15 MAI 2022 NEWS
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ECOSSE – Ile de Lewis - A rare medieval site has been discovered in the Outer Hebrides. The site, which was possibly used to farm sheep around 500 years ago, was found close to Gress, in the north east of the Isle of Lewis. As well as pits, postholes and stone features, which may have been part of an area used for sheep management, around 100 pieces of pottery were discovered, as well as large bones of cod, haddock and other unidentified animals. The site has been tentatively dated from the 14th to 16th centuries AD, which covers the period when the powerful Lords of the Isles ruling dynasty came to an end when John MacDonald II had his ancestral lands and titles seized by James IV of Scotland in 1493. The fish bones that were recovered have been identified as coming from large examples of cod and haddock, up to 1.30m and 0.70m in length, which would have been caught in deeper waters on long lines. Parts of the head were also found suggesting that whole fish were taken to the site to be consumed.
INDE - Rakhigarhi - Recent excavations at Rakhigarhi, a 7,000-year-old planned city in northern India with straight streets, fired-brick walls, drainage systems, corner garbage containers, and multi-storied houses, have been conducted by researchers from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The excavation team have now uncovered the graves of two women who had been buried with tools and jewelry, and a 5,000-year-old jewelry workshop. Copper and gold objects were also found, along with artifacts, beads, sealed scripts with motifs, and ceilings with Harappan script and elephant depictions.
TURQUIE - Başbük - Five years after the police originally foiled looters’ attempts to ransack the site, archeologists have revealed the first glimpses of the treasures held inside. In a paper published today in the journal Antiquity, researchers describe “a rare processional panel […] incised on the rock wall,” featuring eight local Iron Age gods and goddesses. The panel may have been discovered in Turkey, and the artwork includes inscriptions in the local language of Aramaic – but the style of the deities is clearly Assyrian, a culture that originated hundreds of miles further east in Mesopotamia. While the deities in procession appear to have been purposefully drawn according to local traditions, they include gods from regions throughout the Neo-Assyrian Empire, including the earliest-known depiction of the Syrian goddess Atargatis in the region. Four of the deities have been identified so far: “From right to left, the Başbük procession scene begins with the leading male deity, Adad (or Hadad), depicted in the ‘storm-god’ tradition of northern Syrian and south-eastern Anatolian iconography,” explain the researchers. Hadad is “recognizable from his triple lightning fork and circled star,” they note, but especially so from the inscription next to his face that says “Hadad.” Next comes his consort, an “Ištar-type goddess,” the researchers report. It’s not Ištar herself, though: at this time, local deities were often modeled after the big-name gods and goddesses, the paper notes, so the fact that she has Ištar’s trademark star-topped double-horn crown doesn’t necessarily mean it’s actually her – and thanks to the inscription at her head, we know this is actually Atargatis, the Syrian mother-goddess of fertility. Standing behind Atargatis is the moon god Sîn, crowned with a crescent and full moon, and the last of the three labeled deities. Fourth in line is the sun god Šamaš – no inscription here, but recognizable from his winged sun-disc crown, the paper explains.The other four deities, however, “cannot be clearly identified,” the researchers write. Two are reminiscent of Kubaba and her husband Karhuha, but not quite enough to be sure – Karhuha, fourth from the right, is missing his trademark shield and spear. Kubaba, sixth in the procession, seems to have some kind of lightning symbolism that the researchers haven’t seen associated with her before. Last of all in the procession is a deity wearing a crown with a large, double-lined circle – possibly “represent[ing] an astral entity,” the researchers explain, adding that “the figure may be a lunar deity.” Although they appear to be a female deity, the researchers think it may be identified with the god Nusku, son of Sîn. The gods aren’t the only names inscribed on the panel: the team also found what they suspect is the name "Mukīn-abūa". He was an official during the reign of Adad-nirari III, King of Assyria from 811 BCE to 783 BCE, and the team thinks he might have been given control of the region after it fell to the Neo-Assyrian Empire. In an effort to win over locals, the researchers speculate he may have commissioned the panel as a way to integrate the two cultures. The panel was never finished, suggesting something happened to stop its construction – a revolt, perhaps, or the installation of a less friendly local ruler.
NORVEGE – Jotunheimen - The array of arrows was found around the ice patches of the Jotunheimen Mountains in southern Norway during a 2019 expedition. One of the most impressive discoveries includes an Iron Age arrow, approximately 1,500-year-old, that was found lodged in the icy ground before being thawed out using lukewarm water. The team described the condition of this arrow as “awesome,” noting that it still had its pointed iron arrowhead and, incredibly, a feather fletching. The team discovered seven other arrows during their 2019 survey, one of which was an arrow found lying in a meltwater pond estimated to be roughly 4,000 years old from the Stone Age. They also found a rare and "unusual" arrowhead that dates to approximately 600 CE and an arrow with an antler arrowhead from around the same time.
IRLANDE – Ballymore - A stray ray of early-morning sunshine has revealed that what was previously thought to be a simple 13th century building stone in Ballymore is carved with what appears likely to be the face of Christ. There was a survey done in the graveyard some years back, in the mid-1990s, and they found this store that was part of an ogee window of the 13th century church that was on the site,” says Seamus, explaining that the find was made in the grounds of the ruined St Owen’s Church of Ireland church in Ballymore. The church from which the stone emanated is one of three known to have existed at one time or other on the St Owen’s site. That 13th century church was recorded on old manuscripts. Originally dedicated to St Thomas, Ballymore, the church was re-dedicated to St Mary in 1428.
ANGLETERRE – Stonehenge - Pits that may have been dug by prehistoric hunters as early as some 10,000 years ago have been discovered near Stonehenge by researchers from the University of Birmingham and Ghent University. The team members combined traditional archaeological methods with a noninvasive technique called electromagnetic induction survey, which makes use of the electrical conductivity of the soil to investigate what rests beneath the surface. “The traces we see in our data span millennia, as indicated by the 7,000-year time frame between the oldest and most recent prehistoric pits we’ve excavated,” said Paul Garwood of the University of Birmingham. The largest one measures about 13 feet wide and more than six feet deep. “[This] discovery of the largest known Early Mesolithic pit in north-west Europe shows this was a special place for hunter-gatherer communities thousands of years before the first stones were erected,” commented archaeologist Nick Snashall of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site.
FRANCE – Soissons - Le service archéologique du département de l’Aisne a découvert à Soissons au moins huit sépultures, dont certaines sont pour le moins inhabituelles. L’équipe archéologique a d’abord mis la main sur une domus de l’époque romaine, de 7 mètres de large datant des 1er et 2e siècles. La ville de Soissons a, en effet, été fondée par les Romains vers -20 avant J.C., époque durant laquelle elle portait le nom d'Augusta Suessionum, du nom de l'empereur Auguste. Le gros des découvertes concerne des niveaux de sols conservés de cette maison antique possiblement assez riche au vu des mosaïques qu’elle semblait contenir. Et c’est dans la partie sud de la parcelle que les archéologues ont découvert plusieurs sépultures. Parmi les sépultures, l'une d'elle est décrite comme une sépulture "d’urgence" contenant trois corps – l’un déposé sur le ventre, les deux autres sur le dos, au-dessus du premier – qui semblent avoir été déposés à la hâte. "Ils n’ont pas été installés de manière très recherchée, et semblent n’avoir bénéficié d’aucun soin. Cela laisse penser qu’il s’agit d'une sépulture d’urgence", explique le spécialiste de l’archéologie. "Cela se produit majoritairement dans deux cas précis : soit une épidémie, soit un contexte de guerre", poursuit-il. Pour en savoir plus, une datation au carbone 14 est donc indispensable. "Ce qui est important, désormais, c’est de dater ces squelettes, afin de savoir à quelle période ils appartiennent", ajoute Anthony Lefebvre.