26 - 27 FEVRIER 2011


 - 26 - 27 FEVRIER

 - TURQUIE - Seyitömer Tumulus - Artifacts unearthed during excavations at a 5,000-year-old burial mound in the Aegean province of Kütahya are on display at an archaeology museum that opened last week at Dumlupınar University. Excavations will continue in an effort to unearth coal under the mound - The Seyitömer Tumulus has a history of 5,000 years. The tumulus has residential units dating back to the Bronze Age, Phrygians and Romans. Excavations started at the tumulus in 1989 by the Eskişehir Museum Directorate to unearth 12 million tons of coal under it. The excavations were carried out by the Afyonkarahisar Museum Directorate from 1990 to 1995 and handed over by DPU Archaeology Department in 2006 under the leadership of Bilgen. As well as academics and students, workers are working for the excavations that continue every year between May and November. Burned human brains, cloth pieces, lentil seeds, traces of a strong earthquake, and tools used in the daily life like plates made of earth, metal and bone and cutters have been unearthed during the excavations. It is estimated that the tumulus is some 5,000 year old.


 - ROYAUME-UNI -  Marden Henge - The remains of a 4,500-year-old sauna have been discovered by archaeologists excavating a Stone Age temple. They unearthed the foundations of the building at Marden Henge, near Devizes in Wiltshire. Located close to the River Avon, the neolithic ‘sauna’ was in a key position overlooking a ceremonial area at the site. English Heritage’s Jim Leary said: ‘The building brings to mind the sweat lodges of the native North Americans and the reason for that sauna or sweat lodge interpretation is that the floor plan was utterly dominated by a large hearth – so large in fact there does not appear to be any space for living, cooking or doing anything much at all.‘It is also located very close to the River Avon and would have had a ready source of water, which is a necessary criteria for a sweat lodge.‘If it was a sweat lodge then perhaps one could envisage it being used for purification ceremonies within the henge.‘Unfortunately we’ll never know exactly what it was for – that’s the nature of archaeology.’ Marden Henge, which has no standing stones, is located on a line which connects stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury but remains a mystery for archaeologists. Some believe the huge Stonehenge megaliths were stored there after being dragged from Avebury. Mr Leary said: ‘The relationship between the three monuments is interesting. They are broadly contemporary and one wonders what the interaction between them must have been – were they competing with one another or were they used by the same communities but for different occasions and ceremonies? ‘We don’t know the answer yet but hopefully further work at Marden and at the other sites may help elucidate this. Marden, situated between the two, may well hold the key.’


 - PANAMA – Chagres River - In the shallow waters surrounding Lajas Reef at the mouth of the Chagres River in Panama, a team of archaeologists has recovered cannons from the site where infamous privateer Captain Henry Morgan's ships wrecked in 1671 while carrying Morgan and his men to raid Panama City. Since 2008, an underwater archaeology team led by archaeologists James Delgado, Frederick Hanselmann, and Dominique Rissolo has surveyed, mapped, and documented submerged sites, shipwrecks, and the 500-years of maritime history that rests along the banks of the Rio Chagres.  In a press conference in Panama City on February 24, 2011, the team announced the recovery of the cannons from a shallow reef damaged by treasure hunters, whose blasting and dredging had exposed the fragile iron cannons to possible damage and loss.  This led to the decision to recover the cannons.  The cannons were measured and photographed in 2008 and studied by Dr. Ruth Brown, formerly with the Royal Armouries in the UK and an internationally renowned early cannon expert. The size and shape of the cannons appear to be a close match with the characteristics of small iron cannon of the Seventeenth Century; a more definitive identification of the cannons will take place after they are treated and years of encrustation and corrosion are removed in the laboratory-


 - NEPAL –Mustang -  Arduous archaeological research in upper Mustang has uncovered astonishing facts about a previously unknown Himalayan cave culture, said the Department of Archaeology (DOA). The research involving highly skilled archaeologists and other experts who rummaged through remote cave complexes for five years has come up with the remains of an ancient cave people, their arts and manuscripts, providing a new look into ancient Himalayan civilization. According to DAO, the researchers discovered the remains of 27 individuals buried in caves at 13,800 feet. Adult men, women, adolescents, even children, along with cattle, were deposited in a wooden structure and hidden inside a cliff-top communal grave for some 1,500 years. “The researchers believe the culture they have uncovered carried with it the origins of the sky burial practice of the Tibetan plateau,” DAO said in its report. The caves, explored by archaeologists and experts led by American archaeologist and National Geographic grantee Dr. Mark Aldenderfer, are believed to date back some 3,000 years. Analysis of the 5th century skeletal remains found last summer shows cut marks--some 67 percent of the bodies were de-fleshed. Stripped of the flesh, the bones were deposited inside the cave tombs, a practice distinctly different from the more complete offering of chopped bones and flesh in the ethnically Tibetan practice known as sky burial, said DAO. According to DAO, detailed analysis of the crumbling caves and their contents through different methods including DNA analysis has painted a more comprehensive picture of the important role of the Kali Gandaki River corridor in human migration and the exchange of art and religion between the regions of Central Asia, the Tibetan plateau and Southeast Asia. Based on lab results from DNA of the cave populations, the research suggests that like in modern times, people from the highlands moved well into the lowlands in prehistoric times, DAO said. DAO, meanwhile, is worried that the time for unearthing the early cave cultures of upper Mustang is running out. The ancient human-carved cave system that the international team explored last summer is peeling away in layers with each monsoon.


 - MALAISIE – Bukit Bunuh - Archaeologists recently announced that a 4 km square Palaeolithic complex in Bukit Bunuh (Malaysia) is in fact one of the oldest geochronologically dated sites outside Africa, with occupations dating back to more than 1.83 million years ago, and later occupation phases from 40,000 years ago and 30,000 years ago.  "Evidence indicates that this site had always been occupied," said Assoc. Prof. Mokhtar Saidin, the Director of the Centre for Global Archaeological Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia. "Bukit Bunuh was chosen as the site for early settlement as it not only provided the natural resources needed to make stone tools but was an ancient environment that had water resources from ancient lakes, flora and fauna," he said. The discovery of a series of hand-axes, announced on 2009, indicated that this is the only Palaeolithic site in the world with a stone tools workshop that continued to be used periodically from 1.83 million years ago. Research at Bukit Bunuh has also uncovered evidence supporting the theory that the disappearence of the local Paleolithic culture was caused by a meteorite impact 1.83 million years ago. This was provided by geomorphologic evidence, the presence of suevite stone - a type of rock formed by the impact of meteorite - and the geology of the area. Last month, the Malaysian National Heritage Department submitted a report to UNESCO; a team from the agency of the United Nations is expected to visit the site in July this year and the results will be announced next year. "This recognition is crucial to ensure that the artefacts, including thousands of suevite stones in this area are preserved as national heritage. There should be on-going research to get a true picture of the people who settled in this area since 1.83 million years ago and this can change several theories about the Palaeolithic people such as the nomadic theory and movement of prehistoric man," said Mokhtar. Edited from Researchsea.com


 - FRANCE  Beaucaire - L'annonce de l'enfouissement de l'aqueduc romain a soulevé la polémique. L'importance et l'intérêt de la découverte archéologique expliquent l'inquiétude de certains. À l'époque romaine, de grands travaux d'adduction d'eau avaient été réalisés dans la région. L'exemple le plus connu est l'aqueduc qui alimentait Nîmes, dont il reste un vestige célèbre dans le monde entier : le Pont du Gard. L'aqueduc découvert à la limite des communes de Beaucaire et Bellegarde servait, selon toute vraisemblance, à collecter les eaux des sources de la costière pour les conduire en Arles. L'ouvrage en question comportait une partie souterraine, mais aussi une partie aérienne. C'est ce que l'on peut déduire de la dénomination, très ancienne, du chemin qui l'avoisine carrière des arcs . Ces arcs n'atteignaient peut-être pas la majesté du Pont du Gard, mais devaient être suffisamment spectaculaires pour avoir laissé un souvenir dans la mémoire collective. Il n'en subsiste plus rien sauf les fondations des piliers qui ont été retrouvées. Par contre, dans sa partie souterraine, le réseau est toujours présent et c'est lui qui a été enfoui. Au XVIIe siècle l'historien beaucairois Vincent Sève a signalé la présence de cet aqueduc et fait le lien avec la carrière des arcs. Ceci à l'occasion d'une grande sécheresse qui avait provoqué d'énormes fissures dans le sol des marais près de Bellegarde. Ce n'était pas au même endroit que celui qui a été fouillé mais sans doute dans le prolongement puisque Sève a remarqué   « de gros tuyaux de plomb visant sur Arles »   au fond des crevasses, tuyaux qui n'ont pas été retrouvés. L'importance des trouvailles est évidente et les raisons de les conserver sont aussi bien touristiques qu'archéologiques. C'est pourquoi il faut espérer que l'enfouissement n'est que temporaire et que cet élément essentiel du patrimoine sera prochainement mis en valeur comme il le mérite.