24 FEVRIER 2023 NEWS
INSTITUT SUPERIEUR D'ANTHROPOLOGIE
INSTITUTE OF ANTHROPOLOGY
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DEBUT COURS : AVRIL 2023
ANGLETERRE – Vindolanda - Certainly, the artefact could have been used in a sexual context. However, it could equally have been used as a pestle along with a mortar in food or medicine preparation. If so, perhaps the phallic motif was believed to strengthen the properties of the ingredients. An example of a Roman herm with the head of Mercury. The Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC Alternatively, it could have been slotted into a statue, such as a representation of the gods Priapus or Silvanus, or even just a herm (a sculpture with a head and squared lower section on which genitals may also be carved), either freestanding or mounted on a building, that people approached to touch or rub for good luck. The lack of wear indicates that if it was slotted into a statue, that statue was indoors, not exposed to the Northumbrian elements that the soldiers stationed at Vindolanda frequently complained about in their correspondence. However, that the phallus was discovered in a ditch with dozens of shoes and clothing accessories and waste products such as off cuts of leather and pieces of worked antler, is fascinating. It adds weight to the theory that the phallus could have been a dildo. Ancient artisans such as shoemakers could turn their hands to all manner of things and while many men’s, women’s and children’s shoes have been excavated at Vindolanda, there would have been plenty of time during the long, dark, Northern nights for shoemakers to indulge in side hustles. Just as we today like to equate foot size and penis size, in antiquity connections were frequently made between feet and phalluses. The poet Herodas describes two women named Coritto and Metro discussing Coritto’s newly acquired scarlet leather dildo, with Metro wanting to know where she can get one just like it and Coritto referring her to the local shoemaker, Cerdon. In a subsequent instalment, Herodas describes Metro patronising Cerdon in order to make her dream a reality and Cerdon presenting her with an extensive catalogue of “shoes” to choose from. Perhaps the town outside the Vindolanda fort was home to an equally enterprising shoemaker.
FRANCE – Bouqueval - Dans la commune de Bouqueval, des archéologues français ont sorti de terre une nécropole gauloise datant des IVème et IIIème siècles avant Jésus Christ. Les trois mois de fouilles archéologiques ont permis de sortir de terre par moins de seize tombes avec à l’intérieur des squelettes, quinze incinérations, du mobilier de l’époque gallo-romaine mais aussi des épées, des lances et des bijoux. “C'est un chiffre qui en fait est exceptionnel”, commente Élisabeth Tribouillard, une spécialiste des Gaulois en charge des recherches. Selon elle, cette nécropole gauloise n’était pas ouverte à toutes les familles. “Il montre en tout cas que c'était un cimetière réservé à l'élite puisqu'il n'y a notamment quasi aucun enfant, autrement impossible au vu de la mortalité infantile de l'époque.”Ce n’est pas la première fois que la Plaine de France révèle des trésors. Tout commence dans les années 1970 lorsque des archéologues amateurs entreprennent de fouiller la zone. “À la faveur de l'érosion causée par la grande sécheresse de 1976, ils trouvent en prospectant sur les lieux une jatte ancienne éclatée. Cela entraîne une première fouille à l'hiver 1977, puis une seconde à l'été 1978”, raconte-t-elle. Douze sépultures sont trouvées, ainsi que deux tombes à char, où des corps ont été enterrés sur un char à deux roues.
CHINE – - Six projects were listed as the "2022 New Archaeological Discoveries in China" at an archaeology forum on Wednesday in Beijing. The forum was held by the Institute of Archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Shiyan Xuetangliangzi Paleolithic Site in central China's Hubei Province and Shangyi Sitai Neolithic Ruins in north China's Hebei Province both made the list, as did the Qingyang Nanzuo Neolithic Site in northwest China's Gansu Province. The Royal Tomb area and surrounding relics in the Yin Ruins dating back to the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 B.C.) in Anyang, central China's Henan Province, were also billed among the best new finds of last year, as was the Kunming Hebosuo Bronze Age Site in southwest China's Yunnan Province, and the Helan Suyukou Porcelain Kiln Site in Yinchuan, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.The event invited the leaders responsible for the selected projects to introduce the status of their archaeological excavations. The discoveries span from the Paleolithic Age to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).
MEXIQUE – Mexico - The remains of 28 human bodies that were buried in Mexico at least 400 years ago show how pre-Hispanic and Catholic cultures coexisted before Spanish colonists arrived, according to local researchers. Researchers made the discovery in February while constructing a picturesque pavilion in Mexico City's Chapultepec park when they stumbled upon a cemetery from the early viceregal period, which lasted from 1521 to 1620 AD. What is most surprising, according to Maria de Lourdes Lopez Camacho, head of archaeological salvage and National History Museum, is that the bodies were buried at the same time period even if they were from different populations. "Two burial systems are coexisting, the Christian burial and the burial in dorsal decubitus: the fetal position, on the side, with pre-Hispanic ceramic or obsidian, precisely from this Mexica or Tepaneca period," Lopez Camacho said, referring to the early viceregal period, reports Reuters. She added that it is possible the individuals had died from the same cause. "(The fact that) we have three levels of graves and there are a few centimeters that differentiate one level from another... tells us that there could have been one death or many deaths in a short period of time, which could tell us about an epidemic," Lopez Camacho said. According to the archaeologist, the burials also imply that a pre-Hispanic population in the area may have served as labor for the nearby mills, which were the first industries the Spanish established. The bodies belonged to two distinct groups, according to studies done by Mexico's Directorate of Archaeological Salvage (DSA), and they had illnesses and ailments associated with nutritional deficiencies. There will be more research. The investigation was carried out under the direction of Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
ANGLETERRE – Kent - A 3,000-year-old toddler's shoe from the Bronze Age, dating from between 888 and 781BC, has been discovered in a north Kent riverbed. The rare Bronze Age 15cm leather shoe is thought to be the oldest found in the UK. In today's sizes the shoe would be a size seven and archaeologists think its owner was around two or three years old. Experts at the University of Kent who examined it under a micro-CT scanner, discovered the sole was made up of several layers. The underside of the sole is imprinted with a textile pattern, suggesting it had either been wrapped in or pressed against a piece of material for some time. The next step is to send the leather for DNA testing to see what they can learn about the shoe's original owner. Scientists might even be able to tell whether the toddler was a boy or a girl and what animal the leather came from.
ITALIE – Pompéi - In a warehouse near the ruins of Pompeii sit 15,000 stones of various sizes. These aren’t any stones from that famous destroyed city near Naples; some are adorned with drawings of flowers, animals, faces and whole bodies. The 15,000 stones apparently were parts of frescoes that the eruption scattered in all directions. After painstaking work, archaeologists and other researchers concluded that the challenge was beyond human capabilities. About a decade ago, when Ben-Shahar was teaching a computer to put together large puzzles, the professor got the idea to use the technology in archaeology. His team is developing both the robot and the algorithm that makes it smart. Progress on the project has been demonstrated at the university’s Interdisciplinary Computational Vision Lab. In fact, Ben-Shahar’s idea has led to an international project called RePAIR, or Reconstructing the Past: Artificial Intelligence and Robotics meet Cultural Heritage. Funding was provided by the European Union. The researchers are keen to help historians of the Roman Empire, but the task is daunting. “When you buy a puzzle in a store, you get all the pieces and usually know how the final picture will look because it’s printed on the box. In real life it’s not like that,” Ben-Shahar says. With Pompeii, the end result is unknown, not all the pieces have survived or been found, and many are worn or faded or belong to a different puzzle.During the project’s first stage, the stones are scanned so that a computer can try to figure out where each piece belongs. Of course, the machine can quickly do an enormous number of calculations that no person ever could. In the end, a robot’s arms will be animated by the computer’s instructions.
IRAQ – Lagash - A team of Italian and American archaeologists have discovered at a southern Iraq site what is believed to have been a sort of refrigerator used for keeping food cool and conserving it in ancient Sumeria 5,000 years ago. The discovery of the 'tavern' was made at the site of the capital of one of the most important Mesopotamian city states, ancient Lagash, at present day Tell al-Hiba. Archaeologists from Pisa university and Pennsylvania University have found what they have described as an open-air eating area with benches, an oven, food conservation containers, remains of ancient food and the so-called 'fridge' called a 'zeer', an Arab term describing the 'vase-in-a-vase' technique of preserving food and drink against the heat.The 2,700 BC inn has been found just 50 centimetres from the surface at Tell al-Hiba. "The discovery sheds new light on the study of diet and cooking in Mesopotamia, hitherto largely known and examined via texts, which however do not cover the oldest periods of the Sumerians," said Sara Pizzimenti, a lecturer in archaeology and history of near east art at the university of Pisa. "Inside a public place for the production, distribution and consumption of meals, which probably took place in the large courtyard with benches, around a hundred bowls with food remains have been found together with devices for the conservation of food and drink".
PEROU – Pakaytambo - Archaeologists working in southern Peru have uncovered a 1,200-year-old ritual complex, featuring a D-shaped temple standing on top of a monumental platform. Located at Pakaytambo, around 600km southeast of Lima, it was built by the Wari, a civilisation that controlled much of Peru from AD600 to AD1000, centuries before the rise of the Inca. This research revealed the presence of a monumental platform surmounted by a D-shaped temple, flanked on the slopes below by groups of buildings surrounding large, open spaces, referred to as patio groups by archaeologists. While excavating the patios’ halls and rooms, the team found evidence—including pieces of pottery, mammal bones, and oyster and mussel shells—that temple officials and Wari state representatives used these areas for domestic purposes.“The excavations at the site confirmed the relation to the Wari state with decorated Wari pottery and radiocarbon dates that show it was founded at the apex of the Wari empire,” Reid says. The complex was constructed after AD770 and abandoned by the end of the 10th century, an event marked by feasting and smashed vessels. Today, much of the temple is covered in ash from a volcanic eruption in 1600, according to Reid’s research paper, published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. Reid’s study suggests that Pakaytambo’s complex was a place where local communities gathered to attend Wari-sponsored ritual ceremonies and processions. The site’s plazas and courtyards, lower in the complex than the temple, were large enough to let hundreds of people attend the events. But the crowd couldn’t see what was happening above them, and access to the top of the monumental platform was probably restricted.