Tag Archives: China

The Roundup #55

It’s been one hell of a couple weeks. Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Leonard Cohen died, and I now know what’s left of a body after it’s hit by a train. All fun stuff, you can imagine.

During the Mosul offensive in Iraq, it appears that ISIS/ISIL/Daesh have made efforts to destroy anything in their path as they retreat, including more of the ancient site of Nimrud in the north. Reuters has reported on it, as has the Smithsonian – specifically regarding the ziggurat destroyed there – and History Today offers a retrospective on the city for those hoping to learn more.

So, as a respite, here is the roundup from the last two weeks. Enjoy!

From Archaeology.org:

Otzi the Ice Man’s outfit was assembled from five different animal species, suggesting there was more going on than straight-up subsistence living.

Would you like a crocodile mummy? Why not 50 for the price of one? New evidence shows that a crocodile mummy actually contains the mummies of 47 hatchlings as well, folded into the wrappings of the larger animal.

Does anyone remember the scavenger-doctor character Tom Hanks played in Cloud Atlas? Hunting around for real teeth for dentures wasn’t made up, as these from Tuscany and suggest.

A possible site for the final resting place of the last emperor of the Inca may be on the table, after archaeologists began excavating at Maiqui-Machay in Ecuador.

An odd thing: a pot from a Roman camp site in Switzerland containing oil lamps with images of Luna, gladiators, peacocks, and other figures.

Archaeologists working at a site in Kazakhstan have unearthed stone structures containing a variety of treasures suggesting that the people living here were wealthy as well as originally nomadic.

Mosaic floors found in Turkey! Need I say more?

Hundreds of graves for monks have been discovered at Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire.

A feature on an Islamic palace found near Jericho.

Petroglyphs in Hawaii were uncovered after shifting sand revealed them in July.

A burial causeway in Aswan dating to the 12th dynasty has been discovered in Egypt.

Evidence of a mythical flood that ushered in the Xia dynasty in China has been discovered.

Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre is currently being excavated in London. Of the many items discovered there are ticket boxes and parts of costumes.

And ongoing excavations at Tel Gezer in Israel are revealing some stunning finds.

The Roundup #31

This week’s news has come almost exclusively from Archaeology.org (either that or the Facebook algorithm has decided that’s all I want to see). Expect a more varied list next week but, in the meantime, here is this week’s roundup.

From Archaeology.org:

An underwater wreck in excellent condition may be a Confederate-era blockade runner, one of three ships known to have been lost in the area of Cape Fear River and Fort Caswell.

The winery at Tel Kabri shows evidence that wine was mixed with various plant extracts on site.

Here is a feature on Roman wall painting, some of the most exquisite ever found in France, are being studied at Arles.

A 2,500 year old tomb near Luoyang shows evidence of an ethnic minority group that came to dominate the region during the Warring States Period in the 5th to 3rd centuries BCE.

The repatriation of remains removed in the 1960s from Alaska will be completed by 2018.

An intact tomb from the Geometric Period has been discovered on Lesbos.

Road works in Scotland may have unearthed the Medieval village of Cazdow. Excavations are ongoing.

More fragments of the Severan Marble Plan, a huge marble map of the city of Rome, have been discovered. Only approximately 10% of this once 60 x 43 foot map has been reconstructed.

Evidence of the earliest alphabetic language, from approximately 1850-1700 BCE, is in evidence on this tiny ostracon.

From APTN:

Another tale of the sorry state of relations between municipal bodies and indigenous groups is featured in this piece on the Allandale Station lands in Barrie, Ontario. Included in this article is a link to the report completed by ASI.

From the BBC:

A feature on the watercolours of painters such as JMW Turner and Towne completed in the 19th century as young men went on their Grand Tours of Italy.

 

 

The Roundup #26

Again, I’ve been remiss and did not post my weekly roundup last weekend. Partly due to my mother’s birthday at the end of the month and partly due to the appalling regularity with which I’m suffering migraines this winter in Toronto, I was nowhere near my computer.

So here – yet again – is a consolidated list from the past two weeks of all the interesting bits of news from the archaeological world.

From Archaeology.org:

A tomb has been discovered in Pompeii that dates to before the Roman people took over the town from the Samnites and includes grave goods for a middle-aged woman including beautiful – and intact – vases.

A study of cat remains in China from the fourth millenium BC suggests that the animals were domesticated there much earlier than originally believed.

A specific type of clay from British Columbia in Canada – and long used for medicinal purposes among the area’s indigenous peoples – has been found to counteract otherwise antibiotic-resistant infections.

A 60-foot-long boat has been discovered in the necropolis at Abusir in Egypt by members of the Czech Institute for Archaeology.

Research into the socio-cultural practices of homo heidelbergensis show that these hominid groups existed in close family groups and were able to construct tools considered much more complex than previously thought.

A nearly intact section of Roman painted wall panelling has been discovered near Lime Street in London by archaeologists from the Museum of London. The Smithsonian has also reported on this here.

An Egyptian seal has been discovered by a hiker near the Lower Galilee region of Israel.

And excavations have revealed an underground church in Cappadoccia in Turkey containing some beautiful and very unique frescoes. Work will continue in the spring after the seasonal humidity returns to acceptable levels.

From the New York Times:

A light show intended to demonstrate the colours used to paint the Temple of Dendur is currently on at the Met in New York.

From ASI:

A great read: the archaeological history of the Wendat to 1651.

From the Smithsonian:

A summary of the appalling, botched repair job of the death mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

The Roundup #24

Here’s my attempt to get back into the regular routine of posting once a week. So here’s this week’s roundup.

From Archaeology.org:

Westminster Abbey in London, England has an extensive and mighty history. In December, evidence of the removal of bones from the site before construction began are being catalogued and studied to give archaeologists a better idea of what life was like in the area around about the turn of the first millenium.

Paintings from the Chauvet-Pont-D’Arc caves in France have some scientists thinking that the ancient peoples who created these magnificent works of art also depicted the oldest known artistic representation of a volcanic eruption.

Scientists are creating 3-D images of rock art from the Italian Alps dating from the Iron Age and the early Neolithic period.

The 2012 discovery of a mammoth carcass in the Eurasian Arctic suggests that humans were hunting in that region 10,000 years earlier than previously thought.

While searching for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean, Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre have identified a 19th century shipwreck.

The burial site of Han Emperor Jing Di has revealed the oldest evidence for tea, and in China no less.

Italian and Russian archaeologists have identified Nubian inscriptions at a temple site in the Sudan, offering new information on the relations between these peoples and the ancient Egyptians in the area.

Archaeologists have discovered the best preserved Bronze Age village ever found in England. NPR has a feature on it here.

A 2,200 year old prosthetic has been discovered at a burial site in western China.

The only ninth-tenth century artefact found underwater in Poland has turned out to be a wicker fish trap, with the remains of over 4,000 fish in Lake Lednica.

 

From The Guardian:

The largest – and as yet unnamed – dinosaur ever found, part of a subset of sauropods called titanosaurs, is now on display at the American Museum of Natural History.

 

From Biblical Archaeology:

I may have already posted this but, here goes: archaeologists working in Turkey have discovered Pluto’s Gates at Hierapolis, said to be a gateway to the underworld.

The Roundup #22

So I vanished for a few weeks. Netflix released their new series Jessica Jones. What was I to do? Just ignore that fact and forge ahead? Nope.

Here’s a roundup from the last two weeks. It’s been relatively quiet… Like the archaeological world knew I’d be distracted by dark Marvel storytelling…

From Archaeology.org:

Uniqueness will always be celebrated, even when that celebration is a sacrifice and entombment, as has been discovered in northern China where a golden or palomino horse was buried with its owner.

Evidence of sewing machines from San Francisco’s chinatown destroyed in the earthquake of 1906 have revived research into the city’s 19th century past.

A massive Bronze Age settlement has been discovered in Scotland.

I feel like I’ve heard about this before, but aerial mapping of the site of Angkor Wat shows that the complex is much larger than originally thought.

A 12th century castle has been discovered under the exercise yard of Gloucester Prison which closed in 2013.

Sicily’s Valley of the Temples is being surveyed, showing that these large structures were aligned with major thoroughfares and constellations in the sky.

From The Guardian:

Archaeologists believe they have discovered the tomb of Suleiman The Magnificent, the longest ruling sultan of the Ottoman Empire, in Hungary.

The Roundup #9

It’s been a hell of a week for editorial cartoonists in Canada. One day, these will be part of the archaeological work of some great doctoral student.

In the meantime, work is underway to explore the possibility that the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, wife of Akenaten and possibly pharaoh in her own right, may have been buried in a series of rooms off the small burial space of King Tut himself. Archaeology.org and the BBC have reported on it, as well as, surprisingly enough, The Economist (this article includes details on the theory postulated by Nicholas Reeves). I expect there will be more articles with the famous bust of Nefertiti, on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin, as the lead photo in the days and weeks and months to come. One thing I’d like to know: why would the ancient Egyptians have wanted to hide her burial chambers?

However, the highlight of the week for me personally was this article on the 6th century BCE sanctuary discovered on the Palatine in Rome. I’ve wandered past dig sites there that were cordoned off from public dalliance, and imagined the wonders beneath the hill ever since the first images were broadcast during initial tests of an area now called the Lupercal.

And with that, here’s this week’s roundup.

From the Beeb:

Archaeologists and scholars are working to decipher a series of inscriptions from a mikveh in Israel. I’m not sure if this is the same ritual bath that was discovered by accident during home renovations, but I’ll be interested to see what ultimately comes of this.

From the Smithsonian:

A feature discusses the viability of tomb raiding in China (and, by extension, elsewhere).

Evidence shows that teenage girls have been language disruptors since at least Shakespeare’s day. Like, totes!

And the oldest existing colour illustrated printed book – a 1633 volume of a Manual on Calligraphy and Painting – has been digitized to both protect the original and to allow for further study. Check out what else was recently digitized using this remarkable new technique!

From Archaeology.org:

Work continues at a site in Denmark believed to be a Neolithic sun temple complex.

In the first of three shipwreck stories, a gun carriage from The London has been brought to the surface. This ship carried Charles II from the Netherlands in 1660 to restore the monarchy in England, and then exploded five years later when the explosives it was carrying ignited.

The bell from the HMS Hoodthe British flagship destroyer that was sunk by the Bismarck in the Denmark Strait in 1941 with the loss of all but three of over 1,400 lives, has been raised and will become part of a memorial at the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

And finally, the mystery of one of the cargo ships of the 19th century Baron de Rothschild may have been solved with the discovery of a ship of similar description off the coast of Israel.

Restoration work is underway to maintain the breathtaking Domus Aurea of Nero in Rome.

And a plague pit from the 17th century has been discovered during construction of the new high-speed Crossrail in England near Liverpool Street Station. To demonstrate the extreme nature of the epidemic that affected England at this time, The Guardian has created an interactive map of the plague victims uncovered during this construction project.

The Roundup #8

It’s been an eclectic week in terms of archaeological news about the ancient world (really, when is it not?). The most political of the news items that I saw was this: because of what the German Art Dealers Association calls their “special responsibility”, the German Minister of Culture is planning to put forward legislation to curb the smuggling of illegal antiquities from the Middle East, particularly those looted by ISIS. ISIS may be best known for the destruction wrought throughout Syria – against both people and antiquities – but it also funds its operations through the illegal sale of artefacts. Stopping or even hindering this is a huge step, as a group of academics are trying to do.

The Beeb reports that the British Museum is piloting a VR program for visitors to explore a Bronze Age roundhouse, with the potential to expand into a wide variety of other departments. I’ll look forward to see how this develops!

And with that, here’s this week’s roundup.

From Archaeology.org:

A mosaic floor depicting a menorah has been discovered in a Byzantine era synagogue at Horvat Kur in Israel.

Drinking with the fam’ has never been so apt as at this site in Tennessee where what was once a 1920s speakeasy has been revealed to be a Native American burial ground.

Discoveries on Jamestown Island continue with Irish pennies and the matchlock firing mechanisms from two muskets.

Remains of the monumental city gates of Gath in Tel Zafit National Park have been identified. The site, thought to be the Philistine city of Gath, the home of Goliath, was occupied in the 10th century BCE.

Petroglyphs discovered in Siberia may turn out to be the area’s oldest.

A series of pots and jars have been discovered at Edfu in Egypt, including some beautiful alabaster pieces.

And a mass grave in China may point to a prehistoric epidemic, forcing the people of the area to pile the bodies of victims in a house and burn it.

From the Smithsonian:

Scientists have developed a model to determine the nature of the earthquake that struck Nepal in April of this year. Their research has identified resonance waves in the basin around Kathmandu as the reason why taller buildings, which had survived previous earthquakes in the region, collapsed this time around.

Information has come to light about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery in 1990, which still remains unsolved. A $5 million reward is being offered for information leading to the recover of all 13 stolen pieces in good condition.

And the mystery surrounding an inscription on the blade of a medieval sword continues.

From Biblical Archaeology:

A neat review of the recent dig season at Tel Kabri, and the discovery of the oldest and largest wine cellar from the Ancient Near East.

And news about a new Iron Age settlement will be coming down the pipeline in due course. Stay tuned!

And from The Guardian:

A new exhibit in Paris will showcase artefacts recovered from a vast submerged site in Egypt. There are some stunning pieces here, so if you’re in Paris, I highly recommend going to see it!

This Neat Thing – 17th December 2014

So I’ve started watching the latest Netflix Original series Marco Polo. One of the things I love about television series and film based on historical characters and/or events is that I’m ultimately drawn to look up what is known to have happened and draw the stark comparison to the hilarity that ensues on screen.

We’ve all seen it before, whether it was the story of Julius Caesar, the Civil Wars, and the Rise of Augustus (HBO’s Rome), the Slave Revolt of Spartacus (STARZ’ Spartacus), the history of the Tudor family during the reign of Henry VIII (Showtime’s The Tudors), the world of Mary Queen of Scots before she was that (CW’s Reign), or the world of American folklore (Fox’ Sleepy Hollow). Artistic liberties are taken, story lines are embellished for dramatic effect, and characters are developed by some rather cleaner 21st century actors. And yet, we are drawn to these stories on screen as we (sometimes) are in history books and literature.

For example,  **SPOILER ALERT**, Kublai Khan does not kill his brother Ariq after hand-to-hand combat on foot (the Mongols were famously said to be born in the saddle and die there). He comes to an arrangement whereby Ariq is spared from death but loses much of his power after threatening Kublai’s own strongholds. Marco Polo (so far as we know from his Travels, at least) was not abandoned to the court of the Khagan by his father and uncle (points, though, for casting an actual Italian actor to play Marco; the accent draws contrast between the characters in a delightfully subtle way). More importantly – and perhaps this is where I enjoy the choice of liberties made by the writers and producers of the series – by the reign of Kublai Khan, the Mongol ‘Empire’ (more on the use of quotations later) was fractured and divesting itself of its uniformity. Rather, during the late 13th century, Kublai was consolidating power in Lower Mongolia and in China, while his brothers and cousins were in control of the Golden Horde based at Batu, Mongolia based at Karakorum, and elsewhere.

So the fact that Marco Polo addresses a relatively unexplored period of history for the western world (the conflict between the Mongol Khanate under Kublai and the Song dynasty in China that ultimately led to Kublai establishing the Yuan dynasty which would rule over China into the 14th century) is an appealing one. Remember when we learned about the different groups of people vying for power in China throughout the second millenium CE? No, neither do I.

As an extra bit of icing on the proverbial cake, do you remember the nervous, anxiety-ridden scientist in Danny Boyle’s film Sunshine? Guess what? That same guy, British actor Benedict Wong, is currently managing his weight quite effectively as Kublai Khan himself.

To cut a potential rant short, I’m enjoying the series so far. It’s not well written, it’s not well acted, it’s not well edited. But it does have me trundling over to the internets to find out what was actually going on back then, and learning something new is always neat.