25 FEVRIER 2011


 - 25  FEVRIER

 - QATAR –   Zubarah - A key feature of the ongoing archaeological excavations at Qatar’s historic sites, including Al Zubarah and Furayhah, are the numerous examples of date presses (madebes), used to produce date-syrup. “This syrup (dabs) was a basic staple of the traditional Gulf diet,” archaeologists Dr Tobias Richter, Paul Wordsworth and Alan Walmsley from University of Copenhagen’s department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies have said in a paper. The trio are part of a team that has undertaken Qatar Islamic Archaeology and Heritage (QIAH) project, an initiative of Qatar Museums Authority. “Given its highly nutritious value, the date-syrup was probably also used as an easily storable high-energy food supply for the trading and pearling fleet, and it may have even been an export item,” it is explained in the paper to be presented at the upcoming 2011 Seminar of Arabian Studies in London.

A date-press (bottom left) is seen at the Zubarah excavation site. PICTURE: Bonnie James 

 The channels of the date presses were first covered in palm tree leaves and sacks of dates were stacked up on top. Their weight squeezed out the date juice which was collected in the channels and diverted into an underground storage jar.


 - ROYAUME-UNI   Guernesey - Two 400-year-old skeletons were uncovered during restoration work on St Tugual's Chapel in Herm. The discovery was made while a soak away was being dug to collect run off rainwater on the Manor House lawn, to the south of the chapel. The skeletons of an adult and a child have been estimated to be between 400 and 500 years old. They were removed for examination  and experts are expected to excavate three further part skeletons. Andrew Bailey, the island's finance director, said: "It was a bit of a surprise. "It's not every day you dig up your back lawn and find a few remains in there. As to the possible identities of the skeletons he said: "At that time it was largely the preserve of monastic orders so monks and farmers were around at that point." Tanya Walls, secretary of the Archaeology Section of La Societe Guernesiaise, said: "Clearly this is a cemetery with several burials and the bones are well preserved. "We don't think they're very, very old as in medieval but perhaps in the latter part of the medieval period maybe 400, 500 years ago.


 - CHINE – Hami - Chinese archeologists have discovered an ancient mass burial site in the country's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which they say dates back to 3,000 years ago. According to the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology, the burial site spans an area of more than 10,000 square meters and is located 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Hami City. The first of its kind ever found in the region, the bodies are densely distributed and buried along with various types of objects made of clay, wood, stone, bone, horn, bronze and iron. The site also includes a tomb with a sacrificial altar, which archeologists say is the first of its kind found in the Xinjiang region. According to director of Hami's Cultural Relics Bureau, archaeologists have already excavated more than 150 ancient tombs in the last two months. The team has also found precious cultural relics, some materials never discovered before, as well as objects related to special construction styles and some unique burial customs. Archaeological studies show that the site, located at the southern margin of ancient Silk Road, might have belonged to an early Iron Age settlement dating back about 3,000 years ago. The objects found at the site also suggest that the ecological environment, like the amount of water and plants, was much more favorable at the time when the settlement was still populated.


 - ROYAUME-UNI  - Oakington -  New archaeological digs are to take place at the site of an Anglo-Saxon burial ground in Oakington. The village sits on the site of a sixth-century settlement described as “one of the most significant archaeological sites you could have”. Two digs will take place later this year. Archaeology students, led by Dr Duncan Sayer (University of Central Lancaster), will undertake a two-day excavation on April 12 and 13. The team will add several test pits to the network of 39 dug around the village since 2008, mostly in the gardens of people living to the north of the church.Dr Sayer said: “We are trying to establish where the origin of the village was, the earliest Saxon settlement and how it developed and spread across what is modern Oakington today.” A month-long dig will then take place during June and July on Oakington recreation ground, which Dr Sayer hopes could lead to the discovery of graves from the early medieval settlement. The replacement of Oakington playground’s concrete base with woodchips in 1994 led to the discovery of 26 skeletons on the sixth century burial ground. One grisly discovery was the body of a small child at the foot of the slide. Excavation work had to be done in 2007 before building of the new sports pavilion and all-weather sports pitch could start, leading to the discovery of a further 17 graves, mostly women and children, as well as a multitude of artefacts, including brooches, beads, buckles and knives.