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Archaeological Headlines By JESSICA E. SARACENI
Thursday, September 16

Sculpture of Lord Ganesha Uncovered in Southeastern India

ANDHRA PRADESH, INDIA—The Hindu reports that a farmer in southeastern India discovered a twelfth-century sculpture of the Hindu deity Lord Ganesha while tilling his fields. Archaeologist Sivanagi Reddy said the Chola-period statue stands about one and one-half feet tall, and depicts Ganesha without a headdress, and seated in the lotus position on a lotus pedestal. Two of his four hands have been broken. The sculpture has been moved to the Kodanda Ramaswamy temple. To read about the development of hatha yoga around 1,000 years ago, go to "The Pursuit of Wellness: Balance."

Saudi Arabia’s Rock-Cut Camels Redated

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA—According to a BBC News report, a series of large-scale camel sculptures discovered carved into rock faces in northern Saudi Arabia three years ago are now estimated to be between 7,000 and 8,000 years old, based upon the analysis of erosion patterns and tool marks, and the dating of animal bones found at the site. Some 8,000 years ago, the now desert landscape was covered with grass and dotted with lakes, and the sculptures may have marked a meeting point for nomadic peoples. It had been previously thought that the sculptures were created about 2,000 years ago, based upon their similarity to rock art in Jordan’s ancient city of Petra. To read about rectangular complexes scattered throughout northern Saudi Arabia that date back as far as 7,000 years, go to "Around the World: Saudi Arabia."

Possible Parietal Art Discovered on the Tibetan Plateau

ITHACA, NEW YORK—Gizmodo reports that fossilized, individually placed handprints and footprints dated to between 169,000 and 226,000 years ago were found on the Tibetan Plateau near the Quesang Hot Spring and studied by an international team of researchers. The impressions, described by Thomas Urban of Cornell University as similar to those made by present-day children in fresh cement, are the oldest evidence yet found for the presence of hominins on the Tibetan Plateau. Based upon the size of the prints, they are thought to have been made by the feet of a seven-year-old modern human child and the hands of a 12-year-old modern human child. However, if the prints were created by another species of hominin, such as the Denisovans thought to have lived on the Tibetan Plateau at about this time, the estimated age of the artists may need to be adjusted. But can the prints be described as art? “It is the composition, which is deliberate, the fact the traces were not made by normal locomotion, and the care taken so that one trace does not overlap the next, all of which shows deliberate care,” explained Matthew Bennett of Bournemouth University. For more on archaeology on the Tibetan Plateau, go to "Denisovans at Altitude," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of 2019.

Wednesday, September 15

Anglo-Saxon Silver Brooch Recovered in England

SOMERSET, ENGLAND—BBC News reports that a metal detectorist has uncovered an early medieval brooch in southwestern England. The disc-shaped, Trewhiddle-style brooch, decorated with intricately carved, interlaced animals, has been dated to between A.D. 800 and 900. Researchers from the South West Heritage Trust investigated the site, but did not find any additional artifacts. “The fact that no further significant objects were found suggests that the brooch was lost or discarded into water, rather than deliberately buried,” explained Maria Kneafsey of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. To read about an Anglo-Saxon pendant unearthed in Norfolk, England, go to "Anglo-Saxon Jewelry Box."

Roman Sewer System Discovered in Turkey

DENIZLI, TURKEY—The Anadolu Agency reports that a Roman-era sewerage system was discovered in southwestern Turkey’s ancient city of Tripolis by a team of researchers led by Bahadir Duman of Pamukkale University. “The gigantic sewage system has dimensions that a person can easily enter and walk in,” Duman said. The system, which Duman described as a rare surviving example of Roman architecture and engineering, is more than five feet tall and two feet wide. To read about sanitation management in medieval Holland, go to "Letter from Leiden: Of Cesspits and Sewers."

Face of “Dutch Neanderthal” Reconstructed

LEIDEN, NETHERLANDS—According to a Live Science report, researchers from Kennis & Kennis Reconstructions have reconstructed the face of a young Neanderthal man, dubbed “Krijn,” from a piece of skull recovered from North Sea sediments collected off the coast of the Netherlands some 20 years ago. They used other Neanderthal skulls and previously collected data on Neanderthal eye, skin, and hair color to assist with the facial details. The young man is thought to have lived in Doggerland, the now-submerged region between the United Kingdom and continental Europe, between an estimated 50,000 and 70,000 years ago. Analysis of the piece of bone suggests he ate a diet heavy in meat, and that he had a small intradiploic epidermoid cyst above one eyebrow. Such tumors are usually slow-growing and benign, although they may cause swelling, headaches, dizziness, convulsions, visual problems, or seizures. Krijn’s bust is on display in the Netherlands' National Museum of Antiquities. To read about recent work to reconstruct hominin inner-ear anatomy, go to "Neanderthal Hearing."

Gupta-Period Temple Found in Northern India

UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA—The Times of India reports that researchers from the Archaeological Survey of India discovered two decorated pillars and a staircase at a temple site in northern India’s Bilsarh village during routine cleanup after the monsoon season. The title “Sri Mahendraditya,” which refers to the fifth-century A.D. Gupta ruler Kumaragupta I, was found in Shankhalipi, or shell script, on the staircase. The ornate script was used between the fourth and eighth centuries A.D. for names and signatures, according to archaeologist Vasant Swarnkar. The same inscription has also been found on a horse statue unearthed further to the east, near the border with Nepal. “The Guptas were the first to build structural temples for Brahminical, Buddhist, and Jain followers,” explained Manvendra Pundhir of Aligarh Muslim University. “Prior to that, only rock-cut temples were built.” This is only the third Gupta temple to be found. To read about a 2,000-year-old temple complex on Srirangam, go to "India's Temple Island."

Tuesday, September 14

Possible Prehistoric Campsite Uncovered in Northern Wyoming

SHERIDAN, WYOMING—According to an Associated Press report, ceramics, stone flakes, arrowheads, animal bones, and obsidian have been uncovered from a long-term, prehistoric camp at northern Wyoming’s Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site. The camp, which is located in a canyon, was supplied with fresh water from Medicine Lodge Creek and protected from extreme temperatures by the steep limestone cliffs. Wyoming state archaeologist Spencer Pelton said radiocarbon dating of the artifacts will help researchers determine when the Crow, who are also known as the Apsáalooke people, arrived in the region. “The findings of these types of excavations and research correlates with our Crow oral history, which dates from time immemorial,” explained Sharon Peregoy, who represents the Crow Agency and is a member of the Montana House of Representatives. Analysis of the chemical composition of the obsidian will help researchers determine where it originated, and thus where the people carrying it came from, Pelton added. To read about life in Wyoming's Wind River Mountains some 4,000 years ago, go to "Villages in the Sky."

Statue of Roman Emperor Hadrian Unearthed in Turkey

AYDIN, TURKEY—According to a Hurriyet Daily News report, six fragments of a marble statue of the Roman emperor Hadrian have been unearthed in western Turkey’s ancient city of Alabanda by a team of researchers led by Ali Yalçin Tavukçu of Atatürk University in Erzurum. The statue, estimated to be 1,900 years old, stood about eight feet tall. “The area where the statue fragments were found is the ancient parliament building,” said Umut Tuncer, Aydin Provincial Culture and Tourism Director. “It is one of the largest parliament buildings in Anatolia.” The statue is thought to have been erected in honor of one of the emperor’s visits to the region. To read about archaeology along Hadrian's Wall, go to "The Wall at the End of the Empire."