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WINTER TERM : JANUARY 2017
EGYPTE – Qubbet Al-Hawa - During excavation work carried out below the visitors’ pathway in the northern part of the west Aswan cemetery, at Qubbet Al-Hawa site, archaeologists from the University of Birmingham and the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) Qubbet Al-Hawa Research Project (QHRP), stumbled upon what is believed to be an ancient Egyptian encroachment wall. Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities Mahmoud Afify told Ahram Online that the wall is two-metres high and is part of the architectural support of the known tombs of the first upper terrace, including those of Harkhuf and Heqaib who were governors of Elephantine Island during the Old Kingdom. Given the landscape of Qubbet Al-Hawa, he explained, the support wall helped to secure the hillside and thus lower lying tombs that were accessible by a causeway leading to a second terrace. Eman Khalifa, director of the pottery project within QHRP, said that early studies on the discovered pottery shreds embedded within the mortar used to build the wall show the exact dating of the wall. The studies, she continued, reveal that the crushed pieces include parts of carinated bowls executed in style typical of the reign of King Pepi II from the Sixth Dynasty (c 2278-2184 BC), together with pieces of Marl Clay jars typical of the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom. “Thus indicating the expansion of the cemetery during the latter part of both periods,” Khalifa pointed out.
GRECE – Lechaion - Archaeologists from the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen have discovered more impressive finds in Lechaion, Corinth. After extensive searches, archaeologists have discovered a large channel and several internal channels connecting at least four basins of the harbor. Bjorn Loven, one of the project managers, commented on the excavations, “The topographic and geophysical surveys of this era made it possible for us to determine the channel zone. In the process we discovered that the channel almost reached 30 meters in width between the 4th and 3rd century BC, but over the centuries it became more narrow. The exact reason for this has not been discovered.”“Mission members worked closely for 35 days,” Loven continued. “This time they discovered stone foundations, perhaps a tower that protected the entrance. Near that point they discovered two fragments of columns, the purpose of which remains unknown. However, similar parts have been discovered in excavated Roman ports. We hope that we will discover other organic materials, such as wooden tools, furniture, wooden parts of buildings and shipwrecks.”
IRLANDE – Newgrange - Trapping the winter solstice sun at Newgrange in Co Meath is not a 5,000-year-old phenomenon, but a 50-year-old “construct”, according to a former State archaeologist. Our Stone Age ancestors were not as clever as we thought, and the significance of Newgrange as a “Hiberno-Roman” cult site in the late Iron Age has been deliberately underplayed, Michael Gibbons, co-author of a paper on the subject, argues. Newgrange’s alignment, which captures the rising sun during the winter solstice period around December 21st, has made it one of the world’s best known megalithic tombs. If skies are clear during sunrises from December 19th to 23rd, a narrow beam of light penetrates its “roof-box”, reaches the chamber floor and extends gradually to illuminate the entire chamber over 1 7-minute period – marking new life at the turn of the year. However, in an article published in archaeological journal Emania, Mr Gibbons and his nephew Myles take issue with the excavation and reconstruction work carried out on the passage tomb half a century ago by the late Prof Michael O’Kelly, including the famous “roof box” for trapping the sunlight – said to be 5,000 years old. It takes issue with Prof O’Kelly’s contention that the tomb was largely unaltered from the Neolithic period, and says that Iron Age activities may have included construction of an enclosure or “barrow” on the summit and alterations to the mound’s profile. Mr Gibbons says the “roof box” which was central to capturing the winter light has “not a shred of authenticity”, and was “fabricated” during reconstruction in the 1960s.
INDE – Binjor - Archeologists have come across signs of industrial activity going back at least 4500 years at a Harappan site in Binjor village of Rajasthan. Excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India and its academic wing the Institute of Archeology in New Delhi unearthed hearths, furnaces, beads, gold, charcoal, bones etc, around the 150m to 200m site. It also uncovered house complexes and traces of industrial activities - copper artefact-making site, a craftsman’s house and hearths. The site, called 4MSR, is thought to be from the late Harappan period. The Ghaggar-Hakra River system is thought to have been spread over Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat, and the Cholistan region in Pakistan.“In past two seasons, we have noticed that there are more than 100 hearths inBinjor,” Manjul said. “Industry has been reported in various other sites but not of this scale. Several hearths have been discovered at Kalibangan, a metro city having lower, middle town, but Binjor is a much smaller village site. This is the only site having the entire industrial settlement - here we see a small settlement having lot of furnaces and hearth, which means there were craftsmen residing, maybe this was an entire village of craftsmen. In comparison to the metros found, this small industrial settlement is unique,” he said. He said the excavation has been conducted to primarily understand the transition between two periods – Early (3000-2600 BCE) and Mature Harappan Periods (2600-1900 BCE). Earlier, excavations were conducted on Harappan sites in the Ghaggar River Valley – like Kalibangan, Binjor 1, Rakhigarhi and Baror. “ One can find the signs of gradual transition from Early to Mature Harappan period through the ceramic assemblage – There are Mature Harappan elements like black and red ware, plain red ware, perforated jars, pots and plates, globular pots and dish-on-stand with prevalence of the Early traditions like Hakra, Kot Dijian and Sothi elements,” Munjal said. “We conducted the excavation with multi-disciplinary approach - This time we have tried to understand the transition between Early Harappan to Mature Harappan Period – and to look into the settlement pattern particularly. There is plethora of cultural mixing available here. We wanted to know the holistic view of the entire area,” he added.