13 - 14 AVRIL 2013 NEWS: Karaliyam - Casa Grande - Mary Rose - Bélesta - Enniskillen -
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SPRING SESSION : APRIL 2013
INDE – Karaliyam - A total of 117 ancient and priceless gold coins, a small gold plate and two silver anklets were found in an agricultural field in Karaliyam, a village in Kadambur block in Sathyamangalam taluk. The coins reportedly belong to the period of the Vijayanagara dynasty but this is yet to be confirmed by officials of the Archaeology Department. “The coins have pictorial inscriptions on them suggesting that they were minted during the Vijayanagara period. The anklets are small and they may be worn by the children. The coins are to be studied further,” Mr. Shanmugam said. Interestingly, a similar treasure pot with a large number of gold coins was unearthed in another village in Kadambur block in July 2010. A total of 744 coins were found in a pot that was unearthed by a farmer in Kottamalam village.
USA – Casa Grande - While the pyramids of Egypt, some dating back to 4,000 B.C., get credit for being one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, other builders were busy working their own architectural marvels at Hohokam sites in Arizona, hat covered nearly a dozen locations along the Gila, Salt, and Santa Cruz River valleys. If you think farming in a hot, dry desert—not the bib overall and tractor brand of today’s agriculture—but the one-seed-at-a-time kind practiced by long-ago cultivators, you’ll get a picture of both early agriculture and architecture found at one of the tour stops, the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. The edifice, a four-story-tall, 60-foot-long marvel built out of tightly-packed caliche-rich mud, is the largest known structure of the ancestral desert peoples constructed about 800 years ago. The original inhabitants called it Hottai-ki. The first European to see the building named it Casa Grande or Great House. “While it’s a triumph of engineering and a living monument to history, it’s not just a building to us but a place with spiritual connection,” said tour advisor Angela Garcia-Lewis, a member of the Gila River Indian Community. “The ruins are featured in traditional stories and songs of our culture as a sacred place and whether it was 800 years ago, or eight years ago, or even 800 years in the future, it should still be here because it has ties to the surrounding mountains and the river.” The nearby Gila River, which no longer flows since a dam was built in the 1920s, was once the lifeblood of area hunters and gatherers that archaeologists believe inhabited the land some 7,500 years ago. “The people may have been primitive, but they had the magic of the human mind to channel river flow to water their crops,” to quote the site’s video orientation. “Crude irrigation ditches, monumental works of both labor and engineering dug by hand with sticks, evolved into the largest, most complex, and most technically-engineered of all prehistoric canal systems in North America.” Water in this harsh environment attracted people who built homes and planted crops to feed themselves. “This was a very large village, hundreds of families, and everyone lived in pit houses,” explained tour guide Dr. Doug Craig. “There could have been 5,000 to 6,000 houses over a couple of square miles, lived in for a couple of decades, then another house built on top of it.” “This was an aggregated community of people from different kinship groups who lived together for awhile and then went their separate ways some 700 years ago,” according to Alycia Hayes, cultural preservationist and exhibits specialist with the National Park Service.
ROYAUME UNI – Mary Rose - Scientists studying Henry VIII’s naval flagship, which sank 468 years ago off the south coast of England in a battle with the French, are making new discoveries about the vessel that will change our understanding of history. New finds will be among 19,000 artefacts going on show in a new £23 million museum, built around the skeleton of the vessel, due to open later this year. Archaeologists have found the remains of a dog that lived on board, and longbows found on board have revealed a great deal about archery at the time. Among the items most exciting archaeologists are cannonballs believed to be early examples of armour-piercing rounds. Such shells were thought to have been developed during the late 1800s, before the technology was refined during the world wars. But the new findings by experts working with the Mary Rose Trust, which has been preserving the ship, now suggest the technology was being used several centuries earlier — although it could also have been a money-saving strategy, using cheaper iron inside the lead balls. Powerful imaging technology has revealed cubic-shaped lumps of iron encased in the soft, lead cannonballs, which would have allowed guns to punch through the sides of enemy vessels.
FRANCE – Bélesta - Une découverte archéologique exceptionnelle a lieu au printemps 1983 dans la Caune de Bélesta, une grotte creusée dans les témoins calcaires du Crétacé (250 MA). Cette cavité était connue de longue date par les populations locales et certains préhistoriens. Jean Abélanet (conservateur du musée de Tautavel de 1979 à 1990) y avait relevé des indices d'occupation préhistorique, mais aucune recherche archéologique systématique n'y avait été effectuée. Guidés par des habitants de Bélesta, des spéléologues du Conflent spéléo Club de Prades entreprennent la prospection des petites buttes calcaires du secteur, à la recherche de nouvelles cavités. Au fond du grand et beau porche d'entrée de la Caune situé à 390 mètres d'altitude orienté au sud-est, ils attaquent des travaux de désobstruction dans le sol limoneux et découvrent de nouvelles salles et galeries. Au cours de l'exploration, des éléments archéologiques apparaissent rapidement à la surface d'une petite salle située à 11 m de profondeur par rapport à l'entrée de la grotte, des vases entiers et des ossements. Cette salle appelée initialement 'Salle des poteries' (salle n°7 par la suite) fait immédiatement l'objet d'une fouille de sauvetage, sous la direction de Françoise Claustre, préhistorienne et directrice de recherche au CNRS. La salle n'est en réalité qu'un espace réduit de 5 m de côté, au plafond peu élevé et difficilement accessible. La fouille de sauvetage révèle l'existence d'une sépulture collective remontant au début du Néolithique moyen, d'une importance et d'une valeur scientifiques considérables. Cette découverte est exceptionnelle pour l'ensemble Languedoc-Roussillon-Catalogne, et à l'époque c'est l'une des plus anciennes sépultures en grotte du pourtour méditerranéen. Dans un premier temps, les chercheurs prélèvent le matériel de surface soit quatorze vases entiers n de remarquables poteries noires n et plusieurs ossements humains, dont des os longs et des fragments de calottes crâniennes. Dans un deuxième temps, la surface de la salle n°7 est fouillée méticuleusement sur une épaisseur de 30 à 50 centimètres ce qui permet l'exhumation de huit autres vases et de nombreux vestiges anthropologiques, dont plusieurs centaines de restes osseux humains, entiers et parfaitement identifiables. Au final, il s'avère que la salle n°7 constitue une sépulture collective en grotte regroupant de 25 à 30 sujets. La datation absolue demandée par l'anthropologue Jean Zammit sur les ossements donne une valeur de 5 640 ans ± 120 B.P. ce qui correspond au début du Néolithique moyen. En outre, le style du mobilier funéraire est attribué au complexe Montbolo (en Vallespir), de la même période.
ULSTER - Enniskillen - A woman who died 600 years ago at a crannog near Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh could have been the victim of foul play, a leading archaeologist has revealed. The remains of a female in her late teens found in the upper layers of the ancient site were not buried in a recognised graveyard or in a traditional manner. The woman, who was around 18 or 19 years old, is thought to have died in the 15th or 16th Century. The circumstances of her burial have led experts to wonder if she may have been killed. "This person wasn't laid out on their back in an east-west direction, which is normal for a Christian burial," excavation director Dr Nora Bermingham explained. "The body seems to have been bundled into position it was buried in. She added: "It's not uncommon for people who have either committed crimes or people who have been murdered or what not to have been buried in this fashion." Dr Bermingham said the cause of death may be discovered once the remains are examined by a bones specialist. The woman would have been alive as the crannog, thought to be 1,400 years old, was coming to the end of its time inhabited by people. More than 4,000 artefacts have been found at the crannog, which is an artificial island in a lake, revealing a "snap-shot" of life in Ireland from the 17th Century back as far as the 9th Century AD. Carbon dating has confirmed that some of the site's earliest structures were laid down around 670 AD, with experts believing some remains could be older. A unique wooden bowl with a cross carved into its base, parts of wooden vessels with interlace decoration, exquisite combs, a large pottery collection, "chess like" pieces for games, and timber foundations for dozens of houses are among some of the items uncovered.