22/01/2020 NEWS





ESPAGNE – Elda Elda - Archaeological experts from the University of Alicante in Spain have recently identified the first Byzantine monastery ever found on the Iberian peninsula. The painstaking research at Elda lasted almost 25 years due to the difficulties of identifying the architectural remains. Many different clues had been found during this time, but nothing had proven conclusive. But now, the results of the latest research have proven that what had been thought to be a Roman or Visigoth site on the highest part of a hill on the outskirts of Elda, was in fact a Byzantine basilica, the first ever built in Spain — and it functioned as an important center for fiscal administration in those times. Now, in addition to the set of coins with descriptions in Greek, in the last excavations, directed by Antonio Manuel Poveda, a large octagonal column base has also been found, which is typical of Byzantine architecture and unique to date throughout the Peninsula. A pyxide, or cylindrical ivory box, decorated with a scene of Hercules capturing the Cerinea deer was also found at the Elda site. Pyxides were common objects throughout the Greek world and often contained small objects. This seems to be indicative of an attempt by the Byzantines to fuse their Greco-Eastern ancestry with Western Christianity. The convent church occupied an area of about 84 square meters (904 square feet) in this hilltop religious center. Various metal items from Byzantine-era liturgical rituals have now also been found and identified, including a tiny knife (lancia), used in the preparation of the sacred bread before Communion, as well as a teaspoon (cochlear), which is still used in the Communion rite today throughout Orthodoxy.


AUSTRALIE - Eovxl5iueaatxfh Budj Bim - The aquatic system at Budj Bim has long been known to archaeologists, and was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List last July. Constructed by the Gunditjmara people more than 6,600 years ago, it is believed to be older than Egypt's pyramids. The Budj Bim lava flows provided the basis for the complex system of channels and dams developed by the Gunditjmara in order to trap, store and harvest kooyang (short-finned eel – Anguilla australis) from Lake Condah. The fires, that started back in December and were brought under control only recently, ripped through the state, burning away the thick vegetation in the area to lay bare the remarkable discovery: new structures were now distinctly seen in the burnt landscape, resembling channels and ponds. This aquaculture system provided an economic and social base for Gunditjmara society for six millennia, believe scientists. Initially with a population believed to be in the thousands, the Gunditjmara was one of several indigenous groups of people that used to reside in the southern parts of the present-day Victoria state before the European settlement.


ITALIE – Extra large 1579698460 cover image Roccamonfina - Just over 80 kilometers (50 miles) away from the infamous Mount Vesuvius lies the Roccamonfina volcano; once active, now extinct. For centuries local people had questioned the humanoid footprints down the volcano’s edge, assuming only the Devil could walk on the flowing lava unharmed.  Since archaeologists discovered the site in 2001, traditionally known as the Ciampate del Diavolo (Devil’s Footprints or Devil’s Trails), several tracks of our ancestors, and other mammals, have been identified, dated to between 385,000 and 325,000 years ago. Until now, all the tracks were understandably directed downhill, but several of these new prints indicate one individual was traveling uphill. Published in the Journal of Quaternary Science, the discovery of 14 new footprints by the Italian-based team brings the total to 81, produced from at least five different trackmakers. The spacing between the prints also suggests that the trackmakers did not run, but instead moved at a relaxed walking pace. This indicates that enough time had elapsed following the pyroclastic flow for the ground to be cool enough to walk on.  Further analysis of the footprints has also enabled the team to tentatively suggest the origins of the tracks. The size, shape, and arch of the foot appear to match that of the hominin foot from the Sima de los Huesos, or “pit of bones”, site in Spain. DNA sequencing of these bones found them to belong to Neanderthals. Therefore, the footprints at Roccamonfina are also thought to be from Neanderthals, but the official species status is still pending. Alongside the footprints, the team also found two stone artifacts. Both obtained from the same basalt material, markings on their surface suggest that they were used as tools. The evidence gathered by the team, such as uphill tracks, a leisurely pace of walking, and the existence of stone tools, has led them to suggest that the well-studied site may not have just been a transit area for ancient hominins. It seems the side of the Roccamonfina volcano might have been home to at least some form of temporary home environment too.


ISRAEL – Samaria Samaria - In 1910, American archaeologist George Andrew Reisner was conducting an excavation in ancient Samaria, the first capital of biblical Israel, which back then was part of the Ottoman Empire as the rest of the region. In the heart of the land where many of the events described by the Bible took place, Reisner made an extraordinary discovery: over 100 fragments of pottery carrying ink-on-clay biblical Hebrew inscriptions. Now, 110 years later, new research by Tel Aviv University has shown that only two authors are behind 31 of the renowned “Samaria ostraca,” shedding new light on the life of ancient Israelites. The landmark inscriptions list shipments of items such as oil and wine to Samaria over the course of at least seven years, providing a glimpse into the logistical infrastructure of the kingdom. Moreover, names of peoples, clans and villages are provided along with the year of a given monarchy when the shipment took place, According to the TAU statement, the ostraca are considered to date back to the first half of the eighth century BCE, possibly during the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel, whose kingdom is described in the biblical book of 2 Kings.