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Archaeological Headlines By JESSICA E. SARACENI
Tuesday, September 13

Nineteenth-Century Shipwreck Found in Arctic Waters

VANCOUVER, CANADA—A team from the Arctic Research Foundation claims to have found the wreckage of HMS Terror about 31 miles from the site where the wreckage of HMS Erebus was discovered in 2014, according to a report in The Guardian. Both ships and all 128 members of Sir John Franklin’s expedition to search for the fabled Northwest Passage to Asia were lost in 1848. The ship thought to be Terror was found standing upright and in pristine condition in Terror Bay, near the coast of King William Island, after Sammy Kogvik, a Canadian Ranger and Inuk hunter, told operations director Adrian Schimnowski that he had spotted what looked like a large pole—perhaps a ship’s mast—sticking up out of the sea ice while snowmobiling. The location is about 60 miles from the area where historians thought Terror had been crushed by ice. “Given the location of the find and the state of the wreck, it’s almost certain that HMS Terror was operationally closed down by the remaining crew who then re-boarded HMS Erebus and sailed south where they met their ultimate tragic fate,” said philanthropist Jim Balsillie, founder of the Arctic Research Foundation. Parks Canada has not yet confirmed the identity of the ship. For more on the discovery of Erebus, go to "Franklin’s Last Voyage."

Dogs and Guinea Pigs Unearthed Near Peru’s Central Coast

LIMA, PERU—Peru This Week reports that the remains of an additional ten dogs, two guinea pigs, and a person from the pre-Incan culture of Lima were found on the grounds of the Parque de las Leyendas zoo this year. “The cuy (guinea pig) of the Andes was a very important food source, and these dogs were buried next to their owners to serve as guides to reach the afterlife,” said archaeologist Lucénida Carrion. She added that some of the dogs had brown fur, while the guinea pigs were black. The dogs were wearing leashes and their legs had been tied. To read about another recent discovery in Peru, go to "Women in a Temple of Death."

Intact Figurine Unearthed at Neolithic Town in Turkey

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA—Ars Technica reports that an intact female figure carved from marble was recently unearthed at Çatalhöyük by a team of archaeologists led by Ian Hodder of Stanford University. Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced that the statue dates to between 8000 and 5500 B.C., measures about 6.7 inches long, and weighs about two pounds. For more on archaeology in Turkey, go to "Zeugma After the Flood."

Monday, September 12

Neolithic Snowshoe Found in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains

BOLZANO, ITALY—The Telegraph reports that a snowshoe discovered on the Gurgler Eisjoch glacier at an altitude of about 10,000 feet has been dated to between 3800 and 3700 B.C. The snowshoe, made of birch wood, was found by cartographer Simone Bartolini of Italy’s Military Geographical Institute in 2003 while he was mapping the border with Austria. Bartolini says that he thought the snowshoe might have been about 100 years old, but he recently realized that it could be much older and handed it over to archaeologists. The new date suggests that the snowshoe is about 500 years older than the frozen mummy known as Ötzi the Iceman, who was found in the same region about 25 years ago. Catrin Marzoli, director of the cultural heritage department for South Tyrol province, said at a press conference that the shoe is further evidence that well-equipped people were traveling through the Alps in the Neolithic period, perhaps hunting, fleeing enemies, or engaging in ritual activity. The snowshoe will eventually go on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, where the Ötzi's remains are housed. To read more about Ötzi, go to “Heart Attack of the Mummies.”

Marble Sarcophagus Found in Turkey

BURSA, TURKEY—The Daily Sabah reports that police officers looking for a stolen truck in northwestern Anatolia discovered a well-preserved sarcophagus decorated with lion-headed antefixes at the site of an illegal excavation in an olive grove. Archaeologists from Iznik Museum carefully finished uncovering the six-ton marble coffin, which they think dates to the second century A.D. The sarcophagus will eventually be displayed at Iznik Museum. For more on archaeology in Turkey, go to "In Search of a Philosopher’s Stone."

Radar Scans Detect Possible Royal Grave at Reading Abbey

READING, ENGLAND—BBC News reports that graves have been detected with ground-penetrating radar behind the high altar at the ruins of Reading Abbey, where King Henry I is said to have been buried in 1136. He founded Reading Abbey in 1121, and King Henry VIII sacked it during the dissolution of the monasteries in the mid-sixteenth century. A jail, a parking lot, a church, and public gardens are among the buildings that were later built on the site. Twelve archaeological digs to look for additional traces of the medieval abbey and the remains of the king are planned. For more, go to "Legends of Glastonbury Abbey."

Friday, September 09

Lion Carving Reused in Slovakia Manor House

JELŠAVA, SLOVAKIA—The Slovak Spectator reports that a carving of a lion was found in a wall of the Coburg manor house in central Slovakia. Viera Kozárová, coordinator of the restoration, thinks that the lion may have been a decorative element in a railing or a brick stove before it was reused in the brick wall, and placed just under the current building’s roof. “We’re guessing that it comes from the Renaissance period and maybe even older,” said Kozárová. The lion carving may be taken out of the wall and put on display in the manor house. For more, go to "The Many Lives of an English Manor House."

Traffic Dangers Force Closure of Neolithic Tomb in Scotland

ORKNEY, SCOTLAND—According to a report in The Scotsman, Maes Howe, a Neolithic passage tomb, and Tormiston Mill, a late-nineteenth-century water-powered mill, will close at the end of September due to safety concerns. The 5,000-year-old chambered cairn and the neighboring mill are located near one of the busiest roads on the Orkney mainland. Officials from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) have determined that it is dangerous for visitors to access the historic monuments from the parking lot. “We will of course continue to conserve the site, and hope to see a positive resolution so we can continue to let visitors enjoy a special place,” said David Mitchell, acting chief executive and director of conservation at HES. To read more about archaeology on Orkney, go to "Neolithic Europe's Remote Heart."

Cybele Statue Discovered in Turkey

ISTANBUL, TURKEY—The Daily Sabah reports that a statue of Cybele, the mother goddess of Anatolia, has been found in the Kurul Kalesi, a 2,300-year-old fortress on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. The marble figure was damaged, but it is still seated on its throne. “According to our research, the statue remained intact after the walls of the entrance of the fortress of Kurul collapsed during an invasion by Roman soldiers. This statue has also shown us that the fortress of Kurul in Ordu was a very important settlement,” explained Süleyman Yücel Şenyurt of Gazi University. The statue will eventually be moved to the archaeology museum in Ordu. To read about another discovery in Turkey, go to "In Search of a Philosopher’s Stone."

Byzantine-Era Stable Excavated in the Negev Desert

AVDAT NATIONAL PARK, ISRAEL—The Times of Israel reports that a 1,500-year-old stable has been found in a rock-hewn cave in the Negev Desert by a team of archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and DePaul University. The structure is thought to have been used by monks, who built stone walls in the cave and crafted stone basins to hold food and water for the animals. Crosses had been painted on the walls. A three-foot-deep layer of manure in the structure revealed that the stable was home to donkeys, sheep, and goats. The team also collected plant remains, including grape seeds, for analysis. The stable is thought to have been destroyed in the seventh century by an earthquake. To read about a recent discovery of Roman-era figurines off the coast of Israel, go to "Sun and Moon." 

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