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Archaeological Headlines By JESSICA E. SARACENI
Friday, May 25

Hawaiian Artifact Returned to Islands

HONOLULU, HAWAII—KHON2 News reports that a Hawaiian wooden carving thought to date to the eighteenth or nineteenth century will be handed over to the Bishop Museum. Known as a ki’i, or image, the 20-inch-tall carving represents the Hawaiian god Ku, who is depicted as a human figure wearing a headdress and standing in a warrior pose, with knees bent, calves flexed, and hands clenched at the back of the thighs. “It’s representative of the classic Kona style of ki’i that was carved most typically in the Kona region during the reign of Kamehameha I,” said Melanie Ide, president of the Bishop Museum. The ki’i is known to have been in a private collection in Europe since at least 1940. For more, go to “In Search of History's Great Rulers: Kamehameha I, King of Hawaii.”

Industrial Site Excavated on the Isle of Wight

ISLE OF WIGHT, ENGLAND—Volunteer diggers led by archaeologist Ruth Waller unearthed traces of chamber and bottle kiln floors at the site of the West Medina Mills, according to a report in the Isle of Wight County Press. In 1851, Charles Francis and Sons won the prize medal at the Great Exhibition for the Medina Cement created at the site, which is located near the River Medina on the Isle of Wight, off England’s southern coast. Portland cement was later made there. After 1944, the mill was used for cement storage and distribution. To read about a giant coin hoard discovered on Jersey, across the English Channel from the Isle of Wight, go to “Ka-Ching!

3,500-Year-Old Inscriptions Documented in Egypt

WARSAW, POLAND—According to a Science in Poland report, inscriptions on the rocks near the temple of Hathor at Gebelein, located in southern Egypt, have been documented and translated by researchers led by Wojciech Ejsmond of the University of Warsaw. Temples dedicated to Anubis and Sobek have also been located in the region. Many of the hieroglyphs, which were engraved into the rock, or engraved and then painted, are prayers that were written by scribes and, in some cases, signed. “We know Egyptian beliefs primarily from official texts from monumental temples and tombs, made for royals and elite members,” Ejsmond explained. These inscriptions, however, offer a glimpse into the popular religious beliefs of priests and pilgrims. The inscriptions have been difficult to see and study because the shape of the hill where they are located has changed over the years, putting the faded texts out of easy reach. To read in-depth about Egyptian tomb paintings, go to “Emblems for the Afterlife.”

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Thursday, May 24

Mound Builder Land Use Analyzed in Louisiana

URBANA-CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS—Fox News reports that Jayur Mehta of the University of Illinois and Elizabeth Chamberlain of Vanderbilt University examined Grand Caillou, a mound builder site in coastal Louisiana, through sediment coring, radiocarbon dating, optically stimulated luminescence dating, and analysis of ceramics in order to investigate how and why mound builders chose building locations. The study suggests the mound was built on a natural levee on a major lobe of the Mississippi River Delta that was a few feet higher than the surrounding landscape. Distinct layers, including clay placed at the bottom, looser sediments in the middle, and a clay cap placed on top of the mound increased its durability. Pottery at the site dates to between A.D. 1000 and 1400. The village, which supported about 500 people, had been established by about A.D. 1200. Ratios of carbon isotopes indicated saltwater incursion of the area could have led to the abandonment of the village by A.D. 1400. Many of Louisiana’s coastal mounds are now being lost to erosion. For more on mound builder sites, go to “Off the Grid: Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, Texas.”

Ancient Kangaroo Feast Found in Australia

PILBARA REGION, AUSTRALIA—According to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation report, a cave in northwestern Australia has yielded evidence of a campfire and kangaroo feast that may date back 20,000 years. Charcoal from the fire pit will be radiocarbon dated to confirm its age. Stone tools and flakes found near the charcoal may have been used to butcher the kangaroo. “We’ll have to have a look at them under the microscope, but they are the pieces that people were using at the site,” said Michael Slack of Scarp Archaeology. Traditional land owner Garren Smith said stories about the cave have been passed down through the generations. “It’s good that they are doing this and getting the records, having a look at how old things are,” he said. For more on archaeology in Australia, go to “Death by Boomerang.”

Wednesday, May 23

Neolithic Site Found in Cyprus

THESSALONIKI, GREECE—According to a Cyprus Mail report, a team of researchers led by Nikolaos Efstratiou of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki has found a Neolithic site in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains, which are located in the center of the island of Cyprus. A hunter-gatherer site, found nearby, has been under excavation as well. The scientists are waiting for dating test results, but they think the region had long been in use by mobile groups of people, perhaps as a stop between the coast and the mountains, until they eventually built a permanent settlement in the Neolithic period. To read about a mosaic found on Cyprus, go to “And They’re Off!

Greco-Roman Bath Site Unearthed in Egypt

GHARBEYA, EGYPT—Ahram Online reports that sections of a large red-brick building have been unearthed at the San El-Hagar archaeological site in northern Egypt by a team of researchers led by Saeed El-Asal of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. The building is thought to have been part of a Greco-Roman bath complex. Pottery, terracotta statues, bronze tools and coins, a stone engraved with hieroglyphs, and a small statue of a lamb have been recovered, in addition to a gold coin minted during the reign of King Ptolemy IV (244-204 B.C.) in honor of his father, Ptolemy III, whose portrait appears on one side.  A horn of plenty and the king's name adorn the obverse. To read in-depth about tomb paintings in Egypt, go to “Emblems for the Afterlife.”

Spanish Galleon Wreckage Discovered Off Coast of Colombia

CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS—CBS News reports that the wreckage of San José has been discovered under 2,000 feet of water off the coast of Colombia by a team of researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Maritime Archaeology Consultants, Switzerland AG, and the Colombian government. The ship, a three-masted Spanish galleon carrying 62 guns and a cargo of ceramics, gold, silver, and emeralds, sank in 1708 during a battle with British ships that was part of the War of Spanish Succession. The ship was identified by its engraved bronze cannons, which were first spotted on the sea floor by research engineer Jeff Kaeli of WHOI using the REMUS 6000, a remotely operated vehicle carrying cameras and sensors. “I’m not a marine archaeologist, but ... I know what a cannon looks like,” he said. “So in that moment, I guess I was the only person in the world who knew we’d found the shipwreck.” The government of Colombia plans to build a museum and conservation lab to preserve and display San Jose’s artifacts. To read about pages of a book found in a shipwreck, go to “The Pirate Book Club.”

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