09 MAI 2016 NEWS: Beijing - Teruel - Hyde Abbey - Hanjing - Largs - Durham - Hương An -
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CHINE – Beijing - The Palace Museum in Beijing has confirmed the discovery of relics from the Yuan Dynasty that had been buried in the middle of the city for more than 600 years. According to Li Ji, director of the Archaeology Institute of the museum, the relics were found during maintenance at the historical site. "At first, the discovery of such a large palace foundation at the eastern Garden of Compassion and Tranquility excited us. So we kept following this work, as we had an instinct that they can be dated back to an earlier time. However, we were pretty prudent." According to Li, another two layers of construction work, from the Ming and Qing dynasties, have also been found above the Yuan relics, showing archaeologists the palace's history and the layout of ancient Beijing. He says the current studies are still at a preliminary stage and it is too early to analyze the original architecture, however, no large-scale archaeological work will be carried out on the relics in order to minimize the impact on the surviving ancient architecture.
ESPAGNE – Teruel - Archaeologists in Spain identified a rare depiction of a Jewish man on a piece of pottery from the 13th century. The fragment was unearthed in Teruel, 140 miles east of Madrid, in 2004 but cataloged only in 2011 and identified this year by the archaeologist Antonio Hernandez Pardos. Unusually for pottery decorations from that period, which usually featured geometric shapes or depiction of flowers, the Teruel fragment shows the lower part of the face of a bearded man wearing a frilled gown that Pardos was able to trace back to Jewish iconography from the period. The find is unusual because researchers have very few depictions of Spanish Jews from the period, with the majority of illustrations being miniature sketches on prayer books, including ones used by Christians. Tens of thousands of Jews were expelled from Spain in the 15th century, when it was still a major hub for world Jewry, as part of the Spanish Inquisition campaign of persecution led by the Catholic Church and the Spanish royal house.
ROYAUME UNI – Hyde Abbey - Community archaeologists in Winchester have spoken of the “absolute rollercoaster” they embarked upon during a back garden dig which revealed major architectural structures from Hyde Abbey – a massive 12th century minster where Alfred the Great and his family were buried. Previous research had suggested the wall of the abbey’s south transept might be found there. David Spurling, the manager of the excavations, expects more discoveries to lie in wait. An extra day was eventually added to the planned three-day excavation after Don Bryan, a member of the Winchester Archaeological Research Group, exposed a large, robust masonry structure following the discovery of a solid surface in the easterly pit and the remains of the abbey structure in its westerly counterpart. A neolithic scraper, Roman tile and fragments of glazed and decorated tiles had earlier surfaced at the site, where the abbey flourished for 400 years before being dissolved in 1538 by Thomas Wriothesley, an agent of Henry VIII who ordered its buildings to be razed and its stone and materials to be sold for recycling.
CHINE – Hanjing - A paddy dating back more than 8,000 years have been discovered by Chinese archaeologists who believe that it could be the earliest wet rice farming site in the world. The field, covering less than 100 square meters, was discovered at the neolithic ruins of Hanjing in Sihong County in east China's Jiangsu province in November 2015, a spokesman with the archaeology institute of Nanjing Museum said. At a seminar held in late April to discuss findings at the Hanjing ruins, more than 70 scholars from universities, archaeology institutes and museums across the country concluded that the wet rice field was the oldest ever discovered. Researchers with the institute found that the paddy was divided into parts with different shapes, each covering less than 10 square meters. They also found carbonised rice that was confirmed to have grown more than 8,000 years ago based on carbon dating, as well as evidence that the soil was repeatedly planted with rice. Lin Liugen, head of the institute, said Chinese people started to cultivate rice about 10,000 years ago and carbonized rice of the age has been found, but paddy remnants are quite rare, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Lin said the findings would be significant for research on the origin of rice farming in China.
ROYAUME UNI – Largs - An archaeological dig is taking place in Knock Hill in Largs this month to hopefully answer some 'burning' questions about Iron Age hillforts in the town. Hillforts such as The Knock have baffled 19th century antiquarian and sci-fi buffs alike, with such figure as Arthur C. Clarke being completely mystified by their presence on the landscape and the reasons and processes of vitrification. The Scottish Iron Age Vitrified Hillfort Project, based at the University of York, will conduct archaeological investigation centred on The Knock vitrified Iron Age hill fort, in Largs. The research will bring together the application of microscopic and multi-element soil analysis techniques to prehistoric Iron Age hill forts. The investigation will identify the materials and methods used in the vitrification of Iron Age hill forts, while determining the impact such large scale resource use had on the landscape and the human inhabitant. Carol Lang, of the Department of Archaeology, said: "We have a number of burning questions we wanted answered. Why has vitrification of the hill fort at The Knock occurred? What are the methods employed in the building and firing of the structure? Has the enclosure been used for the settlement and/or domestic activity? "Hilltops defended by ditched and banked earthworks, sometimes augmented with masonry walls, are common features of Iron Age Europe, but it remains unknown why the defences of many examples were deliberately vitrified by subjecting them to intense and prolonged heat. "Although examples exist in mainland Europe, Ireland and England, by far the highest concentration are in Scotland, and indeed until recently these were thought to be an exclusively Scottish phenomenon."
ROYAUME UNI - Durham - Scottish soldiers who fought at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 were mostly young, poor and inexperienced, according to new research into their remains that were found in Durham in 2013. Archaeologists are currently analysing the corpses of the soldiers, which were discovered in two mass graves during building work at Durham University’s Palace Green library. As yet, experts from Durham University can only say that between 17 and 28 individuals were buried, and it has been confirmed with near certainty that they were mainly Scottish prisoners captured by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army at Dunbar. The graves had been hidden under the buildings and courtyard at Palace Green for more than 360 years. The bodies had originally been tipped into two open pits at what is thought to have been the edge of the castle grounds. In death the Scottish soldiers were not well treated and were not sufficiently covered, as their bodies show signs of being eaten by rodents. In life, they were at a huge disadvantage to the New Model Army as Durham University’s Department of Archaeology has revealed that many of the soldiers were between 13 and 25 years old, and the lack of healed injuries is consistent with the historical evidence that many of the soldiers were inexperienced in battle. The analysis of teeth proved crucial in identifying the soldiers. “Isotopic analysis could only be carried out on the 13 individuals who had teeth,” according to the department. The Scots were from disadvantaged communities. “We also noticed large numbers of dental defects on the teeth,” said the department. “These are caused while the teeth are developing and it suggests that many of the individuals came from impoverished backgrounds and suffered from malnutrition and illnesses in childhood.”
VIET NAM – Hương An - An ancient well has been discovered in Quảng Nam Province due to the joint efforts carried by the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and local administrators and villagers of Hương An Commune to protect an ancient Chăm well that has been excavated in the region. The ancient well, which is presumed to be built in the 12th century, has square structure, each side of which is nearly 1m long. It is made of ancient Chăm bricks, similar to materials used in other Chăm temples within Quảng Nam Province. Presently, besides the ancient Chăm well, there is a complex of Chăm artifacts such as steles, statues and temples located about 20m from Hương An Commune. This architectural complex has been recognised as a provincial historical and cultural heritage site and is being strictly preserved.