21 JANVIER 2015 NEWS: Herculaneum - Tilaurakot - Stratford upon Avon - Sporades -
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ITALIE – Herculaneum - Pompeii wasn’t the only Roman town destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 C.E. The blast of hot air and rain of volcanic ash also reached nearby Herculaneum (pictured above), where it entombed a library of papyrus scrolls. Unfortunately, it also transformed them from pliable parchment into little more than blackened, carbonized lumps. Archaeologists have tried several techniques to unroll the scrolls since the library was discovered in the 1750s, but they always ran the risk of destroying them in the process. Now, a new technique using high-energy x-rays offers a nondestructive way of reading these ancient texts. By placing a rolled up scroll in the path of a beam of powerful x-rays produced by a particle accelerator, researchers can measure a key difference between the burned papyrus and the ink on its surface: how fast the x-rays move through each substance. That allows them to differentiate between the scroll and the writing on it and, slowly but surely, reconstruct the text. Although they’ve managed to read only a few complete words so far, the researchers have reconstructed a nearly complete Greek alphabet from the letters inscribed on a still-rolled-up scroll, they report today in Nature Communications. The handwriting style is characteristic of texts written in the middle of the first century B.C.E.; in fact, it looks a lot like the handwriting on a previously unrolled scroll attributed to the philosopher Philodemus, the team says. More studies with even higher energy x-rays are needed to reconstruct the whole text on this and other scrolls, but the technique offers the possibility of reading works that haven’t been seen for nearly 2000 years.
NEPAL - Tilaurakot- A team of archaeologists has found around 300 ancient silver coins from Tilaurakot, the Shakya Capital city where Siddhartha Gautam spent 29 years of his princely life before he became the Buddha.The excavation teamrecovered the “punch mark” coins believed to have been used during 800-200 BC.After digging about 1 metre under the surface of soil, the team discovered the coins on Sunday in earthen pots. By Monday evening, the team was able to collect 230 silver coins and their counting is ongoing, said Ram Bahadur Kunwar, an archeologist with the DoA. According to him, the earthen pots containing the coins are of 50 cm in height and 15 cm in diametre.Last year, while conducting a geo-physical survey of the area, the team had discovered the remains of an ancient Bihar, a religious and historical site related to Buddhism in the same area where the silver coins were found on Sunday . “We had decided to conduct further excavation early this year,” said Acharya, an archaeologist and consultant for Unesco. . “We now can see the remains of the Bihar to south and the signs of a large pond to the northern side of the excavation site.”
ROYAUME UNI- Stratford upon Avon - New Place, the home of William Shakespeare’s family which is believed to have been his final living place, is about to be dug up by archaeologists in a move experts in Stratford-upon-Avon are describing as a key part of preparations for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, in 2016. Grounds to the front of the plot, explored by Halliwell Philips during the 19th century, suggested an inner family household once stood behind the gatehouse building and service range. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has now won planning consent to excavate the living quarters in an investigation which will begin on Wednesday.
GRECE – Sporades -The Central Archaeological Council has approved a survey for the enhancement of four shipwrecks in visitable underwater archaeological sites of the Sporades Archipelago and the western Pagasetic Gulf. As pointed out by the Council, the survey conducted by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities is part of a bigger development plan concerning the underwater cultural wealth and the diving tourism, which is being promoted by the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the periphery of Thessaly.According to the survey results, the following underwater archaeological sites are declared visitable: a) the shipwreck of the Peristera island (Alonnisos), dating back to the 5th c. BC and consisting of an accumulation of amphorae in two successive layers, 25m in length and 12m in width, b) the Byzantine shipwreck of the Kikynthos island, looted in the past, with just a few samples of pottery dated between the 9th and 13th c. AD, c) the shipwreck of the Akra Glaros site, also Byzantine, where the in situ anchors suggest the possible existence of another shipwreck in the area, and d) the shipwreck at the Telegraphos site, dating to the mid-4th c. AD, which due to the steep incline of the seabed is dispersed over a wide area.