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Archaeological Headlines By JESSICA E. SARACENI
Wednesday, June 8

Spain’s Cueva de Ardales May Have Held Symbolic Value

MÁLAGA, SPAIN—Cosmos Magazine reports that a review of artifacts and more than 50 new dates obtained from the layers of southern Spain’s Cueva de Ardales indicates that the cave was not used as a campsite, but was periodically visited for the creation of rock art and the burial of the dead from the Palaeolithic period through the Neolithic period. The international team of researchers, led by José Ramos-Muñoz of the University of Cadiz, suggests that the cave was probably first used by Neanderthals more than 65,000 years ago. The oldest artworks in the cave, including dots, finger tips, and hand stencils made with red pigment, have been dated to more than 58,000 years ago. Modern humans then used the cave some 35,000 years ago, after the disappearance of the Neanderthals some 40,000 years ago. Burials dated to the end of the last Ice Age, some 12,000 years ago, were also unearthed. Modern humans continued to use the site sporadically until about 7,000 years ago, the researchers concluded. For more on Neanderthal finds from Spanish caves, go to "Neanderthal Medicine Chest," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of 2012.

1,000-Year-Old Aztatlán Burials Uncovered in Coastal Mexico

SINALOA, MEXICO—According to a statement released by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, an excavation at the port of Mazatlán ahead of a construction project has uncovered burials of the Aztatlán culture dated to between 900 and 1200 A.D. Archaeologist Víctor Joel Santos Ramírez said that the site in northwestern Mexico was once a natural high point in the landscape of estuaries. Many Aztatlán burials consist of human remains placed inside pots, he added, but these poorly preserved remains were found under a layer of shell debris and accompanied by ceramic artifacts. An unknown Aztatlán settlement probably stood nearby, he added. For more, go to "Under Mexico City." 

Tuesday, June 7

Passageways Discovered at Peru’s Chavin de Huantar Temple

LIMA, PERU—According to a Reuters report, a new network of passageways has been found under the Chavin de Huantar temple, which is located in the north-central Andes. Archaeologist John Rick of Stanford University said that form of the construction of the passageways suggests that they are older than the 3,000-year-old temple, which is thought to have served as a religious and administrative center for the the people of the pre-Columbian Chavín culture. The new passageways are thought to connect to a system of least 35 other underground passageways in the area. For more on archaeology in Peru, go to "Idol of the Painted Temple."

Industrial Wool Production in Bronze Age Italy Investigated

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN—According to a statement released by the University of Gothenburg, wool may have been produced on an industrial scale in northern Italy during the Bronze Age. University of Gothenburg archaeologist Serena Sabatini said that large numbers of textile tools and the teeth of sheep and goats have been recovered from archaeological sites in the Montale region. Analysis of strontium isotopes extracted from the teeth, which helps determine where the animals originated, indicates that most of the animals were born and raised in the area. Sabatini notes that the Bronze Age sheep did not produce as much wool as today’s animals, and large flocks would have been required in order to weave simple cloth. This wool was likely exported in exchange for other goods, Sabatini explained. To read about a massive wooden pool where a Bronze Age culture in northern Italy performed water rituals some 3,500 years ago, go to "Italian Master Builders."

Iron Age Settlements Identified in Scotland

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND—According to a statement released by the University of Edinburgh, researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Historic Environment Scotland, and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre have identified more than 100 Iron Age settlements and small farmsteads in southwest Scotland, in the area between Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall, some 100 miles to the north. The Romans began construction of Hadrian’s Wall in A.D. 122, followed by the construction of the Antonine Wall 20 years later as they attempted to gain control of the northern end of the island. The team members used laser-scanning technology to begin their search in the area around Burnswark hillfort, where more Roman projectiles have been found than at any other site in Britain. In the past, research into the Roman campaign has focused on Roman camps, forts, roads, and walls, rather than on settlements occupied by the indigenous population, said Manuel Fernández-Götz of the University of Edinburgh. The new study will help scholars understand the highly organized landscape in which local people lived, explained Dave Cowley of Historic Environment Scotland. The Romans, unable to dominate Scotland, eventually drew back behind Hadrian’s Wall. To read more about Hadrian's Wall, go to “The Wall at the End of the Emire.”

Monday, June 6

First-Century B.C. Bronze Bed Burial Found in Northern Greece

KOZANI, GREECE—According to a Live Science report, a grave dated to the first century B.C. has been found in northern Greece. Areti Chondrogianni-Metoki of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Kozani said that the grave contained the remains of a woman who had been placed on a bed made of mostly of bronze with some wooden parts. Only the bronze has been preserved. The bed posts were decorated with images of mermaids and a bird holding a snake in its mouth, a symbol of the god Apollo. Gold laurel leaves, thought to have been part of a wreath, were found at her head. Gold threads on the woman’s hands may have been part of an embroidered covering, Chondrogianni-Metoki said. Four clay pots and a glass vessel were also found in the burial. At the time, the city of Mavropigi, known for its sanctuary of Apollo, was located nearby, he added.  To read about a richly appointed Bronze Age grave unearthed at the site of Pylos, go to "World of the Griffin Warrior."

Newly Identified Inscription Names Ancient Greek Students

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND—Ekathimerini reports that Peter Liddel of the University of Manchester and his colleagues have translated an ancient Greek inscription on a marble slab that has been housed in a storeroom at the National Museum of Scotland since the 1880s. “On seeing it we realized that this was not a copy of an already known inscription,” Liddel said. The text lists the names of 31 young men who attended the rigorous military academy in Athens known as the Ephebic College sometime between 41 and 54 A.D., during the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius. The men called themselves co-ephebes, or co-cadets and friends, Liddel explained. “It also gives us among the earliest evidence for non-citizens taking part in the ephebate in this period,” he added. The marble slab may have been displayed in the college to promote a sense of camaraderie at the school.  To read about a sanctuary on a Greek island that was home to an ancient mystery cult, go to "Secret Rites of Samothrace."

Maya Maize God Sculpture Discovered at Palenque

CHIAPAS, MEXICO—According to a statement released by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, a 1,300-year-old sculpture depicting the head of the Maya Maize God has been discovered at Palenque. Archaeologist Arnoldo González Cruz and conservator Haydeé Orea Magaña were removing fill from a corridor in El Palacio, or The Palace, when they found a three-walled receptacle. Under a layer of loose earth in the receptacle, they discovered the sculpture, which may have been displayed in a reflecting pond made of stucco to depict the god entering the underworld through an aquatic environment, reflecting his cycle of birth, death, and resurrection, Cruz explained. The researchers also found fragments of a ceramic tripod thought to have once supported the statue. The pond was eventually ritually closed: a section of its floor was broken, and the receptacle was filled with vegetables and the bones of quail, turtles, fish, dogs, shells, crab shells, ceramic fragments, figurines, obsidian blades, green stone beads, shells beads, seeds, and snails. Some of the bones had been cooked and bear teeth marks, indicating that a meal may have been part of the ritual. The cavity was then covered with loose stones, and a limestone slab was placed on top. The broken tripod was placed over a hole in the slab, followed by a semicircular bed of potsherds to support the sculpture. The entirety was then enclosed in earth and the three small walls. To read more about the Maya maize god, to to "Maya Maize God's birth."

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