13 - 14 DECEMBRE 2010


 - 14 DECEMBRE :

 - CANADA : Kanata - Opponents of development in the Beaver Pond forest of Kanata say they have found new tools for the fight -- stone tools carved about 10,000 years ago and found in an archeology survey. The newest wrinkle is based on a 2005 survey of nearby land -- not the Beaver Pond forest itself, but a neighbouring site at the same elevation. After the last ice age, when most of Ottawa was under the Champlain Sea, the South March Highlands formed a rocky island. Early hunters are believed to have lived there, possibly hunting seals and whales in the shallow sea. Steve Hulaj, president of the Kanata Lakes Community Association, says the thousands of sharpened stones found on the nearby Broughton Lands show the Beaver Pond's archeological significance was dismissed too quickly. And he points to a written opinion this year from prominent archeologist Robert Mc-Ghee, which concludes that "the rocky upland areas of the proposed development ... should be considered to be of high potential" as a site of early human settlement. The Broughton Lands survey shows more than 16,000 artifacts "only a few hundred yards away."  Those artifacts are classed as cutting tools, scraping tools, adzes and also thousands of fragments left from shaping the sharp edges.  Now Hulaj says it's the city's obligation to approach the provincial Ministry of Citizenship and Culture and suggest that the original archeological survey was incomplete, and the site should be surveyed again before any trees are cut.


 - PALESTINE :  Jericho -  Recruté par l'Unesco et l'Autorité palestinienne, l'architecte suisse Peter Zumthor a pour ambition de sauver la plus vaste mosaïque du monde, dans les ruines du Palais d'Hisham, un joyau omeyyade du 8e siècle près de Jéricho. Peter Zumthor, prix Pritzker 2009, a récemment présenté aux pays donateurs son projet de "Maison des Mosaïques" pour mettre en valeur ce site archéologique, un des plus riches de Palestine, au nord de l'oasis de Jéricho. Les ruines du palais d'Hisham, construit sous l'Empire omeyyade (661-750 après JC), s'étendent sur 60 hectares à Khirbat al-Mafjar, à l'ouest de la vallée du Jourdain, à 260 m sous le niveau de la mer. Le site a été découvert en 1873 et les premières excavations scientifiques datent des années 30, effectuées par l'archéologue anglais Robert W. Hamilton pendant le mandat britannique en Palestine. Représentatif des débuts de l'architecture islamique, ce palais d'hiver se compose d'une résidence de plusieurs étages, une cour à portiques, une mosquée, une fontaine et surtout un hammam sur le modèle des bains romains. Longtemps attribué au 10e calife de la dynatie des Omeyyades, Hisham bin Abed el-Malik (724-743), il semble que ce soit son neveu et successeur al-Walid II qui l'ait bâti vers 743-744, et habité. Palais inachevé, il fut détruit par un tremblement de terre vers 749. Le site archéologique du palais d'Hisham est une priorité pour l'Unesco. Il a le potentiel d'être classé au patrimoine mondial de l'Humanité. Renommé pour sa profusion de mosaïques, il recèle un célèbre "Arbre de Vie", au pied duquel paissent paisiblement deux gazelles tandis qu'un lion dévore une troisième, allégorie de la paix et de la guerre. Le hall du Grand bain offre, sur 850 m2, la mosaïque au sol la mieux préservée du Moyen-Orient, sans doute la plus étendue du monde, selon les experts. Ses motifs géométriques sont aujourd'hui recouverts d'une couche de sable pour leur protection.


 - CHINE :   More than 30 archaeological shipwreck sites have been discovered off the country's shoreline, the national oceanic body has reportedly said.The shipwrecks were discovered during a research project called 908, China News Service on Sunday quoted an unidentified official with the State Oceanic Administration's department of science and technology as saying. Ancient merchants shipped vast stores of goods, including ceramics and bronze-wares, along the Maritime Silk Road. "So there are plenty of underwater archaeological sites near southeast China's coast and around neighboring countries, such as Vietnam," Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage researcher Sun Jian said. The Maritime Silk Road is a sea route dating back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220), linking Quanzhou in modern Fujian province to India and the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. "One ancient shipwreck usually abounds with tens of thousands of relics from the same dynasty," Sun said. "The huge profits have enticed a growing number of fishermen to dive for these riches. "Currently, China does not have detailed laws protecting underwater cultural relics. The country has fewer than 100 certified archaeologists capable of underwater operations.


 - 13 DECEMBRE :

 - NOUVELLE-ZELANDE : South Island - Polynesian people began burning the forests of the South Island of New Zealand almost as soon as they arrived about 800 years ago, researchers have found. Within as little as 200 years, they had removed 40% of the moist closed canopy forests of the South Island, according to research published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study of lake sediments reveals that dense beech and podocarp forests were rapidly replaced with tussock grassland and fern shrubland. The researchers analysed cores taken from 16 lakes across the South Island, to a sediment depth representing a 1000 year time span. They traced the amount of charcoal (indicating fire), pollen (indicating what kind of plants were growing at the time) and planktonic life in the lakes (indicating how much nutrient was in the lakes). They found that the amount of charcoal increased 20 fold after the arrival of people. This would have meant that fire frequency went from one or two fires per 1000 years to several fires each century. By burning the forests, the Maori encouraged the regeneration of bracken fern, the rhizome (root) of which was a very important source of food starch.


 - SYRIE  Tel Ahmar - Stone stairs and the foundations of a temple built on the ruins of an older temple from the pre-Hellenistic period were unearthed at the site of Tal Ahmar in Sweida province. Yaser al-Shaar, Member of the national archaeological mission working at the site, told SANA that the excavations also revealed floors from the Islamic period in the northern cave in Tal Ahmar, as well as remains of a stone cemetery engraved in rock. Al-Shaar said that another excavation season is needed for the site to reveal other possible remnants and historical references given that the site was damaged during successive time periods. The mission's current work season continue that of 2007 during which a big basalt altar dating back to the pre-Roman period with an eagle on top of it and a natural cave containing three small and medium-sized altars engraved in volcanic rock were discovered.


 - U.S.A. :   Trenton - To archaeologists and historians, it's a rare treasure. Deep in the earth are the remains of what may be the only colonial-era steel mill excavated in North America.Two Philadelphians - Timothy Matlack and Owen Biddle - once made steel at the so-called Petty's Run site, demonstrating an independent streak that dismayed England. The British wanted raw materials from the colonies so they could turn out the finished product for sale in America. "This was part of American independence," said Ian Burrow, vice president of Hunter Research Inc. in Trenton, which conducted the archaeological dig. "We can be more self-sufficient." Now, the uncovered ruins of the steel mill and other 18th- and 19th-century mills and buildings - built atop one another like the layers of a cake - will be reburied by spring.

 - TURQUIE :    Allianoi - The ancient city of Allianoi, near Turkey’s Aegean coast, has been completely covered with sand in preparation for building a dam in the area, despite protests from activists and archaeologists. Though officials say covering the Roman-era spa settlement with sand is the only way to protect the ruins while they are submerged under the waters of the new dam, experts disagree with that assessment. The method is obsolete and it will destroy, rather than protect, the ancient site.