluded that the ship differs from the Gokstad and Oseberg ships in several ways. All three are clinker built—a method of boat building where the edges of hull planks overlap each other—but the Tune has a significantly different length-to-width ratio and has a flatter underside. The digital model confirms some of what was assumed about the ship along with some additional insights. For instance, it had previously been assumed that the ship’s freeboard was too low for it to have crossed the North Sea. But the model reveals that the Tune must have been a fast sailboat that also worked well as an oared vessel. “Perhaps we can call it a quick-paced courier ship, built mainly not to last, but to move many men quickly over short or longer distances. The ship has a very solid and heavy mast attachment that lies midship and holds the mast in place. Its weight indicates a heavy-duty high mast that carried a sail of perhaps 1,000 square feet. This is a very large sail area in relation to a ship of its size,” explains Paasche. The method is used by NIKU on other cultural heritage documentation, but it’s the first time such a technique has been used on ship archaeology. Such was the international interest in the technique, Paasche published an article on the reconstruction methods used in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.
ROYAUME UNI – Thornton Abbey - Analysis of a medieval mass grave excavated at Thornton Abbey, northern Lincolnshire, has confirmed that the people within it probably died during the Black Death in the 14th century – The outbreak of bubonic plague known as the Black Death killed between a third and half of England’s population between 1348 and 1349, but archaeological evidence is still relatively scarce. While a few mass graves associated with the disease have been found in urban settings, it was previously assumed that lower overall numbers of deaths in the countryside would have made it easier for rural populations to carry on using normal burial practices. The discovery at Thornton Abbey shows that this was not always the case. The Augustinian priory was founded in 1139, and archaeological work by the University of Sheffield began at the site in 2011. In 2013, excavations of a natural mound to the south of the inner precinct wall identified a feature that turned out to be a mass grave, and analysis of the skeletons found within it has now been published in the journal Antiquity The burial contained at least 48 individuals, although later disturbances and poor preservation due to soil conditions means that there may have been more originally who cannot now be detected. The bodies appear to have been buried within days of each other, suggesting a single, catastrophic event, but they had been placed in the grave with care, in a single layer with eight overlapping rows, mostly bound in shrouds. The impact of the catastrophe that prompted this mass interment evidently was felt by all members of the community, with young people aged between 1 and 17 years representing 27 of the 48 individuals. Among the 17 adults for whom sex estimation could be carried out, six women were identified, demonstrating that, although the grave lay within the monastery’s precinct, it contained members of the secular population.