31 JUILLET 2023 NEWS
INSTITUT SUPERIEUR D'ANTHROPOLOGIE
INSTITUTE OF ANTHROPOLOGY
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ESPAGNE – Merida - Archaeologists in the La Huerta de Otero Archaeological Zone, on the western side of Mérida and part of the Roman city of Augusta Emerita, uncovered amazing mosaics, including one depicting the ancient Greek mythological figure Medusa. Augusta Emerita was founded in 25 BC by Augustus to resettle Emeriti soldiers from the veteran legions of the Cantabrian Wars. The city emerged as one of the largest Roman centres in Hispania and the capital of the province of Lusitania, covering an area of over 20,000 square kilometres. According to the researchers, the depiction is a prophylactic representation to protect the domus inhabitants, similar to other Medusa depictions found in numerous artefacts and mosaics from throughout the Greek and Roman world for protection.The Medusa image is framed in the centre of an octagonal medallion, surrounded in all four corners by peacocks that embody the four seasons. The overall mosaic measures around 30m2 and also contains geometric patterns and images of floral and animal motifs such as birds and fish. In this excavation, the remains of a Roman domus and a canvas of the city wall were brought to light.
TURQUIE – Istanbul - A Byzantine structure, which probably dates back to the fifth century, was discovered by archaeologists in the square of the Roman Hippodrome, today's Sultanahmet Square, in Istanbul opposite Hagia Sophia. According to Habertürk, during work in the former building of the Directorate of Cadastres, a screed was initially found in one of the basement walls, attracting the attention of archaeologists. Proceeding with excavation work, they found a space 600 square metres wide and 6 metres and 80 centimetres high. According to the architectural features of some additions, it is inferred that the original fifth-century structure was converted into a cistern in the sixth or seventh century. At the same time, the floor still has evidence of gutters. It is noted that the famous racecourse of Byzantium and the imperial accommodation were located directly opposite the said building of the Directorate of Lands.As finds of the floor discovered are on the same level as the original floor of the racecourse, which is four and a half metres below, there is a suspicion that the arched construction is directly related to the racecourse.It is noted that the former building of the Directorate of Lands will be turned into a "Museum of Hagia Sophia", which is expected to exhibit objects that were kept in warehouses for centuries and have never come to light.
ITALIE – – Rome - Rome’s next luxury hotel has some very good bones: Archaeologists said Wednesday that the ruins of Nero’s Theater, an imperial theater referred to in ancient Roman texts but never found, have been discovered under the garden of a future Four Seasons Hotel steps from the Vatican. Officials hailed the findings from the excavation as “exceptional,” given they provide a rare look at a stratum of Roman history from the Roman Empire through to the 15th century. Among the discoveries: 10th century glass colored goblets and pottery pieces that are unusual because so little is known about this period in Rome. Marzia Di Mento, the site’s chief archaeologist, noted that previously only seven glass chalices of the era had been found, and that the excavations of this one site turned up seven more. In addition, archaeologists found marble columns and gold-leaf decorated plaster, leading them to conclude that the Nero’s Theater referred to in texts by Pliny the Elder, an ancient Roman author and philosopher, was indeed there, located at the site just off the Tiber River. Officials said the portable antiquities would be moved to a museum, while the ruins of the theater structure itself would be covered again after all studies are completed.
ITALIE – Civitavecchia - The discovery of a 2000-year-old Roman shipwreck carrying hundreds of amphorae stunned archaeologists in the historic Italian city of Civitavecchia this week. The ship, dated to the 2nd century B.C., was found lying about 160 meters deep on the sandy seabed off the city of Rome. A state-of-the-art patrol boat equipped with a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) featuring sonar and depth sounder made the stunning discovery and completed the mapping of the submerged archaeological site. Besides the ship’s cargo, consisting of hundreds of amphorae, two Roman metal anchor stocks, belonging to the ancient vessel, were also found in the immediate perimeter of the wreck. The area of Civitavecchia, where the Roman shipwreck was discovered, is home to an important harbour on the Tyrrhenian Sea since antiquity.The city was first inhabited by the Etruscans, whose tombs are still scattered in the territory. The Romans developed the harbour which thrived throughout antiquity, the Byzantine Era and the Middle Ages.
ISRAEL – Huqoq - A mosaic panel depicting biblical stories uncovered at an ancient synagogue was discovered by archeologists seeking answers about the impact of early Christian rule on Jewish people. Jodi Magness, an archaeologist and professor of early Judaism at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, has been excavating the synagogue in the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq since 2011. The village is located in Israel's Lower Galilee. Magness and her team discovered the first set of mosaics in 2012 after their excavation progressed to the floor of the building. The mosaic panels on the synagogue floor depict biblical stories, including Samson and the foxes from Judges 15:4 and Samson carrying the gates of Gaza as in Judges 16:3. This summer, additional sections of those mosaic panels were exposed. A newly discovered mosaic on the floor just inside the main entrance consists of a large panel with a Hebrew inscription contained inside a wreath. An Aramaic inscription lists the names of what appear to be the donors who funded the mosaic or the artists who created them. Other panels depict a tiger hunting an ibex, while another features a Philistine horseman and a dead Philistine soldier. Magness said she sought to answer questions about the fate of Jewish villages under early Christian rule through the excavation. The village of Huqoq existed during the Roman and Byzantine periods, the professor said. And beginning in the fourth century, the Roman Empire became Christian.
MEXIQUE - Teotihuacán – Archaeologists have uncvered a Teotihuacano village in the Tlatelolco area of Mexico City. The village dates from around AD 450-650 during the Classic period in the Late Xolalpan-Metepec phases, when the city of Teotihuacán had reached the apogee of influence in Mesoamerica. At this time, Teotihuacán is estimated to have had a population of around 125,000 inhabitants and was among the largest cities in the ancient world, containing 2,000 buildings within an area of 18 square kilometres. The village was first identified in the 1960’s during construction works, but recent excavations have now uncovered architectural elements, stone alignments, post holes, three human burials with funerary offerings, and large concentrations of ceramics. Despite the village being located in a rural context, it likely had links of exchange and dependency with other Teotihuacán governing centres on the western shore of Lake Texcoco. According to the researchers, the village inhabitants survived on self-subsistence and gathering, and was also a centre for the production of quality ceramics and artisan objects based on the discovery of figurines, green stone artefacts, funerary offerings, and various obsidian and flint projectile points. Through test pits and extensive excavations, evidence of Aztec occupation in the Late Postclassic Period has also been identified, in addition to layers that date from the 18th, 19th, and 20th century AD. Archaeologists also found a series of channels that delimited chinampería spaces, a method of agricultural expansion used by the Aztecs in Lake Texcoco for growing plants and vegetables. Within the channels, the team found several deposits of ceramic vessels, a headless seated sculpture, and complete and semi-complete objects that date from the Late Aztec III Period (AD 1440-1521).
ESPAGNE – La Lentejuela Teba - The La Lentejuela Teba necropolis is a concentration of burial structures located near Málaga, Spain. Previous excavations have identified 13 structures since the site was first studied in 2005, with recent excavations by the University of Cádiz (UCA) uncovering two new Megalithic dolmens. This season has focused on a dolmen identified as Funeral Structure 1. The dolmen has a bent corridor that gives access to an antechamber, differentiated from the corridor by the presence of two vertical orthostats. Preliminary dating suggests that the structure was constructed during the end of the 4th millennium BC, however, the dolmen was reused during the 3rd millennium BC by the Bronze Age people living nearby to deposit their dead inside small spaces built into the structure. Serafín Becerra from UCA said: The Bronze Age populations deposit their deceased in this tomb and even built small spaces inside the dolmen to bury them individually, or at most with two individuals.” The researchers have also applied new technologies to record all the structures at the necropolis by using aerial photography with a drone, 3D digital scanning, photogrammetry, precision topography through the use of total stations and differential GNSS. Archaeological samples have also been taken to further date and build a chronology of the site, in addition to further understand the funerary practices of the people that inhabited the region during prehistory.
CHINE – Xi'an - The tomb complex of Qin Xi Huang is famous the world over and is one of the most important archaeological discoveries, well, ever If you've ever heard about a terracotta warrior, or the Terracotta Army, that is from the enormous tomb complex of the man generally acknowledged to have been China's first emperor, who reigned from 221 BC to 210 BC Hundreds of figures were found inside the tomb complex, including famously lots of soldiers, but also people from around the court who would accompany the emperor in death. However, one chamber in the enormous complex still remains unopened. It is, of course, the most important chamber of all and is the one containing the tomb and sarcophagus of the emperor himself. There are a number of reasons why archaeologists are delaying opening the tomb, and they are very good reasons. And no, before you ask, it's got nothing to do with curses. In fact, it's not so much concern about what could get out of the chamber, as what could get in. When archaeologists first excavated the complex, the figures found there were painted in rich colours - they weren't the plain terracotta figures we are familiar with today. However, the very sudden change in the atmosphere meant that paint on the figures began to peel off, and now most are completely bare. There is a concern that opening the imperial chamber could have the same effect on anything in there. Another reason is that authorities are waiting for further advancement in archaeological science and technology which would allow us to gain as much insight as possible, or even preserve the chamber, before opening it. Kristin Romey, a curatorial consultant for the Terracotta Warrior exhibition at New York City’s Discovery Times Square, told Live Science: "The big hill, where the emperor is buried — nobody's been in there. "Partly it's out of respect for the elders, but they also realize that nobody in the world right now has the technology to properly go in and excavate it." There is also a big political question over the excavation of the site. This is a site which provides a direct connection to the beginning of China as we know it. For a country with such a strong sense of its own identity and history, that's a pretty enormous deal, and not something that you want to be treating lightly. For now though, the emperor is being allowed to continue his repose, as he has done for the last 2,000 years.
ANGLETERRE – Cerne Abbas - Archaeologists are digging to find a Benedictine abbey that has lain undisturbed for almost five centuries. Cerne Abbey in Dorset was demolished in 1539 during the Dissolution and the land has remained virtually untouched - until now. Researchers had previously used ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to locate some of the key buildings. The three-week dig aims to reveal the precise position of the abbey, as well as evidence of earlier buildings. Researchers from the University of Sheffield, led by Dr Hugh Willmott, carried out the GPR survey in 2022, which located large portions of the monastery. Dr Willmott said it provided the "first ever evidence for the medieval abbey, and potentially its Anglo-Saxon predecessor beneath". "Not only did it reveal an amazingly clear plan of the cloistral ranges, the survey showed that the buildings remained surprisingly intact with walls up to four feet tall in places," he said.Cerne Abbey was founded in 987 but, when King Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries between 1536 and 1541, it was surrendered, plundered and demolished. All that remains is the Abbots Porch and Guest House and there have been no significant excavations, except those by grave diggers. It is believed the abbey occupied a site east of Abbey Street, which includes the existing graveyard and neighbouring fields, but previous geophysical surveys were hampered by large amounts of rubble obscuring the buried structures.