26 AVRIL 2023 NEWS
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ANGLETERRE – Bedfordshire - The team found a medieval timber-framed building and a series of medieval enclosure ditches, in addition to the tableman which was made from a cattle mandible. Tablemen were used to play various board games, where two players would typically roll dice and move their pieces across rows of markings. The word ‘tables’ is derived from the Latin tabula which primarily meant “board” or “plank” and was first introduced to Britain during the Roman period. One of the more popular table games played by the Romans was the Ludus duodecim scriptorium, which translates as “game of twelve markings”, a game played using three cubic dice and each player having 15 pieces. It is likely that the game ‘tabula’ was refined from Ludus duodecim scripta and continued to be played into the medieval period. Tabula is much more similar to backgammon and uses two rows of twenty-four points. The tableman from Bidwell West has a diameter of nearly 6cm and is decorated on the face with concentric circles and a ring-and-dot design. Similar examples in both size and decoration style have been found at sites across England which became common during the 11th to 13th centuries. According to the excavation team: “It is not always possible to identify which game the gaming pieces recovered from archaeological excavations would have belonged to, because there is often no surviving board. It is however likely, due to the association with the medieval site, the style of decoration, and the size, that our gaming piece would have been used to play tabula during the medieval period.”
OMAN – – Dhofar - Hand axes from the period of the first human migration out of Africa, circular burial chambers, a collection of rock engravings, and an Arabian Stonehenge are some of the unique findings reported by an international team led by the Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Prague. The team successfully completed its third excavation season in Oman in March and collected samples, which are now being analysed by experts and will contribute to the reconstruction of the earliest history of the world’s largest sand desert – Rub al Khali. Czech archaeologists have been focusing on the still underexplored desert areas of Oman for a long time. More than 20 archaeologists and geologists from ten countries were involved in the excavations at two different sites. The first expedition team was situated in Dhofar, while the second operated in Duqm. In the dunes of Rub al Khali in Dhofar, researchers unearthed stone hand axes that date back to the first human migration out of Africa some 300,000 to 1.3mn years ago. Due to its geographical location, Arabia served as a natural migration route from the African cradle of humankind into Eurasia, stated CAS in a report. The second expedition team operated in Duqm, focusing in particular on a Neolithic tomb dating back to 5,000–4,600 BC at the Nafun site. “What we find here is unique in the context of the whole of southern Arabia. A megalithic structure concealing two circular burial chambers revealed the skeletal remains of at least several dozen individuals. Isotopic analyses of bones, teeth and shells will help us learn more about the diet, natural environment and migrations of the buried population,” explained Alzbeta Danielisova from the Institute of Archaeology. Not far from the tomb, there is a unique collection of rock engravings spread out over a total of 49 rock blocs, whose different styles and varying degrees of weathering provide a pictorial record of settlements from 5,000 BC to 1,000 CE. Researchers also investigated stone tool production sites from the Late Stone Age.
PEROU – Cajamarquilla. - Peruvian archaeologists unearthed a more than 1,000-year-old mummy on the outskirts of the modern capital, Lima, on Monday, in the latest discovery dating back to pre-Inca times. The mummy was probably an adolescent and found in an underground tomb wrapped in a funerary bundle, along with ceramics and rope and including bits of skin and hair. The mummified adolescent was found in a “good state of conservation,” said archaeologist Yomira Huaman, in charge of the Cajamarquilla research project affiliated with the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. While best known for the mountain-top Inca royal retreat of Machu Picchu, Peru was home to various pre-Hispanic cultures that thrived in the centuries before the Inca empire rose to power, mainly along the country’s central coast and in the Andes.The adolescent lived between 1,100 and 1,200 years ago, and might have belonged to the Lima or Ichma cultures. The mummy was discovered about 200 meters (220 yards) from where the first mummy of Cajamarquilla was found, explained Huaman, referring to another mummy found nearby last year. The archaeological site is also where the remains of eight children and 12 adults, who were apparently sacrificed around 800-1,200 years ago, were found.
CHINE – Tianjin - Over 2,000 porcelain, pottery, metalware, and other relics dating back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) have been uncovered in an ancient city wall site of north China's Tianjin Municipality. This was reported by The Xinhua News Agency. Located in today's Nankai District of Tianjin, the ancient Tianjin's east city wall site boasts various ruins, including the city wall foundation, roads, and railway tracks built between the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties and the period between 1911 and 1949. The large-scale excavation at the site began in 2017. It uncovered significant evidence and samples for further study on China's modern cities built upon their ancient city ruins, said the municipal cultural relics preservation center. The discovery has provided physical evidence of the construction history of the ancient Tianjin city, believed built no later than the early Ming Dynasty. The center said since many utensil fragments and building components with Yuan characteristics were also unearthed at the site, there may be more ruins dating back to the Yuan Dynasty or earlier around the area.
ECOSSE – Antonine Wall - Archaeologists in western Scotland have found the foundations of a Roman fortlet dating back to the Second Century CE. According to the government-run historic preservation commission Historic Environment Scotland, this fort was one of 41 defensive structures that was built near the Antonine Wall, one of Scotland’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This fortified wall made of mostly wood ran for roughly 40 miles across Scotland as part of the Roman Empire’s unsuccessful attempt to extend its control throughout Britain from roughly 410 to 43 CE. The Antonine Wall was defended as the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire. Emperor Antoninus Pius ordered the building of the wall in 142 CE as a one-up to his predecessor Hadrian. The famed Hadrian’s Wall was built in the 120s CE about 100 miles south of the Antonine Wall. The Romans called the people living in Scotland “Caledonians”, and later named them the Picts after a Latin word meaning “painted people,” in reference to their body paintings or tattoos. The Romans retreated to the Hadrian Wall in 162 CE after 20 years of trying to hold a new northern line at the Antonine Wall. In 1707, antiquarian Robbert Sibbald said he saw the fortlet in the area around Carleith Farm in West Dunbartonshire. During the 1970s and 1980s, excavation teams looked for it but were unsuccessful.New technology allowed Historic Environment Scotland’s archaeological survey team to find the buried remains. The team used a geophysical surveying technique called gradiometry to peer under the soil without excavating. Gradiometry measures small changes in Earth’s magnetic field to detect buried archaeological features that can’t be seen from the surface. It identified the base of the fortlet, which remains buried under the ground. Turf would have been laid on top of this base. The team found the fortlet in a field near Carleith Primary School. The fortlet would have been occupied by 10 to 12 Roman soldiers who were likely stationed at Duntocher, a larger fort nearby. The fortlet would have been made up of two small wooden buildings.
TURQUIE – Smyrne - Amid the ongoing archaeological excavations to uncover Smyrna Agora and Smyrna Theater on an area between İzmir’s Kadifekale and Kemeraltı districts, the traces from Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods, as well as various principalities and the Ottoman era, have come to light so far. Stating that a Satyros relief and a body part of the Herakles statue came to light during the excavations, Ersoy said that they also found findings related to the culinary culture of İzmir. Archaeological excavations carried out on an area of 193 hectares have revealed thousands of objects from various periods. The artifacts provide information about the social and commercial life of the period. Ersoy stated that they have been working for six years to reveal the 20,000-people capacity Smyrna Theater on the outskirts of Kadifekale. “We have so far uncovered the 5,000-people capacity section. Due to the fact that the theater is in the city, it has some disadvantages. It was used as a quarry in the late Byzantine and Ottoman eras, and we see that a significant amount of seating arrangements have been dismantled. We are not surprised when we see the stone of the theater in the inns of Kemeraltı or monumental buildings.” “In the excavations in the Agora of Smyrna, we are working on public structures of the agora. There is a strong Ottoman period. Especially the 19th century is very important. These relics are uncovered at the highest level. Beneath these ruins, we discovered a Roman bath structure. In the last two years, we have identified ruins that we believe is a gymnasium. Excavations continue to unearth the gymnasium and also an inn from the Ottoman period. There are also remains from Roman and Ottoman periods unearthed at some points in Kemeraltı,” Ersoy added. Providing information about the artifacts and materials unearthed during the excavations, Ersoy said, “We come across plastic artifacts in the works carried out in the stage section of the theater. There is a visually prominent Satyros relief. It is exhibited in the İzmir Museum. We can also find the images of mythological beings. The Satyros we have found is a male mythological being. It was used in the decoration of the theater. It is a human-sized relief. We found a statue of Heracles. Many statue fragments, including foot and hand pieces of statues of emperors and gods, can be found here. We understand that the Smyrna Theater has a very rich understanding of ornamentation.” Stating that they practice urban archaeology, Ersoy said that because it is a layered city, they have reached not only the artifacts from the Pagan, Hellenistic and Roman periods but also from the Ottoman period.
USA - Daytona - An archeology research team plans to examine mystery wreckage spotted off the coast of Florida on Monday. The possible shipwreck was exposed last week near Daytona Beach Shores due to continued beach erosion believed to have been caused by high tide and the impacts of Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole in 2022. Volusia County Beach Patrol Captain said it's the first time in 20 years that something has been unearthed near that beach. He said it appears to be the outline of a ship's hull, though it will take archeology teams to confirm that. The wreckage is estimated to be between 25 and 30 feet long.
POLOGNE – Cracovie - Massive walls that once formed part of the Szewska Gate, one of Krakow's ancient major city gates and a part of its mediaeval fortifications, have been uncovered during excavation work. It is the first time that the gate, an important part of the city’s history, has been seen by modern eyes. The excavations being carried out in the area where Szewska joins the Planty promenade uncovered two enormous walls running parallel to each other. These walls belong to what archaeologists call the gate’s neck, a long channel that connected the inner and outer parts of the gate which served as a passageway for people and wagons entering the city. According to the researchers, the gate's exterior was further protected by a system of three defensive walls, which extended from the neck. One side of the neck was discovered approximately 60-80 cm below the current surface, while the second was found at a depth of 1.3 meters. Archaeologists reached a depth of 2.2 meters in the excavations and report that the walls continue even further below this depth. The newly discovered relics give an idea of the massive structure of the Szewska Gate. Experts say that the gate dates back to the 14th century, with the part that has just been uncovered dating to the 15th century. Samples of the mortar and ceramics found at the site will be analysed to provide more details about the gate's history. According to Justyna Jarosz-Romaniec, who is overseeing the archaeological work, the gate was most likely dismantled in the early 19th century. The northern wall is made of unprocessed limestone, while the southern wall is partly made of limestone and partly of brick. The gate was once part of the perimeter and city fortifications in Krakow and was one of Krakow's eight defensive gates. In the Middle Ages, the gate was maintained and defended by the guild of leatherworkers, known as the White-Skinners.