09 AOUT 2023 NEWS
INSTITUT SUPERIEUR D'ANTHROPOLOGIE
INSTITUTE OF ANTHROPOLOGY
ONLINE COURSES / COURS A DISTANCE
DEBUT COURS : SEPTEMBRE 2023
ISRAEL – Palmachim - The Israel Antiquities Authority announced from social media on July 18 that the object the lifeguard turned over was a 2,500-year-old, eye-shaped marble disc that was attached to ships to ward off the evil eye. Experts say the relic, found during a dive by lifeguard David Shalom at the Yavne-Yam archaeological site near Palmachim Beach, dates back to the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Yaakov Sharvit, Director of the Marine Archaeology Unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority, explains: “From drawings on pottery, mosaics, and ancient coins, as well as from historical sources from the 5th century BCE, we learn that this design was common on ships’ bows and served to protect against the evil eye and envy, aided navigation, and acted as a pair of eyes looking ahead and warning of danger. This decoration is still common today on modern ships in Portugal, Malta, Greece, and the far east.” The large white marble disc, 20 cm in diameter, is flat on one side and curved on the other, and it has a central cavity with traces of paint appearing as two circles around the center. It is identified as an eye motif, in Greek “ophtalmoi,” and such discs adorned the bows of ancient warships and merchant’s vessels. Lead or bronze nails attached the center of the disc to the ship’s hull. Archaeologists have turned up a wealth of artifacts in the same area.
CHINE – Xi'an - While excavating the tomb of an ancient Chinese emperor, archaeologists unearthed the skeleton of a giant panda, officials said. The skeleton, which was in good condition, dates back around 2,000 years, according to an Aug. 2 news release from the Chinese Archaeology Network. The tomb it was found in belonged to Emperor Wen, a ruler in the Han Dynasty who lived from 202 B.C. to 157 B.C, according to the British Museum. Wen was “singular in many respects,” according to a 2018 study published in the journal Archaeological Research in Asia. “He is known for the reform of the empire, and for his ‘frugality’ and concern for his people.”And unlike many other emperors, he declined to build a “burial mound,” instead opting to construct his tomb inside of a mountain, according to the study. Inside this tomb — located in Xi’an, a city in central China — archaeologists uncovered an animal sacrifice pit, which housed the panda bones. In Han Dynasty China, like many other ancient societies, the dead were buried with many material goods, so they could be enjoyed in the afterlife, officials said. Animals, including the panda, would have been entombed as part of an underground royal garden for the dead. Additionally, the internment of animal bones was used to display power and wealth. The panda has long held a unique place in Chinese culture, according to the Chinese Consulate in Calgary. The black-and-white animals traditionally symbolized peace and were once believed to have medicinal powers.
TURQUIE – Ephese - The gladiator cemetery discovered in Ephesus (Turkey) in 1993 dates to the 2nd and 3rd century AD. The aim of this study is to reconstruct diverse diet, social stratification, and migration of the inhabitants of Roman Ephesus and the distinct group of gladiators. Stable carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur isotope analysis were applied, and inorganic bone elements (strontium, calcium) were determined. In total, 53 individuals, including 22 gladiators, were analysed. All individuals consumed C3 plants like wheat and barley as staple food. A few individuals show indication of consumption of C4 plants. The δ13C values of one female from the gladiator cemetery and one gladiator differ from all other individuals. Their δ34S values indicate that they probably migrated from another geographical region or consumed different foods. The δ15N values are relatively low in comparison to other sites from Roman times. A probable cause for the depletion of 15N in Ephesus could be the frequent consumption of legumes. The Sr/Ca-ratios of the gladiators were significantly higher than the values of the contemporary Roman inhabitants. Since the Sr/Ca-ratio reflects the main Ca-supplier in the diet, the elevated values of the gladiators might suggest a frequent use of a plant ash beverage, as mentioned in ancient texts.
MALTE – Melite - A research team from the University of South Florida has discovered a 2,000 year-old house that once belonged to a wealthy family—still in exceptional condition—during an excavation in Malta. Nestled in the heart of the ancient city of Melite, the once lavishly decorated mansion, traditionally known as Roman Domus, had been covered by centuries of soil. “In use between the 1st century BCE and 2nd century CE, the Domus was elegantly decorated with mosaic floors, wall frescoes and marble decorations,” said Davide Tanasi. “During the Roman Empire, it was certainly used as a residence by a representative of the emperor or some very wealthy individual very close to the imperial court.” After a summer of digging, processing and cleaning artifacts of the Roman Domus, the team discovered a portion of a previously unknown house adjacent to the domus with nearly 10-foot-tall walls, a height Tanasi says is unheard of for the Roman residential units usually found in the Mediterranean area. On a hunt to learn more about the owner of the house and what it was like living a block away from the domus, the team is searching for clues among the findings they have so far: an exquisite interior likely decorated with terracotta floor tiles, frescoed plasters and an ancient waste disposal system full of fragmented pottery, glass vessels, animal bones and charcoal. “It was literally the garbage disposed by whomever lived in the house,” Tanasi said. “By studying this deposit, we will learn a lot about the life of who lived in the house. It is surprising how much you can learn about people from their garbage.”
KYRGYSTAN – Amanbaev - An ancient saber (heavy military sword with a long cutting edge and, often, a curved blade) was found by three brothers in Amanbaev, a village in the Talas Region of Kyrgyzstan. The sword was discovered on June 4, 2023, and it is a gorgeous example of medieval art, making it a unique find not just in Kyrgyzstan but also in all of Central Asia. Its excellent craftsmanship and condition demonstrate the skill of blacksmiths from that time. The saber consists of various parts, including a pommel, hilt, blade, and guard. This type of sword originated in Iran in the 12th century and then spread from Morocco to Pakistan. Its curved shape suggests it may belong to a Muslim country, similar to “shamshir” sabers found in the Indo-Iranian region. Known to Europeans as the scimitar, the shamshir is the quintessential long sword of the horsemen of Persia (Iran), Moghul India, and Arabia. It scales primarily with Strength and Dexterity and is a good Weapon for high-dexterity characters who can excel at slashing attacks while spinning. A curved sword with a thin blade of ample length. Light of weight despite its larger size, its slicing attacks come in rapid succession. Such sabers were renowned for their sharpness and lethality. The saber that was found has the following measurements: Length: 90 centimeters Tip length: 3.5 centimeters Hilt length: 10.2 centimeters Handguard length: 12 centimeters Blade length: 77 centimeters Blade width: 2.5 centimeters The brothers also found a 5 cm diameter vessel for melting metal and a coin with Arabic inscriptions on both sides. Such coins were used in Kyrgyzstan in the 11th century when the Karakhanid state developed. According to Sıyatbek Ibraliyev, the tools used to melt metal and coins indicate that there were workshops for minting coins in the area.
TURQUIE - Kortik Tepe - The examination of bones dating back to the Middle Ages, which were unearthed 16 years ago during archaeological excavations in southeastern Türkiye, has provided valuable insights into the anatomy of humans who lived several centuries ago. After over two decades of excavations, experts at the Kortik Tepe mound in Diyarbakır province found that the lower jaw bones of male and female skeleton subjects differed in size and strength. "We observed that, during the Middle Ages, the lower jawbones of men living in Kortik Tepe were strong and powerful, while the lower jawbone of women exhibited less density," Vatan Kavak, a professor of anatomy at the province's Dicle University, told Anadolu Agency (AA). "We also found that the lower jawbones of men in this region were stronger and sturdier compared to their counterparts in other parts of the world," added Kavak, who is one of the academics leading the dig site alongside Mara Pilmane of the Latvia-based Riga Stradins University. The study examined the jawbones of 121 subjects – 55 women and 66 men – living in the Middle Ages near the Kortik Tepe mound. The results of the study were published in the international journal Translational Research in Anatomy. Kavak said they examined the jaw structure of the skeletons. He added that the more delicate jaw bones of women indicated they were more involved in "domestic chores and not in hunting and other activities." "When we compared them with the women of other regions, we found that the women living in Kortik Tepe were the most delicate," he added. "With agriculture beginning around that time, men hunted wild animals outside and ate them without cooking, while also consuming grain-based meals, which led to the strengthening of their jaws," he explained. Noting that the study's results were published in an international scientific journal, Kavak pointed out that they could be helpful to surgeons."Our work will be a guide for jaw, implant, and aesthetic surgeons in the future," he underlined.
EGYPTE – el-Alamein - An archaeological mission from the Central Department of Sunken Antiquities at the Supreme Council of Antiquities, in Egypt has discovered the remains of a sunken ship from the third century BC in a site at the Mediterranean Sea, roughly 650 meters from the beach of el-Alamein, alongside various ancient jars. These included a large number of jars (amphoras) imported from the island of Rhodes in Greece, which were used in ancient times in the storage and transportation of wine. Ashmawy noted that these jars were found resting on a sunken island next to the ship, which indicates that the ship sank after it collided with the island during its commercial voyage.
TURQUIE – Pompeiopolis - In a remarkable archaeological discovery, an array of splendid mosaics dating back 1,800 years has been unearthed during ongoing excavations in the venerable city of Pompeiopolis, nestled in Türkiye's northern region of Kastamonu. Of particular significance are the intensified efforts within the Villa section of Pompeiopolis, situated in the Zımbıllı Tepe district, where an opulent Roman villa has been unveiled. Spread over an expansive area of approximately 1,600 square meters (17,222.26 square feet), this sprawling edifice bears witness to the architectural prowess of its time, housing an array of private chambers and captivating decorative elements. Eliuşük said: "Pompeiopolis held sway as the regional capital during the second century A.D. This heritage has allowed us to discern the remnants of the Roman Empire's grandeur within the city's very fabric." At the heart of these excavations lies the Roman villa, a structure of paramount importance that has stood the test of time. Within its walls, fountains and intricate infrastructure systems once flourished, now relegated to the foundation levels that remain. Among the myriad artifacts and remnants discovered, the crowning glory undoubtedly rests upon the stunning mosaics that grace the villa's interior. Eliuşük expounds, "These ornate mosaics, a testament to the villa's earliest phase, have surfaced as spectacles. As we painstakingly uncover these treasures, we've unveiled a female figure alongside a letter believed to be inscribed by her husband, although time has left its mark on these medallions. Remarkably, these mosaics are estimated to be around 1,800 years old, offering a rare glimpse into the artistic prowess of the late second or early third century A.D."
ALLEMAGNE – Trave River - A 400-year-old sunken ship in Germany was discovered by archaeologists as containing "high-quality wine," according to media reporting. In 2022, the shipwreck was first found lying at the bottom of the Trave River, which streams to Germany via the Baltic Sea. Archaeologists have reportedly determined the German sunken ship is different than other old shipwreck in the area. The latest development of the ongoing salvage of the vessel, since its discovery last year, led to the finding of some of the world's oldest wines. The exact identity of the ship's passengers remains a mystery. However, the recent revelation could help archaeologists the purpose of the vessel, which likely sailed during the Age of Exploration or the Age of Discovery dating back from the 15th to 17th century.
FRANCE – Arcy-sur-Cure - Around 42,000 years ago, anatomically modern humans appeared in Western Europe to the detriment of indigenous Neanderthal groups. It is during this period that new techno-cultural complexes appear, such as the Châtelperronian that extends from northern Spain to the Paris Basin. The Grotte du Renne (Arcy-sur-Cure) is a key site for discussing the biological identity of its makers. This deposit has yielded several Neanderthal human remains in its Châtelperronian levels. However, the last inventory of the paleoanthropological collection attributed to this techno-complex allowed the identification of an ilium belonging to a neonate (AR-63) whose morphology required a thorough analysis to assess its taxonomic attribution. Using geometric morphometrics, we quantified its morphology and compared it to that of 2 Neanderthals and 32 recent individuals deceased during the perinatal period to explore their morphological variation. Our results indicate a morphological distinction between the ilia of Neanderthals and anatomically modern neonates. Although AR-63 is slightly outside recent variability, it clearly differs from the Neanderthals. We propose that this is due to its belonging to an early modern human lineage whose morphology differs slightly from present-day humans. We also explore different hypotheses about the presence of this anatomically modern neonate ilium among Neanderthal remains.