20 MAI 2021 NEWS
INSTITUT SUPERIEUR D'ANTHROPOLOGIE
INSTITUTE OF ANTHROPOLOGY
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SPRING TERM : JUNE 2021
GRECE – Thessaloniki - A Gothic warrior, who was buried with his weaponry, was found recently in an early Christian basilica in Thessaloniki. The extraordinary discovery was made by a group of archaeologists who are working on the three-aisled Christian basilica dating back to the 5th century AD near the Syntrivani station of Thessaloniki’s new metro system, which is under construction. What is particularly interesting about this discovery is the fact that this is the first discovery of such a burial not only in Thessaloniki but also in the wider region of Roman Macedonia. The skeleton of the male figure, dating back to the 5th century, was found along which remains of weaponry was also found. According to the official website of the municipality of Thessaloniki, the three-aisled paleochristian basilica was discovered in the west part of the Sintrivani underground station of the city. It was built on the site of an older place of worship from the 4th century AD. This building also housed a mosaic floor, part of which has been uncovered, showing a vine stalk with birds on its branches, including the mythical “Phoenix”. The mosaic was still visible during the initial phase of use of the basilica.
TIBET - Qulong - Archaeologists have unveiled several new discoveries during a recent excavation at the Qulong Site in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, providing key clues to the earliest indigenous culture on the world's highest plateau. The prehistoric Qulong Site is composed of two large-scale ruins of concentrated settlements, covering more than 100,000 square meters. Dating back to the 8th century BC, the Qulong Site, located at 4,400 meters above sea level, features rich remains and cultural relics, including cave residences, courtyards, houses, stone relics, pagodas, grottoes and Buddhist temples. In some tombs dating back 2800 to 2500 years, archaeologists unearthed 98 pieces and 16 types of perforated conch ornaments. It indicates frequent cultural exchanges between the western part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and ancient South Asia.
FRANCE – Saint-Riquier. Méthaniseur - Plusieurs fosses et trous de poteaux suggèrent l’installation d’une occupation au cours de la période protohistorique qu’il n’a pas été possible d’ancrer chronologiquement de façon précise. Il pourrait néanmoins s'agir d'un habitat ouvert et dispersé de La Tène ancienne. Un probable réseau de parcellaire est caractérisé par un ensemble de fossés implanté à La Tène et perdurant jusqu’à l’époque gallo-romaine (fin Ier-IIe s.). Des fossés découverts en bordure de l'emprise du diagnostic pourraient correspondre à l’angle sud-ouest d'un enclos. La présence 'un dépotoir, qui a livré, outre de la faune et des coquillages, de la céramique, du mobilier métallique et un peu de verrerie, laisse supposer la proximité immédiate d’un bâtiment d’habitation. La découverte de deux vases complets ne contenant aucun reste osseux et de la sépulture d'un nourrisson indiquent une fonction funéraire. La céramique permet de dater cette occupation au cours du Haut-Empire (durant le milieu et la seconde moitié du IIe siècle).
FRANCE – Auch - Située en périphérie de l'antique cité d'Auch (Eliumberris-Augusta Ausciorum) et largement méconnue en terme archéologique, la parcelle auscitaine fouillée a livré des informations précieuses. Les équipes de l'Inrap ont en effet mis au jour les fondations de deux bâtiments d’habitation datant du 1er siècle de notre ère : "un vaste bâtiment et un ensemble de constructions dont la fonction reste à déterminer", explique l'Inrap. Le mobilier retrouvé dans ces structures atteste d'une activité domestique mais la présence importante de pesons (poids de métier à tisser antique) laisse à penser également à une activité artisanale. Enfin, la découverte d'un chemin de pierres entre les bâtiments qui pourrait être connecté à un système de rues qui reste à découvrir.
FRANCE – Aubais - Situé à mi-chemin entre Sommières et Lunel, Aubais se déploie sur une colline, autour de son château du 17è siècle. Ce village gardois possède un autre trésor : l'église de Saint-Nazaire, qui se dresse un peu à l'écart du village depuis un bon millénaire. Il y a plus de 20 ans, l'association des Amis de Saint-Nazaire d'Aubais, créée pour la restaurer, a découvert par hasard un immense trésor, en débroussaillant ses alentours : 1500 tombes creusées à même la roche dans un parfait état de conservation, avec leurs occupants à l'intérieur ! C'est un immense cimetière, vieux de plus d'un millénaire, qui a été découvert. Il recèle de précieux vestiges du Haut Moyen Age. L'église et son cimetière ont été construits entre 700 et 750 et utilisés pendant 250 ans. Au cours de ces deux siècles et demi, seules deux personnes ont eu le privilège d’être inhumées à l'intérieur de l’église. À l’extérieur, le nombre de tombes est estimé à environ 1500. Seule une cinquantaine a pu être fouillée. Elles ne contiennent aucun mobilier funéraire ni attribut vestimentaire. Toutes ont été creusées dans le rocher et épousent la forme du corps du défunt avec une encoche pour la tête. Les gens qui ont été enterrés là étaient des paysans pour la plupart. Leur vie était rude : à l'époque, un enfant sur 2 mourrait avant d'avoir atteint l'âge de 10 ans, voilà pourquoi la moitié des tombes sont toutes petites. Le cimetière a été abandonné pour une raison inconnue autour de l'an 1000. La chapelle, c'est une autre histoire. Du premier édifice carolingien bâti au VIIIe siècle, il ne reste rien de visible. L'église romane, construite au dessus des fortifications du XIIIe siècle, a été modifiée plusieurs fois au fil des siècles.
USA – St. Mary's City - An almost 400-year-old silver coin found in a field in Maryland suggests that the remains of a nearby fort are all that's left of one of the earliest English colonial settlements in the Americas, archaeologists said. The coin is a silver shilling — worth the equivalent of maybe $8 in the 17th century — that portrays a likeness of the English king Charles I. Research shows it must have been minted in London in about 1633 — more than a decade before Charles was executed by his Parliamentarian enemies in 1649, during the English Civil War. The coin indicates the underground remains of the structure where it was found are from the very first colonial fort built in 1634. Over the last three years, archaeologists have unearthed several artifacts — such as fragments of distinctive stoneware called "Rhenish" pottery from France and Germany, ceramics from Surrey in England and lead shot for muskets — that show the site was inhabited by early European colonists. But the silver shilling finally verifies the age of the site and the fort. St. Mary's City, near the southern tip of Maryland and about 70 miles (112 kilometers) south of Baltimore, was established by English colonists in 1633. It was one of the earliest colonial settlements established in New England, after Jamestown in 1607, Plymouth in 1620 and Massachusetts Bay in 1630. Archaeologists have searched since the 1980s for the site of the original colonial fort at St. Mary's City, and a few years ago a geophysical survey indicated a large palisaded structure had once been built at Mill Field near the southern edge of the modern town. But it also revealed the structure had a rectangular palisade with a single corner "bastion" — an outwork of a fort that allowed defenders to fire on anyone attacking the walls — and not a square palisade with a bastion at each of its corners, which was a written description of the fort from the time.
TURQUIE – Ephese - According to a statement released by Johannes Gutenberg University, researchers led by Cees Passchier employed software usually used for 3-D modeling geological formations to examine pieces of marble recovered from a second-century A.D. villa in Turkey’s ancient city of Ephesus. The thin sheets of green-veined cipollino verde quarried on the Greek island of Euboea were used as cladding to decorate the walls of a room in the villa. Saw marks on the marble indicate that the slabs had been cut in a water-powered sawmill. Analysis of these marks and the veining in the marble suggest that 42 slabs, each measuring about three-fifths of an inch thick, were cut from a single block weighing three to four tons. The slabs were then hung side by side in book-matched pairs in the order in which they had been cut to produce a symmetrical pattern, Passchier explained. A digital reconstruction of the process suggests that only about three-tenths of an inch of material was lost with the cutting of each slab. An interruption in the pattern indicates that two of these slabs were not hung, however, perhaps because they had been broken during polishing or transportation. This is still only a five percent loss, Passchier said. The block was probably transported intact from Greece and cut at Ephesus, he added.
ITALIE – Herculaneum - The skeleton of a soldier found on a beach at Herculaneum, an ancient town that was buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, may be that of a rescue-party member sent by Roman naturalist and military officer Pliny the Elder to help evacuate people, a researcher has suggested based on a recent analysis. However, scholars who were not affiliated with the research had mixed reactions, with some supportive of the idea and others very skeptical. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, it buried Pompeii, Herculaneum and other nearby settlements, killing thousands of people but preserving many of the bodies. Among the dead was Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79), who was leading a naval rescue mission to save people from the destruction. Pliny's nephew, Pliny the Younger (A.D. 61-113), wrote a letter to the Roman historian Tacitus (A.D. 56-120) discussing the rescue mission. Copies of that letter survive to the present day and are often used by historians studying the eruption. Archaeologists discovered the skeleton of the soldier, positioned with its face down, on a beach in Herculaneum in 1982, , said Francesco Sirano, an archaeologist at the Archaeological Park of Ercolano in Italy who leads a research team at Herculaneum. Recently, Sirano and his team used X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), a technique that can determine the chemical composition of an object, to examine the remains of the soldier's armor.The tests showed that part of the soldier's armor was decorated with precious metals such as silver and gold. That finding suggests he was of a high rank, which is unusual because historical records don't indicate that Herculaneum had a large military force. Sirano also re-examined the artifacts originally found with the soldier and found that he was carrying a bag of carpentry tools, which would have been used frequently on a Roman ship. The man was also found with 12 denarii, or silver coins, and two gold coins — an amount that would have equated to a month's salary for a member of the Praetorian Guard, a special unit whose tasks included guarding Rome and the emperor, Sirano said. The fact that he had elaborate armor and an amount of money equal to a month's worth of Praetorian Guard pay suggests that the soldier may have been a member of the unit but researchers cannot be certain. The skeleton was located near the remains of a boat that may have been used by the Roman military. In addition, the skeleton, and others found near it, were positioned in such a way that the people seem to have died while heading toward the town rather than fleeing it. Given these findings, Sirano believes the man was likely part of the rescue force, possibly a senior officer.