28 JANVIER 2011



 - EAU - Jebel Faya  - A stone-age  archaeological site in the Arabian peninsula has become the focus of a radical theory of how early humans made the long walk from their evolutionary homeland of Africa to become a globally dispersed species. Scientists have found a set of stone tools buried beneath a collapsed rock shelter in the barren hills of the United Arab Emirates that they believe were made about 125,000 years ago by people who had migrated out of eastern Africa by crossing the Red Sea when sea levels were at a record low. The age of the stone tools suggests that our species, Homo sapiens, left Africa between 30,000 and 55,000 years earlier than previously believed. Genetic evidence had suggested that modern humans made the main migration from Africa between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago. However, all these movements were believed to have been made into the Middle East by people walking along the Nile valley and over the Sinai Peninsula. The stone tools unearthed at the Jebel Faya site, about 50km from the Persian Gulf, suggest another possible migratory route across the Bab al-Mandeb strait, a tract of open water which separates the Red Sea from the Arabian Ocean and the Horn of Africa from the Arabian Peninsula. The scientists behind the study said that at the time of the migration sea levels would have been low enough for people to make the crossing by foot. They also suggest that the waterless Nejd plateau of southern Arabia, which would have posed another barrier to migration, was at that time covered in lakes and game-filled vegetation. Once humans had crossed into southern Arabia, they would have enjoyed the benefits of a land rich in gazelle. Simon Armitage of Royal Holloway, University of London, the lead author of the study published in the journal 'Science', said that discovering the dates of the tools was key evidence suggesting there was an earlier migration out of Africa than previously supposed.  "Archaeology without ages is like a jigsaw with the interlocking edges removed -- you have lots of individual pieces of information but you can't fit them together to produce the big picture," he said. (© Independent News Service)


 - ISRAËL  Jérusalem - Archaeologists have cleared out a 2,000-year-old tunnel running under the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City and plugged up over the generations by accumulated debris- Archaeologists believe the tunnel served to drain rainwater near the Second Temple, the centre of Jewish faith destroyed in A.D. 70. It runs near — but not underneath — the sacred and politically explosive enclosure known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, home to the Al-Aqsa mosque. Archaeology and politics in Jerusalem are entangled, and there was criticism of the new excavation Tuesday from both Palestinians and dovish Israelis. The tunnel runs almost 600 metres from inside the Old City to the nearby Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan, where an Israeli settler group, the Elad Association, both funds archaeological digs and moves in Jewish families, angering Palestinians. The group, which works closely with arms of the Israeli government and the Jerusalem municipality, aims to prevent any division of Jerusalem in a future peace deal. Antiquities officials and Elad declined to say Tuesday whether the group had provided funding for the tunnel excavation, but a 2007 statement by the Israel Antiquities Authority said the excavations were being carried out jointly with Elad. Palestinians claim Silwan as part of the capital of a future Palestinian state. Israel captured all of East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it soon afterward, a move that has not been recognized internationally. Israelis know Silwan as the City of David, named for the biblical king believed to have ruled from Jerusalem. Critics see the Silwan excavations as part of an attempt to cement Jewish control over heavily Palestinian areas of Jerusalem.


 - CHILI  -   Arica - Quatre momies précolombiennes ont été restituées au gouvernement du Chili par le Musée Ethnographique de Genève jeudi dernier, après qu’un collectionneur suisse s’en soit séparé volontairement. Deux d’entre elles sont considérées comme les plus vieilles momies du monde, et constituent un pan important de la culture chilienne- Deux des momies appartiennent à la culture Chinchorro (7000 à 1500 ans avant JC), une autre est précolombienne, même si sa datation est incertaine, et la dernière provient de la période des premiers contacts avec les Espagnols. Les momies Chinchorros, connues des archéologues depuis 1917, sont considérées comme étant les plus vieilles du monde, datant de 5000 avant J- C. Les Chinchorros étaient des pêcheurs qui vivaient le long de la côte nord du Chili, du côté d’Arica. « Chinchorro » est d'ailleurs un ancien mot espagnol qui signifie «filet de pêche »*. En plus des quatre momies, la collection privée comptait encore d'autres vestiges humains. Malgré un examen approfondi, les experts n’ont pas pu attribuer de culture déterminée à ces restes qui se trouvent dans un état avancé de désagrégation. Ces restes indéterminés seront inhumés à Genève au printemps 2011 à l’occasion d'une petite cérémonie.


 - EGYPTE  Gizeh - A French architect campaigning for a new exploration of the 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza said on Thursday that the edifice may contain two chambers housing funereal furniture. Jean-Pierre Houdin -- who was rebuffed three years ago by Egypt in his appeal for a probe into how the Pyramid was built -- said 3-D simulation and data from a US egyptologist, Bob Brier, pointed to two secret chambers in the heart of the structure. The rooms would have housed furniture for use in the afterlife by the pharaoh Khufu, also known as Cheops in Greek, he told a press conference. I am convinced there are antechambers in this pyramid. What I want is to find them," he said. In March 2007, Houdin advanced the theory that the Great Pyramid had been built inside-out using an internal spiral ramp, as opposed to an external ramp as had long been suggested. He proposed mounting a joint expedition of Egyptian antiquities experts and French engineers, using infrared, radar and other non-invasive methods to check out the hypothesis. The idea was nixed by Egypt's antiquities department. A Canadian team from Laval University in Quebec will seek permission this year to carry out thermal imaging from outside the Pyramid to explore the theory, Houdin said. Houdin said a pointer to the antechambers came from the existence of such rooms in the pyramid of Snefru, Khufu's father. It was possible a similar design was retained for the Great Pyramid. In addition, blocks in the northern wall of the king's chamber in the Great Pyramid indicate an overlooked passage which led to the hypothesised chambers and also enabled the funeral party to exit, he added.