The Roundup #18

Ahh what a glorious (goriest?) day for the final match of the Rugby World Cup! The second half has just started and, as I watch the battery on my laptop tick down, I’m looking through the week’s archaeological news and thought now would be a good time for my latest roundup. In between laughing over Nigel Owens’ fury over players doing “silly nonsense”, of course.

Here we go…

The biggest news of the week has got to be the discovery of the Griffin Warrior in Greece, a Bronze Age burial untouched for centuries.

And I love this story about garbage – specifically discarded cigarette butts outside pubs – and how, ultimately, all archaeological work is the study of garbage.

From History Today:

As we watch ISIS/ISIL cut a swath of destruction through the Middle East and beyond, the loss of Palmyra is hardly the only archaeological travesty. Yemen – the Biblical kingdom of Sheba – is suffering right alongside Syria, and its sites are at just as much risk.

From Archaeology.org:

The ongoing back-and-forth over human impact on the environment continues, with this latest argument that indigenous peoples along the Amazon river had little impact on the natural waterway, despite living in dense settlements.

A neolithic settlement has been discovered on Anglesey, off the coast of Wales, during the construction of a new school.

A feature on one of the biggest jigsaw puzzles in the world, as fragments found on the Akropolis in Athens are catalogued and scrutinized and scrutinized some more.

Bath never ceases to be a centre of civilization as an intact 18th century clay pipe kiln has been uncovered there.

The Buffalo Soldier case gets a feature as the issue of antiquities looting is back in the news. Not the Bob Marley song, the Buffalo Soldiers’ regiment was formed shortly after the end of the Civil War as the first US Army regiment composed entirely of African Americans. They were called Buffalo Soldiers by the Native Americans who met them.

From the Smithsonian:

The study of prehistoric animals continue, particularly in Siberia, with the discovery of not only Yuka the baby wooly mammoth but also cave lions (not nearly as cute as I’m sure everyone is now thinking they were).

From the Long Now:

Oral history is a powerful thing, as evidence from Australia shows. Aboriginal groups have oral stories that go back 10,000 years to describe changing sea levels and landscape changes over thousands of years.

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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!