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.
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!