08 SEPTEMBRE 2023 NEWS
INSTITUT SUPERIEUR D'ANTHROPOLOGIE
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DEBUT COURS : SEPTEMBRE 2023
IRAQ – Nimrud - The recent development of techniques to sequence ancient DNA has provided valuable insights into the civilisations that came before us. However, the full potential of these methods has yet to be realised. We extracted ancient DNA from a recently exposed fracture surface of a clay brick deriving from the palace of king Ashurnasirpal II (883–859 BCE) in Nimrud, Iraq. We detected 34 unique taxonomic groups of plants. With this research we have made the pioneering discovery that ancient DNA, effectively protected from contamination inside a mass of clay, can successfully be extracted from a 2900-year-old clay brick. We encourage future research into this subject, as the scientific prospects for this approach are substantial, potentially leading to a deeper understanding of ancient and lost civilisations.
TURQUIE – Tavşanlı Höyük - Archaeologists discovered, well-preserved brain and skin remnants of two individuals dating to the Bronze Age during excavations at Tavşanlı Höyük (Tavşanlı Mound) in western Türkiye’s Kütahya province. Since Tavşanlı Höyük is located on the transition route between Western Anatolia and Central Anatolia regions, the studies carried out here are crucial in terms of understanding interregional communication. According to experts, the discovery was noteworthy because it was the first time that skin remains had been found during archaeological excavations in Türkiye, whereas brain remains had only been found four or five times. The brain and skin remnants of a young (15-18) and middle-aged man (40-45) were preserved through carbonization, according to Anadolu Agency (AA), adding that experts believe it belonged to two people who were unable to flee their homes after it was set on fire during an attack 3,700 years ago. Professor Erkan Fidan told the conference that the mound is the oldest settlement in the area and that experts believe it was the capital of the region back in the Bronze Age. He added that they believe there was a large-scale attack on the city in around 1,700 BCE and the whole city was burnt to the ground. Meanwhile, Professor Yılmaz Selim Erdal from Hacettepe University’s Anthropology Department noted that both skeletons were exposed to high degrees of heat, which allowed the brain to be preserved inside the skull. They also noted that they found skin remnants in one of the skeletons, between the chest and abdomen, also carbonized by heat.
POLOGNE – Lublin - A mysterious cemetery from the 12th-13th century has been discovered in the botanical garden In Lublin. Archaeologists made the grim discovery during work at the garden’s Maria Curie-Skłodowska University. Included among the skeletal remains were earrings, temple rings, part of an early medieval spur and a stone axe from the Neolithic period. Dr. Rafał Niedźwiadek from the university’s Institute of Archeology said: “The latest discoveries are extremely valuable […] There are still many issues to be resolved, including when the cemetery was established, how large was it, who was buried there. One of the theories is that the cemetery was used to bury victims of an epidemic. In 1451, a lethal infection appeared in Mazovia and swiftly spread across the country. Lasting from April to late autumn, the plague wiped out many small towns and villages and at its height around 40 people a day were being buried. Another pandemic struck Poland in 1482. Most likely originating in Hungary, the “pestis furiosa” plague was severe and lasted for more than a year. In Krosno (southeastern Poland) there were 80 deaths daily compared to Kraków where only 40 to 50 deaths were registered. Posting on its website, the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University said: “Current discoveries encourage further work to get to know the necropolis more fully and to obtain more reliable dating of burials, as well as to determine the role of this cemetery on the map of medieval Lublin.”
HONGRIE – Csomád - Once again, a tomb with a sabretache plate from the age of the Hungarian Conquest of the Carpathian Basin has been excavated in Csomád, Pest county. The Hungarian National Museum and the Ferenczy Museum Center held a press conference on Monday in Szentendre about the tomb and the sabretache plate, which has been preserved in a special condition. Archaeologist Gábor Virágos, Deputy Director General of Archaeology at the Hungarian National Museum and one of the curators of the exhibition, emphasized that the sabretache plates and hoard covers of the Age of Hungarian Conquest are the second most important artifacts after the coronation jewellery.He added that if the artifacts are taken to Transylvania, there will be an opportunity to add another piece to the collection, as a sabretache ornament has been found in Cluj (Kolozsvár, Romania) in the meantime. He mentioned that the concept was to continue the successful research and presentation of the conquest period, and that the next step backwards in the history of the nomadic people would be the Avar period. The Pannonian Avars were a nomadic people of the Eurasian steppe who ruled a powerful empire centered in the Carpathian Basin between the 6th and 8th centuries. In the 9th century, this empire broke up into small states. The origin, kinship, and even ethnic composition of the Avar people is disputed. Some of the late Avars are considered to be Hungarians according to the theory of the double conquest (the Hungarians occupied the Carpathian Basin in two stages). They also mentioned that a previously unknown occupation-era site had been discovered. During the targeted search, the grave of a man from the conquest period, who died sometime in the mid-10th century, was recovered. Some of the artifacts were preserved in such a state that they could be excavated in their original – so-called in situ – state, together with the surrounding soil, and then documented more accurately and professionally and immediately conserved in a well-equipped restoration workshop.
ALLEMAGNE – Neuenburg - During excavations at Neuenburg Castle near the town of Freyburg (Burgenlandkreis) in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, the extraordinarily well-preserved, imposing octagonal tower of the fortification system, dating from the castle’s initial expansion phase around 1100, has come to light. A well-preserved octagonal tower dating to around 1100, which could have been inspired by the towers of the city walls of Constantinople. The impressive Neuenburg Castle rises high above Freyburg an der Unstrut (Burgenland district). The complex was built by Count Ludwig the Springer at the end of the 11th century. It was the largest castle of the Thuringian landgraves, in no way inferior in importance to other important castles, such as the Wartburg, which was also founded by Ludwig the Springer. Polygonal towers have long been associated with the Staufer period (1138 to 1254) and here especially with Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (born December 26, 1194 in Jesi near Ancona, Imperial Italy; died December 13, 1250 in Castel Fiorentino near Lucera, Kingdom Sicily) and his Castel del Monte in Apulia. However, its construction took place about 150 years later than the construction of the octagonal tower on the Neuenburg. Older examples from castle building in the Holy Roman Empire are rare. Worth mentioning are the fortification towers of Hilpoltstein in Franconia and Sulzbach in the Upper Palatinate, which also date from around 1100. Church towers may have been the inspiration for these early octagonal towers. But it is also conceivable that the towers of the city walls of Constantinople served as a model, which made a lasting impression on the first crusaders on their way to the Holy Land (1096 to 1099).
AFRIQUE DU SUD – Kleinkrantz - A new analysis of ancient footprints in South Africa suggests that humans may have been wearing hard-soled sandals. The well-preserved prints’ unusual characteristics may provide the oldest evidence so far that people used shoes to protect their feet from sharp rocks during the Middle Stone Age. Although researchers are hesitant to come to firm conclusions related to the use of footwear during the period. The authors of the study examined markings that had been left on stone slabs at three different locations on the Cape coast, none of which have been directly dated. However, based on the age of other nearby rocks and sediments, researchers believe that the tracks found at a site called Kleinkrantz could be between 79,000 and 148,000 years old. The footprints show no toes, discerning it from barefoot markings, and instead displayed “rounded anterior ends, crisp margins, and possible evidence of strap attachment points.’ Similar markings that are estimated to have been left between 73,000 and 136,000 years ago were located at a site called Goukamma. The study authors wrote: “In all cases the purported tracks have dimensions that are broadly consistent with those of hominin tracks.” They added that the “track sizes appear to correspond to the tracks either of juvenile track-makers, or else small-adult hominin track-makers.” As a method of testing their conclusion, researchers made their own footprints wearing sandals resembling two different pairs of shoes used historically by the Indigenous San people of Southern Africa. Both pairs that researchers based their sandals off of are currently housed in museums. Their research showed that the use of hard-soled footwear on wet sand left prints just like the markings at Kleinkrantz. There were crisp edges, no toe prints, and indentations of where leather straps met the sole. “While we do not consider the evidence conclusive, we interpret the three sites […] as suggesting the presence of shod-hominin track-makers using hard-soled sandals,” write the researchers. The researchers go on to offer a possible explanation for use of such footwear: “In the [Middle Stone Age], a significant foot laceration might have been a death sentence,” making sandals a lifesaver. Despite their promising findings, researchers are reluctant to make any bold claims. This is due to a variety of factors, such as the difficulty of interpreting rock markings, as well as the fact no actual shoes from the Middle Stone Age have ever been found. As such, they refrain from making major claims about their findings, but speculate that “humans may have indeed worn footwear while traversing dune surfaces during the Middle Stone Age.” The study is published in the journal Ichnos.
SUISSE – Cham - The remains of 2,000-year-old Roman walls have been discovered by archaeologist in Switzerland in the foothills of the Alps. During the excavation of a gravel pit in Cham in the canton, or state, of Aug in central Switzerland, the walls, which once protected a Roman building complex, were found. Other pieces have also been unearthed by archaeologists, include a plaster wall, iron nails, and gold fragments. As well as items such as bowls, millstones for grinding, glassware, and crockery and ceramic jugs known as amphorae. In a statement form the Office for the Preservation of Monuments and Archeology, the findings were labelled an "archaeological sensation" for the region and could shed light on Roman activity in central Switzerland. Gishan Schaeren, head of the Department of Prehistory and Protohistoric Archaeology said in the statement: "Roman buildings of similar dimensions were last excavated in Cham-Heiligkreuz almost 100 years ago. We were also amazed that the top bricks were even visible above ground." The walls extend over an area of at least 5,300 square feet (500 square metres). Although it's unclear how Romans used the site, including whether it was a "villa with a view or a temple building," said professor of archaeology of the Roman provinces at the University of Bern Christa Ebnöther. The team said that findings of Roman tableware known as terra sigillata - which means "sealed earth" in Latin - were found, suggesting elite people were at the site. The amphorae, which typically held liquids such as wine, olive oil and fish sauce, are evidence that Romans in the region traded with those in the Mediterranean. Archaeologists also found several copper and bronze coins, including a silver denarius minted by Julius Caesar from the first century B.C. The discovery of the Roman walls is not the first ancient find in the area. Previously, archaeologists had found remains of a middle Bronze Age settlement, burials from the late Bronze Age, and a number of coins form the era of the Celts.
KAZAKHSTAN – Aynabulaq - Des chercheurs de l'université nationale kazakhe Al-Farabi, au Kazakhstan, ont découvert un tumulus sur le site d’Aynabulaq, un petit village situé dans l’Est du pays. Au sein de celui-ci, les chercheurs ont découvert le squelette d’une jeune fille vieux de l’âge du bronze. Mais en plus du squelette, les archéologues ont découvert des dizaines d’ossements qui pourraient avoir été placés là dans le cadre d’une pratique funéraire. En effet, ces derniers ont trouvé pas moins de 150 os de chevilles d’animaux, ainsi qu’une étrange sculpture de grenouille sur un disque de bronze comme l’a rapporté le ministère des sciences Kazakh au média The Astana Times. Rinat Zhumatayev, archéologue à l’université nationale kazakhe, la jeune fille en question a été “enterrée sur le côté gauche, penchée en avant”, témoigne-t-il dans les colonnes de Live Science. Le squelette, qui date entre 3200 et 1000 ans avant J-C, fut également retrouvé avec des bijoux. “Il y avait de petites boucles d'oreilles en fil de fer aux deux oreilles et des perles autour de son cou”, déclare Rinat Zhumatayev. Concernant le petit disque en bronze où est gravé une grenouille, c’est la première fois que des chercheurs on trouvé un tel symbole au Kazakhstan. "L'image de la grenouille a des significations différentes chez de nombreux peuples depuis l'Antiquité. Elle est associée à l'image d'une femme en train d'accoucher et au culte de l'eau... mais elle nécessite une étude plus approfondie." Selon les chercheurs, les os retrouvés dans la sépulture appartiendraient à des moutons et des bovins tels que des vaches. signe, selon certains, d’une “pratique culturelle” permettant de passer d’un monde à l’autre. Entre celui des vivants, et celui des morts.
MEXIQUE – Acapulco -Archaeologists discovered in the Mexican city of Acapulco a pre-Hispanic lost city of 334 hectares, where 38 petroglyphs, circular calendars, and the representation of a rain deity stand out. Among the findings, the petroglyph of a monkey also stands out, which is identical to one from the Nazca culture in Peru. For this reason, archeology fans have the theory that this happened thanks to a traveler who took these figures from one place to another, which is why the figure of a manned ship placed by visitors can also be seen in archaeological zones of Acapulco. . “As fans of archeology, we have exchanged shapes and figures that we took here in (the state of) Guerrero and they have sent us the same shapes that have been found in Peru, in Egypt, in some other places in Latin America,” he commented. to EFE the researcher and environmentalist Rubén Mendoza. This archaeological zone is located 13 kilometers from the city center, one of the main tourist destinations in Mexico for its beaches. The findings are in different areas of Cerro de La Bola, a place where a Yope culture pyramid used to be, which was used, according to theory, for rituals related to water, rain and fertility. This site originates from the end of the Early Classic period (around AD 400), while the attachment took place during the Epiclassic (600-900) and was abandoned during the early Postclassic, between the years 900 and 1200. For people who do extreme activities, this archaeological zone has already become a favorite place for being ideal for climbing because it is between 25 and 275 meters above sea level and is approximately 3 kilometers high. Scholars have concluded that the stone on the hill was a form of signaling for the ancestors. “It was a sign where they had to go and touch that stone, to know that they were sure that the place was done,” Mendoza emphasized.
PEROU – Huaca Pucllana - Archaeologists in Peru have unearthed a 1,000-year-old mummy in the latest discovery at an archaeological site located in a residential neighbourhood of the country's capital, Lima. The remains were found alongside ceramic vessels, textiles and other objects in the Huaca Pucllana site in the middle of Lima's affluent Miraflores district, the head of the team of archaeologists, Mirella Ganoza, told Reuters on Wednesday (Sept 6). "This is an adult individual in a sitting position with bent legs," the expert said, noting that the mummy had long hair and a jaw that was nearly completely intact. The uncovered mummy lived possibly as long as a millennium ago, at the beginning of the Ychsma culture that developed on the central coast of modern Peru during a period of social reorganisation prior to the arrival of the Incas to the area, Ganoza said. Mummies and ancient offerings have already been found in the Huaca Pucllana site, and experts see the site as a Pandora's Box with much more to be found.
FRANCE – Le Conquil - Sur le site du Conquil en Périgord noir, occupé à différentes périodes de l'Histoire, les archéologues comme les propriétaires enquêtent sur une mystérieuse structure cylindrique taillée dans la pierre, qui pourrait dater de la fin du Moyen Âge ou du début de l'époque moderne. Elle n'aurait pour le moment pas d'équivalent observé ailleurs par les experts. La quête de réponses se poursuit. Deux archéologues se sont rendus sur les lieux en novembre 2022. Ils ont notamment concentré leurs recherches sur l'un de ces éléments, toujours emprunt de mystère : une structure en creux, monolithique cylindrique conçue dans le sol de la période médiévale semble-t-il , qui avait de prime abord été présenté comme une meule. Mais les premières recherches suggèrent qu'il n'en est rien."Aucun des archéologues, ni même leurs connaissances à qui les photographies [du monument] ont été montrées, n’ont déjà vu cela" . Dans les années 1980, les anciens propriétaires identifient un affaissement au niveau du sol, au pied de la falaise qui domine la rivière. Ils dégagent ainsi fortuitement cette installation cylindrique, taillée dans la roche calcaire, qu'ils imaginent destinée à la mouture de substances aujourd'hui énigmatiques. Mais en se documentant sur le sujet, le couple Braun découvre qu'une meule n'aurait certainement pas eu des arêtes aussi franches. Une intuition qui semble être confirmée par les spécialistes, penchant davantage vers une autre théorie. "Nous nous sommes posé plein de questions, indique Corinne Gosse. Et en partant de ce que nous observons, nous éliminons des hypothèses au fur et à mesure. Si l'aménagement n'est pas commun, son utilisation, elle, pourrait l'avoir été." L'une des premières présomptions à avoir été écartée, par exemple, est celle d'un creusement circulaire destiné à encastrer les engins de levage au Moyen Âge, comme cela a été observé dans certaines régions du sud de la France ou dans d'autres sites troglodytes de Dordogne. Pour le moment, l'interprétation d'un rattachement à un équipement agricole – plus précisément d'un pressoir à vin, pourtant habituellement de forme carrée – reste toutefois celle avec le plus consensus, sans que rien ne soit établi pour le moment. Le monolithe semble en effet présenter un système creux d'écoulement, qui pourrait avoir été utilisé pour évacuer un liquide. L'installation ayant été curée par le passé, nous précise Corinne Gosse, la nature de ce potentiel écoulement reste difficile à établir. Les archéologues imagent également que la structure en creux devait autrefois en accueillir une autre en bois, aujourd'hui "fantôme", qui pourrait être restitué à partir de "négatifs". En parallèle, une historienne épluche par ailleurs les "terriers", les anciens registres contenant les lois et usages d'une seigneurie locale, dans l'espoir d'y retrouver des mentions de l’espace ou des indices sur la fonction du monolithe. Ces documents ont déjà révélé que ces territoires accueillaient en effet dans le passé grande exploitation de vignes. La piste est prometteuse. es experts n'avaient jusque-là pas été confrontés à un tel aménagement, ils peuvent toutefois en estimer la période d'utilisation. "Ce sont des choses qui ressemblent de près ou de loin à la fin de la période médiévale ou au début de l'époque moderne", estime l'archéologue en charge du projet. Pour préciser cette datation, l'analyse de petits charbons de bois (anthracologie, discipline spécialisée de l'archéologie) prélevés dans les couches sur site est en cours. Ces fouilles préliminaires, aussi fascinantes soient-elles, laissent pour le moment de nombreuses questions sans réponse. D’autant que d’autres points soulèvent des interrogations. Pourquoi le site accueillait-il non pas un, mais deux pigeonniers rupestres de l’époque médiévale ? Et pourquoi une tête de taureau est-elle gravée sur la roche à côté de l’un d’entre eux ? Quand la carrière qui se trouvait sur les lieux, révélée par des traces d’outils (fronts de taille) sur la falaise, a-t-elle exploité ? Les archéologues devraient revenir sur le site à l’automne pour ouvrir plus largement les quatre mètres carrés déjà étudiés autour de la très secrète structure circulaire. Et ce, dans le prolongement de l'écoulement, en direction de la rivière. L'objectif ? Creuser des niveaux potentiellement en lien avec le moment de sa création. Et ainsi, amasser plus de données. La découverte de tessons de céramique dans ces couches, notamment, pourrait permettre de la dater – sans être toutefois à l'année près.