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Archaeological Headlines By JESSICA E. SARACENI
Wednesday, January 13

Sultan’s Grave Discovered in Eastern Turkey

DIYARBAKIR, TURKEY—The Anadolu Agency reports that the grave of Kilij Arslan I, a Seljuk sultan who reigned from A.D. 1092 to 1107, was discovered during investigations ahead of construction work in eastern Turkey by a team of researchers from Dicle University. The team members also found the grave of the sultan’s daughter, Saide Hatun. To read about an Iron Age kingdom in southern Turkey, go to "Luwian Royal Inscription," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of 2020.

2,500-Year-Old Chu Artifacts Unearthed in Central China

YUEYANG, CHINA—Xinhua reports that artifacts dated to the middle of the Spring and Autumn Period (770–475 B.C.) have been uncovered at the Luocheng site in central China’s Hunan Province. The stoneware and pottery, produced by the Chu culture, were unearthed at a site where workshops, pits, and wells were also found. The site is thought to be one of the earliest Chu settlements in the region. The Chu state was centered in what is now Hubei Province to the south. To read about a lost city in northern China that dates back to 2300 B.C., go to "Neolithic City of Shimao," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of the Decade.

Anglo-Saxon Settlement and Cemetery Unearthed in England

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, ENGLAND—The Northampton Chronicle & Echo reports that an Anglo-Saxon settlement and cemetery, and Bronze Age barrows and burials, were discovered in England’s East Midlands during an archaeological investigation conducted by researchers from the Museum of London Archaeology ahead of a development project. Traces of more than 20 structures were unearthed at the Anglo-Saxon settlement site. Weapons, cosmetic kits, combs, thousands of beads, some 150 brooches, 75 wrist clasps, and 15 chatelaines were recovered from the more than 150 Anglo-Saxon burials. The Bronze Age site consists of three round barrows, more than 40 burials, and four buildings. “The excavations will help us understand the way people lived in both the Anglo-Saxon period, around 1,500 years ago, as well as the Bronze Age, nearly 4,000 years ago,” concluded team member Simon Markus. To read about a 4,000-year-old ringed sanctuary in Germany that had surprising connections to Stonehenge, go to "Stonehenge's Continental Cousin."

Tuesday, January 12

New Thoughts on Africa’s Middle Paleolithic Period

JENA, GERMANY—According to a statement released by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, researchers Eleanor Scerri of the Max Planck Institute and Khady Niang of the University of Cheikh Anta Diop and their colleagues have identified multiple Middle Paleolithic sites in Senegal dated to about 11,000 years ago. Such Middle Paleolithic tools found in eastern and southern Africa are usually dated to between 30,000 and 300,000 years ago, the researchers explained. The researchers point out that the region is surrounded by the Sahara Desert, rain forests, and river systems that may have isolated its people. The inhabitants of West Africa may have also experienced less extreme climate changes than people living in other parts of the continent, resulting in little need for changes in their toolkits. Genetic studies also suggest that African people lived in distinct populations at this time, Niang added. To read about tools in Kenya that may date to 3.3 million years ago, go to "Earliest Stone Tools," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of 2015.

Unusual Statue Unearthed in Mexico

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO—The Associated Press reports that a stone statue of a woman was unearthed in the region of Huasteca, which is located along Mexico’s Gulf Coast, by farmers who reported their discovery to National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) officials. Thought to have been carved between 1450 and 1521, the carving depicts a woman with an open mouth and wide eyes wearing an elaborate hairpiece. INAH archaeologist María Eugenia Maldonado Vite said the image may be a fusion of the goddesses of the Huastec people and women of high political or social status. No archaeological sites are known to exist in the area where the sculpture was found, so scholars think it may have been moved from its original location. To read about the remains of two historic residences that were recently uncovered in Mexico City, go to "Around the World: Mexico."

19th-Century Artifacts Found at Possible Tavern Site in Kentucky

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY—Workers excavating at the corner of Vine Street and South Limestone in Lexington unearthed a brick wall facing Limestone and a limestone wall facing Vine Street, according to a report in the Lexington Herald-Leader. The area has been heavily developed over the years and it was thought that no historical features were present at the site. Archaeologist Jason Flay said an 1857 map of the area shows a building that was expanded as the street changed over the late nineteenth century. By 1871 a railroad depot had been built. Stone lice combs, metal buttons, pottery, an Indian head penny dated 1863, a clay pipe bowl thought to have been made in Wales or Scotland, a decorative ceramic chicken head that may have been part of a pitcher or other piece of serving ware, a bone or ivory domino, copper chains, animal bones, and ginger beer bottles were also recovered from the site. “It could be that this was at one time a restaurant or a tavern,” Flay said, based upon the mixture of high-end and basic items. The historic records also show that the building was demolished in the late 1870s and a hotel constructed in its place to serve the railroad’s passengers. To read about a Union Army camp in Kentucky where enslaved men, women, and children struggled for freedom, go to "A Path to Freedom."

Tang Dynasty Murals Discovered in Northwestern China

XI’AN, CHINA—According to a Xinhua News Agency report, traces of murals painted during the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618–906) have been discovered in two tombs in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. In the first tomb, the murals depict northern tribesmen known as huren training horses and leading camels. Li Ming of the Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology said that an epitaph in the tomb indicates that its owner was an early Tang Dynasty official who was in charge of horses. The second tomb, thought to have been owned by a royal couple, contains a mural depicting musicians and dancers. To read about excavations of an early Chinese city in Shaanxi, go to "Neolithic City of Shimao," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of the Decade.

Monday, January 11

Study Examines Ancient Siberian Genomes

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN—According to a Science News report, evolutionary geneticists Anders Götherström and Gülşah Merve Kilinç of Stockholm University and their colleagues analyzed the genomes of 40 people who lived in eastern Siberia between 16,900 and 550 years ago, and compared their DNA to that of other ancient and modern peoples. The study suggests that some 8,300 years ago, a migratory event took place east and west of southern Siberia’s Lake Baikal, one of the largest lakes in the world. Then, in the region to the west of the lake, people continued to move, while people living to the east of the lake experienced less mobility over a period of thousands of years. The researchers also detected an association between 6,000-year-old remains from the Lake Baikal region and 4,000-year-old Paleo-Inuit remains discovered on Greenland. It had been previously suspected that the two groups could be related based upon archaeological evidence. Traces of the bacteria Yersinia pestis, which causes the plague, were found in the genes of a person who lived some 3,800 years ago in northeastern Siberia, and someone who lived west of Lake Baikal some 4,400 years ago. The researchers explained that this population seems to have decreased in size at about this time. Further study is needed, however, to see if the drop in population can be attributed to a plague outbreak, they added. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Science Advances. For more on the plague, go to "A Killer Bacterium Expands Its Legacy."

Researchers Reconstruct Royal Scythian Faces

NOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA—The Siberian Times reports that researchers have reconstructed the faces of a man and woman whose 2,600-year-old remains were discovered in southern Siberia in 1997. The man and woman’s skeletal remains were found in a wooden chamber in the Arzhan-2 burial mound, which also contained the remains of 33 other people, including five children, and the remains of 14 horses that had been adorned with gold, bronze, and iron trappings. The man and woman were buried in clothing encrusted with more than 40 pounds of gold decorations, and are thought to have been a Scythian king and queen, according to researchers from the Moscow Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology and the Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography. The team members used laser scanning and photogrammetry to build 3-D models of the ancient skulls and recreate parts of them that had not been preserved. The faces were then sculpted over the reconstructed skulls with clay. To read about burials of Scythian warrior women that were recently unearthed in western Russia, go to "Arms and the Women."

Bathhouse Dated to England’s Industrial Revolution Uncovered

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND—The Guardian reports that archaeologists from the University of Salford uncovered traces of a large Victorian bathhouse that opened in 1857 and served workers in Manchester’s textile and print industries for generations. The Italianate Mayfield baths featured ornate tiles and pools measuring more than 65 feet long. “As the city’s population boomed with factory workers, crowded and substandard living conditions gave rise to the spread of cholera and typhoid,” said archaeologist Graham Mottershead. “For those living and working around Mayfield, the Mayfield baths would have been a vital source of cleanliness and hygiene,” he explained. The building was bombed during World War II and was subsequently demolished. Tiles salvaged from the site will be preserved for future use. To read about a mid-nineteenth-century private social club and Turkish baths uncovered in Manchester, go to "World Roundup: England."