Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Archaeological Headlines By JESSICA E. SARACENI
Thursday, December 22

Fragment of Engraved Stone Bowl Unearthed in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—A fragment of a 2,100-year-old engraved bowl was found in a ritual bathing complex in Jerusalem Walls National Park, according to a report in Jewish Business News. Hyrcanus, the name engraved on the bowl, is thought to have been a common one during the Hasmonean period. Esther Eshel of Bar-Ilan University said the bowl is one of the oldest chalk vessels found in Jerusalem. She and Doron Ben-Ami of the Israel Antiquities Authority explained that stone vessels were often used by Jewish people because they were considered to be vessels that could not become ritually unclean. For more on archaeology in Israel, go to “Sun and Moon.”

Unusual Burial Uncovered on Anglo-Saxon Island

LINCOLNSHIRE, ENGLAND—According to a report in The Grimsby Telegraph, a team of researchers from the University of Sheffield is continuing to investigate an Anglo-Saxon site in the village of Little Carlton that may have been an island monastery or trading post. Archaeologist Hugh Willmott said that the team recently found the remains of a person buried face down in a narrow grave. The body is thought to have been placed in the grave after it had started to decompose, since its legs are facing the wrong way. “A great deal of care has been taken in this burial,” Willmott said. “So this could be an individual who perhaps has died away from the site and been brought here to be interred here specially.” Such an individual may have been royalty or a holy person. The site has also yielded writing implements, hundreds of dress pins, a lead tablet bearing a woman’s name, imported glassware, and seventh- and eighth-century coins, and is thought to have been abandoned in the eighth century due to Viking raids. To read in-depth about an Anglo-Saxon kingdom, go to “Letter from England: Stronghold of the Kings in the North.”

Roman-Era Tombs Discovered in Western Turkey

KÜTAHYA, TURKEY—Hürriyet Daily News reports that three Roman-era tombs have been unearthed at a construction site in an area of western Anatolia known during the Roman period as Cotyaeum. Kütahya Museum director Metin Türktüzün said that the 2,000-year-old tombs each contained the remains of four or five people. The team expects to find additional tombs at the site. For more on archaeology in Turkey, go to “In Search of a Philosopher’s Stone.”

Transformed Celtic Harness Fitting Found in Norway

TRONDHEIM, NORWAY—Horsetalk reports that a piece of bronze jewelry found by a metal detectorist near the Trondheim Fjord may have been crafted in a Celtic workshop. The ornament, thought to have been made in the eighth or ninth century as a fitting for a horse’s harness, resembles a bird and has fish- or dolphin-shaped patterns on each of its wings. Holes were later placed on the bottom of the ornament. Traces of rust on its back suggest that it had been turned into a brooch with a needle. “A housewife in mid-Norway probably received the fitting as a gift from a family member who took part in one or more Viking raids to Ireland or Great Britain,” said Aina Margrethe Heen Pettersen of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She suggests that items brought back from the dangerous raids would have been treasured status symbols. For more, go to “A True Viking Saga.”

Wednesday, December 21

An Update on the Lechaion Harbor Project

CORINTH, GREECE—According to The Greek Reporter, a team of archaeologists from the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and the University of Copenhagen continues to investigate the ancient port of Lechaion, which served as Corinth’s main harbor for more than 1,000 years. The harbor complex had an outer harbor connected to a protected inner lagoon by a 650-foot-long canal built in the fourth century B.C. Topographic and geophysical surveys of the area revealed a large channel and several smaller channels connecting at least four harbor basins. Soil cores will help the researchers to learn more about the ancient landscape. The remains of a tower that protected the harbor entrance have been found, along with pieces of columns that may have been part of a colonnade lining the front of the harbor. A massive structure in the middle of the inner harbor is thought to have been the base of a lighthouse. The team also found an underwater wooden structure in the bay that may have been part of a pier. To read about another recent underwater discovery in Greece, go to “Antikythera Man.”

Human Remains Found at WW II Plane-Wreck Site in India

ARUNACHAL PRADESH, INDIA—Team members of the Defense Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA) traveled to northeastern India’s Lower Dibang Valley to search for the remains of U.S. soldiers who were killed during World War II. According to BBC News, more than 1,300 people are thought to have been lost in the region, primarily from aircraft crashes. The DPAA team discussed possible crash sites with local residents, who presented them with human remains recovered among plane wreckage. Additional remains were then recovered from the crash site. After approval from the government of India, the remains will be sent for study and possible identification at the DPAA laboratory in the United States. For more, go to “Archaeology of World War II.”

Retaining Wall Discovered in Ancient Egyptian Cemetery

ASWAN, EGYPT—Ahram Online reports that a six-foot-tall wall has been found near the rock-cut tombs of Qubbet Al-Hawa by a team of archaeologists from the University of Birmingham, the Egypt Exploration Society, and the Qubbet Al-Hawa Research Project (QHRP). The wall is thought to support Old Kingdom tombs located on the upper terrace of the cemetery. “This find is likely to change our understanding of the ancient funerary landscape of Qubbet Al-Hawa,” said project codirector Essam Nagy. Pottery fragments in the wall date to the reign of King Pepi II of the Sixth Dynasty (2278–2184 B.C.), as well as the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom. This indicates "the expansion of the cemetery during the latter parts of both periods,” explained Eman Khalifa of the QHRP. Last month, the group announced the discovery of Sarenput I’s funerary causeway at the site. Sarenput I was governor of the area at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom. General director of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities Nasr Salama thinks that additional tombs will soon be discovered at the site. For more, go to “A Pharaoh’s Last Fleet.”

Tuesday, December 20

Seal of Ottoman-Era Sultan Restored in Jaffa

JAFFA, ISRAEL—According to The Times of Israel, conservators at the Israel Antiquities Authority have restored a marble monogram, or tughra, that adorns the southern side of an Ottoman-era clock tower in Jaffa. A tughra incorporated the sultan’s name, titles, his father’s name and his blessings, and symbols of the Ottoman Empire. In 2001, three other marble carvings of Sultan Hamid Abdul II’s seal were removed from the tower and replaced with glass replicas, due to their poor state of preservation. The last of the carvings, positioned 36 feet above the sidewalk, was in danger of collapsing, so it was also removed. Conservator Mark Avrahami created a new support for the marble plaque, and used pigments to accentuate what remains of the image, before it was reinstalled. The tower is one of 100 that were built in the Ottoman Empire to celebrate the twenty-fifth year of the reign of Hamid Abdul II. To read about a recent archaeological discovery in Israel, go to “Sun and Moon.”

New Kingdom Relief Returned to Egypt

CAIRO, EGYPT—Ahram Online reports that a limestone relief removed from Queen Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir El-Bahari in the 1970s has been repatriated to Egypt. Shaaban Abdel-Gawad of the Antiquities Repatriation Department said that the relief fragment turned up at an auction in Spain and was identified with the help of researchers at the British Museum. The sculpture will be returned to its original place in the Luxor temple. For more, go to “A Pharaoh’s Last Fleet.”

New Thoughts on Banquo’s Walk

LOCHABER, SCOTLAND—Members of Lochaber Archaeological Society and staff from AOC Archaeology investigated “Banquo’s Walk,” a purported ceremonial route to Tor Castle, a stronghold whose residents claimed Banquo, a character from the Shakespearean play Macbeth, as an ancestor. BBC News reports that in the late nineteenth century, the Ordnance Survey Name Book listed the tree-lined site as part of a road alignment leading to the ruined castle. But the excavation failed to uncover a road surface or ditches. The new study suggests that Banquo’s Walk may have been a clay-mining site. “Looking at the surviving natural layers and after further excavation through the banks,” said Clive Talbot of the Lochaber Archaeological Society, “we realized that the surface of Banquo’s Walk had been lowered by the removal of these natural deposits and the banks had been built with the upcast.” The clay may have been used to line the Caledonian Canal, built in the early nineteenth century. For more on archaeology in Scotland, go to “Lost and Found (Again).”