28 JUILLET 2014 NEWS: la Meseta - Kedarnath - Southend Pier - Sigiriya - Kenilworth - Narbonne - Kottaman Thodu -
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ESPAGNE – la Meseta - The discovery of stone tools dating back one million years in Spain's Cuenca province sheds new light on the origins of humankind,researchers say. The tools were left behind by the first humans who settled in the Iberian Peninsula, archaeologists Santiago David Domínguez and Míchel Muñoz told Spanish news agency Europa Press. Most of the pieces discovered were hewn pieces of extremely hard quartzite known as 'choppers', which were used to cut wood and meat by prehistoric humans including Homo Ergaster and Homo Antecessor. The research was led by Ares Arqueologia, a company based in the province of Cuenca in Central Spain. It started in 2012 as part of a large research project on the Palaeolithic Age, with research taking place at more than twenty other archaeological sites. The finding “proves the importance of this part of la Meseta [high plains of central Spain] in the study of human origins” said expert Ignacio Ruiz de Lerma, in charge of the research program at the University of Murcia. The research reveals crucial data for the study of early humans and has already resulted in a book and a documentary.
INDE – Kedarnath - The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) restoration team has retrieved more than 40 original architectural stones of the Kedarnath temple washed away in last year’s flash floods in Uttarakhand. “Some of these original architecture members (stones) were recovered from the spots located more than a kilometre away from the temple. These original stones will be reused during restoration of the temple complex,” Culture Ministry sources told Deccan Herald. As of now, the work force has been deployed in removing debris at the site. The temple restoration team, which resumed the work after reopening of the Himalayan shrine in May this year, has so far managed to remove nearly 10,417 cubic feet debris from the western side, despite bad weather. Removal of debris is on from the northern side and the rear of the temple, sources added. The ASI has also brought 25 stone carvers from Rajasthan for cutting and carving to size locally available gneiss stone, the material used in the construction of the temple.
ROYAUME UNI – Southend Pier - Divers have found evidence to confirm that a 17th century shipwreck in the Thames Estuary was sunk by an explosion. Steve and Carol Ellis, from Westcliff, have been leading a team of divers in exploring a shipwreck off Southend, dubbed the Mary Rose of the Thames Estuary, the London, which sank in March 1665. The exploration is part of a two-year project, commissioned by English Heritage, to survey the wreck and catalogue and salvage any small artefacts. Mr Ellis, working with Cotswold Archaeology, has found items such as musket shots, fixtures, fittings and personal items including pewter spoons and even the sole of a leather shoe. HMS London, a 64-gun, secondrate ship of the English Navy, was built in 1656. She gained fame as one of the ships which escorted Charles II home from Holland during the English Restoration. Three hundred people died when she sank on March 7, 1665, after a sailor is believed to have taken a candle below deck, sparking an explosion in the ship’s gunpowder stockpile. After its rediscovery in 2005, the Port of London Authority was forced to change the route of the Thames shipping lane to protect her. The wreck is about a mile from Southend Pier and lies between eight to 12 metres deep.
SRI LANKA – Sigiriya - Finding of a piece of coal from a layer of Sigiriya frescoes has kindled hopes among archaeologists that it could help them find answers to many hitherto unsolved mysteries of the ancient marvel. Director General of the Department of Archaeology Dr Senarath Dissanayake told The Island yesterday that they were considering the option of sending the piece of coal for carbon dating abroad so that it could produce scientific data to determine the time period the frescoes belonged to. Dr. Dissanayake said that a team of archaeologists engaged in conservation of Sigiriya wall paintings had found the piece of coal embedded in the plaster layer of one of the 22 frescoes in Deraniyagala cave in the Sigiriya rock. The piece of coal had been noticed by a team led by Archaeology Research Assistant T. K. Wijesinghe. The department took immediate action to send Dr. Nimal Perera to the site to take samples of the piece of coal. There are 23 major paintings in the Sigiriya rock and around 50 others in caves near the base of the rock. The paintings found in the Deraniyagala cave are considered prominent. There are around 22 images of women and other drawings in this cave. The Sigiriya frescoes have so far been assigned to the Fifth Century AD with the help of accounts found in chronicles. The dating of paintings has been done by considering the typological evidences. The latest find could lead to precise scientific dating of them and that could answer many unsolved mysteries, Dr Dissanayake said.
ROYAUME UNI – Kenilworth -Archaeologists have begun the first phase of work to finally open up Kenilworth’s 14th Century gatehouse to the public with a community dig.Lead archaeologist Bryn Gethin said it revealed more than expected in just a week. “We know two stone buttresses were used to support the now vanished upper floor of the gatehouse,” he said. “These were clearly part of the original 1360 construction being crafted from wonderfully cut stonework of the highest quality. “These remains have been buried for almost 500 years and give a good impression of what the rest of the building would have looked like in its glory days.” Also among the finds was a floor tile decorated with a both a fleur-de-lys and a castle - a design associated with Eleanor of Castile who was the wife of Edward I of England and which has previously been found at Kenilworth Abbey. During the dig, volunteers from Kenilworth History and Archaeological Society and archaeology students also worked through piles of stonework and rubble thought to be the result of the demolition of the upper storey of the gatehouse after the abbey was closed by Henry VIII in 1538.
FRANCE – Narbonne - Chaque nouveau chantier qui s'ouvre dans la ville sait qu'il va «tomber» sur des vestiges archéologiques d'époque antique ou médiévale. C'est que Narbonne était au début de notre ère une ville romaine florissante, qui reste encore pour une grande partie à découvrir. Recouverte au fil des siècles par de nouvelles habitations et bâtiments, seule une infime partie de la ville romaine a été retrouvée et mise en valeur. Trois fois rien par rapport à ce qu'était la capitale de la Narbonnaise. Un chantier de construction entrepris par un promoteur immobilier au lieu-dit Saint-Hippolyte, à la Coupe, a révélé il y a deux mois une nécropole carolingienne avec 30 tombes jouxtant une villa romaine et une tour médiévale. Aussitôt, le chantier a été stoppé pour laisser place aux équipes de fouille. Lancé par le Service Régional de l'Archéologie et confié à la société Eveha, il est maintenant terminé. Le promoteur immobilier, la société de promotion Hectare, peut redémarrer son chantier et recouvrir les vestiges. Et pourtant, l'intérêt scientifique de cette découverte est majeur. Les objets et vestiges retrouvés permettent d'en apprendre beaucoup sur les rapports qui existaient entre la ville de Narbonne et la campagne environnante aux 8e et 9e siècles. Mais il faudrait pour cela que les fouilles soient étendues. Car bien d'autres révélations pourraient voir le jour sur la vie de nos ancêtres. Et pourtant, encore une fois, alors que l'on s'apprête à créer un musée de la Romanité à Narbonne, des vestiges archéologiques de grande valeur sont menacés de disparaître sous le béton. Nathalie Granier, adjointe au maire déléguée à l'Urbanisme, précise qu'«un permis d'aménager a été effectivement délivré en septembre 2013. Dans ce cadre, les consultations utiles ont été faites et la DRAC a prescrit une intervention archéologique avec une phase d'exploration du terrain et une phase d'étude. Il n'a jamais été question de «broyer les vestiges». Bien au contraire, les prescriptions de la DRAC seront prises en compte et les vestiges d'intérêts seront préservés et éventuellement mis en valeur».
INDE - Kottaman Thodu - A senior archaeologist has found engravings and and Brahmi scripts on some artifacts collected from the surroundings of Kottaman Thodu near Kaladi in Ernakulam district belonging to the Neolithic period. The discovery sheds light on the existence of Megalithic and Neolithic culture in the area. The stone implements were examined by Dr P Rajendran, UGC Scientist and Archaeologist in the Department of History of the Kerala University on collections of Mr Andeth Ali in Mekkaladi of Ernakulam district. “I examined a large collection of artifacts collected by Ali from the surroundings of the Kottaman Todu in Kaladi, one of the tributaries of the Periyar river. Collection includes artifacts belonging to the Neolithic and Megalithic cultures,” Dr Rajendran told PTI. Examination of the Neolithic Axes had identified and deciphered Brahmi scripts on three axes among the 18 of them, he said. Several Brahmi scripts and a few graffiti-like marks were seen incised on three of them, on one surface of each and the opposite side is blank. The other Neolithic artifacts in the collection include beads made of semi-precious tourmaline rock, saddle querns, and round and cylindrical millers. Megalithic artifacts in the collection included urn burial potsherds, iron implements such as spear-heads, daggers, arrow-heads and sickle. Both the Neolithic and Megalithic cultural materials did not suffer much rolling, indicating that the nearby area around Mekkaladi in Kaladi in Ernakulam district in Central Kerala were inhabited by the Neolithic and Megalithic people in the late Holocene period, he said. Earlier Brahmi scripts were reported from Menalloor temple near Kariavattom in Thiruvananthapuram and Kannur in Kerala, he said. Such Brahmi scripts and graffiti markings had been reported from the Megalithic context from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. “The wide occurrence of such ancient scripts in South India and Sri Lanka probably show greater antiquity than the evolved Brahmi script of the Asoka period. In this context the discovery of the Brahmi scripts on the Neolithic Axes from Kerala is significant,” Dr Rajendran added.