Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Archaeological Headlines By JESSICA E. SARACENI
Thursday, September 28

2,000-Year-Old Terracotta Toys Discovered in Turkey

ÇANAKKALE, TURKEY—Toys and figurines have been recovered from the 2,000-year-old tombs of children in the ancient city of Parion in northwest Turkey, according to a report in The Daily Sabah. Hasan Kasaoğlu of Atatürk University said female figurines were found in girls’ tombs, while male figurines were found in boys’ tombs. Figurines representing animals and mythological creatures were also uncovered. Kasaoğlu thinks the toys may have been presented as gifts to accompany the children on the journey to the afterlife. A baby bottle was discovered in the same necropolis earlier this month. To read about another discovery in Turkey, go to “Let a Turtle Be Your Psychopomp.”

Wooden Sculptures Found at Peru’s Chan Chan

TRUJILLO, PERU—Archaeologist Cintia Cueva Garcia reportedly told Andina News Agency that four wood sculptures, a scepter, metal vessels, textiles, and winkle shells were uncovered at the Chayhuac An enclosure at Chan Chan, which is located on Peru’s northern coast. The fourth wood sculpture, found lying on a funerary platform, represents a male figure holding a cup at chest height. His face is covered with white clay. “It is common to find wood figures at Chan Chan, but what matters now is that we have found one [in a funerary context],” Garcia said. Such sculptures are thought to have been used to mark the tombs of important people. One of the four wood sculptures is female, which is also unusual, Garcia explained. For more, go to “Peruvian Woman of Means.”

New Thoughts on the Battle of Wood Lake

WOOD LAKE, MINNESOTA—The West Central Tribune reports that archaeologists Sigrid Arnott and David Maki, assisted by battlefield archaeologist Douglas Scott, have analyzed nearly two dozen pieces of ammunition recovered from the steep ravine and military road at Wood Lake Battlefield. On September 23, 1862, some 700 Dakota warriors, led by Little Crow and other chiefs, concealed themselves along the ravine and planned to ambush the 1,700 soldiers, led by Lt. Col. Henry Sibley, after they had broken camp and were spread out over the road. But the warriors opened fire when a number of members of the Third Regiment went out to look for food on the prairie just after daybreak. The positions of conical bullets, fired by the U.S. military, and handmade musket balls, shot by the Dakota, suggests that other members of the Third Regiment joined the fight. Sibley then ordered a retreat, under the cover of the Renville Rangers, a group of mixed-blood Dakota who had enlisted to fight in the Civil War. Arnott said the analysis also shows the final battle took place to the west, where the Dakota lacked the cover of the ravine and were vulnerable to Sibley’s artillery. For more on Civil War–era archaeology, go to “Life on the Inside.”

Additional Colossal Statue Pieces Recovered in Cairo

CAIRO, EGYPT—According to a report in Egypt Independent, German and Egyptian archaeologists have recovered two toes and the pedestal for the colossal statue of King Psammetich I that was discovered in Cairo’s Matariya neighborhood earlier this year. Psammetich I ruled for 54 years during the 26th Dynasty, some 2,600 years ago. The pedestal, which is engraved with a hieroglyphic inscription, was damaged by its long submersion in groundwater. The team has now recovered 40 percent of the statue. Additional pieces of the 30-foot-tall sculpture may still be uncovered at the site. To read about another recent discovery in Egypt, go to Afterlife on the Nile.

Wednesday, September 27

Nahuange Metalsmiths May Have Preferred Rose Gold

BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA—Live Science reports that Marcos Martinón-Torres of University College London and Juanita Saenz-Samper of the Museum of Gold in Bogotá examined 44 metal artifacts created by the Nahuange culture between A.D. 100 and 1000 in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range. The objects included nose pendants, necklaces, earrings, belts, and bracelets. They determined that the Nahuange artifacts had undergone a process of oxidation and polishing known as depletion gilding, which involves beginning with a mixture of gold and copper, and bringing the gold to the surface. Then the Nahuange metalsmiths are thought to have removed the gold surface in order to bring out the pink and orange color of the remaining metal. “That defies our expectations that the more golden the better,” Martinón-Torres said. For more, go to “Bronze Age Ireland’s Taste in Gold.”

Bronze Dog Statue Unearthed in England

BRISTOL, ENGLAND—According to a report in The Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review, two men discovered a hoard of Roman bronze artifacts in southwest England. Archaeologist Kurt Adams, Gloucestershire and Avon finds liaison officer, said the hoard dates to the fourth century A.D. and includes items that may have been deliberately broken, including small vessel fittings. A detailed statue of a standing dog with an open mouth was found intact. The “licking dog” may have been connected to a Roman healing temple located on what are now the grounds at Lydney Park, a nearby seventeenth-century country estate, or perhaps another undiscovered temple. To read about another discovery from Roman England, go to “London’s Earliest Writing.”

Boat Petroglyph Discovered in Northern Norway

NORDLAND COUNTY, NORWAY—According to a report in The Local, a 13-foot-long petroglyph depicting a boat was discovered in northern Norway by retired geologist Ingvar Lindahl. Archaeologist Jan Magne Gjerde of Tromsø University said the petroglyph is thought to be between 10,000 and 11,000 years old, based upon the height of water level marks on the rock where it was carved. Gjerde said the image shows the boat’s keel line and railing line, as well as the boat’s bows. For more, go to “The Church that Transformed Norway.”

1,000-Year-Old Victims of Human Sacrifice Found in Peru

LAMBAYEQUE, PERU—International Business Times reports that the remains of nine men of the Sican culture were discovered by a team of Peruvian and Japanese archaeologists at the site of Huaca de la Cruz, which is located in the Pomac Forest Historic Sanctuary in northern Peru. The men are thought to have been ritually killed some 1,000 years ago. The team also unearthed a metallurgy workshop and a tomb thought to have belonged to a member of the Sican elite. For more, go to “Letter From Peru: Connecting Two Realms.”

Tuesday, September 26

Viking-Era Weaver’s Sword Discovered in Ireland

CORK CITY, IRELAND—A wooden weaver’s sword has been discovered in southern Ireland, according to a report in RTE News. The tool, carved from yew, measures nearly 12 inches long and is decorated with carved human faces in the Viking style. Archaeologist Maurice Hurley said the sword dates to the eleventh century, and was found among 19 Viking-era houses with central hearths. “The sword was used probably by women, to hammer threads into place on a loom,” Hurley explained. “The pointed end is for picking up the threads for pattern-making.” A wooden thread-winder decorated with carved horse heads was also recovered. For more, go to “The Vikings in Ireland.”

Possible Outhouse Unearthed at Site of Paul Revere’s Home

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS—CBS Boston reports that an excavation at the site of Paul Revere’s home, which was built in Boston’s North End in 1711, has uncovered a four-foot-by-six-foot brick rectangle that may have served as a privy. “Typically what you would do is you would dig a big pit, you’d line it with bricks,” said city archaeologist Joe Bagley. “You typically would also line it with clay, because you didn’t want the contents to leach into your well.” The handle to an eighteenth-century German-made beer stein is the only item to have been found in the pit so far, but the outhouse could yield thousands of discarded artifacts, in addition to information on the health and diet of the Revere family. To read about a Revolutionary War–era discovery elsewhere in Massachusetts, go to “Finding Parker’s Revenge.”

8th-Century A.D. Royal Toilet Unearthed in South Korea

GYEONGIU, SOUTH KOREA—According to a KBS Korea report, an eighth-century A.D. toilet has been unearthed in a palace dating to the Unified Silla Dynasty in eastern South Korea. The toilet is made up of two rectangular slabs of stone on either side of an oval-shaped receptacle with a hole at its bottom. Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage researchers suggest users would have placed a foot on each of the rectangular stone slabs and squatted over the receptacle. Pouring water into the hole would have flushed waste down into the drainage system. To read about another recent discovery in South Korea, go to “Doll Story.”