09 - 10 SEPTEMBRE 2010



 - ESPAGNE :   Orce - Already known as the Cradle of European man, now the ancient village of Orce has sprung up a few more interesting surprises. In what is being described as one of the best archaeological sites in Europe, investigators have found the remains of hippos, rhinos and elephants. Archaeologists believe the animals were eaten by local hunters up to 1.3 million years ago. The dig at Barranco Leon is said to have the largest concentrations of prehistoric animal remains outside Africa’s Rift Valley.


 - FRANCE : Castres - Nécropole du Causse. Pour Loïc Buffat, responsable des fouilles: «Les fouilles réalisées en 1995 sur l'emprise de la rocade ont démontré que nous étions sur le site d'une nécropole très importante. 750 urnes funéraires avaient été découvertes alors. Ce coups-ci, plus à l'est, nous avons fouillé le prolongement de cette nécropole. Depuis le mois de mai, nous avons mis à jour 350 urnes à incinération.» Ces sépultures datent de la période du 6e au 9e siècle avant JC témoignant d'une forte présence humaine dans ce secteur à l'époque gauloise, en pleine apparition de l'âge de fer. Dans chacune des 350 urnes retrouvées à très faible profondeur, les archéologues professionnels ont minutieusement gratté le contour des vases prélevés en motte puis stockés aux fins d'analyse et travaux de chercheurs. Chaque sépulture compte environ 4 ou 5 vases dont un seul contient les ossements recueillis après l'incinération du défunt. Dans la fosse, les chercheurs découvrent le plus souvent quelques modestes pièces de bronze, fibules, épingles, couteaux ou rasoirs voire même des perles. «On peut aussi détecter parfois des traces d'offrandes, des ossements d'animaux par exemple. En revanche, il est impossible d'identifier des matériaux tels que textiles ou bois secs bien que nous soyons persuadés qu'ils étaient utilisés et déposés dans ces urnes.


 - FRANCE : Lascaux - Il y a 70 ans, le 8 septembre 1940, le jeune Marcel Ravidat se promène avec son chien Robot, près de Montignac, en Dordogne. Brusquement l'animal disparaît sous terre. Quatre jours plus tard, le 12 septembre, le jeune homme revient avec trois camarades pour découvrir ce qui deviendra un trésor de la préhistoire : la grotte de Lascaux.

 - ROYAUME-UNI : Greenwich - The remains of a headless North Atlantic right whale, measuring 23ft (7m) long and weighing half a tonne (500kg), have been dug up in Greenwich. The skeleton of the 18th century has been put on display for the first time at the Museum of London Docklands. Francis Grew, senior curator of archaeology at the museum, said: "This is probably the largest single object ever to have been found on an archaeological dig in London. The skeleton will be eventually transported to the Natural History Museum, where it will be carbon-dated and used by researchers to understand more about the endangered species. Scientists can use the bones to extract DNA and stable isotopes, which can provide information about genetic diversity, distribution in the ocean and feeding strategies.



 - GRECE : - A celestial event in the 5th century BC could be the earliest documented sighting of Halley's comet - and it marked a turning point in the history of astronomy.  According to ancient authors, from Aristotle onwards, a meteorite the size of a "wagonload" crashed into northern Greece sometime between 466 and 468 BC. The impact shocked the local population and the rock became a tourist attraction for 500 years. The accounts describe a comet in the sky when the meteorite fell. This has received little attention, but the timing corresponds to an expected pass of Halley's comet, which is visible from Earth every 75 years or so. The researchers show that Halley's comet would have been visible for a maximum of 82 days between 4 June and 25 August 466 BC. From 18 July onwards, a time of year characterised in this region by strong winds, it was in the western sky. At around this time, the Earth was moving under the comet's tail, so its debris field would have made shooting stars.  Plutarch wrote in the 1st century AD that a young astronomer called Anaxagoras predicted the meteorite's fall to Earth. At this time, everyone thought that celestial bodies such as the moon and planets were fiery, lighter-than-air objects. But after observing a solar eclipse in 478 BC, Anaxagoras concluded that they were heavy, rocky lumps, held aloft by a centrifugal force. This implied that solar eclipses occurred when the moon blocked the light from the sun. It also meant that if knocked from position, such a rock might crash to Earth.


 - BRESIL : Manaus - Archaeologists working in a remote section of the Amazon Rainforest announced Tuesday that they have discovered the ancient remnants of what they claimed may be the lousiest civilization in human history. According to Dr. Ronald Farber, a professor from the University of Minnesota who is leading the excavation, the "half-assed" culture existed from about 450 B.C. until 220 B.C., when it abruptly disappeared.


 - U.S.A. : Four Naval Academy midshipmen and a professor, along with Navy scientists, are getting the chance of a lifetime as they head to the North Sea on Wednesday to search for the remains of Capt. John Paul Jones' ship, Bonhomme Richard. This search for one of the most famous ships of the American Revolution will combine oceanography, historical analysis and naval engineering, and will employ cutting-edge technology. A multibeam sonar, for example, will give researchers three-dimensional pictures of objects on the ocean floor, and a gradiometer, a mine-sweeping tool, can detect objects buried under sediment. In the battle of Sept. 23, 1779, fought off the northeastern coast of England, Bonhomme Richard and the more heavily armed HMS Serapis pounded each other with cannons at point-blank range for about four hours. This is the battle where Jones answered the British demand to surrender along the lines of, "I have not yet begun to fight!". After the battle, the Bonhomme Richard, which had been a gift to the Continental Navy from France, limped along for 36 hours before it sank. By then, Jones was aboard the Serapis, which had surrendered to him.


 - MEXIQUE : Tula - The Archaeological Zone of Tula, in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, will open its doors for the first time at night, to receive visitors for the academic event Los Caminos del Cielo, Noche de Observacion Astronomica to take place on Friday, September 10th 2010, where telescopes will be installed at the central esplanade of this Prehispanic site. The capital city of the Toltecas during the Early Post Classic period (950-1150AD) has been identified as the ancient Tollan Xicocotitlan and is considered a privileged location for astronomical observation due to its urban planning. According to Nahua informants of Bernardino de Sahagun, Toltecas were great sky observers, “they knew…the stars, they gave them names…knowing well how the sky moved, how it rotated”. Architectonic orientation of the main buildings at Tula confirms this idea. During the night of astronomical observation, Scorpio constellation may be visible, as well as its brilliant star Antares. The constellation named Scorpio in Europe, was identified as a scorpion by several Mesoamerican cultures; it was named Citlatl Colotl by Mexicas and Sina’an by Mayas. Its disappearance in the western sky during the first hours of November marked the beginning of the dry season in Mesoamerica.


 - ROYAUME-UNI : Scone - The ancient mound known as the Moot Hill in the ground of Scone Palace was once the site of the "lost" abbey of Scone, founded in 1114 by Alexander I, where Scottish kings are believed to have assumed the mantle of power on the Stone of Destiny. It was revealed yesterday that archaeologists studying the historic site have been able to use radiocarbon dating to push back the origins of the ancient seat of ecclesiastical and royal power to at least 1,000 years ago, in a remarkable breakthrough that has been hailed as uncovering the "birth certificate of Scotland". The critical dating evidence came from scientific analysis of carbon samples retrieved during excavations of a massive ditch that once surrounded the Moot Hill. The radiocarbon dating had been based on the samples of burned wood recovered from the base of ditch which surrounds the mound. The analysis shows that Moot Hill likely dates to some point between the late ninth century and early 11th century. Significantly, the new dating evidence also matches the earliest historical accounts of royal ceremonies being held at Scone contained in a tenth-century chronicle, dating from the reign of King Constantine II, which began in 906.


 - BULGARIE : Nessebar - Bulgarian archaeologists have found a bronze hydria in a tomb dating back to 4th century BC during excavations in the Necropolis of Mesambria in the Black Sea city of Nessebar. The archaeologists, who opened the tomb on Thursday, have explained that the hydria was an ancient vessel for storing liquids like water, wine or a mix of water and wine. The discovered object has three handles with exquisite detailed decoration on them. According to the scientists, the hydria they found has been used for storing the remains of a dead person who had been cremated first. After the hydria was taken out of the tomb, the archaeologists also found a very well preserved application, which had initially been on the vessels but had come off in time. The application has a big emboss and features images of a male and a female figures, both with wings. The archaeologists believe that the images might come from the Greek mythology but are yet to prove this thesis. The discovery is extremely interesting and important for several reasons. The first is the fact that the cremation was a very rare funeral ritual in the Necropolis of Mesembria, as well as in the other ancient Greek necropolises in the Black Sea area.


 - U.S.A. : Hampton - Boosted by extra time from Old Point Bank and a grant from an anonymous donor, the downtown dig will continue through Sept. 30, enabling archaeologists to keep probing a site that ranks among the 400-year-old town's richest. Originally scheduled to end in mid-August, the excavation has turned up more than 1,000 features and thousands of artifacts since late June, opening an unexpectedly fertile window on Hampton's early 1700s boom years as one of the nation's busiest ports.


 - AUSTRALIEFor tens of thousands of years, Aboriginal Australian artists have used ochre from the earth, with its rich red, yellow and brown hues, to express their Dreamtime stories. Now this ancient material is to be chemically ''fingerprinted'' in the first comprehensive high-tech survey of ochre from across the country. Dr Rachel Popelka-Filcoff, a research associate at Flinders University, says her research will help uncover the sources of the pigment used in different pieces of art, on artefacts such as spears, shields, paddles and boomerangs, and from archaeological contexts such as burials as well as rock art. It could also reveal how the precious substance was traded between groups of Aborigines as they moved about the continent.


 - MEXIQUE : Yaxchilan - Analyses conducted to objects made out of mollusk shells found at the Little Acropolis of Yaxchilan, in Chiapas, reveal the possibility of specialized handcraft workshops at the interior of Maya palaces. Apparently, members of the elite created the crafts and not members of the lower classes or foreigners as it was the custom. Yaxchilan is located in a wide meander at the left bank of Usumacinta River; apparently the city was formed following the trajectory of the river, having its peak between 550 and 900 AD. Little Acropolis was drafted to be kept isolated from public areas, its main access opening to the river. The Little Acropolis lies on the top of a rock hill adapted with the terrace system and a great platform to lodge 16 buildings organized around 3 open spaces: a terrace at the front, a wide central patio at the most elevated position and a small patio open to the west. the mollusk-shell collection is rich in its variety, since they proceed from the Pacific coast (from Baja California Bay, Mexico, to Cabo Blanco, Peru), as well as the Caribbean region. The collection includes samples from Spondylus princeps and Spondylus calcifer that must have been collected by divers, since they are found in depths of up to 30 meters. The selection of material shows that the intention was to conserve characteristic ornamentation and color of the mollusks, such as the violet tone of Spondylus calcifer. Shells include local bivalves from Usumacinta River as well as regional snails, and were used to create utilitarian and ornamental artifacts, such as small trumpets, beads, earrings, pectorals, ear spools, rings, as well as circular and squared inlays, as the one of the glyph-emblem of Yaxchilan. The use given to some of the items has not been determined yet. The shell artifacts have been analyzed to determine the kind of tools and processes used to create them, employing electronic microscopes to search for superficial marks.