15 SEPTEMBRE 2011 NEWS : Kapilvastu - Pisidian Antioch - Assynt - Lac Victoria - Old Cahawba - Noatak -
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- NEPAL – Kapilvastu - Archeological treasures in Kapilvastu museum are in peril when cup boards and wooden shelves here are getting rotten. The cup boards and racks have been worn out due to no maintenance for over the past three years. Water enters into the room with archeologically important goods during the rainy season. Water leakage from the ceiling and fungal problem have also increasingly put the treasures at higher risk. The museum located in Kapilvastu municipality, Shivagadh showcases the historical, archeological and cultural collections having significant associations with the lives of King Suddhodan and Gautam Buddha.
- TURQUIE – Pisidian Antioch - The ruins of a Byzantine mansion belonging to a pontiff and a Roman villa have been unearthed in a recent excavation being carried out in the ancient Pisidian city of Antioch in Yalvaç, Isparta. Archaeologists underline that the wall paintings discovered in both structures were of high quality, only comparable to the quality of the paintings found in Rome and Pompeii. Assistant Professor Mehmet Özhanlı, who is supervising the dig, said that they had discovered the mansion of a Byzantine pontiff and a villa from the Roman period in a hill known as Vicus Aedilicus. Stressing that they believe the structure discovered was a pontiff's mansion as there was a church in the complex, Özhanlı also said that based on their findings Pisidian Antioch, a metropolitan Byzantine city that dates back to the Hellenistic period, excelled in frescos and mosaics. Noting that they also concluded that the marble covers on the floor were removed and then melted in lime furnaces, Özhanlı said, “Despite this deformation, the wall paintings were of high quality, comparable to the Pompeii style.” The professor further underlined that the villa from the Roman era they discovered was an important breakthrough that contributed to improved documentation of that period of the city. Özhanlı further said: “The paintings on the walls of the Roman villa were of immense quality; in that sense, they are no different form the wall paintings in Rome or Pompeii. Many colors, including blue, orange, red and yellow, were used in the wall paintings. This tells us that Pisidian Antioch excelled in wall paintings.” Özhanlı further noted that the excavations revealed that only a small part of the ceramics used in the construction of the Roman villa were imported.
- ROYAUME UNI – Assynt - An archaeological dig in Assynt has revealed a level of sophistication of neolithic stone masonry rarely seen in Scotland for that period. The dig of a 6000-year-old chambered cairn at Loch Borralan, near Ledmore, has unearthed huge stones showing clear signs of how they were quarried and dressed, as well as the tools used for working them. Gordon Sleight, projects leader for Historic Assynt, the community organisation running the archaeology project, say: "This neolithic chambered cairn is revealing that the people who lived in Assynt 6000 years ago were expert stone masons. They also probably had better weather than we do!" John Barber, the lead archaeologist at the dig, added: "We have found evidence for stone quarrying and dressing of the faces of the large syenite boulders in the chambers. This is rare in Scotland. "We have also recovered a number of pieces of quartzite used as quarrying and stone working tools. We can now see that the chamber was built directly onto the bedrock after its surface had been pounded relatively flat."
- USA – Lac Victoria - One could almost glimpse ancient bison rising to their feet, scraping their hooves across the dirt and rotating their mighty heads toward the sky, while their tails flickered rat-a-tat through the dust. Alexandria fishing guide Roger Van Surksum and divers Wayne Wagner and Wesley Torgrimson recovered the bones from Lake Victoria’s depths this summer after Van Surksum hooked and reeled in a bone while fishing June 14. On Friday, they hoped to gain insight that might shed light on the lives of the great creatures found at the bottom of the lake. The bones, about 275 in all, were carefully displayed across the concrete driveway, gleaming in the bright sun. They were grouped according to skeletal anatomy – mandibles in one section, scapulas in another, metacarpals, vertebrae, ribs, atlases, axises and more. As Minnesota Historical Society National Register Archeologist David Mather studied the bones, a cautious look of intrigue passed over his face. Mather explained that Minnesota had several bison finds throughout the state. Many had been preserved in peat bogs.He examined the bones for visible cut marks or breaks that might have been made by humans while butchering the animals for food and resources. Parallel lines would likely represent marks made by the gnawing of rodents, Mather explained. “Getting dates from these bones might be kind of tricky,” Mather said. “Lake water kind of changes the equation of how that is done.” Radiocarbon dating would bring more information about the age of the bones, but the results could be skewed by as many as 500 to 600 years. Bison was a staple food for many prehistoric people. They used other parts of the animals as well, using their hides for warmth, clothing and shelter and their bones as tools or weapons.“Most of it is going to rot before you are going to eat it,” Mather said and noted the methods employed to dry it. “Probably the whole village or extended family would be trying to work with it before it went bad.” Native inhabitants often split bison bones to scoop out nourishing marrow. Mather cradled a bone in his hands that had been crushed in its center. “This bone was broken when it was fresh,” he said. “The most likely reason was that it was smashed open…It couldn’t break open like that.” The group grew quiet and waited, awed by the enormity of the information. “I think, from this alone, that it is an archeological site,” he said. “That’s pretty cool.” Mather showed the spiral fracture of the bone, indicative of possible human activity. The large quantity of bones were the remains of a Native American kill site, Mather believed, where people had killed and processed the bison for food, tools and weaponry.No skulls were found at the dive site either. Bison brains were used to tan hides. Mather explained a kill site generally would not contain human artifacts. “The bones, themselves, are the artifacts,” he said. He said the people could have lived on top of the hill. The hill may have been a prairie at that time. “One thing that is interesting is that there are not that many kill sites in Minnesota,” he said.
- USA – Old Cahawba - Alabama's first capital, Old Cahawba, is now an abandoned town draped in Spanish moss, history and ghost stories. Members of The Cahaba Foundation on Tuesday donated 27 acres to the Alabama Historical Commission to help preserve the site, and they are trying to purchase the remaining acres of what was the state's first capital. "It's an absolutely magical place," said site director and archeologist Linda Derry. The site -- which had also been the location of Native American settlements for thousands of years -- is archeologically rich, Derry said."Unlike most archeological sites, there are lots of rooms and columns and chimneys all dripping in Spanish moss -- very mysterious. There are plenty of ghost stories associated with the place," Derry said. Cahawba was the epitome of the antebellum South, and the town experienced a meteoric rise to power and then a similarly quick descent into oblivion, Derry said. Built at the confluence of the Cahaba and Alabama rivers, the town was at the center of wealth in an economy built upon cotton and slavery. Alabama became a state in 1819, and Cahawba served as the seat of government from 1820 until the capital was moved to Tuscaloosa in 1826. Cahawba -- which dropped the "w" from its name sometime in the 1850s -- had 3,000 residents at its prime, but was slowly abandoned in favor of neighboring Selma with an 1865 flood contributing to the exodus. By 1870, fewer than 500 people remained. Only a few buildings remain in Cahawba -- a raised cottage, slave quarters and the columns of a former mansion. Recently, an 1854 church and a small cottage, both original to the site, were moved back, Derry said.
- USA – Noatak - Sure, archaeologists in Northwest Alaska's Noatak National Preserve expected to find plenty of rocks, everything from mundane pebbles to petroglyph-adorned boulders. But now researchers from University of Alaska Museum of the North aren't sure what they really have after unearthing four decorated clay disks. Searching three prehistoric lakefront dwellings, archaeologist Scott Shirar says the first disk didn't look like much more than a stone with scratches. It was the second one “with the drilled hole and the more complicated etchings” that got his research team enthralled. And as archaeological digs go, the electrifying atmosphere only picked up at Feniak Lake with the discovering of disks three and four. Having found four similar disks in a relatively small area, Shirar thinks the team has stumbled into the early stages of new discoveries at the site. Researchers don't know, but say that given the house features and other information already found, they think whatever they have—and continue looking for more of—comes from the late prehistoric era or the past thousand years. “These objects and places clearly had special significance to their makers,” Shirar says. “These finds offer an especially tangible reminder of the rich spiritual and intellectual lives they led.”