06 MARS 2023 NEWS
INSTITUT SUPERIEUR D'ANTHROPOLOGIE
INSTITUTE OF ANTHROPOLOGY
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DEBUT COURS : AVRIL 2023
POLOGNE – Zaniowka - A large treasure hoard deposited in a ceramic jar has been uncovered near the village of Zaniowka in the Lublin voivodeship. The discovery was made by detectorist, Michał Łotys, who was surveying farmland for pieces of agricultural equipment accidently lost in the topsoil. An inspection by archaeologists suggests that the coins were intentionally deposited in a ceramic jar in layer of subsoil, which contains 1,000 crowns and Lithuanian schillings from the 17th century. The total hoard weighs 3kg and consists of layers of compressed coins in the jar, 115 coins which have been dispersed through agricultural activity, 62 heavily oxidised coins and several pieces of fabric. Why the hoard was purposely buried is yet to be determined. Hoards can be considered an indicator of unrest, often due to periods of conflict or for were buried for financial security. During the 17th century the region was part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was subject to a series of invasions by Russo-Cossack forces in 1655, and Sweden in 1656 – a period known as the “Deluge”.
GUATEMALA – Nixtun-Ch’ich’ - Paleolimnological evidence indicates the ancient Maya transformed terrestrial ecosystems by felling forest vegetation to construct large civic-ceremonial centers and to expand agriculture. Human settlements influenced lacustrine environments but the effects of Maya activities on aquatic ecosystems remain poorly studied. Here we analyzed a sediment core from Lake Petén Itzá, Guatemala, to infer paleoenvironmental changes resulting from Maya occupation of the archaeological site of Nixtun-Ch’ich’. Increases in charcoal and fecal stanol concentrations indicate Maya occupation of the Candelaria Peninsula by the late Early Preclassic period. Geochemical proxies reveal a period of lake ecosystem alteration during construction and expansion of the city’s urban grid in the Middle and Late Preclassic periods. Depopulation of the city in the Terminal Preclassic resulted in a decline in lake trophic state. Whereas previous studies of Petén waterbodies have indicated depressed lacustrine primary production, the core collected near Nixtun-Ch’ich’ shows evidence of ancient Maya lake ecosystem deterioration.
ANGLETERRE – Newquay - At least five Roman and Bronze Age dwellings have been discovered at the site of a new housing development in Newquay. Archaeologists from Cornwall Archeological Unit have also made a number of exciting finds including pottery, a glass bead and stoneware. Lucy Osborne, a Supervisor from the team told ITV News: "In other places in the country, this would have been just a few marks in the ground, whereas in Cornwall we are so lucky because they were building in stone. Whilst on-site with the team, they came across a large chunk of Bronze age pottery otherwise known as 'trevisker'. Sean explained that this particular artefact dated back to 1500 BC meaning it had been in the ground for about three-and-a-half-thousand years.
ANGLETERRE – Colchester - New research on an ancient vase discovered in England in 1853 suggests, for the first time, that gladiator battles took place in Roman Britain. The late 2nd-century CE vase discovered in 1853 in the southeastern English town of Colchester — known to the Romans as Camulodunum — which features an inscription bearing the names of two known gladiators, was previously thought to have had the names inscribed on it after the vase was fired, meaning that they were thought to be a later addition. However, new research reported by The Guardian revealed the names were inscripted before the clay was fired, indicating that the gladiators lived in Britain at the time of the vase’s creation in 160-200 CE. It’s the only evidence of a Roman arena gladiator combat actually being staged in Britain. It’s a commemorative piece, almost a trophy for the trophy cabinet. Later, it’s used as a funerary vessel. There must be an intimate connection with the deceased. They could well have sponsored the games. Or they were an absolute sports nut. Inside the vase researchers had found cremated human remains, which analysis showed to belong to a “non-local [male of] potentially European origin” said to be over 40 years old. Decoration on the exterior of the vase depicts two armor-clad men attempting to lure a bear and a dog, while those animals chase a hare and deer. The men are identified as Memnon and Valentinus, which The Guardian said were thought to be stage names. The vase depicts Memnon overcoming his opponent, who is seen holding up his forefinger, apparently a gladiator symbol of submission. “Memnon appears quite often in Roman literature,” John Pearce, a senior lecturer at London’s King’s College told The Guardian. “He’s described as this massively impressive ‘black-skinned’ person, this hero who comes from Troy. I’m wondering why Memnon would be chosen as the name of the gladiator. Is that because we’ve got a black gladiator who is from somewhere well south of Colchester – from north Africa?” Pearce speculated.
GALLES – Pen Dinas - Towering over the west Wales coast is a hill that, viewed from above, appears to have been dropped on the landscape. Beneath it, legend has it that a headless dog roams the surrounding countryside, mournfully wailing for its long-lost owner, the son of a giant who once lived on the summit. People lived here during the Bronze and Iron Ages, and its slopes still bear the scars of a huge Celtic hillfort. A Roman hoard was found on the hill, and there is evidence its ancient settlement might have been raided and burnt. The mighty hillfort has been described as a “masterpiece of Iron Age engineering”. At one time it had elaborate gates, a large stone-walled rampart and a massive wooden bridge. So much timber was needed, it is estimated that, over its lifetime, a 178-acre forest must have been razed to supply the 4,680 trees for its posts and beams. Beyond this, Pen Dinas is a complete mystery. No one knows its precise purpose. Was the hillfort a demonstration of power or just an enclosure for cattle and grain storage? Over the coming 18 months, there is hope its mysteries might finally be revealed. Geophysical surveys and archaeological excavations are planned, starting this month. In 2021, a few clues about the hillfort’s use were uncovered by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust. It conducted the site’s first geological survey and found walls that were still standing almost 3,000 years after Pen Dinas was constructed. The hillfort’s coastal position was significant in the pre-wheel era when the movement of goods relied on boats. The new 18-month investigation will test this theory. If, as now suggested, it was commercially important, good defences were needed. Found during an earlier excavation in the 1930s was a cache of more than 100 beach or river pebbles, probably used as slingshot to defend the fort. More sling stones were unearthed after a bracken fire in 1999. In the right hands, these could fracture an invader’s skull from quite a distance. This earlier dig also confirmed suspicions the hillfort was actually two separate forts built centuries apart, and later combined to form a larger structure. As Pen Dinas has two summits, each were utilised, firstly on the northern peak, then the southern one. “The fort started life as a simple defended site on the north summit, enclosed by a rampart of packed rubble and an outer ditch,” said the RCAHW. “Some years later after the first was abandoned, perhaps around 400-300 BC, a new fort was built on the higher summit to the south with elaborate gates and a substantial stone-walled rampart with an outer ditch.” In fact, archaeologists believe the hillfort was built over four phases. Over time, the higher, southern fort fell into partial ruin. Parts of it were burnt, a possible sign of conflict. Later, this fort was rebuilt. In the fourth phase, ramparts were constructed across the isthmus linking both summits, together with a new main gate.This arrangement made Pen Dinas a formidable fortress, as any attacker would be channelled into the isthmus and exposed to defensive slingshot on several sides. “At its height, in the last decades before Christ, Pen Dinas was a masterpiece of Iron Age architecture and engineering,” said the the RCAHW. “The stone-walled isthmus gate stood as high as a two-storey building and was crossed by a wooden bridge supported on four massive timber posts.” The platform sites of a dozen prehistoric roundhouses can still be seen on the hill, cut into the bedrock.