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WINTER TERM : JANUARY 2020
TUNISIE – Djerba - A magnetometer survey in Djerba, an island off the coast of Tunisia, has mapped the site of the ancient commercial center of Meninx . The city was founded in the fourth century B.C., and became a trade power between the first and third centuries A.D. Archaeologist Stefan Ritter and his colleagues investigated the city’s well-protected port, which had a wide, deep channel in its shallow bay, wooden and stone quays, and warehouses for storing goods. The survey also revealed that the city’s streets ran parallel to the island’s coastline. Ritter said he and his colleagues carried out some excavations, and uncovered a private bathhouse with mosaic floors, wall paintings, and statuary. New evidence suggests that the purple dye produced by the city’s residents from the sea snail Murex trunculus was not exported as a raw material, but rather used at Meninx to dye textiles for export.
MEXIQUE – Mexicapan - Researchers from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History uncovered the foundations of a dwelling and parts of other structures dated to between A.D. 1350 and 1519 in what was the settlement of Mexicapan. Archaeologist Nancy Domínguez Rosas said the house measured about 20 feet wide by 26 feet long, and is the largest structure uncovered so far in Mexico City’s ancient neighborhood of Azcapotzalco, which was conquered in 1428 by the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan and divided into the city states of Mexicapan and Tepanecapan. The house and the other residential structures in the area were made from high-quality materials and may have housed the elite of Mexicapan society, Domínguez added. Stone and bone artifacts, burials, and traces of floating gardens were also unearthed
ITALIE – Grotta dei Moscerini - Led by Paola Villa, an adjoint curator at the University’s Museum of Natural History, the scientists analyzed dozens of shells found at the Grotta dei Moscerini, a beachside cave in the Italian region of Latium. Archaeologists have known for years that the seashells were made into tools about 90,000 years ago. The new research, which is published in the journal Plos One, reveals that Neanderthals didn’t just wander beaches looking for the shells, they also went diving for them. “The fact they were exploiting marine resources was something that was known,” Villa said in the statement. “But until recently, no one really paid much attention to it.” The vital clue was that three-quarters of the shell tools had opaque and slightly roughened exteriors, as if they had been sanded down over a period of time. This is consistent with shells that had washed up on a beach, Villa said. The remaining shell tools, however, are shiny and smooth on their exterior and were likely to have been taken from the seabed as live animals. “It’s quite possible that the Neanderthals were collecting shells as far down as 2 to 4 meters [6.6 feet to 13.1 feet],” Villa said in the statement. “Of course, they did not have scuba equipment.” Seashells were particularly useful to Neanderthals because they could be chipped with stone hammers into thin and sharp cutting edges. Pumice stones from volcanic eruptions were also discovered in the Grotta dei Moscerini. The stones, which were also used as tools, likely washed up following a volcanic eruption 40 miles south of the cave.
IRAN – Kaldar cave - “The Sorbonne University of France has concluded the fragment of a skull, which was found in the historic Kaldar cave near Khorramabad, [the capital of western Lorestan province], is associated with the Homo sapiens through conducting laser 3D scans,” CHTN quoted provincial tourism chief as saying on Thursday. “Preliminary results of this typology analysis that is being carried out at Copenhagen University in Denmark by the means of physical anatomy, scan results and their interpretation show that fortunately, the fossil belongs to the Homo sapiens (modern, intelligent) species,” Seyyed Amin Qasemi explained. Kaldar is a key archaeological site that provides evidence of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in Iran. The cave is situated in the western Khorramabad valley and at an elevation of 1,290 meters above sea level. It measures 16 meters long, 17 meters wide and seven meters high. Excavations at the site in 2014–2015 led to the discovery of cultural remains generally associated with anatomically modern humans (AMHs) and evidence of a probable Neanderthal-made industry in the basal layers. The research also offers an opportunity to study the technological differences between the Mousterian and the first Upper Paleolithic lithic technologies as well as the human behavior in the region. The cave has also yielded weapon fragments crafted by Neanderthals. The findings, some of which date from 21,000 to 40,000 years ago, were unveiled during a special ceremony on Saturday in May 2019. Kaldar is a key archaeological site that provides evidence of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in Iran. In taxonomy, Homo sapiens is the only extant human species. The name is Latin for “wise man” and was introduced in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus (who is himself also the type specimen). Neanderthals are an extinct species or subspecies of archaic humans in the genus Homo, who lived within Eurasia from circa 400,000 until 40,000 years ago.